Monday, November 25, 2013

The Adult Amateur Debut

This weekend was rad.  I'm so glad we went.
WHEE! (oops, my leg)
If you read nothing more, that's the final message.  Of course, with a full night's sleep and videos in hand, the glory of nothing tragic happening is fading into nitpicking the mistakes apart, which belies how proud I am of Prairie for our outing.

Turns out I was the only Amateur who wanted to play this weekend so I got combined with the Juniors who are chasing points and vying for the zone championship.  Good for me in terms of competition.... bad for me in terms of confidence/ribbons. :)

But, such is life, no one likes getting their ass kicked by a 17 year old in the prime of their junior career, but sometimes that's what Sunday brings you.

So, without further ado.  The Day.

As we were hauling to the show I started thinking about everything that I was changing all at once. 

True, Prair has been to this arena several times, but not since... March? so it's not like I could count on her having a super strong memory/comfort with the place.

Usually we haul over on Friday, school the jumps/ring and have a sleepover before showing.  If nothing else it gets me used to the angles in the ring and Prair a bit more settled. 

Usually I have my Trainer with me to keep me from overthinking things/give me useful reminders, etc.

Also, said trainer usually shows her division prior to mine so Prair has already seen the jumps/lines/spooky things and is a bit over it.

This time however, I thought it'd be super clever to not do any of those things, and oh yeah - move up to 3'.

Maybe it was all the great rides this week but for some reason I was totally not at all worried about it.  At all.  And thankfully, I didn't need to be!

Prair settled in great and munched on her breakfast (something she was pissed not to get prior to departure...) while we checked in, learned that start time had been pushed back an hour and finished our coffees. 

One of my good friends graciously volunteered to be ground crew for the day so she was whispering in my ear smart things like "ummmm if the arena is open for another hour do you want to hack?"


"after you hack do you want more Starbucks"

You know, the sort of helpful suggestions that keep you going on a cold, 20 something degree horse show morning...

When it finally came time to warm up, Prair was chill, relaxed and totally pleasant.  We walked around on the buckle, proudly bundled up in one of our coolers and I marveled at the mare's attitude.  Then we picked up the trot, and I was still able to keep a loose rein (whaaaa).  We canted some serpantines, sometimes asking for a change, sometimes holding counter canter... she was great.  She did spook at a car on the road once, but she came right back. 

We put up some jumps, she was chill and soft.  We put them up higher, she stayed chill and soft.  I called it good and we waited to go in.

The first round was... interesting.  I was nervous about not having enough pace or step to make the lines so I deliberately started with more canter than I wanted to (since what I want is a teeny, tiny, micro canter).  This was a great idea until our first line when at approximately the third stride (of five) I wasn't sure we were going to get a fifth fit in.  WHOOPS. 

I felt like the next line (a four stride) was just as catastrophic, but on video it doesn't look as bad.  Finally, the two stride (which I almost never school) came up faster than I wanted, we took a longer spot in and got a bit jammed up going out. 

All in all, it looks way better than it felt (it felt like an unmitigated disaster) but that's why we pay for the warm up round folks! Prair also felt a big wiggly to the jumps, but that's probably a factor of having not seen them (at all) and also not having S take her through some rounds before my rides. 

Here's the video: 

(Note: I'm putting up all the videos for archiving purposes, I don't suggest watching them all unless you find them FASCINATING.  I pulled some stills for those skipping the vids.  If you want to watch one and one only, our second Eq round is the most respectable).

We took a quick break and re-rode the same course for our first hunter round.  It was... a lot better on account of the fact that I started with the right canter, but I sorta screwed up my changes and cross cantered a fence so we placed last, which was to be expected.

I'm releasing!
The second hunter round was better than the first.  We fixed the pesky lead change issue and I didn't freak out in the two stride (though I still didn't really release).  I think we pinned third.

Then it was onto Eq courses.  The first Eq course was... boring? I've learned that the twistier the course the better I ride it, so.. that wasn't a good sign for me.

Prair somehow managed a weird/small spook thing right before the judge's line so we biffed that along with our turn after it, but such is life.  Everything else went pretty well. (we placed last)
flying out of the Judge's line...

Our final round came up and had some better rollbacks and whatnot which made me happy.  But Prairie was starting to get impatient, so I was also concerned her egg timer was going to go off at an inopportune time... But in the ring we went and I think it was our best round.  It sorta looks exactly like all the other rounds on video, but when I was riding it, Prairie felt the most adjustable and most attentive that she had been.  It also felt like my least-tragic trip through the two stride :)  Least tragic is always something to aim for...  the one major blemish was that Prair decided applause was scary and spooked a bit during our closing circle.  Nitwit.

Into the two stride we go! (I'm maybe straight??)

Actually, now that I look at all the videos I'm not sure that was our best round... either way we placed third again (whee!).

The flat classes were boring (cause they're flat classes) and I was EXHAUSTED.  For some reason I kept creeping into my knee and out of my heel in my courses which left my legs tired.  Prair was apparently also tired and really wanted to drop on her big forehand.  I struggled to get her to sit back, but ultimately went for giving her a looser rein than picking the fight.  We placed second in our Hunter Under Saddle and last (wah) in our Eq.  It was deserved though... I was braced and tired and Prair looked... not fabulous.  definitely not our finest moment on the flat.

But you know what? We showed at 3' better than a lot of shows we've had at 2'3" or 2'6".  I felt totally comfortable with the fences, and Prair was the most manageable she's ever been for me on course and it was all without days of schooling or showing beforehand.

That is a super fitting way to close out our 2013 season (for real this time), even if our only blue was by default!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Lobotomy? Maybe it's the frost...

All of the sudden it's winter.  Like 20 degrees at night, 30-something in the day winter.   This is great for mud management, but usually results in fuity-ass horses and really, really cold toes.

I acknowledge that relative to the central plains, or Alaska 20 degrees is balmy, but for me it means I'm bundled up like a marshmallow puff and warming my gloves on the space heater.

Once again I got to the barn expecting a crazy mare.  She had yesterday off (there is a pattern developing here..) and it was even colder than the last time I rode her.  But, given her lazy, slow performances earlier in the week I decided to skip both lunging and a martingale in favor of just getting on and trying to warm myself up. 
Relax lady, it's the most wonderful time of the year!
We were stuck inside again since in sprite of the glorious sunshine the outdoor was frozen totally solid, but I wasn't too sad since we're showing inside this weekend and it's good to adjust my mental state back to indoors again.

Once again the mare was a lazy, floppy hunter.  I don't know what has happened to her (or the gerbils), but everyone was on their best behavior leading to a very confusing ride. 

"more impulsion!"

"a bit more energy to her step"

"more leg, leg, leg"

Not exactly what I'm used to hearing when we're jumping (JUMPING), so I was started to get a bit frustrated and felt like I was pony-kicking her along.  Dare I say that I might have to get the spurs back out??

I'm really not complaining since the mare is landing so softly and coming right back instead of her usual routine of grabbing the bit and stressing out for a few strides - but I feel a bit inept as a pilot.  It's like all the dials and instruments I'm used to looking at mean nothing.  All of my regular buttons are useless.

What the hell am I supposed to do with a relaxed, lazy hunter?? (I mean, aside from show it and collect ribbons, duh).

Very strange feeling indeed.

In a odd sense of timing I had ordered more Perfect Prep from SmartPak and saw that their old formula of SmartCalm Ultra was on sale.  I have friends who swear by the stuff so I figured, what the hell, it's winter, let's see if this takes the edge off the mare.

Of course the stuff showed up today, and I'm wondering what sort of peanut roller lope I could expect if I put Prairie on it now...

I'm stilling arming myself with the Prep for this weekend, I'm not so na├»ve as to expect such a chill, calm horse out at a show, but.... can you imagine if that's how she showed up?? It's like all my dreams would be coming true...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Two Great Rides and One More Show Entry

The mare has been s-t-e-l-l-a-r this week.  Which is sort of surprising given that none of the traditional stars have been lining up... 
Gus says "Mares are silly, play with Gus!"

Prairie had two days off in a row over the weekend, leading me to fear for my life on Monday and lunge prior to my ride... but no need.  Even though it was cold, dinner time, and we were forced into the spooky indoor... she was quiet and soft and a peaceful little princess. 

Admittedly I didn't push things very hard, but I was so shocked/pleased with the calmness I quit on a high note and gave her cookies. 

Tuesday I was home on the couch under the weather, so she got no attention, so when I went out this morning and noticed the "careful, ice!" snowflake was on in my car I figured I was screwed again.  It was cold, and the mare had a few extra days of gerbils built up in her brainbox.

I snapped on the lunge (again, cautious) but when I could barely keep her in a trot I gave up, got on and was thrilled to find the same, relaxed, slowpoke I had seen on Monday. (wha happon??)

S is currently down for the count with a broken leg (um, yup) so we enjoyed a substitute teacher for our lesson and it ended up being super fun! Since she didn't have a ton of background on me or the mare, she focused on nit-picking my Eq which was appreciated and necessary!

Eventually we moved onto a fun exercise that was a little tricky in the teeny indoor, but really, really productive for both my bad habits and the mare's weak spots...
Basically it was two bending lines of poles, the one on the right was 4 strides, the one on the left was 3.  The tricky bit was that given the small ring we were pretty much always swapping our bend, either in the line or in the corner.  Therefore we were also always swapping our lead...

And with relatively little time between poles things had to stay balanced, balanced, balanced.  (as opposed to our normal, rushed, inverted and stressed).

We trotted through first, so that I really got a sense of how much time I didn't have... lol, and then moved on the to canter.

Basically, I had to make sure we were totally straight to each pole, otherwise I was screwed on the bend/lead change afterward.  That meant I had to be down in my heel, tall in my shoulders and straight myself.  (so hard!).

I was expecting total mayhem, but Prair was a pro, and worked through tidily and respectably each time.  My biggest challenge was keeping enough impulsion (even with a small stride) to keep the distances and lead changes easy...

Super fun.  Super exhausting.   omg.

Other fun things? We're entering one last B show this weekend.  I'm a little nervous because like I said, S is down for the count with her leg (sad), but I really want to go and we've been to the facility so many times I'm not overly worried. 

The really fun thing?  I'm mentally committed to moving up to the AA's and squeaking in one show at 3' before we run and hide for the winter. 

So, no coach, and moving up a division, what could possible go wrong!??? (grin).

Monday, November 18, 2013

Friday School (and some new video)

Prair had a nice school on Friday, and I managed to snag a couple short vids from it (woo!)

She's definitely back in "winter mode" that is to say she's snorty, and blowy and about 20% more concerned with life in general than she is in the warm summer sunshine....

All things considered though, even with her scatter brain, she is about a million times more manageable than she was in "winter mode" last year.  Yay for progress (of sorts).
blurry, but manageable.
Our recent focus has been trying to get Prair to be more responsible for herself and less reliant on her rider to keep her packaged/balanced/contained. (If this sounds repetitive, it is most certainly, an ongoing goal.)

Of course this whole concept is easier said than done, especially because when I'm in the role of "rider" my comfort zone firmly overlaps with micromanaging the mare and over riding.... It's safe to say that allowing the mare to have some breathing room and to make her own mistakes is just as hard on me as it is on her. 

After warm up, the entirety of this ride was just figure-eighting back and forth over two verticals, working on staying quiet, soft and asking Prairie to take care of herself in the last couple strides. 

She looked pretty good in terms of relaxation and not being a moron, although she was a bit on her forehand most of the time. (not something I'm concerned with at the moment)

To finish, Prair cooled out with a "big" trot without any contact.  Just letting her reach and stretch as she wanted and asking her to balance herself.  Again, on the forehand and running a bit, but nice to push her range of motion and see her flick her toes out :)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Oh yeah.. Prair's Back

As a quick footnote to yesterday's post, or rather the implication that Prairie is a total nitwit (she is)...

I figure it's only fair to mention that she is jumping like a beast these days.  Yesterday even though the fences were all 2'9"ish, she was literally snapping me out of the tack.  like, trampoline, snapping towel, rubber band snapping me out of the tack.

I guess her back must be feeling better, because woo doggie she is using it.

Currently she's finishing up her Previcox, then we'll see if she stays on it, or if she's built up enough strength to be comfy and continue to use her back correctly without it.

At least something is headed in the right direction!

This is the "before" pic.  Can't wait to see her form change with the new improved back....

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Good God

It's Wednesday?  I think?

I hope someone remembered to roll my trash cans to the street because lord knows I didn't...

The brain is fried.  It's dead, broken, twitching and otherwise dysfunctional.  Today it took me no less than twelve separate trips to my tack locker to collect everything I needed to ride

(note: usually it's trips top, first trip is groom box, helmet, gloves and saddle pad.  Second trip is saddle, horsey boots and treats for the pony.  Third trip is me changing into tall boots.  Prair's bridle and girth hang in the main office by our "tack stall")

Really it the extra trips were even more impressive when you consider that I don't even collect twelve things unless you count all boots and brushes separately... which was, in fact, part of my problem.

Anyway, that's a good indication of the week.  It also took me 2 hours to print 12 nametags because my printer broke, then I used the wrong Avery Template, then I just couldn't get the paper fed in correctly, etc. etc.

Time. For. Couch.

In other news, Prair has been a bit of a loon.  Not full lunatic, but just... difficult.  My arms and hands are officially aching from our ride, which I don't think is indicative of "relaxation."  Of course when we were both sweaty and tired and untacking she was all hugs and butter. 
This face sums it all up.
Gus is fine.  He is adorable and since he's growing a big, fuzzy, full bear suit he has that sweet smell of horse that super-groomed-show-ponies don't.

It's nice.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Please Hold!

I have escaped the seasonal drizzle for a quick trip to see old friends and absorb some L.A. sunshine. (Both very good things)

Since my brain is addled with vitamin D I don't have much interesting to say except that I will get the pony closet clean out stuff mailed next week. So if you haven't left me an email address to either invoice you at, or get you my address info, comment here or in the original post and I'll get to busy when I return on Tuesday!

Also - Prair officially gets a ribbon AND little engraved Julep Cup which means her horse show cocktails just got more festive!!!

Have good weekends!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Pause for Sunshine

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Year End Award?

My invite came in the mail today for the USHJA Awards dinner, which I think happens sometime in between arguing about rule changes and drinking too much cheap zinfandel at the annual meeting...

My first response was "WHEEEEE Award!! More SATIN!!!"

Followed by my second response of "There is no god damn way I'm spending "horse show money" on a trip to Atlanta to collect a ribbon without my horse."

I'm sure that Atlanta is super fun and super convenient for.... someone, but for us all the way out here in Zone 9, I'm thinking no.  I did wave the invite in The Boy's face briefly just to remind him how worthwhile spending all of our money and time on coercing Prairie around the Hunter Ring has been.

He seemed less than impressed that the however-many-thousands-of-dollars (let's not count, shall we?) spent on entries and training and hotels and everything else managed to snag us an invite to what I'm sure is a less than mind-blowing buffet dinner 3,000 miles away in the national capital of hip-hop.

So as I checked the "politely declines" box on the RSVP card, I started thinking about what's behind year end awards (especially the "second tier" type ones we got) that is still so exciting?

In no way was "win year-end satin" part of my goals for this year with Prairie, or even really something I thought was an option.  It didn't drive my entries, or add additional shows, didn't affect my decision to bop around in different divisions collecting random points in random things, it just wasn't on my mind.

That is... until it was. 

I got an email stating that we were "top contenders" for something and then all the sudden I was stalking the USHJA website like a crazy person after every show looking at point totals and standings.

So I suppose if nothing else, being "in the hunt" for a year end award had me visiting the website and poking around a bit more.. I paid slightly more attention to emails from the organization and actually followed some links about proposed rule changes and whatnot. 

I guess increased involvement and awareness is exactly what our governing bodies are looking for - and it seems that they've finally figured out the quickest way to our collective hearts (or at least mine), is through bribery.

Ergo, the exponential increase of year end awards across all disciplines...

  • Adult Amateur riding an unregistered horse that is over 10 but with less than two years of showing...
  • Non-Thoroughbred Working Bay Hunter with less than two white markings shown by a first year pro
  • HOTY for the best US bred Hanoverian competing in both Dressage and Jumping disciplines in more than two states but less than five....

I'm not complaining though.  I will gladly add yards to my future Ribbon Quilt and I will gladly accept any accolades for what really was a pretty successful first full season out...

And I must say, finding a way to feed the ribbon addicts in the off season is very clever indeed...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pony Closet Cleanouts!

Okay, so the horse closet cleanout took slightly longer than my human closet efforts (thank god for former roommates who have always been in *slightly* better shape than me - they provide happy homes for all my *slightly* too small sweaters...)

As for the pony pieces.  I have emerged (moderately) victorious.  I think I have cleared enough space in the garage to either allow for new acquisitions, or an ever expanding "Christmas Decor" section.

Anyway.  Here are some of the pieces up for grabs.  As mentioned, I loathe all post office/UPS store situations with an irrational vigor so you can either pay me via PayPal (I think I can figure it out) the listed price which will coerce me to package and ship the item, or mail me an empty mail bag with a return label pre-paid (but no cost for the item).  You pick.

Kensington Fly Sheet: Held for JennDonovan
Catalog Pic
Size 84, worn... maybe 10 times. I honestly don't remember why I stopped using this, but I got a different fly sheet this season and never even took this one out of winter storage.  It's the pretty purple ice color and in great condition.

Belly band is removable if you just want to use the surcingles

I apparently didn't wash it, so there is some dirt/dust on a few straps but that's it.

Approx $130 new, yours for $45 or $0 if you send me a prepaid shipping bag for it.

Wool Quarter Sheet: Held for JennDonovan
mothy holes shown, girth straps just out of frame...

I inherited this from an older Pony Club member when I was in High School because it was in my colors - but I never really used it much since I almost never clipped my horses and it almost never gets super freezing cold here...  It's traditional, has girth straps and I assume would work pretty well.  It does have a few moth holes in it that would keep me from using it at a fancy show or clinic, but it still looks pretty sharp and is serviceable even if it's just to keep dog hair off your car seats.

In terms of fit it worked great on TB's and my last eventer, it's a little too short for Prair.  Measures 49" across the top.

I feel like these things are ~$100 new, but this is not new.  If you lived near me I would just give it to you, but like I said - I hate packaging, so it's $25 for me to mail it out (free if you send me a pre-paid thingy)

Veredus Piaffe Evo Dressage Boots: Held for Mare+Missy
 I bought a full set of these (fronts and hinds) for Prair before I even brought her home.  Turns out I forgot about them and they ended up sitting in a box.  I guess if we haven't used them in two years, we don't need them, though I can only find the fronts for some reason... The hinds must be hiding someplace else...

They have tab closures, which I know some people hate, but I really don't mind them on my t-boots.  They are sized Small, though they fit like regular sized horse boots (Both Pia and Prairie).  Originally these things sold for like $200 a pair.  I think I got them for $150 for the full set. 

$30 takes the pair I can find, with dibs on the hinds whenever they show up (or send me a pre-paid thingy).

Moxie Cavalero Techno Sheet: Stolen by SprinklerBandit

OMG I love this blanket.  I bought it for P1 originally and if we were showing I would not be getting rid of it, But it's a size 78, so too small for P2 or Gus to rock on field trips... It works as a cooler, though the thick, heavy drape of it means it's a really cute dress sheet and the suede texture with "shearling" collar is just too flattering for words.  I got the navy with natural colored trim and think it is the most traditional/dashing which makes me sort of sad to list it here.  P probably wore it 5 times, no more - but someone needs to take this blanket out on the town! 
Catalog Pic in red...
pretty front closures (also catalog pic)

omg. so cozy.
I'm not sure it's even on the market anymore but they use to be around $150 new. 

$50 or send me a pre-paid thingy....

Ancient Big D Stable Blanket: Held for Kitty Kat
Like this, but open front
Okay, this thing has been sitting in my garage for 10 years (albeit sitting clean).  It belonged to my last high school horses which means it's definitely not new, but it's in really good condition and still looks clean. Size 78" and  maroon (with maroon trim).  I used to layer it under a turnout, or use it by itself away at shows. 

$40 (because it's bulky) or send me a pre-paid thingy.

Toklat Stable Blanket: Stolen by SprinklerBandit

78" Hunter Green with black trim, in great shape. I think I picked it up from someone else who wa cleaning out blankets but it never got on the Red Mare...

Sleazy Hood: Held for Appydoesdressage

This thing is hideous. and also... never used.  It came in my trailer (?) so who knows what it's story is. I put it on P once just to see if it fit (it did) but that's it.  I've never used these things so I can't speak to anything other than the eye-blinding pattern. 

I forgot to take a picture of this, but I will... It's black and white and maybe one of those Magic Eye thingies.

$20 to ship or send me a pre-paid thingy....

I have a few more items at the barn that are worth adding to the list (like a Nunn Finer Dressage Girth, sized for Giant Piggy Mare) and maybe some bits and things.  I'll do a round two if I find enough crap!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Back on the Meds

I have literally gone through an entire checkbook this week.  Board, farrier, multiple vets (oy).... seems like I'm sprinkling checks around like fairy dust! wheeee!!!!
one of those checks bought a nice cocktail for Prair.  She looks pretty sexy (for a drunk girl).

I'll start with Wednesday which was pedicures and bodywork for both horses.  Prair was the clear winner here.  Her back is doing great, so we just focused on mobilizing her withers even more and limbering her up.  Nothing radical at all, though she did get her first shot of Hyaluronic Acid because... why not.  Might as well be proactive about her big giant joints instead of waiting for her to complain.  (I guess)

Prair's feet looked good.  She got a bit contracted in her show shoes over the summer, but is starting to spread her heels again.  The clips came off her shoes and I told her that she would get extra cookies if she didn't suck them off in the mud immediately. 

Gus had a bit rougher of a day.  After his rickety, stiff hack on Monday vet confirmed that his body felt like he had either a) been t-boned by a large truck or b) somersaulted down a very long, very bumpy hill.


Since neither of those events had (to my knowledge) occurred, we ruminated over whether to treat him like he fell (likely in pasture being a nitwit) or to proceed as though he was doing all this damage and tension to himself in an attempt to compensate for the every-awful Right Front.

Lacking any heat/weirdness in the RF, we went with "must have fallen being a nitwit" and worked appropriately.  Honestly, after 20 minutes of stretching and releases his demeanor perked up and his gait was significantly less - lurchy.  It was nice to see such an immediate improvement - however small.

Gus' feet are also looking pretty good (for him).  There's way less rotting, grossness around his white line and while his heels are still pretty crushed (and flat) they aren't as fractured as they were this time last year.  It's still a bit of a challenge to trim well, but his foot overall is much healthier and better balanced.  His fronts are finally normalizing and looking pretty good too.

Gus came away from the day with a prescription of a week of 2g bute daily, followed by 2 weeks of 1g... along with lots (and lots and lots) of walking.  Hand walking, tack walking - whatever.

When I hopped on him yesterday his walk already felt looser and more even.  I'm hoping some low key exercise and lots of carrot stretches help us stay on track.

This morning Prair got her third shockwave treatment on her back and that vet confirmed that she is much more comfortable to palpation - specifically with regard to her muscles.  She's still a bit ouchy if you directly poke at her spine/ligament, but we sort of expected that... So we're continuing with normal work, but she'll start a 40 day course of Previcox to try to help keep her super comfy and encourage proper use of her back while she continues to strengthen her topline. 


I'm am still full steam ahead on closet cleanouts.  I am also totally incapable of figuring out how to use paypal or anything else along those lines so this maybe be a case of "send me a mailing bag with a pre-paid usps label and I'll just pack and ship anything people want."  Stay tuned! Hopefully someone has a need for gently used Giant Mare sized things.

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