Saturday, December 29, 2012

A year in reveiw...2012

How did 2012 reality line up with 2012 dreams??  Well let's take a look.
The year was over all above and beyond what I planned for and hoped for.  There were some very low and bad moments like loosing Blaze and injuries.  But they were far out weighed by the great and wonderful moments of the year.
In italics is copy and pasted from my Plans for the New Year.  2012 here we come!
My big over all goal for this coming season is to compete at Beginner Novice at a recognized Horse Trial!! The timing and location are not set in stone. That will depend on how training and fitness over the season goes. There are a few different options as to when and where this may be able to happen. But this is the holy grail for the year for The Big Lebowski and Me;) 
HUGE SUCCESS!!  I not only accomplished this goal and completed a 3 phase recognized horse trial but I finished in 3rd in my division! 

OK I can pretty much end my year end review right here!  This was the moment when all my work and dreams came true to become actual eventers!  But wait the year didn't end there and there was much more in store for us than we even planned for!!

Below each month I will summarize the actual month.
My only goal for this dreadful month is to ride at least 2 days a week. I would like to say my goal is higher but I would much rather set something realistic than fail miserably. So 2 days a week is my goal. I don't care if those rides are walking for 30 minutes, hacking out through the fields/trails or a focused 30 minute dressage or jumping ride. My goal is just to ride no matter what that be.

January 2012
This was a low goal and I didn't really accomplish it.  I instead took a break from riding for a while.

18th IEA Awards Banquet at Indiana Downs!
Riding goals again are to ride 2 days a week.
If the weather/footing for either January or February are good enough that I am able to ride consistently then I will hopefully squeeze in a lesson somewhere. I do not feel it is worth it though to take a lesson when I am not able to work Steady often enough to keep his 'edge' off. Otherwise we will spend our lesson on keeping him in check and to me that is a waste of time since I know that regular work keep him in check.

February 2012
Attended the Banquet and was awarded a $500 scholarship!
Started riding again.  After the break(Dec. Jan.) Steady was very Steadyish and we had some exciting rides.  But also made a big break through with learning to stretch down at the walk! And the weather was so cooperative we started actual training and fitness work!
Managed to even get in a lesson

Get more focused in training and fitness. Primarily focusing on refreshing our minds and bodies to real work. Ride at least 3 days a week. Slowly building back fitness.
Take one lesson this month.
March 2012
We accomplished this with flying colors thanks to the unseasonably warm and wonderful weather.  I had a lesson and we had one amazing ride after another!
I got a new to me trailer this month that made my life 100 x's less stressful!
25th-29th ROLEX! I say we make a blogger meet up at Rolex, who's with me?!

Trailer to a lesson with Lee Ann with hopes to take two lessons dressage and jumping.
Start training back again. Ride 3-4 days a week.

April 2012
Celebrate Steady and my 2 year anniversary!
<3 horse

Rolex FAIL :(  I didn't get to go to Rolex.  Tragic and must not be repeated.  I mean I live 3 hours from the Eventing Mecca there is no excuse.  Well except for my marriage nearly falling apart.
Lesson Fail but we got out to a show and had our worst dressage score to date and followed that up by an awesome XC schooling and jumping our first Training level xc jumps!  So over all the month was a SUCCESS!

12th possibly have our showing debut for the year at CAF CT. Met that goal in April!
19th-20th Greater Dayton Horse Trials! This is a very slight possibility for the the holy grale but it seems awfully early in the season so chances are we will be spectators or volunteers at best for this event.  Didn't happen
Riding goals for the month are to ride 4 days a week.
XC school
May brought far more than what I had planned.  I went to Frankfort, KY and took a private lesson with Olympic eventer Dorothy Crowell.  Then I participated in a 2 day clinic in Lexington, KY at the beautiful Champagne Run Farm with Rolex rider Peter Atkins.   I came home ready to take on the recognized horse trial far earlier than I had thought!

May 29th-June 3rd IEA Horse Trials. Also another option for the HT but this is a biggy and I may not have the balls for it but you never know? It is on the table as an option for the time being. Otherwise we( we as in me not Steady but it is education for the both of us when I do these things but I also hope to bring my daughter along this year for volunteer work) will volunteer for this event. I loved doing it last year and hope to do it again.
Hey waddaya know I grew some balls and made it happen!  HUGE SUCCESS!! I not only accomplished this goal and completed a 3 phase recognized horse trial but I finished in 3rd in my division! 

7th Come Again Farm Horse Trials.This will most likey be our HT for the year. 
Didn't happen since I competed at IEA 

Riding goals for the month are to ride 4 days a week.
I slacked off a bit and took break since we accoplished so much so early in the year and the 90 degree high humidity temps began this month.
Other June accomplishments:
XC scooling training/prelim table and trekhener, double banks, bank into water
weekend camping/trail riding trip to beautiful Brown County
and survived a week at the fair with the kiddos!

July 5-12th Event Camp. If I make the cut off for event camp I do hope to do it this year. I have debated back and forth about it. Wondering if I should just attend separate clinics over the year or put all my eggs in one basket so to speak. This has been a tough decision this year and I am still not 100% and I need to mail my registration on the 2nd so I need to figure it out.
Didn't happen
If I do event camp that will be my one hurrah for the month and probably August too.

Riding goals full on training, trails, gallops and jumping 4 days a week.
Not much happened this month.  I jumped bareback in the first time in like 18 years and it was a blast!  We tried to survive the wicked heat with easy rides and little tack (aka bareback)

Another dreadful month for Indiana. I will most likely cut back riding this month and take the month "off" with just no pressure hacks, trail rides and rides when weather permits.
A HUGE surprise this month in that I competed in another recognized 3 phase event!  The event in which we survived dressage, killed XC and ate dirt in stadium!  But walked away unharmed and still happy I at least got to go XC again!!

Start training back up again once the heat dies down. Riding 3-4 days a week.
Went on a wonderful trail ride with my daughter and Lily (Lilys first) and had a great time!
CAF Event Derby at Novice!? We will see where the season takes us but if all goes well I think this is with in our grasp FAIL
Any and all fall goals came to a screeeeeeeching halt when I found a rusty piece of old fence stuck in Steady's hoof :/  Thus sums up September.
Though I did have more rides on Lily and worked with my daughters a little extra this month.

Riding 4 days a week full training, trails, hacks and gallops.
Slowly started back working after injury.

Octoberfest I loved this show and the XC schooling opportunity. If I have the money to show 2 months in a row I will be doing this show. If not I will be forced to choose between the two.
Unfortunately Octoberfest did not happen this year.  I really hope to to it next year though.
Biggest most awesome amazing dream that I never realized I had came true this month when I did one of the most fun things I have ever done in my life, went on a fox hunt!! 
We lost our sweet sweet Blaze this month :,(. 
Got a lesson in with LAZ!

Ride 3-4 days a week. Training and trails.
Hopeful for a lesson.
No lesson this month but got one in last month.
We competed in our last show of the year at CAF!  We won the beginner novice event derby and had a blast in some of the fun classes!

Ride when weather permits and take a lesson.
This month over all was a fail at all things riding related.  Steady has some weird ongoing sweeling thing.  Though it does not have any negative affects we are still working to clear up.

I think overall I set very realistic and managable goals considering I accomplished all except one(a novice schooling show) goal and that was due to unplanned unchangable injury related circumstances.  I accomplished many things that I didn't even plan too and had an awesome year with my horse and that is all that really matters.  I am excited to put together next years goals!!!  I love a new year with a fresh start and looking at all the possibilities of and exciting new year!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fat Legs for Christmas.

Though this could probably also describe me considering the lack of activity and increase of bad foods as of late.  I am unfortunately referring to Steady.  I went out to get him out of his stall on Monday morning and immediately am drawn to his legs.  They are huge!  Not one, not two but three of his legs are twice their normal size and the fourth is also swollen just not as severe.  The two back legs are from the hock to hoof huge swollen and the one front is knee to fetlock huge swollen.  I am of course very concerned.  My first thought, 'stocking up', but I pretty much knew that wasn't it.  It was just too severe but in my heart I hoped that is what it was. I took his temperature and no fever.  On one hand I am slightly relieved because there is swelling in all four.  I guess in my mind I knew he couldn't possibly have injured all four legs so I was confident he didn't have some terrible injury.  But then on the other hand what would cause this? 

I turned him out and watched him for about an hour just to see what would happen.  I wanted to see if he was acting normal and if the swelling went down any.  Good news is he was acting perfectly fine.  Not favoring any of his legs and walking, eating, drinking.  Bad news is the swelling didn't subside AT ALL.  So a call to the vet and he was not all that concerned.  Said he has seen this a few times this month and told me to come out and pick up a box of supplies and he should be back to normal in a week or so.
Steady all muddy and sessy today after wrapping and reapplying DSMD.  I left the two fronts unwrapped because they looked perfectly normal now!!!
No reason not to be festive even if you are sickly :).

He is one an antibiotic once a day, banamine twice a day, DMSD and wrapped, cold hosed for 10 min. and walked for 20 minutes a day.  Just two days out and today when I unwrapped his legs I was so happy to find almost normal legs under the wraps.  One hind leg was very slightly swollen but if you didn't know his legs as well as I you wouldn't notice.  Phew...between vet bills for horses, cats and puppies I think that all my family is getting for Christmas are a farm full of healthy animals(except our lamb he went to meet his maker this week so that we can enjoy lamb chops for Christmas).

Oh yup you read that right, Puppy!  Blogger has been a BITCH lately and refused to let me upload photos but two weeks ago Henry aka Hank entered our herd!  He is a Welsh Pembroke Corgi.  Eventing just got cuter!  He will be my show buddy.  He is not the best subject to photograph considering he does not sit still but you can get the idea of his abundant adorableness!

We will be traveling lots over the next 3 weeks South Bend, IN to visit my family, Washington D.C. for a family vacation and Detroit to visit the in-laws.  The herd will be babysat by a 18 year old pony clubber who will stay at our house while we are gone.  Ahhh such peace of mind having someone here to keep a close eye on everyone.  I received the sweetest and most heartwarming Christmas card I have ever gotten.  It brought instant tears to my eyes and just filled my heart.  Read it for yourself...

From our farm to your home....Merry Christmas!!!
Lily also wants to send some Holiday Cheer!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Great feats.

My biggest feat this week is that I actually rode my horse.  That may not sound like much but with the way I have been feeling lately it is bigger than it should have been.  I've been lacking any and all motivation to ride the past couple weeks or so.  I have no good excuse as to why.  I have had time and the weather has been amazing.  I get a feeling of guilt over it but ultimately I know it is just where I am at right now.  Then I get on my horse after a long break and I realize it has in no way set us back and in some cases it helps.  It's almost like hitting some sort of reset button.  Before I lost my motivation I had a couple 'exciting rides'.  One I took Steady out for a hack through the fields.  I could tell he was extra high about it and it had been a while since we had done this and even longer since we did it alone.  He marched out energetic and brave all the way through our long 15 acre field, I was quite proud of him, but when we reached the end of our property and crossed the road he started to loose his head.  Since he marched out so nicely I figured he had done enough to make me happy.  If you have been around this blog for a length of time you may remember how much work it was to get him to hack out alone.  I use to be happy if he would go 10 feet farther then the day before but he is much improved from those days.  So I was pleased and turned toward home.  We get to a small ditch and he does this strange bunny hop rear and spin move about 5 times in a row.  The first one I am fine, second he gets me off balance, third I loose a stirrup and fourth I resort to grabbing onto his neck and waiting out the tantrum.  WTH?! Dude??  We were on our way home I thought that is what you wanted?  After that we had 'words' and went back to work in the arena to let him know he was not getting out of work after that stunt.  A couple days later we are having a glorious ride.  I mean he felt so good.  I decide to hand gallop a bit for some fitness work.  That went great but then I, not thinking at all, flopped down on his back in an attempt the break to a trot.  Well he did not approve of plopping and took off bucking.  First time ever he has done that.  He has been known to throw in an attitude buck here and there but the running off and bucking was not acceptable, flopping or not it's not acceptable.  It is frustrating because the ride was over that was the last thing I was going to ask and then he does that and I feel I have to start the ride all over again.  Those rides just kinda left a bad taste in my mouth and for some reason didn't help with the lack of motivation.

My goal for this ride was to get on and have an enjoyable ride and then get off.  Mission accomplished!  It was quite a nice ride. He felt very great.  We had nice trot work with leg yields, we had turns on the forehand and lovely canter transitions and I called it a day.  Though to me that in and of itself may have been a big feat I don't know that it qualifies as a 'great feat'.  In the title I was referring more to a  great feat in training that Steady and I hit yet never mentioned it here yet.  I have thought of it but just never have.

We hit this great feat a couple months ago.  In the spring I set out on a mission to get Steady to learn to stretch down.  If you remember I accomplished that and then some cause now he Loves to stretch.  If you saw our last dressage test I couldn't have asked for a better free walk(though it scored way lower than what I thought it would.)  Once he got the walk mastered I moved on to get some stretch at the trot.  The biggest challenge here was going to be some well known faults of Steady's.  When he starts to move more forward he can snowball with too much forward momentum.  Then add in the aides for getting stretch #1 leg #2 more rein.  So you tell me what you think might happen when you put your leg on and give with your hands on a horse like Steady?  Yeah, rushing was his first response.  But like with everything else he does it doesn't take long before he starts to catch on.  I started with a looong and very low walk warm up.  I take up some more contact and ask him to collect a little more but still stay stretched and low with him very much on the bit.  Now with all the walking stretch training when I add leg his initial response is to push into the bit and stretch down more.  So as soon as he pushes I ask for a trot.  Of course he initially comes up and with longer reins I loose the contact but being very quick with my hands I get good contact and push him into the bit with my leg a little.  Again at first the response is to speed up.  I half halt and continue to 'push' with my leg all the while keeping very solid contact.  At the first sign of him pushing onto the bit the contact immediately gets softer.  Being careful not to give the contact away because that is not the reward.  The reward is soft contact not no contact.  Once he pushes onto the bit I give with my hands slightly and push more with my inside leg.  Then slowly but surely he gets lower and lower and when he gets low enough that I am happy with his progress he is much praised and I get him to stay there for as long as I feel he can keep it.  At first that is a stride then it goes to two and so one and before you know it you can do an entire lap around the ring with his nose below his knees and stretching through his back.  And viola you have long, low stretchy trot!

It is such a cool feeling for me that when I add a soft inside leg Steady's reaction is immediately to stretch and feel for the bit.  Not to rush off which was his natural tendency but to seek for contact and stretch.  The accomplishment is that much sweeter because I can say I did that and though to some who jump on a horse and the buttons are installed and you have a great ride I am sure it feels great.  But to get on a horse that you took straight from a long career on the track and slowly but surely install those buttons yourself the feeling is indescribable and irreplaceable.  This is one of our greatest feats yet!  But yet the beauty of this sport is that though one milestone is met it just gets us one step closer to the million more yet to come.