Monday, October 5, 2015

By the Seat of Our Pants (AKA We Competed!)

After the finish!
I am sitting here wrapped up in a heater blanket on the couch trying to get past the small and taste of blood (that happens occasionally now) and replaying what happened yesterday. I was hoping to make it to this event derby all year, as it is the last one for the season. I was super skeptical given Bacon's foot status, but the weekend spent with Aimee and Lindsey and her prep leading up was pretty awesome. She has been getting lunged and lightly ridden for the past six weeks, so she was pretty fit leading up to the derby. We jumped this week in our arena and she was listening to my seat so well and jumping quite nice. But she was still ouchy for a stride or two when we would hit a rock. I hoped and prayed my super busy farrier could make it out in time to try out a different way to use the equipak on her fronts and to re-shape her foot a little. And he did, phew!

Waiting for the equipak to set.
Fancy frogs, heel support, sole support, traction, the works!
We added the frog support via re-shaping the foam that she stands on, while still covering her sole a little bit (she actually has pretty nice sole). Also had to slap on a little Vettec Superfast on her right front to help a weak spot. That was the first time the farrier had used Equipak this way, but he wanted to give it a try for me. Next time we will make a couple of adjustments, but overall it came out really nicely. And we didn't even use up the whole tube of Equipak, so that was nice. Shortly after, Bacon drug me onto the trailer again and we got her settled for the night.
Musketeers gang sign. Watch out.
The next morning we got everyone ready, I fixed B's braids (what? she was braided for the first time and didn't lose her mind? Progress!) and headed with Courage and a new handsome pony, Baylee, to the show. I walked my xc course once before getting Bacon tacked, and it was exactly the same from this spring. It had rained a little bit earlier in the week, but the ground was super hard packed and that made me nervous for the pony. If she showed me any signs of discomfort, we would withdraw.
Warming up. So fancy in braids!
I got her tacked up and hopped on for warm up, only to realize my pony was having a hard time keeping her brain in place. She would walk calmly on a loose rein, and then all the sudden think about spinning around and leaving town. And then back to relaxed walk. This was new. The show was behind, so we walked around a lot until a few riders out, and than began a more appropriate warm up. Or at least tried to. Bacon was tight and tense and speeding around and dragging my arms out of their sockets. I got after her quite a bit, and then she was expecting it, so Lindsey gave us a new plan. Sometimes cantering her before trotting is a better plan for her, so we did that, and every time she tried something stupid, I widened my hands and kicked her forward. Eventually she started to chill out a bit and we got some nice work before heading into the ring.
Born to shine on the center line.
Sit back you turkey!
The test was one of our best ones to date. My horse lost some of her forward in the deeper footing, but she trudged around mostly listening and on the bit. We entered pretty damn straight, but lost some of our bend. This was my first time riding the Novice B test and I wasn't quite sure how to ride the change of bend in the middle of the arena, so that came out wonky. And I lost my stirrup in one of the first corners, but recovered it fairly quickly. Our canter departs were a little unattractive too, but we got both of them and our canter circles were obedient and soft. Our free walk was pretty decent, but Bacy needs to work more on stretching instead of curling in and down. And we had a nice square halt with haunches in line! After all of that,  we got a 35, which was the first time I had received a score under 40 from this judge. Our novice test at the spring derby was a 41, so quite the difference!
Woo.
Majestic canter depart. Oh wait, no BUGS!
Ooo, that is better.
Pretty girl.
Trying that free walk think.
And done!
I rewalked my course one more time, and told myself I wasn't going to let the mini sunken road win this time. No leaning back, no losing stirrups, no losing a rein from the fall of an arm band. I watched my friends enjoy their ground poles rounds and then got ready. I put grandpa's doo rag on underneath my helmet for good luck and hopped on. Bacon was relaxed and so soft cantering around in warm up. She was listening to me and felt super comfortable. Not an angry step anywhere, and she felt so good with her new fancy feet. I finally remembered to use my optimum time watch, set it, and off we went. The first two jumps were stadium jumps, and Bacon hit the rail on the first one. One oops, but that was the end of that!
Um, is this a glorious picture? Good job Linds!
Second jump clear!
Ears are locked and loaded.
She felt great through the whole course. She jumped and cleared everything with ease. Every jump was fun. I could float her the reins just a tad and she stayed galloping the same pace. She would come back to me before the jumps (sometimes a bit strong, but still listening) and we dominated the sunken road. She didn't feel ouchy anywhere at all, and it was so fun using the watch because it would count down each minute, so I knew exactly where I was time wise. Which was good because without it, we may have gotten some speed faults. For not having jumped any xc jumps or questions since June, I was super proud of my mare. I thought we really clicked this ride and ate up the course. If I could do that every day, I would be the happiest person ever. I was super tired at the end of the day, but my pony and I were pretty proud of ourselves and I was soooo happy that she loves her new feet. Plus, we won!
 I guess we weren't going to touch that log.
I really love this little ramp jump. Don't know why.
Hay ramp!
Jumping beautifully over the cabin.
Gallop!
Not leaning back, ready for landing.
Up the bank.
Sketchy wagon jump.
Chord wood, no biggie.
More galloping.
Twisty table again! Had a stutter step up to it, but still jumped the crap out of it.
That was a fun one. The wind was blowing the brush around, but it didn't matter.
I got 99 problems but a ditch ain't one.
And galloping (slowly) towards the water to get close to optimum time!

33 comments:

  1. Congrats on winning and on a great outing. That course looks like a lot of fun!

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    1. Thank you! It is fun, but it is also pretty twisty and sketchy, and almost all left hand turns!

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  2. Awesome, congrats!!! Great pics :)

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  3. You and Bacon look like rockstars!! WOOHOO!

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  4. You guys look awesome out there! Congrats on your win!

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    1. Thank you! It was because of the purple ;)

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  5. OMG Alyssa, you are so bad ass! These pictures are lovely: you and Bacon look like you're having so much fun! I think the picture of your salute might be my favorite, but you look incredibly happy in the top picture too :)

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    1. I felt like a bad ass. And we had a blast! Mare is pretty good at rocking the halt-salute.

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  6. I love that you're always smiling. Life is throwing you difficulties and you just handle like a pro and do your thing! And look amazing whilst doing so. You are an inspiration.

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    1. Ha, there is a comment from another spectator in one of my videos from a different derby and her words were "she is always smiling!" You would be too if you were having this much fun. Thank you for the kind words :)

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  7. I love that you're always smiling. Life is throwing you difficulties and you just handle like a pro and do your thing! And look amazing whilst doing so. You are an inspiration.

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  8. Just love y'all as a team! The pictures are amazing :)

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    1. We are the crazy team and we like it that way!

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  9. So fun to watch you guys develop. :-) Y'all are fearless. Much respect.

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    1. What are you talking about lady, dressage is scarier than anything else. And I have had anal glands expressed by my face, and that is pretty damn scary...

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  10. These photos are so great! You both look so happy and fearless.

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    1. Fearless over jumps? Yes. Fearless in the sand rectangle? No!

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  11. You are one bad a$$ team my friend. I'm so glad you got to go and have this experience! Totally worth everything you put into it.

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  12. You have a beautiful position. I'm glad you had a fun weekend!

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  13. you guys look amazing!!! i can never get over how *easy* Bacon makes everything look with those long legs of hers haha. also those are some very fancy feet she's got - how cool that your farrier was able to find a solution and get her so comfortable!

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    1. She felt awesome over the jumps! Really using herself instead of her regular "I will just canter over this. Watch." I told my farrier I would give him a brownie for his work and that was the first time I saw him do a happy dance.

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  14. Love Equipak for tender tootsies!

    Also, you two are fabulous together. Can I please borrow a touch of Bacon's brain for my bay mare? Such a lovely girl!

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    1. I am pretty sure you want to small section of her brain that actually does the things, because the rest of it is a little insane...

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  15. You guys look amazing! Bacon looks so fancy in her dressage and look at her using her neck. What a gal.

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