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!!!