Saturday, October 29, 2011

A big and difficult decision



Ah Katie-pie you beautiful mare. I have been thinking long and hard about this horse for a little while now. After her injections she needs a week off, she jumps awesome for 3 weeks, and then starts to deteriorate. All of a sudden I go from riding a happy confident horse to riding a horse who is hurting doing the job she loves and obviously her enthusiasm levels plummet. It's hard on her nerve and it's hard on mine.

Ultimately when I weigh it up I'm paying a LOT of money to run a horse who is probably never going jump higher than 1.15m, money that I could be putting into a sound horse that could do the same heights and then some. It seems heartless I guess but I hate not knowing what horse I get heading for the end of her injections efficacy period and I don't feel it's fair for her. The ground was really soft this weekend she shouldn't have been sore but she didn't want to do the job. I retired her from the 1.10m class and late entered the 1m class. I went in knowing it was her last round ever and I was surprisingly cut up afterwards. She was even hesitant off the ground on the 1m and she feels like she is jumping to save herself. I know her arthritis isn't that bad on the x-rays but obviously her tolerance for pain is low.

She was clear in the 1m for first equal with all the other clear grounds and my big hearted mare go to finish her jumping career with a red ribbon. For now she is retired with the possibility of being put in foal in 2012. I don't feel like she owes me anything because she helped me get my love of showjumping back and having a good mare to move up the grades on meant that Connie moved up faster as well.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wairarapa A and P show- Friday

A mixed bag sort of a day but mostly there is a lot of good to take away from it. I have to say having spent the rest of last weekend at the beach doing fun non horse related things and watching rugby and drinking and not wearing gumboots for three days, I was excited to be at a show again. Down time! You have to make sure you get it! Weather was shitbox though. Blerk I do not like riding in the rain. The secretary gave me a hard time about being a fair weather rider when I scratched Bill and I was like eh? I still have the other three!

A while ago I brought some waterproof overpants off the internet but they were too small. Having lost a shit ton of weight over the winter/spring meant they fit so yay no wet bum for me! I hate that feeling so passionately. The ground did cut up a bit but didn't get so heavy and sucky on the horses as last week. Anyway, Rascal was up first and jumped a very cute double clear in the 95cm. She was pretty adament that there was three strides in the double, but the next time through in the jump-off I got a more aggressive ride into it and made the two strides but she made it feel like a real stretch. Lol Silly mare. I was really unhappy last weekend because I picked at her so I really focused on keeping her forward and rhythmical and I changed her to the waterford snaffle so I was able to be very subtle in my rein aids. Worked a treat, and she was the most confident she has felt over the big square oxers.

Kate was up next. Warmed up well but she is very heavy in the rubber snaffle. Again focused on riding around the corners and keeping her flowing. Had great jumps over fence 1 and 2 was feeling pretty good about life and then she stopped at three and I fell off. It was a longer distance and it was a filler that was spooking a lot of horses and I'm thinking perhaps I didn't maintain enough contact and made her feel insecure so she stopped. Maybe though it's her knee again which isn't that good because she only got treated four weeks ago. I'm not sure I can wear the expense of monthly injections :( Still she is in the 1.10m tomorrow and the 1.15m on Sunday so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and blame my riding for now and see how we go on the next two days. I landed on my feet and so while I felt a bit flustered I was not injured in any physical way. Even when you land on your feet a fall is still hard on the nerve eh.

Connie up last in the 1.20m class. She warmed up well and felt really good. Guess where I had the problem! Fence three the same fence Kate stopped at. I never properly committed to it and sort of ended up in it. Represented and she flew straight over and then jumped super for the rest of the round. Really getting in the air and jumping off her hocks and feeling good. The teble was the same set up as the treble I jumped at Foxton and we couldn't get down- oxer two strides to an upright one stride to an upright. So I was pretty conscious of not jumping her in too big. Of course I went a bit the other way and jumped into small. Nevermind she has obviously been hanging out with Rascal and jumped through in a very tidy collected 3 strides to 2 strides. Not ideal certainly, but I'm so happy she just wanted to keep jumping down the treble and was so confident. I just have to get a more moderate ride in lol. I'm so in love with this horse. So tomorrow Rascal showhunters, Kate 1.1ms and Connie has another 1.2m. Bring it on!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wairarapa SJ and SH Championship



Just one of those days really. To be honest I wasn't really feeling it at this show and I wasn't that keen which is a bit of a shame, but I think I'm a bit burnt out already. Certainly I have had more intensive starts to the season but this year I seem to have less time to do everything in. Normally I also get a break around now when we go away for a couple of shows in a row and I have the middle of the week to decompress but I haven't had this yet this year. Add in some personal stuff and I would say I was never really going to be in the exact right head space. Also starting to wonder if I should up my meds, but will see how I go. I felt a bit frozen with nerves in the ring and that hasn't happened for freaking ages. I'll see how it goes this weekend.



Rascal was first up and she actually jumped quite well. Another 1m class but I didn't ride brave enough on her and had two stops when I picked at her and interfered with her rhythm. She jumped really well otherwise. She isn't as comfortable at this height but given a few more rounds I think she will be happier. Certainly we didn't have the same flow as the weekend before. Did I mention that they had had like a boatload of rain the night before and the ground was very heavy. Not so much sloppy but quite grippy, the horses didn't jump out of it that well. Rascal is quite sensitive to footing so that will also have contributed.



Connie was first up in the amateur class. It was funny because the 1.10m previously was built tiny but the amateur was pretty decent eh. Right up there with the bigger ones I have jumped. She jumped really well though I didn't ride the greatest- Again I was a little picky and got a bit frozen and didn't ride fluildy. Still got a little deep to one fence for one rail and that's not all that bad really. I just want to do the little mare justice you know. Ha tomorrow I will be better- stay committed, ride all the way around my corner and the distance will be their waiting for me.



Kate was also in the amateur. Warmed up relatively well and started off jumping well but then slipped coming into the double and I found myself circling off of the fence. It wasn't a conscious decision I was like 'What am I doing?" I was far enough off of the fence I should have been fine but I guess I was chicken. I wasn't getting a flowing ride either and she didn't feel great on the ground so after a rail at fence 8 I retired. Easily my worst show of the season but a lot to take away with me. Mostly the whole ride around the corner and stay committed. Connie and Kate are both in happy mouths but can both go back into rubber snaffles so my picking wont have too much effect. I'm also going to work Kate in rubber mouth pelham and try that out as a bit. It is quite a strong bit obviously but she gets very heavy in the snaffle and I end up fighting with her, and the action of jointed bits she seems to find quite sharp. I will try her in my long cheek french link as well but it's definitely time to try a few more bits. I don't know if she will last the whole season with her knee and everything but even just cantering around some 1.10m-1.15m classes is great mileage for me and I don't feel she owes me anything.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

South Wairarapa PC Spring Carnival

So a smaller local show last weekend and a good place to give everything a bit of an easier run. Especially with Connie having that retirement, I was looking forward to jumping her down a combination in competition to make sure my treble training had worked. It was supposed to be bills d├ębut but yea that didn't happen lol. My neck and back were pretty stiff though and I had a fat knee.



Rascal was first up in the 90cm class and jumped a nice double clear though looked at the picket a bit. It was on a hell of a dogleg corner though and she can be a bit of a tool, but ultimately she jumped so it's all good. She put three strides down the double both times because it was quite long and she doesn't jump hugely and didn't make the distance. The next class was the mighty metre or 3'3". Now Rascal hasn't gotten around a class at this height on her since she was 5 and it was at this show and then the week after she injured herself and was out for ages. So I had a bit of a mental hoodoo about this height and honestly was quite extremely nervous.



As you can see there was really no issue, she has room to spare and she jumped really well. The only issue was that she was still adamant that there was three strides in the double. I should have adjusted for this and just sat up and collected for the three but I rode up a little but found myself still in no mans land at the end of the two strides. She chipped in (below) and took the rail. Still four faults at 1m is fine. I was rapt to break my hoodoo. Dad says I am imagining things because hoodoos aren't real and only in your head, but I say if it's in your head then it must be real.



Connie and Kate were both in the 1.10m class. Luckily my sister showed up in time to holds one for me so I could go directly from one to the next. It was an unbelievably strong field for a local 1.10m class but a local has brought a new grand prix horse and had that for it's first outing, an Australian import and a couple of 1.20-1.30 horses. Connie was a tool to warm up which generally means she will jump well and is full of beans and she impressed a friends non horsey boyfriend with her jumping around.



She went into the ring and jumped really nicely. She definitely knows her job now and when to turn it on because none of the grief she gives me in the warm-ups shows up in the ring. They said I looked special because I was grinning so hard but she is really fun to ride.



Got a great distance into the double, was able to just sit quietly and stay balanced and she jumped in super confidently. She locked hard onto the second element and took me to it and jumped out well so all was good in my world. Didn't get such a good ride to it in the jump- I had to ride up a bit because the jump off course was a tad ridiculous and the corner was literally a spin and go. Still C horse stormed back through the flags for a double clear.



Kate I wasn't even sure if I'd start because she is carrying a few nicks and bumps at the moment but she felt really sound, looked sound to bystanders and was really keen to jump. She jumped really well as well, I felt like I was getting a bit close but my friend who is much better than I says she looks more comfortable with the deeper distance. It's amazing how confidently she jumps now her knee is good. She had a good double clear as well. I'm still waiting for her jumping pictures.



So final results? Kate was first and Connie was second. I'm sure not many actually jumped off hard, but seeing as I need to practice my jump-off turns and staying cool as a cucumber against the clock it was good to practice. Still it felt totally mean to do that well and it was all in all a really good day even though I could hardly work the next day. 4 competition rounds on top of sore muscles from falling was pretty brutal.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bad Ass Bill

Bill is not really that young at 7 but she still comes in as very very green. But maybe in my head I'm treating her too green. I have known for a little while that I haven't been on the right track with the Billock for a little while because we haven't really been making progress and in fact I have managed to just about lose the right canter lead so figure that. It's a straightness and forward issue that is going to be addressed soon I promise.

Anyway she was supposed to compete at a local show this weekend and I had her at a friends place to see if she could still jump and we never really got that far to be honest. The main issue I have with Bill is that I haven't really feel in control for the last little while and I haven't really managed to figure out why not. I know it's because she tends to fall behind the bridle but she feels forward so it hadn't really clicked for me. These are the difficulties of doing it all yourself. Anyway going down trot poles to a small jump she stood on the last trot pole, threw herself at the jump, unbalanced me and then emphatically bucked me off. I was happy because I always thought she would kick me on the way past and she didn't so that was a blessing but I landed very not lightly. And there it is my first fall off of Bill and probably one of many. Then we just worked on trot poles and straightness and a few other things but didn't jump again. He pointed out how behind the bridle she was and how she didn't do any long and low. He said she was faking me out by holding a pretty frame, but not actually doing anything. Food for thought. Clearly I decided we weren't ready to show.

I spent a lot of time pondering this issue and how I was going to face it really, being not exactly sure what I needed to do. I sort of started to wonder if much like the great grey bastard I struggled with for years whether she was just too much horse for me. I hate not knowing what the issue is. Anyway I took her to the show to ride afterwards and when I got on she started out ok but a little looky and sensitive as she would be in a show environment. Anyway they were packing up some jumps and she started to get freaked out and at one point did like this huge leap in the air and a few bucks but stayed straight so I sat it all out all right. My sister was there and she was all you know she is taking the piss out of you right? Oh. After the jump packers left I got back to work and a thought that hasn't popped up since the great grey bastard which was You are a heel of a lot safer going forward' and so I rode her forward really forward and suddenly it all clicked. I thought she was going forward before but she wasn'. Her more powerful WB movement was just faking me out and I was letting her nonce around in a fake frame and take control when she wasn't really going forward at all. I'd like to point out that this horse is a hell of a mover.

Once I really rode her forward she took up the contact herself and started to swing and be through. It's so often a small simple change that is key eh. It's always going forward too I should know that by now. As soon as I got her forward I felt in control again. At the canter she bucked a little and protested but I got probably the nicest canter work I have ever had out of her and she never got close to unseating me. I have added a pad under the saddle to balance it a bit more level rather than downhill which actually made a huge difference to my balance. She is still very down hill even at seven so sometimes I feel I'm riding a slide. So much work to do and just maybe I'll be able to jump her at the A and P show in two weeks over the 85cm class, if not I'll aim her for the young farmers show and miss the NZEF show that weekend. Sacrifices to get the wee girl going. Still can't believe I missed this for as long as I did.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Foxton Debrief 2

I would just like to offer my condolences to Andrea after the loss of her beloved Gogo. Truly that was a horse who never wanted for anything. It really makes you appreciate your horses.

Ok so to the Sunday of Foxton. Early start again because I elected to ride Rascal first up. She was in the 90cm showjumping and after yesterday I didn't know how it would go but the little mare warmed up feeling really really good, jumped super confidently and went into the ring and jumped double clear, though too slow in the jump-off to place. I don't quite trust her enough to really start slicing fences. So I don't know why she packed it in the day before but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.

Then I basically jumped from her onto Kate for the 1.10m class. It was a lot bigger 1.10m class than the day before whith more fill, two roll backs and a treble. She jumped really well though. Nearly jumped me out over the first oxer with fill. I really need to improve my leg strength some more. not as smooth of a round as the day previously but still I was happy with how she went. She just had the last rail when I didn't let her travel down the 6 strides enough and had to over ride the last two strides to make my distance and flattened her out.

Then I kicked my heels for like 5 hours waiting for Kates next class. She was in the 1.15m championship and again she jumped really well, again having one rail. We have been having a lot of one rail rounds this season. Awesome down the treble though. She had the rail at the liverpool which isn't that surprising because she hates liverpools. Truly she really is quite afraid of them, so I was happy she even jumped it, because it's the first one we have seen this season. Though to be fair I gave her a strong committed ride to it.

Then Connie in the amateur class. Pony was jumping amazing, must have cleared the oxer at 2 by like a foot she just jumped huge as which was exciting and cool. Got a longish distance into the first double but got through ok and then came round to the treble. Honestly I thought we would have issues here. She jumped in big and landed unbalanced and then couldn't jump out of the next two fences so she stopped. I reapproached with the same result- a stop at the second element- so I retired and jumped fence 1 on the way out. I was gutted because she was jumping so well. I wasn't exactly sure what I needed to do to fix this either which I always find more stressful. She was pretty unamused when as soon as we got home from the show I saddled her back up to jump a smaller version of the treble at home. I don't like to leave issues to sit for too long, better just to face them as soon as you can. She did initially stop and was quite hesitant but by the end was jumping through happily with the jumps set at 1m ish.

So really I'm not exactly sure what is causing this issue. She does always land in a bit of a heap, she isn't the most natural of jumpers. With a double it's ok because she only has to jump out over one fence, but when faced with two she couldn't do it. I think I need to improve two things. I think I'm throwing her at the combinations too much to compensate for her backing off combinations and in an effort to help her down the distance, but I'm probably just contributing to the issue. Secondly I need to land and balance her more and be stronger with my body position. I wanted to jump a treble every day this week but the rain spoiled that idea. There is a local show this weekend I'll take her too because I want to jump her down another combination at a show before we face our next amateur class.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Honoured

I was very pleased and honoured to be asked to do an interview for Katie from My Equine Life. You guys can find that here if you click on this link. Go read please ignore my spelling mistakes. My brain is faster than my two finger typing technique.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Foxton Debrief

Ah horse shows. Sometimes they go well but just not as well as you hoped. I can't be unhappy with how they went but I would be lying if I said I hadn't hoped for more. The first day started with showhunter warm-ups at 7.30. Rascal cantered around nicely and came back and jumped a nice round for third in the welcome hunter. I then had to go back to walk the 1.20m class. I walked it and decided to change Kate into the 1.10m class as the 1.20m was full size and technical enough. Heathers courses are always built to size and always have some questions but they are always fair if you ride accurately.

Anyway I ended up riding Connie in that class before I went back to the showhunters. Connie was a bit of a tool to be honest. She reared up at the gate when I was trying to tell someone the course and went in pretty hot. The responsibility of any mistakes have to be put on the rider and i didn't get the uppity bitch to focus lol! She was like blah I'm a doofus- AAhh watch up a jump appeared out of nowhere! After I reapproached she actually jumped amazing and didn't have any further faults over a pretty big track. She did struggle through the double which was a sign of things to come.

Rascal was a bit stiff going back down to the showhunter but seemed to work out of it. Had a bit of a dodgy jump over one of the fences when I truly stuffed up the distance and maybe this pinged her confidence or her back fetlock because she adamently refused the next fence. Blah! I just scratched her out from the rest of the day because I had nothing to gain from continuing to jump her. I did of course pop back over the practice fence.

I had my favourite round for the season on the Kate. Didn't have to ride so much/manage the spook/ hold her together and managed a smooth confident round from Kate. She was clear in the first round but had a rail in the jump-off. Still I was rapt and when a man on the sideline complimented me on a beautiful round I was a happy wee clam. It was so cold in the evenings sleeping in the truck. I was in two sleeping bags inside each other with blankets on top and the hood pulled tight around my head. Got a hell of a fright when a drunk guy stumbled into truckie looking for a Kirsty at 1am but he sure looked sheepish when he realised he was in the wrong truck haha. So that was day one and it looked very promising for day 2 bar I had no idea what was up with Rascal.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Foxton Prep

Here we go again! Travelling to another show tomorrow. Very exciting stuff. Had a wee jump on Rascal and Kate. Rascal was actually awesome if a bit strong. Jumped about 1m because thats the heights she is entered in. I got brave or something haha! Anyway she felt really good over the bigger fences, we actually got a fair bit of jump out of the wee girl. I wasn't expecting that at all! I lost my leg the first time! It doesn't matter so much if the finesse is lacking, as long as she is jumping confidently. The finesse will come.

Had a bit of a jump on Kate. I really wanted to jump her over some big fences but I didn't get a chance before the weather came in. Still had a good jump up to 1.10m and I really wanted get over some 1.20m because thats the first class on Saturday. I'm actually not that sure I'm ready for 1.20m with Kate yet. There is always the next show but I need to make a decision soon. If I'd jumped a few big ones I would know more eh. I wanted to do the same with Connie even though Connie should be all good really. She has been jumping well it's just a nerves thing, wanting to jump a bit bigger to make sure I can. I know Connie can do the height I just have to ride her well. I know Kate can do the height as well I just don't have the same faith in her right now. She was such a goose today too, so spooky. Curse the spring grass!

So tomorrow packing and cleaning and travelling. Might ride Bill and Connie in the morning if I have the time. Goodtimes. I'm so lucky to be able to do this. Fingers crossed for some more good rounds eh.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Quick Catch Up

I wish I could say I had been super proactive but I would not be being that truthful. Rascal is still off unfortunately which is a crying shame with the run of form she was on. I'd love her to be right for next weekend which is our next showhunter show. Sneakily we are 2nd in the Amateur highpoints showhunter series after one show so I need to print that out and frame it before the real show hunters start competing. Still it gives me a ice set of goals to chase with my little horse.

Connie while unhappy with her diet and heavier workload is actually feeling pretty good and the windgalls have improved now I wrap her while I ride. I suspect a lot of the swelling was stocking up because she is so sedentary while yarded at shows but I'll continue to wrap for the next few shows until she feels really strong and starts taking rails behind. I have signed up for a Clinic with Thomas Fuchs who is a Swiss rider next month so Connie can do that which is very exciting. At first I was all I'm not good enough to do clinics with people that good, but shit why the hell not. My money is as green as anyone elses. I sometimes feel like I don't belong because I do it on a showstring budget and don't have all the gears and the right bred horses and flash truck, but all that matters is how they jump ultimately. It's harder to do it this way, training your horse while you learn yourself but I really can't afford the other option lol!

Kate had her knee done recently and I have yet to ride her since and I'm a bit dubious about jumping her in the 1.20m next weekend so I need to try get a training in this weekend and jump some big fences and see how she feels. Bill continues to tick along mostly nicely apart from some bucking. She gets upset when I let her get unbalanced at the canter and starts bucking which makes her more unbalanced and makes her buck worse in a vicious cycle. So it's important to try and keep her more balanced but at the same time I need to teach her to canter herself and keep her own shit together. Young horses.