Friday, July 15, 2011

Nations Cup

It's been a pretty good week or so.  The next couple of times riding Star after "Beg Pardon," I decided to put her in her double bridle.  The idea was that I could ride as much as I wanted on the snaffle, and only pick up the curb if she was blatantly awful.  The advantage of the double over the Pelham is that she doesn't tend to get behind the bit the way she does in the Pelham.

Sparky has been doing really well lately, and we've played a bit at "Nations Cup."  After some joking around last Sunday about whether or not we'd ride each other's horses, I decided it might be interesting to see Kyle ride and jump Sparky.  So about a week ago, when I was riding with Kyle in the ring, after we had both jumped around a little bit, we switched horses.  It was getting dark, so I couldn't see quite as much of what Sparky was doing as I would have liked, but he and Kyle got on pretty well.  After she was done jumping Sparky, she decided that she wanted to see me jump her horse, Guilder (aka, Sparky's best buddy).  I figured why not, and hopped him over a few jumps.  It was a lot of fun, and did help to really illustrate the advantages of riding many different horses, and not always your own.

Thinking about the riding other peoples' horses thing, and thinking about it being good for Sparky to have other people on him, I convinced Honorary Big Sister Jen to swap horses with me on the flat when I unexpectedly got off work early on Friday.  So I flatted Tiki, and she flatted Sparky.  It was amazing to feel how much better Tiki is going now than he was the last time I rode him (oh, about a year and a half ago!).  Honorary Big Sister Jen has done a great job with him.  After flatting, we switched back to our own horses and started doing some jumping.  We had set a gymnastic; Sparky was great!  He didn't stop at a single fence, and eventually went through the gymnastic with the center vertical set at 2'6" and the oxer also set at 2'6" and stretched out pretty nice.  There were a couple of sticky go's as he figured things out, but he always made an honest effort.

On Sunday, I had Kyle ride Sparky again... I wanted to actually be able to *see* what he was doing in the daylight!  It wasn't perfect - there were a few stops - but overall, they did really well; there were a couple of times when Sparky thought, "Maybe not, thanks," after a stop and Kyle gave him a really good ride, letting him know that stopping again was not an option.

Wednesday's ride on Sparky focused mostly on dressage-y flatwork, emphasizing correct bend through the entire body (not just the neck).  We hopped over a couple small jumps, emphasizing "straight."  He did really well; I just need to be consistent in always asking for correct bend.  Going straight is the hardest thing we can ask a horse to do, and unless they can bend correctly, they can't go straight correctly.

The bad news is that Star is off... I rode her a bit on Sunday, thought she might feel a little off on the flat, and it became really obvious when we landed from the coop.  Hoping it was a bruise or abcess, I had the farrier look at her on Tuesday.  Unfortunately, the issue does not appear to be in the foot.  The farrier thought it might be in the knee; the vet will be checking her on Monday.  In the meantime, Star has gone back to 24/7 turnout, with a grazing muzzle if needed.  (Joyce had been putting her in a stall some days to turn her own mares out where Star usually lives.)  It's possible that her off-ness is a byproduct of being stalled, so maybe being out all the time will help.

As a complete aside, the halters with new plates have arrived - they look great!  Kellie is modeling hers in the picture.  

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