Monday, October 31, 2022

Pony Club Ratings, The Reprise

True to my original stated goal that if Gwyn was lame, it wasn't going to stop me from working on Pony Club stuff.... I did it!  As soon as our club asked if anyone was interested in C level ratings, I jumped on my chance to get back to being a full C-1.  All I needed was to take the Horse Management portion of the C-1 rating since only my riding level transferred. 

The exam was scheduled for this past Saturday, Oct 29.  I prepped early and often, I had my record book thoroughly filled out thanks to these posts and my habit of always gps logging when I ride or taking at least one photo. All of my rides or horse things needed to be documented for at least 6 months. 

I made kick ass flash cards but should have started on them sooner, honestly. I didn't actually study MUCH with them. I do want to proceed through with the Horse Management ratings so it might be a good idea to start working on these now since it was a major effort to get it pulled together. Those spiral bound note cards are perfect especially if you put the answer on the back so you can flip through and quiz yourself. 
The night before I was going through making sure I had my pin, coat, shirt, etc. Now I'll feel better about putting felt behind my pin to indicate my level (spoilers!)  but this is the first time I've worn some of this gear since I bought it! I found amazing deals during the pandemic and promptly stopped showing. 
For whatever reason I couldn't find any of my belts so I whipped one up really quick that coordinated with my jacket (navy backing with purple and white) thanks to a long ago tutorial on blogger land.
This was also my inaugural test of my hi-tie! It was installed while I was in North Carolina on a work trip back in March and I had surgery and hadn't been out to use it!  Gwyn loved it and had no problems, but she also generally prefers a hi-line over being tied at the trailer.
Mostly tacked up, I went with the purple pad (and peep the blogger made saddle cover) and a shiny pony. 
Spiffy and almost ready to go. I was reviewing how to do safety checks and realized my own helmet chin strap was woefully loose so I adjusted that quickly. 
The other adult member running through her questions with our examiner, Peaches. Also Hazel the morgan mare who did great! 
Part of the exam was applying two stable bandages on diagonal legs front and back so Gwyn got to demonstrate that as well. After this Gwyn got to just chill out at the trailer like she was camping. I hung around, even though I was technically done, to act as ground crew and assist the examiner. And of course to cheer on my fellow teammates!
The junior member performing a tack and safety check on Robyn and Hazel. We all safety checked each other. 
Robyn and Hazel looking spiffy in their riding portion! They also did a dressage C-1 rating. 
Final questions outside as we all recognized that the horses were just done with being in the indoor arena. 
Group photo!
And congratulations to us! We all passed! 
Checking how well I did on the stable bandage.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Lesson Time!

 After my last scheduled lesson got sent far off course due to Gwyn eating a bee (like... REALLY mare?!) I was finally back at it on Sunday! I had originally signed up for a Shawna Karrasch clinic this past weekend at Polestar but it was cancelled due to low sign ups. Like... booo, but also hey, money back! And not trailering in every day stress since I'm only 5 minutes down the road. 

We started with working on the ground and really getting Gwyn to stretch down and reach out. A lot of that is making sure I'm timing my cue when her inside hind is starting to swing forward. From there it's working on not nagging her. If she responds to the cue, stop asking as the release. Know where her sticky spots are though (arena entrance) and anticipate/watch the body language for signs she's going to start slowing and ask again. When she gets that floaty trot, it looks magical. 

Photo from a previous ride, I never have time to take pictures during lessons hahah

After doing some work on the long lines we switched to me on board. This lesson was all about me feeling the timing of Gwyn and feeling the feedback loop. So input from Gwyn to me and then me cued to Gwyn. It should be a cycle, but right now I'm a wall and I need to become not a blockade. So it was working on me while also fulfilling PT duties for Gwyn!

We started with me feeling how she was moving, was she straight, where was her front end, where was her hind end? And then asking for corrections, creating the feedback loop. Going to the right she loves to swing her haunches in, so a lot of what I needed to do was ask for her hind to step in and under her (outside leg keeping her forward). I want to feel like I'm funneling her body between my legs and hands. I'm also working on not leg cuing with my heel, which is a bad habit. It should also help reduce my knee pain. 

Going to the left she's crooked more in her shoulder and my focus was on asking her lift her inside shoulder and step over. We did a lot of square turns, and the combo I need to remember is that I want her rocking back onto her haunches (half halt) and lifting the shoulder up (outside leg cue). I have to think the haunches slow while the shoulders keep the same pace.  

What was absolutely neat was suddenly feel that stiffness and shoulder drop when we were near the end and she passed the arena exit and I just lost her for a moment. It's where she always runs out and where she spins out if spooking. Now I need to practice that half halt - outside leg cue. Because the mare will square turn without me in her face when I get that timing right. And of course, this is the basis for pirouette. Basics y'all. I'm actually loving working on these basics because I can see where the holes escalated and widened and I'm fixing and filling them in.
Some other things I'm planning to continue work on from the ground include a 'politeness' ground tying. This is specifically focused on the barn because Gwyn loves to LARP as a vacuum cleaner. Great when she's given permission to do so, less great when I'm trying to bridle her and all she wants to do is hoover wisps of hay. I had been trying to work on her head down cue for bridling and if I want to do it in the barn aisle, I was sweeping meticulously beforehand. Goal is that she will stand in the aisle, regardless of errant hay, and wait.

And of course, working on the head down cue. I've made sure to practice every time I put something on her face and she's gotten much better! Goal here is that she will drop her head to make haltering and bridling possible by my kids. They don't have an interest now, but if they ever do, it'll be nice to have that button preinstalled.

In Pony Club news, I have a date for my C-1 Horse Management rating so I've got studying to do and a record book to fully compile before the end of October!

Thursday, September 8, 2022

First Ride Back!!!

I have no media from this, which is a shame, but I had a GREAT lesson on Sunday with C and finally rode Gwyn!!!!

First order of business was a hoof trim for Miss Gwyn. Once again we did the hay trick and she had no problems standing on three feet while the fourth was being handled. She was very good for Corrie and her feet look fantastic despite the awful drought we're in. I haven't even used Hoof Armor this summer, mainly because I haven't been riding. 

After her trim I started grooming and pulled out her saddle. This mare, you guys. She's generally happy that I show up to the barn, I usually get greeted very vocally, which is a mood boost every time. She also has VERY good cross tie manners. I pulled the saddle out for her and she started dancing in the cross ties. She knew, y'all. Then I realized I tacked up too early and had a half hour before C showed up and we had to sit and wait.
I did, at least, get a picture of her wearing her saddle after the lesson. Much to Gwyn's (and my) chagrin, however, we started with a lesson in bridling manners. She's not bad per se, but she absolutely could be better, especially if my kids ever want to bridle or halter her independently. So to that end we worked on a head down cue. She thought that was bullshit because we bridled her three or four times. 

Homework #1: Asking for that head down and turned to me for bridling and general handling.
She also physically deflated when I ran the long lines through my stirrups to start. Mare is bored with long lining. I don't blame her. But we did get some good work on the long line. The goal is to get her reaching her neck down, but head no lower than withers. Her trot starts to get really floaty when she's working with her body well.

Homework #2: Thinking about the footfalls and really asking that her inside hind be stepping underneath her body on the circle. Always thinking about that nose and keeping her from looking to the outside of the circle.
Sunflowers on my way home
Finally, I got on for my 15 minutes. Again we were focused on controlling where her hind feet were landing which ended up getting her head down and stretching with a lifted back. Slow and steady here. Impulsion is good but she really wanted to offer trot with me. Sorry mare, vet said not yet.

Homework #3: Leg cue with my calf, not heel, I found if I thought whole leg I did better. Wide hands to create a funnel for her but careful not to overbend to the inside when working to the left. 
I came home and reorganized part of the garage and hung hooks so I could store horse blankets

My brain is in such a happy place right now. I got to get on my horse again. My heart is so happy.

Friday, September 2, 2022

August Vet Recheck

My lessons have been mainly working on long lining with Gwyn and really honing in on tools that will be able to translate to under saddle work eventually. 
She tries really hard but I do think that she's getting bored with the long lining. We did do the circle of death in the lesson, on long lines, which was REALLY hard! 
Most of this media is with Trainer C. She has better feel for things but I'm learning loads. And she's really praised me for how well I've gotten Gwyn working on long lines. 

I had a bit of a snafu this week though because I was supposed to have the Vet and Trimmer out at the same time so they could confer and make sure everything is copacetic biomechanically for Gwyn. But the day I had in my books got close and my trimmer pushed me to the afternoon, which I couldn't do because I had on site meetings for work. No worries though, I thought, the vet will be out. So I head to the barn and set up my cell phone as a mobile hotspot so I can attend the 2 hour block of meetings I had in the morning. Vet doesn't show, I call the clinic and they had me down for the NEXT DAY.
So I repeated the process the next day, but at least each time I got to start my day at the barn. 
OH NO. Horse snot across my arm and on my work shirt. How terrible. 
That's okay, we still took cute pictures while waiting for the vet. 

I trotted Gwyn for the vet, who was only slightly delayed thanks to a diaper blow out, which I fully sympathize with considering my car was the site of car sickness over the weekend. Ah. Parenting. Vet was SO pleased with how Gwyn looked. We are sitting right around 3 months after injection with PRP which is when you start seeing more improvement. 

We're now cleared for 15 minutes of tack walking, where she wants Gwyn really stretched and low and heavy in the bridle to help build up her topline. She asked about nutrition and recommended we add in a touch of protein to what I currently feed so now Gwyn is getting just a fractional flake of alfalfa and I'm sure is ecstatic. 

I'm thrilled I can get back on my horse, even if only for a little bit. Now comes the slow topline slog, but at least I can do some of it with a between the ears view!