Thursday, November 27, 2014

Diagonals & Rollbacks

This is from last week, where we were practicing jumping angles and rollbacks (as you can see from the title) and Wolfgang did very well! We were in a jumping clinic with Canadian eventer Jane Stone, and we practiced angles so Wolf and I are pretty good at them because we...or at least I learned loads! Between each jump was two strides, then a roll back to jumps 4/5. We could decide how narrow or wide to make the turn, the wider it is, the steeper the angle. Listening to what K was telling some of the other riders in the lesson is that you want to look to the far side of the jump (aiming for the middle), because the riders instinctively want to look at the closest side while the horse is looking at the far side, this way you both look at the same thing and you do not jump ahead of their motion thinking they are taking off when there is still a stride left!
We also went once through the line with our eyes closed, which was a bit scary but not as bad as I was anticipating. I'm not sure why I thought it would be so bad, we have already jumped without stirrups and without reins! long as she doesn't try putting all three of those things together...

For our warm up portion we practiced lots of lateral work, which Wolfie did very well at both the trot and the canter! For being an old grandpa horse, he can be pretty agile.

No lesson this week, the roads are too bad tonight to go out, but hopefully they will be better by Saturday for a lease ride. I'm hoping to do a little bit of no stirrup work!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wolfgang has been doing pretty well these last couple weeks, although it has gotten pretty cold, which I think is making him a little stiffer than usual, so now we are doing longer, gentler warm ups with more walking/walk breaks, large circles etc. Still, he doesn't seem to bothered by the weather, but it helps he gets to stay inside at night.

We are still working on collection, K gave us another option to help get him to drop his head. Basically you go on a nice circle at the trot and gently bring your inside hand back towards your shoulder, which pulls his head in, and after a couple steps you give back the rein. It usually only takes a couple of those and he remembers what to do. Hopefully we will get to the point where just a light squeeze on the inside rein will be enough of a signal. Have to keep lots of leg on so he stays on the circle and doesn't just collapse in on his shoulder. He's very good about being on the contact at the walk but at the trot he's just like 'nope, I'ma be a giraffe and run around with my head in the air so I don't have to use my back and actually work'.  But slowly, very slowly, we are getting better.

Jumping is going pretty well, we are riding with N again so that means we usually get to do some higher jumps that we might otherwise. We usually have at least one 2'9" on the course. We've been doing some bounces, combinations and jumping on an angle (which Wolf and I are pretty good at, thanks to our Jane Stone clinic last winter). This past Thursday we had a triple combination that K has do with out reins and it wasn't that bad actually. The first time through with out reins Wolfgang was like 'f this shit' and ran out to the right (since the jumps were flush against the wall on the left). But he jumped nicely without any contact. Second time, I had my right hand in his mane and left by his neck ready to grab the rein if it felt like he was going to run out but he didn't. K said that pretty much every horse all week jumped better when the riders dropped the reins, which isn't much of a surprise.

A couple months ago I was having a weird problem with my ankles, mostly the left one, where it felt really weak and like it was going to roll out to the side. No matter how little or how much weight I had on it, how far down my heels were or how my foot was in the stirrup. It was not fun, it actually made it really hard to concentrate and jump properly because I was so worried about my ankle getting hurt. So one week I ended up just dropping my stirrups to jump and it wasn't bad at all actually. In fact it was our best round of the night, I wish I'd got a video of it! But it's been better lately, I've got a couple stretches that are meant to help tighten up the tendons on the outside of my ankle and they have helped a lot.

I won't be back out to the barn until Thursday for our next lesson and then Saturday's are our new lease ride day :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Wolfgang, You Are NOT a Giraffe (Max. Frustration)

Making another attempt to start blogging regularly again, hopefully it will help keep track of the progress (or lack of) that Wolf and I make during our time together.

Wolfgang is about 19 now, and it's very important that he learns to collect/go on the bit consistantly and actually use his back end, not just hold his neck and head nicely. Unfortunatly, his tiny frontal lobes don't understand my rational exlpantations of this, nor does he like listening when being asked to collect. Grrr. It's very frustrating. Quite frankly, he should have learned this a long time ago, and I think he did, but then being a bit of a lesson horse for less experienced people, he got a way without doing it. And it's not like collection is something important to chuck wagon horses, which is what he was before. He can get it at the walk with just the slightest request and go quite nicely, even the sitting trot he is fairly consistant, which is great. The problem is the worst at the posting trot and the canter. In my last lesson two weeks ago, we put him on a small cirlce with outside leg and rein to balance and inside leg to push is body out and lots of inside rein to basically pull his head around to the inside, until he gave in an dropped his head and then he was asked to go forward and large around the ring with consistant contact. It worked, but was frustrating for the both of us, he responded much better on my lease ride after this lesson, he really seemed to figure out what to do after a few intense circles, he would go very well, lose it and then if he didn't collect again when asked, and I went to go put him back on a small cirlce, he would drop his head and collect properly right away. Too bad it didn't work very well at all this past Sunday. Although I'm not totally surprised by this, I missed my lesson before this ride (thank you university) and consistancy is key. I literally tired everything I could think of to get him to drop his head and tuck his nose, but he just wouldn't for more than a few steps after a circle. I had trot poles out, we did lots of those, lots of upward and downward transitions and no luck at all. Even asking him to trot with next to no contact, my hands were literally at the buckle of the reins, obviously this didn't work at all, he just rushed around on the forehand, so that didn't last very long, but I had been hoping with a longer rein he would be more keen to drop down his head. Even if I was off his back in the two point he wouldn't. UGH. But, I have a make up lesson tonight, thank god, so hopefully K will have some good advice to help us out.

And when he won't collect it has an impact on everything else that  I had been hoping to work on with him. Mainly collection, and then really good quality transitions of all kinds. Trot to canter is a big one for us to work on, I've actually got him doing some very good walk to canter transitions but this has resulted in negelecting our trot/canter ones and the past while he has been getting a very rushy trot before cantering and this is no good because you arent very likely to get a nice canter out of a shitty trot. Then we also work on canter/walk, he can get them, but they aren't yet consistant. What we do is get a nice canter and then get on a small, balanced cirlce and keeping on leg, ask him to walk, sometimes I even say "walk" out loud and he gets lots of praise for getting close and a nice long walk on a loose rein if he gets it! It's so exciting when he does get them, I'm looking forward to being able to practice canter/walk on a larger cirlce or in the corners of the ring eventually! On Sunday we also got some very nice trot/halt transitions, but they all would have been so, so much better if he had had a more balanced and uphill movement.

But hopefully todays lesson will help us both out!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Had a jumping lesson yesterday, we were practicing bounces. Wolf and I don't have a very good record if bounces. I'm pretty sure the first time I fell off him was over a bounce too. The video is actually pretty funny. Unfortunately, I pulled my groin and hurt my knee! Hopefully it heels enough to be able to ride in the clinic this weekend! 
Besides that things with wolf are going well, we've been working on haunches in and counter canter. His right counter canter is really good, but the left needs work. It takes him to long to listen and I don't get his butt to the wall enough. So that's something else to work on during free rides. I hope I can ride more in the summer, it's really crappy only having on extra ride a week and trying to fit in all the things I want to work on! 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sort of Something New

Well, I guess I won't be switching straight to dressage. At least not any time soon, which I'm kind of disappointed about actually. What we are going to do is keep jumping, but when the other lady I ride with can't make the lesson we will do dressage. But I want to do real dressage, not just English equitation. 

Yesterday's lesson was jumping and it went pretty good, we didn't do as much flat work as we had on Tuesday. Although the course went better. This week we were practicing a hunter equitation style course. 

For flat work on Tuesday we did some no stirrups flat work, including posting trot, which I've been working on lease rides and there has been significant improvement in how long I can post without stirrups for! Finally, progress in something! Eventually we will get to two point without stirrups...eventually. We also cantered over a small cavalletti with no stirrups, again something Wolf and I have worked on before, so it went quite well. Go us! The worst part by far was doing flat work with only the left stirrup. Going in the straight edges was fine, but corners and circles, not so much. I have to work on my core... Luckily we didn't have to jump like that. 

The hunter course was pretty good, we picked up the canter from the sitting trot well, got the tight inside turn and even got the slice to the oxer a couple times. Other times I chickened out and followed a bending line. It would be ridden as a bending in a regular hunter course but you get more points for doing more difficult lines in equitation, so riding a bending straight would be what you'd probably want to do. As for leads, sometimes we'd get them and sometimes we wouldn't which was frustrating but mostly my fault for not looking in the air. 
My eq was not so great either, I've shortened my stirrups so maybe that will help, but holy crap, my lower leg just will not stay still, it's ridiculous!! I hate watching videos of myself riding because that's all I see. No one else I ride with seems to have that problem, it's also frustrating that dispit all my no stirrup work, that hasn't improved. 
I don't know what else to do to help fix it though. I ride with my heels down well on the flat but not so much over jumps :(

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Such A Coward?!

Yes, I'm still here and still riding Wolfgang. We've been doing quite well. At the start of January I had what I initially considered a "therapeutic" fall off Java, it had helped with these strange nerves I've been having when it comes to jumping and I have to constantly tell myself things like "they aren't that high" (seriously, they're like 2'6" maybe 2'9") or "you've jumped way higher". Like it don't understand what my problem is?! Maybe Wolf just doesn't inspire confidence they way Java and Pony do because with them it's like you're going over no matter what. But that makes it sound like he's a dirty stopper, which he certainly isn't. So I don't know.
I just texted K earlier today to ask about trying dressage for a while. Just to switch things up and try something different. She said we can try it tomorrow, if the other lady doesn't make it to our lesson, otherwise she'll keep the jumps lower. My god that is so pathetic. 
But yeah, that's all that's new right now.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fix Your Position

For the past two lessons K has filmed the jumping for some of us, which is great because I don't often get to see what I look like when I ride. I'm a bit disappointed by it to be honest, so I'm not going to post any of it. I must be pinching with my knees and not realizing it because my lower leg doesn't stay still over the jumps, it swings forward and back. K hasn't said anything about it, so I'm going to ask her if there's things I can do during lease rides to work on it.
You would surely think, after so many years jumping the same heights, I would have a decent leg?

The other thing we have to work on is getting him on the bridle at the trot, because he often gets inverted/carries his head like a giraffe, not quite as bad as Zander though. He gets it every once in a while but doesn't carry it for very long.

Our next lesson is scheduled for Saturday morning provided the weather and work don't ruin it.