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)