"Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and once it has done so, he/she will have to accept that his life will be radically changed." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Aileen's woods

Lauren and I took Aileen to Hitchcock woods on Wednesday.  It was so lovely.  We went after watching the Sandy Hills derby.  

 Aiken morning sky.

 The crew on the golf cart.  Lauren and I missed an adventure!
 Aileen with Archie and Lauren with Napoleon at Memorial Gate.
 Sporting the maroon in style with the light saber.
  Moseying along.


On Tuesday, in avoidance of the hunting in Hitchcock Woods, Lauren and I took dressage lessons with Sally.  It was the first day we noticed the warm weather and our lack of short sleeve layers.  Lauren had a great lesson.  Sally gave her direction on strengthening Poleon so he can do the lengthened trot. 
 Lauren and Napoleon

Tyler and I are not that far along.  Sally had me focus on keeping Tyler supple since he is older and naturally stiff.  Sally said his trot was better.  Sarah and I have spent a lot of time working on it.  Sally helped me through 3 loop serpentine exercises in order to improve my aids and position.  

Sally asked to see my canter.  Tyler does not canter well.  It is his weakest gait.  He finds it difficult and also doesn't have the work ethic to push through.  After two circles of Sally watching me struggle, she asked to ride Tyler.  Sally was upfront that she might not be able to correct Tyler's canter today.  At first, Tyler protested because the work was hard.  Shortly after Sally's persistent demands, Tyler decided he was not going to participate.  He started buck a little, dance around, and ignore Sally completely. 

 Sally and Tyler.

In the end, to quote Sally, "Tyler 1. Sally 0."  Tyler's canter is an issue.  To fix it would take a solid week of dedicated time with Sally.  She couldn't fix it in one day without using up every ounce of energy Tyler would have during the week.  We chatted about the situation.  Tyler is nearing the end of his career and fixing the canter is a major endeavor.  He is a good horse except for the two 20m circles in our dressage tests.  With improved walk and trot scores, we can make up for his canter.  I will keep working on his canter, but I am not willing to make it a battle.  One of my favorite comments from Sally was that she couldn't get the trot any better than I had it, only she could hold it longer than I could. 

Before our lessons on Tuesday, Aileen, Hilary, Lauren, and I went to the tack shop and downtown for a bit.  Aileen and I spent money!  I actually bought myself a gorgeous new bag.  It's a local product and I have had my eye out for one.  I picked up a few things for Mom and Dad, too.  Tuesday night was our Ladies' night out.  The most exciting thing was the stink bug on my neck in the car while on the phone with Rob.  He just muted the five women yelling about the bug.  It was a nice dinner at Up Your Alley.  We gave the new waiter quite a lesson.  The girlies stayed at the hotel and watched Glee.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Run, jump - part 1.

It's Tuesday and I am happy to report all is going well.  

Sunday was a group show jumping lesson for Lauren, Cindy, Aileen, and me.  We had a good time being outside for the first time in months.  We have been contained by walls for too long.  Tyler and Napoleon showed off all the hard work we've been doing.  We even jumped the chevron which was on Lauren's to jump list.  It was so nice on Sunday, I jumped in short sleeves.  Sunday night was baked mac & cheese at the house with the crew.  I like that family dinner atmosphere.

 Why can't we jump like this every time?
Leaving a little early for the chevron, but he got the job done. 

Monday, Valentine's Day, was also our first cross country schooling day.  I can't think of a better way to spend the holiday.  It was 72 with a good breeze, but t-shirts were the correct attire. We went to Sandy Hills which is one of the nicest places in Aiken.  The four of us schooled together again.  Sally had us take it easy to see where we were and how the horses felt.  Tyler was spot on.  He gets annoyed when I get in his way about things.  I should stop thinking so much and just ride.  We did water, an up bank, ditches, and quite a few Novice elements.  I was very pleased that Tyler took me to every fence and was right where we left off in the fall.

 Water! It's not frozen.
 Cross country warm up.
As for today, we were going to ride in Hitchcock Woods this afternoon but there is a drag fox hunt and that's more excitement than I need.  Lauren and I are taking dressage lessons.  This evening, the women old enough to drive are headed to the Willcox Hotel.  Apparently that is the place to be on Tuesday nights in Aiken.  I guess my barn jeans are out of the question.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Aiken 2011 - The drive, Day 1 and part of Day 2

It crossed my mind to not blog or track any of this year's adventures.  I am burnt out at work and using a computer at all right now has no appeal to me.  However, I remembered how much I like going back and reading about my adventures.  

The drive to Aiken was our easiest trip yet.  Lauren and I brought Napoleon and Tyler.  Have I mentioned how much of an improvement my new rig is over the older one?  We had 3 other trailers to travel with and it was nice to have a caravan.  

Napoleon and Tyler have been here before and settled in quickly.  Lauren and I unpacked and set up an efficient operation.  We checked in at the hotel and then met the group for fine dining at the Chinese buffet.  It hit the spot!

Saturday morning was normal chores followed by a trip to pick up hay.  I enjoy hauling hay around town, especially after having two good looking guys load the bales for me. Lauren tried to spend my Fred money at the tack shop, but I resisted!   She's a good saleswoman.  

Aileen/Archie, Lauren/Polean, and Tyler/I walked a few laps around the farm to relax.  We moved out for a few laps and really let them all open up once. 

Lauren and I crashed dinner at the house last night.  

Sunday morning brought morning chores, breakfast, and downtime.  We picked up pizzas and the kiddos had study hall for a bit.  (I was supposed to work, but well, I'm on vacation and I can work later.)

So that catches you up on what I've done so far.  I'm slacking on pictures, but we'll have some after tonight.  Time to see if Tyler is flat out in the sand before his lesson...

Blog catch up.

Oops.  I never finished blogging about my trip home from Wisconsin last summer.  We got home safe, although it took nearly 18 hours door to door.  Since our trip to the midwest, Tyler successfully completed two novice starter trials.  He has steadily improved and is very consistent at jumping Novice level.  His dressage is starting to level out and we are having a bit of fun with Sarah.  

Within the last 2 weeks Tyler is showing signs of jealousy.  On January 29, 2011 Fred unexpectedly came home.  Yes, I own two horses now.  Crazy!  The plan is that Fred will be my Training level horse when I'm ready.

While Fred gets into a program, Tyler will remain my main ride.  Tyler and I are currently in Aiken, SC training with Sally and I'll blog about that as I can.