Tuesday, August 14, 2018

You are now a jump jump horse

No, not really. No one get excited. I bought Dopie with dressage specifically in mind and he's clearly well suited for it. However, I do really enjoy jumping and knew that was something I was going to carry on with regardless of what discipline I was showing in.

Opie's introduction to jumping thus far has been along the lines of: Here are some jumps. You are now a jump jump horse.

And Opie has been like: Okay!

#childgenius after all

I kept saying I was going to wait until winter to lay out a systematic training program to get him going around like a real horse over real courses. Except I'd get the itch to jump some things and never really had the time/ambition/desire to shear off a week or two of dressage work in the middle of show season to introduce ground poles and have them lead to grids and on and on.

This has worked out well enough. Dopes loves the jumping game, and is always keen and willing to hurl himself over whatever he's pointed at. I don't jump him high enough or technical enough that this lackadaisical approach has gotten us into trouble yet, and I certainly won't be moving him up any higher or more technical until he has a much firmer grasp of feet and self preservation.

not a firm grasp of feet.

I kept all of that firmly in mind when I took him out back to new-to-him cross country jumps on Sunday to push his current limits a little bit. He really stepped up to the plate for how little experience he has, while still reminding me that he is very, very green to anything but trotting walking halting in circles.

One of the back pastures that usually has horses in it was open as it was resting after getting sprayed so we started off in there with short grass and flat ground. Right away Opie gave one of the log jumps the hairy eye and tried spooking at it. I made him circle around it multiple times before he sidled up to it, snooted it, and deemed it safe.

the offending log that he popped over without issue.
how cute are his happy horse ears?!

He warmed up really well and we popped over a vertical with one side dropped a couple times just so he knew what we were doing back there.

easy peasy

Then I figured I'd move on to the skinny log that we've jumped a few times in the past when the field has been open and we've wandered through on a cool out walk. He's never even thought about doing anything but hopping right over it, so I figured it would be a good next step since he hadn't jumped anything else back there.


He tried the same bullshit "I'm running out but also jumping but basically that just means I'm jumping the air." that he tried in the front field before. I brought him back to a slowww trot and really focused on channeling him straight between my legs and we got it although with much more drama than it warranted. From there we moved on to two hay bales stacked next to each other and he thought about trying the same thing, but I was quicker and more aggressive with my leg and caught him in time.

That's where my "He's a green horse." mantra stepped in and I calmly shrugged off the skinnies and put them aside for another day. No reason to get upset over them when straightness is still a struggle for us on the flat. On to easier things!

I could tell he felt a little bug-eyed after those jumps, but having inviting jumps like the straw bales and the big log that funneled him over the jump with the "standards" on either side gave him his confidence back and he quickly returned to locking on and landing raring to go.

We moved back to the next field and hopped over the two jumps back there. The grass was pretty long and Opie wasn't the most...most with the footing so once we made it over those out of the trot we quickly moved to a different field.

all sorts of special over this teeny tiny jump

The third field had Hubby's fancy skinny, a big log stack, and an open hog's back type jump which was the only one I was aiming for. It took us three attempts to get it right.

The first time he just ran right at and through it.

don't be fooled, the whole jump is coming down after us.

I made him do a little canter and really sit the fuck down and get his front end up. This being where that grid work and training to be a real jump jump horse would have come in handy. Sorry, Dopes. Quick lesson in not dying and off we go again.

The second time was better although he brought the top rail down with a front leg this time instead of his trailing hind end. The third and final time I made him slow it down even more and out loud chanted, "Lift! Lift! Lift!"

yay, actually jumping!

And by that time, too, I was able to stop him in a reasonable distance after the jump because he still very much lands and is like, "Dobby Dopie is a Free Elf Horse!"

We finished back in the front field doing a little course of the three easy jumps: straw to vertical to big log. Hubby only got the finish:

He was feeling himself at the end, which is good although I wish he'd feel himself a little less exuberantly two strides out. And check out that canter! That's just his casual, every day, my mom isn't choking me out to ensure I steer in a dressage court canter. Smol horse, Big canter.

rly needs some grid life tho

It felt good to be back in a jump saddle (even if it was only borrowed from a generous barn mate) and get a productive school in. He was so much more relaxed out back than he has been in the front where he gets turned out and is constantly searching for his BFFs. Now I've got grabby hands to get my own jump saddle again as show season wraps up and hunter pace season kicks off.

But first we gotta #dopiedoesdressage at a big show in a big atmosphere this weekend. Where there's a chance to win a fucking COOLER, bitches. So back to circles this week it is.

But maybe circles in the out of doors to make it a little more fun.

Monday, August 13, 2018

More grinding

Last week was a light week for both blog fodder and actual riding as once again that four letter word... camp. Pardon me as I dig my nails into my eyeballs.

Fortunately I have this week free to get ready for my last scheduled dressage show on Sunday before another (and the last!) week of camp. And that camp is advanced camp which is full of the teenagers that are often lurking about the barn so I can work around them without issue. Hopefully.

might involve riding in the far reaches of outside

I did finally get sick of running out of there as fast as possible once I was done with the barn and made myself get on the horse a few times. I didn't really want to give him another full week off as I originally planned on pushing for a First debut in short order, but now I'm undecided about that. I have about ten different game plans for the next few weeks to wrap up the season and none of them are similar.

But we'll cross that blogging bridge when we come to it!

He got Monday and Tuesday off. On Wednesday we put in a solid bareback trail ride all around the adjoining properties to chisel away at my 25 hour TIP goal. Thursday and Friday I finally put the saddle back on.

i forgot how much easier it is to post in a jump saddle.

Unfortunately for our dear Dopie Horse--and myself--I'm still on my never-ending Improve the Canter mission. On Thursday that meant a lot of trot work. I stuck us on a roughly 20m circle in the middle of the ring framed by a few jumps. We made the circle square. We made the circle round. Sometimes is was 20m, sometimes it was 15 or 10m. Sometimes it was a big trot, sometimes a little trot. But for fuck's sake one thing always remained the same: the shoulders had to stay upright and straight.

Once I finally moved on to the canter, I had a most excellent right lead canter underneath me. The left lead was full of evasions--fake spooking, bolting, breaking, falling--until he'd tried them all and not one got him what he wanted. And then we magically could canter perfectly acceptable that direction as well.

to be fair, this little horse has a giant fucking canter. it's hard to balance letting him
move out while fighting the urge to choke him back so he doesn't careen around our
narrow indoor. it will come as the balance and strength improves.

On Friday I started off playing around a bit more with the trot lengthenings. They're not giant like Bobby's were, but I'm also trying to get them correct from the start so it's slow going. This whole correct basics thing is such a drag, you guys. Not as much of a drag of having to go back an fix everything though!

Then we moved on to the canter lengthenings which is where it turns out test movements just might be set up to help you. Color me surprised.

I started off just relaxing my aids as we came down the long side and letting Opie naturally move out. As a measure of how far he's come, he did just that instead of dying as he would have done over the winter...and this spring....and earlier this summer. Only then we started nearing the end of the long side and I couldn't bring him back. He'd either not come back at all or break to the trot. (Or Angry Cobra flail into the ground on the left lead.)

So I added in the 15m circle at the end of the lengthening in 1-1 and suddenly his little brain and his little feets had something to focus on. Lengthening unlocked, coming back from the lengthening also unlocked.


He got Saturday off since those two days of work were hard, both mentally and physically. Then he got thrown into the deep end on Sunday which is where all these pictures came from, but that's tomorrow's post.

lots of pats for a hard working midget

Monday, August 6, 2018

Tanglewood Dressage Schooling Show

Full disclosure: If you're not in the mood to read a post erring heavily on the side of bragging about #childgenius turn back now. I was starting to annoy myself by the end of the day, throwing blue ribbons around like confetti and twirling Opie above my head like a baton.

See? It's already started.

(Even though it was more Opie's head twirling as his latest soulmate got on the trailer to go home.)

this old man quarter horse a kid was riding western dressage at her first show
was pretty much the sweetest creature alive and opie instantly adopted him. 

After how good he was for Thursday's ride, I gave him Friday off and then crawled aboard Saturday afternoon. It was ten trillion degrees with the humidity, but Opie struck off into a forward w/t/c anyway so I called it quits after maybe five minutes. Yay, you're a good enough dressage horse, let's go stand under the hose together!

With an 11am first ride time I was able to sleep in until seven and take our sweet time getting on the road. Opie settled right in at the trailer while Hubby and I set our canopy up because there was no shade in the parking lot and it was a lovely 90*+ day with no cloud cover. As long as there are no bugs, Opie seems to be able to stand sub-Saharan heat without a thought, lucky bastard.

I got on with twenty minutes before my first test which was still too long, but Soulmate also didn't like being left alone so he got led up to hang out while his trailer mate and Opie showed; as a collective trailer group we wanted everyone to be chill. Yay, for good trailer neighbors!

killing fifteen minutes of warm up time by strolling around and standing

We walked around the large grassy area around the warm up ring for a good long while, hung out and nibbled some grass, got fawned over by the ring steward, and then slowly trudged over to do some trot and canter right before our test. We could have spent that fifteen minutes marching or something, but Opie is a quitter and I don't want to give him any excuse to be any lazier than he already is. Plus he just doesn't need to be drilled over the basics that Training calls for at shows. You pick up the reins and he does the thing. The end.

it was a day for the record books in that i got there and he hadn't slept in his pee

Training 1

We trotted into the ring for our lap around as the judge finished up writing comments for the rider before and as I passed one of the groups of people watching at the fence I heard one of the girls say, "This girl is going to win."

I was all, "Yep."

And then I reached down to adjust my stirrup leather and my horse lost steering and almost ran face-first into the fence so I amended that to, "Probably."

What I didn't know was that we were riding under OUR FAVORITE JUDGE. I mean, I could have gone in there and walked around for five minutes and she would have been like, "Brava! 10s all around!" This fucking lady, guys.

We actually got some varied scores this time to be fair. Opie was a good kid--steady and relaxed albeit a little weak in the steering department. He wasn't feeling the first halt in either test and started off with a 6.5. The left lead canter depart was sloppy and also got a 6.5 for "slow to develop, needs better connection." He started bulging out coming into the corner and he's gotten me on that trick twice now which results in picking up the wrong lead. I had to beat him back over which took the extra time, but we got the correct lead.

stupid left lead canter. the bane of our existence.

I could tell he was killing it at the medium walk and that scored a 9.5 with the free walk an 8. 7.5s and 7s for the rest of the test with a 9 for the final halt. 8.5 for gaits and 7s and 7.5s for the rest of the collectives. "Lovely horse--work towards more uphill balance. Good luck with him." That earned us a first with a score of 74.3%

he's really starting to fill out and bulk up

We had three hours before our next test which was really boring. With about an hour left to go I took Opie over to watch some of the Training 2 and noticed it seemed like they were running way ahead--like, I was two riders out ahead. Obviously I didn't have to go until my ride time, but I am all about helping facilitate shows finishing early so I hustled back to the trailer, let my neighbor who was also doing T3 know they were running early, and got back on.

The ring steward was a really nice lady. She'd come over during the lunch break while I was grazing Opie to tell me she thought he was so gorgeous, and she loved Thoroughbreds, and she couldn't believe how amazing he was at only 5, and did she mention he was gorgeous? She was, however, the most absentee ring steward ever when I needed her.

I knew the first rider in T3 was on a white pony and then it was my turn. The last horse in T2 finished and the ring stood empty with no ring steward to be found. I was about to send someone over to the judge to ask if I could just go in early since no one else was there when she finally popped up out of the indoor. I told her I could go in if no one else was ready since they were running early, but she said the other ride would be along shortly.

...but I could be done by the time she got out here?

Whatevs. The other girl eventually made it out and I did two seconds of trot and canter work to make sure Opie was alive. He was, but he was in a fucking mood now. The little porker had hoovered his entire hay net just before I got him tacked up even with grazing breaks so he was mad he was out of hay. Plus, although he hadn't gotten overtly hot or uncomfortable, he had been standing out in that blazing sun since ten in the morning and it was now 1:30. He was a hangry hangry hippo and wanted no part of doing the thing again.

Training 3

I tried to keep his baby brain as happy as I could by letting him hang out at the rail before our test, and then I let him walk around the outside of the ring as we waited to be rung in. The judge rang the bell right as I was turning the corner at A so I had to do the world's most awkward finagling to give us so room to pick the trot up to enter.

Opie went down centerline and promptly gave me a big ole Fuck You for the first halt. (5.5) Right away I knew this was going to be an awesome test.

He was so not interested in being a riding horse anymore. Hard pass to dressage, thanks. I know you guys are going to watch the video and whine that it doesn't look that bad, but good lord it was. Every single step was either me subtly spurring him to not quit and die or half halting to not break into a canter and then spurring him to not quit and die. He didn't want to steer. He didn't want input. He didn't want to pay attention. He just didn't wanna.

We got another 5.5 (for the left lead canter depart) and a couple of 6s and 6.5s for the rest of the canter work. Even our walk only got 7.5s. The stretchy circle was so-so. He can take it to the ground on an honest contact at home, but he kind of just flopped his head down and I flopped the reins at him and we flopped around for the circle. We finished on an 8.5. 7s for the collectives with the comment "A bit tight at times--blocks flow from hind end. Very nice horse!" Yep, I can definitely support the tight comment. Still somehow a 69% for another first.

We got champion of the Training division and our T1 score was high point for the show. Neither of which was ever in doubt because I went into the show expecting to win both classes, and when I saw they were offering a high point award when I checked in I expected to win that as well. Because I am SO ANNOYING and know that #childgenius is the ruler of schooling shows and Hubby would like to mention I am SO ANNOYING STFU ABOUT HOW AMAZING DOPIE IS.

strong side eye because he'd just boob punched me and got
yelled at for it.

That got me the last scores I needed to submit for year end awards and they're high enough that I'm good with being done entering Training for the year. Or my life. Good fucking god, I never want to ride another T1 test in my life it's so fucking boring. Sad story though because I have to do it one more time the weekend after next. And then depending on what my GMO gets back to me with for volunteer hours, I'll either be volunteering at the last show or doing First. He needs quite a bit of work to be considered a First horse, but all I want to get out of that is some judge's feedback on what to work on over the winter.

In the meantime, ever onwards with improving the left lead canter.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Unfun Canter

Sweet justice, the end of show season is in sight. I'm sure come January I'm going to be going crazy over wanting to do the thing again (or I'll be frozen and refusing to leave my house because Winter), but for now I'm starting to get a leetle bored with the whole thing.

Which, shame on me. I'm incredibly lucky I was able to put together a complete show season with no major deviations or fuck ups. Knock on wood of course! But one can only do the same low lower level dressage tests so many times before wanting to tear one's fucking eyes out.

look at that giant white snoot showing off its true snoot outline

We have a show this Sunday, a weekend off, and then an inaugural dressage show at the state fairgrounds which is kind of exciting. After that I have one other show on the schedule, but I'm not sure if I'll be riding in it or volunteering for it. My GMO requires a certain amount of volunteer hours for year end awards which is fine, but they have such limited opportunities I'm struggling to find a way to come up with my final three. I offered to help at the beginning of the week with set up the day before, but that position was filled. I'm glad I spent all day scoring at their last show and racked up a huge chunk of hours or I'd be fucked. So that's kind of annoying.

post bath time snackies

Fortunately nothing helps battle the repetition of test riding quite like having a young, green horse. While he's pretty much always really easy and lovely to ride at shows, schooling at home is a different story. He likes to save our go-rounds for his home turf which I am one hundred percent okay with.

Monday and Tuesday I buckled down on the flail-a-saurus canter and it. was. tough.

Inspired by Megan I bought a Happy Mouth mullen mouth bit to try. He goes okay in the metal french link eggbutt, but I've been thinking of trying something different to see if I could get the contact a little steadier. Obviously riding better to train the horse better is a large part of that, but I wanted something he wouldn't have any reason to back off of. He loves to curl and fake a frame, and while that's gotten significantly better from where we started, I have this horrible fear of fucking up the basics like I did with past horses. They all looked like they were going around okay, but there's nothing like reaching the upper of the lower levels and running head first into some giant fucking holes to give you a reality check on future horses.

is dubious about said training.
or just creeping on the cat behind him.

Monday was the first day in the new bit and the timing worked out well in that BM finished her ride just as I was getting on so I headed out with her for a trail walk to let him get used to the feel of a very different mouth piece before asking him to go to work in it.

I really want him to build up the base of his neck more so all the walk and trot work this week (and for the foreseeable future as SADLY muscles do not grow in three days or I'd work out like a boss) has been done in a long and low frame. It's been fucking fabulous and really kept him soft and relaxed while still making him #werk

Then we canter.

I think Jen had the post about shifting the weight back from the front of the saddle to allow the horse to have somewhere to come up. Sometimes it's just little reminders like that that help, and I had that firmly in my mind in the canter departs. Derp, what a difference! He's been much quieter about stepping into them now so I'm hoping that upward trend continues.

he hates anything and everything apple so he's taken to sucking
on a peppermint as we warm up at the walk. i find it hysterical.

The canter itself has not been a one and done fix. I mean, unless we're counting my inability to ever walk like a lady again because that fix is set in fucking stone. My thighs have been working overtime trying to keep this horse upright and straight and moving forward.

For the motorcylcing around turns/corners/any bend whatsoever, I've been making every turn super square. We start at the walk, move to the trot, and then make it happen at the canter. It's not pretty, but it's gotten loads better and he's actually getting pretty competent at it now. He has no problem being a bendy Gumby horse. It's a straight line that he finds challenging.

For the wanting to quit in the left lead, I was really struggling to keep him from breaking and then rocketing off when I corrected him which threw the whole canter into shambles. Again. I finally got annoyed Tuesday, grabbed a dressage whip, and spanked him once the second he started to think about making bad choices. That was all it took and suddenly listening to a subtler leg cue didn't seem like such a bad idea.

The steering though. God fucking damn. The first day in the new bit I thought for sure it was going to be a bust because I could not steer. Like, wow, we almost just peaced the fuck out of the open arena doors. Once alllllll the other pieces started to come together, the steering slowly returned. Historically it hasn't been a strong point for him since Day One, but I'll take shaky geometry over careening into outer space any day.

the sign i want for opie's canter

I gave him yesterday off and then got on to see what I had to work with this morning.

Surprise! Or not because #childgenius, but he was excellent from the very first step. Really lifting his back way up at the walk and trot, and then quietly and correctly cantered around on both leads. I quit after ten minutes because it was exactly what I wanted, and I'm all about rewarding good ponies.

I don't even know what my game plan is for the next two days before the show. I'm still irrationally frustrated by the volunteering thing, but I plan on making sure my name is written in cement for the remaining hours I need while I'm there Sunday. I spent a lot of money planning my season around supporting my GMO and aiming for year end awards. Take my free time as well, too, please!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Fly, Opie! Fly!

no, i don't mean take off with me, you little fucker.

Because thinking of how many more times this season I still have to ride the same god damned Training tests is starting to make me a little twitchy (three more times apiece), I gave Opie the whole week off decided to change things up a bit this weekend.

He did, in fact, end up getting the week off although it was unplanned. I didn't realize beginner horse camp was last week until I showed up at the barn Tuesday morning to feed and Children. I attempted to ride Wednesday but lasted maybe five minutes before I got off in annoyance. Because Children.

So instead Opie spent the week eating carrots and weaving at the fence because his soulmate was inside most of the time for said children and his other pasture mate doesn't count as a real horse ninety nine percent of the time.

trying to peace out to go find soulmates. the theme of sunday.

I got to the barn super late for me on Saturday with everything crossed that lessons would have cleared out by then and lucked out that everyone was driving out as I was driving in. I snagged one of the barn girls that was meandering around the ring bareback for a trail ride, grabbed Opie from the field, threw his bridle on, and headed out bareback myself.

For essentially not being ridden in a full week he was great. We did have a moment where he trotted up the last part of our hill and I clung to his mane bouncing around frantically giggling as I tried not to slide off the back of his round pony body.

I finished the ride in the ring under tack. He was a total star for it. I'm starting to work in earnest on putting a real lengthening on, so we did a ton of back and forth at all three gaits just getting him familiar with adjustability without breaking. A few really nice turns on the forehand, and then finished with some real shoulder- and haunches-in at the trot.

he is so good at the dressage stuff. just look at him.
alright, he was only a little asshole most of the time, not all of it.

On Sunday I decided we were going to jump in the front field. I didn't have a particularly solid reason for it. It was a nice day and I had originally planned on going to a hunter pace, but the thought of driving for yet another weekend when we're showing yet again this upcoming weekend just didn't excite me so I passed. Plus I still have memories of the front field being a fun place for easy jumping with Bobby. Obviously the first and last time I was out there with Angry Cobra Opie wasn't enough to deter me.

Hubby and I brought all three horses in from the field, got Opie groomed, and then took his monthly confo pic quick.

current status: adorable.

I got him tacked up in a barn mates borrowed jump saddle (because barn mates are the best) and then headed back out front where Opie immediately started screaming nonstop on the off chance BFF Apollo had poofed back into existence in the field while Opie wasn't watching.

Spoiler Alert: He hadn't.

Opie proceeded to try all sorts of evasive maneuvers to get back to the barn, none of which worked. Once Hubby made it up to the front Opie settled down and stopped making noise because he loves Hubby.

After a slightly wild w/t/c warm up, I started us off with the baby coop.

always has an eye for hubby

It involved nonstop Angry Cobra on approach and then we landed and he abruptly bucked and tried to take off to the barn. Again.

bye felecia. 

But I persevered! And got the same result some more!

locked onto his end destination: not this field.

Eventually ripping his face off sank in a little bit and we ended on that jump marginally successfully.

Then around to a hanging log which didn't give us any grief last time. This time Opie discovered the beauty of the run out--only he didn't quite get the hang of it and still jumped while running out so that he was really only jumping air.

super cute form over that nothing, dopes

I got that shut down then moved on to the skinny hanging log.


The fucking Angry Cobra neck kept getting in his way of seeing the jump so when we got up to it he was like, "Da fuq did this come from?!" So I parked him in front of it and let him snoot it for a moment:

jump here, dummy

And brought him back around one more time:

well. he did go over.

I left it at that because I was pretty much done with the head in my face, rabid neck strikes, ripping my arms out trying to leave shenanigans. We finished with the tire jump in the shade of the trees that he cantered right over twice because apparently that's not scary at all.

still don't trust you not to take off on landing, little horse

I'm disappointed that I spent the entire ride pulling on my horse, and I'm annoyed it was because the entire ride my horse kept trying to leave the area at a high rate of speed. Talk about the Unfun work. The only way he's going to get over having to have friends around at all times is to be shown that life can go on without them, but damn if my shoulders aren't in love with this method.

In the meantime, back to dressage land.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

WNYDA Summer Fest II

I was the second ride of the day on Sunday with my next test being about thirty minutes behind that. It meant a 4am wake up call, but it almost meant we'd be in and out and free to spend the rest of the day doing other things.

all done, time to go home and be productive go back to bed

While still dark, Hubby had pulled the trailer right up to the barn where the outside lights had it illuminated inside and out just fine. Opie said NOPE. It was less a "I don't want to get on the trailer" than a great big "I'm not leaving my friends again, thanks."

He kept staring into the barn every time I stopped him at the ramp. That's a big old NOPE from me. He can stop and take a break from the circling as long as his attention is on me. There was a lot of drama and rearing and when I wouldn't let him throw himself into the side of the barn he tried to throw himself at me instead. After ten minutes I brought him to the ramp yet again and he dropped his head and let me pet him without paying any attention to the barn. I let him hang out there for a minute and told him he was a good boy before asking him to walk up which he finally did without fuss.

It was pouring rain the whole time, that good old fashioned sideways sheeting shit that we really needed but came at a rather inopportune time, which made the whole ordeal that much more fun. On top of that I'd woken up to my body being like, "Being a woman is great!" which is decidedly false. The easy hour and a half drive down turned into a two hour white knuckle bitch fest while my rig basically swam the last twenty minutes there was so much water on the road.

Up on the hill where the college is the rain had cleared up to a slow drizzle and I got Opie tucked into his breakfast under a cooler. He was kind of a distracted fuck the whole time as it was early enough horses elsewhere were also being fed and making noises that he had to pay rapt attention to. Obviously.

To make the whole thing more fun, as I backed Opie off the trailer Hubby informed me half his hind hoof was dangling off. I was like, wait are you referring to the blood on his leg? No, that was it's own thing. In the drama of flinging himself around the parking lot he'd managed to take a chunk off the outside of one of his feet and give himself minor road rash on the same leg's cannon bone.

if you're wondering why he wasn't wrapped, it's because he
somehow managed to get a bandage bow on a front leg on the
trailer ride down the day before and i was too paranoid to wrap
any of his legs the next day. joke's on me!

The chunk of foot came off with one tug and I rasped it clean to see if there was any real damage. Fortunately no, just cosmetic. The blood on his leg I scrubbed clean, dabbed some peroxide on, and it was good to go--really nothing more than a tiny spot of a scrape.

I finally got both of us dressed, attempted to dry my saddle off one last time before I got on, and then headed over to warm up. As we were walking by the barn the TD stopped me to tell me my stock tie was sacrilegious and offensive to all of mankind bending the rules on conservatism.

I honestly thought she was joking at first. This is the fourth recognized show I've worn it to, including the day before, and no one had told me it wasn't allowed. In fact the TD at the show last month told me it was really fun and cute. BECAUSE IT IS. But no.

"The judge even said to me yesterday, 'What's the story behind that stock?'" Which I barely refrained rolling my eyes over because the judge was wearing a fucking bright pink sport coat so who is he to say the four inches of my light teal stock that's visible is offensive? And also I just didn't really believe her. Houghton is a conservative Christian college--one where unicorns are apparently the work of Satan. I don't fucking know. I asked her if she wanted me to change it, and she told me if I had another one I probably should.

Back I went to the trailer to change into my throat-crushing white stock where my sticky AF silicone grip asshole breeches glued to my wet saddle as I shimmied off and caused me to get a great big black saddle stain down one thigh. Then I got back on and soaked my ass through. SO THAT WAS GREAT.

it's a pretty stock tie, it just chokes me out.

The warm up was a mad house as there were five horses stuffed into the small size dressage ring because no one wanted to ride in the rain. Unsurprisingly it was actually less of a cluster than when I went back in for a quick t/c right before my second test and there was only one woman in there who managed to commandeer the entire ring and almost crush me into the wall with great fucking regularity. Because there's always a Dressage Queen.

Anyway, Dopes actually warmed up nice and relaxed and forward. The third rider in our T1 class had scratched all his horses for the day so it was just Opie and the lovely mare.

Training 1

Opie was a thousand times more relaxed and focused than the day before. I think it helped that it was just Hubby in the bleachers and the photographer at the rail which was a whole lot less to get distracted by. He felt super the whole test, and after the morning I'd already had I was glad to have the good Dopie horse back in action.

We got a mix of 7s and 6.5s with a solitary 6 for the second 20m trot circle that kind of got away from me in the steering department. 7s for collective marks except for another 6 for submission with the comment "connection." "Nice pair--work to create a back to front connection to keep horse more balanced and through in transitions. Good job." Much more to work with than god damn "Nose out." 67% scored just under the mare for a nice big red ribbon.

We went back to the warm up since a bunch of people had ended up scratching for the day which left the show running early and we didn't have much scheduled time between tests anyway. One of the trainers in the ring was like, "There's that little baby Thoroughbred I love!" when Opie went by. "I've seen him everywhere all year and he's so cute!"

it's true. he's basically the cutest thing alive. 

He'll be an easy sell if I ever can't get him on the trailer and have to leave him behind somewhere. Five dollars and he's yours so long as I don't have to deal with the drama anymore.

Just kiddingggg.

alright, sometimes he does look a bit like a donkey.

We didn't do much between tests. I parked Opie in a corner and hung out for ten minutes until the ring cleared of all but the DQ. When the ring steward said the horse before me was next in the ring I did a quick t/c with him and then went back over to get fawned over by the bit check volunteer.

Training 3

This test wasn't quite as steady as the first one. It felt a bit rushed again and like I couldn't quite keep up. Still, mostly 6.5s, 7s, and 7.5s with a much redeeming and best scoring yet 7 for that fucking stretchy trot circle! I was pumped he actually went down and gave it the old college try for the very first time in a test. Sadly we ended with a 5 for the final halt because it wasn't immobile. Watch it--it's actually kind of funny. He halted not square and paused so I went ahead and saluted. Only Opie was like, "That's not right! We halt square always!" and took it upon himself to fix that mistake and square himself up.

7s and 6s for collectives with the final comment, "Nice pair--work to keep horse in front of your seat and leg. Be careful not to drive at your seat in the canter. Try to sit deeper and activate from leg to create energy. This will improve balance and connection. Good luck." This judge had great comments for both tests which I always appreciate looking back on to learn from. 66%+ won the class by a whole fucking lot. Like, embarrassingly a lot. I'm not sure what happened to the other two riders, but I'll take my blue ribbon and run.

yay, not yellow!
note stained brand new breeches. 

And then I went home, took a shower, and went back to bed for three hours. Because I'm a grown up that needs naps sometimes, okay?

Monday, July 23, 2018

WNYDA Summer Fest I

I'm hoping to keep these recaps nice and short since I had such excellent ride times that didn't leave me any time to wander around the facilities finding things to do to amuse myself and therefore opening myself to long winded ramblings about how my horse grazes.


I've already started!

Opie loaded and unloaded like a superstar on day one. I left the trailer stashed down the driveway while I went to check in and see about parking since they had a whole bunch of random shit everywhere with their new building still sort of under work. He managed not to maim himself while he waited, and then hung out quietly eating his breakfast and reassuring himself his new soulmates were in sight until it was time to get tacked up.

soulmates acquired: check.
the view up there is really pretty!

We did a couple laps around the barns before I started my warm up. I had more time than I wanted, but I always think it takes longer to get dressed and tacked up than it actually does, and once I start the process Opie doesn't like standing still anymore. From there I joined one other rider in the outdoor, but Opie had his head on a swivel and had zero interest in tuning me in. I left that ring and went into the small indoor instead.

He warmed up w/t/c there beautifully. It was a really small turnout for the whole show this time for some reason, which left the only two other horses/riders in my T1 class an Olympic medalist and a pro on a super nice young mare we've been competing against all year. Obviously with those odds I wasn't expecting to blow anyone out of the water, but Opie was moving so well I felt I had a really good chance of--if not beating at least one of them--scoring right up there with them.

We did what we needed and still had extra time, so we wandered back out to the outdoor where a few more horses had appeared and did a little more trot work there. It wasn't as good as the previous work, but it felt fine and we headed over to the new ring to wait to go in.

Training 1

Houghton finished their new arena/teaching building just in time for this show. It's gorgeous. It's got brand new GGT footing and is well lit and set up great for spectating. It's also a lot for a young horse who gets distracted every single day of his life by routine things.

waiting to go in on sunday. he marched right in to the bit check area and hung out
patiently, charming the volunteers while they told him he must have been an awful racehorse.

There's windows everywhere including an entire wall of them behind the open judge's stand. One long side is metal bleachers that had quite a crowd in them as we rode right before the lunch break. Opie was understandably pretty bug eyed by everything. I let him walk a lap the first time and he gave quite the hairy eyeball to the judge's stand when we passed it. Fortunately the judge gave us enough time to lap the ring once more at the trot before he blew the whistle.

The test was not so hot. Opie was tight and googly eyed and kept trying to stare at every noise the people in the bleachers made. Not being particularly in-tune to me, he'd get quick and then feel my half halt and immediately take it as a cue to stop doing whatever he was doing--as in, just stop altogether. Needless to say the rhythm and tempo weren't quite so flowing as one aims for.

warming up sunday

He also felt like he had about ten legs going in every different direction. I don't know if it was just from how distracted he was and the distinct lack of steering that brought that made things feel a little dicey or if he just couldn't figure out what to do with the fluffy cloud footing he was prancing on.

We did our final halt and were walking out when the announcer came over the loud speakers to announce the next rider and Opie scooted forward like someone had jumped out behind him. Again, it was just a lot for him to process.

The judge understandably wasn't too impressed. We got 3rd out of the three of us with a 61%+. Every. Single. Comment was "Nose out." Every. Comment. Now I know Opie was distracted and certainly not steady in the contact, but good grief. Think up a new comment. (I have to whine about something every show clearly.) The judge didn't seem too impressed with anyone the whole morning. Everyone was in the upper fifties and low sixties except for the two horses in my T1 that both scored really well.

I pulled Opie's bridle but left him saddled to let him eat for a bit before we had to go back for our second test.

getting to be such a pro about hanging out patiently. even if he does still have
permanent side eye. 

Training 3

Training 3 felt a lot like Training 1 but faster. Like, we couldn't steer faster and he found things to be distracted by faster. I'm sure the show photographer got some really good pictures of me grimacing for ninety percent of the test as I tried to finesse some sense of control into the high speed chase that was going on in the ring.

Our comments were, again, mostly, "Nose out" with a couple additions about the transitions being abrupt and one about tension. Hysterically the stretchy circle which felt like a game of start-stop where I attempted to half halt, Opie attempted to halt halt, I kicked Opie on, Opie jetted off, repeat, got the comment "tempo steady". But still a 5. Because there was a distinct lack of actual stretching going on.

I was happy to have that test behind us as it wasn't the most fun to ride. We managed a 62%+ for another third--beating several people this time and actually only scoring 1% behind the girl that usually beats us in this test by a lot. The Olympian won by quite a bit more obvi.

i'm really good at taking flattering pictures.
and i know those ribbons are giant, but yellow.

Even though the tests didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped, especially since he warmed up so well, I'm happy enough with how he handled himself. He could have come completely unglued in there, but didn't react any worse than a horse his age and with his experience had a right to. Bonus that he was such a pro for every other aspect.

Stayed tuned for tomorrow's better results but ten thousand times more outside fuckery!