Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Happy Birthday Chimi!!!

15 Looks good on ya Chimi!

Sometime on April 24th, 2003, a little brown colt was born somewhere in Indiana. I still think his owners/breeders/barn people got drunk on margaritas the night he was born and decided to name this supposedly fancy warmblood after fried Mexican food, and thus he became Chimi Chonga (and not even the correct spelling, which I'm ok with bc visually I like how his name is spelled)

Chimi gives you wings!

Somewhere along the lines you found yourself dancing on your back legs right after colic surgery which lead to a slew of other problems that made it possible for me to afford you by the time I met you. I know your owners weren't thanking you at the time but I thank you now for making it possible (just keep your shenanigans down to a dull roar now, after all you're supposed to be a mature 15!!!)

pats for the best boy

You're a pretty spectacular horse and I'm glad to be your person even if it means I hit the ground more often than I'd like!!!! But besides that we've been through a lot and you've saved my ass more times than I can remember. Soon our 5 year anniversary will be upon us so I'll save the rehash of the early days for then but for now

I KNOW!!!!!!!!

Hold on!!!!!

Oh and if anyone wants to know Chimi is getting his 7th Adequan shot for his birthday, along with various cookies shoved down his mouth b/c he it is his special day!!!!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Weekend Fun at the WEG Test Event Combined Driving Edition

This past weekend was a much enjoyed pony filled, spring weather, couple of days! It started out with my horsie friend EG coming into town on Friday after work and ended with a hunter pace with fellow blogger Sara and her Trainer (who is also my friend). But first off SATURDAY's adventures!!!!!

The first pony on course

In all the lead up to WEG in September, TIEC has to have various test events for each discipline, hopefully to iron out any and all kinks (b/c there are a fair amount!) This weekend was the test event for Dressage, Para-Dressage, and Combined Driving. I did not venture over to TIEC proper to watch the Dressage or the conclusion of the Combined Driving b/c Sunday was RVPC's hunter pace and I was working the HP and riding in it! But for Saturday we went over to the White Oak side of TIEC for the Marathon part of Combined Driving.

go little guy go!!!

OMG Combined Driving is so cool!!!!!! The test event had more than the 4 in hand driving (which is what is shown at WEG) so we got to see Single Ponies, Pony Pair, Single Horse, Horse Pairs, and the Team Driving (4 in hand). First up on Saturday was the single ponies and they were so cute!!!! Especially the little round halflinger!!! I don't remember what the other ponies were but they were some sort of cross with Dutch Driving Horses (I think).

The Gangsta' Ponies

Then came the Pony Pairs! There was only 1 pair entered and it happened to be a pair of buckskin pinto SHETLAND PONIES. They are the smallest driving ponies in the world? Or at least the smallest in the US and these little dudes were sassy and adorable!!!! They did not look like fat hairy beasts but instead like sleek, elegant, little critters that flipped their toes and pranced around like little sassy beauty queens. They even have a nickname and are called The Gangsta' Ponies and are very well known in the driving world (I mean seriously, how could you miss these tiny little shetland ponies?) I'm a bit bummed that my pictures of them didn't quite come out b/c I was having a bit of trouble figuring out a good setting for my camera. (I need some lessons on how to work my camera better. I do not pretend to be good at using it)

I would not want to sit this horse's trot!

After the ponies navigated the marathon part of the course, the single horses came next. A lot of the singles and the only horse pair ended up scratching so we had a long break between the final single horse and the Team. EG and I had ventured over to the 1st hazard on course and it ended up being one of the coolest spots to hang out. We got to stand on top of the bridge and look down as the horses crossed back and forth underneath us! There was also an official standing at the top that was so kind and helpful and explained the sport to all us standing there not having a clue what was going on. It's a lot to type out and explain but the general gist of it is The driver has a certain amount of time to complete the entire course, like optimum time on XC BUT at each of the hazards (there were 7 total at this event) you want to be the fastest. They have timers set up for when you start and when you finish and you have to go through a set pattern that is marked with A,B,C,D,E "flags" and you have to keep Red on the Right just like in eventing. If I understood correctly you can pick which direction you turn to them so if you have a better left turn you can turn left to some of them or right. But I don't think this works out for all of the hazards? Either way the fastest time through the hazard is the best and you incur penalty points for going to slow, knocking the ball off a cup, moving any of the obstacles, losing a person on your carriage, and not going through the flags in the correct order.

Finally it was time for the Team event and this was probably the most fascinating to watch. Honestly the skill level required to do this was completely mesmerizing and I'm in total awe of these horses, drivers, navigators, and grooms.

She's 70!!!!

The first driver of the Teams was this lady that is 70 years old and breeds her own horses. They are a cross between Russian Arabians and German Riding Ponies. She had a lovely team of all grays and I do not envy her having to keep all of them so clean!!!! Especially b/c there is a 5th horse back at the barn that is an extra in case one goes lame!!! Can you imagine keeping 5 gray horses clean??????? I can barely keep my 1 bay from looking like a mud ball!

coming to the finish of Obstacle 2

Either way she was first to the 1st hazard and it was pretty darn impressive. She messed up twice but was able to navigate her horses around and get them out of 2 pretty serious fixes. The first mess up was coming around a turn and her horses split the cement barrel thing. One of the horses bascailyl turned around in the harness and she was able to back the team up and the horse that was turned around fixed itself and off they went! Then towards the end of the 1st hazard she hooked her left wheel on the corner of D and basically spun the entire wooden triangle around and knocked it out of place. She calmly re-righted herself from the driver's seat and finished the hazard. Even though that wasn't ideal I was so impressed with how the horses just did their thing and listened to her to get out of the situation!!!!! Chimi would of freaked out a long time ago!!! HAHAAHAHA. (I don't think driving is in his future) They ended up having to get a tractor to come out to the 1st hazard and completely fix the obstacle she had moved and the team behind her ended up having an 11 minute hold.

Because of the hold we got to watch the next two teams come through pretty quickly b/c only the team of Friesians had been stopped. It was really funny b/c there were some older ladies standing on the bridge with us oohing and ahhing over these damn friesians. I hate friesians all b/c of one named G that was one of the NC State Dressage team's horses one year. I know Britt LOVED him but I thought he was an ass (even though he was kinda cool to ride. But I still thought he was an moron) So thanks G for being such a dumbass that I hate all of your kind now. HA. Anyways this one lady I thought was going to fall down in a fit of passion b/c she couldn't stop professing her love for the team of hairy black beasts coming our way. I did politely say "You know the breed is kinda stupid right?" and she laughed and said "I don't care, they are just so beautiful. It'd be like having a good looking man to look at all the time even if he's dumb as a box of rocks" I started laughing and thought touché!!!

Groom running after the carriage... Groom getting a hand back on the carriage...

After that we headed back towards Hazard 5 and 6 and watched the teams navigate through those obstacles. At the water one of the grooms (I think thats the correct term for the person on the back? I googled it so don't quote me!) fell off the back of the carriage and had to run through the water and jump on. There's definitely a reason everyone wears helmets and safety vests during the marathon phase!!!!

Finally the last driver of the day came through and we headed back. Overall it was such a cool experience and if I can score tickets to the driving at WEG I'm definitely going!!!! I highly recommend going to a driving competition if there is one in your area b/c it's quite fascinating and the amount of effort that goes into this event is insane!!!!! But honestly how many people can compete at the top of the level at 70 in their selected event of choice? I know there was a dressage person from Japan I think that was 70 at one of the Olympics but not many out there!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Well that was… Eventful

This past weekend was the FENCE HT and I had entered Chimi Novice. It was supposed to be the start of the season and it ended up being… well, eventful.

Saturday started out so promising. I braided Chimi in record time, I only left my house 10 minutes late to pick up Finn and T, and on my way to FENCE I saw a white squirrel! Surely this meant today was going to be great?? Right?

hello little white squirrel!!!

As soon as we got there and I jumped out of my truck I heard the announcer say "Prelim show jumping will start at 1 today." Umm that was weird, SJ was supposed to be tomorrow? Then I ran into my friend AT who said "Have you heard the news? It's been turned into a 1 day due to really bad weather tomorrow" UMMM WHAAAATTTT??? Do I have my stuff for show jumping? Yes except for my open fronts, but whatevs. They were allowing us to jump in XC attire for SJ so I figured it'd work out somehow.

I don't have lots of media so here's jumps from XC! This was for Training and Prelim but how fun is this?

Then it was time for bit check. I hopped on Chimi and we headed over to the tent where the bit checkers were hanging out. I told the lady to be careful but she wasn't careful enough and freaked Chimi out with her more aggressive bit checking style. However she did redeem herself and he allowed her to check the bit on the 2nd attempt. No sooner had they given us the green sticker and we turned around to walk the 10 steps to the warmup ring when suddenly I felt Chimi go straight up into the air and land bucking. I was pitched forward and landed on his neck and immediately wrapped my arms around him and held on. He stopped shortly after and just calmly stood there. Everyone was like omg you stayed on?! Good job! I laughed and said I wasn't going to give my trainer her bottle of wine for falling off today! Trainer saw the whole thing and jokingly said "I'm insulted that you wouldn't do that for me!" (her rule is if you fall off in her lesson or at a show you have to buy her a bottle of Australian Red. I've given her plenty of bottles in the past 5 years!)

T and P's picture frame jump

Warm up was kinda terrible but that was to be expected. Chimi didn't try and buck but he was overly spooky. He doesn't like the horses coming straight at him so I'm constantly looking at the flow of traffic and trying my best to go with the flow instead of against it. But this time he was also spooking at the white board the warmup stewards were using to keep track of everyone. I shrugged it off and just did my best to keep Chimi well enough together and survive the test.

When it was time for our dressage test he went in and mostly behaved. We're usually pretty darn decent on our first centerlines but this time when we made the turn left he spooked hard at something by C. I think it was a puddle? Honestly have no idea. The whole test he felt tense but obedient and we ended up with a respectable 33.3 which I thought was very fair. Trainer said the test looked good and we obviously lost points that we normally don't lose them at a couple of spots in the test (like when he jigged in the free walk). I forgot to pick up my test at the end of the day with all the craziness of the 1 day going on so I'm a bit sad I don't know how we did at each movement. Oh well.

Chimi looking so innocent and adorable being tacked up for XC

Finally it was time for XC! I was pretty excited b/c the course looked easy enough but had some tricky moments that I knew I had to ride well for. Trainer warned me about jump 1 so I knew I had to come out of the start box and ride him to the jump.

The fist jump on course.

The XC course at FENCE is across the road from the main show grounds and it's a fairly easy hack up the road. They always have policemen hanging out to make sure that any driver coming by slows down so that the riders won't have any trouble getting to XC. Chimi's made this trek many times so I wasn't to worried. As we were heading up the road two riders were coming back. The first one was riding her horse back and Chimi didn't care about them. However the 2nd rider was leading her horse back and suddenly I felt Chimi spin around and take off back to the trailer. I quickly stopped him and turned him around and the rider on the ground was very polite. We easily passed them on the 2nd attempt but it was just kind of weird.

Course walking at sunset is always the best for pictures

We checked in at XC warmup and I saw that there wasn't to many riders there yet. Thankfully we were one of the first riders to head out on the Novice course b/c cross country warm up can be really scary for Chimi with so many horses galloping around. We had a terrible warmup but that's pretty normal for Chimi so after getting ourselves mostly together I felt like we were ready to go.

I watched the first couple of riders head out of the start box and they didn't seem to have any trouble with the first jump.  Now it was our turn and was as ready as we could be.

Why am I looking at Chimi's front feet?

10, 9, 8....3, 2, 1, and we were off! I thought about trotting the first jump but Chimi charged forward out of the start box so I rolled with it. I sat down closed me leg and really rode him towards the first jump and then the next thing I know Chimi slams on the brakes at the last second and I'm slammed out of the tack and onto the ground. It all happened so fast I hadn't a snowball's chance in hell of staying on Chimi. Honestly I really don't think many people could stay on Chimi when he decides to stop b/c it truly comes out of nowhere and he's suddenly not under you anymore.  I had the ground and I'm thinking WHAT THE FUCK CHIMI YOU BASTARD GOD DAMN YOU WHERE THE FUCK DID THAT COME FROM??!!?!?!?!!?!?!?!!?! My head was not a good place to be at that moment.
Why am I looking at Chimi's BACK feet?????

Luckily Chimi is not a horse  that leaves the scene of the crime and tends to stand around waiting for you to get back up. In the fall I must of slid off the front of him and taken the bridle with me b/c when I stood up I saw that it was just laying there at his feet while he was grazing on some delicious grass. The jump judge jumped up and quietly walked towards us so not to spook Chimi but I had already gotten there, picked up the bridle, and had the reins around his neck. Some other trainers came over to help and make sure I was ok because it was AT THE FIRST JUMP ON COURSE. I had just fallen off and hadn't gotten to jump a single jump on course.

I did my best to quickly get off the course so the next rider could go but had to wait around for the TD and EMT to check me out. I was fine, nothing more than a few bruises and didn't even hit my head in the fall. Thankfully the TD is a friend and she brought Trainer down with her in the golf cart and after being asked a few questions by the EMT, Trainer asked the most important question of all "What type of wine do you owe me?" I laughed and said "Australian Red!" Trainer said "Good! The important part of her brain is still working!"

helmet cam action of the fall

I got the clear to go back and be depressed about not getting to do SJ (though at that point I don't think I wanted to ride anymore, something was most definitely off about my horse. Not a lameness but a brainless?) This time I was that rider on the ground leading my pony. It felt like the walk of shame.

On the way back Chimi just had to have 1 more incident of course. As I was leading him down the side of the road there was a car in each lane. Of course it just happened that all 3 of us were at the same exact spot at the same exact time so the car approaching us was right next to us and Chimi leaped straight up in the air. Chimi at least has very good ground manners and never came close to touching me but it's still scary to wonder if this giant 1200lb beast is going to knock you into the road. I was so done at that point. Where the hell did my perfectly quirky but normal Chimi go?

After getting back to the trailer Chimi turned back into the perfect gentleman that he is. I stuck him on the trailer so I could eat lunch and he happily ate his hay and snoozed away. I watched some of the stadium rounds and cheered on friends. It really was a perfect day for a show and even though it didn't go the way I hoped I still had a great time. If there's one thing you can count on with horses it's that nothing goes the way you expect. I'll figure out what's going on with the Burrito but for now we'll take a couple days off and then reasses the next step!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Easter Treat Hunt from DIY Horse Ownership

So I was feeling a bit festive and decided to partake in Olivia's Easter Treat Hunt with the ponies. It was ummm.... mildly successful? 1.5 out of 3 horses actually found the treats and ate them without to much bribing!

2 different sized muffin pans make for different sized cookies!

First off the cookies!!! Part of the deal is the treats had to be homemade and I was excited to try this out. I hadn't made cookies since college (the equestrian club made horse treats one night, I thought they were supposed to be sold somewhere but not really sure how that turned out)

Yeah college!!! Go Equestrian Team!!! I'm the one of the middle squatting down by the black bucket filled with treat mix. Pic credit to Lauren from SMTT

Armed with Olivia's cookie recipe I was ready to conquer the kitchen! But there's a tiny snafu...my husband. We have a firm fast rule in the house in that I'm not allowed in his kitchen and he's not allowed in my barn, It makes for a very happy marriage otherwise....well lets just say I don't like him trying to help in the barn and he doesn't like me trying to help in the kitchen, so we stay away from those areas. It works until I want to make something!!!! But luckily said Husband is a pretty nice guy and I sent him the recipe to show him what I was planning to do. I had to run some errands and when I came back he had made the treats for me!!!! Don't give him to much credit, he just thought it'd be easier to cook them himself than clean up after me or listen to me constantly asking "where's this! Where's that? WTF does this do?" So yes, he made horse cookies for the Easter Hunt :)

Chimi wasn't sure what to think about his bunny ears and flowers

Now armed with cookies and bunny ears I found at CVS it was time to dress the ponies up and go on a hunt! I brought Chimi in and decided he would wear the ears first. Ummmm lets just say he was not amused. But being a good sport he kept them on. I moved some jumps around in my front pasture to the location of the "ring" (barn came with a grass ring but it floods anytime it rains so we just incorporated it into part of the front field. Grass is mostly Bermuda and is still a bit spotty b/c it's not hot enough yet for that type of grass so don't judge to harshly from the pictures!!!) I used the jumps to  "hide" the cookies and off we went!!! 

I had Chimi's halter on so I could lead him around the area b/c knowing my luck he'd take off up the hill and I'd be left with uneaten cookies. I sort of lead him to the cookie area and let him try and find them so it was still a "hunt". First egg we went looking for was on the jump standard and Chimi actually found the cookie! He knocked the cookie off the standard and then proceed to sniff it on the ground before actually eating it. After he finished cooking number 1 we headed over to the white barrel for cookie number 2! Aaaannnd that was a big fail. By this point he was done with the cookies and just wanted to eat grass. He did nose the cookie so I know he found it but it was not in his "flavor" at that moment. He walked off and started nibbling the grass shoots that are starting to come up. 

I sort of gave up on Chimi and just let him wander away to much on the grass and went over to the gate where Marley and Arrow were patiently waiting b/c they wanted to go out on the front field too! I put our a few more treats,  put some flowers in their hair, and let them just walk out to the front field and see if they'd find any of the cookies. 

I had high hopes for Arrow because he seemed to like the cookies the most when I tested them out on them earlier but he could of cared less about hunting for treats. But it ended up being Marley who was the super star and found 3 of the 4 treats I put out there! But after 2 of the treats she decided she didn't like them anymore and wandered off to eat grass. I did end up throwing the treats right in front of Arrow's nose and that was the only way I could get him to attempt to find any cookies. He just wanted to enjoy his afternoon and not worry about entertaining me...what a silly old man he can be :)

Arrow looking quite adorable with his flower accessory!

So over all it was a semi successful day with the treat hunting! I think my ponies would rather I feed them treats directly from my hand instead of making them search for them but overall they were good ponies and amused me for an afternoon!