Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Mane Event! And the Legendary George Morris!

I had a great weekend!  It started off by watching the Rolex cross country live, I hooked up the laptop to the projector and watched it in extra awesome size!
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I had an eventing friend, Erica (, visiting from out of town so we took a drive and I showed her around the area.  We stopped by my barn, I showed her around, and then we stopped by the Victory Tack Store. Made a pit stop out at Alhambra Stables to show her the cross country course, and walked all around and saw some of the stuff they are working on.  I'm trying to convince her to move down here because it's awesome, and the horse heart of Alberta, I think it's working;)

This morning Erica and I got up early and headed over the Mane Event! Got some awesome seats to watch George Morris, who was absolutely AMAZING!!! Holy cow, now I'm really regretting that I didn't make a point to go watch all 3 days. He was super tough on everyone, and extremely blunt and to the point, but I didn't find him rude or offensive at all actually.  He tells it like it is and doesn't sugar coat things, which I absolutely loved.  George was very quick to find each rider's weak point, and gave them a lot of good feedback to improve and build on. All his talking and explanations were so well worded and concise, it's very obvious why he is THE MAN and has coached so many riders to the high levels. I wish I would have taken a notepad and paper too, so many awesome things to take away and apply to my own riding! 

He did some really excellent exercises too, and since my coach was riding with him, I'm sure these exercises will be popping up in our lessons coming up, so I am super excited for that! One exercise he did with the one group was a short course in sort of a figure eight that you could keep just riding through, a big wall, a one stride combinations, then the next part was 2 fences in a 5 stride line, he had them go around the first one, do the far jump, then you'd roll back toward the rail, jump the next, rollback toward the rail, etc. And as the riders were doing this he'd call out how he wanted them to ride the fence, comfortable distance, deep distance, etc, and they he had them open it up a little and gallop around and do the same thing. He had the riders really focus on bending around the corners, lots of inside leg to outside rein, looking around the corners and using a opening inside rein to guide the horse around on the rollbacks. He also had them relaxing 5 strides out from the fence, staying up off the horse's back and using a nice following hand instead of a big throw away release. Here is a quick diagram to better illustrate:

Such a good exercise! All the riders showed a LOT of improvement at the end of the sessions. Their rounds all got smoother and the riders quieter on the horses, it was incredibly cool to watch. The man definitely gets results!! If you ever have a chance to see him, I would definitely recommend it!

I got some awesome shopping done this weekend as well!!  The trade fair at the Mane Event always has tons of booths and lots of great deals!  I FINALLY FOUND TALL BOOTS!!!!! I have been looking for tall boots that actually FIT for a long time now, and I was absolutely shocked to find a pair of last year's Ariat Heritage's that actually zipped up!! I have large calves and they are so difficult to fit properly.  They were on sale, 30% off, I am still so excited!! I have not been able to find boots that fit me right out of the box, every other pair I've tried on in the past couple years I would have had to get altered, so I an incredibly happy! I'm wearing them right now, around the house to break them in. Picked up an orange sparkly jumping crop and to my sparkly dressage whip:)  Got a couple cheap dressage pads, and an awesome wider girth with double elastic for 25% off!! I'm pretty happy, I got most of the stuff I was looking for at great prices, now all I need to get is a dressage bridle and I'm set!!  

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Couple of dressage pads and the girth!
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Sparkly whips and an orange hoof pick, lol.  photo 96D20679-21B6-486F-9BD4-2B24A84E8F8F-21449-0000229F464506BA.jpg  photo E672569E-DAF8-48E4-BE59-593C604E591E-21449-0000229F534957F1-1.jpg 

George Morris!!!!! Just some quick pics I snapped with my phone.  photo 7EFA1380-B0F3-455C-9FA5-AD52CBB19746-21449-00002298260AB39B.jpg 
George riding one of the clinic rider's horses. photo 07E3F9A3-3129-47CA-B58D-5896F95A4BAC-21449-000022983AEBEE4C.jpg 
My coach and her young stallion waiting their turn.  photo 51EB2C71-1442-4D93-B016-266E87E45AD8-21449-0000229847AA914C.jpg

All in all, a great weekend:)

Friday, 26 April 2013

It's Finally Spring!?!

As everyone in Alberta knows,  Mother Nature is always confused, but the weather has finally turned nice, and we have our fingers crossed that spring is finally here!!  We celebrated by having our first jump lesson outside yesterday:)

Sunny was pretty good for her first time jumping outside this year, but I still see a million and one things that need to be fixed before eventing season starts!!  I'm always my biggest critic!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Linda Delvallegarcia Heywood Clinic Review

So the clinic last weekend went really well for the most part. I had warned Linda on day 1 that our coach was gone to California and none of us had jumped in about a month. So we started out trotting a vertical and then halting afterwards. Concentrating on waiting with our upper bodies and allowing the horses to jump up to us. Moved on to some little courses concentrating on proper turns and bending, with halts thrown in here and there to make sure our horses were paying attention to us. Concentrated on switching the outside rein coming out of the turn and holding the new outside rein coming into the jump, which sounds weird as hell but was INCREDIBLY helpful and a good tool, when you switch the rein you instantly straighten your horse and get a straighter approached, instead of holding onto the old outside rein on the approach which causes the horse to drift and bulge their shoulder. Sunny was pretty good for not jumping in forever, she started out a bit bouncy and erratic but settled down nicely partway through and was jumping EXCELLENT. Linda's husband was commenting on how nicely Sunny was jumping, just knees up perfect every single time. Linda got on her at the end of the first session, Sunny was pretty good for her actually, and that's when Linda asked if I had ever tried a standing martingale on her. I hadn't, just always used the running, but I was open to trying something else so I borrowed one for day 2 and 3 of the clinic. Day 2 Sunny came out and from the beginning was PISSED about the standing martingale. She'd put her head up and hit it, then keep flinging her head and hitting it, and totally bouncing on her hind end in the process, which was hilarious but incredibly difficult to manage, much less sit (see 1:15 in the video). Just picking up a trot to the one fence was quite a production, as you'll see in the video as well. Sunny just wanted to brace against the standing and hop around on her hind end. The whole session was frustrating for me, but after seeing the videos I felt a bit better about it. Sunny still manages to get out of her way and jump perfectly fine even while screwing the hell around, and it was good for me to just practice sitting there and waiting quietly even though Sunny was having quite the crazy party underneath me (see 4:55 when she just loses her marbles around the corner). That's one of Sunny's "things". She'll get so wound up trying to fight me (or the standing martingale in this case) she'll totally lose focus and forget about what we're doing-> Jumping! So we've had some stupid stops here and there over the years due to this. So that day was interesting:P Day 3 was awesome!! Sunny came out with a totally different attitude after having a night to think about the standing martingale. It was adjusted a tad looser as well, which may have made a difference. Sunny was really lovely on the flat as we warmed up, and when we cantered just the vertical to start I could feel she WANTED to bolt and go really forward to the jump, but I had just a light feel on the reins and kept my body back, and she totally stayed with me. THAT'S what I need!! She naturally carries her head high while jumping, but she wasn't fighting anything that day, I didn't feel like I needed a martingale *at all*. I was pretty happy with that alone! We ended up doing some super fun crazy tight turns, Linda made an offhand comment because we'd been talking about George Morris at lunch, and she was like "Oh this one time at a GM clinic he had us do a crazy turn like from this jump here to this one here..." and she indicated 2 jumps which were like this-> _ / and continued "But we couldn't do it in a straight line, we had to come in on a curve and bend them both." And me with my big mouth is all like "Oh, I can do that!" And Linda's like "Really? First time and everything?" And I was like "Shit yes I can!" And then I was like "Damn, me and my big mouth BETTER do this first time around," lol. So that's 1:30 in the video, Sunny is awesome and we NAILED them first time! Sunny is so great at the hard stuff, I don't even really have to steer her, through those turns I just turned my body and opened my one rein, and Sunny's like a sports car, she turns on a dime! So that was super fun, of course, since I'm an eventer. Then we ended the session by doing some bending lines and tighter turns in little courses. Here's a few pics from on day 3.  photo aDSC_8483.jpg  photo aDSC_8368.jpg  photo 5C7E34B0-7A7F-4B90-B22D-46FF261964D0-11440-000011AE3FA068E6.jpg  photo AE08E33D-CCC9-4962-9073-B97AD639AE13-11440-000011AE5513DEFA.jpg All and all it was another great clinic with Linda!! I can't wait till she come back again. Just getting that different and a new perspective on things, so many riders were having those LIGHTBULB moments, it was so great to see:)

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Someone Else Rode Sunny!

So day 3 of the Linda Delvallegarcia Heywood clinic was AWESOME!! I will make a complete post about the whole clinic once I get the rest of the photos and videos sorted. Sunny was great though, she had time to think about the standing martingale, and was much more calm and relaxed on Sunday, and we got some good stuff accomplished. Here's the video of Linda riding her. I was kind of impressed Sunny didn't *totally* freak or try to buck her off, but Linda is a super tactful rider, and I saw her ride a few other horses at her last clinic, and she definitely can handle the shit, so I wasn't too worried. I did warn her that no one else had ever ridden her, and that she would rear and buck if provoked.

After she got off Linda gave me MAJOR credit for how I ride Sunny, she said you have to be WAY softer and more subtle than you'd think! And that you can't fight with her or force her or she'd starting balling up and you can tell she'd blow, which is exactly right. Said that I have done a great job with her, she was fairly responsive to the leg and hand, but needed more submission to really accept the bit like she should. Super difficult horse to ride, and she commended me for sticking with it, because even though Sunny "is the devil" (in her words), she is INSANELY talented and can jump her way out of anything. And everyone was surprised when Linda commented how much leg she had to use on Sunny, that's one thing I have made sure of from day 1, I would be SCREWED if I couldn't put my leg on that damn horse, lol. And apparently I talk so much when I ride that Sunny instantly drops her head when you say "Good girl" and I've made her super responsive to my voice without realizing it. So Linda said to just keep doing what I'm doing, working on submission and bending and lots of lateral work, and everything will come eventually.

So yeah, pretty darn cool to finally see someone else up on Sunny:)