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Repetition

Friday I headed to Trainer B’s with some mishaps from the week on my mind. So when he asked the usual question about how P was this week, I was all, “How do I choose which of my horrible habits to present?”

Here, Trainer B. Here’s all of them.

  1. It’s super hard for me to sit the canter to the right. It’s P’s stiffer way and he’s really bad about putting ALL of his weight on his front right. So much weight you can practically see his left hind peddling in the air.
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How turning right feels on P

2. I can’t stop micromanaging P to fences. If we’re 3-4 strides away and I see that we’re not going to meet the fence perfectly, I pick at him. I think back all the time to the Clayton Fredericks clinic I audited this past January, where he said if the distance is wrong you have two options: push or wait. Never pull, because if you pull going into the fence and it doesn’t go well, the horse blames you for it. I KNOW THIS. I understand the concept completely. Nevertheless, I’m fiddling with his face nonstop.

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3. I sit too long before fences, get left behind, and in an attempt to “catch-up,” I pinch with my knee, which swings my lower leg back and tips me forward. This is the opposite problem that I used to have- where I’d lean at every fence, but P stopping really taught me to not to trust that we’re leaving the ground until we’re in the air.

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Me fixing one problem by creating another

So we started with the canter. And the fix is, uhh, awkward. I have to sit back and waaaay to the left. Like, ridiculously to the left, while keeping my right leg on for bend, left leg behind the girth, and open left rein as if I’m leg-yielding. OMG so awkward. We worked on that for a bit, and I get to do that every time I canter. Fun.

Next he addressed both jumping issues with one exercise. He put a ground pole down 42 ft away from a jump that P has jumped many, many times before, to make it 3 strides from the pole to the jump. Then he had me get in half seat and practice getting P’s hip angle further underneath him and his shoulders elevated, and then keeping that around the corner until we reached the pole. When we went over the pole, I had to give a little tap with my legs and soften, to sorta “slingshot” P forward over the jump.

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Once we had done that a couple times and it was clear P was going to jump, we worked on me. I did all of the above, and then thought of keeping my knees soft, shoving my feet forward and keeping my chest and head up.

But it was great, and it’s an exercise that’s easy to set up at home.

So we only have to do this a million more times, give or take a few.

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Saturday I headed to a local jumper show to put all this into practice. My plan going in had been to use the 2’6″ as a warm-up (yes, really), then go into 2’9″, 3’0″, and, if those went well, 3’3″.

The website said the show started at 1, and 2’6″ was class #9, so we pulled in at 12:45…and they were already on class 3 after starting at 12:30.

I had this moment of panic when I realized they were about to start 2’3″ and thought maybe I should go in to let P see the jumps. But I didn’t, and stayed with my plan to use 2’6″ as our warm-up.

And…it was fine.

He felt like he hesitated when I got him straight to 7 and he saw both jumps, but when I saw the video I think he just chipped in vs thought about stopping. And he’s clearly unimpressed by 2’6″. So unlike last year when we couldn’t make it around a 2’6″ course for anything.

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So boring. Zero effort required.

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So we had awhile to go, since there were a bunch of other riders, and I hopped off P to let him graze while I talked to BO, who had come along to help and take videos (hooray for great friends who understand the importance of media). Then one of the volunteers came over to where we were standing and handed me a blue ribbon. I asked if they were done with 2’6″ and he said yeah, so I headed to the counter to add 2’9″. The lady looked a little crestfallen and said there were no entries, so they were going to conclude the show. I said, “Ok, so I can’t go in then?” and she said, “Well, can you help us raise the fences since you’re the only entry?” Uhhh, sure.

So I did, then hopped on P, trotted him in a circle and we headed in.

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He felt awesome, and I so badly wanted to see if we could raise them to 3′, but when I headed out the gate, the volunteer handed me my blue ribbon (since I was the only one) and walked in the opposite direction. So I rode to the counter and before I could even say anything, the woman told me she had filled my check out for $40 (I had left an open check so I could add classes), and asked me if she could get my number from me. Okkkkk then, guess we’re done.

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It was still fun, though. To put it like Michael Jung, P “gave me a great feeling,” and I couldn’t have asked for more.

Even better, I feel like I really used all that we worked on the day before in the rounds, and even when things didn’t go perfectly, I was able to let P sort it out rather than start meddling. Sort of a crucial quality in an event horse, no?

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My lil champion earned lots of admiring comments from spectators and other competitors
Uncategorized

VHT- Lessons Learned

After that whirlwind of a weekend, I’ve finally had some time to process. I was really grateful for the day off on Monday- horse show hangovers are definitely a real thing.

So here are some things I learned:

-I never want to to be a professional rider (not like there was a chance, but still).

It was impressive that one person can ride 4 horses 8 times in 3 different phases (2 Novice dressage, 2 Novice XC, 2 Training dressage, 2 Training SJ) in one day and not have to be peeled off the floor afterwards.

-Playing owner is not for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful that Trainer B rode P this weekend. Best decision ever, really. But handing my horse over to someone else made me realize how much I love competing. Not to mention I didn’t sit on my horse for 6 days, and I missed him.

-Even when things get busy, I really need to MAKE the time to get P out of his stall more often. 

I failed miserably at time management. We were busy from 7 AM-7 PM both days and I was so tired (even though I didn’t ride…) that after dinner I just went straight back to my trailer and passed out. But P was definitely itching to get out more, and I need to find the time to make that happen to keep him as happy as possible. Thank goodness for GastroGard.

-I need to (re)learn how to braid.

As a kid, I braided all the time. Not so much as an adult. In fact, I don’t think P has ever been braided. I didn’t realize this was a thing people did at the lower levels, but I only saw one horse that wasn’t braided for dressage (my kindred spirit, apparently), so ya, it’s a thing. And a thing I need to figure out how to do again. So if anyone can point me towards supplies that I need and perhaps a good tutorial video or two, I’d be much obliged.

-Showing with a team is 100000x better than showing alone. 

Still a concept very new to me. So much help was given: they all trooped out to XC and stood in the humid, muggy air to take videos/pictures, hung around to video P’s SJ round (he was the last ride of the day), helped with grooming, polishing hooves, grabbing last second forgotten items, braiding (another shoutout to E for that one!), and were just plain ol’ fun to be around. I’m such a shy person (introvert to the core) and quite socially awkward since I use up all my “coolness” for my job and have nothing left to give when not at work, but I really enjoy hanging out with them. Definitely better than getting Taco Bell and eating it alone in my horse trailer while reading a book. Except now I want Taco Bell. Oops.

-While I may never be the rider that Trainer B is, I do need to learn the ride he gives P.

Because, uhh, did we all just see my horse tearing up XC? I’ve probably watched that video no less than 500 times.

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Favorite picture of him- look at those ears!

-Novice actually doesn’t look so bad. 

Yeah, that’s really  me saying it. Besides a couple of the jumps (like the table above), after walking the course I was wishing something fierce that I could ride. The course just looked like FUN.

-P can do Training.

When Trainer B said that to me, I really didn’t know what to with that information. Training isn’t something I saw anywhere in our future (if we’re being honest, I was thinking even BN was a lost cause…), but knowing that the next step up is well within his capabilities definitely makes me more confident that we can be successful at the level that we’re at now.

-But I need more XC schooling. 

At this point, since coming back to riding as an adult, P now has more XC experience than I do. Sure, only four minutes and thirty-seven seconds more, but it still counts. So if I want the same results with P, I’ve got to make that a priority.

-My horse is something special. 

Going to full-on, unashamedly brag here. The Novice Horse division was filled with quite a few amazing riders, including pros like Lainey Ashker, and a lot of SUPER nice horses. P on the other hand, has had 99% of his riding (and therefore training) done by me, a weenie adult ammy. Don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying had I been riding we would’ve gotten the same result (we also would’ve been in the Rider division), but clearly P isn’t as screwed up as I’ve sometimes let myself believe.

And I also have to mention the fact that P has never been to a show quite like VHT- the atmosphere was huge with so many things going on, he’s never been in an indoor like he was for SJ, and he totally stepped up. I was so impressed with him all weekend.

Mainly, I’m just still thrilled with my pony and soooo happy I’m getting to ride him again!

Uncategorized

Blech.

Last week sucked in a major way. We made the decision to put our 9 year old German Shepherd, Kaiser, down. He stopped eating a few weeks ago, was having a hard time getting around, and couldn’t control his bowels/bladder any longer. The vet couldn’t find anything clear-cut that was wrong with him, but suspected a stomach tumor. Due to his age and obvious pain, it was clear what he wanted, so we decided to have a vet come out and do it at our house, since he’s always been really anxious at the vet’s office. The last 10 minutes before she arrived, and when she pulled in the driveway I seriously considered throwing the check at her and telling her to leave. But we followed through and I’m glad he’s no longer in pain. Thanks for the 9 years, bud.

 

So that was terrible. Friday my non-profit was having our annual fundraiser, so I was running around from 8 AM-10 PM, having to smile, act happy, and do the small talk thing. Which as I’m sure you all know, is exhausting. So even though I always enjoy lessons at Trainer B’s, when I pulled in on Saturday, I really wasn’t in the mood. P hadn’t been ridden in 2 days, my hair was a mess from the humidity (I don’t know why I cared but I did), and I just wanted to be asleep. But we’re on a time crunch now that P is entered in Virginia. Trainer B is gone until this Sunday at Jersey Fresh, so when he gets back that means we have 10 days until we leave for VA. Yikes.

We decided to work out in the XC field this time, since there were finally some jumps back out there. P was not a fan of this tiny thing…he was freaked out over the black boxes, yet the thick side of the jump was also scary. So despite my wide open left rein, and my ever-squeezing right leg, we only succeeded in jumping half of the jump. #PilgrimLogic.

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Then we moved on to a jump that gave P quite the pause last year.

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And then Trainer B had us string those 2 jumps together and then continue down across the road, and past the dressage arena…somewhere we’ve never been and P considered this no-man’s land. I wasn’t wearing spurs, and while he didn’t stop at any of the jumps, he was quite sure we weren’t supposed to be crossing the road and was super sticky.

Going back he was much better…until we were supposed to take the train jump the other way around and he stopped. Which I cut out of the video, because I’ve got enough sucky things going on that I really didn’t need a reminder of the refusal. When I was editing the helmet cam videos, I clicked “trim” before getting to that part. I know it sounds dumb, but I don’t need the reminder.

I think Trainer B could tell I just wasn’t into it, and he offered to get on and school, which I gratefully accepted.

I was surprised P refused the one jump that he did- I really thought he was going to go. And that’s the frustrating part. Even Trainer B said it- he’s got the talent and the ability, what’s missing is the obedience. Maybe that will come with time; I mean, he’s certainly better now than he was just a short time ago when I couldn’t get him around a single course without multiple refusals. Plus I know I’m probably reading too much into it all, thanks to my current mental state.

So homework this week was to get P moving off of both legs. Short sessions that end once he responds by moving his shoulders or hindquarters over, based on where my leg is asking.

Monday I went out for session #1 and when I asked P to canter in the warmup, I was met with much sideways bolting and throwing of the head. Which was weird, so I asked again and didn’t release pressure until he went into the canter. I worked trot/canter/trot/canter until the behavior stopped and he was going into the canter without fuss. Since I was more conscious than ever to just to use my legs and seat, I deliberately was keeping the reins on the looser side. And it’s a good thing because when I hopped off…

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Yep, that’s a cut. On the corner of his mouth and a little further up, and the bit must have been irritating him. Since I didn’t see it before tacking up (but I also wasn’t looking for one) I have no idea if it happened because of the bit caused it, or was already there and the bit being in just irritated it. I know I would’ve noticed it if it had happened the day before because I bathed him at Trainer B’s after our lesson. Soooo…..fun. I sprayed it with Vetericyn, smeared some Aquaphor on it, and cried a little on the way home. Don’t judge.

So what to do? Give him off until it heals? HA. Why do that when I can risk my own life but at least still exercise my  horse?

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At least I know I’m using only my legs and seat, right?

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Uncategorized

Blog Hop: 30 Facts About Me

Thanks May As Well Event for more blog content! With mostly flatwork and dressage lessons with zero media happening, it’s been a bit slow on the writing front.

1.My name is actually Kathryn Christine, but I go by KC. My mom and grandma are also named Kathryn, but they go by Katie and Anne, respectively. So my family LIKES the name Kathryn, just not enough to use it.

2. I’ve been obsessed with horses since before I can remember. One of my earliest horsey moments was when I was 3 or 4 and wanted to go on the pony ride at the local fair. I cried the entire time because I wanted to ride the pony off the hot walker, then I cried when it was over because I wanted to keep riding.

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I would go up to random strangers and ask if I could hop on their horse.

3. When I was 3, my dad brought home a flock of baby Canadian geese as pets for us. My mom was NOT amused. My dad taught them how to fly a la Fly Away Home, and even after they grew up and left, 2 (Max & Princess) would always come home every year and stay at the pond next door.

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4. My brother is 13 months younger than me and my sister is 10 years younger than me. Now that we’re older, my sister and I are super close. Though I do have to remind her of things like duck lips are NOT a good look and Tide Pods are for doing laundry only.

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5. Before I was born, my dad traveled all over the world to hunt after he got home from Vietnam. He was also big into taxidermy and built a huge room off our house for all his war and hunting stuff. It was normal for me to be surrounded by guns, animal skins and various weaponry, so I could never understand why people would be shocked when they came over for the first time. I used to sit on Harry (the lion) to practice my riding position.

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6. On a similar note, my dad took me hunting for the first time when I was 8. We sat in a tree stand for a couple hours until we saw some deer and just as my dad started to get his rifle into place I started screaming, “RUN RUN RUN” at the deer. My dad never took me again.

7. I’m the oldest of 47 cousins and over 200 second cousins- my mom is one of 9 siblings and all but 2 are married with 2-10 kids. Despite loving growing up in a huge family, I’m not a kid person and think my 2 are more than enough.

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Some of the cousins at our annual Michigan vacation

8. I’m from Chicago, but when I was little we moved around Texas (Lubboc, San Antonio and Dallas) and then to Manassas, VA for my dad’s work. For the year in VA, I lived in a suite at the Marriott and my brother and I OWNED that place. In 2016 we went back there for my cousin’s wedding and I got to see my old suite 108, which was alot smaller than I remembered…

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Memoriiiieeeesssss

9. I was homeschooled until the 7th grade, when we were enrolled in a Catholic school and it took me a LONG time to catch on that you were supposed to roll up the super long uniform skirts.

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Stylin’

10. I used to go around the neighborhood searching for lost dogs so I could walk them around trying to find their owner. My mom eventually caved and got us our own dog.

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11. Besides horses, I’ve played volleyball and ran cross-country and track. I was most successful at cross-country as a freshman in high school: MVP, went to state, etc. Then my brother joined the next year and blew me out of the water. It wasn’t so much fun after that.

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Casually winning. I loved the final sprint, even if no one was close to me

12. When I was 18, I moved from IL to NC  with my now-ex out to the coast when he joined the Marines.  We split up shortly after moving, and I lived in some pretty sketchy places while going to college and working full-time.

13. I went through a phase where I dated musicians, got a bunch of tattoos (17 of them), pierced my lip and played the guitar. Sadly no pictures exist from that era that I can find. My oldest son Justin just got a guitar for Christmas, so I pulled out my old one for the first time in over 10 years to teach him how to play. My fingers definitely don’t move the way they used to.

14. I met Husband on MySpace right before I graduated college. Yes, MYSPACE. We usually tell people we met through friends, which is technically true. A friend messaged him as a joke, then we got to talking and have been together ever since April 2006. We got married a year later in May 2007.

15. I’m the least romantic person in the world whereas my husband is the MOST romantic. One time while Matt was in Iraq, he told me he loved to look at the moon because even though we were far apart, at least we were looking at the same moon. Iraq is 8 hours ahead, so I responded (without thinking) that it was sunny out where I was. So….there’s that. He still hasn’t let me forget about that.

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He does things like have restaurants put rose petals on the table for no reason at all

16. I’ve worked in non-profit since 2009 and was the youngest non-profit executive director in the state. My mom has super genes so I’ve always looked younger than I am and I used to hate it. I had to work super hard to get taken seriously. I heard things like, “Oh, I expected someone older” or “I thought you were the receptionist” all the time.

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Thanks mom

17. I tried for-profit for a very scary year. I worked at a law school and directed a program that helped new attorneys start their own practices. I left after a year because I was tired of the endless meetings with the higher-ups that went nowhere, but I still stay in touch with my “baby lawyers” and they’ve even gotten some traffic tickets tossed out for me.

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Actually yes, yes you can.

18. My favorite thing to do is take failing organizations and make them successful. I’ve turned around 2 non-profits and now my current one is doing great so I’m getting a little restless.

19. Our youngest son, Noah, was born with a congenital heart defect and was transferred right away to a hospital 2 hours away to have open heart surgery. I was told I couldn’t leave until I could walk, so somehow (no idea how, to this day) I got out of bed and walked across the room not being able to feel my legs (epidurals are great until you’re in this predicament). Then I didn’t trust my husband to drive because he’s already an awful driver and now he was tired, so I drove us to the hospital in Raleigh. By that time I could feel my legs, though. They talked about me in the hospital, which was really embarrassing at the time, but now it’s a pretty funny story.

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Chicks dig scars, right?

20. We have 2 dogs, both foster fails, a German Shepherd named Kaiser and a Shepherd/Lab mix named Adele. We’ve had Kaiser for just about 10 years and Adele for 1.5. Kaiser and our oldest son, Justin, grew up together and Kaiser is hands down the best babysitter in the world. Husband doesn’t want to foster anymore. No idea why.

21. We have a cat named Zoey, who was a rescue as well. We got her when she was about 6 years old, back in 2011. On day 1 she ran away and we thought we lost her forever. Then we found her in one of our kitchen cabinets the next day- turns out she’s mute which the rescue hadn’t told us. So she has to wear a bell on her collar so we can hear her if she gets stuck somewhere.

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22. At Husband’s insistence, we bought a pistol a few years ago. I took some shooting courses, but my interest quickly waned. Then a few months ago while Husband was out of town for work, I woke up in the middle of the night to Adele barking like crazy (she never does that) and all of our outdoor sensor lights blazing. So I sat in my bedroom doorway (where I could see if anyone was coming up the stairs) for over an hour with the gun in my hand and Husband on the phone. Now I’m getting my concealed carry because I never want to feel like that again.

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Despite growing up with guns, this was the first time shooting one in 20 years.

23. Husband is the better parent. I have NO IDEA what I’m doing. When I leave overnight or for a weekend, I don’t think twice. If he’s the one leaving, I’m super nervous. Not to mention he’s the cook of the family so if the kids want anything other than cereal if it’s just me, McDonalds it is!

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24. I don’t really watch TV and it’s hard for me to sit still through an entire movie. I watch shows like The Office, Will & Grace, Friends and most short sitcoms like those.

25. I listen to rock/punk like Five Finger Death Punch, Social Distortion, Rancid, Three Days Grace, Linkin Park, etc. I hardly ever listen to the radio so I never know current songs unless I already like the band.

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Took Justin to see FOB in November for his 1st concert- best time ever!

26. I used to want to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast and have a library with a ladder so I could swing down it like she did in the movie. So when we didn’t know what to do with the formal living room in our current house, I made Husband turn it into a library. If I’m home, I can usually be found in there with a book and the fireplace going. Husband still has to get a ladder for the bookcases though.

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They done wrong by not casting me in the remake. Must’ve been because of my blue eyes.

27. When we moved from Jacksonville to Concord, I joined a crossfit gym because I was bored with the same old cardio gym classes, but I didn’t want to do any weightlifting because I thought I would get bulky. Now olympic lifting is my favorite thing ever. All my friends are either horse friends or crossfit friends and both sides think the opposite sport is crazy.

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Left: lots of cardio. Right: lots of crossfit

28. Along with crossfit, I started doing Spartan races in 2015 with members of my crossfit box. Even though I no longer enjoy running the way I did when I was younger, I always have a blast doing these with friends.

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29. I love tailgating and going to football games, but have no clue what’s going on so I just yell random things and hope I blend in.

30. My favorite feeling in the world, even better than crossing the finish flags on XC, is the feeling at military homecomings. I almost wish Matt would deploy again so we could have another one. Almost.

Uncategorized

XC Schooling

Yesterday I had a meeting that was supposed to last pretty much all day, but thankfully ended early so I took advantage of the additional time and loaded P up to go XC schooling. After the disaster that was P + water at the hunter pace on Sunday, I needed to make sure that was just a fluke and he still, in fact, does not hate water.

After a couple trot and canter laps around the field to warmup, I aimed him straight for it.

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Then we headed for the bank to make sure that was still in place as well. We haven’t schooled water since June, and banks or real ditches since…well, I can’t exactly remember.

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Yeah, I think we’re good there, too.

So then we went to the ditch. And I remembered to look up.

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So XC basics:

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We went back to the water and practiced jumping out of the water over a little vertical that was already set up. P’s never jumped a jump straight out of the water and he was perfecto.

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And then jumped a few other things that Husband couldn’t keep up with, so here’s helmet cam footage. See how we jump mostly to the right? Yeah, I was more concerned with making sure he’d actually jump the jumps and COMPLETELY forgot to, ya know, center us.

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And then to end, I decided to hop him over a log at the top of the mound. That’s something P’s also never done. I almost lost my nerve when I saw there was little room on the landing side- started imagining him leaping over the log and having no ground under him because I’m a worst-case-scenario type of person. So I took him up and walked him around both sides of the log….then went back down and picked up the canter.

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What a rockstar my horse is.

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As always after XC, P was strutting walking back to the trailer. Sometimes I question whether he wants to event, then I ride him on an XC course and once he gets going and his confidence builds, there’s no doubt he’s enjoying himself.

We’ll dressage it up tonight, then lesson with Trainer B Friday, and straight to Windridge after that!

 

Uncategorized

Windridge Farm Hunter Pace

Sara already covered most of the good parts, so here I am to tell you how she totally glossed over how annoying P was.

 

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Yes, you

 

First off, neither P nor I have ever done a hunter pace. We’ve planned multiple times to get out there, but have never been able to make it to a single one for various reasons. So when Sara and I planned to meet up Sunday morning at 9 (meaning a barn departure time of 7:15 AM), imagine my utter shock and disbelief (sarcasm) when I get this message at 7:00 PM Friday night.

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We JUST moved barns and the old farriers couldn’t get out to the new one with their schedule, so we were switching to the NEW farrier (who is old farrier approved), but he’s not scheduled to come out until Oct 6th. So I had to find someone who could do it sometime Saturday. NBD.

 

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P: What’s this? Did some crazy horse lose their shoe? Who would do such a thing?
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Me: ::glares harder:: P: Oh…you already know it was me. Yeah. Oops.

Thankfully, old farrier took pity on me and let me haul to her place so she could tack it back on in between riding her own horses. Back in business!

The hunter pace ran from 9:30-3:30, so you could show up anytime during those hours and ride. Sara had the good sense to start early before the trails got crowded, so we were the only 2 there at 9 AM. P was uncharacteristically spooky at first, probably due to the sudden cold front, but took the lead and we headed into the woods.

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It was a lot of fun to catch up with Sara, who’s actually done this stuff before. We did some trotting and some cantering, then Gem revealed her plan to get some snacking in- loosen the girth!

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With the saddle firmly in place, we got back on the trail…and got ourselves lost thanks to a mostly hidden trail marker.

 

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Gem butt!

 

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There were some open places where we could canter, which was so much fun. P has such a slow canter and gallop, but Gem is 15h and just couldn’t keep up. BUT she’s ridiculously smart (and uber competitive) and tried to cut across the field to get in front. Seriously, don’t cross this mare.

 

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Gem: Yeah, I randomly spook at nothing but it’s only to keep you lesser beings on your toes. P: Yes, ma’am!

 

Then my helmet cam unfortunately shut off because I neglected to delete previous videos and it ran out of memory, so now I don’t have footage of the Worst Trail Horse Ever.

It was a ONE foot creek crossing. P came to a sliding stop but Gem, being the awesome endurance horse that she is, led P over it, and we went back and forth a couple of times to solidify that no trolls lived there.

 

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PC: Sara; This was what my water loving event horse was afraid of

 

Joke was on me.

Again, P resumed the lead until we came to another one foot crossing. P cared nothing that Gem survived over it, he wasn’t going. So I got off and led him over, re-mounted and we resumed….

For about 10 feet until we came to ANOTHER one. This one there was nothing I could do. He wouldn’t follow Gem, he wouldn’t follow me, he wouldn’t back up. It was just a hell no. And then a nice couple came along and took pity. The woman tried her hardest- she teaches bombproofing clinics but P was determined to take her ego down. Her husband used his (obviously experienced at these kinds of things) horse Duke to get behind P and nudge and bite him along, but P just backed further into the woods. When Sara says we were there for about 30 minutes, she’s not exaggerating.

 

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PC: Sara; This was just mind-blowing for P

 

Now…I was trying to keep my wits about me and channel my inner Denny Emerson. P has never seen this before, he’s scared, right? Yeah…I thought so, too, until, as I’m pony club kicking him trying to get him even just to LEAN in the right direction, Sara busts out laughing and says he’s just standing there, with a back hoof cocked up, like he’s resting.

 

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P

 

So we finally gave up and took our own little path to the road. And then got back on the trail, where P pretended like nothing had ever happened.

 

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P: But I’m so good at cantering, does it matter? Me: YES

 

And then along came a bridge that had no railings but a pretty far drop, so I promptly hopped off and P just walked next to me like he walks over bridges all the time. So 12 inch creek crossings are the end of the world, but bridges that look like certain death (to me) are fine?

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Then we had to get IN the water. Again, P said, no thank you. So I grabbed a  long stick with lots of leaves in it and we headed in…together.

 

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PC: Sara; P: This is boring, Me: I hate you

 

So then we come to another creek bed crossing. It was a little steep on either side but there was no water, so surely this will be fine.

When I tell you that at one point in time I was contemplating HOW I was going to tell my family that I couldn’t get out of the woods and I was just going to have to live there, I’m not kidding. It was so frustrating. Gem crossed back and forth just fine multiple times, but P was having none of it. Finally Sara tied Gem to a tree to help….and was it ever a sight to behold. Sara had P by the reins pulling and I’m behind him pushing. We must’ve looked like total rank morons but my horse was just having NONE of it.

 

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After 20 minutes of getting nowhere, this was more my expression

 

I’m pretty sure this is where I threatened to sell him, but then realized that I couldn’t because who’s going to come out to the middle of the woods to try my horse?

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I gave up on that one also, and we found a different route, got back on the trail and headed for the finish.

Minus those blips, I had an absolute blast. Sara is so much fun and Gem is a really cool horse to trail ride with. There’s obviously some things I need to work on with P that our nicely manicured trails with no creek crossings or ditches won’t help with. New trail adventures are in order, stat. And I need to wear spurs. I don’t know why I keep thinking I don’t. That morning I had packed them, but P was so fresh and a bit spooky so I figured I didn’t need them. ALWAYS WEAR SPURS, KC. And for good measure, a crop,too. It would’ve been one thing if he was scared, but he wasn’t. He wasn’t snorting, shaking, or doing anything that indicated he was worried. He was just letting me wear myself out trying all sorts of tricks to get him to move. And he won twice, which I HATE.

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So all we can do is get back out there! Armed appropriately this time, of course.

 

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I say grudgingly

 

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MOAR GREEN JUMPS

Tuesday evening I had every intention of putting on dressage tack and schooling in the dressage arena. EVERY INTENTION, OK? But…

I didn’t want to. Instead, I wanted to take advantage of the fact that Husband was meeting me at the barn to try out some more carpet covered jumps.

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This time I put my spurs on to see if that would maybe encourage a bit more forwardness. I’ve been on a spur hiatus for about 4 months now because P was so explosive…but now he’s just, ya know, NOT.

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P warmed up bea-uuuutifully.

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So I popped over a few jumps that were already set up to show off to Husband how P doesn’t stop, but he was too busy looking at his phone and didn’t even see. Since I had jumped P the day before and I’m still a little guarded about his health, I decided to just cover a tiny x-rail with the carpet and see what happened.

 

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This could’ve gone wrong, but it didn’t
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Though we need Husband to come and fix it

 

And he definitely gave it the hairy eyeball the first time:

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P: WTF, ARE YOU SURE, THIS DOESNT SEEM SAFE

 

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Besides that ever so slight hesitation, he was a champ. We only did it twice because why even bother doing it more than that?

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But we still had to bring it back to the barn.

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P got off Wednesday because we have a pretty full weekend, and last night I ACTUALLY did the dressage thing. Complete with the whip and I didn’t die! Oh…and the OneK? Totally a keeper.

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So now the real rolltop test will come this afternoon when we go to Trainer B’s. Cross your fingers!

One last thing: I just have to say how cool this community is. When I started this little blog, it was because 1) I love writing, and 2) I needed somewhere to put all my zillions of horse pictures and videos. I’ve never promoted or publicized this blog anywhere, it’s always been more of an online journal of sorts that I didn’t even make public for a few months. But I’m so glad I did- I’ve loved getting to know others across the country and even internationally. On Wednesday, a blogging friend, M of Phoebe the Freebie, sent me her copy of Denny Emerson’s book because I wanted to read it and sweet lil’ Pheebs included some awesome horse treats to help bulk P up! So thanks to this awesome community of horse lovers. It’s a blast.

 

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P LOVED the treats, seriously, M,  you must post the recipe- he wouldn’t stop licking me and I’m now afraid he won’t go back to plain carrots when the bag is gone.

 

 

 

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Sharing the Fails

Last week I got a message from someone who reads this literary masterpiece; she thanked me for sharing the fails I have with P, said that I was “brave” for doing so. And that got me thinking about what possesses me to actually do that. There’s the obvious: I mean, if I didn’t share the fails…all these posts would be maybe 25 words and a carefully edited video. And I’m not even good at video editing so it would inevitably be a terrible video.

In case you’re new here, enjoy a snippet of some recent nopes:

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What is this gate I have only jumped 12 dozen times?

 

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It’s obviously a much different fence than the one I JUST JUMPED. Saved us.

 

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We’re going, we’re going, aaaannnddd nope.

 

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Oh no…we only practiced one strides YESTERDAY

 

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P’s all, “This is why I stop, lady.”

 

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In our social media filled world, there’s a tendency to only put the good stuff out there. And that’s ok, too, but it’s not real life. Besides, I’ve met some of you (and hope to meet more!), and don’t want there to be any unrealistic expectations.

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I’m a Type A perfectionist through and through, and last year I was driving myself crazy with frustration when it came to riding. So much so that I stopped enjoying it. And the pressure that I put on myself to go ride my horse, even though I didn’t have the time to and frankly didn’t even want to, finally led me to putting him up for sale.

We all know how that turned out- obviously he’s back with me now. And even though things aren’t perfect, I’m trying to turn my attitude about our partnership around. Not saying I don’t get frustrated, but come on….I’m living my younger self’s dream. And younger self would have kicked present day me in the FACE for complaining about my horse. Because I HAVE A HORSE.

I may or may not have cried at the end of this vacation because my parents wouldn’t buy “Rocky” and bring him home with us. I mean, why not? He’s obviously a conformational dream.

So maybe my horse doesn’t put himself on the bit, and yes, he’s spooky and sometimes bolts after a jump, if he didn’t stop at it instead. But still…I have a horse and he’s pretty damn cool.

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Rocking his sunglasses

For example, this is how he meets me at the gate. Every single day.

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And this is what he does when I leave. Again, every single day.

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This is how he gets on the trailer, even if it’s the 3rd day in a row I’ve asked him to get on and the previous 2 days were for hard jump lessons or long jumper shows.

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This is how he treats child riders.

And non-horsey husbands:

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Need some help, bro?

He trail rides alone like a champ:

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And loves selfies. Seriously, if you hold a camera up in front of you, he’ll come over and stick his face in the screen:

He just loves cameras in general. Like when I’m all focused on the next fence and P is like, “Oh haaiiii there, camera lady. Make sure you get my good side.”

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This is he behaves off the property, pretty much anywhere we go. He actually calms ME down at shows because he’s so cool with whatever’s going on.

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And this is how we cross the finish flags on XC because he can be SO MUCH FUN:

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So there’s a lot to love about this horse. But thanks to my personality, I tend to focus more on the negative than the positive. And an AA + a tricky OTTB? Life DEFINITELY isn’t going to be perfect.

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Look, I’m not an incompetent person. I’m very successful in my career, in which I spend 50+ hours a week doing. And in comparison, I ride maybe 4-5 hours/week, sometimes less. So needless to say, I will never be this amazingly perfect rider. And I’ll just have to learn to be ok with that. Unless somehow I win the billionaire jackpot and can just ride horses all day.

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Unfortunately this is more realistic

I read quite a few other blogs and sometimes get a twinge of jealousy here and there. What’s it like to run around XC without racking up penalties? How did you not chip even just once in your SJ round? And why aren’t you pouring sweat in dressage, trying with all your might to have a smooth downward transition from the canter for once?

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But there are those of you that also share the same troubles I do: loss of confidence, asshole horse, feeling inadequate, etc. And I appreciate those the most because I can relate. So if anyone who’s reading this blog for whatever reason can maybe find a tiny bit of solace in the fact that they’re not alone in their troubles, I’m happy to have helped a little. Or given you something to laugh at. Either way.

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Aaaaalllll the Jumping

P and I have been to 3 jumper shows in 3 weeks, and have done all the rounds we could from 2′-2’6″. And at each show, he’s had at least one stop in the 1st round of the day, then no more after that.

So progress, I suppose, but still.

There’s not too much to say about the jumper show from this past weekend. I went alone since Husband is out of town and Trainer B was doing his own riding thing. I got there, tacked P up and told them to put me in the first class. There wasn’t a warmup area since the hunter part of the show was still going on, so there were no warmup jumps either. P and I started in the 2′ division, and went through the 2’6″ classes.

 

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Ps got the zoom zooms

 

Besides a stop in the first round at jump 2 (a stone wall), P was a rockstar, even saving us a few times. Like when I got us in deep to the triple (a 2 stride to a 1 stride) in the first 2’6″ class. P did A to B in a 2 + chip, and landed deep in the line from B to C. So I thought, “No problem, we’ll do a compressed 1 stride.”

Meanwhile P is all:

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The picture didn’t turn out as funny as I thought it would.

 

But we smoothed it out in the jumpoff and in the next 2’6″ class so it was all ok.

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Rollbacks? No problem

 

 

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Wheeeee

 

It wasn’t a very big show at all, which was just fine with me. Maybe 8-10 riders in the 2′ and 2’3″ and 5 in the 2’6″. So 2 hours & 6 rounds later, we gathered our satin and headed home!

Poor P just wanted his hay and I insisted on hanging all his ribbons from his halter. He’s so abused.

 

Yesterday we went to Trainer B’s for a lesson. The temps had gone from 90 to 65 degrees overnight, and it was super windy. When I pulled up to the barn, BO advised me I should probably lunge P, that he’d been flying like a kite when they brought him inside that morning. I seriously considered cancelling right then and there.

But I didn’t. Because what am I going to say? “Uhh, well, it’s a little windy and my horse doesn’t like wind so I think I’ll stay home.”

Yeah. No.

After recapping the show for Trainer B and warming up over a little jump in the trot and canter a few times, he starts looking around and muttering to himself. That’s never good.

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So he points out a course for me:

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  1. Cross-rail oxer
  2. Verticle
  3. Gate
  4. Verticle
  5. Gate
  6. Lattice
  7. Oxer with plank in the middle

Then asked me which jumps I thought P would stop at.

I said the lattice and the oxer with the plank, so he said to pretend I was at a show and to come in and trot him straight at the jumps I was most concerned about. While in eventing SJ you can’t actually walk them right up to the jump like you can in regular show jumping, you can present it to them from the side, which is the best way anyway. So I took P around those 2 jumps, then headed for jump 1.

P didn’t stop at a thing.

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But I didn’t want to get too excited. The jumps were pretty small, and mostly undecorated. So Trainer B changed that, then changed the course.

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  1. Turned into an oxer with flower pots underneath
  2. Stayed a verticle, but Trainer B added barrels underneath and plants moved on both sides
  3. Stayed the gate, Trainer B added a pole on top
  4. Stayed the small gate
  5. Stayed the lattice
  6. Added in a skinny
  7. Stayed the oxer with plank
  8. Stayed a verticle, added flowers underneath

So now I identified jumps 1, 2 and 6 as the potential culprits. P has notoriously been bad about jumping jumps that have changed shape, and he’s seen a skinny approximately one time in his life. So again, I “showed” him the jumps by trotting next to them, then we started.

And again, no stops.

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Even Trainer B was stumped. So he starts looking around again with a puzzled look on his face, and them goes and raises some jumps, adds more stuff under some others, including a black solid barrel under the skinny.

He changed the course also, but apparently my memory can only handle 2 courses per day (I went off course, oops) so I can’t even recreate it on paper. All I remember is thinking there was no way P was going to jump a skinny barrel.

So we’re coming around towards the barrel and I felt P hesitate, but this time I DIDN’T clamp, I booted him up and P flew right over it as well as the rest of the fences.

We pulled up and I’m not quite sure who was more shocked, me or Trainer B.

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P of course was just standing there, accepting all the praise and pats from the both of us like, “Geez, I just don’t want to go to another jumper show this weekend!”

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At that point, I suggested quitting while ahead and Trainer B concurred. The jumps were spooky, looked different each time we went around, and P was perfect. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Next Friday we’re going to jump out in the field and then the day after is a schooling HT that I’m entering.

Maybe there’s some hope yet.