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!!