Monday, December 19, 2011

*GASP*

The gasp is for my disbelief in the fact that I have waited this long to update on the jumper show, even though it went so well! What is wrong with me?

The day started out at about 8am at the barn. I scrubbed his socks clean in the 30 degree weather, outside, with cold water. Neither of us were thrilled about it but, it had to be done, you could hardly tell his socks were supposed to be white they were so stained. Yuck!

I pulled his mane a little bit more to tidy it up, trimmed the scraggly edges off of his forelock, clipped his bridlepath and fetlocks, and gave him a good groom. He looked pretty good for the middle of December. I never show at all in the winter so by this point, he is usually a huge hairy monster, that looks incredibly scruffy until March. Not this year! Between the showing, and the fact that I'll actually get to ride more than two or three days a week over the winter, we are staying nicely groomed... (We'll see how long this lasts...)

So we were off and arrived at about ten. When we called ahead to see what time they expected our classes to run, they told my friend Hanna that she would probably go around 11:30, no later then 12. So we signed in, got our numbers, I went and learned my courses, then we headed back and she tacked up and went to warm up. Ben just about had a heart attack when she left, because nobody was at their trailers around us either so I tacked him up and threw a cooler over him and took him down to graze by the warm up area. I figured that when my friend went in for her first class, I would bridle him and hop up. That would have given me about 20 minutes to warm up which would have been perfect.

Hanna went in to the holding area for about an hour, and they still weren't on her class. Now it was about one. So she went back out and warmed up some more, then waited another hour. Now it was about 2:30. She finally went in to do her first class, and I got on. I didn't bother to lunge Ben, because he seemed pretty calm and I wanted to experiment a little bit. He warmed up without a single buck despite the psycho mare in the warm up ring with him. I was very proud of his maturity!

The footing in that area was a little sketchy so the jumps were tiny in the warm up and I left them that way. They were maybe like a foot tall, maybe eighteen inches? I was only jumping 2'6" for my classes anyway so even those little fences were fine just to get him in jumping mode. Here are a few pictures of us warming up:







So we went back in to the holding area and waited and waited and waited some more. Hanna still hadn't gone in for her second class at 3:30. To pass the time we took some adorable pictures of Ben and Ella (Hanna's mare).




When Hanna finally went in for her second class, I was supposed to be two classes after that, so I went back outside for about 10 minutes just to get him moving again and popped him over two more fences. Came back in, it's about 4 now, I should be going in to do my class in about five, ten tops minutes. Turns out Hanna accidentally went in to the wrong classes.

So that meant another 7 classes until mine, not 2. I was absolutely not going to make my horse warm up again so we waited and waited and waited, until 4:30, when everyone doing the jumpers demanded to do a warm up even though they weren't technically supposed to. So everybody went in and started jumping jumps and being crazy. I just trotted Ben around the outside of the ring a couple of times to get him used to it and then got out of there because I was about to be run over by girls jumping on their crazy horses. So I was the only jumper who didn't jump every single fence before jumping the course. And we still pulled off a second place in our first class, and a first in our second class!

The first course was pretty simple, inside single, diaganol, outside line, diaganol, outside line, short diaganol. Felt like a hunter course! We went in and jumped around that clean, and then proceeded into our jump off because it was a Table IIb which means you jump your course, cross the finish line, trot or walk, then they signal you to start again, and you do your jump off before leaving the ring. We were clean in our jumpoff too, losing only to some girl who rides at the Hunt Club, on a lesson horse that was a little out of control... I'll take second and in control before first and insane any day!

Here's the videos of the first round. The first video is the first course, and the second video is the jumpoff:

The second round course was a little trickier. It's hard to tell from the angle of the video but fences 6 and 7 were completely out of line. 6 was perfectly in line with the brick wall on the inside. So you had to jump 6 and do some crazy little curvy line to 7 which you can kind of see in the video. We jumped clean around there too, and then did the jump off in 28 seconds, the only pair to go into the 20s and won.

Here's the video of the second round and jumpoff:

They combined the high and low jumpers for scoring so there was about eleven or twelve people I was competing against. I was pretty surprised at how many people came, these are usually quite low key shows.

Overall I was very thrilled with Ben because while we had a few rubs and sticky spots, he was listening, he was enjoying himself, and he was jumping well. Plus, this is the first time he and I have ever done anything like this and there's quite a few remaining shows to iron out the problems. My plan was to do the high jumpers for next time assuming this went well, and it did, however, if there is frozen ground/ice/snow there will be no outdoor warm up ring which means there might be one tiny jump in the holding area that everybody will be trying to use at once. Its not fair to ask him to go in there and jump 3'3" without sufficient warm up so I might stick to 2'6" if there will be no warmup. In March, I'll probably bump him up when we can get out again. Then again, if there's some weird January heat wave, then I'll do 3'3", but something tells me that's not very likely :-)

So we had quite a fabulous time and are looking forward to the next one. We might have a shot at end of series champions, and win a pretty tri-color ribbon and fleece cooler which would be incredibly cool!

Thanks for reading!


Woohoo! By the time we were done it was pitch black outside! A very long but rewarding day!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Clinic Report!

So, obviously I have been slacking off big time on the blogging front... Sorry about that! Life has been busy, I was sick all last week so didn't ride a terrible amount and after I got over being sick the weather was cold and crappy so I didn't ride much.

This past Sunday and Monday I took part in the Suzi Gornall clinic at my trainer's barn. Ben was awesome both days and I really feel like we learned a lot. His flatwork was great, especially Sunday. Very consistent in his frame which is something we've been struggling with for a while now. Monday his flatwork wasn't so consistent but that was his fifth day in a row of moderate/heavy work so he was tired. He got a well deserved day off yesterday and its starting to look like he's going to get another one today due to the rain... Depending on how cold it is I might suck it up and ride anyway.

Suzie told me that he was going around fine but he needed to have more push from behind. She gave me the great analogy that I should  have more of him in front of me then behind me. That really was a great visual. He gets complacent where he is, he needs to spice it up a bit. I didn't realize how ho-hum he really was going until I pushed him way forward and felt how much smoother and powerful it was.

After warming up at will on Sunday, we individually trotted and then cantered over three poles set on a 20 meter circle. I'm sure most people have done some variation of this exercise at some point in their riding and I'm sure everyone hates it as much as I do. But, I don't know why more trainers and more riders don't do it more often because it is the perfect exercise for adjustibility, which a lot of us work hard to achieve. We practiced on keeping straight on a bend, with the shoulders and haunches on the curved line, and lengthening and shortening our strides at trot and canter. I know that this will be going on my list for winter exercises.

Then we moved on to a couple of itty bitty jumps, one on each diaganol, that we jumped on a figure eight. We focused here on bending around the turns, and going for a deep, balanced spot. We discussed the difference between a deep spot and a chip, which is something that we all know, but don't really think much about, so it was good to have that thought in the back of our heads while jumping. Then the jumps went up to about 2'6" or 2'9" and we did the same exercise. I really had to focus on keeping my upper body up and straight, as I tend to keep my upper body too close to his neck. He's a little guy with a short neck! She also gave me the visual to ride every fence like it was downhill. I know a lot of people tend to pretend they are riding every jump uphill, but for me, riding a downhill jump makes me lift my shoulders and keep my body back. We ended on that note for the day.

Monday, the flatwork warmup was similar. Again, pushing him out in front of me and wanting him to want to surge out of the corners. She gave me the visual of doing a shoulder-in in the corner, then straightening, and having him surge forward, and go almost too fast. The idea was after he was surging forward on his own consistently, to then contain the energy by a light contact, so he still had the engine behind, but it would be propelling him up into balance, instead of out into a long, rambly trot. We then cantered over a couple of ground poles set five strides apart, then did the same exercise as Sunday, with the two fences on a figure eight. Ben and I had some serious issues bending around our turns. For some reason, our flatwork goes completely out the window when we jump. Its my fault, I know, but why it gets ten times harder to bend when we're jumping then when we're trotting or cantering a circle confuses me...

The fences were set at about 2'9" and 3'. Ben was jumping fantastically. She used the same analogy of raising my hands and keeping more of him in front for jumping too, which was helpful in keeping my body back in the approach to fences. At the end of the clinic, she told me that he should be jumping 3'6" courses right now because jumping these 'little' jumps weren't enough for him. (Last I checked 3 feet wasn't that little!) I should jump him higher progressively of course, but thats where he should be. Obviously, he can do 3'6" as shown in the gridwork video I posted a while ago but oxers and courses of 3'6"? I have full confidence he can do it, I don't know if I'm brave enough for that just yet!

She also asked me how often I jump him. I told her usually around twice a week, once at my lesson, and once at home. She said that that was a lot, and that instead of jumping twice a week over 3 feet or less, I should be jumping him once a week or once every other week over fences and exercises that would be beneficial to his training, such as lower, wider oxers, exercises over ground poles instead of a jump school, or occasionally jumping bigger courses. She mentioned that there is no use jumping those little fences if its not going to make him any better. Which makes a lot of sense. And honestly, I would love to just jump him once a week but at my jumping lesson, we jump about 18 inches high because the school horses work a lot and its hard on them to jump bigger all the time so even though we have our own horses, we don't jump bigger either. So obviously that can't be his only jump school, so I'll jump him about three feet at home once a week, usually doing some form of gridwork. I don't think the itty bitty jumps he does in the lessons actually count as jumping, but it seems like a waste if neither him or me is learning anything from it.

I also asked her about the ditch issues and she gave me an awesome visual. If I'm galloping along with 50% percent power in front, and 50% power in back, and I come to a ditch, and he peeks and drops back, then only 25% of him is still left in front and thats not enough to jump the ditch. If I go up to the ditch with 75% power in front, even if he sucks back, there will still be 50% left, and that is enough to jump the ditch. I think that schooling in the spring will be a huge breakthrough for Ben, but I do imagine that he will still be looky at ditches so that analogy should be particularly helpful to think about then. It also applies to any other spooky fence or water too. In general, its probably a good thing to think about in front of any fence.

I definitely learned a lot and enjoyed myself over the course of the clinic and I can't wait until she comes back again next year. This also made me super excited for the upcoming season!

A few other notes:

My Point Two vest came in the mail last week and I am so excited!!!

The first schooling jumper show is this Sunday and I recruited my friend to bring her horse and show with me because she used to groom for her hunter/jumper friends and actually has a clue to what's going on! I have been learning everything I can about how to do the jumper thing and I am super excited!

Ben's leg was sliced open and incredibly swollen last time I posted. After three days of cleaning the cut, cold hosing, and handwalking...okay fine walking on his back over his blanket because he was trying to bite me when I was walking him...his leg returned to normal size and now there's just a small, incredibly ugly scab, left on his leg. Also, the hair around it is incredibly silver because there's still AluShield spray all over his leg that will.not.come.off. I love the protection that stuff gives wounds without having to wrap it but I really wish it came off more easily.

I think that is all for now! I will certainly return with the adventures of how the jumper show went. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be jumping itty bitty fences which could be good or bad. Probably bad, because Ben will feel no need to pick up his feet... I guess we'll see! And if any one knows anything about this jumper stuff and wants to share any tips to ease my uneccessary anxiety, please do! I shouldn't be this worried, but I hate not knowing exactly what I'm supposed to do.

As always, thanks for reading guys!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Some Random Things...

Random thing #1:

Ben sliced his right hind open yesterday. This is it all cleaned up, it was a lot worse before I hosed it off. Its a little puffy today, so far he's still sound, seems like its sore though. I'm supposed to have a dressage lesson later this afternoon but we'll see how he feels about it a little later.


Random thing #2:

I may or may not have bought this shirt that came in the mail the other day. And I may or may not have experienced one or more of the incidences noted on it.

But come on, it's perfect right?
And those are both of the random thoughts that I have time for at the moment.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Apparently, I Don't Own A Horse, I Own A Kangaroo

Thought it'd be fun today to do a little gridwork. Set up a double bounce, two strides to a vertical. Kept the bounces super tiny, and started the vertical at 2 ft, then 2'6", then 3 ft, then 3'3", then 3'6". He didn't touch the rail once!

I didn't use groundlines today because Jim Wofford said not to at the Equine Affaire last weekend, and I'm not about to argue with Jim Wofford ;-).

He was SO good! I only got the 3'6" on video and I ran through it at that height twice. I'm just going to post the videos now because I don't have much battery left on my laptop:


And here's a still I took from one of the videos, ignore my complete lack of folding at the hip, I need to shorten my stirrups a hole or two which means I need to punch more holes in my stirrups which is a pain in the butt when you have double stitched leathers with nylon in between. I think I just won the award for longest run-on sentence ever...

Anyway, here it is:



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Equine Affaire!

This past weekend was the Equine Affaire in Springfield, Massachusetts. For anyone who doesn't know what it is, it is a 4-day horse trade show with 4 different buildings full of horse vendors. There are also tons of clinicians representing every discipline doing clinics. Jim Wofford was there for eventing this year and he was really fun to watch.

We went Saturday and stayed over to go Sunday too. Long story short I bought way too much stuff!

This is off the top of my head so I'm sure I'm forgetting something but things I bought:
  • A really nice, white squishy saddle pad
  • Braideez braiding wire (tried these last night and they are so cool!) - http://www.braideez.com/
  • A waterproof quarter sheet to ride in the snow and rain with this winter
  • Ordered a custom embroidered jacket with Ben's show name on the back
  • Ordered a custom figure eight bridle from PinkEquine with neon green padding for cross country (SO EXCITED!)
  • A new neon green lunge whip that is awesome!
  • A plain black fly veil for the summer
  • New show gloves
  • A new grooming brush
  • A new dressage girth from Lettia. The pins are spring loaded so you only need one hand to tighten. Used it yesterday and I love it!
  • New black dressage pad. It has white and black striped piping along the edge and looks SO nice on Ben.
  • Jim Wofford's "Training the Three Day Event Horse and Rider." Already started reading it and have already learned so much.
  • A new black leather halter originally $105 on sale for $35. It's so nice and is going to be his new show halter.
  • Himalayan salt blocks for 50% off because Ben goes through one a month...
  • I earned myself a cute free pink Smartpak hat by checking in to their booth on Facebook
  • A waterproof helmet cover for riding in the rain with
  • New hay bags for the trailer
  • Anti-static blanket spray because Ben gets so static-y and he freaks out everytime I take his blanket off, poor thing!
  • I got all my wormer for the year on sale too which is great!

I am convinced that there is more but that's all I can remember for now. And for the most exciting news of all:

I won a Facebook contest to win a Point Two Air Vest for 50% off! So instead of $675 it's only going to cost about $330! Still a lot of money, but I would never be able to find a deal like that anywhere else so I am very excited. I will probably get it in a couple of weeks.

I rode Ben yesterday. It's been getting dark here earlier and earlier so by 3:30 the sun was already beginning to set and thats when Ben gets really spooky. That combined with having two days off, he wasn't the greatest but we had a decent flat school. It's a little rainy today and it's going to pour tomorrow. I don't know what I should do in terms of jumping/dressage work over the next couple of days. I will probably jump today, flat tomorrow. Then I have a dressage lesson Thursday and a jumping lesson Saturday. This month is going to be relatively quiet for us. Next month we're doing the Suzi Gornall clinic the first weekend in December, then heading out to the first jumper show of the season on the 11th. I'm really nervous for that because I have NO clue what I'm doing when it comes to the jumper thing... Better start reading the rulebook!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Trust

This past weekend tested my trust in my horse so much. 

Saturday morning I went to my lesson and we did some cross country stuff. First we just trotted back and forth over the ditch and Ben went, first time, with just a little peek:

Then we put a couple of little courses together and as I was turning to the ditch, I just decided to suck it up and canter it and let whatever was gonna happen, happen. And you know what? Nothing happened!

First course:

Second course:

The courses were not exactly beautiful, there was quite a few short spots, some long spots, he needed more leg in a few places, a couple of times I half-halted too strongly and he broke, but I was just so thrilled with how good he was!

And then, when I thought that I couldn't trust my horse any more than I already did, we went on the hunter pace yesterday. One of the scariest things I have ever done. Ben was an angel, he didn't buck not one time, and only thought about it once. He was a little jumpy and spooked a couple of times but he was just so wonderful. We started out in some fields where we mostly walked and trotted a bit and popped over some low fences. Both horses were a little nervous and we figured we'd do more as we went on. But then came The Hill. The Hill that everyone told us about explaining it as "Its weird really. Just a really steep hill right in the beginning." So, we're thinking it's just a long, steep uphill. No. Try a twisty, turny, muddy, rocky, rooty, insane hill. The only way up was to gallop it was so steep. One of the scariest things I have ever done.

The footing in the woods was so awful I'm shocked my horse is sound and still has all of his shoes. Tons of uphill and downhill and all the downhills were disgustingly muddy. Tons of extremely soggy areas with standing water and mud up to their knees. At one point Ben fell on his knees it was so bad. So, needless to day we did a lot of walking, some trotting on the dry level parts, and no jumping in the woods because the footing was terrible. The fun part came when we got back out into the field at the end. That's when I galloped and jumped quite a bit. That was a lot of fun.

We were thrilled to be back, however, and I am sure we were very far over the optimum time. I would say that overall it was fun and Ben seemed to enjoy himself very much but I felt bad making him go through all that muck. But it was also great to realize I had my horse back. He was pulling me to every fence I pointed him at (and some that I didn't point him at!), and he was jumping fantastically. It was nice to end the season with a successful outing and I can't wait for next season!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Where Did This Dressage Horse Come From?

I had such a fabulous dressage lesson today!

Ben was just so on, so good, was so soft, light and relaxed, and was just listening so nicely. What a nice feeling. We worked a lot on our canter/walk/canters that we've been struggling with a bit and we pretty much mastered them today. We worked on schooling a lot of haunches-in. He's 100% confirmed in shoulder-in, about 65% confirmed haunches-in, and about 20% confirmed with renvers... We're going to work on the renvers more when he's totally confirmed haunches-in. We also did a lot of turn on the haunches work which has improved drastically. Not only does he actually get what I'm asking now, he does it too! What a concept...

We will be schooling a lot of counter canter through the end of fall because we're going to start schooling his changes this winter. He's got auto changes when we jump so I know they're there so it should be pretty easy to teach him eventually. 

I'm hoping that I will eventually be able to use all those fancy things in warm-up at shows to get him to chill out and focus on his work. That is definitely going to be a big goal for next year: relaxation at shows.

Also, while I did not manage to convince my mom to drive to King Oak for the hunter pace this weekend, I did manage to get her to drive to Ayer Mountain Farm for their hunter pace. A friend of mine and her new horse will be joining us this Sunday. I'm super excited because I've actually never done a hunter pace before. Crazy, right? I'm sure it will be super fun! We're doing the Hilltoppers division and we're just aiming on having a good time and playing around and enjoying our last outing for the year.

We ended our dressage lesson today with a short hack around the paddocks. It was such a beautiful day and such an awesome lesson. I really wish I had it on video but I had no one to video for me today! If I can remember, I may be able to beg someone to video for me tomorrow. 

Saturday we have a jump lesson and then Sunday we're off to the hunter pace!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Winter Wonderland?

Snow in October? Really? I just think the eventing gods hate me. They cancelled the event I was supposed to go to this past weekend because there was 6 inches of snow on the ground. A very good call on their part and we're even getting a partial refund but still very disappointing as that's it for the eventing for the year. Although I am seriously considering begging my mom to drive me to King Oak this weekend for their hunter pace... I just have to round up someone to come with me!

And there's always the jumper shows to look forward to! After I finish writing this I am going to update the Eventing Schedule for the (extremely!) tentative plan for next year. Okay it's probably not even tentative, it's probably my dream world! But, I figure as long as I am accepting of the fact that things will change, I think it's okay to dream a little big! I'm also going to add another page with our winter schedule so if anyone is interested in that you can take a peek.

Ben has been loving the snow, goofing off with his turnout buddy. We rode in the snow yesterday and he was really good! I'm keeping a big eye on his frogs though as they are starting to get very squishy. Yuck! No thrush sightings but with the wet and the cold, I've got the Venice Turpentine at the ready and my endless amounts of towels to dry his legs, heels, and feet whenever he comes in from outside. I've been going later to the barn so that when I come in from riding, I can dry him off and treat his hooves and then put him right into his stall. They're getting about 8 or 9 hours of turnout a day now although the fields are getting really muddy with the melting snow so we may need to cut that back a bit.

When I was riding yesterday I was thinking how nice it was to ride without any pressure from upcoming shows or anything. As much as I miss competing in the off season, it is definitely kind of enjoyable. That certainly doesn't stop me from dreaming about renting a house in Ocala and staying there until April, but it helps the off season feel a little less depressing, knowing that there isn't any pressure.

I also jumped Ben 3'3" the other day for the first time in a while and he was a superstar. Oh, and that ditch simulation: I still can't fool him. I certainly fooled my friends mare, but Ben? No way. He's too smart for his own good...

I'm off to make plans that never come true in the horse world!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Brrr...

Okay it's cold. Like really cold. And I'm going to an event on Sunday. And it might snow.

The high for Sunday is 48 degrees. That is the high! Which means it will be 48 at like 3:00pm. Well, my dressage time is 8:48am and it very well may be snowing during it. Screw the polished presentation, I'm wearing my old warm, tan, warm, fleece, did I mention warm? breeches because I am not going to freeze my butt off. On the bright side, I'm done by 10:00am so we can pack up and get outta there! I'm bringing Ben's heavy blanket, cooler, quarter sheet, my Mountain Horse coat, and I'm wearing long sleeves cross country. I refuse to freeze!

Of course tomorrow we have to go walk the course in the pouring rain in 40 degrees so that will be fun too. But not nearly as much fun as getting up even earlier Sunday morning to walk the course in the dark would be. Which is why we're sucking it up and walking it on Saturday. I'm not looking forward to braiding in the cold tomorrow... Bring on the hand warmers!

So, my "I refuse to be cold" rant is now over and I can resume to the normal conversation of my blog. Ben has been really good lately. As he came back into work from his ulcer ordeal he was being super resistant of the bit so just for the heck of it, I put him in a thick mouth, super huge ring, single jointed, loose ring snaffle. He loves it. We don't jump in that because I don't have a death wish but his flat has been much lighter and softer in it. So we're sticking with that for a while. We've been practicing our test a lot. Of course this test has about five billion diagonals and my horse is terrible at straight lines because he can't rely on the rail or a bend and so he runs around with his head in the air. But we're working on it...

So, I'm very much looking forward to this weekend despite the weather forecast. I just want to come home clean! Literally, that's my only goal. Actually, I don't care if I come home clean, I just want to come home period!

He's been jumping super well and acting perfectly normal so we'll see how it goes. I plan on wearing my helmet cam so let's hope that works out. Who knows? Maybe it'll be snowing during my cross country round too...

I'm going to pop Ben over some fences today and try out a new idea I have for a ditch simulation. I'll let you all know if it works or not. Sometimes my horse is just too smart. "Don't be stupid mom, that's a tarp in between two trotting poles..." is often the response I get to any ditch simulation I try so we'll see if this will work...

Then tomorrow I'll do a flat lesson with my eventing trainer because she has an indoor and I don't...
Hopefully I'll thaw out in enough time tomorrow to give an update on how the ride went, and how the courses look.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Positive Update

I know that I never wrote a results post about the Frazier Farm HT. That would be because I was waiting for something positive to write about...

Took him to Frazier, parking field was an absolute mess which is where I would've lunged him so... there was no lunging. Warmed up for about 35 minutes, then went in to do dressage. We had an awesome test, very calm, pretty consistent, definitely one of our best. I thought the judge was a little harsh, especially considering it was a schooling show but we got a 42 putting us in 6th out of 10. There were only two scores in the 30s, one a 36 and one a 39, the rest were in the 40s. We even got a pretty green ribbon for placing in dressage. Unfortunately that was the only ribbon we came home with but I'll get to that later.

We then went to walk the XC course. It looked so fun! The course started with a little palisade type fence, then right turn to a big, fat log. Through the tree line to a rock/lattice type jump, then right turn downhill to a hanging log fence. Across the dirt road and left turn to a big rails and bales oxer-y type jump. Looked really fun! Then left turn uphill and across another dirt road to a log, bending line to a stone wall. Left turn after the wall to a log, a short gallop, then right turn, up a mound, over a log at the top, and down. Then a slight right bending line to bounce steps. How fun is that? Then uphill a bit to another log before going down an incredibly steep, long, slippery downhill with a big bank off down the bottom. I planned on walking down that. I really wish I had brought the camera with me because I would have loved to have both a picture of the top of the hill down, and the bottom of the hill up. Describing here just doesn't give it credit. When I made my move up to Novice there last fall, we had to jump up the bank and go up the hill. I never imagined they would ever make anybody go down it! Once off the bank of doom, you made a left turn to a skinny chevron fence then straight ahead to a drop fence made of logs. Another left turn over a raised log, then up a hill and off a stone wall bank. Then a nice long, straight, flat gallop to the last fence and over the final log.

I was so excited to ride xc because there was no ditch and no water and I was absolutely sure that we would go clean. Frazier runs dressage-xc-stadium so off I went to go get Ben ready for xc. He warmed up just fine, a little behind my leg which was unusual but I didn't think anything of it. Out of the start box, getting slower and slower to the first fence, crawl over the first fence. That earns a smack with the crop and he shoots off into normal xc Ben. Come up to the log, get there with a funny distance and major chip but we made it alright. Locks on to fence number three and stop about 4 strides out. Smack, circle, re-approach. He stops, and starts to climb. Seriously. We physically climbed over this fence as in, hooves stepping on the fence, up then down. I would've called it a day right then and there but about 3/4 of the horses had had a stop at that fence so I though it was just the jump. Make the turn to four, wiggle all the way down to that, have to give all I have to get him over it. Cross the dirt road, trot through the yucky footing there, pick up canter, he sees the line of jumps and stops about 15 strides out. That's when we called it a day. That was most definitely not my horse.

We call the vet. He draws blood as we suspect Lyme. Negative. Vet suspects beginning of ulcers. Bingo. Ben is now happily on Neigh-Lox (That name is so cute!) and he is back to his normal self not letting me catch him in the paddock and jumping around a little course today with ears perked the whole time:

I was just so happy to have my horse back! Obviously we did not attend the Ethel Walker School HT this weekend but the woman who bought my entry received 2nd place at her and her horse's first Novice so at least someone got to go and had a good weekend!

I am now planning on heading to Fall Mystic on October 30th and going Beginner Novice and coming home clear with my happy, healthy horse!

As always, thanks for reading!

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Plan, A Realization, and One Exhausted Horse

It's a nice feeling to know that everything is on track for once, both with my horse and just in general.

So this realization that I speak of came along while rewatching my King Oak videos. I know why he stopped at the stadium fence now. Sometime between dressage and stadium, I'm thinking stadium warm-up, he must've done something silly to his right hind leg. He was off, just a bit, in our stadium round. 

His left lead is always the better one, he'd rather be on the left than the right any day. Watching the video, he landed off the first fence then immediately changed to his left and then flipped right back to the right. As a side note: my horse apparently does tempi changes! As we came around the corner, I trotted to do a simple change because he wasn't doing the flying. Trotted, asked for canter again, he still picks up the right lead. By that time, I was turning onto my line, so I decided not to fuss with it too much. But as we made the turn, he did a flying to the left lead about three strides out from the fence, probably said "Ow, that hurts," because he was pushing from his right hind, and then stopped at the fence.

Then, watching the whole rest of the course, he was either crossed if he was on the left lead up front, or on the right lead. So, at least that explains the stop. I feel a little bad that I didn't feel the lameness, but it was mild. My trainer was even there schooling us and she didn't notice it so that makes me feel a little better. Plus, he still felt like dumping me at the ditch and taking off so it couldn't have hurt that much. He had a day off after the event anyway, so whatever was going on was solved by that and he is perfectly sound now.

I have made up a final plan for the ending to our eventing season. My hope is that it will instill confidence in both of us and we can come back next season ready to be competitive at Novice and then prep for our move up end of next season. The first thing on the list for this month is Frazier Farm Fall Horse Trials on October 2nd. This is a schooling show. It has no ditch, just a small water pass through, and a step up. We will be going Novice here due to the lack of ditch. This is where we made our move up to Novice last fall and we placed second. Hoping for a repeat performance!

Then we will go to Ethel Walker. I think I am going to go Novice after all because the only thing stopping us is the ditch but there's a ditch on Beginner Novice too. It might be smaller than the Novice one but that doesn't really matter much to Ben. The plan is to walk before the ditch, loopy reins, eyes up, and kick on. I don't care about the time, I don't even care if he steps back a couple of times and they count it as a stop or two. I just want to get over the ditch, and cross the finish flags.

Then we will finish off the season at Novice at Fall Mystic. I think this is a great plan that will work out really nicely. My goals for these three events:
1.) Have improved dressage and preferably score below 40. I'd even take below 42 at this point.
2.) Cross the finish flags on cross country at every event.
3.) Clean stadium rounds. No more silly stops, whether due to lameness or not!

Basically I just want to have three solid phases. Not too much to ask I don't think.

So the exhausted horse part of this title? We moved Ben to the new barn at the beginning of the month and he is turned out on 2 acres of steep hills and grass with a 5 year old Oldenburg. All the two of them do is gallop around and play all day. When it comes time for me to bring him in and ride, he is falling asleep in the crossties and literally does not want to move. I actually had to ride him with a crop yesterday.

We rode our test for Frazier yesterday and he was really good. Then I popped on him bareback for a few minutes. See, I told you he was really tired :-)

It's raining pretty hard here today so I'm thinking even our fabulous rubber footing will be a little too wet and slick to ride today so he'll get to rest inside today. Tomorrow we have a jumping lesson which will actually be the first time he's jumped since King Oak which is weird. We'll see how he does.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm Terrible At This...

Once again I have failed at updating my blog. Sorry. Again.

Things unfortunately have not been going terribly well for us due to a number of reasons. The most important thing is that Ben is healthy and sound and working great at home.

Last I wrote, we were headed off to the Lord Creek Horse Trials. Ben was braided, ready to go, all cleaned up. Lifted his front hoof to pick it - loose shoe. No farrier at the show. No show for us.

I was really disappointed because I had already gone and walked the course and I really believed he would have rocked it and we would have done really well. Lord Creek is like our home field because we school there all the time and he is always really calm there.

I was going to go out there and school the full Novice course just like it was at the event, but the day I was supposed to go to run it, it poured and the ground was too soft.

So without any sort of cross country experience since ENYDCTA in July, we headed out to King Oak Horse Trials this past weekend. We stabled overnight which is always fun. I like meeting new people and talking to them about their rides.

Our Sunday started off with an okay dressage warm-up and a not so stellar dressage test. I had a sand ring but it was surrounded by woods which was most definitely not helpful as Ben was the lookiest he has ever been in a test. He rushed through the whole thing and was just not paying attention at all. We scored a disappointing 49.1 which put us in 15th out of 16. But hey, at least it wasn't a 50 and at least we weren't last!

His dressage perfromance at shows is just so depressing for me because I am really the only person who knows what he is capable of. My trainer and everybody else for that matter thinks that that is the best he can do, which it most defintely is not. When he is calm and focused he can score a 33 on a Training level test! Everybody keeps trying to tell me that he has come such a long way since I got him, and its true, he defintely has. I just wish he would show more of it off when it really counts. One day I am sure he will surprise me and he'll just be perfect. Let's hope it's sometime soon...

We warmed up great for stadium, he felt awesome. The course wasn't terribly difficult but the fences were certainly maxed out and the ring was tiny. We went in and hit the perfect spot to the first fence. Going into the second fence I was fussing with my lead too much and got him too far behind my leg and we had a silly stop at the second fence. Oops, my fault entirely. I need to realize that Ben is more sensitive than he seems sometimes and I need to start thinking about how what I do will affect him before I do it. Then we won't have silly things happen to us like that. The rest of the course went flawlessly and aside from that stop, we had a clean round with a few time due to the stop. I was still very happy with him because it wasn't his fault.

Then we moved on to cross country. The first fence was out of the startbox, right turn, and downhill. Not the most inviting thing, but I wasn't concerned. The startbox was facing the woods however and right as I made the turn to the first fence, something in there caught his eye and we started backing up and leaping and refusing to go forward. I fianlly got him up to the base of the fence very stickily and he stopped right at it because he just couldn't jump it from where he was. So we came back around and jumped it fine. I later found out that the jump judges awarded us two stops when in reality it was only one. That made me a little mad but I suppose it didn't really matter.

Made it over two in the field just fine, galloped up the big hill into the woods, over the hanging log, dowhill, fly over the palisade, downhill, sharp turn, ditch.

I rode that ditch the hardest I have ever ridden any fence in my life. I did exactly what my trainer told me to do. There is not one thing that I would have done differently. Not a thing. And he took off for it. But only because the momentum was propelling him forward so much that he couldn't stop. And when he took off, I had a split second of being extremely happy that my horse was jumping the ditch. And then all of a sudden I was clinging to his neck and then I was on the ground, trying not to let me horse go running off on a tour of the property. Again.

He JUMPED THE DITCH, landed his front feet on the other side, and BACKED BACK OVER THE DITCH, right out from under me. Wouldn't it have just been easier to continue going over it? No, of course not, because this is Ben we're talking about.

I was fine of course, I actually landed on my feet, until my horse kind of pulled me onto the ground trying to get away from me. And he did. And he took off. Obviously he was caught and he was in big trouble for the rest of the day... He's lucky he is so well loved.

So there is some extreme re-evaluating to do about what the rest of this season brings. Last season was such a great experience. We did our first two Beginner Novices together, moved up to Novice, and got a ribbon at every Novice we did that season. This spring we had a bit of a rocky start with a combined test in April where he was absolutely nuts and then a pretty good run at our first event back in May, with a silly stop on xc. After that, I knew our season would go better and we might have even been looking at a Training move-up in 2012 if things panned out.

I've only completed one event this season and it kills me to say that because I know we are so much better than that. The two events I didn't get to attend at all, Frazier due to the weather and Lord Creek due to his shoe, I think we had a really great shot at.  And in all honesty, it is only one aspect that we are having trouble with. If he jumped ditches, we would have come home clean at every event we went to this season.

So the plan of action for now is go Beginner Novice at Ethel Walker on October 16th, just to have a good run for both of us. Then bump back up to Novice at Fall Mystic the last weekend in October because we've already ridden that course twice and I know he can do it. Then we're going on a two day cross country school early November with my trainer where we go to two different cross country schooling areas and jump every ditch we can find until he's over it. Then spend the winter doing the indoor schooling jumper series at the hunter/jumper place a few miles away from us, and then come back out next season better than ever, with new and improved dressage, awesome jumping, and no fear of ditches. Obviously with horses plans never actually happen so that is my little dream world under ideal conditions. I think that this can work and I am so looking forward to turning the page, and getting all of this negativeness behind us.

Thanks for reading and giving me a place to vent.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Horse Is Brilliant

So after having three days off due to crappy weather, I brought Ben down for my jumping lesson last night. I lunged him in the indoor and then got on only for my trainer to say "Lord Creek (the event this weekend) is really hilly, so I'm going to open the gates and you guys can just extend the ring so you're doing your flatwork up and down hill."

Fabulous, Ben has had three days off and the first thing we're doing is going up and down hill and in order to do that, we needed to jump the small ditch every time. He was actually fairly good about the actual jumping but there were four of us in the lesson so he was getting excited and we had a little bit of random bucking.

He ended up settling down eventually and then we started jumping the big ditch which he was also good about. Then we started warming up over a couple of jumps, and then we put a course together.

The course was a jump on the center line, left hand turn and up the diagonal to an oxer, out over the big ditch (which is about 2 1/2 feet wide), over a tiny little rail out on the grass, back downhill into the ring and over a vertical, right 90 degree turn to the center jump, left 90 degree turn to a drop fence out of the ring, over the house jump, up the hill, down the bank, back in over the big ditch, and over the jump in the center again. Quite a long jumper derby style course. Ben has never jumped any of the cross country fences except the ditch and the bank. He had never been over the drop fence or over the house jump. We were sent out first. Everything was going just fine until we came up to the house and he slammed on the brakes. I assumed he was just surprised by the fence being there, until he stopped two more times.

Finally I walked right up to the fence, only to see that there was a chair on the other side that nobody had seen prior. Somebody had brought it out there to sit while they grazed their horses and never moved it. So they moved the chair and over Ben went without an issue. So that is why my horse is brilliant. He made me so proud and made me feel so safe that he knew something was wrong and wouldn't take any chances.

So then we went through the course again without any issues:

He was a very good boy and we are very excited about Sunday!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Quite A Few Updates...

Well, I have been very bad at blogging lately... Ooooops!

So, because there is so much to write about, I figured that I would just limit myself to a small paragraph per topic... This might be difficult!

1. The last thing I wrote about was the CDCTA dressage show where we did very well. We were supposed to continue on to Frazier Farm Horse Trials on August 7th, but we ended up scratching when we awoke to pouring rain. Normally, I would just push on and go, but Frazier doesn't have fantastic footing on the best of days, so I decided it was safer to save Ben's legs and pass. So next up is Lord Creek Horse Trials coming up this Sunday.

2. Speaking of Lord Creek Horse Trials, I took Ben schooling there on Friday. We just stayed in the top field because the course is obviously closed but there is a pretty nice stadium course and a few xc fences in the top field. He was a little excited and a little bucky but settled in pretty well and was jumping great. And then, the trainer who teaches us there was nice enough to drive me down to the xc course to show me the newest addition to the Novice course... a ditch and wall. Oh great. I really do think that he will be fine though because the ditch is small and kind of just acts like an extended groundline. I'd be surprised if he even noticed it. Regardless, I'm going to keep my crop at the ready just in case...

3. Just a quick note too: For some bizarre and annoying reason, Blogger is not allowing me to make comments on my posts. Therefore, if you leave me a comment I can't respond. I promise I see them though! And if you ever want to ask me a question or something, I will answer it/respond to it in a post. Sorry about that guys!

4. Looking back on my posts, I realized I never did write a post about the barn we are going to which I can't believe because I am so incredibly excited about it! We are officially moving on September 3rd. It is a brand spanking new 4-stall barn that is literally 5 minutes from the barn we are at now. All the stalls have two windows that open and have custom drop down fronts so they can stick their heads out when we want them to be able to. The stalls are 12 x 12 and matted. Every stall has its own locker for tack storage and such and I swear it is bigger than my closet. I can probably fit four of me inside it comfortably. They are nice enough to let us keep our trailer there too which is always a nice thing to be able to do. There is a heated viewing area for the ring and a heated bathroom which is a huge improvement from where we are now because we don't even have a bathroom at our current barn.

Now I am going to break my one paragraph rule because I'm just too excited about this barn! The ring is 100 x 200 and its going to be fully lighted and have rubber footing. There are huge grass turnouts and a wash stall. The hay loft has drop doors over every stall so you can just grab the hay and drop it in. The stalls have webcams in them so you can just go online and check in on your horse whenever they are inside. Ahh, so excited! There will definitely be many many pictures when we do move!

Hmm, I feel like there is so much more to write about because I haven't posted in so long but I'm blanking on all of the things that I wanted to talk about. Oh well, it will come to me later. I'm off to the barn to muck and practice my quarter mark skills because I would love to be able to show off Ben's awesome butt. Its been pouring here all day so no riding and poor horsies have been inside all day. I promise I will try to be better about posting! If all else fails, I will defintely be wearing my helmet cam this Sunday and there will be a post about the event!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 25, 2011

CDCTA Results

Man, when we do something, we do it right!

As I'm sure you all remember, my goal for the last three shows has been to get a dressage score in the thirties. I'm sure you also know that has not happened for us.

Well, it sure did this weekend!

We did Novice Test B which went okay. I did this because it is the Novice test that we have the most trouble with and I wanted to practice it and get feedback on it in a low stress environment. It was certainly the best test thus far but he was rushy which led to some unbalanced moments. His canter transitions, both up and down, are improving alot. We had one bobble in this test where our trot transition was really late, so our walk transition was really late and those two movements scored us a 5 and a 4, respectively. Of course we still managed to pull off a 39, so I was thrilled! I didn't think things could get much better...

Then we did Training Test A, mostly just for fun because I was sick of doing the same two Novice tests at every show. We went in the ring and totally rocked it! It felt so awesome. There were certainly things that could've been better. Our trot lengthenings were not as spectacular as they could be, we never really came back from our canter lengthening, our stretchy circle can be a lot more consistent, and our last canter trot transistion was kind of yucky, but there were so many good things about it that it was just fantabulous!

So I go to check scores, thinking I probably got between a 38 and 41, because the Training judging is obviously going to be tougher than Novice. We got a 33. Yes, a 33. I really could not believe it and I was so incredibly proud of my horse. On top of that, we got two blue ribbons! Okay, okay, I was the only one in Training A and it was only me and a friend in Novice B and she got a 40 and I got a 39, plus it was her horse's first show ever but still... TWO BLUE RIBBONS!!! (How's that for run-on sentence of the year?)

It was definitely a much needed pick-me-up after what happened at ENYDCTA and I'm excited for Frazier, our next event, because it is a low key event, and a really easy going course.

In other exciting news, we are moving to our new barn on September 1st! I think I told you all about it, at least I hope I did! This is a link to a video of it that we made to send to a friend and her mom when we were looking at it because they were on vacation. My mom is narrating...excuse her:

The barn is brand new and just so beautiful. I can't wait to move! I'm going to go back and check and make sure I told you all about it, because if I didn't, I'm going to need a whole post to tell you everything there is to know!

Ben is getting the day off today for being so spectacular and tomorrow I think we're going to do a jump school since he hasn't jumped since ENYDCTA. I shall let you all know how that goes tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

ENYDCTA Results

Sorry this is so so late! I just got back from vacation yesterday in the early evening and then I had to go ride Ben. The night before ENYDCTA I tried to upload the virtual course walk but the hotel internet connection was being funky and was driving me crazy. Then I came home Sunday, fell into bed, packed all day Monday, and left Tuesday which left no time for typing this post. Sorry!

Saturday early afternoon, we headed up to the barn. There was a lot of traffic going up and we live a half hour away, so we got to the barn a bit later than we intended. I gave Ben a bath and we packed up the last minute things. We hitched up the trailer and off we went. At this point we were already an hour behind schedule.

The drive ended up taking us 3 hours instead of the 2 hours and 20 minutes it was supposed to. We didn't arrive at the event until 7:00 pm. We parked the trailer, found his stall, hung his water and put down bedding. Then we put Ben in there with some hay and went to walk cross country. The original plan had been to get there, walk xc to give him time to settle, and then ride him. It was getting dark so I just decided not to ride him, which was kind of crazy of me since this is Ben we're talking about. I had no other choice though, and so we started walking xc at about 8:00. The course looked really fun, there were quite a few beefy fences and quite a few tricky combinations, but there didn't seem to be anything we couldn't do. The two things I was worried about was the water, only because Ben is not so sure about man made water complexes yet and the ditch, which was huge for Novice. Everybody was saying how big a ditch it was for the level. It was at least three feet wide. Neither Ben or me had ever jumped a ditch that big before but I was determined that if I kept my eyes up, leg on, stick ready, heels down, seat and shoulders back, and hands wide, we would be absolutely fine.

Here's the course walk:
1 - Welcome Rails

2 - Brush Box

3 - Gray Coop

4 - Stacked Planks

5A - Bench
5B - Bench

6 - Ditch (Looks tiny in this picture!)


7A - Step Up
7B - Narrow Brush


8 - HVFS Barrels

9 - Roadside Rails

10 - Bales & Rails

11 - "Cash Splash" Water

12 - Palisade

13 - Table

14 - HVFS Log

15 - Feeder

Then we walked stadium which looked hard but good. I like hard stadium courses because that is a lot of people's weakest points but stadium is our strongest point. When there is a hard course it usually moves us up in the placings.

The course started as an oxer to vertical outside line with a long 5/holding 6. Then around to a vertical on the diagonal, bending line to an oxer on the centerline. Then around to a vertical off a short turn on the long side, 90 degree turn to a two stride, vertical to oxer. Right turn to a plank vertical on the short side, to a rolltop vertical on the long side, bending line to an oxer. It looked really fun.

The next morning we got there at about 8 am. I fed him his breakfast, picked up my packet, took him for a walk around the grounds, and braided him. Then I tacked up, got dressed, and lunged him. Then we headed up to warm-up where we warmed up for about 25 minutes, then headed in to do our test. He was so good in warm-up, and so relaxed. We were cantering by horses and everything and he didn't even think about bucking.

I had made it my plan to just go into the dressage ring and keep the relaxation and not worry about his head. I figured that it was better to make a nice, relaxed circle and get a 6, then to try and get an 8 and end up with a 4. That was by far the best dressage test we have ever had. He was relaxed, quiet, had an awesome rhythm, was working through his back, and was just great in general. Unfortunately, we ended up with a 43 and I have no idea how. That put us in 9th out of 12th which I was okay with, I just thought we deserved something a little better.

This is a picture of us in our dressage test that I absolutely love, despite me looking down and having my hands in my lap... :


Then we moved on to stadium. He warmed up really well, was really bold and going for the longer spots as usual. Meanwhile, the course was eating people alive and rails were flying. All of the verticals were very upright with minmal groundlines and the oxers were all maxed out. And whose horse was one of only three in the division to not knock any rails? Mine was! Unfortunately, we did pick up a stop at the second to last fence. In his defense, however, every single horse either looked at the rolltop and had a rail there, or stopped at it. Also unfortunately, he stopped so hard and so fast, that his head flew up and I got his neck into the right side of my face which ended up giving me a wicked headache, a cut on the inside and outside of my lip, a couple of loose teeth (which have returned to their normal state now, thankfully!), and a whole lot of blood. Luckily, he didn't get the middle of my face or he would've most definitely broken my nose.

Then came cross country. To get to the start box you had to go down two really steep hills that crossed over the xc track so Ben was kind of silly about that. By the time we got to the start box he was ready to explode so we just went into the start box and parked ourselves in front of the back rail until we got counted down.

First fence went wonderfully, as did the second, third, and fourth. The benches were a really long two strides apart, and we were really going so I decided to jump in and push for the two. He couldn't do it though so he ended up chipping to the second fence and landing in a trot. We regrouped and headed for the ditch. I did everything I was supposed to, kept my eyes glued up into the trees, heels down, etc. We got up to the ditch, he took one look and said no way. He proceeded to do this two more times and that was it. We were eliminated.

I was so annoyed with both myself and him because I knew that there was absolutely nothing that I could have done better. I wouldn't have ridden it any other way if I had the chance to do it again. It was also frustrating because ditches are just one component in a huge picture that is eventing that is keeping us from doing well at the level. Well, and dressage, but we're working on that! Plus, if we had run around cross country clean, we would've been 6th, so obviously dressage isn't the biggest factor.

So we need to work on ditches and a lot of them. Unfortunately, he will jump any kind of simulation of a ditch without an issue, so we can't use that to school. He will also jump any ditch 2 feet wide and under which all of the ditches I have available for schooling are. The one at Apple Knoll was an exception but that was only because I looked at it. So we are going to have to figure this out.

The next event for us is Frazier Farm Horse Trials on August 7th. That is a very easy, straightforward Novice which will be great for us. In the meantime, we're going to a dressage show on Sunday to do Novice Test B and Training Test A just for fun and experience. I guess we will evaluate and go from there but I also have to remember that he is still green and we've only been working together a year and half. And even though it feels like I've been competing him forever, ENYDCTA was only his 8th event ever and only his 6th Novice ever. Sometimes I just need to take a step back and look at the big picture.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

So I have finally found a short moment to sit down and write this post.

I have been running around like crazy trying to get everything ready for ENYDCTA this weekend, and getting things ready for vacation which is right after that. The event is Sunday and we're leaving for vacation on Tuesday. I'm very excited for everything, it has just caused a lot of things to do.

I had a lesson today and we did some xc stuff. Ditches and banks. Ben was incredibly good and so was his flatwork! He was so relaxed through his back and really pushing with his hind end. He was reaching for my hand and just being generally agreeable. It was fantastic!

I have a dressage lesson tomorrow, a jumping lesson Friday, Ben's getting his new shoes Friday afternoon, and then we're off to the event on Saturday. Busy, but very exciting!

Yesterday I rode and did a lot of canter work. Walk-canter-walk, leg yielding at the canter, counter canter, etc. He was so good. Hopefully he'll keep all of this up for the weekend. I'm bringing my laptop to the event, so I think that I will post Saturday night with a virtual course walk.

This is all I have time to write, I have to go organize my trunk to bring to the barn tomorrow!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Apple Knoll Professional Pictures

Link to the professional photographer's pictures from Apple Knoll Horse Trials. I want to buy almost all of the dressage pictures, they make it seem like my test went so well!


I promise I'll write a 'real' post soon, things have just been super busy lately!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

"Ohh Ben..."

I finally put together this video that everybody has been begging me to make for the last 8 months. I finally had enough clips to put in it, although I'm not sure that's such a good thing...


Enjoy! 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hooray for Sound Horses!

So, trotted Ben out today and he is finally sound! Yay!

Although it's only been 4 days, it feels like an eternity. He is now back out in his paddock, making trouble with his friend, Drew.

Tomorrow I'll start riding him again, probably just for 40 minutes or so, a lot of long and low. Of course, that will most likely not happen because he is going to be a firecracker after not working since Sunday at the show...

Should be an interesting ride tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Update on the Goober

Well, first off, I wasn't supposed to go to the barn until like 6 o'clock tonight. But I got a phone call from one of the boarders. The horses were outside and it was downpouring. She had brought all of the other horses in but Ben would not let her catch him. She had been trying for at least a half hour.

So up I went to the barn, just to bring my soaking wet horse in. He had been running around in the slippery mud and made himself even lamer. Wonderful. He had a very tiny amount of heat in the leg too. When I go back to the barn, he's getting hosed for 20 minutes, and if there's any heat left in the leg, he's getting poulticed. I'll give him a gram of bute at night and a gram in the morning and he'll stay inside all day tomorrow. If that doesn't help, I'll start to worry even more. Especially since ENYDCTA is less than three weeks away...

Silly horse.

Apple Knoll Horse Trials Results

Well, crap.

You never want to end a weeked with "RF" in the Final Place column. So obviously our weekend didn't go as planned. There were plenty of good things about the weekend, but there were certainly things that could've gone better!

On a very wonderful and exciting note, I have found a solution to my braiding woes! It is in the form of a hair gel called Ultra Glue. Enough said.

I had only 10, yes 10, reasonably sized braids that looked fantastic and stayed in all night!

On another good note, we got a perfect parking spot at the show, at the end of the row, so we had a whole side free, right next to the stadium and stadium warm-up and the dressage rings and warm-up just a few steps ahead!

I lunged Ben in the indoor, which was stadium warm-up, but nobody was in there yet. He was pretty good, kind of nervous and tense, but then started to settle a bit. There was still nobody in the indoor, so I decided to just warm-up in there. After mounting, and dealing with a good five minutes of bucking, backing up, leaping, kicking out, etc., I finally got him to go forward and we warmed up for about 25 minutes. He was okay. Not as good as I hoped he would be.

So we went in the ring to do our test. It was the usual: it had some awesome moments and some terrible moments. I just wish my horse could hold himself together for the four minutes we are in the ring. At one point, gathering him up from the free walk, he stopped dead for about 5 seconds, and in the left canter transition, he stopped and bucked. Ugh horse, get your act together! We got a 41 which put us in DFL after dressage. For you who do not know, DFL= Dead F***ing Last. Great.

I didn't let my test bother me too much though, and we had a great stadium warm-up (along with some exuberant bucking!) and a fantastic stadium round, despite him spooking at the flowers in front of the judges stand.

Video:

So then we headed to cross country. The course looked really fun, there was only one big fence that was a huge, wide table that was most definetely maximum width and height. The terrain would play a big factor because it was fields and woods. The fields were relatively flat, but the woods had really steep uphill and downhill.

The course started off in the first field where you went straight out of the start box and over a little log shared with Beginner Novice. Then uphill and to the right was a small, raised hogsback that brought you up into the woods. Then you had a steep downhill out of the woods, a few strides in the field to a rolltop. Then you headed slightly downhill to a little ditch. And I mean little. Tiny.

From the ditch there was a bending line to a feeder, then a short gallop up to a bench, and then a stone wall jumped into the woods. After a lot of uphill and downhill in the woods, there was a hanging log, a lot more uphill and downhill in the woods to another field, which had 9a and 9b in it. They were offset logs two strides apart. Then you galloped to the other side of the field to the previously mentioned huge table.

Back into the woods along a dirt road, you came across a very narrow house, then out into a small field to jump a triplebar/fruitstand type fence, and then a zigzag. Finally you galloped back into the woods along another dirt road, to the last fence, a hanging log.

The course looked really fun. Too bad I didn't make it past the ditch.

First 3 fences were fantastic. Slowed to a canter a bit before the ditch, let him break to trot to look at it...

Too bad I decided to look at it too. Note to self: do not look into ditches!

So combined with me being bad and looking in the ditch, and me being bad and leaning forward expecting a big jump, he ducked out and I went right over his shoulder. Plop.

Seriously one of the lightest falls I have ever had and I totally deserved it, it was just frustrating. But I sure was glad for my sense of humor as I laughed it off on the walk back to catch my horse who was running away. Thanks Ben, I love you too.

The best news of all: I was wearing my helmet cam:


Next stop is ENYDCTA in a little less than 3 weeks. I convinced my parents to let me go up the night before and stable since its 3 hours away. I'm so excited about that! I also think it will be really good for Ben to be there the night before and get used to his surroundings before he has to perform. However, now I am extremely paranoid that I am going to forget to bring something really important because I've never stabled overnight before! 

I was also supposed to have a lesson tonight, but when I was lunging Ben yesterday he took a funky step and was then a bit off on his right hind. Boo. I'm not too concerned, since I saw him do it and it was very subtle, but if he is sound today I'm only going to work him lightly, long and low, for about 30 minutes. Don't want to take any risks. I cold hosed him yesterday for 10 minutes so if he is not sound today, he'll get cold hosed for 20 and some bute. But I think he will be fine today.

Thanks for reading!