Monday, March 31, 2014

Temporarily Sidelined

Well, this time it's me and not the horse that's sidelined. Bummer. I had a great week of spring break doing stuff with friends. One friend from out of state came to visit so I (of course) took her to the barn so she could ride.

Misty was definitely a bit sore from our Monday beach ride last week but was very good for FS. I love seeing people ride her because I get reminded of how adorable this horse is!

Then over the weekend, the VERY LAST DAY of spring break, I sprain my ankle. And no, no great story to go with it. I simply tripped. I am currently on crutches and hoping I heal super quickly. I fail at crutches. I almost face planted a couple times on my way to class this morning. Luckily, I have no shows or clinics or anything to cancel, horse-wise. The only issue is I can't even clean stalls so I'm trying to coordinate friends to do it for me. Sigh. I just want to be riding right now!

I may see if I can squeeze my fat ankle/foot into a boot and ride western. I just need to be able to mount from the right side. And probably just ride bareback... I don't think there's any way I can manage a western saddle...

Apologies in advance if blog content is kind of blah this week (not that it wasn't last week). I'll have all sorts of time to blog now that I have a hard time moving around, but unfortunately nothing fun to blog about!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Most Excellent Day

I had a most excellent day at the beach yesterday!

AC and I packed up the ponies and headed out. The weather was absolutely perfect. Of course, as soon as it's spring break, the weather turns bad (currently pouring down rain outside) so we had to make the most of our last sunny, warm day.
Ready for an adventure

The coast turned out to be sunny but sooo windy. It was crazy. I felt like I was going to get blown off my horse. AC and I just went alone so the horses were both a little calmer than the first time we went, without the really spooky horses there, but Misty was still quite excited.

When we got down on the beach, we let them trot for a bit to get their extra energy out and then settled down to walk and play in the water. And we actually got them in the water! Misty had to take the lead and all she needed (well, after a few times of running away from the waves) was a little tap with the whip and she went right in. What a good pony! We even got to do a full out gallop this time. She was going as fast as her little legs could carry her, but it wasn't all that fast, haha.

Proof that we were, in fact, in the water. And cantering!

Crazy mane
 It was a blast. Misty was so great and I was really happy with her. Afterwards we loaded the horses up in the trailer with their lunch and went to the brewery for our own lunch and drinks. Such a great day!

Friday, March 21, 2014


So happy to be done with this term. Not that next term is really going to get any better... but at least I have a week off to hopefully catch up on sleep and have some fun, get lots of pony time in, etc.

Just can't get enough of this weather!

Tuesday was just too nice out not to ride. I couldn't resist, so I dressed Misty up in her western clothes and hopped on her in the outdoor arena. After warming up in the snaffle, I finally tried out the curb bit on her. I've never ridden her in a curb, but I've seen multiple photos of her ridden in one with previous owners, so I was hoping she knew what it was all about...

After a little bit of mouthing "What did you just put in my mouth?!" she settled right down and knew exactly what was happening. Well there's our neck reining!

Official western pony

Besides being quite spunky to begin with (Misty: "Wheeee!") kicking up her heels every time I asked for some more speed in the canter, or a flying change or just because, she eventually settled down and we had a lot of fun doing a little bit of reining work. I definitely need to get some more video because she's improved a ton since the first video I have of her doing a reining pattern. Sliding stops need some refreshing, but otherwise the spins have improved oodles, flying changes are still there if a bit too enthusiastic, circles are fair but we still tend to make funky shaped ones to the right, our jog trot has basically disappeared... But overall better. And SO MUCH FUN.

Today was another fun day. Cleaned stalls, gave both girls a really good grooming, lunged Jetta and then rode Misty. I tacked her up in her western clothes again. She was super touchy when I got on but eventually settled down. I might need to switch to a softer curb with shorter shanks, but we'll see.

Spunky McSpunkerton

She's figuring out how to go fast, but we still need to work on making a clearer distinction between our lope and fast canter. Flying changes were super smooth today. After a little bit, I noticed a flag in the corner. Ooh, let's play with that! I hopped off to pick it up and Misty decided to high-tail it out of there, because flags are SCARY. Luckily as soon as she exited the barn, she stopped and looked like "What do I do now?" so I could easily catch her. We marched back into the arena and after some initial snorting and minor spooking, she eventually figured out that the flag wasn't that bad.

I was able to get on her and walk and trot around carrying the flag. She didn't mind it rustling around or brushing her rump, but we didn't push it. Next time maybe we can canter and see if the snapping sound bothers her. Gosh I love this horse. She is just too much fun!

Future drill pony?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tack Sale Goodies

First off, if you haven't seen this blog post by Jenj, you need to read it. I don't know how I missed it a while ago, but I just somehow ran across it again and I love it! So great.

I always love sharing my tack sale goodies. And I had a pretty good sale this weekend! Things I found:
  • Fly sheet - a Schneider's fly sheet (seriously my favorite, I probably won't ever buy another because I love them so). Not exactly the same one that I already own that I got at this same sale two years ago brand new for $15. That one's a 75" with a neck cover and buckle front. This one is closed front and a 76" with no neck cover. It has a couple tears in the chest that should be easily fixed. Another $15 buy.
  • Loose ring happy mouth bit, brand new
  • Anne Kursinki's jumping clinic book - a dollar buy!
  • Elastic side reins
  • 70" Baker stable sheet for Misty

perfect fit!

Misty kind of raked in the goodies at this sale! She wasn't that impressed though and I think Jetta was kind of jealous, though I didn't tell her she got something too (admittedly a flysheet isn't that exciting) I also had a list of things to buy for a friend, I only ended up finding her a nice swallowtail dressage pad and some white fullseat breeches. I was bummed that I didn't find a cheap, fairly good quality western headstall since I really need one, but oh well. It was a good haul!

I definitely didn't need the baker sheet but I found it at $15 (there were actually multiples, I found a stable blanket and another sheet also super cheap!) and was trying to decide if I should get it as a sheet for her to wear at shows to stay clean since I don't have any sheets. One of the volunteers at the booth walked up and tried to get me to buy it for $10 and I just couldn't resist. I was slightly worried it wouldn't fit as a 70". Lazy me, I've never actually measured Misty. She just got all the hand-me-down blankets that were 75" and I knew they were a bit too big, so I thought she was probably a 72".

Overall, it was a nice study break for some retail therapy as I head into finals week!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Conformation Clinic: Part 1

First off, sorry this took so long! Thank you so much for sending photos for me to use in my project. I think it turned out really well and I had a lot of fun analyzing these horses.

Secondly, I wanted to do a little review of the program I used. I had the On Track Equine program as a trial. They are upgrading the system so it was a one-shot sort of deal and I had to download it for class. My first impressions of the program was that it was awesome. All sorts of tools to edit photos and videos, measure stride length, angles, distances, make straight lines, curvy lines, etc. I barely got to brush the amount of tools that this program has.

Despite all of that, I thought that the program had a lot of flaws and design issues that need to be remedied, which I'm assuming is what they're doing by re-releasing the software. For instance, saving the edited photos was very difficult and out of the 15 different photos I did, only 9 of them got saved. I have no idea where the other 6 went :( I'm going to see if I can borrow my teacher's copy of the program that she purchased and we'll see if I can do those other 6 again and get them posted.

In the meantime, I'm going to break these conformation clinics into groups of 3, comparing horses and "placing" them as if they were in a competition. Grouping is done randomly, just by the order that the horse's photos were saved to my computer. If I got multiple pictures, I tried to pick the one that I thought showed the horse to their best. Keep in mind that conformation is a fairly subjective field and I am judging for dressage here. Here we go!

Horse 1: Penny

Stats: 7 year old, 16.2hh Thoroughbred mare

Horse 2: Simon

Stats: 8 year old Thoroughbred gelding

Horse 3: Paddington

Stats: 15.1hh Haflinger gelding

Placing: 2, 3, 1

First Place: Simon

I chose Simon because overall, he is the most balanced horse of the group. While at first glance, I would say he is quite front heavy, in using the program I was able to determine that all of his "parts" were actually quite equal in length: neck, shoulder, barrel and hindquarters were all approximately equal.

His neck ties well into his forehand with the junction being above the point of his shoulder. He has a nice long and laid back shoulder, which means a longer stride.

His neck is well-muscled with a good length and nice clean throatlatch so he shouldn't have any issues flexing at the poll or bending.

He is a touch more downhill than ideal (his topline is nice and level, but when you look at the angle formed from his stifle to his elbow, he is one of the more downhill horses in this group).

Additionally, he is slightly sickle-hocked (his cannon bone doesn't line up to a straight line dropped from the point of the buttocks) meaning there will be additional stress on his hocks.

Another flaw is that he is slightly tied in behind at the knee, which is common in ex-racehorses though I'm not sure he ever actually raced?

His stifle is fairly low-placed, being below his sheath, allowing his hind leg to move freely without interfering with his body. His lumbo-sacral (LS) joint is ideally placed directly above the point of the hip which is considered very important for dressage horses, while both of the other horses have an LS joint slightly in front of the point of the hip.

Second Place: Paddington

Paddy placed second under Simon because he isn't quite as balanced as Simon and has several issues in conformation which will make dressage a little bit harder for him.

First off, he is fairly straight through the shoulder, which will limit stride length. He does have a nice long and upright humerus which can help, additionally making it easier for him to fold over jumps, but will not aid in dressage.

He has a long back which does not match the rest of his body parts and can make lifting and rounding the back more difficult than with a shorter back.

In looking at the hind end, he has a fairly sloped croup, which I personally tend to like in horses because it really allows them to use their hind end well and get beneath themselves, however, in dressage we tend to like a flatter croup which will mean a longer stride behind so they track up nicely. His stifle is pretty highly placed as well. I'd rather see it sit below the sheath, where it will allow a greater range of movement. Even with the higher stifle, he is not too downhill built.

His hind legs are slightly camped out, which could just be how he was stood for this photo, making his leg straighter. This is considered ok for a dressage horse, while in a jumper you want more angulation. His neck has a nice shape to it and ties in well to his shoulder and is a good length. He is slightly thick through the throatlatch, which could limit flexibility through the throatlatch and poll, however what is more important is the "space" behind the jaw that you can measure by feeling with the fingers. Ideally there should be at least 2 fingers of width behind the jaw. It's hard to evaluate through a picture, but it looks like he does have that "space" so he shouldn't have much trouble flexing.

He has a nice flat topline that could use a little bit more muscling. And he has nice large nostrils which aid in air intake and good slope to his pasterns (the "ideal" is 45 degrees and he is at about 53) which will mean a smooth ride and less predisposition for tendon/ligament injuries.

Third Place: Penny

Penny overall was the least balanced of this group and overall I would say is more ideally suited for jumping than dressage.

She has a short neck (could be partially due to the fact that she's slightly looking towards the camera) and longer back, we'd ideally like to see all four parts of the horse equal. The short neck could limit flexibility, but is actually better for dressage than for jumping. It is quite developed on the underside of the neck, which is because, as a jumper with a short neck (ideally a jumper would have a longer neck to use as a lever to propel over the jumps), those muscles are needed to help propel the horse over the jumps. The long back makes lifting and rounding the back harder (not impossible, just more work) and she has a weak loin that will require conditioning to keep it from developing a hunter's bump or sagging through the back as she ages.

Of this group of horses she is the most uphill, making her lighter on the forehand. She has a nice low stifle, which again is ideal especially for jumpers as it will allow her to easily clear wide jumps and get her hind end out of the way over larger jumps. Her hind leg is well positioned for soundness and her pasterns have a correct angulation for good movement and soundness.

Her shoulder is not quite as straight as Paddy's but could be more sloped, then again she has a very long and upright humerus which counteracts the slightly straight shoulder so she will still have a nice long stride. She also has large nostrils and a deep heart girth which should contribute to a large volume of air intake making her more athletic.

So there you have it. Stay tuned for part 2!

I hope I wasn't too hard on any of the horses, I tried to cover their strengths and their weaknesses. If you need clarification of anything, let me know. If you'd like to use photos of your horse on your blog, feel free, just link back to my blog please :)
Conformation resources:

I really like these articles by Judi Wardrope

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


It's so sunny out! I LOVE IT. I'm so incredibly happy when it's nice and sunny out. The only downside being that I don't want to go to class or stay inside and study, I just want to go outside and ride!

Tuesday I planned a trail ride with the monster pony. I woke up and it was foggy and cold outside but luckily by the time that I got to the barn and cleaned, it was all burned off and absolutely gorgeous out. We went solo, which is usually fine for Miss Monster.

She was actually good! She was quite snorty and prancy all the way to and on the trailer. I put her hind hoof boots on because last time the farrier was out she said her hind hooves were getting too worn down from trail riding in only front boots. Of course the boots I bought for her back hooves wouldn't fit because she's due for a trim, so I put the front boots on the back hooves and they magically fit! Luckily she was very sound with her fronts on the gravel too, so I didn't have to worry about that.

The main issue I had with her was pretty much just having her stand tied at the trailer while I put her polo wraps on. She was being such a brat about getting her hind legs wrapped... Eventually I got them all done and we headed out. She was fine over the bridge and immediately wanted to trot so I didn't bicker with her and just let her go and pick her pace. She picked out such an amazing extended trot. Geez, I wish I could figure out how to get that in the show arena! Eventually she decided that "Hmm, trotting like this uphill is really hard... maybe I should slow down?" And settled into a nice easy trot on a loose rein. I'm liking this!

We reached the narrow trail that winds up the hill in about 10 minutes or less, when it usually takes us 30 minutes at the walk on Misty. We walked past the point where we normally stop and found this really neat trail that wound through the trees. No one was out, which was surprising because even on a weekday morning we usually run into a mountain biker or dog walker or two. The downside of the little trail was super steep but the nice thing about Jetta is that she's very careful downhill.

We popped out of the trees onto a main road so we turned around and retraced our steps. I let Jetta pick her pace again and she decided that a canter was what she wanted to do... up the crazy steep and switch-back trail. I let her go, ready to ask her to slow to a more reasonable speed if necessary.

I always say this horse will never make a pole bender due to her tendency to run through the trees, but geeze she sure can get down and around those tight turns on the trail! She was really digging in and making those turns even without my input. I was impressed!

Eventually we did lose a boot in the mud (I was not surprised and couldn't really blame the boot) so I had to get off and fix it. She was good standing while I put it back on, despite trying to kick me (I mean, you can't be completely obedient all the time, right?) and we walked the rest of the way back to the trailer. Well, save for jumping a big log that was blocking a trail off limits. I just had to pop over that a couple times, which she did without a second thought! And this is the horse that thinks logs are scary.

Just a beautiful day

So that was really nice to have a good ride on Jetta. She's been absolutely atrocious in the arena so maybe we need some more outside time before we focus on doing dressage.

Also, some adorable pictures of Misty. She has decided that around noon is her naptime and she is not pleased when you interrupt her nap. So grumpy.

Just as I went to clean her stall, she lays down.

"I'm sleeping!"

I just love annoying her :)

She's so cute when she's mad!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Show Shirt Review

After a poor experience with a show shirt at my last show, I decided to do a review! And I'd love to hear what your favorite shirts are.

Essex Classics Coolmax Wrap Collar've completely switched to wrap collars in recent years after losing my collars so many times. They're just so much easier! Essex is definitely a great, well-known brand. Their shirts are super comfortable, well proportioned and great fabric. They are not cheap (though I did get this one, like everything else I own, on sale!), but certainly not as expensive as some brands, and well-worth their price. The collar fits well (I have tried shirts in the past with really tight collars!) and stays stiff without any ironing. I usually wear a 36 but fit fine in a 34 as well, though I would say that they're correctly sized. The only issue I have is that the wrists are so tight they have to be unbuttoned every time I want to put it on or take it off, though that's quite minor in the grand scheme of things.  

Conclusion: Highly recommend!

RHC Wrap Collar Shirt

Me wearing it for a schooling show
I was really pleasantly surprised by this shirt! It is a very affordable price (only $40!) and has stood up well to use. The fabric isn't as soft as the Essex, but it doesn't look like it and I've gotten quite a few compliments on it from other horse people. It is still comfortable, just not as silky as the Essex shirt. It washes well and while the collar could probably use a bit of an iron, it still stands up fine while buttoned up. I absolutely love the color and collar pattern that I got.

Conclusion: Great cheaper show shirt, definitely recommend for the price! I will probably buy more of these in the future.

 RJ Classics Prestige Collection Wrap Collar Shirt
I have this one with the pretty aqua lining
This is my most recent purchase. It was on sale and in my size and with my favorite color as the lining of the collar. So far, I have to say I am not pleased. It fits true to size. The fabric is fairly nice, not as soft as the Essex shirt but nicer than the RHC shirt. What I am not pleased about is the snaps on the collar. I undid the collar after my last ride and the snaps tore out of one side of the collar. Keep in mind that I wasn't ripping it open or anything. I think that I can sew them back in, but overall it was just poorly done. I still can't believe they came out. I haven't washed it yet, so I can't comment on durability.

Conclusion: Do not recommend, unless you're looking for a more casual show shirt where you don't want to button the collar or you don't mind reinforcing the snaps. The quality is nice and it's more affordable than the Essex shirt, but I would spend the little bit extra to get a better quality shirt.


Shirts I'd like to try:

Essex Classics Talent Yarn Competition shirt

I love that the buttons only go down part way. It sounds like it's made of nice fabric and I like how it looks like a more fitted style. Of course I love Essex, so I'm sure you can't go wrong with it, even if it does have a $130 price tag.

Ariat Aptos Short Sleeve Show Shirt

I'd really like to have a short sleeve show shirt for summertime to wear under my coat. I really like the look of this shirt and the price tag! Plus I've seen good reviews on it.

Alessandro Albanese Free Button Competition Shirt'll admit it. The sole reason I want to try this shirt is because of the magnetic button. I love magnetic closures! Too pricey for my budget at $139 to just get because of that, but maybe someday I'll find it on sale ;)

Middy n Me Sweet Virgina Show Shirt
This is my "when I win the lottery shirt" that I buy just because I think it's adorable. I love the color and patterns (pink and aqua blue are my two favorites!) and I love the silhouette.

So, what are your favorites?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

In The Way

Geez, school sure does get in the way of horse stuff, doesn't it? I'm sad to say that I've ridden twice over the past week.

I had a wonderful ride on Jetta on Tuesday (note the sarcasm). It was truly enjoyable (still sarcastic). She isn't off anymore (luckily?) and she's a giant pill.

Bet you didn't know Jetta was part dog, huh? First time trying to upload an instagram video... it came out weird:

She spent about half an hour sniffing the ground trying to decide if she wanted to roll or not.

Anyways. Friday it was absolutely glorious out weather-wise. A nice break in the downpour that we've been having so I decided to be very irresponsible and not do homework, instead spending all my time outside. I just couldn't resist! AC and I took the ponies for a trail ride and they were very good.

Don't think it can get any prettier!

Misty is shedding a TON, while Jetta is just barely starting. I thought Misty was almost done, but she decided that with the recent increase in temperatures, that she needed to prove me wrong. Her neck is all slicked out but the rest of her is still molting an alarming amount of hair. I seriously didn't think she had grown this much fur for the winter!

Definitely spring time!
Misty says "Yay no more blankets!"

Next day... so filthy

Still trying to decide what to do this month and next event-wise. I decided not to go out of state for cross country clinic next weekend unfortunately :( But hopefully xc schooling will happen soon! I am going to a tack sale though next weekend which I'm super excited for. And I haven't decided on whether or not to take Misty to a recognized show in California the first weekend of April. I'm very tempted, but I don't know about missing school/work for it. We shall see!

Friday, March 7, 2014

One Year

Can't believe it's been a whole year. I thought I would be able to write a whole new post about him, but I don't know what else I can say about him other than what I've already written.

I still look for him in the pasture when I drive past it. I miss his little orange spotted pricked ears. I miss how he used to whinny at me when I drove the truck past or how he would always come when I whistled. I still think about going out to the barn to cuddle with him when I've had a rough day. He had put up with my middle school and high school angst enough times that he would stand there forever while I clung to him.

I always thought he'd be there forever for me. He will always be my handsome old man.

I was taking a writing class this time last year. One of our assignments was to write a short story about our favorite room in our house where we grew up. I don't have a favorite room persay, but I do have a favorite place on our property: the barn. I wrote this little story a couple weeks before Grady passed away. I am not a good writer by any means. If you're a regular reader of this blog you probably know that. But I still love this little piece:

Dust motes glimmered in the golden sunlight that diffused through the frosted windows as she finished sweeping the concrete floor.  A copper colored horse, shiny from grooming, munched contentedly on his dinner in his stall. The hay was stacked neatly along the far wall, providing the perfect platform for curling up with the barn cat and a good book or a jumping off point for using the old, frayed rope that dangled from the ceiling as a swing. The hay’s sweet smell pervaded the small space, mingling with the smell of dust and horses. A saddle sat along one wall, taking the position of a prized possession. Its leather was worn and cracked but it gleamed with oil and the best care that a young girl could offer.
She remembered all of this as she inhaled the scent of her horse, remembering a simpler time when she was young and the barn was her favorite place. It still was her favorite place, somewhere she could escape from the daily stress of her life, her family, bills and college; a place where she could spend her time without the feeling of everything weighing down on her. She still wished for those simpler times when she could spend hours in the barn doing nothing, running away from her petty problems – the latest test that she didn’t do well on or the friends that didn’t stick around. The barn housed her best friend, the one individual that would always listen to her problems, gave her a shoulder to lean on and ultimately would always be there for her.
She couldn’t imagine growing up without horses. They were the ones who taught her to work hard, to listen to what couldn’t be said in words, that there were some things that you couldn’t use shortcuts to get to, that love was unconditional. Sure there were falls and many bruises, but they helped her to remain humble when she got too confident and reminded her that you could never learn all that there was.
That copper horse was still around. He was retired now and lived in a pasture, doing nothing but graze to his heart’s content. She owed him that much for all that he had given to her over the years; a safe and comfortable place to live out his days. He was no longer quite so shiny, he had plenty more white hairs in his coat and his back had dipped down and lost its strength. But he still nickered and trotted to her when she came to visit, still stood quietly when she buried her nose in his coat and inhaled, still listened to all of her problems. They no longer galloped across the field but they both still remembered the time they flew across the ground with nothing between them – no halter or bridle, no bit or rope – simply trust. And occasionally he would kick up his heels and canter stiffly around with his neck arched and his tail streaming in the wind and she would smile. He still looked the part despite his age, her red Arabian stallion, disguised as a small copper gelding.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Blog Hop: Seven Deadly Sins

  Loved this blog hop from L at Viva Carlos!


Seven great things/strengths in your riding life
  1. Confidence in myself
  2. Learn quickly from a variety of media (lessons, auditing, videos, books, etc)
  3. Somewhat of a good balance, almost always can make time in my life for horses
  4. Love to learn
  5. Willing to work hard and get dirty
  6. No fear, willing to work with the naughty horses
  7. Two awesome horses


Seven things you lack or covet for you or your horse
  1. Money to go towards lessons and showing
  2. Custom CWD Jumping Saddle
  3. Brown Mundial tall boots
  4. More time to spend on the horses
  5. All the Antares things
  6. A fancy show barn to keep my horse at
  7. Consistent training schedule


Seven things that make you angry
  1. People who have the time/money to go far in horses, but don't appreciate it
  2. When boarding barns don't take good care of my horses
  3. My posture
  4. Horses with poor ground manners
  5. Rude people
  6. When I have time to ride, but then my ponies magically go lame
  7. People that don't take adequate care of their horses


Seven things you neglect to do or cut corners on 
  1. Mane pulling
  2. Cleaning my tack - I do it about once a month or before shows
  3. Doing no stirrups work
  4. Exercising myself and not just my horses
  5. Dry cleaning show clothes - because of this all my show clothing is machine washable!
  6. Picking hooves every day or at least every couple of days
  7. Daily grooming


Seven most expensive things you own for your horse/riding
  1. My Deniro tall boots
  2. Misty - most expensive horse I've owned yet!
  3. My Grand Prix Rylie show coat
  4. My english saddles, a Pessoa and a Duett
  5. My Smartpak Wellfleet Bridle
  6. A pair of FITS breeches
  7. My IRH Elite Ultra helmet


 Seven guilty pleasures or favorite items
  1. Spending most of the day at the barn even when I should be doing homework
  2. Splurging for nice quality leather
  3. Tack sales
  4. Going for a gallop
  5. Saddle pads
  6. Trail rides
  7. My belt buckles I've won


Seven things you love about horses and riding
  1. Therapy/stress relief
  2. Getting outside - on the trails and the beach
  3. The competition
  4. My relationship with my horses
  5. The adrenaline
  6. Horse smell
  7. What amazing athletes horses are

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Video Comparison

Sorry for the poor quality. The files were so large I couldn't get them to convert to a youtube friendly format so I just videoed the videos with my phone. 

I think it's really interesting to see the differences between the two. She's a little bit steadier in the bridle (though she's still bouncing around in the contact a lot). Her tempo's more even, I think she moves a little nicer as well. She's more bending, her transitions are better. Halts still suck. The first video is Intro C taken in July and then second was from the past weekend. Definitely a little bit of improvement over 7 months, though we still have a ways to go.

Please ignore my equitation in the second video. I really can't ride when I'm hungover, lol. Plus Misty was losing gas fast so I'm trying my hardest to keep her going forward. She had much better impulsion the day before, I wish we had caught our winning ride on camera!

Monday, March 3, 2014

What a Weekend

Wow, what a weekend. I don't know what to call it otherwise. Lots of not-so-good stuff, but a lot of great stuff too. Overall, I think it was a good adventure!

And such an adventure it was...

(This is a really, really, really long post. Bonus points if you make it to the end!)

(Fail) Friday:

Originally, the plan was for me and my friends ML and AC to get a ride in KP's big trailer up to the show on Friday. Despite having big living quarters its got a tiny tack room, so I opted to take my trailer too just because it was already mostly loaded (lots of my show stuff lives in the trailer) plus it'd just be easier. There was also some indecision on sleeping arrangements for everyone so I figured if I brought my truck I could sleep in it if I needed.

Cleaning stalls before we left = too tired to get up

"Clean around me"

Luckily it was a good plan to bring my own trailer. KP was on vacation in Canada and was driving back on Friday when the car broke down and took forever to get fixed so there was no way she was coming all the way down to get the truck and trailer and the horses. ML was having a slight panic attack because she couldn't get anyone to coordinate anything. JM, the trainer, wasn't answering his phone and she was trying to get him to drive the big truck and trailer up since none of us have driven a big gooseneck before and I was not about to try it for the first time with KP's shiny new trailer. AC was being non-cooperative since she hadn't slept in 24 hours due to schoolwork and trying to get things together for the show so she was sleeping and ultimately decided on coming up the next day because she didn't ride until 1:30. I offered to pick up ML's horse and get up to the show grounds and unload.

I stuck ML's horse Addie in the trailer, briefly thought that I shouldn't tie her because her lead rope had a knot in the end so it wouldn't slide out of my blocker tie rings if she pulled back, but decided because she was being so good and willing to go in the trailer, that I'd have no problem leaving her tied while I shut the trailer door. Wrong. She pulled back, snapped her halter and took off.

Lovely. I had visions of her galloping the whole property with me trying to catch her... Luckily I was able to catch her quickly, I had an extra halter for her and I got her onto the trailer. Phew. The drive was uneventful, got there and unpacked the ponies and our stuff.

Misty definitely majorly feeds off other horses. When she's solo, she is fantastic. But if another horse is being spooky or wound up, she will be too. Addie was pretty amped when we got to the fairgrounds, growing from her already tall 17h to about 18h complete with snorting and prancing. She pretty much immediately settled once I stuck her in a stall but Misty did not. She was now amped too, bucking and rearing in her stall. Oh geez mare.

Finally ML and JM arrived with the big trailer in tow. Luckily that finally worked out.

We finished setting everything up with the stalls and ML and I set up our tent for the night before going to ride. It was nice getting there the night before to school in the arena and everything. Misty got to see the judges booth and scary arena. She settled right down while under saddle which was nice. She was still figety in the stall, but not as bad as beforehand.

Afterwards, JM was still schooling another group member's horse Ducati (which is now my new favorite horse, he was so cute!) and ML and I were starving so we decided to get dinner going. LE cooked a lasagna and brought it frozen so we just had to reheat it in the trailer's oven. We got to the trailer and first of all, there's no oven. There's a stove and a fridge and a microwave. Hm. Secondly, the plug for electricity and the socket don't match. We needed a converter. Finally, through our starving haze (and possibly some small amount of alcohol), we decide that we can use the propane stove to heat the lasagna, which is frozen. In a glass pan.

Let's just say I will never ever make that mistake again. It literally exploded. No lasagna for us and glass shards everywhere. Oops. So we ordered pizza. It was definitely a rough day.

Basically by this point I had virtually decided that I was never going to a horse show with this group EVER AGAIN. Nothing was going right and it was just adding so much stress when usually going solo is minimal stress for me, though I often wish I had a support group.

(Super) Saturday:

I had to wake up bright and early to get Misty ready for our classes. I rode Intro C at 8:35am and Training 1 at 9:17am. She needed to be fed and watered, her legs washed, body brushed, mane braided and I needed to memorize my tests and get dressed.

Everything went smoothly and we went in for our first test. She was quite up and tense, looking at everything (especially the newly installed video booth). She wasn't awful but there was a buck thrown in there during the test and I could have been a more effective rider.

We ended up with a second place out of 5 which I was quite surprised at considering how awful the test felt to me. We got a 61.5% which was good because it definitely felt more like a 58%. Mostly 6.5's on our movements except for a 4.5 for the buck and a 7 for our left lead canter and final halt. Comments: "Talented horse and so cute! Some lack of confidence in this test in rider's hands. Try to help balance to gently steady connection."

We had some time to school in between and KP made the comment that I needed to really get her into the outside rein to keep her focused on the job at hand, which was a really helpful reminder. I got her head down a bit to get her to relax, really got her onto the outside rein and kicked her forward. We had a really great Training 1 test. I rode her well and she did quite good for being the baby that she is.

Surprisingly, we got a first place in a class of three! With a score of 65.3% too. I was quite proud of the pony. I think our work is finally starting to pay off. Unfortunately, no video of this class. The whole group I was with disappeared during most of the morning, either still sleeping or helping ML who had forgotten her braiding kit so they had to go buy new stuff. That was a little disappointing not to get any help before the class when I needed it or have anyone who watched it let me know what they thought.

We got a lot of 7's on this test. Even an 8 on our left lead canter! Definitely need to keep working on our right side work. Comments: "Talented horse! Try to be the balanced center (s)he needs and ride more with body to soft contact. Maybe a gentler bit." I'm not sure how much gentler we can get than a happy mouth but I may pull out a fat french link loose ring and see if she goes any differently in that, just because.

The rest of the day was just watching everyone go and helping out. AC arrived super late, she overslept by two hours so she arrived an hour before her ride time. Luckily she had all of us to help her out, one person groomed her horse, while I braided while someone else tacked him up and she got dressed. Her horse is such a schoolmaster so she did great even with a 15 minute warm up.

LE had two awesome rides on her little horse Ducati. He's the brother of the horse that she offered to sell me last summer for $50 and I wish I had taken her up on it! He is a funky cross but exactly what I like build-wise and has an amazing temperament. He scored a 74% and 71% in Training 1 and 2... and this is all after 5 months under saddle.

Newest favorite baby

ML ended up having a rough couple rides on her horse. She is going into heat and the transitional cycles are the worst for her. She had some really nice, forward and relaxed moments, but she also had some rearing, spinning nonsense. Poor girls ovaries were hurting though because normally she is the most tolerant horse ever for being another baby in the group!

Nice relaxed moment for ML and Addie

It was a long day, but by the end we were all having fun despite the nasty weather that had rolled in. It was so cold and pouring rain the whole time. We started drinking and went out to dinner, basically having a blast. This is the group of people I go boating with in the summer and they are so much fun. Nothing better than a group of crazy horse people.

(Somewhat Okay) Sunday:

Oh my goodness. Never ever am I drinking the night before I have a ride in the morning. I was so hungover for my ride. I was just crossing my fingers that Misty wouldn't throw in a buck or spook during our ride because I wasn't quite sure of my stickability.

Luckily I still remembered my test from the day before and despite forgetting to put Misty's blanket and neck cover on (she only wore her cooler overnight) she had stayed perfectly clean which was astonishing.

I got on really early because I just needed to ride and not think about my headache or the fact that I just wanted to curl back up in bed where it was warm and I didn't have to worry about riding straight lines or round circles.

The test went fairly well. Misty was much better than the day before in terms of transitions, relaxation and contact. But I was obviously not at the top of my game so I didn't give her the ride she needed. Our circles were a little too small, we lost impulsion and I didn't ride her into the outside rein enough and she popped her head up above the bit a few times. She really didn't put a foot wrong though, and I was still really proud of her. Of course this was the test I chose to get videoed, so once I upload it you will get to enjoy my test in all its hungover glory.

We ended up with a third place out of 5 in that test. Score of 61.8%. This was a much harder scoring judge than the day before. Not a whole lot of positive comments. Mostly got 5.5's and 6's. A couple 7's and a 7.5 on our trot work. I thought we had a GREAT stretchy trot but only scored a 6. Comments: "Very nice partnership. Horse seems a little reluctant to contact, so (s)he is not really stretching over the back. (S)he is still so elastic that I see lots of potential. Be very tactful in asking for stretch over topline so (s)he is willing to reach to the bit and show more bending and suppleness."

Loot for the weekend

Everyone in our group absolutely loved Misty. I got some great compliments on her and the consensus was that she is a great little dressage horse that hopefully can go far! And KP is currently trying to convince me to take her First Level at a recognized show in California next month! I don't know about that...

Overall, what a good experience for Misty. I feel like she needs all the miles she can get at this point, which she definitely did this weekend. She improved a ton in terms of contact and transitions just over the span of three days. She got to experience an overnight show and while she wasn't great in the stalls the first night, by Sunday she was perfectly fine. I ended up having a lot of fun, even with all the stressful elements. It was a good weekend.

Take away for things to work on:
  • Halts were almost always to the right. Need to work on straightness.
  • Our right-side still needs work overall
  • Contact (of course)
  • Impulsion - it was fantastic this weekend, but I really had to work for it. I carried a whip which helped but didn't use it because she gets so offended by it. Maybe spurs next time?
  • First level work! Lengthenings and leg yields need work.