May 29, 2008

SuperStar Billie

Billie was also coming out for some jumping. She will be heading back to her owner soon, and looking for someone to ride/compete her - so I wanted to ensure that Billie was confident and happy in her jumping, and was ready to make her way around small courses.

We did a bit of a warmup on the flat, no spurs but instead using a dressage whip to help keep her from leaning on my inside leg. It is certainly improving her, and she seems to have a lot more energy with the changed feeding over this past week. After our warmup we did a couple of small singles to get our eye in and then started on bringing these together into a course. Billie coped really well. Some of the corners we came back to a trot and recomposed - but most of the time we were able to continue with even tightish corners at a good calm canter.

After going through some 'mock courses' I was really happy with the way she was jumping. We added in a few angles (which Billie was perfectly happy to do, though found it easier to pick her spot from a trot approach or a very collected canter) and even popped some of the jumps a bit higher than she's seen before - nothing was a worry and she just leapt over everything I faced her at. She'll be a really fun horse in those showjumping speed classes, especially with her small size which will give her an awesome advantage for the tight turns. Billie seems to absolutely love jumping:

I also got a short video of Billie over the smaller mock course early on:

Alfie had come along for the drive, but I decided not to work him - so just an outing for him. And practise for Pip at home being alone.

Gem's first jump session

The mornings have been so dark and cold, so I figured it was time to spend a day working from home - which would allow me to take a superlong lunchbreak and head down to the arena to get some work into the horses in actual sunshine and daylight. Such bliss.

I wanted to take advantage of the daylight hours, and pop Gem over a crossrail. Gem will be heading up to Masterton in just over a week, to stay with Mum. So I wanted to ensure that all the basics were covered... if Mum wants to pop over a log or a little jump at home there isn't going to be any sort of major fireworks. I warmed Gem up around the jumps, and she didn't spook at any and didn't get wound up (well, no more than her usual enthusiastic self!):

Then it was time to put up the smallest crossrail known to man. We trotted into it and she just hopped over it very politely! Head was down and back was up afterwards - but no actual buck. I figured this was very good news... and popped her over the little crossrail a few more times until I was happy that she was just going to mosey along after it. Swifty put the crossrail up to a vertical for me and Gem was sweet as... so I just kept cantering and put her over a few more fences:

I am absolutely over the moon with her performance. She really didn't fuss about anything (even ugly fill), and she seemed to be having a ball of a time which is fantastic. Even got a video of a few too! You can um... see her enthusiasm at times. I am still trying to locate the brake pedal:

May 25, 2008

Battle Hill with the Team

It was raining today, so what better thing to do than to go over to Battle Hill with half a truckful of horses. I dragged Nick along to take some photos and help out too. There was nobody else around, so we had the whole space to ourselves.
I saddled up Billie first. She's going really well, and is just so much more balanced than previously. She is also starting to carry herself, but she can get a bit tired and fall back on me to hold her. I'm going to switch her feed to something with more energy to try and perk her up a bit which I think might help.
She's still chewing the bit at times, but seems to stop after a good warmup. Need to do something about that huge mane before her next dressage test though... I suspect it's time for me to learn how to do one of those running braids.

After some flatwork I took Billie for a hoon up and down the paddock. She isn't very fast! But nice to be able to drop the reins and know she's just going to truck along nice and steady. She was good about the rain too, as we were cantering into that really icey piercing rain when we went for our blat, and she didn't even try and tuck her head in or evade.

Alfie was next up, but he hadn't actually been ridden since I took him to the Grays Rd arena (as I've been away for work, and the days either side were a total rush, so I only got Billie worked). I wasn't sure what to expect, and it turns out Alfie wasn't really sure either! He was fine for me to hop on him from the truck ramp, but fairly worried about heading into the big open space. I was starting to wonder if someone had taken my horse and replaced it with an alpaca :/ not good!

He settled down really quickly though, and I am thrilled with the way he went. Not quite long & low yet, but at least it's not a head on a stick in mid air. And he was so obliging. It was great to see that he was quite confident too, and happy to stride out instead of shuffling along or scrambling/spooking. There is a low key dressage day next weekend, and I am hoping he can go along and see what it's all about.

Of course, to complete a dressage test we're going to have to canter. I hadn't had a canter on him yet, and wasn't too sure about doing it in such an open space. But Alfie just popped into a canter really calmly. I needed to get off his back a bit to start with, and encourage him forward - but he was just a dude about it all. I even did a few more canter transitions and they were responsive and clean. So happy with how he's going.

I put Alfie away and had a look at Gem (who, by this stage was almost breathing fire with the excitement of being somewhere different and going out for a ride!). I thought this could all be rather interesting. But she turned into a lamb (well, as much of a lamb as Gem ever is) once I got on her. She is still a bit heavy in front, but she was a lot more forgiving today and wasn't tanking off or pulling.

She was such a good girl - Mum should have fun taking her out to the next Solway dressage day. Gem even got big hugs after the ride for being such a good horsey.

Upcoming events for these 3 are local dressage on June 1st, then Solway (Masterton) for dressage on June 8th. I think Tielcey (Palmerston North) dressage is the 20th. By that stage I'll be well and truly sick of dressage and searching high and low for some sort of showjumping!

May 17, 2008

Alfie Meets Saddle

It's been ages since my one and only 'ride' of Alfie (in a cattleyard, bareback with a halter). His splint is looking very stable and I got new front shoes on him this week, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to bring him along to the arena today with Billie. My plan was just to bring him to look, and if he seemed sane then I'd pop on him in a yard for a walk.
So I got him brushed and saddled up which he was mostly asleep for, then took him to a yard and laid over him quietly then took him for a short walk. Figured that he seemed quiet and happy, so I'd head to the arena.
He was a bit more worried about the arena. He walked in, but was a bit nappy back to Billie. Though that was the worst we faced today (having to kick him a few times to get him moving forward). In fact, I was so stoked with how laid back he was that we even did a short trot on each rein and then he got a big pat & a hug and that was it for the day.
Really pleased with him, and might take him along for the ride with Billie tomorrow so he can watch the other horses doing dressage and learn about standing tied to the truck for half a day. I think his first ridden outing will be mid-June at the dressage day in Solway if all goes to plan.

Jumping Billie

I took Billie out to the arena today to pop her over a few fences. We've gone a little log and barrel at home, but not any coloured fences yet. She warmed up nicely - a little distracted at first by everything new, but never really put a foot wrong. Her canter transitions were all really clean and responsive too. I think she really enjoyed the nice flat surface after all the hillwork lately!
We started with a few little crossrails at the trot. She never hesitated and was quite happy to pop over them. Then we moved on to cantering in and I found her to be quite adjustable into the fences to get a good stride. We did a few spooky fences (barrels, pickets etc) and a grid. She even did a few 90cm fences very confidently. I was really happy with her.
I was also quite happy to see that her fitness for the 'faster' work has picked up a bit since I've started to put a little interval style training into her routine.

May 15, 2008


I figured it's been ages since my last update, so I'd better do one. Not doing a lot though, we try and wind down a bit through winter (the lack of daylight hours just makes things near impossible). So, an update on the animals:
Billie has been improving heaps! She can now trot and canter on the rolling hills, and is jumping about 60cm confidently (still a little gangly, but enjoying herself which is fantastic). We're looking at taking her out to a few dressage days over the next couple of weekends to see how she copes in an arena and the whole show atmosphere. I think she'll do just fine though.
Pippa is booked into Joe Lumsden to finish her backing, we're just waiting on a transporter that can fit down our road to come and pick her up as I just don't have the time to run her up there (and don't want to be loading or unloading in the dark by myself).
Alfie got front shoes on yesterday... and starting this weekend he'll come in for some slow work - mainly walking at first to ensure his splint is settled, then we'll look at what options he has to get out and about over winter. Have not even had a saddle on him yet though, so no idea what is in store for me there!
Gem is getting worked occasionally just to keep ticking over. She'll be heading to Masterton soon to be with Mum, and I think their next planned outing is the first of the Solway dressage series in mid-June.
Neo is up in Pahiatua getting fat!
And Zakky is keeping Neo company (or vice versa, I'm not sure who is the boss... they're both equally crazy I think).
To try and combat the weather and darkness we are looking at getting a simple gable shed put up to store the truck in, and have some covered yards and well-lit area to saddle up in the mornings (5am in the pitch black with my dolphin torch is way less fun than it sounds!). More news on the shed when I find out more!