Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Two Forward, One Back

I had a lesson last Friday where we were able to show off our new found skill of putting together canter fences to the left, as well as our glaring lack of that same ability to the right. Peebs warmed up well and we were able to do a few warm up fences before attempting a little course.

We started with the outside line to a single diagonal off the left.  The line rode perfect but turning to the diagonal was a bit hairy.  Peebs loves to over bend and drift way past our line in our left turns.  A couple circles with lot of outside aids, and thinking about having a touch of counter bend fixed 95% of our problem.  I just have to remember to do that every time and we'll be 100%! My trainer said that I'll know when I've forgotten because I won't be able to see a distance, but when I remember the distance is right there.  And she was right.
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We then tried to add a single diagonal off the right with a roll back to another single off the left on a short approach. This is where the wheels fell off.  While our cantering to the right in general has gotten a lot better, we still have a lot of problems cantering fences to the right. Peebs just couldn't that night, and every attempt to turn right led to a run out.  So we went back to the trot, which was no big deal. I tried to canter the pink plank, and it was ok the first few times, till Peebs got tired.  Then we went back to trotting that till he realized we were landing right and decided to have a mini bolt up the rail.  That freaked me out and we had a little walk break while I decided if I wanted to continue or not.  Trainer took the pole down so it was just the baby plank and we trotted it again and stopped him by turning his head into the side of the barn. It wasn't fun or pretty, but after a few times he got it and stopped before the barn.

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I was happy that I kept going and didn't let his bolt scare me off. I know the only way to get both of us over his issues going right is to just do it, but I'm half tempted to give my trainer the ride. Part of our issue is the both of us combined; me anticipating him being bad so I tense up, he's already tense then feels me get tense go he gets's an awful cycle but I know we can break it.

Monday, February 20, 2017

USHJA Outreach

Here in Oregon the main local h/j organization is the Oregon Hunter Jumper association.  They have membership tiers for those showing at the local shows (me!), those doing a mix of rated and local, and those doing just rated shows. This year OHJA decided that all of the local schooling shows needed to be part of the USHJA Outreach program for points to count towards OHJA year end points.

I was slightly pissed at first.  Last year, only three of the schooling shows were outreach shows, and they were all at the same venue run by the same show management. But it looks like this year all but one or two local shows have decided to become outreach shows. And while you don't have to be an USHJA member to show in these shows (unless you're doing special classes like medals or derbies) you might as well, and that's a $35 membership fee. My OHJA fees are $30 (for the local membership), so that doubled my fees.  I do like that you don't have to pay the full membership fee since these aren't rated shows.

What I do like is that they have jumper classes starting at .70m/2'3" and a 2'6" derby with options to 2'9". I'm hopeful that some of our local shows will have the derby since all of the other derbies in Oregon are the National and International ones held at the rated shows. I'd love to show in a 2'6" derby!

USHJA used to do year end points by zone, but this year has decided to do bronze, silver, and gold certificate of merits.  Bronze is 30pts, silver 50, and gold 75. Bronze certificates are mailed out when you've reached 30pts, but silver and gold are given our at the zone year end awards.

I'm excited/nervous to see how this changes our little local circuit, but hopefully it's all for the best. Here's hoping we can at least make it to the bronze level this year!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Subtle Signs

One of Peebs' biggest issues is his right side.  He has always felt slightly dropped right.  He doesn't like bending right; putting his nose in the air and tilting his head to the left is his favorite thing ever, after food. Cantering to the right can be pretty awful at times.  Cantering jumps to right is something we've just started doing, and again, can be pretty damn awful. He loves to ignore my hand, counter bend, throw his haunches to the inside, and run full tilt at the jumps. 

So imagine my surprise when a couple weeks ago during our last jump school when another boarder commented that Peebs looked really straight going right. Say what?!  This was maybe the second or third time I've ridden with this other boarder, she's usually out at different times than me.  We had had some really awesome fences going left, so I decided to be brave and canter the single cross rail going right.  He wanted to be strong and run at it, but after other boarder commented on his straightness, I realized that he was in fact, straight.  He was still high headed and strong, but he wasn't twisted left or throwing his haunches around.  And he didn't switch leads over the fence like he usually does. Huh.

Earlier this week I was riding when a couple other boarders came out and we started talking.  As I was sitting on Peebs it felt like he calked a hind leg to rest, and I pushed him forward a step to square up.  But he still felt uneven. I asked the girls if he was standing square, and they said he was.  For the first time ever, his right side felt a touch higher than his left. When I rode last night I tried to pay attention to his evenness, and again, he felt even if not slightly higher on his right side. I guess all of my work focusing on his right side is staring to pay off. Now, if we can just canter on the bit and not run at the jumps, we'll be golden!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Mas Caballos Mexicanos

I was down in Mexico last Sat-Tue for our yearly trip south with by BO and her husband. We sadly didn't eat nearly enough tacos, but we did get to see plenty of ponies. 

Pretty cute 3yr old Azteca
Sunday we went out to the wine valley about an hour from my parents place.  We had some very good wine (and a buzz at 11am) and food, then headed out to meet a dressage trainer my mom had met on Facebook.  M is the resident trainer/rider/manager at an Azteca breeding farm that's located on a winery/B&B.  She explained their program and a bit about their Aztecas which I guess are different than American Aztecas?  I didn't quite understand.  I blame the wine. They have a few studs that they breed to only select mares.  They show, both in Mexico and the US.  We asked about taking horses over the border and M said they ship through Nogales, AZ.  That's a 9hr drive from where we were, not factoring in hauling a trailer.  M said when they go to the US they stay at least a month to make it worth it.  They also have passports for all their poines so its easier to cross.

Lesson pony

Tuesday we went back to the jumper barn I visited in November.  This time we were able to get a tour from the owner (CP) and I really liked her.  She's from France, but lived in the US for 15yrs before moving to Mexico.  Her daughter (who I think I used to show against when we were kids) had a working student position at this barn before they took it over.  The daughter is now at WEF working with Chris Kappler. 

CP has tried very hard to bring the barn up to American standards.  They've redone a lot of the barn, and have plans for more.  It's common in Mexico to have full grooming, but CP has all of her lesson kids take care of their ponies when possible.  She also requires all vet care like vaccines and teeth be done on a schedule, which was not a thing before.

In talking with her, she said they ship through the Otay Mesa border crossing, just east of the main San Digeo/Tijuana crossing. They've had horses flown in from France to LAX, then come down that way.  That makes so much more sense to me then shipping to Arizona and back. She also gave us the rundown on what to do if we were to ship a horse down. I would have no problem using CP's knowledge or having her arrange shipping if I ever needed it.

The last thing we talked about is showing.  There's a circuit, of sorts, of a few different barns, or clubs as they're called down there. Each club has two shows a year, and one can be a classic that offers prize money.  CP said the shows have a much more party like atmosphere in Mexico than they do in the US and she invited us to come to one of their shows. I'm going to head back down in May to watch their show.  My BO and her husband are figuring out if they can come. So any bloggers, SoCal or otherwise, that want to go spectate at a Mexican jumper show in May, let me know! There are tons of rental houses in my parents community, it's totally safe, and there will be all the tacos you can eat! All you need is a passport.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


When I opened my mail last week I got a huge a good way!  Mixed in with my W2 and a medical bill was a big padded envelope from an address I didn't recognize.  Turned out it was from the points chair of the Oregon Hunter Jumper Association.  The year end award ceremony was a couple weeks back, and considering I only showed twice last year and one show was in the crossrails and the other was a 18" beginning rider division, I didn't bother looking at points or going.  Apparently I should have because I won this:
For reference, I'm 5'3
Peebs and I qualified for the Certificate of Merit, a program for equitation in the walk-trot, trot-a-pole, crossrails, and 18" classes.  If you accumulate over 25 points you get the Certificate and the big ass ribbon. Apparently we did. I'm guessing the program is geared towards lesson kids on lesson ponies, but I'll never say no a ribbon as bigger than my torso!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Sundance Goes for a Ride

Over the weekend I pulled Sundance, the former ranch/trail horse out for more desensitizing.  I haven't done too much with him lately, due to the cold weather and the barn being busier.  Saturday he got lunged then I used clippers on him for the first time.  He snorted a pulled back a bit, but was actually ok with them on his muzzle, as long as I was on his left side.  As soon as I switched to the off side, he'd pull back again.  We went pretty slow, and he got lots of cookie, and he let me clip his muzzle and part of the long hairs under his chin and head.
I hate you so much right now

Sunday was the big day.  My BO and I turned him out then rubbed him down all over with towels.  He wasn't so sure about them around his head, but put up with our shenanigans. We then tacked him up with BO's western saddle and a plain snaffle.  His owner TN has either ridden him in a hackamore or curb bit and said he can be fussy with his mouth. 

I guess he kinda liked it?
BO wanted to lunge him in the side reins (we're guessing his first time in them) so we put them on super loose.  He's way out of shape so she just did maybe 10 minutes of walk trot, switching directions a lot.  He's not really sure about lunging on a line, and changing directions was a hard concept to grasp. But he didn't protest about the side reins, and you could tell his issues were from not understanding what we were asking.  He really, really, really wants to please and be a good boy. It's obvious no one has taken time with him to let him understand and figure out he's not going to be hurt.

Once he seemed fine lunging, I hopped aboard for his first ride since July or August. There was no way I could get on him from the ground so BO held him while I used the mounting block.  He was a bit reactive to my seat and leg at first but settled in as we went along.  He goes really well off voice command, so all I had to do was cluck to get him to trot. Again, because he's so out of shape, I only did 10mins of walk with a few trot circles each direction.  I played around with trying to get him on the bit at the walk, and he actually started looking for the contact.  He got stuffed with cookies and was told he was the bestest pony.

OMG tiny human!

His torture wasn't over yet.  My BO's boss brought out his kids and grandkids for pony rides about an hour later.  Once the pony rides were over the kids went up and down the aisle petting the ponies. Poor Sundance had to suffer through having a two year old try and pet him.  He loves getting his head rubbed, but only if you move slow and by people he knows. The tiny human trying smack pet his nose was just too much.