I've been meaning to update this since last week, but time just kept getting away from me!
I'll start by saying I have an idea as to why Kika was so cranky before the last post, it had been an odd/rough week for her/us. She had been shod the week before and caught herself a couple of times with the new shoes, and as such wasn't ridden as much as she normally would have been, add to that the fact that she then proceeded to twist one of her new hind shoes, so I didn't want to ride her as it was very twisted and I was worried about the damage it might do to her foot if i'd ridden her, we all know how uncomfortable our own shoes are if not on correctly... I didn't think adding my weight to hers would do her foot any good, although thankfully she was not lame with it!
She twisted it on a friday, so spent saturday and sunday in the walker so as to get some movement. In an attempt to stop her getting cheesed off at the walker and continue to go in willingly I had decided to leave her out in the paddock for monday evening, under my supervision - In the hopes she wouldn't run around like a mad woman and do herself some damage! Pffft, she just had to prove me wrong and the fact that my presence does little to keep her from going loopy if the mood takes her! I usually don't mind her doing a little running as it works out the kinks and allows her to stretch her legs in a natural way, but when she started acting the real Doo-Lally and pulled the shoe I had to bring her in!
So between getting a new shoe put on (try as i may, do you think I could find the shoe she pulled in the field! No!), catching herself in the same spot again (yes - I am changing farriers after this) so she missed monday, tuesday without riding again. I rode her briefly on wednesday evening to make sure all was alright ahead of our lesson that thursday, which went well. She was ridden again on friday, left out on saturday and then we had all the fuss on sunday - which i think came to a head due to the rise in temperatures, her winter coat not agreeing with the heat and the lack of excercise she had had in those two weeks.
Since then, the temperatures are after coming back down (well since sunday evening/monday they have) and she is back in normal excercise with me again. Her attitude has returned to normal, so that is why i think the above reasons contributed to/but do not condone her awful behaviour that sunday afternoon and evening!
But on to happier things, the lessons last week etc! :)
Tuesday evening we had our flat lesson, which i felt went well and the teacher said she was slowly starting to come around. We both agreed once more that, she is going to take a lot of time to get to where we want as she has been so used (my fault) to not working 'correctly' for three years, that it is going to take time for her to understand what we want from her, for me to learn how to ask it of her and for the muscles to develop in such a way that she can correctly support and balance herself. So all in all it was positive comments and encouragement all around, :) I rode in spurs for the first time in a long time. I only used them once or twice before, but stopped as i felt i moved my legs too much and rubbed her slightly the previous time, after discussing my fears with the intsructor I agreed to try her in them again and she rightly pointed out that this prior knowledge could only help me to hold my legs quieter through the fear of rubbing her! Win-win all around if i got the reaction we desired without leg pumping and and if ultimately I held my legs quieter and used my other aids more effectively, such as seat hands and voice. Kika really was much better! Bending better when asked, and increase and decreasing speed in her gaits. I felt it went really well, and honestly did notice a difference in the pair of us. Although I will still only ride in spurs in flat lessons, I still don't trust myself alone with them yet!
Wednesday evening I had my first jumping lesson, since moving out here. We spent a good 5-10mins, walk, trotting and cantering circles with the teacher asking me to get her to flex her neck to the inside. He pointed out that she is much better going on the left rein then on the right and that we would have to work on this to get her softer on the right hand side. (Which i have been trying to do since then, hopefully there'll be a bit of improvement this evening). Then we got to the jumping, we're going right back to basics small cross polls and staight bars. I have to do less on approach and let the fences come to me, the horse will have no problem jumping them. I have to leave her find her way and guide her as calmly and quietly as possible to the fence, she will do the jumping! He has said that I will need to be patient and willing to work at it and we will get there...
I guess my 'have at it' attitude needs some re-examining, ;-)
I felt good at the end of the lesson, when i settled and stopped pushing so much, she settled and stopped pulling like a train into the fences ... lesson learned on my side.
Thursday, my flat lesson instructor said she would ride Kika to see what was going on under the hood, if you will. She wanted to get a feel for her, see what she was like under saddle so that she could get a better idea of what was going on so that she can be in a better position to teach me from the ground. I missed her on friday and over the weekend so only found out on monday how they got on. She reiterated what i had been thinking about needing to get her saddle checked (getting a saddle fitter's number this evening) and that she is very stiff on the right side - which the jumping guy had told me last week, so consistency is good. The fact that the same issues are being highlithed means all will be focussing on resolving the same things and not working against one another, :)
I rode her friday eveing and she was really good, the previous day under the flat instructor worked wonders for her. She was holding herself much better, whereas before i could only manage to get her working correctly after a while, she started working correctly on friday and was a lot more felxible. Highlighting (if i needed more highlighting, lol) my need for lessons as the things i now hope to achieve on horseback are just that little bit beyond me for now that i need to learn along with my horse. But it really does help to have someone better than me there to help out on the ground and in the saddle when needs be.
Saturday was a rest day, after being ridden everyday since monday (since moving i had set up a mini schedule for myself in that she would be ridden for three days, given a day off, ridden for three days and given a day off - meaning walker and/or field weather and space permitting). Although now that i think too much "rest" (due to twisted and/or lack of shoes) may have contributed to her cranky behaviour sunday week; I may revisit this schedule. Well that and the fact that now with two lessons a week (usually wednesday and thursday although the flat one can rotate), I'm going to have to do more riding just the two of us to practice what we learn in the lessons and still fit in a trail ride/forest hack on either saturday or sunday every week. I'm not giving up our change of scenery (plus i can still work on flexing and collecting while hacking in the woods - so homework is still being practised, ;-) ). When all of this is taken into consideration I may have to re-think my work three days rest a day plan... Although she will be getting at least one day off a week and her hack in the woods (which has to be a saturday or sunday due to darker evenings from here till spring)
Last piece of news update (I know this is after getting long, I'm sorry! But as you are reading this you already know i talk a lot, :-p)).
Sunday afternoon i took myself and Kika off for a hack in the woods as the weather was still very favourably warm in the mid twenties range (23ºC). We had a bit of a disagreement as to which way we were going to enter the forest, but after a yell and growl from me we reached an agreement which kept her four feet on the ground, ;-) After that all went well, we did a grand auld tour along the new tracks we discovered the weekend before and did a nice big loop without crossing our tracks once!
When i got back to the barn, I had hoped to put her out in a paddock till the masseuse would arrive at 5.30 (this was 3.30 when we got back from our hack). But as none were free i settled on giving her a thorough grooming and pulled her mane, ;-) She wasn't best impressed with that last part, but as she was standing outside with the sun on her back she got over it fairly lively! I also tidied up her stable while she sunned herself and we had a visit from a family friend of my parents who stopped by on her way back to Brussels.
When the masseuse arrived she asked what the problem was, I had spoken to her on monday to ask if she might have a look at her, explaining the cranky issues and that i thought the saddle might be causing an issue due to her shape possibly changing with the extra and more concentrated work she is now getting. So she had a look (feel) and highlighted two issue areas, she said the left side of her neck was tense and that her back was also a bit sensitive. She also agreed with me about getting the saddle checked and possibly re-flocked. So she proceeded to give Kika a massage which she enjoyed despite not wanting to relax completly, there wasn't that much going on around her, but just enough to pique her interest. The masseuse was happy to report that besides those two problem areas everything else seemed in order and that rather than giving her two days off like i'd thought she would be prescribed, I was told that under no circumstances was she to be left in the stable the following day. She was to be ridden for ten minutes in walk to loosen everything back up correctly and then worked as normal!
Monday she worked really well, so well in fact that friends from the yard who were about at the time i was riding mentioned how well she was going! I was very happy with her again, she was bending correctly and after warming up on her good side, she was willing to flex to the right and left in walk and trot. We are still working on canter and getting her to flex more regularly. It is all a learning curve and will require lots of practice from both of us!
Well that's me all caught up to today! We have our second jumping lesson this evening followed by a flat lesson tomorrow evening. Hopefully I'll get the next update done quicker and without leaving so much for me to report!
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