Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Low Down

There must be post dedicated to that dressage test if you ask me.  Not sure how many readers have been around for long enough to remember where we came from but believe me when I say that it has been a long long road with many bumps along the way.   It just goes to show that if you luck out and happen along a nice enough horse,  adamantly seek out the best of instructors, pour enough of yourself into training,  studying, learning and stick it out long enough that is just that easy.  Easy my eye.   I didn't know if this horse could ever truly chanel himself in a show the way he can at home.  A show in far from perfect conditions.  I really didn't know.  We have gotten a 55% before.  We have done a full on High ho silver rear upon entering at A. We have been "those" riders at the show more times then I care to admit. We've had good moments but we've had our fair share of bad ones. To me this dressage test marks more than just bragging rights.  It is a much different milestone for Steady and I.  It is more of a medal of honor.  That when the smoke clears and punches thrown we are still standing. It not a beautiful story with only  ease and comfort. It didn't start with an expensive, fancy horse with talent to spare. It definitely didn't start fantastic rider with ability to spare just waiting to develop their next prodigy.

It was a much lowlier beginning than that.  It started with a used up track horse on Craigslist in a muddy feild.  Underweight, distant,  mangy looking beast.  But under all of that and those 75 race starts you could still see in this horses eye the strength and honor he still possessed.   I admit to see it you had to look really closely but it was there.

Coming out the other end and achieving light years beyond what you could have even imagined doesn't feel like one might think.  It's not that feeling of standing at the top of the pedestal with flowers draped about your neck, crowds cheering and soaking in your glorious victory.  It is much more anticlimactic than that.   More like walking through a feild with land mines and bullets whizzing by.  Dust and smoke obscuring your view.  You fall down many times but at some point you stand up and the smoke has cleared.  You look around and realize that as ugly and endless it seemed you are still standing.  No one is there to cheer you on.  And no one really could because there is no way for one to truly grasp the passion,  the strength and pure fight it took to get there.

I saw a shirt the other day that said,  "great horses don't just happen". I think that is sometimes how we can judge another fellow rider.  "Well they just have a nice horse." But we never really know their story.  Yes there are those that buy that made horse but mostly I think we are all in the trenches together.  Knocking it out one schooling ride at a time for what can seem like an eternity. Walking away more days than not with bumps, bruises and scars, physically and figuratively.  Ask the greats and even they will say these horses aren't made in a day,  a month or even a year.  It is years upon years.  For us it's been 5 1/2 so far and we are just now starting to make headway but with so much more to go.  I write this as reminder to myself that we deserve a little bit of our moment in the sun because we sure as hell worked for it.  I also write this for those that have been working on that one thing,  whether it be  that transition or fear or  soundness for  forever and you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.  There were days I felt like cutting my losses.  Days I felt I was just too old.  Many days that there wasn't enough money for the training we needed or saddle he had to have or time was slipping away and whats the point.  If There ever was an obstacle we have probably faced it.  Saddle fit,  trailering,  bucking,  rearing, soreness, soundness. If I have one word of advice for anyone bringing along a horse it would be to, put the clock away.  Better yet destroy it. Pretend time doesn't exist.  Just let it go.   And the other would be stop comparing.  Stop comparing your
horse,  yourself.  Don't compare your one year with another's 4 years.

When you've worked on that canter transition for 101 days just show up to day 102. THAT is all it takes. Just keep showing up.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Serenity Valley Show

I'd like to update everyone on how the show went. If you aren't a fan of overly happy braggy posts then this one may not be the one to read.  The weather was absolute crap though I think the poor souls that rode midsouth last week still take the cake on the crappiest show weather.  But yesterday was rainy and cold all day.   And with three of us riding 3 separate divisions pretty much meant we were going to open and close the place down.  Our rides were evenly spread so that was nice.  There needn't be any rushing.  I will break down all of our rides starting from youngest to oldest.  warning,  maybe longest post ever.

First off I must mention that though Monica's day didn't start out at all like she wanted she was still super awesome and came out to help and support me and my girls.  The weather was so shitty but she stayed nearly the entire day.  She is the sweetest girl on the planet and I just love her.   You have her to thank for almost all the videos that were taken.  Also you may be better off keeping the sound down on the videos.  One reason being the wind and second you can sometimes hear their crazy mom in the background.

K and Penny Pincher.  This was  K's first show.  She was entered in the cross rail CT.  First a bit of a background K is 8 years old.  Penny is an amazing and to die for jumper. Like jump offs would be her thing.  She would jump anything you point her at as fast as she can.  Dressage?   Not really her thing.  She is an adorable little mover when she is relaxed but that isn't all that often. I realize this every time I have seen my kids do a test on her.  If they got points for finishing it the fastest they would win for sure.   I was saying "slow down" under my breath the whole time.  But K had it under control (even in a snaffle,  I never let her go in a snaffle. Pony needs brakes, but rules. ) and still so freaking adorable.

They got a 48% dressage score.  Honestly I thought that was pretty harsh but then again I may be biased. But you can judge yourself. If you ask me they should get extra points for cuteness. But K memorized her test perfectly and I was so proud of her.  Penny is not the easiest ride but they have so much fun together.

We walked her course which was quite long, 12 jumps,  and winding. This was the first full course she has ever ridden.  She warmed up in the drizzly cold.  She watched a rider go and she said she was ready.  My bladder nearly failed me as I told her,  "have a great ride".  It's like a family right of passage for my kiddos to be sent off into the jump ring with those words.  They did awesome.  She remembered her course and she came out and proclaimed,  "I went double clear! ".  I didn't think it was worth mentioning it isn't timed on cross rails. It was just adorable.  She rode in a division with mostly adults and ended 5th out of 8. She loved her pink ribbon.  It matches her "colors".

Get ready for some more proud sap. E and Lily were in the Starter division and rode BN test a and jump height of 2'3". These two have come so far this year.  They were solid as rock.  I was very happy how they rode their test.  E said her biggest goal was to not jump out of the arena.  Good goal considering Lily very much has done that to her.   E rode it accuratly and Lily was obedient. They got their leads and E quickly felt and corrected her when she started to pick up the wrong lead going left.  It was a positive experience for both.  Now I feel we can work on some more complex dressage.  Involving things like connection and bend.  They are already working on gait regularity and rhythm and are making great progress. They got a 57%. She was SO happy when she saw four 7's on her test!

Show jump again is the true test of a mother's bladder.  Why when I'm anxious I feel like I am going to pee myself I have no idea but it is a real problem.  I may resort to Depends one day. Warm up was a sloppy mess. Every where was just a sloppy mess actually.  They warmed up well and we went over to get her name in.  Thankfully hubby was there to video because I can't do so.  I have to watch IRL. I just do.  They did amazing.  The footing was questionable by this point.  E rode it like she owned it and Lily was super brave and game.  Decorations and such are not things she has really jumped before.  And the only thing she peeked at was a straw bale and my guess would be she thought it might be food. I'll let the video speak for itself.  If the footing was solid we would have cantered the whole course but there was no reason to push it in those conditions. In a division of all adults but one she ended 6th out of 10.

As for Steady and I the day was pretty much set up for him to fall to pieces.  Top on the list of the things Steady hates cold, windy, wet weather. And close behind is sloppy, slippery footing.  Oh goody. But the day continued like I mentioned in my last post I was just happy with the kids having a great day.  I really was not all that concerned about how we would do.  Just do my best to keep him relaxed as I could get it done and get home.  They had made the decision to not continue jumping classes after starter. Which I am glad they did.  That grass arena was getting messy fast and I really was not all that excited about jumping 3 ft. With tight turns and roll backs in a sloppy grass arena. So we only got to ride our dressage test.  As soon as I got out to the warm up area I immediately made the decision to not warm up.  It was fetlock deep mud everywhere.  I knew Steady would just get more anxious slipping around in that.  I figured we were better off with no warm up.  He just paced  walked in the slop until it was our go.  I did trot a few circles in the end of the arena before the bell rang. So I guess you could call that a warm up?  So we had 2 minute warm up.  Steady felt really good.  I will tell you what I felt simply because what I felt and what that judge thought she saw don't quite match up in my mind.  He was listening and he went to work when we got in there.  I rode mediocre. Not complete crap but could have ridden better.  I was hesitant to use my leg.  I don't know why because he was listening to it.  Old habits die hard.  Leg on a cold windy day in times past meant explosives. But I wasn't getting explosives.  I told E she needs to ride the horse she is on.  I think I need to take my own advice. I was also hesitant to correct him getting behind the vertical.  I do that in the ring.  Concerned to get marked for the correction. Instead I get marks for not.  Meh, it's just what happens in my brain in the show ring.  The only real blub was switching his right canter lead 3 times in one 20 meter circle. Hey that takes talent we should get extra points!  If only it was on cue we could call it tempi changes but nope not on cue and not clean. It's like pick up right lead canter 3 strides. Change behind,  2 strides change front,  3 sides switch back to correct lead.  He wasn't the most obedient in his canter to trot transitions. I don't know exactly what the judge saw but not what I felt.  over all I was very pleased.  He did way more right than wrong and more than anything he was not a hot,  tense ball of nerves.  His free walk was the bomb. His trot work was solid.  All transitions were excellent except canter to trot.  I think it's time to start adding big kid dressage into our life.  Could it be?  Are we becoming the real deal?

What the judge saw I don't know but what ever it was she sure did like it.  I'm going to tell you my score but precede it with that I cannot tell you about dressage judging because I an no expert.  Far from it but it seems like quite a generous score.  Judges typically like Steady but this much?  Yikes.  On Novice test a we brought home a 23.1%!  Ridiculous right!?! We got 14! 8's. 14. It would take less time to tell you what movements we didn't get 8's on than what we did.  A 23% even with that right canter that brought us a 4. I don't care I'm claiming it.  I may never have this moment again so I am going to take it while I can. I don't care if she was actually a bum they picked up that morning to judge I am still owning that 23.1%.  Even though I giggle every time I think of it.  This beat our previous best score of 29% by 6 points.  Sadly because of my offspring I only have half of the test on video.  She can train a a shit pony from scratch but hell if she can figure out how to video something.  Well you at least get to see all our trot work.  We enter A at minute marker 1:55 if you don't want to see our minute and a half warm up.

Friday, June 26, 2015

All the Happs

We've been doing a bit of this and that.   I kind of gave up on schooling dressage rides.  As per a previous post.   Just not in the mood.  Feel free to judge away.  See how much I care.  We will see how it works for us Saturday at or first show in a year and a half!   Can that be right?   So let's get this straight.   I am making the move to Novice after not showing for a year and a half. Having very little ride time in over a year and we pretty much gave up dressaging.  At least it's only a schooling CT.  Show jump is also in a grass arena.  I really dislike grass arenas to jump in.  We'll see how this goes.

Last Saturday we went and jump schooled in trainers arena.  Steady was almost damn near perfect.

Angling wide oxers on a 2 stride line, no bigs.

Maybe slightly lazy.  I'll take that any day if you know my horse.  just jumped every single thing calm cool and collected.  There was this one grid he didn't bother picking up his feet but that only happened once and it just made me laugh.   His perfection made me want to just start cranking up the height.  We need to jump higher 2'11"-3' just isn't enough any more. He doesn't have to try.

This is him not having to try.
Here is a link to a short video of you're interested.
And another of Steady thinking it was a snooze fest.

Tuesday we went out and trailered to the location of the show and the girls schooled their dressage tests.  Kelcie had never ridden in a dressage arena so it was all new to her.   I basically coached while on Steady bareback because some how my girth never made it in the trailer.

In all reality my CT with Steady is not really a concern.  Interesting feeling.   I am really just trying to make sure my kids are prepared.   I don't forsee anything being an issue for Steady. Man! That horse has grown up.  I don't feel any pressure to expect anything at this show for myself. If we get first place great.  If we get eliminated fine.  At least then I know where we stand and how to move forward.  It has been so long it almost feels like our first show again.   And for first shows there should be no pressure and that's where we are and it's ok. Because as much as I love horses,  riding and competing it just isn't my whole life.  Not even close.  I went from introducing one child into riding and the show world to now a second.  There just seems to be much more important things to me right now then being #1 or even simply  advancing anywhere.  I mean I started out on this journey with Steady just wanting to ride again and occasionally jump and now going Novice in Eventing seems no big deal.  It's fun, I love it but I just can't explain to you the pure elation watching your child's passion and excitement grow.  Then to see them achieve and succeed from square one to bad ass independent rider. It's better than any ribbon from any event ever.

So I get on my horse.  We have fun rides.   I put no pressure on either of us.  There are plenty of days we don't even ride and it's ok.  It's fun having fun and for now it's enough.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Don't want to

We've all seen the "I don't want to adult" memes.  Today I need one that says "I don't want to people.  Don't make me people. "  Am I the only one out there that had days that they don't want to even be a part of the human race?   I pretty much just hate all man kind right now.  Except you guys of course!  Sorry I'm just coming on here to vent really.  But people just suck sometimes.  And sometimes it seems to just all hit you at once how much they really do.

On a less depressing note.  Monica, B, Steady , another friend, her horse and I along with our bribed little jump crew are going to jump school in trainers indoor tomorrow.   Win! Send us all the happs trailering vibes for B please!

Moving on.

Moving on from my last self deprecating post.  And on to the next self deprecating post about something new.   This happens to actually have some thing to do with riding. Well at least attempting to ride. That brings us to my lesson on Wednesday.  E and I took a group lesson together.   How rad is that, that my daughter is at a place that we can feasibly share a lesson?  It's kind of a cool place to be.  Anyways.   Something happened in my brain at some point.  Or should I say some thing failed to happen in my brain.  We were told to go through a simple grid. We have done this a Milian and one times. And it all fell to crap.  Over and over just running, plowing through this grid.  So ground poles were placed and at some point my horse just jumped the ground poles set 9 feet after the jump with the jump. That is some spread.  I was at a loss.

My instructor said "can I get on so I can figure out what he is doing?"  I think I was off before she finished her sentence.   She got on and fixed what I was doing and then let me back on. I rarely see some one else ride my horse and while I'm probably very strange I stand there watching thinking,  "is my horse really that sexy?" He really is a sight to watch. I got back on and she reminded me how one is to ride through a grid and whaddaya know it was lovely. Though it was frustrating when I screwed it up she helped me figure out how to fix it and reminded me how to ride.   Man I'm out of practice.

E and Lily had a great lesson too.   They are doing great and having a blast.  They put together a full course.   And though she wouldn't admit it I'm sure it felt good to watch mom screw things up and get told what to do.

All three of us are going to a combined test next Saturday.  I was thinking it may have been 2013 the last time I have shown.   Holy crap!  I told you I was out of practice. I think I am most excited and terrified to see my youngest and the cutest little gray pony ever do their green as grass CT.  If I am not vomiting or peeing on myself with nerves I will video it for all to see. I don't really get show nerves when I show other that the excited butterfly ones.   But when my kids are showing I have uncontrollable nervous break downs.  I have never been able to even hold a video camera during their ride.   It is all I can do to not pass out.   It is really bad.   Maybe one of these days I will figure out how to deal with it better. Cause it is bad.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Feeling like an ass

So my career path has been on hold for months now waiting on the State Medical Board of Ohio to issue me my license to massage.  I don't do waiting, well.  This means lack of income which means lack of bank to support any competitions to advance ridiculous adult, childlike dreams.  I mean today my husband unknowingly and non-purposefully made me feel like a complete ass.  I have been writing checks left and right for my silly little obsession lately.  There is 150 bales of hay, an early farrier visit because Steady's feet were disintegrating, Rolex purchases, feed, lessons, kids Pony Club camp and let's not even mention that trailer.  The amount of money is mind boggling.  Since when did mine and my children's hobby become the black hole for my families finances.  I have had this thought in the back of my mind lately.  And while I was thinking silently how I needed to send in my 2 daughters final camp payment (totally $700) and our show entries of at least $150 if we only each did a CT.  My husband tells me of his disappointment that he was out bid on ebay on the golf driver he has been wanting.  And that he refuses to pay more than $100.  At that moment I felt about an inch tall.  I didn't say a word and he had no idea what was on my mind.  This man provides us with every single thing we have ever asked for yet he cannot bring himself to buy a new driver for a whopping $300 and opts to search for a good deal on an older used driver.  Golf is really the only thing he has any interest in doing as far as a hobby that could cost money goes.  Yet he rarely actually does get out on a course and uses 15 year old clubs and a driver he absolutely hates.  I have not a whole lot else to say other than I feel like a selfish asshole right now yet I don't know how to change it. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Product reviews and beach broncs

These are actually two non horse items that I am reviewing but they are both items that are handy and any horse or outdoorsy person would/could use.  First the FlipBelt.

I first saw this on my facebook feed.  I have been trying to figure out a way to conveniently carry my phone without it being obviously noticeable, annoying or chance of dropping it forever.  I've tried, putting it in my boot.  Which actually stretched my one boot out.  Fail.  Tried holders but always too noticeably annoying.  I've tried pockets and though some of my breeches have pockets most don't and if they are where normal pockets it always slips out. Fail.  This product was not designed for riding but other athletic activities such as running.  I have trail ridden many hours.  Ridden dressage, jumped, XC schooled in it.  All without so much as even noticing it.  It is definitely piece of equipment I use every ride.  I am able to have my phone on me at all times.  Which most importantly is safety.  I have been caught once with an injured rider and no phone.  Never again.  And for the less important but still a perk is that you can have quick access for photos and videos.  While yes it is probably just a new age fanny pack it is definitely an upgrade on the 80's trend.  Your important items are at hand yet kept snug to your body so they are virtually unnoticeable.  And we all know how eventers love their colors they have a ton of color options.

Next item I love is the Eno Hammock.

Again COLORS.  Not the reason I love it but options are never terrible.  I picked this bad boy up at Rolex a couple years back for the Husband for Father's Day.  The thing is rad.  It has been pretty much everywhere.  Horseshows, the beach, the back yard.  The weight limit is for ours is for 2 most reasonably sized adults.  You can hang it from literally anything!  I've hung it in my horse trailer, from trees, from my truck bed.  It is super light so easy to transport with you everywhere but super durable and made out of parachute material.  With the suspension straps and carabineer hooks you can take this ANYWHERE to sleep or just take a nap.  We love this thing and I see a second one in our future to take to the beach for our late night fishing trips across the street.  One for my husband and I and one the girls can sleep in. So much easier to strap your ENO to a couple trees then carry and set up a tent.  They make it wide enough that with the excess material you can wrap it around yourself and make a little bug proof cocoon.  It may come across as pricey but the number of uses the thing has I don't regret paying the price for it.  A cot or any other type of hammock is going to cost that or more and be way less functional.

From the queen of functionality(self appointed obviously) you don't get more functional than these two items.

In horse news.  It's been hot as shit here.  I've been riding a moderate amount.  E and I went on a long trail ride yesterday.  A make your ass so sore, it is more comfortable to ride home in two point trail ride.  We explored another new trail and it was really nice.  Some spots seemed like you were in the deep jungle and others open prairies and then you are on the beach.  So we found a really open sandy beach and had the bright idea of cantering on the beach.  We took like two strides, the haflinger started broncing and Steady felt like he thought that looked like loads of fun.  So our picturesque cantering down the beach was a big fail.  It would be a good meme.  Like those that go around about- this is how I think I look riding, how my mom thinks I look, how my trainer thinks I look etc.  I want to imagine the on lookers on their boats were all, "wow look at those beautiful horses and amazing riders running down the beach"  It was probably more like, "OH my gawd look at those two nut balls...do you think they are going to die?  Should we just call careflight now?"  In my head I am going to believe we looked like this.
This is exactly what we looked like. (In my head)