Monday, October 31, 2016

Points (oh god, points...)

I am a self confessed satin-hoarder.  I meticulously keep and display EVERY ribbon that is earned by one of my beasts.  I think it stems from a satin deprived youth as an eventer where at best I brouh home 4 ribbons a summer. 

So even though my garage is literally wallpapered in ribbons (thanks Hunters!), I imagine my continuing obsession is akin to someone growing up hungry and then never being able to leave a bread basket behind at a restaurant.

Maybe that's a tad dramatic - but the anxiety in my chest that starts if I think someone accidently took my ribbon or god forbid threw it out... is real. 

Really, really, real.

Anyway, for all the neurosis surrounding my ribbons - I've never been that keyed in on points. 

Mostly I think that's because I've always let the horse dictate the division, or level - and if we were ready to move up, we moved up and I didn't worry much about sprinkling points around in different divisions during the same season.

In fact, when I think about it - aside from 2016 every single show season I've ever had has either been split across multiple divisions (or levels) or ended early by an injury. 

2016 is literally the only time that, aside from the first show of the season, I've hung out in the same division all. year. long.  And really racked up some points in the process.

So it turns out, I am obsessed with points. I just never had enough of them to care before.

(Prairie's Stirrup Cup Win from 2013)

Windsor has had quite the season - and that makes it, well... a bit more fun to point chase. 

At some point, maybe back in August or so, it occurred to me that not only was I leading my meager Low AA Hunter and Eq divisions, but Windsy was leading the Pre-Greens for our local organization.

That prompted me to look at USEF and my eyeballs nearly popped when I saw that those same points had him leading the Zone HOTY and sitting second in the Derby standings for our Zone (top 50 nationally). 

The problem with becoming aware of this information is that it has wormed its way into my subconscious and meant that now I'll be sitting on the couch, streaming something totally un-related with The Boy and suddenly I'll be like, "I wonder if Windsy is still winning his divisions."

The answer is no.  He's not. 

The last few months (and remarkably inconsistent outing at Zone Finals where there were bonus points to be had) have meant that the leaderboard is flipping and flopping around with almost every show.

Winning year end awards has (to this point) never been a priority for me.  I've never used it to define my competition goals, or even used it to set my competition calendar.  But, I can say that now that they are in reach - I'm keenly aware of how well we need to do in California to put us back on top again. 

I do take pride in the fact that Windsy has scored more points at fewer shows than many of the other horses we are against.  I feel like there should be some horsey-batting-average stat that takes the frequency of competition out of the picture. (though I have no idea how that would work).

I'm also impressed with his mark on the Derby leaderboard, since nationally - the horses surrounding our rank have done upwards of 10 or 12 derbies, and Windsy only got to four USHJA classes this year. (that being said, the horse sitting in second nationally only went to four as well... which is IMPRESSIVE).

Points are a hard thing for me to get too wrapped up in.  Mostly because the best way to get a lot of points is to just show a ton.  Even if you aren't always winning - just pulling down mid range ribbons all summer long will start to stack up. 

If you don't want to live in your car at horse shows all summer, Tri-colors give you a decent point boost - so consistent Champion or Reserve wins, can make up for a lighter presence on the circuit.

However, if you aren't always on top - those extra weeks back, to back, to back (ugh) are pretty much your best bet.

So we will see.  If by some miracle Windsy stays on (or close to) the top of his USEF rankings - it'd be pretty cool to have a USEF ribbon from a rated division.  That would get a special spot on the wall for sure.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Basics - and showtime...

Winds has been enjoying his fall at home - mostly focusing on basics and figuring out how to become even more of a unicorn so that when I actually do have time to show up and ride, I feel like a masterful jock - instead of a lumpy sack of slightly spoiled apples. 

Mostly this has been a focus on staying forward and getting lighter to the aids, whether that is reminding him that"go" means "go NOW" or getting his tushy laterally mobile with the lightest of nudges.

I think he's stronger than he was in the spring, so having a few weeks at home with nothing but time to slow down and school has been helpful - and also extremely productive.  He feels fresh, and sharp (in a good way) and super eager.

My rides have been sparse - but great.  I'm clearly out of riding shape which is horrifying to me, but easily remedied by clearing my schedule and taking my stirrups away. 

However, even with a less than sticky seat or solid core - I'm enjoying our rides.  Winds is alert, on task and so responsive it feels like I'm driving a really fancy sports car- with an automatic transmission.

Which is to say, it's really, really fun and doesn't require a ton of muscle.

That's not to say I couldn't use some... eek.
Winds doesn't quite get to pack it in for the winter though.  We added one final trip to the calendar, which means next week we head to Paso Robles for two weeks of sunshine (I hope) and exploring a new showpark. 

The schedule is weird, so we only end up showing on wed, thurs and fri - which makes for long days but 4 days off in between weeks - so hopefully his highness finds that satisfactory.

The goal is to get one more solid outing at 3'3" without any weird crash-like incidents as well as getting me in the ring one more time to play with my new-found forward buttons.  There is a Derby to add if all is going well - but mostly I'm looking forward to getting a few rounds in, packing a VRBO full of barn ladies, and putting a nice little capstone on our season.

Friday, October 14, 2016

FBF: Windsor's trip to Worlds...

As we approach my first anniversary with Windsor, it seems only fitting to look back on what he was doing this time last year

(hint, it wasn't the 2'9" Low Adults... lol).

Instead, he was just getting home from his first (and only) trip to the Wold Championships to compete as one of the top 7 year olds in the world. 

While Winds did qualify on his own merits, by the time entries were sent, it had been decided that he probably didn't have the speed to be a top show jumper, but perhaps his style and scope would transition well to the US Hunter market...

So for this show he was under Andreas Kreutzer  - who aside from being rather charming and a lovely rider - had recently gone out of his own and was busy making a name for himself on the LGCT.  Since it was becoming clear Winds wasn't going to be a top 1.50m horse, this was his first time out deliberately asking him to go more as a hunter....

So here's a video of a 1.40m round at the championships. 

Winds looks like Winds.  Possibly a bit darker and a bit quicker than we are used to seeing him these days, but unmistakably him.

A month later, we showed up, fell in love and flipped his little gray world upside down.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Horse hack!

Many thanks to Horse Hack for hosting a fun blog contest and sharing so many new (to me) sites to follow!

(I can't figure out out to insert a hyperlink from my phone right now- blogger fail)

I'm the first to admit my posting has been a tad sporadic of late- but head over (if you haven't already), to pick up some new bloggers, or even vote for us!

I am always amazed at how much I've grown to enjoy the equine bloggy community.

You all have provided so much support, feedback and acted as a sanity-checking-soundboard for almost six years now. My adult horse experience would be a very different one without you guys as both readers and fabulous blogs to follow in turn.

I'm currently sitting in Heathrow's terminal 5 but I'll be home soon, and the Windsor adventures will continue!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
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