Sunday, December 29, 2013

December trail ride

I'm day 77 (ok, it's more like 10) into barn managing while my friend is on stall rest.  I have a new found appreciation for people who manage large barns full of boarders and I really understand why some of those barn managers are grumpy people who drink heavily.  Time is precious and should only be spent on people who appreciate that.

As a boarder think about what you HAVE to do and what you CAN do in an extreme situation and how much it pays off in the long run.

 I've introduced most of the volunteers to feeding/stall cleaning/and turning in and out and my friend is looking at getting more volunteer help and hiring someone to do some work as well.  Everything at the barn is labeled and I have a communication board to relay notes to people in the evening in case I have a day off.  I would say that things are going smoothly but I don't want to jinx myself.  Editing to add that I freaking jinxed myself.  Communication error and the horses were turned out on a day I had off.  Luckily my very fancy and well thought out name tags remained on despite the mud *HA!* and someone who had been out to the barn twice was able to navigate 17 horses into the right stalls.

It's a long road to recovery but we'll get there before we know it. 

I managed to catch a "pleasurable" trail ride with a friend at Whitewater State Park  yesterday.  Mental note, pleasurable for some people is a leisurely 4 miles with a beer in one hand.  For others, it's 8 miles at a brisk trot.  Observe the horses selected,  if your trail companion is on an arabian you will probably not have time for beer.

But seriously it was a ton of fun and I have not trail ridden like that in years.  It was nice to be on a dead broke trail horse.  If we'd gone slow enough to keep my beer from fizzling she would have been a perfect mount and I got a kick out of the seasoned endurance horse who spooked at the wet rock.  Horses.  Sheesh.  It was a lovely day in December for a trail ride and at least a dozen other people had the exact same plans.   

Back at the barn I got a short ride in on Annie, the first time I swung a leg over her since my friend's accident.  It felt almost sinful, I'm sure there was an empty water bucket that needed filling.  I also introduced Max to a very nice dressage rider without a horse and I hope it works out as it's a great match and a good opportunity to keep Max worked.  I'm looking forward to the barn returning to my peaceful sanctuary and eventually getting back to regular riding. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Contingency Plans

I'm going to blog about what happens for that big ol "in case of."  A very good friend of mine took an innocent looking tumble off her horse and hit like a brick.  Everyone's gonna hit the ground at some point when we ride animals who think plastic bags are out to get them but I think she's good for the next 20 years.  One 911 call later and she's in the hospital with a long recovery.  I'm sure the doctor thinks that old ladies don't recover very fast but they've probably never met an old lady who rides two horses a day and cares for 19 of them so I predict a speedy recovery and back to riding sooner than anticipated.  I'm also sure that the first doctor who calls her old or tells her to find a different hobby is going to get twitched and backed out of her room.

As horse people we're lying on the ground with the paramedics inserting an IV so they can move us without too much screaming while we're explaining exactly how to undo a pair of spurs or that YES these boots have zippers and NO you are not going to cut them off.  YES the last 12 times we were in the hospital was because we were flung off/kicked/bitten/trampled or something else involving a horse.  NO it wasn't all the horse's fault (not entirely at least).  Yes I did just ask when I can get back on a horse as the ambulance doors are closing.

What happens when you get injured and you have an entire farm of responsibilities and hungry mouths?   If you're a horse person one person makes a call and before you know it dozens of people (many of whom are friends of a friend of a friend of a cousin) are putting themselves on the list for care of your horses.  People you've never met before are driving out to do hard labor.   Us horse people know how to stick together and we know how hard it is to care for our horses when we're injured and none of us could imagine our horse's suffering just because we're in the hospital with a broken femur.  Nobody got time for that. 

We're just in the beginning stages here but I thought I'd make up a list of recent observations.

  • Barn set up is key when having a bunch of strangers coming in, we may be horse people, but everyone does something different.  The trick stall door, or that dang mare who knows how to open gates is going to trip someone up.

  • How complicated and mysterious is your feed program?  Do you have 30 horses on entirely different types of grain and is their amount a mystery to everyone but you?  Having a feed chart labeled and most of your horses on the same grain can be helpful.

  • What's your turnout situation like?  Do you have a different pasture for every horse and are they all bay mares?  How can you make it easier on people who don't know that Indy has a snip and Porky has a stripe?

  • As a boarder are you willing to pitch in and water some horses or clean a couple stalls?

  • As a boarder does your horse really need to get his 23 different smartpaks if somebody's cousin from ponyclub is feeding?

  • Horse people can deal with 2 loose horses, a colicing horse, a cast horse, a river running down the barn aisle, a gate off the hinges all while being soaking wet AND covered in hay and come back the next morning at 7am because you need the help even though you never asked for it.  Because horse people are good people.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Stocking Stuffers

As I've gotten ZERO productive things done with WINTER ANNIE I'm going to make another list of last minute Christmas gifts for your horse loving friends.

We'll start with Higher Standards Leather Care  which has a 56 page thread on COTH full of fans.  A nice stocking stuffer and everybody needs to clean their tack on occasion.  You might as well support a few equestrian and use a product that smells good while doing it.

For stocking number two, everybody that shows needs a hairnet.  We've all ended up with headaches and little dents in our foreheads from the knots on our hairnets.  I discovered this product a few years ago and I'll never go back, not only that it's so durable mine has been around for several show seasons so it's well worth the price.  Get one of these No Knot Hairnets for everyone on your list.

Shop around as the price varies on these, if you go to their website,
the hairnets are actually a little more expensive but they have a really cool option of a case for holding your hairnet that contains a mirror and comb!  What a neat idea!

Here's another great stocking stuffer.  I have several rope halters, I like using them for all sorts of horsemanship reasons (even riding in them) but I HATE messing with making the knot to secure them.  Did I do it right?  Is it going to come undone?  This clever horse person has added a snap to her halters, making them simple and easy to put on.  She has lots of custom options for all your needs.  I like the wrapped (but not spiral wrapped) halter in purple with side pull rings!

Here's another great and useful gift idea, I have one of these Personalized lead ropes in green with Stanley's name on it.  I've had it for years and the color on the lead rope and the embroidery has remained vibrant and unfrayed despite daily use.  Great for boarding barns or going to shows, nobody will walk off with your leadrope again!  Just $14.99 for an 8 foot lead rope (longer styles available) in your color choice with embroidery of your choice on the end.  Nice solid snap as well!

Friday, December 6, 2013

What's on your Christmas List

With Annie slowly turning feral as work, weather, and prior commitments take up my time and desire to ride I've decided to follow in Cob Jockey's footsteps and do a 5 gifts for Xmas list post.

First up is an eventing watch from here (cheaper than buying from the US and in colors!).  A friend bought me a watch last year but it stopped working on me and I'd like to replace it.  I did get to use it twice before it kicked the bucket and I'm obviously going to have to coordinate leaving the start box and pushing the start button at the same time!  Harder then it looks!   I'm also getting to the point in my riding that I might actually have use for one!

Optimum Time Watch

A bracelet from here


This one doesn't really count as I've already ordered it, but it'll be my gift to me and will contain some of Stanley's tail hairs for a personal memory.

A custom saddlepad in my colors from here

Barb's Custom Saddle Pads

I've seen several in person at local events and they are wonderful.

Although it's not horsey I'm going to include an archery quiver so I have something to carry my arrows around in and eventually practice horseback archery with, as soon as I can hit something from the ground that is!

Back Quiver

Back Quiver 2

This dressage coat, with purple highlights!!!

Dressage coat

I'm going to break the rules a little bit and include a wish 6.  I've wanted one of these semi shaped Euro saddle pads ever since I saw them galloping around at Rolex (on a horse of course).  I think they look cool and they'll work great with my pint sized steed.

Euro Pad

What's on your Christmas list?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

October HT pictures

I got my pictures from the October HT and I'm just so thrilled with them.  It's so nice having quality pictures of you not looking like an idiot.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wheel of Death

I've been so bad about blogging lately!  Here's a brief update about where we're going and what we're doing. 

I decided to enter Annie in the November show at CAF coming up this Saturday, I wasn't sure I wanted to do another show but I had such an awesome time at the October HT that I really wanted to build on that.  Since I have not been able to catch a break with lessons recently I kept her at Starter, a little upset that I didn't meet my goal this year of BN at the end of the season but a wise decision since I have not jumped with LAZ in months and it's been hard meeting up with Rachel due to our busy schedules. 

I did enter her in the gambler's choice.  My goal being to jump the 2 foot gamblers choice then the 2' 6" if I was feeling confident.  That way I could pick and choose my fences and not have to worry about doing an entire course.  Unfortunately it looks like they are running the Gambler's Choice from highest to lowest so we'll see how I feel at the show.  It makes sense from a management perspective since they'll run it after the highest division jumps but not that helpful for me. 

So I'd like to remember my stupid stadium course at this show and maintain or better my dressage score. 

Since I have not been able to catch a lesson I decided to go ahead and set up some small fences to jump on my own (with someone supervising of course!).  For some crazy reason I decided to set up a circle of death, an exercise that has several different version.

For me this was a series of jumps on a 20m circle, for me there were three TINY fences.  I probably could have fit a 4th fence but it would probably have been beyond our skill level.   If you don't get it right the entire thing goes horribly wrong and I was more about having fun then killing myself so I kept the fences at 18 inches or less. 

First you jump a few single fences to warm up.  Then you add two fences together.  It doesn't get difficult until you add in all three fences together.  It's jump two strides jump two strides jump 4 strides jump two strides jump two strides jump four strides until you eventually get so dizzy you have to jump out of the circle.  I really had to work to fit in the third fence at first and really be very clear by continuing to turn over the top of the fence and look where I was going, which wasn't easy for me.  If you get into a good rhythm the entire exercise goes easily but once you get off it gets ugly until you fix it.  Once Annie got it she GOT it and happily jumped it off both leads although her right lead was harder.  Annie had a lot of fun, I had a lot of fun and I ended up laughing while jumping, a rare occurrence. 

The next day I was just doing flatwork and not only was Annie grumpy but I could hardly keep her on a 20 circle at the canter.  Oh how horses do things to irritate us. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

October Horse Trial

A few weeks ago Annie and I competed in our last horse trial for the season at CAF

This was a two day show, with a derby (stadium, xc, and then finish up with more stadium) on Saturday over some of the same XC fences that we'd be jumping Sunday.  Fences I've jumped before but due to some scheduling conflicts and just being plain busy I had not been out in awhile.

Here's a picture of our derby course

Annie was fantastic.  We started out cantering and cantered most of the course, I did ask her to trot fence 7.  It was on top of a hill so it looked like you were jumping into nothing and she was a little looky, plus there were people out course walking near the fence.  I felt her neck and head going up and didn't want to take the chance of her not paying attention to the fence.  Everything else she cantered like a super star.  The derby was a payback timed course with the closest rider to optimum time winning the most money going down from there. 

Sunday I had difficulty wrestling my "I JUST WENT XC!!!!!" pony into a semi suitable dressage frame.  I kind of hoped that getting the run out of her the day before would help our dressage, not so much.  Eventually I got her head out of my face and we went into the ring.  She broke in the canter but we still managed a score of 39 which is one point lower than last time out so yayyy!!!!!

I walked Stadium before dressage but wasn't able to walk again after due to the timing, and then when I forgot to read the program where it clearly stated "order of go" I was ready way way too early.  I still managed to jump the smoothest, most in control, felt like I knew what I was doing course of my life.  However, neither one of us like to wait and I feel like I totally let nerves get the better of me and let both of us down by forgetting the rest of my course 2 fences from the end.  Argggghhhhhhh   I guess at least Annie doesn't know how to count.

For cross country I made sure we weren't too early.  I ended up jumping the two XC fences left out for us once each and called us ready to go.  Annie trotted out of the start box with her ears pricked, locked onto fence one, and cantered right to it.  I had a total blast!  I felt in control and confident.  Annie was bold and brave.  I let her pick her speed, there were a few places she downshifted to the trot because she was busy looking at a few things (going through gates, past big groups of people, or into a field with some rough footing.  The rest of the time she cantered.  We cantered all our fences, we cantered past the gravel, we cantered past the run in shed.  In the back 40 our canter got a wee bit out of control and I checked an angry red pony back but we cantered. 

It was a fantastic end to our season which now feels like it ended much too soon.

You can see photos from both days here, password is Equine and feel free to let me know which ones are your favorites.  I'm in Saturday Derby, Sunday SJ, and both XC folders

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Moving On

It's been several weeks since I've made a post and something pretty cool happened with Annie but I have not felt like writing much. 

Who would think that a big beligerant horse that I hadn't ridden in 6 years would have such an effect?  I tried to turn him out in the arena just last week. 

I think, for me, I have an easy time being strong for other people because it's necessary and someone has to be the strong person.  Ask me to be strong for myself, especially after the death of my brother and I fall to pieces. 

I'm fine now now and I'm thinking about ordering one of these bracelets using some of Stanley's tail hair I removed.

My next post will be much more positive!

Friday, September 20, 2013

First horse, first loss

Today I made an easy decision that was hard to make.

11 years ago I was part leasing a 14yo TB/Appy cross named Stanley.  That's a picture of two of us shortly after I got him.  I did it because he was available, cheap, I wanted to ride more, and I was tired of getting ditched by my trainer for lessons (who I eventually left).   Six months later his owner asked me if I wanted to have him.  What else does a broke college student who has always had a dream of galloping off into the sunset say?  I took over ownership of Stanley and all his vices.
Unless you had a chain over his nose he basically dragged you around.  He didn't tie AT ALL and would throw himself to the ground to break whatever he was tied to.  If you saddled him in his stall he'd smash you into the wall.  Once you got him saddled you had to pin him in a corner between a barrel or have someone hold him or he'd take off at a canter as soon as a foot hit the stirrup.  Which was probably the only time he cantered because his previous owner was afraid to canter him so when he'd buck she'd get off him and put him away.  He'd also stand straight up if you even thought about putting him on a trailer. 
We had our ups and downs, I taught him to lead, load, and tie.  He eventually self loaded onto the trailer and was an excellent trail horse.
  He didn't blink at his first dressage show. 

He learned to jump... when he wanted to

I eventually transformed him into a handsome horse

When soundness issues made me retire him I told him he had a home for life.  I made due by riding other people's problem horses and found that I had a knack for it.  I turned them into solid citizens as well.  Stanley enjoyed retirement and giving the occasional ride to adoring children.  The girls even graduated to riding on their own, in their very own helmet.

He loved food and his favorite thing to eat were Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights and I had just bought him a box a few weeks ago. 

Over the last several weeks I had noticed a loss of topline and general slowness in Stanley.  I also noticed a ventral Edema that I thought was from a kick.  Earlier this week I noticed that he wasn't cleaning up his grain or hay, which is a big fat Stanley red flag.  I spoke to the vet and we agreed to watch him for a few days then run some blood.  I spoke to my barn manager who thought that maybe he was having trouble eating regular food and needed to go on senior.

By Thursday Night I knew that something was seriously wrong and my time with him was nearing an end.  I sat with him in the middle of the arena with his head on my lap for an hour while he slept and I patted his face.  I didn't sleep a wink Thursday night. 

Friday morning the vet came out and determined that Stanley was in heart failure.  I asked some questions about options but I knew what I had to do so I made the decision nobody likes to make.

This is Stanley not looking noble at all.  Someone gifted me a custom portrait of him and they chose this picture.  It captured his personality in every way and it now hangs in my home. 

Today I held the end of his lead rope while the vet put him down. 

Goodbye to the best/worst first horse a girl could ever have. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Dan Hobyn recap

Last weekend Annie and I went to Dan Hobyn which is probably my favorite show facility around.  It's 7 miles from home, has great XC fences, and it's just so friendly. 

Cathy was out of town that weekend so I put out a call to see if a friend who was also going could pick Annie up.  Much to my surprise and gratitude a total stranger who boarded at Dan Hobyn said she would give me a ride.  She ended up being busy doing show prep so "short trainer" Rachel picked me up in their trailer (a Corn Pro stock trailer).  Since I was trailerless I crammed all my things into my car, no easy feat in a two door coupe. 

Here's a picture of my car after the show

There was a (welcome) storm blowing in so Annie had to work in the indoor then Rachel opened the gate open and we ventured outside for a short hack in a bit of a sprinkle.  Or rather, I whacked Annie and she trembled outside. I was really happy that I was able to ride her around in a strange place she had never seen before, without another horse or person in sight and she behaved herself like a professional.   Here she is in her stall with her new (annoying) friend.

The storm changed the high temps for the day from a high of 93 to 82 so we really lucked out. 

Annie is still convinced that warming up on grass is warming up for "galloping" so we had the world's happiest 20m circles but she really stepped up her game in the ring.  I thought that it was a fairly solid test.  I felt like she was tense over her back and in her pose instead of really connected and I am still having trouble making smooth transitions.  However we ended up earning our highest score to date which was a 40 so it means that I actually broke into the %60 world for my first time ever!!!!!  40 was only good enough for last place but who cares.

Stadium was a struggle for me.  It was deceptively hilly and Annie really got rolling downhill.  I also let her stop at the brick wall.  This is how the conversation went.

Annie "Are we supposed to jump that thing?"

me  "I don't know, maybe?"

Annie "Hmmm, can I stop and sniff it first and check for monsters?"

me "Sure, whatever."


After stadium we took a nap and then we got to go XC schooling with Rachel and several of her other students.  Annie has a big forward walk so despite being the shortest one out there we lead the bunch down the trail to the back XC field.  We kind of snorted and spooked our way there since she hasn't figured out that her big walk puts her in front!

Annie grew at least 10 hands in the back field, there were a lot of horses running and jumping in varying degrees of control and a pony dumped it's kid when we got there and galloped past us headed for home.  She only stopped to look at one fence, a coop with some funny bark on it.  She jumped several log piles, other coops, and even TIRES!!!  Then we led the group back down the path toward the main show area. 

Annie was the first horse in the water.  The Dan Hobyn water is a bit spooky.  It's in a shady area and the water is very dark, there's also a big patch of mulch in front of it to provide more solid footing.  We snorted sideways all the way down to it and I had to whack her but she went right into the water.  Then another snort at the jump out of the water which had brush under it but she popped over from a walk.  When we went back through the water she trotted right into it and popped out over the log like a pro.   

After that we jumped a log and then I had selective hearing about jumping the GIGANTIC log that was next.  Unfortunately Rachel was paying attention and made me jump it again which Annie did with no problems. 

We did have a stop at the last fence, a big funny looking green barn.  I felt like she wasn't really spooking at the barn but that it was getting further and further away from her buddies and the end of the farm lane was there with possible horse eating monsters beyond.  I had to ride forward confidently and she jumped over it after that. 

Annie really needed a bath after schooling (such a sweaty animal) and it took a friend whacking her with a sponge to get her in the spooky washrack.  When she was in all I did was toss the leadrope over her back and she stood untied while I hosed her off.  Silly mare.

At the end of the day Annie's adventure wasn't quite over.  She had to ride home on another trailer, with someone else I had never met!  One of the main things that attracted me to the sport of eventing was how friendly everyone is.  I really appreciated having someone who didn't know me offer to haul my horse home.  They had a really nice Hawk trailer with a ramp, which was Annie's first ramp so she had to eyeball it before she got on but get on she did. 

It seems to have become standard for Annie to have a massage after she shows so Monday evening the massage lady came out to do Annie and I gave her the next three days off.  Sometimes I like coming home early from the barn to clean the apartment, relax, and play Candy Crush.   I've also noticed that after a hard day's work my horse gets hosed down, turned out, massaged, and a short vacation.  What do I get?  Some Alieve and right back to work.  Nice huh?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Unsuitable Horses and Unrealistic goals

I want to buy this horse here

I shall compete him at PSG

Anyone who tells me that he can't do PSG is just a stuffy Warmblood loving DQ

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dressage clinic recap and reflection

Over the weekend I attended a Lou Denizard dressage clinic

He comes in every 2 months to Greystone Equestrian Center and is capable of teaching 4th level work.  What I like about him is that he seems willing to work with any breed of horse and type of rider. In the clinic there were several warmbloods, two arabians, a fjord, and a shire.  He had heavy emphasis on being even and through in both reins and helped several riders step the level of their work and their understand of what is correct and what is really correct.  He also focused on the egagement of the hind legs, asking the horses to step evenly with both legs in the transitions into the trot and canter.  He did quite a bit of counter canter work as well. 

On my Monday ride I tried to be aware of how even Annie was in the reins.  She likes to hide from the right rein and it takes lots of activation to get her to step into them evenly.  Lou had a rider leg yield two strides onto and off the rail a few times to make the horse more even and this was a good exercise for me to practice. 

I saw lots of really great sitting trot work so I did most of my trot work sitting.  Annie is a good barometer of my ability to really sit and if I'm bouncing around she will jog like a western pleasure horse with her nose BTV making grumpy faces.  Only when my seat is still will she step up the level of her trot.  She's a bit of a smartass and will "test" me by trotting more and more forward until I lose my position and get bounced loose.  Then she slams to a halt with a big sigh.  Last night she even offered up a medium trot down the long side, followed by a buck halt transition when I got out of position. 

Her forward energy was difficult to capture and I had to work hard to not let it leak out the front door.  When I captured it I had lots of power from her engine to manage.  Half the ride she felt fantastic and the other half she jack hammered away with her nose in the air. 

I had some really nice shoulder in work as well but her canter was a bit of a hand gallop.  I'm steering clear of lead changes until I have someone's eye on the ground and I feel like she isn't going to get out of hand. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Egg timer

This was the face I had last night for a moment.  We were on right lead canter and at the exact moment Annie decided that cantering on da bit was too much to bear, pulled an arabian and stuck her head straight up in the air to regain control of pace and speed, and careened around the corner we were faced with the other rider in the ring doing a shoulder in around the corner.  I think we may have cantered up the wall a bit and I may have used a bit of a pulley rein, but we did not crash.

Annie's at this in between stage.

We go along doing some really nice dressage.  She's on the bit, she listens to my half halts, she bends, she flexes, she moves off my leg and I feel like we stand a chance at having a reasonable Training level test and maybe see First level in the Spring.

Then I think she has an egg timer under her saddlepad where she reaches her limit of being a good dressage horse and the egg timer goes off and she switches from happy dressage Annie to Grumpy Annie.

Then she sticks her nose out and pins her ears when I half halt, wobbles across the diagonal, or my personal favorite, the canter sproing.

There we are cantering on da bit at a reasonable rate of speed and DING!  It all becomes too much, she grabs the bit, sticks her nose out, and tanks off.  Steering goes out the window, speed increases, and we bank the corners.  Extra fun when someone else is in the ring.

This is not the same as what I call the "post canter face"  which is basically Annie saying that we just spent a lot of time cantering, and she'd really like to canter again and not do this stupid trotting crap.  However, it must be a canter on her terms so nose in the air at hand gallop speeds.  Until we do so I get the post canter face where I stare at the inside of her ears for the rest of the ride.

Oh well. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A difficult course of no height and an old show is back baby!

Sunday Annie got to take another LAZ lesson and she was very happy indeed.  So happy she didn't want to do any on da bit trotting and kept trying to canter.  She bravely tackled 3 groundpoles at the canter despite my worrying that we were going to face plant over them.  Since we were in a lesson with some lower level people I got to do my first couple courses over groundpoles which was amazingly difficult trying to get the correct distance and not get left behind or ahead over a jump of no height.  Once the fences were raised I think it actually got easier! 

Then we got to go out into the XC field and do a little course of XC fences cold.  It was fun! 

After our lesson she got a massage by someone studying equine massage.  Which is interesting since I don't get massages after my lessons and I think I need one more then my horse!  For some reason jumping around with LAZ makes Annie walk a little tall and my dressage school after a lesson is always puncuated with lots of "THIS BORING CANTER!!!" The massage, lesson, and a Pentosan shot and I had a fire breathing chestnut mare Tuesday.  We did some sort of sproing thing because she accidentally got herself in collected trot in her tizzy and couldn't figure out what to do with it. 

For all the moments when Annie is a total cow there are so many more moments when she's a solid horse that gives me a lot of confidence.  She's not spooky, she has a ton of whoa, and she's not afraid to go.  She settles into work and seems happy to do it (Except for dressage that is).   Sometimes I find myself grinning like an idiot when I start off nervous and then realize I have nothing to be worried about on her. 

In other news DAN HOBYN IS BACK!!!!  They stopped hosting shows for 2 years during an instructor change but when the instructor took a job in another state they decided to host a "welcome back" CT.  Thanks to the kindness of other horse people Annie gets to hitch a ride for their September 1st show and I am going to enter her in BN and look at the pre novice.  Now before my fans (If I have any!) get all excited BN is listed as 2 feet and pre novice at 2' 6"  It'll be a great opportunity to go to a strange place and jump around and a real test of her bravery and my ability to pilot her around. 

Visit their Facebook page here for information about the show.  I'll be there, will you?

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Man, it's steamy outside.  As a result I've been spectacularly unmotivated.  I've piddled around not getting real serious about much (although we had some wicked nice right lead canter departs a couple weeks ago). 

I rode Annie in a rope halter

and was pleased to see that she did still have brakes.

Then I convinced Cathy to take Penny out on a trail ride for "Annie Bravery Purposes."  LAZ said that hacking out would help Annie in the bravery department XC since everything was a problem but the fences.

We headed out to  Southwestway yesterday while it was a balmy 91.!/groups/204530125309/

For those who have never been, first, change that!  It's a great park inside the city that's a multi use trail.  Mountain bikes, people, and horses.  It has some great views of ravines and the river, flat open spaces for galloping, and plenty of hills for working on butt muscles. 

There isn't a huge parking area and we've never actually met other horses there although I've had plenty of friends who have been. 

Annie was a very brave horse, leading most of the way.  We stopped dead at our first patch of mountain bikers and I had to motivate her with my stick (Thank gosh I brought it!) after that the motivations decreased until she was fine.  I rode her on the buckle with her head well below her withers and when we struck up a trot she stayed in control and down shifted easily.  Except for giving the park benches the hairy arabian eyeball (un nature in the middle of nature?  how unnatural) she was super.

All the mountain bikers we met were fantastic, stopping off to the side or even getting off their bikes and pushing them. Thanks guys! 

We did meet some people walking loose dogs and a friend we were with shouted "I don't know about these horses but mine kicks dogs!"  She really didn't, but it made the owners collect their lab from under Annie's legs.  Leash your dogs people! 

All in all we had a fantastic time for just 17 miles from home.  Penny was fantastic for her first trail ride, and it was great having Lynne's horse Twigs there as the experienced endurance horse in case we got stuck anywhere. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

No stops who cares about time faults

I had two goals for this show

1.  No stops XC or stadium

2. Don't get eliminated

We had a steady and fairly normal dressage test, Annie warms up well but she's still not obedient enough in the dressage ring to not want to have her head up and look at things.  We've been working really hard on our trot canter transitions and she NAILED both of those, even her right lead.  We ended up tied for 4th which was fantastic.

I got to meet Cobjockey in person for the first time, she was on her way to dressage and I was on my way back from dressage and the conversation went like this "Hi, are you cobjockey? I'm weanieeventer!" I'm sure it sounded odd to outsiders.

LAZ arrived in time to warm us up for show jumping which was a good thing as I was slowly beginning to panic.  All Annie wanted to do was nap behind the bit and then canter off and I didn't feel comfortable at all.  LAZ told me to select the gait I wanted, insist on it, and ride her into the bit in it.  I think she made us jump the stupid oxer more then we ever have before all shows totalled up together!

Annie was pretty good show jumping, she did gawk at a few things so I brought her down to the trot when she was on the wrong lead but we cantered most of it just fine.  Fence 7 I had decided would be our bogey fence.  It was larger (to me), very bright, and at the side of the ring with the most activity.  I keep my eyes up, my leg on, and RODE MY PATH.  Annie really wanted to wiggle out of it but I didn't let her.  It also really helped having LAZ standing right next to the fence, nothing motivates you more then not stopping at a fence right in front of your trainer!

Here's a nice picture taken by LAZ.

We ended up double clear after stadium (I usually have time so yayyy!!!) and still tied for 4th.

I was mostly calm for XC warm up, even when LAZ had me canter down to the oxer and vertical.  Sigh.

We cracked right off out of the start box and jumped fence one boldly.....  then ground to a halt.  Trees, bushes, open spaces, and mud.  I whacked and whacked and kicked and eventually motivated Annie.  Then there was some mud in front of fence two, more whacking and I think we jumped fence 2 sideways. 

Then there was more mood, stone dust footing, and A GOLF CART lurking menacingly in the woods.

Eventually I got her feet moving again and we jumped fence 3, the bank.  This is us looking like we're out for a park horse class and not a HT.  This picture kindly taken by  who I got to meet in person.

We made it into the open field and we were on a roll.  I could be heard saying things like "That's none of your business over there, you do your job" and "See the fence Annie?  Jump that fence!"

Then we came to our bogey fence
It was large, weird looking, the footing was torn to heck in front of it, and it was covered in mud.  I kept my eyes up, my leg on, and my hands down and I'll be dammed if we didn't just canter right over it.  WOO!!  Totally badass.

Then we slammed to a halt on the road to the water.  The footing was different, there were cars, and people, and so many things to look at!  WHACK! WHACK!  Go Annie!  Move your feet Annie!  Come on Annie! 

After I got her moving we snorted all the way to the water, which I decided to take the option on.  With as many time faults as we had I didn't want to risk a stop at the water even though she'd never had a problem with water schooling and at our last HT (which she'd schooled through before) I figured better safe then sorry.  Next time.

After that we were on a roll and found our groove, over the last two fences.  We finished with an obscene amount of time penalties but since everyone else had stops it was good enough for 5th place.

So, what have we learned? 

I was very very happy with our placing.  Annie has only ever schooled at LAZ's place and she doesn't get out much besides that.  We need to get out different places to increase her confidence in scary new places.  I'm better at riding my plan and I kept thinking "over under or through" in my head.  I didn't back off to any of my fences and kept my hands down.  Dressage will come with more miles.  I'm really looking forward to the next time we can get out there and attack it!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The canter pole, or 5 steps backward.

One of the good things that came from my HT a few weeks ago were all the compliments I got on my position, confidence (ha, little did they know!), and a few compliments on Annie's flying lead changes.

Wait a minute.


Apparently.  I had pretty much decided we would just be doing simple changes or "counter cantering" as she would never figure it out.  So now I have a new goal. 

I found this excellent video of a rider teaching her horse changes.  I like the use of the pole to help with the jump in the change, and the guide rails to keep the horse straight.

So I set up a pole in the middle of the ring and set about cantering over it. To the left we were reasonable.  To the right... well I'm glad nobody was there to see it.  The few times Annie actually steered well enough to actually make it somewhere near the 9 foot long pole we ski jumped over it.  So much for working on lead changes.  We just needed to work on cantering without falling over.

I've been working on contact in the transitions or the more basic version of "can you please put your nose somewhere not straight up in the air?"  Annie has a lovely immediate halt (SLAM!) from the walk or the trot, I drop my seat, still my back and she stops.  Ask her to stop on the bit and she has a hissy fit (look, rhyming!).  She grinds, pulls, and shuffles until she gets enough rein to stop with her nose up.  I half halt, drop my seat, close my hands on the reins without pulling, put my leg on.  Squat.  Negative squat.  Just pulling.  I started holding onto the bucking strap to keep her from pulling the reins loose, at least it would give her some space to work in. 

She one upped me by physically pulling me out of the saddle and over the cantle.   

Oh, this will not do.  Not only is it ugly but I don't want to make a hard mouth and I'm obviously not getting through to her. 

I've also noticed that she tries to slam to the stop whenever she hits the bit and I think that I'm teaching her to stop by my hand which is sort of what I want but not really.  I don't want to half halt or accidentally grab on the way to a fence and have her obediently stop.  Lord knows we have enough problems. 

So I reached into my spare tack trunk (one of three) and pulled out my German.  Martingale that is.  Although I wish I had a stuffy German dressage master in there for help.  I like the GM because it is a self correcting tool.  When the horse is where you want them the martingale dangles loose, but when the horse hits the end the pulley action is immediate and self correcting without any hand use from you.  I end up using it for 3 or 4 rides and then pack it away again.

So on Annie it goes. At the trot every time she hit it she would try to stop so I had to remember to keep my leg on.

I had a really hard time getting her to pick up her canter because the martingale gently insisted on keeping her head out of the sky.  Not cranked to her chest mind you.  I took 3 canter transitions to the left and then gritted my teeth and turned to the right. 

Let's just say that when she tripped over the pole and came up on her right lead I praised her and called it a night! 

I put it on again the next night and it didn't come into play except for a few times at the trot so I'm hoping that it will be a gentle and easy way to explain to her that what I want is not bad and is actually possible. 

I will ride in it again on Monday then ride in my jumping saddle Tuesday and just do some hand galloping, then leave it off Wednesday and see what we've got. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Sunday was the CAF HT.

Saturday night I figured out that grass = eating or galloping to Annie but DOES NOT equal dressaging so we warmed up Sunday morning in the indoor. 

I was pretty happy with most of the test, she picked up both her leads with her head down (YEAHHH) but got slow enough in the right lead despite all my leg on her that I popped her with the whip and made her buck so we got a 3 for that movement.

Despite that we came in 6th out of 11 which was pretty darn good for us.

Stadium warm up was crazy.  I HATE warming up with a bunch of people and I would rather jump two or three fences and get out of there before I screwed something up but that didn't happen.   For some reason I have a huge problem with airy oxers in warm ups, I would rather not jump the oxer at all unless I am feeling confident up to that point which I was not at all.  I have more of an issue with the warm up oxers and less of an issue with filled in oxers in the ring.  This is how big my oxer was.  Or at least appeared to be.  It may have been wider.

I had to pull up several times because people either cut me off or were screaming their fences from down the road and around the corner.  I don't understand how some people don't call their fences, some do, and others call from a mile away.  I'd already landed in a heap over the vertical and crossrail and I was totally frazzled having to canter everything. 

So by the time I actually cantered down to the oxer I didn't WANT TO DO IT.  I think if I was able to take my time and trot to it I would have been fine, enough time to think and enough time to put my leg on and urge Annie onward.  I feel like my cantering courses is just now coming together and I feel like I'm out of control cantering the long spot of a warm up fence.  So we stopped.  Twice. 
Someone told me to do it again but by this point I was pretty much done.  Then someone was screaming at me to move as we stopped right in front of another fence and they were apparently not going to circle so I screamed at them.  Then apologized, but still. 

Luckily someone took pity on me and lowered the rail which I then trotted and the circled back and trotted it with the rail up.  After that I was pretty unnerved and only jumped another fence because someone made me.

So in the ring I let Annie stop at an oxer gate.  It was next to the warm up and she kind of looked in that direction and I figured she was going to stop anyway so I might as well not be belting down toward it so I let her.  The rest of the course rode well until the final fence, which a bunch of other people had problems with.  It was new and had words on it and came out of a corner and everyone else was stopping so why shouldn't I?  So once again I cantered down to it out of the corner riding backwards expecting a stop but not being proactive enough and she stopped. Twice. 

Here's the gate we stopped at.  After she stopped I did a circle and jumped it while yelling at her to GET!!!

So now I was officially out of any ribbon and got the big E.

XC warm up I went back to my official strategy.  Stay calm, jump as few fences as possible, then go.  I jumped the log twice and the crossrail once. 

LAZ had put gravel in front of the first fence to cover up an unsafe patch of ground and this proved to be the most challenging element.  Annie spun around, backed up, and then finally crept sideways around the gravel to climb over the first fence from a standstill.  More gravel before fence 2 and more snoring then she finally realized what we were doing and she was all business.  She pulled me toward all the fences and even trotted through the water without even a bit of hesitation.

So I'm happy with XC and Dressage but upset about show jumping.  I don't know what to do about the warmup.  Should I continue to do things in warm up that bother me because real eventers don't just trot two fences ignore the oxer and go in?  Or do I stay in my comfort zone in warm up until I'm comfortable enough to do more?  I'm fine cantering my course now because I've been doing that so does that mean that I'm not allowed to trot anything in warm up?  All I know is if I get rattled in warm up it's over. 

All photos courtesy of LAZ who not only runs the entire show but takes pictures as well!  As usual the food and the weather were fantastic!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Filling the holes I dug

Last Sunday I had another lesson with LAZ, once again we were with friends with green horses (wait a minute, I'm not on the green horse anymore?) so as soon as everyone warmed up I went out to gallop some XC fences.

Well, not gallop but we sure did canter everything.  Even if I had to carefully monitor my breathing to make sure I was still doing it. 

We cantered our first warm up fence and then proceeded to canter over everything out on the XC course without trotting anything first.  ACK!!!

A big BIG step for me.  After we had jumped all the starter size fences  LAZ had us jumping some BN fences which I immediately stopped riding over causing Annie to go around. 

Annie's not a dirty horse, and I think she's pretty honest, but she doesn't do things like lock onto fences without input and guidance from me and if my heart's not into it she's ok with not putting out the effort.   I do this thing where I am nervous about the size of the fence and what will happen if we stop in front of it or get in bad and don't make it over and I rationalize that if that is what is going to happen I shouldn't be gung hoing it down to the base since things are worse when you are going faster so I stop riding and let the stop happen.  Yet when I RODE those fences Annie wasn't concerned.  She wasn't wiggly, she wasn't spooky, she didn't over jump them. 

Same issue when LAZ upped my stadium fences after we took a break for the other riders to go.  Those were some BIG fences (somewhere between 2' 6" and 2' 9") and I certainly didn't march confidently toward them.  They were much bigger then the XC fences and while I thought I was fine cantering toward the line I decided a stride away I wasn't really that into it.  I was just fine with my small fences and I totally wasn't serious about moving up a division.    I made that line HARD.  I had to ride over the first fence, and then march down the line over the second fence and once Annie realized I wasn't really that into it my task became harder and I had to convince myself it was possible and Annie that I really meant it.  In the end the height wasn't really an issue for Annie, the motivation from me was. 

This was a tough lesson, requiring me to really step up my game especially when I was pushed outside my comfort zone with the height of the fences.  When I was confident and rode to the base with my eye on the fence Annie didn't have a problem, but she's not going over if she doesn't feel confidence from me.  So it was not a confident building lesson before a show by being an easy lesson where we coasted over everything, but a "these are the holes in my riding and when I plug those holes I have no problems" kind of lesson.   A very important lesson to learn because I obviously still have issues with not riding to the base and giving Annie a positive ride. 

On another note those stadium fences were the biggest fences I think I have ever jumped.  Or that Annie has ever jumped.  So that is an accomplishment in itself. 

I'm looking forward to the CAF HT.  My goal is to make time in Stadium by cantering everything.  My goal XC is to canter as much of my course as possible and not have any run outs caused by not riding.  I'd like to make time but not at the cost of losing control over my fences. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Seasoned Eventers

In my Saturday lesson with LAZ Annie and I were the seasoned eventing pair, with Cathy on Penny and Amy on Chaplin, both green horses.  I jokingly let both of them know that I would be there to show them how it was done, and I think that Annie let it all go to her head.

We started out right off the bat with jumping a crossrail then rolling right into a line which I cantered out of!  No jumping one fence several times to warm up.  Then we cantered to all the other fences, not having trotted over them before, which is huge for me.  Annie boldly cantered over the gate and both of the panels.  I was able to sit up, think about riding to my fence, and having a supportive leg to get her straight and forward to the fence, and I swear I felt myself folding in the air like a little hunter princess. 

Today since I appeared to be so confident !!!!!!!!  We worked more on line and approach.  Counting our strides to the fence, how far out to look to see the fence, when to turn, etc.   LAZ even took her life into her own hands by standing in my way so I knew when to turn.  Nothing like the fear of flattening your instructor to make you plan a turn!   LAZ must've heard that I was interested in moving up as she discussed the things I needed to do to make for a nice BN round.  We added in a two stride line, which we've jumped at home before, but not out here in the big open arena where I actually had to (god forbid) navigate through.  Annie ran out once, then again just because she could, and LAZ finally stood at the end of the line to give me a focus point.  It really helped me to understand that you have to see the end of the line before you jump into the line in order to make it through. 

After that we took a long break and just stood and chilled with the other two horses worked over some simple courses of poles and X rails. 

When they were finished I got to jump up both sides of the bank with no problems at all, then we went out into the mare field with the water jump.  I think I've only done the water there as well as one small fence but today we strung together several fences in a row (which I trotted, but still!) that we had never seen before.  Annie felt much different out in the field, kind of drunken sailor like.  She didn't have any problems with the fences but I definitely had to make sure that I kept her in my tunnel of aids.  Towards the end she wanted to canter a bit but I kept her to a trot since the grass was very long and I didn't want her to stumble and fall. 

After that I asked LAZ if we were good to enter Starter so she pointed at this slightly enormous grey thing and told us to jump it.  I stared it down the entire way with my leg off and decided to pull out (read: chicken out) at the last second because I felt like (well a chicken) I wasn't giving her enough support.  We circled back and jumped it twice without any issues.  Then we finished up over the red and white library which is probably the widest thing we've jumped XC and the jump that made me skip the May Flowers Derby because I was worried about "making it over."  Guess what?  No problemo!

One of the most important things I realized today (and a bit the last time we jumped) is that Annie will jump anything I point her at confidently as long as I am confident.  So all in all I feel like I'm on a 17 hand horse and not almost a pony and we are ready to Rock N Roll at the June HT. 

No pictures or video since everyone was on a horse! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Showing Schedule

After my confident ride at CAF for the May Flowers show I was looking forward to (and slightly dreading) Leg Up.  It's a fancy place with a fancy atmosphere and it tends to make my knees quake a bit.

Luckily a fantastic opportunity has come up and it looks like I'll be able to get to the June CAF HT.  I think it'll be an excellent place to get another show jumping round in, as well as get more confident on a full XC course.  I need to really look at my budget especially given that unfortunate speeding ticket I need to pay soon.  Suck.  Although we did Dan Hobyn last year (sniff, miss that place already) it was their version of Starter and nothing was over 18 inches.  It also really doesn't go "away" from the crowd much so I don't think it brings up any issues you might have with leaving "home." 

I'd really like to get more comfortable cantering my XC fences (or at least between them) so we don't rack up as many time penalties as we have in the past.  I would have came in 1st or 2nd the last two times I went to Leg Up with Nikki had it not been for all the trotting on the XC course.  As it was we finished a respectable 4th and 3rd so nothing to complain about.  I feel mostly comfortable cantering Annie out in the open and I'm hoping we get to do a little XC under an expert eye this weekend so I can work on that some more.  I worry mostly about my support for her in any spooky fence instances. 

After that Leg Up on June 29th.

Also, drum roll please........ depending on how the next two shows go I'd like to do BN stadium at the CAF August show.  Last year in November those BN fences only went up one whole hole from my Starter fences and we've already had some practice over the panels.  Probably not ready for BN XC by August but I'd really like to move toward BN. 

So there you go.  I'll know more about the June show after my lesson this weekend, I've decided to wait until then, look at finances, and talk to LAZ about which division she thinks I should be in.  The GAG is awful small, but we all know how much bigger fences look on competition day. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

May Flowers show

Well, I can now say that a successful school the night before a show has nothing to do with the actual dressage test you end up riding!  Oh well.  It may be May (HA!) but it was still cold so I ended up leaving my fleece jacket on and showing in that.   I thought that my braid came out really well this time although I really need some nicer cold weather and/or wet weather show stuff. 

I had to take Annie to the other indoor to warm up for dressage as people were lunging in the first one.  She snorted for about 10 minutes until she finally settled down and I got some good work out of her, not as nice as the night before, but not bad. 

My suspicions are confirmed that Annie has memorized her dressage test and has figured out that I don't whack her in the dressage ring as she started sucking back almost immediately.  You can see me doing some light whacking and kicking in the video (which is all blurry for some reason).  She tried to pick up her canter ahead of time and made mare faces, and she tried to grind to a halt a few times.

Her canter wasn't too bad though.

After we came down from the right lead canter she almost stopped.  I put leg on, then kicked and she sucked back behind the bit and sulked.  So not wanting to make this a repeat situation for the next show I whacked her.

She gave me mare face and bucked a bit so I figured we were already screwed and I could just go ahead and whack away. Especially since instead of going forward she sulked.   So I really whacked her.

So we came in dead last.  Again.

After that we moved onto jumping.  I was confident and in control warming up for show jumping.  Usually I'm going AHHHHHHH Let's get this over with as fast as possible!

I walked into the ring still calm.  Here are our jumping faces.  Annie's is much cuter. All jumping photos by Lee Ann Zobbe.

and had a not very fast but organized, calm, and FUN round over fences!


We ended up with a 4th place ribbon, which is one notch up from Heartland and NOT LAST!!

After that we did a little XC schooling, which was shortened up by a storm coming in and me falling off.  On the grass.  Not going over a fence.  Or near a fence.  Annie tripped and fell over something on the ground and went all the way down and I came right off.  A little bit of whiplash, a sore shoulder (my bum one, why is it always the bum one?) and what I am pretty sure is a hoofprint shaped bruise on my inner thigh.

I did end up jumping a few XC fences and trotting through the water, and after much encouragement I jumped out of the water up the bank!!!!!!

So we have more work to do in our dressage tests, maybe doing a different test at the next show?  I'd also like to canter my entire round next time since I felt so secure and comfortable at this show.  Then after that maybe BN? 


 Hello all,  Life has been busy and I have not felt I've had anything worth blogging about.  Or that my blog is particularly interestin...