Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Random Things I Discovered

Found a pond on a walk.
So, there were all kinds of new things that came into play at the Stanton Farms show. Not only did I discover that we could survive an event and even put in a little good work out there, I learned how to survive everything else.

Exhibit A: Hobbles
Dis iz my prizon and deez R my shacklez. 
People might get a little upset with me about this, but that's ok. Because I'm a honey badger. Baconator has been learning to wear hobbles at home in case they were going to be needed at the show. I have seen a lot of horses weave, but none quite exuberantly as a Bacon can when she puts on her crazy pants. She can do it at such lightning speeds that she begins to hover above the ground. I thought, maybe, if she can't do that, she will brain a little better. And she does. She can still walk fairly normally in her shackles, and even weave, but not like a psychopath. She does a little weave here and there, and then takes a nap and stays calm the whole time. She got to go on lots of walks and did not wear them at night, and this system worked very well. It kept her from injuring herself too, so that was nice.
This prizon food is delicious though.
Exhibit B: Horse Quencher
Flavor these, servant.
The handful of adventures that Bacon got to on earlier in the year determined that I needed to find something to encourage my horse to drink more. She would hardly empty a bucket in a day, and we just can't have that. My search led me to Horse Quencher, a flavored grain item that you empty into the water bucket and let sit for an hour. I ordered samples in apple, root beer and peppermint flavor. It turns out that Bacon much preferred the flavored water over the plain water bucket I had for her. Root beer being her favorite! It was super easy and convenient, and she consumed at least 2 buckets of flavored water a day. Samples (1 single serving) were bought through the website for $2.50 and free shipping. There is also a butterscotch flavor she may have to try!

Exhibit C: Foal Competition Jacket
Sassy tail flip.
I was a little worried how I would ride in my jacket. It is a little tight in the chest (damn you boobs) so I didn't know if it was going to restrict me. I used it for both dressage and show jumping. I was also a little worried about it passing the color guide, but no one questioned it. I did not notice it for dressage, but I was a little frustrated and dealing with a coiled spring as a horse. I was really worried for show jumping, but again, I did not notice it at all. It wasn't hot. It was stretchy and flattering, and I even got some compliments. I really adore it!

Exhibit D: Gag Bit
Gag engaged. Looking a little silly. But under control.
How dumb is an Alyssa? Pretty dumb. As is, let's test out a new bit out on cross country kind of dumb. Aimee lent me a small village of bits earlier in the year to see if there was something that would help me bring my horse up in front. She loves her waterford, but was starting to bow up and dive down into it like a horse on the track, and I spent most of my energy trying to bring her back up before the jumps. I'm not the biggest fan of switching bits, but hey, I can only do so much. She was known on the track as a difficult hold (exercise rider would come back with arms shaking), and I don't need that in my life. I'm a sissy lala. So we tried a three ring (NO), a rubber mullen mouth Pelham (sort of NO), and then I had the full cheek gag. I threw it on last minute, figuring she mostly listens and isn't too offended by bits, so we will see. Aaaannnnddd that is her new jump bit. She stayed up and fairly light and listening throughout cross country, and did fairly well again in show jumping. I think I need to do more adjusting, because when the bit is engaged, there is some major gaping of the leather straps, and she obtained a rub. So I will remedy that. But yay!
So excited. Look at all of that excitement.
So, there you have it. That is some of the major things I took away and experienced while up there. All good things! I had a happy and sane (and hydrated) horse, I looked cool in a jacket, and bits are nice things when they work. Do you learn new things at every show?
Icing done right, by Noah Constrictor. Hay, water and spa time.

Friday, August 19, 2016

And the Finale!

I always get soooo nervous doing show jump courses. I am getting better about this, but I am always afraid I will forget where I am going. So when I walked my course, I took pictures and then walked it three more times. I had it down. There were some big swoopy turns, and a few tricky little questions. Like a looong two stride to a looong five stride, a angled vertical that made you want to go right, but we needed to go left, and tricky natural or white poles lined up with the fence line that made reading the jump a little difficult.
Once again, Bacon was dead asleep as she got tacked up. I tried to breathe and went Xanaxless for this day. Not on purpose. We were dressed to impress and then headed to warm up. This time with a car right on our ass the whole way up there. Thanks asshole! Warm up was not good. Bacon kept thinking about leaving the arena to go back to the barn and would throw her shoulder to it as if she was magnetic and it would pull her back to her stall. Blake came by to give me a drink of water and see how it was going. She did not know what standing still was and threw a mini fit. Our warm up jumps were real rushy and she knocked the vertical hard and then overjumped after that, so I gave. Literally threw my arms up, put her on a walk on the buckle and sang "Don't worry, be happy" and "Bury me with my guns on".
Look at me all looking where I am going.
People were creeped out. But that's too bad, because when you are at the Bacon and Slave Show, weird things happen. We actually went during our scheduled ride times that day and had a ring steward that was competent. When it was our turn, we headed out towards the ring through the forest trail and my horse seemed to get her brain back a little from our musical walk. I just shook all the competition thoughts out of me, went in there with a smile and assumed that anything could happen and that I would be ok with it. Annnnnd IT WORKED.
My favorite. 
Bacon did not even look at any jump. She went into a nice canter and started listening right off the bat. We had a few little awkward bobbles over two and three, but she didn't leave a whole horse length out and jumped them clean. She got quite a few of her leads, and I tried to keep my hands out of her face. I tried to remember the discussion from the first course walk with the friend riding prelim about where to square the turns and where to kick (that looong two stride) and I even counted strides between lines. For me to have any thought other than WHAT IS THE NEXT JUMP AND TRY NOT TO DIE is just amazing.
Bunnies are creepy.
Tricky oxer is no big deal.
After we cleared jump 10, I was beaming. The round felt very controlled and was one of the nicest we have had. I exited the ring to a grinning husband who was proud of the pony and waited for the next few riders. The person ahead of me had a stop, which put me into fourth place, and I stayed there. She was awesome. We got to go back in for the award ceremony to get our matching ribbon and do the victory gallop. Somebody thinks victory gallops are the best thing ever, by the way.
Jumping like a real horse!
All the loves!
All in all, my first recognized event was a total blast, just like I feared. I am already chomping at the bit for the next one, though funds will be a little hard to gather for it. I had qualified for our area championships in Aspen for next month, but we didn't have the money for it and entries just closed. Plus, I don't think we are quite at the caliber to compete against the best on the toughest courses and in the dressage ring. Perhaps we will make it to Spokane. But seriously, I am just so happy. My horse went out and performed each time. Of course, we have so much to work on, but now I feel like we are real eventers. She ate and drank and slept and never took a lame step. I survived a long horse show, and ate and drank and slept. My husband was the best at being a horsey husband and I had great people to help me while I was up there. We made it guys. WE MADE IT.
And just so you all know. My saddle got to go around the intermediate course at Rebecca Farms. And then I forgot to shorten my leathers, and I went around xc and sj with them that ridiculously long. Go ahead and laugh. I did.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

This is What We Came Here For

More screenshots. I apologize. 2nd jump
When I went to go walk my course for xc, I really didn't know what to expect. I mean, I did, but this was a real event. With realness and things. It started off easy enough with two straightforward fences, although fairly upright (a popular theme for jumps here) and then bending towards the cutest little corner in all the land. Heck yes, a corner!

Weeeee tiny corner!

Next up was a cabin, and then a turn into the water. I thought the water looked not so inviting, as it was dark and kind of just appeared. But no fear, Bacy loves the water. A jump out of the water led us to a half coffin, and then disappearing into the woods. Some of the bigger jumps were back there, but it was a fun twisty ride through the trees, uphill and downhill. Finally, we were supposed to pop back out, jump a two stride line, up a bank and then head for home with a handful of easy jumps on your way out. I was a little worried about riding through the trees and possibly the jump judges, because Ol' Spider Legs has never done that before. And you know, since our last adventure over xc was in the beginning of May.
Christmas cabin!
Of course, she warmed up quite well for xc, despite the crazy children and adults flying around allover. She is always quieter for xc. Once again, they changed the ride times and bumped us up earlier, but we had had ample warm up, so that was ok. Before heading in, one of my travel buddies' pony slipped and fell on top of her in front of me, so that made me nervous for slippage out on course. I was also nervous about the Bacon Foot. It was pretty hard and bumpy out there and I had no idea what it would think about that. But, I remembered to turn my GoPro on, and my watch and headed out on course.
Oh just kidding. Tiz only water.
I had to laugh, because Bacon was totally confused and did not know which jumps to jump when there was a big line of them. I tried to guide her straight, and she would just barely lock on and jump. I thought she might be super distracted, but she was rolling along quite well. And then, the water APPEARED OUT OF NOWHERE HOLY CRAP. An unsuspecting me felt my horse jam on the breaks, and then immediately put me back in place by charging through the water at a trot. No stops, thank goodness. Up and over the half coffin and into the woods we went!
Out of the water we goooo
Over the ditch and over the penis, er, I mean fox jump.
Right as you turn the first corner in the woods, a jump appears. No biggie. And then for a gallop to the big table. Bacon listened well through the woods, and that was probably one of the funnest things I have ever done. I took my time though, and really really slowed her down going downhill. I was a little spooked after watching our friend fall. We jumped all the things, popped back out into the fields (where she slipped, damnit) and jumped the two stride, up the bank, and out towards the finish. Except my watch started beeping louder beeps at me and I realized that our time was up.
WILD I TELL YOU (this was the two stride line)...

Gah. Damnit.
This hardly qualifies as a bank to a giraffe.
I galloped her on a little bit towards the last two jumps and came home with 11 time penalties. I'm still bitter about that one. But I am ok with it for the most part because I was just trying to keep the pony safe. And I really had no idea what speed I needed to be going. Now I know!
Almost home. And about the time my watch started to sound pissed off.
I was so happy. The whole time, I was just smiling and having a great time and I didn't feel like death when I got off. My pony was great, and not even tired, which was impressive. She cooled off immediately and seemed very proud of herself. She should be. She was awesome. Later that evening, we went to check scores and I saw that four people had been eliminated in our division. And one person had two stops, so I was officially bumped up into 5th place! But could we hold it together for show jumping?
Not even tired. Not even a little.
Enjoy all of my sound effects...

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Curse Has Lifted

That's right. Part of the reason I disappeared on here is because I didn't want to jinx our possibility of finally competing in our first recognized event. And guess what guys. It happened!
Where R we going?

Baconator and I headed off to Stanton Farms bright and early Thursday morning with some fellow horse friends. Bacon knew immediately that something was up because the fluffy halter and shipping boots came out. She started to tremble once near the trailer, and I thought, Oh crap. What have I gotten myself into? Fortunately, she hardly weaved at all the whole way there and unloaded calm and cool. Which has not been her go-to lately at all.
Where R this?
After getting everyone and our camps all situated, we had a quick dressage hack in the warm up arena. Oi. I had me a sizzling mare. She was very distracted and wasn't sure what was living in all of the trees around us. A very different atmosphere from what she is used to. But she took a nice nap in her stall and seemed very content the whole rest of the day. She drank well and ate pretty well, which is also not her go-to. Yay Bacon!
Outfit win
Our ride time was supposed to be at 9:15am Friday morning, so I thought I would have plenty of time to watch our friend go at 8:00 for her first prelim on that horse. This event happened to be paired with a pony club rally. Which they decided should go before the event riders. And apparently these were freestyle dressage rides, so they needed to set up the speakers and whatnot. By the time this was all said and done, our friend's ride time became 8:40. She put in a lovely test, and I rushed off to go get ready, not too worried about time because they announced they were running 50 minutes late. After 5 minutes, they changed their minds and said they were running 20 minutes late.
Somebody got a little tense. Maybe two somebodies.

Ooo, she looks round and not so pointy here.
Thus created a little bit of panic despite my Xanax on board. I tacked up as quickly as I could and got changed and tried to hurry to warm up. Of course, a four wheeler was right up Bacon's butt our whole trek up there. As I entered, I went over to the ring stewards and asked if I needed to check in or anything. No response. I rode a lap or two, came back and asked again because I could hear my number being announced somewhere. They then told me that they skipped me. I was allowed to go down to the show rings, where another motorcycle appeared out of the woods (yay), and they let me go because they understood there was a lot of confusion about times.
Sometimes we got a tad bit of bend.

Ooo, sassy tail swish
I was sitting on one extremely tense, coiled spring of a horse, that had a cold back and was thrown in with the wolves. It was not a great test. It was not even a good test. But I rode as well as I could with the given circumstances. Bacon did not know what straightness was, nor bend, or relaxing her back and stepping through. I tried to just smile and shrug it off, but I was pretty bummed. We ended up in last place (10th, it was a tiny event) with a 43.7.
A tad bit of stretch in our free walk. Our medium walk was instead a medium jig.
And there was some thought about bucking going into our left lead canter....
After our test was finished, we did our bit check and I headed back to warm up. I wanted to end on a better note, and she put in some very nice stuff after actually getting loosened up. And I was happy with that. Plus, our outfit was pretty great. Unfortunately, I did not have a person to take pictures, but hubs did take some video. I was very happy he was there! But now that we had gotten dressage over with, it was on to the fun stuff the ne
xt day. Cross country!
Our trot got a little better after some canter.
Damnit. Sit up ho.
Almost done! Hang on!