Tuesday, April 28, 2015

NTW Games Day 4/26/15

We had yet another AWESOME Games Day this Sunday! O really brought her A game to this show. I can't tell you how impressed I was with her, given everything that has happened in the past two weeks!

O hasn't driven since Sunrise Ridge. She hasn't been lunged either. She hasn't done anything! She has her bit of time off, and then of course the whole excitement at the other barn went down, and we scooted to our friend's barn instead. It has been pouring every day pretty much nonstop ever since, and everything is completely flooded and underwater. I've never seen this much rain fall at one time since I moved here! (And yes, we've had several tornadoes too - nothing too serious here though.) It's not possible to turnout there with that kind of ground, so the horses have been in the barn - their stalls all have runs, so they can get out and move around, but aside from handwalks there has been little else that we've been able to do.
On top of that, O is absolutely OBSESSED with the new baby. She has taken it upon herself to be on perpetual foal watch - literally staring at the filly pretty much round the clock. Whenever she gets taken out for handwalks, she screams bloody murder and has to be reminded not to run her handler over while she twists and turns to try and look back at the barn. I had to literally back her up the entire length of the driveway a few days ago, because she was making attempts to mow me down and high tail it back to the barn by herself.

So in short: 1) not been worked in two weeks, 2) hardly been out of the barn in over a week, 3) obsessed with new foal. That's a recipe for a wild, wild, wild, wild animal! But, with all that said, I knew she'd be just fine. I wasn't worried about her behavior at all.

And, I was right. Despite the fact that she loaded up screaming bloody murder for the baby, and stood google-eyed screaming again when we unloaded, once she realized we were there to work, she shut up and got to eating. (Although I did have to do the usual handfeed-the-princess thing.... you have to shove some handfuls of hay forcibly into her mouth until she starts chewing, and then she'll actually bother to eat. I have no idea how other people deal with their delicate flowers when they go away to shows, but ugh... it's a LOT of work.)

Once the harness was on, she was all business. The screaming stopped, and she went promptly to quietly dozing while we finished hooking up.

Zzzzzzzzzz - the life of a driving horse is 10% action, 90% standing immobile for long periods of time

I don't have many pictures, but I do have pictures of the patterns to show, and you can use your imaginations!
The first pattern was the Lazy H. It was basically a bunch of tight whipping little turns around four sets of barrels, and through a set of cones in the middle. We had barely finished hooking up, and had only just walked up to the arena when we were called to go in for the pattern. With no real warmup besides the walk all the way over from the trailers to the arena, we trotted right in and smoked the pattern. We won that class easily!

The second pattern was very similar to the first, only slightly more complicated, and going in a different direction. After an eternally long wait for the million minis to get done (and ponies too, of course), we went in and had an awesome pattern. We finished 2nd, close behind the other lady who had also won Sunrise Ridge (apparently my new rival).

Since there were SO many horses at this one, we broke for lunch after that class, and unhooked for awhile. O was happy to stand and munch contentedly at her haybag - I think it must have been a nice change for her, to be able to focus on something else that wasn't the baby. She is taking auntie-hood VERY seriously.
We walked the cones course once it was set up, and were pleased with how it flowed, even though the last few gates were all over the freaking place. Look at where 11-16 are placed.

Once we were harnessed back up and warmed up, we went back in and whipped around that course for another 1st! O really had a big, huge trot going that day, much bigger than she has had at past games days. I also had no head flipping whatsoever, no obnoxiousness, no difficulties with steering or speed (not that I ever really do, but you never know). After the class, we went out on the XC course for a bit and played in the water - and tried out hand at cantering purposefully for the first time ever. I've let her canter before while in harness, just so she knows how it feels (some of them flip out), and while I've never had a problem I have also never encouraged cantering. She is a strong mare who had a history of being a maniacal bolter, so I wasn't ever keen to let her go much faster than we usually do. I wasn't totally sure of what she might do when we started to canter.

Turns out I needn't have worried at all. The next class was the Derby - run over the same cones course, but at a canter/gallop/however fast you can conceivably go without killing anyone. I decided what the heck, let's give it a try!

The flopping you hear is one of her boots - she pulled it halfway around, but as it didn't seem to be bothering her I kept going, and just replaced it when we exited. I invite you all to marvel over her many perfect auto changes. (And one partial change, but she was smart and changed right back). Also marvel over her floppy rein, and quick turns. Marvel over the fact that she came right back to a walk when we were done. Marvel over everything!
We finished a VERY close 2nd in this class, right behind the other lady. But now that I know this horse has ever ability to canter in harness without killing anybody, we'll beat her next time.

The final class was a bit scary - thunder and giant black clouds had started to roll in, so we all hurriedly whipped through the final pattern and then bolted for our trailers! We were 2nd in this one, a very close 2nd. Had the other lady not been there O would have won everything easily.

As it stood, that left me with two 1sts and three 2nds! The other lady had three 1sts and two 2nds - which put her in Champion and me in Reserve Champion. She won it fair and square. But I'm right on her heels, so she better watch out at the next one!

Uhhhh mom there is a huge storm blowing in can we go now?
We made it back home safe, and I also made it back to my house before all hell broke loose and the tornados started. We missed them here thankfully, but south of us got hammered on. Deathstorm season is officially here, that's for sure!

SO very proud of my mare. She killed it! 


  1. Wooooo! That is awesome. Congrats!

  2. Congrats! Cantering in harness looks scary to me, but I'ma lso a giant chicken so that's not surprising.

  3. Omg! You guys did awesome! I can't get over the accuracy required for cones. Your eye is getting SO good. :) Does it feel different to be behind a cantering horse as opposed to one trotting? How do you ask for changes in a cart? SO MANY QUESTIONS!!

    I loved the comment about your "delicate flower" at shows. I usually end up treating mine much the same. Usually he settles in to eat hay okay, but not always. I usually bring a heavy alfalfa hay to shows with me for two reasons: 1. High calorie/protein, and I can't count on him to eat his grain at shows. 2. He will actually eat all of it, instead of just snuffle it around his stall and pee on it in disgust. Even then, if he won't eat his hay/grain I usually have to resort to just what you do, shove it forcibly into his mouth until he actually starts to chew and swallow it. We also do a LOT of hand grazing. And I stuff him full of ulcerguard and apple cider vinegar (mainly for fly control help, but some say it helps with gastric issues, I'll take all the help I can get. It also keeps him drinking his water, as he likes the taste for some reason. Weirdo.) for days before, during and after his trips. I try not to keep him shut up in his stall too much (he pretty much becomes my third dog, on a lead while I wander around the show grounds), and make sure he can always hang his head out. That keeps him calmer. Oh! And, I make sure his hay is near his water, as he prefers to dunk it and will eat way more hay if he can wet it down first.

    This whole management system is actually kind of a pain in the ass, but he's otherwise a good traveler and rarely screams or exhibits poor manners, so I put up with it. It's just nerves, right? It helps to be sympathetic, I think.

    1. It does feel different - mostly because it's faster and looks different! If the cart is riding in relative balance then it feels about the same, if the cart is unbalanced or the person sits unbalanced I'm sure it would feel like being in a rowboat battering against the ocean waves. But it's easy enough to balance.
      In a 4 wheel vehicle it's a totally different feel I'm sure - since you the human don't have to balance the cart. But I've never really been in one at any sort of speed!

    2. Oh and the changes! I have no idea how to ask for or train for those in harness. She has auto changes so she does them herself. She wasn't ever taught them, they just come to her naturally.

  4. WOW! Great job O!! Love that video. Question - are you competing against the ponies and minis, or is it a "horse" division? Do they change the distances or spacing of cones for ponies or minis? I'd think they might pull smaller/narrower carts.

    1. There are 3 divisions: VSEs (very small equines, meaning the politically correct name for minis lol), ponies, and horses. Everyone competes against their size. In actual HDTs/CDEs, they measure the width of your carriage wheels, and each person gets a cones course measured specifically for their vehicle at their level (at Training level we get 40cms of clearance - so everybody no matter what their vehicle is has the same width to clear). This games day is really informal, so they premeasured the cones (to a super wide generous lift) and everyone ran the same course.

  5. Congrats to O mare!

    Q behaved the same when there was a foal at our barn 2 years ago. Watch. Obsess. Scream. Then when she realized she was away from home and it was time to work, she settled. She ended up being nurse maid to that baby while it was at the barn. The momma would leave the foal with Q while she grazed elsewhere. Very interesting to observe.

  6. Congrats to the both of you! That lazy H kind of reminds me of barrel patterns.

  7. I am so glad you found her calling as a harness horse. :)

  8. What an excellent day! Glad you're having fun with Ms O.

  9. woo hoo congratulations! she looks amazing in that video - i love all the dirt flying out from the tires lol. crazy that it still wasn't fast enough - but you'll get that other lady soon :)

  10. Wow, congratulations! That video is awesome and she looks great!

  11. O is such a rockstar!!!!!!!!! So proud of you both. You guys look awesome in the video! :D I had to giggle a little about her calming down and snoozing. Since she's so baby obsessed she probably isn't sleeping much and needed a nap lol.