Horse Life

OH MER GER

So I’m not dead, and I have been following along with y’all’s blogs, but typing one-handed sucks so much, commenting has been non-existent. I’ve been that silent stalker that brings your page views up, but clicks off without a trace.

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Things are healing and I ditched the sling pretty quickly.

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It’s literally covered in chocolate from this box of chocolate covered strawberries. Worth it.

And the bandages were taken off last Thursday, where my dr said we’d talk about riding in FOUR MORE WEEKS. I fired him. Sort of. Ok, I didn’t.  Then yesterday a kid I tutor told me my arm looks like a “zombie arm,” so that was helpful.

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I started occupational therapy last Friday and the OT read me the notes my doctor put in. He legit warned her via my medical chart that I’d try to persuade her to sign off on me riding. Har har, Doc. Har har.

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Me: P, aren’t you dying for me to ride you? P: No, let’s just cuddle

Leo has been bopping along in Florida, doing event horse things, such as HIS FIRST CORNER last week. Of course, no media exists of said event. Wish professionals were as media-obsessed as amateurs. Srsly.

And I haven’t really even been out to the barn (gasp), as much, choosing instead to spend evenings at Crossfit so that I can retain some semblance of fitness when I’m authorized to clambor back aboard.

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Can you tell which kid is actually comfy with horses and which one would prefer to be 50 feet away?

AND we’re considering moving to the other side of town to be closer to all the things we do (such as the barn), so readying our house that we’ve lived in for 5 years + has endured 2 growing boys has been no minor feat.

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A rare Husband sighting on a day off from work and/or home improvement things

I swore when we bought this house, I’d never move again. But that was before I was boarding where I am now, which is paradise-on-earth. The area we’re looking at has my barn commute time between 5-8 minutes, so bring on the home repairs! For Husband, that is. Obvi.

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I will do my best to start commenting more on everyone’s adventures- keep ’em coming so I can live vicariously through you all for the next, um, FOREVER #Desperation

Horse Life

2019 in Pictures

This is going to be text-lite b/c I’m one handed. Thank goodness for touch screen computers.

2019 was, uh, interesting!

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January saw P being turned out for the first time since injuring his suspensory in August. Serious day drinking occurred that day.
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And in February he went right back in the stall, thanks to his creation of the Foot Hole
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In March I was so desperate for real riding, I took a horse I’d ridden a grand total of 90 minutes to a horse show (where I *finally* met Emma!), then took him home. C really helped restore my confidence in jumping, even taking me over some Training jumps, and ultimately planted the seed to get a 2nd horse.
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In April we celebrated P’s 9th birthday and our 5 year anniversary

 

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In May we added Leo to the fam

 

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In June, despite battling the Eye Ulcer From Hell, P won our millionth contest
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July saw Leo becoming more and more dreamy with each ride
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August was Leo’s first XC school and he was perfect
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September, the Tiniest Dictator & I rode our trusty steeds together
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In October, Trainer B took Leo to his first ever horse trial
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And in November, I stole the ride back at the last second and Leo & I kicked some booty in Leo’s 2nd HT at Virginia International
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And closing out December on NYE (shhh, no one tell my surgeon) with a short stroll on the one creature who’s the reason I both drink AND smile as much as I do

Happy New Year!

Horse Life

Equestrian Blogger Gift Exchange

So this was my first year participating (because I never had my life together enough to get in on time) and it sure didn’t disappoint! I was lucky enough to have my Secret Santa be Sarah from Three Chestnuts and she sent some amazing goodies!

Turquoise, whitening shampoo, P’s fave treats AND a floofy wash thing-a-majigger? ER MER GERD

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Someone knows the stuff I like 🙂

P’s demolished half the treats, he actually APPROVED of the floof for his bath today (with the whitening shampoo), and I wore the belt to my lesson today (but didn’t get media because #FAIL). Thanks so much, Sarah!

And thanks to Tracy from Printable Pony for hosting this!

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Merry Christmas from P & I!
Horse Life

The 2010s Picture Challenge

Praise be Emily, for some blog content! This was a fun one, as 2010 was the year I got my very first horse, and rode for the first time since I was a teenager.

I bought Jester as a pretty much unbroke 9 year old for $700 with delivery included, and the day he arrived was one of my favorites EVER.

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2010

We spent awhile getting to know each other, then headed to our first show, where we dominated the Adult W/T class. Hey, that was what local J-ville shows had to offer.

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2011

And when I finally became mobile with my own truck and trailer, headed out on our own to do real shows. He was a hunter extraordinaire.

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2012

Then I sent him off for training with an eventer while we waited for the T.D. to arrive in the world, and Jester had a pasture accident that he wouldn’t have recovered from. So he gave me my best day and my worst day.

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2013

2014 saw a new adventure…

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2014

And in 2015 we headed off to attempt eventing.

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2015

2016 brought a LOT of challenges, and was probably the roughest horse-y year for me yet. Trainer issues, barn issues, I wasn’t having fun anymore.

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2016

In 2017, after a failed attempt at selling P, we met Trainer B and things just turned around. We were pushed to new heights (literally), but I was having fun again, for a change.

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2017

And we had a major break through in 2018, where we finally, FINALLY competed Novice.

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2018

Then, naturally, P injured himself- repeatedly (tendon, Foot Hole, eye), and I rode other horses until I finally decided that jumping P was not what I wanted to do anymore, and brought home a new family member. And 5 months after coming off the track, had the absolute most fun on XC that I’ve ever had before.

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2019

What an amazing (and expensive) decade it’s been since having horses back in my life. Here’s to 70 more just like it!

Horse Life

Update City

With surgery scheduled for exactly a week from now (unless another spider decides to bite me), I’ve been riding as much as I can. I’ve even been taking some actual dressage LESSONS with an honest-to-God dressage TRAINER in a real-life dressage SADDLE.

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We even HACK in said dressage saddle.

But it’s been really good for me. I’ve always gotten by in dressage, but I’ve never been what I consider to be a really good dressage rider. I’m way too busy with my aids, I have hunchy shoulders, turned out toes, straight arms, and am forever fighting the fetal position instinct.

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2014-Fetal fo’ Lyfe
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2019- aaaalllmmooosssttt

But my BO has decided she’s all in on the USDF stuff and has been working with a local dressage trainer who, bless, COMES TO THE FARM. As much as I love working with Trainer B, it’s an hour trailer ride one way, and while totes worth it, being able to arrive 1/2 hr before a lesson and walk 2 minutes to the arena? IN LOVE. P’s less enthused that Home Base has been infiltrated and eyes the arena suspiciously every time we walk down there.

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The look that used to be reserved for trailer rides comes out every time we go in the arena now

But it’s working and P is more forward than before, starting to carry himself in small bursts, and even the canter is coming along. And as for me, I’m getting more comfortable being in the correct position. I tend to have fairly straight arms, especially in transitions, thinking I’m “giving,” when really, I’m throwing contact away and then yanking it back. And keeping my toes turned in and my ankles out is keeping my leg more correct.

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This is still a major work in progress, though 

All good stuff. We have another lesson this afternoon, which, depending on her schedule, might be my last for awhile since my surgery is next Friday.

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Legit the best meme ever. Trying to cut out the bad food for now since both riding and CrossFit will take a temporary backseat

In Leo news, he arrived in Florida safe and sound, but had some trouble settling in at first. I know horses aren’t like people, but I DO feel a bit guilty. He’d only been with me for 6 months and every time we went to Trainer B’s, he, ya know, came home with me. Until the time he didn’t and instead got on a much different trailer and drove 8 hours to a new farm with strangers (minus Trainer B). But he’s been settling down and both working students have even gotten on him to hack him (at the walk only). He’s tentatively going to be hitting a show in February, and I’m so hoping to be able to make the trip down to see him at least once.

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They sent me this picture- still adorable as ever

I did ask Trainer B to try to ride him like crap at least once a week so he’s not too shell shocked when he comes home and I climb back aboard. We’ll see if he complies with my request.

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Less of this good riding stuff…
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…More of what Leo will be coming home to

And speaking of being a total ammy, the other night I rode P and he was sooooo good, that when it hit 20 minutes, I felt like it was enough and hopped off. Went to loosen the girth and…

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Oh Em Gerrrr….Sorry P

 

 

 

 

P & his buddy S got the farrier a thoughtful mug for Christmas (least he could do after stomping him in his quest to insert The Foot Hole). While S has never stomped the farrier, nor chopped off half of his own foot, he IS prone to ripping off shoes within 24 hours of getting them on.

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We’re not exactly sure P would actually jump a fence for AGF, but I s’pose anything is possible

If I don’t get a chance to write again before, Merry Christmas to everyone!

Horse Life

Gone…All Gone

HOW in the world is it December?

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Me lately. Winter is NOT my favorite season

So since I last posted, uh, 2 weeks ago (oops), not much of interest has happened. Leo was on break and took full advantage:

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So tired from all the winning he’s done since coming off the track in May

P and I went to Trainer B’s for some dressage lessons:

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P’s face when he got on the trailer was PRICELESS

P’s been ridden more in the last month than he has in the past 18 months, and is finally in some semblance of shape:

Though he’s sure to keep me on my toes at least 100x every ride:

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This was taken 2 seconds after the end of the above video

 

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My only goal for this winter is to learn to keep my shoulders back
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Getting the stretch back

4 days before I was supposed to have surgery on my nerve, I got bit by a spider AND got poison ivy on the arm that was supposed to be operated on. So now surgery is scheduled for the 27th, which means 3 less weeks of healing time before the end of winter.

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Naturally the incision is supposed to end where the bite is.

But on the plus side, more time to ride P. Oh yay.

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I IZ MAJESTIC

Family came from Chicago for Thanksgiving and I tried to show off P:

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P: If I pretend I’m sleeping, maybe they won’t ask me to do anything

But really, I have no leg to stand on because, as my mom pointed out, this is what I did when everyone thought it’d be great fun to decorate for Christmas:

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Me: If I pretend I’m sleeping, maybe they won’t ask me to do anything

And finally, Leo left for Florida this AM with Trainer B. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t tear up a bit (and that I’m not TOTALLY JEALOUS). I’m hoping I’ll be able to find some time to go visit down there, and if all goes well with the arm, be ready to go once he comes back.

Until then, I’ll be here in cold, dark (by 5:30 waaaahhh), wet North Carolina, dreaming of this:

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Happy holidays, amirite?

Horse Shows

Virginia HT, Part IV THE CONCLUSION

I really dragged this one out, didn’t I? Well, it was my first hurrah since March and my last hurrah for quite awhile, so sorrynotsorry. Plus, I was waiting for show pictures but at this point, 11 days later, forget it. Literally everyone that I know who showed at different venues that same weekend had their pictures within 48 hours and mine still haven’t been uploaded. They have like 1/10 of the competitiors’ pictures up under the VA folder on their website, and it’s been that way for 2 days now.

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But anyway, we came out of SJ with Leo getting all the pats from everyone because he was SUCH A GOOD BOY, and then Trainer B and I headed up the hill so Trainer B could do his BN show jumping and I had to get to XC. I stopped by the arena so I could get my XC gear out of the golf cart and was fully prepared (externally, at least) to head to XC alone, but Trainer B persuaded the other competitors and the stewards to let him cut in front of everyone else and do his round so he could come with me to XC.

Seriously. Best Trainer Ever.

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Going to be Trainer B’s Christmas present

During that interlude it was discovered our rail had dropped us from 2nd to being tied for 6th so there were some jokes made about going for optimum time, which Trainer B quickly squashed. He wanted me to stick with the plan of trotting the first fence, then cantering only if Leo was balanced and not rushing. Any sign of rushing or pulling and I was to do a downward transition, even walk or circle if I had to. He said coming out of XC with a better trained horse was more important than what the results looked like on paper (FINE), told me to ignore the fly bonnet message (P’s “Go Fast” bonnet) gave me a few last minute tips and we headed to the start box.

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Def me when they said I had a minute before go time

Leo was super game, didn’t so much as peek at jump 1, landed in a beautiful canter and we set off on quite possibly the most gorgeous XC course I’ve ever been on.

While the round wasn’t perfect- he definitely got a bit rushy after some of the jumps, requiring quite a bit of trotting and one circle after jump 6, and then there was the little debacle on our way to the last jump where the pair behind us had gone balls-to-the-wall and galloped past us with no warning (she apparently got reamed out afterwards)- but I just had a blast. There was no question in my mind that he was going to jump all the jumps and even the water didn’t back him off.

He was clearly enjoying himself and I just wished we could go around and do it again and again.

The time penalties added quite a bit to our score, dropping us to either last or almost last, BUT, had we not had time penalties, we would’ve ended up 5th. Had we not had time penalties or the rail, we would’ve held onto 2nd. Which in such a big field, with nearly half the field consisting of professionals (seems a little weird for Starter but whatevs), is sort of amazing.

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In lieu of pro pictures, which I was fully prepared to pay out the nose for, exnjoy this blurry screenshot. He’s still handsome, though.

 

And as we walked back to the barns, Trainer B reaffirmed that this was, indeed, Leo’s final Starter.

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Good thing I already started prepping him at BN for Trainer B 😉

And Fun Fact: the horse we were tied with after dressage has gone prelim/1* with Lainey Ashker. Leo is a champ.

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Simply put, it was the best possible way to end the year. Leo gets a break now and will head to Ocala with Trainer B at the end of the month while I try my best to get P back in some semblance of shape before his break while I have surgery and have to take my break.

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I love him

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horse Shows

Virginia HT, Part III

Ok, so at this point Leo and I had been at the Virginia Horse Center since Thursday afternoon, where on that day I worried the entire time how or if I was going to ride my horse. One of the reasons I’d put off telling Trainer B I’d wanted to ride was because we’d had two, ahem, interesting educational lessons leading up to the show, and I had this ridiculous fear that if I’d told him I wanted to ride, he’d be all, “I mean…should you?”

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How I pictured Trainer B’s response

But on Friday I bit the bullet after seeing how tiny the XC jumps were, we switched as Leo’s rider, and I did dressage on Saturday, which had us tied for 2nd place, 2.2 points away from first. Now all I had to do was jump my horse over a course of jumps for, well, the first time ever (his 2nd course ever), and possibly even canter fences…another first, seeing as Leo, aka Spider Legs had been solely trotting fences up until that point.

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All the trotting

Then my nerves were slightly abated when I heard the announcer say that the horse trial divisions (the show was also running CCI1/CCI2/CCI3 divisions) would be doing stadium up in the arena Leo and I had just done dressage in the day before. So whew. At least it’s an arena he’s already been in.

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Until I went with Trainer B to check out the CCI3 SJ course in the big Grand Prix arena in the middle of the Horse Center and saw course maps posted for the FEI levels…AND STARTER.

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How cruel does one have to be in order to run the 3* and STARTER in the same giant GP arena?

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Could’ve been tucked away in the quiet Dressage Arena A for SJ, but nooooo, have to go in the Wiley arena along with the FEI divisions ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I considered asking the show office if I could just stick him in BN. After all, we’d done the same dressage test as the BN division- just slide my score in wherever you see fit, mmmkay? I’ll totes jump bigger fences if it means I can do it in a quieter arena. To give you an idea of how nuts the area the GP arena was, when I was standing near it with Leo earlier in the day, FIVE loose horses (in the span of less than an hour) galloped directly past us, as that arena stands directly in the path from all the other arenas/XC back to the barns.

But I digress.

The warmup was next to the coliseum, and while Leo was a little on edge at first, he actually warmed up super. Didn’t do even a little bolting after any of the jumps and was fairly steady to each fence, even the oxer. So with that, we went into the GP arena with the instructions to trot the first fence, immediately do a downward transition, trot the 2nd fence, then play it by ear after that. If he rushed before or after a fence, immediate downward transition. If he was balanced and relaxed, let him canter.

And voila!

He had a rail at jump 2 because I simply held on too long, but it was so fun to feel his confidence grow as we went along. They had the ground poles set about 6″ in front of each jump, so he whacked at least 3 of those, but the rest of the rails stayed up. And check out that flying change in between jumps 4 & 5!

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And a left to right change at that. So proud.

I was thrilled as we came out, even more so as we headed up the hill to Trainer B’s SJ and my XC and Trainer B said that’s what he needed to see before moving him to BN.

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Using this gif again because it’s simply the most appropriate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horse Shows

VA Horse Trials, Part II

So after finally making the decision to ride (for goodness sakes) and officially making the switch from Trainer B to myself, Leo and I had a most perfect ride around the Virginia Horse Center. It was filled with over crowded arenas, spooky indoors, loose horses, blaring speakers, flapping tents, zooming golf carts, barking dogs, falling jumps…to name just a few stimuli. So why was it perfect? Well, because for how insane everything was, Leo was most decidedly NOT insane.

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I even BRAIDED. Things are getting serious.

The team had 5 horses showing: Trainer B was riding one in BN, one in N, and one in the 3*, another student was riding in the T, and I was the last ride of each day in the Starter. Which normally would drive me crazy, having to sit around all day waiting to go, but in reality I didn’t have even a second to get nervous, as we were running around all day, every day. I walked the 3* XC course (which made me really laugh at my Starter fences), helped in the vet box, tacked/untacked/washed horses, etc…thankfully there was ALWAYS something to do.

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I felt bad for his clashing colors, but the braids had to be protected at all costs

I did manage to pre-ride Leo Saturday morning before our 3:40 dressage time, and despite almost being run into multiple times from multiple angles, and him picking up the wrong lead going right twice (first time in awhile that’s happened), he felt pretty good and I was just happy he was still holding onto his sanity.

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I lost a bunch of weight this past year and all my show stuff was incredibly baggy on me, so last second I bought this Kerrit’s jacket from Riding Warehouse and my BO blinged it out for me 🙂

When it was our turn, we headed up to warmup and Trainer B told me I needed to win the dressage (which made me laugh out loud), and we worked on getting some semblance of a stretch out of him, then headed down the hill and into the dressage arena.

Where Leo immediately went, “Ummm, WUT” and got all tense.

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Leo when we headed into the arena that practically falls  off the edge of a cliff

But other than a bobble right before we went in (and I immediately circled before he spooked), we went in and rode Leo’s 2nd ever dressage test (video has captions w/scores):

The collectives were:

Gaits: 7.0

Impulsion: 6.5

Submission: 6.0

Rider: 7.0

With the final comment: “Be more forward to help solidify a better frame; show more bend.”

For a score of 35.0

I felt his nervousness throughout, but was super happy because umm, hello, he picked up the right lead, we stayed in the arena and I really felt as if I rode the test, rather than  my usual sitting like a passenger, thinking about what was coming up next. So while obvi we wouldn’t win the dressage (there were 19 people in the division), Leo and I had both survived- his 2nd dressage test ever, and my 2nd in over a year.

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Then the texts started coming from friends:

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This broke the news to me
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When I made it sound like I did horrible, I didn’t know our placing!
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Go Leo!

I really didn’t want to know my placing after dressage, and would’ve been happier had we been last, but it was seriously cool to know that despite the tenseness I felt, the judge liked Leo enough to score him as well as she did.

Unfortunately, dressage was all we got to do that day, as both SJ and XC were being run on Sunday, so I got to sit and stew all night about how the only time Leo’s ever done a full jump course was at Windridge with Trainer B, and how I’ve never actually cantered a fence on Leo and the last time we had jumped was a grand total of 3 fences nine days prior…

source

 

 

Horse Shows

Leo *AND I* Surivive..OUR First Horse Trial! Part I

So when we last left off, after waffling back and forth about who would ride Leo at the Virginia HT, I finally submitted the entry under Trainer B then tried on show clothes.

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Pretty sure Husband would prefer boring at this point

Well, I had decided that damnit, I wanted to ride. So I prepared a speech and practiced said speech on the way up to a lesson, fully prepared to deliver it once we had wowed Trainer B with how amazing we were.

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Because we were definitely going to recreate the majik

Then neither Leo nor I could get ourselves together over GROUND POLES without one or both of us freaking out. So I figured it wasn’t quite time to pull out the speech, and went home slightly defeated.

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So the next lesson, I had just resigned myself to let Trainer B ride him, seeing as it was 1.5 weeks away from the show and we were still working on canter transitions. Then I packed all my show clothes (because…psycho) and off to VA we headed.

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With a freshly clipped Leo
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And his new PJs

We arrived Thursday afternoon, and I got Leo settled, then tried to find time to sneak off to go look at XC, which I figured would be my deciding factor. If there was something on course that I thought would be super spooky, then I’d let it be and have Trainer B ride. But soon after I arrived, we all headed off to dinner and of course while we were out it started POURING, so when I got back on the grounds, there was no way I could see any of the jumps in the rain and the dark (believe me, I tried and looked like a drowned rat for my troubles).

The next AM, I got to the barn, we fed all the horses, did stalls and then I snuck out to go RUN the course before the day really started. If you don’t know, the rule for recognized HTs is that only the competitor can ride the horse on the show grounds, and the schedule for that day had Trainer B doing dressage in the 3* and then after that, riding his other 2 horses + Leo that afternoon. So I finally had to make the decision.

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And…XC was tiny. So tiny, in fact, that I mistook a few Novice fences for Starter (2’3″) and was even a bit disappointed in how little everything looked. But of course, the size of the fences wasn’t the point, just getting Leo to understand the job was. But still.

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I mean…THIS was the biggest fence

But that clinched it for me. Now I just had to tell Trainer B he’d lost the ride.

As we walked to dressage, he said we’d go check out the Starter later on. I figured that was as good an entry point as any and said, “Well, I already walked it.”

Trainer B: And?

Me: It looks tiny.

Trainer B: Too bad you’re not riding.

Me: I know.

Trainer B: Do you want to ride?

Me: Ya.

Trainer B: Seriously?

Me: Ya.

Trainer B: Do you have your stuff?

Me: Ya.

Trainer B: Even your show clothes?

Me:…Ya.

Trainer B: They might charge you $25 to change it.

Me: Actually it’s $50.

Trainer B: Did you plan this?

Me: Maybe.

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So we made it official in the show office, then I hopped on Leo and we had an amazing ride around the enormous show grounds to prepare him for the madness of dressage the next day.

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Me to Leo all day errry day
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Aaaand..Leo’s sentiments about me