Thursday, September 30, 2010

Let the GAMES begin! WEG IS HERE!

We are off to the World Equestrian Games today!  :)  Click here.....

Long drive ahead....wish us luck and I will update as much as I can!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

MHA Maine Event Horse Show

This past Saturday, September 25, 2010 was the last MHA (Maine Horse Association) affiliated horse show with a Standardbred division.  We had three shows this year to accumulate points towards Standardbred In-Hand and Standardbred 3-Gait Pleasure year end awards.

The day was gorgeous and sunny.  I spent the day showing with my good friend Shelly and we had a blast as usual.  We had so much fun and I am sad to see our 2010 show season come to a close.  :(  Here we are below...Shelly showed her Standardbred western for the first time and did well!   She's going to kill me for posting this, but I think it is cute!  :)

Overall it was a good day.  My grandfather came to watch for a while in the afternoon, which was neat.  We placed 4th out of four in Standardbred In-Hand.  LOL!  Judges either love Dreamy or not, so it was not surprising.  I expected a last place finish since this was the same judge from the 2009 Downeast Congress who did not place her in-hand there at all.  It's all good....we did well enough at the two other MHA shows this year to qualify for the reserve champion Standardbred In-Hand!  :)  One bad placing does not matter to me when we got the year end award!  :D

We got a wrong right lead canter in our Standardbred 3-gait class.  DUH...why the heck do I always do this in our first under saddle class of the day?   I get nervous and forget to RIDE my horse!  I slouch and my aids are wishy washy.  Asking for the canter on a straightaway is somehow harder for us than on a circle.  And I hate to say this, but her right lead can feel so unbalanced at times even when on the correct lead, that I did not correct it right away because I could not really tell.  Seriously!  Oh well.  We ended up 3rd out of three...the judge commented that NONE of the three of us had good rides.  At least it was only a lead, which was my fault.  She was perfectly behaved and that matters more to me than my silly errors!  LOL!  

Dusty ring!!!

Hunter Pleasure was a division I added at the last minute...with seven entries, I was not expecting much.  It was just two classes after our STB 3-Gait class, so I had her warmed up and ready to go.  I forced myself to really prepare for the right lead and GOT IT!  We placed SECOND out of 7 riders!  I was super impressed, especially because it was an open class.  This was definitely the highlight of my day.

Standardbred 3-Gait Pleasure Championship class went well too.  Again we had a clean ride, with no problems with our leads.  We ended up second, with Reserve in the STB 3-Gait division for the day.  I was happy with our showing...and having lost to a professional trainer on a gorgeous gray mare was OK with me!  :D  I am not a professional and will never claim to be!  LOL!  I do admit I disliked hearing afterward that the first place horse bucked and misbehaved when the judge was not looking and my horse was on perfect pony autopilot, but hey, that is showing for you!  It happens and instead of being a sore loser, I just laughed and figured it was just my luck.  :D  Reserve still made me very happy with my girl!  Here we are with our Reserve ribbon!

We did the Hunter Pleasure Championship but did not have a great round.  While she was well behaved and got her leads, her canter was a bit four beat.  She was poor little 19 year old mare!  LOL!  We had a fourth in the class.  Ah well!  :)

I was very pleased to have had a fun last MHA show for the year.  We ended up placing well in the year end awards.  They only give out Champion and Reserve ribbons at the banquet.....

Champion Standardbred 3-gait Pleasure (out of 2)
Reserve Standardbred In-Hand (out of 6)
4th Roadster Under Saddle (out of 6)
12th Hunter Pleasure (out of 15)
14th Easy Does it Hunter (out of 23)

And I am still waiting to see how we placed in the MHA dressage Training level are allowed to submit any four scores from USDF shows.  So that might be a chance too!  :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sunset Farm 2-Phase

Dreamy and I had a good showing at the Sunset Farm 2-phase combined test on Sept. 18, 2010.  I had never shown there before.  We rode two dressage tests in the morning (Training 1 and 2) and then did the Modified Beginner Novice 2-phase in the afternoon.  The dressage tests went OK.  I wish I had been able to get a better warm-up before the classes...the area was a very small 30 m. circle area and quite honestly was not adequate.  With more than one other horse in there, it was impossible to do much trotting or cantering without running someone over.  :(  We had a 59% something on our first test and a 60%s omething on the second one.  Not horrible, but not great.  They scored all the Training tests as one big class so we did not place in the top 6th.....but got a 7th and 8th respectively.

Of course, I was all worried about memorizing my Beginner Novice A eventing dressage test.  Why did I think it would be a good idea to do three different tests in three hours?  I have no idea!  LOL!!!! I knew the test, but it is soooooo different from a regular dressage test.  For example, the first center line has NO halt.  You enter, go to X, then M and turn left.  So what I did do?  Entered and halted at X!!  LOL!  Of course, idiot me says SH!T! really loudly as soon as I see the perplexed look on the judge's face.  So I circle around and try again.....LOL!  -2 for my error.  So, then we go around and do our first trot circle to the left at A.  We are supposed to then immediately do a canter circle at A.  So what do I do?  Ask for the canter and then GO TO B for my canter circle!!!  AHHHHH!!!!!!  LOL!  I was laughing at this point.  At least I did not freak out or anything!  :D  I guess going off course twice made me suddenly remember the test perfectly, for the rest of it went well.  I have NEVER gone off course in a dressage test and while for a minute I was pretty embarrassed, what the hell.  No one is perfect and I rather go off course at a rinky dink show like this one then at NEDA Spring or something!  We ended up with a 39.5 despite the -6 error points!  (That would have been a 66.5% in a dressage test, without the errors which were MINE, so I am happy!)  Dreamy was better as we had more time to warm up with less horses in the warm up.

Afterwards, we got to jump!!!  :D  It was a decent course with good footing and good lines.  The jumps were supposed to be 2' or less but seemed to be higher.  They set the cups at 2' but with the rails it was 2'3".  I always thought you were supposed to measure the top of the RAIL not the bottom of the jump cup, but hey, whatever.  We were the only ones to go clean and do the course properly, so we ended up in second place out of four riders!  :)  Yay Dreamy mare!

No pics...I went alone and have not had a moment to snap a pic of her ribbon!  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Green Acres Horse Trials - Sept. 12

Dreamy and I were so busy this year with other things, it was not until this past weekend I was able to attend a horse trial!  I miss eventing!!!  We competed at Green Acres in Madbury, NH.  It is a decent venue...while it was a little chilly last Sunday, it was still a good day.  And usually the organization is better than it was this past Sunday....I suspect they were short on volunteers. 

Here is Dreamy just chilling at the trailer...taken on my iPhone so not the best quality.  :)

There were 12 riders in our (senior rider) division of Modified Beginner Novice (at GA they call it Elementary).  Basically it is Beginner Novice with lower fences.  Instead of jumping 2'11", we just jump 2'3" which is where Dreamy is more comfortable.  As she is now 19 years old, I am not jumping her higher than that.  :)

Our dressage test was decent.  We did the USEA Beginner Novice A test, which is roughly comparable to a USDF Training 2 level test.  There is never enough space to warm up for dressage at Green Acres, unfortunately.  The warm up is tiny and there are always too many horses in the ring.  So there is a lot of halting and walking to avoid accidents.  SIGH

But still I was happy with our score, despite a test that I thought was not our best.  I was late with a trot transition and screwed up our last halt, so everything was rider error.  But still we scored a 37.5, which is not a percentage like regular dressage, as eventing is calculated in penalty points.  So it was the same as scoring a 62.5%, so I was pleased.  Lots of 7s and 8s to offset the two 5s on our right canter.  :(  At least our trot work is good, right??  And my rider bobbles were not scored as low as I had thought during the ride....LOL!

Our dressage score put us in 4th place going into cross country.  The course was decent enough, with lots of "skinny" jumps and lots of hills and rough terrain.  I wanted to ride it cautiously but still have fun.  There were a few areas where you could canter along and we did!  It was super fun.  Dreamy gave a few fences a look but motored right along.  She seemed happy to be doing cross country, since it has been since October 2009 that we did a XC course.  Her ears were forward and she was light in the bridle (in an eggbutt French link snaffle.....good mare!)

We went clear on cross country, which I was not surprised with.  Dreamy is very good on XC.  We moved up to third!  :)

Here she is ready to go XC!

PONY POWER saddle pad!  LOL!

The stadium course had some nice easy lines, two related distances, and a couple of tighter turns.  I liked the course.  One fence was causing a ton of was just a regular vertical but it had a weird red wooden filler thing under the two upper poles.  Dreamy went around the first four fences fine.....and as we came up to this fence she did give it a good look.  I kept my leg on, gave her an extra squeeze, and had my bat ready in case.  But she went right over, almost chipping in.

The professional photographer only took stadium pics (????) so I have two here:

We ended up with third place overall.  So I am pleased that at our first event in almost a year, we placed so well out!  :)  Yay Dreamy!  :D

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Marshaling at Cornish Trotting Park - Sept. 11

Dreamy and I have marshaled the annual amateur races at the Cornish Trotting Park every year since 2006.  This year I was not planning to attend...until one of the organizers saw me in the hardware store (gotta love living in a small town! LOL) and asked me if I would do it.  Of course, I said SURE!  :)  My partner in crime, Shelly, and her gelding McKeever also came along.

It was a gorgeous day and there were only eight races this year.  A long lost friend from elementary school whom I have reconnected with on FaceBook took these excellent pics!  Thanks Katie!  :)

Bringing a race down for post parade.  Dreamy is on the right.  

Visiting with our "fans"....LOL!  Dreamy liked the kiddos the best. 

Pretty mare! 

I am not liking my new white breeches...the full seat is too "sticky" and I couldn't seem to post right!  :-P  LOL!  But Dreamy looks nice!

More time with our "fans"!  LOL!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Let's Try Something New!

There seems to be a new craze around here called "Versatility Trail Challenges".  There have been several close by me this year, but between trying to compete in USDF shows all over New England as well as the Maine Horse Association affiliated shows, I have not been able to try one.

So I was excited to go to a local farm (just 15 minutes from me) called Piper Ridge on Saturday, August 28.  It was a gorgeous day and the last weekend of summer vacation, so I thought it would be a great day to try something new!

I had no real idea what to expect.  I knew it would be something like a big glorified trail class.  But Dreamy and I have never actually PRACTICED most of the different things.  I had done the trail class at Nationals this year and won a fifth place ribbon....LOL!  So that was the extent of our experience.  ha ha ha

There were 18 people in my division and they only placed out to 6th place, so I had no expectations for a ribbon at all.  I just wanted to see what Dreamy might do, and if this "versatility" thing was really as fun as everyone says it is.

Well, I had a blast!  I am definitely going to try to do more of these events next year.  I guess you can even compete for year end awards!  Whooo!  Right up my competitive alley!  LOL!

There are many pictures of us on the professional photographer's site.

We are # 39-40, then #168-184, and then #646-655.

Pics 39 and 40 show us waiting our turn.  :)  We were one of the only ones in English tack.....and of course I did the DRESSAGE tack!  LOL!!!  I was watching the course intently, because I have such a hard time remembering courses and such.  And you had to do each obstacle just so in order to score full points.

Then 168-184 show us on course.  We had to do other things (through a hula hoop and go through a puddle) in an adjacent round pen, but there are no pics of that.  Instead we were photographed by two different people in the big arena.  We did things like opening the gate, stepping through a bunch of plastic bottles, going over a bridge, sidepassing over a pole to tie a bailing twine, pulling a log (pic 169 - you can just barely  see the rope behind us) and the log is out of the frame),  going over a tiny crossrail, backing between two barrels.......and of course, Dreamy was perfect!  :D  She did have one problem.......THE SCARY NOODLES!  LOL!  You can see her showing her disdain by her tiny baby rears.  Oh, Dreamy mare.  :-P  I have NEVER done a noodle curtain with her, so I had no idea what to expect.  She thought I was asking her to go through a wall.  Ha ha ha.  We had to go around it and got a zero for that movement.  Bummer!

But she was fine with walking through the plastic bottles (pic 647 shows me totally expecting a HUGE leap over the entire thing, hence the forward three point), she did not hesitate on that big bridge (I totally thought she would but she climbed right on and off!), and she went through the puddles with no problem (even though on the real trails she dislikes water and has to be slightly convinced).  She was even perfect when I dragged the log behind was heavier than I thought it would be!  I WISH the photographer had gotten us in DRESSAGE tack dragging a LOG!  HOW FUNNY!  LOL!  :)

I love pics 181-183.  I was having so much fun!!!!!  :D

Pic 650 shows my intense concentration during the first sidepass.

Pic 655 shows us trotting for the finish line!  

We ended up with a score of 58, just behind the 6th place winner who scored a 61.  I was impressed...on many of the obstacles we scored the full 5 points.  Some we had 4s and that scary noddle curtain netted us a big zero.  :)  We got some nice comments: lovely horse, pair works well together, good confidence, good concentration (that was the sidepass), and steady horsemanship.  :)  Yay Dreamy for being a versatile dressage horse!  LOL!!!!!

So I was not that far out of the ribbons, and out of 18 people, that made me pretty happy.  It told me that without any practice we are not that far out of the competition.  With some practice over the winter, we could actually be competitive next year!  LOL!

And it was just plain old fun.  I met some nice folks, reconnected with some horse friends I have not seen in a while, and enjoyed a gorgeous summer day at a beautiful horse farm.  What more could a girl ask for???  :D :D :D

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pony Prison

Miss Reva has been a naughty pony.  She went through a bad phase for a few weeks of breaking through the fence every day or two.  She would often just join Sparky in her adjoining paddock/pasture, so it was OK.  She knew that the shock was minor and it only hurt for a second, if at all.  With the dry weather, my charger was not working up to par.  That is fine with my two older mares, who went for years without needing the fence turned on.  

But one day Reva decided to break FREE and take a stroll around my yard.  It all ended up being alright because I was home and discovered her quickly.  But with only a few days until school began and I returned to the classroom to teach, I realized I had to do something to keep her safe and do it quickly. 

I considered a round pen, but soon realized it was rather costly.  Plus I really did not want her in a round pen.  X-P And while a nice wooden or vinyl fence would be nice, it is not going to happen here.  Maybe someday when we build our dream farm on our piece of land in the neighboring town, but not at the farm here.

In talking with Al, the nice guy who knows everything and happens to own my local feed store (LOL), he suggested I try a taller fence and actual wire fencing.  (Well, truthfully he told me to shoot her, to which I laughingly told him was going to happen if she did not stay in her fence....JUST KIDDING! It was a joke...hope no one is offended!  LOL!).  I use the Baygard wrapped wire which I think was just not delivering enough charge.   Plus, my fences are sort of short, and with Reva almost 16.3 hands, she was too tempted to lean over it and whoops, then she was loose.  So he recommended actual wire....which made me nervous.  I wanted her to respect the fence but not get hurt if (when?) she went through it.  He assured me it was aluminum, not steel, and would break easily if need be.

So, with six foot posts and a 1/4 mile of aluminum fencing, I made the decision to buy a new charger too.  I told Al I wanted the best shocker he had.  The one I bought he told me would restart my heart.  Perfect.  LOL!

I spent the better part of three hours replacing all the fencing in her paddock.  The fence was soon up, with three strands instead of the previous two.  It was over my 5 foot tall head, which was excellent.  The tested out the charger and it SNAPPED like crazy.  YES!  I turned Reva out and plugged that bad boy in. 

It was classic.  Reva was very interested in the new fence, of course, being the nosy little mare that she is.  She walked right up and put her dainty little nose right on the wire!

SNAP!  Within a half second, she was sitting on her bum and then JUMPED and TWISTED around.  She stopped, snorted, and looked at the fence with very wide eyes.  OUCH!   She rubbed her nose on the ground and looked at me as if to say, "WHAT was THAT?"

I am happy to say it has been two weeks that Reva has stayed contentedly in her Pony Prison.  I hate the look of the wire, but it is stretched tight and is safe.  Most important, it keeps her IN her paddock, so I can go to work and not worry about her.  

Oh, Reva, my foolish baby.  :D

Friday, September 10, 2010

Riding Lesson....

Oh Blogger, how I've missed you!  LOL!  With the start of school, life has been hectic, but not in a bad way.  I miss summer, but I like to teach, so life is good.  :)

I took a riding lesson on August 27, right before I had to return to school that Monday.  I knew it would be my last one for a while, since I can no longer take a lesson during the week with school in session and my weekends are pretty full for the next few weeks.

We did some really great lateral exercises.  Dreamy was SOOO good....relaxed and accepting the bit without any fussing.  I was super happy with how she went.  I just wish I did not have to wait a few weeks until my next lesson....after having lessons almost every week this summer, this working business is getting in the way!  LOL!

First we did a shoulder in exercise.  We did it in both directions, but I will explain it on the left rein.  We trotted down the long side in shoulder-in to the left.  We turned left (say at "C") down the center line.  I changed the bend to shoulder-in to the right.  Then at "X" we circled to the right on a 10 m. circle.  I straightened her and asked for shoulder-in to the left, then turned to the left (say at "A") and then did the exercise again.  Judy was pleased, as she said it was a hard exercise, but we did it with ease.  :)  It really seemed to help engage her and keep her connected.

Next we did haunches-in (travers).  Whoa boy, this was hard because it is pretty much the same aids as shoulder-in, and neither Dreamy nor I have ever done it.  It does not count that I did all these movements back in 1999 one summer on well trained Lusitano stallions in weekly lessons!  LOL!  I had my instructor with a longe whip in the center of the ring, yelling in Portuguese and the horse knew what to do without much prompting from me!  :-D

Dreamy kept thinking I wanted her to canter, as she went through her Rolodex trying to decide what I was asking.  And I know I was being muddled in my aids as I tried to decide what I was asking for.

The exercise was to trot in shoulder-in down the long side, let's say on the left rein again.  We were in shoulder-in left.  Once I reached the mid point (say either "E" or "B") I circled 10 m. to the left.  As we came out of the circle, I asked for the haunches-in to the left.  It was tough to maintain the correct bend while moving her haunches towards "X".  But despite the fact that we struggled with haunches-in, in our efforts I got her into my outside rein, which was really the point of the exercise anyway!  LOL!  But I do think we can master the haunches-in, as we ended up with a few steps at the end of the exercise.  And I have gotten a few decent steps here at won't be long before we can maintain haunches-in all the way down the long side!  :)

Just for fun, Judy had us trying some baby steps of renvers, which is haunches out.  We went along in shoulder-in and I changed the bend.  Pretty hard to time my aids correctly, so it felt like I was ping-ponging between shoulder-in and haunches-in (sorta....) LOL!  But we will get there!  It was fun to try new exercises and realize that Dreamy CAN do it, as long as I figure out what I am asking!

We got some decent canter work too, which was nice.  It is so rewarding to see such progress in Dreamy.  And I know my equitation has come a long way.

First Level is not feeling so scary.....!!!!  :D

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Just because...

The other day I had to walk out into Dreamy's pasture for something.  She was eating hay on the far side of her paddock (which opens up into said pasture).  She spotted me and marched right over in order to follow me all the way out in the pasture.  

I gave her a scratch on her neck, she watched what I was doing, and then she followed me back into her paddock.   It was just so cute.

I know that is not a big deal, but for Dreamy it is.  Not only did she leave her hay pile to be with me, but it was so cute how she just wanted to see what I was up to.  It was like she wanted to be with me just because.  

When I first got her back in 2003, she was very aloof and kind of indifferent to people...not in a rude way, just in a very uninterested way.  When I started riding her in 2006, she started to become more friendly, but it really has not been until the last year or so that she is really showing an attachment to me.

It is moments like that where I completely fall in love with horses all over again.  Dorky, I know, but when they show me they care more about me than just the fact that I feed them, I confess it makes me that horse crazy six year old little girl all over again.  :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

National Standardbred Show 2010 - PICS!

Well, here are a few pics from the National Show.  I am waiting on a CD of pics from a friend of mine, and I have yet to make a purchase from the show photographers.  I have been super busy with the start of school (ahhh, the dreary working life is back!  LOL)!

But, anyway, here are a few until I get all of them.....ENJOY!

Here we are in one of the many under saddle classes...this was either Hunter or Pleasure.

Hunter over Crossrails...

Our western debut!  :D

Our stall......with some of our ribbons!

Back home modeling our ribbons!  :)  Dreamy was so not impressed!  I had to take over 50 photos to get a few where she did not have her grumpy bored face.

Here are just our dressage ribbons!

And the rest!

National Reserve Champion Training level dressage - I love neck sashes!  Dreamy has won two in her far!  ;-)