Monday, August 16, 2010

The indoor where I have been riding

Just thought I would show you where I have been riding. This is the indoor arena at the Riding for Disabled Association. It has great footing not too deep at all.

A new instructor, new thoughts

I had a really good lesson yesterday. I am trying not to get too excited just yet but old Sam was poking through. The weather a terrible so we were at the indoor I have been taking Sam to.

We worked on getting a contact while asking Sam to be forward. We soon got it and Sam was working in a nice round frame. Not all the time but it was quite steady and soft. When he was getting tired he was really leaning on my hands but he worked well and when asked would come up off them even though it was hard for him - and ME!!!!!!

What I liked about this lady is that she did not expect things instantly. At one point she asking for Sam to be more forward so I gave him a bump which of course made him put his head in the air, hollow his back and go tense. She does not want that - keep him calm and relaxed and squeeze, if it takes half a circle that is no problem - he is learning and we want it to be a happy place not a scary really uncomfortable place. We also worked on transitions and it was interesting because Sam has a lot of difficulty with walk, trot transitions - with his locking stifles it makes it hard for him. He sort of hops/rears into it. Sometimes we can get a lovely transition but only about 50% of the time. We did three transitions and then I was asked to keep trotting she believes to try 3 times and if it still isn't working to move on. Tomorrow is another day. I am still thinking about this one.

Scott came and videoed the lesson for me and watching it I think it was the best, most consistent Sam and I have ever worked. I will having another few lessons with her just to make sure it wasn't a one off but so far so good!!!!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Not finding relaxation

Yesterday I took Sam to the indoor again. The amount of rain we have had this week is unbelievable. Sam loaded the best he has ever done. Straight on. Stood there while I put the ramp up and everything. Looks like the training and perseverance has finally paid off. Sam was tense while riding. We started with walk, trot and canter on a loose rein. The moment I took up a contact we had tension issues. So I concentrated on myself that I was weighted evenly through my ankles, relaxed in my seat and legs, let my shoulders drop. We did figures of eights with 15m circles to help bend and soften. I did get 1/4 circles of nice work. Rest, long rein walk. Once Sam warmed up and I think he realised that I wasn't going to bump him hard he seemed to relax a bit more. What I am noticing is that he doesn't really want to take a contact, he seems to be bracing so there is nothing in my hands if that makes sense. So I pushed him out in trot and then using my seat bought him back, I tried that for a bit - no difference. So I did serpintines and tried to get him to stretch down - this helped a little.

With our canter work I worked on our transitions a little more. On the right rein he would quicken his trot and fall into the canter so I took him right back. After a few goes we certainly had improvement. His canter was forward and not sluggish. He felt reasonably light and off the forehand. Change the rein and his left lead he picks up better but with a bigger hop. I wonder if this has to do with not having the strength yet in his hindquarters. Also his stifles.

Poor Sam was exhausted by the end, really falling on the forehand, heavy in my hands. We ended with a lovely swinging walk.

I have a lesson this afternoon with a new person so hopefully she will be able to help me with relaxation while asking Sam to be forward.

PS Sam loaded first go again for the trip home!!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A better ride

Today's ride was a lot nicer. I made sure Sam was really relaxed at the walk before anything else. I did a few relaxation exercises for myself, breath in taking the shoulders up, breath out dropping the shoulders right down. Just moving the head around from side to side and back to front. Taking the reins in one hand and letting that arm drop down from the shoulders.

I asked Sam up into the trot and let him poke around. No pressure just trot and up into the canter. He carried himself around at the canter in a very strung out way but was calm and relaxed.

After another walk I gathered up the reins for a light contact and asked Sam up into the trot. It took a bit of pressure to get him into the trot but I didn't want to bump him because this is where he gets upset. At first he was rushing, throwing his head and showing general signs of tension and being upset. I kept asking him to stretch down, change of rein through figures of eight and serpentines. Soon I could feel him relaxing, slowing down within himself and starting to just trot. Back to walk and we walked on a loose rein for a few minutes. We practiced walking straight and halting.

Back up into trot and this time the transition was better. Not so much head throwing and he responded quicker to my squeeze. Once we were settled again in the trot I asked for a canter. He rushed in the trot, went stiff as a board and stuck his little nose out. I asked him to come back and soften and tried again. Once again went stiff as a board, stuck his nose out and rushed. I bought him back again and softened again. This time I used a stronger half halt and used my voice. Much better. He was tense but not any where near as much. I let him canter around and concentrated on my position. The transition from canter to trot was awful but we can't fix everything at once. My focus today was to try and keep Sam relaxed.

Changed the rein and our canter transition was a lot better. For our cool down I took Sam over to the reserve and we had a lovely long walk on a loose rein up and down the hills and through the trees. I think he really enjoyed it.

So what I believe is that Sam is a horse that you can not bully. He likes things to be taken slowly and softly. Most horses are probably this way but he is just 'vocal' about it. I hope to fit in a ride again tomorrow afternoon and see what we can achieve then!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bad lesson, new instructor?

I had another lesson today at the RDA. I think I will try a new instructor. I got there early today so I took Sam to the indoor to warm up. He was relaxed and happy at walk, trot and canter. I didn't ask for anything and he was happy to cruise along. Jane turned up and he went tense straight away. Jane likes a horse to be very responsive. So when we are at halt and want to walk on if I squeeze with my seat and get nothing or Sam is slow to start walking I have to bump with my legs. When I bump with my legs I still have to get a 'big' reaction. I don't like this. My confidence isn't really up to that yet. Sam also gets upset with this.

We worked on my position alot which was good - I like that because I believe that will really help Sam and able me to ride more effectively.

Sam was rushing and tense during our trot work. We have a new exercise of doing figure of eights with 10m circles. This does make him slow down, think and we really asking him to bend and step under himself. After a while he is able to change direction without lifting his head and getting tense through the change of rein. We he becomes soft and flowing we take him out onto a bigger circle.

Then we did walk canter transitions. Poor Sam found this a little too much and started to grind his teeth. Once in canter he really rushed, fell in on the circle and generally just ploughed around. We also did a few trot canter transitions and I thought they were terrible but she didn't give instruction while I was trying to do them. She helped me work on his canter because he is very strung out and on the fore hand but at no time helped with those transitions.

By the end Sam was extremely wound up - leaping during our canter work and the grinding was getting really bad. I ended up saying that was enough for today and walked him out just to let him cool down and relax. When Jane left I could feel Sam start to relax.

I understand you want your horse to be responsive but I thought it would be better to start off with a relaxed horse who is willing to make transitions in a quiet manner. Once we have that established then work on them being more responsive. She keeps telling me for collective work we need our horse to be forward and I agree but at the moment I want a quiet steady soft frame and then start working on finer details.

I think I will have to talk to her and tell her that I am not really liking what Sam is becoming. I like my position and how that is improving but I don't like how upset Sam is getting now. He used to be such a laid back cruisy horse and now there seems to be a lot of tension. I am not just blaming Jane I am the one riding so I am doing a lot to upset him but I am following her direction.

There is another instructor coming to town next weekend. I have heard reports about her so I think I will try and organise a lesson and see how we get along.

A great thing today though. I loaded Sam, towed him to the lesson, unloaded and then reloaded and towed home and unloaded all by myself today. He unloaded so well. We have been working on waiting in the float until asked to back out and to back out slowly. Seems like that training is really paying off. Loading he still bawks once and then loads fine. He does need encouragement with the dressage whip though to keep going up the ramp. I was very proud of myself and of course Sam!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sam had a bath!

I took advantage today of the warm weather we had. We reached 15 degrees with no wind so it was nice and warm in the sun, SAM GOT A BATH! First shampoo since we moved here! I don't think Sam enjoyed it too much but I sure did feel better. Clean boy, clean rugs, knot free tail. Of course it hasn't lasted long. He rolled after I put him back in the paddock but at least his body is clean!

I am really good at getting distracted when I'm at home so I didn't get a chance to ride but I am planning to ride tomorrow afternoon as I am finishing work early. The farrier is coming in the morning which is good, Sam get a pedicure to go with his clean body!!!!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A lesson in an indoor! and Sam's here to stay!

The weather has been terrible here all week so my instructor organised for us to use an indoor arena near her. The RDA - Riding for Disabled Association - has a great indoor arena and we were able to use it for $20 an hour. With the rain and wind I was a little worried about how Sam would cope in a new environment with all the noise but of course he proved himself to be a gem!

I packed the car and loaded Sam. He only had one bawk at loading and then we were up and in. Impressive as we were loading in the rain and wind - very cold. My OH drove us there and he dealt with the awful conditions very well. Sam unloaded well. I lead him down to the arena, he had a good look around on the way but was happy to keep going without walking on top of me. We saddled up and had a walk around the indoor to check everything out. He snorted at a few things but on the whole wasn't too concerned.

The lesson was good. Jane (my instructor) had a ride and gave him a tune up for me. She really pushed him and put him under pressure. He coped ok. He did push the limit a little but he was trying to figure out exactly what was being asked and once he figured out the 'comfort' area he was happy to work in that area. His head carriage is not still as he really doesn't have the strength to carry himself properly yet but we will get there. After Jane had ridden I jumped on board and I love it when you can really feel the difference the moment you sit in the saddle.

At the walk I felt that I just pushed forward with my seat and instantly we had a powerful forward walk. WOW. Jane wanted me straight up into a trot as he was still figuring everything out and being that we are always trying to get Sam to go forward we didn't want to stop that forward thinking. I still found it difficult to achieve what Jane does but we did a few different exercises and I felt glimpses of what she feels and achieves so I have something to work towards.

Near the end of the lesson Jane ran through a dressage test with me. The rain really started to pelt down, a truck turned up and unloaded 3 horses, we had to work at the end of the arena that had things stored there. All these things distracted Sam and I really struggled with getting his focus back. There were parts where I had to canter and we hadn't done any work on the canter yet so I found this especially difficult. What I did find though was there were areas where we really had some nice work. I had to trot across the diagonal and it was really nice bar about 5m. Another was we had to let the rein out and let the horse stretch down on a 20m circle and then take up a contact again - that was really nice.

So while we had some terrible work we also had some really lovely work. The best thing was that my OH came along and videoed some of it. I can see that my position has improved. I sit up a lot straighter but Jane is always telling me to turn my toes in at my knee. I finally saw today what she was talking about. WOW I never realised how badly I turn my toes out so I can really work on that too. Also - SHORTEN MY REINS!!!!!

I would like to go back to the indoor at least once a week if I can manage it. Once we are able to down load the video I will post some of it for you to see.

When I say Sam is back it was the oaten hay I am sure of it. He hasn't been worked since Monday and he was like he used to be after no work. So I am glad I figured out what I problem was. I think this will also help my confidence with him after no work.