Sunday, June 30, 2013

Golden

Yesterday would have been the perfect show day, if it had been 15* cooler. Showing in 90* weather isn't fun. 
Wasn't nearly as scary hauling this as I had thought.
We took the horses up late Friday night and arrived at the Lake Oswego Hunt Club around 8ish.  It was still in the 80s and muggy but the arena was open so we decided to school.  The horses had hauled well (and I didn't crash the gooseneck!) and were all a little excited to be there.  We had the arena to ourselves and hacked around before popping over everything.  We got the horses tucked into their stalls and headed out to find our hotel and get dinner.

Saturday morning we got up at 6 to go feed then went back to the hotel to eat our breakfast and finish getting ready.  We made it back to the Hunt Club around 8am and the two girls doing the x-rail and 2ft started to get ready.  The show was supposed to start at 9 (but of course started at 9:30) and the arena was open for schooling but was incredibly crowded.  I had the girls use the sand arena to warm up and then we waited for the trot-a-pole classes to finish so they could ride.
Mae and Zoe and Miriam and Hunter
Mae and Zoe did pretty well, minus Mae not hearing that the judge called for a two point in their flat class and doing half a lap still posting.  Zoe did her normal hesitate and look at every jump in their first round but they pulled a 3rd out of about 8.  They did better in their second class and got 2nd.  Their 2' classes didn't go quite as well, Zoe was tired and hot and behind Mae's leg but they still came home with ribbons.  I'm so happy that Zoe has found a person and she and Mae seem to be a good the team.
Zoe was rocking a serious mohawk.  Must remember to braid her hair down!
After Mae and Miriam were done the other girl from the barn had her 2'6" classes.  I couldn't be there to coach her much as I had to get Buddy ready for my medal classes.  Mae went on a milkshake run and I gulped mine down during our warm up.  Buddy was pretty forward and excited and I was trying not to get in his mouth too much.  My plan for the first medal class was to add in the lines, as that was what we had done the night before but Buddy was actually getting the big boy strides. 

Our OHJA mini medal went ok, but not as polished as I would have hoped for. I couldn't make my mind up until half way down the lines if I was going to add or not so some of our distance were a little wonky.  The judge called all six of us back for "test" consisting of a few questions.  As this was my first time being called back for a work off I was somewhat disappointed. She asked for three types of martingales and then told me my standing was on backwards.  Apparently the buckle on the neck strap is supposed to go on the left and mine was on the right.  I've had that martingale for 13yrs and have never once been told that.  Oh well.  She also asked what type of bit I had (broken snaffle pelham).  We placed third, which I was very happy with considering our ride was somewhat erratic. 

The second medal I did was a memorial class for the former H/J trainer at this facility who died of breast cancer.  They have 3 medals, a 2'3", a 2'6" hunter, and 2'9" jumper, and all the proceeds from the classes go to the Portland Providence Cancer Center.  Every year in September they have a finals where the winners from the 2'6" and the 2'9" compete against each other in a work off for a custom County saddle. I felt that our ride was better than our first but we still placed 3rd out of 6.  I'm just hoping that the 3rd will give us enough points to qualify for the final in September.  I've ridden in a County and loved it but didn't have $4700 to spend on one.

We had just enough time between my medals and my jumper classes to gulp down some water, learn my courses, and switch bridles back to the figure 8.  By this point in the day (close to 5pm) the grass was super slick and I was very glad to have my studs.  Two horses had fallen down and many others had slipped.  Our first round was a speed class and went well.  Because of the footing and heat I didn't make the turns super tight and didn't push Buddy as much as I could have.  Again we ended up 3rd.  My friend was holding all my ribbons for me and was awash in yellow/gold. 

Buddy lost his engine waiting for our second jumper round.  We had some ugly distances and pulled two rails but he tried his heart out.  There was never a thought of him stopping or refusing which I am eternally grateful for.  As much as I love and trust Phoenix, I know if I had gotten him to those distances he would have stopped on me.  Our last round was better, no super ugly distances, but he did slip going around a turn.  His hind end went out and I was flung forward onto his neck but he pulled him self together and we kept going.  We did pull a rail in the jump off and ended up getting 5th for both of the rounds.
We lost a ribbon somewhere along the way.

All in all, I'm very happy with how the show went.  Buddy held himself together even though it was miserably hot and the footing was questionable.  He tries his little heart out and I couldn't ask for more!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Getting Ready

So we're showing on Saturday and my horse just had three days off in a row.  Way to be prepared!  He got Saturday off after our lesson on Friday.  I was planning on riding Sunday and Monday, but came down with a summer cold/flu and couldn't get out of bed Sunday.  I felt much better yesterday but not 100% so I didn't ride.

 I think Buddy enjoyed his 3 day weekend and was cranky about going back to work today.  He was barely moving when we started warming up. I think we might have even been too slow for western pleasure jog we were so slow.  There were some little crossrails set up so I jogged him over those to see if that would wake him up.  It did and then we were finally able to get on with our ride.  He was still a little tense and defensive about his mouth in our canter warm up but relaxed into it by the end of the ride. We got some nice counter canter work, a full lap each direction which is an improvement!  To cool down we worked on some leg yields and figure 8s.

Jen is out of town for the show and unfortunately I'm the only one going who knows how to haul. There's 4 of us going and I only have a 2 horse trailer, as do my BO so we've had to borrow a 4 horse from the people who own the barn where we go chase cows. I've only ever talked to them briefly but thru the magic of Facebook they offered their trailer.  Only problem, I've never hauled a goosneck.  Guess I have to learn at some point, righ? 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Honeymoon is Over

After almost two weeks, our honeymoon with the pelham is over.  Buddy was very sensitive in my lesson yesterday, tossing his head and not wanting to give.  He was still better than he was in the slow twist but not as good as he has been.  Oh well, such is horses.

Jen was having me ride with a loop in my reins and thinking about squeezing my hands closed for the half halts instead of pulling back.  It was so hard to have loopy reins and for the whole lesson my hands were my main focus.  It went better than I thought it would, and he softened and relaxed by the end.  Since my hands and elbows tend to be my weak areas (when I get nervous I lock my elbows and shorten my reins) I was really proud of myself for working thru it.

After warming up we worked on a line that should have been a 5, but we didn't have the pony power and went for a 6.  The approach to the first fence was short and uphill, and combined with our hand/bit issue I just couldn't get him forward enough for the 5.  Once we got a couple nice 6's with a somewhat happy pony we moved on to a bending line in 4.   For the most part it was pretty nice, as long as I had him forward to the first fence.

We did the bending line a few times then Jen wanted me to do a rollback to a 3'ish oxer. I wasn't too sure we could do, we would have to turn immediately upon landing I was sure I would pull on his mouth too much and piss him off.  The first, and second, time we took the outside turn and it was pretty nice.  I didn't even care that the oxer looked big. 

video
Ignore crappy cell phone quality.  The inside turn was before the red oxer
 
To compromise, Jen put the oxer down to a vertical and had me do the inside turn.  The first few tries were awful, he hid protest the sharp turn and I lost our impulsion.  We did manage a couple good times thru and called it quits with that.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Work work work

Not much to report. My hours at work have been bumped up for the next few weeks as we get ready for a big accreditation inspection so I haven't been riding as much. Oh well, at least the next paycheck will make it better! I did take Bud out on Monday for a light hack on the grass. I put the studs in and it felt great. He was totally jazzed to be out there. 
If I'm not completely exhausted I'm having a lesson on Friday. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Crossing One Off

I crossed off one of my goals on my equine bucket list today, my first triple bar!

 Just something about a triple bar makes me feel like a real jumper, even though it wasn't big and I probably won't ever show over one.  Buddy was great, warmed up really well and we just popped over a few fences. We went for a walk in the field to cool down and the top of the grass was hitting my boots.  Connie was out mowing what will be the grass jump field.  It's approximately 120x200 and hopefully I can move jumps out there in the next few days.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Squeeze like a Sponge

I had a mini lesson tonight.  Jen was out doing some of the other girls and I was hacking during their lessons.  She asked if I had jumped him yet in the new bit and I hadn't so she had me take him over some to see how it went. 

It was great, as long as I started with enough pace.  If he was behind my leg, I couldn't see the distance and would pick at him, pissing him off.  When he was forward and moving, all I had to do was close me hand, or as Jen said squeeze the reins like a sponge, and he was right there.  We worked thru a line then did a figure 8 with two diagonal fences.  He was turning really well, actually bending and giving instead of bracing on my hand. 

Apparently I have a habit of giving my outside rein in the rollbacks, then picking it back up on the straight away but didn't have that problem tonight.  Jen said my hands/rein length/connection looked great and Buddy was soft and willing.  The only thing that tripped us up a couple times was making sure I have plenty of leg when I half halt and don't pick at him.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pelham FTW!

While no means a miracle fix, the pelham worked great today.  Buddy took a little bit to get used to it and had a couple mini tantrums but was so much softer and willing to give and bend.  His tantrums came in the canter, when he wanted to get strong and run down the long side.  We did some transitions and lot of stopping and backing.  We cooled out by walking around the field.  Hopefully my barn owners can mow soon so we can move the jumps out for the summer.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Time for a Change

For the past few weeks Buddy has been blowing off our flat work, especially when he knows we're jumping.  He isn't bending well, isn't willing to get round, and is ignoring my hand and leg for the most part.  I've had some rides in the draw reins, and he's great when there on but as soon as I take them off his head shoots up and he's ignoring me again. I had been thinking he could be sore, but I've been checking his back every time we ride and he's seemed fine.  His jumping is great over the bigger fences; over our warm-up stuff he's not trying too hard.  Normally when he's sore he'll be pissy jumping and will stop and won't move.

In my lesson this morning it was like riding a giraffe.  We were trotting 2' fences and it was like I was fly on his back. His head was up, he was pulling on my hand, not bending and basically saying "Screw you!" Jen was having me spiral in and out on a circle and figure 8ing, picking up fences when he felt good.  After 10 frustrating minutes we had a couple decent fences and decided to move on. 

The fences went up and we started by schooling a line.  I had to really ride him to the first fence and push about down the line to make the 3 and he wanted to get flat and ugly. By this point I was ready to give in.  It just felt like we weren't working together and I couldn't get him to listen.  Jen made me try one more time and I don't know what worked but we nailed the first fence and the 3 was easy. 

After that the rest of the lesson was great.  We worked on another line, a 2 stride going downhill that was pretty short and it was just flowed so nicely.  From there we schooled three fences, an outside rollback to a diagonal rollback to an outside.  The second rollback was pretty tight to an oxer and I buried at the base a couple times but he always jumped it great.  It felt so nice!

Jen and I talked as I walked him out about changing bits. We want to try and do lots of long and low, getting him to give.  I mentioned to Jen that he'll do the long and low with his western bit, which is a copper short shanked snaffle, about the length of a pelham.  He's been in a full cheek slow twist for jumping but we want something with a bit more bite (for now at least) to make him listen on the flat.  I'm going to try a pelham with a plain snaffle mouth piece and see how it goes.  If the pelham doesn't work then I'll see about riding him in his western bit with the jump tack to see it that works.  If that doesn't work then Bud will be in for some boot camp with Jen!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Almost Wordless Western Wednesday

This:
lead to this:
The grass almost came up to his head in a couple spots