Monthly Archives: June 2013

One step forward, two steps back

Just as I had a minor breakthrough with my training philosophy with both horses, I came down with an upper respiratory infection and could do no more than lie on the sofa for the past two weekends. I rode in a clinic last weekend, but the first day was a wash, as I had heat exhaustion and had to quit after barely beginning my lesson. Note to self:  DRINK EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT THIRSTY.

I am seeing results from my new warm up strategy with Fling. I always thought she was being resistant, but she is so muscle-bound she needs a lot of stretching exercises before she can swing through her back. What feels like resistance in my hand is stiffness in the back and hind legs. I have altered my warm-up routine, adding more stretching down and up repeatedly and starting off in rising trot instead of sitting trot. Also, thinking more about ‘going with her’ and trying to keep my hands more forward with shorter reins.

I had a good ride on her last night. Unfortunately when I got  on Faeryn this evening it quickly became apparent that she had a loose shoe – even though she was just shod 10 days ago. She had some nails pulled partially out so Mike pulled those after I got off her. We put a boot on her and I have a call in to my shoer. Sigh.Right before the weekend, thankyouverymuch.

 

Faeryn and Fling Start Boot Camp!

My trainer pointed out a rather obvious thing that had completely eluded me. I was whining about Fling, the Fourth level horse, taking SOOOO long to warm up and being so ‘resistant’ at the beginning, while Faeryn took almost no warm-up. Fling, she said, is very strong, but because of that, she is ‘musclebound’ and needs to really work on her suppleness, especially longitudinally. Faeryn, on the other hand, is super supple, but is not strong. She said I need to stop thinking Fling is resistant and just remember it is stiffness. After that conversation, I realized I really needed to have different warm-up routines and training strategies for each of them. So I did some searching on exercises to increase longitudinal suppleness for Fling and strengthening exercises for Faeryn. I tried one out on Fling and was really pleased with the results. While I am doing all this I can almost hear the theme from “Rocky” in the background!

 

Faeryn Goes To a Show!

Faeryn has not been shown since our Regional Championships in November of 2011. However, Houston Dressage Society was having a show at the new facility that will host our Regional Championships this coming October. I decided to enter her in the show to just try and qualify her for the championships, and also get to scope out the new show grounds since it would be our only chance before the big event.

The facility is in Bryan, just minutes from the Texas A&M University campus and Veterinary Medical School.

When I got there and unloaded Faeryn, I was very proud of how calm and mature she was. It is still hard for me to believe she is EIGHT years old! She will always be ‘my baby’ since pulling her out of her mom when she was born in 2005! I always said that starting her under saddle myself at 50 years old was a piece of cake compared to her first few shows!

I knew that she was not really in top show form, but thought she could score well enough to qualify and then we would be done with it, and go home and train between now and October.

 Between my job, a 106-mile round trip daily commute, aging parents, farm and two other horses, she definitely has not been ridden enough the past 18 months. In 2011 I competed her at First level in recognized shows and Second level in schooling shows. She won the HDS year-end Second Level Schooling show amateur championship as well as the head-to-head Second Level Amateur Championship at the HDS’ annual Schooling Show Championships. But she’s definitely ‘backslid’ since then.

I unloaded all my stuff and finally got her tacked up and ready to see the competition arenas by 5 p.m.  Although she was calm walking about the show grounds and warm-up arenas, the competition arenas intimidated her. They were the ‘coliseum’ type with high walls, stadium-type seating and no view of other horses. They had livestock panels lining the entry ‘chute’ and she did not like those either, but she got over it. She warmed up well – but I knew I still was not challenging her enough. But for this weekend, I would just ride tactfully to try and get our qualifying scores. Her biggest issue at this point is a head tilt going to the left – mainly at canter. I’ve been working on it, and I know how to fix it – it’s just making it a habit.

I was completely on my own at this show – no show buddies, no trainer. And no test caller. 😉

My first ride was at 9-something Saturday morning – my second ride was 8:11 p.m.!!  The show was so big they had to hire another judge and go later since there are only two competition rings. Definitely the strangest ride times I’ve ever had.

I rode First level Test 1 first and of course went off course. Darn. I definitely did not know this test as well as First 3. She was a good girl and no other major bobbles. Definitely riding conservatively and the head tilt reared its ugly head, so to speak, in the canter work. Scored a 62.586  It would have been a 63.275 if I had not gone off course. I placed second, and would not have won the class even without the error.  I had a better ride in my First 3 class that night, with a 63.875 and third out of 8 – and best of all – a qualifying score. One down, one to go!  My Sunday ride was at 7:20 which was really poor planning by show secretary to have the class that ran late on Saturday night be the same people scheduled for first thing Sunday morning. I scratched it since it was not the qualifying ride and I was afraid I would run out of horse. It was a wise decision on my part.

She warmed up beautifully Sunday morning and I had much almost completely eliminated the head tilt to the left by the time we went down center line. We had our highest score yet – a 65.161 and another third place. And, qualified for both the SWDC and GAIC Region 9 Championships. Judges’ comments were no real surprise…needs more engagement, more impulsion and and thoroughness.

So now, boot camp starts in earnest for Faeryn AND Fling.  Fling needs much more suppleness and self-carriage. “Summer school” is now in session!!