Saturday, April 20, 2013

But first, you must ride him forward. Forward and straight.

The title is sage advice from our resident European.  :)   Asking for one pro ride a week may have been the smartest thing I've done since buying this horse, honestly.   Apollo is clever, talented, and rather green for his age.  So having A ride him has been really, really good for Apollo -- and for me.  I got to watch A ride him this last ride, and it was quite instructive.

I mean, I know I need to ask for more-more-more forward, always.  But actually seeing it in action and seeing how A developed it was helpful.  He had only the lightest of contact at first, letting Apollo get his hind end engaged and round up on his own.  Then, once he'd gotten that going, he started asking for more and more contact, more connection from the hind end through to the hand.   Again, obvious in theory, but good to watch in practice.

It was also nice to see that Apollo pulls the same things with A that he does with me: getting fussy about working hard, trying to overbend his neck on the right rein and avoid actual bend by popping his left shoulder out, getting pissy about going back to work if you halt and wait a few minutes to chat or whatever, etc.   Obviously, A deals with it better than I do, but this is not to imply that I don't deal with it adequately.  :)    And watching how Apollo worked through those issues was rewarding!

A was also really helpful in telling me what he was doing and how he was working to achieve it -- and he had nice things to say about Apollo.  ;)   I *must* be a horse person -- the best way to compliment me is to say something nice about my horse!   Anyway, he was saying that Apollo is a really kind horse, one I can trust, that you can tell the difference between a mean or an angry horse and one who's tired or doesn't understand, and Apollo is definitely the latter when he gets pissy.   Of course, this all agrees with my own opinion of Apollo, so ... yep.   A was very encouraging.  Much appreciated.

One of the things A talked to me about after he rode was the forward and straight bit.  He said that it's not really as important right now to worry about where Apollo puts his head, that it's much more important to just get him forward, forward, forward.   The second thing he talked about and that I'd watched him work on was adjustability within gaits; another obvious thing that's good to see in practice.

So when I headed out to ride today, my main goal was exactly that: to get Apollo forward in each gait.  My secondary goal was to work lengthened and shortened strides in each gait.   I felt like we had some real difference between this ride and previous rides -- lots of momentum, and I thought we were quite forward.  Apollo was a little goofy when MR brought his pasture mate in for a ride, but not much.  He was really more goofy about the very small, very wet spot in the arena; sheesh.  Up to and including basically teleporting himself five feet to the left mid-canter.  Silly beast.

I'm excited about tomorrow's lesson, too.  Not sure if we'll do any jumping, even of tiny cross-rails, but whatever we do, it'll be good for us!   But for now?  Sleeeeep.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Just start and see what happens.

For some reason I have no motivation to blog lately.  Maybe if I just start writing, things will happen.  :)

We've been having some really icky wind lately, up to and including a freak north wind that tore a chunk of the roof off the covered arena.  I am just done with wind.  I mean, yes, it's usual spring weather for this area, but I'm just tired of it.  I'm tired of expecting to wake up in Oz one of these mornings!

Fortunately, even though it's blowing a half-gale out there, Apollo hasn't been too fazed.  He really only gets worried when the mirror at A starts wobbling.  *grin*  I can't blame him, honestly.  He's not a fan of mirrors to begin with, no matter how well he ignores them once we get going, so when they go all weird, I can see how he'd be alarmed.

Not last Sunday but the Sunday before, we had our first jumping lesson of the year.  And by "jumping," what I mean is that I practiced my approaches and position while Apollo blithely went forward over a teeny crossrail.   Heh.   I also discovered in that lesson that we have some issues in the right lead canter, so we've been working on that lately.   The last few rides he's picked it up easily and politely, but they've been in my dressage saddle, so we'll see tonight.   I'll put on the jump tack and see how it works.

I've also been having fun riding with a friend -- her little horse is just adorable, and she's great company.

Let's see ... what else.  It's so nice to have our resident military rider back home!   Always good to have everyone home.  The barn doesn't feel right without her around, or without any of our usual suspects, really.  And everybody's home from a wildly successful show at Twin Rivers, too.   It'll be a nice few weeks with everyone around before they head back out to California for the next Galway show.  

I'm looking forward to lessons on Sundays and to Apollo getting pro rides on Fridays.

Yup, life is good.  :)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Hipy Brithdy!

You're so right -- I am late.  Again.   :)   I've been a bit distracted, although I have been riding, so in theory there are things to tell.

Most importantly?   HAPPY BIRTHDAY APOLLO!!

He's nine today for real.  :)   Happy birthday, best pony ever, and here's to many more birthdays together!

For his birthday present, Apollo got ridden by our awesome Magyar.  *grin*   There's video, even.  Apollo will go something like this in the trot for me, but I have to work harder at it than this rider does and it's not as consistent for me.    I have yet to get Apollo to canter this nicely, though.

Seriously, I'm just tickled.  I love my guy so much.  Heaps of talent and movement and a good temper; what more can I ask for?

Well ... actually ... I suppose I could ask for less spring squirrellies.  The spring grass is coming in, with all its glorious sugar, and the sun is shining, which means Apollo is just beside himself.   It's this that made me ask if one of our pros could put Apollo on their Friday ride schedule, since I have a standing Friday evening gig and can't ride that day.  A ride a week from one of them, plus five rides a week from me, ought to get Apollo sorted out wit a quickness, I think.   He was absolutely rotten for my poor, long-suffering farrier on Tuesday.  I don't ride on Mondays, and that plus spring plus general chaos at the barn just blew his little pony mind.  How embarrassing for me.  :/   Horses, man, I tell ya.

You read that right: that does mean that I'm officially committing to five rides a week.  ;)   Not that that's not what I strive for any day, but right now it's doable and necessary.   I've been riding in my jump saddle rather than my dressage saddle, working on my leg position and two-point.  Needs to be done, and when better than now?

Anyway, after Tuesday Apollo got progressively better.  To be expected, of course, but still.   I had a good ride last night, and obviously Apollo did well today.  I am looking forward to riding him tomorrow, after the tune-up he almost certainly got!