Vesper's thread

Discussion in 'Horse Chat' started by Winchester, Mar 14, 2015.

  1. Winchester

    Winchester Senior Member

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    I decided that I wanted to start a thread for my new girl Vesper here in the chat section so that I wouldn't always be bumping up in the training section..

    You can see my first few posts about her here, starting at post #28...

    She's a 14 year old Dutch Warmblood x Percheron who I bought with the intention of eventually being my 3'6" horse. She's done lots of 1.2m stuff down in the states and is a nice eq horse. Great with kids and more specifically in my case, Mom ;) I bought her the 2nd week of January 2015.

    She took a while to settle in - she has been quite "flighty" since I brought her to our barn, but in the last 5 days she has settled right down and is way more chill. I'm hoping that she was just slow to adapt to her new home.

    We had a dressage lesson at the beginning of March and it totally flipped a switch with us. Previously, she was bracing and heavy on the bit and nothing that I tried was working to get us to 'click'. Ever since that lesson, she has become light in the bridle and I *love* riding her (before it was feeling a lot like a chore). She's softening to my hands and I am developing an elastic contact, which has always been a struggle for me!

    We went trail riding a week ago and played in the local cross country course and she had a blast. She has evented in the past and I could really tell; she plowed right through the water and didn't even glance at the ditch jump. She went back to her "must go everywhere at the fastest possible walk" mode during the ride, but she was just exuberant.

    I've given my mom a couple of lessons on her and she's so steady with a beginner on her.

    Here are some videos that my mom took today. It was *so* windy out, but she didn't flinch once with my mom riding and even with me she was great. I did come off and eat dirt, lol, but that was my fault and not hers. I was too far forward while posting trot and she spooked out from under me so I somersaulted over her shoulder... Same thing I did when I came off my last horse a year ago! Tsk.



    And here's Mom! ;)
     
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  2. Winchester

    Winchester Senior Member

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    Time to update since we went to our first show this past weekend!

    I wasn't sure that we would be ready for it as I am still struggling with my jumping anxiety, especially since we have only been together since mid-January and I am still figuring out her quirks and "style"; however, we went to another barn to school their nice hunter course a week or two ago and she was a perfect lady, so I decided to buck up and enter some smaller jumper classes for the season opener at Thunderbird Show Park this weekend. I reassured myself that we were not there for a ribbon or a placing, we were going simply for the practice and experience. I have only ever done a couple of very low key jumper classes with my previous horse who was very much hunter-minded like myself (both of us were very happy to just cruise around quietly) - this weekend was my first experience doing a true jumper course in a big ring.

    She was pretty amped up when I got on to warm up; she didn't want to soften or slow or relax which in turn caused me to stress a bit as I struggle with control issues in my riding. My coach got on her to school which made me feel better, and when I got back on I felt less anxious about the whole thing. She is a much bigger horse in every way compared to my last one, and it is taking a lot of adjustment for me to trust her and stop trying to micromanage all the time.

    When we got into the ring for our first round (2'6"), Vesper immediately flipped a switch into "competitive jumper mode" - she was animated and focused in a way that I have never experienced in her or in any other horse I have ridden. She knew exactly what to do and how to do it, all I was there for was to steer to the next fence! I spent the whole course with what felt like a death-grip on the bit, as we have never done a course in anything more than a quiet hunter canter, and suddenly we were working in a hand gallop with a much bigger stride than I am used to. I came out shaking and exhausted from exertion, but elated! I could feel how much she loves her job and it was a great learning experience for me to trust her, as we nailed almost every distance when I just let her roll to the fences.

    We did two more rounds after that at 2'9" (I actually changed my bit from a Waterford to a Pelham for these rounds, thinking that the leverage would make me feel a little more in control; alas, it made no difference to her! Must continue to unpractice micromanaging habits..) and although each time I wanted to fall off from exhaustion, it was a real thrill and I had a blast. It was so cool to feel her "look" for the next fence and "ask" me where to go next. My previous horse would have balked at all the fences, but Vesper is fearless and eager. I am learning a whole different style of riding with her and I am so thankful for the growth that comes with that. I never imagined that I would ever have the courage to step into the jumper ring, and I am really looking forward to building trust in her and learning how to "let go" in my ride.

    Here's some recent photos, as well as videos of our rounds this weekend:

    11053867_10152834332572898_3061398193475311351_n.jpg 11129924_10152834329087898_8994717195140769984_n.jpg 11150941_10152865854872898_8675543258718066655_n.jpg 11164653_10152865315927898_2494661021727531326_n.jpg



     
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  3. Winchester

    Winchester Senior Member

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    Had to post photos of the hubby's first ride on V this past weekend.. It only took him 5 months to get around to it! :wink:

    20150606_134415.jpg 20150606_134609.jpg 20150606_134818.jpg 20150606_134838.jpg

    She's such a gem, she takes such good care of my noob family when they ride. He took her out on the road, which he has never done before; she loves going out of the arena.


     
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  4. SparkleDust

    SparkleDust Senior Member

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    She's a pretty horse! Best of luck with her! :)
     
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  5. Winchester

    Winchester Senior Member

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    We went to play at the local cross country field on Tuesday! It was a blast. My friend came along to ride and take photos/videos, and although we only had the one horse between us, we both had a great time. The weather was perfect and my mare loves to be out on the course.

    She didn't want to get on the trailer to go out there, which has been an issue in the past, but after a short amount of quiet encouragement from me (a far cry from the easily-frustrated me who used to lose my temper when she was being resistant to loading), she climbed on and off we went. There's a lovely huge hogsfuel ring there that we warmed up in; I did all 3 gaits and then let my friend play on her while we swapped off taking pictures. Vesper was revved up but never acts up when we go away from home to ride; she just has more energy that I am learning to channel into our rides :)

    We then went and played on the course, although we stuck to small logs as it was hot, she hadn't jumped much in a while and all the big fences are closed off when an event isn't on. It was great to watch my friend ride V, as she is a really confident rider and will try things/jump things that I am too nervous to.

    I tried a 3 ring elevator bit on V as she gets really strong when she's out doing CC, although I am not certain that it made much a difference. Next time I go out I am planning to put her back in the Waterford to compare. I dislike bitting up, especially if it doesn't make a difference. More reins to manage, too!

    My dressage lessons have been really helping me in terms of my balance and confidence. I am sitting back a lot more (although watching the videos shows me that I'm still a ways in front of the vertical!) than I used to, my seat and legs are developing stability and I'm learning how to balance and supple Vesper (and myself!) which helps me feel more in control without fighting her. I am taking baby steps towards allowing her to use her powerful stride without feeling like we are running off out of control - probably my biggest hurdle in riding!

    Here's a video of my favourite moment of the day. My friend had jumped her around already, I had done a few small logs and for Vesper's sake was ready to head back to the trailer, but as we were walking back, I decided that I wanted to try the bigger log jump that my friend had done a few times. I felt like I would regret it if I didn't conquer my nerves over this one, so I just set myself up to jump it before I could lose my nerve. We only did it the one time, but everything "lined up" so well; I didn't hold her back too much like I usually do, I saw my distance 3 strides out and I didn't "stand" out of the stirrups in 2 point like I usually do. For the first time it felt like my hips were closing as they are supposed to, and everything flowed so beautifully! We only did it the one time as we nailed it, and finished on that great note :D



    I'm planning to go out more often with her now that I know she's fine to go out on her own without other horses, as I'd like to work on getting used to her rolling canter, and stop thinking that she's running away with me.

     
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  6. Winchester

    Winchester Senior Member

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    Had a great jumping lesson this afternoon. It's been ages since I had a jumping lesson; mostly because I was using my limited horse spending money on dressage lessons, as well as my jumping anxiety. I think was coach was getting a bit jealous of the dressage instructor though, so I agreed to a jumping lesson!

    I still haven't done much jumping with Vesper as she is so big and powerful and even small jumps made me feel like she was running away with me. I asked my coach today to focus on getting my upper body back, as I quickly resort to tipping forward to feel safe through a course, which of course tips V onto her forehand and gets her heavy/rushing. So today, the main focus was... (drumroll)

    Lifting my hands. :rolleyes::D

    Lifting my hands resulted in my shoulders coming back, my upper body coming back, my heels settling down and my release coming more softly. Who woulda thunk! ;) I tend to ride with reins too long and thus my hands buried around her withers, so this was a big step for me. It was an immense help in sitting back and seeing my distances!

    We kept it small, probably no more than 2'3, but a huge breakthrough for me was when we did a 4 stride line and I didn't touch Vesper's face - I just let her roll down it. Usually I feel the need to shorten her in a line and we end up chipping in and it gets really ugly, but somewhere I found the courage to just sit still and let it happen. We only missed a distance twice in the whole lesson, instead of at every fence!

    This was the first time that I have had the confidence to use my body to ask her to wait instead of my hands (a mix of bad habits and anxiety), and she was so responsive. If I simply sat and waited with my weight "back", she didn't take a long distance or run through me. It was rather amazing. That was the first time that I have jumped her around a course without feeling stressed and tense.
     
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  7. CareTaker

    CareTaker Senior Member

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    The pleasures of success with a wonderful mount! Enjoy every moment, even the anxiety, as you seem to be making strides both in your improving skills and in trusting your horse. (No pun intended.)
     
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  8. Winchester

    Winchester Senior Member

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    Some videos of recent rides. A week or 2 ago I went to the local park with my husband who took his bike and we traversed the trails; I put together some of the GoPro footage


    And today we hit a huge milestone of jumping a 3'3" vertical! Ever since my last lesson I have felt strangely confident and we are getting our distances almost every fence, so I just decided to get brave and go for it. Thankfully my husband was around and filmed me, and I also had the GoPro on which was cool :cheerleader:This is me riding with my hands "up", so I have no idea where they were before.. Somewhere down by my knees?! :rofl:



    And my husband jumped for the first time too! :charge:
     
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  9. Winchester

    Winchester Senior Member

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    I saw my Physio yesterday regarding an ongoing hip problem and Vesper saw the chiro today so us ladies are getting all rearranged :)

    My left hip has been locking up out of joint for a couple of months now, it's all to do with my chronic back imbalance and trying to realign myself. The physio showed me how I have zero stability within my hip flexor joint and so has taught me some exercises and stretching. Interesting that Vesper is "weak" on her left side as well and minimally responsive to my left leg.. That makes sense, since I have not been using my hip and core and instead have been using my lower leg to compensate for my weakness.
    I rode the morning and only worked on the walk and ensuring that I am correctly engaging my hip flexors to move her laterally; boy it was exhausting for my underdeveloped muscles. Good to learn correct muscle memory for once though. I do so hate going back to square one..!

    Vesper herself was only minimally out which was nice to know; her hip and corresponding shoulder were a bit misaligned and a spot in her loin, but she seemed to enjoy the therapy. I'll be interested to ride her again on Monday and see how she moves after the treatment.
     
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  10. Winchester

    Winchester Senior Member

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    I figured I'd resurrect this thread so as not to clutter the board with more...

    I haven't been too active on here through April as there wasn't much to post... Vesper came up lame after our fox hunt on April 2 with what we were sure was a stone bruise, but then could maybe have been a tendon/ligament injury, and it turns out I was treating the wrong foot the whole 3 weeks..! :faint: Thankfully my barn owners are extremely horse savvy and were able to definitively inform me that she was sore on her RF, not her LF as I believed, and after putting a pair of Easy Boots on her fronts, she jogged away 100% sound, confirming the initial diagnosis of a stone bruise. So she got fronts nailed on, after which I worked 4 days straight of 12-15 hours each and didn't ride during that time, so Lady V got a lovely 4 weeks vacation! She's back to her usual healthy self, and we just moved barns again on May 1 - so I am still reeling a bit from all the chaos in such a short space of time!

    The beautiful property where we were staying for the last 3 months sold and the new owner is taking possession June 1 - she is going to be doing some huge renovations to the place so no horses would be boarded until at least August. An old friend of mine, who took awesome care of my first horse, offered me a spot at her barn at a bit of a discount, so I took her up on that and am so far very happy that I did so.

    We moved May 1 and Vesper seems very content. The place has room for 6 horses (there are currently 5 including V) with a lovely little barn, quality outdoor arena and nice pastures for turnout. My BM is a western rider though, so I'll have to bring in all of my own jumps. She is a most excellent horse woman and a very funny, down to earth person who takes fabulous care of her horses - I couldn't have gotten a better barn manager! I also discovered today that they are on the intersection of 2 very quiet roads which means we will be doing a lot of road hacking. My leasor is starting back up this weekend too, as she didn't ride all of April due to Vesper being sore, and both of us are pleased that she'll be back in the game. She was telling me today that she has done some tempi changes with Vesper and I think my jaw hit the floor! I knew my mare was skilled, but that's pretty epic in my books. I would love to watch her ride sometime.

    I recently discovered that my equine chiro also specializes in rider biomechanics and I will be wrangling her out for a few lessons ASAP! Since all we've done is walk and minimal trot under saddle in the last 4 weeks, I've spent a lot of focus breathing into my contracted left side and trying to become aware of and loosen all the tension from my ankle up to my ribcage. I couldn't be in two-point without immediate back pain and side tension until a few days ago, when I started breathing into those muscles and lengthening everything in my left side. It's nice to have been forced back to the basics by both our time off.

    Looking forward to coming back into full work, especially now that the weather is so warm and sunny. I'd like to do a local jumper show this summer which is sort of my mini goal for this season. Otherwise, we're just going to enjoy each other :)
     

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