Friday, 29 April 2016

Vicissitudes

I know I've been quiet on the blog lately. It's partially because I'm not riding as mush as I'd like.

The Boy and I have a rental property and the past two months have been spent dealing with tenant drama, finding new tenants, doing repairs (and a major bathroom renovation) and painting every wall in the house. We did the walk through with the new tenants last night so hopefully I won't have to spend 2-4 evenings a week there anymore.

The past weeks have brought some great highs, and some real lows.

Highest High

Another clinic with Sandra Donnelly. Dee and I were in the 3'3"+ group and had a great time schooling 3'3"-3'6". The only moments of anxiety came from a bounce. They were the smallest fences in the last course at 3' while everything else was pushing 3'6" (including a triple and some angled oxers). Turns out I've never schooled a bounce at any height over 2'3". It was set up at the end of the course, it was the triple bar coming out of the corner, 4 (or 5) strides to the bounce.

I was very nervous but I managed to keep my shit together and while it was a little ugly the first time through, nobody died!
The only media I have from the clinic

It was an awesome weekend and I left it feeling like Dee and I were ready to tackle Training.

Low

After my ride on the first day of the clinic I was going to take off when my friend, K, noticed her mare was acting colicky. I decided to stick around to keep her company while she waited for the vet (her mare had colic surgery previously). While waiting we gave her a cold bath and a dose of Banamine as Calika was very dehydrated and was running a temp of 40.2°C. Vet drew blood, did a rectal and basically told us to check on her in a few hours as the Banamine had brought her temp down and she pooped.

Sunday her temp was back up so she got another dose of Banamine. We also put her in a stall to get her out of the sun (she lived in a small outdoor med pen as she was on stall rest for a hole in her check ligament). I checked on her at about 8pm (since I live super close and K doesn't). Calika hadn't ate, drank, or pooped. So the vet was called back out. I ended up hauling her to the clinic as the vet still had no idea why her temp was up as the blood results came back normal.

High

On Thursday Calika came home because she was doing much better, but still undiagnosed.

Low

We went cross country schooling on Thursday as well. It started out really good. And then Dee stopped. I didn't have the greatest pace so we approached again and it was fine. I didn't make much out of it.

Then she stopped at the next fence. And stopped again, and ran out, and ran out. With come help from a horse made wing and a bigger crop we got over it.

And then she stopped at the next fence, 3 strides out. A reapproach got us over it. At this point I was very concerned. The only XC penalties we've ever picked up were at Alhambra when the footing was really bad and she slipped right in front of the jump. This horse does not stop at XC fences, no matter how terrible I'm riding.

I decided to finish up on the small coffin as we've schooled it a ton and the cabin in is no more than 2'9" with the out fence being 2'6". And she stopped at that as well.

I called it quits then. I don't know what happened, but Dee was telling me that she didn't want to play.

Lowest of the Lows

Friday morning K asked me to bring the trailer to the barn. Over night her mare had taken a turn for the worse. She was septic, and obviously suffering. It was time to let her go.

I hauled her back to the clinic and K and I stayed with her until the vets needed to do a necropsy (for insurance).

It was rough. Calika was K's first horse, her partner for over 12 years. Thankfully, she felt relief after, knowing she had made the right decision. I was ok until they cut off her tail, then I was decidedly not ok.

I'm grateful that I had the day off work and was able to help K through it. No one should have to do that by themselves.
Goodbye Big Red. You will be missed

High/Low All At Once

We had the XC course booked for Wed and I really needed to ride Ritchie so it was decided he'd have his first outing.

A friend of mine who lives a few hours away contacted me the nigh before asking if I wanted to do dinner as she'd be in the area for work. Since XC schooling is way more fun than dinner I invited her to join us and ride Dee.

Dee proved her Best Pony status by packing Michelle around. Michelle is a very talented and competent rider. Michelle was content to play Japanese tourist, until her phone died, and stick to the smaller stuff (but she's braver than anyone else I know, she went to Ireland and hunted sidesaddle!). Dee just jumped around like it was no big deal. It made me so happy to see her go, and to see her happy to do it. I've never seen someone else jump her.


Ritchie, on the other hand, was the worst he's ever been. He would refuse to go forward, running sideways instead. He'd rear and spin. His inexperience combined with the fact he hadn't been ridden in over a week made for a challenging ride.

But there were also some lovely moments. He trotted circles all by himself in the field. He jumped his first little bitty log. He stood like a rock when I went to dismount and forgot to detach my air vets until I was half way down. I hung off the side while madly scrambling for the clip and he didn't bat an eyelash.

I had to get off and lead him over every single jump (and the ditch). But after I lead him over it he walked/jumped over it like it was no big deal.
video

I didn't set him up to be super successful and it resulted in a horse who could.not.brain.

Next time I'll do better buddy. Sorry.


Overall, the last weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster. I've got Dee booked to see the vet next week so we can rule out a physical reason for her stopping. She is a 19 yo sport horse, I wouldn't be surprised if some of her joints need some help.


Friday, 15 April 2016

Greenery Jelousy

I finished up with finals this week so I've got a few weeks off of school before the spring semester starts. I'm hoping to haul out for trail rides as much as possible during the down time.

For all of you posting pictures of riding outside I'm just going to leave this here:
This was on Tuesday. Almost no green grass to be seen.

I know we should be grateful that the snow is long gone but I'm seriously envious of the green grass I keep seeing on other people's blogs.

Fancy Dressage-Pony, right before he tripped on a tiny rock and nearly face-planted.

Studly Pants went on his first two real hacks this past week. Once with a lovely, mild mannered gelding. Other than a complete inability to figure out how to walk down a hill in a straight, balanced line, Ritchie was perfect.

Fast forward 3 days and we went out with Dee (a friend rode her for me) and another mare. I had a totally different horse. He was anxious, determined to be glued to Luna and a general pain in the ass. He got light in the front end every time I insisted that he really did have to listen to me. He forgot how to steer. He lost all his marbles when Luna got too far away. He didn't give a hoot about Dee, and we ride with Luna on a regular basis, without any theatrics so I think she may be coming into heat. The joys of riding a young stallion with minimal life experiences.

We managed to end on a really good note. He boldly led through the scary tree/fence line. He couldn't figure out how to step over a log(a really small log) but was game to follow Dee right over. We even managed some trot circles up and down a small hill.

We've set up a standing Tuesday night date for hauling out to hack in the hills. I feel like it will be much more enjoyable once it greens up!

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Amberlea Spring Schooling Show

As I mentioned Dee and I played hooky from responsibility and attended a local schooling show on Sunday. The weather has been unseasonable warm so I even managed to bath the filthy creature on Saturday afternoon.

I had signed up for 2 rounds at 3' and one 3'3" round. I slept in, puttered around my house and then leisurely headed over to the barn to wash legs and load up. I arrived at the grounds (about 45 min away) at 11 and had plenty of time as they were just finishing up the 2'6".
Also, the grey dog attended her first show. This is what she did all day. I think she's going to be a great horse show dog.

We had a relaxed warm up outside before heading in to wait. And then they decided to drag the ring, so we waited some more. Then a quick warm up over the fences. We were able to school a vertical and then oxer-one-stride-vertical combination. The one stride really required an open step, so we put two in the first time through (no even a real chip, just two strides).

My entire game plan for the show was to just get successfully around the courses and to keep working on keeping the pace up, my hands level and being organized through the turns. When we stuck to this plan everything went really well. I really just wanted to get around a 3'3" course at a show before our upgrade to Training.
First course

The first course had me starting out a little under pace, resulting in some interesting jumps. As we got rolling it got better. I put 6 in the 5-stride (on purpose) but nailed the 2 and the 1 strides. Best of all? The 3'0" jumps looked small, really small, and I wan't nervous at all.



We ended up taking first in this class. Our time was over 3 seconds faster than the second place pair (also eventers). People sometimes underestimate us because Dee is small and decidedly not-fancy but we are handy and quick (and both of us are ultra competitive). I made an offhand comment how the navy of the second place ribbons was way prettier. Apparently Karma was listening and decided to provide.
Last two courses
The second course was the Jr/Am and it was the class where I really felt like I rode the best. It wasn't perfect but it had a good rhythm, was organized and just felt good. Except, I got lost. I completely blanked on which was fence 5 so I ended up throwing in a circle before continuing on my merry way. No one ended up making it to the jump off so I ended up with a second.

I was getting a little nervous for the 3'3" but figured if the 3'0" looked small I could totally jump one extra iPhone without any issues. I schooled the one stride in the warm up just to prove to myself that we could do it.

Requisite blurry video still at 3'3"

The 3'3" Jr/Am class only had two of us and I went first. It turned out to be our least pretty round. I spent a good potion of the course asking for more canter and having Dee completely ignore me. I knew we were underpowered and a backwards but without a whip or spurs (this is why I normally always ride with a whip) there wasn't much I could do to convince Dee that I meant it. Despite our issues with pace we got around fine until the last fence. I really rode for the one stride and completely missed the boat on bringing Dee back after in time to organize around the corner to the last oxer. We were just too discombobulated to get over it. She stopped (in slow motion) and I pet her, told her she was a good girl, picked up my canter and re-approached. The second time turned out to be one of our nicest fences of the day.


The stop left us with a second (out of 2) but I was really happy with the whole day. Sure there were pilot errors, and I think Dee was tired, which was why she was resistant to move up (we had a private dressage lesson on Friday and a private jump lesson on Saturday). But we showed at 3'3"! I was nervous but not rendered helpless by anxiety, which is a big improvement over this time last year.


We proved that the height is totally within our range. We were able to get around safely and successfully even when it didn't go perfect. We have 8 more weeks before our Training debut so we've got time to iron out the kinks (and start riding with spurs and/or a whip again)

Thanks to Shimmer-E for the media and to Erin and Isabel for the moral support!

Best picture!

Monday, 4 April 2016

Amberlea SchoolingShow Preview

It's the end of the semsester so I have final projects, presentations and finals. I should have worked on my paper on Sunday, instead I went to a show. Recap to follow, but here's a preview.


Be prepared to see this photo many, many times


Friday, 1 April 2016

Achievement Unlocked!

I was hoping to get a quick jump school in last night and I was not disappointed. I'm signed up for a jumper show on Sunday because I decided that since Stadium is my weakness I should make sure I show a 3'3" course before I move up to Training.

My lessons with Judy have been fabulous and my jumping has come light years in the last two months. The only thing is, in an effort to build my confidence and preserve old lady legs, we mostly jump 2'9"-3'0". I really felt like I needed to school some fences with height before I get to the show and crap my pants while walking.

The jumps were set up and all set between 2'3" and 2'6". Since I was tight on time I left one vertical at 2'6" for a warmup and then proceeded to raise everything else. I set everything between 3'0" and 3'3" (or so I thought).

Dee and I proceeded to have one of our best jump schools ever. I just focused on Judy's advice (hands low and together, organize around the corners and keep the pace) and we jumped around everything like it was no big deal.  The hlaf circle from the pink to the purple to grey to green actually rode really well. Everything rode in a 2 and not once did I feel like we motorcycled around the turn. That's a night and day difference for us.

The brown vertical and green oxer felt a little big (as in Dee actually had to rock back and put some effort in) so after we were done I got off and measured them. Turns out they were 3'6"! Even 3 months ago, the thought of jumping a 3'6" vertical, never mind an oxer, would have resulted in severe anxiety. 
Gameface

I'm excited for the show and now I'm itching for our eventing season to kick off!