April 29, 2009

Finally Pippa

After what seems like forever, Pippa is actually coming through for me a bit! I had spent 2 months recently of working with her legs every single day trying to get her to pick them up nicely... and just constant failure. I had set up to get a local friend to help out, just hadn't organised the day. Then today after a few weeks of not really interacting with Pippa at all I decided to have another go.

Well, I tell you I could have almost cried. I could pick up both front legs (not for ages, but long enough to pick out and probably long enough to tidy/trim a little - which will be the next step!). Back legs not quite there yet, but I'm not fussed about that. Baby steps.

Then I lay over her a bit. She's been pretty good with that lately, but I've not trusted her enough to put my full weight on. Today I lay over her, then shifted my weight around up there, then dismounted from the off-side. Did that a few times over, and then sat up on her properly and she was really good.

Feeling enthusiastic (and perhaps pushing my luck) I went and grabbed her bridle. She let me put it on straight away like a normal horse (not having to undo the cheek pieces or anything like that). So then I hopped back on and rode her... ok, so I only rode her 5 metres! Then I thought I'd probably pushed my luck as far as I needed to and hopped off.

Chuffed with that.

April 27, 2009

Waikanae ODE: Dani

Dani is really making progress in his flatwork. He's not all the way there yet, but has a lot more pep and is starting to work harder. It's showing in his results too, after the dressage yesterday he was sitting in the top 6 which is a great start.
I still would like to get him a bit softer in his canter, but I really can't complain at all - he's coming along so well and really is getting a lot more fun to ride. He's pretty laid back and doesn't require any 'special treatment' which is nice (just a few kicks to get going!).
Showjumping was good. He had a spook at the planks, but he's just got so much more motivation now, and getting around the course seemed pretty easy for him.
Cross country he was awesome. Did the straight-through options in everything and never once pulled or made things difficult. He never even felt like running out or running out of impulsion through the trakhener, corner, chevrons etc.
He is really getting the confidence in himself to be able to go out there and have fun. I think another run at PreTraining will really cement that for him, then he'll be ready to tackle a Training course.
Dani came home with a pretty rosette for his placing, and for those of you who waited around for the prizegiving, you will notice that I've cropped the piccy so you can't see that I'm just wearing socks and sneakers with my jods! haha.

Waikanae ODE: Xev

I was so pleased with Xev's first eventing start at Clareville (PreTraining) that I decided to upgrade her to Training for Waikanae. It proved to be a very tough outing, but a great experience for her. The dressage test was actually a Novice horse trails one (B2), and we still don't have our buttons sorted for lengthening, but Xev did seem to appreciate the specialist surface and was a lot more balanced in her 15m circles than she has been on grass.
The arenas were really dusty, and she was sneezing heaps! So I might have to see if there is something I can do about that? Not too good for the poor girl. But she went very kindly throughout her test and I was pleased.
Xev did a super clear showjumping round. And within the time too (the SJ time had been quite tight for the previous class, so I wasn't sure how we would go as the footing was slippery and I wanted to take nice big wide corners, but her huge strides must have eaten up the ground quick enough!).
I was a bit nervous about the crosscountry.. not the height of the fences, but just the technicality. But I really had nothing to worry about. She is positively made for crosscountry and just gets into a stride and goes.
We finally got into water as well. There was a rolltop, then a stride, then into the water. Xev came around the corner and saw the water behind the rolltop and wasn't keen. When we reapproached I did the 1-handed cowboy trick and she got over then landed at a halt and walked ever so slowly in the water. But she got in, and I am confident that now she'll be sweet with water. All just mileage. She was a real dude with the bank too - did it in a bounce and flew off the other end!
She pulled up with a bit of a puff, but only for a few minutes - so it's good to see that her fitness is at the right level too. Xev finished up just out of the ribbons, but I am just so stoked with how she is coping with everything I try her at.

Waikanae ODE: Dicky

Loaded up 3 yesterday morning to head up to Waikanae Park for an ODE. Got there nice and early to secure a park in the park rather than on the road. The rain kept away for most of the day as well - and when it did hit it was mainly showers, so not too unpleasant.
It was my first competition outing on Dickson. Because he's been going so great being ridden around other horses in show atmosphere I really wasn't expecting any issues with him, and he started his warmup lovely. But he did get a bit anxious and then stressed himself out. When he was behaving his did some really nice work in the arena.
And he is a lovely ride when he's focused on you. But there were a few times when he just got too upset and would take a good few strides to calm down again. Walking back to the truck (ages away from the fancy new arenas - and past half of the cross country course) was an interesting experience!
He settled as soon as we got back to the truck, and wanted his cuddles. For the showjumping I thought I'd better be on the safe side and put my back protector on - as well as a monkey strap to grab. Didn't end up needing either, as he was perfectly behaved even in the more crowded warmup area. He got a bit goey in between some of his fences, but did come back well because he has a nice soft mouth.
He was super on the cross country. Still a little horrified that we were out doing these funny solid jumps with people standing beside them! But once he got into his stride he was sweet. The 2 pics below are a combination on a downhill, which was a bit tricky but he just flew it. He also happily jumped the corner and palisade and a whole bunch of other things.
He was very unsure about going into the water and did the smallest little steps to get in, but he kept his forward momentum and once in the water he was more than happy to jump back out!
He gave me a really good ride on the XC, and I'm pleased with how the day went for him. We posted a score and he behaved after his initial little tantrum. I think from here he just needs more mileage, so will hopefully get him out midweek, then his owner can ride him at a show in the weekend.
Dicky was a very tired boy by the time we got home and was stoked to go out in the big paddock with the other boys.

April 22, 2009

QEP XC Practise

Just got home from a mid-week cross country practise out at QEP. It was really great to have an opportunity to get some mileage into all the horses, especially before Waikanae ODE coming up this weekend. Swifty and his neice came along to take photos and help out - which was much appreciated with an eventual 5 mounts to get through.
I have changed Dani's feeding regime and he's certainly feeling a lot better under me. A bit more perky in his flatwork and also not getting on the forehand into jumps. He was a lot more fun to ride today and seemed to have sorted out what is wanted of him.
He was great with the ditch combination and did the bank as well. He was a very sweaty boy by the time we finished going around - but he just seemed to be enjoying being out there and doing things which was really great. I hope this newfound energy stays with him! We did some specific practise over skinny fences and worked out that he needs a fairly short/bouncy canter to jump them nicely.. but aside from that one niggle he's a pretty easy dude.
Farrago Bellringer
After Xev's introduction to cross country at an event last weekend I thought it was only fair that she do a practise day and see all sorts of fences in a really laid back situation. I really wanted to school her in the waterjump too - but it was empty of water! We still went through it though, and she seems to understand drops and banks very well now - which I think was part of the confidence problem with dropping into water (as she's cool with creek crossings). Well today she blew me away - cantered straight off the drops without even the slightest falter to her stride!
Sweet with ditches too - I didn't even bother to start with the Training ditch - just went straight for the Novice one and she pricked her ears and popped over. She's such an angel. We did some practise over the corners and a few oxers but I didn't want her to do heaps and heaps - she seems to have it all worked out anyway.
Dick was awesome to warm up amongst the other horses cantering around and didn't seem at all bothered by being somewhere new and different. He was a bit horrified when I cantered him into a cross country fence and almost left all his legs behind the first attempt! But after a couple of fences he soon remembered what this is about.
He did the bank and ditches and a pretty good variety of things, but I mostly kept them pretty low. He wasn't sure about the downhill fences to begin with and got a bit stressed, but his confidence built the whole way around and by the time we got to the last few fences he was feeling like an old hand.
Awatea Sherbet Twist
Neo probably didn't really need an XC practise outing, seeing as I'm not intending on eventing him this season - but I thought it was a good opportunity for him to practise the bank (that is our weak point on the cross country course). He went straight up the bounce no worries (I think he likes that the second element is really just an upright). And we did the larger bank a few times - slightly messy - but he's really getting his landing gear down in time which was the root of our problems.. so I am stoked to see that improvement in him.
I popped him over a few other fences just because we could and he hooned around everything - he was having a blast. Maybe I do need to enter him in just a little ODE somewhere for him to have a low key fun outing?
By the time I'd finished my 4, I'd somehow picked up an extra ride on the lovely Kip. He has a really nice jump in him, and just needs a bit of confidence. I had a wicked time on him.
We did a few basic fences as a warmup, then headed over to the back paddock and did the bank and the ditch complex - he was awesome with the ditch (I wasn't expecting him to just fly straight over it!). I look forward to seeing him with his owner this weekend at Waikanae ODE too.
So a very busy day for me (managed to spend 6 hours at a 2 hour practise day!) - but got stacks acheived and feeling good about how all of the horses are going. Didn't even get too sunburnt. Awesome.