Friday, March 29, 2024

The Daily Grind

So my excuse for blogging this go round is I have been sick more in the past month than I have in the past ten years. Started with food poisoning, a terrible first, and then COVID, also for the first time, at least symptomatic, and now some other viral funk that I got from my BFFs kiddos while having an otherwise lovely visit with them. Work has also been tossing more than the normal level of "extras" my way, which is fun... there should be a benefit to it in the end, but it feels an awful lot like I'm doing a lot of busy work for no return currently.

I'm toying with the idea of moving Ben to Goggles' farm so they can hang out together because Goggles is still kinda stressy away from his friends. His belly is happy, and we've been having some really good rides, but he does not like being alone in his field. Since he's happy barefoot behind, I might give them a chance to be together. TBD. 

Goggles had about a week off when I went out of town and came back better than ever. He did some really great trot-canter transitions and worked very hard at staying up off his inside shoulder in both directions. We ended with a walk up to the front of the property and along the road. 

These fools galloped up to the fence behind us and all he did was a bit of sideways trotting

The mini donkey was running laps around the horse and Goggles did a great job keeping his cool in spite of that. There was definitely some heart pounding under my leg, but considering the situation that also included a trash can lid flapping in the wind, he was super brave. 

The next ride was equally delightful with some really soft, lovely trot work. The focus on slow , consistent tempo means we're sometimes lacking impulsion and push, but we can add those back in soon. He was even braver by the donkey, enough so that I was brave enough to pull out my phone to snap a picture. 

Herro! Friends?? 

Absolutely gorgeous Florida day

He got a training ride last week at the GY's from JT's assistant trainer. She came up to teach the other boarder at the GY's and we planned to have her hop on Goggles. It had been several months (at least December) since she rode him last. 

He was such a good egg. If you watch the video, at one point he sort of awkwardly hopped the in with a bit of a canter stride not a real jump, then he politely did the quiet 5 down the line. Another time he got a good, big jump in and then did an easy 4. I was very proud to see him make good choices about both without flailing. The assistant trainer said it was the best he'd ever felt. A good reminder that we are making progress. She'll be out to ride him again this morning, and I'll video some more then. 

She does such a great job being giving over the jump with him

For our at home rides, we're chipping away at the very basics still, but making them quality. I'm being very exacting about his tempo and bend, the best tidbits I took away from watching Peter Grey teach. And he's delivering, we've had softer transitions and no shenanigans in the canter lately. Another tidbit was taking eight strides instead of three to do down transitions and slowing down as you ease into it. It was really cool to watch Hillary's horse lift her back through the transition instead of drop, and I think I'm achieving that same result with Goggles. We've also started playing with baby stretchy circles at the trot. He's got a really darn nice natural free walk (time will tell if that delivers at a show with things to look at), but has definitely wanted to fall on his face when we stretch at the trot. We've been doing little bits of that with Peter's method of bend, give, praise, repeat. He's getting much better at being able to keep a steady tempo. Sometimes I end with letting him slip into a nice long rein walk while keeping the stretch the whole time, sometimes I pick him back up a little bit before asking for the walk. 

I feel like we had stalled in progress because I hadn't moved the bar, and I hadn't been at all consistent about riding him in January and February. JT and I have also been having a tough time lining up our schedules lately (ie the past two months), so I haven't had the consistent lessons to force me to continually demand a slightly higher quality, more consistent response. But watching the Peter Grey lessons gave me a new focus and a new way to work on things that has been super useful while I haven't been able to get to JT. 

I would LOVE to be done being sick, and if that works out for me, the plan is a lesson Monday morning at JT's farm, then a schooling Wednesday at Majestic over their stadium course. We're entered in a combined test the following Wednesday. I may yet scratch the stadium because the idea of a whole 2'3" course right now is pretty iffy. But we'll go and dressage and at least visit the stadium warm up. It will be a learning experience either way. Compared to Leila and Yoshi, he has NOT been an easy horse to get going. I think it will all be worth it in the end, but I have to not fall prey to internal and external comparisons. The past few months have been a bit of me dealing with that emotionally as well as trying to keep his emotions happy and still end every session on the ground or in the saddle with him feeling like a success. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

This and that

Insert long list of work, life, etc etc reasons that I've sucked at blogging. But we'll skip all that and just do a bullet format list of what we have been doing lately.

We've been doing things - not a lot of photos of doing said things, but I at least remembered to take a few pre-photos...  

  • Horse Shows in the Park schooling day - Goggles bopped around the baby hunter ring and was super and rideable. He did try to take a bite out of the fake flowers and then pull one of those panic-and-forget-I-can-open-my-mouth moves and spin in a circle bucking like a bronc for a few seconds till he dropped the flowers. I dismounted and we had a mini sack out session with said flowers. He then went on to jump them just fine, but I didn't give him the option of taking a bite again.

Grown up boy taking in the scene

"I feel like I'm in a tree..."
  • Trailer lesson with the cowboy. Honestly trailering has been a big burr in our joint side. I wanted the cowboy's take on it. It wasn't... magic.. and unfortunately he said there are "get tos" and "got tos" and said no more get tos until he was comfortable. I'm still mulling over that advice. At this point trailering deserves a whole long post of its own. 

Feelings. So MANY feelings. 
  • Liver pool at the GY's. We had a lesson at JT's where we tackled the liver pool. I forget whether or not I wrote about that here, but he's been so DRAMA about the dang thing we decided he needed to just DO IT. He's done A LOT of standing around next to it and watching me tromp across it. He did it, but it came with some theatrics. I jumped on the opportunity to have another exposure when we showed up at the GY's to get his feets done and it was set up in the arena. He was a super good boy and hopped over it in hand enough that he started eventually realizing he could put a foot on the tarp and didn't need to launch. Also, both his farrier and I are really happy with him barefoot behind again, yay! 

  • XC schooling at Sweet Dixie Monday morning. He trailered very quietly next to his friend and got off the trailer looking like all his brain cells were installed. We definitely got rained on. He historically has felt pretty negative about doing anything in the rain, so it was good to get this out of the way. He was a little head flingy to start, but got over it pretty quickly. As far as the actual schooling, he went in both waters with just a little bit of time dithering on the shores and popped over a handful of logs. He's now jumping in Ben's elevator XC bit and the little bit of extra brakes is perfect. 

See, very relaxed, right off the trailer LOL (and no he wasn't about to pee)

And to finish, a random assortment of photos
Ben is rocking the dad bod a bit too much right now 

Goggles fave activity is to hold the hose in his mouth and water board himself while vigorously flinging his head and soaking everything around him. I'm NOT allowed to hose his face, but he can fling water everywhere, thems the rules. 

Dapples and dad bod

Goggles walking the fine line between enjoying the fan and causing chaos with his face and the fan while his feet were getting done

We let the pigs till the garden this year, they were delighted

Monday, March 11, 2024

February Wrap Up

Almost to the point where it seems silly to write a wrap up. But here we are. The first week of March was A WEEK. Neither one of them did enough work to make a chart make sense. Ben worked five times, Goggles eight. Hardly a program for either one. But such is life. 

Such a vivid rainbow

Ben: kiddo worked roughly once a week and was a bit bored. He caused a lot of chaos in turnout, but, knock on wood, kept his shoes on for it. We started once weekly acupuncture for ulcers. My friend shared the points with me, and we're giving it a go. 

He loves his needles

In exciting news for his boredom, a friend is coming out to ride him this week. Hopefully it will become a consistent thing. 

Looking pretty handsome in spite of the lack of work

Goggles: He had a bit of a busier month, but still only worked 8 times.

We did get our zen back though

Following a slightly frustrating lesson that turned into a training ride and getting to watch Peter Gray teach Amanda and Hillary, I changed up my approach at the end of the month. As Peter Gray put it, short bursts of quality work. I started riding with a metronome in my pocket and being very exacting about his response to my leg and rein aids, mostly the ones that say get off your inside shoulder. Bend and tempo are the MOST IMPORTANT things. Lots of breaks and lots of praise, but he knows what is being asked, so 10% and then nothing more is no longer good enough. What do you know, this makes him much better overall and stops his squirreling around in the canter. 

He was a super good boy for his solo Majestic trip! 

There's a nice horse in there! 

I am so proud of how casual he is about ditches. What a good boy. 

My goal for March with both of them is to get back into more consistent work. Three times per week minimum ideally. And I'd like to take both of them out XC at least once each. Hopefully the rest of life will cooperate!