One more day until it is holidays!! Yay! Then I have 2 weeks of horsey-ness. We might (very iffy at the moment) go in for our first jumping comp soon but I don't know yet. It is in April sometime though so we have a tiny bit of time to prepare. I will see how we go.
I got out and lunged him for a bit yesterday. Fitness = downhill. Activity = downhill as well. My fault I suppose. Oh well! It was pretty hot though so I can use that as a lame excuse for him sweating and being tired
I think that is it. Obviously, nothing much has happened. As always, have a good day :)
There will be no competing for us. It is too far away in distance for him and too soon. There are however some dressage days and combined training days coming up, so we should manage to get to them.
I took Pumpkin down to pony club on Saturday so I could get him jumping some courses and use the arena. He did very well! Jumping wasn't an issue at all, which is excellent. As we went on through the ride his walk/trot transitions were getting worse but his trot/canter transitions were sharpening up and getting nice and snappy which is good. I got him to use his back end a bit more as well, keeping active and pushing forward. I did want him to play, well, at least walk through, a water puddle down in the paddock but he didn't want anything to do with it -_- One sniff of the mud and there was no way he was going to enter the water puddle of doom 0.0
I still need to keep an eye out for my lower legs and shoulders, though overall they didn't feel to bad. I didn't have anyone there so I have no photos or comments to go off, but I was focusing on those areas.
I think that is it. In other news, one duck has a sore foot, so he can't walk. I spent 4 hours cleaning out and partially rebuilding the chook pen with dad today, so I have been fairly productive on that front. The ducks and hens now have 5 more nesting boxes.
Oh! I also found my dressage whip! Yay! I have been looking for it for AGES but it turns out it was in the paddock. How it escaped death from the lawn mower, I have no idea. Anyyywayyy, that is all.
I rode him two days ago, and he did quite well. His walk/trot transitions still need a lot of work. His canter transitions are great - so happy. We used to have a problem with the tot/canter transitions, and be find with the walk/trot, but now we have done a 180.
I took him out to the park and he was keen as a bean to be out. He started to ignore the brakes a bit but there was nothing serious to deal with. We did a bit of hill work, cantering/trotting up then walking down. He still has confidence issues with going down hill, but he was better than he usually is. We went straight down this time, no zig-zagging all over the place. Yay for progress!
Came back home, did more transitions and some tighter canter circles which got him sitting back on his bum a bit more for a brief amount of time to get this muscle building and strengthening.
I am thinking about alternating lunging and riding days, so I can get him to relax and lift his back again and more. He gets tense in the back when I am in the saddle and doesn't relax and lift as quickly, so it could be a strength issue or a me/saddle issue. But since I don't have a trainer at the moment, I have no answer. Food for thought anyway. I shall see how it goes.
I got a few photos of the ducks and the pony so I shall upload those. The duck with sore foot is in some serious 'stall rest' for the moment with a buddy while the others are out in the dam. He was walking a bit more this morning but couldn't handle the weight.
Pumpkin sends his good mornings.
And now demands you feed him.
Observing that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence
For the last week of holidays it was raining so no riding could happen. I wanted to head up and use my old trainers arena for the only good day we had, but it was too wet :/
So I am now back at school. And school is hectic. I did none of my 5 assignments over the holidays, but I am easily keeping up with things which is excellent. I am now getting up before sun rise for school so I have sun rise pictures! I have also been staying back at school in the afternoons for 2 extra hours so I can get heaps of work done instead of wasting time on the bus (1 hour bus trip each way... boooring) Which, as a result of Autumn, means that by the time I get home it's sunset and nearly dark.
But I managed to lunge him this afternoon when I got home. Yay! He was very active and energized, probably because he has been in the back paddock for a week. He gets really destructive and bored in that paddock. He has ruined part of the chook pen run, and put another large rip in his blanket. And he also ate dad's lemon grass. Busy busy pony.
Anyway, he did well lunging. Nice and forward, he started to stretch down a little down a little bit. He was nice and responsive to my cues. When he walked without my permission and I got up him with my body language, he would take off and let me know (with his feet in the air) that he did not appreciate that kind of tone from me. We got past that though, and we finished with him calmly but actively going from trot to canter.
Picture time now!
The view of the paddock from the house in the morning:
The sunrise above it:
Pumpkin on that morning. It was still a little dark so unfortunately they are bad in quality.
Chooks, ducks and horse waiting to be fed and let out for the morning:
Oh! Tomorrow night is my senior formal (Prom, as it is known in America). So I have to get dressed up and waste a good day of riding :P I am sure it will be a hoot though. The after party is going until 3:30 am so I will be knackered on Sunday.
We haven't been doing much because school has been getting in the way. By the time I get home now it is dark, so I can't ride which is unfortunate.
Pumpkin has been getting pretty bored with nothing to do, so I will probably lunge him tomorrow to keep him active and thinking.
I have ridden him once or twice in the past few weeks and nothing spectacular happened. Transitions as usual need work. I did take him up to the arena for one ride. He has very obviously lost muscle (no surprise) since he was rushing/ falling in on the circles and unbalanced in general.
We also have a fish pond now! We had a spare bath tub in the paddock that wasn't being used so we gave it a job. Mum and I have been re-doing the gardening around the back of the house, so I put it in. We got 6 fish last weekend and they are settling in well. The man at the pet store and the internet sources are telling me that they could grow to be around 30-40 cm long in 1.5 yrs.. which is scary. I bought a 'foot long sub' yesterday, and there is no way a gold fish could get that big... :S
We have 2 plain comets (the orange ones) and one comet with white patches under it's body. We also bought 3 white and orange ones with black markings.
Well all of my exams are finally over. Only 3 weeks left now until the holidays!
Well I ended up lunging Pumpkin. Then I rode him and Will (the horse at pony club) the other week. 2 horses in one week - that has to be a new record for me in the last 6 months. Both went pretty well.
The difference in attitude and work ethic is amazing though. Will gets straight down to work, nice and forward, swinging in the back ect. He was pretty spooky however - It was probably due to a lot of energy, but he would react to people walking on the road, a car running over a plastic bottles and those sorts of things. Whereas I have never had to worry about that with Pumpkin. Pumpkin misbehaves because he is being stupid, not because something freaks him out. He is pretty bomb proof and so I have never had to really worry about him freaking out. Of course he is lazy, slow, behind the aids, no back movement. But there it is, the thing I love a lot about him: his bold confidence and easy adjustment.
It was quite interesting to think about.
Anyway, enough of my reverie. Not much else has been happening. One fish passed away - I knew it was coming, s/he wasn't adjusting very well to the change of environment so wasn't eating, hiding all the time, and then passed away :( Another fish got taken the other night as well, so we are down to 4. The rest are doing well, though they are still pretty skittish after the second fish got taken.
The tree man came and cut up the massive tree in the back paddock. I don't know if I actually ever uploaded photos for those trees that fell down. Maybe that will actually happen one day.
Oh! I also HAD to clean Pumpkin up. His feathers were gross, and he had twigs and leaves all through his tail. I trimmed his feathers (and got two bad blisters as a result - ow) and cleaned, trimmed and washed his tail. It is now no longer touching the ground and is silky smooth.
I was also playing around with exposure the other rainy day, so I have a few photos. Poor in quality, but still! Everyone loves photos.
We are back! I can't believe it has been so long since I last updated.
I suppose the reason for so few updates is because nothing really happened horse-wise. School took up HEAPS of time as final years do and I often got home too late to ride. Which sucks, but now that I have graduated we are back on track. I have been working on a program to be getting us both back into shape which is going really well, I just need to keep being consistent. Lots of walk and trot to get him building muscle and fitness, and the we will move on and start incorporating more canter work in to the routine. There is a small local jumping show coming up at the end of March so I will be training with that in mind.
A recent-ish photo:
Talking of graduation, my home-room gave the seniors fighting fish! So here is Sir. Archibald:
The other pets are doing well. I lost three ducks in August last year to a fox, and was left healing two which were severely injured from said fox. I am talking necks on the floor, manual feeding kind of way. They improved in leaps and bounds however and were fit and healthy in just a few weeks. Since we were then left with three males and two females we purchased to more females from a friend to balance the numbers. After that one of the original females fell sick and had to be put down. Following that, one of our males that got attacked by the fox tore open his chest somehow and had to get stitches. Perhaps stitches were a bit extensive for poultry, but they happened and that is all taken care of. So it hasn't been a good year for the ducks to say the least! The new group dynamics with the new girls is working really well thank goodness.
The new girls with a drake:
I recently came back from a visit to New Zealand, which was LOVELY and cool. It was so nice to escape this weather we have been having (It was 40 degrees Celsius here while we were away) and stay in a beach house over looking the water. Photos:
Riding has been going pretty well. I have lost my whip so I am having to rely more on my legs which is really, really, really good. After lunging Pumpkin for the past few weeks, he has really started to gather the concept of responding to and going forward actively from my leg. From what I can feel, he is starting to use his hind end for transitions more. We still have a long way to go to get that concept cemented in his head but it will also be a matter of building muscle and fitness so we can maintain it through the ride. Today his trot to canter transitions were so much nicer and easier to ask for. He is not very strong or confident on his right canter lead yet, but that will come with time and strength.
I have set up a very small grid for us to ride through/over so that I can keep some kind of interest going in our ride. After quite a while of internet exploring, I finally found a guide to the size of stride lengths for a pony and for the distances between elements in a grid. He has very easily taken to the grid and is loving the mental stimulation about thinking where his feet go.
Since it was stinking hot after our ride, I decided to do a little water training. I set up the sprinkler and had him walk around it, through it, directly over it, back up to it and stand still over it. He wasn't very happy but he got used to it and started complying more.
I almost forgot! I have been looking around for trainers recently and I have found someone up the road who looks promising. I have yet to email her and see if we can arrange something. If I can get a time slot with her it will be so good for my progress as a rider, and therefore Pumpkins development and comfort when riding. She teaches eventing so I will be getting the education in the discipline I want. I am very excited so I really hope this works out.
My lovely sister came out and got some videos of me riding on Tuesday, bless her buttons.
So now I have been able to take a look at how we are going, which has been really good. He is going forward quite actively and starting to get some swing through his back in the trot (yay!). He is still pretty stiff and hollow in the canter sticking his neck in the air a bit. However I got some really nice and snappy trot to canter transitions which is a step in the right direction.
My position is terrible though. Really really bad. My legs seem to be getting stiller and less active, but I need to work on loosening my shoulders and tucking my pelvis under my body while sitting more upright. Which means I really need to start working out and strengthening muscles. Core work here I come.
I haven't heard back from the horse riding instructor yet, so I might give her a call at some stage and see if I can reach her. I have also put my nose out and applied for a groom position for a show jumping barn. It would involve travelling around Australia a bit with them doing grooming duties. Free accommodation and food included, with a small wage.
I am not yet certain if I would take the job or stay here to work and earn more money. The grooming job would be a good experience for getting contacts in the equine area and I will be able to get some perspective about how serious I am in working at a horse related job, which will dictate if I end up going to uni for equine studies or not. On the other hand, I stay here, work at an office job doing admin, earn more money, and potentially go to uni even if I am not 100% sure if it would be worth it. Decisions decisions. I will keep you updated with how things work out.
This post is actually in March, apparently the last time I updated my internal calender was one month ahead!
I have mainly been doing a bit of lunging with Pumpkin lately, but when I rode I was constantly trying to remind myself to correct my position. Ultimately I don't want to set bad muscle memory before we get lessons and then spend hours trying to fix it while we could be learning something else. I know the basics and I don't want be restricting my riding progress by not doing the simple things now.
He took a while to warm up, and had a bit of a miff at the start were he wanted to go and relax at the fence, but we got through that relatively gracefully. He was nice and active, and his fitness levels are definitely improving. The good news is that while I was focusing on how I was sitting, I could actually feel a difference in how Pumpkin was travelling. It was very slight, but it was there. He seemed to relax a bit more and we got a bit of flexion through his poll during the trot for short amounts of time. So we have had a small success!
My lower back was really tense and stiff after the ride so I am going to start focusing on warming up my back before I even get on, and stretching after I get off. Hopefully that will make a difference to the tension that has been going on. I am hoping that as his back loosens up, so will mine.
There is still no word from the horse riding instructor unfortunately! However to pass the time Pumpkin has been a busy social light. Lately I have been taking him for walks and rides around a local dam to get him out and about, and the kids have taken to spotting us when we come around. On Friday afternoons the neighbours catch up for get together so naturally Pumpkin drew them over have a look. The kids adore him, and one or two got to sit on his back (with a helmet and parental supervision of course). We have been past two or three times now, so we are almost regulars. He gets impatient with having to stand around while I socialise, but it is a good training opportunity! So many people stop to say how gorgeous he is, so he is a very good conversation starter.
Since I have no new photos, here is an old one. The hat was provided by a friend as a running joke who wanted to see the horse in a sombrero, with a picture of a pumpkin added just for the horse Pumpkin. (I don't know why they turned to the side, sorry about that!)