Thursday, February 26, 2015

Inspirational Dressage: Dr Reiner Klimke

Love this partnership!  Note how open the throatlatch is on the horse and the terrific swing of the tail.  Some of the best I've seen :)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Weekly Inspiration: Klaus Hempfling and Connection

Because nothing is quite as magical as a true connection with your horse.
And because I love Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling.  :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Europe Week One Recap

We're having a lot of fun so far! :)  Spending 24 hours on or between flights was very exhausting and we actually fell asleep looking at castles along the Rhine river... but the jetlag is disappearing and we're really starting to settle into a routine of sorts.  We've been exploring our "base" city in Germany and the surrounding area and made a trip into the French countryside last Saturday. 

For your enjoyment, a few photos of our adventures in the last week....

Having fun!  :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Exploring Dressage: Intro Level Part I

I've been really working on dressage for about a year now, and even though I'm no expert, I figured I could go ahead and discuss some of the basics of the discipline's tests and how I've dealt with them so far.

The first level of dressage competition is called the Introductory level, which starts with tests A and B being walk/trot only, since the canter can be difficult and elusive for beginning riders.

The first movement of Test A begins with entering the arena (at A) in a rising working trot down the centerline. I'm not entirely sure if there is a requirement for a halt and salute at the beginning of the test since its not listed on the paper, but in several videos online a halt is shown. When I've practiced the test however, I have not added in the halt.  After X, there is a transition down to a medium walk before reaching C (the end of the arena). One of the biggest requirements for this movement is straightness down the centerline, which is deceivingly very hard!  Lady is still learning to actually stay straight and especially in the transition to the walk, we wobble around and lose our straightness. Rhythm is also important, and can also be lost through the transition, but ought to be kept consistently throughout the entire movement.  Lady and I can make the transition, but getting into the rhythm of the walk is what throws us off.

Movement 2 has the horse and rider track right once they reach C (the center of the short end of the arena).  It is important that they retain balance and have correct bend through the corner. At M is a transition to a rising working trot again and again, the balance of the transition is emphasized. The trot continues along the edge of the arena until the pair reaches A and then begins movement 3.
Movement 3 continues with the rising trot, making a 20 meter circle beginning at A, and using K and F as side points of the circle.
Lady and I are still working on the straightness portion of movement 2, but we've gotten pretty good at the corner bends. The circle in movement 3 jams us up a lot though, because of the geometry. I don't see the shapes very well, which messes Lady up (obviously).

The remainder of the test is as follows...
Change rein across the diagonal (K-X-M)
20 meter circle, tracking left at C, rising trot.
Transition to a medium walk between C and H
Free walk across the diagonal (H-X-F)
Transition to a medium walk between F and A.
Head down the centerline at A
Halt and salute at X

The first three movements is about as far as Lady and I have come on this test as of the last time we went through it. We're working pretty hard on making smooth transitions, balanced turns, and rhythmic gaits. It's coming along swimmingly so far and I'm hoping to move on to test B and possibly C soon. - Watch an example of this test!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day!

Because there's nothing more romantic than watching the sunset with the most beautiful horse in the world!

Just kidding.... I'm exploring Europe and wishing I had a horse as a valentine.  ;)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Having a Baby Around

I've posted about Comanche several times and I figured it would be appropriate to talk about him again!

He still looks like a scrawny awkward baby, but he's so adorable... :)

We've been working on baby things like respecting personal space and leading properly and he's picking up on everything really fast.  He even got his feet trimmed on Wednesday and even though he wasn't a perfect angel he was definitely trying to understand what was required of him and the whole session was a success.  I love my trimmer - he was so patient and slow with Comanche.  And I was very proud of Comanche himself for trying. :)

Having a baby around is so different from my two girls, and a stud colt to boot. It's been an adventure so far, and a super fun one!  He's very expressive about what he thinks and if he's nervous he definitely feels the need to move his feet.

He's been getting much better at leading also... I don't like a horse that follows directly on your heels, especially where I can't see him, so we've been working on breaking that habit and he's doing well with it. He doesn't rush ahead (yet) so I've just been using a lunge whip to gently move his shoulder over when he drifts out of my sight. The only other bad leading habit he has is that he thinks sometimes that he can just leave if he wants to, but I'm setting a firm boundary with the lead rope and he's catching on to that too.

I've introduced him to a saddle blanket once so far and he was pretty wary of it but we got to the point that I could mess with the blanket on the other side of his paddock and he would watch me without worrying too much.  ;)

He's about to get six weeks off while I travel, and then he's going to have a vet appointment to have his teeth looked at and be gelded.  I'm looking forward to everything we can get done this spring after I get back! :)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Travel Planning Monday V: Final Prep!

Edition I:  Making Decisions
Edition II:  Where to Go and Transportation
Edition III:  Winter Packing
Edition IV:  Anxious Horse Mom

I leave on Wednesday!
So far I've gotten about 75% of my packing done... the last of the needed shopping.... the majority of the preparation for leaving the animals behind.... and I'm almost mentally ready to leave for six weeks!

Europe is pretty cold at this point, with snow and wind, and coming off a lovely weekend of 60-degree weather in Texas, that's going to take some getting used to!

Today and tomorrow I still have multiple things to do.... including...

  • Charge the camera and round up all cords for it.
  • Call the bank to confirm that my card won't be denied (super important!).
  • Pack all remaining clothes.
  • Round up everything that will need to be packed morning-of.
  • Go over horse/dog care with family.
  • Relax a bit more!
What do you usually do the last few days before a major trip/vacation?

Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of the living.  ~Mary Ritter Beard 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Handing Over the Reins

I am now less than a week away from my six-week trip to Europe, and that means that I am very reluctantly preparing to leave my horses behind in the care of my family and friends.
If you own a horse, or even any kind of animal, you know that it can be very difficult to leave them behind for even a short amount of time - this feels like an eternity!

My family will be feeding all three horses and they do a fine job of it, but I couldn't leave Lady for six weeks to stew in a pasture and stiffen up or go crazy. I'm sure it wouldn't be as bad as I imagined it, but I just didn't feel right doing it that way.

Spoiled brat of a horse.

Anyways, I deliberated on the situation and ended up asking a friend of mine to give Lady some exercise while I'm away. She'll be working with/riding Lady 1-3x per week, which is plenty to keep her moving and limber.

Even though I'm totally fine with my friend's riding and experience and all that, there is still part of me that is very nervous about leaving my horse in someone else's hands. It wouldn't matter at all if I was leaving her with a fantastic famous trainer or whatever.... I would still be anxious.

So Rebecca has been over twice to ride Lady... and I'm starting to feel better.

Basically, I've allowed her to come and completely handle Lady on her own while I watch and offer input...  And it's been hard. I'm always the one to handle Lady, so the hand-off thing takes willpower on my end.

They are getting along... Lady has seemed compliant and willing and mostly happy about everything. Rebecca usually rides Western, so Lady will get a break from the dressage we've been doing lately (which I'm sure she'll like).

Of course its not going to be the same as if I was home handling and taking care of my own horse.... but Rebecca isn't about to ruin Lady's training, and Lady isn't about to dump Rebecca or anything like that.

It will be good for both of them.

I still want to stay with my horse though......

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

January Analysis/February Goals

January Equestrian Goals:

  • Get into the habit of recording all my rides.
  • Work with Lady on liberty.  Mud meant that this went out the window.
  • Get Lady more sensitive to leg aids.
  • Keep up the canter work and build strength in both of us.

January Personal/Blog Goals:
  • Complete all paperwork/applications for TTU.  Not my fault.... urghh...
  • Write 10 pages of notes about my new story.  Good start, but not 10.
  • Get all arrangements made about leaving for Europe.
  • Get an editorial calendar set up for the rest of the year for both my blogs.

I'm not making any real goals for February because the majority of the month will be spent abroad... but here are a few small ones for February and March...

  • Don't spend large amounts of time worrying about my horses/dog.
  • Write 500 words a day.
  • Survive my first plane ride (and a long one too!)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Last Week of January!!


  • Comanche:  Got started with the baby and we had a pretty good time. He is pretty easy to catch, but doesn't really care for it... so we had some conversations about that and he started getting better. Also worked on his leading, which is getting better, and picking up his feet. He picks them up but doesn't offer to keep them up. :)

  • Lady:  Couldn't do as much work as I had originally planned because of work and driving family members, but we still had a good 40 minute ride. We worked on things from our lesson, had a discussion about focusing on me instead of Comanche, and had a pretty good canter/hand gallop around the arena. Fun!
  • Comanche:  Tried to continue with the same things as Monday, but got stuck on the catching/respect part. Had some improvement with turning to face me when asked and having a pleasant expression.

  • Lady:  I didn't ride but my friend R did and Lady got a pretty good workout. 
  • Tempest:  I didn't officially work with The Pony, but I did mess around with her in the pasture and she did quite well. I was pleased with how well she did!
R riding Lady

R riding Lady