Sunday, June 30, 2013


This weekend was Jetta's first recognized horse trials! While things have been super crazy in the past week with trying to move houses (I hate, hate, hate moving) I felt like we were able to prepare adequately well. I rode her Monday-Thursday and had some better dressage schools. We're still not back to where I want her to be in terms of lightness, but she's better than at the last couple of shows. We had a good jump school too in there, though we didn't make it to a cross country course to practice like I had been hoping.

Unfortunately the weather has not been wanting to cooperate. It has been about 70 and pouring down rain for the better part of the week. Then, come Thursday it was instantly hot, in the upper 80's and planning on just getting hotter. Lovely.

Thursday I moved Jetta and everything else out to the show grounds. After bickering with Jetta for a good 5 minutes, I finally got her in the temporary stall. She was not impressed with them, but at least there was some knee high grass to munch on.

My brother came up to help me move so after getting Jetta all settled I spend the rest of the day moving furniture. In the evening I went back to check on Jetta and took her for a walk around the grounds. She could care less about all the other horses and dressage rings, she just wanted the grass :) I walked the xc course and it seemed to me to be pretty easy to remember (keep in mind that I almost always get lost).

Friday morning I was up bright and too early to go get ready. Our dressage was at 8:20. I got to the show a little later than I had been planning due to forgetting things and having to run back to the house. My mom came out to help me luckily. I got Jetta all tacked up, her braids looked awful after being in overnight, but oh well.

I got on a little after 8 so we had the shortest warm up in history and just went for it. Our test was not what I had been hoping for. Nothing too bad but I was just wanting Jetta to be rounder and softer in some areas. Our free walk was not as stellar as it could have been in my opinion, but we still scored an 8 on it. And I couldn't believe how crooked Jetta decided to halt at the end, though the judge only commented that it was "unbalanced". Overall, not ecstatic about the test. Somehow we still tied for third with a 33. There was a tie for first place as well. I guess that still counts as achieving my goal of placing in the top three for dressage?

Oh dear, what on earth is my leg doing??

Up the centerline

I had a while to chill before xc. It was getting super hot, into the 90s. I got on Jetta probably a little earlier than necessary to warm up but I wanted to be able to watch people go before me to make sure I was going the right way through things. Between fence 4 and 5 there's a tree line that you have to cross with two different gaps and I didn't know which one you were supposed to go through, but it seemed 50/50 which one people were going through. Jetta started out quite indignant in warm up "I MUST GALLOP!" and I was getting nervous that I might get run away with... Luckily she settled down a bit and when it was our turn, we trotted over the first jump. Here's your blow-by-blow :)

Fence One: Roll Top

This fence looked pretty big on the course walk to me so I was a little leary of it, but Jetta jumped it just fine!


Fence Two: Hazelnut Table

This fence for some reason is a troublesome fence. It's not that scary looking at all, but a few riders had stops at it and I knew Jetta would look hard at it because even though she's jumped it before we've had a refusal at it in the past. And of course she did refuse it. I gave her a big spur and smack with the crop and we hopped over it the second time. 

The dreaded fence - look how tiny it is!

Fence Three: Red Barn

This fence was no problem, Jetta really likes it and I don't think we've ever had a refusal at it.

Fence Four: Quarter Round

Jetta was a little wiggly to this fence but other than that no problems.

Fence Five: Jump Down

This I was a little worried about. Jetta loves jumping off banks, but for some reason at the little one-day trial she refused this so I made sure to have my leg on to get her over it and she went!

The back side of the step down

Fence Six: Log on Hill

This fence I was a little worried about too. It was a tiny log set on a small mound. Or so I thought. The backside of the hill was a lot steeper than I thought it would be so I wasn't sure what Jetta would think when she got to it since we've never schooled it before. She could have cared less, in fact she ignored my request to trot it and cantered right over it!

Fence Seven: Log

I wasn't worried about this fence, the only thing I knew I had to do was keep Jetta to the left where the trees were so she couldn't run out to the right. Turns out Jetta thought it was quite scary and stopped. Bummer. Took it again the second time and galloped through the forest. The gallop stretches are seriously the best part!

Fence Eight: Log

Another log in the forest. This time I kept my leg on really tight, gave her a cluck and a tap with my crop and we cantered right over it and onto the next gallop stretch. Love galloping!

Fence Nine: Ditch

I wasn't too worried about this jump, Jetta seems to find ditches inviting and we even cantered it!

Little baby ditch

Fence Ten: Log

This fence was about three strides after the ditch so I kept Jetta straight and over we went.

Fence Eleven: Log Combination

Jetta gave this fence a hard look and really wanted to wiggle away from both of the fences but I was able to keep her from running out to the left.

Fence Twelve: Flower Hut

We've schooled this jump but even so she refused it at the one-day trial. I kept my leg on and she jumped it.

Fence Thirteen: Water

While in schooling Jetta has no problem cantering/jumping into the water, at the one-day she refused the water too so I was worried she wouldn't go in. I needn't have worried though. I lined her up with it so she could see the water from a couple strides away and wrestled her down to a trot. She kind of started at it once she noticed it but then power trotted through it and cantered away. So proud!

Showing off her power trot - this is what she does when we do endurance rides...
Cantering! This may be my favorite shot once I erase the people in the background.

Fence Fourteen: Coop

Over the coop she was a little sucked back but I kept my leg on.

Fence Fifteen: Ditch with Log

I hate this trakehner. I was none too pleased to see it on course again, but I was hoping that since she jumped it last time we wouldn't have a problem. I lined her up properly and brought her down to a trot and she jumped it perfectly.

Hey, we almost look like we know how to jump!

Fence Sixteen: Brush Fence

I was a little worried about this fence. It looked a little big and since we don't have any brush fences to work with at home Jetta often refuses them. I brought her back to a tiny little canter, really kept my leg on and tried to get her straight (she tried to run right) and over we went to the finish line!

It was a whopping 93 degrees during our run, but even so we both managed not to keel over from the heat. Got her back to the stall, hosed her down, wrapped her legs and stuffed my awesome pony with treats. Recap of day two is yet to come...

Post-xc high. I was SO happy

Overall I was so, so proud of my girl. Yes, we had two refusals, but that is a huge improvement over the last show where we had four. Best of all, it meant we weren't eliminated! Cue huge grin :] And I didn't get lost either! I seriously almost always get lost but we didn't have a single problem with where to go, thanks to walking it twice this year instead of once (or not at all). We got 11 time penalties plus the 40 for refusals, dropping us from third to ninth. But the fact that we hadn't been eliminated meant so much to me - Jetta is still at the point in her training where she requires you to ride her perfectly. If you don't set her up just right for something, you only have a 25% chance that she'll do it anyways, which is a lot different for me coming off Jazz who would do something 75% of the time even if you set her up awfully for it.

I was getting so discouraged before this event - here I have a talented horse and I was thinking "We're never going to move beyond Beginner Novice!" I was wishing I had an easy little draft cross to push around cross country just because they're so easy, just point and shoot (in my experience, even though conditioning them sucks). This show was a huge boost to our confidence.

Friday, June 28, 2013

So Much

I have so much to write about! I'm officially moved into my new place and today was the first day of the horse trials, completing 2/3 phases! I had a blast, it was so fun and I can't wait to write all about it. There will be some (verrrry long) posts coming up now that I have internet again :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

And Then There Were Two

Sorry for not posting that often! I'm in the middle of moving (which sucks) and preparing for Inavale so there hasn't been a whole lot of time, or energy, to sit down and write.

The title refers to the fact that Queenie finally sold. I hadn't mentioned it because I didn't want to jinx it, but she went on trial over a week ago and last Thursday, it was final! Her new owner, GK, came down and rode her a couple weeks ago. Queenie was ok with her, but got a little rushy. GK was a little nervous around her because she was so big, though she is an experienced horseperson. GK wanted to take her on trial so she could take her on the trails around her house since that's what she wanted her for. I think a major selling point is that she had her 11 year old daughter handle Queenie and it was adorable. Queenie put her head down and let the little girl lead her around. So cute!

I dropped Queenie off at her new digs and GK had already bought her a nice new "Queenie-sized" leather halter, even though nothing was final yet. But after spending a week with her, how could you not fall in love??

I stressed about it all week, I even had a nightmare, but when Thursday rolled around (the deadline for deciding whether or not to return Queenie) and I got the sweetest text: " We absolutely LOVE Queenie! She has become a member of our family and is loved by all of us. I've only ridden her twice but I already know we're a fit. We will own and cherish her forever as one of our own. Feel free to cash the check and rest assured that she is cherished. We beyond love her! She will live a pampered life. She has had 1000 kisses and 100 carrots in a week and many more to come for the next 20 years. Thank you"

Aww, I'm so happy! Nothing better than finding her the perfect home :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Liebster Blog Award

I LOVE blog awards :) I was nominated four times, by Monica at Panic and the Pony, Niamh at Life of Riley, Ruffles at Just a Girl and her horse, and Carrot Top at Little Bay Horse. Thank you!!! For some reason this post took me forever to get together, so here it finally is. I decided that I'm going to answer all 4 sets of 11 questions, but I will do two sets in another post so this doesn't get too overwhelming :)

How to accept the award: The Liebster Blog Award is a way to recognize blogs who have less than 200 followers.  Liebster is a German word that means beloved and valued.  Here are the rules for accepting the award:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog.
  2. List 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  4. Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate.
  5. Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or fewer followers to nominate and include links to their blogs.
  6. Go to each blogger's page and let them know you have nominated them. 
11 Facts about me:
  1. I hate giving facts about me; I feel like I'm not that interesting of a person. 
  2. I love traveling, it's my goal to visit every continent someday. So far I've been to Costa Rica, India, France, Spain, England and Bhutan. The next places on my list are Italy and Ireland, hopefully with a stop in France again. 
  3. If I could pick any job in the world and not worry about money, then I'd probably be a horse trainer. Or rather, anything that would allow me to spend all my time with horses - training, rescue, rehab, breeding, competing, etc. 
  4. My dream is to one day be able to build my dream barn/house. It's literally just that: a barn with living space on top! I pretty much have the entire thing planned out, down to a floor plan and decorating scheme, lol. 
  5. I love to read and I will pretty much read anything, though fantasy is my favorite genre. Plus, I read really fast so usually during the summer I go through about a book a day.
  6. I love bling! Sadly it's not as accepted in dressage, which is my main discipline, but I still have a sparkly browband and my ear net that I can use in eventing dressage has crystals. I would love to be mainly in western disciplines where you can bedazzle everything, but I like my english disciplines just a little bit better :)
  7. Hot pink and sky blue/turquoise are my two favorite colors, with purple coming in a close third. I have a strong desire to make all of my tack come in those colors and be matching. 
  8. I love, love, love seeing horses of non-traditional breeds succeeding in different disciplines. Such as drafts in eventing, quarter horses in dressage, etc. 
  9. My least favorite foods are raw tomatoes, shell fish, mushrooms and olives.
  10. I'm addicted to Netflix and will totally binge-watch TV shows. The latest was Desperate Housewives (with my roommates) and Doctor Who. 
  11. I raised rabbits and showed them competitively in 4-H and ARBA (breed shows) for 10 years. I had Dutch and Champagne D'Argents rabbits. I am quite knowledgeable about them and love helping people at the vet clinic with their rabbits since the vets don't have a ton of experience with them! I miss having rabbits and hope to get one as a pet soon.

Questions for me: (I got nominated four times, therefore you get 22 answers to questions this time and more to come later!)

1. What's the last book you read cover-to-cover?
I (re)read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (one of my favorite books!) and am currently starting on the Game of Thrones series...

2. Have you ever broken a bone, and if so how?
Nope, amazingly I have not.

3. If you could chose any super-power, what would it be?
The ability to speak and understand any language, animal ones included :)

4. What would you change about the horse world that doesn't have to do with animal abuse or money?
I guess I would encourage people to be more open to new ideas and new people. Obviously what works for one horse/rider might not work for another, but I find a lot of people immediately discredit some ideas, simply because it's just not what they are used to doing. And being open to new people too is important I think. A lot of horse people are really open and friendly (obviously! Just look at the horse blogger world) but there's quite a lot of horse people at the other end of the spectrum that come across as snobbish.

5. What are those 'Baby on Board' signs for cars really for? Nobody have ever been able to give me a satisfying answer.
I really have no idea... I think some people use it as an excuse to be a rude driver, like you can't be mad at them when they have a baby in the car.

6. What are your three favorite words?
Serendipity, juxtaposition, dilapidated.

7. What's the most 'out there' thing you believe in?
I have to say that I'm rather boring... I don't really believe in anything that "out there". I don't believe in aliens or ghosts, or being able to know the future or travel in time. I'm definitely open to the possibility of some "out there" things, but don't explicitly believe them to be true.

8. Describe the last time you laughed out loud.
The last time would have been last night, hanging out with my 4 roommates. They are all hilarious and ridiculous, so any time we're all together we are bound to have a good time.

9. Mares, geldings or stallions?
Well, I don't typically have a preference, I've worked with all three. But, I've owned way more mares than geldings and I get along well with them.

10. Who would you most like to go on a trail ride with?
Not sure if this is supposed to be a person or a horse, but I'd love to have one more ride on Grady and pony Jazz on him. That was my favorite thing to do...

11. What's the most ridiculous thing you've bought for riding or horses?
Ha, a pink sparkly crop.

12. Were horses is your childhood?
Yes, I got my first horse when I was nine (Grady) after moving to the country where we had a barn and a pasture. I begged my parents for riding lessons and after riding the neighbor's very ornery horse, Ruby, for a while, they finally caved and found a trainer who found me my first horse!

13. What's the weirdest lesson/clinic you've ever had on horseback
That's a tough one... there hasn't been anything too crazy, I'm usually pretty good at picking up strange ideas and figuring out how to apply them, but the weirdest has to have been with this local trainer through the dressage team. He's a nice guy and I have several friends who board and train with him full time, but he's just strange. The weirdest part of my lesson would have to be when he kept telling me to relax my forearms and wrists. I just didn't understand how to and finally he came over to me and started shaking my arms to get them to relax. Something must have worked because he stopped bugging me about them, but I don't think I actually changed anything?

14. What one thing would you change about your horse?
I would change her (Jetta's) argumentative-ness. She always has to have something to argue about which results in so many evasions. She's getting better as she gets older, but a lot of times she will refuse to do something just for the sake of it and after bickering for 20 minutes she gives in and pretends it never happened and it isn't a big deal. 

15. What one thing would you change about yourself?
I would change my laziness. It's my biggest bad habit and it affects my riding too. I'll go to the barn and decide that I'd rather not jump just because it means dragging out the jumps. Or it means skimping on grooming or not practicing riding without stirrups.

16. Do you board or keep your horse at home?
I usually board during the school year and take my horses home during the summer time, but I'm still not sure what the plan is for this summer.

17. What is your favorite thing about boarding or keeping your horse at home?
My favorite thing about boarding is having nice facilities: an arena to ride in, nice stalls, a wash rack, etc. My favorite thing about having the horses at home is being able to walk out the door down to the barn. The horses have a big pasture, big stalls with runs, I can feed them however I like, I can go riding down the street, there are trails behind us. I don't have an arena but I do have a roundpen and I can use the neighbor's outdoor arena.

18. What is your least favorite thing about boarding or keeping your horses at home?
Least favorite about boarding is having to pay... But also the drama that comes with keeping your horse at someone else's barn - you have to abide by their rules and deal with other people. And the fact that sometimes you can't get the exact care you'd like. Keeping my horses at home, I dislike not having certain facilities, but mostly just the fact that I have to be out there two or three times a day, every day and if I want to take a day off that's not usually an option.

19. What nicknames do you have for your horse?
For Jetta it's dork or brat. Misty is Misty-moo. 

20. What scares you the most about riding/horses?
There's not a whole lot about horses and riding that scares me. I've always been that fearless little girl. But now that I'm getting older I'm getting a little more cautious. Jetta's rearing scares me since she has flipped over on me before and I got hurt pretty badly. Cross country jumping scares me a little bit since Jetta dumped me over a jump.

21. What is your best skill around horses?
I would say my best skill is not being afraid. I have no problem dealing with naughty horses, I don't get nervous if I get on a horse that's a little flighty or spooky. I don't have issues dealing with bratty horses on the ground either, for instance the barn owner's stallion who strikes and likes to turn his rump to me. I have no patience for naughty horses and am very much the "alpha mare".

22. What is your dream pony vacation?
I think my dream horse vacation would be some intense, upper-level sort of training trip in either dressage or eventing or jumping. Something where I'd get to ride other horses and learn to improve my skills. Get multiple lessons a day then go for fun rides on the beach or through the countryside. Not sure where though...

11 questions for nominees:
  1. What equestrian sport that you've never done before would you like to try? 
  2. If you could ride any horse (living or not), who would it be?
  3. If you could buy one tack item, no matter the expense, what would it be?
  4. Why did you start blogging and who in real life knows that you blog?
  5. Besides horses, what is your favorite hobby?
  6. Second favorite animal? (horses are obviously your first :)
  7. Favorite color?
  8. Least favorite equestrian fashion fad?
  9. Black or brown tack?
  10. What is your favorite place to go besides the barn? (can be a travel destination or someplace close to you)
  11. Favorite food that you couldn't live without?

11 bloggers: I have no idea who has or has not been nominated at this point, so sorry if this is your second (or third!) nomination. I gave up trying to keep track.
  1. Hillary at Equestrian at Hart
  2. Karly at All In
  3. Matt the Cowpony
  4. Kristen at Sweet Horse's Breath
  5. in2paints at R Lil Bit of Cash
  6. Karen at Contact
  7. Lauren at She Moved to Texas
  8. Jen at Wyvern Oaks
  9. Gingham at Pia's (and Praire!) Parade
  10. Checkmark115 at Chasing the Dream
  11. Amy at Slow and Steady

Sunday, June 16, 2013

League Championship Day 2

Well, today didn't go as well as I had hoped but it wasn't awful either.

I got up super early to clean stall before hand (I don't think I've slept more than 6 hours per night for the past week... I'm exhausted). Luckily Jetta's braids stayed in overnight and I only had to redo one braid. We got to the show and had time to chill for a bit and make sure I had my first test - Training Test 3 - memorized.

Jetta warmed up really well actually. I didn't put on my spurs, just carried my whip for the warm up. She was still not quite carrying herself as lightly as I'd like, but she was a lot better than the day before, she was bending nicely and listening to my leg.

We headed to the competition ring and the test went ok. Jetta was really heavy in my hand and I didn't do a very good job of getting her off the forehand. We ended up scoring a 64% - our last two shows were about a 65.8% just to put that in perspective, so we didn't do as well as we had been doing in the past. Our final comment was "Attractive pair. Rider sits right and must stretch up. Horse must stretch out to hand." Bummer.

Just waitin' around

We had a loooong break in between the two classes. Jetta finished up her hay and I took my chair out in a grassy area and sat and let her graze. In the continuing theme of a lack of preparation, we had never looked or schooled the First Level Test 3 and it was full of surprises... I knew the leg yields so that wasn't an issue. The 10 meter trot circles were fine (it's the half circles that we have issues with!) but then there was a change of lead through the trot at X. Huh, hopefully that goes well... Then there were the "counter canter" loops. Oh, yeah, we used to do those. Haven't done those in a while.

Put my spurs on, warmed up ok. It was a little hectic feeling but we can do all the movements just fine. The problem is putting them all together into a fluid test. The hectic feeling went into the test and it basically just sucked. Jetta was so, so heavy in my hands and no matter how many half halts I gave her she would not stop pulling. There was basically no redeeming elements to the test. I didn't like any of our movements, though maybe the stretchy trot was ok. I didn't let her stretch as much in order to maintain some semblance of control of our tempo, so it was a sacrifice between stretch vs steady tempo and we actually scored better doing that sacrifice.

I was fully expecting a 50% score. I was going to be really embarrassed since I haven't gotten a 50 in FOREVER, not since I was first starting out with Jazz. Amazingly, we got a 62.419%. Well that was surprising... I felt like we were definitely not ready to do First 3. First 2 was ok and I'd like to start showing that for the rest of the summer, but we're not quite there yet for the third test.

The show office was pretty disorganized today so I never saw the class scores overall, but we must have placed quite well, at least second because after placing fourth the day before, we ended up with a 3rd place in First Level out of five, and a 3rd place in Training Level out of 6.

Not too shabby for such little preparation, if we had actually prepared we might have done a lot better. We have a lot of work to do before our next show. I have decided not to enter the big recognized show that I've been looking forward to for years... That will have to wait until next year. I just don't think we'll be ready by the end of July to do well at a recognized show. There's a smaller one in August that I think we'll try to shoot for instead or just put the whole goal off for another year.

I did get videos and they took pictures with our GIANT ribbons (they're super, super long!) so I'm hoping that they'll send those out possibly? I will upload at least the Training 3 test for your viewing (dis)pleasure but I might not upload the First Level tests... they're bad. Well, maybe the First 2 isn't that bad. We'll see :)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

League Championship Day 1

Today was the first day of the league championship. In true "queen of least preparedness" (I think that should be my new title) I rode Jetta a grand total of three times in the week before the show due to the craziness that was finals.

Anyways, I got out to the barn and groomed Jetta within an inch of her life. Luckily she was super clean so I didn't have to bathe her, since being my normal lazy self I didn't do it the night before. Got her braided, tack cleaned and trailer loaded and we were off.

Jetta's ready to go!

This show was at the state fairgrounds. I've been there once before with Jazz but that was a long time ago. The arena footing was ok, but it seems like the norm for fairgrounds in general is "hard and full of rocks". Of course I got there early so I sat around for a while so that I wouldn't get on too early like usual. Luckily I brought plenty of hay for Jetta so she was happy.

I didn't realize this before the show, but the first day of the show you ride Test 2 of your level and then the next day you ride Test 3. So I entered Training and First Level thinking I was going to do Training 3 and First 2 but they changed it around on me. I have never ridden the second test before of either level. Good preparation, right?

Jetta warmed up fairly well. Ever since she had that week off when she hurt her knee we've taken a big step back in our training. I had finally gotten her to carry herself lightly on the forehand and not pull on the reins or rely on me to hold her up, but that has sort of disappeared recently. The last dressage show I was super happy with how she did, even though our scores didn't reflect that. Anyways, she wasn't too much of a freight train and actually was a little lazy off my leg.

The first test up was Training 2. We rode in the outdoor arena and I was happy to find that the footing was at least a little less rocky than warm up. We didn't even get a full circuit of the arena before the bell rang so Jetta was still a little looky when we started our test, especially since she wanted to watch all these people who were next door at a big convention.

The test went fairly well. She was a little braced in areas and popped her head up a couple times when she got disctracted, but I felt rather good about the effort which was good because I didn't feel so hot going into it.

Cute stuff chilling at the trailer

Jetta got a little bit of a break in between the classes, I went and found the videographer and signed up so we didn't have our first ride taped but the rest of them would be. I got our test back - a 65% and third out of six. I was pretty happy with the scoring, I thought the judge was accurate in all the movements. It's my first time riding under an "R" judge and she was quite nice I thought. I expected a lot harsher judging. Her final comment was "Nice horse with a bright future - get more impulsion for more expression." Which kind of made my day. Always nice when your horse gets such a nice compliment.

In the warm up for the next test I carried my dressage whip just to help with the leg yields and get her transitions a little crisper. Unfortunately I forgot my spurs (go figure) and whips weren't allowed in the championship class.  Definitely bringing the spurs for tomorrow.

Of course when I first looked at the First 2 test, my first thought was "Oh #@$%^. I don't know if we're ready for this..." But luckily I was able to remember the whole test, even though half way through I had a blank spot and almost had a panic attack before I remembered that we were supposed to do our stretchy trot (which sucked, but oh well). The test went quite well for doing it the first time ever at a show and adding in the leg yields. Surprisingly, while our right leg yield sucks at home and the left leg yield is good, at the show, the right leg yield went quite well, but the left leg yield sucked. She inverted throughout the whole movement and would not unlock her jaw and give to the bit. Bad pony.

I was quite happy with how she did overall and we scored a 62.027%. I thought it was pretty fair, though I had hoped to do better. We got fourth out of 5.  I need lessons SO BAD. I need to figure out how we get a better score on our lengthenings because I just do them too fast apparently and we need to show more length and less speed, so I'll try to be more reserved tomorrow. The comment for this test was "Need to be overall rounder to make scores go up. Horse has talent!" I really did like this judge! She was so nice and gave good comments on the movements which is always helpful.

I really do like how the First Level Test 2 flows though so I'm going to add it to our show "repetoire" for the rest of the summer. I like how you do the leg yields right before the canter transition, then the 15m canter circle before the lengthening it all sets up each movement nicely.

Overall, a pretty good day. Started off feeling rather lackluster but finished off well. Hopefully we can improve upon our scores tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ice Boots

I have decided that I'm tired of cold hosing legs. I want ice boots.

Jetta's leg is looking better. It was quite swollen two days in a row but she wasn't lame on it (I rode her on Saturday with no problem). Yesterday it was much less swollen which made me feel better because I was getting worried about it - horse legs should not look like elephant legs! I lunged her and she still looked fine on it so I'm hoping that it's really nothing. She doesn't mind me pressing hard on it and she's not off at all. Regardless, there's been too much cold hosing recently and it's so tedious, I've decided I'd rather just spend some money on some ice boots instead, plus I went to a talk on tendons by a veterinarian recently who was very adamant about how "worthless" cold hosing legs was and that we should ice legs instead...

Anyone have any experience with ice boots? I don't want to spend over a $100 on a boot (I really do just need one) even though some of the boots look quite neat, like the IceVibe boots and the Equifit compression cold boots. Here are a couple of the options that Smartpak and Dover carry in my price range that look like they might work for me.

Cool Cold Super Boot

Flexible Ice Cells

Cool Boots

Ice Horse Tendon Wraps

I think for now I'm going to order the ice cells since they are cheap and I have a pair of SMB boots at home that I can use, or if they don't work I'm sure that I can just wrap the ice cells just fine. Oh horses, please stop hurting yourselves and making me worry. I don't think I can handle it much longer!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

It's Always Something

First off, an update on Misty. She's just been kind of hanging out. Last week her leg was swollen where she got her cut so I wrapped her hind legs for two days and then took the wraps home to wash them and left her bare-legged over night. She wasn't stocked up at all the next day so I left wraps off and lunged her. She looked pretty sound so I left off on the bute and didn't wrap her again. Her cut was still producing pus which was weird (there was no "pocket" it was just the wound itself that had pus in it) and I was a little worried about it but because there was no swelling anymore and no lameness anymore I decided to play wait and see.

Attempting to get some sort of tan by doing barn work in shorts!

It's finally healing now! Since she was a lot better my BO asked if she could get turned out and I said yes. Poor girl was not pleased with me since I was making her stay inside, though I had been taking her outside to graze for a good twenty minutes every day. It's not the same though! She's been outside in one of the individual paddocks (Jetta too, bad ponies who get injured can't go out in a herd!) for the past two days and is doing well. And today, there was no pus! It looks like the cut is finally trying to scab over. I'm a little worried about proud flesh getting out of control, there is a little granulated tissue going on so I am waiting on a call back from my vet friend on what I can put on the wound to help it heal and not let the proud flesh get bad. So, it seems like she's finally getting back to normal and I had a short bareback ride on her the other day just in the halter and then I let her graze for a bit. Hopefully as soon as school is out (next Wednesday!!!) we can do some riding - I want to take her on the trails, haul her to my trainer JF's barn to play on her trail course and work cows... so many plans!

Jetta has had the week off... yet again. This whole school plus cleaning stalls plus three horses is not really working out for me. I finally got to ride her today and while I was tacking her up and doing a once-over on her to look for any new scrapes, bumps or other oddness I noticed her right hind was puffy. Oh, mare. Wasn't sore at all when I palpated it and I couldn't feel any heat or lumps so I lunged her and she looked perfectly fine, so I ended up riding her anyways. I think (and am hoping) it's just from either kicking her stall wall or from stomping around with the flies, or she may have a little scratch that I didn't find that is causing the puffiness. I put extra fly spray on her legs just in case it was due to flies.

Getting a good roll in

We have a week until the dressage league championship so I'm kind of stressing about that. All this time off for Jetta hasn't improved either of us under saddle. I don't think we're necessarily that much worse off for it, but there's still a lot of things I wanted to work on before then. Leg yields seem to be fairly good though there are still moments when Jetta wants to get braced and lift her head up. Those dang 10 m half circles aren't getting any better and neither is our stretchy trot so we really need to figure something out in the next few days. Canter transitions are ok, but we're still dealing with anticipation.

Lots and lots to work on so hopefully we can improve a little in all the necessary areas and put in a respectable test.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Photography Workshop

Over the weekend I got to go to a photography workshop with one of my favorite equine photographers, Mary Cornelius. I've always admired her photos and have wanted her to take photos of my and my horses forever, but have never gotten around to having her out for a session or attending a show where she has been the photographer. In fact, one of my greatest regrets is not having her out to take pictures of Grady. She was doing an elder horse project of horses 25 and older, so I was going to have her out this summer to get some shots of Grady, though for obvious reasons I will never get to have those pictures done :(

Anyways, the day was not off to a good start. I live in a townhouse near campus in the city. We have a garage and assigned parking spots. My roommates all leave their spare keys in case we need to rearrange cars since we essentially have three spaces, but they're all in a straight line. We typically only use two spaces unless a boyfriend needs to park overnight. Anywho, I woke up at 6 and went out to my car to leave at 6:30, opened the garage door to find... a random car. In our space.

I woke up one of my roomies to make sure she didn't know whose it was (I'd never seen it before and there was no one random spending the night at our house). Having decided that we didn't know who it belonged to, I went outside and made sure no one was around to whom it might have belonged. No one. I'm guessing it belonged to a guest at our neighbors who had a ridiculously crazy party the night before. College, I'm telling you. After calling the towing company whose name was posted on the "Do Not Park Here unless it's your space or you'll be towed" signs and determining that only our manager could have a car towed, I called him and he answered! Major cudos to a manager who answers his phone before 7am. He was great and arranged to have a towing company come move the car.

Getting towed...

An hour later and I was finally on my way. I felt fairly bad about having the truck towed since they would have to pay for it, but at the same time I was really mad. I mean, who does that? It's one thing if you were parking there for a few minutes, or even if you just parked there for a few hours but still left in the wee hours of the morning. Like at 3 am or something. But the truck didn't get towed until 7:30am so that was way past the reasonable time to move it and still no one showed up.

Rough start behind, I made it to the workshop, albeit 40 minutes late. I was quite mortified to be so late (though I did call ahead to let them know I was on my way but late) since I'm one of those people who routinely shows up half an hour in advance to everything, just because I don't want to be late.

We started off almost immediately taking pictures of the foals. They were getting turned out for the day so we all went out and arranged ourselves in the different paddocks to get some good shots. Mary was helpful in deciding what settings to use - she wanted everyone to try to shoot in manual and while my camera does have an auto mode, all other settings are manual (there's an aperature and shutter dependent setting, but you still have to manually set them). It was good because even though I've had my 70D Canon for over a year, I still have no idea what to do with it and I'm finally learning the relationship between aperature, ISO and shutter speed. So it was nice to have someone there to reiterate those ideas and give tips.

The foals were SO CUTE. I want a baby warmblood! The moms were totally nonchalant about us being there and pretty much went straight to grazing but all the foals of course had to zoom around. We spent over an hour taking pictures of the babies and then the stallions got turned out so we took some pictures of them. Two of the three stallions obliged us with some nice movement, but one of them went straight to grazing which was slightly amusing, but gave Mary a chance to talk about trying to capture expressions, not just movements, which is what makes her so good. If you have a chance to check out her blog with some of the elder horse project photos, I recommend it ( She was able to take some great pictures of older horses, some of whom could only graze. We then went back to the classroom to discuss.

Mary told us a little of her background, which I found really interesting. She started off doing film cameras which I find fascinating since of course I've never really dealt with them and they seem like a lot of work to operate and get good quality pictures. Anyways, she got burnt out doing show photos and took a hiatus for a few years, basically refusing to take any pictures at all. Once digital started coming out though, she got back into the game and started focusing on dressage shows only and doing farm calls for portraiture, etc. She said one of the reasons that she loves taking pictures is because for a lot of people, your pictures are your most prized possessions. She said that when people get interviewed after a natural disaster where they lose all of their belongings, the one thing that most of them regret losing the most of their material belongings is their photos. She said that she wanted to be able to give horse owners pictures of their horses because it is so important to them and she didn't want anyone to be without photos of their horse when they passed away. My heart just kind of broke then because it's so true and it's why I'll always regret not having more pictures of Grady and I. It's not that I don't have any, I just don't have as many as I'd like and I have no professional photos of either him or us together and it just makes me sad.

Anyways, I loved seeing her photos before getting edited because she has such a great artistic eye to be able to look at a photo, possibly one that I might personally pass by, then crop and edit it so that it really looks like an amazing final product. She discussed different elements of good photos, beyond just the typical "rule of thirds" which was helpful, I really liked what she showed with framing and leading lines because it's something you do unconsciously when taking a photo, so recognizing what it is was helpful for saying "Oh, that is what I do and it looks good, so I should recognize that more when taking pictures."

Finally, we went out to take pictures of some of the other horses - we took some pictures of a little herd of mares, then a pair of 3 year old stud colts, then the two herds of yearlings (divided into colts and fillies). It was a lot of fun and I took a ton of photos. I haven't even had time to really sort through all of them in detail and edit my favorites, so I've just shared a couple of my favorite unedited pics. Overall, I wasn't too happy with my photo taking for the day, I guess it was just an off day, but I did get some ok shots and I can't wait to sit down and go through them all in detail!

And I have to say, the barn that it was held at was STUNNING. It was so pristine and nice, I just wanted to live in one of the barns. Yes, that's right barns plural. There were three barns on the property, I believed they were segregated to be the show horse barn, stallion barn and mare & foal barn, though I'm not sure. The arena was big and gorgeous, perfectly groomed. There was an outdoor arena as well and the rest of the property was all fenced pastures for the horses. Amazing. If I got to come home to that every day I think I would feel like I'd died and gone to horse heaven.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Least Prepared

Ok, so I'm going to go backwards and talk about Sunday first, then I'll do another post about Saturday.

The horse trial was fun! I tried to scratch but there was no refund, even with a vet note... which kind of ticked me off because I don't think there's any reason to not give at least a partial refund. Anywho, I decided to wait and see if Jetta was going to be feeling better in time to ride. Friday, the day after the vet came, she looked perfectly fine on the lunge so I didn't give her any more bute and I rode her on Saturday. She felt fantastic on Saturday and I think a week off really did her body well! Not so her training though...

Then Sunday morning I lunged her and she was still sound! So after cleaning stalls it was off to the show, with the idea that we'd at least try to do all phases, but if she felt off we'd just scratch. While putting everything in the trailer, I realized I forgot my breeches at the house. I had no breeches, no belt, no boot socks... Luckily I called up one of my roomies and I swung through town on the way, she was able to run my stuff out to me and I made it through the narrow, two way, car-lined street without taking out anyone's side view mirror :)

Then I got to the show and realized I didn't have any hay for Jetta. Fail. Luckily there was some somewhat fresh hay left over from my last trailer trip so that at least lasted Jetta for before and after dressage.

Warming up, Jetta still felt really good. She was moving nicely, being soft and swingy in her back and just felt good. She however, was thinking "I am a freight train! I must pull my rider along like I am built down hill!" No amount of half halting or leg yielding could get her off her forehand so I just decided that come what may, we'd just go for it. My main goal was to get my dang shoulders back.

I'd say we achieved that. No picture or video takers so you'll have to take my word for it, but I really did try and we didn't get any comments about it on our test. The test felt fairly good, there were no big problems and I was happy with Jetta's efforts. We did have some major pulling going on, especially across the diagonal HXF because it was slightly downhill, but we mostly kept it together.

I was quite pleased with our score. We got lots of 8's and 7's. One 9 for our free walk! And two 6's for our circles because I apparently did them too small. All 7's for collective marks except one 8 for rider! We got all pleasant comments for the most part. The only negative ones were that Jetta's mouth was open during three different movements - our halt at the end, one of the trot diagonals downhill, and a canter trot transition. All because Jetta was being a freight train, I don't know where all our hard work on self carriage went... Our comment at the end was: "Good job! Just try a thicker bit or flash, try to keep mouth closed, improved balance so less weight on hands".

I've ridden with the judge before in a clinic a year and a half ago maybe? While I really like her as a judge and will ride under her in a show any day, she's not my favorite clinician. She basically told me I was ruining my horse and she HATES Myler bits (what I ride in). Sorry, but I've tried thicker bits and Jetta does not go well in them, in fact she's more mouthy and she runs through my hands. And I don't like the idea of putting a flash on her to force her mouth closed because it makes her more tense and she fights it, plus I think of it as a band-aid for other issues we're having, not a fix. Case in point, our last dressage show Jetta was relaxed and I rode her well and we had no mouthiness issues, while at a prior dressage show she was really tense and was a bit mouthy. So we just need to work on relaxation and self carriage.


Anyways, we scored a 25.7 (which in regular dressage would be a 74.3%!!!). Super pleased with that, especially since it put us in first place in our division. We had the fifth highest score overall of all levels - there were several 23's and a 25 so I was as happy as a clam about that. Though I must say (I'm not trying to be egotistical here) that we should have gotten the score we did because Beginner Novice tests basically equate to Intro C in regular dressage, so as a horse showing first level, I would hope that Jetta could pull off a 70%+ in it.

We had a little while so I ate lunch - hey! I actually brought food and water for myself! This was actually an accomplishment. Usually I just starve and get really dehydrated because apparently I'm not that bright... Next time though I need to remember a cooler and bring more than one water bottle.

Looking super cute while I ate lunch

Stadium was next. Jetta was not quite on her best behavior - for some reason she was spooking at PEOPLE on the way up to the warm up. Just regular people... Two little kids were running full tilt down the driveway (typically I don't care, but whatever happened to the common sense etiquette of no running around horses? The kids at this show were just a little out of control IMO). Jetta majorly spooked at the running kids, snorting and trying to run backwards. Once we made it past them, there were some teens sitting at a picnic table and one of them threw an empty water bottle on the ground, which Jetta spooked at, then one of them sneezed and she about jumped out of her skin. Geez mare, what got into you??

Warm up was ok, but Jetta was jumping the oxer flat and leaving long which was a little annoying, especially since she typically jumps oxers better than plain verticals. This time it was the other way around, she was jumping the vertical nicely. Minimal warm up just to make sure I didn't tire her out, then it was onto the show arena.

Sorry it's sideways, but I think this is what our course was.

The course was a little bit crazy (for me) but I managed to remember it, barely. We had one refusal at fence 6, a brush jump. I knew she was going to look at it, so I had my leg on, but somehow I managed to come in crooked so she wasn't set up perfectly for it and refused. It was a bummer, but oh well. At least it's timed, not judged on beauty because it was kind of an ugly round. We need to work on that...

Even with the four faults for refusing and 4 faults for time penalities, we managed to remain in first after stadium.

Cross country was last and me, being ever the most prepared person, never got to walk the course... Yeah. So I studied the course map as much as possible and watched where people started off when they left the start box and just planned on winging it.

My only prep for xc

It started out really rough (ok, most of it was rough). Part of the problem was that I forgot my whip at the trailer and didn't have time to run back and grab it which was a huge bummer because I needed it! The plan had been to tap her with it a couple strides before the fence, in addition to using my leg = magical xc jumping formula!

Then I also forgot my medical armband and was slightly worried about that. Especially because after the first fence, a small log, Jetta BOLTED and my thoughts were "I'm gonna crash and they're not going to know to call my parents because I don't have my armband!". It was really unusual for Jetta so I don't know what the problem was. Then, the second fence, also a log, has light blue/gray gravel about ten feet in front of the jump and Jetta just would not walk on it. It took us a few seconds and a pony club kick to get her up to the jump which she took at the babiest jog. At least the fences were small... Then the third fence was a blue-roofed barn which we had schooled with no problems when we went schooling, but Jetta thought it was going to eat her and refused. Take two, we made it over and galloped down the trails. Found jump number four, another log and made it over with no issues then galloped back up the trail. This was the BEST PART EVER. I just let Jetta go and she was perfect. I didn't make her gallop full out (I never have) but she just went at her pace, a perfect, ground eating gallop.

We popped out of the forest back into the main field. Jetta hesitated strongly at the next log fence but boldly jumped the ditch (from a canter!) that was a few strides after. Thank goodness... we haven't schooled ditches in forever! Then we crossed over into the other field, walked into the water (bad pony, we were cantering through it not too long ago!) and then looped around to come over a coop, then promptly got lost. I had to ask for directions.... Luckily I figured out where fence 9 and 10 were. Jetta walked off the little bank which was stupid because she typically loves banks.

Made it to 11, then 12 was the dreaded trakehner. I have never been able to get Jetta over this trakehner... last time I tried is when she reared and I bailed off of her. First approach was a refusal. No whip so I smacked her on the shoulder with the tail of my reins (I have no idea if that is illegal, but I was desperate. I figured if we didn't make it over this fence we'd be eliminated anyways so what the heck). Second approach - cleared it!! I was so proud of her. 13 was a combo which Jetta did without a problem. I was super happy because typically she tries to run out on the second fence but she didn't give any indication of trying this time. 14 was towards "home" so I had to circle Jetta back to a trot to jump it, then 15, our last fence was the "hazelnut table" and Jetta refused. Actually I made her refuse because she tried to go IN BETWEEN the two fences next to each other that had like 4 inches between them and almost poked her eye out with the flag. Dork. Second approach, cleared it.

I thought that maybe, just maybe we would have managed to finish with a number not a letter with three refusals, but I guess one of our "walk" fences got judged as a refusal which was pretty disappointing, but despite that I smiled all the way back to the trailer. Just that one moment when we were galloping between fences was just SO MUCH FUN, I couldn't get over it. Even with no ribbon I had a blast and oddly feel more confident about the recognized horse trial. I mean, if I made it around the course with no major "OH $*%&" moments and I didn't feel like I was going to die, so if I can remember my whip and actually walk the course, I think we'll be in great shape!

And I love eventer people too. I got asked three times by random strangers on the way back to the trailer if I had a good ride. Everyone's just so nice. You just don't get that at H/J shows and while dressage people are typically polite, they're never that friendly in general.

Overall, we were kind of a train wreck in stadium and cross country, also just in general because I forgot a bazillion things (I should have won a "least prepared" award). The goal is to clean up our act before the recognized, make our stadium look pretty and get Jetta jumping those xc jumps more confidently. I just really, really want to end with a number not a letter. I'm really happy we were able to go because it gave us a test run for the real deal coming up. And best of all, Jetta seemed perfectly sound even after cross country!

Sunday, June 2, 2013


I had a crazy, busy, wonderful weekend. This is basically just a teaser post, here is what I will post about later:
  • Jetta is sound! Misty is also looking rather sound, but her wound is still very angry looking so she's not in the clear yet.
  • I went to a photography workshop by one of my favorite equine photographers, Mary Cornelius. I got to take lots of photos of adorable baby warmbloods at one of the fanciest barns I've ever been to!
  • I rode Jetta Saturday and she felt awesome and was still sound Sunday morning so we went to a one day horse trial.
  • I am officially the worst planner ever, but at least this HT was just for practice.
  • I love my horse to death even when we don't do quite as well as we hoped and eventing is still officially my favorite sport ever.
  • Aaaand we rocked dressage with our lowest score ever!
So yeah, it was a good weekend. Check back soon for all the details :)