Saturday, January 21, 2012

Catching Up

Just though I would give a quick update. We got about a half a foot of snow today and I live about 25 minutes away from the barn. The roads were really bad so I didn't make it up there today but Ben had a fun day outside in the snow with his buddies. Tomorrow I'll probably goof around in the snow with him a bit.

We were supposed to go to the dressage show at my trainer's tomorrow but her driveway is downhill and when its snowy its hard to get up with a car nevermind a trailer so we probably won't bring Ben down there. Kind of a bummer but its okay, at least its not something big like an event.

I had a dressage lesson Thursday where we started Ben's changes. He got every change every time, even to his bad direction! He was a superstar.

The Area 1 Annual Meeting was last weekend and they decided on Fitch's Corner for the Area Championships again which makes planning next season much easier. I think I'm going to update the Eventing Schedule page again. I've also been putting some more research into the Novice 3-Day at GMHA. That is something that I would absolutely love to do. I think it'd be a fantastic experience for both Ben and me. It sounds like a ton of fun and a great opportunity.

Ben's been getting a little cranky lately, most likely due to too much dressage work. At this time of year, you either do a dressage school or you jump. There's no trail rides or walking down the street to the fields to condition because of the ground and the weather and I'm not going to jump that often so most of the time its dressage. When I do too much in a row he gets cranky and he needs a fun day. So today he got off and tomorrow we're going to play in the snow and then he should be ready to go.

In February we have two jumper shows at Westbrook. We are currently officially leading the standings for high/low jumper I just found out today which I am super excited about. In addition to those shows my trainer is holding her annual St. Jude's Jump-A-Thon. This is always a super fun outing, it will be Ben's first time going, because the weather was bad last year and I just rode my trainer's horses.

We do this to raise money for the St.Jude's Children's Hospital. You get pledges per jump you jump or just flat donations. There are four classes:

1.) Speed
This class is essentially a jump off class of a jumper show over a set course. Fastest time wins.
2.) Fault & Out
This class has a set course. You get two points for each jump you jump. If you knock a rail or get a refusal, you're done. If you go clean, you start the course again. You go as long as you can until you get a fault or time is up.
3.) Gambler's Choice
This class gives each jump a point value. The harder the jump, the more points its worth. For example, a small vertical is worth 20, while a skinny is worth 50. Last year the "joker" fence was a corner that was worth 150. You make your own course, with the goal to earn as many points as possible. You have a set time limit. You can jump each jump once each direction and if you knock it down you don't get the points.
4.) Slalom
This is everyone's favorite. The ring is split down the middle on the centerline. There are mirrored courses on both sides. Two horses on course at once. The one who crosses the finish line first wins. The winner of each heat graduates until eventually there is just two people left. The winner of that heat wins the whole thing. Mind you this is all done in a 20mx50m arena so things get interesting sometimes.

Its a lot of fun for a great cause, so February will be a busy month for us. Let's hope that the weather holds out for all of our plans.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hat Trick

I can't believe that I haven't written one blog post since the last jumper show! Not much has been terribly exciting, but seriously, it hasn't felt like this long!

Anyway, the second jumper show of the winter was Sunday. Ben and I tried our hand at three classes this time instead of just two. Remembering three courses is hard, but we managed to do it...barely.

It was a gorgeous day, only 43 degrees but beautiful in the sun. We got there, picked up numbers, learned courses, tacked up, and headed to warm up. Ben was awesome in the warm up. He was so calm, and going so nicely in the most gorgeous frame. His canter was to die for: calm, rhythmic, round, balanced, bent. I have been trying so hard to get him to canter nicely at home with no luck whatsoever. It's not on YouTube but I have a video that I can maybe upload later in the week just to show you guys how awesome he was being. I wished we were at a dressage show!

I warmed him up over some fences which he was great for. He was jumping fantastically and snapping his cute little knees up. We then had to wait around for about an hour before our classes started. One of these times we will show up at the perfect time where we warm up and go directly to our classes. I don't know how the hunter/jumpers deal with no ride times all of the time. I am not coping well! :-)

So our first course was outside, diaganol line, diaganol, outside line, crazy sharp left turn to a plank fence, then bending line to the last fence. The jump off was just the first five fences. Ben took a very good, hard look at the first fence. I don't know what it was about that fence but all of the horses took a good peek. So after we got over the uncomfortableness of that fence we rocked around the rest of the course, only momentarily almost crashing through and falling on our faces after the third fence. Oops. Somehow it stayed up and we finished the round clean. Ben made great work of the really tight turn even though I told him too late. He is such a good boy! We rocked the jump off except for one little super deep spot at an oxer and we won the class!

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

The second course is the class we didn't do last time. It was a power and speed class which means instead of stopping after the first course, as long as you're clear, you continue on to the jump off portion without stopping. It makes for quite a long course! In this case the regular course was fences 1-7 and the jumpoff was 8-12. Besides almost pulling the rail off of seven because I made a terrible job of the super tight turn to the fence and the awkward jump we had over the last jump, we jumped clean and won that class too.

Here's the second course:

Our last class was the simplest course yet the one that I almost forgot! It was outside, short side, outside, outside line, diagonal, bendling line to other diaganol, back to the other diaganol. That was probably a terrible explanation, sorry! I jumped the outside line, which we had been doing perfectly in six, but Ben decided he wanted to try to make it five, then changed his mind at the last minute so we had an awkward jump there. I sat up, recovered, then realized I had no idea where we were going. Luckily I rememberd at about the last possible second and you'll be able to see my crazy turn I made my poor horse make! So we finished that up clean, rocked the jumpoff except for almost demolishing the last fence, and won that class too!

Here's the video of the third course and jump off:

So we pulled off a jumping hat trick and came home with three blue ribbons and a champion ribbon. We are currently leading the jumper standings for the series too, so I'm really excited about that. This was really just supposed to be a fun thing to do to get Ben out and keep his head in the game for the winter. I really have a blast doing it, and I can't believe how good my horse is at it!

Next up is the little dressage show at my trainer's barn in a couple of weeks where we will be doing USEA Novice A and USEA Training A. We'll be working on those tests today when I school him. Here's to hoping that his canter is as gorgeous today as it was Sunday!

If I can get a minute, I'll upload those flat videos and post them sometime later in the week. As always, thanks for reading!