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 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!!!****

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Pony Club Proud- why Pony Club is important and I am grateful to be a part of it

The First Rule of Pony Club is....

Quadrille at Dressage Rally-1996ish?

… never stop talking about Pony Club. Because once you’re in the Club, you’re in it for life — and you’re not alone.

That first sentence from the post on Eventing Nation couldn't be a more true statement if it tried. I was/am fortunate that my mom decided Pony Club was something important and when I was 7 she signed me up and I became a member of Cardinal II Pony Club. Soon I met friends through the club and even had my other horsie friends join so that we could all ride together. After a while Pony Club was more than a "club"- it was my social circle, it was my life. My best friends were in Pony Club, my goals were centered around reaching my next rating, and as I started to become more competitive and decided I wanted to compete my goals became qualifying for Nationals in 2000 and 2001, achieving my C-3 and H ratings, and helped focus my riding career on eventing where I compete through Training level until I graduated from high school and set off for college. 

Pony Club friends celebrating Jen's 13th birthday on a trail ride

"Not sure if you’re in the presence of an alum? Hang a water bucket in front of them 
with the snaps facing outward. If they start twitching, they’re in the Club."

This quote made me laugh out loud because it speaks the truth!!!! I will flip snaps around if I see them facing the wrong way on buckets. Why is this important you ask? Have you ever seen a horse catch an eye on the snap? No? I have and it's not pretty. (though it wasn't on the snap but the part where the handle connects to plastic and curls back- all my buckets have duct tape there if the rubber part has fallen off b/c of this) Every rule Pony Club has is for you and your horses safety. Back before Courtney King Dye, Silva Martin, and all the other high profile head trauma stories became big news in the horse world, Pony Club was there making it a rule that you had to ride with an ASTM SEI approved helmet. To this day I will not ride a horse without a helmet and the very few times that I have ridden without one I felt naked and exposed. Yes sometimes the rules seem over bearing and some seem pointless, but as a young impressionable child they set the standards very high and I did my best to adhere to them. Now as an adult I tend to skimp on some of them. I'll wear tennis shoes to the barn, have even worn flip flops if I wasn't going to be near a horse, I don't always clean my tack after I ride (though I try to- just depends on how sweaty my horse was) and I wear jeans over khaki pants if I'm going to shows and such, but beneath my "rule bending" I know the reason behind every rule Pony Club has and am grateful for who I am because of Pony Club. 

Cardinal II Pony Clubbers hanging out together

"The Pin Promise is also a tribute to the sense of camaraderie that Pony Clubbers experience, not just while they’re active members but for years, even decades, after they graduate."

Even if you did not have the opportunity to grow up in Pony Club, because lets face it, not all clubs are created equal and not all parents are aware of Pony Club's existence, and even some trainers do not allow their students to join because they don't truly understand Pony Club themselves or feel that they want to take their students different route (usually to really expensive shows so they can earn more $$$ as a trainer). If you are one of these riders that either started riding late in life, was in a situation where Pony Club was not an option, or whatever the reason- have no fear- Pony Club is for all and you can join as a Horsemaster to a local club or if you become friends with a Pony Clubber (graduate or current member) I know they will bring you in and make you an honorary Pony Clubber so you can become part of the community that is this amazing organization. 

I am Pony Club Proud and will wear my pin with pride. Thank you Pony Club for all the memories, friendship, and knowledge I have because of you. 

All of were members of Cardinal II except our trainer- but she is a graduate A from a different club :)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

FENCE Horse Trials Recap- 2 weeks later....

Chimi hanging out in my mom's front field

Ok so I am not the best at getting my posts written and up in a timely fashion. I must say cudos to those that do! But here is a quick little blurb about how our first horse trials of the year/season went! Even if it is two weeks late.... though I do have a good excuse! The blogger app on an iPad sucks and I was on a work trip all last week and didn't take my computer. So my plans to write were foiled because I couldn't get pictures and words to co-operate which made my mental capacity to even care at a staggering level of -5. So sorry bout that, but here it really is: FENCE HT BooYa!

What? Can I just eat grass please...

Going into the FENCE HT if you had asked me what I was the most worried about I would of told you hands down the cross country. I wasn't sure what to expect from Chimi, and a stop is a pretty beasty amount of penalty points. Epecially at Beginner Novice adding 20 points to your dressage score can really mean the difference between 1st place and not even getting a ribbon. Chimi's confidence has been getting better and better but until you're out on course you don't always know what is going to happen. So because of this, and our score of 26.something or other at the Long Shadows Mini Practice Event- I really wasn't all to worried about the Dressage. Well as we all know horses are the most humbling of creatures. Our warm up was ok- he was super tight and tense at the start and then he relaxed into the trot and we even had some nice canter circles. Our Dressage test was suppose to be in the covered arena and I wanted to get over there and watch the 2 horses in front of us go. But of course the best laid plans don't go as planned. I completely messed up on the order of go and thought there was 1 more person in front of me then there was. As soon as we got to the covered arena the horse in front of us was walking out and we were being called to go in- crap! As we proceed towards A, Chimi freaks out at a decretive fern and the ring steward had to move it so we could go into the dressage ring. But that was just the start of it- I could never get him to totally relax and I ended up using a good bit of my 45 seconds after the bell to get him somewhat prepared to trot down centerline. We did have some good moments- but we also had really bad moments. He broke in both canters and I was ready to pinch his stupid little head because I know he can do all of this perfectly. As soon as we left the arena I had visions of our worst score ever and was annoyed with myself for not getting over to the covered arena sooner. After a moment of annoyance I brushed off the test and said- what's done is done and cross country is next. Out of totally curiosity I did check the scores when they posted- I was worried that it would say 50 next to my name but at the same time I didn't care. Surprisingly there was a 39.2 next to my name! I breathed a sigh of relief and then thought WTF? How was that test a 39.2 and scanned to see what place I was in- yep there is was- 20th out of 20 riders. Our judge must of been scoring super low but at least I was in the place I felt like I deserved after that test. Either way- onwards to CROSS COUNTRY!!!!

Ready for Cross Country!

After having a break between dressage and cross country it was finally time to tackle the phase I was the most nervous about. But I was also rejoicing over my last place placing after dressage because there was ZERO pressure. I could completely focus on having a positive ride without that niggling feeling of I have to do well so I can get a ribbon! My coach Annie was suppose to meet me in the warm up but she sadly wasn't able to make it- she was head of the cross country and thought she would be able to pass the job onto someone else for the 15 minutes of warmup but I think to much was going on that she had to stay. It ended up being a very good thing that she stayed where she was because she was able to watch most of our cross country ride instead of seeing only the first jump. Plus the warm up ride was so chaotic that she wouldn't of been able to help me anyways. There were so many kids running around on their ponies trying to maintain something resembling control, one horse with a professional rider was having bucking fits and his rider was doing everything possibly to have a positive ride without running all of the small children on their ponies over. Basically the warm up was a swirling mass of horses and shouting and bright colors. I stood off to the side for a bit and then picked up a trot and cantered both directions before popping over a couple of jumps. Chimi was a bit freaked out at all the horses headed towards him so we walked a lot on the edge of the field and when I saw an opening would ask him to trot and head towards a jump. He felt really strong and confident when we were jumping and that was all I wanted going out on cross country. Finally it was our turn to head over to the start box.

Jello, beer, and Morris the Horse- jump #4 on XC

 My plan was to trot the first jump to establish confidence in Chimi and so he would understand what we were doing. In the past he's to busy not looking at where we're going that he doesn't realize we're about to jump until its to late and he stops because he was clueless about my intentions. I have found that if I trot the first jump, or at least trot towards the first jump, he's going slow enough that he can look around and then his brain will click into gear as he realizes what we're about to do. So as the count down begins and I hear "Go" we calmly trot out of the box and towards the first jump. Chimi was a bit distracted and was wanting to charge about and take over but I made him trot until the last couple of strides where I felt like he knew which jump we were going for. He leaped over it and took off at a very brisk canter through the woods and up the hill to our next jump. If we had a bad first jump I had planned to jump Starter's #2 jump to help establish a rhythm before the twisty part of the course- from jump 3 to 4 to 5 and to 6 you basically followed a snake and wiggled around the course before getting a chance to canter straight ahead. Since our first jump was ok but not stellar I decided to jump the very inviting baby log and then continued to canter up the hill towards my jump #2. All my worries were soon washed away because Chimi hit beasty mode and clicked on to every jump and took me towards them. He got a bit strong so after we jumped #3 I circled to the right to regain some control because it was a VERY tight left then right turn to #4 and Chimi was a bit on the wild side at that point. I was able to collect him back together and away we went. Trot/canter through water? No problem. Up the bank? No problem. Canter up FENCE Hill to the bending line towards the ditch, totally got it- oh wait what is that hole???? Guess this means jump HIGHER- yeah we probably jumped 4 ft over the ditch. But the good thing was the next jump was a bit away so I could gather myself back together and finish up the ride. Chimi jumped fabulous over the house on the hill (not Britt's blog- but an actual jump! ha!), clear over the last roll top and proudly blasted his way through the finish flags. I was so happy with how well Chimi just jumped around the cross country course that I couldn't stop patting his neck and giving him lots of hugs and telling him what a good boy he was! It was a break through in our riding and I felt like we were finally figuring out the game plan together. Yes there are still things to work on, but over all it was such successful run around Beginner Novice that he totally redeemed himself for the melt down in dressage :) I didn't care what place we were in after the weekend was over because to me we had just finished 1st with the way he ran around the cross country course. On out walk back we saw Annie and she was so proud of Chimi and was glad she had been able to watch most of the course. She thought he looked great out there and that we were definitely headed in the right direction with him! That was the best complement I could of received from her and I think Chimi knew it to. He felt very proud of himself too! After we got back to the trailer I untacked him and we headed home for a nice dinner a good roll followed by a good nights rest out in the pasture.

Jello standing on the "roof" of the House on a Hill with a View Jump- and what a view!!!!

The next afternoon was show jumping. They gave us all a time to ride and I was scheduled to go at 12:16. We had moved up from 20th to 14th after cross country, but I really wasn't interested in a placing- I just wanted a good ride around the stadium course. Annie helped us a little bit with our warm up but mostly she was there to remind me to keep my elbows soft and follow Chimi's head instead of get tight and restrictive. Chimi was fine with or without Annie standing there, but I'm sure he appreciated her reminding me not to get in his way! We were probably the 4th or 5th rider to go in the BN division (since we were towards the end of the placings...) and when it was our turn we headed in. It was a great course with a nice balance of turns and straight/bending lines. We wiggled our way through the other jumps and found a nice canter rhythm towards jump 1. Chimi jumped great and quickly figured out what we were doing. In the corners I brought him back and did some simple changes to make sure he stayed balanced towards the next jump and rode as smart as I could. We had one "flyer" jump where I wasn't sure where he was going to take off from and apparently it was from the long spot. Even with that he cleared all the jumps and we ended up double clear. Over all we moved up one place and finished up 13th overall.

weeeee!!! trotting around the field with Gus Sunday afternoon- guess he wasn't to tired after the HT!
As with all shows, you leave knowing what you were successful with and knowing where you need to focus and do some homework at home. Dressage is something very easy for Chimi (especially at the lower levels) but the atmosphere was the killer for us. I need to make sure I take him to plenty of schooling shows so he can get use to all the craziness that a show is. Just because we can do it at home doesn't mean for a successful weekend at a show. But on the other side of that, Chimi's jumping has come such a long way from where we started. He is so much more confident and his confidence is only growing. As his rider, I need to make sure I keep building his confidence so that when the questions get more complicated he will know how to answer them. Ribbons are icing on the cake but having a successful weekend is worth all the time, money, and energy spent preparing. I know what to work on and we will just see where it goes from here!!!!
The Faces of Chimi

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Pre-Show Panic Jitters

Trying to keep my pre show panic jitters at bay! I'm a bit psyched out about all the things I have left to do and doubts about how ready I am for the show. I tend to talk myself through things- below is my inner dialog- excuse bad grammar- I'm conflicted between being 1st person and 2nd person! lol
Chimi not amused

So what if I forgot how to ride my horse today? After flopping around like a sack of potatoes and somehow expecting my horse to magically start cantering because I leaned, pulled, and tried to kick my way into the canter. Nope- he's not going to do that. But when I sit up and stop riding like a sack of tubers my horse suddenly becomes quite fancy and CAN canter on the right lead. Ride strong with a soft following elbow. 

Johnny- FENCE 1999

So what if I've forgotten to take my show coat to the dry cleaners. It's just a jacket and the cleaners can clean it up for me in a day. The show is local so no worries about being 5+ hours away from your show coat. Or if they can't get it clean in time just take a damp cloth and wipe what you can off. It doesn't look that bad

Blue saddle pads are easier to keep clean- to bad my horse looks FABULOUS in white!

So what if I couldn't find my brand new WHITE Back on Track saddle pad that was purposefully bought for shows so it could stay white and I wouldn't be panicking over how gross it looks from daily use- thats why I have a brown one. Just ask for help looking for it and magically it will appear still in the same box you left it in to keep it safe from bad things.

Gus at FENCE 2013

So what if you're worried about fitting into your show breeches because your weight crept up on you and suddenly you found yourself not fitting into your old clothes. You still have a pair of pants stashed away just for such occasions and are working on reversing the number on the scale so it goes down. Just because I didn't make it to where I wanted to before the show- no big deal. Keep up the work and you will be successful soon. 

Team Beebee at FENCE 1999

So what if you haven't been able to show consistently in years? What is important is that you are finally getting back out there. Just take it one show at a time. Just be time conscience and make sure you arrive on time/early for your dressage test. After that the show is in motion and you just ride the momentum.  

Sugar to Starter jumps is like Chimi to Novice jumps- we can so do BN

So what if the cross country course is different then the years past. You know it changes yearly and Chimi has jumped a lot of the jumps out there. Ride confidently and trust that the jumps are small enough that he could walk over them if he had to. After all Chimi is 17h and the beginner novice jumps are only 2'7"ish. 

Brit and Foster pants making Novice dressage look easy

So what if you haven't practiced your dressage test enough times. It's BN test A. You trot circles, canter circles, and walk straight lines. Ride with a smile and whatever happens happens. You can't fix anything the week of so just ride the horse that shows up to the show. There is plenty of time in the future to perfect small details. Just ride.

We gots this mom!!!

Enjoy the weekend and imagine safely finishing up the weekend. The ribbon color doesn't matter- or a ribbon at all. Yes a really pretty blue would be the icing on the cake but what is really important is giving Chimi a successful ride and building his confidence. He is a nice enough horse that one day he could be winning blue ribbons with ease, but it takes time and patience to get there. Ride confidently and your horse will be confident. 

Here's to the last couple of days before the first show of the season.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Four Wheel Drive and a Covered Arena

It's no mystery that much of the past two weeks has been a wintery mess for a lot of people. Here in the foothills of South Carolina we definitely got our fair share of a very snowy (for us) two weeks. Riding has basically been impossible because all the outdoor rings are frozen, flooded, and snowed over. My riding "area" (since I don't have an arena) has been soaked and the trails are most definitely closed. Plus on some of the really cold days it was all I could do to feed ponies, make sure they were warm enough, break ice in their buckets/water trough, and give them extra hay. 

My barn in the snow

Even though I do love snow there does come a point where enough is enough. Shows are starting up soon and if the ponies are going to be ready I had to figure a way to ride despite the less than desirable conditions. Even with the temperatures rising into the upper 30's and melting the snow I couldn't ride in my usual spots because the ground was saturated with melting snow. The trails were closed, I didn't want to tear up my front pasture, nor did I want my horses to slip while I was riding them. The only way to even potentially ride would be under a covered arena. Luckily, a local barn "rents" out their beautifully manicured covered large dressage arena for a mere $5 a ride- and oh is it sooooo worth the $5 to trailer over there and get some work done! They take immaculate care of the footing, it is consistently watered and dragged so the footing stays soft and perfect- plus there is a roof over your head so you don't have to worry about rain or melting snow! All you have to do to ride there is call and make sure the arena is free and no lessons are going on. Super easy! 

psh- we don't need to work!

Even with the wonderful covered arena only a short 15/20 minute drive away I still had to get out of my driveway. Unfortunately I have to park my truck and trailer next to the fence in the grass in order to have room to turn around. This poses a problem whenever we have wet weather because everything turns to muck and my truck and trailer sink into the ground. But there is a lovely invention in my truck called 4 wheel drive that makes life just a whole heck of a lot easier. There is no way in hell that I would be able to move my truck and trailer if I didn't have 4 wheel drive. I can't even tell you how many times I have had to turn the knob to put my truck in 4 wheel drive to get out of my parking spot. It is the single most important feature of my truck and a requirement for any tow vehicle I ever purchase! Some people can get away without having 4 wheel drive but I most definitely can't!!

So much mud and slush under those tires... I would never move without 4  wheel drive

So with $5 in my pocket and 4 wheel drive I successfully rode a couple of days this past week. I'm still hoping for better weather because arena riding get so dull after a while and I much prefer working Chimi (or whoever) out in a field or on the trails than in the confined space of a ring. Cheers to everyone surviving winter wherever you are and fingers crossed some nice weather heads everyone's way soon!!! First show of the season will be here before you know it!!!!!!

Peek-a-boo! Chimi is hiding!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wordless Wednesday- Winter Edition

With Winter recently deciding to be wintery- here are some fun snowy pictures from this past snow. Enjoy the mostly Wordless Wednesday post!

Zion, Nova, Vida, Hope, and Jello playing in the snow

Chimi's full of beans!

Zion's face says it all

Nova in her "natural" habitat