Sunday, May 31, 2009

Full Gallop Horse Trials

Thanks to a great team of helpers,we made it through a busy day.All in all I rode 5 horses in three divisions and had a few students there and we all made it home safely.

Lara did an excellent job at schedualing all the rides and I even had time to sit in a chair a few times and have a drink!

I think Pickles got the star of the day award.He tried his hardest not to get nervous in the dresage work and again (after Chattahootchie Hills)I was very proud of his composure.He does not let go enough for lengthenings to be true but good things come to those that wait.(Whats another 5 years!)But his Show jumping and XC were without fault and I felt it was very easy for him and he was happy.He finished 2nd.I was delighted and he got tons of cookies and apples and carrots afterwards.

Peter Pan was very good in dressage but at the last halt ,left a leg out andI went to catch it and he said,Oh rein back again?No problem.Naughty Boy!But he is really getting to be fun betwen the boards.I thought the Show Jumping track was enormous for Peter.They only put it down one hole from the IP and it was definately the biggest thing Peter had ever seen.I had two down.One was from my right knee whacking the wing standard hard enough to demolish the jump.I think he cleared it but I tore it down,then I rattled the double as I was a mess.Fortunately we regained our composure to jump the rest clear.I left the ring knowing I have a lot of homework to do but that Peter can jump the biiger jumps if I can get in the middle!

There were two first time questions for PP on the XC.A downhill skinney to two drops to a chevron thing and he handled it really well.Then a bounce that was made of two beautiful round roll tops encouraging great jumping.The ground at Full Gallop was VERY VERY Hard and I didn't fancy blasting them over it.I could feel them stinging and I did not over push for speed.Peter finished fourth in his first prelim.I was delighted.

Harry had his first outing of the year and was good in dressage though the footing in the ring was challenging to say the least.I did not push in there.As it was my first go due to my leg and scratching him from Chatt Hills I ran him training but this is the last for him.I made a BAD error and was not straight to the skinney in show jumping and tapped it out.My fault entirely,sloppy riding.The rest was ok but I need to tighten up.An expensive rail that dropped him down to eventual 7th place.His XC was clean and fast but I wish I had had him in the prelim.I feel he is ready and will jump better with the bigger jumps.

Cinder was a super star in the BN though he tripped a few times in the dressage ring.He was a tiger in the jumping and I wish I had had him in the novice or maybe even the training.He is such a great little jumper! GREAT FUN!!!!! He will make a SUPER horse for someone.A REAL PACKER!!!!! He finished in 3rd place.Yea cinder!

And Spotty was good for his first event.It is interesting how things can change from schooling at home to a party.We had a few wobbles and bobbles.But he went.A great horse for the future.

Beth and Layton also had great rides and went home smiling and confident.Thats what its all about.

So thankyou to all .Barbie, the uber meister kept everyone on their toes for sure.It felt great to have so many rides.lLike the old days.I am far better when I don't have time to think.

Stay tuned:Next Stop Champagne Run,Kentucky.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lucinda is coming!

Lucinda green is coming to Paradise june 7-8 and I am happy to say we have filled the clinic with all kinds of riders.Lucinda is in my opinion THE BEST TEACHER of cross country riding I have ever seen.Her technique is extremely unique aimed at RIDING THE SAFE WAY!!!!

She has taught me more about not just riding but teaching and what is really important at getting riders and their horses confident and connected.And thats what its all about.Her lessons are the foundation for all my teaching both with the eventers and foxhunting safety clinics a like.Good riding is good riding no matter what discipline.

We have been a little bit naughty here at Paradise and have been practising before her majesty's arrival.We are not really supposed to do that as she wants to see things go a muddle so people can fix them.But I wanted to assure a few new people and green horses that they will survive to avoid anxiety and drama so we had a practice session the other day which was a riot and very productive.

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than having people call me on my cell squeeling about their lessons and that I did it ,I get it feeling."Sorry to bother you but I just had to call!!!!!"You all have no idea how much that helps me get on the tenth horse of the day or back on the mower.

Yesterday (monday) we took a string of five eventers to the woods to just hack and have a stretching,marching day for 2 hours in the woods.I try to do that twice a week if I have enough riders.The point is to get the horses to march up and down hills working walk,not wandering aimless walk.It makes the riders ride ther whole time and its great for the horses to have an outing.The point is a combination of working,stretching and relaxation.

We had had an uneventful ride (except for Peter Pan doing constant airs above the ground)until we came to a large puddleOne of the four year olds took extreme exception to crossing this large ocean and WOULD NOT GO!!!!!!We were truely stuck for about 15 minutes.The rider was purple with exaustion and frustration .I sat there laughing my head off knowing the feeling and also knowing she would get through it.The other riders looked away sheepishly and I barked,next time it may be you so pay attention!

Anyway I told the rider to ride the challenge the way she was jumping skinneys the other day.To ride the tube with her ankles seat and hands.I call it channeling.Her horse LEPT in, flying way out to the side into the trees nearly decapitating the rider.OK thats part of it,now go straight.HOLD on,don't lean forward and make sure you look where you want to end up!.Pretty scary when you have zero control over a terrified obstanant baby giant Irish horse.(big boy).So then she got her steering under control and we got him to stand in the water.Then all was right with the world.

The horse simply did not undertand the question and wanted no part of it.So we broke it down til he said Oh is that all you wanted?

Lucinda's tube.The concept of walking not launching is key.Horse and rider found communication and confidence with each other.Relief and understanding were enormous.The rider REALLY LEARNED how to put her ringwork into place in the woods.GREAT.THATS WHAT ITS ALL ABOUT!!!!!!!

Also it was great teamwork on the part of all the other horses and riders.That is something that is also very important here at Paradise.We all work together as a team.No one is ever left out.

So it was a very happy day.That four year old is jumping this week at Full gallop.We'll see if the rider remembers anything.I think she will. Stay tuned.

This weekend should be fun.We have about 10 horses going.I am riding 5.I have two prelims,one training and two beginner novices.Hope the old grey mare (me) can keep up with the big guns!I think we have about 20 helpers too.We are going to need them!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Taking Lessons.

We have been having a lot of fun and productive sessions at the farm lately.I do feel strongly that to make real progress we need to be consistant and fairly committted to taking lessons.I personally feel I cannot go longer than two weeks before I start to lose it.Before those loose ends start taking over and my communication with the horses gets muddled again.

Having an outside eyeball helps to keep things in line,in perspective and in order.So much can change in a matter of days,sometimes for the better,sometimes for the worse.After my lessons I often feel like I have been miscommunicating whatever messages to my horses.They are quick to talk back and say HMMMMMMMMMMMM thats not right for me.My lessons are a combination of a trip to the spa and a trip to the shrink.After lessons I feel like my bones and my brains are realligned.And that helps my horses.Whatever it takes to help my horses.....

I often compare the knowledge I am gaining from my lessons to the rings of an oinion.It is such a challenge to get through each ring and get closer to the center.Trying to find the center of a transition,the center of multiple flying changes,or the middle of a straight line is something that continues to intrique me with all the different personalities and temperaments that get muddled up along the way.

As a is SO rewarding to see people and their horses work through their respective rings.As with all onions there are often tears but sometimes they are deliciously sweet too.There are a lot of people that have made a SERIOUS effort to come to Paradise and practice riding and it is really starting to show.It is getting very exciting for me as a teacher to be able to really get these people going and one can see their hunger for more with their horses.It makes it all worth it.

Sometimes teaching is not so much fun.When people think that riding should only be fun (easy)and not hard work that makes it harder on everybody.One thing I have learned over the years is that we riders have to learn to repect what an illusion good riders create.That they didn't get that way,without pain,tears and sweat.Again the words committment and consistantcy come to mind.Good riding makes good horses."A horse goes like the rider rides it!"

There is no easy way to learn how to live.There is no easy way to learn how to ride.There are no substitutes for taking lessons and getting that overview.Everyone needs lessons.Everyone.

Monday, May 18, 2009

At Last

We FINALLY made it to an event.The Area 3 Championships at Chattahootchie Hills.Sadly Harry couldn't go as he had hurt his back,so Barbie and I went down with Pickles and Peter Pan.Rain was in the forecast and boy did it ever.Poor carl ,I know exactly how he feels to have his beautiful facility destroyed by all the trucks.Mud was everywhere (though the tracks for the horses were good)But Five hundred people can definately tear up a field.Our stables were soup.The horses did not want to even go in them!

Dresage went well.Pickles was drawn first of the class and I thought went very well for him.He is such a sensitive horse and gets very worried.But he was really a good boy,yet was placed last in the class.Never mind.He was happy and so was I.I can't wait to get him in a large arena!Peter was all business.I was very happy with his test.The judge told me she was very dissapointed by my rides and expected much more from me!Humph!Back to the drawing board.Peter was tied for 5th after the circles.Again I was pleased with the horses.

We were stabled way far from the event and could not hear a thing up on the hill ,so we missed a great deal of the competition.Too bad as it would have been fun to watch the 2 star horses going.I thought the Training championship course was very soft and was disapointed to see us share fences with the novice ,rather than the prelim.But,as it was my first run of the year ,the most important thing was would my leg hold up?It has been feeling great but I have had a few balance issues,standing in the irons.The pain factor has really subsided.I did not feel a thing on the day and had two clears ,so things were spot on.

I am impressed,having missed basically the entire spring season,by the HUGE INCREASE in the numbers and degrees of angled questions out on the cross country.They are everwhere.We had a great angled coffin in the training.That was great practice for things to come.
Jon Wells was kind enough to buzz me around the prelim and Intermediate courses and there were some SERIOUS angles out there and I thought the intermediate water was also without joke.

I think these angles are a great way to make people ride better.You have to slow down and be very accurate.You have to PRACTICE!There is NO WAY to ride these things without PRACTICE and thats what riders need! AGAIN AND AGAIN!!!!!!It's not enough to just go out and jump big fences.The Europeans at Rolex REALLY SHOWED us how to do it.I know that this is something I will have to work on to step up my game.

Show Jumping had to be moved to a second location as the intended place was destroyed by the first day of competition.So the Organizing committee at the event deserves great thanx from all of us riders for their efforts.I hear it took them all night in the mud and rain.

I haven't been practicing my show jumping on the grass much and I think that rattled Pickles a bit.He jumped a clear round but was muddled by the footing a bit(which was good just wet)It was a nice flowing course.Last time I jumped at this event it was a very hard course with few clear rounds.Peter was also clear and jumped like a lion.

So Peter was third and Pickles 8th.We were delighted.

It's nice to be home again and out of the mud.Lets hope the washing machine holds up!

I had lots of friends at the event and my sponsors ARENUS were there which made it even more fun.I am so lucky to have their support and they are more FUN than a million monkeys.

So Full gallop is next.I am thinking about moving Peter and Pickles up to the Prelim.Just have to decide.My concern is the ground over there can be a bit hard.Harry will hopefully run the training as he missed his first start.Then we shall hopefully go on to Champagne Run in Lexington.So stay tuned.Today its back to the drawing board and getting everybody back in work after their short weekend break.It is wonderful to be back riding again!