From racing to riding... the training diary of an off the track Standardbred

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Finally. An Update

The past week or so have been busy. I have had two wonderful, and much needed, lesssons with my Auny on Sunday the 19th and Wednesday the 22nd. So...let's start out with that.

First, we worked on straight! She had me picture Jet as a rectangle with the corners being his ears and hips and everything else had to stay in that box. Everything had to be straight, or we would form some sort of trapezoid. Not too long after we started, he was going very well in each direction! I have to say that he did much better going to the left, his good way.

We then practiced my dressage test (Intro B). First time...was...uhh... disatrous. My Aunt know the way I think and broke it down so it was easy to think about and comprehend. First of all, she said the judges are looking for straightness, transitions, even tempo, and roundness of the circles.

First, we corrected the trot down to center line, the salute, then trotting off. He tends to drift to the right when I ask for the trot so she had me ask him with only my right leg and seat. This helped a BUNCH and he actually moved forward and straight.

Then we focused on the circle. Mine turned out to be an oddly shaped egg. The told me to think about it in fourths. Each fourth starts with a clean slate. This helped me relax and think about what I had to do and not rush it. As we did the circles, as we came to a new fourth, mentally I could comprehend that I was starting at a new point and could regather myself and Jet if I needed to. When we got it right, it was amazing! We did this in both directions. Going to the right however...he did his odd kick out to the side multiple times...more on that later in the post.

The we worked on the change of direction. She reminded me not to go corner to corner. I had to allow myself enough time to finish the first corner, straighten him out on the diagnol then switch the bend and then come behind the corner so when I reached the rail on the diagnol, I had time to organize the corner and actually ride it, and not ride into it.

This lead to our trot to walk transition. When I first practiced the test, I rushed the diagnol, went right into the corner, made a tight turn, and it resulted in an awkward transition. Once I had time to be on the rail and think about it, the transition was 10000% better!

Then the free walk. Jet waddles at the walk. So I have to allow free movement while really supporting with my seat and legs to keep him somewhat unwaddley. This was actually pretty good by the end.

We then had the walk to trot transition. Once again, he tried to buldge to the right. He also didn't want to pick it up at all in his bad direction. I just kept asking and asking and asking with my right leg and eventually we got the transition.

On Wednesday, we added a new concept. I had to connect the corners of his rectangle diagnolly. I had to use my inside leg, my seat, then catch the energy I created with my outside hand. To start this, we worked on big bubbly figure eights with a straight line when I changed direciton. We would go one direction, go stragiht, then switch the bend and push him to the rail that way. He really started to get it and engaged his hind inside leg!

On Sunday after the lesson, my wonderful Aunt (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!) had her massuse give Jet a massage. He had a ton of tight spots. Especially his right shoulder, lower back, hind end, ect. He was also VERY sore on his right front in the back of his tendon on his lower leg. Everytime she would feel it, he would pull away and pin his ears. Not good... Thankfully...I have been checking everyday and there is no heat, swelling, and the pain has gone down!! He no longer flinches when it is pinch tested, We are thinking maybe he stepped funny on a rock or twisted something in the mud or maybe since he had thrush he was over compensating in his leg. Whatever it was, hopefully it is gone now. Also, his back was very tight and out of whack. After she moved things around and worked her magic, I heard  his back brack about 7 times! She hopedully popped everything into to place and it has definitely showed in the way he is moving! He doesn't waddle as much anymore! And he is able to move off of my leg so much easier! YAY!

I have been working with him on the things I learned and he has made huge progress! I can't wait for my next lesson to show my Aunt how we have improved!

Unfortunately, we did not get accpeted into the Flatlands dressage Show. We are thinking it is either because of parking limitations (they can only fit a few trailers) or that my entry never got there...hmmm...

Anyways, it has been raining and will keep raining for a while so no riding for a few days :( We are VERY busy in October too. I'll keep you updated!

THANK YOU Blogger for finally letting me log on (:

-Emily and Jet

Monday, September 27, 2010

Just letting everyone know that I am alive! I have lots to share but I keep getting an error when I try to log in...any help?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I love my horse.

I haven't been doing too much lately. With school back in session, my rides have no been as frequent or long. I have been doing some ring work and trail work. He seems to do better on the trails though. I have been wokring on getting his trot slow and collected. Once I can get him to do this, I can ask him to extend his stride at the trot into a nice working trot.

I have been doing the usual ring work. Bending, counterbending, going straight, using his hind end, circles, serpentines blah blah. The list could go on. Yesterday I decided to try him western. I have always thought he would be a good western horse and pictured us doing western in the future. We had a western saddle, but it didn't fit him. We tried Mary-Kate's saddle, still didn't fit him. Luckily, our friends "S" and "S" came to our rescue and tracked down a trail saddle for us. Thanks again guys!

I worked on really getting him collected and using his hind end to get a jog. Surprisingly, after only a few times around posting, I was able to sit and get him underneath himself. For a few times around in each direction, we actually had a nice jog going! It felt like we were trotting in place and his trot felt really smooth and comfy. He was able to do it alot easier in his good way and could get it his bad way but he drifted off the rail a lot more. After I rode him for a bit, I asked my Dad if he wanted to get on. He grabbed a helmet and hopped right on! Here are some pics:

Dad practicing his steering

Walking around

Turning around a barrel

Look like a western horse!

Look at Jet's face!

Look at dad's face!

It's love (:


Today Dad went on his first trail ride on Jet. I was at school when it happened so no pics :( Him and Mom went for a trail ride at Hobby Horse all by themselves. Dad brushed Jet all on his own, then Mom helped him tack up and get on. From what I was told, Dad did great and so did Jet! They had to figure out how eachother worked at first but after Dad got steering down again, they were golden. I heard that Jet took great care of Dad, even though the only walked, and they had a great time! Dad's butt was sore for a few hours after the ride since he isn't used to sitting in a saddle for 40 minutes. Dad wants to get shoes on Jet because he saw how ouchy he was on the rocks. So hopefully he will get shoes on! After they got home, Dad ran to the store and got Jet a big 5lb bag of carrots. Jet was veryyyy happy to get the carrots and will happily give my Dad a ride anytime he wants one. I love my horse.

-Emily and Jet

Monday, September 6, 2010

Trail Time

Since the Clover Valley show, I have done a lot of trail riding. Reason being, I am starting school again this Wednesday and I will not be able to go out on the trails as much so I figured I could do trails now and then ring work until the dressage show.

The day after Clover Valley, I went for a bareback trail ride. It started out bad. He was hyped up and was ready to explode. I worked him through it and got an amazing trot. Neck round, body coiled on underneath himself, engaging his hind end, straight, and slow. Couldn't have asked for any better! I tried to get a canter, couldn't get it, so worked some more at the trot. On our way home, we went through a field and I asked him again for the canter and got six strides of the most amazing canter I have ever ridden on any horse. Same as the trot, he was round throughout his body, pushing with his hind end, and there was so much lift and suspension with his front end! It was AMAZING! It was so slow and comfy! I'm not sure how long it will be until I get that canter again but boy it was nice!

Mom and I went to Hobby Horse for a few trail rides. We did lots of trotting with walking breaks. In the fields we knew well, we cantered. His canter on the trails gets fast and strung out easily because I usually let him open up. Not anymore though. I need to break that habit.

We did lots of hill work, circles, turns, etc. Yesterday I went to a part of the trails where I knew there would be some small fallen over logs and we jumped those. He was super and jumped everything I pointed him at! we went back to the derby field and did some dressage work and I got a gorgeous trot out of him for an entire long side of the field. We then went up to the indoor and I popped him over a very large cross rail twice. I though he was going to refuse but he surprised me and went right over it! the first time he plopped over it so I was more forward to it the second time and we cantered out. I called it a day, untacked, then took him for a swim. There was a photographer there and he got some pics of us that I will try to find.

This week we are going to look at a jog cart for Jet so we can drive him. It is from someone we know and is very reasonably priced! Fingers crossed!

-Em and Jet

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Clover Valley Jumper Show

On Monday night, my family, friends, Jet and I went to the Clover Valley Jumper Show to compete in our first jumper show ever! I have never done jumpers, and niether has Jet, so I was excited to try something new.

To be on the safe side, I choose to only to the groundpole division. I wanted our first really jumping show to be a good experience and I didn't want to push him too much. We had two classes, and two jump offs. All of our rounds went clear! Yay!

He was pretty funny to watch. He is definitely still learning where his feet go and how he should get over a fence. The show committee really took time and effort to set the groundpoles course. Instead of just laying out a pole on the ground, they took the time to make each jump a new challenge. Some jumps were set with two or three poles stacked on each other or in a pyramid, some were on crazy angles, some had planks instead of poles. some had flower boxes, some were set up as small crossrails (laying the poles on the legs of the standards) and one had a brick wall as wings on either side of the jump. I'm really glad they did that because it presented tons of new things to Jet.

We got there at a good time but due to my trying to remember my course, signing up, then getting ready, we only had a 10 minute warm up before our first course. We did alot of walking, then some trotting, and a short canter in each direction. He picked up the canter right away!! Yay!

Our first course was a disaster. I didn't trust him enough to go over the poles because he tried to bulge out on the second fence. So I was tense and stiff, and so was he. He took a few of them pretty hilariously though. He took the brick wall fence from 6 feet away and 3 feet high! I got left behind on that one for sure..Most of the time he just trotted over them but once we got faster he took it from farther away.

Our first jump off was out best course. We cantered most of it and I trusted him enough to the fences to give him a release and ride it like a real jumper course. We placed 4th out of 12 in our first class.

Out second course was interesting. This course we had to take the brick wall fence from the other side and he took it huge again. I wasn't expecting it and lost my stirrup. I could hear everyone gasping when it happened lol Between looking at my next fence and keeping him straight, I was laughing the entire time! I fortunately picked up my stirrup before the next fence and finished the course well.

Our last jump off, he was tired. He wouldn't pick up the canter so we trotted most of it. He picked it up after the first fence, but was on the wrong lead so I brought him down, and asked again, picked it up on the right lead, but he tripped and lost his confidence in the canter. I let his trot the rest of the course and because I did, we placed 6th out of 12 riders.

I decided to ride the courses as hunter courses, although they ended up being more like a jumper course. I wanted to keep it controlled and slow, get good spots and distances(the distances didn't work out too well some of the time lol), make sure if we cantered he was on the right lead, and help him the entire way. We ended up going faster than I planned but he was having a blast and enjoyed himself and as long as I was in control asking him to do it and he was being good, I allowed him to go a little fast. He never kicked out to the side and his ears were up over every fence! It was a great experience for both of us and I'm very glad I went.

Here are a few pics that I think are either good, hilarious, or explaining what I said above:

Bulging at the second fence, first course

Brick wall wings. I got so let behind!

Trotting to fence 6, first course

Fence 6, look at his ears when he goes over them!

Not knowing what to do with his feet, jumping with he front, trotting with the back

Cantering in our first jump off

Angled zebra plank fence

Our last fence for every course but the final jump off


Second course, losing my stirrup over the brick wall winged fence

Cantering out of fence 5

Fence 6

Pretty boy!

Curling over on him because I had the worst stomach ache :(


Cantering in our last course, Jump off 2

All done!

-Em and Jet