Monday, May 26, 2014

ACK!!!! Rolltop!!!! Or Sabrina and Annie show BN and live to tell about it.

Sunday Annie and I competed at Dan Hobyn Stables in our very first BN combined test (that would be dressage and show jumping).  These folks are celebrating their 45th year in the business of teaching people to jump cross country fences and they are a wonderful group of people.  I always have a ton of fun when I show there.

As long as you don't include me not sleeping at all the night before and having Jurassic Age size butterflies rampaging around my tummy.  I had chosen Dan Hobyn because it is fun, friendly, and laid back.  It has a BN course that has a lot of the elements of a BN course but doesn't tend to be maxed out. It still didn't mean I didn't want to ralph all over my Mountain Horses warming up for stadium.  

It's a tie to your trailer kind of place, which Annie seems to like because trailer hay is better than stall hay.


Dressage went exactly as expected.  Annie takes longer to gear down in a field because fields are for jumping idiot.  Plus we hadn't exactly been dressaging our way down the trails for our endurance ride.  The dressage ring is by a road and I expected to lose her attention if a car drove by, which it did.  What I was able to do however, is to continue to develop my "warm up smarter stupid" strategy.  Not just sitting like a lump but incorporating serpentines, changes of direction, and transitions into my warm up to capture her attention.  I believe in being honest about the skills we brought to the dressage ring and accepting the scores I deserve.  

I wasn't there for the dressage though.

We went straight over from dressage to jumping, I had time to do a quick tack change but it wasn't necessarily and I tend to be a "let's get it over with" type of person.  

I wouldn't call the course "beefy" but I would call it "looky"  it's set in a grass field and there are lots of ups and downs, not very noticeable to the naked eye, but enough that you can get rolling downhill and lose control.  It had LOTS of filler that we had never jumped before, and it's not our regular place so it was all unfamiliar.  

With two rolltops (ACK!!!!!  I dreamed about these, let me be honest with you), a brick wall, a panel, and a gate oxer it proved to be a good test of how badly I wanted to do this, how well I rode, and how game Annie was.  

The first two fences Annie gave some room but not a big look, coming down to the rolltop I could feel her question me "Are we jumping that?!  Are you sure?!  Like for serious sure?!  WELL OK HANG ON COWABUNGA!!!!!!



She questioned me at most of the other fences as well but was game as long as I was game and I could feel her raise up higher and higher in front on approach and drive her hindquarters under.  It's a really cool feeling of power and being game but it's also a little scary because all of a sudden I'm jumping a fire breathing dragon over a castle.  It's quite a bit of power in such a little body.  If I wanted her to go over, she'd go over, but she wasn't going to skim over anything.

And then we were done.  My legs shook, my adrenalin pumped, I had forgotten to count over half the fences.  But I stayed on!!!  And we didn't stop!!! AND WE DIDN'T FINISH LAST!!!! 

Next time, we jump the moon!!!!

Video, as long as you promise to not laugh at my spazzy behavior.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Endurance Race

I've got to stop saying YES!  SURE!  to people during the dead of winter.  It makes me do crazy things like herd cattle or enter an endurance ride.

Last weekend I went with a few friends to an endurance race at Mid West a private trail riding property with trails connecting to the Hoosier National Forest.  A place where cell phone coverage has not yet reached.

With showers, a hot breakfast, real toilets, and electric hook ups for the trailer it made our camping trip not so primitive.  It was great having heat in the trailer when the night time temps dipped into the lower 30s.  Some of the tent campers said they saw snow.  Poor tent campers.  Wouldn't doubt it, stupid winter that will never end.

They even have stalls for your horses


You can't see it, but there's a campfire burning right behind Annie's stall.  Good Annie.

Our "race" wasn't really a race and it wasn't really "endurance" as we were "only" doing 15 miles.  The big boys were doing 25 and 50 miles, some of them did 25 on Friday and 50 on Saturday.  Because they're nuts.

Endurance starts off like three day eventing.  First, you have to present your horse to the vet who takes down vital information on your vet card.  This is Annie's vet card for post race but it was the same pre race.  She got all "As" except for gut sounds.  She's not a big breakfast eater.  After the race I got lots of advice like feeding soaked beat pulp the night before and carrying along carrots that were soaked overnight in water and feeding them to her on the trail.  After you do get your card you jog for the vet and then if you pass you get to use a grease marker to write your entry number on your horse's butt.  Much different from a bridle number.


We didn't go very fast.  It had rained very hard over the last several days and some of the trail bottoms had mud up past the horse's fetlocks.  We still did quite a bit of trotting.  Oh my knees.  I didn't want to cause any injury doing something stupid.  The terrain was varied, with some flat stretches followed by climbing and descending steep hills.  Even a few switchback trails down the sides of ravines.  Multiple water crossings, some fairly deep.


It certainly was no Cougar Rock at the Tevis Cup


but it wasn't no central Indiana flatsville.

We even got lapped by the people doing 50 miles. They came cantering by, both horse and rider looking lean and fit like marathon racers.  Biothane bridles, endurance saddles, sponges on ropes.

We finished 15 miles in 3 hours and 45 minutes.  Not fast by any definition of the word but we weren't last!  Getting off to walk Annie over some big rocks and across the finish (she'd already carried my butt far enough) I almost hit the ground, and had she spooked and took off I'd have been left in the dust.

After the ride you have 10 minutes once you cross the finish line to vet in.  They take your horse's heart rate and it has to be below a certain number, in our case 60.  We came in at 36 which the vet was very complimentary about.  They go down the same marks on the card and you have to jog again, no easy feat after 15 miles of posting trot and 2 point up hills.  Annie even did the whole ride barefoot all around where most of the other horses there had boots or shoes on, yeah to good feet and great farriers.

Then you take care of your horse and collapse into a pile.

Annie showed zero effects of her ride, and I even got her a massage just to make sure.  Wish someone gave me a massage.  I got some Aleive.

Would I do it again?  Sure.  Would I do more miles?  No way in heck.  We aren't sponge on a rope carrying endurance riders.  I did tick one more thing off my horsey bucket list.




Friday, May 16, 2014

I scored a what?!?!

After Heartland I made a decision to work hard on our dressage at home.  Transitions and connection have been my biggest hurdle to cross so in the 3 weeks between my next show I vowed to work hard on those things.

I've also developed a plan for my dressage warm up.  What?  Not just madly bounce around the warm up until it was time for my test?  Instead I worked on getting the connection by doing lots and lots of transitions between gaits and insisting on being connected and soft.  My warm up wasn't nearly as nice as what we've been getting at home.  Even though Annie is very comfortable with Come Again Farms, schooling in a field is different from schooling in the indoor at home.  We're on GRASS!!!! in the great outdoors and there is lots to look at.  I worked on using the several different connected fields, staying away from any horse having hysterics, and pushing hard for the connection.

I also developed a "enter the ring" plan. How was I going to use my time schooling in the ring before the judge rung the bell?  How was I going to exit the ring, turn around, and enter at A while keeping my connection during that tight turn?

It felt like a nice test.  There wasn't any bucking!!!!!  My trot walk transition RIGHT in front of the judge at A was fantastic.  My transitions to the canter were disconnected, which I expected, but my downward transitions were "not that bad" considering that we usually motorbike through them.

I got a few compliments leaving the ring, just people being nice I thought.

Standing around watching the lower division (I LOVE that there's actually a "lower division!") someone who knew me came up and asked

"Are you the person riding Annie? Did you look at your dressage score?"

"You're in first."

WHAT?  Pfffft.  No way.  Like did everyone else fall off?

Standing there looking at my dressage score I got a little teary eyed.  I was hoping for a 38 or maybe a 37.  Whatever, just out of the 40s.  But a 31?  In dressage?  ME?  ANNIE?

I was very proud of our work and very very happy!!!


For show jumping I continued on with my warm up plan.  Jump three or four fences, test breaks and gas, and get the heck out of the warm up before I got flattened or lost my nerve.

I also had a different goal.  I wanted to WIN.  I wanted a blue ribbon.  Annie's first blue ribbon at a CT.  I wanted to finish on my God Damn dressage score.  ME.  I came into the ring in the best way possible to show Annie the ring.  I counted in my head THE ENTIRE TIME.

ONE TWO ONE TWO ONE TWO THREE release damn it.  ONE TWO ONE TWO.....

I thought about my use of the ring, keeping her attention in any places she might get distracted, my rhythm, my flow.

Clear round.  Blue Ribbon.  Fireworks!  Victory Gallop! (not really).


What's next? Did I really enter BN at Dan Hobyn?  Am I going to throw up?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Rolex purchase

I always have a great time at Rolex, it's like Mecca for eventers.  Without a bunch of things on my shopping list I was struggling to burn through the money in my wallet, until that faithful moment.

I've been kicking around the idea of a new dressage coat.  I have one, but you can't have just one coat.  I wanted a navy one with sparkly buttons from Horze

I also looked at this coat from smartpakequine.com


both fantastic stretchy softshell coats that fit my wonderfully.

If any of you have been following my blog for awhile now (gosh I hope so) you'll remember this post from Xmas when I talked about a few of my "wants."

What's on your Christmas List?

I posted a stunning dressage coat from England with purple highlights.  Drool.

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon that exact same coat at VTO Saddlery.

I tried it on.  Fit me like it was made for me.  I put it down to think about it.  I milled about the shop.  I didn't NEED a coat.  Although it was WAY cheaper than a bunch of coats I've seen it's still a chunk of change and frankly I'm a bit stingy spending my money.

Then I had a moment of giddy weakeness and found myself carrying around the coat with a big stupid grin on my face.  Then checking out with the coat in hand.  MINE!!!!

I'm glad I did.  It's exactly me.

It's also popped  up EVERYWHERE.

Behind The Bit Blog  showcased it in a post.

It even showed up on the famous Eventing Nation

Now, will I ride well enough to deserve it?  Who knows.

Will I get extra points for wearing it?  "I'd give you a three for whatever the hell movement that was supposed to be, but stunning coat so here's a 5!"

and most importantly, can I find a stock tie to compliment it?!!!

This stock almost works, but it's cream and wouldn't match my breeches.