Monday, August 6, 2018

(Kinda) Back to Work

After our last show, Jetta has been kinda great. I was pretty frustrated with our rides at the show since I know we are both capable of so much better. My ride after the show we even ran through a test in full (which I never do) to see if there was any bracing happening like it happened at the show... There was none, she was soft and compliant the whole test.

This is definitely not a new problem. One of the last dressage shows we went to before Jetta got pregnant she was AWFUL - I felt like our whole test was basically a barely controlled bolt, she was running through and ignoring my aids. I walked out of the ring knowing we deserved a 50-something % and a low placing... then we miraculously pulled off a mid-60 score landing us in 2nd place. So obviously her being a freight train doesn't look as bad as it feels, but we're never going to be able to progress in our training if we don't get it under control.

But her neck is starting to muscle nicely!
Overall though, I feel like I finally have my pre-baby horse back, the one who is ready to school second level and everything. She's by no means perfect at home, but we're definitely improving. She's getting steadier in the contact, her trot feels really nice most of the time, and our canter-trot downward transition is kinda there. Two things we're struggling with right now, oddly enough, is our stretchy trot - Jetta is willing to stretch down, but kinda takes off - and our right bend disappeared. Not sure where it went, but I think it's a me thing, that I'm hanging on my outside rein too much, so we've been working on that. Our lengthened canter to working canter transition is still very resistant, so we're still playing with that a lot while trying to not let her get used to a big fast canter all of the time.

I haven't ridden her in the verbindend bit in a long time - I thought it might be our magic bit when I first bought it, but over time it was just a little too much bit for schooling at home. I put it aside to use possibly just at shows and then forgot about it. I pulled it back out again for the first time in forever and tried a ride in it and I'm not sure it was any better than the Myler. I think I need at least one more ride in it to decide if it's going to be a useful bit just to use in a show environment, so fingers crossed!

I'm trying to figure out how to budget some more shows into our schedule, but it's really hard since I'm not working right now and of course it's tough to schedule around 4th year rotations, but I'm hoping there'll be at least a couple shows in the books for us! Of course, I'm really wanting to ride lots right now since it seems we're on the upward swing in our training at the moment, but my rotation at the humane society is almost 2 hours away from home so I've been staying in the dorms which is a huge bummer. I miss my ponies, but I at least get to see them on the weekends!

Also, I went on this hike and it was amazing

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Birthday Girl

I can't believe that one year ago (on the 27th officially) I got to welcome my sweet bouncing baby buckskin girl into the world! I had been wanting to breed FOREVER and still somewhat regret not breeding my amazing appendix QH mare years ago (I recently saw a 4 year old with almost the same cross - same stallion that I wanted at the time with the same breed of mare - and I swooned!)

I could not be happier with my little mini Jetta filly - she is the prettiest little thing with a great brain and I can't wait to see where the future takes us! Of course I had to give my baby a ridiculous birthday party. I made her a cake by putting water in her normal grain, dicing up a couple apples into it and then squishing it into the shape of a cake. I drizzled a tiny bit of molasses on it and then stuck some more apples on it. Maisie LOVES apples but hasn't quite figured out carrots yet so it was just apple-flavored this year and she thought the cake was delicious! (she can be really picky)

It was cute but also looked like a pile of dirt


Marge the sheep is a party crasher

She didn't even care about the party hat!

Sparkles the goat was polite about sharing the cake

I have the most tolerant boyfriend!

Our new roommate even participated! (Hopefully she didn't judge me too much lol)

This girl is the best
Can't believe I already have a yearling on my hands!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

What an Ordeal

We went for a trail ride yesterday which was AWESOME. I finally made it to WM park which was closed last time I tried. This time I scrutinized the website and didn't see anything about closures so off we went. The ride was great. We went around 8 miles, didn't see a single person, did a little swimming. Super fun.

The drive home was not super fun. About halfway home on the interstate the trailer started wobbling and I looked in the rear view mirror to see pieces of tire flying. A couple people frantically waved at me from their vehicles (which I appreciated! I'm always nervous I won't notice if I blow a tire - but it was super obvious). I made it almost another mile to an off ramp and parked on the side and got to work changing out the tire.

Giant wheat field

I was set for this - I am an independent horse woman and I can change a tire! Except, it was super hot. Like not in the 90s anymore, but it was at least 86 degrees with no shade. And I couldn't get the last dang lug nut undone and all these guys in jacked up trucks were driving past me without stopping while I was kicking and throwing all my body weight on the stupid tire iron to get it to turn.

My dork blowing bubbles

I was about to give up and throw the stupid tire iron away but finally got it off. Of course at that moment a guy in a little Ford Focus pulled over (car twins!) and asked if I was ok or needed help. At that point I was covered in dirt from getting on the ground and absolutely dripping sweat - it was basically a river of sweat at that point - and I desperately needed a water break so I said sure and he helpfully put my spare tire on for me. He said that I'd already done the hard part, which I agreed, he'd shown up just a couple minutes too late! I was so thankful for him stopping, I really, really appreciated it!

I thought these plants looked kinda prehistoric lol

I cheerfully got back on the interstate only to look in the rear view at a giant cloud of smoke coming from the spare tire. I am equipped to change a tire, I am not equipped to deal with a fire on the horse trailer! I quickly pulled to the side of the highway and was at a loss for what to do. I called Les Schwab since they have a roadside tire repair thing, but they charge a $48 service charge, then $105 an hour, plus the amount that the tire costs. And I had 30 minutes to decide if I needed them because they don't take calls after 5pm (of course, right when they are needed) and they were worried I had something wrong with my trailer axle since the spare wasn't working.

Pickin' blackberries

I ended up calling my barn owner because I couldn't think of anyone who would be available and have access to a horse trailer and truck. By some miracle she wasn't working and agreed to come get Jetta so I could figure out what to do. By that point I was starting to have a panic attack - I didn't know how to get my trailer home on 3 tires, AAA wouldn't help me because I didn't have RV coverage and refused to upgrade me because I had a current roadside claim, it was after 5pm, and I needed to unload my horse on the side of a very busy I-5. And my phone was dying. I frantically called the BF who magically was also just getting off work and he drove out.

I am so, so lucky to have great friends and support network!

Jetta is A SAINT. She earned herself so many cookies yesterday - as much as I complain about her I am so lucky to have her. She was the most perfect angel possible and I am so glad I instilled a good trailering ability with her. If your horses don't load well I really, really urge you to teach them (or find someone else to do so!) to self load regardless of the situation and practice on trailers that aren't yours. It is an invaluable skill. Jetta stood perfectly still in the trailer for the 2ish hours that we changed tires and then waited for help. When my BO got there to help, I was so worried. Especially because Jetta had never used a ramp for a trailer. I marched Jetta up to the ramp, she snorted at it, I circled her back and marched her right onto the trailer. Easy peasy (minus the fact that I was literally shaking I was so nervous).

That taken care of, we assessed the situation and decided to try a new tire and see what happened. Of course it was now after 6pm by that point so the only place we could find with my tire in stock was Wal-Mart tire center. My wonderful BF drove over and got the tire only to find that there was a 3 hour waiting time just to take 5 minutes to put the tire on the wheel... he called around and found another tire shop that was still open for another 30 minutes and hightailed it over there across town and they whipped the tire on in under 4 minutes! What an awesome place.

New tire on, it worked perfectly and I was able to get the trailer home safe and sound. What. A. Day. I really hope I never have to do that again.

I am now upgrading my trailering supplies to include a fire extinguisher because who knows when that might come in handy. I'm getting a new spare tire that will actually work. And I will never trailer without my phone charger (and/or possibly a plug-in battery charger) again because if I get stranded without a phone I am screwed. I sat on the side of I-5 for almost 3 hours with not a single person stopping. I get that it's a busy highway, but I was a tiny bit surprised that no one stopped.

If you don't have a TrailerAid I highly, HIGHLY recommend you get one. I can't think of a better $40 spent. Seriously.

Such a lifesaver!
Does anyone else have any trailering supplies they consider a requirement for when they haul horses? And I'm considering getting US Rider coverage since AAA is absolutely worthless. Has anyone used them and what was your experience?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Friday Field Trip

My truck is finally fixed!! I'm so happy to be mobile again! To celebrate, I decided that it was time to take Maisie on another field trip to Jetta's barn. The plan was to start teaching her how to pony, but it didn't quite work out...

Maisie loaded up and hauled perfectly. When we got to the barn, I left her in the trailer while I got Jetta out of the field. I tied Jetta to the trailer and unloaded and tied Maisie next to her. I was starting to tack up Jetta when she untied herself and took off, high tailing it back to the pasture. I was about to go after her when a GIANT horse fly started buzzing around Maisie. I couldn't decide what to do first, but I decided that Jetta wasn't going anywhere now that she was grazing back by her pasture and I really didn't want Maisie to get bit and freak out, so I stuck Maisie in her stall and retrieved Jetta. Stinker - you'd think the 12 year old would act better behaved than the 12 month old...

That side eye though

I tacked Jetta up and lunged her really quickly and discovered we had a problem - the sprinkler was going in the arena and I didn't know how to dismantle it so I could shut the arena door. I definitely wasn't going to try ponying for the first time in a space where Maisie could take off and make a run for it out of the arena. So I stuck Jetta in the cross ties and played with Maisie a bit. We walked around the property and eventually made it out to the field where the jumps were set.

Discovering how cool fans are

Maisie didn't even glance at the poles, but walked over them calmly and easily. I was so proud! We did that a few times and ended with walking over a tiny crossrail jump - baby's first jump!


By the time we finished walking around it was super hot (almost in the 90's) and the sprinkler in the arena still wasn't done. So I decided that this was a good opportunity for Maisie's first bath and then I stuck her in the cross ties while I untacked Jetta. She was great! She did not like the bath at all (shocker), but stood fairly nicely while I sprayed her neck and shoulders.

Still not sure about cross ties

Overall, I was super proud of my little nugget and next time we will definitely try ponying!

I tried to take a confo pic because she's finally starting to look like a horse! But nope- llama baby

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Trail Ride 'Tastic

Yesterday was the last day that I had the borrowed truck so I decided a trail ride was in order! While I love all the trails that are local to me, I had a free day and I love going places that are different than what I normally have access to, so I decided a trip to WM park was just what I needed!

Mondays are rough

Have to get a selfie with my sweet sleepy girl

I checked the website and calendar to make sure there weren't any special events happening and loaded up, and off we went! It's not super close... about just over an hour drive. I rolled in and was about to put money in the pay meter... when a park ranger rolled up and told me that the majority of the park was closed for construction on the culver and roads that access the equestrian portion. Pedestrians could still use the parks, just not horses.

I was crushed. I had even checked the website and everything (I went back and looked at it again - and there was a tiny little banner that I had missed stating that there was construction). Boooooo. I was upset that I had driven so far for nothing. Just for the heck of it, I put another park into my phone's navigation. This park was in the complete opposite direction of where I'd come from, but it was only 1.5 hours from my current location. Just about 20 minutes farther than it'd be going home. I shoved some treats at Jetta and headed to the other park.

We made it to the other park and I unloaded Jetta and let her graze for a bit in compensation for the crazy long trailer ride she'd just been on.

We ended up having a lovely trail ride. I think Jetta was tired from the show, so she was happy to just walk the trails, though we did do a little bit of trotting and cantering. I love this park, it's the one I grew up going to a lot and I have a ton of super fun memories of long afternoons exploring with friends or solo, horse swimming, picnics, and all of my horses I've owned in my life had been there at one time or another.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Midsummer Night's Dream

I'm back with a show update! I have a few weeks off of clinics this summer, so I decided I might as well squeeze some showing in and this is usually one of my favorite shows to go to all year.

It was quite the ordeal getting things figured out for this show - my truck is still broken and I thought it would be fixed by now, I was going to borrow my dad's truck but then he accidentally took the keys with him when he drove over the mountains for the weekend, so I had to find a truck the day before the show. My 3 local options were all out - one friend had her truck currently in Canada for an externship, another was half disassembled because they're putting a flat bed on it, and the other didn't respond to my text because they're in one of the most insane rotations at school. Luckily the BF's parents have multiple trucks and said I could borrow one, not ideal since it was an hour and a half drive to get the truck (one way), but it was worth it!

The morning started off fairly excitingly when I went to load Jetta in the trailer, only to open the door and find a HUGE wasp nest in the trailer. I ran back inside and luckily another lady was at the barn and had it covered. I call her the "barn mom" for a reason. She grabbed some wasp spray and a broom and went out and sprayed it all down, killed all the bees and swept all of the nests out for me! It was awesome - I'm not allergic to bees but I am a chicken about them and I will run away from them, most likely screaming.

Partially destroyed but it was HUGE!

We did First-1 and First-2 at this show. I decided to suck it up and do both First level tests since I really feel like we have Training level down and we need to get it together to do First level. Typically I try to keep my expectations low for a show because I'm super competitive and I don't want to get bummed out if I don't do well. My usual goals are - don't fall off and stay inside the dressage ring! But for this show, my goals were to remember my tests (last show I had a reader for first level) and I really, really wanted a 65% on at least one test.

Jetta has been SO good all week. All of a sudden her canter has turned around and started feeling good instead of the weird funk we were in. She started being steady in the contact, listening to half-halts, and for the most part was carrying herself nicely. I was really looking forward to the show!

She warmed up pretty hot and wanting to either run or fall on her forehand. I got on pretty early to school her and thought we worked through things fairly well. She decided she no longer wanted to bend right, which I have no idea where that came from, and couldn't get her to change her mind about only bending left. We got in the arena and immediately the bell was rang for us to start, so I was bummed that Jetta didn't get to look around (she's never been to this barn) because the arena has 6 big openings around the sides so it's pretty weird for horses who aren't used to it to see people's heads strolling by or horses and cars all around.

Our test was tense, Jetta wanted to run through my aids, and half halts were forgotten. It was not helped by the fact that some sort of party was happening at the entrance of the arena where there is a sitting area for spectators - everyone was cheering, excitedly and loudly talking, wine bottles were popped, and paper bags were being rustled. Not the ideal environment for a hot spooky horse in a dressage test.

I was pretty bummed with how the test went. Unfortunately we didn't have time after to school more because I had to go right back in after one rider went. I had a couple minutes to memorize the next test, and then we were on.

This time I immediately trotted and did several trot-halt-trot transitions before the bell rang to try to get Jetta thinking and not pulling. I definitely think it helped a bit. For First-2 I didn't let Jetta get as forward in our lengthening trot and canters because she was pulling too much on me in the first test, so I tried to keep her soft but at least show a little bit of difference. I came out of the test feeling much better about that ride than the other one.

It's funny how every time I think a test went awful and the other one was better, the judge thinks the opposite.

We scored a 64.8% on the First-1 test. An improvement from our last show, both in score (we got a 64.2%) and how it felt to ride. We got a 7 for both halts, a 7.5 for one of the 10-meter half circles, a 7 on our trot-walk transition, an 8 on our free walk, and crazily enough, a 7.5 on our last canter-trot transition. Our comments were mostly how Jetta's gaits were "choppy" and that I needed to sit up (Jetta was yanking me out of the tack the majority of the ride - I'm disappointed in myself for not just giving her a big half-halt and sitting up).

Hanging out after our tests

First-2, also disappointing, got a 61.56%. I really thought this one would have scored better, but oh well. I was extremely bummed out about this test because this is a judge that consistently gives ridiculously high scores... I can't imagine how low it wouldv'e been with a judge that scored more normally. I thought our leg yields were attentive and accurate but she didn't like them - one of them was "crooked" and the other "leads with haunch all of the way". I wish we had a mirror at our barn because they really did feel straight to me! We did get a 7.7 for our walk, and an 8.0 for our free walk again. One of the lengthened canters, one 15 meter canter circle, and our final halt all got a 7. Jetta was not interested at all in doing a stretchy trot circle so we got dinged on that too. Final remarks were: "Capable pair! A bit too much in jumper position, with dressage position, she will be more supple, cadenced, and have more suspension". I wish!

Overall, this show made me unsure about my plan to do a recognized show. If we can't even get mid-60's at a league show (with a really lenient judge), I really think it would be a waste of money to do a recognized show when I'm trying to get scores for my bronze medal. I was pretty bummed with this show, we still have a ton of work to do at home obviously and so far the work we are putting in just hasn't shown yet.

The good stuff - I'm happy that I was able to memorize both tests! For some reason, maybe just being out of practice, it's been hard for me to memorize the First level tests. Jetta didn't canter in any of our trot lengthenings, or trot in our free walk. While she was spooky about the cars, and horses walking past the arena windows, and the noisy people, she didn't leap out of the arena or bolt. I was happy(ish) with our second test's geometry and all but one of the downward transitions. We still have a long way to go, but at least the work at home is getting better!

Congrats if you made it this far and sorry for the mostly picture-less post! I didn't know anyone well enough to pester them into taking pictures and there were no photographers at this show. Hopefully next time!