Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Let the Games Begin!

Okay, sorry for the title, the Hunger Games still has my mind reeling.

So long time, no post!

The last jumper show of the Reindeer Series was Sunday. We only jumped in one class, the Power and Speed, which we ended up winning, even though I said I wasn't going to go for time... What can I say? Once I was in there, Ben was having a grand old time and we just starting making tighter turns!

Here's the video from that:

We also were presented with our Reindeer Series Grand Champion award! We won a very huge ribbon and a cooler with 2012 Reindeer Grand Champion embroidered on it which is very cool! I've never won any prizes like this before, save for this one time at the ENYDCTA horse trials in 2009.

It was my first recognized event and my first Beginner Novice ever, and I was riding my trainer's 13.3 pony. We ended up winning. We won this awesome anti-sweat sheet, that had ENYDCTA Horse Trials written on it. Too bad it was a size 96! That was not going to fit my little 13.3 lease pony! I even tried to give it to a friend who had this massive 18.1hh horse, but it was even too big for him! So it eternally hangs in my garage because I don't have the heart to get rid of something that I won, but I can't do anything with it!

Other than that, I've only ever won prizes like horse cookies and tack shop coupons, which are great, but not the same thing as coolers or saddle pads or halters.

Here are some pictures of Ben and I being presented with our cooler and ribbon:

So Sunday was quite the fabulous day for us!

Today is the opening day for the very first event of the season, the King Oak Spring Horse Trials!!! Woohoo!!!

You can bet my entry will be going in the mail today because I am far too excited for eventing season to start! As I mentioned earlier, we are starting out at Beginner Novice so we should have a nice, stress-free first outing of the season. I promise I will be wearing my helmet cam which will be a whole lot of fun!

Today, Mr. Benjamin will get a pretty hefty dressage school. Tomorrow will probably be conditioning day, Thursday a dressage lesson. Not sure about Friday yet, and then Saturday we have a jumping lesson. There are only 18 days until the first outing for the season, a combined test, 30 days until Rolex (!), and 46 days until King Oak, which also happens to be my birthday! That gives me incentive to tell Ben "You'd better be good in dressage and go through the water, because it's my birthday!" Also, Ben's birthday is fast approaching, he will be 10 years old on April 1st!

So that's the tentative plan for the next month, I will be sure to keep everybody updated as we progress!

As always, thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

We're Famous!

Err...maybe its more like infamous...

Check Ben and I out on Eventing Nation!

I sent this to them a couple of weeks ago after rewatching the video and deciding it would make a lot of people laugh. So while it may not be for the best reason in the world, its pretty cool to see Ben and I on a site where most eventers go every day.

I don't have time for a proper post, but I promise one is coming!

Thanks for bearing with me when I don't always have time to write!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

It's That Time of Year!

This is around the time of year where I start getting really anxious for eventing season. Especially now that I've decided to drop down a level to start, I feel so ready and so pumped! So to keep from going crazy from the excitement, I do things like organize my trunk and start making my infamous 'Eventing Checklist'.

I am a big list person. When I clean my room, (which is tiny, by the way, maybe 12' x 12', maybe even 10'x10'... my sister got the good room...) I make a list of the order in which I will clean it. Such as, clothes first, then make the bed, then vacumm, etc. So as you can imagine, there are about fifty billion lists made for going to an event. And that's just a one day, forget about staying overnight. Of course, I am famous for leaving all these lists at home instead of bringing them to the barn with me. And then I freak out thinking that I am going to forget something because I can't quadruple check my list.

I have been known, on more than one occasion, to torture my dad and ask him to read me every last thing on my list that I left on the table, or the counter, or in my room, or downstairs to me over the phone.

I bring this up because I am sitting here, right at this very moment, composing my checklist for the 2012 eventing season! I haven't gotten very far because I keep getting distracted but so far I've got about half of my stuff down; like my boots and clothes. I haven't even begun to list my tack or anything belonging to Ben yet. We've got a long way to go!

Writing this post is basically a result of my procrastination of finishing this list. While I enjoy doing it, it takes a long time because I am obsessive over making sure it is perfect, and sometimes I need to take a break. Like now.

I also thought this would be a good a time as any to give a little update on the little brown horse. I did end up squeezing that ride in the other day when it was raining which was good because he had been inside all day. Besides getting rained/sleeted/snowed on about halfway through, he was actually really good considering he had had a day off before that, and was inside for the day. A little quick but really pushing from his hind end.

The next day was similar, not quite raining/sleeting/snowing this time but misting. It was dark and gloomy and apparently there were terrifying things beyond the hill outside the ring fence. The trot work was actually really good. The canter work was really bad. But, at this point, all things considered I'll take the trot work at the moment.

Today I took him to my lesson. I got on early to work him alone before all the other horses came in for the lesson and he was awesome. But the more horses that came into the ring, the worse he got. It's not like he gets excited, he gets distracted and want nothing to do with me because he's too busy looking around at other things. Plus, the indoor makes it hard because its small, there are five horses going at the same time, and there are jumps everywhere. This makes it really hard to do much more than just go around the edge of the ring, and he gets bored with that fast. Oh well, I have kind of come to accept that when he's in a lesson like that, the flatwork just isn't going to be that great.

I jumped him one round over a teeny course and he was really good but he was tired. I've been working him a pretty good amount lately and so I let him off the hook after the first course.

I'm changing the event schedule up a little bit so if anyone is interested in that, it's up at the top of the page. Tomorrow he's getting the day off and I'll probably jump him some time this week because I hardly did anything today.

42 days until the first show of the season!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Revamping My Attitude

People who know me could safely describe me as stubborn. You can tell me what is the best way to do something all day, but in the end, I'm probably going to end up doing what I want to do anyway.

Maybe that's not the best character trait. Sometimes it can be beneficial. Standing up for the right thing, doing what I think is in the best interest of my horse, not letting anything get to me, etc.

But more often than not, it gets me into some not so good situations, that not only affect me, but can also affect the people, and horses, around me.

What I'm getting at here is that I know that Ben and I are more than capable of competing very successfully at Novice. We've proven that in the past, placing 2nd in our very first Novice, earning an 8th place at out first recognized Novice after an awesome double clear cross country round, finsishing 2nd again at a recognized Novice...

However, at this point, given our experiences of last season, between the ditch issues and the ulcers and the crazy weather, a normal person would take a step back. Drop down a level, go schooling, take it slow.

Me? I was so focused on what other people around my riding level were doing (getting ready to move up to Training, placing at most Novices, etc.) that I was just pushing Ben to do what may not really be the best thing for him.

I did a lot of thinking about this last night. Could my horse go out and start the season at Novice? Absolutely. Could he jump around Novice cross country clear? No doubt about it (minus ditches unless we get to schooling them before the start of the season). Would he be better off being over confident stepping over Beginner Novice jumps for an event or two at the beginning of the season? Probably.

So, this thinking led me to tell myself to ditch the stubborn part of me that is saying "We'll show everyone that we can do Novice well and with no problems" and do what is right for my horse. It doesn't matter what anyone else is doing, as long as I'm doing what is best for Ben and me.

Just because he can do it, doesn't mean that it will be the best thing for his training and confidence in the long run. So I rewrote my eventing schedule at about one in the morning last night...

We have two combined tests in April and May, which we will do Novice at. That won't be an issue at all. Then the first event of the season, we'll just play around at Beginner Novice. He just needs to lope around a small, flat course and feel like a badass for a little while. This will also give us an opportunity to improve our dressage where the judging is a little softer.

The second event of the season is still a toss up. Unfortunately, its the week after the first one, so I won't be able to run him Beginner Novice for the first event and then decide if he should do another one or if we should move back up. At the moment, I'm leaning towards another Beginner Novice because it can't hurt. I may contact the organizer and see if she'll be willing to let me tell her the week before what division I want to compete in but there is a good chance she won't be able to do that, so I guess we'll start the season and decide from there.

A big part of this season for me was hoping to compete at the Novice Championships at Fitch's Corner. I think that was a huge reason for me not wanting to drop to Beginner Novice for the first event or two, because that would completely limit my qualifying events. However, I have just decided that if we end up qualifying at Beginner Novice, we'll go for Beginner Novice. If we don't qualify, then we'll head to Riga Meadow Horse Trials the weekend before to move back up to Novice. If we complete the Beginner Novice Championships well, I'll pick an event after that to move back up to Novice.

It feels good to forget about what everyone else is doing and just focus on Ben and myself. Turns out I am actually more excited for eventing season to start now that I have finalized this decision than I was before. Thanks for reading guys, and thanks for giving me a place to write out my thoughts.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Jumper Shows, Saddle Fittings, and Shopping Sprees

Long time no see, sorry about that!

There is quite a lot to write about since I have been seriously slacking in the blog updating department.

I guess I should start with the latest jumper show at Westbrook. We finally managed to judge the timing correctly so that we weren't standing around for hours waiting for our classes. Ben was a little excited at this past show. Okay, that's a major understatement. He was pretty much a psycho...

The courses were all really long and twisty and confusing and in the first course I completely blanked on where my next fence was in the jumpoff. So I halted for a split second, remembered, and finished up my course. Because I did actually come to a complete stop, they gave me 4 faults so we finished second even though we had the fastest time. Ben was a very good boy for just turning and immediately jumping when I finally remembered where I was going!

Prior to this not remembering thing, I also almost did a nose dive into a fence that Ben peeked at (don't jump ahead Jamie!) and then almost ran into a standard trying to make an inside turn after he took an oxer super long... It wasn't the prettiest round we've ever ridden!

Here's the video from round 1:

Round 2 was Power and Speed and was actually fairly decent. That is until the very last jump where we got the perfect half stride and he just couldn't snap his knees up quickly enough. So we just took every single rail with us, no big deal... We did actually end up winning this round because out of five of us, only two of us remembered the course and the other girl didn't take any inside turns in the speed portion.

Round 2:

And that brings us to round 3 where Ben decided that the jump he had just jumped twice in the round before (not completely willingly, but still...) was going to eat him this time around. So he stopped. No jumpoff for us but we did have the fastest time out of the four faulters so we earned third.

Round 3:

Moving on to the shopping spree...

We ventured on our third annual trip to Dover and I bought entirely too much stuff. I think we spent like $400... (I love you mom!)

Off the top of my head, things that I bought:

-Two big containers of the UltraShield fly spray. Those were $55 but they're raising the price to $58 for this year so we decided to buy two to last for this whole fly season before the price went up. So that was over $100 right there but its totally worth it to buy those there and not have to pay the extra shipping for the 'heavier' items.

-I bought a pretty new jump saddle pad for Mr. Benjamin. It's black with gold and cream trim on the outside which you will see featured in the Jumpathon videos that I am going to put up. It looks very handsome on him.

-I bought another Epona scrubby bath cloth. I love those things so much. We recently had a mouse infestation in out locker at the barn (completely and totally disgusting!) and they ate mine... So now the mice are taken care of and my new scrubby is tucked away in a bin where it can't be eaten if they were to return!

-Bought Ben an anti-sweat sheet for the summer because the only cooler type things I have are fleece. It's blue and looks pretty snazzy on him!

-We also bought this stall front storage bag that hooks onto blanket bars or the bars of the stall and holds whatever you want it to. I figured this would be really good for stabling at events.

-Along the line of good for stabling at events is also the saddle carry case that we bought. It has a handle so it can hang somewhere without needing to bring along the saddle rack because that takes up so much space.

-I bought a new black belt. Its an Ariat and was normally $40 but I found it for $17 in the clearance bin.

-I also bought a couple of new tack cleaning things. I bought some Passier Lederbalsam which I have been meaning to buy for about a year now and I bought some Nevr-Dull because the metal polish I have is goopy and gross to use.

-I bought a new pair of riding gloves because my everyday ones are absolutely shot. They have holes everywhere and the grippy stuff is completely worn off most of the fingers...

-I bought a fancy new black leadline to match Ben's new black halter I bought him at the Equine Affaire.

I'm positive that there are a few more things but I have yet to actually go through and properly organize everything into the 'horse closet' so I can't remember them directly off the top of my head.

So on that note, next up was the Jumpathon. I believe I mentioned the Jumpathon before in a previous post but in case I'm imagining things, or in case you didn't read that one, it is a little jumper show my trainer puts on at her barn every year to raise money for St. Jude's Children's Hospital. It's a lot of fun for a great cause. You gather donations either per jump, or just a flat donation. We raised close to $8,000 this year!

This was the first year I brought Ben along because it was the first year I thought that he could handle himself. He was a super star and didn't mind the screaming, yelling, cheering, and clapping that is all a part of the Jumpathon one bit! He ended up winning all three of the classes I put him in, he was such a rockstar!

The first class was the speed class, where you just go as fast as you can through a prescribed couse, and whoever has the fastest time wins:

Then came Fault & Out where you jump a prescribed course as many times as you can until you either get a fault or you run out of time. You get two points for every jump you jump and whoever has the most points before time is up wins:

Finally there was Gambler's Choice where each fence has a certain amount of points. If you clear it, you get that many points added to your score. Harder fences are worth more then simple fences. You get a certain amount of time to ride a course that you make up and whoever gets the most amount of points wins. Ben was an absolute star for this and made a LOT of crazy turns for me:

And here is a bonus picture of us hanging around waiting for our next class just because he's so cute in it:

 And last but not least, to finish up this already much too long post, we had a saddle fitter out Monday. Turns out Ben's dressage saddle was in a major need of a reflocking (this is going to sound terrible, but I bought that saddle used and had NO clue that it was wool flocked... I though it had the CAIR panels like my jump saddle does... Oops)

So we got that done and she also told me that in both saddles I should change the gullet to the next size up but otherwise the jump saddle fits great and the dressage saddle should be much better now and he should feel a lot better now. I feel a little guilty because it was his saddle bothering him but I purposefully haven't been riding in that saddle because I knew he was acting funny in it.

So it is a nice relief to know that that issue is all fixed up and I can't wait to ride him in it now and see how he is. It rained yesterday and it's raining today but I might be able to squeeze a ride in between rain showers.

One more thing, back in November I ordered a new cross country bridle from Pink Equine and I finally got it not too long ago in the mail. It is gorgeous and I absolutely love it!

And here he is wearing it:

So excited to use it! Eventing season is approaching quickly!
So apologies again for not posting for so long and then writing a novel... I promise I'll try to be better!
As always, thanks for reading!!!