Sunday, January 29, 2012

Langdale Horse Sports

Some of the pictures are too large and I can't resize them but if you open them in another tab you will be able to see the whole picture and it will be worth it :)

So on Saturday I went out to Langdale horse sports with Connie, Bill and Kate. A horse sports is the most grass roots competition we have around here, just a small local event. Kate was only along for the ride to make sure that Bill had a good influence not just the hot headed Connie who would have thrown her toys about being left alone at the truck while I was riding Bill. And Bill did not need to have the shrieking Connie distracting her so Kate is a godsend in that regard. And yes Connie is very naughty but I give her some slack because she jumps good.

This was not Bills first show we did a small one ages ago and she was pretty good but got eliminated at the double and she was wearing the evil girth so it was going to be pretty different this time with her super special fleece girth. Now Bill is a bold wee horse, the biggest issue is she is pretty horse shy. She thinks that strange horses cantering and jumping are going to eat her. She makes up for her shyness by being aggressive and wanting to lunge at the other horse so I will red ribbon her tail next time. I suspect she would kick.

The warm up arena was pretty hairy with lots of people charging around so I did a lot of trotting and then went in for a practice round hoping to get away from the chaos. The chaos followed me into the practice round however and there were soon five people charging around the course sometimes nearly crashing into each other. Le sigh. Still apart from some hairy moments it was pretty good for her to be exposed to this kind of madness. The first practice round she had a good look at one picket and a stop at the picket further on around the course but then jumped it straight away the next time around.

Her first round was 60cm and she was awesome. She trotted around well and jumped everything quite confidently. Just getting a bit crooked to some of them but still jumping really happily and taking me to the fences and seemed to be enjoying herself which is excellent.

After that class I took her bridle off and let her rest for a while and then she went in the 75 cm. I only walked her around for her second warm up as it was such a hot day and for a while she even stood ringside with the other horses and rested a hindleg so I was very happy she was getting so relaxed. The 75cm looked huge to me I wont lie and she obvious thought it was worth some effort because man was she jumping.

She also decided she has figured out doubles so she jumped in from the trot took one or two strides depending which double and just launched out of them even though she was miles away. Bold as brass this horse. But I'm happy she was so confident to get so straight to them and canter through.

I then did the jump-off for that class but just trotted around quietly. She did have one little tiny buck but I think it was more a I'm tired and hot and a bit over this than anything else. certainly nothing concerning. I was going to let her canter the last half of the jump-off course but she broke to the trot and I was content to let her trot and finish strongly. I can start jumping her from the canter at home now because she feels so good. She also loves that long distance.

My friend who has Ginga had 4 horses in one class and was pretty flat out classes only being about 20 people so after 6 weeks apart Ging and I joined forces again for the 95cm class. He is such a goober and definitely we have lost a bit of the connection we were forming but he is a nice guy so it was nice to jump him again. Had one stupid stop at the brush because we both got sucked to the base. I needed to have been more attacking and got him more forward and confident to it and it would have been fine but there you are. It happens. Like I say I haven't even ridden him for 7 weeks so to get on and go basically straight into the ring was fairly tough. I still feel like I ride him pretty well which is good.

Connie was in the 1.10m class and felt really awesome. She is a great. Cruised around the course easy as. Rode up for the five strides down to the double and she did back off it a little but then jumped through really confidently.

It probably wasn't visible to spectators but I felt her be all hmm this is a double. But the doubles were really short at this show so she found it easy as. Saved my butt to the last fence when I was a long way off the take off but didn't have room for another stride and she just left the ground and jumped huge. The picture is quite dark and small but you can see how high her body is. Go pony.

Put in a good jump-off and she was awesome as usual and she ended up in second place. She really is a great little horse. she is starting to really enjoy her jump offs and she just was so smooth and easy to ride in both of her rounds. She makes me look good haha.

A huge thank you to my friend Fe who came out and took all the photos and was chief cheerleader and a huge help.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sometimes its in the little details

I used to ride a big grey horse who by nature was an ungenerous bastard who would give you nothing. If you weren't 100% he would try and destroy you. And I agonised over that horse. I tried a million different bits, saddles, girths, chiros, massage therapists, holistic blah blah blah and on and on looking for what ever was the cause of what made this horse so surly and difficult. And I could never find it. He was a product of his earlier training and in the end, I wasn't the rider for the horse and I sold him on.

I think though he has coloured my thinking, because I was ridiculed for looking for a pain issue and in both the Kate and Bill I have missed a pain issue. Kates stopping from her knee and I should have picked that up earlier. Though in my defense it was very mild arthritis, but enough to make Kate pack it in. And I feel terrible about Bill because I feel with my experience I shouldn't be missing things like this.

Bill was making really good progress at the start of the season and coming on but had a little bit of a buck when she was unbalanced and was easily managed. Then I changed her gear set up and without really putting it together we started to stagnate. I have been frustrated with the lack of progress and her attitude. She has been resistant and surly and the buck has gotten worse and worse until of course I ended up being ejected on my head. She was definitely telling me more and more emphatically that she wasn't happy. And I just didn't pick up on it. Even after the head injury I hadn't changed the girth, just her bridle.

Then one day the light hit her coat slightly differently and the shine gave away a tiny dip in her side. I was like say what and then realised it was from the buckles on my stupid girth- even through the saddle flaps. For the record the girth was a shaped wintec girth, brand spanking new. I ran my hand down her side and she was hugely girthy. Stink. I gave her plenty of time off and now she is in a fleece girth with elastic at either end. And it's like I have given her a brain transplant. She is so settled, forward and happy in herself. She still swishes her tail but has yet to feel like she would buck.

Today she happily trotted around jumps up to about 70cm, even over barrels on their sides and felt like the horse I had at the start of the year but actually better because she didn't love that girth either. Such a tiny tiny thing and it's made a huge difference and had I been smarter and given her the benefit of the doubt I could have saved myself a head injury. Sorry Bill.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pictures from the Taupo Christmas classic

Connie in the Amateur

With my friend watching the 6yo on my very good grandstand Ginga

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Horowhenua IA&P Show

So a great show to get back into the ring on. It was just a great show, the most fun I have had in ages. The knee wasn't painful internally but the breeches did rub it and make it weep and hurt at skin level so I was glad I was only riding for one day, it would have sucked to open it up a second day.

First class was a 1.10m class because I wanted to ease myself back into it. It was big enough though and a windy technical course. Certainly it caused a few problems but not too many. About 55 in the class and 24 in the jump-off. I started out a bit sticky. Didn't have enough canter and was getting a little deep and sticky to the fences but Connie is a good duck and helped me out even though it meant I added two strides in the double but in my defense it was quite long. After that I sorted my shit out and got a better ride to the rest of the course and she jumped really well and she was clear! Yay.

Now Connie is not fast, nor particularly nimble or catty, but she does have a ground covering stride, and she will jump where ever I put her. Jump-offs are not really her strength. Still I was going to give it a good crack. Good ride 1 and 2 nice and forward, tight turn back (She is good at these too) inside a couple of fences, jumped three on a steep angle, two strides in the double again but it meant I could turn back hard inside another fence. Jumped the swedish oxer nearly stand to stand the angle was so steep and then jumped the liverpool to the final fence in 5 big strides instead of 6 strides. It saves a second to leave out a stride. I ended up 5th which I was rapt with and only like 2 seconds behind the leader which I was impressed by. Good pony. Many kisses for her.

Then I had the amateur class. Had blown out the cobwebs by then, after a good talking to by a friend about my motives and enjoying myself I lightened up a bit and off we went. Had a much better ride. More forward and flowing and getting better distances and more in tune with the horse. Had a rail in the double when she hesitated in the middle and a rail somewhere else I don't actually know. I thought I had 1 rail. Still I was still sixth because I was the fastest with two rails which shows it was a tough enough track. Lester never builds easy, there is always a test or two. A great day. Very successful. I'm so lucky to have that horse, she tries her heart out for me and she may not be the most talented jumper but she is mine and I love her.

I have photos from Taupo I will scan in the next couple of days so you can look forward to that.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Back in the saddle 3

The knee wound a couple of days after the stitches came out but before I stopped dressing it and let it dry.

It's terrible I have had to make three of these threads in the last two months. I need to take better care of myself! So like it says I am riding again. The knee woun has gaped a little more than I had hoped and the scar will be fairly large and it still hurts like a bitch. Overnight it gets stiff and then it hurts when I first start moving as I break up the adhesions and the nerve damaged areas just feel bizarre. I have always had a ticklish left knee, now I imagine I wont be able to stand anyone near it.

Still I'm back in the saddle again and feeling pretty good. Connie has maintained her fitness better than I hoped and has lost a lot of weight, so she is looking and feeling good. She has the most amazing dapples which is always a good sign. She is a bit tense and resistant on the flat but thats no surprise with the lack of recent schooling. Have had a light jumping session down a grid which ended up with the last oxer standing at 1.30m and she just skipped over so that was a nice feeling. She is a great little horse, she really is. I just wish she was a super star so she could be my first grand prix horse because we have such a good bond and she looks after to me.

Kim has been riding Bill while she is back in the country. I rode her for the first time today and she was really really good. A completely different horse to the horse that I got concussed coming off a while back. A new bridle set up and a fleecy girt and she is a happy pony apparently. Her canter has gone to the dogs a bit because she hasn't had the work to keep her balanced but given time I'm confident it will come. I'm getting more confident I'll be able to take her to a little show in the coming weeks. She popped over the cross no worries and stayed more relaxed about everything than she has for a long time.

Back into the show ring on Friday when I jump at the Levin A+P. I'm only doing the Friday though because I hate the set up and over night facilities for the horses, I'm feeling poor and I wasn't sure how my knee would be when I did the entries. Jumping the 1.10m class first out seeing as it has been 4 weeks since I last showed, and then the amateur class later in the day. If she places in the amateur I'll definitely go South for Nationals but otherwise I probably wont. It's a huge investment to take one horse down. If I was taking two good horses that would be different because you have a fall back if one gets sore or just isn't feeling like jumping. The prize money down there is unreal though. Still you have to actually win it and those south Islanders are fierce as are the visiting North Islanders of course. That and there are two reasonable relatively local shows on the same weekends.

So thats me really. Same old. Glad to be getting back to strength and mobile again after this knee injury. Still going super slow on the quad bike though!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Time keeps on ticking

Kates ears

Well my stitches come out tomorrow and in a few days I'll be home again and able to start riding again. At this stage it looks like just Bill and Connie will be at home and it will be odd to only have two horses in work. So quiet! Ging is back with his owner and I suspect he wont be coming back to me. The next show is in two weeks and I have no idea if I'll go to be honest. It's 6 or 7 hours away and it's also North Island champs and I suspect I'll be far to rusty to justify that sort of travelling. It is double amateur points which would be good, but after a concussion and now my knee I have fallen a long way from 24th in the standings.

It's finally started to dry up and I'm going to be proactive about looking at shoeing options that will Keep Connie feeling good in her front legs and not jarring up on the harder ground. She has such a high and sort of pounding front action that every year as the ground gets harder I have to be very careful what ground I jump her on and to balance her work requirements with saving her legs.

What is also quite unfortunate is I was planning to use the Christmas season to get Connie really a lot fitter as she isn't jumping with the enthusiasm of the really fit Connie, only the ok fit Connie. The fitter and better she feels the better and higher and more athletically she jumps. But now she has sat in the paddock for the last 10 days doing nothing but losing fitness. Though her and Bill have both been on a strict diet and hopefully they will be a bit trimmer when I get back. I hope to be back in the saddle on Monday or Tuesday depending how I feel.

Hopefully everyone else is having an easier time than I am.