Readjusting goals

When I ventured over to the dark side almost 3 years ago, my only goal was to have fun and to maybe one day complete an event at BN. The though alone of that made me want to puke, and quite frankly that first year, as Marcus repeatedly dumped me at starter and I had major anxiety over square oxers, it seemed down right impossible.

My favorite view


But I did it. And Julie told me to set my sights on N for this season.

I may have had a full out meltdown and jumped the first jump with tears rolling town my face, but I did that too.

And you know what? Even though we have finished out of the ribbons more than we have in ribbons this year, I have had SO MUCH FUN this season. Like more than I could have imagined and I enjoy XC now and I found the move up way easier than I thought I would be.

Novice was my only goal left and I did it. So now I’m sort of at a cross roads of what to do. After our last run at Novice, I sat down with my trainer and talked long term goals.

“I can’t believe these words are coming out of my mouth, and hearing them makes me a bit nauseous, but do you think Marcus and I could do Training in the future?” I asked my trainer.

She did everything in her power to hide her shit-eating-grin and said “Absolutely!”. Later my riding buddies told me she told them how proud she was of me that I wanted to try another move up.

So our goals for this season and next have changed a little. Marcus will do A8 Championships and then get the rest of the season off. We will run N again next year with the idea of moving up to T in the fall of 2018 if he still feels up for it. I do plan on running the N3D at KY Classique in September 2018 so that is my sole goal for next season.

I am so glad the jump judge caught this shot-it was the jump on course that felt perfect


One thing this does change is future plans for Frankie. When I got him, I never saw myself going past N and he was perfect for that. Now, I would like to set my long term goes on a T3D. Once we get there, I will re-evaluate. I’m not sure if Frankie is T material, so after talking it over with my trainer, our plans are to get him going at BN next year and then lease him out to a PC kid. I don’t want to sell him since he was never bought as a resale project and quite frankly, I love the little grump. He has instilled so much confidence in me and tries so hard. Julie told me she thinks he will turn out just like Marcus just a bit mellower.

This baby horse impresses me more every day


So with that, we are on the slow hunt for a upper level prospect for me. We want to find the “WOW” horse for me. I’ve looked at a few but since I have tons of time, I don’t mind to hold out for the perfect combination of brains, temperament, movement and heart. And of course cheap. Luckily we have space at home, so if the right horse comes along, s/he has a stall waiting.

 

Frankie’s first Mini Trial

A bit overdue, but I hauled Frankie to Flying Cross Farm in Goshen, KY for their summer mini trial the first weekend in July. What a great event for greenies. I entered him in Baby Starter for both days and he got to experience his first “real” horse show.

I was alone on Saturday so I don’t have any video, but Chris tagged along on Sunday to give me a hand and hang out. This event is great because you do dressage, then you do stadium about 1.5 hrs later and go directly to XC.

 

He did this the whole time Chris sat there

 

And this. Just like his big brother

Dressage

 

We USDF Intro Test B and he was pretty good. A little fussy with his head, but overall solid and I was pleased with him. We got a fair 35.7.

Stadium

Stadium was the same course as Saturday which worked to our advantage. In warm up he was a bit up and threw a few baby moments but nothing terrible.

He was pretty good, a bit fussy/cocky where he though we should GO but I made him trot the fences politely. He did stop and spook at the fountain, but I let him look, patted him and then asked him to keep going.

XC

How cute is this baby XC course? Seriously this was the best intro he could have had. The jumps were all logs or poles, and the course was a simple 6 jumps around a field. Because of how they had the flags you could jump any of the others if you wanted. He was brave and seemed to enjoy it!

We ended up in 4th on Saturday and 5th on Sunday out of about 10. Not bad! I know we probably could have done starter, but I really don’t want to push this horse too much. Since Marcus is going strong, I feel like I can take lots of time with Frankie. I do plan, if all goes well, for him to do starter at Octoberfest this fall with a pro.

 

Midsouth Pony Club HT-Part 2

We were set to ride Stadium around 1pm on Sunday, so I got the horse park with enough time to feed, check on M and walk my course. I had thought about taking him home on Saturday night but a few too many stall beers at the KHP and a trip the Mexican place and I opted to leave my trailer and my pony.

He was none worse for wear and was super relaxed when I got there. Covered in poo stains (yay! He relaxed enough to lay down) and munching hay quietly.

After XC on Saturday, I noticed he had twisted his RH shoe slightly, so I was worried if he weaved at all overnight it would come off but it was ok and I opted to just leave it and have my farrier check it on Monday.

The course walked fine and looked like a lot of fun, so I watched a few trips to see where people opted to turn then headed back to tack up.

In the warm up, Marcus was pretty mellow and maybe a bit tired. We jumped a few, and then hopped over the oxer which he spooked hard at. That caught me off guard but we cleaned it up before going in.

He walked in and was a super star! Maybe we need to run XC first every time so he gets some of the sass out of his system! I managed to ride all of the inside turns I had planned and aside from a snug spot at 3 and a huge effort over #7 (thanks Marcus), we had a really nice, equitation like trip.

Plenty of fist pumps after that trip. We moved up to 3rd and got to do the victory gallop!

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First fence
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Overjumping a wee bit
The approximate 2.25 seconds M stood still for a picture


Julie is now talking a move up (eventually) to Training and while most of me is saying (yelling?) “NOPE!” part of me is starting to say “Maybe?”

Midsouth Pony Club HT-Part 1

This past weekend was Midsouth Pony Club Horse Trial at the KY Horse Park (I know I should venture out more, but I really love the KHP).  This event is #2 for favorites-mainly because of the organizers but also because the courses are always challenging, but fun to ride. I also have a soft spot for this horse trial because it was my first ever USEA event in 2015.

Midsouth PC also runs their Novice with dressage/XC on Saturday and Stadium on Sunday, so I was really excited to see how Marcus took to the change.

Friday night we had flash flooding-I usually ignore The Weather Channel but this time, they actually called it. So, cue in panic mode for the footing for XC.

Saturday morning I loaded M up and headed over to set up, walk my course and braid. I walked the XC course and only panicked about 3 jumps- the #2 table, the corner and the half coffin. Not bad really. The footing for the most part was okay, so I relaxed about that. But we did have a few extra water crossings on course.

 

This looks so much smaller in pictures

Dressage was not perfect but a big improvement from May Daze. We still have places where we need work (i.e. the B-E and E-B change of directions and his “SQUIRREL!” moments) but our circles were round and our transitions were pretty relaxed. My goal was below a 35, and we ended up with a 35.3 to put us 5th of 17.

I walked XC with my trainer once she got done judging and we talked about a plan for the jumps that were making me nervous. She suggested avoiding one of the water crossings because it was rushing water (you could take an indirect route from 7B to 8 to avoid it) and we made a plan. I got tacked up and headed down.

I think M was a bit confused but warmed up perfectly, and they asked me to head to the box a few rides early with only a 30 second count down.  No turning back now.

Fence 1 was a simple log and he jumped it no problem, then we headed through the gap and out to the outfield. He was locked on until we hit our extra water #1 right in front of the #2 Produce Stand table that made me want to puke. Not wanting to get muddy, I growled and kicked and we jumped it. The corner was #5 which we had planned to jump dead center, but alas my fearless eventing partner was too busy spooking at the flower and we jumped it right of center.

The middle of the course flowed really well even though we were conservative on pace-there were a few places where the footing was just so so in the outfield so I figured a sound horse was better than time faults.

Fences 14-17 were back in the infield. Fence 14 was a large roll top, then 5 or so strides to the half coffin. He took a flier at 14, so in a moment of panic I yelled “WHOA” then I had to growl because he peaked at the ditch. It worked out great, and we went on to jump the last two fences and finish 6 seconds under optimum time. We moved up to 4th after that double clear.

He’s so darn cute on XC. Why did we waste so many years in the hunter ring?
Oh that’s right, because I’m a chicken shit.

 

#hunterhairandpearls

 

© Xpress Foto 920-619-8765
Minor disagreement about pace..
Maybe my favorite picture of M ever

Champagne Run CT-Frankie

Marcus has had an easy last two weeks after May Daze. Because of his age, I don’t like to jump him for a week or two after a horse trial and I tend to keep his schedule light. So Frankie got to be the center of attention.

Champagne Run put on another schooling CT/MT this past weekend and since Marcus was getting to relax, I entered Frankie in the Greenie Ground Pole CT and Greenie X Rail CT. They put on a lovely show that is a super experience for young horses.

I hauled over with plenty of time to let Frankie hang out, lunge him a bit and have plenty of time to warm up. I find with a baby its a fine line between taking the edge off and making them so tired that they think showing isn’t fun. He was a bit up coming off the trailer but loads better than last time. I tossed him on the lunge for a few minutes, then decided to head on down to the warm up.

He was a steady eddy in the warm up despite lots of activity and an open space.

We had USDF Intro test B for both CTs. Our first one was pretty good except for one pilot error. He was steady and tried hard but I forgot that both halts were at X. Opps.

I went in for our second test and told the judge I would do both of my halts in the same place this time and she laughed at me. He was AWESOME for the second test. A few baby moments but I could not have asked for better! The judge stopped me and told me she loved him, he was a great  mover and she thought I was going to have a TON of fun bringing him along. Her comments on my test were equally as good.

We ended up with a 30.4 and a 29.8, respectively.

Frankie had to hang around for a couple hours between dressage and stadium, so we went for a walk, got some water and then he stood quietly tied to my trailer.


Our ground pole class was WAY better than last time-he was steady and didn’t flip his head once.

For X-rails, he was a bit more “up” in warm up (he jumps big over them when he is excited but he doesn’t offer anything else bad). He walked in and just simply trotted everything, steady eddy. He did trip over one but I think that was partially being tired and partially being bored.

The funniest part about this horse is he is a total ham. He LOVES being the center of attention-his ears are pricked the whole time in the ring and he trots with a bit more swing.

We ended up 1st in ground poles and 2nd in X-rails. I was thrilled with him! He has been so so fun to bring along, and he seems to enjoy it. I hope CR will hold one more show this summer where we may try either the starter CT or run the starter MT depending on where we are at.


 

 

The BIG Novice Move Up

Better late than never right?

I’m sure after reading my lesson/XC schooling/CT recounts, you are wondering, waiting with bated breath, how we did at May Daze with our Novice debut.

We WON!

I’m just kidding. We finished 13th out of 15.

But we did it, and I only cried once (okay maybe twice), I sat up and rode and we went double clear on XC so I will take it as a successful move up!

Our dressage was just okay, as I was super nervous and thought I was going to forget my test. So I got tense, forgot to bend and added a few random upward transitions where they didn’t need to be. We ended up with a 39.5 which we deserved.

Stadium really tested my new found ability to sit my butt in the saddle. Marcus was a bit keyed up, and I was really, really nervous (insert crying episode #1) and typically that is not a good combo. Luckily, Julie has worked really hard to reprogram my brain to think “let go and kick” when I get nervous rather than “assume fetal position and pray”. So I rode forward, looked for a bold spot and nailed the first fence. We landed and we felt fantastic and I thought “we’ve got this”

 

Enter a caption

But then Marcus saw the giant mountain standards and we didn’t have it anymore. We went from a forward canter to slamming on the brakes and spinning away from them in about 2 seconds. I turned him around, kicked him forward and growled a bit and he jumped it even though he was still pretty scared of it. Good news is I had my butt in the saddle, so unlike two years ago, this didn’t end up with me on the ground and the EMT greeting me. But it did get us 4 faults for the refusal, 4 faults for the rail when he jumped it on the second attempt and 16 time faults.

Rather than be happy that I made the best of it, the perfectionist in me reared its ugly head and I walked out of the ring super disappointed (insert crying episode #2). I felt like stadium was always our Achilles’ heel, and I worked so hard to improve it and still struggled. But once I calmed down, I thought about how far we had come and was quite proud of my ability to get it done.

Fix the jumping ahead, lose the lower leg. Sigh.

The good thing about going into XC at a move up sitting in last place is that there is no pressure on you. I figured I couldn’t do worse, so my goal was to just get around. Julie told me two things-don’t take no for an answer and praise him heavily if he is bold and drags me to the fences. Marcus warmed up beautifully, and we headed to the start box.

Marcus’s XC war paint

That horse has figured out what “3, 2, 1 have a great ride” means and man he loves those words. He drug me to the first fence, then the second. The third made me nervous, so I kicked hard and he jumped it no issue. The sixth one scared the daylights out of me (still having nightmares of that one) but I kept my leg on and butt in the saddle and he jumped it great. By the time we landed off fence 7, I had a huge grin on my face and knew we were going to do it. I’m sure people in the barns could hear my extra loud “Good Boy Marcus!!!” over every single jump. The rest of the course was awesome, fun and confidence building. We finished double clear with a big fist pump in the air and tears streaming down my face crossing the finish line.

Just when I think we have finally blended in and no one can tell we used to be hunters, he jumps like this 🙂

Was my move up perfect? Nope. But that’s ok. For 2017, I am striving for progress not perfection. And May Daze was just that.

Next up-Midsouth Pony Club Horse Trial at the end of June!

Green bean group lesson

I took my boys over to Julie’s on Saturday for lessons since we had a break from showing. Marcus (no pics/video) was a super star despite the heat and my poor riding to one (big) oxer.

Frankie did his first group lesson with my friend’s greenie (if anyone is shopping for a OTTB who WTC jumps little jumps and hacks out alone and groups let me know!).

We worked on a few things:

-Getting him to swing through the shoulder at the trot a bit more. He is a good mover but we will need to improve his trot (mostly in his shoulder) so we’ve been working on that slowly

-Downward transitions. He has gotten pretty heavy on the left rein in trot-walk transitions, so Julie helped me from the ground to get him softer. She gave me some tricks to try when I am working him at home.

-The dreaded left lead. Frankie is really hesitant to pick up his left lead and gets pretty frazzled if you ask too many times. But he’s pretty willing to land on it over a jump. So our homework is to only pick it up over a jump for a while until he gets more balanced and comfortable. Pick your battles with the babies.

-Jumping little jumps. This is mostly me-I was trying to make him stay in a frame in front of the jump and also trying to hold him. Julie said to let him raise his head a bit and that my only job was to get him to the path of the jump, then I need to push my hands forward and let him figure it out. Feels like a trust fall exercise trotting a very green horse up to a jump and letting him decide what we do. 🙂



After the lesson, Frankie and his new buddy Dewey went for a trail ride. I almost said no, but figured why not. So we hacked down to the creek and Frankie met his first kayakers! He was a rock star and loved it!