Thursday, August 29, 2013

2013 Family Fun Day at Scarborough Downs

On August 11, 2013, Snappy and I headed to Scarborough Downs for a day of marshaling the races.  It was her first time back to the track since she retired in December of 2012.  I knew she would be a little nervous and "up", but I also knew that she is a good level-headed mare and we would have a great time.

Snappy spent the week mulling over her wardrobe selection.  In the end, she chose her racing colors...  ;-)

When we first arrived, she was jumping out of her skin a little.  She was a bit antsy while tacking her up, but I was just super no nonsense and got into the saddle as quickly as I could.  I took her immediately out onto the track and we jogged around the outside back mile track to get her mind on straight.  She was super looky and forgot most of her good dressage basics, but that is OK.  

The funny thing about taking a Standardbred back to track, at least in my opinion and experience, is that they are usually "confused" about what they are expected to do.  They are used to a specific routine, which does NOT include being tacked up near the grandstand (they are harnessed in the paddocks), being ridden (they are driven in races!), or leading the post parade but NOT actually racing.  So this confusion leads to nervousness.  I am not really a nervous rider, so I am able to give the horse confidence and support.  Instead of going OMGIMGOINGTODIE and ripping my horse's face off, I just stay soft but firm.  OK, horse, you don't have to go in a nice dressage frame, but you do have to go in the speed that *I* set.  OK, horse, you don't have to stand as still as a statue (since your adrenaline is pumping and you think you are about to race) but you can stand for a second and wait for ME to ask you to move.  I found with Dreamy that she would "lose" her halt for the first three or four races and instead of fighting her, I would ask for the halt, and cue my aids to make her move when *I* said so.  If she would not stand, I would make her work (move off/yield sideways from my leg, make a small circle or figure eight, etc).  Then I would ask for the halt again...if she couldn't halt again...we went back to working.  And so on, and so on, and so on.......until finally she literally just sighed and gave up.  LOL!

Most of these pics were taken by my friend Deb unless otherwise noted.  She took great pics and it was wonderful to see her!

Giving Snap a good girl pat.  She was sooooo good!

She was pretty excited to be in the post parade and did NOT want to leave the horses when they assembled behind the gate!

taken from the roof by Pam Gauthier 
Her fans.  LOL!  She LOVED standing on the fence by the apron and visiting!  She was super sweet with everyone who wanted to pet her.  I was pleasantly surprised by this!

She thought Whinny the mascot was pretty stupid.  LOL!  
Snappy: "Whinny, you're dumb.  You are not even REAL."

Posing with my friend Katie and her horse CC Bag A Luck, who stood in a pen on the apron for meet and greet with fans
Ahhh, so cute!  Photo taken by Susan Higgins
Created by Susan Higgins and posted the the track's FB page after the event!
What a great day!  The weather was gorgeous, though a little hot, and we had such a good time!  Snappy was just perfect for her first time back to the track!  She was definitely a little confused and wanted to follow the post parade out to the left to stay on the track for each race, but thankfully she is a good listener.  She was probably thinking I was pretty dumb for not understanding what was "supposed" to happen in her eyes.  Hahaha!  I can't wait to go back!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Showing Sidesaddle - We finally tried it!

As you probably know if you are a regular reader, I have been playing around with sidesaddle for a while.  I have no real idea what I am doing (haha), but I have a friend in NJ named Tracy who has been a huge help and mentor.  I had big plans to show sidesaddle at the end of July at a little local D rated show close to my house.  Unfortunately, my son got sick that Sunday and I ended up bringing him to the doctor that morning instead.  :-(  Thankfully he is fine!  I was admittedly a little bummed, but obviously it is more important that my son is ok.  

So, instead of a pleasure show as our first outing, I decided to try a dressage test at the same venue but put on by the local dressage club instead.  The show was on August 4.  I choose to just do Training 3, even though we have shown First level.  For one, I did not think we could pull off the extended trot and canter required in First 1 while attempting to go sidesaddle.  ;-P  Plus, I just wanted a good experience, so why overface myself?  I only did Training 3, as I did not want to drop down to Training 2 as well, so opted to just do the one test.

While I have the correct tack, I do not have a proper sidesaddle habit yet.  Nothing that I have seen is in my size, and if it might fit, it is totally out of my budget.  Technically, everything is out of my budget right now, so I figured I would save up this winter and find something for next year.  I was overwhelmed when Tracy offered to let me borrow her brown tweed habit!!  It is a little too big, as she is taller than me, but it is fine for now.  It actually looks good with Dreamy too.  I would eventually like to have a navy habit, do to both dressage and pleasure shows.

So, off we went.  I bathed and braided that morning, since my time was 2:07.  I had run through all the movements of the test and I thought we were a-ok.  I forgot Training level tests are in the small ring (ouch), so in hindsight I wish I had cornered off the correct area of the 100x200 ring that I ride in, but oh well.  Those letters came up fast!!!  LOL!  And for someone still learning what the hell I am doing sitting sideways, I made some mistakes that I do not normally make when riding astride.  Ah well.  My only goals for the show were to stay on, stay in the ring, and break 60%.

Somehow, we met all of my goals!  LOL!  ;-)

It was hot enough that I was not looking forward to putting on a wool jacket AND apron.  Blah.  Dreamy warmed up just fine.  Thankfully she has been very accommodating to her strange rider.  All mistakes were my own.  We did get some funny looks from, well, everyone.  LOL!  A few of my riding friends were there and thought the entire thing was very cool, so that was fun.  My friend Tania stayed after her Intro C and Training 1 tests were over (which she won!  WHOOO!)  in order to give me a hand (who knew arranging an apron was so hard??) and to take a few pics on my iPhone.  

The scribe is a young lady from the area, and I saw her just a few days after our show.   She admitted that the judge was very concerned that riding sidesaddle was illegal and spent time flipping through her rulebook before she rang the bell for me to begin my test.  (This ranks up there with being told I am "not allowed" to do hunt seat classes - only the open pleasure classes - because it is illegal.  Ummm....NO, IT IS NOT!!!  Urggggg!!!)  Now that I know that, I understand why it took SO LONG for her to ring the bell!  Ha ha ha!  I trotted around and around and around and had to take a walk break because of the heat and the fact that I am still not completely "fit" when sitting the trot in a sidesaddle for extended amounts of time!  Oh judge.  I can understand though, since sidesaddle is pretty much unheard of here in Maine, and I am told I am the only person in the club's 25 year history who has shown sidesaddle.  Well, ok then.

I watch the video and cringe.  It is not our best test by far.  But in the spirit of full disclosure, here it is.  I am still proud of our effort and hope to see improvement as we go along on this journey.  I really wish there was an instructor close by!!

Dressage Sidesaddle Showing Debut from Elizabeth Tewksbury on Vimeo.

We ended up placing fourth with a 61.2%.  I think I received my most favorite comment of all time: Beautiful horse and brave (underlined) rider!  LOL!!!!

Several people stood at the rail to watch our test, and most of the folks at their trailers were watching.  I was not really nervous about getting a score for a year end award or anything like that.  I just did not want to make a fool of myself.  Haha!  I want people to see it and think, hey, that's cool.  She did a good job.  At the end of our test, so many people clapped!  LOL!  I felt good about the experience and just sent my entry today for the September show!  :-)

Before our test!

That's my dad watching on the rail.  :-)


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Acadia National Park 2013

For the third year in a row, Dreamy and I traveled to Acadia National Park in Mount Desert Island, ME for a long weekend of riding the gorgeous carriage roads designed by Mr. Rockefeller.  We went up July 11-14 with our friends Shelly, Tania, Lydia, and Tania's dad Craig.  It was Tania and Lydia's first time riding in Acadia, and we were excited to show them around!  It was a wonderful time and I will just sum it up in LOTS of pics!  

Headed out!

That is Dreamy in the foreground.  Otis (the sorrel) rode with his tail caught on the window the entire time.  D'oh!

First ride!  

Not many pics of me, but there we are on the far left!  ;-)

Jordan Pond!  Love this view!

Tania and her dad

The Bubbles!  My favorite pond!

Such cool colors!

Second ride - Sunset ride to the summit of Day Mountain

On the buckle - such a good trail horse!

Trying to get pics behind me...hahaha!

I'm such a dork.

Our group!

Lydia and I climbed the rock!

Yes, I think we were singing.  HAHA

Hard to get a pic while moving, but I love our headlamps.

Getting dark!!

Gotta love the ears!
Third ride down to Jordan Stream!

Took a non-horsey outing to Bar Harbor for lunch and gift shops!  We stopped at Thunder Hole.
Love my state!! 

Fourth ride!  No one else wanted to take a last sunset ride up Day Mountain, so Dreamy and I went up alone!  I have ridden this trail now five times and feel really comfortable.

Do you see what we saw?????  (Not the equipment...haha)
Dreamy was so interested!  She was not at all scared!!
The doe was not afraid of us either!  We stood there and watched her for quite a while!  It was completely surreal! 

We reached the summit and stood at the very top!

So gorgeous and awesome I wanted to cry!

Oh hey, our friend is back!  Just in a different spot!  

I took a video this time around.  I will have to post it. 
Headed back down!  What a magical ride!

Last ride!  :-(

And we are back to the stables and ready to head home!  
 I already cannot wait until our 2014 trip!!  :-)