Monday, June 27, 2011

Red's & Blue's almost all the way!

Well we survived our first BIG dressage show. I showed up on friday feeling a tad overwhelmed and wondered if I'd bitten off more than I could chew. We had a good ride and then got Brigit settled in. I didn't sleep much that night because I was trying to so hard to remember all my tests. I was paranoid that I would forget!

Saturday morning was windy but Brigit seemed fine in the warm up. I was absolutely paranoid that I would forget where I was going so I convinced someone to read for me. I went in to do my first test and Brigit was suddenly HOT and super wound up. I had to fight her for every downward transition (or so it felt like) and coming across the diagonal to X at the canter she desperately wanted to do a flying change so I struggled to prevent it. I didn't think we had that great of a ride at all and was a bit annoyed. I couldn't figure out what the issue was that was making her so hot and fussy.
Our second test was only about 40 minutes later and it went a little better although it was still a bit of a fight. I can tell when Brigit is upset because she curls her neck up and isn't light & responsive at all. When we got the comment sheet back from the judge we had a "Poll too low" or "Behind the vertical" about 15 times.... Dah!!

I went for lunch and had a pity beer because I really didn't feel that we did nearly as well as I know we can. Then I went to check the results to see how poorly we had done. Well let me tell you, I was SHOCKED and stood there with my mouth open staring at the wall when I read my score of 64.2% on my first test and 70% on my second!!! That meant we got 2nd place in the one class and 1st place in the other!!! Wow!!

I had to wait until about 4pm for my third ride on sunday so let Brigit wander and eat some grass and then went and bought a new manure fork for the trailer.... Something I ALWAYS forget at home.

Our third ride felt so much better. Brigit was a little more settled and everything went as it should...... Until our last transition, going from a canter to a trot and then down the center line. Well Brigit decided she'd had enough of this and would NOT trot. I was either going to get a walk or a teeny-tiny collected canter, no trot. I finally got it just as we turned to go up the centre line. I was so annoyed. I'm sure we would have had that class too if we could have gotten that last transition. Damn! Turns out the judge must have thought we did everything else very well and we got another 2nd place with a mark of 68.75%.

Saturday evening they had a "Gala" event and they asked me if I would do a sidesaddle demo. A friend of mine came too and we had lots of fun with it. Started out with a bit of a pattern and then just did whatever we felt like. Brigit definitely enjoyed just messing about much more than doing a test. She had some lovely flying changes, extensions and leg yeilds. After that they had steak for supper along with some wine! Yum!

Sunday morning I woke up to rain. I so wanted to just stay in bed but thought I'd better get up since I paid good money to be there. Our first test was at 8:30 am. Luckily for us the rain stopped just as I left the barn to ride and started again after we got back. Again Brigit was really upset and fussy in the warm up ring. I couldn't get her to stand for the life of me. She was pawing & stomping with her back legs. Even so I was still a lot happier with our ride than saturday's. We got all of our transitions where they should be and she was listening better. Still a touch hot but what can you do.

I had to wait until 3:30 for my next ride so I went to a friend's place for lunch and had a good visit. And then had the saddle fitter take some measurements on Brigit's back to see if they had any used saddles that would be suitable to try.

Our last ride of the day I figured I would just wing it. We'd done pretty well all weekend so it didn't matter how this last one went. I went down to the ring, got on, organized my apron and went in the ring. Surprisingly Brigit did SO much better without a warmup! We had our best feeling test yet. Brigit was much more normal, soft and listening a lot better. We nailed all of our transitions and I came out feeling really pleased. Great way to end our weekend!

I went and checked our results after I got the trailer all packed up and was again surprised to see that we'd gotten a 3rd (64%) in our first class and a 2nd (68%) for our second ride that day!

I really don't care how we place at the shows, I just want to put in a good ride and do as well as I know we can. The ribbons are just a bonus! I'm really proud of that 70% score, although I don't think it felt like a 70% ride lol. It's so frustrating to know that you can do a test so well at home and then come to a show and have it feel like you're riding a totally different horse. Obviously it wasn't as bad as I thought it was but most of our tests didn't feel as good as they could. I keep thinking, if only our rides could have been as relaxed and nice as they are at home.

A few things I'm going to work on are our stretchy trot & stretchy walk. I think if we could have gotten those, we would have scored even higher. In every test they were pretty bad. With Brigit being so hot, the attempted stretchy trot turned into "lets trot as fast as I can with my head up!" and our "free walk" was all over the place in terms of pace and where her head was; up, down, looking this way and that etc. If we can get those two things better, I think we'll be able to do even better! I think I've been bitten by the dressage bug!

Now here's the question.... How in the world do you get a slightly fracticious, hot mare to RELAX?!?! (My boyfriend suggested giving Brigit a beer with her lunch too LOL).

Anyways, enough of a novel, on to some pictures! Sorry there aren't more, I will hopefully get some more emailed to me soon.

Into the ring we go... (I like this pic, I look nice & skinny in it! haha)

Around the corner we come... I need to pick that inside shoulder up!

Our attempt at a "stretchy trot" The first half was nice but kind of fell apart after we crossed the centre line.

Across the diagonal we go.

These are the best pics, the rest of the pics are slightly blurry. Enjoy!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hi ho, hi ho! Off to the show I go!

Decided I was taking a day off of work today so I could sleep in a bit and get all my stuff together and actually feel prepared! I have a list of things I need to do today and then later this afternoon I'll be heading to the show.

I ride 3 tests tomorrow and another 2 on sunday. I had such a fantastic ride on wednesday night and I really hope we can have that same feeling all weekend. If so, I think we'll do well! The chiro treatment really really helped a lot, it's going to be a regular part of our "health regeime" to keep Brigit feeling good.

So I'm off to get my stuff ready, clean tack, water the garden, finish cleaning the trailer, bath & ride Brigit and grab some groceries so I have some snacks and don't have to spend a fortune on food this weekend.

Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I just don't feel ready....

After my upbeat post a few days ago about how much I have going on, today I'm feeling like I have TOO MUCH going on.

I entered in this big dressage show this weekend and I just don't feel ready. I haven't had enough time to practice the tests or just plain ride, period. I'm still going but I hope I can get time to ride in the next few days.

I rode last night and had a so/so ride. Brigit is still being really difficult although she feels a ton better suppleness & movement wise. The wind was blowing really hard which I think caused a bunch of her agitation. I hope that's all.

I think I'm going to need a reader for my tests too. I've been trying my hardest to memorize the other 2 tests I need to ride (3 total) and for the life of me I just can't remember past a certain point. I've got the first one no problem and the 2nd is coming but I can't see remembering the 3rd and not getting all three mixed up! lol THAT would be embarrassing!

Monday, June 20, 2011

I see the light now!

After spending over an hour and a half with my horse chiro/massage person, who also happens to be a very good friend. I learned a LOT about why things have been like they have lately.

The reason I couldn't get that long & low, stretchy trot, walk or otherwise... several vertebrae at the base of Brigit's neck were out and she just *couldn't* do it.

The reason I could get a nice bend to the left but not to the right. Her one hip was dropped and sacrum was all weird. After a massage and an adjustment, she looks like she has an entirely different hind end!

And also, as I suspected, my english saddle doesn't fit. It fits her in terms of tree width and the gullet is nice and high for her big withers. However the gullet itself is too narrow and is putting pressure on either side of her spine. No wonder she's unhappy! Not only that but she thinks the saddle is over-stuffed at the back and is putting way more pressure there than anywhere else.

So Brigit is feelin good again and I'm on the hunt for a new saddle. (Or at least a new to me saddle!) I'm ok with that though because I really am glad it's something fixable and not just a major training roadblock. Until then I'll be riding bareback or sidesaddle which is good too!

Time for a massage/chiro appt.....

But it's not for me!

Something is up with Brigit and I'm thinking she's out in her back somewhere or sore. She just hasn't been herself and I really wonder if her saddle is pinching or something along those lines. Ride her in my english saddle and she's super cranky and reactive. Ride her bareback and she's super mellow. I am wondering if the weight she has put on has changed the shape of her back and her saddle no longer fits. Tonight she gets a massage and a chiro adjustment to hopefully make her feel better.

I also think there must be something out in her neck, she doesn't want to do any cookie stretches to the left. Will keep you updated!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Yesterday's Show

I've been out & about most of today, the rain has finally cleared so I thought I'd better take advantage of it.

The show yesterday was.... interesting. It was put on by a breed association so I knew there would be a breed judge but even so, I wasn't really pleased with the judging. I guess that's what it's all about though, paying for someone else's opinion and sometimes opinions differ.

Brigit and I still did well considering she was being a huge BUTT. She was super hot & spooky during warm up and nearly pulled my arms off through ever class. We did the english pleasure sidesaddle (to many people's shock & question "Are you ALLOWED to do that?") and got 5th, which I think is about right seeing that Brigit was pulling as hard as she was. We switched to our astride saddle and got 2nd in english equitation, 2nd in show hack, 1st in the command class and a 4th in a fun class. I have no issues with my placings so perhaps I should shut up....

BUT.... I brought one of my students to the show with me and since last weekend's show, she's improved immensely. However, I think the cards were stacked against her riding a draft X at a breed show. She didn't place in ONE class, I was so disappointed for her. Several other english instructors that I know were at the show and none of us could figure out what he was placing & why; other than anything that went like a WP horse placed higher.

Now I know that the show was put on by a breed association but when you extend an invitation "other" breeds to come to your show, it should be judged to the description of the class, not the breed standard. Otherwise people like myself won't attend again. ie English classes should be forward moving and should look different than western class, in my humble opinion of course. A horse that carries itself in a gorgeous, more upright frame and doesn't put a foot wrong *should* place higher than something that is dragging it's face on the ground. (There was a girl riding a gorgeous horse with dressage background that didn't even place in english pleasure and really should have, gorgeous little horse!)

Now onto my HUGEST pet peeve. Equitation classes judged soley on a pattern. I like patterns, I do, I see their purpose and it can really separate the riders from the rest. If a rider has a perfect pattern and nails all of their transitions where they should be, and looks good doing it they should win, right? What if they happen to go on the wrong side of ONE cone? Oh right, they're disqualified. I think it's beyond ridiculous to disqualify (especially JUNIOR) riders based on what side of the cone they pass a cone. Eq patterns should be judged on a rider's position, correct aids, quality of circles, pace, correct diagonals & leads and quality transitions; THAT is what good eq is all about. This judge dq'd 2 junior riders (one of which imho should have gotten 2nd or 3rd based on equitation & quality of her pattern elements) for going on the wrong side of a cone and refused to give out 5th & 6th place ribbons in the class.

It shouldn't matter if you pass the cone on the right or left side if you get your transitions where they should be and complete all elements of said pattern.

I *get* that it is THE rule, but I think it's a dumb rule. Staying on the right or left side of a stupid pylon is not what equitation is all about. You want a riding pattern, then having a riding pattern class. Urgh.

Anyways.... I'll bite my tongue now.

Friday, June 17, 2011

All bathed & braided up & ready to show again!

Spent about 3 hours at the barn prepping for our show tomorrow. Bathed both horses (one my riding students is coming to the show with me), braided, cleaned tack and got everything loaded up.

It's not a very big show and sometimes I really wonder why I go to all the effort to bath & braid but I think the extra effort really shows. And if we're going to be riding sidesaddle and look spectacular, I'd better not do it on a dirty pony!

Habit has been dry cleaned yet again, seems like it needs to get cleaned after every time I use it (I can't get over how fast it gets absolutely FILTHY). Saddle pads are in the wash, shirt is starched and ironed and I think we're pretty much set.

Just hoping we have decent weather tomorrow. It's been super rainy and they're predicting more rain again. Blah. It won't be fun trying to stay clean if it's really muddy & rainy all day. I guess I should suck it up though; after looking at Leila's pictures of them showing in the pouring rain! THAT is dedication!

Wish us luck! Will return with more pictures tomorrow!

To my fellow bloggers.....

I really really have been reading your posts lately but blogger will only let me post on certain people's blogs! I wish they would hurry up and fix whatever issue they are having.

Anita I'm so glad to hear you and your family are ok after yet another earthquake!

Robin I'm so sorry about you and Owen. I hope they can fix the both of you so you can keep on your sidesaddle quest!

I think I've been able to comment on everyone else's blogs but if not, I may be forced to add comments after my posts lol.

Things are about to get BUSY!!

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, I've just been running here, there & everywhere and keep forgetting to post something.

We're running summer courses at the college and I'm teaching Pony Club two days a week and lessons at the barn I board at on Mondays (just had a few more students sign up too!) and trying to cram a ride in on Brigit here and there! I sure don't feel like I've been consistent at all with her lately.

Tomorrow we're off to a show, luckily it's really close to home. I emailed the show secretary to ask if they had a problem with me riding sidesaddle and they said I could with the exception of the equitation class, which is pretty standard. Ideally I'd like to be able to ride most of the classes sidesaddle but it might involve a major panic tack/dress change! Pleasure is first, followed by a bunch of classes where I'll have a chance to change to English tack for equitation. Then there is another pleasure class & show hack right back to back with the equitation, so I'm not sure if I'd have time to switch back to sidesaddle or not, even though I'd love to. Guess we'll have to play that one as it goes.

Next weekend is a big dressage show that I was asked to do a demo during their Gala evening. I've got another sidesaddle rider coming to join me so it should be really good! I figured since I did so well at that last dressage show and since I was already going to be there, I might as well enter into the training level tests again. I really need to get riding and riding sidesaddle as I haven't done it in weeks! Plus now I have to remember two more tests! EEEEK!!! I'd much prefer to memorize them and do them myself but I may enlist the help of a reader so I don't screw up! I'm super excited for this though! A friend is going to be my groom and I'm going to groom for her as she's doing the 4th level tests. Plus one of my Pony Club students will be there doing the FEI Children's Freestyle. She's an awesome little rider and usually cleans up at shows! The best part is she rides a little grade QH mare and beats all the fancy scmancy warmbloods! That is bragging rights right there!!!

July 1st is a friday and it's Canada Day. I'll be going down to the Millarville Race Track. They are celebrating their 105th anniversary of racing and are going to have a ladies sidesaddle race! It should be fun....although we're only supposed to trot.... Time to break out the sports bra! LOL

July 9 & 10 is the Didsbury Horse Show which should be a really fun one! They have some hunter & jumper classes and all kinds of flat classes PLUS they've added a ladies sidesaddle class!! Very excited for this one! (My new habits should be here too!) I asked the show secretary about riding sidesaddle and again, I can ride in anything I'd like except for equitation. I even entered in the 18" hunter hack class, why not! I've harassed as many ladies as I can to come to the sidesaddle class so we have a good turnout, I think we will....hopefully!! Caitlin & her pony Eddie are coming up for sure and in addition to the sidesaddle class, her and I are going to do the pairs class sidesaddle. Won't that look smashing; two chestnuts (one big & one small) and two ladies dressed to the nines?

After that weekend is the Calgary Stampede, which I've been invited to come & ride at and do a few demo's. We'll be there on Wednesday and on Sunday. (Saturday is a friend's wedding and I have to make their wedding cake! lol)

After that things slow down for awhile (thank goodness!!), I'm sure looking forward to it all but I know I'm probably doing a tad too much! No rest for the wicked!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Look at this fancy saddle!

It's practically a piece of art! Found this on Ebay today and thought it was worthwhile sharing.

(The leaping head is sure a bit funny though isn't it?)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sunday Show

I took one of my riding students to a horse show yesterday and she did so well! She's only ridden this horse for about a month and he's no easy ride! He is LAZY but has enough sass to him to provide a challenge. He normally gets ridden with a crop but at the show they aren't allowed, so we swapped to spurs. And normally it's a bit of a battle to keep him going but not yesterday! He was just motoring and didn't want to slow down! So we made the mistake of taking the spurs off. She had a lovely pleasure class but just as the judge was looking at her, Mr.LazyPants broke to a trot. Darn!!! Not much you can do about that though. She still had a great day and *I* think they really stood out and looked awesome! And luckily she's about my height so I brought my show clothes and they fit her pretty well. The coat was a tad big but not bad and my boots fit her better than they fit me!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Oh no! Not a postal strike!

Yup, they're talking about a possible postal strike here in Canada as early as today. For the most part a lot of people won't be hugely affected. But for those that are trying to get horse show entries mailed in or are expecting items in the mail..... it will be a bit trickier!

I'm trying to enter in two shows at the moment and it's frustrating because they don't want faxed or scanned/emailed entries, I think they will change that in light of the strike though.

A little secret I've been keeping.... I've ordered a new habit! Actually TWO of them! I decided I didn't like my navy habit, it just doesn't fit quite right so it's time for an upgrade. I'm also getting a tweed habit. I just love how they look and hopefully it'll stay a bit cleaner than the navy! They are supposed to be done in a few weeks time so hopefully the strike will be over before it's time to pop them in the mail.

What a pain!

A schooling roadblock....Urgh.

I guess it's my turn to have a riding roadblock and be incredibly frustrated. Yesterday was gorgeous outside, Brigit had her feet trimmed and then I decided to ride outside in her paddock since it's finally dried up. She was really really good outside but I could tell the footing still wasn't quite up to snuff so we went inside to finish up...... Which resulted in a pretty good battle.

Everything was suddenly a big deal to my silly red headed mare. The scary ray of light peaking through the door that she had to try and leap over, the stuff in the corner we had to spook at, the noise the other horse made that made her scoot forward.... Then she started to get upset with anything I did. If I moved my leg AT ALL, she scooted forward. If I tried to adjust my reins at all, she would throw her head up and get all discombobulated. If I tried to half halt to slow her down a touch, her head would go up or she'd suck her nose to her chest and just run right through me. I finally resorted to walk/halt transitions until she could do them relatively settled and we quit.

What the heck?!?!?!

I sure hope tomorrow's ride is better.... urgh.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

This is why I love where I work!

Everything is starting to burst with color with the past few weeks of warm weather! As our school has a horticulture program the grounds are absolutely immaculate during the spring/summer/fall. Every day something new pops up. The amount of work that goes into the gardens is astonishing but well worth it!

Allium in bloom.

This is the "Alumni Peony Garden", I can't wait to see this blooming!

I love these apple trees that are trained to grow against the wall. An otherwise ugly wall is transformed!

These orange tulips are so unusual!

The alpine garden is bursting with color.

This little flower is so neat!

The moss phlox is gorgeous. I wish I had a spot to plant some of this in my garden.

Even the marsh marigold in the ponds are blooming.

There are many ancient apple trees on campus, their twisted trunks & branches are so interesting, especially when they're blooming!

I went and stood under one to take some pictures and the smell was amazing!

Some of the annuals are starting to be planted outside. I love their color combinations.

I'm not sure what the flowers under the tree are but they sure are neat!

Some peony's with really unusual leaves looking like they're about to bloom.

No idea what this is but it's interesting!

Some teeny tiny daffodils

And some more tulips.

I must have taken 50 pictures while wandering around today, there are so many different things everywhere you look. Aren't I lucky??

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Grrr!!! Why can't I comment?!?!

I don't know why but blogger is not letting me leave comments on anyone else's blogs or my own! I have been reading everyone else's posts, I just haven't been able to comment.

Anybody know how to fix this?

Goodbye Cody! But just for the summer!

One of my best school horses is heading out to pasture for the summer. His wonderful owner graciously loaned him to me to use for my lessons & to help work off some fat. I don't know if we've managed to get much off of him but we've had fun with him!

Isn't he adorable with his little rider?