Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tiamo's Butt!

So his coat looks kind of light here, but it's still quite dark in person! Or maybe I'm just convincing myself of that because I love when he is black during the winter! The infinity symbol was chosen for no particular reason. I remembered that one of my favorite singers, Adam Lambert, has infinity and a Eye of Horus as tattoos. I think he said in an interview one time that the infinity sign symbolizes the infinite connection and energy exchange between him and the audience. I'm not sure how that applies to us, but we thought it would look cool!

Team Challenge/Octoberfest/Winter Plans

A few weeks ago we competed at Team Challenge, and I was very happy to have gotten in because I was on the waiting list until a week before. I was put on an Area VIII Novice YR team even though I'm not officially a YR yet. I plan on joining next year!

I decided to leave Tiamo at Dorothy's the week between fall break and Team Challenge. I had an 8:11 dressage time Saturday, but I decided to spend the night at Dorothy's and have Tiamo ride over there early Saturday morning (versus him being taken over Friday morning, dropped off at the stall, and being left there until late in the afternoon when I could get there). Unfortunately, and due to some miscommunication on my part, I was already running late when Dorothy arrived with Tiamo and parked by the old indoor. All my stuff was at my stall, and, originally, I was going to walk Tiamo over there to tack up. My dad appeared very briefly to help, but then he left to get my mom and sister from the hotel. I was on my own and trying to stay calm. I ended up having Lauren's mom drive me over to my stall to grab my tack, coat, brushes, etc, and Dorothy tacked Ti up at the trailer while I got ready.

It was very cold! It was around 35, and my feet and hands were especially numb. I had also been outside since 4am by that point. I was feeling kind of stiff! Since I was running late, I only had about 15-20 minutes to warm up. He was actually going quite nicely in the warm up, but when I got to the outside of the ring, he kind of wanted to start carting me around a bit. I was trying to ride well, and the test didn't feel awful by any means. It just wasn't nearly as good as our work at home. I figured I would score in the mid to high 30s.

I had not walked my course for show jumping so I headed over to the ring after I untacked. I always have to spend some extra time with show jumping courses so I remember them! I walked it twice and went over it in my mind several times. By the time I got back to the stall, I was somewhat aware that I was running late, but I thought I still had plenty of time. Upon arriving at warm up, the ring steward told me I was the next rider to go. I'm lucky that I have such a forgiving horse, and it was barely an hour after dressage because I only jumped the vertical and the oxer (which was terrible) before going in the ring. Usually he starts feeling excited at the gate, but I think he was confused with the whole situation! Our ride was better at the beginning than the end, but I think it was quite good considering the circumstances.

While walking my cross country course, Lauren told me I had gotten a 46 in dressage. I had her double check, and then I also looked because I was so confused about such an awful score! A 46 is very embarrassing, especially on Tiamo! Later, I watched the video and understood my score better, but I still think it was harsh. Dorothy said it was more like an upper 30s-40 kind of test.

In both instances, I put myself at a disadvantage because of my disorganization, and my performances, especially dressage, reflected that!

Cross country on Sunday made up for the rest of the weekend! I think it was one of my best rounds with him. Dorothy has helped me a lot already! We went at 8:15, and he was feeling kind of frisky in warm up which was funny. Anyway, I just let him go his own speed in between fences, but he had to hold up the other end of the bargain and come back again for the fences. Sometimes the preparation involved a few good tugs even though I was trying to be more subtle and soft about it. Of course my goal is to make the transitions back much smoother and with less hand. Dorothy also told me to circle if I needed to get him listening again. I did circle in two different spots: at the jump before the drop and the roll top before the water. I'm still confident in that decision. I needed time to slow a bit and get organized. Even with the circles, we still had one of the fastest times because the speed was only 350 or 375mpm.

The next weekend we went to Octoberfest and did USDF Training Test 2 and 3. Dorothy judged us, and her husband John warmed us up! Both tests were huge improvements over my Team Challenge test. His free walk is super great now! We should start getting at least 7s and probably even 8s or 9s on it next season! There is so much more time in the 20x60 long arenas, especially with the fairly simply Training tests. So much time to think!  I actually left the show without getting my tests, but Dorothy scored me an 84% on one of them! And both tests had errors! (In Training 2, I forgot the first salute and got -2. In Training 3, I did a transition too early in the second test, but she gave me a 4 instead of an error). Apparently, she thought it was an extremely good test but didn't mean to score me quite that well. I think she should judge me more often!

As far as winter plans go, Ti is getting a few days off when I go home for Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks, but he'll be coming home for Christmas. I'm possibly going to Dorothy's during my 1st week of Christmas break, Soon she will be gone until March 1st so it would be good to get some lessons in before that! January and February are probably going to be a bit rough, and the tentative plan is ride at least 3x a week to keep us both moving.

Also, Lauren came down and body clipped Tiamo for me today! We initially attempted to clip in (clip out?) Grumpy from the 7 Dwarves on his butt. It wasn't working so we clipped it off and did a T with an infinity symbol in the middle instead. It looks pretty good, and his coat is still very dark!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Random Rambles

I suddenly had random motivation to update this blog!

A lot has changed:

1. I moved 6 hours away to attend college in Kentucky
2. Tiamo of course came with me
3. He lived at Dorothy Crowell's barn for a month while I got settled in
4. I have been training with Dorothy for basically 2/3ish months. She is a little over an hour away so I've had lessons pretty consistently but not a certain time every single week. I'm already dreading her departure to Florida for the winter. Kind of depressing.
5. After Ti's stay with Dorothy, he moved to a private barn about 6 miles from me.
6. I have a trailer but not a truck (can barely drive my small SVU!) so rely on the other eventer at my barn/my dad for trailering. Luckily, she just started training with Dorothy too this year! But she's a senior so will be leaving me in the not so distant future! :(

Dorothy is awesome! I feel like I have already progressed quite a bit, but I'm a bit overwhelmed (frequently) with the amount I have to think about while riding now. It's mentally exhausting sometimes but worth it!

Some of things I have been working on:

Sensitizer Test
This has been HUGE for us! And it is so simple. I had heard of this and tried it half heartedly here and there, but A) Didn't realize how dead to my leg he could be and B) Never followed through. You have to be consistent. It goes like this...
1. Relax pelvis/hips and gently ask with "nice leg"
2. When he doesn't respond...swift kick(s). a.k.a "punishing leg"
3. Pull back to previous gait. Don't even try to be all perfect and use your body etc. Pull on the reins.
4. Ask with relaxing hips and "nice leg" again.
5. Grumpy trots off like a good boy because he's well trained and understands the sensitizer test.
6. When you do the next downward transition, you do things the right way. I realized that most of the time Tiamo will walk when I just start thinking walk, take a deep breathe, and exhale. For canter to trot, I squeeze with my knee and thigh/push my weigh into my heels/breathe.

Move My Leg(s)! ...and my seat
This goes along with the Sensitizer Test. Right now, I have to exaggerate this a lot, and I definitely don't have the hang of it yet. I was way too stiff and had a death grip with my leg. Dorothy stuck her hand under my calf during my first lesson and said, just standing there, I was using 75% of how much leg she uses on her horses. She described it as the amount of leg she would use at first for canter-halt transitions or extreme collection. Ha...yeah. I am working on not just being "picture perfect" in a still shot but actually moving and thinking and riding in real life.

1. I need to turn my toe out a bit so my thigh and knee can relax, and I can move my leg up and down. If I am asking him to do something (like to correct him leaning in on my inside leg or wanting to bulge out left) I can a give a swift, "scrape" of my heel on his side. Or if I just a little more leg, I can think about brushing his hair up a little. Otherwise, my leg is supposed to be moving in rhythm with him off his side, not kicking him. Basically, my heel is supposed to stretch down far and then come up even. However, a lot of the time, it ends up going down just a bit and then coming up above the toe a little.
2. Walking- I have practiced a lot of "extravagant legs" at the walk. This is where I really think about letting my seat move with his back and physically lift my legs (alternating, with the walk rhythm). The walk gets so much better when I do this correctly! When I get my "extravagant walk," then I get good trot transitions!
3. Canter- Same thing as trot, but I have a whole new of lengthening and shortening the canter! When I want to lengthen, I think about allowing and really letting my hips go. This is the easier thing to do. In order to shorten, I do NOTHING with the reins. I just (just, haha. This can be so hard!) move my legs OFF HIS SIDE up and down quicker. When I do this right, it is so great! Dorothy pointed out that his canter his perfect for learning this (plus he's so well trained) because his rhythm just stays the same, and he will actually just shorten and lengthen his stride without changing that. She said many horses, especially green ones, will speed up and slow down a bit.

Other random thing- turn my chest in the direction I'm going but keep my eyes between his ears. This is really hard going to the left. My left shoulder definitely has something wonky going on with it.

Okay, so that's already a lot, but there is so much more too! Like the fact that I have heard...

"Hand the tall lady the glass" when going to the left (forcing me to use my inside LEG instead of rein to fix things. Plus, it fixes my super ingrained habit of carrying my left hand lower). I also have been simply widening my right hand (but don't have to raise it) to accomplish the same thing the other direction.

"Carry your champagne glasses" and "Your champagne is pouring out!" in order to make me hold the reins correctly.

"Look at the weather vane, now the cross, now the door..." while making me use my eyes to actually do my 20m circles properly.

"Push the saddle with your seat up over his ears" while schooling drops (this was actually my very first lesson with Dorothy ever! Cross country schooling at Flying Cross). I have to learn how to relax and go with his motion. I was getting super propped and frozen which was making him take stabbing stutter steps before going down.

"No praying to the eventing gods"! ...she really called me out on jumping ahead on our cross country schooling. Didn't even realize I was doing it!

"Pick up your knitting!". Dorothy does not like the "Jimmy Wofford" one rein and grab (my name for it) for subtle rein adjustments because she thinks it stops active riding. I have to practice creeping up the reins. The "Jimmy Wofford" is okay for jumping and going from the free walk to medium walk during a dressage test.

Today we worked on the dressage test for Team Challenge this weekend! I learned a ton about how important my eyes are during the test. It's just as important as looking where I'm going while jumping! My "box turns" in Novice Test B were SO MUCH better because of this. And I learned how to make the free walk way better! Start it in the corner so he's already beginning to stretch. Normally, he always pops up and starts gazing around during the free walk. Dorothy said he is just releasing from the stretch. I just really turn my knees in and squeeze with my thighs to let him know to keep stretching, then relax, than "clamp," etc.

And yesterday, Lauren (Dorothy's WS) and I jumped in the freezing rain and basically darkness. We had to squeeze in doing a course before the event! Since we didn't exactly have a lot of time (i.e. I'm not kidding...it became night time. No arena lights. Couldn't see. Windy. It was almost sleeting instead of raining on top of the big hill, next to the mountain), we warmed up before she got there. It gave me a good idea of my abilities without her there to remind me of everything, and Tiamo was very good. It was fun!

So this was super long and rambly. It's terrible grammar and probably has tons of errors, and I should be doing my homework. But I felt the sudden urge to try to write everyyyything down before I lose motivation again.

The End.

P.S. I also had a semiprivate jumping lesson with Jim Graham and David Adamo, but now I really, really need to do homework so I'm not writing about it in depth. I will just throw random words that describe it... posting the canter, "French whore," "Lose your rigidity!", relaxing my lower back, square turns, uphill, round motor boat.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Motivational Photo

I decided to post this photo as motivation for myself to finish writing about the David O'Connor clinic!

Friday, June 3, 2011

David O'Connor Clinic- Showjumping Exercises

*Sorry for incoherency or editing mistakes. Very long post! Took me forever to write.

Day 2 dawned bright and early because I had the great fortune of being in the first group. This made my weekend much better because it was still cool outside when my group rode! 

Day 2 focused on the basics, and in hindsight, it set us up perfectly for the next two days. We didn't do complicated exercises or jump great heights, but that was actually great. First of all, it boosted my confidence and allowed me to think about David's principles during the lesson instead of worrying about jump height or difficulty. Second, it was a nice breather for Tiamo because he ended the session barely sweating and full of energy. He worked extremely hard and did a lot of jumping the next two days so this was a needed "break". 

We started the lesson trotting and cantering over two poles. David explained that everything that happened over the two poles was exactly what happens on course in stadium or cross country, but a mistake over the poles does not have the same consequences as making the same mistake at a 4ft vertical or solid cross country jump. From the beginning, David wanted us thinking and learning for ourselves. He said he sees too many trainers talking in too much detail about everything, and their students never really learn to ride through problems on their own. I think I fall into this trap. I wait for people to tell me to do something instead of reacting; my brain is often too slow to respond or even doesn't recognize my mistakes.

So this is how he breaks things down:

There are 4 things the rider is responsible for and can control (in this order): direction, speed, rhythm, and balance. We mainly focused on speed and direction, but rhythm was a topic that popped up as well, especially for me. 

He wanted us to think in a 2-step process- 1)What? 2)How? 

The answers to the What? were in relation to speed and direction. Speed up or slow down? Turn wider or cut in? 

Riders need to think What? before going into the How? 

I fell into the trap and illustrated the need for this teaching tool (i.e. thinking What? first) when Tiamo cantered over the first pole but trotted out. He asked me what happened, and I replied that I needed more leg. This is one of David's biggest pet peeves! "More leg for what? Bigger stride, more collection? More leg for what? Your legs can do a lot of things! Everyone always replies more leg, or I needed to half halt. Two most common answers. But then nothing ever changes when they say that's what they are going to do". He wanted us to think simpler in terms of speed and direction. So as I came around the next time he asked what I was going to do. "Speed up!" I said. Ti broke to trot. The next time around he stood in my path, and I had to go around him. Ti kept cantering. "So what did you really need to change?". And I realized I had needed to change direction. 

So this opened up his next point about 3 situations in riding:

1. Rider does not recognize problem
2. Rider recognizes problem
3. Rider recognizes problem, tries to fix it, and horse doesn't respond

There are two scenarios in #2. Sometimes the rider recognizes the problem but doesn't do anything about it, or the rider recognizes the problem and fixes it.

#3 is a training issue with the horse.

And I say recognize "problem", but it also relates to knowing how to replicate a good ride. You have to recognize how you got that good ride to replicate it!

Next, we moved on to warming up over a vertical on a circle. We did that well a few times, and David had me shorten my stirrups one hole. We transitioned into jumping the vertical and then a forward/"competition length" 5 strides to another vertical. David wanted us knowing and reacting to what was going to happen as we were a couple of strides from the first vertical. "What is the point of knowing the distances?" he asked. To know how to adjust. (And depending on the distance, you can obviously do a different number of strides. He said people can really start getting different numbers on distances longer than 4 or 5 stride). If you come into the jump and realize you're going to be short, then you either need to land and really press on or hold for the extra stride. The decision should be made before the first jump, not a stride or two into the line.

So David would call out "What are you going to do?" as we came up to the first. and we had to reply speed up, slow down, or stay the same. 

David's groups kind of got the short end of the stick when it came to Saturday. We were in the covered arena which apparently Karen hates; she always teaches in the outdoor arena. However, sometime before our lesson, a worker had left the sprinkler system on too long in the covered arena, flooding it. He had messed up some other times as well and was fired on the spot. The arena was still very deep and slippery in most areas though. 

After the 5-stride exercise, David decided we were going to crash Karen's group. This situation was so funny, and I was literally just laughing out loud at the insanity of 10 riders sharing an average sized arena, all jumping. Karen yelling and threatening. David quietly communicating with his hand signals that he explained he uses with all his riders at events. He said he never uses his voice unless the rider is next to him. 

We did a forward 5 stride to a 2 stride. This was pretty uneventful. Tiamo was good, not much to say about it.

We moved onto a 4-stride. David told me to count upward 8 strides from the jump. He said it's not so much a rhythm exercise as it is a mind exercise. The rider can recognize their "pushing" mistake when their voice goes up "5, 6, 7, 8! ) I've been told to count before, but David was unique in the fact that he told me to start counting farther out and not end on numbers like 4 before the fence. He said there is more of a sense of urgency when ending on 4, and I needed to stay relaxed and waiting in the last strides.

Next, David told us about the "jumping into the circle" exercise. It's simple but really helpful. "Jumping into the circle" entailed David drawing a circle on the middle of the landing side of the jump. It basically helps the rider stay straight and plan their line better, especially on a bending like we were doing. And it was surprising to realize that you probably aren't jumping as straight and centered as you thought. Everyone jumped off to the left or right of the circle at least a couple of times. 

We used the "jumping into the circle" while riding a 7? (can't remember) bending line, and it helped us go straight and then turn (and be straighter) to the second jump.

And that was it! Simple but fun and very important building blocks for the 3rd and 4th days.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

David O'Connor Clinic-Dressage

Dana and I set off for Holly Hill on Thursday morning. It was a 6 hour drive, but it was uneventful and fun. And we enjoyed telling everyone about the Middle Eastern man we met at the gas station who told his grandfather bred horses and killed anyone who wouldn't give away or sell their horse to him. He was serious. After he said that and walked around to the other side of the trailer, Dana made me leap into the truck so we could drive away real fast. She said we looked like lot lizards (i.e. prostitutes). I was the navigator and got us kind of lost at one point as were trying to find AR-29. Dana just kept driving. I was kind of freaking out, and her words were "We're going south which is the direction we needed to be going. If we hit the ocean, we know we went too far". 

I had a 45 minute semiprivate dressage lesson in the afternoon on Friday. After watching 3-4 groups before me, I definitely noticed some common themes. David wanted to see the ability to transition within the gait, and he especially wanted to see the forward part in the lower level groups. I saw at least 2 other people from my jumping group ride, and they did the same transitions within the gait but also added changes of direction and lateral work at the end. I was very excited to see David using leg yield against the rail as a exercise. I had done it before but recently read an older Jimmy Wofford article where he talked about it, and I schooled it at home during the days leading up the clinic. 

David asked me about my past experience, and I told him about how I had competed a couple of times at Training, and Tiamo went Prelim with Allison. And I also mentioned that we had gone Novice five times because of some setbacks, mainly the EPM. He asked me if he had any vices or problems, and I wasn't very prepared with an answer and couldn't think of much. I'm honestly not sure what my biggest issue is, but I ended up telling him I needed to get Ti more on my aids and in front of my leg so he isn't either being lazy or carting me around.

Tiamo was excellent, and he was super responsive from the beginning. After watching us warm up, David had us do transitions within the trot on a 20m circle. He had set up cones for everyone to go through to really guide us to make perfectly round circles. One of the first things he asked me to do was really put some effort into posting higher and slower when we collected the trot. We then did the same at the canter, and he pointed out that I allowing Ti to fall in on my right leg. He also asked me to put my weight in the outside stirrup, push my inside hip forward, and bring my inside shoulder back. When we moved onto to some lateral work, it became more apparent why he had been asking me do that. 

I have always had problems with my left shoulder wanting me to more forward, and my right shoulder back. It's not that I don't work on it because I think about it every day, but I realized today how awkward it feels to me when my shoulders are truly even and straight.

Anyway, we started doing the leg yield against the rail, and Tiamo and I were doing pretty great to begin with. David stopped me twice, and it got even better after both. First he stopped me to talk to me about moving my hips from side to side. Leg yielding on the rail off my left leg, I would put my weight left to right, left to right on my seat bones. When my weight went into my right seat bone, my left leg naturally pressed against his side. Then I naturally released my leg when I moved my weight back left. It was something I had never heard before, and Ti really started moving off my leg even better afterward! 

He had me halt again after I started leg yielding on the diagonal to talk about my shoulders. He told me it was much easier for me going to the right because my shoulders naturally turn to the right, but when I was going to the left and thinking about bringing my left shoulder back, I was finally just straight! I had to really concentrate on it to make my left shoulder come back. Fixing my shoulders and using the left-right weight shift helped me get Ti really crossing over and moving over off my leg beautifully. I was barely using my reins as an aid at all. He was very light and just going off my seat and legs. 

My homework is to do some thinking about my left shoulder and ride bareback, if possible, to get a better idea of how his back moves underneath. He said it can help a lot with understanding how to use to my seat better as well as my hip placement and weighting.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jump School

So yesterday evening I did my jump school as planned. It went decently considering I haven't had a jump lesson in 2 months! Tiamo was fabulous as always. Dana didn't jump Ava, but she helped me set up the grid anyway. It was the one from the first clinic we did with Allison: bounce, 1-stride, bounce. I made one bounce two small verticals and the other two crossrails.

We warmed up over some bounce cavaletti, and he was pretty responsive. He went through the grid well, but the second bounce was consistently too tight (he started drifted slightly in an effort to make more room) until I started paying more attention to the quality of the trot coming into the grid. Dana reminded me of that, and she was right. When I really tried to get a bouncier feel with more impulsion, he bounced straight through. I also cantered around over a few small fences several times, piecing together mini courses, just to practice getting a nice rhythm going.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Clinic Countdown

I've been waiting to write anything about this because I didn't want to jinx it! On Thursday, Tiamo and I are going to Holly Hill in Benton, LA for a four-day Karen and David O'Connor Clinic! Dana and Ava are also going with us, and we're both training with David. We signed up for this clinic in November and have been looking forward to it for a long time! Because of our time off in April, I'm not feeling quite as on top of things as I would have liked, but I'm still feeling pretty comfortable about my riding. Unfortunately, I'm probably a little rusty jumping because I haven't had a jumping lesson since mid-March! I do have a semiprivate dressage lesson and gymnastics/grid day to help me get into the groove and get to know David's teaching. The clinic format is: Day 1- semiprivate dressage, Day 2- gridwork, Day 3- showjumping, and Day 4- Cross Country.

Ti has been doing great! I can't remember if I wrote about his head tossing, but he had been sneezing and tossing his head constantly, especially undersaddle. He did this last fall as well, but it went away after a couple of weeks. He also didn't do it every single day last fall. Dr. Phelps came out and drew blood for an allergy test and ordered some antihistamine to give him for 2 weeks (I think Cyproheptadine). She told me that it might take a few days to work, but it helped after one dose! The allergy test came back and showed the main things he was allergic to are flies, pollen, and a few different types of weeds. He can't show on it, but I'm not going to another event until July so it's fine for now. I decided to have Dr. Phelps order some more so he can stay on it another 2 weeks, and then we'll take him off it and see if the Spring allergies have passed.

I also finally learned how to give IM shots! I've given him his Pentosan shot twice, and he is such a good boy about it!!!!! He doesn't even flinch for shots. I'm kind of bad at it and don't like doing it though. Both times I gave it to him, I accidentally stuck the needle in quite slowly which I know makes it much more painful. I need to learn to do the quick "stab".

He's been feeling great! Today we're doing some gridwork with Dana and Ava which will be fun.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Tiamo has been 100% sound the past three days. The little bit of weirdness seems to be gone. Knocking on wood! I'm scared of posting this and jinxing us. I've ridden him three times. We walked for 25 minutes the first day. I trotted just to see how he felt, and he was kind of stiff behind. The next day that stiff feeling went away after a lap around the arena. Then yesterday he felt completely normal from the get go; I had walked him a lot before trotting. We hacked around near the arena, did a bunch of turn on the forehands and backing up, and then trotted. The previous two days we did a line of 5 cavaletti at the walk (at the second lowest height, just a little bit off the ground), and yesterday we trotted over them. His stifles did catch twice yesterday. They were in our trot/walk transitions, and I don't think I prepared him well enough/kept my leg on in those instances. So...looking good so far! I'm going out there in just a little while to ride again. Hopefully the pastures will dry out a little more so we can do some trotting and cantering out there. Dana and I went on a walk hack, but some areas were quite muddy and wet so we didn't do anymore than that.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Soundness Update

After the first visit from Dr. Phelps, Tiamo's scrape healed, and she returned to check out his hind end. Unfortunately, I could not be there because of school, but my mom was there. Dr. Phelps jogged him and then flexed him, and he was a Grade 2 in both hind legs. She took X-Rays, and he had some arthritis in his stifles and hocks, more in his stifles. She recommended injecting his stifles, and my mom agreed. She injected them with hyaluronic acid, a steriod, and a tiny bit of antibiotic to prevent infection. Following that, he had 1.5 days of stall rest and 3 days of turn out before I started riding him lightly. He was 90% better and almost all of the stifle locking/slipping had stopped (although it hadn't been locking frequently before). He was still "locking" once in awhile after standing in one place awhile, like coming out of the stall or crossties. But...he was still not 100%. He was not lame; he even seemed to work out of it a few times, but he was dragging his hind feet a bit, especially the right hind, and he didn't feel normal. I waited a few days, but after it didn't clear up, I called the vet. She came out and jogged/flexed him again, and he was about a Grade 1. She told me I basically had three options: see how he was after getting his feet done by the farrier the next day (He was only just at 5 weeks. Slightly long toes but not bad), inject his hocks, or do nothing. I trusted her opinion and went with my gut, and I decided to go ahead with the hock injections.

He did have a loading dose of Adequan and was getting it once a month. After talking to Allison at the last clinic, we decided to order some Pentosan which we ordered straight from Australia. I'm one lucky girl, and Tiamo is a spoiled horse! Right now, we're going to follow the instructions on the website which say to give it once a week for 5-6 weeks and then wait 6 months. He'll get Adequan before every event or clinic as well. And he's getting Estrone shots once a month for awhile for muscle building. He's going to be poked with a needle a lot I guess!

So Poplar Place Area 3 Championships isn't happening, and I think our next event will be Champagne Run in July. He's on Day 2.5 of turn out (He got turned out in one of the small paddocks for a couple of hours Sunday). I get to ride tomorrow!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Poplar Place Cross Country Video!

I'll post an update of his cut/lameness thing this weekend, but he's doing fine! It ended up that his stifles were giving him a little trouble; he still needs more muscle there after his time with EPM. So we'll be using Dana's new cavaletti every day, and as soon as it's summer vacation, we are going to try to go to Shelby Farms to work on the hills every weekend! We're hopefully going this weekend. It will also be a good way for me to start driving the truck and trailer.

280-Kristen Gallo-Tiamo-NR-XC-27Mar11 from CatchRide LLC on Vimeo.

My video! I've been waiting almost 4 weeks for this thing to be uploaded! For me, this looks pretty good. I had a lot of fun doing it! However, the 2-stride and jump afterward are TERRIBLE. I'm really embarrassed about that part, and we also took (less dramatic) fliers elsewhere, bad Kristen. One immediate thing I will do before the next show is shorten my stirrups two holes. And of course there are other things that need a fixin' that I'm aware of.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jump Rope


I listened to this song many times on the way to Poplar Place, and it's very catchy.

After the Up of Poplar, there is now a slight Down. When he walked out of the crossties Tuesday afternoon (4/5), his walking looked a little off. I thought his left hind looked a little funny but everyone else noticed his left front. I jogged him for Dana, and he basically hopped along holding up his left front. I decided it must be only his left front and that it might be an abcess. However, there wasn't really any signs of one. Dana poked at his left front shoulder too (important later), and he reacted very slightly. Actually, maybe not at all. There wasn't any heat or swelling there. I maybe felt a little rough patch/scab on very top, inside part of his leg when grooming him but probably assumed it was the little scabby stuff he gets once in awhile there. I packed his hoof with Magic Cushion and wrapped it.

The vet came out yesterday afternoon, and I took his diaper/vet wrap/duct tape boot off to jog him. He walked normally but was still lame when I jogged him. The left hind was much more visibly weird. So she flexed his hock/stifle area and front pastern, and I jogged him several more times. She thought that every time we jogged off he looked like he wanted to canter. I thought he was just "hopping" weirdly for lack of a better term. There wasn't much variation between the front and back flexions although he was a bit worse after the hock flexion. That time he really looked discombulated with legs going four different directions. She also did some of the neurological tests for safe measure because his small relapse last summer presented itself more as a lameness at first too. She couldn't pull him off his path during the tail pull, he spun around as coordinated as a Reining horse in the spin test, and before Poplar, I had Bill's vet check him out while getting the Health Certificate, and he did yoga-like moves with his legs no problem.

Right before we left the arena, she noticed a small scrape (just the hair gone), some slightly swelling, and warmth on the inside of his left front leg, near his chest. He reacted strongly with barely any pressure. She shaved some of the hair off to get a better look and couldn't tell if it was a scrape or possibly a mild puncture wound. So she decided to give me antibiotics and Fura-Zone, and I need to coldhose it ~20 minutes 1-2 times a day. She also gave him a tetanus shot just to be careful. On Monday, unless he's dramatically better, she's coming back in order to do Xrays and blocking. She thinks there could be a possibility that he's being a big baby about a tiny scrape but the hock/stifle flexion is still something to think about.

All that is very minor compared to what was happening at our barn while I was dealing with Ti. My Down is no big deal compared to it. I'm happy Ti is still happy and fine despite his somewhat mystery lameness.

Just before I drove into the barn, the barn manager's horse was galloping with two other horses in the pasture when he slipped and fell. He was on a flat, grassy, dry area but somehow he slipped. I don't think they realized how bad it was until the vet got there and determined he had broken his shoulder. Within an hour, the owner went from watching her horse in the pasture to putting him to sleep out there. It was a horrific freak accident, and I feel very badly for her and her daughter. I wish I could so something to take away the pain, but I know they just need time to deal with it. RIP Myles. He was a very pretty dark bay and full of personality, and I know he's very missed. :(

Poplar Place Recap

I originally wrote a recap a few days after Poplar Place, but I deleted it because it kept showing up as one huge paragraph. I'm way too OCD to keep that! So I'm just going to do a brief recap again.

Dressage- My dressage ring was originally in the arena that ended up having very, very deep sand footing. They moved it to the usual cross country warm up which was much better, but it did have some divets and slightly slippery footing, especially in the corners. We had an absolutely great warm up that was less than 20-25 minutes. Our test wasn't quite as good but still a very solid test. I could have prepared better for the corners and my transitions. I also got slightly sloppy about being accurate with the geometry. We got mostly 7s, a couple of 6s, and three 8s for a 32.2.

Stadium- My warm up was fairly good, but I let him be behind my leg at the beginning. Then the last few jumps were good. We were both relaxed, and he was even a bit on the lazy side. The first two fences were good, and then I started tipping with my shoulders. When I tip with my shoulders, he tends to start taking off earlier and landing stronger. I really tried to be a thinking rider, sit down and "lift and lighten him" like Allison says, but I wasn't getting it done. I ended up steering him around very sweeping turns and pulling too much so we ended up with 2 time penalties. I think I really need to focus and light a fire under myself to ride better than I have been. At the very least, I saw WAY scarier rides at Training although that's a terrible excuse, and I did have a better round than January Poplar.

Cross Country- I used a Gag instead of his normal Slow Twist Full Cheek. I really do not need that strong of a bit and plan on going back to the Full Cheek, but looking back, I don't regret using it because it made me let go of his face in between fences. I know I need to get out as much possible and practice pacing, and I have been doing this when the footing isn't super wet. Unfortunately, it has been very, very muddy and wet recently, but I've fit in a few 'gallops' in between that. Using the gag finally made me realize that I'm not going as fast as I think I am. I do think I could have been a little softer to and over the fence, but it was an enormous improvement over January Poplar. It was a pretty small, straightfoward course anyway, but he made it so easy! I felt like we were balanced up and down the hills, and there were some fairly steep ones on course. Many of the horses were stopping at the first fence as well as peaking at the Dog Cabin with cutout. I wasn't really expecting any issues in the first place, but he was very good. I'm really looking forward to seeing the CatchRide Video so I can see what it looked like!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Poplar Here We Come!

This week has been busy so far! Homework (200+ pages of Love Medicine....yay. Not) is calling my name, but I really don't feel like getting off the couch!

I left yesterday at 12 to make the 3-hour trek to Franklin. I've never driven that far alone, and I told my mom to take some Ulcerguard because she was so nervous my car and I were going to be flattened like a pancakes by a semi on I-40. I survived*! And gained even more appreciation for my parents; the interstate is very boring.

Jump Lesson
He got picked up and trailered down the street to Bill's ring to jump so we could do the grid set up (Crossrail-Bounce-Vertical-One Stride-Vertical-Two Stride-Oxer).

We were jumping out of the more forward stride again today which worked out very well. My position is stronger than it was at the beginning of the year, and I feel less of a need to go snail's pace in order to feel in balance. I do think I will need to continue to be careful about my organization after the fence (i.e. Keep riding the canter and think about where I'm going in order to do it well) on course, but we were doing fine Sunday and today.

We did a lot of angled lines today! I planned on taking pictures but never got a chance. I haven't done much of that with Ti, but that's where his experience comes in to play! He knows what he's doing and takes care of me. We did a Coop-Forward 3-stride-Angle Vertical, Angle Vertical-steady 3-stride-vertical, and a Angle Vertical-5? Strides-Angle Oxer. We pieced that together with the two outside lines and had some really great, forward rides. One of my favorite parts of the lesson was when I did the forward 3-stride (and got a little long but right out of stride to the Vertical) and then came right back and easily did the very steady 5 stride in the 4-stride line.

Good boy! :)

I changed tack quickly and had Bill hop for 5 minutes to get a quick tune up. He said his canter was straighter, and I was happy because I have worked on counter canter every single ride to get him straighter again (and myself straighter of course). Then I got on for 10 minutes and really got a supple, bendy, forward trot and canter. And we were straight!

So I'm very excited about Poplar, and I think I'm much more prepared and riding better than our first event there in January (which was also our first event in 7 months!). So off we go tomorrow morning at 8am!

*However, my poor car still got a beating. My superior reversing/driving skillz led me to scrape some of the paint off the front right side of it backing out of a garage. Today, I almost missed/kind of did miss the turn to the barn Tiamo is stabled at. How did I fix this? A mini off roading adventure by slamming to a stop, off the road (the drop ended up being much bigger than anticipated), and through grass. Except somehow my car ended up in neutral and...just yeah it wasn't my brightest moment. So far there haven't been any visible damages from it (yet).

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Jump Lesson

Anyway, I didn't write about it in my last post except for the title, but our next event in obviously March Poplar! It's this coming weeking, and we're entered in the Novice Rider division. I'm officially an Amateur this year, and it's kind of sad not being in the Junior division anymore. I feel kind of...old.

I had a jump lesson today with Bill that went very well and was a good confidence booster. It was fairly short but productive! I did mini courses at solid Novice/small Training height and worked on staying soft with my elbows and seat, waiting with my shoulders, and riding my canter through the turns. Bill emphasized that I needed to canter a little more forward, especially through the turns, so I had something to adjust. At the beginning, I was coming into the jumps with a pretty slow, quiet canter. It wasn't underpowered, but it didn't give me many options if/when I messed up. When I added a little more forward and power, I had something to adjust to the fence. I know I'm not explaining it correctly in my writing, but I understand it within my riding. I think I did well with this part of the lesson!

Waiting with my shoulders, especially when I have to move up a bit to the fence, is always something I'm working on! I ended on a good note with this and had some very nice jumps when I did wait with my body.

Organization and a good canter after the fence was a part of the lesson as usual. Bill got onto me about just pulling back and letting his haunches start swinging out in turns (and also pulling him to the long distance. Pulling never works out in any situation! Luckily I only did this to the vert first warmup fence and then fixed it). The turning issue happened only a couple of times, and I had to do a circle and think about my dressage canter (Bending around my leg, having the soft connection on the reins, etc). I thought about my lessons with Allison during this as well, and I became better at maintaining the good canter around the turns or after the fence. Most of the time we did approach, take off, and land in the same quality canter, but sometimes we didn't, and I have to be quicker about getting myself together in that situation.

All in all it was very fun, Ti is such a good boy, and I can't wait to go back Tuesday! I have a lot to organize and repack before then too.

Countdown to March Poplar Place

It's been a busy month since the Allison clinic last month! The following Sunday, Dana and I were "trainers" for each other and did parts of the same coursework except the one stride vertical line was a low bounce, and one of the oxers became a Swedish made with wide planks. It was a pretty successful jump school for being on our own! The next evening I got a somewhat frantic text from her asking "Where is your horse?!". Ummmm. What? Long story, short. We found out Ti had a dwarf molar right under his eye last fall, and our equine dentist Dr. Galloway wanted to remove it because it was in a terrible spot if it were to become infected or crack. We had to wait until the Spring to remove it though. My dad had driven Ti over to the vet clinic that morning for his surgery; I had absolutely no clue that it was happening anytime soon. Unfortunately, the tooth was partially removed when his palette started tearing, a rare occurance that would happen to my poor horse because of my luck. It was sutured, and he had to be in the stall for 5 days. No grazing. No hay. Just soaked Senior 3x a day, antiobiotics, and E-Gard for his stomach. During the day, he was reportedly a little terror. But when I came at night, the barn was quieter, and he was a little angel (albeit a little more hyper than usual). As of now, there is a small part of the tooth still needing removal on 4/4. So that kind of messed up any riding up for awhile. I couldn't ride him for a week, and then I was swamped with schoolwork in the pre-Spring Break cram that always seem to happen before a school holiday. So I rode him 3 times after 1.5 weeks off, and then went out of town for 6 days. Not the best timing, but it was a really nice trip and my plane tickets cost $5 roundtrip which was hard to pass up.

I got back yesterday and took him for a hack. Today, my dad and I drove over to Nashville so I could have a lesson with Bill and drop Ti off. I'll be driving back in my car Tuesday afternoon! I'm sure my teachers will be thrilled, but I only have 1 month left of academic classes and 1.5 months before graduation!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Allison Springer Clinic-Day 2-Part of course

Fixing corner part of course! This is the third time.

Allison Springer Clinic-Day 2-Course


Allison Springer Clinic II-Day 2-Coffin course


Allison Springer Clinic II-Day 2

Warm Up

Allison Springer Clinic II-Day 2 Jumping

One of the first things I noticed as I walked into the ring was the gorgeous course set up! There was a lot to take in at first: the cavaletti lines set up in different spots, a 1 stride to 5 stride line of verticals, a square oxer, vertical, triple bar, the Aloha brush box under a vertical, corner, and a triple with the liverpool in the middle like a coffin.

Yesterday was fun!

We started once again with transitions within the gaits. Allison really drilled prompt and correct transitions. I found our trot/canter transitions much easier, and he was really coming back and forth quickly at the trot and canter. "Slow trot? Yes ma'm! Lengthen? Got it!".

We worked on separate parts of the course first. Of course we did the cavaletti, and we got it down much quicker obviously. Then we moved onto a figure eight pattern over the vertical and oxer. My need to become stronger and better with the closer distance showed up right at the beginning with this exercise.

Next we moved onto the coffin. I trotted it first and had to go over it a couple of times before he stopped pinging up over it and feeling a bit spooked. I had practiced over it a couple of weeks ago for fun. He got over the novelty of it quickly, trotting on it after two times. We put the whole coffin together, and he was great! The bounce cavaletti from the day before and warm up was the canter we needed for the coffin. Allison repeated bouncy canter a lot all day! We had a lovely ride through the bounce and one stride cavaletti and cantered right through the coffin easy peasy.

The corner was teeny and not a big deal except for my issues with the closer distance. We got it right twice and the move onto the full course.

The full course consisted of a right hand turn to the vertical, right hand around to the 5 to 1 stride line, 'gallop' on to the triple bar across the diagonal, then collect back for the coffin, back to the 1 stride and then a bending line to the oxer, rollback to the corner, another sharp rollback to the Aloha jump, and then the corner the other direction.

This course was so much fun to ride, and I really think it was some of the best jumping I've done on Ti. I got lost once prompting a "Be a thinking rider!" from Allison. I also flubbed up the corner, and it took me 3 times to get it right and continue onto the rollback-corner line.

This weekend really built on last month and the coursework wouldn't have been nearly as good without the foundation laid on Saturday. I always heard about how cavaletti were good to practice, but I didn't really know any exercises to do with them. Now I have something to work on, and I realize the need to practice A LOT over them. Definitely not just once a month for the clinic, and I even should be working over them multiple times a week. Maybe I should buy a book with cavaletti exercises! I'm also going to try my hardest (which is going to be challenging without a trainer for the next few weeks...until Bill gets back) to work on my riding to the closer distances. And it's really got nothing to do with learning to see my distance or a ride the distance but keep riding the CANTER correctly to get the closer distance.

I got a lot to work on, and I'm sad the clinic is over! :( But I really want Allison to be able to see an improvement when she gets back. And I want my jumping rounds to improve at my next event so I have great news to report to her.

ETA: One exciting thing about this weekend was the fact that I was getting the lead changes pretty consistently! (Or at least trotting and fixing it quickly). She only had to get onto to me a couple of times about getting it done. And we had some really nice ones both days!

Allison Springer Clinic II-Day 1 Jumping

We warmed up using transitions within the gaits and talked again about how we are the trainers of our horse. They need to respond to light aids and know that they'll get a release of pressure when they respond correctly. Being in front of leg was a big deal all weekend. It's a simple concept, but it's not always easy.

The group concentrated on cavaletti exercises for quite a long time. The lesson started with three fanned out cavaletti ridden over on a circle at the walk and trot. Everyone had to concentrate on maintaining bend through the caveletti and making sure the horse's were using themselves. It helped us start thinking about the "bouncy" feeling of a connected trot or canter. Then we moved on to cantering a short cavaletti bounce. I felt like my dressage lesson helped me to think about using my seat and thighs for straightness and turning because we did quite well the cavaletti exercises. In order to get and maintain the bouncy canter through the poles, I had to lighten Tiamo and have him hold it without trying to pull and use the reins to keep it slow. We would shorten for the bounce then canter on a few strides and come back again. After that, we all did the bounce cavaletti, circled back around and did a forward diagonal one stride, right turn back to a short one stride made of flower boxes.

The jumping began by cantering a vertical and oxer in the steady two stride line then putting the two together and using placement poles within the line. We ended on the two stride to a long 4-stride done in 5, back to the forward one stride cavaletti, and the short 1-stride flower boxes. I had to concentrate on keep Tiamo straight and riding him light and forward up to the base of the jumps.

A phrase Allison told me a lot both days was "Lighten and soften him". When he is light and soft then I can add leg to the fence and ride forward to the closer distances. The thing that became clear is my need to work on staying strong, waiting, and adding leg in the closer spots instead of 1) Leaving strides out or 2) Tipping, taking my foot off the gas pedal so to speak, and jumping weakly off the ground.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Allison Springer Clinic-Day 1 Dressage

Tiamo was trained and ridden by Allison for most of his life, and that's who we got him from so I was very excited when my friend at the barn decided to organize a clinic with her! We did one last month that was a big success, and she is back again this weekend!

This morning I started off with a private dressage lesson. Last month, one of things Allison had me work on was slowing Tiamo down and not letting him cart me around. He is "deceptive" in the fact that he is never actually running off or feels heavy in the hands, but he likes to start taking over sometimes. My tendency is to go into passenger mode and freeze, and it's something I've always been working on that's gotten much better over the years. This morning I worked on really getting him on my aids instead of just in a nice looking frame. I learned that I have the tendency to get tight and too strong in my right arm, leading to a weaker, less effective right calf and thigh. My left leg is much stronger and effective. Ironically, I have *always* liked going to the right more than the left.

Things to remember about my position:
Keeping the right hand level with the left.
-To do this I have to feel like my right hand is lower than the left.

Staying strong in my stomach and lower back
-This is deja vu from my lessons with Kim. She says the exact same thing about letting my stomach pump in and out. This also makes me frustrated at myself because I know I need to get my core stronger. And I'm writing this eating a (small!) piece of chocolate cake.

Keeping elbows in, using wrists for flexion
-She didn't mention this as much which I was happy about because I've been working on this every ride.

Sit on my butt! And let my hips move with the horse
-Self explanatory. I can sit my butt in the saddle and be still, but I have to learn to truly sit the trot by following his movement with my hips.

As far as exercises go, we mainly concentrated on us being straight and controlling the shoulder by using my seat, thighs, and outside rein and trying to NOT use my inside rein nearly as much. This lesson highlighted my overuse of the inside rein, especially to the right. She was a stickler about the trot/canter transitions and not letting the first stride be long or the trot get faster (deja vu of Kim again).

Later...Day 1 and 2 Jump Lessons.

Friday, February 11, 2011

November Dressage Lesson

This was my first dressage lesson with Bill in 6 months and after Tiamo had been there a couple of weeks in training. We wanted him to get a good start back into heavier work and jumping, and he looked great after his month there! Bill told me he had a lot of fun riding him which made me very happy.

We (or I really) have made some great progress since then! I cringe a teeny bit at these videos now, but considering my rustiness, I think it was a good lesson.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=up2maPUusxo Part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOpjMeSxDig&feature=related Part 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwqpwS4hxIQ&feature=related Part 3 (Bill riding him)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nb0slg-fSoU&feature=related Part 4

2011 Plans

I haven't updated this in forever. I'm just going to pretend that months and months haven't gone by and just start fresh. I don't think anyone reads this anyway, but if someone does and wants to know what happened between September and now, then comment and let me know!

The new season is starting up, and I'm very excited about it! Coming up next weekend is the Allison Springer clinic at my barn which should be great. The weather is looking very nice for that weekend as well (mid-50s).

Allison Springer Clinic (2/19-2/20)
Poplar Place (3/25-27)
Chattahoochee Hills (4/9-4/10)
Poplar Place/Area III Championships (5/6-5/8)
O'Connor Clinic at Holly Hill (5/27-5/30)

That is most likely the Spring schedule although things could possibly change. Tentatively, I'm also thinking....

Greg Best Clinic (6/7-6/8)
Champagne Run (7/15-7/17)
Pony Club Festival (7/23-7/26)
River Glen (8/6-8/7)
AECs (9/7-9/11)
Middle TN (10/8-10/9)

The schedule after August River Glen is especially iffy depending on where I decide to go to college in the fall. I have it narrowed down to my top two choices now, but it's a tough decision! First, I'm trying to plan second visits to both so I can attend classes and/or spend the night in a dorm.

Also, I'm going to try to post later with videos of our first real dressage lesson that was back in November, training plans, goals, etc.