Blogging Bob: Indoors.

This week’s (last week’s) Bob lesson took place inside due to super high wind. After a day spent a fair hill and a couple hours spent contemplating cancelling, I reluctantly showed up to ride after a hasty nebulizer treatment. Because, it’s a perfectly good idea to go ride when you are completely exhausted and unable to breathe, right? (after quickly cleaning stalls)

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Hermione met her long lost cousin this weekend.

So, I decided to ride mostly because I ended up running out of time and never cancelled.

Due to rain the night before, Bob didn’t get out (while I turn out in all weather, this barn does not). So, when I got on, he was a little gimpy and we spent about 10 minutes or so working out of it. We rode inside due to the high winds (up to 40 mph gusts…).

Eventually Bob was feeling mostly normally and we warmed up at the canter over 2 poles on the quarter line, alternating between  6 strides and 7 strides. This was also when I learned that lead changes are no longer optional. So, the one time we landed wrong when I didn’t quite collect enough for the 7 (and we fit it in but barely), and Bob also decided changes were optional, we continued cantering until I asked properly and he responded in kind. I learned my lesson, he…didn’t.

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Cornelia Dorr and Brush Dance

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Our exercise we started off with was basically a figure 8 over our 2 inside singles, a nice and easy inviting vertical with flowers and a tiny swedish oxer. While I spooked at the oxer, it rode fine but someone did NOT like getting his change after it… Theme of the night. We got it, reluctantly (left to right). The next couple of times it was a bit smoother. Then he had a temper tantrum about it the last time…

Next (by this point my legs were DEAD and I was ready to be done) we worked on the outside line. Bob was also finished here. So, first time through, I had to kick for the canter, circle (he them was convinced we going to the inside swedish oxer), the approach the line with almost zero pace. I guess I gave me trainer a heart attach as we came in with less than no canter, but I kept squeezing and Bob carried me over, continued cantering, carried me over the out (with the add), and we both died on the landing until I was made to keep cantering until I asked for the change… MEAN… We got in down the long side.

Finally we put everything together. So, upon getting a REAL canter, we actually cantered the outside line WITHOUT the add or the heart attack, then came over the oxer (the opposite way around to the vertical. We called it a day there. Bob was tired. I was tired.

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So tired, so sweaty!

This all ended with a threat that it’s time to start jumping bigger fences. Crap.

Recapping Ranger. I’m a mental mess.

I’ve been avoiding posting about my lessons for the last few weeks. First because I didn’t have a lesson for about 3 weeks and then I had a really crappy lesson. So crappy that I managed to fit an extra lesson in over the weekend that sorta made me feel better but not really. This past week was better. Still, I find myself struggling to recap.

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Exciting news! the barn now has ELECTRICITY! 

Thursday nights have turned into groups with the “big kids.” Aka the teenagers and their horses/division large ponies who have no fear. As a result, at this point, they all ride way more often than me. When I’m on, I don’t find this intimidating, but sometimes? Yeah. We also all seem to get on whenever so if they start at 6, I start at 6:30, it all merges in to who knows what… Lol.

 

The other week, I just couldn’t find a rhythm to my canter. It wasn’t there. It was fine when the jumps were small, but when raised, I basically rode a saint into the a nothing spot. And, to make matters worse, I spent the entire start of the lesson, jumping the same fence over and over again until I could get it right. 15 attempts later, I finally succeeded in not failing. That’s how low the bar was… And I could NOT let it go.

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Gorgeous sunset one evening

So, come Sunday, I thankfully had a private. The jumps stayed low, and while I didn’t ride much better, there was a little less failing. As a result, I dwelled less on said failures. *yes, my attitude needs work*

We started off on a circle, jumping the four single fences — Outside single, the end stone wall w/o standards, quarter line skinny, and end gate. Goal of the exercise was to work on turning in the air, maintaining a rhythm, and keeping a consistent pace and we continued around several times. My goal? Survival. (expectations=low) (secondary goal? not to die). It actually went pretty well and the second time around actually looked nice. Other lead, rinse, repeat.

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Not Ranger but… 

The issue however was, as we moved on, finding the right canter for the remainder of our course work… The previous exercise required collection, the rest of our coursework, not so much. So, after a few fails, I finally got the correct forward canter and stopped riding to crap…

This past week? Back to our group lesson. Instead of the 4 fence exercise we did on Sunday, we took out the skinny and used the remaining 3 with rollbacks/turns. So, left lead to outside single turning in air to end jump (stone w/o standards) turning RIGHT back to outside single on RIGHT LEAD turning in air to other end jump turning left back to outside single on LEFT LEAD repeat. Like always, first time through was about survival and not dying, but the second time was actually pretty nice.

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Also not Ranger

From here, our course work consisted of large SKARY fences because, big kids.

So, right lead to outside single, inside single, inside line (repeat inside single, inside line). Focus here was finding pace, keeping pace, and MAINTAINING FORWARD but not galloping. While we got through it initially and it wasn’t bad, I had to make sure to 1. KICK Ranger to make sure I actually had the forward installed (lol) and 2. really squeeze at the base of the fence to remind Ranger to actually jump not just up but over as well… He was sort of kind of going up and straight down vs across…

In the end, we did get there. But, I’m just feeling SO RUSTY. I need to ride more and I want to but life. And then I just feel down and frustrated and hard on myself. And riding with fearless kids just makes me feel incompetent… It’s funny, I’m not a perfectionist, but I expect that I don’t make the same mistake over and over again. And lately, I just can’t stop making mistakes. It’s been rough.

As a result? Blogging hasn’t happened. If I wrote this blog 2 weeks ago I’d have written how much I suck. So this is progress? lol.

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So many belts in progress. 

Ranger Recap: Angry horse and Brain=FRIED

3 posts in one week? WHAT?

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Batt doesn’t take very good selfies…

First off, thanks to everyone for your support for Batt. He’s doing OK though I heard him cough this morning… Ugh. I’m going to need more ventipulmin soon so I have a call into the vet for it. Hopefully I can get a refill today so I have an extra bottle in hand vs risking an emergency vet call this weekend (I shouldn’t need it until Tuesday, but I don’t want to risk it).

My lesson last night was…interesting.

We did a lot of work on the flat, really trying to get a nice, round, uphill trot that encouraged Ranger to use his hind end like he does at the canter. I started off throwing away the reins so that didn’t exactly help… We did get there in the end.

Then at the canter, where last week I had too much input, this week, I tried to correct

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Subi’s selfie game is MUCH stronger

that and didn’t give enough. Ugh. I can’t win!!! So, I did try to change that and ride providing a little more input and use more hand. Seriously. I can’t win! We also introduced more circles, riding a large circle into a small 10m circle at the canter which actually worked once I had the right amount of control and use of my outside leg…

Next? The most god awful exercise ever. Well, almost ever.

Basically it was 3 bounces. Flowers (2 ft skinny flower box) — large crossrail — flowers (again 2 ft skinny flower box) on a diagonal. HARDEST. MOST IMPOSSIBLE. EXERCISE. EVER.

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These boys like to go inside the second the weather is less than ideal.

We struggle with this evil thing forever as I fought to use enough right leg and both hands to keep Ranger straight. It took us about 10 attempts before we made it through the first 2 parts (we did manage to walk over the first 2 parts a couple of times too) but then still failed the out another million and a half times and Ranger was PISSED. I could tell you the point of all of this but I had such an ANGRY HORSE who I managed to try and keep from bolting and dragging, but… after we got a guide pole next to the out, we did get over it, but… he was ANGRY. And we almost bolted a few times…

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Acting innocent… And begging for peppermints.

From here we ended with a figure 8 over an inside single around to an our inside broken line (we went around about 5 times). The first time, my canter was too slow and while the distance was nice to jump 1, everything fell apart to the line and we got slower and uglier and angrier. I tried to get more pace to the first fence and I did, but the distance wasn’t quite as nice and I still screwed up the in of the line and the rest of it wasn’t much better. Continuing around, the single got better and I stopped thinking about the last exercise, but we took a flyer to the in before surviving the out… Finally we put it together for the last 2 times through and had the pace, which allowed me to focus on the turns which allowed the distances to be there.

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Ranger says, “see ya!” and Coco stays to see if I have more treats…

The humidity was awful and we ended at that point. It probably took about 4 repetitions before Ranger let his anger over the previous exercise go and actually started listening… If it hadn’t been so hot, I’d had cantered him around a few times just to get his focus back on me, but… Oh well.

It was just one of those days. Angry Horse days.

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Photo wall at work

 

Ranger Recap: Through the storm

I rode. 2 weeks in a row. What is this witchcraft?

That said, riding was probably NOT the smartest idea. Wednesday night I was nearly knocked unconscious by my idiot chestnut. It was a perfect storm. Bugs. Darkness rolling in. And a stick up his butt. He reared and came down on my head (with his head, but whatever). 5 days later, I still have a sore spot. But, no concussion symptoms yet. But I’m a 7-10 day person so…

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So exhausted (pre-lesson), lol

And Thursday, the weather people were calling for storms. But, it was looking OK. Sun. So I rolled out, humidity and all, tacked up, and hopped on. The previous lesson was running over (as usual) though it was no where near as crowded as before. We got our trotting in. And eventually some cantering. I was doing a decent job riding his back legs, but it took me a few strides to find the balance between riding with too much hand and trusting that he’d stay where I wanted him.

See, I’m probably the only person who asks this of him so…

By the second direction? We found the balance. Ask in the beginning. Lift in the corners. Ask him to lengthen and support himself down the sides. And let go. It was just there. And then our halt? Just there. He was under himself. It was perfect.

So we hung out for a few minutes while the clouds rolled in and the other horses finished jumping. My trainer asked if I minded a little rain… Nope, what’s a little rain? As long as there’s no lightning?

So funny.

We made it into the indoor just in time.

The skies opened up like I’ve never seen before.

Through the deluge, we started in a circle over a cross rail, just keeping him on his hind end, and jumping out of stride. Holy crap. I cannot even explain how much easier everything is when he’s cantering properly like that. Long stride, short stride, IT DOES NOT MATTER.

Next we worked on the long ride down the inside single around to the short ride to the other inside single. I typically have struggled with the first inside single because coming around the corner, Ranger gets strong, drops and drags and in the past, it’s so hard so keep him in check. I can get the stride and the jump, but not out of the canter I want.

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Did I mention this was going on during my lesson????

This lesson? I picked up my canter at the far side and balanced him, making sure out canter was coming from behind. The first time we turned that corner, I felt him try to drop but because he was cantering from behind, I just tugged up and steadied and bam. Everything was there. Single best fence ever (until the next time). I didn’t keep enough leg coming out so we hit a longer spot and, because he was cantering from his hind end, it was all good. But, a touch more energy would have made it nicer.

Taking it all again, brought us to our NICEST JUMP EVER. Through a monsoon. Because, the indoor windows were open and we were riding past a beach wave? So, soaked we both were. Despite being inside. Lol.

But, this time, less fight and more response. And, I was able to add leg for the second fence and it took out the awkward massive spot.

What I notice here, was that if he’s canter from behind, using his hind end, it is SO MUCH HARDER for him to drop and drag. It’s a multi-step process. But if I can keep him here? He’s a different horse. And it’s so much harder for him to drag, get behind the leg, and all that.

Anyway, we ended with our outside line in a 6. Working on our canter coming in–energy–past the in gate and continuing to more forward. Jumps were just there that night and I was able to keep Ranger cantering correctly the entire evening.

Now if we could always ride like that…

Ranger Recap: flat work.

My lesson this past week moved to Sunday and unintentionally turned into a flat work lesson. This isn’t actually a bad thing, but I convinced my husband to come, watch, and video over fences and we don’t jump. Of course. Seriously? Lol.

We also ended up inside due to an unexpected rain storm…

The extra flat work came about because Ranger was completely ignoring my inside (left) leg. Part of the issue is he’s ridden by mostly kids who he packs around and gets no instruction from. As a result, he doesn’t have to do anything. So, if he isn’t straight? Who cares. If his nose is turned out to the outside of the ring? It’s fine because he’s not really running off with the beginners. And, riding in the evenings, I’m also getting my trainer at the end of the day and we’re not working as hard on the technical “stuff” either.

So, yesterday morning when he was completely blowing off my leg? We got down to business. Part of this is partly unfair when he’s never asked to do this stuff, but he’s also not being asked by anyone else anything else that he’s ignoring so… He also has training in this so he does KNOW how to properly carry himself, but won’t do it if he’s not made to.

We basically spent 20 minutes trotting around working on a slow trot adding inside leg and informing Ranger that when I add ONE leg, the correct response is to move over NOT to speed up. It took a LONG time (hence 20 minutes of circles and bending) but we got there. It took actual kicks but eventually we got there.

Then we did the same thing at the canter, working at an upright canter, coming from his hind end vs long and low from his front end. Some point my husband must have realized this “boring” lesson (I was enjoying myself) should be recorded so he started videoing the canter stuff. I struggled some here but we got it at parts. I was struggling with the shortness of the reins and holding him up to get him on his hind end.

Also struggled with body position and tilting forward…

Adding in a pole and struggling with new way of riding…

Finally we added in a single fence, jumping it both ways (my husband however failed to record 3 of the 4 attempts… why, I don’t know… I can’t take him anywhere!). Coming up it, the first time, around the corner at the far end of the ring, Ranger wanted to duck, run, and get heavy. While I was able to get him back into a nicer canter, I lost all steering coming up the short turn to our fence and it just wasn’t the prettiest (I kind of failed to collect him (the point of the exercise) or look at the jump. At least we made it over. Second attempt was good though the duck, drop, and run at the beginning still existed.

For the long ride, first fence was nice in terms of the jump except I failed to actually do the exercise and shorten his stride and get him on his hind end… Oops. Next attempt? See video for disaster?

The problem was, I added hand, there was NOTHING there. Nothing was coming from his hind end at all. I added leg, and the only power I could get was up front. We called it a day as he was pretty much just spent at that point and had nothing left. The rain stopped and he and I went on a short walk before my husband fed him all the cookies.

I’m off to conferences starting tomorrow so we’ll see if I get any updates for the next week or so…

Ranger Recap: no rest for the weary.

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Yesterday I dragged myself out to the barn for a lesson on Ranger. By dragged, I should probably say, swam. I swam out to the barn for a lesson on Ranger.

Thank you weather gods! I KNEW I was missing something in my life. RAIN! After all, it had been 3 ENTIRE days since our last round of monsoons so we certainly need more monsoons. By the time I made it from my car to the barn, I was wet, my hair was wet, and my saddle was wet. It’s not THAT far of a walk either…

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Not innocent… Mooching for treats.

We started off with what I thought was going to be a quick and easy warm up. A little bit of trotting, a couple of circles, etc. All WAS going well until I heard the dreaded words, “drop your irons.” OMG. I seriously avoid no stirrups. I do not participate in No Stirrups anything. And, in the 2+ years of riding with my trainer, I don’t think she’s actually asked me to drop my stirrups. Thankfully we started at a sitting trot (which is easier) but then I was to continue around posting. Damn. Of course, then I was told I was trotting too slowly. BUT BUT BUT. See, the slower I trot, the easier it is without stirrups. Counter argument from trainer: the faster you trot, the quicker you can have your stirrups back. In my defense, I kept my argument in my head. I compromised and trotting a tiny bit faster, but I didn’t want to lose my position. Unfortunately, we did the same the opposite direction, minus the sit trot. Evil. Positive? My position is evidently good. [I am NOT sharing that past trainers have told me I have a better position without stirrups…besides, this is no longer the case. I ride Batty without stirrups, but I haven’t been riding him and he’s a couch.]

Next we changed up our canter work a bit. Basically, normal canter around the ring with a large circle thrown in but each direction with ended with a hand gallop up the final long side ending in a half. This was actually A LOT of fun. Ranger was quite easy to get going (and pretty easy to halt), but more than that, the quick gallop really helped us out over fences later.

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This nose!

We warmed up on a circle over the second jump in our outside line (basically, we were jumping the in of the outside line off the right lead backwards). Our first and third circle were fine but I forgot to ride the second and had a crappy stop, but oh well?

Next we did the outside line in a forward 7. Thanks to the hand gallop, we were successful in one.

After our warm up fences, BFF Mikey left the ring and POWER Ranger (pun maybe intended?) came out to play. We started off with our inside single which we ran out of 2 or 3 times until I finally managed to steer with both hands AND my right leg to and then continued around to the inside line in 6. Whereas last week we had trouble with the in of the line, this week, we did not. I did have to hold a bit for the 6 (it should be a going 6, but honestly, if I added a tiny bit more leg, Ranger would be doing the 5 with the big horses… LOL). We continued back around to repeat the combo twice more before heading from the inside single to the outside single (towards the in gate) around to the outside line in the 7 then BACK to the inside line to the outside single away from in gate (we almost crashed into a dog) so we cantered around and did that again and then again did the weird random jump that’s sort of at the middle top of the ring (light blue in the graphic) around to the inside line ON. LAST. TIME. where we perfected our 6. We ended there.

 

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Tucked in for the night!

OMG. I’m pretty sure we jumped about 20+ jumps straight. I lost track. But we just got better and better and better. Made a mistake here and there, but we found a rhythm and went with it. Ranger was in front of my leg and forward and adjustable. And best of all? He was having a blast!

I can tell my endurance is getting better, but the best thing about jumping like this? I don’t have TIME to get stuck in my head. It’s too rapid fire. Just wait for next instruction and keep going. So strange, but sort of crazy fun.

And Ranger? He’s the best.

Ranger Recap: SO MUCH ENERGY

So I never recapped last week’s lesson and I’ll be honest, I can’t remember a lot… Oops. I meant to? And then life got in the way. If this BARN thing ever happens, I will write a series of blog post detailing EVERY. SINGLE. CRAZY. ISSUE. THAT. POSSIBLE. COULD. HAPPEN. DURING. THE. PROCESS. But, I’m not doing that until stuff happens because the last thing I need is more of a jinx. AHHH! (thank you michele for talking me off a ledge on a daily basis since thanksgiving)

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More muffins!

So Ranger was once again WINTER Ranger though it was comparatively warm. I learned last week that he’s not getting ridden much. I’m not sure WHAT that means. I know I’m riding him and I know his favorite little 8 year old kid is riding him. I don’t know who else. But, I’m wondering if I’ll get to pick up some extra rides throughout the winter? You never know…

Anyway, he’s regularly lazy and pokey and SO HARD TO BEND while flatting at the trot. We’ve been integrating a little more changes of direction into our warm up routine which does help, plus I’m getting a bit more aggressive–if I’m digging my heel into his stomach and he’s still not moving off my inside leg, he does get a small kick. Usually that helps. Oh Ranger. Things would be easier if you would listen… Thankfully we do bend better at the canter and fight less (with or without warm up).

We’ve been testing my lungs lately (not great for my asthma, but good for my endurance?) and right out of our canter, started over fences, integrating our outside single off the right lead a couple times. Then, changing directions, we hit that the other direction continuing around to the outside line, attempting (and failing) to do the line in a 7 (we were a little pokey and did an 8). On re-approach, I actually added leg coming in and the 7 was there. For some reason, inside I have a harder time judging speed and stride length. I can find my distances, that’s not the issue, but I can’t judge the length of stride?

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I’ll do anything for this face!

After finally allowing me to catch my breath, we started around over the inside single/Swedish oxer to inside line (going 6 which turned out to be a HOLDING 6)… So we started out with ducking to the right of the single where Ranger laughed at me but on redirect I somehow remembered how to ride (I might have been taking it too wide?) and then screwed up the next line. See, I landed in too quiet of a canter and was told I would never make the 6 with my canter. So I added leg. And then I turned (I think too early because I had to make the same mistake as last week…) and Ranger decided to grab the bit and try and bolt. So, once we were actually heading over the our jumps, I was basically doing everything in my power to add for the 6 while Ranger was trying to convince me to let him take a flyer and do a 5.  We added back in the outside line in the 7 and continued back to the inside line a few times. Then after the inside line which was never lovely, but successful-ish? we landed from our semi-6 and continued to the outside single (away from the in gate (so, slower) and then around to the inside single/Swedish oxer (other direction – sort of towards the in gate) trying not to let Ranger take off… We finished attempting to pretty up the last 2 fences and did so as well as possible (our last swedish oxer was actually nice).

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Cat wars continue at my house. Biscuit kicked off out the top shelf and downgraded by Lasagna to “steerage” 

It was a different lesson. It was probably the first time in a long time that I did all my over fences work in a concentrated time. Usually its a few fences and then break. This time it was just keep jumping. OMG. I felt OK, but my lungs did start arguing a bit, but nothing like a few weeks ago. My endurance is definitely getting better. But, I can tell Ranger is not working that much as he’s certainly opinionated. Lol. It’s fun though! Much better than summer Ranger where I can get a little too passive. I like having to be on my toes.

Ranger enjoyed Subi’s pumpkin molasses muffins in celebration/payment of hard work.

Ranger Recap: better late than never?

Considering I’m scheduled to ride tonight, I might as well get around to recapping last week’s lesson… A week later, I’m going to simply try and highlight the basics. I was trying to follow the philosophy of jump the first thing I see. It seems to work for me and my eye…

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Riding with leg AND hand: We started off with a skinny (wth is with all of these skinny fences lately?) in the center of the ring) parallel to the long sides of the arena. So, first a longer approach from the left lead (it was closer to one wall of the indoor than the other) than from the right lead. On the left lead it was easy as I’m just more comfortable on the left lead some days. To the right, steering to the base wasn’t the issue, but it took several attempts before I was able to canter out with the same canter as I approached with. Partially, I was terrified that we’d duck out, but mostly I was lazy in my approach and didn’t actually ride to the base and OVER the fence. Once I added leg and rode, it was fine. But, for some reason, I just faced a bit of insecurity and was riding with more hand than leg. Skinnies do that. But, I had Ranger off his front end so I really just needed leg… I eventually learned.

Do things right the first time/I love winter Ranger: Winter Ranger is in front of my leg and I LOVE IT! He’s forward and responsive. We started the next exercise which was the Swedish oxer (next to our skinny) on the right lead and then were to do the inside line in a 7. Oxer was fine, the inside line we did in a VERY long 6. I mostly just landed from the in and let him go. It was fine, but I probably could have helped for a nice 6. We redid that and the 6 was lovely. No point on collecting for a pony 7.

Plan ahead: Next we did this 3 jump course/bending line. Basically, outside single followed by the inside single boxes bending line to the double Xs. It’s hard to explain without media, but there was a small window to turn before you’d miss your chance to get to the jump. When you jumped the single, you’re pretty much facing the outside rail of the ring so you need to plan to turn in the space between the outside single and the Swedish oxer/skinny jump… But, for whatever reason, I could steer and Ranger jumped the snot out of all 3 fences.

Listen and STEER CORRECTLY: We finished up, or tried to, but doing the same 3 fences in the opposite direction. So, outside single heading away from the in gate, double Xs bending to the boxes. I jumped the single perfectly 3 times, but kept screwing up my approach to the double Xs. The first time Ranger noped out when I cut the corner. Then, misunderstanding what my trainer was telling me (turned too soon–>I interpreted as turn sooner), I made worse, and then even worse, until she changed her wording to stay out longer… By the 4 attempt, we stopped doing the outside single because trainer decided I didn’t need to keep jumping that one and couldn’t do it better (seriously). Once I stayed out, I actually saw the straight line (::head –>desk::) and the jump was easy and then Ranger overachieved, REALLY jumping the snot out of the last fence. I swear it took days for my back to feel normal.

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Regardless, Ranger is a saint. And, winter Ranger is SO MUCH FUN (yay for being in front of my leg!!!). Even if he hates to bend. But, I didn’t feel like focusing on out bending issues this post.

Ranger Recap: Finding the stride

I’ve really been terrible about blogging lately. Honestly, life sort of been a mess and I haven’t wanted to put everything out here until at least some of it is resolved. Honestly, each time I think some aspects of my life hit rock bottom, things get worse. So, there’s that.

 

But, having said all of that, I have 2 rainy lessons to recap.

2 weeks ago, in the cold, pouring rain, we rode inside. Ranger was UP. This lesson was all about bending, looking ahead, and riding the stride I had, staying consistent.

We started off at the top of the ring (away from the in gate) on a left lead canter basically cantering over this inside single on a circle several times. After that, we continued from the inside single, brought him back to the trot trotted the center vertical heading towards the in gate at the very top of the ring (jump 2 in the very bad illustration) landing, turning towards back towards the out of the bending line (jump 3). We did this several times, finally stringing it together as a continuous pattern. The time the only struggle was the trot fence, Ranger was convinced I wanted a simple change, so I had to fight more than I wanted. The second time, I had a more collected trot than I’d have liked, the third time, we were both on the same page and he understood that letting go did not mean canter (sometimes he getting a little lesson horse programmed). And, having more go than woah…

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Not drawn the scale…

Next (there may have been other jumps in between… I don’t remember), it was about lengthening vs turning in the air. Using the same first jump, this time from the other direction, everything this time was about the ride and trusting my eye. Short ride to jump 1 (A), then around to the outside line going by the in gate (ugh) in a going 6. The line was perfect. Then, around to a long ride to long ride to jump 4 (D). Heading to the last fence, a large, wide oxer, once again, I saw the spot turn the corner and decide just to go for it. About halfway towards it, Ranger started to get heavy. Trusting my eye, instead of pulling, I re-balanced him, added leg, and we were able to hit the forward spot. 2 weeks ago, I’m sure I would have messed with it or done nothing but maybe I’m learning to trust what I see? Either way, it was perfect and we ended there. The out of the line was 2’9 which for inside is huge for me and it looked tiny and felt tiny. I guess that’s good? When I’m told heights by my trainer and I don’t believer her… lol. I could have done more, but sometimes you just want to end with perfect.

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This past week it was raining. Again. But, we rode outside and the rain eventually stopped. Unlike the week before, I had to work to get Ranger in front of my leg on the flat.

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This rain is getting old…

We warmed up with a circle exercise both directions consisting of 4 fences on a circle: poles, 2 boxes, and a cross rail and jumped them several times each direction worked on maintaining a slow, collected stride and working on riding each fence on that going but  collected stride. It was easy because it’s Ranger and thankfully I struggled on the flat and by the time we started jumping, he was already there.

Next we did this crazy roll back exercise. Basically doing a figure eight. Ranger’s OMG BEST FRIEND Mikey left the ring so he was devastated so life was even harder (and Forrest started calling to him too…). Basically, we cantered up over the quarter line single turning in the air to the out of the outside line (3 strides) then turning back to jump the quarter line the other direction to the other jump in the outside line (3 strides). We did this several times. See illustration below but keep in mind I was also dodging other jumps. Goal: looking ahead, turning in air, remaining forward to hit the 3 stride.

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Sort of illustrates the figure eight exercise?

Finally, we ended with the following: outside single, to the inside cross rail (these were the first 2 jumps of the circle exercise) around to the large inside oxer. The trick of this exercise was to ride the appropriate stride depending on which part of the exercise you were on. The first part of the exercise required required a quiet canter, keeping Ranger in front of my leg. We really collected on the landing for the tight turn turn to the tiny cross rail (barely a pole ~12″) and then we had to land and move up immediately to find the right canter for the next fence so that once we were straight I wasn’t fussing with my canter. Thankfully because he was in front of my leg, he was there immediately and we were able to get the forward spot. We continued around to the outside line in 5 (?) and called it a night. I don’t remember the last time where I had 2 lessons in a row and didn’t miss one spot.

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Just hanging out with this guy is the best!

Ranger Recap: the lesson that almost didn’t happen

For reasons that I don’t feel like going into (other than saying, I HATE TRUCKS), I almost cancelled my lesson this week. But, for my sanity, thankfully, I didn’t.

For the first time in the longest time, I did not get to tack up. So the entire ride was sort of weird??? I showed up and started getting my stuff together when my trainer walks in and grabs Ranger and informs me that she’ll tack up while I get my boots on. Turns out the previous lesson no showed (or more likely cancelled the week before and no one remembered) and since I was there, she’d tack up for me while I got ready. Ok then. I sort of relish my time tacking up, but… not going to upset the apple cart. img_7981

Thankfully once I was on, I could take my time to breathe before we actually started working and trotting. So I took a few minutes to breathe and stretch before we got to work. That said, I was still carrying and insane amount of tension throughout all of my trot work. Still, I felt like I’m really getting somewhere with bending and Ranger is realizing that I am going to make him and it’s just easier to listen. Part of the issue is I’m one of the only ones who make him bend so… to the left we drilled sitting trot which is TERRIBLE when you are carrying tension. And I’ve had on and off back issues and probably need an mri… OMG. To the right, more of the same, less the sit trot, but two point instead. That said, I don’t think I’ve done 2 point in a lesson around the ring in a while… BUT, my 2 point was impressive so??? Yay?  After that, we walked while Ranger took a few minutes to breathe (humid as hell). I vented. Then it was time to canter. Venting for 5 minutes made me feel SO MUCH BETTER! Tension… GONE. Of course, supposedly I transferred all of it to my trainer, but whatever. Sorry. Nothing exciting about the canter work this week.

Over fences:

We started off cantering over the inside line of 2 TINY crossrails. The goal was to do it first in a super slow 8 strides, trot across the center of the ring, canter it in 7, trot across, canter it again in 8. Basically, exercise in stride length and adjustability.

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Unlike some people, I LOVE this exercise. We succeeded the first 2 times through without any issues. The 3rd time I didn’t use quite enough right leg and we had a bit of right drift and tripped at the crossrail and lost our trot for a stride but, in theory, would have had the 8 had we cantered. So we did it again just to be sure. T

Next we cantered around and did the other inside line. So, the line that has the green tree standards. First time through in a 6, then in a collecting 7. First time through, I had the pace, but remembering the last time I did this line, I cut me corner to prevent left drift which actually causes left drift (I never said I was smart). So, I never had a straight line to the second fence. As a result, I had land and add leg to get there in 6. We did it easily, but it was more work than necessary. So, instead of collecting, we did that again. Second time through, I stayed out until I could see the straight line, made the crisp turn, and what do you know? It was easy. Then we trotted through the center, collected (super easy by the gate) and did the 7, trotted through the center, added leg, and sent Ranger forward and did the 6. This time, when landing, we continued around to the outside single white oxer. Except, instead of steadying my pace, I didn’t see anything and tried to adjust. I forgot to just count 1-2, 1-2… and THEN look for something. But we got over. We did just the oxer by itself and it was easy because I remembered by that point how to ride…

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Green jump around to the oxer. I cut off the ring, but you get the idea… 

We let Ranger walk for a couple of minutes while I got my last instructions. Basically, the end single around the random stone pillar to the brown oxer (out of the inside line we were just jumping) turning right in the air. Ranger was dead at this point so my goal was do it in one so we could be done. Usually that means I’m stuck on his back jumping forever but this time? I was clear and confident. I could feel him getting sticky so I picked up my canter at the far end and just established my pace and he knew I meant business. It just worked? I remembered where I was going and actually rode, using my ring and staying back, but looking ahead and being forward. Interesting that I can do that sometimes…

We cooled out with a walk which had Ranger had fly spray (oops, missed in our rush out), Ranger probably would have enjoyed more. But, overall, a very much needed lesson.

The many stages of dead Ranger