Wednesday, September 14, 2016

No poop

That could be the title of a post about colic. But this isn't about colic! This is about the little pony poops!

I've been trailering Princess Fancy Pants out for a once-a-week lesson at various places for the past six months or so. She's gone from not wanting to go on the trailer, to going on and rushing back out, to grudgingly going on but only with the help of a flag, to now going on with just a lead rope and some direction (although she still doesn't walk right on the first time). She no longer rushes out or gets nervous or fidgety.

And the past two times she's loaded up for lessons, she hasn't pooped! Now, that seems like a "so what?" kind of thing, but I see it as a sign that she's getting more comfortable with trailering and isn't anxious and doing a nervous poop. When we got to our lesson this morning, there was no poop in the trailer! She also has started eating hay while traveling, so I take that as a good sign too.

It is getting pretty chilly in the mornings here. I've taken the horses off the grass because there has been frost these past few mornings and that's a time when it isn't good to put them on the grass (low overnight temps, sunny warm days) so they are dry-lotted all the time now. Maybe that will last until spring. Our water is getting turned off in a few weeks and so I probably won't be putting them out anymore.

Pony has been so good in both her dressage and jumping lessons that I'm considering a little schooling show before year's end. Considering. It is, after all, very cold in the mornings, and getting up early to get ready for a show when there's frost on the ground isn't my idea of a good time.

We'll see.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

All the Fun Was Had!

Giddy about my two little jumping efforts on the pony, I decided I was ready for a lesson. My hip pain has reduced for the most part (although I do still suffer a little lower back pain after a ride depending on what I do) such that I can spend a lesson's-worth of time in the saddle. I got in touch with the person who helped me last year by teaching me to long-line, as I know she does h/j and I know her students really enjoy riding with her. This afternoon was our first lesson.

I had all the fun that there was to have!

Pony was perfect. Just perfect. The "green moments" that she had were no big deal and consisted of looking sideways at something outside of the arena and drifting right a couple times. A few times that I was trying to get the left lead we got the right lead and so trainer gave me a helpful hint and that seemed to sort out the issue. This trainer is good at picking apart my position, which is actually something I love, and giving me the right reminders at the right time of things to fix.

The lesson was perfectly progressive. A little work on the flat, incorporating poles, "jumping" a pile of poles, doing a little four-obstacle course that was like two big figure eights, doing a cross rail and then graduating to having the little course be four cross rails. It was just perfect, and I was so proud of my Princess Fancy Pants!

I haven't had a jumping lesson in years and this was So Much Fun!!!!! Pony didn't hesitate at any jumps, no jumps scared her, she just went happily over them and I think we both had a blast!

Maybe she'll be a little jumper pony! ;-) My goal will be to do some schooling shows next year - so yay, I have something to work toward!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The post-great-ride high

I just love my pony! She is coming along so quickly. I had to change her riding schedule this week so she got Monday off and I rode Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday I rode in my jumping saddle as I wanted to work on getting off her back and going really forward at the canter. I went back to something I learned from one of my trainers about riding corners and started off with that exercise at the walk (indoors). Then we went outside to the dressage arena. This was actually the first time I've ridden Pony in it since I put all the flowers around it. She was curious and not spooky about them. We worked on basic walk, trot, canter stuff, focusing on geometry of 20-meter circles and promptness of responses to aids. She was nice and forward and picked up the canter wonderfully and we got some actual 20-meter circles at the canter in both directions! Awesome!

I don't know if it is the saddle itself or my position or maybe I ride differently in my jumping saddle, but she seems to be most happy in that one because she canters mo' betta in it.

Anyway, after a light schooling of 20 minutes or so I gave her a loose rein and walked out of the arena and let her choose the path to walk on. She had a choice of probably five different forks of the path and chose the fork with the jump. So of course we had to jump it! I had set up another group of poles and standards to make a second jump. The poles were set as trot poles at the time so after landing from the first jump there's enough room to canter away, but then come back to a trot to go through the poles (or jump, when it is time). So we jumped the first jump and trotted the poles a couple times. Between each time we'd finish the trail loop on a loose rein at the walk. After the second time, I made the second pole into a cross rail and jumped that by itself. Then we went back and I put the two jumps together. Two trot poles to a cross rail (bigger one this time!); land and canter away. Come back to the trot, and go over the second jump which was another two trot poles to a cross rail. Land and canter away. She was so perfect that she got lots of good girls, lots of pats, a loose rein, and we finished on the trails and then walked back to the barn.

Yesterday we trailered out for a dressage lesson and she was so good! She was still a looky-loo in the beginning, but her steering was much better, circles were more uniform, straight lines were straighter, and she was moving forward into contact more consistently. Canter wasn't as good as it is at home, but it was better than in last week's lesson (when she threw in a little squeal and buck for good measure . . . you know, since her stallion friend was there watching). I got help with turning down center line, and for some reason she seems to think/know that going across the diagonal means extended trot! It is pretty cute and fun to ride. It just left me with a big happy smile on my face and happy thoughts for the rest of the day. :-)

I'm going to take her for our first jumping lesson this weekend - can't wait!