Wednesday, September 28, 2022

This and That

Little bit of this and that from the last couple of weeks.

My last few lessons have been flat rides, mainly staying on a 20m circle. Cinder kinda lost the ability to canter nicely on the right lead for both A and I. She really wanted to go around with her head in the air and was convinced she couldn't canter on the bit. A has had me really focus on getting her deep and low in the trot, imagining I had draw reins on as my visual. Once Cin was steady in the deeper trot, then I was to ask for the canter knowing she'd come up a bit, but since she was almost too deep she'd come up to where we wanted her. I definitely struggled a bit, but at one point A told me to two point the canter and I lost it completely, but we've gotten some really nice canter work out of it. 


When I got to the barn for my lesson on Friday, A was tacking up Metro for a quick trail ride before my lesson. I mentioned a trail ride sounded nice and A told me to tack up early and we'd do a trail instead of an arena lesson. The BO had a mini excavator clearing out the stream and an old bridge at the bottom of the first part of the trail and Cinder was not too sure about it. We could hear it, but not really see it through the trees and I started to get nervous, so obviously Cinder got more nervous. And then Altivo, A's doberman, came running up behind us and spooked Cinder more. Cin is totally used to the dogs running around during trail rides, but she can be a little spooky if they come up fast behind her. She jumped forward into Metro, but being the saint that he is, he didn't care. Once we were in the woods I started to relax and so did Cin. We ended up having a great ride and I'm glad I kept going even when I was sure Cinder was going to loose her mind. 


After the trail ride, I watched A school a client horse, while the client was riding her other horse. A got off and had the owner get on so she could explain a few things and asked me to hold Brownie. He is the sweetest, cuddliest horse ever, so I spent a very fun 15 minutes getting loved on. The owner's other horse is a little bit of a local celebrity, and I've admired him for years, doing the junior jumpers before a certain former Olympic trainer in the area took over the ride and did the 1.50m on him. G, the owner, does the 1.10m with him now and I told her if she wasn't careful I'd steal both of her horses. I also really enjoyed being a bit of a barn rat, hanging out watching other lessons/rides and then shooting the shit with people in the tack room.

It was stupid hot for the end of summer over the weekend, hitting 91 on Sunday. I wasn't going to ride, just lunge, but when I pulled Cinder out of the pasture she resembled the Peanuts cartoon character Pig-Pen. The dust coming off of her was disgusting, so she got a fully soapy bath with a deep tail conditioning. She was not amused.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Bucket List: Spruce Meadows

 If you follow me on IG/FB you probably already saw, but a week and a half ago, my parents and I went to Calgary and Spruce Meadows. I've always wanted to go to Spruce, and my parents love to travel and thankfully indulge me when I want to combine travel with horse shows. We got tickets for Saturday and Sunday at the Masters, watching the BMO Nations Cups on Saturday and the $3,000,000 CN International Grand Prix on Sunday. 

Spruce Meadows flags were everywhere

We spent the first couple days in Calgary exploring, and heading up to Banff. Downtown Calgary is really nice and we found some great Vietnamese food, as well as an awesome steak house. Banff and Lake Louise are absolutely stunning and totally worth the day trip to go see. 

Lake Louise

From where we were staying in downtown, it was about a half hour drive to Spruce Meadows. We didn't want to bother with renting a car, driving, and parking, so we took the light rail from downtown to the end of the line, where there was a free shuttle but that took about 5 minutes to drive to SM. 10/10 would recommend; we beat the horrible traffic leaving as the bus got priority over cars, the light rail was clean, easy to use, and only took a half hour. The only problem was Sunday the last shuttle bus was at 5, but the GP didn't finish till 5. We ended up missing the final jump off to be able to make the shuttle. 

 Obviously we were only able to see the spectator parts of the grounds, not the stabling/warm up areas, but the grounds were lovely. Definitely the nicest venue I've ever been to. They had a bunch of food vendors, shopping, and a lot of clean bathrooms. We did a little shopping on Saturday; I ended up with a hoodie and stickers. When we got to our seats, I noticed there were a lot of people walking the Nations Cup course, and most of them looked like regular people not riders or trainers. After overhearing someone else, we realized they had the International Ring open for everyone to walk so my mom and I headed out to walk the course. I'm still in shock that anyone could step out into the International Ring and walk a Nations Cup course. I can't remember any of the major US Grand Prixs that I've been to where they allowed that. 

I was unfortunately ill-prepared and didn't know the course, so I kinda stumbled around trying to figure things out, and then we ran out of time. But it was awesome to see those big fences up close and to walk some of the lines. The open water looks huge standing next to it. I also failed at taking pics, mostly just being too in awe of being on the course. 

Hey look, the jump is a tall as I am

They didn't open the course up on Sunday, so no walking the GP course. But we were sitting close to the clocktower where riders enter/exit and a lot of riders/trainers/groms/owners were coming and going and I was able to hear a bit of what they were saying about the course. And watching some of the trainers and grooms while their riders were on course was almost better than watching the riders. There was a Belgium coach that almost fell over the railing while watching his rider. I was able to see Martin Fuchs, Jenn Gates, the Philippartes brothers, and Steve Guerdat up close. And those were just the riders I recognized. 

Captured the moment McLain had a rail on the double liverpools


It was an incredible experience and I'm so thanful for my parents for making it possible. I know I won't ever go to Spruce as a rider/owner, but hopefully I can make it back as a spectator again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Breathe like a Dressage Rider

 We had a bit of a breakthrough in our canter transitions in my lesson on Friday. While we've had slow by steady progress on them, the first one or two each ride are still a bit rough. And while Trainer A has managed to do walk-canters, I've had a lot of trouble managing them. 

Mya, the other chestnut mare, is a very, very expensive International Hunter Derby hopeful and I told Cinder to soak up all of her knowledge when they were in the cross ties together

It didn't help that on Friday Cinder was very not feeling it. It was hot and oddly humid, and there was no breeze moving the air around. When I went to get Cin she was in the middle of her afternoon nap and reluctantly got up when I opened her stall door. She was behind my leg the whole lesson, even when we started jumping. While maybe not the lesson I had been hoping for, I did learn a lot on how to ride "behind-the-leg-Cinder."

Will work for cookies

During our flat warm-up, I was struggling more than usual with the canter transitions when A stopped me and apologized. She asked if she had told me about the double breath inhale. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about, and she explained that since you can't use your voice in dressage, a lot of dressage riders use breath cues with their horses. A does a quick double breath inhale, like two quick sniffs, as she's asking for the upward canter transition. She then sent us back out on our circle to try it, and what do you know, it worked wonders. Our transitions were much more prompt, and we even managed a decent walk-canter. 

Very happy with how she's looking right now

 As I said above, the jump portion of the lesson was a bit of train wreck. I kept seeing the long spot,  while Cinder, who has finally learned to wait and add the stride, kept seeing the short one. We had a couple spectacular chips, before I got after her and made her take the long ones. We ended with an outside line that was a long 5 or short 6 and since the jumps were 2' and Cinder was not inclined to go forward, A told me to do the 6. I came in thinking wait for the six, but we ended up waiting for the 7. Oops. The next time through I let her flow more, and even then on stride 4 I realized it was going to be long and I was determined we would not chip, so I sat down, dug my heels in and clucked like hell. We got the six and then did the line one last time to smooth things out. I still had to leg her down the line, but not nearly as much as the time before and we quit with that.  

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Can You Not?

 Following the show, Cinder got a couple of easy days. A took her out on the trails Tuesday and did a stretchy arena ride on Thursday. Apparently Cinder had more energy than we thought she would. When A was turning her out Thursday night (she was on night turnout till this week) Cinder decided to choose violence. 


The horses are usually led double with a pasture mate and A was taking Cin's current BFF Violet out with her. Cinder objected, tried to kick Violet and almost got A who was in the middle. A let go of Cinder, who then proceeded to take a jaunt around the parking lot till she somehow got her lead rope caught in her hind shoe. She yanked the crap out of her head and destroyed the rope, but then stood quietly till A could come rescue her. 

Then Saturday when I went up to ride I found the above on Cinder's right shoulder. She had been inside for a couple of hours and it looked fresh, so who knows what she did in her stall. I washed it and since she didn't seem bothered by it, decided to ride. She was having a total baby brain day, spooking at the new quads parked at the end of the arena (fair enough), spooking at a gate jump that was on the ground next to a cross rail (not fair as she's jumped that gate multiple times), forgetting she knows how to pick up the right lead, and being super distracted by two other horses who joined us half way through our ride. It was one of those rides that I was just happy we managed to w/t/c each way without dying.

Finally, when I went up on Monday to ride I was greeted with this. Super swollen left eyelid and weepy eye. My first thought was that her allergies were acting up, as it's been super smoggy/hazy/dusty and we've had poor air quality alerts all week. I put a compress on her eye, which she loved, and smeared some ophthalmic ointment on it before shoving some banamine in her mouth. I also put her on Platinum's Skin and Allergy supplement, which I used last year for some hives. She also has two fly masks she'll wear 24/7 and we can rotate and wash them every couple of days. A has been putting the ointment on for me and said it's looking back to normal, which is great.