Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Menacing blades of grass


Stella and I went out for another solo ride Saturday after our plans to camp fell through when one person had truck trouble and the other was out of town.  I couldn't find anyone who wanted to go with me close to home so I decided to take Stella out for a longer ride by herself.

Once again we were the only horse at the park, it was very busy Saturday with lots of people at the baseball fields, and a big tent set up at the trailhead for a mountain bike work day with lots and lots of bikers around.

This was the first time in quite awhile that I've ridden Stella up from the trailer, since she was so balky last summer I dealt with it by leading her up to the trailhead and about 50 feet down the trails, then getting on. Today I figured what the heck and to my pleasure she didn't have a problem besides some snorting.

The first trail we hit is along the ridgeline, is very twisty turny, and has a steep drop off.  Nothing to worry about as Stella was great!!

After that we headed to a nice doubletrack trail so we could do some trotting.  First we came across a deer which didn't go as horrible as I thought!  I caught this on my helmet cam for your enjoyment.

A few minutes later we came to screeching halt.  Stella was intently staring at something and would not budge.  I looked and looked as she has gotten pretty good with all the suspicious rocks and logs.  Finally I saw what had my horse shaking in her socks.....

A blade of grass with a fluffy top.

Serious.

Some whacking and clucking and I got her moving again, she wasn't quite as dramatic at the second blade of grass and after that she was good.  I did quite a bit of trotting, tested the brakes a few times, and even trotted right past the short cut she usually has a fit at.

After we came out into the parking area I decided to ride her back up to the trailhead to reinforce the I'm In Charge.  She was reluctant but didn't put up too big of a fight.

Then I rode  her down toward the baseball diamonds but didn't get too close.

Overall I was quite pleased with her, she's so much more confident on the trails than last year and she is getting stuck less and less.

I hope you enjoy the video and let me know how scary that blade of grass was on camera!!!




Sunday, June 19, 2016

First 2016 XC school goes great



This weekend was my favorite horse trial at my favorite place, Come Again Farm, and I didn't go.  Not only did I not go, but I didn't even enter.  It was part of a very grown up decision to put my money toward lessons where I could work on our cohesive unit problem under supervision.  I didn't need another show where I struggled to get over tiny fences because my leg wasn't on well enough and Stella decided things were optional.  

We all know what happened at the last horse trial I attended at the same property in October.  It's been in the front of my mind for months.  


So when I showed up for my lesson, already nervous about show jumping, and found out we were going XC schooling I almost packed my ass right up and left.  Instead, I put on a brave face and tacked up my steed.  For some bizarre reason I felt much more comfortable out in the field jumping the (tiny) fences than I thought I'd be.  Perhaps because I'm in general more comfortable in "nature?"  I have had accumulatively fewer bad experiences XC?  Who knows.

As usual my instructor had many more things to say to me than the other students.  I have not figured out if this is because I'm generally more terrible, or if she pushes me harder than others to achieve my goals.  

This lesson was about precision.  Who picks the direction?  Me or Stella?  Who picks the speed of the trot?  If the speed of the trot is a mutual decision, change something anyway to emphasize that I am the boss.  Half halt before the fence to establish control and put the horse on its haunches, even if I am trotting to a 10 inch fence.

  Jump the middle of the fence.  The actual middle.

No, like the middle middle.  

I had a run out at the bank up because I had chosen to jump the shallower edge but wasn't specific enough and Stella thought it was easier to skirt around.  My fault.

I did not have a stop at the jump from the grass into the arena, even though that fence has always terrified me because I think the change of footing should be spooky.  I kept my damn leg on and rode.  

Yeah!!!!

No problems at the water, and I am ever thankful I spent so much time getting Stella over her water issue when I first got her, thanks to a good friend of mine.  

I did have a snit fit on the long trot out to a fence in the back 40.  I think because we went by the exit gate headed back to the barn?  Trainer had me go by this a few times so I could practice what I needed to do in this situation.  Be decisive. Leg on.  Wide hands.  Go forward.

It was a great lesson and I left feeling disappointed that I didn't get to jump anything bigger!  We'll see if I feel the same way when I HAVE to jump something bigger!


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Stella roughs it

Last weekend Stella and I went camping, this wasn't our first camping trip but it was our first trip in my new trailer, and my first time setting up my own camp by myself.

I managed to get my trailer backed in reasonably straight, eventually.


I tried out my 10 minute awning design I saw on another trailer online somewhere and was really pleased with the results.  With a silver tarp it didn't look that redneck at all!  I just used step in posts in this picture but raised it up when my boyfriend brought his car loaded with random PVC pipes.  I have a few other changes to make for next time but I was pleased as punch!




Here are my sleeping quarters, I have a foam wood puzzle floor in and one of those As Seen on TV screen doors up to keep bugs out.   I had one of the saddle racks sawed out and my cot fits perfectly in that spot, with my feet under the mangers.  I have still not decided if I should insulate the inside or just paint it up nice and fresh.




My Sterno stove did a great job cooking all my meals for one for the weekend!


Here's my little hand/dish washing station!  



Stella's electric corral went up pretty easy for the first time ever, especially considering I cobbled it together in order to save money.  She respected it, and the fence charger kept it nice and hot just in case



I had a really great view all weekend!


Saturday we did 10 - 12 miles at a pretty good clip.  Stella was a very good horse and enjoyed being in front and had to learn how to enjoy being in the middle and bringing up the rear.  On Sunday my boyfriend brought his GoPro up so I got to try it out on top of my helmet.  It took great video but we went quite a bit slower since he went with us and only did about 4 miles.  The only issue I have with the Gopro is that my computer can't handle the large files due to my older graphics card so I had to borrow a laptop to get this short video.

Hope everyone enjoys it!