Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Cohocton Hunter Pace

I've been holding off on writing this because I wanted to get pictures from the photographer first, but those have yet to appear and I'll have other things to move on to soon.

So when I tell you we jumped a fucking boat you'll just have to take my word for it until the pictures arrive.

P.S. OH DANG WE JUMPED A BOAT.

beautiful day for a pace!

This was Opie's first hunter pace, and he handled everything like a seasoned pro. He hung out at the trailer with his saddle on casually snacking from his hay net and watching the activity around him while we waited for the rest of our group to get ready. He didn't get upset when he had to wait for horses to go by him on the trail, and he was fine being stuck anywhere within the group at any pace.

remember when he would go full meltdown when he got saddled
and didn't immediately get to go do the thing? those were good times.

We left the start line in the lead just because Opie, with his giant stride, is by default always the fastest. He was a little apprehensive about the new wide open spaces though, and after he "spooked" (stepped sideways) at the first two jumps, I asked the other adult if she would take over the lead. Once Opie had a buddy in front to be brave first, he settled right in and I was able to start taking him over the jumps instead of running away from them.

After navigating a couple of muddy and/or steep sections, we opened up to the looong uphill pull and we let the ponies loose. Opie took back over the lead and cantered all the way up on a loopy rein. After that, he was good to for the rest of the ride. We had a mandatory long walk for a rocky road, and he marched way out in front of everyone else taking in the sights. He didn't care when the rest of the group repeatedly trotted up behind us to catch up, or when I made him stop and wait for them.

we had a great group of barn kiddos who were a lot of fun to ride with--and
who were riding actual ponies so opie looked like a giant for once!

When we came to the boat, no one in our group was going to jump it. It's literally on overturned boat with a stick across the top of it. The photographer was there trying to egg us all on to go over it--"If you fall off, at least you'll get a good picture of it!"--but after she told us it was only four feet wide, the only other girl considering it noped right out. But I figured what the fuck. Opie was being bold and brave to everything because Event Horse (apparently), so I trotted him back around, picked up the canter, and he locked right on and popped over without a second thought. Everyone fawned over him and told him he was amazing--because he is--and off we went again.

these views are gorgeous on a clear day

We passed through some pool noodles hanging as a car wash, scaled mountains, did a ton more cantering, a ton more jumps, and finally popped out of the woods to where the bank is. No one in my group again wanted to do it, but fortunately we'd been passing back and forth with a pair of riders who blasted right up it. I asked one of them if they'd give us a lead, and she obligingly circled back around and got us up it. And then she was like, "I love this grey horse, he's amazing." And I was like, "Welcome to the state-wide Opie Fan Club. I'm thinking about charging membership fees at this point."

even the trees are gorgeous

The only hang up Opie had was crossing over the empty creek. He's a little shit about our own empty creek crossing at the barn, and you may remember we straight up got stuck at the horse trial last month because of a similar crossing. Fortunately we had Sid to take over the lead. Sid calmly walked right through the multiple crossings while Opie launched himself over every. single. one. I just gave him the length of my reins and leaned way back, but in the future it would be nice to just stroll through them. Because they are all of six inches deep and maybe two feet wide.

thanks for being a good back up leader, sid.
sorry we landed on top of you that one time.

Despite most of the ride being spent in either the trot or canter, Opie walked into the parking lot and picked up the trot again all on his own with his ears pricked when he saw other horses heading out. He barely took a deep breath the entire ride and finished the eight miles of terrain looking and feeling as perky as he started. We came in at ninety one minutes and the optimum time ended up being ninety. This pace does ribbons using the Danish system so we were guaranteed blue ribbons being that close.

we'll take our blue ribbons any way we can get them

I'm so proud of how this kid handled another brand new experience. He's matured so much this season, and all the work and exposure I've forced on him has definitely paid off. He was relaxed and confident, and just a fun horse to have there.

Hopefully I can share some boat jumping pictures soon. In the meantime, Hubby and I are going on a short field trip this evening to get up to some serious shenanigans. I'm so excited to share this not really a surprise, I can barely wait!

Monday, September 10, 2018

It's okay, I'm (not) a professional

A large part of why I show is because it gives me something to aim towards. It helps me set a daily game plan. It keeps me focused.

Without any showing on the horizon, shit has quickly gone off the rails.

you are now a driving horse.
and a western horse.
and a professional snacker trail horse

This was the first year ever where I A) set out a schedule all the way through to the end of the year, B) was able to have a sound, sane horse for that entire schedule, and C) didn't get distracted and jump into another discipline halfway through that schedule.

Clearly I'm making up for it now!

has no idea what's going on.
feels more cookies should be involved.

I've had this idea in my head for a good long time that Opie would make the cutest pleasure driving horse. I envision him in swanky brown and classy navy, though quite frankly he looks like a donkey in brown leather. Still. It's my imaginary vision. We'll work with it.

But I had a real, grown up show season to push through so while I kept the idea in the back of my head, I didn't so much as browse harnesses online. Then show season ended. And Hubby and I went to the fair and watched a bunch of driving horses, and Hubby--who has always wanted a horse that could pull logs (Yeah, I don't know.)--was like, "When are you going to teach Opie to pull?"

"Pull" in my head meaning a cart, not logs. I didn't bother clarifying that to Hubby and instead began the harness search in earnest feeling he was giving me his blessing. And by "in earnest" I mean I google searched harnesses for maybe half a second before going on craigslist, clicking on the first and only ad that popped up, and sent an email. The next day, for $25, I picked up a cheapo nylon pleasure harness with all the parts.

way too ugly and janky to do anything real with,
but for $25 and no cart, it serves its purpose.

I took my goodies to the the barn, spread everything out on a jump to make sure I remembered what went where (I taught Bobby how to drive as well for those newer to blog and wondering where the fuck all of this is coming from.), and then plopped Dopie in front of said jump and started getting him dressed. With a constant stream of cookies as I tugged and adjusted and flung lines around his body, Opie was perfectly happy to just hang out. Then I put the blinders on him and he was very confused. He raced in blinkers, and I've found in my vast experience (Read: literally one other horse) that that helps ease the way, and in no time he was like, whatevski.

I've also found that OTTBs have a head start in the driving world. That is, if they're well started. Also they're just better in general. #suckit A well started baby racehorse should know what ground driving and/or what long lining is. Was your OTTB started well? Try ground driving. Chances are they pick it back up in two seconds.

As was the case for Opie. He needed BM to get him walking for a step and then we were off with zero issues.

before the pole was attached he was steering all over

On Saturday I brought Hubby out. Hubby had made Opie his very own single tree despite me trying to explain that he will literally never need a single tree for a pleasure harness or cart. Maybe Hubby was faking ignorance because you do need a single tree to pull logs. 

Spoiler alert: Opie is never going to pull logs, Hubby.

safety first: don't be like hubby.

I threw my Micklem on Opie since I figured he'd appreciate the open bridle aspect to see what the fuck he was dragging for the first time. (I did not give Bobby this luxury. He didn't give two shits.) I ground drove him all over the ring without anything behind him first, and he looped all over without any issues. Next we jerry rigged the harness to attach it to the single tree, sent Opie off for a lap to see how he would react to that--he could have cared less--and then attached a pole to the single tree.

also did not care.

It was really the most anticlimactic adventure ever. I would have attached him to a cart the next day if I had one.

WHICH BRINGS US TO.....

....no, I still don't have a cart.

I'm constantly going back and forth on the idea if I want to buy one before winter or not. Part of me is like, "YASSS!!! Finish what you started!!!" While the sane part of me knows that there's nowhere to drive on this property except the outdoor and during the winter even that option will be gone. So a month or two of driving in the outdoor, or having to trailer out to the park and then repeat the teaching process there. And I hate driving so the chances of that happening often enough to justify the cost of even a cheap cart--and you can get them for a couple hundred bucks around here--are pretty slim.

But I still kind of want one before spring anyway.

opie says, is retirement an option?

In conclusion, never take any training advice from me ever. My experience comes from getting an idea in my head and just doing it. There's a lot to be said for that mindset, but, uh, some of it probably isn't that nice. #worksforme #mightnotforyou

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Bits

Opie has been living his best life since his event horse debut/finale. Actually it's been more like he's been living his hottest life. The summer humidity refuses to die and since show season has wrapped up I've seen no reason to grind through schooling rides in the ring. Instead all we've done is two easy trail rides with a whole lotta walking and a whole lotta snorkeling. I'm so impressed with how much just walking the fields after rides has helped this dude figure his feet out. Yesterday at the park he was navigating down steep, glorified deer trails with tree roots coming up in every direction on the buckle confidently and easily.

loves water even more than walking

Since we've got nothing real going on, it's time to reach into the drafts bin! Karen's post from a little while ago got me thinking about bits. First of all, I didn't even know there were such things as bitting clinics. Or that people would pay actual money for them. WUT. They could give that money to me instead. They clearly don't need a real reason to light it on fire and throw it in the air.

Opie raced in a rubber D. I didn't have one of those on hand (and I think they're ugly #veryscientific), so I started him off in what was already hanging on my Micklem from Bobby: a single jointed eggbutt. He's been in four-ish other bits since then.

remember when he was super dark and couldn't steer? i sure do.

French link eggbutt: Opie seemed pretty oblivious to the single jointed eggbutt. He wasn't offended by it, but in an effort to see if I could make him any happier I dug this one out of my box of literally ten thousand eggbutts. Seriously, if you guys ever need an eggbutt of any width let me know. I can probably find one for you. Maybe even two. There didn't really seem to be any difference in Opie's way of going between the french link and the single joint. He got more trained and progressed, but he was never fussy in the mouth with either of these.

a couple months of schooling and a custom saddle did him wonders.
the bit change had nothing to do with it.

Half moon loose ring: I switched to this bit from the eggbutt when his tongue started flopping out of his mouth like a dead fish. That was also when we discovered his shark teeth. The idea was that the tiny port might give him some tongue relief. In the end the tongue flopping proved to be nothing more than a sign of tension (that fortunately went away well before show season started!), and the loose ring seemed a bit too unstable for him for where he was at in his training. I went back to the french link after a few weeks in this one.

there was a reason i jumped him so little until lately: he really sucked at it!

Copper full cheek and slow twist D: The french link and the half moon were the two big every day bit experiments. In between, Opie used two other bits. I got the copper full cheek as a jumping bit to go on his figure eight. I subscribed to the idea that the full cheek would help with his very lackluster steering, but even today if he's not going to steer, nothing besides my leg keeps him on track. The full cheek doesn't help with that at all. Nevertheless it hung on his jumping bridle up until last month simply because I so rarely used it that I didn't bother putting anything else on it. The slow twist was used for three rides over the winter when Opie went from not being able to canter at all to cantering like a wild racehorse. The quick brush up on brakes, mother fucker served its purpose and it went back into the box until the jumping phases of his last show.

getting that neck long took forever, but it makes me so happy.

Happy Mouth mullen mouth: Opie has always been quick to shorten his neck way up and duck behind the vertical which has made him not the best about contact. Obviously I've done a lot to get him going honestly forward, but I figured a softer bit might make him more inclined to be in my hands a little weightier. Opie was awfully suspicious of this bit from the get-go. He didn't particularly like it whenever I first put his bridle on, but he wasn't outwardly fussy with it once we started riding. That only lasted a couple weeks however before he started clacking his teeth together in it. Two rides in a row of that and I replaced it with the french link eggbutt again.

french link for life

I'm not inclined to try anything else after those experiments. I'll get him another of the exact same bit to put on his figure eight so I don't have to use a black bridle with a brown jump saddle (the horrors!). He doesn't need anything with bigger brakes when schooling at home. Thank goodness he settled on such a cheap, easy choice!

Have you guys done a lot of experimenting with bits for your horse? Do they go significantly better in one bit than another, or are they basically the same across the board and it's more for fun to try new bits out? And most importantly, has anyone ever attended one of these bit clinics before?!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Courtney King-Dye Clinic

Over the weekend my GMO hosted a USDF National Education Initiative Clinic with Courtney King-Dye. A little bit different than a normal clinic, it was set up so that auditors were encouraged to participate and ask questions throughout--pertinent to the current rider in the ring or not. I was only able to attend Saturday, but I got to watch all but the last two riders go (while still getting in those volunteer hours!). 

At first I didn't think I was going to be able to pull much out for my own riding and where Opie is currently with his training. There were quite a few upper and upper of the lower level pairs, and even the Training/First horses were super nice. 


for instance, when courtney asked this rider what her horse had done so far
she said, "nothing, he's basically just sat around." um, i would like one of these plz.

I missed most of the first rider's session getting people checked in, but all the way up through the PSG pair Courtney proved to be a stickler for the basics. Between her own coaching through each lesson and the questions asked throughout the day I actually took away quite a bit of information.

These are written in order as they came up so they're a bit scattered in cohesion, but I'm too lazy to make them flow prettily. 
  • What is the most important trait she looks for in a dressage horse? The desire to be good and want to do his job.
  • "Don't be in a hurry. Do it perfectly."
  • In transitions, push sideways to get the horse moving off the inside leg.
  • After the horse did a good job: "Tell him you love him!"

i know a lot of bloggers will recognize the wonderful ringo! the rider courtney
brought along jumped on a couple horses to get them going, and she was as quick
to praise as courtney was to give encouragement.

  • For a nervous horse: A constant contact with mouth so they know you're there. "Just be part of her."
  • For the nervous horse that wanted to go behind the bit: Let her go wherever she's comfortable until she's confident, and then you can push forward. Once comfortable it's just inside leg to outside rein connection.
this mare was pretty green and unsure of herself with an adult ammy rider.
the asst. ended up getting on for the whole session.

and gave her a lot of confidence in herself by the end!

  • Always do things twice. Once to school the movement. If it schools well do it a second time to make sure they understood.
  • It's all about priority, and first priority is always a horse in front of the leg.
  • We spend so much time in training telling the horse, "No, don't do that that." that we have to also spend a lot of time telling the horse good job. If we always tell them they did it wrong they'll stop trying so hard.
courtney wanted to see a bigger difference in the lengthening of this mare's trot

so the asst. rider got on to show it could be done

and then her rider got it afterwards, too. 

  • A couple of the horses that were dead to the leg got some big kicks from the assistant rider. One of the auditors asked about how she decided when a horse needed leg, whip, spur, or a kick. Courtney's philosophy is Whisper or Shout. If you whisper and get no response all hell breaks loose. Don't ask big and then keep trying to ask big with a nagging leg. Get them going until you have to bring them back. She doesn't care what the response is--bucking or kicking--as long as it's forward. The horse should never be asking, "Is that enough?" You should be saying, "Okay, thank you. That's enough." and then bring them back. If he doesn't respond to the whisper you should shout so he learns, "Oh crap, I should have listened to the whisper." Forget about the contact/where the head is, the priority is to get the horse to go.
another ringo picture because he was as gorgeous and well trained as we all
fantasized about him being

  • From a big trot to a small trot: The hand is a back up. It stops following, but it doesn't pull back. Adjust from the seat. 
  • On moving up the levels: The higher movements require higher collection, but a lot of people train on the daily in a lower level frame--for example, showing Third and schooling in a First frame. Don't do that.
  • On the double bridle: She introduces it at 5 and just goes out and hacks for six months. (This is assuming she gets them at 3 so by 6 they're doing 3rd level.) So at 2nd level she starts hacking in it, and then moves on to stretching in it, but no working in it until they're 3rd level. If they're not comfortable in the double then there's no reason to ever ride in it unless you're doing CDIs. Some are easier in the double than the snaffle, and then it makes sense to use it.
the double bridle question came up when courtney made this PSG pony switch
to a snaffle. the rider is a well known trainer in the area and she seemed like the
hardest one to teach.

I had to leave after that to fit in all my driving, but by the end I was wanting to get on and get my horse sharp off my leg LOL. 

Courtney was a super positive teacher, and you could tell she had a well of information to tap into. I'd definitely recommend going to at least audit one of her clinics if she's ever near you. Her emphasis on basics no matter what level the horse and rider were made it easy to relate to my own riding--or a few times she said things that made me think of other bloggers!

Monday, August 27, 2018

GVRDC Intro HT

For the second weekend in a row I spent one day in Geneseo and one day in the Syracuse area. For those who have no idea what that entails, they're basically at the opposite ends of the earth from each other. Or at least it feels like it when you hate driving as much as I do.

I was out at Cazenovia College for the Courtney King-Dye clinic my GMO put on (which I'll do a post on, but I figured everyone was more interested in Dopie's eventing debut) until around two on Saturday before driving home and grabbing Hubby and the puppies to drive down to Geneseo and walk my cross country and stadium. From there I drove back up to Rochester to bathe Opie and throw the last couple things in my trailer. Then I went home and slept made dinner, picked up the house, and got things around for the following morning.

i was too tired to braid him so he got to sport his shaggy button braid length mane
all day instead. he looked like a cheeky pony. 

Fortunately the event was only forty-ish minutes with the trailer from my barn so even though our dressage was at 9:30 I didn't have to roll out of bed until six. Opie loaded right up and then calmly walked off the trailer and dug into his breakfast without fuss. He definitely likes hanging out at the trailer more than he did being stabled. He can move around and keep track of all his soulmates without a stall door blocking his view. Priorities.

Seeing as how this horse has spent all season doing dressage, and I pretty much always end up getting on with way too much time to spare, I gave us about twenty minutes to get on, get over to the far reaches where the ring was, and get warmed up. Turns out we needed every minute of it, and really it ended up not being much of a success anyway.

wow so fast much running

Opie was blown away when we stepped through the hedgerow and into a giant open field with jumps and other horses and no real ring to warm up in. His dressage princess brain just couldn't even and I could tell I wasn't getting anywhere with him at the walk and trot so I commandeered a big circle and let him canter.

And canter. And canter. And canter.

it was a beautiful morning out at least

When I finally brought him back to the trot he had settled a little bit, but it sure didn't last.

Dressage

We went to circle the ring and right away Opie took offense to the judge's booth. I let him walk by it and check it out so it was less scary. Then we trotted from the grass to the sand at the end of the court to circle and he spooked at the footing change. And then people walked out of a different hedgerow and he tripped and almost fell down because he was too busy gawping at them. So I gave up and let him stand there and have a giant stare fest until the judge blew the whistle.

"THERE ARE THINGS EVERYWHERE SENSORY OVERLOAD"

I don't think doing a couple more circles would have helped him any, and he at least went in not afraid of the judge. Doesn't mean it was a good test though!


He was so distracted by everything the whole test. But he is Dopie. Judges cannot get enough of this kid. Even with his head in the air he scored basically all 6.5s with a few 7s. Most of the comments were that his back was tight or that he was a little fussy. Both true. The final comments were, "Canter is better than trot. Use it to make trot better!" Which just LOL because you all know how hard I've had to work on this canter, and that the trot is just naturally easy. Apparently when you're an event horse you have to show off your jumping canter instead.

The final score was a 35.5 which isn't the worst but not great either, especially since I was bringing a strictly dressage horse in here. Sometimes it's easy to forget he's still in his first year off the track and every place I take him is a brand new experience. I have no idea how that stacked up against anyone else because they haven't posted results yet, and they weren't forthcoming with them at the show either.

i also forgot my 3/4" purple spurs at home and had to grab a barn mate's nubs instead.
they were essentially useless in the steering department which wasn't much fun.

Stadium

I was SO WORKED UP for stadium. When we walked it the night before I pretty much resigned myself to not making it past that phase. I was banking on 2' jumps and these were mostly 2'3" including two oxers--which Opie has never jumped before. In the back of my head I knew he could jump them easily enough, but my brain has never been able to do stadium. Ever. In the history of eventing.

Everyone I talked to was like, "U R being SO DUM STAHP. #childgenius!!!" and then I even had a dream that night where we cantered the whole course in a perfect hunter canter with zero issues. But the hour wait between dressage and jumping had me crawling out of my skin and I refused to even start getting ready until twenty minutes out. I didn't want to be in the saddle waiting to go for one second longer than I needed to be.

spoiler alert: just the best.

Right as I went to bridle him, the horse at the trailer behind me made a run for it as she was getting bridled and went galloping right past us. There was another OTTB also doing their first event walking in front of my trailer on the way to stadium right then too, and he and Opie both just froze and stared at the commotion. Once the horse was out of sight (who was caught and went on to compete just fine), Opie couldn't stand still to save his fool life as I tried to get his figure 8 adjusted properly. Fuck these non-Micklem bridles and their ten thousand moving straps!

jk look how cute he looks in it!

Opie had no idea what was in store for him, but he was excited to do it. He power walked over to the tiny warm up area where they were waiting for anyone to go in. Thank fuck because I sent him right to the trot, did two laps, picked up the canter, jumped the X twice, the vertical once (and sent it flying), and offered to go in with all of five minutes max to warm up. Exactly the limit my brain can deal with!

I decided to trot the first jump and see how confident he felt. The judge blew the whistle, I pointed Dopes between the start flags and he perked right up and picked up the canter on his own. I let him roll with it and he nailed the first jump, landing and looking for the next one.

jumped one jump. thinks he's the king of the world.

The second jump was equally perfect, and then a weird bending-ish line to the oxer. He got a little backed off of it so I let him trot it. He jumped it crooked and green as fuck, but he went over first try. Then the wheels came off a little bit. The next two jumps were on a line, but spaced so far apart they weren't set on any distance. Opie took a fucking flyer to the first one and then I just kind of sat there like a lump and let him do the same thing to the second.

coming in hot

Steering was tricky landing off of that, but we got the next one done just fine. Off of six there was a jump on the diagonal that rode a little awkward for more than just me. (Because everything has the potential to ride awkwardly when you're me.) I didn't support Opie up to it and he knocked the top rail out with a front foot. The next jump he launched over, and then we finished with two really good, normal horse jumps.

opie: i'm doing the thingggggggg!!!!!
me: ohok

final jump, second ever oxer

He got all the praise in the world while the volunteers had a good laugh at my running commentary of obnoxiously loud GOOD BOYs.

thank you for having no idea what you were doing and still packing me around

Cross Country

I'd had a bit of a debate with myself about what bit to use (See what I did there?). In our last outside jump school he was landing and, not bolting, but jetting off with much enthusiasm. As in, it took me a long ass time to get him hauled back up after a jump. I like having a hold when I jump so I didn't want to throw something too big/harsh in there and getting him super backed off, but I still wanted brakes. I waffled back and forth between just using his every day french link eggbutt and hoping I had some control and going back to the slow twist that I used for about a week way back when when we were having canter control issues. In the end I went with the slow twist and I'm so glad I did.

going places. really fast.

I asked for the canter as we left the start box and Opie launched into it. I got him wrangled right back for a perfectly reasonable first jump, and then we had a bit of a canter to jump two. He turns into a little pit bull sometimes--he rolls himself into a ball, sets against the bit, and just cruises. I'm sure he was a blast to gallop at the track, but all I needed was a nice canter.

first jump

He jumped the first two just fine, and then was kind of getting stuck in the footing coming up to three. Since he's prone to falling on his face on a good day and kept curling I had to really get his focus up, but he jumped that fine as well.

how cute and happy is he?!

From there we had to go down a stupidly steep hill to the next jump and I seriously almost didn't get him back in time before we fell off the face of the earth. We obviously walked down it, went over the jump at the bottom, and then stormed the hill to get back up and out.

The jump after that was pretty upright and the first "big" one for the second half of the course. Opie wasn't sure about it from a mile out and finally skidded to the side a couple strides out from it. I probably could have smacked him and chased him over it, but to what end? He'd never jumped a real xc jump before heading out on this course and I wasn't there to dominate the eventing scene. I let him take a quick peak at it and then we came back around and he went over it with a little extra leg.

One more jump, and then we had to go down to cross through a hedgerow with a gully on either side. Opie wanted no part of that death trap and we had a little discussion before I could get him to walk through and out to the next two jumps--both of which he did fine.

He had a dance party at the next footing change trying to decide what footing was cause for the most concern, but I managed to keep him cantering past that without running sideways into the ditch. Small wins.


The next two were right out of stride, and the final fence he dropped to the trot for a stride before because it was kind of looky in the shade between the trees. Then right before the finish flags he tripped and almost face planted (you can see his head disappear for a stride in the helmet cam) because we had to throw at least one of those in there.

but we finished!!!

Opie's massage lady found us when we were done, and Opie was mugging her for all he was worth like, "Yes, I am a star event horse, massage lady. Tell me how wonderful I am." He was definitely proud of himself back at the trailer.

I think Opie had fun, and he certainly out-performed my expectations for him. I envisioned a lot more rails flying in stadium and a horse lacking confidence having to go out into the wide world and tackle brand new jumps without another horse in sight to keep him company. Instead he totally got into it--maybe a little too much into it as that slow twist was barely enough sometimes!

So will I do it again? No, not really. I have zero anxiety before dressage shows. They don't keep me up at night. I don't get even the faintest tickling of nerves before going into the ring. Stadium still makes me sick to my stomach, and I'm completely over paying money for that sensation. Cross country is fun, but it's not fun enough to overcome that. Especially when there are hunter paces.

I think in the future this same event might be a good season-ender just for something different for Opie to do. Other than that, dressage it is.

you didn't think i was going to forget this, did you?!

*Result update: If we hadn't had the rail or the stop, we would have been second. With just the rail we would have been third. Next year we'll aim for a ribbon! #introhorseforlife

Thursday, August 23, 2018

What's red on right...

...white on left, and grey in the middle*?

How about a Dopie Horse!

(*Being in the middle does not necessarily mean being straight through the middle.)

yes, i am also suspicious of this being a good idea.

After changing the end of my show season around about ten different times trying to fit in somewhere I could get volunteer hours (By the way, emailed the secretary and manager for the show again and still haven't heard anything. However, as long as I get to keep them this time, I'm signed up to volunteer Saturday at the Courtney King-Dye clinic instead. Fingers crossed!), and test the waters at First, and not have to drive all over the countryside, I started taking notice of all the little year-end intro horse trials popping up.

However, most of the ones I was seeing were Intro B for the dressage test, crossrails or barely 2' for the stadium, and nothing more exciting than step over logs for cross country. Opie is no tried and true jump jump horse yet--in fact, he's maybe one step up from glowing neon green--but there was no way I was doing a w/t test and crossrails. Mostly for my own sanity, and because I really couldn't justify shelling out the money to do something I could do at a hunter pace at my home barn for zero dollars.

after doing the jumpies in a field without having to travel

Right as I wrote off doing an event as a fun way to wrap up the season, the local-ish eventing group posted that the weekend after their final recognized show they'd be doing a schooling Intro HT. I have a lot of feelings about eventing up here, but I knew that this show would be set up professionally with real dressage, stadium, and cross country jumps that were just miniature versions of BN.

I waited to enter until I walked the cross country course with my barn mate doing her first BN last weekend. The area had gotten absolutely dumped on after a summer of drought conditions, and this place is the very best at cancelling because of flooding. The ground, however, was in great shape despite the weather and with a pretty mild forecast for this week I signed up feeling confident, for once, that my eventing plans wouldn't get shit on again.

I refused to think about jumping or a new test or anything else until I got the show at the fair over and done with because fuck knows I didn't need anything else to blow my crazy brain apart. Opie got Monday off, and then I set about making an event horse in one week!

i'll be honest, it mostly involved feeding an entire bag of
peppermints in the space of two days. that is not a lie.

I free jumped him through a line of bounces Tuesday because I want him to start to become cognizant of what his feet are doing. He was good through that once I kicked them all up to 2'3". He was pretty lazy before that, although he was his typical #childgenius self and immediately remembered the free jumping game: take yourself through the chute and get cookies. Easiest cookie dispensing ever.

Yesterday I set up a bending line and a single vertical with placing poles on either side to mimic the previous day's free jumping. He absolutely wrecking balled that shit the first time through, but then thought maybe he could check in with me. I got him on the right pace and he coasted through perfectly. Lots of that type of work is in his jumping future. The bending line went well enough for it being his first ever one. A little scrambled and wiggly, but he never tried to say No.

Today there was a little course set up with another bending line in a different spot, a vertical on the diagonal, and a one stride. I dropped the one stride down to half Xs and then made the other jumps between 2' an 2'3". The stadium is supposed to be around 2' which is firmly in our comfort zone right now.

so cute and curly

The one stride was a complete joke of part levitating, part somersaulting so I wrote it off completely. We'll cross that bridge later.

Opie has a great big canter with a great big reach. I'm trying not to shut that down and create a Bobby pony canter, but I can let that get away with me a little bit. Sometimes he needs to be packaged up into a smaller canter. The very first jump I let him go free wheeling around a corner to a short approach and he left about a thousand feet away. I picked him back up, sat down, held and waited, and the second time was golden. Derp.

The whole jump school was a bit like that. Trying to balance forward without becoming strung out. Bless his little Dopie heart, he doesn't have a dishonest bone in his body and was gung-ho to take off from absolutely anywhere I got him and didn't hold a grudge when it was a bit of a scramble.

We finished stringing together a quick course with lots of turning and steering which was super for where he's at. Then I headed outside to the back field quickly to pop over the stadium jump bending line to the straw which was easy peasy.

These past two days were the first times ever I haven't trotted him to a single jump. I'm proud of that because it means all the bitch work and daily grinding of getting that canter under control has payed off. He felt balanced and adjustable, and while we dove head first into the ground on landing a couple times, it wasn't until the end when he was getting a little tired and I was getting a little lax. I think next year he's going to come out so much stronger and absolutely struttin'.

this thing is nice and wide for how short it is.

So we got two jump schools in, tomorrow I'll learn BN B, and then Saturday I'll be at a clinic (hopefully!) volunteering all day before showing Sunday. How much more prepared do we need to be?

Ha ha ha. We're gonna die.