Sunday Stills ~ Reflections

Reflections are one of my favorite things to shoot, typically on water. I find both very soothing. In an effort to expand my horizon's, I tried to capture the reflection off the fascinating eye of an equine - and quickly discovered, they don't like camera's pointing at their eye!

Our boys are off at training, Harmony didn't want anything to do with a camera toting me that day, so that left Cierra. She did a good job of ducking away, every time I got things lined up. I wonder if the camera lens created it's own reflection (no flash used) as soon as I saw one in her eye? I didn't want to make her uncomfortable, and gave up shortly after. However, I did manage to capture the treeline/sky/farmhouse.


I resorted back to a place where I do a lot of reflection of my own, our pond. It's one of my favorite places, to just sit and think. It's overcast, muggy, and kinda gloomy today - a good day to reflect...




those aha moments

The sun was shining. My horse was eager to see me, or realistically wanted out of his stall. Let's go with eager to see me. Trainer Patty said she was thinking of blowing the equine soccer ball up, the one we gifted her upon our departure last year. After Brad said "blow it up more, it's gotta fill the cover" twice, they traded jobs. He went to help her hubby fill the soccer ball, while we headed outside to ride in the arena. Patty warmed Nemo up. The ball was ready to roll shortly after. Within seconds of placing it into the arena, it blew into the corner. Both horses were wide-eyed. 

There was a cool brisk wind, the kind that make horses - alert. The trail course we tried last week had been moved outside, and added to. Shortly after warming up, I tried the gate. I could tell they had worked with Koda. He knew exactly what to do, so much that he anticipates it and I have to ask him to wait. We moved onto other things walked & trotted over poles, and worked our way up to a lope. It was a good riding day. I did get one big spook by the scary flat bed trailer, and so we stood by it, making it our friend, and repeated all the gaits passing by it, until it was a none issue.

I tried the rope gate a second time, and while Koda responded to every ask - he swung his hip out, instead of over/closer - as if to walk through the gate. Our trainer helped me realize, I need to cue further back and block his shoulder - aha, I should have known. I worry about not asking clearly, and have noticed our side-passes and spins have gotten sloppier. It's usually not my horse, it's me. Our trainer quickly said, don't feel bad it's part of building a team. Well, this part of the team needs to sharpen their skills!

We continued doing the various obstacles, and I decided to try the lope into the box stop - wow - my horse nailed it so good. So much forward, that I wasn't sure we were going to stop. It got squeals of delight out of our trainer. Our third attempt wasn't as pretty, but aha - now I know what it feels like to do it right. That my friends, was fun!

Brad had an aha moment with Nemo too, while our trainer worked with him and Nemo on softness. Gosh Nemo has leveled out, and looked so darn pretty slowed down and being responsive. I stopped to watch, and was so happy for them!

Koda & I went back to working on our lope, but suddenly I was getting a counter canter...outside leg, inside rein - what was I doing wrong? Not cuing back far enough, again. I did it right, and it caused my weight to shift - and his. While I've done it right (and wrong) many times, for all the years I've ridden, the obvious feeling of weight shifting - in particular Koda's, was another aha moment. I'll cherish this ride, they aren't all like this - and try to remember these moments.

I decided it was time to play, ball. I wish you could see Koda. He perks up, and just loves playing with that darn ball! It's so cute! According to my husband, Koda wasn't the only one having fun - he said he could see my beaming smile across the arena. We kicked, turned, pushed, mostly trotted, but broke into a lope...trying to beat the ball, before it ran into something. I admit, I loved it too. And if that isn't an aha moment, I don't know what is.

Sunday Stills ~ New Beginning's

Everything Spring reminds me of new beginning's!



riding with new friends

We had a pleasant indoor ride yesterday, despite the cool dreary weather. Our trainer introduced us to some of her long time clients, a couple that are big into trail riding (the wife also shows). They regularly head out on the trail, including trailering to different states. That's one of our long-term goals, getting a live in trailer and exploring other States. Guess their trail ride was cancelled and knew we were scheduled to ride at Iron Horse, they've been wanting to meet us. How sweet is that? When they asked if they could could ride with us, Trainer Patty knew they would be more then welcome! 

After warming up, I learned Koda's new trick of the week. He is sticking his neck towards the inside, and nose towards the outside...no clue why he has to be so challenging, other then he is a horse. Patty asked me to correct him if he did it, by turning him right around into a tight circle. Sometimes it worked better then others. She said in general I do a lot of little corrections, while she does one big correction and gets longer results. In the past Koda has done his share of bracing, pulling, chomping etc. It all goes away, but seems to reappear in some form. Last year we switched bits. I wonder if it's time to try something different? She doesn't think so, stating new quirks are all part of the tune-up process. 

We all stopped riding to learn together, when a mini trail class course was set up - a rope gait, a box, and a pole. The idea was to lope into a square box (with poles as a border) and stop inside, then do a 360 turn without touching the poles, trot off, go over a single pole, to the gate, and open and close it. Sounds easy, right? Well, it wasn't. I haven't done any gait work in over a year, and stopping in a box - ha! - that was a new one. Koda & I stopped inside the box, but it was a sloppy mess after we lost our gait somewhere right before the poles start. Our 360 turn was great, the gate not so much. Koda started what I not so affectionatally call his "backing crap" aka "I don't want to do that" and it instantly frustrates me. It sends me back to a place I don't like to go. A place where I don't trust him, and want to hop off. I said it out loud. Patty was right by the gate, and just continued coaching me. I tried to get him to WHOA! and not to inadvertently pull back, eventually we managed the rope gait. I only tried the course once, we've got a lot to work on...

After Brad did the course, he hopped off Nemo and asked the new (to us) Assistant Trainer Stephanie to do the course riding Nemo. He wanted to watch. Patty coached her in Nemo's sticky areas as well, and it was helpful for Brad to hear and see at the same time. No one was a shining star, we all had our issues and joked about "no pressure". 

On the way home, Brad said he got a lot out of this ride. It wasn't one of my favorite, but they can't all be. Overall it was fun and the couple we rode with were great. We shared a few stories, talked about ACTHA and ended up exchanging emails. I'm pretty excited to have met such nice people with similar interests, and the trail it may lead us on!