Monday, June 11, 2012

Green Acres Event - May 26, 2012

Any of you who have followed my blog for a while know that Dreamy and I have had much success at Elementary (or Modified Beginner Novice) level eventing.  It is basically the Beginner Novice Test A and 2' - 2'3" jumps.  We have won our fair share of events, but I recognized that for this year, we either needed to move up or stop competing.  (I would hate to be "that girl" who stays at the same level and just keeps winning.  That just doesn't seem right.)  Now that Dreamy is 21 years old, the thought of moving up to 2'7" jumps seemed iffy.  I figured if she was sound and happy over fences up to 2'9" at home, then I could feel confident entering her in Beginner Novice events.

So far, Dreamy has been her same old happy and sound self this year.  She is in good shape and is moving well for a horse her age.  She is on joint supplements, of course, and I am careful to only jump her a few times a month.  

Our first move up event was on May 26 at Green Acres Stable in New Hampshire.  It was a very hot day, one of the few really warm days here in New England.  I was thankful to have my dressage ride out of the way early in the day.  We did Beginner Novice Test B, which I really like, and scored a 41.9.  We had mostly 6s and 7s with a few 5s on the canter work.  The judge wrote nice comments: "Great ride!  Horse has great push from behind, just a little more connection to help topline keep that canter (smiley face)."  I liked that she asked what Dreamy's breed is at the end of the test.  When I said Standardbred, she said, "Wow!  She looks great and her canter is really not that bad then!"  LOL!  We ended up tied for fourth in our division of 8.

By the time my dressage was over, my friend Tania arrived with her horse Otis.  They competed in the Pre Elementary 2-Phase division and did quite well!  It was super hot and I was a little worried about my XC course.  I am a sissy when it comes to jumping apparently.  LOL!  Walking the XC that morning, I realized I could not step over the jumps any longer!  LOL!!!!  It always made me feel "good" when I could walk the course and step over the fences.  Most of the fences actually looked fine, but the very last jump, #15, was a huge hay table.  I know the hay on the top really made it looks taller than it was, but I was still worried.  I figured it was the last jump, so by that point we would have made it around every thing else.  Many of the Beginner Novice jumps were also for Novice.  There were big coops, logs, a table and none of them looked that bad.  There was even a baby up-bank; Dreamy had never done a bank, but I have with other horses, so that fence did not make me nervous at all!  I tried to talk myself out of being worried about the last fence.  Can you catch the foreshadowing????

Dreamy warmed up fine and we had no problems on our XC course.  She hopped over the logs, benches, tables, coops, and even popped up onto the bank with no problem (Though I do think she was a bit surprised by it!  LOL!)  She was super brave and we had fun.  The last four fences were up a hill, so we cantered along merrily over fences 12, 13, 14......yay we are almost done!!...and then of course, we loom up to that big hay table and my stomach drops.  I started thinking, "Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap, that's big......." to "Stop it, this is the last fence, come on, be brave" all in about one second of time.  This is just enough time for Dreamy to wonder why I am waffling and we had a run out to the right.  It smartened me up, and we circled back and jumped it easily, once I got my head into the game.  I knew I had blown that 4th place tie with the 20 point penalty for a XC refusal.  Never in Dreamy's career have we had a XC refusal and it bummed me out that I had let her down.  I knew it wasn't her fault, of course, and she got much praise, cookies, and a long cool down.  But man, I will never stop riding and doubt myself on XC again.  It was a huge slap in the face, but I think I needed it.

We went on to stadium about an hour later.  Dreamy was tired and it was hot.  At least she was drinking well (she has a tendency to not drink at shows, even when I bring her water from home) and I had given her a tube of electrolytes, just in case.  The stadium course was pretty straightforward but there were a bunch of skinnies....something I admit I rarely practice anywhere but in competition (stupid me) because I don't have short poles at home.

Well, I need to get some short poles and practice jumping a skinny.  Specifically fences 2A and 2B were a one stride combination from a regular vertical to a skinny.  I stopped steering, apparently, and Dreamy decided to run out again to the right.  2B was such a narrow fence there was no room to correct her, so I had to circle.  That was only a 4 point penalty, and every single rider in my division had a 4 point penalty in stadium.  But I had that XC run out, so I moved down to 7th place.  Without the XC refusal, we would have stayed tied for fourth (and might have moved to third if our collectives were higher - and they could have been since they were all 7s). I was still pleased we finished, as that was really my only goal for the day, but it sucked to know the mistakes we made were mistakes I KNOW better than to make.  Oh well.  Dreamy is an honest horse, but she is not the type of horse to bail me out.  She makes me ride every stride, every fence, and I let her down twice.  I was pretty bummed that day, but I also take this as a huge learning experience.  I cannot wait for our next event!  It is not until August, so we have plenty of time to practice skinnies, especially in a combination, and to go cross country schooling with Tania and Otis...I hope Tania will try another event sometime this year!

Here are the professional pics!  There are five photos of us in stadium.  (For some reason, the photographer only did shots in stadium...ah well!)  :-)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dunegrass Living Classic Horse Show - May 13, 2012

Reva and I competed at the Dunegrass Living Classic show on May 13 and had a great time!  We started our show career a year ago at this show (though it used to be called the Ocean Communities Classic before it had a sponsor change).  This show is run by the American Saddlebred Association of Maine (ASAM), but it is Maine Horse Association (MHA) pointed.  It is a fun show in that it is double judged, so not only do you get double points but also double ribbons!  So while we only entered six classes, we came home with TWELVE ribbons!  That makes a ribbon whore like myself quite happy!  LOL!  ;-D

Overall, it was a wonderful day!  Though I ended up bathing Reva that morning before we left for the show, and accidentally I used her Eqyss Microtek Medicated Shampoo (she has intermittent skin issues) instead of the Vetrolin shampoo I normally use for showing.  Whoops!  She did not come out as "clean" as I had hoped, so I spent some time before our in-hand class stressing, brushing, and polishing her up!  LOL!  I did a lot of in-hand classes with Reva last year, as a way to get her into the show ring as much as possible in her first year of showing.  But in reality, I am not a fan of showing in-hand.  So this year we are only doing Standardbred In-Hand, as it counts towards the MHA Overall Standardbred Perpetual Award trophy thing.  Ha ha ha!  

First five photos by Kevin Flaherty
Thankfully, it seems my shampoo mix-up did not matter and we placed 1st and 2nd in this class!  Yay Reva!

Our first riding class (Standardbred 2-Gait Pleasure) was crazy!  Reva was a complete pill in the warm-up, twisting her body around, forgetting how to steer, and generally acting ridiculous.  I have NO idea where that came from.  I literally just did my best to not die in the class, but somehow we placed 2nd and 5th.  SECOND?  Seriously?  I have no idea how we did that.  I was expecting to place in last (sixth) place as there were six in our division and Reva was NOT a pleasure to ride.  But that just goes to show how two different judges can see two different things.  I don't think we deserved anything but last place, but oh well!  Judges decision is final!  :-)

Next up was Standardbred Roadster Under Saddle.  I had no intentions of doing this class until a friend of mine bought a Standardbred last year, got the class added, got ASAM to do a year end award, and then begged me to do the class with her.  LOL!  I have done Roadster U/S with Dreamy before, just for fun, but I did not want to encourage Reva to go any faster than she already wants to go.  So much of our dressage training has been about lateral suppleness and slowing her tempo.  But I felt bad and wanted to fill the class.  (I am a sucker for helping out ASAM and MHA, even when these shows are not exactly what I "train" my horses for...LOL!)  Anyway, I have never EVER trained Reva for roadster and never allowed her to trot faster than a working (dressage) trot.  But I am brave (or dumb....or both) and figured I might as well join my friend to give her someone to beat (LOL) and I could always ask to be excused if Reva was an idiot.

Pretending to be a roadster horse!
Well, Reva was great!  I should not doubt my Grown Up Filly!  She was able to jog trot (really just a nice working trot) and road trot (You are really letting me TROT FAST, Mom????  Wheeee!!!).  Granted, she had a hard time maintaining her trot at speed, as she just ended up breaking into the canter about halfway around.  That is what I get for teaching her how to canter!  LOL!!!  ;-)  As soon as she broke, I knew I was out.  (Well, let's be honest, I knew LONG before that I would not win. ;-)  But what the heck?  It is a fun class and I am happy to support the clubs, my friend, blah blah.  ;-D

We had to quickly change for the Standardbred 2-Gait Equitation, since it was only four classes after the Roadster class.  I did Roadster in my hunt seat tack so I would only have to change my own clothing.  I figured we would be fine in Eq, because your horse can be a complete cow and you can still win (happened to me many times! LOL!), but the true test was to see how Reva behaved.  I was a bit concerned she might now think that going in the show ring was all about going FAST like a roadster horse!  But I was happily surprised that she was fine; actually she was VERY VERY GOOD and I was able to have a very nice ride.  We were awarded double blues!  Yay Reva!

Relaxing between classes 
Left to right: Katie and her mare Major, Reva and me, and Shelly and McKeever - ALL STANDARDBREDS!
Reva decided to rediscover her normal good girl attitude (not sure WHY we had the baby tantrum in the morning...but she is only six year old!) and we ended up winning double blues in our Standardbred Pleasure Championship class too!  Reva was the overall Standardbred champion, which was fun!  We ended the day with Open Roadster and again had a break, but that is OK!  We had a blast, enjoyed the company of good friends, and won lots of pretty ribbons.  

Standardbred In Hand - 1st and 2nd
Standardbred 2-Gait Pleasure - 2nd and 5th
Standardbred 2-Gait Equitation - double 1sts
Standardbred Pleasure Championship - double 1sts
Standardbred Roadster Under Saddle - double 2nds
Open Roadster Under Saddle - double 3rds

Reva's haul from Dunegrass Living Classic.  We also won a cute shoulder bag and lots of Cowboy Magic products!
Click here for professional photos.  I was number 442.

Monday, June 4, 2012

TEAM PENNING!!! We finally did it!

YAY!  Dreamy and I finally went team penning and it was AWESOME!!  I have been dying to try this discipline for years!!  Be prepared for some pretty serious photo spamming in a moment.  LOL!  We are officially members of CMTPA, which is the Central Maine Team Penning Association.  We attended a team penning clinic on May 12, 2012 with two of the higher rated penners in the club, Morgan and Bruce.  You are rated 1-6... obviously I am a ONE!  LOL!  ;-)  The clinicians were awesome and I had a wonderful day!  (Warning, this is long!)

Dreamy is ready to go!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

SMDA show #1 - May 6, 2012

Reva and I competed in her first dressage show of the year (and the third one of her life!) on May 6, 2012.  It was a Southern Maine Dressage Association show.
Waiting for our first test!  She was interested in her surroundings, but very VERY well behaved!
She was excellent for our first outing of 2012!  She was a bit nervous but held it together really well.  She is not really sure she understands why we have to stay in the little bitty dressage ring, but she really tried to be a good obedient girl and that is what matters at this point.  She wasn't really "scared" but just tense.  

Intro A had some really nice moments.  We had all 6.5s and 7s (I had forgotten that the half points are now allowed!  Cool!) and just one 4 on our first right trot circle at A.  Reva tried to exit quickly at A and we nearly left the arena.  LOL!  I am pretty sure at least two, if not three, hooves left the ring.  We had to "jump" back into the ring with her front feet.  I was a bit rattled, but what can you do?  I laughed it off and rode the rest of the test with more attention to her tendency to want to blow through the outside aids.  When Reva is tense, she really sucks back behind the vertical and takes choppy mincing steps.  It is a catch 22 in a way; while I am pleased she is no longer trying to trot around like a racing giraffe, I also don't want her behind the vertical (you'll see what I mean in the pics) and I want her to use her body properly.  She has a lovely big trot stride and we have developed a good marching walk.  But when she is tense, she gets mincing.  If I ask for a bigger stride, I run the risk of pushing her go button.  We are still trying to sort out half halts away from home (aka she understands the concept at home but at shows and at lessons she "forgets").  Still, we scored a 62.9% and earned a second place ribbon!  :-)  The judge (Adam Cropper) wrote, "Well matched horse and rider.  Horse could cover more ground in both gaits."  All my collectives were 6.5s except rider position was a 7!

Yay mare!  Super cheesy smile for our Intro A second place ribbon!
Intro B felt like a much better test.  Reva was a bit less tense (and did not try to exit stage left!  LOL!) and we scored all 6.5s and 7s with all 7s on our collectives except for a 6.5 on submission.  The judge wrote, "Lovely pair! with good potential.  Would like to see horse with better lateral suppleness and steadier contact."  We earned another second place ribbon with a 66.3%!   It was a good place to start and reinforced that I am working in the right direction with Reva.  I am working on covering more ground in her gaits through relaxation, suppling her laterally, and working on keeping a steady contact (and not dropping behind the bit!)  I think she is coming along well and I am proud of her!

Professional pics are here.  

Online results.