Horse Show Pre-game

*Disclosure: I used my phone for this entry… Sorry*

So we all know about horse show hangover… but what do you guys do when it comes to the pregame. Do you work weekends like me where you cram everything into the trailer the night before and pray you don’t forget anything? Or do you have a list you check twice… maybe three times… And spend all day prepping. Or are you the one who waits until that morning with the thought, “Nothing can go wrong this time, right?”

If you are the latter… I pray for you.

I’d love to say I’m the one who has a list written out with cute little check mark boxes beside each item… but I’m not. Mental check list? Check! I think my biggest problem is that I’ve been in the mode to be ready for a friend to pick me up that I have a system first thing in the morning. Now that I can trailer myself… I always tend to forget something. Go figure! I’ll be late anyway.

What about riding habits? Do you try to cram in one last practice for that dressage test? Go gallop a cross-country course? Or head out for a leisurely trail ride to clear your mind of pre-competition jitters…

I’m definitely a galloping trail ride to rid my mind of everything kind of pre-gamer as we all know.

Apparently that wasn’t Brantley’s plan today… The itch factor screams bee sting…

Cue panic… Just kidding. This doesn’t ruffle my feathers one bit. He’s not painful or bleeding so we’ll be fine. Just going to miss out on the pre-game gallop… dammit.

Lucky for me, I only have some night feeds tonight (yes I’m still working this weekend) so going out for a hike was definitely the next best thing after a refreshing bath… for both of us.

I’ll head out to grab the trailer when we get back and then do my feedings then pick up pizza and beer for my tack cleaning ritual (that’s what pre-gaming is all about!). Then home to pack my coat bag and make sure my breeches are clean and sparkling white!

Spoiler… they won’t be.

Advertisements

No Media

I’ve been waiting to write this because there was a rumor that someone was taking pictures in the cross-country course but alas… it’s Thursday and with all my stalking, not even a glimmer of hope. Damn it all. So Sunday was a pretty great day minus being late even though I drove myself. Apparently that’s just the way it is.

I got there in enough time to check in, tack up, and what do you know… they were running early so I walked right into my dressage test. Dear lord my horse is a saint. He nodded to the judges as I said hello and we trotted around the arena until the bell rang. We were pretty straight on our entry and I felt confident in his ability to move forward… just don’t touch his face. First trot circle was pretty good but of course he knew what was next. He fell in and out of the canter on our circle… derp. Then of course cantering was the only thing on his brain. But of course we made it through and landed in 7th… out of 8. Just have to get through stadium now B.

Changed up my tack and we strut out stuff to the warm up arena and he was on fire! Cross-rail, vertical, over, and we’re ready to rock. Or so we thought. What a dick, that’s all I can say. We were up and ready to take the first jump and the bell rang so off we went… refusal… I booted him and he popped over it without an issue and cantered with vigor to the next fence. Oxer… with a flower box that only took up the center of the fence… something we practiced and he nailed… but also the thing he hates the most. Refusal… aaannndddd refusal… and a few more refusals just to school on how to refuse because apparently that’s a new thing (refusing more than once).

The judge asked if we’d like a trainer to come in and help and I replied no… I think I’m going to call it. Luckily it was a schooling show and I had the option to move onto cross-country. Of course I said yes, why the hell not? We’ll find out how that goes.

They changed the course so that you actually exited from the other side of the arena which honestly… I think that’s one of the reasons he gave the stadium course the finger. “Mom, all the horses are going out there… I know what’s out there. Let’s skip this bullshit.” Well played horse. Well played.

You actually had to drop down a slight bank they built into the start box which unlike a majority of the horses in our division, he was all about. His ears perked up as he hopped down and looked for the next jump. Sorry B, we need a countdown. And we got it and as I collected my reins, his ears flipped forward and we were off for an amazing, crazy round of cross-country. He was locked on and soft to my hands and responsive to my seat. More so than he ever had been before. I was actually able to just downshift with a butt-squeeze. Like what?

We obviously didn’t pin but I had a feeling that we weren’t going to get through stadium… we both hate it there. Groton House on the other hand… bring it bitch.

image

Ready to Roll

Brantley and I have been up and running like we never missed a beat. Totally ready to rock this weekend. Last week we had a lesson with a local dressage trainer and it went really well. She really pointed some things out and drove the “inside to outside” concept. Something I pay attention all too much to is where his head and neck are and I let go of where his shoulders are so we end up cutting corners and he’ll happily drop his rib cage when he can. Well… no more of that crap! And actually since we’ve been working on that, he’s been much more softer in the bridle and more polite when I put a leg on. Now to work on our transitions a little more.

Where’s the coop ma?

Of course transitions aren’t very important when you’re galloping about an open field looking for imaginary cross-country jumps. Something happened over the last couple weeks… it’s like I just… woke up and has this new look at life that I matter. So? Why not call up the photographer BFF to meet you out on the trails for a mini gallop session.

Yeeeah buddy!

I think Brantley was liking it a little too much but man could he move. The perfect way to start a week and get back into a routine…

That tail 😍😍😍

But I think my favorite picture of all…

All four off the floor huh?

The post office has been busy sending me stuff… you become a shopaholic when you’re going through a depression while finding something to live for apparently. So I finally bit the bullet and clicked pay with PayPal on the Eponia site… I am not mad about it either.

Boy does he look handsome! We jumped for the first time in about a month yesterday. Why I waited so long, I have no idea. I couldn’t tell if Brantley missed it or not. He galloped cantered around my crap course like it was the last course he’d ever fly through. I think I held more rein than mane to be honest and some of the things coming out of my mouth would not be okay anywhere but the cross-country course. He didn’t shy away from anything, not even my bending line of death which involved a three stride off a cross-rail through a two stride short combination… You’d have to see it.

I’m just happy to see him smiling for pictures again. I’m such a lucky girl… and a little bit crazy too.

Excerpt #1

There was something about his eye that caught me. His body said brave and bold, but his eye was filled with worry and suspicion. “It’s okay boy.” I held out my hand like I was trying to give an offering of some sort that I didn’t have, lead rope tucked behind my back. He looked interested but of course I snapped a stick as I took a step forward and he shied away.

What did he want? What could I offer him? It’s not like I could’ve sat down and said, “Hey look buddy, if you come with me, whatever happened back then will never happen again” and expect him to understand my words. It was only my actions that were going to matter. He stopped and pawed the ground as I stepped back, like something out of a movie.

“I don’t know what you’re saying. I don’t know what you want.” That undeniable thought, What the hell are you doing? You have no business or skill set to deal with this… followed by that pull I was in the right place and doing the right thing.

Who knew that after this moment, as he finally walked up to me and I clipped the lead onto his halter… This was the first day of the rest of my life.

Hello Blog-land

This is my third round trying to write this entry. I really have no way to start or idea about what to write about because we haven’t really been doing much. I gave Brantley a week off after the hunter pace which may have not been the best idea but, we both needed it.

20882940_10102664185338164_5898432204590193829_n

We placed third and it was an amazing ride. We clocked in at 27mph at one point and he totally had more to give. We’ve got a dressage lesson scheduled for Tuesday and then hopefully another one of those and a couple of jump lessons before our next trial. Azrael Acres again for another foreplay and then the Groton House Fall Classic for this years finale.

20708051_10102651662663704_8626061113242573699_n

I know there are a few more going into the fall after the Classic but honestly, B has been totally busting his but for me this year and he’s been more than anything I could’ve dreamed of and he deserves a break. Rest of the year will but hunter paces and trail rides and maybe some trick training over the winter (which is something I say I’ll do every year).

21192285_10102682674021694_3239831286108575370_n

I’m ready for some blog hops so that I have more material to write about other. I’m having a bit of writer’s block… I’m actually starting to think of starting a little fictional blog series that pops up on here to keep it a little interesting. If only I could draw to go with it. I’ll have to settle with Clip-Art.

 

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…