Sunday, July 29, 2012

XC Schooling Day

We had an amazing ride today. The grass is so green again and the ground is about a million times better than the last time I went. Loki was about a million times better too. We have had no run outs (knock on wood) in at least the past two weeks and we had none today and we did pretty much all of the beginner novice fences. WooHoo! The jumping is feeling great. We do still have some work to do, though. We are still having trouble with those darn shoulders (particularly the right). I've been working on bending to the right at the canter a lot but it was obvious today that much more work needs to be done. Most of our work of late has been in an arena with a fence so cantering in a circle in a wide open field definitely made the trouble spots much more obvious. Still, it was a fantastic day and I know it will only get better. I just wish I had more time!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Names Again

I had to drop Jay off at the airport. His visit was short but sweet. The kids and I will have a long flight soon, too. I can't help but wish that this part of our lives would be over already. I know I should enjoy all of these moments but... well, anyways we still have a couple more weeks to enjoy.

It's finally started raining on a semi-regular basis. I love the thunderstorms even though I now cringe whenever I hear they are coming, wondering if we'll be without power for a few days again. The grass is starting to look green again and the footing in the grass arena is softening up. I'm hopefully going XC schooling tomorrow and I can't wait. For now the future is very bright.

I'm a little bit worried about Loki's weight. I'm not sure exactly when I first noticed him looking so skinny but all the sudden he does (to me). His coat is still nice and shiny and he doesn't look horrible or anything but I'm not used to seeing ribs so easily. While I love the pictures from the previous post I do think he looks a bit on the skinny side and I'm trying to decide what if anything to do about it.  Lori tends to like her horses to be and look fit so I'm not sure she even sees the need to do anything at this point and I haven't broached the topic with her yet. All of my other horses have been extremely easy keepers and I've always had the opposite problem of trying to keep fat off so I feel a little out of my depth on this one. 

I've also had a change of heart about names. Since we haven't done any rated events yet I have not registered Loki with the USEA. I've been thinking about it for a while now and I think I'm going to keep his show name the same as his Jockey Club name, Too Many Whyz. Basically, I'm just super proud of my ex-race horse. Changing his name sort of feels a little disrespectful to his past. (It does help that I really like his JC name. It's not Joe's Star or something worse.) His barn name will still be Loki and it will still keep the same meaning to me, a reminder to stay calm and low key. But, since I won't be registering him until next spring I suppose I could always change my mind again. Ha!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pictures Finally!

Time does fly when you are having fun! It's super annoying on the one hand because I have all kinds of fun things that I'd love to write about but I've been very busy and when I'm not busy I've been too tired to put any energy into writing.

An example of some of the exciting happenings over the past couple of weeks is Olympian Joe Meyer came to the farm and gave lessons and I got to watch and learn a lot. I also got to watch and take lots of pictures the next day for a XC schooling clinic with Joe. You can read about it here. I learned a lot just by watching and listening. At the time I didn't feel like Loki and I were at a place where it would be worth the money to take a lesson ourselves but if he comes back we will be. Loki's half-brother, Monte was a super star for the clinic. It was so much fun. 

I went as a groom to Champagne Run with my trainer and another barn friend. I learned quite a bit there as well. For one thing I learned how to put studs in and how to take them out. I also got a first hand lesson on why having control of your horse's shoulder is so important. I was watching XC warm-up when a girl lost her horse's shoulder as she was riding towards me. We got a pretty hard rain right before and when the girl pulled on the rein to try and steer her horse ended up slipping out from under her and practically in my lap. It was a little unnerving but everybody turned out alright. Both Rio and Monte finished on their dressage scores. Rio is finally coming back from his choke episode earlier this summer and Monte is proving to be quite the exciting prospect.

Loki and I went to another hunter schooling show and I can't say how proud I am of both of us. We are definitely progressing. We got a 6th and 3rd (out of 10 horses) in our jumping classes. He's finally starting to understand his job and we are definitely starting to form a good partnership. Unfortunately we didn't place in our flat class b/c we blew the right lead. That was my fault because I didn't wait and make sure he was properly set up for the correct lead but I was proud of him anyways. I wasn't sure how he would do in a flat class with so many entries but there was no need to worry. He was very ridable and other than that one blown lead he looked amazing. 

And finally my husband came home for a week. It was a surprise and we didn't tell the kids he was coming. Let me just say that the look on my kids' faces when they saw him was beyond priceless. Another plus to him being home for a week was he came out to the barn to take some pictures for me.

These next pictures are from the combined schooling show earlier this summer.

 I had to add the following picture because it sort of makes me laugh. We had a couple of deer jumps over this course but we haven't had any in a couple of weeks.
 After that last fence I was determined to NOT catch Loki in the mouth:
 Better but still not great:
I can't wait until I can finally get some nice jumping pictures of the two of us but unfortunately that probably won't happen until next summer.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Finding My Inner Pollyanna

Just in case anyone isn't familiar with Pollyanna:

  • From wikipedia: Pollyanna is a best-selling 1913 novel by Eleanor H. Porter that is now considered a classic of children's literature, with the title character's name becoming a popular term for someone with the same optimistic outlook.
  • and: The title character is named Pollyanna Whittier, a young orphan who goes to live in Beldingsville, Vermont, with her wealthy but stern Aunt Polly. Pollyanna's philosophy of life centers on what she calls "The Glad Game", an optimistic attitude she learned from her father. The game consists of finding something to be glad about in every situation. It originated in an incident one Christmas when Pollyanna, who was hoping for a doll in the missionary barrel, found only a pair of crutches inside. Making the game up on the spot, Pollyanna's father taught her to look at the good side of things—in this case, to be glad about the crutches because "we didn't need to use them!"

Disney's 1960s film based on the book was one of my favorites as a kid.

You know one thing I've found about getting older and more "experienced" is that being positive gets harder and harder and in all honesty I've never found being positive to be all that easy to begin with. It's so much easier to be cynical and negative. But I've decided this is something I really want to change about myself. My #1 goal for however long it takes is to be a positive person.

I come from a family with a lot of negativity. Most notably is my grandmother on my Mom's side. Granted, she does have a whole heck of a lot of reasons to be negative. She's buried 8 (or 9 not sure exactly) siblings including two that died in a house fire when she was very young. She's buried 2 of her 3 children and a grandson and she's also lost two husbands both of whom were alcoholics. To say she's had a hard life would truly be an understatement. But it can be very hard to spend time with her sometimes. The negativity that surrounds her keeps her from being able to enjoy the things that are still in her life including her daughter and several grandchildren.

My Mom has told me on many occasions that I'm "not allowed to let her behave like her mother." Well, that's all well and good but what I've come to realize is that this is something you have to catch in it's earliest stages. A lifetime of negativity can and will make you a person other people won't want to be around but it's a gradual thing and I've found myself on that road dwelling way too much on the negative things in my life instead of enjoying the plethora of positives.

The fact is bad things are going to happen to all of us. I'm not saying that we won't or shouldn't ever be sad, mad, annoyed or plain ole' upset but I want my overall outlook on life to be positive. I want to enjoy the good things that I have instead of letting the bad things rule my emotions. Being negative or positive is not about your circumstances but it really does have everything to do with how you choose to react and what things you choose to dwell on. I'm hoping that sharing my goal publicly will help me to be more consientious about choosing to be positive. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Painful Purchase

The summer is flying by. I knew it would but it still is going much faster than I'd like. This was brought home solidly today when I had to make one of the most painful purchases ever. Today I had to da da da dum buy airline tickets for the return trip to Japan.
Yeah, that's how I feel about that. Okay, I am excited to see my hubby again and be in our own space but I really really really don't want to go back! I'm also super not looking forward to that flight. Three kids traveling for 22 hours straight. Yeah, that is NOT fun for anybody.

(Sigh) I still have approximately 6 weeks left and I'm certainly going to try and enjoy them as much as I can. I also have to remind myself that we only have 9 months left and then we'll be back in the states for good.

BTW, I did order some photos from the last show but for some reason it is going to take a very long time before I get them. I'll share them someday.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dressage At Warp Speed

Where to begin...

The show was an overall wonderful experience. We went and accomplished every goal we had. Of course our goals were pretty simplistic and were along the lines of stay on and don't die! Okay, actually my goal was to just have a positive experience and I think that was mission accomplished.

It was a very long day starting at about 4:15 in the morning. I was the first of our group to ride at 8:21 and we had about an hour drive so we started off nice and early. We drove through some rain and wind and even some lightning so when we got to the show grounds we were not surprised to find out that they had decided to delay for an hour for the storms to pass. I was very happy to hear this because it meant extra time to get ready and warm-up.

I could have used a button like this!
Unfortunately, we found out about 8 MINUTES BEFORE I was supposed to be in the ring that the show organizers had changed their minds about the delay. Yep, I had about 8 minutes to get my horse saddled and both of us ready to ride our test. I got to the warm-up ring and was able to trot around and canter in one direction before they called me in for my test.

I was not surprised (and you might not be either) to read the judges comments about our test later that day. Pretty much all of the comments went along the lines of "... nice [blank] but quick." The judges final comment was "attractive horse but quick at times." Honestly, I have to go by what the comments were on my test sheet b/c I seriously don't remember anything about the test except that there were no major problems, no big spooks and I obviously remembered the test since I didn't have any errors. In the back of my head there was a small voice telling me to slow the heck down but after the utter panic attack of trying to just make it to my test on time I simply was not able to regroup and ride the test I know we are capable of. Also, not surprisingly, we didn't score all that well and were in 7th place after Dressage with a score of 39.5.

After the whirlwind that was dressage we had a loooong wait for jumping that didn't start until 1300. For some reason I was super nervous, I mean even more nervous than usual. It's possible I was still jittery from the morning but for whatever reason I didn't ride the best for jumping BUT we made it over everything!! No time faults and no jump penalties put us up into 5th place!
My girls were so excited that I won a PINK ribbon. Who cares about placings give us pink!!

I will say that our jumping style leaves a lot to be desired at the moment. Problems that we haven't had at home for a while popped back up at the show. Mainly I had a runaway a couple of times. Someone asked my trainer why I didn't just get a bigger bit and we both agreed that that would definitely not be the right answer in this case. Loki's answer to stress is to run, that is what he was trained to do for three years and the reason he ran off a bit with me at the show was simply his answer to a stressful situation. (Not to mention the couple of times I froze and got him in the mouth over a jump. Yeah, we definitely don't need or want a bigger bit!)  I was not riding the best because of my own nerves. And the thing is he's never been dangerous, he is smart enough to not hurt himself in panic (and I'd much rather have this than him bucking or worse). It just sometimes takes us a few seconds longer to slow down and get it back together. (I'm sure it looks a lot worse than it feels!) I know that we will get there we just need more experience under our belt mainly so I can stop freaking out because it is a show. I know once I get my own nerves under control he will be a completely different animal. But, the fact that he went over everything the first time was a major victory for us and we actually did have a fair number of very nice fences. He thought about running out at the very last fence (a very scary and bright yellow/green plank fence) and I just gave him a tap on his offending (in this case left) shoulder and he just bunny hopped right over it. Hunters we are not (at the moment) and it certainly wasn't pretty at times but by golly we got it done!

So yes, I would say it was a very positive experience for us. There was a photographer there but I don't know yet if there will be any photos available or not. I'm keeping an eye on the website to see if something comes up but I'm not holding my breath. Someday I am going to get some pictures of us in action but for now all I have is another trailer picture.
Chilling out after a hard day's work. I did fix his lead rope after these pictures.

That is Loki's half-brother Mr. Monte peeking out. He also had a nice day with no jump penalties.