Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Video Camera!


Santa brought me exactly what I asked for this Christmas – a quality camcorder. The cheap one that I bought last year crapped out in the summer and would only take blurry video. My plan is to take a few videos a month so I get the chance to see what I am feeling underneath me. My goal is to improve my body posture and position in the saddle, being able to see what I look like should help with that.

I had a really good lesson with Sarah yesterday. We worked over raised poles which is something we did all the time when we rode with Penny. Walking the horses through a line of raised poles causes them to bend their hocks and walk a straight line as they pick their ways through the poles. Penny used to start all her babies by lunging them over a set up big heavy poles. Her horses always knew where their feet were and seemed very connected to the ground. Grace was started this way and it is something that I come back to often on the lung line but not often enough under saddle. During our lesson I was able to feel my tendency to stop riding in the poles. Sarah reminded me to keep my leg on my horse and to keep riding her after the poles. We had a big breakthrough at the lope when I finally let go of my inside rein which allowed me to be so much more effective with my outside rein. I also became aware of my head position which tends to be too far forward. I’m still figuring out how to fix it, bringing it back over my shoulders feels anything but natural.

Today I repeated the pole exercise at home and caught it on the new camcorder. While I was watching the film clips I was quick to tear myself apart. I saw the times that I dropped contact causing my horse to lift her head, and that while my upward transitions had improved my downward transitions were nonexistent. I could also tell the times that I tensed my lower back by the way my horse reacted. I have a lot of work to do, but then I noticed something else. At one point in the clip I walk Grace and change direction. Her walk is just that – a walk. Missing is the anticipation of the lope and of the pole exercise. I see a lovely little mare just walking like it is no big deal. The rider also seems to not be worked up about the impending exercise; they are just “walking”! Oh and the entire thing was done in a snaffle!
It looks like I need to figure out the software for the new camera. The quality I orginally had was much better than what ended up on YouTube. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!


Grace and I wish you a Merry Christmas!
Wishing you quality horse time during the busy holiday season, longer daylight hours and good riding weather! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Schooling Show Dec 1st and 2nd

“I enjoyed showing my horse this past weekend.” There was a time I wasn’t sure that I would get to say that. “I enjoyed showing my horse this past weekend.” I came home with a pile of blue ribbons and more importantly some show ring confidence. As always the Trainer was right when she said that riding English would improve my ride in the Western saddle, I saw evidence of it at the show. 

I was really glad that I hauled down to the show Friday after work. I had been contemplating hauling out first thing Saturday morning. Sarah doesn’t like to haul to shows on the same day as it is hard on the horses, she prefers that we get there the day before to loosen them up and then be ready for the show the next day. I hauled in a torrential downpour on Friday night; the drive was rough with a lot of stop and go. Grace was stiff in her right shoulder when I rode her that night so it was nice to get the chance to help her work through it. She also spent the night in a nice dry stall so she could be clean for the show on Saturday. 

Saturday stared with Showmanship which is still not my favorite class but I don’t hate it like I used to. I am past the nervousness and can now be present in the ring. I need to practice more at home and also see if we can incorporate it into our lessons. I had a really clear picture during my warm up of how practicing Showmanship on the ground correlates to my time in the saddle. My patterns were ok, but lacking finesse; again something that can be cleaned up at home. The riding classes on Saturday were one of the only times I’ve ridden Grace in a shank bit for the last month. I’ve been sticking to a snaffle since October.  Grace was the best she has ever been one handed at a show. I was able to pick up her right shoulder just by moving my right shoulder. The more square I kept my body the more square she kept hers – light bulb moment! My first Western Equitation class was a large class; I stayed in my bubble and focused on my ride. It felt really good, but I was so focused on my own ride I didn’t have any clue as to how the rest of the class went. I placed second and received an even bigger award on my way out of the ring when the judge who I’ve been showing under for the last two years said “Good job Melissa”. 

The afternoon was filled with pattern classes which started with Ranch Horse Pleasure. This was a schooling show and they didn’t have a set pattern so the judge ran it like a rail class but called for different maneuvers. I was able to let Grace go a bit allowing her to move out. We side passed, performed 360s, stopped and did some flying lead changes. The class was not only fun but was a great warm up for Western Riding; I’m really looking forward to Ranch Horse Pleasure in the future. I had two Western Riding classes, both using Pattern 4. Grace was as consistent as she’s ever been on pattern. Since it was a schooling show I picked up both reins to create a wall for her shoulders. Her changes were clean and she didn’t take over on pattern. Even the lope over the pole was controlled. We had 3 trail classes and after some issues with the gate – mine not Grace’s we had clean patterns that had a nice flow to them. I was really pleased with the lope transition which was out of the walk after a pole. Grace gave me a nice quiet lope which allowed us to be prepared for the lope overs. We ended Saturday with 6 blue ribbons but again I was more focused on the fact that I enjoyed showing. I think I even had fun! 

Sunday was all English; they started the day off with jumping which had a really good turnout. I took time in the morning to braid Grace’s mane in a running braid because I am determined to keep it long no matter what discipline we show. I’ll have to get pictures next time, but she looks pretty cute all braided up! Sarah had me ride in my breeches and half chaps in the English saddle on Saturday night. It takes me a good 20 minutes to find my body in the English saddle. Until that time is up I ride like a retarded monkey (no offense to any special needs monkeys you might know)! I grew up riding English and it seems that my body is fighting all kinds of old muscle memory. The same thing happened to me when I warmed up at lunch break on Sunday. Luckily I was over it by the time I got into the show ring. Grace was really good in our equitation classes, a few people from my barn pointed out that Grace seems to really like the Hunt Seat class which means that I’d better get working on it. My Hunt Seat Equitation needs a lot of tightening up, I’m sure it will happen as soon as I exorcise the old demons from my riding past. I only showed in 3 English classes as I had a good amount of classes on Saturday and I for one have only a few classes in me for English right now.

 When I look back to where we were a year ago at this time I see a ton of progress. Grace and I have gone from irritating each other in the show pen to developing a partnership that we can both start to rely on under pressure.