Saturday, February 24, 2007

Half halts

Grace and I have been for our third lesson with Jo Graham. I did not think Grace would travel very well because she was quite stressed out loading as there were some horses in the field and others going out on a hack. I loaded her five times until she loaded and unloaded quietly, which seemed to work quite well.

I unloaded her at Croft and she had not sweated up at all. While tacking up and putting her boots on, Grace can sometimes figgit as she knows something is happening, but today she stood still and was relaxed.

Once we got into the school, Grace had a few shies at things but then put her head down and worked. We worked on the full transitions for a while and then Jo started to incorporated half halts into the work, which Grace picked up on quite quickly. Jo thinks she is an intelligent horse, so because of this I have to keep her schooling varied and keep her constantly guessing otherwise she starts pre-empting things you are doing. For example, she was walking around on a long rein, then I picked up the rein and she started trotting. Jo asked me to put her back on a long rein a few times so that she doesn't think shortening the reins means 'go'. Although she did add that it was not a bad thing because she is constantly looking for what you want her to do next!

We had a really good lesson, and Jo said she is a completely different horse than the one she first met. She thinks we are working well together now, and that Grace is a forwards thinking mare that has a lot of potential!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Spencer Clinic

As usual, we were running a little behind schedule!

As we pulled up to the yard, I had to take Grace off the trailer, tack up, boot up and then go into the indoor arena. I am not sure whether she has ever been in an indoor school, but after the first few spooks she behaved really well. She was a bit stressed because she could hear other horses walking around on the yard outside, so did not relax as much as I had hoped she would, but we still got some nice work out of her.

Spencer felt her topline was not 'spongy' enough, and was too much like an ironing board! So he asked me to take her neck a bit deeper and lower to encourage her to stretch through the topline. This worked quite well, and after a few strops she started to swing through her back and really step under.

However, Spencer felt she struggled through the collection because of something in her right hind. He said it could be because she is weaker on her right side, or there could be an old injury just starting to niggle because of her increased workload. So I am going to keep an eye on it, and am aiming to get her saddle rechecked and a physio out by the end of the month.

I also mentioned that I feel Grace fiddles with the bit and loses the constant contact. Spencer said he does not know any young horses that go well in a cavesson nose band, and he rides all of his youngsters in a loose fitting flash. I also asked about bits as the eggbutt she is in at the moment is not my favourite type. He agreed that a loose ring would be better, but a thicker one than that I had been riding in (16mm). So Grace is now the proud owner of a Sprenger Conrad KK Ultra loose ring snaffle in 18mm!

It has only come this morning so I will try it on Monday when I am next riding her. Hopefully, I will feel a difference as the eggbutt seems to encourage her more onto her forehand and I am tentative asking her to come back up because I know how they can pinch the tongue.

Grace has also destroyed her mirror... I have ordered a new one from a different company as I have had a few issues with the previous one I used, and it should be coming in the next few days. Grace misses her 'friend' and keeps looking at the empty gap, but I have promised her it will be coming back soon!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

We have booked our first Preliminary test

Grace and I went for another lesson at Jo Graham’s on Sunday, and had a fantastic lesson. As soon as we entered the arena she knew she had come to work. She was responsive, enthusiastic and looking for the contact immediately.

Jo said we looked like a real partnership rather than fighting each other, and she thought she was a very athletic young lady! However, she noticed that my position had suffered a little through concentrating so much on Grace. So my legs were put back, my chin lifted, and it was a much better picture.

We did quite a few straight sides off the track and loops in from the track to get her moving away from the leg and learning to go in a straight line on her own without me having to hold her on a line.
A gentleman who watched our previous lesson came up to me at the end and said it looked like a completely different rider and horse this week, and said I should be proud of all the work I had put into her.

It is our Spencer clinic tomorrow afternoon… the nerves are starting to jingle a little bit now!