Friday, January 11, 2019

My mare is the best mare

So there was the 2 weeks off due to my vacation. Then there was another  week off due to being sick (there was a short road/trail ride before I was officially sick). After 3 weeks off, and having about 75% of lung function, I saw this and couldn't resist.  Yep.  That is a jump grid.
Jomps?! Finally something other than flatwork?! YES please!
Can I say how awesome my mare is? On Sat and Monday I free lunged her and while she had some go, she wasn't nutso. On Tuesday I felt good enough to try to ride, saw the grid and I threw on my jump saddle. I forget sometimes how amazingly comfortable the damn thing is. 

I couldn't do more than a couple laps of two point at a time, but we went over the tiny little crossrails like a boss and Mia never set a single foot wrong.  The entire ride. Even when we did them all at angles. No speeding up, no taking off, no hesitating, no spooking, no acting like an idiot, she acted like we had been doing this every day for the past 3 months and was bored to tears. GAH I love this mare!

On Wednesday, they had taken down the 3rd jump but still had jump standards up for the first 2 jumps. So of course I had to jump again! This time I put the jumps up to 2' (eventually 2'6") verticals. Want to know what my mare did? She stopped this ripe idiot from falling off. Yep. So I started down the line at a trot (it was set as a canter-in distance) knowing we needed to be forward. Butttttt this rider sat there like an idiot. We went over the first jump okay enough. At the second jump, Mia was not at the right distance. The idiot was leaning forward from the awkwardness of the first jump. Mia WANTS to jump, so she does despite being at a virtual standstill (and no leg from rider). Idiot rider has no contact, no leg, no position, and does a small airs above the saddle.  What does Mia do? On the landing, she stopped and glared at me with her left eye. She didn't shift, she didn't sidestep, she didn't pause, all of which would have helped the rider fall off. Instead she looked at the idiot with a "WTF is your problem" expression.

She got lots of treats and lots of apologies for the rider not doing... well, anything, and for a thank you for not letting me fall off. All she would have had to have done is stepped, anywhere really, and I would have slid right off. I haven't come that close to falling off in a very long time, I am so happy with her. Low and behold, that was enough to snap my stupid idiot self out of whatever and we rode to every fence like seasoned professionals and had not a single incident afterwards.
I am good mare, so more treats?!
On the plus side, my saddle makes it SUPER easy to hold position. It is super comfortable to ride in and my horse was amazing. The downside is a really long ago habit apparently has popped up. At a bad spot, I bring my hands to my belly. Which helps exactly no one. The plus side is that when I do this, I open my hands (literally) and I never ever pull on the reins! The down side is when I land, I then have either A. super long reins or B. no reins.  Adding this issue to the "need to fix again" category.

It is now Friday and I am about 95% recovered from being sick. I have FELT fine since Sunday, however my lung function has been significantly diminished until this past day or so. I had to bow out of a clinic with Allie Sacksen due to my health (or lack thereof), but fingers crossed she will be back and I will be in fighting form. I hope everyone else has been riding and has avoided this death cold!

Friday, January 4, 2019

Back from vacation, just in time to be sick

Vacation was awesome. I visited Covell's Clydesdale Ranch and rode a Clydesdale. I rode a horse on the beach. I spent a lot of time on the beach, actually. Lots of sun, lots of sand, and nary a bit of the rain that has been inundating us here in the northeast.

I found out about Covell's Clydesdale Ranch from Karen at Bakersfield Dressage. She had taken a ride on them and recommended them.
While I am overall happy with the experience, nothing bad happened and I got what I paid for, I left disappointed. The ride wasn't nearly as long as I expected, the horses hadn't been groomed (ie. caked on mud) and the guide spent the entire time chatting with a friend who came along.
Thunder was my ride
Oh well, bucket list checked off. It wasn't a bad experience, perhaps I had built it up in my head too much? I thought it was a 1-2hr ride (45 mins, with 10 min halt break), I thought the tour guide would be interactive (she wasn't, unless I asked her questions), I thought we were doing more than riding to the top of a hill in a cow pasture (I thought it was riding through hills, not to the top of a single, long hill).
Walking after cows in the pasture
The ride on the beach was much better, despite it being a mess. I was supposed to go out with another guy and the guide and there was another group of 4 beginner riders.

My ride, Apache
Before I showed up, the guy threw a fit and refused to ride with me so I had to ride with the beginner group. I didn't really care, it just meant nose-to-tail walking for the entire ride. However this caused issues in which horses were assigned because "my" horse was a jigger if he didn't "run a lot" first. They asked if I would be ok with the horse originally intended for the 2nd group's tour guide and the 2nd tour guide would ride the jigger. I was fine with that, though "my" horse is now the only horse afraid of water. *eyeroll* 

Bucket list, riding a horse on the BEACH!
Overall the ride went very well. I was super happy to have not had the jigging horse, bc the tour guide did not have an enjoyable ride. At ALL. My horse was decent enough, his issue was actually the waves going out vs afraid of water He got disoriented and didn't like the sinking feeling. I tried showing him that it was ok when he would look to the shoreline, but I only got him in the water a half dozen times and I wasn't going to spend my ride training him.

On the trails at the beach
There was a black and white draft cross who LOVED the water and kept trying to go deeper. It was fun watching this beginner rider try to haul this horse back up to shore when the horse kept trying to go swimming. HA!  I would recommend them, and they were quite affordable. My guide, Kira, was very amusing and interactive.
Baby medium trot developing
The downside of riding in a western saddle two days in a row, they were both square seats and I actually bruised my seatbones. Ouch! It kinda hurt to sit for a couple of days. #Vacationproblems. Getting home was actually pleasant, the airline upgraded us to first class on the flight to Chicago so the long flight was enjoyable.  After we got home, SO got sick. Then I got sick. And now we are both sick. Lots of coughing, sneezing, and nose blowing has left me with a very, very sore nose and a possible pulled rib muscle.  SMDH.  I did ride Mia on a short ride on the road New Years Day and then for about 20 mins yesterday. She was foot perfect and while I have a little work in getting balance and stamina back, we will get there. Just in time for the deep freeze of winter haha.

Need to get back to this
I haven't been following blogs, many apologies. I hope everyone had a great holiday and good new year and is doing well with their ponies! Fingers crossed that I will be feeling better by next week and I can finally get back to a regular program again.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

So many blog failures - An update on us

My big comeback into blogging obviously didn't happen. I have been hella busy with life, the day job, the side job, and the two hobbies that everything has become hyperfocused and blogging just...isn't along that line. So, a quick recap?

Doing really good. We have been lucky in getting one lesson a month from M, who is now coming to do monthly clinics at our barn. Having this has skyrocketed our progress, faster than I ever thought possible. This happened despite often being away for 1-2 weeks at a time due to life/hobby stuffs. Mia has now developed a counter canter in both directions, can do a shoulder in in the canter both directions, some lateral work in the canter and we are now playing with medium trot and canter/walk transitions (walk/canter is already done).  Also, after 5 years of ownership, Mia's crack on her right front due to her clubby foot has actually GROWN OUT!  I am switched to a barefoot trimmer last July-ish and she has done amazing things with my horses feet, including making Mia's club tendency foot grow out to be normal which has let the crack grow out. Mia doesn't have a crack in her hooves anymore!!

Also doing good. The barn has been letting him free range (at 25.5 years of age, he is FINALLY reliable enough to do this) during the day to keep his motion up.  It is still a struggle to keep weight on him, but I think that is also due to some of the inconsistent husbandry (or lack thereof) I face for them, but overall he is doing well. Over the summer he had a very large grape sized lump in his armpit.  The vet looked at it and said it was likely a sarcoid, but she didn't want to biopsy it bc of the location. It wasn't really attached to anything, it didn't seem to bother App, so it was wait and see. Imagine my surprise when it completely went away, completely. It was the size of a VERY LARGE GRAPE and it shrunk to nothing.  *shrug* who knows? 

I have continued issues with the barn. With inconsistent care, issues with one of the barn owners, issues with the lack of hay given by the weekend worker, and other stuff, I was putting up with it because I know how difficult finding good barns can be and I was told this is the best barn in the area. The issue is that it is a 32 mile, one way drive for me. A good 45 min drive, one way, to see the horses. When the barn owner (that I have issues with) told me they were increasing board $50 a horse, that was the last straw. I started looking and have found another barn that is only 7 miles from my house. It is a very large barn that is now very small, it used to be a large show barn but they have cut way back due to time restraints. They now only have apx 9 boarders and 14-ish horses out of a 40 horse capacity barn.  They currently use the "old" barn where the indoor arena is and the "new" barn is used for other things. Apparently they have very few openings, the one boarder has been there for 14 years, and I have heard from 2 other barns I had called about that this is a fabulous barn.  Fingers crossed we will be moving in February, we have to wait for someone to move their 3 horses to NC before they will have room for us. It feels like it will work out, I am really hoping it works out. I can't justify driving 32 miles AND a $100 board increase. I pay WAY too much money for the kind of care I am currently getting at my current barn.

I am leaving for a vacation to California this weekend, I am going to stuff myself full of some sun, some sand and some more sun. I don't care it will only be in the 60's, it won't be the 20's like it is here. I have already scheduled out 7 of the 12 months next year to go somewhere and do things. 2019 is going to involve a LOT of traveling!  I am hopeful I will continue blogging, as it is nice being able to remember what happened in a "diary", it is just difficult to find the time with my day job and side job. 

How is everyone else doing, did you miss me?

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Let's get back on track

I blog for myself. I don't have a huge following, I don't try to attract followers and I don't comment much on other blogs to get followers. And that is okay. The fact that I have a handful of people who follow my adventure tickles me, which is why I am currently disappointed in myself that I haven't blogged at all over the past month. Though again, to my defense, I didn't do much horse wise. But that isn't a good excuse.  So, what's been going on?

I had an amazing lesson on Aug 17 after my show.  It started with Mia being stiff and sore because she was covered in rain rot, but she worked out of it, tried really hard and we got some amazing work done.  We found she will disregard my aids and come off of a straight line in a canter transition, so I need to really focus on keeping her straight and forcing her to stay accountable. Just like in our canter/trot transition, I cannot let her relax, I have to force her to stay accountable. I also have come a long way in my arms, even if I hate how they look.  #NeverHappy No more hunter looking arms for me! I signed up for another lesson for Sep 22, even though I will have had 3 weeks of no riding due to crazy life described below.  But hey, it is a goal to aim for, so a goal was set.

That following week I went back to Michigan for our (car) race. A short 13 hour, one way drive. The ride out went well enough. The race went very well, earning 13th of 52 cars after the 15 hour race.  Our best placing yet!  I was also the fastest driver again, so I was happy to regain that spot.  The drive home SUCKED though.  We weren't even an hour out and a trailer tire blew.  We always carry 2 spare trailer tires and a trailer aid, so in 15 mins we were back on the road with one spare left. Thankfully the trailer tires held up for the rest of the trip so that was a relief. The same cannot be said for the truck tires as in the middle of western NY, the passenger front truck tire got a puncture.  Thankfully we were able to pull off onto an exit and got it changed in about 30 minutes with minimal problems.  The tires were going to be replaced after we got back to PA anyway, so at least it wasn't a brand new tire like we almost had.  Plus hubby fell ill after we left MI with a fever, was coughing and was full of mucus.  Our 13 hour trip took just shy of 16 hours to get home.  Boo!

The next weekend was a trip BACK to Michigan to see the wedding of K, the woman who bought TWH.  She was riding him in the wedding and I was the hauler and handler of him. I loved seeing him again, though he didn't even seem to remember me.  He was super cuddly with K though.  *wahhh!*  That's okay dude, I still love you even though you have moved on.  He was absolutely perfect for the entire event.  From pictures, to ceremony and just hanging around, he didn't put even one hoof wrong.  No spooks, no impatient moments, no pushy times, he was just amazing. I am so glad he has such a great home and someone who absolutely adores him, he is such a good, good horse. 

Last weekend I had to go to Kansas City for a business trip with some friends. It was super busy, super tiring, and super long, but it was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to doing it again in February.  I loved the people I was with and I still got to do some fun things.  I got to see the comedienne Jeanne Robertson both at her show AND at breakfast as we were at the same hotel. I got to visit a t-rex at the museum of science, I got to ride the electric trolley, visit the WWI memorial and museum, eat at multiple BBQ places and make a lot of contacts with networking.  Thanks to the tropical storm Gordon, my flight back was in all disarray and I didn't get home until midnight.  And then it rained for 2 straight days, but at least I was home?

This week I have ridden bareback once and Mia was very good.  I wanted to spot check my balance and strength and they were both up to par. This weekend I will actually have a full ride, we need to focus on fitness for both of us if we want to be at all useful in our lesson in a week.  Mia's rainrot is thankfully gone thanks to some MTG plus.  It smells SO much better than MTG!  It still smells, just not nearly as bad.  I am very happy that she cleared up so easily, considering I couldn't be out there every day for almost 3 weeks.

So that gets you up to date and to today.  The next post will be a picture dump, and hopefully words will be flowing more freely for more frequent blog posts.  I am feeling more energized than I have been lately, so I hope I can keep it up.  What do you do to reset yourself if/when you are in a blogging slump?

Friday, September 14, 2018

Prix Caprilli debut......coming very late. But there is video!

Mia went first in the class and really kinda rocked it.  In watching the video, I really don't know WTH was going on with my hands.  Like, am I a 4-H kid who hasn't been riding most of their life?  UGH.  I know, we are our own worse critics but still.

My reins are still miles too long, especially in the canter, but it looks good.  It would have been better if I hadn't gone off course *eyeroll*.  I blanked and started to go across the diagonal in the canter when I should have been going down the long side.  The hazards of riding multiple test without a reader I guess!
So. Many. 8's.

The other two rides were decent, but I thought Mia was much more relaxed and certainly was more unphased by the jumps in the arena.  Haha, practice practice practice! How do you make your horse take a 2' fence like it is a canter stride? Do it about 30 times a day for a week.  HA!

Even with me being a bit of a mess though, the horse is judged and not the rider so we ended up with 6 as our lowest score with lots of 6.5's, 7's and 8's!!  Apparently the DO mark you down when you land on the wrong lead over a fence. *sigh*  That's okay, now I know for next time.

The first level test was the hard one though. I had worked hard to not need a reader and while I almost regretted the decision, I am glad I didn't have one. I have never in my life had a reader and I don't want to start now!  Mia wasn't as amused, having to do TWO dressage tests and was much more distracted this time. I still rode with reins way too long and but it went very well.  We even got a WOW comment on our 2nd leg yield, and ended with a 66%.  A fabulous effort that made me very happy.

So what now? I've been quiet for a while, I know. I've kind of lost my blogger voice I guess.  There isn't a lot going on in the horse world, I don't have a lot to goals to ride for and I'm in a blogging slump.  If you can't tell, this post was written in 2 parts and the 2nd part really lacks enthusiasm lol.  The horses are doing just fine, I just finished a 3 week whirlwind gone-every-weekend-no-time-to-ride adventure.  I am signed up for a lesson next Saturday, so I need to really get back to work if I want it to count for anything.  I had signed up for the re-scheduled Wofford clinic for Sept 24, but then it was cancelled again due to lack of entries.  Oh well.  Maybe next year, I wasn't in shape for it anyway.

Up next will be a recap of a lesson I full month ago.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Prix Caprilli tests and show prep

Thanks to *life*, I really only had a week or so to get ready for the show (erm...which was 2 weeks ago...).  We worked really hard on the tests though, on the Saturday before the show, the tests were really rough when we attempted them. Like, yikes.  On Sunday I wondered if I was crazy for thinking about doing this, others confirmed I was. On Monday, we finally had a small breakthrough and Mia stopped landing from the jump on the forehand. It's the small wins sometimes.  On Tuesday she decided it was probably okay to canter over the fence and stay balanced.  Big improvements were made and I thought it may not be an actual train wreck. On Wednesday though, Wednesday the puzzle pieces clicked and we had a really good ride.  Our only argument was her continued insistence on swapping leads over fences.
Not a bad test, right? Fairly simple, with a 2' fence.
I gave her Thursday off and rode again on Friday and I have to admit, I was pretty damn optimistic.  We still didn't know where exactly the jumps would be set up in the arena, or if the arena would be large or small, but I felt pretty confident in our, albeit short, preparation.  I mean, I literally gave myself a week and while the training level test wasn't that bad, the first level test is legit, omg, must be crazy hard.
A test that makes you wonder WTH you were on when you entered

I mean, seriously.  Leg yields to the jumps? 10m sitting trot? Extended canters? Oh my!  Our biggest issues with Test 2 were the right lead canter (where her haunches are always in), keeping the lead after going over a fence (grr), and that 10m circle.  All of the movements come so damn fast, you barely have time to collect and you really need to be on your A game. Surprisingly enough, the extended canters were actually really good and Mia does a great job of actually coming back after them.  Training win!! 

Also shows how the 2'6" jumps are placed in the arena
Never fear, Mia is a true rock star and was up to the challenge.  I had asked for the earliest ride time possible on Saturday as we had a concert that night at 8p, and the venue was 3 hours away.  Which only makes sense to put us at the literal last rides of the day at 245p and 258p.  Not. Helpful.  Thankfully the venue was literally 20 minutes from the barn so the plan was to go, show, drop horse at the barn, drive back to show and pick up tests and then go to the concert and miss all of the opening acts.  Such is life.  I didn't want to scratch since we had worked so hard in preparation for this!

Usually happy to see me, even if we are doing dressage
Saturday I went to the barn almost 2 hours early because I could lol.  Afternoon rides FTW.  Mia got an actual bath for the show AND we had time to free lunge because she just could not focus.  I was so happy I was able to give her an outlet for her energy instead of having to struggle with that energy at the show grounds.  With as much as she had been ridden, I didn't even consider being too energetic would have even been an issue, but Mia need to move and I actually had time to allow it!

Skeptical mare is skeptical
As we were getting ready to leave, one of the barn owners showed up and let me know she had decided to show in the Test 1 class too.  Great yet another rider to ride before me, pushing my ride back even further. Grr!  We got to the show ground and found our way around. The indoor being used for warmup (and there was NO WHERE else to warm up) was very hot, very humid and very stuffy.  There was no airflow whatsoever and it was so stagnant, it was really hard to do good work as I felt the energy being zapped.

Happy mare after a good ride, pieces are coming together
The show steward came down and said we could warm up over the fences in the show arena, which was cool but surprising.  The other riders for Test 1 took a lot more time to warm up, I simply put Mia over 2 of the 3 fences once and then stood outside of the arena while Mia semi napped. It was hot in the sunlight, but so much better than being in that indoor so we just stood in the sunshine and I tried to chat people up.  How did we do?  Find out in the next post! 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Our lesson recap and a show to prep for! Bad picture heavy!

It really sucks about the clinic being canceled but the lesson went well.  I also have a new show to get ready for, I think I said I am really focusing on non-event stuff this year because it is just too hard to find time to drive 6+ hours to go to a show for 2 hours. 

Warm ups!
2 hours to/from the closest venue and 45 mins one way to the barn, it really is too much driving for me at this point since I have so little time on weekends.  Things are way too busy to lose an entire weekend to showing :(

Trit trots
But that's okay, I am finding a couple of options. We had the jumper show, which was cool and I would do another one.  Up next is a new Prix Caprilli test in a dressage show. 

Some contact
What?!  I have heard of this only from Andrea  so it is cool to hear someone doing around me. 

Left canter getting better
It is basically a dressage test with a couple of jumps thrown in the middle.  How cool is that!?  I contacted the show organizer and got a copy of the test, I think I will try the 2' and 2'6" class and see how it goes.  Can't hurt right?  Has anyone ever done this before?  I am kind of excited!

Coming nicely!
The lesson went really well and it did a good job of kicking my butt, but the pics are horrible. Like seriously bad.
I swear M said this looked good
The look bad, the lighting was bad, ugh hate. So much hate but this is a documentation forum so here are pics!  M said I have improved so much in my outside rein since last time, 80% better. 

The trot is really coming along this direction
We worked on really forcing myself to keep it while forcing Mia to STAY there, apparently, I am really really good at dropping the contact as a reward to Mia.  Erm, not supposed to do that. 

When we went from canter to trot, for example, she loved the canter and as soon as Mia trotted, I stopped keeping her collected and on her hocks, letting her fall on her forehand and stretch.  So....we did a lot of that.

Contact dropping, bad rider
My pinched nerve in my shoulder is still not 100%, maybe 90%?  95%?  On Friday though, my arm became useless after all of the outside rein work.  Note to self, shoulder is not ready for that much of a workout still! 
The lighting omg
Thankfully it bounced back on Saturday and is back to about 90% "good".  Stupid getting older, why won't my body just hurry up and fix itself?!

So pretty when she wants to be!
The other piece of information that we gleaned from the lesson was that the left rein cannot be straight when it is the outside rein.

Shoulder in
Mia is using my rein as a blocking tool and not really bending her body, forcing her haunches to come in which also forces her neck to bend. 
Less of this please, ugh!
I need to open my left outside rein more to my knee for a while to help counteract some of her bracing. 

A little more of this
Once we can fix that, and we can keep the spring in her haunches that she had on Friday, we should be looking really good for a dressage test.  Fingers crossed?

More this and we may be ready for our show!