Friday, December 16, 2011

Or.....maybe not....

I'm rethinking my big dreams of trying 1st level. Lets just say that schooling hasn't been going very well since our "lightbulb" day.

A few issues that I've run into this week include:

- Mare has decided that she enjoys the "lengthened" portions of the test a little too much... meaning it's REALLY hard to quietly come back down to a working gait.

- Mare has decided she is NOT a fan of that darned magical whip. I am having issues managing my reins and the whip and it seems every time I go to shorten my reins, the whip wiggles a little and then our relaxation goes out to the window and falls into a heap of locked jaw.

- Mare now thinks that we should always lengthen across the diagonal which results in very poor transitions from trot to canter at "X". Darn that locked jaw again!

- The canter loop is a complete disaster. Who would think coming off the wall to the quarter line and back to the wall would be so difficult but apparently according to "The Mare" we must try for multiple flying changes (Hmm... Maybe one day we *could* do tempi changes!?!) the one direction or fall apart into a discombobulated trot the other way.

LOL Oh the fun of moving up a level! I'm thinking we might be better off sticking with what we know! LOL

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Magical Stick.... First level here we come??

So since the Championships I was thinking to myself, would I continue to do some dressage next year? Or was this just a fun thing to do for this year? I really enjoyed the dressage shows, everyone was incredibly friendly and I just had a lot of fun.
The one thing that kept sticking in my mind was that we'd absolutely have to move up a level if we continued next year because... that's how it works. So I began reading through the 1st level tests and realized that the main difference between training and 1st is the addition of lengthened gaits and leg yielding. The lengthening didn't seem to be too much of an issue, we could do that and a leg yield to the right we could do, but what about the leg yield to the left.... Nah we'd never be able to do 1st level. I had tried it a few times with a dressage whip but it just didn't work, it wasn't stiff enough to actually ask her to move over.

There's a schooling show coming up this weekend that was I planning to take some of my lesson kids to and I was mulling over the idea of trying a 1st level test to see if we could somewhat get ourselves through it.

Now I must have the most supportive family when it comes to showing and this whole sidesaddle business because my mom gave me an early Christmas present the other day. She gave me an absolutely gorgeous sidesaddle whip. It's MUCH longer than than the hunt whips I've got and perfect for dressage.
I tried it out last night and I swear, this stick is magical!! I played around at the walk and trot to start with, so I could get used to riding with it and so Brigit could get used to it being there and then we tried a leg yield to the left and I swear, that horse has never leg yielded so well in all the time I've had her!! Down the quarter line we came, opened the left rein a bit and laid the stick against her belly and we had this amazing lateral feeling. Normally her hind end lags a little bit but with this whip in just the right spot you could feel everything engage and almost swing over underneath you. What a neat, lightbulb moment!

Now don't get me wrong, I know I'm in for a lot more work if we want to do 1st level and do it well but this is definitely a promising start!! I think the biggest challenge is going to be getting Brigit to relax when I'm riding with a whip.... she really doesn't like them and is so sensitive that if she even sees it move out of the corner of her eye she thinks it's time to move....Which could make that stretchy trot circle even more tricky to get.. I found the most difficult part was keeping it still at the canter; normally I'd rest it on my leg if I was astride but aside, it's really got nowhere to go. It'll probably just take a bunch of riding to get both of us used to it and desensitized a bit.

Not only is it magical.... but it's awfully pretty too!

One of these days I'll get a video of the infamous leg yielding to share too!

And I guess if I didn't officially have a collection of antique whips before.... I sure do now! I guess if I'm down to *only* 2 sidesaddles then it's ok to collect something else... hehe

Thursday, December 8, 2011

He is DEFINITELY a keeper!

My significant other recently started a new job (ok not so recently, almost a month ago) and he's on shift work a few hours away. On one of his trips home, he stopped in a litttle town that is very well known for their antique shops. There's this one store that is just HUGE, 3 stories full of antiques of all sorts. And every once in awhile a little gem will pop up. He stopped in there, looked around for awhile and then asked the clerk if they happened to have anything related to sidesaddle riding.

And what do you know! The clerk says "Why yes actually! We just got this in the other day!" and pulls out this absolutely gorgeous ladies hunt whip.
Bamboo shaft, antler handle and an absolutely gorgeous engraved silver collar. What a find!

And being the good man he is, he brought it home for me!

Here's a close up of the handle & collar.

The other end was missing the waxed cord that's usually wound around to help secure the "snapper" (I can't think of the actual name for that little bit of leather on the end right now... duh!) and I was worried that it might come off if I ever tried to use it, even just for demo purposes. So I figured I'd stop by the local leather repair place and see what they could suggest. Turns out they had just what the doctor ordered. Though I'm wondering if I should have used a darker color?
Here's the end all fixed up.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Photos from the summer

I look at these photos and recall how HOT that wool habit was to wear that day. And then I look outside today.... and I'd be glad to have it on! It's snowing and about -8, roads aren't great and it's an overall good day to be inside!
Anyways, my mother ordered some photos from a local photographer that came down to see our sidesaddle demonstration at the Bar U clinic. She is just AMAZING and seemed to catch the horses at exactly the right moments.

Doesn't Brigit just look amazing? (I'm still not sure how well I like the look of a bowler on me... lol)

Crossing the creek makes for some great photos.

And this is my friend Cait & her little gelding Eddie. He's technically a pony but don't tell him that! His ego is more than big enough to keep up with Brigit's size! They really do make the ultimate pleasure pairs couple.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Prayers please

This is a bit off topic from my usual posts but I'd like to request some prayers for one of our students that was involved in a serious car accident last night. Unfortunately we live in an area with a lot of deer & moose and she hit a moose and has some pretty severe injuries.

Some extra good thoughts sure can't hurt!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Our hunter-jumper re-debut!

I say re-debut because we used to show hunter-jumpers but now we're trying it in a sidesaddle!

I have to say I was SO pleased with Brigit. I warmed her up astride because I thought she might get a bit looky at some of the decorations (it was full blown Christmas in the ring!) and I thought it would be better to get her settled with a leg on each side first. She was SO quiet and SO good I could hardly believe it. No spooks, no speedy-ness, no rushing or pulling on me. Just a nice soft easy going pony.

Went back and changed tack and I changed into my sidesaddle attire (which I was up till 11:30 pm finishing!) and back into the ring we went! Boy were a lot of people VERY surprised to see me riding sidesaddle and I got a lot of "You're not going to JUMP like that are you?!?!"... You betcha!!
Warming up in our fancy Christmas outfit...
Let me tell you I was so nervous I thought I was going to throw up. We went in and did a few warmup jumps and everything went really smoothly so my nerves settled down a bit. My next fear.... forgetting the course! But thank goodness for the hunter world.... Love their easy to remember, flowing courses. Quarterline, diagonal, outside line, diagonal, outside line and DONE.

Our first division was the 2'0" classes. The course rode really nicely and I thought we nailed every jump except one. Boy was this TIRING though! My leg was aching already after one round! 3 more to go and 2 flat classes!

We made it around the courses and had a really fun time. I was pretty proud of myself that we'd survived and actually made it look not too bad! And we'd placed in every class! We ended up with two 3rd's, a 4th, two 6th's and an 8th. Definitely not too shabby at all! The classes were fairly big and the riders were very good. You could tell most of them are pretty serious hunter riders, so I think we did well considering we were really just kind of winging it.

This is a video of one of our 2'3" rounds...

The owner of the barn we were at (who's on the Canadian Equestrian Team) was helping to hand out ribbons on the last division and was so impressed that we had jumped sidesaddle! He asked if we'd be showing in any other classes as he'd really like to see it (didn't get to see our previous rounds). I said I wasn't too sure, I was getting pretty tired and Brigit was too. Plus we hadn't jumped 2'6" sidesaddle. I figured I'd try a few warmup jumps and they went well... So I figured what the heck, why not. Well.... we probably shouldn't have... it was not a good round. I think my right leg was just too tired and for the life of me I couldn't find a nice distance to any of the fences, nor could I stay with the motion. There was a few times I thought I was going to get ejected! We made it around the course but let me tell you... it wasn't pretty. The barn owner was still pretty impressed though and offered to let us do another round but I declined, I was just too tired.

From looking at some of the photos, I can see that I definitely need to fix my position. It appears that I'm tipping over to the left over the fences, so no wonder I was feeling like I was nearly getting chucked out of the saddle on the landing. Hopefully with more practice and awareness that I'm doing it, I can fix it. At this point... I sure can't imagine going any higher (though I'd LOVE to!). There has to be something I'm doing or not doing quite right that's holding me back.... hmm..... A new challenge to conquer!
This is the photo that shows me tipping to the left badly!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Into orbit we go! Well...hopefully not anyways!

So tomorrow is the big day. It's our first official "hunter-jumper" over fences show....sidesaddle.

I think I'm prepared.... at least I hope I am! I jumped again last night and things seemed to be going really well, so hopefully when we get to the show we can pull off a few nice rounds (or at the very least, not make a gigantic idiot out of ourselves lol).

I even tried out my new apron last night.... Yes that's what I've been making with all that fancy fabric. A Christmas sidesaddle outfit. Apron, vest & stock tie. I was really impressed by how well the apron fit & it hangs just about perfectly level, pretty good for my second try at making one!

The stock tie took me awhile to figure out how to tie the darned thing (probably longer than it took me to make it), I've only ever had the fake, pre-tied ones. I sat in the bathroom, in front of the mirror with my laptop on the counter, trying to follow along with the a youtube video. It was a bit funny but I think I've got it down pat now! (btw, these are extremely easy to make).
Here's the video if anyone wants to learn how to tie a proper stock.

Tonight will be a busy one with all of the prep... Ride, bath Brigit, clean tack, swap bits to different bridles, clean boots, iron clothes, make sure everything is in the trailer and hopefully get some sleep!

Oh and I've got to finish my vest... Turns out the sizing on the package of the pattern and the sizing on the actual pattern itself... were different. i.e. the vest is MUCH too big for me and needs some major alterations. Just hoping I can get it done tonight!!