Thursday, July 28, 2016

Milestones

No not that sort of Milestone! Bobby had two days off to recover from his weekend of being a mostly well behaved show pony, and then we jumped back into work Wednesday.

And when I say "work" what I mean is I let him have a long stretchy warm up, and then we jumped maybe six times total.

hanging out with chance while waiting out a storm.

Now that recognized dressage season in my realm of distance-willing-to-drive is over, I'm putting all my focus on jumping. There's one last baby schooling hunter show around the corner at the end of August that I'm aiming for with the goal to make it around the 2' division--you know, like the whole damn course this time. Training level eventing last year, baby hunters this year. Whomp whomp.

There were two verticals set on each diagonal when I went into the ring and I immediately bumped them up three holes so they sat at a whopping 2'6". After warm up, BM put two 2' jumps on each long side and away we went.

I had to circle the first time because Bobby was all la-di-dah in dressage canter land and figured I was about to run him into the jump so he broke to the trot, and there was no way I had my shit together enough to actually leg him on over it. BM scolded me for it anyway and the whole time kept telling me, "Nothing is going to happen. Noooottthhhhhinnngggg."

Obviously nothing happened.

Bobby hopped over the first jump like it was a ground pole (which 2'6" basically is when you're as giant as him. Plus, you know, he's pretty well schooled at almost a foot higher.) and then came around to the second one and threw in a chip because I was sitting in the fetal position with no leg and pretty much just kind of, sort of pointed him in the direction of the jump. To which BM sagely pointed out, "That was ugly, but nothing happened."

Phew, on to the 2' outside line jumps!

kittens are so bad.

We were fine off the shorter approach from the left, but with a loooong (hunter course type) approach from the right I couldn't find a spot from the canter to save my life. From the trot it was fine though, so if I have to trot in to my first fence at the show every time I will. Because schooling show. And I'm a chicken.

Once Bobby was in jumping mode, he brought his head and neck up to look for fences and we got back into a jumping canter which made the 2'6" jumps come up easier. We did those a couple times more apiece and then called it quits.

Those were my first 2'6" jumps that I did more than one time since January. Rebuilding confidence is slow, kids. And it sucks.

This morning I went into the ring and saw one of the verticals had been changed to an oxer. Today's mission: jump an oxer.

As long as I focused on the task at hand, I didn't get nervous about the giant, looming oxer in the room. Good flatting, that's okay to think about. Approaching the oxer? Not okay.

We got our jumping canter right off the bat so I came around to the vertical first. Leg on, sit back, eyes up, easy peasy.

On to the oxer. I was probably hyperventilating coming up to it, but I made myself repeat the process, changing my leaning back to leaning so far back I probably looked like I was dropping off a 6' bank. But I kept my leg on, and when I saw what I thought was a long-ish but perfectly acceptable spot I told Bobby to take it. He happily obliged and I was able to follow him over the super enormous teeny tiny jump easily.

And then I quit right there because that was my first 2'6" oxer since our crash and I was shaking like a leaf, but so fucking proud of myself.

"you know i school 3'+ when you're not on me, right?
what is the big deal, lady?"

Hubby and I are on "vacation" for too many days with his family, so I told barn friend W to play with him while I was gone if she wanted. I know she's at least going to take a jumping lesson on him which I cannot wait to hear about!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

WNYDA Summer Fest II

Since I only did three recognized dressage shows this year (counting this past weekend), I knew the chances of me getting both my Second scores towards my Bronze were slim, but I was really hoping we'd be able to eek out another 60% in 2-2 again.

My first test was mid-morning and my second was mid-afternoon so we left a couple hours earlier Sunday than we had the day before. I got to the barn to get Bobby ready and he was already looking tired. It was unfortunately quite a bit hotter and more humid this day with none of the breeze from Saturday, and all that hit at the same time for poor old Robert.


I let Bobby have a nice long stretch down at the trot for warm up, not asking him to do much more than stay on the bit and go forward. He felt a little stiff and sluggish, but it was hot and he'd missed turnout the day before so nothing unexpected. In hindsight though, I should have concentrated on getting every last ounce of him for this test knowing it was the one we had a better chance of getting our needed score for. Oh, well. I'm saving all this information up for next year!

2-2

As I was circling the ring to go in, my reins were slipping through my fingers like my hands were wide open. I'd reached down to pet Bobby's neck just before the test before mine finished and I'd inadvertently coated my gloves in a fresh application of fly spray. I stopped Bobby for a second and started to wipe them on my breeches before realizing that wasn't the best idea and scrubbed them on my saddle pad instead.

i like that hubby captured the exact moment i was like, fuuuuccckkkk.

It didn't really work all that well and I felt like I was constantly shortening my reins the whole test though watching it back it doesn't seem that bad.


Bobby was a sleepy, sleepy pony for the whole test. I was really getting after him to go more forward but all that seemed to translate to was him not looking completely comatose. The judge Sunday was a lot more willing to use all the numbers while scoring, and I think she was very fair. She wasn't going to give points away, but she wasn't going to kill you on things either. Most of her comments were along the lines of needing more energy and engagement which were obviously spot-on for this test.

Still mostly 6s and 6.5s which is honestly about what Bobby is at shows (You're a real 7.5 at home Bobby, don't worry.) with a couple of 5.5s for things like the travers that she wanted to see more bend in both ways and the first medium trot.

We did get a 4 for the first medium canter because Bobby double pumped behind once, but let's be real--he didn't lose his shit and go sideways so #winning. He did throw down an 8 final halt.

Final comments were that he needs to be more supple in the lateral work, and she wanted to see more elasticity off the ground, but "some promising moments". Sadly it was too quiet of a test to sneak into the sixties and instead we got a 58.97%--so close! It was good enough for second place, and when I walked back to the trailer with my giant red ribbon Hubby was like, "Oh, wow! How many were in your class? Two?" Harhar, thanks Hubby. There were six, thank you very much!

fuck yeah being all uphill and thrusting and stuff.

I dug good old Mr Tappy out of my dressing room for 2-3 warm up. We were going to be forward, and we were going to get that second score, damn it! Then I walked into the warm up and Bobby was heavy as shit and uninterested in anything. Tappy tappy from Mr Tappy? Yeah, whatever. At that point I resigned myself to no second score and instead went to work trying to look remotely acceptable.

Lots of transitions and forcing Bobby to just go forward finally got him looking alive, and we moved to the indoor to finish of warming up. I knew I'd want to stop moving just long enough to throw my coat on and head directly into the ring so Bobby wouldn't pass out on me, and that's exactly what I did. I handed Mr Tappy over to Hubby (not wanting Bobby to realize how offensive he usually finds it mid-test) while I stuffed my sticky arms into my jacket, took a swig of water, and marched in.

2-3


Losing Mr Tappy lost us all forward momentum. I don't know that I should have kept it because I can see Bobby suddenly losing his shit and not getting it back just because I was holding it, but it did really help in warm up. I think what happened was I nailed the best riding in the last five minutes of warm up, and those five minutes should have been our test instead. He was just done by the time we got into the ring.


We got a 6 for the first movement because he drifted moving off from the halt, and then three 5s and 5.5s in a row for a sorry medium and shoulder-in. The rest of the test was a mix of 6s and 5.5s because of what the fuck he's doing with his mouth. You notice it right away as he comes around the corner from the first medium, and it never really lets up.

hello there, mr tongue

Last week he got his tongue over the bit every day for three rides in a row. I don't know why or how he suddenly figured out that was a thing, but he chose to whip it out in our final test as well. He's never, ever done it before, and it was so bad the judge actually called me over to comment on it after our test saying she felt bad for me that the test kind of fell apart after the walk because that's when it was the worst, but that I did a good job managing him through it.

He wandered around in the first medium canter before breaking at the end of the long side because such drama, so horse. "Comes off aides, loses forward. Unclear transition." I gave him a scratch and carried on. He was fine for the serpentine because Bobbys love counter canter, but then lost it again in the simple change. I honestly wasn't even sure I was going to get him back for that one, but I finally convinced him to canter once we hit the rail. "Insecure, takes too long." I think that was the last super noticeable meltdown, and we even got thrown a 7 for our trot transition.

She ended with this snort-worthy comment:


And a final score of 56.22% and fourth place which sadly was plenty fair. Hey, at least I still beat people?

posing with ribbons is bobby's fave thing ever.

Overall I'm actually pretty happy with how the weekend went. It might have been more of a learning experience than a competitive experience, but for our first year doing fancy dressage shows I think it gave me a lot of good ideas on how to manage my rides, and what I'm going to need to do to get the best out of my horse next year.

Plus giant ribbons. Always a good thing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

WNYDA Summer Fest I

If you guys are friends with me on facebook or follow me on Instagram, you probably already know most of what went down this weekend. There were awesome highs, some silly lows, a few giggle worthy comments from a judge, and a whole lot of blood--all of which ended with me passed out on my living room floor at 7:30 Sunday night because exhausted.

completely oblivious to any injury.
typical cow dog.

The fun started Friday evening when we were at the lake playing with the puppies. Mags is super dominant over Pig when they're playing, and Pig doesn't give a shit about anything as long as the ball/stick/toy just keeps getting thrown. We've tried yelling, spanking, and a shock collar with Mags, but she doesn't connect getting punished with biting her sister...or really anything. Before this, she's taken a couple of chunks out of Pig's ears which is bad obviously, but in the grand scheme of injuries pretty harmless.

Friday she grabbed Pig by the throat as she went running by, and all I saw as they hit the water was a cloud of blood. I quickly got Pig out and tried to find where she was bleeding from, but she had a curtain of blood streaming down her face and chest and I couldn't see anything. Covered in blood, we hoofed it back to the car where I stuffed half a box of Kleenex under her bandanna and tied it off on top of her head before jetting off to the emergency vet.

I finished off the Kleenex doing "bandage changes" on the way there and had pretty much gotten the bleeding to stop, but I wanted them to look at it anyway. Holy fuck, is the waiting room of an emergency clinic awful and depressing. Three hours and much sympathy crying later, we were handed our hound back with a week's worth of antibiotics, a cone, and an invitation to come back any time because "She was the best patient we've had all week!" Yeah, well, when she's used to being injured in some way or another pretty much every day of her life because she's the most accident prone creature I've ever met, she's used to vet treatment. Needless to say, no more joint ball time with those two.

freed from the cone on sunday because we were
tired of getting bashed around by it.

Thank fuck for later ride times Saturday! I was able to get an almost normal amount of sleep while still having enough time to get the last of my stuff packed up in the morning. It was an easy drive down to the show, I grabbed my packet and saw that they'd changed my first ride time to a little later, and we set up our canopy and settled in.

We didn't get that crazy heat up here that so many of you got, and while it was still plenty hot, there was a strong wind blowing all day that made it bearable. I still planned on keeping my warm up short so I wouldn't tire Bobby out, and I got on with about half an hour until my first test. The indoor next to the show rings was packed, so I headed into the outdoor on the other side of the barn. As I went in the gate, I thought I could hear my number being called over the loudspeaker, but the wind was blowing so hard and I was far enough away from the announcer's booth that it was hard to tell. Deciding it was better to be safe than sorry, I walked over to the rings to check.


The ring steward hurried over and told me I was due in the ring right now. I was like, "Whaaa? But they changed my time to later. It's printed on my packet!" So she called the TD over just as they judge made the call to eliminate me for not showing up on time. Then for real I was like, "WHAAAA?!" I've never been late to the ring in my life, and I was so glad to have such an awesome ring steward and group of volunteers that rallied around me and worked their magic on the TD who at first told me, "Oh, well. Judge called it, too bad so sad."

But one of the girl's ran down to my trailer and grabbed my packet, and then she and the TD went in to talk to the organizer and secretary while I stuffed Bobby into the indoor to carry on warming up since I had my 2-3 test coming up before too long at that point anyway.


Fortunately after all that the TD went over to the judge and explained what had happened, and the judge allowed me to ride at the end of the class. Turns out they had printed the new time on my test as well, but the judge was going off the printed schedule they'd given her. Much stress, holy cow.

2-2

We finally made it in the ring! This judge was very much a 6 judge--she was going to give you one no matter what unless you really fucked something up or really impressed her. We started off accordingly with sixes down the board until we got a 7 for the first TOH. Hallelujah, finally something resembling what we've been working on at home! Of course Bobby got stuck in the second one, but still okay enough to get the sixes rolling again.

Our canter transition also snagged a 7, and then our boring canter work was again all sixes until the second simple change that also got a 7. Another six for our lackluster final medium trot, and then a generous 7 for a wiggly halt.


Her overall comment was basically "MOAR COLLECTION" which I one thousand percent agree with. He looks okay, but he looks okay in a First Level sense. Shows are still a little bit frustrating to me because I know how much better he goes at home, and that he's capable of upping the ante so much more. He just gets tense at shows, and I go into management mode where I work with whatever he'll give me instead of getting after him to replicate the work at home for fear of him losing his shit. I think that's something I have to work on more than him. He's perfectly happy coasting along barely working.

Thanks to the ride time change, I only had two tests between 2-2 and 2-3, so I scampered back into the indoor to try and wake him up a little before heading right back out again.

2-3

Yeahhh, that didn't really work.


I had to boot him just to get him to trot out of the first halt. He slept through the first medium and we got a 5, and since there was no transition because he didn't really do a medium we got a 5 for that as well. He was slightly more alive for the second one, so that sent us off on a 6 jag for awhile before a 5 for a shitty travers. He ran a little bit in the rein back, but got another 7 for the first TOH and a 6 for the second. He's doing them now which is good, but I wish he would not include a llama face while performing them.

From there, more 6s until I made a completely stupid rider error and didn't ask for the right lead in the first simple change. And then I didn't even bother checking until halfway around the ring! Total ditzy blonde moment, no excuses. Well worth the 4. We finished with a mix of 6s and 6.5s. Judge's comments were that he needs to be more expressive and collected at this level, but that he's balanced and obedient.

Yes and yes. In truth I know Bobby is never going to be an expressive horse--at least not in the way a judge is looking for if you know what I'm saying. He's more collected at home, and that's on me to make him work as hard at shows. I'll take the obedient, balanced, capable, and honest horse comments any day of the week. That's what I go into a show hoping to get out of Bobby, nothing else. We're not ever going to beat fancy warmbloods that are coasting through Second at six years old. I'm cool with that.

almost as fancy as it gets right now, though the fuck is going on with my position idk.

I got Bobby all cooled down and plopped a soupy bucket of soaked hay cubes in front of him for a job well done and some extra hydration before going up to the office to check my scores. For 2-2 we were third with a 61.15%--our first score at Second towards our Bronze! We just missed another 60% (which meant nothing except yay 60%) at 2-3 with a 59.76%. Maybe if someone was paying attention to their fucking canter leads...

finally got some proper fancy ribbons you dressage queens are always getting!
bobby was obviously super impressed. or possibly just wondering wtf we were doing.

With that, we loaded the pony up for the hour and a half drive back home before going back the next day to do it all over again.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Blog Hop: Fuck Yeah!

This blog hop is brought to you by I Will Jump Sweet Jumps, and I think it's exactly what a few of us need right now--myself most definitely included!

Jumping is without a doubt my biggest hang up in my confidence right now (although there are days when my Second level horse can't make a left hand turn to save his life and we almost careen headlong into the wall that make me feel a little unsure of my chosen hobby), so I want to share a few pictures that remind me that once upon a time I jumped big things without fear.

And damn it, I will do it again!

One day. You know, when they stop being scary.

fave bobby jumping picture. clearing almost 5' like it was nothing.

in slo-mo because fuck yeah.

prelim skinny like a mother fucking boss. (photo by paul rehbock)
blasting through our first training locked and loaded
what stadium issues, bitches? (photo by niamh o'connell)
and one of red who never scared me,
even when he took off from a full stride out to maxed out tables

Fuck yeah, I'm a baller! Maybe a baller on hiatus, but those days will come again.

Monday, July 18, 2016

That don't make no sense

Much to BM's frustration and confusion, I have the world's silliest jumping phobia. I guess the phobia of jumping isn't in itself a strange thing as I did have a crash that left me with a rather spectacular brain injury and therefore legitimately gives me a reason to fear striped poles. The silliness comes in being afraid of an 18" vertical in the arena and not thinking twice about coming up to a solid 3' brush log out in an open field.

Dudes, cross country is fine by me. I'll take that shit all day long. But anything bigger than cross rails in the ring?

NO.

No no no no no no no no no no.


Hubby and I drove down to PA to pick up Chance yesterday (who was perfect and settled in like a pro, and everyone is already completely in love with him) so I missed our barn's second hunter pace of the year. Fortunately any rain we might hopefully be getting today held off this morning, and I was able to take full advantage of a freshly mowed and trimmed front field with decorations still on all the jumps.

The deer flies were horrible on top of the insane humidity so I kept Bobby's warm up super short. Lots of trot-halt-trot transitions to get him up off his forehand and listening instead of tripping over his legs as he tried to ditch the flies. Then off to a brisk canter for a couple laps each way before moving right along to the jumps.

I didn't think twice about jumping anything out there. I didn't pick, I didn't hesitate to add leg, and I made sure we were cruising right along the whole time. Nothing gave me any pause, and I was able to ride....well, like a fucking jump rider.

Bobby was accordingly a rock star and took pretty much everything right out of stride. If we didn't get a perfect distance, I simply circled back around until we did. Bending lines, roll backs, slicing and dicing, short approaches, long approaches, didn't matter. We jumped ALL the things LOTS of times!

Then I went to cool out in the outdoor to escape the bugs. There was a big X and a teeny tiny vertical left over from the pace.

That vertical scared the shit out of me.


I made Bobby jump the X first. Good canter, soft arms, let him cruise right up and over it without moving a muscle. The vertical I came back around to and stared down. And pulled. And didn't add leg. Bobby chipped in big time but went over anyway because it was literally no bigger than a speed bump.

What the fuuuuccckkkkk.

We nailed it the second time because I forced myself to stop fucking pulling, but even after a super fun cross country school I felt mentally a little beaten. What is the deal with stadium? Did I damage the "Think through this logically" part of my brain when I bashed it?

Either way it was a good mental play time for Bobby before we buckle down for the rest of the week before our last big show of the season. Four Second tests in two days. Can the dude cope? Fingers crossed!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Take a Chance

Wait until you see what I did there with the title. It's not just an Abba song anymore.

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in PA with my barn fam, hanging out, eating so much junk food, riding ponies, and watching a few of the barn girls ride in the annual fun show at the rodeo.

trail selfies are mandatory, even if your horse is about to walk off a cliff

First order of business was, of course, to browse the random selection of horse stuff at the horse.com/State Line Tack outlet store. I really need a new pair of show gloves and schooling tall boots, so obviously I came away with neither of those things. Instead I grabbed a pair of really nice side reins for $15 (because they seemed like something I should have, even if I never use them) and a pair of fly boots for $10 for the barn friend that's been letting me use her saddle as a little thank you.

After a pit stop for a burger and milkshake, Riding Bestie Sarah and I pulled into the barn and I was instantly offered a ride on Rio who was being a tool for his mom. I grabbed my helmet and jumped on, w/t/c with no issues besides a lack of forward.

It's moments like that where I can tell how much my time with BM pays off. She makes me step up and be a better rider on my own horse, but she also expects me to get on any horse she hands me and ride it just as well as she would. There's never any expectation that the horse is going to be naughty or not do what you want--just add lots of leg or use lots of seat if you need to and don't touch the mouth.

my favorite dutch hippo!

After I handed him back over, I went up to the barn to get on PA BM's horse Chance. She just got him back after he'd been sitting in a field babysitting another horse for five years. He's a Quarter Horse in his upper teens with an ass the size of a dump truck and a back so wide that even at only 15hh he took up my super long legs like a way bigger horse. As could only be expected of PA BM's horse, he has perfect manners and was a complete gentleman under saddle.

We played around at w/t/c for a bit, but it was so hot and buggy that we eventually just parked it in the ring until Sarah was done schooling Memphis. We cooled out on trail, and I fell totally in love with Chance. Not only is he as sweet as can be, but he's like an ATV. Just point him where you want to go, and he'll go at whatever speed you want with no questions asked.

"play in this water? okay!"

I tucked him back in his stall after cookies, and Sarah and I parted ways for a couple hours before the rodeo started. I went and took a shower and a nap while Sarah did some bat shit crazy workout because there's something wrong with her. Chick needs exercise intervention or something.

most flattering photo while mocking the dutch hippo

The rodeo took forever this year to get through, and I'm so glad I wasn't riding in it. I left after our juniors--the first in the line-up--did their barrel runs and it was already past 10pm. No fucking thank you!

We went back out on the trails for our morning ride, going all the way down to the creek which involved much bush whacking and doubling back as we tried to find our way to the road. Our old path from years ago was so overgrown there was no way to get through it so instead we had to weave through the woods. Eventually we made it though and Chance strolled right into the creek with a little nudge. After some coaxing even the Hippo was brave enough to join us.

"oh noes, it is touching my feeties!"
"can i sit in your lap to stay safe?!"

Memphis was hilarious, dipping his nose in the water and then spooking at the water dripping off of him as it hit down and sent out ripples. Maybe not the smartest of horses, but for sure the cutest! Chance was content to wander where I asked, unconcerned with Memphis's snorting and splashing.

silliest riding fly mask ever

I headed home not long after we were done riding, and when I got back I sat down and got to work. PA BM needed to rehome Chance because she's paying for her son's college and can't afford to keep him now that he's not living for free as a babysitter. This dude is the best and if I had enough money to keep two I would have taken him for myself in a heart beat. Instead I did the next best thing--convinced BM to take him!

I'd texted her the night before and gave her the basics, and she wanted to know if he'd be capable of doing cross rail courses with the lesson kids. He'd never jumped before so PA BM and I set up a little vertical in the indoor, stuck him on the longe, and sent him over.

yep, he'll jump.

He was completely willing to canter over it a few times, so I tacked him up english for a a quick video to send to BM. A little w/t/c without issues, and then we trotted over two Xs a few times. He never hesitated and just trotted right on over them like they weren't even there. We put them up to little verticals to see if we could actually get a jumping effort out of him.


Not so much, but again--he never even thought about stopping or running out. He was just, "Okay! I've never done this before, but you're asking me to do it so I will! No problem!" Dudes, I got on a horse who's had five years off, a handful of rides since then, never seen a jump before in his life, and took him right over a 2'3" without a second thought. That's how perfect he is. Hubby suggested giving Bobby to BM and taking Chance instead when he heard that, but sadly I don't think old Chancey Poo is going to be rocking Third level or Training eventing....ever.

I do, however, think he is going to make the absolute perfect beginner lesson horse and BM agreed! So this weekend Hubby and I are driving back down to PA to pick him up and bring him up to NY. I told BM I called dibs on being able to trail ride him whenever I wanted because he's such a fun dude.

And that is the story of my impromptu trip south and how I came back with a horse!

Monday, July 11, 2016

CNYDCTA Dressage Show

I had a nice, solid block of shows for the first half of the show season. Of course eventually I was like, "Fuck ALL these shows!", but even before that I didn't have anything concrete set for the second half. And by concrete I mean I hadn't so much as glanced at the calendar past June. A local GMO's show popped up on my facebook feed a couple weeks ago though, and since it fit in nicely with my next rated shows I finally got around to entering and was pretty close, I went ahead and signed up.

I didn't have to ride until three and four in the afternoon, so I spent my morning hanging out at a hunter show around the corner with my barn. The girl doing the o/f division was starting to get nervous before going in, and even though I was standing there in shorts with no horse, I was starting to freak out, too. Yeahhhh, the jumping at home may be getting better, but I'm still a long ways off from getting back to it at shows.

dressage isn't scary! just very boring when you're an event horse.

We got to the show with plenty of time to spare, so we spent awhile wandering around drooling over the facility. Bobby, unfortunately, immediately noticed the jumping going on behind him from the CT divisions simultaneously being run. He usually stands at the trailer like a rock and munches his hay causing no fuss, but the whole time he was waiting before getting tacked up he was pawing and whinnying and kept craning his head around to watch jumping. Sad story, Bobby.

Once I got on, he marched right off probably with thoughts of getting to do fun things for once, but almost immediately he spooked at the parking sign. And then he spooked at the asphalt driveway we had to cross turning into tan concrete in front of the indoor we were heading to....and then also at having to step up to walk into the arena.

I was obviously pleasantly surprised when he felt pretty soft and relaxed as we walked around, and even when we first started trotting.

this place was SO PRETTY

I started working on getting him put together after he'd had some time to stretch out. He was still okay until I asked for a little shoulder-in. That was not okay. Maybe a little medium trot? Definitely not okay. Not wanting to get him worked up over things he knows how to do--he was either going to do them in the ring or he wasn't--I opted to go for a little canter instead. That was okay with Bobby, and I spent my time cautiously telling him to lift his poll and lengthen his neck. Maybe not the best warm up, but knowing Bobby was having a Tense Horse Day meant my rides were going to be about managing him instead of pushing for a really good test.

"I'M NOT TENSE. I'M NEVER TENSE. WHERE ARE THE JUMPS?!"

2-2

Since Hubby was able to come along to this show, I finally have video!


We had good moments, and we had moments where his tension really killed the movement. Especially in the lateral work, I had to poke, poke, kick him with my spurs to keep him from breaking to the walk, and the medium gates are almost not there. His turn on the haunches continues to not be there during tests. BM and I have been drilling them at home, but he has moments where he anticipates and either cops out and does a turn on the forehand instead, or just spins around really fast. We got the spinning around turns this time, though at least they weren't fast--more like stuck.

Our judge was very much scoring for a schooling show. She gave us 6.5s and 7s down the board except for a couple fives where Bobby's tension just completely killed what we were trying to do. The 63+% we got wouldn't have been anywhere close to that at a recognized show, but again--schooling shows are for positive experiences. Not for being a colossal, unprofessional bitch (not that I have any experience with those types).

judge: maybe try not being so tense, horse.
bobby: you know nothing.

She came out and gave every rider feedback after their test which is always a nice perk when they have the time to do that. She didn't tell me anything ground breaking: lose the tension and the stride will open up more in the medium gaits, and work on getting him more uphill.

judge: maybe try not bracing your back next time, horse.
bobby: when are we doing the jumping?

I took Bobby back to the trailer and pulled his bridle to let him grab a quick snack and drink of water before our second test. Sadly there was still jumping going on behind us, and sadly Bobby still did not get to go for a frolic. Whomp whomp. Worst horse mom ever.

We went back into the indoor where I focused on getting Bobby moving more forward and letting him have another stretch in hopes of it loosening up his back a little bit.

those neck muscles are coming!

The trot was really good, but the canter work immediately fell into a hot, tense mess. I didn't touch on anything else and worked only on trying to get him to relax. Spoiler alert: didn't work.

cloudy days are the best days to show on.

2-3



Right off the bat, while we were going a bit more forward, Bobby was locked the fuck up. His lateral work was spastic, and I was super happy to get it over with without any monstrous meltdowns. The halt was a little wiggly for my liking as I know we can do a lot better, but the rein back itself was obedient enough, and we're consistently scoring a 7 on the movement every time out (which makes me selfishly giggle a little bit because Bobby doesn't do it well for BM).

The walk work in both tests I felt was good especially for Bobby. The free walk still isn't really up to par, but there was no shuffling or jigging so I was proud of that.

The canter work started off super exciting (start at 4:30 in the video). The second I put my leg on to ask for it, I knew I was in trouble. Bobby was so tight in his back that it starts off almost four beat. I knew I wasn't going to be able to go for a real medium so I crossed my fingers and hoped he at least maintained his lead.

Instead Bobby anticipated me asking him something, anything and slammed on the brakes. I gave his neck a quick scratch and asked him to go forward, but that upset him greatly as well and he went running backwards instead right into the chains. Naturally that was very traumatizing (whatever, Bobby). At a rated show I'm sure I would have been rung out at that point, but yay schooling shows! Some soothing petties and not getting at all upset myself pretty quickly got the idiot back on target and we were able to pick the canter back up before the end of the ring. See? He's growing up so much!

so innocent looking.

Part of me was like, "Salvage this test! Make the rest count!" while the other half was like, "LOL, ohhhh, Bobby. Why haven't I sold you to the Amish yet?"

Bobby can counter canter all the live long day though, so the rest of the test actually wasn't too awful. My "I don't really give a shit" side won out, and I didn't have him set up the best for the second serpentine which caused him to almost give me a change at the first loop, but I caught it quickly enough that he only lost the rhythm for a second.

Once we came back to the trot, he dove onto his forehand and started curling because OMG LIFE, but we did finish. The walk and counter canter scores helped make up for the blunder of flailing through the chains, and we miraculously pulled out a 61+%. Hell yeah, schooling shows. Now I remember why you're so fun.

ugh, that ribbon. it makes my life whole.

There were lots of Second riders at this show, so no automatic blues just for showing up, but LOOK AT THAT THING. They ran out of regular fifth place ribbons, and the secretary was like, "Do you mind if I give you one of these instead?" Giant pink neon? GIVE IT TO ME. Biggest win of the day, I won't lie.

Biggest loss of the day was the water pump on my truck. It blew the fuck up on our way home, but fortunately we were close enough to nurse it to Hubby's work and swap it out for a different truck to get Bobby home.

"are there jumps at this show, too?"

Bobby didn't care. Bobby is used to shenanigans like being pulled over on the side of the road with whizzing traffic for an hour or two. Damn. I really am the worst horse mom ever.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Showing Shmowing.

I've been mulling over this idea for a blog post for awhile, but Brit's post finally got me to sit down and write my feelings about showing.

Bobby got hurt not too long after we moved up to New York last year, so our show season was crammed into one month before being sidelined by lay up and recovery, and then one last show tacked on in October. We'd finished with a successful faux Training move-up, and I was ready to get down to the grind over the winter of working on everything I needed to come out swinging at that level in June.

Then I hurt my brain in January, and my confidence in myself and my horse's confidence in any and all things to do with me went right down the drain.

So I regrouped. I dropped the eventing plans for the year because stadium jumps were are (but getting better every day!) too scary. Instead I decided to go the dressage route for showing. While I'm under no delusions my horse is jaw droppingly fancy, Bobby's not a terrible mover, and he's well schooled on the flat. I'm a goal driven rider, and shows are important to me to judge our progress and get feedback on how we're doing, so it seemed like a good compromise.


Winter gives you a lot of time to sit around and dream up magical show schedules. What else is there to do? Freeze your fucking lady balls off and peruse omnibuses. That is a horse girl's winter. I had a loooong list of shows planned out for the first half of my year, and a year-long goal to actually accomplish fancy shit and make another year of not hitting the Training goal worth it.

Once show season actually got here though, all the changes hit me at once. Being in a new state meant I knew none of the venues. I didn't really know how far they were, how easy or hard they were to drive to, what the venue was like, what the people were like, who I was going to be competing against, etc etc.

I definitely had my comfort zone and all the places that fit in it in PA. I never had to drive more than three hours to get to anywhere for a show, and I had my pick of where I wanted to go in that window almost every weekend. Most shows were one day and held on a Sunday so that I had Hubby to come down with me to take pictures and hang out. If I did hit a Saturday show, chances are that someone else from my barn was going too. That has apparently become what I expect out of showing, and anything else...just fucking sucks.


A lot of these dressage shows are on Saturdays, or if they're multi-day shows they start as early as Thursday or Friday. That rules Hubby out as he works six days a week from sun up to sun down during March-June (and sometimes into July). It's not that I can't show by myself because I've done it before and I know I'll do it again, but I like Hubby. I like hanging out with the guy, especially since I rarely get to see him in the spring. Horse shows are a thing we do together, and it's not the same doing one without him.

I also don't want to bother with a drive over three hours still. I can't afford overnight stabling for my horse or myself, so I have to haul in day-of. That means if I hit ride times of seven in the morning and one in the afternoon, that's at least a two a.m. wake up call for anything three hours away, and a long fucking day to make that drive home again.

Not worth it to me.


Really, that's what it all comes down to. The big goals and big accomplishments that come from attending big shows that are over multiple days and farther away than I want to travel just aren't worth it to me. I don't care enough to make that push out of my comfort level.

I want showing to be fun and relaxing, and I don't like to show by myself. A few less ribbons and a few more dollars saved never killed anyone.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Compromises

Bobby and I have been grinding, dudes. 

Putting our heads down and just working on nailing that shit left and right, yo. 

Is it nine hundred fucking degrees outside? Fuck yeah it is. Are we still surging forward in a forty year old jump saddle a generous barn friend has let us use at will? Fuck yeah we are!

bobby says, "can we please not do any of those things? they make me les tired."

Between the heat, the saddle situation, and a slightly worrisome lack of level specific dressage work recently, Bobby and I have been tip-toeing more than surging forward as I attempt to keep his crazy down and he occasionally tries to do what I'm asking the first time instead of activating the crazy on his own. And really, it's been working great! It's all about the compromises, so here are some of the things we've been going through.

Situation: Five stride line. In the outdoor. In a new saddle. Haven't jumped in weeks.

entering the line. oh lordy.

What went down: I got Bobby into a nice, round, collected canter that's currently my comfort zone but is much too slow for any real jumping. Fortunately, while I'd raised the jumps, I only had them set to 2' (THEY LOOKED BIGGER. Like maybe 2'3".) which Bobby can walk over from a stand still so it was more a matter of getting a better canter for a better distance than getting a better canter to make it over. 

But I mean obviously a better canter was needed all around.

pulling on the left rein is kind of our thing.
leaning is an added bonus.

I kept looping around and around from the single on one long side around to the first jump of the line on the other long side until I finally got the right pace, got myself softening my arms and hands on approach, and just letting things flow. Then we put it all together and carried on to the second fence in the line.

Compromise: We got a good distance into the first fence and on landing Bobby scooted a bit right as we'd been exiting that way promptly to avoid locking on to the second jump. I closed my outside leg and told him to go forth instead. He saw the jump and predictably got SUPER EXCITED. 

But I was like, no. No racing. I sank deeper into the saddle, sat up, and left everything else unchanged. Bobby was like, "Hmmmmm.....you're saying whoa, but you're also still letting me canter forward. Perhaps....I can....just check myself?"

AND THEN HE DID AND WE HIT THAT SHIT LIKE FUCKING PROS.

Who won this one?:  Both of us did. Yeah, yeah, it was only 2', but that was the first line I've jumped that was more than two strides since we crashed in January. And it was perfect, and we nailed the distances, and I didn't have to trot anything. WINNING, BITCHES. 

and also we jumped this jump which is maybe 2'6".
it was off a long approach but i didn't pull because SO BRAVE.

Situation: Front feet need to be trimmed. It is ten million five thousand four hundred bajillion degrees out with humidity. I don't want to sweat through my breeches and tank top like a nine hundred pound man asked to run a marathon before I even get on to ride.

What I did: Pouted. Wandered around in circles directing barn children. Drank lots of water.

Compromise: Just trim the fucking feet.

Who won this round?: The hell fire that is the weather, okay? Fucking Satan won this round. #swampass

i can't do dressage things in a jump saddle.
i can scrunch up my shoulders in one though!

Situation: Lock Jaw Magee.

What do?: I pulled out Bobby's least favorite bit ever--the gold half moon loose ring HS. The plan was that he would hate this bit so much that he'd revert back to gnashing his teeth and gaping his mouth in it, therefore opening his jaw and seeing that that is a thing. Remember how that's a thing, Bobby?!

Compromise: Somehow bit and Bobby met in the middle and he worked his jaw around and chewed a little. So Mr HS will stay in there for now as Bobby suctions his mouth and figures out what a soft jaw is like again. 

Winner: ME.

trying in vain to make my crazy right wrist stay straight in times of stress.
or at all times, let's not lie.

Situation: Lazy, hot, barn friend actually wants to ride in her own saddle. Bareback dressage school!

Oh for fuck's sake: Bobby was good at the walk and trot. We had to drop down to the walk a couple times to reinstall a good travers and shoulder-in, but they carried over to the trot. Good turn on the haunches to finish, nice and light all around.

At the canter, it was too much. What was too much? LIFE.

There was much running sideways and throwing of the head while I soothingly repeated to him, "It's okay, Bobby. It's okayyyyyy." And then from across the ring A finally burst out laughing and yelled, "IT'S NOT OKAY. NOTHING IS OKAY." Welcome to being friends with Bobby. If you're not being run into by him, you're laughing at him.

Compromise: A solid boot to the ribs and a longer rein made everything sort of okay. OK enough that I stopped worrying if he would run sideways right out from underneath me. Probably my sweaty ass would have kept me glued on regardless.

Did someone win there?: Mm, I don't know. I would have liked to do some counter canter, but Bobby definitely got out of that one.

yay, more jumping!

Overall, I surprisingly feel like we're on track for this weekend's show. We did some really good lateral work today, finally breezed through some counter canter, had a really good canter in general, and Bobby was nice and calm with the simple changes. BM told me I could borrow her dressage saddle to show in if my gullet plate doesn't arrive in time (it better), so I won't have to worry about doing two Second tests in jump tack. 

Now all we have to do is not die of heat stroke by then!