Weekend Recap: Asking Harder Questions

Friday the Nations cup at WEF was being live streamed, so I made Joseph sit and watch with me while we munched on chips and homemade queso (having a live-in boyfriend who can actually cook is amazing). Joseph said watching  the Nations Cup with me was kind of like me watching football with him, except that I actually know a little bit about football, and I found a stallion I definitely want a baby out of if I ever decide I need another foal. So basically, it was a perfect Friday evening.

Captain Colnardo was clear in both rounds, and even Frank Madden described the second trip as “an equitation trip at 1.50M.” He just looked so fun, and had such a classic way of going.

This weekend, trainer took the day off from Sunday lessons after horse showing the past three weekends in a row. This meant I was on my own, which was just fine with me, since we hadn’t jumped since the horse show. I switched things up and jumped on Saturday, so that we could use Sunday to work hard on the flat, and to work on being more rideable the day after a tricky jumping school.

To warm up, we used our single on the diagonal exercise that we learned at the Ragan Roberts clinic. Once off each lead going toward the corner and halt. Up 2 holes. We started at maybe a 2′-2’3 vertical, and eventually ended with a 3’3 oxer. There were a few times where Val threw his shoulder out in the turn, and the jump came up weird, or he tried to move up at the last minute and went past the distance. But the exercise did what it was supposed to, and got Val paying attention to where I was putting the track, and he was waiting for the jump, rather than moving up to it.

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Even when he’s throwing that shoulder, look at that hind step!

Normally when we jump, we do a course of little jumps, where everything is like 2’6ish, then we do a course at about 3′, and then a few of the jumps go up from there. This has been really great for moving up without over-facing Val. But we can’t do a class at 3 different heights several days at a horse show. I need to have enough horse to be able to do bigger divisions, so it’s time to move away from this crutch.

Before getting on, Joseph helped me set everything in the ring at 3’3-3’6 with just one or two 3′ verticals in case we needed a jump to make us braver. After warming up over the single, we got right to work. Since the jumps were bigger and I was asking somewhat tricky questions, I kept the courses short. No more than 4 jumps at a time so that he didn’t get frazzled or worried.

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Only kind of trying at 3’3.

When we cantered up to the first jump, I could feel Val wanting to suck back a little, but I gave him a squeeze, and he moved right up to the correct distance and hopped over, bending over to the next jump nicely. The next line was much trickier, and though I could feel that Val was a little lost, he was really game and picked his feet up when a jump ended up in front of him, not even over jumping as much as he once would have when he’s lost on course and the jumps surprise him.

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Making 3’3 look small.

The next course had an oxer that I had set on the big side–a little wide, and definitely the biggest jump on the course. I had it as the second jump after a vertical that was set soft. I knew this would cause him some concern, and I wanted to practice answering that question correctly. The first time we went up to it, I found a bit of a gappy distance and asked Val to move up, and instead Val tried to suck back, which resulted in a really ugly distance, and a cowboy kick to tell him he needed to find a way over anyway. we somehow managed to clear the back rail, but we took the front two rails down, and kept cantering away to a smaller vertical like nothing had happened. Once the jump was reassembled, we tackled the course again with much more success.

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We still got deep, but it was from a forward canter, and he left the ground when I asked, so I’m happy.

Our last course we kept really simple so that we ended on an easy note, and we just jumped three verticals off of nice loopy turns. The first jump Val was again behind my leg (something we’ll need to work more on, I suppose!), but jumps 2 and 3 were perfect, so Val got some pats, and then we went for a walk to cool out.

Sunday I left my photographer at home and simply flatted my horse, working hard on adjustability and bending. Lots of serpentines across the arena, and when he was feeling sticky on his lateral aids, we went back down to the walk to leg yield/turn on the haunches/turns on the forehand/etc. After only about 20-25 minutes, we called it quits, because he was trying really hard to be good, and I knew he was tired from the day before.

Then it was time for fun! We have a round pen up past the two arenas, so we ambled up there, and after practicing downward transitions from mostly only seat and leg, and I took Val’s bridle off, and played bridleless at the walk/trot.

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It started out ok, and we were actually able to do a turn on the haunches, and go across the diagonal to change directions at the walk. We trotted a bit (with Val’s nose actually touching the ground), but eventually, Val figured out that the bridle was off, so what I was asking for was really only a suggestion. While he wasn’t running away with me at all, he was definitely more interested in trotting than walking, and changing directions was not happening.

I’m really excited that he was so reasonable though, and I think this is something we can work on and play with. I’ve got all the time in the world, and it’s so fun to teach new skills.

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It’s shedding season!

This was actually the weekend of trying new things. On Saturday, after a really good grooming session before our ride, I decided to play a little bit with doing some body work. Since I have 0 experience with this, I didn’t try to get fancy. But I did find a spot along his crest on the right side where pushing with the ball of my hand resulted in some serious stretching and face-making, after which he basically fell asleep with his halter and the cross ties holding him up.

The last new thing we tried, was a different set of spurs for the flat. I used to use 1/4 inch Prince of Whales spurs, but since I have like 12 different pairs of spurs, I thought I’d try another pair I don’t even know the name for. Of course, I don’t have a picture of the spurs themselves, but I do have a picture of the new straps my Mama sent me for my birthday! I’m not usually one to wear bling, but these are super cute. They’ll look even better when I clean my boots!

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Whew! I didn’t realize how much I had to talk about from this weekend, but suffice it to say, I spent a lot of quality time with my horse, and it was fantastic. I have a lot of items I’d like to do reviews on, but I haven’t decided whether to do a post with a bunch of mini reviews, or if I should do full posts for at least a few of them.

Some of the items are:

  • Sleek EZ grooming blade
  • SmartPak leather halter
  • SOTM spur straps
  • Saucy Piaffe custom stall signs
  • Ecolicious Equestrian Gloss Enhancing Coat Tonic
  • Equine Couture quilted belt
  • Cavalleria Toscana show coat
  • Spooks show coat

Right now I’m leaning toward one or two posts with several short reviews, but what do you guys think? Is there a particular item you’d like to know more about?

11 thoughts on “Weekend Recap: Asking Harder Questions

  1. Jenn

    First, these pictures are great! You and Val look awesome 🙂 Weekends filled with pony time are always the best weekends!

    I’m extra curious about the Sleek EZ grooming blade, as well as which leather halter from SP you have (because I have two different ones for Roger). Can’t wait for the reviews!

  2. i really like your jump school style – i’ve sorta unconsciously adopted some similar approaches, but haven’t thought through it as carefully as you have it all outlined above. definitely good food for thought!

  3. This weekend I’m planning on working on the flat (mostly walk and trot) to reinforce moving off my leg, especially laterally. I think changing the questions up and asking more difficult things is a really important aspect of training that’s easy to neglect.

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