Sunday, April 30, 2017

I'm so freakin' lucky!

Man.... I'm so blessed. This weekend has been one of those weekends where I can't help but count my blessings. The weather has been beautiful!!! I didn't have to work (other than catching up on a few little things) and I got to ride both horses both days. Ahhhhh....

Danny and I are feeling pumped for the BN3D! (aside from the ever so slight nagging worry that his stifles are bothering him). We had an amazing dressage school yesterday and he felt so fluffy and soft. Then today we had a jump lesson with Kelly. I told her that I felt like he just sort of flops around the BN fences loping casually over them. I realize that they are easy for him and he doesn't have to try, but... I want him poppier and pushing off that hind end more. She agreed. So we did an awesome exercise. 

We had a vertical set up with a canter pole before it. It was a decent sized vertical but not too bad. Kelly told me to ride to the pole and let him figure it out. It rode decently and she asked if I felt like he was taking a long spot. I told her that it actually felt pretty nice. So yay. So then we added a second pole. Egads... This is where it got interesting. The whole point was to get Dan poppier and pushing with the hind end rather than just... ha ha... Kelly had a demonstration of what Dan was doing... Picture Sid from Ice Age.... Her demo was hilarious. But exactly... he needs to learn to sit and push and pop rather than just float around. And he learned! The two canter poles eventually turned into 3. And it wasn't perfect every time. But he learned. I was to look at the pole and aim for it like it was the jump, then once we got lined up, look up to the trees. My job was not to help him... but to allow him to figure it out on his own. I could close my right leg to help with his right drift, but let him make mistakes. And he did. But the super cool part was that he also learned from his mistakes. He came in and floundered and then tried something different the next time. And by the end, while it wasn't perfect every time, he was bouncy and poppy and pushing!!!! So then we added another fence to see how smart he was. We came down the line of canter poles to the fence (oh and she added a canter pole on the back side too) and then we turned right or left and came back perpendicular to the line to jump a coop. The goal was to see if he kept the same poppy canter to that fence that he had with the poles, but without the help of the poles. The first time we totally failed! It was my fault and I abandoned him. We came around and I cut my corner and basically aimed him at the standard. Then I saw the long spot and just threw him away. So he chipped in and got over it but it was ugly. And soooooo far right it was insane we made it over without taking the standard with us. The second and third times were much better. And he still kept that poppy jump over it. :)

Kelly even said that she was impressed. She said that she's always been impressed with his flat work but his jumping always left her thinking "Well, he's young... ". But she said that she was thrilled with how he used his brain today and developed a fifth leg. :) She also said that this wasn't something I needed to drill, but once or twice a month would be great. She said this should be confirmed by the time we're ready to do our first one star. So we've got plenty of time. But there's no reason not to start progressing up with the expectations. :) 

So yep... Super fun lesson. It was exactly what we needed.

Then I pulled his saddle and we had a nice bareback canter to the lake to play and splash and soak his legs. And of course.. because it was hot and we were bareback, he didn't want to swim. ;) We splashed a bit and then headed back in. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Glorious Day!

Wow... what a pretty pretty day!

Today I got up early and headed to Ashland to ride. Kelli and I got started early and did some dressage. I warmed Dan up and he felt really good. We did our transitions, with sitting before, and we worked on all the things we've been working on in our last few lessons. 

Then I ran through the Novice Test as that's what we're riding at the BN3D. And it was LOVELY! Like... other than one slight head bob in an upward transition it was beautiful! Our free walk felt like a 9 or 10. He felt REALLY Good. So yeah, I think we'll be okay for next weekend if I can keep riding like that. 

Then we met Peri and George and went for a short trail ride. It was such a pretty day and we had fun. :) 

Tomorrow we have a jump lesson and then I'll take him for a bareback hack. :) And Swim!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Vista

 Today I was supposed to have a lesson with Beth at The Vista, but she had to cancel. So I sweet talked Peri into coming with me. I decided that Dan and I needed another cross country school before the BN3D. Or maybe I just got excited about it. :) Either way, I wanted to go. And it worked out well because it sounds like it rained a good chunk of the day at home. But the weather is Aiken was great. It was hot and humid but there was a decent breeze and a cloud cover.

I managed to get my trailer picked up for Sundowner and get Dan and then Peri and then we got to the Vista by 12:30. So not too bad. We tacked up and headed out. The tadpole, amoeba, BN, novice field had a ton of stuff. And a ton of trees. We warmed up and then just started jumping. We got a little carried away and started jumping and kept jumping. There was just so many options. But poor Dan was zigging and zagging! There was just so many trees and jumps and I couldn't find my line so we were boinging all over the place. Plus with the humidity... so he was a little behind my leg. Plus I think he was a bit bored. We jumped all the novice fences and.... then we decided that it was enough for that field. He kept cross cantering and I was worried he was sore, but I think now it was just the directional challenges I was presenting to him.

After we finished in that field we went into the water complex and let them have a drink. Then Peri and I took turns trotting and cantering through the water. I decided that Dan and I would then walk off the bank into the water. It was a fairly substantial bank, I thought. So we were trotting around and turned to trot towards it and he locked on, so I kept trotting. Then two strides out he broke to the canter on his own accord and just leapt off, but in a polite normal way. Whooo hoo!! Brave boy! Peri told us to go on and jump the red cabin.... but I was looking at the prelim one and decided it was too big. Then I saw the training one she meant, so we circled and did that. Then there was another training cabin... so we did that. :)

Training Level Cabin

There were a few more I was tempted but I decided that we were well prepared for the 3 day and I didn't want to create an issue, tempting as some of them were. I probably would have jumped the fallen tree that was flagged for prelim, but... another day. :)

So yep.. fun day! Peri did super too and we both got a lot accomplished. :) 

Improve that 23.2. :)

More push off the hiney... more sproing

Good lesson!!

Also, he's very responsive to my seat... keep those heels down and not standing in my stirrups

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Beth Lesson

Better connection....

sit 5 strides in transitions

keep the connection in the transitions

leg yield, start with tletting the shoulders lead and then correct

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Lessoning again

Need to move the inside shoulder to the outside. He's not falling out so much as falling in... I feel like he's falling out but it's because he's leaning in...

Inside leg respect... use the whip on my leg or near the girth if he's not respecting it. Cadence... boing!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Fitness Ride

So... It's dawned on me that we leave soon for the BN3D. Like in two weeks!! Holy moly! I didn't get to do my lesson yesterday because my trailer tire was going to explode. That's what the deal was on the way to Fence. Sigh... So I had to get that taken care of. BUT... luckily I finished early enough to get a ride in today. So yay.

I wanted to go to the horse park but when I got there, the trails were closed. Sigh. So I went back to Ashland and we had a good time. I was playing with times and such and it looks like for the 3 day we have to do
  •  phase A: 11 minutes at 220 mpm, and for 2420 meters. (which translates to 1.5 miles).  And it turns out Dan can do a mile trotting in 7 minutes. So... check
  • phase B: 1200 m at 400 mpm (no jumps). Pretty sure that's a check
  • phase C: 4620 m  at 220 mpm in 21 minutes (which tranlastes to 2.8 miles). So I think we're still good. 
  • Phase D: XC!!
So anyways... we played around and ended up doing 6.9 miles in 1.5 hrs. We did two 7 minute trot sets, 1 3 minute canter set, and then another few sets of trots and canters but not times specifically. Lots of walking too. And he wasn't that winded or that sweaty. :)

It was a good ride. But man I need to work on my two point. :)

Monday, April 17, 2017

A VERY successful recognized eventing debut

I am SUCH a proud momma!! Little rugrat is growing up and kicking butt. :) This weekend was so much fun, and so stressful. I was wound a little tight apparently. But... it all ended well. SOOOO much better than I would have ever imagined!!!!

 So... Friday morning started off well enough. I managed to get packed and ready to go and even had time to give Dan a bath. Bridget came with me and drove to my place so I had company. We were trucking along and making good time when I noticed that my truck was vibrating fairly aggressively. I thought it was the roads and kept switching lanes but it wasn't helping. Then some lady started waving at us as she drove by pointing at the back and mouthing the words TIRE. Okay... thanks!! That might explain the vibrations! I pulled off at the next exit and looked. The tires all looked fine.... but the fender on the right side had two cracks in it and had warped in and was rubbing against my tire. Apparently it was smoking or something. Sigh... Luckily I am prepared and used my crowbar I kept handy to wedge it out and we got back on the way. Unfortunately the vibrations had wiggled loose the already loose tie hitch and apparently popped off one of the hinges on my divider. Sigh... So I was super frustrated about that... and life in general apparently. 

I got Dan unloaded and let him sit in his stall for a few minutes but then it was time to ride. So we tacked up and went to the arena. It was not pretty at first. :( I was frustrated and then we did the right circle and I was getting so frustrated with his right overbend and my inability to fix it.... I really was about to cry. BUT... Beth fixed it!!! I don't really think she said anything differently than Cindy and Kelly, but... she did tell me something TO DO that really clicked in my brain. She told me to think of creating the connection with my elbow. No wiggling my hand, no piano hands, no crossing over the neck.... but having something TO DO to focus on made a big difference. And suddenly... it worked! He was straight and in between his shoulder blades and bent lovely and over his back and through. And sure, at first he was really heavy in the connection but it got better as I got better about keeping the elasticity in my elbow. AHHHH.... Yay!!! We FIXED IT!!!! I've been struggling with that for too many rides now so I'm so glad that my brain clicked in finally and then my body clicked in and now I can fix it. After that we did a little hack about and let him familiarize himself with the area. The covered arena wasn't scary in the beginning. ;)


So then we went and walked XC. It was a fun course. I won't lie.. the jumps looked a little small and I was a little sad I wasn't running novice (although I hadn't looked at the whole novice course) but I was still a little worried about the ditch, the bank and the water. The ditch was the one he had jumped first without being phased when schooling but it was going uphill instead of downhill and didn't have any other jumps associated with it.Then the bank was downhill and there was an option of going beside the bank (it was flagged with an "out") but that wasn't an option for us. They did put a hay bale on the end, which almost made it spookier. It was a tiny drop though. Then the water... well, it was the water. It was a fun skinny jump then 4 or so strides into the water, then out of the water, and over the Tryon horse. :) Then a few more fences and done. Really nothing too complicated, but... again, there was still a concern over the bank and ditch and water. 
 While we were all grazing Danny and Mighty became best buds. Hee hee. They had so much fun. :)
Bitey Face Games

We all decided to camp out so we had a potluck dinner at the trailers and then I retreated to my trailer to sleep. It was quite comfy and the weather was perfect. But I didn't sleep great for whatever reason. Nerves??

Saturday morning I got up and took Dan for a little walk. Right as we walked past the covered arena with him they turned the sprinklers on. Poor Dan. Those gosh darn sprinklers... And they were hitting the trash cans too so they made a horrible noise. Poor Dan. He spooked and bolted and almost ran me over. Sigh... I laughed and said "I bet that's the arena I have to ride in too!". And of course.. it was. He settled down once we got past it and then we decided to braid. Oh my gosh!! He was terrible. I got so frustrated because I had butchered his mane with the solocomb that I don't know how to use so the braids were all ratty. Then his mane was still way too thick... So after I got about 6 braids in, I gave up, pulled them out, and decided to try thinning his mane some. Then I started braiding again. And Dan was terrible. He was fussy and dancing and wouldn't stand still. Then he broke the cross ties. I was about ready to sell him. Or roach his mane. But we finally managed to get it done and they didn't look too wretched. From far away. :) But it was done. So I put him back in his stall because I needed a moment away. I was so frustrated. After a breather, I brought him to the horse trailer to groom, adjust real quick and laser. I adjusted his sternum and his neck and then when I went to laser his stifle, he threatened to kick me. So I had to yell at him then. I put him back and changed clothes and then it was time to get on. So we tacked up and headed to warm up. We were a bit earlier than I had wanted so we walked around a bit, made friends with the volunteers, got complimented, and we both settled. Beth came and warmed us up and he felt really really good!! Soon enough it was our turn. We headed over to the covered and he walked right in. But as we went past the judge's tent, the wind blew and flapped the tent. Dan did the butt tuck and scoot thing. And then he was all animated and jiggy. Then another big noise spooked him again and he squirted across a few more strides. He was up and high and inverted and a little scared. So we started trotting and the plan was to enter and track left so we were on the left bend and just as we passed A, the judge rang the bell. Seriously?! So now I've got to settle the poor freaked out giraffe and turn around. But... we did a circle and then turned and trotted into the arena. And it was like magic. As soon as we entered he took a breath and within 4 strides or so we reverted back to fancy pants instead of giraffe. He put in a LOVELY test and was just so supple and soft and round and polite. In the free walk I wanted a bit more reach and accidentally kicked him too hard so he broke into a jig for about half a step or two but then settled. I was so proud of him. It was a lovely test, especially after our scoots and bolts. :) 

He got rinsed off and I pulled out his braids and let him chill for a bit while I went to cheer on the others. I got a text from a friend that said that Dan must have put on his fancy pants. So I went and checked online scores. 23.2!!!!!!!!!!!! What the?!?!?! Seriously? For reals??? We scored a 23.2?!?!?! That had to be a typo. I'm still a little bit wondering if it's real! We were in first of all those had been scored but there was only 13 of the 21 scored. Holy moly!!! Now the pressure was really on. When I saw that my division had 21 riders I didn't really think that we would have fared that well. So then I got really nervous but luckily it was about time to get ready. I decided I didn't want to know if we had stayed in first after they finished scoring or not. 

We got tacked up and headed over to XC. Poor Dan. He was super good but we were a little bit by ourselves when we had to cross the underpass. Dan got a bit spooky as we were under the bridges and three cars had come up behind him. They were super nice about it and stayed really far back (Thanks Simon Eades!) and I managed to keep Dan under control. We trotted a bit and caught up with other ponies and he settled. The start box was actually at the top of the hill so we had to walk up that way. Three cute girls on a team and all wearing matching tack came up behind us and then started trotting. After they passed us Dan was like... Um No! and took off after them. I felt so bad because it was such a cute photo of them the mom was trying to take and Dan and I totally photobombed them. But I couldn't get him away. Oops. We got to warm up and warmed up. Beth told me that I was letting him lope around on a long rein and had no control of his gaits and needed to collect him and direct him. So we did and then it got better. She had us do a few walk to canter to walk transitions to sharpen him up. She said that when he was long and my reins were long, I didn't have enough connection to be able to steer and control if he thought about running out. And it allowed him to get on his forehand and strung out, thus inviting a run out. The plan was to get him more collected and shorter distance from tail to nose and then I could steer. I was also supposed to trot before the ditch, bank and water. 

5, 4, 3, 2, 1... have a great ride! We were off. He was polite in the start box and we picked up the canter and we were off. The first fence was polite and a bit unenthusiastic but then he got more into it. By the time we landed off fence 2 he was game on and we basically motored up the hill to 3 and squirted over that, then bolted and skidded out practically around the turn to 4. Then it was uphill to the ditch. There was no stopping that train. We blasted over the ditch and almost went careening into warm up. I managed to get him turned down the hill and headed towards the green coup. The plan was to trot down the hill so we could stay balanced. Hee hee. It was like a ping pong machine... For real. He was all over the place but I managed to get him to a trot and then we cantered to the coop. He blasted over and then we overshot the drop by a lot. We did a left turn and got to it and I managed to trot him down it. I think. Or pretty close. He didn't hesitate at all and leapt off the bank and then we went flying to the skinny, up and over and then flying gangbusters into the water!! There was no stopping and drinking or rolling here. He went flying over the water and then leapt over the tryon horse. Then I realized I should probably be conscientious of time because if I lost my first place because of speeding tickets I'd be pissed!! So we slowed up a bit and jumped the last few fences off wide turns. Speeding faults occurred at 3:30... We jumped the last fence and cantered (canter pirouette speed) the last few strides to the finish flags and by my watch we crossed over somewhere around 3:32. Doh! Turns out we were actually 3:39, so not quite as fast as I thought. But whooo hoooo!!!! Double clear!!!!

He had a blast too. Bridget came over to tell us congrats and told me that we were still in first after all of dressage scoring was done. FIRST out of 21 people!!! With a freakin' 23.2!!! Yay!!!!!!

Dan got a rinse and some grazing and I even poulticed him... cause even though it was only 14 fences and it was only 3.5 minutes.... we were in first!!!

He had a good night and slept a bit and had a few poop stains on his butt so the next morning he got grazed, walked, got a bath, and got his poultice rinsed off. After church. :) FENCE had a sunrise service that was so appreciated. It was just a 30 minute very causual meeting but it filled my soul. Yay! After Dan's bath and graze, we watched and cheered some friends and then we attempted to braid again. He was MUCH better today and there was no cussing. :) The braids didn't look great but they didn't look terrible. I walked the course and it looked little and fun. Finally it was time to get tacked up. Ugh... I wasn't really that nervous until then. I kind of just had a good feeling. And they were small fences and Dan usually isn't one to hit rails unless I jump up his neck. But once I started tacking up.... UGH... The pressure was on. And I felt like it was all me. Not that it's not typically my fault, but... I don't know. This felt like much more MY FAULT if we had an issue. He warmed up decently but not great but Beth got us squared away. And then we did a few more walk to canter to walks and then we sat and waited some more. Then finally it was our turn to go in. Ahhhh... deep breath. Just go and have fun Holly! And we did. It wasn't a beautiful round but it wasn't terrible. I didn't jump up his neck once and while it wasn't an Eq round it wasn't terrible. And it was clean!!! WHOOO HOOOOOOO!!!! WE won!!! We won!!! 
The stadium round

We even got to do a victory gallop. :) I was actually surprised at how sedentary it was. :) Such a good baby!!!


So yep... while I realize it's just a horse show and next year, as Cindy said, no one will remember who won open beginner novice division B. But... this wasn't *just* a horse show for us. This was a little bit more. This was a culmination of years of hard work and patience..... a test of whether both Dan and I have *it* for eventing.... and... on another note... a passing of the torch from one heart horse to the next. It was very gratifying to do so well.... to prove to myself (and no one else really cares, so it was really just for myself) that *I* can do this! That *I* can create a horse that likes to event. That Danny can be an eventer. That Danny can be a GOOD eventer. That our path and journey worked out for us. Sure, it's not the right path for everyone and perhaps I could have changed some things, but it worked for us and it seemed to work well. I know that we won't be likely to get that score again... or have the second lowest score of the show... or lead from start to finish.... and win the team challenge.... all at once. But it's a great start! It's very gratifying to have our hard work and patience pay off. And I'm so excited about our future. 

It's also a little heart breaking. Because while it's the start of Dan and I's competitive career, it also marks the end of mine and Flecks. And it's okay. I've accepted it. (Kicking and screaming for a long time first, but... I've given in). And it is okay. Fleck deserves to relax and have fun and not have to work so hard. And I realize how hard he was really working. And man how I appreciate all he gave me. And I hope that he doesn't get his feeling hurt when I brag on Dan or we leave him to go play. It's hard... because to compete requires intense time and effort. That means Fleck has to come second for many things and many times. And that's hard on me. Probably more than him. But on the flip side...I'm really really enjoying my blossoming relationship with Dan. It's not quite the same as the one I have with Fleck, but I know it's still growing and evolving. Even this weekend we have progressed to where Danny is starting to talk to me more. He's nickering at me some now. :) That makes my heart happy. I know that Danny and I have a bright future ahead of us and getting this accomplishment on the books just made it that much more obvious I guess. And if we don't accomplish anything else, well.. that was still fun. But I'm guessing he's got a lot more showing off to do.

So yep.... I couldn't be prouder of the punk ass rugrat little turdball who can dance and jump and run.  :) What a great way to start our "career". :)