Sunday, July 24, 2011

I keep my eyes fixed on the sun

In case you didn't get the memo, it's hot.

Normally, we still work through the heat, but this has been beyond excessive with triple digit temps and the humidity being off the charts. The pony has more 'fro than usual.

Sinari was in her stall sweating with a fan, however, Sincere was busy bouncing off the walls and playing with his Jolly Ball. The ADD two year old doesn't mind the heat so much. He's just happy to be active.

Normally, after a large show the pony gets about two days off and then a light week of hacking in the fields. But the weather interfered and we stuck to pony parlor, re-organizing the supplies, wrap-up efforts and hand grazing until Friday, where the weather broke temporarily and I was able to lunge just a little bit in the indoor. Saturday was much better, when we finally got under tack and went hacking over hills for a short while.

Despite weather, she's come back fresh, which makes me incredibly happy, she power walked out to the fields and did short canter and trot sets before the humidity became too much. I'm planning on doing a 50/50 week with her- start the week in the fields and then go back into the arena for starting up the fall season.

The time off with the pony also meant I got to play with the young man. He was more than happy for the attention. Pulled his mane, sorted his tail, trimmed the fetlocks and lunged him once or twice. Feet trimmed today. The big news for him is that he wore a saddle for the first time, and was completely awesome with it.

Begun making fall plans for both and this week we have visitors in town.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Through every open door

We've finally unpacked, cleaned the trailer out, threw the laundry together and Sinari has had a good couple of rolls. It looks like she came out of it alright. Her attitude is cheery, her legs are tight and cold and she's not sore. We should be back to under saddle by Thursday and in the arena next week.

Dressage at Lexington was nothing short of fantastic. Achieved everything that needed to be achieved, plus more. I'm still honestly floored about the entire thing.

I didn't expect to take this trip this year. In fact, I was prepared to just stick to Kentucky and a few Ohio shows. But, a few months ago JK challenged us to throw our big girl pants on and come to Dressage at Lexington in July, a first major East Coast showing for the pony. Feeling, game I entered us not really knowing what to expect.

What I didn't know was that this was a number of major qualifiers for the bigger championships. Several large barns show here, several large riders do as well, several of which are high performance riders from other disciplines. Even the AA base is ultra strong at this show.

We left last Wednesday around 8am before the heat and the Breyerfest crowds hit Lexington, and arrived safely around 3ish in the afternoon after white knuckling it through West Virginia. The Virginia Horse Center is a beautiful, sprawling facility with hills. The view is breathtaking.

We landed not in a quiet park, but in the middle of hunter pony princess hell. For the first time we were easily the biggest in the group and definitely the oddest. We were surrounded by jumps and kids at every turn.

After I got her settled, I went to check in and school around the arenas, what was left of the hunter pony crowd gathered to watch us go through the paces. Some hooting and hollering went down after we went through a few lines of changes and lateral work.

Thursday rolls around and the weather is nothing short of a perfect 80 degrees and partially cloudy. I get up feed, walk and lunge her out. JK and crew arrives, unpacks and we proceed to start to school horses. Sinari still feels great, no hitch, but a little behind the leg. We school transitions up and down, in and out to get the brain firing. I get to meet the other clients, who instantly make us feel at home. By the end of the day we're set and ready to roll.

Friday was another early start, a quick breakfast and trying to find the nearest coffee source, all of us were at the barn sorting horses and getting everyone ready for the early classes and preparing for the mad dash of the afternoon. I get up, warm up, and go and ride at the hill. Unlike Kentucky, there are huge amounts of space for warmup, I virtually have my own arena. Which is great because it settles her down and clicks her in. She puts in a solid round and consistent test to earn into mid 63 percent with great comments, and second place against confirmed horses.

Friday night I catch up with people and watch good horses previewed for the Saturday auction. Keenland this is not.

Saturday comes through with more perfect weather. Sinari warms up, this time with a small fan club forming on the rails. Small girls, and a few of the clients came out to cheer. I'm frankly not used to this, but the pony transitions into diva and channels her inner Aretha. She knocks out the test with consistent 65 percent, ending second to a really nice pair by 1 percentage point. Proving she belongs here and is capable I just have to ride the test clean, she does the rest. Due to the management using the same judge, we have to still compete Sunday to finish out the USDF Bronze. But the highlight is ending up Reserve Champion for the Sporting Horse Amateur Challenge (Individual).

Saturday night rolls around and it's found out that it's my birthday on Sunday, Justin drives five plus hours to spend the night with me. I feel seriously lucky and on top of the world. I've had the best meal I've had all week.

Sunday breaks, and the pony and I are running low on batteries. I get lost on my way back to eat breakfast with my parents. My cell phone doesn't stop going off with text, phone calls and messaging since 2am, so I'm on little sleep. We stick to the normal routine, but threw in an extra walk to keep loose. I drive around on the Bobcat to kill time and start packing up. My support crew is leaving after their last tests, my parents, who also spent the weekend left early that morning to travel home. Only Justin and JK's horses remain. For the first time, I feel the pressure of completing out the weekend well.

We warm up in the covered arena, and everything is going according to plan. She's firing all cylinders despite being tired. She's doing everything as cleanly and I'm not riding like an idiot. Then they clear the arena to drag it, and we get chucked outside. We're interrupted, then delayed then allowed to go in early. The pony wilts mildly, she sucks behind and fades in the mediums. Her normally great lateral work felt weak. I ride it as cleanly as I can, and we go and cool out. I'm proud of what she's done and we've finally got our stuff together to ride tests.

Ten minutes later I'm screaming up and down the barn and running to find, score texting came through. 61 percent. We've done it, we've achieved the bronze. Two seasons, countless hours later. I don't care we ended up fifth in the class. I don't care that we have a six hour journey back. We came to accomplish this, and we did it.

We're now back in Kentucky, plotting a bit of 2012, but looking to perhaps make it a double threat with Silver in the wings. Next on the schedule is a stop in Tennessee and then a show in September at KHP.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The bronze age.

Long trip home so sorry about the quick note.

Achieved USDF Bronze today with the pony, what makes it even more special is that it was my birthday. Thanks to everyone who came out, celebrated and has been more than supportive of Sinari's career.

Go Pony!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Up that great big hill

It's bleeding hot out here. July hit and I think the weather finally figured out what it's supposed to be. Which is unfortunate, because while I'm sure several girls enjoy sweat rolling in unmentionable places, the rest of us do enjoy less balmy conditions.

It would seem that a more brilliant person wouldn't move south to school either, but that's another logical question for another time.

Despite the crap weather, Sinari and I still managed to put in a full six day work schedule. On the nastiest of days we hit the fields for brief hill and gallop sets. We ran through 3-2 with good results, and with this past clinic we are as prepared for this upcoming show as we can get. We even finished out on a technical high note.

The highlight of the weekend among other things was the pony doing half steps, running through fours and threes, and working on canter pir's. We were nailed on extensions, preparing, executing and finishing them. Had a bit of difficulty on my end on keeping the neck loose. But, people have noticed a huge positive change in her topline, her energy and her training.

Because of a few circumstances, I had some extra time and for giggles, I got on a horse of the 17.2 hand variety.

I've been wanting to get on larger horses for sometime. I love working the ponies, but I feel to improve the candidate pool (and myself) and ride them out to the max, different horses are necessary. Larger horses just have a different feel entirely, you have to be twice as effective, and in many ways, more tactful.  

I got on a really nice mare. Probably the nicest I've sat on pedigree wise and ability wise. She was a huge reflection of those qualities and her training. What a fantastic feeling. By no means was she easy to package. A mile long neck and many buttons to push. Doesn't tolerate people hanging on her, or nagging her. But what a grand mare. The timing is what through me the most. With Sinari, there is a lot of wait and prep time between movements with this girl it was a quick half halt and always go. I had forgotten how much easier it is not having to manufacture extension and I've definitely have an idea of big changes now.

But it also creates impatience. I can't wait for Sincere, who has the best of both worlds to come under saddle. He's looking great, I wish I had the cajones to enter him in VA. They have a pretty competitive breed show, but I want him to really prep up and gain topline before I let him hit the road.

On the list was a few major plans formed along the way. But right now, the push and prep for VA has begun. Monday is a light day off with me shipping out the laundry, doing coffee and a few minor errands. Tuesday is chiro and pack.

We're arriving two days early to work out the kinks and get her loosened up after the long trailer ride. But lord, if it's anything like the ride home today, I'm going to have to double up on the electrolytes.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Everyday I'm shuffling

If there is a downside of a fit horse is that there are more buttons to push.

Sinari has been going nothing short of gangbusters within the work recently. Despite the heat and wacky work schedules, she's gained a lot of expression and carrying power. The trot is still hard for her, but her canter has become much nicer and her lateral work is very clean. She can easily do four's and threes. We began working the pirouettes in earnest to help create more sitting power and uphill balance. Going out in the fields really helped clear her mind and prep her for the upcoming journeys.

 June Goals:
-Majestic Show
Check. Got out there, in odd circumstances and managed to put in a decent show back after two years off.
-Finish Bronze
Negatron. Tough judge panel plus equipment issues plus just wasn't firing on all buttons.
-Finish out requirements to test for L program
Need one more score.
-Halts and transitions
Doing much better, but still a little inconsistent in the balance in the halts.
-Send in entry for Dressage at Lexington
Check, attending DAL this month.
-School through 4-1
Check, ran though all the elements. She feels comfortable, but needs more fire in the extensions, and a hair bit more expression in half pass.
-Put show trunk together
Check. I need to learn to unpack it.
-Continue conditioning
Check. Out in the field twice a week until the ground becomes rough. One word: hills. 

July Goals:
-Clinic in TN
-VA Show
-Finish Bronze
-Halts and transitions
-Condition, condition, condition
-Decide level for NDPC
-Finish Kur.
-Tempi's, big, bold tempi's.