Sunday, June 27, 2010

Winter doldrums

The rain we have been having this year has been unreal. It just doesn't stop. The few (four maybe??) Actually sunny days we have had in the last five weeks have been amazing. There is something about the sunshine that just makes you feel good. It's nearly July, so the season starts in 11 weeks which is actually not a lot of time. Not that I ever make the first show of the year anyway, due to the fact we are calving.

This year I'm trying to have everything in work and ticking over before the cows start calving, because calving is a desperately busy, soul destroying, exhausting time of year. I'm going to have to work really hard, to school Kate and Rascal up to what I want, to get Connie super fit and to start re-habbing Bill and hopefully getting Bill ready to compete at a few things. I don't know how long she will take though. Her leg is really healing amazing. I hope to start working with her again in a couple more weeks.

I really want to Amateur classes this year with Kate and hopefully Connie as well. Connie is old enough now that I can push her more, she knows her job, but I really have to get her incredibly fit. Connie needs to be hunting fit otherwise she runs out of steam. One thing about hunting was over the fences, Connie always felt good, giving me big round jumps over everything but then at the jumping at Tielcey the other day, she felt really average. Maybe she isn't a showjumper? Though she does seem to enjoy it. I'm still waiting for her new saddle and I'm keen to see what sort of a difference that makes.

Rascal is as always a difficult child. She is capable of such beautiful work and her flatwork is pretty solid, but my goodness she is a button pusher. Mostly, because she is a bit spooky and spooky horses drive me nuts, but at the same time spooky horses tend to be careful jumpers so I need to get used to spooky horses. I hate that little jolty spook that makes you feel like you have been zapped with an electric shock. Yesterday a pig trotted up to the fence and stood there looking at us unmoving and she was completely unhinged by it. Still, she is mostly good and with the hard work I have been putting in she is really starting to get back the beautiful canter she had when I first brought her, before she got injured a couple of years ago.

Kate, I really need to work on her flatwork because she just doesn't know it, but I also need to jump her enough so we get confident in each other. It's so much easier in the Prestige than it was because my leg is a lot more secure and I feel like I'm sitting into her more than perching on top of her like I was in the Pessoa. I'm going to have to set some more specific goals soon.Hopefully, it wont be too long until we have another clinic.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Practice Day at Teilcey Park.

Once a month Teilcey Park in Palmerston holds a practice day, followed the next day by a combined training and showjumping day. The practice day is far far cheaper than competing. And it means you can avoid some of the more ridiculous course building. To be fair it was much better than normal with only one funky distance. A genuine two and a half strides to a tightish one stride double of oxers. Blerk! Anyway, at the start of the day my friend rode her really green OTTB and he was super cute coped with the atmosphere and is really quite classy over the fences. Then I nagged her until she let me ride on her new horse who was really only over for a trip and a look around. Still how any opportunities will I get to ride a horse by Corland. Not many, thats how many! She was really good too.

Then I rode her hunter, Fido because she was bored with him. He was really fun. He pushes your buttons a little, but as soon as he realises you aren't going to take any crap, he folds like a deck of cards and he is really really cool. He doesn't even really do anything, he is a big faker. Incidentally, he is by the same as our Rascal is. So had a canter round and a jump on him and that was fun.

Then I dragged Connie out and fanged around some small fences. I thought she would be hot from all the hunting but apparently, taking out the hard feed has taken care of that and she was a very placid old mule. In fact I wish she had been a bit hotter, so I could have had something to work on. Though dd have a monumental miss to the first fence when I thought she would chip and she didn't. Oops! I am RUUUSSSTTYY!

Kate was as per usual, a little hot and a little spooky. She leaps and bounds at the fences because she gets a bit worried about jumping. It means I need to be very careful about giving her a very smooth contact and resisting the urge to grab when she shoots off.

Still by the time I was finished we had jumped around a small course (It looked huge at the time) quietly for Kate and quite smoothly and I felt really confident and happy. Love my new saddle over fences, I'm so much more stable and don't feel jumped around at all. I didn't bother putting Kate down the line, because it just wasn't worth it. It was ok on Connie and Fido because it was tiny and I could just crawl in and make sure I got the three strides, whereas at this point in time it would have been a bit much for the Kate I think.

Of course it was a Mecca day for top riding. There was a monumental crash over the green oxer when it was about 1.20m after this lady had fried her horses brains and put him at the oxer, which he then collected bringing them both down in a hell of a crash. She was fine though, as people like that always seem to be. Kate might have started a bit nuts but she finished quietly and thats more than I can say about that horse. Poor pony.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Cashmore clinic- The Kate

Doing this clinic on Kate actually amounted to the first lessons I have had on this horse in the year I have owned her, which is probably pretty poor when you think about it. No wonder I still don't have her number really. The new saddle makes a big difference because I love being able to get my knee in to those knee rolls. Initially she was short behind but as she worked she did start over tracking. Grant believes it's just because she has never been asked to work correctly and never really traveled straight, so the muscles on that side are somewhat shorter. I have noticed this before myself out hacking but it's always something she works out of.

Anyway, Kate was also too sharp off of the leg, which is fair enough because to Kate, the idea of leg meaning moving sideways as opposed to faster was only introduced a year ago and lately she has had no schooling. She is very sensitive and very spooky and I couldn't get any inside bend on the right rein because when I opened my inside hand, my right leg wasn't strong enough to hold her out on the circle and get her to soften.

Grant rode her and got her working really nicely. With her you have to keep her soft to maintain the relaxation. He did say she was cute and he seemed to think she was quite fun. My homework on her is lots of walk and trot circles, getting the inside bend and keeping her soft.

The next day the weather was very very rainy and rubbish for Kates lesson which wasn't great. Anyway, she was a lot softer the second day and a bit more settled because she is learning what flatwork is all about. We did some cantering work and I can get her really good on the circles, but as soon as I go straight she switches out and I have to work on maintaining some inside bend rather than going straight to keep her on the right lead. I think at one point he just wanted to get her worn down a little bit, so she would relax more, but shes a TB and she just kept humming along despite the fact after I got off she was one tired looking pony. One thing I found particularly interesting, is that all my horses fall out the right shoulder because my right hand is weaker (odd in a right hander).

But with Kate when she falls out, she feels unbalanced and freaks out (we did lots of bounding around the arena- combination of she didn't like being told how to work, and how hard, with the unbalanced thing). So at least with a horse this sensitive I really have to work on maintaining the straightness and it will filter down to the others as well.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cashmore clinic- Rascal

So Grant Cashmore was back in the Wairarapa and 18 months since i last cliniced with him, we were back into it again. It totally reinforced that his system is the one I most agree with and works well with my horses. Thankfully, that even over 18 months I hadn't lost too much form and my lower leg had even improved so hell yes for that! My biggest issue is that on the left hand circle I struggle to get the feel in my hands just right. I want to pull back on the inside rein and allow to much neck bend, when I need to open my inside hand, and guide with it, while supporting and keeping the neck with a small bend in it towards the inside with my outside hand. All of my horses will blow off my outside leg aid and fall out the right shoulder because of this lack of supporting outside rein. It's one of those things I need to stay aware of and work on constantly, because I know it used to be better than

So anyway, like all the Grant clinics, it's working on perfecting the basics, which means lots of walking and lots and lots of circles, to make us like little Ludgers. Still it's a good approach, until you have the walk, you can't get the trot and so on. Connie is a little bit ahead of the other two, she gets to do some work on straight lines! Woo! Anyway, on the Saturday, which was a stunning day of perfect weather after a hell of a frost, Rascal was really really good. She was a little sharp off of the leg, so it was a lot of walking circles, getting her to accept the inside leg and move off of it and into the outside hand, which in turn makes her soften. Maintaining the contact with the outside hand to keep her straight, and stop her falling out of the shoulder, and to prevent her speeding up.

She was always trying to trot at the same spots on the circle, so I could anticipate and half halt on the outside rein and prevent the trot and maintain the softness which is good. Even in the trot and canter she worked really well, though I have a lot of work to do on improving the transitions, and the acceptance of the leg. Hopefully, I can get her going really well and sell her for some decent money.

On Sunday, the weather was not so forgiving and actually really sucked. Torrential downpours, with brief cold but not raining patches (I only rode in trackpants because the weather was so bad, I would never clinic in them otherwise). And Rascal! Well she had been up all night in the stables flirting with her brother (eeww!) and threatening the other horses, and she was probably sore from the day before and she was really witchy. That isn't fair probably, she was really unsettled and even sharper to the leg, so eventually I had to lose the spurs. It was a lot harder to try and give her a nice ride with her being so reluctant to soften and move away from my inside leg. We did get some nice work, but it wasn't as nice as the day before.

And when we cantered down to the cross she stopped! She hadn't locked on at all so I may have surprised her. But still! And then she stopped again! And that was just being naughty. Still once she did jump, she jumped well and felt good, with a nice trail over the fences. Time will tell I guess, need to put some more work in and see what I can make of her. Would love to get decent money for her :) because she is a really nice little horse, but she isn't going to be a jumper really.