Best laid plans

Tentatively, the next event on my calendar is a mini trial on August 18th. I’ve been waffling about doing Novice; the CT went fine in June but we have not been able to cross country school off property all year unless you count the hunter pace we essentially walked our way through (I don’t). Last year Heritage dug a more realistic ditch and Juice is always hesitant about it, and they also have some new jumps.

So I was pleased when an opportunity for a cross country lesson with a local 4* rider at another farm nearby presented itself. A friend and I were set to haul over early this past Saturday morning. I figured I’d hop over everything Novice over there, get some pointers and hopefully feel good about it.

Well. Our trainer canceled a few days before. We tried to look into schooling there on our own, but couldn’t get an answer. So I contacted Heritage, and we planned to just go over there instead. We’d be able to jump everything that would be on the course, even if it gets moved around, that’d be perfect.

Friday afternoon my friend I was going to go with showed up to hack her horse and.. one of his shoes was half off and bent, a nail starting to dig into his sole. Son of a B*#%$! (He is doing fine thankfully) So hauling anywhere was off.

Fine, I thought, maybe I can get Bill to come over and school me on the stuff at home. Nope, out of town. Resident jumper trainer? Away judging a horse show. This shit was REALLY not meant to be and to be honest, I was hesitant to even try jumping because I figured I was in for some kind of disaster.

But, luckily, it was fine. We hadn’t jumped anything, let alone schooled in the field, in ages and Juice was all about it. Unfortunately I have no media of it but he was a super good boy. He took all the distances I asked for and best of all: NO bucking! We didn’t spend too long out there since it was insanely hot and humid. He had yesterday off and we have a little jump lesson tonight.. I think this is exactly what I need right now after slogging along doing only dressage the last month.

This whole lack of a truck and trailer thing is getting so tired. I wish I was made of money sometimes.

Southwind Stables schooling show, 7/29/18

Spent a day this past weekend at the local dressage schooling show. I signed up to do Training 3 twice, that’s how much I hated my ride when I tried it for the first time earlier in the month. My times were at the end of the day, all after 4pm, but we spent a fair amount of time hanging out at the trailer because my friend that hauled me had her first ride much earlier. It was a nice day out and the show had a ton of scratches so it wasn’t busy and things were super relaxed.

Part of the reason there were a lot of people scratching was because my dressage trainer’s truck died that very morning. Once I confirmed she’d still make it to watch my rides, we had this convo:

So that’s about where my head was at this day.

Once it was finally time for me to get on and Juice had consumed the majority of his two giant hay nets I brought, I really just wanted to ride and go home. This is good because it means my anxiety was next to nil (my Mom was in town for this and noted that), but also probably bad because I’m not sure 100% effort was put in. There’s got to be a happy medium between Barely A Schooling Show and Holy Shit Panic Rated Show somewhere. I just haven’t found it yet.

cute little pig

Anyway, Juice warmed up okay. At the last show we had a full size ring, but since I had never been in that ring before it felt normal. At this farm I had only ever ridden in a shortened ring. So in the first test we were a little all over the place. I overshot a couple of transitions and let him get too strong on the canter-trot one across the diagonal. The judge was very sweet and called me over to give some comments about posting rhythm.

The second test was a little better but he was still so hollow in some spots, I cringed watching the video (that I am declining to post because the ring is indoors and lighting terrible. also: giraffe pony). Last week I actually got him a full fledged chiro adjustment and he felt so much better after – but there’s still a lot of resistance and ugly neck bulge happening. Our scores were 61 and 62.9.. about what I expected. We’ve just started Training level so I shouldn’t be that disappointed, but I was watching some tests from a year ago and he looked so much better. I’m not sure where the disconnect is.

So I don’t know. My trainer is going to ride him tonight. I don’t expect her to be a magical missing link, but she hasn’t ridden him in months so maybe it will help. Maybe my new saddle really isn’t the best fit, as I’ve been struggling since I got it. Trying not to jump to conclusions or worry. We could just be in a crappy phase. All I know is that I’m ready to enjoy riding a bit more than I have lately.

New Vocations Charity Show, July 6-8, 2018

Gonna be a marathon read today, as I don’t feel like splitting this up into two posts. There’s lots of media, at least! Spoiler alert: I did not go to Champagne Run this past weekend. You’ll find out why if you can make it to the end of this!

This show had mostly good moments, but I was annoyed about the location the entire weekend so I’ve dragged my feet with the recap. They had hunters, jumpers and dressage, focused on Thoroughbreds. New Vocations retrains (and rehabs, if needed) and adopts out OTTBs, the proceeds from this yearly show go to them. It is run almost entirely by volunteers. The show is held at a fairgrounds north of town, which doesn’t host as many horse shows as it used to, a thing that was very obvious throughout the weekend. The drag and watering people didn’t know when or how to do their jobs, and the footing has gone way downhill. When your solid, barefoot pony has trouble trotting in the warmup ring, you know you have a problem.

mom I’m so bored

But it’s an inexpensive show and it gave me the opportunity to do both jumpers and dressage. Plus tons of people from my barn went, so I joined. I just didn’t realize how far downhill the place had gone. The weather was stupid hot for haul-in and set up on Thursday. I half considered skipping schooling as I was completely soaked in sweat and tired, but we hadn’t been to this venue in a couple years and I really didn’t want to have to get up even earlier the next morning to do it. We went in the ring and jumped around for about 15 minutes and called it a night. The ring was a dust bowl and the footing was uneven, which I expected but I was still disappointed. Juice was a little up but settled in fast.

Fortunately the rest of the weekend had beautiful weather. My plan for Friday was to do the 2’3 jumpers first thing so I could get my rides out of the way, beg someone to feed Juice his dinner and top off his hay and water, and then go home and rest so I’d have enough energy to compete Saturday and possibly Sunday. I was going to be jumping little stuff in KY the following weekend and to be honest, I did not want to sit around all day waiting for the bigger divisions. My lack of patience and hunter jumper shows, especially those that are not managed well, do not get along.

good effort with the watering

Our warmup round was fine, he was a bit strong and inconsistent but not unmanageable.

First round had a jump-off but I had a rail due to some indecision approaching a diagonal line heading towards the in gate. I knew it was going to happen as we left the ground, and accepted it immediately. Might as well save our energy for the speed round. We still got 5th place even with the rail.

Our speed round went well, even after standing around forever waiting for the management to open the card for it (why?? it was in the same division??). Unfortunately I can’t get the video in higher quality, but you can definitely still see him bucking around a turn there towards the end! We placed second, by then Juice was very adjustable and I kept him straight, and stepped up our pace. In typical Allison fashion I forgot where I was going halfway through. Thankfully the new-to-me trainer I worked with that weekend saw it coming and yelled at me to turn. If I hadn’t made such a long rollback because that, I imagine we could’ve won the class. I was still really pleased with Juice and myself, I didn’t get very nervous because I was past caring about the show and what anybody thought of us. I wish I could get my brain to operate like that every time I compete.

Saturday my dressage times were around 11 and 1 for Training 2 & 3. I was happy to arrive at the grounds around 8 and got lots of sleep the night before. In between my rides the show held their lead line class, and Juice did that with my friend’s four year old. The tack change in between my rides wasn’t optimal, but it was worth it for the cuteness of lead line. I also had no idea when my rides would actually happen, as the dressage rings ran anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour late the day before. I tried to be zen about things and continue my I-don’t-care-about-this-show mood. I went in for T2 about ten minutes late. It was… fine. We got a 67 and third place. We had some decent moments but nothing special and I’m still having trouble keeping him round. When I do, it’s fairly awesome:

photo by winslow photography

Lead line actually started on time, major kudos to the girl who was running that ring. She was on top of her shit and it was very efficient, which can be super hard when you’re running hunters all day with a lot of juniors. Juice seemed to know he needed to be a good boy with a little person on his back, and he was perfect.

so adorable

The kiddos got some awesome prizes: a really cute blue ribbon with rainbow horseshoes on it, a trophy, and a stuffed pony. The judge also went down the line and spoke to each kid. Haley had a blast.

I switched my saddles out (I was lazy and left his dressage bridle on for lead line, no one cared). My T3 was the first test after lunch break at 1, and the judge had gone to lunch on time, so by 12:40 I figured I should go ahead and get on. Oh, how wrong I was. The judge was about 15 minutes late coming back from lunch. By the time she showed up, Juice was OVER. IT. and I gave up trying to make him stand still and wait, and we spent the extra time antsing around and walking in circles. I cantered around the outside of the ring while I waited for the whistle, in hopes that would get him to snap back into work. Not so much. Please enjoy the world’s worst halt:

Other than the halt the test wasn’t terrible. I got a really nice stretchy trot circle out of him and despite an ugly transition going into my second loop, we still managed a 65 for 5th place.

I hitched a ride home for Juice with my dressage trainer shortly after we finished. If I was going to show Sunday it would be on a friend’s horse so I didn’t see any point in keeping him there. My husband left the show a few minutes ahead of the trailer my car. I followed the trailer in his SUV, with all my tack and supplies. I hadn’t even gotten out of the town we were in when he called me to say the Honda had broken down and he was sitting in the middle of an intersection. Well, shit. I quickly called my trainer and asked her to put Juice away for me and met up with my husband. A guy had pushed him into a nearby parking lot and our insurance had a tow truck on the way. He wanted to stay with the car, so he sent me to the barn to drop off all my crap and his dad picked him up from the dealer. Shitty end to the weekend. The problem with the car wound up being pretty major, so once I learned I could get a partial refund, I decided to scratch the event at KHP. I just did not feel right spending another $500 on gas and hotel and food after dropping twice that much on the car.

So that kinda sucks, but I truly don’t have as much interest in showing this year as I did last year. I’m a little mad at myself for signing up for the event so impulsively, but I’m glad I decided not to go. Next on the calendar is a small dressage schooling show at the end of the month, where I am thinking of doing T3 a couple times to hopefully improve that one a bit. Besides a jump lesson this evening, I’m going to be working my butt off trying to smooth out our dressage.

cute pic my husband took, just because.

Goings on

Summer showing season is well on its way to full swing around here. No more shows for me yet, but I have two on the horizon that weren’t there until recently. More on that later.

Last weekend I helped out at the local dressage schooling show where some friends had great rides, then we had a group summer birthday party. My birthday was earlier this month and I was gifted a second pair of Smartpak Hadley breeches. I bought some at LRK3DE and managed to get the wrong size, and by the time they got sent back I decided I needed the refund more than the pants. So that was a nice surprise!

Juice’s allergies have been terrible this year. I had to have the vet come out for him and he was put on a couple days of dex and an antihistamine, and he’s much better with no more coughing. I must add that if your horse will eat it, Cough Free does work, but I felt like he was miserable enough to need stronger meds this time.

Since I’ve gotten a little more consistent with my dressage lessons, I’m starting to understand the feel of it and riding in the new saddle much better. That doesn’t stop me from gripping with my whole leg like an idiot the day after I do a jump ride, but it’s a work in progress. It goes so against my entire riding foundation to be more “loose” in the saddle, but I’m trying. I’ve never been one to shove my heel down super hard, but it’s so hard to try not to do it at all.

I have no recent media so here is Juice being cute by the pond

At the same time these rides are coaxing a brand new big and lofty trot out of Juice that I’ve never even ridden before, so my body is like OMGWTF as I try to get my core stronger. I hope to have some media of said trot later this week. Fellow eventers or those who have done both jumping and dressage: what are some concepts that help you to improve your position? As long as I get Juice going forward I really don’t have to worry about him for stadium or xc, so the dressage saddle is seeing a TON of action this summer.

That’s good because we are finally going to ride training level in a week and a half at a big schooling show. I’ve been so busy trying to get my body to cooperate I haven’t even learned T2 & 3 yet besides practicing loops and stretchy circles, so I guess I should do that. We’ll also do a couple jumper rounds that weekend, but I’m keeping us at 2’3 and 2’6 so it’s not too tiring.

And a week after that, I may have signed up for the same recognized HT (Champagne Run) we went to last summer at the Kentucky horse park. Staying at starter for peace of mind. YOLO, I guess!

Springhill Farm Hunter Pace, 6/9/18

Last week threatened to become a disaster for me. The sore foot persisted and I could barely walk on Monday. By Wednesday it was doing better but my part-leaser was scheduled to ride, so I went to a minor league baseball game with the husband and a friend to test out how it’d do after some walking like a normal human. It felt fine by the end of the night, then just before we went up to bed, I threw my back out. For the second time in a week I had to be helped up the stairs to sleep and I kind of had a meltdown about it. For being almost 38 years old, I sometimes feel MUCH older than that and it can be so frustrating.┬áThe back issue loosened up as the day went on Thursday so I went to ride and it felt fine other than when I had to bend all the way over.

Saturday the local hunt held this year’s first hunter pace. I only made it to one last year – the one hosted by my own barn and Juice was a giant asshole that day so does it even count? – and I would really like to go to all four this year, we usually enjoy them so much. If you’re not familiar with what a hunter pace is, here’s some info! Basically a somewhat competitive trail ride that simulates what you see and do when hunting. An open spot on a friend’s trailer presented itself, and at the last minute the forecast full of thunderstorms shifted to late afternoon. After the week I had, I welcomed things falling into place so well.

We packed up the ponies and arrived just as the fast group of horses were going out. My friend that I went with works nights and was coming straight from a twelve hour shift, so we wanted to go as soon as they would let the slower groups start. We registered, coated ourselves and the horses in bug/fly spray, and wandered through the start line at a blazing walk just before 10:00.

cutest pone in all the land waiting for me to get on

We both just wanted an easy ride of mostly walking with jumps mixed in, and that’s exactly what we got. Juice can be a jerk with other horses but he got along with Sam’s horse Joey immediately, and we took turns leading the ~5 mile course. The majority was through the woods, too, which limited the exposure to the quickly increasing heat and humidity. There was some mud from the rain last week, but it was very manageable at a walk.

I do love going out with groups of friends at hunter paces, but it can cause a lot of anxiety and Juice has small horse syndrome, it’s really just stressful sometimes when we do the faster speed. Thinking I might stick with the slowest pace for now. And we sure did live up to that – we were the second slowest team, hahahaha. So no ribbon for us, but who cares?

Sunday I was not sore thanks to the lack of fighting over how fast we were going at the pace, so I watched my part-leaser’s lesson on Juice and then rode Dutch (Joanne’s big black horse) and Sebastian (Tyline’s baby OTTB). Both of them require a lot more work and managing than Juice which is a fun change but man I am feeling it today. Hopefully I’ll be good for my first dressage lesson this week in.. um.. way too long.




Heritage Novice CT, 6/2/18

Yesterday’s CT was a great welcome back to show season. The weather was lovely, tons of the usual friends and acquaintances came out to ride. My husband also volunteered at the jump ring! He has done it several times before, but last year the scheduling didn’t work out as well so he only made it to one.

Juice got to ride on our friend Cori’s maiden voyage – she has had the trailer for a year or so now, but only recently got a truck. This was the first time she hauled to a show with her own truck and two horses in the trailer and it went great. I’m excited to go on more adventures.

cute pone tied to said trailer

Since the mini-trial was reduced to a CT, they decided to run the levels backwards for this first show of the year so that people would have a chance to school lower levels if desired. It felt weird not showing until 1pm, but the scheduling worked out great; Novice dressage at 1, BN jump round 2ish, then Novice jump round 2:30ish.

I got on pretty early as our dressage rides the past week weren’t the best and it took me a while to feel good about everything. It turned out there was no need for it, Juice actually felt great right away, so we walked around the property and said hi to people while we waited for the judge and scribe to return from lunch. I forgot to bug someone to try to get video of my dressage test, which is fine because it wasn’t anything special and Juice decided to poop after our first trot circle. I tapped him with the whip and didn’t break to a walk, though. We wound up with a 30.48. Our canter transitions weren’t beautiful and he had several hollow moments, and the judge scored them fairly. I was proud of getting 8’s on our down centerline and halt at the end, though.

at least I have a very cute pic in our dressage tack?

This is the first event we’ve gone to with two sets of tack and while this is obviously a nice problem to have, tack changes and having to clean/put away an extra saddle, bridle, saddle pad and girth is annoying! I’ll get used to it, I’m sure. We had plenty of time to take everything off, let pony rest a bit, then tack up again. I popped over three warmup jumps and headed over to stadium.

Our schooling round went fine aside from some sassiness after the first jump (not uncommon for us) and my brain falling out of my head after the second jump. I don’t know what the hell happened but I somehow started to go to the wrong jump, despite 2 & 3 being primarily the same color and a straightforward seven stride line. I circled and jumped 3 and continued on, and we were clear. Good thing that round didn’t count.

Juice was getting grumpy and antsy so I had to walk him around a bunch while they raised the jumps and added a fence at the end, making 9 a two stride combination. I was getting hungry and feeling anxious about really doing this, but I tried to ignore it.

The sassmaster really came out for this one, but I rode it out and did not get lost! And, what do you know, jumping the bigger jumps was pretty fun. I felt fine after clearing the first oxer.. by a mile. I was attempting to use this round as an opportunity to practice letting him get closer to the fences to help him with the height, but as you can see Juice just wanted to fly. Had the first jump at the combination been a vertical, I probably could’ve made him fit three strides in there, but we had to go for a long two and he knew it. We went clear. No mane to hang onto, but I had my grab strap, thank god.

I rinsed him off, cleaned up our little lounge area by the trailer and my friends and I poured a bottle of sparkling wine. Cori had a great day with several blue ribbons, my other friends did well too. We wound up 4th out of four in our division, as usual we just need to work on our dressage. I’m happy with a ~30 score despite no dressage lessons for months, we made it around stadium, and that’s all that matters. Also big thanks to my friend Tyline for helping me out all day, she took most of the photos and the videos on this post!

The only crappy thing to come out of this weekend is that my stupid arthritic/deformed right foot is very angry that I rode several days in a row after not riding for two weeks, and then went to a horse show. I’ve parked myself on the couch with it elevated and hopefully it’ll be a lot better tomorrow or Tuesday.