Thursday, June 22, 2017

CAMELOT: Last Takeaways

Go Bacon going
I came to some conclusions from my time at Camelot. Or general musings. They might be useful for you, they might not. Or they might just be entertaining. Some of it was for me.
I did not get a picture of a frog. So here is a tiny dog.
1. There are lots of frogs!
       Frogs everywhere. Don't know if this is typical or not, but it brought me joy. I hope I didn't squash one because they were tiny. But they would be hanging out in horse water buckets, come shooting out the spigots when I turned the water on, and go hopping away when I walked through the grass. So many frogs.
Tiny dog on course.
2. Sometimes people take showers together
      I went to take a nice long hot shower in their shared showers on the grounds. And when I got there, there were three girls (two teenagers and a woman) in one shower. I did not stay. It was weird.
Meat showering.
Meaty showering in a different water complex.

Not a hind end I want to ride.

Not sharing his stick
3.  The castle
         For cross country, the venue has an awesome castle replica thing for people to stand on and watch. The announcer is also up there, so you can hear everything and see almost all of the course. It is very helpful and pretty darn cool. And extra fun when you get to ride through it for your course.
It has lots of stairs. But that's alright.
4.  Dog friendly
        Camelot was very dog friendly and the organizer even promoted dogs being off leash. I was ok with this when people weren't riding, and that's how it mostly stayed. Our dogs really enjoyed the cross country course when we walked it. Especially the water jumps.
They are silly.

This thing is extra special.

Dis how I run?

She had to test the moon drop.

Best jump judge.
5.  Husband is awesome
         Blake was the only boy to come with us on this trip, and though we could probably get through all of that without a boy, it is nice to have him there. He videoed, photographed, brought water, helped hold horses and dogs, carried hay and shavings, watched Wonder Woman, gave me high fives and hugs, and massaged my sore sore body. And drove us there and back. So yeah, he is pretty awesome.
This appears to be my only pic of hubs of the weekend. I failed!
6. Bloggers won't make you feel stupid
        I had a real fear of meeting Megan, Kate, and Nicole. Not because I thought they were going to be mean and laugh at Bacon and I's performance or anything, but I do have quite the social anxiety. It almost felt like a job interview and I didn't want to fail their expectations (whatever they may be). I also struggle with speaking, especially when I don't feel good (stupid Lyme), so I was worried that I was going to sound stupid. But I never felt stupid or afraid, because all three of them are excellent people. I highly recommend meeting any of them. A+. Everyone was kind and supportive and fun, just like they are in Blogland, who knew?
Do these people look scary? No. They do not.
I also enjoyed watching Nicole and Murray rock it out there in each phase, even if Murray did throw down some of his trademark gang signs in dressage. They came out swinging each time, Nicole rode him well and rode the horse she had under her every stride and it was so cool to see in person. They are a team and I was glad to be on their side cheering for them, and to have them cheering for me too!
 My pants look ridiculous.
7. You should go
       If you find yourself wondering if you should go to Camelot or not, you should. They are still trying to get off the ground, but are making improvements and are off on the right foot. Unfortunately, it sounds like if they don't get a certain amount of entries next year (I think 150?) they will call off the event for good. There was a friendly, fun atmosphere with a cool theme and lots of frogs.
If you don't go, my head will fall off.

Monday, June 19, 2017

CAMELOT: A Journey- My Horse is a Badass

Just a gallop fence
I had forgot to mention that while in show jump warm up I was starting to feel dizzy and weak. Fortunately, I was able to get a drink of water and kind of shake it off enough to ride through the course. So when we started to tack up for xc schooling later that afternoon, I wasn't so sure how I was going to do because I still wasn't feeling so great. I figured I would just jump a couple of things and call it good, or just toodle if needed. Especially because my damn crazy mare STILL wasn't tired.
Splish splash

And launch
I also threw on a french link cartwheel bit because Bacon's gag was causing a rub and like stated previously, she seems to be getting a little grumpy with it (probably because it rubs!) and I need a little help with her pulling my arms off. I knew right off the bat that this bit was not the one to help my arms. She thought it was pretty great because it made me pretty invisible. We started with a brief warm up around the main water complex and then started splashing right in, practicing going off and up the the water banks and eventually stringing them together. Water is the best. I love water.
And up

Training water jump in

Just love the colors
I did the training line through the water again and asked E if I should try the prelim line. She advised trying the first jump, and if that went well, coming back through and stringing the combo together. First jump went fine, so I came back around and did the line, with the second jump a super skinny faced chevron out of the water (skinnier than we had ever jumped before). She nailed it perfectly, but stinky husband missed the shot. Turd on a stick.
Yeah, I know. She's attractive. But lost some weight on this trip. Sigh.

I had to jump the dragon
Coming down the hill from the drop. Loved the background.

We did the training drop again, and then E urged us to do the prelim drop because if we could do that one, then any future training drop we had on a course shouldn't ever be a problem. I gulped, my heart skipped a beat, but we headed up the hill towards the drop. Don't look down, just look ahead and ride where I want to go. And that sucker rode nicer than the training one. I was all smiles. We were going to move towards the corners, but I wanted to jump the prelim dragon wing, so Bacon and I tackled that too. And she made that seem like a novice fence.
Over the second element of the drop with potential storm coming.

Over the prelim water jump

And the most epic pic of the weekend. The prelim drop.

With the prelim dragon wing!
Off to the corners we went. The training corner is very inviting and open, so I wanted to try the prelim corner to get Bacon used to jumping corners without as much space and to see if she had a thought about running out at it. Of course, she did not. She trucked through the water, and aimed smack where I wanted her at that corner and pinged right over it like a pro. So many pats and good girls where cooed at her. After we were done playing in that area, we headed towards the coffins.
Prelim corner, check!
Bacon skipped over the coffin in the correct three strides this time, but next to us was the prelim coffin. It was comprised of a ditch, jump on a bump, and ditch on the backside. I had never seen a coffin like that before and really didn't know how Bacon would react to that one. E rode through it first and said it rode great and to give it a try. So we headed to it and oh lordy, it was hilarious. Unfortunately, as I was going over the middle part of it, the camera ran out of space, but Bacon's ditch efforts were hilarious and had me busting up laughing. It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough for me!
Mom, what the hell kind of gopher was over here?

C element of training coffin.

B element of prelim coffin.
We headed towards one last prelim combo to see what it looked like. E was pretty happy with her horse, but thought Bacon would do well over it and that we should give it a try. Really, I think she just wanted to make us do things. It was a vertical faced jump angled on some terrain followed by three strides to a large roll top also on an angle. We went back quite a bit to get a good gallop going and made a go at it. Bacon had a bit of hesitation at it, which made us come in to the next jump a bit long, but we flew. I had to take another shot at it, being unhappy with that, and there was no hesitation the second time but now she was feeling too strong and dragging me through the jumps. I knew I no longer had enough strength to properly and safely jump her over these things, so I called it a day and just galloped her out on the track for a minute and cooled her out. And she danced and jigged all the way back home.
My other favorite from this adventure. Except I don't know what I am doing.

So, basically, my horse proved to me that she is even more of a bad ass than I thought. She will jump whatever I point her at. Doesn't matter what I am doing up there really. Just aim and hang on. I really loved all of the themed jumps at Camelot and the openeness of the course, as it is very different from the trees and terrain from the stuff we have done in the past. And, as you can tell, it was Bacon approved.
This is my mare and she is psycho but awesome.

Friday, June 16, 2017

CAMELOT: A Journey- Victory

Long, twisty course
We all awoke bright and early wondering how M was doing that morning. Our mission was to kick ass in show jumping and then hurry to the hospital to visit her. It thought about raining a little bit, but it didn't. We braided, I tried to settle my non-tired crazy ass pony down, and then we tacked up and headed to the warm up. Bacon was being quite polite in there, which was great considering there was a crap ton of trainers (and their dogs) doing whatever they wanted and confusing the hell out of me. They were constantly standing in front of jumps, or changing them, or just standing out in the open in warm up. I understand some assistance, but please remove yourself from certain areas because I may run your ass over. Sorry for the rant.

Love this one. Photo by Darwin Sloop.
We jumped the few jumps we could and she was listening and responsive and awesome. And then waited and waited. We tried to watch E's round from the side, but could only catch two jumps. I jumped her twice more to wake her up again and she wasn't quite as game but still good, and then headed in a few minutes later.
Photo by Darwin Sloop.
One day I will learn to sit less in the back seat, 
Basically, I rode like poo. I expected her to take me to the first jump a little more like she usually does, and I flubbed the distance on it and it was gross. It was a flat round and I struggled to keep her back on her hind end, and having some Equifuse on my gloves did not help as my reins were constantly sliding through my hands and getting long. She had some nice jumps in there when I actually rode her to the jump, but mostly she saved my ass out there. If I had a helmet cam on, you would hear me constantly apologizing to her. We rubbed at least two rails, and the shark rail we hit hard, and by some magic I think cast by M, it didn't budge. We came in with a double clear round to finish on our score (for the first time ever at a recognized event!)
Sharks at Camelot!

Second to last jump! Photo by Darwin Sloop.
I knew that we had bumped up a place at least, but I wasn't sure where we sat. When I was called up for third place, I was astonished. I was so proud of my horse and what she had done out there for me all weekend. She proved to me that she was ready to be a Training level horse and was done with that Novice nonsense. Even though she was a psycho all weekend in her stall, she made up for it with her patience and tenacity in the arena and xc course. We even got a 6th place ribbon for optimum time and a 1st place on the training team (there was only one, but I don't care, that was my first team and I ended up being that best scorer on there BAM). I thought for sure we would be last, so I was happy to report back to M that I was successful. The junior novice rider won her division too.
Good job Bacy! With skull stock tie. 
We put the ponies away, stuffed them with cookies, and headed to the hospital. We got to check out M's external girdle hardware and see her not so fun swelling, but she was still smiling and telling us what for. Her husband had gotten in nice and early that morning too and was taking great care of her. Knowing that she was in good hands and that she would be scheduled for the next surgery in the days to come, we said our goodbyes and told her we would be awaiting her arrival home soon. Back to Camelot we went to get ready for some xc schooling.
We defeated the dragon. Look at the defeat in his eyes 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

CAMELOT: A Journey- The Day of Broken Bones

Weee big table!
We thought the first couple of days were a little rough, but really it was just a warm up for xc day. I walked my course three times with friend E, and thought I had a good grasp of it. The two things that stood out the most to me on course were the coffin and the drop. Bacon had only done one coffin combination ever, and that was more than a year previous. And we hadn't done any drops in a while as well, especially one of that size. Ever. I was also hoping to make time, but most importantly, just have a safe and fun ride.
Jump the Meatball!
Warm up wasn't too bad. Bacon was pretty strong and some of the previous head flipping started to show up again. I don't think she is in love with her gag snaffle anymore, but it was the only bit I knew I could do something with out there. She loves to hang on your arms and pull, and I need help getting her up onto her hind end coming up to a jump and to SLOW DOWN a little bit. But, she jumped the warm up jumps fairly politely, and before I knew it, it was time to head to the start box. Once I got over there, I looked up and could see a horse running loose on course and EMTs casually walking to the ride down at the coffin combo. That was a confidence booster. The nice start box ladies just kept telling me how shiny Bacon was and that she was like a rainbow. After what seemed like an eternity, I was allowed to go. Bacon started to dance for the countdown. She is figuring this game out.
A view of the coffin combo

And the first water complex
Off we went to the first jump. She took a small look at it, but a little kick and she was over. Next was the giant axe jump. Bacon looked over at the highway next to us, then the jump judge, then the jump and I gave her a kiss. That seemed to get her head the game, and she shot off like a rocket after. The next few fences were a blur of her hauling ass and me trying to ask politely for her to slow the hauling of the ass. That wasn't working and with the coffin coming up, I had to sit back and use all of my strength to get her to listen. Finally, I got through to her. Instead of the nice three stride to the ditch, Bacon made it into two, but we made it through the coffin.
Through the first water
Under and through the castle tower
My watch was not quite set right, so I wasn't sure if I was hitting my minute markers correctly. We soared over the oxer, tables, trakhener, and upright. The two water complexes were a non issue, and the drop was coming up quickly. I just tried to sit back and not look down as we approached the edge, which was good because somebody has a crazy hind end. A quick turn at the bottom over the B brush element and we were on our way to the last jump and finish. As we were jumping the last fence, I heard my watch go off, so I thought I had time penalties. Optimum time was 5:10. I came in at 4:45. Yeah, no time penalties. My horse was thrilled with herself, I was thrilled with her, and she wasn't even tired. I went to cool her out and put her away.
Second water complex
All smiles. Photo by Darwin Sloop.

And out of the water. Photo by Darwin Sloop.

We had a junior rider in the Novice division, so we were watching her round finish up on course when we were on the super cool castle watch tower. As we were standing there, E got a phone call and all I heard were "down in warm up, horse flipped". Our friend M was warming her mare up for their Novice run when, at some point, she got claustrophobic between two horses, spooked and went straight up and over. We raced over on the mini bikes as fast as we could to find M laying on the ground, totally calm and coherent sharing that she knew she had fractured her pelvis because she heard the snap and she didn't want to move her legs. E is all nursed up and whatnot, so she went with the ambulance to the hospital and I took care of her mare. Fortunately, her mare looked great. Unfortunately, I believe part of this incident was caused by the chaotic warm up from Spokane where she was T-boned by another horse, and now her trust of other horses is quite shaken. So, we will have to see what we can do about that.
And I'm hanging on! Photo by Darwin Sloop

M made it to a great orthopedic trauma center about 40 minutes away. She had one surgery that evening to put in an external girdle and secure her many many breaks and to help control the bleeding. We were able to locate her husband, who was out on a remote fishing tournament and get him scheduled to fly out that next morning. She would need a second surgery later in the week to try and fix the damage and put her back together, and once stable, could be life flighted back home. Through it all, she remained optimistic and sassy. The swelling was quite impressive already the second day, but I did not hear one complaint. We just wanted to take her home with us.
So many broken pieces in there, ouch.

We made it back home from the hospital late late late that night. We were all feeling a little broken and sad, but ready to tackle the next day on behalf of M, who demanded that we come home with some damn ribbons. And I know I didn't want to let her down.