Friday, March 15, 2019

Shopping Bags; Part One - Bates Caprilli Dressage Saddle.

I have been fighting this nagging voice in my head telling me I am at heart a Dressage Student not a hunter jumper for several years now.

My real passion falls in planning my ride for the day, week etc, how I am going to get there, why I do what I do (as a rider influencing the horse), and finally how my horse reacts and feels.
From there I devise and orchestrate my plan and how I ride.

Am I conventional in my approach to traditional dressage? No.

Though am I conventional as a horse woman? Yes, in every way.

What makes sense and is the least stressful on the horse is the path I follow. I know where I want to be, the horse simply obliges to those ‘weird’  requests, it is easier for us to adapt to them. As every student learns differently, we must listen in order to successfully teach.

All in all I admit, I Kaila, am a dressage rider who occasionally jumps sticks for kicks.

Ever since selling my classic old Kieffer saddle, I regret not having it. It was so much easier to relax my pelvis and allow my hips to open and follow rather than the resistance I feel as I fight the forward position my close contact saddle places me in. Great for fences, bad for proper form.

I made it work taking all those dressage lessons in a close contact, because we all know, the saddle does not make a good rider, until now when I ceased my window shopping bit the bullet after a glass or two of wine one Friday evening and sent the money to buy a Bates Caprilli Dressage Saddle.

Why Bates?

Well, my current saddle is a Bates and no matter the fance of other saddles I have tried, from CWD’s, Passier’s to Custom saddles, nothing compares for comfort, durability and stability I feel in the tack.

Not forgetting to mention the ease of the gullet change system. While you argue it may not be a perfect fit, it does however give you the most generous toolbox possible when attempting to mirror the developing young horse.

The CAIR you say?

Yes. It has it’s cons but really as long as you have a good seat as a rider, the air filled panels will mould to your horses back. Is it more bouncy? Maybe a bit, yet if I think about it, I would rather have a lofty bouncy ball on my back that conforms to pressure than a rigid, unyielding slab.
Just my thoughts, I respect all opinions.

The process of getting this baby wasn’t easy, ugh, I could almost say the universe was screaming ‘don’t do it’ yet I persevered and now I think it was simply the universe teaching me to appreciate it when I have it in my hands. Because I mean as far as looks, this saddle is pretty basic.

I scored a great deal. Someone having moved form the USA leaving their horse behind and never having bought another. The sweet lady tossed in Prestige leathers, flexi stirrups, two gorths, a new set of white polos and an extra gullet.
Unboxing, The leather was dry and chalky but cleaned up to a lovely matte and unporous look after from well earned TLC. I swear this saddle was used twice...

I have yet to ride in this puppy, it may be some time yet, though I cannot help myself from propping it up on the saddle stand and sitting in it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Week One and a Half : Spacial Awareness.

Cross tying like a boss.... countdown to
movement.... 5..4...3

Our first week complete and Bellerose is coming along quite nicely. It feels like she has been around for over a month, not just a week!

Part of my starting process is a load of ground work. Short doses built for lasting positive  impression.
And I mean a load of ground work. If you hate all things ground work you will likely not be interested in my posts for awhile, sorry y’all I’ll try to keep things interesting with some purchase reviews for my recent shopping spree. Whoops...

My initial eval of my horses is always temperament and reaction response. Emphasis on reaction response because this is what can cause the biggest issues and injuries if you’re not prepared.

Temperament wise: Belle is so sweet, a little too in your pocket resulting in slight pushy attitude, sensitive, a thinker and accommodating.

Reaction Response: Belle is not overly spooky but she stops and thinks and has one heck of a spin. She can sit on those haunches like no one’s business, thanks Spanish breeding, spinning away from scary things then stopping and giving it the eye. Luckily very little bolt, or worse kick or rear.

I tend to have a list of buttons I push checking how the horses move away from pressure, establishing I am boss mare followed by enforcing foreword movement, always no question.

‘Ohh... edibles?”

Sometimes I push a bit harder just to see what the reaction is. I  want to know before I’m up there.

Once I know where we are, where we need to be and how it can escalate I develop a plan.

So far this plan consists of quite a bit of spacial awareness exercises including standing still when asked. #marebabies 😒
For instance yielding the haunches with inside bend and inside hind stepping in front of outside hind (important aspect, otherwise they are not actually accepting the pressure), yielding shoulder again inside bend and inside front stepping behind outside front, moving out from pressure (like lunging but I walk along with her driving her forward keeping her on a 10-12ft length and I’m at a 45 degree angle to her haunches - I like this the best out of all. Also toss in a few steps of trot as we go, always using arena to avoid strain), “opening the gate” (where you park the horse between you and the wall - ask the horse to go through the ‘gate’ while you stand still. Etc etc. So many!

Along with ‘sacking our exercises’ with plastic bags, whips spanking the ground or swirling in the air, saddle pads, cones, jumping up and down, leaning on her side, poles etc etc. Anything and everything I do it, mind you never drilling only enough to get a relaxation response, I accept small progressive efforts of licking, chewing, head dropping or a relaxing of the haunches, remove pressure by stopping and turning away with praise. I typically check response once more on the same side before moving into next eye and again never drilling.

While my days are short, 15 minutes of grooming and between 10-25 minutes of ground work - always finishing on a good note, they are very productive. Most of my barnmates also questioning my sanity as they see me leaping around like a fool, snorting like a horse to mimic a relation response of another herd member, or shouting my praise in soprano like fashion. But hey that’s baby horse life!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Coming Home.

“I come hang out there with you? It is scary in here...”

Belle is beginning to settle in after a few days out in the herd now. I was originally thinking based on previous herd match ups she was roughly middle of the pecking order. It was immediately pretty evident she is actually pretty darn low, if not the lowest out right now.

Despite the icey conditions in our area right now we got pretty lucky at my BO and the conditions were decent enough for turnout.

Based on that we opted to separate some of the herd and start the introductions.
As soon as we turned her out the two weather twins, Storm and Thunder teamed up in near tandem fashion and herded her about, not meanly but ‘were the bosses out here miss’. Belle was happy to get the heck out of their way and attempted to do her fancy Spanish horse moves, in hopes to woo them over I am sure, ha.

The twins kept their game on but also let the mini gelding in on the action.
Belle’s initial reaction was sheer terror at the tiny moving fluff ball attempting to double barrel her but not quite tall enough to meet anything but air. Not to mention his old man muscles don’t run at full speed anymore. It was really quite hilarious.

After observing the herd for a couple hours I thought it about time to head home and resume some of my weekend chores. Just as I was about to pull out of the driveway I see a blur of black at the corner of my eye. Mmm that should not be there....

The twins must have put the run on her and caught her in a corner and Belle decided to gazelle the five foot fence with a grace you wouldn’t expect from a stand still and with ice under the snow.
Naughty pony.

I was able to catch her easily for the most part. Luckily she has been well handled and despite being a two year old she is respectful for her age.

The day after BO opted to stick out Granny, a 23 year old brood mare who loves her babies and doesn’t take a lick from the other horses. The two of them bonded up near instantly, Belle now having a bodyguard who happily throws her body between any oncomers. Adorable.

Thus far, I have started pre school with some respect exercises using my dressage whip to lengthen my arm and a 10ft lead rope.
In the cross ties, Belle is super relaxed. In the arena, it seems she expects it is time to run around and show off her movement for potential buyers and gets a bit up and nervy.

While she did attempt a few dominating tricks like raising her head above mine and moving into my space or not moving away from pressure, rather into it, she only took a few minutes to understand ‘oh maybe this human actually means business. She’s scary’.

I think back and compare her to Solo and Paloma before, trying to recall how they were. While they were a bit older they had the same reactions, Solo more panicked and Pal very bullheaded and dominant.
Belle sums up to about normal for babies. Especially with the attention span of a gnat when she catches a glimpse of the door.

I also started sending her away from me, it took  a good amount of pressure at first. At one point I thought she might have a mini meltdown but that’s good. I want to see what she does when very pressured. Does she blow up? Kick out? Rear etc. Instead she did a little quarter spin and proceeded out the area of least resistance, good girl, immediately I released the pressure, gave her a pat and tried again.

As I start to get to know her, I am getting a good feeling that while she is lacks confidence now, she will be a mellow mannered adult.

Welcome home Belle!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Meet The Equine.


Whether you are a new face to my blog or a reader from prior blogs, previously Dotstreaming and Gone Solo, thanks to my previous equine educators, we are happy to have you!

Let's meet The Equine behind the D.R.E blog, or Demi Raza Espanola.

Name:  Bellerose
Stable name:  Belle (pronounced bell)
Breed:  Iberian Warmblood (half PRE Andalusian and half CSH)
Height: 16.2 hands
Colour: Born Bay, will finish steel grey.

Sire:  Alano
Dam: Rather Breezy

Belle's sire reigns from a competitive top level dressage background and on track to go all the way to Grand Prix.

Belle's dam is currently competing on the Canadian eventing team and was recently ridden by Olympian Selena Ohanlon in the indoor event series at the Royal Winter Fair. Known for her scope and unwavering bravery.

Belle is inquisitive, sweet, in your pocket type already showing off her fancy, athletic moves thanks to her PRE breeding and a desire to move and shake from her thoroughbred blood.

I am blessed to be have found and been able to finally afford this beauty, as her name implies. Belle stands to be quite the partner for our future dressage and eventing endeavours.