So Sorry – COMIN’ THRU!

Nyk, behaving himself

Here’s a quick run down of our trip down to Dayton.  I always mean to write these posts when I’m actually at the show, but I usually don’t have time.  I’m not quite sure why, because it never seems like I do much at the shows other than worry about falling off of my horses. 

Let’s start off with the Great Dodge’em Car classes.  Yes, that would be both of Blondie’s driving classes.  I have never been in a driving class with more than a few other horses – this one had five.  That’s about my limit, especially in a ring with very short corners.  My horse does not turn on a dime, and these classes were painful.  We looked like crap AND we almost had a collision.  Good thing the old ladies know how to maneuver their ponies around road blocks.  The first class took place in the mud.  It was a sloppy mess.  Not to belabor the point, but we didn’t show very well at driving.  I haven’t driven her all year, and this show probably wasn’t the place to practice.  Better luck next year.

Uneventful direction of the ring

Part of the frustration with the first class was that after one of the horses pulled a shoe, Blondie would not walk.  I had to trot her around while the farrier was trying to nail the shoe back on, and by the time the class started again, Blondie didn’t have anything left for the first class.  That just sucked.  This happened every time she was going to show.  Either a shoe came off or a presentation dragged on longer than it was supposed to, and by the time we entered the ring, she was all worked up over nothing.  That was so frustrating.

The Goat Rodeos – These were Blondie’s riding classes.  These, though terrifying, were actually quite a bit of fun.  The first class was a limit class, so there were a bunch of other not so perfect horses to keep us company.  It rained a lot in Dayton, and Blondie is afraid of puddles, so it was fun to show in this class, since the first thing she saw when we entered the ring was a huge puddle.  So many of the other horses were making fools of themselves that we didn’t look so out of place.  We had a little problem going the second way, when we almost took out the judge, and I even had to call a time out when the horse in front of us spun out.  Blondie threw her head up, her bit flipped upside down, and the curb chain came off.  I have only been able to call a time out once before, but this was a nice little break while we waited for M to come in and re-attach the chain.  Caught our breath and even relaxed for a few seconds before heading back into the fray.

Where’s the judge?  Let me at ‘em!

The championship class was much better.  Best ride ever on Blondie, I think.  At first, I hate to admit this, she had me a little intimidated, because she was acting like a huge wench.  I was having a hard time keeping her going forward when we were trying to warm up and she kept crow hopping.  D said she was sitting back on her hocks and that she looked really good.  So I guess me feeling like we are out of control makes her look good.  Great.

On the way into the class, I told D to pick a horse and we would go into the ring behind it.  First horse dumped its rider.  Right in front of us!  Then there was a scared horse running around loose.  Oh my!  Not a good start.  D grabbed Blondie and we stopped to regroup for a second, and then I said to hell with it, just get me in the ring!  As we made our approach, he kept telling me to tighten up on the snaffle, more, more, more.  Then I heard ok and we were in the ring.  I bounced for the first rail to make sure I could keep her moving forward, and then the real fun began.  I had to make sure there was always a horse in front or next to her.  She is what M calls a horse magnet.  She isn’t happy unless there is another horse near her.  I am sure several riders are cursing me because we were either breathing down their necks or covering them on the rail.  But guess what? It worked, and the only trouble I had during that class was at the walk.  We ended up third out of seven, which is the best we have done in an ASB championship class.

Nyk was much more reserved, but I didn’t show him very well.  I need to practice driving a lot more, because I have a very hard time changing directions and making it look graceful.  I over bend their heads and it looks awful.  Especially with Blondie, but it happened with Nyk, too.  I couldn’t get him off the bridle and he kept jigging at the walk. 

Veering over to get a better look at the judge

The first riding class wasn’t bad, and we finished right in the middle.  The championship class was really frustrating, because I dropped the curb rein the second way and almost ran over the judge AGAIN!  The poor guy must have started to have anxiety attacks when he saw me approach the ring.  Dang crazy woman can’t control her wild horses!  Argh!  Up until that, the class was going great, and Nyk looked like a million bucks.  Crap!! I let him down.  How do you practice not dropping the reins??

I have to admit that all of the lessons I have been taking paid off, especially during the Goat Rodeo #1.  I lost my stirrup at the canter, but did I care?  No!  I can ride without them now, and I can get them back without much of a fuss.  So, yay!  I didn’t fall off or panic, and just kept showing my horse.

The show itself was a lot of fun.  The show organizers put on a great show, and they kept us fed.  That was a good thing, because Laurie’s truck dumped all of its transmission fluid the first night, and we didn’t have a way to go grocery shopping.  We needn’t have worried, because there was a hospitality tent set up with bagels, cream cheese, yogurt, fruit, OJ, coffee, etc.  The first night, at 2am, we were forced to eat at Denny’s, which usually turns out to be an awful experience.  I didn’t want to eat there again because it sucked so bad.  With the food tent, we didn’t have to.

Happy and content in a crowd of strangers

There were snacks in the afternoon, and dinner parties at night, so we were well fed.  During the day, we either grabbed burritos at Hot Heads or Chipotle, or one day we ventured forth to Waffle House.  That was a trip, because even with a map, we had a hard time finding it. 

Blondie is finished showing for the year, but Nyk still has two more shows.  Now I have to put some of the things I’ve learned riding her into practice with him.  My biggest problem with Nyk is keeping him slow and light on the bridle.  It is so hard with him.

Next year, I hope we go to bigger shows.  Both of the Ohio shows were fun, and there were more horses.  We all kind of agreed that we would plan on River Ridge for next year.  I want to ride there.  Though maybe it’s silly to start planning for next year, when this year isn’t even finished yet?

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Counting Down the Days

Only a few more days until we leave for Dayton!  We made  plans for a schedule change, and I am going to drive Blondie Wednesday evening instead of riding her.  I haven’t driven her all year!  This is the last chance, and I didn’t want it to pass me by.

We have been practicing patterns, and Blondie has continued to try her best to do what I ask.  The patterns aren’t pretty, but we are getting them done.  Friday was the best effort, with her trotting a very nice, round circle, and then stepping off into a canter off the rail.  She weaved a little down the line, but things are slowly coming along.  The class at the show is more for a bench marker for us; I want to see how much we improve over the winter and try riding in another adult eq class next summer.

Wednesday was a fun lesson, and we had a new rider join the group.  All of the kids but Amber ditched us, and since Blondie and Nyk had been visited by the chiropractor earlier in the day, the had the night off.  At first I wasn’t very thrilled to ride Harley again, but then I thought that it would be a good opportunity to see if I have progressed since the last time I rode him. 

It was very uplifting to see how much progress I have made at the end of the lesson.  I was able to keep him bridled without pulling on his mouth, but instead by bumping him up with my legs.  Since he travels in slow motion, it is easier to do with him than with other horses.  I actually have time to react and correct, where Blondie and Nyk don’t give me that opportunity. 

Today we ran through Meijer and I picked up snackage for the trip.  I am almost all packed up, but I am still stressing that I will forget something. Ugh.

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Pictures! And Brief Update from the Barn

Today Sarah and I were the barn photographers.  I took pictures of the baby, and Sarah snapped Dee Dee’s first jumping efforts with someone riding her.

I rode Blondie and drove Nyk, and both of them were good little ponies.  Blondie worked so hard on a pattern, and Nyk stayed light in his bridle.  Neither one had awesome headsets, but that wasn’t really the goal for today so all was good.

Zoe rode Dee Dee in the round pen and jumped her over a small jump. Dee Dee took to it like a duck to water.  So much for being a Classic Pleasure horse!

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Me and Moonshine

DeeDee

On Thursday at Barn #2, I was in for a treat; I was able to ride a new horse.  Moonshine is a 5, and he is being groomed for his new career as a lesson horse.  I used to meet the prospect of riding a new pony with a certain amount of apprehension, usually in anticipation of the canter.  I guess I must be honest and say that if there is one gait that can cause nightmares, it is the canter.  This is ridiculous, because it is also my favorite gait, other than the rack, but there is that irrational fear that one of these days I’ll get on a horse and it won’t understand the word whoa.

Anyway, both S and Katie told me I needed to be “soft” with Moonshine.  I am not a soft rider – I am loud and demanding, and Moonshine really let me know when I was shouting my cues at him.  He didn’t like it one bit, and he didn’t hesitate to let me know by crow-hopping at the beginning of a canter.  I really like this horse.  He was honest and upfront, and tried to do everything I told him to do.  Even when I told him to fly off like a cannon ball.  How can you not like a pony who only wants to please? 

I have been working very hard to be lighter with my hands.  It is sometimes hard with my horses, because they both tend to have hard mouths, thanks to me riding too much off of my hands and not enough off of my legs.  This was very evident going the second way, because I couldn’t keep Moonshine in the corners.  This was getting me very frustrated, and I kept trying to neck rein.  S kept telling me  I needed to figure it out, and I appreciate that she gives me the opportunity to try to learn from my mistakes.  I knew I wasn’t using enough inside leg to keep him over, but I just couldn’t fix this during the lesson.  We were getting better at the canter cues, though, and overall, it was a good lesson.  It left me with a lot to think about, in terms of being lighter and softer, yet still effectively guiding and steering the horse.

Last night, I rode Nyk for the first time in about two weeks.  He was much lighter in the mouth when we started, but by the end, he was getting heavy again.  But, we worked mainly on keeping him slow, without worrying too much about his head set.  He gets going like a marching soldier, leaning on his bridle, and then I feel like I can’t get him to back off of it. 

Going the second way, I had the same problem that I had the night before; Nyk kept cutting the corners, especially at the far end of the arena.  I tried to work this out by myself, but finally had to ask M for help.  Putting my inside leg on him was only speeding him up.  She gave me a whip, and had me walk him straight down the rail into the wall.  If he veered to the inside, whack him on the shoulder.  My, he didn’t like that one little bit, but it did fix the problem.  He scooted around the corner the next time around  at a canter, and I had to run him into the wall when he wouldn’t stop, and then we had to walk to get him focused back on his manners.  He did stay out of the middle of the ring, though.  I felt that we accomplished a lot in terms of speed control.  Let’s see if this carries over to the next time I ride him.

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So You Want to be a Pattern Master

So, Monday I got Blondie ready and we started working on patterns.  M told me to break them down into parts, and even if we blow a part, there are several sequences to a pattern and to just work harder on the next one.  We worked on trotting down the rail, halting at the midpoint, cantering a serpentine, stop, reverse, show trot out of the ring.  We did it at a trot, then moved up to a canter.  Then we worked briefly on cantering down the centerline with 2 changes of lead.  That didn't go so well, because Blondie was getting really excited about doing all of this strange stuff, so we stopped and I walked her out. 
 
I will admit this about my horse.  She tried very hard to do everything I asked of her.  I just didn't ask her correctly all of the time.  She paid attention the entire time, too.  No falling asleep during the theory portion, either.  Maybe my girl is finally growing up!

The group lesson was mainly rail work, due in part to the high humidity.  Blondie was sweating before I even got her ready, and after the first canter, she was puffing away like crazy.  M asked if I wanted to try to do a pattern, but I decided to wait until Friday.  She was so hot, and she did so well the day before, I didn't want to keep pushing her.  Besides, I was hot, too! 

I am glad we called it quits when we did, because it took forever to dry her off.  Why don’t they make industrial horse size dryers that we could just pop the ponies in for a few minutes, and out they would come, nice, warm, and smelling like the summer breeze?

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Steady as She Goes

 

DeeDee

Sorry for the lack of updates.  I gathered up my mobile blogging unit and took it to Anime Expo the week before last.  The evening before I left, I rode Blondie, and we worked on canter transitions.  That is something that I still need a lot of help with, and if I am going to try to ride in the adult eq class at Dayton, I need to work in all of the practice that I can.

DeeDee

I rode Blondie again on the Tuesday after my return from LA, this time in a show bridle.  Nothing epic with the lesson, just a solid ride for the first time in a week.  On Thursday I headed to Barn #2, and rode Lucky, again in a show bridle.  This was another great lesson, and again, canter transitions were a highlight, and I got most of the right, so there’s improvement.  My legs were very sore afterward, as I haven’t had a lesson there in almost a month, and S shows no mercy. 

Elvis, keeping the ponies awake

That was it for lessons, because the MAM show was this weekend at the State Fairgrounds.  I discovered, much to my dismay, that I could have taken Nyk, since they changed the schedule around at the last minute.  This kind of upset me, because if I had called them up and asked that they rearrange classes for me, they would have laughed and hung up.  I wonder which trainer they did this for, as I try not to seethe with too much resentment.  I got to see the CP Driving championship, and I think that we could have held our own in it. Huge disappointment for me, but I’ll get over it. Eventually.

I was mesmerized by his suit

I did go to watch the last session, and to pig out at the exhibitor party.  It was a lot of fun!  Elvis was even there!  The food was good, too, even if it was catered chicken, mashed potatoes, salad, and green beans. 

Much to my surprise, the trash that had been accumulating for over the past year was even cleaned up.  That makes no sense, since they are going to flatten the site.  Why spend the money to clean it up?  The place is still a total dump, and is an embarrassment compared to other fairgrounds I have be to. 

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And We All Fall Down

Well, only I fall down, evidently.  During a display of fireworks today, I fell off of Blondie.  The smoke bombs get her going, and I was doing great, until I tried to make her march through the middle of the yellow smoke.  She zigged and I zagged, right out of the saddle.  I knew I was going over, though, so this time I was able to get my feet out the stirrups and land on my butt.  It figures that I would fall off of the taller horse, though.  I was irritated with myself for getting dumped, and after I got back on, I made sure I didn’t let her get ahead of me again.  She felt like a million bucks, kept her ears up, and worked well for me after that.  Guess you do need a setback every now and again to get back on track.

After the rodeo ride on Blondie, Nyk was a piece of cake.  He felt chargy and heavy in his bridle, but M said that he looked great at the canter.  I am trying to sit back farther in the saddle and use my seat more effectively, and also trying to bump him up with my legs more than my hands.  I just feel that he starts to bear down on the bridle and then I am not riding effectively anymore.

Tuesday I rode Ritz, and while I still dislike her big, bouncy canter, I was able to sit it better by pushing my feet forward and sitting back as far as possible in the saddle.  The left lead is always better than the right lead, but they were both about the same as long as I was doing that.

Wednesday I didn't ride.  The heat index was 97 at 3pm. and the thought of having to cool out one of the horses after working in that hot and humid weather just wasn’t appealing.  Instead, all three of us got a break.

The temps were a little cooler on Friday, and I rode Blondie for the first time in two weeks.  She was very sluggish, and the bugs are eating her alive.  She got a shot of an anti-inflammatory after she worked, because the mosquitoes left her neck a mass of bumpy bites.  During the lesson, we worked on cantering figure 8s again, which I can’t believe that I still can’t do.  I have some kind of mental condition that doesn’t allow me to understand how to do patterns.  Ugh!  And I am thinking about embarrassing myself at Dayton and riding in the adult equitation class.  I must be nuts, and we are going to have to practice patterns all the way until the show.

In other news, the puppy has gotten so big in the past two weeks!  I won’t be able to pick her up for much longer.  She was full of puppy cuddles today, and it is amazing how happy puppies can make you feel.

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Mixed Bag

Jimmy

Well, I'm back from my first regional Morgan show.  I'll always remember this Gold Cup more for the food and catching the plate on fire in the microwave than for the actual horsie events.  In terms of performance, it was disappointing and has made me think about a lot of things, namely whether or not I want to spend the money to take Nyk to the Grand Nationals.  I never thought we would win there, but I was kind of hoping for middle of the pack results.  We couldn't even do that at a regional show.  This was very disappointing; will hard work make it possible to be more competitive?  I just don't know.

Peanut

I rode down to Springfield in the Party Bus, and I enjoyed staying at the fairgrounds.  It was a lot of fun, and so much more convenient then driving back and forth from a hotel.  The showers weren't bad, there was free WiFi access in the bar, and the food carts, though expensive, were tasty, for the few meals that I was forced to eat at the fairgrounds.  Still, charging 2 bucks for a cup of coffee and 6 for a breakfast burrito is one step shy of criminal.  Glad I remembered to bring a can of coffee, and after scrubbing out the coffee maker on the RV, I was able to make as much as I wanted, for free. 

Gizmo

Our first class, a driving class, got off a rocky start.  My usually solid pony decided he wanted to canter down the entire rail when we entered the arena.  Since we were the last ones in, and the gate was quickly closed, we didn't place very well.  Nope, not well at all.  Dead last was where we ended up, and we stayed there most of the week.  While I admit that I failed my little guy in the first class by not getting him to put on the brakes, I'm not so sure that the rest of our weak performances was due to me - or even the horse.  Yikes.

Gizmo

First riding class was an absolute disaster.  Almost didn't make it into the show ring on time.  I still don't know what the deal was, because Nyk was the only horse from the barn showing that night.  There was nothing else to do but get him ready.  Needless to say, we were racing to the arena just before the class, which meant no warm up.  I have been having a very difficult time getting him off of his bridle, and without a trainer to warm him up, things didn't go so well.  Sigh.  Ok, so there were still a couple of classes left to try to make a comeback, but I will admit that I was beyond fuming after that class.  The paper plate didn't even smoke as much as I was at that point in time.

Nyk – the only picture with his ears up

The rest of the show went a bit more smoothly, though we never did show well.  Nyk's tack was changed, in hopes of making him lighter on the bit.  He wasn't a happy horse during the show, and instead of his usual happy ears, they spent most of the time pinned backwards to his head.  I still don't know what his problem was, but it needs to be figured out before the next show. 

Nyk

Just a word of caution - if a paper plate has "May be Flammable" stamped on the bottom, you can bet your shorts that it will most definitely catch on fire.  In about 10 seconds flat.  So, please use the caution that I didn’t.  Or make sure that you have access to a water source near at hand.  Like I did. 

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The Party Bus

I left a little unexpectedly for Gold Cup today. I decided to ride down with M and the girls in the motor home. It's just as boring to drive through Ohio as I remembered. In the racetrack of the world, we were the turtle today, because in addition to traveling in a really big vehicle, we were also towing a two horse trailer behind. Aftering trying to figure out why the a/c wouldn't work, we realized that we had decided to hook up to a dead power box. After pulling in all of the slides and unplugging all of the cables, we moved forward about 100 feet and tried again. Yup, the first site had power issues. We had to relevel and then hook everything back up again. Wasted about an hour. After enjoying a dinner prepared by Chef Boyarde, everyone else headed back to the stalls to set up, and I remained to chill. Of course the fuse blew, leaving me with no a/c again. Ok, that's it for a quick update because typing out a post on the iPhone is painful.
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More Catching Up

Bentley

Once again I am neglecting this blog.  Shame on me!  I am trying to do better, but real life keeps interfering, darn it!

Wednesday was a little frustrating because some of the riders didn’t arrive until the lesson was supposed to begin.  I hate when the group lessons run that late, because then I don’t get home until way past my bedtime, and I have to get up at 4:30.  I run strictly on caffeine Thursday and Friday, because Thursday is a very late night for me, too.  What I don’t do to improve at my sport…

I rode Nyk on Wednesday, and excuse my language, but he was a little prick.  He thought we were training for the Belmont, and not for Gold Cup.  He was heavy on the bridle, won’t give on the bit, and raced around and around at the canter.  M made some tack adjustments, and I tried cantering him again.  Then he went a little slower than race car speed, but he was still too fast, especially going the second way.

We tried to work through the equestrian team pattern, and once again, Nyk was behaving like a stubborn little pony.  He would not whoa.  I was getting so frustrated with him.  I don’t like doing patterns in the first place, and he wasn’t making me like them any better.  Whoa means STOP, but I guess when your brain is the size of a walnut, you occasionally forget that.

Thursday I went to Barn #2, and had a very informative lesson with guest instructor.  S was away at a horse show, and she had a trainer who is more involved with Morgans fill in.  We will call her S2.  She started by having me sit on Lucky, and then she went over proper leg position, arm position, and other form vs function points.  Then she had me head out to the rail at a posting trot.

This was a very important lesson because S2 emphasized how to use your legs and seat, and to keep your hands and fingers light on the reins.  I know that is the goal of being an effective rider, but sometimes I just clamp down on the bridle, especially when I am riding Blondie.  She just wants to bury her head, and I think that I have to carry her along.  All I am really doing then is keeping her heavy on the bridle and making her worse.  One of these days I’m actually going to be able to put all of this theory into practice.  When, I don’t know, but one of these days!!

Sunday, both of the ponies were very good.  I rode Blondie first, in blinkers.  I am going to buy a hood, because they are so useful.   I don’t have to worry about her getting a burr up her butt and getting scared at dust specks.  We can actually get a good ride in! 

It was so dusty in the arena that we took Nyk outside to drive him.  He was so good!  He walked when I asked, and he trotted at a nice, pleasure trot speed.  No racing.  So nice.

Saturday I went to Sarah’s graduation, and had the added bonus of seeing Krystal get her diploma.  I did not realize that they went to the same high school!  Too bad I did not get a chance to congratulate her during the festivities.   That will have to wait until her party on Saturday.

Today was not a good day.  First phone call of the day was a co-worker’s mother calling to tell us he passed away over the weekend.  He was 25 years old!  WTF!!  I have DDR’ed with this kid, gone to the Indian buffet and gotten sushi with him.  I can’t believe he’s gone, and I feel so, so bad for his family.  It was so unexpected.  My prayers and thoughts go out to his family.  Things like this really make you think about how fragile and fleeting life can be.  Enjoy it.  Chase your dreams. Don’t give up, because you may never get another chance to make them come true.

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