January 7, 2010

Well, nine months has gone by.  This is the first real entry in the journal since last April. I will get better.  2009 was a training year.  I took a 4 day clinic with Conrad Schumacher which was an eye opener for me.  I enjoyed watching each of his lessons.  He didn't match well with Vinny.  He had me put a flash nose band on him and added a controlling rein to it.  I have never ridden Vinny with a flash.  There is no reason to.  He has a good mouth and never crosses his jaw.  I stayed away from them because being a stallion until age 5; he was very backed off when I used one.  I told my concerns to Conrad but it seems that he wants every horse in the same "attire".  He said that he only ever knew of one horse that could not wear a flash.  Well, being a good student, I shut my mouth and tried to train the best I could.  After the clinic, the first day on him at home he started shutting down.  I always knew this was in Vinny but always trained through it.  I lost Vinny's trust over the clinic.  I couldn't blame him for backing off.  So, off went the flash and on went the "Come to Jesus" moments and within 4 days I had him thinking forward once again.  Thank the Lord.

I was very busy this year traveling for clinics.  Once again, it seemed that every day I was home, it rained and rained and more rain.  While I was away teaching the days were beautiful.  Needless to say, my training has not been steady enough to really move along.  I was still pleased with Vinny's changes and his aptitude with collection. 

I took a lesson with Gunnar in September.  He saw Vinny one time last year.  He liked him a lot.  This time his words were "It is time to put a double on him and don't take a year to work him in it".  He said I needed to start slowing down his trot and canter.  Slowing down is him referring to collection.  We worked some with pirouette work and when I got done I knew what I needed to go home and work on. 

A week later, I was signed up for the Poplar Place show.  This was the first and ONLY show we did in the year 2009.  I just wanted to test his work at 3rd level.  I didn't take him off the property much in that year so he was a bit tense for his first show after a long hiatus.  I was quite pleased.  He ended up with a 66 (with 2 rider errors) a 64 (one rider error and a bad spook) a 68 it was tense but good and then his 1st ride the 2nd day was amazing.  He scored a 72.5.  I knew it was going to be a good score.  It just flowed like last years tests.  I don't ever need to let him sit at home so long.  I have to keep him in the show groove. 

I came home from the show and started introducing him to the double.  We had 5 rides in it and he seemed very willing and comfortable.  Then the downpours came and my ring was underwater for much of the time.  Of course with 2 weeks off, I was not going to put him in the double right away back.  So, we worked again in the snaffle.  I have not been out of the snaffle since November.  I just can't get 2 weeks of consistent work.  I have been able to maintain him but not building strength.  Now we sit with the ring frozen from the week of cold weather which is not supposed to come this far south. 

I am hoping that after this, I can get back into a routine and then ride him in the double again.  I am very careful with the double because too many horses are put in them and put right to work.  That is when resistances start.  I usually ride with the double for a week but on contact on the snaffle, then gradually taking the curb.  I don't really work on movements until I have a good feeling that they are perfectly fine in the double. 

My plans are to show at 4th level this year.  That will depend on how much training I can get done between now and May.  I was hoping maybe to be ready for PSG in the fall of this year but I don't think that is going to happen.  As always, I will let Vinny have his say in the matter.  He is 8 this year.   Remember that basics are the key.  Forward and back "stop and go".  I will always remember Karl saying that to me and it is true.  "Stop and Go."

Once again, I will try to be better about writing in my journal.  I am not making any promises though.  Cassidy said she would "remind" me to make passages in it instead of writing a story.

Speaking of Cassidy, she is doing a terrific job with her training.  We purchased a Georgian Grande in June as a project for both of us.  Brandy is 6 years old and had only been on a trail ride 6 times since she was broke as a 3 yr. old.  She had NO mileage or real training.  She never had a bit in her mouth.  She was a clean slate in my opinion.  She is now going under saddle at w/t/c and our biggest mountain to climb is getting her to really reach for the bit.  She has the build of a Friesian and when she looks that head comes up to your nose.  Cassidy is doing a great job with her but once again, consistency is important and we sure haven't had enough of that.  I will be making journal entries about our progress with her.

Cassidy has also received her scores at 2nd level towards her bronze medal.  She rides Sabia, a Lusitano, owned by Marla Washington-Haddon.  She also was also picked to ride in the Region 3 USDF Y/Rs clinic with George Williams.  She had a great time hanging with the other Y/Rs.  Cassidy was the youngest girl at the clinic.  Hopefully in the spring, she will be able to compete at 3rd level in hopes to get her scores for her bronze.  I am so very proud of my kid.  She works hard and has a deep compassion for training correctly but also enjoying her journey with any horse she is working.