I had a wedding to attend in the bay area this past weekend. (Yes the air was bad but the wedding was lovely.) As a result, I didn’t get out to ride for about four days.
I went out on Tuesday, expecting it to be a bit of a pain. Scarlet had sat for four days and I was going out super early, ie breakfast time. I wasn’t planning on doing more than just moving around because it wouldn’t be fair to either of us to push it.
Scarlet was a little surprised to see me out there but since I started grooming him in his stall, he didn’t get annoyed.
After tacking up, I noticed this in the jump arena:
So, naturally, I had to try it out. But only if Scarlet felt like it. If he was tight and too energetic from sitting, we would just push it to another day. He felt great and so I took us over the circle at a trot first. It’s a good thing I did because he decided the fence around the arena was spooky when looked at straight on.
After we ironed out the trot, I went to the canter. It was chunky. We got some odd distances and weird turns for a bit. After a while though, it smoothed out. We got one really good circle to the left. The right is his stiffer side and was much harder but he was working with me and trying to leave the ground where I brought him to, rather than adding strides to get right up to the fence. So I called it good for the day.
I hope those fences stay like that for a while. I’d like to try it again with the fences actually at a fence height that would make him jump rather than have a large canter stride. Yes, I know I could just move the fences around again later but I’m lazy. 😉
I’ve been riding pretty consistently except for these past few days. The lack of posts is probably more due to NaNoWriMo than anything. Once I’ve written upwards of 1667 words a day, it’s hard to convince myself to write more. Blog posts still use the creative section of my brain. Oh well. Nano is going well. I’m ahead of the par wordcount by a full day. It helps on the days that I can’t quite get the full word count. Onto riding news!
The clip seems to be working well. Scarlet dries a lot faster while we ride. We haven’t been doing too many night rides lately so I have plenty of time to cool him down. Since the days heat up still down here, I’m happy he has a bit less hair to deal with.
I’ve been focusing a bit more on transitions as they are just really bad. I’d like for us to be able to do them without Scarlet getting all tense and anticipatory. That’s a work in progress. I’m trying to make them less of a big deal and something we just do. It only works some of the time. The upward transitions are pretty good for the most part. The downwards are either super slow or he jolts onto his forehand. A work in progress. It’s good to have something to focus on though.
I haven’t jumped much recently. This week has been super windy. Monday night was horrible. I was considering doing a bareback ride but Scarlet was wired when I was grooming him. Definitely was not interested in taking a nose dive because I was stupid enough to choose the wrong tack.
After we got it together, I hopped on. We rode around the jumping arena with the lights on and Scarlet barely held it together by the edge of his shoes. He was trying really hard to look at everything but also listen to me. He spooked a bit and I didn’t want to push. He’d spooked into a mini bolt and as there was a tiny kid riding in a lesson, I didn’t want to scare her or have to steer a freaked out horse. After we got a basic w-t-c done, I called it for the day.
Wednesday, it was still uber windy so I did some lounge work with him. He spooked and never settled down. That’s not usual for him with the lounge.
Thursday it was finally less windy and we got a really good ride done. Lots of transitions, circles, and serpentines. He’s really resistant to bending to the right lately and I really need to work on that. But I was happy with his work. We did a loop of the trail as a cool down. He did try to jig about halfway through so I had to choke up on the reins and tell him we were walking down the sandstone hill, not trotting. Overall, he’s doing okay on the trail. I just need to get him out there more until it becomes a boring thing.
It’s depressingly hot down here in San Diego. We will get a few nice days of low 70s and then it decides to jump back to mid 80s. Scarlet is at a barn that is more inland so it’s always warmer no matter what. It’s getting to the point that we get soaking wet with sweat before our warmup is finished. Cooling out is difficult as it does cool down a lot at night and I don’t want to put him up wet.
Last year I shaved his neck and shoulders for the same reason. This year, I decided to do more of a modified trace clip and get some of his belly in there.
He doesn’t like the covered crossties where the power sockets are. For one, we never go up there so its a completely new place. Also, he can’t see very well out of that area so any sounds really set him off. I coaxed him in with a handful of baby carrots and got set up.
I have to say, every time I shave him, I’m very impressed with how politely he stands. He doesn’t stand still hardly at all when I’m just grooming him but as soon as I start shaving, the most he does is shift side to side to get some flies off of him. He is so well behaved. I had about half a bag of carrots and a pocket full of treats and he got all of them before I’d finished clipping.
It’s not the prettiest clip job in the world but its pretty good. It should do the job of keeping us cooler when we ride. I could have tried to clean it up some more but I was so done with clipping at that point. I have no idea how anyone ever does a full body clip. So much work!
I didn’t end up riding at all this last weekend and Monday. I’d signed up for a Jui Jitsu gym recently for a cheap 6-week membership. I ended up straining my neck muscles during the Saturday class. I thought it was from hitting my head on the mat ( I fell wrong during an exercise. Not badly cause my head didn’t hurt.) I thought I’d take Saturday off just to be careful as my neck was a little painful. I thought it was a bit of whiplash or something like that. Then I woke up on Sunday morning and OH. MY. GOD. My neck hurt.
On the pain scale, it was about a 7. Nothing sharp but it was so stiff and sore. I didn’t have the full range of motion I normally did. I took so much Advil and kept a rice sock heated and on my neck all day. Monday was much better but still a 1 or a 2. I figured out that it was muscle pain (probably from some headlock stuff we were doing for a self-defense move) but I didn’t want to risk doing any serious movement until there was no pain.
Tuesday, I headed out sometime after lunch to ride. Scarlet was… obstinate. He was responsive, more or less, to everything I asked but did it all with such attitude. I had to really get on him with the transitions to even get him moving at a reasonable pace during the ride. He was stiff on all sides. It wasn’t a horrible ride but he was not feeling it.
Since I haven’t been consistent in riding the last couple of weeks, I figured I’d give that ride to him. It wasn’t worth it to really get mad at him if its partially my fault for not actually working him.
Thursday I went out and he was still not really willing. He was super belligerent with ignoring anything my right leg told him to do. Moving off it required serious spur before he’d even think about it. The right leg had been the harder leg to get him to move off of for a while now but it has not been this bad.
Hopefully, my schedule will normalize a bit and I can ride more. I am going to have to think about the right leg deadness and figure out what I’m going to do about it. Its infuriating during a ride but I’m not sure I really know what do to. I’ll have to try to flip through some riding books and do some google searching. If any of you guys have things to try, please let me know.
Short post due to personal reasons today. I did have one thing that I wanted to talk about though.
Holly has been after me to jump bareback. She loves doing it and thinks that it really improves your base. I don’t necessarily agree with her but I’m terrible at bareback riding in general. I never did it growing up and honestly probably have less than 20 rides as an adult. I’m doing it more often but its still a work in progress.
Friday, I finally decided to hop over the tiniest fence. I didn’t die. I didn’t even come close. Personally, I think Scarlet was making it easy for me because the jump felt smoother than normal. Probably won’t be jumping oxers bareback anytime soon but it was cool to make another tiny milestone.
I ended up not riding at all this weekend. I got a mailer for 6 weeks at a Jui Jitsu gym in the neighborhood and decided to sign up. My first class was on Saturday and I was so freaking sore that I didn’t want to move for the rest of the weekend.
Monday I was still sore so riding was quite interesting. My legs screamed at me when posting. I wanted to try some more lateral work but during the warmup this time. I’m not sure if it was better or worse than if we’d done it after warming up. I did hop over a couple of the smaller jumps at the end of the ride for fun but I didn’t want to do too much as we’ve been jumping a lot lately.
Tuesday we jumped again with Holly. There was a large cross rail already setup. It was definitely higher than i normally set it and I was excited to try it. I changed another single jump to a vertical. We’ve been doing more cross rails recently and I want to make sure that we are doing “harder” fences now. Since there was a measuring tape lying around. I decided to measure it. It was between 2’3″ and 2’6″. That’s seems so high when standing next to it. I ended up not actually jumping it though it’s the same height as the white line. Not on purpose, just that it wasn’t one of the jumps I ended up going over. I feel silly when I change a jump and then end up not using it. What a waste of effort. I also set up a smaller oxer. There was one that was set up already but it was around 3′. Definitely too big for us.
I’d warmed up before changing the jumps around. We started off with the small cross rail a few times. Then I aimed us at the large crossrail. We ended up with no freaking momentum. It was an awkward jump. But we did it again and it was a much nicer jump. The first time we headed to the oxer, I was a bit anxious about it as I expected something stupid like not taking the long spot again. Being hesitant caused us to come in with less of a quality canter than I wanted. Scarlet jumped it nicely despite that. Since it went well, I immediately cantered around again and wasn’t worried about it at all this time. We hit it better and then went on the bending line to the small crossrail. Both of those jumps he took a longer spot and jumped well. Super confused as to why he didn’t want to do the long spot with the other line. Horses. They are weird sometimes.
Thursday Holly and I went on a trail ride. I was having a bad day and wanted something simple. Scarlet behaved himself quite well right from the bat. Though he did try to nip Uno’s butt and basically wanted to move to the right until we were mooshed right against Uno’s side. Such a silly boy. He loves Uno so much its so silly. We looped around the base of the hills twice. On the first round, we did a little hill off to the side of the normal path. It was pretty wide and steep. Very good for horse butts. I’d like to try to do it more as a muscle building exercise. AS we were heading back down the hill, a noisy ups truck went by making a whistling noise and the horses freaked. Uno tried to bolt and Scarlet danced in place. He kept it pretty contained though and came back to me well. We finished the second lap without any issues so I was pretty happy with him. Such a good boy sometimes.
With the new jump setup, I was super excited to go riding on Friday. Holly and I were planning on trying them all out. But when I got out there, I had another surprise. The barn owner had redone the footing! The footing had had some deep places and was piled up against the kickboards around the arena. When I got there on Friday, it had been moved around and was now a uniform three inches thick. She had also had the round pens redone and the other two arenas are next. It was fantastic! It even felt fantastic when we were riding around. The footing in the jump arena had always been better than the rest of the arenas but it was noticeable that there was no floundering due to deeper footing. All the hard spots where the old jumps had been had been drug out as well.
Holly had set up the jumps as I was pulling in. They were set low because she wasn’t sure how high I wanted them. I have been really conservative with the height I’ve been using. I need to set them higher next time. Scarlet can handle it. I’m not going to just set them at three feet or anything but I’d like to set larger cross rails and inch up the verticals until I get a feel for how high is comfortable for the both of us.
After warming up, we started jumping. I did a few trotting jumps of the cross rails. I need to put some trot poles in front of these jumps and get us moving forward to those. We lose all steam unless I shove him at the jumps. He is either not comfortable with trotting a jump or is just lazy. I’m not sure. After that, we tried a bending line from a cross rail to a small vertical. It rode in an easy eight and was quite fun. We did it again and got a bit more forward as Scarlet was getting excited so it rode in a seven then. There’s lots of potential fun with this new line.
I wanted to try the other long side line. It was set at a three-ish stride. It used a vertical and then the gate fence we have. The vertical was actually set about two holes higher than I normally set the poles and it rode fine (there’s my gage for how to set the rest of the fences, lol). But the whole line didn’t ride well. Scarlet is small and has pony strides. I did ride forward into the line with our jumping canter but we got it in three and a chip. It was a bad chip but Scarlet is good and got us over. When I’d caught my breath, I decided to try again.
I pushed when we landed in the line and we were moving to a nice long position for the gate. It wasn’t high, we’d jumped this exact fence many times before so I was sure we could make it. It was a long takeoff but it was a comfortable one. Scarlet decided no. He put basically a 3ft fourth stride in there. We lost all momentum and he somehow got us over the fence. I levitated out of the saddle. Literally, straight up like a foot out of it and came down hard on his back. I seriously thought I was going to come off. It spooked me quite a bit because it was a really bad decision from Scarlet to take that extra stride. Even Holly was confused as to why he didn’t take it. I didn’t try that line again. I think I’m going to try the line at some later date with just poles where the second fence was and try to get the three strides where all Scarlet can do is trip over some poles.
They kept the triple fences but moved them to the middle of the arena. They were on a 10′-21′ bounce to one stride. I was a bit concerned about this as I’d never done a bounce. Holly tried it first. She chose to trot in and canter out. It rode okay. She got a better stride with more of a push the second time through. I figured it looked okay but I was going to canter in since we are terrible at trot fences anyway.
I cantered us around the corner on a good stride. The stride before the first fence, Scarlet darted to the right. It felt like he’d been surprised by the jumps so I wasn’t mad. I actually asked him, “What? Did those surprise you?”. I circled us around and we headed for it again. He darted to the right again. I gave him a smack this time as he had no excuse for doing that. I represented and we trotted in. We trotted the second fence and cantered out on two strides. Small horse…
We did that a couple more times and managed to get the canter off the first fence but still had the two strides coming out. It was getting late at that point so I decided we could call it a night. We jumped a lot of new fences and had fun. We have a bunch of things to work on and I think it will be good for us to have new fences to play with. My fingers are crossed that moving fences becomes a much more common thing than once every two years at my barn.
This last week or two have been extremely stressful with work. My team is having issues getting work done in the time they are expecting (not fully our fault as things start to explode in our face without really being anything we can control) and so management is scrutinizing all of us closely. This does not make for a comfortable work environment. Riding has been less working on improving specific things and more on just moving around and spending time with my horse. It’s all my little stressed out brain can handle at the moment.
Tuesday was the day after my lesson. I had thought initially about trying out the circle exercise with the fences but scrapped that when a lesson started working in the jump arena. It’s not worth trying to compete for space there. I decided that I didn’t want to do much more in the arena after my warm up. I haven’t done any dedicated two-point work for the past few days so I thought I’d do some walking two-point work around the barn. It’s good practice and more interesting than just walking circles in the arena.
We headed around the barn and as we approached the trail, I thought we’d go down it a bit and then turn around. We headed out and Scarlet started to trot. I wasn’t expecting it but I wasn’t going to fight it. We headed out, got past some dirt mound and then he spun away. I almost lost my balance but managed to sit and pull him up. It was unusual for him. He doesn’t love the trail but he’s not tried to bolt and spin away from it in a long time.
We worked up and down that one section of the trail for a handful of minutes. I’d urge him forward and then he’d try to spin and go sideways back to the barn. I’m surprised thinking about it later but I didn’t get frustrated. I was frustrated but I wasn’t upset with him. I didn’t spur him except to stop the mindless sideways movement. I urged him a step or two forward and then I asked him to stop. It worked eventually and we made it down to the old turning point in the trail. It was a little disappointing that he freaked at the trail but there are a lot of factors:
We haven’t been on the trial in a while. He needs repetition/habit to keep himself happy with whatever we are doing.
We hadn’t worked super hard so he was pretty energetic still.
It was dusk so there were weird shadows all over the place
There was a weird bush that had grown and appears suddenly when walking past the dirt piles
There was a horse in the back arena and he was loathe to leave the company
Any of those could have been the cause. I think the important thing was I managed to maintain my zen and work him through it without muscling him through the panic.
Thursday, Holly texted me that they were moving the jumps around in the arena. They haven’t changed the design of the jumps in there since I moved in so it was pretty exciting. There are a bunch of new lines and a bunch of singles that can be easily looped together for fun exercises. I didn’t tackle all of them as I was exhausted but we popped over one jump in a circle a few times for fun.
As we were cooling out, I took us down the trail to about the halfway point and then turned around. Scarlet was a bit worried but there weren’t any fights so I count that as a win.
Holly and I are planning on jumping a lot on Friday so I’m super excited for that!
Recently my trainer and my schedules hadn’t lined up to for a lesson. Monday they finally did! I arrived at the barn ad 4:30 and ended up having to wait. There were some itty bitty kids who were supposed to have shown up an hour earlier for their walk trot lesson that were just getting on then. It’s slightly annoying but I didn’t have anything else planned for the night so I sat waiting.
Brad had just been flatted before I got there so he was eating some hay in his stall. I didn’t want to pull him away from his dinner until the very last moment. I’d just dealt with Scarlet attitude the day before due to riding while it was dinner time. I really didn’t want to have to deal with another horse having attitude.
Sitting in the barn turned out to be quite amusing. I overheard a ton of things from the teens in there. One girl complained that her stomach hurt too much to clean out the hooves of her pony and got another girl to do it. I offered her some antacids but she said she was just really hungry. (WTF? I don’t think I’ve EVER been too hungry to care for my horse on my own) This brought up that another girl hadn’t cleaned Brad’s feed (or the sweat marks) after riding him just before me. She said she’s never cleaned his feet. (KIDS ARE THE WORST SOMETIMES!) Another girl was bemoaning how her horse search wasn’t going anywhere. Her budget was $3000 and the horse needed to be able to go around a 2’9″ course with room to grow. She wasn’t finding anything good and kept shooting down names the other kids suggested with comments of “He/she’s the worst.”
At about ten minutes till I needed to ride, I got Brad all situated and walked out. He’s always got a mare glare going but he had an extra few wrinkles in his nose at being taken out again so soon. I told him he’d have to just suck it up. We warmed up while the tinies finished their walking cooldown. After a bit of walk and trot, we trotted over some ground poles with the goal of maintaining an even pace in between them. We did the same at the canter. It wasn’t perfect the first time through but I got the hang of supporting with both legs just the right amount after that.
Trainer D started us off with a really good exercise that I’m totally going to attempt to implement with Scarlet. We started by going over the lower blue fence in the picture on the left lead. We approached it on the long angle from the top of the arena. My goal was to then turn left, circle around between the grey and top blue fence and approach it again. It ended up with a circular track on the second approach. The first time I went over, I didn’t trust myself or Brad to make the left turn and we ended up awkwardly going around the brown fence to the right. The second time, I looked to the left in midair and steered. We made the turn and it was very nice. We did it to the right with the top blue line coming between the tan fences and then circling around the gray and brown fences.
After getting the warmup fences down, Trainer D laid out a small course. She wanted me to come down the brown line in five strides on the right lead, head up to the upper grey fence, land on the left lead and if it was all going well to go over the pink fence. The pink fence was a little daunting as the filler was a step looking thing with flowers but I knew Brad could do it. We had basically no momentum going into the line first. I wasn’t directing strong enough so Brad wasn’t putting out the effort. I got him moving more forward while doing the right hand turn to the grey fence. We popped over that and I headed for the pink fence. There was no way I wasn’t going to do the reaching exercise. I’m game to hop over ANYTHING if I trust the horse I’m on to do the job. Especially when there is someone else setting the fences up and saying ‘yeah you can do this’. That one came up okay as well.
Trainer D pointed out that I got dead center on the grey fence on my approach. She was pretty happy with that which tickled me. It’s nice to get positive reinforcement on things that I do sometimes.
We did the same line again but added the five stride line coming the other way after the pink jump. We did okay but we stumbled on landing a few times and cut the corners. Brad likes to lean in on turns and is so freaking hard to get to move over when going at speed. Trainer D pointed out that I was approaching the jump great, getting over and then right before Brad lands, I’d drop my chin. This knocked both of us off balance and caused his shoulders to bulge in easier, which made the turns even harder.
With keeping my chin up in mind, I headed to do the fences again. I kept it up and made sure we moved out in the turns to get smoother turns. We landed on the right lead after the grey fence. I asked for a flying change and got it. But that added some spunk to Brad’s step and we charged the pink fence. We took the biggest flyer ever over that fence. I even said “Oh God!” as we were flying. I wasn’t scared of the jump. I felt stable and still had control but it was definitely an “oh shit” moment or a “we’re really doing this” moment. I stayed with him and completed the course. Trainer D said that I did really well coping with the extra long takeoff.
As the final jump, we did the grey to the pink jump again, keeping the pace consistent. It went super well and we called it a night.
Some things Trainer D said was that my hands were following well, I didn’t anticipate the jumps and I did very well keeping him steady with my legs. It’s great to hear all that as I’ve definitely been working on all of that with Scarlet.
I did get to show her some of the videos of Scarlet and I jumping recently. She says he looks really good. I think he does but I’m super biased. I love showing him off to people. I really wish that I had a way to get him over to Trainer D’s for just one lesson with her. It would be so different on him than on Brad. I still love my lessons though. I get great things to practice at home. My goals for the near future are to try the circle exercise to work on long and short approaches having the same pace.
After our oxer breakthrough earlier this week, we’ve not done anything quite that exciting. Mostly just generic working rides. Still a good week though.
Wednesday I did my weekly bareback ride. I try to do them weekly at least. It was colder and windy that afternoon. Scarlet was really energetic and kinda screamy. His neighbor was turned out before I got him out of his stall and that sent his tiny brain into a tizzy. It was a bit difficult to get him tacked up and I thought I might be taking my life into my hands but I did it. He was a bit energetic at first but settled in quite well. I didn’t really focus on doing much with him. I like these rides because it’s really about focusing on myself and how I’m able to ride. I always come away sore though. Specifically in my inner thighs and hip flexors. I really need to do more hip flexor stretches.
Friday was a chill ride with Holly and Uno. Holly was tacked up before me and came to our cross tie to pick us up. We warmed up around the barn and then did a bit of work in the arena and then walked around the barn again. Rides without a real purpose are fun sometimes as well. We turned our boys out together after the ride. After they rolled, both of them walked up to the fence and stared at us. They are such goobers. No, don’t take advantage of the open arena to wander around and have fun boys. Just stare at us.
Sunday I rode by myself. It was when the evening feed was being delivered and Scarlet was kinda an asshole. Not exactly doing anything bad but he had such an attitude. I was not having it and made him work through it. We warmed up then focused on leg yielding both ways. He got stuck with no momentum when we first were doing them. It’s quite difficult to get them going if there is no forward happening. So I asked him to just go a few steps sideways and then forward as soon as we lost that forward feel. We got some okay yields in there. I will need to work on them some more. We also did a bunch of transitions up and down. Our downward from canter to trot still sucks. We don’t have a half halt that gets him reaching forward with his legs yet. Gotta figure out how to work on that first.
After the ride, we cooled down around the barn. I checked his feed as a while back we’d had issues with him getting alfalfa during the morning and evening feed. He retains weight really well and does not need any help with that.
Sure enough, there was alfalfa there. I emailed the barn owner and sent her the above picture. She said she will talk to the guy again and make a bigger sign in hopes that that will be more clear to him. I hope so. I don’t really want to deal with Scarlet getting fatter. Its also quite annoying because I’ve had this convo with her probably 4 times now. Just feed my horse the right hay!!