Monday, July 25, 2011

The Appy Diaries: Rion rides and other exciting chronicles...

Three horses and three exciting stories!

The view from "up there"
Brandy's best thoroughbred impression
I don't have a current "new" pic of Ari, so here's an old one.
 Rion is going nicely under saddle. It AMAZES me what people DON'T teach horses. Remember, Rion was started before I had him, I started him over to make sure all the right education was in place. The first day I rode him, I kind of slithered into the saddle from the tallest mounting block. I had gathered that he wasn't going to be too keen on me stepping onto him for the first time, but he had no problem with me just being up there. So I slid on him the first two times and then tackled the mounting issue today. It took... 10 minutes? To teach him to stand to be mounted the traditional way. Really? We skipped that step the first time around? Of course we did. 
Big smiles for our first ride!
 Anyway, in the space of four (three??) rides, we're walking and trotting, moving away from leg, steering at the walk and kind of at the trot (the round pen is too small to really do much steering at the trot), very responsive to "woah". His gaits so far are very balanced. He is on the lazy side with me on his back, but is much more forward moving while longing than he was, so I'm hoping he will not be a kickkickkickkick ride in the end. He was already more "in front of my leg" today. I will probably ride him in the round pen one more day then move to the arena for more space. YAY!!

Good boy! Lots of pets!!
Brandy and I did our third training together and finished with just one rail. We should have had a 38 in dressage, but mom forgot her test and went down the long diagonal instead of the short... OOPS. Oh well! Honestly, we probably got the better end of the deal because our first free walk was AWFUL. She was high as a kite in dressage warmup, she wouldn't hold still or steer, for the most part, and was just wound tight. I didn't have a chance to let her stretch because... well... she wouldn't... so our stretchy work in the test was just okay. Our trot lengthening was lacking but we got good marks early in the test. Overall I was pleased. In the meantime, I've ordered Brandy a Micklem bridle to see if it suits her delicate sensibilities better. I'd thought about trying Ari in one as well, so I can test it on both and then order one in each color if they're happy in it. Spoiled.

Also, I don't have a picture of Brandy and I doing dressage in our new duds yet. I've been wearing my new navy coat and white breeches and I think it looks snazzy, but can't really tell. Will have to try to remedy that.

Our stadium was not stellar, we had kind of a rushed warmup and she was still fussy. SHE was good, I didn't ride nearly as well as I did at Midsouth. We had a rail in the triple... lots of long approaches and time for me to mess up.

Good over the first...
Not the best pic, but I LOVE her shape and SCOPE in this shot!!
And I love this one, too!
XC was BRILLIANT! I think I said something like "XC runs like this one make everything about this sport worth it!" after we were done. It was not perfect. Far from it. But it was educational. We were lovely to 1, 2 and 3. Four was a combination, down hill, and she actually sucked back a tiny bit to it, so I landed and OFF WE WENT to fence 5, a double brush we've jumped every time we've been out since we moved up to novice. I wanted her to go on and gallop it, so I didn't quite re-balance enough to it, which caused me to start riding a little backwards... to 6, a big table, and through 7A and B, a chevron combo... where we got four in a three and still took off a little long to the second. OOPS. I fixed it to 8 and 9, two skinny brushes, then blaaaazed up the hill in the infield in another long gallop to 10, a little log. No problem there, and then my nemisis... the ditch and brush... it scared the hell out of me. I ended up simply NOT riding the last three steps, but Brandy jumped anyway, bless her heart, even though when she finally caught sight of the ditch (when she was in the air) she would have liked to put on the brakes, but scrambled over for me anyway.

LALALA... there is no ditch... LALALA
Up and over!!
She was great the rest of the course, including skipping right through the full coffin and down the bank into the water. The weather was perfect, overcast, coolish, but humid. She recovered quickly and we were about 20 seconds under optimum time. ATTA GIRL!
Into the coffin... she's no dummy... she knows what is coming...
Panthers reside below!
Brandy makes a splash!
Last, but not least, Ari is back! Fitness wise, he's more than fine. We did 15 minutes of trotting over terrain today and he was barely blowing. We did a 2 or 3 minute canter at the end and he was hot but not out of breath. Thoroughbreds. Gotta love em. Strength-wise, he's definitely lost some ground. Unsurprisingly. I'm still getting the occasional "twist" in the left hind in the sand, but I'm hoping with more strength this will remedy itself. We can only wait and see. He did jump this week, just hopped around some 2' jumps, and he was fussy but willing (Micklem?!). The good news is that the "break" seems to have done us both some good, since my own balance, position and strength have gotten better, so his rampant head tossing is really easy to ignore and just put my leg on and send him forward. We'll see if maybe this breaks the cycle. It may just be him forever more...

Overall, a great July! Now, if only this heat would break for day or two so I can regroup and have a day without dripping sweat!

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