Monday, October 31, 2016

Event Recap: Haunter Hunter Pace

Yesterday I got to experience my first hunter pace -- guys, now I get what all the hype is about! Holy cow did I have a great time!!
All smiles!
My good friend Johanna and I signed up to ride in the Hilltopper division, so jumps optional. The event was held at Fox Run, which is one of my FAVORITE venues. Super gorgeous, well-maintained venue, they're always super organized, and it's just awesome. They always hold their hunter pace at the end of October, and they go all-out decorating the woods with a haunted theme! They also have a field full of cross country jumps (most of which we skipped, haha). There were prizes for both jumping and hilltoppers divisions for optimum time, fastest time, slowest time, oldest pair, youngest pair, and also prizes for best costumes! Hanna and I were fairly boring and just wore jack o' lantern t-shirts and painted jack o' lanterns on the horses (Hanna is a MUCH better artist than me, thankfully, lol). But some of the other groups went all out and had amazing costumes! I also got to FINALLY meet up with another blogger and her handsome steed, Kaity and Leo!
Unenthused about our monochrome colors today haha.

Hanna brought her mare Lily over to my house Saturday night, and I brought Ruby home from ACS so we could get an early start on Sunday. We had the trailer all packed and ready the night before, the girls were pretty clean and loaded up like champs, and off we went! We had an easy trip up to Fox Run, and got directed into the parking -- got the girls unloaded and settled with hay bags and water buckets, and checked in. After the girls got painted with their decorations, we tacked up and headed over to the outdoor arena to warm up before we headed out. I was absolutely thrilled with Ruby -- she gave me some lovely long and low trot, and then a very hunter-y canter! Just very nice and soft and relaxed -- she's starting to be comfortable in pretty much any venue, and that makes me so happy! While we were waiting to head out, she got an eyefull of some people in costumes jumping in the cross country field, and she got a little bug-eyed, haha, but once we got out on the trail she settled right down.

I'm an idiot and forgot to start my trail app, so I don't know exactly how far we rode (nor do I have a fun GPS map!), but Hanna and I finished at 1:03 and and change, and optimum time in our division ended up being 1:11 -- so we were close! Not close enough to win anything, but that's okay, we had a blast anyway. Ruby crossed the creek like a champ, hopped over four or five small cross country jumps, crossed a bridge, and gave me nice adjustable canter and always came back to walk on the buckle when I asked. Neither horse seemed to mind any of the outlandishly awesome decorations (although I'll admit to getting startled when I glanced over into a tree and Shrek's head was staring back at me from a gap in the trunk haha). After we finished riding, there was delicious chili and hot dogs, and the option to purchase amazing cupcakes from the Magnificent Miss D's cupcake trailer!
#sorrynotsorry for the blurry photo overload!
After lots of chit chatting with friends and hanging out, we finally packed up and made the trek back to my house. Hanna and Lily got packed back up and headed home, and I ran Ruby back to ACS where she got some extra electrolytes and a nice warm bath. I made sure she had lots of water available to her at the trailer and she wore my BOT quick wraps on the drive and while she stood at the trailer (I only have the one set, so I just switched them every hour or so), so hopefully she will come out of the hunter pace a little better than she did after our trail ride last weekend.
Sneak peek of something fun I'll be reviewing soon!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Pondering

Well, I've given the post I had drafted about Monday up to the Facebook gremlins -- I doubt it will ever be recovered! Which is actually fine, because in thinking about the rewrite, I actually have a theory. But let me back up and start from the beginning. Monday I had great intentions to be super productive, so I hurried home from work and saddled the baby horse. She started off great on the lunge, but then was kind of an idiotic giraffe under saddle. I was baffled, because the bit and bridle are the same ones I typically use (I have three bridles set up for her right now with variations of French link snaffles, trying to find one that she likes, but this is the main one). When she started giraffing, I tried variations of different amount of contact, ranging from absolutely none (on the buckle) to more than I've ever used with her (still probably less than a real dressage rider, haha). Nothing seemed to change the amount of giraffing, so I ended the ride a little perplexed.
 
 
 
One of the few usable photos from the ride (mostly because I make it a habit to NOT post giraffe photos to FB haha).
Aside from that, everything else went relatively smoothly. Steering and stopping were on point, and we only had one head fling in a downward transition. During several situations that could have ended poorly (neighbors dogs popping through the fence and our newest half-tamed feral cat running around the arena), she looked to me for guidance instead of panicking and baby flailing. She picked up both leads and damned if the left lead canter didn't leave me grinning like an absolute fool with how floaty it was. She also stood pretty well for me to get on, so at least we made some progress towards our October goals! But the head swinging thing had me confused and also annoyed, since you know, I just dropped off entries for her first under saddle show. In a week.
 

However, upon further reflection... one thing did change this ride -- I had DH running braid her mane. Partially because it annoys me that it falls on both sides, and partially so she would look better in the photos (so vain, haha). But now that I think about it, she's never worked with her mane braided. It was fairly loose (he was in a hurry), but I imagine it still might have been a sensation she wasn't used to? The only reason that even occurred to me was because SprinklerBandits posted this past summer pondering whether tight braids increased the tension she had to deal with at shows. So now I kind of want to ride Cinna again this weekend (without braiding) in the same bridle, and see what I get. It's possible that I'm insane and she was just having an off day. But if for some reason she was uncomfortable with the braids, I'm glad I found that out now and not the day of the show! If it is the braids, I forsee a LOT of work in braids this summer.... My fingers are cramping just thinking about it. On the plus side, the show in a week is a schooling show so braids are optional.
Don't ask me why I thought putting my hands a mile apart would help.... I don't have an answer for that.

The rest of my week was less productive than I'd hoped, because later Monday night I stepped on a thumbtack barefoot and ended up with it embedded pretty much flush to my skin. Thankfully mom was over for dinner and was able to pry it out, but that kind of put a damper on pretty much everything that involved me being on my feet for the rest of the week. I guess the silver lining is that my tetanus booster is up to date, so at least we didn't have to add that to the pile!
 

Wednesday was a walk work only day for Ruby, because I was grumpy and not feeling well. Of course, her walk is so much fun and we played with some lateral work and TotF so by the end of the ride my mood was much improved.

Thursday I got a fun package in the mail from Riding Warehouse (details to come later), and also scored what I am hoping will be my new show boots (mighttttt have already posted a teaser on IG haha). This weekend we are supposed to have unseasonably warm and lovely weather for the Haunted Hunter Pace I'm participating in, so hopefully I will have lots of fun content and media for you next week!
 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Oops!

Yesterday was my 100th post -- I suppose I should have been paying a little more attention and worked a little harder on something good for you guys! haha.
Even though this is 101, haha.
I had a post written up for this morning, but unfortunately I drafted it in Facebook Notes, and when I got home last night and tried to copy it over to edit and schedule, Notes wasn't working. Then my computer spazzed about finishing the photo editing. It had already been a really long (aka frustrating) day, so I said fuck it and sat in the hot tub with half a bottle of wine and a book instead.
So you get this pitiful excuse for an update, and some of the few decent pictures of my ride. I've attempted to contact the FB gremlins to see if my draft can be recovered, but if not I guess I'll be stuck rewriting it! Grrrrr.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Blog Hop: October 10 Questions

As always, thanks to L. Williams for a set of questions that makes me think outside the box a little! (And also give me something to write about when I'm either too lazy to blog or have no new good media)

What do you consider “jumping high” for yourself? 
Since I don’t really jump anymore, even baby crossrails seem high to me now! Back when I was jumping, I did take Jack over a few 3' jumps that terrified me, but we got over them. 

What are your short term goals for riding? Do you think you’ll reach them? 
Turn Cinna into an adequate W/T/C solid citizen and get her out to a few shows. I think that’s a very attainable goal that I should be able to manage in the next year or so. 
She's coming along....

Long term goals for riding? Do you think you’ll reach them? 
Honestly my long term goals are kind of fuzzy at the moment. I’d like to find a trainer and get into a regular lesson program, and start showing recognized shows. I’d love to have both girls going really solidly so they could compete in some breed shows (Regionals, Nationals, and even maybe the Andalusian World Cup!). Mostly I just want to keep enjoying my horses. I had just as much fun on a 2.5 hour trail ride last weekend as I did at any horse show I’ve ever been to. So while my goals might change over time, I just want to keep doing what I love. I think continuing to enjoy whatever I’m doing with my horses long-term is very attainable – the rest, who knows. Currently I’m limited by finances more than anything else, and I'm not sure that will change in the foreseeable future.

How many barns have you been at in your riding career? 
In terms of boarding barns, three. I’ve kept horses with a few private farms (where I was the only boarder) and at my own place. In terms of riding with a trainer at a barn, never. 
Panda is king of the rock mountain.

How many different trainers have you been with in your riding career? 
While I’ve had infrequent lessons over the years, I’ve only had two trainers that I rode with more than three or four times.

Ever worked at a barn? What did you do? 
I’ve worked off part of my board at two of the three barns I boarded at. The first barn was just stalls. Now I do stalls, feeding, scrubbing buckets, basically whatever needs to be done. 
#sweaterweather is upon us.

Scariest thing that has happened at your barn? 
Nothing is really coming to mind honestly. Once at the previous barn I boarded at, one night while a group lesson was being conducted in the arena, the owner of the facility (who lived in an apartment in the barn) attempted to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head. I wasn't there at the time, but obviously it was terrifying for the lesson kids. They had to LifeFlight him out so I'm sure having a helicopter land in the field adjacent to the barn was also scary for the horses. 

Have you ever given a lesson? What level was the rider? 
I’m barely qualified to ride myself most days, so I’ve never given anyone else lessons. Unless you count occasionally yelling at DH. But I’m not getting paid for that, sooooooo. 
He doesn't listen well anyway.

What is your opinion on the accuracy of critiquing riders online? 
I think it’s very easy for photos to be deceptive, and I find that frequently people who are very vocally hypercritical of others typically have minimal skills themselves. There’s a FB group I’m a member of that has several particularly hateful people who have a vendetta against UL dressage riders like Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester. These people can’t ride their way out of a paper bag, but they sit around tearing down the riding of Olympians. I’m certainly not saying that being an Olympian should exempt you from criticism, but sometimes the loudest voices have the least useful things to say. That being said, I would put myself in the category of those who can’t ride their way out of a paper bag, so I try to refrain from criticizing the riding of others and focus on myself :)
*Edited to add* I mean just normal critiques of photos, not something obviously off like the situation with ML where she is jumping around with blood streaming from her horses mouth :( 

What is the ideal height of a horse for you? 
About 16 hands with some body to them – Tres was a smidge too short, Topaz was the perfect height but a little too wide, Ruby is about perfect (although I know she’s taller than 16 hands), and Cinna should be pretty well perfect as well when she finishes growing.