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


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.


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.


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.


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.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

What's wrong with the Dutch Hippo?

Anyone that's been reading my blog since I still lived in PA is familiar with the Dutch Hippo. If you're not, he belongs to Riding Bestie--who you should all be familiar with as she comes up to torture play with my animals on a semi-regular basis. He's a nineteen year old Dutch Warmblood and also my spirit animal. We both enjoy going slow and eating snacks.

featured in many episodes of rob and big--rob being bobby and big being fatty memphis

Last year, towards the end of September, Memph started looking almost neurological. He was leaning left with his hind end, like it was no longer attached to his body. While just standing he would lean almost to the point of falling over, and then would quickly stand back up. At the walk he would twist his left hind inward.

I saw him about a month after he started doing this, and while it still looked like maybe something neuro, we also threw around the possibility of a pinched nerve or something similar in his hind end/spine.

what the actual fuck

The PA vet--the most useless person on the planet, but unfortunately literally the only one in the area--subscribed ten days of Doxy for Lyme. Because that's just what she does for everything. Which, side note, killed my Red horse and I switched to another vet that doesn't do horses anymore. This woman is the most colossal "old school" pain in the ass and she wants no part of your opinion. So take that into consideration. Sarah is in a tough spot with bouncing ideas off of her vet because the vet won't hear them.

They tried banamine and a steroid. They also discussed treating for EPM, but then Memphis just spontaneously started getting better. I suggested chiro thinking along the lines of something out of whack, but the chiro--who I like a whole lot--didn't find anything alarming.

The vet's summation was that he was just an old horse. Which at the time he was only eighteen. Senior I guess, but hardly some geriatric that was barely getting by with a plethora of other old man symptoms.

The actual hind end twisting, leaning mess only lasted a few weeks, but it seemed to take months for him to regain full strength. For a few months his tail was cocked to the left when moving faster than a walk. Then that seemed to resolve.

A year later, they're at a new barn. A couple weeks ago the whole thing started back up again. He's been normal both times otherwise. No temp, normal heart and respiratory rate.

He's been on Vitamin E for just under a week now as a shot in the dark.


The fact that's it came back around the same time as last year is weird. The fact that is just went away basically on its own is weird. The fact that he seems like a normal horse in every other way than his hind end trying to fall off his body is weird. Has anyone seen or experienced something similar? Any thoughts on what it might be? We'll take any and all guesses at this point!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Dressage at the Fair

Back to dressage land we go!

As if we ever really left it. Dressage. It's everywhere.

and hot damn, we are really good at it.

So all last week as I was preparing for this show--and by preparing I mean I have no recollection of doing any real work focused towards improving these tests aside from not flailing too badly at the canter--Opie was a spooky hot mess. Dopie is not a spooky horse, so I went out and bought an armful of UlcerGard and started shoving tubes down his throat. It was going to be his first time stabling at a show in a big atmosphere and I wanted him to not be even more of a tweaker than he was already being at home.

Surprise! It didn't do shit. I had a lot of success earlier this summer treating him with ranitidine (Remember when I thought he had pee cancer? Never rule anything out!), but this fancy stuff didn't help with the tension, or the spooking, or the loose nervous poops all day at the show. Possibly he contracted a sporadic, acute form of spooking cancer. Possibly he was feeding off of the hot fucking mess I was all week.

both of us experienced some Feelings about warm up

I was fucking wound up over this show. I'm the type of person that exists on routine, and any deviation out of my familiar comfort zone sends me into a tailspin. I've never stabled at a show before, I'd never shown at this facility before (this facility being the NY state fairgrounds where they were three days out from hosting the state fair), and I was signed up to scribe in between my two tests. Alone, one of those things I could probably handle. All together? Hot mess express.

(Sorry to blog reader Kourtney for being a checked out spazz every time I passed you! Congrats on your giant ribbon!)

Of course, nothing actually went wrong (enough) to validate my anxiety. Does it ever? BM let me raid her trailer the day before to get whatever I needed to set up my stall, and I had been in the barns a couple times before visiting with my barn as they were overnighting for hunter shows so I wasn't completely unfamiliar with what was where. I got in, got set up, got the weaving horse off the trailer and tucked into his cell for the day, got checked in for volunteering, and went to watch some tests.

little horse scopes things out

I took Opie on a walkabout before getting him tacked up for the first test so he wasn't completely blown away by where he was, but he surprised me by being completely chill about the whole thing. He let me ground mount in the middle of the road and then strolled over the warm up and walked around on a long rein checking everything out. When I asked him to go to work, he took a peak out the open sides every now and then, but mostly stayed focused. When I felt like he was ready to go, I looked down at my watch and only seven minutes had passed. Which was nice that he felt good, but it left a lot of time to get trampled by the worst warm up riders of my life before I could escape into the coliseum for our first test.

doping along to warm up. i'm clearly very deeply paying attention.

Training 1

The coliseum's ring is just big enough to stuff a standard dressage court in. They still had a small court set up for this test which left us just enough room to trot up the sides and get up close with the flowered letters, banners, and people in the stands. It didn't leave enough room to go by the open judge's stand which turned out to be the undoing of pretty much every single horse in their first test.

Opie was no different. He trotted in, halted nice and square, and then I asked him to trot off and he was like, "Fuck fucking no, we are not trotting directly up to Satan's altar." I got him going a little wiggly, but as soon as we turned left he spooked hard to the right and then jetted through the corner when I got him turned left. The judge was really understanding of everyone's horses being in probably the spookiest, biggest ring of their lives, and our score was still a 6.5 with the comment, "Square halt. Drifted right before C."

all these pics are from T3, but this is opie giving the judge a hard stare down 

A 7 for the first trot circle, 6.5 for a slightly above the hand (as always) left lead canter depart, 7.5 for the canter (praisejesushallelujah), and then we came down the long side and right as I was about to cue for the trot Opie propped and tried to Nope right out of going past the judge's stand again. He started to back up a step, and I know if I fight him on that he likes to go up instead so I just nudged him forward and stroked his neck, giving up on even getting the trot back, and we sidled on past at the walk. 5.5 with "Abrupt (LOL), falls on forehand."

Mostly 7s for the rest of the test with no more spooking, with all 7s for the collectives except a 6 for submission with confidence circled. Fair enough. "Lovely pair! Keep working on consistent bend in all circles--your straightness is doing really well! Overall well done." I'm glad my straightness boot camp has paid off. Now it looks like we lost the gumbiness. Never fails. I wasn't impressed with the test because half of it was spent spooking, but judges fucking love Opie no matter what. We ended up second with a 67.17%

i was pleased that the canter felt like the best part of both tests.
hard work and wet saddle pads paying off!

Here's where I turned the corner and went from keeping my shit together to starting to lose my shit. Again. And not for the last time. I was signed up to scribe for an hour directly after my test up to the lunch break. The organizer had done me a solid and slotted me in so I could get some more volunteer hours after I emailed the GMO begging for anything. I met her in the stands, she told me to head over to the judge as soon as the test in the ring finished up, and I was good to go.


The show was running behind and the judge was trying to get everyone in and out as quickly as possible. I told the scribe I was there to take over for her, but the judge rung the next person in before the scribe could tell her I was there. The scribe was like, "Whoops, sorry?" That test finished, next test same thing. Finally the scribe just waved me off and told me she was good until the lunch break, and I was like, "Uhhh....okay?" So there went ANOTHER opportunity to get any hours, which leaves exactly one show left. I already committed to not showing in it so I could be free all day to volunteer instead. I emailed the secretary and manager to tell them to put my down for anything two weeks ago. Have I heard anything back? OF COURSE NOT.

I checked in with the office to see if there was anything else they needed help with, but they were good to go there, too. I wandered back to my stall, took Opie out for another walk and graze, got Hubby corralled after he drove right past me, and eventually got ready for the second test.

Training 3

The warm up was blessedly empty when I first went in. I got some walk and trot work done, and then all at once the ring filled back up. I have all sorts of feelings about this, but they can all be summed up in a post I wrote four years ago. After having to yank Opie to a complete stop multiple times to avoid getting run into, I finally just gave up.

the lady behind me was all about not sharing space

I ducked into the chute to ask the ring steward where I was in regards to which horses were in front of me, and she pointed out one horse between me and the rider in the ring, explained to me that with the switch to the standard court we were able to go into the ring and warm up before the bell since there wasn't enough room to go on the outside anymore, and then moved on to the next rider.

One minute later she stuck her head in the ring and was like, "Where's Carly?! Carly?? You're on deck!!" And I was all, "Right. We literally just had this conversation." And at that point I was ready to go home for real.

he's just adorbs

We trotted into the ring and went right over to the judge's stand. It was still slightly offensive, but no dramatics this time around. The judge rung us in, and we had another square halt and another moment where he thought trotting out of it and towards Satan's altar was not a good game plan. 6 with "Straight, slightly against hand. Drifted afer X." Yep. He twitched a bit as we went by the first time, but fortunately no peacing out of there this test.

I was so pleased with getting through the corner that I checked out and kept right on trotting instead of turning at H to start the loop. Whoops! Fortunately I caught myself quickly and got us back on track only a couple strides past H. The rest of the test was a mix of 7s and 6.5s with a 7.5 for the free walk and an 8 for the second trot loop. "Correct geometry and bend." No comment on Opie's battle against the world's smallest fly circling his ears the entire loop...

i know judges are supposed to ignore horses reacting to bugs like this, but still.

it was a little embarrassing nonetheless.

7s and 6.5s again for collectives with final comments, "Another nice test with your willing horse--keep working on down transitions--better balance before will improve them a lot. Keep at it." The downward transitions are still a heavy work in progress. She'd made a comment on the previous test about them as well so I'd worked on them in warm up, but Dopie is a quitter at heart and the second he gets wind of a half halt in the canter he's all over that as a cue to stop. Add it to the list of things to work on. Overall though the test felt really steady, and I was pleased with it. It was another second and another 67.95%.

They were giving out giant ribbons for champion (and a cooler) and reserve champion for each division, but the person that beat me in T1 won with a 70% and they announced the winner of T2 had won with a 72% so I assume that knocked me out of contention for either. I didn't stick around to find out.

Instead I went over to the parking area to get my trailer hooked back up so I could pack up and leave. That went fine, but when I drove into the same gate I had pulled into that morning with zero issue, the security guard told me I had to turn around and go through a different gate at the far end of the fairgrounds. So I did that, almost missed the fucking unmarked gate and burned rubber braking in time, and then got told to go two different places by the security guards there. Totally frazzled, annoyed, and done with this show, I almost drove right past the DOT cop waving me in for a check stop. That would have made my day just spectacular, but fortunately he was really nice and only checked my license before sending me on my way to go get lost in the maze of gated off parking lots leading to nowhere.

I finally got back to where I needed to be, got the trailer loaded, and then led Opie to the ramp. He'd walked right on for me by myself that morning without issue, but he got halfway up the ramp to leave and parked it. At that point I didn't even care. I parked it myself just inside the trailer and waited him out for a few seconds before he gave up and marched in without dramatics.

he's so very cute. and at some point i need to do a post about white breeches.
because oh my lord do i have words.

Overall it went both better and as bad as I expected. The tests themselves were much better than I thought they were going to be. I was expecting nonstop spooking, tension, and staring at everything the entire time I was riding. Instead he had a few justifiable spooks, but moved on from them and put the work in. The second test was downright pleasant minus a couple minor bobbles. And while I was being a raging hormonal bitch all weekend much to Hubby's delight, I can't actually complain about two second places with 67%s. Those are good scores and good placings, especially since we can easily do so much better.

I think we're set with Training level now. I'm planning on doing First at the end of September to close out the year, and then we'll have all winter to work on the new tests to see what next season brings us. Hopefully I'll get my final fucking three hours of volunteering in so I can have some year end awards to show for all this.

In the meantime? Our next show report should be a little more exciting....

almost as exciting as the return of fair food to my life. my fave time of the year!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

You are now a jump jump horse

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

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

And Opie has been like: Okay!

#childgenius after all

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

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

not a firm grasp of feet.

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

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

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

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

easy peasy

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


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

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

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

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

all sorts of special over this teeny tiny jump

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

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

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

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

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

yay, actually jumping!

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

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

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

rly needs some grid life tho

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

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

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