Monday, 26 May 2014

Trot sets, Rollbacks, and Schooling

As the weather gets better and better, Koda and I are ramping up our training regime.  We've embarked on our first trot set (oh goodness... need to plan those better), did a super cool jump school at the arena, and did a basic flat school at home.

Trot Sets Day
I really want both Koda and I to be fit for our up coming season so my thought was let's do some trot sets!  Now, I did some basic research on it, where you'd want to start with your horse, amount of time of work vs rest, etc., then headed out to give 'er a go.  Since I'm still freaked out about riding on the roads or outside of an enclosed area without others around, we did our sets in the back field.  The plan was to do 3 sets of 5 minutes of trot (not poking around, at least a working trot) with 2 minutes of walk.  To notch it up a bit for me, I decided to ride it all in two point.  As we went through our sets, some canter was thrown in to spice it up, but otherwise we just kept trucking along around the back field, doing some circles, etc.  During the last set, I lost focus (legs were DYING) as we were cantering back close to the barn.  Koda slowed up and started to do a weird hind end crow hop, I'm assuming half-heartedly bucking.  I get pulled out of my dream of legs in pain as my nose is heading towards his mane.  Luckily I caught myself and once we were both settled decided the lil bugger was going to WORK the last few minutes of the set.

Lesson learned: always focus and change it up during the sets to help keep the focus!
All ready to trot!
Rollbacks Day
As I was heading away for the weekend, I wanted to get a really good ride in before giving Koda the weekend off.  We headed to the arena, me thinking I was going to work on a simple small course, perhaps a basic hunter course.  Once it got time to set the course, I was much too lazy to set an entire course, so just set up 3 jumps along centerline on angles, hoping to ride a slightly skewed serpentine over them.  Also, since I want to keep wearing my big girl panties, I bumped the heights up to 2'9".  As we started the exercise, it became EXTREMELY evident that we wouldn't be able to do the serpentine loops (too tight of turn) so I changed the pattern.  The first few times over, it was ok but not great.  Took a break trying to figure out what's not working.... ah ha!  I'm not RIDING Koda to the fences, I'm just dumping him!  Ok, with that figured, off we went again and with me riding my horse, the exercise went so smoothly.  When Koda was set up, he just flew over those fences even when we went into a tight rollback or jumped on an angle.  If we weren't set right, he'd still jump it but not exactly in style (deer jumps!).

Lesson learned: At height, RIDE your horse to the fences, use your body!
Quick graze before heading home
Today was my first day back in the tack after the whirlwind weekend back home.  I'm in the process of breaking in a new pair of field boots and decided to take them out tonight for a ride.  To keep it simple, I decided to do a flat school, nothing major or new, just riding our regular exercises in the back field.  Everything was fine, although after 20 minutes my left calf was dying from the boot being so tight.  Koda was a pretty good boy although he was a bit confused and uptight about working on dressage in the field where he usually gets to run, play, and most importantly, GRAZE!  He did put in some good work for me, getting more strides with him working through, but it is not consistent in the least.  He goes better at the arena in the deeper footing, but it's still good for him to learn to school in any area.  Afterall, he is an eventer ;)
I think the ride could have been better if I rode in my broken-in boots, but overall he did well.

Lesson learned: Soften new boots with conditioner/wearing around the house more before first ride.
Prairie sunset.  I love this time of year!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Shout Out!!!

Just had to re-post this for my friend and fellow blogger alberta eventer!  Her helmet cam of the prelim ride at Chase Creek this past weekend was posted on Eventing Nation!!!

I watched this video with the Fiancé and even he, the non-horsey guy of the household, was getting pumped up.  Incredible ride, incredible horse, incredible rider.

Monday, 19 May 2014


While cooling out after a dressage school at the arena with a couple friends, we discovered a new trail that has a lot of possibility!  It's essentially a trail around the outskirts of a hayfield, but with EXCELLENT footing through one section, perfect for canter/speed work.  It's also set along the back part of the trail, so not near any type of magnet to draw Koda's attention.  We've hacked out alone along the warm-up/walking trail and Koda was a perfect gentleman.  Future plans are going to include fitness work along this new track!

There are more trails through the woods, but this shows the top trail

In other news, I've found a hunter/jumper clinic and show happening in Grande Prairie two weeks after the dressage show I plan to attend.  Now, money is ALWAYS a priority here, so I am now deciding which one I'd like to go to, which would be of the biggest benefit.  I'm leaning towards the clinic and show, plus it's at a facility that I know and love (Evergreen Park).  It may also end up being cheaper too, but need a bit more information from the organizers.

Oh the possibilities :)

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Getting Into a Groove

As we prep for our first dressage show (first pure dressage show ever!), we've settled into a good ride routine.  Groom with BOT back warmer, tack up and go straight into a long trot to get into the groove of things.  Toss in a couple canter transitions to get the blood flowing.  Move into circles and serpentines, asking for more shape and to step up underneath himself.    From there we move into whatever exercise I want to work on that day.

This set up has been working really well, and I've noticed a big difference from when I use the back warmer vs not.  After playing around in the sandbox for a while, we head down the trails for a short hack to unwind and relax a bit.  When we're hacking away from home, Koda is a lot easier to relax and enjoy on the trails.  Our hacks are short, but still really enjoyable.  It was so nice to be able to take him down the trail on a loose rein enjoying the sunshine and smells of spring.


Rollin' after a job well done
I'm going to introduce a bit of lunging with the vienna reins to help him work those muscles a bit more, and that we can do at the yard so save gas and time!

In the meantime, I had some fun with scrap wood and paint to make a couple fun jumps.  I'm not exactly the most artistically inclined person, but I'm handy with straight edges and a can of paint.  The plank is going to be attached to a pole, and the black frame will have a tarp put on it to be used as a liverpool or fake ditch.

Ditch on the left, plank on the right (green side)
Canada flag without the leaf as the opposite side 

Saturday, 10 May 2014

We jump the jumps

I was lucky enough to snag the arena Friday night for some riding time solo, and doubly lucky that the Fiancé was willing to come with and be a jump crew/videographer!  Since I'm still slowly introducing Koda back to the wonderful world of jumping, I set up a simple grid of crossrail-stride-vertical-stride-oxer.  In our arena, it's a bit tight, but it worked for us.

Cross rail only

I started off slowly, just building it up as we go like my old instructor showed us back in Nova Scotia.  My placement was ok for the poles, but as the jumps went up, Fiancé had to move my oxer out a foot, making our corner even tighter.

Cross rail and vertical

Koda was SUPER up about jumping, it was kind of funny because he'll usually just truck around and get down to business, but when the jumps are out and he's lined up for them, the ears are pricked forward and he takes me through :)

Cross rail, vertical, and oxer

I found it really cool that he was offering to carry himself properly before we came to the grid line, shaping himself up and just having fun with it.  After the line, I tried to either put in a halt (not fully built grid) or a circle or something without tailing off at the end as if we were just doing a triple combination and continuing our course.
I love my horse

The way he was jumping made me extermely comfortable in the tack.  As some of you guys know, I've had issues with oxers/wide jumps from last year.  Darn box type things on cross country!  The goal this year is to get over that by jumping larger boxy oxers in the arena so that on xc, they'll seem puny.  Which they will be.  Now, I've only really schooled around 2'3" to 2'6" by myself, and up to 2'9"ish in lessons before.  Last night, Fiancé set the heights, and I didn't realize it but once I got off and looked at the oxer, the back rail was set at 2'9"!

And it felt like NOTHING!

Case and point - the height doesn't bother Koda, I just need to get out of my head and do it

A few days ago I read a post by Denny Emerson (Tamarack Hill Farms) that is going to be a bit of focus for me this year with Koda.  The essence of it was if you stick around a certain limit, you'll start feeling like that's your max and you can't go further, and if you don't push the envelope a bit, you're going to get stuck:

Whatever you are doing, see if you can push it a little. 
If you aren`t subsequently dead, push a little more. 
Don`t be totally stupid, but be a little stupid.  
A little stupid`s not a bad thing

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Trotting in circles...

This is just going to be a media dump of our latest schooling ride over the weekend.  Koda and I have been getting some very nice break throughs with him really starting to use himself properly and me riding him well!  We're listening to each other (FINALLY) and aren't bickering - win!

Was riding with a couple friends while they worked out their barrel horses.  It was cool watching them work theirs while I did my own, those horses are QUICK off their feet!

Our canter work still needs some help since it feels like he's pulling himself around with his shoulders instead of sitting down on his hind end, but it will come.  The ride after this one, we had a GREAT break through when he offered me an actual lengthening instead of just popping his head up, hollowing his back, and moving his legs faster.  


Saturday, 3 May 2014


A while back, I was reading a post Andrea from over at The Reeling ( made about her little mare Imogen.  She was looking into the colouring of her mare as she was a bay with some interesting characteristics.  She had white hair roaning throughout her coat, but wasn't a true roan.  There was also some white tail and mane hairs (skunk or coon tail).  After she did some research, she discovered that her little mare was a rabicano bay!

After reading that post, I wondered whether Koda may be a rabicano as he has the same type of roaning over his body (more so around the flank and lower barrel).  He doesn't have too much white on his tail, and even less throughout his mane so may not be a true rabicano bay.

Roaning along the flank

Minor to no white (most likely be more if his herdmates
hadn't pulled his tail for him over the winter...)

No white in this forelock!
It's kind of funny, since when I first bought Koda I SWORE he was a true brown.  His winter coat was extremely dark with brown along his flank and had brown accents on his face.  Lo and behold, he shed out and became this gorgeous bay instead of the expected brown.

April 2012

July 2012
After shedding out in 2012, he has never been as dark as he was then.  I did a quick post on the chronicle of the horse under the breeder forum to see if anyone could figure anything about his bloodlines.  Looks like his breeding is mainly colour based (black... of course, everyone wants the black arabian), and his sire is known as a jack of all trades.  If you want to see what some helpful COTHers dug up, here's the old thread:!

In other news, I'm 95% sure I've nailed down our summer competition schedule while keeping the budget in mind, and we're already working towards our first outing - our first dressage show!  Stay tuned for updates.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Flying Again!

Tonight was the reintroduction to jumping for Koda and I.  The ride started out just as usual, but I had a couple goals:

1) Don't get into a bickering fight
2) Jump the single big X from a steady pace
3) HAVE FUN!!!!

I'm happy to report we did all three tonight!

Started off with a nice long trot to settle down and get into work mode.  I wanted to keep the ride short and sweet, so after doing some trot and dashes of canter, brought him back and worked on transitions to help develop the gaits I wanted before we tackled the big X.  After a while, he started to really dig in and push off again from the hind, good pony!

Do you possibly have cookies?

Once I felt we were both settled into a groove, we tackled the X.  Essentially what I wanted was to just ride the rhythm of the trot or canter and the x be a bump in the road.  First few times over, Koda took some flyers.  Of course, didn't help that I wasn't really riding to a 'distance', more just letting him pick what he wanted to do.  After a bit, I started to ride and ask for the shortened stride to get a proper jump.  Koda complied willingly and it was wonderful!  We went over it a few more times, tossing in canter circles or halts after the fence.  Again, Koda was wonderful!  After getting a couple really nice soft transitions after the fence, we called it a night.  After untacking, Koda got his legs and pasterns all trimmed up to not look so much like a woolly mammoth.  We're still shedding up here, but it's almost all out, thank goodness!

The days are getting longer and longer!