Monday, October 31, 2016

Scary Jump Night 2016

 My favorite jump night of the year came rolling around again! Halloween is my favorite holiday. I am an avid fan of horror and gore, and my costumes generally reflect that. See below:
Clown Alyssa 2014

Plague Doctor Alyssa 2015. Still my favorite.
I thought I was going to be able to head off to Kentucky with Lindsey, so I wrote Scary Jump Night off in my mind. When it turned out that I wasn't going to be able to go, I did not have enough time to construct the costume I had in mind (Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde). I started using my brain to try and figure out what else we could pull off. One day I was weaving, and Blake had mentioned that I looked like I belonged in an asylum. THAT'S IT! Straight jackets, here we come!
We escaped the asylum. Had to slaughter some fake people to do it.
Unfortunately, I had caught hubby's cold, so I was struggling a little bit that night. I pulled my insane weaving pony and added the finishing touches before hopping on. This year's format was similar to last year, in that there was a costume contest, an equitation contest, and the high jump. I was determined to beat our jump last year (we made it to the 4' round) but I wasn't sure how we would do with a cold in progress and my horse wrapped in a sheet. But we were going to give a go.
Dragon, crazy, plane, and witch.

Such a good boy!
Mario and Luigi!
Fancy show jumper and her damaged rider
Jack Skellington
The scariest thing in all the land to many of the horses.
Rocking the poodle skirt on a poodle!
I am pretty sure my traveling event buddy (E) won the costume contest on her OTTB Justin. It was awesome, and he is a saint. Bacon was not too sure about him and kept a close eye on him. The other costume causing grief around a bunch of snorty ponies was Maleficent and her dragon. The greatest lesson pony ever, Sunny, was wide eyed and wanted absolutely no part of him. During the high jump, his owner fell off and everyone got to yell "LOOSE DRAGON!" and fortunately he only ran to the gate because the rest of the horses were thinking "HOLY SHIT GIANT HORSE FLY IS LOOSE OH GOD".
Sunny needing some assistance from the whitest Jamaican ever. I hope that didn't come off as racist.
Bing was clowning around.
Wonder Woman and wonder pony!
The arm was flapping around quite a bit. But didn't phase this creature.
Doing the equitation class.
Just some of our group!
We finally got the high jump competition rolling, and started it out as a ground pole, and going up one hole from there. The daylight was dwindling fast and I had no idea how we were going to get to the bigger stuff in time. But after the kids on their lesson horses did as much as they could, it started to go up a lot faster. Like 2-3 holes faster. Bacon and I joined in probably around 2'9". She gave the rail a hard rub at 3'3", but we didn't knock it down. She made sure to clear that sucker the next time around, and flew over it.
4' I think? And jumping awfully close to the standard. Yikes!
These photos don't really show how dark it was. 
I had forgotten my spurs, so our straightness was lacking as Bacon would blow through my right leg and aim for a standard. So I hung out in the back seat a whole lot as the jump started to creep ever so tall. By the end, it was me and two other horses left, and the jump was as high as it could go. When Bacon and I came around to it, I looked straight at it and hesitated, and so did Bacers. We tried, but we were so underpowered and I did nothing to help her out, so down it came. Only one horse came out victorious at that height, and it was a handsome 2* horse dressed as a poodle. Our other competition was a fancy professionally trained show jumper mare. So I was feeling pretty good about making it that far.
4'6" cleared!  And me hanging in the back seat and looking down. DAMNIT ALYSSA
And there I am STILL LOOKING DOWN after failing hardcore at 4'9". At least I am smiling.
They had the three of us come stand next to the jump for a picture, and looked at the height. 4'9". WHAT?!? For some reason, I was thinking it was 4' again. No wonder it looked so huge when we came down the line. Well, we definitely beat our jump from last time. I did not think we were going to make it that far. I was so proud of my pony for trying so hard and doing it wearing a sheet, dangling arm, and a weirdo on her back.
Last three standing. Feeling extra cool and not paying attention.
After I put her away in the trailer, we headed back to the spooky crowd and ate the richest chocolate cake ever. It was awesome.
Proud hubby and proud insane person. Go Bacon go!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

If You Are Bored...

...and want a laugh. Here are our videos from the Spokane Sport Horse Trials. You can tell that we are clearly still pretty new at all of this, but we are making progress. I am still so exhausted from that weekend. I don't know if it was a combo of the cold wet weather, emotional flooding, and riding the 5 times in four days, but I just haven't recovered like I did from my first horse trial. I don't think the cold rainy weather that we have been experiencing since then has helped either. My joints are PISSED.

I can't quite escape the discomfort that my body is throwing at me currently. My legs (muscles, joints, everything) have just been radiating pain. From my hips down into my feet. Sometimes I try to take some hydrocodone to see if it will help, and doesn't even do the trick. Add that to feeling weak and some angry lungs, and you get me on a couch all day. I hate it.

Anyways, I was a little hesitant to put these on here, but why not? We are certainly not pros (but we DIDN'T come home with a bloody mouth) and it will be fun to compare to our future horse trials. I am already pouting on having to wait until May or June to do our next one. But I am determined to get there. God willing. Camelot may even be on our agenda if we are lucky!

To help raise some funds to get to some of these shows, I did a photo shoot of a great gal and her handsome jumper. I think we got a few nice photos, though they are still currently being edited, but I hope she will be happy with them. Photos are a little easier for me to do, but I still might offer paintings too. I have been working on the same one for MONTHS because there is just so much detail to put in it, and tremory hands do not help. So I think my next ones will be expressionistic, and I may have to paint Bacon as a sample to see how it turns out. We shall see.

I will add a note that you should always make friends with your husband's friend (not ho-like, just make them cookies and stuff) because sometimes they buy you things. Like knock-off Dubarrys, Kitchen Aid Mixers, and the most recent gift, a black with grey binding Ogilvy dressage baby pad. Thanks Kansas husband friend! When I feel a little better, I am testing that new prize out right away.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Final Jumps

Guess what. It had rained again that night. But, I slept through it, thanks to the help of Xanax. Show jumping always makes me nervous, no matter what place we are in. But I had my course well memorized and I knew at least I wouldn't get lost out there. That's a start.

Bacon warmed up beautifully. It was the same arena as the dressage warm up, but by now she was totally over it being a thing. Either that or the presence of sticks calmed her. Even with the giant puddles on the landing side of the warm up jumps, she was pleased to behave herself for me. Before we knew it, it was time to head in.

I knew this course would be difficult for us because of the many long approaches. We tend to get flat to them and we don't need any help in that area. Again, I was under paced so that led to a few awkward jumps. She rubbed a couple (damn pole polisher club) but they stayed up. Which was a little annoying since she had jumped the crap out of the warm up jumps, but hey, they didn't come down. We finished double clear. Heck yes!

Almost everyone in my division came home clean except for first and second place. It was a tough field. We finished on a 34.3 and kept the 9th placing. Those two pesky time penalties kept me from 5th place. If I was in the other division, I would have finished 3rd including the time penalties. It was a tough field! But I was thrilled. We had completed our second horse trial. And we were both safe and sound.

It was a hard weekend. That I can't deny. But I was surrounded by great people, a helpful and loving husband, and a quirky pony to keep me smiling and carrying on. I loved the venue, despite the weather, and plan on coming back. And now I have another outfit matching ribbon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Ride For Grandpa -XC Day

Ears up and keep smiling.
It had, once again, rained all night. My stomach was churning, but it wasn't about the course. It was about the footing. I did not have Bacon's shoes drilled for studs, which was a poor poor choice on my part. I thought we would be good to go and that was wishful thinking. But surprisingly, the course soaked up a lot of the rain and the footing remained pretty decent. They had people up early working on the course with tractors and sand before anyone could think about it. I was impressed.
Forever awkward
I had watched two of our group members go and have nice rides (and a nice save!) before it was my turn to go. I went to check my phone while it was charging when I was tacking Bacon up. I immediately collapsed in a crying heap when I saw a text from my aunt. My grandpa Frank had passed away that morning. He had just entered hospice care that Wednesday, and my dad had flown out to Illinois to help the family with the process. I was stunned though, as I didn't think we were going to lose him that quickly.
Just galloping through
Blake came and knew exactly what was going on. He squeezed me tight and asked if I still wanted to ride. Yes. My grandpa Frank was incredibly strong, battling leukemia for several years, and I was going to be strong like him. I bawled as I tacked up my horse and put on my gear. My friends helped where they could, and I hopped aboard and headed to the very chaotic warm up. Just breathe, I thought. Just keep breathing.
Up the bank with those feets
Bacon was very game, and listened so well in warm up. She galloped politely by spinning, bucking, and bolting horses, took the warm up jumps in stride, and stood as I tightened her girth. We were ready. Out of the start box we went and off to the first jump.
She looks so beefy!
Bacon's first few jumps are always a little wonky, but we got our groove going after we hit the up bank. The first couple of jumps were nice and inviting: a log pile, cabin, table, up bank. After the up bank, it was straight up the hill and a quick turn to another table. Off through the woods to the jump I was most worried about. Not necessarily the jump, but the footing to it. It was on a steep downhill almost near the bottom. You needed enough gas to get over it, but not too much so you didn't slide into it. Bacon listened well, and made easy work of it. She was having a blast.
Never touch with the back feets
Off to the James wall we galloped, jumped the poop out of, and to the first water. She had to have a little peak at it, but was much better about getting in than last time and popped right over the jump out of it. I picked up the pace a little bit as we headed to the big wooden oxer, and she jumped that well too. This horse was on fire. Straight up the hill to our little corner bending line combo. She went right where I put her and hit the striding easily. A gallop on a muddy road to another table, and downhill again to the tiny ditch. She barely put forth any effort for the ditch.
Like I said

Don't touch.
Next was the brush, one I had been looking forward to, but it was laid out with a small portion of difficulty because it was on the top of a small mound. Have no fear, Bacon nailed it. Off to the trakhener we galloped, jumped a little awkwardly because I took to much pace (bad Alyssa!) and to our water jump combo. A little jump on a mound down into the water, quick right hand turn and jump out. It was so fun! My watch was yelling at me, so I kicked her on towards the finish.
Weeeee water!
Go Bacon go!
And out of the water
We had one table and one picture frame left, and Bacon jumped the table out of stride. A quick jump through the picture frame, and we were finished. Unfortunately, I racked up 2 time penalties, but that is ok. A safe ride is worth it. I was so happy with Bacon. She was amazing. I thanked her for giving me a nice ride for Grandpa and shed a few tears. I should also note that I had borrowed a friend's air vest. I have never worn an air vest. I also forgot to unhook said air vest when I dismounted. It felt like I had been shot when I jumped off and Bacon jumped sideways away from me but didn't leave. I apologized to her and stood there, confused. It deflated itself, and I started my crippled shuffle back to the barn. My legs hurt so bad, so I threw an arm over Bacon's neck and she shuffled along side me to bring me back.
Reach Baconator, reach!
Last jump!
My crew met up with me and took over Bacon's care while I sat down and drank fluids and tried to recover. We did it. We finished for grandpa. My horse was amazing, and despite the horrible news about my grandpa, she made me smile the whole trip. Even though she can be a ding bat, she is my ding bat. After xc, we kept our 9th place position. It was on in show jumping for the next day.
Just have to keep pushing on

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

So, We Went and Did Another Event

Got to show off our new FUN bonnet too!
I have been pretty good at disappearing on here lately. Sorry about that. I am not sure what my issue is, but I just have not had the want to post on here. But, I thought I could get some creative juices flowing for a post on our latest event: the Spokane Sport Horse Trials!

I knew after completing Stanton that I had way too much fun, and that I needed to do another one. But damn, these things are expensive for my family. The closest event is 6 hours away, so on top of the cost of the event is the cost of getting there. I knew Aspen was coming up, but it was championships and I didn't think we were good enough to mingle with that crowd. My crew that I travel with was also heading to Spokane and told me I needed to go. My husband said I should go too. And so we signed up.
The judge liked my outfit at least.
One of the cool parts about this trip was getting to use our NEW TRUCK to pull our very own trailer. I packed up the trailer, and on Thursday morning, we headed out for our second recognized adventure. It was a smooth trip up there, but we pleaded for the dark clouds to go away when we were getting closer to the venue. They didn't leave. Bastards.
I was impressed by the facility. It is still very new, and continually adding jumps, arenas, and hope to be hosting an intermediate division next year. Fortunately, they had a very large indoor arena to school in that day, so after we got settled in, I tacked the Bacon up. We were all alone in there at first, and Bacon thought it was a little scary. She soon settled down though, and we put in an awesome ride. She was fairly light in the bridle, bending, taking bigger trot steps (forever our struggle with a tense pony), and just listening nicely. We even did some canter serpentines, changing our lead with a two stride simple change throughout the whole arena. I was so excited for dressage on Friday.

Hi ponies!
But, I awoke to the sound of pouring rain on our metal trailer and it never let up. It continued until about 8am, and I had one fresh horse who was quite unhappy in her stall. Our ride wasn't until 4;19pm, so I watched our first and second rider go in our group, then tacked Bacon up while there was a break in the sprinkling. I was sitting on a loaded gun. When trying to walk into the warm up ring, she got caught on the electrical cord and started to back towards the puddle. Fortunately, she kept her cool and we escaped becoming real electrocuted bacon. One friendly lady commented on how fresh Bacon looked, and I laughed with her. It took a bit for her to calm down enough to do something with her body besides coiling up and shuffling along. Once she snorted a few relieving breaths, I called it good and put her back in her stall. We had one more rider to go, and then I would re-tack her up for our test.
Me trying real hard to breathe.
She was still a pistol for our real warm up ride, but my friend helped us through it. She was not as nervous about the sights and sounds around her now, but she was still keeping a lot of tension. Finally, it was our turn. I smiled and acknowledged the judge as we went around the sandbox, and promptly had the biggest spook I have ever sat on her at one of the dressage letters. Oh good, I thought. This is going to be fun.
"More forward to score an 8. 7.0"

"Against hand. 7.0"

"Starting to relax. 7.5"
He let us have a nice loop around the ring before whistling us in, and we headed down centerline looking a little drunk and nervous. I was able to get some ok trot out of her, but her go-to with nerves is to hang on to me and drag me to the center of the earth. I tried my best to keep her head up and my arms from falling off. We had some bending for our turns and circles, and even an ok canter transition into the left lead. She was very much on the forehand, but I was doing all that I could. (It is not a good idea to walk your hilly xc course right before doing your dressage test, btw). Our right lead canter was a mess, as we had to have a tiny sass party. I just laughed it off. We actually had a downward transition into the walk instead of a jig this time around, but it was quite abrupt. She gave me a nice stretch in her free walk, but was again hasty, and our centerline and halt was gross. But, we survived, and that is a good start.
"Trans unclear, resistance. 6.0"

"Stepped sideways and back. 5.5" 
I think our judge was exceptionally generous because we ended up with a 32.3, which is the best score I have ever gotten. That also put us in 9th place. The first place rider had a 23.8. So, a generous judge all around. But that's ok. All I knew was that I wanted to get around our xc course safely the next day, and that I crossed all of my crossables that it wasn't going to rain all night. It didn't work.
"Lovely horse- unfortunately a little energetic today" HAHA
Turd bucket after dressage 
She was proud of herself.