August 5, 2011

Summertime Blues

It certainly has been a hot and humid summer here in Pittsburgh. Despite the warm climate I have maintained a pretty normal riding schedule with both Hootie and Audi. In between teaching some students of mine on Hootie, I get to have fun practicing the 'tricks' on him. He can do a great flying lead change and when we are both supple, straight and focused, we can crank out some good 4's, 3's and 2's. Not too shabby for a 20 year old Thoroughbred, eh?

I had an interesting ride on Audi last Friday by coming off of him at the beginning of the ride. It was the third time since I broke him that I've come off of him. It was pretty much my fault but I will blame him for being a bit of a dork about it. I spooked him by moving my right leg forward to adjust my boot- I normally ride in half chaps but put on my tall boots since I was going to ride in a horse show Sunday. Lets just say he took off, I wasn't sitting up, and I decided to jump ship after realizing the rodeo wasn't going to end as soon as I had hoped. I have a very colorful bruise on my right hip to show for it too.

Despite coming off of Audi, I was able to get to some pretty nice work by the end of the session on Friday. I've been riding the square with him at the trot to help improve his connection and push. With this exercise I can really load his hind leg through a strong half-halt going into the corner, give in the corner, and ride forward out of corner, then repeat in the next corner. I have a good feel for this tracking right and am still working out the coordination tracking left. Since my lessons with Scott Hassler in July I've been able to make some good progress with the canter too. We are getting the balance in the canter from the walk-canter-walk sequence, and now I'm working on getting the power. His honesty and rideability in the canter has improved a lot. It's a work in progress but I'm really happy to see that I have new problems to work through instead of dwelling on the old problems.

Despite feeling sore and bruised I did take Audi to a show on Sunday, July 31st, at Grand Haven Stable in Jefferson, OH- I may be a DQ but I'm a tough DQ! It was a two-day show but I decided to only show one day. I hauled up that morning and rode First Level Test 2 and First Level Test 1. Sarah Geikie was my judge for both tests. I've ridden for her before and feel that she is a very fair judge who gives constructive feedback too. My goal for this show was to be able to really put my leg on Audi and ride him- I did and he responded positively. There are certainly things that I wish I had ridden better, but overall I loved how relaxed and honest he was. We won both classes, earning a solid 70% for First Level Test 2 Open and a 72.069% for First Level Test 1 Open. We were also the First Level Open High Point Champion for the entire weekend. I earned five "8's" for Rider Scores which was awesome and Sarah Geikie was really enthusiastic about Audi's potential and correct training thus far. Pretty cool!!

My friend Gina traveled with me and was a great helper, making the long, hot day very enjoyable. Here are the video's she took of my rides:

First Level Test 2

First Level Test 1

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