Monday, September 29, 2014

More Moe Lessons!

 For my last two lessons, I rode Moe again to get a better feel for her and learn more. Since she is trained in dressage I work on keeping her on the bit the entire ride, except when walking, As you may remember, she gets a little sore sometimes from being older and can't always pick up the left lead(she has a nice counter canter though), but both Saturday and Monday I was able to get the correct lead several times. Fortunately she isn't as difficult to ride on the incorrect as Chester is.

 Last Saturday I worked her around the dressage arena, trying to get her on the bit. Moe willingly gets on the bit for the most part, even if she doesn't always hold it for very long. After working for several minutes I was able to get her on the bit, and there were several times that felt really nice. Moe was connected and went at a steady pace that wasn't too fast or slow.

 For my first ride on Moe I had only rode on a small circle while I got used to her since she is very fast, but Saturday I rode a 20 meter circle and even on the straight. First, though I worked on a 20 meter trot circle at E to the right, slowing spiraling it in and out using my weight to balance Moe and bring her to a steady, slow pace. When it seemed like to was about to walk, I would spiral the out. Then I made it a bit smaller and asked for the canter right. I made a circle, spiraling it to a 20 meter then heading down the side of the arena toward F, around the corner, and back onto my circle once I reached E. Though Moe's canter is fast, it's not intimidating after riding Chester, who can challenging as I mentioned before, and I was able to make it collected with some half-halts.

 I did the same exercise to the left, but I took several tries to get the correct lead. When I did I rode her on several 20 meter circles. I was using a bit to much inside rein because of her speed, something I need to try not to do before it becomes a habit.

Trying a leg yield.
 I also did some leg yields on her. Once I had my position, reins, and legs correct, I was able to get some beautiful leg yields. I tried them in both directions, both over short distances, from centerline to E or B, or over long distances all the to P or V. Moe's leg yields feel nice and I can really tell that her legs are stretching in front of the other legs. It's a wonderful feeling.

 Next, I rode through my Training Level test. The pattern was correct, but I was focused so much on the pattern itself that I didn't connect Moe to the bit.

 I did better at it on the following Monday. The lesson started out similarly with me riding Moe in the arena and connecting her to the bit. Moe was much faster at trotting that day, even more so than in previous lessons but I was able to control her. I rode across short diagonals several times, changing directions quite often throughout the lesson. While I rode I worked on getting Moe on the bit. Sometimes she would lift her head up or turn to the inside when I wasn't using enough outside rein or when I she wasn't connecting, but I continued to ask and was able to get her on the bit many times.

 Next I cantered. Like in my previous lesson, I rode the spiraling exercise before asking for the canter transition, and when I cantered right I went around the short side of the arena and back onto my circle at E. For the left canter, Moe didn't canter on the correct lead, so I tried an exercise to get her to pick up the correct lead. I would ask for canter right, head toward F, the across the diagonal K to B so I would be heading left. At B, I would trot, then ask for canter almost right away. This caused Moe to pick up the left lead on the circle. I didn't get the same result the next time since Moe realized what would happen.

 Soon after I began my Training Level test. Besides not getting the left canter, it went well. The pattern was correct and Moe was on the most of the time. The best part was probably the the free walk---Moe has a nice one and likely picked up a lot of free walk points when she was a show horse.

 I had a nice two lessons. The cool thing is that Meghan says Moe seems to like me. It's a neat to have a horse, especially a mare like you. Meghan also says that I rode Moe well, and not everyone does because of her Thoroughbred speed. I'm going to ride Moe in lessons from no on, so it's nice that my rides on her have started out well.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Canter on the Bit with Ronnie

 Wednesday, I rode Ronnie and I had a great ride. For the first part, though, I was riding very well. It turned out to be caused by me having to push Ronnie forwards while posting since she was going slowing, so I was given a crop to help in case needed. After that, I was much better.

 I made Ronnie go more forward, tapping her with the crop in addition to using my voice and leg. while I rode her I asked for her to become connected to the bit. Meghan gave me a draw rein to use, which makes getting a horse connected a bit easier because it uses more pressure on the bit. I was able to make Ronnie become round quite a bit of the time, working on both a circle and then a straight after I had established a good connection.

 For most of the lesson I was working on a circle so I could focus mostly on keeping steady hands and connecting Ronnie to the bit. It can take a lot of work to do it properly and requires good balance so you don't hang on the horse;s mouth, but it was worth it. Riding with a connected horse is nice.

 Since I was able to keep a steady connection, I could try cantering with a horse on the bit. I asked for a forward trot, got Ronnie connected, then asked for the canter transition in the corner. While she cantered I continued to ask for connections and half-halted with the outside rein to keep her straight. The resulting canter felt very balanced. I rode several circles to right, then did the same thing the left. It still took quite a few circles to get everything in order, but I was able to connect her in the trot and canter. I had a great, productive lesson.
 Friday when I rode Chester, he was in one of his hot moods, probably from not being ridden, so I had to spend a lot of the lesson getting him to calm down. He was fine in the trot when I was warming him up. However, when began riding serpentines with the canter in the middle part, he began getting wild and doing some small hops. I tried asking only with my voice and loosened the reins, but he was still hot, even on just one 20m circle, so Meghan told to ride a trot serpentine with  halts at each change of direction. This slowed him down a bit. I also tried riding a circle and spiraling it in and out using my weight and seat.

 After doing that for a few minutes, I tried it the other way, and finally cantered on a circle. The result was much better and controlled. I rode several circles, first to the right, and then to the left. That wrapped up my lesson.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Eventing Armband from Eventing in Color!

 Today I received an XC armband from Sarah at Eventing in Color. These armbands are mandatory for both jumping and cross country in an eventing and are also needed for Pony Club activities as well. They contain all necessary medical information so if you happen to get injured, the medics can know who you are and are useful in any equestrian activity. Thanks Sarah! If you are in need of them, go over to her blog. She sells them for a good price and it is nice to support our blogging community. Here are some pictures of me trying it out. Thanks again, Sarah!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lesson on Mo

 Monday, I had a lesson on Mo so I cold try her out. Mo is one of the lesson horses but is used as often as Ginger and Reno because she is faster and can be intimidating to new riders, and most riders get a horse of their own before they are experienced enough to rider. Fortunately, I am not intimidated by speed and Meghan says I rode very well. In fact someone watching thought I had been riding for a much longer than a year when she saw me. My year riding anniversary is in November.

 Mo is a small Thoroughbred but has very large for her small size. She is trained in 3rd level dressage yet also did some eventing, which may explain why her riders often need to constantly half halt when riding her, especially over jumps. I walked her around for several minutes, trying to get used to her. Then, I asked for the trot. Mo has a nice, forward trot. While riding her I use half halts to balance her and to keep her tempo consistent. She even began to get a bit round without me really trying to ask for. Very different than Chester!

 Once I had trotted in both directions, I made a small circle to the right, her easiest direction to move, to prepare for the canter. Her canter is really big, stretched out, and fast so I needed to keep a small circle to have more control. The first time, I lost my stirrup, my the next time went very well. The first thing I noticed was how easy her canter is to sit, and how fast it. I rode quite a few circles before returning to the trot and then walk.

Leaning forward a bit
 After a lot of walking I made a circle left to ask for canter left. Mo isn't always good about cantering left, but she really aims to please and picked up the right lead canter heading left instead. She doesn't feel uncomfortable to ride, nor does she move to the right when she picks up the wrong lead, but I could tell she hadn't hadn't picked up the correct lead. I could feel that the canter felt very collected though. I returned to trot and tried again. Mo again picked up the wrong lead so Meghan decided not to push it because Mo hadn't been worked to much recently.

 Mo is fun. I love fast horses as long as I can control them, and Mo knows a lot of things. I'm still talking over with my parents to see what decision is best. I like the idea of getting my own horse soon, yet if possible I'd rather learn more to get a younger horse that can stay with me a while and even move up several levels with me. I don't know what will happen yet but I will keep you updated.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I have some good news, but also a slight dilemma. The good news is, my trainer found a barn for the horses to move to. It is an nice eventing place called Third Day Farms that has multiple arenas, a beautiful barn, and a cross country course. It would be a nice place for me to start eventing later on. Going there will work out well so my trainer can be the dressage trainer there. However, only seven horses, the full training horses, will go there, which makes sense since that's where Meghan will train out of. The rest of the horses will go to a place called Parker's that is not too far away. Both seem like nice places and are actually a bit closer than Silver Rose.

 Chester will be going to Parker's, leaving my in a slight dilemma. It's not exactly a good idea for me to tack up Chester in a new place without my trainer nearby, and she might not be able to make it to the place until my lesson starts since she would be teaching lessons at Third Day. Plus, all the girls my age are going to Third Day since they are the ones showing. Most likely we will end the lease with Chester. I was beginning to outgrow him anyways and even had to take a step back by riding him on a loose rein to make him happy, rather than keeping a firm dressage contact. Chester is a great horse to learn on, but walk/trot/canter are the extent of what he can teach me, making him great for beginnings or people not interested in showing. I have learned a lot, but it is time to move on. This leaves me with two options to consider. 

Option #1: I can partial lease Mo, one of the lesson horses. Mo is a small bay Thoroughbred mare trained through 3rd level dressage, so she definitely has quite a bit to teach me. The only downside is that she is in her early twenties and will most likely need some shots to keep in regular work. These shots could be around $100 or a bit more or less depending on what's needed. We might have to be partly responsible for providing veterinary care depending how the lease works out. She doesn't have many physical problems but is a little out of shape. I rode her earlier this week.

Option #2: My second option is that I can take a break from my regular several times a week lessons and reduce them to once a week on Mo. This will allow me to set aside more money to get a horse of my own, hopefully around November or December if everything works out and if trainer finds a good one. Who knows, maybe I will find a buy or lease situation at Third Day.

Both options have their pros and cons. If I pick option one I would be able to ride a horse that can teach me a lot, yet my family would have to be responsible for taking care of some of her needs, meaning less money to set aside for my own horse. Option two allows me to ride and save more money for a horse of my own. What is your opinion on the matter? I'd love to hear your input on this decision.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pony Club Jumping

 Saturday was the last Pony Club at Silver Rose. Four other girls, including two from the barn and two young girls on ponies, as well as myself, were participating that day. We started with the group meeting, discussing what we have done this summer and introducing ourselves to new girls, then mounted. As a group, we began walking and then trotting around the arena. Since we were using the entire arena, it was much easier to navigate with other horses. We did some two-point in the trot before picking up the canter. Chester was a good mood. He enjoys riding in groups.
A very small x

 To be safe, we took turns cantering. One girl after another cantered around the arena in the two point to prepare for jumping. When it was my turn, I circled around Meghan, sat up, and tried holding my two point position. I was better then than I was Friday, which is good.
 Next, we all changed directions and did the same things, trotting and then cantering. Once all the horses were sufficiently warmed up, we began riding over ground poles. I trotted, but the other girls cantered, counting strides between each pole. After everyone had had a few turns, we again switched directions, heading right, and began jumping.

 As I have been doing before, I jumped small x's at the trot. I didn't get ahead of Chester's motion when he went over the rails and didn't end up pulling on his face either. Some of the girls jumped a bit bigger, but we all jumped around the same the height.
Heading over a trot pole
 Meghan set up a course where we would start at one fence, head almost to the end of the arena, then make a wide u-turn and jump two consecutive jumps, finally making a tight u-turn and to jump the original jump. Chester was happy, and everyone seemed to do well. Towards the end a girl named Anica jumped a fairly good-sized vertical(2' 6" maybe?). that was placed at the beginning of the course. A few strides before that was another jump.

 Meghan lowered the last jump for me, but I was still able to jump a small vertical, which I enjoyed. It was a fun productive day. To finish all the girls hacked around the property, following a small track.

Assembling a bridle with my friends.
 Afterward, we had a horsemanship lesson where we assembled bridles and learned about types of bits, flashes, and parts of bridles. I was able to help my group because I had assembled my bridle when I first got it. I learned that the part that holds the end of a strap on the bridle, is called a runner. The curved part that goes over the tongue, found in some bridles, is called the port. The finish I learned how to figure eight a bridle to properly store. You have to wrap the throatlatch around the bridle. looping the reins through it, and attach it to the other end of the the throatlatch. You do not however hook the buckles as that wears the tack out by increasing the stress on the point. I learned a few things about bridles that day.

Riding on a Loose Rein

 First of all, I'd like to thank everyone for the kind comments on my previous post.

For Friday's lesson, I worked Chester on a loose rein because he has been a bit irritated lately when I take more contact. This may sound contradictory, but he is much more calm and controllable when`the reins are looser. Of course this means I need to use my body and voice as well to maintain his tempo and half-halt him. It's not always easy to keep the reins loose like that and I often found myself tightening them to slow Chester down, which in turn made him faster since too much of contact sometimes makes him a bit claustrophobic.
Riding one handed.

  I rode around the arena, across several diagonals, and then made several serpentines, all on a loose rein. While doing so, I talked to Chester and tried to use my body to balance and voice slow him down a bit when necessary.
 Then I made a circle right at A to begin the canter, starting with half the circle as I had done last time. His canter was surprisingly balanced and controlled when I started. After a few trot circles in between, I once again cantered half the circle, then an entire circle.

 Afterward, I changed directions and did the same thing in the other way. Like last time, there were a few times when he picked up the wrong lead or avoided the circle, but I was able to get a few good ones.

 Since I would be doing Pony Club stadium jumping the next day, I also practiced two-point in the canter, starting to the right. It takes a lot of balance to be able to hold your position. I rode quite a few circles, at one point lifting my inside hand in the air. The purpose of this was to learn to steer more with my body than only my hands, something that still needs work. I wasn't able to keep a good circle when I did this, but was still able to turn. I next did the same thing with my outside hand up. Chester went to the outside a bit a few times, showing the importance of using my weight to turn. After getting one good circle where I used my weight in addition to hands to turn, my lesson ended.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Devastating News--Silver Rose Ranch Has Been Sold

 I'm going to talk about my lesson and Pony Club, but for now I'm going to share some devastating news that has really left me completely broken. Silver Rose Ranch, the place where I have been riding for the past year, has been sold as of September 12. Every horse on the property--all 20 something--has to leave the facility by the first of the month. That leaves two weeks to find a place that will accept at least twelve new horses, which includes the three lesson/therapy horses and ones in full training with Meghan(and a few others owned by her students that are not in the training schedule). This number doesn't even include Chester, who is not in her training program with his owner, and various other horses. Not to mention that there was so much else planned these next few months for the barn(Pony Club, therapy riding fundraiser, etc). The news couldn't have come at a worse time.

 Right now, Meghan is looking for a facility without much luck. Anywhere we go will be already established with other trainers, higher prices, and will not accept or doesn't have room for such a large number of horses in such short notice. Silver Rose was a bit cheaper than the other places in the area, but still. It also mostly contained girls my age who trained with Meghan, knew each other well, and didn't have any drama. What now?

 It leaves me with so many questions. Where will the horses go? Will Chester go to the same place? Will I continue to lease him? How far will the place be from the my home, which is already a 45 minute drive? How are we even going to find a place and get everything moved, including horses, tack, jumps, dressage cones, and more, in two weeks? How will that place compare to Silver Rose, not just by facilities but also by the atmosphere? So many more questions are flooding my mind.

 The situation makes me even more sad because the place I spent much of this past summer and even this past year is going to be used for development. The place that means so much to me because I learned most of what I know about riding and experienced dozens of "firsts" in riding--all my firsts in riding--will be gone. It may not be the fanciest, high-end facility but I love it so much and have so many happy memories of that place, memories I will cherish forever. Now, it's going to be gone. It makes me cry. I going to miss the place.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Picking Up Wrong Leads

 Wednesday I went back to the kimberwick for Chester since I'm still not quite able to ride him well in the snaffle. I warmed him up bu riding across diagonals and around the dressage arena, as I normally do, then began riding him a trot serpentine, no canter this time. He was nice for the serpentines, so I soon began a circle at A to begin cantering, heading right first.

 To get make sure Chester was responsive and that I was able to recreate the calm, controlled canter I had several times before, I only rode half of the circle, from K to F, canter. Getting a calm canter is much easier to the right because Chester is more comfortable cantering that direction, so it only took a few circles to get the desired canter. Once I did, I rode a few full circles, then headed across the diagonal of the arena so I could try the exercise the other way. When doing this, I pulled the left rein a bit to straighten Chester, so he tried to give a lead change. He's not really trained how to do it properly; he just tried to pick up the lead of the way I turned him.

 I returned to the trot, the rode around the dressage arena to make another circle at A, this time heading left. I had more difficulty heading this way. Chester picked up the wrong lead, time after time. He is not intentionally being naughty when he does this, he is simply uncomfortable cantering that direction and from time to time doesn't pick up the correct lead.

 Instead of getting mad at him, which may make him irritated and frustrated, I returned to the trot every time he picked up the wrong lead and started over, as Meghan instructed. I also loosened my reins a bit so their wasn't too much tension on the right rein. There was one time when Chester tried to head right and made a funky canter leg yield with his hind end towards the poles that marked the dressage arena.

After a little bit I tried asking Chester for the canter right after K, while I was in the middle of turning to F so he had some bend to him. this ended up working and he picked up the correct lead. I patted him and rewarded him with a short break.

 Next, I went through the Training Level dressage. The downward canter transitions need a bit of work, and I still need more flexion on the loops, but the test went without incidents, other than Chester just once picking up the wrong lead as I neared the canter circle to the left. I know the pattern now, I just need to focus on fine-tuning in and riding it well.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Group Lesson

 Friday I had a group dressage lesson with two other girls: Anica and Kaylee. I rode Chester in the snaffle bit again. I haven't been using it every ride because Chester is very fast and much less calm than he is in the other bit. Simply having the stronger bit calms him down. To begin, I started by trotting Chester around the arena(after walking), halting at every letter to make sure I had control over him. He is more challenging to ride in this bit so it is important I have complete control over him, especially in a group.

 I asked for the canter on the middle section, working up to cantering the whole thing, with trot transitions in between to change directions. Canter serpentines still need some work, but I was able to do them.

 Next, everyone took turns riding the dressage test's they are working on. Chester had been a bit hot earlier, but I decided to keep his snaffle bridle and work it out. I began my test, tracking left at C to ride the loop. Everything was fine for the first half of the test, but as I rode the loop to begin the second canter part, Chester became a little faster. I was able to control him for the canter part until I almost finished the circle to the right. I must have glanced down or something because the next thing I knew I was slipping off--again. Somehow I managed to land on my feet beside him, holding the reins. I guess it's just one of those weeks. Horses have a way of showing us that we have a lot more to learn, especially when we begin to think we have improved a lot. I'm still amazed that I landed on my feet. Maybe I should be a vaulter, ha ha.

 Anyways, I remounted and resumed the test at the part when I rode the MXF loop. The rest of the test went fine with a controlled canter. After watching the other girls ride their tests again. I rode the test once more. It was much more successful and more calm and controlled.

 When I finished, I hacked around the property with the other girls, riding across one of the fields rather than taking the usual path that loops around the barn and paddocks. I like riding with other girls, but still like having private lessons since I can have more focus on what how I am riding and what I'm learning. I'm going to do group lessons every other Friday for now.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Hanging on Like A Cross Country Rider

 Wednesday's lesson started out nicely enough. I was trotting around the dressage arena, heading across diagonals and doing what I usually do for  warm up. I made a circle at , asking for  slight bit of connection, then began cantering on  circle. It went nicely enough at first until I glanced down when Chester and I reached  a pole. I've been good about not looking down lately, until then, and when I did, everything went crazy. I lost my balance and fell onto Chester's neck. He continued to move around while I clung to his neck, trying to stay on like you would see someone do during cross country. I managed to hang there for several seconds while Chester wondered why I was still on his back. Unfortunately, it didn't end the way it often does when top riders do it. I ended up hitting the ground. I missed the pole, landing in unhurt on the arena sand. Meghan was impressed with how well I was able to stay on, saying that I held on like an event rider trying to stay on as they begin to fall in cross country. A little bit like the third video of Andrew Nicholson on this page, except without the jump and the save. :)

I got up and remounted, the went on a circle again to begin the canter. There was another rough time when Chester stopped by the same spot because he was afraid of getting in trouble, but I sat back, stayed on, and continued riding. A few times he picked up the wrong lead since he was still  bit worried, but was fine after that. I asked for the canter by the rail instead so he(and myself) would forget about the incident. Once I calmed him down, he was much better.
This one is beautiful
 Next, I rode through my Training Level Test 3. It went nicely, a little fast over the cantering diagonal from H to F, causing a rough downward transition, but the rest went okay. After finishing that, I tried  new test: First Level 1. It will be while before I'm showing at that level, but Meghan wanted me to try it to both prepare me for the future and teach me new movements. The First Level Tests introduce the ten meter circles, and Test 1 has the half circles. The test itself goes like this: Enter working trot, X halt salute, C track left. At E, half circle to X, the to B. At K ride diagonal to M, stretchy 20m circle at C. Free walk from H to P, medium walk from P to F. At F working trot, at A canter right lead, and at E 15 m circle. Canter round the arena, head across the diagonal when you reach K, trot at X. C working canter left lead, E 15m circle, canter round arena with trot at C. Ride a diagonal from h to F, then up centerline.
Chester being cute while I learn my new dressage test.
 The test is complicated and a big step up from Training Level. The purpose of me trying it now, as I mentioned earlier, was to prepare me for when I have a horse of my own. It was fun giving it a try.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Boyd Martin and Shamwari 4 Drawing

 Some of you may know that one of my hobbies outside of horses is drawing. What do I draw? Horses of course! It's been a while since I've posted one of my artworks on my blog, so I decided to share one with you today. After the WEG eventing ended, I decided to draw of picture of my favorite rider, Boyd Martin, on his WEG mount, Shamwari 4. Shamwari was trained by Ludwig Svennerstal, a Swedish rider who competed with the horse in the London 2012 Olympics. Earlier this year, Boyd purchased Shamwari with a group of people and began riding the horse. Anyways, here it is. Enjoy!

Bringing a Horse to His "Happy Place"

 Monday's lesson brought a great learning experience. It started with me riding canter serpentines with a trot transition in between to change leads. This is actually very difficult, much more so than riding on the straight because you need to do a quick downward transition, turn, then canter again. I worked up to doing this by cantering one part, the two, then the entire serpentine.  It is difficult to focus on everything all once and still keep your geometry correct. I found myself not quite making it to the letters after the canter transitions.

 After a few ones with a controlled canter and good geometry, I went across the diagonal to change directions, riding the same exercise in the other direction. Like last time, it was difficult. Focusing on riding transitions and directions takes practice, but I got a few good ones.

 Next, I rode through the dressage test I recently started working on, Training Level Test 3. It not go well at. In short, it was tense, wild, fast, and not very controlled. Chester was in one of his energetic moods and was completely running off, causing me to keep a tighter hold on the reins, which irritated him more. I kept him on the pattern, but it was anything but the balanced and calm test the judges are looking for.

 The next time through, my focus was mostly on calming Chester and getting him back to his "happy place." Rather than nagging at him by constantly half-halting, I decided to relax, take a breath, and talk softly to him. The result was successful. I was able to get Chester relaxed and happy, and it wasn't just by holding him back, the latter of which may slow him down, but not truly get him back to his "happy place."

 This test turned out much more smoothly and controlled. Chester was reassured when I talked to him and gained confidence. Meghan says that being able to relax a horse that quickly takes a good rider, so I must have really improved over the summer. If something like that happened three months ago, I probably wouldn't  have stayed on and would likely have dismounted  and tried again another day.