Thursday, August 29, 2013

From Bay to Grey

Last year I was making plans with my little bay Connemara/TB cross. I was going to event him beginner novice, try to qualify for the Eventing Championships, and generally have fun with my cute little guy. But since change is inevitable, and plans don't always go accordingly, I find myself a year later with a exuberant grey OTTB mare that I'm trying to keep inside a dressage arena and not go advance speed around a BN cross country course!
schooling Gus through the water- April 2013

The grey ghost herself, Miss Marley- May 2013

I competed Gus at the FENCE HT in April, and we finished 4th overall. We would of been 2nd had Gus not been so in love with his friend Finn and looking everywhere but at the first jump on course, plus I wasn't riding him the way I needed to towards that jump, especially with him being an air head about his buddy. Even if the rail had stayed up and we did finish 2nd, I knew in my heart that Gus just wasn't all that jazzed up about jumping. He can jump, and is a cute little jumper, but his heart just isn't in it, and when the jumps get bigger it could become pretty dangerous. I've taken my share of falls from Gus because he wouldn't pick his feet up going over the jump. As my coach Annie says, he just doesn't have any self preservation and that can be very dangerous over bigger jumps. So I put some feelers out for Gus and ended up finding the perfect home for him. He is now trail riding and fox hunting with my mom's good friend Cyndi. She is a great rider who just wants to have fun and puts up with Gus's silly moments. Plus I get to see him every time I head to my parents' because he's boarding at their place! 

Gus is a cute jumper when he wants to be!!!

 With Gus now enjoying his life as a fat, happy, trail/fox hunting pony, the grey mare that I've been riding on and off for a while had a chance to step into the lime light and become my main focus. Previously I wrote a post about taking her XC schooling for her first time last fall, and then I took her to a Ralph Hill clinic back in January. She's such a cool OTTB with so much heart, but trying to keep her relaxed while riding her is like holding a ticking time bomb. If you "cut" the wrong wire you've got pieces flying everywhere, but there is very little difference between the right and wrong wire. To be fair to her, she's only been in consistent work for 3 months, and even that is a bit questionable b/c we've had sooooo much rain this summer!!!! Either way, Marley has been getting a lot of work and really is progressing, even if at times it feels like at a snail's pace.

This past weekend I decided to take her to her first event. We headed off to the Tryon Riding and Hunt Club Sizzling Summer Schooling Horse Trails (non recognized) for our first outing at Beginner Novice. Last year I won the event with Gus, but this year my goal was to stay in the dressage arena (no joke- this was real goal, not just a laugh!) and to stay in a controlled trot/canter in stadium and XC. I wasn't worried about time or jumping faults, or even what the final Dressage score would be. I just wanted to complete and not scare the living daylights out of the jump judges!

The end result- SUCCESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We stayed in the dressage ring, had a terrible score, but again considering I was worried about elimination, I could care less about the score.

Marley being calm...

submission- what?

ok, back to being good...ish
 Had a very green rail in stadium (not listening to a half halt to the 3rd jump on course which was a vertical with a downhill approach will do that to ya). We started to find our rhythm towards the end of the course, but we need to work on keeping a steady pace and not letting the momentum keep building jump after jump- gymnastics are going to be our life for a while!


And to seal the deal, we had an amazing, mostly controlled, cross country round! She calmly cantered most of the jumps, and we came in closer to the optimum time instead of the speed time!

making the warmup jump look like a piece of cake

Overall we ended up in 6th place, I think out of 10 or 12, and I couldn't of been prouder! Technically we were last of everyone that completed, but that is not something I cared about at this event. Marley is still quite green, and is still learning the basics. We were nailed on submission and impulsion in the dressage which showed up in our stadium. But this horse has so much heart that I know I must take my time and do it right with her. There are no short cuts with this girl!!!!

Marley in her new pasture

she's such a pretty girl

Marley and her "gang"- Finn, Arrow, and Chimi