Thursday, April 28, 2016

Well, Here Goes Nothin...

Sooo, I may or may not have signed Bacon and I up for our first ever recognized horse trial. That's right, I said it out loud on here. I feel like I will jinx myself if I say anything, think anything, do anything. It is a horrible feeling. But, I waived goodbye to all of the funds I received from art projects (thanks guys!!!!) and signed us up for Novice at Aspen Farms.

So much excite
Aspen. Oh dear god. Every time I hear that word, my arms get all warm and the rest of my body goes numb. Every single time. I hope I get over this feeling by June 10th when we enter the dressage arena. Actually, I am only really hoping for not crapping my pants. And staying on. Actually, there is a list of things I am hoping to complete.

It goes: survive dressage, asthma attack free cross country/not falling off, remembering my course in stadium. And try to ride Bacon as best as I can. All I am really looking for out of this adventure is to finish with a number. I don't really think we will be all that competitive, but I will give it all I got. While breathing. Yes, must remember to breath.
All smiles.
My grandma and mom will also be coming along, which may or may not be a good thing. None of my family members have ever been to one of my shows, and they sure picked a big one to go to. Grandma is a nervous nelly, and always shouts things like "OH GOD" out of nowhere. Not helpful. What is helpful is her Xanax, and you bet your ass I will be snagging some of that. My mom just laughs and is super loud, so I told her she is to stand quietly in a corner. Husband will be coming along too, so I think he will just shove cameras in their faces and occupy them. And a good group of friends will be there to make sure I: inhale, drink, eat, breathe, etc.

The vet was out yesterday to do coggins and vx, and commented on how great she is looking and how it is nice because her ass isn't all that pointy anymore. That made me pleased. He also told me she was weird. Well, her owner is #weirdmusketeer, so it is fitting. I just hope I can do her some justice this year. And I hope she can keep her hormones and feels in check. So nervous.

We practiced our Novice B test that we will be doing in my arena with some cones. That were the wrong letters. Thanks, asshats at HorseLoverz. I have two Es and an M. With no K or F. The test proved rather difficult to do in my arena the size of a 20m square (big surprise) as the letters came up rather quickly. And I adjusted the size of my circles so they weren't super tiny. And screwed up where my second canter depart was supposed to be, but oh well. We ran through it, and though improvements need to be made, it wasn't a total failure. We actually had quite a nice dressage ride leading up to the test, but I can really see how much longer my leg is on the right versus the left. I don't know if that is me or the stirrups!
Can wrangle goats. Can hopefully wrangle family members.
Anyways, you can watch the video. Again, not really all that great, but it worked and my horse is super shiny, so that is fun. Also, we climbed over the sand pile where our first canter depart was supposed to be, so you can laugh at that. I really hope we can class it up better for Aspen!

Aspen. There is that word again.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Little Media

I was fortunate enough to have someone snap a few photos of Bacon and I on day one of our xc clinic in Tulip Springs. I was a little bummed out at first because I was really hoping for some footage from day two, our better day, but there are other things to be happy about. Like getting to go in the first place!

None of these are spectacular, as it was a pulling ride for me on a dragon that was very fast and flat over the jumps. I know she jumped the crap out of stuff on the second day, so that also makes me feel better. But anyways, here are a few shots.

Before battle
Simple novice ditch

Jump after ditch
Not even sure...
Part of our flat jumping....

Rolltop into the dip
A log out of the dip
Rolltop again
Fun jump right out of the water
Little chevron jump
Fun in the water after day one
Me in my other natural state
Oh yes, one photo on second day, plus my corner jump pictures!
I have forgotten recently the new rule established by Team Musketeer. You know, that rule that says you must have something positive to say about yourself every ride. So, I will say that I like my leg in most of these pictures. I feel like I am getting closer to creating a more solid base, although you can see that it gets thrown forward a little bit, but that is mostly me just trying to stick with the dragon. Plus, the rainbow unicorn socks (the same ones Bobby was wearing) are pretty much the best.

I made a photo on my phone to represent the dragon as well. Plus, you know, She Sizzles.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Finally Recovered

Yeah. It took me a whole week to recover from my xc clinic. That saddens me, and so does the lack of media from it, but that's ok. Because I know in my brain that it was awesome and worth it. I had learned a week or two earlier from my pulmonologist appointment that my lungs are larger than average, but that trap gasses so they don't work all that well. So, I should just be pretty happy that I had no asthma attacks! I was feeling ok enough (after a crappy morning) in the afternoon on Monday to ride, and the lovely Lindsey and Aimee came over to watch.

It was dressage day. Hard to follow up that xc clinic with dressage, but damnit, we need to do it. And learn to do it well. I ran out of magnesium for Bacon, so she was extra twitchy and snorty, but that has also kind of been her whole spring this year. I wasn't sure what kind of horse I was going to have under me, but either way, it felt great to be back up there.

She was a little distracted at the walk, and she is always bored starting with it, so she always tries to find other things to look at. We also were trying a new bit, a knock off Sprenger loose ring with a bean. She was quite fussy in the bridle for the whole ride though, with lots of head tilting and locking of her jaw.
Hey look, the hunchback of Notre Dame is still around.
We moved into the trot, and she felt pretty nice. A lot of the bend we had been working on was gone though, so there was a bit diving around on the forehand and shoulders not quite cooperating. I had to use some bigger half halts to get her attention, but she was still moving out pretty good. The canter was much the same, filled with nice moments and some not so nice moments. Aimee snagged some pictures of us, and we looked better than I  thought we might. But I am sure she deleted all of the ugly ones.

Another thing both friends noticed was my right side always pushed further over. Like I am consistently riding on my right seat bone. I tried to straighten out, but it was quite difficult. We ended the ride with a stretchy walk and more stretches on the ground. She must be feeling something different this year, as there is more sass and she is moving around quite a bit more. I do think she could benefit from some body work, so hopefully I can schedule that in the future.

I did another dressage school last night, and I was pretty please with the pony. She was much more cooperative to be on the bit, although a little heavy, and seeked the contact out, even with my reins a touch long. I am sad that I didn't have husband take pictures or video. She was more responsive to our trot-canter transitions, and we even tried a simple change in two steps. I have never tried a simple change like that, so that was pretty cool! I was pretty proud of my girl and gave her a nice and easy ride after she made it nicer for me.
Wiping off the drools

Thursday, April 14, 2016

We Like Comparisons

Let's face it. Us horse crazies, we like to see the change. Feel the change. BE THE CHANGE. Well, good changes anyways. Conformation shots? Yes please. Fun tack changes? Yeah, that too. Rider improvements? Uh huh. So, after our xc clinic, I thought I would look back and see what we looked like two years ago, when we started this whole jumping thing.

Just a warning, it may hurt your eyes.

Crouching tiger...

riding dragon.

Looking at the ears is not the answer.


Tilting forward with no leg is also not the answer.

Our first event derby, June 2014

First xc jump

 Yeah, see. I told you it might hurt your eyes. Don't get mad. I gave you fair warning. At least we look like this now:


Ah, yes. Progress is good. Now, time to make even more.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tulip Springs XC Clinic Report

Hello. Welcome to Tulip Springs. No, we don't come alive while you sleep. We promise.
So I didn't really say much about this upcoming clinic because I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to attend, thanks to a certain dragon in heat with some swelling in a hind from kicking a metal post at the show. But we wrapped it and took care of it, and while she was a little sore, she was raring to go and never unsound, so off we went to Tulip Springs in Kennewick, Washington on Friday. And I am going to apologize right now for the lack of media of our rides, I am hoping some pops up soon!
Uh, mom, I don't think we are in Idaho anymore.
She was quieter on this trailer ride, so that pleased me. It was a 5 hour trip, uneventful and I was so very nervous for this trip so I just tried not to panic on the truck ride there. I was especially nervous because I did not have my baby-sitters, Aimee, Lindsey or Blake there. I was on strict orders to EAT THE FOOD, DRINK THE WATER, and INHALE THE DRUGS. Got it. It does what it's told. Bacon ate her whole hay bag full on the way over, so that pleased me. Plus, I could shove her in a enclosed stall, so she couldn't kick uglies that offended her, nor could she run around in all the space. Off to a good start.
There were approx a million jumps, this is only just a glance. And heck yes, I did all the drops into the water.
I tucked the pony in for the night and breathed a little more easily. Our ride time wasn't until 10:30, so I had some time to sleep. Only I didn't and got up at 5:30. Ew. Bacon was rapidly weaving in her stall and dinner was mostly uneaten, so that was a bit of a bummer. I took her for a walk around the course in the morning just as the sun was coming up and it was pretty lovely. Her eyes were buggin, but she was pretty respectful and grazed some. Until others joined us. Then she got a little pissy when I wanted to move her shoulders over and threw a little fit, which landed her an ass beating. After that, she was much more polite. But I could tell I was going to have my hands full later.
There was a herd of about 40 horses running around next door all day. And peacocks meowing in the woods.
Pony was pretty calm as I tacked her up, but I wasn't. What was I worried about? Mostly just the ability to have the strength to ride a strong horse around a field. We strolled out into the field and she was all snorty and stiff and not all listening. But when we got to the water, her focus was redirected to toodling in the wet fun, and I started to smile and breathe again. I told the trainer what our focuses were (to not haul ass at solid jumps) and how our spring was going. We have ridden with her before and have really enjoyed our rides. She knows us pretty well too, so that helps.
Look at all of that magical fun.
I don't even remember much of what we did Saturday. I know we easily went over the three basics (ditches, banks, water) like they were no thing, but when we added jumps into the mix, she began to heat up. She still hauled ass towards them and took charge throughout our ride. In between jumps, she would root down onto the bit and we would argue until the next jump would come up. I was getting so tired and a bit frustrated. She was jumping everything without hesitation, but she was certainly spicy.
  My biggest goal was to actually use my right leg (it was busy floating off into space) to make us straight and to make her more forward. Fast does not equal forward. I was also doing too much with my upper body over the jump and making it more complicated than it should be. Bring that upper body more solid and supportive, quite riding like a monkey. We strung some stuff together, but also worked on a roll top to roll top bending line through a big dip in the terrain. It was like a giant bowl with jumps sitting all around the top. I had a difficult time riding her through that almost every time. Plus, the drop into the bowl from the first roll top was a little intense, as was being ready for the jump out of the bowl. Although I was a little frustrated and extremely tired from our ride, we learned a lot and I mulled it over the rest of the day. The mare was finally tired later that night, but I felt like a zombie as I tried to stay conscious at the dinner table. How the hell was I supposed to ride on Sunday? I could hardly move.
Hardly tired. Meanwhile, I am dying.
I woke bright and early again the next day, with a ride time scheduled for 9:30. Bacon was so much calmer that morning during our walk and very respectful. We probably hung out for an hour with the sun sharing it's warmth as she grazed. Later on, I threw on my grandpa's doo-rag again under my helmet, tacked the creature and headed into battle. She was still snorty and dramatic on our stroll, but we got to work quickly and started over two different cabins to see where our horses were at. I asked trainer what I could do to better keep Bacon's head and forehand up and off of my hand, and she instructed where to hold my hands and to keep her forward. Don't worry about the head, just hold your line, keep your upper body strong and rider her FORWARD.
The bowl with roll top to roll top lines.
I waited to see what kind of dragon I had today as we headed towards the first cabin. And waited for the race car speeds. And waited. And then...up and over perfectly and in control and straight. We turned to the next cabin, a training size cabin, and again, perfect. What just happened? I got an "EXCELLENT" and we did the course again, added in a bending line cabin ride as well. And again, awesome. She couldn't keep her ants in her pants while waiting for her turn, but was so respectful when I rode her. I was smiling big time. Next, we did the same four jumps, but then did a tricky line after to a very upright vertical training ramp,  to a coffin (gasp!), the bending line roll tops through the bowl, and over a cabin two strides into the water and another cabin one stride out. Gulp. The first part of the course rode well again, and after watching the other two riders have a run out or having to circle before the vertical ramp, I wasn't sure how it would go for us. But I found our line, had a little pep talk with her towards it, and over she went. Next, our first ever coffin, which couldn't have ridden better, to the bowl (awesome) and the cabins and water (also awesome). I so wish someone would have gotten that on video, because it felt so cool.
All the cabins!
We then wandered over to the training level corner and discussed how to ride it. Our first attempt wasn't perfect, but I understood that we had come in a little under-powered and a more forward ride would fix that. And it did. She jumped the crap out of that corner too. I think I said "weeee!" as we went over it. Now that we knew we could all ride the corner, she set up another course. It was cabin into water, cabin out, downhill corner, around to our first ever trakehner (training level), to a prelim chevron into the bowl, through the coffin, back around to the roll top-bowl-roll top, gallop over a fat training house and drop into the water. It again, rode sooo well. I remember coming up the trakehner at a steady pace, hoping to bring her back a little bit, which she did, and she jumped the hell out of it. Everything just made us feel so bad ass. There was never a hesitation. The only horse in our group to not stop, hesitate, run out or have to circle. Trainer was so excited and proud of us. And I was so happy with Bacon. What a cross country champion. That same day, I told her that her brother had
gotten second at the Fork in Intermediate, so she must have not wanted to be outdone.
First attempt over the corner. 
I was so happy that I got to go. It was an awesome facility, with awesome people and a great pony. She may be freaking nuts sometimes, but she is always game for whatever I have planned and always steps up. Although, she was hardly sweating through any of this and I was dying. Today, I am still dying. And probably will be for a week. But that's ok. It was all worth it. I definitely hope we get to go back!
Let's do it again!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How to Train Your Dragon: A Guide to Surviving a Horse Show with a Mare in Raging Heat

So, as you may have noticed, Sprinklerbandit and I made it to the first horse show of the year. A friendly schooling show at a local barn that offered TOC dressage tests and jumper and hunter rounds as well. Bacon has been a pretty sensitive ride this spring, and I noticed that she was in a rather unfortunate heat when we were to be traveling to the show grounds. Ugh. We planned on having them stay the night before the show to make things a little easier on our incredibly chauffeur, Lindsey.
Bacon wishes she had Papa's curves.
Now, Bacon is your typical peeing all over themselves mare in heat. She just gets even more sensitive and crazy and nervous and touchy. There was fairly minimal weaving on the trailer ride there. But when we stepped off and stuck them in the stall, it was the most nervous I had ever seen her anywhere. She paced and weaved and paced, and we left the stall open between her and Courage because sometimes he thinks he is a stallion. Later on, I pulled her out for a hack around the property and into a big pasture. She was tense, but mostly listening. In the pasture she got a little rude, but I put her to work and got some stuff out of her. Despite her being crazy, she was still rideable and we even popped over the tiny xc jump out there. Well, more like sprinted at it, but I stayed on. There was not a lot of bend going on, many half halts, and opening of the outside rein and she kept wanting to drop her inside shoulder down, and I kept pushing it back into that outside rein. I was able to walk her stretched on a loose rein, so that was nice.
Bacon on a hill.
When we went back to put the into their stalls, people were filing in for the Open House party for the new addition to the facility, and a an even crazier horse that was already dripping sweat had been put in the pen in between Courage and Bacon. Oh goody. Bacon stayed calm for her undressing, but when I turned her loose, she fed off of the other horse and acted even more insane. She was also very offended by him and thought that kicking him might be the best option, but instead hit the metal fencing and wouldn't put her leg down onto the ground. More sighs.
This is connection, yes?
I grabbed her out and walked her around and she seemed fine. I think she mostly stunned it like a stubbed toe (although it is swollen today). Aimee and I moved our horses away onto the backside of the barn, as there were no other horses there. It was the best choice all the way around, and Bacon settled in a bit better, though still not excellent. We hung out at the party for a little bit, checked on the ponies, and then headed home.
At least the outfit was pretty good on my part.
Sunday morning, I was a little bummed when I showed up at the barn and my horse left some of her dinner still there. But she ate about half of it and drank and pooped and peed, so that was good. I checked in and proceeded to grab tack out of my trunk. Except for my dressage girth. Which was still at home. Whoops! Soooo, dressage was done in the jump tack/dressage bridle. It was a little gross looking (to me) but I like my jump saddle better.
Not too terrible.
We had to warm up in a cramped and dark indoor arena. At first, Bacon was not too excited about any of this. We walked around for quite a while, and then I held my breath asking for the trot. To my surprise, it was kept together and she wasn't piling 50lbs into my hands. That pleased me. It was a super conservative trot, where I minimally asked for bend because leg is equivalent to fire when you are in heat, but it wasn't bad. We cantered too, both directions, both without running into the transition. Then we did a little stretchy walk and then were called in.
Well, maybe a little terrible.
I knew the plan was to keep the test conservative. And that we did. She was pretty tense, but still obedient and remained consistent in the contact 90% of the time. There was little bend in our circles and length or swing in our stride, but they looked like circles. We had some stretch in our walk, but the comment on it was "hasty" as it certainly was. We got the incorrect lead on BOTH canter circles, but they were quickly fixed. We had our worst halt ever, where normally we grab an 8, but we stopped, so that was good. All in all, we earned a 38.3, which is better than I thought it was going to be. I'll take it.
A brisk morning.
I was fortunate enough to watch Lindsey and Aimee go around once each, and then went back to saddle the pony for jumping. I had the course pretty well memorized, and it you went clear through the first 7, you continued through 6 more jumps that was power and speed. We were one of the first ones to go, and I knew in warm up that I wasn't going to be able to do much except hang on. In 2'9", that was a correct thought. But upon watching the video, there was not enough pace in either of my 2'9" or 3' rounds. We went clean in the 2'9", but I just really couldn't find the rhthym or distances in the 3' round. It felt so horrible. And my saddle had slid forward sooo much, that it wasn't even on my horse's back anymore and a strap from the breastplate went around my knee. We did not go clean after taking a rail on the first jump.
Purple flowers!
All in all, it definitely wasn't our best show. But there are some things to be thankful for. Like the fact that my horse didn't dump my ass for the saddle incident. She didn't look at any of the jumps at all, just went right over. We stayed in the dressage arena and I didn't poop my pants. And I got a third in the 2'9", so that was pretty cool. There is a lot to look forward to this year and lots of room for improvement!
This dragon is the most saintly dragon ever. Like, HOLY HELL. Sorry Bacon. Thank you for not killing me.