Monday, September 29, 2014

Hands On

Another dose of me talking about my super awesome pony. I know you ought to be getting sick of it by now but I just can't help myself.  Saturday I had to work but Sunday I put in a solid three hours of farm chores and other ridiculous tasks like dishes and vaccuming.  Then I reset my jump course including having Superhubs help me move the coop he built me over Labor Day weekend that I hadn't been able to try out yet.  Though I did paint it! Photos to come.

So I moved most of my jumps around so I could have a bit of a dressage area and a new pattern for the jumps though I left one of the jumps alone since I really do love its position in the field.  I also, ingeniously if I do say so myself, made a psuedo liverpool by painting two 1 by 4 sized boards with blue paint and positioning the boards under the jump.   With the jumps all rearranged I decided to push our limits and without measuring the actual height I set the jumps a bit bigger than I usually would.  I wasn't completely worried because Wonder Pony had been jumping two feet at the last couple of outtings.  So away I went to prep the pony for a jump school.

Which took over 30 minutes because fuzzy, red ponies who shall remain nameless have decided their coats need extra moisturizing with copious mud baths.  He even gets it in his ears. Not just ON his ears but INSIDE THEM!  How does he even accomplish that.  My pony definitely has talent.

After suiting up with hoof boots and jumping  boots then doing some warm-ups at walk and trot I started out with just trotting my pile of twigs baby log then on to the baby cross-rail and BLOK standard jump.  The BLOK jump was set at maybe 18 inches and Pony Boy dragged his lazy self over it and bumped it. Seriously?  So next time around he earned a swat on his furry red butt which perked him up an he started making an effort.  Then on to the big X which was probably 2ft or so, then the baby vertical at 2ft.  Next it was time to suck up our courage and try the psuedo liverpool and the coop. 

Fox did a hard stop at the liverpool, mainly I wasn't aggressive enough and he wasn't foward enough so he threw on the brakes.  Back a few steps, turned around, re-present and over we went.  Then on to the coop.  Same thing, I was a bit nervous about jumping the coop, Superhubs makes solid fences if we hit that thing, or Pony Boy dragged his feet it was going to be an ugly outcome,  so Fox threw on the brakes because mommy was less than committed.  Back, turn, re-present and over we flew.  YEE-HAW!   A couple more turns over each of the fences AND at the end the Wonder Pony cantered the BLOK cross-rail!  So proud of my red, diet flavored, pint sized OTTB!  Later I went to check the height of the tallest fence which was the psuedo liverpool. 2ft 3inches!  We are almost at my goal of jumping BN height.

But the biggest improvement from yesterday's ride was in point of fact my own hands. I was reading some posts over on the Eventing Solo blog(LOVE it all over there) about how when Eventer79 jumped Solo for the first time in a long time she had to remember all those things that are just muscle memory for regular Eventing Gods like Boyd Martin, Phillip Dutton and Sinead Halpin.  The rest of us more earth bound people have to remind ourselves to do it.  Like "Thou shall not clutch at thy horse's mouth".  This one for me is a big one.  The High Queen could and did a few times attempt to run off with me.  So I had this ugly habit of thinking speed = ex-race horse having a flashback of the Derby must rein her in! Which rolled over on to Fox.  But the majority of the time Fox doesn't have those kinds of thoughts.  His are more along the lines of "Can we walk now? It's time to walk right? I think it's time to walk, so I'm just gonna slow way down and see if she notices." 

At the CT a few weeks ago I did major clutching after the fences because Pony Boy got it in to his head that the jumps were Rolex height.  So yesterday I kept repeating "Slowest OTTB on the planet, he's not running off with you, he's not running off with you."  And it worked! I remembered to stay up after the fence, leave my hands laying along his neck, let him reorganize for a few strides and then gather him back in.  We are still at Intro level and even at BN level there is a bit of distance between all the fences. I think they plan this so that people can do just what I did. Sneaky USEA people.

So with all these great rides and things is it to early to dream about qualifying for the AEC's at this point?  I'm not sure even if I could qualify that I would be able to afford to go but wouldn't it be awesome to have such a great partnership and have the kind of good training and competitions that you actually are good enough to compete against the best in the country?  My living in reality goal is to complete a recognized BN horse trial by the time I'm forty.  Which scarily enough is not that far away.  But couldn't I dream a little bigger? I mean it would be cool to go and be able to place but I'd be happy with going and completing whether it's at the bottom of the standings or not.

In three weeks Fox and I will be going to Kelly's Ford to make our assault on their Intro course.  I'm hoping just to complete, don't care about time, or even if we have a refusal that adds major points.  I just want to finish. Wish us luck.

With much excitement for this weekends Combined Trial I am definitely keeping it between the flags!

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