Wednesday, May 8, 2013
The first jumper show is a week away. The show is on May 16!! What a great way to have fun and practice jumping 'show jumps'.
Showing in the jumper show or any other show and want someone to photograph you for free? Contact Emily or check out my page on facebook Here.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Monday, April 1, 2013
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Friday, March 22, 2013
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
I had the chiropractor/acupuncturist out for Beacon just to make sure he's feeling great and all tuned up for the season. Dr. Ridgeway was phenomenal and I learned a ton watching as he worked through different muscle groups and pressure points. It was amazing to see where he was a little stiff/sore and then literally watch the sensitivity disappear through the acupuncture points. The deep sighs that he gave out after each adjustment, particularly the chiropractic ones, were telltale. Dr. Ridgeway was impressed by how even he is on each side and he only needed minor adjusting, meaning that he's been using himself correctly (yay!) He gets today off, a hack tomorrow, and then back to unrestricted work Thursday. He definitely feels good, he's been stretching, yawning, and napping all morning!
The remainder of this week will focus on more intense xc schools for both mares and Stew and preparing for the arrival of the rest of the Valinor crew on Friday afternoon! I heard they got more snow at home, it's 70 degrees and sunshine here again today!!! Stay warm up there!
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Full Gallop was a bit of a rough outing. Beacon's dressage was only average scoring a 37; he is so relaxed in the dressage arena these days that I am finding I really need to kick him to get forward. Who ever thought that big pony would become a kick-a-long ride! It's an adjustment that I need to make when competing him, but it shows he is more confident and relaxed in competition which is great. Show jumping, however, was a bit of a disappointment. He warmed up brilliantly; literally loping down to the big, airy 4' fences like a hunter and casually stretching into a lovely shape across the top. He didn't come close to touching a rail and I was super pleased so we stopped and watched a couple trips in the arena, and then I went to just jump another fence or two right before our trip. He stepped right up into a lovely working canter and loped down to the line. We were about five strides out from a big oxer when a woman walked in front of it and he just completely shut down, slamming on the breaks. His brain completely switched off and he went into manic mode, trying to race against the bridle and throw himself at the fences. Unfortunately, this all happened with only one horse ahead of us, and so I didn't have time to really break the cycle with a walk break and start over at the cross rail (which is what he needed). We went into the ring with him still panicky and took down more rails than stayed up I think. Disappointing to say the least, but what really is bothersome is understanding why he shut down. The woman that walked in front of the fence and stood at the corner of it, although distracting, should not have in any way fried his brain like it did. Discussing the events with Debbie afterwards brought up an interesting observation. In our lessons, the jumps that are consistently his worst are when she is standing in a close proximity to them, the ones he truly relaxes over are always where there are no people near. We're not sure what this really means, but it is certainly worth making a mental note of, and we plan on experimenting with this a bit in our next session, just to try and understand a bit better the psychology behind it.
Cross country, on the other hand, he was a superstar, as always. This horse is so completely confident out on course it is amazing. The Intermediate division was a bloodbath on Sunday: countless falls, eliminations, retirements, and withdrawals. Beacon rocked around a tricky track with ease, getting through all the hard elements effortlessly; it was just about a footwork perfect run. We picked up a little bit of last-fence-itis in the final combination of the sunken road, however, (not a question I was anticipating would be problematic), and picked up an unlucky 20. The question consisted of a house at the top of a hill, down the hill to a drop with a rolltop at the edge, land, one stride, turn 90 degrees right, and then a couple strides to a bank, one stride to a skinny. My plan when walking was that the large house at the top of the hill would set him up and balance him back so that we could jump it softly and just pad down the hill and through the combination. What I hadn't anticipated was that at that point in the course, after clocking through all the other hard stuff, the house at the top of the hill wouldn't back him off at all. He locked onto that house and SOARED over it which left us flying downhill towards the sunken road. I simply didn't react fast enough and he jumped the down portion of the sunken road boldly, too boldly, and the landing carried us past the turning line. I glanced right at where I was supposed to be going, sighed because I knew it wasn't going to work, circled left instead and continued on. In the future I need to remember that a simple large fence is not enough to back him off after such a stellar run and I need to do more a bit more. What a shame to rack up 20 simply because he was TOO bold. Regardless, I was very pleased with his xc outing. And even with a horrible show jumping and a circle xc he still finished in third (that's how much of a bloodbath it was). Now if I could just get all the pieces together on the same day....
Stew had a super first outing of the season, although his score doesn't really do him justice. He started his dressage warm up brilliantly- all businesslike and confidently relaxed. Then the warm up got a bit crazy and I thought I was going to lose him completely- we started doing piaffe and passage and couldn't simply halt or stand. He was at least starting to breath again as we circled the arena, and put in a very accurate and obedient test, but it was a bit conservative which the judge really didn't like (but hello! if I had told him to step a bit bigger he may have just stepped right up and out of the ring!) Even though I played it a bit safe I was surprised by the score (a 40!), and thought that the judge scored him a bit harsher than necessary. He was super and double clear show jumping, and very ride-able. In the last combination he got just a touch flat and so I asked him to wait and add a stride instead and he did with ease- that's a huge improvement, as before he would just lock on and go big and long when he wasn't in that perfect distance. Cross country (aka the Novice Olympics) he handled like a champ, although it did take him a few fences to get rolling in a confident rhythm. Once he clicked into gear though he was a rockstar: negotiating two big water complexes, a coffin, offset houses, banks, and even a trekhener! (See what I mean by the Novice Olympics?) All in all, a great first outing for Stewart, he will need just another run or two at Novice to make sure he can start out of the box as confidently as he finished through the flags and then he is ready for his Training debut!
Diem had the best mental readiness that I have ever experienced with him in a warm up ring. He started all business-like, soft, and obedient; and he was trying SO hard for me! I was really pleased with him- he didn't even bat an eye when another horse in the warm up almost crashed into him. Unfortunately, his physical readiness didn't match his mental state and he was just a bit stiff and even a touch unlevel at times. We opted to play it safe, even though he wasn't unsound, and scratch him from the remainder of the competition. For him, we know he can jump and do the flatwork- the biggest hurdle has been getting him mentally ready competition day and not tensing up in the warm up arenas- this he passed at Full Gallop with flying colors, even in a chaotic warm up! I was very proud of him, and very appreciative that he was trying his little heart out for me. Hopefully this state of mental readiness will carry through to his next competition.
So, not a bad weekend at all: each horse had some really stellar, progressive moments. This week has a lighter schedule for all with more specific focus on what each horse needs. The next competition scheduled is two weeks away- plenty of time to dig deep into some homework and still have time to polish up for the show ring.
Spring is fast approaching, and with it our return north to the Valinor home base. Stay warm and ride on!
Monday, March 11, 2013
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Delicious cappuccino and chocolate croissant for breakfast, a phenomenal dressage school with Eric in the sunshine, followed by a yummy lunch of fried bologna tomato and grilled cheese! Can this day get any better??? Headed back to the barn now to ride more ponies and then jump with Suzie this afternoon.
Monday, March 4, 2013
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Diem started out the day and it was so cold (the thermostat on my truck was just flashing ICE!) that I was afraid he would be very tight and potentially explosive in a very busy warm up arena. To the contrary, he had a wonderful soft, supple, and sane warm up that I was very pleased with. Even more exciting was the fact that it carried through the transition into the ring and he put in a lovely soft and accurate test. Unfortuantely, I didn't feel that the score did him justice, but it is hard to be immediately following an Olympic rider on a very fancy young warmblood. Either way, it was a test to be proud of for Mr. Diem and the fact that there were no warm up issues at all and he stayed so relaxed is just wonderful! He put in a lovely, double clear show jump round, proving that when he stays relaxed he can be a wonderful show jumper. He did get a touch stronger than I would like down one line, but was able to reorganize and settle back into a nice rhythm. He was really brave and bold cross country, too bold actually, and then he turned cocky. He locked onto a really large table that's been used for Prelim in the past and fought the bridle a bit, clearly annoyed that I was asking him to slow down and refocus. We got up to the base of it where you can finally see how big it was and his eyes about popped out of his head and we had a runout through the right shoulder. His cockiness immediately evaporated and I could almost hear him say, "Whoa! Errr... sorry, guess I should be listening to you after all..." We circled and he jumped it beautifully on the second attempt and remained a bit more humble for the rest of the track- still confident, but more courteous of my input. He did a wonderful job through all of the technical elements and the other big tables, but I think a bit change is in his future for the jumpiung phases. When that red head cockiness flairs up it would be nice to have something in my hand that he respects just a touch more. Other than that little blooper, he had a really great and educational go; I'm looking forward to running Pine Top with him, and we have a little time to experiment with bits beforehand.
Devi thankfully had a better attention span today than she has had the past couple, although still not quite as focused as normal (sigh, the joys of mares). She put in an average dressage test, but was a bit tight through her back which the judge nailed us for. It was still quite cold out for her test and she just never really let go through her topline. Still, she was obedient and trying and that is all I can really ask for. She warmed up for show jumping beautifully, and put in a double clear round in the ring. The show jumping wasn't quite perfect though, and I will spend some focused time on getting the footwork a bit cleaner and the rhthym more consistent. She just got a bit jumbled coming to the in and out and lost the rhthym and focus a bit; she was handy to not touch a rail, but just a little greener than ideal. Cross country, however, she handled like a star. She was super confident and relaxed the whole trip, and really soft and easy to gallop and then recollect. It was close to a textbook round and really made me proud of her.
Ari had a bit of a rushed warm up for dressage with the times being tight which was unfortunate because she really could have used more time. It wasn't her best test as she was really tight due to the cold, but she was trying to be obedient. The horse that was circling around the arena next to us was a bit explosive which also didn't help, but there were glimpses within the test of what will eventually be a very competitive horse. The score was on the high side, but the judge's comments were encouraging, stating that she was seeing the talent that is within but not able to score higher due to the green-ness. I have to be ok with that. Show jump warmup was chaotic and the wind picked up and it was feezing!!! She was a bit reactive to the weather change and the other horses, but settled when she got into the arena. She put in a decent round but had an unlucky rail. Cross country she finally breathed (I think for the first time all day) and put in a stellar round. She was brave and bold and very rideable which I was very pleased with. I think just being able to move freely between the fences finally allowed her to loosen up on this cold, windy day and she was able to settle into a comfortable rhthym. Now if we can just get her to relax a little more around the other horses in the warm up arenas so that she can be breathing for the dressage and show jump that would be huge!
A long cold day, but a successful one for everyone's first move up. We definitley have some homework to do, but I am really looking forward to smoothing out the wrinkles. All three of these horses have a lot of talent and will be very competitive once they sort things out. This week will focus more on Stewart and Beacon's preparations for Full Gallop. Debbie is due out again Thursday, and I will connect with Eric for some dressage tune ups early this week as well.
Hope everyone is staying warm!!! I'm on my second cappachino and now, after finally defrosting, heading back to the barn. Ride On!!
Speaking of Debbie, Thursday I organized a clinic with her and rode all three of mine- what a great day of learning! Devi was a bit opinionated and I actually had an uncharacteristically difficult ride on her: a direct result of a little bump up in her grain, some alfalfa mixed in with the new hay, and her realizing apparently overnight that there were a lot of boys around! We still got a lot accomplished but, jeesh!, I was a little nervous that she wouldn't be able to retain her focus for the weekend. Ari started out beautifully, got a bit excited when two horses trotted by on the track, but settled back down to get some serious work done. The mare is a bit unconventional, but she can JUMP, and Debbie loved her. Beacon had a FANTASTIC jump school! We didn't need to do to much because he was jumping so well (yay!!) Debbie has some excellent exercises to get him to think a bit and use his body better and they are really paying off. The best, in my opinion: a tiny trot jump to a short one stride, to an oxer that you slowly make larger and wider. The catch is that the oxer is made from two panels and a very fair groundline. On the approach it appears to be a vertical, so when they get inside the combination they sort of pause as they figure out that it's an oxer which causes them to push off the ground and strrrrrrrrrech across the top. Brilliant! I am so happy with how he is progressing in this phase that I'm almost looking forward to show jumping at Full Gallop next week (almost).
Friday was dressage day for everyone to practice the pieces of the new training test, really focusing on the lengthenings and the new smaller figures. Devi was a bit tricky to keep focused again, Diem started out soft and finished up really well, Ari had some lovely moments opening up her trot, and Stew was super- his canter has gotten so much stronger. Beacon lucked out and just had a light hack day, although gauging by the way he danced and did a parade strut the entire time perhaps I should have galloped him! Marissa came by to help with horse show prep (bathing, braiding, tack cleaning, trailer packing, etc) and then everyone was put to bed for the night in anticipation of a very early morning (Diem was scheduled first for a 7:30am ride time!).
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
...so you know you're in Aiken when....
...you are running super late at the barn to meet people for dinner so u quickly swap out breeches for jeans over your boot socks, toss a baseball hat over a messy ponytail, add earings to make yourself look "dressed", and spray yourself with Downy wrinkle releaser to hide the horse smell. Ta-Da! Instant dinner appropriate attire (don't mind the smudge of horse snot on the back of my vest please).
Sigh, I really did just admit to that ;)
This silent guy almost sent me tumbling! Stewie wanted to be sure I saw him, which of course called for a couple whirlwind spins and snorts. Then the thing took flight and the wingspan was HUGE! Which of course led to another whole cycle of spins and more exaggerated snorts. Stew: "Hey lady, I TOLD you that thing was in attack mode!!!! NOW do you believe me????"
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Friday and Saturday was Pine Top in Thompson, Georgia! Beacon and I ran our first Intermediate of the season and he was awesome, even in the less than stellar weather. Friday was Dressage and Cross Country while Saturday was Show Jumping. He warmed up beautifully for dressage even though the footing was straight mud. In the test we had a marked improvement in both haunches in and lengthenings (thank you Therese!) scoring lots of sevens and even eights in the walk and extended walk! In the canter at home I've been schooling a lot of flying changes for the jumping and unfortunately it carried into the dressage arena this weekend where we put in lovely flying changes of lead where we should have done counter canter (dang it!). The break in the movement means we could only score a four, but the canter was lovely; the judge even put a frown face after the four with "flying change" written, it should have been another eight! In one of the most inconsistent score wise tests I've probably ever ridden on Beacon (ranging from fours to eights) we still finished with a 40 in ninth place out of 18 or so competitors. He was a good boy and I was happy with the test, I just can't school flying changes the day before dressage in the future!
Cross country he was an absolute machine, attacking the complex questions and big fences with ease. This was a very big and challenging Intermediate, particularly for so early in the season, and I was so proud of him for clocking through everything. I made a big rider error at the coffin, however, that cost us 20 and some time. He galloped up and rocked back to his coffin canter beautifully, jumping the A element with ease, and then for some stupid reason I dropped my eye and focused on the ditch while looking away from C. He jumped the ditch fine and then I realized I wasn't looking for C and yanked my eyes up only to realize we were now way off the line- Dang! We just circled and jumped the C and continued on, but what a silly mistake!!! Always look for the final element in a combination and ride all the way through the question! Poor Beacon didn't deserve the 20, and without it we would have moved up to second! As it was we stayed in ninth place carrying the 20 penalties and some time for circling; it was a hard lesson to learn, but I won't do it again!
Saturday brought more rain and Show Jumping. The Stadium phase has been hard for us recently, and I worried that he would be tired after a hard track the day before, a long busy week, and a lot of trailering back and forth. I am super pleased to say that he jumped splendidly and we finished the event with only two rails. One was mine, I moved him up past a distance, and one was his where he dropped one rail with a hind leg. It looks like all the work we've put into the stadium jumping is finally paying off! Funny enough we still finished in ninth, just out of the ribbons, and although some mistakes were made throughout the weekend they are nothing that a little tweaking can't fix. Namely: don't school flying changes before Dressage, LOOK where you are going XC, and don't make too much of a move up to a distance in the SJ (because Beacon WILL get there, and if I push at all then he's way past the distance). I am very pleased with our first big track of the season completed, and even though we weren't competitive this time, we will be for Full Gallop in two weeks!
The rest of this week is focused on the mares and Diem moving up to Training at Sporting Days, and getting Stew out for a bigger xc school. There is a combined test Wed that I will probably take the two boys to at Training, and the girls need to get out to Full Gallop to school some Training level questions and tune up before the weekend. Beacon will enjoy a little down time and then we plan on working with Debbie later in the week again, and Eric on the flat.
The sun is finally back out again and it's planned to be a high of 73 degrees today!!! Hope all you folks up North are staying warm!
Monday, February 18, 2013
Beacon had his first outing of the season and while he was obedient in his dressage test the 30 degree weather had him quite tight and a bit... um.... forward! He put in a double clear show jump round, but I honestly wasn't as happy with it as I had hoped; he was still a bit sloppy and if they had been at Intermediate height we certainly would have had a couple rails. Cross country continues to be his favorite phase and I must say he put in a foot work perfect and effortless round. This horse is a dream to run xc, it's just so easy for him! I however, was less than stellar and steered to the wrong rolltop and got us TE ed!!! Dang it, those dark green numbers look the same as the black ones! I wasn't alone at least, Doug also jumped the wrong fence; however he wisely thought it didn't feel right and circled around to jump the correct one before continuing on, thus racking up some time points but no penalty. I jumped the training jump and in the air I remember thinking how small it seemed..., and then galloped on to the next fence. Oh well, at least we got to jump around and get a good first season run in prep for Pine Top this coming weekend..
Ari was actually very soft and obedient in the dressage ring although her score doesn't show it. She was being so soft and relaxed that I didn't want to interfere to much and I let her be a bit too long and low, which as it turns out, this particular judge hated and docked me at least a point every movement. It was unfortunate because she really deserved a good score, but next time I will need to be a bit braver and push her up into a more uphill and ground covering step. Her show jumping was double clear and the last line was lovely, she just needed to work out that first course of the season stickiness. (Beacon, Ari, and Devi were supposed to run a CT at Sporting Days to get in the ring once before they competed but it was unfortunately cancelled so Paradise was a dry run for all three of them). She was stellar cross country though, breezing through every question with ease.
Diem had a bit of a rough first day, he couldn't really seem to settle in the electric atmosphere and he unfortunately had to ride his dressage test in the freezing rain (not helpful to encourage looseness!) By the end of warm up he was actually traveling pretty nicely, but lost his relaxation transitioning into the ring. The CT that he went to earlier in the week had a very laid back atmosphere so he had none of the show jitters there. The test wasn't bad at all, he was obedient and trying, but just tense, and the judge nailed him for it. An hour later in the show jumping warm up he was much more relaxed and starting to handle the pressure of a larger venue. Unfortunately when we went into the ring he wasn't paying attention and tapped the first rail. I reprimanded him and O.M.G. he was most definitely NOT going to touch another rail. He jumped the rest of the track over the height of the standards!!! The pictures tell the story, there's one of a rather funny face I am making that made us laugh when we reviewed them. That pony can JUMP! Sunday was his day to shine though, and he ate up the technical novice track. Everything was footwork perfect out there and he was a breeze to gallop between the fences and rock back for each question. Good thing I was wearing a watch because he was being so efficient in covering the ground that we were almost too fast. I was extremely pleased on a whole with him Sunday, he was super relaxed and unphased by the warm up and the atmosphere, and stayed really relaxed and rideable throughout the day. I predict that now that we have gotten the first jitters out of his system he will be able to really shine at the next outing!
Little Miss Devon was the star of the weekend finishing on her dressage test of 27.4! This little lady has become so easy and consistent it's amazing. The dressage judge actually stuck her head out of the car at the end of the test to inform me that Dev has an AMAZING walk! Her show jumping started a little quick but she worked out the first track of the season jitters before we got half way around and finished up in a lovely rhythm. She was a dream cross country! Possibly, with the exception of Ollie, the easiest cross country round I've ever ridden. She was super relaxed and every question was effortless for her. I also almost went to fast on her, and it only felt like we were loping around! Her stride is so ground covering and efficient it is effortless for her to gallop over the terrain. She is turning into quite the competitor.
Well, now it's monday morning and everyone is enjoying some time off relaxing in the sun. Beacon has to work on the flat this afternoon, Stew has a cross xountry school, Kate will lesson on Ari, and I'm heading to Marissa's farm to ride Carino. Happy riding everyone! And stay warm up north!!!
First, massive spider, any ideas what it is???
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Saturday, February 9, 2013
We've officially been in Aiken a week today, and I have been very tardy in updating this blog. I promise to get better (sorry Mom!!!!)
I am in love with the setup of my barn this year. I have a little shed row barn all to myself off in the corner of Sandy Hills. The horses have all settled in fine, and I have been busy organizing and making the place feel like home. This place is amazing with the amount of riding space we have access to. Along with the fields, arenas, and track there are trails throughout the different properties along the road which everyone shares, and since my barn borders one of the access points I've had a few visitors already. Just the other day Fernanda Kellogg (the driving force behind Fitch's Corner) hacked by and invited me over to her farm across the street for lunch: BBQ shrimp, taco soup, salad, some amazing baked beans, the works! While over there I also chatted with Silva Martin who is heading to FL this week which makes room for Alison Springer to move in. Nick Meyer's (Fernanda's right hand man) and I started discussing hay and, BINGO!, he has plenty of good quality northern hay that I can buy off of him that beats every price in Aiken. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! For those that are unaware, the drought that the country suffered last year has drastically effected hay prices, the same hay I bought last year for $11.75 is now $19 a bale!!!
Now what everyone really cares about- the horses!!! The first day of turnout had me calling Tom right off the bat to tack on some pulled shoes for me. Stewart and Ari both needed a quick resest, but at least I found the shoes! After the first exciting day everyone settled down nicely so that we could focus on riding. All horses hacked the first two days to get them stretched out and settled in after their long haul, I have to admit there were some acrobatic moments from all five ponies, but the dancing award definitely goes to Diem who was so excited about the warm weather and sunshine he could barely keep his feet on the ground until we got down to the track and let him blow off a little steam. At this point all horses have done two dressage schools (in the amazing full sized dressage arena with mirrors all down one length), a sj school, and a conditioning day in addition to the first couple of hacks. The easiest horse to gallop? Devin! The best show jump school? Diem! The worst show jump school? Beacon (who thought it was very exciting to be outside and jumping and decided galloping between fences was much more fun). The best dressage schools are awarded to both Stew and Ari, and Beacon gets most improved after he jumped like a gentleman again last night. Red's rides have also been going really well; yesterday she jumped Moon on her first ever XC school and the little mare ate it up! Keelan owns the third thrown shoe so instead of riding him yesterday Bubba (the wonderful owner of Sandy hills) helped Red swim him in the pond. He was a superstar at it, more on that and pictures to come later.
All of the horses are getting geared up for the first competions starting just next week. There are two combined tests before Beacon and the ladies run Paradise Horse Trials next weekend. This weekend everyone will get to jump around the derby field a bit, and I have started the process of signing up for lessons with Suzie, Doug, Eric, and Mara. I think I will also try working with Alison this year since she is so close.
That's all for now. Stay warm!!!!
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Its 75 degrees out! And Zion and I are stationed at fence 10 on the Novice track at Full Gallop soaking up some sun. Red and Chris are also volunteering here today across the field. I think it is so important to volunteer if u are able to do so, organizers are always desperate for help of any kind (trust me!) And what better way to get your horse fix in on a sunny afternoon? You have to do it right though! A hat to block some sun, a little bit of shade, a chair to kick back in, and some citrus iced green tea makes the whole experience worthwhile. Now I get to relax and check out the color schemes that are in this season, don't want Beacon and I to engage in a fashion taboo next weekend!