Monday, April 29, 2013

Follow Up

So for follow up to yesterday's post.

The things I need to work on with Jetta:

  • Steadier in the bridle
    • I thought we improved a lot in this respect since our last show, but obviously we aren't 100% confirmed. I think what will help is having a little bit quieter hands and seat (maybe I need to finally get some of those FITS breeches and glue my butt to the saddle!) and a little bit stronger leg to get her to stay consistent in the bridle.
  • Better trot lengthenings
    • While you can't see our lengthenings in the video at the canter, I think those are the bomb, even though this particular judge didn't like them (the last one did though). Our trot lengthenings however still need a lot of work. Jetta needs to push more with her hind end and I'd like to see more "air time" in our trot during the lengthenings. I'm definitely doing to ask TS to help us with these the next time I have a lesson with her, but I'm open to suggestions on how to improve the lengthened trot. Right now, I'm thinking lots of transitions within the trot, from collected to working to lengthened trot to help her rock her weight back more.  
  • Me sitting up and back more
    • First order of business = chiropractor. As I sit here hunched over because sitting up straight makes my back hurt, lol. Then I'm going to dig out my Equifit Shoulders Back contraption so at least I have a reminder to sit back. Then obviously just practice, practice, practice. 
  • Those dang 10m half circles
    • I don't know what it is about them but we can do a full 10m circle relatively well but ask us to do two half circles and we make them uneven and wonky so we just need to fine tune those as well. 
 Some "screen shots" from the video:

looking fancy in the corner

lengthened trot

Things that I was really happy with:

  • Our canter transitions. SO MUCH BETTER! Especially the one to the right because that's our awful direction. But it was so nice this time around. Still a little bit sassy with the ears pinned and a tail swish, but I'll take it because we didn't have a rocket launch or buck going into it. 
  • Our stretchy trot circle was also much improved, but could still use a little bit of work having Jetta stretch more out with her nose and also me sitting back more. Also, working on maintaining an even tempo. 
  • Jetta's overall relaxation for this test was way better this time around. I think a lot of it was the better footing but she was just cool and collected for the whole test pretty much so I was proud of her for that. 

 And I forgot to post about our placings yesterday. We got a first place out of three in our Training Level Test 3 and a second place out of three in our First Level Test 1. I thought it was amusing that we had recycled ribbons and this was our second place ribbon:

My dorky horse apparently looks like a mule

And also some follow up from Rolex - I'm so happy that Quimbo with Andrew Nicholson won! I watched all of the dressage rides and Quimbo was one of my favorites. When I heard that he'd done so well on cross country I was definitely rooting for him to win! He's adorable (the horse of course) and it's neat that he won his first four star event!

Image: Chronicle of the Horse
Plus how can you not root for someone who makes it look that easy?! I'm pretty sure if I was taking that jump I'd be holding onto both reins for dear life probably screaming, lol.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Grumpy Cat

The show went pretty well today. I was happy with how Jetta did and thought we improved in some areas a lot compared to our last dressage show. The judge however, did not agree.

I'd never ridden with this judge before and she was TOUGH. She basically didn't like anything we did. Except for our free walk. I don't know how you couldn't like Jetta's free walk so there's that. Here's how I pictured her:

I'm not sure if she was grumpy or not, but her scores sure seemed like it. I saw quite a few scores in the 50% range and not one score over 65%. Which is not usually what you see at a league show...

Here's the breakdown of our tests:

Training Test 3

Jetta was okay for this one but she was definitely a little looky in areas and she stiffened and came above the bit a couple times. It was just kind of a meh ride, though I felt for sure that we'd at least get the same score or better than our last show because her canter transitions were a million times better (save for trying to canter in one corner when I didn't ask) and our little serpentines were much bendier too. We got 7's on both halts (apparently those were both good though she wrote "to left" on both). Except for our free walk (an 8), everything else was 6's and 6.5. Comments were that she canter was stiff, unbalanced, our transitions were unbalanced and fussy, we were counter flexed at C (because Jetta was busy eyeing the judges stand - a table set up in the back of a truck with a canopy overhead) and while I thought we had one of our best stretchy trots to date in a show, we scored a 6 because she was inconsistent in her tempo. Phooey. We got a 7 for gaits, a 6.5 for impulsion, 6 for submission, 6.5 for rider's position and seat (saying that I leaned too far forward. Guilty as charged). A 6 for Rider's aids with no comment (I want to know why!) and 6.5 for Harmony. Our final comment was: "Great walk! Pleasant picture but many balance and positioning errors when executing the figures and performing transitions." Ok, I guess that's not the worst comment I could ever receive, but many?  I thought there were only a few bobbles.

We scored a 64.6% so we didn't improve at all from our last show, actually going down 1.2%. That wasn't a huge deal because I knew we'd had many a few bobbles and it wasn't our best, despite at least feeling improved.

Looking cute

First Level Test 1

For some reason I was SUPER nervous for this test. I think in part because I forgot an element of the test last time and I was worried I'd forget it again. I needn't have worried though, this test went awesome! It felt like we really had it together, all of the movements were just flowing into one another, I knew what was coming up next and Jetta was responsive and well behaved.

The judge didn't agree with my assessment.

Again, 7's on both halts with the same comment of being to the left. Our free walk we also scored an 8 again. Everything else was mostly 5.5 and 6's with a couple 6.5's. Bummer. Our comments were that Jetta's was quikening her stride instead of lengthening, that she didn't show much stretch in our stretchy trot circle, our transitions were "muddy", "stiff" or "lurching". She didn't like our circles or corners and said that her haunches were to the inside or that she was falling in/out. We got a 7 again for gaits, a 5.5 for impulsion with suppleness of the back and engadgement of the hq underlined. A 6 on submission, a 6.5 on rider's position with the same comment as before, a 6 on rider's aids and a 6.5 on harmony.

So that was a bummer to say the least - we got a score of 62.41%, which is the EXACT score from our previous test even though this one went so much better. What really got me though was the comment: "Good energy, but rider over-rides movements. Focus on the task at hand rather than run from one place to another... it's causing your horse to constantly chase his balance."

I have to say that I completely disagree with this comment. Plus, my horse is a her. I know we need to work on balance, that's a given. But I felt like I did very well moving from movement to movement. I was "in the zone" and half way through my test I even started smiling because I was so happy with how it was going. I felt like I rode each figure well and set her up for the next one instead of focusing so much on one movement only to have the next one sneak up on us and not be prepared for it.

We did get it on video, though with my mom's video taping skills that may or may not have been helpful. But it lets you get the gist of things and I can at least compare it to our last video of the same test.

Feedback welcome, as always :)

Overall, I was pleased with Jetta. I felt like we improved a lot (just go back to my post from the last dressage show and watch the video. So much better this time!). And it's not the end of the world not to get the score I wanted, it just means we have all summer to work on it and show to try and get that 65% at first level that I'm aiming for!

Also another note. In my defense for my position, yes I have bad equitation when riding Jetta (just Jetta for some reason...) but I was trying so hard today! My mom was there being my helper and she was helping me out by reminding me to sit back and put my shoulders back. I think I just need some invisible person to sit behind me and poke me between the shoulder blades every couple of seconds. Unfortunately, yesterday I messed up my back and it's killing me now. I must have a pinched nerve in my lower spine because it's sending shooting pains down my legs. It's been miserable. But I'm still functional even though a chiro visit is definitely in order and after watching Rolex riders - with separated shoulders, broken fingers and messed up ankles - ride beautifully and bravely I figured I could do the same :) Just not quite as beautifully obviously...

And speaking of Rolex, Hillary over at Equestrian at Hart is having a contest! And she has some awesome old Rolex Volunteer t-shirts she's giving away! So go enter (or not, because then that'd leave better chances for me to get one!)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Dressage? What Dressage?

Soooo, we have a dressage show on Sunday. And here's what we've been doing the past week+:

Monday - jumping
Tuesday - off
Wednesday - lunge
Thursday - off
Friday - off
Saturday - ride in jump saddle
Sunday - jumping show
Monday - off
Tuesday - off
Wednesday - trail ride
Thursday - off

Yeah. I've been a bad rider, meaning we've got two days to smooth out any tough spots in our dressage tests. Sigh. We did work on a lot of elements that we were having trouble with after the last dressage show, so I think we still can have a good ride and hopefully improve on our scores from last time. The only thing I'm worried about is our lengthenings in the trot because recently Jetta has decided half way through the lengthening to canter.

Hopefully we can still improve upon this!

But, hopefully we'll improve on suppleness and "bendiness" for our 10 m half circles and loops and I think our canter transitions have improved as well. We'll be riding Training 3 and First 1 again. And at least I know this facility will have nice footing so Jetta will move nicer than at the last place with the rock hard ground.

And of course I couldn't post without mentioning Rolex in some form or fashion. I'm so jealous of everyone that's there! I was thinking of asking for a plane ticket for my birthday (which is how I got to go to the World Equestrian Games in 2010) but after looking at prices even months ahead of time I knew it would be too expensive :(

But that's why there's live stream which I've been trying to squeeze in watching between classes and homework. Go Thoroughbreds! I should set up a screen in front of Jetta's stall and tell her to watch and learn, lol. I love eventing - I can't wait till we get out there for our first actual horse trial in June!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Onion Breath

First trail ride of the year for Jetta! The weather this week is AMAZING. It's supposed to be in the 70's all week and for our trail ride today it was a perfect 72 degrees. Love it.

I couldn't pass up the opportunity for a trail ride so I asked my BO where some good trails were that are close and she recommended this place that was 30 minutes away.

It reminds me a lot of Elijah Bristow where I took Queenie a couple weeks ago, it's also a state park on a river. It ended up taking me 50 minutes to get there because I took the long way, but only 40 minutes on the way back so I feel like Elijah Bristow is worth going to instead just because it takes the same amount of time, the drive is easier and you don't have to pay a day fee.

With that said though, it was a nice park and I had fun. It's good to try someplace new. Two other places we're going to try in the near future: a BLM property that's supposedly 5 min from our barn but starts out rocky, and Silver Creek Falls which, obviously, has waterfalls!!

Jetta was great. She's usually pretty spooky in the spring after getting shut inside all winter but she was barely spooky and was quite the good girl. I was proud!

Here are your complimentary ears photos:

Starting out

Jetta says "I iz not water pony" notice the tell tale ear flicked back

I made her walk through a puddle, oh the horrors

Shaking it off after our ride

My "endurance pony" after our ride

I set my run keeper app to track the ride, my first time using it and I really liked it. We went 7.5 miles in about an hour and forty minutes. We slowly walked the last two miles behind another pair of riders which was okay since Jetta needs to learn that it's ok to walk slowly behind others, lol.

But this marked our first conditioning ride for endurance! Supposedly you're able to just take any horse out of the pasture to do a limited distance ride, but I'd like to make sure Jetta's in tip-top shape even if it's unnecessary since it will help with cross country too. We mostly trotted with a couple canters thrown in and then spaced each trot set out with some walking. Jetta was very well behaved with just her Myler snaffle which I had been worried about, thinking that I might want to put in her cross country bit just for a little bit extra security but we probably won't end up needing it.

The dressage saddle and pad configuration worked out perfectly. The only thing to do before our first ride on May 25th is to swap out my regular irons with my MDC ones since my knees were aching towards the end of the ride. Then I would also like to find a cushy neoprene girth instead of the fleece one since the current one soaks up moisture like a sponge. 

So basically a perfect way to spend the afternoon! Oh and the title refers to Jetta grabbing a mouthful of onion grass when we were back at the trailer. Apparently she thought they tasted good even through in large amounts they're toxic to horses apparently. After loading her in the trailer she gave a big sigh and she smelled like she had been nomming on some onions.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Half and Half

So the show was half good and half bad.

Cute stuff ready to show!

We got there in perfect timing, last year at the same show we arrived WAY too early and had to wait like three hours for our classes. This time we pulled in, I had plenty of time to leisurely get ready and then it was time to warm up. We started out at 2'6" and warmed up over the fences. We had two stops in warm up where I just wasn't using my leg enough.

We did one 2'6" jumper class that went well. It was a little scattered, Jetta was a little rushy and we had lots of counter cantering going on. We had one fault for hitting a rail and everyone else had clear rounds so we got last place - third.

Hello, release! Excessive much?

I was quite pleased with my riding

Then we had a flat class, hunter under saddle. Jetta was super well behaved. She attentively walk/trot/cantered and even did perfect walk-canter transitions. I was very happy with how she was and I didn't think one thing went wrong with our ride. But again, we placed last - fourth.

We warmed up for the 3' class and it went well despite pulling two rails in warm-up.

Our first 3' class was a hunter class. Jetta was PERFECT. I could not complain with how she rode. She was still a little fast but for us it was the perfect pace. She got all her leads, didn't rub or pull any rails, it was a great ride. But still, not hunter-y enough I guess and I don't think all of our approaches to the fences were perfect (I think we had one or two long spots, I can't remember). So again, last place with third.

Next was a 3' equitation over fences. Aaand I was the only ride. We went, but I forgot where my eighth fence was and almost missed the turn, meaning we approached it at a weird angle making Jetta bunny hop the fence (she literally launched straight up and over the fence) causing me to get jumped out of the tack, whacking my face on her neck and losing my left stirrup. I got my stirrup back and we made it over the last fence but it was embarrassing. Another girl ended up riding just because I was the only entry and she fell off but it was only because her saddle slipped because the girth was too loose. We got first place out of one, boo.

Last class was 3' jumpers. Jetta was definitely tired at this point and was losing her will to participate. She didn't want to play this game any more. She sucked back at almost every fence but I was on top of my game and had my leg on. Only problem in this class was that I didn't turn her enough from my seat (too much hand!) and we basically missed the tight turn to one of our fences so I had to circle her to take it. Other than that, we made it clear for the jump off.

I should have scratched but thought she still had enough in her for four more fences. Second to last fence she tried to stop but I pushed her forward and she bunny hopped again, I caught her in the mouth and she jumped flat, pulling the entire oxer down with her hind feet, but we continued on to the last fence. Fail. That was quite embarrassing. This was the only class we didn't get last place, we got second out of three.

Our only respectable 3' pictures:

Hey look! We're both looking where we're going! A+ for us :)

So overall, half good and half bad. I'm super bummed we didn't get our hunter round on video. My mom thought she did, but failed to press the record button despite my telling her repeatedly to look for the red blinky light. We got a one second video of the ground instead :( And no really good pictures over 3' which is what I really wanted. Though I was still glad that my mom came, I'm used to being a one-person team at all the shows I go to so it's nice to have someone there to talk with and help out.

Anyways, at least it was a schooling show and I definitely took a lot away from it - mainly that we need to practice, practice, practice and build up stamina over the bigger fences. We need to work on our jumper courses with tight turns (turn from the leg/seat and not the hand) and weird lay outs. I know Jetta's not going to make a hunter even though hunter courses are so much nicer to ride so we need to stop practicing hunter courses. I was pleased with how hard she tried and except for the last class (and jump off) I was pleased with my riding, but I need to work on basically throwing the reins at Jetta when she bunny hops to avoid catching her in the mouth because that causes the vicious cycle of Jetta sucking back at the fences and bunny hopping, thus causing me to catch her in the mouth again.

And we don't have to tell anyone that these are all basically last place ribbons.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Weekend

I had a busy, fun weekend! I'm going to write about our weekend in two parts just so this post doesn't get crazy long :)

On Friday I took the girls home for the weekend. I agreed to horse sit for my friend/trainer JF for the weekend, plus I had the show on Sunday and the barn it was held was closer to my house than my apartment at school. And since I was going to be gone the whole weekend, I thought it would be good exposure to ride Queenie somewhere new.

I got Jetta all bathed and loaded the horses and all my stuff up and off we went.

I have to say it's so nice to have the horses at home. Sure you have to be the one responsible for feeding, watering and cleaning stalls but I don't have to drive anywhere, I just walk out of the house about a couple hundred feet. The horses get nice big stalls with runs, they have a huge pasture with lots of grass, and I can feed them however I want. I have my neighbor's outdoor arena to ride in and hot water wash rack to use, or I have my own little wash rack set up (cold water only). I have a whole entire tack room to myself too :)

Anyways, Saturday I rode both girls. I did Jetta first. She was WIRED! I let her run around a bit before I decided to get on.

She was super hyper and had the mega trot going on. Why can't we have a trot like that when we're doing our lengthenings?

Four off the floor! Overachiever.

After she settled down she remembered how to free lunge like a good girl.

And then we rode! And she was STILL wired. I felt like I was riding a rocket or a kite. Or a combination of both, a rocket strapped to a kite. The tiniest leg movement would cause her to canter and she got very upset if I didn't let her. She was forward, forward, forward but too much so. Floaty and light on the forehand was nice, but not at 100 miles an hour. I felt like I was riding my horse from two years ago and was dreading having the show the next day...

The weather was gorgeous so I should have taken one of the girls for a trail ride but that option completely slipped my mind :(

Such an awesome view

Queenie was next and she was near perfect. A couple circuits of the arena to scope everything out and she was golden! She's definitely getting fitter because the canter's getting a lot easier for her. We even were able to open and close the arena gate without me having to get off and I didn't have to take my hand off the gate!

Queenie enjoying her luxury accommodations

More about the show tomorrow!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Queenie on Film

Ok, well it's not film, it's digital, but you get the idea. Pictures and video!!!

How could I forget that I had this amazing magical device that allows me to take pictures at the push of a button from many feet away? Best $30 ever spent! I should have remembered this little piece of electronics when I was taking conformation pics the other day.

Anyway, I remembered that I had a remote control for my camera so I brought it with me to the barn and had some fun taking pics and a video. 

Hmm, what is this contraption?

She wasn't too sure of it clicking away, especially when I turned the flash on so she was a little tense and not as nice as she usually is - usually she carries her neck a couple inches lower. The funny part is when the other horses heard her snort at it, all the other horses stopped eating to stick their heads out and see what was going on and then they started snorting at it and Queenie got really worried. "Why are they snorting?! Something scary must be happening. I should be afraid."

After I deemed we had gotten some acceptable pictures I took a video. It's very long and mostly boring but I find it amusing. Of course taking a stationary video means that I accidently went outside the field of view every time I went down the long side of the arena. Oops. But at least it will give people the idea of how she moves, etc. I give to you the unedited version.

The canter you see is actually one of the best quality we've had yet to date, especially to the left, despite her wanting to buck very badly, which you may or may not notice. Also, we almost took out the camera which was terrifying. My fancy, nice, expensive camera. I almost had a heart attack. 

At the end, I tried to show off her whole ground tying unsuccessfully which I thought was funny. I should have given up, but I finally got her to stand still. Queenie: "But I thought you wanted me to follow you?"

Note: I'm pretty much the prime example of what not to do. The whole, "do as I say, not as I do" thing because I tend to do a lot of stupid things, which you'll notice throughout the blog. Such as sitting on the ground and using a hair dryer to blow dry a four year old horse's feathers. Or riding a horse with another horse turned out. These are bad ideas. Don't do them. Also, standing on your horse. Another bad idea. I may end up editing this out of the video, since I always tend to cringe when I see other people do this. Not because I think they're necessarily doing anything bad, but it's not a safe thing to do and I hate that it implies that it's a good idea especially to younger kids... who might not have such trustworthy horses. But, at least I'm wearing a helmet (the one thing I do 99% of the time that IS a good idea) and I do consider Queenie trustworthy. She doesn't budge. So take it or leave it, I just don't advise trying this at home :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Jazzy Turns 23

I forgot to post this yesterday, but Jazz turned 23 years old on the 17th! Can't believe that she's that old. I saw this adorable picture on Facebook the other day. Too cute. I miss my girl, I'm almost forgetting what it's like to ride her!

Thought I'd share a few more of my favorite pictures of the wonder mare. 

Rocking the double bridle last fall

galloping in a timed trail competition
 My favorites from the Inavale HT - our first recognized horse trial, Jazz was 21 years old!

"Oh look, a ditch."