Saturday, January 29, 2011

Identifying Issues

It always seems to happen that you improve for the first half of the season you improve and then halfway through you start to hit issues. They can be caused by upgrading too much, loss of fitness from injury and time off, sourness for the job, the ground hardening up and jarring the horses and a zillion other niggly little issues. Christmas/ New years is always bad because your horses get too much time off without you even realising it.

So Connie was jarred up earlier and Kate had the badly sprained fetlock and these two injuries are the cause of the issues I'm now having. I did a basic exercise with Connie the other day- trot poles to a trot fence, then canter down the short 5 stride distance in 6 strides. This showed up a glaring problem that I have with Connie. she struggles to collect. She is a big long mare and this is an issue she will always have so I have to stay on top of it. I have rather let it slip. With the time off while she was jarred up and then just not really getting focused on this issue Connie hasn't regained the strength she had earlier in the season, because she could do this exercise comfortably during the winter clinics. Still it's nice to know exactly what I need to do now. And thats lots of work on collection. So lots of extending the canter and slowing it back down, along with slowing my canter as much as possible before my downward transitions, just to practice the collection.

Kate feels sound but she is still niggly from the sprained fetlock, and it wasn't until today that I really hit on the root issue. Along with that and then being a bit locked up in her back in front of her pelvis, she has really lost the ability to work across herself. Funny how both of them have such basic issues that I haven't really locked onto until now. I found today when I ask her to move off of my leg and step under herself behind and round up she gives me one stride and softens, but if I ask for more than one crossed over step she is pinning her ears and moving back into my leg. So yes it's hard for her and she is clearly tight and weak after being out for 4 weeks. Still we worked on this, spending probably half an hour in the walk really getting her moving away from my leg, yielding her body, and crossing her hind legs under herself. The quality of her work really improved, her walk really freed up and she started to feel more connected across her whole back.

When I moved up to the trot and canter she was ok to the left, but weak to the right when she had to drive her injured leg under. Lots of spiralling in and out circles at the trot and in the canter, lots of straight lines to a circle and then straight again. The circle helps her re-balance and going straight then trains her to stay balanced and maintain her canter. To the left she wants to throw me off the inside diagonal by cantering and in the canter wen she gets unbalanced she changes out behind which is exactly what she did when she was weak and coming into work at the start of the season. This is going to be hard for Kate and it isn't going to thrill her, but I need to work through this issue and make her strong again. Part of being an athlete is unfortunately working through weakness which is hard, and she is going to be sore, but providing I'm careful to warm her up well with lots of bending, stretching and lateral work and then to cool her down and keep the work varied, we should be ok. Kate gets worried by being unbalanced and to keep her relaxed and happy I have to really concentrate on keeping her balanced and very very straight- as soon as she falls out her shoulder I lose the quality of the canter and the relaxation.

so two very basic things to work on, which should cause dramatic improvements to the way my horses work and compete, but both that are going to require time, and dedication and a lot of focus.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Horowhenau A & PI Show

I hate this show. Never. Going. Back. They screwed me out of $50 on class changes, underpaid my prizemoney (Awesome- $17 dollars to enter, $20 back for 6th in a series class. A whole three dollars.) And then have the nerve to ask for another $4 dollars. Never mind that the yards were so small the horses could hardly turn around. Baa Humbug.

Uhh it's not even like I can say I rode well which always makes for a pretty average show. Connie was the first horse out into the 1.10m in ring 1 on Friday and about three strides out from the first fence she got a look in her eye (according to bystanders) and wasn't having a bar of it. She went on to jump well though, just having a lazy rail into the second double. It was a spooky reasonably hard track so I was pretty happy. Enter Kate. If Connie had been hot and spooky, Kate was completely off her face. Heading into the liverpool at fence 3, it was I'm stopping- no I'm going, not I'm definitely stopping and opps I'm in the liverpool. I hate falling in the ring. Sigh. Late enter Kate into the 1.05m and had a stop at a wall, but I didn't fall off and she got a towel up and actually jumped quite well. Then Connie came out in the Amateur and she actually jumped really well. Didn't get a great spot into the double because I turned too late and she took that rail, but she was second fastest four faulter for 6th place which was awesome. So she was back in the dog box despite it being impossible to get on and having spent a minute backing around the warm-up ring while I tried to get my leg over.

After Friday I rode poorly, and Connie jumped average. I don't think she takes the smaller tracks seriously enough. Might be time to upgrade *gulp*. So three rails in the 1.15m and a rail and a stop in the 1.10m on the last day. The stop was because I lost my stirrup at fence 7 and still didn't have it back by fence 10AB and so mucked up the related line. I really pulled her up more than anything.

Kate didn't start Saturday because she felt off in her right front, and a visit with the chiro showed an issue in her lumbar spine in the left side. Sunday she felt good, but again was ridiculously spooky, even backing off plain fences, and I retired at the 8th fence in the 1.10m. Sigh. Lots of homework to do.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Draw reins

My sport loves draw reins, it's not often you ever go to a show and don't see a heap of horses in the warm-ups with draw reins. Many of the top riders do most of their warm-ups in them. I did notice at Danniverke, they aren't just using them but the are using them really short and riding the horses really deep.

I use draw reins fairly often but mostly they are very lose and certainly wouldn't hold a horse behind the vertical. So here-in lies my pondering. Maybe i'm doing it wrong and there is some advantage in using them to ride the horses in a deeper frame. You certainly can't say that Katie McVeans horses aren't beautifully schooled, but they are often out in draw reins and I was a little surprised at how short they were when I watching her working her 6yr old first thing in the morning. She definitely offered release but the draw reins were short.

Obviously, there is variations in the skill with which they are used. I hate seeing horses just leaning on them, but most of the upper level riders despite the short length of rein, have soft necked relaxed looking horses. My sister reckons that the upper level riders are doing it to get maximise the impact o their workouts while limiting the work duration and thus saving their joints, but I don't really know about that. Just a bunch of ponderings really.

I made a complaint against someone who had really made their horses mouth bleed after seeing him ripping on three of the individuals horses faces at various times of the day and what a horrible experience that was. It made me feel dirty and criminal and there was really not a lot of interest in my story. They never went to see the horse but I maintain with that much blood (not blood flecked froth) there should have been visible wounds even after the mouth was cleaned.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mondo catch up

Ok so from the 16th to the 20th of December I was in Taupo with C horse and we had a bit of a disaster. The first class was the 1.10m and she had two rails but felt unbelievably average and very flat, she just wouldn't/ couldn't hold her canter together. The problem being of course that she just doesn't hold her fitness at all, and even in a week off with lose fitness. So with the travelling and everything I guess she was actually just tired. The next day was the amateur and it was one of the bigger tracks. She was sticky through the first combination and then stopped at the combination at number 7. Rather than have a fight about it I opted to retire and accidently taught C-horse a new trick.

The next day I had in a 1.10m class and it was a nice small 1.10m and she was starting to feel fresh again but again she stopped at the double, because retiring her the day had taught her an out. I wish she was a bit dumber sometimes. So over to the practice ring they had running and lots and lots of jumping down the combination, with some use of the stick especially when she backed off it the first time round even though it was only 80cm. She was jumping really well otherwise and felt good and keen, just didn't want to jump the combination. Then the final day we were clear in the 1m class and I left it at that.

So after that we didn't have another show until 8th and 9th of Jan, when we went over to Danniverke. I was going to scratch and had only decided to go after a little jump around on the Wednesday because she felt so good. Again she was in the 1m and she jumped really super. Full of beans and confidence and wanting to do the job, which is great. Jumped a clear round and put the hammer down in the jump-off and was second in that class out of about 50. The next day we did the 1.10m and again she was clear and again I went for it in the jump-off and came in fifth out of around 50 again so I couldn't have been more rapt. Especially with how confident she was in and through the doubles. I did get a bit of a hard time for being a pot hunter in the mighty metre but it needed to be done to make sure the stopping issue was fixed and then once you are in the jump-off and there is money to be had, you should go. Second show this season when I won back my entries. Booyah.

Kate is recovered from her sprain and starting to work quite well. In my sadness at Taupo I had some retail therapy and brought her a gorgeous figure 8 bridle that really pretties her up. Bill is also coming a long really nicely. Rascal is improving but I might turn her out until hunting and focus on the other three because I really need to get Bill out and I do struggle getting them all worked.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year everyone

Thats me on the left at La De Da a NYE music festival. Seems my depression made me afraid of being crowded by people etc, because I was happy as a pig in a blanket up front in the middle. It's kind of interesting see what things were caused by that and what is actually my personality

2011. Thank God. It can only better better than last year, which despite a turn around in the later months, comfortably ranks as the worst year of my life. Therefore, 2011 can only be better right? I'm supposed to be showing next weekend in Danniverke, but I'm going to scratch from that and focus on getting everything a bit fitter and more finely tuned and then start again at Horowhenua in three weeks time.

Had another we jump around on bill and man the double barrel kick outs on landing are going to make things difficult. She gets tired and snotty, but I feel like she is definitely going to jump. Plenty of power, if I can survive the landing. She is starting to understand being soft to the bridle as well which is awesome. She is a smart little duck.

And yes they have all gotten very very fat over xmas break, but so have I, so I can't judge!

Oh Rascal, I really don't trust you over fences anymore, but she feels amazing when she gets there and gets her shoulder up and really jumps. I'm tempted to turn her out and focus on hunting and winter dressage with her, but I might give her another show and see how that goes.

And my beloved Connie who feels really average until the fences get big haha.