Tuesday, May 29, 2012

next in line: Groton House, and feet frustrations

I had so much fun at my first event that I've gone and signed us up for round two! This time we're going to Groton House's Summer Classic schooling event on June 24th. I picked this event for a few reasons:

-It is only $95 for all three phases, and we'll get to compete at one of the best spots in New England

-They have an elementary division which, according to reports from others who have competed there in the past, is somewhere between the "advanced elementary" I did at our first event and a rated BN course. This will give us the chance to challenge ourselves without overfacing either of us.

-My barn owner is going with her horse, so I will have some support while there!

-The XC course is in a much larger area than the Groton Pony Club's event is, so we'll have a chance to get a good feeling for what XC is really like!

Lucy has had a pretty easy week. She got Monday and Tuesday off while I caught up on non-horsey obligations that I had pushed aside to prepare for our event last weekend. The rest of the week was pretty low-key, though she gave a "lesson" to a friend of mine who wants to learn how to ride on Saturday. On Sunday I went out to the barn and tacked her up and mounted up, and she was slightly ouchy on her LH. I couldn't find heat anywhere, and she didn't react when I poked and prodded, so I put her on the lunge line to try and get a better look. On the lunge line, she looked stiff but not really sore on any particular leg, and she worked out of it as she warmed up. I gave her some bute with her dinner and she got yesterday off.

Today when I got to the barn, I really wanted to go on a trail ride with Brantley and his owner M. I put Lucy on the lunge line first and she looked pretty good. When I brought her in to groom her and tack up, though, I got a good look at her feet and her LF (the evil white foot) looked AWFUL. It looked not-so-hot on Sunday when she was off, but not as bad as it did today. I texted my farrier a photo of that foot, since she was due to be re-shot this coming Saturday. We both agreed that she wouldn't make it to Saturday without losing that shoe, and the foot was deteriorating so badly around the nails that if she threw the shoe, she'd do a lot of damage to that foot. I have this problem with her every summer. Between the fluctuating weather and humidity level, and her stamping at flies all day long, her front feet take a beating. My farrier is awesome, though, and he came out within the hour to do her feet for me. How great is that?

She's now on a 5 week schedule instead of a 6 week schedule, and I am going to put her on a hoof supplement. Money is really tight for me but no hoof, no horse, so it isn't really an option anymore; it's a must.

I will leave you with some recent photos!

grazing in one of the grassy paddocks

Cairo enjoying a trail ride with Lucy and I

Lucy grabs snacks-on-the-go

Cairo hanging out while I tack Lucy up

see? we were made for each other.

the girls

Cairo jumping one of the jumps in the ring..how cute is that?

an essential for every doggy household: a little paddling pool to cool
off in after a long walk on a very hot day

Sunday, May 20, 2012

we totally ROCKED IT

Holy crap, we did it. We completed *AND PLACED* at our very first event. I am beyond happy with Lucy today, and I am proud of myself too.

Image by Amanda Rains/Red Horse Photography

My one goal today was not to make a fool out of myself. I came away from the day proud to say, "this is MY horse and she ROCKS". I think that's pretty damn good!

We got a super late start because both horses were idiots about loading, UGH. I really cannot believe we are dealing with this crap again. How many hours did I spend last summer working on loading? Ridiculous!! Lucy wasn't as bad as Wind (my friend's mare) but she was not good. They both did get on eventually, though, and we started the drive to Groton, MA (100 miles each way).

We got there about 40 minutes before my dressage time, which was not enough. I had to rush to check in, get changed, tack up, get on, and warm up before my test. If there is one thing I absolutely HATE, it's rushing, but that's what I had to do so we did the best we could. My nerves rubbed off on Lucy a bit :( Also Wind was very keyed up and got loose, and while Lucy kept it together, she was very confused about what was going on. Poor thing.

The test went surprisingly well, though! She was tense but she was a good girl. She was very obedient and really TRIED. I was so happy with her. I talked to her the entire time, which apparently I wasn't supposed to do...woops? :D My score wasn't great at all, but I know what we have to work on.

done with Dressage!

We went back to the trailer, did a tack change, I ditched the wool coat, and my friend and I learned our jumping course. We walked the XC course and went back to the trailer, mounted up, and I did a quick warm up over fences. We went right into SJ, where Lucy promptly refused the very first jump. GRRRR. It was totally my fault; I stared right at it as we approached and I was not there for her. Second time around we did it just fine, and the rest of the course went very well!

We went straight from SJ to XC. She stopped at the first jump on XC but didn't back up at all, so I made her jump it from a stand-still. HA. We weren't penalized for that, YAY! After that, we got in the groove and XC went by super fast! I let her canter about 50% of the jumps but chose to trot up to jumps that I wasn't 100% sure she'd be good over. She ended up being so honest and I really had a fun time. I think she did, too!

(c) Amanda Rains/Red Horse Photography

(c) Amanda Rains/Red Horse Photography

(c) Amanda Rains/Red Horse Photography

(c) Amanda Rains/Red Horse Photography

(c) Amanda Rains/Red Horse Photography

We ended up 4th overall. I am SO proud of Lucy. She started out a little frazzled, but so did I. She pulled it together and really came through for me. I adore that horse, I really do. She has grown up so much and I was just thrilled with her good nature and attitude. Out on XC, I was cantering toward fence 4 and I thought "wow, I'm really doing it. 3 years of work for this day and here we are!" and I almost got a little teary!! Then I was like, SNAP OUT OF IT! hahaha. I was just so pleased that we had a good day.

we had an INCREDIBLE support system. look at all these wonderful people
who came to cheer us on!!

Lucy, me, Wind, and my friend Cassie, who also competed! She had a rough
day, poor Wind was stung in the NOSE by a bee...um OUCH!! Their day
ended abruptly in show jumping because Wind kept shaking her head
and she refused a jump three times. They did go out on XC though, just
to school. The event organizers were awesome about it!
We packed up and headed out, and stopped at Pinkberry on the way home. If you don't know what Pinkberry is, let me tell you:


You should go.

trailer door on left, Pinkberry awesomeness on right.

the girls content in the trailer, sharing hay

pink and yellow Davis boots!
 We have video of the XC and SJ phases coming up in the next couple days!!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Oh, come ON

As predicted, I sucked at following my little training schedule, but I think I am mostly prepared for tomorrow anyway. We did some dressage rides, we did the XC school on Monday, I did a few trail rides/trot sets, a couple gallops out in the field, and schooled fences twice. Everything went surprisingly smoothly throughout the week, and I got to the barn this morning around 11 all ready to put in one last dressage school and then pack for the show.

I pulled Lucy in out of her paddock and got to work brushing. Curry, soft brush, hoof pick. LF, LH, RF, R....WHERE THE HELL IS THE RH SHOE?!?!?!

Yes, my dear readers, my smartass horse lost a shoe the day before we ship out for an event. On a weekend. During show season. I just about had a meltdown right there and then.

By some sweet miracle, my farrier was able to come out and stop my world from crumbling further within THE HOUR. That's right, my farrier is the shizzle. I still cannot believe how wonderful he was about everything. I paid him in cash, cupcakes, a cold drink, and a sandwich. He kept saying thank you to me and I was like, no, really, thank YOU!

such a pretty sight...a shoe on each foot

I rode, bathed the pony, packed everything up, put shavings in the trailer, and by golly I think we are ready. Tonight I am going to pick up our traveling companion, who lives at her owners house 30 minutes away. She's staying at my barn overnight (yay for open stalls and awesome barn owners who permit this sort of thing) and then we can head out bright and early tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

coolest jumping lesson ever

Yesterday, Lucy and I ventured to Massachusetts for an XC lesson with Suzi Gornall. Suzi is well-known for her success as a rider and a trainer, and she has a lot of experience with OTTB's. I was offered the chance to split a group lesson with my barn owner and jumped at it - how cool is that?

I packed the trailer the night before and double checked that I wasn't forgetting everything. Lucy was a JERK and a half to get on the trailer so I am glad she's all I had to worry about! Once she finally got on, we headed out. Two friends came along with me to take photos and video (I have great friends!!). On the way there I kept going down the list in my head. I'd panic and think, "holy crap, did I forget my girth?!" and then I'd remember putting my girth in the trailer. I did the same thing with my boots and my helmet, panicking that I forgot both, but then visualizing exactly where they were in the trailer. I'm such a weirdo.

Lucy unloaded great (hey, at least we can do one thing regarding trailering correctly and without much flair), and I tacked up and walked up to the ring with my BO. We warmed up and then Suzi started tweaking things. Before long, I had a really nice trot where I felt Lucy wasn't way out ahead of me, and she was timing her steps to my posting, instead of the other way around. This was really the lesson of the day, and we touched on it at the trot, canter, and then over fences of all kinds. I was  worried that Suzi would ask me to jump things I wasn't comfortable with, but I didn't feel overfaced at all. I felt comfortably challenged, and I think that is the mark of a good instructor.

We started jumping by going through a line of 2 cavaletti jumps. It was a six stride line but Lucy wanted to do it in 5...of course. So we got her going nice and soft through that, doing it in six strides, and then we built on that with some natural obstacles. She jumped everything readily and happily until Suzi tacked on a simple stadium-style jump in the ring, probably 2'6" ish, with a green filler. Three strides out, Lucy felt confident. Two strides out, she felt confident. One stride out, EMERGENCY BRAKES! I almost ate it because I had started committing to it with my upper body already, but my heels saved me. It was a dirty stop though, which I do not appreciate! The second time into it, she stopped again, but it was mostly because I got nervous and was probably telling her subconsciously to stop. It was not a dirty stop, more like a fizzle out in the last three strides. The third time, I really put my leg on her and pushed her with my seat. She leaped over it and I got way left behind. The fourth time was somewhat passable; not perfect but I stayed with her at least. The fifth time was really good, though...lol.

Suzi really liked Lucy a lot. She liked her gung-ho attitude and I really liked the way she taught. She explained things well and had great insight. She complimented my leg, too, which made me blush. I want to go back!

Here are some photos (video is still being worked on):

that super scary jump...yup

I love my girl!
In other wonderful news, I WON the Tack of the Day/Eventing Nation photo contest, so THANK YOU to everyone who voted for me!!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Event countdown

My first event is coming up just about a week away (next Sunday) so I sat down last night after having a fabulous jump school to figure out what my plan was.

I've been trying to prepare without drilling Lucy to keep her attitude positive. When we practice dressage, I school the individual parts of the test instead of doing the whole test, because a friend warned me that she would start to memorize the pattern and anticipate the next movement. When we jump, I've been warming up with individual jumps but then building it up into courses.

On Monday, we are trucking out for a cross country lesson at a farm about an hour away. I took the day off from work and I am SO excited! A few other people from my barn are going and I am so thrilled to be part of a barn where other people also want to go out and school XC. The lesson rate is very reasonable since it's a group lesson. Personally I love group lessons because I learn as much watching other people as I do practicing myself.

So my plan for the next week is:

Today: trail ride
Tomorrow: dressage school
Monday: XC lesson
Tuesday: day off
Wednesday and Thursday: Lauren rides, so I will clean and condition my tack, and take my saddle pads home to wash them
Friday: jump school
Saturday: my friend C is coming to kick both our butts in dressage! I can't wait!!
Sunday: show!

As I said, we jumped last night. She was really, REALLY good. She wanted to rush but she listened and we got some really nice distances. Was it perfect? NOPE. But I feel confident that we won't make complete fools of ourselves at the event.