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

Ranger Recap: Lacking motivation but Ranger cures all.

So I’m going to try and recap 2 lessons here, but I may end up splitting this into 2 posts if it gets long. I’ve just really lacked blogging motivation lately thanks to life. But I’ve had a couple of great lessons that I should really write about…

Alas on with the posting!

Flat work:

As usual, we did our normal warm up. Working trot/halting/circles/you name it. Unlike normal, I was able to really focus on getting Mr. Ranger to cooperate on bending through our circles because he’s a gem and thankfully decided that he’d listen to my inside leg.

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At the canter we reintroduced our changes which…were a struggle. First time left to right we completely missed as I just had too little canter and Ranger noped right out of it, second time through I got more canter so that crossing through the center, when I shifted and added outside leg, he gave me a clean change. Right to left was a lot harder. We completely failed the first time. Second time we got the front only and continued around to try and get the back. Trained told me to kick in the corner and I…didn’t. Third time, same thing. Front, not back, but in the corner I listen, kicked and got the back. Basically, I needed to get the forward momentum from the back end which I was completely lacking which the kick allowed me to get. I so rarely need to kick Ranger that I was just out of sorts completely.

Over fences:

We started off we 3 fences on a circle. A cross rail, and the 2 outside singles.

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Plain jane standard cross rail and the white and blue standards outside single and the white standard outside single (different heights, but same locations)

The goal of the exercise was to ride the jumps in a continuous circle. We did it to the left first 3-4 time, then to the right 2-3 times. Even though Ranger bends better to the left, he likes to land right. So, the left was harder initially, but eventually we fell into the right rhythm. The right was just easy from the start. Key? Don’t rush.

Next, we attacked the single inside jump that gave me so much trouble last week, cantering up and down it 2-3 times each direction. My trainer thought it was the height (even though both the other jumps in our course were 3′ and didn’t give me issues) but I knew it was my brain. She put it back up to 2’9″/3′ and had me canter back and forth. Unlike last week, I remember that I needed to just have a steady canter (I’m back to counting my 1-2, 1-2 canter rhythm when needed to stop interfering) and that even if I screwed up the spot, the canter would make it OK. And the jump was perfect each time… “Well, no issues with that jump today…”

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Last we ended with last week’s course. Cantering right lead over our outside single (blue and white standards). Then MOVING away from the gate towards the inside single that I had finally mastered, and continuing down (left lead) to the other outside single which was now an oxer. Not huge but 2’6″-2’9″.  With a steady pace and confidence, we had no issues and did this a few times before calling it a night. img_7975

 

And like all good rides, we took a nice long walk to cool out, enjoying rural Chester County and the last nice night before monsoon season… or endless rain and floods unlike anything I’ve ever seen….

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I’ll write about this week’s lesson in another post.

 

Ranger Recap: Simply the Bestest.

Don’t tell my boys, but Ranger is the best of the best.

It’s been a rough week work wise, but I dragged myself out to my lesson last night — a lesson that almost didn’t happen as my husband stopped me as I was pulling out of the driveway to ask if I could push my lesson back 15-30 minutes. As the last lesson of the night, no. I either go or cancel (thanks Jiminy for destroying the fence. Michele, you just MIGHT find him tied to your front door).

Thanks to the INSANE weather and the fact that I was running late, I pulled in, and discovered 2 things. 1. there were NO lights on in the indoor meaning we were RIDING OUTSIDE IN FEBRUARY thanks for the 58 degree temperature and 2. Ranger was a mudpit thanks to being turned out blanket/sheetless. Did I mention I was running late? So late in fact the previous lesson came back in before I finished tacking up and my trainer called to see if I was in the barn… Ooops. But, she said I wasn’t actually late…

Got mud?

After a brief foray into discussions about the state of the world (we tend to have these conversations whether or not we should is a different discussion, but I’m a willing participant so…), I started trotting. It was SO COMPLETELY AMAZING TO BE RIDING OUTSIDE I CAN’T EVEN DESCRIBE IT. There were wet spots, but the ring actually has amazing drainage. Ranger wasn’t as thrilled with the kids playing first on the swingset and then basketball, but we later had bigger issues with the cat jumping out at us… I’ll get to that. Nonetheless, he’s Ranger so whatever. We started with a bunch of trotting and circles and all that. With the extra space, it was so much easier to get him off his left shoulder and nothing felt as tight. I love having a FENCE and not walls!!!

There were 2 polls in the ring. 1 in the middle of the ring and 1 down by the in-gate. They are the blue lines in the terribly drawn course map below. After doing tight circles around random jumps to make sure Ranger was actually listen and off his shoulder (damn him and his leaning), we added in those polls, just working on steering straight and getting him to move his body over. And then the cat launched over the pole so we had to avoid him too. Finally, after adding in some halts and backs (damn horse hears trainer say halt and halts… So much for listening to me last night…) we got to canter.

Cantering is HARD you know? Holy crap. I really need to work on my trot-canter transitions as my walk-canter transitions are better. Right lead was actually OK. We cantered for a bit (serious, HOLY CRAP the amount of canter) and then circled, and then cantered over the damn pole in the middle of the ring. And that is when the stupid cat zig-zagged into the ring in front of us and I got distracted and we didn’t quite hold our canter because CAT. So canter picked up and do it again. And again. CAT zigged in front of us AGAIN and jumped the pole and we chipped the pole. I think the cat then jumped a jump and finally left the ring. AND WE WERE FREE! Then, on take 25, because we were still cantering (ok, it was only the 4th circle), we continued our canter and cantered onto the log jump which is the black line at the bottom of the horrific image below. So, circle the to the pole, canter pole, hold canter to log, keep canter because even though the log jump was perfect, the pole WASN’T and we must repeat. After 3 times, the pole was finally adequate and we got to trot… in order to change direction.

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Really bad course map. Top is by the gate, bottom is far end of the ring by the road. We did NOT jump the triple. Blue are poles. 

And pick up and left lead canter. And then, canter the damn pole. The damn pole was SO MUCH HARDER this way to get a lovely stride to it. With enough leg, I help the canter, but it was a chip. I had too much canter and needed to shorted, but, it was SO MUCH STRUGGLE to pick up the canter from the trot and it took me FOREVER to get the canter. So, once we did, I hesitated to woah at all… And, it turned out, I was to know that from the pole, I was to go to the log so the first time I missed that step. Oops. So repeat. Pole to log. Second time was an improvement though we needed a simple change because, Ranger. Third time was lovelier and finally, WALK!!

(somewhere during this left lead work, it started pouring which sent the kids inside and left me wet, but the rain did end even if I almost dropped my reins once and buffled up the canter…)

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Just a little shower…

After a VERY BRIEF walk, we started with the outside line, trotting in, cantering out in 5. So weird to trot in (though I did some of this when I rode a very angry Ranger Sunday in the indoor and he went from dead to insane when I made him work after his new friend left the indoor and it was pouring and he was ANGRY RANGER). He was lovely. We did this once or twice? Easy and slow. Right lead for those trying to follow along on my ugly graphic (and not the triple).

Then we cantered in left lead to the damn inside line (the pole was gone) — the only really inside line — attempting a going 6. The trick with this line is that we need to stay out close to the gate (which would be up at the top of the picture) before turning to first jump. We had the turn, but not quite the energy the first time. So we had 2 jumps were I stayed back and let Ranger save my butt (but better then jumping ahead). So, needless to say, we repeated. Second time was better, but it still wasn’t fabulous. My turn is actually great, but I just can’t nail the first jump. But, I stayed with the plan this time, landed moved him up, and got the 6 as planned.

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OMG he’s perfect. And sweaty.

Because the line went better, we moved on to a course (because I wasn’t already dead at that point). We started (right lead) cantering down the inside single, turning after the first jump of the outside line). The jump was beyond PERFECT and I was able to keep Ranger up off of his front end (he tried to get heavy, but came up right away with just a little ask from me). We landed, did a super quick simple change and kept the pace which was lovely. This was the missing link for the inside line. We rode the same path to the inside line (but I’m convince I cut the corner a tiny bit which made it easier–I tend to stay out too much even though this line you need to so maybe it was just more pace?) and nailed the first jump. Then we just balanced for the second jump, not needing to override like the time before. Because he was super balanced, we landed right and held our canter to continue to our outside line, cantering in to the 4. He tried to get heavy, though not strong. The first jump was met perfectly, I was able to woah just enough, and the 4 was there and light and no freight training occurred (it would have, but he was listening so well). It was one of the courses where the first words out of my mouth were “Don’t make me do that again!” — He was SO PERFECT!

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Perfection.

We ended cantering up to the big oxer in the inside/middle of the ring. He was good, I was a bit tentative. He took care of me. I should have been a bit more aggressive. The jump was fine. Just not my best. Oh well. We didn’t do it again, which was fine. I was tired, but part of me wishes I’d ridden it better. The spot was better, but I was more passive than I could have been. But, the spot was nice. I just wasn’t 100% confident.

Overall though, best lesson in a long time. I LOVE being outside and needed that so much. Ranger is the best.

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Just in case you were curious just how gross the weather has been lately… This was Ranger’s field on Sunday…