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Eight week threads: March-April - Gearing up for summer!

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  • Eight week threads: March-April - Gearing up for summer!

    The Jan-Feb thread was pretty small, and we are three weeks into March at this point. I don't know about everyone else, but I'm really ready for spring. I saw my first Red Winged Blackbird of the year this past week, so I know it's coming!

    I had to let my Jan-Feb goals slide a bit in February and early March as my horse decided the scary corners were a Very Big Deal. We did a lot of very boring stop-every-time-you-twitch-at-it-and-sniff-and-see-it's-okay work for a couple of weeks to the point that even HE was getting bored practicing not spooking at the stuff. This past week we have been able to begin doing some actual work again.

    I did check out the show schedule and find a number of potential shows to go to (season starts in May here). I also started my older horse back into dressage training, which is making me very, very happy as well as highlighting my sloppy riding. Something that will help with the younger one.

    So, goals for March-April:

    I am looking for him to reach into the contact more consistently and respond to lighter aids, especially when he thinks there is something scary in the corner. I want to see improvement at all gaits.

    Continue improving and strengthening the canter work, and look for steadier transitions up and down. Continue working on counter canter.

    Get his lengthening in trot more consistent in rhythm, stride, power and balance, with better transitions in and out.

    Fix my sloppy riding (I'm already seeing improvement here) while getting my older horse fit, strong, and ready for summer. Strengthen my core.

    First show for us will be early in May!!

    How did you do? What's in store for spring?

  • #2
    Yay Spring!!

    Winter was a drag with limited riding, but now we have back to a schedule for a few weeks and I'm getting excited about the coming season. My baby is coming 4 so our goals are simple - keep him forward all.the.time. and improve connection. Make transitions prompt without losing connection. Take a few field trips - I was thinking some schooling shows and rides at a local farm that allows haul ins, but I just saw a notice for a clinic in June with Christine Traurig to benefit the Young Horse program and I'm thinking of applying to ride, not just audit.
    "So relax! Let's have some fun out here! This game's fun, OK? Fun goddamnit." Crash Davis; Bull Durham


    • Original Poster

      Go for it, Miss Ariel!


      • #4
        Definitely go for it, MissAriel!

        I couldn't remember what my goals were for Jan/Feb, so I had to dig through the threads to find it! Some of those goals got put on the back burner after my lesson with BO's trainer.

        We're still plugging away at what we worked on in our lesson in January. I tried to get back there for another lesson in February but things just didn't work out. BO's trainer had a minor surgery at the end of February and she's now cleared to ride everything again. I'll try to get over there in early April.

        Goals for this time:
        -Continue working on stretching down and out to the bit. Must remember to bend through the rib cage. Its getting better, but we still have some issues there. He can do it, I just need
        -More cavaletti work! I was able to work on that during the winter. Now that daylight savings has returned (yay!), I don't have to wait for the weekend to do cavaletti.
        -Put all the pieces together for 1st 3. Lead change through the trot is our biggest issue right now. I'm using an exercise I read in Dressage Today that seems to be helping.

        I'm going to a clinic with a 4* eventer this weekend (been going to her clinics for the last 2-3 years now). Then I'm aiming for a recognized show in late April. Not sure what tests I'll do there, but this weekend's clinic should give me a good idea!
        My May boys: Beau, Neon, Criss


        • #5
          I'll jump in!

          My horse tore a suspensory ligament and had a year off rehabbing. We started slowly back to work but I found I had lost my direction, not to mention my position and both of our fitness levels! I have started taking lessons with a great coach but it has been a bit slow going due to winter weather and colds.

          Had a wonderful lesson on Sunday! I really felt like a rider again and he seemed to really have fun too!

          Our goals:

          Regain our fitness levels
          I need to get my position back to where it was - both fitness but also old, bad habits have crept back in like folding my hands into myself instead of shortening reins.
          Get my confidence back - I actually had a panic attack at canter!!!!

          I have an employment contract ending Mar 31 and I am going to try to start a business that will allow me to work part time. I find as I get older (late 50s) I just don't have the stamina to do everything I used to be able to do!

          I hope you go to the clinic MissAriel!


          • #6
            Our goals are pretty simple: fitness, fitness, fitness! He's so huge it takes so much strength to keep everything together. This year I finally have the time to really get back into regular lessons (and time to actually do homework between lessons) and even some shows. All I want to do is get us fit and ready to start progressing again by the time May gets here. Now if only the weather would start accommodating us so this can happen!
            Hudson Valley's Premier Tack Shop www.argentoeq.com/

            Life is happening for us not to us


            • #7
              I'm going to start joining in on these threads because I seriously need to articulate some goals for myself!

              We are demo riding first level movements in an L judge's clinic this weekend, so my number 1 goal is to not humiliate myself. Secondary goal to that is to finish pulling Sam's unholy terror of a mane before then, also in order to not humiliate myself.

              Number 2 goal is to keep working on bending to the right. He's getting a massage Friday, so hopefully that will help. I think a lot of his difficulty bending to the right is my physical weakness, so I'm resolved to start working more on core exercises and leg exercises especially and to go to yoga once a week so I can learn to relax and stretch down more. Related, I want to work on sitting up more and keeping my shoulders back; as I get tired I start to default to hunter pose, so I need to work on my strength and cardio.

              Number 3 goal is to learn to carry a whip. My horse rarely needs a whip unless it's really hot, so I've avoided it, but I bought the shortest whip I could find and need to learn to use it before we go to NC for a week of lessons in April.

              Number 4 goal is to not humiliate myself in the lessons in NC in April.

              Number 5 goal is to work on the canter loop so we can do test 1-3 at our first show at the end of May. And not to humiliate myself at said show in May.
              "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

              Graphite/Pastel Portraits


              • #8
                2016 was a difficult year and it spilled into 2017 so we are back on square one
                . Again. Hoping to make it to square two
                I wasn't always a Smurf
                Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
                "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


                • #9
                  My goal list:
                  -to go deeper into my corners the the dressage arena without my gelding and I (who are new to le dressage) jumping out of the arena lol
                  - make it to spring break
                  - prepare for the 50 mile endurance I'm doing on a 5 year old (what have I signed myself up for)


                  • #10
                    I'm ready to play! It's been such a year of setbacks for me. Was finally back on my horse and starting the slow climb back to where we were before my fall when boom - sidelined for 3 weeks with a nasty sinus infection and bronchitis. When I came back from that a few weeks ago I suddenly couldn't do anything. My steady horse started spooking at one end of the ring, I couldn't even get a a trot to canter transition in one direction and as for contact / connection...it didn't even exist. My horse pretended to be a giraffe or a freight train and I couldn't fix either one.

                    it wasn't until I was writing an article on lunge line lessons that the lightbulb suddenly went off - I'd lost my confidence. Not so much that I didn't trust my horse not to do something stupid, but that I didn't trust my ability to manage it if he had even a minor shy. As a result I was clinging on to the reins for dear life and completely blocking any hope of connection or communication.

                    I took my own article's advice and did a couple of lunge lessons. The first one totally confirmed my suspicions - I couldn't force myself to let go of both reins even at the walk or halt. The second lesson was much better and I soon trotting around with no reins. Not only was that the psychological breakthrough I needed, doing trot with both hands in the air straight over my head gave me the feeling of sitting correctly in and with the horse.

                    Magic! Suddenly, for three solo rides in a row now I am sitting correctly, using my seat and core to control my horse and not relying on my hands for balance. Not surprisingly he is rock solid in the contact and so easy to ride at all three gaits. A tiny bit of leg and little finger vibration is all I need to communicate when he's there. It feels so unbelievably good! Still need work turning and leg yielding when my weak leg is the outside leg but that will come, and now need to work on balance and longer strides in the lengthens, instead of quicker steps, but my summer goal of showing First Level now seems totally achievable again!

                    Hope the magic lasts for a while...have another lunge lesson tomorrow and am actually looking for add to it!

                    Goals between now and dressage test clinic April 8:
                    Continue to improve balance and independent seat
                    Focus giving more subtle aids
                    Improve transitions in and out of lengthen strides
                    Gradually increase the number of quality lengthen strides before transition back to working


                    • #11
                      First time goal setter/contributer on this thread and excited to join in..
                      Where in Ontario are you RedHorses? I am near Collingwood and plan on getting out to spectate at the shows held at the Caledon Equestrian Park as well as the Caledon Cadora shows, work schedule permitting.

                      As for goals, mine are very similar to Btswass. Fitness & strength for both horse and myself. I part-board a big guy (17.2.h.h) as well who is also older (19/20). I am aiming at riding 3 times a week. I've consistently ridden 2x per week over the winter but know we need to step it up.

                      I would like to get out and do some road hacking. Our barn doesn't have any hacking on property but is located halfway down a dirt dead end road. Horse's owner says he hacks, so it would be nice to find a buddy at the barn to go out with the first couple of times. Simply getting out of the arena would be great.

                      Fitness for me means committing again to a once a week cardio/weights circuit and going for a 30 minute walk 2x/wk. All while working 4 days a week and getting my kids to their activities which take up a couple nights a week.

                      Last but not least is to schedule a monthly lesson. Finances only permit one a month. My work schedule varies so its been hard to work myself into the barn coach's busy schedule.

                      All in all very doable goals I think. I look forward to updating at the end of April.


                      • Original Poster

                        Caledon Equestrian Park is a lovely venue. I haven't seen it in many years, but enjoyed the one show I did there with my previous horse. I am in Eastern Ontario, and Caledon is a bit of a journey. I had planned to go back, but I had to retire my horse unexpectedly.

                        This year I am looking at Discovery level shows for my younger horse, showing Training and getting into First level.


                        • #13
                          Like so many of you, I am slowly working on my fitness, along with getting the short round mare fit. We had a very mild mystery hitch last fall, so I gave her some time off. My current goals are to get swingy gaits with a true connection, work on getting her to push more in an uphill frame, and starting to play with more counter canter and changes. I have my sights set on either 3-3 or 4-1 this summer.....fingers crossed we both stay healthy! I also need to amp up the lateral work. When I lesson with my coach, I seem to ride more SI, and half pass. Right now, I am trying to just figure out what to school, on what days, when to push, and when to back off. I think that is my biggest struggle, it seemed easier at the lower levels when you could hit upon a bit of everything. This is my first horse I have ever trained through this level, so it's new to both of us. I keep thinking, what I do today, will show up in July/August. I just need to keep slowing building the base and not get into a rush.


                          • #14
                            I'm really excited for this coming season, so I've been trying really hard to make a good start this year! I've dreamed about eventing since I started riding in my teens (10+ years ago), and this will be my first year where I'm able to go to a real event if all goes according to plan! There are no courses in this neck of the woods (4 hours to the nearest for XC schooling), so this is a big deal for me!

                            1. Be the jerk.
                            Doesn't sound like a great goal, but the mentality has helped me. My mare thinks she's quite the princess, and will ignore or disregard me if there's something she's more interested in. It seems like the meaner I am to her (poke her in the ribs when she isn't keeping an eye on me, back her up hard when she walks in front of me, etc.) the quieter and more relaxed she is. I have to call the shots or she does.

                            2. Ride straight, ride with purpose, ride like I'm riding a bike.
                            Princess likes to worm around and look at things, again, not really too worried about me, but then spooky at other things. When I ride her straight (no looky loo), ride like I WILL be where I plan to be, and really kinda treat her like I'm riding a bike (not anticipating it could go any other way than the way my body is making it), it's so much better. Princess is relaxed, softer, lighter, and my seat is better.

                            3. Getting myself fit, riding bareback (bareback pad) every other ride
                            I've been mostly riding without a saddle this spring, and it's really helping in terms of my riding fitness, seat, and balance. It's also forcing me to ride better when she feels like she might be silly, for self preservation. Hopefully I'm able to translate this into the saddle later without getting lazy.

                            4. Trail ride, test our new found obedience and confidence!

                            I think these are good for now. They are all things I can do while we both are not fit, that will help a lot when we are fit and start doing things that are more difficult!


                            • #15
                              happy/excited brag -for some reason, canter has become terrifying to me - I could not get my seat or balance and was hanging on the reins. Poor horse. Yesterday in my lesson, I sat up, engaged my core and has a lovely downward transition. Woohoo! Well on the road to no more panic attacks at canter.


                              • #16
                                Erika - have you considered volunteering to scribe? I scribe at the Cornerstone shows (Caledon Equestrian Park). Scribing is a wonderful way to learn. It is, of course, fun to be in the GP ring, but I also like to scribe the level I ride at. I get to see a lot of riders, here what the judge has to say (usually a lot more than ever gets written down) and if you have a judge who is inclined you can ask some questions. Not all judges like to have questions, but many will offer a lot of advice unasked and if they know you are interested they will often be very chatty! Those shows are great to volunteer at - they are really well organized, lots of breaks, good food, great venue and best of all, good judges.


                                • #17
                                  I need to practice lower level tests so my horse doesn't keep thinking he needs to do harder stuff... lesson learned.


                                  • #18
                                    i'll play! we're happy to be stabled where there is an indoor for 3 months of extensive training, before we go home, where there is only a sand box! So we have continued where lessons quit back in October, and improved lunging, walk/trot with contact, bend, extensions (sort-of!), leg yield, sitting trot (my homework here!), canter trans on the correct lead, and consistency of contact, with my learning to be steady arms giving & taking when needed! we have goals to compete this summer, (our season starts at the end of May) at very teeny tiny bronze level walk/trot tests. Although our coach has suggested we may be able to handle Training by the time we hit the ring!! YIKES! that means our current goal is to have right lead canter, and 20m circle before end of April. (we have left!) So happy to be able to have these goals this year, as its been a while, since getting the barn at home, giving up on the mare, working a year on a free-lease to have him go home again, and getting a OTTB that was young, and too stubborn in previous years for my lack of experience to bring along, and my lack of a consistent coach who believed in both of us has been rectified, and its all coming together for this year. Fingers Crossed!!


                                    • #19
                                      So winter always seems to start with a great plan, sidelined by something(s). This year wasn't too bad - maresy was making progress in contact, more consistent all-around. We did a show in mid-February, and with our heat wave, she was in a violent transitional heat. I debated scratching, but was already committed to hauling a friend. Instead, I gave her banamine, had started regumate earlier that week, but not soon enough to fix things before the show, so went and rode like a hunter and only did training level. Her pain manifests in a tight back and losing the lead behind in the canter. First test, much better overall comments - no more hollow/above-the-bit, but we did get noted for being tight, and she did lose the canter early. Not a great score, but some great moments in the test. Second test, banamine must have worn off - she was just pissy. I again rode in two point and it wasn't horrific, but note to self - no more shows with mares from Feb - April - avoid transitional estrus season! The gelding that made so much progress last year was going NUTS late summer, and diagnosed with lyme and low vitamin E. So he hasn't been ridden, other than a short walk, since December. He's much improved and not girthy, but I'm doing home improvements on their barn, so boarding them, and I haven't found a good time for a first ride back yet on him at the boarding barn - I want to set him up for success, so the windy day, or the day the kids are taking lessons, not doing it. With that boy out of work, I started playing with a Standardbred I bought as the third horse in the herd/potential husband horse. He tended to pace undersaddle, so I'd been encouraging gaiting to aim him to be a trail horse. DH really isn't into riding, so told me to play with him for me as the other boy was out of commission. So just recently started thinking about trot work, and have been lunging successfully in the trot (he does wtc in the field, as well as pace).

                                      Long backstory to where we are now, and goals:

                                      Mare: Improve performance at shows with mare in TL3 and First 1, where we left off last year. Clinic mid-April, maybe show late April, for sure show mid-May. Need to keep her straighter in canter, but getting massage to help with any lingering tightness from girl troubles. Improve steadiness in contact, lengthening, and get to First 3 by year's end.

                                      Standardbred: Build trot! Just got trot 3 days ago for the first time undersaddle - using three trot poles and ask for trot over the first pole. Then I'm literally just maintaining it for longer and longer after those rails. He's like a gangly teenage basketball player when he trots. So build up his balance and confidence in trot, and then wean him off the trot poles for the aid (take away a pole at a time). No idea how quickly he'll progress - his limits are more physical/muscling than brain right now - he's SO willing! So we'll see, but keep progressing is a good goal, right? Depending on how he does, maybe an Intro show by year's end? And definitely trails.

                                      Lyme-recovered gelding: Get back in shape! This boy is 16 years old now, and was a rescue with more baggage than the racehorses. He is a fun TL gelding, and I do low jumping - cross country at Starter level and CTs. I am thinking investing in the younger STB is smart, so this boy becomes the third horse - fun but inconsistent progress, so he's not top priority to train to a higher level, though I'm hoping supplementing with vitamin E in the fall will prevent future health/behavior issues. He can be so cute, but such a heartbreaker at times!

                                      And keep myself in shape! Not getting any younger, so full-body weight routine twice weekly, plus farm work, and maybe 1-2 cardio days? And clean eating!

                                      Excited to write this out, and re-evaluate later this year!


                                      • #20
                                        I'll play, finally bringing my pony back to under saddle work. He's been jogging up and down hills walk/trot now for 21 days, starting to get fit after having the winter off. Hasn't been ridden since Jan. on a trail ride. So I'll get him back going w/t/c and work on contact and relaxation. I would like to get him fit enough to take a few dressage lessons now that I'm in NoVA with tons of great instructors. My goal is to take him to a schooling show in the fall, if not before for a training level or first level test. I've never shown him under saddle, only driving. I bet we will be the only hackney pony there.
                                        "Anyone who tries to make brownies without butter should be arrested." Ina Garten