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.