Monday, June 30, 2014

Big Releases

If you've been reading the blog for any length of time, you probably know that I am a pretty big fan/sucker for anything that purports to make my horse's life more comfortable.  Magic saddle pads, magic liniments, magic bodywork, magic supplements... If you can market it as somewhat magical, I will probably buy it.

To my credit I usually suss out whether or not each "magic" thing actually has any magic.. if it doesn't I move on to the next shiny thing I can play with, but if it does, I make copious notes and probably start blabbering about it to everyone who will listen (whether they have horses or not).

I've always felt particularly strong about the value of good bodywork, but holy shit - after watching Prair get her spa treatment on Thursday I think I am slightly obsessed.

I operate under the assumption that if I like my semi-regular bodywork and acupuncture, then I'm sure my horses also appreciate it - plus when I consider that not only are they more athletically inclined than I am (at this point), their shear size and mass sort mean that we're fighting an uphill battle between fitness, comfort and the destructive force of basically being a big beached whale suffering under its own weight.

Given all that, it's a tad surprising that I haven't had any bodywork done n the mare since we moved barns, but part of my enthusiasm around any type of bodywork stems from a trust and confidence in whatever practitioner I am using.  Having moved beyond the travel range of my previous bodywork-er, I let Prair's maintenance schedule slide.

After several positive reviews from within the barn, I decided to give a new lady a go, and holy moly - so glad I did.  I have literally never seen Prair have more (or more obvious) releases in a single session.  Sure, maybe there was some serious low hanging fruit given the lapse in regular treatments, but wow.

So much work got done on that crazy tight Nuchal Ligament, along with releasing her poll/atlas and some serious tension in her throatlatch.  After some simultaneous work on her poll and throatlatch Prair was licking and chewing so much it was like she was trying to spit something out.  Then she sighed and closed her eyes.

After a big release at her poll she had a yawning fit (like 12 yawns in a row?) and her left hip also dropped about 2" in response.

Amazing how everything is connected... I mean we "know" the topline is one big connected spiderweb, but it's pretty powerful to see how directly impacted one area is by the tension (or release) of another.

By the end of her nearly 90 min sesh - Prair was leaning into her bodywork-er and begging for increased pressure at certain points.  Pretty cool.  Even in some super sensitive areas, she never avoided the pressure, but rather maintained a concerned eyeball until things released enough for her to relax into the work.

There were also a few spots of tension I wasn't expecting - like Prair's deep left pectoral, and her left hip, so those got some attention too.

Follow-up appointment is set for about 10 days from now to try and really stay on top of that neck/poll/throatlatch tightness.  I'd love to start to get those areas to stay soft on their own, hopefully the combo of Prair's new muscles and training along with the injections and bodywork will help support some continued relaxation.

I'm particularly motivated to keep that Nuchal Ligament happy - since stretching that down and forward (in a traditional "frame") is what helps physically lift the withers and allow a horse to truly work over its back, and that's exactly what Prair needs to be doing and strengthening all the time.

If the Nuchal is spasming or Prair is unwilling to stretch - that will inhibit our effort to continue to build up her back muscles, support that Supraspinous Ligament and alleviate the Kissing Spine symptoms...

So cool.  Plus it was super fun to watch and learn more about what the bodywork-er was doing/noticing/feeling and Prair was such a happy mareface that she was just nuzzling, grooming and licking me the whole time. I'm not sure the people at work appreciated the total tongue bath in mare spit when I got back to the office, but it was a fun snuggle time for me so who cares.

Friday, June 27, 2014

When In Doubt, Daydream

So for some inexpiable reason, my brain has been on overdrive thinking about what things I could get for the next time Prair and I set foot in a show ring together.
aside from RIBBONS!
This must be some sort of defensive evasion to avoid thinking about practical things, like where I should start storing diapers or how many bases for the car seat we actually need to buy... but since we've already confirmed that baby gear is terrifying, (even though some of it is ridiculously cute), I remain more entertained by tack and show clothes and things that go on the ponies (not all that shocking..)

So let's get back to the horsey stuff:

If I had a magic wand, there are a few items on my wish list for the 2015 show season.  Now, I fully acknowledge that even I, an accomplished impulse buyer, might have to adjust my irrational horse spending upon the arrival of Baby Girl, but that doesn't mean shit when I'm window shopping or day dreaming (thank god).

1) A new show helmet.
Yes, the GPA Speed Air is in great working order. I haven't crashed on it (yet), and I love it for schooling, and it's still within it's recommended lifespan.  but it doesn't ooze Hunter.  And since I have every intention of making into the rated divisions, I sort of think we might need something with velvet.  (ooooohhhh ahhhhhh).  The industry leader in this (under represented) style would have to be the Charles Owen - who has a couple velvety options to choose from.  Their tried and true option remains the Hampton - I still see this hat on a lot of amateurs (though usually ones over 35) at the shows.  And while it lacks the modern styling of all the JR8/V8/AYR8 helmets... I sorta love it?

it has a BOW.  I haven't had a helmet with a bow since the 90's
I figure if I'm going to go old school traditional, I might as well go really old school traditional.  I miss velvet hats (though I don't miss keeping one clean on a daily basis), so part of me wishes there were more options for this style... The last velvet I had was a Troxel Grand Prix (which they apparently still make).  I suppose it could be an option, but the harness and finishes look a tad less sophisticated, which sort of defeats the purpose since this purchase would be 100% based on aesthetics.  Truth be told CO has actually really expanded their velvet offerings recently and includes the Wellington Classic, H2000, Fiona's Hat (my personal fav, and pick if I can find it) and the ShowjumperXP
The Fiona - CO's slimest safety helmet

2) New Boots! 
I know, I know, shoot me now.  How many times have I talked about boots! (the answer is almost as many times as I've bought boots... as evidenced, here, here and here ((and maybe here and here too)) ).  But, much to my dismay the Treadsteps have dropped more than I hoped (though I sorta thought that would happen) and while I still really enjoy their look and style, 100% custom, they are not.

Much like the GPA, I am thrilled with the comfort and function... but if we're being super picky about appearance... I could make a couple improvements.  Shallow, I know. but BOOTS.  God, I love boots.  Any excuse to shop for boots....

I'd probably go with Konigs, which I have a deep fondness for.  My Konig Dressage Boots have served me well, as have the super-sale-field-boots I snagged a couple years ago.  I just love the traditional lines, and the quality of the leather.  Plus our local tack shop carries them, so I don't have to go show at WEF to get a fitting :).  If we're really aiming for the stars, I'd go Der Dau and never look back, but... well. Since I know myself and any "forever" solution really only seems to last 2 years for me at this point - the Konigs seem like a prudent splurge (oxymoron?) and they would do just fine.

3) A New Coat.

There are so many beautiful coats out there and so many wonderful ways to order a unique (yet traditional!) jacket that I'm just drooling over the opportunity.  I suppose the silver lining of potentially not losing the baby weight right away would be that I might "have" to get a bigger coat.  oh darn.  My Grand Prix that I found on sale held it together in Thermal at 22 weeks preggo, but if boobs or belly are any larger than that benchmark when I want to show again... we'll be on the hunt.

Clearly I'm on a traditional kick, but there are some fun options out there to sneak in if you have the time/money/inclination to go semi-custom.  I saw some beautiful coats by both Grand Prix and Pikuer down in Thermal that I thought looked tasteful, yet modern.  I think my next coat color is Navy, and I'd be tempted to get some piping on the pockets or possibly the collar in a matching satin.  Most bold contrast is too much for the Hunter Ring (IMHO), especially for an Ammy doofusing around the small ring.

Contrast collars and too much flash with piping or stitching or buttons can come off as pretentious to me.  Sort of like when people put hunt colors on their boots without having earned them.
Still a tad too much contrast for me...

4) Show Pad! I like Prair's half fleecey pad, and in fact I think she looks simple and classy in it - but unlike my old saddle, the new CWD actually fits most contour pads and I'm sort of tempted to order an Ogilvy pad to show in.

Necessary? god no.  But you know what they say.. No Back, No Horse... or something like that.
mmm, fleecey and foamy!
I know the Ogilvy bandwagon is overloaded with followers, but I really have to say that I remain thrilled with my half pad.

Prair's back is so touchy - and it's wild, curvy shape is so hard to fit - that the squishy, squashy Ogilvy pad has been a god send.  I'll wait to see how the new saddle finishes breaking in before really pulling the trigger on this thing, but I can see it being the "smartest" buy of anything on this list.  Maybe because it's the only thing that would be driven by function rather than just a wardrobe upgrade?? (oops...details).

But, like everything else, this is just a wishlist, a current collection of whims as I watch Miss Prair work from afar.

But really, would it be responsible to show up to defend our Circuit Championship at Thermal with anything less??? I think not. (oh, did I mention that I'm already thinking about Thermal? which The Boy consistently reminds me was "sold to him" as a "one time only" event??  Did I say once in a lifetime??? I maybe meant once a year....)

As for everything else, I've got plenty of breeches and... um gloves? to see us through another year, so clearly I'm not thinking about a totally new wardrobe (what? gloves totally count...) because that would just be ridiculous.  Come to think of it, no need to hunt for new shirts either since I have my (favorite) FITS show shirts, from TOTD...

We clearly have time to change our minds here, so don't be too surprised if this list changes/doubles in size/becomes a monster, but these four items have been rolling around in my brain and are fun to keep an eye out for...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Pampered Prair

I bopped down to the barn Tuesday to clean up the trunk from the show, pat the pony and get some snuggles in.

After two weeks in a portable show stall, Prair is enjoying some well deserved downtime and rest.  
That Face.
The barn has a fairly regular routine of having our lameness/sports med vet out the day or two after each show to check on the horses, make sure everyone is comfy and take care of any maintenance.  At first I was a bit skeptical that we were simply taping horses together, but as I've gone through the routine a few times now - I love the proactive approach (even if my wallet doesn't).  The horses are always checked before long trips, and then again after, to see if anything cropped up with the stress and strain of traveling/showing.  

Most horses don't end up with much more than a short observation under saddle and jogging in hand, but for someone like Prair - with her finicky back and other correlated quirks, it's great peace of mind knowing she's not burning out of getting used up.

That said, Prair is quickly filling up her injection punch card and I'm thinking that if there were such a thing, we'd be close to our "buy 10 get one free." 

The vet thought Prair was looking great through her back (HUGE, HUGE HOORAY) so she spent her time investigating the hind end and trying to see if there was anything to the "something" that N has been feeling in the right hind.  

Prair hasn't been lame, but N feels like she just doesn't want to push off that RH quite as much as the left, and is less willing to really rock back and roll over it.  I promised that if she was still feeling that "something" after this show series, we'd investigate, so we did.

So Prair got flexed 27 ways to Tuesday and the only slight hot spots were her Right Stifle, and her LH Fetlock (?).  Stifle made sense with what we've been feeling, but vet didn't think it was nearly dramatic enough to warrant an ultrasound or any further diagnostics, so she suggested an injection to clear inflammation and see how Prair felt in work after that.  

The left hind is more of a question mark.  She's never flexed positive there before, but we have been talking about whether or not she's interfering a bit when she lands and goes for a lead change.  Currently thinking this might be more of an impact soreness from whacking herself than a chronic injury, we held off on doing anything with that.

The stifle injection means 5 days off, so Prair is under strict orders to just enjoy her pasture and some days without any work.  At the show I also noticed her nuchal ligament was extra tight and even "snapping" across her crest a bit, which isn't tragic and doesn't immediately affect her way of going, but it can't feel good.

Prair's nuchal has gotten really tight before, especially when the mare was guarding her back and really tense through the shoulder.. which isn't the case now, so who knows what the trigger is.

I do know that bodywork has previously really helped relax to her nuchal ligament - and that made me feel like a better horse mom - so I booked some bodywork for today to see if we can help the big girl release some of that tension.

Not such a bad week for Prairie (aside from the giant needle to the leg).  Some time off... a nice massage.. extra treats. All well deserved - and all should contribute to a happy, healthy relaxed mareface.

Prair's calendar is pretty open at this point.  We opted out of the show series in July that the barn is attending due to the... well..ya know, baby.  And I didn't think that traveling to Central Oregon for two weeks sounded like a wise/relaxing use of maternity leave (although it's tempting)...

I feel a whole lot better about skipping July when I remember that Prair hasn't had a month without a show since before Thermal (wow).   And while I love the idea of her having a steady, consistent season, I think she'll appreciate a slower month and I'll appreciate keeping my checkbook in my purse for once. 

We are aiming to be back in action in early August when hopefully Miss Baby will be ready to stroll around a horse show with me! (the lady at the baby store actually said "oh you have horses? you're gonna want the stroller with the bigger wheels if you go to shows!!")  Thank god someone is looking out for our baby/horse crossover needs!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

NHP: How a Bloggy Horse Lady Preps for a Baby

Warning: Non-Horsey-Post, although, lots of horsey comparison, so maybe it's just a semi-horsey post about babies...

There are lots of things about myself and my life that I can adjust - my professional responsibilities, my exercise routine, my wake up time, my drinking habits (at least... temporarily), my diet (also temporarily), etc.  But there are more (many more) things about me that don't change, even if my surroundings or context does.

You just can't take the snark, tack ho, compulsive shopper or OCD out of the Bloggy Horse Girl.

Those things seem to stick around no matter what I'm doing.

So, it should be no surprise that I approached this whole "get ready for a baby" thing kinda like how I approached getting back into horses, moving barns, buying a trailer, or showing.

Actually - scratch that I put way more thought and planning into owning horses again (possibly even my trailer purchases?) than I ever did into planning for kids.  That might be a red flag, but it's true, so I will just admit it.

A lot of my friends began their baby education decades ago when it was socially acceptable to be babysitting.  They were changing diapers, maneuvering strollers around parks and trying to coax cranky kids into their beds while I was perfecting my shipping wraps (damn you pony club), scrubbing tack and droolling over saddles that wouldn't stain my breeches.

misspent youth
Tragically, The Boy also lacked any serious early exposure to babies/babysitting/younger sibs/cousins/etc.  This means that when we found out we were expecting, we were totally excited, but also, moderately terrified and completely clueless.

Usually this would trigger my Tack Ho OCD into overdrive, I'd be googling and reading and researching everything I could with the fervor of trying to compare the relative merits of two relatively identical bridles.

But it didn't.  Mostly because Thermal was on the horizon, and I mentally refused to "feel too pregnant" while I was still riding and planning for that trip.  (To that point, I still sort of refuse to "feel too pregnant" and am sometimes surprised when people ask when I'm due or I literally run into something with my stomach...)

Before anyone pounces on me for endangering the life of my child, I'd just like to say that yes, there was risk in continuing to ride, but I also always followed the advice of my OB and was lucky to not have any complications or elevated risks - which made me very comfortable jumping around at 2'3" for a few extra months.  I totally understand why other people wouldn't feel great doing that, but I did.

So, really it wasn't until after Thermal (or 23ish weeks preggo) that I started contemplating the fact that we were 17 weeks away from a real live baby.

THEN the Tack Ho OCD kicked in.  I started googling. I started reading.  And I started to desperately catch up on all the stuff most of my friends learned when they were 12.

Step 1:  Find sarcastic, entertaining blogs written by people who know more than you.

This was relatively easy.  I literally googled "snarky pregnancy blog" and then kept clicking links until I found what I wanted.

Three blogs/sites rose to the surface for me.  In fact, I found them so entertaining I've even forwarded posts to non-pregnant people because I'm that entertained.

It's possible that I've just turned into "that lady" who forwards shit people don't want to read (like horse articles to non-horsey peeps) but I think I have a pretty good filter for that... lord help me if I don't.... Although, now that I think about it, this whole post might be an example of talking about stuff other people don't care about...

1) Pregnant Chicken
This seems to be a very well known site, and is definitely run by a professional-mommy-blogger (another thing I didn't know about, apparently).  She doesn't update that often, but her backlog of posts is huge, so you just sort of find what applies to you in the archives and go from there.  Things that I appreciate about this site include the fact that she doesn't constantly compare your impending baby to a fruit or a veggie, but rather to other, more entertaining things like a grenade, or a barbie.  For example, for your 38th week of pregnancy this is what she says:
I love how some sites are still comparing your baby to fruits and vegetables at this point. They want to show what your baby looks like right now? They should show you a fucking baby because that’s what your baby looks like right now – not an obscure melon or a root vegetable.
Sorry for the language, but at 38 weeks preggo... it doesn't sound so profane :)

Anyway, she's funny.  She still seems to cover all the "traditional" content, but in a less flowery, omg-miracle-of-life sort of way, and I appreciate that.

2) Lucie's List
This has become one of my most visited sites while I prep for baby.  She is the Tack Ho of all things baby.  I know there are a million sites out there reviewing baby stuff, but this one has become my bible.  I like that she reviews things in all price brackets, and then (seems) to do a good job of telling you which splurge items are totally splurge worthy and which ones will just get you noticed at whatever bougie playground you plan on going to.  As a natural tack ho, I like to know when I'm following fads and when I'm actually buying a better product. Her site also helps you along the adventure of pregnancy, with tips, reminders, and suggestions - nothing radical, but all entertaining and helpful.

Her "baby registry checklist" is a GOD SEND for anyone who hasn't already had 17 children, had 17 friends who have already had children or had 17 years of Montessori training.  I seriously have a printed out copy with all sorts of notes and folds and check lists in the bottom of my purse.  It's gotten almost as much love as my old "Manual of Horsemanship"

(side note, why don't we get to register for new horses??? New horse owners are JUST as inundated with endless gear... plus the cost is also crazy.. I vote we start having "horse showers" and registering for things)

3) I Like Beer and Babies
This is a really "traditional" blog.

It's written by one mom, mostly about her satirical observations of motherhood as she raises her two kids.  She's funny, she's straightforward and like many of the horsey blogs I read, she does a good job of not making it look like it's all rainbows and tri-colors all the time.  There seem to be about a million of these blogs available for perusing, but I keep coming back to this one.  Maybe because the name sticks in my head.  (god I can't wait for beer).

So those are my favorites.  In terms of "credible enough to be printed in real life and not just on the web" I have one standout book that I will literally shove down the throat of my next friends who get pregnant and that's Emily Oster's "Expecting Better."

A clever title and stint writing for meant that she had a leg up on all the other baby books I collected on my nightstand - but I really did find this book to be by far the most helpful and informative as I started my pregnancy.  She appeals to the scientist in me by taking ALLL the conventional pregnancy do's-and-don'ts and presenting you with the original source data that created those universally touted recommendations.   She's a tad polarizing as some critics think she's just helping to justify irresponsible women and their irresponsible choices to endanger their babies - But I found her voice refreshing and her presentation informative.

Basically she presents data (in a merciful laymen sort of way), then lets you decide what risk level you are comfortable with, rather than having to just decide if you want to be a "rule breaker" or not with absolute guidelines that lack any supporting info.

I really liked it, and for me it was nice to know that some of the risk factors associated with pregnancy (like  sushi or soft cheeses) were well within a tolerance that I was comfortable ignoring sometimes.  She also has practical summaries like "your risk of X if you do Y is more than/less than getting struck by lightning."  That made the threats of "1 in 10,345,672 babies will die from ____" seem more digestible.  Most baby/pregnancy books can terrify the crap out of you with all the horrible ways fetuses and babies can die that you never knew about.

This is where I started to really feel the similarities between pregnancy and horse ownership.  EVERYONE has an anecdote about something.

Some people always wrap their horses when they haul because they've heard/had horror stories of gore and maiming without wraps - and others never wrap their horses because they've heard/had horror stories with wraps.  So should you wrap you're horse in the trailer? Are you abusive or irresponsible for letting your horse go naked? or is it negligent to put those life threatening pillow wraps on their legs??

What's important to me is to a) understand what's actually happening in the back of a trailer when a horse is in it, b) understand your horse and their own brains/bodies, and c) Make a decision that I  am comfortable with so that I can sleep at night.

I've gotten very comfortable at those judgement calls with my horses - and so I sort of used Expecting Better to feel a tad more empowered about educating myself and feeling empowered to make my own decisions about pregnancy too.

That's enough on printed reading things....There's way too much out there to even begin to digest all of it.

Step 2: Find a place in your house to put the baby/all the baby stuff

In terms of actually buying stuff/making way for baby in the home... The Tack Ho took over again.  I'm sure you all have figured out that I have a strong preference for "pretty" and I also have a strong sense of what I consider pretty/not pretty.

Pia = Pretty
Gus = Pretty
Prair = Pretty
The Boy = Pretty
Equifit T-Boots = Pretty
My Trailer - Pretty, CWD - Pretty, Pessoa plaid Blankets - pretty (espec. the purple).  Pretty. Pretty. Pretty.

So, what am I to do with a nursery and ZERO inherited items from the non-existent previous kids?


The space we made for the baby is a fairly tight 9'x11' (which of course I immediately consider a "small" horse stall."  12x12 would have been better... but thankfully the baby is not a 17h 1200lb warmblood, so we should be able to make do...

I did consider the fact that our "converted" nursery (it was an alcove in the bedroom... we just added a wall and a door) lacked any sort of built in storage so I was going to need drawers.  Lots of drawers and shelves.

So, I waited for my semi-monthly notification of a HUGE GIANT SALE at Restoration Hardware and went nuts.

My first piece to nail down was the (massive) changing table that had (a shit ton) of storage.

This thing makes my massive tack trunk look like a small piece of furniture.

Then we filled in with a crib (also RH) and space for a rocking chair, diaper pail, etc.

This thing is just pretty.
Basically, I let my own style determine furniture, then I relied on the web (and Lucie's List, and a few friends) for all small furnishings.  The mattress, the changing pad, the diaper pail, the sheets, the extra sheets, the EVERYTHING OMG SO MUCH STUFF.

In the end, we ended up with a pretty decent looking (little) nursery that I'm pretty sure has more crap in it than we need, but it'll work.
you should be used to sub-par phone pics by now (look! a pony!)

see? HUGE.

It's not totally "done," but I'm tired of trying to organize a room for tasks that I'm unfamiliar with.  It'd be like packing up a trailer for your first show ever... you don't really know which hook you want your bridle/chain/helmet/spurs on until you're holding onto your horse with one hand and desperately searching for your bridle/chain/helmet/spurs.  So I'm just gonna wait for a phase two, once we know what we're dealing with...

Let's see, what else have I done to prepare... oh yes, HIRE PROFESSIONAL HELP.

Step 3: Hire Professionals

A couple weeks ago when I had my first bout of regular, semi terrifying contractions and I totally terrified The Boy.  That's not to say he wasn't loving, or concerned or trying to do whatever he could to keep the baby in, but he didn't exactly have a wealth of knowledge to draw on to help me decide what to do.

I sorta feel like going into labor and relying ONLY on him for guidance would be like me warming up for a Dressage Test, having Prair PANIC about something, and me asking him "so babe, do you think she's holding the tension in her jaw or her back? I just don't feel like she's totally engaging with me."

Or maybe it's more like walking a Prelim XC course and me looking at him with horrified eyes and asking how he'd suggest getting through the bank complex.

I'd never make the poor man try to guess how to help in a horsey situation he wasn't experienced in, and since his horse experience vastly outweighs his baby experience (uh oh, red flag!), it seems even less fair to expect him to be cool, calm and collected for the whole birth thing.  Could he do it? sure.  Do lots of men out there help support their wives through labor? absolutely.  But if there's one thing I credit with my (relative) success both personally and professionally, it's knowing how to manage and maximize my resources.  If there is an expert out there who can help me through something - I use them.  (I try to learn from them in the process, but holy hell, use your resources.)

Ergo, we hired a Doula.  At first I thought it sounded like a crazy, hippy thing to do, but then I realized that I literally have coaches for everything else in my life, why oh why wouldn't I get one for this??

So, I did more Tack Ho googling and we found a great young gal who won't give me the stink eye if I get an epidural - and who will help calm us down and tell us we can stay at home and eat sandwiches for at least another 8 hours before we need to be at the hospital.  (maximizing both time at home and sandwich eating is paramount for me).  She seems sweet and fun to talk to - and like she knows her birthing process, so I look forward to her calming me down and telling me that everything is totally ok.

Really, not so different from cantering by your trainer on the sidelines and hearing "eyes up, and LEG and ONE AND TWO AND ONE AND NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICE."  Or maybe it's more like full grooming.  I don't know, because I haven't done this before - which, again... professionals.

So yes.  Doula.  Check.

Step 4: Act like yourself

What else.  I guess really the only other prep we've managed is to really enjoy each other and our sleep for these last couple of weeks.  We've been having lots of conversations about our expectations (both of the baby, HA - and each other) and I think we're as ready as we can be.

Mostly our approach has looked a lot like how we do anything else.  Lots of random chatting, spending a little more money than we probably need to (my fault, not his), and lots and lots of reliance on other smart, sassy people for guidance.  That's how we got married, how we talk about the horses, the house... our friends.. all of it, really.  It'd be weird to impose another method and expect it to serve us well.

I say, do what works (assuming what you do works) and pray that the hormones and instincts will kick in when necessary :)  That's what we've done....

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Ground Crew

I haven't spent much time recently extolling the virtues of having really (really, really) good grooms.  Last year (at the same show) was my first experience with "full grooming." and since then I've opted to have full grooming at about half the shows depending on how crazy of a schedule it is and/or if there is lots of fun stuff to be doing (ie: Thermal and watching the big horses jump the big things)...

All said and done, full grooming is pretty effing spectacular... if you've got great grooms.  My current theory is if you've got people you trust, who do things correctly, how you want them, and have good horsey observation skills - it is money exceedingly well spent.

However, if you end up repositioning your saddle, switching bits, or re-wrapping your horse... then it probably isn't.  Fortunately for us, we've got an insanely talented head groom who works at the farm and oversees all the show grooming which keeps things running smoothly when we're on the road.  On top of that, the barn consistently hires the same 2-3 extra guys at shows so we know who we're getting and the guys know the horses too.

For me, there have been only two drawbacks to full grooming - the first is that every once in a while tack gets misplaced or swapped - but I've learned how to mitigate that by doing a thorough inventory check in my trunk and just hopping on any missing items as soon as possible.  Also, I've tagged the shit out of everything. girths, boots, pads... EVERYTHING.  I can't imagine trying to keep 14 set of nearly identical t-boots straight.. so I try to not be super OCD, but it's hard for me...

The second drawback, which I don't really have a solution for - is that I miss some of the "process" of getting myself ready, sensing what kind of day the mare is having, etc.  I really enjoy grooming and the early morning prep along with afternoon baths is just part of what "showing" means to me.

Of course this drawback comes with inherent benefits like... not scrambling to get ready, not forgetting things (like gloves, or martingales..), and not transferring my nerves to the mare... etc. etc.

So far this is one of those absurd 1% problems that I sorta ignore and just make an effort to connect with the mare a bit before classes some other way.  (The Boy has informed me that it's not charming to whine that you don't get enough pony play time when you have really excellent grooms helping you out... he is probably right).

But really, what I wanted to write about is how awesome our guys are, and how much confidence I have in their abilities.  Not only does Prair end up turned out like a champion, but I get great regular feedback from them letting me know if she's drinking less water... seemed extra sleepy (or spooky) or whatever.  Things I would notice about my own horse, and really appreciate hearing that someone else is paying attention too.

Also, it's cool to see Prair establish a relationship with the guys.  Sure sometimes they are making her work hard in the Equicore on a lunge line... but most of the time they are simply doting on her, dispensing cookies and helping the mare stay calm and comfortable whether it's ringside or in her stall.

In fact, she must love the guys, because she lets them do all sorts of things to her that I would get a stinky mare eye for (like washing her face, trimming her ears... etc.).  I figure she doesn't let just anyone soap her up like this:

there is ZERO chance I would get away with this move...
Also, I appreciate that my Trainer maintains a great relationship with all the Grooms.  She treats them respectfully, always thanks them for their work and makes sure they get plenty of recognition when we have big wins.  Since the trails were so fabulous at this last facility, she even had them taking all the horses out to keep them loose and stretched out.  I can't think of another barn where I've seen the trainers trust their guys (or the horses, lol) enough to encourage such things.

Prair out on the trail with one of her guys.
All in all, two (or three!) weeks of showing is a much more relaxed, enjoyable process with the right team in place.

And I love knowing that I have a great team of pros when we want them, and a great husband to help bathe and hold bags/treats/horses when we don't.  :)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Alpine Preview - Pro Days

And we're back! I probably won't get to see the mare go this weekend with her HLL, but I did manage to sneak away to the show to watch both Pro Days with The Boy.  Juggling work, impending baby and all the impending baby obligations has left us a tad over scheduled, but somehow horse time always wins out :)

It was a lot of horse show hurry-up-and-wait (not shocking, but the weather was cooperating, and more importantly there's a super delicious taco truck with endless supplies of tostadas and enchiladas to keep the pregnant lady happy.

The mare was a rock star.  Period.  We decided to throw her on gastrogard for the second week and just see if that helped out at all.
Week 2 - got this.
I don't know if it was the gastrogard, or the effect of having settled in for a week, or all the extra trail rides - but mare was SOLID.  She was just that teeeeensiest bit more relaxed everywhere. In her stall, in the grooming stall, walking around... everywhere.

And boy did it show in her rounds.

Wednesday Prair had two rounds in Ring Two and a flat, and then two rounds in the big ring.  She looked decidedly better than last week, N was able to float her reins a bit, but Prair was still rather intrigued by everyone on the far side of the ring.  Small peek at the oxer set in front of the judge's booth, but otherwise pretty chill.  Usually we bring the mare out in between rounds just to reset and regroup, but N felt like she was calm enough that not only could they stay in but they could transition to the trot for their opening/closing circles rather than working through the walk.

I know that sounds like a super lame Hunter Detail, but with Prair being able to ask her to work and show her off a bit more is new... in the past we've utilized the walk for those extra precious seconds of calm and cool...  So, two rounds, both lovely aside from a couple peeks here and there.  Also new? No warm up classes, just straight to work.  A year ago I wouldn't have considered skipping the warm ups - but this week she didn't need them! (whee).

In an odd turn of events, Prair was a tad more tense in the Big Ring than she was in the smaller ring, but I think that's because her final two rounds were literally the last classes of the day and the wind was starting to pick up a bit making everything more... interesting.  Prair still looked lovely, and better than last week, just a tad more on edge than for her first few trips.

Our big success for those rounds was landing. every. lead.  That never happens.  Usually Prair prefers her left, and we end up with changes (albeit better ones!) to swap to the right.  It was really nice to see her following the reins and landing soft and ambidextrously.

Again, like last week there were two separate 2'9" divisions.  The one in the small ring (Low Working Hunter) and the one in the big ring (Schooling Hunter).  For some reason the division in the smaller ring was stacked with horses going in the rated divisions, and the division in the large ring was significantly less competitive.

Prair was rewarded for her efforts and came away with some good ribbons:

Wednesday Results:
Low Working Hunter 1        4th/10
Low Working Hunter 2        5th/10
Low Working Hunter U/S    1st/ less (not everyone hacked)
Schooling Hunter 1               1st/6
Schooling Hunter 2               1st/6

Thursday it all came together.  Prair looked spectacular, warmed up spectacular and I think gave us her best work yet.  She had two more rounds in the small ring and then her final two rounds and a hack in the big ring.

For her first couple of rounds N was even able to float the reins at the base of the jumps.  Prair was jumping up and through her back wonderfully and seemed totally chill and adjustable in between fences.  I was thrilled.  So cool to watch her finally start to understand her job and be proficient.  I think the decision to hold at 2'9" and have a confidence building week was a good one...

About an hour later Prair came back for her final two rounds in the big ring.  For some reason everyone joined the party and her classes were about twice the size they had been on Wednesday, plus we were in front of the judge who maybe didn't enjoy her quite as much... Mostly I decided I just wanted to finish the pro days on a solid, consistent performance and if Prair could do that I'd be a happy horse mom.

Boy, did she ever.  N laid down probably the most consistent two trips I've seen Prairie put in.  Her tempo was steady, she was easily moving up or holding to the fences, balancing herself... all in all just acting like a REAL HUNTER.  all grown up.  Sure it's only 2'9" but we'll get there.  I just love watching it.

The judge's must have seen some improvement from Wednesday to Thursday as well because Prair managed to pin highly in both rings - even taking a clean sweep of her Schooling Hunter division.  It was good enough for another championship along a reserve in the Low's.  That means 3 tri colors for three divisions (the low's didn't hack last week) and Prair's first tri-colors with N in the tack!

Hard to complain about a show that ends like that! The Boy and I made a quick exit after the final under saddle and somehow managed to still not be late to a cocktail event downtown less than two hours later.

I'm grateful I got to log some serious pony time before Miss Baby shows up, since we're looking to give Prair July off from showing, before hopefully being back on our feet to watch her go in August.

One final clip from the 3rd round in the Big Ring - so proud!

Thursday Results:
Low Working Hunter 3        3rd/10
Low Working Hunter 4        2nd/10
Schooling Hunter 3               1st/12 (more people joined the party)
Schooling Hunter 4               1st/12
Schooling Hunter U/S           1st/less (not everyone hacked)

Reserve Ch. Low Working Hunter 2'9"
Champion Schooling Hunter 2'9"

Pleased with herself

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Down Days

Prair had yesterday off, just some long hand walks to get out of the stall - but today it was back to work schooling for the second week.

One of the benefits of this particular facility is that it's got miles (and miles and miles) of trails that head off right from the arenas.  It also has a fun XC course and Derby Field, but I've been told experimenting with those fun new things while "trying to relax the mare" might not be helpful.  Plus, if anyone is taking that mare XC it's me.. so that will just have to wait!

Glad to see that she's getting of out the sandbox for some time on the trails though.  Hopefully it helps her relax and unwind a bit too!

Shiny Show Mare Explores...
Tomorrow I'm back up to the show to watch the two Pro Days again.  Not sure what Prair is getting entered in, I suppose I'll find out when I get there!

game time!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Swiftwater - Day Two (and the rest of them..)

I really thought that with my job as "spectator" and "treat giver" I'd have so much down time on my hands I'd be blogging away with timely updates - but apparently not.  Also, I'm not sure if it's the nature of the hormones, or just that this is a total brain dump of unorganized memories from the show - but this might be a lackluster post.  I'll try to come up with some slightly more clever observations - but no promises!

We left off after Prair's first Pro Day which involved scratching the 3' rounds and pursuing the 2'9".  We still did both flats for the 3' divisions (go team), and ultimately ended up with two very respectable and dare I say attractive rounds at 2'9" along with great performances in the Under Saddles.

Very nice to see Prair get to work with N and do her job, as well as to see HLL give her such tactful rides in some rather crowded rings for the hacks.

Thursday we came out with the planning on two more 2'9" rounds in the second hunter ring, then two more rounds in the main ring for our "division" and an Under Saddle.

Once again, the rounds in the second ring were a tad edgy and Prair was extremely looky down the judge's line (mostly due some someone walking a dog on the dreaded far side of the ring...) but she held it together.

Her rounds in the main ring were better than the smaller ring but not quite as relaxed as day one.  I videoed the first round of the day (round three of the division) and you can see what I mean.

The fourth round was lovely mostly because I opted not to video it.  Prair snagged a 4th and a 1st for those last two rounds.

Finally we had an Under Saddle, which was uneventful since only 3 of the horses who jumped opted to hack.  Prair won the class and snagged a champion with an impressive 44 points.  I was a happy mama.

(short clip of the under saddle for posterity.. not actually exciting)

sidenote - some of you may remember that this show handed out beach towels for Champion last year... I have since cut mine up into groom rags but was thrilled to see that in addition to beach towels (not a fan) you could choose a gortex/fleecey blanket which was much appreciated given the thunderstorms and wicked breeze.  Hooray for functional prizes!  Actually they had LOVELY jackets, but that was for big fancy "rated" divisions only.. sigh.. next time!

Horse & Husband (husband dressed so I don't lose him apparently)
Long story short, Prair was much more manageable for the pro days than she was at this show last year.  Lots of the same issues - nerves about people/things outside the ring and anxiety in the crowded warmup ring and flat classes.. but much more manageable, and better quality work all the way around.

When I compare the videos they don't look that drastically different - but the mare is different.  She didn't take a 2 hour warm up, she wasn't rolling her eyes at the back gate, and able to stand and chill and hang out like a grown up horse.  Overall less anxiety - but maybe still not 100% in the ring..

Results from Pro Days:

2'9" Warm up                       2nd/4
2'9" Warm up                       3rd/4
Pre Green Under Saddle       1st/12
Large Hunter Under Saddle   1st/13
2'9" Warm up (Big Ring)       1st/5
2'9 Schooling Hunter 1          1st/5
2'9 Schooling Hunter 2          1st/5

2'9" Warm up                       6th/7 (OOPS)
2'9" Warm up                       2nd/6
2'9 Schooling Hunter 1         4th/7
2'9 Schooling Hunter 2         1st/7
Schooling Hunter US            1st/3

Friday was Equitation Day, which was maybe not Prair's favorite thing.  She was entered in the 2'6" Pre Adults and had some very tense rounds, complete with a few stops, which is a new thing.  Fortunately the Long Stirrup ran later in the day, so after a break back at the stall, they came out for another couple rounds which looked light years better.  I think Prair really benefits from having a "second" ride.  Whether it's because she has an early hack, or because her classes are spread out - she always seemed significantly less irritable the second time she is ridden.

So a note was made, and the mare got hacked early Sat morning before Hunter rounds.  The schedule was reversed, so the 2'3" stuff ran first, and we entered her in a warm up just to see how she was.... if she was tense, we could add more classes, if she was good - she'd go back and wait for her 2'6" stuff at the end of the day.
Prair and HLL 
Turns out she was pretty good! Even snagging a respectable 3rd in a big open class of 18.  Definitely an improvement over Friday... so the mare got to go snooze and enjoy some nap time.

I had promised The Boy we'd "leave early" on Saturday and have most of our weekend at home... but I lied.  We ended up sticking around to watch Prair's 2'6" rounds (a warm up, two Hunter rounds and one Medal).  She was much better for all of her rides and managed to place 3rd (again) out of 18 in the warm up, then 7th in both hunter rounds (out of 16) and took first in her medal (!).  there was also an Under Saddle at the end of the day... I didn't stick around for it, but she got second (behind another barn mate) which apparently made sense given her rather obvious objections to the traffic in the ring.

Get over it mare.

We weren't there to witness the end of the week with the final two rounds on Sunday, but apparently all was well and they finished the division with a 4th and a 2nd in a fairly large field.  (apparently the Pre-Adults are where it's at).

I was also happy to hear they got to go on a nice long trail ride afterward and unwind a bit from a (very) busy first week of showing.

This week I'll pop back up to watch pro days, but probably won't stay to watch the weekend, although last week the barn had five horses in the derby (three with juniors/ammys!) who finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 9th!.  Made for a very awesome victory lap and added some serious heft to the ribbon wall with all those neck ribbons!  So... it's possible I'll have to stick around to watch that again, but we'll see.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Swiftwater - Day One

Whoo boy. Day one in the books.
All in all, today was a raging success, especially when compared to our "day one" from last year.

N opted to add a couple 2'9" warm up classes in the second hunter ring and, oh lord, mare was not excited about show life.

Things were better than her first few rounds last year, but much more anxious than what we've come to expect. When N came out of the ring, she expressed some concerns over taking Prair 3' and specifically - dealing with the two stride.

She *looked* good from the ground, but I know the feeling of that mare about to explode and I could see in her eyeball that she was teetering on the edge. So we chatted, and made the executive decision to scratch the 3' over fences but keep the flat classes.

Also, there were three more 2'9" classes at the end of the day so we added those figuring that the trips would be good - but we wouldn't have to face the two stride and freak her out.

It was a great plan. HLL took the ride for the two flat classes (pre green and large hunter) and did an AMAZING job. She had the mare really moving and did an excellent job of hiding her tension and showing off the good parts..

We were rewarded with two blues in two decently big (13 horses) and rather competitive classes.

I should have taken video, but I never remember during Under Saddles..

We had a few minutes of downtime before the fences were reset to 2'9" and thankfully, Prair was acting much more grown up than she was in her earlier classes.

Of course that's when I noticed that they kept the damn two stride (coming home no less) in for the 2'9" which left me wondering what the hell we rearranged everything for..

But, N worked her magic and put in a beautiful warm up round. A few spots to improve on, but much more relaxed than in the small ring.

The first division round was even better and the second, better still. The two stride ended up being some of her best fences and I was thrilled with how responsive the mare stayed in some claustrophobic (by hunter standards) corners.

Mare was rewarded with three blue ribbons for holding it together and I felt great about giving her some good trips to build on.

Initially I was moderately disappointed to miss our 3' divisions, but ultimately it's about figuring out what builds confidence and encourages relaxation - so I feel great about the decision and made sure N knew that I was totally on board.

Also, really I just want to watch the mare go around, I don't care when or how that happens - though a few blues never hurt...

Tomorrow the plan is to scratch the rest of the 3' classes, add a couple warm ups at 2'9" then finish our 2'9" Division in the big ring with two more courses and a flat class.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

HP Confession

I totally forgot to repent my Hunter Princess crimes yesterday when I was all busy posting cute pictures of my ponies and talking about how I can waste a weekend without even riding... oops.

So, next door to Gus' home, is a really lovely HJ show barn.  I won't lie, the head trainer there totally terrifies me so while there is an appeal of having Prair and Gus share a fence line... it's never gonna happen.

Anyway, when I popped out on Saturday I noticed that there was more of a crowd than usual, and tents! big pretty white tents like a show!  Pregnancy brain in full force I spent probably 30 minutes dilly dallying around before I remembered that HRH George Morris was doing a full weekend clinic and it was open to audit.

There was about a twenty second pause as I contemplated whether I should go sit and watch and listen to Mr. Morris, or drive down to see Prair, eat some fast food and pet her nose.

Obviously I chose the latter, but I'm not sure I should be proud of it.

Though maybe all I need to know from George, I've already learned from the internet.... no?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Weekend Fixes

The Boy and I are coveting our final kid-free weekends and trying to fill (or not fill) them with as much casual lounging and time spent doing our favorite things.  Things like lazy brunch followed by barn visits and reading on the deck... the sort of things I imagine might disappear for a bit when we're surgically attached to a crying, hungry, sleepy bambino.

Saturday, I scooted out to see Mr Gus and get him started on his Power Pack.  God he's cute.  Just the cutest.  And really he isn't even that rude about his paste.  My mares always give me a huge stink eye when they see a large syringe, then refuse to accept treats afterward as though I have severely violated their trust and they will never (ever) accept another food offering from me again after that horrid, horrid, paste.

Gus however, does not hold grudges.  He scrunched up his nose with his wormer but then immediately sought out more treats.  I suppose his theory is that most things I give him are delicious, so the paste must have been a fluke and certainly the next food offering will be delicious.


Anyway, walked him around, gave him some grass, and turned him out to enjoy the sunshine on his own before zooming down to see Prair.
Not looks as ribby as he does in my mind... thankfully
 Main trainer was down in CA judging all week (I hope she was nice to L and Ramone!) so Prair and HLL have been lessoning with the assistant (love her).  The OCD part of my brain gets anxious about mixing up the training regimen right before two weeks of showing, but in point of fact, it seemed to be a good thing for both Prair and HLL, because they both looked awesome.  Relaxed, happy, adjustable... all good things.  Prair was really holding her shape nicely in their flatwork, and they both looked mush more confident over a couple courses.  All in all, exactly what you'd hope for before packing up to show. :)

Also, I really can't emphasize how well groomed Prair is.  HLL buffs that mare to a SHINE.  It's insane.  She's soft and glossy and all trimmed up, which is more than I can say for my own efforts when I'm the one in charge of the elbow grease...
Sleepy, Shiny, Happy.
Prair ships today, and I'll join her Wednesday (fully relegated to Treat-Feeder status) for a few days of spectating and socializing.

Looking forward to completing a comparison of where we are relative to our outing at this show last year..

Friday, June 6, 2014

When a Tack Ho Wanders Too Far...

I sort of assumed that all of my extensive Tack Ho experience would serve me well as I waddled blind into the world of baby stuff and kid gear.  

However I'm realizing that even though I have the will to extend my Tack Ho-ing to new territory, my profound experience hunting for, researching and compulsively buying bits of leather and gorgeous boots has not, in fact, prepared me for the totally terrifying and overly marketed world of baby stuff.

I find myself feeling more like a Minister-Without-Portfolio, than a seasoned hoarder as I attempt to (quickly) educate myself on the pitfalls and virtues of what seems like endless plastic crap and a few cool Euro brands made of sustainable wood and recycled bicycles.

With horses, I have a good sense of what is trend and what is tradition.  I indulge in both (obvi), but I usually do so knowing when I'm splurging on something lasting (leather) and when I'm chucking cash at the latest must have item (pads, boots, breeches...).  With all this baby crap I have no idea what falls into the heirloom column and what will be squished into the recycle bin as soon as Baby grows another 1/2" or gains one more pound.

I find this sort of ignorance and inexperience mind-numbingly painful.  If anything I would argue that the marketing machine behind kid stuff is even more diabolical than that of the horse world.  It's not so hard to convince me that _____ item will keep my horse happier, healthier, or just cuter - and if you do convince me, well, I can guarantee that my visa has already been put on the counter.

With kiddos the fear mongering is even less subtle.  In fact most things seem centered around commanding tenant to "DO THIS OR YOUR BABY WILL DIE."  

Uhhhh crap.  okay?

So my current conundrum is that with horses I have a decent bullshit meter.  When someone says "DO THIS OR YOUR HORSE WILL DIE" I can usually pause, think "hmm... horse hasn't died yet" and then say "no." or "mehhhhh it's a cute pad/boots/bridle/bit/supplement, and it comes in my color/size/ITS PINK! so okay!"

With babies I have no frigging clue so I tend to google (terrible, don't reccomend) and then when 1,348,000 hits come up screaming about dead babies I immediately order 5 of everything.

Another problem with all this baby gear is that everything looks like some sort of Transformer to me.

I can take a double bridle and have it pulled apart, cleaned, checked for wear, conditioned and reassembled (probably with new bits, just for funsies) in no time.

But I cannot, (cannot) get the god damn stroller to cooperate, or figure out which tab goes where. 
The what goes where?
It looks like an alien spaceship to me. Seriously.

I wish babies came in saddles, or at least had a section in the Dover Catalog next to the pony stuff.  Then I'd be set.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

P1 Update

I know I (sorta) swore that I would respect P's new mom and their new lives and privacy together, but I'm just too thrilled with how things are going to stay totally silent.

P's New Mom is really friendly and totally gracious and sending me random pictures of them on trail rides, or horse nose selfies, or pictures of P rolling happily in a big, green pasture.. all of which I proudly show off to The Boy (or whoever else is within picture-sharing reach) while I ooooohhh and ahhhhh over how pleased I am to see her being a happy horse.

But when I got the latest pic of P and her New Mom, I decided I just can't-not share it with you guys.


They Jump!

They jump happily! with soft ears and on uneven ground and... happily!

It sounds like they have a good thing going and are enjoying their lessons (both on the flat and over fences) with no sign of the anger or unwillingness that P had years ago.

I firmly believe that all the time at Summer Camp served P well, and that the set up at her new home (outside, lives with other horses...) is keeping P happy and healthy and setting her up as a good partner.

I'm so thrilled to see them clicking.  For all the angst I had about losing control over this mare, it seems to be for naught - as it looks like they are already a happy, relaxed pair who are getting to explore new things together.


For all of you who have watched P go through her (many) metamorphoses - How cool is it to see her here now!?

Love that mare!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

VC Blog Hop: Is there an App for that?

I love this idea for a blog hop! I feel like literally all my apps come from a friend saying "have you seen this app??"

I literally never find anything myself, so this is perfect!

My favorite horsey app hasn't gotten a lot of use recently is my USEF EquiTests 3.  There are a few different versions of the app, mine has USEF tests from Training Level through Fourth with some of the "Rider Tests" included as well.  I believe the other versions that are available include FEI tests, Eventing Tests and maybe something else.  I'm sure Western Dressage is somewhere ;)

The Apps aren't free, and they range in cost from $1.99-$10.99 presumably based on the number of tests included, but as someone who almost never shells out money for apps - this one has been well worth it.

It's thoughtfully designed and I've found it to be an effective tool for learning and practicing my tests as well as keeping up with rule changes.

When you open the App you are greeted with a simple list of each test as well as the option to select a "sketch" mode (on a full court diagram), check rule changes, or read USEF news.  What more could you want when stuck in a boring meeting at work!??

Clean, easy interface (even with gloves on!)

Let's just say Prairie is awesome and I'm not preggo, so I want to look at First Level 3 before a huge show this weekend.

When I click the test, I'm given the option of reading the test instructions in a simple format, looking through diagrams of each movement, recording a reading of the test, playing back a reading or looking at the official USEF Test Document.

Personally, the test diagrams are where this app earns it's keep.  Instead of just a written description of the movement, it also gives you a (color coded by gait!) diagram of what the movement looks like on the court, as well as a faded line indicating both the previous movement and the next movement to come.

For those who are spatially challenged and can't figure out if X-H indicates a short diagonal, or not, it's a good visual cue that helps avoid unintentional mistakes.  (Which I sometimes need).

Oh *that's* what X-H looks like....
I recorded a test reading once - basically you ride the test and record someone calling it, then the app saves the audio and links it to that test so at any time you can press play and have a "reader" - even if you're on your own.  It's actually fairly well designed, only prompting the reader with one movement at a time during the recording.. something I wondered about when I was initially attempting to use that feature.  And since you make the recording yourself, presumably it will be timed to your horse, and not a general reading that may have Sally the Short Pony racing to keep up, or Louis Long Stride ahead of the reading...

Personally, I tend to stare at the diagrams and then try to ride from memory, but I know some folks prefer the audio support.

Also, I've noticed that I pretty much always have my phone wedged in my pocket at shows, but I never seem to have a test booklet - which makes this app fairly handy for last minute reviews/panicked cramming or just reassurance.

Definitely an upgrade from the Jumping equivalent of just snapping a photo of your course map.

So my two cents are this app is well worth it, even if you're only going to one schooling show, or just want an easier way to keep up with current tests for schooling at home.  I'd gladly sacrifice a latte (or two) for this nifty little app.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Schooling Sesh - Video Update

Tromped down to see the big mare on Friday last week in order to watch her work over fences a bit and get my horse fix.
Amazing that somehow bending down to tie my shoes seems like a physical impossibility at this point - but somehow picking hooves is no problem at all :) Shocking how that works!

Immediate observations - She looks rad.  I love her summer coat, it's so short and velvety.  Especially with HLL and main groom man keeping her polished to a high shine.  Plus, since it's been a few weeks since braids were in, her mane is all spiky and mohawky.  It's cute.

The weird faux-diarrhea is not better.  So, we're back to the drawing board on that.  Not sure what our next step is, but I'm working on one.

My obsession with tack has not diminished with less time riding/contact with it.  I fawned over my saddle a bit (man it's sexy) and ran my hands over the bridle to see how it's breaking in/holding up.  There is just no substitute for really gorgeous leather.  Or rather there is a substitute - and it's called money (damn).

In terms of the work under saddle - things look good.  It sounds like Prair has been getting more consistent with her good moments, and her sticky moments are more consistent too.. which is it's own weird sort of progress.  She's alternating between the Myler Combo bit and the regular Myler Pelham, with HLL mostly riding in the pelham, and N taking the combo.

Nothing very dramatic to report, but it was really nice seeing Prair's turn on the forehand and haunch be executed with so much relaxation.  She's really stopped running through them or bracing against the bit.  N has her nice and loose and supple, and I think that confidence and mobility will continue to help us over fences.

Here's a short clip of our trot... very similar to the last video I posted:

Then they moved on to some small fences.  Still asking the mare to stay fairly compact in her frame over fences.  N feels like she's finally starting to breakover a bit more (even over smaller jumps) which is great news.  I like anything that indicates her back in comfy and she's willing to use it rather than hold everything stiff like a board.

She was starting to throw her head a bit, which I think is a reaction to the bit, and maybe some pinching at the corners of her mouth... hard to tell but N said that given the timing, it felt very independent of her "work" and more like "OW!" response.


After she was done I pulled tack and gave the mare a nice curry and plenty of treats.  She is such a lovebug these days it's easy to just enjoy a few quiet minutes with her.  I also gave the tack some love and cleaned everything to a shine.  Very pleased with how the new saddle is looking (both on the mare and on the rack) as well as the bridle.  CWD may have redeemed themselves after all!

My plan is to watch the mare once (or maybe twice!) more next week before the horses ship on Monday the 9th.  The upcoming show is where we had our first experience at an "A" show last year which resulted in two championships for me with the mare (Pre-Adult Hunter and Eq) and a rather tense/frustrating experience for S in the Pre Greens at the start of the week.  I'm eager to see how she does with a full year under her belt back at the same facility where we (mercifully) get to show outside.

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