Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Little Jumping Bean

Trask and I went to another derby this past weekend. Spoiler alert... this one didn't go as well as the last one.

I jumped him the day before the show and he was AWESOME. A little bit strong maybe, but he didn't hesitate at any of the jumps. I brought out some new jumps - a little fake liverpool and a panel fence. And he wasn't bothered in the slightest. I bumped the jumps up to the highest we've done thus far and I don't think he even noticed.

Biggest little fence so far!

I ended up hauling in the day of the show since we didn't do our dressage until 11:43am. We got there plenty early so I let Trask graze in the field for a bit since I wanted him to be relaxed and I also didn't want to repeat our trailer tying/halter breaking episode from a while back...

When I finally tacked him up and started warming up in the indoor arena... I knew it was going to go poorly for us. He was SO SPOOKY. About everything. The walls, the mirrors, the windows, the birds, the stall cleaners, etc. It was ridiculous. One thing I loved about this show was how absolutely nice everyone was. It was awesome!

Attempting to eat plastic flowers

Another person warming up noticed our difficulty with the mirrors (aka Trask stopping dead and staring at himself, then trying to run away from his reflection) and she offered to lead us up to the mirror which helped quite a bit, though Trask was still on edge. We did our best with the warm-up but I knew it wasn't going to happen for us.

We got to walk around the outdoor show arena briefly and Trask wasn't scared of anything surprisingly. They had some jumps and barrels stashed along the edge of the arena but he didn't care. Nor did he seem bothered by the large black water tanks or the hose reel outside the railing. We started our test and it wasn't too bad until we did our first circle. All of the sudden we were traveling sideways instead of in a nice circle, towards C. I managed to keep him kind of on track and then we went to canter. He didn't want to. With a very ugly transition, I finally got him into a canter but when we circled the same thing happened and he veered off towards C. We came back down to the trot and then the walk for our free walk across the diagonal and I was confident that this was something he could nail. Nope. He kept popping his head up to look around. We went for our next trot circle and the same thing happened, drifting off towards C. At this point I'd had enough and this was a schooling show anyways so I gave him a big kick with my outside leg, earning us a nice few steps of canter (ugh) and we finished our circle. We got to the corner almost to C and he tried to jump out of the arena. I ended up having to circle him in the corner so we could get our canter transition while he continued to try and jump out of the arena.

At least he looked nice part of the time?

Finally got a very, very ugly canter transition, did our circle, trotted to X and did our (very crooked) salute. And walked out of the arena very disappointed.

I'm not quite sure what happened but it was definitely a big baby moment. That test was so incredibly ugly, I was so embarrassed. We went back to the indoor and schooled our canter transitions for a while, during which we had a discussion about spooking at things unnecessarily. Ended on a better note, but I was still pretty frustrated.

We had a bit to rest before jumping and I didn't even attempt to pick up my test. While walking to the jump field I had my bf grab it and then realized I didn't have my number since I had left it on my dressage bridle. The person manning the table quickly offered to make me a new one so I wouldn't have to walk all the way back to the trailer. Like I said, so nice!

I got on Trask up at the warm-up area for jumping. Of course as soon as I got on my eventing vest's zipper split which was fantastic. I tried to fix it while the bf held Trask but I couldn't get it. A very nice bystander came up and offered to help, so she ended up holding Trask while I held the edges of the vest together and my bf tried to get the zipper down. With all that teamwork we finally got it back to normal.

Trask warmed up well. They had a pretty large log for warm-up and while he initially refused it, after a good sniff he hopped right over. I felt good about our warm-up but I knew the course would be a struggle for us.

And it was a struggle right off the bat. The first fence, a stadium fence, was right next to fence 8 which was a small log next to the water. Since this was Intro level, the water was optional so you could go over the small log instead. Even though we had been trotting and cantering through the water a mere couple weeks ago, he thought the whole area - water, log and first fence was HORRIFYING. It took me forever and a half to get him to walk through the start flags. Again, pretty embarrassing. Finally walked him through the start flags, marched him up to the first jump so he could sniff it and then we came back around and trotted it. It was so nice that people clapped for us every time he jumped something that he initially refused. It made me feel a lot better that it seemed that people knew he was a baby and we were really struggling, so that was nice.

He's so cute though!

He popped over and we headed to the second fence, a large mossy log. He stopped at it, sniffed it, then popped over. We cantered up to the third fence, a moderate sized log. He seemed game so I let him keep his canter and he popped over it without hesitation. We crossed the bridge and cantered up the hill to fence four, another log. He jumped this one without hesitation too. We approached the fifth fence, a stadium fence but he would not pay attention and was spooking at the fences in the tree line so he almost missed the stadium fence but I made him do an awkward walk/trot hop over it, resulting in a pulled rail but no refusal. We trotted down the hill to a small coop, which he refused. At this point my legs were absolutely dead and I could barely even give him a squeeze so I just clucked at him and hoped he'd go over it. He did and we cantered to the next coop, this one he hesitated at but didn't refuse and hopped over.

Generously clearing the tiny coop - I chopped my face off cause I looked ridiculous

Then we got to the dreaded fence 8. I knew I wasn't going to try and get him in the water, I just wanted to hop the tiny log then go to fence 9 (a stadium fence) and be done and go home. He refused the log so I thanked the timers and left.

I was pretty bummed since I knew before the show we'd likely get DQ'd for refusals, but my goal was 1) stay in the dressage arena (barely achieved), 2) no rearing (mostly achieved, there were a couple tiny rear's that my bf called "expressive turns"), 3) jump all the jumps even if we had a lot of refusals (fail) and 4) no falling off (yay I really did achieve this one!!)

Babies are so good at humbling you. I really thought we were ready for this show since he was schooling so well at home and we had schooled at this facility recently. Oh well. Packing up to go, the super nice lady parked next to me (her daughter had the CUTEST pony) complimented me on my patience on the jump course and wished me well in vet school (she noticed the sticker on my truck).

I love how nice everyone was at this event! It made it so much better even with a disappointing outcome.

Takeaways for me were - work more with the dressage whip so I can carry and use it at a show without him getting offended. Continue our work on canter transitions and getting him to pay attention to my outside leg. Work on getting him to jump unfamiliar jumps the first time without having to sniff them (thus earning us a refusal). Get him in more water!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Big First!

Well my little nugget finally got her toes trimmed. I was very worried about how it would go. She's been really good with learning how to pick up her feet (less good with learning how to lead...) but I hadn't had a chance to play with the rasp on her feet or practice bringing her feet forward for the farrier.

Cute teeny-tiny hoofies!

AC, my amazing farrier, came out to do Trask's hooves and we set up an appointment to do Jetta and Maisie's. I've been so lucky to have her - she's the one that helped me teach Jetta to have her feet done when she was 2 years old and she is the most patient person ever. I can't say enough good things about her. She would come out several times in a week because we'd only get one or two hooves done at a time before Jetta's little brain was fried and she never charged me for the extra visits.

She's getting so big!

I warned her in advance of how Maisie hated being restrained and liked to throw tantrums when she didn't like something. She wasn't phased and said if she could only get one or two hooves done then she'd come back another time.

The day of Maisie's Big Day of the First Hoof Trim I met AC at the barn and plopped some hay down in front of Jetta so she wouldn't wander, closed the paddock gate so there would be no escapes, and put on my gloves. We started with Maisie's back hooves since AC said it's usually easier for them to handle. Maisie was perfect. I could not believe it. She picked up her hooves willingly and let AC hold them and rasp away. She didn't try any kicking and she didn't try to pull away!

In progress

After her back feet we gave her a break and I let her go while we did Jetta's hooves. Then back to Maisie's front hooves. She was a little sassy when I tried to lead her to a more open spot but she acquiesced and AC got to work on her fronts. She even let her pull her feet forward! She was just so good. I couldn't believe that this was my little baby, she must have gotten replaced with another one! The worst thing she tried to do was nibble on AC's hair, which all horses try to do since it's nice and curly.

So that was a complete non-issue! If only all of our big firsts could be that easy...

All done

Jetta also got lunged because she is FAT. And she got her rations reduced. She still looks pregnant! Maisie was pretty cute about trying to keep up with mom and I loved watching her move. This is going to be so fun watching her grow up!

Copy cat
"Baby where are you going?!?!?!"
Baby gallop!
That trot!
And then poor mama got a bath

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Babies are Dramatic and Yellow Jackets Suck

Trask got to go real cross country schooling for the first time about a week ago. It was interesting of course. We went with KP and her horse Rogue, who is Trask's half brother. They definitely remembered eachother on the trailer ride over and since Trask is already pre-disposed to being herd bound, he was attached at the hip.

It is very interesting the differences between the two horses. They look pretty similar to each other, though Trask has a bit more bone, different hind end conformation, and completely different personalities. They are both very sweet on the ground, but Rogue is a little lazy under saddle, while I've never been able to say that about Trask. Rogue is definitely much more brave too, he ended up having to lead us through all the scary places and while KP hasn't ever jumped him undersaddle, he jumped everything first because Trask refused to do it by himself.

At least we're having really great dressage rides!

It was a good outing, though I was frustrated. Especially after how much he loved jumping the logs at the derby we did, I thought he'd do well schooling. But sometimes his baby brain just short circuits and I think having his brother there was just too exciting for him to handle. Eventually I got off and lunged him over a little jump and he came back to his senses a bit and we were able to jump a few things. He definitely can do banks easily! That's the one thing he didn't hesitate on was the little BN bank, he did it by himself, both up and down!

I was really excited that we got him in the water at least. He absolutely refused last time I tried, even following a horse in. Both KP and I both had to get our feet wet, but Rogue eventually went in and then with a loooooot of persuasion, Trask finally got his feet wet and figured out it wasn't such a big deal. By the end we were trotting and cantering through the water like he'd always been doing it... you'd never know that we spent almost an hour trying to get him in in the first place.

KP said she was really pleased with him, though she missed his two big spooks where I almost came off. I was less pleased, but it wasn't that bad of an experience. He just needs lots more exposure!

I feel this. A lot.

Then the other day I decided to get a tarp out and see how he reacted to walking over it. I figured it would be a big deal so it'd be good for us to work through it. I carried it out to the pasture in a ball and put it on the ground... Trask instantly sniffed it, grabbed it in his mouth, and shook it. I've had many horses do that and they usually freak out once the tarp rustles. Nope, he didn't care. He dropped it and started pawing at it. I stretched it out and put some poles on it to hold it in place and he didn't even hesitate to walk and trot over it. Of course, while I was lunging him over it I got stung by a yellow jacket. Those things hurt!! I've never gotten stung by one before and holy smokes. I'm terrified of bees to begin with so that didn't help. We high-tailed it out of the pasture, making it probably the shortest training session Trask has ever had, but I was not about to get stung or have Trask stung either!

And more baby dramatics... Maisie is learning to lead a bit. I still have a butt rope and chest rope but she steers kind of and we can do circles in the paddock. She lifts and lets you hold all four of her hooves. She gets her first hoof trim soon! That'll be very interesting... I have forewarned my farrier, but hopefully things go smoothly!

I went for a fun ride though when my bf, who was taking pictures, decided to make a funny noise to get Maisie's ears up and she DID NOT LIKE. She took off with me holding on, thinking I could get her stopped. Nope, she kept on trucking and I fell to my knees and she dragged me about 15 feet. Babies are strong! I didn't want her to learn she could run away from me, but dang. My left calf swelled to almost twice it's size and I have a lovely bruise developing. We ended up making friends with my bf and the scary noise by the end with lots of scritches, but geez.

One day she'll grow into this saddle pad!

6 weeks difference! She's growing so fast

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Young Grasshopper

Trask and I completed our first eventing derby-style show! He is officially a little grasshopper now.

A facility that I used to ride at a lot growing up has now started to offer eventing derbies. I think they had one or two before this show, but it's a hard thing to find in our area and sounded low key so I thought I'd enter Trask. We haven't done a whole lot of jumping so I entered him in the teeny-tiniest division, Grasshopper.

We had two really great rides before the show. I've been trying to ride him outside more because he's perfect in the arena, but can get a little fresh and switch his listening off a bit when we're outside. The first few times I ever rode him outside I was pretty sure we had no brakes to speak of... But he's getting much better!

I think a big helper was getting better control of his shoulders. When he has his little baby meltdowns, he just runs his outside shoulder right through my aids, which is very bad if you are, for instance, on a trail ride along the edge of a cliff... Anyways, he's doing much better now that we have been warming up on a "square" where I ask him to bring his shoulders around 90 degrees in the corners. I have much better control over his shoulders now and he's not blowing through my leg as much.

We jumped our first little course right before the show. Mostly we've just been jumping one or two jumps at a time, but we strung together a tiny course of five fences. He was awesome! He sometimes rushes towards the barn, but when we were jumping he loped along without rushing, he did come in a little crooked at times, but never tried to run out and jumped very willingly. I was super happy with him!

Friday I hauled him down for the show. The one thing I didn't quite like about this show was that it was twice the cost of the usual eventing derbies we enter (one division + an overnight stall). I might not attend in the future because of this factor but we'll see. I got him a stall because they charged a haul-in fee and the stall was only $10 more than the haul-in fee. Plus, I figured it would be good for him to be ridden around the grounds beforehand since he can be a little nervous in new environments.

He was super good and we rode in both the dressage arena and outside around the course, we were allowed to jump the warm-up jumps and I got to see how the course was layed out. The course is just a stadium course of 10 jumps, then 8 cross country jumps laid out in a circle. So nothing too exciting or challenging. He absolutely loved jumping the tiny logs they had for the grasshopper division and I even jumped him over the inviting BN log they had out. We spent a majority of the time desensitizing him to the large canopy and strands of plastic flags. It was really breezy so everything was flapping in a terrifying, horse-eating way. Eventually he got used to it and I was very happy when I put him away for the night.

All the horse eating things

Of course once I looked over the course map I worried a bunch all night. The last jump of the stadium was marked as the hay bales... he's never jumped hay bales and they're pretty big for a grasshopper division!

The next day he warmed up pretty tense and worried for dressage. Of course there was a giant tractor moving the manure pile and he could see it from the warm-up arena. It was LOUD and he was distracted by it. But once he relaxed I was really happy with how he felt. My mom and bf came to watch which was fun.

We entered the arena for Intro test B.  We trotted and trotted and trotted around the outside of the dressage ring for what felt like forever. We sniffed the judge's table. And finally we just walked and walked for a while until the judge FINALLY rang the bell. We did our first halt and saluted the judge. And then stood there... and stood there.... and she never nodded back so I just went on, hoping I hadn't missed something. They had given us enough time outside the ring that he was fine with the judges booth and there was no spooking like our first show. He did his first circle, then came walking around the corner facing the stands, where my mother, in her neon orange shirt, was standing at the rail trying to video our round, and halted dead, staring at her. He started backing up and she realized what was happening and sat down. As soon as she did, we were able to continue on, I was cracking up. He is such dumb-dumb sometimes!

Overall, the test was really good. Our free walk was fantastic, he was relaxed and attentive. He wasn't 100% soft and steady in the bridle the whole time, but I was very happy with the test and it was a huge improvement over our first show.

Guess what we scored?? A whopping 80% for a second place. I couldn't help but laugh at how extraordinarily off the judging was. We got mostly 8's and a few 9's. I have no idea who was judging, but she definitely was not a dressage judge. It just made me giggle... especially the walk movement where he halted and backed up, we scored a 7 with the comment "silly horse!" I know it's a schooling show and they want to make it a good experience for the green horses, but it just made me laugh.

We had a whole three and a half hours until jumping so I put Trask away and napped in the truck. I walked the course briefly and saw with relief that the hay bale jump that I was so worried about had been parted so all we had to do was go between the bales. That made me feel a lot better. All the stadium jumps were just poles on the ground with flower boxes. I wasn't worried about the flowers because all the jumps that we've been practicing with at home have flowers and he's never cared about them.

Warming up was very hectic and Trask was pretty worried and kind of freaking out a little. "We're in a field! With other horses! OMG the other horses are cantering! In a field! OMG that horse is cantering by itself all the way over there, what's wrong?!?!?!" <- pretty much his internal monologue the entire time. He absolutely could not handle the warm up stadium jumps and I kept losing his shoulder to the left and he'd refuse the jump, then get extremely upset when I tapped his shoulder with my crop. Finally I ditched my crop as it was just making the problem worse and once we finally got a nice straight jump we just went for a walk. I tried to stand and watch the riders go before us, but he started trying to rear (sigh...) so we just walked.

Once we started the course though, the fun really began. He immediately refused the first fence... twice. Luckily the time didn't start until we did the first jump, so the refusals didn't count. We finally made it over the first jump, but then refused the second jump. When he finally jumped it, he leaped so big I hit the brim of my helmet on his neck. It was wonderful. The third jump was much the same but finally by the fourth jump he was in the groove of things and we were able to just trot around the course. Finally we got through the hay bales and picked up a canter for the cross country part. He was absolutely perfect for this part. I think he really enjoyed himself! Internal monologue was more like "This is awesome! I'm such a champion, look at me go! I'm jumping things! Whoooo!"

I was very happy with him the entire time we were cantering over the logs. He never rushed (there were some scary bolting horses out there) and he never hesitated over the jumps. Even when we got to the very last one... it was decorated with flowers. I was like great, he's gonna refuse the very last fence. He just pricked his ears up and wiggled a little bit but didn't hesitate and popped over it. I was so proud! He easily came back down to a walk too. Good baby!

I had to leave before the final placing was done, but I was pretty sure we were out of the ribbons because none of the other horses had refusals.

I ended up getting second out of six horses! I have no idea how. The scoring makes zero sense to me, but I love ribbons so I'll take it. I picked up my ribbon the next day but I was kinda bummed since they also had separate ribbons for a TB/half TB (Trask is half TB) high point in each division, that we actually won first place in our division for the weekend. But she never gave me that ribbon, nor did we get our prize to go with the ribbon we did get (both first and second place were supposed to get prizes in addition to the ribbons). When I'm paying that much for a schooling show I want all the ribbons/prizes I can get! So I was bummed about that.

For a one-person run show, it did go fairly well. I absolutely know how hard it is to run a show from experience so she gets all my kudos for doing such a good job by herself, but hopefully she can get a few things smoothed out before I come back, namely an actual dressage judge, someone to run the office while she does the timing for jumping, appropriate ribbons, better scoring for the jumping phase, etc. But I had a really fun time and it was really good for Trask!