Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Progress

I haven't been getting in as many lessons and rides as I'd like. Only two last week :( Developing our new facility is taking a LOT of time and energy.
Maybe it's good for Rogo, because the rides we do have are going well. I'm superstitious so I can't help thinking I've doomed us by writing that. Oh well, here's a bit of an update.
We've struggled with leg yield but haven't worked at it consistently. It's kind of embarrassing because other people seem to get it so easily. Lately we have worked at it steadily, and it's really coming along, to the extent our teacher had us doing canter leg yields for the first time yesterday. Rogo broke a few times, especially at first, but by the end of the exercise he was doing some of them quite nicely - really engaging his hind quarters and filling up the outside rein as he moved laterally. Yeah Rogo!
We've also been doing an exercise that entails doing three 10 m canter circles down the long side, progressing around the ring. They're often more like 11 m, but he does them quite well and will stay at it, working hard. My challenge is to keep him 'straight' on these circles - steering with my inside leg into my outside rein and not letting the outside shoulder pop out.
Another new exercise we've added lately is walking travers. Rogo took to this much more readily than leg yield. I suspect I aid it better, but I don't know why. He does it fairly well most of the time, and sometimes it really flows along beautifully for a short distance in a nice forward and balanced rhythm. He'll even break into a trot and trot it well at times. Of course this needs a lot of work to do it well consistently, but it's starting out in a fun way.
The last new exercise we've added is a three loop canter serpentine, with a simple trot change at the center line. Rogo aced it the first time - perfect shaped serpentines and perfect changes with only two or three trot steps.
Now, just so I don't lead you to believe we`re closing in on level 2, we sure aren't. I've yet to do a leg yield in a test. None of the above are confirmed / consistent. We still need to solidify many aspects of level one. It's fun to try new things and move the bar a little though. We spent sooo many months struggling with just getting a basic canter that it's wonderful to be able to add some new things.
Looking at the above exercises, I see that our teacher is doing a lot of inside leg to outside rein. This makes sense to me. We need to develop more ability and sensitivity in that area.
One last piece of news. I'm bringing Rogo home for August and September! Yeah! It's been wonderful to spend the last few months in lessons and it was essential if we were going to get anywhere (I couldn't do it myself), but I can't wait until I can look out the window and see him in the backyard. Also, with the road construction that's going on it takes a four hour round trip drive to ride, which is exhausting, especially when I'm also working so hard on the building project. I'm looking forward to getting him out on some hacks at home and just having him close.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Horse Fly Management?

Thanks for all of the ideas and feedback for an arena rake. I ended up finding ABI Equine through your feedback and ordered a 6.5 foot TR3. I'll let you know how it works!
My next question - how are you guys managing horse and deer flies? They are worse than usual here this year. Poor Rogo is raw in places. He's ben staying inside in the heat, as do the horses at home.
The only thing I could find recommended is Horse Pal . Has anyone used it, or do you have any tricks for managing horse flies? I find insect repellant does nothing, and my research bears this out.
On the dressage front, Rogo is picking up more energy / forwardness again, so that is wonderful. I'm finally figuring out how to keep him even in a nice contact in the canter. I had been going back and forth from inside to outside rein too much as I worked at developing the right feel. It was much easier with Savanah. I'm not sure why - maybe because he's taller and longer - but he's harder to 'keep together'. It feels wonderful when you get there though :) 
Happy July 4th US friends!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hot and Cold

Rogo has me completely mystified. After telling you how forward he'd become, and how I could hardly hold him in at the schooling show and test riding clinic, he completely died on me at our Equine Canada bronze show a couple of weekends ago. In Training Level test 3 he literally went slower and slower, while I kicked and whacked him, until he gently and softly came to a complete halt. It wasn't bracey or balky feeling - just a slow winding down to nothing. He blew through three moves with this (he was supposed to be cantering as he trotted slower and slower and then stopped) and the rest of it wasn't much better. I noticed in the warm up that he was losing energy, but this was beyond! We ended up with a 49 and I think that was generous.
His shoeing had gotten off and thus his gaits weren't good prior to the show. I barely rode him for 2+ weeks and then at the walk. The day before the show the third trip from the farrier put everything right. It's amazing what shoeing can do. So that night I decided to go and off we went, getting there late. I also rode Level 1 test one and it wasn't much better 51.5 and NO energy.
The next day he rallied for a 64.8 in Training Level 3, and a tie for first which we missed out on because of the collective marks. Then he completely stalled out again, getting 55 on Level One test one. 
I'm not sure what was going on and I porobably never will. I hadn't thought we'd be in top form after the time off, but I wasn't expecting that either. He still doesn't have the forward he'd had, but it's better. We (I?) had tons of fun at the show, so it was a good weekend anyway.
Meanwhile, MY foot got so painful I could hardly ride and had to cancel going in the Cindy Ishoy clinic this past weekend. Turns out I have Morton's neuroma, a very painful condition where the nerves in the ball of your foot become irritated and putting your foot in a stirrup is agonizing. I got so I couldn't keep my foot in the stirrup. A cortisone injection seems to have fixed it for now, but it may come back and may need surgery :(
Here are some pictures of the show. I think he looks better than we were :)