Thursday, October 22, 2015

No Stirrup November

It's a little early but I'm seriously considering participating in No Stirrup November. Last year I had only had Benny for about a month and wasn't ready to commit to working with out stirrups. This time around I could see it being beneficial for us, specifically for my position. I have a couple of hesitations, the first being that I have a show the first weekend of November. Due to that, I wouldn't start until the second week. My other issue is that it's going to make for shorter rides (or more walk/canter work). Benny's got a great trot but it's super bouncy. I can ride just fine with out stirrups for a little while but when I start getting tired things fall apart.  My other thought it that I may just commit to doing some work with out stirrups every ride. Is anyone else thinking of doing it? What makes you hesitate?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Still Bumpy

Emi continues to have hives. They are mainly on her forehead although she does have them lightly down the side of her jaw and down the underside of her neck. I finally decided that I needed to be the adult in the situation and keep them locked off the pasture. That lasted for all of oh....1 day. I couldn't bear to keep them locked in when the weather has been incredible and I know they are going to have a long rainy winter locked off the pasture. 

I finally got the great idea to treat them topically. I have this Wound Care Foam that I won on Eventing Nation. I decided to give it a try since it says it can be used for "rashes." I have no idea how/why it's working but it is working! Her hives are much better on her forehead after applying it for only a couple of days. It's easy to apply and doesn't leave either of us a sticky mess. Now I'm asking myself why it took my so long to think of applying something to them. Do any of you have a favorite hive treatment? 

She may be bumpy but she sure is cute!
On a different topic, Emi got her feet trimmed on Friday. She was super! She's never really bad but she tends to be impatient and wiggly. Friday she stood quietly, like a big kid, for all four hooves. The farrier put her last hoof down and I said "wow, that was the best time yet." He quickly agreed. I think my baby girl is growing up!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Learning is Fun

I did not particularly enjoy going to school. My parents always told us what a privilege it was to get an education but at the time I really didn't buy it. As I've gotten older and (thankfully) finished school, I've found that I enjoy learning more than ever before. I'm sure a part of that is because I'm able to learn about things that I'm specifically interested in but I also think that the older you are the more you realize how little you actually know!

Since I've started back in regular lessons I'm really enjoying the chance to continue learning.  I'm sure you have all experienced the surprised look people give you when riding lessons come up. More than once I've received the question "I thought you knew how to ride?" Little do they know how complex it is! I'm so thankful for the opportunity to grow in my own riding knowledge and I love how the pieces continue to come together.

Not only did we have a good lesson Tuesday night but I was able to re-create the feeling again last night, as I was working on my own. It's especially rewarding when you know you are on the right track. I look forward to seeing what new piece of the puzzle we are able to address in my next lesson. How about you, is learning fun?

Monday, October 12, 2015

What's the Plan?

You may be wondering what my long term plan is with three horses. Although I'd love to keep all three...reality is that with a full time job and the goal of competing I don't have the time, energy, or money to do three horses well. My current situation has been working out alright since I don't ride either Emi or Roz, but once Emi is started there is no way I can do justice to both her and Benny.

Since I don't have time for everyone I plan to list Benny up for sale in April. I'm open to selling him sooner but I don't plan to officially list him until that point. At the end of April there is a sport horse arabian show that that I'd love to take him to. That's currently the extent of my plans with him other than continuing to take lessons and to compete in our league final show. It's a weird place to be, and I think it's made even more strange since I really really like him. It would be one thing if I didn't care for him but that's not true. Isn't that life? So often we have to choose between two good things.

As far as Emi goes, I'm not in any rush to start her and will happily continue to ride Benny until he sells. Emi turns three near the end of June and I hope to have a low key summer of riding with her. It's so crazy to think that a year from now she will be my riding horse...she has no idea how much her life will soon be changing!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Learning & Winning Part 2

On to the "winning" part of learning and winning. After my open test (that scored a 55%) we had several hours before my next test. I volunteered for a couple of hours, got Benny braided, and then got ready to ride again. Our warm up went well and when it was our turn we headed in to the arena. By this time I had found out that I could actually ride him in to the competition arena rather than just around at the small space outside of the court (there wasn't room to go all the way round). I took advantage of a the couple of minutes I had, to ride him down the center line and past the judges table both directions.

They rang the bell and we were off. Benny had no further spooking issues and I was thrilled with our test. It wasn't perfect but I finally felt like we put together a test that was closer to the kind of work we can produce at home. Regardless of my score I was happy with the results. We earned a 68.269% and second place in the class. We received lots of 6.5's and 7's along with two 8's. One of the 8's was for our free walk (a coefficient) and the other was for the trot transition directly following it. Transitions are something we have been working on a lot and it's so nice that they have become very reliable. We got a 6.5 on both canter circles due to it needing a more clear rhythm. His canter is his weakest spot so I was actually happy with that. I know there is more room to improve but at the same time I'm happy with the progress we have made.

The second test of our division was the following morning. When I arrived at the warm up arena the show arena was on break and open for schooling. I took advantage of that opportunity to spend some time walking around, making sure the monsters were gone. As expected, Benny didn't give it another look.  Once we moved to the warm up arena we got to work and Benny was being quite good. My goals were to keep him forward and show good bend in our shallow loop serpentines.

Our test itself wasn't as consistent as the day before and we didn't nail our shallow loops as well as I would have liked.  The test had some very nice moments followed up some discussion between us. Our final score was a 66.363%, which was good enough to win the class. We received a 7.5 for the free walk and an 8 for a beautiful trot. I knew the "8" trot was going to be a great score while I was riding it.  I need to keep working for that trot in our every day work! Our weekend average was a 67.317%, which was good enough to win the individual portion of our Training 2 & 3 division.

Our team ended up with 2 champions and 2 reserve champions (in different divisions). The "team" portion of the show is calculated off of the average percentage of your team (with the lowest score being dropped.) My 67.317% was the lowest average on our team, so I was the dropped score....and our team won! We received medals for the team portion and we got a saddle pad for the individual win. I'm so proud of our team! We are just an average bunch of adult amateurs that work really hard to be good at riding. It was fun to see that work pay off in a concrete way.

This was going to be our last show of the year but now we have a new prospect...should we go to league championships!?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

On Learning & Winning

This weekend I attended a local league dressage show called the Adult Team Show. As the name implies, the show is for people 21 and over and riders are on teams. Not only do riders compete on teams but they also place individually. I don't know about you but double the chance of prizes? I'm in! Teams consist of 4 people and ours was a group from our barn. 

When they first published the prize list came out they were offering open classes (as time allowed) along with the other divisions. I know Benny tends to be better his second time in the show ring so I opted to do an open class both days. As it turned out the show was so full that they didn't have time for the open rides. They ended up shuffling things around so that open rides were offered on Friday with a few more first thing Saturday morning. I wasn't able to go up on Friday and then hemmed and hawed about going up early on Saturday morning. For the sake of schooling I chose to keep my open ride for Saturday morning, and I'm sure glad I did. 

Benny travels pretty well and always comes off the trailer calmly. Saturday was no exception. I got on him with about 30 minutes until my 8:20am ride and he warmed up fairly well. All that changed when we got in to the competition arena. We headed down center line, halted at X and Benny said "no thank you" to continuing down to the judges table. It took me literally a minute to get him going again...and when I did get him moving it was because I turned him back away from the judges table and continued on with our test. How well can your dressage test go when your horse is gawking and won't use 1/3 of the arena? At the end of my test I was able to walk him up to the judges table and he sighed while the judge and scribe assured him that there were not any monsters hiding back there. 

I met Tarra as I came out of the arena and she told me that it was $30 well spent to come up for the class. I totally agreed. Since I was the last rider in the open class and there was a break before the start of the rest of the show I was able to go right back in to the competition arena to school. After 5 or 10 minutes Benny was being just fine about that end of the arena. I was pretty certain that was the worst test of my entire life and wondered how in the world the judge could really even score it. I was pleasantly surprised when we ended up with a 55%. Amidst 2's, 4's, 5's and 6's we received 7's for both coefficients (the stretchy trot and free walk). 

 Although I knew Benny may be spooky for the first test I was not expecting him to look that hard. In his defense I do think it's a hard arena for horses and with the way the court was set up I didn't get him down near the judges booth before our ride started. It was a great reminder that if I show Emi next year I really need to make a point of going to shows early enough that she can scope out the arena. It's easy to take these calm, well adjusted horse for granted. Stay tuned for the winning that comes tomorrow!

 On another note, I've had Benny for a year today!

1 week after I got him
September 13th, 2015

Monday, October 5, 2015

Sneak Peek

Too tired to write much but here's a sneak peek of my weekend. Team NDF cleaned up!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Fall Photo Fun

I love photos and enjoy having some nice horse photos taken every once in a while. What could be more fun than to do it with 3 adorable bay ponies?! Let me tell you, it was crazy busy getting them all prepped and then I had to haul Emi and Roz to Benny's barn. I could not have done it with out the help of a friend. After I got to the barn I threw Roz in the round pen so I could grab my brushes from the trailer. That was a bad clean horse became not so clean in about 5 seconds. I should have known better! I hadn't been on Roz since his birthday in March, and it felt so good to climb aboard. It's amazing how much a horse can feel like home. 

How much things change in two years...