Friday, December 12, 2014

Cartman's First Dressage Lesson

Today was the day!  I like to try new things every once in a while and thought some basic dressage might be good for us.

I hemmed and hawed a bit before taking the plunge... Cartman has been trained primarily Western style and I didn't want any part of "pushing him into the bride" or anything that would make him less responsive.  I'm addicted to the neck-reining thing!

So, my friend Amber work's part time for a competitive dressage trainer and she suggested I give her a call and try a lesson or two.  Coincidentally, I also ran into a lady at Mt. Adams riding a TB that comes up to Castle Rock to work with this trainer too!  She had nothing but good things to say as well.

I had intended to bring Cartman up to the barn last night so he would be presentable for our lesson, but the power was out when I finally got home from work at 6pm.  I had no way to fill the water bucket so the horses had to stay out in the field.  I gave them plenty of hay in hopes that Cartman would stay under the arena for most of the evening and wouldn't be too muddy.  Ha ha....

After spending about 45 minutes trying to get him clean and packing all my tack back out to the trailer we were finally ready to go.

Cartman was actually a little excited when we entered the barn, he's not much of a spooky horse so I was surprised to see him bounce around on the lunge line and flag his tail like an Arab!  He didn't do much though and after a few minutes I climbed on and we walked around the arena. 

I think Cartman's favorite thing was the great footing and the MIRRORS!!!  Ha ha, I didn't know I had such a vain horse, but he kept wanting to stop and look at himself every time we passed one.

The lesson went really well.  She had me ride him with really light contact and concentrate on using my body and seat to influence his movement.  It's so nice to have a knowledgeable person to watch you ride and explain how to be more effective.  You just can't get that from a book or video. 

One of the things I need to practice is asking Cartman to lift up into an upward transition and not just think forward.  She had me concentrate on bringing my shoulder blades back and sitting a little deeper prior to asking for trot from walk. When I did this I could feel his back lift a little and he felt more balanced,  as opposed to just asking him to go forward, where I could feel his hind end lowering as he let it drag behind him in the transition.

 Then for trot to walk again using not the reins but my seat and core to get a transition that isn't all strung out.  It's really hard to write about this stuff- I feel I'm not explaining this well at all... but it was really cool!

She pegged his sticky spot right away after we had done some trots, circles, and little shoulder fores.  I always have thought it was his right shoulder but she actually thinks it is his forearm that is a little locked up.  She actually came over and stretched his right front a little and did some stretches across the opposite leg.  Cartman was really intrigued by this but after the first couple of stretches he relaxed and seemed to be fine with it.

After the stretching we worked on moving him off and on the wall by moving his shoulders.  I have worked on leg yielding off the wall a little (OK, I've tried) but have always used too much hand I think.  This was way more subtle. 

At one point she had me close my eyes and ride the long side of the arena (it's pretty long!) and try the exercise.  It was funny but I could completely feel it better with my eyes closed! Luckily I trust Cartman enough to be able to do this and stay relaxed. 

I think my favorite take away from the lesson was a new perspective on how we actually complete a circle or turn.  Instead of turning by pulling on the rein or shortening up the inside side of the horse we should actually turn by lengthening the outside.

This is what we were doing all the shoulder work for, trying to get Cartman to step out and forward with the outside shoulder.  Kind of like you don't stretch your right side out by kinking up and contracting your left side.  You stretch your right arm up and over and make that side bigger.

She did suggest that I try a plain snaffle for this type of work (as opposed to the short shank Myler leverage bit).  I have several at the house and will dig one out before our next lesson. 

It was really fun and I learned something new!!  I think we are going to enjoy this, and it is good for both of us.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Oct-Nov in Pictures

Buddy and I

Todd and Nick

2014 Pumpkin crop

When is started raining I found something hidden in my hay barn!

One last ride before pulling shoes,  early Nov.

sky was pretty that day

Cartman grows a thick coat this year

Cartman sneaks up on Buddy,

Pretending to graze

Just a little closer

Buddy pretends to be unconcerned

Cartman can't help it, he likes to herd things...

Headed north in late Nov.

Saw some pretty things, including this scarey narrow bridge- Todd warned me about it!

Hmmmm, who is this?

She can lope in a tiny tiny round pen!

Doesn't she look like Cartman in the face?

Michelle brings home a new mare! By the same sire as Cartman :)

Getting ready to Turkey Trot on Thansgiving with my friend Mary and her daughter

Thanksgiving- Paleo style
Spent the evening watching Marshawn!
Todd is back to working on the truck, early Dec.

Buddy and I

Going for a run on the Castle Rock path


Cartman and I getting ready to haul to the arena early Dec.
 Friday am is our first dressage lesson! Will report back then.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Jubilee 2014

Delayed blog post here, this ride was Oct. 4

I was so hoping to get one more 50 mile ride in this year, unfortunately it was not to be.

Work has been absolutely insane and I've been there 7 days a week.  Not surprisingly I have not been getting in many long rides.  The work schedule, coupled with a bit or rain, and the fact that our logging road loops are now off limits due to the new $150 permit required Aug through Jan.... meant I just didn't get it done.

Michelle and I had planned to do this ride since August and I figured doing a 25 would be better than no ride at all, so we headed out Friday morning for the long drive to Prescott Wa and the Jubilee Ranch.  We stopped  few times and managed to find a Starbucks about half way there, although I did drive over part of a curb trying to get in the nearest parking lot.  Eeeek.

Ride camp looked a lot bigger this year as we rounded the corner at the ranch.  Wow, I was a little nervous about finding a spot to park!  We pulled into camp and then did a quick foot cruise to find a good spot on flat ground.  Bonus- it was near both a huge trough and the porta potties!

Michelle wanted to take her new horse Rosie on the trail ride to introduce her to endurance.  By the time we got there and went to check in she had decided just to go for it and ride the 25 with me! We planned to go slow and take our time- I was in no hurry and was just there to have fun after all :)

We vetted in and had the horses all set up pretty quickly and then we cruised through camp to do some visiting before the ride meeting that evening.

I really should have written this blog post right after the ride, as I'm sure I am forgetting much about the weekend. 

Ride morning looked like it could, possibly, do a little raining.  Sigh.  I put on my black jacket.  By the time I had Cartman tacked up I was hot.  I removed the jacket and went with my standard a hoodie. 

Rosie was a bit wound up but Michelle managed to get her close to the mounting block and vault on.  Both horses were very well mannered as we walked through camp towards the starting line.  I mention this because last year we both thought we were going to end up in the dirt before actually starting the ride!   Lol.

Before long we were on the trail and trotting.  It was still a little overcast but not cold.  We wound around the orchards and all kinds of scarey boxes and equiptment.  At one point we came to an intersection and some of the workers were trying to start up a tracto with a big cart trailer thing attatched.  They very kindly turned it off when they saw the horses and we were able to get by without incident.

It didn't seem that we were travelling that slowly but we did do quite a bit of interspersed walk and trot.  Thankfully we were able to keep a nice bubble and Rosie was really relaxed about the whole thing! 

We tried to stop and graze the horses on the edges of the orchards whenever we got some good grass patches and at one stop Cartman managed to spook himself by brushing up against an apple tree and a bunch of apples fell to the ground, oops! 

We pulled back into camp right on time (we had some type of plan, but for the life of me I can't remember what it was.)  The horses vetted through although Cartman managed to drag me over to a nice pile of Orchard grass and then proceeded to pee on it! 

Rose was a bit of a pill in the vet check this time.  For her vet in she had gone through Dr Root's line and he is so patient and understanding.  This vet was a little more harsh but Michelle go her through it and we raced back to the trailer to get some snacks!

I wasn't really even hungry and after my stomach disaster at Santiam thought I'd better get some practice actually paying attention to what I was feeding myself.  I opted for a protein shake and banana.  This combo seems to work the best for me when I'm going to be going right back out on the trail.  No potato chips.  No Greek Vegetable salad.

We didn't have any time to spare so made sure to saddle up and head over to the starting line on time.

The sun had come out at this point and it was a beautiful day.  The ride photographer got several good pictures of us as we came up a hill overlooking a huge river (Snake?)

We did manage to get off trail during this section of the ride,  directly after leaving a trough we headed up a hill and missed the turn half way up the hill.  We had run into Michelle and Jodie and the four of us picked our way down the hill towards the flags we finally spotted!

At this point we only had a few miles to go, but we were really running out of time.  Both Rosie and Cartman had been eating and drinking well and neither was acting tired, so we turned on a big trot and headed for camp.

We ended up riding up behind a few other riders and camp was now in sight!  We walked probably the last 1/2 mile in and both horses pulsed in immediately.

Cartman almost managed to pee on the hay again, but I was ready for him this time.  When he stretched out I quickly kicked most of the hay out from under him.  Whew.  I actually think I might bring a small flake of grass hay or straw in my vet bag for him from now on.  He will pee on trail but if we are moving along he will try and hold it.  He did that at Mt Adams and wouldn't pulse down (a first for him).  I walked him away from the pulse area and he immediately pee'd.  I took him right back and he was then down.

We vetted through and headed back to the trailer.

I wasn't even tired after this ride, but it was more fun to ride with a buddy this time and I think the 50 would have been a little hard on my "hairy dude".  Yup, Cartman was working on a true Yak coat this year- he has since completed it and I may actually have to break down and do a trace clip on him if I want to do much riding this winter.

We were both pretty happy with the ride and Michelle's new mare did awesome out on the trail.  She didn't even seem to be at all tired after her first 25 miler!

The evening was also great as a dinner was provided by the Jubilee Ranch!  How awesome was that?  No smelling all those great burgers and steaks from other campsites this time!  We got hot food and it was Mexican food- my absolute favorite!!! 

Both horses came out of the ride really well the next morning-- with no swelling or filling in their legs or any other maladies!  Whew, this was a real relief after out experience at this ride last year!

We attended the awards and then headed for home:)

How time flies...

I can't believe its been almost three months since I did a blog post!  I kept meaning to post but once you get past a certain point it seems a little overwhelming to try and catch up. 

I rode Cartman steadily through September, not a lot of long rides but enough to keep him fit enough for an LD at Jubilee.

In the beginning of Sept. I attended a riding clinic and it did not go as I had hoped.  I was participating with Taj (Cartman's brother) and while we did get some really good lessons on ground work the riding portion was a complete bust.  To the point I got to be the "bad example" for the rest of the weekend. Sigh.

I don't want to dwell on this but I'm going to get it out there, as it was quite upsetting at the time.  I'm not a real "sensitive" person and have done a lot of lessons and clinics over the years and am quite comfortable with trainers being blunt or even barking orders at me- I did grow up with the H/J crowd after all!  But this experience was a new one for me- I much prefer to deal with the problem in the moment- talking about what I should have after the fact doesn't really help me.

Anyway, Taj was such an ass that when we got 8 horse rider pairs going in the arena he pretty much had a meltdown.  We were only working on trot, disengage the HQ and stop (basically one rein stops) but about the third or fourth time around he started acting up.  He was kicking out at other horses and there wasn't a lot of room.  I started getting really uncomfortable and doubting how many more incidents until he bucked me off, or we ran into or kicked someone.

I ended up going to one end of the arena and standing, then trying to walk circles. He proceeded to start trying to jig, and toss his head and just be stupid.  My goal at this point was just to try and get him calmed down a little but he just continued to escalate.

Finally I managed to walk down to the other end of the arena and jump off.   I really didn't know what else to do at that point- I felt it was too crowded for me to try and ride him the way he was behaving.

Thankfully my friend (a great trainer and rider) helped me do a little ground work while the other riders finished up so we didn't stop on a completely horrible note with the horse.

There was no way I was going back in there after lunch for the cantering portion of the day.  Yes, I am a big chicken:(

I was so happy (and relieved) when offered a horse to ride for the afternoon session- so that I could actually practice the lessons w/o fear of imminent danger.   I didn't know until I was walking down the arena again that this horse was the ranch owners Tevis horse! 

What an awesome, awesome horse.  I have never ridden an Arabian before and was not expecting him to feel so smooth and powerful!  He was an absolute gentleman and I can't say enough good things about this guy.  I love him, and I want one just like him :)  How cool is it that they would share this wonderful horse with others??

This part of the clinic was a little more fun, although I still felt really self conscious about wimping out on my own horse. 

The evening pot lucks were really fun and it was really nice to be around a lot of good horse people!

Next morning I took Taj back for the groundwork portion but again rode the fabulous Arab in the afternoon.

While everyone broke for lunch I did saddle up Taj and we worked in the arena.  He was perfectly well behaved and we did walk/trot/canter and then took a little mini-trail ride. 

All in all, I did learn quite a bit- the clinician certainly knows her stuff and it was really interesting to watch her work with some of the horses.  It was kind of a confidence buster for me however and actually took several weeks to "get over", to the point I didn't want to write about it.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, next up: Jubilee with Cartman!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Escort Service

Today Cartman got to escort Rosie, Michelle's new endurance mount, on her first ride out in the woods!

We left early at about 8:30am and wouldn't you know it there was a traffic jam at the trailhead:)  We pulled in first and then a few ladies we know pulled in and then who should show up but Flo!  It was nice getting to visit for a few minutes with everyone.  We were on a time schedule so didn't stay too long talking.

Rosie got a little excited by all the commotion but M got her tacked up and was on pretty fast.  I jumped on C and off we went.

We did a lot of just walking and letting the new horse get used to the wooded trail.  In many areas they are brushing up against Salal and vine maple and it can get a bit "rustly".  Rosie was really forward though and after a about 1/2 mile she went in front for a bit.

Cartman seemed to enjoy having a new buddy to hang out with and he's pretty calm natured so it ws a good combo.  We did a little bit of trotting where the trail was pretty perfect and did a lot of climbing, stepping over logs, and roots, etc.  Rose seemed completely unfazed by the whole thing and didn't stumble once!  Yeah, good prospect for a trail horse!

We crossed the stream twice successfully and then ended up heading back the same way we went in.

It was a very good first ride with the new trail buddy!