Catch All

I have been dealing with web site and internet connectivity issues since last Thursday, so the posting has been non-existent.  First, my site host lost 2 drives and all of my sites were down for almost a day, Then my blogging software decided to be finicky,  and then my router crapped out on me.  To make matters worse, I couldn’t get my netbook to hook up to the modem through a direct cable connection!  Argh! I hate computers! I have a work around until I can get another router, but it is a pain in the rear. 

We are getting ready for Gold Cup, which is in two weeks, so lessons and training are going full speed ahead.  Last week I was the dunce of my lesson at Barn #2, and it was all because of stupid patterns.  I was having a hard time with a pattern near the end of the lesson, and the harder I tried to get it correct, the more tense and awful it was.  It was horrible.  I am so glad that I am not a Junior Eq rider.  Maybe being old has it’s pluses.

Today I rode Jimmy in a longe line lesson, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so sorry for a horse in my life.  The gnats are eating away at his ears, leaving behind open sores.  Ouch!!  It’s a good thing Zoster is picking up a fly mask for him tonight.  Death to gnats!

There has been a change of plans regarding the housing arrangements at Gold Cup.  We are now all chipping in on renting a mondo motorcoach for the week.  How awesome is that!!  It will be like one big slumber party!  With WiFi!  I emailed the fairgrounds today, and they informed me that they have wireless internet access!  I hope I will be catching a ride there and back, so I won’t even have to drive.  Now, that will really be a vacation for me.  I’ll just have to pack up a box of books, and I’ll be all set to lounge around between class sessions.

We had kitties visit the office last week, and that was a lot of fun.  Kittens and puppies are so, so cute!  You can’t help but want to pick them up and cuddle and snuggle.  The puppy was back at the barn tonight, so I got some puppy love, too.  They don’t stay babies forever, so you have to take advantage of the time when they are.  Especially with dogs.  Once they hit about a hundred pounds, it’s not quite so easy to pick them up anymore.

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Puppy Snugglies!

Bentley

After the horse show last weekend, I took things a little easier during the week to recover.  Tuesday I took off, and during the Wednesday lesson I rode Nyk.  It was pretty uneventful.

Thursday at the other barn was really tough because I hadn’t been pushing myself.  Standing changes the first way were torture, and my balance was off the entire time.  Gah! With Gold Cup coming up, I have to get back on track.

Friday I rode Nyk again because they are doing work in the arena and replacing damaged boards.  The different colored sheets of plywood and missing sections would have messed with Blondie’s fragile psyche.  We took Nyk outside and I drove him in the big outdoor arena.  This was very pleasant.  The weather was perfect, and he just did what he was supposed to.  I have discovered that I don’t realize when he is getting heavy on the bridle when I’m driving him.  It is easier to tell when he is walking, which we did a lot, but when he’s trotting, he wasn’t setting his head very well. 

Sunday was a great day.  Started with Nyk, and he worked well, and then got Blondie ready.  I rode her in blinkers because the arena is still being repaired.  She was very good, even if she didn’t want to set her head.  I didn’t fight with her over it, and instead worked on standing changes and other balance exercises. 

During riding sessions yesterday, I kept going to the upper barn to play with the puppy.  One of the barn help has been bring her and she stays in the entryway to the restroom.  So cute!  At first she was a little scared when I picked her up, but she quickly got over that and started cuddling.  Puppies are so awesome, and there is nothing quite like puppy kisses.  She is 8 weeks old and so far nobody has been immune to her charms.

After I put my horses away, I stayed to watch Elmer’s first day under saddle.  The guy who owns the puppy likes to break colts, so he told M he would help her with the horse.  It was pretty interesting, and by the time I left, he had Elmer trotting and cantering around the round pen, with no drama.  No bucks or rearing or bad behavior. 

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Spring Show – Abbreviated Version

Nyk and my awesome hat

Here is a quick wrap up of the show last weekend.  While I enjoy showing in the Coliseum, the fairgrounds are an utter dump.  The same trash was strewn about the grounds from the ASHAM show, and as it's the governor's fondest desire to close it down completely so it can sit vacant for the next several years, declining further, I guess it was silly of me to expect that they are actually maintaining the property.

Nyk's classes went without a hitch, but we blew the championship again!  He just gets so strong and forward on the bridle, and I can't keep him from racing around the arena.  I think that if someone warmed him up first, he wouldn't have been so out of control. 


Blondie's practice ride was the usual struggle, as she shied and spooked during her refresher in the arena.  D could get her to stay on the rail, but I could not.  She was especially terrified of blue trash cans this time around.  Sigh.

Audie and Bentley


Our first class was not so pretty, and we were 5th out of 7.  The Show Pleasure Novice class, though, was the best we've had.  She bridled very nicely and behaved herself.  We were 3rd out of 8, and I was thrilled with that. 

The championship class didn't go right from the get-go.  Blondie wouldn't open her mouth when she was being bridled, and she just started getting all pissed off in her stall.  In the ring she was acting like a total wench.  Once we got into the show ring she was spookier than the day before and she resisted at the walk.  Still, we placed, when usually we don't.  I was tired, she was tired, and we were both ready for the show to be over.

Alexis and her borrowed pony


A couple of things were very frustrating this time around.  I warmed up my horses, and I don't think I'm the best qualified to do that.  I wish that the trainers had at least warmed up Blondie so she would have gone along a little easier.  For one class, Blondie and I were left pretty much to our own devices because another rider was in the ring right before us.  I hate that.  Other trainers made sure the horse didn't kill me, but it would have been nice to have one of MY trainers within shouting distance.  I often feel that where Blondie is concerned, she is not the priority, and that makes no sense to me.  She is a reflection of her training, and I believe that she can perform better than she has.  Why am I the only one that feels that way?
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Bahama Breeze – Livonia Style

Saturday was gray and rainy, so we went to Bahama Breeze for a shot of fake sunshine. This place is very pricey, but I do like to go there for a treat about once every two years.  I didn’t even order what I really wanted because they don’t have a lunch portion, and I didn’t feel like spending 17 bucks on my entree.  Dean ordered it instead, the jerk.

Settling in for my meal

We started with Fire Roasted Jerk Shrimp.  You can never go wrong with shrimp!

This was very tasty – the shrimp were served in a buttery mess of roasted garlic, tomatoes, and the bane of my existence, onions.  It was accompanied with a loaf of warm, crusty bread that was perfect for sopping up the glop in the skillet.

Dean’s Paella – this is what I wanted, but the price held me back

My lunch, salmon pasta, lunch portion.  It was little disappointing.

Despite having many of my favorite green things, basil and spinach, the mango cream sauce was bland and tasteless.  Some pepper flakes should zip up the leftovers.

Look!  The sugar packets have their logo printed on them

Dean’s banana supreme.  This was a large serving of spice-nut bread, ice cream, and bananas.  I ate the mint leaves!

My dessert – chocolate island – this was divine. 

The mousse was light and fluffy, and the sliced almonds gave it a nice texture. The brownie was disappointing, though, and had the consistency of a hockey puck.

Lunch with tip what a whopping 65 bucks.  I don’t think it was worth it this trip, and it will be a while before we go again.  The service has certainly improved, and we were approached by several servers to inquire about whether we needed anything. However,  I am still suffering from sticker shock.  They need to seriously tweak their pricing scheme.

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Status Quo

Leela

The week has been pretty uneventful, other than being very busy.  Had mixed success during the week with both horses, but had great rides today. 

Tuesday I rode Blondie with a show bridle, and she was her usual skittish, spooky self.  I am getting better at giving on the bridle, even when she is being stupid, so all was not in vain.  Bad habit that continues to plague me – I hold the right curb rein tighter than the left, and that just pisses her off.  Now that I am aware of this problem, I am better able to correct it, because I at least think to check the reins now.

Wednesday was Nyk’s turn, and he was a very pushy pony.  We used his training bridle, but he forgot his Ws – whoa and walk.  M had to remind him after the lesson.  We started with a draw rein, but that was just making him bury his head between his knees, so after a few trips around, I rode him with just the snaffle rein.  It is still weird riding without a martingale, and I think that was freaking me out a little.  It’s not like he’s going to go anywhere, he just develops a deafness when he’s asked to do anything slower than a trot.

Friday we rode outside with the show bridle, and Nyk sort of remembered how to walk.  He got a refresher on this, and we walked, and walked, and walked.  I was having a problem keeping him up on the snaffle, but it was because I wasn’t catching him fast enough when he started dropping his head.

Today was a great day at the barn.  The weather was lovely for a ride, and both of the horses worked well in their show bridles.  Nyk went like a little trooper, and because Blondie had plenty of company in the ring, she didn’t even think about getting stupid.  The key to keeping her from getting silly is to work her with another horse in the arena, and I am really starting to think it is as simple as that.  I hope there are lots of horses in her classes at the show next weekend, so we can both relax and concentrate on showing, not getting scared of ghosts.

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The New Countdown Begins

Me and Blondie

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been a week since the horse show!  It has flown by!  The euphoria is starting to fade, so it’s a good thing that there’s another one in two weeks.  I am counting down the days.

I am all fired up now with the successes at the show. I was finally able to see pictures of Blondie from the show, and I had her head set the best I ever had!  Now I have to work on driving her forward and getting more impulsion so she trots higher. 

Nyk is easy to show, but I need to concentrate on keeping him slow and driving him forward, too.  I decided to take him to Gold Cup, and we are going to mainly drive there to get qualified for OKC.  The Spring Show is in two weeks, and I’ll be driving and riding him in two classes each.  Blondie will be in three riding classes.

Lessons during the week were really hard!  My legs were sore after riding so much over the weekend, and then we did no stirrup work every night but Wednesday.  Ouch!  My thighs have been cramping up, so I need to remember to drink more water with the warmer temperatures.

Tuesday I rode Nyk, and while we didn’t drill him every hard, I worked on the sitting trot serpentines.  I started with no stirrups, and tried to work into using my irons.  My seat just wasn’t deep enough to keep from bouncing around in the saddle, though.  I haven’t discovered the secret yet, but I won’t quit until I figure it out!

Wednesday night was Blondie’s turn, and it was so frustrating.  She wouldn’t stop pulling on the bit or shaking her head.  I wish I knew how to make her stop doing it!  I guess I must cut her some slack for working so hard during the weekend, but that doesn’t mean that she can take advantage of the situation.  It is very aggravating when I try to be light with my hands and give on the bridle, but she then takes the opportunity to drop her head.

Thursday I rode Lucky in a show bridle, and we did so much no stirrup work!  Lots of cantering circles, which I really felt the next day.  S also didn’t like that I was holding my arms out so much, which was a result of riding Blondie the night before, so she put a whip across them and had me trot around, keeping it balanced.  So hard! I was able to keep it perched precariously across my arms for much, much longer than previous attempts. Yay!

Friday night was a fantastic lesson, one of the best I’ve had with one of my horses in a long time.  Again, lots of no stirrup work.  Posting trots with inside iron dropped, or with both dropped.  Ouch!  I rode Nyk, and didn’t have much trouble doing whatever I was asked. 

Today, I rode Blondie, and she was good until the end of the lesson, when she started spooking at the back gate again.  Then I drove Nyk, and he was great.  He likes to drive, and he looks really cute doing it.  Only problem is keeping him at a flat walk.  He thinks he is a roadster packed into his classic pleasure body.  We will do well driving, IF I can keep him from jigging down the rail.

This morning, Sarah rode Congo.  That was fun to watch.  He is a skittish two year old.  Sarah, you are more gutsy that me, by far!!  You did great!  It was funny watching D running along side them with the lunge line, too.  

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Show Wrap-up

This horse show was just brutal in terms of getting anything else done during the show.  The storms yesterday brought the pace of the show to a screeching halt, too, and it took forever for the evening session to wrap up.  Audie was in the last class, so I stayed to watch her go, but I didn’t get back to the hotel until almost eleven.  That is way past my bedtime, and I had to be up, packed, and out of the room by 7:50am.  I am so tired, and I didn’t get to read anything, play Dark Spire on the DSi, or take a nap.  I didn’t even get to eat anywhere more exciting than Pancheros.  It’s going to be a challenge to keep the other blog rolling in reviews because I haven’t had time to read anything!

Me and Nyk

The championship with Nyk went well, but a junior exhibitor edged us out for the win.  Since I used up Nyk’s energy in the earlier class with the roadster gait instead of the road trot, he was one tired little pony.  He tried to give it his all, but he didn’t have a lot left to give.  I don’t know why they had the qualifier and the championship on the same day, in back to back sessions.  The jr eq horse was fresher because it got to go first thing in the morning, while Nyk went later in the afternoon.  Anyway, good first time out for Nyk, though I was disappointed that he didn’t win it all. 

I am more excited about the classes today.  We were in a huge rush to get Blondie ready because there were five of the kids from the barn in the showmanship class, and it took a lot of effort to get all of the horses ready.  There was supposed to be a five minute break before the performance classes started, but they didn’t follow the schedule.  M was just freaking out that we were going to miss the class.  I wasn’t really all that stressed about it; Blondie works better with a very short warm up, and I thought it would be best to just trot into the class.

Blondie

Because the warm up ring, which is outside, was underwater, they were allowing a 2 minute warm up in the ring before they called the class.  I should have just stayed outside until it was time for the class to start, but I trotted in to get her around the ring.  She got a little goofy, and I just wanted the class to begin before she started blowing off her feet.  Finally, it started, and I learned more about my horse during that five minute class than I learned about her in the last four years.

I was having a problem at the far end, with her spinning around and getting light on her feet.  M was on the other end, and she told me to loosen the curb rein.  Then it dawned on me; every time I have had trouble with the mare in the show ring, I was hanging on the curb rein and pissing her off.  I let off on it, and she was good for the rest of the class.  Still a little spooky and she still wouldn’t go near the rails, but she didn’t get ignorant.  We didn’t place very high because she spun around in front of the judge, but I hoped that I had learned from my mistakes and we’d have a better showing later in the day.

Getting ready for the class

During the class, I also tried to stay behind a horse, because Blondie works better when there is a horse ahead of her.  I tried to park behind one of the trainers, but her horse was faster than Blondie.  Then I almost ran up Big Bob’s butt when we transitioned to a walk.  I wasn’t finishing rails, which was leaving too much time at the walk, which Blondie doesn’t like to do.  I cataloged these errors in judgment, talked to the trainers, and worked out a plan of attack for the next class.

In the afternoon session, we tried again.  I felt much more confident, because I understood that I was making Blondie do most of the stupid stuff she has been doing.  I let up on the curb rein, took and gave, took and gave on the snaffle rein, and tried to only adjust my reins on the corners, setting her up for a nice show pass.  I tried to keep my fingers light and not clamp down on the reins.  I finished every rail, even if it meant not walking.  Both D and M said the spinning around was worse than not walking.  Most of the trouble I have is at the walk.  When Blondie is moving at speed, she stays pretty solid.  It’s that walk that kills us.  So I tried to set it up so we did it as little as possible.

We had a good class, and we placed in the middle.  Last year we were last.  I learned that my mare gets pissed when you pop her in the mouth with her curb bit, and she doesn’t forgive you for it.  I have to keep my hands still, still, still or she fights the bridle.  She is actually easier to get her head set than Nyk, but you can’t bump her mouth once you have it where you want it.  It has taken me four years to figure this out.  Or it has taken me four years to ride well enough to do it.  Now D said that he is going to soup her up a notch, because she is more of a country pleasure horse now than a show pleasure horse.  Hopefully we will be more competitive for the next show.

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Afternoon Session

The name the of the game this afternoon was rain, rain, rain.  It just poured at around 1pm, then it was touch and go after that.  It rained so much that the classes were warming up in the arena because it was too muddy in the warm up ring, and nobody wanted shoes pulled off.  Needless to say, I haven’t been able to make much use of my camera, either.

There was much drama and heartbreak this today for the kids.  Sarah was excused from her class because Wild Child started acting up when she asked for the canter, hopping and being a bad, bad girl.  It’s not anything that Sarah couldn’t handle, but the judge didn’t know that, and so she was excused from the class.  It turns out that the mare’s curb bit was too tight; no wonder she was so pissed off.  Sarah rode her again in the afternoon, and other than an occasional bobble, things were good. 

Nyk’s second class was late in the afternoon session.  We had a brief warm-up, and then it was into the ring.  This was a great class, because I learned something new.  I discovered the true meaning of road trot.  It does not mean kick up as fast as you possibly can.  No, sir!  It means a noticeable difference in speed.  Nyk and I were at warp speed, but we still managed to win the class.  Yay!

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Morning Session

The morning session was freaking crazy.  M and Zoe almost missed their class, and then Laurie got confused and had to get dressed in about 3 minutes.  Fun times all around.  Zoe was extremely flustered by having to rush, and I don’t blame her for being upset about that.  It’s stressful enough going into a class, but having to rush around and not get an opportunity to warm up your horse makes it even more difficult.

Blondie was in the middle of the morning session, and she did better then I thought she would.  The first way she was fairly solid, but the second way she would not walk straight along the rail.  She keep veering into the middle.  Like way into the middle.  Like a little too close for comfort to the judge.  Sigh.  We’ll do better tomorrow morning.

Nyk goes again this afternoon and then tonight.  I wish he was only going once today – it is so hot!  I can’t believe this weather.  If it wasn’t for the breeze, it would be unbearable.  And it’s only April!!

Laurie, despite having to get ready in record time, won her class on the new horse, Leela.  They looked great, so the secret to her success is to think that you ride in the evening, even though you ride in the morning, and then get your suit, tie, and hair in a bun in 3 minutes.  So funny!

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Quick Update from the Show

It is way past my bedtime, so here is the quick version of tonight’s events.

Tonight was the first time that I would be riding Nyk at a real show.  Things are always crazy the first night of a show, so I didn’t get to warm him up beyond a trot in each direction.  Then it was into the show ring!  Wonderful!  Good thing he doesn’t need much of a warm-up.

Nyk was a perfect gentleman!  He did everything that I asked him to do, and he didn’t even take off flying down the rail.  He did try to get a little quick, but he checked back when I asked.  We even got to reverse and trot!  Not reverse and walk. Reverse and trot!  That is my favorite part of the class.  It is so exciting to cut through the ring and really strut your stuff for the judge.

We ended up in first place!!  Yay!  I felt kind of stupid when our number was called, because I forgot to look at Nyk’s number.  Everything was such a rush, I kind of forget to look.  So when they called the number, I didn’t know whose it was, until after a long pause, and then they said Nyk’s name.  Oops!

The victory pass was also a little amusing.  My little pony was so excited by that time that he took off at a canter and I couldn’t get him back down to a trot.  He was so happy to be out there he just couldn’t contain himself.  Silly pony!

We took Blondie for a test drive after the last class, and while she wasn’t awful, she was certainly a handful.  Tomorrow’s class should be interesting.

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