Monday, 20 May 2013

First XC School of the Spring!

I've had a pretty hectic past couple weeks! I have been riding almost every day, and it's been awesome! Usually on riding nights by the time I get home and find something to eat, it's pretty much bedtime! Between riding and camping this weekend for May long, I hadn't touched our computer since last Monday!

Our first time going cross country this year went well! We went out to Alhambra the other week and did a pretty simple and straightforward school for our first time out, we were riding with our local course designer, who also gives clinics and is a great coach. We started out with some stadium jumps and grids to warm up, and Sunny was pretty excited to be out there but already I had noticed she was so much more rideable compared to last year! Feels like all that hard work over the winter is paying off!

Worked out some kinks on the first few xc jumps, establishing a better pace and rhythm and staying straight, not popping those darn shoulders like she'll do on the way from the start box to the first fence!  Sunny's gotten lots better about waiting and not just bolting at everything like she'd rather do!  Carried on to some simpler combinations, we did a bunch of jumps on uphills and downhills, and then we did some bending and angled lines, and then incorporating the little training level corner.  Ended by trotting some little ditches and had a couple nice canters through the water and over the bounce logs. Didn't do anything too demanding, jumped most of the training stuff and a few prelim jumps, was a good easy way to start off the year:)

 Had a bit of an entertaining whoops moment during our ride, there's this steep-ish hill we were schooling jumps on. I was doing the little entry roll top at the top, then a few strides down to a prelim log pile skinny which was mid-hill, then a narrower faux "corner" at the bottom that training level jumped, and it was kind of a shallow S bending line to jump all 3. Well, Sunny, being the independent thinker that she is, decided to disregard my asking her to come back and wait to the first jump at the top, so she kind of hesitated, was going to add a stride but then decided to take off long. So we had the most awkward semi-jump/trip/stumble on the landing side, I lost my reins and a stirrup and Sunny regained her footing right away and kept on going, I had grabbed one rein back and we jumped the skinny no problem, and it was only a few strides to the faux corner so I just sat tight and kept my leg on and she hopped right over that too. I halted on a straight line after and then was just shaking my head and laughing at our disaster of a combination as I trotted back to the group, and our coach was all excited and was like "Holy shit, that was AWESOME!!! Wicked recovery, way to get it done!!!" Hell, that's what me and Sunny are good at, sometimes the simplest things are the hardest for us, and we may not be the prettiest or smoothest ride sometimes, but damn it we GET IT DONE. And it's pretty much automatic for me to just sit back and let the reins go when something happens, it's saved my ass a few times I'm sure, haha. In my happy world we would get everything perfect first time around, but that's not how things go with horses, as we all know!We came right back around to the same combination and rode it perfectly the next time though:) I love that Sunny never gets nervous or flustered when shit happens, which honestly isn't very often thank god, it's just something I've noticed over the years. She'll trip over the ditch in the coffin or miss the bank out of the water with a front hoof and stumble the odd time, but then she comes right back around like nothing even happened and we'll nail it second time around. She's pretty awesome:)

Other than that one blooper, Sunny was awesome and we had a great ride! So I think if I can get out and school cross country one more time, we'll be set for the first event at Beaumont June 8th and 9th. Beaumont is pretty straightforward as far as prelim goes, but does have some bigger tables and things so I want to make sure I hop over some stuff like that a time or two before we get out there. Been getting regular jump lessons the past few weeks too, and I've been pretty happy with our stadium work lately, we just need to start raising the jumps now to get back to the height we were doing last year.

A few pics from our cross country school down at Alhambra!  photo A8DC1641-FD6D-4E81-9BE9-6D72B04B10A8-642-0000018908EA3574.jpg  photo 29E82F23-4DE8-4954-97C5-907F1B95C9D9-642-00000188F892C9DB.jpg  photo FB13206C-4353-41F9-8CB9-945FBBF007B5-642-00000188EF171640.jpg  photo 144667AE-0D52-407F-B1D4-033D8FE1A2F3-642-00000188E627AC84.jpg
And Sunny looking all huntery, while my leg is still slipping back into last week, ugh:P  photo 61D3EBF0-3515-4C49-87D7-C1B16470AC65-642-00000188DC0196B0.jpg
Getting some grazing time in after our xc school!  photo CEAFB683-0EBE-4F5C-8D69-BACBC3F58F26-642-00000188C89AFB39.jpg
I took some pics over the winter to document Sunny's neck muscling, since she has always had a huge dip in front of her withers, and generally just the crappiest topline ever, and FINALLY I feel like I've been getting somewhere with it! This is from back in December, this was when I started to notice the dip being not as prominent.  photo PC130108-1.jpg
And this pic was from last week, her neck looks so much more muscled now. To me anyways! I need to take some full body shots to really compare.  photo C928B053-9196-4DCD-B584-ED0C4DDFF4A9-642-00000189492B5A27.jpg
Our awesome conditioning ride from last Saturday in the big field:)  Did about 4 miles of walk, then 2 trot, 2 canter.  Did all the canter and a bunch of the trot in 2 point as well, and I'm happy to report that I wasn't totally dead afterwards!  Need to keep that up for sure:)  Sunny is actually crazy fit coming out of the winter, I'm pretty happy with where she's at right now.  photo FA030CC3-396B-4500-8338-535E1D0966B1-642-00000189245BB0DC.jpg

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Is It Spring??

So last Thursday a bunch of us headed over to Horse In Hand Ranch again to jump lesson there. Sunny was AWESOME. Like seriously super awesome, relaxed, listening, everything I need her to be. My coach had me raise my stirrups up a hole and actually carry my hands, and those little things made a world of difference! I'm so used to Sunny screwing around while jumping, that I had totally gotten into the habit of just bracing into her neck with my hands for like 3 or 4 strides on the landing side, because that's when she'd flip, is right after a fence. Jesus what a difference once I picked my hands up and actually RODE instead of just sitting there!

Look!! No crazy helicopter tail!! :D

Sunny's been REALLY good lately. The barn has finally opened up the field, I've been doing lots of flatwork out there, going to start some actual conditioning work in a couple days! I can't believe how much Sunny has changed over the winter. WE ALMOST HAVE A NECK!!! She's actually super muscley and really fit coming out of the winter, this really has been the winter of dressage!. But her canter is amazing now! She can slow down and sit right down, and stay balanced, her trot is so much better, and she's really starting to lift her back! When I'm riding I'm always going "Wait, is she pooping?" and looking back, because that is exactly what it feels like, haha. Soooooo much progress, I'm super excited for eventing this summer! It's exactly one month till Beaumont, the first event, and I send my entries in the other day!!!! :D  photo 9CF916EA-46D1-4A62-ADB1-68A65070AA2C-27562-00002C1835BAF29C.jpg
Tomorrow I'm going to school cross country for the first time this year!! Yay!! A friend and I are heading down to Alhambra tomorrow after work, I am super excited:)

This was from the schooling day at Horse In Hand, what a gorgeous facility! Sunny and her paddock buddy Uma, on the left, were chilling in style after our ride:)  photo 2F2ABD07-3DE5-4D66-AE48-809D878E3F66-27562-00002C1871BFFD77.jpg 
So since the field opened up at my barn I've been doing a ton of just hacking around at the beginning and end of my rides. That crazy red mess is where I do my flatwork in the field, haha. This is a pretty typical ride, pretty crazy that I can go nearly 7 miles on any given day:P  photo 6820A835-54B4-4FD6-96CA-5B9AD27D1AB7-27562-00002C184181B109.jpg 
Couple of shots from my ride, it is ALMOST spring here!! Alberta's a little slow:P photo 9052F902-602E-4318-A3F6-F6633FC129BA-27562-00002C184C1DD1BB.jpg  photo FC739EA4-CF33-4C44-8562-4BA381E03036-27562-00002C185D2B5C28.jpg 

I took Sunny out to graze while she dried off after I worked her today:) Thank god the grass is finally growing! And I just realized that the line down Sunny's neck from where I clipped her is pretty much invisible now! She's still shedding like mad though.  photo 915770C1-E1D6-4F62-9486-EE400A020EF2-27562-00002C18CD94D10A.jpg  photo 8C9ED57E-9109-46D3-9DFB-0693BF2B584D-27562-00002C18C1950718.jpg