Since I know you’ve all been waiting, here it is: the show was an absolute disaster. I don’t want to really discuss it in length because there’s just no way to properly describe how frustrating the whole thing was. Let’s put it this way, if I didn’t let Dandy go forward, he was going to rear. If I let him go forward, he was going to buck. So we scratched. I’ve got a plan with Jordan for this summer but I’ll discuss that later.
Luckily, I did get to go XC schooling the next day, so the whole weekend wasn’t quite a disaster. We had a great time and Dandy was high as a kite but willing to come back to me. Quite a difference from the day before.
My ride times are finally up! Originally there was a mistake and I had been put in the Novice division (eek!) but now I am rightfully put under Hopeful.
It is pretty exciting to see Dandy and I listed for reals in the line up. I’m also looking forward to not having to be there until the afternoon. I’d like to leave the barn at around 10 which should get me to the show grounds by noon. I think almost two hours should be enough for Dandy to calm down (and if I have to be on him to wear him out, so be it).
Only now I’m sitting here and realize just how much there is left to do!
- Lesson at 2:00
- Give Dandy a bath (mane and tail must be done!)
- Clean up whiskers and the like
- Take non essentials out of trunk and pack up
- Pack hay bag
- Clean tack
- Make sure I have extra clothes packed (typical rainy PNW weather tomorrow)
- Go to grocery store
- Make sandwiches for tomorrow
Pack up dog stuff except for choosing which kennel and water bowls
- Polish boots
- And probably a million other things I’m not thinking of…
Dandy was really good for our ride yesterday. He was still over jumping but he was listening and not so crazy. I much prefer that ride. I’m sure we’ll still have issues today but I feel more confident that I can take him around a little course tomorrow.
Took a little tumble today off Dandy in my lesson tonight. We were working on courses in preparation for the show on Saturday and Dandy was over jumping EVERYTHING. I felt like we were jumping everything terribly (or I was at least) and I’m sure that the over jumping wasn’t helping. On the first oxer of our course I made Dandy sit down and add a stride. He didn’t like that at all and gave me a nasty buck on the far side. That wasn’t what go me off though.
It was the very last jump of the course: a natural cross country jump. We came up to it and he jumped me right out of the saddle. I still probably could have saved it but on landing Dandy took a hard left and I was headed right. I landed on my feet and fell to my butt while Dandy just looked at me and said “What are you doing down there?”
I got back on and did the whole course again. Hopefully I won’t ride that badly on Saturday. I’m not sure what is up with me lately. I just feel out of sorts in my riding, like I’m not doing anything right. Oh well, we’ll figure it out. May do another lesson on Friday before the show. I think we need it.
That’s how much pressure I’m supposed to have in each rein at all times. You know, I’ve been told to have even pressure before. I’ve had the discussion of how much rein is currently in my hands before. But I’ve never had the whole concept explained so clearly. JLE is doing a great job in teaching me to handle every aspect of Dandy’s body at every point of a circle or at any point in the arena. I really feel like I’m understanding what to do, even if I’m still not reliably doing it at all points. I’m trying, but I start focusing on one thing and forget the others.
Today we worked on our straightness again and getting more impulsion. I’m having a really hard time getting him in front of my legs but it will come. We also started the spiraling exercise. I used to do this exercise with Shelly and Sheena and it was the bane of my existence, but surprisingly not so with Dandy. It was hard and we clearly have a lot to work on but we actually could do the exercise. JLE had me use the spiraling out to do a canter transition. Or she tried. It was hard work, and for some reason my transitions are a million times worse in my lessons than when I’m working by myself.
Our show is coming up pretty fast this weekend and I’m very nervous. The way he’s been acting lately is like he’s a completely different horse. I’m afraid that this is going to be a repeat of our Franktown Meadows show when I’d much rather have a repeat of our Pumpkin Roll Dressage Show. I have to remember how much things have changed for both of us and give us both some slack. Things don’t have to be perfect. At the same time, I need to keep things easy. Ask for what I know he can do.
We went down to watch some of the XC at the N.W.E.C. last Saturday and I feel confident that Dandy will be able to go over any of the starter jumps. The only thing that I was still worried about was the attitude. But Dandy really proved that he’s a steady head today, and that if I just give him the appropriate amount of pressure that he’ll be a good boy. Right after I brought him in for our lesson, it started pouring. No big deal. Dandy didn’t care about the rain pounding on the tin roof at all. However, halfway through our lesson, that rain turned into thunder. Loud thunder. What did Dandy do? Nothing. Not a flinch or anything.
I love my pony. He takes such good care of me. And he will on Saturday too.
Even though it has only been a week, I am already feeling a difference. Dandy is getting straighter and I’m getting better at feeling and adjusting accordingly when he wants to get wiggly. My elbows are softer and my hands more willing to follow. It helps when you have someone on the ground constantly reminding you to be soft.
Today we did a quick ride in the outdoor. For me it was working on softness and I wanted to get a few nice canter transitions in. Thankfully we did. I kept my outside rein super steady and really worked on bend. They still took longer than I would have liked but they were much better.
Once I got the transitions, we went on a quick trail ride. I stayed in the woods and decided to not go very far. Dandy was on edge. He even refused to go down a small ledge (think like 6 inches) and decided to get light on this feet. Oh no. We’re not having none of that! He got spun a few times and I asked again. And again. Finally he stepped down and got a ton of praise.
Since the trail was quicker than I had planned for, we went back to the arena and worked on canter transitions more. Didn’t really know what else to do. It looks like we’ll be adding small trail rides to our daily tasks. He wasn’t bad for the trail, just tense. He needs to learn to relax and trust that I’m not going to make him do anything he can’t.
One of the farriers was scheduled to come out after my lesson yesterday so I stuck around to meet him but he was running late and I had to get back to Harley. Hopefully I’ll get to meet him next time. Dandy was overdue for a trim and was going to get shoes on. While I will always prefer to keep a horse barefoot, the ground here is so rocky that Dandy can’t even walk to the outdoor without getting uncomfortable. So shoes went on.
I hope I made the right decision.
Coming home the puppy and I got stuck in the worst traffic I’ve seen in Seattle yet. I guess there was an accident on I-405. Ugh. I got off as soon as I could and things went much faster on the back roads (after being stuck on 520 for an hour).
I’m sitting at the Ford dealership waiting for my truck (standard oil and tire check) and really wishing it wouldn’t take so long. Oh well. At least it’s giving me time to figure out a schedule as our one day is in just 10 days! I can’t believe it is coming up so quickly. I feel like Dandy and I have so much to work on for just this little show.
Wednesday 5/8 – Lesson
Thursday 5/9 – Trail hack
Friday 5/10 – Flat work
Saturday 5/11 – Drive down to NWEC to watch the H.T. (and scope out the xc course)
Sunday 5/12 – Dressage test and canter transitions
Monday 5/13 – Lesson ?
Tuesday 5/14 – Grid and course work
Wednesday 5/15 – Off
Thursday 5/16 – Lesson ?
Friday 5/17 – Trail hack, pack trailer, and clean tack
Saturday 5/18 – Show Day!
All of this is open to being changed at a whim but looks basically right. I think if we focus on straightness and quiet transitions we should be prepared for anything that might get thrown at us. The max jump height is only 2′ after all.
Woah, I am out of shape! These past two lessons I’ve had are really kicking my butt.
The first exercise we did were just your basic trot poles. How long has it been since we did trot poles? Um. I don’t think I can answer that without feeling totally embarrassed that I’ve been skipping the basics. So anyway, I had two goals while going through the poles. The first was straightness. As JLE noticed right away, and I’ve lamented about in the past, Dandy has a natural right drift. Not ideal. I did my best to keep my right leg on and opened my left rein to encourage him to keep straight. It was hard. Making it harder was my second goal: rhythm. I had to not only keep my posting rhythm the same as Dandy wanted to rush through the poles, I had to apply the appropriate half-halts to keep him focused.
Once we had gone through both ways fairly decently, we moved on to canter poles. Another exercise I’ve neglected. Dandy and I are having a really really hard time getting the correct lead on the canter lately, that is if we get the transition at all. It makes me a little nervous for our dressage test… Once we did manage to get the correct lead we did the canter poles. It was, once again, hard work to keep him straight and not rushing through them.
Finally JLE put one of the poles into a vertical. Things went much better once that happened. After a few times through (working on our straightness all the time), JLE put up a second vertical so we had a canter pole – vertical – one stride (with a canter pole) to a vertical – canter pole. Dandy was being really good about being adjustable between the jumps but I have to watch myself as I was opening up my body too quickly and making him rub the rail with his back feet. To end things JLE added one more one stride to a vertical. When Dandy saw this he really wanted to back off from the grid (we have had issues with them in the past) but I kept my leg on and give him some verbal encouragement. After the second jump he wanted to fly! But with a half halt and a “ho,” Dandy came back and jumped the last one nicely. I was so proud of him. He was really patting the ground and going nicely.
I am looking forward to our next lesson but I could do without this heat! It was 88 degrees when I got off Dandy! I do not do well with this heat. I also need to start cross training a little more aggressively. My core is not what it should be. Maybe if I just start once a week I can work up to this.
I had my first lesson with JLE today and to sum it up: AWESOME. We never moved off the 20 meter circle despite plans to jump but I would take that lesson any day of the week. We worked on getting contact with the outside rein and keeping Dandy straight on the circle instead of fishtailing out like he prefers. This is something I’ve worked on with other trainers but JLE really explained it in a way I connected with. I have to be aware of every aspect of his body every second, and I have to be constantly making corrections. I can’t have him bulge out and think “oh I’ll fix that next go around.” I have to fix it now. Which of course is something past trainers have told me, but JLE taught me how. When he wants to bulge out, I have to apply a half halt and a strong outside leg, almost yielding him over to where I want to be. When he wants to counter bend, I have to apply the inside.
It all sounds pretty basic when I type it out, but it just hit. Not to mention that with her guidance I saw some vast improvements. We even got some nice moments at the canter which I’ve never been able to get before. Next Monday we’re doing a jumping lesson. I’m super excited to show JLE what Dandy can do. She seemed to really like him and kept commenting on how nice he was and that once he muscled out he’d really be a looker. Hopefully that means good things for us!
As for the annoying habit… apparently Dandy is chewing on the wood around his stall and in his turnout. Ugh. They painted some nasty stuff on it but they’ve also decided to move him to a different paddock. He’s now going to be working up his tolerance to green grass in the best pasture in the house, the one that is normally reserve for JLE’s Rolex and hopefully future Olympic horse. Only both of them are out for the summer so the pasture is open. Apparently everyone has been asking to move their horse in there but since Dandy is the one chewing wood, he gets the special treatment.
Hmmm, I’m sort of wondering if this was his plan all along.
Even reviews, back to our regular scheduled blog.
Today I had to force myself to go out to the barn but it ended up being really nice. Just as I was about to get on I got a call from my new trainer. We chatted for a while about Dandy and my goals and eventually set up a lesson for tomorrow! So excited for that. It’s at 2:15 and I’m really hoping Dandy is as good tomorrow as he was today.
Because he was just about perfect. He was still spooking at the little pony (“Mom, that is NOT a horse!” “Yes it is, Dandy.” “I don’t believe you. I will never believe you.”) but there wasn’t any goofy business today. After a quick warm up I sent him over a few of the smaller jumps. There were some fun blocks to play with and a green astro turf roll top thing. He did, unfortunately, run out at that one but that was my own fault because I didn’t keep momentum so by the time we got up there he just didn’t think I really wanted him to go. It wasn’t a problem the second time around.
Every jump he jumped large but I grabbed mane and held on! Here’s hoping my normal sweet OTTB is back to stay.