Well - the proof is in the pudding. Because I couldn't hlpe myself - I bought some ictures of Chester from the photographer that was at the Event on Sunday. He is a super good guy and is very nice and friendly - I like him a lot. Check out his website: http://www.photosbybailini.com/
...Went out and checked him last night - he was as happy as could be. His legs felt great, no tenderness, no heat, no swelling. Gave him a massage and an Epsom Salt bath and a 20 minute hand walk. Tonight we go for a long slow hack and get back into it tomorrow.
Here he is stadium jumping at Lane's End over the itty bitty jumps...look at those knees!!! And his ears!! He definitely doesn't want to touch anything...that's for sure.
Well - it is Monday afternoon - which means that Chester and I are back from Lane's End up in Bobcageyon. Let me tell you something, eventing is all about hurrying and waiting and then doing everything really quickly. The dressage was late (typical) and then you felt rushed for SJ and xc (typical). Anyways - I am sure that isn't what you want to hear about....so - the GOOD news is: CHESTER COMPLETED (very successfully I might add) HIS FIRST EVER FULL EVENT!!!! He received a 60.8 on his dressage (after he got over the horse eating rocks in the corner) He went CLEAR stadium He went CLEAR xc...but picked up a whack of time faults. (More on that later) He finished on a 74...for 7th/14 at his first event... :) I have never been more proud of him in my entire life. (I say that a lot don't I?) He was a MACHINE and stayed calm cool and collected the entire time (aside from the horse eating rocks and one of the stadium jumps...which was also apparently going to eat him). He definitely took that step in becoming a Big Boy. SATURDAY I rode him in the morning- a solid 30 minutes of trying to keep him loose and supple, then we ran through our dressage test...it was great. I packed and braided him in the evening after going to a family BBQ for Aaron's step dad's side of the family...which was really nice - I felt like an ass sort of for literally eating and running - but it was after 8pm and I didn't get home until after 10... SUNDAY I bathed him in the morning and waited for Boss and Kelly to come pick me up. I was getting nervous already and it was only 630 in the morning...I kept repeating to myself over and over - we're just schooling, we're just schooling - it didn't help me much..ha. AND - GRAHAM (Kelly dad, Joyce's husband and my surrogate father) was coming!! YAY!!! He has been my rock on more then one occasion. :) I was thrilled when I found out he was coming!!! We get to Lane's End - which is an absolutely BEAUTIFUL farm....everything was amazing - the course, the facilities, the volunteers, it was super. Kelly and I check in at the office pick up numbers, course maps etc. Graham was left to baby sit the horses and Kelly, Boss and I go walk the course. That was the first time when I sort of went 'Oh My God...I don't know if I can do this'...simply because as I stood in the start box and looked out at fence #1 (which was a silly little log about 2.5 feet high) in my head I went - Chester has NEVER ever been xc schooling before. I took a deep breath suppressed the nauseous feeling I was getting and walked on...For the most part, Kelly's course and mine were beside each other which was good. As I walked it, I started to think like Chester and what I thought he would see when we were riding it...there were a couple of things that I was worried about - there was a drop, which he has never done before in his life, a fence with a blind landing, as in it looked like you were jumping into nothing, and a couple fences where shadows wold more then likely freak him out. I was most worried about the drop...simply because he had NEVER seen one before. After wards - we were talking about it and then plan was to trot out of the start box, get him over the first one, go slow and give him a fun confidence building ride. THINK FORWARD, close the doors and don't give him any option but to go OVER....phew...aannnnnd then I got to hurry up and wait for 4 hours until it was my time to go. So, I played groom for Kelly - who had an absolutely spectacular dressage test (although Molly decided to add in her own flying change). The Boss (because she is the smartest person alive) said to me while we were walking the course 'you know, I think you should ride him around for 20 minutes while Kelly is doing her stadium just so he can get his stupidness out'. It was the best thing for him (and more so for me). So - I did and it was amazing - he was calm, listening and felt absolutely amazing. All my nerves disappeared instantly and I KNEW we could do it. DRESSAGE Considering the 'warm up' I had had while Kelly was doing her stadium - I got on him about 30 minutes before my time...he warmed up great - he felt amazing, was responsive, light and was acting like a very big boy. They were behind on Dressage (again, typical), which threw me a little but not much. There were 2 dressage rings...one of which had a beautiful stone wall in the corner...with very little room between it and the ring. Normally there is a wide berth for you to go around and ride through - but not here. When I found out what ring I was in - my stomach turned a little...because i KNEW he was going to flip out at the rocks. And - well, let's just say I know my horse. As we were starting to trot around the ring - we got about 15 feet away from it, he planted his feet, snorted and refused to move, kick, leg, crop, nada from him...except more snorting, and then he HALF REARED (I wanted to KILL him) and tried to spin away. The dressage judge said, take your time, get him by calmly (being the last rider, literally, I was fortunate enough to have this added luxury). I get him by and that relaxed feeling I had had all afternoon and all throughout my warm up...vanished. poof...gone...I felt tense and I knew it...so did Chester. All in all, I am very proud of him, his test was pretty good considering I wasn't riding him as best I could. Afterwards, the judge took the time to speak with me and basically said 'Your marks are going to be all over the place. Some stuff you do super well, and with other movements, you need to be more consistent. Your hands are too far back and you have to ride him better, he is looking for your contact and you're not helping him. Hold his hand better'. She also said he is lovely and will go far. I really think that if I didn't get all tense because of his freak out that my hands would have been better and we would have gotten a better score...as always it is totally my fault and I need to do better. Chester will only ever be as good as I make him... STADIUM Not much of a warm up needed here. I got on about 20 minutes before my time, trotted and cantered around a couple times then jumped him once over each of the three warm up jumps - he felt great, responsive and FORWARD...that's it, warm-up over....my biggest concern was that I didn't walk the course!!! lol - Both Kelly and I had to 'walk' it by watching other riders ride it!! HA - that was something else. No worries though - forward forward forward. Oh - the BEST part about this...is that his old mom and Partner showed up just in time to see him go!!! YAY!!! I was so happy they made it in time!! So, we enter the ring through the gate and his ears are up - he neck and head are up and we are trotting towards the judge to salute...whistle goes so we have the all clear to start, left turn....and thennnnn half pass left away from one of jumps - no this was not part of the plan. I don't know what came over me - but I took my crop and just reamed him one...and he went 'eeeek okay okay' and away we went. Let me tell you, I had to work - and work HARD - at keeping him forward - I felt like I was fighting with him a little bit - but Kelly and Lesley (his old mom) said he looked FANTASTIC and we didn't look like we were fighting...so I am going to take their word for it. I needed to release him more over the fences - but part of me didn't want to trust him fully...yet. Some of it wasn't pretty and I got jumped out of the tack way more then I wanted too but...10 fully decorated scary horse eating stadium jumps later - he was CLEAR. :-) CROSS COUNTRY Okay - at one point as I was putting his boots on for xc, I was saying my course out loud to Lesley who was now acting as Chester's groom (!!) and I looked at her and went 'I don't know what comes after fence 7'...considering the course was 15 fences long -I had a mild panic attack at that point...so I looked at the course map one more time and figured it out. A couple minutes later, I looked at Lesley and went 'Oh my god - I just got nervous'...she told me I was being retarded and to get over it....easy for her to say - she wasn't about to get on a horse who had never done an XC course before in his life and gallop through open fields and jump jumps that don't fall down...it was the most nervous I felt all day. And then I reminded myself that 'I am just schooling and stick to the plan'... warm up was minimal - I gave him a quick pipe opener and really rode him FORWARD to the warm up jumps...he felt AMAZING and was being really attentive...okay - I am feeling a little better now - tack check and we are good to go. Then, I hear it "112, 2 MINUTES"...I make my way to the start box (hahaha - I am getting goose bumps right now as I am typing) and walk him around...then I get the count '30 seconds Carrie'...okay one more little circle '15 seconds'...deep breath...'10'...standing in the start box, wait, a pat and word to Chester.. "5...4...3..." Come on Buddy - we can do this "2...1....GO Have a good ride" GO CHESTER....!!! We Trot out of the box - that was the plan - and he pops over the teeny log and picks up a nice canter "GOOD BOY CHESTER"...Left turn to number 2 - no problems "GOOD BOY CHESTER" - right turn to #3 - no problems "GOOD BOY CHESTER" and on to #4 the scary jump with the blind landing side...he backs off a little, I really sit and put my leg on and he SOARS over it annnnd I totally get left behind and I am SURE I pulled him in his mouth over it...sorry buddy...but "whoohoo!!!!, GOOD BOY". It was at that point (and I remember it clearly), where I said to myself 'we can DO THIS'. 5 and 6 were straight forward - but, fences he has never seen before - so I was cautious - he sailed over and then we boogied up the hill to 7, 8 and 9. Back down the hill and 10 was sort of off set between a bush and some trees...I thought coming into it that he would take a look because of all the 'stuff' that was around it, so I kept my legs on looked PAST it and he said 'yeah - bring it'...back out through a path way and into an open field - a right hand bend to 11 - at which point Lesley, Kelly, Graham and crew all let out a huge yell as we clear 11... now, we had a water option...I thought (since we were just schooling anyways) that we would try it. He saw it, backed off, I whacked him, he still said no- so I left it (remember - this is a happy, fun, confidence building ride) and went around (this took up a lot of time and probably where I lost a lot of points). 12 was on the other side of the water 13 was a rock wall coming off a sharp right hand turn. He backed off of this one big time - but he had no where to go but OVER...and over he went. Then on to 14....which was the drop - which was the fence I was most worried about because he had never ever seen a drop in his life. I trotted up the ramp - and he didn't even take a look - he just jumped right off and cantered away - It was at that precise moment that I KNEW I had an event horse and KNEW he could do it. We were coming through the path to 15 - the last fence and I let out a huge 'whoohoo' over top of it and came through the finish to Lesley, Kelly and everyone cheering...I was in tears by the time he slowed down and I jumped off him....I had never been more proud in my life...ever...I know it was only entry and I know the jumps were itty bitty, but a month ago I didn't think we would be eventing this summer at all...and now look at what he has just done. It was completely him - I just helped give him the courage to do it. Kelly, Lesley and crew said he looked HAPPY while he was out there...which was probably the thing that I loved hearing the most. We were CLEAR!!!! :-) We racked up a TON of time faults (13.2 which = .4 / second over the optimum time...you do the math...it ended up being close to 30 seconds over...) but, I do not regret it at all. We had a plan and we stuck to it...and the plan was to go slow and build confidence...which we did. Not going to lie - some of the jumps were not pretty, I got jumped out of the tack more then once here too - I was behind him on more then one occasion simply because I was pushing him forward - but we did it...I have to be much more giving in my releases next time over the fences...sorry buddy. After the xc - that dressage judge who was so kind to talk to me after my test stopped me as we were walking back to the trailers...she talked to me for 5 minutes about Chester and what I need to do as his rider to make him better. I have to 'hold his hand and reassure him that you are there for him. He is looking for you and you are no where to be found. Keep him in front of your leg, ask him for more. He is very expressive and floats. He WANTS to do it - you just have to ride him better. He is a lovely horse and I will hunt you down if you don't do better next time. I watched him go stadium and he was lovely."OMG - I just about died. Her name is Nancy Tapely ( a Level III Eventing coach and dressage judge) and she blew me out of the water by pulling me aside like that and taking the time to give me her advice. I was so touched by it that I looked her up and sent her an email thanking her for her constructiveness and guidance...she emailed me back and said my email meant a lot to her... :) I owe her a 45 the next time she judges me and she told me she can't wait to give it to me....I won't let her down. So - to recap it - Chester finished in 7th out of 14 on a 74 in his first ever full event. I can not be more proud of him. He has taken that step and has become a Big Boy. I can not WAIT to see where this horse will take us next. He is limitless in his potential and I hope I can keep up with him. My promise to him is to ride him better - keep giving him that confidence and reassurance I am there for him. Next time 1 - if he has a freak out before dressage - I take a deep breath and move on, no more staying tense. 2 - I need to trust him more in stadium - he WANTS to jump the jumps 3 - We BOOGIE on xc, and I don't mess with his head as much. He can do it, he LOVES it and WANTS to do it.
Canterdown August 15. BRING!!! IT!!! Next time - we finish on our dressage score and get that second place. I am so so proud of my Event Horse.
....and Boogie we did. In keeping with The Boss' instructions, we had fun last night!! Chester was a 'horse' and I was literally hanging on for the ride. The idea was to have a fun ride, let Chester do what he felt like doing (because he has been working super hard lately) and give him a couple good gallop sets. Can you believe that I have never - and I am not exaggerating - ever galloped Chester before?! We have done numerous canter/trot sets, but, I have never asked him to open up. So, last night, I asked him to open up...and wow - HE CAN BOOGIE! And, he LOVES it. And, he still manages to find time to spook at a cardboard box that was lying on the ground. I don't know how he does it. So - note to self for the weekend - I need a solid lower leg the entire time around the course, regardless if we are trotting the whole thing or not. If I am going to get the Big 'X'...it is going to be because I fell off at a jump, NOT because I fell off on a straight away. Ha. I have no idea how he manages to jump sideways when he is galloping. I might have to invest in a neck strap. I *think* he is over his fear of water. Let me rephrase - I think he is over his fear of puddles. There was a downpour yesterday afternoon for about 15 minutes and it just dumped down. There were massive puddles everywhere and Chester just walked right on through them and didn't try to hop over them or half ass around them. Good Boy Pickle! Along the side of the drive way, there is a little hill/ditch that runs from the barns down the paddock to the road - sort of hard to explain and I will try to take a picture so it make more sense...anyways, I make a point of walking Chester down, over and up this 'hill & ditch' every day we ride, simply so he gets used to ditches...that is the idea anyway. Yesterday, I figured we would trot it and I fully expected him to stop...he didn't!! and just keep trotting up and down the entire time. Proud of him again. In The Boss' words "Trust him a little more". So I will trust him...but still will keep all the doors closed. More soon. 3 days and counting....
I will be going into this weekend with a couple things on my mind. First and foremost, REGARDLESS of the outcome, this is being used as a 'schooling' to get a basic starting point from where we move on from here. I mentioned before - I am not going to give a shit if we trot the whole XC course. I want this to be a fun fun fun, POSITIVE EXPERIENCE for Chester as it is his first event...ever. I can worry about all the other stuff after. AND - I have to remember that we only started jumping again last Tuesday, which means that we are going into the weekend with less than 2 weeks of preparation after a 3 month 'vacation'. I know I know - what the hell is wrong with me. HA! I am going into this weekend thinking a couple different things: RELAXED, IN FRONT OF MY LEG, FORWARD. With those things on repeat in my brain - we will be fine. Someone just told me today - just think about it this way - a month ago, you never thought you would be eventing this summer and now look at you! They couldn't be more right. We had a GREAT Lesson last night! He was jumping well - but he was catching his legs on a couple of the jumps - which was concerning to me. He also stopped (twice) at a scary superman jump. I was concerned about that too...Not to the boss though. She said 'He's green, remember? And he has had 3 months off, remember? If he still is doing stuff like that in a year - then we can get upset." Things I learned last night that will be detrimental to our success on a go forward basis. 1. FORWARD and In Front of Your Leg - are two very different things 2. More Impulsion from behind (his, not mine) will make my job easier 3. When I ask - and once he has responded - I have to give 4. In Front of my leg = steady hands = self carriage on Chester's part = happy Horse, happy Boss, happy Carrie 5. A Bigger then normal release - For Now - until he starts to get his form back more 6. MORE CANTER IS NEEDED - When I think it is enough - add more 7. B.R.E.A.T.H.E 8. R.E.L.A.X At the end of our lesson, Joyce said something to me that made me more happy and more importantly confident then I have felt in a long time... "He is going better now then he ever has, even before he got hurt. The plan for the next couple days is pretty unchanged from yesterday. Tonight - we are going to hack - he can do whatever he feels like doing (as long as he is not being stupid) and we are going to go for a gallop... :) Boss says to let him 'have the night to be a horse, have fun with him and open him up"...so, that's what we are going to do. Tomorrow night - we are going to just hack again for 30 minutes or so and practice our halts...that's right, we are going to practice halting. Friday - we are xcing it up....woot! Saturday - light school - ride the dressage test again and then it is an afternoon at the spa for The Pickle. I don't know what is going to happen on Sunday. But, regardless of the outcome - I know that I will never have been more proud of my horse in my life....
Well, since last post, I have ridden the Pickle Friday, Saturday and last night. So, let's start with that... Friday - I ended up riding in the indoor, simply because it was HOT out, but there was an awesome breeze coming through there, so I figured to stay out of the sun it would be a good idea...Chester on the other hand, didn't necessarily agree with me on that. I did a LOT of transitions, I mean A LOT..I am trying to maintain the consistency of keeping his head down when I ask...and of course, it is all my fault when it doesn't go as planned. I still haven't mastered the technique yet, but I am working diligently on it. I really think that I have to have him in front of my leg more to be able to maintain his proper head frame... Saturday - Conditioning...and he was feeling pretty spunky - not spooky per say, but definitely 'up'...HUGE trot strides, HUGE canter strides, he ate up the track and the hill...very proud of him. We even cantered for about 4 minutes as that is the time of our xc course on the weekend. Last Night - In the jumper ring - I was working on keeping him in front of my leg and keeping my hands and body QUIET...easier said then done...we were fighting a little bit and I hated it. We jumped for about 15 minutes at the end...and he was pretty good - got a little 'hot' on the landing side, but we managed it. Again, if I can stay quiet, off his back and let him move freely under me, I think we will be okay. The Boss Comes Tonight!!! As for the rest of the week, my plan for the moment (Boss might change that depending on how it goes tonight) is this: Lesson tonight Wednesday - Dressage movements /conditioning Thursday - off Friday - Lesson Saturday - Dressage movements & ride the test (unless we ride the test for the boss in our lesson Friday.) Saturday he will have his spa day and I think the plan is to take him up to The Boss' and Kelly's barn so we don't have to come South and then backtrack all the way North again to get to Lane's End.
Update tomorrow about tonight...it will be interesting to see how he is today after last night...I seriously need Joyce to plant an ear piece into my ear so she can talk me through everything...ha - I don't think that is allowed though.
Oh - Poor Pickle will be getting made fun of again now...because he has his cool koat on... awww - although it will make my life a million times easier, I am sure all the other horses are going 'nice blanket pussy'...
It has been a while since my last post - I am very much aware of that thank you to everyone who reminded me. At work, it is pretty busy for me right now - we are in the middle of salary increases and promotions and we have a practice inspection with our provincial institute on Monday - Wednesday of next week...so it has been insane and not very fun for me in the office....
This week - was Big, Huge even.
1. I got the all clear from DVM Extraordinaire to jump... "Just small jumps, work on getting your footwork down". Pardon - WHAT?! AWESOME...her words to me were 'He can do with the pushing'...so, on Monday night, I set up our canter poles (remember those from way back when) and, he NAILED IT...I stayed off his back, looked where I was going and just let him figure out his feet. He went 'pppft - bring it'
2. Tuesday night - ENTER THE BOSS...that's right, you heard me correctly, we had a LESSON on Tuesday. In 3 minutes, she had him moving better then I had in 3 months...I hate her...She goes to me "You're gripping with your knees, your legs are too far back, and you hands are moving too much. Stop, get it together and start again. Get him in front of your leg and hold your hands still"...so, I basically do that and he basically goes 'Christ mom, it's about time. Boss, where have you BEEN for the past 3 months' Annnnd then we proceeded to have the best flat work since he got hurt. Needless to say - I am MUCH more rusty then he is. Then - we jumped....3 trot poles, spread pretty far so he really had to stretch and then trot on to a 2'3 vertical....keep my leg on annnnd he pops over it and calmly canter away....repeat x2. Okay Boss says 'let's do a course'...so, we do a course. And it was calm, cool collected, albeit a little slow, but, he felt great, looked great and was thoroughly enjoying himself! I was almost in tears I was so proud of him.!!!! Joyce says - okay - so, jump him at the end of all your schools...just like we did tonight, for 5 or 10 minutes, that is all he is going to need... Put up some verticals tomorrow and pop him over like you did today... :-) YAY CHESTER!!!
3. Wednesday night - I am schooling him in the jumper arena again (boss put a Big X on riding in the small arena) working on our movements, getting him to move forward, me trying to stay quiet etc and he feels great. I put up some verticals - maybe 2'6....and pop him over...and he again feels great, doesn't touch anything and canters up and away from the jumps smooth and calm as can be! There is a gate - jump in the arena and I would say it was just shy of 3 feet....I debate - okay, let's try it...I turn him towards it, he locks on, adjusts his stride accordingly and sails over...YAY CHESTER!! One of the ladies was watching us ride and her comment was 'he looks so good, nice and confident.'...then I filled her in that that was our second time jumping in 3 months...and she could hardly believe it...
So - what does all this mean? All this means that WE ARE ENTERED INTO LANE'S END ON JULY 25!!!!! That's right, Chester, will be making his debut in about 10 days time....and I am so so so excited for him. Okay - YES, I know we haven't done ANY xc schooling BUT:
1. Quote The Boss "Enter him, use it as a schooling, trot the whole course if you want, who gives a shit"...so, that is the plan.
2. At the OLD barn, he DID jump over ALL the xc jumps that Aaron made...didn't bat an eyelash at them.
3. I am going to ask Jen (new barn) owner if she can move some of the logs /recently purchased xc jumps into one of the fields so I can pop him over...just to make myself feel better...
4. Think FORWARD...if I can keep him moving forward, close all the escape doors and look UP at WHERE I am going...we will be okay.
This afternoon - Dressage movements
Tomorrow - Conditioning
God -I am so so so proud of my horse. Who knows - maybe if we can hit a couple pre-training events late this summer and in the States in March - we will still be able to make Bromont in June 2011....think positive thoughts....
As in, I was sweating changing from work clothes to barn clothes. Not much to report, other then it is HAAT... We went on a walking hack last night and the poor dude was sweating before we even made it out of the front field....i did cheat a little bit though and had a quiet canter for about 30 seconds...I think he liked it, he definitely wasn't complaining about it. Today is worse then yesterday...I was going to attempt to lunge him in side reins, but that might not be an option. Maybe only for 10 minutes depending on the weather.... More later.... Dreamcrest is on Sunday....sigh...that was supposed to be Chester's first Pre-Training....ah well, I can't dwell on the 'supposed to ofs'...we're going to watch though. More soon.
I am completely delinquent! BUT - in my defence, that is what happens when you go on vacation. The good news - is that one of the girls from the barn (Abbie) took care of the Pickle for me while we were away so I know he was in good hands! I havent seen him since last Wednesday...I miss him like CRAZY. I am headed there tonight and since we are in the middle of a heat wave, the extent of his 'work' will be a 20 minute lunge with side reins...sigh...tomorrow we will ride and then on Thursday if it is a little cooler out, then we will attempt a conditioning session. Better update tomorrow, when you know I actually have something to update about. OH! - We started him on glucosamine....because, it can't hurt right?!
OH - Here is an update for you...AARON PROPOSED ON JUNE 27th!!!! :-)