Sunday, March 28, 2010

March Wrap Up and April Goals


Since it doesn't look like I'm going to be doing a huge amount of riding in the next few days, I thought I'd do my end of March goal analysis now before I forgot in the rush of starting up school again. Here we go:


-- Feel comfortable in Intermediate coursework on Ringo any time, any place

Not a bit. I'm not sure I feel comfortable at Novice coursework at the moment!

-- SITTING TROT HAMMERED OUT!

YES! I was riding James the other day, and while his trot is hardly difficult, I was thinking about how far the sitting trot has come in the past winter, and even in the past month. It's one of the few things I can be proud of in March.

-- Get a "7" on Rider on a USEA dressage test

Nope. I felt a little hard done by in my Beginner Novice Test with Kiki, as I know that I rode her pretty darn well, but oh well. I can still dream.

-- Hammer out Intermediate Tests A and B, counter canter and simple changes especially!

Yes! The dressage was something I really felt like I've improved on with Ringo in leaps and bounds. Our test at Three Day was hardly perfect, but man did it not suck.

-- Do at least one "me" thing a week (really this time)

Yes; I'm not sure it worked out exactly week to week, but I did very well. I had Pa out for a whole week which was gangbusters, and later I went to the beach and got out photo-ing. I even went down Highway 1 and had fun in Big Sur.

-- Keep improving the balance of Kiki's canter

Yes! She's been improving by leaps and bounds.

-- Be able to trot into a line of fences on Kiki without a meltdown

Sort of. It's more of a yes, conditionally, at this point, because she really is getting quite good, but she does have the odd "bee in her bonnet" day too, for sure.

-- Be able to do a good 3' course on Kiki

Yes! The coursework is getting really fun on her as we figure each other out.

-- Move Ringo up to Intermediate at Three Day Ranch

Nope.

-- Debut on Kiki at Three Day Ranch!!

YES!!! AND SHE WAS AMAZING!!

-- Move Kiki up to Novice at Galway

No, but she was very ready to go. I just wasn't in the mental place to take her!

-- Finalize all pertinent registrations and ownership info for Ringo

No; Kate, you're a bad girl.

-- Find a place to live in Palo Alto for Spring Quarter

Yes! I'm sitting in my new dorm room now, where I miraculously got randomly paired up with my roommate from fall quarter who is also one of my best friends (and we are both now not in the dorm we were in in the fall... very very lucky match up!).

-- Find accommodations for Ringo and Kiki in Palo Alto

Yes! Kiki is all settled into her new home in the Mare Motel (the pipe corrals at Stanford) and Ringo will move up to the Student barn on Monday.

-- Find instruction for Ringo and Kiki in Palo Alto

Not really. At the moment, I don't care as much. I just want to get them back with me in a mental state where we are enjoying our time together and having fun. There are many good options up here; I just haven't nailed one down as my "coach" at this point in time.

-- Sort spring schedule and enroll for classes

Yes! My schedule is pretty heavy at the moment, and I'll probably end up dropping a class, but I'm legitimately interested in every class I'm signed up for, so I'm quite excited. I didn't end up getting my goal schedule (classes only on Tuesday and Thursday) but I still don't have class on Friday. Sweet.


--


Wow. That wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It's hard for me to believe based on what a negative feeling I've had toward the past few weeks, but I did actually manage to get some s*** done this month. Kiki, for sure, has improved beyond all speculation. If I look back to the start of March, I was so nervous about taking her Beginner Novice, and now I'm certain that she would have gone Novice like a champ! My situation with Ringo is much shakier (and there were fewer Ringo-related goals to show that), but if I'm looking positively I did really achieve my goal of getting my Intermediate tests and sitting trot nailed to the floor. It doesn't really help to have an Intermediate dressage test mastered when you're looking at going Training for the next few shows, but it will definitely come in handy some day =).


I also got an incredible amount done in terms of sorting out the next steps in my own life; I only found out I was coming back to Stanford in the last few days of February, and in that time moved out of one house, into another, found another place to live, moved in there, got re-enrolled, signed up for classes, found housing for my horses, got one of my horses up to said new housing with the other coming up before the month is out, and am really happy with all the situations I finally came to. Plus, as an added badge of how much moving and shaking I've been doing, I realized yesterday that in the past 14 days I've put over 2200 miles on my car, and I did probably as much driving in the first 14 days of the month as in the last. With probably around 4500 miles on my car this month alone, I could have gone all the way home to Massachusetts and about half way back again, and did it all within the boundaries of California state. Impressive.


So, here are this month's goals:


--By the end of the month feel happy and confident jumping Ringo on any given day, height not important

--Get a "7" on a USEA/USDF Dressage test!

--Get more consistency in Kiki's trot fences (or rather, her ability to cope with them)

--Take my first dressage lesson with Kiki!

--Take Kiki foxhunting

--Feel confident over 3' courses on Kiki on any given day

--Perform Novice A on Kiki, at home or in competition, with smoothness and obedience (No fit pitching!)

--Continue to improve Ringo's acceptance of leg, suppleness and elasticity

--Improve Ringo's Medium Trot!

--Have a fun competitive outing, either at Twin or Weatherford or both or somewhere else completely as long as its fun!

--Really, I'd love to think that by the end of the month Ringo and I will be back on track and ready to move up to Intermediate again. I'll put that down as a goal, though at this point in time its more of a dream. We'll see.

--Find an instructor/coach and have a blast!

--Get back into the groove at Stanford, being upfront with all professors about possible horse-related absences throughout the quarter and scheduling make up time for said absences


All right. It's another big month, but we can do it! Let's go =)



(One of our successes of the month: much, much dressage improvement!)

(I want this enthusiasm back!)

(Kiki is a star; hopefully she'll enjoy being a Bay Area Babe!)

(Further proof of the improvement in the dressage I've had recently: here's me and Dually in 2008, doing a CIC* dressage test in a Stubben jump saddle!! Good memories haha)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Bitter Reminder

...That horses are fragile creatures.

This afternoon I successfully moved out of Rancho del Rio with Kiki in tow and headed back up to Stanford. On the way, I called my friend and found out that one of the new school horses was colicking, but it didn't seem very badly. When I arrived and got Kiki settled (what a star!!) we spent a few hours chilling by the Davino's (the colicking horse) stall, and while he wasn't looking like a million bucks it wasn't anything worse than we'd seen before, either. His owner and the vet arrived at around 5 and we went off to get dinner, thinking that he would be the same or better when we got back.

Well, he wasn't. By the time we got back an hour and a half later, the vet was still there, they had administered over 25L of fluids, and the horse was getting worse. Fortunately I had my trailer, because (and this is one of our biggest shortcomings) the equestrian team doesn't own a truck/trailer of its own and none of the other boarders that could have hauled the horse to surgery were available or reachable. So, we loaded the horse up and took it down the road to the clinic, hoping that a night of round-the-clock fluids would be enough to turn the tide.

Well, it wasn't. Nothing we did improved his stats, and the further we went diagnostically, the worse it seemed to be. It eventually became evident that the impaction was in the small intestine, too close to the stomach to operate on and too far along to pass on its own. There was nothing we could do. It was utterly unbelievable. This horse, who 24 hours ago was enjoying grass and hay and sunshine, who my friend arrived at the barn this morning to jump and instead found him cast and thrashing in his stall, was suddenly reaching the final few moments of his life. And why? We have no idea.

After we got back to the barn, we both went and hugged our respective horses. My griping about competitions and qualifications and this and that suddenly seemed very shallow. All of that is immaterial to the soft warm solidity of Kiki's neck, the sticky hay-sweetness of her breath, the liquid softness of her eyes.

There's not much to say. Hug your horse, and enjoy him or her. Our time together is brief.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Snag


I will openly admit it: the last few days have been very frustrating ones for me. I struggle with many mental aspects of riding, especially fear, but have for the most part gone through the past two years of my riding career very fear- free. Additionally, while I definitely struggle with pressuring and sabotaging myself, I also think that normally I have a deceptively positive outlook on my life with horses, and keeping my chin up to the next show is something that I give a lot of priority to.

Yet, in the past few weeks, I have been struggling. Struggling in my riding some, but struggling with the mental side much more so. I have been afraid, as bad as I was in those horrible days after I broke my neck and questioned whether I could continue riding at all. Worse still, I've really been fighting against feeling negative and down. Normally I can laugh off what a ridiculously (and often painfully) chance-based sport eventing is, but lately it seems like it's been a downhill battle.

I don't really know where to go from here. I just want to enjoy my horse and have fun, but even that seems difficult at the moment. I'm very frustrated.

I ended up not going to Galway this weekend. I was hoping at the beginning of the season that it would be my first CIC**. Now I'm having my trainer ride my horse around Training. I just don't understand what went so badly wrong.

Well, that's more than enough wallowing for one post. To lighten the mood:

(Even on the worst days, that face always makes me smile)


Monday, March 15, 2010

Kiki's Show Jumping Round

Here's Kiki's show jumping round at Three Day Ranch; not bad Piggy!!

Three Day Ranch


I love my Papa!! This past weekend was Three Day Ranch down in Aguanga, California (aka THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE) and Pa, who is currently enjoying one of the few major perks of being a school teacher (spring break as an adult!!), came all the way out to California to come with me. It was my first Intermediate with Ringo and my first event ever with Kiki; I was definitely more nervous than I wanted to let on for both of them, and I can't describe how awesome it was to have my dad there for both his superb groomsman skills (seriously, he is amazing and got all the other GME folks green with envy) and his emotional support.

After a frantic few days of preparation and packing (including Kiki's first ever cross country school in California, nipped in just time, for which she was ridiculously, ridiculously good!!), we pulled out of Rancho del Rio at the fairly unpleasant hour of 5am on Thursday to make the 7 hour drive sown to the desert. When we woke up, there was hard frost over everything and it was pitch black - I had to use a flash light to find Kiki in her field and her shipping boots, which I had washed the day before and had left overnight to dry in the wash rack, were frozen solid! Definitely not why I came to California. Fortunately Pa and I are both morning people, and could laugh about the whole thing (including Kiki getting some unplanned "ice therapy" on the way down, thanks to her frozen boots!).


(Kiki = The Bomb)

(What a starlet)


(Notice the many layers!)

We pulled in at noon (after missing LA traffic for I think the first time ever) and got everyone settled in. I was so proud of how both of them traveled, but especially Kiki, who got off the trailer like she owned the place and was cool, calm, and collected from start to finish. She drank tons of water and immediately got to work on her lunch - that's my piggy! Ringo was, as usual, a little more fastidious, and took some serious offense to the Three Day Ranch water supply right off the bat (I don't totally blame him; it was well water and would often come up, I kid you not, SMOKING, white with particulate matter, and occasionally containing very nasty green sludge - I wouldn't have drunk it unless my life literally depended on it). I definitely need to look into more ways of tempting him to drink better at shows.

(Ringo behind bars)

Thursday was spent setting up and taking both horses on hacks. Both of them felt great; Ringo was very calm compared to how he can be the first day at a new place (especially with the hacking ring right across from the xc start!) and did some great stretchy work. Kiki was a STAR for her first outing in a brand new place and trotted around all the dressage rings by herself like she'd been doing it her whole life. Good ponies! Pa and I also set up our digs up in the trailer area and got settled in ourselves; Three Day Ranch is, I cannot stress enough, totally out in the middle of nowhere, and the nearest hotel is a good 45 minute drive away. We decided to camp, with Pa sleeping on my mattress from my apartment pulled up into the peak of the trailer and me in a $20 tent we picked up from Target the day before we left. It ended up working out really well, except for the small detail that it was in the low 30s every night!! Fortunately, I packed every single blanket I own, and so I while I may have looked more like a cocoon than a person when I went to bed, I slept very well (minus a very cold face and nose in the morning!).


(Ringo looking very dapper against the rocks at Three Day)

(Sticking his tongue out to the photo op)

(Trotting around the rings all by herself)

Friday was a very, very, VERY busy day! I rode Ringo and Kiki in the morning just to get them out while Papa lended his invaluable help at getting the morning chores done. Then, I rode Kiki in a schooling show jumping round, as they were running a schooling show simultaneously with the first day of the horse show (how this is legal I have no idea; I didn't complain), for which she was BEYOND FABULOUS! She had to wait twice as long as I'd expected because they were late setting the course, handled a new and spooky arena with aplomb, and put in probably the best show jumping round I've ever done on her. Good girl!!


(Cute little wahine)

Then, it was back to the barns to braid Ringo and get ready for his dressage test. He had been so tight and spooky in the morning, I was pretty nervous for how he would be in the actual warmup, which was by far the most chaotic I had been in with him yet. But I didn't need to worry; he was absolutely perfect! He came into the warmup loose and soft and got better and better as he went. We had a great, brief, on point warmup with Gina, even nailing down his medium trot (which he is quite good at but I haven't quite mastered the right level of aids for - he's a bit dull for them at home but then so sensitive at shows; it's an exercise in learning to dial back that I'm still working on). We got numerous compliments on our turnout from the ring stewards as we went up to the big ring to do our test, which always makes me glow a little bit, and I felt really ready to put in something good. And we actually did! For the first time in I think my entire life, I got to ride a horse who was just as good in the ring as he had been outside. He was calm, soft, and fluid. His gaits were expressive and his movements were accurate, and I couldn't have been more proud of him. I did end up overdoing my medium trot signals, causing him to break to canter (d'oh!) but I can hardly blame him for my mistake. He was absolutely amazing. We ended up getting a lot of good marks, including 7 on both counter canters and haunches in, an 8 on medium walk, and a 9 (!!) on extended walk. Good boy!!

(9, Baby. 9.)

(This is how it's done)

(Good man!!)

We then did an immediate tack change and headed down to the show jumping to do some schooling rounds. He was definitely a bit spooky in the warmup but didn't feel too bad, but also looking back I don't think he really felt his normal self in the warmup either. Maybe it was the water issue, and he was tired and a bit dehydrated; maybe he's feeling a bit sore in ways that didn't come out on the flat; maybe he and I were both feeling a bit nervous after a less than stellar last jump school where Ringo, distracted by a loose galloping horse, crashed through a fence, stung himself on his hind leg, and scared the bejeezus out of both of us. Maybe it was a combination of all of those factors and more. But the bottom line was that neither of us really came to the arena mentally. We jumped a Prelim round where he was pretty good but (again, in retrospect) felt a little flat and frantic. We had a totally uncharacteristic stop at an oxer where, granted, I didn't make the best approach, but I gave him a decent shot at it and he got in on just a hair of a short stride and stopped dead. We jumped it fine on the second try and finished up fine but I should have known that something was up and been smarter about revising my plan right there, but I wasn't. Gina and I both agreed that I would be fine to do the Intermediate schooling round as planned, and I went right back in for another try. And it was a disaster. After jumping the first four fences fine, he stopped flat out at a very plain vertical to which I did not ride poorly. I tried to ride a few more fences but he just shut down more and more, so I pulled up.


(Trying his guts out)

I don't know what's up but I'm worried. He wasn't giving me a great feel just on the flat cantering around, and then the feeling to the fences was terrible: flat, low, and frantic. I decided to definitely scratch him for the rest of the weekend for the short term and take a much harder look at his wellness and program for the long term. I'm so frustrated because right up to that last jump school, I was certain that he was feeling like a million bucks. What went wrong? I feel like I've been missing a warning sign or have been overlooking a gap in my training that I didn't see was there; either way makes me feel incredibly guilty as a rider because such an oversight put my equine partner at risk both physically and mentally. The biggest concern now is to get Ringo back on track; all material goals are sidebarred for that task.

So, it was with a pretty sobered tone that we proceeded forward to Saturday. Kiki didn't go until painfully late in the day (2:52 dressage and 5:15 show jumping!), but Pa and I found ways to wile away the hours. Kiki got her first ever braids (for which she was perfect) and got her tail washed about 80 times in an attempt to make it white (partial success). She was a little tense in her warmup and carried it forward to the test, but I thought she had some real nice moments. Tenseness is always going to be a problem for her, because like me she is a perfectionist and is hard on herself when she gets something wrong, but I think she's made big strides even since January. I was very proud of her. She ended up scoring a 40.0 because her transitions were all very tense, but I was still quite pleased despite her lower mark.

(Fancy Piggy)

(Kiki's tail... the source of endless tears and frustration)

After a few hour wait, we were back on in the dusk to do the show jumping. This was definitely the phase I was most worried about, as some of our show jumping schools in preparation have been pretty damn wild, to say the least. I shouldn't have worried! Kiki came out a little tense but warmed up out of it, was far better behaved in warm up than I could have believed, and was an absolute star out on course. She did have one rail where she had a seriously green moment, but for the most part jumped ridiculously calmly and well. Gina and Bec hadn't been around to watch her schooling round the day before, and were blown away by how good she was. It's also been so fun to feel her relax and start to use herself better over the fences; she's really starting to get a nice shape over the jumps, and she's got more scope coming out every day!

(Woah there, Piggy!)

(What a good little moo cow)

Satuday was also Kiki's 6th birthday! Happy birthday Piggy!! She got lots of carrots and a few awkward photos with me after her awesome show jumping round to celebrate.


(Why we're made for each other: check out that mutual unphotogenic-ness!)

(Carrot detritus after Piggy's birthday feast)

Sunday was an obscenely early morning, as it was both the first day of daylight savings time and Kiki was set to go xc at 7:54 am (aka what had been 6:54 am without the change!). We definitely fed the horses with flashlights and then retreated to the car for as long as possible to try to stay warm. When I got on, the sun still hadn't fully come up over the hills, and I was cold to the bone through multiple thermal layers and jackets. Kiki warmed up the best she had all weekend, so much so that I got a bit complacent and was basically sitting on my hands, cantering around on a long rein and thinking about how good she was being, when she decided it was time to remind me she was still a baby: a girl fell off at the first jump on cross country and her horse turned and galloped back up past the warm up. Kiki saw a split second before I did, and in one stride when from center to full reverse! Since I was being so lax, I immediately lost my balance and ended up bear hugging around her neck, trying to stay on!! After a few strides I gave up the ghost and popped off in probably the most unremarkable fall of my entire life. I was laughing so hard! I got right back on and did some engaging work to make sure Kiki hadn't lost her marbles in this little shake up, and was delighted to find her right back ont ask, if just a hair edgier than before. We headed out on course soon after, and she was absolutely perfect from start to finish; I was absolutely thrilled. The only thing I was mad about was my own miscalculation of the time that gave us 1.6 time penalties, enough to drop Kiki from 6th to 8th, one spot out of the ribbons - I felt so bad for her because she most definitely deserved a ribbon after all her hard work, and I took it from her! Sorry Kiki!! But seriously, what. a. star.

After that, we packed up pretty quickly and were home by 5pm - the serious upside of going so early! I got to take Ringo for a nice bareback ride back at Rancho del Rio and watch as Kiki rolled, and rolled, and rolled, and rolled back in her pasture before going to boast to her buddies about what a stud she is (let's face it, she deserves to!). I discovered on the ride home that the serious upside to falling off in the California desert is that the dirt is full of gold flakes - my left boot, which got scuffed in the fall, was completely aglitter with golden sparkles. I'm rich!!

Next up is making sure Ringo is feeling tip top and giving Kiki a bit of a breather before Galway in two weeks. What good ponies!! I feel so lucky to have them both in my life. I also couldn't give enough thanks to Pa, who I had just a wonderful time seeing and probably couldn't have survived (and certainly wouldn't have enjoyed) the last weekend without.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Photos


Pa is here (!!) to go with me to Three Day Ranch (second !!) and has been kindly snapping away during my last preps for the event. Here are some photos of Ringo and Kiki yesterday; both were such stars!



(Dad on McKinlaigh!!)


(Ringo)




(Kiki!!)





Saturday, March 6, 2010

Kiki can JUMP

How awesome is this little mare? She's kind and sweet, she's got a brain like a computer, and she can JUMP. At times it's a bit like being strapped to a rocket, but (usually) in the best possible way.

Today, the rain miraculously held off and the jump ring was actually usable for the first time in days and days. Since both of my horses are heading to Three Day Ranch in a week (!!), you can bet that I was out there on both of them today!

Ringo was EXCELLENT. I haven't jumped at height much yet this season, so it was great when the jumps went up and Ringo and I were able to keep it together. I'm really getting to know him better and it showed; Bec hadn't taught us since before Thermal, and I think she was happily surprised with how much we've improved. We even jumped spooky fences like the Liverpool (at height!) and the toothbrush panel on a bending line with no issues - excellent! Definitely a good confidence boost before Three Day.

Then, it was Kiki's turn. She definitely came out into the ring with a bee in her bonnet! She was much tighter and more oversensitive than she has been recently, which I found pretty disappointing because she's been SO good and progressing SO steadily for the past few weeks. Guess I should have known that never lasts long with young horses! Because the flatwork wasn't there as we were warming up, the jumping was definitely a little tougher than it was last time! She was hot, sensitive, and NOT in the mood to trot her fences (again, a disappointment, because this is an area that she's improved in by leaps and bounds). Oh boy!

The exercise that Bec eventually built up for us was an x preceded by a 9' placing rail, one stride to a cross rail oxer, one stride to another cross rail oxer, followed by another 9' placing rail, so it could be trotted in from either direction. To start out, Kiki was wild! It was so interesting to see how such minor changes could affect the trip through the grid: this horse is tuned in to me like no horse I've ever ridden before, and she's incredibly attentive and sensitive to any changes that I make as a rider. I'm happy with how much better we're clicking (thinking back to the gridwork a few weeks ago when I could barely stay in the plate!) and I think that we got some good work out of the exercise despite her occasional spitfire behavior.

One of my favorite things about this horse is that she's FEARLESS. At first I was pretty freaked out by her fearlessness because I wasn't totally sold on her actual athleticism - it's not a good combination to have a brave horse that's going to run itself into a situation it can't get itself out of! As I've gotten to know her better, though, I've discovered that she really is an athlete in the making. The bitch can jump!!

Example: there was one time through where I had been trying to break her up in her neck and shoulders and ended up getting a bit cattywhompus to the first x instead, and even though she was crooked as hell she dug in and got out through the grid. The last fence was a very big x (the rails were set on top of the 6' standards) with a 9' placing rail on the far side and she got to it snuggled right up against the standard. Without batting an eye, she fired out over a section of the x that must have been 4' and landed on the far side of the placing rail. Definitely not what I was aiming for, but very impressive nonetheless! The best part was, though, when she came around the next time after that VERY unorthodox trip, and did it foot perfectly. What a good girl! I'm so in love with her =)

I'm getting pretty excited for Three Day Ranch, especially now that Papa is coming with!!

Very Delayed February Goal Wrap Up and March Goals


Since I moved into my new house (!!) at Rancho, which has absolutely nothing in it (current furniture in the entire 2 Bedroom, 2 Bath house: 1 mattress, 1 table, 1 desk (non-functioning). That's it.) and certainly no TV or internet, I've been feeling a distinct sense of disconnect from the real world.

(The new digs)

As such, the beginning of the month totally slipped past me, and I forgot to do my February goal review. So here we go, better late than never:

February Goals

-- Feel confident jumping 3'6" - 3'9" on Ringo on any given day
I would say... tentative yes. Definitely feeling confident in the 3'6"-3'9" RANGE, as is mostly 3'6" with a few 3'9" thrown in. Definitely not yet at full 3'9" courses.
-- Practice the "light three point" seat on both Ringo and Kiki
Yes! In my last lesson with Gina she was really pleased with how far I've come in this department and I agree.
-- Survive Thermal with a smile!
Yes! I had a great time and learned a lot.
-- Feel confident in Intermediate coursework on Ringo
Getting there - I can do some intermediate questions, for sure, but am not doing full Intermediate courses, show jumping or cross country, yet.
-- Get out cross-country schooling on Ringo
Yes! And it was awesome!
-- Have a good sitting trot by the end of the month!!
Much better, but still have a long way to go =)
-- Ride as many horses as they'll let me get on at Rancho
Not really; I actually rode fewer horses than in January, which was due to some weird interpersonal issues that were going on at the barn, which was pretty frustrating.
-- Practice Intermediate Test A until I could do it in my sleep
Nope. Since I wasn't going Intermediate at Twin I left this one at the wayside a bit.
-- Start working on Intermediate B
I've learned it and have worked on the movements but have yet to practice it start to finish. Best get on that!
-- Sort out work arrangements
Nope. Bad girl, Kate! Though, because of some news I'll discuss further at the end of this post, it's pretty much a moot point now.
-- Get out to, and have a blast at, my first event of the season on Ringo at Twin Rivers! =)
Well I got out to it, but I wouldn't really say I had a blast, thanks to the weather! But I did definitely feel prepared and pumped in the run-up
-- Stay positive
I'll give myself 1/2 credit for this. It was definitely a tough month, and I faltered sometimes. But in general, it was certainly a better month for me personally than January, though some barn issues in February made things... not always that great feeling. Sigh.
-- Go out and do at least one "me" thing a week
1/2 credit again. I started out the month well, with trips to the beach and up and down the coast, but pooped out by mid-February, and it showed in my outlook.
-- Work on improving Kiki's balance at the canter
Yes! She really feels like she's improving.
-- Get confident over small fences at home with Kiki
Yes! She's still pretty ragged but I feel pretty safe on her and am really enjoying it.
-- Take Kiki off the property at least once
Yes! She was a TOTAL STAR at Rainbow - now she needs to get off the farm more and more!
-- Get at least one flat lesson a week on Kiki
Nope. Not even one! Ringo, I'll admit, got top billing for the month.
-- Take either Ringo or Kiki to the beach!!! (Ok this one is not so serious, but it would be totally awesome!)
Not this month, but hopefully soon! =)

Altogether not a terrible month. I definitely had some frustrating moments, but most of them stemmed from human issues, not equine. I feel like I'm riding so much better, have really gotten to know Ringo better and better, and that our bond is better than ever before. Kiki is blossoming and has improved more than I ever could have dreamed on January 31st. She's a delight every time I get on her (even when she's being a little pissy, like she has been the past few days!!).

So, here are the March goals:

-- Feel comfortable in Intermediate coursework on Ringo any time, any place
-- SITTING TROT HAMMERED OUT!
-- Get a "7" on Rider on a USEA dressage test
-- Hammer out Intermediate Tests A and B, counter canter and simple changes especially!
-- Do at least one "me" thing a month (really this time)
-- Keep improving the balance of Kiki's canter
-- Be able to trot into a line of fences on Kiki without a meltdown
-- Be able to do a good 3' course on Kiki
-- Move Ringo up to Intermediate at Three Day Ranch
-- Debut on Kiki at Three Day Ranch!!
-- Move Kiki up to Novice at Galway
-- Finalize all pertinent registrations and ownership info for Ringo
-- Find a place to live in Palo Alto for Spring Quarter
-- Find accommodations for Ringo and Kiki in Palo Alto
-- Find instruction for Ringo and Kiki in Palo Alto
-- Sort spring schedule and enroll for classes

Now, these last 4 goals point directly to the big change that's been going down in the past week and a half. For some complicated reasons that I won't go into here, I'm going to be heading back to Stanford in the spring! I'm super bummed to be ending my time of focusing on riding, because I'm feeling like I'm just starting to fire on all cylinders and really improve. Additionally, moving at this time really puts the possibility of being able to go to a spring CCI** (and so Young Riders) into question; it was going to be a big goal even with no other distractions! On the other hand, I would be lying if I didn't say that I wasn't a tiny bit excited to be heading back to school. I've missed my studies and my Stanford friends very dearly, and it will be fun to get back to work. I think I can make it work in a way that I'll be able to continue to improve and grow as a rider; in many ways, finding THAT situation is the big goal of the month. No matter what happens, I want to be set up for a good spring when March comes to a close!


(Ringo is excited for the season to really start... preferably without rain!!)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cramming

We're in the last two weeks before Ringo's and my move up to Intermediate and Kiki and my debut together at Beginner Novice at Three Day Ranch. I have the exact same feeling that I get in the last two weeks before exam week at school... it's time to start cramming!

For Kiki, the focus will be on the jumping. Her flatwork is, at this point, not at all embarrassing for her level (though man does it still have a long way to go), but I've only jumped her three times since coming to California, and twice over jumps no bigger than 2'! Bec gave me a lesson yesterday to figure out how much homework we would have over the next few weeks, and I think we were both pretty happily surprised; Kiki actually jumped around a 2'3" - 2'9" range course with relatively little fuss. Of course, she has miles and miles to go until she's feeling really solid, but she's a blast to jump (like a little rocketship!) and is very tidy and clever with her front end, so even when we got to some pretty ragged distances I was never really afraid for my life. We also desperately need to get out cross country schooling, which hopefully will happen this weekend.

For Ringo, I've got to get not only some good jump schools but also some serious flat lessons and a few gallops in. I definitely trust Ringo's ability more (that's a no brainer at this point in time!) but, at Intermediate, there is also just so much more to prepare. We've got to hammer out our counter canters and our transitions on the flat, get a little fitter on the hills, and maintain the confidence we currently have in the jumping over bigger and bigger fences. It's a lot to do, but I'm feeling up for the challenge at the moment!

Ringo jumped great yesterday (even if he did nearly have a heart attack over the section of carpet someone had laid over the fence line that was waving slightly in the breeze - the horrors!!) and I was really proud of his counter canter work today. It was interesting, because I warmed up the counter canter doing some pretty hard movements, doing full figures of eight, three and four loop serpentines, and 20 meter counter canter circles all while maintaining the lead. I did alot of over and counter bending and made sure he was moving off my leg, and everything checked out great; he was feeling awesome. Then, I went to go repeat the movement that I had to do for the Prelim test at Twin-- a shallow serpentine loop just out to the quarter line and back-- and he immediately switched out the first time I tried. The more I thought about it, the more I think he genuinely did not understand what I was asking him to do; it was very interesting because he is so so clever that I don't think I've ever run into a schooling problem where he didn't understand before (usually it's that he understands a little too quickly!), and as such I definitely tried to approach fixing it not with a sense of punishment but with a sense of encouragement. It paid off, and by the ned of the school we were doing shallow loops out to the center line and back with no issues. Good man, Ringo!

Hopefully both Kiki and Ringo will get out for a gallop on Thursday at Rainbow. Fingers crossed. . .
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