The New Barn

I am sure some of you saw this pic on instagram:

Happy mare #majestic #horsesofinstagram

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and you might have had a brief thought about how it didn’t look like this pic:

May wishes everyone a #merrychristmas! #horsesofinstagram

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Then maybe you saw this pic:

Green grass. Yellow pony. And a @greenguardequine muzzle! #horsesofinstagram #draftcross #kentucky

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and it definitely didn’t look like this one…

Sometimes I really do wonder what she is thinking #horsesofinstagram #ponyspam #instabootylicious

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Or maybe you just know me personally and know that I moved May to a new barn! The “reasons” are pretty mild, as far as these things go. I wanted to be with a trainer that had more of a “team” going to the local shows like the one I did last month, I was also looking for someone who was around for at least most of the winter months, and I was looking for a program where a bit more of the horse care was on the trainer instead of the owner. This is 100% a preference thing, but I think this type of program just works better for my lifestyle.

The new barn!

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The barn is part of a 40 acre farm, but NT only manages the small barn in blue. May will be turned out in the field that is circled in green. The other part of the property is rented by a Dressage trainer who has her Silver medal and is an L graduate. Both sides get along well, share both arenas, and share some general barn duties (like dragging the arenas). I liked this mostly because it means that, even if NT is away, there is another professional keeping an eye on the arenas/general barns. New Trainer (NT) goes to Aiken for a couple of weeks before the start of the season in KY and travels a bit for shows, but that works for me. The barns are completely separate, so that keeps both programs from bumping up against one another.

The covered building next to the small barn is the indoor. This isn’t my picture, so sorry it is in a weird format. The interesting thing, for me, is that this is the first “open” indoor arena I have ever ridden in. They don’t close it in the winter, so it might be a bit cold. However, I figure it shouldn’t be much colder than a stand-alone, closed in indoor. In fact, it might even be warmer, as sometimes that stand alone indoor is like a fridge!

The indoor and outdoor arena are right next to each other (see the pic below). Next to the outdoor arena is a big open field, which most people use to either warm up, cool out, or do some fitness. The property next to ours is also open to us to go trail riding. I am pretty excited about getting to explore those a bit more!Image result for tuscany hollow stables

The barn May is in has an interesting setup, with a main barn aisle with stalls, tack room, feed room, etc and then a line of stalls that just open to the outside of the barn and back up to the feed room, tack room, etc. May is in one of those outside stalls, and she seems to LOVE being able to stick her head out and watch what is going on out in the fields. While the barn gets a nice crosswind with all the doors open, here are also ceiling fans that keep the air moving. Since the horses are in during the day, May seems to be really appreciating this feature.

So far, everyone I have met at the new barn has been super warm and welcoming. It’s definitely a very social barn, which I realized I had been missing more than I realized. I think that is pretty much it! May settled in really well. Although, she was a bit of a beast for our first ride on Tuesday. I think this was more due to the fact that I had barely ridden her the week before vs. the stress of moving. Either way, I have my first lesson tonight, so stay tuned!

My First Volunteer Experience

Now, it has been a goal of mine since I got involved in eventing to volunteer at horse trials. However, when I lived in NJ, horse trials were 2+ hours away, and I just couldn’t make the time commitment work. Last year, my late-summer wedding and then fall house search kept me from being able to make any reliable weekend plans.

This year though, I was determined to volunteer. I signed up for EventingVolunteers.Com, and I looked around… and I saw nothing. Ok… cool. I kept it on the list, and I vowed to check back. I figured an event at the KY horse park or even more locally would be in order!

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Then, I saw a please on facebook from those putting on the IEA Horse Trials at the Hoosier Horse Park in Indiana. I gave it a quick google and found it to be about an hour and half from my house. Great! Then, I dug a little deeper and found out that IEA Horse Trials also runs the classic format for Training and Novice, so I shot the event organizer an email and basically told her, “I have never volunteered before, but I am not a total newbie to this whole thing.” She signed me up for Show Jumping Scribe on Saturday, and a commitment was made!

When the day came, it meant I had to be in my car by 7:30AM to (get coffee) make it up to the event. I had to be there by 10AM, but I figured being a bit early never hurt anyone! I ended up pulling in around 9AM, and I was completely lost. I found a sign that pointed toward the show office, so I parked near that sign, close to some other cars. I grabbed my bag and headed that way.

I found the show office (next to a real parking lot, oops), and asked them where SJ was. The response I got? “It’s really far away.” Ummm…. ok, but like in what direction? Do I need to drive there? A passerby helped me out, and she told me that if I headed towards the barns and just kept walking, I would see it. Awesome. (It turned out to be a 5 minute walk… not far at all by horse show standards.)

Image result for hoosier horse park map
(Wish I had this map before I got there). The only difference is that the warm-up area for SJ was on the other side of the Stadium jumping arena.

The show was BUZZING with every barn seemingly full of horses, riders, trainers, equipment, bikes, and golf carts. I wandered through it all, feeling my heart lighten as I became a part of the horse show scene again.

I found, next to the stadium course, a slightly air conditioned building. I checked in, and immediately asked what I could do, since none of the other volunteers had showed up yet. “Flowers!” Someone called desperately from behind a table. “Please put out some flowers.” So I headed back out into the morning and began trying to pair the flowers with the jumps. The pink and green oxer? It got some tall greenery in front of the standards and pink flowers. In about a half hour, all the flowers were out, and I headed back into the SJ office.

I was introduced to the judge, who was great. She spent some time showing me how to set up the sheets for each division and explained how she preferred they be marked. For the next few minutes, I set up each sheet meticulously, making sure they would be clear and easy for the person entering them into live scoring to read. (I have horrible handwriting, so this was serious work! haha)

By 11:15AM, I was ready to roll, and we welcomed the first horse into the ring. The first couple of divisions were Open Training, followed by Training Rider. We then had a break before Open Beginner Novice, Beginner Novice Rider, and ended the day with Open Starter and Starter Rider. The last scheduled ride time was about 6PM.

I won’t lie. Rides were a bit rough that day. We had multiple eliminations, rider falls, and countless rails. I think I dreamed of the number 4 that night! The overall consensus in the booth was that the late winter really made it difficult for Riders to get into the swing of things this year. It might me 80-something degrees now, but it was snowing in April!

Either way, the day was a total education. My biggest takeaway? Somehow, Training doesn’t look that different from BN, but BN looks like a huge step up from Starter. Why? BN had combinations, fillers, and overall just more solid looking jumps. While Training just looked like BN (plus 1 more combination), with the fences up a couple of holes.

May

I also discovered that well… people mess up a lot in SJ, but no one wants them to. We cheered for the riders that had rough rides but got it done. We commiserated with those that left rails on the ground or bodies in the dirt. There was no one in that booth that didn’t want to see every rider succeed.

My final takeaway? Some people are straight RUDE. I have never been to a horse show/trial/even/combined test/etc where at some point something ran behind. Unfortunately, SJ was that thing. After 4 hours of Training riders, the ring was pretty shot. The lack of rain in this part of the country (sorry East Coast!) meant that the footing was dry and a bit fussy. We had to drag and water the arena.

Unfortunately, that put us about 40 minutes behind. We announced the issue multiple times to the stables and warm-up area, posted a notice at the office, and let XC know about the conflict so they would be flexible with competitors. However, we still had multiple trainers, parents, riders burst into the SJ office and, in the middle of some else’s round, begin asking for an explanation for the delay, demanding a change in their order of go, or just voicing their frustrations.

Finally, the judge had to ask people to leave the office, as we were desperately trying to make up time. Again though, with a rough SJ day, jumps kept coming down, riders came off, and there was only so much we could do to try to make up time. In the end, instead of the last ride going at 6PM, she went at 6:45PM. Please, have a little compassion for those working at your next horse trial. I promise they are doing the best they can.

Overall, it was a great day, and I am looking forward to volunteering again! What about you? Have you ever volunteered? What’s your favorite position?

I Have Regrets

Last night, I was scrolling through youtube, and I came across Mayim Bialik’s video, “I Have Regrets.” She starts the video by talking about how she used to be one of those people that always said things like, ” I live my life with no regrets,” but the truth is, we all have things in our lives that we regret. It is a mindfulness of these regrets that keeps us from continuing to make poor decisions, so I decided to list out some horsey regrets.

 

I regret losing my temper

We spend a lot of time reciting quotes like, “The only two emotions that belong in the saddle are, a sense of humor, and the other is patience.” However, I will admit that there have been times where I have felt my blood boil, my jaw set, and my temper rise. I have since learned that there is always another day and that a trail ride on a bad day is far better than a dressage ride.

I regret keeping the wrong horse for so long.

I don’t talk about it often about the horse I had before May. He was a good horse in so, so many ways, but he was an awful partner for me. Rides ended in tears more than they ended in smiles, and I dreaded going to the barn. Since finding him a much better home, I vow to ride horses that make me happy, at least more often then they leave me in tears. Life is too short to ride the wrong horse.

Winston

I regret riding at barns with sub-par care.

This one is more of ignorance than it was active action, but I am still at fault for my ignorance. I will no longer board at a barn where turnout fields lack water troughs, where 6 days of care a week is considered “enough”, and where the barn skips feedings simply because no one felt like coming out that day. I may never board my horse at a “fancy” barn, but I now have some serious non-negotiables for my horse’s care.

I regret sticking with trainers who didn’t make me better.

I have been riding for 22 years now, and I have never, consistently ridden at 3′. Maybe a jump here and there, a couple of courses with May in 2016, but never consistently. In fact, the highest I have ever competed, despite spending more than 15 years trying to be a hunter/jumper rider, is BN. Now, I actively work to find and ride with trainers that have students riding at or above my goal level. In this case, Novice… eventually.

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I regret caring about what the rail-birds think.

I remember showing an old trainer’s VERY fancy, imported Irish horse in a 2′ equitation class when I was about 13. Let me take that back. I remember that day, but I don’t remember the actual jumping rounds. Why? Because I have a lovely habit of holding my breath through the entirety of my rounds, to the point of almost passing out. In fact, my mind has found jumping in an arena so overwhelming that it simply blocks out the memories. The worst part is: I am not afraid of falling off and getting hurt; I am just afraid of what others will think of my mistakes. From now on, I vow to ride to enjoy my horse. Go in the ring and just kick around for the sheer joy of doing it.

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None of a us are perfect, but I like to think that we are all trying to be better everyday. My goal is to one day be the kind of rider that leaves every ride free of regrets. What about you? Any horsey-regret that you have vowed to not repeat.

Cheap, DIY Boot Hole Repair

Now, I always have the best of intentions for all my tall boots. I plan to wipe them down every ride, polish them as necessary, and avoid water/mud/etc at all costs. However, life doesn’t always work that way. I forget my spare boots at home, and have to trudge through the mud in my tall boots; I get talking with a friend and end up in the wash stall without changing; or I am so exhausted after a show or XC school that my boots end up in the back of my car, covered in sweat, for at least a couple of days.

As a result, my poor, everyday Ariat tall boots developed a pretty sizeable hole. Now, I have a gorgeous pair of tall boots that I got for showing, but they are stiff and tight and just… not what I want to wear to the barn everyday. I want to wear my broken in boots. The one whose toe is so worn, I can’t even polish them properly anymore. The pair I could walk a mile in, and not have my back hurt. The pair that is so broken in that they have that little extra grip on XC. However, this was definitely an issue:

I debated just getting a new pair of boots. The current pair are being discontinued (Ariat Heritage Contours), so they are on a steep discount. However, they are still more than $150, and I hadn’t been able to find the exact size I was looking for. The new version, while I am sure it is lovely, is about $300. At this point, I figured I would take matters into my own hands. I would fix my boots myself. Enter, Shoe Goo.

Shoe Goo

This stuff was black and at my door for less than $7 with Amazon Prime. It promised a waterproof seal on leather. Why. Not. The instructions were pretty straight forward: apply to clean dry surface, let dry for 24 hours, and do not let it touch anything you don’t want it to get on or you can’t throw away. So I decided to fix my boot in the middle of our kitchen island, while drinking a strawberry daiquiri. The result?

No. It is not beautiful, but it is fully sealed. It is also nearly impossible to see when I am in the saddle, and I figure with a bit more abuse and dirt (and maybe even some polish for the rest of the boot), it will be even less noticeable. The finish is more rubbery than plasticy, so the boot maintained its flexibility. Could I have done a cleaner job with some disposable sponges or something? Sure… but I really just wanted a functional boot back and to seal off the damage so it didn’t spread. I think that was achieved.

I ended up riding in the boots on Sunday and doing a total of 25 minutes of trot sets. The seal held, and I didn’t notice any uncomfortable stiffness or rubbing near the ball of my foot, where I had made the repair. So was the $7 worth it? Totally. I am calling it a (small) step up from duct tape!

Enviroequine Shampoo Review

If you follow my instragram, you would have noticed that I made a mostly on-a-whim purchase earlier in the month. Enviroequine Shampoo Plus.

My expectations for this were pretty low. I wanted to try a new shampoo on May, and after enviroequine’s decision to sever ties with Marilyn Little, I figured I should throw a little cash that way.

My first impression? WOW, this stuff smells GOOD. That soft lemongrass scent really comes through with other essential oils. Honestly, it smells more like a Lush bathbomb than a horse shampoo. It lathered up super easily. Now, I usually use a brush with my horse shampoo, rather than a sponge. I find that the cheap, plasticy brushes really help curry out any stains in May’s coat.

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I dunked her (very dirty) tail in it, and I gave her whole body a good scrub. Everything SEEMED to be doing it’s job, so I picked up the hose and rinsed off. I was surprised that it rinsed as well as it did, as I usually find such sudsy shampoos to be harder to rinse. The strong smell from the bottle didn’t cling to the horse, which was kind of a bummer. This shampoo makes them REALLY smell good: E3 Argan Oil Horse Shampoo It is not an exaggeration to say that barn workers have told me my horse smells good from a distance even days after being washed with that shampoo.

However, like I said, the enviroequine shampoo did rinse clean really quickly. Now, one of my BIGGEST pet-peeves with shampoo is when you get done washing the horse, the horse dries, and all the remaining dirt seems to lift to the surface. This shampoo did not do that, despite May still being mid-shed and really dirty. All I was left with was a clean, soft (and maybe even a little shiny) coat.

#showjumping with Ms #may ! Read how it went on the blog. Link in bio 😁#horsesofinstagram

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Would I buy it again? Maybe not. It is on the pricey side at nearly $35 for 32oz, but I think shipping was free. I do love that her coat was clean without being dried out, but she isn’t one that is prone to skin-funk so this shampoo might just be overkill for us. However, I would try some of their other products.

The E3 remains my favorite, and there is a local company similar to enviroequine that I would like to try. This product also didn’t remove all the stains from her tail and socks. If I am going for a BLINDING white, then I use this purple shampoo concentrate from champion tails: Stain Remover Powder Concentrate. Yes, you run the risk of leaving little purple spots all over your pony, and you have to follow up with a serious conditioner in the tail, but this WORKS.

What’s your favorite pony shampoo?

This review is not sponsored, and the items discussed in this review were purchased by me with my own money.

05.13.18 Horse Trial – Cross Country

It is probably fair to say that about 90% of people do eventing because of cross country. It is just… fun. May and I had gone xc schooling once since moving to KY, and we hadn’t really done a full XC course since our last horse trial. Again, due to the late start, we didn’t get a chance to walk the course ahead of time. Luckily, most of the jumps were visible from either the Dressage arena or the SJ area. There were 13 efforts in total. I didn’t wear a watch, so I have 0 idea how long it took us.

There was no formal start box. I decided to pick up my canter a bit before the start line so that we could have some momentum into the first jump. May, of course, wanted to throw herself on her forehand instead of creating power from behind, so we had an argument all the way to jump one.. and then onto jump two…

Image may contain: horse, grass, tree, sky, outdoor and nature
Jump 1 – Itty Bitty Brush

Jump 2 was a bit downhill, so again, I had a conversation with May about how that was not permission to fall flat on her face. Either way, we were up and over it.

You can see us trotting at the end of the clip, as I tried to find my way to jump 3. Jump 3 was a small down bank, but it was in line with a bunch of other banks through the trees. Of course, I lined up with the larger bank that we had schooled the other week, so I had to correct my course. Either way, May dropped down like a rockstar.

Best sassy mare in the world 😊#may #crosscountry #eventing

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Immediately after jump 3 was the water. The water was flagged generously, so you could go around it on the left. I took that option, since I didn’t have enough time to land off the bank, get May squared up to the water, and create impulsion towards the water. Either way, May bent her body so far away from the water that we almost missed our flags.

We galloped through a fence line and up a small hill to the 5th jump on course, this little red house we had schooled the week before. (somehow, this venue managed to move all the jumps around in just a week. It was really impressive.)

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I galloped to the end of the field, looking for the only jump on course I hadn’t been able to find when I was scoping things out. It was described as a “stack of logs.” Cool, I thought, it will just be a little pyramid of logs on the ground. No big deal.

The approach was a bit odd, as the fence line kind of curved away from the jump and then back to it. I managed to find it on google maps, so you all can see what I mean!

Log Jump

Of course, what I didn’t anticipate, was that the “stack of logs” wouldn’t be sitting on the ground. They were actually raised about a foot off the ground, making this both a bit of a looky jump, and the biggest jump on course. Cool. I didn’t look at it too long, just found my line, looked up, and kicked. May popped over it beautifully.

We had a bit of a gallop to fence 7… which I honestly can’t even remember. I am pretty sure it was just a small, brown coop. Then… I got a bit lost… I almost jumped the BN number 8, before I found my number 8. It looked tiny, so I cantered over to it. As I came upon it though, I realized why it looked so tiny. It was at the bottom of a very steep, short hill. Maybe two strides down the hill to the log. May could care less, and we were over.

We came back through the woods to number 9. Jump 9 was a cute, baby roll top.

However, you can see May land and start drifting back toward the trailers (towards the camera.) Our approach to jump 10 was a bit crooked, and then we had to re-balance, turn left, and go down hill to jump 11. As a result, we had a bit of an argument over jump 10, and a not-so-flattering moment. Oh well. It was fine.

Jump 11 and 12 jumped great, and we had a nice stretch uphill to jump 13, so I asked May to give me a bit of a gallop. She did, and I got lots of compliments from people after about how much fun our course looked. Jump 13 was the last jump. It was a cute train jump, which May popped over, and then got lots and lots of pats for.

The event still had several hours to go, and the barn was only 10 minutes away. I decided it would be best to cool May off, take her home, and then come back for the final results. (especially since May decided that any of the water presented to her at the show was poison.) May hopped back onto the trailer and was all settled in at home again within an hour. I drank lots of water, and we headed back to the show for, hopefully, a ribbon.

And we got one! We finished 6th out of 19 horses, adding just 4 jump penalties to our Dressage score. When I went to get my ribbon, I told them I came in 6th and asked for my ribbon… then thought about it and asked what place they give ribbons up to. Tenth! They give ribbons up through TENTH place at a schooling show! Awesome. Definitely, 10 out of 10, will be returning. 🙂

05.13.18 Horse Trial – Show Jumping

After Dressage, I had nearly 2 hours until Show Jumping. I took a look at both the show jumping and cross country course, but I wasn’t able to fully walk either due to the late start we had in the morning. Oh well, show jumping was 8 jumps with 1 related distance, and XC was basically one big loop.

May got to hang out in the shade and enjoy the breeze and grass, while I got to actually eat some real food. It might have been 10:30 in the morning, but I needed lunch! Once we were about a half hour to my SJ time, I pulled May off the trailer, threw on our jumping stuff, and got back on. Given that XC was running immediately after SJ, I just put all of May’s XC gear on and wore my vest. And then promptly forgot my armband. Whomp Whomp.

Too Cute For Words. 

The husband ran back to the trailer while I warmed up again. It was a short, but good warmup, so I cut it a bit short. I wanted to watch a couple of rounds before I went in. Unfortunately, May had other plans and wasn’t super interested in just standing at the in gate, so while I caught bits and pieces of other rounds, I wasn’t able to watch the whole thing through. I do not think I saw anyone go through the related distance line (remember how I didn’t get a chance to walk it?)

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Entering the ring for the round was a bit awkward, as you had to check in with the volunteer at the in gate, and then trot to the other end of the SJ field to check in with the judge. I also wanted to trot by 7 because, for BN, there was a 7B. As a result, right after 7 there were a bunch of poles in the grass, and I wanted to make sure May saw them before we were at the base of 7.

So once we checked in with the judge, I trotted along past 5, since that was a couple of hay bales and sometimes hay bales are scary. I picked up my canter, and May immediately started throwing her head around. Ugh. I got her attention back somewhere around 4, as I made my turn to jump 1. Unfortunately, our lack of focus meant my line wasn’t as crisp as I wanted, as May drifted behind my leg and towards the in gate. What does this all mean? It means we pretty much clobbered jump 1.

I think this is between Jump 7 and Jump 8.

I kicked forward and got a slightly better rhythm and line to jump 2. We jumped in a touch weak, so I decided to balance up and do the add. Except I HADN’T WALKED the line. SO I got 3/4 of the way down the line, and I realized it was SET SHORT. It was also too late to chase her for what would have been a MASSIVE distance, or just faster shuffling corgi steps toward the nothing distance we already had lined up. Oops… we got to the oxer with no step, no impulsion, and no distance. Cool. May HEFTED herself over it, somehow leaving it up. Seriously, there is video evidence of this that I need to upload for you all.

Jump 4

By this point, I was pretty angry at myself for riding the first 3 jumps like a monkey. I kicked on to 4 and actually had a pretty nice jump. I keep kicking to 5. I am DETERMINED to have almost a “hunter gap” to this fence. We. Will. Not. Chip. For some reason, I had it in my head that she might look at that one, so I needed to ride strong. It was an oxer, which I hate, and it had some hay bales under it. Now, I am not sure we have ever jumped hay bales, but I know many horses that have taken offense to them. (I got an awesome nose bleed once after a horse took serious offense to some hay bales.)

Jump 5… I really need to be doing BN lol

I think it went fine though. 😉 It ended up probably being our nicest jump on course. Jump 6 I don’t even remember jumping. I probably stopped breathing that point. At 7, I was determined not to have the same issue I had at 1, and I rode more determined through my line. As a result, 7 was a non issue. I turned to 8. Kicked on, and was over. So SJ finished with just one jump down, but I was pretty frustrated for myself for not starting the round well.

Jump 8. May thinks the jumps are way too small. 

SJ was pretty messy for a lot of people, and I later heard that the first jump when down a lot for people. Overall, we moved from 4th to 6th out of 19. No matter the score though, I was determined to go out and attack XC.

Of note, all the professional photos were purchased by me from Bluegrass Equine Photography for digital use. I am a big believer in supporting horse show photographers, so I was more than happy to pay for these happy memories!

05.13.18 Horse Trial – Dressage (and May’s Fan Club)

Let me start my saying, my horse is a magnet for attention. More than once, I found myself surrounded by multiple girls, as they asked questions, petted May, and even gave her kisses. The horse, who is usually so aloof, really loves all this at shows. Go figure.

Our day got off to a bit of a rough start, as a scheduling conflict at the barn meant that we couldn’t get on the road until 9AM, vs. the 8:30AM I had been planning on. Luckily, the show venue was maybe 10 minutes down the road, so we weren’t in danger of missing my 10:06 ride time. I did, however, change into my boots, my hairnet, and my helmet while we drove.

As soon as we got to the venue, I sent my husband off the office to get my number and whatever information he could glean from the staff there. This was the same place we had went to for XC schooling the prior week, but I wasn’t sure where everything was set up for the actual competition. While he was gone, I pulled May off the trailer myself. For some reason, she isn’t a fan of my trainer’s 2+1 trailer, but she was patient as I worked out how to get her off of it myself.

The husband arrived back in time to help me finish tacking up, and then May decided to be a total beast to get on. Now, my husband is not a small man, and May full body shoved him out of the way as I was swinging a leg over… I guess It’s truly time to get serious about the standing at the mounting block thing at home.

I then wandered aimlessly around where SJ and XC were, trying to figure out how one gets to the Dressage arena on the other side of the pond. I finally found someone to ask, and it turns out you had to go down what looked like a private driveway, take a right onto a dirt path past a hot walker, walk up into a random field and around the fence line to the dressage arena. I am not going to lie, being lost like that and on a bit of a time crunch really stressed me out.

Whew! When we finally found the Dressage warm-up, it was broken into two areas: a big grassy field that was mostly flat, and an actual dressage court. I rode around in the field for a while before the Dressage court emptied. Then, I moved to the court. Of course, as soon as I got in there, someone else, let’s call her Competition Crazy (CC), decided she needed to run through her WHOLE test in that little court multiple times in a row. Maybe I am naive, but I feel like there is no scrubbing a test right before you go in. Practice the movements to get your horse as connected and tuned in as possible, and then go into the ring. (more on CC later too)

With a couple of riders left to go, I just let her walk around in the shade for a bit, hoping that would help relieve her of some of our combined tenseness. As I was watching the last rider go before me, a couple of girls came up to pet May. It’s amazing how just talking to people about my pony helps keep my nerves at bay. The rider before me wasn’t ready, so I happily agreed to go a bit early.

I wandered down to the arena and gave the judge and scribe my number. ANNNND they couldn’t find me. They asked for my name, and I gave it. They said my number didn’t match my name… cool. Then I gave them my horse’s name, and they were like “OOOHHHH. We thought YOU were May”. I may be a bit short, a bit round, and quite pale, but I am definitely not May.

We got it sorted out, and I got to trot a bit around the arena before they honked the horn, and we headed down centerline for the first time in 2 years. Below is how it went.

(a copy of the test can be found here, I am just going to give the scores and comments for each movement below)

Movement Scores

  1. 8.0 – No Comment
  2. 8.0 – Nice Energy
  3. 7.5 – Slight Head Tossing
  4. 7.0 – Could Have More Balance
  5. 7.0 – Slight Loss of Bend
  6. 6.5 – Could Have More march
  7. 8.0 – 2-3 jiggy steps, but very nice stretch (This was VERY generous)
  8. 6.0 – Could March More. Slight Tension
  9. 8.0 – No Comment
  10. 7.0 – Could Have Been Cleaner
  11. 6.5 – Losing Bend. Slight Loss of Balance
  12. 7.0 – No Comment
  13. 8.0 – No Comment
  14. 9.0 – No Comment

Collective Marks:

  • Gaits: 7.0
  • Impulsion: 8.0
  • Submission: 8.0
  • Rider: 8.0
  • Overall Comments: Well Matched Pair. Lovely Test. Work on Canter transitions and tension.
  • Final Score: 24.1

So my thoughts? The scoring was CLEARLY generous, but it was equally generous for everyone. I was happy with how May stayed connected and engaged throughout the trot work, and I thought the canter work was a lot less scrambly then the last time we competed. However, the tension in the walk is definitely something we need to work on, as it comes up at home too.

The score was good enough to put us in 4th place out of 19, so that was very encouraging. Either way, we had about 2 hours to cool off. Then it was going to be time for jumping!

After 2 Years, Back At It

This Sunday marks the first event for May and I since May of 2016. 2 Year. 24 Months. I thought it would be fun to look back at that last event. (Full details on the original post here.)

Dressage:

There are a couple of things that I think have improved since this text. My position is a bit stronger now (I think). I have done a lot of work to get May thinking forward into the bridle vs. trying to tuck her nose behind the vertical. The canter is pretty shuffly and off-balance here. I expect that to be better too. May will even be in the Micklem bridle, which she prefers over a traditional bridle with the flash. We scored a generous 27.895. Comment being: “Fairly correct test effort. Great Pair 🙂 Work to maintain steady balance through test.”

However, there is also a lot that hasn’t changed. I plan on wearing almost this exact same outfit (trading the TS breeches for the ROMFH Sarafina breeches). There will still be very little stretch in our free walk, and May will still pop up above the contact in the canter transition. Most importantly though, the ride will still end with big pats.

Stadium

First and foremost, jumps might be a bit smaller. We are doing starter, but the above was super undersized for BN. I will still probably blow one jump, and chip into a few more. May will probably still disagree with my corrections occasionally. I will probably even cut a couple of turns too tight and have to scramble to fix my line. However, we will probably still jump all the jumps.

I have made a big adjustment to how May canters between jumps, and a lot of her balance has come off the forehand. I am hoping that helps us keep all the jumps up on Sunday!

Cross Country

I probably still won’t be able to stop, or change gaits or do any of that. We will probably definitely both be horribly out of breath at the finish. I will probably still lose steering occasionally. May is still going to attack most of the jumps, but not care about banks, ditches, or water. (not that we are likely to see any of that at start)

Finally, I might come in third, or I might come in first (or last). I am sad to say that I won’t be coming home with a new hat and a team-awarded blue ribbon, but I still have the tall guy by my side!