Saturday, October 31, 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015

Schooling Show Ponderings With Some Math

Nothing is going on here. I haven't been able to ride since lesson on Monday because I had to return my trial saddles Tuesday, Mother Nature decided to become nasty and dump over an inch of rain on us Wednesday and become a spiteful windy beetch on Thursday, and hopefully tonight I will be selling my extra car. So Penn has had 4 days off this week, coming up to a show. Yay. Well I'll ride him tomorrow, he'll be a bit freaky and tense (for him), and then we'll haul off to a show 2.5 hours away on Sunday. Always an adventure.

I got our ride times yesterday- I ride Training 1 at 11:30 and Training 2 at 11:48. E rides Novice A at 2:00, Novice B at 2:12, Training A at 2:24.

Hopefully this is improved enough for training level.
I think I'm going to sleep over at the farm Saturday night in Trainer's LQ trailer. Husband and I will be at a Halloween party about 20 min from the farm that night, so instead of driving a half hour home to drive 45 min back to the farm at the butt crack of dawn, it makes sense to sleep over at the farm. Also, it only makes sense to hook up my trailer in the dark, on Halloween, by myself, in the middle of nowhere, then crawl into a trailer and go to sleep. Umm, yea, that's kind of spooky, haha. But besides that, if I sleep at home, I have to wake up at 4:30 to be at the farm by 6 to feed and hook up. If I sleep at the farm, I can roll out of bed at 6 and go feed the horses in my pajamas and then crawl back into the trailer to get dressed for the show. I'm leaning towards that 6am wake up time! Plus I bet it'll a better quality sleep because I always sleep better in that trailer than at a hotel or my own bed. No idea why. But I'm driving us on Sunday so quality sleep sounds good.

Now here's the thing, I don't know if this show does ribbons and placings, because based on how the schedule goes, the classes aren't running in class order. Like, all of Training 1 doesn't ride one right after another. It's almost like it's a true schooling situation: show up, ride your tests, pick up your test papers, go home. I WANT RIBBONS.

Speaking of ribbons, Penn and I have to bring our game faces because there's 16 people riding Training 1 and 16 riding Training 2, and I assume since there's no class numbers listed that we're all being lumped together (Pros, AA, Jr), if there's even ribbons at all. Let me repeat, I WANT RIBBONS.

Since there's been discussion lately about recognized vs schooling shows, I thought I would take a quick glance at the competition because well, I am super competitive and super nosy. I wanted to know approximately how many riders in my two classes have competed at recognized shows. I did quick searches on Centerline Scores of the people in my two classes (amounted to 21 different riders) and I found the following:

  • Only 5 of us have scores on Centerline Scores (sure, someone might be using a nickname and my brief search failed to find them).
  • One is a 1st level rider, two are 2nd level riders (myself included), one is a 3rd level rider, and one smokes us all by being quite successful at Grand Prix (4* centerline rating, 48 points at Grand Prix, but only with one horse, so no 5* rating).
  • Glancing at the other riders in the show, I recognize several other riders who go to recognized shows.
I'm not coming to any conclusion about what my search means placing-wise because who knows what people are bringing to ride and I have no idea what level the rest of the riders have shown successfully (60%+).

I couldn't help myself, due to the easy search tendencies of Centerline Scores and USEA Rider Lookup, I did quick searches on everyone. There were only 42 unique riders. I hope this doesn't make me too much of a stalker. Sorry. If a rider was riding a dressage test, I looked them up on Centerline Scores. If they were riding an event test, I looked them up on USEA. I didn't check the dressage riders for event results and vice versa. Had to stop somewhere. Note there was one rider who I know competes at recognized events who was riding dressage tests, I counted her.

I found that:
  • Overall, 45.24% of the riders show at some kind of recognized show (USEA or USDF)
  • Of the 35 riders riding dressage tests, 12 (34.29%) show at some kind of recognized show (USEA or USDF)
  • Of the 9 riders riding event tests, 7 (77.78%) show at some kind of recognized show (USEA or USDF)
  • Of the 23 riders who do not compete at recognized shows who are riding dressage tests, 21 (91.30%) are competing at Training and Intro level on Sunday.
  • Of the 12 riders who do compete at recognized shows who are riding dressage tests, 50% are competing at First and Second level on Sunday.
  • An additional note about the 12 riders above, 11 of them (91.67%) have competed at recognized shows at First Level and above successfully; 8 (66.67%) have competed at 2nd Level and above successfully.
  • 90 tests are going to be ridden on Sunday.
  • 20 event tests will be ridden by 9 riders.
  • 70 dressage tests will be ridden by 35 riders.
I hope this isn't too much stalking. I did in in pure interest of the percentages of riders that compete at either USDF or USEA shows who also compete at schooling dressage shows. Make what you will of it.

BTW, I do fully expect the GP rider to smoke everyone in the training level class, no matter what she's sitting on!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

National Cat Day

Nickels, Penny, and Sophie get their own post today. So here's a bunch of pictures of the creatures that converted me into a crazy cat lady cat lover.

First up, Husband's picture of Sophie carpet faced. Fresh from last night.

And now just an obscene number of pictures of my favorite at home furry friends.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Working at the Farm, Lesson, and the Stubben Euphoria

I took care of the farm over the weekend while Trainer was at 4H states. 22 horses by myself? No problem. They spent most of the time outside, coming in for feed and going back out. That makes life a little easier, aside from walking that many in and out (hello leading groups of 2-4 at once). They're pretty super about it.

Some pictures:

Penn got to try out his new feed bag while I was around to watch him. He's a sloppy eater, the feed just goes everywhere. His old owner said he recently had his teeth done, but I'm inclined to have them looked at again. The feed bag works perfectly. No more grain  (or expensive supplement!) over the wall and on the floor for the dogs to eat.
Three of the geldings enjoying a good roll Sunday afternoon.
Ah! All three with 4 legs in the air going at it.
Anyway, I got to ride Cody again this weekend because he needed to go for a walk, and I rode one of trainer's new baby horses (ok so she's 8 or 9 and was just recently broke to ride). So I got some extra riding in, yay!

4* horse Cody is coming back from vacation this month and will be going back to work.
BTW, doesn't he look sharp in the navy DSBs? I texted Trainer this pic and said "Cody wants his own Navy boots."
I ended up taking Monday off of work because I wanted a lesson, the weather was going to be good, and I just wanted a day off. Penn had been super all weekend, but with the show next weekend, I wanted to address picking up the wrong lead with Trainer.

I told her that I had been keeping Penn on a three loop serpentine for most of my rides last week - the constant bending and changing of directions seemed to really help him (and me keep after him). Our best canters had been on the loops of that serpentine.

I had an aha moment - Trainer had me ride as if I was asking for haunches in, but not actually asking for it. It was just to get me to put my outside leg on and keep the outside hind stepping up. I told her when things seemed iffy this past week, I'd been putting that outside leg on to engage the outside hind, and I felt like that's something she's been telling me for years, and it's probably how I should have been riding Mikey all this time, and I'm sorry it only now just clicked in my head.

She laughed and essentially face palmed herself. Yupp, I finally understand the concept. I think it helped that Penn and I have little to no baggage together, so no problem on adding more outside leg. She once again pointed out that for every horse you bring up from nothing, you don't make the previous mistakes and you get better every time. So alrighty then. One mistake fixed, plenty more to come.

She had me switch between sitting trot/posting trot and "collected"/lengthened trot to help mix up what was happening on the serpentine to keep Penn's interest. Once again, she had me pay attention to how much pressure he put in the bridle in the transitions. She also had me work on softening my wrists - my fingers and elbows are soft, and my wrist is quite rigid which makes my fingers very mechanical in their movement when I use them. I had to think about someone pulling my pinky towards the bit in order to soften my wrist and get the funny break in it out. It's hard!

I had wanted to work on the canter transition a bit because I couldn't pin point where I was failing Penn in them- some days the left lead was elusive, some days it was the right, and some days it was neither!

We attacked the canter by first finding the good trot we had in the first part of lesson, paying attention to keeping my outside leg on, then just asking for left lead canter and seeing what happened. He was prompt, inverted and not running off, but not calm and cool either. Back to trot. Except when going back to trot, if he so much as added an extra ounce of pressure to the rein as he stepped downward, tap with the whip on the right hip to keep the right hind working.

She had me do at least two transitions to and from canter per circle. The point before was getting in canter and staying there. Now the point needs to be getting there and having what you get be a better quality canter. To the left, he never really missed the leads because I was good about my outside leg being back and supportive of his outside hind, and then my inside seatbone naturally sat deeper and he figured out the leads easily.

Something to think about, and I'm not sure where I heard it but: the step or two before asking for canter, slide the outside leg back without actually pressing it into the horse and asking for canter, half halt, and then press the outside leg and ask. This tunes the horse into the fact that a canter transition is coming and then they're ready. It was almost that kind of idea.

As we progressed to the left, she had me pay more attention to softening my rein in the upward transition and not holding him together. With the outside hind support, he quite naturally carried himself in a balanced canter and I never fought for my circle (something I always did with Mikey when we got the outside leg going). If he got leaning on me, she had me "take a tug" with the outside rein and tap the outside hip with the whip, but then give the rein back almost immediately so he had nothing to lean on. A couple of those and I had a neat little horse who was carrying himself nice and through in canter on a circle! The same idea applied in the downward transitions. Ask from the seat, very little to no hand, and if he leaned on me, take a tug and give and tap with the whip.

We repeated for a short time to the left, then went to the right. We only did a handful there- the right is much easier for him. I did get a couple wrong leads here, mostly because I wasn't clear enough with him about the outside leg/inside seatbone etc. She had me find a bigger trot (aka that elusive "more" that gets written on tests), and ask from that canter. What a difference!

We finished with a stretchy trot circle, which he rocked because we have been working hard on it. The only nit picking comment she had was more forward. He had enough stretch, but he needed to cover a bit more ground.

Overall, she was very pleased and is curious how he'll score on Sunday. She did warn me about him getting too much bend through his ribcage. He's short backed and short legged, and the amount of bend that he gets is a lot for him to get switched over to new bend on the serpentine. She said to give him extra straight steps so he wouldn't tangle himself up trying to get to the new bend. Right now he needs that much bend to make it super clear in the canter transitions which lead I want. And the thinking haunches in without actually doing haunches in is essential for a quality trot and a quality transition to canter, and a quality canter. I'm hoping that when it's time, I can take that super bend in canter, straighten it, and ask for new bend, and it'll be quite natural for the flying change to happen without a fuss. I can only hope!

She said he's like looking at two horses right now- the front end is developing nicely, but his hind end needs time to catch up. I told her that he's going to have a quiet November because with Daylight Savings Time ending, it'll be dark long before I get to the barn on week nights, and I'm traveling the first two weekends of November, so I essentially won't see him even somewhat consistently until the weekend before Thanksgiving when I have my Thanksgiving vacation. She thought that would be best for him- he's been with us for 2.5 months and I've turned his world upside down. Let him have a break after the show and just horse on his own. Let him have a quiet winter to put on some more weight and then come out rocking in spring. He is supposed to go for hacks and do ring work when possible (no more than 1-2 days a week of ring work), but the hacks are more important for winter. That all sounds good to me, he's been quite good and I want him to keep being good and liking his job!

I tried to be artsy and take this picture of us walking down from the field.
I finally got my hands on a Stubben Euphoria last week.

The Stubben Euphoria.
Not sure how it got a dirt smudge. I'm guessing it came with it considering I was the first one to bring it home.
The tack shop called and said they were finally sent one for me to try. I got out there Thursday last week to sit in it and pick it up. I ended up taking home that saddle and the 1894 again so I could compare the two on Penn.

The Stubben 1894.
Even though the Euphoria is a 17" seat, it sat very nicely for my big butt. Too small, but it didn't feel too small. I preferred sitting in it over the 1894, but there was something nice about the 1894's thigh block that I actually enjoyed. The Euphoria has shoulder cut outs. Instead of slicing off a cross section of the front panel like Toulouse did, they curved the entire front panel back under the thigh block. A neat idea for sure, if it hits the horse in the right place.

I tried the saddles on Penn again (no pictures, I forgot, sorry!). The 1894 fits like a glove. The Euphoria.... ehhh it fits, but the shoulder cut out is too low to be of use to Penn, and it fills in the hollow behind his should a bit too much. It'll be squeezing him in no time, or we might end up with enough squeeze that he never builds the muscle right there.

Then there was the quality issue with the Euphoria. When I saw it in the tack shop, I very much preferred the 1894's look. As you can see from the above picture... the panels have puckering on the seams. The pommel had similar puckering. The sweat flap between the horse and billets was tacked on, not sewn on. There was a funny nylon strap tucked under the thigh block for no apparent reason. Trainer gave it the worst comment of all, "It looks like an Argentinian made saddle." Eek. I had to agree with her. Neither of us liked how it looked. At all. Especially not for the over $3,000 price tag.

I liked sitting in the Euphoria better than the 1894, it had that free feel that I liked about my Jaguar. It also has a nice narrow twist (the 1894 does as well, but it's not so pronounced... which makes me wonder if the Euphoria could end up being a crotch biting saddle).

So in the end, I'm sticking with my original saddle order- the 18", 29cm/B Tree, Stubben 1894. I didn't even bother riding in either saddle- the Euphoria was just wrong, and there was no reason to put more wear on the saddle I liked since I had to return it anyway. My saddle should be here in 6 weeks though!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

DSB & Saddles, Part 2

So I ordered new Dressage Sport Boots from Riding Warehouse a couple weeks ago- and my second pair finally came in! Patent/Glossy Silver with Black fleece...

Silver with Black Fleece.
And meh. I was so excited for them, thinking how awesome the contrast was, etc. And I hate them. I love the black fleece. The silver part... well it wasn't the quality I was expecting. My navy boots have a wonderful look/feel to them.

The super awesome navy boots. I love them. Everyone else loves them too.
Because the silver boots are a patent/glossy finish, they don't have the same durable leather feel to them that the navy ones do. They have almost a plastic feel. It kind of feels like cheap pleather (sorry Riding Warehouse!). I feel like they would glow in the dark or as Husband suggested, they would be great safety reflectors. Not really what I'm going for.

It took me a while to decide I hated the silver boots, and even now, looking at pictures, I'm second guessing myself. I love the contrast of the silver and black. I love the black fleece. I love that they're a little different. But I don't like how they don't work on Penn. Maybe it's his lack of glossy coat (dumb winter hair). Maybe it's because his socks are dirty, they look extra dirty compared to the shiny silver.

I pulled one of the ladies aside, told her I was on the fence about the boots, and asked what she thought of them. She was like, they're kind of "in your face" when you look at him. Too noticeable. So much to my trainer's delight, the silver with black fleece DSBs are going back. The lady and I agreed though, on a black horse, or a gray horse, they'd probably look stunning, just because of the high contrast.

Now, I do want another pair of boots so I can mix it up and have something nice for clinics and schooling at shows, so I'm trying to decide if I want to give the patent black with black fleece a go, or the plain black with black fleece. I don't like the way the patent boots feel, end of story. But I do want a little fun in the look! The black on black seems so... plain. But I know it will look good. Riding Warehouse is great, I asked them if I can exchange an exchange because I'm not sure I like the patent look, but I wanted black and black. They were like, "Yes! No problem! You can exchange and exchange!" So yay, but I don't really want to continue exchanging things because that's crazy.

And now I'm thinking, "Hmm, he might look snazzy in white with black fleece."

Thanks to a quick run in Paint, the Silver boots are now white.
Which lead me to this.

May as well make black boots while I'm playing in Paint.
I didn't want to pick pure black since in pictures and in life they won't be a pure black, so I pulled a black off his leg and it came out a little blue, oops.
Which brings me to liking the white with black fleece better. They look sharp. And they'll be clean when I use them, so they'll be bright white.

I'm thinking the glossy Black/Black is out of the picture (as a fashionable co-worker put it- cheap looking pleather will always look cheap no matter the color). Not that it's a cheap quality product, but I donno, compared to the plain finish boots... well the finish makes them look cheap.

So... Black/Black, or White/Black?! FYI, I'm liking the White/Black more and more. Help!

On the saddle front, my tack shop has acquired a Euphoria saddle! Size 17" seat and a C/30cm tree. I'm picking it up tonight to test out over the weekend. I may not ride in it, but I at least want to see it, sit in it at the tack shop (not looking for fit for me, just see where everything hits me and if it's an option for me to ride in), take it home so I can see how the bigger tree fits Penn, and then see if I like the Euphoria better than the 1894.

I'm curious about the shoulder cut outs in the Euphoria- which is the main reason I'm entertaining this one still because I loved the 1894. If it sits well on him, and the cut outs are in the right place (the Toulouse I tried had them up too high), and I like riding in it, I'll probably change my order to a Euphoria. Either way, there will be pictures.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sorry Penn, We're Going to Another Horse Show!

E (from the hunter pace) sent me a text Sunday night and asked if I wanted to go to a dressage show about 2.5 hours away. I was meh about it (that raise I mentioned before? Penn is sucking that up), but I looked at the show bill anyway.

Holy crap- $20 per class, no grounds fee/other fees. Just a $15 day stall. We'll split gas and tolls to get there... so I'm looking at a $55 to show and probably $40-50 for hauling.

So baby horse is going to another show! I took a quick look at the training level tests, and we're going to do Training 1 and Training 2.

I wanted to do Training 3, but there's a couple issues:
  1. The canter. Penn's canter isn't organized enough yet to canter for that long. Aka, I'm not organized enough in his canter to keep him cantering properly that long. Cantering from A, circle at B, then all the way around to the HXF diagonal, to trot at X? We can canter on a circle OR in a straight line. He's not strong enough and I'm not organized/with him enough to canter straight to circle to straight. Which sounds ridiculous, I know. I feel ridiculous typing it. But it's where we're at. Mikey had a big rolling rocking horse canter that seemed to propel itself around and it was super big and comfy to ride (thoroughbred for the win). I'm still expecting that big rolling canter, and while Penn's canter is big, it's different. It's how I always imagined a Spanish-type horse's canter would feel (I know it doesn't look that way). Plus he's just not very strong in it yet.
  2. The free walk and stretchy trot. Free walking for that long? The other two tests only ask for it on a shorter diagonal. Stretchy trot circle is in T2, but there's no reason to mess it up twice in one day. We're just starting to get our stretch work together.
So for the next two weeks I'm going to work on:
  • Insisting on everything. Make sure I keep telling Penn, "No, leaning the extra hair on my hand is unacceptable" (within the gait, trot/halt, and trot/walk are the worst offenders, in order of most offensive to least). I will try not to pull on you and be unfair with my left hand, but you absolutely cannot lean on me.
  • Keep working on the stretch. He's getting the idea, but he's not offering enough stretch for the movement (and it gets super rushy and downhill in trot).
  • Do something about that canter! Be able to come off the circle without flinging in.
Two weeks is plenty of time!

No more intro level for us!

I rode last night and tried to work on the above. He hadn't worked in the arena since Thursday, and only went for a walk Saturday, so he was a bit off-topic with me. Nothing bad, but he wanted to look around and not bend and in general not dressage.

I tried to address the leaning first. He immediately put too much weight in my hand. I did a ton of trot-HALT NOW transitions. I asked for a little rein back and he wasn't keen on giving it. He got locked up and hollow instead... so scratch that since it wasn't helping. I ended up using the jump exercise Trainer had up to help me get Penn working.

She had 5 jumps set on centerline (jumping across the school, not down centerline) so you could serpentine through them. I used the spacing between to keep me honest about my own 3 loop serpentine placement. Penn actually seemed nervous about the "tight" turns. I focused on asking him to bend properly, giving him several straight strides across centerline to relax before I asked for new bend, and I focused on keeping the tempo.

A couple serpentines in he suddenly relaxed and really lifted his back, Like, you know how when they poop while you're working and you're like, "His back is up!" then you find out he was just pooping? Well I had his back up like that, but without the poop. I checked. And he held it willingly for a the rest of the serpentine and for another one!

I fed him a little rein and asked for stretch just to see where we were at, and he reached out and a little down, but not to the point where I want him to go. I encouraged him down some more, and he stretched a tiny bit more. I collected him back up since he wasn't looking to lay on my hand and he wasn't going to the forehand.

I opted to try a little canter on smaller circles since he'd been working straight through for about 20 minutes by that point. We did a couple left, and a couple right, another trotting stretchy circle or two, then called it a day. He'd been very good and his stretches got better as we went.

Tonight: repeat the above ride and spend a few minutes looking at the free walk!

One day Penn will be my 3rd Level horse. Until then, enjoy Mikey!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Horse Show Weekend

Such a busy weekend.

We're going to start with a statement: Penn will NEVER be an event horse. Ever. Not even Starter level.

Back to the barn where it's safe!
So I took him for an early morning walk before we left for Kelly's Ford HT. There were some hunters out and about, I think they were using dogs to send deer down the hill into our normal trail riding area for the archers. Either way, someone brought their hunting dogs to the tree farm next door, so I had to adjust our trail ride to a couple laps around the hay field. The hay field is on a giant hill- walking clockwise around the field, go away from the barn and you're going uphill on the grass property border, crest the top, and back downhill. Then the road meets the property line and you can walk gently uphill and downhill on your way back.

Penn was all "I'm brave! I'm brave!" while the dogs were barking up a storm across the field. We walk behind some trees to go down a hill away from them? "I'm brave! I'M NOT BRAVE!" Poor thing. I had to get him down a hill, next to the fence line, without trampling some 2' trees. We got there slowly. He spooked a couple times and shot forward as I walked him back on the road towards the barn, but he stopped when asked, and I asked him to be round and through and he was like, "Oh ok! I can do that!"

I let him have his head again as we proceeded down the hill (super gentle slope) towards the barn. I stepped him off the road onto a grassy gallop path next to the road and a good thing too.

Have you seen videos where the horse trips or whatever and just goes ass over teacups onto his face and possibly falls down?

This is why you SIT UP when riding. All the time. Penn tripped over his own feet walking downhill and scrambled on his front end trying to right himself. One minute his head is in front of me where it belongs, the next I'm trying not to become a lawn dart as he starts going ass over teacups down the hill. I thought he was going to fall down for sure and just catapult me. He went to lean on my hands, but I'd already given him a long rein since we were just moseying and there was no way I was going to get him back on his feet (he'd just pull me out of the saddle), so I let them continue to pull out of my fingers. Sit up and back and hang on!

He shuffled and scrambled for like 20ft before finally righting himself. Nothing I could do to help him besides stay out of his way. I pulled him up after he was on four feet again and gave him lots of pats for having self-preservation instincts instead of just falling down. Then I took him back to the barn. I was planning on taking him for another lap around he field, but I decided, nope, we've tempted fate enough! I took him back and put his BOT Mesh Sheet on while I fiddled with him.

Yupp, I banded my dressage horse's mane.
Penn got patched on Friday, and I was pleased that it seemed to have helped his girthyness. He still made faces, but no pinning the ears and clicking the teeth. (patches can be seen above)

I decided that I'd had enough of his mane being on the left side of his neck (it changed back, sigh) and attacked it again with bands. What's the worst it'll do? He'll roll, and pull some out? Or pull the hair funny? His mane is too long to stick straight up, and at worst, it'll go left again. I didn't see him Sunday when we got home, and I'm not going out tonight, so we'll see how it looks Tuesday!

Saturday was spent driving the 5 hours to Kelly's Ford and then unloading, unpacking, and trainer riding the horses while I tidied up and got to braiding.

I really like Kelly's Ford Equestrian Center. It's a nice little show, open courses, and a very creative show jump ring. They have a small square bank in the middle, a small hill to put a single jump on top of, and a sunken section with a ditch at the bottom (downhill to the ditch, uphill out). Stabling was in pipe stalls in the indoor, but they had spaced them out to prevent over the wall fights. That also meant we had space between stalls to stash trunks. I liked the setup.

I braided all four horses that went this weekend- trainer's 3, and then I made some extra cash by braiding the student's horse too. I started with 18h+ Ed... I pulled his mane this past week and it was just a bit too short, oops. It took me much longer to do than usual because it was so short and he's obnoxious and won't hold still. I wish I had a pic of it though, it was perfect. Tiny perfect nubs that lined his neck. And I pulled his forelock perfectly- I braided it and was able to pull the tail up through to the top and it tucked perfectly. Love.

I only got through 3 horses Saturday afternoon because Trainer and company wanted to go to dinner and well, so did I. I braided the last one on the morning, no big deal. The mare didn't dressage until 11:45.

We had quite the frigid night in the trailer. For some reason the trailer battery wasn't holding a charge, even though we were plugged in... So the heat obviously didn't work. It was 66 degrees in the trailer when we went to bed at 10... And it was 40 degrees inside when our alarms went off at 6:30am. Trainer eventually crawled out of bed and dashed outside to start the truck so the heater would run (32 degrees outside). Then she came back and crawled back into her blanket cocoon.

A bit frosty Sunday AM.
I got the morning stuff done, and sent her out on her first horse (4yr old Frankie). I got to see his test and the student's test while I ate breakfast.

I put Frankie away, braided her last horse, Shea, got the 18 hand monster Ed ready, got Shea ready and walked her down to the arena so we could tack swap and I'd take Ed back with me.

I had a sit since it was lunch time by then and started prepping my jump stuff.

Ed: "Whacha doing down there?"
All of the jump phases were too close for comfort to have Trainer come all the way back to stabling to get the next horse. So I packed her pinny with the numbers and sent her off with Frankie, then I packed saddle pads and girths in a tiny drawstring backpack. I wore the two breastplates I needed, and I put Frankie's halter over my shoulder and clipped the backpack to the halter. Ed and Shea wore their coolers, boots, bridles, and halters down to show jumping. FYI, all that practice walking 6 horses in at a time at home really pays off when you need to lead mixed genders and all their crap down to a warm up in public.

Supergroom FTW
Where they actually waited patiently.

Holding two horses at SJ warm up. Ed and Shea. Everyone wore chains because holding two horses at a warm up is asking for it and I needed total control.
The first horse rotation consisted of me just holding all 3 horses while trailer pulled coolers and swapped the saddle and tacked up Ed. I wasn't a whole lot of help since I was managing all their faces.

The second saddle swap was easier, student was done, so she helped swap coolers and tack and then took the two already finished horses up while I hung out with trainer in  case she needed something. After the last horse show jumped, I got all the leftover tack together and hauled it up to stabling.

Remove braids, wrap legs, tear down everything, pack trailer, go home. Find food. We were hungry!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Updated Pages and Some Remarks

Well, I finally got around to updating my pages at the top of the blog. Mikey was in the "About Us" page. I had just sporatically added Penn's page.

So I made some changes.

"About Us" became "About Me".

I wrote a page for Mikey. That was hard. It took several days to get through it and lots of tears.

I added Penn's pedigree to his page, because why not. It's about him isn't it?

Finally, I changed my results page from "Journey to the Silver Medal" to "Journey to the Gold Medal" because in reality, I'm not stopping at Silver. That's not the end goal here. Maybe it was with Mikey, because bless him, but he was not going to be a Grand Prix horse. Not when we started strictly dressaging at first level when he was 14. I was hoping to get him to PSG before he had to start slowing down. But the goal is Grand Prix. Hopefully Penn can do it because starting over a third time will be rough! I'd really hate to part with him down the road to buy the next horse. I'm becoming quite fond of him.

But I'm keeping the name "Codex Dressage" for if  ever have my own place (no matter how big or small). Mikey's the reason for that name anyway.

Speaking of Penn, he's been with us for 2 months now. Which means Mikey's been gone for just over 2 months. Without Penn... I can't imagine what kind of depressed wreck I'd be. He's given me something to hug when I'm sad and something focus on besides Mikey's death.

One of the ladies and I were lamenting our two horses being on the bottom of the totem pole in the baby horse field (ie ripped blankets... all the time. That new blanket I got him like 2 weeks ago? Ripped.). I told her, "I bet Penn would be happier by himself. He seems to like humans a lot more than he likes other horses." meanwhile Penn had his face pressed up against the gate, eyes closed, while I rubbed his ears. We agreed that Mikey was sweet and lovable, but Penn is even sweeter, if that's even possible.

I'll be pretty quiet this weekend, I'm off to Kelly's Ford HT as supergroom for Trainer this weekend. Penn will go for a walk Saturday morning, and then will enjoy a Sunday without me! She's got 3 horses in the Novice, and a student in the Novice, so she needs a little help making sure she's everywhere she needs to be while the Novice division is running. Supergroom to the rescue!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Saddle Update, Dressage Sport Boots, and Video of Penn

I saw this the other day on Facebook... and I just loved it so I saved it to my phone to share here for a laugh.

I took the two saddles back to the tack shop Tuesday. I had called in the morning and asked them to order me a Stubben 1894, 18" seat and B tree (which is actually their 29cm medium tree, who knew?). When I got there in the evening, I got the news of what was going on. I'll have 4 options:
  1. That size combination is not currently in stock at the Rep's inventory, and he can't get them from another rep. So I have to wait 8 weeks for Stubbem to make the saddle and get it to me. The 1894 in the sizes I need is on order. (only 8 weeks? no big deal!)
  2. There's another guy that can try and get the saddle in the sizes I need, and he's going to keep looking. (so now we're looking at 8 weeks or less until new saddle!)
  3. The tack shop is being sent a Euphoria saddle in the C/30cm tree (basicaly a size bigger than my B tree), and she's going to call me when it gets here so I can pick it up and try it on Penn. No word on the seat size. I'm guessing it's a 17.5". (so at that point, I can either keep that saddle if we love it, or order it in the B tree, or order the C tree and a different seat, or keep my original order.)
  4. Pending how the next size up tree fits Penn, I can change my current order to the C tree. This is something I am seriously considering because he is a growing boy and while the B tree fits well now, the C will probably fit better later and then I won't be shopping again as soon. I use a half pad under the saddle, so I don't think the extra width will bother him too much now. (I assume the 8 weeks would start over at that point unless it's in stock somewhere)
Basically, I have a crap ton of options still, and they're all options that the tack shop offered me- I didn't have to ask! I love my tack shop. (I am also going to get my BOT quartersheet from them.)

I think I'm going to go with option 4 at the end of the day, only because I'm nervous about how wide his back will get. I know the B and C trees are both mediums, but the C is a wider medium, and the baby horse will continue to grow his back.

It's funny how saddles end up fitting. And how size really means nothing across the brands. The wide saddles I tried were too wide yet pinchy, and my MW Jaguar sits well over his back yet squeezes the bejeezus out of his shoulders. Then the Stubben is put together just the right way so it fits his back, but flares out enough to fit his shoulder too. Goes to show that at the end of the day, you probably just need to haul your horse to the tack shop and set every saddle they have on his back until one fits. By the way, I asked if there was somewhere close where I could do that if it came down to it. She said no, they've had people come to try western stuff and they just park the horse on a side road, but she didn't want to do that with baby horse, haha.

For now, I'm borrowing Trainer's Bates Isabella, because it somehow always fits every horse in the barn (without being an adjustable tree). Plus her CWD dressage saddle is finally here!

Half of my Dressage Sport Boot order arrived Tuesday! I ordered 2 full sets because I'm crazy and couldn't pick just one. The second set was on backorder (but now it's on it's way!), but the first set is here!

Navy!!!! I couldn't not get them after several people said they were awesome. And they work with my current color scheme- everything is either black or white or navy.

(And yes, that's my horrible vinyl square kitchen floor. Our house needs to be updated.)

I was able to use them last night, and the mediums up front, larges behind work so well for Penn.

Attempting to show the navy color in poor lighting. Sigh. Oh well!
I was also extra pleased about the boot quality. My DSBs that are currently shredding (they've been demoted to trail riding or ultra sloppy arena riding), had a more thin synthetic/plastic feel, where these boots have a nice tough leather feel. It also appears they have some extra padding/reinforcement on the inside of the boot. Only time will tell if they hold up to Penn's interference!

I showed them to trainer (who abuses her couple sets of DSBs in a fierce way), and she was impressed with the quality, and then the sale price, and couldn't stop staring at the navy. My trainer, who is ultra color conservative (ie black, gray), was really loving the navy. She also loved the 3 straps on the larges. She has trouble with hers over stretching and then not holding. I believe she's ordering a full set of navy larges in the next couple days for Cody! I bet she'll order a couple more pairs too in smaller sizes for the rest of her horses (probably in the brown and white).

So the only other thing to note is that I used a Mom down at the arena to take some video of Penn on my phone. I don't have much media of him working because I can't seem to drag husband out to take pictures or video, and I end up riding alone a lot of the time. FYI, that's why you're all plagued with a TON of standing awkwardly in the barn aisle, standing out outside, or standing in the stall pictures. She was happy to, so now I give you all some fresh video of my baby horse! (who is looking less and less like a baby!)

I used YouTube's "Glamour" option as a filter... because it was hard to see him when he was so far back and against the trees. My video editing software wasn't working well (it was making the video choppy) so I opted for the YouTube edit instead.

Anyway, I need to:

  • Continue pushing him up so he stops curling and getting behind the vertical.
  • Work on the canter and canter transitions, just in general. They haven't really been the focus of our work. The canter just had to be there, not running away, and not motorcycling around turns.
  • Work on not adding pressure to the reins when halting (that goes for both of us: him not leaning on my hand, and me not pulling him to a halt).
  • Continue developing a slightly slower tempo without taking away from the forward to encourage more loft in the trot.
  • Continue working on engaging the hind end even more. We can very easily slip into a longer/lower/downhill frame if I don't pay attention to that. I also send a hind leg on a trip to Siberia if I don't pay attention.
  • Lengthen my stirrups another hole or two as well- I just randomly picked holes on Trainer's leathers and they felt a touch short (I already lowered them 4 holes from where hers were!)
Things I am pleased about:
  • Rhythm!! We have rhythm! That's new.
  • I heart impulsion.
  • Big strides!
  • He's very quiet in the bridle and is happy to stay where I tell him to.
  • He's so very willing. I love it.
  • When he's together like that, the left lead happens! Those two canter transitions were the first ones of the day, btw. The left lead almost didn't happen in the video, you can see him debating which lead I want, but debate and choose correctly is progress from just being wrong!
  • The rein back naturally seems to be stepping back in pairs, and without inverting. For the life of me, I could not get Mikey to step back in pairs. He learned rein back on Monday. I say he gets an A++ even though it could use more ground cover.
  • He's looking so grown up!!!
I can't wait until he's ready to collect more, and then extend more. I think he's going to have awesome extensions! He's so loose and flexible in all his joints, I think he'll have really super reach. I also think I'll be battling that incorrect toe flick/toe hyper-extension because he's so loose and flexible in his joints. Thoughts on avoiding that?