Sunday, August 25, 2013

"Don't Come in Last"

This post is a slight diversion from normal farm stuff. Today I participated in the Lake Loramie Triathlon (canoe/bike/run). Have a few thoughts that I wanted to write down.

This was my second triathlon. Due to a planned vacation, I ended up doing this one solo. I'm still waiting for the official results but there's no doubt that I came in last in the solo division... in fact, due to the staggered start, there's a very real possibility that I came in last for the entire event. If not last, then 3rd to last.

I'm competitive. I always have been. So don't take this next comment wrong because I enjoy doing well and love to win. But honestly? I am PERFECTLY FINE coming in last. I actually thought about this the entire race. Within the first 20 minutes, a female team passed me on the lake and the person in the back had a t-shirt on that said "Don't Come In Last". I hated that t-shirt and was really glad I didn't see it the rest of the race. I understand the sentiment, but when you're doing something difficult... actually TRYING something that is hard... why is it so bad to come in last? At least you're trying. And DOING! Better to come in last doing something... than to never try at all, right? After seeing the t-shirt, during the lake portion about the last turn before heading to the take-out, a friend of the people in the canoe next to me told her friends "you're not last!!" I'd be thrilled if folks cheered me on... even if I was last!

Here are a few other observations and thoughts:

  • 2.5 miles alone in a kayak is longer than 2.5 miles in a canoe with a friend. Especially on a lake and not going downstream in a river.
  • 15 miles on a bike is definitely longer than 12 miles.
  • Running after biking sucks! I could barely walk when I got off the bike, much less run!
  • There are a bunch of triathlon participants at this race and at the one I did last month that remind me of eventers. So many people wished me well and cheered me on even though they didn't know me from the next person. Definitely reminds me of the "have a good ride" you hear so often at horse trials and 3-Days. Maybe it's the triathlon aspect.
  • Having a triathlon next to a lake is a great idea. After I finished, I gathered my stuff and then went and took a dip in the lake. It was awesome! Good thing I took a change of clothes.
  • Biggest mistake of the race? Not taking sunscreen! OOPS!!

Had a great time... thought I'm not entirely sure I was thinking that at various times during the race. Next one is September 29th.

Friday, August 16, 2013

October Show Details

Shirley and I are off tonight to Indiana so there will be another show report in the near future. In the meantime, I've posted details on the October 12th show at Twin Towers on the SVF website. Please take a look and ask if you have any questions.

Some of the changes from the June show include:

  • Change to jumper classes. Due to the response in June, we've changed from 2 jumper classes per level to 1 class per level starting at Green as Grass. Also, except for the Green as Grass level which will remain as an optimum time class, all jumper classes will be run under Table IIB (a clean initial run means you get to do a shortened jumpoff round). All jumper classes will run a different track than the CT jumper rounds.

  • Addition of Jumper Schooling Rounds. Due to requests, we've added the option to add a schooling jumper round (or rounds). All jumper classes and all jumping portion of CTs will be allowed to be added as a schooling round. Schooling rounds are $10 each and will not be judged or placed in the class. If a rider is entered in a class at the level they add a schooling round, they MUST ride their judged round(s) before they ride their schooling round(s).

  • Change to refund policy. Our previous policy was stated as "no refunds." The new policy is as follows: "Withdrawals prior to posted closing date for the divisions in question will be refunded, minus office fee. Refunds for withdrawals after the closing date will only be given (minus office fee) if the space can be filled from a wait list or late entry. Refunds for stabling fees will only be given if stalls are cancelled at least 2 days prior to the show. In the event the show is cancelled due to extreme weather, no refunds will be issued."

  • Addition of CT classes. To give local riders who may be competing in one of the 3-Day divisions at MSEDA the weekend following the show the opportunity to practice, we've added Training 3-Day, Preliminary 3-Day and CCI* CT classes. These CT divisions (in fact all CT divisions) will use the dressage tests that riders will see at MSEDA. Riders do NOT have to be entered at MSEDA to enter one of the 3-day CT classes. They are open to anyone wishing to enter.

  • Change to CT Entry requirements. Previously we offered a $60 entry fee for 2 consecutive CT divisions (ie: Novice CT and Training CT). We are still offering the $60 price for 2 CTs but have opened up the restriction to encompass 2 consecutive LEVELS. This means that a rider may enter the Training CT (Class 27 - a 3'3" level class) and still do the CCI* CT (class 32 - a 3'6" level class) for the $60 entry fee. Additional classes or classes outside the "consecutive levels" requirement may be added but will be need to be ridden HC.

  • Participation in the Kristen Distl Fundraiser. Some very generous local riders are holding a fundraiser to help with medical expenses for Kristen Distl, a local eventer who was paralyzed in a riding accident in December 2012. There will be a silent auction (held online, ending Friday, October 11th at noon), a raffle held during the show and a dinner following the show. In addition, a portion of our CT entries will be going to the fundraiser. More details can be found online at Kristen Distl Fundraiser on Facebook. There you can find a complete listing of the auction and raffle items. Even if you can't attend the show, you can bid on auction items or buy raffle tickets prior to the show. In addition, I believe they have an account set up at Wright-Patt Credit Union for donations. Serenity Valley Farm Horse Show is extremely proud and honored to be part of this special fundraiser.
Once again, if you have any questions regarding any of the policies, classes or anything in general having to do with the show, don't hesitate to ask! Hope to see everyone there!!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Shirley's First Event

It finally happened! Shirley actually got to attend her very first full horse trial! We had originally signed up for the Georgetown mini trial to be held on July 6th. Unfortunately, a bizarre summer weather-wise meant it was postponed due to rain/flooding/wet footing. It finally ran this past Sunday (July 28th) and we had a blast!

We entered the starter division (max 2'3") and in hindsight, while our dressage definitely needs improvement, we probably could have handled Beginner Novice. Hauled in and out in the same day, which is a bit different for me. Only thing that was needed was a run through Starbucks for the last 30 miles (thank you Taylorsville Road Starbucks for being appropriately positioned!)

Dressage was not amusing. We were doing Beginner Novice test B. She did a decent if a bit looky and distracted warmup in the field next to the arena (across the driveway from jumping). Got a FABULOUS left canter depart (we've been working on those). Moved up to the ring, which was next to their new indoor arena construction and just didn't have time to really settle before turning down the center line. I know she had some decent moments but overall I was not overly happy with our test (and my right arm/shoulder and right side of my back let me know I had problems). Thought the judge was pretty generous with a 42.9. Oh well. Put us in 7th place.

Annoying moment of the day was getting back to the trailer after dressage. I had left her halter hanging on the tie on the side of the 2 horse trailer I was using. A car had parked right next to me. Oh, I could still tie Shirley there (and did for a moment) but her hocks were less than 2' from this shiny gray audi. I was secretly hoping she'd poop on the car, but worried she'd kick and hurt herself. Needed to walk to the office anyway so after she was untacked, I just put her in the trailer to stand. BTW, car belonged to an eventer (as I and the people next to me looked for car keys to see if we could move it just a bit so I could continue to use my trailer). Makes NO sense (cars were all parked across the "driveway" from the trailers but not this one... and it stayed the rest of the day). And yes, I did leave a note on their windshield. Sorry, but doing that when there are plenty of other options is just rude.

Anyway, they were running the event so you had about 20 minutes between SJ and XC. The walk to the office was longer than I thought so I was actually running a little late on getting to warmup. Ok, that and Shirley was a bit antsy when I was trying to put her boots on. Thankfully it had only been an hour since dressage so it's not like I needed a long warmup. Just enough to get us thinking jump and to make sure we had buttons (directional control and brakes, specifically). Trotted the field between parking and warm up... trotted a big circle... jumped the X... cantered/trotted back around to jump the vertical... cantered around to jump the oxer... then headed to the ingate. Walked a couple circles then went in.

She was VERY looky... but oh so good! Had a couple minor bobbles in the form of being out of sync with her when she took a long spot, but overall, she did REALLY well. VERY proud of her. We walked the length of the warm up field. I hadn't planned to go back to the trailer as we did SJ in our boots and vest. Got there and was told they were running early. Cool. I jumped the log they had flagged in warm up then went to the start box. The XC course was a bit smaller than I thought it was going to be but it was a great first time out! She was brave and a LOT less looky than she had been when we did the event derby in May. She still looked hard at a couple bigger fences that we passed... and wigged out when I tried to take her between the property fenceline and the "woods" that were fenced off (an "alley" in between of about 20' across)... but overall she did FABULOUS!! I really can't say it enough. She was so good over all the fences once she figured out what we were going to jump. Even the MF at the ditch (we could take the actual ditch or a rail on the ground next to the ditch but no refusals would have counted -- pointed her at the ditch and she peeked ever so slightly at the last minute but it was just a "oh, there's something there" kind of peek). SO proud of her!!

But before she got to go back to the trailer, I took her butt back to the dressage ring (now finished for the day) and made her go through our dressage test again. Better. At least she actually picked up her right canter lead the 2nd time.

We finished our on 42.9 from dressage. 7th in our division (of 7 but most of the others were green horses being ridden by current upper level riders... it's been almost 9 years since I rode anything above BN). Got a pretty purple ribbon too. Very happy and proud of my Shirley. If we can both learn to relax in the dressage ring, I think it will all come together nicely. She's athletic, brave, intelligent and I really think she's enjoying herself with this job.

I purchased the picture CD. No dressage pics (probably a good thing) but here are some of the good ones from SJ and XC. Next up -- XC clinic on Saturday at Hoosier Horse Park in Indiana.

Monday, July 22, 2013

SVF Horse Shows - June Recap/October News

I tried to post this a week or so ago.  Not an excuse... I know it's late.  But something wouldn't let me actually post.

June Show Recap

The first ever Serenity Valley Farm Horse Show went beautifully!  66 Dressage rides, 8 Prix Caprilli rides, 47 Combined Tests and a number of jumper rides.  We started with the first ride at 8am and we finished a bit after 5pm.  AND the weather held off!  According to a friend, the satelite had storms popping up all around us all day, but it wasn't until the very last few items were heading to the storage building that the skies opened up and drenched the couple of us that were left.  I'm so happy it waited!  And it seems that everyone who came enjoyed themselves.  Congratulations to all our division winners:

Devyn Burger/Cool Whip - Intro Level Test A SR
Amanda Munson/Studs Hooligan - Intro Level Test B SR
Amanda Munson/Studs Hooligan - Intro Level Test C SR
Isabel Arcusa/Gus - Intro Level Test A JR and Reserve High Percentage
Madison McCarty/Ramoth - Intro Level Test B JR
Lorenza Savini/SkyLer - Intro Level Test C JR
Sheila Wilson/Rex Bibendi - Training Level Test 1 and Champion High Percentage
Kathryn Schantz/Copper Petina - Training Level Test 2
Kara Mastern/Lueka - Training Level Test 3
Lorenza Savini/George - First Level Test of Choice
Alathea Young/Garrett - Percentage Class

Ashley Roselius/Pumpkin Pie - Prix Caprilli Intro Level
Jill O'Banion/Thunder's Bay - Prix Caprilli Training Level

Samantha Lambert/Lucky Charm - Ground Poles Combined Test
Ashley Roselius/Pumpkin Pie - Crossrails Combined Test
Ashley Roselius/Pumpkin Pie - Green as Grass Combined Test
Ginny Stack/Dear Goldie - Starter Combined Test
Amanda Miller/Piccolo's Dance - Beginner Novice Combined Test
Amanda Miller/Piccolo's Dance - Novice Combined Test
Megan Cleary/Miss Moneypenny - Training Combined Test

Lilly Beard/Rambo - Green as Grass Jumper 1

Kathryn Schantz/Noble Rain - Green as Grass Jumper 2

Kathryn Schantz/Noble Rain - Starter Jumper 1

Ella Mays/Thumper - Beginner Novice Jumper 2
Ella Mays/Thumper - Low Gambler's Choice
Sarah Slamer/Lark's Gamin - Training Jumper 1
Sarah Slamer/Lark's Gamin - High Gambler's Choice

October Show News

Now that we've had a slight breather, we're starting to pull things together for the show on October 12th.  Not much news at this point but there are a couple items:

1- We will be modifying the jumper class offerings.  Final classes are yet to be determined but there will be at least 1 jumper class at each CT level in addition to the Low and High Gambler's Choice.

2 - In addition to adding a CCI* CT division (for those looking for practice for the fall CCI*s), we will also be adding a T3DE CT division for anyone who may be competing in the T3DE the following weekend at MidSouth.  Dressage tests will be the same as for what MidSouth has posted so it will be a great way to practice that "different" dressage test and get some feedback.

3 - All our CT divisions will be giving a portion of entry fees to a fundraiser for local eventer Kristen Distl who was paralyzed in a riding accident late last year.  The details are still be worked out but the plan is that there will be a raffle of horse and non-horse items at a catered dinner on the show grounds immediately following the last ride of the show.  Items already donated include clinic entry and lessons.  You won't want to miss this AND you can help a great fundraiser!  Stay tuned for more details.  If you wish to make a donation to the raffle, please contact me and I can put you in touch with the right people.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Goals Met ... mostly

I can unequivocally say that we had a BLAST at the Come Again Farm May Flowers schooling show.  Lee Ann does a phenominal job at her farm and everything was wonderful and yet relaxed.  So... on to the recap.

Shirley was entered in 2 Event Derby divisions: Green as Grass (18") and Starter (2'3").  We did both dressage tests before any jumping.  I can't say they were outstanding tests.  I think the first was in the 44 penalty point range (56%) and the second was around a 48 (52%), but there were MOMENTS... fleeting for sure, but definitely moments, that were lovely... especially in the 2nd test.  I have to disagree with the word choice that the judge used often in that test: "unbalanced".  There isn't an unbalanced bone in that mare's body.  I am not arguing the score... simply the description.  Above the bit for sure.  Unfocused, definitely.  Unbalanced?  Not a chance.  Either way, it put us in 3rd in GAG and 7th in Starter going into our jumping rounds.

I've never done an Event Derby before.  The jumping is part show jumping, part cross country.  Figured it should be interesting.  Our first round was the 3rd time I'd tacked up Shirley that morning.  She was less than thrilled and preferred a nap at that point.  But she was a good girl.  Our warmups were VERY limited.  She was already warmed up and I didn't feel the need to overdo it.  Remember... Goal #1 at this show was to give her a good experience. 

The first and last part of the 2 courses were the same with only the adjustment in height being different.  GAG was crossrails, while Starter was verticals and an oxer.  2 stadium fences in the sand arena then out to the field to jump 3 fences, then off the bank, then back into the ring for the last 3 stadium fences.  Shirley was very good overall.  She jumped like a champ, though she would rush a bit after the fences and was spooking at everything else (there were MANY jumps in this field).  Shirley is also convinced at this point in her education that steering is merely a suggestion.  GAG went EXTREMELY well.  She even went off the drop bank!  We trotted a LOT but ... see Goal #1.  Starter went really well too in the beginning.  Unfortunately, we had our first refusal at the biggest fence on the course -- a red roofed cabin.  It was in a lovely spot but there were other jumps and with the steering/focus issues we were having, we did not get straight to it and thus Shirley did not really see it until we were on top of it.  It was too big to take like that.  A small trot to approach it straight and she sailed over it.  In the arena she was jumping well over the bigger fences.  Fence 8, the next to last, was an oxer.  I remember thinking it was a fantastic jump.  Unfortunately, I didn't ride well afterwards and combined with our steering/focus issues meant that I rolled over her left shoulder and was promptly deposited on my butt.  Shirley was an angel and stood still while I got up and led her off.

We did a small bit of XC schooling after the jumping was done that afternoon.  She went in and out of the water like a champ (a green champ at first but settled nicely), even doing an up bank out of the water.  We had some issues with horses cantering too closely behind us.  More focus issues I think.

I learned a lot about Shirley and about what she needs and where I am in regards to providing it.  First, whatever conclusions I come to post-event have no bearing on how proud I am of her performance this weekend.  She was a wonderful.  She was the patient and kind Shirley to work around as I tacked and untacked her *5* times in the course of 6 hours.  She was the athletic and talented Shirley I've come to love when we were competing.  What she needs is focus and experience.  What I need to do is give her the ride she needs to be able to focus.  I have gotten into the bad habit of looking at her and not focusing myself on where we're going, both when she's needing correction as well as when on course.  In a stadium round it's a bit easier because the fences come up faster.  What this showed me is that I need to have a specific and definite plan on landing even off XC fences or Shirley will make up her own at this point.  I also need to continue to work on my fitness and balance.  I think I did ok... except when I lost my balance as she spooked as well as when she LAUNCHED herself off the banks.  I can only apologize to my big girl and hope we can get past my mistakes.

I do believe I accomplished Goal #1.  This show was low key and positive.  I think she had a good experience and gained a lot of knowledge that will help us going forward.  Goal #2 was to complete our rounds.  Well... we mostly did that.  Everything but 1 jump.  I can live with that.  Of course wanting to do WELL was in the back of my mind as a hope, not a goal.  That hope was fulfilled in the Green As Grass division where we finished 2nd.

Ella and Thumper did the Starter and Beginner Novice Derbies and did well -- finishing 6th in Starter and 3rd in Beginner Novice.  Anita and Cerveza came to "practice" showing and did 3rd level Test 1 and 4th Level Test 1.... finishing 4th and 3rd respectively.  Again, we all had a FANTASTIC time at the show and are looking forward to going back to Come Again Farm for another show.  Thank you Lee Ann, and everyone at the show that made it work.

Here are some pictures... all taken by Lee Ann Zobbe.

Ella & Thumper at Fence 9 in the Beginner Novice Event Derby -- on their way to a 3rd Place finish!

The amazingly infectious smile of a 12yo having fun.

Shirley over Fence 2 in the Green as Grass Event Derby

Shirley on her way to our first bank.

LAUNCHING off said bank.  Yes, I was bad and didn't ride properly.  I think I apologized to her all the way to the next fence.  I think we may have been the only ones to take the drop in that division.  And we finished 2nd!

Fence 2 on the Starter course... looking to head out to the XC field next.

Shirley coming off the bank in the Starter Event Derby (our 2nd ride off the bank)

another LAUNCH off the small bank.  And yes, we did need to turn left... I just could have done it a bit more politely.

What I think was our best fence... Fence 8 on the Starter course. Just wish I would have ridden better this so we could have finished.

Friday, May 10, 2013

New goals?

Just a quick brain dump on what's going on.  I'd like to start using this blog a bit better to track our progress.  Let's face it.  We have 2 very talented mares who are just getting started but learning quickly.  And with show season now upon us, there's going to be a lot going on.  It will be fun to look back and see how far we've come.

So here we are... May 10th with Shirley and Spider.

Spider has been working a LOT on her dressage.  She's not as brave a jumper as Shirley is and Anita LOVES her so she's been concentrating on her flatwork.  Anita said she quickly ran through the First Level Test 1 in the indoor the other day and thought Spider did really well with the movements.  Her canter transitions are SO much better and Anita was beaming at what she was able to get for a medium canter as well as the transition back to working.  I think we're going to get her out soon to a DLSC dressage show, but probably at Training level to start.  No sense in pushing her physical limits along with the mental ones of going to a show.  I think we're going to start jumping her again as well.  See what she can do and what she wants to do.  Plus of course, good weather means trail rides! 

Shirley is heading to her 2nd show with us later today.  We'll be doing the Green as Grass (18") and the Starter (2'3") Event Derby divisions at the Come Again Farm Spring Show tomorrow.  We haven't been able to specifically school cross country, and our flatwork is coming but far from confirmed.  Just going to A) have a good experience that sets up more good experiences... then B) finish our divisions.  I have no doubt we can actually accomplish both... but to me, the order of the goals is important.

Both girls saw Dr Lieck yesterday (chiropractor).  They both had some significant work that needed to be done. Shirley's was all along her back as well as her stifles.  Spi was out in a few places in her back as well as her left shoulder and left knee.  The plan for today is for a short acclimation ride when we get to the farm tonight so it will be interesting to see how Shirley is after her adjustment (she had the rest of yesterday off and both of them thoroughly enjoyed a couple hours out on the grass).

Tomorrow looks to be a long but nicely paced day.  Ella is taking Thumper and doing the Starter and Beginner Novice Event Derby divisions, and Anita is bringing Cerveza to practice their Third and Fourth level tests.  We start with our first test (me and Shirley) at 8:50am... and end with Anita and Veza doing 4th - Test 1 at 5:10.  In between we have another 4 dressage tests, 4 jumping rounds and a short session of cross country schooling.

Here's hoping my next entry will have plenty of pictures as well as a recap of the event.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shirley meets Joe

I'm almost a week late in posting this recap of my lesson with New Zealand eventer Joe Meyer.  Antia and I had watched a couple lessons he gave locally a few months ago.  Since then, I've been wanting to get to him for a lesson, but the timing and finances never worked out.  Thankfully, his schedule allowed him an inpromptu visit to Greenstone last Thursday before he headed to Louisville for a weekend clinic.

I had initially requested a group lesson (easier on the checkbook) but am SO thankful now that I ended up with a private lesson, even if it did cost a bit more.  I'm also thrilled that Anita was able to go with me and watch.  She said she learned as much if not more by watching than I did by riding.

So what happened?  Well, first we had to settle down.  I introduced Shirley to Joe.  She was a bit keyed up so he got on and worked her on the flat for about 15 or 20 minutes.  He was calm, cool, insistent but not rude about it... just kept asking over and over and over... as much as it took.  Shirley started to settle quite nicely in both trot and canter as time went on.  I got on then and tried to replicate what he had done with her, working first on keeping the rhythm in the gait the same all the way around the circle (not to mention actually making the circle as circle... have I mentioned we're geometrically challeneged?).  Both directions... both trot and canter.  Keeping the contact the same no matter what she's doing in front, just keeping the forward and rhythm... the relaxation and roundness will come.  He also warned that as she came round in the canter, her stride would get bigger.  It definitely did!

We didn't jump much.  Couple times over an X and a few over a small verticle.  Not what I expected coming into this lesson, but the lesson was EXACTLY what we needed.  Our homework is to continue to expand on what we were doing in the lesson.  Maintaining rhythm in the gait, keeping contact with a slight inside bend, allowing her to be round (releasing the pressure if she does) and then start working on adjustability within the gait.  Also, getting her out to do things.  We were supposed to school cross country today at KHP with Megan Moore, but they had too much rain and cancelled it.  One of my fears, as I told Joe, is that Shirley loves jumping and has never refused a fence, and I don't want to take advantage of that and push her too far.  He suggested to do lots of little stuff and once I have the adjustability as well as the her confidence, then we can start getting bigger.  He really liked her (and he said he doesn't usually say that about horses he can't get to go on the bit) -- that made my day.

Also, through the lesson and in the discussion afterwards on what we needed to do, I had a "come to jesus" epiphany about me.  I've known I need to work on my fitness for a while.  Last Tuesday morning, I did SOMETHING to my back.  I have no idea what.  I went to sit on a chair and put my shoes on and almost started crying it hurt so bad.  Dealt with it Tuesday (thank you Naproxen).  Scheduled a wonderful massage on Wednesday (I think I need more of those regardless of anything actually hurting).  Managed to get an appointment with a chiropractor on Thursday with a followup on Friday.  Things finally started moving.  I'm still having some issues with it and am wearing a mild brace for anything like "work" (riding, grooming, walking, gardening, etc.) and it's doing MUCH better.  Lots of yoga stretches!  But Joe made some comments about my balance and such during the lesson.  He never asked what I'd done as far as riding so he didn't know if I was new to the sport or (correctly) ridden through CCI*.  But between the comments and the issues with my back, it's past time for serious.  If I want to do right by Shirley, I need to be fit and have the balance/core strength to give her the ride she needs and not "hurt" her because I don't have the physical ability to do what needs to be done.  Right now exercising is limited as I nurse my back, but I've started walking as well as riding, plus still doing lots of yoga stretches.  "The game is won in the gym but lost in the kitchen."  Yep, getting the junk food/comfort food eating under control again too.  I want both me AND Shirley to be better the next time we see Joe.  Last night's ride was a good one.

Unfortunately no pictures of the lesson.  But here is a pic from the Hilltop show a couple weeks ago... the first is one that Jen took.  The 2nd is from Intelligent Design Photography & Graphic Design (the show photographer).

In other (very quick since this blog post has been long) news:
  • Had an absolute blast playing show groom for Anita and Cerveza at the Majestic Farm show last weekend.  Didn't quite turn out as they'd have liked, but I think they looked fabulous and am so proud of them.  Dressage shows definitely aren't the same as Events, but I still had a great time.
  • Working on the garden more -- currently have spinach, lettuce, snow peas, broccoli planted... and just added tomatoes and a couple peppers.
  • Looking forward to the Come Again Farm spring show this weekend.  Shirley and I will tackle the Green As Grass and Starter level Event Derbies, Ella and Thumper will be doing the Starter and Beginner Novice level Derbies, and Anita is bringing Cerveza to practice 3rd and 4th level dressage tests.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Post 100!

I think had I known I was approaching 100 posts on this blog, I might have done a better job of getting it done in a timely fashion!  I seem to be on a roll this year -- taking 2-3 weeks between posts.  Well, there's a LOT coming up so hopefully it will spur me to update more often.

Regardless, welcome to Post 100 for the Serenity Valley Farm blog!

Also... Welcome to April... before we end up hitting May! LOL  So, what's going on?  Plenty!

The best news is also the most recent -- Shirley and Spider went to their first DLSC show with us this past weekend.  It was the first hunter show of the season and held at Hilltop Equestrian Center in West Alexandria.  This was my first time showing there.  The arenas are a lovely size, but there's a bit of a bottleneck to get in/out of hte indoor where the show actually took place.  Not to mention a few spooky elements in both rings, especially the indoor.  I didn't get to see much of Spider's warm up or showing as I was working Shirley at the same time.  Ella was showing her and from what I did see as well as the results (Baby Hunter, 1st on the flat, 2nd in both jumping classes and Reserve Champ for the division), I'd say they did fantastic!

I entered Shirley in both warm up classes so she could have that extra time to settle (something Ella was also doing with Spider so I thought it was a good idea).  The idea worked as our 2nd warmup was still anxious and nervous but not NEARLY as bad as the first.  For classes, I entered her in the 18" division (Future Hunter).  I cannot say enough about how proud of her I am.  She was a bit looky when in the arena but she performed quite well given all of that.  We did blow the 2nd canter lead in the flat class and did not place.  Our jumping rounds were a bit faster than one would like to see for a hunter, and I opted to trot into the first fence instead of cantering.  We placed 6th and 5th in the jumping classes.  She stood at the trailer like a champ, even when her trailering buddy Gus was taken away.  Really, she was quite amazing! Unfortunately, there aren't any pics of us jumping at this point.

In other news, the cows are finally at freezer camp!  Haven't heard when they'll be returning but it shouldn't be too much longer.

The chickens are still laying a ton of eggs if anyone is interested in some! (hint hint)

I still have several things for sale and am contemplating setting up a yard sale maybe in July.  However the one thing I don't have for sale any longer is the Ford Explorer.  Traded it in and downsized to a 2004 Saturn Vue.  Am really enjoying it!

The garden as officially begun as I have several plants and seeds now IN the ground an some lovely flowers are popping up.
Along the fence, though you can't see it, the peas have started to come up! The 4 green plants are new broccoli transplants that I bought, and in the other pallet, I have a couple rows of spinach and lettuce.  In addition, I'm attempting to grow spinach and lettuce in the gutter gardens on the fence again this year.  One more shot.

Love the multi-colored tulips that came up under the farm sign.  Freshly mulched too!

New sign on the privacy fence along the driveway.  Seemed fitting, even if a tad western.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Update - critters and items for sale

There are quite a few things coming up and a few updates I should probably write about.  Here's the short versions of everything.
  • I didn't get a "we've had a cancellation" call, so the cows are heading to Freezer Camp on Tuesday.  It's time.  Need to wrangle a volunteer or 2 to help me load them first thing Tuesday morning (last year went easier than expected, but I'm not going to assume it will be as easy with these 2), then they'll be off.  For those who purchased a share, it's typically 10 days to 2 weeks before they're ready for pick up, but I should be able to give you a ballpark quote on the processing fees later in the day on Tuesday. 
  • The chickens have started laying like gangbusters!  Anyone want some eggs??
  • The girls are still both over at iTolt and doing fantastic!  We have a group lesson tomorrow with Nad Noon set up.  I'll be riding Shirley, Ella will be on her Thumper pony, and Jen is going on Coco.  I'm really looking forward to it.  Spider won't be joining us but she's doing amazingly well and had a lesson with Ella and Rob earlier this week.  We're really proud of both girls!  I personally can't wait to take them on trail rides and cross country schools.  Of course the weather needs to cooperate for that to happen.
  • As for things around the farm, they're going ok.  Pretty mud covered at the moment, but I supposed that's to be expected.  At least the 5 inches of snow we received earlier this week has already melted for the most part.  Looking forward to getting the garden put in soon.  I also need to work on getting several items sold, including:
    • 2004 Ford Explorer XLT 4x4, black, gray cloth interior. 162K miles. Good mechanical condition with new battery, good tires. Good body condition with no rust.  Good interior with typical wear but nothing major. Downsizing to a smaller vehicle since I'll be able to use my brother's truck for the next couple years.  Asking $5,000 OBO
    • Antique upright piano.  Purchased from a lady who told me stories about how she used to play it in her grandmother's home.  I don't know much more than that.  In ok shape.  Needs tuning and a couple keys need replaced (they're there, but the white covering on them isn't -- obviously I'm not a piano expert).  Just don't need/want any more.  Asking $350.

    • 34" Sony HD tv.  Older flatscreen (still a tube - not the skinny kind of tv).  Works great, just don't need anymore. Has several Coax/HDMI/RCA cable connections.  May include homemade stand (made of 2x4s and 4x4s, with 2 shelves) if desired.  Asking $150 OBO

    • Green wool hooded cloak.  Great Condition!  Hunter green.  Hood is lined with a lighter blue.  Rest of cloak is unlined.  Has embroidery stitching at both shoulders - a celtic knot.  Has brown suede at clasp area (but no clasp).  No longer need. Asking $150.

Hopefully we'll be able to get some really nice pictures and maybe some video of tomorrow's lesson on Shirley to post.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ides of March

Spring temperatures keep popping up here and there and make me believe spring really is on the way. 

Another indication?  The horses are shedding like crazy!  Seriously... one cannot wear fleece anywhere around them at the moment for fear of walking away looking like a wookie.

It's actually been nice enough recently to have 2 rides in the outdoor arena at iTolt.  This past Sunday was one of them.  Grand plans to do a jumping session outside were more or less nixed.  With everything being completely mud-covered (another Spring indication), no one has gotten their usual turnout time.  First ride outside?  Breezy and overcast?  Coming off little turnout?  Fit Thoroughbreds?  Yeah... quite the volital mix!  Spider kind of lost her cookies.  Not in a hateful way just in her way of telling us, VERY loudly, that she NEEDED to GO!  Go where?  Who cares... just GO!  Both Ella and Anita did a good job of getting her fairly focused.  I had another ride on her yesterday outside and she was still quite convinced that it was go time but she settled even better.  Afterwards I turned her loose in the indoor and she rolled then proceeded to run/buck for several minutes.  Silly girl.  Shirley did really well on Sunday.  Well enough to end with a couple jumps (though we left the grid as poles on the ground).  She's living at iTolt full time for the moment and is making good progress with the additional workouts.  Both girls had a couple lessons with Emily Abbate last week.  They did great and both Anita and I are anxious to see them continue to grow and learn.

Side note, Shirley is LOVING the extra work.  She's becoming more and more a pocket pony.  I'm really having fun with both of them and the attitude change (from disinterest to enthusiastic curiosity) is really great to experience.

Yet another indication of Spring?  All the show bills and clinics that are popping up!  To have the time and finances to do them all would be amazing.  There's an upcoming schooling jumper show, a fun "eventing show", plus opening dates for the first few events of the season are rapidly approaching.  It's fun to look at everything going on in the area, if not a bit overwhelming to make a decision on what to attend and what skip this year.  This is an amazing area to live in as there is so much to choose from.  And even if there isn't something specific going on, there's always trail riding.  Cannot wait for the trails to be less muddy and take the girls out.

Only one new update with the SVF shows... Emily Abbate has agreed to be one of our dressage judges for the June 29th show!

Monday, February 25, 2013

February Recap

I guess since I haven't posted anything the entire month, I should recap what has happened.  In no particular order, February consisted of....

  • Beginning to finalize the details of the Serenity Valley Farm Horse Shows this year.  Added a complete class list to the website.  DLSC-sanctioned Dressage classes, all 3 Prix Caprilli tests (not DLSC), Combined Tests from Ground Poles through Preliminary, and Jumper classes from 2' to 4', including 2 Gambler's Choice Payback classes.  Still have quite a few details to nail down, but the show is starting to take shape.  Hope to see a lot of turnout at the first one on June 29th!
  • Spider's training has taken off!  Had a slight issue with her feet that kept her off work for a few days, but she's now doing better than ever!  Very sound, getting some LOVELY trot and lateral work and even some softness in the canter.  And she's doing beautifully in her jumping.  Ella jumped her yesterday and did a fantastic job.
  • Shirley has spent the last 2 weekend's at iTolt so we can get her going again.  And going she is!  The mare is so smart and talented, that within 1 workout, she's back to where she was in December and progressing rapidly.  I jumped her on Saturday after a bit of flatwork with Anita and Shirley nearly jumped me out of the tack!  Major power in that girl!  Oh and I walked her a bit bareback after our jumping session yesterday.  She's such a good girl!
  • Life at the farm continues.  Plenty to do with the slightly warmer temps that's for sure.  The boys go to Freezer Camp within the month.  The girls are starting to lay eggs again.  And we have a new arrival: a cat I'm calling Boots.  Pretty friendly, very vocal.  I honestly haven't looked to see if Boots is a boy or a girl but he/she has one of those fat cat faces and is black with a white spot on the forehead, white on the chest and 4 white feet (thus "Boots").  I think if I didn't have Phoebe, Boots may become an indoor kitty.
  • The roommate is moving back to town this coming weekend.  I'm tempted to try to find another, but it would have to be a good fit, of course.  Willing to trade SOME rent for chores.  1-2 bedrooms plus access to pretty much the rest of the house and barn.  Must be ok with cats and hairy/slobbery/loveable dogs.  Does not HAVE to do anything with the farm animals if they don't wish to.  If you know of anyone that might be a good fit, let me know.
I think that's about it for the update.  I need a good camera so I can take more pictures (the camera on my phone isn't great at all).  Maybe from the tax return (after of course the set amount for bills)?  But until that time, here are 2 recent pics... Shirley investigating the pretty pony in the mirror (which she kept nickering at), and Boots.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Shirley the Super Star

I am so excited about Shirley!  I hope this post does her justice and not just a bunch of babble.

I signed up for a group lesson in Richmond with Nadeem Noon.  I've known Nad for years, watched him ride and coach at events, but until now have never taken a lesson with him.  I'm so glad I finally got the chance.

The plan, of course, didn't go according to ... well... the plan.  The plan was to take Spider.  She'd done a wonderful jump school with Ella last weekend and was doing great through the week.  Unfortunately, after a good workout on Thursday, I went back on Friday to do another session leading up to the clinic today.  Unfortunately, Spider was off and we had to make alternate plans.

Of course Shirley hasn't been in regular work for quite a while, despite being amazing a couple weeks ago during a trial ride.  We weren't entirely sure taking her would work, if she'd settle enough to in a group lesson setting, but decided to take a chance.  As insurance, thanks to Jen, we loaded up Noble for the ride as well. If Shirley had a major meltdown, we could tack up Noble and I could still get a bit of a lesson.

No worries -- Shirley, while showing her green side a bit, was a rock star!!  We missed a bit of the flatwork warm up, but really... she was very good and I'm so proud of her!

The video below is the last exercise of the lesson.  I certainly need some work, but I'm so proud of Shirley.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Show updates - already!

As posted last time, there will be 2 Serenity Valley Farm Horse Shows this year.  That hasn't changed.  But the dates have.

Serenity Valley Farm Horse Show I is now Saturday, June 29th (previously reported as June 8th).
Serenity Valley Farm Horse Show II is still on for Saturday, October 12th.

Both are still being held at Twin Towers Park in Fairborn and both are still including Dressage, Combined Test and Jumper classes (with 2 Gambler's Choice payback classes) and possibly including Cross Country Schoolling with the new bank and water complexes available.

A complete class list will be posted on the website, which I'm in the process of giving a MAJOR makeover and am VERY close to completing, but I wanted to make sure the new dates were out so folks could include them in their plans.  I know I'm already looking at calendars and thinking of what I'd like to go to.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Exciting News! Serenity Valley Horse Shows coming soon

Wow, it's well into January already.  I slacked off again keeping up the farm blog.  I need to do better because there's a LOT going to be happening this year.

Probably the most exciting news is that we are going to be organizing 2 Serenity Valley Horse Shows at Twin Towers Park in Fairborn -- Saturday, June 8 and Saturday, October 12.  Each show will consist of Dressage, Combined Test and Jumper classes.  The dressage classes will be sanctioned by DLSC and points towards DLSC Year End awards can be earned at these shows.  We're still working finalizing show bill/prize list but this is what we know so far.

The Dressage portion of the show will include all the regular DLSC classes:
  • Intro Tests A, B, C (split by Jr/Sr as possible)
  • Training Tests 1, 2, 3 (split by Jr/Sr as possible)
  • USEA Eventing Tests - Beginner Novice through Training level (specify test on entry)
  • First Level Tests 1, 2, 3
  • Percentage Class - Second thru Fourth Level USDF only
The CT classes will include from Ground Poles thru Preliminary.  The October show will also offer a CCI* CT for those gearing up for the CCI* at MSEDA the following weekend who want to practice their dressage and show jumping.

The Jumper classes will range from 2' up to mirror the jumping levels of the CT divisions.  In addition, we will have a Low and a High Gambler's Choice.  Low will run from 2' to 3' and be held between the Beginner Novice and Novice divisions.  High will run from 3' to 4' and be the last class of the day.  Both classes will be 50% PAYBACK (minimum 5 entries to be payback).

Limited stabling will also be available and possibly cross country schooling, including the new water and bank complexes.

Stay tuned for more details as we get them figured out.  Of course we'll also be looking for help for both shows!  If you can offer some help either with paperwork, scribing, timing or jump crew (or any other of the myriad of jobs that go into hosting a horse show), please let me know at!  Unlike the other DLSC shows, I don't have a barn full of students/parents to pool from for help (though I do have a wonderful partner in crime for this venture, and I'm sure some of the iTolt folks will be able to help).  But as we all know, horse shows are definitely labor intensive.

I'm in the process of revamping the Serenity Valley Farm website itself.  In terms of the horse shows, I'll be posting the show bills, entry forms and all the pertinent information on the website so stay tuned!