Monday, August 28, 2017

Lanes End Ride for the Cure Horse Trials Recap

  Last Sunday my friend Katie and I headed to one of my favorite events, Lane's End Horse Trials.  For a few years now they have also used this event as a fundraiser for Cancer Research in Canada.  They have a silent auction, and for $50 you get a full order of photos from the event from the on site photographer.  This year, the event raised over $4000.  I ordered the pics but haven't received them yet, they are sure to be cute with all the pink.  That's right, we ride in pink to show our support for the pink ribbon campaign.  I'm sure Indy loved it haha

manly pink braids I did for the event

  We had great ride times and didn't ride until almost 2pm.  It was an easy morning, loaded up and headed to Katies to pick her up, then on the road to Bobcaygeon to Lanes End Farm.   We walked the course when we arrived and thought it looked fun, and fair.  There was one fence that was huge, off a sharp turn and right beside the water we were both a bit concerned about.  It would require good steering (still working on that), and not to be distracted by the water.  Other than that, I wasn't worried about anything in particular but there were a lot of challenges like jumping into the dark at the top of a hill, blind landings, turns, etc.

  Indy felt great in the dressage warm up.  About half way through he seemed to get a bit sluggish, but the warm up is on a slant and there were about 10 horses in the tiny area so I attributed it to that.  The dressage ring we were in is notoriously spooky.  There is a huge retaining wall behind it that I have seen horses freak out over a few times.  With it being Indys first time here, I was hoping we could just survive our test and get into the corners.  Little did I know that was not going to be our issue.  The bell rang and I went down the centre line...and I had NO horse.  I was boot boot booting him along.  In  my head I was thinking, "OMG, my horse is exhausted! How are we ever going to make it around stadium and XC?"  I was just trying to get through the movements.  Our first canter transition was a joke.  I had to Pony Club kick him Thelwell style to get him to canter. Soooo embarrassing.  The rest of the test was the same.  He was obedient, albeit very lazy and so wasn't entirely through.  We scored a 53 which is about a 35 in the US.  That was our best score to date by 6 points but in a competitive Open division put us last in 12th place. Oy.

  I was a bit bummed because our dressage work at home has been stellar.  However, when I went to put his corks in for stadium I picked up his foot and low and behold there was a massive log of a stick wedged right up in between his frog and the bars.  It all makes sense now.  This horse is insanely tough. He wasn't even lame on it, just really friggin lazy.  Protecting himself no doubt.  I felt terrible about the poor horse going around with that jammed in his foot. My only guess is he picked it up in the warm up ring since I picked his feet out before our test.  Eventing, never fails something happens...

how does that even get into ones foot? Also, get off my arm disgusting fly

much better now :)

  I felt better knowing there was a reason for our weird ride in dressage.  He seemed fine, not sore or bruised at all so we headed to showjumping next.  The course was max, with lots and lots of fillers and fun jumps.  It was causing a lot of problems so I was a bit nervous, but I just kept what Ian had told me in my head and practiced my posting canter in the warm up.  The x rail, the vertical, the oxer, all rode to a perfect distance in warm up.  I think this posting canter thing is working for Indy and I together.  They excused jackets which was great, and I got to ride in my hot pink shirt.  

I request this for my show jacket all the time please

  I went into the ring and did my tour around.  I knew the judge was blowing the whistle quickly and I usually like to do a few drive bys before I begin so I trotted in and around a few fences while someone was putting up rails, and then the whistle blew and we were off.  I started doing my posting canter, to the first fence which was a maxed out white oxer with gates and we hit the perfect distance.  Indy was jumping out of his skin, but his turning skills were severely lacking.  I was having to ride the hell out of him to get him to turn but he was an honest and good boy and jumped everything.  We had a good spook down the outside line that got a few people but he was a star and jumped the second fence on an angle.  I had to ride every single fence out there but he was hitting the distances and jumping up and over everything huge.  We were clear inside the time, only one of 3 people to go clear in our division. Woot!

go big or go home at number 1

knees to the sky

bit of a long one

such a chunky beefcake

still working on that straighness lol

love this jump!

  That clear moved us up to 10th from 12th going into cross country.  Things were starting to get serious LOL.  I was really excited and nervous for cross country.  Excited to ride the course which looked SO FUN, nervous because at our last event we never made it over the first fence.  And I still wasn't sure why.  But I was sure that we had done our homework, and that we were more than up to the task.  I got all done up in pink and headed to the warm up.  I just walked around until I was a few horses away, then went for a good canter, jumped the oxer once or twice, then before I knew it it was my turn.

  The person before me got eliminated in stadium, so there was a break between us but the start box timer didn't know this and was yelling at Katie and I to get over there.  When it was my turn I literally had to canter into the box, turn and go.  Indy thought that was all pretty great.  I rode that first fence and gave Indy a big cheer when we made it over.  Little victories, we already had conquered that demon.  The second fence was a known bogey fence so I gave him lots of verbal encouragement and we were over that one too.  We galloped onto the third fence and I must not have given him enough time to look at it, because he gave it a good look and jumped to the side and passed it.  Whoops. 20pp.  Oh well, it was no worry, I was determined to get him home and that's what I did.  We circled back and slowly approached it and he was over at the second attempt no issue. I rode every single fence on that course and did not let him take an inch.  I rode the hell out of that big one off the turn and jumped it one handed while giving him a smack in true eventer grit style.  I'm sure it looked hilarious to the jump judges but it got the job done.

phew! Over the first fence

 Half way around the course we found our groove.  Indy jumped every single jump out of stride, and was taking me to the fences.  He felt like a completely different horse, that knew his job and enjoyed it.  I let him gallop at the pace he was comfortable and two fences from home realized I needed to really slow him up to avoid time faults for being too fast.  That horse can really gallop.  We finished the course with just the 20 penalties added to our dressage score.  We moved up to 9th, just out of the ribbons.  Ribbon or not, I was so happy with Indy and how hard he tried all day.  He gave everything he could and then some.  You could feel his confidence had grown in just one day.

  We officially completed our first recognized Entry level event, 1 year after I got back in the saddle after breaking my leg.  We still have a lot of tidying up to do, but the foundation is there and its only up from here!  It was one of the most fun days I have had eventing in a long time.  Check out the GoPro if you want to enjoy the ride with us!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Valleys First Time Out - Dressage Clinic Aug 19

you woke me up for this??
  My crazy busy week continued onto the weekend.  After my amazing lesson Friday, I planned to attend a dressage clinic my friend Katie was hosting at her place with Bri Johnson.  Since it wasn't too far, would be at my friends farm, and not my regular dressage coach, I decided to take Valley for her first off property experience.  She is only about 20 or 30 rides in at this point, but figured it would be nice to get some ideas on what to work on to get her basics solid.

  My friend Dana and I were trailering together, and I was riding bright and early so Dana could get back home and tend to her baby.  I loaded up Miss Valley at around 6:30am, giving myself some time in case she didn't want to load.  I had only trailered her a handful of times and she was good, but the last time she trailered was to move and that was back in May.  I had the lunge line clipped to her side and held straight back, and to my delight she walked right on!  Dana only lives a few minutes from me now, so we popped by her place to pick up her and Archie and we were off to Katies.

Bestest baby

  We arrived event free, and unloaded the horses.  Valley was very curious of her surroundings - surely wondering where the track was.  She wasn't looking around for long, as soon as she saw a nice lush lawn she started grazing away.  I tied her to the trailer with Archie and she stood and munched on her hay net while I tacked her up.  She was pretty chill for her first time going somewhere, I was really happy with her before we even started our lesson.

  Once we were tacked up and I was on, I spent a few minutes walking around the ring letting her see everything and soak it all in.  She really didn't need much time because she was taking it all in stride.  We started just working at the walk and Bri commented on what a nice big walk she has.  Into the trot we just focused on keeping a steady rhythm.  She commented that Valley had a really nice long step on her, and that she was tracking up right off the bat.  She is very steady already to the left with a natural rhythm.  To the right she needs a little more help to maintain her steadiness.

this pic kills me

  From our warm up we started working on getting her to bend through her ribcage.  Her hind end wasn't really activated and she was very stiff throughout her body like most horses off the track.  We did an exercise on a circle asking her to bend through the rib cage, allowing with the outside rein and when she gives just ask for a little flexion.  We weren't worried about where her head was, just that we maintain a good rhythm, and that she moves from the leg when asked.  She picked it up fairly quickly and there was a noticeable difference in her half way through the lesson.

  The concept was similar to what I was doing with Indy in my lesson with Ian.  Moving her body to encourage movement in the hind end and through the shoulders.  She kept her cool demeanor pretty much throughout the lesson.  She started calling a bit when Archie left her view to get tacked up, but still kept focused on the job so that was really nice to see.  We did a little of the same in the canter each direction.  Her canter isn't really strong yet so we just did a little each direction, with the same concept of bending through the ribs.

 To end the lesson we went back to establish a relaxed trot, then worked on a few steps of moving the shoulders on the straight line, and bending through the corners.  It was very repetitive and really helpful for me to see where I need to go with Valley at this stage in her training.  She ended on a long rein, I dismounted, untacked and gave her a brush.  She grazed while I watched Danas lesson, and then loaded back onto the trailer like a champ to go home.

  It was a very educational, highly uneventful first outing.  It was really a perfect morning.  I just can't get over what a good mind this mare has. I have entered her in a schooling dressage show showing walk trot this weekend, so that should be an adventure!  I just need to get her out in the ring a few times if we are going to head to KY in October.  We aren't looking to break any records, just go out and do it!  I'm really looking forward to it.

  Anyone else showing this weekend?

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