May 6, 2011

May 4, 2011
This lesson was much improved from last week’s lesson! Go us! Sadly my really nice new Ariat paddock boots gave me really nice blisters last week, and I was blonde enough to wear them again this week… I think I hurt more than Nova did afterwards.

We started off on the circle again, working on just picking up contact and asking him to go forward into it. The walk was much improved over last week, and same with the trot! He only did about two pogo-trot strides before stepping forward into a much nicer forward trot. (He doesn’t often track up completely, so it’s something we push for on almost every lesson – but hey, to give the guy a break, he’s looooong.) We worked on the leg-yielding the hindquarters again, and he was more inclined to listen to me this time as well.

I was wondering how the canter would be today, and was pleasantly surprised that he was way better. Diane asked me to ask him to leg-yield and then ask him to canter immediately afterwards – this seemed to work well for us. That said, since I started asking him with my inside leg for the canter (versus the outside like Diane uses) our transitions have been better and more consistent. So our leg-yield to canter wasn’t quite like Diane is thinking. Whatever works though! I was able to ride him with contact this time without him sucking back – he wasn’t dropping down into it, but he wasn’t being a total idiot either, so we’ll take that for now.

Going to the right side (he bad side), he was super leany on my inside leg. Holy moly. Bring back to your memory, my nasty blisters… Ouch. Diane went out to truck and grabbed her spurs for me, and with those it still hurt pretty bad, but I was at least getting under Nova’s skin about moving his ribs over. I had to get a bit forceful with them at the start to get my point across, but he’s a smart cookie when he wants to be and decided that hurt and he should respect my leg. (I am going to see if I can get a chiro appointment for him, it definitely wouldn’t hurt him to get looked at again.) We worked to the right with the spurs on at both the trot and canter, and it went well. While I won’t be riding with spurs all the time (I don’t trust my legs 100%), I definitely will be purchasing a pair to use for times like this when I need that bit extra to get his respect. As we all know – he should be working harder than I am!

Oh wow, this is worse than I thought! Though, Nova didn’t get ridden much after the September MLM show as the weather started to turn (sadly towards winter). He also had from November – April off – lucky boy! In an effort to make my total lack of posting not seem so bad I will include lots of pictures!

April 23, 2011
Nova turned SIX today!! The time has sure flown! It seems like not that long ago he was the little weaner-head that I brought home, and just yesterday he was three and we were putting the first rides on. I cherish every moment I spend with him – he never, ever, ever fails to make me smile. Even when he’s been a total turd during a ride he manages to redeem himself after I get off. To celebrate his birthday this year, Nova got to go out for the first ride of the season. Lucky boy! He was fantastic for me, even after six months off. There was still snow in the arena, so we didn’t do much more than some trotting and a brief canter each way.

Happy 6th Birthday, buddy!
Keepin' it real. :)

April 27, 2011
It was our first lesson of the year, and we had some positivies, and some not so positives. Diane said that our main focus on the flat this year is dealing with Nova’s resistance to contact. It’s time for him to put his big boy undies on and deal with it. We started out at the walk with me just taking contact and being steady with it. He didn’t like that and proceeded to put his head up and jig about. I did realize that when I do this I often tighten my body up and start to resist against him a bit – so once I made a point of loosing my movement and going with him again he relaxed and started to think about walking forward with the contact.
We then moved into the trot, and as usual he did some pogo-stick trot and the head up thing, but being steady and just pushing him forward he slowly started to think about things instead of just having a hissy fit. We worked on asking him to leg yield his hindquarters off of the track going both directions. Things were going pretty well until we moved into the canter. He was a bit tired by this point, so he decided that he would prefer to go up and down instead of forward at the canter, and then resist any effort of mine to steer him. We had a discussion about that, and Diane did have to remind me not to let his hissy fits bother me – he knows how to push my buttons, which is why this is why we still have these issues now. We did canter and while we did not work on contact we worked on ‘forward’ and turning where I wanted him to go (which usually isn’t a problem for us). We ended on a positive note, as we always do, and considering it’s the second ride of the year and he got tossed into ‘bootcamp’, I can’t complain too much.

September 26, 2010
I was so thankful to wake up to find that Nova was not a complete mudball, as I arrived home late the night before and didn’t bother to go blanket him in the dark. He was very well behaved up until the point I went into the warmup ring… I don’t blame him for not liking that arena, but holy moly, he was bad. Like, I threatened to sell him for dogfood bad. The arena is an indoor, with the tent-sides, is small compared to what we are used to at home, and it was crowded. After our last lesson on Thursday, I was not surprised that he was ‘full of himself’, but I did expect that he would be at least somewhat responsive to me. I was mistaken. He was very resistant and I’m sure we looked mostly out of control. In an effort to get him to relax and progress a little, I probably spent somewhere between a half an hour and an hour in there – the majority trotting and cantering. I switched him from a his Happy Mouth mullen-mouth bit to a full-cheek French link the other day to get a bit more brakes from him… In the warm up ring, I had more than enough brakes. To the point it was stop and contemplate going up. We actually ended up putting my rope running-martingale back on him just in case. Thankfully he did calm down (but not before we were both super sweaty), and we were able to do some practice jumps before going outside to wait our turn.

This time we entered in the 2’0 and 2’3 hunter classes. As he was so forward that day I was not too worried about a repeat of the ‘OMG boxes!’ of the August show, but as the jumps were a bit higher and the first jump had a straw bale under it, I still had my fingers crossed. Any second thoughts I had were unfounded, as we went in, cantered our circle and went straight up to and over the first jump. The rest was history as he didn’t give any of them a second thought! I was so proud of him (especially considering the large number of refusals during the first round of this division). He was, as predicted, very forward. In the three classes at this level we placed third in Working Hunter and fifth in Handy Hunter, but did not place in the Working Hunter Stake class. I was surprised at our two placings, as there were about 12 people entered.

Video of 2’0:

Our second division was 2’3, which is the highest we’ve ever shown at. (We have schooled up to 2’6 or higher at home.) After doing the 2’0 class I was totally not worried about this class. The jumps were all the same, just the top bar was raised. Unfortunately we knocked one rail, and smoked another really loudly (way to be subtle Nova, way to be subtle). They were, as always, my fault – I have to keep thinking ‘forward’ and to let him flow. In the videos we never seem to be going as kami-kaze as it seems when I am riding around the course. We’ve also worked on not allowing him to rush towards the fences, so I try to hold him back slightly, which is when Diane tells me to let him go – something I will just have to practice. In this division we received a second in Working Hunter, and fifths in Handy Hunter and Working Hunter Stake. Again, there were approximately 8-9 people in this division. (It is nice to feel slightly justified in the placings – that there were definitely more people entered than ribbons.) You can tell that our last round definitely wasn’t our smoothest – I think by then he was starting to feel the effects of having being a bit dumb earlier in the day and having to work his tush off.

Video of 2’3:

For our last show of the year, I can’t complain with five ribbons out of six classes! Bring on the 2011 show season!
August 16 – 20, 2010
Day 1
After some truck trouble and rushing to get it fixed in time, we were on the road by mid-afternoon. This meant we arrived at the campground (Blue Rock) when it was almost dark, so we just got the horses settled and then got the camp set up and flaked for the night.

Day 2
We originally planned on doing two short rides today, but after we came back and had lunch… Well, we just didn’t feel like tacking up again and going out. I was very curious to see how Nova would react to the river this year (we all remember how he was like, “Thanks, but no.” last year). I was expecting a bit of the same, at least at the first crossing (it was not a shallow/calm crossing). Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised when he stopped for a drink and then walked right in and across. Good boy! He did get rather excited a few minutes down the trail and we did a whooole bunch of circles while I was waiting for him to stand still. Both Trapper and Rhythm were just waiting calmly while we did circles, then I would ask him to stop, and then we’d do another circle, rinse and repeat. After that episode though he was much better behaved. We did practice our hover-craft impression though at the big scary boulder that was lurking in the bushes. It was pretty funny, as he doesn’t come anywhere near to dumping me on my head (*knock on wood*). We rode a ways down the trail and then onto an old (but still useable) road. We were very impressed that when we turned around none of the horses got the least bit excited. Woohoo! The rest of the ride was uneventful – Nova again crossed the river wonderfully on the way back.

Day 3
The first day of riding we headed out down the trail to join up with an old road – we were just riding out and back today. All the horses were really well behaved until right before we turned around and went back a short bit before stopping for lunch. Before we turned around, Mother decided to take a ‘short cut’ trail while we stayed on the road… Unfortunately her short cut did not short cut anywhere, and when both Nova and Trapper realized that she was not right behind them… OMG! THE END OF THE WORLD! I really wish Nova didn’t care so much about where other horses are in relation to him (I’m hoping riding out alone more often will help with that). Anyway, the boys got pretty stupid, so we decided to stop for lunch and calm down before continuing. It worked, as when we started out again they were more relaxed and no one had to mutter the words “dog food” to either horse. There was one part of the trail that was totally covered by a creek (it was basically a huge pool of water), and we paused in it for some photos on our way back. Nova didn’t want to stand in it, but at least he didn’t try to drop and roll! Oh wait, he still doesn’t like water, no matter how much better he was about both water and mud. The road today had a ton of puddles on it that went all the way across the road. The bottoms on all of the puddles were fine though, so after having a ‘no, you are going through’ on the first couple, Nova went through all of them without the least bit of trouble! I was very happy – the river yesterday and the puddles today.

Day 4
Today was the big ride that we had planned on, and man, it was long. The first part of the trail is pretty interesting. After about a half an hour, you end up going really far down (switch-backs) to go across a creek, and then start heading up, and up, and up. Nova handled it all really well. I am so happy that he doesn’t get stupid on long and tough downhills – he just diligently picks his way down. And on the uphill, well, I felt sorry for the poor guy, but he just keeps on truckin’. When we got to the top, there was quite the view! We had lunch at the top and the horses got to stand and relax for awhile. The only problem with this trail is that the best part of the trail (the view) is close to the start, so even though you’ve had lunch, you still have the majority of the ride left. So, we rode, and we rode, and we rode. Down off the mountain, around and through the valley, then up onto another ridge (at which point I got off to give Nova a break, as it was another steep down). At one point we ran into some cows, which got the horses a bit excited. I actually rode Nova towards one of the calves, and when it moved off from him he sort of decided that they probably wouldn’t eat him. (Mom did the same with Rhythm last year, and you can just see the horses go, “Huh, so they move away from me?”) Not far from where we met the cows we had to go through a gate (which oh so happened to be in the middle of a huge puddle). I didn’t really attempt the gate because Nova + Puddle + Tough Gate = Christine IN Said Puddle. Anyway, we finally got the gate closed (without having to get off) and were started up yet another hill. There was a small tree that had come down in such a way that it was facing down the hill at an angle, and with the steep sides of the path worn into the hill it was not feasible to go around it easily, so I got off of Nova to push it out of the way. While I was doing that, one of the cows (that must have followed us to the gate) let out a loud bellow set Rhythm and Trapper over the edge. Rhythm ended up facing down the hill, and Trapper was almost jumping out of his skin. I hear this and whip around, prepared to dodge a Nova coming overtop of me, but to my surprise he was just standing there looking at me like nothing was wrong. I was very proud of him for that. Nova also learned this year that yes, he can indeed walk behind me without attempting to walk over top of me. Perhaps he figured that out because he was tired and walking my pace wasn’t such a bad thing, or the lightbulb finally turned on, but it was a welcome surprise.

I think it was a welcome relief when we finally made it back to camp. The ride stopped being fun a couple hours before that. Nova got a really good brushing and a big scoop of sweet feed for packing my butt around all day. It was one of those days where I truly appreciate how great my horse is. Not only is he super cute, but he’s got the heart and stamina to back it all up.

Day 5
Today the smoke rolled in. And by rolled in, I mean it was – “There was a mountain here yesterday…” The minute you stepped out of the trailer the smell hit you. (The forest fires in B.C were causing the smoke and it was blowing into Alberta.) After our killer ride yesterday we did another easier day today. The last time we were at Blue Rock (a few years ago) we heard about and found a trail that was not marked on any map. We had ridden down it a ways, but because we were hauling out that day we did not get to explore very far. We decided to take it again this year and see if we could get to the end. The trail starts off nice and wide and well used (there are well beaten paths around any large dead fall), and it is a nice easy ride. The further you go down though the more rugged it gets. We went through one part that actually had a path around it that we had missed (didn’t know to look for it) that got pretty hairy! For the hundredth time, I am so glad that Nova has a good head on his shoulders. There was one part of the trail that looked pretty bad (lots of mud and a scary home-made job to make a bridge). Mom got off and walked up the trail a short ways to see what it was going to be like, and said it seemed fine – and when she walked back to the horses, actually found a way through the mud that wouldn’t have been that bad. I felt that we were getting close to the end, and both Mom and I wanted to get there just to tell my dad about what the trail was like. But Julie didn’t want to continue (even though it seemed like Trapper was behaving just fine), and sometimes it’s best to just go with the flow. Actually, I think today was the best day for all of the horses – everyone behaved themselves. They had a lot to think about (lots of logs to step over, rocks to go over and around, really twisty trail), so didn’t get it into their heads to be goofy.

Day 6
Time to head home already. We had some big horn sheep run down the road while we were letting the horses have one last drink from the river before heading out. Nova was fairly clueless about them until the very end, while Rhythm noticed right away and was keeping a close eye on those shady characters. It was a good week, all in all. Nova was much improved over last year in pretty much every way! He just keeps getting better and better.
Oh my, I have been so absolutely remiss about posting our lessons and rides! *slaps own hand* Bad Christine! I will say that we’ve had some nice and productive rides as of late. We’ve hauled out to Ft. Assiniboine twice for day rides – he was very well behaved both times. He got a bit excited a few times, but a number of small circles later and he came to the realization that walking was the best choice. We’ve gone for a ride around here – and rode alongside the busy roads and he handled all the traffic perfectly! I think we are almost past his car phobia, which is a big relief considering where we live. My trainer has also been on him and took him over some jumps. It was nice to actually be able to watch him go instead of just being on him and holding on for dear life. He even did a couple flying lead changes for her (unasked, he was just switching back to the correct lead) – and since then he’s done a number for me as well. I am so very pleased about this, because if he can easily do auto-changes, it will be one less thing I’ll have to concentrate on. He doesn’t do them every time, but hey, he’s got a good start! Anyway, when my trainer was done with him, her first comment was “He’s so fun!” I’m so pleased, and hope that she’ll ride him some more for me – it never hurts to have the trainer get on!

July 4, 2010
Nova and I had a very nice lesson today. Diane had us warm up with two laps around the whole arena each direction, then start doing three circles along each long side of the arena (6 circles each way). I was impressed with how well Nova moved out when I asked him to trot. He’s been a lot better of late – I think the bit change has helped – about striding forward instead of up and down, but today he was even better than usual. He was moving nice and big without trying to go “Canter? Canter now? Yes, now!!” every two point five strides. Diane then had us move up into the canter and do the same exercise… Well, I can tell my horse is in at least a little shape now! I did a lot more than 12 circles to get him to finally settle down and stop trying to power around like a crazy horse. After the million circles and really working on using my outside rein to half-halt him every stride he finally came back and gave me a fairly decent, non-crazy canter. I have to make sure to sit up tall and really hold my core when he gets like that, so he can’t pull me around and do what he wants. Diane then had us work on a new exercise (for us), and have us come up the centre line and break to a trot, then pick up the canter again still on the centre line – and alternating leads. I was very happy with how well Nova did! We only blew on lead, but when I brought him back down and asked again he nicely picked up the correct one. The first couple passes I cantered him right down almost to the end, then broke to the trot and asked for the lead as we were starting to bend that direction. After that, Diane then had us break to the trot about a third of the way up, and picking up our canter by the two thirds part of the centre line. Like I said before, he listened well and I was very happy with that exercise!

We then moved onto doing some jumping. Starting with some x-rails on the diagonals, then moving up to verticals, and finishing up with some bending lines. I could explain about how it all went, but seeing as I have a video clip, I think that’s the easiest way. He is a little lazy with his back legs, because he typically doesn’t have to worry too much about them yet. I hope as we progress and go higher he’ll start picking them up. Or, I may also get some deeper cups so that when he’s lazy, it hurts a bit. And as we all know, I’m very much a work in progress – and I’m thankful every day that Nova’s such an affable guy and puts up with me.

July 6, 2010
Helga couldn’t make it down to today’s lesson, so I had a private one – it was nice! We warmed up doing basically the same exercise as we did on the 4th. He was way less rushy at the canter today, which made everything a lot smoother. When I got to the centre line canter transition portion, we again missed one lead, but managed to change it first try. I think it’s a very handy lesson for us, and I will definitely be doing it when I ride by myself.

We then moved onto the jumping, starting as always with some x-rails. Diane also set up our very first oxer for us to practice on. During our warm up Diane had us doing some tight turns, all of which we made! Well, one was pretty ugly and I think we almost ran into the fence, but that was because Diane had us doing a figure-8 pattern and I came off the jump thinking ‘right’ and she called out ‘left’. Thankfully Nova is a very forgiving pony. We then started going over the oxer, starting with it as two x-rails, then raising it up to about 2ft. I had a few really nice rides over it – especially when I remembered to hold him off of it slightly. He’s a very keen jumper! We finished the lesson off with a course that went really well. It had one tight turn that we managed, and then two lines on the diagonals (including the oxer). I think we’re going to be ready for the Killerney show in a couple weeks! Well, ready as in we probably shouldn’t completely crash and burn, haha.

July 18, 2010
Today was the Killerney Shamrock Series show. I entered in two flat classes – equitation and pleasure, and one jumping division – Beginner 2’0.

We arrived early to school over the fences before the show started – this was more for my confidence than for Nova. I will admit at this point it’s hard for me to just ride him like it’s no big deal, when showing is still a big deal to me! We did have a handful of refusals, but Diane got after me and we then schooled over all of them without any trouble. Once I knew he’d been over them all and did not care about them, I could start to not care about them.

We did our two flat classes first. I was proud of how calm and controlled Nova stayed for both classes. He trotted nicely, allowed me to do a sitting trot without trying to canter, and picked up both his leads perfectly in the Equitation class. We didn’t place, but that’s ok because he was so great! We just have to work on getting him more steady in the bridle. By that, I mean I would just like him to keep his head in a consistent spot, and preferably a little lower than where it is right now. The second class was the Pleasure class, and we placed 5th! It was a huge surprise, as he missed his right lead the first time (right at the end where I thought for sure the judges were watching) but otherwise he was as nice and steady as he was in the Equitation class. What I was most impressed with was the fact that he was in both classes with two mules and he didn’t even react! (Last year he totally eyeballed the one mule that was at the show.) Videos are up of both classes:



After a lengthy break it was time to go into my 2’0 hunter class. Nova went nicely in all three rounds, and I was very pleased with him at his first time showing at that height. In the first round he was feeling really nice and I dropped him right in front of the last line, so he took a stutter step and we lost a bit of our ‘flow’, but that was totally my fault. Mom missed videoing my second round (mixed up the on and off on the video camera), but he was even better in the second round. By the third though he was hot and a bit tired so it wasn’t quite as nice as the others (for the first time I had to push him to keep his pace up), but he was still good. The class was huge, so there was no way we were going to get a ribbon, but that doesn’t mean that he was any less good!

2’0 Hunter Division:

September 30, 2010

May 2, 2010
This wasn't one of our best lessons, but we still ended on a good note. I can't totally blame him though, as we were trying out a new saddle (which I did purchase), and the weather was windy and threatening to rain the entire time.

We started off with some canter work, because not surprisingly Nova was being a bit of a turd. He was just not feeling super cooperative, so he was going around with his head way up, trying to fall to the inside, and then trying to stall out on me. (I had considered that the saddle was causing part of the issues, but I've ridden in it since then and he's been very well behaved.) As well, I had forgotten my running martingale, and I think that between having a bad day and it not being on, he used that to his advantage. The running martingale is not set too low to force him to keep his head down, but I think it does remind him that putting his head into my lap is not so fun.

Diane then had me work on getting him to accept contact. One of my bad habits is to ride with a relatively loose rein - it's improved a lot since we first started working with her, but I still don't typically like taking a big 'feel' of him. (I think this comes from doing so much trail riding where the horses pretty much get their heads unless we need to direct them. The other part is that I don't want to be bouncing around on his mouth with my hands, as I know my hands aren't as steady as they could be.) Anyway, we worked on a small circle, first at the walk then we moved up to the trot. As he typically walks with his head nice and level on his own, he accepted the contact 'easily'. When we moved up to the trot he of course was not happy and was not consistent at all. Towards the end he did start dropping into the contact and lifting his back. As everyone knows, it's such a change when they do that!

Once we were finished that, we moved on to working through the same grid that Diane had set up before. This time though, my jumps were down so we actually had two parallel grids. While he had been a bit of a brat the last time we did this, he was much more willing to listen and go nicely for me. After walking, trotting, and cantering over the poles numerous times Diane put up one small vertical at the end of the one grid, then moved it up to two verticals. Nova did well, considering this is new to both of us! We did have one run-out, but that was my fault, and we went around and did it again and we were much improved.

I actually have video of the jumping portion of the lesson!

May 7, 2010
I had been planning to go to a hunter/jumper show on the 9th, so I asked to squeak in one more lesson before the show. (I ended up not going, as the forecast was iffy, I was exhausted and just felt that being so tired would not be fair to Nova. I have committed to the June show though - no excuses!)

Anyway, today was a great lesson! It was sunny, warmer, and NOT WINDY! Perfect weather for me! Right off the bat Nova was a lot more relaxed about things. I did have my draw reins on him, and basically just left them loose the whole time (after last lesson's head-in-the-sky attitude I thought he might like a reminder) and he went well. Since he was being so cooperative, Diane and I really worked on the trot and circles and bending. Let me just say it is really difficult to bend your horse to his stiff side, and keep him going on a decent circle without falling in. Diane kept having to remind me to keep my hands low, and to keep shortening the inside rein. To the point that the inside rein was inches shorter than the outside. It was tough, but he really started to come around (pun intended). We then did the same thing at the canter, and worked on transitions up and down from the trot and canter. Oh, as he did I think in our first lesson this year, he really started to come down and reach forward! It was so nice! This wasn't because of the draw reins, as they were still pretty loose. I could just feel him start to lift, come under himself and really start working.

We then took the draw reins off and moved on to jumping a bit of a course. While the video we took on Sunday was ok, I really wish someone had been able to video us today! He was even better! We worked on pushing him forward (I'm not afraid of speed, trust me, but because I'm green about jumping that it sometimes feels 'too fast' to be going to the jumps at that pace. Thankfully Diane is there to keep me going and assuring me that we aren't going kami-kazi down the lines!) Diane had set a line of two jumps down both long sides of the arena, and then one diagonal in the middle for me to work on. We started with the diagonal, then with two jumps on the diagonal, then working on two jumps, the diagonal, then back down the other two jumps. Again, he was very good and very honest about going over them nicely. Some felt less than fantastic, but there were a few that felt just right. Like everything clicked for those couple moments. I'm hopeful that those moments will start happening more often!

I was very pleased with how well he did. He reminded me that he can indeed be a good boy! Haha. I am also very much liking my (our) new saddle. It is a Santa Cruz Centauro, and is very comfortable!

May 9, 2010
Since I passed on the show, Mom and I decided to head down to the arena and play around a bit this afternoon. I was happy with how Nova did in the probably only 20 minutes we were there. But first - I was proud of him for another reason. We had just gotten to the arena, when Mom's cousin drove past on the road and missed seeing us, so we turned around to head home to catch her. And Nova walked calmly the whole way back home!!! After his bratty-ness the last while on the way home I was very happy.

Of course then, we rode back down, and he stood very nicely for me while I literally hung off the side of him and fiddled, banged and shook the lock and chain around the gate to get the lock to come off. About halfway through all of that, I had the thought about how good he is and how lucky I am he doesn't take offense to things like that! We then worked the trot, first to the left and then to the right where I worked again on taking the short inside rein and making him bend. He was a lot better today than even the other day. He was much easier to bring around, so I think with consistant work like that we'll get him to even out. (I will also have to remember to ask him to stretch that side from the ground.) I also asked him to canter, and he gave me the right lead both times! I'm so excited that we seem to have gotten past the real inconsistent lead departures. I mean, we sometimes get the wrong one, but they are much fewer and futher between.

After working in that end of the arena we went to the other end to watch Mom for a minute. Then Nova and I did some large circles in the inside of the arena and Mom cantered around the outside - I was pleased that he was not concerned at all when she would pass us. I then cantered some circles, then did a half-seat (2-point) and let him 'go big' around the whole arena. Now that I have an english saddle to ride in it's nice to be able to practice some of these things - it's not very easy to half-seat in a western saddle!

After Mom got bored riding around, we left and decided to go down the trail past the lake and into the new subdivision and home. I was happy with how nicely he walked the entire way! Even when it started to rain/tiny hail on us!! I think he was more pouty about that than anything ("I'm getting wet!" ) I'm just very thankful that we managed to get them back in the pasture (blanketed) before it really, really, really started to come down.

I'm glad that Nova seems to be settling down now that he's getting worked more consistently - it's a big relief! I'm looking forward to the schooling show at the end of the month.

May 15, 2010
Busy day today! I was in a first aid course all day, then raced home and literally jumped into my riding clothes and threw the saddle on Nova and off we went to the arena. (I’m always so happy that he’s pretty ‘okey dokey’ about most things, seeing as I was dashing around him like a crazy woman trying to get him all tacked up. Especially when Mom and I were both fighting with his new girth.)

It was pretty warm day today, so I was a bit surprised when he decided that he should be cantering instead of doing a nice trot. Gaaaaah. So, we cantered, and cantered, and cantered. We did a lot of circles, working yet again on making sure my outside rein is there to support him. Then after Nova did the ‘throttle back’ that lets me know that running around isn’t quite as much fun anymore, Diane had me work on some square turns. Very much like we did on our first lesson this year. He was very good with those.

After that lovely, and lengthy warm-up Diane said we were going to work on some transitions, and being off the rail. Overall, Nova and I have never had a problem working on the quarter lines - he never wants to drift back to the rail. So, we started at the walk, worked on keeping him straight, then did the trot, really working the half-halts to keep him straight, and when he wanted to get to rushy. So we did a lot of transitions back and forth that way, both directions. Then Diane had us work the canter a bit doing the same stuff, and again he was pretty good. I should say, that when we were doing our corners we made them square corners. Some were just awesome, I could really feel him rock back and bring his front end around. But overall, he’s very good at those and they make a big difference on getting him to bring himself around.

May 16, 2010
Tonight we just went for a nice relaxing (mostly) ride around the Village.

Started off well, we went through Spring Lake Ranch a bit until we turned off to walk to the edge of the lake. Nova started off well, but then he had to stop to poop and got just a bit behind, so of course he started to jig a bit. I realize that I haven’t updated about what we’re doing to correct this now. Mom is being very understanding, so every time he breaks into a jig/jog I immediately pull him into a tight circle and then we continue on. The first night we did this, I sometimes had to do basically three or more circles basically in a row to get the point across, but thankfully he seems to be a quick learner. Anyway, back to tonight – he did a couple steps of jigging, but only after he had extended his walk and was motoring along, and it really just seemed like he couldn’t help himself from breaking. Did a couple circles and by then Mom had stopped to wait for us, and we walked up to her nicely. We then found this nice little trail that follows along the lakeshore for a little ways. Nova got to practice his off-roading for a few minutes. There were quite a few little dips in the trail – you know the kind that they often like to hop over because they are small enough to do so? I was very proud of him that he stepped over, or down and then up on each of them. Yay! Mom even complimented us on how nice he looked with his head down just truckin’ down the trail – like the Nova that I’ve had the past two years and not the one that showed up this spring.

We went down the lakefront a bit, and he was fine. And he was even fine on our trip past the office and the loop home. The only problem was when there was one dog barking at us from one side of the road, and three barking from the other side of the road, he got a bit jiggy (but I let it go because we had Soka with us, and were trying to get past all of this with her not going over to investigate). He did stand, basically right in the middle of that when I had to give some people directions to the lake. And, once we were past all of that he was nice and relaxed the whole way home. I was very happy – great weather, and a great ride!

May 17, 2010
Helga wanted to go to the arena and ride, so I agreed to go with her. Unfortunately we decided to go in the early afternoon, which meant it was very hot and sunny out!

I should have known that Helga would not be on time, but I didn’t, and Nova got to practice some patience while we waited. He didn’t want to stand all that well while we were waiting, but overall was ok. I finally gave up waiting and went down to the arena myself. (Of course, Helga comes walking down not 1 minute after I got there.) I warmed Nova up doing some square turned at the walk and trot, and again, he was good. When I moved into the trot I was pleased that he was content to trot for me without trying to canter at every other opportunity. I tried working on getting him to bring his head down a bit, but he wasn’t really having any of that, so I did give up – I did get a few strides before quitting. When I say that I was trying to bring his head down, I mean I was holding firm on the reins and pushing with my legs (and seat) to encourage him to come down, of course softening when he would attempt to give me something.

After that, I started working on the canter. Something we haven’t done much of this year are simple changes across the diagonal – so I decided to work on that. Instead of doing changes at X, I ride him until we are almost at the other side, the come down to the trot and then back up on the other lead. (Thinking about it now, I might try doing some in the centre of the arena next time.) I was very happy with how well he did! He stayed straight on the lines across the arena, and he only blew his lead once. And that was because I rushed him, and after doing a small circle and coming back to the rail, he picked up the correct one. (Knock on wood, but I’m really happy to say that our lead departures are at probably 95% now! I am sooooooo happy about this, as all I’ve ever wanted was a horse that was consistent about picking up his leads. It seems that I always end up selling them or moving on to another horse when they get to this point, so I’m like I said, very happy!)

After we did the canter work, he was pretty warm and so was I, so we just walked around while Helga was still working Tika. I also found out this super cool thing! You know how it is always said that you are supposed to ride basically only from your seat and legs? Well, I will be the first to admit that I am not that great at doing that – yet. Anyway, while I was letting Nova walk around on the buckle I started to work on turning him. Holy moly! It was fantastic. All I had to do was turn my head, my hips, and add just a touch of outside leg (even just my thigh, not even my calf per se) and we were easily turning both directions, and doing everything from turning to doing full circles. All with my hand on the buckle and resting on his mane. And the best part? He did this all with his head nice and low and didn’t get the least bit upset about it at all. (I’m still used to riding my dad’s gelding, where any sort of leg means throw your head up and go faster. So this was a nice change.) I can’t tell you how excited I was about this! It’s sure a start!

After we got home I decided to hose him off as he was pretty sweaty. I expected a battle, but was pleasantly surprised when he stood completely still and let me hose him all off. He was NOT happy about it, but he apparently learned his lesson about not moving! Good boy! He got to enjoy some grass on the lawn as a reward.

May 18, 2010
Another lesson today – thank goodness it was in the morning!

Diane was a bit late arriving, so I started to warm Nova up on a nice loose rein. Something I haven’t done (or really, been able to do because of his canter, canter, canter mindset) this year yet. He felt good, and even offered to drop his head a couple of times. Once Diane arrived we did some more trotting, and I picked up the reins. Ohhh boy… He was really not feeling that today – but as usual, he did work himself out of that somewhat. I worked a lot of circles, as he has a lot harder time throwing his head way up and resisting when I do that. He is forced to bend and that automatically makes him think about lowering his head. We did a little canter work today, and Diane had me ride off the rail and work on square turns. He was very good! He had what felt like a very nice canter – so much so that Diane even said that it was a nice canter for him. She had me work the canter until he started to bring his head down a little, which he did finally.

After a quick break while Helga finished up some work on Tika, Diane set up a jump for Nova and I. It was set on the diagonal, and there were ground poles set on both sides of it one stride out. She had me work on really making him wait for it and not launch himself at the jump. I was actually proud of how hot he didn’t get over it all – he got a bit fussy with his trot a couple times, but a few circles and we worked out of that. Anyway, it was hard for me to keep in my mind to keep him trotting a decent trot (not pogo-stick), keep him straight, make him wait, and then make sure not to get in his way. I am very happy to say that we had MANY more good jumps than iffy ones! It felt great. One thing I have to remind myself is to talk to him – I found when we were doing our grid work the last time if I remembered to say ‘easy’ to him he would slow down that fraction and not be so rushy. Same thing today, when I remembered to say ‘easy’ he was more inclined to wait for me and go right to the pole before going over the jump. It was a good thing to work on, as we both need the work on being calm and steady. This is something that I will have to practice between lessons – and at least it won’t be that hard to set up!

We ended on that great note, and I was very happy with him! He really seems to like jumping, and I can’t remember how many times I’ve said this, but I’m also so happy that we have reached this point in our training! Things are starting to come together. Bring on the June Killerney show!

May 24, 2010
We hauled Nova and Rhythm over to Auntie’s today for a trail ride. A friend of my aunt’s had some company over from Germany, and they ride horses there and were looking forward to riding here in Canada. Of course, we were happy to oblige. I was very happy with how well Nova stood tied to the trailer (of course, we had them all tied up and they were all very relaxed) – but it was a good start to the day.

I honestly expected Nova to get quite excited (jiggy) when we started out – he hasn’t been ridden since Thursday, it was very ugly all weekend, and well, it was someplace exciting. Needless to say I was so pleasantly surprised when he was a superstar for the entire ride. He only got a little bit jiggy twice, and only for like 30 seconds. We led, we followed, and we got passed by cars. We also crossed over a set of train tracks, and he didn’t even blink at them. I was also so proud when a truck pulling a very loud horse trailer went past, and he only danced slightly in place but didn’t freak out. I pretty much went the whole ride thinking, “OMG! He’s being so good, but I shouldn’t think about it because I might jinx it.”
I might get some pictures from the day later on, but as of now, there aren’t any. But even without them it was such a great day!

May 25, 2010
Today I tried out a bit I was lent over the weekend, it was a Happy Mouth, mullen mouth. It was a bit too big for him, but still worked well enough for me to use it on him today. I’m not sure if he was tired from yesterday, or was just feeling mellow, or if the bit made that much of a difference, but he was soooooooo good today.
We started off walking a big circle around Diane on a loose rein while we chatted about what to expect at the show on Saturday (should it not be pouring rain as currently forecasted). After a few minutes of that and switching directions we picked up the trot. Diane then talked about when I ask him to trot how he typically likes to put his head up and do a short, choppy trot to start out with – well today I was all prepared for that, and ready to push him forward, but I didn’t need to today! He picked up the trot and didn’t even throw his head up! He wasn’t tracking up (he typically doesn’t), so we did push him up a bit and got him almost completely tracking up. And the whole time he didn’t get fussy or anything, just calmly and nicely went around the circle, even as we made it bigger and smaller. We then left the circle and went out to about half the arena (my guesstimate of how big the ring at the show will be) and picked up the canter. Oh my, it was such a nice canter! Really steady, not rushy, and very smooth. We practiced some passing, like I would do at the show, and then we started working on asking him to bring his head down a bit. He has a hard time with that, but did give me some in the end. Most importantly, he stayed nice and relaxed the entire time. We paused to talk for a minute, then went out to the right and did pretty much the same thing. Diane got me thinking too much about the canter transition, so we did blow it the first time, but I brought him back and smoothly picked up the correct lead the second time. He was more rushy this way as Diane allowed us to use the entire arena, but he also was listening to my half halts and also started to bring his head down. He was so good that we called it a day after that. Diane said that we could harp on working on his head a bit more, but what’s the point? He was so good that if he’s anywhere near that good on Saturday I will be beyond happy. Anyway, he was so good today with the mullen mouth bit, I'm looking to buy a smaller one in the next day or so. I'd like to try it at the show (will take his 'usual' bit as well, just in case).

I have a picture from today – not a riding one, but an interesting one nonetheless. I had him on the lawn grazing because he was such a good boy, and he was doing a great job trimming around the garden. As he got closer to the flag I thought for sure he’d move around it or suddenly notice it and spook a bit. Nope. I guess the grass was too darn good, and the flag not nearly as scary as I thought. (Now, any bets on whether or not it would be scary if I rode up to it?)

May 29, 2010
Show day!! Dawned nice and… cloudy. And it started to rain a tiny bit before we left… Not a good omen.

Nova loaded well, and hauled well, got along well with my friend’s gelding Apollo when he loaded in beside him, and was pretty relaxed when we unloaded at the show. Of course he was a bit looky, but he didn’t look much further than his haybag once I attached it to the trailer. Since I wasn’t showing in halter or showmanship I took my time getting him ready, and actually saddled him up after a few of our ‘group’ left to go to the ring for their classes. As I was hoping, as long as he can see/knows other horses are there he is quite relaxed. The wind came up and wasn’t very nice just after I got on as I was trying to warm up in the field where we parked the trailers. (Being hilly and with lots of rocks didn’t help much either.) Riley, who I warmed up with suggested we head over to the outdoor ring (halter/showmanship classes were being held inside) and warm up there – I’m very glad we did, as he was much better to warm up in there. Well… Once we got past the BIG SCARY ROCKS that were outside the arena. He walked past the plastic pink tape that they had used to fence off part off the arena that was wet – and this tape was definitely moving in the wind (I considered it potentially scary). He walked past it, then stopped dead and backed up about ten steps with his eyes bugging out of his head, and I had to look to see what he was spooking at. Of course it was a large rock located on the outside of the arena… I think a bit of Rhythm is rubbing off on him! So of course we went up to the fence to look over it to see that the rock won’t actually kill us… and he noticed the second big rock. Oh deary. We went to go see that one, and after that he did scoot past them the next couple times past, but then settled down and ignored them. They had worked the footing a bit, but it was still pretty hard and since he just had his feet trimmed yesterday he was just a smidge ouchy on them. We walked, trotted, and cantered both ways and he was good. Got all of our leads!

Riley and I decided to head back to the trailer to hang out for a bit, and by the time we got there (after a quick visit with some friends) it had started to rain. Not just a sprinkle, it was a full out rain. I threw a cooler over my saddle on Nova to keep him a little warm. We actually loaded Apollo and Nova back into the trailer and hung out in there with them so we all stayed a bit drier and stayed out of the wind. Pam wanted to at least do one under saddle class, so she tacked up Apollo in the rain and we headed over to the indoor arena. I was a bit unsure of how Nova would react to being in the arena, as he’s only ever been in one other indoor in his life (ok, two, but the first was when he was a yearling). He was very relaxed in there (probably just happy to be out of the rain!), and so I pulled his sheet off and got on to warm up. There was a short break for people to tack up their horses for the under-saddle classes. Right from the first lap around he was very relaxed. He actually only eyeballed the muck bucket on the side of the ring. For a very small and crowded ring he listened well and we did a nice walk and slow trot around a few times. Finally I felt him getting just a smidge worked up (going one way at the walk he wanted to get jiggy), so after a few laps working on that I pulled him off to the one end to hang out. In typical Nova fashion he quite nicely just hung out while we waited for our class.

The class we did end up doing was Walk/Trot 18 and Over. I was feeling pretty confident going in that he would be fine, I just wasn’t sure if we’d end up with a ribbon. We first lined up along one side of the arena to wait for the previous class to have their ribbons handed out, and Nova was very chill. We walked about a lap around, and he did get a tiny bit jiggy going down that one long side, but I managed it well using my outside rein to ask him to keep walking, and he probably only got a couple of steps in. We then trotted and he picked it up easily and went around very smoothly. I had to weave and dodge a few people, of course, but he stayed nice and relaxed for me and listened well. Broke back to the walk when asked very nicely and we reversed and went the other way. He did the exact same to the right, and luckily I don’t think the judge noticed when the horse in front of us decided to go straight sideways towards the inside of the arena. He broke, which I don’t blame him for, but readily picked it back up when I asked again (and did so like nothing happened). They then had us walk and go into the lineup. He stood well while we waited when they handed out the ‘luck of the draw’ prizes (my friend won a bag of cubes that she donated to us since she won’t need them as she boards). They weren’t doing 1st – 6th ribbons, they were just doing the ‘top six’… Well, Nova and I won a ribbon!! I was so excited!! (And just for the record, there were definitely more than six of us in the class!) I had entered into the walk/trot/canter class as well, but decided to end on that great note and leave it alone. He was a tiny bit ouchy again in the hard packed arena, and I figured between that, a ton of horses in that class, and such a small arena it might be asking quite a bit of him. I just didn’t see the point of potentially getting him all hot and worked up and maybe having a less than great experience, when he went above and beyond what I hoped for today.

I am so proud of him. He was just a great horse all day, didn’t get upset about much of anything. (In fact, I was so pleasantly surprised when he only called out twice the whole day, considering it seems like there is non-stop calling by a ton of horses.) Also, I purchased a mullen-mouth for him on Thursday, and didn’t get to try it on him before the show, but he went really well in it. I think he’ll be staying in this bit for awhile! He was just awesome, and I couldn’t have asked for a better horse today. Like I said above , he went above and beyond today, especially considering the very crappy weather. I love my pony.
April 16, 2010
After a rather dismal, and frustrating, ride last night I was really hoping Nova would behave himself today. And in the end, he more than redeemed himself for his unacceptable behaviour last night.

I arrived at the arena before Diane, so I started to warm up. As per Nova's now normal fashion, we spent half the time trotting and half the time trying to canter. At the time I was thinking that it might be a very 'fun' lesson.

When we started the lesson, he was doing the same thing (along with his pogo-stick trot), so Diane said the next time he broke into his left lead, to just let him canter. So that's what I did, and we ended up cantering for... Oh jeez, I don't even know - a long while. Basically we decided to canter until he didn't think it was such a fun idea anymore. Diane really got after me about using my right rein to keep his shoulders straight. HOLY COW! That made a HUGE difference!! He felt a lot more 'under' me, and I could feel him rocking back a bit on our smaller circles. Diane then had us do 'Stop signs' - as in cantering a couple strides, then angling, cantering a couple more strides, etc. (I think my 'stop signs' had 8 sides, but that's beside the point.) It was such a great feeling to feel him make the slight turn each time I asked.

After we walked for a minute and changed directions Diane had me pick up the trot and really take a feel of his right side (as he doesn't bend well this direction) and lowering my hands to the front of the saddle. Holy man my legs got a workout trying to keep him out on a decent circle. But after a few minutes he did seem to get the idea and it was easier to push him out. We then cantered with the same idea - keeping my hands low and the right one shorter to make him keep the bend. He actually didn't fuss as much about it as I thought he would. After a few minutes Diane let me bring my hands forward and we went around the entire arena doing circles on each end and one in the middle. Again, he was turning really nicely - on such small circles that I didn't think he could actually do them so nicely. We also did the 'stop sign' exercise again this way, and again, he was very nice about it.

When Diane asked me to trot, she wanted to keep a working pace and keep my hands low and even. Oh man! Again, probably the nicest trot I've ever gotten out of him. He went along with his head nice and level, not fussing and striding out nicely. As Diane said, he was learning to carry himself - which is fantastic! And I could really feel the difference in him.

We finished up with a couple changes across the diagonal, and he was very nice about them.

So short story - he was awesome!! I think for the first lesson of the year it was beyond amazing, and I'm very hopeful for our riding season this year. Hopefully I will get a call back from the saddle-fitter soon so we can get starting on finding us a saddle!

April 18, 2010
I got sprung from work early today (hurrah), so I immediately came home and tacked Nova up for a ride in the arena. I was very excited to get out and spend some time in the gorgeous weather.

I kept Diane's instructions from Friday in the back of my mind, and I think we did well. I asked him to warm up at the trot, and was expecting him to get all fussy and want to canter - but perhaps he remembered what happened on Friday, and he was content to trot. His head was up and he was a bit short strided, but that's very typical of him at the start. I did work him a bit and he was starting to come down a bit more and stretch. Nothing fantastic, but there was a bit of a difference.

As we were going along I asked him for the canter, and we moved nicely into it. I started off doing some larger circles before moving into the smaller ones, and eventually doing the stop sign exercise again. After I figured we'd cantered enough one way I asked him to come down to the trot to try and work on that again, but he was apparently just getting warmed up and while he wasn't really breaking at every chance he was fighting be more than working with me, so off we went cantering the other direction.

I actually spent a lot more time cantering than I thought I would, but he just wouldn't settle down and give me a nice trot afterwards, so we just kept cantering. And then there was a point when he got very rushy at the canter. So, true to what we just worked on, every time he'd speed up I'd just do a small circle. Smaller than I was doing in the lesson! And he still felt pretty balanced and kept a nice true canter throughout. I'm still impressed that my looooong pony can do these things!

So after cantering quite a few small circles, he finally gave me a decently nice trot, so I called it a day. Oh man, Nova was one sweaty pony! He still has some of his winter coat, and it was 24 degrees out. I figured for sure he would have played out a lot sooner than he did, but he was quite a bit of stamina. I'm in so much trouble when he gets fit!

Afterwards Mom wanted to work with Soka and a distraction - Nova and I playing the part of the distraction. Soka did well! And Nova was pretty good about walking, trotting, and then doing a minute of canter work around them while she was working Soka. I figure it was good for both of them. Once we were done I got off and decided to lead Nova home and let him cool off - thankfully there was a breeze, so he dried off (and thus, I would guess cooled off) relatively quickly.

April 27, 2010
Lesson day! It was super windy today, which made trying to hear Diane a bit of a hassle, but I think I managed to get most of it.

Diane brought her saddle for me to use today, which was very nice. It felt good to be back in an english saddle! I could tell I wasn't totally steady (almost lost my stirrups a couple times), but I wasn't too terrible either.

He started off more relaxed than our previous lesson - when we started to warm up at the trot he was less insistent about attempting to canter. He did try to break a couple times, and then the third time I just let him canter on and we did a few circles and I brought him back down and he settled down nicely. We went both ways and really worked on my right rein - using it to keep his shoulders straight when going to the left, and using to to keep an inside bend when going to the right. He felt good, and definitely felt good when I actually remembered to use my rein! Old habits are hard to break.

After we warmed up Diane had me do some half seat/two-point work. OMG. I really hope I get a saddle soon so I can practice, because that needs some serious work. After only a couple of minutes my legs start to scream at me, and I don't like not being so steady up there. So I will definitely be practicing.

She then had us do some grid work. About 5 poles placed about one canter stride apart. We started by trotting through it, and well... That wasn't so pretty. Since there is nothing visual to keep him straight and honest it is a lot of work for me to keep him there. I failed the first couple of times, but did get better as I made a point of keeping him where I wanted him. (Sometimes I kind of forget, or I suppose just wish he was point and shoot, but we're not there yet. Sometimes he's great, and other times he's the wiggly baby that he actually is - which is fine. I just can't stop 'riding' sometimes!) After a few times through we cantered through it both ways. I was impressed! At the Mane Event on the weekend I caught two of the jumping clinics and saw a similar grid set up (it had more poles though), and how some of the more experienced horses flailed through it (would try to jump the first pole, then do a half jumpy-trot-canter thing through the rest of it). Whereas Nova seemed to go very smoothly through it for me. Of course, we started on the centre and ended up off one of the ends of the poles - so we're a work in progress. I am hoping to get my standards down at the arena before our next lesson, as I think the visual of them being there will help both of us.

After going both ways through it at the canter, Diane decided to put the barrels down and make half of an x-rail at the end. I did have to do some canter work with Nova on a circle to get him forward as when we came off the rail to go down the line he would literally stall out at the canter and go pogo-stick on me. And to push him forward would make him pogo-stick more - so we did a lot of circles really pushing him over with my right rein and leg and getting a big forward canter. Because of this, and me basically just thinking, "go straight, go straight" as we went down the line we basically flew down it pretty quickly. He still did the strides very smoothly, and definitely overjumped the x-rail at the end. (I do know it's supposed to be 'go over the pole/jump, sit up, half halt to set them up and then let them go again' - I was just working on keeping him straight this time, but next time I will definitely spend time working on settling him down.)

Diane then put the jump up to a vertical (she says 2ft) and had me do it twice more. Again, I had to work on going forward, then we went down the line, again very quickly and did a HUGE jump over the vertical! Huge. We did it once more, and I think he jumped even bigger. (I was and wasn't prepared for that - I knew he was going to jump big with the speed we had going into it, so I knew it was coming, but I have never ridden such huge jumps, so I did my best to stay off his back and off his face, and I don't think I caught him. But I am sure it was not very pretty looking.)

Diane was very excited about how round he was and how he tucked his feet up all nice - said he will probably end up being a jumper, and that this year while we'll stick with hunters we will have to challenge him a bit. She was also happy that he really didn't want to touch the jump, because last year he was content to smack them and then trip, haha. (I do have jumper boots for him now, but didn't put them on as I didn't think we'd be doing any jumping today. I think those will also help because those poles will hurt a bit more than they do with the Pro Choice boots.)

Obviously we won't be letting him have a 'free for all' like we did today once I get my jumps down there, but it was kind of fun. He really perks up and I do think he enjoys doing something different. I just really want to get a handle on his pogo-stick-ing, as he was doing today what he does on the trail - so I'm crossing my fingers that working on it in the arena will help him learn that he doesn't need to do that.

I'm nervous and very excited to be at this point with him - it seems that with all my other horses that I get them to this point and then end up having to sell them for one reason or another. So while I've wanted to jump for years, I haven't had much opportunity. I think this year will be a big learning curve for the two of us. And hopefully full of lots of excitement and great rides!
March 17, 2010
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Since today was supposed to be the last nice day for a little while I decided to take advantage of it (thankfully the clouds cleared, too bad the wind hung around). So I saddled up the brat and we headed down to the arena for a bit of work and to check out the snow situation there. (Results: Very wet and still a lot of snow - not great for any serious work.)

Funny story though, before I get talking about the ride. As I was putting on Nova's back boots (he was munching on cubes to keep him amused), Soka decided to trot right underneath him to see what I was doing, and he didn't even flinch. Just made me thankful that he's pretty bombproof to stuff like that, because it would have been me to get it if he'd decided to take offense. He's so good, and that just proved it.

As per usual, Nova walked down there like a dream, pretty much on a loose rein except for when I had to steer him out of the snow in the ditch and back onto the road. I was very happy with him when I managed on the second pass to stop him right by the lock for the gate and then lean over, put the key in, and open it while he stood completely still. And he didn't even try to take my knees off on the gate posts when we went in, even though there was a puddle right at the entrance. Pretty good start!

We walked, then trotted (or rather, splooshed around) while we waited for Mom to come down with the camera. He was pretty forward, and wasn't as consistent in his gait - which is very understandable given the wet footing. We cantered both ways, twice, and he was very good about his leads. We cantered right first, then I cut across the arena and he picked up his left perfectly - good boy! He did give me the usual hassle with his right leads, but I made a point of picking up my inside rein and shoving his butt over with my inside leg, then asking - worked like a charm. Perhaps that's my new move for him, and if it works, I'm totally all for it. (I do know that I should be doing that already, but I just never made a point of doing it consistently.)

All in all, I was pretty happy with him, and can't wait to ride him in an arena with good footing! I found it kind of funny that last time I talked to my trainer she made the comment that we'd probably be cantering "within a week" (if I boarded him out), well... I'd say we're ready to canter now! Nova's such a good boy that her typical reservations don't really apply.

On the way home he was okay. Was excited and jiggy, so I was working on getting him to walk. Then one of our neighbours was coming home pulling his work trailer, so I decided that given Nova's current mood to bail off and hold him (to save myself the spook into the bushes most likely). Of course, now that I wasn't on him, he stood and watched the trailer like, "Ohhhh, it's a trailer...." Gah, silly horse. I then lead him to our neighbour's driveway before I mounted again, and he walked nicely down the hill to our driveway on a loose rein, only to get hyped up when we got into our driveway. (Let the crazy horse canter up it once, and he never forgets apparently!) He did well though even when Soka ran up and around him just as we got to the top of the driveway.

For only our third ride of the year, he was pretty good! (I seemed to have forgotten to write about our solo trail-ride a couple weeks ago. Shoot.)

March 27, 2010
The weather was just so nice today that we didn't have any choice but to go for a ride! I also thought my friend was going to come riding with us on Sunday, so I wanted to make sure Nova had been out and about and perhaps just a wee bit tired for that. As it turns out, she's sick and had to postpone.

We decided to head over and ride through Spring Hills. Nova was good and bad throughout the ride. He got himself worked right up when we started off - pretty much when we turned towards the arena (even though we weren't going there) - I swear, he really wants to be an arena pony! He also got a bit excited for various times during the ride, but just as fast as he went 'mental' he'd calm down again and plug along like nothing happened. For example, his jump/buck/kick move that he did for no apparent reason - poor Rhythm who was right beside us when he did that. Of course, we did have a discussion about that! Moves like that are not good for Christine's heart! Crazy beast.

The funniest part of the ride was when the two mini's that reside over in Spring Hills came running up to the fence to say 'hi'! Oh dear... Rhythm is at least half petrified of these two guys, and so she immediately went into arab-mode with her tail flagged and let out a loud snort. So, guess what Nova did? Totally copied her! It was pretty funny - and I totally had a big ol' snorty saddlebred underneath me! (Stereotyping, I know.) He wanted to go up and meet them though, so I let him walk over and greet them. I wish we'd had a camera, because I'm pretty sure Nova's neck has never been as arched as it was then. It amuses me how every time we go past there and the mini's come visiting the horses are just beside themselves.

I was also very proud of how well he handled all of the cars! He's been very brutal the last however many times he's been out about freaking when they go past. So Mom was super nice and cooperative and stopped with us so he could watch all the cars go past. When we came out of Spring Hills I decided to hop off of him and walk him down the ditch back to our entrance instead of riding. I think it was a good decision because a handful of vehicles went past (including two motorbikes) and all he did was stop and watch them. Then I mounted again and we stood and watched a few more before crossing the road and heading home.

He also got to say 'hi' to a great dane on our way home. The one house we pass has three of them, plus a rotti and two small foo-foo dogs. The horses aren't sure what to make of these pony-sized dogs. The people are very nice and the one lady came out right away to tell the dogs to be quiet, and we started chatting a bit. So Nova took it upon himself to go say meet these dogs. Walked right down the ditch and right up to the fence - two of the dogs did NOT like that and started barking again, but the one was calm and sniffed his nose - and I think gave him a little kiss. My horse is such an attention-hog, methinks.

Overall I was happy with how he went - I only muttered "dogfood" a couple of times. And I can't blame him, he's been cooped up in the pasture since September, so everything is fresh and exciting and he just wants to GO! Once I can start lessons (soon!) I think he'll chill out a bit more and he that good boy I know he is.

March 28, 2010
Two days in a row! No way!

Today was a big day - not only was a different friend coming to ride with us (she was going to help out for when my other friend was bringing her gelding over, but since that was cancelled she still decided to come ride), but my father decided to come too! (No joke, this might be the only time he gets on his horse this year.)

I figured this is a good experience for Nova to go out with more than just Rhythm, but he would either be totally cool about it, or be an excited jerk about it. He was both, haha.

Started off calm and leading nicely down the road, but once we got onto the lakefront and we started spreading out and (how dare they) passing him, he got himself worked right up. He did attempt his 'mini rearing' thing a few times, and that just got him in trouble. When we turned to ride back he was still so agitated that I put him right behind Mom on Kaila. Kaila is old and walks slow, so he had no choice but to calm down a bit - Kaila was also giving him a lot of dirty looks because he was being stupid. That seemed to work because after a few minutes he settled down and I allowed him to remove his nose from Kaila's butt and pass her. He stayed very calm for the rest of the ride! I was verrrrrry relieved!

We went from the lakefront onto the path that comes out into Spring Lake Ranch, then down that road onto the next range road, then through a subdivision over there, then back across the range road into Willow Peak and home. Again, he was very well behaved with the cars. As we were crossing the range road I heard some motorcycles coming (loud ones), so we moved through the ditch and up onto a rise and I bailed off to hold him. I'm glad I did, because they were pretty loud and there was about five of them, and he did jump a bit when they went past - I think if I'd been on him he would have been a lot more nervous. (Instead, I just gave him a treat as they went past, so they can't be *that* bad.) After they were gone I mounted back up and away we went.

The rest of the ride was very uneventful, which is exactly how I like them! He went on the buckle and motored along like a champ.

He's getting his teeth floated on Wednesday, and I'm very excited about that.
February 21, 2010
Spring is going to be upon us soon, and I can't wait!! In fact, the weather was so nice today I decided to get a head start on some riding. I decided to take Nova down to the arena for a romp and hopefully some riding.

He walked down nice and calm (as in, he wasn't trying to outwalk me), which was a hopeful sign. I turned him loose once we were there and when I 'shoo'd him away he trotted ten steps, then dropped and had a nice roll, got up and walked back to me. Well, so much for running and bucking. I bridled him, lined him up with the fence, and hopped on. The snow is still pretty deep, so I found a spot in the middle and started on a circle. He was listening pretty well, though I think he found plowing through the snow on a circle kind of boring. After going both directions at the walk, I asked him to pick up a trot - it went okay. Kinda bouncy because he wanted to go fast, and had to pick his feet up, but he listened relatively well and we went both ways. So, feeling brave and figuring that landing in the snow wouldn't hurt much if something happened, I decided to canter. We went to the left first, and he was very good! That's his good lead, so he picked it up very nicely and we went around the circle a couple times. Again, not the easiest canter because of the snow (even though we did have the circle beat in pretty well), but he listened well and I didn't fall off!! He got lots of pets and a cookie for being so good. Then, pushing my luck, I decided to try and go right. It took probably almost a handful of tries (where I'd get myself organized and ask, and he'd pick up the left for about a stride, then drop back down on his own - like he knew it was wrong) - but in the end he did give me my right lead, and we did a couple circles!! I was sooooooo happy!! Not too shabby for having not been ridden since November!

Of course though, I had to push my luck and ride him home. He was so calm and great in the arena I didn't think there'd be much of a problem. Boy... I was wrong. Once I got back on from locking the arena gate, he seemed to loose his ever-lovin' mind. Tried to take off a bit through the snow back to the road, got to the road and he got himself into such a tizzy. He was wanting to jig instead of walk, and while I was calm and trying to nicely ask him to come down to a walk he got himself worked up enough to the point where he's jigging in one place, throwing his head up and trying to do a mini rear (I did not have contact on the reins at all through this). If I'd had a saddle it wouldn't have been an issue, but being bareback and having some self-preservation, I got him to stand and bailed off. Walked his excited butt home, tied him up, went to clean the snot off my glasses, then came back out and after a few moments decided to saddle him up and go back to the arena and ride home again.

My mom and our friend returned home from tobogganing and said they wanted to go for a bareback ride just as I finished tacking up. I decided to head back to the arena and would meet them on my way back. Nova walked nicely (albeit slowly) down to the arena, just like a good pony. We paused by the arena fence, then turned back and headed home. He wasn't quite as good as I was hoping, but he wasn't as bad as before - and with the saddle I knew I could deal with his antics.

We made it home just in time to meet Mom and Julie coming down the driveway. We decided to head out down the escape road, through the subdivision, down the range road and back through the new road that comes out at what used to be the dead end by our house (basically a loop). When we all started off again he lost his mind and we did some very tight circles with some thumping to get the point across that even thinking about rearing is a BIG NO! Once we got onto the escape road I let him trot ahead a bit to settle him down, and that seemed to do the trick as he seemed to calm down. Even when Mom and Julie caught up with us and would even pass, he was much better behaved. In fact, I was happy with how he was for the rest of the ride, as even when Julie on Skye got ahead of us by a ways he stayed relaxed and calm (which is good, because he doesn't go out for rides with Skye regularly). We ended the ride on a good note, and I was back to loving him again and not threatening to sell him for dogfood.

All in all, I can't completely blame the young horse who hadn't been ridden in almost four months for his behaviour. But I've already warned him that his year is bootcamp year for us - no more getting to use the 'he's a baby' excuse for things. (Example, we're going to deal with his fear of cars once the snow is gone, he won't be able to get away with having a hissy fit because he's second or last horse in line, nor can he get so upset when someone walks too far ahead out of his bubble, and probably a few other things that will come up.)

I am looking forward to starting lessons again and getting him going, as this should be a big year for us! Now, just to get an english saddle that fits him... Gotta find someone to buy the one I have.
October 25, 2009
Now, while this wasn't a lesson, I'm PRETTY DARN PROUD of my baby! I have barely seen him, let alone ride him since our lesson last month, so he's been having a good vacation.

I wanted to take him and Rhythm down to the arena for a romp and then hop on him bareback for a bit. So that's exactly what I did. The two of them had some fun running around the arena, and I've just decided my horse runs funny because I get more goofy/ugly pictures of him running than I do good ones. But that's okay, he's still cute.

So after we got them all riled up, and then probably a bit tired out, I caught him and bridled him (he was great!). Mom boosted me up and like usual, he was totally cool with that. And we walked around a bit to get the feel of each other again - and you know, reinforce that I can be bareback and he still has to go where I tell him. Of course, he was really chill about that.

So, I decided to try trotting on him for the first time bareback. It wasn't so much him that I was worried about - it was more I was afraid I would go 'sit, sit, bounce, BOUNCE, splat'. But, oh my goodness my horse is so smooth!! I knew he was smooth, but man, he's really smooth. My butt hardly moved at all at the trot. Thankfully though, he was going pretty slow and didn't seem to want to go too fast (even though my boney butt was digging into his boney back).

We trotted one way, then stopped and trotted the other way a couple of times. Each time he got quicker on the transition as we both got more comfortable with it. So, after a break for cuteness (him, not me)...

I decided, what the heck, I'll canter! This is where I wasn't sure what he might do - if he got fast and I 'clamped' my legs on him to stay on, we could have some fun. Though I didn't expect him to do anything bad, other than possibly kicking his butt up a bit on the depart. Anyway, it went quite nicely - he broke smoothly and kept a nice slow canter for me - and well, you guessed it, he's got a smooth canter too!

I stopped, praised liberally, cheered that I didn't fall off, and then tried it the other way. Of course, this was his bad lead, and in the end I never got a right lead out of him even with multiple attempts. So, here's us going on the wrong lead.

But, I didn't want to get too insistent, because I definitely could come off if he got bratty about it, so I just decided to let it go this once, and go back to the left one last time. Holy moly, the last transition was PERFECT! We had a nice jog going, I asked, and he slid right into the canter. I was like, "OMG, I love you!", haha.

So, I love my horse. He's super, super awesome. I jokingly asked my Mom if I could keep him, because man, he's a keeper for sure! He's definitely the horse I've been waiting for.

But before that, I'll post some pictures over the last few months. I haven't been out on him since November (which was just a quick ride), so he's been having quite the winter vacation - it's over soon though as long as the weather cooperates!

First, a couple pictures of Nova's dam, Savannah (was called Pavane). I was very happy to meet her in person, and she's just gorgeous! Maybe one day we can get the two of them together for some pictures, I think it would be pretty neat.