Monday, January 30, 2017

Half and Half

We had our first lesson in a few weeks on Thursday.  While I say it was a good lesson, we definitely had some awful moments.  Peebs started out pretty quiet and relaxed, popping over a warm up cross rail like it was nothing.  We moved on to a couple of the lines set up, a short five on the outside and then a forward bending four strides.  It took me a couple tries to figure out how much to hold in the 5, and then what line to take for the four, but both were pretty much non-issues. It was more of fine tuning everything, which is a nice feeling to have instead of hoping and praying you'll make it down the line.

Single diagonal on a short approach going left to right - should have been our hardest fence but was the easiest

 We then did a rollback from a diagonal fence to an single on the outside.  It was a right turn, our hard way, and we had to canter up the outside to the single, something Peebs has historically wanted to run at.  He was surprisingly good; I was able to get the lead over the diagonal and while he was strong going up to the single he waited and listened to me.   After a little walk break trainer wanted me to combine the bending line with the rollback and this is where the wheels fell off. Peebs woke up and wanted to run and not turn in the bending line, way overbending his neck and throwing his shoulders to the right.  We also had some impressive head tossing involved. I made the decision to trot in and trot out of the line because no one wants to deal with a pony running sideways.  Trainer also put out two placing poles to help keep Peebs straight, which we might have jumped over a time or two when we did a drive by of the second fence.

Thank god for standing martingales!

Once we kinda sorta got the bending line refigured out, I added the rollback and Peebs once again decided that he couldn't horse.  Wouldn't give me the right lead over the diagonal, wanted to run at the second fence.  So again, he got brought back to the trot and we halted on a straight line after the second fence.  We ended the lesson on the pink fences above, which we had already jumped in our warm up.  He was ok about running after it, even though it was up the long side on the right lead. Our last time he offered a lead change but only got the front end, then scared himself when he was crossfiring.  But I was able to do a simple change and canter on quietly.

While the second half of the lesson was crappy, I was happy with how I handled it.  Even a month or so ago I would have frozen up and gotten scared with the head tossing and going sideways, or the running up the long side on the right.  I don't like when Peebs does those things, but I can handle them now.  We were able to work through them without getting into a fight, or me giving up, or trainer having to put the fences down to teeny tiny jumps or just poles. Yay for progress!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Horse Show Pet Peeves

Overall the show last weekend was pretty well run but there were a couple little things that checked my pet peeves list.  As I mentioned in my earlier post, bedding wasn't included in the price of a stall.  Which wasn't the end of the world since I only got a day stall and Peebs was in it for about an hour total but it would have been a lot worse if I had gotten an overnight stall or if we had hung around a bit longer.  It wouldn't have been that hard to say on the entry form that bedding wasn't included and needed to be bought from the facility.

 No distances were listed for the lines and the course wasn't open for schooling or walking before hand.  Or if it was I never heard them announce it.  Granted, its a jumper class, so how many strides you get in a line isn't important but by looking at the course I thought 6ab would have been a 1 or 2 stride line but it ended up being a four. And that was a long four trotting in; I'm sure it would have been an easy four cantering in or maybe a three for the bigger classes.  I've always been taught that a combination is a 1 or 2 stride line, anything 3+ strides are numbered as separate fences.  Is it different in eventing?  This was a jumper show put on by eventers and I don't know the rules for numbering fences in a stadium round vs a straight jumper class.

For the crossrail classes when I walked into the ring they told me to start whenever but then started whistling people for the 2' classes. I had already picked up a trot to come to the first fence when my whistle blew and I wasn't expecting it. So that was a bit confusing.

What are your show management pet peeves?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Happy Gotcha Day!

It's been one year with Peebs today!  I can't believe its been a year.  In some ways it doesn't feel like that long at all, in others its like we've been together forever.  I'm so glad I found him, and took the chance of buying the first horse I looked at. It felt like coming home when I first rode him and it still does. When you know, you know! Here's to many more years and adventures together Peebers!

The day we brought him home

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

OSU Event Team Jumper Schooling Show

"How to Show in 15* Weather"

On Saturday we ventured out into the frozen tundra for our first show of the year and our first time in the jumper ring together.  We had had below freezing temps with snow and ice for what feels life forever, and while it was sunny Saturday my truck said it was 24* and the feel like temp was 15*.  I questioned my sanity for signing up for this show way more than once. 

When you have to try on your show clothes to make sure they fit over a bazillion layers.  I ended up wearing 3 shirts, a vest, fleece tights, breeches, a pair of regular socks, boots socks, and my heavy barn coat.

Because of the freezing temps we haven't gotten to ride outside for like two weeks, and I've been lazy and not wanting to set fences inside, so we've been doing lot of trot and canter poles. I had entered us in two crossrail and two 2' classes, with the plan of trotting in and cantering through the lines. I figured even with not a lot of schooling Peebs could handle that. And if it was too much, I'd always scratch.

My BO went with me as my ground person/emergency helper.  Trainer's daughter had a gymnastics meet that weekend so I was on my own. There was some confusion when we got there about stalls, and my stall was still locked.  And when they opened it for me, I discovered that bedding wasn't included in the price of the stall.  I apparently had to buy bedding from the facility.  So Peebs didn't get any bedding.  He was only in his stall for me to tack up, untack, check our placings, and repack the trailer, and he didn't pee or poop, so it wasn't the end of the world. But it was still annoying.

There was a photographer and I'm waiting on pics, but for now you get blurry screenshots

It was a pretty small show, so I tacked up right away and got on.  Peebs was pretty impressed with the facility and spooked more than a few times during warm up. Going in for our first round, he spooked hard going to and at the first fence.  I actually had to circle him away just in front of the start timers to try and get him forward and we kinda jumped the first fence from a standstill.  He then spooked at the far side of the ring at some jump filler (boxes, brush) that they weren't using that was behind the fence and spun sideways.  I circled again, and talked to him. I ended up trotting everything.  No way was I going to attempt a canter fence when he was that rattled. About 2/3rd of the way through the course he started to settle, but still gave the filler the hairy eyeball when we went past going the other direction. 

I kept him walking while we waited for our second round and had serious thoughts about scratching the 2'.  Peebs has never been that looky or distracted before. Our second round was better, he wasn't as spooky and I was able to canter out of some of the lines and around the ring.  He did have a bit spook at the far side arena wall.  I don't know at what, maybe our shadow on it?

Jumper pony mode activated
I figured that since he was a better for the second round, that I'd attempt our first 2' round and go from there.  It went well; he was more focused on the fences, I could sit and add leg to move him up in the lines, and he didn't spook at anything. I did have a moment when I realized the first fence in the judges line was an oxer (the red oxer in the pic above) and I was trotting it. I hate trotting oxers.  But Peebs don't care. We did have one oops moments when I had to move him up in a diagonal line then try and bring him back for a tight turn to a fence on the short side of the ring.  We way overshot the turn and looked like drunken sailors going to it.   We did our second 2' round and other than seeing a 4.5 stride distance in the 4 stride diagonal line, it was our best round.  He felt like his normal, solid Peebers self. 

1st in our second 2', second in the first 2', third in the second xrail, and fifth in the first xrail

I'm super happy with how we ended, and that I made myself do the 2' classes even though I didn't want to.  I had a blast (minus our first round) being back in the jumper ring and can't wait till we're ready to show in them at a regular show. It was beyond gratifying to see how Peebs settled and improved over the four rounds, and that I could get that improvement without my trainer to talk me down. I just hope our next show is slightly warmer!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Second Best Decision of 2016

My best decision of 2016 was buying Peebs, obviously.  But my second best?  Buying studded snow tires for my truck.  For the past month we've been dealing with snow, ice, and days of below freezing temps.  While each individual storm hasn't been as bad as some in the past, added together this has to be one of the worst winters ever.  It's for sure the worst in the 12yrs that I've lived in Oregon.

So nice to have

My friend asked me a couple months ago if I was interested in buying a set of studded tires from him as he had gotten new wheels and his barley used winter tires wouldn't fit anymore.  I originally said no, but during our first ice/snow day when I almost didn't make it over the bridge on my way to work I changed my mind. I don't usually drive my truck to work, only in bad weather, because my little Scion is absolutely not meant for winter driving. But even with 4WD and weight in the bed of the truck, it was pretty hard getting up the incline of the bridge. I might have leaned forward and clucked at big blue. We were able to meet up later that day at the tire place and swapped everything out.

Poor big blue
Being a SoCal native, I had never seen snow, let alone driven in it till I moved to Oregon for college. While I've had to drive in it in the past, including the time my 50min commute to my last job turned into a 3hr ordeal getting home, I never thought studded tires would make that much of a difference.  I was wrong! I love having them, and I know this last month would have been a lot more challenging without them. But I still don't know how those of you in places that routinely get snow deal with this.  I'm ready to move back down south anytime now!

Should have gotten him drilled and tapped for studs as well so we could go for a walk down the road!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Last Ride of 2016

The last three weeks of 2016 were mostly blah in terms of riding until the last two days of the year.  We had a snow/ice storm along with days of temps in the 30s, then I went do to Mexico for Christmas.  When I got back, our first few rides were not so great.  Peebs would alternate between stubbornly lazy and all over the place forward.  He had forgotten all the work we had done lately in regards to bend and balance and while I tried not to hold it against him (with the whole two weeks off thing) I was frustrated.

Friday I gave him a nice long free lunge in the indoor and while I was expected a buck or three, he just ran a bunch.  I got on, and voila, I had my normal Peebers back.  I also had an "a-ha" moment while cantering to the right.  Apparently, if you pick up on your outside rein and bump your horse with it every two to three strides instead of letting it hang like a dead fish, your horse can stay straight and not counter bend?!?  Our right lead canter has been our biggest issue lately and while we have success when I'm in a lesson and someone's telling me the above info, it hadn't translated to riding on my own till then.  And now I feel like an idiot. I swear I know how to ride.
Peebs says really mom?

Saturday we had a lesson and since we hadn't jumped in almost three weeks I was a little apprehensive on how it would go.  But I shouldn't have worried.  Peebs came to play and was great.  We still have issues going right, and will always, but the help of some placing poles and the knowledge of needing to use my outside rein, we got our nicest jumps tracking right.  He really wants to counter bend and drift left, and it's going to take time to get rid of the muscle memory, but he got better with every time through.  Trainer said we're to keep using the placing poles for the next few weeks, just to reinforce that he has to stay straight and can't go left.

We were also able to canter fences (tracking left) and actually put them together.  Trainer wants us to just trot fences going right till he's a little more consistent about them. You'll recall cantering fences is very hard for us.  So the fact that we could canter two fences in a row, nice and quietly, was amazing.  And I wasn't even that nervous!  It was a perfect way to end 2016!