Monday, June 27, 2011

First derby of the year

So we did the first event derby of the year on Sunday. And I am SO pleased to say it went really, REALLY well. We moved up to Intro to Beginner Novice for the first time.

Our jump clinic on Friday went great. We schooled everything we were going to jump in the derby, and I was really surprised -- the jumps were just logs on the ground, whereas we'd been schooling much higher. But this is the first derby of the year, so it was pitched pretty low. My friend's daughter took a really spectacular fall from a really rotten pony, but everyone came out okay. (The pony almost didn't ...)

Saturday was dressage practice on my own. At MT's recommendation, I longed Rev in side reins before I got on -- not to work the squirrellies out, but to get her stretching through her neck without as much of a fight as we had on Thursday. And I chatted with TW, a superb resource in her own right, about some of the issues we've been having. Her advice was to keep the outside rein steady-steady-steady, so Rev can find it and trust it. She suggested some exercises to get me familiar with the kind of steadiness and contact I need to have, too. So I lunged, and then I worked on taking TW'sadvice. And I'll be damned if it didn't work beautifully!! Rev was steady, rhythmic, and in my hand. We didn't have the outline MT can get, but it was a dang sight better than we'd been doing. So I was really delighted with our practice.

The rest of Saturday I spent in the shade, watching the visiting instructor teach while I cleaned my tack. Unfortunately, I watched my friend get pitched from her mare and break her arm. Poor girl!! Got all my stuff together and was ready to go by bedtime Saturday.

So our dressage on Sunday ... moment of truth! We had a good warmup, overall -- she was relaxed and in my hand as I got the outside rein connected. Our right lead canter wasn't really coming together, but I hadn't managed my time well enough and didn't have time to really address it. We circled the arena, NOT spooking at the signs, woo!, bell rings, and in we go. I could tell from the entry we were going to have a good test. Our first center line was straight and accurate, and our first short diagonal (USEF Beginner Novice A is a weird test) was nice and neat, and our corner was good. First trot circle was nice; good geometry and size ... and then a BEAUTIFUL left lead canter depart! Woot! Another good circle, through the corner after A ... and she broke gait! ACK! So I got it right the heck back and did a trot transition where we were supposed to, but my brain was all rattled. So our walk transition, medium walk, and free walk weren't wonderful, but ... I know what happened there. Right trot circle went well, then our right lead canter depart and circle were, as I expected, rocky. Bleh. Not bad, but rocky. She was resistant in the circle, and she kind of clattered into the trot. And then time for our last center line and halt. I sat UP, squared my seatbones, legs, and rein contact, made that last 10m half circle to go up center line -- she was so balanced! And I squeezed and sat up, and she halted quickly, squarely, politely, and on the bit.

That last center line and halt? Earned us a NINE. NINE!! The left lead canter depart earned an 8! And our entry and diagonal a 7! I was SO pleased with Rev; she did everything I asked her to, good and bad. Everything that went wrong was pilot error, not horse disobedience. GOOD GIRL!!!

We ended up with a 39.5, which was enough to put us in a tie for fourth (fifth when collectives were considered), and the first five scores were within a point of each other. Yay us!

Jumping went so well as to almost not merit discussion -- almost an anticlimax. We did have one bobble, though, which was entirely my fault. At the second to last fence (!!), I didn't have my leg on strong enough, and I was too forward, so she looked at the brush and ran out right. Alas. Pilot error completely. So we came around and re-presented, and I had my leg on TIGHT and was sitting UP, and she jumped the second time. Yep, I knew what I'd done wrong, and I fixed it that second time. Good girl!!

So in the end, we earned us a pretty pink ribbon!! For our first time out at this level, I think it was a pretty dang awesome day for us. We'll do even better next time!

And there might actually be pictures soon. A friend's dad kindly took some of me, and he'll send the ones he got as soon as he can.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I haven't been riding, since Rev's in full training until Sunday and MT would prefer I not ride her without him teaching.

But I have been reading a LOT about horses and eventing, and I've been exercising and dieting. (Successfully so far, yay!) :)

One thing I've been reading is the Golightly Sport Horses blog about Phillip Dutton's event camp, and I have to say that going to that camp is becoming a long-term goal of mine. :D Not long-term because we're not ready, but long-term so that I can a) get a trailer b) save up enough money to travel to PA c) save up enough money to pay for camp!!

I'm also stressing a little over the fact that the event derby at home is coming up in 10 days or so, and I'm not in the least confident in my dressage. Eeeek! So I'll be riding every day next week, and I'll try to sneak in an extra lesson, if MT's available, to work specifically on dressage. I'm not too worried about the jumping, because Rev's good and we'll have a clinic Friday night, but the dressage does freak me out a little. Breathe ... breathe ... breathe. :)

I'm looking forward to the derby, though, too. And to the July derby in Bellevue. I'm especially looking forward to doing a clinic with Allison Springer! I've never ridden with her before, and I think it'll be a great experience. Yay!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

XC lessons!

We had a cross-country lesson at the barn this last weekend, and I got to ride both days. My best friend came to take some pictures on Saturday, and he got us going over the roll-top for the very first time, among other photos.

A lot of these photos of me aren't very flattering at all, but hey -- it is what it is, right? And some of them have Rev looking very green, but again, she IS green. :)

Without further ado:

This was a little warm-up canter exercise -- canter this pole, then sharp turn (right, in this case) to canter a second pole. The trick was to get straight on both poles, centered on both poles, and get the number of strides MT asked for. In this case, we're about to get the five strides he asked for.

Then we moved into the field to jump some cross-rails and some real xc jumps. We need work on jumping downhill:

Uphill, she jumps fine, even though this is just about too small to bother with:

When we went to jump the double log jump backwards, Rev tried to duck out left -- I held her in pretty well, and she ended up jumping the left corner of the fence and veering off left ... but I stayed on:

She jumped it every time afterward, especially when my position is screaming JUMP IT DAMMIT like it is here (except for losing the contact in front of the fence; now I know what I need to be aware of!):

And then we moved on to the rolltop! This is the first time we'd jumped it, and I was starting to really fatigue at that point, so I didn't get her set up as well as I could. So she got awfully close, and she hung her knees -- I swear it looked better the next several times and on Sunday! Here's her being strong like ox (just LOOK at those strong quarters and hind legs!!), but hanging her knees:

Lots of fun, and we did a lot better on Sunday, even though there aren't any pictures. We jumped the rolltop like it was nothing, and we jumped a new-to-us and bigger-for-us log jump, too. :) Rev's a good little jumper!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Good stuff!

So -- some really cool developments in the past week or so. :)

Rev and I started jumping grids and bounces, for one. Lots and lots of fun! When I ride into the grid correctly, with my leg on and Rev moving forward and having made a decent turn, Rev just jumps rhythmically and enthusiastically. She's SO fun to ride over fences with some height!! I love her jump. It's balanced and feels just completely capable. I had some rough rides in the bounce at first, getting in front of her, quitting riding three steps before the fence, et cetera. However, there was one ride when I suddenly felt my hips bend correctly. I was with her motion, and it made up for a lot. Ah-HA!

On Wednesday evening, we had another lesson, this time over a one-stride grid. We moved from one cross-rail and one vertical at about 2'3 (more on this in a sec) on Saturday and Sunday to one cross-rail and three verticals at about 2'3 on Wednesday. Wheeeee! That was really, really fun. I think something clicked in my brain, muscle memory or something, about how to ride over jumps. Whatever the source, I'm glad of it, and I'm going to try not to jinx it. :) I even got several "Good job!"s from MT. And those aren't handed out with that kind of enthusiasm (and even a little surprise, haha) often, so I'm super-pleased. Again, trying to not-jinx it.

And the other cool thing is the jumping up to 2'3! Heh. We'd only been doing cross-rails and little logs out in the field up until last Saturday. :D It is SO much easier to jump over something a little bigger, for sure. And fun to get some air time, even just a teeny bit. And like I said, I love Rev's jump!! Can't wait for tomorrow ...

Tomorrow is the monthly cross-country clinic at the barn! I am excited to see what Gary asks us to do. Maybe jump a few bigger jumps? We'll see. Even if we don't jump any bigger, I won't be upset, because we need whatever practice we can get.

We especially need the practice outside, and especially given that I've been a little tentative when it comes to riding Rev through her spooky or squirrely moments lately. I've asked MT to hop on her almost every time I've gone to ride lately, and I feel pretty wimpy for doing that. I can't decide if I should be easier on myself (tell myself that it's okay, that I don't want to get hurt again or hurt my shoulder worse, that MT is okay with getting on Rev for me) or if I should be much tougher on myself (tell myself that I need to learn to deal with this crap and not rely on MT so much, learn to cope myself -- basically, "toughen up, cupcake"). I'm not at all sure. We'll see how Rev goes tomorrow morning.

I think we're going to give Golden Spike a miss this year, because of the EHV-1 outbreak having started there. MT and TW aren't confident in the venue yet, so we'll skip it. No problem there -- it's way too much of a risk to take for us if the disease is still going around. Too much for me, with only one horse that I can't afford to replace, and too much for MT/TW/TD, with a whole barn full of horses that they can't replace. We'll see if there's an event in Montana or something that Rev can go to with MT later in the year.

Oh. And. I am really beginning to understand how fit I need to be in order to complete a full event successfully. As a corollary, I'm realizing how fit I'm not. So I'm more committed to my workout schedule than I had been. It's working really well so far, but I need to keep at it. Lots. Gym tonight, for a workout on the elliptical and the weight machines. *nodnod*