Monday, September 26, 2011

Ace Goes Back to the Fair!


  2 weekends ago we took Ace to another fair, this time it was the Kingston Fair.  The show was run under the regular Equine Canada rules, unlike the last fair which was run under AQHA rules.  This horse show is very cool as they run it indoors.  They fill the old hockey arena with sand and bring in jumps.  Lots of horsey and non-horsey people watching, and clapping.  A neat atmosphere!

  I took Ace in the hack division first.  There were around 18 horses in the classes.  I switched her regular bit for the rubber straight bar pelham, since she has a tendency to throw her head up and run off when other horses in the ring run up her hind end. She was a superstar and was 6th in the pleasure, 1st in the road hack, and 1st in the show hack.  She was the hack division champion and we won a chair!  The judge was really great; at the end of each class she would explain what she was looking for and why she pinned the class the way she did.  I think that is fabulous.

The loot

  After lunch we did the low hunters, 2'3.  Ace has only done one show over fences (other than cross rails), and really only has jumped this summer.  She was a very good girl and was reserve champion of the low hunters! She is really maturing about her surroundings and is growing out of her spookiness.  She is becoming such a versatile mare.  My mom was very proud that the $80 bucks we won wasn't too bad either....we used our winnings for some good ol' fair poutine for the trailer ride home :)

Here is the video mom was having some "issues" with the zoom....issues being not wearing her lady z glasses and being able to see the large ZOOM button on the top of the camera. LOL, God love her.

The bling

  See you next year at the fair!
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How To Prepare for a Dressage Show - Guest Blog Post From Our Friends at Equestrian Clearance

 I'm going to introduce my first ever guest blogger, from one of my new found favorite online shopping sites for horse and dog enthusiasts!  Equestrian Clearance is an online clearance centre filled with all your favorite horse, rider, and even doggy goodies at a fraction of the price you will find at your local tack shop.  I'm pretty excited about their selection of bits, as you know I am going through a bit of a bitting dilemma at the moment.  The bit I want is about $100 at the tack store near me, and I see it on this site for about $20, no brainer for me!  

Thank you Equestrian Clearance for writing this post and sharing how to prepare for a dressage show!

How to Prepare for a Dressage Competition

Practice Makes Perfect

  Firstly it is important to choose a test at a level that you are happy with. The stress of competition will make the test seem more difficult on the day – for both you and your horse. For this reason you would be well advised to opt for a test at a slightly lower level to what you are comfortable at when riding when at home.

  Get a copy of the test as early as possible before the competition and then learn it off by heart. There are many ways to help you do this; from drawing the test repeatedly to imagining it in your head or you physically ‘walking’ through the test. If you fear that you may forget the test in the heat of competition, in lower levels of competition you are often permitted a ‘caller’ – a helper who stands at the side of the arena calling out the next movement.

What to Wear

 The Rider

It is important to check the rules for which ever organisation the competition you are participating in is run under, to ensure that what you plan to wear is permitted in the arena. In the UK, most dressage competitions are run under rules set out by British Dressage (BD).

  Standard dress for an adult competing in dressage would involve white, cream or beige breeches or jodhpurs with a blue or black jacket and a pair of black or brown long boots. However, short boots and gaiters (rather than chaps) are fine, as is a tweed jacket in lower levels. Ideally you would wear a blue or black velvet hat; however a skull cap with blue or black velvet cover is equally suitable.

  The small touches are equally important; a white or cream shirt with tie and pin, or stock and stock pin, and a hairnet all help to ensure a smart appearance. Gloves must be worn and most classes permit a whip to be carried and spurs to be worn. You may usually wear a body protector, but this is not compulsory.

  As you move up the levels of difficulty, towards advanced level and beyond these dress codes change, but for most levels it is more important to wear smart, well fitted clothing. This will present the right image to the judge and ensure that you can ride to the best of your abilities.

The Horse

As well as ensuring that your clothing is appropriate, you need to make sure that your horse’s equipment is correct for the class. Ideally you should use a dressage or GP saddle in black or brown, with stirrup leathers and girth that match the saddle. A white saddlecloth is most common.

  At Preliminary and Novice levels a standard snaffle bridle is compulsory, whilst in classes from Elementary to Grand Prix you are permitted to use either a snaffle bridle or a double bridle.

Only in the top levels of Grand Prix and Prix St Georges is a double bridle essential. Flash and cavesson nosebands are permitted.

There are many rules and regulations surrounding bits, so it is important to double check whether the bit you intend to use is ‘dressage legal’.

  Bit guards, boots or bandages of any kind and martingales are not permitted. However breastplates, breast girths and cruppers are (in most classes). Also, for young horse classes and at Preliminary level a neck strap or balancing strap is allowed.

Alongside clothing and tack, your horse’s turnout is another great way to give the right impression to the judge. Plaited manes and a trimmed or plaited tail gives the high standard of appearance that is appreciated throughout the dressage world. Small touches, such as a glossy coat and hoof oiled hooves can make all the difference.

On the Day

Warming Up

  The warm up for a dressage test should be exactly that; you should be warming your horse’s muscles up and preparing him for going into the arena. This is not the time to practice the test in its entirety, however if you are particularly worried about a movement in the test it can help your nerves to run through this a couple of times.

  Only you will know how much of a warm up your horse requires. This will depend upon how comfortable the horse is in the competition surroundings and his general personality – for example sharper horses will often need more of a work in order for them to settle into work.

In the Arena

  As you are circling the arena prior to starting your test, make sure you pick up the rein that the test starts in, for example if you are expected to turn right at the end of the first centre line, then circle the arena on the right rein. As you ride down the centre line for the first time, make sure you keep an even pressure on both reins and with both legs to help keep your horse straight.

  As you ride through the test make sure you ride into all the corners and be as accurate as possible. This means starting each movement or transition at exactly the right point, so make use of half halts to balance your horse and prepare him for each change in pace or direction.

  If you make a mistake in a movement or do not ride it to the best of your ability, try not to dwell on it and instead proceed with the rest of the test and try to improve as you go along. If you go wrong during the test, the judge will sound a horn and you can either recommence from the correct point.

Top Tips

* Practice the test at home in an arena of the same size that you will be riding in at the competition.
* Seek help from an experienced riding instructor to help improve your chances.
* Whilst dressage classes can be a nervous time, remember that this is meant to be fun so smile - it’ll create a great impression for the judge!

A wide range of horse and rider dressage clothing and equipment is available at the best prices from Equestrian Clearance.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Just Another Manic Monday

A Poem for Insurance Girls

Last night as I lay sleeping
 I died or so it seemed,
Then I went to heaven
 But only in my dream. 
Up there St. Peter met me
Standing at the pearly gates, 
He said,"I must check your record
 Please stand here and wait". 
He turned and said
"Your record is covered with terrible flaws,
 I see you rallied for every losing cause."
 "I see that you drank alcohol, smoked and partied too. 
Fact is, you've done everything
A good person should never do." 
 "We can't have people like you up here, 
Your life was full of sin,"
Then he read the last of my record, 
Took my hand and said "Come in." 
 He led me to the big boss and said:
"Take her in and treat her well, 
She once worked in Insurance
She's done her time in hell".

Unfortunately true, Insurance is part of most that I do.

Now onto Tuesday!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Let's Go To The Fair!

  My friend Dana and I decided to enter at the local fair this weekend.  There were a few english flat classes, no jumping, and prize money so we thought it might be worth a shot!  I took my moms horse to try and further her de-spooking and new atmosphere schooling.  There isn't really a spookier place than a fair for a horse who has only ever shown in nice fancy ring all alone.

  I entered the Grade Halter class to get her in the ring and let her take in the surroundings.  I don't think I have ever done a halter class myself so Dana gave me a quick run down before the show started of the proper way to stand and move when the judge examines your horse.  Ace was very good and I must have done ok because we won the class!  $35 in my pocket, not much to complain about there!

  The show was judged under AQHA rules, which if you know anything about this is totally different from your normal hunter type classes.  Judges want to see a low head set, a "jog" instead of a trot, and a very very quiet type ride.  I knew this was going to be a wash as Ace is pretty much the polar opposite of this but it was all for the experience.  The midway was running, kids were screaming, trucks were going off, but I have to say Ace was pretty good and only had one really big spook.

  The classes were big and placed in all of them surprisingly, I was pretty happy with Ace.  She was a good girl for the most part, just still tries to throw her head up and take off at the canter when there are other horses in the ring.  She needs work on this.  We did our equitation class, which under AQHA judging consists of a pattern, then a flat portion to only one direction.  Ace was good and we placed 4th out of 14, not bad considering we were competing against a totally different type of riding.  I can't figure out if it's a good or a bad thing for my riding placing under AQHA judging.  Nothing wrong with it just very different from what us eventers go for!

  At the end of the class the roadsters showed up beside the ring and that was it for Ace.  She had one look at them and decided she needed to leave and she needed to leave NOW.  We had one more class but I called it a day when 3 more roadsters showed up and they started wheeling around at 50 mph.  I can't understand why they decided to show the roadsters RIGHT beside the ring when they had an ENTIRE mile track that they could have used....but I will chalk this up as a very POOR decision.  Half the horses in the next class had to stand in the middle they were so freaked out.  After that class the western riders were warming up and they were not too impressed with the carts either.   It's impossible to show your horse off, and to judge a class when all the horses are running sideways, or stopping and staring as if they have seen the end of the world itself.   Big fail on the Fairs part...hopefully they learn for next year.

  We're on the lookout for more Fairs...and more desensitizing!

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