Sunday, April 28, 2013

Show day Success

I had a great show on Saturday. I was pleased with Sam's demeanor, as I got the 'horse from home' at the show with me by the second round. Nice, wonderful, rhythmic canter. Three over fences and two flat classes.

My third round was great, I liked the bit more complicated course then just doing lose figure 8s. There's a video below. You can hear my trainer saying 'get taller, taller' halfway through and 'woah' shortly after that as Sam got a little (and I mean tiny comparatively) quick in that corner. I messed up the bending line to the last jump and we left extra long. Watching the video over and over, it looks like I rode it just fine, but there seems to be extra pogo-sticking afterwards (wrong lead), popping me up (probably because I didn't have heels down) and then Sam tried to take advantage a few strides in to pull down, which pitched me further still and lost my left stirrup. But words from my trainer standing right there helped remind me that I don't want to just bail and I sat up like we've been practicing and saved it. After I came out I said to my friend that I maybe I got bonus points for working it out at the end.
The long depart - not an oxer
--Video of our third round--

Didn't know where we were placing, or that they were dividing the adults from kids until after my first flat class when we were announced the winners. :D Took second in the last flat, and that was ok because I was really losing my right leg by then because I was really tired and I don't think at that point I was doing a good job to hide it. :)  Sam did great keeping his cool and not being all tired and pull-y. So I was happy.

After the flats, the jump placements were immediately announced. I was announced adult division champion and subsequently called to receive first in all three jump classes which included not only a ribbon, but little trophies too. And pleasing of all, I got my first 'silver plate' engraved with the show information on it for being division champ. WOOHOO!

Trilogy Farms Schooling Show Apr 2013

1st Green Rider Adult Hunter O/F 18"
1st Green Rider Adult Hunter O/F 18"
1st Green Rider Adult Equitation O/F 18"
1st Green Rider Adult Hunter U/S
2nd Green Rider Adult Equitation Flat
Champion, Green Rider Adult Division

After we were done...
My first silver plate!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Buddying up!

This week starts the beginning of buddying up with my 'partner in crime' barnmate, Amy. She and her mare have been attending shows with me and we are at the same level of jumping. She has a pretty specific schedule she rides and I'm flexible. So I'm going to be joining her on some of her rides so we can set jumps, remind each other of things like, 'look up' 'release' 'sit up' etc. Plus it's just plain fun.

Gratuitous photo of Sam from last week - after he got to roll in the arena

Last night was our first night together and it was a blast. We even dropped stirrups for a few laps and
both rode longer then we normally would - and that's GREAT! We discussed how it's funner to be at the barn with someone else to ride with for support or to cheer on. For me it also helps me stay bold about jumps I might be wishy-washy about; someone to 'perform' for.

We already have a date this Thursday night. :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

When it rains it pours, and sometimes you want to give it a boot

I live in a wet climate, raining 9 months out of the year.

In the late spring and summer, I stop wearing my tall boots to the barn which are my Ariat Windemeres in Baker plaid and black leather (FAVORITE BOOTS EVER) because I don't need the warmth but probably still need protection from wet muck in the paddocks.

The last few years I've been wearing Crocs with or without socks. They are light and cool and slip on nicely. And you should know I switch to my Ariat paddocks to actually ride my horse. But I like to leave those at the barn so I need to/from home shoes at the very least.

However, the Crocs will static my horse if I'm still wearing them when I groom. And they fit sloppily and I unattractively slough around in them. Plus immediately get footing in them when I'm walking through arenas to go do something or other.

Ariat Windemere Baker
Purple Crocs

I was also using rain boots, like my Sperry's (which I find a super comfy and sheik boot), but they are tall and hot in the spring/summer, esp if I hang around the barn all day in them, my feet get sweat. I also like my Joules Wellibobs, but mine are fleece lined and they are a little looser on me then I would like with my heel moving around a lot.

Sperry Top-Sider
Joules Wellibob

I was at the local farm store and they had some BOGS which I never liked the look of since they have the grab hole at the top, though some of the patterns are nice. But then I spied a short boot, and then an even shorter slide. The BOGS Rose! That would be perfect as it's a slide but not sloppy and probably not too too hot. They didn't have my size, but of course I quickly got online and found one.

It fits great and is super comfy.
When I wore them to the barn, they were awesome on the gravel and pavement and packed dirt and mats. They were not great on cedar or hogsfuel footing. They weren't able to 'flip' back onto my foot quickly as they do on a hard surface and it made walking trying and it back sloppy. I definitely wouldn't want to lead my horse around wearing them in that footing. Hmm... good for flatting. Check.

I had noticed when I was shopping for the Rose, that there was a taller boot, with a heel, the Rue. But I was unsure I would like it and if it would stay on my heel or be like a flip-flop.

So I found a pattern I liked and ordered that after my Rose experience. It came yesterday and I got to wear it to the barn today. Comfortable, fits like a glove, super cute. Check. Hard surfaces. Check. Arena footing, PERFECT! Stays on, totally solid, will be great for being around horses in. TA-DA! I'm so excited about rubber on my foot!! :)

 The best little tid-bit is that BOGS is a local company to me, which I didn't even know all this time until I went to their website and noticed their shoe styles were named uncommon names that were also local streets where I live.

*all shoe photos in this post are the color/pattern of the actual shoes I own.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mixed Results


Photos my friend Diana took, pictured w/ me, bottom left
Saturday I went to the schooling show. I got to travel first class as my BO calls it. Our very own 'every horse loves him and obeys his every whim' whisperer who works at our barn hauled my horse to the show. He made sure he was bedded nicely while we waited and helped me tack up. He wiped my boots and took my ribbons back to the stall when we were done. He even walked my horse around between classes so I could stand around and chat with friends. At the end my barn mate and I wanted to stay longer and watch the bigger classes, so the whisperer loaded up my horse and took him home, back into the routine of things. SOOOO nice and worth every penny :)

Started well enough

I wasn't particularly pleased with our courses, mostly because Sam was amped up and pulling. I was managing it best I could, but the arena was large enough for five strides between the lines, but only like 2 strides until the corner - which my horse is famous for careening around. He was unimpressed by the small jumps and once in each jump class, he trotted both in and out of the line. But my fault for not having leg on. In the end we managed to make a good showing in the division, like an old hat for us, taking home the championship.

1st Trot a Course- Flat
3rd Trot a Course – 18"
2nd Trot a Course – 18"
Division Champion Trot a Course – 18"

More then I asked for

Going in for the next division, Sam pulled me all over the place even in the warmup we had beforehand. I should have decided just to trot every jump - which I did for the line in the warmup - but I'm ambitious and like to go big or go home. And we cantered the whole course. When I came out of the first class my very first thought was, that was like a roller coaster ride - and I liked it. Even though it was not very hunter-like at all, esp with overshooting jumps because we had difficultly in the corners before them. But it would be the next class that would bruise my pride.

We cantered up to our 2nd jump, the first line that had the largest vertical (2') at the end, I was looking up and beyond the 2nd jump but also tapping the brake all the way to the jump (should have stopped tapping in the corner) and saw we were going to leave long and apparently started to take the jump myself. However, my self-preservating horse made a last minute add (he usually adds) and the quick movement knocked me off balance (since I was already too far forward) and we did get over the jump but in the next stride I made an apparently lovely emergency dismount to my feet and then momentum pushed me on my butt ever so gently. Totally unhurt. Sam then bucked his way around. Once caught, I remounted and we did the whole course trotting every jump.

By the time we got to the last class, a flat, he was SO FREAKING heavy in my hands, all behind the vertical, even though I was trying to release, release, release and get him to hold his own head up in the right spot. Going left he was too fast, and in the last part going right, he finally settled into his lovely trot and canter. Too lovely, too late.

3rd Green Rider – (Crossrail in Verticle out) 2'
5th Green Rider – (Crossrail in Verticle out) 2'
4th Green Rider – Flat

I learned a few things this weekend. What I need to work on... Where I want to be. It's a good measuring stick. Next show in two weeks!
Did I mention I was #1? No pressure or anything...

Friday, April 12, 2013


I'm a pretty visual person, but I have a hard time translating what it feels like when I'm riding in comparison to the picture we make together. For example, when we ride a round at a show, I'll think we had awful distances and look out of control. But, I'll watch the video and we look totally calm and purposeful. Which just tells me that I need more video so I can visualize what I see in the video while I'm riding what feels like a train wreck.

Here's a video from a few weeks back of Sam and I cantering right a few laps. Looking pretty good. :)

In Tuesday's lesson this week, we worked on getting the correct leads off the jumps, or asking for them if I didn't get them. For probably the first time, I was able to get the right lead change when I asked for it! We got the hind end first and several strides later got the front. Normally, I don't get anything except hippity-hopping and speeding up.

So Wednesday, we did flatwork by ourselves and I worked on nice big figure 8s, working on keeping the lead we had until *I* asked for the change. Each time I asked for the right lead, he IMMEDIATELY gave me the hind but each time I couldn't get the front even several strides out and we had to trot the change. That's totally ok! We'll get it next week when my trainer can coach me from the ground.

It was exciting because I seemed to have finally found the right lead flying change button on Sam which is WAAAY back, much further then his left change. Although thinking about it now, I pretty much don't have to do anything for the left because he has an auto change on that side. When I purposefully ask for the left (when I make him stay right until I ask), he totally already knows (since he's auto on that side) so just moving my leg positions is enough of an ask. But the right change isn't and requires so much more then I was giving before! LIGHT-BULB!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Inching forward

Over the last two days I've been gathering information to attend a little hunter schooling show that just posted about 20 miles from my barn. It's on Sunday.

I exchanged emails with my trainer and I seduced a fellow rider to enter the show too. I also set up our transportation since I'm currently trailerless. And I contacted the show organizer to field a few more questions. It was so empowering!

The best part is, I've convinced my trainer to allow me to enter the 2' division since it lists as crossrails to verticals. Less scary that way. And I pointed out to her that in Nov I showed 18-23" courses, crossrails to verticals/gates. It's just 1" higher. Plus I've been doing fabulously in my last few lessons. YAY!

I'm going to cross enter the 18" division for two reasons. A little more seat time to establish what kind of horse I'll have that day, perfect sam or pulling sam. And if I chicken out of the 2' then I'll have already done the 18" and won't walk away having done nothing. It will be 6 classes total between the two divisions which is good amount, not too much as long as we don't get a flat-class nazi to wear us out.
Jumping 23" at the November show

I'll be cantering the 18' unless Sam pulls, in which case we'll be working on use his hind end and listening, trotting in, cantering out. Here's the classes:

  1. Trot a Course – Flat
  2. Trot a Course – 18’
  3. Trot a Course – 18’
  1. Green Rider 2’
  2. Green Rider 2’
  3. Green Rider Flat 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Ribbons ARE important to me

Why, yes I do show for ribbons. Yes, it is important to me. Yes, I do care what color it is. And lastly, yes, I work very hard and put in the hours so that I can win that blue ribbon. 

I don't understand two specific camps of reward. 
1. Everyone should come away from a sporting event with a ribbon/trophy, etc.
2. It's not about what color your ribbon is, it's about the journey.

Let's discuss #1. 
The point of sport competition is just that, competition. There's a winner and there are those that didn't win. Period. The End. If you wanted to win but didn't, work harder. If you wanted to go and at least come home with some kind of prize, work harder. Life doesn't hand out 'you didn't win but you are still awesome' prizes. Life hands you hard crap you have to deal with and sometimes you come out a winner and sometimes you scrape by - and you're still happy about that! 

I do agree it is a journey to get to a milestone in a sport. I do agree how you get there is just as important as getting there. I don't agree that nowadays it's frowned upon if someone wants to actually win something. People around me are all like, I just want to go and have fun. Fine. Me too. I just hope I don't fall off. Fine. Me too. 'I don't care about ribbons'. I DO! A ribbon, specifically a blue one, doesn't define that I've met a particular goal (because sometimes I win with a less then perfect round - usually actually). And it doesn't say I'm best in the world either. But it is something tangible that I can touch and feel that allows me to provide credibility that what I've accomplished.

At the beginning of last show season, I came home with mostly red ribbons. But over the summer, my riding improved and so did my results. The first June show and the October show were the same classes/venue. The last November show I finally moved out of the 12" altogether and managed to finish strong. 

First show, June 2012, 9 classes - 5 seconds, 1 third, 1 fourth, 2 fifths, 12-18"
Aug 2012, 7 classes - 6 first, 1 second, 12-18"
October 2012, 9 classes - 6 firsts, 1 second, 2 thirds, 2 Division Champions, 1 Medal Class Champion, 12-18"
Nov 2012, 4 classes - 2 first, 1 second, 1 third, Green Rider Division Champion 18-23"

I've already had my first show this year, and most of the 6 classes I was in only gave clear round ribbons (which for me is a non-event since my horse rarely takes a rail). And we didn't place as high in the flat EQ class because Sam and I were very tired (last class) and the judge had use sitting trot/two point, etc MUCH longer then we are used to going around and he had a little outburst at the very last right canter pickup. I was not upset with me or my horse as I'm sure he was as tired as I was, but I was upset that I wasn't as prepared for the class (that I was confident I could win) and therefore didn't bring a blue ribbon home. THAT is why it's important to me.

I want a blue ribbon?! I better get our butts in gear and work harder in case we get another really hard judge that makes us go round and round for a good 10mins. It also told me that we barely made it through 6 classes (5 were jump classes) so our overall fitness needs a boost before the next show.

When I'm not at the barn, I have a daily reminder at my desk of what awesomeness I've accomplished with my partner and why I keep working so hard. We're not talking Olympic dreams or killer workouts. We're talking about maintaining a level a riding to accomplish our goals... which for this season are local schooling shows and hopefully showing 2' jumps by June.

But every time I show, I will be riding for blue.

The top of my desk where I work from home - keeping an eye on the prize

Friday, April 5, 2013

And climbing

Wednesday, I rode about a half an hour. We worked on a steady rhythm and because I had sleepy Sam, I got brave. We jumped the black box with rail to the brown gate with rail. Trot in, jump 25" then canter the line to the 22" gate. Easy breezy. I normally do that combination without any rails. I definitely need to keep getting reps in, but it's a little bit easier every time. I was very pleased with myself.

black box with rail (left),  25" to the brown gate with rail and orange flowers (right),  22"

Today I had an extra lesson and because it was raining pretty hard, we stayed indoors and worked on flying changes. We figured out a really good figure 8 exercise that I am able to execute to really apply my leg aids correctly and timely. Sam has an auto change one direction, but can't seem to get his stiff side (left to right) to switch, even when asked. We can do really clean and fast trot changes, but we can't do those forever.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

In the beginning there was no balance

Still looking back, I've come a long long way. Here's how I started jumping:

In this video, I'd had Sam for about 3 weeks and this was my 3rd time jumping with him... which was also my 3rd time jumping ever, if you don't count the 8 week camp in 5th grade. Up to this point other then some random riding scattered about in the previous 8 years, I'd had almost 2 solid years of 3x/wk riding up to this point, all dressage and on a previous horse.

I have to laugh at my stirrups in the first ten seconds, hehe. Then I play it again and watch how high I post. Hehe. And then my dressage-y canter halfway through. And my kid videoing and cheering me on. What a fun journey so far.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Looking back, moves me forward

I was looking back at some videos from shows last summer and realized that while I was doing two divisions most of last season, the lower one for warmup since most of the places didn't have warmup rings, even from my very first show I was already jumping 18" from the start.

I'm glad to have done 18" at my first show this year, but I guess I forgot that I was competing that all last year. I knew I had not made my goal of 2'3" at the end of the summer, but I didn't realize how far off I was from it. Need to push more since the only thing holding me back is mental. My riding is ready to move up. And secretly, I think my horse wants me to move up since he tends to just keep trotting right over the 12"ers now.

So, my trainer and I have started incorporating 2' verticals...UGH. Visually they are intimidating for me. Jumping them, they are easy. But even though it's all super smooth, afterwards I'm always like, 'whew, that was scary'. Sometimes I say it out loud too :)

Here's a short video of me from Friday, no lesson, by myself (hubbie videoing) and it's my second pass at it since he missed shooting the first one. I usually only have enough guts to take it once. Glad I went again, as it was a perfect distance to the vertical. No way I was going to go a third time ;)

Looks so easy watching on video... good picture to keep in my head. I've done it, it was easy.