Monday, October 26, 2015

Friday's Lesson

On Friday, I finally got another lesson in after having to put the last one off due to arena work. In a fun turn of events, it ended up being a private since the horse BM was riding decided he could not horse that day and BM spent our entire ride time making him do walk halt transitions. While I do feel bad for BM that she missed the lesson, she's a far better rider than I, and I kept casting wistful looks her way as Trainer pressed the right lead canter issue(s) without any let up to yell at BM instead.

It wasn't all torturous though, and at the end of it, Trainer was beaming with what we finished on. It was nice to show off how hard we've been working on our own instead of telling Trainer we can do things and then having my horse flail around for an hour.

as always, i have no lesson video, but i do have some saturday ride media to share

This lesson recap won't be full of Trainer's patented sassy pro tips, but I got a lot out of it, so it's getting recorded for myself.

I started off telling her about my troubles with Bobby slinging his head up whenever I pick up my reins for any sort of transition. Before I could finish, she'd sent me off at the free walk. Ignoring my rein length, she told me to sit for the medium walk. I should have figured this out myself as Trainer's answer for every transition is to sit for it and it will come.

Bobby brought his head up when I sat for the medium walk, but he wasn't throwing it up. He simply collected himself in response to my seat and his whole front end came up. Then I had a loop in my reins that I quietly got rid of. Durh.

That will still need work though as I'm way too quick to just shorten up my reins and correct him after instead of asking for what I want with my body and adjusting my rein length accordingly afterwards.

trot warm up saturday

Speaking of corrections, Trainer reminded me that when I'm at home, I'm schooling. If I run into a problem--a bad transition, the canter falls of the tracks, etc--bag it. There's no reason to keep trying to push through. Come back and try again until I get it right. Perfect practice and all that.

As we got trotting to warm up, we didn't have to be perfect, but he did have to go to work and make sure the basics were sharp. She had me moving his haunches around in preparation for the canter. Even if they were messy, she said they'd still help loosen up his hind end.

Messy was a nice word for it. Trainer's word was sneaky. He can move them to the outside, but ask him to push them over to the inside? Bobby said fuck that noise. I could feel him start to really tense up and think about throwing one of his infamous shit fits. I was like, "Trainer, he thinks this is really hard. I don't-"

And Trainer cut right in with, "It doesn't matter if he thinks it's hard, he's got to do it anyway. You asked him to do, he's a horse, and now he's going to do it."

With that calm ultimatum, I gave a mental shrug and told Bobby to carry on. And he did. Hmph. Trainer had me stop so she could lecture me about getting used to his evasions and feeding into them. Guilty as charged.

We finally moved on to the canter. We got nothing but gold stars for the left lead. "The canter, when balanced, should be silent. That canter was silent. I have nothing else to say about it. Just lovely."

canter left

To the right: "His favorite evasion is just to dump himself onto his forehand. That hind end was trailing along so badly that the only reason it was coming with you at the canter is because it just happens to be attached to his front half."

Er, yes. Off we went again. This time she had us start trotting to the left, change the rein through the circle, and then the second we hit the wall to turn right, ask for it. That worked much better, though it's still nothing pretty. Trainer let us go with, "Bearable." That might be the nicest thing she's said about it yet!

canter right

Finally, to finish off, she sent us out at the trot again, this time asking Bobby to really open up his stride while keeping that front half elevated and light. We've finished on this on our own the past couple of rides and it's been magic. It was no different this time around. After almost an hour of being pushed to work correctly, Bobby was in tune to everything and floated around like a magical unicorn.

Trainer pointed out that he probably won't ever be a horse I can just come right out and get on and get this level of work. I have to figure out the right warm up. At shows, I'll need to do mostly the stuff he finds easy to keep him happy and listening. Most people want to try to do a last minute fix of the things we find hard, but all that does is make the horse tense.

Trainer doubled Bobby's post ride Polo allotment (Could Trainer be any more British? I don't think so.) for being such a good britches and told me, "That has to be so fun for you!" Yes. It is fun when my horse knows how to horse. I think I'll keep him around a little bit longer.

Friday, October 23, 2015

I am an Eventer. So there.

They're everywhere! Once again people are pretending like eventing is on the hot seat thanks to the injury of one upper level rider and the disregard for horses' welfare from another. Forum and blog posts railing against the dangers of this sport are abound until people get distracted by something else and forget about it for awhile.

I mostly ignore these cycles. They come around often enough that if I miss one, another will be along to passively participate in a few months later. This time around, just for shits and giggles, I thought I'd share how I feel about the subject of the sport I compete in.

Warning: I am ambivalent. I don't care.


I am an eventer. I don't compete at the upper levels. I have no desire to compete at the upper levels. But let me set this straight: it's not because I'm afraid for my life, or the life of my horse. I'm not going to hit a point in my competition career and think, "This horse is trained through PSG. He can jump 4'+, and his gallop is fantastic. This horse is brave, bold, and brilliantly trained. But I will not enter him in any horse trial above preliminary because this sport is not safe."

My mental comfort zone tops out at around 3'6". I'm all for a strong or even flat out gallop, but approaching jumps at that speed does not appeal to me. Were I braver and bolder and I had a horse with the talent to go to the upper levels, I would.

There, I said it. Were I not afraid of the height (cross country or stadium), I would participate in upper level eventing today as it stands.


I understand where the complaints are coming from. I understand your statistics on rider and horse injuries and deaths. They're horrible, yes. However, if I want to risk myself by setting out on these courses, that's my own choice, not yours.

"BUT!" you say. "Your horse doesn't have a choice in the matter!"

Since you probably already hate my passivity and are rolling your eyes, I'll give you a little more fuel to the fire. I believe that you can't make a horse do something it doesn't want to--not something like upper level eventing. All the whips and spurs and giant bits in the world can't get a horse to jump a four foot solid obstacle in its path if there's not something inside that animal that doesn't want to get to the other side.

"It's fear! It's scared you'll punish it for refusing!"

Well then you're an asshole for not treating your horse right. Look at the horses that hunt for the flags, the ones that lock on and go even when their rider makes a mistake. That's an animal that loves its job. That can't be bullied into happening.

Where are the upper level riders complaining about the safety and integrity of eventing? Is it because this is their livelihood and they don't want to lose it? Are they afraid of being fazed out of the sport for stepping up and trying to take action? What are they supposed to take action against? Or are they more in tune to the risk-reward ratio than we are? They can't all be blinded by the chance of success, can they?

What bothers me about all these "Eventing is dangerous and the devil and has changed for the worse and I am never doing it ever!!!!" posts is that people just sit behind their computers and complain about it.

What's the solution? What do you want people to do? Abandon the sport completely? At all levels, or just the upper levels? Do you want to wipe eventing completely off the board?

What's the answer to the problem?

 Maybe if people spent a little less time bitching and little more time actively campaigning for change--whatever that change may be--eventing would turn into a sport that polarizes people a little bit less.

I won't be one of those people. Call me the problem if you'd like, but I'm going to work through the winter on preparing my horse for Training next year. Eventing is my chosen sport, and my horse loves it just as much as I do.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Much Dumb, Less Hair.

The past couple days have been really trying for a Bobby Magee. Upon further reflection after my last post, I realized that I really should throw in a couple serious schooling rides before this week's lesson. After all, I'm trying to work harder and get better in order to dominate next season, and wasting valuable learning time on stupid shit my horse can do when ridden on a consistent schedule is most definitely not the way to go about that.

So far I've put in two ball busting rides, but before I was able to get off and call each a success, I had to convince my horse he was not, in fact, going to be eaten alive by the sand beneath his toes.

if i could have stapled this to his forehead, i would have.

Six truck loads of treated sand footing were spread in the indoor over the weekend. BM didn't get back from the week of horse showing until the early hours of Monday morning, so when I went to ride, the ring had been rolled flat, but not dragged by the tractor yet. This left the sand compacted and smooth, and, according to my usually...if not fearless then at least blasé horse, DEATH TO ALL HORSE KIND.

He was in full snort mode and, since I delight in the ridiculousness that is my horse when he's alarmed by something, he was flinging his body around like a fighting giraffe on crack while I let him walk around on the buckle.

in case you needed a visual of that.

The sound of swishing sand whenever he took a step was offensive. The loudness of his hooves hitting the sand was offensive. The feeling of his hooves cutting in with each step was offensive. When I finally gathered him up and asked him to trot, I quite literally lost my shit in a full on tear inducing giggle fit. Bobby brought his knees up to his chin with each step, channeling his inner Saddlebred to try to reduce the amount of time his feet were touching the ground. It was an impressive display of stupid I hope I never let him live down.

He did finally acclimate himself though, and I got to work moving his haunches around as per Trainer's orders. That was surprisingly easy to accomplish, and it really payed off once I had him pick up the left lead canter. His stride felt looser, and it felt like his hind end was finally reaching forward with his front end.

To the right? I haven't been able to access that yet. He decided he was done participating after the left canter, so after a too long period of trying to get him to trot like a normal horse again, I finally gave up and settled on a really good walk instead.

We finished with a cool out on the trails, and then some work on the rein back in hand. I tap his legs with my dressage whip when I ask him to back to try to get him to understand that legs are for lifting, and not just when one is afraid of sand.

and because i have no new media, here is my horse from this weekend after
two whole seconds of warm up. #postingmakesmegofetal

The arena still hadn't been dragged yet when I went out to ride yesterday morning, but a couple other horses had ridden in it which had done nothing but make the entire outside track a churned up, foot deep mess. BM did drag it when I was done riding, so I'm hopeful that evens it out some. I'm really nervous about this new stuff. It added a solid foot of base, but the sand looks soft tissue sucking deep when it's been ridden over like that.

Since my horse is really not that far removed from a soft tissue injury himself, I stuck to the mostly untouched inside, and even that made me a little twitchy. I don't know what I'm going to do if some of that shit doesn't settle and firm up.

sometimes he's totes adorbs.

For whatever reason, Bobby started off in a mood. Nothing I asked him to do was okay. So that I didn't have to focus on falling into the bordering ditch of leg injuries, I ended up taking him out to the driveway and doing laps out there until he could walk like a gentleman. By the time we went back into the ring, he was in a much better frame of mind.

Aside from loosening up and strengthening the booty, my main focus has been bringing Bobby's front end up into a more advanced "frame" for lack of a better word. The poll has been coming up with less and less urging, but I've been worried about how much his neck has look constricted when I pass the mirror. A higher poll counts for nothing if he's giving it to me by cheating and bulging that ugly under neck muscle out.

After his outside brain let down time though, Bobby was ready to work and was freely moving forward. I shortened my reins a notch and really thought about pushing his butt up under my own.

BAM.

I felt it, and then I passed by the mirror and saw it. That was exactly what I've been working for. It lasted one whole long side to the right no less before I had him halt and told him was the very best pony britches to ever dressage.

We finished with a rein back where I took Trainer's advice to "talk to him" with my reins a little bit instead of holding the contact, and then using my spurs to lift him up and back when I asked for the steps.

BAM.

Nailed that shit, too.

he always acknowledges me leaving, even if he's pooping when he does it.
thanks, bobby. love you, too.

Unfortunately for poor Bobby, aside from the loads of cookies he got, I also gave him a bath and then took all his hair away. You win some, you lose some.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A sort of lack of focus

Getting in a couple of constructive rides at the end of last week and over the weekend maybe possibly did not happen. I think I can safely say that my October goal of doing more fitness work is maybe possibly definitely not getting checked off at the end of the month.

Two point? I missed the deadline for twopointober by giving Bobby an extra day off after our show, and then Death Cold struck, and the one time I've managed to intentionally hover over my saddle I can't say the fear of drowning in my own mucus wasn't a valid concern.

No stirrup work? Well, I did totally nail that shit Saturday.

skeptical bobby is skeptical. skeptical on how he ended up with me as an owner.

Thanks to continuing vehicle troubles (Is my truck's transmission going to blow up today? Is that grating noise from my car's brakes ever going to stop, even after we've replace every single part possible? We may never know!), Hubby was guilted into taking me to the barn over the weekend. Since the weather had put a momentary kibosh on the snow and it was sunny outside, I figured there was no better time to get some nice outdoor riding pictures.

Unfortunately, thanks to the alternating random downpours and wet, shitty snow on Friday that I experienced in all their glory while turning twenty horses out for BM since she was wrangling teenagers at some fancy week-long show, the footing in the outdoor was pure slime.

look, we are riding outside! and also doing the gangsta lean. #reppin

In to the indoor we went, where I took Bobby through his paces in approximately three minutes before calling it quits. How many boring indoor flat videos can one person endure?

it was a good three minutes, but booooringgggg.
So instead I left Bobby parked in the middle of the ring while I dumped my dressage saddle back in the tack room and grabbed my neck strap/ancient stirrup leather. I hung ye olde Micklem on a jump standard, had Hubby give me a leg up, and then away we went to make sure Bobby remembered the basics of bridleless riding while in the relative safety of the ring.



Like all other bad spur of the moment ideas I force upon my horse (Remember the time I decided to teach him to drive? I just did it. In a week. With no problems. And now you can hitch him after six months off to cruise around he doesn't even blink.), he went right to work without issue. After a quick w/t/c, I told Hubby we were going for a quick romp outside, and if he could get some pictures, I'd finish up and stop torturing him.

can we just take a moment to marvel at how this horse's forelock
does not know the meaning of laying straight down the middle EVER?
it's permanently parted, like a big, silly fucking mustache on his forehead.

Once the field full of OTTBs caught sight of us loping down the trail, they all went into full racehorse mode. Bobby did a sassy head snake at them, and then let out the prissiest of bucks, but other than that, he completely ignored them. It was too muddy to do more than wander around a bit anywhere besides the main path outside the paddocks, so our photo shoot wasn't too exciting.

However, any pictures where Bobby has his ears forward are treasured by me, and I think he looks pretty adorable.

bobby has such a man crush on hubby.
every time we passed him, he'd crane his head towards him to check
if he was willing to stop the nonsense and dole out snacks instead.

no tack and the great out of doors equals the quietest canter ever.
i think this is how we'll start competing at shows.

As of today, Bobby will be going on day six of doing pretty much nothing but short lived shenanigans. October or November has always been when I give him off after a full show season. He didn't have to go through that this year, but I guess I can pretend like that's what I'm doing this time around? But maybe I should ride him for real just once before our lesson Friday. Or not because then we'll get yelled at more and I'll have a good lesson post for you!

are we the best at posing? i think so.
i also think i need to really re-clip that floofy fucking tail.

There will be plenty of time to be stuck in the indoor to work hard on dressage and jumping. We need to play outside while we still can.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

WW: A Photoshoot

A quick non-wordless introduction first.

I had originally planned on taking these with my real camera while it was sunny out. Then I forgot my camera at home and it started lightly raining by the time I got to the barn. Not one to be backed out of an idea once it's in my head, I decided to see what I could get with my phone. I really wanted some dark bay winter coat Bobby pictures with a nice fall leaves background before it snows this weekend (No, but really. I might die if that actually stays in the forecast.).

Really the only problem I ran into is that I own Bobby. A chill dude by nature, I have inadvertently bomb proofed him to life. I stuck my empty peppermint bag on top of a broken tree branch and waved it around while hopping up and down and crinkling a peppermint wrapped in the hand with my phone, and he couldn't even be bothered to look my way half the time.

me: pose on this bridge dramatically, bobby!
bobby: pass. going to eat some wet leaves instead.

Few of these turned out well, but I think they fit with the blog perfectly. This is my horse. He is an internet celebrity for not being able to pose. Ever.

one ear forward is progress

"snacks?"

watching horses in the paddock race around.

totally what i was going for, bobby.

at least he didn't wade in. 

super mad because i waved the reins at him to get him to pick his head up from the grass

"you parked me in head high snacks. what do you expect?"

surely if i crouch in the grass underneath you and
crinkle the bag you'll put your ears up. 

"hullo. are you having fun leaping around in these weeds?"

i don't even know how this one happened.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Death Cold Rides

I swear I've done things with my horse since our show last Sunday. Or at least I'm pretty sure I have. This death cold is really messing with my ability to function...or even just have normal brain activity. Last night my cat jumped onto the end of the bed and spent some time trying to get comfortable while I flailed my legs around convinced there was a ghost trying to walk up me until he finally got pissed and left the room. It took me way longer than it should have to register cat does not equal ghost.

That is my brain right now. It's slowly drowning in snot, and I may be responsible for the decimation of a small rain forest with the amount of tissues I've gone through.

But I love ponies, and we have had the best weather the past week so I have gotten out to the barn a few times.

is this the most adorable picture of bobby you've ever seen? yes it is.
photo by paul rehbock from the derby.
 
Last Wednesday was the first time back in the tack after the show. I was pretty apprehensive of what Bobby's leg was going to look like after much running and jumping despite all the preventative care I'd done for it. Fortunately, it felt cold and tight, and (knock on wood) he hasn't had so much of a bobble.

We did a quick flat ride in preparation for our lesson Friday which I almost didn't make thanks to car trouble and truck trouble that left me without a mode of transportation. Hubby stepped in to save the day though and dropped me off.

Another woman was added to our lesson (not sure if that's going to be a regular thing--I hope not) and there was a girl hacking around who wasn't all that clear on arena etiquette, plus BM and I, so things were a little hectic.
 
best friends.

Trainer worked around it by having me come in to lecture me quickly about what she wanted me to, and then afterwards lecturing me about what I was doing wrong. If I was really messing up while on the rail ("You've got very good control of his shoulders. What are you doing that for? I asked you to move his haunches over.") she would yell things at me.

It wasn't the best lesson for one-liners, but she did give me a lot to work on since we're missing this week's lesson thanks to resurfacing and new footing going on in the indoor. Oh, darn. Fresh indoor for the winter? That's just the worst.

My main takeaways were that Bobby is very tense and tight in his hips. That's hardly a surprise as his hind end conformation leaves pretty much everything to be desired, but it did give me a very definitive answer on why his canter often looks and feels so fucked up behind when dressaging. You can see it clearly in the video below where his hind legs just aren't really moving. My homework is to work on lots of shifting his haunches in and out (super hard, much stiffness), leg yielding, and shortening and lengthening at all three gaits to loosen up the booty.

She also wants me to start working on putting a real rein back on him. I got the thumbs up for having him move just off my seat and legs instead of pulling, but then I got yelled at for not getting him sharp enough to actually pick up his feet crisply. Dragging toes do not a good rein back make. Other things of note: if his head pops up the rein back is immediately over, and always ask for it knowing exactly how many steps back you want.

And finally, I have to stop letting him get away with dropping his poll and trying to duck behind the vertical. I'm really bad at being lazy about keeping his poll up. I find myself focusing way too much on maintaining tempo and worrying about my own position that Bobby's just like, "Imma take a break back here with my chinny chin chin tucked in." And I'm like, "Yeah, okay. Do whatever. Are you still bending around my leg on this circle? Are you still trotting at the same speed? Are my hands close enough together? Am I nagging with my heel? Am I staring at your head? Wait, where is your head? Nevermind, have we changed the rhythm?"

poll up, you sneaky bastard.


I tried to set my camera up on a standard to video the lesson, but that was a big old fail. Instead, I forced Hubby to take me back out Saturday and video for us.

 
now that is a screenshot of beauty. yikes.


Five minutes of unedited flat video? I can think of nothing better!

False. I can, but I don't currently have the mental capacity to cut it down to individual parts. The first three minutes are trotting both directions, the left lead canter follows that, a lap of counter canter around minute four, and a pretty flawless (and intentional--his right to left changes are boss. The left to right are horrifying.) flying change at 4:35-ish. I have separate video of right lead canter, a couple lengthenings, and some stretchy trot, but it sounds like too much effort to load those for probably only myself to watch them.

i find curling into the fetal position helps in all aspects of life.

I did a quick flat school in my jump saddle yesterday followed by a short trail ride to appreciate the 80* weather. Bobby was a little wild in the great outdoors. For Bobby that means he actually had his head and ears up, and might have looked off into the distance one or twice. He doesn't really do the whole spooky horse thing. 

I'm aiming to get out again tomorrow and Friday provided I don't accidentally sleep the entire day away. 

"no rush! i'll be here eating without you!"

Monday, October 5, 2015

GVRDC Jumper Derby

So it wasn't the show season I'd planned for at the beginning of the year when we still lived within driving distance of a horse trial every weekend, and my horse hadn't yet gotten injured right as the season got rolling in our new location, but yesterday we finally made it back to a show to wrap up the year and it was totally worth it.

As far as rides on Bobby leading up to the show, things really couldn't have gone better. I added his running martingale back on and switched out his egg butt for a slow twist dee since he can get a little exuberant in a show environment when jumps are present. All week long though, he was super rideable, listening to a little shoulder wiggle to slow down, and clearing the jumps with room to spare.

what hurricane? it was 60* and sunny all day.

My own show prep was marred on Saturday when I was loading up the trailer and connected my knee to the door frame of the dressing room with such force that I was pretty sure I'd broken something--like my will to live. One of the (many) things about being blind in one eye is your complete and utter lack of depth perception, and navigating small spaces is incredibly tricky for me especially since I'm a fucking klutz in general.

Fortunately (I guess), even when my knee cap blew up with edema, it was actually more comfortable bent at an angle and I had less pain sitting in my saddle than I did standing. Unfortunately, the morning of the show I managed to finally pick up Hubby's head cold and spent the early hours before heading out curled under blankets on the couch wishing for death--or at least the ability to sleep all day while not moving ever.

With that auspicious start to the day, we got to the barn to find my horse turned out despite the sign on his door asking for him to be left in. He was still cleaning up his breakfast hay so he hadn't taken the time to roll yet which was nice of him. I parked him at the ramp of the trailer while quickly wrapping his legs, and then shooed him on for the quick jaunt down to Geneseo.

I'd never done a jumper derby before, but I did a lot of youtube stalking of past derbies at this venue so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Apparently some derbies do dressage beforehand as well? This one was just the jumping, and I'd signed up for Open Novice as a warm up round, and Training Rider as the penultimate competition...which sounds lame, but I don't care. Training blocked no longer!

and even though it was warm, i was dying to finally wear my purple shirt for a show
so i sweated it out. worth it.

Novice

We arrived right as BN wrapped up and they had started switching the course for N. I was happy to see this round started with a cross country jump since I kept telling myself to treat this like a cross country schooling in an attempt not to freak myself out about stadium jumps. Yes, rails that flop harmlessly onto the ground freak me out more than any solid fence.

The course looked completely fair for the level--maybe even a little soft. The water was really deep, and there was a log in between trees in the shade off a sharp turn directly out of it that caused a lot of problems for people. The ditch was also huge, deep, and filled with water from the rain earlier in the week, and the ponies were not loving that.

Bobby warmed up really great. I brought him in off of long approaches because one of our main issues is keeping the same canter coming up to the jump instead of charging towards it. No problems there as he was listening to everything I told him.

look! getting ready for a turn without cranking my horse's head around with my own!

Then we got in the ring, I didn't get quite a good enough canter going, and I balanced him back a little too much heading into the first jump without putting enough leg on and he crawled over the roll top. I realized my mistake right away and quickly put my leg on when we landed. The second jump was fine, but he backed off to the third and when I dug my spurs in, he reverted to the up and down canter instead of just going forward. Mr Spanky got us over albeit awkwardly, and then Mr Spanky paid his butt a quick visit to try to get the cruising speed up.

mr spanky is about to say hello.

It didn't really work. He was still pretty up and down once he locked onto the jumps despite me really getting after him to go, and Mr Spanky worked pretty hard for the first part of the course. Once we got across the water, he was a little more forward, but we were still basically just loping along.

I trotted him to the ditch because it really was monstrous, and while Bobby has never even thought about stopping at a ditch, he has occasionally sauntered into them, so I wanted to make sure he really saw it. He jumped it with a peek as he went over, but no hesitation. Over the little roll top thing, and then I brought him back to the trot as we went downhill to the down bank.

Bobby came back to the trot....and then ambled into a walk, and then calmly halted at the lip of the bank before deciding he should >sigh< probably go down it >I guess< and stepping off. More aggressive riding was probably needed there, but downhill and down banks together are not a thing I love.

final jump

We jumped the final three fences without issue and finished with a clear round. We were so slow we ended up fifth, but at least we'd gotten a round in without issue, and I knew I had to really get his pace revved up for our go at Training.

Novice Helmet Cam


Sorry, there's minimal Carly input on this one. I was trying to keep a cap on the crazy. You get to see how much work Mr Spanky did though!

Training 

I walked the course with a group of girls from PA who were doing the same thing I was--Novice for warm up before our first go at Training which was nice because we all pointed out the specific spots we thought we were going to die. This T course was stout. It was definitely a big step up from what the N had been set as.
 
upgrading to a new camera next year. you know, to one that actually focuses.

We started with three stadium fences set on an S shape, then around to a massive fucking table, another stadium jump, a forward two stride between xc fences, and then up the bank this time. On the course map, the jump directly after the bank was described as "stacked rails". I figured that meant another stadium jump. No. It meant a maxed out skinny of stacked rails two strides after the bank.

I didn't expect the liverpool to give us any issues since it was set for a nice galloping stride, then a long stretch to the half coffin of palisade, one stride to the giant water ditch. You looped back around and came off a tight turn to another maxed out skinny with a downhill landing. This was the spot I picked for dying. The skinny was a roll top which is friendly enough, but the short approach, scary landing, and overall size made our entire group scamper past this jump really quickly.

when in doubt, hunch into a small ball.

Through the water which was super steep going into from this side, and then as we're walking the course, the designer brings the angled skinny vertical out of the water in even closer. She was like, "LOLZ, I can't wait to watch you guys jumps this one. It will be fun for me!"

LOLZ, no.

A quick right turn to a vertical, and then a sharp roll back to the final fence finished the course.


Walking the course, the stadium jumps surprisingly gave me no pause. I ended up not thinking the height looked bad at all. The xc jumps, on the other hand, looked about ten times bigger than anything we'd ever jumped at N. I give major props to anyone that rides a pony or small horse cross country. I don't think I'd have the balls to approach some of this stuff if I wasn't on the back of a really tall beastie.

Warm up went really well again. I gave Bobby a good gallop before slowing him down a bit to go over the vertical a couple times. He picked his tootsies up to his chin and gave me a great jump each time. I was full of confidence going in for our first "Training" (I'm not going to call us a real Training pair until we've completed our first HT.).

warm up cuteness.

I got a good canter established right off the bat, kept it coming to the first fence which was set at N height, aaaand Mr Rubby Rails knocked the pole out. Kick on to the second which was a maxed out oxer aaaand another rail. I felt like he was jumping well out of stride, but this horse and boots, man. He has always used them as an excuse to feel his way over fences, which is why--before his leg injury--I never jumped him in them.

We cleared the third fence without issue, and then I gunned him to the table which he was a little wide eyed to on approach. I stayed in the back seat worried about a dirty stop, but Bobby safely got us over without fuss. Another rail at the next vertical, and then I forgot where I was going for a second and lost a little momentum coming into the double of xc jumps where we instead fit in three. Whoops.
 
i swear these jumps looked enormous from the ground.

I tried bringing Bobby back to a more collected canter coming up to the bank because he likes to launch himself from afar up them, and with that huge skinny right after it, that wasn't going to fly. However, I think the slow twist did it's job a little too well or Bobby was a little too in tune and he trotted instead. No big deal, I kicked him the second we got up and sent up a Hail Mary as I told him we really did have to jump the skinny.

Bless his cross country loving heart, he scrambled over with no complaints and galloped off looking for the next one. The liverpool jumped perfectly, and then to the half coffin where three people in a row before me had run into problems--one of them falling off. Bobby popped over the palisade, gave the ditch a look, and then launched over it. But he never wavered and he had moved on immediately upon landing.

ain't nothing but a thing.

I almost blew my turn to the dreaded skinny roll top trying not to get decapitated by a tree branch, and our approach was crooked and a little under powered. I asked Bobby to go though and he popped over it from super close, and again landed on the hunt.

certified "oh shit" face.

Through the water, over the angled skinny vertical, another rail at the same vertical we'd had the last one at, and then I was a good rider for once and didn't pull my horse's head around in air while anticipating the roll back. I gave him a nice long approach to the final jump and he cleared it with no rubs.

Being the first rider to finish the course up to that point, we got a hearty round of applause, and Bobby had a good prance back to the gate because he knew everyone was acknowledging him being the bravest, best pony britches in the whole entire world.

bobby: pay no attention to j putting up the rail i knocked down. give me your applause, minions.
me: please just walk so we don't get yelled at for trotting through the in gate.
 
There were only three people including me in the Training Rider division. One pulled up halfway and the other fell (the ditch claimed many casualties at all levels all day), so we won by default despite all our rails. I'm proud of our blue ribbon anyway. We finished a Training course, it felt totally doable thanks to my overly willing partner, and WE FINISHED A TRAINING COURSE.

"i won these. they are mine. give them to me."
 
Training Helmet Cam

 
The crazy came out in this one! Nothing makes me feel better than yelling words of encouragement to my horse in front of dozens of people like I should be committed.

Bobby got a gram of bute as a preventative measure when we got home, and his leg stayed wrapped, so fingers crossed that nothing pops up in the next few days. I'm just happy we were able to rebound at all after almost writing off this year. Thank you, Bobby Magee.
 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

September Review, October Goals

September Review:


1. Take two lessons, or... I took a lesson once a week all month! I'm so happy the trainer BM recommended and brought in turned out to be the perfect fit for both my learning style and Bobby's somewhat volatile brain. Lessons will continue, although I will be missing this Friday's due to some scheduling conflicts.


2. Take one lesson and send in a show entry. See lessons above, and I sent in a show entry as well.


3. Jump a full course. Yes and no? I strung some jumps together, but this barn's indoor is not very well equipped for a lot of jumps being out unless you set them right on the rail which makes its narrowness even worse. Bobby's not a fan of the outdoor's footing so we don't do much out there ever, and there isn't a lot of jump stuff out there anyway.


4. Up the work load and expectations for Bobby. This one's kind of tricky because a lot of the stuff I'm making him worker harder at are things he already knows. However, due to all the fitness he lost while being broken, we're having to...not relearn them, but rebuild the muscle to do them at all. That makes sense, right? It makes sense in my head. Anyway, he's for sure gotten much stronger.

freshly clipped with a patchy bald butt. klassy.

October Goals:

1. Work on lengthening and shortening the canter in both saddles on both leads. I had the best flat ride the other day where I was able to really adjust Bobby's canter to ten different canters and it was amazing. It was also in my dressage saddle and only on the left lead. I know the key to better jumping is getting that awesome canter, so I need to get my body to function properly in my jump saddle. I also need to up the ante on that bastard right lead.

2. Maintain contact and connection during all transitions. This means no throwing of the head in the air when I shorten my reins from free walk to anything besides free walk, Bobby. Going to ask for help with this in my next lesson.

3. More fitness work. More conditioning rides for Bobby, more no stirrup and two point work for me.

4. Finish our show season on a positive note. Doesn't matter if that means we come home with zero ribbons from this last show, or pull up halfway, or whatever. I just want this to be a good experience so I don't feel like I ended the season on a complete shit note.