Thursday, October 20, 2016

2pointober, Saddles and Such

Mia really is doing a good job with being more mature, she really has grown up in the past 3 years but especially so in the past 8 months or so.  Last year she was just starting to decide to work with me instead of against me while jumping, now it is regular that she is with me.  This spring we were really fighting her in dressage, now she is pretty dang steady and I am hopping on with the expectation that we can get something done.  Progress indeed!
The shine is strong with this one
On Tuesday the saddle fitter came back out.  Technically the husband came out, they work as a husband/wife team.  They both were out to pick up the saddle and the husband brought it back, I have been talking almost exclusively with the wife.  Did I mention he was 20 minutes late, with no notice?

Fresh out of the car
I dunno.  I didn't love it.  I told him I didn't think it fit.  He said it did.  As we walked out to the arena, I asked him if he was sure he was happy with the saddle position and he said yes.  I asked him 3 times.  He said yes three times.  He watched us ride and jump and said it looked great.

Was disappointed, it doesn't look like it fits.  Still.
He said the saddle didn't rock and things looked good.  I told him it rode very well but it didn't fit.  You could see the wool "buttons"on the bottom of the left panel that extends down her shoulder, by the knee roll.  (Wow, descriptive huh.  I don't know the exact term, panel horn?  It is the squishy, wool part that is under the knee roll)  He went ahead and untacked and then said the saddle wasn't sitting far back enough, "See, it fits perfectly".  He then brought it out to his car and flattened the left panel a little bit to stop the rolling, causing me to see the "buttons".

After 2 rides, looks better IMO
Dude.  I asked you, repeatedly, before I started to make a scene.  Really?  My confidence in you just went to zero.  My understanding was he was to come out and make final tweaks to have it fit her perfectly.  I don't consider that a final tweak, that is "make this lady shut up" move.  I immediately hopped on the phone when he left and texted the wife and sent her pics.  She said to give it 3 rides and if I am sure it doesn't fit, she will come out.  As it is, she is going to come out in 3 weeks to look things over anyway.

Left shoulder, after 2 rides.  And a sweaty horse.
With that, I went ahead and rode in it really hard last night.  Tuesday night I just sort of putzed around and talked to the barn people (PEOPLE!!!) but since there was not a single person on Wednesday, I worked her.  Hard.  No better way to see if something fits than to look at sweat patterns!

Right shoulder, after 2 rides.  And a sweaty horse.
So we hopped around some jumps a few times before working on our 2pointober challenge.  I am out of town again this weekend so last night was THE NIGHT to get my time.  I started the clock and went around and around.  When I was finally tapping out, I looked at the clock.  3:40.

After 2 rides, seems to mold to her better
Are you joking?!?!  Not even 4 minutes?  There was NO way I was going to allow myself to post that kind of result.  Emma would, justifiably, laugh my ass off of the blog.  Geez.

Sweat pattern
After a bit of resting, I tried again.  Around and around we went, changing directions, starting at a trot but quickly picked up the canter as Mia wanted to go.  Okay Mia, we can go, but we will go for a while!

Sweat pattern
Finally when I was about to give out, Mia was definitely tired and my legs wanted to die, I pulled out my phone.  And blinked.  Again.  Really??  6:40.  Holy cow!  I didn't stop, I pushed her forward and kept pushing both of us until we hit the 7 minute mark.  And kept going.  I REALLY wanted to make the 7:15 mark but I crumbled at 7:09 (and technically 7:09:087, almost 7:10!!).  Holy cow, that is a record for me, I have never had two point for that long.  I am crediting my saddle for the improvement because it is really easy to hold position in it :-D

Sweat pattern
Mia got a long cool down, though it may have been because I was afraid I couldn't walk.  Legit concerns.  I finally realized I could, untacked and looked at sweat patterns.  Ithink they actually look good.  They are certainly even and the hair is not mussed.  The panel is super flexible around her shoulders and while they aren't perfect right now, I think the left will mold to her shape a little more, it already looks much better after the 2 rides than it did when it came back.  What do you think, does it look better?  I have 2.5 weeks until the fitter (the wife) comes back out for a recheck and need to ride in it as much as possible.  

Monday, October 17, 2016

2pointober update

Time is marching on, hard to believe we are almost halfway through the month.   Wow!  So this year, I have officially signed up for the 2pointober challenge.  Like I said before, I do it every year but don't usually make it public.  This year, I figured why not lol.  My baseline was 5:06 and I had to really push for that.  Like, really push lol.  Last week was super busy and since I didn't have a show to prep for, I didn't actually have time to ride much.  The one time I did two point, I ended up at less than 5 minutes.  Boo.  One shouldn't be going backward in progress.

Someone had set up a course outside this week and we can now use the outside arena lights so outside we went. I then found a nice gap in Mia's training, she rides great outside, she rides great under lights in the indoor, but she has obviously never ridden in an outside arena with lights.  It was so funny riding her because she would be working and then suddenly be distracted by shadows everywhere.  I didn't get after her, just constantly reminded her to pay attention and she did pretty well at the end.  That was Monday.  Thursday I rode outside again, obviously well after dark, and Mia was so much better and much less distracted.  She was actually really awesome!

Our focus was fitness and to really up my two point time.  Mia was still looky, but after 2 laps each direction she was able to stay focused for the most part.  Training win!  For all of her attitude and sass, she really is a level headed mare when she wants to be.  I warmed up with some 2 point before hopping over the fences at a trot.  Mia was super soft and responsive and was coming right back to me after the fence which was awesome.  We then did a 4 minute 2 point set in a canter and while I certainly was feeling it, I knew I had more in us.  We were, of course, riding alone because no one is out to ride with me at night so I was getting bored just going in circles.  After a decent rest period, I figured I was going to do my challenge and do it over fences to help pass the time.

We started out and Mia rode fantastically.  To the 3 stride bending line, it was like she was a little hunter horse (where did this horse come from?!?!?!) and while she is always rushing to the green panel jump, as long as I could get her to SIT BACK, she wouldn't even touch it.  We went over the 2'9" skinny and verticals, the last 2 times we went over the vertical it was literally like she had a big canter stride.  It didn't feel like a jump at all.  Man, she can go high if she wants and I haven't even pushed her.  EEK!

As I was reaching our breaking point, the wind blew one of the barrels that were under a jump away from said jump.  I moved her over and Mia hopped over the barrel like it was NBD and was something she did everyday.  Love!  I finished at 6:10 and I felt I could have possibly pushed for a few more if I absolutely had to.  Progression win, so much better than regression.

Over the weekend I went on a group trail ride and I had a fantastic time.  I wish I had people to ride with at nights, I get along so well with the ladies at the barn and it would be nice to have that during the week instead of a rare weekend.  I guess I will take what I can get.  Tomorrow the saddle fitter comes back out with my saddle, fingers crossed that it fits like they promise!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Good days and bad times

Last week was an interesting one for sure.  I kept my rides super short (20-30 mins) due to time constraints outside of my control but Mia really seemed to excel with them.  Her canter has become less compact and a little more fluid while still maintaining some frame and throughness.  No bolting, giraffing, kicking, leaping or pulling, just decently soft and forward.  Wow what a nice change!  She was a little inconsistent in the contact but her trot was awesome and things came together in prep for our show on Sunday.  I signed up for the show thinking it was a HT and apparently it is a CT.  The difference is a CT has only dressage and stadium, I wouldn't have signed up to drive 2 hours for a dressage and stadium round.  Grr, oh well.  Money already sent!

On Friday, I had the saddle fitter out.  She came recommended by 3 people at the barn and wouldn't you know, she came out before County ever even contacted me back.  Well, they still haven't if you want to keep track, I am writing that lady off.  Not that I am bitter or anything.  I know one rep isn't indicative of a saddle brand but what a frustrating experience.  Anyway, I digressed.  The saddle fitter looked at my Stubben and said "Well, I can't say it doesn't fit her!" so that was good.  She said she loves these old Stubbens, it was made before regulations changed in 2005 when they had to change how leather was processed.  She said my old Stubben will well outlast my new saddle simply because of how leather is treated now and it is in very good condition.  The only thing it needs is a total reflock, but at $350. that is not much more than I am going to ask for the saddle when I sell it so will just keep on with my pads for now.

She loved my County though, she said several times that the Whippy panels make such awesome saddles.  She said the flocking is really lumpy and uneven in the panels, plus the right panel was overstuffed, no wonder it didn't fit well.  She took my saddle to do a total reflock (trivia - with wool from a place I visited several times in MI)  and I should get it back in the next couple of weeks.  She said she was 100% confident it will fit wonderfully, so we will see.  Kinda excited about it!  I haven't seen another CWD or County come up that matched so it isn't like I am swimming in options with my specific requirements.
On Saturday I had another really nice, short ride on Mia.  Just some w/t/c and a quick run through of the test.  She was on point and the only "issue" we had is after the freewalk, she wants to trot before it is time.  Mareface is starting to anticipate!  I went to load up my trailer and found the first issue.  The barn had moved the trailers the previous weekend to a new parking spot, apparently, it was enough for my tack rack to be ripped off of the wall.  All of my stuff was on the floor of the trailer in a heaping mess.  Argh!  At least it happened now instead of on my way to the show if it was going to break?  My 20 minutes till leaving turned into an hour as I had to arrange that mess.  I took half of my stuff and put it in my car while re-arranging the other half.  As I was about to leave, I figured I would jack up the tongue so I didn't have to do it in the am.  And the handle just spun.  Argh!!

I took the top off of the jack and the gears turned, but the jack didn't move.  The scissor jack in the car didn't go high enough so I had to wait 45 mins for SO to come and help me fix it.  He brought a floor jack and we got the trailer jack off and apart.  The outer sleeve was no longer attached to the inner sleeve (that goes up and down), the inner sleeve was no longer on the screw to make it go up and down.  After some finagling, we were able to get it to go up and down, but the inner sleeve now falls out because it isn't attached.  Zip ties ended up holding it in place while we went to the show.  I finally made it home almost 3 hours after I intended to.  Fail.

The show was the next am and went okay enough.  Mia was Ms Dreamy McAwesomepants in warmup guys.  So soft, so forward, so bendy, I had a thought that maybe we would break our personal best of 32!!!  For the show ring though, we had to go on top of a hill which overlooked warmup and had a nice view of everything and the wheels fell off the bus.  Mia could not stop looking around or pay attention.  Gone was my soft mare, in its place was a mare who was stiff, inconsistent on the contact, not stretching forward or down and who refused to bend.  Apparently, I should have warmed up in the grass by the ring before going in?  *sigh*  Horses.

Jumping went better, she came back to me when I asked which is AWESOME.  My position was AWESOME even if I didn't get her to the right distance on about a third of the jumps.  And even with her being quite forward, she listened to what I had to say.  AWESOME.  We had no penalties and ended up 4th.  Going home, we have to take a very narrow, very winding road.  With a truck coming the opposite direction, I miscalculated and curbed my trailer tire.  Which resulted in a flat.  Of course it did, what a way to end a weekend.  On the plus side, I had it fixed within the time it took for SO to get a cup of coffee, about 5 minutes.  Love that trailer aid, a must have in a trailer.

Now it is a month of down time until the possibility of our next show.  Following the trend of the summer, every weekend is currently booked up until the 2nd weekend of November.  Time to get some saddle time in, work on two point for 2pointober and fix my dang trailer.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Some quick updates

Random updates, not a very good flowy post, but then again I am not the world's best blogger.  So.... you should have expected something like this?  Sorry y'all.

After realizing my saddle doesn't fit, I started calling independent saddle fitters and I have someone that is highly recommended coming out on Friday.  Talk about fast, I STILL can't get County Saddlery to give me an appointment and I have been trying since August.  I sent this lady a ton of pictures and she says she is cautiously optimistic she can get it to work.  The right side panel is stuffed more than the left, and since Mia's right shoulder is overdeveloped, it makes the fit even worse.  She said both panels are overstuffed as well, so we will see.  She said that if we can't get it to fit, I have a really cool saddle and she has someone that may be interested in it already.  So...fingers crossed?

I did finally find a single black County Innovation saddle, within my budget, as a MW tree but it is a 17" and not a 17.5".  I have talked to 3 others that have County saddles and they have all said there is a big difference between a 17 and 17.5 and if I am a true 17.5, I won't like a 17.  Sigh.  I have kept my eyes open for a CWD but chocolate brown/black ones with a SE02 and 3C flap are just as difficult to find.  Not to mention the newer ones don't seem to have a "tree size" as it is all custom fit to your horse. So I couldn't even hope that it would fit, I would immediately need to have it re-paneled for an additional $600. So I don't know.  The independent saddle fitter hates foam saddles and said she was glad I didn't go that route.  She said riders LOVE the saddle but horses tend to hate them.  CWDs really are a love/hate saddle and I know some of you love them.  Not crossing them out if I go shopping again.

Over the weekend we raced our racecar, it went pretty well considering.  I, again, drove the fastest time of the day for our team.  Though my time was the 42nd fastest of the teams.  Not exactly podium material haha!  Tis why it is amature racing and not professional racing after all.  I did get my first wall hit out of the way though, so that was nice I guess.  I went into a turn too fast, lost control and once I hit the wet grass, just slid and slid and slid.  Luckily it was all cosmetic, no real big damage and no injury.  Of course, we also had a broken distributor cap, broken gas tank strap and an important bolt missing, it was one of the bolts that held the motor in place.  Opps!  Thankfully it is over now and I can focus on horse stuff again.

Yesterday as I was going downstairs, I finally fell down the stairs.  Interesting tidbit, I don't tend to fall down stairs.  Like, ever?  I can remember only 2 times I have ever fallen down stairs.  Falling UP stairs?  I do that ALL OF THE TIME.  Seriously, at least every other month I fall up the stairs.  I have always fallen up stairs.  Talented lass that I am.  Well, yesterday I finally fell down stairs.  8 of them.  I was simply walking down stairs and suddenly I was going down MUCH faster.  I honestly don't know how I fell, I don't remember it at all.  Per my bruises, I suspect my left foot slipped and I landed on my right elbow/rib/thigh.  I did immediately roll onto my belly, I guess I thought that way I had more control or would have less damage?  Well, as a result of my trip down the stairs, I have hurt my right shoulder.  Uncomfortable to do much with it so I am taking it easy, putting Sore No More Liniment on it, taking some drugs and hoping I am fine by Sunday.  Cause I have a show and need my dang shoulder!

Finally, I hopped on my mare and laid down my baseline for 2pointober.  Are you joining?  Emma and Megan are hosting it this year, with coolio prizes, and I figured I would lay my times out this year.  I have done 2pointober for the past 4 years but never joined in the contest.  I have zero expectation to win, this is more to hold myself accountable and I was able to squeak out a 5:06 as my baseline.  Barely.  I had to REALLY push to get over the 5 min mark.  UGH!  For a horse trial, I really need to be at least 6 minutes so I am not that far off base, but still.  It actually took me several minutes to recover after that.  HA!  I am HOPEFUL that with my newly adjusted saddle, two point will be easy to work on because that saddle is just so damn dreamy to ride in.  It really makes two point so easy to hold and maintain.

Mia was actually a little sore last night though, so after laying down my two point baseline and switching out to the dressage saddle, I didn't work her hard.  I had someone else look at her and they agreed she is a little sore, but we can't tell if it is from her back or foot sore.  I make sure her transitions were prompt and her canter wasn't like a giraffe and called it a night.  Going out again tonight, more liniment and maybe some bute to get her over the hump.  Gotta get ready for our show on Sunday!