Monday, November 28, 2011

On the up

This was the grey bastard Fred I had many moons ago, but I sold due to a total dislike of the horse, and his complete lack of try. It was always iffy if he would leave the ground or not. But man could he jump. Trainer said he would do grand prix, but he wouldn't, not with me, because he wouldn't give you anything. Still I learnt a lot from the great grey prick. This blog came about after this second version of my blog starting, this blog starting with the arrival of Kate whom I bought after selling Fred, whom by then I renamed Dread. It was because of this horse I started a blog really, and I sought out the help of Grant Cashmore who pretty much turned my riding around, well until I crashed and burned with depression. Life can be a kicker. Still without Grants help I would never have been able to produce Connie, who while a kind generous type, is not the most athletic and needed so much schooling to become a good (Well reasonable) jumper.

Anyways I'm just ticking along quite nicely. Back is doing ok but it really doesn't like me riding Connies canter, she has so much action in front and really gets the back jarring. She put in a good schooling session the other day and I think she might be getting this collection thing a little more. I'm definitely getting a lot less travel while maintaining jump in the canter if that makes sense.

Anyways I'll be back in the ring on Friday all going to plan and it feels like I haven't competed for bloody ages. I'm hoping to get a jump school in before Friday with both the gingernut and the C horse, but with the current weather and ground conditions it seems a little unlikely. I can't travel out because Truckie is in the shop getting the mystery wiring issue fixed. I guess it doesn't really matter both of them know there job, I'm mostly worried about how my eye is after this much time without jumping a fence. I know I have lost a little strength and fitness being out but I'm pretty happy in the saddle. I do wish I wasn't just travelling in for the day because I'm going straight into an amateur class with Connie in the indoor.

I'm well down in the amateur rankings, last time I looked I was rocking a solid 40th which is still pretty god and 10 places higher than I ever got last year. I was sort of hoping to be jumping 1.25m classes by now but it hasn't really come together. I feel a bit stalled almost and I'm not sure why that is. Though obviously retiring Kate who is my other good horse has set me back some. I hope it wont take too long to get Ging up to speed but he isn't the easiest ride. I'd love to 1.10m him before Christmas but realistically I gain nothing by rushing. I want to know him better on the flat first, and have figured out his buttons a little more. I don't know. Maybe Connie isn't going to go much higher but she certainly doesn't feel like she is struggling in the 1.20m classes. Now I must finish my wine and go to bed before I get up tomorrow and do it all again.

Changes be coming at the end of this season and I'm not sure exactly which way it will all I just know everything will be really really different and maybe thats why I'm stalled. Maybe I just need more ring time, maybe I need to think less and get it done. I cannot wait to compete again.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Back in the saddle 2

The handsome face of the new kid in town Ginga. He i a 16.22 hh Stationbred (mongrel) x DWB by VDL Emillion. He looks chestnut but is actually a roan which is choice because I love roans. He is a big lanky gormless type chap who is a little simple but very sweet and I'm really enjoying him. Had a lovely ride today in which we really made some progress in the go forward/ contact issues we have. Finally my back is starting to settle down and I am more comfortable in the saddle. I'm also off the hard drugs and just taking paracetomol so that's all good news.

Even grew a pair and rode bill again for the first time. Just walk and trot and a very quiet and short canter in either direction in a smallish area and she was pretty good. I let my mind wander a little and she starts to take charge so I need to stay a bit more focused and get better control of her feet. I also like the way she feels in the bridle at the moment. I have ditched the caversson and flash with a d ring rubber mullen mouth for an old school heavy egg butt jointed snaffle with an old school drop noseband and she is actually more consistent in the contact and not falling behind my hand which is both excellent and re-assuring. She is also on a calming supplement a mycotoxin binder and a mare herbal supplement so no wonder she was a bit more rideable than the wild woman I rode the other day.

I have actually had a little bit of an epiphany with Bill. I have been putting a lot o pressure on her and myself to get her out and competing because she is seven, and I lost a lot of time while I was depressed and just not in a state to take on a relatively opinionated and very athletic young horse. The fact is I'm not that comfortable riding her at home, so how can I be ready to compete? There is more work to be don, so instead of looking at show dates and saying I'll have her ready for this class, I'm just going to train her, and when I feel more comfortable and confident in her then I will look for a show. Generally i do it the other way around to keep having goals to work towards and check points to assess my progress but Bill isn't going t work to my schedule I don't think. So I'll look at taking her to a show once I can canter a course of jumps easily at home and at a strange venue. Better plan. There is no rush, her age doesn't matter, I'll just more horse in her later years.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Back in the saddle

First ride since hitting my head yesterday. Just went for a walk around the farm on Connie. It was really odd. It was the first time in a really long time- years and years and years- that it felt odd and awkward to be in the saddle. I think it's related to my back which I hurt coming of Connie a month ago which has now gotten quite stiff and sore with the lack of activity as I recover from the head. I have had a couple of big busters lately which has sort of hurt the confidence I'm not going to lie.

So with my back being sore I can walk and only walk. Trotting really hurts, cantering is agony, my back isn't absorbing any of the shock at all. I have a show in two weeks and it this rate I wont be going I would say. Big sigh.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Recovering Slowly

I didn't realise concussions were so debilitating to be honest. Still haven't been back on a horse. Was going to try today but did some work instead and now my head is a bit sore so I might give it a miss. I Have cancelled all my show entries until the 4th when I do one day at the Feilding 3* show. I think my first class out is the amateur in the indoor arena so I'm not that optimistic it will go well. Always I hit some road bumps mid season and this is it.

I'm a bit lost really. Started the season with four horses going well and fit and looking good for the season coming and now I'm down to two and wondering how I can work through the issues of Bill. Though I think she was in season which added to her mareness the other day and that was a factor in her bucking. Connie of course is still my baby and I'm really starting to miss riding her. I feel I'm not having a lot of luck right now really. Either that or I'm making mistakes somewhere I don't know about. I'm still thinking pretty hard about sending Bill away and if she is really difficult again I will look into that. I would rather work through it myself though.

Now I'm going to go an take a nap. Hope you are all getting on better with your horses than I am with mine haha.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Young Farmers Show and a wee knock on the bean

I am so freaking behind and I'm so sorry about that! Bill and Ging were entered at this smaller local level show. My Mum came and watched and said she didn't like watching anymore because most of the riding was so bad. So yea bill in the 65cm and she did pretty well only the double was set in a really bad place and she wouldn't jump it. But other than that she was pretty good with the crowds of horses and atmosphere and everything. On the way pout being cheeky I jumped 3 and 4. In hindsight I should have just skipped the double and I think they would have let me do that because it was obvious she was very green. I think if I had had more opportunities to jump her recently she would have been fine.

Ging jumped really well but I had a stop at the last fence. I thought we would get there but ging being so back behind the bridle just didn't get there and it was a bit of a curfuckle. Can't do that again I'll lose the ride if he keeps getting stops. After this I have done some pole work with poles set at 12 feet so he has to open his canter and stretch over them and poles set one stride to four strides and then made him get the distances and he seemed a little more forward to the small jumps I popped over afterwards.

So anyways was riding Bill and she was bucking and I tried pulling her up hard after she bucked to see if that would help- it works with some horses. Ahh no she got worse a lot worse. Sat at some incredible bucks if I do say so myself but eventually she got me and I landed on my head. Knew I had done myslef some real damage there. Called for help but no one could hear me so I got up caught the horse. got back on rode for a minute at he walk until my vision started blurring. Untacked the horse went inside, started losing the feeling in my hands. Over the next two hours had 2 tramadol, two pacacetomol with codiene and 2 ibuprofen and nothing even touched the agony I was in. Not cool! Off to hospital at midnight- threw up twice which meant I had to have a ct scan. That was clear and I am also a little surprised they didn't mention how beautiful my brain was it was still a relief to know it was intact- the prognosis being a grade 2 concussion. The intensity of the pain had me a little concerned. Finally got some good drugs and was dishcarged with my Mum - she is a nurse so I was in good hands- got home and could sleep and woke up feeling a lot better.

So that was two days ago and I'm still pretty dazed and confused. My head is very tender and I'm still movement and light sensitive and a little slow on the uptake. The meds that help most with the pain are also making me pretty dopey. And I need to replace my helmet after that one which means I'll have to go for a cheaper option because I'm pretty light on coin. Which is ok of course as long as its safe but I did love my beautiful IRH. I don't really know whats happening i have fallen off so much this season its unbelivable really. Morse falls than I have probably had in the last three years. I do wonder what I'm doing wrong.

And Bill I need a new plan of action here because really I have reached this point and stagnanted pretty badly. Mother thinks I'm probably too soft on her which is probably right, I tend to use work and pressure to punish a horse rather than hidings. In hindsight I should never have tried pulling her up and been more about going forward but you have to try things. So my options as I see them are- save some money and send her away for a month or so to someone who can sit her buck but is still a good rider- I did think about sending her to pig hunters on the coast but maybe they will be a bit rough. The other option I thought was maybe to add some valerian and raspberry leaf to her diet and see if I can bring her down a bit and get her a bit more rideable. I don't htink I'm scared of her really so thats good, but I'm getting frustrated that I'm not making any progress.

Also sad is missing the next two shows! The doctor said 10 days before riding again and while if I had a sprain or something I'd be right back in the saddle, my brain is quite importat to me so I'm ok to follow doctors orders. Horses eh! And life.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thomas Fuchs clinic

I had put my hand up to be part of a clinic with Thomas Fuchs who was brought over from Switzerland. To be honest I didn't think I would get in because it was very expensive and ended up being very elite. I was very much the least experienced in my group which meant I had to work very hard. It was an 8 hour drive up to the clinic which was hard on my poor old back. Then when we stopped for groceries Truckie who must have been exhausted refused to start. I tried all my techniques of kicking things and hoping hard but I couldn't fix it and we had to wait for a mechanic. Then I lost my side and rear lights so I got pulled over by TWO policemen but they let me carry on because the road only had light traffic on it. It was such a relief to pull up at Penny Stevenson Sport Horses and be able to unload, feed and go to bed.

The next day I was watching lessons all day and was pretty much freaking out watching the caliber of riders struggle with the exercises and he was very yelly. Not that it isn't a little nice to see a top GP rider a) get told off and b) struggle with small exercises. I think one of things I really picked up from this is that we don't push ourselves enough in exercises at home. This stuff shouldn't be hard- dog legs, angle4 fences, narrows and turning up tightly to the fences but you don't really practice it at home you know. Realistically I can only build like four jumps so that makes it hard as well.

My group was stronger than expected and Connies flatwork was only really average in the group and I run into trouble when it came to collecting. She just can't collect well. I have spent so long going forward I have only just started the collection training and I haven't been asking for anywhere enough. She just kept breaking. This also meant I couldn't get the right number of strides in the pole exercises and he basically gave up on me and let me canter down doing the wrong strides. Which is good really because it saved Connie and I getting frazzled trying to do exercises we weren't capable of.

Luckily I have done a lot of training with Grant Cashmore which meant I have a good regular canter and practice at jumping at an angle from nearly stand to stand. And the jumping actually wasn't very bad. I made my distances ok and the little horse jumped quite well.

The second day her flatwork was a lot better and still the polework was a right off but she jumped so well. She was the only horse in my group to not take a rail and to not need to repeat an exercise. The final course started with a double one stride of narrow fences about 1m- four strides down to a 1.20m triple bar. Right around the arena and then rollback off of the fence- two strides to an oxer about 1.05m then a bending 6 stride line to a double of planks and liverpools set about 1.15m. Then a right hand turn onto a 1.1m upright and four shorter strides to a 1.20m double. So yea tough enough course eh but Connie was well on form and my eye was on and so it was pretty easy and I got some very nice comments from the other riders. Thomas said "Very good Rebecca, good jumping, poles not so good. Do them at home. Many many times" So while it was made abundantly clear I have a lot of schooling work to do, it was nice to know my jumping is in the right place for the level I am competing at.

One thing that was quite funny is that he made us count our strides everywhere and so many people struggled with it. He asked me what my problem with 4 and 5 was, because I tend to count in my head to 1 2 3 and then 1 2 3 again in a 6 stride line, and 1 2 3 1 2 in a 5 stride, and when I was focusing on my canter and distance my voice just followed my head. Haha!

I tried to get pictures of the horse I am borrowing but my camera spat the dummy. Anyway, he is an 8yo 16.2hh called Ginga, half stationbred and half Dutch by VDL Emillion. He is a simple soul and needs to get going forward more and trust the hand and not react so strongly to the contact. He also needs lots of hill work for strength so thats why he is here, that and my friend is very kind.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Many many changes and Manawatu A+P

The last week has been such an insane swirl of horse stuff and changes. Rascal went on the market at a price I would describe as cheap as chips and so I have gotten a lot of interest. She is currently under offer and waiting for the results of a final x-ray as to whether or not she is sold to what would be a very very good home so my fingers and toes are pretty tightly crossed.

Kate came to Manawatu to stand at the show so that no one got left alone at the truck while they were coming and going. She didn't leave with me however. A friend has traded me Kate for a horse she has had enough of and wants to have a break from who she wants jumped around 1m-1.10m tracks aiming eventually at amateurs so he can go on the market as an amateur horse. So yea a boy horse and he isn't bay. He is a very sensitive chap though and requires a really quiet ride so he will be very good for making me subtle and consistent and soft. Which is good because with Kates stopping I had gotten quite hard at the base of the fence. Kate has gone to my friends house to beat up her gang of horrible teenage fillies who all think very highly of themselves. Which is mission accomplished I'm told. The very next morning horrible teenage leader filly had been outted and Kate was large and in charge. This is a good job for a cranky mare with minor arthritis I think. She has forty acres of grass to her knees so she should be happy there.

Connie was first up in the amateur class and I don't really know what it was. I suspect I didn't get her woken up and in front of the leg enough but the mare didn't want to play ball at all and after a stop at fence 3 I was then eliminated at the combination at fence 4. Blerk I was pretty pissed. I don't know what her deal was really. And fair cop she isn't a bike or a robot but she was very adamant she wasn't doing her job that day. Later entered her into the 1.05m which was the last class of the day in the other ring.

Then I saddled up the new man in my life for the the 1m class. Now this was the third time I had ever ridden him and the second time I had ever jumped him, having gone down the night before to have a bit of a jump on him to get a feel for him. Warm-up went ok, but it was just odd to be on a horse so different to what I'm used too. He is able to collect really well and likes to canter really quietly to the fence. If you ride him up he sort of over reacts to the leg and is very light mouthed but I like him. Anyway so I went onto the 1m got a bad ride to the first fence for an awkward jump, survived around to the double got a nice ride in and he jumped in nicely and then I just let him canter down to the second obstacle, not remembering that he really needs to be ridden up his distances. He was a long way off the second obstacle but to his credit he still jumped when I dug my little heels in, though he nearly lost me in the air! I heard my friends laughing and apparently they had heard me go "not good not good" as I cantered away which I didn't even know I said.

Anyway, remarkably we had jumped a clear round. I had really jumped in at the deep in this class so I thought about retiring but then I was like man I really need to go through the double again. So I sucked it up and just jumped around quietly and got a much better ride in the double. Good shit, I was very stoked.

Then Connie came out for the 1.05m and while I was warming up a heavy rain shower came down and she threw her toys. She was doing her rearing and I got out of time with her bouncing and I just knew that I had screwed it up and that the next one we were going over. And we did, she went up and I had that sickening feeling on the horse beyond her balance, I feel and landed really heavily on the lumbar region of my back and lay there with my eyes closed in utter terror waiting for the impact of the horse hitting me. When I got brave enough to open them she hadn't actually fallen and was sitting like a dog thank jeebers. Very scary. So it was a shaky version of myself that got back onto Connie though she didn't offer to rear at all again and hopefully she has given herself a fright and will put it to rest. She warmed up really well though I was riding her very firmly. She then jumped super awesome in the ring for a double clear round and we won the class. So why she would not jump in the morning and then jump so well in the afternoon after having a fall is beyond me. Though probably it's me and the additional firmness and togetherness.

The drive home was agony and by the time I got home I was so stiff I could only walk like a little hunchback with the pain my back was in. It's just badly bruised with no major damage but still ow. Falling onto surfaces is not all that forgiving eh? I was really concerned about it because the next day I was supposed to drive halfway across the island to train with a top trainer from Switzerland. Yikes!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wairarapa A and P show- Sat/Sun

So Saturday was the day I decided to retire Kate and you guys already know how that paid out but both Connie and Rascal got a start on Saturday as well. Rascal was second in the welcome showhunter but as soon as it went up to 1m she started stopping and wouldn't make the distances. I think I have found her max height jumping. She is great up to 1m but at that height she starts to pack it in. The next day she wouldn't even jump the practice fence so obviously I had given her a fright. It's hard to deal with a horse who doesn't give you a break at all. If I could be 100% accurate all the time at 1m she would be all good and jump happily but I can't. I watch horse after horse tolerate misses much worse than I ever give Rascal and they keep happily jumping. I have dropped her price really drastically and hopefully she will sell soon. She is going to make someone a really nice horse but she needs to be somewhere where jumping is not the primary focus.

Connie had the 1.20m on Saturday. It was a smaller track than the day before but technical enough and I was pretty nervous. It still looks pretty big to me hey! She jumped really well had a bit of a hiccup when I got too deep to the fence five and then added all the way down the related line. Still she jumped clear and just had one rail in the jump-off when I got her a little close. I'm pretty accurate but I love that she will forgive me my mistakes. I still haven't got her rolling quite enough but it will come.

The amateur was on Sunday and it was a tough enough track and again with the treble! Last season I jumped maybe four trebles all year and I have jumped that many already this season. Started well, got a little pully to the third fence which she hit but didn't fall. Then landed and was like yup get going, got a good ride to the fifth fence and she took it out with her front legs from a good distance so go figure. Maybe the pony likes it more difficult. Turned to the treble and saw a great distance to it so that I was able to just ride up to it slightly and she jumped in perfect. A little hesitation on landing but I picked up my contact and she jumped through it so well. Only three clears so clearly it was a difficult enough track. Luckily for me I have a fat little horse I have to keep rolling on and so I was fifth overall being the 2nd fastest round on four faults. Yay more amateur series points. Love that pony. Had already put her away so collected my ribbon on a horse I may catch ride for a while all going well. Just have to clear it with the parentals.