Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The show that wasn't

I was super excited to go cross country schooling to put Mia over some larger fences and to make the final decision on whether I could put her in her first ever Training level horse trial, or if I should bump down to Novice for the first HT of the season. Decisions, decisions. On one hand, I KNOW we could do it. Mia's dressage is really good (when her rider does the crap that needs done) right now. Our jumping is very good too, I have successfully fixed my brain (I think anyway) and I don't have anxiety when looking at a 3'3" jump. Our fitness is just about where it needs to be, and we were ready to go. The concern? Why did I want this litmus test? Because we haven't done a horse trial in a long while. Last year's show season was basically non-existent due to the weather and schedule, I never went XC schooling at all last year. Would it really be FAIR to put Mia out so...unprepared?

On Saturday we started with the farrier. App was not helpful, as discussed in the last post. Thanks to him, I was about 25 mins later getting out than I wanted but it worked out well enough. I was SO lucky to have the daughter of one of the boarders be willing to come and be a ground person. SO was out of town and I could find no one else who wanted to haul down. The fact she was willing to just come and walk around? I was so extremely grateful.

We made it in about 2 hours and the ground was oh so wet. Not as wet as when I was there a few weeks ago for the CT show, but pretty damn close. In addition to being extremely wet, there were no large jumps set up at all. The cross country fences were still stacked in storage and the only jumps set out were some starter/BN jumps. I was annoyed because I had emailed the facility before I came to ensure they were open, advising I wanted to school Training fences to prep for the show. When they responded, they didn't say a word about there not being any Training fences up for me to practice over. Grrr.

We jumped everything set out. We also found the 3 biggest, permanent fences in the entire park and jumped them too. She is such a good mare. The biggest, which I suspect may be a Prelim fence, she was hesitant going up to it, but after jumping, she was every eager and forward. She just needed that confidence builder, apparently, and I threw it at her towards the beginning of our ride lol. She was such a good mare, she only biffed a fence once because she wasn't listening. She tapped the log and it rolled off of its stand. It was also water logged and had NO chance of going back up, even with the 2 of us trying to lift it. Oops...

I came away from the schooling confident we could probably do Training level, but now I had a bigger concern. The footing was horrible, really horrible. I wasn't able to gallop a single time because the entire grounds were swampy/in standing water. I really don't want to chance going at speed towards Training level fences if I don't have to. And then it rained for 2 days straight, plus off an on again during the week up to the show. The last time I rode in super crappy weather at a show, spring 2014, while it rained the ENTIRE DAY, the footing was actually fairly solid. And we won first place! There was no solid footing here, everything was squishy and waterlogged.

In the end, I couldn't do it. I really, REALLY wanted last weekend to be our first ever Training Horse Trial. There was only one other horse entered in Training and while they went double clear, they had a 38 in dressage. I think I could have beaten the score. I could have won our first ever Training Hose Trail. But the more I debated it, I realized if I am struggling this much, it is obvious I KNOW the footing is dangerous and it isn't worth it. So I didn't enter.

I need to try to find another show, I am traveling in June which eliminates the next Horse Trial. There is a jumper show in mid-June I may try because it is close. I am super disappointed that I didn't go, but I know it was the right choice. And that's all that really matters, right?

Friday, May 17, 2019

App update - it's his birthday!

So fresh, so CLEAN! Fresh out of the bath
The good news is App is chugging right along. He has come out of winter a bit harried and thin, he had definitely lost weight since January, but the barn manager is letting him free roam on the spring grass and he is slowly picking it back up. He is now probably only apx 50-100lbs underweight.

When he wants to nap, he just naps. At lest it isn't IN the driveway?
He has decided he likes neither Cool Calories or rice bran anymore, of the pelleted or powder variety. I am currently taking advantage of Smartpak's Sample program to see if we can find a weight supplement he will eat. He starts SmartGain today, then moves over to Smart and Simple, then FatCat. If these three are a bust, we will keep moving down the list!

App says "Do you have treat? I like treats, not supplements"
He is definitely FEELING good, even though he is thinner. I went to catch him just this week to put fly spray on him. He ran past me (literally trotted), waited until I approached again, and trotted the direction we just came. When I went to get him AGAIN, he literally cantered himself back to the barn. So....he may be broken, but he will still move and be a little snot when he wants to be! His mind certainly isn't broken haha!

Nom nom nom, grass outside of fences tastes much better
Unfortunately his shoulder IS causing issues though. We are currently at the point where we are still having an extremely hard time trimming his feet. The vet was out for spring shots when the farrier was out last time, so she got to see the difficulties. She had us try giving him some Ace, hoping that would sedate him just enough to let us work on him.

We tried trimming him while he was laying down
It helped....some? Barely? We were definitely able to trim him the best we have been able to since January, but it was still super difficult. I ended up being an App-stand (kick stand), and was holding his butt up to keep him from trying to sit back while his front feet were worked on. The vet's recommendation for the next time was to take him off of Equioxx, put him on 2g of bute, 2x a day, and give him banamine for the trimming. We tried that on Saturday, with minimal success. We even tried trimming outside in the grass, and some while he was laying down, but he was NOT cooperative. At. All. And my thumb will probably have a scar to remind me of that fact. *sigh*

It was only slightly successful. He is also trying to nap while we did this.
But the bigger deal is that today is his birthday! He turns a big 26 today, and is having a good day on grass. He got his first bath of the season on Wednesday, which he did not seem to appreciate, and has now shed most of his winter coat. He is definitely having a red year, I was wondering if he would be more white or red since his winter coat seemed to be white.

He is at least LOOKING better
Happy 26th birthday big guy!
So raise a glass and have a drink for App. I am glad he is gaining weight on spring grass and still LOOKS good, even if he isn't always comfortable. His spirits are high, as is his sassiness, so life seems good for him for now. Happy birthday App!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Progress is progress

With new plans in place, things have been going quite well. In jumping, I first bumped Mia's jumping down to 2'6" and she literally trotted over everything before I realized this was stupid and considered that a warmup. I then put things back up to 2'11" and even those looked small. Fences are now back up to 3'3" and Mia is happy and I am happy. Next week I may put a fence or two back up to 3'6", but I'm not pushing it. No need to break my brain again, no need to rush.

We actually jumped last night and Mia really was a rock star. I really don't deserve this horse. She didn't knock a single fence down, and only touched 2 rails over our entire ride. We started with fences at 2'11" to 3'3", ending with everything at 3'3".  Even when we had a couple of disagreements, she soared over jumps, found a way to get to the other side, and jumped beautifully. Our lead change is still broken and she is now landing over 90% of the jumps on the left lead, even when we are going right. She is, however, starting to give me the lead change 50% of the time again, so there is that. I'm not sure why she is landing on the wrong lead, I've tried changing my weight and paying close attention to ME but it hasn't fixed anything yet.

What else is going on? A lot actually. I had a lesson! It was really good in that my only homework is to stop riding like an newb. Huh. Okay, point taken. When I ride my dressage pattern, the moment things go awry or I get distracted, I ride my pattern. Instead of riding the horse. Meaning instead of squeezing every single point out of every stride, I get hyper focused on making sure I don't mess up the pattern. Which, yes, helps from getting eliminated but I am a much better rider than that. My homework is to instead hyper focus on riding every stride. Asking Mia to supple at least every other step. Wiggling the bit. Bumping her with my leg. I should be asking for a shoulder in, change of speed, half halting, changing direction, anything and everything so that Mia is asking me "Okay, what now" instead of going into "cruise mode". 

This makes 100% sense, but I think my brain thought that cruise mode was the goal. It's not, and I know this, but maybe the lazy part of me wanted it to happen? So once we "got" it, I would let Mia "cruise" instead of constantly micromanaging. But it's okay, we have new homework and we are working on it. We were also told our lengthened canter was non-existent. We have to feel like we are galloping. Hmm. I'll try it at the next show, and I guess I believe her, but it feels way faster and flatter than I thought it should. I've been watching some dressage to try to figure this all out, but I just have to ride it and trust the instructor!

Mia also had a massage and it was the first time she had no knots. She typically has knots in her neck, back and/or withers, but she just had some slight tense spots. Progress indeed! Now if *I* could have a regularly scheduled massage.... Instead I am dealing with shoulder pain. The nagging issue I have had for 2+ years is finally growing up, it now wakes me up at night. So I had the x-rays and am waiting to see the specialist. Who has an 8 week wait to get it *eyeroll*. Fingers crossed it will be quick, easy, and just some drugs to get right as rain, I just have to wait until mid-June to find out.

Finally, my plan is to go XC schooling on Saturday after the farrier visit. If all goes well, I am going to *gasp* enter our first Training level HT on the 19th. I am actually excited about it, I really want to redeem our crap ride from last time. We just need to get over Training level XC jumps, because we haven't been over many XC jumps period and it wouldn't be fair to introduce her to those jumps during a show. So cross your fingers, I will know on Sunday if I am checking the N or T box on that entry!