March 30, 2009

Coming & Going

This morning I headed out in the truck to pick up 'Dani'. He has just finished a month of groundwork re-training (and was a dream to load and has been great to handle so far, brilliant). Dani is a 6yo NZTB gelding who will do some schooling and then go up for sale on behalf of his owner. I had my first ride on him today and he was quite unbalanced, but did everything that was asked of him.
Then around midday 'Xev' arrived on a transporter. She is a 7yo cleveland bay cross mare who has come to get some mileage and go on the market. She was lovely to ride today -very easy and nice steady paces. I can't wait to try her out over fences.
Yesterday both Sam & Beau went back to their owners. Sam's rider had a great day at the show with him and really looked to be riding him beautifully, which will only serve to improve confidence for both of them. Beau is still available for lease but is having a break from competition for the moment.
Updates on recent departures
Prince is feeling great after another short recovery period (pulled a muscle jumping on slippery ground, even with studs in!) - he may do some winter dressage events. His paddockmate, Princess, and her new rider are getting to know each other well and may tag along for some dressage events before doing trail riding in the new season.
Dee was at the show yesterday with her new owner and put in a lovely double-clear showjumping round.
The rest of the team
  • Neo is still in work and competing. May not do any eventing this time around though - but perhaps some dressage starts for him just for something different. And, of course, showjumping until the season finishes. He will get turned out over winter to grow again (fingers crossed he makes 16hh).
  • Zak has been backed and is now on holiday to be a baby horse. For the moment he is in the paddock here at odenhills, however I am looking for real turnout grazing preferably with a small herd of horses to really give his mind a break from all the goings-on around here.
  • Pippa is getting a session or two a week on basic handling. It's a very slow road with her - and I hope the rewards are there in the end. We were going to send her away to be backed, but she is seeming a lot more ready in her mind at the moment so I may just do it myself.
  • Alfie is up with Mum and will be doing a few small jumping / eventing starts before the end of the season and then going on turnout to fill out a bit. I expect he will go out with Zak as they are great mates and I'm sure they'd love to spend winter being silly together.
  • Gem is in light work, and should be attending some dressage shows in the not-too-distant future. Unsure as yet if this will be with Mum, or if Gem will come down here. I think it depends a bit on the weather and timing while Mum is still working fulltime.
  • Kody is loving his break and has grown again. Almost time to bring him back in and get him to some winter events. Hopefully Tielcey Park will run their combined training days again this year as I think those would be perfect for him.

Circuit Finals

Yesterday was the Wellington SJ & SH circuit finals. We turned up nice and early to get some practise rounds in on Beau and to handover Sam to his regular rider so she could get a chance to do a bit of practise before competing him. All the practise rounds went well, and then after doing entries it was time to get started. Neo did the doubles & trebles novelty event in Ring1 but just didn't cope. We got stuck at a treble with lots of filler and long strides with an oxer at the back - I ended up retiring him as I didn't want to undo all the good progress he's been making lately. It was a bit of a shame, but I guess that's horses! The rest of the bunch were in Ring2. First class was an 80cm AM5 which was built nice and low to get started. Beau did a great 2 rounds:
And Anna did a beautiful 2 rounds, but we took it fairly quietly in the jumpoff. We did a couple of angles but didn't turn on the speed at any point. She was jumping confidently and happily.
Beau's jumpoff gave him the win for the first class of the day, and Anna's tidy clear saw her pick up a low end placing. Awesome to have both of them pick up ribbons in the first event.
The 90cm AM5 was a bit more true to height. I was first to go on Beau, and hadn't learnt the (instant) jumpoff. After a quick word with the judges we were on our way. I asked a huge question of him heading straight from fence 1 into the double (a 90 degree angle from each other, effectively turning it into a treble with 2 fences on an angle and a corner before the 3rd). I was so pleased with him for going through it without veering off course at all. He clipped an oxer - but I'm chuffed with his rounds anyway.
Beau-beau and Anna heading into the jumpoff (I took a much longer option, circling another fence, to get Anna from Fence 1 to the double).
Anna did a beautiful jumpoff, though somehow picked up a timefault (in the jumpoff... how shameful for the silly rider on top!). Not to worry though, the tight and twisty course collected quite a number of faults and Anna's clear round in the first round was one of few.
Anna came 2nd, and Beau's round picked him up 3rd placing. Anna collected both ribbons while Beau was busy on kiddie-play duty :)
The last class of the day was the Take Your Own Line. I put Neo in this one for a bit of fun after a rocky morning. He was first out and burned around the course having a ball of a time. Anna did an absolutely super round with some stunning turns in mid-air (over the same technical course I'd picked for Neo too).
Then Beau came out and stayed on form (though bloody tired by now!). Sam's owner did the same course and picked up a ribbon too! Which was fantastic to see.. and put all 4 horses that had arrived in the odenhills truck into the final lineup.
Neo looking, well, like Neo. And Beau with his first placing and Anna's 2nd place ribbon.
A super day really - and a neckful of ribbons for the greenies. Even managed to get home at a respectable hour. Beau has finished his month of work, and went back to his owner (still looking for the perfect lease home for him however) and Sam has gone back with his family.. so felt a bit like I was coming home with an empty truck with just Neo & Anna back there.
More horses arriving soon though, so I will do an update of the team with some pics shortly!

March 27, 2009

Zak plays horsey

Zak came along with Neo & Beau today. He loaded well (even if I did have to rattle food at him) and behaved while I was busy with the other horses. I've been slowly starting him over the past month or so. Our intention was to back him (he is 2yo) and then turn him out again to grow. His mouthing & long reining has been going well, and I've sat on him a few times - including a short walk down the driveway at home. Today I wanted to 'ride' him in an unfamiliar environment. I saddled him up and led him to the arena, then found a barrell (probably not the best item) to hop on from. Luckily he doesn't scare too easily, as the barrell started rolling toward him:
He stood perfectly while I got on. Then after an initial 'what do you want' he walked forward nicely for me. He wasn't spooky at all - but did take an interest in everything that was around him (and kept trying to drift towards the jumps too!). I was pleased with his stop-go responses and his steering wasn't bad either (still using an open rein to assist).
We walked a circle on each rein, then stopped and I got off him. I'm really happy with how he is doing, and now he gets to go out on the hills somewhere to grow for a year or two before we start any more work on him
Thanks to Swifty for taking pics, and a big thanks to Odette for giving us such a lovely foal.

SJ Practise

Took out the 2 boys today who didn't go and do cross-country at Te Marua. Have a show on Sunday and just wanted a quick tune-up for Beau and Neo. Beau is going really nicely at the moment and starting to go forward without constant encouragement, making transitions much tidier.

He seems to be completely cool with the fillers now and has stopped overjumping them, and just cruises over them. Happy about that. Also finding him quite easy to adjust into single fences.

Through the grid he was a little unsure and feels like he wants guidance from his rider for his striding. More experience should sort that out - because it's always nice to jump a horse who can sort out their own legs. He's using his back end really well over the fences too.

Here is a little snippet of video of Beau through the grid - excuse the rider getting a bit left behind! oops

Neo was very pleased to be out and doing something. Today I put him in the rubber mullenmouth bit. I've ridden around home once before in it and noticed he didn't chew at all - and have been meaning for ages to have a go at jumping in it.

I felt like I had a little less in the way of brakes, but no less steering (and he has a fairly soft mouth, so a lack of brakes isn't really an issue). Will keep this bit on him for a while and see how he does - as he seems more relaxed in it. He was jumping nicely today and going through the grid fantastically (see 2nd pic below where I get totally left behind and he just looks after me, what a good boy).

I hiked the grid up a bit more (measuring around 1.30). It's by far the biggest fence he's done and he felt perfectly happy jumping it, but his front end just wasn't as tidy/up through the shoulder.. so I decided to leave it at that and just be happy with how he's doing. Next step for him really needs to be some groundwork to improve his lateral response, he's still a horse who will lean into my leg rather than move away from it.

All-up I'm happy with what I got out of today and can't wait to get some showjumping done this weekend.

March 25, 2009

Te Marua XC

Took Sam and Anna out yesterday for twilight crosscountry practise at Te Marua. Not the variety of fences or the height that there was at Clareville - which was a bit disappointing. But mainly I wanted to focus on the bits in between the jumps, and getting them cantering along nicely.

Sam went really well. He was a little naughty at a few fences, but he was going forward between the fences so much better, and staying focused on me rather than on everything else that was going on. Really happy with that.

Sam video:

Anna went great - no spooks, had a bit of a look at the water first time - but flew over everything else with no worries (she should! they were small) - but still a good little outing for her.

Anna video:

Hopefully some showjumping tomorrow for the horses that didn't go XC yesterday, and then a show next door on Sunday. A bit of a busy week for us.

March 18, 2009

Clareville XC: Anna

Anna hasn't seen crosscountry fences before - and as we were warming up we had to go past a small ramp and she was snorting and staring at it each time we went past! I figured that probably wasn't the best start! But when she cantered into it she seemed to know what to do and flew over it nicely! We did another basic fence and then headed off to try some trickier things. She was great with the skinny larger chevron - never even considered ducking out the side or anything.
The corner was great too - cantered her into the larger side and she started to drift to I just pushed her over with my leg and she kept on course and jumped it super! I was stoked! The ditch took a few attempts to get up to it, but once she was at it she kept going forward and jumped over it (though her style of jumping the ditch so low to the ground is pretty hilarious!).
We did a few more simple fences which she was good with (then had a freakout at the mini pony over the fence). She never batted an eyelid at the trakhener, and went straight into the water first pop! A bit untidy on our jump up the bank to exit the water - but she got the idea soon enough.
All up it was a fantastic evening. I am incredibly impressed with all of the horses, and so glad to see Mum and Alfie jumping confidently together. Thanks again to Swifty for coming out and doing photos, and providing conversation on the way home as it was pitch black on the drive home and I was starting to get tired! Luckily Brad came down to help hold torches and things to unload when we got home. But yes, very pleased with the ponies, many hugs for them!