Monthly Archives: October 2012

Clinic and finally a new (used) saddle for Fling (and Faeryn too)

I started to load Faeryn to take her to the Debbie Bowman clinic on Saturday, but after i had the halter on her, Fling was shoving her face in my face, almost demanding “Take me, Take me! – so I took the halter off Faeryn and put it on Fling. And I am glad I did. It was a good ride. Debbie could definitely tell the difference in her since I had her hock injected and put her on Previcox and I got some good help on our right halfpass – which has become an ‘issue’ fo rme with all the horses. Which is to say it is MY issue, and not the horses’. Also, have been having a tough time with canter to walk/halt and it’s killing me in my tests.And she also schooled us in schooling pirouettes.

The biggest ‘ah hah’ moment (and this was before the new saddle) was getting better downwards from canter. I had been bracing, and pulling her back and down into the transition. Debbie said ride her forward into it, and gave me the visual of leading with my core and keeping my hands forward. What a difference it made, not just in my downward, but in the canter in general. We fixed the half pass, I think, and also had an ah hah moment in our CP. I have been asking for too small a pirouette – she said she will start ‘pivoting’ if I am not careful. She said not to get impatient – just do 6-8 meter schooling CPs and eventually it will just come. Her right hind still needs to get stronger – all those exercises I was doing to strengthen it before having it injected basically did nothing because she was reluctant to really use her right hind. A very good ride and glad I took Fling after all.

Hard to believe, but in a city with close to 6 million people in the metro area, we have no resident good english saddle fitter. So we rely on ones who come in from other areas. My trainer has Jan Hulsebos (Netherlands) come twice a year, and I signed up months ago, and emailed them with my seat size and tree width so they could bring some used saddles for me to try for Fling. I will never buy another new saddle. Too expensive. I bought a Hulsebos for Faxx the last time they were in town and I love it.My saddles were all ‘old style’ with little to no thigh blocks. I used to ‘pooh pooh’ them, but I realize now how they can help you keep your legs in a better position – especially for someone who is ‘height challenged’ like I am. The seats are also deeper than what I have, and it turns out I like that too.

Fling is a pleasant mover, but no one ever comments on what a good mover she is. Until I was trying out what turned out to be her new (to her) saddle. I took Flin gin the morning and we spent time trying on different saddles. Marie thought that she and Faeryn could use the same saddle, so we were hoping for that, and if that did not work, I was going to have Faeryn’s saddle fit checked and restuffed if necessary.  The saddle I got turns out to be the same model as what I got for Faxx, but Faxx’s saddle definitelly doesn’t fit Fling. i tried it once and the canter ‘bounced’ up and down at the canter.

Faeryn’s turn was in the afternoon, and when I put “Fling’s saddle” on her and trotted, she felt like she was coming 2 feet off the ground, she felt so springy.

I think this saddle gives them both more freedom in the shoulder. They are both kind of ‘beefy’ in their shoulders, despite the fact they are not large horses. This saddle definitely sits back a bit more and frees up their shoulders.

Every little bit helps!

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New Horse Trailer

It occurred to me that I have not posted pics of the new horse trailer. It’s a 4Star that I ordered exactly how I wanted. Took three months from the day I ordered it until delivery. It is taller, wider and longer than my old beloved 1993 Featherlite. It’s a walk through and instead of having saddle rack, etc. mounted permanently in the dressing room, I purchased an organizing system and had it installed. You can move all the stuff around at will, as everything attaches to a grid system. Love it! 

4star_side_view4star_angled_backDressing_room_inside

Faeryn’s Lesson and Fling’s Changes

Faeryn went for a lesson on Sunday. It was her ‘maiden voyage’ in the new trailer, and it was also the first time in probably 4 months since I’ve taken a lesson on her.

I’ve been riding her regularly, but feel she has really regressed as far as her collection. I’ve been paying more attention to it lately and asking her to do ‘forward and back’ in all gates. As usual, the canter is the toughest. I feel like she has zero ‘adjust-ability’ in the canter, whereas at the trot, she can almost do ‘half steps’ and actually they are easier for her than Fling since she has more natural suspension in her gaits.

But the canter – when I ask for a half halt – nothing much happens. And again, I think it is a straightness issue. I am very challenged as a rider in terms of my ability to ‘feel’ and this is where it bites me in the butt the worst. I can almost always tell you _something_ is not right – but I cannot always tell you exactly _what_ it is, or how to fix it. I just need to remember that if the half halts are not going through, the first thing to check is straightness. But, the catch there is, I can’t feel it. When you ride the same horses all the time, mostly on your own, even crookedness can start to feel normal. So I can tell myself intellectually that crookedness is the probably culprit – but then how to diagnose where that crookedness is occurring?  Shoulders out? Haunches in? Mirrors would be handy, and I actually got some bids on them, but then ‘life’ got in the way.

In Faeryn’s case, _I_ was causing the crookedness by having her bent too much to the inside. Once we fixed me, she was much better. The crookedness was preventing her from truly half halting, which, in turn, made it impossible for her to truly halt halt, and as a result, she was too ‘strung out.’  It really does just snowball!

I rode Fling Monday and last night, and in each ride I asked for flying changes along the straight line (but not the ‘wall’) and also across the diagonal. I got three each day! Now, they were not as straight as they should be, and the third one was a little more, um, ‘expressive’ than it should be – but they were clean, and she changed when I asked her. Progress! I was actually able to keep her ‘together’ and organized enough between changes. I think this will also take the ‘edge’ off of her “woo hoo, we’re doing changes” issue. The more ‘multiples’ she does, I think the less exciting they will be. Or one can hope!

Lessons and Progress

Marie was out of town last week, so this week I had two lessons. Fling on Saturday, and for the first time in probably six months, Faeryn on Sunday.

Marie reiterated that out of habit, Fling is still stepping wide with her right hind, rather than carrying more weight. We did a lot of exercises to help with that, and I rode her with a more attuned awareness to the problem. I can definitely feel when she is right – she is STRAIGHT and the halt halts go all the way to the hocks. Often she ‘blows me off’ at the half halt, especially at the canter. (“Go, go, go!” is Fling’s mantra.) Finally I got her straight enough, and carrying weight evenly and amazingly the half halts started going through and her canter got STRAIGHTER and she got more through. In this mode, I rode canter half pass and it was a whole different animal. I really was riding EVERY stride, and she was finally WAITING for me and obeying the half halts. Marie says this is the secret to fixing my flying changes as well. And that seems true, as yesterday I got three changes across the diagonal and they were not as straight as they need to be, BUT Fling remained COLLECTED and did go go BARGING through my aids after each change, but listened, and came back to very collected canter – enough so that we could execute three clean changes across the diagonal. Next I will start doing changes along one of our fencelines to encourage more straightness.

Report on lesson with Faeryn later. I will say it was her maiden voyage in the new trailer and she hopped right in!

I can’t believe my last post was in July!

Well, actually, I sort of can. Let’s see, what have I been doing since July?

1. Working and commuting. I drive 106 miles round trip to my job each day. That’s what happens when you want to live in the ‘country’ but you have a degree in Advertising.My commute was about 25 minutes shorter each way before I got laid off in Sept. of 2011 from my job of 21 years. It takes me an hour and ten minutes each with if nothing goes wrong. However, I really like my new job – Associate Marketing Mgr for a metal building company, and was lucky to find a job after only 4 months of being unemployed, and got a nice severence package that allowed me to….

2. Bid out and supervised major fencing project on the farm, entailing 3,000 feet of old fencing being torn down and 3,000 feet of new fence built.

3. Shopped for and finally ordered (and received last month) a brand new 4Star aluminum horse trailer. My old trailer, a ‘vintage’ Featherlite, was 20 years old. There was money left over from the fencing project, so now was the time. I love the new trailer. It’s taller and wider and longer than the previous trailer.

4. I moved my parents into assisted living, assisted with the sale of their house, hired estate sale people, managed that, managed the cleaning out and cleaning of their house afterwards and packed almost everything in their house into boxes TO move. And did much of the heavy lifting.

I have been riding, and actually took Fling to a recognized show for her Fourth Level debut over Labor Day. I had to excuse myself from my ride the first day when someone in the first row of stands picked up a chair OVER HER HEAD and walked it down the row, plopping it down right in front of Fling as she was doing the collected walk work before the walk pirouettes. Fling, who rarely spooks, stopped dead in her tracks and was not going near there. So I just turned to the judge and asked to be excused. I was furious. And the person who did it was wearing RIDING clothes so should have known better.  The next day we got through our ride and had no major mistakes. We got a 58.7 which I thought was fair and acceptable for our first try. I showed her again a few weeks ago and got a 58.4 the first day with some mistakes and the next day I thought my ride was better (and so did my trainer) but got a 55+. Since Fling’s had some resistance to carrying weight on her right hind, I took her and had her x-rayed and she does have changes on her right hind. the vet said they were normal at her age (12) for a horse who’s been in continuous training virtually her entire adult life. So he injected the right hock and had me put her on Previcox and I can say I already see the difference. She can do real canter pirouettes now – before it was tough to get her to do a pirouette vs. just a small circle. Next up on the to do list is a new saddle. I tried out a used one last weekend and she felt much freer in her shoulders. I would like to buy it, but my trainer had it at her barn to sell for someone, and I can’t get them to tell me how much they want for it! It is a Hulsebos, and I bought a used one for Faxx about 8 months ago and love it. Fling’s is a different model and unfortunately I don’t think any of my three kids can share a saddle. Although I tried that saddle and rode in it with faeryn and it felt pretty good on her too. Jan Hulsebos comes Oct. 28 and Fling and Faeryn are both going ‘saddle shopping’ while he is here. And maybe I’ll have already bought one for Fling and it will just have to be fit to her.

Faeryn is doing well and she is 7 now, as is Faxx and I feel like I should be starting changes with them, but I’ve done such a lousy job at that with Fling I am loathe to even try. so they schooling everything BUT changes. Faeryn is a bit further along than Faxx. The lateral work is easier for her, and she also has better canter walk/walk canter. Faxx’s connection is so tricky those downwards are going to be tough with him. and I’ve learned with him, you can’t throw a lot at him at once or he gets all worried. Because of my new job, and having to go to my parents’ place every weekend to do various things, none of my horses are getting ridden as much as they need to be, but Fling is definitely the one I ride the most. At this point I cannot afford to let her lay off and get out of shape. I have worked far too hard to get where I am now. Yesterday I had a super ride on her and got not only the real canter pirouettes, but I also got three changes across the diagonal. She’s also doing half steps and I joked to my trainer that I would probably have the only horse who found canter pirouettes easier than even simple flying changes! But the flying changes are definitely my issue – I had never even ridden a single flying change on a trained horse before I started trying to teach Fling to do flying changes. And she is so ‘keen’ – forward and energetic–  that doing them ALWAYS revs her up, which is another complication. But I love that energy and would hate to have a horse I had to kick.

Anyway, that’s the Cliff Notes of what’s been going on and although I think about posting often – it’s been hard to find the time to actually type what’s going on in my head. But I will try to be more diligent because it’s a good tool for me, too, when I get bummed about something I can read my past entries and realize that a problem I was  having a few months ago is no longer an issue – and that I really AM advancing. Even if only in baby steps.

 My goal is to show her in January at fourth again, and hope to get the two 60% I need at Fourth toward the Silver. And in 2014 be ready for Prix St. Georges!! A long journey from breeding my $800 half Arab pinto mare to Frohwind in 1999 and literally pulling Fling into the world on Aug. 5, 2000!

Thanks for following my journey!