Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Perfect Horse is PERFECT

Soonie got the majority of last week off due to a busy work schedule, cold temps, and perhaps a little laziness on my part.  He certainly didn't seem to care.  I spent the day in NYC on Saturday, because work sponsored a day trip and for $20, why the hell not?  So I saw The Phantom of the Opera for probably the sixtieth time, and sadly that exaggeration is actually not very far off the actual number.  So. Yep.

I love horses, hockey, and this damn show
Soon and I went hacking on Sunday, did a flat school on Monday out on the bluestone track since the footing everywhere else was soaked.  That track is such a savior; when the weather is too nice to ride inside and the footing outside is no good, that track is always in great shape.  And at 70 degrees and sunny, no way was I staying inside.  Bubba felt great, giving me nice, through forward movement and using his back well in the shorter/higher outline at the trot.  He is so much stronger now.  We did one turn around the track in counter-canter in each direction as well to end the ride.  Canter is his best gait, and it's nice to ride that kind of balance and power in the counter-canter on a horse like that.  I was definitely thrilled with him and his dressaging out on the track. :)

We did a jump school outside today, and it was probably one of the better ones we've had out there!  That ultra-short rein concept is absolutely the key to him jumping; I feel a little ridiculous with my hands up by his ears, but it improves the communication ten fold, allowing us each to make very small, quiet adjustments.  And despite him having almost a week off and it being a lot cooler today, he was foot perfect out there.  Super quiet and soft.  I had one of the verticals and the triple bar up at 3', which is on the higher end of his jumping experience thus far, and he felt fantastic.  We didn't do any rollbacks, turns, or combinations today since I didn't trust the footing to do anything more demanding than just straight approaches. 

We reviewed the arrowhead jump concept as well, since one of the trainers had set one up outside.  I jumped him out of it to start to remind him, and then once into it (acting like an actual arrowhead), and yes he was perfect.  Dead on straight, confident, just like we wanted him to be.  I made sure to keep my eye up and shoulders back so as not to get ahead of him, because he's very sensitive to my upper body position.  He only needed those two refresher jumps, he felt so good about it I just couldn't get over how quickly this horse learns!

After that, we jumped the 3' vertical to the triple bar, which were both great efforts, and I called it a day immediately after that.  He was listening so well and so stinking perfect that he didn't need anymore.  It was maybe 25 minutes worth of work, and that's fantastic. 

Bubba loves triple bars

He got his two carrots, lots of pats and hugs, wrapped for the night, and afterward I enjoyed this beautiful sunset.  Amazing day.

If you're reading this blog lately and thinking "Geezus, everything is all fucking rainbows and unicorns"....yes.  Yes it is.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Field Trip!

Soonie and I had an incredible afternoon with one of our best barn buddies!  We loaded the boys up and went down the road to a state park to spend an hour or two on the trails.  It was a great day for it, and a nice chance for me to see how Soon handled himself off the farm.  He was (wait for it....) perfect.  Absolutely perfect.  This is how overly-proud parents must feel when their kids do something special.  Because holy shit, I could just hug that horse ALL DAY.  All day.

He loaded perfectly, shipped fine on the short ride, unloaded calmly and took about 2 seconds to look around at his new surroundings before shoving his face in the grass and eating. 

Zero fucks were given

 He was totally chill from the start, it's like he got off the trailer and said to himself, "Yep, we're in the woods," and went merrily about on his way.  He was happy to hack through the woods, across wooden bridges (never seen one before, but walked right on over it!), share the trail with cyclists and hikers, and generally just be foot-perfect the whole time.  I was thrilled to have a nice, relaxing hack and be able to chat while he walked along on a loose rein.  The scenery was beautiful.

 This was a fantastic first time out.  He has great trailer manners and I'm excited at the zero drama.  He got tons of carrots at the trailer and again at home.  Love this horse!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Adventures in Jumping the Mounting Block

Soonie and I had another jumping lesson with Awesome Trainer Lady tonight in the indoor.  Now that we're stuck to riding inside on weeknights due to the daylight hours, these indoor jump schools are probably going to be very interesting.  And tonight really set that tone!

Standing over his accomplishment

Soonie learned how to jump arrowheads and corners today!  And it has been eight or so years since I did any, so it was a great re-introduction for me too.  I'll cut to the chase and say he was amazing.  We introduced the questions to him slowly, and by the end of the lesson he was doing both with lots of confidence.  And yes, it was freaking weird jumping straight over the mounting block in each direction.  It's late and I'll add more details later, but I cannot get over how fun that was and how great Soon was.  He got about four carrots for awesomeness.

All tucked in and ready for bed!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Awesome Jumper Lady

This ^ horse was a total boss today over fences with lots witnesses to verify our sane jumping-ness.  The extra EXTRA short reins are working, we had a great jump school today.  It was so nice to be able to ride in the daylight during the week and with warm temps.  Another wonderful day.  :)

If you're getting sick of the "EVERYTHING IS WONDERFUL!!Q11!" posts, feel free to change the channel.  I'm blogging the shit out of this stuff, man.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fall Fun

Soonie and I enjoyed a wonderful hack today with some of our favorite barn friends.  :)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Wild Goose Chase

Really.  We literally chased wild geese out of the dressage arena today.

This has been an overall good horsey week.  Had a breakthrough jumping lesson on Wednesday, where Awesome Trainer Lady had me shorten my (what I thought to already be very short) reins to what I now call my "Pony Jock" reins.  Or racing reins.  Basically uber short with my hands two miles out in front of me.  Soon can get up and short in the neck on the approach, which makes it difficult to adjust and properly communicate with him if my reins are too long.  Where we had some moments starting out (aka the Return of Scary Jumper Lady and taking the flier), shortening the reins to an extreme actually made all the craziness stop.  Suddenly the quiet distance was attainable, he was perfectly adjustable to the base, and we had a lovely last couple of schooling rounds.  I was VERY happy with that development and will have to remember to ride him like an overgrown Welsh pony in the future.

Thursday I was physically broken and lazy, so Bubba and I had a nice walking school where we revisited the turn on the haunches and worked on correcting our shoulder-in.  Yesterday we did something and I'm sure it was important (I do actually remember and it was just another flat school, working on going from working on a shorter outline to stretch and back).  Today I rode him and Zen, did laundry (horsey and human) and generally procrastinated.

Soonie did some unwanted remodeling on his stall yesterday since he doesn't share well with others, and his personal bubble extends into everyone else's stalls.  So after some carpentry (which I did not do because mine would have involved copious amount of duct tape and crying), the damage was repaired (thank you barn owner and hubby!) and they installed a plywood divider to Soon's new stall at the end of the barn.  Now he can't see his neighbors, and there was instantly peace in the kingdom. 

Oh, and I am so not ready for colder temperatures.  I absolutely prefer them to 90+ degrees, but it was damp and just fracking COLD feeling tonight.  I am old.

Don't look so excited

Sunday, November 2, 2014

How 'bout that

Another great outdoor jump school in the books!  This time in 50 degree weather and 20mph wind.  Soonie was super, very quiet and relaxed, and jumped around like a hunter.  Love him!!  :)