Thursday, June 23, 2011

Beg Pardon

I'm sorry. Was I just yesterday extolling the virtues of the made horse? I may have to take that back.

Star was absolutely awful tonight.  It was like she had forgotten everything she knows.  The plan was just to do some dressage-y flatwork, really encouraging her to step under herself and use her hind end.  Ha!  The ride went something like this:

Nicole: Walk
Star: Walk?  What's walk?  Jig?  Okay.
Nicole: No, walk
Star: Unbalanced, strung-out trot?  Okay.
Nicole: Walk, dammit.
Star: Back to the jig?  Okay.
Nicole: Whoa and back your ass up!
Star: Back? What's back?  Forward and circles?  Okay.
Nicole: Whoa
Star: I like this one
Nicole: Walk
Star: Plod? Okay
Nicole: Walk on
Star: Trot?  Okay
Nicole: Walk
Nicole: Trot
Star: Slowly slog myself into a jog?  Okay
Nicole: Walk
Nicole: Trot NOW
Star: Run into a too-fast trot on my forehand?  Okay
Nicole: Easy
Nicole: Bend, please
Star: Bend?  Huh? Giraffe?
Nicole: Give to the bit, please
Star: Need more giraffe?

And so it went.  We tried a few spirals at the trot... those weren't terrible, in terms of bend, but there was ZERO impulsion.  Everything about our ride just felt stiff, unbalanced, lacking impulsion and/or any semblance of hind end engagement, and completely lacking in obedience.  *Sigh*  I finally gave up.

I'm not going to beat my head against a wall over this, because I know it was a one-off event, but that doesn't really make it any less frusturating.  It was honestly one of the worst rides I've had in a very long time - and that includes the recent falls off Sparky.  *Grrr*

Horses keep you humble, I guess.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Now It's Official and Appreciating the "Made" Horse

Planets didn't quite align in order for me to take to Mid-A this year, so I'm slightly bummed about that... but at least since I've never been, I don't know what I'm missing! HOWEVER, things HAVE worked out favorably for the Big Deal Show of the year, also known as the Morgan Grand National and World Championship Horse Show. So it's official: Star is going back to Oklahoma City!

I had debated a bit about which hunter classes in which to put her, but it occurred to me last night that, now, since I am not competing at Mid-A, I have no reason to make her play at hunter this year. My main reason for planning on the hunters this year was to "point chase," but with Mid-A out of the picture, the point is moot. SO... I have decided to do the jumpers (of course!), Versatile Morgan, and Carriage Pleasure Driving. That's right - the carriage is going to Oklahoma this year, too! The Versatile Morgan class should also be quite fun. The horses are judged in harness, under saddle, and over fences. It's a class I've wanted to do for ages, so I am very excited.

Star has been doing really well lately. We're both a bit out of shape yet, but I have plenty of time this year to get us into shape. Star has been warming up over 3' with no problem, so if we build a little more strength and scope, we should be pretty golden. For our carriage driving, I plan on actually working on a lot of dressage with her. I think we need a little more straight and push from behind to really excel. I plan on incorporating more eventer-style hillwork and trot sets into our program as well, to help build some stamina and fitness - and that rear end!

In light of my recent frustrations with Sparky, working with Star lately has made me really appreciate having a made horse. It's nice to be able to just canter up to a 3' jump and know that my horse is going to go, and not have to worry that I'm going to get dumped at a crosspole. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE green horses, and I think that riding green horse makes me a better rider - but sometimes it's nice to not have to work *quite* so hard.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Coop Is Thine Enemy

Or so seems to believe Sparky *wry face*

Le sigh. I'm having some issues figuring out my horse. He randomly stops at jumps - not quite in a "dirty stopper" fashion - but stops nonetheless, and I can't figure it out. More or less on a whim, he went on a field trip to the chiropractor. I figured it wouldn't hurt, might help, and would at least give me a gauge of whether I needed to have the vet out for something more serious. He was in some pain upon palpation, but show marked improvement post-adjustment. For good measure, I also waited until he had front shoes back on before riding him again.

A few days after Sparky had his front shoes replaced (which was a few days after being chiropracted), I rode him. His flatwork was quite nice... I could tell by his willingness to stretch over his back that he was feeling more comfortable than he had previously. I had decided that we were going to do a little jumping, just to see where we were. I had set the jumps accordingly: one at 2', one at 2'3", one at 2'6", and the coop at 2'.

I decided to start with the coop. Sparky was plenty well warmed up, and has jumped the coop several times, so it seemed it wouldn't be an issue. Indeed, as we approached the jump, Sparky became quite bold and took me to the jump - and ducked out to the left at the very last second. I'm pretty sure he actually picked up his front feet as if to go over, because just like at Conyers, I ended up somewhere around his ears. Only this time, I didn't manage to stay on, and went over, doing a backwards somersault and landing pretty much under his feet. I'm still not sure how he managed to avoid stepping on me.

I was okay, so I got back up, smacked my little asshole's shoulder, remounted, and we came again. He ducked out again, but I was a bit more ready this time, and stayed where I belonged - that is, in the saddle. I shortened my reins even more, and we approached for the third time. He went over beautifully. We did that a few more times, then moved on to the other jumps.

The other jumps were all basic verticals constructed of regular stadium jumps. He never peeked at any of them - not even the 2'6" vertical, which I trotted him to at a very controlled pace, as I was expecting him to stop. Off that trot with next-to-no-impulsion, he hopped right over the 2'6" vertical like it was no big deal!

He finished the day beautifully, but I'm still a bit discouraged. He shouldn't be in pain, he's definitely not overfaced, and it's not like I'm some terrible rider who punishes him in the air, committing one of the George's "cardinal sins." So I don't quite know what's going on. Is Sparky still expecting to feel pain? Does he just really not like cross-country type jumps? Is he scared? Is he just being an asshole and trying to challenge me?

I really am just not getting it. Input appreciated.