Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chalking it up

Where to begin? At the beginning of course, but that would take too long, so we'll just start with Friday.

Cindy and I drove up to Erie to walk the XC course. I wasn't worried about any of them (well thats a lie, I was worried about fence 8, the green flower box, but it was entirely my worry-it just freaks me out) I walked the course, had a plan and told myself how I was going to gallop every fence and use my legs and whip and rock it. Same thing with Stadium, Stadium had a few oddly set fences, but we had a plan and again, it involved galloping FORWARD!

On Saturday, Cindy and I rolled out of the barn at 6:00 AM, with one very handsome chestnut Thoroughbred tucked in the trailer. The farrier cut Banff a bit too short and Cindy made the decision to not risk him on the hard ground at Erie and blow her entire season. They'll be up and running for South Farm so no worries there :) My dressage was at 8:40. We arrive and are right on time as far as getting ready and warmed up. Bastian feels great and we put in a very solid test, I thought the judge was a bit picky, but I'm also of course biased (lol). We came away with a 33 and were sitting in third place.

Unfortunately for me, that was the easy part. I'm totally backwards for eventing because dressage is my strongest My stadium time was at 1:12, I was exhausted so I took an awesome nap for about 2 hours-I was out. I decided I needed to be on at 12:30, I wasn't sure how to plan my stadium warm-up. Lots of factors going on, what if the warm up was crazy and I couldn't find my own space (Bastian has a thing about horses coming towards him that we haven't completely addressed yet, thank you dumb friesan at Regionals...grrrr). What if I couldn't get him forward enough? What if..... so I decided that more time was better. I didn't need it. We came to the warm up and I had him awesome, forward and kicking those fence's asses. Now we had about 30 minutes to wait until I actually went in...lesson learned, shorter warm up time, I go into the warm up with my game face on and get it done, I can't worry about all the other stuff. There is no other option but to DO IT. We started out okay, then lost it for fence 2, fence 3 was okay, four was horrible, lucky for me taking out the whole fence still only counts as one "rail." Then it was the moment of truth. I got my shit together and rode the rest of the course.

This was a big thing for me and thank you Kristin for bringing it to my attention in my lesson on Friday. I ride one fence and then I stop. I get so elated by the fact that I got over it and (hopefully) rode mostly well that I just let B stop. Which is or isn't good for schooling, but at a show over a course will not work. I have a crappy fence and I shut down and don't realize that the rest could be okay. But I have to ride and keep riding, one crappy fence doesn't mean the rest have to be crappy. So I manned up and I got us over fence 5 and took much more control over the rest of the course. See for yourself. Better than Buckeye CT and lots of room for us to improve-but at least there is improvement (and I think we looked super cute at least with the grey jacket and his little braids....)

So we had a rail, but no time penalties so we bumped our score up to 37, but managed to stay in 3rd place, a lot of people were having rails.

XC was scheduled just 1 hour later, at 2:12, so back to trailer where Cindy took care of my awesome little Luck Dragon and I drank some more brandy and got myself dressed for XC.

What to say about XC, fence one was iffy, but we got over it and took fence two for granted, we lost our pace way far out, fence three I was lucky he went over, same for four, the bank, then we had another stop at five, this one was a bit dirty, but after four iffy fences, he thought he had figured out what was going on, he's a quick learner and while he LOVES jumping, he really does need my help and when I don't do my job I can't say I blame him for being a bit naughty. But at this point I said enough, I whapped him good and we got over it on the second try and the next five fences were awesome. I galloped him and focused him and myself and he didn't bat an eye. I'm really hoping that the photographer was at the green flower stand, because that was our fence. I GALLOPED him up to it. As in I had two outcomes for this fence in my mind, one he was going to slam on the brakes and I would take the fence independently of Bastian and two he was going to take it like an old pro. I was seriously afraid of how fast we were going, but it was our best fence. This was the pace I need. This is what I have to learn. Through the water, over the stone wall (another pretty good fence) then over the log. Then a long gallop to the ditch. I was tired, but we kept going. We trotted the ditch, which he peeked at, but jumped. Then over another little log where I lost my stirrup and had to stop and it took me a good 20 seconds to get my stirrup back-more time faults) then galloped on to my last fence, didn't have enough pace, but had enough to get over and we were done.

My initial reaction was a mixture of about to be sick and pissed off. The stops were my fault, I hadn't done enough, I made mistakes that should never have happened, dumb simple mistakes that I know better than to make. I have got to get my mind in the game.

Here is the link to my XC video:

Upon further reflection I don't feel as pissed off, am I still disappointed in myself, yes. Thats me. I don't accept those mistakes in myself and the only option in my world is perfection (see the dressage diva coming out!!!) But looking at the facts, we did alright. I have not evented in 5 years. My last two events I was eliminated in dressage both times. Bastian has been to one event prior to this, Winona HT, everything at Winona was much quieter and low key. LHPC was the first time we actually galloped a course (and I use the term gallop loosely!), at Winona we trotted the whole thing. There were hardly any people on the course, at LHPC, there were people and chairs and tents and ambulances and OMG all sorts of things for Bastian to look at and look he did, his attention was everywhere for those first five fences until I got us together. We finished the course and believe you me, there were several times when the idea of retiring popped into my head, but I overruled it. I said no, you are here and you are not stopping just because you are a wimp, if you have a good reason, then stop, but you don't so you had better keep going. And go we did.

I need to be more fit. I was tired and having trouble keeping up my end of the bargain in riding Bastian, he on the other hand was super fit and could have gone out a second time! The fitness thing is frustrating for me because I have to do everything twice as much as a normal person to get even a normal fitness level. Please don't think I'm whining or pulling a oh poor me moment, but you know what, it sucks. So somewhere in my schedule I need to find time to walk more and fit in the SITS DVDs that I have (which are awesome, its just a consistency problem for me- I know, shut up with the whining and just do it....). Another option might be only doing events where its divided up over two days, doing all three phases in one day might just be too much for me. Some food for thought for sure.

We ended up in 11th place out of 15 starters with a penalty score of 94.2 :( Yikes! But we finished and all in all it gave me a lot of good experience and I intend to learn from all of it.

South Farm HT is in two weeks, we've always had good rides at South Farm, so I'm looking forward to putting my galloping into practice and getting it done. Wish us luck!

I leave it with a quote from the one and only Augustus McCrae:

Old Codger: Augustus McCrae, you won't walk 40 miles on that busted leg.

Gus: I might fool you.

Augustus McCrae, you are one of my heros and despite the obstacles that keep being thrown in my path, I hope to fool everyone too. :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Of Spiders and Novel Ideas

Okay, so I tried to ride the other day after not seeing my horse for 10 days. I was also having a horrible three weeks day. There is some stuff going on at work which I am not happy with, its really rocking my world and then on top of that, my financial situation hit what might be considered rock bottom. Basically I was relying on my horse to be the bright beacon of hope in the dark dark tunnel that was my current life. It is after all, his fault that I am in this position, if he weren't such a free-loading mooch and actually paid for his own upkeep....... but I digress :P

So our ride started out innocuously enough, I had him moving forward and then balancing back, forward and back, forward and back and he was really responding. Super. So we tackle the X-rail and we kick its ass! Then I put it up to a low vertical, like 2'1" and we proceed to rock it, he's actually moving forward so I decide I'm gonna put it up and tackle BN height just to get it out of the way and get it done. Well.....

The first time I actually rode it, but he wasn't ready for the height and he brought the rail down. The second time I took my leg off, brought my hand back and we only barely made it over, no impulsion. The next two fences were just as bad. At this point Kristin came into the arena and I got the forward lecture, which I needed and she dropped the height back down to where I had it before and she got me over the fence and for that I am very thankful. Its wonderful to know that my instructor cares enough about me to step in when I make bad decisions and I'm not even riding in a lesson..... :) Everyone should be so lucky.

So this just added to my craptastically fabulous day so it was suggested I go on a little trail ride to just decompress and get it all together not to mention end on a good note. Well, it almost worked until the end. I was almost back to the barn when I looked down at my watch to see a HUGE tarantula normal sized daddy long legs crawling on my hand. I do not like spiders, no that's and understatement, I detest spiders and in my current mood I was not able to keep my cool and deal with it. I took a rather dramatic swipe at it with my right hand which B mistook as goodness only knows what causing him to buck and take off. I only had one rein, I lost both stirrups, but thank you Kerrits Sit Tights, my butt stayed glued to the saddle. I was saying "whoa" but in a slightly panicked voice so it didn't help, he kept spinning/bucking left because that was the rein I had and eventually spun himself into a grove of trees. As in he literally slammed into three trees and a sappling that were growing together. He stopped, I panicked again wondering if he was impaled somehow but then he realized that he was surrounded by leaves and started to eat the trees so I figured he was okay. He ended up with a little scrape on his nose and I ended with some scratches on my arms, a scratch under my eye and a swollen upper lip. Yeah, great trail ride.

As we walk back to the barn I start contemplating other sports that I might be better, ping pong, curling....

The day ended with some much needed friend therapy and delicious sangrias. I slept quite well. :)

Fast ride was awesome! I started out the same way pushing him forward, balancing him back, we actually had a pretty nice lengthening on one of our diagonals at one point. So things were just so-so I wasn't getting him forward enough, I had the vertical at a nice comfy 2'1" again. Then we were coming in and I really have no idea if my leg was on or not, I am thinking its on, but he's not doing anything so it probably wasn't and I did perhaps the most logical thing ever. Seriously, are you ready for my solution to this problem of not enough impulsion to the fence? I used my whip. Yup, that beautiful custom jockey bat that I have in yellow and navy that I diligently carry with me every time I jump. I actually let go of the reins with my left hand and tapped him behind my leg and he said, oh you want me to move up? Okay and we hit our spot. Damn. I mean really, who would have ever thought?

So I'm pretty satisfied and I want to say that again, I was not riding in a lesson, although Kristin was teaching my friend Gwen. I'm ready to call it quits and I come around the corner and see the jump again and someone mysteriously put the rail back up to the height I had been trying to jump yesterday. Hmmmmm, I wonder how that happened? I have learned that it is pointless to argue with your trainer. They know best. Period. I pay this woman to make decisions about me and my horse, if I don't trust her, then why the hell am I paying her? So I say nothing, aside from asking Gwen if I can take that jump just one time before she canters, to which I get an enthusiastic "yes." Lol So I get my canter and we turn towards the jump and I feel us starting to suck back and again I employ the "whip trick" and guess what, he moves up, soars over it and it is lovely. Kristin says nice job, but I still need a bit more. My response. "I was really just concentrating on the whole one handed jumping not dying thing, but okay, I'll work on it."

Long story short (too late!) this ride was soooooo much better! We ended with a five minute gallop on the outdoor working on my two point and keeping up that rolling galloping that I will need XC. After I got him put away I made it back into the arena to measure the fence because I wanted to know what I jumped and was hoping it was something kinda insane so I would feel really good about was 2'9"! Woot. The rail was already down, so I measured to the bottom of the jump cup and that was 2'8". I have to say that I was pretty proud of myself. I only have to jump 2'6 for BN.

So hopefully I can remember my little trick and actually utilize my whip instead of just holding onto it like a fashion accessory. This weekend is the WPDA and Grand Haven Dressage Shows, B and I aren't showing, but a lot of others from the team are, we have 15 rides everyday between everyone. So good luck to everyone, I'll be running the barn and keeping everyone tacked up and ready to go on Saturday and Sunday, I take my grooming job pretty seriously. If you are out at Grand Haven stop by the main barn and see us!

Also of note, my friend Jessica is competing at Bromont this weekend in the CCI***, She's currently sitting in 9th place. Go Jess and Bug, Bastian and I are totally cheering you on! Rock it on the XC course!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Drifting Right.......

Well, I haven't seen my handsome boy for a full week now and I still have two more days before I finally make it out to the barn. The school year is almost over, my summer vacation is so close I can taste it. while I spent the past week pulling 12 hours days and stressing out over work and finances, I finally to do some fun horsey type things over the weekend. Everything is right on par. LOL

This past weekend, I was supposed to take B to Erie for their Combined Test, financially I wasn't able to make it happen, but I still went because Kristin was judging the dressage on Saturday and Sunday and I was planning on scribing for her. It was a blast, the weather was less then super and I have to say if you are going to a show where its cold and rainy, then being the judge's scribe, warm and toasty in the car, is the place to be.

The Doodle loved the breeze in Kristin's car on the ride home, she was sooooo happy!

Being a scribe was very educational. Sitting at C and seeing the test from the judge's perspective is so different. Once I got familiar with the tests I was able to snatch looks at pieces of everybody's rides to see what a 6, 7, or 5 might look like. If you have not ever volunteered and scribed, I highly recommend doing it. I have to admit that after nearly 8 hours of scribing on Saturday and another 8 hours on Sun, I was a little fried. There were a couple times I spaced out and Kristin was like, "Are you okay?" I of course said, yeah, I'm fine. To which she said, you haven't written down the last two scores..... and then I was putting comments where the scores went and scores in the comments sections. So I don't recommend doing that many hours of scribing, maybe 4? That way you still stay

On Saturday after we got done, we headed out to Presque Isle Downs for dinner and racing. I bet on a horse named "Lucky Dragon" in the 7th race, I figured it was fate. However he came in 6th. For a while he was in 2nd, but he faded in the backstretch. Oh well, all I lost was $2. Hopefully I'll be luckier next time! LOL

This coming week, aside from getting to finally ride B, we're headed to Grand Haven Stables for the recognized Dressage Show and I get to play Barn Manager/Head Groom :) I'm very excited aside from the fact that Bastian is staying home (again) I keep trying to show at the WPDA/Grand Haven June show, but it never seems to work out...hopefully next year??? But getting to Groom for everybody is fun and Grand Haven is quite a nice facility, I have no doubts that our crew is going to kick ass.

Then after Grand Haven its just one week until the LHPC HT. I'm offically doing BN! Buckeye was successful, so I should be okay :) Stadium is first so I figure if I have any major stadium problems I can pull out before XC, but I don't foresee any problems, I am going to keep my leg on and keep him forward. He will jump everything, he's a super star. We're gonna fit in a XC schooling day from the event too. I'm excited about it!

And just in case I doubt it, check out this awesome picture of us over our last fence at Winona:

I'm pretty sure Bastian can handle the additional 6" that make it