Sunday, August 31, 2014

Next up: Chuck wagon racing!

Alright, that might be a slight exaggeration. Or possibly even an extreme exaggeration.

giddy up, heriberto! 

With a dressage show on the horizon, I figured there was nothing better to do than deviate from dressage work and slap the ole harness on Bobby Friday with plans to drive him the next day. He started off a little sassy and tried to turn back into the barn, but he was good for the majority of the ground driving. We had to have a reminder towards the end about how "'Stand' means stand the fuck still", but once that was re-installed he was golden.


Saturday afternoon Hubby and I headed out to the barn when I was sure no one was going to be there. No offense to other riders; their horses just don't seem to take kindly to seeing the cart chase Bobby around the ring. I got Bobby harnessed, walked him up to the outdoor, and hooked him without preamble. He glanced back once to see what I was doing, but didn't seem bothered. 


I had Hubby attached to his halter as I walked behind him and the cart once around each way. Bobby could have cared less so I got in the cart and gave us a shove off. Hubby stayed attached on a long line for one lap, but after that we were on our own.


Bobby could have cared less. He continued to plod along without fuss, occasionally trying to glance past his blinders to see what the fuck his pasture mates were doing in their field above the arena. (Answer: They were freaking the fuck out about the cart.) We changed directions, and after awhile when I figured Bobby was being good enough I'd see if I could get him to have a little trot.


I stopped him before he got to the deep end of the ring, but I was still giddy with excitement. He was barely trotting he was going so slow, but still. First time trotting in the cart without anyone attached. Yay!


And that's probably the last time I'll drive him for another couple of months. Obviously the time off from it doesn't faze him. I last hitched him in April, and he hadn't been hitched before that since last August. One of these days weeks years I'll have some extra cash and get him his own cart. The pony cart is not really built for a giant Thoroughbred.

although he looks like a pony in this picture. you can still see how small the cart is.

Now I have a week to do work that prepares us for Sunday's dressage show. Boring! But the weekend after that, I have something super fun planned that I really, really hope works out. If it does it will take the place of a hunter or jumper show. But it will ten million times more fun.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Riding? It involves the brain?

I am riding a dressage high. How is that even a real thing for an eventer? But I do love me some flat work. Mostly it has to do with seeing a problem, setting a plan, and--get this--following through with it.

Whaaaat.

But first let me fill you in on all the things Bobby has been doing this week. He's kind of an important dude, so I know you're all dying to be up to date.

On Monday he did nothing but get a good grooming and liniment rubdown. And also lots of cookies.

whoa, crazy horse. don't take off!

On Tuesday we hauled out for a two hour trail ride which we did ninety percent at the walk. The other ten percent was Bobby doing his best impression of an endurance horse and skimming the ground at a trot like a mofo.

chilling in the water because no more being stupid about water, mr magee

On Wednesday we went up to the cross country field for S's birthday. Bobby was all, "Whatevs. Every day life for a gangster." Memphis was all, "I am a fucking event horse, even though I have never jumped outside of an arena at a competition!!!!!." So while Memph was exuberantly frolicking (aka bucking) around in excitement, Bobby was alternating walking like a slug and pretending that he could only go uphill if it was at a high rate of speed. No time for jumping. Just running.

I figured since we didn't really have a reason to be schooling 2' logs that day, I would just let him have a run up the hill. Bobby was all prancey pants walking down the hill, threw in a spin for good measure, and turned the corner to wide open space.

And then threw on the brakes. Only once he had stood there for a few seconds did he decide all on his own we could go. Look, Bobby does things on Bobby time.

But I did get it on helmet cam! Obviously there is swearing in this (Obviously because it's just me talking, and every word out of my mouth is foul.). It starts around the one minute marker.



When we were done, S and I marveled at how our white boots were suddenly yellow from rag weed pollen. That's also why I'm sniffing so much in the helmet cam (Sorry!) because I am super allergic to it. Fortunately BO sent J up there to mow when we got back down.

pre-wash boots

And finally, today! We did an early morning dressage school in the indoor, breaking down parts of the three First tests to work through. My biggest frustration at shows is how unfocused I get in warm up for dressage. I send Bobby off at a trot, and the only thing I accomplish is not running into anyone. I don't circle, I don't do any lateral work, I don't shorten my fucking reins because my horse's fucking mile long neck is stretched out in the most basic semblance of "suppleness". Usually Bobby goes right to work at home, so I don't really have a good warm up plan to work through this anyway.

But today he started off just as distracted and tense as he can get when I do nothing but sit there and randomly steer him around. Awesome! Something useful to work on! As long as I put my leg on, his canter work is pretty much a breeze, so I focused solely on the trot at first. Serpentines, lots of changes of directions, trot-three steps walk-trot transitions, trot-halt-rein back-trot.

And wouldn't you know? The pony got connected, got sitting, got lifting up front, and my reins kept creeping shorter and shorter and Bobby's neck came up and rounded. It's like magic when you actually ride.

no dressage ride pictures, so have another trail ride between the ears shot

With such a good warm up, when I asked for harder work, he delivered. Counter canter loops, leg yields, and 10 and 15 meter circles were super. Stretchy trot even rocked. We still need to work on leg yielding off the rail to X, and on 15m circles at A and C, but overall he's feeling pretty great for next weekend's show. Hopefully I can focus during that warm up, too.

One thing we still really, really suck at is the free walk to medium walk transitions. They're marginally better when I don't let my reins out quite so much at the free walk, but he still wants to throw his head once I start shortening the reins. If I take my time and stretch out the process all the way from say M to H, he's fine. But I don't have that much time in a test. We have to be trotting by C. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WW: My horse is a loser

three bay boys in the run in, one bay boy off by himself

finding his own shade

with his bff skye, a 30-something retired lesson pony who treats bobby as his bitch,
just before memphis got turned back out

then memphis teamed up with his bff bennie to herd bobby away from skye

once bobby was suitably distanced,
bennie and memphis headed back to graze with skye

and bobby had to graze by himself

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Informal Blog Hop: Before and After

Niamh at Life of Riley had a great idea for a blog hop, and though she appears to be technologically foiled by official blog hop linkage, we're going to act like it's for real anyway!

I could go way, way back and show before pictures of Robert as a gangling yearling just getting broken out, or from when I officially bought him in December 2010, but to keep it mostly blog current I'll start from when I got him back in December 2011.

Dressage:

Bobby has gone from mediocre to fabulous on the flat over the years. He started off just chugging along quietly, but unimpressive in both frame and mannerism.


May 2012

But then he learned to express himself.


June 2013.
And carry himself more uphill.

June 2013.

And present day I have a tried and true dressage show horse!

June 2014.

Stadium Jumping:

Bobby was very green learning to jump. Things like lines of poles confused him, and Bobby loves to let you know when he's displeased.


December 2011. 

Bobby's favorite word was "NO."

February 2012. 

But less than a year later he'd learned to go over the jumps. And also through them. 

September 2012. 
His powers of self preservation grew and grew as he gained more experience.

December 2012.

Until he finally learned to jump so high that I thought I was going to die.

June 2013. 4'

Cross Country:

Bobby is one consistent cross country horse. He's consistently good with his footwork:

April 2012

May 2013

He's consistently good with clearing things with room to spare:

February 2012

April 2013

And, let's be honest, no one has a gallop like Bobby Magee. He's consistently good at cantering like his brain fell out.

April 2013

July 2013

This horse. He has taken the eventing world by storm!

No, but really. This horse. He can be the biggest tool, and throw the biggest tantrums, and absolutely lose his shit over nothing, but he has come a long way from ugly ass fresh off the track Thoroughbred being poorly ridden in the year before I bought him:

February 2010. getting hacked by someone else at school

To a legitimate dressage horse:

Decemeber 2012

Who knows all about contact and carrying himself:

April 2014

And a cute:

January 2011. literally his first ever jump

But uneducated jumper:

April 2011

To a horse that knows his job:

April 2013

And is really pretty good at it:

June 2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

DVCTA HT - N

Note to self: When submitting an entry for a show three hours away that you know runs multiple dressage rings at one time, runs from highest to lowest levels and you're showing at the second highest level offered, stick a request on your entry to ask for a later ride time. That way you're not setting your alarm for 2:30 a.m. because that shit isn't fun for anyone.

although 8 a.m. does make for cool weather and pretty pictures.

Dressage

Dressage warm up was on a hill which seemed a little sketch, but what do I know. With Training and Novice divisions warming up consecutively it was also a complete mad house. Oh, and have I complained about how early we got there? Because the dressage warm up was not only on a hill, but also next to giant trees which meant it took a long time for sun to reach the dew slick grass.

bobby slipped and nearly fell on his giant head coming out of this corner
not once but twice.

I'm pretty much a wandering idiot in warm up because I seem to be the only person that doesn't just park it on a circle and assume everyone else is going to avoid them. Now I do warm up on a circle at home, so by focusing almost solely on skirting around everyone I have yet to bring work at home over to work at a show. As such, we went into the ring with Bobby's quiet but unimpressive training level frame and puttered around without much incident.


The test was "meh". Nothing went horribly wrong. He didn't do great coming out of the free walk to medium walk, and he had a "Ha ha, LLAMA!" moment at the trot heading into our second left circle. I knew he was a bit behind my leg the whole time, but I wasn't sure how much I could push without sending him sprawling.


We did, however, get a 9 for our entrance and an 8 for a change of rein at trot, but the rest were meh 6s and 7s. We ended up with a 32.17 which I thought was pretty fair. (Thanks for picking up my test, Niamh! Not sure why results took so long to come out.)

Stadium

We fortunately had a few hours between dressage and stadium because it took us like ten bajillion years to walk the cross country course. And pretty much all of that time was walking to and from the course, not actually on it. We came back and our trailer neighbor told us how impressed she was with Bobby who had apparently taken a nap the whole time we were gone. That was one good thing about leaving so early in the morning--Bobby had to get his morning siesta in and didn't paw himself a grave at the trailer, the punk.


Robert, Hubby, and I went over to say hi to Niamh and Riley and Emily and Brody before getting tacked up and heading over to warm up for stadium. Usually I'm a hot mess before stadium, but I was so pleased with myself for thinking that the cross country course looked like a walk in the park that every time I started to feel anxious about jumping, I just thought about how fun the xc was going to be.

First warm up jump was a cross rail. Easy, no problems. Came around to the vertical. I saw no distance, so I stared down that mother fucker like it would make one magically appear. Bobby took a flyer and I lost my left rein mid-air. Awesome.

pro status

Amazingly that didn't rattle me, and we came back around and jumped it just fine.



Then I thought to myself, "Recovered without incident from one mistake, don't press your luck." I didn't do another warm up jump, and instead went over to watch the course. I'm not sure if that was the wrong thing to do or not. Warm up was pretty small and having to avoid riders both frustrates and sometimes unnerves me, but at the same time I probably should have done a few more jumps to get into a better rhythm. Or any rhythm.

We finally get our number called to go in. I've been watching horses slide all over the place this whole time, and rails--while not flying out in excess--are dropping. But I'm not nervous! We turn into the first jump, a big oxer, and Bobby moves up on his own to take it with no help from me as I stare at it completely blank.

from this angle it makes it look like i know what i'm doing!

Jump two is another oxer off of a roll back from fence one. Bobby slipped through the turn so I naturally pulled him back to a total crawl, then continued to hold onto his face with no added leg while simultaneously staring down the fence. He made it over, but it was squirrelly.  Fence three was off a bending line, which we just practiced at home. But no. I just pointed him in its general direction and sat there doing nothing. He chipped, but cleared it.

Fence four was off a hard turn with not a lot of room from the rail for the approach. Pull, no leg, stare it down. Bobby slammed on the breaks and slid into it, knocking the whole thing down. He was done saving my ass over giant oxers when all I was doing was working against him. "You don't want to jump these, lady? Well then we just won't jump them!"

fence 2

I knew things were not going to improve from there. I needed to kick on and getting him moving about a hundred time more forward than he was going, and I needed to take a hold and actually ride. Hate to say it, but it wasn't going to happen. I asked if I could retire and still do the cross country. I got permission for that and headed out of the ring to change into his elevator bit--which he really should have been in for stadium, but that's a discussion that can be its own post.

Cross Country

It was probably a five mile walk to the start of cross country (Like, srsly. Longest. Walk. Ever.), but you did have to ride through a creek to get there so Bobby at least got to get his toes wet. Hubby had grand ambitions of making it all the way down to the water complex for pictures, but only made it to the middle of fences 3 and 4.

fence 3, a giant bench shared with training.
hate. benches.

We left the start box, and I spaced again. But I gave myself a mental (and verbal because I am such a psycho when I talk to myself on course) slap and kicked on. And then kept kicking with the mindset of "If we go fast, I won't have time to be a complete fucking retard!" That plan was well thought out and well executed. Bobby was totes happy that I was finally on board to play and let him move out a bit.

okay, so we did have one minor discussion about speed, but still.
and look at that freshly adjusted right leg reaching up!

He did leave out an entire stride to fence five, the red ramp, which you can totally see on my helmet cam.

flyer

He was finally feeling secure on the grass after sliding all day (everyone else was too) until about halfway through the course. Cantering downhill to a big roll top he started scrambling a bit, but he listened to my half halts and we got re-balanced before jumping that one. He actually jumped the ditch instead of cantering through it, and then tried to get bonus points by also jumping the shadow directly after it.


Over a big log, and then another log just before the water. He saw the log, perked up, saw the water beyond it, and tried to suck back a little. Oh, hell no. I sat deep and drove him on with an encouraging smack behind my leg as we went over the log, then gave him another smack right at the water's edge. He plowed through and jumped out over the roll top without breaking stride. Good pony!

After the water was a step jump which, after falling on my head over a similar jump at Bucks a couple of years ago, still gives me anxiety. It was the best jump on course all day though! Yay, pony! Down the hill through the woods where a family was trying to stay out of our way by hiding behind some bushes. I was waiting for Bobby to spook at them as we went by, but he was too busy looking for the next jump for such nonsense.

we're being watched....

He took a long spot up the bank, but made the two strides to the log after it easily. He slipped again coming out of the turn, but was fine for the long run home to the final jump which he also took with no problems.

Finally!!! A cross country course with no penalties! It's been too long!

this is worth watching if only for listening to how fucking crazy
i sound at the water jump. 


Also, let me just say that nothing annoys me more than the fact that my FUCKING HELMET VISOR FELL DOWN AGAIN. Get out the way, ho! Ugh, so annoying. So ugly. So much hate over it. 

So nevermind that stadium was a complete bust, and we finished with a letter and not a number. At least it was an 'R' and not and 'E', and at least I redeemed myself on cross country. 

And!

We got to hang out with some fabulous blog friends!

serious dopes.
the ponies, not the riders. come on now.

caution: out of control ottbs.

Next order of business is a dressage show 9/7. After that, we'll be looking for some.....

.....wait for it.....

hunter shows.

I know. I KNOW.