Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The short version

The short version:

We competed in an event derby on Sunday, at the cross-rails level (confidence, ysee).
We scored 28.75 in dressage, double clear over fences, and won.  
Apollo is best pony.  :)

The long version:

Coming soon!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Horsey weekend

A very horsey weekend indeed.   Saturday morning I got up early to be at the big dressage show and ready to scribe at 8 AM sharp.  I scribed for two judges that I'd never worked for before, though their names were familiar from previous shows here.  The show served as a reminder that there are many different kinds of judges out there, and their attitudes toward riders, precision, scribes, time, comments, and the entire sport of dressage can vary pretty widely.

I was also reminded that just because one competes at a particular level that doesn't mean that one is ready to do so.  I saw some really nice rides at each level I scribed, but the majority of the rides were ... painful to watch.  I was surprised as ... well, as something that's really surprised.  0.o    Three things in particular stuck out to me, especially at lower levels:

* Riders not letting their horses stretch forward and down in the free walk.  I mean, that's the point of the movement.  And it wasn't that the rider offered rein, applied seat and leg rhythm, and then got zero response from the horse, either.  There was almost no effort toward it.  Very, very odd.

* Lack of energy.  Maybe I'm extra sensitive to this after working to establish and maintain forward with Apollo, but I wanted to say SMACK THAT HORSE! MAKE HIM GO ON! more than a few times.   Watching some of the walk work at lower levels was like watching paint dry.  (more so than usual.)

* Lack of accuracy.  I mean ... that's a really easy way to pick up points.  And to lose them!  I'm determined to work on this with Apollo this week.  :)

All that said, we saw some really excellent rides, too.  Most notable among them were TD's and our resident European's!   I didn't scribe for their young horses' tests, but I did get to see most of them from where our booth was.  I did scribe for TD's first Third Level ride, and she kicked serious butt.  They both did, actually! They took first and second in every class they entered -- first ORE in first, TD in second, then TD in first and ORE in second, then swapping back and forth like that through the day.   :D   Who says eventers can't do dressage??

And in Apollo News, we had two jumping lessons this weekend, and he jumped cross-country with ORE on Friday, too.  *huge grin*   What a good time we had!   We worked on coming through trot poles to a vertical both days, looking to work on the horse's bascule and power and rider's position and balance.   Apollo was SUCH a good boy.  He was patient with me and calm, and he doesn't hold it against me when I make a mistake.  And I did make mistakes -- losing balance here, losing balance there, too far forward, leg not on enough, heels not far enough down, not emphasizing rhythm strongly enough, sitting too late, sitting too soon ... the list goes on, of course.   Even with that list, we had some really good runs.  :D   I'm working to find the right balance of patience/relaxation and involved riding with Apollo.

But honestly?  I adore this horse even more today than I did yesterday or the day before.  He's so fun to jump -- he's trustworthy.  I don't wonder if he's going to go, if he's going to suck back, if he's going to refuse, if he's going to buck me off ... whatever.   He might be somewhat green, but he's honest.  And gracious, and generous.  This is a horse I can really learn to ride on, learn to jump bravely on.  I definitely need to learn some Greek hymns to Apollo, I tell you.   He deserves them.

(heh -- when MT told me before our last jump run that our couple of problematic runs before that were caused by me not being there for Apollo, kind of abandoning him to the exercise and just feeling stuff instead of actively riding, I felt so guilty!  *laugh*   I apologized to Apollo as we started again and told him that I won't let him down, that we're in this together ... and our next run was super.  This must be what teamwork and partnership feels like!)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Other things I do when not blogging

So I do a lot of scribing during the showing months.  So far this year I've scribed for one show already (and technically, one endurance ride vet), there's another coming up this weekend, then another on June 22, then probably several more as the summer goes on.  Certainly one in August, maybe some in September ... all depends.

I really like scribing -- I think I've mentioned this before.  I've scribed all the way up through Grand Prix levels, and I leave every show having learned something new.  It's fun to meet the judges, and I enjoy hearing their critiques.  It seems like every judge has their own comment that they could put on a rubber stamp, since so many riders earn the comment.  One I remember was "More engagement and contact required for this level," one from this last one was "Steps could be more elastic," and another was "Not enough stretch shown."   So of course I'm thinking about and practicing free walk on long rein.  ;)

I'm hoping that my Big Scribing Plan For 2014 comes through.  It's a long shot, and I won't go into detail here, just in case that would jinx it.  But I'm hoping to do something really effin' cool.   I'd be really great at it.

Anyway, I need to remember to pick up little pen grip dealybobbers - yknow, these little guys.   I had a whole bunch, but my Scribing Kit(tm) has gone walkabout.   I might have left it at the endurance ride, or it might be hiding in my barn bag somewhere.  Not sure.  I do have red and blue pens and a watch, though, so I just need the dealybobbers and a pencil case to rebuild the kit.

Let's see ... what else.  Apollo's pro ride today will be over fences -- I can't wait to hear how he does.  :)  I'm expecting to hear the same thing I usually do: "He was a good boy."   Still!  Can't wait.  *grin*

He also was perfect for the farrier yesterday.  After his last performance -- he lost his ever-loving mind and made poor Dan's life really difficult -- I was prepared to bust out the twitch if I needed to, and I started him out with a chain over his nose.  It wasn't attached to anything, but it was there and ready to go if I needed to correct him.   However, Apollo was a perfect gentleman this time.  Whew!  It's so embarrassing when my horse is difficult for the farrier.  :/  But no.  Apollo stood there politely and even fell asleep several times.

Anyway -- stay tuned.  Sometime next week I'll have a review of what I hope will be the last and best pair of half-chaps I ever buy!   Will the ongoing saga of ARGH TOO TALL AGAIN finally come to an end?  Will I finally have neat-looking half-chaps?  Next week, on Nanakorobi Yaoki!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Some of what I've been up to

So while I was off not-blogging, I did some fun stuff!

The last weekend in April, I think it was, I made my first foray into the strange world of endurance riding.  My riding buddy does endurance with Rhett, the adorable Arab, and I was interested in seeing how it went, what sort of things went on, et cetera.  So she and I packed a cooler, some chairs, sunblock, and hats and headed south to where the ride was being held.  The idea was that we'd do some volunteering while we were there.

The site was classic Southern Idaho sage desert: dry, dusty, no trees, just sagebrush and cheatgrass, black rocks scattered around, low rolling hills, and hot.   I really liked it.  :)  The base area for the ride was right by the landowner's house and barn.  The base consisted of a card table, the back of the vet's pickup, two large tubs of water, and an orange pylon on the far side of the barn to mark the trot-out distance.   The organization consisted of yellow legal pads, a couple of binders, a clock, and maybe a computer.  

The vet was, of course, in attendance to do the periodic vet checks required for the horses.   I was really surprised to discover that there isn't a medic on site.  I mean, we always have medics available for eventing, and even dressage shows have a medic!  I would think that endurance rides would pose equal -- if not greater -- numbers of opportunities for human injury: heat stroke, nasty falls, cuts, snake bites, allergic reactions to insect bites/stings, etc.  Apparently, though, endurance riders don't worry about the human half of the team.  *giggle*  The vet said, "Well, I've only seen people get LifeFlighted out twice recently ..."   0.o

I scribed for the vet -- who we use a lot at our barn, too -- and learned a lot about what kinds of horses do endurance, what kind of people ride, what is acceptable and what pushes the boundaries, etc.  The vet is a great guy, too, so that was fun.  Watching the riders come in and take care of their horses was pretty interesting too: I was surprised again at what eventers (and race people)  know that endurance riders don't, and vice versa.

For example, in eventing, especially in long-format events, when a horse comes into the 10-minute hold box, the crew swarms in with sponges and cold water and scrapers.   You want to get cold water onto the hot horse, then quickly scrape it away, because as the heat transfers from the horse to the water, the water turns into an insulator.  So to cool a horse off, don't leave them soaking wet.  The vet had to explain this to one rider whose horse wasn't returning to normal quickly, and I was surprised.  I would think that endurance riders knew every trick for cooling horses down and helping their heart rates return to normal.

On the other hand, the endurance folks have some really clever ways of strapping gear to their saddles and of being really efficient when it comes to conserving horses' energy over terrain.  Also, the skills needed for actually finding the right trail are pretty cool.  And the people are awfully nice!  At least, they were to me.  ;)

I had a good time, and I learned a lot!   I actually think it might be fun to do a short ride, like 25 miles, with Apollo sometime.  *grin*  I'm not planning to switch sports, but hey -- horses are versatile.  Why not do fun stuff with them?   Denny Emerson would say "do it!"

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Yes, yes, this thing is still on.  :)   I have just been -- all together now -- really busy lately.   Plus, for some reason I don't feel like I have a lot of interesting things to say.

Still, here goes.  I really, really miss my horse today!  It's been a week since I was able to get out to the barn, due to having company for the weekend and needing to make it look like I don't actually live in a hovel before said company arrived, plus some health issues.  (Again, as usual.)   So I am super-excited to get out to the barn today!   My poor abandoned pony!   I can't wait to get up into the saddle, pet my pony, brush him, feed him carrots ... all that good stuff.

I'm also excited to give my new helmet a try.  I decided that I needed a nice, light helmet for the summer.  I adore my Charles Owen skully, don't get me wrong!  However, it's definitely heavy and not really well vented, and "low-profile" doesn't describe it well.   I don't really mind looking like a blockhead, since sometimes I can ACT like one, but ... the last lesson I had, I sweated through my ponytail.  All of it, down to the tip, was wet.   Ick.   Yeah, sweat is good, means you're working, but ... ick.

So I picked up a nice little schooling helmet, the Ovation Deluxe Schooler.  I think it'll be just the thing!  I'll wear my skully and cover for cross-country, of course -- all those cross-rails are dangerous, right?  ;)

Cross-country, yes.  Despite not having done much jumping this year, I went ahead and entered the May derby at cross-rails.   I think I ought to schedule some jumping lessons between now and then ... heh.  Honestly, I'm not in the least concerned.  We can totally handle cross-rails.   And Intro B.  Totally, completely, 100% handle that.   The only question is how Apollo will be out in the field, but I'm not even very concerned about that, either.  We'll have a couple clinic days in advance of the derby, and I'll drag him out there when I can between now and then too.   He's competed out there already, even.  So yeah.   We'll have a fine time.  :)

Lessee ... oh!  Reveille is still happy as a clam with her new kid!   Hee.  She's officially a rodeo-queening horse now; her kid is Mini Queen for a rodeo here.   The pictures are so awesome.  I won't share here, just because they're not my pictures and because they feature a kid, but trust me: she's adorable.  Utterly adorable.  Reveille is sleek and shiny, and she transitioned into a shank curb bit and Western saddle in a right hurry.  I'm so pleased!!  

Anyway, again as usual, I'll try to keep up with things.  I do want to mention how well Apollo is going and how amazing he is to ride these days, since he's been getting pro rides, but ... I have to have material for another day, yeah?  :)