Thursday, November 29, 2018

Cinder's Intro to Trail

I'm going to try and catch up a little bit with what's been going on for the past month.  The weekend after  Cinder's first show, she got to go on another adventure. Her breeder bought a boarding barn a little over an hour north of us, that has multiple rings, a nice big round pen, and a little trail course. They had decorated the trail course for Halloween and posted on Facebook.  I messaged KP and asked about hauling in to practice on the course, and she let me know that anytime I want to bring Cin up I'm more than welcome to.

She's also 15.2 now and officially taller than Peebs
Loading up to go, she hesitated for a minute and didn't jump right in like she normally does. I had stopped giving her cookies when loading and I think I need to go back to bribery to help encourage her. When we got to KP's she unloaded well and walked around pretty calmly.  She had lived at the barn for a month or so before I brought her home, so it wasn't totally unfamiliar. I let her play in the indoor arena for a few minutes while KP and I talked and KP and her husband oohed and awwed over her. KP had tried to breed her mom back for a full sibling before gelding her dad, but she didn't take and unfortunately KP had to put her down not too long ago. I had had hoped of getting a family photo, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.

Zero shits given about the bridge
KP did a little ground work with Cinder, giving me some tips on how to get her to move over and out of my space.  Cin doesn't understand personal space, and loves to get all up and personal on you.  Especially if she's spooked or excited. She's not trying to be bad, she's just super friendly but I need to put the kibosh on it now before she gets too much bigger.

Many shits given about this
 I then took Cin out to the trail course and started by walking her around everything. She didn't like the car wash thing with bones tied to it.  She went right over the poles and cavalletis, even the ones with fake spider webs on them. She went right over the bridge the first time, and was actually fine to stop and stand on it so I could take some pics. They have some large filled tires for the horses to walk over and she didn't understand what to, but tried jumping over them.  We then spent about five minutes working her through the car wash with many, many carrots for rewards.  She did go through it twice, but wasn't happy about it and would only do it for treats. I don't anticipate there ever being something like that on course at a hunter show, but I would like her to get more used to it.

Mare glare on point
 Loading up to go home is when Cinder's red headed maretude made an appearance. She was absolutely not going on the trailer, no way no how. KP had gone into the house to take a nap before work (she works nights) but her husband was around and he came to help.  I had him stand behind Cin with a whip but that almost backfired and she got even more stubborn about getting in. We tried carrots and cookies, but she was so upset she didn't want to eat. I think her brain was fried and she just shut down. We tried for maybe 15 minutes before KP's husband went to grab a boarder for help.  She has a hard to load horse so he was hoping she'd have a couple tricks up her sleeve.  And did she! She clipped a lunge line on Cinder and ran it up in the trailer, and out through the drop down bars in the window. She stood at Cin's hip, had a dressage whip in her hand and basically reeled her in. It still took a few minutes, but it worked. I'll definitely be practicing that at home, and taking a lunge line with us when we haul.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Cinder's First Show

Cinder went to her first show on Sunday.  It was a fundraiser show for one of the university's equestrian teams and was only 10mins from my barn.  They had a ground pole class I figured why not take Cin and do it in-hand.  For $20 it's a low key, easy way to get her exposure to a show atmosphere and I would have felt bad taking her to hang out and not paying.

My friend A was taking her horse in a few classes and asked if I would haul for her.  I said yes and was a little worried that Cinder would latch on to Scottie as her new BFF.  I didn't want to have THAT horse at the show; the one screaming and carrying on because their trailer buddy was gone and they were going to DIE ALONE. But, my worries were for naught, as Cinder couldn't have cared less about where Scottie was or what he was doing.

I love that  little tiny snip of white

The only Scottie related issue we had was loading Cinder.  I had picked up A and Scottie first, and then went to my barn to get Cin. She's been great in all our trailer loading practice, but I've been loading her in the first stall in the trailer.  We haven't practiced going second, especially with another horse she doesn't know already in.  It dawned on me that maybe I should have practiced putting her in second as we were trying to load and she couldn't figure out how to put herself on on a angle to get in the back stall and was more interested in making friends with Scottie than paying attention to me. We did get her in and I had just snapped the trailer tie on her when she pulled back and out of the trailer.  My thumb got smashed and the trailer tie broken in the process, but after a minute of trying again Cinder got in fine and we were on our way. So our homework over the winter is going to be loading her second.
So wet!  But so good!

We got to the show and left the ponies on the trailer while we checked in.  Cinder has untied herself a couple of times, and I don't trust her enough to leave her tied to the trailer when I'm not there to watch her. The office wasn't super organized and it took a while to check in, so by the time we unloaded our class was going. It was also raining, so I figured why bother grooming her when she's going to be soaked.  We walked up to the show ring with A and S and while Cinder was pretty wide eyed about everything, she behaved much better than I expected.  She did spin and jump a couple of times at, once at a girl getting a leg up next to us and another at a little kid dressed up as a witch with a big witches hat attached to her helmet.

Getting in the ring took a minute because there was a big puddle in front of the gate and Cinder was pretty sure it contained sharks. She did skirt it and once we were in for our class she didn't care about the wet footing and puddles in the ring. I didn't bother learning the course as I had told the organizer not to bother timing/judging us and just walked her around and over all the poles. She did get a little sassy and tried to trot a few step but listened to me well when I asked her to come back to a walk. And coming out of the ring she stared hard at the big puddle but walked through it. I was very proud of my baby horse!
Contemplating horse show life

We hung out by the ring for a while, with Cinder alternating grazing and walking circles around me.  I walked Cinder back to the trailer where A was tacking up and that's when Cinder's baby brain started to fry.  She didn't like leaving all the horses at the ring to walk alone, then had a fit about walking through the mud to the trailer (had to park in a grass field), then slipped in the mud and got mad about slipping. We walked up and down the driveway till she calmed down and I told A was going to run her home while she warmed up. It was obvious Cinder was at the sensory overload point and I wanted this to be a good experience and not end the day with her having a fit because she was tired and fried. She loaded fine by herself and was very happy to be back home.  And bonus, I made it back to the show in time to watch A's first round!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Bend and Snap

I hauled Peebs over to A's place last Saturday for a lesson.  My trainer asked what I've been working on since our last lesson and what I wanted to work on for this lesson.  I answered that we haven't been doing much (Cinder kicked Peebs in turnout and he was off for a few days) and I had no idea what I wanted to do in the lesson. Since show season's over and we won't be back in the show ring for months, I'm kinda meh about doing much. 

Totally didn't plan to match my outfit to the jump or the trees

A's lesson had been before mine and they had a flat lesson focusing on forward and bending (A's horse is sloth-2x4 hybrid) so Trainer carried that over to my lesson.  We strung a few fences together working on getting him forward and bending/straight as was called for.  After warming up our first exercise was a single diagonal plank to an outside four stride.  A's arena is narrow so the turn from the diagonal to the outside line was more rollback-like than a normal.  It was also a left hand turn, which Peebs loves to over bend and drift out on. To top it off, A had gotten new footing and it was a touch deep in places and Peebs was using that as an excuse to quit on me.

Showing off our lovely downward canter-trot transitions.

We did the outside line first by itself a couple of times to get the feel of it before adding in the plank. The first time going to the line I went too deep on our approach and lost his outside shoulder, causing Peebs to over bend and drift out in the line making the four very long.  We had one Jesus-take-the-reins moment were I was sure he'd chip for a five but God bless him he launched over the oxer. Once Trainer told me to think about shaving the turn on the approach with a touch of counter bend, I was able to figure it out.  We then put the plank first, and I have no idea what I did or how I did it, but we nailed it on the first go.  The rollback felt amazing, he didn't over bend and pop his shoulder, and I kept the impulsion the whole way through.

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We moved on to another single diagonal to an outside one stride.  The diagonal was set on a little bit of an odd approach; you had to go deeper than you thought to get to it and it really invited the horses to over bend and drift out. And boy did Peebs accept that invitation.  I could  keep his straight down the rail, but as soon as I turned to approach the vertical, he over bent and twisted on me. Since flying changes are still a work in progress, Trainer wanted me to try and land on the new lead over the fence. It took four or five tries to get it.  Each attempt was better than the time before but I just couldn't quite get there.  Finally Trainer told me to think about landing and doing a rollback and that made it click in my head to look right and open my right rein. And, what do you know, we got the right lead.

Not the time I got the lead over the fence, but one of our many attempts

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Photo Dump Catch Up

Instead of trying to remember what we've done since I last blogged, I'll just post pics of what we've done.

Peebs has continued to look adorable and *mostly* ground tie well.  He did decide to walk away last week when I was in the tack room but stopped as soon as I came out and looked rather sheepish

We had a tough lesson focusing on riding forward to the first fence and being definite with my take off spot decision.  It was one of those lessons that rips you apart but puts you together by the end.  We finished the lesson by doing an outside line that I had to ride hard to the first fence but could then soften and let him canter out on a loopy rein.

I bit the bullet and ordered custom La Mundial boots at WEG. Since we're doing the hunter/eq I went pretty basic, but got a strip of patent black leather at the tops.  Fingers crossed everything fits when I get them.

WEG haul.  Special edition SmartPak Pipers in red, white, and blue, WEG T-shirt, and WEG C4 Belt. I really wanted a WEG saddle pad (I might have a saddle pad addiction) buy my mom wouldn't let me.  She was all for the custom boots, but god forbid I get another $25 saddle pad.

Cinder has officially measured in at 15.1 hands, the same height as Peebs. Obviously he's super happy about that.

We had another lesson that was awesome (even jumped a 2'9" fence!) and jumped a Halloween themed fence.  I found witches legs you stick in the ground and put those in the flower pots.  I'm pretty sure Peebs didn't even notice.

Cinder is signed up for her first show next weekend!  There's a little jumper schooling show 10mins from the barn and we're going to do the ground pole class in hand. She got a spiffy new leather halter for the occasion.

Monday, September 10, 2018

What Now

Show season is pretty much over for Peebs and I.  There's a couple shows left on the calendar, but one is when I'm going to be at WEG and the other is the end of October, about 2hrs away, and held outside.  The chances of cold, wet, and windy weather doesn't really appeal to me much.  There is one in October about a half hour away and I think it's held inside.  I'd like to get more miles at 2'6" before we hit it hard next season but I'm kinda ambivalent about going. I was supposed to do a Rob Gage clinic in November, and was wanting to get more miles before that, but due to recent events that got cancelled.

For sure we'll be focusing on lead changes this winter.  Besides my comfort at 2'6", that's our biggest issue.  Peebs has been started on them, but had his brain fried by a previous owner.  We've slowly started schooling them, mostly over ground poles, and I think we're making progress.  I can now ask for maybe 3-4 changes per ride vs one when I first got him.  He's probably around 75% getting them. I'm hoping to have a few lessons focusing on changes and am toying with having my trainer ride him a bit. I know she could set him up better, but I know his trust in me is a big part of our success so far.  He doesn't have the same bond with my trainer as he does with me. He's a pretty easy ride, but certain things set him off and lead changes are one of them.

I'm already tentatively marking out next year's show schedule with the plan to qualify for and compete at OHJA medal finals next Labor Day weekend. My parent's and I are going a big trip next April which will probably make one or two shows a no go. So I'm going off of this year's dates and working backwards to see what will work for next year. I want to make every show count! I've already told my trainer of my plans for medal finals and she's on board.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Cinder's Big Weekend

Now that show season's basically over, Peebs is getting a little break while I do more with Cinder. There's a couple low key schooling shows in October and I'm thinking about taking Cinder to one.  It's 10mins from the barn, and a fundraiser for one of the college equestrian teams.  I've emailed the organizer and got the ok to do the trot pole class in hand.  I figure we'll enter and if she's sane enough to do it great, but if she's overwhelmed by a show atmosphere we'll just hang out instead.

Less than impressed

I've started adding more adult horse things to her daily routine.  I picked up some bell boots for $8 on sale that she doesn't really need, but she can get used to wearing them. They looked super tiny but are actually a medium (maybe that's why they were on clearance?) but only slightly big on her.  I'm a lot little afraid of what that means when she's fully grown.  She also wore a surcingle for the first time and gave no shits about it.  That also fit better than I was expecting. She's grown wider and longer in the past month, instead of just up, so that helped.

Don't worry though, she's still growing up.  Clocked in at 15.0hands

I was helping friend A paint her jumps over the weekend and on Monday decided to take Cinder over for her first field trip. She jumped right in the trailer but once we started moving and she realized something was happening she started making a fuss.  We had a couple stops at intersections before we hit the highway and every time the trailer stopped she started bouncing around. She did quit after about 10 minutes. I was hoping A could help me unload since I expected Cin to be a fire breathing dragon, but A had a meeting run late and was going to get there about 15mins after me. But Cinder unloaded really well.  She was obviously ready to get out of the trailer but remembered how to back out nicely and not run me over.

What is this place?!
I walked Cinder around a little then took her into A's dry lot paddock.  They don't have any horses currently in it, so the plan was to chuck Cinder in there for the day. A's mom came out and started filling the water trough and gave Cin a couple flakes of hay while I hand walked her around.  My barn has wood and hot wire fences and A's has hot tape so I wanted to make sure Cin wasn't going to try to go through the fence. The three old retired geldings A has boarded came over the fence line to meet Cin and (I should really stop being surprised by this) she had them all under her hoof in no time.  She knew she was hot shit and the boys would follow her. I let her loose and she ran around for maybe a minute before going back and forth from the hay pile to the boys.

Little hussy
We were at A's for about five hours and while Cinder called out a few times when the boys wandered off, she settled in and handled everything really well. She never ran around frantically, or paced, or seemed super agitated. When we went to load up to go home she jumped right in the trailer again like she's done it a thousand times. I didn't feel her make a fuss in the trailer on the way home and she unloaded like a champ again once we were home. Makes me super hopeful for her first show in October!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Team NW Bedrock Show August 2018

The third and final schooling show in the Team NW Bedrock series was last weekend.  Having done the other two, my main goal was to try for the series champion in the long stirrup hunters. Going into the final show we were sitting in second place in the division. My second goal was to move up to the 2'6" pre-adult division and not die. Both goals were achieved!!

Peebs and Scottie love each other
 My friend A, whose place I haul over to for lessons, was going to be showing as well and my trainer was going to be there for us.  A leased Phoenix for three years, like five years ago, till we had to retire him. She's had her new horse for two years and this was going to be their first show together.  She was very nervous so we decided to haul up Friday so they could school and settle in. Scottie had a little meltdown in his stall when we first got there, but after we lunged and rode he settled in perfectly fine and was a fantastic show horse all weekend. Trainer had me school the 2'6" stuff on Friday night and other than having to pull up in the diagonal line because someone walked on the backside of the oxer as I was in the middle of the line (and after I called my line) everything was great.  It felt easy, I wasn't worried about the fence height, and most importantly, Peebs was more awake and forward over the bigger fences.

The boys enjoying a late night snack and walk

The show runs hunters on Saturday, and equitation classes with some open hunter schooling rounds on Sunday.  The plan was to show in the 2' long stirrup hunters Saturday to get points and then move up to the 2'6" pre-adult eq on Sunday.  Our long stirrup classes went pretty well.  I overshot the turn to the diagonal line in the first course and chipped in but the rest rode smoothly.  Other than having to do a simple change, our second course felt really good.  The only problem was Peebs was less than impressed with the fence height and I felt like I was working too hard to get him awake and around the course. Trainer said that he was bored and it was time to move up.  We got seconds in both our over fences rounds. We ended the division with the under saddle. The judge had us canter the first direction for almost four laps around a pretty good sized ring and Peebs gave up about three laps in.  He broke to the trot and when I kicked him back up he crossfired. So we had to come back down, reorganize, and try the canter again.  And of course, the judge was staring at me the whole time this happened. We pulled a 7th out 8 for that.  But our efforts paid off and we won the series championship!  We got tricolor ribbon and a box of fancy pony donuts.  I'm slightly pissed though; last year they gave out coolers for series champions and I really wanted to win a damn cooler! A box of fancy treats that are gone less than a week later is not the same as an embroidered cooler.

I forced my trainer to take a win pic with me. Also, they didn't announce awards till after I rode Sunday, which is why he's wearing his eq. boots
Sunday we just had two 2'6" over fences rounds to do.  I wasn't scheduled till around 3 so after A rode in the morning we hung out and watched/played on our phones.  A little before 2 the other hunter ring that the rated show was using ended and they started moving things around and resetting fences.  I thought that was odd and decided to check in with the back gate.  Good thing I did because they moved my classes from Hunter 2 to Hunter 1 and didn't announce it. They were starting classes in 30 minutes.  I called my trainer who had gone shopping and A and I rushed to get ready.  I felt slightly panicked as I've never ridden in Hunter 1, didn't know how the lines rode, and I hate rushing to get ready.
The show photographer got no pics of me, so enjoy this fuzzy screenshot from the video on my phone

I tried to focus on getting Peebs in front of my leg and forward in our warm up.  We had some waiting, pulling distances, especially off the right, but after a good smack with my crop we fixed that.  The plan for our rounds was to not stress about doing the strides, if we got them great, if I steadied for the add that was fine. Trainer just wanted a nice, whole number with impulsion. In the first round I was bit conservative to the first fence and the long approach to the single oxer at fence two got me.  I waited and buried Peebs at the base and it felt like he crawled over it.  But as soon as I sat up and put my leg on on the landing side something clicked in my head and I realized we had it. Peebs was going to jump no matter where I put him and not crash so why not go for it? We did do the add strides, but as long as I sat up with leg everything worked. And it was fun. I was surprised to get a third out of 8 for the round.

I only had a small break before my second round (one person went then I was back in) and I was still trying to catch my breath as we went in. First three fences were fine, but coming into the judge's outside line Peebs slowed down and we got a really awkward distance to the first fence. We landed in a heap and I couldn't decide if I should move up for the add, or wait and add two strides.  Which got us to the second fence at a half stride and I pulled Peebs out of the line.  We walked a couple steps to regroup then I asked hard for the canter and rode really forward to the oxer. We were getting over that fence no matter what.  It was mostly for my sake; Peebs would have jumped from where ever.  I just had to convince myself of that.  After that line it was back to the single diagonal oxer.  I didn't want to bury him at it like the first round so about five strides out I sat up and put leg on to push Peebs at it.   We got a slightly long distance, but had the impulsion to make it work. After that I could  relax going into the last outside line. After the course Trainer and I talked about the circling and we both agreed that I just needed more time. I felt rushed going into the round and didn’t have the pace and confidence I needed. I need more of a break between rounds to get myself together. I’m not happy that I pulled out of the line, but I’m not beating myself up over it. I’m glad I was able to go back and fix it, as well as the next fence. Not surprisingly we pulled an 8th out of 8 for this round.