Friday, 19 August 2011

I'm going to have to switch to Youtube

After it took Blogger about 100 years to actually upload my other 2 videos earlier today I may have to set up my own youtube account to host my little videos.  However, for now the post below has been edited to show all the videos I meant to be there in the first place.

And now, for some cuteness, here is what Felix does right after his ride/bath every time.

Last week

In honour of breaking 1000 page views this week, I've finally put up a cute little custom banner!

On to the real story:
Felix has had a great week.  I am still paying Devan for pro training because I'm too fat and out of shape to ride for more then 15 or 20 minutes at a time at trot - and maybe half an arena lap at the canter. Also, my position is an absolute DISASTER. I will be posting some pics and vids so you can see how he is going, and I'll keep my fingers crossed they don't land on the Bad Riding blog.  I am accepting suggestions for any excersize program that needs no equipment, can be done easily while traveling and takes less then 30 min a day.

I rode 3 days last week, and Shauna had her first ride.  He's doing very very well, and now that he steers more or less properly I am trying to start him on some basic dressage patterns and w/t transition acuracy - which is going quite nicely.  I'm also working a little on his free walk, which is pretty horrid but we will get there. He just does not know to stretch down when I drop the reins yet, but it'll come in time.

Here is a couple of short videos showing a trot down the center line then a halt as is often found in entry level eventing dressage tests:

He seems to get a bit bored with extended walking,  and is a bit fidgety with the head, as seen in this video. I remember going through this with Dottie to a small degree, so I hope with time it'll go away.  It may also be his way of offering up a bit of a frame in the walk, as I believe Devan has been working on this with him:

Shauna did well in the trot too - she's a little floppy but that's only becuase this is her first ride in nearly 2 years, and really 3 since she's ridden consistently.   As you can probably tell - Felix is definitely the type that you need to tell to go forward, which suits me just fine - though he's WAY more quick off the leg now then he was a month ago:

And here is some various riding and pose with the pony pics.  I'm thrilled that Shauna loves him, seeing as I'd like her to keep paying half the board!!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Old Photo Albums - the Sequel

Contination of the post from last week:

The first summer after I returned to riding, my most fabulous coach Sandy gave me a couple of weeks of job teaching camp kids.  We had 2 groups, I did "classroom" type stuff and games while she taught the riding portions of the day. These pics were taken on "learn to polo the retired shool horse" day.  All of these kids are now well out of high school, and I have kept in touch with a few of them.

 This was also the summer I decided I wanted to compete more in Eventing rather then the H/J shows I had done before.  In the spring of 2004 I went to jump judge at my first show, and from then on I was totally hooked (even though it was a long, rainy COLD day in may!).   These are some pics of me and Casper at my very first entry level event at Glen Oro Farm in late August of 2004 (pictures taken by Christina Handley):

About two months before the above event, I brought home my first and last free lease.  His name was Bo, and he was a delicately built and honestly a little fugly OTTB. 

Bo and I went to two combined tests together, both in the spring of 2005.  The first one, held at Glen Grandview Farm we went Cross Country schooling as well, the 2nd at Equus 3D was just the combined test.

We had planned on going to a full event in June, however Bo had some serious issues with the trailer from day 1, and I couldn't hold up my ride to get him in the trailer.  He went home to his owner in July of 2005, as I had moved away for a job (and moved in with a new boyfriend), and decided to let the lease go.  Bo wound up being sold to a buyer who had come to try him with me - she was a young dressage rider who absolutely fell in love with him, and as I understand it she still has him.  It was a good place for him as he never 100% enjoyed jumping.

I took another year and a half break at this point, I tried to keep up school horse lessons, but after the job I moved for turned out to be a bust, I couldn't justify the 2 hour drive to the barn and my coach I loved, so instead I tried working as a stable hand for a local eventing facility.  This lasted for a couple of months, untill I realised the farm had no intention of ever letting me actually ride, which was the reason I took the job. 

In early 2006 my grandmother died, and I moved back home.  Shortly after this I started taking weekly lessons again, untill the lesson barn closed due to the owner's devorce in 2007.  Casper is still happily living with our local equine vet, and many of the other well loved schoolies got great homes.  One of the ponies went to a friend of my coach, and is actually now boarded at Sandy's new farm.

Not long after, while Sandy was working on a new place for her students, I met Heather.  She had a small farm at the time, and wanted help on weekends so her family could  go on vacations without worrying about the farm.  She had several horses I could go take on trail rides, and this worked out well for both of us.  In late September of 2007 Heather brought Dottie home.

Dottie was a long 3 year old, and was intended to be a lease horse for me.  Only hitch was, she was not even halter-broke!  I was certain Heather was trying to kill me, but after only a month or so of consistent handling she was handleable, mostly catchable, and consistently longing and long lining. 

Dottie was an interesting little mare, and I learned a ton from her.  She was quite easy to start - we had actually intended to send her out for a month or so of training, but everything seemed so easy she stayed with us instead.  For Christmas that year, Heather decided to give Dottie to me - and needless to say I was thrilled.   

Sometime during the winter ot this same year, Heather picked up Ivan.  He was 7 years old, unbroke and ungelded.  He was also a big, pushy jerk (but not nearly so bad as Felix!!). After about a month of boot camp, he was fairly easily handled and rideable - in ways he was even easier then Dottie, he was certainly more lazy. I don't have too many pics of him - but here is a couple:

He eventually went on to be a school horse, and was of course gelded - but he was actually nice enough that with the right handler he could have been kept intact.

In  May of 2008 Heather and I went to a Clinic with a dressage instructor named Sue Rothgeb.  She was very good to work with, and I enjoyed it and learned a lot. Here are a few pictures from that:

 In the winter of 2008 Dottie and I moved to a boarding barn so we would have a full sized arena for the winter.  She loved jumping, and we had every intention of getting her out eventing in 2009.  There were some setbacks, one of them involving changing her saddle which did not agree with her back and caused some training issues.  I had finally gotten these fixed, and we were working on some grids one day.  I got too far ahead of her into the first jump, and she tripped badly over the 2nd.  She flipped over, and fortunately for me I was flung free before she fell, as I would probably not be here today to tell the story.  This is why your coach gets on you to not jump ahead of the horse.  It's not just unsightly, it also throws off the ballance of the horse and can cause a younger or more unbalanced horse to fall.   She and I kept trying to get back where we trusted each other all winter - did a fair bit of hacking and such.  This was taken on Boxing Day, 2009.

This winter I also met my current guy, Zack, and wound up doing a lot more traveling as he's from Florida and works all over the US.  Dottie went into nearly full time training with Sandy at this point, which went very well.  In January the decision was made to sell her.  I always said it was because I didn't have time, but the reality that I never wanted to admit was I was afraid of her, and felt that I'd never feel safe enough to acheve my goals.  She had too much potential to keep as nothing but a trail horse, so in June of 2010 she was sold, and now lives with Paige.  They are a much better match, and even though I occasionally regret having sold her, there is little I can do about it now. Here are a few of the last pics I have of her, that were taken for her for sale ads:

In the summer of 2010 I took a couple of lessons from a great lady named Heather out of Boldventure Farms in upstate New York, as that's where I was staying at the time with Zack.  She had me ride a fantastic OTTB named Zulu.  I wish I could afford more lessons with her, but unfortunately everything horsey is super expensive within a 200 mile raduis of NYC

And this brings us up to around present time.  I did not ride for at least 10 months before I bought Felix, which shows when you see the upcoming pics of me riding that were taken today - that update will follow tomorrow :)

Friday, 5 August 2011

What happens when I go through my old photo albums

I figure it's time to give my readers a little bit more about me and my history - just for fun.
I started riding around age 12.  There are a lot of pics I've lost over the years, but I do have a few that I found and scanned a while back. 

This was Harry - he was a grey ArabX that was a school horse - and as you can see the first horse I ever went to shows with. This was a schooling show in Orillia, ON the second summer I was riding.  We did flat classes at this show because I had my very first fall in the lesson right before the show - I got into the warm-up for the jumping classes and got scared, so 3 flat classes for me.  I learned at this show that not only is flapping your elbows unsightly, but it's also a good way to make the judge DQ you because he thinks you're beating the horse with every stride.

The other 2 girls in this one are my younger sisters - the littlest one is Shauna, Felix's Co-Owner. She's 19 now.

After this I had a few more years of regular lessons, and even tried to show again the following summer - however "my" horse was diagnosed with moonblindless just the week before show season was to start, and I had not yet clicked with any of the other school horses. This fun little horse, named Casper was just purchased by the farm, and after 2 years of lessons I guess I was considered on of the more experienced students, and was the second person at the farm to ride him.  He's an adorable little Arab, so I was thrilled by getting to ride him - that is untill I asked for canter the first time and got do do 3 laps of the arena at a gallop before I could bring him back.

At this pont my very first coach was fired on quite short notice from the farm I had been riding at, we followed her to another barn, who had quite a mix of interesting school horses.  There was Jack, who was an OTTB retired Dressage horse - he's the horse that taught me how to properly ride a horse "in a frame", and was just a joyful experience.  Then there was Jasper, a cute little black Arab who had the bounciest canter I have ever ridden - and also was the only horse I've ever ridden that just could not jump. He jumped like a goat - sort of straight up, then land on all four feet on the other side, not exactly fun, but an interesting experience none the less.  The last horse I rode here that was memorable to me was a little dun QH named Silver.  He was a little greener, and taught me that just because every other horse you've ever ridden will let you duck under his neck in the cross ties does not make this a good idea.  In fact, he taught me a lot about proper horse handling on the ground, as he had to be handled very correctly in order to remain safe.

Not long after this I took a nearly 3 year haitus from riding, partially because my coach was fired from 2 barns within about 6 months, and we just couldn't follow her around from farm to farm anymore, and partially because my father's buisness was being divided up between partners and there was little money coming in for a while (I came to know this later, I was not privy to it at the time of course).

At 17, I actually came back to the original farm I had been riding at, with the new coach that was teaching there - the coach I will never, ever quit, her name is Sandy.

This was one of my first rides back - Chance was a retired hunter show horse that had done very well back in his day.

This post is getting quite long, so I'm going to continue it in the next few days to bring us up to present time.