Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Wall

I've hit it, that proverbial wall that just sometimes stops you in your tracks.

I was supposed to show again today and didn't. Part of that is because Ghazal had some medical issues:

i.e. he tried to rip the underside of his face off
 It wasn't really an emergency-emergency. It wasn't even bleeding by the time I got to the barn but on top of this lovely wound his face is also swollen. The right side above his eye and a large swelling under his neck just above the cut. He also has these:
Just weird
I'm not sure what these are but he has a couple of them on his face. They are perfect circles. It almost looks as though someone burned him with a cigarette.
Everything itches Mom
Honestly he looks pretty dang miserable. My sister is going to start keeping him in during the day to at least limit his exposure to insects but I'm just not 100% sure if that is really the issue. I do think he is allergic to something, though. I'll have the vet out a.s.a.p. and I'm going to see about getting him a steroid shot. The vet had mentioned it to me before. It's certainly not a long-term solution but I'm hoping it will at least get him some relief while we try to figure out something more sustainable that we can do to help him. Poor guy! :(

But honestly, even with all that I could have still made it to the show but I chose to hang out with my sis instead. It was really nice to just hang and chat, much needed! Even before I got the call about Ghazal I was literally dragging myself to the car to get going. I don't know, I guess all the events of the past week or so have just finally caught up with me and kicked my derriƩr. And four shows in a row, I have decided, are just too much. Even though two of those shows were schooling shows at home I'm still just worn out and I think Loki needs a break too.

My trainer is trying to plan another event in August but unfortunately there are none really close by in the time frame we need. She's talking about going to Richland Park in Tennessee. It's about five hours from here. I was looking into it and calculated that between the entry fees, trailering fees and schooling fees it would be almost $700! for ONE show! and that doesn't even include food, bedding, etc. I just don't know how anyone can afford to do more than one or two events in a year.

So that won't be happening for us. Instead I foresee lots of trail riding and maybe a couple of local schooling shows in our future. Mostly I am okay with that. I do wish I could go just to get more miles on Loki and myself but I know we will still have fun this summer and Jump Start is the plan for September.

And just to leave us with a happier note:
Pixel has bat ears after her bath :)


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Kicking On

Sorry it has been a while. A lot has happened but I find myself without a lot of energy left for blogging.

We ended up going to Midsouth last weekend after all because there is not going to be a traditional funeral for Jay's Dad. Instead we will be having a memorial service in July. The weekend was already planned and we decided it would be better to be doing something rather than sitting at home with nothing to do.

But let me first say Thank you for all the condolences. Your kind words were much appreciated.

So on to how the weekend went. I'm going to be as brief as possible so let's just say things didn't go so great for us.
No dressage pictures because Jay's camera battery died.
Dressage This was by far our worst dressage score we've received, I think ever. But I don't feel too horribly about it because there were a lot of mitigating circumstances. First of all my trainer brought Loki up on Thursday but I couldn't get there until Friday night so he was stuck in a stall for 24 hours. I rode him for about an hour Friday night and he was very high energy. Then he was in his stall again all night and still had tons of energy the next morning. In hindsight I wish I had gone ahead and found a place to lunge him before we rode. I think it would have helped.

The other factors that worked against us was warm-up. Dressage warm-up was just crazy and we got nearly run into about twice with one horse cantering past us so closely that I could have reached out and touched her with my foot still in the stirrup. Loki pretty much lost it at that point and I just never quite got him back.

Also, my trainer had her cross country round at the exact same time as my dressage so I had no help in warming-up. It is probably good practice for me but I think had she been there I would have been able to work through Loki's tension much better instead of just reacting with my own tension.

I still can't complain too much because despite being very tense Loki was still very obedient and we rode every movement even if it wasn't very pretty. We had one slight bobble where Loki broke out of our second canter early but that was mainly from me just not keeping my leg on. We scored a 42.5 and that put us tied for 7th.

Stadium Strangely stadium warm-up was much better for us. Loki was much more relaxed and I went into stadium feeling pretty confident. The course was mega simple. Unfortunately we had three rails. They were all my fault. Loki jumped the first fence beautifully but got a little unbalanced. I pulled him up before the second but once again forgot to add leg so he just got flat and hollow and never got his knees up. The same thing happened with the third fence. Fences four, five and six rode much better but I'm not sure what happened at fence seven. He spooked or something and deer jumped it which caused my left foot to come out of the stirrup. (Don't grab with your knee!) All of this carried over to fence 8 where we had our third rail.  Loki really wasn't bad. If I ever remember to just add lots more leg we are going to have an awesome round. Saturday just wasn't the day.
Sadly, one of our better efforts
Riding very defensively

Cross Country Well, what can I say about it? We had one run-out at the first of a three stride combination that was set on a downhill. I really can't blame my horse (again!) because I just wasn't supporting him with my leg nearly enough at all, especially because jumping downhill still freaks me out. But honestly most of the course went fairly well other than I am still freaking myself out thinking we are going mock 2000. Seriously I have visions of someone running after us, yelling that I am riding dangerously and out of control. However, Lindsey from Alchemy Eventing, whom I got to meet at Midsouth this past weekend (she is just as cool in person as she seems on her blog) happened to record the last part of my run and I have to say it left me smacking my head. We are going soooooo slooooow! I don't know what is wrong with me when I get on the cross country course but I have got to get past this. I need to let him run and use my leg to keep him from getting flat.


There was one fence we jumped that was amazing, though. It was a brush fence (#6). I was a little worried we'd stop at it because it looked huge but Loki locked on and we went right over and it felt freaking fantastic. I have a picture ordered of that fence but don't have it yet. The rest of these photos are all from Jay.
First fence
My favorite photo from Jay. Over the second fence
Third fence
Fence 9b
up the bank (11)
Last fence (17)
On the way home
At the end of the day we completed the event. We still have lots of work but as tempted as I am to be really bummed out about it I've decided I'm just not going there. I had a lot of fun this weekend. I battled nerves of course but in-between and after I really enjoyed myself. I will probably be taking a break from showing for a while aside from a few schooling shows here and there. I find myself feeling a little burnt out but still ready to battle back sometime in the future.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Off Course

Sometimes life throws something at us that just pushes us right off whatever road we think we're on. Today we got news that my father-in-law passed away. It wasn't entirely unexpected as he had been sick for a while but it was much more sudden than we were prepared for.

This day also happens to be my birthday. It's been a whirlwind of emotions for sure. I was supposed to leave for Midsouth with my trainer this afternoon and was actually at the barn packing when my husband called with the news. To go from sunshine to storm in such an abrupt fashion has left me feeling rattled? confused? Honestly I'm not sure. Still a little numb behind the sadness I guess.

But, in the midst of this I have to stop and just recognize how blessed I am, truly beyond measure. Death and loss have a way of reminding you of all that you have and I have so much. I am so thankful for my faith. Honestly, I don't know how I would face these kinds of things without the peace it brings. I am thankful for my freedom to express my faith just as I am thankful for your freedom to agree or disagree. I am thankful for my husband. We have been through so much together and there were times when I didn't think we'd make it and yet here we are going strong. I don't know where I would be without him. He is my rock and my best friend and the best person I have ever known. I am thankful for my kids. They are wonderful and wonderfully flawed and I can't imagine my life without them and I love them more than I ever thought I could possibly love anyone or anything. I am thankful for my horses and the animals in my life. They are so important to me and I know I am lucky to have them. I am thankful for my amazing friends who jumped in when they found out about Jay's dad. My trainer, who immediately offered to bring Loki down and compete him for me if I couldn't make it and our intern who right away gave him a bath for me and helped us pack. And another friend who offered to keep my kids as long as we needed. In the midst of this sadness there really is so much to be grateful for.

I honestly didn't get to spend much time with Jay's dad. Just enough to realize he was a pretty awesome guy, definitely flawed like the rest of us but a great guy none the less. And there is no doubt that Jay inherited a lot of really great qualities from him. How could I not like someone who helped to create and shape the man that I love? I am thankful for the time we did have and I will always be grateful to him because he gave me one of the best gifts of all.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. ~Psalm 34:18
 He will wipe every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. ~Revelations 21:4

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Psych Up or Psych Out

I've only had my new saddle for a couple of days and we've already shown in it once. We had a dressage schooling show on Saturday and I rode one test. Just the beginner novice B test. I figured we'd get one more practice in before Midsouth this coming weekend.
After our test
The test did not feel like our best. The only way I can describe it is I felt hesitant as I was riding. I think part of it is definitely adjusting to the new saddle. I've ridden in my old saddle for so long that I know it is going to take some getting used to this new one.

But our score did not reflect how I felt. We actually got the best score we have had to date, A 32.5. I've ridden for this judge before and she is notoriously generous but her comments are usually really positive and helpful and she is consistent. I bumped into her during the lunch break and she commented that Loki is looking much better than the last time she saw him and how he's really bulked up. It was very nice to hear!

But I find myself wondering if I'm heading for a big psych out next weekend at midsouth. We've had a lot of successes here lately but these are all little schooling shows (on our own property no less!) and not to belittle myself or my fellow competitors but the competition at Midwouth will be much stiffer. But even though it is silly I still feel this pressure building in the back of my mind saying I need to continue being successful.

So I guess I need to define what success is going to look like next weekend. What does success look like? Is it just the safe standby of if I have fun and don't die it's successful? Or is it getting some specific score and jump clear? How much pressure do I put on us? I'm honestly not sure. I'm going to have to think about it. The only thing I really want to happen is for us to be able to jump without our usual fight, me nitpicking and Loki blowing through my half halts. I just want to be able to get through stadium and XC with some semblance of fluidity. Oh and to smile. I want to remember to smile! :)
Me in the new saddle. I'm feeling a little self-conscious about it still. In some of the pictures I think it still looks big for me but in others like the one above it seems just right. Saddle fit seems like such a subjective/personal thing. It feels good but different so until I get used to it I'm just not going to be 100% sure that it was a good decision. I'm hopeful, though!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Happy And Broke

They do seem to go hand in hand pretty often!

Well, it's here! My fitter got to the barn promptly at 10:00. When I took the cover off my saddle I got a surprise because I had totally forgotten I added the red piping. I was like "ooooh red!" Ha!

Seriously, it is very pretty!
Score! free leathers! Sadly it looks like I'm going to have to trim them. Dang short legs!
 And it fits Loki like a glove!
I also had D's put on both sides of the saddle for when I trail ride.
My fitter did have to add a little extra flocking to the front of the saddle just behind Loki's withers. Loki was right in between a medium and a medium-narrow and we opted to go with the medium in the hopes that he will eventually build a little more muscle. (We can only hope!)

I can't say that I got on and rode off into the sunset right away. It took some finigaling to get things just so. I had to raise my stirrups three times before I finally hit the "sweet spot." I also paid a little extra to have the thigh blocks attach via Velcro instead of sewn on and I'm sure glad I did. I've moved them around a couple of times and I'm still not sure if they are quite right. Since I don't have a dressage saddle I'll probably take them off all together when we do our dressage tests.

However when it was all said and done I was super pleased! Realistically I know that a new saddle, even one custom fitted, isn't a magical wand that will suddenly make me ride like a pro. However, it is still really exciting to have a saddle that actually fits! Also, I really can't say how happy I am that I went with Black Country. The quality is every bit as nice as the French saddles I've looked at (in my opinion) and literally cost half the $$ (and that half was painful enough!). My point is if you are on a limited budget but still really want that custom feel of a nicely made saddle you really should check Black Country out.

Hopefully I'll get pictures of me in the saddle soon but most likely not until the weekend after next when we are at the KYHP for Midsouth Pony Club Rally. This weekend we have a dressage schooling show.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Friday Friday Friday!

I got the word today that my saddle is definitely here in the U.S. in fact it is in Kentucky and has been delivered to my saddle fitter. We have an appointment on Friday and he is bringing it out. I am so excited! I've never purchased a saddle made especially for me and my horse and I sure hope it lives up to my expectations!

Also, I just sent in my entry for my first ever novice level combined test. I'm not 100% sure we are ready for it so I'm entered in beginner novice as well. We'll do that level first and if everything goes well we'll do the novice. Maybe we are starting to grow up? Of course we have midsouth first next weekend. I'm pretty nervous about it but hopefully it will go well. If we can jump like we did at our last show I have lots of hope for us!

Nothing else exciting to report. I've been stuck at home the past two days due to some scheduling conflicts with the family. I can't say I'm too sad as it has rained cats and dogs both days. I'm heading back out to the barn tomorrow. We have a dressage schooling show on the farm this weekend. We're only riding one test just for some practice.
Hopefully we'll be jumping something like this next weekend!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Belated

I didn't get any pictures from the actual show so I went ahead and took one today. Not as exciting as an action shot but still fun. :)
Loki wasn't nearly as excited about this photo op as I was, lol
In other news my saddle supposedly shipped on Friday and as long as it doesn't get hung up in customs it is supposed to be here sometime this week. (insert me jumping up and down) It is being shipped to my saddle fitter and he will bring it out to make sure everything fits and is good to go. I can't wait!!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Success

Success comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes success looks like a blue ribbon and sometimes success simply means making it around the full course without dying. Well today Loki and I enjoyed all kinds of success!

We got our very first blue ribbon!
We started out doing the last 2'-2'3" division as our warm-up. I'm definitely glad we did a warm-up because we really needed it. He didn't want to listen at first and he stopped at one fence for no good reason but it wasn't terrible, he wasn't running wild with me and he was semi-listening to my half-halts so we decided to go ahead and enter the entire 2'6-2'9" division.

This was his very first flat class and he did okay. He got a little upset when we got passed by another horse zooming around but for the most part he listened and kept a pretty even tempo. We ended up in third because he blew his right lead and he took a few strides too long to come back down to the walk and trot but still I definitely thought of it as a success because I don't think we could've done that a year ago.

Next up were the over fences classes and the first course rode amazing, easily the best jump round we have ever had. I'll admit I was surprised that we got a first because we blew our right lead again (twice!) but at a schooling show the competition isn't very fierce. There were six other horses in the class, though, so I still feel like it was legit.

The second over fences class wasn't quite as nice as the first one because once again Loki blew his right lead. I'm not sure what was up with that. We usually don't have trouble with our leads but for whatever reason he just absolutely refused to pick it up in the far left corner of the arena. (We will probably be schooling that this week!) We had a small little battle of wills when I made him stop and pick up the correct lead but after that the course flowed fairly nicely and we did get one flying change. So we ended up with another first place!

Two firsts and a third put us as Grand Champions for the division! Holy cow, our very first first place ribbon and a Grand Champion in one day that is pretty cool!
But the real success is we got around course without going crazy. I actually had brakes and a horse that actually listened to my half-halts 90% of the time. I wasn't getting left behind over the fences and we actually felt mostly in-sync. 

Now if we can just repeat that at our next horse trial it will truly be a HUGE SUCCESS! Granted this was a home show so not quite the same feel as when we go away from home but hopefully we'll still be able to build on it.

Sadly I have no pictures. :(  My husband had to go with my son to a boy scout event and since this was a home schooling show it didn't seem that important to get pictures. Of course now I kind of wish I had gotten some but oh well. I do plan on getting pictures of him with his ribbons later this week, though, because you know you want to record these things!
Old picture but one of my favorites. I really do love this guy!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

So Heavy!

I went to ride this morning and Loki was standing in his stall snoozing on his feet. I had to take a picture of that lip because it was just so cute! and apparently very heavy.

Love this boy!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Elaborate


Loki and his new buddy, Reata
We went trail riding again Saturday and it was really so much fun. It made me want to elaborate on why I enjoy it so much. I know most of you will already know all of this but just in case there was someone out there who needs a reason to try it. ;) So here are my top 5 reasons to trail ride:

#5 It's always cooler in the shade!
Now that summer is officially upon us and the temps are heating up (I swear I'm not complaining!) it is so nice to ride in the shade. The particular place we've been riding has a very thick canopy of trees and it was easily 10 degrees or more cooler in the shade. Win!

#4 Hill work and fitness made fun!
If you need to get your horse in shape for cross country or pretty much anything else then the trails are definitely the most fun way to do it. And if you are lucky enough to have a place with lots of hills all the better. Loki is going to get that hind end in shape!

#3 A chance to ride with no agenda!
Riding in the sandbox day after day can really get old and lead to burn out if you aren't careful and that is for you and your horse. Going out on the trail where the only agenda is to follow the path in front of you is so refreshing. It's not that I throw all our work out the window but when we are on the trail most of the time I just let Loki be and I'm pretty darn sure he really enjoys it.

#2 Therapy!
This sort of goes along with #3 but for me trail riding is the best therapy. It's relaxing and peaceful. I always come back from a trail ride feeling better than when I started.

And the #1 reason to trail ride is... The company!
Friends! We're a funny combo of short and tall, lol

If you are lucky enough to have good friends to ride with then trail riding is the best! The friends I've been riding with I haven't ridden with in nearly 20 years so it has been extra special. I don't think there is a better way to spend time with a friend than on the back of a horse, especially when you're on the trail!

Don't get me wrong, I still want to event, I still want to work on things and improve but when you can incorporate a good trail ride in the mix of lessons and flatwork, etc then you and your horse will most definitely benefit!

Loki and I are going to hopefully play hunters this weekend as our barn is hosting the local schooling circuit on Saturday. It depends on whether or not the farrier can make it out, though. Loki has a shoe that is starting to come loose. I just don't know if it will make it to the show or not so we'll see.

Happy riding!