Thursday, December 17, 2015

Dressage Clinic with Natalie Hinnemann



When we trailer more than a couple hours, the Fancy Pony gets stiff in the neck.  In fact, you can feel how the lower neck muscles get hard and knotted...


It took a while for this to make itself clear to me.

And, finally, I understood another piece of the puzzle that was missing...
How do you work through that sort of knotted mess once you get to the show?


So, I trailered 6 hours away to attend a clinic...
Fancy Pony wasn't the only Arabian there, but I'm pretty sure she was THE smallest mount...
And, of course, everyone cooed over her innate adorableness!

As expected, the Fancy Pony arrived tight and stiff in the neck and she was not her usual, soft self.  The head tossing reappeared.  The shoulder throwing was back.  And I had coaching to teach me how to work through it!


It was a beautiful day in South Dakota!
I warmed up and then walked the perimeter of the ring as I listened to Natalie Hinnemann finish up with the rider before me.
I liked her coaching style immediately.  It was focused, but her voice was soft and soothing - as if she was actually doing the riding rather than just coaching from the middle of the ring...


Whisper cooperated by producing all of the inconsistencies that I wanted to address.  All of those inconsistencies boiled down to connection and "thoroughness".  I had figured that part out, but I couldn't seem to work through it on our less spectacular days...


Natalie started by just watching us ride, then brought us onto a 20 meter circle.
The lesson was pretty basic, but the concepts were so vital!
It felt like we were riding our 20 meter circle with 10 meter bend.  Natalie constantly reminded me to bring Whisper's shoulders inside the circle.  Basically, we were riding circle in shoulder-in.  Then we would carry on to the corner and do the same in a 10 meter circle.
We would work the circle until Whisper softened into the contact and filled my outside rein, then we would ride to the next corner in shoulder-in, then ride the circle again.  We lived in shoulder-in.
Then, we would carry on down the straight line and add a touch of brilliance!  And I could FEEL how fancy the princess is!


Natalie poses with us for a picture during a walk break!

We moved on a little.  We continued to live in shoulder-in, but we added leg yield to the mix.  By living in shoulder-in, I was gaining more control over all 4 quadrants of Whisper's body.
We maintained shoulder-in through transitions. And, wouldn't you know, by focusing on maintain the positioning through the transition, I found us making those transitions in slow motion!

With lots of help, we started working through our biggest block, and I'm excited to move forward to the next one!
I had a dream a while back that I was riding Whisper down the long side in shoulder-in, then easy as pie, stepped into half-pass to the centerline.  I feel that reality is closer than ever!

You KNOW I'll be back to clinic with Natalie again!!













Thursday, December 10, 2015

we schooled cross-country back in October...

And old demons were cake!
And new demons arose!  And it was all because of my own sucky riding!
cold snap, back pain, and lack of looseness in the rider...


Some of my favorite moments while schooling....




HEADED TO THE DOWN BANK
me:  Hey, we're cantering to the down bank!  Yay!
her:  I love cantering!  I love down banks!  I love cross country!
me:  Maybe we should trot before we get to that down bank.
her:  I love cantering!  I love down banks!  I love cross country!
me:  I insist we trot before that down bank.
her:  I love cantering!  I love down banks!  I love cross country!
me:  Hey, lady!  I said we're trotting!
her:  Nope.  We're going to canter that sucker!  I've got this! You just sit there and hang on!!
me:  Are you kidding me??
her:  Nope.  I've got this!
(arrive AT the down bank)
me:  *just riding through it*
her:  maybe I should have trotted? (inserts tiny stutter step) - Nope, never mind!  (landing) I've got this at the canter, too!




TAKING ON THE SCARIEST BENCH EVER (schooled BN last year, it was a fight to get over every single time)
me:  OK, here we go!  Own this bench!
her:  Oh, yeah!  I'm owning this!
(did she even bother to look at it?)
(coming around to take on the Novice version)
me:  *just riding any other jump*
her:  Bring it on!  I'm the baddest pony there ever was!  Look at me own this thing!




A HOUSE WE NEVER SUCCESSFULLY NEGOTIATED
me:  Yup, I know you've got this, because you find this sort of thing inviting.  Just riding!
her:  CHOMP-CHOMP-CHOMP! GIVE ME THE HOUSE!
me:  Ho there, lady!  Can you half halt a little?
her:  CHOMP-CHOMP! MINE!!
me:  Um - HELLO!  Running through my hands like this is completely unaccepta-----
her:  *runs through hands and charges over the house*
me:  .....well, I guess on the upside, we jumped it...  Now, about that rudeness!!




There was much larking over many other obstacles that just weren't a big deal.
There was a "flower box" that was OK at BN, but the Novice level just wasn't happening.
The water was, of course, a grand adventure, as always!  Snorkeling continues to happen.  I just think of it as stretching her back...


Yes. Snorkeling.
She shoves her face under the water up to her noseband and trots like that, dragging her face in the water!!
...I should really get pictures some day...

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Arabian Sport Horse Nationals 2015 - Day 5: Training Level Dressage

The test itself was not the exciting part of this game...  It was, honestly, mediocre.  Not bad.  Just not spectacular.


Some local friends had come to cheer me on, and they were right there at the ring when I exited.
Another friend competing, went RIGHT after me, so I stayed to watch her test!
(That test is another story, and not mine to tell)




So, after all the excitement was done, we headed back to the barn.  And the volunteer stopped me on my way out to check my bit and any whip or spurs (which I didn't have).  It never occurred to me that she might be waiting...  She told me, "I was wondering when you were finally going to come over.  I watched to make sure you weren't wiping any blood off or anything!"  OOPS!




Of course, she totally understood me wanting to watch my friend's ride, and it wasn't like I had actually done anything wrong... But I felt like such a jerk!
I guess at Nationals, it's not random - EVERYONE gets checked!






*note*
I tried to upload some pictures, but technology hasn't been cooperating, so this one is going up media-free because I'm so tired of waiting to get it sorted out!!


More stories in the queue, plenty more opportunities for media...



Thursday, November 12, 2015

Arabian Sport Horse Nationals 2015 - Day 4: Arabian Working Hunter 14.2 and Under, Arabian Sport Horse Under Saddle ATR, and Arabian Hunter Hack ATR

NOTE: I tried to round up media, but I guess it wasn't a good media day that day...
The getting all the words on "paper"...
I apologize if I was too verbose...  THIS is day 4.....


..................................................................................................................


This turned out to be the longest and least fun day at the show...


Of course, for every horse entered in Arabian Working Hunter 14.2 and Under, there were 2 courses, and usually a warm-up round.  I don't know how many horses were in the class, but it went on F O R E V E R!!


I decided the warm-up round wouldn't hurt us any, so I piloted the Fancy Pony around, unjudged, and she nailed every single lead on landing!!  It felt PERFECT!
There was some chaos around announcing and what was actually going on...
In order to keep things running smoothly, I came out after my warm up round to let another competitor get their warm up in.  Then, for the sake of time efficiency for everyone, decided to stay in the ring and ride my first and second judged rounds back-to-back.


I heard the ring attendant convey my information over to the powers that be, and I was told to go ahead and begin!
I picked up my canter circle, established a very steady, confident canter, and headed to my course!  I knew Whisper was going to go over everything without a glance, so I merely focused on landing our leads.  And we blew at least half of them...  I was able to get a couple trot lead changes, but in one corner, she thoroughly blew me off and refused to even consider changing.  Rather than have an ugly argument in the show ring, I decided to just counter-canter to the next line...  Compared to my warm-up round, it was appalling...  What did I do that messed us up??


Well, if you dwell on the line you just rode, you can't focus on the line ahead of you, so I promptly moved on to keeping my focus forward.
I finished my course, and came down to the walk until the judges were ready for my second round.
I was nodded on, and as I cleared the first fence, I heard the announcer tell the world that I was riding my first course.


REALLY?  I totally lost my groove.  Was I being judged as if I was riding my first course?  Because if I was, I was going to be marked on the WRONG course!  What am I supposed to do now?  I can't very well ask the judge as I ride down my line!
I don't know how long it took me to decide the only thing I could do was ride my second round like I owned it and just try to sort it out later, but I'm sure it didn't help my round while I worked through all the nonsense...


I think I landed on ONE correct lead...  It was as if Whisper thought it was a fun game to swap leads over every fence...  I'm really not sure what was going on.  It was probably just the pressure getting to me.  Knowing this one thing that really hurts our performance...  Focusing on it too hard...  Overthinking every move...


We were jogged in as reserve for our first round (that would NOT be reserve champion), and we weren't jogged at all for our second round.


We retacked and headed in for the flat, which I insisted was spectacular!
Well, we didn't make Top Ten...
I was sad, but not really surprised...


..................................................................................................................


We headed over to the main arena for Sport Horse Under Saddle ATR.  For the uninitiated, this is an Arabian breed invented class...  Walk-trot-canter on the rail, perhaps a lengthening each direction.  Shown in dressage or hunter tack.  I'm not sure any of us are actually sure what the judges are looking for...
There were 61 horses entered in the class, so we were riding in a section of 20-ish, and hoping to make the cut!

I went in and gave it everything I had!  I asked the Fancy Pony to be as fancy as she has ever been!
I felt like she was consistent, but she may have dropped behind my leg for all of a stride or 2...
As far as I was concerned it was a beautiful ride!
But, it wasn't my day, and we didn't make the cut.

Later, there was some discussion that 8 horses should have been moved forward from each cut, and only 6 were moved forward.  Regardless, we still wouldn't have made the cut...

THEN, it was going to be another half an hour before they started us up for Hunter Hack ATR.
So, we hoofed it back to the barn for a short rest...

..................................................................................................................

It was already feeling like a long day, and we'd spent most of it just standing around...
We ran another hunter hack class, but the competition was super stiff!
It ran just like the last hunter hack class.. you know - where we won a top ten??
Well, it wasn't in the cards this time, and we didn't make top honors.  I was still proud of all of our rides!  For crying out loud I WAS RIDING AT NATIONALS!!!
All we had to do was survive one more dressage test.......


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Arabian Sport Horse Nationals 2015 - Day 3: Intro Jumper and Arabian Hunter Hack Open

I had to tie up my braids again, since the heinous beast raked some of them out the day before.
See?  Heinous beast...
So, I was up early to get things together.  Then, we waited for our class...
We actually had spectators for the jumper classes!!




The rules weren't very clear, so I chatted with another competitor to confirm the goal of my class...  This wasn't going to be "get around as fast as possible and clean"...
This was "get around clean and as close to optimum time as you can"!


So, I had 70 seconds to eat up around the course without going over.  I had a plan, but I wasn't exactly sure how it was going to play out...


I had planned all of my tiny turns to save time, but what if I was going too fast?


So, I considered where on the course I could look over my shoulder and check the timer...
And off we went!


Over jump 1, then a rollback to jump 2...  No hurry here.  We could have cut it so much tighter if I wanted to...


Around and back to get to 3 and 4... Maintaining a relaxing pace... leave out the shortcut...


Cruise over 5A and B....  quick turn to 6...
Peek at the clock on landing...
Still too fast....
Hop over 7, and take the long way around before jump 8....
Check the clock one last time...


Now, time to show off!
Hop over 8, then take the short route, spinning around the 5B element and diving between the jumps on my way to fence 9.  Not running, but lengthening the stride a little just to keep covering ground...
And we ended on 67.75 seconds!!




I couldn't get a copy of the video, but I encourage you to watch it here on the Rock Solid Arabians Facebook Page:


https://www.facebook.com/Rock-Solid-Arabians-113607098730787/videos/




Friends, we took first!
I still can't believe it!  We won!!


Whisper says she definitely loves the jumpers!!
Champion Intro Jumpers!



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


We played dress up and got some pictures taken.  I tried to update facebookland.  We must have rested back at the barn for a little bit, but I can't really remember....


Then, we went back for Hunter Hack Open.



The class felt BIG.  I was actually aware this time that my ride was streaming over the internet!
I tried to tune that out and just plain SHOW OFF!



We started with the usual walk/trot/canter around the ring.  You know something is going right when it's boring...  I mean, there really isn't much to say...  Quiet transitions, and get your leads - consistency throughout...



But, it's also the OPEN class.  I'm in the same class as Arabian Sport Horse Legend: ORATION++++//
BTW, those +'s and /'s are indicative of awards won from his show record.  He's kind of a big deal and pretty much wins every class he walks into...



WHAT was I THINKING??



We all lined up to take our turns over the 2 jumps in figure 8 style and hand-gallop to our halt...
My goal: clean, quite jumps and a distinguishable difference in hand-gallop...

The jumps were clean and quiet...  The hand-gallop felt distinguishable!  We halted a tad bit late, but I didn't have to fight for it.



I got back in line to await my fate...
I was busy chatting with my neighbors when they started announcing the Top Ten, so I was self interrupted by my shock when they called my number!!




Happy Birthday to ME!  We took National Top Ten in Hunter Hack Open!!





I followed the direction...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Arabian Sport Horse Nationals 2015 - Day 2: Green Working Hunter

Oh, the fun!




I groaned when the alarm went off...
But the braider I hired had agreed to share her tips and tricks with me, and I was eager to learn how to rock hunter braids.


mornings......



The braid down went as I anticipated.
I learned I've been doing forelocks wrong my entire life!
I also learned that I have the basics for tying up hunter braids, I just need more practice, and to push up from the bottom to get the right bump.
And, then, there is Secret Weapon: QUIK BRAID (more on this later...)



And tails!  I've stressed about braiding Whisper's wispy tail, but now, I know the trick!  A couple anchor braids makes things sooooo much easier!!




So, with lovely braids, we moved on to tacking up, dressing, and warming up for THE first (and our only) class of the day!




In the warm-up, there were lots of horses stopping at the warm up fences, so I figured there must be something intimidating about them...  I never did figure out whatever it was, though, because Fancy Pony hopped right over them!  She really felt great!


We don't have a lead change yet, so I currently rely on landing my leads in order to get through a hunter class...


Well, our first round, we had to go to some simple lead changes....  Despite our warm-up and getting her focused on landing the lead of my choosing, it just doesn't always work out that way...


The course was also rather interesting!  There wasn't a single related distance. The course designer tried to establish a course that allowed us to show our hunters the their best advantage, whether they were 13 hh or 17hh!




We went back in for our second course, and we landed every single lead!!!  It felt like a really pretty ride!




Then, of course, we pulled saddles for the trot...
And we waited... and waited... and waited...




Whisper started shaking her head and neck.  Each time, she shook it harder and harder.  We figured she was sweating and it was itching, so we tried to help her out by scratching along her crest.  And she would lean in as hard as we would let her!  There was some serious itchiness!!




Finally, we trotted, re-tacked, then headed in for the flat portion of our division.
It was a pretty uneventful ride where the Fancy Pony just felt dreamy to ride!
Then, we stood in the line up and waited.......  you know the drill...   and waited...


And after what is always an agonizing time, they started to announce the Top Ten....
Arabian Sport Horse Nationals 2015 - Top Ten Arabian Green Working Hunter



And we joined the ranks of Nation Honors with a Top Ten in Arabian Green Working Hunter!!


So... remember those braids I paid for?
As SOON as the bridle was off, that mare brought her hoof to her neck and raked out the entire middle section of her braids!!
I don't think I even got a decent picture of those beautiful, perfect braids....
I had hopes they would last for 2 or 3 days...
And I get one class out of them....

*le sigh*

It turns out, the sensitive chestnut mare is really sensitive to QUIK BRAID!
Who knew??





Monday, September 28, 2015

Interruption...

It's not always rainbows and sunshine and unicorns and kittens...


...it should always be kittens...




I'm not entirely sure what's going on, but I can't find an appropriate place to spill it.
I just got home from the highest week of my life!
...And, somehow, I feel like a failure...




I will continue to recap the adventure of a lifetime, but only after I put down this counterintuitive state of being...




Little things keep nagging me until they have consumed me...

Like the fact that the Fancy Pony remains lean... I wish I could make her plump.  But she takes 3 days to eat a meal...




The phrase "work on consistent connection" continues to plague my dressage tests.  Making me feel like a failure as a rider...  Why is this so hard for me to accomplish?




While I was out of town, our own dog (a chocolate lab of advancing years) suddenly killed 4 of our chickens in the space of an hour.  Has she gone senile?  In the fading light, did she suddenly think they were interlopers that didn't belong in the yard?  I'll never have those answers...



I had made plans to hunt the Fancy Pony this season!  It's going to be grand!!
So, why can't I make an actual hunt until November?  How did these other things get on my calendar??  Why can't I seem to keep these things prioritized?




My house feels like it has been turned upside down.  I can't seem to keep my stuff organized.  Horse stuff... Sewing stuff... What in the world is going on with my laundry??



Is this just a reaction to being gone for over a week?


My husband says for moments of intense happiness that I experience, it is only a matter of time before I succumb to moments of equally intense despair.  Is that all this is?  Just a figment of my mind that has nothing to do with reality?




There was a discussion about the Intro Jumper class that I had entered.
What I thought I was entering (the way it was set up at the time I entered online) was Novice Jumper (running at 2'9"ish?) and was a recognized class.
It turns out that a decision was made to run the class instead as Intro Jumper and at 2'3"ish.  Instead of fasted time, it was run at optimum time (which actually might be harder!).  It was not recognized for anything.  Many opinions that I read on the discussion (which, of course, took place in a Facebook group) seemed to think very little of this class.  It's merely a training height and should be used as such.  It shouldn't count for anything.  Does that mean any accomplishment in this class should be discounted?  Why do I care, either way?
I didn't feel ready to enter a speed jumper class at 3'3", so this was my next best thing.  It turns out the heights were all  lowered in the rest of the jumping classes, too.  Should I have adjusted my entry accordingly?  Why didn't I get the email referenced that explained this change?  Why didn't I find the discussion until it was all over?  Why do I feel betrayed?



Basically, I'm just a jumbled mess of emotion right now, and there doesn't seem to be any logical reasoning behind it.



To top it all off, I had a crappy Monday morning which is going to cost me money I really didn't want to spend on something that I thought was already taken care of.  More feelings of failure...  Ugh!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Arabian Sport Horse Nationals 2015 - Day 1: Training Level Dressage

Whisper arrived at the show grounds with a huge lump of knotted muscles on both sides of her neck...
Ugh!!
Can we do a long haul to a show without **something**?


A friend offered some reiki (sp?) and massage, which seemed to help!


Monday was a "settle in" day where we unloaded everything from the trailer and moved into the tack and dressing room stalls.  Those stalls would remain organized chaos for the remainder of the week...  In spite of our best intentions...

Reality hadn't sunk in, yet...

Tuesday, we rode our first dressage test, first thing in the morning, then had all day to school the jumps in the jumper ring.  It was looking like madness in that area, so I decided to wait until everyone was headed into their Sport Horse Under Saddle classes to school at the last minute.  It turned out to be a great plan for me.  We didn't need much schooling.  The Fancy Pony didn't look at anything except this big, airy oxer (which must have been set at something like 3'3" based on what we jumped the rest of the week), but once she got a good look at it, she happily hopped on over it without any more hesitation!

Note to self: start walking around and sizing up the jumps before mounting up - your eye has changed and the bigger jumps don't look huge anymore...
Poor pony...

I thought we'd had a really nice dressage test, but when we finally got our tests (the next morning) it was obvious the judges were not impressed with our performance.

I'm finally putting my finger on the block in my dressage. When Whisper *offers* to come through, I feel like we can do amazing things!  We have established "submission", but I'm still struggling with this consistent contact.  I don't have a way to get her to 'give me her back' if she isn't offering it.
On one test, the judge kept saying she was above the bit, then, on my stretchy trot circle, wrote "this is where you should be for the rest of your test."  YIKES!

I'm sure the knotted neck muscles didn't help...
We tried to make is an early night so that we could meet the braider at stupid-dark-thirty...  For the first time in my life, I was paying for braids, and I wanted to glean any and all tricks that I could!!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Another Episode Of: Jacq Is Completely Losing It!

Arabian Sport Horse Nationals.
It's real for me.
It's becoming more real every day!




I vacillate between giddy and nauseous...




I have never attended a competition of this caliber...


(I apologize for the lack of media - I can't seem to get the photos inserted today - blame it on the work computer...)










The list of things that need done seems to be getting longer as time gets shorter...


Whisper needs trimmed...
I need to pick up hay...
I need to purchase grain and pick up mats...
Trailer still needs packed...
Groceries need purchased and food prepared...




At times, I'm completely paralyzed by the list of things that need my attention!
What am I going to forget?
What if it's something I *really* need?


How can I possibly be leaving for the East Coast in 2 DAYS?????

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tally Ho!


What do you do when preparing for the biggest competition of your life to date?
Throw everything out the window and go for a hunting lesson!

The Fort Leavenworth Hunt Club offers “8 Easy Lessons” as an introduction to foxhunting.  I have dreamed of riding with the hunt since I read the book “Cinnabar the One o’ Clock Fox” in my youth.  I don’t know how many times I’ve read the book, but my copy was well worn before I lost track of it…

My first lesson started out feeling much like a drill team practice.  It was all about proper spacing.  I need to see the hocks of the horse in front of me between my horse’s ears.  This is not as easy as it sounds.  What they didn’t say is “If you can see the horse’s heels in front of you, you are getting left behind!”
The second part of the lesson was “TROT all the things!”  Always trot.  Long trot, short trot, middle trot…  Trot!  Trotting will conserve your horse over the course of a day of hunting.  We practiced trotting in line.  We practiced trotting over jumps in a line.  We practiced trotting around trees in a line.

OK, everyone else practiced it at the trot…  Whisper decided, “This is just dumb!” and proceeded to play the game at the world’s slowest canter! Rather than get left behind, I finally just let her canter.  I figure, on the hunt, she’ll figure out how to trot when she gets tired….  *IF* she gets tired…

Because, if I learned nothing else, I learned that the most important thing on the hunt is not to get left behind!!



We did the tree exercises 2x2...  then 3x3...  Oh, how fun!!
Tandem jumping was involved, as well!  The Fancy Pony didn't think that was anything new...

All in all, it was a great time, and I can't wait to go back!  Hunting sounds like it will be a BLAST!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Another XC Schooling... BIG News!

There will be video to come, of course...  Once it is downloaded and edited...


In the meantime, there are some pics to wet your appetite...


First, there was this obligatory selfie before heading out to school....
Me, Fancy Pony, Baby Dax, and A

There was some practice over a few Novice jumps (and, to be honest, they didn't feel any different than the BN jumps).
A made the observation that Whisper jumps differently over the Novice fences.  Like, she actually puts in an effort.
Except maybe for this one...
The Novice Wall
...and maybe the mushroom top....




But there was this one...  And it felt incredible!
Then, later, we were hanging out next to it when I realized......
This thing is bigger than I thought!!

Boathouse after the water
Same boathouse...  I'm 5'6"...

Now, had I realized the thing was quite this big, I would NEVER have asked the pony to attempt it!
On the other hand, we would come around the corner, and she kept looking at these jumps with interest.  She was feeling so forward, willing, and cooperative, we decided to give it a shot!

She was committed as soon as we were out of the water!  It was incredible!
Pretty sure we'll be trying this again...


Friday, August 7, 2015

Are You CRAZY??

Yes.
The Fancy Pony is crazy.
And it's pretty darn funny...


So, C takes care of the ponies, and she is incredibly amazing!
She has this system down when she feeds the herd dinner.
She puts her pony's feed up in the round pen.
She then lets only him into that field, refastens the electric tape, and closes him in once he has meandered his way into the round pen.


Well, Whisper would usually be next in line to start eating.
So, she's videotaping the ho-hum dinner routine.  Fastens the electric tape.
Starts following her pony up to the round pen...


THEN, there is this bump and all you see id a flash of white legs!
It turns out that Whisper didn't want to wait for her turn.
So, she just JUMPED the electric tape to follow C up to the feed room!!
3'6" ?  No problem!






This mare is crazy!
That's my kind of crazy, too!


I see new and exciting jumps in our future...
Foxhunting, anyone?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Take A Ride On The FANCY PONY!

Please enjoy riding along with us on a cross-country schooling adventure!

Link: http://youtu.be/8Tofs2sPpzc

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

What To Eat At A Horse Show?

I felt compelled to cross-post this one...

I constantly wonder how I can eat better at a horse show.

My horse show fare used to look something like this:
Breakfast - Lamar's Donuts (it was kind of a tradition!)
Lunch - hotdog, chips, and pop from the concession stand
Dinner - wherever we went out to eat once the day was done...

Dehydration was a constant companion!

This did NOT support my performance!!

So, what do I do now? How can I eat better?

WATER!!
The first change I made was to fill a large water bottle, keep it near me at almost all times, and drink from it EVERY time I check my horse's water, head to warm up, or come out of a class.
If you have a groom, hand them your water bottle and give them explicit instruction: "Make sure I'm constantly drinking this water!"

I added HUMAN food planning to my show prep list. I mean, no one forgets hay and horse feed... But, I always ended up at the show grounds with nothing to nourish myself!

I started planning travel-friendly meals. For single-day shows, I'd make up a batch of breakfast burritos to share with the whole crew instead of buying donuts. They packed well in large, flat tupperware and retained heat long enough to get to the barn. I wraped them individually in papertowels to keep them from sticking together.

A power-breakfast was a great start for me!

I'd like to share my current meal-plan for eating away from home.
I am NOT a nutritionist (not yet, at least).
However, I strive for balanced nutrition and minimal processing. I know there are places I will fall short, and that's OK. I hope you get value from this meal plan!

THE MEALS
BREAKFAST:
Shakeology - with almond/coconut milk, ice, peanut butter, and spinach

SECOND BREAKFAST:
Banana
2 Hard-Boiled eggs
Cheddar cheese stick
Baby Carrots

LUNCH:
Veggie Wrap (with mixed greens, broccoli, and carrots)
or
Turkey Wrap (with mixed greens and cheese)

SNACK:
Diced Melon (or Strawberries, or Pineapple)
No-Bake Energy Bites

DINNER:
Grilled Chicken Salad

In my next post, I'll share my personal touches on each of the recipes and how I make them work for me!
What do you eat when you're away from home?
Please share with me in the comments!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Quick and Dirty

Stuffs is happening, and I'm not making the time I need to sit down and write!!

Baby Dax jumped 2'6" with A in their last lesson, and it was so lovely!  The were both looking confident and comfortable.  It makes me so excited!!

Saturday morning, we made plans to ride before the heat set in.  Instead, a thuderstorm moved in...
So, we bit the bullet and met at the barn anyway.  As soon as the storm cleared, we tacked up.  With the arena a mess, we just headed down the road to see what we could find!
We had the loveliest road ride and found some tracks that could work nicely for conditioning!
It rained on us at least twice, and Baby Dax and Fancy Pony were less than impressed when the rain was pelting in our faces while A and I said, "Carry on anyway!"

Plans were hatched for some endurance riding...

Pony Spa Day happened afterward, where we got rained on at least 3 more times while also experiencing a chunk of muggy heat somewhere in the middle.

Media from cross-country schooling has made it from the card to the computer and now must be edited so that it can be posted to the internet!
...bad blogger I am...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Short Story

Coach put us through our Paces over the weekend.
It was our first XC schooling since LAST YEAR!!

Seriously, where does the time go??

I knew as we went over our first jump that the Fancy Pony was ON.
She felt forward, brave, and biddable!  Not the slightest hesitation!
We ran through all the beginner novice stuff and only did a few novice jumps.  Coach wanted to be very careful not to undermine her confidence since she was doing so well.

We jumped some new jumps we had never seen before!  I just pointed and she went!  It felt.... EASY!

At the end of our practice, after we hopped over the BN stone wall, she was still feeling so incredible and full of steam.  I couldn't resist.  Coach wasn't there to ask, so I took it upon myself to circle around and take the Novice stone wall and call it a day.

Of course, the Brave Fancy Pony gobbled it up and kept on trucking - looking for the next challenge!

Sunday, we completed the Beginner Novice horse trial with some personal bests!
We brought home a hard won 6th place, and I couldn't be prouder!
double clean in stadium - could have cut the turns even more, if I'd wanted to...

Pictures, video, and gopro footage to come!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Single Steps...

So, the Fancy Pony and I have gone back to DRESSAGE SCHOOL.
According to our tests, she needs more submission and to "accept the bridle."

So, with some direction from Coach, we've addressed it.  And we keep practicing.

I focus on stabilizing my lats (Latissimus dorsi) in order to establish boundaries without pulling back with my hand.
...and to prevent me giving before she does...

She can be sassy about it, sometimes.  However, she is beginning to accept a little more direction.
We have been playing the transition game.
She can count to 10.
She can count to 5.

I changed the game.  She had to maintain that perfect trot for 5 *and* maintain the contact for the transition to happen.
She became sassy again.
Then, she figured out the rules and things became fun.

We started to dance!

I played with positioning.
Shoulder in at the walk.
Maintain the shoulder in positioning for 5 trot strides.
Transition back to the walk while maintaining the shoulder in position.

Free walk break.

Trot.  Just trot.  Just trot and maintain.  Just dance with me!
Canter!
Trot.
Canter 5 strides.
Trot 5 strides.
Canter 5 strides.

Trot.
Trot bigger!
trot fancier!
Trot littler.
Shoulder in.
Straighten out.
Trot like it's fun.
Turn on the quarter line.
Leg tield on step.
Straight.
leg yield 2 steps.
straight.
party trot!

Walk it out.

Gather the walk together.
Find the connection.
Shoulder in position.
Take one step off the rail.
(what do you mean?)
Just one step.
No, keep the shoulder in position.
(You mean canter like this?)
No, no.  Just take a deep breath.
Shoulder in position.
One step.  Outside hind across inside hind.
(like this?)
Exactly like that!
Take a good long walk break.

Other side.
Shoulder in.
One step.
(canter!)
Not exactly, but thank you for trying something!
Walk.
Bend the ribs.
One step.
(shoulder in more!!)
Nope.  Nice try.
And one last time.
Bend.
Shoulder in.
One step.
(I know this can't be right, but I'm doing it anyway)
That's EXACTLY right!!
More walk.
Lots of walk.

We played in the basic gaits a little more and called it one hell of a workout!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Have I Mentioned How Much I Love Grid Work?

Started with groundpoles.
It was time for Baby Dax to learn where to put his feet!

I made the grid simple enough: 1 stride - bounce - 1 stride
I wanted to work my position and release at the same time.

The ride started with me on Fancy Pony and A on Dax.  A and Dax have been working together and are developing a great rapport!
Whisper and Dax both worked through the groundpoles comfortably, so I played ground crew and started with the last element - changing it to a cross-rail.
Dax went through just fine, with only a tiny peek at the x.  His second and third time through, he nailed it.  Solid citizen.
One by one, we worked back until the grid was all cross-rails.
Both ponies took it in stride, and everyone was building great confidence!

A was particularly interested in building confidence over fences, so I suggested we trade horses.  She could get confident and comfortable on the reliable Fancy Pony!!

We left everything as cross-rails while we requianted ourselves with our new mounts.
Let the fun begin!!

We practiced finding the right canter, and A was feeling great about her gridwork!  Baby Dax had figured it out and would take himself into the grid unless I actively steered him somewhere else.  I think he likes the challenge...

We made the last element a small 2' vertical.  I knew Dax was perfectly capable of this since he had schooled starter cross country...

So inspire A, Dax and I went through first.  I mean, if Baby Dax will do it, she knows Whisper won't hesitate!
Well, Baby Dax did it!  He again peeked at the new element, but he hopped on over it!

We repeated this until everyone was feeling quite comfortable.  We practiced position, release, planning our exit before we entered...  Then, we made one more vertical out of the bounce.

I rode Dax through, and he kept running out at the last fence.  Why was he suddenly so off?
I continued to ponder, then I realized...
He changed his canter!
He was coming in with a longer canter now, and he was landing deep in the bounce which left him buried in the 1 stride!  He *could not* make the last jump!

I think while it was all X's, he had enough adjustability to compress his last stride, but changing the single element to a vertical was just too much!
So, I adjusted the striding and lengthened out the bounce and the 1-stride...  Paced it all off again...
We entered yet again, and guess who nailed the grid!!
Baby Dax was fantastic and willing!
Obviously, he wasn't trying to be naughty.  And the Fancy Pony happily adjusted to either pacing.

We ran through this until everyone felt comfortable.  I practiced riding straight and halting on Dax.  A practiced the same on Whisper.  She was feeling great on the Fancy Pony, so, I raised the last vertical one more time for them, and let her feel Whisper actually put in a little effort.  I'd say she was delighted!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Fine Ride on a Fine Day

After what felt like a year of rainy days…  Finally, I was back in the saddle!
I decided to take a casual warm up approach.

Those of you that have been following along may already know how much I enjoy practicing my walk, trot, and canter on the buckle and just let my horse decide where we go.  My only stipulation is that she remain in the gait I requested.  This was my warm up.
Those who have been following along may also know about the policy I put into place from the day I started riding the Fancy Pony regarding jumps.  If she approaches the jump on her own accord, we go over it.  Period.
When I set this policy in place, the sorts of jumps we would be approaching were, perhaps, 12”-18”.

There were several jumps set up around the arena at about 2’-2’3”.  No big deal, but not totally insignificant, either.

We walked all over the place.  We walked long diagonals.  We walked circles (sort of).
Then, we trotted.



We trotted circles (again, sort of), and diagonals.
And guess who approached a jump…

I didn’t even have to tell her what to do.  She just nonchalantly approached this 2’3” rail with a Christmas tree under it, and trotted on over it and out the other side.  All I did was post!
I thought, “OK, now that you’ve got that out of your system, we can continue this warm up.”
Then, she took herself to it and trotted it again!

When we moved on to cantering on the buckle, she had the most polite canter ever (while maintain a true and energetic canter) and ultimately took herself over a small vertical and the tree again!  At this point, I decided we had just about enough warming up (obviously she was ready for work), and got down to business.


It was a day of transitions.
10 trot steps – 10 walk steps – 10 trot – 10 walk
All while riding the circle
or the long diagonal
sitting the trot
Now, make it 5.
5 trot – 5 walk – 5 trot – 5 walk

So, my horse can count.  I have to change the number.
She was focused for me and tried her best to stay in the bridle and carry herself.  To carry us both, really…

Then came the canter work!
Maintaining this idea of keeping it together through the transitions, she stepped deep into the first canter.
And, oh holy cow could I feel the JUMP!
THIS is what the judges mean when they want to see more jump in the canter!
I *GET* it, now!!



I focused on maintaining rideability while keeping the jump in the canter.  I tried to set her up for quiet, balanced downward transitions (which we got about 80% of the time).
Back to the trot work and trot-walk-trot transitions, just to make sure it all still works…
And then, we were just done.
Walked out and cooled off.  I didn’t want to overdo it, and she was so incredibly focused and giving, I wanted to end on a good note.

Next ride will be musical ponies through jump grids…
But, after that, I’m going to try our canter-trot-canter transitions!!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

When it rains... and rains... and rains... and rains...

What do you do when it rains 24 days out of 30 in the month of May?

You let your pony put on weight...

Your mourn the missing sunshine...

You ride the road with friends!

Somehow, you manage to sweet talk said friends into helping you with a momentous task that you have been preparing to do for months...
oops!  I thought I was loading the video.  Look for it for real in my next post!!
That's right!  Finally made it happen!!

Aaaaand...  Then you get your friend started in the same direction of insanity!!
oops! I thought I was loading the video. Look for it for real in my next post!!
Wahoo!

...I'm still mourning that sunshine, though...



Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Baby Dax Goes XC Schooling...

Baby Dax only just started figuring out where to put his body and go over fences.  He actually looks like a horse that knows how to jump, now!

So, at the very last second, I decided to take him to the cross-country schooling!

Baby Dax is a young 4 years old, so I don't want to overwork him.  On the other hand, I want him to get out and see the world!  To that end, I planned to ride around with the crew, but only jump if he felt confident.

He started out quiet under saddle and attentive to his surroundings.  However, once he realized all these other horses were galloping and jumping in the warm up area, he started to lose his cool!!
I tried to keep him relaxed, but heaven forbid one of the horses leave our group!

All of a sudden, the warm up area emptied, so I made an executive decision to visit the lunge line.
Baby Dax ran around like a crazy beast for about 3 laps each direction, then settled into a confident strong trot.  He went where I put him, and even followed me as I moved our lunge circle around to different locations.

Since he seemed to have gotten his brain together, I moved our circle to the still-empty warm up jumps and put him over the little logs.  He jumped short the first time, and almost stepped on the far side of the log jump.  I was concerned about that, but he proved to me in the next couple jumps that he was a sharp cookie and a quick study.  He continued jumping over and out each time I presented him to the fence!  A couple time, he even took it at an angle!

I was already very proud of how well Baby Dax was accepting the new challenges, so I headed back to the trailer to let him catch his breath and relax before we went out to do it for real...

Go time!!
I hopped on the baby horse (who is much bigger than the Fancy Pony, I might add!!), and he settled down to business.  We started with trot and canter warm up with the group.  Then, as everyone else was headed for the first cross country jump, I decided we just needed to go over that one baby warm-up fence together...
Baby Dax left the group for me, went where I pointed him, sighted in on the jump, and trotted right over it!  He cantered out the other side, turned right when I asked him to, and we cantered back to the group.
It was a quiet, relaxed, ground-covering canter!  He wasn't hurrying back to the group.  I asked for some "come back" and got it!  I asked for a little more "go forward", and I got it!!

When it came time to take the first jump, I let him go investigate it.  He barely glanced at it, and chested right up to the log.  Hmmm...
Well, away we go and we trotted on up.  He sighted in, lined up for me...  and stopped.

Not one to take a solid jump from a standstill, I trotted a tiny circle and reapproached.  Our second approach was accompanied by a sound smack on the butt with my bat.  And he hopped akwardly over the fence.
Take 2, and he actually trotted with more confidence.
I asked for it one more time, and he cantered out the other side!
Yay, Baby Dax!  (that was going to be a recurring cry throughout the day)

The second jump was a coop in the trees set slightly downhill.  Baby Dax wanted no part of it.
Coach reminded me, "Jump it uphill, first!"
Baby Dax happily hopped over it up the hill, then came right back and accepted it down the hill, as well!
Yay, Baby Dax!

We headed to fence 3, a little baby roll-top thingy.  Our track record so far was not looking all that great...  I waited for our turn to approach, and I commited us!  Baby Dax never hesitated, but we arrived in an funky spot.  I bumped him in the last stride, and he hopped it a little vertically.  I was happy with that, and let him walk and watch.  We stood by for someone else's schooling.
And Baby Dax had a Baby Meltdown!
He started  extending and slamming one leg into the ground over and over, then the other.  It became like a rhythmic dance:
Right - Right - Right - Right - Right - Right - Right - Stand
Left - Left - Left - Left - Left - Left - Left - Stand
Right - Right - Right - Right - Right - Right - Right - Stand
Left - Left - Left - Left - Left - Left - Left - Stand
Think of it like a spanish walk...  In place...

Finally, we moved on.  While coached schooled some Beginner Novice and Novice fences, we stood again, trying to catch our breath.  Baby Dax was finally happy to stand still next to a pasture mate.  After a few minutes, I realized and said to the group, "I bet it's the sweat under the boots that has him upset!"
Then, he just laid down right there in the middle of the cross country course!  Baby Dax wanted to roll his sweaty body in the grass!!
I stepped off (not wanting to get crushed if the baby horse rolled anyway) and smacked that butt with my bat over and over and over until he finally stood up again.  Holy Cow!  Do I need this much excitement??
Baby Dax is comfortable on the ground

I mounted up and continued on.  As long as we were walking, we had no problems.  Trotting was even more fun!
We came to the baby bench, and Dax went "Nope" right before saying, "Ok, maybe so."
Have I mentioned how much I hate jumping from a standstill?  At least the stop was momentary this time.  We went around the trees and came at it again.  He jumped it rather lazily.  That wasn't going to get any better with one more approach, so I called it good and headed for the half-roll.  It's red.  It's set on a decline.  It looks big!
And Baby Dax ATE IT UP!

Then, he took a tiny upbank!  Then he struggled with the idea of a baby down bank...  And finally he trotted down the bank like he owned it!
Yay, Baby Dax!!

Standing around had him stomping again, so we pulled his boots (he'd shown us he could get over stuff, so he's likely be just fine without them).  We headed across the field to another set of jump that Coach told CG (Remember Cricket's Girl?) was a maxed out started fence...
It looked like a coop from my vantage point, so I approached as well...  Only to find out 3 strides out (about the same time Coach hollered at me) that it was a table!  A Beginnner Novice table!
Coach was hollering, "He's probably not ready for that one, Jacq!"
NOW you tell me!  Luckily we had plenty of room to change direction, and Baby Dax listened right up.

Next up came the related logs and the baby barn.  Standing and waiting, we had more stomping.  I guess taking the boots off didn't help.  When we started moving again, Baby Dax went right back to work and started looking for the jumps.  He trotted right into the line, cantered out of the line, and I went for the barn!
I had a canter, but I peeked at the barn, and he stopped.  Short circle and a trot approach got us over it, but his hind end came down early.  Because I pulled on his mouth in the air.  Oops!  Argh.
One last approach, and he sailed over the barn as I reached forward to give him the freedom he needed for his job!
Yay, Baby Dax!

The final fence on course looks like a huge log wall, but Dax trotted on over it like it was nothing!
Then, we headed to the water complex for more new experiences!

At the water complex, a yellow hose rane across the tan-grey gravel and into the muddy water.  I'm not sure which concerned Dax more.  The color changes were obviously an issue!
Since he wasn't sure about entering the water on that side of the pond, we went around to the other side, where I could take advantage of a rounded entry point.  Dax stepped gingerly into the water and walked all the way through.  I trotted around and did it again.  This time, he considered dropping and rolling in the middle!

Coach always says better to carry a crop and not need one than to need it and not have it...

After our second exit, I turned him around and he marched right back in!
Yay, Baby Dax!

We worked on trotting into the water, maintaining the trot *in* the water, and steering through that great resistance that is water.  Then, just for kicks, we hopped the little fence right out of the water!
Well, that's not exactly how it happened the first time...  He kind of just scrambled/slid over it the first time...
But, he found his bravery quickly and took the water and jump with confidence!  I was perfectly happy with that!

On our way back to the trailer, I decided to take one last hop over that log-wall...  I certainly had plenty of horse!!
As we approached in the trot, he saw the fence 5 strides out and asked if he could canter it.  I obliged.  He stepped into that ground eating canter that is so easy to ride and devoured the distance with ease.  He sailed over that fence and landed in the same quiet, confident canter.  The brakes worked with ease.  (He hasn't figured out that we can gallop the entire XC course, yet!).  He walked back to the trailer on a loose rein.
Baby Dax put in a hard day's work and looks pretty content with himself.

I offered him the chance to roll once I got his tack off, but apparently the urge had passed since he wasn't so sweaty anymore...
Silly Baby Dax...

Monday, May 4, 2015

Region 11 Off-Site Hunter/Jumper Championships - Sport Horse Extravaganza - 2015 Day 3 - Sunday


Hunter Hack ATR
I was still “in denial” that I was competing at a regional championship.  I rode into my class as if I owned it, and actually had a nice and uneventful flat ride.
We all lined up to take out jump line, and I ended up last.  I usually prefer to be closer to first…  I studied each ride.  I had understood the pattern to be: jump the line on the right lead, ride around the short end of the arena, and halt in front of the judge’s booth.
I started panicking when I watched rider after rider back several steps after the halt.  I confirmed with my neighbor that there was, in fact, no back after the halt.  OK. Mental melt-down averted.  Regardless, every horse backed up after the halt!  I was still a little confused, but I intended to own my halt.

One of these days, I will start to equitate...
Despite my best efforts, we landed out of our line on the left (WRONG) lead, and I tried to quietly convey to the Fancy Pony that I required a lead change.  Getting her down and back up was going to take a major discussion based on her responses to my subtle aids.  By this time, we were halfway around the short end, so I decided to save my amazing halt by not picking the fight over the wrong lead.  I know many would disagree with this choice, and I’m fine with that.  I knew which points I wanted to show off.  I didn’t want to lose my awesome halt because of a “discussion” after we had already blown the canter lead.  So, I finished my line (on the wrong lead) and halted within 2 steps from transitioning down from the canter.  Our halt was RIGHT in front of the judges booth. Moreover, we had ZERO back steps!

I took my place back in line and we all waited for the top 5 announcements… Much to my surprise and delight, we were called into the middle of the pack of Top 5 horses!!!
Alas, we did not earn Champion or Reserve.  However, I would have been disappointed if we had with that blown lead.  I was elated with our result, and we wandered back to the stalls to give the Fancy Pony a well-deserved rest break before our next Championship class…..

Regional Top 5 - Hunter Hack ATR

Working Hunter 14.2 and Under
I knew we had moved the competition to the next level when I looked at the hunter course.  We had a new question.  Instead of the traditional semi-figure-8 course, we had a tight turn off od the long side to a bending line in both courses…
Our first course required us to make the turn and ride it as our second line!!
The Fancy Pony was so caught off guard, she rubbed the fence.  In fact, we discussed the turn as we made it:
Yo, Pony, we need to keep this dialed in tight so you have a straight approach to the next fence.
This is obviously a hunter course, and tight turns don’t exist. This is where we make a swooping turn to the diagonal line.
Seriously.  We’re supposed to go over this vertical here.
What are you talking about?  Whatever.  I don’t know why you think this tight turn can get me to the next fence.
Thank you for working with me.  There’s our next fence!  Stay awake, because we have to bend to that other one on the far side.
Holy cow! What the heck is this fence doing here???**BOING**

We finished out course A, then later went in for course B.  She was willing to work with me this time!
We landed all of our leads, and the jumps felt beautiful! I was in control of all of our distances!

After everyone had completed both courses, we untacked and jogged for the judge.  Then we hastily tacked up again for the flat portion of the class!  I don’t recall anything particularly exciting about the flatting.  They called us into the top 5, then announced the Reserve Champion.  I was so busy congratulating her, I almost didn’t hear them announce the Champion.  That’s my number!!  That’s the horse I’m riding!!  OMG!!  We just won a Regional Championship!!!!
I cried.  Right there in the ring.  I stayed for the photo shoot, and I jumped the fence with my ribbons!  Who knows if I’ll ever get this opportunity again?
I’m still over the moon!
*sigh*
Covered in satin...

Green Working Hunter
This class doesn’t require qualifications, even at the National level.  This year, we declared ourselves “working hunter” by entering this class (which can be set 2’6”-2’9”).  Fancy Pony was getting rather lackadaisical in her approach to the fences and not bothering to pick her legs up any higher than necessary.  To remedy this, I moved one of the warm-up fences up to 2’9”.  No filler.  I asked for our tight turn from the other fence and landing on the lead I determined.  I made sure we could do this both directions before heading into the ring for real.
I only had one competitor in this class.  She was tough.  They were solid.  Top notch.
We were both set to go, so our rounds went quickly.  The Fancy Pony was solid in both rounds.  I felt like they were our best rounds, yet!  We missed one of our leads.
Based on the jog, I bested our competition on course A, but she bested me on course B.
We headed back to the ring for our flat class, and I pushed the Pony for the best she had to offer!
Again, we were all (2) called back for Top 5, and they announced the Champion first.  I assure you, they earned it!  We still walked away with a Reserve Championship, and I feel like we earned that, as well!  We went in and put down our best performances!
The experience I gained at this show will help us grow.  We can only get better from here.
Stall Bragging
The obligatory 'truck dash' photo...

AND, WE’RE GOING TO ARABIAN SPORT HORSE NATIONALS!!!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sport Horse Extravaganza - 2015 Day 2 - Saturday

Today was Dressage followed by general Sport Horse.  The line up looked like this:
Training Level Test 1
Training Level Test 3
Sport Horse In-Hand
Sport Horse Under Saddle

I headed over to warm up, and the Fancy Pony was feeling ok.  I was as ready as I could be, so when the steward said so, I headed into the ring.
This was the first show where I actually had a reader, and it was actually pretty nice!

Down centerline we went, and we tracked left at C...
Trot circle on the long side felt stable...
Canter circle at A was feeling pretty relaxed...
And the judge blew the whistle.

Oh, dear.  How could we possibly have gone off course already??
She said I should have tracked right.  I pondered this for a second.  My reader read track left...  So I asked the judge, "Training Level Test 1, right?"
No, she had T-2.
But, we rode T-2 yesterday...

Turns out I was the first in my division to go, and they had the wrong test for ALL of us!!

I walked out of the ring to continue warming up until we were ready again...
My reader had her own class to prepare for, so a saint in the warm-up arena agreed to read for me!
Our ride was... average.  Ultimately, we scored a 60.2% and didn't place.

My friend Heather went into her own test on her sometimes-hot-gelding, and as she headed down centerline, a truck arrived *RIGHT NEXT TO THE RING* to remove a dumpster.  The truck beeped and groaned and whined the entire time she was riding her test!
I would consider keeping the horse in the ring under such circumstances a win!!
Is that a winning smile, or what?
Despite Heather's frustration with her ride, they scored really well!  I was so proud of the way she rode through what she saw as a disastrous test!

Later, we went into Training Test 3.  Apparently, the universe had not reached it's quota of entropy.
As soon as I entered the ring, sirens came rushing down the street behind me.  I listened closely to my reader (who was calling at the top of her lungs with great projection, and I could barely catch her voice between emergency vehicles).  At one point, I drew a blank, but there was her voice to save me!
Our free walk was not up to it's usual brilliance, but can you blame the Fancy Pony when there are emergency vehicles flying by all around us??
As soon as I exited after my final salute, the sirens and emergency vehicles ceased.  Thank you universe.
We walked out of there with a 63.6%!!  Our first Nationally qualifying score!
"So much to like!"

Back at the barn, I curried and brushed and hosed and scrubbed.  I made the Fancy Pony shiny.  Well, as shiny as a roan gets, anyway...  She was cool, calm, and together when we entered the ring for Sport Horse In-Hand.  She stood perfectly still.  She walked right with me on the small triangle.  She trotted like she was glued to my shoulder!  She lengthened on the back side of the triangle with me.  She turned at all the corners with me!  She walked again when I walked!
Alas, the judge was not particularly fond of her head.  She said is was "plain".  **shrug**
We'll try again at another show.

Sport Horse Under Saddle was our last class, and the session started around 7.  Everyone was tired.  We played musical horses in the warm-up arena.  Eventually, we settled to warming up proper for the class.
We had a decent go.  We got all of our leads.  Our transitions were timely, but Pony was tossing her head for the walk to canter transition.  We didn't place.  But the experience was still successful, and I learned a little bit more.
Bedtime was a blessing.
Tomorrow, we would be riding in our first Regional Championship classes!!

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