Monthly Archives: April 2013

Ride in the moment…

Was a crazy week at work and I got home very late several days. Fling got several days off after the clinic last weekend, where I rode her twice and Faxx and Faeryn once each. My friend Kathy got some video of me on her iPhone and hopefully she can upload it to Youtube and I will post it here. I was very pleased with what I saw!

One of Fling’s ongoing problems is ‘waiting’ for me. Fling and I are both pretty Type A personalities (my friends reading this are thinking ‘ya think?’ at this point) and although that can be good sometimes – often we ‘feed’ off of each other in a bad way. One of my biggest challenges is getting Fling to come BACK to me from a medium or extended, and the biggest bugaboo – the canter to halt at X in Fourth level.

Debbie Bowman made some changes to my position and had me raise my stirrups a hole. I was definitely not sitting on my seat bones, but more on my crotch. I don’t have this position problem with either of my other horses. Debbie had me lift my knees up in the saddle to ‘feel’ my seat bones and in my case said to ‘think chair seat’ to fix my problem. Not your usual problem! And, as always – ride her more forward to the hand, with a shorter rein and arms more forward. We had some great work the second day with canter/walk/canter transitions on the serpentine where she really sat in the downwards and _waited_ for me.

So I finally rode her Thursday and she was fabulous. Great canter half passes both directions. And the perfect ending to a perfect ride? Controlled, light and perfectly square halt at X on centerline from canter.

And I realized as I was riding – the key to this was partially a new mental attitude on my part. Ride in the moment. Don’t think about getting from point A to point B. Don’t think beyond this stride and this horse under you in this spot right now. Just plant seat bones, sit up and ‘be’ 100% in the moment. I truly think that made a huge difference.

I mail my entry for the Memorial Day weekend show Tuesday!!



Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Isn’t that always how dressage works? I’ve made great progress with Fling. The key now is to ingrain what I’ve learned and make it habit so we can completely banish the swinging haunches that have plagued us for so long. Debbie Bowman is coming this weekend and it may kill me, but I am doing four rides. Two with Fling and one each with Faeryn and Faxx.

The show year is half over and I’m still not sure what my plans will be. I really want to show everyone, but they all seem ‘in between’ two levels – except for Fling. For now I am aiming to take Fling to an Arab show Memorial Day weekend that has open classes in dressage. Sandy Chohani is judging that. then the facility – Great SW Equestrian Center in Katy – is having a Sunday/Monday show and I will show her Sunday in that. Three days are just too many for both of us.

I think I have decided to try and qualify Faeryn for our Championships in October in First and Second level.  I showed her First at recognized shows in 2011 but after getting laid off in Sept. of 2011, she has not been shown since. I showed her at second level in schooling shows the same year. Faxx is more talented, but Faeryn’s training is a bit further along, and Faeryn handles the stress of the larger shows better than Faxx. If I had more vacation time and more time to ride, I would try to qualify them both and possibly even show them both at the Championships.

Faxx is very close to being ready for Second level. At this point, the canter walk is his man issue.

Faeryn Rocks and The Breakthrough with Fling Continues

I took Faeryn to Marie’s on Saturday since it has been more than a month since she’s had a lesson. Think of it as getting a ‘check-up’ with your doctor. To my satisfaction, there was more going right than going wrong, and we continued to chip away at her head tilt issue when going to the left. It is pretty much solved at the trot, but still is an issue at canter. We had really good progress, and also worked on other things she needs to master to be ready to show second level at recognized shows later this year. At the end of our session, Marie pronounced that of my three, Faeryn really does have the best work ethic. As she matures, Faeryn has become more and more like her mother. She is still way ‘hotter’ than Lisa (but not too hot for me) and can have panic attacks on the ground (she has separation issues) but the look in her eye and the twin whorls on her forehead are her mother all over. Her dam, Sonny’s Mona Lisa, would have been 24 years old yesterday – April 8. I lost her in 2008 and she is buried next to my arena.

Sunday I took Fling and we tried to ‘confirm’ the training we started in the Debbie Bowman clinic the previous weekend. Fling’s issues all boil down to straightness. And much of her straightness has involved going crooked to avoid weighting the right hind. She had her right hock injected and she’s getting daily Previcox and monthly Polyglycan injections to address any discomfort issues and we’ve all noticed her more comfortable on the right hind. So what we’re dealing with now is a combination of a bit of a bad habit and perhaps still the idea on Fling’s part that she may experience some discomfort by using her right hind to her full capability.

One of her evasions is to swing her haunches to one side or another. The fix in classical dressage is to move the SHOULDERS to correct this – not the haunches. Easier said than done – and at some points in our lesson I felt like Fling’s nose was going to meet her own tail at some point trying to move her shoulders.

But, as Stephen Clarke famously said in a clinic I audited, “One does not get to Grand Prix with rubs and pats,” or, “You have to break a few eggs to make a cake.”

Fling got a bit offended by my continual requests for her to move her shoulders – especially when I moved my leg forward to do it – and protested a few times with levades – but she began to get the idea. And when she got straighter – wow. Half passes were better, canter was better, SUBMISSION was better. And I started to get the wild idea that we may really get our scores at Fourth level this year toward our USDF Silver Medal!

Debbie Bowman Clinic Easter Weekend

The toughest thing about having three horses is getting enough lessons on all of them to advance. It’s not really a matter of money, but of time and access to lessons. My trainer has a full barn and she goes to almost all of the local shows. I don’t, so on those weekends, no lessons.  January and February I had almost no lessons for a variety of reasons.

I ride monthly with Debbie Bowman, who comes from Virginia and goes to my trainer’s barn in Houston, and a friend of mine’s barn here in Alvin. I ride with her whenever I can, but I really can’t ride two horses in one day. If I could haul the said two horses together to either facility, have a few rides in between to rest up I could ride all three of my horses with Debbie when she comes each month. However, I tried it once and it was a huge waste of money. My normally sane horses were both crazed idiots.

this weekend I had a ride on  Saturday at Marie’s and Sunday at Kim’s. I had planned to take Faeryn on Sunday, but we are working through some resistance on Fling’s part – she is pulling on my left rein no matter which direction we go. Diagnosing the true root of the problem took most of Saturday, but we made progress. I knew for it to ‘stick’ with both Fling and me, we really needed to revisit it again today. So glad I did.

Although she is pulling on the left rein, of course it has nothing to do with her head or neck — it has everything to do with me, and her continued evasions about weighting the right hind. On Saturday  Debbie had me do a lot of shoulder in to renvers and travers to get her straighter and carrying more on the right hind. When she finally submitted, I could feel how she was soft in both reins and straight.

Today we ramped it up a bit and worked on me keeping my reins short enough, and in front of me enough so I would quit crossing my right rein to the left over her neck. Bad habit of mine. Debbie actually ride her more into the right rein – while pushing her more onto her right hind but without letting her ‘drift’ to the right. When all the pieces fell into place she felt like a million bucks. Super connected, huge trot and going toward the bridle with no resistance whatsoever. Her half pass – even to the right which has been her weaker direction – was super. What I really need is about four more lessons to break this habit we’ve fallen in. And mirrors. I’m still working on the mirrors. I have my dozer guy on alert to start working on finishing my arena. Once I get that done, mirrors are next. I really hope to have arena and mirrors up  == at least 40 feet of them on the short side – by fall.

I came home and used some of the principles from my lesson on Faeryn. I have a bad habit of letting my reins get too long and then I end up leaning back and bracing. Yes, even after all these years. I ridee way too much on my own with no ‘eyes on the ground.’ (Hence the real need for mirrors.) Just by making those small changes Faeryn was more up, had more impulsion and really felt super. Faeryn and Fling are full sisters but very different. Fling is like a 500 hp muscle car that can go from 0-60 and sometimes has wonky power steering. 😉 Faeryn is elegant and lofty but does not have the sheer strength and power that Fling does. They are both super to ride and have incredible work ethics tho. But Fling is so smart, she always thinks she knows what we are getting ready to do, or what we SHOULD do, and it is sometimes difficult to convince her to actually listen to me. 😉 But I would not trade her for anything.