Friday, June 24, 2011


This is the updated version of the Blog, fresh off the presses. The decision to stop riding and stop showing this year was made before our Grand Haven Schooling Show Kerfuffle. I had hoped to begin and end our show season on a higher note, but it is what it was and helped me make some other decisions that were harder for me.

So....since then I haven't really been riding. I've only been riding once a week on Sunday's after I help Cindy feed in the morning. This decision was 100% financial in nature. Gas is outrageously expensive, I have stupid gas-guzzler of a truck and it takes me close to a 1/4 of a tank to go to the barn and back. I just couldn't swing it anymore. I have to say that each Sunday when I went out to ride Bastian was awesome. He never once felt like he was going to jump out of his skin or be a Dork-a-saurus and basically like any other 7 year old thoroughbred not being worked and on limited turnout might act. I didn't even have to lunge him first and a few times there were some x-rails left up in the arena and we popped over them like he was in regular work. *pat pat* he is such a good guy.

I was hoping to maybe find someone who was interested in leasing him over the summer so he could at least stay in shape, but that didn't pan out so I turned to my amazing parents and asked them if their grandson could come and live with them for the summer. The answer was yes. We have a cute little three stall barn and lots of lovely green pasture so other than being a Bachelor, Bastian is actually pretty happy. So on June 15th-ish my friend Samantha and I trailered him home and then spent the rest of the afternoon fixing the pasture fence. He'll be there until mid september. Then he'll be coming home to me and getting ready for our upcoming 2012 show year.

In other news, I am not entirely without equines in my life, which is a good thing because I think my students could attest that I was getting pretty crabby by the end of the school year. I am not a happy camper without my pony-time. Donna, who owns the fabulous Dutch Warmblood, (I hope I got the breed right....I can't keep all the warmbloods straight! LOL), Ferrymore Lane, aka Bugsy, is letting me ride her. Here we are during our 1/2 hour lesson today. Sorry for the blurry pic, I didn't have my camera set on the right settings!

Soooooo. Bugs is trained and has shown through 3rd level. Kristin, my instructor earned her Bronze medal riding her, then she took a year off and had the beautiful filly Rae Sangria (who is Bastian's little sister), followed by a bit of bad luck health wise and now she has finally gotten back into shape enough to be used by Kristin for some lessons. Let me just say that Bugs is GINORMOUS. I used to ride a lot of draft crosses and big horses when I was in college, I just have a thing for big horses, they are cool and they make me look normal sized. I'm not petite in any way, even when I am at my "scientifically ideal weight" I'm just a big girl, big boned, tall and not petite or graceful. So I look pretty good sitting on big horses like Bugs, she makes me look skinny! LOL

Her gaits are way different from Bastian (go figure!) and when I first asked her to trot I kinda just busted up laughing because it had so much suspension in it compared to what I was used to, I loved it! I think Kristin thought I was crazy. I didn't like her canter at first, but then once I got into the rhythm it was pretty cool, again it was just huge and throwing me all of the place. I am so excited to get to ride her and learn all the cool stuff that she has to teach me. She has all the tricks and training, but if you don't ask for it the way it is supposed to be done you ain't gonna get it.

She is strong, but when you ride her, she actually feels so light and fluffy, its fabulous. So I'll be sure to keep updating when I start learning how to do the cool stuff like walk piorettes, half passes, mediums, renvers, travers, etc. etc. I can't wait! I'm only riding once a week still (on Sunday's when I feed) but once a week is better than not riding at all.

Hopefully my summer will continue to be filled with lots of hours at JCP and finding a vehicle that gets more than 10 miles to the gallon so that when Bastian comes home in September and everyone else at the barn is kicking ass at Regionals, I'll be able to start getting him in shape for his stellar 2012 season, I've got some plans for him baby, oh do I have plans......

My Riding Funk

**This blog covers several days, I keep meaning to post it then get busy trying to upload some video so I forget, but I don't want to just forget about sorry for the length and jumping arounded-ness and I figured that since its been written and waiting to be posted that I would just post it and get it done with**
I let Bastian play a bit on Monday before I rode him so he could get out all his bucks and craziness. It worked because he was a G-E-M on Monday, we had an awesome ride.

So based on his running and bucking Bastian might actually be able to make it either on the rodeo circut (check out those bucks! and I challenge the cowboys to stay on with those) or maybe hold up his decent Thoroughbred breeding and be a racehorse.  Which I have considered.  What if I threw him in just one race just so that he could then be considered an off-the-track thoroughbred?  I mean all the awards at horse shows are for ott-ers.  Which sucks since he never raced, Regionals last year was the first show I had ever been too that just a regular Thorougbred high score award.  *sigh* 

So our ride on Monday was fabulous, I had some awesome Conrad-Mojo working and everything felt great.  I had to work on Tuesday so no riding for me.  Yesterday, I was tense.  Not entirely sure why, but I just could not relax and of course Bastian picked up on that and well neither one of us was feeling the love.  I started to get really fussy with my hands and Bastian and I just never synced.  I couldn't post, I couldn't sit and our canter transitions were downright ucky. 

We ended up riding for almost an hour because I was determined to work through it and do something right before I got off.  We finally got some nicer canter transitions so we stopped.  Today I had a 1/2 hour lesson and it started out pretty much the same as I ended last night.  Ucky.  Kristin explained that Bastian is being inconsistent in his poll, he just kinda bops it up and avoids actually working so I need to get him deeper in the poll (my words in case I'm not talking about the right thing...the horse word is so picky about terminology sometimes, lol).

I was having a heck of time getting it at the trot.  The canter was easier to get and feel.  Then we worked on halts.  Something that bugs the heck out of me.  The actual halt, not working on them.  The halt is wickedly complicated, much like the walk, but seems like it should be so easy.  I want 7s or 8s or higher on my halts and since there are two of them, it would be prudent to make them good.  Bastian aside from being a wiggle worm, never halts square.  So we worked on me doing an "up" half halt to keep his back and maybe, with some intelligence on B's part, he'll figure out that stop + kick kick = square.

All in all, our halts got better, our biggest problem is that he brings his poll up (there it is again!) and avoids the contact so that our halts are hollow.   So first we have to get nice round halts then we can really start focusing on the sqareness and straightness. I mean we usually get 6s on our halts, so if we can get this and change that to 8s, that is 4 more points per test and that is always a good thing.

So our lesson ended well and it felt better than my ride on Wednesday.  This funk I'm in is self-inflicted I'm sure.  It happens sometimes either because I let the outside world interfere with my riding or I have some great riding ideal that I feel I MUST uphold (This is all Conrads fault! lol...just kidding) and then I get frustrated when things don't go well.  I'm hoping I can get rid of this funk before the show in May.

I get to ride tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday, which is just weird because between work and the price of gas I am averaging about twice a week right now :(  So I'm hoping that tomorrow goes well, I'm going to work on being quiet with my hands, but keeping him in the "zone" and staying round though the halts.

So I intended to have posted this blog a few days ago with an adorable video of Bastian running and playing.  But due to my super cheapo internet and less than stellar connection, it would not load, I tried for three days.  So this video is of one of our leg yields.  Our leg yields are better then they were, I get it now at least, (lol) and I can almost always tell when our hind end is ahead and/or he's not straight enough.  Overall, I feel like we have had lots of improvement there. 

Still not a lot of improvement in the lengthening department visually (at least to me)  I feel like he is stretching through his topline and taking bigger strides, but when I watched the video (can't post it, its 4 minutes long :( )  it looks like nothing, I can't hardly see a change.  I feel like its happening though....

Today (Wednesday the 27) was an okay day, I lunged him first to get him warmed up and he looked great, no head fussing and nice big trot steps.  Not so much when we got to the riding part. :(  So I know that its me, because he only starts fussing with his head (inconsistent through the poll) when I'm up there.  My problem is that I haven't figured out how to fix it.  Do I hold tighter (he was super resistant today) or let up a bit?  I know of course the right answer is a little of both.  I think my problem is that I tighten the reins and get him where he needs to be but I don't release quick enough and so create our little problem.  I'm getting better at doing mini leg yields and keeping him between my legs, but I think I'm still bopping around too much overall. 

At the end of our ride I was schooling canter circles with change of lead through the trot and was trying really hard to have what I call "hunter hands" or hands that hover above the withers and never move, he seemed less fussy when I did this and so ignored his head and tried to ride entirely off of my seat for my transitions and steering and everything.  A) holy half halt to actually get him to trot from his canter! B) it kinda worked, he was kinda "on the bit" and just had his nose poked out a little, most of his up and down transitions were good.  So I'm still not happy with this head thing, and I don't know if now that I "know" about it I'm more aware and letting it bother me more or if this has really become a genuine problem/stag in his training.  I guess only time will tell.
It just bothers me because I feel like we have the chance to get good strong scores at the schooling show next week, but a judge will totally totally destroy me if he is that inconsistent about contact. 

And time did tell. Here is the video of our Dressage test. The only award we would have been up for was "best turned out pair" I had the SHINIEST horse there. We ended up with a 56% :( Super ultra sad face. The judge was harsh with everyone so she was at least consistent, but that did not make our score any less harder to stomach.

Okay, I can't get the video to upload here, so here is the link: