Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Dopie Does Roping, Part I

Still here, still stumping around! The cut on my toe is healing up really well, the nail is still somehow attached (during my last appointment, the surgeon told me I could pull it off myself if I wanted and I was like, "LOLOLOLOLOL I THINK NOT, SIR."), and the crushing force of a steel shoe launching itself from one direct point did so much nerve damage that things are basically still numb. I'm able to walk around the house without my boot which is fantastic because that heavy thing is a real ankle torturing bitch, as you guys warned me. Every now and then I'll get a quick stab of pain that's either nerves trying to come back from the grave or a reminder that I have a vertical line of broken bones in there, too, but overall things are going pretty swimmingly in that regard.

I was also told not to ride for another four--now three--weeks, but I think we all know how that's going.

he was very sad there was no swimming at this new park
so he kept parking himself in puddles and refusing to leave them.

I pulled the stirrups off my saddle and have been hitting the trails as much as possible. BM is fully on board and we explored a park down the road from the barn last week with plans to go there again on Friday. We've gone back to Mendon yet again, and Dopes and I have been strolling around the home property on nice days. We've logged seven hours of walking in the two weeks since I got hurt, and so far it's been enough to appease the both of us. Mostly a vacation while trying to enjoy this beautiful fall weather before it disappears for eight months of winter.

However! I'm not here to ramble about trail riding--any more than I already have at least.

Hubby decided he wanted to climb aboard SS Dopasaurus Rex over the weekend, and I fully support any time I get to pull out the western horse outfit.

does he need that tie down? for aesthetic purposes, YES.

Hubby wanted to play #dopiedoesroping and I've never had any issue with any of my other horses he's attempted this with. They've all taken to having ropes flung through the air and inevitably getting thwacked in the head with nary a complaint. Opie isn't at all a spooky horse so I was expecting no difference.

Instead, once Hubby had gotten on and ridden around a little bit, I reached out to hand him the rope and Dopie went shooting sideways.

i'm so glad you can't smell pictures because this horse reeks of pee and pond
scum at the moment. a bath is on his schedule during this brief warm up.

We ended up having to take things all the way back to the ground. First longeing with the rope whacking against his saddle, which he kept an ear on, but was otherwise okay with.

hadn't had real work in weeks and loped around on a loose line. he is a good pone.

Then I had Hubby swing the rope in front of and then next to Dopie several times. Dopes watched with wary interest, but with a steady stream of candy if he stayed still instead of trying to go sideways, this went quickly.

Hubby finally got back on with the rope hanging neutrally in his hand at his side. I put him on the longe while he started shifting the rope around, slowly swinging it back and forth and then gradually holding it out to the side and up in the air. Opie was definitely pretty fucking twitchy about this to start. However, in true Dopie fashion, once he sussed out the game--don't react to the shenanigans going on around you and you get a candy--I was able to let them off the line and they walked around without issue.

Hubby was able to throw the rope out a couple times while I stood at Opie's head shoveling candy into his face until I finally ran out. I wanted to get it on video though, because I'm trying to run a blog here obvi, so he did it one more time.

Opie looking back at Hubby at the end to see where his candy is still makes me laugh hysterically. And then Hubby was like, "One more time." but Opie was like, "NO CANDY NO WORK" and started to get mad so we quit there so I could fetch him a fresh bag of peppermints.

I told Hubby I'd work with Opie during the week with the rope so by this weekend they could hopefully do more. I think it was less a case of being afraid of the rope though, and more a case of knowing his mother wasn't sitting on his back and ready to quash any naughtiness because on Monday....

"couldn't care less about this rope. where's my candy?"

I clambered aboard bareback in my boot, grabbed the rope off a jump standard, and proceeded to bounce it all over his body and chuck it through the air with barely an ear twitch. Hopefully he's as over it with Hubby as he was with me so I can bring you guys some more exciting media!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Laid Up

For once it's not my horse that's laid up, but me.


the horse is living his best life. i'd stop turning right
if someone would get me a massage.

I was bringing a horse in from turnout Saturday evening, and as I led him into his stall he body slammed me into his door (just because--horses are assholes, let's be real) which then spooked him so he jumped forward--directly off my right foot. I said many, many bad words, cried for two seconds, and then gimped around for the next forty five minutes finishing bringing horses in and feeding until I glanced down at my shoe.

BM was standing nearby so I calmly walked up to her and asked her to look at my shoe. "Is that water or is it blood?" She snatched me and hurried me into the wash stall where I buried my head in my shirt while she pulled my shoe and sock off, both of which were thoroughly saturated in blood. BM cleaned and wrapped the shit out of it and told me it probably needed stitches.

trash bag to keep dirt out and blood in.

I have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to wounds on my own body. Someone could cut their arm off and I would be totally zen helping with that. A paper cut on my skin? I will pass out. Or projectile vomit. Or both tbh. I still don't know what the outside of my toe looks like. I refuse to look at it until it's healed.

 Hubby cleaned and rewrapped it again the next morning, and Riding Bestie (a nurse) was sent some pictures; she also told me to go get stitches. Bitches ain't got time for stitches. Also I really hate going to the doctor. Also I had to go back to the barn for our hunter pace.  Sadly I had to skip the actual jumping part, but I wanted to take my favorite barn child out. I managed to get a sock and slipper over my foot and clambered aboard Dopie bareback.

i couldn't shimmy jeans over without bumping my toe
so shorts completed the look. #safetythird

We managed that without incident, my kiddo got her ribbon, and Dopie got a nice massage to top his weekend off. Then I was responsible for doing the barn again since the girl that usually does it was still on vacation. I gimped around for another couple hours feeding and dressing ponies while Hubby and the stall cleaner did the actual turning out and bringing in.

When we finally got home, there was some blood leaking through the bandage again so I had Hubby pull it off to clean it and rewrap it. At that point, he was like, "Listen, you idiot. We are going to the doctor. Right now." Ughhhhhhhhhhhh.

We got in at the Urgent Care right away, got a set of x-rays, and had a nice sit down with the doctor. Aside from the deep laceration along the nail bed (can't tell you what that looks like, I don't ever want to know), my big toe was essentially shattered. He wrapped me back up, prescribed some antibiotics, and referred me to an ortho specialist.

emotion support doggo here for your needs.
"i know i checked on you five seconds ago, but are you still
doing okay? do you need more snugs?"

I saw her this morning, and the good news is despite the multiple fracture lines and chunked off pieces, they're all in line with each other and avoided any joint damage so it will heal up all on its own without further intervention. The nail will eventually come off, but she thought the cut looked like it was doing good. The main thing was how long any soft tissue or nerve damage will take to heal. Basically it will look better before it actually feels better.

I go back in a week for a recheck to make there's still no sign of infection. In the meantime I have a walking boot so I'm mobile enough to continue making bad choices. I'm hands down the worst patient alive. Thumbs down for rehab, y'all. Ain't no one got time for that.

emotional support cat also here for all the snugs

Obviously the biggest bummer is that I can't tolerate stuffing my foot in a riding boot at the moment. I had to back out of cross country schooling Saturday and our last dressage show of the year next Sunday. I'm hoping I'll be able to tolerate pressure on my toe by the last couple of paces of the season because I'm going to be crushed if I miss out on the actual fun part of the year!

I am, however, planning on riding at the park this Sunday. I only need one stirrup for a trail ride, right?

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Dressage at the Fair

I was thrown for a loop with this show because instead of getting up at O'Dark Thirty, I sat around twiddling my thumbs cleaning out my basement until noon when I finally let myself get moving and head to the barn to bathe and braid. My first test wasn't scheduled until five in the fucking afternoon, with my last ride finishing up just after seven.

Remember how I said dressage is booming up here? Bitches love them some lower level dressage, you guys. I was the second First rider of the day--the show started at 8am and allll the rides before me were Intro and Training.Want to participate in an active dressage community? Come to Western/Central NY! (Only don't because this state is the worst.)

also our weather has no chill. after being in a drought all summer
we got a good two inches of rain in--no shit--about five minutes right
as i was getting ready to get on. good thing dopie lives for swimmies.

We pulled into the fair grounds around three, got unpacked and settled in, and was then informed that rides times had been moved back by twenty minutes. The worst. A friend and I went over to watch some tests and suss out how the horses were handling the coliseum, and she fortunately got intel that we were allowed to enter directly into the ring before the test started as a standard court takes up every inch of the ring and the riders we were watching were sticking to trotting up the long sides and having to turn around without circling the entire court--and therefore passing Satan's Altar the judge's open booth.

First 1

I got on with at most fifteen minutes of warm up time. It was more than enough to touch on everything we needed and head into the ring feeling as ready as we could be while knowing that nothing was going to prepare for the actual atmosphere of the show ring. I was hoping that since he'd shown here before he wouldn't be quite as stupid as he started out last year where he wouldn't go near the judge's stand in either test.

Yeah, we barely made it out of the chute before he threw on the brakes and tried to spin and leave because he had to pass the letter A.


I booted him past it into the ring and made him circle in front of the judge's stand until she blew the whistle. There was a lot of side eye and he was tense AF, but at least he deigned to be in its vicinity this time.

The whole test was tight, tight, tight. He didn't spook, but he was so locked up I could barely steer him. I was super fussy with my hands trying to contain the lurking giraffe just under the surface, and that made him understandably fussy with the contact. Bro doesn't let me get away with any sort of busy hands without calling me out on it loud and clear.

My entire ride was focused on managing him and getting him through without any major mistakes. The second half of his stretchy circle he actually took the stretch for a second and I was like, "Yes! Success! Now he'll take a breath and settle." No, he saw Dopie Things in the distance and lost it. Judge's comment: Minor distraction.

minor distraction is your new show name, dopes.

Usually the canter gives him some forward momentum to propel him out of the stupids, but I had nothing to work with. I tried about two strides of the lengthen before putting the kibosh on it because he instantly locked up and tried to run. I was happy to get the right lead picked up even though the transition was a mess.

Overall most of the comments were "braced" or "tight". One hundred percent accurate, and I was happy to get that test out of the way while feeling optimistic he would come out for the second one much more settled. He ended up with a 64+% for second. The horse that beat us had already done two Training tests so had the advantage there.

relax yo self

The judge was being a rock star and bombing riders through there, ignoring her breaks and giving us just enough time to make a quick tour of the ring while she finished up comments before moving on to the next. I'm sure by her 500th test she was as ready to wrap up this marathon show as much as everyone else. Guys, she judged for twelve hours straight. #beastmode We ended up going in for our second test at our originally scheduled time, and she even ditched her dinner break to get the last block of us through early.

First 3

I warmed Dopie up when the rider before me went into the ring. 10/10 less is more with this horse. I had to harass him a bit over the right lead canter, but I made it clear that under no circumstances were we picking up the wrong mother fucking lead in the change at X for the fiftieth time this season.

Opie was still a little distracted in this test, but he was actually rideable.

the were more people in the stands this time and he was very interested in them.

The leg yields were rough. At this point he basically automatically braces the second any sort of lateral work comes in. I have a body work appointment set up for him to kick things off, but this is going to need some serious attention in the off season. You've gotta stay supple, my midget friend. Those garnered a 5.5 and a 6, but the 10m circles were 7s and then!!! He hit that stretchy circle and flowed right down and around for an 8 with the comment "well done".

day of stretch days paying off!

I was able to go for the canter lengthening a little bit more this time around, but still not to the point where he's picked up big scores before. He picked up the right lead in the transition at X, but I pretty much threw his ass onto it. As I was riding it, I was like, "You fucker, I will take the 5 this is going to get over the 4 picking up the wrong lead will get IF MY FUCKING LIFE DEPENDS ON IT." Also he tried to leave the ring picking up the first canter but I cut him off at the literal pass.

opie: soulmates this way
me: not today #childsatan

Despite the couple of disorganized bobbles, it felt like a much steadier test. It scored a 63+% for another second. Just like last year, with a cooler and giant ribbons on the line, we did just enough that on any other day it would have been super results--but we got no giant prezzies. Cue my inner sad child.

Second 3

With the judge giving up her final break, there were only four rides before my final test so I stayed on and hung out in warm up feeding Opie candy. When the rider before me went in, I picked him back up and he was instantly right there. He felt really soft and loose, did a couple of tight but acceptable shoulder-ins, stepped right into the right lead canter from the walk, did a counter canter serpentine easy peasy, and we were ready to go in.

refueled by candy, he went strutting in like he owned the place

Unfortunately, the trot work is all lateral work which means all the loosey goosey went right out the window. Every comment was "tight topline" or "stiffness". Where another judge might have let a 6 slide, she tipped towards 5.5s instead with just a couple 6s for the shoulder-in. Honestly I don't even know how we got a 5.5 for the travers--they felt more like retarded on the wall leg yields.

The rein back, usually a strength to kick off the walk work, had an extra step which killed that score, and it almost had more before I goosed him with my spurs when he ignored me. Then the stupid turn on the haunches we we started off the season with 7s bombed again. The free walk was mediocre, so all those areas where we can usually make up for the tense trot work did nothing for us.

i still think he's super cute and that's all that matters

He stepped right into that canter like a boss though and finally picked up a long line of 6 and 6.5s to finish out the test. Still, only a measly 57+%. We were the only rider doing 2-3 so we at least got a blue ribbon, but there was another AA doing 2-1 who scored a 59%. You know what that means? NO COOLER AGAIN THIS YEAR. We got a consolatory reserve champion ribbon that's a good 4' long, but come on, man. My inner five year old couldn't even. 

he doesn't know the difference. he still got all the candies and snugs.

Not a bad show in the grand scheme of things, though. The judge's comments are all in line with what I know are his weaknesses right now--namely tension, but also needing more collection. He'll get there, and I think next year he'll come out feeling super confident in this test for having gotten the chance to do it several times this season.

In the meantime, we have one more show for our GMO to close out the competition year providing we don't get guilt tripped into doing a CT put on by one of Hubby's coworkers. There are lots of hunter paces on the horizon though, so fun things for the young Dopie Horse as a reward for grinding through another full year of dressaging.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The more you know

You know the old saying: The more you know, the more you wiggle. Pretty sure that's how it goes anyway.

I'm finally starting to feel like Opie has some reliable buttons on him. They're still fairly remedial in the grand scheme of dressage horse knowledge, but at the very least the concept of "leg can mean more than go" is firmly installed. The problem I run into here is that he's learned all these different ways to use his body, and sometimes he uses those powers for evil.

If he doesn't want to work as hard as I'm asking him to, his evasions are sneaky--his rib cage will subtly pop out, he'll get crooked in his hips so you think you're the one riding crooked, he'll tip his head to the inside ever so slightly, a shoulder will drop just enough to make you think you're doing something else wrong to lose the straightness.

you would be surprised how many different directions a horse's body can bend
on one 10m circle

Fortunately, riding alone all the time means I'm mostly proficient at self policing both of us. Also fortunately, that's about the least exciting form of evasion I've ever dealt with in my fucking life and everything else has been drama free.

We've mostly been chugging away at strengthening everything he already knows. Getting his Second level debut out of the way was a massive weight off my shoulders I didn't even know I was carrying. I'd planned for that show to be his debut at the level from the beginning of the year, but there was a lot of doubt right up until we went into the ring that I was going to make a complete fool out of us. With it out of the way, and another show on top of that, it's been good old fashioned basics getting hammered away at again.

Our week usually starts off with one or two short, high intensity, focused schoolings. I ask for the thing, you do the thing, there is no middle ground, sir. We focus a lot on keeping the connection steady, and really stepping under with the hind legs while bending. The butt must follow, no more cheating, sir. But more than anything I've been a complete Nazi about straightness.

I've gotten comments on several tests this year about Opie losing his shoulder, or just lacking straightness in general in a certain movement. I have about ten trillion flaws as a rider, but being straight had never been one of them. My ass sat in the center of the saddle, in the center of the horse, the end. Until I got Opie.

Remember that excruciating pain in my right hip from him travelling crooked? And then one year later my right knee also broke for the same reason? This horse finds being straight very fucking difficult, and he's very fucking good at knocking me out of alignment right along with him. We've been making square turns ninety percent of the time, and I'm constantly checking my own body to make sure I'm straight--and then therefore Dopie is also straight.

It is fucking hard work. I really don't think there's anything harder than making the simplest things absolutely perfect. But, unsurprisingly, it's paying off. The connection is so much steadier, and each ride he comes out working correctly that much faster and finding things just a little bit easier.

After a couple tough as balls works, Wednesdays are mandatory stretchy days.

We've lost our good stretchy trot circle in tests, and I know it's because I've been neglecting them at home. We still take lots of breaks on a long rein, but they've gone from "This is a stretch break" to "Take the reins and do what you want, I'm fucking whooped." I've tried to be more conscientious lately about not loafing off during breaks, but this is the third week in a row with one day being dedicated solely to stretching and I think I'll keep it like this. It's a good mental and physical break while still working on a much needed skill.

Since we're usually gearing up for a show or some sort of outing every weekend, Thursday or Friday he gets off and then he gets a super light ride the day before adventure time. We hack out after almost every ride, and he's been happy in his work.

Last week, he worked one whole day--a long stretchy warm up before popping over some tiny jumps where we worked on--wait for it!--being straight and landing on the correct lead.

We show Sunday so he'll get Friday off because tomorrow we hit the park with some barn mates for what will for sure be a good time. Running and swimmies and snacking with friends? Still out here advocating for trail riding your way to success, what can I say.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Tanglewood Dressage Schooling Show

I have some schooling/training/general riding things that I wanted to/will eventually post about, but between horse show hangover and general blog laziness I have yet to get around to it. It took me a whole week after Houghton to get back on the horse for a real ride. Not that either of us was complaining about a couple extra days off and some meandering trail rides!

Yesterday, for the first time all season, we hung a left out of the driveway and headed east instead of west. I have three now two dressage shows left this year and they're all for my GMO--a good, fun chance to get out and earn some scores towards year end awards in a much more relaxing fashion than the six rated shows that consumed the first half of the season.

he's feeling fit and feisty right now. and by feisty i mean he generally picks up the
canter on the first try. wild boi!

I felt good going into the show. While our scores showing rated weren't blowing anyone out of the water, no one else's were either and we were doing more than enough to keep up with everyone else. The competition at these schooling shows is blessedly softer, and even without that, Dopie has been feeling super in his work lately. I signed us up for 1-1, 1-3 because you need at least one score from the highest test for year end awards, and 2-3 because I want every chance I can get to ride it in a proper competition ring before winter and our narrow indoor is here for good.

The best part about this show was how little time I spent there. I had awesome ride times, and not long after pulling in, the ring steward came over to tell me they were running early and would be moving to the big ring to start our division shortly. I got dressed, got Opie tacked up, and we made our way over to warm up right as big black clouds blew in.

such a jug head

I wanted to flaunt my new grey gloves which don't go with either of my coats so show shirt it was. That was going great until the skies opened up and I was suddenly the leader of a wet t-shirt contest. I made Hubby run back to the trailer to grab my black coat and tie and we got on with warm up properly covered albeit thoroughly soaked.

ooh, he was mad

Starting warm up, he was so lazy and so behind my leg I momentarily became That Rider in the ring and pony club kicked the shit out of my horse a couple times until he was ready to rocket off my leg, and then we halted every time he tried to blow through a half halt. It was a really ugly five minutes, and I went around muttering "Sorry" to the other two riders--who honestly seemed blissfully unaware of anything untoward happening--but I came out the other side with the horse I have at home instead of a nappy, lazy, checked out toddler.

me: helloooo, are you in there?

The other riders abandoned us to go ride their test and wait ringside to go in, so Opie had to march around by himself IN THE RAIN. Thinking about it, I'm not sure I've ever showed him in the rain before. Apparently this is a big no-no. He was stomping around blowing like a dragon, occasionally dropping his head between his knees, and he finally just couldn't take the injustice of it anymore and when I went to pick up the trot one last time right before we had to go in, he was like, "I AM LEAVING THIS RAIN NOW BAI."

"i know there's a canopy at the trailer, i need to go be under it this second."


this picture is everything. 

Fortunately the rain stopped right as our test started!

First 1

The test felt a little sleepy still, but watching the video he actually looks just fine. Despite stretchy breaks during every ride, and allotting one day a week every week to a stretch-only ride, our stretchy trot circle is still missing in our tests. Annoying, and an easy way to lose points. Going to have to do more work on this before the final two shows.

Everything else went perfectly fine. It was a pretty boring, mistake-free test. We were in front of Crazy Judge who worships the ground Opie walks on--his 9 medium walk and 8 free walk--so we scored way higher than we deserved. A long line of 7s and 8s, plus an absurd 9.5 for Gaits, earned us a 73% which won handily. Whatever, I'll take those inflated scores right to the awards banquet!

He got to go back and hang out at the trailer for about half an hour before getting tacked up again to finish. We got to warm up with one rider in front of us which is exactly the right amount of time he needs. My main goal for this show was to work on my timing for warm up--not getting on too soon--and heading into the ring from warm up with purpose instead of dribbling over there and napping outside the ring for five minutes. I accomplished both of those things, and I have a much better feel for what this horse needs to put in his best test.

First 3

I haven't ridden this test since June, and I was a little worried about remembering it. Somehow I managed to make it through without error.

Another kind of boring, steady test--not a bad thing when those stupid leg yields are involved. The first leg yield was definitely a cop out on the old using your bum thing, Opie, but it got done-ish. The second one was better, but they're still not something our young Dopie Horse is interested in.

In both First tests, coming out of the walk he wants to step right into the canter like you do in 2-3, so that knocked us down a point or two for both transitions. And then that fucking stupid change of lead at X. I swear he nails it every time at home, but it's the kiss of death in a show. I don't know why, but fuck you, stupid trot change.

She really liked our lengthened/medium canters for all three tests and the lowest we scored on those the whole day was a 7.5 in 2-3. We finished this test with a 68+% for another win. That would have gotten us champion for First, but they only award Champ/Res. Champ for the highest level you show at, so--spoiler alert!--being the only Second rider I got a Champion ribbon for that instead.

warming up for 2-3

We had two riders between us before we rode our final test. I walked through the first test, and then put him back to work for the second test. I touched on the SI and haunches-in a couple times both ways and he actually felt pretty good. He's at the point where he gets the idea of them, but the suppleness and confidence are definitely lacking. He tries though, and that's all that matters!

thinking cap thoroughly engaged.

Second 3

This test felt better than the two we did at the last show. Obviously still super green, but for where my expectations are at at this point for this test, I'm super happy with it. The annoying turn on the haunches were again a write off in this test which--like the trot change at X--are something that are always there at home. Oh well, that's why I want to keep riding the test as much as I can.

Highlights include a 7.5 for the halt and rein back, an 8.5 for the first medium canter and a 9 for the transition (which was generous, but while riding it I knew it felt good). Mostly a bunch of 6s which I'm perfectly alright with right now. We ended up with a 62+%.

i'll take your blue ribbons, please and thank you

We left the barn at nine and Dopie was back out with his friends by three so a day well spent. I got my goals checked off, the horse felt good, I came home with a pile of satin, and I'm ready to close out the season on a strong note. But because I'm me, we're going to spend this week playing over jumpies before I go on vacation for a long weekend. Then the big show at the fair which we're going to work our balls off for because COOLERS AS PRIZES.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

WNYDA Summer Fest II

(I had this post ready to go out the door a couple days ago, but fancy pants pictures were needed. Thanks again to Emily of Cavaletti Photo for offering such a great deal on such incredible work!)

hands down the sweetest person ever, and she
consistently went out of her way for everyone to grab
some candid shots when she had time. i love how pleased
this kid looks after his first test of the weekend.

Oof, getting out the door at 3am for the second day in a row was tough. The one good thing was that both mornings had the most amazing displays of heat lightning illuminated by bright moonlight for the entire drive down topped off with gorgeous purplely sunrises.

Gotta find the small wins, you guys. Because my old ass needed a nap by about nine in the morning.

Our rides times on day two were also bumped up by an hour, but we actually had a gorgeous 75* and windy day. My 7:24 first ride was downright pleasant. Dopie felt much more settled coming off the trailer and had his #childgenius cap on instead of his tweaker pants.

Confident the brain was in there, I only gave him fifteen minutes for warm up and it was plenty. I ended on a good spot and asked the ring steward if the rider before me had scratched--I knew her and hadn't seen her anywhere. The office said she hadn't, and no one else had been told she was scratched, but she wasn't in any of the warm ups so I went out the gate steward and they radioed that I was going to take her spot since she wasn't there. They sent me in and around the ring we went....over and over and over.

the light at 7am made for great pics in the indoor warm
up, but it was also literally blinding while riding.

The show organizer had gone to the judge to make sure she knew who I was, and for whatever reason that caused much chaos to untangle. I don't know why. I do know my old ass did not appreciate all that extra sitting trot.

Second 3

(don't watch if you get sea sick. i think hubby was in the midst
of seizure during this one.)

Opie didn't feel quite as soft or forward for this test, and that directly lends itself to bouncing around off the contact more. He definitely had a more difficult time with the lateral work this morning as well, and our steady 6 and 6.5s from Saturday got deservedly knocked down to 5s and 5.5s. The walk work--even the TOH-- are usually a given, but he got quite stuck in both of those and that really crushed us with 4s. That was a big bummer because we got 7s on them the day before.

showing off that lovely neck

The canter work came back with a solid line of 6s even though it didn't feel great. The second counter canter serpentine I had to hold back a laugh as I finished, and talking to a friend who watched afterwards we were both like, "WOW THAT WAS SPESHUL." The balance started to careen out of control and--if it looks bad in the video, it's nothing compared to how it really went down--I had to half yank him over to finish the turn without falling over. And we almost fell over anyway. The judge's comment was "struggling on counter loop". Good lord, yes. Yes we were.

The last three movements were 7s though, and he actually scored a 7 on gaits. Her overall comment was: Needs steadier contact, but capable pair. Work to establish a supple, balanced connection. We finished with a 58% for third, actually beating people--multiple people!

there are moments in there where he looks like a real second level pone, and
not a 6yo, 18 months off the track pone

I was marginally bummed that we didn't pull a 60% out of this judge since my 61% from the day before was from the judge I already had a score from. We have allll next year at Second though, and I was so proud of my green bean for keeping his shit together and doing the thing. All his problems are just greenness and strength issues. He's perfectly capable, it just needs to grow up to score better. I'm not mad at that.

when you halt square but you have side eye for everyone

Our second test of the day wasn't until 2:28. It was a LONG FUCKING DAY. I got on earlier than I needed to in hopes that it would make the time feel like it was going faster. Nah. No such fucking luck. I chatted with the final rider of the day as we waited to close out the show, and with one rider in front of me, I got Opie going really well. He nailed the warm up. I didn't want to dial in this First test again, and really wanted to finish out the weekend knowing I had tried my best for a good score.

First 1

We got one lap around the ring before the judge rang the bell right as we passed A. Have I mentioned how much I hate when they do that? Because I really hate when they do that. I got all flustered and had to make a wonky short turn around and headed in with a trot I wasn't happy with. The judge was cool with it and gave us an 8 to start, but the rest of the test was again solid 6s and 6.5s with a 7 for the walk and a 4 for picking up the wrong canter lead.

Those quick transitions in Second get Opie paying attention and ready to roll, so he kept trying to step right back into the canter after the trot at X. He got kind of jiggy and after being shut down several times, he was all twisted up and didn't get the correct lead. I got it corrected and went right into the lengthened canter for a 6.5. Never get stuck on one movement, folks!

not being able to braid his forelock made him pretty cute actually

Final comment: Steady, obedient and balanced. Could see more elastic and expressiveness in the gaits. Good luck. A 62+% put us in fourth in another big class which left us with a 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th for the weekend. This made my rainbow ribbon heart happy.

Overall, while maybe the scores weren't as high as we've gotten in the past or that we're capable of, I'm totally calling this show a success all around. I felt like I rode four clean tests for the first time all year. There weren't any mistakes were I came out mad at myself for being a fucking idiot, or mad at my horse for not stepping up and participating.

I'm also glad I was able to get video so everyone can see that you don't need a fancy horse or to even be a particularly talented rider to participate at this level. I'm all about spreading the word of mediocrity, yo. Not that you should be delusional about your abilities--I'm the first to admit I'm a floppy weakling--or that you shouldn't be trying to train your hardest or as correctly as you can--because I do both of those things--but dressage doesn't need to be taken so seriously. (Waits for a post to come out about how dressage/training/riding should be taken super seriously because this is super serious business and you're doing your horse a super serious disservice if you ever score below a 65%.)

can't wait to work more on bringing that balance back this winter

I'm not saying settle. I am saying go the fuck out there and try the thing. Go have fun if it makes you happy. Judges will reward you everywhere they can, and the majority of them are going to give you some great comments on how to improve your weak areas.

In the meantime, Dopes and I are going to suffer through enough First tests to pick up some scores for our GMO year end awards, and keep plugging away at 2-3 so that next year it feels easy fucking peasy. But first we're gonna do some more napping.

always a pat for this side eye king

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

WNYDA Summer Fest I

Ahh, horses. While the showing went well, the lead up was not without drama. I got a text Thursday afternoon from BM that she had just brought Opie & Co. in from their field because they were running around like wild asshole stallions. That's what I get for giving my fit, young OTTB the day off! I thought to myself, and then went out to ride him at six the next morning to beat the worst of the heat. Only as soon as I opened his stall I was greeted with a puffy RH.

sometimes people get tricked into thinking he's large when he is indeed a pony

I stuck him on the longe, and within the three minutes I had him going around to assess soundness the swelling almost disappeared. He looked...fine. But just fine. If anything he looked a little tight in his butt. I cold hosed the leg anyway and gave him a bracing liniment bath before wrapping those hind legs and leaving him in front of his fan with a stuffed hay net for the day. When I went back in the evening, hoping to braid but prepared to scratch if needed, he looked perfectly alright and proceeded to be a giant toddler tool to braid--to the point where I left his forelock free to move about the cabin because after several failed attempts to put one in, I had to ear twitch him to pull it out. #childsatan #saidbadwordsinfrontofchildren #theyreusedtoit

To combat the excessive heat warnings lighting up the east coast (and all coasts, it is July, folks), show management did some awesome things for competitors (THEIR INDOOR IS AIR CONDITIONED WUT). They had extra hoses hooked up so no one had to wait to get into the wash stall, coats were waived right off the bat, there were coolers of cold water for anyone that needed one outside each ring and the volunteers were enthusiastic in offering them to people, and they moved all ride times up by an hour.

That meant I was out the door at 3am, and had parked the trailer at the show by 5:45. It also meant the school's horses were still in turnout, and when I went to unload Opie, a couple of ponies came trotting up to the fence and Opie lost his shit. He launched down the ramp, stepped all over himself, almost fell over, and then went flying backwards screaming his fool head off. And I was so proud of him for marching right on in the dark, too.

He managed to hit the one inch of exposed skin on the inside of his LF and scrape himself up, but with some quick sponging and a spritz of BluKote he was back in business. Thank fuck it wasn't on his white leg so I could hide the wound care.

the trot lengthenings are coming together

I fed him his breakfast and we went for a quick walk since someone's eyes were still bugging out of their head. His midget self was towering about ten feet above me staring at everything like he'd never shown here before even though this could basically be his second home at this point. Feeling SUPER OPTIMISTIC at this point, I put on a little Taylor Swift while I got dressed and headed over to warm up with thirty minutes of monster management time scheduled.

Turns out I needed all of five minutes before we were ready to go in. He was soft and with me, and just went ahead and did the job. During a walk break--because I had a lot of time to spare--I passed a friend and muttered under my breath, "He's so good when he's not being an asshole." Another competitor was hand walking her horse by us at the same time and started laughing hysterically. But really. Raise your hand if you can relate.

wow so cute

Second 3

I know the trot work in this test isn't yet where it needs to be to score well, but I did my best to at least keep everything where it belonged. We had a good first center line, and then actually got a 6 for the first medium trot which I will not turn down ever. The lateral work was, as always, kind of tight and stilted, but he did the movements and got 5.5s with "braced" and "unsteady".

can get wobbly when tight

The walk work-- including rein back and turns on haunches--were 6.5s and 7s which helped compensate for the trot work just like I hoped it would. The canter was a long line of 6s and 6.5s which I was happy for since the simple changes were a bit sticky in warm up, but her only comments were "needs collection" and "strung out but balanced". We finished with an 8 for the final center line and 7s for gaits and rider position. Sold!

Her final comments were: Your gaits need more power. Needs more collected frame. Correct, could be more effective. Lovely horse, work on the collection. Final score a 61+% for fifth (out of five, but the two riders in front of me were half a percent ahead).

I didn't have time to check my score before my first test because I was the first Second rider to go and had to scamper over to the other ring to finish out 1-1 with just enough time to sponge him down and offer him some water (which he wasn't interested in; he handled the heat really, really well because fitness and conditioning, y'all. Train in what you compete in!)

i got pro pics saturday but they're not ready yet so all of these are from sunday

First 1

I was so happy with getting Opie's Second level debut out of the way without making a complete fool of ourselves, I completely wrote off our First level test. Story of the year. I just can't get behind First. I hate it, I don't want to ride it, the tests sucks, it's the worst, the end. I put in enough of a warm up to say so, Opie went around and did the thing, and then we parked it outside the ring with two rides to go and chatted with the photographer while Opie cocked a hind leg and literally fell asleep.

We went in and laid down the most 6 test that ever did live. 7s for the walk broke things up, as did a 5.5 for the most beautiful but unasked for canter to walk transition over X. Save that for the other test, buddy!

Her comments were focused more on my rider mistakes which is never a bad thing because it's no secret I need all the floppy help I can get. We ended up with a 62+% which was just enough to snag the last ribbon in a giant class. Coasting by on cuteness, let's call it what it is.

We were done and on the road by 9:30 which meant Opie and I were both back inside and in front of our fan/air conditioner by 11. That was a massive relief since the heat was no joke, but we made up for it the next day with some super shitty ride times!