Saturday, May 28, 2016

Spoilt Fried Rice

China man continues to be an absolute treat. When I rode him once at the track I was told about how he'll open his mouth and throw his head and bolt and he has done this to me a few times mostly towards the fence, requiring and emergency two handed pull on one rein. Still I have never felt afraid on this horse, it makes me laugh looking back at how cautious I was when I first starting riding him, but also how far he has come.

Here's a bit of a day on the life of China man anyway. He has a hay bale all to himself and the sheep steal some too. I swear he isn't spoilt. 

The weather has been nonstop rain for days it feels so me and the dog child did a bit of this 

Waiting for the passing of that

iPhone five fails to capture the rain drops. 

He's keener than both me and the dog. He LOVES to work! 

I was thinking he wouldn't be a snaffle horse for the jumping phases for long, mostly because of how leaden he could be in the mouth but this noseband has changed all of that so far. He isn't bracing the same. I have also switched out the French link long cheek for a Kk trainer loose ring in sweet iron. This is my go to for horses that prefer a jointed bit and like Butch and Tsar, China loves it. It's quite curved and thin and it must sit comfortably in the mouth. The noseband doesn't suit his head and probably a grackle would look nicer. A Hanoverian style with a flash has already received a very empathic thumbs down from the horse so we don't push it. He seems to like this and I can leave it quite loose and still have it be very effective.

Of course he is spoilt, such swag! I find some of the really large nature of his trot has been lost, mostly because he is more rhythmical and not always looking to accelerate. That power felt good though, I'm hoping as he gets stronger he'll be able to carry more swing. At te moment we are really focussing on relaxation and straightness. And canter transitions. Though he does flying changes already and he's only five! Go pony! I sometimes feel like I haven't made that much progress but he cantered some smaller circles without breaking, as in less than 20m, and he used to struggle to hold his canter going large, unless he was really smoking along pace wise. He is getting deeper into his corners and holding his shape and softness. His canter is still weak and I know that with tbs you need to do more to create the uphill canter that wbs are born with but man alive the brains in tbs. and the try! It's love!

Got a big few weeks coming up, dressage again next weekend with the return of Bob. Jumping the weekend after and again the weekend after that. So that should really be a good learning curve for both China and Bob. I know I won't get the work I get at home at te dressage with China but I just have to remember he is so young. I'm able to ride him so much more now, straighten him with just the leg without acceleration, half halt on the rein and slow his speed without over reaction. 

After we exercise, he grazes.

And I puff about how much harder flat schooling is

And I unsaddle while my not spoilt pony eats the fresh lawn grass. 

See he's not particularly exciting to look at, just the plainest of bays, though better with the haircut. But man riding this horse just gives me pure joy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Oh that's right; Stressage

I don't know if I have mentioned this but I hate dressage. I don't understand it, I don't get the marking it really makes no sense to me. I mean I like to ride a beautifully schooled horse, with all the lateral work and who travels in a soft adjustable obedient manner, but it doesn't seem to cross over that well. Also China can be very sure he knows all the answers at times. 

So we go to the dressage show and we are riding 1b and 1c. Nothing overly technical though he doesn't really understand the lowering of the neck in the stretchy exercises. But the problem is accuracy. Schooling for jumpers I can wait until everything is soft and then ask for the transition or something. In dressage it's so often at the marker I have just blasted past.

The warm up was terrible I didn't allow enough time and he never stopped with the reluctant away from the truck and falling out so badly towards it. Also plenty of open mouth turn and bolt. Yikes. 

That trot though! God and dressage saddles feel so damn unsafe! So insecure it wasn't a good time. In one of our canter transitions he locked onto the arena pipe and tried to jump out. I completely missed te other lead which has never happened before, but then again not being schooled to a marker only to the feel previously at home. The judge even said I had hard hands 😭. Worst comment ever. Scored 53% marks from 7-3 and honestly the marking was fair I'm losing marks in all Te important places- transitions and the left canter.

New strategy, long warm up with the addition of a drop noseband so when he went to throw his head and piss off it wasn't an option anymore you sucker horse. The trot work at the start felt a lot lot better but our transitions were awful and again I missed te left lead even though I prepared so early.

Deceptively nice picture, not representative of true test quality. Still that trot though, from my Mousey little tb. Images with thanks from Striding images photography. So the second test ended up with a 56% and still so much work to do before the next one in three weeks. Bobs gone home for three weeks but I think he'll come out for the next one which will be interesting. Dressage I so hate your guts 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Fun day!!

A beautiful morning for an adventure and it would have to be an adventure to get us three out of bed to ride without it being a competition. We loaded 6 horses and headed for the beach for some fitness work and just the absolute bliss of riding at the beach with two of the funniest people alive. Of course on the way out we get a snapchat being all forecast is for 126km winds and honestly Castlepoint is known for its wind at the best of times though it is achingly beautiful. 

I'm trying with China to make sure riding stays fun and exciting and I want him to be really versatile. (I have a dressage show this weekend and he's showing level 1 but realistically he's only ready for level 0.5. That was where a late entry opening came up though) 

Anyway we arrive and it's like quite windy and a bit rainy and it goes to show how fun the beach is that the weather can be miserable and it's still hella fun.

More pictures!! China had a good splash in the lagoon and quickly got brave in the waves though we had a few pile ups where the waves sent the horses skittering sideways into each other. Everyone of the six horse we rode came over the road and down onto Te beach and hit the sand and got a fright at the footing change, but they were all very brave really.

Castle rock and China in the lagoon

I have wanted to jump this rock since I was a kid, it's always at the base of the Sand dune though sometimes it's huge and sometimes there's more sand and it's littler. It wasn't big though wider than it looks. China wouldn't go near it but happily took a lead over it from the older horse and then was super brave. 

He absolutely loved the galloping and my braking was about 1/10. Dreadful but once he's running he stays straight and never shies. Galloping is serious business. 

My friends horse went out quite deep and then bucked all the way back in. Hilarious. 

Some of them didn't seem to mind that it was undrinkable. Not the cleverest. My second ride pistol was also pretty brave as long as he had someone to follow. Though struggled initially thinking the foam was solid. And uncrossable. Lovely horse though. 

When we turned for home on the second lot the wind had really picked up and the tide had come up some so we got absolutely soaked as the water they splashed up blew back in our ffaces basically and if you looked up the wind would wrench your head back by your helmet brim. Pistol also couldn't quite figure the waves and staggered left and right with the water as the waves came in and out. Still so much fun and the conversation was so hilarious and mostly very lame.  

Monday, May 9, 2016

XC schooling and Bob

Did I tell you guys that I had a horse in for schooling? His name is bob and he's nine and a real old school hunter type. I think he's quite gorgeous really though a little plain headed. So two days after the Hickstead day they had a XC schooling day over the same course and so I took both bob and China. China went out first and jumped most of the Pretraining (80cm/2'9") fences and did the drops into the water and he proved far braver than I rode him. I was too protective and so we had some ugly jumps when I should have ridden on a bit more. Still I was super pleased with him and he was really brave, though still green but had an awesome run home on him picking up fences as we went and even jumped a few training ones (95cm/ 3'1").

Bob had on first arrival not shown a great deal of talent over fences 

So the idea was to go jump solid fences and he'd learn to jump or not as it were. He actually proved to be very brave and though a little nappy for his first ever outing ( seemed like a million people charging around by the time I went out on him) but he was actually super. We totally clobbered the first roll top I jumped maybe five times before he got both his front end and his back end organised but  once he had it he was so good

As a strategy it worked super because now he's jumping like this 

Picture so you can see the old school hunter type of bob. Lots and lots of bone but lovely and forward for such a big horse

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hickstead day

So the local pony club ran a hickstead day (about two weeks ago, I was waiting for the photos but then he looked so awful and when he looked good my eyes were closed or I was laughing) which consists of a dressage test and then a xc course with some showjumpsmixed in. Seriously, China man is a seriously seriously green pony. He's only been off the track since November and I've only had him a couple of months so I really just wanted to get a feel for how he'd go at an outing like this, and make it around the xc regardless of how much he looked at things.

He warmed up for dressage like an absolute burger brain. I honestly thought we were going to end up bolting along behind the arenas in full race mode. And then he goes into the arena and relaxed and bopped around nicely. Like plenty of green moments and loss of attention, and his frame wasn't consistent but it was much better than I expected for such a green horse and he gave me some lovely moments. He ended up scoring around 34% in the intro class ( so set around 65cm or 2'3".)

Probably about one of my riding highlights happened as we walked back after walking the xc and the judge stopped me to tell me how lovely my horse is. She said you could tell he was green but that he was a lovely
Mover and had lots of potential and that it was nice to see a horse going forward. So that was an incredible buzz especially because China man is looking pretty rough with a Mousey winter coat and he still lacks some condition. I have since given him a week off and he has really picked up. 

He was an idiot to warm up again (sensing a theme here??? He gets really set on where the float was parked and he keeps falling in and out towards it and a few little bolts and the like. Super brave to the warm up fences though.

So we started off and he was so spooky to the first fence and napping to the float and we were almost past the bloody thing but I stayed committed and even though we were sideways and basically at a stand still he popped over and he was away. Still a bit nappy and inconsistent as he went out but he kind of clicked on and cruised along in a nice rhythm and didn't pull and was very bravely jumping out of stride. I don't think he'll stay a snaffle horse for xc though somehow.

Approaching the water I was like yea I don't know how he will be with this but apparently he loves water because he trotted through as bold as brass. Can me all take a moment to appreciate the trot on this Mousey little tb??!!

He had another couple of bobbles at te bank where he was like whoa how do I do this? And then wobbled and hesitated and scrambled up and then did the same
On the drop side but then rolled down beautiful to the final roll top and finished so well. I couldn't have been happier with him. As soon as he's got a job to do he gets right into it and he tries so hard. I'm so pleased with him. Oh and he ended up third which was really impressive.