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 ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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 โ™ก 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 โ™ก

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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 โ™ก

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
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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

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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.

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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.

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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 โค

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!