Sunday, 29 September 2013

Two Weeks of Silence

Hey guys!

Sorry I haven't been blogging as much lately, have been giving Koda some time off and am just not having much to write about in the sense of a riding journal.  As we transition into the fall and prepare for winter, I get stuck in this weird position of wanting to ride and go out and school gymnastic lines and movements and hacking out, but there is no final goal we're working towards.  Well, there is a long term goal, but the short-term goals aren't written in stone like a competition.  It also doesn't help that our winters are extremely nasty up here so if I try to do any conditioning/fitness work on Koda, it will all go to pot.  What I'm tempted to do is work on educating both Koda and myself, working on more of the dressage than the jumping right now since it's something I can do when I'm schooling alone (no getting off and on to set jumps, etc.) and our "arena" is still draining fairly well.

As we roll into October, I know snow is on the way and winterizing the trailer is going to be a major priority (bringing in all the lotions and potions, store the show and extra tack, and figuring out what to do with the trailer to make sure it will be okay when it gets completely covered in snow).  I am praying that we don't have such a bad winter as last year, along with the rest of the drama that happened.  At least this winter I have all that I need to keep Koda cozy and comfortable through those -40 nights!

Let's hope for a short and warmer winter!

Winter Wonderland!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Thursday, 12 September 2013

South Peace Horse Trial

I decided that Koda and I were ready to actually compete in our first horse trial.  It went REALLY well for a first time out and Koda was a rockstar.  Some sticky moments here and there, along with a couple rails in stadium due to me being too tense, but really I'm nit-picking.  He was excellent, we have plenty to work on, but we fulfilled the goal of the weekend - finishing with a number, not a letter :)

Most of the comments on our test read included either balance and/or roundness.  Some of the marking didn't make sense with the comments attached (very nice comments, but got a 5...?) but he was a good boy and we have a clear way forward.

All photos and video of our stadium round were eaten by technology, but it was nothing to write home about.  We had a fine warm-up (thanks JS and JK for all the coaching and help!), but I got tense going into the ring.  The jumps were itty bitty, so I don't think Koda was respecting them as much (same as how he usually "jumps" at the Kathy Playdon clinics).  All in all, ended up with 3 rails, but eh!  We'll work on it :)

Cross country was super fun, although the hardest part of the ride was actually the warm-up.  The warm-up fences were along the track right beside the grandstand where the show office was.  There were flowers, people, and many other distractions right beside the warm up so really, if we could deal with that, the course was going to be a piece of cake.  Once we started our course, Koda just took it and went.  It was AWESOME!  Best part of the entire course were the first 3 fences on the track where we just had that fluid motion and flew.  We had a bit of a sticky on jump 4, but crawled over and off we went.  During my course walk the night before, I checked and I could step over every jump, so I had no problems pony club kicking Koda over if he got stuck staring at anything.  

We did it!!!

Monday, 9 September 2013

South Peace Clinic Day 3 - Cross Country

On the third day, we worked on doing some banks into and out of the water and tying together mini courses for each of us.  Koda was again a super star, but you could tell he was getting a bit tired from the intense jump schooling we'd been doing in the clinic.  This day we took it easy and didn't push Koda too much, just brought him back to what was easy for him (starter and pre-entry fences) and setting the rhythm.  He was VERY enthusiastic about one bank complex and launched off, unseating me a bit but got it under control.

At this point I decided that yes, we're doing the competition, Koda is feeling good, I'm feeling good, and everything is clicking.  I was happy I had been schooling the dressage test elements already so the test wasn't a big surprise.  Stadium was going to be simple since we had no related distances or combinations, all single fences of a max height of 2'.  The only issue I could see us having was him getting overwhelmed by the show atmosphere.  One thing I did to help him out for that was for our evening walk, I'd take him up to the stadium and dressage rings for some grazing time and to let him just look around.  They had moved a couple cross country fences into the stadium ring (Prelim. cross country for the competition) which had him the most concerned.  He was snorting and glaring at them, and I couldn't help but laugh at the poor boy.  Silly gelding, the jumps don't eat you, you eat the jumps!!

Om nom nom nom nom
Grazing and cooling of the legs all in one easy step

Sunday, 8 September 2013

South Peace Clinic Day 2 - Cross Country

For cross country day, Koda had his head on straight and we were ready to go.  I always get a little nervous/anxious when we're heading out there but it always ends up being super fun!  I think the anxiety stems from me not having been exposed to it as much and riding at speed.  For this day we did a ton of different things and looked at different types of questions.  We worked on a small bank complex, did some smaller courses, and worked over the pre-training ditch.  Koda was a star and Sandra actually complimented him that he was looking at the question and still going over instead of saying 'No way!'.

We did have a bit of an issue with a log roll-top which I think was part me (it looked big!) and part Koda's confidence.  We got over it eventually, Koda popping it SO high, he did NOT want to touch it.  Throughout the clinic it felt like Koda was popping me out of the tack a bit but I didn't really think of it until I saw some pictures my friend took.  He was over-jumping almost every fence!  Knees were snapping up and he seemed to be having a good time :)

Here are some shots of the first day:

Warm-up Fence

Sandra showing proper position coming off a bank

Down we go!  Koda didn't even look at it, good boy

Mini-course down the cut line

Off we go!

Last but not least, the best shot of the clinic (not the log roll top we were having issues at, this one he just went straight over... and I mean OVER!):


We schooled a ton of the pre-entry and entry jumps along with starter, and the bank line and ditch line were both pre-training level so I think Koda and I should be able to go pre-entry to entry next year as long as we put in the time this fall and winter.  Again with this day and seeing the photos, it really does show what Koda can do so it's about time that we start working up!  One thing I found out this day - I need to jump more oxers, solid looking oxers.  I was fine with all the scary things like drop downs, water, verticals, but oxers still got me.  Clearly Koda is fine with them, so I need to get my head on straight :)

Saturday, 7 September 2013

South Peace Clinic Day 1 - Stadium

We had a pretty uneventful drive down to the clinic with a stop-over at the farrier's for Koda to get some iron on his feet.  It was a bit of an experience for both of us since we weren't sure if Koda had ever been shod before (turns out he has) and I'd never seen a horse be hot shod (which Koda hadn't been either).  After getting shod, we continued our travels down to the clinic and got there within plenty of time to settle in and set up camp before nightfall.

The next day we were riding in the first group (ugh....) with Sandra Donnelly.  She's the same clinician I rode with down in Red Deer and I really enjoy her teaching style.  She breaks things down to simple concepts and can pin-point where you're going wrong back to one of those things.  Since we were riding in the Entry level group (BN/N) we had three things to think about - line, pace, and rhythm with our equitation tossed in as always.  We did a really great exercise to warm up which was trot on a circle over 5 poles set at a 1-stride distance.  The exercise was set up for the rider to have the pace and rhythm set before entering the exercise, seeing if your horse will carry the pace and rhythm that is set through the exercise, and for the exercise to ride successfully, you must keep your line through the poles.  It was self-evident when it was ridden incorrectly, if the line was lacking, pace, or rhythm.  We did this at the trot and canter.

Half-circle exercise

Once we were established in that exercise, we practised riding a line and choosing the pace we want coming into the line, through the line, and out.  Each rider would do variations of trot in, canter in, trot through, canter through, trot out, canter out, and halt at the end of the line.  Most horses found this exercise fairly simple, but the riders did find it difficult to keep the line while doing the transition through the line.

Did not notice until now, my shirt matches our breastplate

For the last half of the lesson we worked on mini courses.  The first course was to go through the first exercise (pole exercise that was now set at a height of 18" or so) canter 5 strides to an oxer on the diagonal, roll around to another oxer on the other diagonal, and go through the pole exercise to finish.  It was a great learning tool since you MUST have your lines set, along with riding the correct pace and rhythm for each element.  The last exercise we rode was an angled serpentine, not like the traditional serpentine in dressage that uses the half-circles, but more twisting back so using two-thirds of a circle for the serpentine loop to a jump.

Compilation of our stadium work, not all of it is here
Thanks AlbertaEventer for the video and photos!

Koda conquered all of it, I was so proud of him!  This really showed that I should start asking more of him and pushing us in the height and exercise areas.  Even when I didn't really ride the best (had an AWFUL ride to the red oxer on the right lead after the circle exercise), he still went and took care of both of us.

Thursday, 5 September 2013