Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Thunderbird - The Lowdown

Still reeling from a bit of a horse-show-hangover and for sure still drying out from what ended up being nearly 6" of rain...

The show last week was a monumental success and ridiculously fun.  My only regret is that we aren't up there for the second week of showing in 80 degree weather...

But - we are from Seattle after all and a bit of rain (while not ideal) won't keep us from the show ring.

The start of the week for Pro Days wasn't so miserable, and in fact there was even enough sunshine to justify a few end of day Gin & Tonics ringside.  So I don't want to paint a horrible picture, but honestly - Friday and Saturday we're a bit apocalyptic. 

I'll make this a quick summary of the show, then break down pro days and my Equitation and Hunter Divisions in a few other posts.  I actually managed to grab videos of about half the rounds and got some great photos from a friend who came up to cheer everyone on in the rain. 

Windsor continues to be a rock star.  This being his first show against most of our "local" competition - it was fun to see other trainers inquire about him and praise his cute face and lovely jump.  When you're still a bit nervous about transitioning to a new discipline, it's nice to see some BNTs and well known judges go out of their way to ask questions.

The schedule for this show was a bit odd, and basically had big, open Low Hunter rounds scheduled for Tuesday, with Pro divisions running Wednesday and Thursday and Ammy's taking over for the weekend.

In Hindsight this worked great for us. Winds always jumps his best his first time in the ring each day, so to skip the warm up rounds before his divisions paid off.

3'3" Pre-Greens
There were some green moments on Tuesday, so he added a third class, and snagged a 2nd in a beautiful field of 30 horses.

Pre-Green days were great - taking home a 1st, 2nd and 3rd over fences, with a 5th U/S (with me piloting).  It was a *very* competitive division even though there were only 11, and we managed a Reserve Champion. (go team)

Friday was my 2'9"  Eq division, and while I was lamenting the fact that I hadn't been able to ride an over fences round yet, we did ok getting 3rd in both of our rounds, and a 2nd on the flat out of 15. There were some mistakes, but lots of good moments and thankfully - no scary ones. So I felt appreciative about claiming another Reserve Championship

Hunters was the last item on the docket and subject to the WORST WEATHER.  The classes fluctuated between 15 and 18 but we managed a 1st, 6th and 5th over fences, and a surprising 2nd Under Saddle.  We carried our last round 5th place (score of 75) into the Classic and managed to claim 2nd (and some $$$) when we cleaned up our act with an 84 in the second round.

Once again - Reserve in the division.  So if we get any extra points for consistency - we are AWESOME.

I'll break down our rounds and where we are starting to get consistently good and where we are making consistent mistakes later on.

The short summary is that Tbird was really, really fun.  The facility was lovely, the ribbons are lovelier, and Windsor is the loveliest of them all.

Happy girl over here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Where We Are

There's not a lot of stress with Windsy right now.  For one thing, all this unseasonable sunshine is drying out pastures and making the grass grow like crazy - so Mr. Gray Man is getting lots of big green field time. 

He's making the most of it - as indicated by needing to go up two girth sizes in one week.  It's nice to see him putting a little extra weight on.. but very confusing when I'm trying to guess what girth to grab for the day...

Under saddle we are continuing to work on our forward step and me not pulling him off of that.  That means I don't get to turn with my outside rein (but, I LOVE trapping the shoulder) or wait in the corner until I see a distance (I also love waiting in corners)

Lots of lengthening and collecting at the trot and canter, and holy moly are we getting adjustable.  All the sudden Winds has the strength to stay lifted and uphill in his adjustments and he almost feels like a fancy dressage horse. 

Two months ago our "lengthenings" felt like a 10% change.  Now they feel like a 40% change. 

It's awesome.  It's in his back and up his wither and just lovely to feel.

It's also a really good way for me to get used to what he's supposed to feel like when we are maintaining a big, active step.

We are also working lots on our counter canter - which is rad now that Winds realizes it's a thing.  Before he definitely didn't know it was a thing and got mad that I was telling him to do something wrong. 

It's a thing.

And now we do it.

On the flat there is also a lot of spiraling in and out which is great for our balance and impulsion and me not getting stuck turning with that outside rein (dangit).

Over fences, Winds has decided that jumps under 3' are ok to jump.  He looks less like a moose falling over a log, and more like a cute, tolerant pony. 

My leg, however is a different issue
I am supporting this transformation by keeping his balance up-up-up.  I feel like his head is in my lap - but in actuality, it's a lovely place for him to stay.

The balance coming up means I have to stay forward instead of opening up and leaning back.  Me staying forward (even when I want to collect) is very hard for my brain.  But I've noticed I brace less and keep a softer, more adjustable horse if I stay just a touch more closed in my hip than I want to.

When all of this is happening, the jumps are so easy to find.  It doesn't matter how big or small they are, we just canter up and canter away.  The trick is not letting Winds' hind leg slow down, or letting my brain talk me out of a carrying a touch more pace.

We've got 10 days until heading up to Thunderbird for a week (or maybe) two of showing.  Current plan is the 3'3" Pre-Greens for Winds (I think) and the 2'9" for me.  I'm feeling really confident about where we are and continuing to lock in our partnership.

Monday, May 9, 2016

One More Review - Asmar Show Shirt

I realized I cut my previous review post off a tad too early.  Obviously once I bought the coat.... I needed a new shirt to go under it.

Well, I didn't.  But given the aforementioned safety pins "altering" my neck on (every) white shirt - I was open to the idea of a new shirt..

And I found one.

The Noel Asmar Lexington Show Shirt

In fact my Trainer tried it on first (also runs a tad large, I'd order down) and I loved the fit on her so much I shrugged and tried it on myself.

It's... LOVELY.  It has lots of cute details, like elbow patches and whatnot, but what really sold me was the fabric.  The sides are a (very) stretchy and (very) breathable soft, meshy fabric, while the front and back are a stiffer show shirt material.  When it's on it's very comfy and tight without being constricting, but it still offers a very tailored, almost starched look under a coat.  (which I love).

The collar has stout magnets that don't give the impression they'll be flapping open anytime soon, and it has approximately twice the normal number of buttons down the placket, so while it drives you nuts when you put it on, there is zero gaping, which is nice if you uhhhh... have boobs.

I got it with the heathered blue contrast, though the black/gray plaid is gorgeous on.  I'd love to see them release more color options using the same cut and fabrics.

At around $150 it's pricey, and probably not something I would normally purchase, but when you wander around horse show tack stores long enough $150 starts to sound downright reasonable. 

On the horse front, Winds has been a saint.  He's going around beautifully and I'm looking forward to our next show which is right around the corner in two weeks.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

OMG a Review: A Remarkably Affordable Hunt Coat

I think it's been a while since I've reviewed much on the site, but a (somewhat) impulse buy in California deserves mention.

My Current show "wardrobe" (if we want to call it that) is large, but not that useful.  There's a whole section from "pre-baby" (realistically it's pre-marriage, and therefore even less likely to ever fit again, lol), and then there's the awkward section of "pregnant and post baby clothes" that have been purchased at a variety of price points and with varying levels of desperation.

When we packed for Cali, I took two pairs of decently clean tan breeches - a TS from the pre-baby pile that are a tad tight, and a pair of Treadstep Symphonies (can't remember which version) that fit awesome but are looking a tad worn. 

I also grabbed two coats - one older Grand Prix that I bought on super sale in a really gorgeous gray with a tan thread in it... and my previously unworn GP Tech Lite that was custom ordered exactly when Prair broke.

I also grabbed a smattering of shirts.  Several of my FAVORITE FITS shirts, the Callidae and an extra white one who's label is no longer visible.

A lot of the shirts ended up too big in the neck (wtf?) even though they fit (mostly) everywhere else. My collars looked baggy and like they were gaping, which is not a cute look, especially in the Eq ring (even if it's baby Eq).

The Gray-ish coat got a big thumbs down from the trainer, for looking... "sloppy" even though it's not loose, I agreed with her. 

I will fully admit that nothing is where it used to be, and even though I'm roughly the same weight as I was pre-baby, it's like the fat got smeared around in all new places.  (totally annoying since I've spent the last 30+ years figuring out how to dress the old fat spots in a flattering manner...)

Anyway, you can imagine that I was a little annoyed that things weren't fitting great, and I was feeling anxious about essentially only having one coat and a lot of days to be sweating in it. 

So... all this is to say, that while wandering Tack-Trailer-Row I was (casually) looking for a new Navy coat (the likes of which I haven't had in 20 years).  The gray color I had clashed oddly with Windsy, and after shrugging on another client's navy coat I LOVED the way it looked on him, and Navy = a good basic anyway... so my eyes were peeled.

I was also feeling a bit Horse-Poor so I quickly passed the beauties that I lust over (but knew I'd hate myself for buying), and scoured the consignment shops and (ahem) more financially accessible establishments.

What I found, and ultimately returned to purcahse was the RJ Classics Xtreme coat in Navy.
Catalog photos are the worst... this is much brighter than the coat is in person.. it's a very dark navy

RJ's have not fit me well in the past, so I was reluctant to even try it on, but the lady insisted so I did.

And I loved it.

(I also loved that I was a "6 long" since I am not above vanity sizing in the slightest)

The coat has a great weight to it. Hangs nicely and has just enough stretch to make things looks tailored, without the jacket looking like it was painted on (a style I don't love). 

At $230 I also thought it was very competitively priced for the look. 

It's washable, it made me feel skinny and it was extremely comfortable to wear all day in both rain and heat, which we were able to delightfully test in the same day.

---- FYI, I bought this picture, it just hasn't arrived yet - and I'm not patient, so the blurry watermarked version is what you get... ---------

The cute horse isn't bad either

The Xtreme line has coats priced around $230, and then another "label" priced up in the $500 range.  I tried on the $500 (because there was a brown color that I sorta loved..) but I honestly preferred the fit and style of the $230 coat.  The more expensive line is for sure aimed at more of a Jumper fit... shorter coat, TIGHT EVERYWHERE and some less traditional finishes like zippered pockets.

I'm sure there is a difference in quality somewhere but when I was staring at them side by side, the fabrics looks comparable.

Anyway, for anyone looking for a low maintenance (I've washed mine twice), stretchy, new coat for the season - it might be worth trying one of these bad boys out... just know you should probably order a size down and feel like a rock star ;)

They also recently released a beautiful four button version aimed to be appropriate as a crossover coat between H/J and Dressage rings... I'm assuming for all you crazy eventers out there.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Happiness Writes White

"But if you wonder why I never wrote you that song - it's because happiness writes white..." Harvey Danger

I've been feeling Blogger guilt, especially as I drive to and from the barn, because since we returned from California, I've had few things of interest to report. 

There's been a lot of windshield time spent racking my brain as to how I could make "I love my horse and all my rides are awesome" into a more interesting post, but I just... can't.

Then, as I was listening to my (old) ipod on full shuffle and enjoying the random journey through my musical taste circa 2003-2010, an old Harvey Danger song came on that I pretty much always have to scream along with at the top of my lungs and roll the windows down to.

It's always been one of my favorite "wrote-this-song-for-a-girl" songs because it's... boring.  I love the idea that he never got around to writing her a love song because "happiness writes white" meaning it leaves relatively few interesting things to sing (or blog) about.  When I think about my friends who are artists, they have lots to say when things are crappy, but seem to lose their source for material once they land is a stable, happy relationship..

So, that's where I am.  I have a magical unicorn that I adore, and literally EVERY ride since we've gotten home has been awesome. 

I can tell we're building a better flatwork foundation as our lengthenings have magically busted wide open, Windsor is consistently keeping his withers lifted and all the sudden I'm keeping my own balance up and we are finding (almost) all of our jumps out of stride.  Our lateral work is staying more fluid and forward (at least it is to the left...) and all in all there are a lot of pats and "good boys" to be had the entire time.

So there's that. 

The only semi-interesting thing going on is that I am (slowly) getting my act together to do a ribbon quilt with all of Prair's loot.  In my mind I want some of her (more significant) coolers to make up some of the squares, and then I think I would have enough to fill in the others with 1st/2nd (maybe 3rd.. though she has a distinct lack of 3rd place ribbons..).  I'm on the fence as to whether I want to cannibalize the tri-colors... but for the moment I'm going to try and leave those in tact.

The first step of this process was to strip the magnificent ribbon walls of the garage, and start to organize. I got as far as the stripping, and laying them all in some nice big bags for sorting, but that's about it.
omg sad.  so naked.
I did put up Windsor's ribbons from The Oaks, so he is slowly starting to refill the walls on his own..

Prair's tri-colors and year ends to the right.. Winds' loot to the left.
It's a start.  I even went through all the coolers and tried to decide which ones I wouldn't mind cutting up... My heart cringes at the thought of it, but I feel like incorporating them into some sort of quilt would be awesome... 

Happy Monday ya'll.

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