anna (or, me learning to ride)

Yesterday I had a WONDERFUL ride on Anna – to the right. Soft, round, super light in my hands but on the bit. Just wonderful. To the left was another story. Entirely. I eventually just got super frustrated with her and myself, went to the right again so we could end on a good note, and got off very frustrated.

Today, going to the right was wonderful again. I figured I DID have to tackle going LEFT though (this seems to be a common theme with me….poor, tolerant, ponies!)

We’re going left, and her nose is going right, and I’ve got my hand closed on the flexion rein, and I’m half halting the outside rein, and she’s got her nose going more right saying, “I don’t CARE about your stupid inside rein”
Me: Need more inside leg
Anna: Then I’ll FLYYYYYYYYYYY off to the right
Me: Shoot, THAT’S probably when my outside leg is supposed to be back and on
Anna: Well I’ll just trot in place then
Me: Right, I’m supposed to be driving with the seat too
Anna: $hit! I have to go light and round and on the bit if you’re just going to do it all like you’re supposed to!

I take it the goal is to eventually apply all the aides at the SAME TIME and not over the course of half a circle, but I DID manage to get her going beautifully to the left. All by myself. Without my wonderful trainer getting on first, and without lunging in side reins first. Woohoo!!


July 26, 2008 at 8:49 pm Leave a comment

musical equipment

No, not like instruments! I mean rotating and rotating and rotating and WHY can’t the horse just like this bit or that bit?

So, Snow outgrew her cob size bridle at the end of last year. I ordered a horse sized one, and it was far too big. Punched holes for the cheekpieces, but never bothered with the noseband – on the tighest hole I could fit a fist in, but oh well.

I had also been riding her in Myler bit I had around. A level 1, plain, single jointed snaffle of some variety or another. Well, apparently it was of the not-legal-for-dressage variety. Stupid copper stripes that I never noticed before! New mission: find a legal bit before her first show!

I had a Sprenger KK lying around, so I thought I’d give that a whirl. WHEW she HATED it. HATED it. Two days of fighting and I thought maybe she just didn’t like the bean, so I switched to a Sprenger single jointed snaffle. HATED that too. We finally decided it must be the width of the bits. Both HS bits were MUCH thicker than the Myler.

My trainer brought out a bridle she thought would actually fit Snow, and it had a bradoon on it that was quite narrow. Sure enough, Snow went WONDERFULLY in it. And she now has a noseband that fits her. She looks cute enough, and I’m glad we have this all sorted out, but it’s been one painful week in the process!

July 25, 2008 at 2:50 pm Leave a comment

the banana learns about dressage

I told you she looked amazing, and you didn’t really believe me, did you? Well, either did my mom. I mean, she’s used to seeing this (my friend Lindsay riding, not me):

So who could blame her? But she needed to see this! I asked my trainer to hop on Anna one more time, just long enough for me to get a few pictures as proof. She was pretty happy to oblige (and ride the pony again).

The “after” pictures:

July 23, 2008 at 7:28 am 1 comment

busy busy week

Really, it’s just been exhausting. But both girls are doing well!!

Snow pony has had naughty days and nice days, but I’ve managed to stay calm and push her right on through everything. We’ve been cantering on our own (as in, without the trainer watching just to make me feel better). We do turn on the forehand in front of every scary object in the arena (the wall, mostly). We can leg yield. We ventured outside for the first time, and she was great. She probably thinks outside is the best place EVER now, because I just kept giving her more sugar after everything we lived through. Mount? Sugar. Walk half a circle? Sugar. Walk a whole circle? Sugar. Trot a circle? Sugar. Trot the other way? Sugar. Get off…sugar sugar sugar. Yes, she loved it. We’ll have to move beyond that before her first show!

Oh yes, her first show. I signed up for that. Less than a month away and I go back and forth between thinking she’ll be FANTASTIC and thinking I’m going to die. But it’s August 16th, so there will hopefully be a good update on the 17th, and hopefully it won’t be from a hospital bed!

Anna is also doing amazingly well. I had my first lesson on her EVER last week. The trainer got on just to see what we were dealing with, announced she was VERY pleasantly surprised, that Anna was going to be a piaffe machine, and that she’s a FUN little pony! So that was exciting. Now we’re just working on half halts to keep her round (round as in, almost on the bit and nose in front of the vertical, instead of on the horizontal). Yesterday we ran through First Level tests 1 and 2 and they went amazingly well! Biggest issue is continuing to half halt at the canter (I hear it’s possible), and returning to a working trot after our lengthening to the left (left means GO, apparently). But showing first level at the fall Haflinger shows is looking VERY promising!

So, I’m super excited about the progress we’re making. Maybe I’ll get some PICTURES soon!

July 21, 2008 at 12:42 pm 1 comment

three for three!

I have officially had three FANTASTIC rides in a row on Snow. The first one was when I realized I WAS FINE. The second, I pushed it. I was fine, time to get back down to business. So we trotted and trotted and trotted and then we went left (normally a HUGE ordeal). Then we did loads of serpentines/figure-eights/direction changes. All in all, it went VERY well! Yesterday I had a lesson on her, which marked fantastic ride number three. More trot work that went very well, and then we cantered both ways. And THEN we did some turn on the forehand! I’m SO excited!!

Homework is to canter canter canter – five or six laps, both ways – every day.

Anna has been going very well too. She’s starting to come back into shape (again), and is feeling much better and more balanced. Haven’t had a lesson on her yet, but my homework is to SIT BACK (even though I’m riding her in my hunt seat saddle).

July 11, 2008 at 9:16 am Leave a comment

i’m back

Ha! Finally! And I’m super excited about it.

For those that don’t remember, I showed up to ride my girl one day and, for some inexplicable reason, was basically terrified. I’ve got a hot green mare, but she’s a GOOD horse. She didn’t give me any reason to be so nervous, but I was. After much frustration, I resorted to walking and riding in my western saddle, which did help. But outside of in lessons I could barely hold it together to trot one circle in our “good direction.” In lessons I was fine, and my trainer tended to say, “See??? You’re doing it!”

Anyhow, couple weeks off (I was out of town – she was kept in work), quick hack on Sunday, yesterday off completely, and today I planned to really ride. And earlier today I was talking to my trainer about shows this fall, and generally just psyching myself up, and I just knew I was mentally ready again.

Sure enough, my reaction to the ride was…I’m back! Snow wasn’t even particularly good. Nothing REALLY naughty, but she was looky, spooky, tried to duck sideways a couple of times, and almost bucked at one point (well, the head went down and the butt went up, though I don’t think her feet actually left the ground….silly pony). But I was fine with it all. Relaxed, kept her trotting through the hunch deal, just…fine. We did SEVERAL circles at the trot, and (being a green-bean) she pretty much went all over, ducked her head down, tried to pull/root at the bit, threw her head up, forgot how to steer…and I was fine. Fine! And then of course by the end I was still relaxed so she relaxed and actually started reaching for the bit (nicely). Funny how that works 😉


July 8, 2008 at 7:12 pm Leave a comment

some perspective

Between mucking 40 stalls then working both girls on Sundays and then work at the office all day on Mondays, Monday evenings right now are my girls’ day off because I just don’t have any energy left!

Tonight I had about an hour to sneak out to the barn, right at night feeding/closing time. I spent my night grooming the girls, relaxing, spending extra time currying and handing out the treats. I was just about to leave, giving Snow one last kiss on the nose through the stall bars, and the head trainer (an almost 70 year old woman who has been doing this her whole life) had snuck up behind me.

She dumped Snow’s feed in, looked at me and said, “When they make you smile, it’s always worth it.”

July 7, 2008 at 7:11 pm Leave a comment

the dynamic duo is together again

I’m super super excited to announced that Anna-Banana has been moved to my trainer’s barn. She’s stalled next to Snow, they get turned out together, and I get to work both every day and NOT drive 45 minutes between barns!

They’re thrilled, I’m thrilled, and outside of the insane cost that I can’t afford but fortunately get to work off in part, this couldn’t be better!

July 2, 2008 at 7:12 pm Leave a comment

and i’m pretty sure i now owe my life to the banana

So I’m playing around with Anna-Banana last night, who was having a grand ol’ time in the cool weather. BO comes out to practice showmanship with her two year old. She is literally having this horse sidepass the entire centerline, do a 540* pivot, and the sidepass back the other way. Over and over and over again. I’m mostly sticking to the rail, keeping out of the way.

Well, BO and her horse get way down to one end, and I had been doing a 20m circle at that end. She’s still sidepassing, but I figure her path and mine won’t quite meet – we were trotting just a shade faster. All of a sudden her horse freaks out (says “NO MORE!” I’m sure!), and starts rearing up and leaping backwards, rear up, leap backwards. 😯

This all starts about 10 feet away from us, and gets closer FAST. Anna was the one of all four of us to totally keep her cool 😉 She watched the rearing/leaping horse getting closer, and didn’t react at all. I’m still thinking at this point that if the horse keeps on her current path and I just keep us trotting on ours, we’ll be in the clear. But right as the horse was about two feet away from us (within kicking distance was my thought!) and still rearing, she also managed to finally yank her lead out of BO’s hand. Anna scoots straight forward a total of about ten feet – just clearing us both to safety as the mare reared up for the last time and flipped herself over. After scooting forward, Anna had turned to face the mare, and just stopped. No panic, no nothing, just watching (waiting for the next outburst I’m sure!).

I jumped off since now the other horse was loose. BO caught her horse, I got back on, end of story. But I’m pretty sure had I been on, oh, ANY other horse on the planet, it would not have ended quite so nicely!!

June 17, 2008 at 7:53 am Leave a comment

the benefit of having a sick pony

Yes, I’ve discovered there is one 😀

Sunday I of course left the barn very little. Monday I took the day off work, so more of the same. Yesterday I worked half a day, and was there before work and all afternoon.

But of course, it’s not like I could just stare at my pony nonstop the WHOLE time, so I watched selfcarriage on her training horses, I watched lessons, I watched everybody who happened to be riding. In between rides made good timing for taking Snow’s temp again. But meanwhile I was learning a TON.

Much of it was stuff I “knew” or had been told before. But even with the same trainer, WATCHING, or having things phrased differently when a different horse or student was invovled was great.

So I had all sorts of ideas floating around my head, and yesterday evening I finally braved being an hour away from Snow and going to ride Anna. Sure enough, I had the best ride EVER on her. Just wonderful!

June 11, 2008 at 7:04 am Leave a comment

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