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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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?

How Do We Grow Horse Sports?

So this post was inspired by a post that was submitted as part of the HN Blogger Contest by Carson Nelson. In the post, she hypothesized about why people don’t get into horse sports. The number one answer she found – money.

However, I am not sure I buy that. I have looked into how much it costs to join a yoga or pilates studio… I have seen the cost of barre classes and crossfit memberships. The truth? They aren’t a lot cheaper than riding lessons. Throw in a cheap pair of paddock boots, a barn that has helmets, and yoga pants (or even jeans you already own!), and you are about there in terms of clothing. Again, not much more than a yoga mat and appropriate clothing.

Please be aware, all of the below is a HUGE generalization of the horse market, and it is not directed at any person, barn, or organization. It is just my observations as a member of horse sports in, arguably, two of the most horse-dense areas of the country (excluding NYC).

Horse Pop
Chart from The State of the Animals IV: 2007. Highlights mine. 

Websites

I think it is terribly confusing, difficult, and discouraging to try and find a lesson barn as an adult, ESPECIALLY as a beginner. We no longer live in a culture of phone calls to strangers. We live in a culture of email, contact forms, and online scheduling. Farm websites tend to be clunky, not mobile friendly, and lack even basic SEO to show up on google searches.

As someone who moved to an area and knew no one, I know how much power your website can have. For a beginner adult – they are looking for something that looks approachable. Unfortunately, most websites either show an amazing plethora of small children, with no adults, or they show shiny show horses and only people in full formal attire. Neither of these things is likely to resonate with someone considering taking riding lessons.

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Is this relatable to the average person? Maybe?

Price Transparency

Farms can also have a nasty habit of hiding costs, leaving outdated prices on their website, or telling people to “Call for Pricing.” Pricing is readily available for nearly any product we could want, and we can pay for almost anything with a credit card. Therefore, it can be a bit off-putting to not find the real price of a service on a farm’s website.

How many times have you heard of someone being burned by a barn, including experienced people, because they weren’t made aware of other charges they were incurring? It goes from something as innocent as “would you like us to tack up your horse before your lesson?” (no mention of it being $15 extra) to THOUSANDS of dollars worth of charges at someone’s first competition. Nothing quite like having to shovel over some of your savings to make you want to quit a sport.

Trainers – have a rate sheet. Hand it out. Post it online and in your barn. If you don’t know how to do this, I can guarantee you that someone in your barn does.

Horse riding would benefit as being sold as a form of fitness, as much as a hobby. Then, maybe, people will be more likely to devote a portion of their budget to this “new kind of classes.”

Diversity

Let’s face it. Horse sports fall pretty far to the bottom of the diversity spectrum. We lack diversity in race, ethnicity, body types, and socio-economic status, among other areas. At the lower levels, the only Olympic sport where men and women compete against one another also lacks gender diversity. There are a multitude of reasons for this, but let’s just say that being friendly, welcoming, and promoting a sense of inclusion at barns would probably help keep everyone more involved.

It is scary enough to join a new sport as an adult. As for me – how many classes have I taken in sports/classes I am not already familiar with, alone? (None). If you are an average sized woman or man, are you going to call the barn that only shows very slim riders in white pants in their photos? Or no one that looks REMOTELY like you? Didn’t think so.

Beginner Adult Friendly Barns

Where are the Mimosa Rides? or the Wine Wednesday Evening Lessons? I will admit, both of these things appeal to women more than men AND serving alcohol with horses is a terrible business idea. However, there is just about no marketing barns do to encourage adults to come try riding lessons. In contrast, I have seen “Back to School Specials”, “Spring Break Sessions”, and “Summer Camps” for the under 18 crowd. Let’s try material that is targeted for the adults. Hey, it could even be “Back to School Specials” with special lessons during the day for stay-at-home adults.

Most adults don’t want to lesson with children. We learn differently, our bodies react slower, and our muscles don’t grow as fast. Trainers need to offer private and semi private lessons to accommodate adult schedules. AND have the horses to accommodate them.

Ridiculous outfit
Hilarious photo of May as a “lion” and me as a “lion tamer”… This is a fun facebook pic… but probably doesn’t below on your barn website. 

I am sure I can go on, but I think this is a good start. Is there a market for this? Honestly, I think there is. Plenty of adults lacked the funds, time or access to horses as kids that  might be able to try it out now. MANY adults are bored, and open to trying something new.

I don’t think large membership campaigns, such as USEF’s “Join the Joy”, have made any significant strides, especially outside of the already established horse community. Growth will have to be the grassroots kind, and, as tough as it is, that starts with the trainers and riders with their boots already planted firmly on the ground of their communities.

What do you think? What can riders, trainers, and organizations be doing to help grow new interest in horse sports?

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?

2018 Fall Mini Trial – XC

Who’s ready to party on Cross Country?! (that kind of rhymes, right?) I was able to give the XC course a good walk by myself well before I needed to be on May, so I took my time and took lots of pictures. Overall theme? Jumps were very small, but there were some good questions asked. Below is the full course:

Nice course map. I still got lost between 11 and 12. 

I didn’t bother rewarming up between SJ and XC, since they pretty much rode one right after the other. Also, the first jump in Starter looked like this:

It was then a straight shot to jump 2, which was at least more interesting.

We had a tight uphill rollback to jump 3:

Then, we had a bit of a straightaway downhill to jump 4:

You can see the SJ warmup just to the right here. The start gate to the top left was for N and BN.

After jump 4, we cantered along the “galloping lane” which ran next to the warm-up for SJ and jumped 5 and 6 in the fenceline.

We had another steep downhill. to jump 7, where May took a GOOD look at the bright gravel behind it.

The gravel doesn’t look like anything in this pic, but it was a lot more apparent in the helmet cam. 

Jump 8 was a bit narrow and uphill, and led right up to jump 9, which was wider but a bit spooky going into the woods.

I thought it was nice to have a clear bending line at Starter. 

We then went back down hill and up again to jump 10. I trotted down this hill to make sure we kept our line and didn’t risk slipping.

Hills are always steeper in real life than they appear in pictures. 

We had some time before jump 11, which really wasn’t an issue.

Interesting they put bright shavings in the middle of a dark bench. Oh well, May didn’t care. 

Jump 12 was apparently set for another division when I walked the course, which made me sad because it looked fun set a bit higher.

You can see the flags for other divisions jumping this in the opposite direction. 

Then… the water. One of the reasons why I wanted to do this event, and why I wanted to do it at Starter, is because this event has a pretty spooky water complex. It is mostly in the shade (by the time I rode), it has a lot of jumps surrounding it, and the entrance is very narrow and away from the barns.

Then, I found myself sitting in third place in the division, the competitive side of me came out, and the water had a go-around option. I had jumped my first clear SJ round with May EVER, and I wanted satin. This is a terrible way to feel, and I really should stop checking scores during competition. I asked NT what she thought. She told me that, if all was going well and May was feeling confident, to give it a try. I nodded. Sure. I can do that. Here is two views of it, so you can get an idea of how it looked both when I walked it, and when I rode it:

 

 

 

 

The entrance was to the right of this red roll top, which was away from the barn and a bit narrow. You can just BARELY see the green and white Starter flag ALL the way to the right. 
The sun went behind the clouds for our ride, so I think this gives you a better idea of what the water looked like during our course. Dark, a bit claustrophobic, which a tight entrance that was tough to get straight to. 

Jump 14 was a small bank going uphill, which was fun. Right after Jump 14 I checked my watch. Optimum time was 5:18 with speed penalties being below 3:20. I was sitting at just under 4 minutes, so no worries there. I had WAY too much fun just kicking on to the last 2 jumps, and the jump judge at the end definitely got a kick out of me whooping along.

img_0539
Isn’t this adorable?

We left the woods and went into an open field where the last two jumps were. Jumps 15 and 16 were fairly straight forward, with more stuff sitting in the bench of jump 15.

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Again, random junk in the bench. 
img_0542
Sorry for the terrible pic. The sun was wild early in the morning. 

So how did it go? See below!

When all was said and done, the person in 2nd ended up with a few time penalties, and we moved up to finish 2nd out of 17! Super proud of wonder mare. She was… less than impressed with the whole thing and, as soon as she was cooled down, went back to napping by the trailer.

May was seriously suspicious of the white gravel anytime we came across it, and looking at the video, I am really not surprised. It’s got to be pretty hard for a horse to read. Not a big deal though, and she was super game over all the fences.

We ended up doing the water. She sucked ALL THE WAY back to the walk, but she didn’t stop, back up, or go sideways. She got lots of pats and loose reins in the water. Until I had to steer away from where I knew a drainage pipe was hidden.

We ended up finishing with a time around 4:25, although the video below clocks in at 4:20. Either way, well within both time limits.

08.19.2018 Horse Trial – Goals

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In 2016, when May and I competed more regularly, I was really, really good at setting goals for each show. This year, as we returned to horse trials, I let them slip for the first one, but I am determined to make this a habit again. Our modest Sr. Starter division has 18 entries, so I am going to be really conscious of keeping goals away from ribbons and onto things I can control.

In writing this list, I realized that it is really a combination of two lists I had done previously: the one before our first BN and the one before our first recognized trial. The former was a BLINDING success in my mind, while the latter still feels a bit like a failure. The hilarious part? I got a better score (by like 6 points) at the recognized event. Just goes to show you, scores do not tell the whole story.

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Dressage

I am not sure what to even write here. We scored a 24.2 from a very soft judge at the last schooling horse trial, which had us in 4th out of 19. I am going to throw out there that I want to score below a 35. I think our last test was, more fairly, in the 35 range, and we will be doing Into C, which is not a test I have ever done before.

SJ8

Show Jumping

Ride forward. Really. That’s it. If poles come down because May doesn’t respect anything at 2′, then I am ok with that. I will not be ok with crawling over more oxers. If we are going to get back to BN, we need to go forward.

xc-jump

Cross Country

Do the water if it’s an option. I would much rather be out of the ribbons and get a 20, but school the water, then have the same thing happen at a BN recognized horse trial in the future. I don’t need to prove to anyone that we can win. I just need to make sure that my horse and I come through the finish flags as an even better team.

cropped-dres21.jpg

Overall

No negative self talk. I am just going to quote this one from my first BN horse trial:

I am not nervous, I am excited. That is not a huge jump, it is a reasonable effort. I did not screw up; I found something we need to work on. My pony is not a Corgi, she is an elegant gazelle (or something I guess)

Utilize visualization to create positive outcomes before they even happen. This always sounds kind of hippy to me, but it does work.

Stay Positive. At the end of the day, I am at a horse trial with my friends, and I am riding a horse that is genuinely just happy to pop over some fences with me.

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Anyone wonder why she decided it wasn’t in our best interest to attempt the next jump from a weird stride and awkward angle?

Things not on the list:

1. Clean Jumping Rounds: If we get rails, we get rails. If I try for one of the bank/ditch/water options and get a refusal, that’s not the end of the world. I am truly utilizing this event as a barometer for what we need to focus on going forward. I am going to ride like I stole it and come away with issues to work on.

2. Make My Trainer Proud: Maybe one day I will write a full post on this one. However, I think a lot of riders put a lot of pressure on themselves to not embarrass their trainer. I know I do. Of course, I managed to eat dirt during Marilyn Payne’s clinic in 2016, so I am not sure I could embarrass anyone more. At the end of the day, I work hard, am nice to the other boarders, pay my bills on time, and care about my horse. That’s all my trainer really wants from me.

3. Win: One day, I would like this to be our goal, but after so much time out of the game, it is not our goal on Sunday.

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Even though I am still a 12 year old kid who loves ribbons. 

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!

The Next Four Weeks…

For probably the first time since May and I moved to KY, we have a real calendar building out for the next several weeks.

Saturday, August 11 – Long Run Woodford Hounds Hunter Pace

Hilariously, this might be the thing I am most excited about. I hunter paced A LOT during my early teen years. I took green horses, babies that were barely backed, school horses that needed their heads screwed back on straight. Whatever was offered to me, I would hunter pace.

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Other than one pace maybe 3 years ago, I haven’t done it in more than 10 years, and I have never done it on a horse like May. Something that is sensible but game, and a horse that I know like the back of my hand. I am also going with a great group of people, which definitely makes the whole thing a lot more fun!

As long as it’s not raining, I’ll bring the cambox along.

Sunday, August 19 – Spring Run Farm Mini Trial

This barn is actually a barn I looked at to board May at before I moved to KY. It is a beautiful facility that used to host USEA rated events. While it wasn’t the perfect fit for us, boarding wise, I have definitely wanted to take a run at their really awesome XC course.

May

Since the courses tend to be bigger than your average schooling show, we are just going to play it safe and stick with starter. I definitely want to have a solid SJ and XC round in before trying to move back up. (Of course, I accidentally entered BN through their online entry portal, instead of starter. A call is in to the secretary to fix it.)

Sunday, September 9 – Blackhorse Stables Mini Trial

Hoping to move back up to BN here to end our season. I have been told that SJ and XC is a little more forgiving at this venue, and while it’s actually another barn I had looked at for boarding, I didn’t get a great sense of their XC facility when I went there. Luckily I have some time with this one, as the closing date isn’t until the end of the month. Yay schooling shows!

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After that? I will probably need to lick my financial wounds for a bit. These things aren’t crazy expensive, but it’s still extra money out of my wallet. I really need to take the time to list some extra items I have for sale this weekend…

What about you? How is your late summer/early fall schedule shaping up?

A Footloose Jumping Lesson

If you’re wondering what happened to me last week, join the club. I was called in for Jury Duty, and they quickly explained that, of the 60 people called, only 14 would be selected and the rest could leave at lunch time. Great! Except, I ended up being one of the 14 people and spent the majority of last week as a juror on a federal criminal trial. It was also at a location WAY DOWNTOWN in Louisville, so I was 45 min from home and 35 min from the barn, without traffic… given that there is always traffic in that area and they kept letting us out late, I basically didn’t get to ride last week… Oh well. Here is a summary of our lesson from the week below.

NT LOVES grids. She thinks that, especially in eventing, it is important to train horses to be responsible for what they are doing with their legs. The truth of the matter is, no one is ever going to hit ever jump from the perfect distance, so we have to train horses to make sure that they are confident and comfortable getting us out of some less than ideal situations. So instead of building exercises and courses that allow a jump, 20 strides, another jump, 5 strides, another jump, she built exercises that force us to think and react a bit faster.

The first exercise? A modified circle of death. In essence, we did the circle of death going to the left, but making right circles after the first 2 poles. See below… enjoy my paint skills.

Circle of Death

This was shockingly harder that I thought it would be. I really needed May to move off my inside leg and into my outside rein each time we changed direction, when all she wanted to do was drop her inside shoulder through my leg and barrel through my aids. Fun stuff. Eventually, we were able to do it without flailing around corners with me hopelessly hanging on the inside rein. Yay!

So then the circle of death changed again. We did it in the traditional manner, then circled in the opposite direction and came over an oxer in the middle of the exercise.

COD Oxer

Now, something interesting happened. If I could keep the balance and rhythm through the circle of death, then the turn and the oxer ended up being super smooth and easy. May POWERED over the oxer, and we ended up only doing this once in each direction. Calling it a win!

Now, it was course time. Let me just throw this out there… then I will explain. Luckily, all pics below are the jumps at the height they were set for our lesson, so you can have an idea of where we’re at. (somewhere between Starter and BN).

July Course

I always label the jump numbers on the side of the jump you are jumping from. So jump 1 was jumped from left to right, then the 2 combination was jumped from right to left. So yes. That means that the course started by jumping 1 near the rail, leg yielding out to the rail, then making a tight turn to jump the 2 combination on the quarter line. That two combination was a tight 2 stride… that I tried to make a 3 stride the first time we did it. The rest of the first course (which only went to jump 6) can be seen through my cambox!

It’s on mute because otherwise all you would hear in my heavy breathing. It was HOT and HUMID that day. After getting the 3 in the 2, I realized I really needed to get our butts in gear. I rode forward properly from there and, SHOCKINGLY, the rest of the course came up great. We were supposed to do the inside turn after the barrels, inside the red white and blue jump… but no luck the first attempt. Jump 4 jumped well, but I kept my leg on because of the liver-pool under jump 5. I shouldn’t have worried, May couldn’t have cared less. The triple rode AWESOME. It was a 1 stride to a 2 stride with the oxer at the end. So first course attempt was establishing the rhythm, but loosing the turns.

Our second attempt, we were told to add in jumps 7, 8, and 9. Except… I seriously massacred jump 4. I lost her right shoulder to the outside going around the corner, pulled (which made her MORE crooked), lost the distance. She chipped in, and jumped through her right shoulder, shoving my foot out of the stirrup and landing in a heap. I, embarrassingly, thought I was going to fall off. Nothing like impressing a new trainer in your second jump lesson by falling off because you lost your stirrup….

Here you can see the triple combination to jump 7. You can also see jump 4 (the watermelon jump) and jump 9 (the far, red white and blue vertical)

I regrouped, and we started again. I nailed one, got through 2, made the sharp turns to 3 and 4. Then, I got a little tight to the entrance into the triple combination. I am about 95% sure that I stopped breathing. We made it through fine. May really does have plenty of step. I made a VERY BAD turn to 7, and I realized I was REALLY dizzy when we landed. I circled and regrouped and came back to the walk. It was a cop out. I keep thinking that I probably could have made it through 2 more jumps, but was probably worth it in a lesson? Probably not. We took the walk break, and finished over 7, 8, and 9.

Just a slightly “to the left” pic compared to the one above, so that you can see the blue barrels and how close they were to jump 7.

I was exhausted. I felt heat sickness creeping up on me. I chugged a bottle of water while I hosed May off, and once she was in her stall under a fan, I sat down for maybe 20 minutes to regroup. It was bad. I was so sore the next day, and it was just really disappointing to me. I have spent the last couple of weeks getting up a 5AM to get to the gym before work, and this just reiterated how out of shape I have really gotten.

All I can do right now though is keep moving forward. I am pushing my morning workout a little harder, upping the amount of time I spend in the saddle (especially cantering) each ride, and I am making more of an effort to eat better to make my (and May’s job) a little easier with a few less lbs.

How did May feel? When I turned her out in her field (after a cold shower and some time under the fan), she took off galloping across the field to tell her friends about how awesome she is. I had to laugh. As usual, the problems are mine, not hers.

The circle of death! Hahaha (and the first 3 jumps of the course all the way in the background).

How do I feel about the lesson itself though? AMAZING. Reflecting back on it has made me realize just how much improvement I got from May through that one lesson. This horse has a habit of pulling me down and out of the tack after fences, but through these exercises, I had a horse that landing and came up to me, instead of pulling down. It was a huge improvement, and I can’t wait to keep working on it.