Thursday, November 29, 2018

Valleys First Ride Back

Sass Val in the snow

  My Valley girl had her first outing to the rented indoor last night.  She hasn't been ridden in well over a month, due to the footing and just dealing with things like Indy.  She didn't exactly have a lot work done this summer either.  We started out strong, then she punctured her knee, and lost a chunk of her foot, plus she was growing like crazy and I was focusing more on Penny and Indy.  I did take her to the Short Course shows my friend Katie and I put on, but that was about it.  Honestly it's fine by me.  She's only 5, and I am #teamturtle all the way.

  Since this is a new place for her, and she has been out of work for a while I wasn't sure how she would be.  She walked right on the trailer no problems, walked into the barn and stood quietly on cross ties while I groomed her.  We were off to a good start.  Amazingly, she hung out while I groomed her and tacked up like she had done this a million times.  She side stepped a bit here and there but otherwise was just an angel.

  I took her into the arena and hand walked her around for about 10 minutes.  She thought the barrel in the corner was kind of scary so we went over to check it out.  She thought the mirrors were the absolute best thing since sliced bread and had to stop and check herself every single time we passed.  It was so cute!  Once we were relaxed in the arena I mounted.  

I left my phone at home so no ride pics sadly

  She walked off nicely and went right into work.  She was soft into my hand and was even carrying herself properly right from the get go. I honestly am constantly impressed by this horse.  A part of me just can't believe the brain on her.  We did a lot of walking around the ring, big circles, change of rein, just relaxed and really just getting comfortable in the arena.  Once nicely warmed up we went into some trot work.  I was happily surprised she was so relaxed, going into the bridle, listening and trotting out so nicely.  She felt so even and floaty.  I just kept telling her what a good girl she was being, because she really was being so good!  I could have trotted her forever, it was such a good feeling (in the words of Micheal Jung).

  It was hilarious, every time we would go by the mirrors she would turn her head slightly and check herself out, even trotting.  I was dying laughing!  What a total Valley Girl she really is.  We only did about 10 minutes of trot work to be safe. Since she has been out of work she probably isn't super fit, although my girls are very active in their turnout.  I untacked her, gave her a bunch of treats and we loaded up and went home.  Our first haul out was a total success.  I am so looking forward to getting down to business with this girl this winter and seeing what she will become.  I have some big dreams for  her!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Clinic Weekend with Penny - Day 2 Recap


  I have to laugh when some people looked at me sideways when I said I was doing 2 clinics this weekend.  How is it any different than a 2 day clinic on your horse, I have no idea.  But it's funny that people think it's too much, but a 2 day with the same clinician is not, or a 2 day horse trial, but I digress...lol

  Sunday Penny and I went to a clinic with no longer - but once local - upper level event rider BM.  He comes down often to visit his family and friends (funny enough his parents live on my road not far), and when he is in town he is often doing clinics.  I have also known him for years being in the area, and rode Indy with him last winter.  He kicked our buts into major shape.  When the barn posted they were hosting 2 clinics with BM before he heads to Florida, I jumped at the chance.

  I picked up Katie and Lilly up before we went to the farm.  It was a gorgeous winter day, almost 7 degrees which is down right balmy for us.  We were able to park and tack up outside which was nice.  Both the girls seemed very content waiting and munching on hay until it was time to go.  We were riding 4 in a group so our lesson was going to be about 2 hours long. 

Game face - ON
  We started the lesson doing our own warm up.  One thing I love about Penny is she is so been there done that, that while she may be up at times, she always just gets down to business.  I switched her to her happy mouth pelham for this day to try and help the issues we had on the day prior.  I could already tell there was a huge improvement with this bit and she was very happy.  We worked on just riding her with a steadier contact and allowing her to travel into my hand.  BM had 6 or so trot poles set up on the long wall 1/4 line and encouraged us to ride through it during warm up.

  I love this, as it is something I do regularly with my guys.  With Penny he suggested I don't try and control with my hands so much and let her elongate her stride over the poles and figure things out herself.  Penny is a pretty lofty girl with long legs so this was such a fun exercise, liken to trotting through the water.  The purpose was to encourage the horses to use themselves and engage the hind end, and start fixing whatever issues the riders have.

Random picture of my new QHP pad I rode in and verdict is LOVE!

  From trot, we went into the same exercise at canter.  This time he obviously removed the middle poles to make 3 or 4 canter poles.  It may not seem like a big deal, but Penny cantered through them keeping the same pace.  This was a huge improvement from the day before (and previous years except last).  For her, he had my keep my elbows bent, soft, giving, and let her figure out the exercise.  I need to try to control less and let her figure out where to put her feet.  It's hard on a forward horse y'all. He had me ask for more bend through the corner with outside rein supporting to keep her straight through the poles.

  From here, he turned the poles into several bounces.  I worked on the same things, keeping my hands off her face and quiet by her neck, not taking her back too much and allowing her to find her own rhythm and pace through it.  This was also super fun, because well, Penny is super game and she was just springing through.  The last few times through the line he had me open my right rein slightly to straighten her and what a difference.  I had not even noticed she was getting a bit crooked and you could really feel the change.

No pics or vids this day of our actual ride sadly

  Next, we did a line from the bounces, diagonal over a cavaletti, change rein then down an outside line.  We varied this exercise from figure eights, change of direction, adding an oxer, and then increased the height. At the end we did a fun figure eight over the 2 cavalettis on a diagonal incorporating the jumps on the outside line as bending lines.  The lessons remained the same for me throughout.  Quiet hand, allow her to figure it out, trust her she will maintain the pace, and ride the corners in and out of the exercise.  I also worked on finding a more relaxed and less tense sitting position in the canter when jumping.  I never realized how stiff I am until he had me breath out and loosen up in the short side coming into a line.  I could feel Penny immediately relax and quiet down when I went all loosey-goosey.  I am not even sure why I am so tense and tight because I am not at all nervous up there.  I think it must be from bracing and holding I am used to her on.  This is something I definitely need to work on because I think it will help us a tonne.

  We stuck around and watched the rest of the rides of the day.  It was such a fun day, riding, learning, seeing friends and all their ponies doing amazing.  He is back next month and I am very much looking forward to riding with him again.  We left the clinic in the most hilarious way on our way home.  There has been non stop rain here for weeks so the parking lot was a bit muddy.  My truck had the 4 wheel drive taken out alst year and it hasn't been reinstalled yet so I was careful to park on the gravel I could.  We had to back up, and then do a U turn to get out, and it was slightly downhill.  The mud was making us slide sideways and truck wasn't turning and there was just mud flying everywhere.  Katie and I were just dying laughing as we slid down across the parking lot until we finally got straight and could pull out.  It was absolutely hilarious.  I'm sure the horses were wondering WTF was going on.

basically how Penny feels about me now

  Penny was so tired when she got home that night, I gave her a nice massage and tucked her into bed in her Back on Track.  She has had a few days off and then its back to work to apply all we learned this weekend.  Fingers crossed we retained some of it!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Clinic Weekend with Penny - Day 1 Recap



  November is shaping up to be the month of lessons!  I am loving this, not only to keep me fresh before the winter lull comes but also because it helping me keep my mind off of the loss of Indy.  I have crazy motivation to ride so I am thankful for the outlet in the form of clinics.

 Saturday I had a jumper clinic with a semi local young woman showjumper at the barn I am renting arena time from.  I actually know the clinician as I taught riding camp at her parents farm when I was 16 and she was only 6 or 7.  Oh how I am getting old! She has had a lot of success in the upper levels of the jumper world and I have been wanting to try a lesson with her. This was the perfect opportunity.

  My day started a bit a mess as I went to catch Penny to bring her in and I couldn't catch her.   This was on top of losing my phone the night before so I was already feeling lost and stressed. Penny was basically mad at me for riding her all week and was just not into it that morning.  I had to bring Valley and Emmy in first to get her in.  Once I had her caught, I put her boots on, switched her blanket and loaded her onto the trailer.  Being a bit stressed, worried I would be late I forgot her back boots and bell boots! Ugh!

  I sent my boyfriend to my parents to get my riding boots as I left them there and have been riding in old ripped ones.  I swear I am losing things everywhere every day these days.  When I arrived at the barn I found out they had found my phone in the driveway the night before, hooray!  It was frozen but no damage. One problem solved.  Onto problem #2, the red head waiting patiently on the trailer.  We unloaded and in typical fashion Penny barged into the barn and strutted past all the people as if to announce "I have arrived".

  Thinking I was late, but really I was early, so that was good.  I had time to tack up, and give her a really good warm up.  She was quite up, but well behaved in the warm up.  As other horses and people starting entering the arena, she was getting a bit more excited.  The jumps moving around, proved to be VERY exciting for her.  She knew what was coming, and was ready.  

  We started the lesson doing some trot work. V had me shorten reins right up, like my old coach Rick used to have me do.  Then have a softer elbow and hand and just follow her head. Of course, everything is about my hands and how they try and control everything.  I can't believe after over a year of working on them, they still suck.  I am getting better but wow, what a horrible ingrained habit I can not get rid of.  Penny was pretty tense although she was behaving.  Softening my elbows and arms and contact, while still having a feel let Penny relax into a consistent hand and she did in fact relax immediately from the change.

blurry trot pic, reins still long, inside hind engaged tho!
  
  Once warmed up we started an exercise of 10m circle at each end.  We start the circle, sit trot, drop the stirrups and ride the circle in sitting trot until V was satisfied then take the stirrups back down the long wall, allowing Penny to stretch her neck even more, then return and do the same thing at the other end of the long wall.  No stirrup work and sitting trot on Penny, for a second there I was thinking about how legs were going to fall off since I haven't done no stirrup work in foreverrrrr.  However, I was pleasantly surprised when I sunk into and around Pennys barrel and it was quite easy.  

  Instead of again using my hands too much, V had me use the exercise to get the results I wanted.  IE, use the circle to slow her down and get the bend.  I kept my hands together and soft (or I tried to) and looked around the circle, using inside leg into outside rein and the rhythm, shape, and engagement all improved drastically.  We did this exercise several times until it was consistent.  We then added canter.  Penny started to get a bit strong in the canter, so I didn't do the circles without stirrups although I'm sure we could have, it just would not have improved anything.  We did the canter 10m circles twice, then long side, then back into the circles.  Eventually the circles helped get Penny into a nice rhythm, and me out of her way.  I really liked this exercise, it is definitely one I will be using in the future.


Onto the jumping, and things got really exciting. For Penny anyway.  We started on a waiting line, and well we stayed on that for our entire lesson, which was fine by me.  We need the work.  Penny was jumping into the 9 ft pole and X rail fine, cantering 2 strides fine, then rushing the last two.  I was trying to stay out of her face, but then she just started to run off.  I had changed her bit into a mullen mouth full cheek, but it was just not enough.  Normally we have been jumping in a French Link 3 ring elevator, but she has been been flipping her head around and I know its because she hates a metal bit, and hates the link.  I have been flatting her in the mullen mouth with great success, but silly me to think that would be enough to jump. HA.

  We went down the exercise several times, halting at the end.  Or in the middle, or not at all and trying not to run V or the participants over. Trying for those 4 even strides.  Eventually with Vs help we did get it.  It wasn't perfect, but it was a huge improvement which is all you can ask for when your horse is just flying on the edge like she was that day.  V and I discussed some things to work on, mostly just loads and loads of these waiting lines and related poles, changing the distances, solidifying the consistency in the canter.  That was great, because that was pretty much my plan for the winter already.  It's good to know when you are on the right track for your training plans and goals.

tired Lady...well maybe not tired lol

  I really enjoyed the lesson.  I learned some new things, got some homework, and enjoyed watching her teach the other rider in my group over more advanced courses than we got to do.  The barn manager is hoping to have her down for regular lessons, and I am hoping to join in on those in the future.  Especially good timing with my jump coach moving away last year.  It was a really great day, the barn atmosphere is very laid back, light and fun there.  It was also nice to get home and have Penny unloaded in under 15 minutes after leaving the barn.  I could get used to this!  

Vacation over Miss Pen



  It has been about a month since I was able to ride at home.  Usually in the winter I give my horses a few months off.  This used to work at my old farm because I could start riding in my ring in April.  At my new place, the footing is still hit or miss in May, so by the time my horses are fitted up it is more than half way through the season.  Plus we are making such great progress, the thought of halting and having to start over 5 months from now is discouraging.  I was determined to make sure I keep them going this year.

  Originally my mom had said I could bring my horses to her place when I lost Indy.  But she didn't want me bringing three there for the winter, so that plan was out.  I reached out to a lady who is running her business out of a local farm here to see if I could rent arena time.  She agreed, and the barn is only 10km from my house so the commute is nice and easy.

  Tuesday was the first day out for us.  Penny was certainly excited to go do something and she ran onto the trailer.  We arrived with no issue to meet some new smiling faces in the barn.  Everyone was very friendly and the barn was quiet and relaxed.  Penny has actually been here many times before as an old friend used to own it and we rode there often.  I quickly tacked her up and took her into the arena.  We walked around on foot for a few minutes and chatted with a friend who just happens to be boarding her daughters two horses there for the winter.

  Penny was pretty fresh but we kept it together, did lots of stretching and lateral work at the walk to loosen up and relax.  We did mostly walk and just a nice working trot, incorporating circles and just trying to stretch.  We ended on a good and happy note and she seemed happy to be back into work!  We went back again yesterday and started with a lot of walking.  There was a beginner lesson going on so we tried to be polite and stay out of the way.  The walking was great for Penny to warm up.  We did lots of shoulder in and travers up and down the long sides.  There were cavaletti set up on the circle of death so we took advantage of those and walked over those on the circle.


  We were able to work into some really good trot work once she settled.  She is a strong and forward girl that I was trying to remind myself to get my leg on and really ride her into the bridle.  By the end she was quite supple and soft and we had some really improved rhythm in her gaits.  I incorporated the cavaletti on the circle and down the long sides at the trot.  She was really good for this, and no rushing.

  We did some easy canter work and there were no shenanigans.  I just let her canter large and big circles to let her stretch her legs and blow off some steam.  The weather has made it difficult for the horses to run around as much as they would like to!  We finished our ride with a nice relaxed long rein walk.  I had her untacked and back on the trailer and home within 30 minutes.  You really can't beat the convenience of this place for us!


 We are doing back to back clinics this weekend, hopefully we get some homework to keep us busy this winter!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

An Open Letter on The State of Eventing in Ontario



Amazing memories at the OHTA Champs 2016

  Where to begin.  Last year the OHTA  - Ontario Horse Trials Association - started posting on their Facebook page that the numbers of competitive eventers in Ontario was dwindling.  They wanted suggestions on how to "grow the sport" over the next few years.  A lot of good conversations took place, sans the OHTA in the comment section with ideas.

  A few months later, we receive an email with a survey on "Growing eventing in Ontario".  The survey was a bit of a lie, as they majority of the survey was about whether or not the OHTA should re-brand.  If they re-brand, what should be the new name?  The cost to re-brand would be around $1500.  

  I am all for re-branding in other instances, and know the benefits in marketing, but I personally felt this was a ridiculous waste of money for an Association that already has limited resources.  They said they felt "Horse Trials" was old and outdated and no one called it that anymore. Hmmm...my first conundrum here is that well, that is just plain wrong.  Especially here in Ontario.  Lets take a look at the 2019 schedule.

May 25 - Grandview Horse Trials
June 15 - Little Bromont Horse Trials
June 16 - Caledon Horse Trials
June 23 - Wits End Horse Trials

The list goes on.  So while our Provincial Association claims "Horse Trials" is old, outdated, and doesn't appeal to youth anymore, the host events are not in agreement.  Talk about oxy-moron.  So we have our Association saying one thing and the host events clearly disagreeing.  Somehow, they believed that changing their name, is going to make eventing more appealing and popular. I seriously doubted that.  I filled the survey out in detail.  I sent it to all my eventing friends and members to do the same.  Every single person I spoke with was in agreement, that re-branding was not only not necessary but a waste of resources at this time.

  A few weeks later OHTA posted on their Facebook that they ARE in fact changing their name and branding.  Well this was suspect, as the survey hadn't even closed yet!  Clearly the decision was already made to re-brand, and the survey was a clever way to make it seem like they cared what their members have to say.  Then the Facebook post was deleted.  Not impressed.  As expected, the survey was released a week or so after and the results are as follows;

http://www.horsetrials.on.ca/exciting-news-from-the-board-of-directors/

  From the survey which less than a third of members answered, the results were pretty even for YES/NO on the re-branding. However the answer whether it will help eventing grow, was a clear NO.  More members definitely need a say. Perhaps this survey would have been good to complete along side our annual membership?  Maybe an idea for the future. 

 Since the board already posted on Facebook they were going to go ahead with it before the survey closed, I have my doubts on how legit the whole thing was, but I digress.  The agreement was made to change the name OHTA to OEA - Ontario Eventing Association.  Not to be confused with the Ontario Energy Association.

  Last week was our AGM and awards banquet. Unable to attend this year, I waited by the computer for the "exciting news" we were going to be getting that would show what the OEA is going to do for alllllll those adult ammies who are loyal to the sport year after year with little thanks.  We were promised an announcement right after the AGM but that didn't happen.  Little tid bits of info trickled out here and there as the days went on.

  The OAE has announced in its initiative to "Grow Eventing", the following;

Rebranding to the name OEA 
Eliminating the Provincial Championships (our only Champs)
Doing 2 test ride dressage clinics in March/April
Offering $20 XC schooling at select locations on weekdays at host event sites
Invest and support the YRs - we currently have no program at this time

 Let me go over these one by one.  I have already addressed the $1500 they spent on a new name.  



Oh boy.  I am not trying to be negative, but this is a bit silly.   I mean this is something great to offer, at any time.  I do not agree with OEA funds being put towards this, and that this will help grow eventing.  First of all, Ontario is massive.  Only a select few will be in the area to trailer to this location in winter.  Most eventers have their own dressage coach.  Most local horse communities around here offer test ride clinics year after year.  Our dressage branch does, and even they have trouble filling the spots.  You have to bring your own lunch.   You have to pay $20 a test.

  I could get behind this if it was offered in multiple locations, for free, with lunch provided.  Otherwise I don't really see how this is a perk of being a member.  I don't see how it helps grow the sport.  Why is energy being spent on this, when it is needed elsewhere.


Next up;



 While we all love a good XC schooling. I have a few issues with this too. One that it was being used as a perk for Adult Ammies. If it was a free XC lesson it would be. First mistake is holding it mid week. Most of us ammies work...and don't have ample time off.  Again, its $20.  It should be free.  You can school almost all the host locations for $50.  You must bring a coach.  So someone like me who travels to a coach, who isn't an eventer, leaves me hanging.  If you do have a coach, you're still looking at paying your regular lesson fee.  They at least say they will provide a coach.  No comment until I see who is provided but, you better hope it is someone good and I doubt it is free coaching.  $10 for two stadium rounds.  Might as well just enter a jumper show at that point.  One plus - snacks and drinks are provided, so there's that.  I will try and go anyways.  I am not saying this isn't a good idea, because I think it is.  But I do NOT think it is a very good "perk" for all us adult ammies who dump thousands into this sport annually.  I think its more of a "bare minimum" attempt to please members.

  As for investing and supporting the YRs, I can't comment because I don't have all the details. I do know we have no program right now.  I also know that it is insanely expensive to do YR.  What parents can afford to send kids to FEI events to qualify? Not a lot.  I support fundrasing for YR, but what I do not support in any way whatsoever are the two points that stood out to me.  One being "move the talent up".  I have so many issues with pushing kids and anyone really to "move up".  Our sport is dangerous, it is not some game to field high performance teams and get kids upgrading as soon as possible.  Someone even commented on the OEA Facebook that instead of Champs, we should be pressuring people to upgrade.  Yep, you heard that right.  I could write an entire blog post about how bad of an idea that is, complete with examples of people injured due to the pressure to upgrade.  Which brings me to final, and most aggravating point.


Victory gallop with your bestie? #goals No longer possible in Ontario.

  Championships are cancelled.  That's right, you heard it correctly.  We are no longer running Championships.  It wasn't even discussed, just dropped like a bomb out of the sky on us. No one asked us, just nope. Done.  Where is the money going that would have gone to host champs? To the YR program.  Which the OEA has deemed more important to the sport than hosting a Championship end of season.  So they want to fund YRs to go to their champs, but the grass roots riders who SUPPORT ALL OF EVENTING in Ontario, get nothing. Zilch, zip.

  Before you think this was about hosting it, it's not. Several locations have stepped up to offer Champs this year and have been declined.  They have offered to do it as a one day show, run concurrent with non champs, just have separate ribbons etc, and were denied.  Apparently they don't want to do it if they can't have it over 2 or 3 days.  Funny, considering the main reason people don't go to Champs is because they have to go over night.

I'm going to let OEA in on a little secret.  I know it can be hard to understand your membership when you live in horse country and most people board and are living in a higher pay scale, but a good chunk, I would be willing to bet the majority of members are full time working adult amateurs like me.  They not only work full time, but may keep their horses at home.  Leaving for a weekend is not always feasible. Whether it is finding help, or paying someone.  If an event is 3 hrs away, we drive there and back same day.  If its overnight, we don't have that option.


Compare Champ Ribbon to a Trillium H/J Champ ribbon.  OEA makes minimal effort

  Without Champs, what competitive goals can we as riders and competitors make?  Why can't we get a "big show", and win a "big ribbon".  Why is everything about high performance? Why is OEA focused soley on supporting professionals, and making future ones.  Their slide going around the internet literally says something about making future professionals.  Surely they are not so ignorant to think that this is where their main support comes from.  I heard an argument that Young Riders stay in eventing, so it will help the sport grow.  This is so wrong, from my personal experience anyways.  Most of the people I know who did or aimed for YR, ended up quitting riding entirely.  They certainly aren't eventing.  The kids on the ponies?  The adults who just started in adulthood?  The established adult with a hefty bank account? They stick around, year after year.  Perhaps the pressure of High Performance team, and the financial commitment aren't the best to "grow eventing".

  So now, us ammies, are left with a full eventing season next year.  With no Championships. Our Champs money going to fund the kids who already are supported by parents who have money.  Our "perks" money going to Yrs too, and leaving us with some dressage test ride clinic and a cheap XC schooling.  They need people who actively compete - not just professionals to have a say.  Not just parents who have YRs, and not people who are promoting their own products through our organization.


lifelong, dedicated eventer PC: Bailini

  Of course this isn't just a rant. It is a place I can have my say, get feedback, and also be heard over those who just see my comments as bitchy on Facebook.  I have some suggestions on what we can give back to our members coming, but first let's look on some examples from other organizations;

  •  Alberta Horse Trials Ass hosted a clinic with three different clinicians - free - paid for by AHTA and Alberta Equestrian.
  • They also offer a boatload of awards, way more tha OEA https://albertahorsetrials.com/index.php/awards-subsidies/
  • In the past, they have paid for teams to travel places like Rebecca farm and compete
  • ACCQ (Quebec Eventing) fully funded teams to travel to the Long Format Three Day at Oakhurst Farm http://www.acccq.ca/d-veloppement-des-athl-tes---athlete-development.html
  • ACCQ Also hosts countless clinics, and mini trials, and XC schooling days - heres their guidelines for such "ACCC-Q CLINICS"
- organized by the Development committee of the ACCC-Q or with the application of the Athlete Development Fund of Equestrian Canada after being approved by the committee.
- has to be an eventing clinic (or beneficial to the development of eventing in Quebec and/or of Quebec eventing athletes);
- must offer a benefit specific to ACCC-Q members (for example: cheaper entries, raise of funds for a specific project for the members, or other form of benefit);
- must be open to all ACCC-Q members (within the limits of the number of places and levels offered);
- should not be in conflict with a sanctioned Horse trial organized in Quebec. Where a potential conflict exists, the committee must ensure to get the approval of all organizers potentially impacted.

 
* These will be advertised by email, Facebook and our clinique section on the website providing the links.

  • ACCQ Also offers a fun day - schooling horse trial a reduced cost
  • British Showjumping offers free and reduced membership after so many clear rounds.
  • In Ottawa we have the National Capital Horse Trials Association. This is a free association you join if you compete in the Ottawa area.  They give out amazing prizes and plaques for year end.  Best of all - NO membership required.  If they can do it, why can't OEA?  They have also helped fund teams going to Mid South Team Challenge.  http://www.nchta.ca/
  
  Obviously nothing is going to make everyone happy.  These are however, some examples of how other Provinces are rewarding members.  I believe we have the most events and members in Ontario.  Where is all the money going?  Where are the efforts to support those who already love and fund the sport?


PC: Bailini

 I personally have been eventing for 14 years.  I attended my first event at 11 - Touch A Rainbow Horse Trials.  I was part of the YR program.  I have evented in Scotland, England, Ireland, Ontario, and Quebec.  I have worked for Olympic eventers, I have worked for world class eventing producers (think Fernhill).  I have ran my own shows, ran my own short courses, done year end awards, have sat on the Board for Dressage Canada and currently sit on a Board with my profession.  I don't feel as though I am ignorant to how these things work.

  In 24 years eventing, I have spent;

$1,076 on my OHTA membership
$2,996 on eventing levvys
$32,000 on entry fees

  I have spent approximately $36,000 in this Province on this sport on FEES alone.  While I may not be a pro who brings 10 horses an event, this money is all my own, hard earned money (or my moms when I was under 17 lol).  My time and money is worth something to me, and I really wish it was worth something to OEA too.


Snapple at Hawkridge - age 13

Westy at Dreamcrest - 14

Westy at Fiddlers Green - 14

If you want ideas to grow the sport, why not ask those who have been in the sport the longest, not driven by money or fame.  I should think, we have the answer.  Some points for suggestions, with notes;

  • Better prizes/awards at Events  
    • I don't know what it is with Ontario, but our ribbons are sad.  Compared to those in the US, or even the Trillium Hunter Jumper and Dressage Shows!  Running shows myself, I know the cost of nice ribbons, and it is minimal.  One sponsor could be obtained per event to supply ribbons.  Maybe OEA could get a sponsor for ALL ribbons for the year, and save event organizers the cost, in turn they could reduce entry fees for us.  If you want someone to find a sponsor OEA, contact me.
  • Better year end awards
    • We used to have awards like the Thoroughbred award, it is no longer.  There are a handful of awards, but they are dwindling. They even got rid of Horse of the Year this year!   Why not contact Thoroughbred Incentive Program to see if they will join forces with OEA? Why not ammie awards? Why not more breed awards?  Why not ribbon to 10th for year end like the Trillium H/J Associations?
  • Recognition for hard work
    • Similar to rider levels in Dressage in the US.  Say Pre Entry-Pre-Training is bronze, Training to Prelim Silver, and Int/Advanced is Gold.  Say you need to complete 3 events, or 3 on your dressage score to earn this.  A nice plaque or prize to show the achievement and riders listed on the OEA website.  Cost is minimal.
  • Making the sport less geared towards expensive tack, horses, going pro and wintering in Florida
    • These things are all great but they are not what eventing is about.  Eventing is about the ultimate test between horse and rider.  Riders don't need an $800 air vest.  But when you join a new sport, and you see this around, and everyone is trying to convince you this is what you need to event and you can't afford it, you are going to look elsewhere.  Eventing is intimidating to outsiders and I think those who event currently don't realize that.
  • Stop with level creep.
    • Stay within the levels as they are designated.  We do not need corner to corner combinations our of the water at Training level.  Trakehners at Entry.  These ever changing more difficult courses make it harder for those new to sport to feel they can challenge the course, and won't be surprised when they arrive at an event to see their Entry course has a 3'6 brush, trakehner, ditch, and water crossing.
  • Once an Event date is set, keep it.  
    • We are eventers. We can event in the rain, sleet, snow.  The last few years of dates changing and events not knowing if they are running until the last minute has made a lot of people very gun shy.
  • Subsidize entry fees, clinics, team events
    • Education is invaluable.  XC schooling is fun and all, but what we need is to educate riders about eventing, XC, and the sport.  Why not host symposiums with big riders, like the Carl Hester and Charlotte ones at Caledon.  Offer day seminars for free - on what is eventing. How to attend your first horse trial.  That type of thing.  Most people who want to event but don't, don't because the thought of it all is too overwhelming. They don't know where to start.  There are professional eventers out there trying to grow the sport, why not ask them to help? I'm positive they would donate their time. I know I would.
    • Team events can be the pinnacle for a lot of riders who do not want to go pro or FEI, but want to feel the team atmosphere, or have the pressure to show at a big event.  Other Provincial memberships, and the NCHTA have no problem funding these. Why can't Ontario? Again is it fundraising? There are people who are willing to do so if the board is not interested.
    • We all know events are expensive.  If every event donated one Sr and one JR entry per their event, OEA could use a random draw or a qualifying system to give out these free entries per event.
  • Bring back the Championships!
    • This is the end goal for many riders. Something to strive toward even if it just means qualifying.  Many riders will never get to travel out of Province to experience a "big" event, or a Victory gallop, or the original format - Dressage, XC, showjumping.  Let's reward riders for their season.
    • Teens and young adults live for these shows.  Some plan their whole year around it.  These riders may turn to other sports where there are "Champs" available.  The memories made at these events last a lifetime.
  Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.  Sincerly, OEA member 50713.

Dressage Lesson with Ronnie Nov 18/18


we have arrived!

 This weekend was the weekend was my dressage coach was down.  Normally we do Saturday and Sunday lessons, however a bunch of last minute cancellations made it so she couldn't come down Saturday, and we had to trailer out somewhere 35 minutes away for my lesson Sunday.  While bummed to not ride both days, an off property outing is always good for the green beans!

  I didn't ride until late afternoon.  I headed over to my moms around 1:30, and we quickly loaded up Miss Ron and hit the highway.  She got off the trailer unphased and settled right into a stall.  Ronnie can be known to be a bit "up" when she first arrives off property.  However I was pleasantly surprised as she was definitely nervous but stood tied in her stall eating hay while I groomed her and tacked her up.

PS I love this cooler

  She thought nothing of the new barn and new arena either. I walked her around both directions on the ground in the arena and mounted without incident.  I walked around in a somewhat relaxed walk and discussed with Daphne how she has been going and what we have been working on.  We started into trot and right away Daphne has me working towards more bend, and getting Ronnie to tuck her left shoulder under her.  She has a tendency to let it fall out into the center of the ring when on the left rein.  We worked on trotting down the 1/4 line and really pushing her up into that left bend, accepting her shoulder up under her.  Within the trot, we worked on change of pace, and her reaction to the leg.

  To the right, you could see how much easier she traveled with her shoulders in the correct position, and her bend to the right was quite good.  We worked on the right for a short bit as a reward, in between going back on the left rein and really asking her to accept the left leg into the right rein. You could feel the difference the minute she gave, and since she is much weaker to the left she could only hold it for a few strides at a time. 

  We went into some canter work and then back to trot to address her reaction to my leg.  When I half halt, I wasn't getting anything in the first half of the aid - as in no forward impulsion to then collect.  We worked on her coming off my leg immediately when I say.  Asking for more forward, then slower, then forward, then slow, then move into the corner, and change rein, same thing to the right, which she finds easier, then back to left.  We did so much trot work, going more and more forward off my subtle leg cues.  Once in a while she would throw in her protest leg kick at my leg, then move forward.  Daphne described it as needing a boost of energy for the half halt, without the boost you have nothing to "halt". 

time to go after being such a good girl

  We did this for the majority of our ride. Little boost boost boost.  We then went into canter and did the same exercise.  It is pretty redundant to write about, but the difference in Ronnie was noticeable.  She would lift into a whole new trot world when she would come off my leg with that little "boost", and then I half halt her.  Eventually, she was responding immediately to my leg and no longer swishing her tail or kicking out.  Daphne basically said this is my homework for the month.  We can't begin to do collection work if we don't have the right energy to collect.  Makes perfect sense to me.  She also still needs to accept the leg more.  This is also why I have been doing so much lateral work with her.  She gets really offended by the leg anywhere it doesn't belong (in her eyes).

  It was a tiring and sweaty lesson for us both, but we came away with a deeper understanding of where we need to be at this time on our journey, and what we need for that true connection to take us up the levels.  I will be working on this for the next month and hopefully we will have it down by next month when Daphne is down.

  I have yet to leave a lesson with Daphne not learning something, usually something really important.  I'm so lucky we have access to her on a regular basis.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Momma Duck Adopted Me


my heart

  About 6 months ago, the rain around here was relentless.  There was a steady steam running through my paddocks and around the barn, sometimes right through the barn (wah).  With the water, brought over my neighbors ducks.  Being the absolute animal lover I am, I loved this.  There is one male, and three females that go with him everywhere.  Usually when it rains, they come over to my place.  My neighbours place is about 10 acres away.  Sometimes they go into the ditch by the road, and I herd them back home.

  When the rain left and things dried up, the ducks spent less time at my place.  Well that is, all but one.  She was hanging around daily.  Sometimes on the roof of the shelter, sometimes I would find her in the shed sitting on the snowblower.  Well hello Miss Duck...what can I help you with?  I loved having her around.  She would weed my garden and eat all the bad bugs.  Wash herself in my wash stall, float around in the dogs kiddie pool, you know, all the things crazy duck kids are doing these days.

  After a few weeks I noticed she made herself a nest in my shelter.  In the corner, under the feeder.  Low and behold, she layed 11 eggs in there.  Well, that was just way too exciting for me.  11 ducklings running around? OMG, I was picturing it my head, my..er, her, little menagerie of ducklings waddling around the barn.  Too cute to imagine.  I talked to my other neighbour and she knows more about ducks than I do, and she let me know the approximate incubation period and what I should do which was basically - nothing. 

washing herself in the washrack, which I find hilarious

babies?

  It was not meant to be, sadly the eggs were fertilized but none of them hatched.  I have no idea why, but it was sad.  I had to remove all the eggs because they were getting rotten inside.  I left all but one for her, so she didn't get too depressed.  That was months ago, and well, she hasn't left.  She's still in the shelter, in her nest, with one egg.  I have no idea if its the same egg lol.  But now winter is coming and I am worried about my momma duck.

  I can't seem to find much online about them.  She's a Muscovy, which are apparently tree ducks.  So they aren't huge water lovers, but tree lovers.  That's about all I know.  I am thinking I have to box in her area, or make her her own little shed for the winter?  It was -14 last night, and she was fine this morning, but I really don't want my momma duck to freeze out there!  I just love her to bits.

true camo duck

  My neighbor Michelle and I were laughing one day, at how she must be some independent type woman. Done being one of three girls, she just moved out on her own and started her own new life.  Too hilarious.  She still goes over to her original home, every day, and comes back, every day.  Her return time would always be when I was riding after work.  She would get so worried going through my ring while I was riding, she would do this waddle run so fast to get back to the shelter.  It was so amusing and adorable.  The horses love her.  They are all good friends.

  I really need to figure something out before it gets much colder.  Does anyone have any experience with ducks? Moving a nest? Help me, I need to make sure momma duck survives the winter!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Ronnie Flat School Nov 13/18


poor Miss Ron still has a nasty scar bump from her face injury this fall

  Last night I went and rode Ronnie.  It was downright cold, the weather app showed -7 but it felt more like -20. Not sure why it was so bitter but man, that is going to take some adjusting!  Ronnie does not care, she was covered with mud and had a good grooming before our ride.  I did some leg stretches I learned on YouTube with her before we left for the arena too. YouTube is a serious gold mine for horse care and riding info.  I don't know why more people don't use it.  There is literally so much free information it blows my mind.

  Anyways, focused on our winter goal of improving the canter, I set up a little exercise to do.  I left the canter pole chute on the quarter line I used on the weekend, then I placed a single raised pole at the short end of the arena.  I placed "wings" or other raised poles, perpendicular to the pole at the end of the pole, at the inside.  Pic for clarity.

simple T design, at the short end - say hi to Liam and dad also

the "chute" on the quarter line

The pole was to help with a few things. Straightness.  Strengthen the hind end.  Help with better balanced corners thanks to guide poles.  Help with seeing a distance for both Ronnie and I.  Also helping with regulating pace, and straightness through the turn and long side.  The pole can be used alone, or once ready, used before making the turn to the chute, then leg yielding to the wall after the chute.  You can then do that exercise the opposite way, canter loop style, through the chute, back to the wall, then balanced turn over the single raised pole.

  Ronnie warmed up well.  Not quite as stretchy as normal, probably due to us both being frozen!  I went right into trot work.  Too cold to walk. She is turned out all day and hadn't been in long so walking isn't super necessary for our warm up.  I did a lot of change of direction through long sweeping round turns.  We did some leg yield, and also went down the chute, and over the pole in our warm stretch.  Focus was mostly on rhythm, and suppleness.  Using the pole often also teaches her not to worry about such things when do more jumping in the future.

  From our warm up I went straight into the canter work to the left.  She picked up her canter right away but the wrong lead.  A simple request to change and we were on the correct lead.  Starting our ride in canter has its challenges.  She isn't as relaxed at the beginning of the ride, she isn't as in front of the leg.  She is still not %100 confident in the canter and feels less confident at the start, therefore making her more stiff and less supple.  That being said, I enjoy the surprise element and her reacting appropriately to my request early in the ride.  She has much more energy and fresh muscles to work with, which help at this stage in her canter work.

  To the left she is still fairly unbalanced.  I focused on keeping the canter forward and active and balancing in every turn, almost making them square turns.  We just go large or make large circles to start. As the working canter improved I added smaller circles, and more bend and flexion.  We did the chute several times, and the canter pole alone, but not together as she just isn't as balanced to the left for this yet.  I gave her a quick walk break and we cantered to the right next.  She did a nice transition right into a balanced canter.  To the right I can do a bit more, like shoulder fore, shallow loops, 15m circles, and the exercises I laid out.  I really like the pole, turn then do a loop off teh track, and back through the chute.  It requires good planning, and lots of leg through the turn, which should help in my own over fences work.

  It is interesting to see also, when she is too collected or flat through the turn then we miss our distance.  When she had a forward balanced canter, she would nail the distance every time.  I just love adding these simple yet thought provoking exercises into our daily routine.   Keeps things interesting, and you have to focus on what you are doing or you won't be successful.  

random Ronnie headshot PC: Linda Shantz

  After our right lead canter we took a good walk break.  Ronnie is pretty fit, she wasn't breathing hard or sweaty at all.  Her muscles fatigue before anything else, and they are getting stronger with every ride.  We finished with some trot work.  I didn't do much lateral work, but serpentine and 10m circles.  Lots and lots of serpentine with circles mixed in.  Focusing on a more dynamic trot, then changing to a stretchy trot, then back to a working trot, changing the bend and flexion with every turn, creating a new outside rein etc.  I added in some lengthening on the circle and the long wall.  I noticed these are already improving, which is exciting.  There is less head up and running, and more moving over her back and lengthening the stride.

  By the end of our ride we had a lovely working trot, and she was allowing me to ride her any which way around the arena I wanted.  We ended on a nice long trot stretch, then asked for the left canter and got it right away, back to stretchy trot, and finally a nice walk to cool out.  My dad rode with me and I helped him a bit with Liam.  Another fun ride on Miss Ron.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Marepolitan


  For the first time, since I was a child, I have all mares.  This is an interesting change.  For years I was kind of away from them.  Then I got Penny about 4 years ago, and she was only mare for some time, aside from a mare boarder here and there.  Having Penny, Valley, and Indy worked out well because Indy felt he was herd stallion, Penny the Boss Mare, and Valley, well I think she just thought she was their baby.

  Some things I have noticed so far, in having only mares.  The barn is quieter overall.  The girls all love their routine, and are quiet in their stalls.  Indy would kick for grain, or if Penny left the barn so there is a definitely miss to his noisiness.   They are also less concerned with where each other are now, compared to when Indy was here.  He was very attached to his girls, so I think that in turn made them more worried about each other.  Before when I take them to the wash stall while the others were in, they would all call a bit.  Sometimes circle or get excited in their stalls.  Now, the girls don't even pay attention when one of them leaves.

Valley girl



  Their stalls are cleaner.  All my girls seem to keep their stalls relatively clean.  They all stay to one area making it easy to do their stalls.  Penny seems to weave much less than she has previously.  She is also in a new stall so maybe that has helped with her weaving too.  I have not seen her weave very much at all since her move, not that she was a bad weaver to begin, but I haven't seen her weave in at least a week or two.

  They eat less hay outside.  Well maybe not Valley. LOL.  Whereas I find geldings like to park at the round bale, the mares seem to enjoy eating, with breaks of touring around the field more often than before.  I also noticed there is less bossing around without a man around.  Penny is still the boss mare but overall the three girls tend to get along just fine and I don't see a whole lot of anyone pushing anyone else through their day.



  Maybe it is just the change in weather, but they seem more energetic together too.  They all go cantering out to their field every morning and come cantering in every night.  Before, there was a serious lack of enthusiasm at these times, except for maybe if dinner was late.

  As far as how things are with all the mares, they seem to have accepted each other nicely.  They are all bored from their vacations already.  Well maybe not Emmy, who is just learning what it means to be a horse.  Penny has never looked better fat wise, Valley is perhaps a little too fat.  Emmy is starting to gain weight already which makes me really happy.  

still has her starting dressage neck (dont laugh lol)


looking chunky

Booty still there too

last week


Looking better this week
  
The vacation will continue for Penny and Valley for a bit longer, then I am hoping to get them back into work for the rest of the winter.  I have so much I want to work on with them, I don't think I have ever felt quite so motivated to ride this time of year.  While everyone is complaining about the cold, I am dying to get out there and do some real work this winter.

  So we are officially a Marepolitan here at Pretty Little Farm.  Anyone else in the same boat?
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