Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Endless Plateau

So the last couple days I had 3 really really good rides jumping Rosie, Cordi, and Simply. This was one of those times when I realized how much better the horses are going and how much better I am riding than a year ago. People say you sometimes seem to be on an endless plateau and all of a sudden you realize that things are all of a sudden better. It doesn't always seem like you are improving but every day things build and build and one day you think, wow things have really changed.

So my first ride was on Rosie, she tends to be a little excited so we took her for a hack first to quiet her down a bit. We got back and I warmed her up and trotted over a couple fences. Once I started cantering around over a few Denny had me come to a slightly larger vertical. I haven't jumped Rosie that much and always relatively small, no bigger than 2'9. Denny then had me come to an oxer, she was quiet and calm and just loped down over it. He kept raising it and having me come back to it several times until it was right around 3'3". I was really trying not to rush her and to keep everything slow and quiet, especially coming out of the turn. Because of this she broke to trot a couple times and I had to circle but overall I had a great quiet canter to the fence and she just effortlessly jumped the fence. I have learned with Rosie that if I need to slightly move up to the distance I can't just but my leg on and have her go because she will go too much, I just have to soften my hand and she moves right up in a calmer manner. We have never jumped her this big before, it was great to feel how easy it was for her and not have her get over excited about it.

I jumped Cordi right after and it went along the same lines as Rosie. Cordi would get a little too aggressive last year so Denny wanted me to try and just keep her really quiet and in a soft packaged canter. This actually turned out to be pretty easy to do on her, it was a slower, more collected, canter than I normally jump her out of. At first when we were jumping a vertical (probably 3'6") she wasn't quite sure what to do, getting slightly deep out of the collected canter. She really figured it out and jumped through her back, using herself really well. We came around and kept jumping the oxer like with Rosie, Denny kept raising it until it was right around 4'. I needed a little more pace but still a more collected canter than I would normally have had. It was really nice to be able to come to the fence with a really soft hand and have her just power off the ground over the fence. In the past I wouldn't have been able to just wait for the distance staying really soft with a slower more collected canter. I would have run at the jump a bit and probably left long. Just a year ago Cordi was having a hard time holding her canter to a rail on the ground, it is so nice to see how much she has developed over the last year. I am happy that I am getting more confidant and competent in my jumping making me more relaxed coming to the fences.

The next day we jumped Simply doing the same thing raising the oxer and having her keep coming to it. Simply has a bigger more powerful canter, and she is younger, making her harder to keep together. I feel like her canter is getting better all the time, even a month ago I couldn't have put her canter together as much as I did today. Again, with Simply, we jumped her bigger than normal, probably around 3'3" but out of that slower more packaged canter. I was happy with how much more ridable she was, she doesn't have as quiet a canter as Rosie and Cordi, SImply is very powerful and hasn't developed the strength to hold it yet. It was great to be able to practice the same things with all the horses in slightly different manners. Basically with all the horses I just need to stay quiet and relaxed in a good canter and let the distances come, with out rushing it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Cross Country Schooling AGAIN!

Today I trailered Millie to Meri Secrist's farm to cross country school. She was absolutely fantastic! I couldn't have been happier with her. I wanted to get her out to a few different places to school before going to Southern Pines I and this school made me feel like she is really ready to go!

I tacked her up and hacked down the long driveway to the path to the cross country course, Karen McCollum met us there on her horse Pearl. I walked Millie around a bit and then trotted and cantered her around. Millie was TERRIBLE at going down hills last summer, this year she is so much stronger I could canter her down the hills without feeling like she was going to fall down! She feels so much stronger, fitter, and more confidant than last year. I warmed up cantering over a small box a few times and then did a small picture frame to a small stone wall. She was a little backed off to the picture frame but the second time around jumped it fine. We then went down and I cantered around over some logs and things and popped the tiny ditch. She was great a positive to everything, she went up and down a small bank and even did the half coffin! She is so much more game now! We went to the water and she just trotted right in. Meri has a great big water complex with every size drops in. We trotted out over the small bank and then dropped in over the same one, Millie didn't hesitate or anything just plopped right in! She was so good! I then cantered the long way across the water and out over a log and back in over the log. Millie left out a stride both times going out over the log, I saw a good three but she just left the ground at 2! I trotted out over the log one more time so she could see she could get close and just pop it.

I really feel like Millie is ready for Southern Pines now! If all goes well she should be able to go Novice up north!

Sunday, February 27, 2011


So today I got to school cross country on 3 horses (I actually jumped 5!). Starting the day out I knew I was schooling Millie xc but I had no idea we were going to xc school Cordi and Simply until after I was warming up. I almost put on my snaffle for Cordi because I just thought we were doing gymnastics, when I got to the ring and started warming up the other person in the lesson said she wanted to do xc with both her horses!

Cordi was just right on for her first time schooling in several months. I felt a little out of it the first few fences, I needed to get back in xc mode and "remember" what to do haha. Denny had us go do a small course with 6 or 7 fences to just get in the groove. By the end of the course I felt like I remembered what to do! I was so happy with Cordi's lock on and go attitude today while still being ridable. She was a little squirley but if I started galloping far enough away from the fences she was usually settled by the time we got to the fence. After doing some more of the galloping type fences out in the big field we went to the double up bank. Denny put a vertical one stride at the top so it was up, one stride, up, one stride jump. Cordi just bounded up and over the banks and vertical like it was nothing. I haven't done that with her before and she had no question about it. I think all the gymnastics we have done with her have helped her really figure out her foot work. We finished with the water, Cordi jumped in very boldly over the cross rail. She seems really ready to compete and this was the first school in months!! I couldn't have been happier with her!

I rode Simply right after, we warmed up in the arena over an X and a couple different gymnastics. Simply seemed pretty quiet, we went out and popped a tiny log to another small oxer, landing over the oxer she started bucking down the hill. We jumped a couple more small fences and she didn't do the bucking again. When we went out into the big field and did a course of 4 jumps spread out she was nice over the first 2 and let out a huge buck and leap a few strides after the third fence. We totally got off the path to the fourth fence but I managed to turn and quietly jump that one. She isn't usually much of a bucker but did it again when Denny started his car when we were moving to a different field. It was funny because she would be ok and then explode a few strides after landing. She is very bold though, she gives you the feeling that no matter what you put in front of her she is going over it. We took her to the double up bank (which she hadn't ever done) and walked her up and off the bottom part and then trotted her up the 2 in a row. She just popped up them like it was something she has done everyday. Same thing with the ditch, she acted like it wasn't even there! We again finished with the water, we walked in and out a couple times and then I trotted out over the cross rail. When I turned around to trot back in over it Denny said "Now don't trust her, she may quit," she jumped right in so positively, I was really happy with her. I am sure the exuberance was just because she hasn't been out in the open jumping in a long time!

I rode Millie later with Denny on Skybreaker, we did a bit more warming up in the ring. We did some bigger gymnastics before heading out to the xc course. Millie wasn't as high as she tends to be, I think the heat was a big help :). I found the running martingale helps a lot, when she wants to spook and throw her head between fences it helps keep her more together. I rode her in a full cheek Dr. Bristol slow twist which seems to be a lot better. She does NOT like anything with leverage or poll pressure, I learned that after trying lots and lots of bits haha. So we did the same course that I did earlier with Cordi, I felt SO much more "in it" after 2 other xc schools! Millie was great, she was galloping well and being very positive about the fences. There are 2, not skinnys but pretty narrow, fences on a bending line out in the back field we did. I would guess they would be a training question, Millie was a little wiggly to them but jumped right over both in a row. This makes me feel so much better about having Southern Pines 1 in two weeks! We popped the ditch and water on the way back in, both things she jumped really well. We ended up cantering into the water and she just felt great! I can't wait to event now!!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bernie Traurig Day 2

So the second day of the clinic was pretty cold in the am, so I again lunged Millie before we started! She, yet again, was very high. When I got on Bernie said to warm up a bit on our own. Millie was fairly settled by this point and I worked on some canter halt transitions to get her more responsive to my aids. She was MUCH better about coming back when I asked today. We were working on courses today, at the beginning Bernie would just tell me what jump to go to but by the end we had 4 or 5 in a row planned out.

Bernie had me start out with some large bending lines, always trying to add the stride with Millie. Bernie wanted me to have a slower canter than I previously would have had, this helped me be able to add the stride and keep her more together. After she was being responsive and getting her leads with the larger turns he started having me do tight roll backs, sometimes telling me what jump two or three strides away. Millie was really good with this, again the slower more collected canter helped me make these turns and kept her balanced. When we went to the pre planned course with 4 or 5 jumps further apart Millie stayed pretty quiet about it. Coming out of one of the corners I saw it a bit long, Bernie said, especially with a young horse, it is really important that when you see it it may be long or short to always add a stride. From this point on I got better about making the decision to add. On one of the lines Bernie wanted me to halt after landing over the first fence, when I did this I didn't release enough in the air expecting the halt. Bernie said you really need to not inter fear with the horses jump, even if you are going to halt on the landing, give in the air then ask for the halt. I really focus on this and she jumped softer and still halted fairly quickly. Today I felt like I had a much better ride, the horse was more responsive from the exercises we did the day before and I understood what Bernie was looking for.  

I also lunged Cordi before I got on just to take the edge off. When warming her up I made sure she would go forward with out protest and that I could get her back by doing some canter walk transitions. She seemed better about everything today, Bernie said that when doing transitions forward and back in the canter that I should match her negative reaction from my leg with how much I ride her forward. If she flicks and ear back and swishes her tail, just press forward with my leg, if she bucks or kicks out, really kick her forward. She didn't do any of the above so I was able to just go forward and back with no protest.

We started cantering up over a jump, when we started off the right we landed left, when we jumped off the left we landed right. Cordi got her lead every time but especially coming off the left, I would cut the turn to early and accelerate through the turn. Bernie wanted me to keep the slow balanced canter all the way through the turn and try to see my distance from further away. I usually try to see from 3 strides but I started to get a feel for where I was to the jump out of the corner. I couldn't defiantly say "I am seven strides away!" but I was more aware of whether to move up a bit or wait more before I saw the 3.

Instead of doing courses Bernie ended up having us work on set lines where we needed to get the appropriate distance. We started with a pole 3 strides from an oxer, this I found was easy, you just land and it is an easy 3. The pole was moved to 4 strides which I found similar, when we got to 5 strides it started getting a little harder for me. I knew from yesterday I needed to go forward the first couple strides so I could steady the last 3 but it wasn't until we got to 6 strides that my problems from yesterday came out. I would again wait to long to see my distance and gun it the last 3 strides. I found if I counted down instead of up that helped me a lot so that I was at my regular 3, 2, 1 the last 3 strides. It took me a couple tries at 7 strides to get the forward 4 to a balanced 3. I kept wanting to sit the last 3 strides but Bernie wanted me to stay in my two point. This was something I was not used to doing at all but, when I did do it the distance worked better. We then did the centerline with a pole, 3 strides to an oxer, forward 7 strides to another oxer. The first time I again did not go forward the first few strides of the 7 and yelled "I'm sorry!" haha. The next couple times I did it right! Then Bernie moved the pole to the oxer we were previously working on, to 8 strides. This took me several times to get right, I wasn't sure if I was thinking I was going forward enough until the last 3 strides or if I was just waiting too late to do anything. I was really trying to go forward but then Bernie said I was doing too much with my hand while asking her to go forward in the line, the next time I came around and really gave my hands she did the 8 strides perfectly!

I was really happy with what we did in the lesson and what I figured out. I think starting with the rail before the oxer 3 strides and moving it further and further away was a really good exercise for me. I want to work on similar exercises so that I can get really good at seeing 6, 7, 8 or however many strides are in a line, rather than landing going a bit and seeing the last 3.

Bernie and I last year during his clinic

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bernie Traurig Clinic Day One

So, Bernie Traurig came to Tamarack to do a 2 day clinic February 22 and 23. I rode Millie and Cordi in it both days. Both horses were wild and needed lunging before I even rode them! Millie was first and I knew I needed to kill some energy so I planned to take her to the ring early and lunge her. Good thing because she was so high! When I got on her she was pretty settled but still had a lot of energy, luckily we spent a long time warming up and working on jumping flatwork. Millie was the demo horse for one exercise, Bernie had me take Millie on a small circle around him and do an opening rein with direct pressure and when she would give and bend her neck in, release and allow her back to the normal bend. We did this a few times to get her more supple, luckily she was very good and proved to be a good demo horse! We worked a lot on halting and backing up, turns out this is a great exercise for Millie, it gets her much more responsive and more alert of what I am asking. We even did it in the lines when she was wanting to get too forward. The first day of the clinic was all about gymnastic lines, and planning distances.

We started with a pole on the ground, six strides to a cross rail, then had to do a bending line to it in seven and a direct line in 5. This went pretty well, I had to halt Millie after the cross rail sometimes if she was getting running. We did some single jumps and then went to the box trotting four strides to an oxer eventually adding a long five to an oxer. My biggest problem throughout the clinic ended up being that I wait the first few strides and then have to gun it the last 3 to make up the distance. I think one part of this is that in lines of more than 3 or 4 I don't count until the last 3 strides. I really needed to practice landing and counting to 5, 6, 7 or whatever number of strides there is because when I count and get to 4 or 5 I get really confused because I am not at 3, 2, 1 I am at 5, 6, 7. I don't know if this will make sense to anyone else but....haha. The other part is I just don't react quick enough to GO and then balance the last few strides. This came up on both horses. So all of the exercises we did were focused on executing a line in X number of strides, usually having to steady of move up to the distance. It wasn't until the second day that I really got it!

We also addressed the problem with Millie drifting left (which I hadn't realized we had!). Bernie had me trot a vertical with a take off rail and really open my right rein and have her land on a small circle to the right. On the first part of the circle he wanted her to give in her neck and bend right. We did this several times until she softly stayed to the right and didn't even think about drifting left.

So I rode Cordi right after Millie and had to run up and switch tack quickly. I was bringing Cordi down and she seemed a little up but I didn't think too much about it and got on. Once I started trotting she got really excited and would leap and buck, she did this a few times but then we all stopped to get our headphones for the sound system and when I went back out to trot she really jumped in the air and then stuck her head down and bucked. Denny told me to get off and go lunge her in the Dressage arena. She galloped and bucked around for 10 min straight. When she finally settled down I went back to the arena and she was fine. Cordi also got to be the demo horse for the opening rein with direct pressure to get the horse to give. When we were working on jumping and landing on a certain lead, I was very good at having a leading rein to the right and Cordi landed on that lead every time. To the left I needed to put a little direct pressure on the opening rein to get her to land reliably on the left.

 I had similar issues with messing up the distances by not going forward soon enough. On one of the approaches I sent her forward and she swished her tail and half bucked, Bernie said she really needs to go forward off my leg better. He had me take her around the arena and do transitions from the gallop to the canter and canter to gallop several times. At first she would buck and kick out and he had me just push her though it and really go forward. This helped a lot and really got her moving off my leg with no protest. This then led to her not responding to my half halt, so Bernie had me do several canter walk transitions. At first I couldn't get then very promptly but she got better, again something I really need to work on!

I felt like an idiot and that I just couldn't get the distances right the first day after my rides. I watched the rest of the day and saw that people and horses of all levels made similar mistakes as I did and that made me feel a lot better about it!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

New way to warm Cordi up

So the last few days I have been playing around with ways to warm Cordi up. She tends to be behind the leg when I first start out and when I ask her to go forward in the trot she will break to canter, occasionally she will buck. Once I do canter her, usually off her back at first, she is much better and more forward. So I was trying to figure out if there was a better way to get her forward and loose without her getting upset about it.

I tried just trotting around with a loop in the rein so there was no confusion about going forward, my leg was on and she had nothing in the bridle to make her think maybe I didn't want her to go. After I cantered I went back to riding normally with a soft connection. This seemed to be a pretty good warm up, there was no drama, she swished her tail a bit when I asked her to go forward but didn't get upset.

The next day I was in the indoor because it was so rainy, again I thought I would play around with how to warm her up. This time I tried to put her deep, super deep. I put her nose down by her fetlocks, I didn't even know she would go that deep! I walked with her that deep for 10ish minutes, doing a lot of circles and changes of direction. I figured I may as well try and trot her that deep and see what happens. I figured she would probably try and come up when I asked for the trot, but she didn't! I was so surprised she went into this forward swingy trot that I don't normally get until at least half way through the ride. She felt amazing! Again I did a lot of circles and changes of direction, she stayed deep and through and over her back. I couldn't believe she had no reserve about going forward she was motoring along really well. Normally indoors she is less forward and I have a harder time getting her to go. When I went up to canter I couldn't keep her quite that deep but she stayed through in her transition. I kept her somewhat deep in the canter and when I went back to trot I brought her frame back up to where I normally work her and she was so steady. She stayed nice and forward and I was able to work on some lengthening and smaller figures without her trying to slow down or get unsteady in the bridle.

I worked her the same way the next time I rode and got the same results! I am going to keep going with this new warm up routine and see how it goes!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Jumbie is learning how to jump!!

So Jumbie is catching on to jumping quickly. She doesn't seem to care about anything, just jumps what is in front of her. Often she actually just trots over it rather than jumping it but still we are going from one side to the other in a relaxed way! She has now jumped 4 times and acts like she has jumped many more!

The third day we jumped her I was riding with several other horses and she was a bit high. I lunged her for a few minutes just to take the edge off, she lept and ran a bit but settled down quickly. It is better when jumping a young horse (or any horse really) to start with them quiet and relaxed, they need to think jumping is no big deal. If you start with a horse that is up and tight they will likely be nervous jumping which will lead to problems such as rushing fences, running out, or quitting. So once Jumbie was settled I got on and trotted and cantered her around. I then started trotting over some of the small jumps in the ring. She pops over the colorful boxes and step jumps just like the cross rails, quiet and relaxed. Denny put the step jump up a little bit so Jumbie would actually jump it, she came to it just as quiet as the others but actually put some effort into it! He then had me pick up a canter and come to the step jump. Jumbie has an amazingly balanced canter for such a young horse, from the very first time I cantered her I couldn't believe how well she could hold it. When I came around to the fence she was fairly easy to adjust and just popped over it!!

She was being so good Denny had me come around and trot the barrel jump, she just got to the base and jumped it! Coming to it Denny yelled "Get ready to get bucked off!" Haha we thought she might skyrocket over the jump but no, no drama! Then Denny said to come around and canter it, again Jumbie just cantered right up and over it! We did it a few times and then took her out for a short hack. I was amazed at how relaxed and ho-hum she was about everything!

A few days later we jumped Jumbie again, she was very relaxed so I just got right on. Denny was teaching 2 others and jumping one himself so I figured I would just jump a few and be done. Denny was going to work on a gymnastic line with the other horses in the lesson but after I was all warmed up he had the first bounce lowered and had me trot Jumbie to it. I wasn't sure what she would think of the bounce but just as with everything else Jumbie just popped through it! Her foot work wasn't quite right but, come on who figures the horse will get their first bounce perfectly! She went and tried and that's what counts! I came around and did it a couple more times and she really figured it out! Sometimes it is the second time around that the horse will stop, the first time they don't know what they are doing but may come a second time and think hey what was that?! Not in Jumbie's case though! After the bounce Denny had me trot around to the panel jump we have, it is a pretty spooky looking jump and again Jumbie didn't hesitate at all. This jump, however, was different, she really jumped it! I think it was big and spooky enough that she really used herself for the first time! I then got off and loosened the girth but kept Jumbie down in the ring so she could just relax and "hang out" with all the other horses jumping. I think this is just the way to start a young horse, jump a few fences a couple times a week and really try to set up success so the horse becomes confident and competent. No big deal!!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cross Country Schooling

Today we went to the Carolina Horse Park for their cross country schooling day. Caitlin Romeo trailered us over, she rode her Intermediate horse Jake, Hannah Mayer rode her Morgan mare Viz and I rode Millie. It was not only a cross country schooling day but also the first Pipe Opener (a combined test) so there were lots of horses there. Millie has never been anywhere like the horse park, she has only been to smaller venues. She handled it very well!

After the last time we jumped I wanted to try a different bit, Denny suggested the "Timmy bit" which is very much like the "wonder" bit. It is a loose ring with a fixed slot for the check piece and a fixed slot for the rein so it has some leverage. This is often the first thing we try when a snaffle just isn't cutting it. Some people feel if you can't ride in a snaffle you can't ride while other think there is a right bit for every horse. Denny is all about finding the perfect bit for the horse, to do that you have to try a lot of bits! I don't think the Timmy bit is the perfect bit for Millie so we will have to keep playing with different bits in the future.

We warmed up in a big flat field, when I started trotting around Millie seemed a bit fresh, she was very alert and kept trying to look around at what the other horses around were doing. Sometimes Millie likes to stick her head right down and crow hop a bit so I worked her with her head a bit more up. For this reason I sit in the canter at the beginning with her, once she felt alright I got off her back and let her move on a bit. I then warmed up over some logs and she was pretty good. She tends to want to get flat the last few strides, I need to sit earlier with her to get her back in a more packaged canter before the fences. I felt like she was opening her mouth and putting her tongue over the bit when I was trying to set her up so I asked Denny to tighten her flash a hole. The next time I came around she shook her head badly before the fence and I had to pull her out. I asked Denny to try just taking the flash off since she was pretty good with the hackamore with no flash. This made a world of difference she was not arguing before the fences at all, she still wanted to get flat but was more rideable.

Caitlin on Jake, Me on Millie, Hannah on Viz
 We ended up doing the training up bank one stride to a log with a dropping landing. Millie wasn't too sure of her foot work the first time but came around again and did it very well. We played a little with the water, the water complex at the horse park is MUCH bigger than anything Millie has seen. I wasn't sure how she would react to it but she just went right in! We wandered around in it and then did a jump a few strides away from the water, went into the water and cantered around the island. Then we trotted into the water, cantered out and over a jump a few strides away. Millie did really well, I was very happy with how she handled everything. I am very glad we went to school because I think it would have been a lot for her to take in at her first event of the season!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

So Thursday was my birthday, turned 25, now I feel old! It was beautiful out and we ended up jumping most of the horses. Little Jumbie did her second jump school, really just trotting over small cross rails, verticals and boxes. Very casual just learning to go from one side to the other. She  doesn't seem to care about it at all and just trots over most of them with out even really jumping. We really just want to keep it cool with the horses just starting jumping, we don't do much but will we will jump her every 3 or 4 days. This will let her feel like it is just part of the routine and no big deal.

I also got to jump Cordi, I was very excited that I was going to be able to jump her today as we haven't jumped her much at all. I was expecting to just do a little and not jump very big but Denny ended up having us jump some bigger oxers. Cordi is fun because she wants to go and jump the jump. The first jump after we have been sitting I usually have to get her forward to but after that I just have to set her up she goes on her own. She is such an amazing jumper she is fun to jump at any height but when the jumps get around 3'6" or bigger she is a blast! We did a small course and then Denny had me jump our stone wall, which probably isn't quite 3' to the brush oxer which was set around 3' ish too. Then I did the two stride with a fairly small jump in and a bigger jump out. Cordi is small but can make up the distances easily. Sometimes I forget this when I haven't jumped her so I gunned her in the 2 stride a bit and got close to the out but she just came up over it. The second time I didn't and she jumped it really well. Then Denny had me keep coming around to the brush and he kept raising it and raising it until it was 3'6" or 3'9" and she got to just the right distance and cracked over it, she felt amazing! I really love jumping this horse!

Well if jumping Cordi wasn't enough of a great birthday present I also got to jump Millie. Again I figured it would be little jumps, maybe some gymnastic lines or something. Starting out Millie was very fresh but once we started jumping she settled down. I warmed up over some small stuff and she was trying to run through the hackamore a bit (we ended up deciding the hackamore won't really be the best "bit" for Millie). Denny had me do the same brick wall to the brush as he did with Cordi and immediately had me keep coming back to the brush. She was wanting to elongate a bit the last few strides so she didn't have to really sit and come up over the jump. Because of this Denny kept raising the oxer to make her have to try. I came off the left (easier, longer approach) and the right (which made it off a tighter turn so she would have to sit more). He just kept raising it until it was around 4' maybe a little bigger and Millie just kept coming down and jumping it like it was no big deal. I have only ever jumped Millie, probably, around 3'3" in the past, I was so excited by the way she just came down with no concern and just powered over the jump. I am really, really looking forward to competing Millie and Cordi this summer!

So I ended up having the perfect birthday, jumping 2 of my favorite horses over some bigger fences!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


So the last time I jumped Millie I felt like I needed a different bit. I jump and flat her in a KK loose ring and I didn't feel like I needed a harsh bit or anything just something different. I had told Denny maybe I could just try a thinner snaffle, she just gets pulling forward and down. I have to sit REALLY early coming to a jump so that I can get through her pulling stage before I am really setting up for the jump.

So, Millie ended up with a small bit rub and so we gave her a couple days off and found a hackamore to hack her in for a few days. Yesterday Denny wanted to just pop over a few jumps, I had the hackamore on. I hadn't ever ridden in a hackamore before, Denny said just ride normally. Millie seemed to have a little less steering but not anything to really note. I started trotting a few fences and didn't notice any real difference. When I started cantering I really noticed a difference! Millie was not heavy or pulling! I could sit 4 or 5 strides out with out her fighting or running through me. I could not believe how much better it was. We didn't jump many fences but decided to jump again today, we did a bit more and I cantered a course and again was amazed by how rideable she was. I am not sure if it will still be effective enough when we jump bigger (or for cross country) but I am very excited about trying it more.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Over the last few days we jumped most of the horses on the farm. Denny really likes to take is slow with the young horses. We trot a lot of fences with them and keep it simple. This allows them to build confidence in a stress free way. When the horse is allowed to figure out what to do before the fence on their own when trotting, they gain tons of confidence in themselves. If you canter the horse right off the bat and dictate where exactly they need to take off from they will not necessarily learn to help you figure it out. There are few people who can get in to every fence on every horse perfectly every time. If you miss you distance and your horse has had to help you figure out what to do in the past he will likely be able to get out of the situation. Sometimes when a horse has only been ridden by a really good professional who gets in prefect all the time and is bought by an amature the horse doesn't know what to do when he gets in wrong.

Anyway, one of the days I was riding Rosie, Denny's off the track thoroughbred mare. She is coming 5 this year and has done some jumping with Denny this fall. I have been riding her since we arrived in Southern Pines and aside from popping her over a cross rail in the indoor a few times I haven't really jumped her. As I mentioned before she can be a bit hot at times and so we have been riding her in the indoor to start with. It is funny because even if I only ride her in the indoor for 15/20 min and then go outside she is, well has been (knock on wood!) perfect. The other day she was very quiet and Denny had me trot the cross rail still set up in the indoor, she trotted very calmly over it. After that Denny decided to go to the outdoor and if she seemed quiet to jump some of the small jumps there. Rosie was being perfect so I trotted her around and popped over some of the small verticals and small boxes we have. I was quite awed when she came up over the purple planks. They were quite shiny in the sun and she felt amazing going over them, she really came up with her wither and cracked her back over them. She was so good we went out to the cross country and jumped some of the small elementary fences we have. Rosie is a very good jumper and seemed quite confident, she didn't look at a thing. This horse could get fried pretty easily, if we just galloped her around and made her jump all the novice jumps, sure she would probably do it but we would probably create a rusher and eventually a rusher and quitter. Not that we won't start cantering her to jumps more but if she is having a high day, we will just trot her and if she is still high we would probably wait until another day. You can't have an agenda with babies, you have to be very patient.

We had a similar rides on Atti and Simply the next day. They are more experienced than Rosie and tend to be quieter. We trotted them over some slightly larger fences in the ring and then went out to the cross country. They were perfect and just trot trot trotted all the jumps without feeling the need to accelerate or run at the jumps. I was pretty happy Simply wasn't worried every time Atti would go off and jump leaving her behind. They were turned out together in the past and were amazingly bonded. In the past anytime Atti would leave Simply would get very upset and would tend to rush a bit to the fences trying to get to Atti. They have been separated for a few months now and are much easier to ride together. We were just about done and were hacking back by the double up bank, Denny walked Atti toward it to let he sniff it and she jumped right up on to the bank and up the second bank. I figured Denny did it on purpose so I just kept walking and Simply jump popped up them. Denny hadn't meant to go up them but the horses are so confident and are getting so programed to just go jump the jumps with no nervousness. It was pretty funny!

When I was jumping Millie, just warming up I knew she was in a bit high. When I was just cantering around she kept trying to grab the reins and scoot off. When the other horse hit a rail jumping Millie went leaping into the air, she is normally a pretty quiet horse but has her days! Denny had me start trotting some jumps and she tried to just throw herself at the fence. Again, not normally Millie, so we decided to just trot all the fences today. She is quite comfortable, and pretty adjustable, cantering fences but the point of today was to not let her get upset/worried about it. She needed to stay calm and remember jumping isn't some big thing to get worked up about. By the end of the ride she was trotting to the base, rocking back and jumping with ease in a quiet, controled way. It was nice to see her change from wanting to run at the jump to me being able to loop the reins and have her set herself up for the jump.

Diamond Camilla (Millie)

I also got to jump Cordi for the first time in several weeks. I was pretty excited, she is my favorite! I was in a lesson with Denny on Skybreaker and Laura on John Burgesses' horse Stevie. Cordi has done much more jumping than the horses I ride and she doens' necessarily jump as well if the jumps are too tiny. So we jumped her a bit bigger than the other babies, only around Novice height. For not having jumped her in a while I felt pretty in tune with her. It is important for me to keep Cordi in a packaged, energetic canter. She would like to get long to the fences and if I keep her more together but forward I can make adjustments much more easily. She was a little bucky to a couple fences which means I was probably using my hand a bit too much. She also hasn't been asked to sit and carry her canter much lately so that may have had something to do with it as well. She felt really good other than that! We didn't jump many fences because she was being so good and hasn't jumped in so long, so we kept it short and sweet!

Beaulieu's Cool Concorde (Cordi)