Lots of things to talk about next week! Happy Friday!
Yesterday I traded in the [finally] crisp fall weather of Delaware for the gaudy views of the Vegas Strip. Where the former was filled with the outdoors, horses, and photo shoots, the next few days will be made up of classrooms and conference sessions.
Fair Hill, as usual, did not disappoint. I got to spend lots of quality time with J, meet up with bloggers (shout out to Emma, Carley, and Niamh!), and watch tons of quality horses parade around the gorgeous Fair Hill venue. Sprinkle in a few portrait sessions and I fully consider the trip a rousing success!
While I hope to update everyone with the finale to J’s 5yo YEH experience, today is just meant to be a quick update so no one thinks I feel off the face of the earth.
That’s it for now, details to come on Fair Hill and what the big blondie has been up to while I’ve been away!
Part of my reason for coming to Fair Hill is the watch the CCI*** event, but the other big (if not bigger) reason is to support my friend J in her goal of competing her young horse in the YEH Championships. Cooley Mullingar, aka Ollie, is a 5 yr old Irish Sport Horse gelding with the squishiest moose nose, giant ears, and a cuddly goofy disposition. It’s J’s plan to bring him up to take him up through the 2 star level, while the rest of her friends shake our heads in awe and praise her balls of steel.
J had a great test, and handled the atmosphere with more aplomb than my 9 yr old will ever have. The 5 year olds complete a dressage test reminiscent of First-2 in pure dressage, and then get their tack removed for a comformation and jog assessment. Dressage counts towards 35% of their overall score, and conformation 15%. The jumping phase, a combined showjumping and cross country course, makes up the other 50% of the score.
Luckily for J, Ollie is a cross country machine, and I am so looking forward to watching them ride around a very exciting course tomorrow afternoon!
When I returned to blogland after a not-quite-hiatus, I found that I came back right in time for 2Pointober! For those of you wondering, as if a devotion to blogging isn’t enough, the horsey blogging community also likes to punish itself with a competition that focuses on burning calves and achey bums. We’re a sad and depraved bunch, for sure.
And yet, I am excited that this year I can finally participate, after missing out due to 1) not meeting the baseline deadline or 2) not having a horse that could participate.
But this year, I actually got my act together and snuck in a ride in the failing light to see what my baseline could be. Recently I’ve been starting to feel stronger in my jump position, and thanked those weekly jump lessons as I got started. I had a barn mate timing me (aka yelling at me and lying to me about the time). My goal was to see if I could make 3 minutes. And when I got there, she told me if I could make 3 then I could make 5.
So I did. You guys, I actually was able to hold a 2-point position for five. freaking. minutes. 5:04 to be exact!
I did canter the whole time, doing changes over a pole to switch things up. But I don’t know how much I can keep that up. So stupid question for those other 2Pointober-participants out there… What do you guys do while you are working on your 2 point? Are you trotting? cantering? Doing 20 meter circles? Or what?
In any case, I wasn’t able to replicate my 5 minute success when I practiced this week. Granted, I’m not particularly surprised- Jack and I had multiple days off, I was coming back from the neck sprain (or something) from HELL earlier that morning, and I didn’t have someone egging me on while I was at it. I hit 2:18 and then Jack broke gaits, throwing me off. He was fairly tired at that point in my ride (and so was I) so I called it a day at that.
I’m setting myself back by taking some time off from riding while I’m traveling, but I hope to get back to it as soon as I return! Bring on the burn!
After having so much time away from competing and riding with real goals, it’s hard not to sign up for all the things now that I have a going horse. Especially when said horse will (presumably) benefit from getting exposed to more and more venues. Finding a balance has been a little difficult, and as I mentioned yesterday, I imagine Jack will greatly appreciate a couple weeks off to just get lightly worked and pampered.
November tends to be the end of the season around here, though I may be able to squeak in a dressage show or XC schooling come December. We’ll do one more horse trials at the Carolina Horse Park in a month, and then I’ve signed up for a clinic with Boyd Martin after Thanksgiving. That in itself should be a pretty big cherry on top after an eventful year!
There’s been a bit of a lull on the blog of late because I’ve been so. damn. busy. But hopefully this week will mark a return back to normal posting!!
Jack has been a busy boy recently… each week we have been both a dressage and a jump lesson (that we trailer out for), sprinkling in massage and chiro appointments to keep him comfortable. But still, going from light work to being in a program like that takes some getting used to. The golden boy has changed so much physically that the saddles I got fit to him upon purchase in June no longer are a perfect fit. This plus other things have made him a little sore, so while I’m off to Fair Hill this week he’s going to get some down time. And a reflocked saddle. And a shoulder relief girth. Seriously, the things we do for horses.
One of the fun habits Jack has picked up that has specifically shown me where he’s sore is shoving. Like craning his neck to wherever you are, putting his nose into you, and pushing you with that big noggin of his. While not so charming (and I have been consistently telling him this, to no avail), it has been helpful (silver lining?) in indicating to me exactly his likes and dislikes. Things that will earn you a shove include putting the saddle on, pressing on anywhere sore (i.e, his back), bath time, and tying him in the trailer. Some of this I am attempting to remedy the situation, other times I am forced to tell him how expressing his opinions that way is going to be rewarded with my own opinions- and he isn’t going to like it. We’re still working on communicating with each other, and hopefully after his couple weeks off will instill a better attitude in him.
Meanwhile, Fair Hill. I’m heading up north Wednesday to support a friend in her Young Event Horse competition, and staying through the 3*** and beyond. My plan is to do some photo shoots while I’m in the area, and I can’t wait to see actual sweater weather and all the fall colors. I would love to connect with any other bloggers out there too, so please let me know if we can meet up!
Saturday, Jack and I (with the help of our amazing friend C) headed out to do a quick Combined Training event in Southern Pines. The goal was to get a little more exposure and get a confidence building round. Essentially we were to do our dressage test, go back to the trailer for a tack change, jump, and head home again.
Jack’s dressage test was okay. The next time I take him out I’ll be adding spurs, because I feel as though his tension translates into getting behind my leg, and I definitely was not able to be nearly as quiet as I am at home. Still, the judge liked him well enough, giving him an 8 on the following movements, as well as his gaits:
- Trot circle right
- Change rein KXM
- Trot circle left
- Change rein HXF
- Downward transition to trot
- Free walk
- Upward trot transition + turn down centerline
We got dinged overall for our hollow moments which was not surprising- again I know that we are going to have hollow canter transitions for some time until we re-wire Jack to use his hind end instead of his massive shoulders to change gait. The test scored a 29 (71%) with plenty of room for improvement.
Our jump warm up was also just okay, and I needed a swift kick in the butt to hold to the base of the fence. Our jumping round was then the total opposite, as each fence impressed Jack more and more and we got ugly chippy distances and even a stop at the swedish oxer (which is fine- that’s a new question to him and no ground line). So after having cowboyed him through the course, I was not satisfied and quickly requested a schooling round, which is what you see below.
It’s amazing what change you can effect when you actually ride. I was really thrilled with the result and felt like Jack would have a very positive note to end on. The pony got lots of pats and stuffed full of treats and we were homeward bound.
Thanks to a brain fart on my part, we likely won’t be competing in October, but definitely lots of lessons and hopefully even a clinic with a certain former trainer of ours. The more miles the better!
Yesterday, Riley got on the trailer and traveled down the road to his forever home.
The process of selling him was a somewhat difficult one in many senses. Besides the obvious emotional anguish of assessing each person as a good (or not) fit for him, the sheer logistics of allowing people to see him was overwhelming. Balancing constant phone calls, comments, and messages inquiring about him with you know, basic life/work/Jack commitments was not easy.
But Riley’s new person is a dream come true. A former Cornell vet tech looking for a trustworthy companion to spoil, it’s an understatement to say that she loves Riley. And that she understands how much he means to me, and even joked about creating a facebook page for him, is just… amazing.
I’m so thankful to know that Riley has landed on his feet and will be spoiled and loved for the rest of his days. It’s so hard parting with the horses we grew up with, but when they become someone else’s family so readily it’s a blessing indeed.
Happy trails, sweet boy!
Our only real goal for the War Horse Show was to end on a number and not a letter with Jack. With Riley, it was to show him off to potential buyers and just have fun. The other goal with Jack was just to experience our first overnight show together, which was exceptionally revealing in helping me understand my new horse’s brain.
Things I learned my horse will get anxious about:
- Being left in his stall
- Other horses whinnying
- A random fence not on course in the showjumping ring
- Footing, particularly going downhill
- Leaving his buddies
Things I learned my horse will not get anxious about (even if I do):
- Horses galloping toward him and away
- Crazy horses in warmup
- Being put to work
Things I learned/remembered about myself:
- Seriously, I must walk my course 3 times. 3 TIMES!!!
- My friends are the bomb-diggity
- If I tell myself to dig deep, I can and will. No more excuses for riding like a sack of potatoes!
- I really need to find my damn pinny holder
- Porta-potty advertising is the best advertising (as a show that is)
- I can ask more of Jack and expect him to rise to the occasion
There are so many things that I walked away from the show knowing that I can implement next time. The more exposure and miles we get together, the better off we are going to be!