Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Finally Feelin' It

 Honestly, I've been a little discouraged in Peebs and my progress relationship for a while now. We took a bit of a break at the beginning of lock down a year ago, then he put his leg through the fence and had more time off. We started to get our groove back in August, but then the fires and his two colics put us back again. And then he felt NQR and we put him on Previcox, which helped, but also made him a bit high. It's taken a while to figure out what dose works to keep him comfortable, without jacking him up. It's felt like we haven't been clicking since August, and haven't really been able to put in any good work in a year. 

We had a lesson last week in which we did more than we have sine Septbember, but it still felt like Peebs and I weren't on the same page. We did our first real course of jumps, but every time had some major mistake. I couldn't get his shoulder up, or we left a stride out of line, and by the end of the lesson he felt mad. We were able to get the correct number of strides in the line, but I wanted to go back and fix the left to right diagonal fence but he felt so pissy I was afraid to pick that battle. My trainer agreed, stating that he was probably tired and maybe a little sore after not having to work this much in a while. 


We were graced with this awesome rainbow at the end of the lesson, which was the only media I got

 I had been kinda sorta planning a show season for us, with the first one being on April 3rd. But after our lesson I started second guessing my self. Like if we can barley get around a cross rail course at home, why do I think we could show 2'3" in two and a half weeks?? I do really want to show him this year, and with Cinder in training and A showing her, $$ for Peebs to show isn't as readily available. I've had it in my mind that this will be my last "real" year of showing Peebs before focusing on Cinder, and probably leasing him out, and I want to enjoy it and do well. 

He is pretty good at hacking down the road

 But since that lesson, we've had some really good rides.  We mainly did flat work on Saturday and he was being forward without being spooky or hot, so I pointed him at a couple of fences. And in four jumps we fixed pretty much everything I wanted to fix at the end of our lesson. We nailed the left to right diagonal fence, landed on the right lead cantering quietly and continued on to the outside line which rode perfectly. I quit with that because when your horse is that good, you reward them. On Sunday, I put the fences up and while not as perfect as Saturday, we were able to get around the course with only minor issues and I felt good about it. And best of all, Peebs felt good. He still wants to get heavy on his front end, and drop his right shoulder, but he didn't feel mad about me trying to fix the issues. I have hope for us yet and am entering the show next weekend. Wish us luck!

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Cinder Progress Report: I Rode My Horse!

 After three and a half years, I finally actually rode Cinder! And it lasted longer than ten seconds, and she never once felt like she was going to buck me off! It's amazing what having her in actual training can do. 

I don't know why she looks nervous, she didn't feel that way at all

Trainer A rode Cinder first, in the outdoor jump arena. I set a couple fences for A and Cinder was jazzed once she realized she was going to jump. Homegirl gets a little excited for the jumpies! She's started this fun new thing of throwing her tongue out of the corner of her mouth when she's mad so we may start experimenting with a flash, or a different bit. Right now she only really does it when A asks her to wait and approach the jumps nicely instead of running at them full tilt, which is what Cinder wants to do. They were able to end on a good note with Cinder calmly approaching the jumps with her tongue inside her mouth. 

A did say that she's seeing more of Rogue's personality come out in Cinder. Apparently Rogue didn't really care what lead he picked up, and was happy to counter canter or cross fire just as much as being on the correct lead. Cinder does the same thing, and A said it feels really similar to Rogue. But Cinder is also happy to throw in a flying change while Rogue wasn't. It's really nice to have a trainer that's ridden her dad and knows this is a family trait rather than a deeper issue. 

For my ride we took Cinder to the indoor. I'm not going to lie, walking up the mounting block and putting my foot in the stirrup was nerve wracking. Getting bucked off on our first ride and waiting three months to get back in the saddle (on her at least) really let the nerves marinate. But I swung my leg over and after the first few steps felt completely fine. She felt loose and relaxed, not at all like she was going to launch me. 

 I was happy to just bop around on a loose rein, but A reminded me that Cinder does actually know stuff, and to ride her like a trained horse. So I picked up some contact and put my leg on. She feels like a baby; steering is a bit iffy, she ping pongs off your aids, and is a bit stiff. But she did try to figure out what I was asking her to do, and was happy to go around for me. 

We did a little trot each direction and she felt pretty even in both reins. Her trot is really comfortable, and I did a little sitting trot at the end and it was so easy. She didn't feel that big to me either, which was nice. She's 16.3, while Peebs is maybe 15.1 on a good day, but that extra 6 inches didn't really matter. . She felt longer than Peebs, especially in the neck. She is a bit like riding a 2x4 but she's still got a lot of filling out to do. 

I know I had a huge grin on the entire time and on the drive back home. I hoping in  April I can start swapping out one trainer ride per week for a lesson and can start to ride her consistently. I have decided to keep her with A for longer than I originally thought, bringing her home maybe in June/July. Money will be tight, but paying for the training now will only help us out in the long term. I can't believe the progress she's made in three months with A, and having there another three months will only make her better.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

OHC Indoor Eventing: Show Day

When Trainer A suggested we take Cinder to the indoor eventing show, I knew it was a mix of stadium and xc fences inside, and I also thought there would be a dressage test. But nope, just jumping. The show required all entries to do at least 2 rounds, at either the same level or different levels. If you were showing more than once at the same level on the same day (we only showed on Saturday) only the first round would count for placings.  So Cinder was signed up for two intro (2') rounds.

Fence 1, the only stadium fence. All photos bought from Steve Storm Photography

After feeding the horses Saturday morning A, the kids, and I set out to walk the course. Two of the kids were doing intro and the third was doing an intro and a beginner novice round and the course was the same for both with the BN fences being next to the intro ones. The course was a lot of singles with long lines between them, with only one awkward bending line. Scoring was based on optimum time which we didn't even bother to look at. 

The stroller approached the fence as Cinder was cantering up to it and A said she thought Cinder would spook at it, but nope she didn't care

We had posted ride times, but the ring crew didn't stick to it. Two of the girls went early and A was supposed to do her rounds with Cinder later in the order, and the third girl was supposed to do her intro round right after. A talked with the ring steward and got the ok to move Cinder up so that way she could focus on her, and then put her away and focus on warming up the girl. Luckily there was a bit of a lull when we pulled Cinder out and there was only two other horses warming up. Cinder warmed up well, only having one bobble when A had me put a vertical up two holes. Cinder didn't pay attention and hit the pole pretty hard. But when they came back around she cleared it easily. 

Cinder's first round was really, really nice. She got a funny distance to fence three, a tiny log. I think she just didn't really see/focus on it and had to hop awkwardly over it. It was the in fence of the bending line, and the coop above was the out. It obviously didn't affect the out fence at all. She did tend to get a little off balance and swap leads, but A just kept riding her forward through it and the cross canter didn't seem to affect the round at all. 



The second round wasn't as smooth. Cinder started locking onto the BN fences. A said it felt like she was saying "We did the small stuff, now we do the big stuff." She got a little wiggly to a couple fences but, at least from watching, it never looked like she was going to refuse. She did get an awkward distance to the little coop in the bending line, but she's able to figure out what to do with her feet pretty well. 

The photographer sent me this one for free

Cinder ended up with a 1.06 time for her first round and a 2nd place in the senior intro division, out of 16. Optimum time ended up being 1.12 so she was six seconds fast. Her round didn't look fast to me, and A didn't make any super tight turns.  We had left before scores were announced but one of A's friends works nearby and is going to pick up ribbons for us.  I'm really, really happy with how the show went, and how Cinder handled everything. She was a total champ and behaved better than some of the more seasoned horses. A is giving her an easy week this week, and sent me pics of Cinder hacking down the road while A's dogs run around her.

Monday, March 8, 2021

OHC Indoor Eventing: Warm-Up Day

 Holy shit you guys, I’m so impressed with how Cinder handled her first show under saddle. She was a complete rockstar all weekend and acted like she’s been showing and jumping for years. She’s about 10 weeks under saddle, has been jumped maybe 5 times before the show (the last time being a month ago) and has never seen solid fences, let alone jumped any. I’m completely blown away with what an amazing horse she is, and Trainer A’s work with her. 

Who’s the best baby horse ever?

Four horses from Trainer A’s program were going to the show. The other three were all older with junior riders. Trainer A was hauling the three down in her trailer and I was taking Cinder down in my trailer. We left WCS about 4:30 on Friday afternoon and got to the show a little over an hour later. Cinder was not happy about being hauled solo and a few times my trailer was rocking and bouncing around but she arrived in one piece. All the ponies unloaded and settled into their stalls well. 

Wide eyes was the extent of how Cinder showed her nerves all weekend 

The course was open for schooling so everyone tacked up and got on. Trainer A wanted to see how Cinder was, and if she was too wound up, she’d get off and ride her after schooling the kids. But Cinder ended up being perfect. A warmed her up while having the kids walk and settle their nerves then pointed Cinder at a baby log. She hopped right over it, no hesitation or anything. They then schooled most of the intro logs (the arena was set up with intro and BN fences) before pointing her at a table shared between divisions. Again, no hesitation, Cinder just hopped right over like she’s done it before. 

Being a good teaching couch

At this point A took a walk break with Cinder and coached the kids through their first few fences. One of the geldings started having a bucking fit and his kid was close to melting down so A handed me Cinder and got on to school Boomer. Cinder stood calmly in the middle of the arena with horses going past us, and jumping the fence next to us, without a care in the world. When A was done with Boomer she got back on Cinder, and Cinder picked right up where they left off, like she hadn’t just stood around for 10 minutes. 

A finished the ride by putting a string of fences together, including most of the BN jumps. Cinder was so not impressed  about the jumps that she hit a hind hoof on the BN coop. I was a little worried she’d land and get mad, but all she did was shake her head a bit and carried on like nothing happened. They came back around and jumped it clean and finished with that. I hand walked Cinder and put her away while A finished coaching the kids. 

To finish the night, one of the moms went a got pizza so once all the horses were tucked into their stalls we had a team dinner in the barn aisle and made a plan for show day. The show moms were planning breakfast and coffee for everyone, including me, even though I had just met one of them that day. It felt really good to be included in the group. The whole day made me super happy I had found my way to Trainer A. I was exhausted going to bed but couldn’t wait for show day!