Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stillwater Pony Club show and a Trail ride!

I will have to post pictures later after I get them, but I wanted to do a weekend recap as it was a lot of fun and very eventful.

DLSC's final hunter show (or at least final SCHEDULED hunter show) was on Saturday at Twin Towers Park.  This was perfect for us with the mini trial this coming weekend.  I would have loved to have taken Raz to the show.  The last show was a ton of fun with her, but I really felt like my plate was going to be full with Noble, so Raz stayed home.

Because we had the facility, the plan was to replicate an event.  Overall it was a great plan and worked fairly well.  Of course, there were some bumps just to test patience or something.

First up, the dreaded dressage test!  Although they're quite close to the hunter ring, the sand dressage rings rarely get used during hunter shows.  So it was really easy to warm up and do a dressage test with no interruptions.  Anita was there by the time I was able to get on (had to wait for a girth to be available - patience test #1) and has a great eye.  She was very pleased with our test which made me happy.  I was pleased with it too, but I do feel like I can't be the only one since Anita has put as much effort into Noble's education as I have ... not to mention that Jen owns him.  We didn't add up the scores, but she said she would have given us 6s and 7s with a few 8s. 

Next up was cross country.  The plan was to use the crossrail warm up class in the ring as our jumping warm up and then proceed directly out to the cross country course and jump a few things.  Patience test #2: Noble had only 1 front shoe.  The options were to either pull it or scratch the day.  Jen was ok with pulling so Anita and I (with Ella) drove to TSC and picked up a pair of nippers.  Noble was fantastic as he just stood there the whole time.  I missed the warm up class but jumped the actual warm up fences and took off.  This is where our recent epiphanies come in.  As long as I RODE the fences, he jumped them... sometimes brilliantly!  It's when I rode for the stall that he stopped.  Overall I was EXTREMELY pleased with him however.

And finally, show jumping.  We did the afternoon warm up class and jumped all but the one 2'6" fence.  He was amazing and jumped REALLY well.  After that we did one of the Future Hunter (18") jumping classes.  We didn't place in a rather large class, but I don't think I could have asked for him to perform much better at the end of a long day.

I really think we're ready for this coming weekend.  I'm looking forward to it.

On Sunday, despite being exhausted and having a to-do list at the farm a mile long, when Anita suggested I take Spider with Ella and Thumper out on a trail ride (while she worked at home alone with Shirley), I jumped at it.  And I'm SO glad I did.  Spider was wonderful.  She spooked when initially tied to the trailer, but settled.  She was nervous at times and did one spook out on the trail (in place).  BUT... she followed great, led most of the time, eventually settled in the canter, softened nicely at the walk, and slowed by listening to my posting rhythm at the trot.  We did about 4 miles and included passing 2 sets of horses and crossing a creek twice.

Anita reported that Shirley did wonderfully as she learned she could rely on Anita and start to trust her more.  I went out last night after the rain and in the dark and gave them some treats, found some itchy spots and just hung out for a bit.  They really are very sweet mares.

Well, this blog entry has been long enough I suppose.  There are a few other things I eventually want to get down that has come up recently, including the current land status and the major choices in activities in the next few weeks.... but later.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ponies and Epiphanies

For some reason it just feels like it's been a really long week.  I think along with packing (horse show stuff as well as things to sell tomorrow) and regular chores, I may try to sneek in a nap this evening.

The week went well.  I continued to bring the girls up to the barn to get their grain.  I tried leading both of them one morning and that went less than stellar.  But the last couple times, I've lead Spider in and Shirley has followed.  It's working ok.  I'm wondering if locking them in the barn for a couple days like I did when the cows first got to the farm (after they escaped and were recaptured) would help acclimate them to the barn itself.  The cows could stay with the chickens for a few days.  But overall, I think they're starting to relax a little.  The cows are still aliens though. *sigh*

Noble has been a rock star this week.  Tuesday was a short ride but productive.  Working on bending a bit as well as picking up both leads.  Yesterday's work was fantastic!  Under Anita's eye (which I'm extremely thankful for), we warmed up then did our dressage test in the indoor.  That went fairly well other than when I screwed up the left canter lead (aka his good one).  Anita said she would have scored us in the 63-64% range.  After that we went out to the outdoor sand arena where I had a couple ground poles and 3 large crossrails set up.  I think we had an epiphany -- Noble I think is finally getting what jumping is as he's coming to the fences with energy and his jumping is SO much smoother!  My epiphany was in realizing that I had been riding as if he was going to stall out and then leap.  I need to ride defensively, but still as if he IS going to jump.

After a few fences we went out to the jump field and tackled a few of the "cross country" fences.  He did REALLY well.  Even the last 3 fences, the only ones I really "put together" one after another he jumped wonderfully though it was the first time he'd been asked to jump them.  Definitely earned a bit of a liniment wash!

So the plan for tomorrow is that I'm going to get on fairly soon after we arrive, warm up and do our dressage test in one of the sand dressage rings.  Then we'll take a break until the crossrail warmup class which we'll use as our cross country warmup.  Then head directly out to cross country to tackle some fences.  I'm HOPING the pony club is having the water jump filled.  Then we'll take a break until the "afternoon" warmup class and do it and the first Future Hunter Over Fences class (simulating our stadium jumping).  So basically, little boy is going to get his first horse trial tomorrow!  I'm looking forward to it and hopefully I will have some pictures to post.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

They must be aliens!

Question: What do you get when you take 2 off-the-track thoroughbred mares out of their comfortable environment, put them on a new farm complete with all kinds of alien life (like turkeys and cows) and then try to separate them to do some grooming and lunging?

Answer:  An evening full of "interesting" ground work!
The girls give the BIG hairy eyeball to the aliens...er...cows.
The cows of course could care less and are just on a search for better grass.

Anita came by last night and we brought the girls individually into the barn cross-tie area for some grooming.  The goal was to hopefully be able to lunge each of them.  It didn't quite work out that way as we worked on relaxing and ground manners.  They definitely have a bad case of separation anxiety, but I suppose under the circumstances they weren't all THAT bad.  After all, 24 hours earlier they knew their surroundings.  Now they only know each other!

Anita did manage to lunge Spider in the front paddock (with the turkey's locked out of the way).  While she did that, I worked more with Shirley... bringing her into the barn and out of eye-sight of where Spider went.  She was very anxious and not at all happy.  We did get SOME relaxation at the end, but both Anita and I immediately decided that more ground work is needed before we start riding.

I'm also hoping that they start realizing the cows aren't really aliens and that in reality they're much bigger and can probably take over the farm from them if they want to.  They do seem to be getting better about the chickens.  Well, at least they don't go running from them when the chickens LOOK in their direction (unlike with the cows).

Tonight: I think Anita is going to play with the girls a bit but I'm heading to Jen's to work Noble.  We have the DLSC Stillwater Pony Club show coming up on Saturday and he's basically going to be doing a horse trial.  After that, I have a to-do list a MILE long.  Thankfully, this post is on the list so I can at least scratch one thing off.

9/11 -- Never Forget

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Welcome Shirley and Spider!

Today did not go as planned.  AT least not in terms of time.  It's 9:10 and I have at least another 40 minutes before my dinner will be ready.  Other than that, today was a decent if busy day.  Most of it was spent picking up and then trying to settle in the new project horses - Shirley and Spider.

A week ago I was offered the opportunity to take these fabulous off-the-track thoroughbred mares and work with them to get them to sale.  I went today and picked them up and am so excited for them to settle in enough to start playing with them.

I'm still a little in awe of the opportunity.  The breeder of both of these mares is a fantastic person and race trainer. She sees the wonderful in both of them, but between her own horses and her family, she simply didn't have time to work with them.  I won't be alone in working with them.  Anita has been working with Noble as well and we make a good team, so we'll be working with these girls together.

Welcome to Shirley (Sure She Can) and Spi (Spider Can), full sisters out of Can Cun Beach (by Majesty's Prince) by Canvas.  Spi is 9 and Shirley is 8.

They weren't really happy when I limited their turnout to near the barn.  I don't think they like the cows.  So for tonight the cows are in the west paddock (making them less than happy).  I don't think the girls are still all that certain of the barn, but they seemed to be relaxing a bit more once the cows were gone.

So look for more stories as they get settled and into work, plus of course I'm still working with Noble and having fun with him.  Can one have too many horses to play with?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Getting a Lesson... and other stuff

Every so often Emily Abbate comes to the barn and gives lessons.  I've heard great things about her for a long time so when Jen suggested a lesson, of course I jumped at the chance.  Noble was great.  We got some lovely exercises to try and help him along.  He's such a good boy but still pretty young.  The exercises were all geared towards helping establish the connection to his back end.

We're at the 2 week and counting mark to his debut as an event horse.  It's a little silly how excited I am for this.  I'm looking at the possibility of taking him out cross country schooling this weekend if the course isn't rented.  He's been doing so well that I can't wait to see him tackle some XC fences.  Should have some pictures of the last couple shows to share soon. Stay tuned!

In other news, the turkeys are getting big!  The whites are almost the age they were last year when we butchered.  The reds are smaller, but coming along nicely as well.  And now that we've had some rain, hopefully they'll be able to graze a bit more.  I think I still have a couple turkeys that haven't been spoken for if anyone reading this is interested in a holiday turkey!

One last bit of exciting news.  I actually mowed the grass tonight!!  GRASS, not just weeds!  Yay for rain!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Greenstone Show Results

Went to the Greenstone Hunter show (DLSC) yesterday.  Had a BLAST!!  Everyone from iTolt did great and I even thoroughly enjoyed helping the show (jump crew, running sheets, calculating points).  Just plain fun.

I took Raz (aka Chiraz) and we did the Baby Hunter division.  This is the 5th show on the DLSC circuit that we've gone to so we're qualified for their year end awards program.  Not sure how well we'll do in the final standings, but I've had a lot of fun with Raz.  Every show has been more and more fun.  For a 19 year old, she's got plenty of spunk.

Our flat class went ok, but I blew it.  We missed the right canter lead, not once but twice.  The second time was definitely my fault as I tried to rush getting the lead and she picked up the wrong one again.  Oops.  Live and learn.  We finished 5th.

Our jumping classes were MUCH better.  The first class was so smooth.  We had to drop to get the lead only once in the round.  I guess the judge agreed as we won the class!  The second class wasn't quite as smooth.  I think it was a combination of the heat/humidity and the EXTREMELY hard ground.  We were both pretty done after that round.  It wasn't a hateful round, just not quite as smooth.  Finished 2nd.

So 5th, 1st and 2nd was good enough for Reserve Champion!  Can't wait to see some of the pictures.

I was also offered an opportunity.  Not saying much at the moment til it gets more solidified, if that's what happens.  But it could be a great opportunity and even if it doesn't go through, it's an amazing compliment.  Stay tuned!