Monday, May 16, 2011

Good Ride, Bad Ride....

Well, I got two rides in since Thursday, and I have to say - they were the polar opposite of each other. That mare does not have the slightest bit of predictability. You literally get on and wait to find out what kind of day it is going to be.

Thursday night I hopped on, warmed her up, and then decided to tag along with Robyn and Tori, who were doing conditioning work around the lane. We have an incredible mile-long lane that borders the farm with various terrain to do conditioning work. I usually avoid the lane like the plague with Delilah, especially if it involves going faster than a walk. There have been too many hairy incidents in the big wide world of the lane...

Well, Thursday night I put on my big girl pants and asked to tag along. I have to admit, my heart was pounding most of the first trip around the lane. Especially when I realized that even though Delilah was throwing out a huge trot with massive extension, she would still have to canter periodically to keep up with the 16.2 huge-strided geldings leading the way. Let me say one thing - previous attempts at cantering out on the lane have ended up in a strung-out head-flipping freak attack, so this was looking scary.....But by the time we go halfway around, I realized she was totally with me. She was listening to my seat, she was coming back to a trot when I asked her to, and we were having a blast. We went a second time around the lane, trotting most of the time, cantering a few times, and the whole time I had glorious visions of galloping cross country on the powerful little mare beneath me. Delilah glistening with sweat after working HARD on the lane!!!

I gave her Friday off because the conditioning work was a LOT compared to what she has been doing lately. Then Saturday I had a massive attack of LAZINESS and ended up not even going to the barn. Sometimes you need to go to brunch, lay around, take naps, watch movies, and nurse kittens....Yes, that's right, nurse kittens. Because on Friday the 13th, LB (who everyone SWEARS was a boy kitten) had kittens. She was lying in the tack room with one kitten, trying to deliver the second and obviously having trouble, so I took her home to look after her. It was a rough weekend. The second kitten was stillborn. A few hours later, we found a third kitten. They were trying hard to nurse, but didn't seem to be getting it, so I bottle fed them through the night. They did fine all day Saturday, and then Sunday we lost both of them - one overnight, and the other one in the afternoon. It was heartbreaking. So we had two tearful burials in the backyard, and now Mama Cat is resting and hopefully recuperating.

So I tacked up Sunday for a ride with mid-level expectations. It was warm, but not too hot, she had two days off, so I planned to get on and see how she was that day. UGH. She would headflip, then trot around like a million bucks....headflip some more, then go around looking like a million dollar hunter school horse.....Back and forth, back and forth, for no discernable reason. At one point she seemed to have calmed down, so we hopped a little crossrail. She proceeded to canter off whipping her head from side to side. Of course I couldn't stop on that note, so I hopped a different crossrail and got a quiet canter off and a halt transition at the end of the arena. I tried to go back to a little flatwork afterwards, but it was disastrous. I pulled out every trick in my arsenal, but could not find the solution to the head flipping that particular day. I finally had to get three good steps and quit.

So, the summary of the last few days - we are one for one. :-) Here's to hoping for a better ride next time....

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

GREAT ride!!!!

So, I went out last night with high hopes of beating the rain, and it turns out, we did! The North Carolina summer weather is starting to roll in, which last night meant HIGH humidity and fairly high heat. In other words, five minutes into our trot work, we were both glossed over with humidity and sweat. Horses are such a glamorous life!

The upside to the summer weather is that Delilah can be a total star when it starts heating up. My trainer has always described Thoroughbreds as "weather vanes", which is so true. The slightest change in weather pattern or temperature can equal a huge swing in temperment. Well, we started out with our trot work, working on correct bend and not ducking her head too low. Things were going impressively well, so I threw in a little work on lateral movement. Our trainer started teach us the turn on the forehand and turn on the haunches this past weekend, so we worked on that. She is such a smart little mare. She grasps new concepts so quickly. As long as she doesn't get overly opinionated, she can be quite the star.

Everything kept going smoothly, so I utilized my husband's presence to work on our new training program. We are trying to work on her not getting strung out at the canter or over fences. We have been using a person standing at the end of the arena with treats to be a "reward" for jumping calmly, cantering off, and then stopping after a straight line of cantering. She started out great, hopping lazily over a little crossrail, trotting or sometimes cantering off, and then stopping to collect her treat. She started to get a little amped up, and on one attempt picked up a canter stride before the fence instead of after. Because of taking the canter stride in, she chose the BIG takeoff spot, and sort of launched and cracked her back - and could have easily cleared a three foot fence. Strangely enough, it didn't phase me. I got thrown off balance a little bit, but it was completely recoverable, and we went right into doing it two more times. She got a little worked up the second to last time, when I had my husband move back so we could canter a little longer. She refused to listen to the halt aids, and started spinning around a bit. So after my husband got his heart rate back down from running away like a madman, we put him back on the rail and did it one more time. Perfect trot in, calm easy jump, and a soft canter depart. Smooth halt at the end of the arena. I hopped off, loosened her girth, and finished for the night. And proceeded to float around with giddyness for the rest of the evening!

Monday, May 2, 2011

New Plan for the Weekend!

Well, I am very excited to announce that we have a killer plan in place for Miss Delilah for this upcoming weekend! After a few near-attempts at taking her to a show, it always seems that something comes up - I bust my butt, my trainer thinks we aren't quite ready, the school pony needs the schooling worse, and on and on. So last night, we were talking about the idea of taking Delilah to the mid-year show in Greensboro to at least see the world and school a bit. I was telling Robyn that I didn't know how we would be away from home, but that I just want to get it over with already and see how it goes. So she came up with the brilliant idea to load up Miss D next weekend and bring her to her mother's house to school and see how she does away from home. So that is officially the plan for this week! I am really excited to finally GO somewhere with her, even if it is twenty minutes away just to ride.

On top of that, I get to try another new horse tonight, Cobe. He belongs to a really sweet boarder of ours whose niece has been riding him but is really busy with school and life in general. She offered to let me ride him, and if I enjoy him, she will send me to as many shows as we want! So I am really excited to have some options opening up at last! It is going to be an exciting week.

I spent the weekend at the local Cedarhill Farm PHJA show. The girls from our farm were phenomenal, and all three took home Reserve Champion ribbons! I schooled Penny, our school pony who is good as gold at home, but morphs into a screaming FREAK at shows. We recently discovered this at the Everlong show two weeks ago, so we took her back to Cedarhill to try again. She was a hair better, but there is a vast amount of improvement needed before she can ever tote a kid around a show. She screams, she jigs, she dives for the exit gate, pins her ears back at other horses, tries to back up into them...thank god she is 13.2 and doesn't intimidate me much. It has been a good thing for boosting my confidence at handling difficult horses, but slightly embarassing at the same time.