Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Much Needed Update Post

Believe me, I am aware that I have not been giving my blog the attention it needs. I have had so much going on in my life, that my blog has unfortunately had to take the backseat. But I'm back, and ready to tell those who read this about recent happenings.

Woody has been doing phenomenally well. I'm not sure if we're still on the post-Harry-clinic high, or if this is the new and MUCH improved Woody and Eden team.
I have ridden him a dozen times or so in the past month, which is pretty good considering how crazy I've been lately. Each time he is fine to catch, fine to tack up, fine on the ground, fine to mount, and we've spent most of our time together with my aboard. The first 5 or so rides I focused on trot to walk transitions. For some reason, he was really struggling with staying with me when he trotted, staying soft, and making a smooth transition to the walk. We worked on this for quite a while, and it seems like all that repetition of asking for a walk with my body, beginning with the reins, then having to come in strong with the reins for a back up really payed off. He is now fairly consistently able to pick up that nice soft trot he has, without rushing, and come right back down with me when I slow down. So that is success number 1.

The story behind success number two is as follows...
A friend right up the road from us has a horse she trail rides everywhere in our area. She knows the area like the back of her hand, and always offers to take us out with her. However, Mom and I have not been in a place with out horses where we feel comfortable with that, so we have had to decline each time.... until Saturday came that is.
I dropped by Lisa's house, leaving my phone number for her to call when she was ready to ride, and what do you know, she called me thirty minutes later when I was just about to halter Woody for a ride. She exclaimed, "Give me 20 minutes, I'll be right over!" So I tacked up, warmed Woody up, and Mom and I headed out with Lisa and her Tennessee Walker, Breeze.
We went down to the nearby golf course and back, and the horses behaved very well and were genuinely excited for the adventure. I walked, trotted, and even cantered Woody on the trail and he did exceptionally.
When we returned home, Lisa told me to call her again soon when Woody and I were ready for an adventure ride. I have called her and set the date for this coming Sunday afternoon.
I was so proud of both Woody and Charlotte for handling themselves so well. They didn't even blink at the cars on the Parkway when we crossed and after we cantered a stretch of the hayfield, Woody came right back down with me. That's a definite success number 2.

Terrie has also come to trim in the time between now and my last post, and she was able to give me a lesson in trimming. I trimmed one of Woody's front hooves while Terrie explained what to do and why to do it. It made a lot of sense and it was really good to get a hands on lesson with her regarding hooves.
I then tacked up Woody and the three of us went outside to have a lesson. I wanted help understanding finesse a bit more, so we warmed up then went to having Woody understanding a soft feel. He was really struggling with figuring it out, and yet another manifestation of his pushing through pressure tendency came up as he tried to push through the bit. I would hold in there and tell him not to lean on that, and eventually he was able to carry that soft feel really nicely for several strides.
However, when he carried it, he tended to suck back and not have much forward, so we then went about having him pick up that feel and have myself really exaggerate the "lets go forward" feeling in my body. He was able to get pretty forward and carry himself well for a couple strides, so we called it quits. That lesson gave me a lot to work on with Woody to get that soft feel consistently there when I pick up the reins.

I have been very busy, as I have already said, so here are some other updates...
* Charlotte has been on and off lame since camp, and Terrie believes it is an abscess in her front left hoof. We are waiting for it to come out, however Mom is convinced it is in her shoulder, so we have made an appointment with Randa, a friend who does Mao-Fascial Release with equines, for Charlotte on August 7. Woody will probably end up having some work done too.

* I am signed up for the Harry Whitney Bible Clinic in the end of September in Floyd, and I have been wanting to work it out so I can take Sassy with me, instead of Woody. Woody and I are in a great place, and although we are in no way done with Harry or anything, I think I would benefit from learning with Sassy from an educational standpoint, more than with Woody. She presents a whole new challenge than he does, and I can't wait for Harry to meet her and for us to be able to work together again. Terrie is in support of this, and we are still working out the details, but it appears that I will be taking Sassy with me to Floyd! In preparation for this, I am going to be making several trips out to Terrie's to work with her and get reaquainted with her, and while I'm out there, Terrie has given me permission to ride her other horses, and get experience working with and riding all different kinds of horses.

* I have been out to Joy's farm once since being back, and the "big babies" (7 PMU drafts) have come such a long way! We were able to pick up everyone's feet, which was a first. Joy also expressed interest in me coming out to help her with her Gypsy babies while their moms are gone (they are being bred), and teach her how to handle them and get more communication going and some ground manners instilled in them. I am looking forward to this, and she also would love for me to work with Mirage in riding him and getting him comfortable under saddle. OH BOY!

* I am officially enrolled in Virginia Western Community college, and will be taking three classes Tuesdays and Thursdays. I am dual enrolled, meaning I still have high school courses to finish, but I will be finished with my high school work at the end of this semester!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Vaulting Post

First, let me apologize. This post should have been published many, many weeks ago. And again, I am going to use the predictable excuse... I've been so busy! However, I want to fill all of you in on another important aspect of my week  in Tennessee before moving on to what is currently going on with my horses.
Maria and Arielle, fellow Harry Whitney students, own a farm right up the road from Mendin' Fences. They have a lot of experience in vaulting, which is basically gymnastics on horses. One evening they asked if I would be interested in coming out one day after the clinic was over to learn about vaulting, and naturally, I said YES! I have always had an interest in vaulting, so I jumped at the chance to learn more.
When we first got to their farm, after unloading their horses from the trailer, Arielle described and performed the 6 compulsory moves on the vaulting practice barrel. I then got on and she walked me through the moves again: rider's (or basic) seat, flag, mill, scissors, stand, and flank. Once I was comfortable with them on the barrel, we headed out to the arena with big Thor (their Clydesdale vaulting horse).
Arielle hopped on first and showed me the moves again while Thor walked out, then it was my turn. I went through all the moves at either a walk or with Thor standing still. I learned how to dismount properly, and also how to do "run outs" (where the vaulter runs out to get in stride with the horse so he can mount). Arielle and I did some doubles moves, and eventually I got to where I could stand on his back without holding onto Arielle as he walked.
All in all, it was REALLY fun and I really enjoyed getting the chance to learn more about vaulting. I am so thankful Arielle and Maria offered to have me over to learn. I have been looking into teams in the area, but the closest I know of is Blacksburg. I'll keep searching for teams in Roanoke, because I am very interested in being more involved with it.
Harry is a close family friend of Maria and Arielle, so he came out that afternoon and used his photography skills to take these cool pictures while we vaulted!