Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Getting Back...

So, I've been having a motivation low on the horse front. There are so many things to do and never enough time... and I need a nap.
So, in the effort to not come home absolutely exhausted after work and giving lessons, I got up way early and rode Tilly this morning. Of course, then I had to shower and rush off to work to make it in on time, but it was really pleasant to get a horse worked early in the day.

It's wonderful how much more like a 'real' horse Tilly is starting to feel. She no longer feels like a wobbly little pony, but a little horse learning the basics. Of course, I realize that I've had her for nearly a year and have yet to have a picture or video of me riding her, so you all will just have to take my word for it that she's comng along. I'm tempted to throw her in the trailer for the schooling show next week (since they seem to be not ok with me and a student showing RC at different levels... I mean, I could show him training, but that seems unfair). She could make it through an intro test or two... But then I'd catch flack from Courtney for showing in Intro. Life is hard......

Guess it's back to more riding and training...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One of those...

Have you guys ever had one of those weeks? You know the kind where the real world trumps the horse world for a while and the blog gets sorely neglected because I haven't done anything blog worthy?

Yeah. One of those.
Anyway, here's all I've got. This brazen deer has spent more time in my arena than I have (speaking of which, be prepared for an Arena Makeover post sometime in the future).
Who me?

Later, Peeps
Though, I really did have a few excellent rides on RC last week which helped me out some. Now I'm trying to throw together a second level freestyle for the schooling show in August... as if I didn't have enough to do on a daily basis.

But never fear, I'm sure that something fun, exciting and/or entertaining will happen sooner rather than later.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Or a swampy little creek...
While I was trying to prepare La Ponita for her show last weekend, my parents came up to help me knock out a few little projects. So, here, in all it's glory is my new bridge. 

Before: trees, creek, swamp. 
Don't worry, I said. This will be totally doable, I said.  Not a problem, I said. 
Just a little bit of tree clearing and we're golden!
 I can see it now... Beautiful bridge over babbling brook. Like a post card. 
 Oh, flags are up. This might really happen!
Yeah, Dad, that tree needs to go. 
Nearly there... Just a touch more to go.
 Now what do we do with all of the trees and wood that had to be cleared? Oh wait... I know!

Time for some little supports. I'm thinking 6"x6" x 10' should about do it.
It's all starting to come together, one post hole at a time. 
With a little imagination you can hear Dad swearing at rocks. 
What is that I see, a new recruit? Excellent. Visitors will be put to work immediately.  
I knew there had to be a picture of me working somewhere.... 
The girls hard at work while the boys look on. Hmm... 
Supports? Check. Frame? Check. Decking?
Evidently not all visitors are put to work, judging from the 'hands on hips' and 'leaning on the rail' poses...
Someone's gotta hold this rail up, I suppose. 
Definite improvement from the original model....
Of course, many thanks to Dave, Carol, Dad and Mom for help on this project! It wouldn't have gotten done without you guys!

NWDA Summer Show

Delight and I have survived yet another show. We made the four hour drive, battling through 60 mile an hour winds and everybody and their brother was out taking their camper/kayak/ATVs out for a drive, with no serious mishaps. Whew.

By the time we pulled into the fair grounds on friday afternoon, the temperature had dropped from a sweltering 88 (yeah, I know, suck it up) to a chilly 65 degrees. I had not anticipated that... Should have brought a jacket! At least camping out in my tin can wouldn't be too warm.

I had a fairly good warm up ride. Delight was alert, if a little hot, but there were no rodeo pony moments or whoastorms, so I put her away to settle in with her hay (that horse can pack away the groceries! She went through two bales of hay in two days!). I cleaned my tack while Delight chewed contentedly on her dinner. Much to my surprise, I had red paint on the heel of one of my boots... Guess I haven't done much tack cleaning in the last week if the paint from the jump I hit is still on my boot!
After a restful, if cold, night in my trailer I was up and at'em around 5:30 (thank goodness from that time change). Plenty of time to get Delight braided, clean the stall, and get changed into my while breeches before my 8:15 ride. 
Don't worry, Delight. This angle is actually slimming.
Of course, Delight's braid job would have looked better had Tilly not groomed off about 4" towards the middle of her neck....
My first test was Training level test three and it went off without an issue to earn a 65%. I was not thrilled with a 65%, but then my expectations may be too high. I mean, two years ago, I would have been thrilled with anything over a 63% but now that I'm a professional I'm holding myself to the same standards that my former trainers were at. Fair? Maybe not, but it is what it is. 
My second test was at 10, first level test three. 61%. There were some bobbles, and I knew at the time that it wasn't going to qualify. So day 1 was pretty much a wash, and over by 10:15 in the morning. After giving Delight a well deserved bath and letting her graze as I watched tests, I put her away and made the 30 mile drive to the beach where I grabbed dinner and ate and read a book while sitting with my toes in the water. It made me feel more like a normal 20-something when I can say "yeah, I went to the beach this weekend, what did you do?". Beach sitting seems a little more relate-able than "Oh, I drove 200 miles to a dressage show with my German Riding Pony".

Beach Pony or Arena Pony? You decide.
Sunday was better. Of course, they ran the whole show in reverse order so my early morning rides from Saturday were now afternoon rides. Bah humbug.
I started my day with first level test three again in a futile attempt to get at least one qualifying score. 63%, so we improved, but not enough. The odd thing is that test was the best test Delight had all weekend. She was with me, over her back and really obedient and responsive, so I was surprised that it scored as low as it did. Obedient is all fine and dandy, but evidently they want more power, so back to the practice pen.
My training level test was similar to my first level test. We didn't have any mistakes or bobbles and the test flowed smoothly. I was not expecting a great score after picking up my first level test, so imagine my surprise when we qualified with a  70.8%. Woohoo! Finally!

We got an 8 for submission and an 8 for "harmony between horse and rider", and only a 7.5 for rider, so there's room for improvement. Judges comment: All business.
Would you look at those coefficients? Pony Con Fuego!

Now I just have to get better at first level.... And get more stretch down in the free walk and stretchy trot.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A little V8....

Ok, so you guys get a two-fer today, my weekend was just that exciting.

Lucky lucky you.

Not that kind of V8... But Jackie would have been helpful.
So here's a little problem: I went out to go get hay on Sunday. I was nearly out of hay (fed the core of my last round bale this morning, as a matter of fact), so a quick trip for two more freshly baled round bales was in order.
Side note: is there any better scent than fresh hay?

How do I not know anyone who drives a truck? Or a tractor?
I had a plan. After all, last time I got round bales, we got them off the truck and into the barn, no problem! Using... my mom's truck. Oh crap.

Well, how does one unload 1600 pounds of hay?
Easy, toss it, stack it, rinse and repeat.
Ok, smarty, how does one unload two 800 pound round bales?
Roll them!
That's like trying to roll a flat tractor tire. Try again.
Back up really fast and slam on the breaks? 
Tried it. All I accomplished as to scare my poodles. Tempi got mad and told me to stop driving like a dipshit.

Enter Farm McGyver.

I pretty much ruled out using a paperclip. After all, if I can bend and break a paper clip, how's it going to help me move a round bale? Useless....
Then a plan was hatched. I have a rope, a tree and a truck. Genius!
Step 1: Tie a rope to a tree. Be careful that you tie it in such a way that when pulling on it with a truck the knot will not tighten into an untangleable mess. You have to be able to get BOTH hay bales off...
Rope. Tree. Check. 
Step 2: Wrap rope around hay bale, secure to hitch on truck so that as you pull forward the rope pushes the bale off of the truck bed but doesn't pull the hay bale into the giant ditch by the tree. You do not want to have to push a hay bale out of a ditch.
Rope around bale. Check. Secure to hitch... Check. 

Step 3: Slowly pull forward, listening for the sound of snapping rope, breaking wood or any other sound that your plan has failed. Do a happy dance when the bale thuds off of the bed of the truck onto mostly flat ground. 

One bale down. One to go.
Step 4: Don't let the geldings mock you for your happy dance. It's not like they offered to help!
Uh London, wardrobe malfunction!
Step 5: Wrap rope around bale, once again securing the lose ends to the hitch. Pull bale until it lines up with the barn door.

Step 6: Repeat steps 1 through 5 on the second bale, congratulating yourself the whole time for being so clever. You deserve it. 

Step 7: Get those hay bales out of the elements. It's supposed to rain tomorrow! You know that you cant just push them. Even the She-Hulk is bested by round bales. I need something with a little more power. 
Oh, that's right. Push those bales with the truck. Put that V8 to work! Epic win goes to me!

Now I need a holiday. 

What Do You Do...

With the quarter horse who does EVERYTHING?

Why, take him to the local jump show. Of course.

Oh, I didn't know that you guys jumped. 

I don't. And it was horribly obvious. I feel compelled to apologize to the instructors who have given me a hand full of lessons over fences. I did not represent you guys well. At all.

I mean, I didn't totally bomb... RC was the green horse champion. We came, we saw and we conquered the crossrail class.  And I should have stopped there. I really should have, but at five dollars a class, I figured that I might as well put him in the 18"-2' class too.
That's right. Green horse Champion right there. 
Does this picture make our butts look big?

And here is where I should have beaten myself with a rolled up news paper while shouting "Bad trainer! Bad!"

I know that I over faced RC. He's never jumped a solid obstacle and I haven't jumped in, oh, a year or so, and even then it was half-hearted just for fun kind of jumping. On London.

Super Pony!
It went bad real quick. My two foot course could politely be called 'falling onto your horse' but we made it mostly clear with only one refusal. Poor RC. Then for the relay class, RC met solid obstacles. Which were in the 2'-2'6" range. Oh boy.
One small step for man, one GIANT canter step for equine kind....

We racked up refusals like they were going out of style until one refusal where I went right and RC went left. We parted company (And no pictures! I finally come off my horse - a potentially epic picture - and no pictures were taken! Come on!).
If you look really closely, you can see the arena dirt on my boot. And thigh. And butt...
Of course, like any real rider, I popped back on and forced RC over the rest of the fences with sheer will. After that, he was more than happy to pop over a solid fence...
Left behind a little?
And he earned double rations for putting up with me. Poor guy..... This is why I will never be able to sell this horse. La Ponita would never put up with this shit....
Moral of this story.... Practice before you take the WonderPony to a show. It'll be less embarassing...

Now I have a year to get Delight hopping over 2' fences... Never fear, I will not abandon my sand box. My first love will always be dressage, but I feel the need to redeem myself.

"Ride better" indeed.