Friday, September 28, 2018

2018 RMDS Championships

I have so many words about this show that I'm almost speechless.  It gave me such horrible anxiety for the couple of weeks leading up to it and again, horrible anxiety after the fact.  I am not one typically for a lot of self-doubt or self-loathing, but I experienced it in droves relating to this show.

For all of the weirdly negative feelings I had, I also experienced a ton of fun this weekend.  Gav's breeder, Lisa Brezina, flew out with fellow blogger and cob enthusiast, Jen from Cob Jockey!  I was so excited to see both of them (and meet Jen) that I literally told anyone I could at the barn along with coworkers and non-horsey friends.  They did not disappoint!  Lisa is such a warm person and so in love with the breed that she is just disarming and completely inviting to talk to.  Jen is super helpful, friendly, a bombass photographer, and in my case awesome to bounce cob-related questions/ideas off of (her and Conner are far enough ahead of Gav and I that she's sorta been there done that with some of our problems).

Jen with Gav... I'm jelly of those elbows!

Jen was kind enough to act as show photographer (thank you, thank you, thank you!), so I not only have beautiful pictures, but also a lot of pictures where I can learn what some of my habitual issues are in my body (I'm looking at you left arm and general leaning forwardness).

The bad pictures make me cringe and I may post them at some point, but not today!  Today is about the good.
Exhausted horse and rider with our glorious big brown ribbon!
Good timing and VERY flattering ;)
Warming up - spoiler, I didn't get this trot in the test
   

Medium Walk - First Test, T-3

Has to be start of stretchy trot circle - First Test, T-3

Gav and his breeder having a moment


Just love this pic..


At the end of it all, I cried

I left the arena after our championship ride at training level feeling so relieved and so happy with our ride.  There were no serious "oh fuck" moments and he felt pretty damn tuned into me.  I halt, saluted, patted him and just kept patting him because I knew I was going to cry.  And I cried.  I'm a little bit of a crier anyways, but this horse is just... I don't know... he's my guy.  I'm not a perfect rider, and he's not the perfect dressage horse, but I adore him and he tried really hard for me all weekend.  He hopped on and off the trailer like a pro, he was never naughty or dangerous (even when he was a scared), he looked beautiful, and he listened to me (always on the ground, and most of the time when ridden).  I just felt so lucky, and maybe a little unworthy of him (again, the self-doubt kicking in).  

It was a great weekend with maybe not the greatest scores (62.5 for the morning test and a 63.75 for the championship test, interestingly, in the championship test the E judge scored me significantly higher than the C judge (65.? vs 62.?), but like the exhausted person I was at that point - I completely forgot to pick up my test, so that mystery will be left unsolved).

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Showing in Blue

I honestly don't know how the people who show for weeks (or for that matter just a few days) do it.  Showing is exhausting to me.  I'm getting better at it, but it's still exhausting.

Yes, I am wearing an apron
Here are some of my own personal, very amateur and slightly diva-ish/lazy tips for showing:
  1. Pay people to help you if possible!  This includes braiding, coaching, and calling (for dressage tests).
  2. Pack your trailer the day before you leave.  It's so nice to just grab the pony and go!
  3. Bring more hay than you think you'll ever need.
  4. Chug water, Gatorade, and bring lots of snacks!  Don't forget to bring some sort of protein.  You're gonna go from not hungry at all to oh-my-god-how-did-I-let-myself-get-this-hungry in two seconds.  
  5. Also bring snacks for anyone helping you.  They deserve a million cookies.
  6. When someone acts like an asshole in warmup, ignoring arena etiquette completely, and nearly runs you over several times, keep the incredulous faces to yourself.  You never know who someone's trainer is on the outside of the ring. *oopsie*
  7. Immediately upon returning home from said show do laundry!  White breeches, white shirts, white show pads clean better if not left to their own dirty devices for weeks in the back of your trailer.
  8. Always put the pony first - first to eat, first to get water, first for treats and kind words.
  9. Don't take it too seriously.
My face in ALL of these photos clearly shows that I'm taking this way too seriously ;)

Gavin and I showed last weekend and accomplished something that I had set as a goal in 2018.  It is a tiny achievement to some, but Gavin and I qualified for the RMDS championships in September at training level.  When I realized we scored well enough to advance I started to cry in the middle of the show barn aisle.  My mom thought something was horribly wrong (not a pretty crier), but I just felt so proud of him.  

Besides a lot of calling at the show (and oh boy, did he scream his head off while we walked around the grounds), he didn't put a hoof wrong.  This doesn't mean our test was perfect (hello breaking to the trot down the long side, jigging before the free walk, and general tension), but he is always game to try, and luckily he puts a lot of trust in me to get him through scary situations without him dying.  I feel very lucky to call him my horse.

We left the show absolutely soaked (it poured right after our test) with a 63.8% T-3 test, a second place ribbon, and a ticket to championships.  :)
  

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Show Day


I apparently am at a loss for words anytime I blog.  It's like I want to communicate with the blogging community, and I'm definitely reading and commenting, but when I go to write my own - I lose all words.  Very unlike me.  

Anyways - we went to our first RMDS (Rocky Mtn Dressage Society) show this last weekend and didn't totally suck!  I mean, the heat was atrocious, but I was expecting that and hydrated like I meant it.  I also braided for the first time.  I guess I would describe it in two words - painful and frustrating.  I've learned my lesson - just pay and let someone else do the deed while I clean tack or something.

Gavin was his usual self.  He was amiable, steady, and ready to blast off in the trot.  He was also tight-backed, tried to run through either shoulder, and gave a very weak attempt at the running buck in his first test.  I actually laughed as we were going along the rail.  It was such a pathetic attempt that the judge gave us a 5.5 for the canter and just noted that he had a tight back, but I know the truth.  He wanted his blasted rider off his back!

I had a great time and overall felt like we did ourselves proud in the 1-1 test (the T-3 test not so much - we were both still very tight at this point).  Anyways - without further ado, here are some pictures!    


Captain Hunch with a side of Rogue Right Arm

Thank god this is over...




Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Six Months

I decided when I moved into the new barn and was able to get more consistent lessons and regular rides that I'd start document Gav's muscling/conformation on a monthly basis.  Here are the results after 6 months. 

November

December
 
January

February


March
 
April

May

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Solace


The last two weeks have not been good to me personally.  These kind of weeks happen when you love someone (or several someones) who have substance abuse issues.  It can be very isolating, lonely, and frustrating when people you love slip away to a place where you can’t reach them, even when they’re right there in front of you. 

My thoughts exactly
 
I've experienced the effects of addiction so many times now in my life and within so many different relationships.  I used to cry, get angry, do anything in my power to stop the behavior, but what I’ve realized over time (and with professional help) is that you can’t stop someone who is determined to do something.  You can’t help someone who doesn’t want help.  And so, I’ve learned to provide myself with self care during these times. 

I look for ways to make myself feel good (healthy ways, if you don't include the occasional primal scream and cookie binges…).  That means spending time with friends, walking and cuddling my puppy, evening trips to Barnes & Noble for a coffee, and it also means A LOT of barn time. 

 
I feel the most myself when I’m at the barn.  I feel strong, capable, and in control of my life.  I can forget, sometimes for hours, what is happening outside of the arena and barn. 

It is a true blessing in my life that I found horses, horse friends, the blogging community, and Gavin. 

First signs of spring

Here’s hoping the next week looks better *fingers crossed*

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Half Halt Clinic


The Half Halt Clinic

This last weekend, I was finally able to lesson with an ‘S’ judge and local Denver trainer that I’ve been pursuing like some weird jilted lover for years.

Cooooookies Plleeeeeease
 
She asked me what my goals were with Gavin.  I told her I’d like to earn my bronze with him.  This is hard for me to say out in public (especially with the audit crowd listening).  I’m shy about my horse goals, mostly because I worry about others judging those goals and me/Gav. 

She asked what I thought we needed to work on.  I told her he was a very willing partner (this is the truth), and that I need to be better with my body and knowing/understanding how much to ask and when to ask.  AKA how to be a more effective rider.

She watched us go for a few minutes (transitions, change of direction, etc.).  She loved him, me maybe not so much. 
Poser

Positive takeaways:

1.       She didn’t say one damn thing about my hands/elbows/arms.  I feel like I’m finally making some progress in this area.  I think that one lesson I had with the grand prix rider who focused on equitation was mega helpful on this.

2.       She really liked him.  She must have said it once every 5 minutes.  She liked his gaits and his attitude and kept musing on why other riders in the area didn’t buy cobs. 

a.       This led to a tangent on Cardi (welsh cob superstar ;)) and how Jessica Wisdom rides the hell out of him (in a good way).

3.       She commented that I’m fine with the amount of leg and spur usage.  Just need more prompt canter transitions and he won’t be offended by my lengthy leg squeeze because it won’t be there anymore.

a.       I specifically asked her about this because I had an older pleasure rider tell me she didn’t care for spurs and that she’s noticed I leg my horse a lot.  To say I felt a little anxiety about that statement days later would be the understatement of the year.  It fucking haunted me.
Obligatory cute pug picture

Things to work on (homework):

1.       She kept asking me to sit the trot.  This is not something I do particularly often.  I like to push him into his bigger trot when we’re working and it’s a bitch to sit (see: Erika is lazy).  She said tough shit, you bought a horse with a big, bouncy trot and now you’ve got to learn to sit that trot. 

a.       Week 1: Sitting trot 10 minutes a ride

b.       Week 2 (and going forward): Sitting trot 5 minutes stirrups, 5 minutes no stirrups. 

c.       Week 3: admire my new abs of steel ;)

2.       Half halt in every corner, before every transition, after every transition, sometimes just to say ‘hey listen to me!’.  She totally called me out on my lack of half halts.  I fully admit that I never think about them, but when I actually practice them the canter transitions are much improved.  So ya know - the new name of the game is half halts.

3.       When you cue canter – he canters.  This isn’t optional.  Help him out on this by half halting before the transition, but still require canter upon cueing – not 3 strides later.  As always, this is a work in progress, but I truly believe once I install auto-half halts on myself, his canter transitions will improve dramatically.

4.       He can get a little lazy behind in the canter and lose tempo at the beginning of his canter work.  Ask for just a touch more and then follow a little more with hands at the beginning. 

5.       Work on my seat:

a.       Plug my butt into the saddle. 

b.       Relax hips and thighs. 

c.       Feel my seat bones on the saddle. 

d.       If my zipper touches the saddle, I’m clearly leaning too far forward. 

e.       Don’t stand in the stirrups at the canter.



Top - March, 2018, Bottom - February, 2018

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Areas for Improvement


While preparing for both tests highest level (T-3, 1-3), I thought it’d be helpful for me to figure out what I’ve got locked down and what I need to work on.

Unrelated - here are some videos from our lesson this last Friday.  Sorta gives a feel for where we are on trot/canter.
 
 
General challenges

1.       Keeping him relaxed and focused on me

2.       Keeping MYSELF from making noise (kissing, clucking, good boys, oh shit!, etc)

3.       Forward, relaxed transitions

4.       Braiding?  Just pay someone???

5.       No vomiting – on or off horse

Training-3

1.       Loop from H-X-K

a.       Need to make sure it’s fluid and that the bend is there

2.       Free walk from K-X-H – we get bogged down in the walk and he gets squirmy when I’m picking him back up from a long rein

a.       Need to make sure he stays forward and relaxed

3.       Stretchy trot circle

a.       These are good, I just need to make sure I can get his focus on me in a busy show environment

First-3

1.       HA! Hahahahaha.  That’s my crazy-we-might-fail-miserably laugh.

2.       Lengthening in both trot/canter

a.       Getting there, but might need to push them a bit further

3.       Leg yield off rail to X and back to rail

a.       Need to make sure we can laterally cover the distance while remaining forward at the trot

b.       Just needs more practice, specifically in a standard size dressage arena

4.       Canter loops to X and back to rail

a.       Need to not get in his way when headed back to the rail.  I have a tendency to lean back and out when we’re returning to the rail.  This throws him off balance and often puts him back into trot.

b.       Just needs more practice, specifically in a standard size dressage arena

5.       10m trot circles/15m canter circles

a.       More practice in a standard size dressage arena

6.       In general, there is a lot of canter in this test.  His fitness is good, but we do have occasional breaks to the trot.  Need to keep him forward.