Thursday, January 26, 2012


Something like that, anyway.  It's been a while - a LONG while - since I have actually felt like getting on more than one horse in one day.  Now some of this, I'm sure, has to do with my work schedule, but really, I just haven't been feeling it.

Finally, last night, for the first time in a long time, I rode multiple horses.  In fact, I rode all three horses.  Granted, I didn't ride any of them for a super-long time, but all three of them are out of shape, so it wouldn't have been fair of me to do any more than I did.

First I hopped on Sparky.  I wanted to see what kind of horse I had under me before I committed to either flatwork or jumping; there are some days that trying to do flatwork with him is an exercise in futility.  By Sparky's way of going, I could tell that pressing for "serious" flatwork just wasn't happening, so we did some W-T-C (which was all actually fairly good), and then went back and forth over a crossrail a few times.  I really focused on using my aids and starting to the right and finishing to the left (see the Greg Best clinic entries) to prevent his shift right (which was *quite* marked during our "how high can we go" day).  I really need to make a conscious effort to make these corrections with him so we don't run into problems as the fences go up.  After a few (maybe 8-10?) good jumps,  we stopped and cooled out.

I got Star out next, despite her baleful look as I went out to the pasture to get her.  I put her in her standard "flatting bit," which as of right now is a double-jointed eggbutt.  Star really needs to build her topline and butt muscles back up; she looks so front-heavy right now, it's not even funny.  We warmed up with a bit of trot and canter (Star's walk is so pokey and lazy that I long ago abandoned trying to use it to warm up), and then went back to a decent walk on a circle, with a bit more bend and connection.  We then moved up into the trot, and continued our circle.  I really tried to keep her stretched down and over her back and correctly bent.  As we trotted a bit more, we added a little bit of spiraling and some trot-halt-trot transitions to get her engaging her hind end.  Finally, right near the end of our right, she nailed it - I felt the best engagement of her hind end that I have ever felt from Star.

As I put Kellie in the crossties after finishing with Star, I saw that she was missing a front shoe.  Since she hasn't been worked in a probably a few months, and I was therefore already planning on not doing too much with her, I rationalized that it was not going to do her any harm to ride.  We started out just walking, Kellie reaching down and forward pretty well.  (Good!  She hadn't forgotten that part!)  We then did some snake-like patterns at the walk, and then proceeded to "following the nose," using small-ish circles to unlock her neck and bending correctly.  Once we moved up into the trot, I definitely had a giraffe for a little bit, but as I worked at remembering to keep my elbows soft, I had a horse that was eventually reaching down and bending more correctly.  After some good trot work each direction, we came down to a walk through a pretty nice transition (all things considered), and called it quits.

I feel like I'm back.  I don't have any goals, but I am feeling a drive to actually do something with all the horses again.  My work schedule has changed, so I will now have more time at the barn in the evenings, which should make it easier to work with multiple horses.  I think I am also going to start incorporating more longeing/long-lining back into the horses' routines.  I think it will be especially beneficial to Star, as I can use it to still get her working even I days I don't have time to ride.

It's supposed to rain tonight, so no barn, but tomorrow might be okay.  The footing should be really nice in the arena tomorrow, so as long as the weather forecast is not lying to me and traffic doesn't completely suck, I'll do horsey stuff tomorrow night.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

AHHHHHH! Playing catch-up!

Okay, so here's the short story of my life since I last posted.

Nicole's Life:

Mid-November: BF came to visit (we are currently in a long-distance relationship of 800 miles.  He is in NYC; I am not) and (finally!) proposed to me
Thanksgiving Time: My grandparents came to visit for a week
Early-ish December: House-sitting for a week
Mid-December: Very busy at work and various dental, etc appointments thrown in
Late December - Early January: Holiday Travel (home for Christmas, to NY through New Year's)
Early-Mid-January: Parents visiting to look at wedding venues

So it's only been mid-late last week that I have started to have my normal life back.  Of course, "having my normal life back" is somewhat open to interpretation, now that I have more things to do!

There have been some IEA shows (Star has been great, and I've had a lot of fun warming up some other people's horses) and I've had some great rides at home on my own horses.  Star only jumps at home now when the footing is really good - so only after it rains.  A couple Sundays ago the footing was great, so I had some fun just raising the jump with Star.  We finished at 3'7"... I don't think we've jumped that since we went to Oklahoma City in 2010.

Sparky is doing well, too, even if he looks like a burro right now.  He's jumping everything I ask of him with no problem.  Our dressage needs some work, but experience tells me this will improve once the burro loses some weight.  Playing the same game with him that I did with Star, he jumped a 3'1" vertical a few weeks ago.  This is the highest he's ever jumped over (he has jumped up a 3'0" bank).  I'm optimistic that maybe we're finally getting someplace.

My plan for this week (now that the week is half over!) is to ride at least two evenings, depending on the weather and traffic.  Next week, I'll ride Sunday and maybe Monday, and then Oren will be here Tuesday and Wednesday.  I'll have to squeeze in some time going to the gym (ick!), so I'm not sure what things will look like after that.

There's a couple more IEA shows upcoming, but the schedule is not yet definite.  Star will be going, and Sparky might also get to tag along (yay!).  I'm really excited by the idea of Sparky going - he's come a long way in the past year, I think.

As for the new year, I'm not setting any "goals" or show schedule (we see how well that worked out last year!).  It's going to be a year with a lot of other goings-on and changes, so I don't think I can reliably plan on anything.  I would like to at least get to some smaller, local jumper stuff (with both horses), and maybe a schooling horse trial with Sparky, but I'm not planning on anything big.  The Mid-A Morgan Horse Show is on hiatus this year, so I can't go to that one regardless.  We'll see about the Dixie Cup.  I would love to get to a Gigi Nutter clinic or two this year, and hopefully Greg Best will be coming back.  Not sure if it will be in the cards, but I'd love to do another clinic with him.  And I would really like to make some progress with Kellie this year.

Okay, so maybe I do have a list of "ideals" or "would like to's", if not really goals.  We'll see how the year goes.

Belatedly, Happy New Year!