Thursday, September 8, 2016

Bullet Points of the AEC's

I will go into more detail later but the general results of the AEC's go like this…

Best dressage test ever with Chimi!

I suck at time management and f'd up my xc start time which potentially resulted in me screwing up how I rode through the water at 7 (it was a not so simple water crossing) and Chimi spooked at the 2 jumps in front which resulted in a clear round… oh wait… they changed my results a couple hours later and gave me 20 penalties for a stop at the water… grrrrrrrr… angry face…sad face… accepting face… ( must go through the 6 stages of grief over a jump hahaha!)

Stadium was in the fancy ass George Morris arena and woohoo a clear round!!! Even cantered past the scary Land Rovers parked in the middle of the ring!

Happy with results overall even if I was a bit disappointed with the stop on xc. I did try to argue it but it didn't work. But at the end of the weekend I came home with smiles and a happy healthy horse so what more could I ask for? There is always next time for a ribbon!!! (We would of been 7th if they hadn't counted the stop)

Headed to jump 15 at the AEC's



Monday, August 29, 2016

Dressage Woes and Impending Personal Olympics

I have an embarrassing amount of unfinished blog posts sitting in my drafts folder… Sorry folks! But here's attempt #4,042 (or something like that hahaha)

Schooling HT at Jumping Branch in February 
Somedays I have a fruitcake for a horse and other days I have the most rock solid bombproof tank. I regularly take Chimi out on trail rides by himself and we easily encounter 10-60 deer while we're out. Do they bother him? No- not even when I jump because they've surprised me! But the fruitcake side of Chimi...well it tends to show up at shows, and even more specifically in the warm up. Why are our warm ups so terrible you ask? Well it's because the other horses freak him out when they get to close. Chimi will stop and run backwards if a horse approaches from the front and will leap forward if a horse comes up from behind. Normally these horses are being very respectful and not traveling to close so it really is just a Chimi issue not terrible rider problems. Unfortunately this leaves an already alert and tense Chimi very frazzled and even more tight and tense so our dressage ends up being crap. We keep getting nailed about him being short and tight and I just haven't figured the best way to deal with this at a show. 

On a hunter pace this past spring

At home Chimi is pretty darn awesome and my coach regularly comments "now why can't he do that trot in the dressage ring? You would win with that trot!" He can be so lovely and have the most fabulous ground eating trot when I ride out on the trails or in my front field and  even in the ring during our lessons. But as soon as we get to a show all hell breaks lose.

Love the view from the cross country course at FENCE

Our first show of the season was FENCE HT and I thought we were doing fairly ok. I knew we weren't going to get a 20 or anything crazy but I figured a mid to upper 30 would be about where we landed. Instead we ended up with 41.6 and the judge said we weren't forward enough. Ok, I can live with that bc it was very true- Chimi felt like he was trotting through molasses the entire test and I was worried if I pushed him that he might explode. Even with our terrible score we weren't in last place and we finished the weekend with double clear XC and some random time faults in stadium (how the hell did we go to slow in stadium???? Still not sure)

Not sure how it happened but we got 2nd at Windridge which was our first qualifying score

As the season progressed I did get a little better about riding him more forward  in our dressage test but then he started losing his canter leads on the long side before we were suppose to trot. At the most recent event he gave me the most lovely flying change from the left to right lead which resulted in a score of 4 for that movement. I've worked with my coach trying to fix this problem by riding him in a slight shoulder fore down the long side and if I can keep him together it works. But he's so frickin big that sometimes I lose him and he'll swap behind and it turns to crap.

we squeaked by with a 5th place at River Glen which was our last qualifying score! 


And now I've got the biggest event I've ever participated in looming in front of me and I can't help but feel a little underprepared. Chimi and I somehow qualified for the AEC's and in 3 days we will be trotting down centerline at TIEC and competing against other adult amateurs who probably get scores of 20's in their sleep. As much as I would like to come home with a ribbon (ok I'd really like to WIN) I'm ok with whatever place we get as long as we finish on our dressage score. But this is horses and I am just going to ride my best and hopefully it will work out in the end! Just look at the Rio Olympics- top eventers had problems on the course for various reasons and unfortunately had run outs or fell off. So going into my own personal Olympics (who cares if it's just Beginner Novice!) I'm going to do my best and we'll see how the weekend shakes out!!!!

He at least looks cute


Here's to hoping a miracle happens and all my dressage woes disappear and Chimi continues to be beasty awesome on XC and he listens to me in stadium!!!! AEC's we're coming for you!!!

a little luck on our side?





Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Snow Shenanigans!

As I'm sure everyone is aware this past weekend Winter Storm Jonas harassed much of the Mid Atlantic region. Here in the foothills of NC/SC we got our fair share of the snow (though nothing compared to DC and up areas!) but nonetheless a lot of snow for this area with a total ranging from 6"-8"ish.
Why I have to buy good blankets- the boys like to play!

It started snowing here Thursday night/Friday morning around 2:00 am. I had kicked my ponies out in the back pasture after I fed thurs evening and planned to bring them in around 11 before the snow started falling. I totally fell asleep on the couch and when I woke up it was 1:30am! Oops! Ponies didn't mind though- it hadn't started precipitating so they were still dry. I topped up their water buckets with hot water that I carried down from the house, gave them plenty of hay, and kissed their velvety noses goodnight and walked back up to the house just as it started to snow. 

Zion, Nova, and Jello running through the woods

The next morning there was a blanket of pretty white fluffy snow covering the ground and I couldn't help but giggle with excitement because there was SO MUCH SNOW!!!!!! Usually we get 2"-3" of icey snow but this time we had 5"+ glorious inches of the perfect fluffy snow! The dogs were jumping up and down at the door filled with doggy excitement and as soon as I opened the door they flew into the snow and frolicked around. Hope, our tripod beagle mix wasn't so excited about the snow and immediately ran back inside because this snow was touching her poor little belly! But the other dogs, especially the hairy ones were so excited to be running around in the snow. I grabbed my camera, hot water bucket, soaked hay cubes, and headed to the barn. 

Vida watching
                               

After feeding the ponies and taking pictures of the dogs, I let the ponies outside in the back pasture. It was sorta sleeting but the ponies were all cozy in their waterproof blankets and I knew that if I didn't let them stretch their legs I'd have a few angry ponies! Plus my guys are barefoot so I don't worry about snow packing into their hooves like a shod horse. Right now I only have 3 horses at my place bc of the flooding issue. I can manage 3 horses and 2 working stalls but not 4. So Marley is boarded at my neighbors for now and Gus is at my mom's (Marley and Gus switch out as the 4th horse at my house based on various reasons such as grass or if one is being ridden and at which location-basically it's complicated but it works) and I have Arrow, Finn, and Chimi with me. 

Chimi and Finn being silly boys

As soon as I let the ponies out they trotted around shoving their noses into the snow and frolicking around like teenage boys. Finn and Chimi started rough housing while Arrow stood patiently off to the side not wanting to be involved with the shenanigans that the boys were up to. And oh boy- Finn and Chimi were having a blast! They were biting at each other's blankets, rearing, kicking out, playing chase, rolling, and just having a blast! All play was totally harmless and very little contact was actually made, the pictures look worse than it actually was, they were just having a great time in the snow!

Finn says- I'm taller than you! Chimi laughs in his face


After they got their sillies out I tossed them some hay, cleaned the barn, and headed up to the house to enjoy my snow day :) The dogs had enough playtime and were ready to come inside until later on. That evening I brought the ponies in and left them in their stalls overnight. We got another 1"+ and had around 6" of snow the next morning. We were suppose to get another 5" but the storm moved more north and we were able to escape with only 6"-8" (some friends in the area measured 8" at their house) instead of the 2ft of snow the more northern areas got! 

Nova in her "natural" habitat

Now 5 days later most of our snow is gone and the ground is sloppy wet. It should dry out by this weekend with temperatures climbing into the 60's (YAY!!!) and sun in the forcast. I'm glad I live in an area where snow is exciting and rare. I'm happily exhausted from the extra work the snow brings but very glad it's over too! I'm looking forward to getting back in the saddle and prepping for this season's events!!!!!!

Finn being silly




Monday, October 5, 2015

My Love/Hate Relationship with my Barn

Because of the basically nonstop rain we've had the past 10 days, I've had to spend a lot of time in my barn bringing horses in and out of the rain multiple times per day and cleaning the barn, multiple times per day. I have spent many hours smiling at my barn and then turning around and shouting obscenities at it too. You see, my barn was built by the previous owners who really didn't know that much about horses (plus I think they were trying to be cheap and decided to build the barn themselves instead of hiring someone to build it for them- I don't think they knew much about construction/design either)


The barn in the mist one morning
For the most part I love our property, the house is cute, the pastures are large, and it has a barn that protects the ponies from nasty weather and stores things. It's cute from afar and has a country feel to it (which I love) but for the day to day workings of the barn, the only word to describe it is functional. Yes it has a place to store hay, yes it has a tack room/feed room, and yes it has 4 12x12 stalls. But thats where the normalcy ends.

Drawing of the layout of the barn- not to scale but it gives you an idea!  Note the Gus/Marley stall- currently Gus lives there b/c Marley is at a friends place at this moment- but she's in some of the pictures so I included her name to the stall :)



As you can see, the four stalls are in the middle of the barn and form a square with everything else built around the stalls. The tack room is on one side of the square and is separated by a very narrow aisle that is about 3'-4' wide, just big enough for 1 person or 1 horse to get through- but not a horse and person together-that could get dangerous real quick if something spooked the horse. I don't have a picture of the narrow aisle way but below you can get an idea how the stalls are set up- definitely not your center aisle design!

Marley, Arrow, and Chimi standing in their stalls, picture taken from Finn's stall.
The wash rack is located outside and does not have a roof over it. That's fine but unfortunately the corner of the barn roof is located at horse eye level at the edge of the wash rack where the posts for the cross ties are. In the picture below you can kinda see right behind Chimi's ears is the edge of the roof line. Because of this I have to have uneven cross ties and keep the left cross tie short and the right one long so that the horse's head is in the open space. You can also see that the roof line is really low, especially when you're dealing with a 17h+ horse like Chimi. Thankfully it's only an issue on the edge of the roof and the inside where the stalls are is quite high, plus the stalls have another 6" drop when you walk into them (I actually like this- helps keep the shavings in the stalls!) 



The good thing is my barn is quite airy and has good airflow. In the picture below you can kind of see how open the barn is for air- the only solid walls are between the two storage areas (tack and hay) and the main part of the barn has been kept open. As a result my barn is not super dusty because the dust that gets stirred up just flies away :)

You can kinda see Finn looking over his stall door w/ the white saddle pad


On the back side of the barn, where Marley/Gus's and Arrow's stalls are you have the gate that opens into the back pasture. This is quite handy because I can open the gate to let the horses in when it's time to feed. My ponies are quite smart and have learned where their stalls are. As soon as I mix their grain and put the feed tubs in their stalls I keep their stall doors open and and head to the back and open the pasture gate. I rarely use a halter to get my horses in or out of their stalls during feeding time. They know that as soon as I open the pasture gate that their food is waiting them and when I open their stall door after they're finished they know that either grass or hay is waiting for them back in their pasture. I absolutely love this feature of my barn. It helps cut down on wasted time walking back and forth between the barn and pasture. When it's just me feeding the horses I really appreciate being able to be as efficient as possible. I can check water and toss hay while they're eating and they'll be done around the same time I am. When I don't have to mess with sheets and blankets I can usually get the horses fed and out in 30 minutes- 20 minutes if I mixed grain ahead of time. This is important when you have places to go but have to feed the horses first!

Gus waiting to be let in the barn for dinner
Marley and Finn in the back pasture- the part of the barn you see in the background is the hay room.
Even though my barn has a quirky design I kind of enjoy it. I have learned how to function with it and do like that all four horses can see each other when their in their stalls. However there are some major faults that have me pulling out my hair and screaming with frustration. I mentioned in the opening paragraph that the barn was built by the property owners, not a real builder. For the most part the barn is structurally sound, but two major faults exist because they didn't know enough:

1) The sides of the barn are rotting because they didn't put gutters up or extend the roof past the walls.  When it rains the water fall right off the roof and streams down the walls. I can't turn on my outside lights because rain water has dripped into the electrical wiring and burt out one of the lights. If I accidentally turn those lights on the other lights in the barn start flickering and I freak out and immediately run over and turn them off (all of my light switches are in 1 place) This isn't a big deal except in the winter or if I feed late at night. If I have to toss hay I have to do everything by flashlight because I'm afraid to turn on the outside lights. But this doesn't drive me as crazy as the 2nd major issue

2) If it rains a lot my stalls turn into lakes. I currently have 1 dry stall in my barn from the 10 day monsoon. 2 of the remaining 3 are just wet and the 3rd stall has standing water in it. Finn's stall is the first to flood. If it stops raining it'll eventually drain out or be absorbed by the shavings in his stall. If it's a major rain the water from Finn's stall will drain into Marley/Gus's stall and just sit there. Last year I had to scoop the water out with buckets because it wasn't draining fast enough. Poor Gus has been trying to eat his food without going into his stall because he doesn't want to stand in 1-3 inches of water. I can't say I blame him! And now Chimi's stall for the very first time has flooded. I have no idea where it's coming from because it only happens when it's been raining for long periods of time, which make me believe it has something to do with the water table and it's flooding because the foundation wasn't properly prepped. 

Standing water
my boots are underwater




I really do think I could handle all the weirdness of my barn if it weren't for the flooding/water issues. Unfortunately that means that I will have to build a barn and barns cost more money than I have right now. I know that if I build a barn I want it to be as perfect as I can make it for functionality. I don't want a super fancy barn with all the fancy upgrades, but I do want a barn that is safe, functional, and most of all DOESN'T FLOOD!!!!!!!!! But until that happens I will just have to deal with the ponds in my stalls....

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Having to Much Fun in Iceland

Currently I'm sitting in an apartment in downtown Reykjavik relaxing for a brief moment after 5 days exploring Iceland! So many fun hysterical moments and we're not done yet!!!! 


The main purpose for coming to Iceland was to ride the Icelandic Horses. My mom has a friend/neighbor who is the president of the Icelandic Association in the States and she has a friend over here in Iceland that is a trainer. She was able to organize a trip over here where we could ride their horses (which are more alive and exciting than the normal Trek ponies that caters to the tourist) Plus we've gotten a chance to celebreate National Day in Iceland (their Independence day) eat lots of great food, learn how to become Icelandic, visit the Phallological Museum (yes a museum with a bunch of penisis from different species of animals like whales, elephants, fox, etc- no human one though- quite scientific and then some) and basically drink our way around town. 

But the PONIES...er horses.... are absolutely AMAZING. They are hardy, cute, and so smooth to ride. And the hair! Did I mention the HAIR?!?!?!?! Forlocks and mane in abundance! Thick curly tails that would be a nightmare to comb out but look oh so gorgeous when you do, and massive coats to protect them from an Icelandic winter. It's still spring (summer sostice? Only on a calendar!) so the horses are still shedding. Weird to see our version of winter coats- though definately not their version of winter coat- still on the horses. And to boot- these cute cuddly creatures come in all different colors- so if you particularly love a certain color you can get an Icelandic version :) Bays, greys, pintos, duns, silver dapple, various versions of chestnut, palominos, pretty much any color except an appoloosa, haven't seen a spotted appy color, but everything else they seem to have. Another perk of Icelandic horses is that they are not as spooky as other horse breeds. Because there are no predators and the fox was the highest level on the food chain before humans got here, these little viking horses have never had to worry about scary things out to eat them, therefore making them less spooky. You can still scare them yes, but in general while riding around they aren't going to be looking for cougars and such that might eat them. Kinda cool huh? 
  

I will have more pictures to share later on and hopefully more stories to write- I'm checking out because I need to take a quick nap before tonight because we're going on a midnight ride (it never gets dark in the summer) to celebrate Summer Solstice!!! TIME TO CELEBRATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Thursday, May 21, 2015

WindRidge HT Dressage- Beginner Novice Test B video


So I realized a day after I had already published my previous post with the Dressage and Stadium recap that I didn't include the video of the Dressage test. Unfortunately this was the only video I got all weekend because my husband sucks at using the video camera!

At the FENCE HT he was suppose to bring the camera and forgot. Ok, so strike 1 against him. Then he forgot it again on day 2 of FENCE HT. Strike 2. He did remember to grab the camera for WindRidge and videoed my dressage test. Redemption 1 for him. Then for stadium hit the record button AFTER I had already jumped my course and got a nice 2 second shot of the course. Strike 3 with 1 Redemption point averaging out to Strike 2 for the video camera. Sunday rolls around and it's XC day at Windridge. He takes the camera out and tries to film our neighbor jumping around XC and it is so bad that you can't help but be majorly sea sick watching the video- I am almost temped to upload it just because it is SO BAD. So because of crappy videoing skills he doesn't film my XC course. Strike 4 for bad videoing skills, Strike 5 for not filming my course. The show is over and I sit down to watch the videos and all I see is my Dressage test. I ask him about XC because I already knew about stadium, and he says "oh the camera isn't nice enough to video cross country- I tried to video Neighbor Becca and it wasn't very good so I didn't video you." STRIKE 6,7,8,9,10 because it had nothing to do with the video but the PERSON attempting to VIDEO the rides!!!!!!  I so badly wanted to say "Well how come my Mom used a camera from 1999-2003 and was able to successfully video my rides while using a camera MUCH OLDER than the one we have?!?!?!?!?!?!?" But I held my tongue and vowed to find someone else to video my rides because eventually I'd like to see how my horse goes!!!!!!

Oh a happy note- here is my Dressage test!!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

WindRidge HT- Dressage and Stadium Recap

FENCE HT- pc Liz Crawley Photography
The weekend of May 9-10 was WindRidge Horse Trials. I took Chimi for our 2nd outing this season and our 2nd Beginner Novice. Coming off of a successful show at FENCE a couple of weeks ago I was looking to improve our Dressage and have an equally successful Stadium and Cross Country ride.

Saturday morning rolls around and the Chiminator and I have pretty much all morning to braid and get ready. My Dressage time was at 2:06 and Stadium at 3:48. Since I was driving back and forth from home and to the show (a total of 45 minute drive one way) I wanted to get there in plenty of time for Chimi to settle in before Dressage. I left around 10:30 and when I got to the show grounds my neighbors and other fellow pony club friends were all parked around the perfect shade tree and a spot was open just for me! It seriously could not of been a more perfect spot for the day! After saying hello, checking in with the show grounds, and figuring out my course of action for the day I started to get ready for Dressage.
FENCE HT- pc Liz Crawley Photography

At WindRidge the warm up is conveniently located in the same space as the Dressage arena so you just walk through the dividing poles to get to the Dressage test area. Since Chimi's main issue at FENCE was the walk over to the covered from warm up and then dealing with new surroundings, I felt like this would be a better place for Chimi to behave in Dressage and thusly improve our dressage from FENCE. Warm up was great, I just put him through his paces and made sure he was listening, talked with my friend Jamie who was riding right before me all weekend, and then we watched her go before heading in to the ring.
One of the few decent moments in our Dressage test at FENCE- pc Liz Crawley

I made sure Chimi got a good look at the Dressage judge and scribe sitting peacefully in their hut and then trotted Chimi around the ring before they rang the bell. Overall our dressage test was much improved over FENCE where I felt like I was riding a ticking time bomb. This time I only felt like I was riding the nervous squirrel because I could feel him looking around. Overall our test was very positive and definitely looked better than it felt. We only had a few major bobbles like our first 20 meter circle when Chimi decided to do his best impression of a camel, our terrible trot transition from the right lead canter because Chimi wanted to canter forever, and the lack of a free walk. But those are all things that will improve with time. We ended up scoring a 30.5 (how???) and sat in 4th place going into stadium
FENCE HT- pc Liz Crawley

Stadium at WindRidge is a bit of a throw back to the "old days" where grass was king. Heck Badminton STILL uses a grass arena for Dressage and the final Show Jumping day! The flattest area big enough for a stadium course is in this "bowl" which creates a bit of a cross country feel with jumps that fall down. I really do like the stadium courses at WindRidge because it makes you ride smart and plan your ride. Rails are common, which truthfully is kinda nice at the lower levels because BN and Novice tend to be about how well you do in Dressage with little movement from XC and show jumping, so by adding a terrain element to a stadium course it does make for a decent enough shake up. From watching a couple of the Novice horses go jumps 3 and 4 seemed like the boogie fences that most of the rails that fell happened there. The approach to jump 3 was downhill to a very upright vertical and a dip backup to jumping uphill out over an oxer at 4. You really had to have your horse listening to you and had to keep them from getting to flat and heavy on their forehand to jump 3 and with the the dip back up to an oxer you had to keep the hind end engaged or they would pull the back rail of jump 4.
Last jump at FENCE- Chimi wanted to make sure he wasn't touching those rails! pc  Liz Crawley

Since Dressage hadn't been that long ago and the day was fairly hot (though thankfully there was a nice breeze!) I didn't have to do to much flat work to get Chimi ready for jumping. I ended up only jumping each jump twice and felt ready to jump around the course. Chimi was feeling strong but very confident and was looking towards each jump I pointed him at. They ended up taking any and everyone when you were ready so I found the guy with the clipboard and told him I was ready and he said great- you're 3rd in line. That was perfect because I could watch a few rounds to solidify the course in my head. 4 minutes later we were trotted into the arena and did sort of a serpentine-esk shape around the course so Chimi could see what we were about to jump. He felt great and we picked up our right lead canter to the first jump and Chimi sailed over the oxer. He continue to sail through my half halts on landing and instead of making the very reasonable turn before jump 10 Chimi gleefully cantered past 10 and I had to almost bring him to a walk just to get him to listen to me (this is probably the reason we ended up with 1 time fault) After sort of wrestling him back to me we found our way towards jump 2 and had a lovely left turn along the rail towards jump 3- he felt soft, responsive, and lovely until he saw the jump crew sitting in chairs in the shade and decided to have a meltdown. His head shot into the air as he leaped around like a yak and somehow I was able to somewhat steer him towards a straightish approach to jump 3 but he was so hollow in his back and was probably still looking at the jump crew now behind him that he pulled the top rail to the very vertical downhill jump- bugger. Somehow after landing from 3 Chimi sorted his brain out and we had a lovely powerful jump over 4 and ended up clean the rest of the course. I was really happy with the majority of the course and know that the rail we had was a total green rail and had nothing to do with the actual jump- just the mental capacity of the silly creature.

With our rail and time fault we slipped back to 5th place going into XC. If we had jumped clear we would of been in 2nd. Rails happen and I was so happy with how our day had gone that I didn't mind being in 5th- there is still XC to go before the show is over!!!


**** All pictures in this post are the professional pictures taken at FENCE since I got nada. Thanks to Liz Crawley Photography for being there!!!****