A Foot Update

Does it feel like everyone is talking about their horse’s feet a lot more this year, or is just because I am obsessing over it?

ANYWAY, we pulled May’s shoes during the first week of September. The dew from a typical hot KY summer was taking it toll, and May had managed to lose both front shoes. There is nothing like wet grass and rock hard ground to encourage shoes to come flying off of hooves. I was literally sending pictures like this to my farrier with calm messages such as, “THIS SHOE IS ABOUT TO COME OFF AND I HAVE A SHOW IN 3 DAYS.”

Mind you, these photos are from June. So things got WORSE.

Luckily, my farrier is not one for such dramatics, and he dutifully came out each time and fixed her up. He and I agreed that the issue was really microbes getting underneath the shoe and into the hoof wall. What was my breaking point? When he couldn’t clinch down nails on her black hoof because the hoof wall was just SMOOSHING away. (technicaly terms, but it made me a bit nauseous).

I tried a round of white lightning, which stopped the progression, but it couldn’t cure the issues going on UNDER the shoe or behind the nails. I put May on a hoof supplement, but the weather in KY continued to work against us.

At my last horse trial, my farrier was there. He came by to tighten her shoes and check on her, since he was going away for a week. I asked out glue on shoes, and he indicated why that probably wouldn’t work for us right now. He pulled out a shoe that would allow him to put the nails in different places because anywhere we had put a nail was just crumbling away.

“Well,” I started, “what about taking her barefoot again?”

His first question, “when’s your next show?” I shrugged my shoulders.

“If we don’t compete again this year, it’s not the end of of the world. I haven’t signed up for anything.” He nodded and agreed that pulling the shoes would probably be best. We would wait out the rest of this cycle as much as we could to let her grow as much hoof as she could, and then we would pull them.

And pull them we did. Then, hurricane Florence passed through KY, and we had one of the rainiest September on record. I think the pictures speak for themselves:

Immediately after pulling and trying to leave as much hoof as possible.

 

Better photos about one week after pulling shoes. (Her back feet are barefoot and BEAUTIFUL)

Right after 5 week trim. Leaving these photos big for everyone.

Black Foot. 
White Foot
I don’t know why the black foot looks so short and stubby here. It’s really not. 

Are they perfect? No. They are still in the process of changing shape and growing out the nail holes. Are they a lot healthier? Definitely. The hoof is dry, hard, and a lot stronger than it had been. I think once those nail holes fully grow out, we’ll be in good shape going into winter.

As for her comfort level – May was really comfortable in her hoof boots the day after being trimmed this week, and I was riding her completely barefoot towards the end of her last cycle. Fingers crossed that when I get back from my trip this weekend, she will be comfortable without boots again.

On a different note, woke up this morning to 50 degrees of fall greatness. ❤

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Where Are You Fall?

October in KY is usually one of my favorite times of the year. The heat and humidity drops away, the evenings are bright and pleasant, and the leaves start to show their colors. Except for the first 10 days of this month (I am still counting tomorrow). The first 10 days of this month, this year, have been my worst nightmare:

Weather

What the above doesn’t show is the humidity and lack of any kind of breeze… which brought “real feel” temps into the 90s. Even the nights were hot and humid. How does May feel about it?

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Are you sure we have to? #may #horsesofinstagram #whereisfall

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The poor girl has already really grown in her coat. And, do you see what is at the end of this week? Those are 50s with lows in the 40s. Ugh.

So last weekend, May accidentally got Saturday off when the husband and I forgot to completely remove the groceries from my car before I went to the barn. 90 degree temps mean you CANNOT store meats and cheeses in your car for any extended period of time. The adult in me won out, and I went home after picking her feet.

Then on Sunday, May got an easy hack around the field. Maybe 10 min trotting, 3 minutes cantering, and the rest of the half hour walking. She was covered in sweat, and it took a solid chunk of time to get her cooled out the way I like.

This weekend is a total wash, as we will be out of town for a wedding. 🙂 Although, I may have also taken off Monday just so that I could squeak in a riding day. I don’t really have the time at work to sacrifice a whole day, but you only live once and work will still be there on Tuesday.

I am coming to the conclusion that clipping is probably on the docket this winter, but poor May thinks that is just terrifying. What about you? Has fall fully rolled into your neck of the woods yet?

Behind the Stall Door With: May As Well

When I found myself at a loss for topics for today, Tracy came through with inspiration. Then, Olivia joined in on the hop to officially make it a party. If you haven’t checked out their versions yet, do that first!

Behind The Stall Door With: All I Need

Behind the Stall Door with: To Be Frank

The partnership between Emily O’Leary and her horse, May as Well, began about as unconventionally as any horse partnership could.

“I was debating just selling my current horse and taking a break for a while. No matter what though, I knew I wanted a plain bay gelding.” Emily admitted, before continuing. “Then, I drunkenly made a trade offer on the internet for a short, yellow mare named Krimpet.”

It turns out, that their first ride wasn’t even that magically. “Oh, I couldn’t steer at all, and we didn’t jump anything higher than maybe 12″. My first thought was that she would probably easier to sell then my current horse.”

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However, the two have stuck it out and entered the sport of eventing together. Going from W/T tests and crossrails up to a recognized horse trial at the Beginner Novice level. Let’s open up the stall door and learn more!

May Really Didn’t Steer

While there definitely were videos of May navigating around courses in her sale ad, it didn’t immediately translate to her new role as Emily’s mount. “During our first lesson, she tried to run out of the arena, and she couldn’t make a 30M circle.” It was a steep learning curve, where May learned that life was just easier when she went along with whatever crazy thing Emily asked her to do.

May Coggins Photo
First Coggins Photo! She NEVER gets this dirty anymore. 

She Was Always Show Perfect

At May and Emily’s first competition together, they did an elementary level combined test. “I remember being terrified because the warm up for SJ was in an open field, and I hadn’t yet ridden May in an open field.” Emily had nothing to worry about, as May was a total pro.

 

May Field Jump.jpg

She Has Some Non-Negotiables

May is pretty laid back about everything. Does that new OTTB need a horse to pony off of? May will do it. Did the new dog at the barn just do a zoomies through May’s feet while she’s on the cross ties? She probably didn’t even wake up. However, there are two things that May simply cannot handle.

 

May Walk.jpg

Fly spray is best delivered through wipes, thank-you-very-much. May lets all her handles know through snorting, wide eyes, and prancing in place that the act of heedlessly spraying her with STUFF is not to be tolerated. Meanwhile, clippers should be avoided at all costs, unless they come with cookies at LEAST the quality of Mrs. Pastures Cookies for Horses. Sugar free substitutes will not be tolerated.

She Is Often Underestimated

It has been assumed that May is a Dressage-only horse, a companion horse, and a retired broodmare before. She will sleep on the cross ties, wander around on the trails, and sunbathe while other school XC fences around her. However, when it is time to go to work, she is all business. As one Equine Dentist once said, “Wow, she really gets up there. You wouldn’t think that just looking at her.”

You might not know it just looking at her, but those that have ridden her have never forgotten it.

Still a Mare

It gets pretty easy to forget that May is a “mare”. She is totally cool with other horses getting in her personal space, I have never seen her swish her tail and pin her ears at anyone, and 90% the time, she just wants to get on with the thing. Whatever the thing is (eating, turnout, going back to her stall, riding, jumping, etc etc etc)

In fact, May apparently took some kind of small adventure on Sunday. The barn was out at a small show. When they left, May was tucked into her stall. When they came back, May was somehow in a stall on the other side of the barn. NT went over to her normal side of the barn to see what was up, and then she heard hoof beats behind her. May had re-escaped from stall #2 and was sheepishly making her way back to “her stall”.

You can see the stall guard and the step down here.

My theory? May ducked under her stall guard, wandered around the barn to see if there was any grain dropped on the floor. Spotted some food in stall #2, and decided to spend the rest of the day there. I think she is going to be relegated back to having the bottom half of her stall door closed when the barn is empty, especially now that the weather has cooled off a bit.

So how does May remind us that she is, indeed, a mare? She has OPINIONS.

Last week, I decided it was time to put May back into real work. She is sound now barefoot, and seemed perfectly happy to drag me around again. So it was time to reintroduce some real work. I threw on my Dressage saddle and grabbed my Dressage whip. The ride was planned to be fairly easy – reestablishing contact and bend.

Our warm up went fine. She was a bit stiff off both legs, so I returned those with the help of the whip. She got a bit tense while I was schooling the whole “one leg means move over” thing, but she quickly relaxed once we had a few successes. Great. I picked up the canter to the left and had a nice easy bend and lope in that direction.

Then, we went right. If you remember, bending right has been our issue lately. So, when she went to lean through her right shoulder, I lifted my inside hand and added my inside leg more firmly. As a result, she MELTED DOWN.

I mean, full on temper tantrum. Throwing her head around, stumbling over herself, shooting forward, sucking back, etc etc. For maybe a solid 2 minutes. What was I doing? Keeping my right hand up and my right leg on while cursing quite loudly. Here’s the thing with May. No matter how much she escalates, I can’t give in or escalate with her. I have to be firm, clear, and consistent.

Serious Opinions about Pictures lol

After her meltdown, she gave me a big huff and bent nicely around my right leg. I put my whip and cell phone down, since I didn’t want to really use either if she decided to have another meltdown, and we went back to work. She picked herself up through that shoulder, quickened the inside hind to compensate for the new balance, and moved better going over her back.

At this moment, NT came to the ring and complimented me on how well she was working to the right. I think I and both the other riders in the ring with me (both advanced riders thankfully) had a good laugh as we informed her about May’s mini drama series.

She may be a REALLY good mare, but she is still a mare. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. What about you? Does your horse sometimes hit you with overly dramatic opinions?

Random Updates

The heat really broke in KY this week, and we have gotten the first SWEET taste of fall. While the days are still warming up to the mid-80s, the humidity  has fallen and the mornings and nights are cool and comfortable. Even the horses are feeling the change as their fuzzy coats start to peek through their slick summer ones.

I took full advantage of this on Tuesday, when the lack of sun kept temperatures comfortably in the 70’s all day. When I arrived to the barn, a couple of the girls (women? ladies?) were tacking up for a trail ride. I quickly threw a saddle and hoof boots on May and joined them.

Not sure I will ever get over how beautiful KY is. The grass here is LITERALLY greener than anywhere else I have ever called home. hahaha.

As for May’s feet, they’re doing really well. Excuse the durasole peaking through in these pics, but I think this will give you an idea of where things stand. Last night, it was starting to become apparent that the sole was starting to really adjust and become concave, while the hoof wall was starting to take on more of the weight of the foot.

Take a peek at that rock hard back foot hahaha. Fingers crossed the front feet turn into that over time. 
Not bad for 1 week post shoe-pull. 

The white line has dried out, and the spreading/cracking seems to have completely subsided. She is very comfortable on grass and soft surfaces without boots, so she has been as happy as always in her turnout. However, she does still get a touch sore on gravel, pavement, and hard packed dirt. (hence the hoof boots for our trail ride). Fingers crossed that things continue to go well. If it starts to look like we are going to have a wet fall/winter, I might invest in some keratex hoof gel. Let me know if you have ever used it!

This weekend will be full of horses, but probably not very full of May. Flying Cross Farm is having their annual recognized horse trail this weekend, which also includes the University of Louisville’s collegiate team challenge. They are running Starter – Prelim, and I know at least one person in almost every division. Being a good member of the eventing community, I will be jump judging for XC on Sunday. (Probably going to be a 7AM – 7PM job!)

Check Out USEA Events A-Z: Flying Cross Farm Horse Trials to learn more about this cool event.

How about you? Any fun plans for the weekend?

Blog Hop – Millionaire Me

Hellomylivia did an awesome blog on what she would do if she was suddenly and unimaginably RICH. Go check it out first, then come back. It’s pure gold. Of course, that means it now needs to be a blog hop.

So what would I do if I was suddenly gifted with an UNIMAGINABLE amount of money?… First of all, I work in finance, I have a degree in finance, I would have to build some kind of reasonable plan for most of the money. Ideally, something safe that generates at least 3% a year to pay for our expenses and gift to charities.

However, this blog hop isn’t about the rational things you would do. It would be about the other things. Let’s start with real estate first.

I would buy this farm. Dream Farm and convince my trainer to move her operation there… Hey Girl – If I win the lottery 😉

Dream Farm

  • 41 Acres
  • 9 European Style Stalls (it would need more)
  • Large Indoor Arena with viewing room and sound system
  • Massive outdoor
  • round pen
  • Trails
  • Barn that features
    • living room
    • dining room
    • bunks
    • laundry
    • kitchennette
    • full bath
    • etc etc etc
  • The house is also nice…
  • Fields would need to be segmented a bit more, and I would like to add run-ins to a couple, but nbd if budget is no issue.

A trailer and a new truck for the hubs would definitely be in the cards too. He can literally pick out whatever truck he wants. I know he has a wish list for that somewhere… as long as it can tow my trailer… and is white because it has to match the Jeep.

AND MY TRAILER: A brand new, 4 star, 2 horse with front walkout and a full dressing room. Gooseneck and quiet ride equipped. Don’t ask me why this is what I want. It just is, okay? (It will also need cameras like Amanda has because those are pretty awesome.) Husband will be responsible for all towing. Thanks in advance.

4Star

I would also need a second horse. A total packer. How about this lady? Probably a mare. Something over the age of 10, not larger than 16.2, with a strong record at Training level. (time faults are totally cool. I like going too slow).

Mare for sale.JPG

As for competing my packer, I would love to do a Novice 3-day, go to Aiken, and qualify and attend AEC’s. I think… although, sometimes I just get burned out competing. Maybe I wouldn’t if I hired a super-groom. Either way, I want showing to be super low stress and fun.

I also have a weird dream of wanting to be an owner at KY3DE so… NT – You also get a horse. Something that is going at least Prelim, so we have some sense as to its real ability to be a 4* horse. Shopping as an owner with practically no budget would also be a ton of fun. Like who cares how much I lose vetting each horse… or how much we spend traveling. It will be just for fun.

May’s life wouldn’t change overly much. She would probably get more of the finer things in life, as in weekly message and such. I might transition her into a fox hunt horse, as she really thinks the other stuff is stupid, and I think she would be awesome in the field.

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I wouldn’t buy the young prospect. I would just keep buying wonderful, older packers and then retire them on my farm until the end of my days. Has the husband turned pale and sweaty reading this yet? How about this – total cost for all these things that I want to buy?

  1. Dream Farm: $2M
  2. New Horse: $30K+
  3. Upper Level Horse: $80K+
  4. Trailer: ~$30K
  5. Updates to Dream Farm: $200K?
  6. Truck: $80K

Total (without competing/fox hunting/horse shopping costs): nearly $3M

Ha…. hahaha. No way. How it would actually happen?

  1. build a house on some acreage. Continue boarding May
  2. MAYBE buy a second horse
  3. Husband still gets the truck
  4. Used trailer without the +1 and quiet ride
  5. No sponsoring Upper Level Horse

What about you? What is on your “only in my wildest dreams” list?

Goals Wrap Up & Cuteness

After a week of mostly lazy riding and reflecting on our horse trial, I think I have gotten enough distance from ER MAH GAWD I LOOOOVE my PONY to actually review the goals I had set ahead of time. (Honestly though, OMG I LOVE HER.)

Dressage Goal: Score below a 35

Done! We scored a 29, which is higher then the 24.2 we got at our last horse trail. Again though, that was from a soft judge, in an outdoor arena, and for a test we had done a few times before. I am super happy about the 29, and the consistent 7s & 7.5s in the collectives.

img_4895-2

Show Jumping Goal: Ride Forward!

Is anyone surprised that riding forward led to a clear round? Anyone? How about any of my current and past trainers that have been telling me to do this for YEARS? Nope. Didn’t think so. We definitely had some bobbles and less-than-ideal distances, but since we were riding forward, May was easily able to sort through things.

img_0543

Cross Country Goal: School the Water

The water was way more spooky then I was expecting. Half in the shade, deeper than expected, a bit of algae, and surrounded by other jumps that made it feel a bit claustrophobic. I kept my leg on, and we went into it without incurring penalties. May got lots of pats and love (and then tried to walk into the drain, and I had to hustle her away from it).

img_0568

Overall Goals:

  • No Negative Self Talk: SUCCESS. Created a plan for the water and SJ with my trainer and executed without hesitation.
  • Utilize visualization: I probably rode through the SJ course in my mind about 5 times. Did it go exactly as well as my visualized course? Nope. But it definitely helped me stay focused on what mattered (Balance, pace, line instead of the perfect distance)
  • Stay Positive: This was easy because each phase went really well. It was a long day, but an unbelievably fun one.

And the Cuteness

One of the girl’s from my barn was featured in Eventing Nation for her adorable helmet cam footage. Before her round, I helped her put on her new galloping boots. During her round, you can hear the whole team cheering her on. Mind you, her round went at nearly 4PM, after we had all been at the show since about 8AM. Did that matter for the riders, parents, and people that came to help? Nope, and that is part of what makes eventing so much fun.

I thought May’s ears were too cute to handle, but this takes it to a whole other level.

The Video

Eventing Nation Article

Is there anything better then a girl and her pony?

2018 Fall Mini Trial – Show Jumping

Because I have no chill, I looked at the scores and knew we were sitting in 3rd heading into show jumping. Since we had more than two hours in between Dressage and Show jumping, I watched a few people go at BN, and I realized that, to me, BN still looked big. The course was simple though, and the same for Starter and BN. Except, they removed oxers at Starter. >.<

One things I have learned about myself recently, I ride better when I have a “count” to ride to. Sure, ride the rhythm and all that, but I know if my rhythm is good by how well we’re getting down the lines.

I got on May about 30 minutes before my ride time and walked for a solid 15 minutes. I just let her take in the atmosphere and look at all the activity before I asked anything of her. I would say that probably 10 minutes into this, she took a deep breath and relaxed.

Our warm-up went really well, she was in front of my leg and distances came up easy. I think we jumped two jumps. The crossrail and then a vertical, and we were done. I watched a couple of more people go, including my barn-mate, who had a smooth, clear round. I didn’t see any poles go down, and I started to get nervous. What if I was that person that totally screwed up the whole thing?

NT gave me a few tips before we went in. Number one? Get my pace early and keep it going the entire course. Number two? Sit and turn her with my seat, leg, and both hands – don’t just try to pull her around the corners. Got it. Got it.

Below is how it went:

Things to note:

May tripped pretty good before fence one. The footing was just a bit beat up on that edge of the ring, and she was trying to look at the barn/horses in the small pens right next to the ring. This kind of messed up our rhythm and caused the short distance to fence 1.

I didn’t make a decision soon enough about the counter canter after fence one. Once I gave up trying to micro-manage it and just kicked on, she fixed it. Things to remember, just go forward.

The bending line rode pretty good. We got in tight to jump 2, but I picked a good line and moved her forward for a great jump over number 3. She swapped the front end before 3 (because I pretty much pulled her front end off the right lead) and landed crossfiring again. However, because I just kicked her forward after 3, she fixed it. Maybe lead swaps are in our future?

The outside line was my favorite part of the whole course. Over jump 4, I could hear my trainer go “Yes!” from the rail. It was a good feeling, and I just rode the rhythm over jump 5. I thought we got rolling a bit after the line, and I started to pull her around the corner. Then, I thought better of it, sat, and pushed her around the corner with my outside leg and both hands. The head flipping stopped, and we got into the line really strong. I pushed instead of steadied, so it was a bit tight on the out. However, since we had some pace, May had no problem making it work.

We landed on the left lead, and I decided to just roll with it. I kept the outside bend and moved her around my left leg and left hand to jump 8. She stayed on the lead, and I didn’t get the best turn to jump 9. I gave her a kick, she moved  up, and we finished the round double clear. Go May!

I knew we at least held our third place into XC, and I ran back to the trailer to grab my vest and pinny!

2018 Fall Mini Trial – Dressage

Can I start by saying that a horse trial held in mid-August should not be called a “Fall” mini trial? Until the weather is cool and breezy and leaves start to depart from trees, it is summer in my book, and the sweaty horses this weekend is a testament to that.

Let’s back up though. My day actually started closer to 6AM (before the heat but right within prime fog time in KY). The sun wasn’t up yet, but there was a slight glow to the sky that let you know it was trying. What was I doing at this time? I was climbing through some overgrown and wet weeds in May’s field, trying to make sure I didn’t fall on my face while trying to find her. Luckily, she was hanging out by the shelter and let me catch her. She had even stayed mostly clean from the night before. Good mare!

We loaded up the horses around 7AM, since our first rider had an 8:17AM ride time… My ride time was 11AM, but it was well worth getting up early to be a part of a big team again. I forgot how much of what I love about showing is about the people I show with.

Anyway, May got off the trailer more relaxed then she has ever been off property, and this is saying something. Husband of the year decade lifetime held May while she cocked a foot and took a nap. Cool. I tacked up, swapped into my white pants, and hopped on for a quick warm-up before Dressage.

Now, Dressage immediately  had a couple of challenges for us. The warm up area was right next to the start box for XC, and it was on the other side of the property from our actual show ring. Also, the show ring was in the facility’s indoor arena. We have never done Dressage indoors, AND it is one of those indoors with an entrance on the side to the barn and stalls partially open to the indoor (with horses in them).

May was awesome in our warm-up, but she was a bit amazed by the indoor thing. Our minute inside to warm-up got most of the tension out, but it took away my ability to really push her into positive tension and any kind of self carriage. Great. I resigned myself to riding an accurate test and keep a higher emphasis on balance and rhythm then really anything else. After all – this is Intro C we are talking about…

So there it is. There is a lot I can say about it, but I’ll give you all the scores and judges comments, then my own.

1. Enter Working Trot Rising. Halt through Medium Walk. Salute – Proceed Working Trot Rising.

Score: 7.0

Judge: Forward and Square. A little crooked after.

Centerline

Me: A little? We practically made it to the quarter line before correcting. The first trot after the halt on centerline was pretty bad. Granted, we have never halted at the beginning of a Dressage test before, so I really shouldn’t have been surprised that May was a bit sticky off my leg and chose to go left ins

tead of forward.

2. Track Right, Working Trot Rising

Score: 6.5

Judge: Could Show More Bend.

Me: Could show more of a a lot of things. She kind of fell through her inside

shoulder through the turn, and I should’ve taken the opportunity in the corner to really lift her and shove her over.

3. Circle Right 20 Meter

Trot Right

Score: 7.0

Judge: Steady Tempo

Me: Ok. Yes. The tempo was steady, but she was so far away from my outside rein that it was a bit like driving a tractor trailer with the steering wheel on the floor.

4. Circle right 20 meters developing working canter in first quarter of circle, right lead. Before A – Working trot rising.

Canter Right

Score: 7.0

Judge: Fairly Balanced

Me: This is a hard movement for me to review because the transitions get their own score. Also weird. No thoughts. It was fine but not nearly as good as I know she can be.

5. Transitions in and out of canter.

Score: 6.5

Judge: 1st could be more responsive. 2nd – Smooth.

Me: Totally agree. The downward transition wasn’t WONDERFUL, but we got the tempo back within the confines of that movement. (i.e. before A).

6. Change Rein, Working Trot Rising

Score: 7.5

Judge: Forward. Clear Bend.

Me: I like straight lines like this. I can open her up a bit and show her off. She was really good here, and we could show off a working trot.

7. Circle Left 20 Meters

Trot Left

Score: 7.5

Judge: Forward. Clear Bend.

Me: Yup.  Not as steady in the contact as I would like, but the rhythm and relaxation were there. Again, that became the aim after we decided that the indoor was not our happy place.

8. Circle left 20 meters developing working canter in first quarter of circle, left lead. Before A – Working trot rising.

Score: 7.0Left Canter.JPG

Judge: Fairly Balanced

Me: Look familiar? Same score and comment as the other canter direction. I thought this one was better, but I’ll take a seven. (Can we also discuss how the judge must have been staring right at the right entryway of the indoor?)

9. Transitions in and out of canter.

Score: 6.5

Judge: 1st Smooth. 2nd could be more prepped.

Me: I am pretty meh about both transitions. I would’ve given me a 6 because I really needed a half halt before both.

10. Medium Walk

Score: 6.5

Judge: Smooth transition. Could be more active.

Me: I agree. Unfortunately, this was one of those tension trade offs. We were right near the scary side entrance and the stalls of horses. I could either push for more activity and get tension and jigging, or just deal with the flat walk. Flat walk won. (Rewatching… I actually don’t think her walk was that flat. What do you think?)

11. Free Walk -> Medium Walk

Score: 7.5

Judge: Better Activity. Clear Stretch. Difference Shown.

Me: See? Boring walk paid off. May’s conformation just makes this movement a bit hard for her, but I think that this time, she clearly showed a stretch over her top-line and an opening of her stride.

12. Working trot rising to A

Score: 7.5

Judge: Forward and Steady

Me: Yup. This is kind of an odd movement to score. It is trotting around half the arena.

13. Down Centerline. Halt through medium walk. Salute.

Score: 8.0

Judge: No Comment

Me: Same. Appropriate for the level. Although – Am I horribly leaning to the right? This video makes it look that way. I need to watch my mirrors/set up my camera at home to see if this is a habit.

Collective Marks: (nothing was underlined or circled).

Gaits: 7.0

Impulsion: 7.5

Submission: 7.0

Rider’s Position: 7.5

Rider’s Effectiveness: 7.0

Geometry & Accuracy: 7.0

Judge: Cute! Pair works fairly well together. Forward thinker. Watch he doesn’t get too fast. Canter transition could show more prep/polish.

Me: Agreed. I don’t think speed is an issue as much as balance.

Final score: 29 to put us in third out of SEVENTEEN.

Our First Hunter Pace

Now, this post is going to be full of old photos because, when I was a young teenager, I went on A LOT of hunter paces. I took barely broke youngsters on easier paces with manicured, rolling fields and jumps larger than 2’6″ marked with cute little cones. (Just in case my future-weenie self didn’t know a jump was “big”) I took school horses that needed a bit of schooling over the tough landscapes set by my local fox hunting clubs.

Domino
Check that helmet cover, crappy t-shit, suede half chaps, and an Appy who was probably not the best XC horse.

It was seriously my favorite thing to do on horseback. However, I changed barns (a couple of times) and then ended up in KY, where manicured eventing fields greatly outnumbered rough and tumble trails that highlighted the hunter pacing of my teenage years.

During my first lesson with her, NT asked me if I would like to hunter pace May. “Yes. Absolutely.” the words were out of my mouth without a second consideration. May had never been on a hunter pace, but she had always been reliable over fences and strong but manageable traveling in a group. Then, I promptly forgot about it.

The Monday before the hunter pace, I asked NT for a lesson, and she mentioned that we could do Thursday or Friday… but that Friday was probably too close to the hunter pace. It took a solid minute for the phrase to make sense in my brain. “Am I going to that?”

“I thought you wanted to…”

“Yes… Yes! I do!” A quick, but excited, text was sent to the husband to update him on my weekend plans, the entry form was filled out, and we were in business! I did not wear a helmet cover, a t shirt, or suede half-chaps. I pulled out my white sun-shirt, polished up my boots, cleaned my tack, and then stared at my bridle.

The D-ring Myler with the hooks is a great bit for May for eventing. It gives us a lot of help getting balance, but it doesn’t have a lot of “whoa” to it. (It doesn’t need to. I do enough unnecessary “whoa-ing” in stadium all by myself.) Would I even need more whoa on May? We were going about 5 miles in a group of 7 horses including at least 4 thoroughbreds. May is not a thoroughbred, but she likes to play one on TV.

I reached into my bit box and pulled out this bit. A 3 ring, Copper elevator bit with copper. (Thanks old horse for having the same mouth size as May.)

 

Bit

I threw two reins on, one on the snaffle ring, and one on the milder gag ring. I figured that,  if she’s good and easy, I can just ride off the snaffle, but if she is strong, I have the gag bit. Then, I did something another trainer had taught me. I vet-wrapped the buckles of the reins together. (The ends farthest from the horse… not sure why this is so hard to explain… The buckles that are included in the bight of your reins… I hope you get the idea). The idea here is I could  hold just the snaffle bit without risking losing the curb rein or creating too much of a loop. If I dropped my reins, it would be MUCH easier to get them back, and I minimize the likelihood of a rein going over May’s head. Quick, Easy, Safe.

So on to the actual pace. I didn’t charge/pack my cambox because there had been a chance of rain. Of course, my luck, it was sunny and warm all day. Oh well. Next year! (Tried to find someone else’s video on youtube, but couldn’t find a single one!)

We tacked up the horses, and May was her usual calm, happy self, munching on grass while I tacked up. I hopped on, and she even stood like a statue at the mounting block… I almost threw myself off the other side. I figured out my 2 reins (luckily a smooth curb rein feels a LOT different from my pebbled, rubber reins). We even snapped a quick pic before heading to the start box.

Hunter Pace Team
See? Barely a cloud in the sky…

My biggest concern going out was May’s fitness. I had been on hunter paces that had stretched to over 2 hours and covered roads, rivers, etc. I was assured that this hunter pace was 5 miles and optimum time was likely right around 55 minutes. Great. We could do that. Headed to the start box. Started off… and May’s shoe came FLYING off. She must have loosened it during the trailer ride over.

Now, NT is VERY familiar with the farm, and she had already ridden the course once that morning on another horse. I trotted May off. She was TOTALLY sound. I was assured the footing was super forgiving, so we decided to continue. I would just avoid jumping anything of any real size. (i.e. anything larger than 2′ LOL). How did May feel? Like a screaming ball of fire. She kept up with the thoroughbreds on every gallop, big hill, little jump, etc that we found.

Buddy2Then, we came up on an ITTY BITTY stream at the bottom of a TEENY TINY hill. I brought her back to a walk, so that she could walk over it. I grabbed my neck strap with one hand, kept my body back, and waited for her to figure it out. And she LEAPED over it, snapping her head up.

Luckily, her head doesn’t come that far up, but it did bring my right hand up at an alarming rate of speed… It also brought the butt of my crop, in my right hand, up to my face at an alarming rate of speed. I ended up smashing the butt of my crop into my chin/lower set of teeth. My teeth took off the skin on the inside of my lip, and I immediately tasted blood.

A quick “tongue check” of my teeth found them all still in my head and undamaged. So I kicked on. I ended up sporting a sweet face bruise/fat lip for a few days after.

Near the end of the pace, May was definitely tired. Still sound, but tired, and she politely trotted/loped the last couple of jumps. There was a LARGE stack of barrels I really wanted to try, but it will have to wait for a time when we have our shoes on (or are really acclimated to going barefoot.) After crossing the finish line, I spent some time trying to find her shoe near the start, but I had no luck. Oh well. It was hot, and I wanted to untack, hose May, get her (and me) in the shade a bit. As for my bit choice? Considering that I am sporting at least 4 different blisters, I am glad I upgraded this once.

Sunny
How cute is this dude? Pulled out of a trailer from (or going to) Mexico with all skin and bones. Quickly developed into the most reliable school horse one could dream of. During this pace, I trotted a 2’6″ coup… from a trot… while looking backwards because I didn’t see it and was checking in on a teammate.

We ended up coming close enough to the optimum time to come in second! Second apparently included a whole bunch of swag including: gift certificates to the local tack shop, t shirts, bags, medals, and a pair of slippers. Our barn brought 14 riders and 4 teams, and three teams ended up in the “medals”. Super fun day with the barn family.

As for aftercare, May got her hooves packed with magic cushion and was rubbed down before being turned out for the night. I am a big believer that turnout is the most important thing you can do for recovery. Even after being fully cooled out and spending time standing on the trailer, all of May’s legs were tight and cool.

Her foot looked a bit broken up, but it was mostly from losing the shoe. The magic cushion was probably more for me then her since the ride was 80% grass, 15% mud/dirt, and 5% minimal gravel (where we walked), but hey, it couldn’t hurt. May got her shoe put back on Monday, and I rode her on Tuesday. She came out fresh, happy, and totally sound.

Now I remember why I love hunterpaces. Both horses and riders tend to really enjoy them. Looking forward to our horse trial this weekend!