Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Prep for Schooling

Firstly, a lovely picture of gorgeous Spirit...
She's so pretty! She has stayed nice and clean since her bath this past weekend. :) Of course, as I just typed that, I'm sure she'll be practically chestnut with dirt the next time I see her. Such is the way with horses!

Well, we have our cross country schooling coming up this Sunday at Shepherd Ranch in Santa Ynez, and Spirit and I have been really getting down to business during our lessons. I'm definitely getting better at putting her in better balance and making sure that we "practice perfect" as much as possible. We had a great jumping lesson tonight and we've got another one on Thursday. =) Love my horse, love my trainer, love my ranch - love my horsie life!

Paint Horse Club 2010 Awards

I am so very proud to report that Spirit and I, as members of the Greater Los Angeles Paint Horse Club "GLAPHC", have earned the following achievements for the 2010 year:

Jumping - Champion
Dressage - Champion
Eventing - Reserve Champion
English Equitation - Reserve Champion
Halter - Reserve Champion

A really cool feature of our club is that you get to choose your own prizes! Basically you earn a certain dollar amount, and you can order items that you'd actually use - and most items include custom embroidery. Lots of other clubs just give you a standard item which you may or may not even need or want. I like that our club really rewards its members for getting their horses out there and showing them off to the world. Paint horse pride :)

For more information about the club, here is the website: http://www.glapaintclub.com

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Lovely Saturday Trail Ride

Spirit and I enjoyed a wonderfully sunny Saturday by going on a fantastic trail ride with 4 other horses and riders. We wandered up the Moorpark/Simi Valley trails and had some amazing views of the green hillsides as they start thinking about turning golden brown for the summer.
 My friend's horse passed his vet check, and we both gave our horses some nice baths before the ride. I feel so productive! I also managed to clean my bridle, but it was more of a maintenance cleaning rather than the deep cleansing and conditioning I had planned. Alas, I can only be so productive in one afternoon.

Here are some lovely roses at the Rancho...
Happy Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Training progress

We had our second jumping lesson this week last night, and I am just continually impressed by Spirit's attitude, willingness, athletic ability, and enjoyment of our sport. While Spirit and I normally have a "git-r-done" approach to jumping, somehow making it through our courses though sometimes painful to watch, this time Laurie forced me to really re-balance, slow down, and do things *right* rather than just get through. And I have to say, while it was an adjustment for me to mentally be more demanding of both Spirit and myself during a course, once I actually started riding between the fences it made a world of difference. I felt more confident when we reached the jump and Spirit was set up to jump much better. While on the one hand she was forced to use her body, on the other hand she liked that it made things easier for her. This week has been about control and balance throughout the entire ride, not just on the approach to the first fence.

Here are the specific concepts that I am working on right now:

  • Looking at the fence, rather than beyond it or off to the side. See this Jimmy Wofford article
  • Picking up myself and my horse immediately after the jump. Shorten my reins and demand instant re-balance.
  • Do not allow Spirit's right shoulder to fall in (tracking right/2nd direction), nor let it pop out (tracking left/1st direction) or let her over-bend her neck to the left. 
  • When I shift her body, do so with my calf not my heel. Squeeze, don't kick. Keep my heels down even when moving her body.
  • Keep her neck straight on approach to jumps. (This is a little intense at first - I'm looking at her neck instead of where I'm going, and I'm using my legs on her right before the jump, which she likes to interpret as GO-GO-GO!)
We've got just over 1 week until our XC schooling, so we need to get down to business and practice, practice, practice! Two more jumping lessons scheduled for next week, so more progress soon!

On another note, my very good friend is getting her new horse today! It's a lease-to-buy (a very gracious 1-month trial period) and I am so excited for her! Hooray for taking chances and getting a new companion! I'm hoping that our horses will become best friends and love each other...so far so good! Here's some pictures:

Looks like this arranged friendship is off to a good start! My friend and I are gonna have the cutest eventing horses ever! <3

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Goals & Schedule

Goals for 2012
1. Have fun and safe experiences.

Goal "on hold":
1. Get through a HT with a score (don't get eliminated from any section). Any level.

Event Schedule
January 22 - Clinic with Jil Walton at Galway Downs Fundraiser in Temecula - CANCELLED =(
February 4 - Meadows of Moorpark cross country schooling
February 19 - Galway Downs Schooling - One photo here 
March 17 - My wedding!
April 28 - ADOPT BOHEMIAN!!! - photos & a video here!
May 6 - Meadows of Moorpark Derby - CANCELLED =(

~ ~ ~ 2011 ~ ~ ~
Goals for 2011
1. Compete in a horse trials
2. Compete in a horse trials at the BN level
Goals technically reached @ June Shepherd HT
3. At my next HT(s), get through the competition with a score (ie, don't get eliminated & make it through all sections).

Competition Schedule
June 25-26 - Shepherd Ranch Horse Trials - Photos Here
July 10 - Camelot Show - Photos Here
August 14 - ETI Show in Simi Valley - Photos Here
September 17-18 - Meadows of Moorpark Horse Trials - CANCELLED  =[
October 22-23 - Ram Tap Horse Trials in Fresno. Likely my last show of the season. - Photos Here

Jumping Lesson!

Spirit and I got our first lesson since moving to Rancho and we had a fantastic time doing some jumping gymnastic exercises. Not only was Spirit incredibly willing and quick-learning, but I know that she and I both really enjoyed ourselves. We've got just under 2 weeks to get ready for our schooling at Shepherd Ranch, and she and I are both definitely up to the challenge!

Plus, over the last few visits, Spirit has made a huge improvement in terms of her ground manners. She is learning to stand like a lady even without crossties, and is getting bit-by-bit better with tacking up. All in all, she's doing great!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Back With A Plan

I love my barn. Our whole group is just fantastic. Case in point: a barn meeting this past Sunday evening. We all got together to plan our our schooling and show schedules, set goals for the different levels of riders, and share a wonderful meal socializing with each other. It was fun and productive - my two favorite states of being! I feel most empowered when I have a plan of action, and now I'm feeling much better about my eventing path.

So, here goes: mine and Spirit's plan for the next few months!

Saturday April 23 - Ram Tap Schooling, Fresno (I'm not sure if I'll go. We haven't jumped in weeks...)
Sunday May 1 - Shepherd Ranch Schooling, Santa Ynez
Saturday June 4 - Derby @ El Sueno, Somis
Sunday June 5 - Hunter/Jumper day show @ El Sueno, Somis, Derby @ Meadows of Moorpark, Moorpark
Fri, Sat, Sun, June 24, 25, 26 - Shepherd Ranch Horse Trials! Santa Ynez
Saturday July 9 - Dressage show @ Classic Equestrian Center, Moorpark
Saturday or Sunday August 13 or 14 - Twin Rivers Schooling, Paso Robles
Fri, Sat, Sun, August 26, 27, 28 - Shepherd Ranch Horse Trials! Santa Ynez
Fri, Sat, Sun, September 23, 24, 25 - Twin Rivers Horse Trials! Paso Robles

The two horse trials in bold are what I'm really gunning for. I'm not sure if we'll do everything on this list, and there are certainly some other clinics and schoolings and schooling shows we can do. But at least it's something to get on paper and have us strive towards. :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Getting back into training

Spirit and I have been settling in quite nicely at Rancho. The owners are not only sweet and personable but are excellent horse people who are concerned about safety and have good standards for horse behavior. They are the perfect balance of being welcoming while also not putting up with BS, which makes for a much less stressful barn environment. Spirit has been looking a little thin lately, but we've chalked it to the stresses of landslides and moving and more workouts now that the rains have passed, and we are hoping that she'll fill out over the next few weeks. We can always speed it up by giving her some grain or pellets, but for now she just gets hay.

Though we've been working on her ground manners consistently, a comment from the ranch owner has made me realize that her manners need a kick in the pants. The rearing when alone in the cross-ties seems to have gone away. I'm using treats and a whip to encourage her to stand quietly when I saddle her up - we're making good progress on that front.  While Rancho does have cross-ties, I've been mostly tying Spirit to the corner ties at the main cross-section of the barn so that she can learn to stand quietly no matter how much space she has next to her. So far, well, not so good actually. She will swing one way, swing the other way, swing over to say hello to another horse or person... Plus, when I take the halter off to bridle her, she tries to walk off. We've had issues with that before, but this has definitely gotten worse with the lack of cross-ties. Yep, time for stepping up our lessons in ground manners. I really love that Rancho has some patience poles. I haven't used 'em yet, but it is nice to know they are there and available.

As to our show and training schedule, the whole landslide and moving issues has put our entire barn back about 2 months. Basically, with our training, schooling, and showing getting put on hold for a few weeks, we are behind from where we thought we'd be at this point by amount 2 months. I've been stressing out about our lack of progress, but when my trainer helped me realize that all of us are in the same boat, I've started to feel much better. Sometimes things happen that set you back from your goals, but that's just part of life and we're getting back on track now. Unfortunately Spirit and I haven't had any lessons since moving to Rancho, but we hope to rectify that this evening. :)  I realize that Spirit hasn't done any significant amounts of jumping since before the landslide several weeks ago! I took her over a little crossrail the other day, and she practically went wild with excitement. The poor girl does love to jump. I guess that explains the few more bucks than usual that we've been getting!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Rancho, Sweet Rancho

We've moved! Found a lovely facility just 0.7 miles from the facility the rest of my barn is at, and Spirit is right at home. She loves her new 12 by 24 paddock - her favorite part is the shavings!
So far she's been in the round pen, two arenas, a turn out, and experienced the hot walker. Totally fine with the new surroundings, but doesn't know what to think of the cows quite yet.