Winter Blues

It’s been some time since my last entry. This fall was a frenzy of new jobs, old jobs, regional championships and an unwanted winter break from riding!

In thinking of the work that lies ahead for Renatus and I, I have been going over in my mind the tools I may need when getting him back to work. I’m hoping to put those thoughts to paper (or screen as the case may be) and see if that doesn’t help organize a plan of action to prepare us for the upcoming season. 

Onwards and Upwards!

 

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Full Cheek Snaffle for Dressage Work: Yes or No?

I’m sure you all know by now, that the clinic I attended last month with Dolly Hannon was a huge learning experience for me. Today, while I was thinking about bits, I remembered Dolly talking about full cheek snaffles. Her take, is that the cheek piece of the full cheek prohibit the bit from moving freely in the horses mouth which keeps the horse from chewing and excepting contact. I had not really thought of this before as I have never ridden a horse in a full cheek.

What are your thoughts on using a full cheek snaffle in dressage work?
What are your thoughts on using a full cheek snaffle in dressage work?

I Googled the full cheek snaffle and what I found was that the bit is indeed constructed to keep the bit from moving through the mouth and is an excellent choice for those horses that need extra assistance in turning and is a popular choice of hunter riders. In order to assist in turning the horse, the bit works by applying indirect pressure to the opposite side of the mouth when a direct rein aid is given.

What do you think? I am interested to hear everyone’s take on this. Does the bit work for you and your horse?

Use an Etch-A-Sketch to Relax the Tense Horse

Yes, an Etch-A-Sketch, well not literally, but “THINK” Etch-A-Sketch.

As you all know, I attended a clinic, sponsored by the Ohio Dressage Society, with Dolly Hannon last month  had the opportunity to audit some of the other rides. One ride in particular really spoke to me. The horse was a lovely Thoroughbred who had beautiful gates but wasn’t able to quite show them off as he  was just a bit anxious. He was very obedient, but tense being in a new place and having an audience. As we know, tension is not a friend to the dressage rider. It causes tightening of the horses back, lack of thoroughness, lack of bend, etc.

A friend of mine shares her TB jumper with me and he tends to get tense and overly anxious which causes the afore mentioned problems. He just wants to jump, he isn’t much interested in the flat work. But – jumping, put simply is dressage between fences. So when this lovely TB stepped out at the clinic, I was all ears to learn what I could do to ride my borrowed steed better!

Turn your arena in to an Etch-A-Sketch
Turn your arena in to an Etch-A-Sketch

As Dolly turned to begin working with the horse and rider – she imparted the following wisdom she had learned long ago. “TURN YOUR ARENA IN TO AN ETCH-A-SKETCH!” She told the rider, “use the whole arena,” don’t stay on a circle too long, utilize the entire space. Don’t just change directions only through the diagonal. Continually check the bend, is it there? Continually challenged the inside hind, is he stepping up and into your outside hand? Forward, forward in front of the leg with a steady quiet hand!

Does it work? Yes. It does. The lovely TB at the clinic began to settle and stretch more in to the bridle. Have I tried it? Yes, I have and have had good results. How long do you do this exercise? For as long as it takes! It may be the only thing you work on that day and that’s okay. Because with out relaxation in the horses body, neck and back we can’t achieve suppleness, thoroughness or correct contact.

SO, next time your horse is experiencing some tension – try this out. Let me know how it goes as I would love to hear your feedback.

Dolly Hannon Clinic hosted by the Ohio Dressage Society

Tommorow is the big day! I am scheduled to ride with THE Dolly Hannon at 10:30am. This will be my young horses’ first clinic. His name is Renatus and he is a 4 year old, homebred and raised Oldenburg.   Our second ride with Dolly will be Sunday morning. We plan to debut at training level this year and I hope to go over the tests with her…and well..just everything!

Do you have cold feet? So do I! These boots helped!

I am ALWAYS cold. Even in the summer, you will often times find me sporting a jacket. It’s really not normal! Anyways, you can imagine that I am not a fan of winter. My hands and my feet get PAINFULLY cold. So this winter, I set out to find a winter riding boot that would keep my feet from becoming giant walking popsicles. I have always been a fan of Ariat and actually have a pair of their Volants for everyday riding. Naturally I took a look at their line to see what was available. What I found were two boots: the Ariat Bromont and the Ariat Kendal H20. I chose to go with the Ariat Kendal H20 despite it being around $40 more than the Bromont. This is why.

Ariat Kendal H20 - Winter Riding Boot
Ariat Kendal H20 – Winter Riding Boot

The Kendal is completely waterproof, its breathable AND its lined with GORE-TEX! These three criteria trumped the Bromont for me as the Bromont is not completely waterproof and has Primaloft lining, which for me, just doesn’t give that hard core warmth I am looking for. The Kendal has a spur stop and there was absolutely NO BREAK IN time. I put the boot on, I walked, I rode, no discomfort what so ever. They do come in brown as well if you are looking to break from the usual black.

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Now, I got these boots as a Christmas gift and have now had over a dozen rides in them. See the pics, they still look great and are easy enough to wipe down after my rides. The pull cord offers some extra comfort and flexibility for those with more shapely calves AND I have found the boot to be flexible yet supportive whether I am riding dressage or jumping.

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The pics you see were taken a couple of days ago. As you can see, my calves are a bit skinny so i have the cord pulled taught. I found that if I just put a loop in the cord and secure the velcro strap over top there is no interference. I am wearing a thick winter breech and haven’t had any pressure points or discomfort around the hem of my breeches.

So there you have it. For those of you with ice running through your veins in winter – this may be a good boot for you. These were special ordered for me by my local tack shop, Equus Now! (my go to place). Check them out at www.equusnow.com. Enter EQUUS at checkout and you get free shipping. Free shipping is just what the amateur budget needs!

Onwards and Upwards!