Saturday, May 27, 2017

Lesson 5/18

As usual I have a little bit of catching up to do! It seems to be my norm these days... oh well. I do what I can with what time I have.

We have been to the third Heart of Texas series show, but before I write aboiut that I want to put up a quick blip about the lesson before the show, as it explains some of the tack changes I've done in the last few weeks.

It's been kind of bonkers around here as usual. While we haven't had the tornados and hail that others have, we've had two really bad wind storms here, one of which took out a large branch in the pasture. The other blew our roof to smithereens, and it was so bad that the insurance company actually totalled it. But, we have a nice new roof now, so... win win?

Aside from all that, things are going well. After the last show, I started thinking about bits and the number of pelhams I have been seeing in competition. The old rule on dress code was that you had to pick a discipline as your chosen attire and then stick with it, tack and all. With dressage, that obviously meant dressage tack and dress, and a dressage legal bit.
This year they changed that. You can now use whatever bit you need, barring of course a number of twisted wires, gags, and the like. But there is no longer any reason you can't show in a pelham if you're riding dressage.
Before, I would have only been able to choose between a simple snaffle and a double bridle. Dylan goes well in a snaffle, but for speed it gets kind of complicated as he turned into a firebreather. A double bridle isn't a convenient option - it's hard enough to do things like picking up a pole and a jug and opening a gate when you only have one set of reins. When you have to hold four reins in one hand at the same time.... it's too hard for me to do at my current skill level.

So, I decided to try the pelham too. With converters.
My childhood trainers would have beaten me with a second set of reins if they ever saw me doing that.
But... it's a different sport. It's worth a try.

The jury is still out on whether or not I actually like it. I may go back to the snaffle.

I rode him twice on my own with this pelham, and then took him to a lesson on the Thursday before my show. Whether or not the pelham had anything to do with it or not, we just didn't have that great of a lesson overall. The greatest thing about riding with Louisa for me is the way she has with words. She always has some fantastic analogy to help me visualize what she means, and once I can get it in my head, I just GET it.

But for some reason that day, I just could NOT get it. We were trying to do suppling and lateral work, and she was trying to explain to me how to move my inside rein in order to let go of it. For whatever reason it backfired in my head, and I ended up using the rein in excess instead of being able to let it go. When you pull on Dylan, he spirals his opposing hind leg outward, and you completely disengage him. We just could. Not. Get it together.

Finally she stopped me, and thought for a minute. She then explained to me the analogy of driving a pair of horses. Think about the inside horse, she said, and then imagine the outside horse helping to push the inside horse over instead of pulling the inside horse around. That clicked in my head and made sense, and then suddenly we were able to get it. We were even able to practice some quarter pirouettes at the end of things.

But what would an only so-so lesson mean for our show that weekend? Well you'll just have to wait and find out...


The second part of this is that I also have a few other pictures from the last WE show to share! These extra ones got posted after the fact and they're just as awesome as the other ones. They can hold you off until the next group of pictures from the most recent show can be posted.

Double slalom

Spearing ring with garrocha

Really Dylan.....

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Cregga, 3 Months Old

Cregga is now THREE months old! (Or well, technically it's in 3 days, but Monday was the 12 week mark, so I officially consider it about the same. After this, I start counting month age instead of week age so we go back to using the 20th.) 

She's still enormous but she thank god seems to temporarily be putting that into bulk instead of height. She got freakishly tall freakishly fast, but then slowed way down and went outward. She was 12.1 at 9 weeks old, and is still 12.1 at 12 weeks old. But I string tested her a few weeks ago and she was solidly showing 17 hands O.O I can only hope I mis-measured, even though I also measured everyone else! (Pax is showing she is probably going to top out at maybe 15.3, if I'm lucky. I can only assume it's P that throws small size - her first foal as a 3 year old was maybe 14.2!)

Had a bath, now trying to scrape water off herself 

Take your kid to work day


Trying to get a conformation shot, and failing

Apparently she doesn't like when I lunge the littles on the other side of the fence

She is not wasting any time going grey. She's going to be steel colored for awhile, which is nice - I thought she might go lighter than that, but she's certainly not staying bay for any longer than she has to. I assume she'll follow the steel pattern of her father, at least from the looks of it.

I'm going to guess she'll be as tall as her mother by one year of age. Any other bets?

Cregga at 9 weeks  
Cregga at 12 weeks. Same height, different dimensions

Future Hubs does not know anything about horses, so his training methods are... unorthodox. "Stand still! Why don't you listen to me!" XD

Cregga at 3 months, Pax at 3 months. I think Pax was slightly older in that shot than Cregga is now. Pax was an enormous baby though.

In terms of milestones, there are some things Pax did better at this age than Cregga does, and vice versa. Cregga has always been much sweeter and way less feisty, and has never tried to rear up on or kick at a person (yet). Pax was a horrible little monster and got knocked off her feet about once a day for the first couple of months of her life. Still, Pax took to general things like bathing, hoof handling, and flymaks wearing a lot quicker than Cregga - Cregga still likes to hippity hop when you pick her feet up, if you hold them for longer than she thinks is necessary. She also hates her flymask (like dad) and I usually have to put it on while she's laying down, or haltered at least. Pax I could walk right up and do it no problem. Pax also has taken to water a bit better than Cregga, but Cregga has taken better to the clippers.

It's all a process though... they all get to the same place in the end, or so we hope.

Friday, May 5, 2017

May Goals!

Since I missed out on so much blogging, I haven't had any goals up for a bit. Here are our May goals! 


O-Ren May:
1) Continue being a good momma horse!

Cregga May:
1) Continue learning about leading, brushing, feet handling, bathing, and clipping

Dylan May:
1) More lessons! As usual!
2) Start putting together 4th level tests - decide in snaffle or in double?
3) Show in and complete the 3rd Heart of Texas series show
4) Take a look at the show calendar and decide the plan for the summer/fall

Pangea/Frank May:
1) Pony some babies - maybe! 
2) Frank especially - head out for more trails! Ride 1x a week locally for short trail rides

Pax/Uma May:
1) Off duty for the rest of the year! Show season is over so just getting pulled out and groomed/trimmed every 2 weeks 

Zu May:
1) Go off property with Dylan for lessons
2) Lunging with harness
3) Wearing bridle
4) Start back with long lining, small amounts, if lunging is going well

Sriracha May:
1) Lunging - walk and trot
2) Wearing bridle
3) Wearing harness


You may have noticed Lendri is not on the list. Last month, she went on trial to a new home - she is currently with one of my clients, as a companion for her chronic founder. She was not going to make it as a driving mule, it was becoming increasingly obvious to me. My client had repeatedly said that she wanted a moole just like mine, and a spotted one just like mine to boot. One day I went.... why not her? She is currently at their place living with the foundered horse and they love each other. It is giving the foundered horse companionship, and is good for Lendri too because her diet is controlled (she's plenty fat!) and she also keeps the foundered horse gently on the move, which he needs. I get to see her every 3 weeks on the dot, and if it ever doesn't work out, she comes home to me. It really is a win win situation. I could not have found a better home for her - and would not have let her to go any other.

Pmare will be 21 this month... still looking pretty good!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Catch-Up Post IV: Heart of Texas WE Series Show #2

I'm pretty certain that most of the blogs I follow are all writing about their epic Rolex adventure with one another. And you all SUCK. I wanted to be there too. Maybe next year.... which is what I have been saying since 2009, which is the last time I went, but I digress.

The second show in our five show Heart of Texas Working Equitation series was held on the weekend of the 22nd-23rd, outside of Austin. Since I had to scratch halfway through the first one, and you need to complete three of the five in order to be eligible for end of year awards, I was determined to make sure this one counted for something. I spent the week gettings things ready a little at a time every day, and by Friday we were ready to go. We pulled in to the show grounds at a reasonable time, I settled Dylan into his stall, and then bathed and readied him for the following morning. There was a minor snafu in the office - they had accidentally put us in the Intro division, when we were actually supposed to be in Intermediate B... only separated by 5 divisions, no biggie!! - but they got it sorted out and had us in the right place in no time.

A good stallion doesn't care about a bunch of bathing nude mares standing next to him

It had been almost 90 and humid the day before. with severe storms to the north of us. I'm glad I bathed Dylan the night before, because by the morning, a cold front had rolled in and dropped the temperature into the 40's. There was a free clinic being held by the judge before the show started, and I tossed some clothes on Dylan before bundling up in all the sweaters I had brought. The conference room was freezing, but the talk was very interesting. It was basic, but covered many points that newer competitiors might not know about. Not that I'm any kind of experienced competitors, but I have scoured the rules pretty thoroughly, so I had a good idea of what was going on. It was really great that the judge was there to educate us on his point of view, and help us see what he was looking for - and all for free!

Our dressage time was a little after 2pm. They were running about half an hour behind as we neared our ride time, so I hung around in the barn for awhile before getting on to warm up. It was still freezing and the wind was howling, so Dylan was a bit more amped up than I was hoping, but he managed to settle for the most part before our dressage. We had an especially good set of changes and canterwork, had good pirouettes, and held the walk work together for the most part, which wasn't easy given how windy and cold it was. We have been doing a lot of practicing with our halts and stand stills, which is surprisingly hard to do, but he has been nailing all his halts bang on. The only real stutter we had was during our first walk half pass, when I didn't quite trust him to let him really step over into it - I held him through it in order to keep him walking. All in all, we scored a 66.4%! That's pretty impressive. Considering the last several WE shows we have done have all scored a consistant 58% because of the crappy changes and poor pirouettes, this is a great improvement. Well done Dylan! And well done me for actually riding like I know how to sometimes. After that, I watched the Children's division do their Ease of Handling test following the dressage, then tucked Dylan in for the night. We were set to ride around noon on Sunday, with Ease of Handling first and then Speed following (they always run in that order).

Super nice facility!

On Sunday, it was still very cold in the morning. This made for some exciting rodeos in the warmup, and an even more exciting moment that happened in the morning as I was just driving in to feed Dylan. As I was coming up the (very long and sizeable) driveway, a palomino horse with an orange blanket walked across the road, wearing his halter and lead rope - no owner in sight. I slowed down, and the horse took off, zooming away across a corn field heading in the direction of a farmhouse. The showgrounds were conveniently situated in the middle of nowhere, but there were some main roads and a town nearby. I recoginized the horse as one that was stabled in the aisle across from us, and I was the only one out there who had seen the direction he happened to take, so I turned my truck around and followed him as best I could. I made it over to the farmhouse via a backroad, and the horse was nowhere in sight. I started up the next main road, straining my eyes to see if I could catch a spot of orange blanket moving. There! He was way down the road, with a pickup truck following him. He happened to stop and slow down to investigate the pickup, but just as the people were getting out, he took off again. Now several miles away from the showgrounds, and heading towards the main road, I went "oh crap!!" and sped off down the road to try and cut him off before he made it out there. Luckily, I spotted a fence between him and the road, so I turned around once again and found a place to park so that I could try and catch him. His mother spotted my truck as I was stopping and putting my hazards on, and together we went and managed to corner him. As she was leading him back towards me, she started telling me that he just waits until she's not paying attention and then just gallops off - and as she was saying it, he did just that, turning and just bolting off. She just let go, and I don't blame her - she had one of those Parelli sadist lead ropes, the poly ones that burn your skin right off if you try and hold a bolting horse. He was caught a second time, and I held one side of his halter while she held the other and the lead rope. We walked him back to her truck, and she put a chain on him (thankfully). We then began the slow process of ponying him in convoy back to the arena, several miles away.

Tiny building in the distance is the arena

With that all over, I fed Dylan and ran back to the arena just in time to catch the coursewalk for Ease of Handling. Thankfully I made it!! Like with jumper courses, you want to walk your lines to see what your best routes are (and there can be several, which you can use to your advantage to play to your horse's strengths). Intermediate B, also known as Level 5, is the level at which flying changes become compulsory. All of the work in EOH is done at the canter and the walk, with flying changes - no trotting or simple changes allowed. Believe me, it's even harder than it sounds, especially if you're on one that doesn't have easy changes.

Ease of Handling has been kind of a bugaboo for us. Up until this point, I've never completed an EOH course - eliminations, course errors, and a mare foaling inconveniently. As such I think this course gave me more anxiety than I really realized, and when I get anxious I slip back into all my defensive bad habits, none of which Dylan will tolerate. I could not get him to settle in the warm-up which should have been my first clue. As such I had a super hot and not particularly rideable horse -- BUT we did complete the course! Not only did we complete, but we scored a 64.5%, which is not too bad. EOH seems to score a lot higher than the dressage does, with people regularly getting scores in the 70s, but I'm not sure why that is. I will take my 64.5% and be very happy with it!

Dylan thinks a 2' jump needs that much effort put into it.... unfortunately the judge marked him down for his, uhhh, enthusiasm

On course in order (which you will see on the video, so you can reference back to this list if you have questions about what we are doing in the video):

1) Double barrels, which were plants this time - did a simple change instead of a flying
2) Double slalom - hit most of the changes cleanly but had two where he swapped out behind briefly
Jump - launched but that's Dylan!
3) Sidepass poles - had never done them before in an L configuration. Considering this is the first time and considering sidepass poles used to blow his mind I think that went really well!
4) Cloverleaf barrels - considering we *just* started schooling them with changes like a month ago, they went well
5) Gate - Dylan got eliminated at a metal gate over the winter because he could NOT figure it out. This time I let go of the gate so he could see to go through the space, and while that dinged our score we did make it through!
6) Bell corridor - apparently his bonnet was irritating him because he had one ear flat on his head and shook it as we exited.
7) Cup corridor - you have to pick up a cup and then weave backwards in a slalom to exit the corridor. We have practiced this going to the left, but not the right. Imagine my horror when I saw there was only one cup - usually there are two and you can pick. It wasn't pretty but we made it happen!
8-9) Garrocha and spearing a ring - did great, speared the ring but of course the video went blurry at that moment
10) Bridge - hot and jiggy but did it fine
11) Livestock pen - not sure what happened here but I think I had my left rein tighter than my right, I don't ride with one hand often enough and I can't say he steers with one hand at all! Was not great but we got out of there in one piece
12) Replace pole - great
12) Switch cups - I think I was relieved at nearing the end and he of course broke and trotted, which is a strict no-no that severely dinged our collective marks.

Apologies for the upright video. One of the ladies who was stabled across from me videoed for me, since I videoed for her in the morning! 

I thought it felt horrible, but it looks a lot better on video than it felt. But again, I completed the course, for the first time ever, and didn't get too terrible of a score even with our mistakes. 

The last thing of the day was, of course, Speed. I warmed Dylan up briefly, mostly walking with some stretchy canter, and then we were ready. Speed is exactly what it sounds like - just go fast, and get timed - so you don't have to worry about leads or gaits or looking pretty. You just have to not knock anything over, or hit anything. If you do, you get points added to your time. If your spear the ring, you get ten seconds off your final time, so if you can do you want to get that! 

Dylan of course flew through the course. We even cantered the bridge, and speared the ring to boot. He did great! It went a lot smoother than EOH, and of course was buckets of fun. And we got some great pictures from Speed too:

Cloverleaf barrels

Spearing the ring (the black thing is the bull but it's hard to see from this angle)

Really Dylan....

Zooming through the double slalom

Bridge, with garrocha and ring, which we had to carry through a few obstacles

I'd say it was a pretty awesome weekend. 

One of the cool things about WE United and the new Confederation for Working Equitation is the fact that they are in no way stingy with their prizes. There are ALL sorts of things you can win at the end of the year. Both programs maintain a leaderboard, which I love, and both programs also have a medal program similar to the one that runs through USDF. It's still hard to keep track of which is which, and what goes where, but I have an idea of what I need in order to get some medals and prizes. 

The Heart of Texas series of course is it's own entity, and as a series there are year end prizes for each division.

The Confederation for WE (which I think is just WEIAUSA and USAWEA combined into one thing... yes it really is that confusing) has a leaderboard and a medal program. At Intermediate Level, you can earn a Silver medal:

Silver Medal Rider Award – Intermediate (L4 & L5)
3 Scores of 60% or higher
3 Scores of 64% or higher
Three (3) scores must be earned in L5 (Intermediate B)

You can also earn a Horse Performance Certificate at each level:
10 Scores of 60% or higher for Introductory though Master’s
4 Scores from a minimum of 4 different USFWE/WEIAUSA (Confederation) licensed competitions
4 Scores from highest test of the level that are 64% or higher

WE United also has a leaderboard and a medal program. At Intermediate Level, it's also a Silver medal:

Silver Medalist Riders – Intermediate Level
Must have three (3) Dressage scores at the Intermediate level of 62% or higher from at least (3) three different rides and two (2) different WE United “r,” “R,” or “S” judges.
Must have three (3) Ease of Handling scores at the Intermediate level of 62% or higher from at least two (2) different WE United “r,” “R,” or “S” judges.
In addition to the above six scores, must have one (1) Dressage score and one (1) Ease of Handling score at the Intermediate level of 65% or higher for a total of eight eligible scores.
Scores for all of the above are only eligible if the rider successfully completed all trials in the competition in which the score was earned.

The Confederation separates each level out (like Intermediate A and Intermediate B) while WE United has both levels scored together on the leaderboard. There are hardly ever people that compete against us - they're all in Intermediate A here - so the Intermediate A people automatically get more points, due to the number of people in their division. They'll always accumulate more points than I will, so I have no hope of ending up on the Leaderboard for WE United. I DO have hope - and am on - the Leaderboard for the Confederation though!

We have the next series show mid-May.... man that's coming up fast!!!