Monday, April 15, 2019

What I Learned

In the week since the show I've tried to reflect on what I've learned from it, rather than dwell on the negatives. 

I didn't realize till I saw the pro pics, but the brown jump behind us in the above photo, we jumped on a long approach of the left lead.  Aka, the exact fence we've been having issues with all winter.  And it never crossed my mind at the show that it was supposed to be our "bogey" fence. And we had zero issues with it.  I sat up, turned on our approach, left him alone till about four strides out then added leg when I saw the distance was going to be a little long. And it rode perfectly fine.  You would have never know that a month ago we couldn't do that.

I also learned when to say no.  Ending our second round one jump in, and saying no to a re-ride was not something I would have done a few years ago.  My pride would have forced me to keep trying while I (and my horse) would get more and more frustrated.  It was absolutely the right decision to call it quits before completely pissing off my horse and myself. This show wasn't our show, but there will be others. I'd rather save my horse and my sanity for another day than try to fix issues that weren't going to be fixed that day.

Seriously, not the most huntery fence for a hunter course but #peebsdontcare

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

LOEC Jump into Spring Show

Not to be dramatic, but this was probably one of the worst shows I've ever been to. Not because my horse was bad (he was a saint), or because I rode poorly (I really did), or the weather sucked (it did, but I've showed in worse), but because the show management was seriously lacking. While technically a schooling show, this was a USHJA Outreach show and part of our local GMO.

When I got there on Saturday I found my stall and after tucking Peebs in with water and hay I went to the show office.  Only no one was in the office. So I went to the arena to see what was going on and to see if I could school.  There had only been three other girls in the temporary show stalls when I arrived and they were just staring to school their horses so I figured it was ok for me to school. There was a bare bones course set up in the ring, two outside line, two single diagonals and a single on one quarter line. All were verticals with no second set of standards for oxers. All the fences were bright, jumpery style fences, one with a big red brick wall and one with a rainbow lattice. I figured they hadn't set fences for the show on Sunday yet.

 Peebs was super chill and calm while we warmed up to school, on the verge of being lazy, so I didn't jump much.  After I put Peebs away I went back to the show office, but there was still no one.  There were a couple people handing around the club room and I asked if any one knew when the office would be open.  They said the show manager and secretary weren't going to be around till the next day and there was no one to check me in. What show doesn't have any staff around when people are coming in the night before?

Waiting on the show photographer so this is the only media I have

 The forecast for Sunday was rain, lots and lots of rain.  This facility only has one indoor, and a couple outdoor arenas but they were closed due to rain.  On the prize list it said that schooling would be available in the indoor during breaks and I wanted to know when those breaks were.  Between each height division? At scheduled intervals? And how big was the show?  I needed to let my trainer know when to come up on Sunday and approximately when my classes would be.

Luckily when I came to feed at 7 on Sunday morning the show office was open.  The secretary said they'd have breaks between each fence height for schooling, but she didn't know how big the show would be. She estimated my classes would be about 2. So I went back to my hotel and hung out for a few more hours till check out.  I went back to the show, checked on Peebs, then hung out in the club room and watched the jumpers go.  The fences were the exact same ones as the day before, still no oxers, and the jumper courses were hunter courses (single quarter line, outside, diagonal, outside diagonal) with a jump off (bending line, one little rollback). It was honestly kinda embarrassing how poor the courses were.

I ate lunch, watched more classes, played on my phone, and watched more classes.  My friend, who boards at the barn hosting the show, showed up and we chatted and caught up. My trainer showed up and we checked on the ring and was told that while it was going slow they expected it to speed up because they were shortening the schooling breaks between classes because "the more advanced riders jumping bigger don't need as much time as the walk trot kids who don't know anything".  So we decided to go shopping. 

By  the time we got back to the show they were almost ready to start the division before mine so we slowly got ready. I got on and when they broke for schooling and raising the fences for my division (2'3" hunters) I was in the ring as soon as I was able. I was told to not jump till the ring crew was out of the ring.  We walked, trotted, and cantered about a lap each way before I was told I could start jumping.  I was able to do three fences before being told my schooling was over.  In total, I got about 8 minutes of schooling on the flat and over fences.  I wasn't warmed up, Peebs wasn't warmed up. I was super flustered and felt incredibly rushed. There was only 3 of us in my division and the other two had shown in the division before mine so they didn't need any additional warm up.

I didn't even leave the ring before our first class, an under saddle.  Peebs though we were still jumping.  He kept trying to canter during the trot work and was rushy and not relaxed. We did manage to get second out of three which I was surprised about. I was second in the order over fences so I was kinda able to catch my breath before our first round.  Peebs was still rushy, but if I took my leg off he wanted to break to the trot since he wasn't connected. Our round wasn't pretty. Another second for that one. Our second round was where the wheels really fell off.  I was still flustered and didn't really ride to the first fence. I saw a horrible, short distance and circled Peebs away instead of sitting up and leggin him on. We tried again and managed to get over it, but coming to the outside line I saw the same horrible distance and Peebs broke gait.  We stopped again and I walked a circle to try and get my head back.  I picked the canter back up and as we turned on our approach Peebs broke gait again (becuase I was riding in the fetal position without leg) and I pulled him out yet again. 

My trainer asked if I wanted to school him over anything during the next break but I said no.  I was mentally fried and didn't feel it was fair to him.  I know he would have jumped whatever, and I could have trotted the fences, and I was so mad at myself for getting upset.  I told my trainer what I really needed was a good 20 minute walk to clear my head, with another 20 minutes to properly warm up my horse. But since we couldn't get that, I was done for the day.  I got off and she went to go talk to the show manager.

The show manager was apologetic, and said I should have asked for more time to warm up. I said I didn't realize that was an option with the ring steward telling me schooling was done. She said the ring steward wasn't really paying attention to what was going on. WHAT? She also offered me a re-ride of my second course.  I said no.  Not only was I mentally not there, I felt it was very unfair to my competition if I got a second chance. And I wasn't sure that's even allowed. Again, this is only an Outreach show not a rated one but that just seems fishy and unethical to me. She then offered me a free class at their next show in June and I agreed to that, knowing there was no way in hell I'd be going back in June.

 I've been showing at this facility for years, but they've had a management change and not for the better. There were plenty of red flags that this show wasn't going to run smoothly but I didn't see them till afterwards. I'm sad at how far this place has fallen, and I hope they can get their shit together. But until that happens, we will not be back.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Lumps, Jumps, and Lunges

I realized I hadn't had a Cinder update post since the show over a month ago.  But in all honesty, until last week not much had happened with her.  After the show I let her be for a while and didn't mess with her like I did prepping for the show.  Which was maybe not the best idea for a smart young filly.

Apparently Cinder figured out if she wiggled her nose/butt/body against her stall door hard enough, she could get the latch to work its way free and the door would open.  She did it once while I was at the barn, but I had been in her stall earlier and figured I hadn't latched it correctly.  She's done it twice more over night and been loose when the morning feeder came. Both times she didn't appear to have gotten into anything, or done any damage except pulling halters off hooks and chewing a fly mask. She's super people oriented and is easy to catch as she walks right up to you.  She now has a clip on the latch so she can't work it loose.

Since she's started displaying bad boredom behaviors, I've started doing more ground work again, including teaching her to lunge. I had used voice commands for our in hand work (trot, walk, whoa) so when I put her on the line she already kinda knew what to do.  What she didn't know was how to stay on a circle.  The first lunge experience was me basically water skiing behind her and Cinder  being confused as to why I was there. A round pen would make it so much easier, but we'll work with what we go. By the second time she was able to make egg shaped circles and mostly going off my voice and by her third session she was pretty darn good.  We only do 5 minutes mostly walk and trot, and only 2 times a week but I'm super happy with her progress so far.

Last week the ponies got their spring vaccines.  Cinder had broken out in hives a couple of day before the appointment, but they had gone away in a day.  So of course she broke out again the day of their appointment. She's not bothered by them at all, but some were pretty big.  The vet wasn't too concerned and vaccinated her anyway.  He did have me give her some banamine that day and the day after.  Since then most of the hives have gone away, but if she breaks out again she'll go on steroids.  The barn got a new shipment of hay the week before she broke out, so we figure there's something in it that's bothering her.  The distribution of the hives is mostly on her barrel and girth area, so she must be rolling/laying down in whatever it is.

On Sunday I convinced A to come out with me and help me free jump Cinder. I don't want to do too much since she's not yet 2, but a couple small fences shouldn't hurt. We made a chute and started sending her over just a ground pole. It then went up to a cross rail, then a small vertical. She did maybe 4 jumps in total. She was pretty darn cute over fence and didn't seem phased by it at all. She even trotted it once on her own after we finished and were taking the chute down. Hopefully she continues to like jumping as she gets older!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Fixing the Left Lead

We were finally able to conquer our issues with cantering fences on the left lead, especially single diagonal fences. I'm sure I'll screw it up again at some point, and I'm interested in seeing how Peebs does in six months to a year after his stifle injections, so I'm sure this will crop up again, but for now it feels really, really good.

We hauled over to A's again Saturday afternoon and rode with her and Scottie. Scottie has some going forward issues, and thanks to an unfortunate incident during a lesson with a dressage trainer, he's regressed a bit.  We played follow the leader a little on Saturday to encourage Scottie to move forward, since following Peebs is one of his favorite hobbies. It reminded me of little kid lessons and it was fun to goof off a bit.

A post shared by Molly Basney (@mollybasney) on
I really wanted to focus on our left lead issues during my lesson on Sunday.  I felt like Peebs just needed a good, solid ride over fences, and since his going sideways freaked me out I felt like I couldn't give that to him. I talked to my trainer about her doing a schooling ride and she was all for it, until I explained why. She gave me the look, and told me I was more than capable of giving Peebs a good ride, we just needed to start at the beginning. She did say that if things went south during the lesson she'd get on him.

Between the super weather and A's bright jumps it definitely felt like spring!
We warmed up over a few cross rails, then tackled a three stride line. My trainer took down one of the single fences across the diagonal that we had warmed up over and told me to add it after the line. It was the long approach single off the left lead. She told me to just point his nose in the middle of the standards and do nothing else.  She didn't care if he went through it crooked, bulging sideways, or on the forehand.  We just had to canter through the standards and I had to not do anything. Since I've been told to do nothing for a few lessons in a row now, it doesn't feel as terrifying as it first did and I was able to execute the plan. We manged to canter through the standards only slightly crooked on the first try.

The full chute
We did a few more tries at cantering just through the empty standards with me slowly picking up on Peebs more. My trainer added ground poled to help keep him straight and I was told I could only pick up on him after the second pole. I was to turn off the rail, let him be, then 3-4 strides out half halt him.  I figured after doing a few times through with nothing between the standards, she'd add a pole but she set up a cross rail and told me nothing changes. And what do you know, nothing did change!  Our first time to the cross rail was crooked and we got there on a half stride but Peebs figured it out and landed without issue. Our second time through I was better about our turn and the distance was perfect. We ended the lesson there, but I was told to do it again the next day.

It was 77 when I went to ride on Monday, which felt like a heat wave.  Peebs was tired and lazy, I was tired and lazy so I didn't set up all the ground poles. In fact I set up no ground poles. We warmed up then went straight to cantering the single cross rail. I kept hearing my trainer's words from the day before in my head, and reminding myself to not do anything till 3-4 strides out and it worked. I know I've been told to not try and find a distance as soon as you make your turn to the long approach single, but this really seems to have made it stick. Hopefully I'll be able to remember once we enter the show ring!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Out with a Bang

Peebs and I had another great weekend at A's this past weekend, with a breakthrough lesson and a couple good hacks.  But the real terror excitement happened when I was hauling Peebs home, about two minutes away from the barn.

To get to my barn, I take a little connecting road that goes between two main roads. It's maybe 2 miles long, if that.  In the direction I was heading, there's a S-curve going downhill and into the setting sun. Since I was hauling the trailer, I was going maybe 30 around the corners, which is the posted speed.  Once you drop out of the curves, there's about a 3/4th mile long straight stretch, ending in a four way stop.  One side of the road is grass seed fields, and the other has a couple houses, a hay field/cow pasture, a fruit and veggie farm, and a kid oriented boarding barn.

Apparently people were anxious to get home because a Jeep passed me, then a little blue sedan tried to pass me as we were on the straight stretch.  The Jeep gave me plenty of room but the sedan tried to pass me about a quarter mile from the stop sign.  I was worried because the sedan didn't step on it, and I knew there was no way they'd make it around me and be able to stop at the intersection without cutting me off and slamming on their breaks. So I started backing way off because I didn't want to rear end them.

As we passed the boarding barn, a silver car appeared in the driveway and I could see the driver look left to see if any cars were coming, then she started pulling out. She didn't look to the right, or else she would have seen the blue sedan trying to pass me. Blue car was at the front of my trailer, and had no where to go.  If they swerved, they'd go directly into the trailer. I was able to watch everything in my side view mirror. Blue car slammed on the breaks, but hit the silver car not quite head on. The crash was super loud and because it happened almost directly across from where Peebs was, and I had his window open, I could feel him spook and scramble in the trailer. I slowed down and stopped as quick as I could, debating weather to go back and check on the people, but I saw doors open and people get out of both cars so I continued on to the barn.

Peebs was super nervous when we unloaded and was calling to the other horses, something he usually doesn't do. I was super shaken and once I put Peebs in his stall I went and sat in my truck till I stopped shaking. All I could think about was what would have happened if the blue car had swerved on instinct to avoid the silver car. I'm sorry they hit the silver car, but thank the deity of your choice they didn't hit me. I drove past the accident site on my way home, and everyone only had minor injuries but both cars are probably totaled.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Finally Foto Friday

I finally got my fifth place year end ribbon in the mail, two months after we were supposed to get them.  So I of course had to take pics of Peebs with his big ass ribbons. The ribbons are about twice the size of past year end ribbons I've gotten so at least the size made up for the wait. Because seriously, size matters amiright?

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

First Rides Post Injections

Peebs was cleared to ride last Wednesday, 4 days after his injections.  Unfortunately that was farrier day, and after holding him and Cinder for the farrier in 36* I was too frozen to ride. So Peebs got a light lunge and I bumped our first ride back to Thursday.

Missed that view
We had a nice long walk warm-up, with lots of lateral work because someone was feeling a bit fresh and needed to engage his brain. We did about 30 mins of walk-trot, mostly walk, and the whole time I was second and third guessing myself about his soundness. He did feel stiff, but it was more of the "its cold and I haven't loosened up yet" type of stiffness than the "I'm lame" type.  Peebs did get a lunge before we rode Friday, and felt much better.

Used to be terrified of puddles.  No fucks given Saturday
Saturday I hauled him over to friend A's to ride and spend the night as we were having lessons on Sunday. I had to work last weekend and wouldn't have time to work and haul over before my lesson so A was kind enough to let Peebs spend the night. It has snowed and rained Friday and A's arena was wet and a bit deep in spots, but it worked great for us.  The footing was just deep enough to make Peebs work a bit harder and tire him out, but not deep enough to be unsafe. Also, he apparently has gotten over his phobia of puddles, splashing through them without a care in the world and standing in one so I could get a pic.

We kept the jumps small for our lesson Sunday, mostly trotting cross rails. Peebs still wanted to get crooked and bulge right while tracking left cantering away from some of the jumps but it was better than our last few jump sessions.  My instructions was to disengage during those moments, let him be, then continue on like normal.  My normal reaction is to ride hard and try and correct him which usually makes him more upset, so trying the less is more approach is hard for me.  But I did it and we had some decent rounds.  We managed to string together a little trot course including cantering through a line on the left lead without incident.

BFF for lyfe!!
My original plan was to take Peebs home Sunday after lessons, but the weather was supposed to be nice Monday and A offered to let me stay another day to take advantage of her arena. She also wanted to use Peebs for an experiment. Her gelding Scottie can be a little herd bound when turned out with other horses so he's been on solo turnout for a while now.  She wants to try him back with other horses and since he and Peebs are BFFs we put them out together. Scottie really wanted to play with Peebs, but Peebs was more interested in eating.

When I got to A's Monday and took Peebs out of the paddock he and Scottie called to each other once, then both seemed fine.  In the past Scottie would call and pace almost nonstop but the couple of times I checked on him he wasn't pacing and seemed fine alone.  Hopefully he can start getting turned out with buddies again.

It felt like spring for a day
I'm so happy A let me stay for an extra day because Monday afternoon was perfect!  It was 60* and sunny and felt like spring might actually be on it's way. I took advantage of the jumps being up and did the same course we had done the day before then put a couple of the fences up to verticals.  We still didn't have issues cantering through the line, but Peebs wanted to get crooked cantering to singles so we went back to trotting.  Cantering off the right is fine, so we did some fences that way.  We have another lesson at A's this weekend and I have a couple ideas I want to bonce off my trainer about our left lead issues.