Thursday, November 24, 2016

Working Equitation B-Rated Show 11/20/16 - Intermediate Division

Thanks for the heartfelt comments on my last post. I am feeling better (maybe not better about the situation, but sort of back to my normal self) and most importantly my desire to write has returned.

Which is good, because I have an ENTIRE SHOW to write about!!

I had a really good riding week leading up to this show. I had regressed in pain levels - quite badly, actually - after my last lesson, where I posted a lot and was surprised at how much that hurt me. It's frustrating to know that something so elementary and simple can still cripple me. But my massage therapist sorted me out, and the last two rides I had right before the show were really good ones. I even got a clean line of 4s, something which I've struggled with - apparently I can't ride and count at the same time! Dylan, like any schoolmaster, requires a particular kind of ride and if you don't give that to him, you don't get anything in return. So the better I sit, and the more clear and quiet I am with my aids, the better he goes. On Friday in particular, I rode the pants off him, because I wanted to make sure he was good and quiet for the weekend. 

Leg yield, and half pass

Saturday came early, with all of the prep that comes with getting ready to leave for a show. I needed to fit in a local client, needed to go get hay, needed to make sure everything was packed, needed to clean out my truck. I did manage to squeeze in an oil change for the truck the day before, but everything else took a little while, and it wasn't until about 1pm that I got Dylan out and bathed and readied to go. Since this was our first away show together, I had no idea if he would mash himself in poop overnight, so I completely embarrassed him with this getup:

I like to call this, "keep the white horse clean at all costs"

Two sleazies, a cooler (later a blanket, because it dropped in the 20s overnight), leg wraps, and a tail bandage for trailering. And he still managed to get his face all filthy by morning. Dilly!

By about 2-2:30 we were rolling. I had been trying unsuccessfully to get in touch with show management for a few days - I never even received confirmation that they had gotten my entry, much less my ride times or anything, but I just decided they surely had to have received it, and off I went. The drive was pleasant, complete with lots of Christmas music and some comedy radio, and the 2.5 or so hours flew by pretty fast. By the time I arrived, the sun was setting, and I had just enough time to duck into the office and see where I was supposed to be stabling before darkness really set in. My stall was #5 in one of the front barns, on the shedrow side. 

I spread my shavings, brought in my buckets, and unloaded Dylan. No sooner had I put him away than a nose appeared on the other side of the stall wall, shortly followed by the head and neck of a rearing horse. Dylan started roaring, the other horse continued rearing, and I heard voices on the other side of the aisle. They came around to my side, and told me that the horse on the other side was another stallion. They put my stallion next to another stallion!

Well that wasn't going to work. Since a large portion of the barn was empty, we sorted it out with the office and got him moved down the way to a stall which had no other surrounding horses. That was definitely a snafu that should not have happened, but it was mistake I was willing to forgive since they were so willing to get it set right. 

I went back to the office once Dylan was settled to check for times and courses. They're supposed to give us the courses the day before, and everyone has a designated time of go, so we all needed to know when that was so we could prepare for the morning.

And... no courses. No ride times. No organizer. The ladies in the office seemed frazzled about it. They had no information for me at all. 

Well... that sucked. It wasn't even clear what time the show was supposed to start in the morning. The flyer said 9am, but the show papers in the office said 10am. Everything was chaos. 

I just decided that there was only one thing to do - get up really early and try to find out as much as I could. I bundled Dylan up for the night and left him to rest and eat. I checked on him once at 1:30, and he was standing around resting, with a good portion of his hay gone. I refreshed it with a few more flakes, then left him to eat again. I love to camp out at the showgrounds usually but this night was VERRRRRY cold. It dropped into the 20s overnight, and I was so glad I had extra blankets and warm clothing to wear. I was very comfortable in my little cocoon but I did not want to get up in the morning.

Checking out the course at the in-gate in the morning

When I went to the office first thing in the morning..... No courses, no ride times. No NOTHING. I couldn't believe it. The ladies finally managed to find the courses for me, but gave me the wrong one (an Introductory EOH instead of the Intermediate EOH), so I had to go back and get the correct one. While Dylan was eating breakfast, I went and walked the courses, which were absolutely beautiful. They were well designed and super attractive, not to mention completely easy compared to the last one we did!

Plus they had the coolest toro with real toro horns

The course went from the start gate to single slalom weave poles, to a gate (which was metal and not rope - remember this for later), to a bell corridor, to the garrocha and toro. From there it went right into the livestock pen, to the double barrels, to the bridge (which was wide and beautiful), to the switch-a-cup (pick cup off of one pole, replace it onto the other pole on the other side of the horse). It went from there to the double slalom, a jump, sidepass poles, the 3 cloverleaf drums, and then an earthenware jug that had to be lifted from a table (which was actually a gallon milk jug), then to the finish. Pretty straightforward!

Finally, ride time were posted, around 8am. I was riding at 10:40, which meant I needed to be on by 10. I didn't feel that I had enough warmup at the last show, so I wanted to have some extra warmup at this one. I had to get moving! I had tack to clean, a horse to braid!

R and B2 showed up to help at around 9:30, bearing with them gifts of delicious Bucee's Nuggets. My running braid on Dylan was basically just terrible, but I put enough hairspray in it that I hoped it would stay put. While I dressed, B2 helped finish getting Dylan tacked, and I was on board by 10am as I had planned.

Best crew ever

We had a much better warmup for dressage than we did at the last show. The last one was much much too short. This one felt too long for me - I was so ready to get in the ring way before it was our time, although I also think they were running a bit behind. To be completely honest though, the warmup didn't matter very much. The judge rang the bell, and Dylan did a literal full body shiver. He knows what the bell means, and all our relaxation went right out the door.

The Intermediate dressage tests are VERY hard for hot horses. You canter in, halt and salute, and then you walk. And you do all of your walk movements right off the bat. That is SO hard for a horse who has shown his entire life and knows that after that first halt, you trot or canter. He can achieve a quiet immobile halt basically anywhere else with some work, but his first halt at this test was awful. He jigged, piaffed, and went sideways while I was trying to salute. He continued on in some kind of goose stepping not quite jig down the rest of the centerline, then was a bit stilted in both his half passes because I was trying very hard not to let him canter off. The rest of the test went pretty well, nothing fantastic but better. The canterwork was better than at the last show, except I botched our second change. Considering how clean they've all been lately I was dissapointed in myself for that one. Ah well. I'll have to conference with L about achieving relaxation in the ring with this kind of hotheaded critter. I have no doubt the tests would be much better if there was trotwork right after the halt.

And some from the actual test:

Oh yeah I'm totally not constricting his face or anything

Please just walk

Aaaaand my braid came out

Trying to convince him to walk before his entrance

Supposed to be a walk half pass... more like a jig half pass

And yes, my braid came out in the ring. It also came out in the warmup and we had to stop and put it back in. But to no avail.

I have to say though I'm pleased with the improvement of my position, even in just the last few months post-injury. I feel like I'm finally sitting better and being more effective in my position. I am probably clamping everything down a bit the second I *also* hear the bell, which doesn't help his tension levels, but I do think I'm riding better for sure. Better even than at the last show. I actually am putting my leg on finally!

We let Dylan go back to his stall for a rest while I went and walked the EOH course again. I had no concerns about it whatsoever, and was looking forward to actually getting a scorecard this time. I wanted to know what my scores were so I could figure out what needs more work!

The course started out fantastically. The slalom poles were first, and we did simple changes between each one. Dylan did these nearly perfectly and I was super excited. We circled back around to the metal gate, walked up to it, and unlatched it. I tried to push him towards the gate, and he stopped. I tried again, and nothing. This started this little wigglewar where he just danced forward and back, refusing to go any closer. The Interemediate horse before us had also eliminated out at the gate - as had like half the other people at the show! - so I knew that time was running out. I pushed the gate as hard as I could to create an opening, and went through. We struggled some more on the far side when he decided he could not back up anymore, but we finally managed to get it shut. I had the latch in my hand and was just about to finish closing it when the judge rang the bell - we were eliminated for going over time. Damnit!! I didn't even know there was a time limit. And I had the latch in my hand and was shutting it! 5 more seconds and I would have completed the obstacle, if that.

So that sucked, a lot.

It looks like we were about to be successful, but we were not

I schooled Dylan for a few minutes in the dressage ring, mainly going back and cantering in to halt at X, trying to get him to stand still. Speed was up next, and there were only a few people going in it. (The lowest level doesn't do the speed round.)


To my enormous relief, for the speed round a rope gate was pulled out and set up in place of the metal gate. Oh thank GOD was all I could think. I know we can do that!

And, indeed we could. In the speed round, it doesn't matter if you walk, trot, canter, gallop, flail, crosscanter, buck, whatever - as long as you get through the course cleanly and as fast as you safely can. Since I wasn't able to do much of my EOH round, I decided that while I wasn't going to care what he did for parts of it, I would take other parts to try and school a little bit of what I would have tried to attempt in my EOH round.

Last week at EOH practice, I managed to spear the ring on the toro at the walk with the garrocha pole. It was the first time I had ever attempted to spear the ring. I hadn't tried it at any more speed - it had rained, the footing was a bit soft, and I didn't feel like I wanted to risk his legs too much. Since I had done it a couple of times at the walk in practice, I had something of an idea how it needed to be done, but I didn't expect I would get it in competition when I was cantering.

BUT I DID! I speared the ring! Not only that, but we managed to canter the bridge, and we also got several changes in the double slalom. Usually I do these as simple changes through the walk, which is also allowed. The score will be higher with clean flying changes, but of course, if the changes get botched then the score will be lower than a good clean simple changes attempt. It's a riskier move but it will pay off if successful. If you watch the video of my last speed round, all of this is improved over last time.

Yes, his braid fell out AGAIN

It was a great speed round. And I think it will continue to get better! I just need to figure out how to settle him in his walk portion of his dressage test. That is very hard for him to deal with.

Of course, this was the best part of all:

It was quite a weekend. It was a poorly organized show at best - maybe one of the worst organized shows I have ever been to - but the courses were absolutely beautiful and the showground was gorgeous as always. There were things that were hit and miss, but I have stuff to work on now, and I think it will continue to get better from here!

My other husband

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Crawling Out Of The Abyss

Man. I started out writing SO MUCH this month. I almost felt like I was participating in my own little kind of NaNoWriMo. I felt really good about everything.

And then the election happened, and like many of you I got totally blindsided. I felt like I got hit by a truck, and it took all the wind and the words right out of me. I've been trying to come up with material to write about all week and I just don't even have the heart right now. I feel really, really down and I feel worse about it every day. 

Yes yes, I know I'm a crybaby and all of that. I hear you. I've heard you all week. I won't talk about the double standards of whining for 8 years about Obama taking guns away. I don't want to talk about it at all right now, not here anyway. I started to write out a huge blog post about why I'm concerned about my future, but I stopped. I couldn't finish it.

So, I'm trying to get my words back. I have a show this weekend. I need to find my words again in order to talk about that. 

I'm trying. Bear with me. I'll get there.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Waddling Preggo

O has reached her 7th month of pregnancy and my god SHE SURE SHOWS IT.

Does your gut hang low, does it wobble to and fro

This is her blog and she has hardly been on it lately, but it's hard to write about horses that are currently doing literally nothing except eating and growing a baby.

As of late, the most important thing in her life is food. Somewhere distantly second to that is companionship from both myself and from Dylan. When open, she tends to be super hormonal and hyperemotional, and hates to be left by herself. Pregnant, she seems to not really care much, or not have enough energy to do much about it anyway. I can take Dylan away from her and aside from a few errant whinnies, she doesn't care. Usually she is a total traiter and goes down to the end of the property to talk to my neighbor's horses, which are a road and a fence away. But I think she still enjoys Dylan's company, even though at feed times she tends to make horrible mean faces and empty threats at him. 


This is her winter coat


She goes out with Dylan for his hacks around the neighborhood, just to keep her in some kind of tone. It's starting to become harder for her to keep up with speedwalker Dylan though - he always is in a hurry to get to wherever he thinks we are going, and last night in particular I was practically dragging O along behind us. 

Her wee fetus is now sort of medium-dog size, maybe twenty-odd inches long and somewhere between 30-40lbs in weight or so. If you think that sounds huge, it will be closer to 100lbs when born, so it has a ways to go yet! O also just had her fall deworming and latest EHV-1 vaccine, so basically now we just wait. And wait. And wait.

Believe me though - March will DEFINITELY be here before we know it!!!