Friday, September 23, 2011

Fuzzy Louie

You can tell fall is here when you look at the horses.  The highs have been in the 50's-60's, and the horses are feeling the cool fresh air.  Their coats are still short, but they are starting to "fluff up" and right now they have that beautiful soft velvety hair that flattens back down when it gets warm. 

I had another great ride on Louie, working dressage type patterns.  I have been finding that mixing it up so much with circles, figure 8's, rein changes, serpentines, etc, really helps Louie's relaxation.  I've been having him do, for instance, cantering 1/2 of a circle, then trotting, then back onto the rail.  It's keeping him on his toes and helping me to plan my transitions and focus on precision.  He's not as relaxed as he has been through his back, but he's also not curling up behind the vertical as often either.  There's kindof a give and take there.

We're also working some on our lateral work, though I find that he loses forward impulsion after a few steps when I ask him to move laterally.  We need more work on that first, but I'm sure if I had a lesson with Marlene right now she'd bring me back to walking and trotting circles working on getting him to bend, relax, and "hold hands" with my outside hand on the bit.  I'll have to pretend she's there and work on making my circles smaller and larger to help make the lateral work a little easier. 

For now, I'm super excited for the dressage schooling show and the hunter pace I'm hopefully going to do next month.  I think Louie is too!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Show Photo and Future Aspirations

First I wanted to share this very nice photo that Courtney Church took of us from our Midsummerfest Horse Show a couple of months ago- hand galloping in our ASB Hunter Country Pleasure Stake Class- weeee!!

Second, all the hubbub about the Saddlebred Sport Horse Incentive Program has got me thinking.  I had a great ride on Louie on Monday, working on our dressage, and he was patient, relaxed, bending, and not giraffe-like in any way.  I guess our "back to the basics" ride last week where all I did was bend him for about 20 minutes, and focus on proper circles at the walk and trot helped.  We had such a nice ride that we worked on our dressage patterns a little bit.  Of course I couldn't really remember them so I made them up as best as I could guess.  Louie was awesome.  So awesome that I want to take him to a dressage schooling show soon.  Now of course I realized that I could have the same saddle seat wild hand galloping excitement that we had last week, but I can hope!

So, I found a dressage/jumping schooling show coming up in a couple of weeks to take Louie to, if everything goes as planned.  Then as I was browsing the Central States Dressage and Eventing Association calendar, I came across something else that sounded like fun- a Hunter Pace!  They have on the flat courses for beginners (their jumps are as high as 3'3" I think, which is too high for us), so I thought perhaps that would be fun!  Something that I've never done before.  All of these things have got me thinking that I want to take dressage and jumping lessons more than ever!  So I'm looking for options for the winter, as I had planned to either trailer Louie somewhere for lessons or move him to a stable where I could take such lessons for the winter.  Of course it's not winter yet, and I'd like to take him trail riding a few times first, as he's a great trail horse too!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Saddle Seat Jumper

Louie hasn't been much for relaxing and stretching down lately. . . so I've been playing to his desires and working a little bit in saddle seat frame.  I think he might actually have some potential there!  Might have to throw some chains on him and have my husband shoot a few pictures one of these days. 

Well after we got some of the energy out with the saddle seat riding, we did a little bit of jumping, over a pole no more than 12" tall, but enough to get some leaping practice.  The first time over Louie did a rather buck/jump, that was a bit awkward, but he improved the next time and did a great job thereafter, jumping the one lowly pole.  I'm hesitant to do too much jumping with Louie's foot problems and how hard the ground is at the barn, but a little bit of very low, light jumping I figure probably won't hurt anything. 

Louie has been enjoying a semi-vacation, as I've only been working him 1-2 times per week in the past few weeks due to working dogs and fall field trial season in session.  The way I see it, it's probably okay as Louie is in too good of shape right now for me to get much of anything accomplished anyhow.  I'm going to have to put him into a bitting rig to remind him of his hunter frame when we get back to a more regular schedule. . .

Thursday, September 1, 2011

He Wanted To Run. . .

. . . So we ran. 

No doubt there's a change in weather brewing here today, it was 90 degrees and super humid, predicting a low in the 60's and a cool weekend ahead.  As we can guess, that means some strange behavior from the horses. 

Today the farrier was out to re-set Louie's shoes.  He hasn't grown any heel on his left front, so we put a wedge pad back on that foot.  We put a plain thick pad on the right front to balance him and help protect him from rocks.  His feet were in pretty good condition other than the fact that Pat thinks he hasn't grown any heel because it's been so hot.  We put some Magic Cushion hoof packing under his pads, so we'll see how that goes.  We talked about strategies, and he is hoping that Louie will grow some heel this fall/winter once his shoes are pulled.  I sure hope he does because he's very low on that left front heel right now. 

All throughout his re-set, Louie was acting strange- spooky and antsy.  So I decided to take him for a ride in the arena after Pat was finished with him.  I had a completely different horse than I have had the past month.  Today there was no quiet, slow, laid-back Saddlebred; today I had a racehorse under my saddle. 

After a brief walk and trot warm-up, at the fastest pace walks and trots I can imagine, we just got right down to business and I asked Louie up into a canter.  Soon we were hand-galloping, me up in two-point, and cruising around the ring, hoping Louie didn't trip or lose his footing around the corners.  He didn't.  We went probably 5-10 laps in each direction around the ring at a healthy hand-gallop before Louie started showing just subtle signs of relaxing- lowering his neck about 1-2 inches. . .

So we resumed our power walk.  After a while we trotted, but again, it was a harness race-speed trot that I was having trouble balancing and staying centered in the saddle to ride.  We did a few circles, but he just had a fire under his butt today and would not settle down like he usually does, so we cantered some more. . . just a regular canter this time. 

After all of that he was sweating like crazy and breathing really fast, so it was time for a cool down.  Lots of laps of walking, and we got a great stretchy long walk today, and even got a little bit of bending along with it.  I decided we weren't going to accomplish anything other than burning off steam today, so I gave up and got off. 

Here is Louie after his race today, just a bit sweaty. . . note the small dry spot on his hind quarters.

Silly horsie. . .