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!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Must. Ride. This. Horse.

Wow what a week.  On Friday I made the 9 hour trek to PA to look at houses. It went well and we actually put in an offer on a house.  It is on a smaller lot than I wanted, on only an acre, but the house is amazing and has been cared for exceptionally well.  It will certainly reduce the amount of daily work that I will have and leave more time for things like riding my horse.  We should hear this week, we expect a counter offer so let's see what happens!  Getting real folks, this is getting real.

I came home Monday and couldn't bring myself to do much of anything so last night I went ahead and rode.  I mean, I have a show in a week and a half.  I might as well put it off riding as long as possible, right!  I hadn't ridden since last Wednesday and that was a trail ride so I wasn't expecting a fantastic ride.  Which is good because I didn't get one.  Mia wanted to GO, didn't want to bend to the inside and had zero desire to keep herself balanced.  Ugh mare.  The zipper of my schooling boots won't stop splitting so I grabbed my dressage show boots for the ride.  Well, those don't have spurs on them at the moment and I didn't take the time to put some on so I fought the entire ride with just a whip.  Stop setting yourself up for failure girl!

After some arguments about speed, that we should not plow forward the second I stop pulling on your face and that your shoulder should in fact stay under you on a circle, Mia actually gave some good moments.  Our free walk is coming along quite nicely now that I am requiring her to put and keep her head down.  Or else lol.  Her right canter is much better as well, I was expecting fast giraffe with her head in my lap and amazingly enough she gave a pretty decent canter.  We even did some speed transitions using my seat and she listened!!! I was able to slow her right lead canter down to a slow trot speed for a few strides before letting her go with just my seat, that is progress my friends!

We didn't have a lot of beautiful dressage moments but for not riding dressage in over a week, it was a pretty good ride.  Due to my extremely busy schedule, I am not able to ride again until Friday however I plan on riding every day from then until the show on the 12th.  I even signed up for schooling on the 11th so any jumping issues should be well ironed out before the show.  Hopefully the weather is better than it has been for shows, the first horse trial was miserable with very heavy rain and 40 degrees.  Well, last weekend I was originally supposed to go to another horse trial but ended up going to PA instead.  Do you want to know what happened at that horse show?  It was 40 degrees again and rained so hard that they not only canceled cross country but didn't even finish all of the divisions over stadium.  They scored 3 divisions as dressage only and the rest as combined tests because the footing was SO bad.  AND it was a USEA show which are so much more expensive.  I would have been so upset at the weather and the canceling of the show if I had gone.  Though after seeing the show pictures, I likely would have scratched anyway.  The footing looked awful, just downright awful.  Way worse than the first horse trial and I am not sure I would have risked the injury.

So that is the happenings around here.  Apologies for the blog silence, hopefully things will slow down enough that I can blog.  Unfortunately the few times I have time, I have only my phone and, like many others, I despise blogging on my phone.  Hard to type, hard to edit, hard to format.  It isn't like I am World's Best Writer anyway, doing it on the phone just makes it so much worse.  So here's to updates and more updates!