Friday, January 29, 2010

No Shows

Ah I pulled out of Gisborne in the end, it was so far to travel and I wasn't feeling that positive about the whole thing. Mostly because of the heat and the fact Kate probably isn't fit enough yet to jump a full three day show. Last year by 8.00am I would be standing on the ramp just sweating from the heat and thats before I even got on a horse, it was pretty uncomfortable.

I was supposed to go to Langdale sports day today instead, but when I went to load up, Kate had a sprung shoe, and it's not really worth it with one horse, especially as the horse I want to take is Kate rather than Connie. I have been jumping a few times at home. Connie cleared a fence that was five foot wide, just a small fence though maybe 80cm. I was just trying to get her to reach across the fence more, and she managed it quite easily. Then jumping Kate I had something of an epiphany on how to handle her hot hot hot behaviour (She luuurvves to jump). So she comes round to the fence and starts to rush and I immediately lift my hands and block her from instinct, having not ridden very hot horses. By focusing on keeping my hands lower and the check smoother, I'm getting a lot better ride to the fence (less bouncing) and a rounder shape over the fence. I'm learning so much with her because she reflects every mistake I make even the subtle ones that Connie lets me get away with.

One thing that has been troubling me though is that I'm really struggling to get Connie back in front of the leg. After Kihikihi and Gladstone she was quite strong and really taking me to the fence but now it's gotten hotter she is getting duller. She isn't as fit as she was then but she is still pretty fit. I really need to go do gallops with her I think and just get her running fit.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Picture of Connie from Danniverke

Here is Connie in the first 1.10m class at Danniverke. The one were she jumped awesome. Mum says it looks like she is about to have the rail but she doesn't. I look like I'm going out the back door but I'm not. I don't think my position ever looks at good on Connie. Guess she wouldn't make an Equitation horse!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Looking forward

Oh poor bloggy, I have rather being avoiding you. I have to say while I love my blog and my blog friends and having this record of the things I have done, it does make you very accountable. I know that even if I mess up it's going up here where anyone can read it. To be honest I'm surprised my blog has never picked up a detractor because there is plenty of ammunition to be gained here :D I'm not exactly sure what my point is. Ahh! I get it now. When I make a goal and I tell you guys the goal well then I'm held accountable to the goal. It's not like having big fat secret hopes for myself, it's an actual in public goal that I need to work towards. In a way thats good for my often directionless, lazy self.

The entries went out. Horse of the Year entries *gulp* $700 dollars worth of Horse of the year entries. I dumped my savings into the horse account so that that cheque doesn't bounce like an rubber ball. I thought about this hard or so long but in the end without HOY to work towards, what was the point? What was the end goal? I'm not going to see any of that money back most probably unless I ride like insanely well. Even if I win the Amateur class I wont make half of that back haha! I don't think it's likely I will win be see above about big fat secret hopes :) Life is after all about experiences and not the accumulation of money and I want to go play with the big boys. I have 8 weeks.

Gisborne Show next weekend. Connie is in 1.10s and Kate does 1.10s and she is entered in 1.15m for if she goes well in the smaller class. After all as my friend said I brought Kate for the miles riding a horse who had done it before and it doesn't necessarily have to be pretty and perfect. I'm nervous but a bit excited.

Monday, January 11, 2010

North Island Championships at Danniverke

Ah well what a show of up and downs. Rascal was completely dog. The only fence we jumped was the practice fence. There is a lot to be done there me thinks. Anyway, the first class on Friday was Connie in the 1.10 and she was a star. It was a big spooky track for her second 1.10m and she had a rail at the first because she was pooping but otherwise jumped really well. I had a few problems with the canter being a bit dull but it wasn't so bad that it caused any problems I had warmed up in the pelham but switched back to the snaffle after realising how fussy with her head she was following the clinic. Then Rascal came out and was eliminated at the first and subsequently scratched from the rest of the show.

I think that rattled me a lot because the next day despite a smaller and easier track, I just didn't come to the party and rode absolutely abysmally. It didn't help that Connie was feeling a bit flat, but I definitely psyched myself out and subsequently retired at the 7th fence because I was going so poorly. Poor Connie being burdened with me. I d wonder what is up with Connie though, whether the round the day before where she tried her heart out had taken a lot out of her, or whether she is getting a cold or something because the lovely canter she normally has just wasn't in existence.

I downgraded then to the 3'3" championship class instead of the 3'6" just to make sure I would ride her confidently and to make it easier for her. It was a lot better even though by the end of the round she was starting to lose the canter again and feel flat. Still she was clear. In the jump off I regretted not having front studs in as she slipped and slid a little in front which can't have helped her confidence, but I try not to use studs on her where I can because she isn't a big fan. She again jumped really well and I rode about averagely so while I can't be that excited because I don't feel we earned it, we still managed 6th out of 75 and got a super pretty wide pale pink ribbon. I have never gotten a wide before in showjumping so that was awesome. I'm sure I would be happier if I felt like I had ridden better and thus earned it, but lets be honest if I had been riding better I would have gotten more than 6th! just joking, just joking!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Photos from the clinic

Photos are all from the first day of the clinic. none of the pictures of Rascal show what I wasn't happy with, but you can see that Connie was behind the bridle. The problem isn't the bit because my curb rein always has slack in it.

Trotting poles to jump exercise on Rascal

Rascal down the grid

I'm not sure why I'm rising here, because we only sitting trotted, I must have been sneaking a break :)

overbent much? le sigh. At least she looks strong and fit

Connie proving her complete inability to do the trot pole to jump exercise. Mostly it looks like she can't get her legs organised. Her off hind is still way up in the air when she takes off.

Connie down the grid

This was the figure 8 exercise, you can see the other fence we turned over in the foreground to the right

First fence of the upright to oxer to upright line.

Daniel Meech clinic 3 the summation

Connie jumped ok in her final lesson. On the second day both of my horses had jumped really well. So I couldn't understand then why I was so dissatisfied with the lessons I had just had. Daniel was really unapproachable, I felt like I couldn't ask him any questions, he was also very terse and really didn't offer a lot in the way of advice. It was normally one sentence after you jumped. Or just good. It took me two days to decide I wouldn't go back again, but once I reached that decision I was a lot happier.

It's hard to decide you don't agree with an top international rider, especially when I am just a no one. But when it came down to it I found him to be too hard. Too hard on the horses, asking for too much with not enough softness and give in the contact. Too hard at the base of the fence and too hard on landing. After watching him ride a couple of horses and seeing how overbent (behind the vertical) he rides them I have decided his method just isn't going to work for me.

Once I got to Danniverke for North Islands this weekend both of my horses were a little scared in the contact and behind the leg. Connie especially was really fussy, and it took me ages to get Rascal to soften and lengthen her neck to the contact. It feels like I spent a lot of money to lose quite a bit of ground training wise because I'm going to be back to getting both of them soft and in front of the leg and quiet in the bridle. It would have been better if I had taken the lessons and ignored the parts I didn't like, but I feel when you go have a lesson you really need to try the method before you rule it out. At the show this weekend I noticed many of his students not going so well which was interesting. Though a couple really performed amazing, so it definitely works for some people.

North Islands was such a mixed bag show, I don't know if I'm happy or really pleased, though I have learned some good lessons. It was a funny show, lots of tensions and undercurrents, it made for a tiring three days.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Daniel Meech Clinic 2

I had Connie for my second lesson. I had her in the pelham because she is often very strong the first dayout. She isn't strong in the mouth, she has a nice mouth but she locks up in the neck and the action of the pelham encourages her to give in the poll, and when she is soft in the neck she is a breeze to ride. I did the same work with her that I had done on Rascal earlier. More flatwork, with more collecton and more flexing which Connie is quite capable of. I don't know if the andalusian breeding helps, or because I have always been pretty systematic in her schooling, but she finds flatwork pretty easy despite not being particularily balanced or through. That sounds backwards I know but once she is soft she is a pretty easy ride. I think I never even picked up my curb rein on her the whole lesson.

The trot poles to the small jump exercise didn't go well on Connie. Daniel said it was the bit being to strong and her not jumping across it but really Connie can't jump from a trot to save herself. There is a nifty photo I will get up soon of her trying to do this exercise and there are legs everywhere! She was a lot better through the grid, she felt nice down it, and I could feel her using her back well over the last oxer. It was exactly the same issues with Connie as it was with Rascal, needing to be more together and more organised and more determined to get my leads, and to ride with a better eye.

The final exercise with the line of three fences was better on Connie, but I was really running out of horse at this point so struggled to get the six strides heading down the hill because she just wanted to break. I got there in the end though and it was ok.

The next day when I started on Rascal she wasn't having a bar of any flatwork, she was pretty stiff and sore. I agreed with her to be fair, I have never had every muscle in my body hurt before so there you go. I never got her to free up her neck so to me anyway it felt like I was arguing with her more than I would have liked. I guess I prefer a more work up to the collection approach rather than asking for it from the get go. I get told to slow down a lot! We warmed up over a little upright and then went to a figure 8 exercise over a single oxer. Again the focus was staying collected and landing on the right leads. The wasn't much room it was a 15m circle turn with three strides before the fence and you had to be turning away wthin the landing stride. It was a lot easier for me than the easier version we had done before, but Rascal was quicker about getting her leads and I had a better idea of what I had to do so I guess that makes it easier.

We finished with a course made up of three related lines. So left canter circle to the first fence, right hand dogleg of five waiting strides to the oxer, then a right hand dogleg of 7 waiting strides to the picket. Left hand circle to the start of the next line- I had a stop here to start off with because I missed and didn't stay strong enough on take-off- 6 stride right hand dogleg to the liverpool oxer then 6 flowing more direct strides to the other picket, left hand roll back to the planks, five waiting strides to the liverpool oxer the other way and then a 7 stride right hand dogleg to the final fence. Tough eh. We rode each line (three fences) individually and then jumped the whole lot. I started out a little messy and Rascal a little spooky but by the time we came to the final run through of the course it went ok. I got a "good" so I must have improved.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Daniel Meech Clinic

Sorry for the lack of photos, the camera has packed up. There maybe a few pictures but you will have to wait. Overall, the whole experience was humbling I guess. I thought I had a reasonably solid grounding, but my word perhaps not. My problems all stemmed from my casual kiwi attitude to riding. I just don't do enough. The first lesson was on Rascal and it started with lots of flatwork, trying to get the horses really collected. I thought I had collected, but this as collected beyond that. Which is hard work, especially because my horses aren't fit to this sort of collection so I was working my ass off trying to hold her together.

I will in the next few days draw up the exercises we did but we started with trotwork over trot poles and then added a small fence to that so we trotted over the poles, 9 feet to a small jump, 9 feet to a rail that we cantered out over- making sure you get the right lead of course. The next exercise was a grid with a small bounce, short stride to an upright, normal stride to an oxer. My biggest flaw here is that my position has stared to collapse in front of the fences, which of course causes my horse to collapse. He wanted me to sit up all the way to the base and hold my horse collected all the way to the base. I normally allow the horse to lower it's head before the fence but he prefferd that I don't do that. This and my lack of eye to the fences were my biggest issues. He kept saying stop getting so deep- make your decision earlier, but I don't see my spots early enough for that I guess. He must have a phenomenal eye.

The next exercise was a figure eight over two fences making sure to get good spots and land on the correct lead. I really sucked at this exercise, it took me about a million goes to get it right. Finally, there was a line of 3 fences on a slight uphill slope. Short six from upright to oxer and then a flowing four to the upright out. I can't remember what problems I had here, mostly just a complete lack of organisatino to start out with. I would get my strides but it wasn't smooth. It doesn't help that as mentioned before my eye isn't super, but on Rascal it's absolutely terrible. Something about that horse hides your takeoffs. Rascal jumped pretty well, a little hesitant and slow off of the ground but the more I held her together the more confident she was. The last run through of the exercise I did it nicely and he said to me that I could have done that the first time. Haha no kidding.

Finally, we did the exercise the other way- flowing four strides to the oxer and a short six down hill. It was hard to get the 6 strides initially, you really had to collect early. Such a basic exercise and to struggle with it was a bit disheartening. I'm not sure why I couldn't do it better to be honest, apart from the fact I think I tend more to ride the canter and take off point I get instead of being organised and strong and dictating more what they do. I'm not disciplined is probably the best way to put it.