Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Work, work, work

Unfortunately with winter coming, things have been increasingly hectic which means less saddle time.  I can count on one hand the number of times I have ridden since my show on Sept 11.  Over 2 weeks ago.  Fail!  I am trying to fix that so I have a lesson scheduled for Sunday on the App.  We will see how things go, I got to get my butt in the saddle.

Last weekend we went with RB3 and her SO to a Renaissance festival which was nice.  SO and I haven't been in 10 years, it was fun walking around seeing everything.  I do, however, like the one in Ohio much better.  The people at this festival aren't the same ones that go to Ohio and the "shows" weren't nearly as entertaining.  The jousting was cool however it was very apparent that most scenes were staged.  Watching the knight "we" were rooting for force himself to fall off, that was pretty amusing.  He was hit with a sword and you could see him throw himself off balance, twice, to come off.  I suppose if you didn't know how to ride it wouldn't have been so obvious?  Lol.  The mud show was mildly amusing but lacked real substance but the real "show" of the day was the tremendous amount of cleavage that was displayed.  OMG ladies, that corset is supposed to help squeeze things in.  Yes things can squeeze up and out but you should still wear support!  Your boobs should not appear like a waterfall over the front of your top and I should not need to see your nips through your paper thin shirt.  Ugh.

I have finally finished the very last of our sawdust, every bit of sawdust from my pile is now in stalls and being used up.  I certainly didn't have nearly as much left as I thought, I was thinking I had 3 full trailers left and it turns out I had 1 and a half.  Fail again.  Looks like I will be using the newspaper bedding sooner than I thought!  Luckily it will be delivered tomorrow so when I need to start stripping/moving bedding this weekend I will be set.  I expect to put in it in the App's stall first, moving his existing bedding into the TWH's stall and then eventually moving the TWH's bedding into the donkey's stall and putting the TWH on the new bedding.  I want to have most to all of the sawdust out before I start using the new bedding so I can judge it honestly and not blame shortcomings on mixing bedding.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

We are working away on the farm to prepare for winter and am hoping to complete the winter pasture by the weekend.  We are creating a sacrifice pasture so we can seed and rest our normal pasture, we have the spot now cleared and some t-posts driven in.  We are reusing the fencing we have already taken down from the main pasture, we just need to buy a small roll of woven wire to finish the job.  I wanted to use electric but it just isn't feasible right now. Once we buy the materials tonight we should be set to install and it should be good to go!  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cold is coming

How I already miss my 80 degree days.  Almost makes me long for the super hot and humid days of Ohio, last week it was in the upper 30's in the morning.  That is COLD and not acceptable for September!  It warmed (used loosely) back up to the 70's but is getting ready to go back into COLD again later this week thanks to the cold air from Canada.  I say they can keep it but Mother Nature doesn't seem to be taking directions from me right now.  Brrrr.

The boys are doing fine but nothing of interest has been going on.  I've taken a couple of short trail rides and have done some ground work but have been keeping it seriously slow.  Chores, chores, chores, gotta get ready for winter as fast as we can.  We need to finish making a winter pasture so the horses can tear the ground up and we can save the pasture.  We have cleared out a ton of brush and cleaned up a lot to get ready but still have a way to go.

We are going to try a new bedding which I think is of interest, I am running low on sawdust so I called the supplier to schedule another 40 yard delivery and was told the sawdust went up a bit.  Uh, yeah like 43% over last year went up.  Yikes!  I made some emails and a couple of phone calls and am going to try a newspaper bedding.  It is compressed, shredded newspaper that comes in apx 1-1.5 square inch pieces.  A gal I was chatting with after I first moved here was working with the manufacturer in creating the product and was really pleased in how it was turning out.  She was using it for composting and said that the amount of bedding she was using was halved.  I am not sure how that works, since when I see wet newspaper I see it stick to everything and become a mess but I am willing to see how it works.  I will be getting a 800-900 pound "bale" of it delivered probably next week and will start using it within the next couple of weeks.  Stay tuned, it may get interesting!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Eventing Derby recap Part 2 - App

With only a 45 min break in between my cross country ride on the TWH and dressage ride on the App, I knew I just may have my work cut out for me.  I changed outfits again and saddled the App up and walked over to the dressage warm up area.  It is slightly out of sight of the trailer parking as it is on the far side of a large hill, you can see the trailers when in the actual arenas as they sit on top of the hill.  The App was a little quick at walking but not too bad.  SO had said he wasn't too bad standing at the trailer, had only called for TWH a couple of times and didn't try to pull back or anything so I had high hopes of a nice, relaxed App.

After about 5 mins of walking I tried trotting and the App flipped his lid and took off.  As in I couldn't actually stop him for about 5-6 strides kind of take off.  I steered him out of traffic and tried to "settle" him by letting him canter for a couple of laps (idea from instructor from the beginning of the year) and quickly saw it was doing nothing but revving him up more.  By this time I was pretty ticked and so I cranked his head down where I could control it and did walk-trot transitions where he would walk for 3 strides and then trot for 3 strides, walk for 3 strides and trot for 3 strides, repeat until he stopped fighting.  After about 10 mins he settled down and agreed that he would listen to me and we had some really nice trot and canter transitions.  Things were looking up!

About that time I was becoming pretty exhausted from having to ride so hard but before I could take a break I was called on deck, time to head into the sand area reserved for those who were next.  It is on top of the hill where you could see the trailers and the App flipped his lid again.  He SCREAMED for TWH, jetting sideways, bolting forward, throwing his head in my face and I couldn't get him to quit.  Every 15-30 seconds he would let out a scream that went unanswered and threw off any momentum and poise we had established.  With no time to fix it and no way to beat the pony for his misdeeds, we went into the ring.  I walk/trotted around the outside of the ring (which is, by the way, even closer to the trailer parking) and said hi to the judge.  The App ignored her and screamed and jumped to the side to possibly see the TWH.  Ugh.  I tried going around the parameter a couple more times and the bell rang.  Time to go in.

We rode in straight and we hadn't been in the ring long enough to make it to C and he had screamed 3 times.  I got so flustered and angry with him I actually forgot my pattern and went off course.  The judge ran the bell and said "You were supposed go to straight".  I apologized and said the App had me so flustered, I was so sorry.  She said she felt sorry for me b/c she saw how he was being even in warmup.  FanTAStic horse.  Way to draw attention to yourself!  The rest of the ride?  It went.  Moments of greatness destroyed by screams and tension/threats of bolting.  Really nice free walk until the last quarter when he jerked his head up, half trotted a few steps and screamed.  And the last canter circle he screamed and tucked his butt and attempted to take off again, it just so happened I was able to get him back within 2 strides and finish the circle.  Ugh horse, sometimes I hate you.  I walked back to the trailer and am really not sure when the last time was that I wanted to beat my horse so badly.  There was no reason for him to act that way and I regularly ride him without TWH and he doesn't act like this, lately anyway.

The cross country had its own set of issues but overall went really well.  I made the decision that since my arms and body was so tired that I would try riding in the new waterford bit so I wouldn't be yanked on so badly by the App.  Warmup went well but very fast, as in the App was very quick.  I had a hard time bringing him back to a manageable speed but I had no time to run back to the trailer, I was "in the hole", 2 to go before us.  Off we went cross country, the first 3 fences were easy stadium fences and I didn't know if he actually jumped the first one.  It felt more like a big canter/gallop stride as he was scooting.   Fence 4 was a log which was no problem, fence 5 required 2 90 degree turns and still wasn't an issue after some yanking.  To get to fence 6 required going down the big hill and it took everything I had to get him to stop and walk.  At this point in the course we should be at 1:45 and we were at 0:55 seconds.  Yeah, a bit too fast. I walked him down the entire hill and kicked him into a canter which became a gallop.  Fence 6 and 7 were the only ones I was even slightly nervous about so I gave him a good thwack with the crop and he flew over them without a second glance.  At least I had the cross country horse I love which doesn't even look at jumps and just goes for it.  I wrangled him back to a walk down the second hill and took fence 8 at a trot.  Back up the hill we went and jumped a up little bank and through the water.  He surprised me by actually slowing to a trot into the water on his own.  Of course then I saw a photographer so I made him canter for a picture.  We finished the course without a single issue though extremely fast, we were the fastest on course.

They say miracles do happen.  Somehow the dressage judge did not deduct massive points for the App's screaming sessions.  She really should have but didn't  If I had been in a dressage show we would have been slaughtered, it's happened before.  We did get several 5's and the App's take off moment was noted as "A little quick".  Ha!!  She seemed to really like him and called it a polished ride, what did she see that I didn't feel?!?  The third and forth placers had cross country penalties so in the end we made it to 5th place.  And if I had been able to slow him down we could have gotten 4th believe it or not (as I sure don't!).  It appears I was tied for 6th coming out of dressage and when there is a tie without cross country penalties whomever was closer to the optimum time gets placed higher.  That certainly was not us.  I can't believe that out of 13 competitors we placed so well.

Overall the App left a pretty bitter taste in my mouth.  I am still peeved with him for screaming his head off during dressage but not making a peep during cross country.  I discovered a waterford bit is fantastic to keep the App from pulling my arms off but does absolutely nothing to slow him down.  He showed absolutely no respect for the bit during cross country when I know he respects his french link at least a little.  Not sure what is is store next year but I will either A) not show them at the same show or B) try putting them on opposite sides of the trailer.  Time will tell, lots of riding alone will be in the App's future!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Eventing Derby recap Part 1 - TWH

I woke up on Sunday feeling hopeful and positive.  Up at 6a, I went out and started preparing for the day which included finding a newly spotted horse where a clean horse was last night.  Just what I needed, I broke out the washing supplies and gave the TWH a quick bath.  Got everyone fed and wrapped before I realized I was running almost 15 minutes behind schedule, I was supposed to have hauled out at 645 and it was already 7a.  Loaded up and headed out and got to the show with only 25 minutes before my first ride of the day. 

I warmed the TWH up and was quite impressed that he still had his canter-trot button installed, this would make my day much easier I thought!  The warm up was quite uneventful and we went in the arena feeling pretty prepared despite the lack of time we had.  The entry down the centerline was a little off but not too bad, the rest of the test rode very well.  That is, until the end.  The very last piece of the test.  The last sequence of events requires a canter of a 20m circle in front of the judge, down the side of the arena into a trot before B then turn up the centerline and halt at X.  Pretty easy right?  It looked good on paper anyway.  TWH decided his canter-trot button was broken at this very inopportune moment, we paced down  3/4 of the length of the arena before he finally picked up a trot .  We had about 3 strides to our turn so I asked for the turn and got nothing.  I widened my hands and asked for a turn again, this time with a little more outside leg and I got a turn.  With a canter.  The funny side of this is after a stride and a half he went back down and picked up a trot immediately.  Of course he did, when it didn't count so much.  We finished our test and though I was happy overall, I was disappointed we blew such an important piece of the test.  

Our dressage scores were really nice until the end.  6's, 7's and even an 8 were on the sheet until the last 2 boxes.  The "trot" down the side rated a 3 with a note of PACING and the turn got a 4 with NOT RHYTHMICAL. And she gave us a 4 on the collective gait marks.  So out of 30 points we got 11 which blew us out of the top placings.  She did say really nice job on my transitions and willingness to move forward, nice relaxation.  So there was that.  Up next though was cross country.

I saddled up and spent very little time warming up, I didn't want him to get too tired so I walked for about 5 mins and then put in 2 laps of trot and 2 laps of canter.  I jumped the biggest warm up fence a couple of times and went and waited by the start box.  Optimum time was 3:27 and I hoped to hit close to the mark.  Off we went and had a great time.  The first 3 fences were simple crossrails and the rest were little logs until the end.  We went over fences 1-4 without any issues and we walked down the big hill to try to eat up time when I realized we were going much too fast.  We finished the course in 2:51 and it felt great.  Much to my  amazement we placed 4th of 14 thanks to a higher placing taking a rail somewhere.  Go us!  TWH got a good walk and sponge bath to cool down and SO let him graze while I got to work on the App.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bad blogger!

So it's been a while since I posted, sorry all!  This week we have been on vacation and while I am not accomplishing as much as I had hoped, I am having a good time.  Where to start?

Last Friday I made a last minute decision and headed almost 5 hours away to a Horse Trial to watch a friend compete.  I am not big on driving but really wanted to help and since SO was going to be out of town I could either sit around all weekend or go have fun!  After a quick call to my boarder, she agreed to feed all weekend plus watch the dog so off I went.  Not counting the enormous lack of sleep, I had a great time.  My friend came in third at the recognized show (recognized nationally) and I really enjoyed catching up with her.  Really hoping she can come to Michigan next year to show, I would love to have her.

Monday was a catch-up day since I was gone all weekend.  I slept until after 9a (?!?!) and spent most of the morning parked on the couch.  The afternoon was filled with poo, between picking stalls and cleaning the entire pasture I played with poo for over 4 hours.  I was exhausted and SO came home from his adventures right about the time I was done.

Tuesday I went with RB3 and spent the entire day with her.  We went and saw her horse, who is looking more and more fabulous, went to a new(er) TSC type store and got some awesome deals.  $52.99 for a gallon of UltraShield?  That is the price I pay when I travel clear to Congress!  $12.99 for a 3lb bucket of SandClear? Uh, yeah I am going to come back!  We then went for pizza and ice cream and then came home and rode the boys.  She was nice enough to switch halfway through so I could ride both of them in preparation for my show this weekend.  On this day Chip decided he didn't actually want to trot, only canter and Sinatra decided he didn't have a canter-trot button installed.  Ugh.

Wednesday was filled with tons of errands and nothing really got done.  Thursday was a massive clearing day and the day we got most stuff done.  We made a dry well by our arena (a dry well is a big hole in which water can drain into and slowly drain out of, to eliminate the water from the gutters from spilling everywhere on the ground) and cleared brush.  We cleared around our barn, cut some trees down and it not only looks better but is closer to being ready to become a winter pasture.. We also cleared brush in our new pasture behind the arena, it was full of thorny bushes that didn't do anything and took up a lot of space.  The horses did a fantastic number on them in the month they have had the "new" pasture, it was time to finish the job and the brush is now evicted!  I rode the boys again and they both decided they did have their respective buttons installed, they had simply forgotten.  Gotta whip these boys into shape!

Today, Friday, was all about the horses.  I went to a local storage unit garage sale and picked up a nice sized Rubbermaid storage tote with a bunch of dirty "stuff" for only $3.  I went through the stuff and found 10 halters, a few running martingales and a bunch of leather bridle pieces.  Washing everything up and am going to sell it, I should be able to easily get $20 out of everything plus have myself a leather halter AND a nice Rubbermaid tote to boot.  Wahoo!  I cleaned stalls, cleaned pasture, gave a lesson and rode both boys.  We also pressure washed the underside of my truck and painted the frame in an attempt to stall some of the rust that is developing.  We will see if it works.  Chippy decided that it would take an hour for him to ride correctly, as he didn't want to give a canter-trot transition and instead insisted a slower canter was in order.  Ugh horse, are you talking to Sinatra?!?  Eventually it was obtained..  Sinatra on the other hand was fantastic and had no problem giving me the elusive canter-trot transitions.  Wahoo!  30 minutes was all he needed and we were good to go.  Here's to hoping it sticks, I am running out of time!

Tomorrow is kind of crazy and Sunday is our show.  I am killing myself by bringing both horses but they gave me really good ride times so hopefully it works out.  I expect to have plenty of pictures, stay tuned!