Sunday, April 30, 2017

All about the horse, Vermicullus withdrawn



Vermicullus looked game and full of run Saturday despite the very tough course design.  It was pouring rain when he left the startbox but the weather didn't seem to bother him.  Unfortunately he had a stumble entering the Head of the Lake


Probably thanks to the quick feet of his Arabian dad he remained on his feet, actually jumped the fence two strides away, but got a little lost and had a run out at the next one.  He wasn't alone, there were quite a few stumbles and glace offs all day long and several other horses stumbled in the Lake.  It's a big drop so I don't think footing was the issue.


He continued on and galloped across the finish line, but after he ended up a bit muscle sore when he cooled down the decision was made to withdraw him and save him for another day.  That's good horsemanship and he many more years ahead of him so expect to see him next year!

You can see his run on the USEF Network.


Lest we not forget that the Rolex horses are still just regular horses, here is Vermicullus, 4 star event horse, on his way to Rolex dressage and those are plastic bags.  Horses never change, no matter how brave.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Arabians at Rolex

Yep, we got Arabians at Rolex!
 Lauren Kieffer  is well known for her career starting on an Anglo Arabian named Snooze Alarm who was by the Arabian stallion Serazim and out of the TB mare Wake Me Gently. Her parents bought her Snooze Alarm when he was a five year old from his breeders, at the time Lauren had not ridden past Novice.  Under the guidance of David O'Connor they moved up the levels, eventually reaching the ultimate eventing goal, Rolex.

When Snooze Alarm's breeders told her they had Snooze Alarm's full brother she bought him as a yearling.  Now he's following in his brother's footsteps and representing Arabians at the top of the eventing world.

Here are Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus in the dressage, where they placed 7th.


Here they are running Training in 2012, they've come quite a long way since them!


Here is his older brother, competing in the same arena! I'm sure he's proud of his baby brother.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Heartland show wrap up


After a considerable amount of hemming and hawing (was Stella going to have an abscess, could I make some progress on my staggering fear of jumping this horse?) I entered the Heartland show at our local horse park. Most of my friends were going and I didn't want to avoid it.

Insert panic.

Stella and I were still quite inconsistent over fences but I felt like I had a bit of a handle on it.  When I feel like I'm getting a bit nervous, ACCELERATE!!


Schooling the night before was a mad house.  90 horses of varying stage of off the track, and 90 riders in varying stages of THIS IS OUR FIRST SHOW! made it insane.  I had to work hard remembering how to ride at a show and provide a stable support for Stella who had a lot to look at.

I had initially planned on schooling through all the rings, but at least one was occupied by a trainer giving lessons so I settled with schooling around the outsides of two, inside one, then changing venues and trying to perform a test in a new arena cold.







Dressage warm up Saturday was also bonkers.  The arena was huge, but the kids on ponies were all the places at once.  I worked on encouraging Stella to accept contact and maybe put her head down just a little itty bit?  I felt overall that she relaxed and focused quite a bit sooner than the night before but I knew I was going to lose most of it when we moved to the new ring. 


I felt our test was pretty decent for where we are in our training.  She was obedient to most of my aids, crooked where she normally was, but thankfully prompt in her transitions even when she had a lot to look at.  She spent most of the time bent to the outside so she could SEE ALL THE THINGS but in the end we got  a 40.9 which I felt was about right.


Jumping warm up was all about controlling my nerves.  She stopped at the first warm up fence.  Which I knew she was going to.  Yet failed to ride aggressively enough to prevent.  Doh.  Thankfully, I got her over it from a standstill to let her know that she knew her job and it was unacceptable to stop when it was a teeny tiny fence and her rider was being a moron.

After that it got easy.  She didn't care about the fences, she cantered away, and I even cantered the other two cold.  ME!  HA!


I went into the ring knowing that I was going to have a bit of a time getting her to focus on me and what was in front of her.  There was lots of stuff to look at.  I had a plan in place to school past a few things, change direction, walk and trot a couple times.  Get her sharp and focused.

She had a dramatic meltdown in front of fence one.  Was it the poop under the fence?  The fact that we had been trotting around and not jumped yet?  Me giving up my plan ahead of time?  The person on the ground?

Does it really matter.

I gathered myself, got to whacking, and whacked her butt right over one.  WOOO!

The rest of the fences were nothing.  She didn't look, she didn't question, she didn't stop.  I tried very hard to remember my trainer's voice in my head ACCELERATE!  GO FASTER!  When she landed in a canter I kept my leg on and for the love of God we actually cantered down to most of the fences.  It felt easy.  It felt fun.  It felt like I knew what I was doing!

Then I cantered right past fence 10.  Oooops.  Can't be 100% on it at once I guess.


In the end I was very happy.  When I got past our (My?) first fence jitters everything else felt easy.  I had most of a plan and carried it out.  Stella didn't know we had to circle back to 10.  It gave me a confidence boost for our next show and further lessons.  Unfortunately due to some scheduling mountains it will be three weeks before we have another jumping lesson, and for once this spring I can hardly wait!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Faster! To fences


It's no secret that I've had a bumpy road teaching Stella to jump.  One second she is bold, brave, and jumping 2' 6", the next she is rearing in front of a ground pole.  Currently I'm still on the fence if we are a good match over fences, she is a brave horse that occasionally needs a confidence boost from her rider, and she's not a take charge packer type.  I'm an inconsistent rider over fences, and I tend to drop a horse a few strides out when I'm nervous about fence height and let the horse figure it out.  When I lose confidence and she stops because she isn't going without motivation I lose more confidence and we end up rearing in front of cross rails.

My previous two horses worked well with this program.  One didn't care what I was doing as long as she was pointed at a fence, the other cared enough about me to figure it out on her own.  While they both had their flaws they allowed me to progress as a rider and even as a trainer while still having my own flaws.

Last week we had a jumping lesson that I hope is the tip of the iceberg.  It was a lot about controlling my own confidence and mainting a jump or die attitude even if I felt like death was imminent.  Stella can be a horse that quickly gets behind the leg so we spent a lot of time GALLOPING down to fences while my poor ever suffering trainer screamed GO FASTER!!  While it might look initially like the beginning of one of those "Should I leave my trainer?" threads on COTH she was able to break it down for me.

I'm really not going that fast.  My GO FASTER is probably more of a reasonable hand gallop.  I can see my distances, make my turns, and the reminder to ACCELERATE toward the fence helps me keep my leg on and keep Stella motivated.  When I did things went remarkably well.  I boldly galloped down to fences we had not jumped since last summer before THE INCIDENT.

Here's a nifty helmet cam video of the end result of  our GO FASTER! lesson.  I'm still adjusting to the helmet cam and which angle it should be for best viewing.



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...