Sunday, 27 May 2012

Spring is in the air!

Literally!  I looked outside yesterday and today and it seemed like it was snowing pollen.  I am very thankful that I don't have any allergies to pollen.  Had a lovely couple rides on Koda in the past week. I decided to give Koda a few days off after the clinic to cool out and recover from the intense three days we had.  Rode on Thursday and it was an okay ride, not spectacular, not bad, just okay.  I think it was mostly that simply because of the fact that we were being eaten alive by mosquitoes.  We were doing some nice trot work on a 20m, working on transitions within the gait and one-step transitions, and I swear, EVERY time we were working well and he started working off his hind, lifting his back, I got distracted by a mosquito. 

I. Hate. Them.

Today was a different ride, introduced mister Koda to trot sets.  We hacked out further from the farm than we've ever gone by ourselves,and other than a couple shout outs, he was on his best behaviour!  Worked hard, did 3x3 minutes of trot with 2 minutes of rest then a walk back home along the way we came.  On the way we picked up a couple wasps that swarmed us but never landed or stung... strange.  When we got back to the barn, noticed that there were some less wet spots under his saddle that I already worried about to begin with but this confirms it - saddle fit is an issue!  Great....

I do love saddles, so on we go again searching for a saddle!  It looks like he's a fairly easy fit, everywhere else was fine except the tree is a touch too wide.  Anyone have ideas that have the same general tree and seat size as an older stubben siegfried?

Cheers everyone, hope your weekends were fun :)

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Long Weekend Clinic

When it comes to riding, and horses in general, there is always something more to learn.  This weekend we had a clinician come up to do a clinic on general horsemanship and..... cow work.  Yes, Koda and I went head to head in the pen with a cow.  Now, I've never worked cows before, and I'm pretty sure Koda hasn't either, so thought "why not?".  It was a good time, learning how to read the cow and doing endless turns on the haunches, turns on the fore, one step here, one foot fall there.  It really got me thinking about how you must have each hoof under you.  It was pretty cool feeling Koda moving not just the specific hoof I wanted, but the distance that was needed to move the cow. 

The main exercise that I took out of this clinic was really getting Koda to work off his hind end, which he does have trouble with due to fitness and his conformation.  Most of the horses in the clinic had this problem too, so we did a cool little exercise where you walk exactly 10 steps forward, then back 5.  It really got all the horses "crisp!" off the aids, really using the seat instead of relying on the hands to halt and back.  We HAD to halt after 10 steps forward, only 10.  It was very cool to see Koda really working off his hind end when backing. After we did that exercise, we did some forward trot/canter transitions and because of the previous work we did, all of the horses were pushing up into the canter instead of pulling themselves forward. 

The two end exercises we did were with the cows.  The first one we did was cut the cow away from the herd (that was fenced) and place it at the letter A:

A is just to the left of frame.

Then we had to pen the cow into a separate pen.

I think Koda really enjoyed working with the cows, or at least he was very attentive to them!  Not scared, just alert and watchful.

The next cow exercise we did was essentially follow the cow around the pen.  Mimic the speed it goes, direction, everything.  It stops, we stop.  It canters off, we canter off.  This was a LOT more fun and more comfortable since I switched back to my close contact saddle for it.  Since I was the only english rider at the clinic, the clinician made a joke about how we can call my cow "Fox", since english riders follow foxes instead of cows :)

There were some ups and downs in the clinic, mainly because of the way some things were depicted by the clinician which I completely disagree with, BUT I was there to learn and not to contradict so I kept my opinions to myself.  The wonders of going to clinics is that you don't have to take everything they're giving you, just take what you want and leave the rest.

All in all, a good weekend full of friends, riding, and most of all, learning!  Not only about riding and cows, but about this very cool horse that I have the priviledge of owning. 

Friday, 18 May 2012

Windy Nights...

...and calm evenings.

This describes my two last rides perfectly!  My ride on Wednesday was rather tumultuous, yet it was mostly based in the weather.  When it's cold and windy and feels like a thunder storm is in the air, it's generally not a good idea to saddle up and ride your fairly new-to-you horse by yourself out doors (on property, but no arena).  Koda was feeling very up, doing a jig around the trails.  He wasn't being dirty, just up and extremely alert!  We had one minor altercation where he didn't want to halt, and I insisted to he do, so he went up a touch in a rear (felt like not even a foot), then he went down and halted.  This gave me a quick flash-back to Celtic and some of our crazy rides... not good.  So by now I went to work yard where I had some trot poles set up.  Once we started to get down to it, Koda settled down nicely and gave me some nice work.

Yesterday I had one of those crap days at work where nothing went how it should and was simply awful.  When I went out to the barn, the weather couldn't have been more different than Wednesday.  There was barely a breeze, sun was out, providing golden light for our ride.  The other horses were out in the yard on hobbles, so I got to ride in the field were an old arena used to be - perfect!  Koda was happy to work, calm and relaxed (partly, I'll bet, because he could see the where the other horses were... something we'll have to work on).  When I swung up into the saddle, Koda was ready to go, striding out nicely in a big walk.  I think this is how he goes, starts off very forward, and needs some more warming up to relax into the work.  After a very thorough warmup of walk and trot, we did some leg-yield on the 20m circle, along with asking for more balance and contact from Koda.  He gave me some rather lovely strides and so we stopped there. 

It was such a peaceful night, I untacked him right where I got off and walked back to my grooming spot in the field by the fence.  Koda followed, I set him up with some hay, and we were off for an intense grooming session.  Koda has some dandruf/dry skin issues, so am hoping for some warmer weather to give him a thorough bath. 

There is nothing like a peaceful grooming session to help unwind from a crappy day at work.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Two-Point Challenge and the SO Rides!!!

Went for a second ride on Sunday in the afternoon during the warmest day of the year yet.  It was a SCORCHER and I loved every minute of it!  While we were tacking up, the breeze picked up so the horses (and riders) remained cool along with keeping the mosquitoes off.  I did my second set of the two-point challenge and the calves were burning.

At the beginning, I was all smiles...

Once we did a quick horse swap (BO's first horse was a little too hot to trot for the type of ride we wanted) we were off exploring another field.  This ride was pretty special simply because it was the SO's first ride in 2012, and possibly his... fourth ride ever on a horse.  I'm very grateful that our BO has a baby-sitter horse and allows others to ride her (with her supervision, of course).

BO and I riding up front

Best vantage point there is

After checking out the big field, we went back over to the dugouts and played around in the fields, getting the memorial shots of the SO's first ride of 2012.  While we were playing around in there, we had to cross a very thin stream.  Koda was point, so we were supposedly going to go through first... well, Koda had a minor issue with that, so BO walked her horse over first.  The moment her horse was on the other side, Koda takes an almighty LEAP to get over this 12" stream... oh dear me, we're going to have to do some work with water, aren't we?

Happy trails!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Walking on Sunshine!

After the rain and hiatus from riding with my course time for work, I finally had a chance to swing back up in the saddle!  Went for a great ride this past Saturday with the BO through the fields, checking out new tracks that we can take, winding between the different crops and dugouts.  I'm finally getting to really see my new home through my horse's ears, and it's pretty incredible. 

During the ride I did put in my time for the baseline of the twopoint challenge (for more info, check out SprinklerBandit's blog!).  Made it to 8 minutes, then absolutely HAD to sit.  While I was riding, I had my cellphone tucked into the inner pocket in my breeches, and the SO kept texting me about our evening plans.  Of course, I'm not wanting to answer, but after a while Koda is just walking along, April is chugging along behind us with her mare, ponying her gelding Mik, and I'm just chilling in my two-point, so I pull my phone out to send a quick text saying, yes/no, am riding,etc.  It was kind of hilarious simply because there I was, balancing in two-point, texting the SO while my new horse who I haven't ridden very much is just plugging along at a nice open walk along the crop field edge.  SUCH a difference from when I was riding Celtic!  This ride really drove home to me - this is going to be a good one.

The point that really drove it home was when we were exploring around the dugouts.  April and I were chatting away, and a partridge (?) flew out from almost underneath Koda's hooves.  I started, April jolted, Koda and the other horses Did. Not. Bat. An. Eyelash! 

Very cool :)

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Rain, rain...

Go away! 

My first day back home from being on course and it is a miserably wet and cold day.  Chuck in a fairly frigid breeze and it's just downright bad.  Here's hoping that it lets up so that I can go out for my ride, and to set my baseline for the two point challenge! 

In other news, am very excited to say that Koda and I will be having our debut on the show scene at a "local" dressage show in June!  We may just be doing intro tests, not sure yet.  The next few weeks will be full of fitness rides, hacking, and ring work, with some poles tossed in for fun!  Hoping to start over fences in June.


Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Healing Power of Horses.

Sorry for the absence!  I've been on a week-long equestrian management clinic to certify instructors at horsemanship camps.  I've been assisting at these workshops for years and hold the person who does them in the highest esteem.  She is a true horsewoman, through and through.  This workshop was at a different camp for me, and it was quite an experience, not for the content we covered and the horses at the camp, but because of the people.  The people in the clinic were, well, broken in some way or other.  Most were related somehow, or were very close, and all came from either broken homes, abusive childhoods,  or were going through very difficult times at that moment.  Myself and the instructor of the clinic turned into not only teachers and mentors, but support systems for these people as they went through the workshop. 

During the workshop, we always try and use the horses in ways to highlight their incredible abilities.  During this workshop we focused on honesty and forgiveness.  There were more than just a few tears shed during this week. 

At the end of the week, we worked with one of their horses that was having some extreme bit issues, riding with their nose in the air, mouth wide open, essentially screaming "I DON'T LIKE THIS THING IN MY MOUTH!".  We switched her from her regular snaffle to a simple curb and it was like a brand new horse.  Yet, this wasn't the only problem with her.  As we worked with her, you could tell she was waiting for the blow to come, the moment of pain.  When our hostess was riding, the mare would actually turn around and watch her, braced for the blow she was certain was going to come.  As it turned out, we continued to work with this mare and she calmed right down and turned out to be a pretty cool little horse.  While our hostess was riding, she started to cry.  As it turned out, she had been abused as well, and was simply blown away by the trust this mare was giving her, even though we knew she'd been abused before (knee to the barrel to stop her from blowing out...). 

It was a great week, even though it wasn't what I was expecting.  This was my first time to really get into the psyche of someone who has been 'broken' and is now on the mend, or trying to mend.  I am forever grateful for the life I've lead and that we have horses in this world to help those get through the rough times, and to heal.