September 30, 2010

July 3, 2009
Soooo... Nova's had a whole week off from work... Though I'm sure he doesn't mind that! But it was back into the thick of it with a lesson today.

As before, I led him down so I can use Diane's saddle. I'd love to ride him down but between trying to pony Rhythm while bareback and then having a very dirty tush after, I just walk down.

Diane was a bit late arriving, and Helga had to leave early for a hair appointment, so I got to warm up pretty much on my own while Diane focused on Helga. It was nice - I felt all professional, haha. He was going really nicely for me. It was a nice trot steady trot - and he only felt like he wanted to break into a canter a couple times. Yay! I worked on doing circles on each end, then going across the diagonal, and even attempted some leg yielding (on my own because he was feeling that good). I think he was doing pretty good at it, considering I think we've only ever asked him to do it once before. After taking a break while Diane finished up with Helga, we went out again and did some more of what I had done. He was definitely warmed up! This second time I was asking him to work on dropping his head, and he was doing so nicely. I think in general his head is coming down a lot without asking at the trot, so I was just encouraging him to go a bit further.

After a change across the diagonal Diane asked me to pick up the canter in the corner, and bam! Got it! It was a much, much faster transition than the previous lesson - so he must be getting used to the feel of the english saddle. If was to the left, so of course he got the right lead. And wow, it was an amazing canter. He felt slow and relaxed! The thought that ran through my head was, "Holy moly, this is the kind of canter that show horses do!" I was so proud of him. He did break once, but I think it was hard for him to keep a the slow canter going. I asked him to pick it up again and he did so nicely, and we went across the diagonal. He was pretty straight going across. Just before we reached the rail, I asked him to come down, set him up, and he picked up the right lead!! First try! He wasn't as slow and relaxed going this way, but he was still doing quite well. We did some circles and went along the rail. We then got another break while Diane worked with Rhythm.

Helga left then, and the fun began! Diane has been talking about trying Nova over some trot poles and stuff, and today was the day. We only have one long plastic pole in the arena, so we had to do some figuring to make it work. we do have a lot of smaller ones, so we put those together to make trot poles. And tipped the barrels over to use as standards. Oh man, we really need some real stuff! Anyway, Nova was a bit lazy with his feet at first. Clipped the poles the first time or two across. (I was doing a figure-8 type pattern over the poles.) But after that I could feel him pick his feet up. So then Diane put one end of the pole up on the barrel and we went over it again. Yeah... He could have cared less and it showed. So we had a couple of car tires (yeah, I don't know why either), so she ended up stacking them up on the other side to make it look a bit more like a jump. (Diane said it was probably about 18 inches at the end.) Diane then suggested that I pick up the left lead canter and go over it. So I set him up and asked him at the far end, then turned and headed towards it. The first time I could feel him kind of going, "Uhm!!" but he went over it willingly anyway. He did smack it though. The second time he picked up his front feet, but I think touched it with his hind feet. After that, wow, we got it together. I have no idea how we look (I'm guessing a whole lot less than perfect), but I could feel him really wanting to go towards and over the jump. He was easy to keep settled though. It felt great!! We are going to work on getting him to go on the right lead next time - we just went left today because that's where he's most comfortable. I was pretty much expecting him to be completely klutzy, so this was a nice surprise. We're not going to push him, but I think we'll be working a bit at this often over the rest of the summer.

After we were done, Diane was so nice and did Nova's mane for me today! She has a comb-scissor thingy that gives the pulled look without actually having to pull. I think Nova looks fantastic!! I've been waiting for so long to do it. In fact, I took a couple pictures when we got home.

July 20, 2009
I've been terrible lately - I have not written about one trail ride and two lessons!! To all Nova's adoring fans, I apologize. To make it up, I will discuss today's lesson, and provide some pictures!

The lesson started off just fantastic. During our warm up Nova was perfect. We did what seems to be our usual warm up nowadays - two laps around the whole arena, cross the diagonal, two more laps, then doing three large circles as we work our way down the long side, then three back up the other side, cross the diagonal and repeat. As we were going around it felt amazing because I was doing all these circles and going across the diagonal, all by not even having to move my hands hardly (as in I wasn't having to really work to keep him on track). It felt like we were in tune with each other and he was doing exactly what I wanted, and at a very steady pace. I know his head wasn't down, but I wasn't asking him to put it anywhere, and I think overall he's keeping it a lot lower in general these days.

We then went to work on the canter, and we did a lot of canter today! He had to rush into the left lead the first time, but after that he was much better. When we went to the right Diane had us working on a circle and trying to canter half, trot half. Well, Nova did okay the first couple times but then he got a bit too excited and started throwing the wrong lead at me and just getting upset. We have found that if he gets confused he tries really hard and just starts to do things to try and figure it out. So Diane had us go to the left again and I worked that way. Of course though, he was still upset, so I just trotted him around a few laps making sure he was straight and listening, and when I did finally ask him again, his response was instant and correct. I do have to say that I was getting frustrated with him, because I felt that it was something that he could have easily done, but I realize that obviously that's not true. So if I have time to work with him this week before our next lesson, I will practice that.

We then moved on and worked on something we started yesterday at our lesson. He was much better at it yesterday, but again, I think today he was just a bit hyped up by that point. Anyway, it is where we come up the quarter line, then leg yield them towards the rail, turn their shoulders to the outside, and ask for the canter. I'm not sure Diane realizes that we haven't really ever worked the leg yield with Nova, so he's a bit confused about that - but we're still doing a pretty decent job anyway. I will also try to work with him on this as well. Today though he kept giving me the wrong lead, but that's okay as we just came back, I set him up again and asked and then he'd give it to me.

After that, we got to do the fun part. We got to do some jumping again! It's been a week and a half or so since the last time, and he was just as good if not better than last time. We trotted up and over it a few times, to which he's not all that enthusiastic about putting effort into it. But when we started to canter it, he was really trying. We also only worked with the right lead because of where Helga was working on some stuff made it difficult to go to the left. I will say that the couple times I had to ask him for the lead as he lost it cantering up the side, he was not pleased but he did give it to me correctly the first try. So that sort of made up for all the fuss we had earlier on in the lesson.

Now, I'm going to put up some pictures, but you have to just look at Nova and not at me. I know I don't look all that great, and I'm sure Diane will be all over me shortly about that! You will also have to pardon some of the pictures as Dad didn't use the 'continuous shoot' feature. Oops.

So, he was excellent, he was bad, but overall he was still pretty good. I think when I work with him next, or at our next lesson I will suggest to Diane that we work the canter one way, then go and work the trot doing something else then canter the other way in an effort to stop him from getting worked up. I know there will be a time when we will just have to push through and he'll have to deal with cantering not being a big deal, but that can happen later.

July 22, 2009
Tonight was a gorgeous night for a trail ride!

We headed out through the subdivision behind our place - straight into the sun. Ugh. Nova was very well behaved and was quite relaxed. We rode through another couple subdivisions before turning and heading around towards home. There was a small field we went through that had round bales in it - Nova did not like the round bales!! It was pretty funny, really. He has a couple moves when he wants to use them. We then went along the ditch from a relatively busy road. Every time a vehicle was coming up from behind us, we stopped and waited until it went past. He did really well and didn't get nervous/stupid about any of them! (And there were quite a few on that section of road - probably 6-10.)

We then cut across the road and went through yet another subdivision! Then there's a path through the trees that leads to a different subdivision. On the path was a puddle... Well, all the good puddle work we did in the mountains went out the window. I didn't pick a fight about it because it was just too easy for him escape around it. We then climbed a hill and headed towards the road... Coming from the right is a dog that came out of a yard when it spotted the horses, and on the left is a loose horse! Ack! Well, thankfully the horse wandered into another yard and didn't seem to care about us, so we went towards the dog. I pointed Nova at the dog, and he perked right up when the dog turned and ran away from us. I think he could learn to like dog-chasing.

As we were walking through that subdivision he felt awesome. I relaxed and it just felt so good! Like, most of our rides! Nothing exciting really happened the rest of the way home - he was well behaved and all in all it was a great ride.

July 24, 2009

HOT! Oh so very hot out! But we still had a lesson!

Nova had his shoes pulled and his feet trimmed - he was good. And isn't actually very footsore at all. I was running late because the farrier was a bit behind doing the other two horses at my aunt's, but Diane was so nice and I got to have a lesson after Helga had hers.

Since it was so hot out we kept things pretty low-key and worked on bending/flexing. We started off on about a 15m circle and getting him to bend to the inside. Sort of a pick up and bring the rein across (taking his nose), and when he's relax and give I'd put the rein back to the neutral position (giving his nose back). He was quite good both ways, though to the right was obviously his worse side. We then worked on doing the same thing but to the outside. Again, he was really good. Considering I think we've only worked on this stuff once before (on purpose) he was very good. Diane then had me take his nose to the inside, then to the outside, and back and forth. We then moved it up to the trot, and he got a bit chargey about it at first. I think he was thinking "CANTER!", and then he was thinking that I usually do small circles and ask for his head when he's being stupid about the canter. But it only took a couple minutes and he settled right down and was lovely.

Then she had me start to ask him to bring his haunches slightly to the inside, and then worked on pushing them out. He was not nearly as good at this, but he tried hard. I was happy Diane was there to help me by telling me for sure when he did it. Most of the time I could feel him move his butt over just that fraction, but there were a couple times when she said he did, and I must have been concentrating too much on something else. Anyway, Diane was very happy with how hard he was trying and said that he did more than she was expecting. (Good boy!)

We then worked the canter for a few minutes (left first, right second). She had us working on a 20-ish meter circle which was hard for Nova. He didn't like having to come off the rail in the middle of the arena to start the circle, so we worked that and he started to come around better. When we changed directions and went to the right he got all uptight and dare I say, stupid. So we trotted for a minute and after a few tries he gave me the right lead and we were off. He did pretty good even though this isn't his strong side.

All in all, it was nice to step back and work on this basic stuff. He was really good and listened really well!

Oh, and I also hopped on him bareback and rode him home. It was too darn hot out to walk back up that stinkin' hill! It felt so good to just saunter back home on him - it helps he was pretty much on autopilot.

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