Friday, April 24, 2015

Missing Rolex

Clayton Fredericks & Be My Guest
I had put some strong thought into going to Rolex this year, but life is just not giving me the break I need to justify the trip. The fact that this may be my last year living within easy driving distance of Lexington made saying no extremely hard.
Hannah Sue Burnett & Harbour Pilot
Instead of crying over the missed trip, I'm having a lesson with my trainer. The first one since January. I bet that'll take my mind off of the things and people I'll be missing.
Michael Pollard & Icarus (RIP Icarus, you were an awesome horse.)
Luckily, I have these photos from Rolex 2011 to look at when my live feed inevitably crashes on Saturday.
Jessica Phoenix and Exponential. I love her expression.
If I even get to watch the live feed. I may end up shunning my electronics tomorrow and binge watching the entire weekend before show jumping on Sunday.
Colleen Rutledge and Shiraz
You can't blame me, though. Rolex fever is a real thing.
I think we'd had Lyra a week when we took her to Rolex the first time?
It doesn't matter what discipline you ride, there's something about that 4* in Kentucky that really ignites the imagination. Plus, Lexington is one of my favorite places on earth. So, if you're lucky enough to be down in Kentucky this weekend, don't forget to check out some of my favorite places.
Vacationing In Horse Country: Keeneland Breeding Sale
• Vacationing In Horse Country: Beer, Bourbon, And Barrels
• Vacationing In Horse Country: Keeping Everyone Happy
• Vacationing In Horse Country: Where To Stay & The KHP

Get out there and enjoy some Rolex weekend...
William Fox Pitt & Neuf des Coeurs

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Photo Break


This past two weeks.

I'm not sure how I'm alive. Let's recap...
Yeah. This pretty much describes it.
First, I came back from the show and got straight to work on my thesis paper drafts. Yeah. Drafts. Plural. That's, like, a books' worth of structured writing to do, kids.
You know I was in Ohio recently, because Yuengling.
Of course, I've also been dealing with some crazy hours at work. On top of launching all of next season's marketing campaigns there have been lots of late nights, including this...
REO Speedwagon. On a Thursday. These weeknight concerts will be the end of morning-person me...
Luckily, I did manage to sneak away from work and homework once or twice to ride...
Apparently springtime happened when I wasn't looking.
And to remember to give Pig his strangles vaccine...
Watching me mix these two vials together was some kind of hilariously sketchy physical comedy scene.
And to create this ridiculously perfect polo wrap...
#celebratethelittlethings  #doghair #sorrynotsorry
And this guy finally sold. Remember him? And the gravel down pants story? Sold. Whoo!
You don't want to know how many baths it took to get him that clean. (Three. It took three.)
*I thought about cropping my friend out of the nice photo. Instead, you get the lazy version, where I just use the bloopers photo where Darius is cropping her out himself. Thanks, buddy.
Looming over everything has been my writing, though. Right now, one paper is in final editing, and the other is almost wrapped up, too.
All-nighters. Kill me now.
It's been so crazy, I can't help but feel the demolition happening up the street from my office is kind of a metaphor for my life...
I came in like a WREAAAAAKING BALL!!!!
Fingers crossed things fall back to a normal level of busy this weekend and I get to spend more time enjoying moments like this:
So Pretty. Such Bliss. Flowers. Wow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April Adventures Recap: The Take Away

If my recaps (1 & 2) came across negatively, that was not my intent. I was actually thrilled with the results of Pig and I's first show of the season. Sure he was difficult, but there was a lot to like about the way we handled the situation and the way we milked points out of an otherwise difficult test.

"What do you mean I 'was difficult?' I have to deal with your difficulties everyday!" -- Pig
On top of that, looking at the photos and video from the weekend clued me in to some changes I can make in my own riding to improve our communication and harmony. Luckily, I think both issues are related and easily solved through awareness and slight changes.

First? I'm constantly sitting right. When I try to sit left, my body ends up twisted in a strange way, and my right hip is stuck back. This shoves me in the back seat of my saddle and doesn't actually allow me to sink deeply onto my left seatbone.

Second? My right leg is constantly buried in Pig's side, while my left is usually floating somewhere off the side of him. This is partially because I have no weight on my left seatbone, and partially this is keeping me from being able to weight the seatbone. In addition, Guinness tunes out my right leg. That makes me feel I need to have it on constantly to keep his right haunch corralled. That's not acceptable.

Left leg somewhere off the side of my horse. Or, as my trainer would remind me, "you look like a dog peeing on a hydrant." Sigh. Yes. I do. My weight is also right, my right hip is back, and my body is twisted.
My right leg is buried. My right seat is ON. My thigh has contact. This is a very active position, and has its place, but every photo looks like this. Oops.
My biggest problem is that my left leg seems to have a magnet for the girth. The moment I get on, it finds the girth and never leaves. That throws my balance off, and confuses my horse. It makes simple changes and maintaining bend super hard. My weight being right also forces Pig to bring his haunches right, which I am trying to stop with my right leg. It's a big cycle of bad.
Well, Lady? Get to your fixin'!
Over the last few rides, I've been focusing hard on fixing these issues. First I've been working on loosening up my legs and ensuring that I have a reaction to my right leg. I've been doing that through use of turns on the forehand whenever Pig started to feel sticky to my right leg.

Once he is listening, I make sure to have both lower legs in the right active position. I worked on shifting back my left leg, lengthening it and making sure it could come on when needed. Lengthening my left leg helped my left seatbone come back in contact with the saddle.

Finally, I put all of this to work in simple changes and collecting the canter. These exercises are where a deficient seat and inactive legs are most obvious. The work has been hard, but getting better. The best thing is that Pig is starting to really recognize my legs shifting position as a cue. That is exciting because it brings us to...
That moment when you realize your trainer is back from Florida, and you've got embarrassing things to fix before she sees you...
Ch-ch-chaaaanges are on the horizon! We have two weeks to solidify our, admittedly pretty good, collected canter and our, admittedly somewhat awful, simple changes. I need to get the depart more off my seat, and changing my legs and deepening my left seat is helping immensely with that. We're close. We're so close!

(Now, back to writing my thesis papers...)

Friday, April 10, 2015

April Adventures Recap: Day 2

Getting out of bed was even harder on Sunday. I broke one of my cardinal horse show rules and ordered coffee instead of tea with my breakfast. Usually coffee gives me the jitters, but I was so exhausted on Sunday, all it did was keep my eyes open.

Unfortunately, when I checked in on Pig I found him practically shivering in his stall. He was obviously cold and uncomfortable, not even interested in eating his hay. I immediately threw his cooler on him, and took him out to walk a bit and eat some grass in the sun to warm up.
Frozen Pig warming up in the morning sun.
After about an hour bundled up and in the sun, Guinness had warmed up and was looking a lot happier. We headed back into the barn to braid and get ready for our first class.

Unfortunately, I don't think the tension from being cold ever really left Guinness. He was even worse in the contact than the day before, though tired and less reactive. My goal for the day was just to keep my % at each level in the 60s, so I wasn't feeling too pressured to go out there and lay down a spectacular test and stress out my horse.

However, I did end up getting after Pig more in the warm-up. I think that helped me get him slightly more in front of my leg, but he wasn't having anything to do with my left rein. He was just incredibly stiff. I didn't push the envelope, and just worked on straightness and getting him to relax a little. I went into the ring knowing I had a ball of tension under me, again.

Our 1-2 test felt much flatter than the day before. I felt our halt was more prepared than the day before, but still wasn't straight. The bit of trot after the halt was just as terrible as normal. We pulled a 6. The leg yields were still fairly on point. We managed a 7 on the one to the right, despite losing straightness in parts. The judge really liked how nicely he was in my outside rein. Our second lengthening was also nice, getting us a 6.5. I ended up posting it because Pig was lengthening his stride nicely, but wasn't through enough to make it a "sitable" trot.

The second leg yield scored a 7, despite me being unable to keep our flexion correct. It was fairly straight, and dramatic in points. I ended up riding too much sideways in the middle and needing to kind of boot Pig forward to hit the letter. Oops!

Our walk work started with a slightly backwards walk transition right in front of the judge. She was generous and gave us a 6 on that. I think I would have given us a 5, maybe. The free walk took a lot longer to develop than on Saturday, and the stretch wasn't as good. We ended up with a 7 on that.

At this point every single comment on my sheet reads "+ round". Pig was really having none of being a dressage horse. His canter depart is leapy, not because I surprised him like last time, but instead because he wanted to pick up the right lead instead and I corrected him mid-leap. Once in the canter, it was very flat, especially for us.

Every single score from the moment we finish the free walk is a 6. After watching the test, I can't even argue. We did all the movements, but without any brilliance. There were little flaws in everything. Our connection was incredibly flawed, and his back was so tight he couldn't really move. We did manage a 7 on our final centerline and halt. I can only imagine this was because the judge was as happy the test was over as we were!

Here's the test!

Again, the overall feeling of this test is that we have it. Nothing about First feels hard for us, it's just difficult to get all of our points without full cooperation on the part of my horse. We pulled a 61.875%. I'm not even disappointed with that score, just kind of amazed that we held things together as well as we did.

We had slightly less time between classes than the day before, but I didn't want Pig to sit in his stall and get cold. We ended up heading back outside for a bit of a walk and graze to keep warm while we decompressed.
Is there anything prettier than a chestnut in the warm sunshine? I mean really...
As we warmed up for 2-2, I quickly realized this was going to be a true test of whose will was stronger. Pig was incredibly stiff at the base of his neck. Getting him to move his shoulders right was impossible, and so was moving his haunches left. I actually didn't pick a fight in the warm up. I stopped working on getting a connection and instead focused entirely on transitions. We did a transition every 4-5 strides for the last 5 minutes before going in for our test. That helped get Pig in front of my leg for a bit and listening to my seat. We lost some of that in the ring, but I think it helped get us through the first half of the test.

The entrance and first halt was probably some of the most connected work we had all weekend, and the halt was nicely stepped into. We pulled a 7 for this. As typical, Pig again started trying to make his own decisions about the turn after the halt, and was just ugly for this portion.

I'm actually really happy with his medium trot. He was lifting off the ground. We wiggled a bit, but it's not "non-existent" which is our usual problem. We managed a 6 (way better than a 5!). Our shoulder-in left fell victim to our normal issue of "too much bend." It's obvious when you watch the video that he just isn't engaged enough to support the straightness. Oops.

In another "oops" moment, we have a fight about changing bend in the second 10m circle half, and that persists into the travers. Pig fights me so much here he almost looks lame. I promise. He's not. He's just considering slamming on the brakes and rearing.

Our turns on the haunches (6s) are not the worst things ever, but the good steps are few and far between. At this point, it's pretty obvious I'm just trying to keep a lid on my firecracker of attitude masquerading as a horse. The free walk pulled a 7, which is amazing because I didn't feel like he stretched at all. Maybe the judge felt bad for us and noticed I was basically trying as hard as I could.

After we pick up the trot (6.5 for transition), things get really interesting. We head into the shoulder-in right where ... nothing happens. Seriously. We end up with a 5 for this movement, which is super generous. I was actually laughing a little bit, because my horse just totally flipped me the bird there. His neck is turned, but, I promise, his shoulder is still pretty much stuck to the wall.

At this point, I'm kind of holding together Pig's mental state with super glue and hope. Our half circles and travers left are solid 6s. We get through them, but barely. Pig tries to throw a fit about changing bend, and I just kind of push him off balance to get the transition. He's so far behind my leg in the travers, it's almost not funny. Almost. No wait... who am I kidding? It's funny.

We finally get to pick up a canter (6, inverted) and somehow manage a 7 on our half 10m circle and counter canter in the left lead. On the counter canter the judge noted "ridden to wrong side of horse." She isn't wrong, but in all honesty-- she gave me a 7, and sometimes you gotta do what it takes to get the job done. I was just happy he didn't swap.

Our simple change is a 5, but at least we end up with the correct lead. The counter canter in the right lead is another 7, and really the highlight of our test. The second simple change is a well deserved 4 again, as we flub the lead a second time. I cannot believe that. We're a mess. We pull off 6s for the rest of the test, and end with a very grateful halt.

Here's the test:

I've never been so happy to get off after a test. Pig was fried and tired, and I was fried from dealing with him. I was pretty sure we'd managed maybe a 55% on that disaster of a test, but was floored to walk away with a 60.128%. Clearly all those 7s saved us, big time.

We did end up with two more blue ribbons (yay small show!). I felt like we kind of deserved them after all the tension I had tried to mask all weekend.
Pig is screaming. I am laughing. I feel like this is pretty much the sum of the weekend.
On top of everything, just as we had just finished packing up, the secretary (I think?) came out to our truck and asked to see my spurs. She said that I wasn't in trouble, but that the judge and TD had questioned my spurs. I said "they're swan neck spurs and allowed." She said that "some types of swan neck spurs need to be worn upside down," which made no sense. She said it wasn't a problem this time, but that I needed to be careful at my next show. I just smiled and nodded, jumped back in the truck and headed home. Everyone I've asked about this has zero idea what the problem is. The USEF rules clearly state that swan neck spurs are allowed. There is even a picture right there in the rule book. I don't think it gets clearer than that. I guess I'll be bringing my spurs to the TD before my next show, just to make sure there aren't problems. Frustrating.

Overall, I'm really happy with how this show went. It was basically a schooling show, but with the benefit of having USDF scores. We kept our %s in the 60s and managed one of our highest First Level scores ever, despite being totally disunited all weekend. I can't wait for summer so we can show when it's warmer and hopefully have a little more equine cooperation!

** Note: I'm the feature on Ammy Hour over at SprinklerBandits. Check it out!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

April Adventures Recap: Day 1

Saturday morning dawned early for us. We scooted out of our friend's house just in time to watch the awesome lunar eclipse make its rapid way across the morning sky. We'll call that a good omen.
Cell phones are inadequate at capturing spectacular lunar events from a speeding truck...
Walking in the barn, I was greeted by a slightly chilly and somewhat grumpy Guinness. He was interested in my presence as far as being fed was concerned, but otherwise wanted nothing to do with me. He was covered in shavings, and had a spot where he had obviously laid down for awhile. I was happy to see he had gotten some rest after the tribulations of trailering the day before.

After trying to check in with the show secretary (still not there!), I decided to just go ahead and get dressed and braided. I knew the show was absurdly small (something like 11 riders overall), and I was the first ride at 10 a.m. I finally tracked down the show management around 9, and collected my number.
Pig braids! We got complimented on our braids all weekend. A bunch of people kept asking me how I did them, and one of the FEI riders even drooled over them in the warm up. Yay! I'm good at something!
FYI: Fluffy dutch braid tutorial coming along soon...
The moment I got on, I knew it was going to be a tough day. While his movement was stellar, Pig was absolutely not cooperating in the bridle. He kept getting stuck behind my leg, and kicking out when I would get after him. When he's behind my leg, he is impossible to get into contact. The best I can do is try to manage him in the ring to keep his contact tantrums at a minimum. Luckily, we've been working hard at listening to my seat, so while I didn't have very good (or any!) half halts longitudinally, I did have them laterally. With 1-2 coming up first, I knew the leg yields could be very good and the lengthening work was going to be a total joke.

As you'll see in the video, I could have done a much better job getting Pig into contact. Honestly, when I try to manage his ugly behavior (head tossing, leaping, backing, rearing, kicking out), I usually just end up throwing away my reins completely. That's what happened here. My reins are way too long to be effective at all. This was an ongoing theme the whole weekend, and I should have been braver in the warm up and just dealt with his shenanigans. I was a little afraid of being called out for being "dangerous" though.

As we headed into the ring, I tried to put on my "whatever" face and just ride the test as it came. The ring was narrow and pretty spooky. It was also dead silent, just being a large indoor with the judge and scribe at one end, and me in the ring. The noise in the video is actually from the warm-up ring. You couldn't hear any of that in the ring itself. I felt so alone with my thoughts, and it was actually kind of disconcerting to feel that on display. I was surprised by how little it bothered me to be able to hear my scores when on the near side of the ring. As for Pig, he was a star. He took a quick look at the judge's table, then continued to be his stellar non-spooky self.

Even with our contact and roundness problems (See the wagging head? That's our tell-tale sign. Now you know our secrets...), our 1-2 test was one of the better ones we've ever done. After biffing our first halt (though we got a 7?), we went on to have the best leg yield right of our life. Watch us nail that accuracy, too. He was so straight and on my seat, it was ridiculous. We ended up with a 7 on that. First time ever I've had above a 6 on a leg yield. They used to be so terrible.

The second lengthen was much better than the first, in that it sort of existed. The leg yield left was a big star, getting us a 7.5 from the judge. Another big highlight was our walk work, which was really excellent. I've said before that this horse has a stellar walk, but is usually too tense in the ring to show it. We've been working on the walk work being his "refuge" from tense work, and I think it's paying off. We ended up with a 7 on our medium walk, and an 8 on our free walk.

The canter depart was downright terrible. Pig was behind my leg, so I asked really hard. Sensitive soul that he is, we took a flying leap into the canter. Whoops.The canter work was actually the downfall of the test, which is completely unlike us. Most of it was 6s, with one 7 on our first lengthening, and a 5 on our second (totally deserved). Pig wanted to change leads in the second lengthening, and I ended up fighting the whole long side to keep him in the right lead. That was intensely obnoxious.

I really like the new 1-2. The canter work is kind of boring, but the way the trot work is done keeps you moving, without stressing you out. The turns up the centerline really prepare you well for the leg yields. Nothing in this test felt trappy, unlike some of the previous First Level tests.

When I got done, I told Christian I thought the whole test had gone really well for the first half, then fallen apart completely at the end. I had no idea how we did, but assumed our good work was good enough to get us a 60%. You can imagine how surprised I was to walk away from that test with a 64.063% and first place in the largest class (2 AAs! Ha! Still, the other horse was a very fancy mover.).

Here's the video:
(note: we warmed up inside the ring until the whistle was blown, due to the narrowness of the arena)

 My 2-2 test followed an hour after my first test. I had time to untack Pig, and let him decompress a little. The ride had brought him down a little, but I knew a second ride was going to stress him out even more. (I should post about my stress management/ulcer preventative schedule for this show. It was intense, and probably still not enough.) After a short break, we tacked back up and headed back into the warm up.

I figured for about a 20 minute warm up for this test. If it had been a longer break between tests, I would have done 30. Usually a longer warm up is better for Pig, but when he gets really tight he tends to mentally shut down completely once fatigue sets in. As it was, I felt like I was handling a brain with the toughness of a Faberge egg. Every horse that came towards us had Pig on edge (the warm up was small, but not crowded in the least, and everyone was very good about giving us our space), and he was doing way too much thinking ahead of me. I was pretty sure our simple changes were going to be total disasters, and that we were going to swap leads in the counter canter work.

Keeping in mind my too-long reins from 1-2, I worked to shorten them up. Still, I was a little too tight and Pig was much too tense to deal with any tension from me. We had a few minor blow ups, to which I quickly capitulated. I really needed to just bend my elbows and walk until he gave in. Oh well, hindsight. 20/20. All that.

Finally, I decided to just loosen up his shoulders with a little canter half pass, and go ahead and give the test a shot. Like I've said, I know the training is there, but if the horse isn't cooperating I can only do so much.

We look better entering the ring than I felt. There's a lot of head wagging and body swinging after the halt. Pig decided he was making decisions about where we were going, and he did not want my input about that. We struggle with this section all the time. It's one of the downfalls to riding a ridiculously smart horse.

Our medium trot actually shows some change, but isn't round at all. We got dinged pretty hard for that lack of roundness, as we should have! The shoulder-in left made up for that, though. It's really steady, and I've been working on that. This direction, we typically have too much bend so I was happy to keep him nice and straight through the shoulder. You can see me just kind of anchor my hands for this movement, so you can imagine how much I had to ride him off my seat. He still wasn't having anything to do with connection. If he had been, I'd have asked for a bit more flexion and kept him more collected for an 8, as it was, we scored a 7. I'll take it.

The half circles were okay. He was incredibly reluctant to go into right bend, but when I pushed the issue, he did it. I was happy enough with that. The travers right that follows is just terrible. That's usually our good direction, but I couldn't keep him steady and I couldn't keep him bent. The judge noted that, and this was another of our many 6s on this test (it's pretty much solid 6s).

The first turn on the haunches is pretty good, for us. That's usually his bad direction, but he does it well. The last two strides are kind of terrible, but overall I'm okay with the picture. We ended up with a 6 on that one. The second one was terrible, and I had no control of the outside shoulder. I couldn't manage his tension and get the flexion fast enough, so we basically did a haunches-in on a 10m circle. That was a 5. Ouch. The rest of the walk work is all 6s. After our stellar free walk in the 1-2 test, it was really disappointing to get a giraffe impression in this one. He's overstepping, but only because he really has such a nice walk. A less fabulous walker would have been camped out behind. It starts to improve at the very end, but not enough.

The shoulder-in right was not as good as the other. It's hard to see in the video, but we didn't maintain the angle as well, and he was not bent enough. I wasn't pressing the issue, asking for too much flexion this direction can start a huge fight. I just tried to keep us even. We scored a 6. The half circles felt like a disaster (they kind of look like it, too). He's behind my leg and just trotting up and down, or trying to blast through my hands. The travers left actually helped me corral that crazy, and we ended up with a 6.5 there. He needs more bend from my inside leg and could be steadier, but I'm honestly amazed at how good that looks for a horse that is only 15% in the bridle.

The canter depart was a 7. I won't complain. Nothing special here except that it was quiet and on my aid (sometimes that's a miracle). Nothing about our canter was was special or particularly good until the counter canter. Pig wasn't round enough to actually do a medium, and was flailing under my seat too much on the circle. The counter canter came through for a 7, though. He looks really nice in this. You almost can't tell I'm riding the crap out of him to avoid him trying to break on me.

He throws his haunches in the simple change, and trots behind. Oops. The canter work right is all pretty dicey because I can't keep his haunches in place. The counter canter is better, but still only worth a 6 because we basically turn it into a half pass. Then Pig does his own lead change, but decides to pick up the same lead. I get left behind. We get a 4 for that whole communication fail.

Pig taking advantage during the simple change made me mad, which works out for our medium trot, which actually exists. He still isn't round enough for real points, but I'm thrilled to see his hind end pushing and lifting that much on the video. My anger results in me insisting he listen for the rest of the test, and we end on a 7 for our centerline. I pat him, and thank god I don't have to ride his attitude until the next day. Pig sighs and waits for death, probably.

Here's the video:

Overall, the test went, okay. There were some real highlights that show our training is 100% on track. On a day when Pig is actually in the bridle and working over his back, we will own this test. Even though I was kind of pissed at my horse's shitty attitude, that knowledge still felt good. I was pleasantly surprised to get the scores back and see that we ended up with a 60.769%.

I wish it was better, but I think it's a good indication of what the judge saw on the day. In the comments, the judge wrote that we needed to show a lot more suppleness and connection through the back. I knew that, but it helps to know we were getting dinged on something I already felt, and know is fixable. We have that at home. It feels good to know our training is solid enough to weasel out a 60% without being through.

It also feels good to walk away from the first day at a show having finished up the first 2/3 of my Bronze Medal, That took off the pressure for Sunday. Achievement unlocked.
Okay. The fancy blue ribbons helped, too!
We left grumpy Pig in his stall with a load of hay to nap and decompress some, while we went out with my mom to celebrate with grapefruit cocktails, wine, and a trip to the Dover store. Horse show celebrations: doing it right. After all that celebrating, we headed back to check on Pig and take him for a long hand walk/graze. He was much more cheerful after his day of napping and being left alone, and was very happy to join us on a walk around the property in the sun.
Husband and horse enjoying the sunshine.
We left Pig wrapped, but unblanketed for the night. It was going to get cold, but the night before the barn temp hadn't dropped below 45*. He had plenty of hay, so we figured he would be fine. Of course, we didn't know the barn management was going to leave the doors open that night...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April Adventures: Travel & Arrival

The view from our Friday night schooling ride...
Traveling to a new show facility is always stressful, especially one over 4 hours away. With this being the first time I've driven a trailer since our accident in December, it was an extra stressful trip. Thankfully, I did not have to do it alone. My husband managed an early schedule at the hospital, and headed home early on Friday to join us.

We loaded up the truck and my BO's small 2-horse Brenderup trailer for the trip. Pig loaded up fairly well, balking some at the narrowness of the trailer and the way the ramp was slightly slick with rain. He traveled well, for him, all weekend. He has never been a good traveler, sweating and shaking like a small dog in a purse the whole time he is in a trailer. I'm sure the accident did not help his mental state in the slightest.

Having never pulled a Brenderup, I was totally intrigued by them. The brakes are kind of ingenious, slowing the trailer on steep hills and balancing it out behind you. However, the light weight of the thing is obnoxious when your horse shakes. It makes the trailer feel unsteady behind the truck, which just about gave me a heart attack. After about 2 and a half hours of solid driving, I realized I hadn't let go of the wheel at all with my left hand. Talk about white-knuckling it!

Despite all the traveling nerves, we arrived at the show facility without incident and with plenty of daylight. Unfortunately, the facility was completely abandoned. One boarder was heading to her car as we pulled up. She briefly showed me the show ring and the main barn, then had to head out. Perturbed, we drove around the facility looking for our stall. Nothing.

Finally, after wandering through three barns, I found a number labeled "after hours horse show#" on a piece of paper buried in a stack. I called it, and 10 minutes later finally had the show secretary on the phone. She told me where my stall was located (small show = free stall upgrade!), and where I could ride that evening. We immediately settled in to unpacking and getting to riding.
This horse will go anywhere I point him. This facility really drove home how thankful I am for that.
Pig was a star under saddle. The arena was shadowy and spooky, and filled with loudly nesting birds, but he kept himself together and listened to me pretty well. I could tell he was tired, but I wanted him to move his legs some. We schooled for all of 30 minutes, running through the basics of 1st and 2nd. If I had known that ride would be the nicest we had all weekend, I might've enjoyed it a little more!

As you can see in the video, Pig wasn't entirely through. We didn't have much of a half halt, and he was reluctant to come into my rein. Probably if I'd shortened my reins and been less stiff myself we would have had a better ride. Still, he was pushing nicely from behind. I can't complain too much.
That dark hallway is the entrance to the show arena, which was closed on Friday night. The first time we got to see the show ring was as we entered for our first test.
We settled Pig in his stall, where he was happy to get to work on some hay. Once everything was squared away at the barn, we headed up to a friend's place for the night. Showing in a city where you used to live has the advantage of giving you time to catch up with old friends. Needless to say, not a lot of sleep was had...

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Recap Reschedule

In true Austen style, I have come back from a lovely horse showing weekend to a scheduling explosion. Unfortunately for all of you, I have chosen my sleep schedule over blogging (I know! How dare I!). There's a show update coming soon, but until then... MEDIA!
So much satin!
This shoulder-in? Ballin'
Leg yield for da gold!
Stretchy trot with some actual stretch? Miracles.
I strongly believe horses should have floppy ears. Discuss...

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Post injection

"Let's RIDE!"
Monday I struggled my sick self into the saddle to take Pig's newly lubricated joint for a test drive. While my lungs weren't up for any kind of difficult ride, I still pointed us towards the deeper and more uneven footing of the outdoor ring. I figured I would test things out there, and if a problem still showed up, we'd head indoors. There's no use fighting, especially not a week before I show.

It turns out, we must have nailed the diagnosis. Pig started off with a big swinging walk, relaxing his whole top line and really stepping through into my rein. His canter warm up was much the same. He was slightly resistant to the right,  but actually worked out of it quickly -- making me think the pain issue isn't as much of a problem.

We moved on to the trot work, and then ran through some parts of the 2-2 test we'll be showing over the weekend. Perfection
Gif from last October. Still, our shoulder-ins can be fantastic.
We ended with a little half pass at the canter and trot, just to solidify my feel for the outside shoulder control. Plus, Pig just thinks those are fun! We ended the quick ride with smiles and happy ears... then took the dogs for a walk down the road.
A pretty day and a pretty horse. Don't mind if I do!
The best part for Pig was probably getting turned back out in the field on Monday. Staying in a stall isn't something he's used to doing when he's home. While he remains a perfect gentlemen in stalls at shows or while traveling, he's kind of a nightmare the first day stalled at home. He wants out with his buddies!
"Lemme out, Lady!"
Of course, being deathly ill has not helped me get ready for the show. I spent most of the weekend on the couch sleeping and catching up watching TV. I'm feeling pretty nervous about getting all my things together for the weekend. Still, there's a Dover down the road from the show grounds, so I guess if I forget something, I can always pick it up there!

At least I'm feeling confident in my horse, myself, and our training. We got this. (KNOCK ON ALL THE WOOD!)
"Bring it on!"