Monday, May 24, 2010

Plan changes can mean more open doors...

I feel like this year has been a lot of ups and downs and changes in plans.  Either I'm sick or hurt or something's going on with my horses.  That said, I'm still very happy with it all.  The bad things have ended up leading to something good.  I have great faith that things happen for a reason, and God somehow makes it all work out.
Last week, after finding out about Renn's injury, I was all geared up to try to make the most of things and head to VA with Bug to do the CCI*.  However, last weekend, we had about 4 days of horrendous storms with pouring rain and hail.   Monday morning, Bug seemed to have a bit of a belly ache and didn't want to eat his breakfast.  He wasn't in any distress, just not interested in eating.  For everyone that knows Bug, this is definately not like him. To make a long story short, I gave him Banamine, not really thinking about anything except making him better.  He was fine about 10 minutes after I gave him his meds, but I then realized that I'd probably just messed up my chances at going to the CCI*.  The FEI is very particular about drug testing, and Banamine stays in the horse's system for 6 days minimum.  
Once again, another change in plans.  However, I could still switch him over to do just a horse trial at the Preliminary level.  I took that option.  Renn went along for the ride, as Jeremiah is not good with leg wrapping and medicine giving.  He was a perfect gentleman stallion all weekend, though, even after all of that stall rest.  I was very proud of him.  
I learned yet another lesson with Bug...  He warmed up beautifully for dressage on Saturday morning.  As soon as I went into the dressage arena and put my leg on to trot, he squealed.  I knew I was in for it.  However, instead of being patient and just pushing him through, I got frustrated.  This is something I need to work on.  I need to just push him forward instead of getting frustrated and making him more tense.  Lesson learned.  We ended up with a 45.2.  Not impressive, knowing what this horse COULD be getting. 
After walking the XC course, I knew that it had a lot of really good questions.  The jumps weren't huge, but I felt like it was a decent Prelim course.  I told myself that I wasn't going to take anything for granted.
Of course, just as I went out to warm up for XC, the rain started coming down.  I had a hard time seeing through the rain, and the ground was pretty mucky in places, so I decided not to push too hard for time.  Bug jumped like a champ!!  I was thrilled with him.  We ended up with 7.2 time penalties which was pretty average for our division.  
Show jumping was a very cool course with a lot of turns and interesting lines.  I walked the course with Kim, and I was determined to try to ride the lines just as she explained them.  I made the mistake of using Bug's KK bit for show jumping, as he was feeling a bit wild.  I thought that I would take it easy on his mouth after XC the day before.  Apparently, Bug wasn't tired at all!  We jumped around double clear and way up over everything, but he was definately not in as much control as I would have liked!  However, I was very happy with myself that I stayed on the lines Kim wanted us to take, and I stayed with him in his exuberance.  We were one of only two double clears in our division.
Thanks to Bug's phenomenal jumping, we ended up with a pretty yellow 3rd place ribbon!  I'm very happy with my boy, even though we definatley have more work to do.  :)
The next big stop is the Lost Hounds Horse Trials in Erie, PA, June 19-20.  Bug's going to be making the big move up to Intermediate!!  The plan is to spend the next month getting lessons and competing in some schooling combined test and dressage shows at the Intermediate level to get ready!!  
Renn seems to be doing a lot better so far, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it was just a minor strain, and he'll be back to work soon.
Hope all is well with everyone!  Kick on!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Rolling with the punches

We're coming down to the wire for the CCI* at Virginia next week.  Bug and I have been doing dressage boot camp hardcore, and he is feeling very fit and ready to go.  His jumping has been great and spot on, if a bit exuberant.  I am using this last week or so to really nail down our test and make sure our jumping is accurate and straight.  

Of course, there has to be some punches thrown at me...that's life with horses, eh?  Renn was all signed up for the Novice Horse division at Virginia.  He's been going really well and starting to really get his transitions down, and he's getting much better at staying relaxed and lovely in his flatwork and jumping.  Enter mysterious lameness....  No heat, no swelling.  VERY lame on his left front.  The farrier tried to find an abscess with no luck.  Off to Davie County Animal Hospital to see Dr. James Meeker we go!  To make a long story short, we're dealing with some level of suspensory branch strain or pull or worse.  Due to the nerve blocking that we did on his leg today, we could not do an ultrasound (the fluid from the block will show up as fluid on an US, and you can't tell if it's from the tendon or from the blocking).  The X-rays showed no bony problems, but you could see some abnormalities around the suspensory branch insertion (attachment).  

What does all of this mumbo-jumbo mean?  Renn will be on stall rest with hand walking for the next 2 weeks.  Intensive wrapping, sweating, poulticing, and medicine for the next 2 weeks.  If all of this helps? Just a strain.  If he's still lame after 2 weeks?  Back to the vet for an ultrasound.  

Renn will still make the trip to VA with me, as I have no one to care for him while I'm gone.  It'll be good for him to get more exposure, even if he doesn't have to compete.  He will go along and route his brother on!

Countdown until VA is on!  I will be saying big prayers that it goes well , and Renn heals quickly! 

Thanks for reading.  Hope all is well.  Kick on!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Wake up and smell the reflexes!

This past weekend was full of learning experiences!  It's rather a long 7 hour drive through Atlanta, GA to get to Poplar Place Farm in Hamilton, GA.  (  However, upon arriving, I realized that it is a pretty snazzy place.  For those who have never competed there, it's GORGEOUS.  The show is really well run, the people are really nice, and facility is top notch.  
Bug and I were going to be doing the Preliminary division with the hopes of having a great run up to the CCI* at VA in a few weeks.  My student, Catherine Schumack and her wonder pony, Dreamin' Up a Thunderstorm (affectionately known as Thunder) was competing in the Junior Beginner Novice.

Bug and I have been working very hard on our dressage, and it definately paid off at Poplar.  Our score didn't necessarily reflect how well I believe he went, but sometimes that's the case.  He was consistent in the connection, balanced, and listening to really well without all of the extra movements and spooking he sometimes likes to add to our tests.  We got a 37.3.  The judge really liked us, however, she said the Bug is "A very elegant horse that just needs to relax more over his topline."  Well, at least there weren't any comments about how inconsistent he is in the connection!  That's a first!  He got a 7 on his "Gaits," and I got a 7 on "Rider."  I was thrilled.  There was even an 8 on our first centerline!  We still have a lot of work to do, but I think we are definately on our way. This put us tied for 8th in our division.

The show jumping course was quite big and twisty.  It was a very forward riding course.  I watched a lot of the rounds, and I knew EVERYONE was having time penalties.  Anywhere from 5-10, depending on the round.  I had decided coming into this show, that I really wanted to have a nice controlled ride with Bug.  He can tend to really be over exuberant in his jumping.  We have had plenty of double clear rounds, but thinking ahead to the CCI*, I wanted to be sure that I was setting him up for a controlled, spot on ride at VA.  I didn't push for time in the show jumping, and it cost us 4 time penalties, but I was THRILLED with his round.  We hit every spot perfectly.  He didn't overjump and hang in the air forever.  He was just lovely.  I was very happy with my riding as well.  I've been working very hard to keep my upper body quieter and staying with him in the air (which isn't always easy!).  Even with our 4 time, we moved up to 6th place.   

The XC course was big and gallopy.  There were a few good combinations, including a bounce bank, a tough turn to a corner leading to another combination, and some great combos in the water.  It was also a very long course, at 6+ minutes.  I thought it would be a great chance to see how Bug faired on a longer course.  Once again, the course was riding BEAUTIFULLY.  He was getting every spot, making every minute marker, and I was really happy with my body control.   However, we came up to fence #15, the corner off of a turn with a very narrow place to jump. There were burlap bags filled with sand stacked on the corner.  We were on the perfect stride, and I took for granted that he was going to leave the ground, instead of keeping my left leg on.  IN that split second, Bug spooked, and we had a run-out.  My reflexes weren't quick enough.  If I hadn't taken for granted that he would jump, my left leg would have been on, and it never would have been an issue.  He came right back and jumped it perfectly.  
I'm a bit disappointed with myself, as this is going to eat at me until VA.  The good thing is, I will be practicing corners, skinnies, etc like mad until then!  It was my wake up call, and I plan on not repeating it.  Life is full of lessons, and I'd rather I be taught this one at the horse trial rather than the CCI*.  Disappointments are the fuel that make you work that much harder.  

As for Catherine and Thunder, they had a decent dressage, but it wasn't quite up to their normal standards.  They are usually putting in low-30's to high-20's and this test was a 36, putting them in 6th.  She was a bit disappointed.  We made a plan for her show jumping to make sure her little pony made the time.  She took all of the super inside turns that no one else was taking, and she pulled off a double clear!  I was very proud of them.  Their handy little ride moved them up to 3rd.  Catherine also rode a very lovely XC round with another double clear that gave them a pretty 2nd place ribbon!  I'm very proud of them.  When I started with Catherine, she hadn't done much jumping or dressage with her pony.  Thunder has been great with picking up the dressage, but he hasn't always been very brave with the jumping, even though he can jump very well.  They have just started recognized events within the past year, they have a pretty good BN record!  Two thirds and a second!  They are planning to head to the AEC's this fall.
Well, I'm going to be hitting the training schedule hard in the next few weeks.  Bug has a CCI* to prepare for, and Renn is going to VA to do Novice!
Hope everyone is doing well!!  Kick on!