Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Goal

Originally when I made my riding plans for this year the goal was a big dressage show that is going down in the middle of June.  But as it grew closer and closer the situation became more and more obvious.  We weren't ready.  We weren't ready in the "my pony can't canter" a circle way.  

Oh Slugworth (his new nickname), can canter, when I am really aggressive with him and in no way does the shapes we can make resemble a dressage-y circle.   So I had to come up with a new goal.

I still want to take Fox down to the War Horse Eventing series at the Carolina Horse Park, but that is way, way out in like October or November.   I needed something closer to pour my energy towards.

I'm listening to this audio book that talks about the Universal Intelligence, God, the Powers Above whatever you choose to call it.  The book says if you pour your goals and aspirations out in to the world in a verbal and or written way that the Universal Intelligence will answer you.  

So just as I was thinking about needing a goal to work towards, something fun but challenging that I could do with my horse that wasn't out the realm of possibility or hugely expensive.  And, the Universal Intelligence didn't answer, or maybe it worked through Facebook to bring me what I needed but either way I have a new goal.

Last year I volunteered at the long format Three Day Event at So8ths called The Heart of the Carolinas. It was absolutely the best time I've ever had volunteering, great people, fabulous venue, awesome food.  I really wanted to volunteer again this year but Dear Daughter wasn't sleeping through the night yet and unfortunately Superhubs is the worlds heavist sleeper so I had to stay home.  One of the friends I met last year, also went to volunteer this year.  And while she was there she and a few others decided to put a clinic together to be held at So8ths.  With a trainer that my friend has been raving about that I had been thinking about taking some lessons from when Fox was a bit further along in his training.

On top of a fabulous venue, and an awesome trainer the price of the clinic won't break the bank!  There is only one little hurdle.  Fox isn't cantering fences yet and I need to be at or very close to jumping BN height with him to not be a total embarrassment at this clinic.  Thankfully the clinic is in mid-August.  So I have around 2, 2 1/2 months to get him there.  If ever there was incentive this is it.

So Slugworth is the least motivated OTTB on the planet.  He just really has no desire to canter.  So I got some exercises to strengthen his hind end and on the advice of several people I'm going to attempt to take the slug out hacking by himself to see if this might get him moving a bit more energetically.   I've hacked him down the road to the next farm on his own and he's been great.  So hopefully he won't turn in to a raging donkey-beast on the farm roads which are safer for hacking on. I want happily motivated not seething dragon.  So we shall see this weekend.  In order to ride I've to get up early and be done before Superhubs has to leave for work.  Motivation, motivation, motivation.

Keep it between the flags everyone!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Worth It

Early this past Saturday morning I went about the usual things I have to do before getting on the road with horse in tow. I fed, let the ducks out, packed the trailer will all my mountains of stuff.  Seriously, why do have so much stuff? *cough, tack shops, cough* Tack shops are so evil!

Superhubs backed the truck up for me, I'm still trying to learn this one, but I did do the rest of the hooking up all by myself!  Then Superhubs went back in to the house to wrangle the baby.  I had my own toddler to wrangle as Fox decided, even though he'd been leaping in to the trailer for the last three weeks, that today he didn't particularly want to get in.  *Sigh*  Twenty minutes later he was happily loaded and eating hay.

We finally got on the road about a half hour after I wanted to be but we were going! I'd had to reschedule this lesson twice already, for good reasons, but still I had been looking forward to a lesson with my new dressage coach since early February!

Traffic was ugly in places, thankfully Superhubs was driving.  I tend to yell obscenities at the other drivers when I drive.  Superhubs on the other hand is usually more passive aggressive.  He just flips on the truly blinding light bar on the front of the truck.

After what felt like forever we were finally able to pull in to Sprieser Sporthorses! Absolutely gorgeous place! Superhubs trekked off to show Fox's coggins and with the baby napping in the truck I unloaded the red pony and tacked up in a hurry since we were already a few minutes late.  Evil freaking traffic!  Thankfully he was clean and I just need to pick his feet and brush him down a little.  Boots on, tack on, rider's gear on away we went to walk through the big barn to the gloriously HUGE indoor.  Seriously I felt like I was walking in to indoor arena heaven.  It's the biggest one I've ever seen at a private farm.

Then we proceeded to have our butts kicked by my new coach.  But I wanted that, we NEEDED that in a big way.  She was upbeat, positive, told me lots of good things but also hammered home the fact that I had been letting Fox be a lazy slug, therefore he had decided that was a good place to be.  I don't think Fox has ever trotted so fast in his life!  Our rides from now on will be a lot different that is for sure.  More forward, more forward, FORWARD!

My current goal is to be able to do the Training Level 1 and 2 tests by June and go to the big dressage show with my new coach and team at Virginia Summer Dressage which is going down in mid-June.

If we can get there, with a publically acceptable canter transition, then in the fall I'm going to try and tackle a low level horse trial at the Carolina Horse Park.  We shall see.

Keep it between the flags everyone!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Opportunities and Possibilities

Earlier in the year when I was looking ahead with hope and optimism I tried to decide what I wanted to do with the red rogue pony this year.  January 2016 (pre-pregnancy) I was putting down on paper how I was going to finally get to a Beginner Novice horse trial.  Well then the big monkey wrench got thrown and my whole season was gone.

It didn't stop me from buying a massive amount of horse gear or dreaming of the future. My pony got almost an entire year off, not that he complained, lazy beast that he is. But it put me back at square one again this winter.  How was I going to get from not even a publically acceptable canter to going Beginner Novice?  How was I going to get from my small dream of being able to ask for the canter and getting it, to the bigger dreams of BN, to the biggest dream (right now anyway) of completing a long format three day?

Well, when you don't know the way (women anyway) stop and ask for directions.  In rider land that means getting help from instructors, trainers, coaches.  Looking back on my riding education I realized I didn't have the best upbringing, riding-wise.  I had a lot of desire to ride.  I had a lot of teachers but no one that really stands out, except that one awful one that verbally abused me.

My best memories, the ones where I felt I learned the most were from a couple of people.  My old coach Chris, who I sorely wish had stayed out here on the east coast and Dom Schramm.  I had two clinics with Dom and I dearly wish that either of his two home bases were a manageable distance. They aren't though anyplace in Pennsylvania and Florida is not even drive it for a weekend manageable.  But thinking about how much I got out of those two clinics really got me thinking about the quality of education I want.

So, this Saturday I am sucking up the 3 1/2 hours, one way, drive to central Virginia to ride with a new coach. She is one of three trainers at Spreiser Sport Horses (you can read about Lauren on COTH where her blog lives) For the rest of this year, until maybe October or November, Fox and I will be getting our dressage on.  I have plans, if we can get the canter issue sorted, to take Fox to a multi-day dressage show in June. It will be one of two planned outings.  I'll try to go to some dressage schooling shows around home, when all the stars align(meaning, weather, husband to watch the baby and time to train the red pony).

The second outing is still in the maybe stages but I want to take Fox down to the War Horse horse trials in North Carolina and do one of the lower levels. I want an easy, stress free, confidence building outing.  Then we'll work on our xc and show jumping, plus the dressage because I actually love it. So that maybe, just maybe next year we can go out at Beginner Novice.

That's plan anyway and the dream.

Keep it between the flags!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

And We're Back!

No I did not fall off the edge of the planet, although some days if I could get a whole night's sleep I would volunteer.  Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. I'm going to try, I stress try, not to talk too much about the baby over here.  I'll leave that for my Eventer + Baby Makes Three blog.

So here is the low down on what's been happening around the farm since I went off radar last July.
Fox got a really long vacation. I was able to lunge him some but he's not easy to lunge so it was hit or miss.  Just before Thanksgiving I decided I was ready to get back in to the saddle. I had just had my check-up from the doctors and I was green lighted. 

Fox had other ideas.  I wanted to lunge the spunk out of him first, no need to eat dirt on my first time back in the saddle. I put on his boots, I prepared him for lunging and he was a raging donkey.  He evaded me, twice taking off with the lunge line in tow.  The second time bucking and flailing like a rodeo bronc.  And he killed both his hoof boots.  Granted they had dry rot from sitting for a long time but still, both of them?!

So he got another vacation while I sent the boots to the Farrier Fairy to repair them. I got them back sometime after Christmas and finally just got on him one day.  He behaved himself, mostly.  It never fails, every time I get on my horse, the neighbor on the other side of the fence starts doing something loud and obnoxious.  This person has an obsession with yard work and is constantly running some loud piece of equipment.  It took me twenty minutes of walking to get Fox relaxed enough to behave at the trot. Overall it wasn't a bad ride.

But I've forgotten that ride was not my first back in the saddle on Fox.  Prior to that day I had loaded up my red bratty pony and driven down to the big indoor that's about an hour from me, but free to use during the week.  Love that place!  The only caveat is that you can't get the arena exclusively if there are other riders already there or they show up while you are riding you have to share.  No big deal.  I ended up sharing the arena with three other ladies that day who were just doing some playing around.  Fox was his usual good natured self and we even jumped a baby vertical AND cantered off! That day was fantastic.  I'm hoping for more days like that.

Also my brand new, no one's butt except mine has ever touched it, dressage saddle finally arrived! I had ordered it back in November not realizing that it was being shipped from Italy and would be weeks and weeks away from actually having it.  But it finally arrived right before my birthday.  And I was sick as a dog when it arrived.  This did not stop me from tacking up Fox and slipping in to the saddle for just five minutes of walking and about thirty seconds of trotting.  LOVE!

Until next time, keep it between the flags!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Changes and Motivations

Earlier this year when I found out I was pregnant (76 days to go!) nothing changed for me, at least not right away.  I kept on riding, despite the crappy weather, doing our first baby hunter show, to get back in to the swing of things.  Around mid-March Fox and I had what would be our last ride together for a long while. I took him to a local farm that has a lovely arena and I moseyed around while my friend A and her mare did more serious things. Fox had a small brainless moment in which his front feet left the ground, while his back feet spun to the left.  Nothing huge or scary but it was enough that I decided to stop riding after that day. We did keep riding that day and wandered out to the XC so A could school her mare and Fox could make friends with the three loose ponies. He's always so enthralled with the smaller equines. I think he feels like a giant next to them and it gives him a good feeling to not be the designated shorty.

Back to deciding to stop riding.  If he was going to be throwing in random airs above ground while we were off the farm (98% of the time he's an angel off the farm) then I knew I couldn't trust him to take care of me at home where he's usually an a$$hat.  There was no way I was getting back on the High Queen after not having swung a leg over her back in three years. She's enjoying her retirement and see's no reason for that to change thank you very much.

My DH's horse, the tallest and youngest horse on the property at a whopping 8 years old this year was also out.  Despite the security of the western saddle that fits only him, Cowboy has the attention span of a gnat and if I could work him 5 or 6 days a week, I'm sure he'd be safe for me to wander around on. But my schedule isn't that flexible and Cowboy and I share a history.  I still have the scars on my right hand from where he bit me one year in an attempt to snatch a peppermint from my hand. I may pull my big girl panties on and start teaching him dressage next year (FYI I've said this almost every year for the last three years) and actually compete him, but we'll see.

So what has been going on since I haven't been swinging up in to the tack?  Well I now have an impressive array of lunging equipment. I've fully restocked all my grooming supplies and bought lots of equestrian items that I either can't fit in to right now (a lovely lavender FITS shirt, size small, thank you Tack of the Day) and some new pieces of tack that again I can't use for at least another five months(I'm planning on trying to get back in to the saddle in late November or early December), ie the cob sized, Havana brown Micklem Competition bridle I just snagged for a deal on eBay.

Other than that there is just a lot of fantastical plans and staring at the background photo I have on one of my monitors at work (I have two, duh IT's need two!).  The photo is of the one and only time I cantered the High Queen up over a XC fence at a schooling.  It was a small wooden coop and we came at from downhill to uphill approach.  DH just happened to catch us mid-leap as I let out a Wahoo!   My mouth is wide open in awe and delight, the High Queen is just easily catching massive air over the fence, one ear flicked back to listen to my ecstatic glee. 

I kept hoping to meet up with my coach to get training rides done on Fox but it just never happened. DH took the truck apart one week to install his new birthday gift(a truly awesome touch screen stereo system with not one but TWO back-up cameras! One camera is specifically pointed a the ball hitch in the middle of the bed to make it sooo much easier to hitch up the trailer!) and he wasn't quite able to get it back together in time and of course even if he had it wouldn't have mattered because Fox came up a little off in front.  Too much running around with the mare I think.   The time before that the weather just wouldn't cooperate and before that my coach's schedule was just too packed and we couldn't find a good day.  So I've kind of given up getting Fox ridden and decided to just let him wallow in his vacation until late this fall.

The High Queen got her first ever three legged lame abscess. Sooo totally fun!  And it was on a rear hoof so it was extra fun trying to convince her to let me soak it.  But I now own a staggering amount of hoof packing, soaking solutions and some new ice wraps to help with the inevitable leg swelling.

Even as the day for baby's impending arrival draws nearer I still find myself more apt to be cruising tack catalog's than baby gear catalogs.  Although since finding out that I'm having a girl. YES! I've also been cruising pony breeder websites.  Not that I'll be getting a pony any time soon, in five or six years probably. But it's fun to look and distract myself from the upcoming sleep deprivation. Already the baby has been waking me up in the middle of the night with her random and sometimes startling movements.  I think the baby is practicing her pony clubber kicks.  At 3am mommy is not amused by this and wishes the baby would go back to sleep.

I've decided to keep this blog as mostly eventing as I get back to it late this fall.  But for a hilarious take on my eventing journey while juggling horse life, work life and baby life head over to Eventer +Baby Makes Three.

Until next time, keep it between the flags everyone!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Best Week You Can Have That Doesn't Involve Being in the Tack!

So8ths Jump Art

A few weeks ago I made the five hour trek to Chesterfield, South Carolina to immerse myself in the Heart of the Carolina's Long Format Three Day Event.  I had contacted the fabulous sponsor coordinators prior to and these extremely generous people paid for my lodging so that I could indeed stay for the entire event.  Next year (Oh YES! I am going back)  I'm going to haul my horse trailer down so that I can stay on the property.

Me sporting some So8ths Volunteer Swag

Thursday night I joined a host of other volunteers, and the coordinator plus many of the officials at a dinner on the property that was set-up so we could all get to know one another. I also got to talk to the sponsor coordinator to find out what jobs he needed me to do.  So with my marching orders and a full stomach I headed off to bed so I could get up early the next day and start the fun.

Friday dawned bright, semi-clear and fairly warm.  After catching breakfast with the other volunteers, again provided by the gracious coordinators and owners of So8ths, I caught a ride over to the dressage arena which was a short hack through the woods, or a slightly longer drive on the road.  This day I would be the official bit checker.  I know, very prestigious.  It's not a job most people like, something I found out later. I on the other hand loved it because it meant I got to touch all the horses! It also meant that while I wasn't bit checking I had a ring side view of every dressage test.  Win win!

So many lovely, braided, well turn-out horses of every shape, color and breed!

Dressage Warm-Up

Saturday was Endurance day! Woo hoo! Every eventer's favorite day, filled with long gallops over gorgeous country and flying over xc fences!  Again after hitting breakfast with the volunteers (the coordinators take such excellent care of their volunteers) I climbed on to the hay wagon and was treated to a leisurely ride to my spot on the XC course where I would be jump judging that day.

I would be judging for every division and both sections. Because if running a long format three day wasn't crazy enough So8ths also runs a horse trial simultaneously!  In the Training 3D section I had six fences I was judging.  Two were combinations and counted as one obstacle and the others were single fences.  I had a brush combination, a ditch and rail combination and a trakehner. I also judged a brush and ditch for the Novice section and for the BN section a brush and a coop.  The day was long but how can you go wrong with the scope of your job involving watching horses gallop up and fly over fences?  That is never a bad day. Now if I could only get paid for it! 

There were only a few mishaps on course.  A couple of T3D riders got lost on course but eventually found their way to the right path.  One rider's horse hit the trakehener with it's hind leg hard enough that the rider chose to retire and there was one significant rider fall. Her horse slammed on the breaks at the very last minute and the rider ended up in the ditch.  The horse, bless his heart, took off for home.  The rider was unharmed and quickly got up and was checked over by medical.  No injuries to either party.

Morning Jog

Saturday night is also the evening of the annual Kentucky Derby Party, which falls on the same weekend as HOTC.  We played racing games, watched the race and ate some excellent food from private catering.   I headed to bed early though others hung out and danced until very late.

Sunday dawned clear and warm for stadium day. I watched the morning jogs, I know most people would find watching a horse trot by very boring but I loved every minute of it. Later I went off to my job for the day. This day I was wrangling warm-up. Basically checking in the riders and making sure everyone was where they were supposed to be at the time they were supposed to be there.  Again I had a front row view of very tricky stadium course.   I cheered on each rider and spent the day leisurely watching the completion of the best sport in the world.

This APHA pony won his division in the long format!

I had absolutely the best time, met so many great people, including the owners of the most beautiful privately owned event venue I've ever seen, ate tons of great food, made new friends and got to watch my favorite thing, horses loving their job and doing it well! 

Keep it between the flags everyone!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

If You Can't Ride, Give Back

Since my pregnant status isn't going to change until October and my ponies aren't trustworthy enough to haul my ever expanding butt around I've decided to do some volunteering.   My goal is to someday do the BN Long Format Three Day Event at So8ths.  Ever since I found out about it and watched the videos I've been entranced with actually doing it.

So what's the next best thing to competing at the So8ths Long Format?  Volunteering!  You get to see it all and learn all the tips and tricks without a whole lot of pressure.  So next Tuesday I'll be making the long trek from my farm in southeastern VA to Chesterfield, SC!

If you don't know what this is or what its all about, go to the website and check it out!

Because I will definitely be between the flags!