Thursday, December 17, 2015

Time flies quickly

The good news is that I am still here, still kicking, still occasionally riding.  The bad news is that I am not riding regularly as I did things like prepare for Thanksgiving, take a mini-vacation (OMG SO RELAXING!!), continue taking care of the entire farm by myself and start painting the 2000 sq ft farmhouse by myself.  Yeah... I have been busy!

Most of the riding I have done have been trail rides.  I went a full 2 hour trail ride on the 13th and it was really nice.  Mia was very well behaved for most of it, she had a spooking session over a water tub (really horse?) and then decided to kick out when we were cantering and I was holding her back into a dressage canter instead of a fun, forward canter.  She got a spanking over that and told she will canter as advised or no canter will be allowed.  Otherwise, things are going very well.  Mia is nice and sound, yay!  App is mostly sound, NQR but he is also almost 23 with arthritis.  He is on 3 supplements a day plus a monthly injection of polyglycan so there isn't too much more we can do.  TWH has been plagued with lameness since he was sold to K, first he had a suspensory issue (different leg than in 2013) and then he got an abscess.  At least she rode him for a full year first, she knows he is not usually like this!  Fun times!

No Stirrup November came and went all too fast, I rode probably only 10 times but each ride was in fact stirrup free!  Including one jump session of a cross rail.  Woohoo!  I tried to jump App but again, unfortunately, I am brought back to the conclusion he can't see as well as he used to.  Sometimes he jumps it perfectly, other times he very awkwardly hops over it like he isn't sure what to do.  Since he has jumped for 10+ years, over 3 feet, he knows what to do so his sight is the only thing I am coming back to.  If it is outside, bright and a fairly solid/thick jump (like a log), he jumps great.  If it is a pole outside, usually ok.  If it is a pole (PVC or wood) inside, he jumps it, at best, 50/50.  Poor old man.

My goals in Dec is to ride a bit more and get back to having some fitness.  Having 3 months of solid slacking off and not doing regular riding has very obviously affected my stamina in the saddle.  Some solid two point is coming my way.  Once I get that, my goal is to start jumping again in January.  I want to start seriously jumping too.  I want to work on getting real height and getting a solid position over them.  Mia jumped 3'9" over the summer, I want to start getting more comfortable with that (gulp!!!) and add serious width.  Time to find my balls people, I want to get to Training level in 2017 and I am not going to get there by jumping 2'9" all the time!

My dream is to be able to take lessons however it isn't likely to happen, unfortunately having 2 mortgages has put a big damper on doing all the fun things.  You know, like chiropractor, another saddle fitting, clinics, lessons, tack ho splurges, etc.  If anyone wants to donate to a lesson fund, let me know!  Ha!!  Hopefully things are going to slow WAYYYY down come next week, maybe I will have time to ride AND blog about it.  I have the next 2 Thurs/Fridays off of work, one can hope anyway!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Slow feed hay net **Update**

So it has been a month since the hay net has been being used, I figured you may want an update.  Has it lasted?  What do I think, positives?  Negatives?  Suggestions?

Overall, things are going really well!  The net is holding up amazingly well.  The net has not a single rip or tear in it, something I certainly didn't expect.  The horses spend all day (and night) at the bale and no one has destroyed the net.  That is huge in my book!  The net also does a good job of keeping the mess to a minimum.  There is still hay dropped onto the ground however the amount is only about a single fork full of hay, picked up twice a day.  2 fork fulls of hay a day on the ground is not a bad amount, I chuck it either on top of the round bale and the horses eat it or I chuck it between the bale and the wall and they eat it after the round bale is basically gone.

The positives?  Net is holding up, no tears!  Little waste.  Very little daily effort.  Reduced chore time, currently 25 minutes which includes scooping all poop.  10 minutes if not scooping.  Horses (well, App is the only one I am concerned with) are maintaining their weight well.

The negatives?  They poop and pee all around the bale/net which requires twice daily scooping to prevent it turning into mud.  TWH is pushed off of the bale by the more aggressive appys.  A lot.  Mia is gaining too much weight, down to about a cup of grain 2x a day and is a very healthy 7-8 on the BCS scale.  May need to muzzle her as winter progresses.  The horses still finish a 4 foot by 5 foot round bale in 7-10 days.  I really hoped it would last longer, right now I let them eat the bale to the ground, empty the stragglers from the net and give them another day to pick through the stuff they didn't want to eat before putting a new bale out.  Because they can eat it or starve because I am a bully that way.

Suggestions?  First, old clothesline worked really well for tying the net ends together into a circle.  Old clothesline does NOT work well as a drawstring.  I toss the end of the drawstring over a rafter to keep the net "up" and so I can pull the loose netting up off of the ground.  3 times the horses broke the drawstring before I finally replaced it with some boating rope (80lb break strength) I found on clearance at TSC for $2.  Apparently clothesline has a break strength of 50lbs, likely less when it is old lol.  So far the horses have not broken the new drawstring.  A bale ring could really be helpful to keep the horses from pooping/peeing on the hay that is dropped.  That is the biggest pain, throwing out hay they have dropped simply because they peed next to the bale (like, literally next to, they would have had to have splashed the damn hay and net) or pooped on it.  The buffer of space would be nice.

That is it!  We will see how the winter goes but I am really happy so far.  For those who are curious, this is my routine.  When the horses eat the bale down to empty and I have let them starve/eat the stuff on the ground, I rake up anything left over and throw it outside. I take down the temporary fence and use the big tractor to pull a bale out.  I don't have a hay spear but have pallet forks, I pick up the bale from the bottom with the pallet forks.  Set it on it's end.  Walk around the bale while unwrapping the twine, there are 2 or 3 long pieces to find..  Throw the net on like a pillowcase.  Use the tractor to push the bale over.  Throw all loose hay back into the net, close up the drawstring.  Use the tractor to pick up the netted bale by scooping it from the bottom.  May take a couple of tries if the forks catch the net, back up and try again.  (So far, the tractor has not ripped th net!)  Drop netted bale on the super heavy duty pallet (it is a Quickrete pallet, given to us when we bought 20 bags of Quickrete for a project and we had Home Depot load it for us.  This pallet is heavy, no joke!).  Throw drawstring over the rafter and tie it to the wall with just enough tension to keep the net taut.  Put temporary fence back up, let the raptors/horses back inside the arena.  It takes about 30 minutes total.  Honestly, I wish I had known how easy it could be and I would have done it a few years ago.  I just have had this hatred of round bales for so long.

Anyone else using round bale hay nets?  What do you think of them?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Updates, updates, updates

The good, the bad, and the ugly.  All kinds of updates and haven't had too much time or motivation to type it all out.  I do owe it to you or at least myself to document it all down so, here we go!

The good:

The horses are doing great.  Mia had 3 abscesses in 3 different hooves over the course of a month and is now sound, sound, sound.  She is also very, very good.  That last show where Mia actually felt like a partner? Where she listened to what I had to say instead of feeling like I am just there trying to manage her?  Yeah, she is still doing that.  Listening and trying.  It is such a cool feeling!  It only took 2 years to get here but I am so happy we finally made it.  I am hoping we can develop a really good partnership over the winter and she keeps this attitude.  It would be so nice!

The bad:

The farm didn't sell for what we wanted so we have pulled it off of the market for the winter.  I can't imagine a farm would sell in the winter and it is WAY too hard to live in a staged house 24x7 in good weather.  I have zero desire to continue through bad weather.  I am really disappointed, I didn't even think this was an option when we put it on the market, we thought it would sell extremely fast.  Our property is so very unique, the private indoor arena, brand new fencing?!  I mean come on!  I think our realtor did us wrong by having our start price WAY too high in the spring so we missed a huge batch of people and by the time I had her lower the price to it's "correct" price, very few people were buying.  Let's not comment that SHE never suggested a new price.  The last month the property was on the market, we would have a showing request about once every week or two.  Before that we had barely any showings.  We had one set of people say they were extending an offer but then never heard from them (*sob*) and another that loved the property but weren't "right now" buyers.  That tells me that they are dreamers with no intention of buying so they are wasting their time, my time and the realtors time with their daydreaming.  (Yeah, that one pissed me off pretty badly lol).  I had requirements for showing to hopefully eliminate daydreamers and unfortunately one still slipped through.  

Anyway, that means I am here all winter.  It is the reason I went ahead and bought/made the round bale hay net.  The net, by the way, is performing beautifully.  It is on its 3rd bale and there isn't a single tear or rip in the entire net and it is still doing a beautiful job of keeping the mess down.  It hasn't eliminated the mess but has reduced it down to a single forkful a day.  Win!

The ugly:

Sadly I have lost two of my buddies in the past 30 days.  I had a full blooded Maine Coon cat that I had adopted 7 years ago as a 6 yr old.  A show cattery had been dispersed due to the deaths of the breeders and I ended up with Arimus.  Everyone loved Arimus, he was just the coolest cat.  He didn't meow, he chattered and chirped.  He always met everyone at the door.  He wasn't afraid of anything.  Anything!  Shoot Nerf darts at him?  He wouldn't even bother to stand up.  New dog/cat come in?  He would go up and say hi and would threaten only if needed.  Throw a pillow at him when he was sleeping?  He would just open his eyes.  He loved everyone and was extremely friendly, he was extremely popular with everyone who met him.  Unfortunately in spring of 2014, I noticed a lump on his elbow.  We brought him to the vet who did a biopsy and it came back as cancer.  It was ingrained into his elbow joint, the only options were to amputate, put him through chemo or let him live it out.   Amputation and chemo would give him 2-3 years left of his 14-15 year life expectancy, letting him live it out would give him 1-2 years.  Since he had bad arthritis anyway, we opted to not amputate and chemo wouldn't be worth it for only one additional possible year.

We let him live his life, he did very well.  After surgery he gained his weight back and got back up this normal, not even close to chunky weight of 19lbs.  I would drain the tumor of fluid about every other month and all was well.  This spring I had to start draining the tumor every month and it had quadrupled in size, it was the size of a small apple on his elbow but he was still in good spirits and didn't seem in pain.  Over the summer he started limping and slightly losing weight, but not a large amount.  In July he stopped eating dry food and would only eat wet food.  In September he started losing weight quickly and went to eating only a quarter can of food twice a day when he needed at least a full can twice a day.  He was still in good spirits and I was waiting for one other "thing" and I was going to make that call.  On a Thursday, he was playing with Danica and was his normal self.  On a Friday I went to PA to move another load of stuff and got back Sunday night.  When I got back, he wasn't right.  He moved really slowly up the stairs and didn't meet me at the door but it was 9p at night so I didn't think about it.  He ate normally.  Monday morning, however, he wouldn't stand up and wouldn't eat anything.  Including treats, something he had never refused.  So I made the call and let him go.  It was so sad, he was my buddy, my friend.  That was October 12th.

Hairy cat can make a full 2nd cat
Mouse was a weird cat, we got her in our neighbor's divorce.  No, seriously.  Right after SO and I got together, we moved into a townhouse apartment.  The neighbors were nice enough, they had a 2 yr old daughter and a cat.  We lived there about 6 months before the neighbors split and were getting a divorce, when SO and I came home one day we saw the cat outside.  She was desperately trying to get into a door, any door.  The neighbors just kicked her outside to fend for herself, despite never being outside before.  SO paid the pet deposit as my birthday present and Mouse came to live with us.  She was 9 months old and had been the runt of the litter.  The neighbors took her bc she was so small and had a lazy eye, they figured she would die but she had lived.  We got her fixed and UTD on shots and lived pretty happily together.  She was always a grumpy cat, she didn't like other people, hated to be pet anywhere other than her head and shoulders, despised vets and didn't like other animals.  We made the mistake of sending her to MI to live with SO for 3 weeks during the transition to living in MI.  She was SO happy as a single cat.  The look on her face when everyone else moved to MI was priceless, she was pissed and she didn't forgive us for over a year.  Seriously.  She wanted to be an only cat and didn't let us forget it.  She never, ever played with the other cats and only tolerated the dog.  

Mouse has always been in good health, which is good considering her dislike of vets, but this July she started being off.  She lost weight, didn't want to really eat and finally looked bad so I brought her in.  Her T4 (thyroid level) should have been 2-4.8 and it was a 26.  We had to play with medicine levels and treatments to find what worked but by late September we had her leveled out and pretty happy.  October she did very well, she got ringworm (from the vet's office, its the only place that makes sense) but was in exceptional weight, ate very well, took her meds like a champ and her coat was looking really good again.  After some home remedies/horse treatments failed, I got meds to treat the ringworm was advised I should shave her down too. Yikes, did I want to live?  Lol!  I went to PA over the weekend and got back on Monday.  Mouse was still great and she got a bath with the special shampoo but didn't shave her.  Yesterday Mouse ate her entire breakfast.  I bothered her at lunch and made her sit on the couch for a little bit.  She was fine, her ringworm scabs weren't as prominent.  I was rushed after work and went out to ride quickly, when I came back in to feed dinner to the inside animals she was already gone.  When she didn't come to her bowl, I looked for her and found her in front of the dog's bowl.  She was lying down, looking asleep if not for her open eyes and stiff body.  I am in shock as it was so sudden, I wasn't ready.  With Arimus I was able to prepare and expected it, I didn't expect this with Mouse.  I can only assume it was a blood clot or her heart gave out, I am pretty sure she didn't suffer.  I have now lost 2 buddies in 30 days :(  RIP guys, I am glad I was able to improve your lives as much as I could.

Grumpy cats can still play, just not with others

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Kitten spam

This kitten, I swear.  She is a cutie.  Also a terrorist, but still a cutie.  She actually made friends and played with our Maine Coon before he succumbed to cancer.  She has decided she doesn't mind the dog (finally) and will play with her despite the dog having no real idea what the heck the kitten is doing.  She has this (annoying) habit of walking on my face to help wake me up when she hears the alarm go off.  If she isn't already snuggled with me, she will walk on my face and plop herself on my face/neck.  Helpful kitten helps.

She is already a chunky 4lbs and is really growing.  It is crazy to remember that she was 1.8lbs when I found her at the beginning of Sept.  She is now UTD on shots, microchipped and was just spayed.  She tries to play with the other 2 indoor cats but they don't really have any desire to be friends.  Yet anyway.  I know the oldest won't make friends, she hates everyone except SO and I, but I think the other (only now? :( ) tabby will make friends with her soon enough.

So here is kitten spam as filler.  Why?  Because 3 back to back trips to PA (load, drive 11hrs there, unload, turn around, drive 11hrs home within the same weekend) makes for little to no blog material. you go.
RIP :(  Playing with Danica before cancer took him 
Friend time or warm body?
Attack cat
Now with extra bitey!
Cuddle Queen
Watching carefully for things that need attacked
Extra snuggles after her spay.  Nekkid belly!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Let's talk about nets. Slow feed hay nets

Ever since I have owned App, which is 20+ years now, he has been a pig.  Not a swine kind of pig but a pig in his stall.  Although I have cleaned a lot of stalls in my day and, overall, he isn't THAT bad, he isn't that good either.  He does a great job of mixing his poo in his bedding and will mix his hay in with the pee and poo as well, because only the best will do his delicate palate.  He is also a waster and will waste his hay if given an ounce more than that which will satisfy his starvation.  Ah horses.

When I moved to MI and I had to pay for hay, I knew exactly what I was going to do.  I was feeding exclusively in hay nets.  And I have, exclusively.  I have the 2" hole slow feed hay nets in stalls and I double bag for outside use so that they can eat even slower.  Cause I am a bully that way lol.  I use the cheaper nets (tough one, shires, etc) and usually buy them at trade shows for $6-9 per bag.  I usually end up going through 2-4 bags a  year as they get holes in them (thanks to my velociraptors) and I have to semi-regularly (few times a month) do "net surgery" where I have to fix/replace the drawstring or tie holes shut with baling twine until I deem the net deader than dead and replace it.  I have done this for 5 winters now and it has worked well enough.  In the dead of winter I can fill 3 bags with 16lbs of hay each and after 12 hours, the horses either still have just crumbs left or they have been without hay for only an hour or so and have barely a forkful of waste. That is really good IMO.

On the plus side with this method, I have very little waste, the horses have hay for long periods of time, I can control exactly how much hay they are getting, I can control inventory and it is very high quality hay that I can inspect very closely as they are square bales.  The downside is time and effort.  When people help out, they HATE the nets.  They take me about 10 mins to fill and hang, others take twice as long.  You then are carrying the hay 10-15+ pound bags from the barn to their hanging spots.  There is a LOT of poop around the hay spots as the horses stay there almost 20 hours a day.  There is a LOT of urine spots around there as well and App has zero problem urinating exactly where he is eating.  This causes some dropped hay to be urinated on as well, which then has to be thrown away.  *sigh*

This winter I have this whole up-in-the-air about the move.  Will I?  Won't I?  When will I?  I didn't want to buy a full years worth of hay only to sell the property a week later and lose that money.  I am not looking forward to taking care of the entire farm by myself through the winter either.  If I didn't work full time, it wouldn't be any big deal but I work full time, take care of the 10 acre farm full time plus try to find time to ride, visit SO in PA, see friends, etc.  I have a lot going on.  One idea I had to reduce work was to try round bales.

Now, just to be clear, I hate round bales.  I have hated round bales for a very long time.  Why do I hate round bales?  There is just so much waste.  There is so much dust in the bales.  You can't see when there is mold or when quality has degraded.  Most are stored outside so the top few inches of the entire bale are already crap.  Did I mention the waste?  I have read that horses waste up to 50% of a round bale, I wouldn't be surprised!  They tear it out of the bale, drop half of it, stand on it, pee on it, poop on it, use it as bedding and you watch your dollar bills be chucked into the dumpster.  Ugh!

But I want to reduce work.  I want to save time.  I am willing to try anything.  So I called around and found someone who has round bales and kept them inside.   And would deliver a 4'x5' for $45.  Okay, fine, I will try it out.  I got 3 and made a note that I wanted to order a net.  I looked up the cost of round bale nets, they are $150-$200.  Eek!  Perhaps a round bale wouldn't be so bad I said.  I put a round bale at the end of my arena on a Wednesday.  The horses KNEW it was for them as I was removing the string and I felt like someone opening the doors of WalMart on Black Friday, I would have to do my business and jump back FAST.  The horses, well they were in HEAVEN.  They certainly liked the hay and stood in front of it all day.  That evening, I looked on in horror.  The waste, omg.  I threw the equivalent of at least 2 flakes of hay out every single feeding as they were covered in urine/poop. I raked the unsoiled hay that was left on the ground into a pile behind the bale so hopefully they would eat it later.  The big round bale lasted my horses 9 days before it was eaten to the ground.  Gone people.  The farmer said a bale should last 2.5 weeks and they ate it in 9 days!  Plus it was taking 15-20 mins per feeding just to clean up the mess of the hay and all 3 horses had a cough.  This was not working.

I researched and did my homework.  I found the cheapest 4x5 slow feed hay net was about $170. Well damn, that is out of my budget.  So I started dong more research.  Looking on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, wholesalers.  There are some sellers who sell repurposed fishing net however they couldn't tell me the tensile strength and I knew my heathens would destroy the netting if it wasn't strong enough. I was not willing to take the chance on the $40 plus shipping for it to be destroyed within a week.  I finally found a seller who sold bulk netting by the foot.

I learned you want a minimum of #30 net, #36 or #42 netting.  These nets have a break strength of 300lbs, 350lbs and 400lbs, respectively.  So strong enough for velociraptors.

Net porn, all naked and on display
There is also a very large range of hole sizes and I knew 4" holes would not work for us.  Hell, I didn't even want 2" holes, I wanted 1" holes.  Unfortunately 1" holes in the size I needed was too cost prohibitive so I ended up with 1.5 inch holes.

1.5 in holes, bale after 3 days of nonstop eating
No where seems to have the measurements for round bale nets.  How much net do I need?  Why is this a proprietary secret?  I knew I needed a minimum of 9" high and 16 feet around, I ended up buying a 10x20 net.  Your results may vary, however for a 4x5 round bale, it is a little large but the size makes it very easy to install the net.  I would recommend it again and even for a 5x5 bale.
Room for everyone!
I then found a old clothesline and tied the 10' sections together so it would be round.  This took about an hour, hand tying knots in 1.5 increments with a 25' line.  To save $100?  Sure I can do that!  I then took a heavy duty metal quick link and wove it through the net for the bottom and wove the remainder of the rope through the top for a drawstring.  Score!
See those sexy knots, hand tied by me personally
I used the tractor to bring out a new bale and threw the bag on the bale like a pillow case.  I then flipped the bale onto its side with the tractor and closed the drawstring.  I scooped up the bale and set it where I wanted it and, since I had plenty of drawstring left, I threw the drawstring over the rafter to help "tie" the bag up so the horses wouldn't be walking on it since I don't have a round bale ring.  We are now coming on day 4 of them having round bale 2 and it is looking much better.  The waste is about identical, if even less, than the hay bags when using square bales.  It takes me about 30 seconds to rake up the single fork full of hay that is scattered around the round bale and I throw it behind the bale for them to eat later.  And now, it is virtually no work.

Easily able to obtain hay through the net
Overall I am impressed!  I didn't expect it to go this well and I am pleasantly surprised.  I think the bale will now last the 2.5 weeks that I expected, there is virtually no waste and the round bales are significantly cheaper than square.  The cough each horse had has also went away since they can't shove their heads deep into the bale.  If I had more funds, I would have preferred the 1" or 1.25" holes but I think 1.5" is working well.  And, after 4 days, not a single tear in the net.  Win!  Let's see how it holds up long term now....

Nom nom nom

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fails, wine and kitten

This is a very short, melancholy, wine filled post.  That I couldn't proofread.  Sorry peeps, feel free to skip.

 Mia was successful in recovering from her abscess and I went to PA for the weekend.  A nice short 11.5 hour, one way drive.  I got the call on Sunday morning, Mia was very lame again, this time on her left hind.  The diagonal opposite of the last lameness.  Of course she was.  When I got back Sunday night (after another fun 11 hour, one way drive), she was almost 3 legged lame.  Very uncomfortable and unhappy, she had zero desire to put her heel down and her hoof was very warm.  I slathered ichthammol on her hoof 2x a day and she is much better now.  She is still short at the trot but pretty sound at the walk.  I weaned her off of bute yesterday so I am hoping to see her true pain level tonight.  I don't think it has popped but it isn't causing her as much pain.  Another week lost!

Things have been very hectic here and it is affecting me more than I would prefer.  The biggest one is that our farm here in MI still hasn't sold.  I am extremely down about the whole situation, I think we were lead astray by our realtor at the start and it was priced way too high.  I also don't know what she is DOING other than listing it on websites.  The video that was taken has never been posted on youtube or put on realtor/zillow/etc.  This has caused stress from knowing whether I need to buy hay for the winter to how am I going to plow since I sold the blade for the tractor to regrets of our selling stuff I could use but sold because this was supposed to sell fast.  Ugh.  Add wine.

Things are not super better at in other aspects, the brake lines blew in the van as we were bringing it to PA, thankfully we were only 10 mins from the house at the time.  Wine night.  The tires on the car trailer are dry rotted so SO stole the tires off of my horse trailer so he could move the racecar.  My trailer is literally sitting on blocks.  Fail.  Add more wine.   Then today, for example, I got a showing request.  Awesome!  Except I was working and they wanted a showing in 2.5 hours from when I got the call.  UHHHH!!!  I have lived in a "staged" house condition since it was listed so it doesn't take long to have it go from "clean, ready to go" to "staged" but I was working!  I took off of work for the 2.5 hours to finish staging the house, dragging the arena, sweeping the barn and stashing all of the animals/toys/litter boxes/etc and I was SO impressed with myself because I got it done. All by myself in 2.25 hours!!  I took the 15 mins to go eat a banana and check in on work when I saw an email.  The people canceled 15 mins prior to their arrival.  Are you fricken kidding me?!?!  They ended up rescheduling for tomorrow but geez.  Was so bummed.  Guess what is happening tonight?  Wine.

The bright spot, however, is this dang kitten.  She is SO sweet and fricken adorable.  And a ferocious panther.  She sleeps under the covers and cuddles ALL of the time.  With EVERYONE.  She is really good for car rides and I even brought her to the farm store and she wasn't scared of anything.  Very inquisitive and curious of who would pet her.  So damn cute.  She is now 3.5 pounds and SO big in comparison from when I got her.  She now has her own collar, flies up and down stairs and chases the other cats in an attempt to play.  Anyway, here is kitten spam, doing what she does best.  Cuddling.
Sleepy sleep

Why did you disturb me?

What you doing?  I get you!

Friday, September 25, 2015

In which all good plans fail.

The first weekend in October is the last big show of the season.  I am actually in 2nd place for year end points so I am pretty excited and felt good that we should be able to secure our spot and even possibly move to first place!  That would be so cool, go out with a bang and all.  Alas, that didn't happen.  After shows, I always give the horses some time off.  Dressage shows equal about a day, going cross country warrants about 3 days off.  This gives them time to decompress, work out any stiffness and it is a reward for not being an ass.  I have done this for years.  Sunday was the show so I gave Mia a few, well earned days off.  Thursday the plan was to have the farrier appointment, do some cleaning and then ride and get ready for our show.  I had a XC lesson scheduled for the following Thursday (yesterday) at the venue the last show will be at, the timing was looking great.

Wednesday night when I brought the horses in for dinner, Mia was fine.  Thursday morning, I noticed she almost looked like she was standing more on her right leg than her left.  Could be coincidence, I let it go. When the farrier came out, he noticed it too.  Not that she was being bad, just that she wasn't standing squarely.  He put hoof testers on her and found nothing, no heat, no swelling, no reactions.  She didn't look lame.  Thursday night I went out to ride and Mia came in gimpy.  Damn.  She had no real heat but was definitely gimpy.  I gave her half of a gram of bute and slathered her hoof in ichthammol and kicked her back outside.  Friday she was 3 legged lame and her hoof was warm.  Damn it!  Entries to the last show were due on Tuesday, I put mailing that entry in off as long as possible.

I kept Mia's hoof slathered in ichthammol and kept her up with bute but to no avail, Tuesday morning, while much better, she was still a little gimpy and her hoof is still a little warm so I didn't send in my entry.  And canceled my XC lesson.  Damn it.  Last night she actually looked sound at the walk but I didn't have time to put her on the lunge to check her at the trot.  I think her abscess may have blown out of her frog, I can't really tell though.  Her hoof is still slightly warm on the inside wall.  Oh well, there is no reason she can't have a bunch of time off now anyway, so no rush.  I am disappointed we are missing our last show and our last chance to move up in points but it is what it is.  A sound horse is more important than a ribbon.  Horses, the only way to ensure a slow transition to insanity.

In other news, K and I were driving home from ice cream after Labor Day and as we turned onto my road, we saw eyes.  Lots of eyes.  Little bitty eyes on the side of the road.  Kittens.  One of the big downsides of living is the country is people just dropping off animals.  I had K stop and back up until the car headlights highlighted them and hopped out to grab them.  I can't in good conscience leave what looked like dumped kittens.  I saw 3 and was able to grab two.  I handed them off while I chased down the third through the ditch using the flashlight app on my phone.  (It was only 10p at night with heavy cloud cover and all.  Total darkness.)  I grabbed it and as I walked back to the road, one kitten escaped K's grasp and went running across the road into the corn field.  Well hell.  It was a black kitten too, of course.  I took my phone and went rummaging through the corn field for about 5 mins before I finally told K that I had to give up, I just could not catch it.  It was dark, it was a black cat, I am going through a corn field full of mature corn stalks, it simply runs faster than I can keep up and there was no ability to corner it.

Kittens the night we found them, after dinner and a bath
K started mewing as a last ditch effort to catch this last kitten and now and behold, the dang thing started going to her!  It didn't want her to touch it but I was able to come up behind the kitten and grab it as it was now in the ditch by the cornfield.  Success!  Except now there was a 4th kitten trotting in the road towards K's mewing.  Argh, more!  I grabbed the 3 kittens while K grabbed the 4th and we waited around to see if we found any others.  Thankfully there seemed to have been only the 4, no more mewing was heard.  We brought them home and they were tiny. And super skinny.  And covered in fleas.  As in well beyond "having fleas", more into the "more flea than cat" category.  Damn!  We gave them each a quarter can of cat food, trimmed nails, gave them baths and put them in the dog crate which then went in the garage to keep fleas away from my animals.

Danica, 6 weeks old
The kittens were about 6-7 weeks old and super hungry, they got 3 baths and rinsed in apple cider vinegar (which, actually, worked pretty well) before finally hitting the 2 pound mark.  Once they hit that mark, they got Capstar to kill the remaining fleas and came inside and were then named Terrorists.  OMG kittens.  Into EVERYTHING.  I kept them for almost 2 weeks before I found homes for 3 of them and ended up with one left.  And of course it goes that the one that is left is not the cuddliest one of all.  The one who sleeps under the covers with me at night.  The one who spends 90% of my workday on my lap and wants nothing more than attention.    So, I guess it is time to introduce a new anklebiter, Danica Catrick.  Now I am keeping her.

Danica, 7 weeks old
Danica, 8 weeks old

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Holy cow!

So I posted about my show, happily catching up on some blogs and what catches my eye?

Dude, do you SEE that?  Do you SEE THAT?!?!

That says thirty followers!  Thirty of you people think I am halfway decent enough to follow, that is AWESOME and thank you so much!  I am super curious how you found me and thought I was interesting enough to follow.  I don't expect followers since I am so horribly slim on media and I post so rarely, the fact I have them surprises me all of the time.  Are you willing to share how you found my blog?  What you like about my blog?  What you wish I might do more in my blog? Here's to the next 30 followers, maybe it won't take almost 5 years this time! :-D

Friday, September 18, 2015

Going out with a bang Pt 2

We went back to the trailer to prep for cross country, since it is a derby it has stadium and xc jumps.  Ick, stadium.  Mia loves to knock poles down in stadium.  We warmed up and Mia was very....surprising.  At one point I went to K and asked if she had painted a horse to look like Mia, this horse was taking every button I had installed over the past 2 years and was responding to them.  The horse I know as Mia doesn't do that!  Closing my hips and half halting with my seat = collect and balance?  Check!  Obtaining a trot transition with my seat?  Check!  Adjusting a canter stride to meet a fence?  Check!  Jumping when I ask when the distance is off?  Check!
Screen cap of a video taken from a pretty far distance
Who is this horse I am riding?  I think I will keep her!  Warm up went really well and Mia only hit a pole once, she hit it really hard with her front legs and when she went over again, she jumped REALLY high to avoid hitting it again.  It was really funny and seemed to help as the rest of warm up was great.  My position was good (see pics, proof!), Mia was very in front of my leg and easy to control so we just hung out until it was time to go.

I wasn't 100% sure of the optimum time, I was pretty sure it was 6:28 or so, despite being almost a 2200 meter course I knew we would need to take the "scenic route" and trot a good bit.  We started off over the 4 stadium jumps and Mia was awesome.  She packaged herself up like I asked and didn't hit anything.  We took the "scenic route" to jump 5 which was a log and then drunk mare made an appearance as we struggled to get to fence 6.  Straight is not a direction she can do.  6 was a simple coop which she didn't blink an eye at but then we had to make it through some mandatory flags and through a path through weeds to get to 7.  Mia was quite sure she was not supposed to go there and we can to almost a walk before I could get her to go straight and listen to my aids.  Oh yeah, here is the mare I expect lol

Add caption
 As we went through the path, I came *this* close to dropping my crop and I panicked, at this point I NEED my crop!  I can't lose it!  I grabbed my crop, just barely, and had to then arrange reins, barely in time to make a 90 degree turn to get to fence 7.  I gave Mia a swat with the crop just in case she was hesitant after my scramble and we took a leisurely stroll to the water.  Which she didn't care about.  We then had a fairly significant downhill slope to the next 3 stadium fences so I sat up, sat back and asked for her to slow down AND SHE DID.  We went over fence 9 at almost a trot and 10 was clear.  I dropped her back down to a trot for a very tight 90 degree turn to fence 11 and I wasn't sure, she couldn't possibly have gone clear over everything so far?  I made a mental note to ask K and galloped through the field to fence 12.

Taken from VERY far away, still a decent enough screenshot
12 was an uneventful log, 13/14 was an uneventful 3 stride but I noticed I was coming in right ON time.  Hmm, I should pick up the pace.  We went to 15 and I gave her a swat as she was playing drunk mare and I didn't want her to run out, 16 was an easy baby corner.  17 was a baby ditch and I wasn't super excited about it but Mia could have cared less.  Maybe one day I will forgive her for my falling off lol.  In my coursewalk, I planned to make a huge, long scenic route however I wanted to save some time now that I was riding it so I cut the corner and went to 18, 19 and 20.  We went to 20 when I looked and saw we were at 6:15.  Crap!!  I still had 4 stadium jumps left!  Apparently I was taking the scenic route TOO much or we were doing too well at rating our speed.  My two options were to gun it to make time or be cautious and go clear and take time faults.  I knew I had to have 10 time faults before I would equal one stadium fault so I took the latter option.  I sat up, sat back and got Mia over each stadium fence in a dressage canter without knocking any down AND came in at 6:36.
Better than no media!
Despite our time, I was actually really happy with our ride.  Not only did Mia go clear, it was the first time that I felt like we were a team instead of two individuals that had the same task.  I felt like she listened to my input and actually agreed to some of it, that is a first!  We had a pretty long wait for our scores and when they finally posted them, I was in shock.  I was actually speechless.  Not only did we get a personal high score of 32.1 in dressage, which had us in second place after dressage, we did NOT have time faults because optimum time was actually 6:39 AND we were in first place after a refusal from the first place competitor.  AND we actually won prize money!!!  I am so, so, so happy with my mare!  The fact that she listened and responded to me is huge!  The fact that she did so well in dressage is awesome.  I am also very, very happy with our prize money because now we can afford to go to the last horse trial of the season which is in 3 weeks.  Time to keep on practicing!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Going out with a bang Pt 1 **VIDEO!!!**

I have been really bad, I haven't ridden as much as I need to.  My fitness?  Only up to 4 minutes of two point when I should be closer to 7 minutes.  Dressage?  Only a couple of times a week.  This whole moving business is sure throwing things into a tailspin.  We moved a large load of stuff over Labor Day weekend, which in itself was a comedy of errors as the brake lines broke on the van, we had to weld stuff to unload an engine from the truck and a 10 hour trip turned into 12.5.  One way.  Oy!  PLUS the entire week prior to Labor Day that I spent packing and not riding was for naught, nothing that I packed was sent to PA due to the issues.  ARGH!  A week of riding lost.

I did ride on Tuesday and Wednesday though and worked on dressage.  By Friday, when we barely were working on dressage, she was coming together nicely.  I rode her for 20 minutes after giving a lesson and she was really good!  Same when I rode Saturday night, we had a bit of a discussion when she was refusing to get off of my left leg but overall was very nice.  For someone who wasn't prepared, I would take it.

On Sunday we went to our last derby of the year, our last derby in MI.  There is one left in October but I won't be able to make it due to time and finances, so we might as well not prepare at all for this show.  Ha!  It didn't even feel like a show day!  K spent the night to save the driving and I didn't even bathe Mia (admittedly, it was only 42 degrees out Sunday morning) and washed only her socks.  Mia surprised all of us by, again, hopping right in the trailer.  Hmm, I will take it over her arguing about it!  We got to the show about the time I estimated and we meandered over to dressage and started warming up in the indoor arena.  I started to get concerned.

Bored mare is bored
Mia was being unusual.  As in....listening.  Listening to me.  ME!  I actually felt her over to make sure she didn't have a fever or anything, K said she was looking good so I just kept going.   It was interesting, when I asked, Mia just did it.  Here.  At a show.  In a strange arena.  Where was my horse?!?  I like this one instead!  We went to the outdoor warmup ring to await our turn and my horse came back as she spooked at some poles on the ground (of course she did) but then settled down and got right to work.  The ride before us was the only one I watched and it went really well, damn we had stiff competition.  The whistle blew and in we went.

Mia was remarkably straight in our entrance and turned nicely.  She was quite consistent in the bridle through our first circle and had a good rhythm.  Our first canter departure was a little bobbly but the canter was quite nice as I controlled just her shoulders, it just flowed together.  Our free walk was pretty good though she only really gave a great freewalk in the last quarter of the diagonal.  She didn't stretch as much as she could nor have fantastic march.  Her transition to trot was prompt and the circle was actually good, this is where it usually falls apart!  Her last canter transition was.... sassy... and it took until the first corner for me to get her back under control but the circle went well.  The only thing I really messed up was the last turn up the centerline, I was too far right but opted to stay straight instead of drifting over since it was already blown.  I came out of the ring very happy, this is probably the best test she has ever ridden!  The only argument she gave me was in the last canter transition and it was really minor.  That is real progress!!

Monday, August 31, 2015

An unexpected schooling

Moving.  Moving sucks.  Packing sucks.  Packing all the things sucks.  Trying to go through crap that you don't use because it is SO's and he isn't here to pack his crap sucks.  Most of my riding time has been eaten up with packing/sorting and it just isn't fun.  As a result, my mind has been revolting and has found every single damn opportunity to distract me from packing.  Watch the last season of LOST (the best TV show ever, thank you very much)?  Sure!  Go to the movies with a friend?  Sure! Go to the lake with in-laws?  Why not?  Take an impromptu trip to go XC schooling?  Hell yes!  Guess how much packing was done? :)

On Wednesday, a FB friend made a comment that they were going to the venue that Mia had the 3 stops at during our first Horse Trial in case anyone was interested in joining.  An opportunity to go back and make sure we don't have these issues again? Why not!  K and I loaded up Sunday morning and hauled the 1.5 hour trip, met the friend and hopped on.  Mia was pulling her OMG I can't even horse!  Shying at anything, inability to go straight, looking at everything.  It is better than it used to be, I think even more exposure will help.  Since we were in a great big field, I just pushed her forward into a gallop and let her burn off some nervous energy before popping over a set of barrels.  She eyeballed it but went over.  We then went around to the log of jump 4 of the first Horse Trial and sent over it to the barrels, she eyeballed the jump 4 pretty hard before going over it and didn't care about the barrels.  Really mare?  You are thinking of stopping over a log?  Ah baby horses.

We played with going up and down banks and even tried the Training bank, jumping up a 3 foot bank, going 2 strides and then hopping over a 12 inch log to a 3 foot drop.  Mia was pretty unsure about the drop and I almost came off by jumping ahead of her, for the second time ever, however, she saved my butt and went down the jump.  Good mare!  The second time we attempted it I had to really convince her to go down with some smacks so after she did it, I let it be.  No sense in making a big deal out of it at this point in the day, that is training level!  We put together a course and Mia was mostly great.  She jumped everything we went at (including the scary intimidating jump from last year's HT) until we made a 90 degree turn.  She was really fighting me on speed and didn't see the jump until the last moment.  We went over ugly, with her hanging her legs, and landed with me not having reins anymore but I stayed on.  Mia is not good with surprises lol!

From there we played in the water, to which Mia was amazing with.  Absolutely no hesitation to canter into the water that she hadn't seen since spring AND we jumped out of the water via the Novice level log.  Easy peasy.  We went over to ditches (I hate ditches, have I mentioned that?) and I schooled over the BN ditch before moving over to the Novice ditch.  Mia was having none of it and I pictured myself falling off.  Again.  However after watching the friend go over it, she decided it was no big deal.  No big deal enough that she didn't care about any of the other ditches we went over.  AND we went over the Novice ditch to a training level log 2 strides away and she went over it amazingly.  Love this horse sometimes!!

We finished up with another course which was uneventful.  She cantered up, she jumped, she rode away, sometimes trying to take off, other times not.  The friend noticed that Mia puts her head down after jumps, I am not sure if she believes me that Mia is GREAT compared to how she was at the beginning of the year.  Mia hasn't been putting her head to the ground at all and only tried to put her head down on landing once the entire day.  Training win!

Overall it was a good day with no real issues.  I need to be taller and not get ahead of myself when jumping Mia.  I need to wait more, especially over ditches and down banks.  Thankfully my two point was on par and while my legs are tight today, they are not sore.  And as a result of taking more fun time, I got exactly two boxes packed yesterday.  Oops.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mastering these haunches

What do I need?  Lessons.  I really need lessons with M but unfortunately they are not even close to cheap and I just can't swing it right now.  As a result, my dressage isn't where I had hoped it but we are getting there.  One thing that really spoke to me is a post I read about controlling haunches from  She was having issues with cantering and found it was actually an issue with the haunches.  Hmmm....

I don't typically have issues with Mia's canter anymore (typically....) however I DO have issues with her haunches when we are going left.  Her haunches tend to drift/fall out and she won't stay straight.  It is very annoying.  I have tried doubly hard to ensure I am not pulling her haunches by using too much rein and that I am not pushing her haunches by using too much leg and they still drift, drift, drift away to the outside.  So I decided I should work on it.

We started at a walk and Mia didn't want to listen to the right leg.  I get it, it is my bad leg and it isn't as strong as my right but you can respect it Mareface.  I grabbed the dressage whip to help reinforce the leg and progress was made.  I was very firmly using my outside leg slightly behind the girth to make her do a haunches in and then had to work even harder to get it on a circle but we did get it.  After working on this at a walk for about 15 minutes we went into a trot and it was cool.  I started to have control of her haunches and could direct them to be in or let them drift out and I could actually tell the difference when she drifted.  Progress!   I think another ride or two and she will "get it" and stop drifting so much.  We made much better progress on this ride than we have in previous ones.

I also am working on having much shorter reins to try to combat this persistent inconsistency in the bridle.  Her constant grabbing, releasing, unsteady contact is also very annoying and I am trying really hard to make sure it isn't me.  I worked very hard to ensure my hands were not pulling backwards and micromanaging and unless my reins are really, super short, she won't keep contact.  So it is another thing we are working on. I am thinking I will have the equine dentist out to see if that turns up any issues, maybe she has tooth issues?  Just need a little more funds, you know, thanks to the big purchase in PA.

Last night was my last ride until probably Tuesday as I am now preparing to race the racecar again this weekend.  Not my thing but apparently since I drive fast, I was given no choice.  Damn obligations!  Then we will have 3 weeks until our next show, keeping fingers crossed we can get our dressage together and get great scores again!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Present and accounted for

Things are happening here in this little slice of heaven, I have finally started having showings on our farm (finally) and am just waiting for someone to come along and give us an offer.  We have had 4 showings in 2 weeks, hoping for even more!  The big piece of news, however, is that we now own a house in PA.  A really pretty one, I think, and it is in very good shape so there is virtually no "work" needed to it.  Win!

Over this past weekend I went to PA to sign my life away close on the PA house and moved some basic stuff in.  A bed, basic kitchen supplies, bath stuff, etc.  SO will be staying there on the weekends that he doesn't come back to MI and I will be going out there so time to start moving some stuff!  The biggest task *(so far) is now complete, now time to start packing up the MI house and slowly move it to PA.  So much packing to do!

The horse, surprisingly, is actually being ridden though!  We have done a few dressage rides which have been okay.  Nothing spectacular, certainly nothing to talk much about.  Now that we have closed in PA, maybe I can find some funds to take those much needed lessons again.  Ugh.  I did end up having a jump school last Sunday with K and TWH and it went really well.  Our gymnastic was a placement jump to 18' vertical to 20' oxer to 19' vertical in an effort to practice lengthing and shortening our stride within jumps.  Mia did SO well at it, K kept accusing me of having already done this before on Mia.  I hadn't, I promise!  Mia was just responding so damn well that it was pretty easy for her.  Ha!

Crappy cell phone screencap of cell phone video!
We only went up to 2'6" which is the max that K is comfortable jumping and only a max oxer of about 3 foot due to very heavy rain that was coming in and we ran out of time.  We were literally running our last rounds with thunder and low light.  Yikes!  BUT look at my position, WIN!  Again my heels are down, I am looking UP and while very slightly ahead of Mia and while not as closed in the hip as I would prefer, it is still a good pic.  Yay for basics fixing stupid habits that had developed!

I will certainly be riding on Wednesday though I am not sure how much I will be riding over the next few weeks as I concentrate on some packing.  If someone would make an offer on my farm within the next 30 days, it would simultaneously make my life SO much easier and SO much harder and I would be very thankful for it.  Keeping fingers crossed!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

It's the little things

I spent a lot of time reviewing the dressage test.  Mia is very inconsistent in the contact and isn't stepping under herself but there is no reason for us to have gotten a 4 on that first trot circle.  I did a search of the judge and she is apparently a "real" dressage judge, a "r" judge who is okay to judge to second level.  Still very annoying.  PLUS my internet is crappy enough that I haven't been able to upload the video despite trying 3 different times so I can't even share it to PROVE that it wasn't a 4 quality circle.  Grrr.  Can you tell it is really bothering me?  LOL!  I keep reminding myself it is only one person's opinion at one moment in time.  And she judged everyone harshly.

What I did see, however, was a HUGE improvement in my jumping.  As I realized at our last show, I had some very serious issues that were not fixing themselves.  And while I didn't do a huge amount of jumping between then and now, I did do some and what I did, I forced myself to work on myself every time.  Only small jumps, paying special attention to my position over each fence.  I think it paid off!

Take this picture for example.  She has come in slightly close and, as a result, is making a very nice round effort.  I am slightly butt high in the saddle but my heels are nicely down, my hands are soft and on her neck and I am not off balance.

 Take this big ass Novice table.  It is a little bigger IRL than in the pic, I think the pic makes it look small.  To me anyway LOL!  Again my heel is nicely down which has anchored my weight nicely.  My leg is vertical and my back is straight and my head is up.  This was actually a cool scenario because I lost my reins as I was landing.  In about .3 seconds, I lose my right rein and land with only one rein.  Thankfully Mia was behaving quite nicely (this was right after her "surprise" at the combination) and I survived without her taking off on me.

This is also a Novice level fence, though it is more wide than tall so it doesn't look as impressive as above.  Mia has given a good effort and I am not thrown out of the tack.  I still have my heels down and nice soft hands.  I am following her motion and it is going to be a good landing even with her looking at the camera instead of where she is to be going.

This is my new favorite picture as it shows what I am SUPPOSED to do if I ride like a fricken Novice rider instead of a damn noob.  What you don't see is my head.  In every single picture, I am looking up and ahead.  Not a single jump that weekend had me looking at her damn ears, that is something I do ALL THE TIME.  Why do I look at her ears or down towards the jump??? Who knows, but it has been SUCH a bad habit.  It wasn't around on this weekend!

Here is something I don't typically do.  I am posting some of my fails.  I know they are fails, no need to flame me, repost them saying how bad they are, etc.  I know they are bad :(

The bad pictures.

Heel's y'all.  Where are the heels.  At least I am balanced?
This one isn't *too* bad if you can overlook no weight in my heels and the fact I am looking down.  And pulling on her face. Mare came at a distance that was too close.  Eh, this could be overlooked.

What the doh am I doing?  Tring to jump behind the saddle?
Being left behind.  No weight in heels.  Don't worry folks, it gets worse.  At least I am not yanking on her face and am not about to fall off.

The worst pictures.

Fail, fail, fail.
This is, sadly, from our last show.  Now I know that conditions were horrible but look at this mare.  She is trying, she is kind of round and WTH am I doing, trying to fall off???  You don't see my roached back and looking straight down.  Can you say zero weight in the heels?  This would be such a good picture if I rode like I knew what a horse was.

Heels.  Need weight in those damn heels!
 This is an interesting pic, as is the next one.  You can see how hard the wind is blowing by the fact every single leaf in the background is turned to the right with the wind.  Me?  Well hands are in my crotch, no weight in heels, stirrup is in my arch instead of by my toes, jumping ahead, looking down, roached back, blech.

This picture is actually one of the best of the entire weekend, I am including it so you can see how hard it was raining during our ride.  Me?  Well no weight in stirrups but am not yanking on the mare's face and am not being thrown out of the saddle so that is progress.  XC went much better.

So overall, I am happy.  It is the little things, I was horrified by my performance at our last show enough to make a significant difference.  And I am seeing a significant difference!  In every picture from this past weekend I was looking UP, my heels were DOWN and my back was flat (as much as it can appear in a vest).  So I am going to keep getting better because I finally reached the bottom and am only coming back up.  Here is to better equitation all around!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Post show recap - the catching up

Oh man where does the time go, I wish I knew.  The show seems simultaneously so long ago and yet like it was just yesterday.  Between sick cats requiring multiple visits (with more still coming!) to the vet, coordinating home inspections and appraisals in PA, a weekend filled with working on the racear with SO and still working full time, trying to find time to write about my show is....has not been happening.  *sigh* maybe one day.  Maybe one day.

We went on Saturday to go schooling at the show before the show which was Sunday, I LOVE that we can school Derbies the day before.  With Ms Unpredictable, the extra security that adds make me much happier and seems to make Mia much more confident.  We went on Saturday and had a great ride, it was very uneventful.  I almost fell off only once so that is good.  AND it wasn't even at the damn ditch so that is a bigger improvement!

We were jumping the entire Novice course as well, training and all lol, and we came to the combination.  Mia had been pulling with ALL her might while rushing into the first jump and was not listening at all.  She easily cleared the first jump but was super surprised by the second element.  The landing for the first element had me off balance and I was too forward to the second jump.  Mia came to almost a stop and I remember very specifically going "$&#@ I am coming off and this is going to hurt".  Instead of actually stopping or darting out like I expected, Mia shocked me and jumped the log from almost a standstill.  That was enough to throw me back into the saddle and I stayed on.  Oh mare, I LOVE YOU!!!  I almost forgive you for the fall at the ditch.  Almost.  Because my arm is still messed up.

A nice big ass Novice table, Mia didn't care in the least
From then on Mia was much better.  She no longer tried to plow herself to the jump and actually listened to what I had to say.  Yay mare!   We went over the BN ditch a few times and Mia didn't care so I figured I would put her over the Novice ditch. You know, the one I fell off at in April?  I have come to really dislike ditches when they are the bottom of hills.  I put her to the ditch and again she stopped.  Instead of smacking her like last time, I took a much slower approach and let her think about it while keeping a strong hold on the wither strap of the breastplate.  After 2 attempts from one side, we went to the other and she stopped and looked at it but jumped it.  We circled around and jumped it again and then from the first side.  Ditches, we gonna make them our bitches.

Sunday we were able to haul out around 9a (love close shows!) and Mia actually seemed to want to go into the trailer.  On Saturday she was hesitant and I had to correct her once, on Sunday it seemed like she drug me to the trailer.  Well, I will take that!  We warmed up and while she wasn't giving spectacular work, she was riding pretty decently.  In no time we went into the ring.

I thought the test rode pretty decently.  No real arguments, she gave me good transitions and bits of bend.  She was still tense and didn't WANT to bend, but she did give me some bend.  She drifted her haunches out a little but she has been doing that so whatev's.  We went back to the trailer and waited, no biggie.  They posted scores and I went up and looked.  And became pretty pissed.

The judge gave us a 44%.  Not only that, she gave us a score of a 4 on the first trot circle.  WTF?  I mean WT actual F??  I looked at the video several times and do NOT see where a 4 is deserved at all, thankfully dressage was over by then because otherwise I may have had to have had a conversation with this "judge".  I was not happy.  She did seem to be a "tough" judge, however, as we were tied for 6th out of 12.  So she scored at least half of the class over 44%.  Grrr.  Schooling shows people, give some actual feedback if you are going to give low scores.

Mia warmed up to XC quite nicely despite feeling a little tired.  She wasn't knocking fences and after we went over the XC warmup fence a second time, she was the XC machine.  We went off and the first fence rode nicely.  Mia tried being drunk horse going to the 2nd fence and then settled down for the next 2.  When we were approaching fence 5, she decided to start shying.  At everything.  She shied from a person. She shied from a shadow of a tree.  She shied at a rock.  By the time we got to the fence, I honestly truly thought she would run out due to how crooked and off center she had become.  Like a rock star, however, she went ahead and jumped the rolltop anyway which made me so proud.  Maybe that spring show is just going to be a fluke after all!

This is my new favorite picture.  Love both of our positions
The rest of the course rode very nicely.  Mia was getting pretty tired as we came up to the last 3 stadium fences.  You know, the ones she likes to knock down.   I had even trotted her a lot to help eat up time (in case of a tie breaker and all) and let her catch her breath and she was still going to be almost 30 seconds too fast.  We went over fence 14 and I had to really pull her up to fence 15 as she was getting way to heavy and fast.  We came to the last fence and I asked her to jump and she just hesitated.  I am not sure if she was tired or just timed wrong but she brought the damn pole down.  Grrr!!!

We finished 20 seconds too fast but I felt good about it.  I actually felt good overall, Mia saved us over fence 5 when she could have very easily run out.  She was tired but still going and I felt fantastic.  Good enough I could have easily rode another stadium OR cross country ride.  That isn't something I can often say after an almost 6 minute course, ha!  She got a really nice cool down and a quick bath with a touch of menthol.  We hung around and then finally got our results.  Thanks to my pacing on xc, I was successfully able to break the tie and wound up ahead of the other rider.  And we also moved up to 4th.  Yes fourth out of 12!  With the horrible dressage score, I didn't think it was possible but am quite happy.  And to know that if we hadn't knocked the pole down, we would have gotten 3rd.  Wow.  That makes me happy.

Now comes the hard part, scheduling our next show.  I could have done this upcoming weekend if I wasn't buying a 2nd house but that leaves no funds for expensive USEA shows.  So I will be volunteering at it instead.  I wanted to go to a show on August 8th but now we will be closing on the PA house on the 6th/7th so that is out.  The next weekend, the 16th, is a possibility however it is the weekend before the next car race (22nd) and funds won't allow both and the car race entry is already paid.  Damn.  So it looks like my next shows will be in September, aiming for the 13th.  Until then, ride as much as I can and try to not stress out too much!