Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Still here, on a different topic

Still existing, lots going on with the move.   I had a (car) race that I had to participate in.  I wasn't looking forward to it but ended up doing really well and I had the fastest laps of my team.  Good news/bad news.  Overachievers end up on the driving roster whether they want to be or not.  What did I like?  A lot of the skills for showing eventing kind of apply to racing cars.  How so you ask?  Well, let me share!

Razor focus is required for extended lengths of time.  Well, that is a given but I already have that skill down.  I have to gallop a feisty redheaded mare across fields that may have oddly covered grass that she may shy from or jump because, well, who knows.  Or run a cremello bombshell to some fences and he isn't quite sure if I am sane or not.  So intense focus is a check in my box.

Adaptability.  No big surprise, you need to be able to adapt to changing requirements and adapt fast.  Someone suddenly appears in your rear view mirror when you are making a turn and they are passing?  You need to be aware of them and aware if they screw up and almost take you out and adapt to that situation.  Suddenly your horse sucks behind your leg because OMG ditch?!?!  You have about .4 seconds to correct before you have a refusal and/or fall.  Can you do it?!?!  I can!

Fast decision making.  Again, no surprise.  You need to make split second decisions.  Apply the gas or the brake?  Upshift or downshift (manual cars, y'all)?  Fight to stay that line or drift?  Spur or crop or leg?  Move to avoid that log or try to jump it?  I didn't realize this was such an important skill that wasn't automatic to everyone until this past weekend.

Seeing your stride.  We know this, when we are riding we need to judge when to speed up or slow down to meet the distance.  Surprisingly enough, this is almost identical in racing.  Being able to see my speed and know just when to slow down or speed up was surprisingly easy for me and not the rest of my team.

Being able to see your line.  You know how it is, you approach a line of jumps.  You know where you need to be and where you need to end up.  Your mind automatically maps out the best way to get there with the least strides and maximum efficiency.  Turns out, racing is just like that!  Figuring out when to drift out of a turn vs fighting it and just "knowing" where you needed to be for your next turn helped tremendously in finding my racing line.  Also equating "Slow horse, efficient lines" to racing helped, "Slow car?  Efficient lines."  The little 140hp thing I drove couldn't match the mustang and higher horse powered cars but if I drove efficient lines I was technically driving less mileage than the cars that would swing wide.  Every mile/stride counts people!

Balance,  Not heels under hips and shoulder back but knowing how much you can push before things fall apart.  Feel things slide?  By now you probably have the adaptability and fast decision making skills to slow down just a tad without thinking about it so that you can grip and keep going.  Being able to feel the balance of the car is not all too different from feeling when Captain A-hole decides his shoulder cannot possibly stay underneath of himself. I can feel him fal

Overall it went well.  Very well.  We had engine problems and had to do a motor swap so we ended up 9th instead of 7th or 8th.  Out of all of the laps I ran (almost 200), I ran 86 of the fastest laps of the team.  And a lot of those lap times were faster than other teams running the race!  It certainly isn't my hobby, racing was cool and all but I detested people passing in turns.  Just wait till I am good and F'ing done before you pass me a-hole!  I was also commended for my driving at the awards ceremony of the race for avoiding a collision when someone was passing me in a turn and lost it.  I had thrown the car into grass and avoided a hit and apparently got a kudos for it!  I am glad to have done the race, I drove over 120 mph at a NASCAR racetrack.  I seriously kicked the ass of my two male teammates despite the fact I have never raced before.  It was good experience.

On the horse front, not a whole lot has gone on.  Lots of cleaning/packing.  Trying to keep the house in show-ready condition.  Trying to get the racecar ready for the race.  I have a show the second week of July so it is time to really buckle down and ride more than just trail rides again, I wonder if Mia remembers how to dressage still?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

In which she is redeemed

ur horse show was on Sunday, Mia's second ever Horse Trial.  It was a miserable, horrible, terrible day.  If it wasn't so expensive, I would not have even gone.  It went from sunny, dry and 80 degrees on Thurs/Fri/Sat to 47 degrees (as a high) and raining literally nonstop Saturday afternoon until Sunday night.  Rain that did not let up in the slightest and went from steady to heavy regularly.  And cold.  It was so damn cold.  Unfortunately I couldn't bring myself to give up THAT much money to scratch so after a quarter assed (not even half assed) bath on Sunday morning at 5a, K and I loaded up the horses and off we went.

I left super early to allow plenty of time to get there but didn't need it, we got there in the expected amount of time and so we all stayed in the truck and trailer until it was time to tack up.  I kept a rain sheet on Mia until I hopped up to keep her as dry and warm as possible and made the trek over to the dressage arena.  Thankfully they were allowing the indoor to be used for warm up, score!  Mia was very tight and cold, I had allotted a full 45 minutes for warmup and when the steward asked if we were ok to go early after 10 minutes, I gave her a resounding NO.  Mia finally warmed up and started actually working so we volunteered to go almost 20 minutes early.  Everything was sloppy, there were puddles, it was muddy sand.  It was horrible.  Thankfully they were letting people wear rain coats so there was that plus.

We went into the ring and sloshed through the test.  I thought the test went a little worse than it appears after watching the poor video, apparently it wasn't *too* bad.  She didn't have a great canter transition either direction, to the right was sticky and to the left had a small leap and she was above the bit.  She didn't have a great freewalk but overall I was happy.  Considering everything that was happening, she did really good.

Here is video, I can't figure out how to remove the audio so just mute it.  You can hear the rain and you can see how hard it is raining in the closer puddles, it is really crazy how hard it was raining.  We had a nice long walk back to the trailers where I threw her on the trailer and myself into the truck to try to warm up as I was soaked and freezing.  Even with my awesome raincoat, my thighs were not protected.  I had about 1.5 hours before jumping, stadium was going first followed immediately by cross country.  Fun?

I pulled the horses out of the trailer about 30 mins before I had to tack up for stadium so they could stand outside, stretch and pee if they needed, by the time I started get ready for stadium I found that the sheet I had bought at a tack swap and was using for Mia was not in fact waterproof.  Wonderful. Now I had cold, wet, shivering mare to warm up to go over stadium fences.  You know, the ones she always knocks down?  I walked her around several laps before trotting and she was really stiff.  I seriously considered scratching but tossed her over the crossrail to see how she would do.  What Mia did was light RIGHT up.  Gone was my stiff mare and she wanted to GO.  Apparently my jumping machine was back because after that first crossrail, she was all business and had zero problems telling me she wanted to jump.  Okay mare!

The stadium warmup and course footing was awful.  It was very churned up by having 4 divisions go first and it was very pock holed and slippery.  The stadium course actually went extremely well though, Mia fought me to go-go-go over fences 2 and 3 and ended up slipping in her hind end as I fought hard to keep her under control.  The rest of the fences rode very nicely and despite her trying to rip me out of the saddle, she kept all rails up and was under time.  Yay mare!  Me, on the other hand, good lord.  I need to ride more.  My equitation was bad, really, really bad.  I knew it was bad but then saw some pics?  Good lord, how embarrassing.  Back to crossrails for me!  Weight needs to STAY IN THE HEELS.

We went straight to cross country without delay and immediately jumped the warmup xc fence.  She went right to it and launched at it.  Eh, I will take that over what she did at the last show.  I turned her towards it again and my xc machine was back. She DRUG me to the fence.  We walked over to the start box and was sent out right away.  Fence 1 was an easy log and Mia just hauled ass.  I was trying to slow her up but she was galloping for all her might to fence 2 and then up the hill to fence 3.  I was able to slow her up in front of both but then she just went for it afterwards.  Well, this is better than a run out right?  I was able to control her a little better over fence 4, into the water at 5 and over 6.  She was a little sticky towards a green rolltop of 7 so a quick smack reminded her to go and she absolutely did.  I had to haul on her to get her to trot through a very slippery area of our course and trotted to a log of 8.  I immediately hauled her big head up and while she looked at the ditch of fence 9, she did pop over it after a reminder smack.  Good mare!  10 was easy and I was able to control her speed to get to an up-bank of fence 11 and a log going uphill to 12.  After fence 12 I was able to control her speed much easier (maybe she was finally tiring?) and went to an easy 13 and 14.  I actually couldn't remember where fence 15 was when I started the course and luckily it was right in the obvious path of 14 and 16.  If it hadn't been?  Oy!  15/16/17 all rode very nicely and I was able to actually trot her over the finish line under optimum time.  Good mare!

She was so good with the super crappy weather, I told her that I didn't care how she placed, it was a successful day to finish without any issues.  We went back to the trailer and I chucked her onto it and we then waited for OVER 3 FUCKING HOURS for them to post the results.  They didn't even have the dressage scores up until after we were done with cross country.  WTF??  We were tied for 7th after dressage and bumped up to 3rd after stadium.  After cross country?  I couldn't believe it, we got first.  YES we earned first place!

What did we learn?  My Mountain Horse rain suit is awesome and necessary.  People's definition of "rain coat" is not the same as mine, rain resistant is not the same as rain proof.  Always check the blanket/sheets you buy and don't assume they are waterproof, they may not be.  Mia does not like having to load and unload over and over throughout the day and will need a "reminder" to load properly at the end of the day.  Heavy rain will trash the trailer and require 6 loads of horse laundry to put things back to normal since every damn thing that was touched then needed cleaned.  In the best news, apparently my XC machine is back!  We are taking a break from shows until mid July due to schedules, between now and then we will look at houses in PA and this relocation thing starts to get real.  This year is flying by!