Monday, September 30, 2013


Uh oh. We have a minor problem on our hands. Next Sunday is our FIRST EVER EVENT! It's just a little tiny schooling show, but hey, we gotta start somewhere! She has already jumped around the entire little XC course that we'll be doing, although we will definitely school it again the day before, and she's also good and game over pretty much every stadium fence I've pointed her at (simple things, obviously... she might think differently when they get more complicated!). So what's the problem here?

We, um... can't canter.

Well, I guess that's not entirely true... we CAN canter, and gallop, and do both all the time... but to do it in a respectable dressage-y manner? Not so much. We've spent a LOT of time doing simple walk-trot stuff, but mostly I've just let her canter when it felt right or when we were jumping, as her balance permitted. She was such a runaway freight train that cantering up until now has just been TOTALLY out of the question - if you can't stop a horse when they're trotting, you sure aren't going to be able to stop them when they are cantering! Up until recently, she was still having moments where she would bolt off in the trot at high speed with no steering or brakes, so I felt that she just wasn't ready for canterwork. Now that her walk-trot work is really coming together and she has really become fairly quiet and relaxed, it is time to start adding canterwork. Unfortunately for us, our test this weekend has canterwork in it... and we're definitely not ready yet. She will be ready, it won't take *too* much time.... but she's not quite there yet. 

She's funny in that she doesn't really know the proper dressage-y cues for canter, as far as I can tell. If you lean at her over whichever particular shoulder you want your lead to be on and kiss at her, she'll usually pop up into the canter. If you half-halt, sit down, and cue her, she explodes forward with her head in your lap, and goes zooming off in every direction. Good luck with the lead, you have a 50% chance of getting the right one! I'll have to do some experimenting this week to see if I can sort of fake it for the test, but usually when she gets cantering, she gets that zooming, churning, grunty-snorting, dirtbiking thing going on that is definitely accentuated on a circle. This week I am jam-packed at work, and the sun is going down a LOT earlier than it used to, so we'll see how much *real* dressage time I get.... it should be, uh, interesting this weekend in the test!

I had a blast at the AECs this weekend, and had a ton of fun cheering on old and new friends, but it was back to the grind today! I was going to trailer up to WD to do some dressage work, but it was so gorgeous this morning that I was craving a trail ride... but I needed to do dressage..... but I wanted to trail ride.... oh what to do! 

I decided to compromise and do both at the same time. Hey, why not? Dressage is where you make it!

Those of you familiar with Fort Worth will recognize both the skyline and the Stockyards! O was a little bundle of jumpy nerves for most of the ride, although I can't blame her - it's a pretty scary set of trails. She didn't do anything wrong, but she was quick to start at everything that moved or didn't move (AHH a squirrel! AHH a bag! AHH a guy! AHH water! AHH a car! AHH a rock!). Once we set in to do our flatwork, she was pretty good in the walk and trot, but the canter was pretty messy, as expected. The more canterwork you do, the hotter she gets, so it's kind of a delicate process.... well, we'll get there!

I'm getting excited though... we're less than a week away from our first event!

Friday, September 27, 2013


After our wonderful success last weekend at O's inaugural dressage show, we've had another good week of work mixed with some days off. She got Monday and Tuesday off, quite rightfully (not that she worked hard on Sunday at ALL, it was easy-peasy compared to her usual, but I did feel that she deserved it anyway!), and then she was back to work on Wednesday with a nice long hack. It was dark by the time we got back.... there is part of me that wants to gripe about that, but it means that cooler weather is coming, so I guess I can't whine too much!!

It was back to work on Thursday with a very light dressage school. Our flattest area on the property, which I use for my flatwork, is unfortunately also currently full of rocks, all of which seems to have sprouted after our last massive rainstorm. It's a bit tricky to do anything serious up there because of this, and I didn't put O's boots on, which was not a smart thing to do. We got some very productive walk and trot work done, but that was about it, and I called it a day after a short but very successful session. 

O also made a new best friend....

S's little niece was there visiting, in all her precious cowgirl attire. She is 4 and she was in loooooove with O. O has really become super gentle and quiet since I've had her, and was more than willing to follow the tiny little human around wherever she wanted to go. 

Kind of reminds me of another little mare and her pet kid...

Gogo and my old boss' little 6 year old son, who did in fact carry his Hobbes around with him everywhere. Gogo doted on him and followed his every move... seriously adorable.

Today was supposed to be another easy hack, just because I was enjoying the cooler weather so much and wanted nothing more than to just toodle around, but that didn't work out quite the way I was hoping. We set off down the road, but O gave me a little bit of a sour face when we turned away from the barn. It wasn't any outright misbehavior, but she had her ears pulled into that not-quite-back-but-not-quite-relaxed position, just a little bit of attitude about having to leave the barn. I gave her a minute to change her attitude and legged her on, but when she continued to be just a little balky and crabby about leaving (not doing anything wrong, just moving out a little stickily and turning her head from side to side like she'd really rather turn around and go back home), I booted her onward and we took off down the road. The entire reason I got this mare for so darn cheap was because of her totally unchecked bossy attitude, so anytime she gives me ANY grief of ANY sort, no matter how subtle, I put my foot down. We had a decent workout after that, trotting and cantering back and forth up the road, but I never really felt like her attitude was totally 'with it', if you know what I mean. She was obedient and didn't do anything wrong per se, she just wasn't particularly amused by it. Sorry mare, we were supposed to just go for a nice walk, you know!

Tomorrow, she gets the day off..... BECAUSE OF THE AECs!!!!!!!!!! That's right, they are right here in Tyler, TX for the next three years! It's about a 2.5 hour drive from here.... I'm going up for the whole day to spectate and have fun and shop and enjoy myself!!!!! The goal for next year... COMPETE in it! 

I also have some news.... some very big news. Some very very big news! Some of you guessed on Facebook already.... but.... I am going to make you wait for the official announcement until next week when it is official! Let's just say that finding little cheapie fixerup projects might really be my calling... 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Curragh Schooling Dressage Show 9/22/13

WOW did we ever have a grand entrance into the show world together! O's first show ever, and my first show in several years (since Gogo got injured!), and I couldn't have asked for better from her. She was just great.

We had a great school yesterday at one of the local barns that we trailered out to for S's lesson. We were supposed to trailer to WD to school, but there was a carriage rally (that we didn't know about until Friday night) going on for the weekend, so we had to change plans at the last second. We spent the morning instead at a place with a covered arena that neither of us had been to before, which was great since everything at the home barn was still totally underwater! O had one of those days when she just came right out and got to it, giving me some excellent and relaxed work. I kind of had expected her to be a fire-breathing monster given her earlier behavior - before we left the home barn, I had groomed her in her paddock and put on a brand new set of polos while she was still eating hay. I normally don't put polos on before the horse is in the crossties and ready to go, but I felt like being preemptive was a good thing, plus I wanted as usual to fill her up with hay before she went and bounced around on the trailer. She took that golden opportunity to wig out for no particular reason and take off galloping at high speed, bucking and leaping and flying around with mud slinging in every direction. So much for the new polos being so pretty and clean! I guess she must have gotten it out of her system before we got there, because she was perfect after that!

I was feeling good about the show going into it, not really expecting to score well but hoping that she would put in a respectably consistent and quiet set of tests. All I really wanted to do was go get some experience under her belt, and make it positive. It ended up being all of that and more!

Our first test was Intro A, which is absurdly easy on paper. Everything is a little bit trickier on a green horse though, so I wasn't about to take anything for granted! It wasn't all that long ago that she couldn't go on a 20 meter circle at all without bolting off, falling in, or trying to generally kill the both of us. Hell, we were lucky if we had brakes and steering half the time, much less anything else! This mare has really started to come around as of late - she is finally figuring out how to stay in a good relaxed rhythm, not fall in when we turn, bend properly, and listen and respond to independent aids. She used to use speed as an evasion, but she is learning how to balance herself and stay steady instead of bolt off the second she loses balance.

In Test A, she was perfect. She didn't have much in the way of impulsion, and had a few moments here and there where she got tired and hung on me hard, but I'd rather take the slower, not particularly engaged trot versus the running out of control trot that we had before, for the time being. Eventually she'll find the happy medium as she continues to get stronger, and will find it easier to carry her own head. And again, I'd rather take her being too heavy in the contact than backed off behind the bit or flinging her head in the air! I really wish I had more videos of her early rides... she used to be SO BAD!

We scored a 69.38%! The judge was particularly excited that I changed bend properly and complimented my understanding of riding O through her whole body, "because everything comes from this!" We scored several 7s, a few 6s, and one very exciting 9. The judge caught and commented on the times when she was losing energy, which I knew as well. Like I said before, I'd rather have not quite enough energy versus way too much energy at this point, so it's fine for the time being!

Test B went slightly less well from my perspective but scored better - a 73.13%! That's the second best score I've ever gotten! The judge was generous, but I think it was fair and warranted for Intro. We scored all 7s and 8s, and another 9 for our smart transition from trot to walk right in front of the camera. The judge remarked at the end that all of our halts were crooked - that's so my fault! I need to sit straighter and prepare her better, and I think a lot of improvements will come from that. Add some more impulsion as she gets stronger and more confident, and I think she'll be really good. Really really good, I hope!

She looks pretty darn nice in blue, don't you think?

And yes, to top it all of we were the Intro division Champions!! That is my first ever Champion ribbon! I've won several Reserve Champion ribbons but never a Champion. That's awesome. 

It's just a schooling show, of course, and it was just Intro... but I can't help but be excited for the future. We're hoping to do a schooling HT in about two weeks.... then we'll really be kicking things off!!

Friday, September 20, 2013


I am definitely making it a goal to keep more lengthy blog updates and keep better tabs on my bloggy friends.... I feel like I've really not been a part of the blogging community much ever since Gogo died. I've not actually been part of the human community either.... I've been very solitary for the past two years, probably to a fault. Something else that should probably be addressed, but I really enjoy my alone time, so maybe not.

Anyway. Catch-up time! When we last left off, we were having some nice flatwork sessions in the barrel saddle. Obviously we can't exactly show in western tack (although there is that weird western dressage thing...) so this week it was high time to get back into my other saddles. On Sunday, I trailered out to WD to get some more serious flatwork done... and we were just NOT on that day. She was due for her shot, which I think was part of it, but the other part... well, who knows. Sometimes a cranky red mare just doesn't want to play the game! She couldn't relax through her back at all, and curled up and gnashed away at the bit for a solid hour... she just would. Not. Relax. I mistakenly tried to see if she'd blow off a little steam in the canter and maybe relax a little once she tired out - 20+ solid minutes of canter (with no breaks, at all) later she was still chugging away at high speed, so I canned that idea and went back to the walk. We had a few good moments, but I finally came to the conclusion that we just needed to find somewhere to end the session on a good note. 2 hours in and it wasn't getting any better at all? Time to pick something she's good at and end there. Overall, it was not a very good day, but we did finish on a halfway decent note. Phew!

Yep that's about how I felt about the ride too.

She had Monday off, as I was not feeling very well. Tuesday we got back to work with a nice flatwork session - at a barrel race! (Yes, that means I was back in the barrel saddle.... but oh well. You gotta blend in after all!) She started out being a total monster, tearing off around the ring at high speed and blasting through all my aids. She had just had her shot that morning, so I wasn't expecting her to be settled yet, but she surprised me when I finally got fed up with her and trotted her right out of the ring and over to an empty parking lot - she loosened up, stretched out, took a contact, and got to it. A few laps around the parking lot and we trotting back to the ring, where she then was totally quiet and foot-perfect. Random, but I'll take it! We toodled around after that, watching people make their runs in the below-ground air conditioned arena (!!), and we finished up the evening with a nice bath and some grazing (and some beer for yours truly). 

Geez she's so cute I could just die whenever I look at her!

Wednesday night we were slated for a good long walk hack, so we spent two hours walking around in the cow pasture, inspecting the remnants of a fire that the neighbors' dumb welder started a few days prior. Who welds when it hasn't rained in 3.5 months and it is howling windy out? That guy, apparently! He also has let the neighbors' horses out several times, and left his equipment in their paddock, which cut up and crippled THREE of the horses already. Next he'll be burning the house down!

Thursday was flatwork-slash-trails. I've had really excellent luck schooling her out on the trails, where she has other things to think about rather than go around and around in a boring old sandbox, and I can go on straight lines for as long as I please. We do a LOT of flatwork on the side of the road and on the road itself, as odd as that sounds. Unorthodox, but it really seems to work for her. She started out a little tight in her back, as we were going away from the barn (and while she is obedient, she'd really rather not leave the barn and generally takes some ongoing 'please-walk-faster' conversations), and at some point I again got tired of it and gave her a few wake-up transitions to smarten her up. She fussed and tightened up, but we did some leg yields back and forth across the road and she melted right into the contact, right where she should be. That isn't usually the case, but now that she is learning more about isolating one side or another versus leg-on-means-burst-forward, I'm thinking this will be a good suppling tool for her. After that, she was GREAT, and we did some extremely nice, extremely relaxed flatwork all the way back to where S was schooling her mare (somewhere back up the road). S got unceremoniously dumped at this point - her new project mare reared and twisted in an attempt to avoid the right lead canter - but she laughed and got back on. I glanced up at the sky, and noticed that there were some angry black clouds way west of us. "Hm, I wonder if it is going to rain," I wondered outloud. We trotted back on up the road for a little way, finally reaching the top of the hill and patting our mares for their good work. I looked up again at the sky and did a double take - were those clouds closer? "I think we might get some rain," I told S. She nodded, but said that she figured she'd at least be able to get 15 minutes in on her other horse once we got back, and we started up the road towards home. About 45 seconds later I looked up again, and the clouds had taken on the form of a big angry wall cloud, and it was ON us. "Uh... maybe we should trot back?" I casually asked as the thunder started. Trotting back turned into a nice canter for O, who was surprisingly obedient considering the temperature had suddenly dropped about 20 degrees and the wind had started to howl. S's mare was not so obedient, and I heard some choice curse words and yelling behind me as the mare went careering out of control across the field behind us! We all made it back in one piece, and no sooner had we ripped off our tack and gone trotting back down to the barn than all hell broke loose. Lighting, thunder, sideways pelting rain and hail all came smashing down, and everything flooded. We checked the forecast, saw that it was supposed to do that ALL night and all day today, and decided to leave the horses stalled for the night. I wasn't sure how O would deal with it, but she was very quiet, and hung out all day today as well while it downpoured. I was going to go with S to WD, but after I spent all morning in the rain I was feeling pretty grumpy and cold and crappy, so I decided to give her the day off instead. They're back out in turnout as of tonight, thankfully!

"Pardon my flymask nosey rub, I may or may not have seriously sensitive redhead syndrome"

Tomorrow, we ride and go over tests one final time, clip and clean up (is it worth giving a bath tomorrow in the mud? Probably best to wait until the morning of!), clean tack, polish boots, find out what the heck happened to my show clothes... and Sunday, we show!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Countdown to our first little show.... 3 days!!

This is just a quickie update to tell all this, and I can't believe I'm saying it... we're going to a show on Sunday!!

It's just a little tiny, tiny, tiny, extra tiny - did I mention tiny - local schooling show at Curragh, where we went XC schooling last. We're just doing the Intro A and B tests (not C, C has canter in it and we're not quite ready for that yet... I can't guarantee we'll stay in the ring!), so we'll probably either be totally alone in our division or going up against tiny children on cute ponies. It is going to be 100% hit or miss at this point - she might go in and put in a super nice set of tests, or she might go in and be a total nightmare mess. My goal is to just go in and do it, to get some experience under her belt. She is at the point in her flatwork where she'll always get to where I am very happy with her final work... it's just getting there that can sometimes be tricky. Some days she'll come right out and get to work, and some days she'll be a nightmare when you first start out. Some days she'll be good until mid-ride, and then she'll lose it about something. She'll thrash around for a little while, and then get over it and go on with herself. She always gets to a good point, and it usually doesn't take all that long, but she requires a tactical ride and she is not always predictable. It will be a good experience for her either way but I'm not expecting to come away with ribbons and good scores. All she needs is for it to be a good experience.

I have been a busy busy girl, but hopefully tomorrow I'll have a little more time to fill you all in on the week. It's been a little bit and miss, but she had her shot a few days ago and seems to be settling down. 

As for tonight, it is POURING out, so the kids are all up in stalls for the night. I don't think O has been stalled much, so it's a good time to start acclimating her to the idea (she'll only be stalled if she is at a show or if the weather is terrible, but it is still something she needs to be ok with). 

I swore I was going to get better at keeping bloggy updates coming regularly, but I haven't gotten any better so far. More soon!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Womp womp!

Well... phooey. Our first scheduled schooling HT of the season - of ever! - was supposed to be the weekend of the 21st-22nd. The schooling HT at WD that we were going to do got cancelled, and I opted to just school at the Curragh show instead of actually show (only because of the dressage test at that show... Intro C is super complicated for that level and has canter work, which I didn't think she was ready for... seriously, the test is more complicated than all the BN and N tests put together!!). The Curragh school went great, and I was feeling confident that we were going to head off to the Lazy Dog show and have a great first experience - the courses were a piece of cake, the dressage test was just Intro A, and all was going to be chill and fine.
And then, I found out today that the show had been cancelled.

Ah well, nothing to be done about it. I'm glad I went and looked at the NTEA calendar again, because that isn't the only change on there.... tons of things have been switched around!! I forget about the difference between schooling shows and recognized shows.... the recognized ones are for the most part set in stone, and are usually held at the same times every year. The schooling shows get cancelled, get added in, get moved and get altered all the time, and that's just how it is. Our new/altered calendar looks something like this:

Sept 7th: Curragh Open Schooling
Sept 21st-22nd: Lazy Dog Ranch Open Schooling & Schooling HT (Schooling Sat, HT Sun) CANCELLED
Sept 22nd: Curragh Schooling Dressage Show (MAYBE Intro A & B?)

Oct 5th-6th: Curragh Open Schooling & Schooling HT (Schooling Sat, HT Sun)
Oct 19th-20th: Quail Run Open Schooling & Schooling HT (Schooling Sat, HT Sun) MOVED TO NOV
Oct 19th: Dallas Dressage Schooling Dressage Show (MAYBE)
Oct 26th: 5th Annual Brazos Valley Hunt Fun Show & Trail Ride Challenge

Nov 2nd-3rd: Quail Run Open Schooling & Schooling HT (Schooling Sat, HT Sun)
Nov 4th: Curragh Schooling Dressage Show (MAYBE)
Nov 9th-10th: Texas Rose HT (MAYBE, but it's a BIG maybe! Not likely!)
Nov 16th-17th: Greenwood Farm Open Schooling & CT (Schooling Sat, CT Sun)
Nov 23rd-24th: Meadow Creek Park HT (MAYBE but not likely)

Dec 7th: Las Colinas Schooling Dressage Show

This also means I need to contact Dr. H and switch up her hormones... not totally sure of what our plan of action is going to be, but something will need to be done!

We've had a good week following our XC school - a nice flatwork/hack session the day after the school, a day off on Monday, an intense flatwork session on Tuesday and another intense flatwork session plus a XC school on Wednesday (and today a deserved day off).

(That pumpkin cider..... SO GOOD.)

Here's a comparison video of O at the rope arena in July, and at the rope arena on Tuesday... don't mind me flopping around like a dying fish in the western saddle, check out how she is finally getting the idea of stretching out and taking the contact! (Notice how much she was flinging her head around in the first video - she was wearing a tie-down as well. Second video, no tie-down, no nothing except a snaffle and no noseband!)

Yesterday was a great ride too - I spent an hour doing flatwork at WD in my jump tack before heading out to the XC course. She doesn't feel as free in her back in my jump saddle as she does in my dressage saddle.... for all intents and purposes it fits her well, but I think she's not as fond of the firmer foam panels on that saddle versus the cushy wool panels on the dressage saddle. She was fine, she didn't do anything wrong and certainly behaved well.... she jumps well in it, she stretches out and gallops great in it... she just isn't as elastic in her back when we're flatting.
After her preliminary workout, we went out onto the XC course to play a little. I had her in her mullen mouth snaffle, not the pelham, so I wasn't totally sure if we'd have brakes... but we did! That hour of "hey there lady listen to my half-halt" helped a lot in that. Ideally I want to get her to where I can run her in a snaffle XC if at all possible.... XC is exciting though, it's hard to blame her! The girl LOVES to jump.... even fences that are spooky to start, she'll slow down, sniff them, and then walk right over. On the second approach, and every approach thereafter, she's dragging me to them. This obviously won't work for bigger fences that you can't step over, but for right now it serves as a confidence builder. I want to try and make sure she never learns how to run around them... she needs to think there is only one way to get past the jump, and that is OVER IT! She did several logs, coops, little benches and of course the water, which she runs through with enthusiasm every time. Her form is improving too - sometimes her green-ness gets in the way of her enthusiasm and she goes flailing over things with legs in every direction. That just takes time, and she is showing continual improvement. Even if we can't do our little schooling HT this month, she'll be more than ready for the Curragh show next month, Intro Test C be damned. We can do it!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Reposted from the Eventing-A-Gogo blog from two years ago: 9/11, a Tribute

Things have changed since that post. That particular war is over and Osama is dead and gone, but a new war is just beginning. Our country is move divided and full of hate now than I ever remember it being before in my lifetime. But on this day, we unite, and we will never forget.

In exactly one month, Gogo will have been gone for two years.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Buffness

A comparison shot of O, first shot taken in early April and second shot taken today in early September....

BOOM. THE BUFFNESS. I keep thinking that she has gotten fat but honestly most of it is just that she is super buff! She is CRAZY FIT!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Beat the Heat

Ughhhh. I am so over summer. All of my northern friends are going on about how lovely and brisk the weather has been, making me long for the crispness of the New England autumn that I used to know and love. Fall in Texas mostly just sucks.... no pretty colors, no wonderful crisp chill, no brilliant blue sky, no scarves and coats and boots and gloves, no pumpkin spice anything. The ONLY good thing about impending fall is that maybe, if we're lucky, the temperatures will lower into the 80's by the end of the month.. but that's mostly just wishful thinking. It was still 100+ degrees today, has been 100+ degrees all week, and looks like it will continue to be 100+ degrees for at least the next few weeks. 

What is the major problem with it still being 100 degrees at this time of year? It is no longer possible for me to get up and ride before it is time to head off to work - it is too dark in the early mornings. That means I have to ride in the blazing heat every day, and some days I just don't even have time to ride at all. Being able to organize my own schedule generally means that I avoid that situation - I slot in riding time every day if at all possible, or at least enough time for a good grooming session at mealtimes - but time with the business unfortunately has to trump time in the saddle some days. This week I didn't get to log the saddle time that I had wanted, but I still managed to squeeze in a few very productive and very awesome rides. Part of the challenge of building a business is also building in proper time for myself - something I'll be working on harder from now on for sure. 

A few very great flatwork sessions have left me really feeling like O is finally really understanding what a half-halt is for. As she gets stronger, she is starting to balance herself from front to back better, and can rate herself reasonably well. Her old habit was to go as fast as she possibly could, then slow down, then speed up, go sideways, raise her head, root as hard as she could, bolt off, stop responding to leg or rein aids, and so on. Part of it was sheer belligerence and a "can't make me" attitude, but the other part was that she was truthfully just totally unbalanced, and found it easier to plow along on her forehand, snowballing faster and faster out of control, rather than take some responsibility for her hiney and actually use it. Now, she is finally getting to the point where she takes a half-halt and stretches out to the contact further with each one, rating herself and becoming more balanced from front to back. She isn't totally balanced 100% of the time of course, but she is really starting to get it. She always starts out speeding along, but she generally winds down in short order and gets to work. One of the nice things about her is the fact that she comes out the same every single day, no matter if she has worked her tail off the day before or done nothing for a few days. She is simple in that while she is hot to start out, you can just hop right on no matter where you are and walk off on a long rein. You always know that she is going to be the same, no matter where she is. 

Such was the case today as well - we headed out to Curragh for another XC school! Curragh is an equestrian center that is only 10 minutes down the road from us, which is super nice. They have a whole XC course through Training as well as a little separate Elementary course that is in a fenced off area all by itself (that's obviously not me riding but you can see what the little course looks like). It is perfect for a green horse - it is small, fully fenced in, and with just enough interesting stuff on course to give a green horse good exposure without frightening it. There is a little log on a hill, a tiny little brush, a little painted house, and a tiny ditch, along with several other small jumps. My goal for the day was to get O around the Elementary course in full, all pieced together - her first 'real' XC course! 
I decided for the day to switch up her bit, and went with a Happy Mouth mullen mouth pelham. She is going like gangbusters in her Happy Mouth mullen mouth eggbutt on the flat, so I decided to give the pelham a try. With the pelham, I can ride off the snaffle until I need a little 'excuse me hello' from the curb, and I already knew she loved the mouthpiece before I even put it in, so it was well worth a try. I wasn't disappointed by my choice - she LOVED it! I had plenty of control when I needed it, and was able to loosen up my curb rein and do some proper flatwork as well. Don't laugh at me, but I did use a flash with the pelham... and my curb rein had martingale stops, just because I didn't have another pair of reins around that didn't have them!! (For the most part, you all know that I am strict about proper equipment and etiquette... but I broke my rule for this one!)

Even with her few little green mistakes (hmmm, that house is kind of funny looking... should I stop? No? Well, ok, I will walk over it. That is a weird ditch, should I stop? No? Ok, let's go.), she was great. Rate-able, game, controlled and willing, she did the entire course twice without stopping, and once she had been over the ditch and the red house, she didn't look again. This horse is going to force me to be better over fences for sure... when I get everything perfect, she jumps very well, but when I don't give her enough freedom, she is quick to fling her head up and jump like a stag. It is up to me to be better for her sake!

After she jumped around the little course, we went out onto the bigger course with the rest of the group and hacked around for awhile. I let her stretch her legs and gallop on for a bit, then popped over a few of the smaller BN sized jumps without having her look at them beforehand. She even did a decent sized BN-N rolltop, although she did stop and look at it the first time. I probably could have legged her harder and gotten her over it the first time, but all she really needed to do was pause and think about it for a second, and then she popped over it twice more with no further problems. No need to rush at this point... better to let her think about it instead of force her to go and flail over it and scare herself. It was the biggest I've jumped her yet. We also cantered through the water a few times, and even jumped out of the water via a little bank - the first bank she has done. She was, uh... enthusiastic cantering into the water... meaning she basically took the last stride to launch herself in like Superwoman. We came cantering out to a round of applause by another group going by.


Monday, September 2, 2013

End of August Recap; September Goals!

It's September!! That means that rain, cooler weather, and the fall show season are all on their way! It's actually thundering and pouring outside right now.... I can't remember the last time it rained. I love it!


August Goals:

1) Continue basic dressage work - walk/trot/canter on the bit, emphasis on stretching and quietness, taking a contact solidly!
 Success! I feel like this past month has finally started the turnaround for her in terms of really "getting" the idea of stretching out over her back and reaching out to take a contact. She's not there 100% of the time by any means, and we don't quite have the magic formula yet for how to get her there (it varies during rides, sometimes she is ready to stretch right off the bat and sometimes it takes an hour to get her there), but she is really getting it and we get to that point every single ride now. She has been doing the best in the famous blue bit, so well in fact that I decided to get another one exactly like it (except it isn't blue, sadly!) so that I could put it on her dressage bridle and keep riding her in the blue bit with the western bridle (it ties with latigo instead of a buckle so it's a pain to undo and put on to another bridle) whenever I choose to put western tack on her. I've been riding A LOT with the barrel saddle... dunno why, but we've been getting some great work done in that. I think she really likes the distribution of weight over a large area, but she also does very well in the dressage saddle... mostly I have been lazy and not wanting to change out of my jeans into my britches! She no longer rides in the neck stretcher or the martingale or any of the bigger bits that I had been playing around with - everything has been just in a simple snaffle, except for the slow twist when we go out schooling XC off property. S has a short shank pelham with the same Happy Mouth mullen mouth mouthpiece (how many times can I say mouth in one phrase?), which I think would be great to try - it's a mouthpiece she loves and I can ride her off the snaffle until I need a little extra in the way of braking with the curb. I just need to practice holding two sets of reins again.... it's been a LONG time since I needed two sets of reins for anything!

2) Jump schooling - work on gymnastics, small courses, things in the arena - just getting her rolling, quiet and confident! Also go to some XC schools, but keep it low key!
Success! Since she did end up getting a nice two-week vacation, we didn't jump nearly as much as I thought we would, but for the time that she was working she had some great jump schools. She jumped around XC at Greenwood like a champ, even handling some slightly bigger fences with no issues. (Meaning like, BN fences.... but that's a start!) Her most recent jump school had her jumping a one stride and a three stride line, a few verticals, and even some canter fences. Aside from still not having the greatest brakes when she gets hot, she is really doing well. We have more XC and jump schools in our near future!

3) Keep to our monthly calendar!
I'd call it a partway success - I did opt to give her that vacation instead of keep grilling her with the schedule I had set up. But it was the right thing to do and she deserved it - I believe in taking brakes to mentally and physically chill out before and after important training/showing events!

4) Continue to dork around with hoof protection options - how best to help this mare with traction and comfort! 
Success! It has really just been in the past month that she has really started to get comfortable on rougher terrain without any protection. I ride her now without boots just as much as I ride her with them - the positive changes in feet have been absolutely incredible. She is now outfitted with Cavallos all around, Simples up front and Sports behind, but honestly I have mostly just either been riding with only the Simples/Sports up front sometimes and barefoot the rest of the time. The Simples don't rub her at ALL (scored them used for cheapo so they were already broken in) which is great, as they fit best without the pastern wraps. They are slightly heavier than the Sports, but both are lighter than a set of steel shoes anyway so there you are! It has only really been a few months of change, so everything should continue to just keep getting better and better and better from here!

5) Keep playing with barrels, and conditioning work.... because you never know, maybe we'll play around with some limited distance stuff and some barrels too ;)
We did some of this stuff, not as much as we could have, but I spent most of my time focusing on dressage/jumping things instead... that is what is in the immediate future after all! We'll play around with this more when we have some more downtime, but now is the time to focus on the upcoming tasks at hand. 


Our September goals are largely the same, with a few big additions....

September Goals:
1) Continue basic dressage work - walk/trot/canter on the bit, emphasis on stretching and quietness, taking a contact solidly! As always a work in progress! 
2) Jump schooling - work on gymnastics, small courses, cantering fences, slightly bigger fences and more XC schoolings!
3) Keep to our monthly calendar! 
4) Get organized - what do I need for showing? Dust off show clothes/tack and inspect everything!
5) Survive our first schooling show! Get through with a good positive experience no matter what the score!


Yes, that's right! September brings OUR FIRST SHOW! This will be the first time I have set foot in a show ring as a competitor since our ill-fated AECs in 2009. I feel completely out of the loop and like a total noob. We're going to go XC schooling at Curragh on the 7th but we're not going to show there on the 8th - there is a show on the 22nd at Lazy Dog that is smaller and is probably a better first one to shoot for. The Curragh show has a w-t-c test and a longer/bigger elementary course than the Lazy Dog show does (tiny, shorter, w-t only test). There is another Curragh show next month that we'll shoot for instead, but this month we'll keep it simple and small.

It's still raining.... a perfect day to relax and figure out exactly what needs to be done to prep for showing later in the month!!