Monday, March 9, 2015

schooling two steps back

Saturday we headed over to OF to use their arena for schooling. Trainer P was out of town, so no lessons. And the fix-a-test was rescheduled again - this time for April. Ugh. 

Whatever - I'm pretty tired of all this scheduling nonsense... but at least it meant that we didn't have to rush around anywhere and weren't on any time table but our own. 


Which turned out to be a good thing, since Isabel came in from the field looking like the red headed step child that she is. That pic above doesn't really do that snarl in her mane justice... So you'll just have to take my word for it lol. 

obligatory loose hair pic

Plus princess is finally shedding in earnest. She's been shedding ever so slightly for a few weeks, but it's really starting to come out now. So she got a once over with a hard plastic curry (acceptable, in her book), then a jelly scrubber (less tolerable), followed by a vacuum session and some quality time with the body brushes. 

not entirely sure what happened to the bottom of this pic lol

I'm realizing that all the traveling has had an unfortunate side effect of making me rush through the basics like grooming. So it was an unexpected relief to just hang out brushing my mare and making her all purty. (And - shockingly, she seemed to enjoy it sorta too!)

fun side story: Isabel was intently watching a horse being ridden in a far off field, and I thought she looked very cute posing - thus the picture. Except, right when I took this pic she whirled around (note that she's not tied) and I had to run after her to catch her... oops!


We don't usually like to go to OF for plain old schooling. Even tho their arena fee is the lowest in town it still feels like too much given how small it is... but it was the only arena available that morning and turned out to be a ghost town anyway so we had the ring all to ourselves. Not bad! 


Given that the plan for this week involves more frequent riding than we've had since November, I want to keep our schooling sessions fairly light. I want to find a balance of mostly giving Isabel her head and letting her move out - but not like some crazed drama llama. Mostly I just want her to feel stretchy and loose and keep those muscles warm and moving. And she did quite well during this ride - and was almost surprised at the freedom from constant nitpicking lol. 

We hopped over the jumps a couple times (an X up one long side and a vertical on the center line) and she was mostly good, if a little exuberant. I needed to package her up a little bit (esp given the tight turn up to the vertical) in order for us to find a reasonable distance without feeling a little flat. But she was fine, and did everything I asked.

another pic of the rare two legged pony, still staring at that horse running around in the distance

The only thing I worked on in earnest was backing. Isabel really resists backing up and rarely backs straight (or halts straight... or does anything straight haha). I recently read in Jec Ballou's "Equine Fitness" that backing the horse is a good limbering exercise, esp for horses with unevenness from side to side since the legs move in diagonal pairs. So this struck me as a nice low-intensity exercise to engage Isabel mentally and help her build a little more strength. 

Plus, OF has mirrors so I could line Isabel up with the wall (cheating a bit lol) and use the mirrors to make sure we stayed straight. At first the mare was resistant and fussy. But after going back a few steps, then forward, then back, then stuck, then forward, something clicked and she backed up for 5 or 6 steps nice and straight and without being braced and hollow through her neck and back. Definitely something I want to do more often!

23 comments:

  1. "Not like some crazed drama llama" YES. I know how this feels! :D She is just too pretty! <3 Also another thing for backing up exercises is to do: back a few steps, then forward in walk, then trot for a few steps, then halt, then back, and then forward in walk and then in trot. Or then go straight from rein back to trot, it improves Vallu's trot massively!

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    1. ooh thanks - that's a great idea! i mostly kept it pretty simple this go round since we had essentially finished the ride, but my friend was still schooling so i wanted to do *something*... but i'll try that next time!! the fitness book i read also recommended backing up a hill as a strengthening exercise, so that's on the docket too (but will probably be done in hand lol)

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    2. I love the above exercise Roosa mentioned too - really helps get your horse listening and the transitions sharp, and of course the added bonus that it makes them use their bum!

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    3. great points - and both areas where we need work. isabel is super reactive and loves to go fast - but that combo frequently tricks me into *thinking* she's listening sharp, when really... not so much haha

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  2. I am looking forward to shedding season being over! I'm usually wearing back and Apollo's white hair gets all over me. Lovely photos of your girl! :)

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    1. right? i love what shedding represents, but all the hair?? not so much. it ends up everywhere!!

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  3. Isabel was clearly gaming you with that beautiful pose, just waiting for you to let your guard down so she could make her escape!! I too have just started working on backing, and the reinback to trot exercises mentioned above. I have to be careful though because Murray now thinks every halt is followed by backing up. He's also a crooked monster so much to work on there....

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    1. haha right? tricksy mare :)

      and yea - you're right about the backing exercises making every halt turn into reverse gear... definitely something i need to watch for! but my impression is that the exercise is valuable enough to make it work

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  4. Wow, that's a lot of hair!

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    1. it always surprises me bc she doesn't grow much of a winter coat.. but still sheds a ton all the same lol

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  5. She is such a beautiful color! Rein back is an awesome tool!

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    1. she tends to think of rein back as a punishment (since whoaing is terrible and reverse is even worse lol), but i think she actually figured it out a bit after this ride

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    1. i love having mirrors in the ring. i learned to ride with them, but have only had access to them intermittently over the last 10ish years. they definitely help keep me accountable for my position tho!

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  7. Shedding = spring = JOY! She looks so darn cute! That's so neat you had mirrors for reference.

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  8. My device is making commenting so difficult! Grr! Anyway..I was just going to say I had no idea that backing up was a limbering exercise so thanks for that bit of info! Whenever we do backups in lessons my trainer always has me count to five at a halt before backing up just so Max doesn't think stop means back up!

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    1. haha my mobile device always messes up my comments too lol... and yea i didn't know about backing being a limbering exercise - but it makes sense when you think about how their legs move and how the pelvis kinda rocks back and forth. the trick, tho, i think is for them to be soft through their necks with their head down - no bracing. good point about establishing a solid halt first tho - i'll try that!

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  9. I'm so jealous that you have a vacuum! I want onnnneeeeee

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    1. they are really so so so so so worth it!! i bet you could get a pool of boarders to go in for one together

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  10. How do you like the vaccuum? Ive always wanted one

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    1. it's amazing - the best grooming tool ever. i actually wrote a post about it here: http://fraidycateventing.blogspot.com/2014/09/vacuum-vacuum.html

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  11. Dude i want a vacuum so bad!!!

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