Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Photoshop Funsies

I'm taking an online photoshop class through our local community college for work.
Today for our assignment, I used one of my photos of Granite. We are learning to colorize photos.
This turned out a little darker in Jpeg form. But it's still a lot of fun and will totally help me at work (I create a lot of publications and it helps when you can edit or create your own graphic art).

Work doesn't feel like work when I get to play with horse photos.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tack Sale, Hunter Pace, and Making Progress

Thought it was about time for an update!

I got to ride Granite 4 days last week, which is enough to make me happy. We had snow last Monday and it was in the mid-60s by mid weeks. So the ring has been slop-City, but we've been able to work pretty well in the dryer portion.

We've been working on our homework from February's lesson. I've been letting G have his head at the canter. We've been concentrating on setting up for transitions. We've been leg yielding. We've been going back and forth over a small cross rail at the trot and canter (me in 1/2 seat) to let G figure out how to get the feel for fences.

It is working :) I've had more consistent collection, more ease in lateral motion and on Wednesday, for a brief moment, it clicked and my horse learned how to jump! Of course, by Thursday, the munchkin forgot. But, you know what they say about young horses... 1 step forward, 2 back. He is trying however, and that's enough for me! The days are getting longer and last week and this week are relatively calm at work (meaning I can leave the office at 5:15 and be to the barn by 5:30). Unfortunately, it's raining and plans to do the same on Wednesday and Friday... just enough to never allow the arena to dry! I shall use the time to go to the gym and do some work on MY fitness!

I had a fabulously horsie weekend :) I spent Saturday at the Equestrian Exchange (Check it out, it's a huge consignment tack sale... amazing). I ended up with:

A used brown leather bridle with flash nose band and webbed reins -$25
very used Figure 8 Nose Band (for the heck of it)- $6
New (retails at $72) Avalon Standing Martingale (don't need it yet, but hopefully will)- $30
Beval Open Front Jump Boots - $12
Loose Ring, French Link 5.25inch bit- $14
Box of Thin Mint Girl Scout  Cookies- $4

He is sporting most of his new gear in the crappy cell phone photo bellow. Everything Fits! Score!
And no, I did not share the cookies :)

Oh and to top it off Eva and I traded girths. I had one (she gave me for my 24th bday) that was too small for G and she had a spare that was too large for her boys, so we swapped and the new one fit G! YAY.


After that lovely shopping trip, Daphne had a vet appointment and I found time to try everything on the horse and then ride him in (most) of it. We don't need the figure 8 or martingale at this juncture in our training. After that, our barn owenr invited us to join her family and some friends to roast marshmellows and hot dogs in the fire pit at her house. TK came out and it was nice to spend some time with everyone.

Sunday morning found me up in the hour of 6am... for the second day in a row. Dianne invited me to (OK, I invited myself) to ride with her and her friend Cheri at the YVH Hunter Pace (check them out-- great group!). I rode one of Dianne's horses (large, 8yo, Spotted Saddle horse mare) and met up with Jen and we all enjoyed a slow ride through acres of gorgeous trail. How lucky am I?! Loved it. We came in 6th (and the group we set out with who came in a bit behind us got 1st). But, ribbons aside, I loved getting to get out of the arena, even if it wasn't with G. 

Sounds like, weather and circumstances permitting, Dianne and her friend Cheri may be willing to come pick Granite up (he is too large for our barn owner's trailer) and take us to a great park about 4 miles from our farm. Hopefully our barn owner can follow us over with her mare. And we can all ride together. This will be G's first trip ANYWHERE to ride. We've done some trails on adjacent properties that we have walked to, be we have never hauled him anywhere to ride. I'm stoked (nervous as well). Cross your fingers that it works out for us. But if not, we have LOTS of work to do and we can always venture to the nearby trails.

Yay for longer days and more time in the saddle. The pony is really coming right along and I sure do enjoy my time with him! 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Perfect Saturday

Oh what a perfect Saturday!
My Daddy came in Friday evening to visit us (yay!). Unfortunately, my mom had something come up and decided not to join him for the weekend. That's OK thought, we'll have a girls weekend next time she's able to come up.
Anyway, Saturday morning Daddy I set out early to grab some Burlington bred Biscuitville before meeting the farrier at the barn at 9am. Dad and my farrier chatted it up.
Good news is Granite didn't need back shoes yet. But the farrier says that because of G's slow hoof growth, he will need all 4s by the time the ground gets hard and the days get longer (more riding).
After G got his new kicks, I dressed him and myself up to head out for a ride. Dad has never seen me ride Granite. He's come to visit when G was just a little tyke, and last year when G had been off with his knee injury, so this was our time to show him what my baby horse could do.
And, because he's awesome, he took lots of photos.
So, without further pause, check out our lovely Saturday ride: (Please excuse the dirty horse and his crazy mane)

Love this stretchy trot, and my boy's sweet face.


Perhaps we don't have a jumper here...

 Time will only tell.

Janey the Donkey = Presh

So we had a relatively nice ride. I was proud of the big guy, we have a LONG way to go, but what I love is that I'm starting to see improvement. Although having tons of photos (and some videos) from the ride, I realize that I have more work to do on myself (to get out of the way of my horse's success) that I realized.

After we left the barn, I took Dad on a tour of my office and then we took Daphne for a walk in our City's biggest park. We drove through the University next to town and then went to get some frozen yogurt. Loved it. We watched the Carolina basketball game and I made dinner before TK, Daddy and I went to a little downtown bar and watched one of my co-worker's band. My Saturday was pretty fabulous.

Today its cold and rainy and threatening to snow. Dad is supposed to stay until Monday morning (he has the day off, lucky!), but we'll see considering the weather.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lesson Recap

So despite some minor setbacks, I was able to have my second lesson with our new trainer, Heather, last Saturday. And Jen was able to come see Granite's (relatively) new digs. It was so windy and very cold, but I'm glad us three gals and Granite were able to grin and bear it and have a productive session.

Granite started off pretty cold and grumpy. Maybe hoping that if he was stiff and rotten enough, we would give up. No dice buddy. He was warmed up and supple after a few exercises. We did some turns on the forehand at a walk and some leg yielding to quarterline and then back to the rail. I experienced some frustration as trying to get Granite to move forward and not drop his shoulder. Heather and Jen both reassured me that there was some good motion in some leg yields and gave me some tips on keeping him from popping that shoulder.

We moved on to some trot work and really emphasizing the inner rein to outer leg connection. It's amazing that just thinking about that connection can help me to make it. Sometimes I'm looking to dramatically change what I do, but my body almost responds when I just think about it... We did lots of bending exercises and I think everyone there could agree that Granite's lateral work had improved since our last session! SCORE! This is why I only take one lesson a month, I need time to make the progress. As lots of fully-employed adult ammies with no lights and an indoor can attest, consistent work and progress are often slow to come by.

We moved on to working on our canter transition. Granite and I have a heck of a time getting our left lead canter so we did lots of bending circles to a leg yield to the rail, slide the outside leg back/ ask exercises. They worked.... but not as well as I would have hoped. Practice I guess.

Next, Heather set up a stack of poles and had be get in half seat and try to get out of Granite's way as we went back and forth over the poles at a trot and canter. Then we moved up to an actual cross rail with a ground pole before and after. The trot was sad. We lacked energy and impulsion, plowed over the jump and stopped. NOT PRETTY. The canter was better... but not by much. Granite and I were tired, so here's to hoping that we have something better to offer next time. I have some photos of this...um, experience, but you'll understand why I have chosen to burn  keep them off the interwebs. I'd like to maintain some shred of dignity for my horse and mostly myself.

We did get ONE shot worth sharing:

Sunday it was wayyy too cold for me to ride, so G got the day off. I visited him Sunday and Monday I visited by because my TMJ decided to totally lock up my jaw, I was on some fun meds and decided not to take a chance on riding. Tuesday, I promised TK that I would save the date for my human valentine:

That was a good choice. Dozen Red Roses to the Office and a fabulous 
home cooked meal with not-so-cheap red wine :)

But last night I finally got to get Granite under tack again. 3 horses had made their way into our grass arena and I didn't want to waste the daylight getting them out. So, we rode around them, which was a good experience for the kid. Focusing was difficult for him and he was really more strong than usual. But we got a decent 30 minute work session in before we ran out of light. I spent some time working on his mane (braiding in a futile attempt to keep it all on the right side) and trimming up his tail. 

It is foretasted to rain today, but so far its just overcast and windy. I'm hoping to get a ride in today and tomorrow and Saturday (after our farrier appointment).

In a final tidbit of news, my parents are coming to visit this weekend. It's their first trip to our "newish" city and to our apartment and to this barn. I hope they tolerate being dragged out on Saturday to watch me ride. They have met Granite a handful of times, but they have never seen me ride him. They've been to visit once since he has been under saddle but he was injured. So, if things go as planned, I'd like for them to see the big guy do work :) And perhaps I can convince someone to take lots of photos to share with you later.

Cheers & Happy Friday-Eve! Boy do I ever need a weekend <3

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pretty (dirty) Boy

 Look how bright is was when I got to the barn AFTER work!
And in one month its going to be brighterrrr! I have spring fever and it's only February!

I rode bareback on Wednesday and concentrated on lots of collecting and lateral work at the walk and trot.
Tonight I tacked up and we did some walk to canters (yes that happened... like 3 times), we cantered over a cross rail and we did some stretchy trot.

I also got the chance to take some "confirmation" shots of the big guy. D kindly pointed out that he is orange and not grey, but we don't have hot water, so G doesn't get a bath until it is really spring time!

What do I see? I see that he needs more of a top line, lots more rear-end and he almost looks long backed in the shot... thoughts? He has gained his weight back though. I'm pretty happy with it right now.

This saddle you see? That's the one my lovely boyfriend got for me for Christmas. Your boyfriend got you an ancient, cheap, old-school saddle you ask? Well, it's my sentimental saddle! I've had this thing since middle school and have sold it TWICE, bought it back once, and then my TK bought it back for me again for Christmas. It doesn't fit me or Granite all that well (as I re-discovered tonight), but one day it'll just be decoration in my house. For now, it's nice to have a back-up/extra saddle. 

Granite was a pretty good boy. He makes the end to any work day so much nicer! Let's hope all goes as planned for the weekend and I get to see Jen and ride with Heather! Fingers Crossed!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Longer Days, More Rides

That's the gist of it! The days are getting longer and when I'm not tied up late at work, I get to ride! The week before last, I logged 5 rides and 5 trips to the gym! Last week I was bogged down at the office but still logged 3 rides and a whopping 1 trip to the gym.

Since our first lesson with Heather last month, we've been trying to work on exercises to increase Granite's hind quarter strength. Heather told me to try to ride him from his butt (channel my lower level dressage days). She also has us trotting, one walk stride, trotting to try to help him not dive into his downward transitions. We've been working laterally into corners when we ride the diagonal to change direction. She also pointed out my weakness in my left hand that is causing weakness throughout my horse's left side (major fail on my part). So, I've been doing extra reps at the gym on my left arm and consciously exaggerating my left hand to keep it UP when I'm riding. I've also been working disproportionately to the left during my rides to help Granite gain the strength that I've screwed him out of.

But, it's been a month since our last lesson and, if you refer to our 2012 goals tab, you'll remember that we are to take at least 1 lesson a month. So, I had one scheduled for last Saturday, but as luck would have it, it rained. Never fear, it was still a horse-centric weekend. Our vet office hosted their annual "Winter Horse Health Seminar." My barn owner and I went and we got to hear two veterinary professors (from V Tech) speak. The first was about diagnosing lameness and regenerative therapy and the second was about tick borne diseases and herpes. Both really interesting topics, the second was pretty scary since many are diseases against which our horses cannot be vaccinated nor shielded. But, it is nice to get my brain working again as it pertains to equines!

My lovely bff came to see my Saturday evening and we had wine and laughs Saturday night then breakfast and visit to the barn on Sunday morning. It was raining again, but she got to visit Granite and we measured the beast, he came in at about 16.25-16.3ish. He was covered in mud, but so sweet.

I worked late tonight (14 hour day) and I work late tomorrow, but mother nature willing, I will get to ride from Wednesday until next weekend. AND, next Saturday is my rescheduled lesson! Best thing, Jen may be able to come watch! So excited!

Another fun tidbit, Granite's very first baby trainer (before he was under tack) messaged me today to ask about the boy. How sweet?! I told her (touch wood) that Granite is coming along nicely, has been staying healthy, and I am really enjoying him. I am so very lucky. I love my job, my boyfriend is always amazing, my new apartment and new city are treating me well, my bff is close by, and the critters are (currently) healthy and happy. So blessed.

Lastly, two of my lovely blog sisters have given my (sadly neglected) blog an award! I feel honored <3
Nicku at The Polka Dot Periodical 
Shelley at Diary of a Hunter Princess
Thank you ladies!

Here goes:
Official Rules of the Liebster Blog Award:
  1. Copy and paste the award on this blog.
  2. Link back to the blogger who gave you the award.
  3. Pick your 5 favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award. 
  4. Hope that the 5 blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to 5 more blogs.
Five of my favorite blogs are as follows:
Karen at Contact
So jealous of how much HER baby warmblood cross rocks
Alanna at Pony Express
Her baby "Pants" is precious!
JJ at The Joy of Horses
Shes got a little more actual baby than horses going on right now, but we love her & her morgans.
Dom at A Collection of Madcap Escapades
Her photography is amazing, her dog is precious, her horse is fearless and her bf is a doll.
Kate at Adventures of Lucy
Watching her green mare progress is fabulous!