Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ditch Practice = Fail!

 First, here's a couple videos from the assessment.

From flatwork in the morning - you can see she's quite a bit more tense than usual, but not doing too badly as it was towards the end of the ride.

From the switch ride! He was SO. BIG. Such a nice horse to ride.

So, last night, I decided to mess around in our jumping tack. We've been hitting the dressage pretty hard lately, and while it's fun, I figured it would be good for McKinna to just have a relaxed play-around-with-fences day at home.

There's several ways to practice XC ditches when you don't have one. Here's the usual suspects:

- Put two ground poles a little distance apart. Fill the intervening space with sawdust/bark/dirt that's very different from the color of the arena dirt
- Put two ground poles a little distance apart. Fill the intervening space with a dark-colored cooler, tarp, etc.
- Put two ground poles a little distance apart. Put another ground pole diagonally across them (so it's clear that the thing is not supposed to be trot poles).

McKinna, of all horses, needs NO practice schooling ditches. She has casually loped over every single ditch I've pointed her at, anyway. But, hey, it's not like I wanted to fix any problems, I just wanted to have some fun. So why not bring a little XC to the indoor?

I used a combination of methods 1 and 2, scattering some bright orange sawdust on the dark arena floor between two poles and then putting a diagonal pole across the two of them. It looked reasonably like a ditch, sort of.

So I got on, warmed up, trotted her to it. I'm pretty sure she managed to put her feet down in between the poles. Okay...so I canter it. And she doesn't do anything differently. She doesn't put her feet in it, but I don't think her canter stride over it was any different than any other canter stride.

Which is great, and all. I mean sure, that's how you WANT your horse to jump a ditch. But it kind of spoils the fun of practicing it inside when they don't even try to jump a little bit!

Okay, so no ditch. I moved the poles so they were just canter poles, proceeded to have quite the argument with McKinna about cantering in our indoor and over the ground poles, and gave up. She's never liked cantering in there - I think it's just too small. I figured, now that she's got a Real Canter, it would be better. To be fair, it is better in general - she can canter a lot more quietly and capably than before, but she still practically rockets down the long side and she just gets very tense through her back and neck. Blah. So we basically drilled until we got through the canter poles nicely twice in a row, then I gave up. We did a long series of trot - canter for a few strides - trot for a few strides - canter, etc, in hopes of getting her a little more relaxed.

It did work a little, and she settled down and gave me some pretty quiet and prompt transitions. Then I just went to the walk and trot and worked on our regular, contact-y dressage stuff, which got her calm and happy. Then Mom got on and had a nice ride working on dressage stuff too.

Oh well. The rides can't all be perfect. Funny how I had a much better ride when I worked on dressage than when I worked on jumping! I guess I'll just have to relegate my jumping to the outdoor. It's bigger out there, but the footing's a little deep right now...hopefully over the winter it settles a little and we can do some jumping out there. It can get frustrating not being able to practice much at home.

But at least my horse doesn't need any ditch practice!

My SmartPak order gets here today. I bought a jumping girth for her, because the one we have now is a bit long, and I really really like the Lettia Coolmax dressage girth we have so I wanted one of their jumping girths. I ended up buying a SmartPak girth that looks a lot like the Coolmax one, because the Coolmax girth had this kinda bright orange as the brown part and the SmartPak one was a more subtle darker brown.

Also got a tub of Sore No More poultice, so I can put it on and feel good about myself after gallops and the like. AND, I bought a super-duper awesome present for my mom, but she doesn't get to see it till the holidays.

Clinic on gridwork this weekend! Should be fun and exciting and really good for us.


SprinklerBandit said...

Aw. Enjoy your totally non-ditchy horse. I'm just the tiniest bit jealous.

You look kind of funny on the WB. I'm just used to seeing you on smaller horses, so you look super tiny on the big one.

Izzy must now grow a couple hands so I can look good, too.

Nicku said...

You looked GREAT on the big horse! We do indoor ditches with two poles with a blue tarp folded underneath. I guess it's more like a makeshift liverpool now that I think about it but you know, similar idea :)

manymisadventures said...

SprinklerBandit, XC is McKinna's strongest phase - it's great fun out on course when she's easy and does banks/ditches/whatever no problem, but it also means we have to work a LOT harder in the dressage and stadium phases to get better ;)

It's been awhile since I've been on a horse that big. He was very comfy but I felt pretty uncertain jumping him around a course...just not used to the bigger ones anymore, I guess. It's good to know what I need to practice.

Nicku, my trainer has a blue tarp like that in her outdoor that she puts under fences as a liverpool. It's a fun change of pace.

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