PLANS ((plans))

After our successful outing at the Southern Pines Horse Trials, I can’t help but turn my attentions to what’s next. Of course everything, and I do mean everything, when it comes to horses has to be written in pencil instead of pen, but still it is good to have goals.

So happy because he thinks we’re galloping back to the barns

Speaking of goals, I realized that my Goals and Results pages have been thoroughly neglected ever since things with Foster fell apart. Expect updates there shortly!
After SPHT, the next big thing on the schedule is another show at the Horse Park, this one April 21-22- the Longleaf Pine HT. Sorry not sorry if you’re bored by how often I go to the Carolina Horse Park. I freaking love that place.

So trainer and I discussed what to sign up for, and she feels confident that Novice should be very doable. So, with that said, one month from now we’ll be eyeing our official move up.

So blasé about this height

Hearing that recommendation from my trainer made for 1 part eye bulge, and another part relief that BN could be a thing of the past. This is where the whole pencil spiel comes in, because who the heck knows what could happen in the next month, so this should all be taken with a heavy does of salt. Because, you know, horses.
So now I’ve got a new test to start memorizing, and prepping to do. Not only does Novice B have another stupid diagonal-centerline combo, but it also has the dumb turns from B to E right across the arena. But even still, I’m tentatively excited to be maybe (maybe maybe maybe) back at Novice next month!

Show Recap: SPHT XC

Sunday morning I did my final walk through of the cross country with the trainer, and got a bit of a knowledge drop on how best to navigate what was a very friendly looking course. We discussed the need to really ride to fence 4, which was giving some people trouble with its spooky grain bags. Likewise to swing wide to fence 7 so the right run-out towards the barns wasn’t so tempting.

Bank to rolltop combination I was worried about

Though we went screaming and prancing all the way out to the course, we actually had a brilliant warmup and I went out to the start box feeling confident that we could execute our plan. Here’s how it went (and please forgive the language about halfway through):

All in all, it was a great run. While he needed a little convincing in the beginning, we eventually found a rhythm. It was a blast letting him go a bit up the big hill after fence 10, and I can feel that Novice speed is going to be nothing for Jack. In fact, we did our course at 375 meters/min which was the marked Novice speed for the event. Hence my wondering about speed faults at the end of our round.

PC: Brant Gamma

Each outing, Jack gets more and more confident, and throwing down a double clear round and became more and more rideable as we went along was an amazing feeling. He still needs support and confidence from me, but we’re feeling more like a team. Because I blazed around the XC, we lost the tie breaker for 2nd, and the yellow pony earned a matching yellow ribbon for his efforts. But to be competitive at his first recognized show is an awesome feeling, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the weekend.

Show Recap: SPHT Stadium

After learning that we were at the top of the charts after dressage, that really put the pressure on to go clear in the jumping phases. And you know what they say… when you’re at the top, the only way to go is down. And you know what comes down? Brightly colored sticks.

The showjumping course- very friendly overall

Our warm up went pretty well, but as we now know, that doesn’t mean that Jack will go in the ring all calm and collected-like. So the plan was to go in the ring and go– forward and packaged and get him thinking straight where possible. We expected 4 to be a little sticky because it was an oxer that appeared to be jumping into the stands, and 9a-9b was giving folks trouble all day because of the astroturf filler, but otherwise thinking positive and moving seemed to provide rewarding rides.

Even though we had a rail down (dammmmmmit), this was still our best round to date in terms of how obedient and relaxed Jack was once we found a rhythm. I did have to growl at him approaching 5 when I felt him back off a bit, but that’s just kind of how Jack is at the moment so I won’t fault him for that.

Our rail bumped us from 1st to tied for 2nd- still in the ribbons heading to XC and a fun course there awaiting us as well! Tomorrow we wrap it up!

Show Recap: SPHT Dressage

This last weekend represented my third recognized event ever, with my last one being almost 4 years ago. Of course this was also Jack’s first recognized show.

Putting that into perspective, I’m pretty fucking thrilled with how it went.

Jack is still figuring things out about travel, making friends (and not becoming obsessed with them), and the show horse life in general. So Friday we packed up and got to the Horse Park, with plenty of time for me to do my first course walk and then get in the saddle for a long hack around the rings followed by a very light (read:12 min) dressage school.

The plan for Saturday was to do a pre-ride (15 min walk and 5-10 min transitions) in the morning and then get ready for my test that afternoon. Unfortunately Jack felt explosive and was screaming profusely, and I decided to let him express some anxiety on the lunge line rather than beneath me. He lunged for 10 minutes and with a much softer eye I got back in the saddle. 15 minutes of walking, and 5 minutes of walk-trot transitions and he went back in his stall for a nap.

We came out for our test about 35 minutes early, and again just spent a long time walking around a quieter part of the warmup, doing transitions between free walk and medium walk to ease his brain. Following our dressage trainer’s plan (which was determined at the schooling dressage show the weekend before), we then did 5 min of easy walk-trot transitions, then a short walk break, then a full walk-trot-canter set that basically continued straight into the dressage ring.

The plan worked perfectly. Jack felt super rideable and attentive, and allowed me to ride him through any tense moments.

It’s a bit hard to read, but you get the jist!

Again, pretty effing thrilled with this test. I got my first 8 on rider score, a goal that I’ve been working toward, and Jack really nailed a lot of the things we’ve focused on lately. Considering this horse wouldn’t go down centerline in August, he’s come a long way. We earned a 26.8 for the dressage, putting us in first out of 15 for the day.

Tomorrow, the showjumping update!

Show Recap: Pinehurst Schooling Dressage

Sunday we went to the Pinehurst Harness Track to get some more mileage at Beginner Novice Test B, which is the test for the big recognized doozie this weekend. Instead of doing 2 different tests, I actually chose to do BN-B twice, and save some precious brain cells in the process.

We got to the Harness Track and squeezed into a spot along the rail (thank goodness for my teeny rig), got Jack tacked up and hustled to the warmup. He had gotten Perfect Prep Gold the day before, and PP Supreme before getting on the trailer, and I don’t know if it was that or just happenstance but while alert and looking around, once I was in the tack he gave me the best warm up to date.

Our first test was obedient with moments of tension, namely in the corner at K where he fixated on departing trailers and other new things. We scored a 70.5% (29.5) for this one, and the video is below:

Following that, we had roughly 15 minutes before going back in, and made good use of a warm up area just outside the ring so that we could get his attention focused on me near scary K. It worked, and while test B felt better in many ways, Jack got the idea to start hollering through pieces of it, which apparently the judge didn’t like. We got a 70.25% (29.75) for that one. Nothing like being consistent, eh?

As you can see, the highlights in both tests were the left trot circle, left lead canter, free walk, and final centerline. Everywhere else there are subtle differences, as he was tense in different places between the two tests.

In general, I’m pretty thrilled with the outing. Jack got some more experience in the dressage court, I got to test out Perfect Prep products, and we achieved our goal (albeit barely) of scoring in the 20s. Our dressage trainer got to see him in a show environment and help us formulate a plan for the warm up at the Southern Pines HT. So all in all, despite no blue ribbons, it was a big win-win!

Let’s Discuss: Picky eaters

A certain blonde creature that we all know and love, who definitely has opinions, also seems to be a discerning food critic. Treats go out of popularity quite quickly these days, and getting meds into him? Fuggedaboutit.

Now, I haven’t exactly run the gambit of coaxing (or tricking) him into eating his meds (right now a basic anti-histamine for clearing up his nose). The first day he actually accepted his now-weird tasting food with aplomb. But since day 2 he’s been leaving about half his breakfast (which was wet and mixed up to “hide” the medicine) behind. Not good for a pony that I’ve been working hard to fatten up these last couple months.

Grump

Last night I tested the apple sauce idea, just to see if he’d eat it mixed with grain (no meds yet). And that too got a weak nope from Jack.

Riveting material here

Short of mixing his meds with a little water and squirting it down his throat, what can I do? I would like my horse to still like me when it’s all said and done. But it’s important for him to get his meds as well.

What tricks do you guys have for masking medicine? Any tips for hiding icky flavors? Or treats that won’t turn noses?

Photography Friday: Our own family portraits

 Last September, the husband and I decided that this was the year we were going to take on a new adult adventure- Christmas cards! But first we needed some updated family photos, since our last professional photos were from our wedding, and of course didn’t feature any of our furbabies. I hired a fellow equestrian photographer, Southern Horse Photography, to make our portraits, and I’m finally getting around to sharing the results with you!


I also took this opportunity to get a portrait done for branding my photography business- so here’s me with my trusty D750!Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

The Event Formerly Known as Rolex

My WEG tickets have been purchased (and bitched about- seriously that price hiking shit is a scam) for some time now. And now, the tickets to the Land Rover 3DE have been on sale for a few weeks. After 3 years of having major wedding conflicts that particular weekend, I had originally vowed to go, come Hell or High water.

Rolex 2012 with Mr. Fox Pitt himself

But…

I effing HATE driving. Like, 3 hours in a car and I need a straight jacket and a padded room kind of hate. And the trip from NC to KY is not a short one. Normally the insanity can be cured with lots of distractions friends, but it seems everyone is opting out of Rolex (err, Land Rover) this year in favor of the WEG trip come September.

2012, showing off our team shirts for now-trainer

So it seems, without buddies to travel with (and therefore also split the financial costs of gas, hotel, etc), Kentucky may be a bust this year again.

Boyd Martin and Remington, Rolex 2012

My typical partners in crime are therefore encouraging me to switch gears and do the long-format BN 3-day at Heart of the Carolinas the following weekend. And even if I just do the regular HT, it’s an interesting option.

So friends… who is going to Kentucky this April? Go ahead, stoke my FOMO. Or, help me feel better about potentially not going and let’s chat about how exciting WEG will be instead! And, go!

Let’s Discuss: Chemical Help

Musings from this morning…

I’m pretty sure the bane of most first world countries has to be using a fork to spear crispy bacon. Am I out of alfalfa at the barn? “Give love, get love.” (Thanks Yogi tea bag)

But mostly, I’m wondering…

What kind of chemical help can I give Jack so that he doesn’t turn into a distracted spazoid in the dressage ring?

That is basically to say that we went to the show on Saturday, where I just did my dressage test and scratched all the jumping. I thought I was getting closer to unlocking what Jack needs in the warmup, before entering the actual dressage court and blowing all the good work out of the water.

Admittedly a 34.8 isn’t the absolute worst score, but to me those 6’s are frustrating to see on a scoresheet. There were lots of comments about him being resistant, which mostly came down to his getting tense or distracted by things that I feel he really truly isn’t scared of (such as people walking the course in the distance). The overbending comes down to my attempts to get him soft through the underneck, and I would definitely prefer to have him straighter and more under- the whole test felt mostly forced with a few decent movements. Highlights including the fact that I almost got a 7.5 on my rider score, and Jack giving me a solid left lead canter depart for a 7. And I mean, the beautiful horse comment- because who doesn’t like hearing that?

At least he’s pretty?

In making a game plan for our next outing (namely the big Recognized show in 3 weeks where I would like to actually be competitive in the dressage), I would like to help Jack a little bit mentally. I’m mostly not a fan of lunging a horse down because I feel that is counter productive in many cases when XC and SJ are to follow (not to mention putting unnecessary torque on fragile legs), and I of course want to stay within the legal allowances for any chemical aid.

So I’m looking at a few of the calming pastes on the market that might help. Perfect Prep products are one I have heard are well used in the H/J rings, but I know less about eventers who use them. B highly recommends Nupafeed Magnesium  for its effectiveness on her similarly-minded Chimi. I’m willing to give anything a shot, so long as it’s legal and has no real side effects that could make things worse for one palomino worry-wort.

What do you guys think? Have you ever used the above products? Anything that isn’t listed that you suggest? What are your previous experiences with calming agents at shows?