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.