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… 

 

Ranger Recap: “I have to warn you, it hasn’t been a good day.”

Following abnormally warm weather, today was wet, cold, and miserable and a nice day to ride in the toasty indoor ring. Which was why we were enjoying the wet and windy weather in the puddle filled outdoor… (by the time my lesson started, we enjoyed all these things under the lights).

It’s never a good sign when I show up and am immediately warned by some of the other students that EVERYONE has fallen off today, including the trainer’s daughter who was bucked off by one of her ponies. Great. So I grabbed a mud covered grey and brown paint version of Ranger, worked on grooming, and contemplated my escape. Eventually he was clean and the rider in the lesson before came in and chanting, “I DIDN’T FALL OFF! I DID’T FALL OFF! I DIDN’T FALL OFF!” I’m pretty sure there were cheers… That can’t be a good sign. Her mom told me things were crazy out there and asked if she was sure I wanted to go out…. That made me wonder if NOT falling off was the success of the lesson, not the that the lesson was fabulous…

Anyway, I looked at Ranger, stuffed in his mouth, tossed on my helmet, put on his bridle, and headed out to see my fate…

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Just keep looking at that face…

A lunge lesson was finishing up and a 5 year old was battle her once slow now speedy pony around the ring at the canter. As I walked in the ring, my trainer looked at me and said, “I have to warn you, it hasn’t been a good day.” Way to instill confidence… Ranger and I took off trotting and I could see what she meant. His attention was NOT on me. But we trotted and trotted and trotted. And trotted through puddles where I insisted he use as much energy as possible (he did NOT appreciate that that was the only stop he could speed up — the HARD PLACE — but still, his attention was NOT on me. And things didn’t improve when the lunge lesson and the 5 year old headed out for a short walk around one of the fields and proceeded to leave the gate WIDE OPEN which angered Ranger immensely. He tried to insist on leaving the ring and then when he realized that was NOT happening, he tried to speed towards the gate. Yeah, no. Gate was soon closed but speeding attempts continued so we added some halts and backs much to his chagrin… We eventually added some circles, but while they looked decent, he was never really with me. That said, he was lovely at the canter which lately has been our best gait. Leg required through out sticky, puddle side, some upward tugs required heading towards the in gate, because gate = fast, but nothing that took much effort.

We started working back and forth over our outside single. First starting the “easy” direction then the hard way. First time was actually perfect mostly because we didn’t rush and I didn’t overthink. It’s amazing how that works. Now if only we could end there. Second, “hard” direction, was less lovely but… effective? Mostly we worked on upward tugs to keep him from dropping his monster head and dragging me to the fence. But, the spot was ugly so in my opinion = fail. Evidently the exercise was not about the spot but about the ride and the ride was fine, but… since it didn’t all come together… I don’t like bad spots and I have appear to have an abnormally good eye so not that we’re making me adjust too many other things, I’d not always able to adjust to the spot I should get and I HATE IT. Evidently I’ll get back there once I get used to getting him back on his butt… Grr. Repeat first “easy” direction and instead of being good it sucked. I turned late, didn’t ride to the spot I saw, rode the right side of the jump, chipped it, yeesh. Ugh. I think we repeated this and then when I remembered to TURN (and use both hands) and give the TINIEST of tug ups in the corner because a certain pinto was convinced he knows EVERYTHING, the jump worked. Amazing. When I do things right things work? Then the hard way I got him on his butt with some tugs, allowed him to move up and get a bit forward because it was just easier and he was extending, not pulling, and thankfully the jump worked.

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He can talk you into anything…

We then did this same lovely exercise with our straw bales. First time going towards the road the jump was fine, but SOMEONE decided to act abnormally and drag on the landing (going away from the barn?!). So we eventually halted, backed hard, and repeated the jump (to a less great spot that I tried not to dwell on but dwell indeed since I’m remembering it now). Landed, got a lovely halt (I lifted coming in since he was trying to drag me to something in the corner… the jump, the gate, who knows….), backed just because and then was told to do it the hard way…. Strangely enough, the hard way, heading DIRECTLY TO THE GATE, was actually easier? Mostly because we weren’t picking up our canter while heading to the gate and had time to stabilize? He was forward, but listened and got off his front end and the jump felt fabulous.

We then moved to the “hard” inside line which, once I figured this line out 2 weeks ago (when it took most of the lesson), it stopped being hard. The line was super easy (it’s a stay out on the rail forever and then turn with both hands. The line does NOT work if you turn early — well, you can get the second jump to work, but the first jump doesn’t work) and the height didn’t bother me at all! I even forgot about the puddles.

We ended with the evil jump, Straw bales around the stupid boogey jump (the weird inside single that Ranger likes to bolt towards half the time). The turn is hard mostly because I turn way too late and then add the fact that I’m usually trying to prevent someone from taking off… Mostly I have a fear of this jump. Bribe was jump well and end… Gahh. So, we did the straw bales towards the road landing correctly (thank you Ranger!) and I actually remembered to turn my head AND tug up a couple of times. The turn was supposedly perfect though I was a bit conservative and the spot wasn’t quite there (I held more than I needed to because I don’t trust him AT ALL on this jump). But, thankfully we’re focusing on the ride, not the distance and it was awful (I wasn’t thrilled, but when am I if the spot isn’t perfect?). But we decided to take it as I did what I was asked to do.

But we are poorly behaved when we want to GO OUT or EAT TREATS

​All in all, we were successful and supposedly won the night. We did much more than stay on and had a fairly normal and strong lesson. I love Ranger. He’s fun and just enough of a challenge to keep things interesting. And we get along. As my trainer said, we’re soulmates. Though, it’s really just all the treats I stuff into him to keep him tolerating me…

Ranger Recap: It’s all in the canter

We’re FINALLY having gorgeous weather! High 70s, no humidity, and sunny. Perfection. Seriously amazing weather. If only summer wasn’t ending. I have serious issues with the end of summer. I also have serious issues with students returning to school [all college students in DE need to take remedial street crossing EVERY SINGLE SEMESTER. A few have returned to campus and already are causing street crossing problems and classes haven’t even started…]

Anyway, due to timing (I was early, someone else was late),  I ended up riding with Katherine and Mikey, which meant nothing other than I got some breaks here and there while she jumped. Sometimes it’s nice to get breaks? It also meant there was a little less variety in fences as  I stuck with my fences at the  2’6″-2’9″ height while she had her 3′ fences.

Flatwork Takeaways:

  • USE MY INSIDE LEG DAMNIT. Ugh. I don’t know why, but my inside leg did NOT want to cooperate in the beginning. Regardless of the direction, sometimes I just don’t have  an inside leg. Eventually my inside leg woke up and helped me out on turns and we could successfully circle around our fences without looking stiff as a board…
  • Occasionally I have the habit of turning my head sideways which then unsquares my shoulders. I need to stop doing this so it doesn’t become a bad habit that I need to undo. When I look ahead, STOP TURNING HEAD SIDEWAYS IMMEDIATELY!
  • When transitioning from the trot to the canter on the right lead, without fail, I rush the transition and pick up the wrong lead. It DOES NOT MATTER WHICH HORSE I AM RIDING. I need to stop rushing. I need to take my time and think about my transition (I have a terrible habit on Batty of screwing up just this trot-canter transition ALL. THE. TIME. and it appears it’s not a Batts issue but a me issue. Oops.)
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Ranger ❤

Over Fences:

We warmed up both directions with our outside single. Normally this jump is easy. I decided to start cantering left lead away from the road. For the LIFE OF ME I could not hit the right distance and we had an OK spot but not a great spot. My trainer said I had the canter for the distance, but backed off at the last minute.

From the right lead, we had the same, nice canter, though perhaps an inch more forward and hit a gorgeous spot. Ranger didn’t entirely lift his feet so it was a tad clunky, but other than that… Sometimes though I still think about the jumps which make me think this one was probably in the 2’9″ range vs the 2’6″ as a pole was added later to make it 3′ for Mikey’s final course. So, that’s my excuse for looking at least the first time.

We returned to the left lead and I got the same damn spot. So I repeated it again and this time, I changed my canter. We actually got a better spot and I got a lecture. We don’t change our canter to fix our spots. Which I know. But, unable to figure out what I was doing wrong, I figured I could just ride a little faster and it would solve the spot issue. It did, but that wasn’t the solution we were looking for. True, I know it’s true. We ride the same canter the whole course. If I need to, I can lengthen or shorten, but the canter SPEED must stay the same. So, me picking up an entirely different paced canter was not the solution. Establish pace then make an adjustment to stride length if needed, not to the actual canter itself. Does that make sense? We want rhythm.

Finally, I tired and starting to have a mental block with this stupid jump, I decided that it wasn’t my canter, it wasn’t necessarily even my stride length, but my approach. Ranger was sort of dragging me at the turn so  I was holding him a little too deep in the corner. We weren’t turning later, but by staying out longer, I was adding in an extra stride and not seeing as well as I should have because I was fighting him. So,  instead,  I changed my approach and staying off the rail and cut the fight with Ranger (by staying out so long before,  I had to first fight to keep him out, then fight to turn because, hello approaching gate). The turn was easier,  I was able to stay steady to the fence and then keep him moving for the forward spot. Finally we got it and could move on.

Course work! Yay! Basically, our course consisted of right lead to the outside single, around to the (tight turn) to the inside (christmas tree) line in 3 around to the outside line in 4.

Course 1 (no video):

We started off well enough and actually the first half was the best we did. Our single was perfect as well our inside line. I HATE the turn to the inside line because it’s SO easy to turn late and basically you pretty much have to turn at the jump your second jump of your outside line and not take out the standard. Then, depending on the entrance, move up for the 3. All of this was really good. But, on the landing, we had too much speed and I starting fighting we Mr. Strong Head and we didn’t stay out. He pulled, I pulled BACK instead of up and we cut our corner and had a terrible approach to our line. Despite that, I seam to have an excellent ability to correct in lines and the 4 worked out nicely. I just made WAY too much work for myself.

Course 2 (Ignore the commentary…):

First jump: the distance was great, but we fell in on the landing and swapped. We regrouped with the simple change, but it took a stride or 2 or 3 to re-establish our pace which was critical because we were near the gate and needed to keep MOVING. Then we chipped the in of the line but moved up to for the 3. Then instead of riding the horse I had, I rode the horse I had last course and held him out (GOOD), but slowed him down (BAD) in case of pulling (none in sight because he realized who was riding him the second I lifted him up). As a result, I rode him towards NOTHING and then had to work entirely too hard to make up for it through the rest of the line.

Lesson learned: I need to ride what’s under me, not what I rode last course.

Course 3 (continue to ignore the commentary):

First jump: We seemed to be nailing this jump all day. On the landing however we were both able to stay balanced and square which fixed are issues of last time. Maintaining our pace, we had a nice ride to our inside line and continued to hold the canter to our outside 4. Of course, I saw NOTHING and we have a long spot, but it didn’t matter because, Ranger. The line rode well and we ended there. I love this horse.  Seriously, I love this  horse.

At this point, I have no idea how large anything is. And that’s fine. The out of the outside got a top rail for Mikey to make it 3′ and then we both called it a night. A year ago this lesson I had my nice crash of Batts. Now I don’t even care what I jump. I think I’ve come a long way?

Again, Ranger.

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Oxford in the summer

Recapping : Ranger, Subi, and life challenges

Sorry for the radio silence here. Work sort of started taking over my life again and I forgot to blog…

My swollen, eye returned (mostly) to normal thanks to mass steroids and I was able to have my regular lesson on Ranger last week. Now, trying to recap the lesson,  I’m reminded that I really should have recapped sooner because much of the lesson was a  blur… oops.

Some of the highlights:

Flat work:

  • Ranger was as stiff as a board in the beginning and decided to pay me no attention at first when I asked him to bend. It took an insane amount of leg and hand and effort to start getting any response.
  • It occurred to me that there was some sort of camp this week which meant kids…
  • I asked Ranger for some small circles around jumps and after our 3rd attempt he FINALLY softened and realized who was on his back and I had my Ranger back and we started bending.
  • Once we worked out the kinks at the trot, his canter was LOVELY. Truly, truly LOVELY.
  • Our halts were gorgeous as well.
  • My trainer reminded we that I am the only advanced rider or rider with any sort of education that rides him so I get to do all the reschooling. Which is why I got to have “fun” in the beginning of the ride. But, it’s also why when I get through to him, he gives me 150% (I think it’s the pounds of carrots and peppermints that I stuff down his throat after lessons and the fact that I don’t hang on his mouth).
  • I rode with my new boots and didn’t feel as secure because, new boots. But, supposedly my leg looked fantastic…

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Over fences

  • The plan was to do more, but we ended up working on 3 jumps the entire lesson (which was fine since it was HOT and I was feeling strange still from the steroids–unlike a normal person,  I get wired and restless and tired and add in heat and I just felt weak).
  • The course was our inside single brown boxes towards the road around to our inside line of the straw bales to the stone wall oxer (or whatever the second jump was). The plan today, unlike our normal forward course, was slow steady, and holding with the add. So, the line was to be done in the 6 vs the normal 5. [In the picture below, the inside single is the brown jump in the middle and the inside line is the one with the white winged standards. The heights were different but at least I found a semi accurate picture?]img_4573
  • First time through we were fine for the first jump, but it turned out I learned we could have been slower, but I didn’t slow down enough on the landing. Ranger started pulling a bit because he’s just STRONG.  But, because we took the scenic route, (read: we wiggled our way to jump 2 in our line), we managed the 6.
  • Take 2, same thing. First jump was fine, then too much speed, but then we move up for a 5. The 5 is nice. I mean, really, really nice. He’s not out of control.
  • Take 3, repeat.
  • Take 4. This time we talked first about lifting and tugging him up. I came in MUCH slower and managed to land slower from the first jump. But, turning to the line, even trying to lift him up and lightly tug tugging, he started pulling and we got the  5. Let me tell you, this horse is strong. I mean, really, really STRONG. He was a big head and when he uses it… He’s STRONG. He’s not bad, he’s not anything, but strong.  So, the really take away was that I have to be way more aggressive to shorten him up. I was a little passive that time.
  • Take 5. Gorgeous first jump. He was off his front end, super collected, shorten right up, landed, stayed collected, and we held that stride right to the first fence of our line (good boy Ranger!). In the end, despite EVERYTHING, by staying perfectly straight, I ended up legging him at the end up for the 5 because I saw that despite everything that we weren’t going to fit the 6 and I didn’t want the half stride chip. So I made the decision to get a nice 5 vs an ugly chip/crash/trot stride.  My trainer said she’s not sure he could actually fit in the 6, but what she wanted was that ride. We ended there.

Take aways:

  • Trainers comment: 2’6″ has become easy. It’s starting to look small?

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In other news, the vet was out on Tuesday for vaccines and Subi also got his teeth floated. The other guys get done by the dentist, but at this point, I just suck it up and get the vet to do Subi so that he can get sedated. He’s been acting even more strange about food lately so I was hoping she’d find an issue with a tooth, but they all looked pretty OK (He has amazing teeth for a senior.  Actually, I think the statement was he has amazing teeth for pretty much any horse), but he’s so sensitive that hopefully the float will help anyway. It did last time. That said, he was super drunk from very little drugs. Falling over drunk. We had to hold him up drunk. Once he was back out in the field, he was still a little hung over but I didn’t think anything of it, but after work, when I came out to feed him meal 2 of 3 (he’s currently on the 3 meal a day plan…), he just stared at it. I eventually swapped it out for chopped hay which he did eat. Dinner time 3 hours later, he just sort of moved his lips around in his soaked cubes after much coaxing to even show up to his bucked. Breakfast the next morning? Ate no grain, but did managed to polish off a bucket of chopped hay (I skipped meal 2 yesterday). It was only last night, a full 36 hours after the sedative that he attacked he meal with gusto and seemed completely alert and normal. This morning he ate his grain (mixed with beet pulp) and chopped hay and was waiting for breakfast when we came out to feed.

 

Horses. Are they trying to drive me insane?

And because I can’t leave anyone out, my poor puppy decided to have her seasonal allergies start back yesterday so we had to have an emergency vet appointment for her yesterday as well (0-100 in severity overnight. She and I were up all night while she itched and cried non stop. This happens every year and every year I forget to get meds to have on hand…). I don’t need money at all, do I?

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Ranger Recap: Happy Place

I’ve been awful about blogging lately. I had a great lesson last week on Ranger and a really nice ride on Batts on Sunday (we rode in the ring and both enjoyed ourselves), but never got around to writing about it. Oh well…

Last night I managed to drag myself out for a lesson. I wasn’t in the mood, but I made myself. And then showed up to an empty barn. Thankfully after messaging my trainer, she was home and willing to come out and teach me when I was ready so I got Ranger ready and rode.

I guess it was camp week so I had a camp horse. He wasn’t exactly responsive on the flat. I mean, I had great brakes, but that was about it? He was sluggish and just wanted to drift to the middle. So, inside leg was the mode of the day. Great. I had none. But, despite that, he was a good boy and was quite willing to move at the trot. [We also spent way too much time on sit trot circles… Good thing I practiced those without stirrups on Batts…] Canter to the right? Not so much. But, once we re-established that when we don’t pick up the canter I will stop asking, recollect, and ask again, rather than looking like crap until I do get a canter, I got there, but damn, inside leg was necessary because someone wanted to drift in. So, when we cantered left, I was crazy surprised that we stayed out, because normally we don’t stay out that easily to the left.

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You can sort of see the course… Not the best view of the ring, but I took it from Ranger’s back while on a walk so…

It was another course change, but our outside single mostly stayed the same (but we lost the inside quarter line I liked so much). We started out cantering up our outside single and then down our inside single (brown boxes) which was actually UP to start with. Goal of this exercise was basically our path and pace. First time through, eh. I was a tiny bit slow the the first fence but the the spot was there, simple change was actually pretty neat and quick, we stayed out and had a nice path to our inside single. However, I didn’t actually trust someone enough and we were too slow to our inside single heading to the barn and chipped. Basically, I had no pace and  rode too passively. When I’m unsure, I get passive because Ranger will jump me out of pretty much anything.

So we circled and started over, this time with pace and energy and had a much better pace to fence one which we then carried on to the second fence. Now, after realizing that  I was riding Ranger, Camp Horse, aka, “I’m lazy and tired,” I was also I little more confident and active? Ranger can get strong and pull even though he’s amazing and perfect so knowing that heading toward the gate that this was NOT the horse I had, I rode his much differently and actually moved him up. So, turning the  corner to our fence, I saw the distance and instead of steadying him, we maintained our pace and had a nice forward pace and distance. From here, we continued to our inside line (I first almost turned to the wrong inside line… oops) in a 4, moving up on the landing of the first fence to actually get the 4.

Do you ever have one of those rides that after the first jump or 2, you just can’t miss?  That’s what this ride turned out to be. I saw every distance, made every correction necessary, because we didn’t actually come in perfectly at every given time. But, my eye was on. I need to remember and trust that I can actually find distances as scary as it seems. I just, most of the time, don’t trust that I can.

Our next course was basically the same in a slightly different order/directly. So, we came up the inside single (towards the road/away from the barn), down the outside single (towards the barn) and the same inside green line. And, because, for some reason I’m convinced my trainer likes me thinking on my feet, we can’t ever just do what I’m told, we have to add and keep going. So, after the green line, she had me do the brown boxes again, heading towards the barn. This time though, it just felt easy.

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Some of my favorite ears…

We ended with our brown boxes again, towards the road, to our other inside line, gross straw bales (it’s rained a lot lately and they haven’t done well) to the white stone oxer. We landed from the straw bales pretty slow and drifted left but since we started jumping, Ranger has been SO responsive and moved up off and forward off my leg and jumped the crap out of that jump just because I asked him to. I mean, he had campers all week on his back so he wouldn’t have if I hadn’t asked, but he was happy to do so at the slightest asking. Such a good boy. Everything felt easy. I love him so much.

We ended with a nice walk around the property and a bath before helping turn out. Hanging out with him is really becoming my happy place. How can it not be?

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summer in chester county

Oh and just because, meet Biscuit!

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The Biscuit “Bisquick” kitty

Ranger Recap: It’s HOT outside

So I’m finally back in the swing of lessons, hopefully at least for a few weeks or maybe until Pony Finals?

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With wonky weather and a horse show, I moved my lesson last week to Friday evening and it was gorgeous and then somehow we finished, were about to go for a trail ride to cool off, felt 2 drops of rain and though better of it, walked into the barn, and the skies opened up. Downpours for what felt like at least 45 minutes. Then it ended, I managed to turn Ranger out, and then more insanely heavy rain.

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Lacking media this week so the Lasagna Kitty reminds your she is god. 

Unfortunately, I remember very little of my lesson other than for the first 3/4 of my lesson I could NOT use my corners and therefore could not find a spot to save my life. I was a mess. Eventually, I actually stayed on the rail and stopped rushing and bam! the spots where there. Go figure?

This week the mid atlantic is experiencing a lovely heat wave with unbearable humidity. Today they’re calling for the heat index to be near 105 but really the humidity is what’s bad. So, I moved my lesson to 8AM to try and beat the heat.

It was still damn hot even at 8AM.

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It wasn’t much better at 8am either…

In preparation for our show on Monday (more on that later), the goal was 15mph trot, loose reins, and trot somewhere you haven’t trotted before each time around the ring, trying to keep him round and not interfering with my hands and keeping the bend. Sometimes I was more successful than others. Lots of trot-halt-trot transitions mixed in as well. Left lead we cantered a circle using first half the ring then later a small circle not passing the mounting block down at the far end. The left lead is a struggle for us at the canter and I had to work to keep my body back, look ahead, and not break AND not turn early enough. Add in heat… Somehow we were actually successful today. Small canter circles, left lead in particular, I HATE. I think Ranger helped. I’m pretty sure he knew we’d still be working on the damn circle if we broke…

Right lead we were spared of circles and added in the our log jump (outside single). First time through we had a nice soft canter. Second time around, I was asked to be more forward so I asked for more canter. Still a nice easy jump. At this point, I’m pretty sure Ranger was ready to be done.

We started cantering down my favorite straw bale jump towards the in gate (now in a new location) and continued around to a brown box jump so it was sort of a figure 8. Goal was not to rush to the bales, but to keep the energy to the boxes and remember to stay out long enough on the rail but then to use both hands to steer to the center. Today was the start of “I can see my spots today” and “Jumping is easy?” It was turning out to be that kind of lesson.

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Next we came up the straw bales and then down the inside line on the quarter line and continued around to our brown boxes. First time, picking up the canter, Ranger was a bit strong and even through I tried to “tug-tug” I also held a bit. As a result, we broke turning the corner to the bales and then got our canter back. The spot was still there but the rhythm wasn’t a nice as it could have been. Still, remember that the turn to the inside quarter line was tight, I remembered to stay out (yay for fixing last week’s mistakes!) and look and our turn worked and again, spot was there and the line was there. We kept our energy and continued to the last jump which was fine. We repeated our exercise to improve my hands and not fight and with a better first turn and better balance, we didn’t break–everything else stayed the same. We walked our corner to looked at the angle of a broken line (I like looking at lines whenever possible, especially if the turn is weird).

From the first jump of our broken/bending line, we turned left and picked up a canter and cantered down over the outside single log jump, cantered up our brown boxed, and then continued around to our weird broken bending line. What can I say, I was have a good day? I don’t know…

 

By this point, we’d jumped everything in the ring but 3 jumps. So, we ended with trotting the cross rail on the end (awkward entrance) down the long side to the inside line (goal 6 strides). First time through we came in from the left. The cross rail was fine (Ranger wanted to rush it, but whatever), but then I struggled to bring him back for the change and  I never re-established our canter rhythm. By the time we approached the first jump of the line, we were crooked and it wasn’t pretty. We ended up with a 7 because that was what was there and I didn’t have any rhythm. We did it again, this time from the right. The cross rail was better (I found the right approach easier even though most evidently like the left approach better?), he still wanted to rush, but we landed less draggy. I managed to bring him back for our change right away and then established a rhythm rather than fighting and could actually look for my spot. First jump was there and then I could move him up for the 6. Thankfully after that, we were done.

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One Hot Ranger

I tried to walk him out a bit, but moved on to the hose pretty quickly. I’m pretty sure I spent 30 minutes hosing and scraping before he actually felt cool. No one was ever going to dry today…

Meanwhile we’re supposedly showing on Monday… I’ll be off from work for the week and agreed to this. It sounded like a good idea at the time. Like all shows do… But now? Local show at Devon which is mostly the reason. How often do I have the chance to show at Devon? Pretty much never. So, for that reason I’m going. But then I think, why spend money so that people can judge me? Makes little sense… Regardless, this will probably be it show-wise for me for a while. I need to build up my reserves. Maybe sometime in the fall, maybe not. But definitely it for the summer. Possibly the fall. But maybe I’ll get some nice pictures out of this one?

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Love my Barn Dog Apparel T-Shirt!