Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Eventing Has Gotten Harder. Now You Have to Jump Upright Wine Bottles- Karen O'Connor

Karen's lecture- the only 8am one you actually want to attend! Picture Credit Shelley Contin-Hubbs

Saturday morning started early because Karen wanted everyone there for a mandatory 8am lecture. I really enjoyed this b/c so many people sign up for clinics and show up to ride and then immediately leave. I'm of the mindset that if you sign up for the clinic you need to be there and watch the other groups too. You can learn so much from watching the other groups and clinics are not cheap. Why not stay and get as much info as possible? Now I completely understand that sometimes this isn't completely possible, but you should still be there as long as you can.

Her lecture was a preview of her philosophy on riding and gave us an idea on what to expect her to teach in her lesson. I took notes so I'm going to give you the bullet points below. There was so much information that my bullet notes can't do it justice, but it'll give you an idea of what we talked about:

Riders Natural Aides: leg, seat, hands, voice, weight

5 Levels of Pressure applied with aides:
air, hair, skin, muscle, bone

Rider Responsibilities:
1. Direction
2. How fast you want to get there
3. Balance of the horse
4. Rhythm- everything happens in a rhythm, (even a horse eating is in a rhythm)

When Jumping:
1) Assess the shape of the jump (vertical or ascending)
2) what's behind the front face of the jump (is it a hogs back?)
3) What does the jump look like? What do you need to do to keep the horse in front of your leg (I think she meant is the jump scary and going to back your horse off, is it a giant wine bottle or just a simple log?)
4)What is around the jump? (Footing, people, other jumps, basically the environment around the jump)

Horses have to understand what they're doing.

They need to understand:
1) related distances/adjustability exercises
2) Bending Lines
3)Learn how to jump on an angle. They need to be straight but the jump is at an angle
4)Be able to jump skinnies

For the Rider Riding:

Horses have to have ridability. If you can not stop your horse you should not jump

In Dressage the most important part of your position is your seat (not just your butt but your thighs all the way up to your core, it's all part of your seat, if I remembered correctly that's what she said)

In Show Jumping the most important part of your position is your lower leg

Horses have to have impulsion and engagement. Rider needs a stable lower leg so will not interfere with horses needs

Best way to secure your lower leg is to take your stirrups away

3 Positions in Show Jumping:
Half Seat (3 point), Sitting, and 2 point

Shape and Power of horse is what allows the horse to jump clear

Horse has to be submissive by yielding to pressure you apply

3 Ways to Engage your horse:
1)Downward Transitions (within the gait or changing gaits)
2)Circles (it takes engagement to do a small ring figure)
3)Lateral Movements

There are 2 Turns when jumping
1) Point of Turn (the turn before the jump)
2) Departure Turn (the turn after you jump)

If you don't land over the fence with options you don't have balance (I think she was talking about can you send your horse forward, bring them back, do whatever you need to do to get to the next jump safely. If your horse lands and takes off with you you don't have options, you just have a run away horse, so you need to have options but you get them with balance)

Show a horse what they can do, not that they can't (such a great quote from the weekend)

It's the consistency of the contact. Sometimes you'll have a lot of movement in your elbows (THIS was my theme of the weekend, I did not have soft elbows and had to work really hard on keeping them moving so I didn't piss off Joe)

Her lecture was over an hour but it was so engaging that it felt like time flew by. She kept the audience involved and didn't just sit there talking. She kept asking us questions and even opened the floor for any and all questions at the end. Some of those topics ranged from injections, soundness of horses, arena footing, appropriateness of mount for rider.
Riders, auditors, and helpers, all listening to Karen. Pic credit Shelley Contin-Hubbs

Even though I kinda knew the basic gist of everything she said in her lecture it was so helpful putting words to correct riding. It was also helpful just thinking through and understanding the whys for correct riding. I don't know if that sentence makes sense but overall I really liked that she took the time to get everyone on the same page. I learned a lot from her lecture and couldn't wait to get out and ride!!!

Tomorrow I'll talk about the actual riding part!!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Getting Ready for the Karen O'Connor Clinic

This past weekend my local Pony Club hosted a Karen O'Connor clinic and of course I had to sign up!!! I had no idea what to expect but figured it would be a good experience. And it ended up exceeding my expectations and I LOVED it. She is tough, she is direct, but if you listen she really has a lot of great things to say that will make you a better, safer, and more efficient rider. So if the only thing you read of this post is this paragraph; if she's in town go to her clinic!!!!! (Audit or ride, doesn't matter, you'll learn a lot either way)

Chimi being a pain in the ass about soaking his hoof
Leading up to the clinic I was doing my best to work on fitness. With 2Pointober in swing and great healthy eating plans in action I was going to be as ready as possible for the clinic. HAHAHA. Damn it horses. On the Sunday before the clinic I headed down to the barn to feed and notice Chimi didn't look quite right. I stuck him on the lunge line and sure enough he's lame as a ghost. My horse had a damn abscess brewing in his hoof. So back to the barn we went and I started soaking and wrapping his hoof. I quickly texted Trainer b/c we were supposed to have a lesson the next day and I had to cancel. She replied back, "If Chimi's not sound for the clinic you can borrow Joe"

How I felt when she said I could ride Joe
I might of squealed a little bit because Joe is this really cool Irish Draught that Trainer competed through Novice. He's kinda perfect and super adorable but he's been sitting in a field and goes on monthly train rides with Trainer's husband. Basically he's semi retired. I had no idea how intense the Karen O'Connor clinic would be so I was still hoping Chimi's abscess would blow out in the next day or so and be fine. But it was nice knowing that I had a backup in case Chimi didn't blow out the abscess.

Wednesday rolls around and Chimi is SOUND. He'd take a funny step every so often if he was walking across the rocky driveway but other wise he looked pretty good and I was hopeful that all would be well. Thursday morning rolls around and Chimi comes into eat his breakfast completely 3 legged lame. He wouldn't put weight on his foot and was being completely dramatic about it. A quick text to Trainer and said "Look like Joe's going to have to come out of retirement! Chimi's lame again" and she replied "I'll up Joe's grain to 1 cup today, he'll be excited to get more food!" We made plans for me to come over Friday morning to clip him and take a quick ride on him since I've never ridden him before!!!!

Yeah I have no idea. It's creepy and hysterical all at the same time!

My great plan of working on 2pointober and getting fitter was thrown out the window and I didn't even ride the week of the clinic until Friday. After giving Joe a quick Irish clip I hopped on him and found him to be surprisingly sensitive. He responded really well to any leg aide and would move in any direction I sent him in. Ok I thought I can do this. When I asked him to canter he zoomed across the field but I was able to regulate his speed and felt comfortable enough. Trainer had a jump set up and I couldn't decide if I should jump it or not. It wasn't very small but also wasn't to big (2'3/2'6"ish) but I completely chickened out and figured I'd do better tomorrow when I had no other option except to jump!!!! Plus Joe was pretty sweaty and I had to head back home to move Finn to a new barn (His leaser had a really cool opportunity to be a working student for a local dressage trainer and it helps that I'm down to 3 horses for the winter YAY.)

When I got back to the barn Trainer and I made plans on how to get Joe to the clinic and we were ready for tomorrow's 8am mandatory lecture from Karen!!!!! And whatever else Karen would throw our way!!!!!!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Chimi the Quirkster and Ribbon Hater

Show jumping at the Fork HT at TIEC

I really do love my horse. In the 4 years I've own him, he's improved sooooo much. He went from a horse that tucked his nose between his knees and wouldn't look where he was going to a horse that figures out where I'm looking and pulls me to the jumps (no joke- I've sighted onto Prelim jumps before b/c I was trying to go around them and I could feel Chimi lock on!) But my perfect pony also has a lot of quirks. He's so easy going and I feel completely safe around him but there are a few things that are No No's when it comes to Chimi. Unfortunately theses tend to show up at shows....

Who me? But I look so innocent!!!

Bit Checks- DO NOT approach my horse quickly otherwise he will give you the hairy eyeball and run backwards with his head straight up in the air. We found this out at The Fork HT when the well meaning but horse sense lacking Bit Checker tried to stick her gloved finger in Chimi's mouth. It didn't help that the wind was gusting at 20+mph and the dressage arenas were in a wind tunnel so Chimi was a bit edgy anyways. The bit checker for our ring was not a horse person and when I went to get checked I tried to say "Go slow, he's quirky" she had already apprached Chimmers from the front left and shoved her finger in his mouth, which made his head shoot up and him jump backwards. After that he said FU and wouldn't let her get anywhere near his face. I just politely said I'll come back after our test b/c it wasn't working out. I really don't think I have ever had a bit checker be so bad at an event before!

Dramatically staring off into the horizon

Ribbons- Do not attach to any part of him or to the mounted rider. Bad things will happen. I found out about this issue at the FENCE HT during the award ceremony! Up to then I had only ever won ribbons at shows where XC was held last. So there wasn't a victory gallop at those shows and Chimi mostly held himself together when I put the ribbon on his halter for a photo. So I knew going into the award ceremony that I couldn't attach the ribbon to his bridle. When they called me for 6th place I took the ribbon and put it on my breastplate right by his withers. I could feel him being a bit jumpy at first but then settle down. Then it was time for the victory gallop. As we headed out after 5th place I could feel Chimi tense up under me. When we were moving faster than a halt he wasn't so sure about the ribbon. I asked him to canter forward and the poor guy politely cantered for about 3 steps before breaking back to the trot with his head stuck up in the air and his ears flipped back listening to the flapping of the ribbon tails. Everytime I asked him to canter he politely cantered but I couldn't keep him going for more than 3 steps. I finally gave up and laughed at our victory "trot".

We almost made it all the way around the arena and was approaching the gate when all of a sudden Chimi leaped into the air and went BAM BAM BAM and started bucking like a mad man. Chimi can buck like a son of a gun and there's very little chance of me staying on when he does buck. So off I go and land on my butt in the middle of the arena! I survived the entire weekend only to fall on my ass in the Victory Gallop!!!!!!! What the Hell???? I couldn't stop laughing because seriously, WHO FALLS OFF IN THE VICTORY GALLOP????? Apparently I do....😂 Chimi was fine and when I turned around he was standing there like a gentleman and had this look on his face like "why are you down there mom??" Horses! That's all I can say :)

Finn laughs at us as Chimi freaks out over the damn ribbon!

There are plenty of other quirks with Chimi but those were two that have stories to go along with them!!! I know now that if (hopefully WHEN) we win ribbons and have a victory gallop I need to wrap the ribbon up and hold it so it won't make funny noises!!!!