Monday, March 28, 2011

Taking a tumble...

Unfortunately, my weekend going to Georgia for the Poplar Place Horse Trials was not all I had hoped and dreamed.  
The day before I was supposed to leave, the fun began.  I went out to feed the boys, and Renn's right hind leg, from hock to fetlock, were skinned and swollen.  The theory is that he got down to roll in his stall and kicked out a low board and got his leg stuck in the hole.  I was sure that the injury was mostly cosmetic, but nonetheless, he was out of going to Poplar.  Bug would be going the journey alone.  
I'll keep the Poplar recap and short as I can.  Our dressage was less than stellar.  His outline was good, though he was a bit more into my hand than he has been.  I did not pay attention to detail and accuracy, and it cost me big time.  We ended up with a 68.3, which is barely a qualifying score.  I was hoping to break 60, but yet another dressage disappointment this year.  This solidifies my thoughts that I need major dressage boot camp with Kim.  If anyone can push me to make it happen, it is her.
I walked the XC three times.  It was a stiff course that asked a lot of good questions, though it was very rolling and gallopy, which I was excited about.  My time was early afternoon, and I was not excited about waiting around being nervous all day.  What didn't help was that the Advanced XC was going very badly.  There were multiple horse and rider falls.  Buck Davidson lost a front tooth when his horse fell in the water.  Michael Pollard's horse randomly broke her leg galloping on course.  I send out my thoughts to the rider and owners of that special horse.
I made my way down to XC.  Bug warmed up great.  I was seeing my distances and feeling good about going.  Out of the box we went!  He jumped the first two perfectly and in sync.  He came down a large hill and got up a bunch of steam.  In hindsight, I probably didn't have him quite enough in hand as we went up the next steep hill to the panda bear at the top.  Bug was a bit strong and started to take off, then peeked over the side and thought, oh wait, that's not what I thought it was.  He hung his right front leg, but his hind end had already pushed off.  He had to twist fiercely to get over the fence and not fall.  This ticked me off of the side, but I wrapped my arms around his neck and hung on all of the way down the hill.  I was determined not to fall at the two star!  Unfortunately, there was no way for me to pull back on, and I had to drop to my feet and hit my butt.  
Wow, talk about a bummer!  Falling off at the third fence of your first CIC**.  Nice.  I have a lot of bruising on my arms from trying to hang on, a lot of sore muscles...but my pride has the biggest bruise of all.  After I walked my xc, and I would talk about the fences that worried me, I kept getting, "Ooooh, don't worry!  You're on Bug!"  I kept saying, "I don't want to take anything for granted."  It just goes to show that unluckiness doesn't play favorites!
I thank God that it wasn't worse.  Bug had a bit of swelling and soreness in his right stifle, but he seems to be almost 100% today.  Luckily, we have a Plan B, and we'll be heading to the CIC** at Fairhill the end of April.  
Our next outing will be at The Fork next week.  
This weekend, I'm heading to my alma mater, Wilson College, to teach an eventing clinic on Saturday and Sunday.  I'm really excited about that!  I hope to get to see a lot of my college friends.
Thanks for reading!  Keep your eye on the next jump!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Counting my four legged blessings...

I must start by saying that I am TRULY BLESSED.  I have two of the coolest horses on the planet!  If I didn't know it before (which I'm pretty sure that I did), I definitely know it after my weekend at Full Gallop Farm.  

I went down Friday to Aiken to have jump lessons with Kim.  Renn was having a hormonal day and was pretty wild.  However, I did the best that I could, and once we had a good moment or two, we quit while we were ahead.  I was praying that he would calm down for the show!  He's normally very well behaved, but you springtime can do crazy things to the boy's hormones!  

Bug's jump lesson was much better.  Kim really has me working on knowing where I am on the course at all times. She also has me riding more forward in my show jumping, as it helps to keep Bug from adding a chip in front of the fence and jumping way up over it and landing steeply.  He's so athletic, that I can place him under the jump, and he'll still jump up over it, but it's so hard on his legs.  I've been trying really hard to tune my eye in and tune myself into the rhythm of the forward that he needs.  It was quite a good lesson, and I was very happy with him.

Bug was entered in the Intermediate, and Renn was entered to do his very first recognized Training.  My student and friend, Naomi van Yperen, volunteered to tag along to groom for me, as this was my first event of the season running both horses and coaching a student, and I wasn't sure how it was going to work.  Thank God she decided to come!  Even though there seemed to be a lot of down time, my boys' times seemed to be really close together.  

Bug's weekend was a great one.  After walking the XC with Kim, I was mostly concerned about two combinations on course.  The first was a cabin- 2 strides, down large bounce banks-3 strides to a large corner.  In order to get to the corner, you either had to take a direct 3 but jump the corner at an angle with a great chance of a runout, or you could take it on a bit of a bending line and jump the corner squarely.  However, you would have to be quick to make the turn.  The other option, due to the way it was numbered, was to circle out after the bank and come back to the corner.  My plan was Plan B, to take a bending 3 to the corner.  The second combination that worried me a bit was a sunken road.  You jumped in over a rolltop drop, 3 strides across the bottom and up to bounce out over a wedge.  All of this was set up at a slight left to right angle.  

Finally, Bug was very quiet for his dressage!  I was so amazed that I forgot to really push him for brilliance in the test.  I just sort of rode around the pattern.  Oh, and lest I forget, I definitely halted in the wrong spot, earning me a -2 for an error.  :(  We ended up with a 42.3, which was not what I was hoping for.  I plan to really buckle down before Poplar and get this dressage thing together!  We were sitting about 18th or so out of 22 after dressage.  Disappointing.  

The show jumping was by Marc Donovan, and as usual, it was a great course with a lot of questions.  The show jumping at FGF is on terrain, so that always adds for some extra excitement!  I had walked the course with Kim, and I knew all of my striding.  Bug and I went in there, and we had yet another great show jumping round.  I feel like we are really starting to get it together.  He is getting a lot more rideable instead of just overjumping everything by 3' and shooting me out of the tack! :)  We moved up to be tied for 12th with our double clear round.

Cross country day was filled with nausea and apprehension.  haha  I BELIEVE in my horse 100%....but not always so much in myself.  My goal was to jump around clean and be within 20 seconds of the time.  I'm still learning how to go Intermediate speed and still take the jumps without riding too slowly.  With the CIC** at Poplar looming on the horizon, I knew that I really needed to try to get it done.  

Bug was a superstar!  He answered all of the questions with ease.  He did the step combination like a pro!  I later found out that I was one of very few to make it through the combination, and I was one of even fewer to do it without circling.  He made it feel so easy!  He tackled every challenge with style and athleticism.  Also, we ended up just 20 seconds over the time, which is exactly what I was shooting for!  It's tough to make the time at FGF due to the twists and turns and hills, so I'm very happy with that.  We ended up 6th out of 22!!

Here are the links to Bug show jumping and the steps combination on XC:

Renn's weekend was pretty exciting as well.  I walked the Training XC the first day that I was there, and I was definitely rethinking FGF as a move-up!  It was a TOUGH course.  The questions were very tough and seemed more like a mini Prelim.  After walking his XC, I was thinking I might be more nervous to go Training than Intermediate! haha  He had a full coffin on a bend that was hidden in the woods, a water to water jump, a house to a set of 2 stride down steps to a double chevron, a drop into the water then up a mound and over a rolltop, and another down bank combination. 

Renn was very good for his trotwork in his dressage test.  He was pretty wild for the cantering, thus giving us a 46.8.  This put us second to last in his division of 20.  He went on to jump around the Training XC like a superstar!  Yes, he was very green, and there was some bobbing and weaving, but he jumped around clear and only 1 second over time.  His clear round moved us all of the way up to 8th!  There were so many stops and eliminations.  I was THRILLED that my baby stallion got around and with confidence!  He grew up as we went around the course.  Unfortunately, he is still very green in the combinations in show jumping, thus causing us to have 3 rails on Sunday.  However, we ended up 10th out of 20, and I am so pleased with him.  I told him that after that Training XC, they would all seem like cake from here.  

Check out his videos of SJ and the second water of XC:
I am so happy with my boys.  I have two horses that I believe are going to make top notch upper level horses, and, hopefully, international stars. :)  I must thank everyone out there who has helped me on my journey.  I've been working my entire life for this.  I've never had the big bucks to just do it.  I've had to make my horses and take things one step at a time.  I'm just hoping that the road will keep going for me!  I would love to make the Developing Riders List, as I think that is a pretty cool accomplishment.  

I am seeking out sponsorships of all kinds at this point.  It is very difficult to make it all happen when you own your horses yourself.  If anyone has any ideas of places to send my proposals, or advice, etc, please let me know!!

Our next stop is Poplar Place Farm in Hamilton, GA the weekend after this one!  Bug is doing the CIC** and Renn will be doing Training again.  Say big prayers and wish us luck!  

Thanks for reading and keep kicking on!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Learning lessons and moving on.

Wow, once again I have failed at keeping up with the blog.  I hope I can remember everything!

Back in mid-February, I took both of the boys to the Frostbite Series at Why Not An American Ark.  Bug did 3 Prelim dressage tests back to back to try to get him to behave better in the arena.  He LOVES to warm up really well and then go into the arena and be wild.  He went from a 43 in the first test to a 35 in the last test.  He also competed in the Prelim Horse Trials.  He had two double clear jumping rounds.  I was thrilled with him.  This day was all about kicking off the rust again, and I felt like we did a great job! 
Bug doing his dressage test at The Ark

Renn was competing in the Training Horse Trial.  This was his first time out since November, so I was sure there would be some major rust.  He surprised me, though.  He was very very well behaved.  His dressage test had some issues, but on the whole, I felt it was a lot better than we were given credit.  I think he got a 38, but the test felt more like a 34 or 35.  Oh well.  He went on to jump a very green but double clear show jumping round.  There were dogs penned at one end of the arena, and they were barking wildy.  Renn found that to be very scary!   However, he kept it together, and we got it done.  He went on to jump a very big boy XC round with just a few time penalties.  Once again, I was THRILLED.  My boys were great, and I felt like I had knocked the rust off.  
Renn show jumping at The Ark

Two weeks after The Ark, I packed Bug up, and we headed to Thomson, GA for the Pine Top Advanced Horse Trials weekend.  This was to be our first Intermediate of the season, and I was very excited.  I wanted to have a good weekend, where I felt like I rode my best, and we got around safely.  I walked the XC with Kim, and I felt like it was a nice, straight forward course.  Yes, it was Intermediate, and I still had to be "on," but it wasn't trappy or scary.  

Bug warmed up like a pro for his dressage.  I was sure he was finally going to behave.  Alas, I was wrong.  He was a wild man.  I have to figure out how to be able to have the conversation with him in the arena and keep riding him forward.  We ended up with a 43.2, which should not be happening.  I was frustrated yet again.  Due to the close timing, I had to bring him straight back and tack up for show jumping.  

The course was a tough one, and I knew that I had to keep riding forward to make all of the striding.  Bug was a superstar.  I felt like it was the best round of our lives.  We were together, forward, and hit every stride perfectly.  He jumped around a lovely double clear round.  This moved us up to like 10th out of 22.  I was thrilled.

For XC, I knew that Bug was going to be a bit wild, as he LOVES his job.  He started out the course quite well and listening, but he got a bit fresh in the middle of the course.  He was leaving some strides out, and I was letting it get to me.  Unfortunately, this cost us a lot of time, as I got discombobulated after launching a big table and went down the wrong path in the woods.  I had to turn around and go back.  :(  After that mishap, he really started listening a lot better.   He was great for all of the combinations, but he just thinks that he can launch the gallop fences sometimes.  However, I think we were on the same page by the last half of the course.  We ended up with 22 time penalties which dropped us way down the rankings.  Unfortunately, he had been pretty close to his minute markers, and would have been in the top 8 had we had just a handful of time.  
Bug jumping into the water at Pine Top

I have tried not to kick myself too much over the loss of direction, but I'm competitive, and it's hard not to do.  

Our next stop is the March Full Gallop Farm Horse Trials this weekend in Aiken, SC.   Bug will be doing Intermediate again, and Renn will be doing his first recognized Training!  

In other news, my student, Catherine Schumack, and her horse, Mr. Secretagentman, won the Novice combined test at Hillcrest Farm the end of February.  I'm very proud of the hard work she's done with him.  They will also be going to Full Gallop to compete in the Novice division.

That's all for now!  I'll check back in after Full Gallop. :)  Keep kicking on!