Monday, July 28, 2008

Quick pick

Just a quick pic of me lunging Blue. She's getting slightly chubby!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Lesson with Vanessa

So the last fortnight hasn't been great at all.

Work has been really demanding (mentally and physically), I've been trying to hold make-up classes to earn some extra cash (only it takes up too much time and everyone has cancelled anyway), I've had virtually no money and hardly any time for my horses.

So things have been a little bit rough. I barely got through my last competition, we didn't get great scores but I wasn't too worried. We didn't have enough preparation.

Anyhow, things are starting to wind down a bit. I've got a months break before my next competition, and I'm starting to have 2 days off in a row.

I had a lesson with Vanessa Way today, it was great even though it took over half the lesson for my hands to de thaw! We worked on Medium work, since it's what is letting my test score down. I guess I just havn't worked out that button on Blue yet. But with a little help from Vanessa's dog, we discovered Blue has quite a nice Medium trot. It was so funny, the dog started chasing Blue down the long side of the arena snapping at her heels making her extend. When it came to the short end he would lag back a little, and on the corner he would start snapping and running along beside her. Blue got a little fed up in the end and gave a huge buck. I swear that's the 2nd time in 3 years she has bucked. I couldn't stop laughing, but we got some nice extensions in the end. I think now I just have to learn the feeling. It was so easy on Stylee, but Blue is a different horse.

What we did was collected Blue right up in the canter, and did lots of transitions from canter to walk and vice versa.

At the end of the lesson we had a 70% trot :) It was amazing!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Update On Stylee

I've been so busy with Blue and shows that I haven't updated on my lovely boy.

I noticed yesterday when he's trotting he can hold a straight line for about 10 strides, and then veers off slightly. Every day he is slowly getting better, he came from not being able to stand up, to being able to walk, trot and canter perfectly fine. Now it's just a matter of re balancing and straightness. But then again, every day it is improving.

So everything is looking good!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Practice, practice, practice

I don't know why but I always wait until the very end of the day to ride. Never in the mornings (unless I have a show). That was toady's scenario anyway.

Blue was pretty good today, I'm still amazed at how well she went on the weekend. Now, it's just harnessing that feeling, teaching myself how to use it, and the aids to keep her (and me!) in that state of harmony.

One thing that helped me greatly-and was what I believe made my test a success, was visualization.

The night before my show, I settled in comfortably on the couch, and visualized me riding my test over and over. I imagined other rider's (Andrea's Helgstrand, Anky etc) riding my test and then I gradually replaced them with me, and I imagined Blue being soft, round and performing each and every move with ease. Visualization is not a easy thing to do. It's hard to imagine riding the perfect test when you haven't actually done it, but I just kept forcing my mind to think about every moment I've had Blue in that bubble of perfection, and to put that in my test. The funny thing was, I hadn't physically practised my test that week. I had only imagined it. And I managed to score my best score in my Dressage career so far.

So my point is, visualization works! As long as you believe you can and you will.

I have made a goal for myself, and that is to practise in my mind daily. Now that the weather has turned to crap and I can't ride as much, this seems to be a great way to perfect my riding.

Now it's just practice, practice, practice!

Monday, June 23, 2008

My Apprenticeship in Dressage

I have just begun reading a book called 'Riding Towards the Light: An Apprenticeship in the Art' by Paul Belasik. It's quite an interesting way to look at Dressage, almost like a blog turned book type thing.
Anyway, I think the whole concept is quite cool.

Here's a snippet from the back:

His apprenticeship, as he calls it, lasted about thirteen years. It involved traversing thousands of miles. It entailed countless hours of rigorous practice. It meant researching through centuries of literature penned by the great riding masters of the past. It took hours and hours of observation and lectures from latter-day masters, such as Henri van Schaik and Nuno Oliveira. It even encompassed the study of Zen Buddhism and martial arts.
Riding Towards the Light provides more than an enthralling narrative. It discusses and offers practical information on important issues such as the use of the seat, hands and legs, balance, and the half-halt. As such it will be of tremendous value to riders, trainers and judges and therefore deserves a place in the library of every serious dressage enthusiast.

I will definatly keep you posted on the interesting parts.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Another step up the scale

This week I finally feel like I've unlocked one of the many secrets of Dressage, and developed an even greater bond with my horse. It's such an amazing feeling to have a perfect ride after a long period of frustration and feelings of not being good enough.

We got 65.6% in our first test, our personal best! We led the field by 14%.

The things I've learnt about Blue this week...

Warm up: When warming up, walk her on a loose rein with no contact on her mouth, do the same in trot a couple times around the arena, then gradually take up a contact encouraging her to stretch. I used to get on her and take a contact asking her to stretch right away, but she would tense up and it would be a struggle for half an hour getting her to relax over her back. I've learnt she just needs time to get out the kinks and relax mentally.

Feed: We ran out of Meadow Chaff so we gave her Lucerne Chaff for a week, and what a difference! She has just the right amount of energy, and is more relaxed mentally.

Medium work = softer, more supple horse: We have been practising more Travers and Half Passes. It's starting to help engage her more and she is less likely to 'run' off with me now.

But the best thing wasn't winning my class and getting a great percentage.

It was the feeling of complete and utter connection, perfect balance, and being truly at one with my horse. I can honestly say it is the best feeling in the world.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Jumping for joy

I had my first jump in about a year yesterday. It was so much FUN!! And what a change!

I schooled Blue over raised poles for about 3/4 of an hour and concentrated on getting her using her back end, and at the end of our ride I set up a wee jump as a reward. She was so funny! She loved it. She was doing a nice collected canter around the arena and as soon as she saw the jump she practically galloped into it and leapt over it like it was 1.30m!!

Silly twat she is.

I'm getting tempted to start doing a bit of Show Hunter now...

Did I just say that?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A bit of an absence

Yes I know it's been awhile, but I've had good reasons. Let's just say, I had a bit of a confidence knock. Instead of coming on here and blogging my anger and frustration, I took a bit of a break.

But I'm back!!!

Anyway, I'm sure there is a time in every dressage rider's life where they have a bad period. What makes it more difficult is when you think you are going really well, and you go to a show and get absolutely slammed. Dead last in each test, crappy marks. You get the picture.

So I took a few weeks off to figure things out again, and it worked. As a dressage rider, I've learned it's really important to have that 'push-through' quality. And that's what I did, I had to push through. I could either give up or go on, since riding is my life, I chose to ignore bad comments and get on with it.

It paid off, even though my percentages today weren't incredibly good, they were getting better. I even won both tests (there were only two of us in level 3 but hey!).

I've learnt that winning isn't everything, it's the performing I love and being able to show my horse to the best of her ability. She may not be as young and as flash as those grand-prix half million dollar horses, but she is the smartest, most giving horse in the world. She has taught me everything about dressage, and she's the reason I'm where I am today.

So, the motto of the day is:

'No matter what negative things people have to say, never let them get to you, never let them get you down, keep fighting, never give up, and give it your all'.

You only need you to believe in yourself.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Getting better

Well I havn't blogged in a few days, I have a very busy life you see (especiqally when you work weekends!). Last week I was lucky enough to have some lessons with Vanessa Way, which were fantastic. Blue is going better than ever, we worked on getting her more round and active, and we worked on her shoulder-in, traver and.......half pass!! Yes that's right grandma Blue can half pass!!!

I was super excited, she did them quite well too, maybe she will take me to Medium. I also discovered that Blue will shoulder-in great on the right rein, and does traver great on the left rein, and find's it hard to shoulder-in on the left rein and traver on the right rein! The natural crookedness of the horse. So we've been warming up in walk, doing shoulder-in's on the left and traver on the right rein.

I love that horse more than anything.

Well today the weather is CRAP. I can't hear the T.V over the rain...ugh :( I have a competition in 2 days and I've only been able to ride once this week. But I'm sure if I practice 'in my head' we'll be ok. Apparently, if you practice via imagination, it will improve your performance than physically practicing. So I've been saying 'Isabel Werth' over and over when I ride, and it seems to work!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Finally...First ride on Stylee

I fought the weather yesterday and I finally got on Stylee. I thought about putting it off till a better suited day weather wise but i had already amped myself up and the wind didn't seem to bother him.

I started out lunging him first, on the left rein he was fine, you wouldn't think there was anything wrong with him, but he struggled a little bit on the right rein. His bad eye was on the inside and he couldn't see around the circle properly, but he still tried his heart out and progressively got better.

Once he had had a walk, trot and canter on each rein, it was time to get on. My heart was racing which was strange for me, I don't usually get nervous around my own horses, but I guess the accident made me lose confidence (especially when I saw him fall over all those times). I hoped he wouldn't fall over with me on him. I got on slowly, he didn't bat an eye lid. I started walking him around, letting him sort out himself, he was very wobbly. It felt like I was riding a drunk horse. If I didn't guide him with my outside rein, he would wobbly and fall out to the outside.
After a few laps he started to get the swing of things, he was still wobbly, but he could walk in a reasonably straight line. Time for a little trot. He was being very lazy, which I didn't really mind, but he sprang into a nice energetic trot which was quite well balanced. I realised the more forward I rode him, the better balanced he was. I brought him back to a walk and he seemed much better.

Back to his old tricks!

P.S: I swear my cat thinks it's a dog, she's carrying a sock around in her mouth and growling...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Palmerston North = Wind

So it's another extremely windy day in Palmerston North.

A lot of you may be thinking, it's only wind! That doesn't stop you from riding!

Well if you are thinking that you obviously have never been to Palmerston North.

It seems now that day light saving has finally ended, it has brought the crap weather with it. I was planning on riding Stylee for the first time today since the accident. He has been lunging well, and is quite balanced, so I figure I'll see what happens when I get on.

Hopefully if the wind and rain goes away I may be able to ride!!!

Oh, and here's a pic of Blue from the other day...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The flies are going to kill me!!

I finally got to work Blue today, she had three days off due to weather and work. The more fitter she gets the more sparkier she gets as well. This was the case today! Now that the weather is turning to custard, the sand flies are about. And there's not one thing Blue hates more than things flying around her head.

A few broken lead ropes later, I managed to get her saddled up and jumped on. I had a lesson with Andrea Raves last week, and she picked up on Blue's head swinging. So today I was working on keeping my outside rein stronger and steadier by holding a strap on my saddle blanket. As usual, Blue fought for about 20 minutes and wouldn't bend to the inside without softening her neck, but I just kept my inside rein open, outside rein steady and used my inside leg to ask for the bend. She eventually got it. I got some quite nice canter work out of her, she's starting to bend more on the right rein and really use her back, and the trot was starting to look quite good towards the end once she had loosened up.

Hopefully we'll be ready for Tielcey Park which is in 2 weeks! I think we did well to get up to Elementry in a month and a bit though.

First Love, First Blog

Well I guess you can't start up a blog without a introduction! SOOO here it is...

Well my name is Yvette, I work part time at JK Kids Gear and I'm 19. But enough about me, it's time to meet the gang!

This is Stylee. He started his career as a racehorse (a bad one) and then was snapped up by a leading eventing/dressage rider. She took him through to Level 4, which he was consistantly winning/placing. He has an amazing medium trot (constantly getting 8's) and is a real smarty bum. Unfortunatly after owning him for only 2 months, he suffered a tragic accident. I was lunging him, and he decided it would be fun to rear. Except he went a little too high, and flipped over backwards, landing on his head leaving him with severe brain trauma. He landed so hard on his head, he went blind for a few days, and couldn't walk (let alone stand up). The vet gave him a 30% chance of full recovery (and said he would probably never compete again). Luckily, my boy is a fighter, and he can now walk, trot and canter steadily on the lunge. Also he cut his right eye quite badly when he fell, and he has about 50% vision in his right eye (which is still healing). I plan to ride him again sometime next week, fingers crossed things go well.

This is Blue. She used to be dapple grey (she still has a slight dappling on the bum to prove it) but decided to change to flea bitten. She started her life living on the hills and was discovered one day by a dressage rider, who took her through the levels to Level 4. She was then sold to another girl who took her to NZPCA Dressage Champs, where her team placed 2nd. Then, I was lucky enough to stumble across her in the Hawkes Bay. She taught me everything about dressage, and took me to competing at Level 3. She's also a successful show horse. We're currently preparing for the Tielcey Park Winter Dressage Series, and aim to get in the NZPCA Dressage Champs team for 2009.
I also have a broodmare (Jaguar/Wharf's Son), and a miniature pony (she's one of those tiny show minis). So that is a basic sum up of me and my horses. Make sure you come back :)