Saturday, December 29, 2012

When Spring Brings Change

I got home from work at 7am yesterday, yes you read that correctly, got home from work, not leaving FOR work. I did a quick change of clothes, hanging my uniform up, and throwing on horse feeding garments instead. I pulled on the knee high mud mucking boots as it was pouring cold, nasty rain.  The day before I'd done the merry-blanket-go-round, switching Seneca's sheet for her mid-weight, and throwing her much better sheet on Cowboy, and removing his it-will-only-keep-the-wind-out sheet off.

I went to put feed in the buckets from the small feed shed that lives under the carport. I walk to the fence and watch Seneca limping more sharply than she had been. I watch her with sorrow, and guilt mixing heavily in my chest. I think about the spring, and the xc course we won't be trying to tackle, the dressage we won't be learning, the show jumps we won't be brave and cantering to. I have not yet had the vet out. I know what she'll say, I know what the xrays will show.  And I try not to think about it as I turn back to the feed shed and lace a little bute in to Seneca's feed.

Someday soon I'll have to admit to myself, outloud, to someone other than super hubs that Seneca is now an ornament and maybe a trail horse if I can get her to come sound again. It makes me sad in those deep places where dreams pool, grow, and over flow their banks in to my head to become thoughts of what could be. She's taken me places I didn't believe I'd go, the course at the Virginia Horse Park for starters. She's helped me make horsey friends, taught me so much. And while I will never sell her, never give her up, and maybe never ride her again, I will always love her.

But her maybe retirement comes at an almost opportune time. I will hopefully, Gods smile down with luck upon me, be getting away from the command I currently work for and go on to a new one. Here inlies the problem. If there are no openings for jobs in my current area I will have to leave. My horses will not be going with me. Instead super hubs will brave it alone, holding down the farm, loving all my myriad animals, while I go off wherever the Navy sends me. It could be Japan, and I will certainly not be riding there.  Here's crossing my fingers for a job here around home so I won't have to miss my husband, horses or farm. And who knows if I can stay in the area maybe there is another OTTB in my future, or Horse Gods smile on me, a packer to instill confidence enough to finally complete a BN horse trial.   Things to think about.

Keep it between the flags everyone.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Learning to Love the Impossible

The High Queen? Not so sound after all. Yesterday I was moving the horses from one pasture to another and they took it in to their heads it was a grand time to run about, flail their legs at the sky, and race around like freaks.  Which was beautiful to watch, and my mare looked completely sound. Until she stopped. Then she walked off with a sharper hitch than usual .  I am heaving a heavy sigh in my head right now.

I still need to get the vet out and haven't been able to. From experience I know the kind of vet visit that Seneca needs is around $500.  Which is something I can't afford to do right now. I feel guilty, like it makes me some sort of bad horse owner. But she doesn't look like she's in pain, and I still have more hay to buy, plus Cowboy could really use a new winter blanket and a dozen other things.  So the visit from Dr. Doom will have to wait.

So what do I do when the horse I love is unrideable and the horse I have to ride is rideable but not loveable? I'm not saying Cowboy isn't a nice horse. He is, and a far better mover than the Queen herself, but frankly Cowboy is not my cup of tea. He has a bit of an attitude problem on top of an extreme lack of patience. As in when he gets bored he rears up, when he gets frustrated he rears up.  Not exactly fun.

But I am pretty much out of choices. I don't have the money or the pasture right now for a third horse, and the only lesson barns in my area are *shudder* hunter barns.  So I'm stuck. Either learn to live with riding the Spotted Beast, or I don't get to ride.

My husband asked me the other day what I wanted for Christmas this year. Top of the list a vet visit for the High Queen.

Keep it between the flags everyone.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Into Our Lives a Little Rain Must Fall

I sit at my kitchen table glaring out the window to my left.  Why am I glaring out the window. Well it's not the rain from hurricane Sandy as the title of the post suggests. Although we are getting quite a lot of that.  No, it something far more cruel to my heart right now. The sight of my mare running and bucking in the pasture. She's running free and quite obviously not lame. Damn her. Don't take this to mean that i want her to be lame. I don't. But why oh why has she been playing this torturous game with me for the last three weeks.

I could have been riding this whole time. I could have been gearing up for the last horse trial of the season which is unfortunately next weekend and I have no chance of going. If it were a pony club outing somewhere really close I could go as unprepared as we are but it's Calais and I'm not even entered.

So what does this mean for Eventing at Midnight? Well not alot other than the season as far as competiting is over for us. I desperately want to take a riding lesson with Kim Severson who is taking over Chris's lesson duties. But that is a very expensive trip. Because there isn't just the lesson fee, there's the gas to get there.  It's a four hour drive round trip that is at least one tank of gas. So add the lesson fee 75$ plus the 100$ for gas.  And add on a bit for food/drinks. That's a 200$ trip.  Not something I can do right now.  Maybe in the spring.

But there are lots of dressage instructors around here and my friend Kate who's a Training/Prelim rider gives lessons as her second job. So that is most likely what we're doing this fall/winter.

Unless the mare-beast pulls another bait and switch. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

I am NOT Crazy.

Today through a strange twist of scheduling I had the day off when the farrier was due out to trim the feet of the High Queen and the Spotted Beast.  I love my farrier, she is the best.  I love my horse, most of the time she's the best. But today it felt like they both conspired to make me feel crazy.

Seneca has been off in the back for a few weeks now. I've been giving her a bit of bute everyday to make sure she's comfortable and trying to figure out how to get the money together for a expensive vet visit. I can definitely see a hitch in her step at the walk, and lunging her I can see it at the trot, I mean at the trot is extremely obvious.

Today when Kim came out we did Cowboy first saving the Queen in all her glory for last.  Kim had me walk up and back towards her, then trot up and back.  Then we trotted an L shape so Kim could see her from all sides.  As I was huffing and puffing and prodding the Queen to trot out I didn't get to see her moving. But Kim and super hubs both agreed she looked sound.

My heart lifted and I started thinking about what I could do with her this winter and next spring.  Later as I was moving the horses between pastures I lunged the High Queen on an extra long lead line.  Damned if she didn't look completely off on the right hind.

I am not crazy, I am not crazy. I AM NOT!  Damn it. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Darkness in a Dream

If you ask my husband he will tell you this same truth, I am the world champion of pessimism. So even though I haven't had the vet out to look at the mare-beast's back end I'm already plotting how to deal with the eventuality of her Seneca not coming sound enough to jump ever again. There might still be hope but it's really hard to see right now.

So what exactly is the plan if the High Queen must gracefully bow to the side of the stage as hopefully at least a life of being my trail horse? When I had some down time at work I wrote down exactly what I would want if I could have a 3rd horse. Because while I'm okay riding the Spotted Beast, he isn't mine, and every time I want to do something with him I'll have to ask my husband if he's okay with it. My husband is super supportive but Cowboy is his horse, I never wanted him, and given the choice at the time would never have bought him.  What is my next dream horse?

4-7yrs old
15.3-16.1 hds
Good movement

And because I can't help myself I was cruising through the listings at CANTER Mid-Atlantic and found this.

Too bad I don't have the room or finances to go get her. Otherwise I would definitely be making a trip to check her out. But there will be other horses. Maybe in the spring/summer I'll be able to clear the last bit of pasture and have room for a third mouth to feed, and maybe I'll be able to save up the purchase price of a new OTTB. But for now I'm loving on the mare-beast, letting her know rain or shine, jumping or no jumping, rideable or pasture puff I will love and keep her til the end.

Keep it between the flags everyone.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Moment Before the Fall

       This past month as been pretty much a roller coaster for me. Not just in my riding and "horse life" but the rest of my life as well. Mainly it's my job causing me anxiety and lost sleep.  I thought this past Monday that most of the constant anxiety and headache would be gone when I got moved to a different department. Nope, not so much. I got moved to a different department and then on Friday I got moved again to a department whose job I know absolutely nothing about and not only that but I'm being scouted to run the department.  I will own up right now I am not a confident person, I hate making decisions that impact other people's lives, and I hate being responsible for other people's actions. Give me a job to do and I'm good, make my job making other people do their's and thats a whole different story.

But on top of the whole job anxiety I came home on Friday to ride the High Queen who I hadn't been able to ride in about a week due to work, my online school stuff, and just everything else.  My husband volunteered to film me so I can see where my position was and how I could improve.  We did some great stuff, cantered a three fence grid, and cantered the new wood pile jump I created.  But somewhere in the middle of doing the grid in the opposite direction my husband calls out that Seneca looks off on the left hind. *Frown*.

I stop, get off, assess and sure enough she's slightly off on the left hind. Damn it.  Yesterday I put the horses out in the side pasture and when it got colder after a rain I went out to put a sheet on Seneca. She evaded me, the cow and went traipsing around the field as if I had imagined her being lame.  But then this morning when I was putting her out in the side pasture again I lunged her a bit to check her soundness.  She wasn't visably off at the walk, but she was wayyy off at the trot.  Fabulous.

I feel in my heart that its Seneca's current issue is her arthritis kicking up. She's had arthritis since I've had her, but her Cosequin supplement always kept her happy, comfy and sound. But with the cooler weather, not so much any more. I could change her supplement and hope for the best, I could have the vet out to confirm what I already know.

But what if she isn't rideable beyond trail rides? I can't afford, nor have enough pasture for a third horse right now. So where do I go from here?  Well, there is always the Spotted Brat.  He's sound, young, old enough to jump, and a nice mover.  He also has the attention span of a gnat, but hopefully with an actual job all his airs above ground attitude will go away.

On top of everything else my wonderful trainer Chris is moving away to Colorado. So there will be no lessons with him. Although Kim Severson is giving lessons in his stead at the farm where Chris had his training operation.  Lessons on a bright green horse with an Olympian? How many ways from awkward would that feel?

And that is where I am right now, no flags in sight.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Record

Honestly I haven't ridden in awhile. The weather just would not cooperate, work wouldn't relent and once or twice I admit I was too tired or stressed to want to. I'm also limited by the fact that I will not ride if I am home alone.  If I learned nothing else from my accident last year it was that if my husband hadn't been home, hadn't been outside and seen the accident I don't know what I would have done because I didn't have my cellphone on me that evening.

So finally I got to ride this afternoon. Super hubs got off work and we loaded up to go over to the park thats about twenty minutes away.  This would also be a test of the new loading routine I had been working on with the High Queen.

We parked near the round pen at the park as Super hubs wanted to give the Spotted Beast some training before saddling him up.  I decided to do loading practice and had the mare-beast loaded and unloaded three times in less then ten minutes.

Then super hubs and I saddled up. I hopped over the baby xc jumps while super hubs wandered quietly between the fences. After we took a mini-trailride and then came back.  When we came back I did some more cantering, yes CANTERING! over the xc jumps. Even a full mini-xc course.  It was AWESOME!  Yes the jumps were little baby jumps, but it was a big step for us, HUGE step.

Then after I got back to the trailer and untacked it took me less then five minutes to reload Seneca in to the trailer. HOLY CRAP! That is a freaking RECORD! I haven't gotten her to load that quickly in almost a year.

So two great things, we cantered around the baby xc course, and loaded with only small hesitations, and in less then five minutes.  VICTORY IS MINE!!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Merrily, Merrily

I realized somewhat sadly that I hadn't posted in awhile.  Mainly there just hasn't been anything going on. This is that slow area of the year(for my eventing) where I'm just starting to get the mare back in shape from summer hiatus and working on the skills we need for the fall eventing toolbox.

I think I might have ridden four times since the last post. Disappointing, and depressing but the weather, my job, and lots of other things have just made it impossible. Mostly its been the weather. It's either too hot, or raining.

And if I haven't said it before, when it rains at my house for more than ten minutes my riding area becomes a quagmire of dangerous slippery ground which I will not force my horse faster than a walk on unless I want her or me, or both of us to have a broken leg.

But weather and work got together on the schedule and I was able to ride yesterday while super hubs continued with the never ending mowing. Someday I'm going to have a fabulous tractor which will make all the pastrue mowing sooo much easier.

Back to the riding. I set up a baby oxer, a warm-up X, and reset the spook fence( vertical with one pole set at 2ft and a flat 1x6 set upright sort of wall like to make it look scary. I also made a mini log pile jump. Previous to yesterday's ride I had been canter baby X's with the High Queen to build both our confidences. Hers so that she could see we really could just happily canter along, and mine that Seneca was not indeed running off with me. I also changed the mare's bit and she seems happier with it, though I don't think it's legal for dressage. It's one of those Stubben EZ control bits that becomes more mullen mouth like if she pulls.

We warmed up, doing a bit of leg yielding here and there, but I wasn't pressing for more dressage stuff. As dressage is the least of our problems. Then I popped her over the X at a trot a couple of times, then cantered a couple.  She did pretty well. I think I'm still clinging with my hands because she wants throw her head down, toss and yank after the fences. Must work on not clinging.  After the X we popped the spook fence and the High Queen never for a second felt like she was going to dodge it. YIPEE! Of course now I have to make a new spook fence.  Then we trotted the baby oxer. I was expecting her to try and run out but happily she did not. 

I can't recall if we cantered the spook fence, I know, my memory sucks, but what I do recall is that we cantered the baby oxer! It's a tiny oxer, not more than two foot, but it was fun. Bigger oxer next time, new spook fence, and maybe a baby vertical for the warm-up instead of the X.

What's up next?  Well the local park has some baby (lower than 2ft) xc jumps I'd love to canter over. So I may try that this weekend.  And we have several horse trials/CT's coming up.  Two in September, one in October, and one in November.  And I've decided instead of doing the expensive (I calculated it to be $600) Wardaca Starter Trial, I am going to do the closer(less expensive) Calais HT in November as the end event for the year.

And GOOD LUCK to TEAM S.H.E as Sinead and Tate make their bid to conquer Burghley again!

So until my next adventure with the mare-beast, keep it between the flags everybody!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Flying Spots

And so it started as a nice laid back kind of outing. Super hubs and I loaded Cowboy on to the trailer and drove over to the farm around the corner where the trial was going on. It was raining, threatening to storm, but like the true eventers we weren't about to let a little rain stop us.

Cowboy unloaded all high headed and snorty then settled a bit to just giving all the other horses the hairy eyeball. We led him around until he had seemed to calm down and then I tacked him up(in his western gear thank the horse Gods for that insight).

I rode over to where the dressage and sj warm-up was going on talked with a new eventing buddy who was just starting out in the sport and a couple of other higher level eventers that I hang with at events. Cowboy behaved himself for the most part, at least he did in the beginning.  But somewhere around the 15 to 20 minute mark of walking in slow circles and me watching the dressage tests going on Cowboy decided he wanted to either go back to the trailer or go hang with super hubs who was playing with his iPhone outside the warm-up area.

This is where the temper tantrums ensued. And I don't mean Cowboy tossed his head and gave a little jiggy hop. No, no this was a full on throw his head in the air, rear up on his hindlegs doing his best impression of Silver from the Lone Ranger.  Not once, not twice, but three times within a ten minute span.

Me thinks the Spotted Beast needs to learn patience and lose the 'tude. And he needs to get worked more. Rebellious beast needs a job, something more than my husband just walking him around. 

After the third tantrum I made Cowboy walk a circle and then I got off.  My ankle was already hurting and I was there for fun and to watch my friend's first foray in to eventing not to deal with the Pony-attitude-palooza.  I know, I know, bad horse mommy.  I should have worked his spotted butt until he was too tired to rebel but I just didn't have it in me last night.

The western tack was what saved my butt. If I had tacked him up in my english gear I know with absolute certainty that I would have ended up on the ground. On the upside I got to show off to my watching friends what great stick-ability I have!

Keep it between the flags everyone!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Different Kind of Ride

I was planning on taking the High Queen to the Pony Club schooling trials around the corner again this evening but I haven't had as much time as I would have liked to work on her loading issue so I decided to leave her home tonight and take Cowboy instead.

I haven't ridden Cowboy in a couple of months at least. So when super hubs and I saddled him up yesterday evening I was a little wary. Yes he's a laid back Appaloosa but he's also 4 and had only truly been broke since late April.  I was also going to ride him english versus his usual western tack.  I only wanted to walk and trot him around a bit to see how we both felt about riding together under english tack.

He was a little unhappy with the bit, a french link snaffle, his usual bit is an eggbutt. But other than that and one sort of I'm thinking about bucking hop he was pretty good.  There was a lot of head flipping, but that is just him showing his resistance to the amount of contact(super lite compared to the High Queen's contact) I had on the reins.

The thing I noticed most though was how big his walk was, and how unbelievably smooth his trot was.  I mean I love the mare-beast despite her loading issues, and her some days unpredictability but I definetly could tell the difference between riding her gaits and riding Cowboys.

I wasn't entirely happy with how the saddle felt though. I put my old Collegiate AP on him because the Pessoa has Seneca's narrow gullet in it right now. I had checked the fit of it on him before but I think having ridden in the lovelyness of the Pessoa for the last several months that going back to the AP made me feel out of balance.  I'm thinking I'll check the fit of the Pessoa on Cowboy see if the narrow gullet will work, and if not I'll just do a quick change and put the medium gullet in. My only other option is to ride Cowboy in his western tack. Not a deal breaker since I'm not taking Cowboy to the schooling trial to show just to act as a buddy for a friend's horse who has never done XC and is nervous by herself.

So that's the news from Eventing at Midnight, keep it between the flags everyone.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Squirrel says "Pay attention to me!"

And So it Goes

I took Seneca to the PC schooling trial around the corner from my farm. How did it go? Hmmm depends on how you look at it.  Dressage was kinda a bleh. Our trot to canter transitions were reallly ugly. But we did earn a 37 to break our streak of 40 somethings.

The stadium portion was kind of an eye opener.  Not only was there a double combination with a two stride in between there was a freaking triple combination? WTF?  I saw that and immediately knew this was truly, truly a schooling event where I didn't care what score I got.  We circled in between each of the elements and had one stop at an ugly wall, and a rail down on a single verticle.

The XC portion was a mess. The course twisted and looped and made no logical sense. I think I went off course at least three times and just flat out didn't attempt this ugly cinderblock hogs back looking thing.  We'd jumped it before but it was getting on towards evening and the lighting wasn't conducive to safe jumping of the thing.  We had two stops on XC the first was just Seneca freaking over a kind of fence we'd never jumped before. A black culvert sort of pipe fence, it was in shadows, and getting dark so I forgave her a little.  The second stop was my fault. I wasn't aggresive enough to a wall with width fence and we got it on the second try.

The show stopper though was the fact that her Highness then declined to get in to the trailer for over 30 minutes.  Damn her. I gave up and walked her home, super hubs trailing behind us in the rig with the lights flashing as we walked the backroad home. Humiliating, but worth it.

There is another one next week and I think we're going to do the 2ft division but try to canter all the fences this time.  Wish us luck and no injuries!

Keep it between the flags everyone.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Seneca and Cowboy hiding from the heat under the Oak trees in the back pasture.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Just Go With It

The heat is unrelenting but I managed to get up and feed early so I could then tack up the mare-beast for a short jump school. The day before I'd had rearranged my jumps from the grid in to three jumps each at varying heights and angles. I had also decided I wanted them to be a bit spookier. But how do you make plain PVC poles spookier without spending a ton of money?  Ever use painter's tape? Sure it's great for keeping paint off things you don't want painted but it's pretty ingenious for making plain white poles in to striped poles without the commitment of paint, or other things.  And it comes in a couple of colors.

I did just the minimum amount of warm-up I can get away with because even at 9:30 in the morning the humidity was terrible.  To the point that on our walk breaks of which there were many I walked Seneca in the narrow strip of shade along the fence line.

I did no lateral work, no dressage-esk work at all. I wanted to get in, get out, get it done.  I trotted then cantered my warm-up fence, a small X with a ground pole set out 11 feet in front of it.   Then on to the newest of my spook fences, a fence I have specifically made as scary as possible. I want Seneca to think about running out, and have the opportunity to correct her so she will stop doing it.  She did run out the first time but it was totally my fault. I anticipated she was going to jump it and leaned at her. She took advantage of that and ducked out to the right.  *Sigh* Ride to the base, ride to the base, ride to the base. I will chant this in my head next time.

But we had no more run outs after that. We cantered the spook fence and I had intended to trot over the big max height 2'8" fence then canter it.  We trotted it but Seneca knocked the top rail with her hind feet and since I don't have a handy grounds person plus the High Queen had been pretty good, and the heat/humidity was horrible I finished on that and then hosed the mare off before letting her back in to the pasture.

The lesson I was teaching myself today was that I need to just go with the cantering up to a fence. Seneca is not going to kill you if she's a bit too fast coming to a 2'7 stadium fence. The worst that will happen? You'll trash the fence and rack up faults.  Let her fly, heels down, grab mane, and Go With IT!

I did pretty well with it today. I don't know if I will get to ride tomorrow the heat is supposed to be worse so we'll have to see.  Right now I'm spending time watching old episodes of the FEI Show Jumping World Cup qualifiers.  These are the people I should emulate for stadium, we're not hunters. Be fast, and clean, fast and clean!

Keep it between the flags everyone. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

I Love the Pony Club

As I watched the heat index soar upwards on my two days off for the holiday I got down to the business of trying to plan out my fall eventing season.  I really sat down and thought about how to get from where I was to where I wanted to be.

I don't think doing a Recognized Beginner Novice HT is impossible, but we're not ready yet, maybe not even this fall. But I was cruising the omnibus and there are lots of big name Area II horse trials that have starter events. Waredaca and Rubicon to name a couple.  I also had to rethink doing Morven Park after I reread the omnibus listing and realized that the fall Morven Park HT is also the regional championship. So not at that level yet.

I was also bemoaning the fact that around my local area (farthest south eastern corner of VA you can get without being north east NC) there wasn't a whole for green eventers or any eventers to do. Even our local h/j shows don't actually have jumper classes at most of the shows. Not that I am opposed to doing hunter classes to get some mileage this was afterall my fall back plan since gas prices are keeping me close to home.

But the local Pony Club saves the day yet again. A friend of mine who also helps coach the local pony clubbers sent me a flyer for two evening schooling trials that are five minutes or less from my house.  How sweet is that! Granted the XC's are very basic but hey basic is good when you're trying to teach you ex-race horse the happy medium between the slowest hunter at the party and steeplechaser wannabe.  We have also been to the host farm a couple of times, although the last outing there did not end well. I think that day is listed under "God Doesn't Give Perfect Days."  It was last February or early March. In which the High Queen tried to gouge her own eye out on the less than five minute trailer ride from the farm.

Lets hope for a better outcome this time. I am going to try and let Seneca canter as much as possible. I really want to get past this hang-up we have. Mare-beast wants to go fast, I want to go at a safe pace that doesn't have me feeling like Seneca is dive bombing to the base of each fence.  Seneca can be strange though. She'll be a complete cow at home but behave herself in the jumping off the farm.  But my goal for the schooling show? NO RUN OUTS OR STOPS! Canter what we can while going clean, trot if need be. Last time though it wasn't the fences in the arena that spooked her, it was the empty chairs outside the arena that made her freak and turn in to a giraffe on crack.

So the High Queen and I will be doing the two PC schooling trials and I will be trying to pick out the Starter Event that will be our fall debut. 

As a side note I was horribly disappointed that Sinead and Tate did not get picked for the US Team. I wouldn't wish harm on any of the horses or riders currently chosen but if something should happen I hope Sinead get's her shot as an alternate.

Keep it between the flags, even while your fanning yourself in the heat!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Would someone PLEASE turn down the heat!

Still haven't been able to ride.  I get all happy and motivated while I'm in the cool house but then when I step out the door and the heat and humidity smack me in the face all my happy go ridingness melts.

Today is much cooler, or it is right now. Who knows what it will be like when I get home. I want to ride, I crave to ride, my eventing goals are singing that sweet siren song but when my horse is head to toe sweat and grime( In the half dark this morning when I was going out to feed I mistook her for Cowboy because she was so plastered in pale dirt.) I just don't have the heart to tack my horse up.

So I have nothing to do but cruise the net and dream of things that should be better left for another season. Such as I realllly want to take Seneca to Morven Park's fall HT. The more reasonable side of me wonders what the hell I'm thinking and points to disasterous/expensive exhibit A. (Kelly's Ford)  And the fact that we aren't ready for that kind of a competition right this moment.  But the irrational/masochistic/jumping addicted side of me says if we can conquer our major issue over the next couple of months then why not? Morven Park is afterall in October.

The chicken in me says WTF do you WANT to die? The competitive part of me keeps going back to my coach muttering things like "Prelim"  *shudder/squeal*  We are NO WHERE in the vicinity of the same time zone as Prelim but nice to know my coach thinks my horse could go there. Whether I would still be attached to the saddle at that point and not wading out of the water jump or laying in the grass somewhere between fences 2 and 3 is debatable. But it's nice to dream although the thought of the size of the Prelim jumps makes me phsically ill.

Until our realities catch up with our dreams... keep it between the flags everyone! P.S crossing our fingers for Sinead and Tate's bid for Olympic greatness. If I can't do it at least I can watch someone else really great doing what we all love!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Angst of Heat

I haven't been able to ride the mare-beast in over a week, closer to almost two. This was orchestrated by her(gashing up her side) and several other things including the fact that Virginia suddenly realized that it was summer and a trip to Arlington National Cemetery to bury my father's ashes.

Seneca and her partner in crime Cowboy have been pretty sweaty everyday when I get home which forces me to feel guilty and hose them off.  Seneca has to be haltered and held to be sprayed for while she enjoys sipping cold water from the hose she doesn't actually enjoy being sprayed with water or bathed.  Although yesterday when the heat got up over a hundred she was pretty compliant.

On the flipside Cowboy will almost mow you down to be hosed. He is completely happy to just stand there and be sprayed to include flipping from side to side for optimal coverage.

Again today's forecast had been another day up over a hundred but a freak storm blew in overnight and it's been a bit cooler.  I am still being considerbly lazy and hanging out indoors air conditioner cranked up both dogs planted at my feet.  I want to try and ride this afternoon if the mare-beast is healed up and the heat abates but we'll see.

My garden is exploding with tomatoes, onions canteloupe plants and my young cucumber plant that has yet to produce. I also have watermelons planted, carrots that need to be harvested and a whole herb garden. I find it extremely sastifying to be cooking realize I need an herb or a vegtable and be able to go out and just pluck it fresh from the plant.

My job is still horrendously boring but I am putting all my down time there to good work and trying to forge ahead with several writing projects.

As for my riding goals?  Still trying to get to a couple of schooling shows with both my beasts though I need to put some real saddle time with Cowboy in before I can take him any where.

My family made the trek to Washington D.C. to bury my dad's ashes at Arlington National Cemetery. I won't go in to all the details but I will say that the Cemetery staff were extremely nice, experts in making everyone feel at ease and making sure the ceremony ran smoothly.  I read a Navy poem that is traditionally read at retirement ceremonies and everything ended on a bittersweet note.

I did find out a strange fact. Did you know that you can adopt a Caisson horse? These are the horses that draw the carriages that escort the caskets of all those who desire a ceremony with full military honors. Or you may have seen them on tv for the media covered funerals for high level government officials or military service members.  When the horses have served for ten years they are retired and the public can adopt them.  Just Google: Adopt a Caisson Horse to find out the details.

Not much going on but I took some photos of Seneca having a wild hair moment in the pasture while super hubs was bushhogging the weeds. Upside is she's getting exercise, the downside is she looks like a giant fat pumpkin.

Keep it between the flags everyone! And P.S.  GO TEAM S.H.E! We're rooting for you to make the TEAM!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Be Still My....

I had scheduled to go to a hunter show for the mileage this weekend and a lesson with a 3* rider but had to opt out of one, and opt for being an auditor at the second. Mare-beast somehow gashed up her saddle area, and while it wasn't stitch worthy it is ouchy and right where the saddle would touch. *Le sigh*

But she did plot her destructiveness for after a little theory and resolution session that we had yesterday.  Our main problem for a long while that has been getting in the way of our moving forward in training and competion is that the mare-beast and I were having a communication problem.

I thought I was being still, solid in my base, and quiet when I would ask her to canter to a fence. But apparently not and what she was feeling and "hearing" was faster, faster, faster! Which being her ex-racer self was only too happy to oblige. Which in turn scared the hell out of me.

So yesterday I set up an exercise to test the theory of what I thought my body was doing and what the reality was. Six canter poles set 12 feet apart. We trotted through twice then cantered through.  The first time because it was new Seneca was fairly quiet down the line. The second time she got quick and rushed towards the end. Hmmm. So the third time through I focused on sitting deep, heels way down, leg on.  And she got quiet and sane to through the line. Okaaaay.

Just to make certain that I wasn't hallucinating I switched canter leads and came down the line again. I let my body be easy and didn't focus on it.  Quick, fly, fly, fly.  Came through again focusing on deep, heels way down, leg on. And the sanity came back.

Damn it it was me this whole time. *head to desk*  Well crap, at least I know how to fix it now.  Of course I haven't tested this new theory with anything resembling a jump and I won't be able to for awhile, plus I want to run her through the canter poles several more times just to solidify this new line of communication and then add a jump somewhere in the line. But hopefully this was the Ah freaking Ha moment and we can finally move foward and stop looking like green todlers when we trot the entire BN courses.

If we can finally get beyond the trotting and learn to trust each other at the canter/gallop then we may actually be able to do a recognized event late this fall which has been my goal since the beginning of the year. So until the next Ah freaking Ha moment....keep it between the flags everybody.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Lessons We Learn

Sunday I made 2.5 hour trek to a new xc course to school with Chris and some of his other students. It was a new course, and very greenie friendly.  And even though it was his birthday super hubs accompanied me to help drive, photograph and generally help me deal with my own craziness.

We got to the venue fairly early and I left the mare-beast in the trailer remembering the last time I had taken her off the farm and she was a freak the whole time. I wanted to be able to go watch other schoolers, relax, eat, whatever without having to worry if my mare had escaped or was in the process of losing her mind.

My husband set up the awning on the trailer, set out the chairs and generally chilled out while I tagged after one of Chris's schooling groups and tried to learn from watching. 

When it was close to pot-luck time I trekked back through the fields to pick up super hubs and head over to the dining area where there was loads of good stuff to eat, soda for me, and surprise BEER! for the hubs. We chatted with the owners of the farm, great people, oohed over their cute dogs and then it was time to unload the mighty mare-beast.

She came off the trailer with a bit of a snort, looked around, flicked her ears and then proceeded to show me that I must be crazy for thinking she might be tuned up at a new place. Not only was she three legs and a hipcock at the trailer (WTF?) she placidly ate her hay as if she'd been doing this for years. Granted this outing was a lot less energy and craziness(plus no evil demon cows) so maybe that had a lot to do with it. But I believe Seneca just wanted to make me look like a liar and a dork, her specialty.

So we tack up and I meet the two fabulous ladies I will be schooling with.  Sheryl is riding a nice bay TB gelding, who looked like Seneca's bulkier brother. Hope was riding a very cute paint/draft cross. Chris arrives and the challenges begin.  Challenges for me because eventing forces me to do things that aren't in my nature. Being bold, brave, confident, and trusting.

He helped me to see what I was doing wrong in the stadium jumping that made Seneca feel like she was nose diving at the jumps.  She only felt like she was rushing but obvious to other eyes wasn't(Didn't I say making me out to be a liar was Seneca's specialty?)  He made me see that when I got a few strides away from the fence my hips started moving which pushed Seneca in to what felt like a flat, rushy jump.  Okay we can work on fixing that.

Next we went off to the xc course. The first jump was a tiny log(Seneca could and did walk over it). I rode up to it at the trot in what I thought was a bold frame.  I will tell you now while Seneca has ducked and run out she has never outright stopped. Until yesterday. She stoppedat this tiny log, in front of my husband, schooling partners, and worst of all my coach.  Thank you mare-beast for making me feel like a failure!

I made her walk over it and then we jumped it several times.  We didn't have another stops that day, but we did have a run out later.  We jumped several other intro fences then went to the bank which was great, and the ditch, which Seneca hesitated at the first presentation and then she got a swat from the giant jumping bat which super hubs had gone back to the trailer and gotten for me along with a bottle of water. Love HIM!

Then we did a line of fences. We did the ditch on a down hill, then a left hand turn gallop up the bank and on to a table jump.  The first time I went over the table I trotted it. But the second with Chris encouraging me to "Gallop on!" We cantered over the table.  It was the first time we had ever cantered a xc fence. And I gave a "WAHOO!" going over, which super hubs, because he's the man caught on camera.

Other than the run out later at a bench we had a great time, I learned a lot, and have several things to work on. Like being comfortable with letting Seneca canter/gallop up to fences.  Begin assertive/aggresive with her to the fence because she's green and will avoid jumping if she can, and making my body still up to the fences so that I don't accidentally encourage her to rush and get flat.

Learning, learning, learning.  Keep it between the flags everyone.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Big "E"

Yesterday was our last Horse Trial of the spring season.  I prepared, I packed, and leaving later than I wanted to I still made it to Kelly's Ford with an hour and half before I needed to be on.  So I left the High Queen ensconced in her prison  trailer and went to pick up my packet and do a quick walk of the xc course.

Quick it was not, the course was really long and I realized half-way through that I realized that somehow I was walking the wrong course.  And when I asked one of the jump judges she was absolutely no help.  So needing to get on for dressage and knowing I had over two hours between dressage and stadium I decided to leave it until later.

My whole warm-up plan was to warm up just enough to get her moving, but let her be as calm as possible. Seneca was a bit reluctant to go in to the dressage arena and not great while she was in there.  She remember what the halt was, always very important. She was more bendy this time, also good. We managed to do both canter circles, though she broke in the second, went back to the canter in the wrong lead, and I had to ask her to change.

Not too bad a test, we got a 45 and put to the bottom of the order of 16 entries. Eh, better test than the last one that's all I really wanted.  Back to the trailer, untack, sponge off the sweat, it was really hot, not middle of the summer hot, but still pretty warm.  I relaxed for a bit, gave the mare-beast some water, let her relax although the field full of cows behind us had her giving them the hairy eye ball every 15 seconds.

I put Seneca back on the trailer then struck out to re-walk cross country.  A second judge at the starter box still was no help but directed me to a very condescending woman who informed me that the Maiden jumps were marked with a blue flag. Thanks for making me feel like an idiot.  I walked the course again, found the water jump not inviting at all.  You come up to it on an incline where the horses can't see it until the last second and it's just suddenly there. While I was walking the course I saw more than one horse absolutely freak when suddenly presented with the water. At that moment I was not looking forward to that jump on the course.

But I moved onwards along the long course and finally finished with an hour and a half before needing to get on for stadium.  I got something to eat, sucked down more water and trekked back to the trailer.  I took the mare-beast off the trailer to let her hang out tied next to it.  She freaked when she realized the cows had moved up closer and spent her time flipping from side to side at the end of the lead line. She did not however escape.

Then all too quick it was time to tack up for stadium/xc since they were within minutes of each other I would be show jumping in xc gear.  All tacked up and after having a lovely conversation with my neighbor, I picked up my giant jumping bat (It's long enough I can smack the mare-beast without taking my hand off the reins, if my reins a little longer than usual)  Off we went.  

The mare-beast was pretty damn fabulous in the warm-up. We jumped the baby X, the bigger vertical, and the even larger oxer.   Then we circled, circled, waited for our turn.  A minute or two before we were supposed to go in the mare-beast began to fidget.  When it finally was our turn the ring steward had to give me a hand lead-in.   I got Seneca to the first jump made the long sweeping turn to jump 2, went over it  and this is where the mare-beast lost her mind.   My trailer parking neighbor had warned me about the jumps going in the direction towards the judges stand.  Something over there was very spooky to a lot of horses.

And it was our undoing.  Upon landing after the second jump Seneca shied sideways almost hit jump 6 before I got her circled and pointed at jump 3.  Nothing doing whatever was over in that direction was too scary to be tolerated. We got elimated.  Head hanging a bit we made the walk of shame back to the trailer.

I finished off the day by getting a strawberry smoothie from the vendor area then packed up, spent 15 minutes convincing the mare-beast to get back in to the trailer then made the 3.5 hr trek home.

Was it worth it?  Yes. Was it frustrating to not even get to do part of the xc course?  Hell yes.  Do I wish there was another HT this season? Yes.  

All in all I spent around 200$ for a partial schooling event. Sigh.  So the plan?  Do h/j and dressage schooling shows closer to home at less entry cost and less gas cost.

Keep it between the flags everyone. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Practise Makes a Try at Perfect

After getting stuck at work until after 4pm I finally got home and had the time, energy, inclination and weather to ride.  It took me awhile to figure out what to do with Cowboy because Mr. I don't want to stay where you put me kept escaping in to my riding area. I even tried putting him on the trailer but he kept kicking and kicking and I just couldn't stand it.

Soooo I shut the dogs in the house and tossed the Spotted Beast in to the front yard which has the most secure fences. Finally when the High Queen and I were alone I tacked her up and went out to try and practise for the upcoming HT.

I did more flatwork than I usually do. Partly because super hubs had gone over to the neighbors and I didn't want to jump anything big or tricky with no one within shouting distance. I did lots of lateral work, lots of circles, bending, and tons of practice on trot to canter transitions. This is something that I am going to do in the warm-up for dressage on Saturday. I jumped a bit, but nothing too difficult. Tomorrow I'll be hauling both horses down to E's where I will school the stadium jumps there.

The ride times are up for Kelly's Ford, and all my stuff is in the afternoon which will give me plenty of time to watch other rides and settle the mare-beast. There are about 14 people in my section, including on of my friends who rides with Chris.  Should be fun though. Can't wait.

Anyway, long day tomorrow, longer day on Saturday as the drive is 3.5 hrs up and 3.5hrs back.

Keep it between the flags everyone. 

Rain on My Parade

I haven't been able to ride since Saturday. *face to palms* I gave the High Queen Sunday off as she'd w/t/c 15 miles the day before. Granted she was a total mare-beast for the first half of the ride, but she did decently and I think she diserved the day to rest.  I did bathe her and Cowboy in to super shinyness which lasted for about 2.5 seconds before they both rolled. Seneca is still pretty shiny and I plan on giving her a bath on Friday, putting her bug rug on to keep her semi-clean and separating her from Cowboy to keep them from injuring one another the night before the trial.

I could have ridden Monday but the weather was so iffy I just knew if I put my saddle on that it was going to pour. And it was the same for Tuesday, and yesterday it did pour buckets. I am hoping that today's heat and sun will dry out my riding area enough that I can at least do flatwork.  I am also trying to get ahold of the owner of the arena around the corner that has jumps AND footing so I can school there today or tomorrow. If I can't get permission today, and it's fairly dry I'm going to trailer down to E.'s and use her grass arena and show jumps.  I desperately want to jump her coop and rolltop. But we'll see.

Nothing else really new going on. Work is driving me crazy, minions constantly running amuk to the point that I'm afraid to leave the building for fear that they might burn it down in my absence.  *head to desk, wack, wack, wack* I soo need a new billet so I can escape this looney bin and go to a command where there is some sanity.

Anyway keep it between the flags everyone.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Different Track

This past weekend super hubs and I were supposed to be spending all weekend horse camping and trail riding on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Except that we wanted to test the strength of the portable electric corral we created first.

So Friday we set the corral up and put the Spotted Beast in. I moved Seneca way over in another pastrure where he couldn't see her.  We needed to know if when agitated enough would Cowboy escape.  *Le sigh*  Of course he did. No less than three times.  The first time he just bent his neck down shoved the electric tape up and Shetland ponied his way out.  So we fixed that with another line of tape along the bottom. That worked for a little while longer than the single top row of tape.  But within minutes the Spotted Beast flashed his talent and jumped out over the tape(It was at least 3 feet high).

But Cowboy will only jump out if there is no other option so we figured if Seneca was actually in the corral with him he wouldn't be tempted to jump. So in goes the mare-beast.  I went to get some buckets of water, but as it was late evening the High Queen thought dinner was being served and immediately began beating up on Cowboy, who's only alternative to getting bitten and kicked was to leap out of the corral again, this time dragging the tape with him and breaking a good half of the poles. *face to palm, epic fail*

So knowing that my husband was not going to be physically up to riding the trails on Sunday (He has only just gotten back in to riding and his butt was going to make major protests about two long trail rides in a row) We decided to just drive over to the trail ride for the day.  It started out well with the High Queen leaping in to the trailer at the first attempt(always a good sign).  Then when we got there and our horses saw the 250+ other horses, trucks, trailers, people they were understandbly unsettled.  Seneca not only snapped the trailer tie ring(the whole reason I bought extras after she snapped the first one) she escaped two more times before I actually got her saddled.

The first half of the trail was miserable for me. Seneca would not settle and spent the whole first half jigging, cantering in place with that whole "I am two seconds from bucking you in to a tree" attitude and basically yanking my arms out of my socket. But there was nothing I could do.I couldn't ride ahead giving Seneca other things to think about. I even tried leg yielding down the trail.  I had to stay with my husband and Cowboy and Cowboy has decided he likes to lead.  Then I hit upon the cure, althought it came back to bite me in the butt later. I simple let the reins go slack, and put my hands on the pommel of my saddle.  Seneca put her nose directly on to Cowboy's tail and traveled sedately that way the rest of the ride. She even went so far as to use his butt as a scratching post.

After that life was calmer and we had fun.  Getting down to the beach was a little crazy. There was a pretty steep drop off a sand bank. Cowboy refused, Seneca wasn't happy about it either. In the end I got off, led Seneca down and Cowboy then jumped down after her.  I remounted using a log and we went off to play in the waves and sandbars.  We even got some really nice photos from the professional photographer(I'll post them when I get them back)

After the beach we rode for another hour and a half, had lunch provided by the local fire department, then rode another 30 minutes back to the start.  This is where letting Seneca go as she pleased came back to bite me.  Because I'd let her think she was in charge for a couple of hours she now thought getting back in the trailer was not on her to do list. *GRRRRR*

This is inevitably what happens.  She's fabulous about getting in at home where there are no witnesses, but in public she wants other people to think I abuse her. It took me a good twenty minutes at least to convince her to get back in. Meanwhile I got several offers to help. I tried to be polite and rebuff them, telling them that I had worked with this mare for over a year and my way was the only way. But my anxiety level raised every time someone asked because now I can imagine them sitting there watching us and laughing at me.  We circled, we walked, we stopped, I did submission/release bending of her neck to her side, we walked, circled, stopped some more.

Super hubs loaded Cowboy in to the first slot in the trailer as encouragement even though that is typically where Seneca rides.  Finally she deigned to get half way in the trailer. I glared, kept a tight hold of the chain lead shank and firmly told her if she did not get her big brown butt in the trailer that I was going to make the alleged horse abuse a reality. She blinked at me then got in the trailer.  15 miles of trail riding logged, a slight sunburn, photos, and lots of smiles. Not too bad for a days work.

Yesterday I did more trailer loading training with the High Queen(I don't think I will ever be able to stop practicing) She resisted the first time I asked and she got the business end of a chain shank yank and she decided it was in her best interest to get in.  She got in perfectly the second time.  I will be practicing all week in hopes she won't embarass me at Kelly's Ford this weekend.

Yep finally decided to go do the Maiden division at the Kelly's Ford Recognized HT.  I've never been to a recognized trial, even to watch so I plan on trying to go early to see couple of friends take their young horses in the reg. divisions then try to make it through all three phases in the 2ft division without eating dirt or getting eliminated.

Here's hoping.  Keep it between the flags everyone.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Retail Therapy and Frustrated Tracks

This weekend was the big tent sale that our local tackshop has every spring. I swore I was only going over to pick up a new girth, fly spray, and some leather oil. I arrived at around 9:30 after leisurely making my way over from the farm with a stop at Starbucks for fuel along the way.  I knew from previous years that the place would be hopping. When I made the turn in to the long drive between the pastures that led to the tack store there were already cars lining both sides of the drive, in the pastures and packed every which where.

I had driven my car vices the truck, thank the Gods for foresight, and as I saw an SUV getting stuck in one of the pastures I endeavored to find a safer parking space. I managed that and then hit the big tent.  The human traffic in there wasn't so bad, and there were some fabulous things to be had. But I stayed strong and after surveying the tent went in to the store itself.  I am not a social person. Part of it is I just don't like people. I have a very low tolerance for stupidity and rudeness so parties and shopping are usually not fun for me. Grocery shopping is particularly trying for me and I endeavor to keep all the ugliness inside my own head. So when I opened the tack shop door and saw the mass of humanity crushed in together and milling about in chaotic confusion I almost backed right back out the door. Large groups of chaotically moving people make me anxious and I have to stop myself from wanting to hit people so they will get out of my way.

Just one of the many reason I do not ride at hunter/jumper shows anymore. Deep breath, deep breath and I plunge in. I try on a couple of hunt coats(I really need a new one since I have been wearing the same one since I was sixteen) I eye the bridles and resist, I collect some push in fence posts for the overnight camping my husband and I will be doing this weekend. I sigh over a dove grey Ariat polo shirt, and can't stop myself, I add it to my slowly growing pile that includes another pair of Tally Ho socks(LOVE them!) I throw on a pair of breeches(If I am going to be bad, I am going to be all the way bad, or nearly). I tack on a cushy saddle pad to match the shirt, and a whole bunch of other stuff.  *face to palms*  I should never have gone to the tackshop without my husband who usually keeps me on track.

I didn't get to ride on Saturday because it rained most of the afternoon and evening. I really need to connect with the farm owner around the corner who has an arena with jumps AND footing. The next day I was supposed to have lunch guests who didn't end up coming so instead I did farm chores until later in the afternoon.  My husband and I went back over to the tack store (the gloves I'd gotten him didn't fit) to wait for the 1,000$ shopping spree give away. Along with that there were tons of other things that were given away including a brand new Collegiate jumping saddle that this really sweet girl won.   We didn't win the shopping spree sadly(I really wanted that new coat and bridle damn it) but we had fun anyway. 

Rush back to the house, quick change in to riding clothes and off on a trail ride.  I jumped schooled the mare-beast when we got back. She was not happy about trail riding and then actually WORKING.  We made some headway with the leg yields at trot and canter, but she was a total cow about riding the in and out I had set up. And for some reason even though she had seen my Blok jumps a million times she kept giving them the hair eyeball, and trying to run out of them. Looks like I will have to put the side poles back on.

I think I have decided to go to a HT rather than the jumping show, but I will be dropping down a level to the maiden division at 2ft rather than the recognized BN. Maybe, my mind is all a whirl and I need a good solid, happily ending jump school before I can committ. I just love my lack of confidence issues, they are so much fun. And you would think recognizing that I have them that I could just get over them. But I can't.  I'm trying though, and that's what counts.

Keep it between the flags everyone.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Curse of the Frogs and Cowboy Grows Up

I just realized that I never told the story of the suicidal frogs. At the end of last summer I had finally convinced my husband that we needed a new trailer. I tracked down a lovely 2003 Exiss 3 Horse slant with a huge dressing room that I thought would be as close to perfect as I could afford.  I really wanted a Kieffer or Exiss 2+1 with a massive dressing room but couldn't afford even a used one.

So super hubs and drove down to Smithfield, NC to pick up the new trailer. This is about a 3 to 4 hour drive. Just as we were pulling to a stop light just before the trailer dealer's lot a little green tree frog crawled out of that space where the windshield wipers rest. It must have been in there since we left the house in VA, and it clung to the glass as the light turned green and we moved down the road. We watched it amused and then it crawled across the glass and I winced as it made a huge leap, hit the air stream going over the truck and disappeared. That was suicidal frog number 1.

The second suicidal frog appeared while the husband and I were in Lexington for the horse trial this spring.  We were actually hauling Cowboy out to his trainer's ranch and the second frog appeared on the driver's side window.  It too clung to the window, crawled along and I yelled at the thing not to jump, not to be a fool! But it leaped, hit the air stream, struck the trailer and was gone.

Now on to the High Queen for which this blog was created. She's fattened up a bit, which makes me happy. She's such a hard keeper that some days I am almost embarrassed to take her out to trials and shows because I'm afraid people will think I'm not feeding her enough.  That pig gets a ton of food.  One 5lb scoop of grain, half a scoop of soaked beet pulp, four cups of rice bran, alfalfa cubes, and her supplements. All this twice a day plus 24/7 turn-out on grass, and several flakes of hay.

She's all shiny sassy looking now, which is great, I love when she's all summer sleek. I showed her off in a lesson with Chris a couple of weeks ago. Much improvement was made in the being more aggressive and being more forward. We even CANTERED lines!  Woo Hoo!

We've also been doing more trail riding because Cowboy has come back from the trainer and is now completely ridable , not just semi-broke. So super hubs has been riding him out with me most afternoons.  By herself the High Queen is a paranoid freak, but with Cowboy leading she's calm and didn't even startle too much when she scared up a quail on our afternoon ride yesterday. And we have an overnight camp out trail ride on Mother's Day weekend which should be really fun.

The weekend after that I am taking the High Queen to a jumper show for some experience. Our next outing after that will be the starter trials in June. Soo looking forward to that. I want to actually complete every phase this time so hopefully the weather will cooperate.

I did a little jump school yesterday after the evening trail ride using the exercises that Chris taught me in the last lesson. The mare-beast was not in evidence, instead I got the Duchess of Lethargy and Laziness. Mommy needs to get out the giant jumping bat next time to encourge her ladyship to MOVE her butt.

We did however canter a couple of lines, and I am trying to move towards only trotting the first warm-up jump and cantering everything else. We need to do this, we need to move our riding to the next level, and since I have that fancy new and pain-free saddle it shouldn't be an issue.

I'm hoping to take Seneca down to my friend E's for a jump school on her course, or around the corner to the arena that has *GASP* actual footing and jumps next week, or the week after to practice for the jumper show. But we'll see weather willing.

Until next time keep it between the flags everybody.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sun and Shadow

Some of the best laid plans can go awry. They can get twisted with heartache, sorrow and darkness. I have ridden my horse exactly three times in the last month. Once about two weeks ago, and I rode her twice yesterday.

The pain is still too fresh so I will only say that my family needed me at home. That combined with the brand new saddle fit issue kept me from riding. How did I discover that my saddle didn't fit after having no problems in the past three years?

I was trying to progress as a rider and move my mare up a level in her training. I had cantered fences before, but slowly, no pressue. I was trying to follow my trainer's advice and be more agressive, and let my mare canter forward up to the jump.  What did it get me?  A whole lot of bruises and grass stains on a new pair of breeches.

Now the mare-beast has given me attitude, but she has never bucked me off, or bucked with the kind of severity she showed me that day. So I had to wonder why, and when I started investigating the saddle fit, I realized that it really was not a good fit.

*SIGH!*  So for the next couple of weeks after the unceramonious dumping I worked with my local tack store to find out what Seneca needed and what I could live with.  Enter my new saddle. Not that I bought it at the tack store. I found what I liked there, but eBay is definitely a rider's best friend. I found the next model up from the saddle I tried from the tack store for less than half of what the tack store wanted. I could not pass that up.

So I bid on it, set my eBay bid sniper app on my phone(oh yeah it's a bad ass app) and then sat back to wait.  I won the saddle, had to wait some more. In the mean time my local eventers group got another training session with Chris together. I signed up hoping, praying that my saddle would arrive in time.

My lesson was at 6:30pm.  My saddle arrived at noon. I quickly swapped the medium gullet out for the narrow my girl needed and then with a quick double check of the fit I saddled up.  OMG! The first time I sat in the new saddle was like settling in to the leather interior of a fine sports car.  I am so in love.

Even better after my trial ride I took a break in the house, had lunch, waited for super hubs to get home and then we loaded up for the hour long trip to the venue for our lesson with Chris.  It was fabulous!
We are progressing, and Chris is happy, plus the new saddle was great!

I had to scratch from our last three outtings, but I have a couple of trail rides, a couple of jumper shows, and the starter trial in June comeing up.  Then we will most likely be done with horse trials for the summer. There might be some dressage shows, and more jumper shows in our future but we'll see.

So even with the bitter ache of sorrow a little sunlight still falls. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mud, Forward and Suicidal Frogs

All in all the weekend was a success. I wanted an educational experience and we definitely got one. Seneca and I geared up for a wet xc school on Saturday and left the Spotted Beast behind in the barn. Super hubs walked out with us toting the camera as always. I met up with my schooling partners a couple of ladies from Oakdale Farm where I've schooled before, and a few others that I didn't know.

Chris shows up and we commence with the big scary. I thought the water jump would be the biggest problem, not so much. It was actually a table jump that just kept kicking our butt. It was me, I knew. The continuing theme of my riding life is I need to be more confident, commit to the jump and be agressive.

But we ended on a good note and we hurried Seneca back to the barn to dry off and then loaded Cowboy before stopping at the hotel, checking on the dogs and changing in to dry clothes. Because while on the xc course the rain came down with a vengence and the only dry part of me was my feet.

Seneca and I catching major air over the BN fence at VAHC.
She thought it was a Prelim fence and was all "bring it on, we can jump it!!"

With Cowboy safely tucked in at the trainers super hubs and I headed back to our hotel.  The single scariest thing the hotel reception can say to you when you come back in from a long day?  "Are you missing a Golden Retriever?"  OMG!  Our dog Georgia, who is deathly afraid of thunder storms had opened the hotel room door and had been roaming the halls and frightening the guests.  Thankfully the hotel did not kick us out.

Sunday dawns bright, clear and dry.  Yeah right, it was just more grey, and rain.  I am behind getting over to the horse center, but Seneca is patiently waiting for breakfast. I left her eating and headed up the action on the hill to get my dressage bridle number since there hadn't been one in my packet from the day before. While up there waiting for the stadium course to get posted soo many people were talking about scratching their xc ride that it made me doubly nervous about doing it. My mare was barefoot, and it had been raining for days.

I head back down, hit the trailer to change clothes, throwing on my xc shirt under a rain jacket.  I had seen loads of people wearing their hunt/dressage coats and stock ties, but it was raining miserably, wasn't going to let up and it was a starter trial, so I just put my informal clothes on. I hurried back, tacked up the High Queen in record time and hustled my way back up the hill.  I had exactly five minutes to warm up for dressage.  It wasn't the best test, but she was loads better than the first time, and actually remembered what the halt meant.  WINWIN!

I had an hour before stadium and I still hadn't walked xc.  So I tucked Seneca back in her stall, super hubs, Georgia and I head out to walk the course.  Except there was no course to walk.  There were no other riders out walking, and all the numbers had been pulled from the jumps.  *frowny confusion*  Had they cancelled xc and not told me?  Yep.

Well I was actually relieved I wanted more practice and to not have my horse trying to swim over the fences.  I had at that point fifteen minutes to get retacked in stadium gear and back up the hill to be on time.  I made it, jumped two low schooling fences once a piece, glanced at my watch and got another *frown* I was on time but the ring was not.  I circled and circled, and circled some more.  Most of the time the High Queen does not deign to stand still at events.  This time she was happy to huddle close to the other horses and stand dripping in the rain.  Meanwhile super hubs was proving his worth once again.  He was standing with the ring stewards under a small tent and the stewards kept slipping other people in ahead of me, when they had already specifically said they were going in order by rider number.  After they tried to slip four more horses in front of me he got very vocal about the unfairness of doing that since others who were there on time had been waiting quite a long time.

Finally it was our turn.  I had already determined because we were going to be jumping stadium on sloppy grass that I was going to trot as much as possible.  Seneca was definitely a star.  She only rubbed one fence and it stayed up. So we finished clear and on our dressage score of 47.14

And the suicidal frogs?  That's for the next post.  Next up the CT at Campbell Springs.   Keep it between the flags everyone.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Just Breathe

Being the master planner that I am I took leave from work for the day before we left for Lexington, and the day after. The day before to run errands, organize, clean, pack, and freak out.  The day after I took for unpacking, destressing, and putting my household back in order before going back to the grind.

I took off the day before so that I could limit the amount of stress I would have getting underway on Friday.  But life, well, life just wants to not just throw me a curve ball, but a hundred, aimed at my head.

First one of the minions that work for me called me while I was trying to check out at the feed store. Which made me forget I was supposed to be picking up an extra bag of feed. *sigh*  The minion leaves me a voicemail which I ignore until I get super hubs back to work. He'd taken his lunch break to go with me to the feed store to get new boots.

I dialed my voicemail and couldn't quite understand what the message was. So reluctantly I called the office.  To find totally pandemonium. My minions in the 12 freaking hours I had been on leave from work had run amuk. Damn them.  So now I have the stress of having to deal with the immediate problems, then the added stress of having to deal with the minions in person when I get back to work next week.

So I take care of that and then get the rest of my errands run and head home. Where I then turn in to a whirlwind of OCDness. Packing, packing, packing, organizing, cleaning, packing some more. Super hubs comes home we head out again for some last minute items, then return to eat dinner.  While eating pizza I log in to the VA Starter Horse Trials website to see if the ride times are up yet.

Oh they're up alright, and even though I sent my entry in on the 15th of February they freaking lost it. OMG!  And the coordinators wouldn't answer the phone. I busily start texting my eventing friend J. to vent and she tells me to email them, and not to worry.  FREAKING!  But within an hour of emailing the coordinators get everything straightened out. *Big sigh, breathe in, breathe out*

It's now 10pm, why am I still awake?  Just too wired.  But now I am off to take a shower and try to get some sleep. Because tomorrow we are off to Lexington bright and early.  Good luck to everyone competing this weekend and keep it between the flags everyone.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wicked Anticipation

The days before we leave are growing shorter and shorter. And like every other eventer on the planet the day before they leave for a horse trial there SO much to do that it seems impossible to get it all done.  There is still packing, organizing, checking, and cleaning...good God the cleaning. Not to mention super hubs needs to put the inside of my trailer dressing room back in order. He's been putting insulation in so that the next time we camp overnight in it we don't freeze to death. Not that huddling together for warmth is in anyway unwelcome.

I rode the High Queen yesterday who was actually on the quieter side except for that one crazy moment when I was about to slather her hock with vetrolin linament and my husband chose that moment to come at us with the insulation board of death. 

We worked on the BN test we have to do in Lexington, and although I forgot to do the medium and free walk across the diagonal it wasn't too bad. Seneca is still being a mare-beast about the right lead, but I think I'll ask C. about how to set her up better for the transition when I see him for our xc schooling on Saturday. I am almost looking more forward to Saturday than the actual competition on Sunday. It will be the first Seneca and I get to school banks and water. Needless to say Mommy will be carrying the giant jumping bat when we venture out Saturday morning.

There are a lot of firsts this weekend.

First Time:

1. Riding at the VA Horse Center
2. Real xc schooling with Seneca over a full compliment of xc jumps.(we've schooled xc before just not any place with a big course, or more than a few fences)
3. Real horse trial competion with Seneca
4. Competing at the BN level (scared but game for it)
5. Stabling with Eventer friends (I've always been the odd man out, and never had other eventers to go to competions with)
6. Taking both horses on a long trailer ride (each have been on long rides, but not together)
7. Taking Cowboy to the trainer (it's been a long time coming, and can't wait to see how well he does)

I don't know how this weekend will turn out, but it should be a lot of fun, and at the very least a learning experience.  Keep it between the flags everyone!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Jumpers Log

I let the High Queen have yesterday off. I abused my ankle pretty badly on Tuesday so I needed a break more than she did. Today I put the jumps back up from the low setting I'd had on Tuesday.  I didn't measure them, didn't want to psyche myself out. I only want to know the height of the jump after I've jumped it. Because if I've already jumped it and then know what it is I feel more confident the next time.

The mare-beast was pretty quiet today, of course it was 85 degrees too, combine that with the fact that Seneca isn't shed out and you get a pretty quiet mare. I did not press for too much dressage today. Nope I had my eye set on the really big oxer I'd set up weeks ago and hadn't jumped yet.

So I prepped by jumping all the other jumps first. Two were only about 2ft,  the other was larger and I hadn't sticked it yet.  When I'd successfully gotten over those I aimed for the oxer.   The first time, SUPER scary, but she went over just barely tapping the top rail with her hind feet.

The second time around she jumped it big and beautifully.  I even cantered a few, not the bigs ones, I'm not there yet. Someday soon though.

Later I went out and put a measureing tape on the jumps.  The big verticle was right at 2'6", and the oxer was 2'8"   WOO HOO! Grand Prix here we come!  Or at least Beginner Novice.

Keep it between the flags everyone.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Adhesives Make the World Go Round

I returned home to the farm last Friday evening, just in time to feed my horses. My husband left the job for me knowing it is one of my favorite parts of the day. So I didn't get a real good look at my mare until the next morning.  While her head has healed fabulously(now I can take her to the two HT's I have left in March without everyone thinking that I am a horse abuser), she dropped some weight while I was gone. Damn that OTTB penchant for dropping weight in the blink of an eye.

I had not realized how much the beet pulp I was feeding her in the evenings helped maintain her weight until I left for two weeks and didn't have my husband give it to her. I hate making feeding time a fuss for my husband, or anyone who is feeding my horses. And having to measure out then soak, then remember to give her the beet pulp on top of everything else my husband was doing seemed like too much.

Until I got home and saw the weight my mare dropped. *le sigh*  So off to the feed store to stock up on more beet pulp, rice bran, and alfalfa cubes.  The beet pulp I have fed Seneca off and on (usually just in the winter) for a couple of years, the alfalfa cubes(again usually just in winter) as well. The rice bran was something new.  I'm only adding about 2 cups per feeding to ease her in to eating it. Although she seems to think it's quite tasty. I tested this theory by offering it up plain on my palm and nearly lost a finger as she devoured the pellets, simultaneously shoving her pasturemate out of the way. Bossy beast.

I was not able to ride Saturday, and it was really cold anyway. But managed the time yesterday afternoon. The mare beast stood easily for grooming and tacking and was semi-decent for flatwork. Until I started asking for the canter. The left lead canter was a holy freaking cow moment. I prepared, then slipped my right leg back and Seneca literally exploded in to the canter. *BLINK*  Where did that come from? She has never given me the canter quickly or with that much enthusiasm.  The right lead was sort of eh. She gave it to me but only after getting the wrong one twice.

And then I started trying to practice the BN "B" test. Holy pull-fest Batman! The mare beast did not want to do dressage that afternoon and made quite sure I was aware of this by torquing her nose and yanking on my hands. We missed the departure mark for the right lead canter and it was just all ugly after that.

Okay sparky, lets try the new jumps since we are not going to be a happy dressage pony today. We argued for several minutes before I decided that fighting with her was getting me no where. I see formal dressage lessons in our future. The jumping was pretty good. She hopped over all the new jumps except the big scary oxer that I did not ask her to attempt. I could use the excuse of the still slightly crappy footing, but really I was just apprehensive about it.

What's crazy is that in any other environment, ie a HT, a lesson, or schooling with friends, provided the footing was good I would have done it. But at home with no one pushing me I am sooo the chicken.

We did however canter several jumps. I think that scares me more than anything else. It isn't as if I haven't cantered and hand galloped courses before. I've done it tons, it's just scary when you haven't done it for awhile. And I am totally showing my Adult Amateur side right now, but I'm working on my confidence issues.

This weekend it's off to PC mock trial. The last outing before the VA Starter Trials!  Woo hoo!  Seneca will be sporting her new bib clip.  Basically I clipped from under her throat down to her chest muscles. It's to help her keep cool since looking at the weather it's going to be in the 70's for both competitions. Plus I wanted my girl to look her most fabulous!

And to help that along I shopped a bit while I was at my parents, and a bit before.  I can usually halt my shop-aholicness, but when a big HT gets near its like I'm a runaway on a 4**** xc.  Weee ditch that rider in the water jump and gallop until they catch me!

So the High Queen has fancy new xc boots and stadium boots, I have a spectacular new xc helmet cover in my colors (navy and silver), a xc shirt in silver(thank you Kerrits! The only place I could find one), a new pair of breeches(I have an ongoing war with trying to find the perfect pair of breeches, whole other story), an extra stock tie, a snuggly warm vest, a medium weight blanket for the High Queen and a couple of other odds and ends.  Say it with me eBay is your friend!

But why, you ask, is the blog title talking about adhesives? I have a slight obsession with Gorilla tape. I have used it for pretty much everything. Last year I used it to help keep the High Queen's hoof meds on. I used it to patch both Seneca and Cowboy's turn-out sheets(even after a year in the weather and washer the tape never came off Cowboy's. I just recently patched Seneca's.) I use it to mark my storage containers with the contents of said container. And last but not least I used white Gorilla tape to tape over every conceivable sharp edge on the inside of the trailer. Wouldn't want the High Queen mutilating herself again this weekend.

No riding for me today. Work, damn you, is keeping me until 4pm, then I have to fight traffic to get home, which will get me to the farm between 5pm and 5:30.  Nope not gonna ride today, but I might be able to groom the Queen. I am hoping for an insanely warm day this week to give her a bath. Here's hoping. Until next time keep it between the flags everyone.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Making Time

It's funny that you make plans, you train, you pay the entry fees, and then life gets in the way. Over last weekend I visited with my parents. My dad has been sick for a long time and I didn't know how far his health had deteriorated until my recent visit.

I went home on Sunday and then Monday I went in to work and requested two weeks emergency leave and then Tuesday I spent running errands and setting up the house and horses for me to be gone for two weeks.  My husband is many things but a shopper he is not.   So I outfitted the refrigerator with foods he can cook easily, and hit the feed store to stock up so hubs wouldn't have to make the trek.

Which meant that I had to scratch from two horse trials. Thankfully I just emailed the coordinators and had my entry fees applied to the next horse trial in the series.  They were really accomadting, have to love the eventing community!

Dad's doing okay, but the rest of the family is in a hold and wait pattern, bracing for the worst.

So cherish the days you have with the people you have.  And keep it between the flags everybody.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bonding and Bandaging

The High Queen has always been pretty good about being doctored. Which is handy considering how many times she's managed to hurt herself.

So while she's healing and I'm not riding I've been rearranging the jumps my husband made me for my birthday, installing the new jump cups on them, going over every inch of the trailer for sharp edges( I still can't fathom how she managed to cut herself so badly.) stacking our new supply of hay, and waiting patiently for the new eventing boots I ordered to protect the Queen while jumping.

Our next outting will be in two weeks at the Crescent Bay Pony Club again although it will be at a different venue this time.  We will also be going out at Beginner Novice this time as our first prep for the Virginia Starter Horse Trials.

We will also be going to a lesson with C on the day before the CBPC Horse Trial. Sooo excited about that.  So until we can ride again here are some pictures of the High Queen in all her wild glory.

Did I forget to mention Seneca also escaped during the horse trial?  Me and my friend J. recapturing the escapee.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

God Doesn't Give Perfect Days

I took the High Queen to her first horse trial today. Our dressage was less then stellar. Seneca forgot the meaning of "halt" and then proceeded to be a giraffe for the rest of the test. Stadium went pretty well after Seneca actually realized what we were doing. She refused the first jump but after that was great until we got to the far end of the ring.  There were all these empty travel chairs and Seneca did NOT want to go past the scary horse eating chairs.

Finally we got past that and tackled everything in the ring including the big scary jump with the brick look-a-like pillar posts.

Then we moved on to XC.  She was pretty fabulous, the footing was horrid, and there was a really ugly hogs back looking skinny fence on the course. She didn't even bat a lash at that, she did hesitate at the barrels jump, and horse devouring green gate.

We earned two shiny red second place ribbons for our efforts.  I watched the rounds of my new eventing friends and then loaded up the mare to go home.   In the exactly seven minute trailer ride the High Queen managed scrape up her butt, her shoulder, and gauged a nasty cut just above her left eye.  The only saving grace is that she didn't damage her eye.

*sigh*  Sometimes I think she hates me. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Too Lucky to Be True

Mostly I blog about my horses, they are my love, my passion, some might say Obsession. But no horse person is an island. Even the amateur rider who only shows locally has a supporting cast waiting in the wings to help, and the professionals have a cast of thousands.

For me, a socially awkward, adult amateur on a budget my supporters are few, though the list is growing longer every day. At the top of that list is my husband of fifteen years. He's given up countless weekends, driven hundreds of miles, slogged through mud and rain to feed my horses, and not to mention the financial  output to keep me and the horses clothed and properly equipped.

So when Christmas rolls around I don't expect big gifts. Most of my gifts come throughout the year. I got three huge ones this past year and told my husband repeatedly I didn't need gifts this year. Because Christmas is the beginning of a three month gift train. There is Christmas, then my wedding anniversary in January followed by my birthday in February. So my husband doesn't have it easy.

This year he went above and beyond. At Christmas I received jewelry, and a beach holiday with my husband and my family. For my anniversary/birthday(we just combined this year due to time and schedules) I received a new show jumping helmet, new boots(A present to myself as with my ankle injury I can't get in to my old pull-ons anymore), and then hubs pulled out the big guns.  He updated the lighting on my trailer and built me show jumps. HE BUILT ME JUMPS!  OMG!  And he did the dishes, twice. I don't know what I did to diserve him but I'm am so happy. Thank you horsey powers that be for sending me such a great guy.

Cold Truth

While at the lesson with Chris Hitchcock I learned of another eventer in my area who was also riding with Chris. I had been emailing and texing J. back and forth for a few weeks but had not yet met her when I loaded up the mare last Saturday.

J. had invited me to go schooling at Lionheart Equestrian out in Suffolk with a few other riders this past Saturday. As I was prepping the trailer and the High Queen for the 1hr journey it was not that cold. It was in the mid-fifties at my little farm as I put the Queen in to the trailer. I texted my neighbor to let her know that the Spotted Beast's temper tantrums were about to ensue then headed out the gates of the farm for Suffolk. This would be the first time I had taken any of my horses further than 20 minutes away on my own. I admit manuvering through early Saturday morning traffic was nerve wracking but the trip was uneventful.

As I pulled in to Lionheart I easily drove my trailer in to a great parking spot and began meeting all my new eventing buddies.  I can't tell you how great it was to be with other eventers! I even got a lesson and some coaching out of it from a trainer who came with two the younger riders in our group.

Seneca was great in the grid exercise we were doing up until the point that we added a third and fourth jump to the line of poles.  With only a jump at the begining and the end she was fabulous! No kicking in to over drive at all. But she started ducking and refusing when we pressed her by adding the two jumps in the middle.

After, I jumped a couple of 2ft show jumps then watched the other riders who were doing a higher level than I. When they went off to school the xc course J. switched to her other horse and I put the jumps back down to a more appropriate height for the High Queen.  I did leave several of the verticals up in the 2'6-2'8" range  because I wanted to see if Seneca would bulk at the larger fences. I really want to go Beginner Novice this year. My intent is to go to the schooling trial around the corner from my house this weekend and do the 2ft division, and then use the other three schooling events coming up to move in to the Beginner Novice division culminating with going to the Starter Horse Trials at the Virginia Horse Center at the end of March.

Everything so far is encouraging me that we can do this. It will be a big and scary move but it gives me a real chance at the ultimate goal for this fall which is my first recognized horse trial. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. J. has promised to help me in Lexington using her horse as a lead for the High Queen so that she can get comfortable with the things we have to do like the water complex, and the banks, two things we haven't done yet. And there is a pretty scary looking ditch and rail that I keep telling myself is just as wide as a coop but my heart says different when I look at it on the videos.

The rest of the schooling went fairly well. The High Queen did not like the coop in the show jump ring, but I made her go over it and then she was fine. The only other incident happened later. I was waiting for J. to finish schooling her higher level horse and go with me out to xc fences. I was just wandering about letting Seneca look at things. What she was looking at were the little herd of wandering farm ponies and she lost her mind. She spooked, I lost my grip, she took off and I hit the ground.  I had a moment to hope that I didn't reinjure my leg before I watched Senca's shiny brown butt going full out racehorse mode back to the trailer.

The trainer who had come with the other riders caught her and brought her back to me, making sure I was okay in the process. I assured her I was other than feeling like a fool. I did get to school a few xc fences with J. acting as lead pony with her ISH mare.

All in all other than the freezing cold(it was at least 10 degrees colder in Suffolk) it was a good day. Next up the schooling trial at Summer's End. Wish us luck!

Keep it between the flags everybody.