Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Recap

Oops! I meant to post this yesterday but we had a house full of five kids. I got a little distracted...

So, the show. The rain! OMG it rained, it rained buckets of buckets of rain on Saturday. It was absolutely crazy. However, it did not rain while I was in the saddle. It was like a magical anti-rain shield around me. But in between dressage and stadium it was like we were living in a sea.


I don't have any pictures or video of our dressage test. It didn't rain while we were riding but it was very threatening the entire time so not many cameras out. Our test was okay. We scored a 33.8. I would say the judge was pretty generous. That score put us in 9th place. Our biggest issue with the test turned out to be bending. There was a monster hiding out by letter F and I didn't really ride that circle. Instead of really putting my leg on and making him move over I let him counter-bend. I think if my trainer had been able to warm us up we would've done better but she was riding her XC test. As it was I was mostly happy, though. Loki was very steady in the bridle. All of our scores were either 6.5 or 7s.
Nice & relaxed after our tests right before the skies opened up.

We had nearly 5 hours between dressage and stadium and like I said earlier it rained and rained the entire time. By the time the ring was open for us to walk our course I was so wet that I could feel water dripping down my legs into my socks. It was pretty darn miserable and all I wanted to do was go home to be honest. But my trainer and my husband talked me through it. We went back to the trailer to change and get dry and just sat listening to the rain for a while.

Finally it was time to get saddled up and wouldn't you know it but the rain stopped! Loki felt really good for warm-up. He was listening and on. My trainer's only complaint was that I needed more horse. I felt as prepared for stadium as I ever have. The course was extremely twisty and my biggest concern was simply remembering which way to go.

When it was our turn I had a different horse. Loki wasn't nearly as bad as he's been in the past but still there weren't a lot of brakes while on course. However, I was able to ride it so much better. I didn't panic and start immediately pulling on his mouth and I actually remembered to put my leg on some of the time. Still the round didn't look great. We tried really hard to bring down a couple of rings but they just weren't having it. They all stayed up and we finished inside the time! I had a pretty big grin on my face by the time we were done.

Most of our jumps looked okay but as you can see we still had a few awkward ones.
Oh and I forgot to mention that I did end up paying to have Loki's mane braided. I am fully capable of doing it myself but I am really out of practice and not that great at it to begin with. It was totally worth it to not have to stress about it and then to have him look so sharp for his pictures.


I wasn't nearly as nervous for XC the next day as I was for stadium. For whatever reason I just don't get as worried about XC. I think my trail riding past has a lot to do with it. But, probably the bigger reason is there aren't many people standing around watching on the XC course like there is in stadium.

XC ended up being a lot like stadium in the sense that I didn't have much horse during warm-up. Loki was totally chill and all like "whatever" but once we were out on course he turned into the fire breathing dragon I know and love. I was more prepared for it this time, though and other than having to circle once right before we headed downhill I was able to just let him gallop without fighting him too much. I was a little afraid we were going to be too fast but it turns out we were clear. I wish I could've found out what our actual time was. It always feels like we are flying out there. I haven't practiced much with learning pacing. I am very good at pacing the trot (for competitive trail) but not the gallop. But anyways we were clear! Which means WE FINISHED ON OUR DRESSAGE SCORE!! I am so excited about that in particular. We ended up in 6th place and really couldn't be happier with either of us. What a great way to end our time here in Ohio.

Our first or second jump. (Looks so tiny!)

Love this picture!

Another super awkward jump. I knew the cameraman was right there and it totally psyched me out!
I have some other thoughts but I'll have to save them for later.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


So, I've been missing for a while again. There's just so so much going on. Moving, back and forth to New York a couple times (we did get a house), trying to move my mother-in-law into her new apartment in the middle of her two heart surgeries, the list goes on. So I will try to sum it up as quickly as possible and then get to the good stuff.

First, our house:

 Jay and I participated in what is called the "housing draw" for an on-post house at West Point. This was a very interesting and stressful experience. There were something like 42 houses available and Jay was the 29th person in line to pick. Believe me not all houses are created equal on post. Somehow, even though Jay picked 29th we ended up with our 3rd choice. My conclusion: God is just good that way! It's an end unit so only sharing one wall with the neighbors and it has a fenced yard for the dog.

The other good news is we got an exception to policy in order to have all of our animals there. So no more worrying about what we are going to do with two extra cats. That is a huge blessing and relief.

Second the horse:
After some XC schooling we were feeling pretty darn good for our upcoming event at Midsouth. Loki and I were in sync and honestly doing the best we've ever done.

I hate that his left knee is down but otherwise love this picture!

Hey look I can even smile when I'm jumping scary jumps!
Unfortunately all this great preparation came before we went to New York for the housing draw. When I got home we only had about a week for final preparations and I was definitely not feeling so great anymore. I had three, yes THREE! falls right before our show. And all of them were simply from my brain taking a vacation I guess form all the stress of stuff going on.

The first fall was from me not noticing Loki had been bitten on his back before I saddled him up to ride (It wasn't a huge, open wound just a small knot that I missed). He was totally fine until he spooked and I landed hard on him and then he channeled his inner mustang and bucked halfway down the arena. I was really pissed until I saw what had caused it and then I felt bad. The second fall was me not paying attention and jumping halfway up Loki's neck and the third fall came when I was trying to get on and realized I had forgotten something. Instead of just getting all the way on and then getting down I tried to take my foot out of the stirrup got stuck, lost my balance, freaked Loki out and then fell on my rear when he ran off. Seriously did not feel ready for Midsouth anymore!

But my trainer would not let me quit. And I'm glad she didn't. Since this is already so long I'll wait to sum up the whole event but I'll leave you with a couple of pictures to give you an idea of how it went. :)

Still not perfect, I wish my rear were closer to the saddle and I wasn't biting my lip (seriously terrible habit) but otherwise love this picture.
Why yes that is a ribbon! Our very first USEA ribbon!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

In The Moment - No, Not That Moment!

First let me start with an apology for the down in the dumps post written previously. Honestly, I should've waited a little longer before writing that because I was still sort of "in the moment" and so not the moment to live in. Now that I've gotten some extra sleep, ridden my horse and found time to ponder I'm feeling much better.

I have three perfectly good barn options for the move and lots of upcoming chances to make new friends and learn new things. Who knows maybe Loki and I will play in the hunters for a little while. Loki has been getting more and more adjustable lately. (Truth be told the hunter world is totally intimidating to me - the ability to get the striding right through an entire course of jumps and make it look like no big deal = major talent!) And if we go to the West Point barn which I think we will I'll only be a 5-7 minute drive away. That is something I am very much looking forward to.

Oh and for anyone who might be worried about our cats, don't be. They will be taken care of one way or another. We're not the kind of people to just dump them at the nearest animal shelter. I'm not sure what the plan is yet but we'll think of something.

Here is a better moment and one I'd much rather live in than the worry and stress of moving:
Right before we left for New York I went XC schooling with a bunch of folks from the barn. I didn't know that our photographer friend was going to be there so we weren't the best turned out but I was still so excited to be able to get pictures.

I haven't seen any others yet but this is the one that I especially requested. This is the training level trakehner at Twin Towers. I know it looks incredibly little in the picture but believe me it looks much larger in person. Loki and I took a while to warm up that day but when we got there it felt so easy and natural like putting on warm, fuzzy slippers. There was no rushing, there was no nit-picking all the way up to the jump, I didn't get left behind (at least not often) It just felt right.

It used to be that when I put my leg on and asked Loki to move up into the bit his response was to grab the bit, bear down and run around like a freight train on his forehand but now he is finally starting to understand that there are other options. Now when I put my leg on and ask he is starting to respond by moving up not just faster. I really never thought we would get here. We still have a long way to go but this is a major accomplishment for my off track boy and his strictly amateur mom.

I really, truly could go on and on about how great it was... but I won't. :) I'll leave it here. If you left a comment in the earlier posts that I haven't responded to just know that I did see them and I really appreciate all of them. I've just been super busy and haven't had the time I'd like to respond. Thank you so much for your kind words, though!

Oh! and we did sign up for Mid-south Pony Club Horse Trial! (I sold my old saddle so got some extra money to go, yippee!) So we'll hopefully (*knock on wood) get to do one event this summer and it is on my birthday so hopefully a great weekend. It's not till June but I'll keep you updated. TTFN!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Highs, Lows and Really Lows

I was hoping to have fun, exciting news to share today but unfortunately I don't. Jay and I just got back from our trip up to West Point and it turned out to be pretty disappointing. I had hoped I'd be able to share about some really cute house we were attempting to buy and neat barns I had found but that just didn't happen.

I did look at three barns and none of them were bad, they were all doable so I don't mean to sound as disparaging as I do. The first barn was pretty nice but a little disappointing for what they charge for board and compared to the pictures on their website. It had an indoor and outdoor arena, nice stalls and some trails. The downside was the price and the feeling I had that I would really stick out like a sore thumb. It was very much a hunter/jumper barn and a quarter horse barn. Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against either of those things it's just that the feeling I got was that I would be the weirdo.
One thing every place had in common was amazing views.
The second barn was a bit of a drive. The property was large and the owner was in the process of re-fencing a lot of it so it was a little rough but with the potential to get a lot better. This place had the most amazing indoor arena I've ever seen that was not in a big horse park of some sort. I couldn't even begin to guess at it's size but I wouldn't be surprised a bit if it was as large as 200X300. Seriously it was immaculate with jumps that you see in places like the Kentucky Horse Park. The outdoor arena was a lot smaller than the indoor but still usable. Both arenas had state of the art footing and the outdoor had another set of competition style jumps. There were also trails and a very, very small set of XC type jumps out in a grassy field. The owner is a former Grand Prix show jumper. He did lots of name dropping and had lots of pictures from "back in the day." He's retired now. The downside to this place are the distance, and the lack of borders. I think there was only one or two other borders and I would be riding by myself a lot as the owner has another business during the day.
I'm kicking myself for not getting a picture of that indoor but here are some of the paddocks.
And finally I checked out the West Point Stables. This is an older barn and it is a little run down. However, the people were very friendly, the horses all looked well fed and cared for. There was plenty of turn out areas, although it seems like turn out is limited during certain parts of the year. There are three outdoor arenas but no indoor. There is also a small xc course and lots of trails. The lack of an indoor scares me but the manager said they do plow the outdoor arenas in snow and as long as the temperatures don't get too low they do still ride through the winter. She was honest that the last couple of winters have been very rough, though. The thing that excited me the most about this barn, though, was that the manager was a former Pony Club Graduate and eventer. She knows the eventing scene and that made me feel a little better. I can't find any pictures of this place but you can see a little bit at this link.

Right now it looks like we are going to try and live on post and I plan to board at the West Point Stables. It's a compromise just like every other choice out there but the benefits are less driving for both Jay and me, good schools for the kids and a community with people who share similar backgrounds. The downsides are we can only have two pets. This alone has already caused many, many tears for me and the kids. We don't have an answer yet as to what our plan is but we know that we will most likely have to re-home two of our cats. Our hope is that Jay's mom will take them for us but I don't know. The other downside is that we have no idea what our house will be like or if we'll even get one for a while. It's a long story but basically there are about 50 incoming officers in Jay's grade and right now there are only 18 available houses. Not everyone of those officers will choose to live on post and more houses will most likely come available but still the numbers are not great. If there is no house available that means we have to live in temporary housing until something comes available. Basically it just means a lot of being unsettled.

Sorry for the super long post. Believe me I'm leaving a ton of stuff out. This past week reminded me of all the reasons I really hate being in the military. It's not all bad and I shouldn't complain but it is tough more often than not. Big changes coming at the end of this summer and right now it just looks like a big, black pit of despair looming ahead.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Rolex Blast & What's In Store

My sister and I had a great time at Rolex this weekend. One of the best times I've had. It was so much fun to just stay in a hotel instead of driving back and forth. We got to relax, shop and see amazing ponies. It just doesn't get a whole lot better than that.

The only down side was Saturday was really crappy weather, cold and wet. So we didn't see as much of the XC course as we normally would've but since we could go back and see a lot of it online I don't feel like we missed out too much.

Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch

Sadly, I believe this is Emily Cammock & Dambala. Dambala suffered a major
injury and had to be put down on Sunday.
 Sunday was by far the best day. We got amazing seats for show jumping and were able to see all the things!
Our view

Boyd Martin & Cracker Jack

Philip Dutton & I forget which horse.

Michael Jung (Truly an amazing equestrian & athlete) & Fischerrocana FST

William Fox Pitt & Bay My Hero

Michael Jung & La Biosthetique Sam

Tim Price & Wesko (absolutely gorgeous horse)
In all a pretty awesome weekend. Plus my shopping was fairly moderate. I still spent a lot more than I intended considering the move and many many expenses coming up in the future. I got a new Stubben girth, new leathers that were about 54% off on Sunday and one sweatshirt. My sister came home with a bunch of really cool stuff including new, beautiful Lorenzini stirrups which she kindly let me try out yesterday.
Sadly my camera settings were off so you really can't see the
coolness that were our stirrups but believe me they were super cool!
Jay is graduating soon and we are getting ready to take a trip up to New York to look at houses, schools and barns. Lots of exciting, scary, sad and other overwhelming emotional things are heading our way soon. My next post should be about finding a new barn and how do you choose when no choice is going to give you everything you want for a price you can afford? 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Moving On

It's the last weekend of April guys and you know what that means...

Heck yeah!

For a Christmas present my sister bought us tickets for Friday-Sunday and is paying for us to stay in a hotel so we don't have to drive back and forth. I'm very excited!

Eventing, especially at the upper-levels, is in need of some change. There have been too many accidents, too many deaths and that does put a damper on it for me but I still love this sport and I'm super hopeful that we will begin to see some positive changes that will help to improve the safety of the sport at all levels. And hopefully they aren't limited to weird name changes like Equestrathon!

Sporting my OTTB shirt and blue breeches and sadly messy hair.

In other news I've started riding "normally" again. Loki has been super-duper sound (that's a technical term) and so we finally started a bit of jumping last week. In fact we took the trailer out for it's inaugural haul all the way to Lexington to jump school at Masterson Station. It was incredibly beautiful and Loki was incredibly good and on it. He is really growing up guys. We can now have a balanced counter to the jump about 85% of the time. The other 15% is usually because I've forgotten to ride for it. Of course I have no pictures from the school but I do have a couple of meh ones from a few days before.

Something very interesting on the ground

The best thing was Loki was still totally sound the next day and the day after that and has been sound since. We've done a few other things here and there but nothing exciting enough to write about much. I do think that if we are able to make it to an event this year we have a good chance of actually being successful. Well... our flat work is in need of some serious TLC but our jumping is much improved at least. I'm hoping we can make it to Midsouth Pony Club. It's on my birthday so we'll see.

Anyways more exciting things later. :)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

It's Big!

Equine Affair Ohio was this past Thursday through today. My sister and I headed up yesterday. We arrived around 10:30 and didn't leave until 4:00. And I didn't buy one thing the entire day other than food. However, I did pick up a very big something that I bought a few weeks ago and have been waiting for it to arrive.
It's so pretty!
We finally bit the bullet and bought our next horse trailer. Honestly, I am feeling terribly guilty (and excited of course). It's so much and so nice and so... much!
We took the mats out to check out the floors and make sure everything was looking good.
I got a few custom things added to it such as a door that goes from the horse area to the tack area (very handy if you ever camp in your trailer which I often do at events) and extra horse ties on the outside.
Interior door
If we weren't moving this summer I would have gone much longer without having my own trailer. Between my trainer and my sister I would have always had a ride if needed but constantly moving to a new place, never knowing for sure what it will be like or who you will meet... It just makes having your own set of wheels so much more important.
So I am now on a very tight budget for the rest of the summer, year, many years... who knows. We bought new so we could finance but the plan is to pay it off early and as soon as possible. Hopefully things will work out that way. It's hard to know for sure with the move and not knowing where we'll live and so many things. We're going to be taking a trip up to West Point in a few weeks to look at houses, schools and barns. Maybe I'll have a better idea then.

But even though I probably won't be doing much showing this summer I am hoping to take the new trailer out for many trail rides and local stuff. After all you gotta break it in!