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!




 
Yayyy!!!!!

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? 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Night before a show

The night before the show is always important.  I'm not sure if a good school or a bad school sets the standard for the day of the show.  I've had really good schools the night before and then when my horse is alone, or I'm in a new arena it all goes down the drain.  If I have a bad school at least I know what I'm headed for and I'm not going to be disappointed with my scores. 

Tonight was phenomenal.  We had to wait out a big storm that moved through so we had time to braid the girls before we got on so we looked extra fancy.  There were plenty of Dressage people around and they seem to love wearing white polos, side reins, lunge whips, and taking up half the arena so we decided to go hack around outside.  It turned out to be a great idea, we got to warm the horses up by taking some laps around a big grassy field and both horses were wonderful.  It has been raining a ton and the grass was squishy so all we did was walk but it was peaceful. 

After the Dressage people were done lunging we were able to go into the very busy indoor arena.  Annie started out slow but tense, lots of horses, some of them pronging like antelopes.  After we got to work she was all business.  She was consistently on the bit even during the changes of direction and her transitions.  She took both canter leads quietly and at a reasonable rate of speed and had a fantastic downward transition.  She moved on into Dressage territory with a walk canter transition, some leg yielding, and some shoulder/haunches in.  I felt fancy.

After we finished up with a short school in the outdoor arena. 

I'm hoping she performs just as well tomorrow when we have to be in the outdoor alone but I'm really over the moon tonight. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

In the swing of things

I had a great day at Rolex but sadly I don't have a big list of things I bought.  I didn't really NEED much and the few things I needed I did not find.  I was looking for a girth in a 42 not sheepskin with elastic on both sides and a budget friendly show halter. 

I found a halter so nice I could have used it as a pillow at http://www.albrighthalters.com/  but it was WAY out of my price range.  http://www.centralkentuckytackandleather.com/ had nice turnout halters but without a throat snap.  Every single halter in the barn has a throat snap, makes it so much easier to take halters on and off and I'll never buy one without it.  Just like I'll never buy a leadrope with a bullsnap. 

I tried on the new Tipperary vests which were comfortable (in a youth medium!) but I already have a vest so I put this as a future purchase when they've been out for awhile and I can find one used. 

My Pentosan finally arrived and Annie is on her third shot.  I hope it's not the sudden change to warm temps that is producing the attitidue shift but Annie is going FANTASTIC!  She's not grumpy, she's not bucking, and she has so much flex in her hocks that I find myself being pushed ahead of the motion when I post.  I have also been riding in my jumping saddle as part of me thinks that my dressage saddle doesn't fit and I feel more secure riding out the bucks in it.  I really hate changing several things at once as you can't really tell what is the thing that's working.  I'm going back to the dressage saddle next week so we'll see if she continues to improve.

My next show is next week at http://comeagainfarm.com/ so I'm working hard on getting a better score in dressage, I'd like more consistent contact and better upward canter transitions.  I find that the first show of the season I'm in "as long as I stay on" mode but by the second show I'm in "I can do better!" mode.  I had hoped to get a lesson in with LAZ but with Rolex and then Penny Oaks Horse Trials she has been out of town. 

I've been focusing on dressage but I did plop over a few jumps on Friday, literally.  I'm going to suck it up and raise the fences at home a bit and see if I can get Annie more interested in putting some effort in.  Looking forward to a slightly warmer show! 

October HT wrap up

My BIG MOVE UP at the October show was a big fat fail.  This is me, dismounting off of Stella in the middle of a massive XC melt down...