Brave

In posts from my early days of having Gus, you may have heard me say how proud I am of Gus Gus. How brave he is. What a good boy he is on trails. How awesome he did in a crowded warm up.

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Well, that was all true. But what the past two shows and the Elisa Wallace clinic has shown me is that Gus has lost some of that confidence.

It’s gotten so bad that the other day when I was hacking him around the property we walked past a hole in the ground he had seen a million times before. It is literally on the walk to his paddock every day. But today… hic sunt leones! And I swear he almost got me off, the bastard!

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So when I get back from MN and am done with the wedding nightmare, we are back to ground work and desensitizing. Clearly we need to remember how to be brave again.

Chatt Hills Schooling Show 7.30.16

Since it has been quite some time since I actually rode in this show… let’s just sum of the day.

Dressage

This was by far and away my worst dressage test. Not so far as the numbers went but because nothing was going right. New trainer thought Gus looked off in his left hind but we managed to work out of that until we got into the ring where I completely threw him away and rode miserably. This was entirely my fault but I do have an excuse.

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You see, as we were marching down the middle, all confident after a wonderful warm-up, the judge stood up as if she expected me to halt. We were riding BN A, there is no halt. Or is there? She suddenly had me wondering if I had memorized the wrong test! So, with basically no preparation, I came to a halt. It was a terrible halt.

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And yes, there is no halt in BN A. Or BN B. But honestly, I think the judge forgot! Because I did not get a technical error the halt and, in fact, the comments actually sound like she firmly believe there is a halt in that test.

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But either way, it threw me off for the rest of the test and it was mediocre at  best.

Jumping

No surprise, the NQRness that new trainer had seen during dressage warm up (and the test) was amazingly gone when it was time for jumping. GusGus just doesn’t want to prance around in the sandbox. Warm up went really well and we had some nice fences.

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I was really excited to get in the arena to actually do our course though I knew there would be some scary to Gus fences. Chatt Hill’s arena is HUGE and beautiful. And not boiling hot because it uses white sand instead of the black footing that Poplar does. Ugh.

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But anyway, going in I did my best to trot around all the scary jumps. Sure enough, Gus spooked at the flowers under fence two. Made the mental note to ride that one all the way through. So what did I do? Oh yeah, gave up a half stride out and, sure enough, had a stop.

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We got over it and continued on our course. I had a few really pony club up moments. Over or thru. There is no stopping.

XC

So after that, I sent the  boy up to add Gus’ XC gear and while I hurridly walked the course. It was so hot and humid, I was ’bout dying three fences in. There were a few things I was worried about, namely the bank and the arc jump. The  bank because, while I love them, Gus has never seen one this big and we had a second jump only three strides after it. The arc because it was the same fence we ran out of at the Stephen Bradley clinic.

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And of course a storm started rolling in.

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I am so thankful to have a trainer to warm me up now. It helped tremendously. The first two fences were beautiful. The third fence was a run out. It was not one I had been worried about. Just a hanging log on top of a box. I guess I just let Gus look a little and didn’t put enough leg on. The rest of the course rode fine though I did let him get a little strong to the arc. He flew up the bank fine, though, and rode past a very spooky group of fences.

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While it wasn’t our best ever outing, I think we both learned a lot from this course. Now though we are taking a break while I get through the next two weeks.

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Elisa Wallace Clinic

I had a great time at the Elisa Wallace Clinic but am not going to focus much on the first day for a few reasons: A) it was flatwork day and, while difficult, I felt there were too many people in the session and I did not get as much individual attention as I would have liked and B) the boy forgot his camera battery so no pretty photos. Elisa’s teaching style was good though and something I really meshed with so even though I was a bit disappointed with day 1, I left really looking forward to day 2 which was the jumping phase.

Things did not start great for me. Gus was raring to go and being pretty uppity, though surprisingly not spooking at new fences like he does at Chatt and Poplar. I trotted him all over the field and let him look at everything in hopes we wouldn’t have any stupid stops. He didn’t even care. And then since he was being a little fresh, I let him canter around a bunch hoping to get some of the energy out. But that didn’t really help at all.

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The first fence we worked on was just a little step box and Gus landed on the far side and bolted. Lovely. Yanking on him just led to bracing on his part so I basically had to pull him off balance and into a little tiny circle to bring him back down. Elisa was not impressed. She told me I had to make him stop afterwards.

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So we kept working on that fence and started adding some combinations. I could not get Gus to stop without letting him go a ways and then turning him. Worse, he was not letting me half halt before the fences either so things were getting kind of ugly. So Elisa quickly changed the way I was riding and asking for him to come back. She had me majorly shorten my reins, brace one hand on his neck and pull directly back with the other. It was much better, immediately.

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The problem was though that I have a terrible habit of letting the reins slip through my hands after fences, especially when we get to a bad spot. And, due to my short t-rex arms, I felt like I was choking up too far. Turns out my reins are never really as short as they feel to me, and that was what Elisa wanted because as long as I had my reins short and grabbed rein over the fences, my hands flowed with him and did not catch him in the mouth.

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By the end of the day, I had a horse who was rating much better and was no longer running away from me. Cheers to the small things!

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On a personal note, this was the first time being in a brand new field of fences, that I was not nervous. None of them were super high of course, but they all felt old hat. It’s a wonderful feeling.

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To end the session, Elisa had us do the full course of fences. I actually ended up going twice to really cement the whole “not taking off after fences” thing but I was happy with our effort both times. Gus was brave and bold to the new fences, and willing to come back. I remembered to count (and breath) as I came to the fences and I think it made all the difference.

I would definitely be willing to ride with Elisa again, especially over fences. She has a really down to earth attitude. She’s helpful when mistakes are made but she expects you to learn from them and not make them again. Since she is local, maybe I’ll get a chance to do so again soon!

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Back on the Track

Subtitle: A Blogger Meet Up with Hillary from Equestrian at Hart

After what seemed like a million times that Hillary has been down my way with Annie and I haven’t been able to make it work, it kind of seemed like we would never actually be able to make a meet up happen. But then Hillary became interested in the Elisa Wallace clinic that I was also interested in and I pulled my $hit together. YAY!

It was a short weekend spent mostly on the back of a horse (the best kind right?) but I had a fabulous time meeting Hillary and all of her animals. We met at the clinic and rode in our session before heading out to one of my favorite local eateries (where I maybe shouldn’t have indulged quite so much on a blackberry infused vodka lemonade… dangerous!). Then headed back to my place to get some shut eye.

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All four pups got along pretty well. Bear decided that he loved the same type of chuck it ball that Guinness also adores. I tell you, these balls are like GSD crack. Also, he is just the most well behaved little puppy. You would totally forget that he is only 6 months except if he weren’t still so lanky and puppyish in his looks.

The next morning we rode in the 11:00 session of the clinic but of course Hillary had to leave early to take care of Annie and I had to go get Gus so we once again met up at the clinic grounds. I will talk more in depth about the actual clinic but it’s the aftermath that I really want to share.

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The farm that hosted the clinic used to be a race horse training facility. It’s kind of fallen into disarray which is unfortunate because the bones are there and the grounds are beautiful. And they still have the race track even if it’s not groomed perfectly.

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Hillary and I first went out on the track thinking we were just going to walk around, get a few pictures, and cool our OTTBs out after a good jumping lesson.

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Then as we were walking we decided it might be okay to trot clockwise around the track and then turn around.

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Then we got to the far turn and thought, well maybe we can just do a little slow canter? Or maybe even a quiet hand gallop?

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And then Annie put her nose in front of Gus’ and that was it. We were gone.

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Thank GOD that one of the things Elisa Wallace had been working on me with was rating in the XC field when Gus got going because I needed it. First I start pulling like I normally would.

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That just kind of threw him off balance and let him brace. Then I remembered, shortened my reins, braced one hand into his mane and PULLED hard with the other. He came back to me just like Elisa told me he would.

Annie, of course, was the perfect OTTB and had no problems taking off with Hillary. Lucky. Though she did lose both of her bell boots so I guess no horse is perfect.

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You can’t tell in the pictures but we were cruising and I am positive that I was nowhere near Gus’ top speed. And for a few moments I really did think we were going to be lapping that track a couple of times. I’d like to do this again (and really let him out) when I have my vest on and haven’t already jumped him a bunch before hand.

You kind of forget that he not only raced but he won a couple of times. Sure, they were mostly claimers but he beat other winners. And his half sister won the Kentucky Oaks . He knows what he’s supposed to do and he wanted to run.

That was our fun adventure and I am so glad that Hillary got to share it with us. Hopefully we can meet up at some of the local horse trials! I know Gus and I are raring to go after this clinic.

 

Go Away Humidity

Sometimes it is just too hot for a proper ride. That’s when I hop on like this:

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Yup, don’t even care about the redneck fugly of it all.

This was how we rode on Tuesday and it was an interesting ride to say the least… but it was a ride! That’s something I guess.

Last night was our first real lesson with LT and I am very pleased with how it went. The two times she’s coached me before we really just dived in and made it happen but now we were able to actually focus on where Gus and I are. I told her to expect more from me because that’s the only way I learn. I don’t want to be coddled and told I’m doing a good job when I’m not. I want to get better!

This weekend is the Elisa Wallace clinic and meet up with this awesome duo (quartet with dogs?!). Can’ wait!

New Barn

I know I still owe you all a write up of what happened at Chatt Hills, and I promise I will do so soon! I’m just feeling a little down and stressed about everything that is happening in my life right now so, while I had a ton of fun and learned so much at Chatt, writing about a less than stellar result is not really what I want to be doing. To be honest, all I really want to do is bury my head in the sand until this stupid wedding is over and then maybe I’ll consider coming back to the land of the living.

Maybe.

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I moved Gus to our new barn the night after Chatt Hills. I’m sure he had no idea what was going on with all of the trailering but he ended up settling in pretty well. They have a very different turn out policy so that has taken Gus some getting used to!

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The place is beautiful though and all the horses are healthy and happy and Gus has already made lots of friends.

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I have not been out as much as I normally would be, see wedding stress above, but we have had a couple of good rides that have included exploring the property. This place is no where near as large as my last barn and has really only one “trail” but it’s enough for hacking at least.

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I’m also very lucky in that the dogs are allowed to come out! How do I keep getting so lucky? Harley made a new friend when I brought her out. She is obsessed.

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Tomorrow I have my first official lesson with the new trainer, LT. She schooled us at Chatt and we did a clinic with her so I know I like her style. I’m really looking forward to getting back into a normal schedule though!

 

If a Tree Falls

On the 21st, two Thursdays ago, we closed on a house. YAY. We were super excited to move in and finally get our renovations started. But when we got out there three hours after close, we found a tree on the roof.

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Yes. The boy walked the house with the realtor before close but then storms came in and we just got unlucky. Thank God for home insurance.

So we have been doing what we can. The tree is off the roof and the roof is being repaired this Thursday. We also finally got everything moved out of the rental house and are completely done with that!

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But between all of that I had to find time to work Gus and that did not happen as much as I wanted. Okay, it kind of didn’t happen at all… stop judging me. He did get one really good training ride with one of my barn friends and at the end, he was dripping mud.

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I hate gray  horses!

But we still had a lot of fun at Chatt Hills and we learned a ton! I also want to share the new place with you as we moved Gus right after the show. Thankfully things on the house and horse front are slowing down because wedding preparation is charging up!

Summer Cleaning

When things on the house starting falling into place, the boy and I realized that we would need to use the horse trailer to move. No problem with that except that the trailer was very very dirty.

I used to be very good about cleaning it every spring before show season starts and every fall after show season starts but then I just kind of stopped. No excuses, I was being lazy.

So the boy bought a power washer and got busy!

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I honestly didn’t realize how dirty it actually was until he started getting the gunk off. It was DISGUSTING.

But now it is all shiny and white again. Now to fill it up.

Busy Days

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Things are a little crazy  right now. We are closing on a house on Thursday so we have been spending all of our spare time packing and trying to get out of the house by the end of July (a situation I did not help myself with by signing up for the Chatt Hills Schooling Show on the 30th). Originally we thought we’d continue to pay our lease on our current place through the end of August and possibly into September depending on how fast the landlord could get it rented. But literally a day after we told her we were buying a place, she had people in looking at it and yesterday she let us know it is officially rented as of August 10th. This is wonderful because it saves us a month and a half of rent but does not leave us a lot of time.

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So there is that. And the wedding. And moving Gus. And trying to get ready for Chatt. Which is a little hard to do when your horse has pulled a shoe and left all of the nails in.

Should have named him Cinderella.

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All this is to say that you may not hear from me much in the next two weeks as I lose internet and try to keep my life in order. Thankfully the farrier will be out today to put new shoes on but I don’t know when I’m going to have time to actually ride.

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Not that Gus cares, he’s happy to just chill in his field. But I might when I see how big those fences look in a few weeks!

 

Poplar Place Farm 7.9.16 Schooling Show – Stadium Jumping

I really don’t have a lot to say about the rest of the day. After dressage we went back to the trailer, cooled Gus out, and I changed into shorts so I’d be more comfortable walking the XC course. Also because I do not need to be wearing white breeches for the rest of the day. Changing into tight breeches is not the easies thing to do in my little hot and humid trailer but I wanted to be cool.

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The XC course had been shortened due to the heat and was only 13 fences. I also don’t think any of the fences were maxed out. There was  nothing on course that looked scary to me but I could see where I was really going to have to ride certain types of fences. I was excited to get out there.

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But first was stadium.

Stadium was a shit show. Gus warmed up really nice. I am getting a lot better with my riding but Gus was spooking at EVERYTHING. So I knew it was going to be a tough round. And something about having poles in every cup is a little unnerving to me. They didn’t look big but they did look very solid.

Gus thought so too!

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In the end, we got through it. Gus did not spook at the judges tent this time so that was an improvement. There were also two fences that Gus probably should have gotten a refusal. The first was the brick jump and I felt like he came to a complete stop but a) you can’t tell in the video and b) it was going towards the judges so they couldn’t really tell. The second fence I don’t have a picture of but you can see in the video. It’s the American jump and he swerves really hard before it but I drag him back to it and we go over.

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There were some really good things though too. Gus had no issues with the combination and had some of his nicest looking jumps to date. Guess they just need to be a little more impressive to get him to pay attention.

That unfortunately ended our day because just as we were getting ready to go out on XC it started to storm and they called the show. Boo. I was still happy with the Gus boy though so we packed it up and headed home. It was a good experience and hopefully will set us up for Chatt Hills in a few weeks.