Thursday, 6 February 2014

Jumping fun!

I dutifully made the great treck over to my coach's arena this morning. I luckily managed to trick Miss Tea into thinking it was feeding time rather than travel time, and got her haltered without any chasing for a change. Usually when she sees me go anywhere near the truck and trailer on my way out to her, she is gone to the far corner of the paddock. Trailering is VERY scary for her.

It was -22 this morning as I headed out, but dressed so warm that I could barely tell what temperature it was, and I am very fortunate that the barn I ride at has a heated tack-up area.

Miss Tea was quite frisky and jumpy when we started. She hit an empty box with her tail in the hallway on the way into the arena and leapt like a Lipizzaner and kicked out at it with both feet. Great start...

After apologizing for our disturbing entry, we got started and soon were trotting and warming up our horses and ourselves. I was riding a group lesson with a lady I had never ridden with before. Of course, I had to steal moments to see her riding ability and position, just to be sure I wouldn't be the worst rider. Turned out, we were both about the same. Phew!

We trotted poles in a circle, which Miss Tea had to look at and practically jump over every time, worked on leg yields, serpentines and then canter. Why is cantering SO exhausting? I can make it around the arena maybe twice at the canter before I am huffing and puffing and wanting to cry uncle. You would think I was doing the running rather than my horse.

Finally jumping! First ground pole, two strides and little X, then one stride, pole. Good. No spook, kept my eyes up and it felt nice.

Then coach added a second X to make a bounce. This would be my first bounce with Miss Tea. Survived! Not great, but went through. Next few times were much more smooth.

Finally added third jump, two strides off of bounce. Miss Tea had a HUGE look. She started gawking at the last jump before she hit the first ground pole and we ended up having one big sloppy stride before the first X and then I managed to just push her through with a lot of mane grabbing, clucking and very huge jumps. Ack! So ugly to watch, I am sure. The subsequent trips through went much better and left the lesson happy.

Can't wait for next week!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Nasty weather seems to exacerbate horse madness...:)

I must get my rant over this winter's never-ending bombardment of snow and unusually extreme temperatures that just seems to go on and on with no relief, has left me in a quite a funk. Every degree it drops, so does my mood. However, I am just crazy enough to wave my middle finger at all that snow and try to get in my horse time regardless of frozen hands, frozen tack, frozen ground and very fluffy horses! It seems the more things get in my way of doing something, the more I want to be doing it.

I have been taking my Miss Tea over to a local indoor for lessons once a week (or as weather allows). Miss Tea is doing very well in lessons and I am having so much fun getting real riding accomplished. It is all so very basic at this point. I am a total mess in the saddle and have discovered my legs are ridiculously weak! Between my weekly lessons, I find I am walking true cowboy style, hobbling along trying not to look like a complete moron, but simply unable to walk normally because of my sore muscles.

Miss Tea is a seven-year-old Quaterhorse, but does not look it at all and I am hoping to make her into a nice little hunter-jumper. We don't canter very well yet, and collection is still not there, so lessons are tons of trotting, working on my position along with her flexion and use of her hind end with leg yields, serpentines, and the dreaded no stirrup work (possibly for my coach's personal amusement).

The end of the lesson is some jumping work over small cross rails with ground poles so I can start learning to control the length of her stride. We are also doing a combo so I can learn to count strides. Alright, now here is my problem: I have discovered my ability to count to five goes out the window while on a horse cantering toward a jump!
My mind fills up fast on a jump line:
Keep weight in my feet!
Don't grab the mane like a sissy unless I really have to!
Is Miss Tea going to spook at that second jump...?
Don't swear too loudly!
Oh, right, One, Two, ...five-I mean, what number am I at?!

Multi-tasking is just not my thing. But in this crazy world of horses and dreams we all have to improve, I have to believe deep down that I will someday learn to count!