Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I'm back!

I am sans wisdom teeth now and back in action! Werther had almost a week off, Dr. Sarah was able to get his hocks injected on saturday. I got to the barn early yesterday and turned Werther out in the indoor before I got on. He galloped, bucked, and did some impressive stops. The weather was really nice so I was able to have my lesson outside. Werther started out a little stiff in his neck, and not wanting to move off his outside hind leg. As Sarah put it, Werther can't be trusted to do any stretching on his own! I was also a little rusty, I had to fight against my instinct to try and put pressure on the inside rein which Werther was leaning on when I should have been giving with the inside rein and taking a stronger feel with the outside rein. We did some 10m circles at trot, really focusing on getting Werther to stretch his neck and bend his body which helped, then we leg yielded out. After a break, we worked on our canter transitions, they were so much better. I actually got what Sarah has been telling me about sitting back for the transition, and it feeling like Werther is jumping out in front of me. If I can get that feeling consistent, I shouldn't have a problem with training level. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Sarah said Werther was very good for her on Monday. Werther must have used up all his good will for the week, because he was definitely a little bit of a brat with me. After warming up, we started working on a very forward trot, while still maintaining a nice frame. Werther was less than pleased with this development, and tried to suck back a couple times and when I corrected him with the whip he kicked out. I think we are reaching a new stage in our relationship where I have gotten good enough at riding him that I can actually make him work, and Werther can't do whatever he wants. I think he is testing me to see if he can intimidate me into getting his way, and after a couple good working rides where I don't let him take the upper hand, he will acquiesce. The canter transitions were OK, I had one really good one at the end. We spent a good chunk of the lesson on halt walk, at trot halt transitions though the walk. This was very challenging work. We used the quarter line, so I didn't have the wall is a crouch to help me keep Werther straight. I really struggled with getting the halt exactly were I want it, I would prepare too much and he would die before the spot, or I wouldn't prepare enough  and he would go past it. Getting an energetic walk after the halt is going to be very hard, and if I don't have enough impulsion it is going to be near impossible to stay straight.  Also maintaining the frame in the halt, so I don't have to do too much to get him round once he is completely still is going to be tricky. I just need to practice, but I have to do it in such a way that he doesn't anticipate too much. Werther got his feet done today, he was supposed to get his hocks injected today but the vet could not make it out, and now she says she can't make it out till monday which kind of irritates me. I'm getting my wisdom teeth out on Friday, so I wanted both of our times off to coincide, and if he gets his hocks done on Monday he misses a ride with Sarah and I miss my lesson. If she can't do it tomorrow or friday, I will just have to aim for Wednesday of next week. 

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Friday and Saturday's rides

I didn't get a chance to ride on Thursday, I had a family obligation, but I was able to take care of some things at the farm and turn Werther out in the indoor for a little bit, so he got a chance to roll, run, and buck. The weather was amazing on Friday, in the seventies so I rode outside. It was my first time riding outside when I was at the barn by myself. I was a little worried about being able to get on outside, the mounting block is smaller and lighter, making it a little more precarious. Also, there is not as a effective place to position Werther, in the indoor, I make him stand next to the viewing area, so he can't turn when I mount him. In the outdoor, it is hard to create that kind of chute. Werther was excellent, we had a lot to deal with, including dumb people honking at us from the road and someone shooting their gun in the distance. He was a little looky at the walk when he didn't have enough to do but other than that he was very good. I ran through the first intro test again and the trot work was better. One thing I noticed in the outdoor, we have definitely come to rely on the walls of the indoor for support with the bend. When I make a big circle in the outdoor, Werther is much more difficult to bend when we are away from the rail. This is something I really need to work on. 

Saturday's Lesson

I've been working on getting all my equipment organized for showing, and I think I finally have all of my tack sorted. I got my metal stirrup pads screwed in place, a grab strap for my saddle, show pads, a new browband, and a pretty new KK ultra snaffle, Werther needed a size bigger than what we had been riding in. The new stirrup pads were really helpful, it gave me just enough "stick" with my weak left leg, I was able to keep my stirrup the whole time. I got a new fleck whip, 120 cm, slightly longer and more flexible than the whip I have been using. It was so helpful, it was much easier the reach behind my leg, and I didn't have to use it as much because the flexibility made it much more effective. Our trot work was really good and I was able to get some really nice leg yields. We were back in the indoor because it was really windy out, so I'm sure that was a factor as well. We spent some time on the walk trot transitions, one thing Sarah said that was really helpful with the downward transition, is to think about making the trot steps smaller before you ask for the walk, it made a lot of sense. The canter transitions are still not 100% but getting better. When I asked for the canter the first time each direction the first time, he didn't respond to my leg, so I gave him a firm tap with my whip and he bucked, but afterwards was very good for the subsequent transitions. We also worked on the halt, he gets a little impatient, I need to practice it more. 

Showing question

I tried to buy some plain white show shirts for Ariat, but I was swimming in them so I am sending them back for a smaller size, or possibly a different brand. Any advice on good show shirts? Coolmax a must, and I don't like the zipper look or short sleeves, I think it looks too casual. My hunt shirts were usually by Essex, and I like the white with blue or pink lining inside the collar and cuff, but would they be OK with the collar unbuttoned for waived coats. 


Edit: sorry for random post, I was testing emailing photos via bloggers email post feature. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


The guys rolled and dragged the ring for me this weekend, and the weather was nice enough I got to ride outside for the first time in about five months. I had Sarah ride Werther outside on Monday, since it has been such a long time since he was out of the indoor. Sarah said Werther was very good. I went to take Werther outside and he was sure the new statue in the picture above my Mom had delivered that day, was some kind of horse eating demon lying in wait for him. After some dramatic giraffe poses and snorting, he pretty much got over it and we went into the ring and got to work. Werther was fine, but I didn't ride very well last night. I had two days in a row off, so my left leg was tight and I had trouble keeping that stirrup and my balance was off, I had to work really hard to sit further back and get my center of gravity where it should be. On the circle I had some trouble being effective pushing him away with my leg, and he kept falling in on his shoulder. The canter transitions were slightly better, but no major breakthroughs. The one thing I am really happy about is that I memorized the first intro level test and road it for the first time. The second half was much better than the first half. We were really good about having a clear define bend in  our turns, and the circles were decent. The biggest challenges are going to be keeping impulsion (especially since I have to look like i'm not making an effort in the ring!) and the upward transitions. The hardest one was after the first halt, he walked a little crooked off, because I didn't have enough impulsion. I hope he gets just a tiny bit jazzed at the shows, it would really help me out!

Good news, Wesley is still hanging in there! Dr. Sarah came out and looked him on Monday, she thinks his swelling is down a little bit, and when I saw him on Tuesday night he seemed very bright eyed a chipper, in spite of his current difficulties. We are going to monitor him very closely, but this is better than I ever hoped for. I talked with Dr. Sarah tonight, she agrees with me he is a tough old guy, if any horse could pull though it would be him, he certainly likes deifying the odds. 

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Werther was really good yesterday. We did some serpentine work which we have not done in awhile. I got to do three loop serpentines, which I was better at, the two loop ones that go the longways of the arena really mess with my sense of space for some reason. We also did some shoulder in work which went well. I finally feel like I have the on the bit work for the walk and trot down, our big challenge right now is transitions. Because Werther is so lazy, in the downward transition from the walk to the trot, he wants to die and fall in on his shoulder. So I have to get him to keep going forward even in the downward transitions and keep a firm contact with my outside rein so he can't fall on his shoulder. The walk to trot is getting better, I still usually have to nail him with whip at least once before he moves off my leg, but it is getting better. It is the most difficult after we take a long walking break, because Werther thinks he is done. The canter transition is still the most difficult. He is still getting inverted in the transition. There was something new though, Sarah had me make him go in a really forward trot and get him round before I got into the canter, and he kept wanting to break into the canter. This is much better to me than offering that speed up into a faux extended trot rather than canter, but I have to make him canter on my terms otherwise the quality of the canter will just be mediocre. My biggest problem, and probably the majority of the cause of my troubles, is  that I am still not comfortable taking a feel in the transition. All my hunter training makes me want to throw the reins away to make him move forward. The last couple transitions, I felt like I had better control over my hands. I think things will get better, it will just take some time. I just really need to take my time in the canter transition and do everything very deliberately, and not rush anything. Werther is teaching me to be a good rider, he is well trained, but he does not have much tolerance for inaccurate riding. At the same time, he does not have the ambition to spend the energy it would take to get mad about it, he just won't give to you until you ask right and proper. 

Friday, April 10, 2009


I took some pictures out at the barn today, hope you enjoy!

kind of funny angle on this one, I was holding Wesley and I was trying to keep him from eating my phone while I took the picture. Left to right the horses are: Beckham, bay, 3 years old by Accord III; Curly, grey, almost a year, by Cassini II. Orvis, chestnut, 2 years old, by Orleandro.

Again, trying to take a pic and keep phone from being eaten, accounting for the wonky angle. 

The boys getting bored and going back to playing. 

Werther, wearing his Dressage bridle Karen gave me. Now Werther's dressage makeover is complete! 

Free Friday

No work today, so I spent a long time at the barn in the afternoon. I cleaned and oiled tack, washed brushes and boots, and did horse laundry. Werther has been really good, he has been really round in his topline, but he is also going very slow, I need to work on impulsion. My focus the past two days has been transitions and my equitation, mainly moving my elbows and sitting deep in the saddle. I also spent a long time grooming Wesley, he was happy for the attention. He is still not doing very well, his left hind is stocked up as well, and the has some swelling on his stomach. He is however, still eating and drinking well, and all body functions seem to be working. Dr. Sarah is going to come out and evaluate him on Monday, but I don't see this thing ending well. I'm kind of at peace with it right now, but I know when it actually happens I'll be devastated. I've decided I don't want to be there when they do put him down, I would rather think of him the way he is now. Even though this is incredibly hard, it is not sudden, like a young horse with a broken leg or colic you expect to have in your life for a very long time. The girl who owned Wesley is a few years younger then me, a former boarder. I asked my Mom to talk to her dad, so she knows the situation and can come out and see him if she wants. I think if I tried to talk to her, I'd just start crying, and it isn't the kind of news you want to send someone over the internet, so it is probably better this way. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Just got off the phone, Mom said Wesley was looking better today. Still not out of the woods yet, but I'm feeling a little bit more hopeful. I'll see Wesley when  I go out to hack Werther tomorrow and I plan to spend a long time at the barn on Friday since I have the day off. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lesson / Wesley Update


Lesson went pretty well considering I'm so worried about Wesley. Sarah was very kind and took it easy on me today, but still gave me enough to work on I was plenty busy. Sarah said her ride with Werther went well, I'm kind of blanking on what she told me... I believe Sarah worked on getting Werther to come on the outside rein, and getting him more "thorough" she also worked on his hind legs, said he tends to canter with them either too fast or too slow. We talked for awhile about his walk. Sarah said Werther has a tendency to do a lateral walk, instead of a true four beat walk. Sarah said this is most likely from being pushed too collect at the walk too early in training. She also said there is not much you can do about it, but put a strong emphasis on making sure the back is relaxed in the walk and make an effort to do hill work at home. We spent a lot of time working on transitions, which are getting better. Most importantly equitation wise, moving my elbows with the horse and keeping my butt in the saddle. Also worked on going forward and maintaining the bend. Werther was lazy today, feeling very tranquil, as Sarah put it. I was glad for it today, I  really don't think I could have handled any antics. 


Wesley still not looking very good. I'm posting a picture below of his swollen sheath, if that sort of thing upsets you skip it. He seemed in good spirits though, I went into his stall and talked with him for awhile and gave him treats. He was his usual sassy self. I don't know how long they are going to wait to see if the antibotics and bute fix it, but as the saying goes, I am preparing for the worst but still hoping for the best. 

Monday, April 6, 2009


Got some bad news today, Wesley is not doing well. His hind leg is swollen all the way up to the sheath , the vet thinks it is related to his melanomas. Dr. Sarah put him on antibiotics and bute, so hopefully that will help. We've done everything for Wesley we know how, Cimedidine and a new tumor vaccine which is new but has shown to be successful. This horse has been so good to me, I'm just going to be heartbroken when the inevitable happens, but I hope we can get this fixed and Wesley will stick around for awhile longer.  

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Saturday's Lesson / Show Prep


We made a lot of progress in Saturday's lesson. I felt much more organized as a rider. We spent a lot of time working on my position, especially at the sitting trot and canter. I feel at least like i'm getting better, but I'm still far away from what would think of as being a good seat. The hardest thing is taking all of the separate components of good equitation and getting it all to work together in harmony. For example, I've found that when I get really focused on my hands, I will hold my body away from the saddle and get thrown off the correct posting diagonal. I have to really work on my self awareness, that will be a good project for when I am hacking. I know how to post correctly, but riding hunters I was never called upon to do quite so many things at once. We spent a lot of time working on the canter transition, trying to fix the issue where Werther just wants to trot faster instead of actually canter. We did a lot of half halts, and really worked on setting Werther up, so he could not get away with getting into that fast trot and throwing me off balance. We got some good transitions out of him, but Werther's facial expression looks like someone who is about to be tortured. I think as soon as Werther figures out I'm not going to hang on his face, that will get better. 

Show prep
I got the two dvds I order from the USDF the levels DVD and one called "Lower Levels with Olympians". My two favorite lectures from that DVD were Hilda Gurney and Robert Dover. They seemed to break things down into small enough particles where I could actually understand. The levels DVD is also helpful, I have a test booklet so I can follow along, but I wish they had an audio track which just listed the movements.

I went to the tack store after my lesson. They are ordering a Kentucky show coat for me, it is really pretty navy blue with a velvet navy collar and gold buttons. (They can't make me give up all color yet!) I think it will look really good with Werther's deep chestnut coat, and the cut of the jacket actually fits over my chest! I tried the Pikeur and RJ Classic as well, no way the Pikeur was going to fit. I also bought new metal stirrup pads, really nice ones that screw in to the iron. I made a list on Dover of all the rest of the show stuff I need to get, now it is just a matter of writing the check.