Sunday, 26 August 2012

Back From Vacation!

Sorry for being MIA for a while, took a greatly anticipated vacation to the homelands of Nova Scotia and Ontario!  The trip was wonderful, full of adventures, family time, relaxation, and seeing old friends.  Now we're back home and the SO needs to get ready to go back to work tomorrow and I'm prepping and packing for a week of horse fun.  I have to work tomorrow, but am heading out right afterwards for a 6 hour drive then 3-day clinic to be topped off by our last show of the season. 

I'm hoping that this clinic will help Koda and I continue on our learning curve and I can continue to ride him as a 'finished' horse.  Also, am looking to get a little further around the course this time!  I'm lucky enough to have my friend coming up for both the clinic and show and have a spot for me in her RV to bunk for the week instead of tenting it.

There isn't THAT much to prepare, since with the new trailer I keep mostly all of my tack in there, so that isn't needed to be packed.  Just need to do laundry for myself and repack everything and away we go! 

I'm a bit nervous for the clinic, but we are in the starter level, so we're where we should be.  I haven't ridden with an instructor for a year, and Koda is still very green to this eventing game, along with us being a new combination, it'll be interesting to say the least :)

Will hopefully have some internet access while I'm away so I can keep you updated!  The SO can't come with this time (working) so will be, as they say, riding solo!

Friday, 10 August 2012

Getting the Hang of it

I think I have found a slight break through moment.  I’ve been riding Koda like a truely green horse, and so I ride him very defensively.  Tonight I just got down to it and rode him how I used to ride; forward, into the bridle, with the expectation of obedience and a good work ethic.  Presto – Koda worked wonderfully tonight.

Here is my crazy super high energy half-arab!

We did some suppling exercises just to wake him up and get that long body of his flexing around my legs through corners and circles.  Once he was all nice and supple, we worked on a 20m circle to help with our canter transitions.  We’re still working on our communication, me findng his ‘buttons’ and him figuring out what I’m asking for.  His canter has improved tremendously, becoming really balanced, especially when (surprise surprise) his rider is balanced too!      

This is our back field set up as a part jumping arena, part driving arena, part trail obstacle course. 

After our canter work we did some jumping work.  I was only going to do our stadium fences, but the brush jump was too much of a draw, couldn’t help myself J  It was kind of funny, I was nervous to jump him over our small jumps!  I’ve shown up to 2’6” and schooled 2’9” but here I was, my heart thundering (out of nerves or excitement?!) because I was jumping a 2’ vertical.  The BO (who graciously agreed to video us) thought that it may be baggage from Celtic and our experience we had at the past horse trial, me expecting him to refuse.  While riding, Koda does like to go a touch speedy after a fence, so am possibly going to look into getting a little heavier bit with a touch more breaks.

Here are some video of us tonight.  Be gentle with my form!  I need to find my release again, sorry boy!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

On The Line

Tonight I came out to find a few fresh teeth marks along Koda's back where the saddle goes, so instead of riding in the back field, we worked on the line over everything. 

It was GREAT! 

I was really surprised at how well he tackled everything, he only had one refusal when going over the tire jump for a second time.  For that he got a tap on the offending shoulder, then sent over a couple more times and he was perfect.  He even walked and trotted through the scrunched up orange tarp, at one point popping over it, with no problems or anxiety.  Nothing bothered my boy, he was all business.  Jump over these logs?  No problem!  Oh, go through this 1-stride?  Ok, on it.  The brush jump?  Sure! 

While we were working on the line I was trying to instill the word "jump!"  or "up!" whenever he came to an obstacle to go over. I like using verbal cues in my training since when I ride I am a rather talkative person (particularly on cross-country, you can hear me from a mile away).  Right at the end of the night we went over a 2'3" verticle (gotta love milk crates as standards) then went over the brush.  I didn't have him quite lined up for the brush, but called jump either way and he jumped it!  Am so happy with him :)

Now to translate this to under saddle...

Another thing I was very happy to see was he actually lifts his knees quite nicely, he doesn't hang his front legs like some quarter horses or quarter horse crosses are prone to do.  He actually jumped better over the bigger fences in the field, which makes sense since he is all about saving energy.  If he can trot over it without jumping, he will.  Same goes for cantering.

I'll try to get photos next time we're out, am so happy we have this field set up!

Need to get more milk crates

Monday, 6 August 2012

The Back Field

So last night the BO and I set up a huge obstacle/cross country course in our back field.  It is great!  We have set up:  a box and brush jump, blue barrel jump, moved the logs over to the field, milk crate jumps, a tire jump, and some ground pole exercises.  We have the orange tarp set up on a post,along with a tire to be dragged a la cowboytrail challenge.

It took a while to set up, but Koda and I went in to have fun either way.  It was a short, but productive ride.  Koda took most of it in-stride, surprisingly, but was afraid of... the panel that acts as a gate to get into the field.  No, he didn't look at the orange tarp flapping in the breeze, brush jumps, big blue barrels pffft, that's nothing!  But the panel that he's seen ever since he's been here was the horse eating monster of the field.  Oh, Koda...

Am planning on going around it some more tonight, perhaps even stringing together a nice little course :)

And for your viewing pleasure, here are some more photos from the event.

Love this shot!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Back to the grind... sort of

So we're back to getting down to work, learning new things, improving fitness, learning that our canter transitions do not include throwing ourselves forward and hoping our legs untangle themselves.  When we got back from the event, the SO and I did a quick unload and check, then put Koda out with the rest of the herd.  I let him have Monday and Tuesday off, then went out to ride Wednesday.  My poor boy was TERRORIZED by the second in command (let's call him D), leaving him with ribs visible, teeth scrapes on his back, and some really nasty cuts on the underside of his dock that look like teeth as well.  I talked to the BO and she had tried to run interference with the two so that Koda could have a chance to relax and not be run down by D.  Everything has calmed down now, ironically when I went to catch him, Koda and D were grazing side by side.   Koda is going on some feed to bring his weight up again, getting some alfalfa pellet in the evenings. 

We went out for a slow hack down one of our field roads which was really nice, just walking out, letting BO and I catch up on our adventures.  For the past 2 weeks, the BO has been out in the mountains/BC with two of her horses, and I had the event and babysitting of the farm.  Her brother, S (who has some form of down's syndrome) came with us on our babysitter Jay (the SO rides her as well when he comes out with us).  When we got back, Koda and I did some work on lateral, doing some small leg-yield Vs and turns on the forehand/haunches.  I find it really funny that we can do turns on the haunches all day long, but turns on the forehand are just too difficult.  We've been working on them on the ground, and he's getting much better, but under saddle he still takes a pause and kind of spasses a bit, then relaxes and goes "Ohyeah...  THAT thing!  Got it mom, no sweat" which just cracks me up.  The past two days we've been plagued with rain (farmers aren't complaining) so haven't been out to ride, but have done some work on the ground.  We've started doing some schooling through any weird and strange place I can find, starting with doing serpentines around the BO's lettuce planters and landscaping timbers in front of the house.  I am very blessed that the BO has no qualms with me doing this with Koda and encourages me to take him wherever I see fit as long as I clean up any manure. 

For the next few days (if the weather holds) we're going to be focusing on fences and really establishing a steady forward rhythm to them.  I think I'm going to start on the lunge then move to under saddle to see how things go.  I've done this before with my previous horse, Dillon, and it really did help him learn on his own that he has to know what's going on along with me. 

P.S. I am an olympic-aholic and am LOVING the coverage we are getting for the equestrian events!  I'm sad to say I didn't wake up in time this morning for the show jumping, but luckily CTV has a full recap on their website I can watch, albeit without commentary.  Now to devise a plan on how to watch the rest of it without messing up my sleeping schedule too much...

Go Canada!!!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

More Updates!

The second day dawned bright and extremely hot, and with all the rain we had the day before it was very humid.  I had Koda ready to go for our cross-country run, but things didn't feel right.  He was fine while warming up on the flat, had a great canter warm-up, but once I started to pop a couple fences, things were not great.  He was looking all over the place, not focusing at all on the fence in front of him so that by the time we got up to it, he saw it, balked, I kicked, we bunny hopped.  It wasn't pretty and didn't bode well for our run. 

As expected in retrospect, we had balks at 3 of the first 4 fences on course, so were eliminated.  I was allowed to continue into stadium, but I didn't want to do a repeat of what we just had.  I replied to the official that I would just pop a couple cross rails in warm-up then head home.  The response - sorry, that's not allowed.  You must wait until the show is completely over.  This surprised me as if I had continued to do stadium, I would have done the same thing... yet since I wasn't doing stadium, I wasn't allowed to school a cross rail a couple times. 

Either way, it was a learning experience and we've come home with a TON of homework to do, number 1 being to instill any type of focus and work ethic in Koda.  I need to be able to take him to new places and still have him get into the zone.  I'm not quite sure how to do this, but I have a few ideas.

Since he's the type of horse that loses his focus even after a few minutes break during a ride, I think a more rigorous and regimented riding schedule may be in order.  Work comes first, then cool out along the trails.  When it's time to work, no dicking around, get down to it NOW.  Also, I think I will re-iterate the idea of FORWARD with him since he is balking at jumps that he could walk over (which DID happen!!!).

We do have another competition to go to that is on Labour Day weekend, and there is a clinic beforehand.  Some may say it would be silly for us to go, but that clinic will be one of the only ways I can get some instruction and since we'll be down there, might as well enter and see how it goes.  It's all about exposure and experience for my green 9 year old.

Does anyone else have ideas for helping the green/unfocused horse?  He's fine in the stall, but once I swing up in the saddle, it's all about looking EVERYWHERE at once!