Monday, May 27, 2013

Wearing Protection

Haha did I get your attention?  Just thought it a funny title.  When I purchased my xc vest I was not really aware of Beta tests and approval.  I just saw a lot of people wore Tipperary vests and they had fun colors.  Hey what can I say hunters don't wear vests and until 3 years ago I knew nothing of eventing.  So I learned any way I could and with apparel I learned mostly by observation.  Well I am now a wee bit wiser and you better believe when it comes to my kids safety I will do my research.  So I have been on a hunt for a beta 3 approved xc vest.   Beta 3 is the highest and only level approved for cross country jumping. Any other number whether 1-2 or 4-7 do not meet the current qualifications.  Have you tried to find an approved vest?  How about one under $350?  Its not easy.  But I did find Harry Hall Body Protector. They are level 3 approved and only $112 us dollars and that is with shipping.

But not being all that popular in the States I don't have any first hand experiences to go off of.   I am pretty decided that I am going this route.  I just wondered if any of you have first hand experience with these?  I just need to measure my daughter and get it ordered.  Hopefully the hubs can find a way to be OK with yet another equestrian related purchase.  But it is hard to argue when its your daughters safety we are talking about.  I am also on the look out for a saddle for my daughter.  Does anyone have or know of something that would fit a wide pony?  I am wanting to stay in the $200-300 range.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

kick in the pants.

Thanks for the kick in the pants.  I looked back and my last post was very down.  Never fear I am not easily kept down and though I was very frustrated with my riding after my last lesson  I walked away even then with a plan.  I also did not mention that no way did laz let me leave on a bad note.  She took down the first jump, lowered the second and had us go through, slowly raising everything back up and we went trough the line beautifully about 3 times before calling it a day.  It was just that over and over I was having to be reminded of things I know and can do but for whatever reason, could not do.

Like I said there is a plan and no giving up on my end.  Low and behold I rode my horse today and he didn't hold a grudge and it is still ao cool the progress we have made in my ability to ride and control his rhythm and use of himself with my body.  Life changing stuff I tell you.  The plan is to get together at my friends farm once a week to jump.  Same friend who teaches me the biomechanics riding.  We will be working on how to incorperate the same concepts when speeds increase and jumps are involved.  Wednesdays every other week we will meet at her place to jump and on the other weeks we will be trailering to LAZ's for a lesson.

Was that ride crappy?  Yes but I have learned that my horse is forgiving, willing and smart. So no matter how hard, we will work through what we need to to be better in the end.  As Lee Ann said, he is opinionated and that is what makes him such a great horse.  So even though I may not be the best I will always do what I have to to give him the best and he knows it and gives me his best.

P.s. when I mentioned that it was not like steady to stop.  It was by no means because anything is wrong with him.  He is feeling, looking and acting great.  It was really all just poor riding.

You guys are so awesome and I just love that I can come here and you guys tell me just what I need to hear.  Even if I do need a swift kick.  Thanks!  And since you guys are the bombdiggitty I am going to do my best to come away Wednesday with some video and photographic documentation of our ride :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Nothing positive.

Eventing-the most super coolest ever sport that is the most bank account draining thing you'll ever wish you were really good at but will always pretty much suck at.

That would be my personal definition of eventing.  I love it.  I try really hard at it.  I am pretty crappy at it.  I have a really cool horse that deals with my inability to ride.   

After a lesson like I had on Wednesday I walk away with that feeling once again of, "why in the hell do I think I can actaully ride a horse, let alone event.  And moving up?  Ha!  That'll never happen cause I suck far too much."  I have walked this line many times since jumping feet first into this sport.  The line between giving up and having a pity party.  On Wednesday I brought up to LAZ Steady and I's arch nemisis a two stride combination.  We have done them in the past.  We can do them schooling but in a show it all falls apart.  So we broke it down.  It came down to I hold onto his face, I steer with my hands, I will not stop pulling my left rein and it all came tumbling down.  We can't turn, we can't go straight I pretty much can't ride a horse. No matter how many times LAZ would tell me to put my hands in his neck and leave them their some other power would over take me and I physically could not stop myself.  What the ?  Why am I incapable of controling my own body?  We warmed up, OK.  Then we did a few jumps together.  One of them being a two stride combo.  It went worse than bad.  I was riding like crap.  Both of our confidence in this task has been shaken.  He doesn't believe we can do it and I have my doubts also.  He refuses the first.  Well that is new.  Next time around takes the first and refuses the second but does not run right like normal.  Third time around he crashes through the first.  Ahhhh!  The frustration.  I know this is not my horses issue.  He does not do things like this.  Lee Ann made it clear that this "was not Steady".  I know that is not my horse.  I am royally screwing up and cannot get my head right.  I was so mad at myself.  I am so disappointed in myself.  I don't have a clue what happened to my riding.  I know I have a problem with my hands, I hold him too much and I steer too much.  I can't stop myself and I don't understand why. 

It is so bad right now that I don't feel like riding my horse at all.  I don't feel like I have any business on his back.  I just feel completely incapable of getting on him and doing anything positive.  I feel I have no business on the back of a horse of his ability because I am not a good enough rider.  Bottom line I am just NOT.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

All the little pieces.

You know those little important pieces a like hip, a rib, a shoulder?  Well there may be an explination as to why jumping the things was not going to happen Sunday.  Stead's gots his massage/accupunture/adjustment today. First time since the gravel incident.  And to be expected his left side was effed up.  I didn't even have to tell her which side it was.  She immediately found his left shoulder was out, his left hip was out and he had a rib that was popped up.  She said lifting his front end would have been tough for him.  Taking off of his left hind would have not been easy.  And lifting his back where the rib was out, under the saddle, would have been very painful.  Poor Dude. There were a few other various things that were adjusted.  The movement in his body once she would fix something was like magic.  She is by far the most effective treatment that I have seen.  And Steady loves her and that's saying a lot because he doesn't love very many people.

I have a jump lesson tomorrow and I am excited to see how he feels.

Monday, May 20, 2013

We win some, we lose some and others we lose to ourselves.

Yup we are just that awesome that we are capable of losing to ourselves.  First and foremost my daughter is so awesome!  She chose to go to the show to help me.  She got up that AM packed a lunch for the both of us.  Then proceed to help me the entire day.  I am such a lucky Mama.  She was exhausted by then end.  I don't have any electronic evidence.  I knew no one from the show and didn't have time to even worry about it. 

The Combined Test.  Show up and check in and come to find out that I am the only rider in the Novice division.  Yay!  First place for me!?  Well one would think.  There we a bunch of pony clubbers. LOVE!  Hey if my club is less than par I still like to see a big group of PCer's out there riding, working together, having a blast and riding well.  I have several people come up to me and were just in awe of how gorgeous Steady was.  I even had a couple people ask what breed he was which surprised me because I feel like he has always looked like stereotypical Thoroughbred.  One ladies comment when I told her he was off the track was, "wow you lucked out with him.  He is amazing."  I tried not to chuckle and humbly take the complement.  But 'luck' did play a part in the coolness of Steady's temperament but anything else was a lot of hard ass work.  But doesn't matter it feels so amazing to have people drooling over my horse.  He has always had a stature about him, that come natural to him and it helps that he is massive but now his color is a dark rick liver, shimmering shiney coat and filled out musculed up in all the right placed.  It's cool.  Anyways back to the rest of it.

Dressage: I warmed up very little.  It was a very small grassy area. Test were ridden in their indoor.  The first half of the test was better than the second.  Well besides that I got to B and I kid you not my mind went completely blank.  I had NO idea where to go next.  Doh!  The bell rang.  Got back on track.  At the first canter transition he got pissy and kicked out.  I swear he does this in every dressage test.  I MUST do something to make this happen.  It never happens when schooling.  I need to figure out what I am doing wrong I know this has to be me.  I have some ideas as to what I probably do. He got more tense as the test went on.  He was OK just not as good as, well, as he was even just 5 minutes earlier warming up.  I have to say I rode the disobedience pretty much perfectly and didn't let him change me and he came back to me quickly.  The rest was like I said Ok.  The opposite canter was worse the transition was good but then he cross canter at some point.  I went to fix it and broke him back down to a trot.  At that point I felt I blew the movement and I went off course again.  Double Doh!  Had a nice halt, which I am pleased with that improvement.  Over all it sounded worse than the score showed and I thought the judge was generous.  But it was actually pretty good for us at a show and the first show of the year/spring.  So I was pleased enough with it.  Score was 37%.

Then we had to wait, TOO LONG to jump.  He warmed up nicely though we warmed up inside and they had 2 REALLY wet REALLY slippery spots right at each end of the arena where you would turn before and and after a jump.  I did not know of these spots to begin with and unfortunately Steady slipped twice.  Then we trotted only.  Jumping was outside in a small grassy area.  It seemed small to me for a course.  At least when you are riding a boat and not a pony.  First jump good.  Second he hit hard with his back legs, knocked the rail and it pissed him off.  He bucked a couple small bucks to let everyone know he didn't like that.  Third jump then it was 2 strides to #4.  He ran out, erg.  I went back around jumped it and was off my game at the point and basically blew by #5 and last second did a shit job trying to salvage it and Steady was like, Naw I ain't doing that.  I re presented, not an issue.  #6 then 2 strides to #7 and unfortunately you can probably see how this course was going.  Yup another run out.  I was displeased with the way I rode.  Yes I was displeased with Steady but I can't get to upset because something is missing.  I am still trying to nail down what it is but Stadium is by far our weakest area.  Two stride combo's are our achilles heal.  I know that %100 of the issue is straightness.  I lose him through his right shoulder and he for some reason decides that he does not think he can make to stride combo's and uses that as an evasion.  He does not refuse because he looks at a jump EVER.  He doesn't even glance at jumps as far as color, deco.  I am not sure what it is but we will get to the bottom of it.  He goes to the masseuse tomorrow then a jump lesson on Wednesday. 

In a division of one we  lost to ourselves and left with an E.  Meh it was a schooling show and I am by no means broken up over it but I would be lying if I said I didn't second guess his reliability.  We will keep working and we will see where this year goes.  Our next show we are aiming for is another schooling show on June 29th where a large some was donated for OTTB's competing in.  We are gonna get our shit together for that one!

I am bit peeved at myself because my mental game riding was just, 'off'.  Going off pattern twice in dressage.  Missing a jump in stadium.  Forgetting how to keep my horse straight between jumps. I just felt off not physically, because I rode strongly and safely but mentally I just couldn't get it together.  I don't know if it had something to do with only getting a few hours of sleep the night before but I will not make that mistake again.  We have never been eliminated for refusals before, EVER!  So I guess now we can mark that one off the list so we don't have to do that again? 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Well I did it.

There was one Combined Test that I just found out about that is only about an hour away.  It is on Sunday and though I hadn't even looked at the Novice test  or jumped a full course in like 8 months I went for it.  It was the only weekend from now until July that I would have available so I just went for it.  I threw the idea around long enough that I missed the cut off date.  Then I put it off again and I finally called yesterday and asked if I was still ok to send it in.  She said yes.  Even though there is a 30% chance of tunderstorms all day Sunday I grew my lady balls stopped making excuses and just dropped it at the post office.  So ready or not Novice here we come!  They have free XC schooling for CT competitors, so that is a bonus.  Hopefully I can make a friend that will let me go out with them.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Funny thing.

Funny thing.  I picked up a copy of Sidelines magazine when I was at Rolex.  I did not have amytime to open it there.  A couple days later my daughter picked it up and brought it to me.  She says, "Mom, did you know you were in this magazine?".  Uhhh no!  Low and behold Steady and I are on the first page of the magazine, lol.  Not something that happens to me every day.  Kinda awesome!  Though they acquired this photo when I entered it in a Facebook contest that I did not win.  Which I find funny.  Apparently we were a favorite of the editor who apparently did not judge the contest.  Though I would have loved some free stuff from the contest but either way a pretty cool find!  I sure am glad I went by that both and happened to grab a magazine!

 Happy mother's day go me!  Steady came home yesterday!!  Its nice to have him back home.  Though it was nice to have access to the facility I'm definitely one who loves to have my horses in my back yard.

And the awesome ottb shirt made it in too!!!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

2013 the year that was almost awesome.

What an ideal start to the year.  Indoor arena to get training off to an early start.  Weekly dressage and jumping lessons.  Everything set in order to kick some major butt and move up levels.  Steady is super fit and going better than ever.  We had a jump lesson last week with LAZ and we were just killing 3'-3'3".  everything is aligning for a solid shot at competing well.  I have never felt more prepared and ready.  So what's the problem?  I have no time to compete.  I have been looking at recognized horse trials in area 8 and none are cooperating with my schedule.  The one I could have done in May I knew that I would be stretching the budget right after Rolex and on thin ice with Ryan time wise having just left for four days.  So I did not sign up.  Ideally June would work except the entire month is consumed by family vacation, Pony Club and 4-h.  I was planning to volunteer at IEA this year instead of compete.  That was last years goal to complete there.  This year was to compete at Kentucky horse park, qualify for the novice 3 day and move to training in the fall.  
Gawd he looks good right now.  Pictures seriouly cannot capture the shine.

I know terrible problem right?  Have great training, my horse going lovely and I am bummed I can't compete.  Yes I kinda feel like a jerk even complaining and I am by no means devastated by the circumstances just slightly bummed.  I have gone over and over and over the omnibus and there is simply nothing that is working until possibly July more likely September November.  Then I wonder if that leaves enough time to fit in enough HT's to qualify.  Then I wonder if it is going to keep me back from a training schooling show by years end.  There is one schooling CT on the 19.  I just found out about it and the deadline is Monday and when I had 2 seconds to print off the entry form and drop it in the mail my internet service was out and I couldn't print it off.  Now I am trapped on a bus with like 100 4th graders completely isolated from society for the next 48 hours.  Gaaaa why?  

On a less whiney and bithchy note Steady looks dead sexy in all his new gear.  In our lesson with Lee Ann he was so great and when I would figure out how to ride he is awesome!  We had one little mishap.  We were cantering up to a 3 ft vertical that had three placing poles.  I am assuming they were nine feet apart the final one being 9 feet from the base of the jump.  I had my eyes off in the distance for what ever reason and then of course  so did he.  As we were both happily gazing out to the xc jumps he made the decision to leave at the base of the last placing pole.  Mmmm not part of my plan.  He cleared the jump.  Well with his front end at least.  He kinda took out the jump with his back legs.  Which did not please him and he gave a couple ouch, mom bucks.  Lol it was kinda funny though I was unsure of what exactly happened until Lee Ann informed me just before she explained how that is not ideal.  Good news?  I got to really test out his new boots.  Verdict?  They work great!  They now are streaked with green paint but steady doesn't have a mark on him.  I am SO glad I got them and had them on.  They really saved his legs.
Steady's best bud.  Ottb Brennan and the only horse in the barn thar us a giant like the Dude.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Rolex 4 days...3 ways!?

What a 4 days it was.  It was so fun and so exhausting.  It started when Elaina and I hit the road a little before 7 on Thursday morning.  It is about a 3 hour drive.  We arrived a bit after 10am and pretty much timed it perfectly to when my friends got there.  Thursday was for shopping so we hit the trade show.  Watching dressage to me is a bit like watching paint dry.  I enjoy learning it and riding it but watching it I can only take so much so we only stopped by and watched a bit of a couple rides then moved on.  We quickly went through and hit some booths to see what deals were out there.  The lack of deals was disappointing but there were a few out there.  But Thursday is THE day to shop.  No one is there, like no one. There did seem to be a lack of vendors but I saw the booth space fees, geesh!

We went to a yummy little BB-que place for dinner then went and got settled in at our accomadations for the weekend.  And boy were they lovely.  There were five of us and we were staying at my friends, friends place.  She put my daughter and I up in one of her quest rooms.  I had a queen bed while my daughter had a twin bed.  Our own attatched full bathroom.  The other 3 shared a room with a king and queen bed in it that also had its own full bath with a double shower.  Her place is about 8 miles from the horse park set in the Kentucky countryside.  A lovely home and gorgeous gardens.  We were quite lucky.  She was also so kind and generous and loved having guests.  We would wake up to breakfast and come home exhausted with dinner prepared.   Ahhh mazing!

Friday it was up and at'em bright and early to head to Keenland for morning breezing, a tour and breakfast with the jockeys!  We were taken through the behind the scences of the track.  Went into barns, the exercise track then the track cafateria.  We where taken around by a track exercise rider and she also does some eventing.  She did a great tour and was very eye opening to the every day life at a track like Keenland.  Now Keenland is not the 'norm' it is the best of the best.  Not all tracks are as meticulous about their horses and barns.  I LOVE the track.  I grew up going to the track very often.  I was picking horses and my parents placing my bets before I could read the racing form.  I love everything about it.  I am sure that is where my love for Thoroughbreds was started.  Being at and around the track brings back childhood memories and the awe and passion like I had as a child.  Oh Kentucky why you so amazing?

After Keenland we were off to the horse park.  Back for day two of shopping and watching a bit more dressage.  We watched warm ups for a while which we enjoyed and then saw a few rides go.  You don't get a great vantage point without a seat.  It didn't make sense to purchase tickets to watch though when you were only interested in a few rides.  Then it was on to the trade show.  I mean I still had money in my pocket so I needed to fix that.  The only thing I didn't do that I would have liked to was sit in some more saddles.  But the price tags were beyond my means and I didn't want to tourcher myself.  I did take a bit of time at Stackhouse sitting in some and that was eye opening.  In a bad way.  So I sat in a few saddles.  I sat in a 17.5 and she said I needed at least another inch.  Blah.  We measured from my hip to my knee and I never realized that, that part of my body is freakishly long.  Like really freakish.  I sat in a couple more and she said, "you will probably need a custom saddle".  Bleh, I don't like those words and I plan to be like Cinderella's evil step sisters and try my darnedest to squeeze myself into a non-custom dressage saddle and go around pretending that it fits.  That's my plan.  Or just always do dressage in my jump saddle.  No way am I dropping $6000 on a custom saddle, ever!  Well unless I become a bazillionaire.  Mid Stackhouse pretending-to-actually-be-interested-in-purchasing-a-very-high-priced-piece-of-leather and wood I overheard the word, "Boyd".  My friend told me he was chatting over at Devoucoux....hmmmm.  Elaina and I quickly made our way over and wouldn't you know it he politely stopped his converation put his arm around Elaina, eeeeee, and smiled for the camera.  Oh ma gersh he is so drool worthy.  My daughter will appreciate this photo much more a few years.  Lucky girl she is!

Friday afternoon we did a coursewalk(run?) with Sinead Halpin.  First off she is gorgeous and secondly she walks so freakin fast!  It was very cool and a big highlight of the walk/run was when my friend Dorie and I happened upon a very tall skinny guy that some of you may know. 

Here is my picture with him which turned out totally creepy. 

I was kind of freaked out that as I was trying to smile for the camera he would stop and I would trample him.  Thankfully that did NOT happen and he survived being stalked by us.  It was straight from there to the New Vocations Thorougbreds for all event.  It was a very informative night and I really considered taking one of the OTTB's home from there.  Shiney Pemmy was so sweet, cooperative and brave.  Even still I feel like I need her.  I will not recap the event since this is already going to be a painfully long post.  Maybe another day.  But it was great, great riders and great horses.  Then back to the house to CRASH!  Everything hurt Friday night.

And everything still hurt Saturday morning.  We got to the park right about 10.  It was madness getting in and I could have gone earlier but I was just too tired.  For all of these things remember I am dragging along my amazingly awesome 9 year old daughter.  She never complained and is so enjoyable to be around.  Well we were made to park in the very farthest parking spot from the entrance.  So we walked some more.  The park on Satruday is a madhouse but almost everyone is pleasant.  Everyone is excited and you can hear over the loud speakers jump by jump how the riders are doing.  We treked out to the start box, finish line/vetting area.  I wanted to see and wanted my daughter to see where it all starts and where it all ends (well for those who complete it ends there. Others it ended somewhere in between.)  We would watch a couple at each spot then move on to the next jump.  It of course is awesome and all the excitement that cross country offers.  The morning went quite smoothly.  With all but a couple completing clear and many close to time.  I was standing at the HSBC water complex when word came over the loud speaker that Becky Holder fell.  That was disappointing and it was near the same place she came off last year.  Ugh.   Peter Atkins one of my personal FAVS went by..

You could hear him saying, "Good boy Hen!"  As he was going by.  Their partnership is inspiring.  They made it through clear with only 1.6 time penalties added to their score.

 The Landrover Hollow seemed it was a tough combination and to be a big deciding factor of the day.  There were horses that soared through it making it look Beginner Novice like and others that just barely scraped by.  The afternoon played out quite differently than the morning and the course took out quite a few riders and horses.  I have heard some theories as to why that was but either way it was like a different course was put out after lunch.  There were MANY exhausted horses half way through.  Alot of big names did not cross the finish line.  When Phillip Dutton retired on course as the last rider of the day we ended at the Head of the Lake and waded our way into the water for some classic Rolex shots...

 and some not so classy Rolex photos...

Ride that duck!

  It was a great day!  My pockets were now officialy drained of all cash and my Rolex experience was over.  We went back to the house and had a delicious potato soup, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and a cold beer waiting for us.  Had I died and gone to heaven???  We stayed up rehashing the days rides and going over details we had not seen being at the park.  We were not returning on Sunday for Stadium.  Some day I would like to purchase tickets for the stands for Stadium but after 3 days it was just a bit too much. 

My friend Rita and I were able to go tour Three Chimneys Farm since we attended the New Vocations event.  So she, I and Elaina got to see the  beautiful and amazing facility. 
Horse accomadations aren't too shabby.

Breeding room.

They brought out Big Brown for us to see and then walked through the pasture area to see the other studs that are standing there currently.
He was quite the show off.

The small barn behind you is one of 4 placed around the "village circle".  They are recreated 17th century cabins that had two stall each in them. 

 It is an impressive place.  The house that Seatle Slew built.  Literally he did fund that facility and he
is honored highly there still. Like many Lexington facilities there is excentric luxury in barns nicer than any home I ever been in.  They explained the business side of the place and that was quite interesting.  It was not the most extravagant farm I have been in in Kentucky.  Gainsborough takes the cake on that one, owned by the Sheihk and Primeminister of Dubai.
Internet photo at Gainsborough Farm.  Just a little place.

 My Dad is and was an avid racing fan and for about a decade breeder.  He has taken me through many facilities and this trip brought back many of those wonderful memories. After Three Chimneys we were excited to get back home and we hit the road again.

It was an amazing time and one that must be repeated on a recurring basis.  I am very grateful for my friends letting us come along for the trip!  Truely unforgettable!