It's baby making season again! Actually it's the start of it and officially we're just trying to knock up one of the girls, Red Mare. Her partner is Sempatico M for a nice pinto warmblood baby and their farm agreed to send shipments before the season officially started.
The girls basically get loaded up and go to Dr Babymaker where they are sedated (if needed), put into the stocks, and then ultrasounded. We decide where they are in the cycle, give them lutalyse (or not) and then recheck the following week. It's going to be a long series of weeks for me coming up but to make some fabulous warmblood babies will be worth it.
Sarah is also on board still and won her auction bid for a piece of Florianus so we have that in the works too. Three mares, let's do this!
The mission? Earn Third Level scores so we can move onward to PSG.
It didn't seem that hard and even Trainer this week couldn't find fault with our riding for that level (we already have our Fourth Level scores if you recall) but she warned us ominously to not practice 2 or 1 tempis and to not count our eggs until they hatched.
Luckily I'm familiar with this and Vana!Dragon so I went into the weekend with my test known, my riding tweaked, and Alex reading the test incase I blanked out or fell asleep. Oh and I entered the 3-3 regular class AND the Test of Choice 3-3 (after double checking with USDF that it would count) just to double our chances.
We arrived a touch later on Friday than we wanted and decided not to ride until the following day. I had an early ride time but whatever. We (wrote a million times all over our entries) asked to not have the boys stabled next to each other so they wouldn't be so attached (mostly Vana attached) and the show staff complied by having us at opposite ends of the huge tent barn.
Part of going to this show was because we wanted to check the place out. It's not everyday that you get to show at a resort and especially not in Houston. It was the facility's first time putting on a dressage show and they were fantastic. The Great Southwest has a more "show" vibe to it where everyone is hustling around and hanging out with their groups but this was just a nice resort feel from the competitor's dinner Friday night to the last prize giving on Sunday.
We had a few blips getting the RV in and parked but the show staff was again, super helpful and we soon had that hooked up and the husband was headed home. With the horses settled in, our group grabbed some food and settled in for the night.
The next morning was an early start for us and we hit the rings. I knew I didn't have anything too taxing for the weekend but kept my head about me as I warmed up Vana and headed to the main ring. As soon as we entered, he saw Alex in the caller's position and spooked. Then we spooked at flowers. Oh and something else. Oh and he suddenly realized where Simon was even though they hadn't called for each other in over 12 hours.
I had a dragon on my hands.
For the first extension I was honestly shocked we didn't get eliminated as I halted, regrouped, halted, tapped with my whip, and moved him onward. We may or may not have gotten some serious whip thrashes at K at one point. (He did).
Despite all his antics, I kept my cool and navigated us through the course willing to accept the 53%ish that I figured we'd gotten. Good thing we had 3 more rides, right? When we checked the scores it was a 59.872% (really?!) so I didn't know how to feel about that but we moved onward.
Sarah was showing at 2-3 and 1-3 and her first ride at 1-3 was rather umm... forward. She showed him well and they got an accurate score. It was the best in ring riding Sarah had done to this point so it was a good progress.
We had a lunch break and met with my mom who took us out to lunch and we decided to go to town. We made the delicious, but awful, choice to eat at this cool burger grill type place and we WAY overate. Just in time to hurry back and get back on my dragon for another round of sitting trot.
I'm honestly not too sure how I stomached through the course, but we rode an accurate test and I kept my lunch down. 65.641% like a boss. A barfy boss but our fifth bronze medal score was done. Off to coach Sarah and finish out the day.
I rewarded my team by taking them to Charlotte's Saddlery and then Dover Saddlery before taking them out to eat at Macaroni Grill. It was a relaxing and easy night that ended with us chilling out in the RV. Seriously, I love that thing.
The next morning was me on Vana again and even though I wasn't as mentally in it to win it, Vana picked up the slack (who IS this horse?!) a couple of times and we got a 67.308%. Boom, Bronze medal done.
Sarah had a bleh sort of day. She rode well but scored low. Basically she needed to "bring it" and really ride Simon despite him being really cooperative and nice. Chalk it up to more experience. It doesn't come overnight.
I had one more ride to do but we also had someone coming to try Simon at the show (he's for sale, remember?). I debated riding my last ride but honestly, we didn't need the score and I always have this "save your horse" type of mentality about Vana due to his age. I DID end up scoring 2nd in that 3-3 test that was against AA and Open riders though and my 67+% was the best score of the day. Heck yeah!
We met with the people to try Simon and while he was a rock star with the trainer and the client, he was basically not a packer that would barely walk and was "too" responsive and easy to ride. The trainer loved him but the accessibility of his aids was a bit overwhelming for the client.
With that, the show was over but it was a wonderful venue, lovely crew, and we accomplished our goals. Onward to PSG!
Feina has been a wonderful addition to our growing herd. She's elegant, kind, and just lovely. When she arrived she was sound appearing, but being put out 24/7 wasn't something she was prepared for. While she kept her head about her and didn't run around all crazy, she did get lamer and lamer each day so we started hydrating, icing, and checking her regularly. There was no heat and only a small amount of swelling in a tiny area so we let it run it's course while she adjusted.
When we started up the breeding checks with the vet, her feet were the first things I asked about as I wanted her to be as comfortable as she could be and be sure she could safely carry a baby. Dr looked her over and decided that the best course was to just have Farrier trim her and see what that did. Her feet weren't in bad shape but we were thinking this was acting like an abscess.
As soon as I could, I loaded her up to visit Farrier and we got to work. She was really reluctant to stand on her left front foot so we went about excavating out the right front. It did look a bit like it was snowing as Farrier carefully dug out her sole and frog. Along the way we found multiple old accesses here and there in many of her feet but we focused on one foot at a time, then allowed her to walk on it to adjust before starting on the next foot. We finally got to a point where he sole was normal and absorbing shock correctly and Feina went from nervous about bearing weight on her left front foot to totally blissed out and walking out like a boss. Basically it was a bit like she had on platform shoes. We're not sure if she'll be ridable in the future but honestly she's soon much more comfy that it's a pleasure to see that. Amazing!
The day has quickly arrived. The day before was a monsoon so I was thrilled that I got the much sunnier and happier day after that even if it meant I was stuck at work not auditing during the rain. My husband decided to come along for the ride (!!) and Alex met me at the farm to watch (auditing wut wut!) and we arrived with plenty of time to prep. The site was very nice and relaxed so I felt right at home quickly.
I'd been streaming online lessons of Conrad the previous week to accustom myself to his accent, although since my mother and her family are from Germany it wasn't all that hard. "Wolte" was the only word that made me pause but then I figured it out when I checked out the video. Conrad uses a lot of "Wolte" and for good reason. The lesson before ours had a horse that was pushing through the movements a lot and it really helped her keep her balance. He does a lot of "this and that" and I knew we'd fit right in. Lunch came up quickly and we ran to get something before coming back to tack up and go. There was a rider before us so after a quick warmup outside, I lingered nearby to watch them work a younger horse over the poles.
Then it was my turn and I basically told Conrad to do whatever he wanted - I was game. He definitely brought it and we systematically worked from walk, to walk half pass, to trot half pass, to canter work, to pirouettes to an exhausting and grueling exercise on the long side where you medium trot, walk, walk pirouette, medium walk, etc. All these things led towards the upper level work where we spent the most of our time on canter pirouettes with Vana. Immediately when Conrad came out with a whip, Vana knew what was up and started piaffing his heart out (KEEP THE WHIP AWAY OMGGGGG). We were supposed to walk a pirouette with Conrad in the circle, then CANTER on the spot and keep it going. It was hard to get Vana's rear ANYWHERE near Conrad for a while so I got yelled at plenty up close but we eventually did it.
This progressed to pirouetting between the two poles which was THE BEST. I swear they looked WAY closer when you're on a 17.2h horse but on the video it looks like nbd. Also... YOU VILD! VILD!! was the best part... and the hardest to not lol at.
After that we went to the rail (Vana = OMGOMGOMGOMG*flails) and worked on piaffe (NOT AN ISSUE) and then transition to passage. We hadn't really worked on this much so it wasn't the best but we got it done and a high five from Mr Schumacher.
The full video is below so enjoy, I really can't nitpik too much in it which is saying something about where I am mentally about our training progress (which feels awesome!).
So would I clinic with Conrad again? H-to the ELL yes! He was tough, fair, and didn't just blow smoke up your skirt. We DID things. We were PUSHED. It was a blast and I was exhausted and breathing hard for many parts of it (see video during breaks). His training style complements my trainer's style really really well and well, for $300 I WANT to be pushed and challenged, not told how pretty we are and blah blah blah. This was a FEI series so naturally he was working everyone really hard on upper level topics and foundations. I had a blast, but if you're not able to think objectively about yourself, your horse, or your riding then you might want to audit first and make your own decision. He was quick to point out two things that I continually do and I felt the difference immediately as well as offer a different way to ask for half pass and the difference (in all our horses) has been amazing.
We've been invited back for Round Two in March so looking forward to that!
With the arrival of our fancy show pictures, I had the final piece to list Mr Simon for sale. It's bittersweet for us as we've done a lot of work on him and he's soooo sweet and fun now to work and has the capability to do much much more with dressage, but he needs to be someone's #1 and not our second string fellow as we start working Jade and Vana a lot more. His time here is done with us but we'll keep enjoying and showing him in the meantime until his person comes for him. Pass the word if you know someone wanting a super fun, sweet, well trained, unicorn pony to ride, show, and love!
We got our lovely Moonfyre pictures in from the January show. I even bought some with myself in them! We're looking better and better!
About a week and a half ago, I saw a Facebook announcement about a Conrad Schumacher clinic coming up Feb 13-15 in The Woodlands. After the Charles de Kunffy clinic, I was a bit ambivalent about wanting to go to another one although I kept Conrad on my radar as I liked what he'd done and how he seemed to train. It would look good on the old resume if nothing else, right? Besides, it was run by Houston Dressage Society so I thought it would be a good chance to meet some other locally dressagey people when I'm not all SHOW THE THINGS!
You had to apply for this clinic though and had to be showing at Fourth level or higher (bam just did that) as well as submit a video. Because we are always running, it's hard for us to remember to do videos. I talked to Trainer about what I thought I should put in the video and she agreed - basically PUT THE FUN THINGS IN! I didn't want to be stuck working on boring Fourth Level things pls.
Additionally, Vana had clinicked/cliniced (? lol) with a previous owner several times with The Conrad and I was curious to see if he recalled him just because.
Naturally the upcoming weekend was a barn hunt event at our place, so I was swamped all week and weekend and there was rain too *lesigh. Sunday evening after the event, we loaded up the pony, the crew, the camera and headed to the nearby arena to DO ALL THE THINGS! I was exhausted but thought I could ride a consistent 5 minutes worth of footage for the video. Spoiler alert... nope.
Instead I managed to warm up with the hardest things (piaffe and passage) and then got that snippet filmed. Then I worked my way backwards. Before this session I hadn't really schooled tempis with purpose so I showed how I would school them as well as what I do when Vana does his favorite thing - curling. In the end I was happy with the result and mailed it off the next morning which was also the due date naturally >< Life man, it goes so fast!
I had no real idea how it was going to go or if I'd be approved or even have a spot but in the end I got one on the last day in the afternoon! We even got "lovely partnership" comments which was really exciting to see. So we're going to see the Wizard, er Conrad!
In a shocking twist (sarcasm) to follow up the "Mares" post, here were are summing up the crazy assortment of stallion things going on in my head currently.
While I would LOVE a Jade baby, I don't want to deal with embryo transfer plus I really, really want to get to work on my other ladies and seeing what they can produce. We'll have to wait on that adventure for another year. Probably. We'll see, my breeding farm is a horrible temptress.
For now though, the two mares at the house (that are mine) are up for grabs and years of stalking lines, stallions, farms, and such has prepared me for this. Mostly I suppose. When push comes to shove, it's soooo hard to limit yourself to just one but we have to. I may also be developing an obsession that will manifest in a semen collection at the oh too helpful breeding farm where they'll store it for me for basically nothing. #enablers.
While I can love me some stallions, horse shopping, previous breeding attempts, and a series of other experiences means that the #1 thing I look for when I'm stallion shopping now is the farm or shipper. They need to be professional, easy to get in touch with, and responsive. It was super frustration to deal with a farm last year where I ended up way behind the ball due to farm vs farm conflict and by the time I found out the issue and could fix it, everyone was mad at everyone and I ended up eating the stud fee. Needless to say, I LOVE Iron Spring Farm (where I bought Jade from) and fell in love with Flori while I was there. Granted most of their stallions were still in Florida that time of year, but this Grand Prix stallion was so sweet, ridiculously cute, and I've loved sooo many of his offspring they've produced. Naturally he was high on my list.
The thing with Flori though is that while he's 16.2h, he doesn't tend to improve height and my original mare to breed was Czarina and she's a modest 16.0h. While these are respectable heights, I'm potentially looking for something for ME and my freakishly long legs and people that like to buy these ponies want something that will be 16.0+h and while I feel like this SHOULD happen, unno.
When I found Feina and especially when she arrived with all her 17.0h, I thought Flori was back on the table but something told me to keep checking things out. I do like Uno (Don Diego) at ISF, but where else might I find something plus his registry options were funky with my mares? I kept looking and trying to balance out marketability vs my desires and just kept going round and round. I really wanted something that would mature 16.2h+, I really wanted Donnerhall added into Feina's lines (fancy but trainable and easy to be around), color didn't matter, responsive farm, and of course dressage oriented. There were other criteria but that was me being really over the top wish list and flexible on those desires.
Sempatico M's breeder ended up posting a reminder on Facebook about their "end of holiday" special and I went right! I like him too and decided to book him for Czarina. But wait, he's not "really" a dressage stallion! Nope, but he's ammy friendly, his foals are marketable and well, Czarina is a Raja Baba x Glitter Please baby and forgive my eventing roots, but I knew this would make an amazing and versatile baby when I saw it come up. The farm is also super responsive and so friendly to work with. Mare #1 was done!
The flip flopping continued with Feina though. She's Hanoverian registered and I really wanted to stick with that. But I really really wanted Uno for this first time (a combination of things but ultimately I asked myself if I only got one foal out of her and was going to keep it, what did I want? Uno.) and had been in contact for upcoming specials. I knew they had a sale coming on Valentine's day but I didn't know the pricing. Frozen semen sounded really ideal for something overseas (Serano Gold, Danciano, De Niro Gold, Benecio, *drool) and my vet didn't veto that when we took the mares in for repro checks.
Seriously... I don't know how Europe doesn't spontaneously combust from making such things.
I ended up calling the Hanoverian Society to see if by some odd chance Uno was registered with them in some capacity (Rhinelander FYI) and found out that for some odd reason, Feina hadn't been inspected as a younger mare. What???? She was shown in breed shows plenty but the breeder didn't find time to get her inspected? Um, ok. Since she's currently off and on lame, I figured that wasn't going to work out right now until we can get her feet trimmed up better. So I gravitated back to KWPN-NA (I seriously have a thing with ended up going Dutch lol) and naturally leaned towards Flori (offspring would be full book KWPN that way) but Uno would result in a Reg A baby. Grrr. In the end, the special was 50% off stud fees and Uno is Donnerhall x Rubenstein which I really wanted, plus height, plus temperament, so yeah, I filled out the contract for Uno the second we could get in on the sale and have felt really happy since.
After all this, my working student had had her mare tag along with mine for vaccinations and had her repro checked. Even at 19, the mare is still cycling like a champ and she leaped at the chance to breed her mare. Guess who she's trying for? Flori! So it looks like I'm going to get to hand out with a Flori baby anyhow!
I may or may not be bidding in online auctions right now for frozen semen for the future *shame