Friday, April 20, 2012

The Ever Elusive Consistency...

Frustration.  I am feeling tons of it at the moment...especially during flat work.  I can't keep a consistent contact, a consistent in front of my leg, consistent name it.  And, I am getting frustrated.  I also haven't had a Boss lesson in about 3 weeks - vacations and work schedules have gotten in the way of that and well, it has left me feeling as though I am starting at square one.
Uncle John giving me instruction on how to 'do it better'...
Okay, maybe not square one, but definitely square 4 or 5 on a square of 10 scale. Knowing me and the kind of rider that I am, I will guarantee you, I am thinking about it too much, trying too hard and not riding properly.  Actually, I know that is what is going on.  I have been so worried about her head, that I forget that I need to use my legs to get her into my hand, there by correcting her head.  Simple when I sit and think about it.  How does the saying go...? Easier said than done.

Not to mention, yesterday was one of the most infuriating rides I have had in a while on her.  She had absolutely zero desire to jump and rather plowed her way through, yes through, the jumps.  Which in turn led me to have strongly 'encourage' her over, which lead to her turning into a demon, which lead to me getting more frustrated, which lead to a complete meltdown on both our parts. 

I stopped - literally stopped - for a good 2 minutes and then started again.  Hallelujah, I had a horse again.  I forget sometimes that she is only 4 and there are going to be growing pains along the way....and even when she is 'well schooled' there will be growing pain.

We are headed to Uncle John's tomorrow morning for a session with a couple other boarders from the barn - if the weather holds up - and then the plan is to take her to a little schooling show on she can start to get used to that sort of atmosphere.  The hope is that exposing her to low key show environments, going to an event won't be THAT big of a deal. Ha.  Yeah right.  It will either go really really well, or be a complete disaster.

Funny - when I mentioned my ride last night to Uncle John - he said 'don't worry about it, they won't all be perfect.  You know, sometimes, it would be interesting to get the horse's perspective on what made a ride so shitty.'

I hate it when he says stuff like that...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bold, Brave, Willing, Scopey...

Lookin Good!!!
I consider those to be pretty good adjectives to be used when someone is talking about your horse.  Those would be the four xc coach would have used to ' described Colby at the end of last weekend.  Oh - I would also add in "You both look focused".  Thanks Mom!!

She surprised me all weekend at her boldness to jump anything, do anything I asked her to.  She didn't back off from anything (except the water for a split second and we know how that ended up). And is so willing and game to try anything - that I keep forgetting that she is 4. 

While Colby does show some enthusiasm after the jumps sometimes - as in bucking and carrying on - I can live with that.  The biggest issues for now, are with her rider.  Namely:

Going confidently through the splash!!
1 - I have to give more when we jump. Big big big fault of mine, I know - always has been and probably always will be.  So, I have to really work on exaggerating my release for the next little while and not hold as much.

2 - I have to ride more from my core and lower body and stay off her face.  Again, bad bad Young Rider habits I am trying really hard to break.  No stirrups for the rest of my life, here I come.

3 - Her jumping canter needs to be more powerful, more together with more impulsion and not 'some wimpy looking dressage canter BS."  (Thank you John.)  How do I do this? By keeping her in front of my leg and off her face...d'uh. 

All that said, she is slowly, but surely - very surely - coming into her own and is almost a little too confident in herself. That scares me.  Her talent and scope are crazy and she is becoming more level headed with fewer mini freak outs...except for the whole cow thing.  I don't get that.  Even just yesterday we were hacking out after our school and had to pass the ever dreaded cows.  Took me 5 minutes to get her to take one single step forward.  I mean really Colby?  You'll jump any scary looking fence I point you out, but then have a breakdown when it comes to the cows.  Silly filly.

We've set our first event date - July 8 at Canterdown!!!! (one of my favourites!!!!) and in the meantime will take her to John's and out to as many small schooling shows to get her feet wet.  It will either go really really well, or be a complete disaster!!!
Colby showing off how talented she is....

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How Not To Ride Through Water...

I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the Easter weekend at my xc coach’s farm, about 20 minutes up the highway from where Colby usually stays. Taking advantage of the long weekend and gorgeous weather we have been having, it was decided Colby would be having a sleepover at Uncle John’s.

The purpose being, to have a boot camp of sorts and introduce Colby – who turned 4 in January – to changes in terrain (from dirt to grass and vice versa), solid obstacles, little banks and drops, get comfortable going up and down changes in grade, etc. Part of the ‘etc.’ consisted of getting her toes wet again in the water.

She was introduced to water late last summer so we weren’t starting from scratch. Not that I thought we were going to have any issues – the mare is so bold and brave, she constantly surprises me by taking to everything with ease. Our first day there, we had about a 30 second disagreement conversation about which way to go and then - she daintily stepped in and splooshed around. In her defence, it was a little on the deep side (maybe up to her knee) so, I would have been a little cautious too. Shortly, she was calmly walking into and out of the splash like it was no big deal. Day 2 - she walked right in without any hesitation. She was trotting into and out of the splash comfortably.

Day 3. No more playing nice. We approach at a canter and she would have 2 choices, to go forward OR to go forward. This sequence of photos tells the story of How Not To Ride Through Water.

Redemption!!! This is a much better stick attempt on my part!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Spring Boot Camp

This weekend will either go very very well - or will be a total disaster. 

The filly and I - well, technically, I can't call her the filly anymore because she turned 4 in January, but whatever - are packing up and heading the short distance down the 401 to my xc's coach's place for the long weekend,  Welcome to Eventing 2012 boot camp.

While it would be fabulous to have the unlimited amount of resources some of those other guys have - and have the luxury of having been in Florida for the past 3 month, I do not...not to mention sending a barely 4 year old to Florida would have been the best way to spend my $$, but that's a different story.

We make the best of what we have...and what we have, is John's incredible farm and property to school on. You name it, he's got it!!  The plan is to really give her a run for the money, give her a lot to look at, get her feet wet - and hopefully her rider stays dry!! - and let her open up for the first time since last fall.  We have been incredibly lucky this winter with the weather and there are portions of John's property that are completely dried up already. Fantastic.

What do we think?  Will the devil or the angel show up?  Your guess is as good as mine!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Ain't she lovely...?!
The time has come.

For me to write again – and not half assed either…really make the commitment to myself – and more importantly, my horse – so when things are not going as planned – because let’s get serious and know that things never go as planned – I will not only be able to have a track record of what went wrong and where – but also to look back and really be able to relive the journey. ….okay, who am I kidding here? My lack of writing is simply due to the fact that I have – wait, HAD no time…I will explain.

My life: Up at 5:15 a.m., on the train into the city at 6:45, work from 8:30 – 5:30, barn from 7:00 p.m. – 9ish, home, eat dinner, bed repeat….exactly when am I supposed to have time to write? If someone can tell me, then I would gladly point out how there would be no way I would have been able to do it.

That all changes March 26th.

I will have more time then I know what to do with….recently, I accepted a job, with the Federal government….10 minutes away from my house. Pardon? Come again? Yep, you heard correctly. My life is about to change, significantly. And for the better. Let’s be simple about it. As of March 26, I will be able to leave my new place of employ, get to the barn, ride – and I am talking a real school, not 25 minutes because it is late and dark outside – and be home starting dinner….all before I would have gotten to the barn on say – March 7th. Time. More of it. Stress. Less of it.

Well, what ever will I do with my extra 2.5 – 3 hours a night at home? As much as I would love to be spending that time with my new husband – yes, we are still newlyweds – he has unfortunately started up work again and has left me already. He is headed out to BC for a solid 4 or 5 weeks and then who knows where he will end up. At least we will get to feel like newlyweds when we are reunited every time he comes home!! J Point being (as I have gotten clearly WAY off topic) I will have an extra 2.5 – 3 hours a night to WRITE!!! And, I absolutely plan on doing that. Can’t wait.

…I wonder what my first countdown widget will be…hummm, maybe Colby’s first EVER event?? Stay tuned – I will discuss with the boss and then go from there.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Proud...Huh? What Did You Call It?!

Thanksgiving might be my favourite holiday...probably because it is fall and fall is my favourite time of year. It was gorgeous out this past Thanksgiving weekend and on Monday, we planned an on site xc schooling day. The weather was gorgeous and I couldn't think of a better way to spend the afternoon. Aside from the fact that Aaron and I were out at his brother's place until 3:30 the night before and I was up at 9:30. That sucked.

So, there were 5 of us in total. On the Friday afternoon - I had taken the day off to make it a 4 day weekend - that is usually what I do because the thought of being out of the office for more than a day or two at a time freaks me out - Barn Owner and I had moved all the xc jumps into one of the newly cut hay field. The plan was to take Colby over everything, practice riding to the jumps with a little bit of pace and basically build some confidence and more importantly, have a good time.

SIDEBAR - I have been dealing with some disgusting Proud Flesh on her inner hind left.

We were having a grand old time out in the field. The little filly was absolutely having the time of her life....we jumped some barrels...and even a scary yellow tarp. She didn't bat an eyelash. Something interesting happened though the second time we jumped that tarp. She - knocked the whole thing over. And broke the frame. On the approach, she felt great. I was sitting in the saddle, driving her forward - SHE IS LAZY!!! - and I saw the distance perfectly. Up, over and she didn't pick up her feet enough....when she landed, it wasn't even off balance and I pulled her up immediately. She stopped easily and tossed her head a couple times as if to say 'what's the problem here?'

Barn Owner and the resident Coach were both watching right beside the scary tarp jump.

"What happened?" I asked "I really didn't think we could have been set up for that any better."

"You didn't do anything wrong, she just didn't pick her feet up enough" Said Resident coach 'It was a total green thing...I wouldn't worry about it.. Come again."

So, we come again, I really sit and a stride or two out, give her a little reminder smack on the butt with my stick so she remembers to pick her feet up. We met it perfectly again and she soared over it. I called it a day after that. She was a champ.

Yesterday morning, I get a txt from Barn Owner: "I gave Colby a shot of penicillin this morning, Her leg looks a little swollen compared to yesterday. Don't panic. She isn't limping or anything. And the vet is coming Thursday remember" Don't panic??!! Yeah right.

The whole proud flesh thing has really been irking me. I have been keeping it as clean as I can and keeping it loosely wrapped with vet wrap to try and keep the dirt out of it...she has NOT, I repeat NOT taken a lame step since I noticed it, and there has been and I repeat, no swelling or heat. So, the decision was made to keep riding her. I guess doing some xc schooling - although at a very low intensity - might have irritated it a bit. When we stuck her on the lunge line last night, she was still as sound as can be. Thankfully....

So, we are left with the vet coming tomorrow - and it is NOT MY DVME - as she is on mat leave...this has turned into me having to take the entire day off of work since he is showing up 'between 9 - 11' and he has 5 other horses to do various other things to before getting to Colby. Awesome. What is this? A cable company?? Anyways, so because there is no set time on when he is showing up, it looks as though I am going to have to work from home...which is fine, I just hate doing it when potentially I could be in the office for 1/2 a day in the morning...

Let's see what happens tomorrow.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

All Aboard...!!!

Standing there on the mounting block, I started to get anxious…really anxious. What if this was a mistake? I was planning on waiting until January to get back on him…make sure he had fully healed, not to push it. At this point, in the back of my mind, I heard my DVME telling me “He can do with the pushing. He will tell you when he is ready…or if he is not.”

When I saw him galloping around with his tail flung up in the air like some Arab, I knew he was feeling better and that was the best feeling in the World. As I stood there trying to keep my emotions in check all I could think about was OMG – I hope this isn’t too soon. I took a deep breath and felt myself putting my leg over the saddle and then all of a sudden…there I was… sitting on top of the horse who had broken my heart so many times over the past 9 months.

It took me a minute to get myself together…then Chester snorted that “I’m really relaxed and feel good” snort after I got up there and that didn’t help me to get myself together in any way shape or form. I have just sat here for 3 or 4 minutes thinking about how I was feeling when I sat up there for the first time in 7 months and trying to come up with a way to put it into words that would do it justice.

I can’t.

I have never – ever – felt the range of emotion going through me then I did in the minutes standing on the mounting block – fear, anxiety, hope – to swinging my leg over the saddle and sitting on his back again – exhilaration, fear (again), hope (again), pure happiness – to feeling what he felt like when he took his first couple steps – hope, determination, perseverance.

This horse – for some God forsaken reason – means more to me then almost anything else in my measly existence and getting up on his back again was the best 15 minutes of my life.

He looks pretty proud of himself doesn't he?...and I am a total embarrassment to him...aren't I?  It's okay though, I think he got over it.