2016 Goals: Q1 Review

Nell

  • Qualify for the Provincials at the Young Horse Performance Series.
    – On our way! We need to complete two qualifiers to get this. One down, two to go. I have no illusions that we might actually finish in the ribbons, but just to be present at the Provincials will be epic.
  • Compete, graded, at the higher Novice tests. – Working on it. We’ve done Novice 4 and 5 at Nooitie shows, which aren’t graded but are a step up from training. At graded level we’ve done Novice 2 and 3.
  • Go to a jumping training show at a low level.  – Still far in the distance, although we have worked on getting a jumping day every week at home.
  • School lower level Elementary successfully. – Very much a work in progress. Our Novice work needs lots of polishing first.
  • Compete in any available Nooitgedachter shows. – Of the three Nooitie shows held each year, we’ve done one and entered another. The third may prove to be very hard financially, but we’ll give it our best shot.

Arwen

  • Go double clear at EV70 –  We actually haven’t had a chance to event at all since January. However, we have been working hard on cleaning up our jumping at home, especially dealing with the naughty stops she’s been having. We also jumped two clear working hunter rounds in competition.
  • School Elementary Medium 1 and 2 – Also a work in progress. With competing at Novice and Training-70 we seem to hardly be schooling anything else.
  • Compete Elementary – Gathering our points at Novice for this! My mediocre riding at our first graded show didn’t help much, only getting us one score over 60%, hence one point.
  • Gallop through water – We haven’t even been able to go out cross-country schooling. May will be our month!

Exavior

  • Bathing – Still a work in progress, although he is considerably better.
  • Loading. – Got it!
  • Continued improvement on injections. – Improving slowly. I can inject him now without mishap if I’m quick, but he has taken a violent dislike to the poor vet.
  • Lunging over poles.
  • Introduction to small free jumps.
  • Backing.
  • Basic aids in walk – These are going to have to wait until he’s gelded. With space being at a bit of a shortage, the round pen has ended up being in the middle of a paddock. This used to be his paddock, but having a colt around while backing mares and teaching newbies was a disaster, so we had to let the training and resale horses and lessons take priority. (They bring in cash. Xave, not so much). I’m not worried, though, because once he has had brain surgery he should be even more trainable and we’ll get it done. He’s only two and a half and a few months of gambolling should only do him good.

Magic

  • Finish getting back the topline muscle he lost when he was sick. – Oh yeah! He not only has his topline back, according to the saddle fitter, he has a lot more than he did in July last year.
  • School Novice 4, 5, and 6.  – We’re actually progressing really well here. He has the Novice 5 leg-yields down and can do the Novice 4 trot serpentine with walk transitions just fine. We do need to work on backing up and transitions from lengthened to working canter on a 15m circle. His simple changes, being a jumper, are rock solid.
  • Make 90cm our comfort zone at home –  Getting there fast. Our comfort zone has greatly expanded. We are both happy at 85cm right now. (I think Magic would be quite happy at like 1.2, but regrettably he needs his little saddle monkey that understands him, and she is not happy at 1.2, thank you very much).
  • Show graded at 70cm. –  We did it – and won both our classes! (OK, so we were alone in one class, but we didn’t die, which is a win).
  • Show at 80cm, graded or training –  I’m a lot more optimistic about this than I was when I made the goal. If he goes clear at his next show (tomorrow) we’ll do a 70cm and an 80cm in May.

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I call this achieving

Glory to the ceaseless love of my amazing King, who is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than all I can ask or imagine ❤

Week Recap – 2nd April

This week was filled with more sunny days and bright skies and unfortunately, admin. This is the side of yard management that nobody really likes, least of all myself. Although, if I’m honest, it does give one’s legs a welcome break.

This week we continued working on the little grid, making it progressively bigger and the one-strides longer and more challenging. We also added on another vertical set on a right turn from the grid on a long approach, which added an element of speed and then having to come back to a steady trot to reapproach the grid. This turned out to be a very good exercise for Magic, who was having something of a zoomy week. He was obedient through the grid even when he was feeling a little up – I guess the sudden cold snap had something to do with it – but schooling in the snaffle was a dismal failure. I had control, but that was about it. We flailed dramatically and had one enormous spook, then spooked again when I got left behind and snatched him in the mouth, ending up in a quivering heap on top of B.

The good part was that even though Magic was being a bit of a wild child, my confidence didn’t have a single wobble beyond the usual low-key nerves if he took a long spot. The dude and I have really built up an awesome connection. ❤

The fitter was also out and after tracing the shape of his back compared to the shape of it in July when she last came out, we were both startled by the transformation. He is much more symmetrical and much more muscular, although to her dismay, while his back came up, so did his wither. (This is the same horse that the fitter asked to photograph as an example of a challenging fit for her students…)

Poor old Arwen didn’t get as much attention as I would have liked this week. I jumped her once (which was fabulous – not a single stop over 85cm fences), gave her a lunge, took a nice hack and had a bit of flatwork schooling. At least she also had her saddle looked at. The fitter pronounced her fat and just did a little reflocking to accommodate the extra inch of roundness my 5-days-a-week, eventing, grass-only beast had  accumulated.

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Gotta love the office

Nellie worked her rather rotund behind off. The week was fairly easy, with flatwork, hacking, and popping through the grid (she is an incredibly wiggly and untalented jumper, but has a nice hunter rhythm), but then came the dressage lesson. Our fitter also happens to be a pro dressage lady, who has soundly kicked our bottoms on baby horses at the lower levels as well as dominating in the higher ones, and has the definite bonus of being likeable, so we took the opportunity to have lessons while she was out to fit saddles. We nearly died. Just because I like dressage does not mean that it isn’t painful. We did comparatively easy stuff – a lot of transitions and trot lengthenings and some canter poles – but it was intense and we were both dying. We were sent home to do lots and lots of poles to make Nell add more “jump” to her canter and articulate her hindlegs instead of just swinging them arond.

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So much of hard. Also neck.

Exavior wiggled himself back into my good books by loading once very well with neither assistant nor bum rope. He is such a puzzle but he can be so loveable when he quits jumping around on his hindlegs. He is, however, definitely a lot better to lead around other horses; we have to pass right by one of my pony colts on the way to the horsebox and this cheeky little colt tends to run over and squeal, but Xave ignores him flatly. The pony colt can probably fit under his belly, so I can hardly blame him.

Sookie settled nicely into her new routine this week, being calm and trainable in the arena at all three gaits even with a bit of wind making things quite spooky. She had one or two really silly little looks, but much less than she used to when she was younger. We did have one awkward mishap involving an H-F trot lengthen. It started as a lengthening at H right enough, then at X we started to trip, flailed, fell on both knees, lurched dramatically upright and as a grand finale I landed bottom first upon F. The little trip just went downhill, presumably because Sookie’s muscle tone and balance are poor at this stage. She is a big horse and doesn’t have the strength to hold herself up just yet, poor soul. Needless to say we shall proceed with caution and do lots and lots of basic strengthening exercises before we approach the show circuit – I have no desire to literally fall in a heap at X.

Little Bruno only did one day’s ring work, where we worked on getting solid canter for two laps of the ring each way. After that we climbed straight on and went to the big arena. We only worked in walk and trot, including walking over some ground poles without batting an eye, but he was excellent. The little guy is just a dream to handle – he learns what I teach, remembers what he’s learned, and doesn’t go in for theatrics.

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Ponies ❤

Lance’s SI area remains sensitive and he is consistently being lazy on the left rein, then zoomy on the right, so we are still going slow and redoing his basics to make them even more solid. He now loads like a real little champ, even out of sight of other horses, which is a challenge for him. To his utter delight, our new livery is a little yearling Arab that just wants to play. Lancey is the sweetest thing with his new buddy and he and Titan have a blast galloping around and making trouble together. He appears to have no difficulty moving in a straight line at great speeds around his paddock, at least!

While I wanted to put a few steps of canter in on Whisper this week, we never really got there. Whispy has never been ridden out in a large space before – her last home had a fenced arena of about 35x15m – and my unfenced grass arena proved to be a bit of a shock to the system. To her credit, she was never wild, not for a single step. What she was, was incredibly wiggly. My groom enquired if I had been feeding her moonshine while we wobbled from one side of the track to the other, tripping over dressage letters and her own feet. By the end of the week we at least had walk and trot in fairly straight lines in the big arena, though, so soon we’ll be back on track (pun intended). Whisper isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, but she definitely makes up for that with abundant patience, gentleness, quietness, and memory. She’ll make a fantastic first horse for some lucky junior, with her unicorn looks to match.

Stardust learned to load this week, which she did like she does everything, with a workaday, ho-hum sort of willingness. Don’t worry, Dusty, you’re not going anywhere. She also taught one of the kids to canter with great success; she’s still very sticky going onto the off lead, but on the near side, she’s very good.

Baby Thunder had a jumping session with me, popping through the grid with the verticals put up to about 70cm. He had some trouble maintaining his impulsion through the two quite long one-stride lines at first, but he got it eventually. He is just such a willing guy – he’ll go between the uprights every single time, even if he demolishes the fences in the process. Although in this session with me he was very careful and didn’t touch a single pole; I think the gymnastic exercise was good for him.

We rounded off the week with a successful day of outside lessons, including schooling one of my student’s super cool schoolmistress, Penny. Penny jumps whatever from wherever, although she can get a little insolent about being told what to do, having come to the reasonable conclusion that she can do it just fine herself, thank you. She remains a whole lot of fun.

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Change of scenery