Thursday, June 13, 2019

This or That

I'm slowly starting to look for a new horse trailer. Mine is 11 years old and in fairly good shape but Cinder is I'm starting to outgrow it. It's a standard 7' inside height, 2 horse slant load bumper pull with a decent sized tack room. At just over 2, Cinder is almost hitting her head, and once she fills out, squeezing both her and Peebs in it will be a challenge.

Giant baby horse is giant
I know kinda what I want in my next trailer but I'm not 100%.  It'll be a two horse extra tall, extra wide with a ramp for sure, but do I want a straight load or slant load?  If it's a slant, no rear tack rooms.  I think those are recipes for disaster. Bumper pull or goose neck? My truck can pull a smaller goose neck, I just have to have a hitch installed. I'm leaning towards goose neck because I feel they're more stable and less likely to flip if you get involved in an accident. But they're also more $$$, especially when you have to have the hitch put in. I'm also thinking of a straight load but those tend to be rarer up here. Ideally my next trailer would come with a water tank, but I can add that later if needed.   So blogosphere, what's your preferences?

Monday, June 10, 2019

Fits and Starts

It seems like this year my riding has gone in fits and starts.  Starting last fall Peebs had issues tracking/turning/jumping to the left, then we got his stifles done and that helped. We had really weird weather in Feb/March with snow and cold temp and I didn't feel much like riding. Then we worked through the left issue and just when things started to click I went on vacation for two weeks.

Peebs and his new turnout buddy Red

 When I came back I was hoping to get back to a more regular riding schedule.  But work got crazy and I was doing a lot more and was too drained to ride much.  Then my grandfather got sick and I took a long weekend to fly home and say goodbye, thankfully because he passed a week after I saw him.

It's in large part thanks to my grandfather's generosity and financial skills that I have these two, so thank you Grandpa.
But now both ponies are moved into A's barn, work is still crazy but should get better in a week or two, and I'm starting to feel more motivated. Other than flying down for my grandfather's service in late July/early August, I have all summer to dedicate to the ponies. I've had a couple really good rides with Peebs last week and I'm hopeful that we can end the fits and starts and finally really start working.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Peebs (and Cinder) go to Summer Camp: 2019 Edition

Last summer when I first started hauling Peebs over to A's place for lessons, he spent a few days there and gave her cousins pony rides.  I've been hauling over to A's somewhat regularly for lessons and to ride with her since.  I love A's barn and have lamented over the fact that she doesn't have enough stalls for my two ponies. They have one extra stall, but I have two horses.

Peebs hanging out in one of A's stalls
A is going to be gone this summer for a 10 week internship in Ecuador. Her parents were planning on taking care of the horses, since they all typically live outside 24/7 in the summer and come in once a day for grain/fly spray/feet picking. But one of the boarded horses broke a hind coffin bone and is on stall rest indefinitely. He also has some other medical issues, and combined with the injury and possible side effects, A's parents felt they weren't equipped to handle it.  I offered to help take care of the barn and they've graciously accepted and are letting me move my ponies in for the summer.

Peebs testing out his summer home this past weekend

If everything goes to plan, Peebs will live in the small pasture that's half dry lot half grass and has a run in shed. Being out on full pasture 24/7 isn't great for Peebs' delicate stomach (and his waistline) so this will hopefully be a good solution. I'm planning on chucking Cinder out in the big pasture with the three geldings.  A's gelding Scottie loves to play but the other two don't so I'm hoping he and Cinder will play together and wear each other out. At my current barn, the ponies only get about half day turnout in the summer in paddocks, so I'm excited to get them out more and let them be horses.

Meeting the other ponies

My trainer is also going to coming out to A's more this summer to help keep Scottie in shape.  I'm looking forward to getting more lessons in and having her help me start long lining Cinder.  I'll probably also ride Scottie a bit too, which will be good as he's a very different ride from Peebs. We haven't worked out exactly when I'm moving in yet, but probably within a few weeks.  A leaves in early July, but we're planning on going to a show the end of June together and I'd like to have Peebs over there to jump more before the show. I'm super excited for this summer but so sad that A will be gone. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

Terrible Twos

Cinder officially turned 2 last Thursday.  I had originally planned to do pics for her birthday, but since I got back from Africa life has been beyond crazy.  I caught a cold, then majorly tweaked my back; work has been incredibly busy and unfortunately the ponies kinda got put on the back burner for a bit.

 Right before I left for Africa Cinder's hives that had been off and on for weeks finally decided to stay on.  The vet came out two days before I left and we put her on steroids for 3wks and started the process of trying different bedding.  So far the sawdust the barn gets and one brand of bagged pine shavings don't agree with the princess.  We're trying pellets at the moment, and she comes off another round of steroids tomorrow so fingers crossed!

She was so mad

But there's progress!  Vet wanted me to try and rinse Cin off after each round of failed bedding to clean her up.  Only problem is she absolutely HATES the hose and getting wet.  I was able to sponge her off, but no time like the present to work on getting hosed off.   We had one major come to Jesus moment after she busted the crossties and jumped half way into a wheelbarrow during our first attempt at bath time. But with the help of a stud chain and cookies I've slowly been able to work our way up to a full bath.  She still hates getting her hind legs wet and will kick out (not at me, more stomping angrily) but she hasn't tried to vacate the wash rack or run me over again, so I'll take it.

So grown up!
We also started working on the longe more and revisited wearing tack.  She's totally fine being saddled and having the girth tightened.  She's fine walking with the saddle.  She's very not fine being asked to trot while saddled.  There was much rearing and head snaking involved. At one point she almost went over backwards but caught herself.  I was internally screaming as I had used my saddle instead of the crap Wintec on her.  We'll go back to using the Wintec until she's over her feelings about working under tack. I'm also internally screaming as she fits perfectly into Peeb's 48" girth.  Like, it was on the exact same holes as he uses. Just how big is she going to get?!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Lions, and Zebras, and Rhinos....Oh My!

Last summer my mom texted me asking how much vacation time I had, and how much could I use at one time. I replied with how much I thought I could use at once, and asked why.  Her response was, and I quote, "We're going to Africa and taking you with us. Dad and I want to do it before we're older and more decrepit that we already are." 

We booked our trip through a travel agent for eight days in Tanzania in April. We were on a guided tour, with a driver. The vehicles can accommodate up to 7 customers plus the driver, but there only ended up being one other person besides the three of us.  The trip ended up happening over my birthday, even though it really wasn't planned that way.  But it was one of the best birthday presents ever; maybe second only to Chancie, my first horse that was my 14th birthday present.

Any birthday presents including equines is a good birthday present
Our trip started by flying from the west coast to DC, spending the night in DC, getting woken up in the middle of the night by emergency alerts on our phones of tornadoes in the area, then getting on a plane for 13hr to fly to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We had a two hour lay over, then another two hour flight into Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Unfortunately there were clouds blocking Mt. Kilimanjaro when we flew in and out so we never got to see the mountain. By the time we got through customs and to our hotel I had been awake for over 24 hours, had no idea what day or time it was, and was so happy to see a bed. We spent our first night in Arusha, a fairly large city, but we didn't venture away from the hotel.

Not your normal, everyday sight

Our first full day in Tanzania was spent driving to and through Tarangire National Park. We saw elephants, zebras, cape buffalos, vervet monkeys, baboons, giraffes, impala, gazelles, and probably more that I'm forgetting.  It honestly didn't feel real. I kept expecting to see fences, or zoo keepers. Like, is this real life? Our hotel was in the middle of the park and at night we had to be escorted from the main reception/dining room of the hotel to our rooms in separate building because the wildlife can wander in.  We did see monkeys and warthogs on the grounds of the hotel. 

The third day was supposed to be a 6-7 hour to the Serengeti National Park, but ended up being almost 12 hours due to stops and wildlife sightings.  Almost as soon as we entered the park we saw a cheetah just chilling on the side of the rode, not 15 feet from us. Dude totally didn't care that we were there snapping pic after pic. Our hotel in Serengeti was once again in the middle of the park with no fences and we had to be escorted back and forth to our rooms.

Pride rock
The fourth day was my birthday and it started off with seeing these guys above. From what we could count, there was about a dozen or so lions here. Again, it was like something out of a zoo, or Disney, not real life. We spent the day driving around the park and came across a huge herd of zebras. There were probably 200-300 of them. And we drove right through and they didn't care at all.  Right before we stopped for lunch we saw another two lions sleeping on a river bank.  We were able to get pretty close to them.  Later in the afternoon we came across a different pride of lions that had just brought down a wildebeest and was having dinner.  The older lions had already eaten and the cubs were staring to eat. We probably spent 45 mins just watching. It was like National Geographic come to life. We also saw more elephants, giraffes, zebras, hippos, and Nile crocodiles.

Younger male lion by the river bank
Our second full day in Serengeti was spent driving to the western edge of the park. We drove through the wildebeest migration and saw upwards of 200,000 of them.  It was incredible. The morning of our sixth day we woke up early to try and spot a leopard.  We were able to see one asleep in a tree, and another crouching in the brush.  I tried to take pics, but they didn't turn out very well.  We also saw another three cheetahs.  We then drove out of the park and into the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, home to the Ngorongoro Crater.  Our hotel was on the edge of the crater.

Our last full day in Tanzania was spent driving down into the crater.  Here we were able to cross the last of the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, Cape buffalo) off the list. We were able to see two black rhinos.  We weren't able to get close to them but I was amazed at how big the older one's horn was.  Much, much bigger than anything I've seen in a zoo. We ended the day by having a pregnant lioness walk up to our truck, lie down next to us and take a nap.  She was so close my dad could have reached his hand out of the window and pet her. 

Just using the running board as an arm rest
The whole trip didn't seem real, and being back home for a couple of weeks now makes it seem even more unreal. I've had to ask myself if that really happened, if we really did that.  It was an amazingly incredible trip that I can't thank my parents enough for. I only hope I can go back one day.

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.