Friday, 24 February 2012

That evil realization...

Last night I went riding with my friend A at the arena to try out our new gear.  She got a new synthetic saddle to fit her big Connemara, and I had new vienna reins to hopefully help Celtic with her contact evasion.  Sadly it was a no-go on both fronts because both items didn't fit our horses!  SO angry about the vienna reins, was really looking forward to working on contact with the reins, but will now resort to some creative alternative for now.  If anyone uses vienna reins that are long enough for your horse, could you let me know where you got them? 

Anyways, so my lunging day turned into a ride day, and boy it was an eye-opener.  I was working on keeping my elbows elastic, to keep the weight of my rein consistent and it was working well with Celtic at the walk.  Go up into a trot, and it was alright, but if I got behind her motion and pressed/pushed down on the back part of my saddle, things got... exciting (for lack of a better term).  At one very bad moment while cantering, she threw out a buck (first time ever for her) that un-nerved me a bit.  The second time around at a canter, I could feel it coming and lil miss princess got down to work rather quickly. 

This tells me two things: 
1) I need to work on my seat being softer and loosening my hips to allow them to follow her movement.
2) The most dreaded realization of all: my saddle DOES NOT FIT! 

Now usually this wouldn't be SUCH a hassle since I have no problem using a saddle fitter, etc.  but since I live in an extremely isolated area, we're going to have to do this through distance.

Anyone have suggestions for a distance saddle fitter?  Please keep in mind I live in Canada, so not sure how cross-boarder would work with a company like Trumbull...

For now I'm going to try and keep off her back, plus A has a Wintec that I'll try next time out, see how it goes.  Who knows, if it fits I may be able to buy it off of A!  Sigh...   

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Family Fun

Late last night I started to do some googling about Celtic's ancestry.  I'm in the middle of transferring her registration papers into my name and googled her dam and sire.  Sadly I couldn't find anything about her sire, but I did find some photos of her dam.

Kadence QS, Canadian Warmblood
(Thoroughbred/Dutchwarmblood cross)

And for comparison, here's a similarly posed photo of Celtic.  Apple doesn't fall too far from the tree!

Here's a link to Celtic's pedigree:

Along with finding photos of Kadence (dam) I found some foal photos! 

Baby Celtic frolickin'

Might have melted a little when I saw this one.

Celtic and Kadence

If anyone knows anything about Kadence QS or Chantor Royal, please let me know because I'd love to learn more!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Time to just let go and have some F-U-N!

I can't seem to get video from the clinic uploaded, but I do have some from today!

After our clinic work, I decided that Celt and I were due for another over fences school.  We did our usual gymnastic but instead of having a vertical as the last jump, built it up to an oxer.  Before we got to our jumping, we did some transitions along a 20 m circle like we did in the clinic, and things were going ok.  We had some nice transitions and work, and some not so nice work.  SO came with us and said that she is getting there, but is still very inconsistent, but we're working on it. 

Going through our exercise, I decided to add a small twist for while we were building it up and asking for a halt after the gymnastic.  The first few halts were a bit ugly, but she settled down and got down to going through the gymnastic using our brains instead of going "Jumps?!?!  WHOOPEE!!!!!". 

Nice and calm through the first build

Again, nice and easy does it!

After this run through we set up the oxer, and she went over it like a ROCKSTAR!  She always tends to be a touch lazy with one toe or another, but no touches over the oxer, she just flew!  We got our halt, then I stepped off, so happy with her. 

Approaching the first jump


                                                                       One down...

Locked onto the oxer...

No run-outs with me, mom!

Feels like flying!

For the rest of the week, it will be flat work.  We did get a set of vienna reins, so may try those out tomorrow night, it'll be an interesting experience to see how she handles it. 

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Ups and Downs

This past Thursday was a major down in the riding/training of Celtic.  I had planned to do a trotting pole exercise with her, have them set for a regular trot, then have two other sets that were slightly shorter and slightly longer respectively.  When we got there, we did all our regular stuff, just warming up on the ground, then under saddle.  When I started to do some trot work, Celtic just started to get extremely anxious/nervous, hitting the panic button.  So, I veto'ed the poles and decided to work on walk-halt-walk transitions, remaining soft and consistent. 

Let me tell you, when we went into halts they were jerky, quick, not balanced, and jarring.  Sometimes I'd get a semi-ok halt, but mostly they were quick and jarring.  Near the end of the ride, she was getting extremely hot, jigging, wanting to go, me wanting her to whoa, sidestepping, etc.  I asked her for a canter circle to let her go forward, hoping that that may help the jitters, but she would simply not calm down.  At one point she was actually crab stepping, sidestepping, and threw in a couple half-rears when I was asking for a halt.  During the 'theatrics' I was sitting as soft and easy as I could, thinking "stay with her... stay with her...".  Once I got a semi ok halt, got off and cooled out.  It was an upsetting time.  I simply didn't get how she couldn't do a simple walk-halt-walk transition without hitting that panic button.  Of course, this caused me to start wishing for my old guy back (see title photo) who I lost in a freak accident in October, it was not pretty.  Luckily, the incredible SO talked me down and made me realize that she isn't Dillon, but she'll come along and we'll figure each other out. 

Dillon and I at our second show together.  He was my boy!

Timing is everything, they say, and I was EXTREMELY fortunate that we were having a clinic this Saturday!  This is the same guy who came in January so he knew all of us.  I explained to Mel what happened and asked for some help, and we got down to business.  He helped me ride through her antics, and coached me with some transitions to work with her, emphasizing that I had to control my emotions.  If I get annoyed, frustrated, irritated, what have you, she'll get nervous, frustrated, and start to panic.  Celtic is a great horse, who will try her heart out but if she has no clue what you want, she'll hit that panic button.

During the clinic, we did some trot and sustained canter work (yay!) which actually was pretty awesome!  She wasn't curling/hiding from my contact, and once I forgot about riding in contact, we got along just fine with some very nice downward transitions.  Overall, very happy with what we accomplished and have some new tools to go to when we get in a bind.

For those of you who are english riders, don't be afraid to take a clinic from someone outside your discipline.  I wasn't too sure about riding in this clinic, but am extremely happy I did.  I should have some video from the clinic to post tomorrow (fingers crossed). 

Random picture of Celtic and I lunging in winter in the barn yard.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Time to go see...

...the DENTIST!!! 

 Took some time off work today to take Celtic to go see the dentist.  Because of some issues, and hints that she's given, plus feeling her ridges myself, it was about time!  Took her up to the vet clinic that has a dentist as well (surprisingly for up here) about an hour away to meet the 'local' vet.  It's a fairly grass-roots clinic, but still with great service and knowledge.  Dr. B did the float outside (it was actually very nice, +1 celsius!) where I got to assist!  I've never seen a horse sedated in front of me, and I was surprised at how quickly it affected her.  She had the shot, and within 10 seconds she was dopey. 

You never really know how heavy your horse's head is until you hold it up yourself.  Now to just have her relax this much while under saddle... I digress.  Dr. B did his exam, didn't find any callouses or ulcers (yay!) but there was more sharp edges/ridging on her right side (as suspected).  Dr. B was very informative, inviting me to feel the teeth before and after the filing, showing me the type of file he uses (looks like an extremely large oral-b electronic toothbrush), and answering any question that came to mind. 

I'm extremely pleased to have this type of vet clinic just up the road from us.  Since I'm new to the area, Dr. B went over all the different types of things that are more common here than back home, along with vaccines, ticks (ewww...), feed supplement, etc.  It was kind of handy that this past Sunday Celtic was dewormed.  While on the trailer, she defecated and when I was unhooking her I noticed a worm in her fecal matter!  It wasn't a usual worm, so after the float I asked Dr. B if he would mind taking a look.  He identified it for me as a bot-fly larvae.  Lucky Celtic, she's going to be dewormed in another three weeks. 

All in all, today was a pretty great day.  Got to spend time with my girl, meet the local vet, and learned a ton.  Plus seeing the northern lights wasn't a bad touch either :)

Random picture of Celtic cuteness.  She is doing her 'impatient' paw

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Relax! Don't Do it...

Relaxation and balance, that is our main goal right now.  Had a great ride with Celt today, started off without our usual "trottrottrottrotIwanttotrottrottrottrot" but a nice forward walk with head close to horizontal with the withers.  While warming up I kept her on a loose/loopy rein.  Once we started into doing some circles, the contact was taken up an inch or so at a time (however far spaced the braiding is on my reins).  That seemed to work fairly well, there was barely any head-tossing tonight!  One minor victory!  We did some circles and lateral work then went into some walk trot transitions focusing on using the body instead of hand to achieve the transition.  Our transitions were a lot smoother and more precise, rather than the usual abrupt stop or insistant tug on the reins until finally succombing to walk that has been our way of going as of late. 

After some trot work, we did a small gymnastic, similar to last time - three trot poles, 9 feet to cross rail, canter stride to small vertical.  This would be her first time over a vertical!  We had a fairly flimsy pole up as the vertical, and along with a crappy ride to it, she said "no thanks!".  Changed the pole, had a more assertive ride, and over the went!  Went through it a couple times, then called it a night after she actually STRETCHED DOWN for a couple strides!  We must be doing something right to get that change, progress, no matter how small, is progress.  Ending on a happy relaxed note is, for me, the goal for every ride.  For this ride?  Goal accomplished!

Right at the end of the video, you can see her curling but after the video cut off she stretched out 

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Sunday, 5 February 2012

New Discoveries

Yesterday I went for a light hack with Celtic, trying to keep her routine new and interesting.  What I'm coming to learn is unlike my late gelding, she really does not enjoy ring work, and is EXTREMELY picky about contact on her mouth. 

Ready to go for a ride!

Our last hack ended up being a battle over walking and trotting and I let her just go.  This time, I took the pressure off and let my reins go extremely soft, with a slight loop, and ended up getting a rather nice walk out of her.  So, with this awesome walk, I decided to see if she knew anything about lateral work.  Turns out, she does!  She can do a lovely leg yield and haunches in, just need to watch the over-bending when yielding to the left.  She behaved very well during our hack, only two spin attempts for home, then settled down and walked along like a lady.  A truck drove by us and she stood her ground quivering, but no running no spooking, nothing!  Very happy with her, although this ride takes me to a new question/conundrum. 

If I want a really nice walk, I've only ever gotten it with barely there contact on her mouth and when I take up some contact, she sucks back.  When I ask her to go into the bridle/contact, she starts to dance and jig.  I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do with this, but am going to continue riding with soft contact and slowly but surely picking it up every so often.  Does anyone know of other training ways to help this issue?

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Feels Like Flying

Tonight is going to go into the highlights reel for my rides on Celtic for several reasons, but the main one being it was our first night jumping!  She was SUCH a good girl, went over the poles with no problem, no issues with the jumpkins (kind of like baby standards) and flew through the little gymnastic I had set up.  Couldn't wipe the smile off my face! 

Icing on top of the cake?  The SO was there and got it all on video! 

Now, without firther ado:

Flat work with a dry run over the poles

First time over a fence - walk

First time jumping a fence

First time going through a gymnastic

Jumping through the gymnastic

And, the cherry on top of the icing?  After going through the gymnastic a couple times, she offered the most beautiful left lead canter I've ever had with her.  Made my week! 

P.S.  I realize that I haven't been putting up a lot of photos and video lately, so I will try to rectify that, promise :)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

One step forward, two steps back... and one sideways?!

So we rode in a clinic on the weekend, and although it was at a slower pace than I'd like, we actually got quite a bit out of it.  It turned out being the ride that we really needed at that time.  It was given by Mel Hyland, a as-tough-as-they-come cowboy, rodeo champion.  The scene, at least from my perspective, was rather funny.  Here are all these recreational or rodeo riders, saddling up with huge western saddles on their stock horses, and here I am in my field boots, with my dainty arabian warmblood with our little ankle booties on.  It was neat to see that Mel taught the exact same thing as what I've learned in the past.  It is all about feel and contact, and keeping that darn outside aid constant, using the inside aid to guide and soften.  He helped me find the 'sweet spot' on Celtic, which was great, especially when he can see the visual change.  Kind of cool to be working on contact and dressage with a cowboy coaching me. 

So after the clinic, I've decided to ride more often (yay trailer!) and just spend more time with my horse.  It seems now that when she sees me coming it's all about work, and lately that's been what it is.  I've talked with my BO and now I'm out every night even if it's for a scritch and a cookie.  Yesterday, we went to the arena to put some of what we learned into practise.  The ride was ok, but this girl just does NOT want to go into contact in a walk, or when asked to march forward into contact, she turns into a twinkle toes.  We did some halt-walk-trot transitions on the circle, and she settled down to have some lovely strides.  I think next week I'm going to add in some poles to give her something to focus on, to help her get into 'work-mode'. 

Now here's the fun part.  Loading in the trailer has never been a problem.  Generally she'll talk tentative steps up to the trailer, sniff, then up she goes.  When we were loading up to go home, she was having nothing to do with getting onto that trailer.  She did her usual slink up to it, sniff, then put both front feet up.  She went to lift her hind, and then she went backwards.  Luckily not quickly, but still not good.  After about 10 minutes of going up, her going backwards, and us going very quickly in circles, I grabbed the trusty lunge whip out of the truck.  Tap tap tap on her bum, and away she went happy as you please in the trailer.  Once we got home, we did a repeat performance, getting in and out with tap tap tapping of the lunge, and the last two times just holding the lunge.  I was satisfied, but oye!  We have a catching issue, and now a possible loading issue... yay for lunge whips and cookies! 

I simply cannot wait for it to be warmer and the sun to stay up longer.