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!

Monday, July 9, 2018

So disappointed, the clinic was canceled.

So many feelings.  I was super excited about my clinic tomorrow with Jim Wofford.  It would be the first time I had ever ridden in a clinic with a BNT (Big Name Trainer), I had put down I was going Training level and I actually felt like we were fairly ready!  Then I woke up last Monday with a burning pain over my shoulder blade.  Then it progressed to down my arm and making my arm go numb sometimes.  And the pain was a good, solid 6 to 7, and I have a pretty high pain tolerance.  I was able to do a trail ride on Weds but wasn't able to really use my left arm at all.  Whomp whomp.
From 2014

All this time, I hadn't heard about my ride times so I shot an email off to the organizer Weds to follow up.  I got a response back with approximate times, but that they were still waiting for some promised entries and the ride times would be sent out shortly. I finally went to urgent care on Thursday and was diagnosed with a pinched nerve and given Gabapentin and steroids.  *sigh*  At least that brought my pain down to a solid 3-4.  It made me giggle bc Gabapentin is what I gave App!  It just didn't do as much for him as it seems to with me.

From 2018
Then Friday afternoon, at almost quitting time, I got the dreaded email that the clinic was canceled and it may reschedule in the fall if there is enough interest.  Which tells me there weren't enough entries.  Damn it!  I did respond back letting them know to keep me on the list to notify if they do reschedule it. I mean, I was seriously on the fence on if I could even go myself, but I wanted to be the one to cancel, not them cancel on me!  Fri night SO and I went grocery shopping and walked for about 2 hours through various stores, on the way home I realized my pain had dropped to a 2.  Apparently I needed to go for a long walk!!

The good news is my arm/shoulder has remained at a solid 2-3 in pain, sometimes even a 0 to 1.  Being at the desk working makes it worse, but that is my day job so....  I have a chiro appointment tonight to see if that helps any more.  I was able to ride yesterday and while not 100%, I was good enough I COULD have ridden in my clinic tomorrow.  I am seriously bummed about the loss of my clinic but I am looking forward to the dressage lesson on Friday.  There is a tentative show on July 28 and then again on Aug 11, so fingers crossed things go well.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Jumper debut and success

Overall I was really happy with our Jumper debut.  It is no surprise that an eventer would have no issues with going over jumps at speed, it should also be of no surprise that it is hard as hell to remember the ever changing courses.

I left the house at a respectable 545a and got to the show right at 745a for the 830a show.  They were letting people go in the ring and jump things (?!?) so we took the opportunity and did the same.  Mia couldn't have possibly cared about any of the tiny little jumps, 2'3" did not impress her at all.  The first class turned out to be a speed class, the fastest won.  I was so very grateful for friendly competitors helping this stupid eventer in the classes.  I read the rules but I still wasn't super clear and it was very helpful to have someone clarify! 

Mia did well in the first round, until *cough* someone forgot the course and cut a jump way to close and knocked the jump standard over with their freshly polished boot.  It was a jump that had to be jumped again so as we were going along, people were scurrying to put it back up. Which totally distracted the rider *cough cough* and I went off course.  Ha!  Go figure. 

The second round was weird in that you did the first 6 jumps as a H/J course and then you did the last 5 jumps as a speed round.  Got it!  Again Mia did very well, she was quite adjustable and listened spectacularly, but at fence 9 she didn't half halt, jumped flat and knocked the tiny 2' jump over with her hind fetlock.  Really mare?!  Really.  It was a big canter stride and you still knocked it down?

The last class was the only one I cared about, it was a stakes class with a payback.  For this class they raised the fences to 2'6" and it helped so much.  Mia FINALLY started actually jumping the fences and taking it seriously.  For this round we did our 11 fences, stopped until they blew a whistle and then jumped the same course through the first 8 fences.  Mia put the pedal to the metal and we were clear, resulting in a nice 2nd place finish.  I really would have liked to have seen the scores and timing, I have a hard time believing someone went faster than us but hey.  2nd place was great as I got more than half of my entry fees back AND got back to the barn by 1030 AND got home before noon.  Fabulous! 

They aren't having any more shows this year, at least so far, but it is a venue I would go to again. I am actually looking at other shows around that are closer even though they are not horse trials.  I am so burned out of driving 6+ hours just to go to a show, it may not be ideal but it should help scratch the itch and not take up all of my extremely rare free weekends. 

That said, I have some big stuff coming up.  On the 10th I have a clinic with Jim Wofford, on the 13th I have a dressage lesson with M that comes to the barn once in a while.  On the 28th I have a possible local show and then Aug 11 I have another show that is at my barn.  They aren't horse trials, and I am not schooling training level xc, but it does give me something to work towards. 

We are currently melting (for PA) in high 90 degree temps, I rode Mia last night and she was not amused.  My plan is to ride first thing tomorrow morning (since I am off for the 4th) and make sure my jumping position is on point for our clinic.  Does anyone else have a case of the showing blues like I do?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Fitness and a show

The blog may be quiet, but life is not. I am at my free-time breaking point and am doing nothing but treading water right now.  What I need is a good 8 hours of free time to do a bunch of menial tasks to get caught up, does anyone have 8 hours to lend me?

Despite the lack of free time, Mia is still being ridden 4+ times a week.  She is really developing good muscle under that heavy layer of fat (thanks spring grass).  The pasture turnout was shaken up again as three horses left the barn (App's friend was put down, one sold, one moved) and Mia's super annoying pasture mate went to his new home.  A pretty 4 yr old palamino colt is really nice to look at, but he was super mouthy, super disrespectful of space, super destructive and wanted to play with everything all of the time. I lost Mia's halter for 4 days before we FINALLY found it buried in weeds in the pasture, pretty far away from the gate where it had hung on a hook.  I've lost all tail bags as he would grab her tail and yank and play with it, resulting in holes in every bag I have/had.  The bites, scratches, and scrapes should significantly decline now that he isn't around.  As a result of the shakeup, Mia is now out by herself (for now) in a pretty big, very grassy pasture. Which is great, it is just adding to her bulk lol.  I keep reminding myself she is quite slender in comparison to the other horses lol.
We may have legit chased down a hot air balloon as it landed at the local airport
We had a couple of good rides where we really focused on our outside rein.  When I can really focus on it, we seem to have some good moments.  Keeping the focus though, well we know how that goes.  This past week we have done fitness because the trails were finally cut, Mia required a few rides before she would w/t/c fairly politely.  She was pretty certain there was no way she should be just trotting up a hill when she could gallop! It took some pretty severe rein yanks at times to stop the antics, cantering sideways, small dolphin hops, yanking on reins, she was really having fun being able to go outside of an arena.  On Sunday I actually did a conditioning ride with someone else (gasp) and not only did they survive, they said they had fun! And they apologized for being afraid to ride with me, apparently they only saw the rare occasion I did gallop sets last year and thought that I know knew how to go fast.  I worked hard to not be offended, despite being the only person/horse in a training schedule of any sort and the only horse at the barn that competes. I mean seriously.  Grrr.

In other news, since Plantation was a lost cause and my backup show was moved to July, I was thinking of signing up for a HT in New Jersey but then a hunter jumper show popped up 25 mins from my barn.  Twenty five minutes?!  I've never been to a show in PA that was that close outside of the ONE time a show was at my own barn!  As a result, Mia is going to make her Jumper debut on Sunday.  Why not, right?  It is a max of 2'6", if she can't get around a 2'6" course without taking rails then we have bigger problems lol.  She has been jumping 3' to 3'6" without even trying.  

So many jumps
We actually did a legit jump school last night, with a grid and bounces.  There was a 5 stride on an angle, a 3' panel, a pair of 2'6" bounces, a line of 3 jumps with a 1 stride between them and a 4 stride.
Mia was really awesome.  There were a couple of times she was fast and required some correction, but for the most part she was amazing and handled everything like a seasoned pro.  I am going to jump again tonight, bigger, and then tomorrow is dressage.  We have a lesson scheduled again (!!!) for July 13 so I am hopeful we have real progress to show for it.  We also are signed up for a Wofford clinic, I am SUPER excited about that!  Lots of jump schooling in our future.