Sunday, February 28, 2010

And the moment you've all been waiting for ...

The results of the 2010 Regional finals. Yes, folks, Patchwork Farm IEA team managed to pull it out again. CHAMPION! Wow, it was the hardest day ever! We began the day with the Varsity Open individual flat. Both of my girls were in that. My usual flat point rider's horse tried to buck her off, so she got a re-ride on a different horse. Sadly, she didn't place. The team class was next, and she had the opportunity to redeem herself, but again didn't place. Wow, that was a huge shock for us. I can usually count on my VO girls to really score a big ribbon, so we began the competition with a deficit. Then came the o/f, and both girls rode very well, even though one had a stop. She finished up so strong, though, that the one with the stop actually placed 5th; my other girl won. So, that was good.:) Then it was for the team ... 2nd. OK, we were on the board. We were way behind, though.

For 2', all of my girls rode great; in the team portion, my rider finished 2nd on the flat, and 2nd o/f, which was really helping us catch up. At this point, we were in a 4 way tie for 2nd. Wow, it was TIGHT!

Next was crossrail flat, and my rider got us a 3rd ... after this class, we were in a 3 way tie for 2nd. Then came the beginner flat. This class was pivotal for us, because neither of my beginner riders have really done GREAT this season. For this particular one, her highest placing had been a 5th, I think. Out of 7 girls ... she finished 4th! Whew, we stayed on the board!!!! I was very proud; she's worked REALLY hard, and it paid off for her. At this point, we're in a 3 way tie for FIRST. Judging STRICTLY off blue ribbons, we were in 2nd. Remember, only top 2 go on to Zones.

And so it comes down to the LAST class. Out of 8 teams, like 6 are still in contention for 1st/2nd. My girl is on Star for BOTH her individual and team classes. The individual classes were running first so the girls could get in there and almost "warmup". My rider finished 5th, which was a little disappointing. She came out, I gave her some constructive criticism, we re-schooled for team, and in she went. She was WINNING ... until the approach to the 2nd to last fence. Star acted like she had to poop, and trotted. Then, after the fence, my rider went to make her rollback turn, and Star trotted again. My heart sank; I just felt deep in my heart that that was it. We were done for the season.:( I did hold onto the hope that maybe a 6th or even 5th might be in the cards for us, and could possibly put us in contention for 2nd ... she got a THIRD. Holy Cow, we both thought she'd really blown it, so the 3rd place bolstered our hopes BIG time because the 2nd and 1st place riders were behind us, points-wise. After all was said and done, it was enough, and for the 2nd year in a row, we defended our title as Region Champions! It was so tight, we won with 26 points. 2nd and 3rd were TIED with 25 points; winner being decided with blue ribbons.

Next stop, Zones in Savannah next month. Tiki was perfect; just cute as a button and FABULOUS. He has this beautiful Sunday off, and I will ride him tomorrow before we head off to Orlando for a long weekend this coming week. Tuesday they're saying 38 and a wintery mix, so maybe no riding; we'll have to see how motivated I am. Oh, and I see one day a week every week with no stirrups in my future ... and beginning to run. Again. For the 48th time. I HATE running.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stuff ...

Well, GA is back to COLD weather. Daggum!! It has been quite miserably WINDY since the drop dead gorgeous weekend weather. It has been flat out miserable since Monday. Beautiful to look at it, but will freeze your toesies off. Didn't ride Monday because it was raining, of course. Rode Tuesday, and it was a fairly normal day for Tiki when he hasn't done a ton of flat work recently. He felt a little stiff, didn't want to bend his neck or body, and has decided that he LIKES being ridden on a loose rein. Anyway, he worked out of all that, and I popped him over a few small jumps. I set a 2'6 vertical with no ground line down the "X" center line, had a 4 stride line of 2 verticals set up; one at 2'6, the other at 2'9, and had cavellettis all the way down set as bounces on the opposite long side. Trotted into the vertcal with no ground lines, he knocked it down, but landed on the right lead. I turned him left, and he popped off a very nice flying change. Cantered the bounces, and he stayed very slow through that. Cantered into the line, and planned to add a step. He was on a bigger stride than I anticipated, and we ate the distance coming out, so he knocked down the second jump. Ugh. Got off and fixed the 2 poles, then got back on. At that point, things got much better. Trotted the no ground line vert again, and he jumped it well. Kept cantering around to the bounces; kept going to the line, and let him get the stride. Stopped, came again in an opposite direction, caught the line to the bounces again, and he was quite good.

Yesterday, gave him the day, and today it was so cold, I put the quarter sheet on. This weekend is my IEA team's big Regional competition, and Tiki and Star are going. So we practiced potential equitation tests. Turn on the haunches, check. Turn on the forehand, check. Figure 8, check. Counter canter, check. Change leads down the center of the ring, check. That's all the hard stuff, and he nailed it perfectly.:) Cantered the bounces off the right lead and he was perfect. Came again off the left lead, and he was perfect again, so we quit there. I'll ride him tomorrow at the venue, and then Saturday's the show. Wish us luck, we HAVE to finish 1st or 2nd in order to move on to Zones, so fingers crossed!!:):)

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Again, GA is back to some fairly decent weather.:) Friday was super nice; went up in the ring and just did a light hack, and the Tiki man felt really, really good. Again, day 3 in a row:) Makes all the difference in the world! Yesterday, headed up after lessons with plans for a solo trail ride. Arrived to a little bit of drama ...

One of the boarders had ironically enough decided to solo trail ride as well. Sadly, her horse spooked, and ended up falling over a barbwire fence, and she hurt her arm pretty badly. They had to call in an ambulance to go get her out of the woods!:( Just a bad situation. Fortunately, she "only" had a broken arm, but it's a badly broken arm. Her horse was OK; just serves as a reminder to always be careful and always be alert.

That wasn't enough to dissuade me, though, so Tiki and I headed out to our usual "short" loop. All was uneventful. Our famous water puddle was FULL of water, and after a brief hesitation, a sniff of the water, and a deep breath, IN he went! He even stopped to paw in the middle of it, ha ha! Rode on the buckle until we got to the nice, flat, road part of it. Well ... we cantered/galloped the WHOLE thing! I figure if I'm EVER going to get out on the cross country course, I'd better do a little galloping out in the open. He REALLY wanted to go. BIG time. I kept it REALLY controlled. We'll definitely need a gag/pelham or something when we do go out on a hunter pace or something. He listened well, though, and very obviously enjoyed getting "off the farm" for an hour.

On the way home, I tried to shorten my reins next to the road because a car was coming; like an old schoolie, he put his head down and said, "NO, Mom. I'm fine. Loose is good." Lol. So, today will be off, tomorrow it may rain, and Tuesday we'll be back to it:) Later!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A decent day, yay!

FINALLY we had a nice day today.:) The last 2 weeks have just been HORRIBLE riding weather, and it has been a struggle to get motivated. Monday through Wednesday was just gross weather; sun, but cold as heck, and awful gusting winds:( Wednesday I forced myself to throw tack on the ponies and walk hills since it was literally freezing. Today, it was FINALLY warm enough that all I had to wear was a T-shirt and a sweatshirt, yay!:) Felt like summer, lol. Managed to find bras that don't rub my fresh art work, and things have healed enough that it didn't hurt to ride:)

After Audrey and Mick, I got on the Squeaky boy. He was a teeny bit fresh, but not bad at all considering it's been Friday since I did anything with him. Flexed into the knee both ways, and put him on a spiraling circle at the trot. Trotted thru 9' cavs, over a pole, and did lots of direction changes. Worked the trot/canter/trot transitions, and they actually felt GREAT:) Cantered thru the cavs, and he stayed nicely consistent. Moved the gymnastic that's been there for weeks, and made a vertical to an oxer quiet 4 stride line. Jumps were low, at 2'6. Trotted into the vertical a few times, then trotted/cantered the line in a 5. That was really good, so came in again. Lazy boy that HATES to trot into jumps pulled the rail, but I didn't care. Cantered into the line, pole first, and the was better:)

Did one of my favorite exercises that involves cantering into a line, cantering a small circle, then jumping out of the line. Did that a few times, then turned it around and came in oxer first, then finished by cantering the line straight one more time. He was great! Got our Regional finals next Saturday, and we're taking Star, Tiki, Britain, and Windsor. 3 Thoroughbreds and a Morgan:) Wish us luck, we have to finish 1st or 2nd to go on the Zones. I KNOW we can do it, all we need is a decent draw for the kids.:)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Valentines day! To ME, ha ha:)

Well, it's been a pretty slow week, riding wise. The weather has been HORRIBLE, I've felt like crap, and I've only ridden out of sheer necessity, NOT because I've wanted to:( Friday, I only ended up longeing Tiki, but it was good. He was good. He got a nice workout, cantered some slow circles, and didn't end up cross cantering so much. I was happy. Friday, it SNOWED big time, which is CRAZY!!! It snowed more than it has snowed since the "Great Blizzard of '93", when we got about 3 feet. We got about 4 inches or so, which is a LOT for us. Soooo, no riding Saturday, and Sunday I spent getting my Valentines Day/birthday gift ... a horsey tattoo! It was incredibly epic ... and it HURT like a son of a gun:( I've already got 4; upper back, lower back, right ankle, left calf, and up to this point, the ankle and lower back both hurt pretty much a LOT, lol. Well, I gave the artist a bunch of reference pics, some vague things I liked, and he worked for about 2 hours, drawing up an AMAZING tattoo that fit beautifully on my left shoulderblade. Every. Single. Line. Hurt. It was a weird experience for me. It was about 5 hours total actually SITTING there while he was tattooing, 6 hours in the chair. I made it all the way to the end, and I was SO close to crying mercy. My artist was SO great. He actually put some numbing gel on it for the last little bit, which was getting close to KILLING me, because he was working up towards the shoulder, and the shoulder part was REALLY hurting. I was a little skeptical about the stuff, but it was as good as an epidural, WOO HOO!!! So, he finished up the last 20 minutes or so PAIN FREE.:) Then, after getting up and paying I nearly passed out or threw up, lol. Had to drink some water and sit down for a minute, but recovered. It was a LONG day, about 10 hours total, and I'd had a granola bar and a diet Mt. Dew to drink.

Note the Tiki mask and the humming bird on my horse:)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

When is Spring again?

I am MORE than ready for Spring! I've had it with 20 degree weather:( Ugh. It's just stinking miserable around here; rainy, cold, and WINDY! I'm fighting hard with a cold, and I *think* I'm winning ... so far. Not sure.

Tiki was GREAT Sunday. Again, they messed up the classes. His first scheduled class of the day was a crossrail flat. Uh, no. Those kids are very beginner, and he just needs a good solid warmup from a varsity open rider. So, I told them "NO", he is a 2'6/2' horse, not a xrail/beginner horse (like I'd put on his sign up form).

So, he hung out for a few hours during the flat classes, then went in for a 2'6 o/f class. He was PERFECT, YAY:) His 2' girl unfortunately fried him a little bit. She was tall, nervous, and had a death grip on his face. She managed to get him to run out at his first warmup jump because she cut the corner so badly and rode him so backwards:( Good for him, though, he managed to get around the course despite his rider. As he walked out of the ring, I plyed him with peppermints. He was a little revved up leaving the ring. He should have been done there, but they had him in a xrail o/f class. THIS I was willing to entertain because he'd already been jumped around. I left it up to the rider's trainer. She wanted to try it. He was GREAT! It was his first xrail class, and he didn't put a hoof wrong, YAY:) Such a good boy. It was a nice demonstration of just LET GO and let the horse JUMP AROUND.

Gave him a few days off, and today (Thursday) was the first day I rode him. Wow. He was FRESH! I mean, hasn't felt this fresh in a LONG time:) Spent lots of time at the walk ... I mean, a LOT. At first it was on a loose rein, then I picked up contact. He HATES to walk on contact. He's got a GREAT free walk on a long rein, but contact at the walk is a hard thing for him. So, literally spent about 15 minutes walking circles, over a pole, over cavs set 9' apart, in serpentines, etc. When I finally picked up the trot, felt like I was posting a million miles a second. I worked on bending/letting go, half halting, and just relaxing. Trotted the same patterns I did at the walk, and finally he started to soften and relax. He was a little bucky; I think he may have gotten kicked in the flank because he had a spot there, and when I touched it he just about jumped out of his skin. So, I was just trying to be easy and slow since I suspected he may have been a little sore and ouchy. After about half an hour, he felt a LOT better. We were still "arm wrestling" a little bit, but things were going along just fine. Cantered right lead, went through the cavs, and circled over the pole. Good! Reversed, and worked on a left lead circle over the pole, and when he lifted his shoulder, bent to the inside, and totally softened his head and neck, I walked and quit there. Thinking I'll do hills tomorrow:)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fun with crayons ...

So my friend Nicole decided to trace clip her horse, and since she actually CARES if her lines are straight, she went and bought some "window" crayons to draw and measure the lines. Well ... they actually show up on a horse's coat! Lol. Tiki was NOT a happy camper to have me drawing on his hindquarters since he's Mr. Sensitive.

Our Saturday IEA show was rescheduled for Sunday, so we had to pull out because we'd already been entered in a show on Sunday. It was 26 degrees Sunday morning, and it had rained on Saturday, but fortunately, the roads were clear. Tiki was solo this time, and it is just amazing how much LIGHTER the trailer is with only one horse. He was a rockstar again. Just babysat the kids while jumping around; never got quick, never put a hoof wrong. He was only in one flat class, and his kid won it.:) Love my pony!

Monday Nicole and I had a lesson with Susan, and it was great. C had said Tiki was pretty backsore after the show Sunday, so I borrowed her Thinline fleece pad to try for the week to see if it helps. If not ... then maybe the whole saddle fit issue will need to be revisited:( I am sure that my saddle fits him well, but the panels really are pretty hard on the underside. Like I've said, though, he really has chunked up, so maybe it isn't as ideal as it was 6 months ago. Wow, this has been a fairly frustrating journey!

Our walk/trot transitions have improved to the point that Susan wants us to now move on to trot/canter transitions. We did a spiral in/out at the trot, and my homework is to work on spiraling at the canter. She says he's carrying himself better all the way around, and now it's time to push him up a notch by working that canter. We did jump through my gymnastics I had set up, and we actually worked on trotting in to it. Once Susan and I got on the same page, it was good, but for a few jumps I did misunderstand what she was asking me to do! Trotted a bounce of 3 cavs, and he was pretty perfect through that. That was it. Lessons with her are usually pretty basic, but they do a great job of kicking my butt and making me be effective.

Gave him Tuesday off, then flatted this morning before the rain. It was a pretty quick ride, and I just worked on clean transitions, and a nice uniform bend in the corners. It will be raining tomorrow, so I plan to hop on Saturday for a little schooling before our final regular season IEA show on Sunday. Again, he'll be going solo, and I'm sure he'll be a rock star again. So, it's been a chilly, wet week, but a pretty good one:)