Sunday, 28 October 2012

Kathy Playdon Clinic, Day 2 Part 2

The afternoon lesson was all about angles, riding your line, and forward.  We did some work over poles and single small fences, then moved on to the main exercise.  One of the horses was being a stink about the single fences so Koda and I wore our lead pony hats and helped them out.  Again, Kathy tortured us with no stirrup work, and some no rein work as well (eeep!).  Yet, Koda was a complete rockstar and took it all in stride.

After doing the smaller things, we had to go through three different courses.  The first course was very twisty with plenty of circles and turns and roll backs.  Everyone in the clinic rolled through the first course with no major issues, so Kathy upped the ante.  Our second course was a few single fences, then a gymnastic of three fences set one stride apart down center line.  This sounds fairly simple, but the fences down the center were all at angles, so if your turn isn't right on the line you need, your distances will be completely skewed!  Considering this was the second lesson of the day, Koda was getting to be a touch lazy, so the whip had to come out a bit.  Forward, forward, forward :)

Some of the other participants ran into a few issues with this exercise, but all in all we all got through it in the end.  It was my first time to jump a gymnastic like that where all the jumps were on an angle.  I've done a couple single fences, but not something like this!  Was so proud and happy with Koda, how he took everything in stride when I KNOW this is new stuff to him too.  Such a trooper and all-around awesome pony.  I think he's really understanding what his job is now.

At the end of the lesson, Kathy let us set up our own course to finish up the day.  I wanted to go over raised rails (again, not the big guys, but bigger than what we were doing that day), so I did a nice simple course, similar to a basic hunter course.  Throughout the clinic, I've learned quite a bit about Koda's jumping style.  He will go for the close spot instead of the far, his jump is fairly neat and easy to ride, he doesn't respect smaller "jumps", and he is as honest as they come.  Here are a couple videos of our last course.

Clearly, this horse needs more height for a challenge!  We don't have our changes yet, but simple changes are fine for now.  We did try to get the change over a fence, but with the canter I was getting (balanced, forward, overall lovely), I was a happy camper.

I'm just so darn proud of Koda!  This is a horse that hadn't even SEEN a pole before Easter of this year, and without much schooling at all, he's taking everything rather nicely in stride!  Perhaps some people would say, well that's to be expected, it's been so many months, he's at an age where it should be nothing, but for me, it's incredibly satisfying and makes me so happy.  It was really nice at the end of the clinic that a couple people came up to me to compliment Koda.

Such an awesome boy!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Kathy Playdon Clinic, Day 2 Part 1

On Saturday morning, me and the BO pulled out of the lot to go to a full day of clinic lessons with Kathy.  We have both discovered that neither of us are fond of early mornings yet a mug of hot chocolate will always make it better.  Especially with a candy cane as a stir stick :)

The exercises we did in the morning were really quite fun and helped uncover and fix some holes in some of the riders' education.  We did a general warm-up, then started in on doing some pole exercises.  The first was riding a 10m circle over four raised poles.  There was a jump block in the middle of the circle (about 18" high at the most) and the poles had one end resting on it.  Kind of like a mini circle of death exercise: 

Far-away shot of the trotting exercise. 

From there we moved on to doing 20m canter circles with poles every quarter.  Koda and I managed it just fine, but others were having some issues, so we ended up being a lead pony for a few pairs.  Kathy saw that it was a bit easier for Koda and I so I got to ride no stirrups.  My poor poor thighs!!!  I haven't ridden no stirrups at a canter doing endless circles in a long time. 

Once the pole exercises were over, we moved onto a small gymnastic (small because our arena is not that big!): trot poles to a bounce, 1-stride to a vertical.  Koda gets a little put off with gymnastics still, but we managed it just fine.  The jumps went up for us to the point of 2'9", then the last vertical was made into an oxer.  Of course, whenever we were going over the bigger fences, we got no video or photos. 

Felt like flying and man does my boy have some scope!

At that point it was the end of our morning lesson, so we put the horses up in coolers, set them up with some lunch and got some lunch ourselves. 

This haybag is awesome, it's a slow feeder hay net 
Love good herdmates

Stay tuned for part 2 :)

Monday, 22 October 2012

Kathy Playdon Clinic, Day 1

So after the horrendous drive home that turned from a quick 5 hour jaunt to 7 hours of driving hell with your eyes being blinded by snow, I had one hour to take the dog out to walk and play, eat supper, prep for the clinic, and get to the barn.  Luckily, the BO was just starting to load up when I got there so I threw all my stuff into her trailer, tossed the horses on the trailer (yay for good loaders!) and off we went.  Since the storm hadn't made it up here yet, the drive to the arena was normal and we made it there in plenty of time. 

We started the lesson off with some basic flat work with canter poles and trotting/cantering over raised poles in a small cross rail.  When I say small, I mean very small, max 8".  It was really neat to see some of the people in the group get over their fears and do things they would never do.  I really liked how Kathy pushed the envelope for every rider in the clinic, be it either the exercise itself, or take that exercise and make it more difficult by either taking away your stirrups, going into 2-point, or dropping the reins and doing the YMCA! 

I was very proud of Koda and how we rode the lesson through.  I was expecting him to have some issues with the canter poles as we've had some in the past, but we went through with no issues.  The way Kathy had the poles set up was either you could do one, two, or three of the poles, but you must do at least one of them.  They were staggered so that if you wanted to do all three, your space over the pole was very small and your line must be absolutely straight.  We nailed it the first time through, so had to do it without stirrups the second time through.  We ended the lesson with a 1-stride combination and single fence on the other long side.  Everyone went through, and for some of the riders, the fences were raised.  The second fence through the 1-stride just kept on going up and up to the point where I didn't want to ask how high it was (I have a "knowledge of height" issue).  Koda was a rockstar and just kept on going, never an issue.  At the end of the lesson I broke down and asked Kathy how high we had gone, and she responds "oh, I think it was about 2'9." 


I haven't jumped higher than 2'9" and that was only on Dillon who I knew could handle the height and would take care of me.  It didn't feel that big to me, and after talking to Kathy, she mentioned that I shouldn't school below 2'6", unless I'm working on something new that has a tight corner, or is more difficult.

I'm so proud of my boy!!!!

P.S.  Sorry there is no video or photos from day 1, the camera only came for day 2 and 3. 

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Much Updating!

Sorry I have been absent from the blogging world!  I've been caught up with work, dealing with the on-coming season of winter... sigh... going to a conference, and of course riding.  Was stuck behind the wheel yesterday driving home from the conference in a constant blizzard.  Yes, blizzard.  A drive that usually takes 5 hours took 7. I was not impressed.  Saw some transport trucks that were stuck, a couple people in the ditch, but all in all got home just fine.  Ironically, when I was within 20 minutes of home there was no snow, nothing.  Which was good since the BO and I were trailering to a clinic that evening.  We got there not a problem, unloaded and tacked up for the ride! 

By the time our lesson was over and we were ready to load up (approximately 1.5 hours or so) the snow was coming down.  Hard.  Driving home was a bit hair raising, but the BO is an awesome hauler, plenty of experience, and we got 'er done.  After unloading and making sure we had everything ready for today, I headed home after reading and sending off some texts to the SO.  I was in hot water since I hadn't texted him for about 8 hours and he knew I was driving through a blizzard that day.  He was a little pissed but more relieved than anything to hear from me.  I started the drive home and realized it was going to be a long haul.  I live about 25km from the barn, and usually takes about 15-20 minutes to get there.  It took me double that time to get home.  The roads were absolutely MISERABLE, thank goodness I took the truck with it's 4x4.  Kind of sad when I got home since I've been away for a few days and now the SO is away for a few days.

I'll be writing up some posts for the clinic, with photo and video!

In the meantime, looks like I have to start browsing for a new cooler as mine was eaten by mice.

Saturday, 13 October 2012


Today I had the chance to ride with one of my friends from BC (let's call her S).  Her and I don't know each other so well (new friends!) but she knows riding, and enjoys watching and giving pointers.  I was so glad she said she'd come with me to the arena to give a hand since I was also trying out a new saddle.  I picked up a nice Collegiate for a song, so figured why not try it out?  It's a Collegiate Eventer, so more of an all-purpose than my stubben, but wanted to try it out and if it doesn't work, can always sell it again.  We slapped it on Koda, and it fit him, almost perfectly.  I was surprised since it was advertised as a 'narrow' tree, but when you look at it, it's more of a medium-narrow or medium.  Does collegiate run wide?  Either way, this saddle is going to be the "dressage" saddle for now, along with trail ride saddle (very cushion-y seat) until I can afford the dressage saddle I want.

So geared up with the new saddle, off we went to strut our stuff for S.  Koda was feeling good, nice and steady, good rhythm and tempo.  Koda finds it tough to bend and flex, and doing anything but go like a giraffe or move like a 2 by 4, so we focused on circles and bending today.  While riding, S and I both noticed some key thins about Koda:

1)  He is as honest as they come, he will always try!  But...
2)  Koda can be a bit lazy
3)  Going to the left, he will bend all day, but step up and under himself, use his back?  Pffft.
4)  Going to the right he will use himself, try to push off his hindquarters, step under himself.  Bend?  Pffft.

I really found this funny and interesting because the horse I rode for a long time beforehand, Dillon, was similar yet different.  Dillon would try all day and was rather talented, but he was a bit lazy.  He could bend all day to the right, not really to the left, and he moved really well to the left but not to the right.  This is something that I'll have to work on since I'm used to riding the complete opposite way that Koda needs me to ride.  During the winter we're going to be playing more in the big sand box, which I do enjoy after doing mostly hacking out and trail rides all summer, to work on these gaps in training. 

Tomorrow I'm riding again at the arena with another friend, P, so will have some more time to work on these things, plus do a few jumps too!  The pony club up here is having a clinician come up next Saturday so need to tune up! 

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!  Get out there before the snow gets too deep!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Tack Sales and Trailer Organization

It has started to snow up here, and with the first snow and it being extremely windy, I've decided to stay put until I can ride when there's actual daylight without risk of being shot by a hunter (yay hunting season... not.  Not against hunting, just against getting shot accidentally!).  Koda doesn't have his full winter coat grown out yet, plus his coat is really thin to begin with, so he has a light sheet on for now.  Luckily it's still coming up to about +5 degrees celsius during the days, but the nights are getting chilly.  Pretty soon we'll be pulling out the big guns.  I'm debating about doing a bib/apron clip on Koda this year as last year trying to cool Celtic out after a ride at the indoor took about as long as the ride did itself without clipping.  I've never clipped before and am curious about any ramifications with it other than having to blanket.  Anyone who lives in a cold climate or clip during the winter have any suggestions?

Also, it's that favourite time of year for me in that it is tack sale time!  Sadly, this year I really don't have anything to look for!  It's tough being a tack sale lover and having nothing to look for!  Koda is completely outfitted with blankets, coolers, quarter sheets, bridles (don't ask how many I have, I may even sell a couple), saddle pads, boots, halters, lead ropes, lunge lines, etc. (wow, that's a lot of stuff!) and there is nothing missing.  I love this time of year as it's when some of the big sales up here in Canada happen.  One of my favourites is the Greenhawk warehouse sale.  I grew up very close to the warehouse and every year I would go and pick up some major steals.  Favourite brand of breeches for 50% off?  Yes please!  Three quarter length down filled coat designed for casual wear and riding for an insane price?  Check that one off the list.  Plus don't forget their clearance rack that will usually have a 15% off the last marked price as well, best spot to snag some nice Joules polos. 

This year it is looking like I won't have anything to ask my parents to pick up for me.  I'm actually almost thinking about culling the tack herd in my trailer a bit!  Things in there are so cluttered and unorganized it's driving me batty.  I can't find anything.  Since I'm fairly new to being a horse trailer with dressing room owner does anyone have any neat tips and tricks for storage, maintenance, organization, cleanliness?  I am a lover of all things that are shelves, bins, drawers, labels, anything that will keep things organized (at least when it comes to my horse.  The house on the other hand...).  

Before it starts to really get cold I would love to have my trailer completely organized with all things that may freeze in -40 degree weather (farenheit or celsius, it doesn't matter at that point) will be in a bin safe at home, my every day tack being used have an easy access to move from truck to home, and all other horse things be tucked neatly away.  Any ideas?  What are the opinions of leaving tack out in a trailer where it may get to be -40?  I'm thinking no, but some people have done it up here with no issues to be seen yet and am curious of other people's opinions. 

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Ring of Fire

This week hasn't been the best, haven't been able to make it out to see my boy for one thing or another (Shilo getting neutered, it was rain/sleeting, recovering from the flu) and I finally decided by hell or high water, I'm going for a ride.  I was SO glad I made that decision since it was a fantastic ride!  A little on the nervous/exciting side, and just all around good. 

After a ride in July

It was the first time in a while that we've hacked out by ourselves, so I was happy to see that he was no longer calling for the other horses like he used to.  He just marched out, perhaps more on the alert than usual, but hacked out without a peep about the other horses and was looking at where we were headed.  I wanted to keep the ride low key, so walked for a solid 10 minutes then hit one of our harrowed fields with some of the best footing around.  Went out and did a quick canter with the leaves crunching under Koda's hooves as we flew along the edge of the field with the setting sun on our right side.  It was absolutely fabulous. 

At our first outing off the farm, August.

Autumn is my favourite season, the scents, the colours, the feeling of that snap in the air, it's great!  Experiencing those while cantering along the edge of a field at sunset?  Even better.  Please note, I do wear hunter orange when I go out and am going to get Koda a bright coloured ear bonnet.  The hunters out here are fairly good about really viewing what they shoot, but when you ride a horse that already looks a lot like a moose, every precaution is a good one.

First bank at the South Peace Clinic, September

Either way, we did some walk-trot transitions along with staying straight.  All I have to do is think "right" and BAM we have leg-yield off the right leg, whereas to the left it's a bit of a battle.  I think it's a mix of him being less flexible to the left and me not being as coordinated with my aids to the left, let alone being stronger on the right than left.  We finished off our ride with a short right-lead canter (short since someone was getting strong and excited since we were heading in the direction of home).  As we cooled out and walked home I was getting a touch anxious, not sure why, but instead of getting all tight and bothered I just started to sing that Johnny Cash classic Ring of Fire.  Slightly appropriate since we were riding home and the sun looked like a ring of fire on the horizon!  It really helped relax myself and bring Koda back down from being keyed up after our work.  Kind of cheesy and hilarious and perfect riding home along the road, sun setting ahead of us with our own soundtrack.

Sigh, why is autumn so short out here?