Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bigger and Better Things!

Bug showing off at Pine Top.  Advanced isn't big enough. :)

Life has been a whirlwind since I last posted.  My clinic in PA at Lemaliza Farm went really well.  I go up there monthly to pick up my feed and teach.  I have a lot of regulars, and I love seeing them improve from month to month.  I have been going up there for about a year now, and the changes in everyone is amazing.  I'm so pleased with all of my Northerners. :)
I came home that Sunday night after teaching, and with the help of my amazing working student, Alice, and my amazing husband, we unloaded over 2 tons of feed in the dark.  Alice had been working on packing everything for my big trip South, so there wasn't much left to do.
Monday morning at 5 am, Bug and I pulled out on our way to Ocala, FL.  It was my first time driving to Florida, and it was Bug's first time in the Sunshine State.  I was pretty stoked for the ICP Symposium, and I was hoping to get there before the great Yogi Breisner had finished for the day.  Lucky for me, I arrived just in time to get Bug settled in and to watch the last session with Yogi.  There is a reason that man is one of the best coaches in the world!  Wow.
The next morning, I spent hours watching the great Linda Zang in the dressage portion of the Symposium.  Again, there is a reason she is one of the best.  I absorbed a lot, and I was anxious to put it into practice.  Dressage is my weakest phase, but I am DETERMINED to get it right.
That afternoon was the big ride with David O'Connor.  Bonnie was down for the Symposium, so I was happy she would be there to watch and absorb what went on with me.  David was great.  He immediately changed the way I was galloping, my body in the air, and my approach to fly fences, and it made a HUGE difference.  I need to work on my discipline about where I'm taking off and landing and now allowing for a drift.  I was quite pleased with how much I was attacking each combination and finding the distances with my leg rather than my hand.  David did compliment me on my technique, which made me very happy.  Everything he told me was absorbed, and I did get to put a lot of it into use at Pine Top.  Here is my EN write up of the whole thing:
The following morning, I got up bright and early for a 7:30 am private dressage lesson with the great Linda Zang.  Our dressage is our weakest phase, but it's not for Bug's lack of fancy.  I tend to let him get on the forehand and rushing, instead of pushing him uphill and showing off his gaits.  Linda was super nice and very efficient.  We mostly worked on the canter, as he warms up best in that gait, and I really needed to understand how to get his flying changes cleaner.  She adjusted my position a lot and really had me riding him  more forward and up in front of me.  He felt amazing!  I wish we had more time, but alas, we were off to the next thing.  After Florida, Bug and I traveled back up to Aiken to Jodi Hemry Eventing, where we would stay throughout the course of Pine Top.
Bonnie came down to coach me for Pine Top, and I am so glad that she did.  She has been such an amazing help to me.  Not only is she teaching me how to ride, but she's teaching me to analyze things and really understand the game.
Of course, it decided to rain buckets for Pine Top, but in true eventer form, we were all out there competing anyway.  Our dressage test was so much better!  There are still a lot of things to work on, but I was really happy with our progress.  We got a 44 in our test two weeks before and a 38.8 at Pine Top.  He was much more uphill and forward.  I just needed more angle in my lateral work at times, and I really need to figure out the trotwork.  He even got two 8's!
Cross country was a good course with a lot of big galloping fences and some very good technical questions. I was prepared to use my new galloping position, and I set off.  Bug felt AMAZING.  The new position had him jumping even better (as if that even seemed possible!) than before.  I only had one table where I felt that I allowed him to drift at all in the air. (which is my bad habit)  My biggest problem was not really being forward enough at some of the combinations.  I loose time when I don't attack.  I had some amazing rides through some things, and some rides that I would like to do over.  Bug does whatever I tell him to do, so it's my job to tell him!  I was still pleased with our first Adv XC of the year, but I know what I need to do to fix things.  We came in clean with about 40+/- seconds in time.
The footing for SJ on the second day was a bit slippery, but Bug seemed to handle it fine.  The course was really eating people up if you didn't stay going forward, so I was ready to attack where I hadn't the day before.  Bug and I put in probably our best round to date.  I felt like I really attacked everything and hit all of my distances really well.  We did have an unlucky rail at the third fence, which is really out of character for him.  I asked Bonnie if I should have done something differently, and she said no.  He just wasn't quite impressed enough and BARELY touched the pole.  With the flat cups, it just didn't stay.  However, she told me that she was super happy with how I rode SJ, and I needed to remember that on my next XC.  Of course, after he touched that rail, he was jumping extra big after that.  haha  Typical Bug.
We ended up finishing in 9th place, which is pretty darn respectable, I think.  (would have been 6th without that silly rail!)
I am going to keep working hard and doing what I need to do to keep improving.  I'm on a diet and exercise program to get myself in fighting condition again.  My plan is Fit and Feisty for 2013! :)
Bug got a nice few days off when we got home.  It was a long, stressful week for us both.  He had a nice 50 min trot today, and he's feeling happy and healthy.
Our next stop will be the Advanced/Intermediate at Full Gallop  next weekend.  I'm looking to improve on the dressage and really attack in the SJ and XC.  Southern Pines II is just around the corner!  Cole will also be going along to Full Gallop to run the Beginner Novice again. We have a schooling show this weekend, so that should be fun too!

Also, I have just started taking orders for the 2013 Spring Fundraiser for Bug's show season.  Our ultimate goal is the CCI*** at Jersey Fresh.  It's expensive trying to fund my own upper level horse, so since the shirts were such a hit last year, we are doing shirts and bumper stickers this year!  You can order on my website!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bringing it home!

February 6th was a one day horse trial at Full Gallop Farm.  Trying to make things work for a midweek event can be a bit difficult, but it fit into my schedule best.  I went down to Aiken with Bug to run the Advanced/Intermediate and Cole to run his very first BN.  Also, my working student, Alice VanBokkelen, tagged along to do BN with her new horse, Classic Skyline.

The weather was quite lovely, so I was pretty excited to get going.  Bug was pretty frisky in his early morning dressage test.  I can get him so lovely at home, but I haven't quite mastered the correct warmup and then test riding skills that I need.  We are getting there slowly, but I would prefer if my brain would kick into gear in the dressage!

The show jumping for Bug was quite big and a very windy course with a lot of verticals on a downhill approach.  Of course, Bug rocked around it with ease.  We still have some work to do with staying together, but in all, I was happy with it.   It was our first Advanced height SJ course that we didn't have any time penalties.

The XC was a pretty decent Intermediate for this time in the season, but after walking it, I was sure Bug was ready to tackle it.  He was clear with some time, but he was being extra careful, and I wasn't always riding to quite the right balance, so we had time in front of the fences.  I wasn't thrilled with how I rode, but I was happy with Bug for answering all of the questions well.

We ended up winning our division and bringing home a lovely blue ribbon!  I am thrilled with that, but I am working hard to improve, improve, improve.

Cole was quite good for his dressage, though a bit tense.  He was a very good boy about going into the arena.  As he was a dressage horse, I was hoping that he would behave himself, and he did.  The jumping phases proved to be a bit of an exciting time with him, though.  He was pretty riled up in the warmup, and I ended up getting bucked off, much to my surprise.  haha  It wasn't really a bad buck, but I wasn't expecting it.  I got to fly through the air in front of everyone.  I got up, wiped the sand off, took my now inflated air vest off and tried again with a smile.

He actually went on to jump great in the warmup, but he was very looky in the ring.  I am surprised that he didn't have any rails, as he was backing up to things and jumping from nothing.  Luckily,  he has a lot of jumping ability.  He went on to jump around cross country with a lot of peeks and looks, but he really grew up as he went around.  I am quite pleased with him.  He will run another BN in March.

I have also been teaching a lot of clinics lately, which has been GREAT FUN.  I really enjoy helping people and seeing the results.  I taught a clinic in Franklin, VA hosted by Dark Horse Eventing owned by Kate Mason, and I also taught a clinic in Preston, MD hosted by Close Up Show Stables owned by Julia Jesu.  I think both clinics were a success, and I am excited to be teaching more.

This weekend I am off to PA to teach another clinic.  I will be coming home Sunday and turning around to leave bright and early for Ocala and the ICP Symposium.  The end of next week brings Bug's first Advanced of the season at Pine Top, and I am really excited!

Until later.....kick on!