Monday, April 22, 2019

XC schooling!

By wonders of all things, the venue actually opened the cross country course for schooling after the show. It was perfect timing, because we hadn't gone xc schooling since last year and it is far, so I don't get down here often to do it. It was super wet, and getting wetter as it was raining, but I am so glad we did it.
Our new XC bit, just a little more whoa
Confidence builder
I started out with some really small stuffs, I really wanted to make sure I rebuilt some of my lost confidence but I was worried for nothing. Mia was totally ready to go and apparently solid objects don't bother me. Or my brain had finally reset itself after surviving the stadium round? Either way, things were good.

Trakehner? No problem.
The highlights? Mia was weirdly spooky at the woods until she got a couple of spanks from the crop. Then she got down to business and didn't flinch at a single thing. Up a bank out of water? Easy. Down banks? Good. Down banks into water? Fabulous. Little logs? Big logs? Easy peasy.
Blind landing!

Fun in the water
I am really glad we swapped our bit over to the 4-in-1 because Mia was often questioning my decisions for half halts. And collection. And slowing down. I understand, this IS in fact the first time we are out running for the entire season, but training is training and she can't let herself get so excited that she forgets she HAS training. She still has a job and she still has to apply that knowledge!

All the pretty things! Collection up the hill
Big logs are no big deal
The only thing she had issues with were the "roller coaster" jumps, but we went over them until she got it. They are a set up for a sunken road. There is a jump on top of a hill, you go down the hill, back up a small hill and over another jump. The one set is pretty easy, but the other two are significantly more difficult as they both have a blind landing. Mia didn't care about the blind landing, however she needed a reminder that the downhill ride does not mean faster.
Learning to not run downhill!

Tires are easy
The happiest moment? This picture. The last xc schooling we had in MI had this as a question and Mia was not okay with it. I knew it was just a matter of time, and apparently she has surpassed the confidence needed to question this type of jump. A log on top of a drop. I didn't even show it to her, we trotted up to it and she popped down the jump as if it was NBD. Training and confidence FTW!

Log on a drop? Easy!
We finished up over this huge log, it is UP a hill, and I think it would qualify as a Prelim question because of the hill, but Mia locked onto it after the tire jump and had no cares so we went for it. After an awkward jump, bc newbs, she got it on the 2nd try and we called it a day. We were soaked, she was getting tired, and I had my confidence back. It made me feel much better about the day and our abilities.

So much photo filter required to be able to see through the dark, misty rain
Big ol log on a hill, attempt 1. 2nd attempt wasn't captured
I am hopeful I can go schooling again before the next show, I would LIKE to go to a Training HT but most likely I will do a Novice HT first to confirm our training. I would hate to push either of us too fast, especially since we have done almost no Training level cross country jumps to practice. We will see though, the year is young and I have lots of plans!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Psyching yourself out- a Training CT recap

Before I get into the Training CT recap, I wanted to talk about confidence. And what it is like when you lose it. I am a pretty hardcore person. If I make a decision to do something, I put on my big girl panties and Get. It. Done. I don't have anxiety issues and I am not often nervous. For this show? I was a nervous wreck. Legit nervous. Thursday/Friday/Saturday I had trouble sleeping, I made myself sick on Saturday. I was actually literally shaking on Sunday. I couldn't eat breakfast. I didn't ride effectively in my dressage. And then I figured it out. It clicked. I realized why I was acting this way, when it is so abnormal for me. I had broken my confidence.

Fuzzy video screencaps FTW!
To prep for this show, I went from about 3', which we have been working on for the past few weeks, to 3'3" for one day and then immediately to 3'6". That ride on Wednesday went well, except for the end where she wasn't listening and was running to the jumps. But I was nervous and forced myself over it. And while it ended well, it shook my confidence because she wasn't listening. I figured I would power through like I always do, but apparently I didn't. I was suddenly put off of the large fences, she had knocked down those fences at the end bc she was running, and I think my brain could only see us bringing everything down in a total failure.

At least we looked cute!
So yeah. Sunday was not the show I had hoped. I really didn't ride effectively in dressage. I missed the canter lengthenings we have been working so hard on. I couldn't find my whip so I rode without it, but didn't then keep my inside leg back to keep Mia's haunches behind her. So almost every canter element on the test sheet has a comment about her haunches being in. She had no desire to stretch in our stretchy trot circle, an aspect I expected big points for, and she also didn't want to push during her free walk and instead meandered. Another big points loser. *sigh* The good part? We were sitting in 3rd out of 4 with a 36.4%. Not too shabby considering the state of the rider!

Position love!
 At least it was at this point I realized why I was having the anxiety. And you know what? After I figured it out, I felt so much better. I actually was able to eat, I was able to relax a little, and things were better. Mia warmed up well for stadium, though a bit fast. I actually regretted not getting the bit I tried last year for cross country, which did not help the anxiety that was trying to build. And, in reality? The stadium round went really well. Mia listened, she didn't knock anything over, she mostly collected when I asked, she even went over the triple combination with as much caution as I asked. Wonderful you say! What also happened during stadium? My anxiety made me lose my focus and I ended up off course., went WELL past our fence and had to double back, which gave me 4 jump penalties and 2.5 time penalties. GAH!!!!!!

Last jump of the triple, she was amazing
So we ended up 4th. We would have been a half point from 2nd if I hadn't had my course error, but oh well. Mia was AMAZING and had no idea why the hell I was such a wreck so I am happy. The plan is for ME to go back to 2'11" and then go up to 3'3" and  THEN stay there for several sessions before trying 3'6" again. I need to set myself up for success, mentally, because Mia is totally fine about all of it. She gets today off, and then I am giving myself some serious homework so we can try this again. But that's not all that happened on Sunday....

Monday, April 15, 2019

We are doing this - Oh and we are not hunters

**Edit - I had this set to go up last Thursday, but apparently I scheduled it for THIS Thursday. Oops. So...enjoy!**

Our debut in hunter land was good! In that Mia was foot perfect, had zero spook, zero hesitation, was super quiet and happy, and had good rounds. Unfortunately the judge must have been able to tell that we were blatantly not hunters as we placed last in both over fences classes, and 2nd to last in the flat class. But hey, what can I say. I didn't even really clean her, I forgot to clean the trailer rub mark on her butt off before we went in, I didn't pay attention to how the courtesy circle is supposed to be done, I wasn't trying to win. We were literally going to knock rust off of our jumping. And it was a success!
This is not a hunter canter...
Our first round was good, though I biffed the distance on one of the jumps. It was a long spot, Mia waited instead and ended up putting in a half stride. Oh well. She also didn't swap her lead, something she has been doing more and more of since we started working on counter canter. Hmmm....this needs to be addressed. Our second round was actually pretty perfect, save for one lead swap that didn't happen. I was very happy with our second round, and thought if I was going to place, that would be the round! Spoiler alert, I still got last place HAHA!

All the trot
Our flat class I was really happy with too, though it was super obvious that we aren't hunters. In the canter, Mia had this nice, collected canter and everyone else was long and low. Oops... That's okay, it was all for experience and I was actually really happy with how the day went. It was a close show, we were back at the barn by 11a, and the day was good.

This is also not a hunter canter
Then I actually did it, I entered us into the Training level CT for this upcoming Sunday. I have ridden the Novice dressage test and it is easy. I have ridden the Training level test and it is doable. I have ridden some of the Prelim level and it is too hard, Training is the right place to be dressage wise. It's just....intimidating and I keep psyching myself out. This will be the first time to ever show at Training. App and I jumped 3'3" and 3'6" but never at a show. Mia has jumped up to 3'9" (once, a couple of years ago), but this is the first time jumping this big at a show. I have been jumping up to 3' the past few weeks, but this past week I stepped it up. Last week I jumped 3'3" and last night I bumped it up to 3'6". And Mia couldn't have cared. The rider was trying hard to not have a damn anxiety attack. Apparently my lady balls are not as big as they need to be, and while 2'9" doesn't look big, 3'3" looks respectable, it turns out that 3'6" makes me weak-kneed. **Edit-more to come on this**

What did Mia do about it? Nothing. I don't deserve this mare. She couldn't have cared that I was all nervous but riding with determination. She jumped over everything like it was fun, even the bounce combo that was set up. I had a short panel fence at 2'6" and a vertical at 2'9" as a warmup, then an airy vertical with a ground line at 3'3" (moved to 3'6" after a couple laps), a 3'6" gate fence, and another 3'3" vertical with a barrel under it. She never even thought about touching anything until the very end, when she felt that running up to the jumps was a better idea than collecting and compacting to the jumps. Spoiler Alert. It is not. I may need something other than a copper eggbutt if she continues doing this, but I am going to try reminding her more before bitting her up. Fingers crossed?
Kinda a hunter-ish trot?
We have our Training CT to get ready for, cross your fingers we survive!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Operation Fitness - Part 2

Were you curious if I was actually putting up part 2 or if I was simply teasing you? Fear not, I DID have a huge post and I DID break it in half.

Since I need fitness, enter two-point, my old, evil friend. Any guess on who didn't have the stamina to stay in two point for more than a single 3 min trip? *raises hand* Yeah, that would be me. I can't expect Mia to jump 3 foot fences if I can't stay in position, so fitness has become a priority over the past 2 weeks. There has been some good progress too! After the first fitness ride (3x 3 min two point sets), I had legit wobbly knees and was sore for 2 days afterwards. The 2nd time, I pulled a quad muscle that took 2 days and massage to work loose. The third time I had general soreness. Since then? I've been good. Fitness FTW!

Last week it was actually "nice" enough to ride outside (ie mid 30's and super windy), so I set up 3 of the blown over jumps and we did fitness with some 2' - 2'6" jumps. Last night, I rushed to the barn and was able to RIDE OUTSIDE IN THE TWILIGHT! I had a good 30 mins of riding before it was dark and we jumped 2'3-3' jumps. Mia knocked the 3' jump down twice, both times I didn't get the striding right and I wasn't riding aggressively enough. But if I sit, put leg ON, she was absolutely flying over the fences. It was also getting dark and the jump was dark green, so I am not eliminating that as a possible issue either. For a horse that hasn't really jumped anything of height since fall, though, I am tickled at how well she is doing.

It's cold, but we can ride outside at night now. It is darker than the pic makes it appear.
My plan for the April 6 show was thwarted, my plan was go into the first 3 classes since the show starts at 8a and hopefully (since it is a hunter show and they don't list times like eventing) they would be done in time for me to get back to the barn around 10a because the farrier was coming at 10a. Not too bad. But then the barn also scheduled spring shots for April 6 at 9a. So I now have shots and farrier on the same morning as a show? I am talented, but not that talented in managing my time so I am going to pass on that one. BUT I now have a Plan B AND a Plan C.

Free roaming App likes to come say hi
I am doing (will have done by the time this post is up) a "pre show" at that same venue. Mia has never done hunters, and I am not good with hunters, however it gives us an opportunity to show in a very relaxed atmosphere over fences so I am planning on going! And then on Apr 14 there is a show at the horse park (2 hr drive) we go to and I am tentatively planning to enter the Training CT. I KNOW we can go training level in dressage and I think we can go training level in stadium, so it will be a really nice test. I want to go xc schooling at LEAST 2 times before I try going training level in a horse trial. I don't want to set Mia up to fail and there is no real rush. We didn't get out to school a single time last year and I need to fix that for this year. Fingers crossed I can go xc schooling after the show in Apr 14, I want to see how she is!