Tuesday, August 30, 2016

8/28/2016 Schooling Show

Who is this devilishly handsome horse?? What happened to my baby horse?

This will be known as, that time Penn the Fucking Rockstar came out to play!

Rewind to Saturday night when I went to start the truck to take it for gas. It wouldn't start. The battery was 5 years old and has been acting up, and it finally died. A jump start and $127 later, the truck had a new battery. Husband checked that the alternator was working properly, so no worries there. At least I got to use fuel perks to fill it up! Another horrible thing happened: the battery change caused something to go wrong with the actuators/flappers that control if heat or A/C comes out of the vents... The passenger side got whatever temperature the climate control was set to... The driver got full blast heat, right off the engine. Perfect. It was supposed to be 90+ degrees Sunday (and it was).

Truck getting it's new battery.

Sunday ended up being the longest day ever. I left the house at 7:30am, and didn't come back until 9:30pm, and in that time, it was never ending moving around. I worked at the barn in the morning, then bathed and braided and packed the trailer in the late morning/early afternoon. BO's daughter M was showing this weekend too, so we hauled together. The show was very full- it went from 8am to 6:30pm, and M didn't ride until 5:06pm, and I didn't ride until 5:51pm. We left the barn at 2 and hauled out to the show.


Everything was very uneventful to start- hauling out, unpacking, waiting for our times to come up. However, after M rode her first test, thunder started rolling in, along with dark puffy storm clouds. As I tacked up Penn, the thunder became more and more frequent. No dawdling today! Once that storm hit, there was not going to be a thunderstorm break. It was going to be the end of the show.

I think I have this same pic of him, except from a year ago.

I visited the tack shop that came to this show, and I picked up another half pad. I really like the Toklat Coolback half pad (I get the A/P version because the D version has some stupid fleece fluff that runs down the front panel, which doesn't make sense to me), but I've been having trouble finding it at a price point I like and then in that particular version. It's shimable (not that I need to), and was only $100. I've been wanting a second one so that I can wash my existing one more often than I do (I can trade them out now!). I cut off the tags and used it that day!

Brand new, slightly dirty, fluff!

As soon as I got on Penn, I instantly knew what horse I was sitting on. I had a fucking rockstar to ride. For as fucking solid as he felt, he was fairly looky, which I found disturbing. However, remember that carefully put together and PRACTICED warm up plan? It did the job like it was supposed to. I was a bit lost at first, and then was like, "OK, what's the plan? Right. Here we go." Starting with walking leg yield zig zags (with no contact with the rail), I slowly got his attention back. Shifting his body for the win! We spent about 7-10 min walking I think. Just putting together the leg yields and getting him responding and flexible again. I skipped straight to canter, and did a very abbreviated canter run through- 15m circles, a shallow loop or two, simple change, and a little bit the other way. Penn's canter felt SO STRONG. Like, he's in control of his body and I'm not controlling all of his legs. At this point, Penn was being eaten by flies so a wonderful friend from the barn, T (who had come out to watch), grabbed the fly spray and sprayed him down again. He nearly jumped out of his skin though- he's very hit or miss with sprays and he was feeling sensitive. We ran through a little trot work with 1-2 leg yields, then walked (connected with the bridle) while M finished up her second test. Warm up only lasted 15-20 min, and I still had time to kill. It all depends on how he comes out of the stall. I think this warm up plan is a winner though- he could have very easily swung the other way and been a looky bastard.

It was at that time that I found out we would be riding our tests back to back and closing the show- everyone else had either scratched or moved up into the scratched times (it was hot and a severe thunderstorm was rolling in). The judge was excellent- she kept the show rolling and on time. When I came by, she asked how much time I wanted between tests, and I told her just a walk lap around should be good- I want to be packed up before that storm hit. She said, "Me too!"

And so we were off on 1-2. The cameras were shooting directly into the sun, which kept getting covered and uncovered by clouds, so all the lighting is off. Sorry! You should be able to hear some thunder in both test videos.

Running commentary: He was just looky- I had trouble keeping him straight on centerline after the halt, then I botched the first lengthening. I just asked for way too much instead of letting it ooze out to a natural max reach for him right now. I've been way too effective in finding more sideways for each step of the leg yield- the first one was wobbled between too much over and not enough. I need to practice riding a smooth line. The second trot lengthen was nothing special and took too long to develop into something nice, but the second leg yield was better (it is just better leg yielding left since he's better with right bend). He needs more swing in his back in the walk, however with the lookyness he had that day, I was happy with quiet. The canter transition needs to be a little better. I was very happy with the canter work itself through the end of the test. We still struggle with the transition from lengthen canter to working, which was the weakest part of the canter work, but better on Sunday than it has been in the past.

Pictures from 1-2 (husbands super nice professional camera quit working- it couldn't handle the changes in light and then shooting direct into the light, so these are all from his cell phone):

And the test comments:

68.750% - 1st out of 3. They added up the score wrong on this test AGAIN. They keep dropping the last centerline score, so I'm inclined to believe they dropped it from everyone's this time and that time back in May.

I walked out of the ring, then around to the right and did some leg yield zig zags in walk to get him thinking about work, not being looky. I need to remember to add this to our courtesy lap when we get to the show ring. No hurrying, just leg yield right and left and then right and left again. Constantly shifting his balance right and left is such a steadying factor for this horse. When I came back around, the judge asked if I was ready, and I said, "Sure, I certainly can't make it any better at this point, only worse!" She laughed and said, "That sounds like me!" and rung the bell.

I wish I had video of him coming down the outside of the ring, his trot just felt SO SOLID. It was an excellent first impression trot.

Running commentary: I can't believe I didn't make it to X at the first halt!!! Bad!!! Again, the first trot lengthen was slow to develop and he got a ton better after crossing centerline as I felt him settle and then stretched my hand forward so he could reach more forward too. I had the same problem with the leg yield right that I had in the first test- too steep. I got it fixed and made it to centerline a few steps before X, which allowed me to properly set up for the leg yield left instead of doing my cheating method I developed in the past week. He didn't stretch as well as I know he can in his stretchy circle, and then proceeded to be extra fussy in the next 10m circle and into the halt. The halt ended up being a good reset, because he was back on task after. We got a little stuck in the transition to walk, and then lost some of our march. Penn caught the changing shadows when it came time to medium walk-trot-canter because he became very up and light as he stared at them, which made me ease him into the trot instead of kicking him on at the letter. Too large a 15m canter circle, lengthen needs more cover, into an EXCELLENT shallow loop (trainer's exercise FTW). I thought the simple change was better than a 6.5, because it was significantly better for Penn. The second lengthening was just not enough, so there was practically no change for the transition to working. The second shallow loop was good too. I realized Penn was running out of gas by that point and the second trot lengthen was a struggle, so I posted to try and fake it.

Pictures from 1-3:

Not everything was sunshine and rainbows, lol.
He inverted into the simple change.

And the test comments:

70.441% - 1st out of 1, but it was the First Level High Score!

By that point in time, it was thundering louder and there was lightning.

The storm rolling in.

M had taken her horse up to the barn to untack already, and then we proceeded to do quick pony showers (opting to vetrolin after getting home), and then doing a trailer turbo-pack. T was wonderful- she helped haul things and get horses loaded. It only took two trips with everyone involved to get all our stuff over to the trailer. I was concerned because Penn hadn't drank anything since returning to the barn (and he returned as a sweaty mess), so I sprayed the hose in his mouth to at least give it a good wetting and he did drink a little of that.

We had tack and horses loaded within a half hour of my last test. I hate doing that to them, and normally I would never hurry them like that, however with the severe thunderstorm coming in, we didn't have a choice. It was actually really really bad- heavy rain, and severe lightning. The kind of lightning that lights up the ground like it's daylight, and we had those bolts at least every few minutes. We saw several bolts make contact with the ground nearby (then felt the thunder shake the trailer) on the drive home. The lightning carried on like that for over 4 hours without letting up at all; it was actually really scary. We got home before the true storm arrived at the barn. We ripped the horses off the trailer, then emptied the tack room in a hurry into the barn aisle. Husband had followed us home because the brake lights weren't working properly, so he acted as our tail lights. He parked the trailer (this trailer's parking spot scares me and I didn't think I'd make in the dark and the rain) and then he helped me get my stuff organized... only to pile it into the barn tackroom in front of my locker because there was no way I was dragging my truck, saddle rack, and buckets out to my trailer down the driveway in the rain and lightning. Hell, we didn't even turn our horses out for the night. M said she'd come back later in the evening and turn them out when the lightning had died down.

Husband got me a new addition for the truck- tiny Hulk! My favorite Avenger (when played by Mark Ruffalo).
Tiny Hulk says: "We smashed the competition!"
Awkward posing together.

Overall, we had a very successful show day. I'm very happy with how much more uphill balance Penn has now vs in June. Penn was looky, but we've developed a way to deal with it and still be effective. But as always, there are things we need to work on before Championships:
  • lengthening trot (and transitions)
  • lengthening canter (and transitions)
  • halts- he tends to rest a foot, which is worse in my book than not being square!
  • 1-3: stretchy trot to 10m circles
  • 1-3: 15m canter circle accuracy (I need to do some math and draw out the 4 points in our arena at home)
  • Continuing to strengthen Penn's hindquarters for better engagement and uphill motion.
The warm up I've been using for the past week or two was very effective in getting Penn together for a test and getting him to focus. Love, love, love it. Trainer's double, extra shallow loop exercise made a world of difference in the canter. The change in his balance was immediate. Now it only takes small reminders to get him thinking about balancing himself again.

We have lesson Tuesday night, trail ride Wednesday, a lesson review on Thursday, then we're off to visit Austen and Guinness for a recognized show and fun!


  1. Congrats! I love love love that first picture of him. He is soooo handsome.

    1. Thank you! I love love love that first picture too, it's going to be featured on here so many times!

  2. Congrads, you guys look great! Also what is that GORGEOUS vest you have? Because I need one?

    1. Thanks! And that vest a $5 find at Goodwill. I'm still attempting to find my own- a friend found it back in March and I've been borrowing it every chance I get! I'm debating an attempt at using it to make a pattern and then sewing my own because Ladies Suit Vests are just hard to come by... well ones that would be appropriate for dressage!

    2. I can't even go out and just buy it full price- it's Elementz brand and they seem to not make this vest anymore!

  3. You guys look so amazing! What a rockstar he is especially with dealing with that storm. I hope one day that Katai can be half that brave :)

    1. Thanks! To be honest, the storm wasn't very distracting. What was distracting was the tear down that was happening behind the camera- the show office was strapping everything down, the tack shop was putting down awnings and pulling in their items and loading their trailer. The last few horse trailers were driving by the arena and heading out. Everyone was fleeing the storm!

  4. aww he's all grown up! you guys look fantastic, it must feel so good to see all your hard work and careful planning pay off!

    1. I know! He's not a baby horse anymore. He's a bit more grown up. I'm am beyond thrilled with how our hard work is paying off. I'm just not sure where this distracted looky horse has come from, but I think he went through that stage before too. I think that will go away soon though... I hope, because a lot of the unsteadiness in the bridle came from him wanting to look and me not letting him! I am so excited for our fall schedule!

  5. Fiction has been really distracted and looky lately too - maybe the grass is greener after all that rain we got not long ago? Dunno. But great job :)

    1. They're whispering things over the wall to each other during the day. Silly ponies. And thanks!

  6. Man, he has such GORGEOUS natural movement he's basically impossible not to love!

  7. Congrats on the successful show. You guys look great.

    1. Thanks! I'm hoping it's a sign of future things to come!

  8. What a verrryyyy lovely horse.