Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Our Little Pumpkin

I'm so excited for my little pumpkin! Can't believe we're already at 60 days... only 280ish more to go!

I think the other boarders at the barn thought I was crazy, but I don't care because I absolutely loooove how these pictures turned out!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Princess and the Golden Bit

Retail therapy at its finest to deal with vet school? Check.

Pretty mare all decked out

I really wish I was posting more, but I'm still in the adjustment period getting into the swing of thing for the first term back of my second year of vet school! It still seems weird that I can now call myself a second year. But everything's going well despite my less than consistent riding schedule, including acing the first two midterms.

Jetta got a new browband to go on her PS bridle and I'm obsessed. It's the sparkliest thing I've ever seen, it's literally blinding in the sunshine. I love it. It looks near identical to the ones that PS of Sweden sells, minus the snaps, but it's half the price.

So sparkly

I think it looks like Jetta has a tiara with it on. She's my princess so I guess she deserved a crown finally!

The golden bit part... that's not quite as fun. I have never spent so much money on a bit before, it hurts me a little inside. After the last show I decided we really needed something different and this bit had been recommended to me by two different trainers and it has great online reviews so I decided to try it out. Jetta is a sensitive horse who can be heavy at times so it's tough to find a good bit that she a) listens to, b) doesn't throw a fit about being too "strong" and c) doesn't grind her teeth with. Too thin of a bit? We get head tossing and an open mouth. Too thick? We get teeth grinding and/or ignoring the bit (and yes, she very recently got her teeth done and they had no issues). Her two favorite bits are her HS mullen mouth ported loose ring (not dressage legal) and her D-ring waterford (also not dressage legal).

So I bought a Neue Schule verbindend snaffle. That thing better be made of literal 14k gold for the price! I scoured the internet for a year for one less than $100 used, but they were never the right size or type so a shiny new bit it was.

I'm still tentative at calling it a magic bit (which it should be for the price) but Jetta goes pretty well in it. She listens very well, but at the same time she takes a really nice contact. Obviously it hasn't fixed all of our connection issues, but I think it was a good purchase. After a little bit of fussing at the walk, she settles down and takes the perfect amount of contact, much better than she usually does, and she doesn't just bulldoze through it in transitions. So I guess we're keeping the golden bit!

And the last bit of retail therapy... the big bi-annual tack sale was last weekend and I haven't been in over a year so I decided to go. Jetta got a new turnout sheet, a fleece dressage girth to replace the one that just walked away, a new boot bag for my tall boots, another waterford bit to put on her "trail" bridle so I don't have to keep swapping it off her cross country bridle and a couple other odds and ends for friends. It was a pretty good haul!

Shopping is always the answer, right?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

RPSI Inspection

I've been planning on getting Jetta approved by the RPSI ever since I got her. Don't ask me why it's taken 8 years to finally get her there, but there was always one reason or another that I couldn't take her. She went through a terribly ugly 3-year-old year, I sprained both my MCL's, she was too skinny, I was too busy, I had no money, etc., etc.

This year there were no excuses, especially since she's gonna have a baby! The inspection was also super close to where I live, about 40 minutes away. I'd never heard of the barn before, but the host was incredibly nice responding to all of my questions. I researched it to death - how to present your horse, how to do the triangle, what my horse should wear, etc.

Luckily Jetta's mane is roached so I didn't have to worry about braiding. I trimmed her mohawk up a bit to make it look a little bit neater and not so floppy. I trimmed her tail, washed her legs and braided her forelock.

First off, all horses (except foals) are shown in a bridle. I didn't have a Newmarket lead (the Y-shaped lead chain with two clips) but luckily I own a leather lead so I found a cheap Y-connecter through Stateline tack (the actual leads are so expensive!) and used that. The reasoning being that you could keep your reins on the bridle, but you have to unhook them to let your horse go free, so it's a huge hassle if you don't have clips.

Jetta is very good in hand for the most part, so I didn't worry too much about working on that. She spent the night in her stall instead of out in her paddock due to the rain, which wasn't bad because she's supposed to be a little hot so she could show off her moves.

At the inspection, I finished filling out any paperwork that I hadn't submitted online beforehand. The North American RPSI manager was there and the judge from Germany. There were both incredibly nice. Seriously, everyone I met was so nice. I was kind of nervous my Thoroughbred was going to be looked down upon by the Warmblood people, but that was definitely not the case. Jetta was complemented on her manners because she stood tied to the trailer the entire time, I was congratulated when she passed her inspection, people discussed different stallions that would cross well with her in the future, etc. It was a very welcoming environment.

The first thing they did was explain a bit of what they're looking for. Horses are scored on a scale of 10 for 7 different areas. An average score of 7 is required for a horse to be considered "premium status" (basically they need a minimum score of 49). They explained the difference between books I and II, the German Riding Pony side, and the fact that now horses registered with RPSI is considered a Deutsch Sport Pferd (aka German Sport Horse or DSP). This is new because previously, every region of Germany had a different name for their warmbloods (for example, Zweibrucker), but now it's just DSP (there are still a few regions that don't conform to this, but over half of Germany agreed to the DSP change).

Getting her height measured

When it came my turn to go (single mares went first, then mares with foals), I stood Jetta up in front of the judge while he looked over her conformation. She was pretty impatient and while she stood nicely for the most part, she had to do her signature impatient head bob. The triangle portion went well, and then it was time to let her off the lead. I thought she was pretty good for the free portion, she did just kind of want to zoom around in the canter, but she did show off some nice trot, though I wish she had slowed down and gave a little springier trot instead of her Standardbred impression.

Love this one, she actually looks warmblood-like!

But she listened well and was easy to catch afterwards, which couldn't be said for some horses, so I was happy with her. And we passed!

Presenting my German Sport Horse... Mule

The judge's comments were that Jetta has good conformation, with nice size and good amount of bone. She had a good shoulder and fairly good neck. Her head was unfeminine (lol, she got a 6 on sex/breed type). He really liked her walk (7.5) and said she had good engagement in the trot (6.5) and canter (6), but could be more uphill. Quality of conformation, correctness and overall impression all got 6.5. She scored a total of 45.5, so not terrible, we were only 3.5 points from being premium! Her average score was a 6.5, so she was pretty close.

Overall it was a great experience and hopefully I'll be back next year with a little baby in tow!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

(Kinda) Wordless Wednesday

So I ordered some pictures! I couldn't not at least look at what photos the photographer got, even if I had to pay to get them. I emailed him and found that the $20 posting fee went towards the cost of the photos instead of adding on top of them, so I figured why not!

He only posted 9 photos of me - 2 were dressage and just not even close to what I wanted: a salute picture and an extremely awkward canter photo. Then there was 3 photos in sequence of the bank, and then the other 4 were stadium jumps which were either just a half second too late or too early. This is mostly what I expected though I have to admit I was extremely disappointed there wasn't a photo of that massive trakehner that Jetta jumped, or at least a coop!

But she looked too cute jumping off the bank to not get and I kinda liked one of the stadium pictures. Just don't look at me. I make weird faces. Look at my cute horse instead!

I'm really glad that he got these cute pictures, even if I do look like a dork. I think he did a good job with these. I've got a pretty adorable pony!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Confidence... And Lack Thereof

I have way, way too many things to post about, I'm quite behind! But we'll just have to go in chronological order.

Which brings us to cross country schooling!

Gorgeous mare

Before I left on my trip to Nicaragua, I signed us up for a derby... at Novice. Not to mention that we had only jumped once in the past year or two, and that we hadn't jumped cross country in several years. Let's just do Novice since we haven't even jumped xc that big! (where's that sarcasm font when you need it)

The night before we went cross country schooling, I schooled Jetta a couple times over a jump in our own arena, just to make sure she could still jump. She did really great and I kept jacking the jump up until it was roughly 3' and she was foot perfect, minus being a bit zoomy about it.

The next day we hauled to Inavale and schooled everything I could get the courage to do. It all looked HUGE. I don't know what it is, but a 3' stadium jump looks like no big deal, but a 2'11" xc jump looks massive and impossible to clear.

Acting like she doesn't care

But we seriously had the best cross country experience to date and I think it was one of my absolute favorite rides on Jetta. I have been thinking for a long time that maybe Jetta doesn't want to event. She doesn't particularly seem to enjoy cross country and we pretty much only have one completion at an event ever... She loves stadium and tolerates dressage so maybe those are things that we should stick with. But after our ride that day, I really think it's just confidence building and more experience that we need to be successful. We seriously did a couple Training level jumps and I didn't die!

We jumped that log into the water!
Other side of the log

We had lots of refusals, but not one of those was a dirty stop and I felt them coming all a mile away. She just needed to look at the fence and then she'd jump it. The only real issue we had was with the big bank jump down after coming out of the water, but after practicing on the little bank a couple times it was no big deal. We did a really fun bending line from a blue barn coop to an up bank, to a bigger blue barn coop. We even did this Training level hanging log jump into the water. I was blown away that Jetta would do it for me! Jetta was a little bit of a snow plow after the jumps and she did try to get away from me twice, but I never felt like I was super out of control, just that I needed to remember to sit up and half halt after the jump.

Bank we finally conquered

I was feeling a lot better after cross country schooling and looking forward to the show. Since I don't have any media from the show really, I'll just do a giant post about it too!

Can't believe we jumped this

Dressage went fairly well first thing in the morning. Jetta was a bit amped up because we tried warming up in the indoor arena while they were cleaning stall and all the four wheelers and loud noises was making her spooky so I gave up. I was expecting her to be a lot hotter during our test so I rode too conservatively. I knew we'd get comments about getting Jetta more forward from behind and over her back, but I was just happy that I didn't have a tense little fireball on my hands like our last dressage show!

I was pretty happy with our score. We got a 30.9 placing us in second place. Comments were as expected, mostly 7's with an 8 for our free walk (Jetta's favorite). Mostly about getting more bend, steadier connection and a freer back.

Our course

Cross country I was so incredibly nervous for. I walked the course and we had mostly schooled everything on there, with a couple exceptions. The down bank was the very large one which we had only schooled the small and medium ones. The trakehner was the medium sized one and we had only ever schooled the small one (also, I find them terrifying in all sizes), and the 10AB combination was a downhill combo with the first fence being a stadium fence and the second was a ditch we'd never schooled.

Trakehner of death

Overall though, it seemed pretty doable. I was nervous for the trakehner so I mentally allowed myself one refusal for it.

The first 9 fences went BEAUTIFULLY. She did refuse the trakehner, but she jumped it on the second try, so I was really happy. I thought "It's all downhill from here, the rest are easy!" Fail.

We tackled this big down bank easily!

Apparently ditches are really terrifying things and are not to be trusted. I'm not sure what it was exactly, but that ditch was a horse eating monster and we had two refusals and were eliminated. I think it was a combo of being a new jump, being the second element of a combo, and being a downhill jump that all just threw a wrench in things. I was really bummed. They let us continue so I went around the ditch to one of the big blue houses that we've jumped before... and refusal. She jumped it the second time though, so we continued to a big roll top that we had jumped before... and refusal. After we cleared it the second time I just said we were done and left. I think that was what I was most disappointed about. After our amazing confidence building schooling round, we just completely lost all confidence over that ditch. That really bummed me out.

But in the grand scheme of things, Jetta still tried really hard. She was super good about not snow plowing and didn't try to get away from me, she came back perfectly every time I asked her to, which was a huge win. I watched the three riders before me - 2 got eliminated for refusals and one was a rider pull because her horse managed to get his shoe halfway off in the middle of the course. So at least we weren't alone! It was just a bummer because I really wanted that little ribbon! There's always next time of course.

I'm hoping to get some professional pictures, but we'll see. I feel terrible saying this, but I really don't like the photographer that's there. Plus this year he's charging $20 just to look at the proofs. Which, if it was someone I liked and I had complete confidence that they'd have some awesome pictures of us I'd do it in a heartbeat, but I'm not usually impressed with his pictures, so we'll see. I'm always grateful to have a photographer at an event and I know it takes a ton of work to take and edit and post those pictures, so I'm happy to pay for them... if they're actually good pictures. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Well I was planning on doing my Nicaragua post today, but I have something way more exciting to share!

When you tell your best friend the news

Meet Merely Gold, by Mirabeau out of Gold Jet Away!

I am so incredibly excited for this baby. I didn't want to share it before she was confirmed as pregnant in case I jinxed it, and obviously there's still a lot of things that can go wrong, but we are part of the way there!

The embryo is irregularly shaped because it's 19 days old instead of the usual 14 day embryo. But it's there and no twins were present!

I had quite the time shopping for stallions with most of my top picks being deceased so that was interesting. But I've loved Mirabeau for a long time and he ticked most of my boxes for a stallion and I can't be more excited to have a baby by him!

I have quite a few more posts coming about the process we've been through so far, but I just wanted to share the good news. I'm so excited to raise a baby and I'm crossing all my fingers and toes that this pregnancy goes smoothly.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

They always break your heart

I had to say goodbye to another original horse a couple weeks ago. Jazz and Grady were my first two horses and they will always hold that special heart horse spot for me.

I sold Jazz a couple years ago to a really nice family that had a young girl wanting to do 4-H. Jazz had been leased for a couple years before that since I was in school and riding Jetta, not having time for Jazz especially since she needed a more laid back kind of life in her old age.

I started the blog after I started undergrad, so I haven't written a ton about Jazz, but she fueled my love of Appendix QH's after Grady sparked that love. She literally did everything. We did hunters, we evented, we ran barrels and poles, we did dressage, we did western and english pleasure, we did trail, we rode on the beach and trails. She ponied all my babies, she helped me pass my Level 2 in Parelli, we rode bareback and bridleless, I ground drove her (never actually got a cart though), I taught countless beginner lessons on her. She was the horse that got me into dressage in the first place.

She was never a cuddly horse, didn't particularly enjoy being groomed and when I first got her, I really didn't like her. My trainer was the one that convinced my parents to get her for me as my show horse since Grady didn't quite have it in him to be the competitive all-around horse that I wanted. But I was so lucky to have her.

All about those carrots

Grady, Jazz and Tux all together
Her owners messaged me a couple days before I left for my trip saying that they were planning on putting her down the coming week. She'd been lame for a while and it kept getting worse and worse. The vet and chiropractor had no answers and she was on a double dose of pain meds, but still hurting. They thought maybe she had bone cancer. Luckily I was able to drive up and say goodbye. It was hard, saying goodbye is never easy, even when she hadn't been "my" horse for years. I think the worst part was knowing she was in pain and that I couldn't fix it, even after all she'd done for me.

She was still not cuddly, though she ate her 5 pounds of carrots with gusto. We spent a little over an hour with her, just giving her carrots, scritches and kisses. She still looked pretty good, though supposedly she'd been steadily losing weight. I could have spent all day just sitting in the pasture with her, so it was hard to leave her to make the 2-hour drive back home. I kissed her and held her head in my arms, even though she has always disliked that, she at least tolerated it for me. I asked her to give Grady a nuzzle from me, they always were the two horses that seemed best suited together. One of the hardest things after putting Grady down was bringing Jazz home from a lessor and turning her out in the pasture and watching her whinny and trot around looking for Grady. He was the constant in both of our lives.

Horses always break your heart. Even after 13 years of Jazz being in my life, it's still not long enough. I'm really glad she's not in pain any more, but that doesn't make saying goodbye any easier.


"Treats, not kisses, go here"