It’s August

Surprisingly I’m surviving August pretty well… where every day in August is a Thursday. I got through week one okay but couldn’t wait until the horse trial at Orchard Hill. I focused on giving Brantley enough arena time and trail time to get set. We had a really great gallop session and then worked on softening and his responsiveness to my leg and seat. Then we went through our jump school on Friday where I set up a short combination and another vertical. I also encorporated it into a bending line/figure-8 in and out of the arena into the mini cross country course we have.

Let me tell you. Brantley felt amazing. We cantered everything. I was so impressed and he was so willing, I knew Sunday was going to be amazing. He got a bath Saturday night but I skipped the tack cleaning because… sometimes you just have to be lazy. Everything was washed, packed, and ready to go. Just had to get through work the next morning.

Brantley looked ready to roll! Unfortunately… the morning didn’t go as planned and we rolled into the venue 15 minutes before my dressage time… Not really the way I had planned to start the show day but shit happens and we survived. I felt horrible about rushing Brantley like that and he was an absolute mess, but held himself together for me with only mini tantrums here and there. He jumped everything but we missed our short combination in stadium and just couldn’t sync up.

We did have a few glorious moments (Photo credit to E. Schultz!)… but the guilt ate away at me all day so I was pretty miserable. We got through cross country with one refusal… well… there was an incident at the first log where B decided to stop at the base and take a giant dump… but then willingly popped right over it so the judge gave it to us.

We nailed his favorite jump though! I don’t know what it is about this log but B was all, “Lions, and Tigers, and bears! Fuck yeah!” And then didn’t have an issue with the water this time but a refusal at the stone wall he so willingly hit last time without a blink. 

We pinned so in most eyes, why the disappointment? And I don’t want anyone to think I was disappointed in Brantley at all because he did as well as he could for me under the circumstances. No warm up. No time to settle. No chance to follow our routine… I was disappointed in myself for not having him prepared enough for a situation like this and I rushed him. One thing I hate doing with B-man… and he didn’t deserve it. What sucks was that though whole thing was out of my control. Luckily, it gave me the push to say fuck it, I’m not waiting any longer and I ordered the wiring to redo my truck so I can haul again and not have to wait for a ride.

I went home after getting him settled and cried to these two… the offered me lots of cookies and even some ice cream which I was super thankful for ♡ Love them.

I decided we would do two more trials and then call it for the year. Azrael Acres and then one more shot at Groton House with our new found confidence. I just want to give him a couple more really good experiences before he decides to resent it. It was just so disheartening… especially when he kicked out at a innocent bystander while refusing to go into the warm up ring for stadium… so not like him. Speaking of that, I was pretty impressed with myself when you have time to jump 2-3 jumps in warm up and learn the course by watching the girl who happens to be the rider before you. Know your course, trust your horse!

Poor B…

We’re taking it slow the next few weeks. We have a hunter pace on the 20th and then the next trial isn’t until the 17th so we’ve got time to regroup and hit it right this time.

I got to enjoy some adult time last night with Deb last night in Newport. It was nice to step outside the work world for a night and I was very thankful. Plus the drinks were amazing!

Guess I should head back off to work. A slow couple of weeks coming up, then the shit show begins again! Wish me luck!

Head & Shoulders

Not talking about dandruff here. More of a summer cold and some shoulder damage left over from a fall… not off my horse. Cody… the dick. 75% operator error but it was a crisp morning. Whoops! That was last Tuesday and unfortunately… over a week later… it still hurts. Rumor has it that it could be a slight separated shoulder. I promised a few friends that if it still hurts after Sunday, I’ll go in and get it checked out Monday. Fingers crossed it’s nothing but honestly, what are they going to do? Tell me to rest it and give me medications I can’t take?

No thanks!

Anyway! Luckily I felt good enough to ride this past Sunday and compete at Course Brook again. I had a busy work weekend but wasn’t worried until I got the email that they were switching the Beginner Novice and Advanced Elementary time slots. What does that mean? I had to take care of 10 horses, 3 dogs, and 2 cats at 4… 4? Maybe 5… different locations and have my horse ready and packed on the trailer by 730 for a 948 ride time… Let’s just say we were late, I trotted a figure-8, got called into the dressage ring to go on and have what I thought was my worst test yet. Surprisingly after watching the video though and getting my score of 36.6… it was my best (minus the halt).

See Course Brook Dressage Here

I wanted more forward and I got it. Time quickly passed and we were warming up for Stadium before you knew it. Cross-rail? No problem. Vertical and over? Brantley said he’d rather not. And he was a little more pokey than usual. Let the nerves come marching in! He finally went over everything beautifully a few times and I called it. Who knew we’d go on to have our best stadium round yet. Yes we trotted but he was forward and willing… minus one he had to take a second look at. We even nailed our short combination! Yay!

See Course Brook Stadium Here

We’ll canter everything again one day! All I asked for next was a steady and clear cross-country round which we did. Steady I mean. We had a refusal but judges hiding behind trees were a little more interesting than the jumps. Why were they “out of sight”? No idea. But I’m super proud of my boy ♡

wp-image--610893232

It was a great day full of friends too! Grasa came and competed in Elementary with Gypsy and placed 6th! So proud of them! Wendy, Kate, and Hannah came along to clear us on as well. Hannah was thee best little groom and such a great sport.

Brantley and I were also able to catch up with our friend Lucy too. I really miss her. Brantley didn’t even notice her galloping around the warm up ring! Finally we saw her while we were on deck for our cross-country run and I marched him up to her. You should’ve seen his reaction ♡

I’m really looking forward to Orchard Hill this weekend. Another day riding with friends old and new. But then I think we’re going to take a little eventing break. We have our last WGHA Hunter Pace on the 20th but otherwise I don’t think there’s much going on the rest of the month which is fine for us. We’ll wait for cooler days and try to go on more trail riding adventures, maybe go swimming too. Not only will it give me a financial break, it’ll give us both a good mental break to enjoy the rest of the summer. We really went 0 to 60… or 90 even. Last thing I want to do is burn him out!

Okay… The only reason you clicked the link. Kate’s super amazing photography skills at work!
PC: K. Taylor – Polar Square Designs
wp-image-776187510

wp-image--1085988004

wp-image-1510319151

wp-image--636572814

wp-image-1453740889

She is literally… the best…

Lessons!

Scanning through blogs and it looks like everyone is doing pretty well and I love it!

Brantley and I are still trying to stay consistent, or at least I am. You know he could absolutely care less than this point. What’s the best way to get back on track? LESSONS! We love learning. And we were finally able to take a lesson with JH from JH EVENTING! If you’re ever in Massachusetts looking to take a lesson or have a trainer out schooling with you on the cross-country course, call Jessica.

We started on the flat and Brantley was a bit wiggy and reluctant in the beginning. Probably due to the fact that last time we were in that arena we had a not-so-fun clinic experience and I got dumped… at a cross-rail. Deep. Any who! After we got moving it all of a sudden clicked what we were in for, especially after the first cross-rail. Brantley had his game face on after that.

We worked on straightness to the fences and after the fences since we have a tendency to cut our corners and find that short turn to the next fence… which never goes well. She had us doing a long combination to the arena fence line and halt, then follow up to the next fence which of course he refused in slow motion… Must keep pony between my legs! Funnel my reins! 

We got over that simple vertical and headed back across the diagnosis and popped over a flower box without a second look. After halting I pointed his nose to track right and headed around to throw next flower box. Boom! Perfect. We did that a few times and as the next lesson started to warm up she said, “Okay! I want you to do it again but after this last fence go down the quarter line and go over that.”

How did I know… And let me tell you. I was determined to get him up and over our first time. He had plenty of time to look at it and spook at it.
We did it…My little overachiever…

So I’d call that lesson a complete success and I’m feeling pretty good about this coming weekend’s horse trial. We had another lesson with EH a few days later for flatwork/dressage. I was hoping Brantley would be super soft and awesome like he has been… but he wasn’t. Super heavy on the forehand and focus on everything but me. We made it work and ended up having a pretty great lesson minus the fact how heavy my hands were. Just a bit disappointed in myself for that… things to work on! His focus was more to get him forward which is something oddly enough I’m having an issue with.

He’s become so good at getting under himself and relaxing in his poll and into the contact, but he stays so condensed almost like a spring. Then when I try to move him forward, everything tends to fall apart. So… forward forward forward it is. Let him find the contact and pick him up into it as his hind end comes under. We got this!

P.S. I really have to figure out WordPress before I give it up…

Brantley & Brantley Weekend

Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 1.32.41 PM

I’m running out of room for our numbers. I should probably check Pinterest before next weekend. Another trip to Course Brook with a more confident and badass head on both our shoulders.

Brantley luckily pulled himself together for my sake and was completely sound both riding days before our entries were due for yesterday’s horse trial at Orchard Hill Equestrian Center (which by the way is fucking b-e-a-uuutiful) and I was luckily able to sign up online so no Post Office B.S.

19989763_10102597646198134_3124082505626121838_n

Friday night was my annual Brantley Gilbert concert because… well… I have a problem but I only cried once! okay… maybe twice. But it wasn’t like an active cry… Just dramatic tears rolling down the cheeks kind of a thing. Yes I’m a fan girl but I’m okay with it. If you’ve been a follower you know what his music means and has helped me work through in the past (and probably present… and future).

Grasa and Morgan both came along for the trip and it was amazing. My horse world and non-horse world colliding together? Happily? Who would’ve thought. It was about a 4 hour drive up so obviously we were late but who wants to see the opening acts anyway! Per usual it was amazing and I was super giddy the whole time.We had originally planned to spend the night in New Hampshire but decided that it was still early enough that we’d get home by 2AM and that was fine… Until trying to get into Mass and finding all of the ramps to 95S were blocked off for construction… AAAALLLL OF THEEEMMM! We drove around for an extra hour. Plus add in a few stops and dropping M off, I got home maybe 3AM and I’m sure Gray got home 330AM. But it was worth waking up in our own beds… Or my mother’s floor. Same thing.

Saturday was a day to catch up on work and show prep. I didn’t end up riding but that was okay. I felt really good about what was to unfold Sunday… And I was right.

20156052_10102600513726584_6543054718814536248_n

Brantley had his total game face on and we pulled off a super dressage test, at least in our eyes. The score wasn’t my best but he was solid in his transitions (minus one) and was consistent in his pace and softness. I was totally happy with it and could’ve gone home, but of course, we have to do get through the fun stuff.

Click Here for Dressage Test Video

We hit the warm up ring and trotted around before hopping the cross-rail and little vertical. Of course Gray goes, “Are you going over the oxer?” Psh… Why not? So we did. Time for our stadium round ❤

Brantley was pretty much flawless for jump 1, 2, and 3A… But then came the short distance combination… He came out right before the oxer that was set for 3B. Dick. So we went around again… and again… and finally I was able to stop in between the jumps, line him up and hop the oxer from a walk almost. Then we continued on for a beautiful course. On our way out I dropped my reins and he tried to side pass over and take #1 again on the way out… Overachiever.

Click Here for Stadium Video

Unfortunately those refusals equaled and Elimination but luckily it’s a schooling show so we got to hit cross-country anyway. And boy did we hit it.

He was an absolute beast. A slow beast… But a beast anyway. He hit every jump and we even went up our first bank, over a bench, and through water. I can’t even deal. He was steady and listened down the hills and around the bends, locking in on everything. Both jumps he kind of gawked at were definitely my fault because I thought they would be scarier than they were of course. But he said, “No ma, I got this.” and took me through.

Click Here for XC GoPro Footage (because that’s the best)

(I apologize for the yelling…)

After we packed up and headed out I grabbed my dressage test and saw that although we didn’t score very well compared to others, we had been in 3rd place. A little disappointed that we had such an issue with the combination but only disappointed that I didn’t think of preparing for that, not in Brantley’s performance at all. He was everything I had hoped for and more. Course Brook on the 30th. Let’s kick some butt B!

Why…

19657056_10102568865320244_2507750319807305950_n

This is all I want to do lately.

I don’t know where my head is at or why I can’t seem to pick myself up lately. It’s not like anything has really gone completely wrong where it’s sent me spiraling down in the last couple of weeks. But I can’t say nothing has really gone right either. I mean, it’s the nature of the beast and yeah I should pop some pills to help my stability, but I’m just not ready for the step yet.

19748707_10102581368962844_3772536909570895145_n

At least things have gotten better and I’m getting through weeks versus a day or two.

19703018_10102582706721964_8514678049363833557_o

Unfortunately we’ve had a couple mysterious ailments and some lameness (and post office failure) so our last two adventures that I really looked forward to didn’t work out. My brain started to shut down and processing things became difficult because I started to feel a sense of loss and …purpose. That’s probably not the right word but its the only one I can think of right now.

Fortunately I was able to attend the hunter pace yesterday because a friend let me borrow her lesson horse and we had a blast. But of course I was still sad that it wasn’t Brantley. It’s hard to explain what the difference between being upset and feeling sad is, but I was just sad he couldn’t be there. And of course because of my mental state lately, it’s “sadder” than just sad. I don’t know, you either get it or you don’t.

I’m trying to stay up.

At least I’m still here.

Slacking

*Last week’s post* …Whoops…

You’d think that with all this downtime from work I’d be more on a schedule for blogging but apparently not. It’s not like I’m doing anything extraordinary at night to make up for it like going to the gym. Just vegging in front of the TV like a pro! Maybe eating a jar of queso too…

This past weekend was the Extreme Mustang Makeover in Springfield, MA and I’m happy to report that my really good friend Grasa was not only named Rookie of the Year, but also Reserve Champion for the overall competition atop her mighty steed Xena ♡ They were incredible and I cried like an absolute baby… as well as the rest of the crew we were with.

Wild to mild in 100 days ♡

Pretty damn cool right?

On Sunday, Brantley and I competed at the Groton House Summer Classic. It was considered a schooling show but probable the biggest venue I’ve been to in my life. Lots of stuff going on and they’re Elementary was considered 2’3 but luckily, height is not an issue. It’s just consistency and focus… Which Brantley did not have.

I really have no complaints. He was super quiet and level headed. Just strong and distracted which is totally understandable. He had a great warm-up before dressage and even gave me a couple of flying changes which is our new trick. Second half of our test was pretty good but he was still and a little dead to my leg. Oh well. He had his eyes on the cross-country course already.

The 2 hours before stadium went by really fast seeing as walking the XC took about an hour. It was huge and definitely not just cute little logs. We had a little table type jump and a red house… things we’ve never seen. I said, as long as we get over the first jump we’ll be good (which was an easy log).

We took a couple warm-up jumps and he was ready to go. The course was a little heavy than what we’ve been doing. Especially because all I have are poles at home. We faced planks and two oxers which we’ve never done. I rode a little stronger and shortened my stirrups knowing if he was going over, he’d jump big… Which he did. But after the first refusal, I knew he was tired. He wasn’t locking on to the jumps like he normally does and was VERY distracted to everything outside the arena. But once faced at the jump again he hopped over without a second thought.

After that I was a little worried about XC but he headed to the first log like normal and then his ears were twitching this way and that. I thought I caught him in time to lock on and he bailed on him at the last second… I turned him around and he hopped over it and cantered up the hill but he was still not into it. We came up to the next log and he kept looking around and locked in at the last second luckily and went over. Then the table. I circled around the get straight and pushed him forward, and he bailed. I turned and let him look at it knowing, “Well, I’m already eliminated…” I let him turn around again and he jumped right over it. It seemed the second time around once he knew what he was supposed to do, he didn’t have an issue. After the red house they pulled us up and had us leave the course which sucked because I just wanted to get over the last few jumps… there was no one behind me. Oh well… It was 90% humidity and I only was able to ride maybe 5 times beforehand and it was a hell of an experience. I think we’ll head back for the Fall Classic and really kick some ass.

Wordless Wednesday

Literally Wordless. I’ve been trying to comment on everyone’s blogs and send my love and happy thoughts but apparently… they’re not good enough…

Or better yet the internet is trying to tell me that my comments are super annoying and non-supportive. Although I am loving WordPress in some ways… it has made a few things difficult but I’m sure they’ll work themselves out. So back to the point… I’m reading. I’m hoping. I’m sending happy thoughts to all ♡ Sorry I just can’t verbalize it on your post.

Not so awesome ride last night but I’m 100% to blame. So here are some pictures I purchased of our last horse trial at Course Brook. I would’ve purchased more but when you’ve been spoiled by awesome photographer friends… you can’t budget paying  $10 per Lo-Res download more than twice…