Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Magic Cusion Saves the Day!

Well not really, but Eli was better last night just not 100%. Monday he was lame right at the start of my lesson :( It appeared abscess-like and on the right front. We did find a sneaky little pebble tucked away in his foot. So maybe that was it. I packed the foot with Magic Cushion and wrapped with duct tape.

For those of you that have never used Magic Cushion you should! (If the time comes that you need to that is.) It ROCKS! It's sticky as hell and you need rubber gloves to put the stuff in there. Rubbing alcohol gets it off of your skin though if you get it on you. I will never ever use any other packing. I can't imagine anything else would ever work as well as this!

I had cheapy duct tape from DG. Do NOT go cheap on duct tape. It tore and he walked out of it basically. Last night I had better duct tape and I tried the diaper trick. A lady at the barn told me to pack with magic cushion, put a diaper over that and wrap with duct tape. So I tried it. She says he won't walk out of the diaper. We'll see. So in preparation for tonight I went to Dollar General to buy some diapers.

I am now the proud owner of 50 diapers. Geesh. I went cheap and bought an off brand. I hope that wasn't a bad choice. It was either $10 or $6 for 50. I didn't want 50!! It wasn't the price, but the fact that now I have 50 flipping diapers and no baby butt for them! :) Fingers crossed that when I get to the barn tonight the diaper is still on! Fingers and toes crossed that he is sound!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Don't canter like he's 3 years old!

I had an amazing lesson on Saturday. Maybe it was magnified by the fact that Eli felt SO good compared to all the giraffe problems we were having. The chiro really helped!

I always struggle with keeping the outside rein short enough. That is nothing new. We addressed that. Bascially I should always be ready to do a piroutte. Now we only do them at the walk, but I need to think about that feeling and I need to be ready to do one at the walk at any moment.

We had a bit of an awakening in the canter. This is my nemesis. There is no doubt about that. During this lesson my trainer really made me ride into the corners. I tend to not want to do that. It's hard. We might break. Lord knows we don't need any help breaking. We do that well enough on our own! However, the corner really helps to put Eli on his butt. It forces balance. It isn't easy. Sometimes we didn't get in the corner deep enough. Sometimes we broke. That didn't happen too many times cause I knew that I'd be forced to ride the corners so might as well figure out how to do that ASAP. So we did! And we did it well! The best thing was that when we came out of the corner we had a great canter! :) The quality was better and I had more horse behind me. If you remember the last post I talked about having enough horse behind me to keep the push in the canter. I don't want him pulling himself along with his front legs. My trainer talked to me about how my instinct is to make the corners easier. To not go into them too deep. That's great for a young horse, but my horse is not 3 years old and I need to stop riding him like that. It was very eye opening cause I do! I make easy corners which ultimately just make us lose balance. The complication comes in that we don't have many good corners to ride deep into at home. So we then practiced with making my own corners by turning from B to E and vise versa. That's hard! I asked my trainer to stand there so that I had to turn in front of him. I was overshooting. He said no because I needed to learn how to this so I could repeat it at home. I did fairly well and well enough to affect the canter like I needed to. Then we did a harder exercise. We picked up the counter canter and turned across the arena at B in counter canter and then turned at E in true canter. We all know how I love to counter canter! That "corner" like turn was a bit hard, but I excel at the counter canter and we did well. This made the turn in true canter feel "easier". At least it was suppose to - especially for Eli. It seemed to and we had a great canter through that turn and out of it. My trainer said it's getting tiresome reminding me that the counter canter is suppose to be harder! Ha ha. He says there is no reason that I shouldn't be able to do the same things in true canter that I do in counter canter. I tell that to myself every single day! Some day maybe it will work. :) In the meantime we are riding like we are big boys and trying to ride deep into the corners. Next lesson is at my barn tomorrow night and we are suppose to work on this again so I can get the feel in my arena. I did learn today during my ride that there is a lot more time between corners in my arena (it's huge!). So that makes it a bit challenging to maintain a good canter to get through the next corner. I might need to shorten the arena and make my own corners. We'll see what happens tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it! :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Outside shoulder & energy behind

I haven't posted in a while. Eli had a period of being very stiff and uncomfortable. I had two good rides and then the third day the horses were turned out after being in for a couple days. Eli was very different that day. He was stiff and giraffe like. I tried to work him through it to no avail. I put two different riders on him to see what would happen. They didn't have much more success than I did. Other than they didn't fight him quite so much. When it's your horse, it's awfully hard not to fight. I ended up giving him a week off.

This past Monday I went to the other barn for a lesson. I had my trainer get on him first after explaining what was going on. He agreed he was very stiff. He was able to work Eli through it with limited resistance from Eli. I had a good ride after that. Eli is so much more responsive to my legs and I can ride him with less work. That helps with our canter issues. Eli was resistant to bending, but in a way I was over bending him. This caused him to fall out on his outside shoulder. That caused him to raise his head and be a giraffe to balance. My trainer had me *think* of renvers on a circle but with true bend. What did that do? It caused me to limit the bend and keep the outside shoulder. This worked really really well. We did some walk pirouettes before doing some canter work. In the canter I was to think about the pirouette. This resulted in a half halt from the outside rein, keeping the outside rein short and increasing the bend in his hind legs. Basically a well ridden half halt! The good thing was since my trainer warmed him up, he was so responsive to my leg that we didn't break at all. I had quite a bit of horse behind me. I know that sounds backwards. You always want the horse in front of your leg, but you need an engine behind you. During this ride I had quite a bit of push from his hind legs and they were active and he was coming through. So I'm trying to ride with this feeling in mind. The short outside rein, the outside shoulder trapped from going too far out and some horse behind me! :)

Wednesday I had the chiro come for Eli. He was really locked in his neck in several places and had some shoulder issues. He had Thursday off and today he was much happier under saddle. I really think he did something in turnout the day all these issues started. There was such a dramatic difference in him from the previous day that I just don't know what else could have happened.

Tomorrow I go to my trainer's barn for a lesson. We usually have really good lessons when we go there. I hope tomorrow is no exception! :) Here's to a safe trip. . .

Monday, May 3, 2010

RIDE the spook!

Every now and again something will happen that shows me how far my riding has come. Yesterday was one of those days. Eli had two days off. He was not cooperative. Travis’ (the stall cleaner) fiancĂ© was there with his 3 year old son, Noah. They were watching me ride on and off. I don’t like being watched by someone new, especially if they ride, and she used to. The volume of the radio was loud. That gives me a headache sometimes (it did yesterday) and worries Eli. He gets worried when there is a lot of action at the barn and he can’t “hear” it. This was the case yesterday. The shit shaker makes a lot of noise, as does stall cleaning in general. Other boarders had arrived and people were talking, but you couldn’t really hear them. Noah was sitting in the chair the last time I looked. . . I came down the long side in counter canter and was riding through the short side. I looked up at Travis’ fiancĂ© (I cannot remember her name to save my life) and made eye contact, for some reason. At that time, Noah flung a matchbox car across the concrete and Eli freaked. I don’t know if it was the sound of the car or the fact that he couldn’t really see the kid or the car well due to the rails of the fence. Being in counter canter during a spook is interesting when the horse wants to go away from the “inside”. It’s hard for to put into words what I’m thinking, but everything gets messed up quickly as you lose the outside rein as the horse changes the bend on you. Maybe he changed leads too. I don’t know. I’m not sure what he did, but we ended up halfway down the next long side before we got our act together. Here is where the light bulb comes in. When a horse spooks what do you think? I think “oh shit!” I think “stop”, “hang on”, “damn I lost my stirrups” . . . any number of things. Yesterday I didn’t want my new helmet to get dirty already! In anycase, I tend to think about what to do to stop the situation. And of course I always lose my stirrups. That is a given. It is probably due to the lack of weight in my feet overall when I ride. I tend to start leaning forward in an attempt to regain my balance and that is when someone yells “sit back!” We’ve all been there right? Yesterday as I lost my stirrups and assessed the situation, I suddenly thought “ride!” I thought “this is no different than riding without stirrups.” I don’t do that often enough, but I’ve had my fair share of lunge lessons and rides without stirrups. I also thought “use your seat”. So I sat deep and I just rode whatever we had at the moment, which was some off balance canter I think . . . who knows. There weren’t too many bucks involved in the whole situation I don’t think. Unless I’m just so use to bucks now that they don’t phase me. Maybe I should have had this light bulb moment earlier. I think this is what makes a good rider be able to ride the spooks. They ride what they are given rather than fight it. I have a very athletic spooking horse. When he’s scared he can look like he belongs at the rodeo in the bucking bronco show! He can leap, buck and twist all at once. Those that have seen his antics can back me up. It can be impressive and difficult to sit. Last year when he was scared to death of whatever the hell was outside the big door, I got to experience his athleticism in all its glory as I crashed into the sand. That has made me more defensive during spooks than I use to be. However, in the last couple years of working with my trainer, my seat has gotten better. I have a LONG way to go. (Who doesn’t?) But it’s way better than it use to be. What use to unseat me, now unseats me less and I can get my act back together quicker. Two years ago I’d have probably hit the dirt during the spook I had yesterday. That’s embarrassing to admit. Even with our current problems I’ve come a long way in regards of my seat and balance. Last year’s spook-fest over that big door might have helped! The summary is that I’m ready for the next spook. I’m going to “ride” rather than fight it and try to stop it. Maybe if I had this thought process last year the door situation wouldn’t have gotten the best of me mentally. It is moments like this that make me feel like I’m making some progress. It’s probably small to some of you. You might be saying “duh”, but I’m glad that the light bulb came on. Let’s hope my brain doesn’t turn it off the next time this situation arises.