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!


  1. You guys are unequivocally BADASS. That place looks magical!!!

    1. It really was magical. And we felt pretty badass!

  2. Awesome! It sounds like a fabulous weekend.

  3. How awesome. You rock! I love the photo of Bacon in the stall. She's a beautiful athlete.

  4. What an awesome day!! You guys were freakin' amazing!!! Also - peacocks meow?!?!

    1. Thanks! And heck yes they do. Have a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxj-hWwm2Ww

  5. You guys look amazing! What a phenomenal experience!

  6. Ahhhhhhh I'm still so excited for you!

  7. You guys look amazing over that corner, it's huge! Sounds like an awesome clinic :)

  8. Holy shit.. you guys are amazing. Bacon is a friggen beast.

  9. Sounds awesome! You guys rock!

  10. Ummmm that corner is huge. Way to rock it!

  11. That corner looks massive!! Sounds like an overall good outing!

  12. What fun! You and Bacon are so badass!

  13. Woooo go get it girl!!! What an awesome ride - those corner pics are totally badass and I only wish you had more video too!!! You must be so proud of your leggy little dragon mare!!!