Fall Weather and Flying Pony

I guess this is the week when I suddenly want to blog everyday. Go figure.

Yesterday, I posted the video from our lesson. It was every course we did after a short warm up over a vertical a few times. The pattern of the lesson was super simple. Mandy gave me a course. I did the course. We talked about it. I did the course again. However, I just couldn’t quite find the right balance last night between forward and running. It bit me in the behind a few times.

For some reason, I think due to taking in too much caffeine in the afternoon, I was feeling INCREDIBLY anxious and jumpy. I’m not quite sure how other people experience anxiety in the saddle, but for me, it literally feels like my whole lower body goes numb. Looking back, I wish I had just counted out loud the entire course, every course. Or sung to myself. Or something.

First course?

img_3110

Right turn to the oxer, left turn to the diagonal line coming home. Now, this line was SPECIFICALLY set at 5.5 strides. The first time in, I was CONVINCED we needed to do 6 and that the 5 would just run her off her feet. It was the wrong move. I got it done, but you can see how unhappy May was with my decision.

THEN since that first line rode so funky, I just kind of maintained coming to the other diagonal, which guess what, was set to a SHORT 5 strides. HHAHAHHA. May is cleaver, so it was fine. Then, I was so determined to keep her wide coming to the green panel jump at the end that I actually pulled her front end off the lead, and we almost turned right. Opps. Fixed it… and of course missed the distance. MMMMM K. Honestly, the first and last jumps were my favorite of the whole course. At least I seem to be over my first-jump-itis?

May was feeling VERY forward. I think the softer ground after the rain made her a bit more game than I have given her credit for recently.

img_3115

So we did it again. Advice? Stop being so harsh with all your aids. Just ASK for things instead of being like OMG DO THE THING I AM ASKING YOU TO DO RIGHT NOW. Oh… and stop trying to jam six strides into that diagonal line. I think a lot of this over riding was my anxiety kicking up, but again, I should’ve just started singing to myself.

Sooo same course again. The video missed the first oxer, but it rode just as well this time as the last time. If not a bit better.

img_3112

I could not find a good distance to the vertical purple and blue jump and my stupid fight with May caused me to really boogey down that line to get the five.  It ended up fine. I have a good little mare. Then… the super helpful barn dog decided to try and get underfoot. You can see May’s swishy tail feelings in the video… but here was my view.

Ahahahaha. Mostly though, May didn’t care. I really need to take this one fox hunting.

ANYWAY, we continued to the other diagonal, where… I didn’t make the best decision. After the dog incident, I pushed her forward to make sure she was in front of my leg, but then I picked a fight a bit too late to the first fence. I should’ve just realized that she was so game that night that I could’ve just left her alone.

Oh well, it rode fine on the out. Not surprisingly, I got a better (but not great) jump over the green panel. And then… right at the end, I got the MOST PERFECT CANTER to jump over the solid, skinny box jump…. Oh well, love us some solid fences.

img_3111

Overall, it was pretty good. I made the improvements we discussed previously, even with a little help from the peanut gallery. So we got a new course!

We started with the green panel, which I just COULDN’T FIND A DISTANCE TOO. (Note to self, stop looking for distances just fix your straightness and balance.)

finally changed my line to the in of the purple and blue line, so I got a better jump there. That allowed me to land, pick her up, and send her forward. I WAS SO EXCITED for how that line rode… that I completely forgot I had to make the sharp right turn to the pink and gray. AHAHAHAH. Oh well, I looked up, found a line, and rode it. Was it square? Nope. Was my horse straight? Yup! In case anyone wonders, May is really good at jumping fences at an angle only because I do this by accident A LOT.

img_3108

The bending to the five was fine, even though I made it extra bendy with my line to the pink. Right leg and all that jazz. I think when I did this one last time, we got 6 consistently so… go figure. (Just looked back, and yes, we got the six last time… I guess the hard ground and hotter weather really was making an impact.)

Anyway, we landed on our left lead, but then I did a magically thing that I didn’t even know I did until I re-watched the video (for the 10th time). I got a flying lead change. Out of May. On course. Oh and then epic-ally missed my distance, so no worries there. I still am who I am.

Then because I DEFINITELY am still who I am, I CHASED May down to the two strides because #Flashbacks. So it ended up being a bit short for her. Oops. The last five stride line was fine.

img_3109

So now we were supposed to do the second course again and finish on that. Hah. Advice this round? Just smooth it out. Make the turn to the pink better. Find the distances to the green panel better, and don’t chase her down the two stride. Cool.

Hah. Still missed to the green. Drifted HARD to the right on the blue and purple vertical. Fixed the turn to the pink tho! BUT SOMEHOW the five strides felt long now? I have no idea. This time I just pulled her off the lead up front and didn’t support with my leg. Fun fact, when you do that, your distances get crappy. Then, remember the whole don’t GALLOP down to the combination? I took that as “DEFINITELY PULL TO THE BASE.”

That… did not work. Luckily, my mare is clever and bailed me out. I pulled up at that point. Cantering on to the short five wasn’t going to prove anything other than the fact that I can continue to ride backwards.

So… no need to talk about that. Riding backwards is not the solution for chasing my horse. I got a reminder not to pull her off her leads, and I was sent back out to do it again.

And I FINALLY nailed the distance to that green panel. HAHA TAKE THAT! She took the rail to the blue and purple vertical. No real reason for it, but we did a lot of jumping. I think she was just getting a bit tired and flat on me. But… the five almost got SHORT here, so she jumped the blazes off of the oxer on the out. Oh which also magically got bigger. Funny how that happens 😉

img_3113

We got the best turn to the pink there. Balanced without a lot of fighting. Uh… and no I didn’t hear Mandy telling me I could go back to the purple and blue vertical. I had just COMPLETELY blanked on the fact that I had taken that rail down. Luckily, the rail had fallen into basically a ground line, so it rode fine.

But because I was really riding that right shoulder, we landed on our right lead. So we got the distance to the green panel AGAIN. WHOOT! This time, I just allowed her to move down to the combination and supported with my leg. (Shocker). I should’ve brought her back a TOUCH earlier for the red, white and blue, but she did come back. As a result, the five there finally rode fine. (Even if we were counter cantering and I was being bounced all over the place.)

img_3114

Did you all make it to the end? Cool. I guess I don’t usually go THIS IN DEPTH in my lessons, but I thought this was a good one to do it for. It all goes back to developing the canter I want early and maintaining it the whole course. May has gotten so adjustable now, that I sometimes get in trouble because I am trying to do too much. It’s looking like this will be our last SJ lesson before our show, and I am super happy with it.

It forced me to make a plan but also be flexible within that plan, and it reminded me to ride and trust that good canter and to STOP messing with it so much. Riding through anxiety is a special kind of skill, but I am pretty proud of my ability to do just that.

In case you missed the video from yesterday, I am plunking it down here for you all:

Advertisements

Wordless Wednesday

Not quote wordless, but I had my lesson last night. Too much caffeine beforehand left me feeling jittery and anxious, so I just didn’t ride my best. I’ll get into the details of the ride tomorrow, but for today, here is the video of every course we did last night. Good, bad, and ugly.

My Weird View on Buying Horses

First off, I am laughing at that old picture above. You know why I have a death grip on the lead line? Because she literally would NOT stand still… She would just try and drag you around. Oh May. ❤

As a result of… a lot of drama in September, I now know more than one person who is unexpectedly horse shopping. What does it mean for the average person to be unexpectedly horse shopping? It means a low budget, practically no time, and the understanding that this is going to be a purchase and then train type of situation.

I would love to have been one of those people that can follow the adage of “Buy something that is already doing what you want to do,” but for many of us, that is RARELY an option. Instead, it falls into more of “buy something that seems like it might want to do the same thing you want to do and train it.”

xc-jump
perfect post for some OG photos. I think this was the XC schooling where I realized she was going to be a pretty good eventer.

Do you know if a horse is going to be a good XC horse by trotting it around an arena? Nope. Do I have any idea how much of being a good XC horse is nature vs. nurture? No clue.

So apparently, I have a different view when horse shopping than most people. When I purchased May, it was with the intention of “having a fun project”. Did I think I would own her almost five years later? No. Not really.

When you buy an inexpensive, green, off-type horse, you are taking a pretty big gamble on whether or not that horse will turn into what you really want. Also, that horse might be the right horse until you get to Novice, but when you want to move beyond that, you find you just aren’t sitting on enough talent/ability/bravery etc to make that next step.

img_4143-1
I remember thinking this house was HUGE

As a result, I tend to approach all horses I have ever tried (because I have never had more than a low four figure budget), as a project. May was a project that needed to learn how to steer, but we didn’t really know if she would enjoy eventing. Four and a half years later, I think it is pretty fair to say she is staying.

I wish I had bought my first horse with this mentality. I really do think it would have saved me a lot of grief. He was supposed to be  my #Hearthorse that I kept forever. In reality, I ended up just making us both miserable by trying to make the wrong thing work.

So what about you? Do you look at the purchase of a green horse as a potential project that you may or may not keep? Or are you always looking for your next dream horse?

Sometimes – We Spicy

May was FEELING her oats at our lesson this week. She’s been in pretty solid work lately, so I wonder if the other saddle really was causing her to suck back a bit. Either way, it made for an interesting jump lesson.

We started with a baby gymnastic. Short turn, three poles, vertical. Now if you all remember, this short turn is basically my nemesis. May is…. not a sports car and keeping impulsion, balance, and power steering is a forever kind of struggle. However, we got it going pretty well, and it really got her tuned into my outside aids. (you know… almost like it was built to do exactly that….)

It started low but eventually built up to the above. You can see May being a bit more resistant to my right hand, which really just felt like a symptom of her being super forward.

Look at those locked in ears!

Once we nailed that exercise, we moved onto a short course. Through the gymastic, up the pink, bending 6 strides to the liverpool, then down the diagonal in 5.

How’d it go? Fine… except that she just kind of ran past the distance to the yellow jump in the first part of the diagonal. Ooooook. Thanks mare. Mandy reminded me to, you know, maintain rhythm, and we moved onto a more complicated course.

Through the gymnastic, bending 4 to the red, white and blue vertical. (Yeah, that got a hairy eyeball from me, but rode great). Then, left turn to the pink, bending to the liverpool again. Then the yellow and around to the skinny blue “block”.

img_3032
Aiming for the base with these skinny/solid questions

Whew! Lots of related distances, turns, and different questions in a rather short course. The first time through, the first line rode GREAT. Then… we got in a bit of a disagreement TURNING to the pink. But I got her straight and she jumped the SNOT out of it from a longish distance.

img_3030

However, I made ZERO corrections going to the liverpool, and it rode in 5.25 strides. Cool. I made a BIG correction to the yellow, which felt ugly, but she jumped it ok.  Finally over the blue box, which rode easy peasy.

All the jumps stayed up (yay), but there was definitely room for improvement. As the saying goes, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” I suddenly had a horse that was really thinking forward, and I had to be a bit faster and more decisive with my corrections to smooth things out. We did the same course again, and I am REALLY happy with it.

To my, the big difference between the video from yesterday and the video from March is how forward thinking May is and how decisive I am in my decisions. Is it perfect? Nah. I could nitpick every. single. fence. However, I had a plan, and I went out and executed that plan.

I am also SUPER happy with how confident May feels. Even just a few months ago, the higher height of the red white and blue and yellow jumps would have backed her off. Now, she is hunting down those fences without blowing past my half halt. (When used correctly and decisively).

Both videos are below, but let’s just say, I am super excited to get out in less than a month!

Blog Hop – 10 Questions for September

Kentucky is still going through it’s final tantrum of summer, and my knee is still a bit out of whack. Soooo when Viva Carlos posted a blog hop, I just had to jump in. 🙂

1. Favorite quirk your horse (or a horse you’ve spent time with) has?

img_0872

This is not a good habit. It is not a habit I condone… but May’s proclivity for escaping and causing zero trouble is somehow endearing haha. I am sure my trainer is rolling her eyes so hard at this, because it is a terrible habit. BUT she doesn’t “break out” of her stall. She only sneaks out if her stall guard isn’t fully attached, sooooo I think it’s cute. Honestly, other than that, she’s a pretty business-like mare.
2. Three adjectives that perfectly describe your horse?

Opinionated, pretty, confident

May isn’t a conventional beauty. She’s more like Ashley Graham. Aka – part of her beauty is her total confidence in herself. It makes her a fun eventing partner for sure!

3. Plan your next ride. What will you do/work on?

Ahahahaha well… someone on COTH called me out for my fat horse. (fun times) Sooo I think we will be doing a fitness ride tonight. She got a bit ribby in June, so we upped her forage. Then I got busy with work/travel/life, so her work load dropped a bit and BOOM fat mare. We pulled back the calories and are increasing the workload to help her be a bit more fit for Team Challenge next month.

4. Have you ever trained an OTTB? If yes, what was the biggest challenge?

A straight off the track OTTB? Nope. As I mentioned before, I have ridden lots and lots of green horses. From 3 yr old pony’s just being broke to saddle, to older horses of the slaughter truck bound for Mexico. Training horses is definitely one of those “learn on the job” type of things. Experience is exactly what you get 30 seconds after you need it.

Here is a video (MANY YEARS LATER) of one of the Welsh Cobs I started. He turned into a pretty cool dude!

5. Have you ever groomed or worked for a professional rider?

I have spent a lot of time as a barn rat… I used to go to HITS Saugerties, Old Salem, etc as a groom for friends. Since moving to eventing, I have tried to get to events to support pros and friends. However, true groom/working student situation? Not something I was able to do.

6. Favorite horse and rider combination?

Oh man. I know she is having a huge year right now, but I loved Beezie Madden & Judgement. He was a horse that just looked like he LOVED show jumping. The higher, harder, and more technical the jumps got. The better he was. SUCH a cool horse, and of course, I have major respect for her and her program.

7. Have you ever ridden a horse at the beach?

Yes! Actually, in the Grand Cayman Islands. They heard I could ride (big mistake mom), so I got this spicy little mare. Who I ADORED. Gosh I wish I knew where the photos were from that, but it was an amazing day.

The Grand Cayman Islands are a British colony, so I was actually fairly impressed with their horsemanship for what resources they had available. This was YEARS ago, but it looks like they are still around and still have nicely fed ponies: http://ponies.ky/ 

8. If you could experience the equestrian community (i.e. ride and compete) in another country, what country would you choose and why?

Ireland or England. And I would foxhunt. I would probably die, but I would die with a smile on my face.

9. In your opinion, what is an item of tack that is given unnecessary hype?

This was actually a hard one for me. I think that all horses are individuals and what is useless to you and your horse might be a godsend to someone else. I guess I will say like lorenzini stirrups are probably something I don’t get. I have seem many on resale pages for a lot less than their purchase value due to the paint scratching and chipping.

I will take my MDC Stirrups any day. Had to look up the instagram post when I got them… turns out, they predate May! Next month they will be 5 years old, and they still look this good. To me, that’s a great purchase!

View this post on Instagram

Oh hey beautiful

A post shared by Emily (@may_as_well_event) on


10. What was the first horse you rode called? Are they still alive?

Aww Frisbee. He was OLD when I rode him, and that was… 23 years ago. Unfortunately, he passed away like 3 days before my first show. He was a saint of a horse, and I am 100% sure he is in the best part of heaven.

Stacie also did this blog hope, and I look forward to seeing more of y’all answers!

A Forward and Open Jumping Lesson

I should probably start this recap with full disclosure that Kentucky surprised us with second summer that day, AND I was riding in a new-to-me saddle. To break that down, KY went from 80 degree, beautiful fall-like days to a 99 degree day with 60% humidity… just in time for my lesson. Fun time.

As for the saddle, a friend of a friend is trying to sell her Barnsby Diablo saddle. When she mentioned it was an 18″ seat and a generous MW tree (that needs the flocking adjusted), I was semi curious. Then, I found out that it was already on the property that my trainer was at and… I figured it didn’t hurt to give it a try.

 

Awkward angle, but you get the idea. Much deeper seat with much larger blocks.

Again, the flocking needs to be changed to fit May, but I was fairly happy with the shape on her. Honestly, getting in a saddle like this was such a weird feeling. It is CUSHY and COMFORTABLE and has big blocks in it. So different from my fairly minimal Stubben. I warmed up quickly on the flat, just getting a feel for getting into and out of the new saddle. May seemed comfortable in it with no sucking back or crow hopping.

We warmed up over a very small vertical, just looping back and forth over it. Then we made it a big bigger and all seemed to be going well. The first exercise was the first jump of both my courses. It was an oxer set kind of awkwardly off the rail with a placement pole three strides out and then another on stride out.

At first, I was a bit like… ummm what? with this exercise. It just seemed really random. Then I rode it and oh hahaha ok. So the point of it was that  you really had to come FORWARD through the corner and maintain your own straightness to get the distance/line/jump. You couldn’t turn and then get straight because then you would miss to the first pole. You also couldn’t suck back and then go forward because of that pole. Man, this one really instilled the whole lesson in one little exercise. You have to love that.

Once we nailed that, it got put up a bit, and we went and did our first course. Again, we started with that oxer exercise then moved into a straight line then a bending line. Fairly standard stuff.

Things I did well… we are working on moving May more forward and open between jumps and then just regulating the balance and straightness too the jumps versus still trying to create energy as I jump into lines. Overall, I felt like this honestly gave me much better distances (except to the last fence, which I conveniently cut out from the insta video… gif just for you).

Things I could have done better… I struggle with not just getting out

of the saddle and cruising. Is this a weird thing? Like I get up… and then don’t know how to use my leg lol. I am not sure if this feeling is partially the saddle being so much more than what I am used to or if this is an ingrained habit. Something to work on.

Also, since I am jumping in with more impulsion. I don’t then need to CHASE her down the lines like I did over the last fence. If I had just maintained balance and rhythm, it would’ve ridden better. Oh well. Good horse.

The second course was similar, but we bent to the right after the pink and then did the liverpool the other way to finish up over the blue and purple oxer.

Not totally sure what was up with that first line… She went to fade right on me. I corrected and pulled her off the lead in front. Oh well, all is well that ends well. The yellow&orange and red,white&blue, jumps went up a bit, but they still rode great.

My line from pink to orange&yellow wasn’t maybe the best line, but after she blew me off turning to the pink, I really didnt want her to just keep falling through that right shoulder. That change set us up almost TOO well for the liverpool to oxer line…. since she moved off my right leg better than I was expecting and we faded left… making that line a bit long.

Honestly though? I was super happy with it. We feel more than ready for BN next month. As for the saddle? Jury is still out. I think it is better than what I have, but it doesn’t make my butt sing like the bliss monoflap did. That being said… it’s well within my current price range, AND I did feel more secure when things weren’t quite right… vs. feeling thrown out of the Stubben and having to scramble to get back into it. I would like a saddle fitter to see it before I make any decisions, for sure.

So lots of change this lesson, but I think we handled it really well. Do you feel like making changes in your riding/equipment leads to immediately improvement? Or does it just always feel kind of weird at first but better later?

Scribing at AECs – Judge Feedback at Novice

First of all, your first time Dressage scribing probably shouldn’t be a full day of championships… but I did all my homework and practiced a bit so that I would be ready to do my best for the 49 riders in my ring! (Serious apologies to anyone after the first 15 riders. I never knew my hand could actually go numb and stop obeying me like that!)

The day started VERY early with a 4:45AM wake-up call so that I could get to my check-in point at the Kentucky Horse Park by the appointed 6:30AM ride time. Luckily, it was an absolutely gorgeous morning. My judge was right on time, and she was wonderful to work with. She left A LOT  of comments (3 – 4 per box a lot of the time!), but it was clear she was doing it because she recognized how hard each competitor worked to get to AECs and wanted them to have some valuable insight.

The great part of all those comments is that I could see some theme reoccurring. Below are the five most common comments she had for competitors doing Novice B:

1. Circles Don’t Have Corners

I think a lot of our riders internalized their trainers warning them to make their circles bit and to stay in the corners… Unfortunately, when you have a circle, there are no corners. Riding deep into the corner when your circle starts at A or C is really obvious and ruins the geometry.

how I feel trying to ride a 20M circle

2. Stiff in Transitions

Up or down between any gaits. This comment came up a lot. It was pretty clear a lot of riders spent a lot of time doing the movements, but not necessarily the transitions between those movements. As a result, either the rider or the horse (or both) were weak through the transitions, causing stiffness.

3. Proper Frame

My judge took a minute to discuss the frame she was looking for at this level. Still stretched into the bridle, but horses starting to move a bit more uphill than you would expect from BN. We saw many horse’s either still on their forehand (including a few who forged), ducked behind the contact, or in a frame too tight/high for the level. Being too high/tight for the level didn’t necessarily mean less points, but it did typically mean that the horse’s gaits weren’t as open as they could be.

Curling behind the contact was by far the greater sin, as the judge really wanted to see that horses were seeking the contact.

img_1791
I would argue this is pretty close. If anything, I would want May’s withers a bit higher and her throat-latch a bit more open. 

4. Sitting off Center

My judge was very aware of when riders were positioned off of center, and she called them out on it. She wanted to see riders in the middle of their saddles so that they could be the most efficient.

how your horse feels when you lean off center

5. Stretchy, Rhythm, Power from Behind

In the free walk, she was consistently looking for three things: was the horse stretching? Was the rhythm consistent and correct (forward but not running)? And was the horse powering forward from behind?

Many riders had one or two. Rhythm was good and power form behind, but not enough stretch, or good stretch and good power from behind, but the rhythm was quick/rushed. Honestly, just reminding myself of these three things on Friday helped me get a much better free walk out of May. (Honestly, I wanted to find a picture of this one, but I couldn’t find one where the horse wasn’t ducking behind the contact)

except… more active?

Overall, it was a long day, but I really appreciated having such a great judge. She was fair across the board, and we spent a good amount of time talking about the give and take of balancing the accurate/obedient ride vs. the flashy ride at the lower levels.

Luckily, I was done scribing around 2:30PM, so I got some free time! I got to meet Jack and Britt after their great Dressage test! And then I got to walk the Novice/BN XC courses.

I will say, and I might get into this more in another post, I ended up submitting an event evaluation after the event. I think the volunteers and staff did a WONDERFUL job keeping our ring on time and moving. However, I think that the involvement of EEI skewed the whole event in favor of the upper level riders, which in my opinion, is like spitting in the face of the lower levels.

Cue Internal Squeals of Joy

Typically, when I tack up for a jump lesson, I find myself battling some internal demons. It is usually a process of dragging myself to the barn and forcing myself to grab my jump bridle. Not because I don’t like jumping. Honestly, I LOVE IT. There is NOTHING better than the feeling after a great jump school.

However, I battle a lot of anxiety around jumping. Most days, that anxiety makes me want to run to Dressage. But then, last night happened.

Last night was the worst set up. I got stuck at work a half hour late (but have an amazing trainer who DIDN’T EVEN CONSIDER canceling on me….  is it too early to start thinking of Christmas gifts??). Then the pressure had me sporting an INCREDIBLE headache. When I finally got tacked up, it started down pouring. Annnnnd I forgot my regular jumping bit in my show trunk because I had switched to a gag bit for the hunter pace.

img_2837

Oh, and yes, that hunter pace IS the last time we jumped.

However, I am not sure if it was the combination of knowing we now have a show on the calendar, the cooler weather, or the brand new jumps in the arena… but I was DYING to jump. Luckily, Mandy was cool about waiting even LONGER to start my lesson as we waited out the rain storm. SO. SO. THANKFUL.

When we got out there, the footing was perfect, but all the jumps had that “shimmery” quality jumps get when they have water sitting on top of them near sunset. No big deal.

We warmed up through an exercise that focused on moving May off my inside leg and connected with my outside aids for canter/trot/canter transitions. This went mostly ok.

img_2836
You can see the puddle on these boxes

We warmed up over a small course that, honestly, went really well. I had a bit of trouble getting May really in front of my leg in the bigger bit (UGH), but figured it out by the end of the course and my second attempt was good.

Then, we moved onto a longer course. Single diagonal, triple line, skinny vertical, bending line to oxer, roll back, then sharp bending line to a vertical. WHEW! The first attempt was good. The second attempt tho, was EVEN BETTER.

Not only was the second attempt better, but the jumps were bigger. And you know what? I really wasn’t nervous. The entire lesson. No nerves. WHO AM I?

Are there things to fix? Of course. Am I going to get nervous in the future? Of course. But last night was FUN from start to finish. I might write a more in depth post about this lesson, but for now, I am just going to bask in my love for this little yellow horse.

Recent Rides & Fall Feelings

My schedule has been a bit insane lately, as life and work have both gotten in the way. Unfortunately, they have also gotten in the way of my riding. Luckily, I have been able to keep up with my recent lessons, so I have some stuff to talk about!

May and I ended up having two Dressage lessons back to back because my trainer was repainting all of her jumps and making some new ones. (Props to her and everyone that pitched in to get that done. They look AMAZING.) Luckily though, Mandy is basically an evil genius, so she managed to make both Dressage lessons significantly different from one another.

The first lesson was all about test riding. We warmed up quick then ran through a BN test (which one? who knows). I am pretty sure we did BN A… but backwards. Honestly, I usually practice my tests backwards because May is more than smart enough to learn a test and start anticipating EVERYTHING.

The first test was…. ok. Maybe a low 30s test? The trot work is in a good place, and the quality of the canter and canter transitions have improved. However, I am pretty sure a bug bit her on the nose during our walk work so…. the head flinging was a bit much. Annnnnd I was so happy with the canter transitions that I didn’t ride my circle, which lost me a few points on geometry.

So we did a ride-a-test format, where Mandy and I discussed what was good and what was not good, and then I went back in and did it again. And you know what? It was probably a mid to high 20s type of test. Just really good. Solidly accurate, good quality on the trot and canter, stretch in the free walk. So we basically just gave May pats and told her she was a good girl.

Then… I was traveling and she got a week off. Whomp Whomp.

However, I was back in time for my next lesson, which thanks to some wind/rain, was in the indoor.  As a result, we went back to working on the shoulder-in work. May is clearly getting a LOT stronger in these movements and a lot more confident in the idea of really weighting her hind end. Honestly, just not a ton to say here hahaha. The shoulder-in work is helping and improving, but it is definitely still a work in progress.

Looking forward, Kentucky has decided to show off a bit with the weather… giving us a taste of fall. So far, it looks like all you AEC people should have nice weather for this weekend!

not yet… but it feels like it!

On Thursday, I am Dressage scribing ALL DAY in Claiborne Ring 2. Really excited to spend a day listening to how judges score Dressage tests.

Unfortunately, that is the ONLY DAY I will get to AECs, since on Friday, I am flying out to Tucson for family stuff. I’ve never been out that far west, much less in the SouthWest, so I am excited for the trip.

Again, we get back on Monday, so Tuesday will be a lesson again, which is good. Because I need my lessons. Why do I need my lessons? Because I am aiming for the Hagyard Midsouth Team Challenge in Mid-October.

Am I insane? Probably. This show is competitive, big, and engages in a bit of level creep on XC, and we haven’t gone BN since May of 2016.

You know what though, she is going great. We jumped some Novice stuff on the hunter pace. We jumped some Novice stuff at our schooling at the KHP in the DOWNPOUR. We’re schooling much more complicated SJ courses at home. And, let’s be honest, the starter level we did back in APRIL was not a challenge for either of us. Also, May has gone BN with my half leaser back in the Spring.

So… This morning I officially renewed my USEA membership.

My goals are literally to go and have fun. Watching videos from previous years (yes, I do this) just makes me feel serious envy. Cantering around KHP in mid October? Yes Please and Thank You.

What about you? Are you looking forward to the end of Summer and the Fall weather?

Hunter Pace Fun

This Saturday practically the entire barn emptied out in order to attend a hunter pace put on by a local hunt group. The day was nearly perfect with temps in the mid 80s, sunshine, dry ground, a little bit of a breeze, and low humidity.

From last year, I knew that the course would be about 45 – 50 minutes long with a few water crossing and a bunch of jumps, almost all of which were jump-able for May and I. Last year, we lost a shoe, which kept us from jumping most things, but this year, my goal was to jump pretty much everything.

This year, I also remembered to grab my cambox! While I have the ENTIRE 45 minutes pace on video, I picked out a few clips that are, in my opinion, the most interesting. Eventually, I will get the whole video up on youtube, but that is a project for another weekend. I figure, as a result, it makes sense for this post to follow a similar highlights reel haha.

The start of the pace was a line of a few, smaller jumps, which I think everyone in my group easily popped over. Actually, now that I think about it, May was the least experiences horse in the group, as every other horse had gone at least Training. Oh well, she was the best as far as I am concerned. 😉

When we got to the first water crossing, I had a slight spike in nerves. Last year, May launched herself awkwardly over every water crossing. One of which ended up with the butt of my crop colliding with my lip and lower teeth… which of course left a GIANT bruise and a nearly busted lip. This year, I have a new set of head-shots scheduled at work on Thursday so… COULD NOT afford to have a busted face.

animated-5Luckily, all the work we have been doing with water obstacles seems to have paid off. May took a look at the water, decided where to put her feet, and then stepped carefully through the mud/water/rocks. Good girl!

One of the big elements of this hunter pace is this GIANT HILL coming out of the woods. You can see the video of it in the below instagram post. BUT what you can’t really tell is the fact that May’s ego got a bit bigger than her legs. Halfway up the hill, one of the teammates went to pass us on the OTTB she was riding. Normally, this makes total sense. Big OTTB has a huge gallop stride vs. May and May isn’t one to get pissy.

EXCEPT, this time, May decided she was going to RACE the nearly 17h OTTB. Halfway up the hill, she suddenly SUNK down and TOOK OFF. I took the audio off the video because it was literally just me HOWLING with laughter. Oh mare. ❤

The middle of the pace kind of went along similarly. Although, I could tell May got pretty frustrated towards the middle with the stop/go/stop/go rhythm we had. Luckily, my group was great so we took a nice long walk break in the middle and then spent most of the last few minutes just going forward.

In fact, so forward, that I jumped the biggest XC jump I have ever jumped on May… As we cantered towards the coup in the below video, I was convinced that it was only like BN height. Honestly, I couldn’t figure out why two of our teammates were skipped it. I figured they just weren’t interested in jumping on the slight downhill. So I cantered down to it… and about the time the below GIF starts, I realized it was quite a bit bigger than I anticipated. In true adult amateur form, I proceeded to chip into it.

I later learned that it was about Novice height, but the downhill approach may make it more of a training level fence… go figure. May, as usual, couldn’t have cared less and thought all the jumping was great.

All in all, it was a SUPER fun day. I am hoping to get more media, so maybe you all will get a wordless Wednesday out of the rest of it.