Monday, May 30, 2011

Hunting 2.0

Oh Man hunting is awesome. It's been a bit slow running wise but last Wednesday I came across what I had been waiting for. A small fullwire! It's funny how when you are on a run and in hot blood you just go. So yes the first fullwire of my life has been jumped. Excellent. I never thought it would be on Rascal but in Rascals favour she has never stopped hunting and she loves it. She is getting a bit strong though. She is actually really quite fast and is really starting to love having a good gallop.

The only downside is her mad love for my friends horse which means I need to follow her or her horse goes nuts, but that means that Rascal is running me to the fences and we get some deep distances. It's hard too because quite often you only get a few canter strides in front of the fence and you just have to make the best of it. I had a real life this Sunday when I made the cardinal sin of jumping ahead! Yikes! I was just like yup thats it I'm dead, but she was quick enough to chip in and sort herself out (Thanks Jeebers) and despite not having much of me in contact with the horse we both landed on the other side at the same time and in the same location.

We had the most phenomenal run on Sunday. The hounds picked up a hare and we must have chased it for like 8 kilometres or something crazy. Hare are kind enough to run in huge circles. It was a super sunny day with heaps of warmth still in the sun. It was over rolling country too so it was fun though fairly nerve wracking country to gallop over as the hills would drop away quite steeply. Must have jumped 8 or 9 fences and because I was at the front- only 6-7 horses behind the master- I didn't have to pull up and queue to every fence, I just got to keep going and jump more out of stride. I haven't ever hunted at the front but after that run I get why people love hunting. You can feel the blood rushing in your ears and you really want to get that bunny haha!

Jumped my first alkathene, which is just a thin plastic pipe that covers high tensile electric wire. There we jumped out of a flat paddock onto the side of a steep hill. Good stuff and then up the hill and a left hand sweep to a steep hill with a lowered wire at the top. My friend whose heels I was on, pulled out of the fence at the top, but I hit the top, saw the one stride to the fence, put my spurs in and went. Weee! Also fun was jumping through some smaller paddocks and jumping 6 tape gates in a row. Unfortunately, by the end of the hunt only one tape gate was left standing, one of which I had broken when Rascal ran us really deep and caught a back leg. After this huge run, the hunt just kept running all afternoon. We stopped once they set of for another lap and let our horses recover. Rascal was absolutely poked. Her whole body was heaving.

We stood around yarning and drinking for about 30mins and joined in for a few more runs. By now Rascal was so tired she was stumbling a bit at the walk it was such a hard hunt. She hit her fifth wind though, and we had two really nice jumps to finish the day over fences where we couldn't find a gate to get home through. Man I can see why people are such militant hunters, that was insanely fun. Everyone on the field was just ear to ear grins. i really want some photos of some of the stuff we are jumping because it would blow your mind. I'll probably put Rascal on the market after this weekend coming. There is a visitors hunt in the Manawatu next next week and I want to hunt her with a for sale on her butt and hopefully get down to three horses. Bliss!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tielcey Park Winter Showjumping

Rascal in the 80cm

So last Saturday, my friend and I headed over to the Tielcey Park Winter Showjumping day to get some exposure for our young horses, and also the horses were doing something that wasn't hunting. After all, I am a showjumper :) Anyways, we arrived at 9 because we were in the third class but we didn't ride until after 2pm. Ahh! All that time we could have been sleeping. The organisation of the show was just the pits. There really needed to be a gate steward to get people into the ring more efficiently. The classes just dragged on forever.


And oh my goodness, the standard of riding was terrifying. I don't expect the polished performances of the upper levels at a little local show, but this was dangerous and often borderline abusive. It's like there is no one out there who is teaching solid basics anymore, either that or no one is listening. One "clinician" I saw riding repeatedly rode his horse to a borderline dangerously long take off point, and over one fence, his horse actually paddled with it's front legs over the fence, which is really scary and a real danger of causing a horse fall. You know it's bad when all the spectators gasp- even when overhearing what they are saying, they really don't know what they are watching. I'm not trying to be stuck up or difficult- this is actually a serious safety issue. Some of the riders, it can only have been sheer luck keeping them in the saddle because it wasn't balance, technique or skill.

The other thing that bothered me was the amount of horses that are clearly getting their brains fried. If you are teaching your green bean to jump you need to A) Ride to the fence positively B) be going faster than a crawl C) not rip your horse in the face because you need to balance on your horses mouth when he does actually jump D) After you get eliminated- don't re-enter the class and make the same mistakes. You deserved to fall off, because you never gave that poor confused baby the chance to to his job. You punished him when he did jump and you hit him when he didn't. I know it's hard to ride really green horses, I really do, but if nothing else- even if you get left behind- you have to leave the horses face alone. It was awful honestly, people galloping into fences and then ripping on the horses mouths when they got hot from all the galloping. Uh. It was a really bad hands competition I think. Every time we thought we had seen the worst set of rough hands, another set, more terrible, would turn up. Still there was some good riding.

As an aside- Do you Americans find my riding from a deep seat all the time different and odd?

Anyway, Rascal hasn't jumped well all last season, she just had no confidence after a few stops with my little sister the season before. That and some issues with her foot and an injury to her hock as a 5yr old and she hasn't even been the confident balanced 4yr old I bought for quite a long time now. Around February I turned her out to focus on Connie and Kate as the season drew to a close. So I have been hunting her and it seems that hunting is actually a cure all for all problems. She feels stronger and more balanced and everything I have hunted seems to love it. It seems to be really good at teaching them to be confident over their jumps and really makes it fun again. So I pleasantly surprised when the horse I jumped on Saturday wasn't the chicken version I had been riding earlier in the year, but much more like the four yr old I brought. She really seems to be enjoying herself and is definitely much stronger. Godsh I have bitched and moaned about her constantly but I'm starting to enjoy her a lot more now.

so anyway- 1 rail in the 80cm at the smallest fence because I took it too casually, and then one rail in the 90cm at the wall when I gave her too cautious of a ride to it. She hesitated and I hit her causing her to flatten over the fence and punt out the rail. so all my fault really, but I was rapt to have my little horses back. So so nervous to be in the ring again though eh!

AHHGH! Who is that!

Bill came for the trip too. she called a bit while I was riding Bill but when I took her back after her classes she was busy grooming the strange horse in the next yard as happy as a clam. It had started raining when I went out to work her and the warm-up in the indoor was pretty quiet so I worked her in there. First time being worked with strange horses and first time in an indoor and first time at a show so she coped really well all things considered. I only did 15mins of walking and trotting and popped over some rails on the ground. I didn't want to ask too much especially as she was a little horse shy, and the warm-up was starting to get busy. I will turn her out for two weeks now to just think about things and then bring her back in. Luckily, with Rascal home now to act as buddy, I can start doing longer rides around the place. All and all it was a successful day for myself, my girls and my friend. But we are never going back. It was so expensive for what it was, and I can't bear watching that sort of riding.

Rascal in the 90cm class

I'll explain more later (Waiting on some photos) but here is a nice video of Rascal in the 90cm class I did yesterday.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I have been avoiding you bloggy

Little Bill

I think I hate this time of year, I really do- in a purely horse sense of course, I quite enjoy the whole hot fire cup of hot chocolate aspect-. Blerk! Nothing gets done really. you have plenty of time to dream up grandiose plans but no way of implementing them. I find dreams quite frustrating when I can't do much about working towards them. I need to start travelling Billo out to arenas to work her on a good surface but Truckie is getting a new ramp put on at the moment so we are grounded.

Talking of Billo, I have run into a real impasse with that horse. Because now it's time to work and she doesn't think thats a good Idea. She is an odd mix of sensitive and hot but very lazy. So she hates the leg and resents it but really doesn't want to listen to it. I'm spending so much time cruising the farm laneways at the moment because the paddocks are too wet. She has been really really laid back about this, but recently has gotten quite spooky. I nearly went over her shoulder not that long ago. Thankfully, the fence pulled her up before she could finish her spin. It just feels like we aren't making much progress. I'm mostly working on straightness, outside contact and going forward so it's basic stuff, but possibly my expectations are too high. She has given me some amazing rides, so I guess a rough patch was inevitable especially as the work level escalates and she gets a bit muscle sore. The cooler weather doesn't help with the spookiness. Still I'll keep chipping away and stay consistent and I'm sure we will start progressing again.

I worry about Kate as well, even though she seems to be a content woolly winter bear. I'm worried I'm not going to be able to afford her joint injections for next season and then what do I do? What do you do with a 12yr old lame horse? I do plan to breed her at some stage but if I can't afford some injections, I can't afford a foal. Especially as I hope to be running three horses all next season. I love riding Kate because she is such a dude and it's good for me to ride something hot and sensitive and likes the deeper spot.

On a less dismal note, Rascal had her third and fourth hunts last week. We didn't jump at the third hunt because there was nothing I felt brave enough to jump, but we enjoyed some phenomenal country to ride over and some really good gallops. We did spend a lot of the time just cruising at the back because both my friend and my horses needed to chill out a little bit. Even Rascal chucked in a few bucks, while my mates horse was a bit off of his face. I have changed her bit to a waterford snaffle and she is awesome in it, because she doesn't lean on it at all or argue with it, but I do need to remember to have a smoother hand to the fences. Still I gave myself a fright after watching a horse flip himself after getting his legs caught between the wires- horse and rider were fine, but that scared me.

Hunt four was nearly a miss because the weather was really awful but after about 15mins hiding under some trees the sun came out and apart from greasy conditions, the hunting was quite good. The wind did blow the scent around a bit but we still had plenty of running. It had been so long since I jumped Rascal so I was a bit afraid, bat eventually we came across a small lowered wire and I went for it. She didn't really lock onto it and she clobbered it, but she was very clean after that. When you hit wire it really sounds worse than it is. After we had done a few, she started to run me a bit deep, so I got some nice jumps by holding her off of the fence a bit. She is so much better over the fences on a run, but if we have done some walking switches off pretty well. Gave myself another fright after she hit another taller one that I was scared of, but it was my fault because I interfered too much. Jumped some decent size lowered wires, which was very brave for me, and she was in her happy place, her ears are forward all hunt. She did get tired and once they start to run on adrenaline alone they get a bit loopy so at three hours once we got to a huge uphill fence, with Rascal acting up, I called it a day and went in. Overall though it was a very very good hunt for her. Joint hunt this Wednesday and I hope to hunt closer to the front, get her seen and then hopefully get her sold.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Saddle snob

I'm a lucky lucky girl in that last year I put myself in debt and brought a Prestige Event saddle and a County Innovation for Kate and Connie respectively. These saddles are delicious and the county is the closest I have ever gotten to getting a saddle to fit Connie who is pencil shaped. Round topped but not actually that broad.

Bill horse is by a Dutch Warmblood stallion who wasn't freaky big, out of a very petite TB mare, and somehow she has grown into a Quarter horsesque solid monster freak. She is only about 16hh tall but she is so broad and her shoulders are massive. So clearly saddle fit is a problem. She is not bad in Connies saddle but it actually still isn't broad enough because it wants to ride forward.

Anyway, in a blast of unparalleled smarts I realised I just needed to make a custom gullet for my long forgotten Bates, that has sat in the shed for a year. The farrier bent up the gullet for me and hurrah a gullet that fits Bill, though my saddle protested a little at the stretch. It needs a little padding at the front because she is downhill but she rode really nicely and freely and seemed a little more balanced in her canter, though she did just have her feet done so that could have helped as well.

The issue then I hear you ask? I don't like the Bates. It's all not calf skin and not luxurious. The Prestige is a beautiful balanced saddle to sit in and the county is a freaking dream. It feels like you couldn't fall out of it if you wanted too. You sit in the county and you sit ON the Bates. Bah I'm a saddle snob, and I really can't afford to be! Still as long as Bill is happy I will suck it up