Tuesday, April 12, 2016

VADA/NOVA Spring: Part 1, The Overview

Everything about this show was a comedy of errors, except the actual riding. Because of this, I'm going to split up my overview into two days. Today, the horse management choices, questionable choices, and basic test overview (including score spoilers). Tomorrow, a detailed test breakdown. Sometime in the future? Pro photos. Ya'll ready for this?
The Happiest Horse Show Hony
If you live anywhere between the midwest and the eastern seaboard, you are aware that last weekend's weather was the absolute pits. With my friends in Indiana blowing up my Facebook feed with photos of blizzard-like conditions, I found myself obsessively checking the weather on Friday. Finally, I called it-- we were going to trailer in Friday night. After our accident, I just can't bring myself to trailer in a possible snowstorm.

This leery behavior felt very justified, as I was borrowing a friends large trailer and planning to haul with my old (rapidly declining) truck. After all, there's just something not very confidence boosting about hauling to a new place with this set up:
Albert G Truckasaurus says: "Wtf have you been feeding this horse? Bricks?!"
As you can see, the trailer very nearly maxed out the truck's towing capacity. That said, this truck is a total beast (the engine is seriously powerful). I wasn't worried about being able to get UP the Maryland foothills along the back roads leading to Morven Park, but I was worried about getting down them. Having a trailer longer (and heavier?) than your truck is extremely disconcerting when hauling down a hill.

My plan worked out, though. I stuck to speeds at which I was comfortable steering/stopping, and tuned out the annoyed drivers behind me. Sorry, not sorry, everyone in Western Maryland/VA! My friend's trailer is actually a dreamboat to haul. I did find myself happy about it's considerable weight on the way home, when we had to cross the bridge over the Potomac during a wind advisory with 40+mph gusts. The trailer didn't even slightly waver in the wind. Put that sucker on my wish list! (Along with a bigger truck...)

Hauling in at night meant we were a bit pressed for time. I had pushed some of my show prep off to Friday night, assuming I would have more time. Instead, I found myself frantically cleaning tack and my horse along with packing the trailer. That meant we arrived at Morven in the darkness of 9:30 at night. Whoops.
9:30 at night and with the temperature rapidly plummeting. 
Thankfully, Pig knew the routine. Though soaked through with nervous sweat (as per the usual), he unloaded like a pro and settled into the stall immediately. He sniffed at his neighbors, took a pee in the fresh shavings, checked all the corners of the stall, and settled into his hay. Once he was dry, I tossed on his medium blanket, left him a pile of soaked alfalfa cubes, and closed him in for the night. 

The next day dawned... miserable. The weather called for a mix of rain, sleet, snow, and hail along with heavy cloud cover and strong winds. The high temperature was supposed to be 46, but I don't think it was above 38 for most of the day. The wind was the worst, making it feel much colder than the actual temperature.
38 and windy is good husky weather, but terrible horse show weather!
Thankfully, neither Pig nor I mind cold weather too much. As long as I keep him from getting chilled, Pig works just the same no matter the temperature. To avoid chilling, I kept him in his fleece cooler all day. We also took copious breaks to get out of the stall and graze or jog around.

No. Really. Literally jog. See the field behind my husband and dogs? Yeah. I jogged my horse in-hand around that field to keep him warm. Sure, most people lunge their horse at a show. But if your horse is old, broken, and also terrible on the lunge line? You take him for a run.
"My mother is a crazy person."
The many breaks seemed to keep Pig in a cheerful mood, too. At shows he can get cranky and anti-social. Getting out of his stall so much seemed to help him stay in a happier place mentally, which I am sure carried over into our rides. I'm keeping that little bit of experience in my pocket for later shows.

Still, it was cold. My ride times were 9:08a and 2:04p, which meant a lot of downtime. When I wasn't riding or getting Pig out to stretch his legs, I was huddled in my car stuffing my face with candy and hot tea.
My favorite part of this photo? You can see my horse hanging his head out of his stall through the windshield, and my truck in the side mirror. Family cameos!
For the first ride, preparation was a rush. I rode 3-2 first, which was thankfully already in my mind from March's schooling show. Still, I asked my husband to help me run through my test while I hurriedly braided Pig and tacked him up.
Don't lie. You think my braids are sexy, if frizzy. Please ignore the moth-eaten clip job.
When I hopped on to ride down to the rings, I was buzzing with nervous energy. I tried my best to take a few deep breaths, reassuring myself that 25 minutes was actually all the time I wanted to warm up anyway. By the time we hit the ring, I had a warm up plan in mind and was feeling much more relaxed.

Pig seems to have fed off my relaxation, and our warm up was fairly low key. I found myself extremely thankful for Pig's nonchalance in new places, especially after watching many of the other horses lose their brains in the wind and electric atmosphere of the tiny warm up. The wind would blow, and at least three horses would sit on their butts and spin in circles. The weather was not nice to many pairs. In contrast, my happy red pony motored around, content as could be. 

My plan was to focus on relaxation and suppleness. I wanted to be sure I could go in the ring and change from shoulder-in to renver without a massive temper tantrum. I also wanted Pig relaxed in my hand, knowing he would have to be trusting enough to come back to my hand after his changes to make some of the faster turns. We did school two changes, the first of which was super late behind. I made a point to praise him for trying, then held him together more and asked again. The second was clean. We headed in the ring.

My relaxation work paid off, unfortunately we weren't as full of "go" as the judge wanted. We left 3-2 with a 57.4%.

The second warm up went much the same as the first, only I asked for a few more changes and put on a bit more pressure. I wanted to see if we could improve our score some. I wasn't expecting a huge jump, but I figured it was a good to day experiment with pressure. If the wheels fell off, we could always blame the weather right?

Funny story... A little added pressure must have resulted in me riding better. For 3-1 we nailed all the nitpicky details and walked out with an astounding 62.4%, and my first score towards our bronze! I am so excited to share the tests and video with you guys tomorrow!!
Hugs all around!
My 3-1 class took forever to finish up and be ready to pick up, though my score was posted almost immediately via FoxVillage. So while I excitedly waited to pick up my test, we packed up everything except the horse. I wrapped Pig with feel-good things, left him munching hay in his stall, and the whole family wandered off to go shopping. While the husband shopped for hamburgers, I headed into the VTO Saddlery tent in a post bronze medal score daze... and bought all the practical items. Haha!
Reins and a whip. Look out world. I'm wild.
My dressage whip is totally falling apart after 6 years: the lash is completely gone and the cloth has frayed back 3 inches from the tip. Pig has been making it clear for some time that he doesn't appreciate getting whacked with the bare plastic end, so I figured it was time to upgrade. I had a 10% off coupon from the show office, but it seemed silly to use it on an affordably priced whip. Then, I noticed the Nunn Finer Soft Grip reins (which never go on sale) hanging in the tent, and I pulled the trigger. The thick rubber reins on my snaffle bridle are completely worn through in a few spots, so it was time. Right? 

#justifyingpracticalpresents #notatackho

Anyway, after picking up my test it was time to get on the road back home. With the nasty cold wind (it was snowing sideways when we pulled out, though not sticking at all), I decided to keep on Pig's cooler, even though I knew he would just sweat through it on the ride. (Note: He did) I also threw on his trusty old shipping boots, thus creating the WORLD'S MOST HORRIFYING COLOR COORDINATION CLASH IN HISTORY.

Note:
We basically exist as an embarrassment to the classical beauty of dressage. 
I'll be honest. I really only wrote this post just so I could share that photograph and burn all of your retinas with the horror. You're welcome! Best of luck flushing that hideousness out of your memory! #atleastmycoatmatches

Tomorrow: Detailed test recap, and less horrifying color catastrophes.

36 comments:

  1. ahahhahaha what a great story! lovely braids, lovely rides obviously! and I will follow your example and put on a little more pressure to hold Hafl together for the changes - works at home as well but at the show you FEEL that you have to ride without doing anything (WHY?!)... good read!

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    1. Haha, I don't know! It's awful, though! Sometimes I put in such a thinking ride in the warm up, then get to the ring and my brain just leaves my body. Hard to blame my horse when I suddenly stop riding him like I usually do! Ack!

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  2. I love that last picture! Weather aside it sounds like an awesome weekend.

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  3. Hahahaha, on the last picture. It's a horse show, that kind of thing is allowed. AND YAY FOR ONLY ONE MORE BRONZE SCORE LEFT!!!!!!!

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  4. That last picture is gold!! So excited about your scores, about Pig's brain staying installed, everything! SO MUCH HAPPY! :D

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    1. Keeping him so willing and happy through my rides absolutely was everything!

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  5. that last picture is AWESOME. Congrats on such a successful show! Looks like you've got some tips and tricks for the next one but what I really liked was how you had time and energy to refocus after your first test. I know it's not easy and instead of letting the horrible weather conditions (I was down in Lexington this weekend and Saturday was MISERABLE - my face is so windburnt) dictate how your rides would go, you really took charge and owned your tests. I don't know if that makes sense but it really was cool to read about this.

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    1. I hadn't even considered that, but I did put a lot of thought into what could be changed for my second ride. Hmmm...

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  6. Oh man, major props to you for hauling and showing in the horrendous weather this past weekend! I hid inside my house and pretended it wasn't happening. No really, I wouldn't even open my curtains.

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    1. Lol! There were a ton of scratches all day, so I assume a lot of people were right there with you! Sadly, I'm too cheap to scratch just because of weather. After all, I'd have just been riding in it up at the farm anyway. Ha!

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  7. Dude, those braids!!!!!! So sexy! I love those Nunn Finer reins and swear by them. That's some awesome horse show swag! Riley is dealing with the same moth eaten look currently, we're showing this weekend so he's gonna need a shave of some sort to look less neglected:) Can't wait to hear more about the show!

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    1. Haha, you have more pride than me. I just hoped the long haired spots looked like dapples from far away. ;)

      This is the first clip I've ever done that looked better right after I did it. Unfortunately, some of Pig's minor scrapes seem to have grown in a full winter coat since then. Sigh.

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  8. Miserable weather at shows really is the worst, but I'm loving that outfit! #allthecolors

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  9. Can't wait to read your next post! I'm so impressed at Pig's good boy behavior in all that wind. Mine would not have been so chill.

    Last year you said you were thinking of doing a tutorial on how you do your braids. Fuzziness aside I actually LOVE how yours come out - can you teach us your ways??

    A spit warning would have been appreciated prior to that last photo. I'm still laughing.

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    1. Maybe I can find someone to help video while I braid this weekend, then I can absolutely get a tutorial up!

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    2. Yes, tutorial please!

      And those are my favorite reins! Definitely a good purchase 😄

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  10. Congrads on your fantastic score in epically craptastic weather. Just one more to go!

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  11. This is a great story! Congrats on a great test!

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  12. Yay a score!!!! Congrats! Can't wait to hear all the details tomorrow. Also psh you guys are fabulous even with the color clashing.

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  13. Congrats on your bronze score!!! I can't wait to hear the nitty gritty details of the tests.

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  14. hahahaha! Hampton has those same shipping boots! He hates them. Congrats again on the score!!!!

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    1. Pig hates all shipping boots. He also hates shipping. I think the boot hatred might come from the shipping hatred. ;)

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  15. What is even happening in that last picture?! So painful! :P Hell fucking yes to the Bronze score though!!!!

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  16. Awesome stuff!! Sounds like a successful day despite the weather :)

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  17. Sounds like an awesome show - glad you guys did well despite the crazy weather!

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  18. Congrats on the score! I have a smaller hawk trailer and love it; they make good stuff there.

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    1. I will 100% be keeping that brand in mind for later!

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  19. Congrats on your bronze score!! :) Also, I love Pig's brownband. So classy.

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  20. LOL are you wearing scrubs! I'm so glad the show went well for you, all of it, trailering in bad weather, the candy and tea, getting new stufffffff. :P

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  21. I <3 that last pic! Oh and bronze scores - I <3 those too !!

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  22. Hell yeah. Cognrats to you both. And with outfits like those you should become endurance riders lol

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  23. I love the coordinated colour clash ☺☺☺

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