Friday, September 30, 2016

Fun t-shirt

I follow several blogs and this morning I casually clicked on a website, Vantage Equestrian Lifestyle, which was reviewed by blogger The $900 Facebook Pony.  She reviewed a cute eventing t-shirt, which I fully expected to be pricey (it is, at $29).  I clicked around a little, seeing a link for Breeds.  I was floored to see "Raise Your Standards" and thought there is NO WAY they have Standardbred apparel!  Lo and behold, they DO!!

OK, so it is even more expensive than the cute dressage tee at $35, but GUYS IT IS A STANDARDBRED!  LOL!  Not sure I will be buying this anytime soon because $$$, but it is definitely on my wishlist now! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Esprit Equestrian Center 2-Phase III - September 25, 2016

Snappy and I competed in our third and last 2-phase of the year at Esprit Equestrian Center this past weekend.  She was fantastic and the fall weather was gorgeous, so it was a great day!  I went alone, so there are no pics or video (sad face), but rest assured she was adorable as always and I wore my new Horseware Competition Jacket in blue for stadium (that I saved for all spring and summer LOL), so we looked fab haha.

Again, there were just three riders in our division.  I admit I was really hoping for a first place, but always a bridesmaid, never a bride I guess!  ;-)  Just kidding, I am really pleased with our placing because it was our best 2-phase dressage score and calmest jumping round to date.  She warmed up fine for dressage despite the fact there were seven riders in a tiny space at once.  She has no problems being in close quarters with other horses going in every direction, which I am going to assume is from her years on the track.  She marched right into the "scary" indoor that she refused to enter back in July, so that was great.  It was super windy and the indoor makes rattle noises, but she was super good.  She really knows her job and Intro B is becoming easy for her.  For some reason, I continually overshoot the centerline on our final salute, so that is something I need to work on at home.  I need to actually measure out a 10m. turn instead of just guessing when I ride at home.

We were the second to last rider in dressage, so just as I was finished untacking her, the jumping started.  We hung out for about a half hour at the trailer before I tacked her up for stadium.  I love the fact that I arrived at the farm at 9:30am and left at 1pm.  I am so over spending 10 hours at a horse show LOL!  She was sluggish in the warm up which was fine (glad she was calm) but she tends to get sloppy with her hind end and I did not want her to take any rails.  I hoped she wouldn't spook at the brush boxes AGAIN and I am proud she didn't.  The jumps are all the same but the course changes, so I was happy to actually she her progression in calmness.  

I think it was a good idea to do all three of these 2-phases with Snappy (they held four, but we missed the June one).  I just didn't feel she was ready for XC yet, even though I am DYING to take her to a full horse trial.  I am also hopeful that maybe we will have earned a year end award from MeCTA (the Maine Combined Training Association).  That would be pretty neat!

We have a few more shows in October before we quit for the winter.  What a great year we have had!  :-)

Yay mare!

Monday, September 26, 2016

XC Clinic - September 11, 2016

NOTE: I have been waiting to publish this post until I am sent pics, so if I do end up with pics someday, I will post them!  ;-)

Snappy and I had a GREAT time at a cross country clinic at Rest and Be Thankful Farm on September 11, 2016 with a local Preliminary rider.  I knew I needed to find a way to school her over XC jumps before we ever tried a full 3-phase and this was the perfect place to do so.

After a summer of sunshine and drought conditions, Sunday morning's sky threatened rain.  Not exactly the best weather to have a "calm" cross country schooling haha.  We arrived around 8:25 AM for our 9 AM lesson and no one else was there yet.  The wind was whipping and I was slightly worried that Snappy would be wound up between the weather and being alone.  I took my time getting my tack and cross country gear organized before I unloaded her.  By 8:45, I decided to just start getting her ready because I also did not want to be late.  I was just saddling her as the other two riders arrived.  I took my time and got her to the ring to begin a warm up at 9.  She was a little looky at the farm's three horses who had just been turned out (and were leaping about), but she was actually quite calm.  It was nice to have a quiet horse when I was honestly expecting a dragon!

The wind died down and it became humid.  It may have only been 75 degrees, but it was muggy.  We trotted around a bit and the clinician asked me about Snappy.  She mistakenly thought she was a Thoroughbred when I said she was on the track, and honestly I let her think that.  I told her I just wanted a good experience for Snappy's first time over cross country fences, and that I wanted to do as much as we could.  The other two students were young riders who boarded and rode with the clinician, so it was a pretty laid back group.  There should be photographic evidence at some point, as the parents were snapping plenty of pics and I was told they would be shared on Facebook.  

The clinician, Audrey, was great and I really liked her immediately.  She was positive, upbeat, and helpful.  For warmup, we started with just a rail on the ground at the trot and then a crossrail.  Snappy wanted to just throw her body over it because it was tiny, but Audrey encouraged me to slow my posting down to get her to the base in order to have her "sit" back and use her body over the jump.  We ended up with a much better jump and I was pleased to already see improvement.

First, we started with a small log, which Snappy had to stop and walk over LOL!  I guess I much rather have her break to a walk and carefully step over it than have her run out or freak out.  Of course, this technique won't work over larger fences haha, but I was happy that she was at least willing to try even over something that worried her.  I hesitated to really drive her over the fence with my seat, as I might if we were in a competition, because this experience was about letting her find her confidence in her own time and own way.

We trotted over the log in both directions several times until it was completely ho-hum.  We added a small rail/stump jump a few strides out, and again she broke to the walk in order to step over it the first time.  After that, she jumped both fences in a row from both directions.  So far, so good!  I could tell she was thinking and trying, which is exactly what this lesson was for!

We moved on to a rustic plank type of fence, which she hesitated at for a moment but popped over easily.  Audrey added a small stadium crossrail fence near the edge of the field, so we had to jump into the woods (light to dark) and then back out (dark to light), which she did easily.  Then we put jumps together; we jumped the crossrail into the woods, turned and came back out, and then turned left to go over the rustic plank.  I was super happy that Snappy was so calm and willing; there are times we have jumped in a field both at home and at 2-phases where she gets extremely wound up.  I wonder if it was because she was with two other horses and several people.  Regardless, I am happy because a good experience now will help in the future.  She never offered to canter and backed down from my gentle canter aids after each fence.  I was OK with that, because it kept her mind calm, but I would have liked to have tried a little canter after a fence.  Oh well!  

At this point, Snappy was completely chill and unconcerned about the entire idea of jumping things other than stadium fences haha.  Next we walked over a tiny ditch and then trotted/jumped it.  A lot of horses have problems with ditches but Snappy popped right over it without hesitation.  Granted, it wasn't huge but she did not even hesitate.  We went up and down a bank, which was also great.  The first time up she got a little stuck (as in, what do I do now?) but she quickly figured it all out (as in, how to get down haha).  I like how Audrey encouraged calm and quiet repetitions.   

We ended the lesson with playing in the water complex.  Well, I thought it would be the end, but Audrey wanted us to string together all the fences into a mini course for our end.  YES!  I was anxious to see how Snappy would act having to leave the group and jump everything "alone".  We started in the water by just walking around.  She hesitated at the edge but went right in.  Then we took turns trotting into it and out, just taking the easy entry and exits.  Audrey set up a crossrail at the edge, so we trotted into the water and jumped out.  Snappy was like UMMMMMMMM wait, what? but she did it with extra leg encouragement.  Yay mare!  I was slightly nervous about jumping INTO the water, mostly because this was NOT a place I wanted to fall (CHILLY COLD WATER FROM THE HOSE!), but she did it effortlessly.  

We waited our turn to try the course and graciously went last, as both young riders had found their own confidence instead of wanting me to go first.  They were super cute.  We did the log, stump/rail, bank, ditch (over and turn back over), crossrail into and out of the woods, plank, and then the water (trotting in and jumping out), for a total of nine fences.  I am SO proud of Snappy, because she willingly left the group and did every single fence with confidence.  (Both young riders did a great job as well, so it was a good lesson for us all.)  I could not have imagined a more perfect first XC experience for her and now I am excited to potentially return to the farm for an Ultimate 2-Phase this fall (dressage and jumping, which will be a mix of stadium and XC fences).  It will be a perfect way for us to end the year.

Friday, September 9, 2016

600th Post!

I don't have a snazzy and concise title, mostly because this post is going to be about several different things.  But it is the 600th post ever on my blog!  Whoo!

First, I realized that my videos from the August Esprit 2-Phase did not load via Blogger, so I went back and added them into Vimeo instead.  Not that anyone is super interested in seeing our baby level dressage and jumping, but now they are there.  :-)

I've seen a lot of progress recently with Miss Snappy.  It's funny how you can feel as though you have plateaued and nothing is changing, and suddenly things come together.  She is no longer having spooking fits about hacking out, which is LOVELY.  It is easy to forget she spent the first twelve years of her life either in a stall or on a perfectly groomed racetrack, so things like boulders and trees can be scary.  She is finally able to hack around on the buckle, trot a little without dying, and cross a tiny stream.  We have ventured out further than the Christmas tree farm next door, riding up and around a trail near the edges of Mt. Cutler.  So there are good sized hills but nothing too overwhelming.

I introduced her to a one stride and a bounce (during separate rides), both of which she fumbled through at first and quickly figured out.  She is not a bad jumper, she just needs experience and time.  I think once her canter is more balanced, her jump will improve even more.

Speaking of canter, that is finally starting to come together.  Still not ready for public viewing (haha), but I am now able to canter and then do Other Things afterwards without her melting down.  She CAN canter and she will pick up the correct lead easily enough, but anything after we have cantered was a nightmare.  It's all in her head, so she needs more time and patience.  But sometimes the act of dealing with her after the canter was just too much (not too much as a rider, but just too much for me to want to deal with mentally as well).  But the last three times we cantered, I was actually able to have her walk and trot afterwards.  It is still a bit rushed and nervous, but she is realizing OH I can still bend!  OH I can still trot like a dressage horse!  OH I don't have to chew my bit in half because I am so mentally wound up!  It's quite a bit nicer and gives me hope LOL!  

Not much going on this month.  Our busiest show month was August and now that I am back to teaching, I try to keep things manageable.  We have a cross country clinic and a third 2-phase at Esprit this month.  I would LOVE to try a real horse trial in October but the one I can do isn't the best place to introduce XC.  Don't get me wrong, it's a great course, but it is not a simple jaunt around a field for a greenie.  I don't want to take her on a windy, woodsy trail and not give her a perfect first XC experience.  The farm that has a perfect XC course for her does not have any October events.  :-(  So instead we also have a choice of two different 2-phases, which might be better.  And one is called an "Ultimate 2-Phase", so the jumping phase will be a mix of stadium/XC jumps.  It is at the same farm where we have our XC clinic, so I am thinking THIS might be our last show of the year.  We will just have to wait until 2017 to try a real 3-phase!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Esprit Equestrian Center 2-Phase II - August 28, 2016

Snappy and I competed in our third 2-phase at the end of August, again at Esprit Equestrian Center.  She was super good this time around, not afraid of the indoor at all and jumped around the stadium course in a much braver fashion.  She was, however, deathly afraid of the pretty brush boxes made out of pallets.  So she spooked at them before we started the course, as we were trotting by on our way to jump #3 (and I stopped to let her take a look at them), spooked at them when we went by on our way to jump #5, and then of course wanted to suck back and avoid them altogether on the actual jump they were at #8.  Ohhhh mare!  

I was happy with how she felt in dressage, and we were sitting in 2nd place in our small three rider division with a 32.81.  We jumped clear for a second place finish overall!  We are headed to their third 2-phase at the end of September.  

Ready for dressage!  Her head looks huge at this angle hahaha!
Hard to get good pics in the indoor, but my son tried his best!
Ready for stadium!  

You can see her spook at the brush boxes before we even begin the course and then three more times afterwards.  Foolish mare is scared of the weirdest things haha.