Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Somewhere towards the middle of last week I had stopped believing I was going to be able to go to the Dom Schramm clinic and I stopped hunting for all those odds and ends and I stopped packing/organizing for the trip.  Friday morning before I left for work Fox still looked hitchy in the front to my eyes but I figured that the Farrier Fairy K. coming out wasn't going to do any harm and she fit me in to her schedule for Friday afternoon.

K. arrived and she looked, she squinted, I walked and trotted Fox for her. K. said she really couldn't see this hitch I had been talking to her about.  Incidently when I'd arrived home that afternoon not only couldn't I see it but the persnickety beast jumped the then water filled ditch that runs down my small back pasture. Seriously?  This is the pony who had been gimping around all week. And now he was calling me a paranoid liar in front of my farrier.  Excellent.

K.  trimmed up his feet and we both discussed the possible work Fox would be doing over the weekend and that he would definetly need to go back in to his Easy Boots arena with footing or not.  I agreed and if it kept Fox sound I'd happily look like a dork eventing in trail boots.

The Clinic Day 1: 

Challenge Number 1:  Finding the farm.  My GPS can sometimes be lets say mentally challenged telling me too soon, too often, or too late when I should make a turn.  So I missed the turn in to Rose Equestrian's driveway the first time and had to find a suitable place for my long rig to turn around. A church parkinglot helped with that and we were soon settled in the trailer parking at the farm.

Challenge Number 2:  There is no shade in trailer parking and it's 11am in the middle of July.  But I have an awning. Which I have only rolled out at home with Superhubs directing.  I can do this!  Out came the awning and my wonderful pony who settled in to his plow horse routine happily hung out in its shade.

Challenge Number 3:  I belatedly discover that I need to change the gullet plate in the saddle I'll be riding in about 30 minutes before I need to be up at the arena.  Fan-freaking-tastic.  Dig for a screw driver, quick change, throw tack and gear on the pony, throw gear on myself, struggle into the field boots I only wear to big shows and off we go. Thankfully I wasn't the only one running late so only a little embarassment.

Challenge Number 4:  Because my horse is the greenest I will now automatically go first for every exercise.  Brilliant!  First exercise trot then canter through these ground poles.  *Gulp*  I've been cantering Fox a bit at home but not over poles yet.  Come on Wonder Pony!  And we successfully manage that.

Challenge Number 5:  This will be only the second time Fox has seen a real show jumping course will Wonder Pony rise to the occasion?  There were a few "EEK a SCARY FENCE!" moments but Fox made it over everything.  We made turns, steering can sometimes still be an issue, jumped things that Fox found scary and generally had a great time.

Challenge Number 6: Will Wonder Pony get back in to the trailer without fuss so I can leave him to watch the other lessons.  I'm quite sure I could have left him standing tied to the trailer without issues but for my own sanity I wanted him back in.  He made a try at being stubborn but after a few minutes he got back in settled in to eat hay and bask under his fan.

Challenge Number 7:  Do I submit to the jet blast of cold water in the barn's shower or go for a sponge and bucket bath?  I braved it, shrieking like a five year old girl, and managed to get all the sweat of the day off and wash my hair.

Clinic Day 2:

Challenge Number 1:  Again as I have the greenest horse we were the trail blazers for everything.  Could we improve on the day before and get Fox out of this immediate break check, peek at the fence then lurch over thing he'd been doing.  YES!  Judicious use of my jumping bat about two or three strides out had Wonder Pony rocking back, lifting his feet and actually producing a big boy jump. Who knew an actually jumper lurked in there?

Challenge Number 2: The Corner Jump.  EEEK! From both me and Fox.  I'd never jumped a corner, not even with Seneca so this was new and a bit scary, but we managed it.  I had to one hand the reins, the other swatting him on the butt but we leaped our first corner!

Challenge Number 3: Remaining silent and unresponsive when a couple of obviously not eventer people started making catty comments about a rider in the ring.  They were awful and the other eventer I was sitting with and I went dead silent and just tried to ignore them.

Challenge Number 4:  Managing to get my trailer turned around in a tight area without having to back up too much, AND without mangling either the truck, the trailer or anything else.  DID IT! So proud of that one.

So over all Fox and I had a fantastic weekend.  We learned alot about jumping, I learned alot about my pony and myself.  Dom was fabulous!  He was funny and informative.  He likes to not only tell you what to do but how to do it and why you're doing it.  As in doing A.  will produce this result and this is why and how it effects the over all ride.  He was tough but fair as long as you listened and tried to implement what he was teaching you.

Fox will now get about a month off as I deal with work trips and other vile things.  There will be grooming thrown in there but that's it until I get back in mid-August. Then we'll focus on flatwork and jumping basics with a goal of trying to go to a starter trial in October or November.

And yes I was an extreme fan girl. At the end of day two along with all the teenage riders I lined up so that Dom could sign my XC helmet.  I'm hoping he will come back again and we can show him how much we've improved.  And my eventing love has been sparked a bit more.  Keep it between the flags everyone.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Plan Meet Hoofprints

And as soon as I started getting all my plans in order Fox's ears pricked up and he threw his hoofprints all over them.  Thank you Amazing, Lame in Millisecond Pony! 

It's true I came home yesterday afternoon from work and while Superhubs and I were putting the groceries away I glanced out the glass inserts in the kitchen door that overlooks Fox's pasture.  Stare, stare, frown, frown harder.  Is he....God no!  He is!  At first he was just very slightly off, a minute hesitation in his walk.  Damn it.  Then I made the monumental mistake of thinking he might like a chance to graze on the lush grass of the front yard since his current pasture is more of a holding area to let the main pastures recover for a couple of weeks before they get grazed on again.

Silly me. What was I thinking trying to be kind to my horse.  Because even though his two best buddies were clearly right across the driveway.  He threw a tantrum and even after he mostly calmed down and stopped racing and leaping around the yard he still threw minor tantrums for the next hour. I finally decided that his screaming was more damaging than letting him have a few flakes of hay to keep him happy.  And when I went to fetch him he was even more off.

I had hoped the magical horse healing fairy would visit him in the night but no such luck he still looked gimpy this morning.  I felt him all over for heat, none, then I palpated his shoulder which he had tweaked once before.  For that I got angry faces, twitching, tail lashing and pawing.  I called my farrier out to make sure its not his foot(I wanted her to look at his hooves anyway he seems to be growing at a rate quicker than my other two horses) and I'm going to cold hose him as well as do some massage.  I am crossing my fingers that this thing resolves before Friday morning.  If it doesn't.  SIGH!! No clinic for us.  It's not like I didn't spend a scarily large amount of money to go which included the registration, the stall fees, the gas, the food, the replacement and augmenting of gear. Naww it's okay Pony Boy it's not like I reallly wanted to ride with Dom Schramm.

I swear he planned this.  Keep it between the flags everyone.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

A List, a Plan, a Journey

I am one of those people that is perfectly happy to do spontaneous things...to a point.  If it involves a long trip, my horse, or packing more than one set of clothing there better be a plan involved somewhere. I haven't been driving my full rig of truck+trailer all that long. Yes I can get it in and out of the driveway which most times is the worst part of any trip and I can go various places with only a small amount of heart palpitations.  But hauling my trailer longer than an hour to a place I have never been fills me with a special kind of fear.  The kind of fear that screams for me to hide under the bed and never come out. A plan, a solid plan with back up plans is the only way that I have learned to keep the brain eating fear demons at bay.

I have a little less than a week until I must load the red pony and trek the 2.5 hours west in preparation for the Dom Schramm clinic. This weekend because I couldn't ride (don't ask just way too many factors got in the way including Hurricane Arthur) so what did I do? I obsessed. I cleaned the inside of my trailer, took out all those things that get thrown in there but really don't need to be there, I organized  everything in to neat and tidiness, I drove to Wal-Mart and bought 2 battery operated fans to keep Fox cool, I raided my hay/storage shed for things I don't use on a regular basis like shipping boots and stall guards.  In short my anxiety got channeled in to cleaning and farm chores.  Whilst the red pony and his barn mates the Crack Beast, and the Brown Hippo(she is so massive right now I cut her grain in half) grazed on summer grass I cleaned the inside of my house, did dishes, put a crockpot meal together, made cupcakes from scratch, mowed every concievable piece of lawn/pasture that needed it and groomed both Fox and Seneca.  Oh yeah and I started doing the massive amounts of horse laundry to include my three best saddle pads, Fox's fly sheet which also needs mending, and a couple of other odds and ends. Plus I loaded both Fox (to make sure he wouldn't spaz about the fan I put in for his comfort on the trip) and Seneca (Just to keep her on her toes and make sure that in an emergency like a bigger, badder hurricane headed our way, that I could load her.)

I did all this on Sunday because Saturday I felt like total crap from having spent the night before tossing and turning trying to get comfortable on the folding cot I set-up in my office for when I have duty and have to spend the night at the command babysitting.  I forgot to grab my camp mat and as I have bony hips and am well past my teens I had a rough night and paid for it on Saturday.

So what does the rest of my week look like?  Well lots more things to do.  I wasn't able to wrangle Friday off of work like I wanted so I could spend a leisurely morning doing the final packing and make a nice unstressed trip to Powhatan. So instead I have to pack my trailer on Thursday evening with everything but the hay I'm taking, then Friday as soon as Superhubs gets home with the truck he'll hitch it up for me so that I when I get home a couple hours later I can just load the pony and go.

Which still leaves me with washing the outside of the trailer, packing my own clothing/tack/gear, double checking that I have things like feed, supplements, water buckets ect, bathing Fox on Thursday evening and throwing Seneca's fly sheet on him to keep his clean for the journey, and oh yeah last but not least actually riding my horse!

I did get to ride earlier last week despite the awful heat.  I did a fitness ride following Jimmy Woffords fitness for event horses plan.  We can easily do 9 minutes of trot with 2 minutes of walk between each 3 minute set.  And, and AND! We cantered! not for huge stretches of time but I asked and Fox gave without a whole lot of fuss.  So now I know where the canter button on my horse is. I just need to ride him a few times this week to make sure that button is fully functioning before we go to the clinic so that we don't embarass ourselves.

A couple of my friends are planning to come to the clinic so hopefully we'll have some awesome photos from our adventure! Until then keep it between the flags everyone!