Thursday, August 27, 2015

Walk Improvement - Lesson With Arthur Kottas

Lesson With Don Halladay, Five Star Parelli Professional

Bella Is A Star

Today I put the saddle on our two year old Bella for the first time, tightened up the girth and led her out of the stall (no intention of backing her - just playing around). She was completely nonchalant even though she's never had anything on her except a blanket when she was a weanling. Then didn't the stirrup leather catch on the latch coming out of the stall! (stirrups were run up but it caught anyway). This stopped her in her tracks and pulled the saddle off of her back and down around her side, so it was hanging on her sideways. She just stood there and let me unfasten it, put it back on, and then lead her calmly around the ring. I'm LOVING this girl! I really haven't spent any time with her but I think it's going to be fun.
I should also mention I had her tied up to a ring on the wall while saddling her, and I'm pretty sure I've never even tied her before. She acted like she'd been doing this for years - no reaction at all. Am I getting lulled into a false sense of security and in for a big blow up?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Arthur Kottas Clinic Four, Day Four

I rode Rogo twice on day four too, instead of doing in-hand in the afternoon. The main focus of the day four lessons was canter half pass. The morning lesson was only 20 minutes because Rogo responded so well and we didn't want to over tire him.
We did half pass off the rail to the centre line and Rogo did the right lead quite well. This was the first time we did it off the rail (and second time doing canter half pass). Tuesday we did it from the 3/4 line to the centre line.
The left lead wasn't as good when starting from the rail. He moved over well, but didn't keep his bend to the left - his body became too straight. To fix this we started the half pass from a small circle. He still didn't hold the bend as well as he did to the right. Arthur suggests we circle again mid half pass, before he looses his bend, then continue in half pass.
His left is his stiff side so loosing the bend doesn't surprise me. He does better at this point starting from the 1/4 or 3/4 line when on the left lead, than starting from the rail. Arthur wants us to do shoulder in and haunches in at canter to help fix this, especially on the left lead, but on the right too.
I am supposed to collect his canter once he hits the centre line and straightens, but I wasn't very successful at that. It's part of our homework. I think I'm giving my outside leg aid too strongly in moving him over, and he gets quite forward.
Once we have this perfected and I can collect him on the centre line after the half pass, I should ask for a flying change and go onto a ten metre circle on the opposite lead, then continue down the centre line. This exercise is designed to introduce and school flying changes. If the horse and rider remain balanced and calm it can be repeated in the opposite direction, or do a large circle at the end before repeating,

Arthur always gives home work for his next visit. In addition to the above exercise mine is to:

  • Practice shoulder in to haunches in and back at canter. I should just ask for a slight haunches in (I tend to ask for too much).
  • Practice half walk pirouettes.
  • Improve the forward energy at the walk - we're habitually too slow at the walk. 
It was a great four days. I learned a lot and Arthur told us we'd progressed in our training and fitness, so that's motivating. He returns in November so we'll be working hard to get ready.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Arthur Kottas Clinic #4, Day Three

It was another great day at the clinic. I'm completely energized by the teaching - watching other lessons and having my own.
Our under saddle lesson in the morning addressed:
- Walk and trot shoulder in
- Walk shoulder in to haunches in and repeat, continuing around the short side
- Trot shoulder in to haunches in
- Walk and trot half pass from the rail to the centre line and one walk half pass from the rail across the whole arena
- Rein back, trot, halt, repeat
- Walk and trot down the long side doing a ten metre circle, eight metre circle and six or seven metre circle
The main purpose of the exercises was to get Rogo carrying more wait behind. We also practised collecting from my seat and outside rein half halts to prepare for transitions. This is also to take weight back.
For our in hand lesson Arthur taught me to do shoulder in on the long side, half circle, leg yield to the rail. We also did halt and Arthur showed me how to touch Rogo on the bottom outside of his leg to square him up. Then we'd do rein back.
The lead line was on the centre ring of the cavesson. To half halt give a quick, light tug - upwards if he's too low, downwards if he's too high.
Tomorrow is the final day of the clinic. It has me on a total high.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Arthur Kottas Clinic

Today is the second day of the clinic. I've been riding twice a day for thirty minutes each, instead of one longer lesson. Tomorrow and Thursday I'll do a riding lesson in the morning and an in-hand lesson in the afternoon.
Today we did canter half passes, a first for both of us. They went quite well for a first attempt. We'd canter up the 3/4 line and then half pass to the centre line before going straight down the centre line, going directly onto a 20 metre circle, and then coming off the circle onto the 1/4 line and repeating.
Rogo was a star. He tried so hard, didn't get excited, focused and did exactly what was asked of him even though he had never done it before. I loved this exercise. Rogo and I really clicked with it. He was completely on the aids and responding to every ask.
The was I think our best exercise. He's also doing a pretty fair rein back, which he's only been doing since May.
Our worst movement was half walk pirouette. We keep stopping and doing a stationary turn on the haunches instead of a walk pirouette, but I think I'll get the feel of how to get it soon.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Battle Scars

As you can see, I'm very lucky I didn't break my arm. This is four days out. Rogo's swelling is gone today so I'll start riding him again Thursday. Thanks for the kind wishes!

Sunday, July 19, 2015


We had a mishap in our lesson on Friday, and once again I can tell you that I was saved by my helmet, on a day on a horse where some people might think it wasn't needed.
My sweet, calm, trained ten year old was doing a lovely canter up the long side in the indoor. It was a quiet, sunny day and I was having a lesson.
Suddenly with no warning he tripped and went down hard. I slammed into the 2 X 6 rough cut kick wall with my head and arm. I'm unharmed except for a badly bruised arm, but without a helmet it would have been a different story.
Rogo's left front is slightly swollen. He hit it with a back foot and it's scraped a bit. He's on bute and is going to have a few days off. Fingers crossed he heals quickly and well.
I'm not sure what caused his fall. I went back to look at the hoof prints and I could clearly see the step he took where he went down. There was a small rock inside the hoof print. Joan, my teacher, thought the stone must have rolled. Maybe it hurt his foot. I really don't know so that's kind of scary.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Trot Canter Trot

I've been putting off posting because I'm so far behind, I have videos and pictures from the Arthur Kottas clinic to edit, etc. But... I just don't get there so I'm jumping in with where we are right now.
Rogo and I are schooling level three and some of four. It isn't show ready but we're making respectable progress for the most part.
Want to know where my biggest challenge is right now? I guess the title gave it away - trot / canter, a training level requirement.
Unless Rogo is on a circle we're picking up the wrong lead (from trot) much too often. We have walk / canter nailed; I'd even go so far as to say 100%. He gets canter and counter canter from walk anywhere in the arena.
I haven't worked on this with my instructor  because she assumed it was something I could fix myself, but I'm going to be asking for help. We get it, but then I forget to practice it and it's gone again. I can feel that he feels easily blocked on the inside shoulder from trot to canter, so it seems to help a bit if I slightly raise the inside hand. Also if I collect his trot A LOT before I ask, that helps too.
However, an easy and fluid transition from trot to canter mid long side eludes us. He is 100% on a circle or corner, but if I try putting him in that position on the long side it doesn't help get the correct lead.
Any suggestions are welcome. For now I think we'll practice it on the circle much more and then start 'stretching' the circle down the long side.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Savanah, Arthur Kottas Clinic, May 2015

This is Doug's mare Savanah being ridden in the Arthur Kottas clinic we just had. I'll upload one of Rogo and I soon.

Monday, March 16, 2015


I'm posting this so I can look back on the future and see what this winter was like. It's kind of a big whine, but I want to remember it. I'm writing about what it was like at our equestrian facility, Five Fires, but the picture was taken out the back door of our house in Noel Shore (twenty minutes away).
The bad:
- Working in the barn for hours with a wind chill of - 30 after getting up repeatedly through the night to make sure the water was still running.
- my first ever frost bite, and then repeated several times
- dehydration (I didn't realize how cold could be so drying to people)
- waking up in the camp when it's so cold the pets' water bowls are freezing (actually waking up isn't bad - getting out from under the covers is the rough part 😀)
- fatigue like I've never experienced
- riding less than I've ridden any winter since I took up riding again nine years ago, even though we now have a fabulous indoor. It's been too cold to ask the horses to work (based on University of Guelph recommendations not to work when it's colder than - 10). Also with travelling from Noel Shore to the barn there have been stretches of days at a time when the roads were just too bad to get there.
- being away from Doug for days at a time while he's at the facility and I'm in Noel Shore, or vice versa
- multiple friends and acquaintances loosing their horses and / or foals
- knowing / seeing how hard Doug is working, non stop, to keep everyone safe and healthy - plowing, plumbing (frozen pipes), heating, supplies (feed, bedding,...), and on and on
I'm told it's the worst winter on record since 1935, but I don't know if it's true.
There's good news to though :
- no property damage (many bands and arenas last their roof this winter)
- healthy horses (fingers crossed it stays that way)
- we bought a mini home so we can all be together at Five Fires soon
- Doug and I have a great time when we are together
- Mom is healthy and doing great

Monday, March 9, 2015