Ready? Me Either.
I knew Friday, Saturday and Sunday would be WAY easier than the first two days since all we really had to do was ride.
Friday was our PSG test and I felt pretty good about it. So good in fact, I kinda brained out in the warmup. I just wasn't really there for some odd reason. Coach was nice about it but I was pretty much a zombie and then when we entered the ring I was like oh hai. I guess I should ride now :)
There wasn't really anything I can say about the test except that it was accurate and boring. Correspondingly, we got an accurate and boring score: 55.933 . There just wasn't any pop in any part of the test and I place the blame on my brain that went on vacation randomly. I know people are supposed to get nervous or whatever in the ring; in front of three judges; in front of everyone but well, I don't. Sorry.
The rest of Friday was spent cleaning up Vana, ice boots, wrapping, struggle bussing through putting on some Equi Flex Sleeves (they're awesome), and other sundry things. Oh and napping. We napped the crap out of that afternoon in the RV. Again, this is SO exhausting for some reason!
After all the CDI rides for the day, they did an awards ceremony. Even though we had gotten 5th (out of 5), we were nipping there with the scores and still earned money. Naturally I was going to do the awards ceremony to get the "whole" experience (paid for it yo). Honestly... it was a blast. We got neck sashes, stood in line for the anthem (do I cover my heart with my reins? what do I doooo?), galloped around the main ring, and well, it was just silly fun!
Saturday was our last day of the CDI and I opted to use my whip in warmup AND to engage my brain. Thusly, Vana was super hot per normal and overreacting to my aids. Since he'd been cooped up in a stall since Wednesday, he was also fairly sore and tight so yeah, we were in for things. Our warmup was suspiciously decent and I didn't over think what that might mean. Why you might ask? We were about to do our first Intermediate test.
Except... well... I hadn't practiced it before actually RIDING it. In a recognized show. That was also a CDI.
Naturally I'd memorized the test, ridden it 5000000 times in my mind, had a plan, had all that going on in my head but we know this was not going to be a 100% effort but I was going in there to do battle. So halfway dragon and my fancy shad went in and we cantered up the centerline. He felt really good and I remembered to turn left (rather than right for the PSG test) and we got to work. Honestly, I like the I1 test better than the PSG test but things come up fast. Like whoa. It means I have to be in the moment and riding each step. Plus asking for FEI level gaits, plus, plus, plus, plus...
It's a lot to have going on in your head I promise.
Especially when you have never ridden the test before. Did I mention that?
Also, Vana was trying to curl like a beast in this thing so I was working my butt off to keep him out there. Sans whip.
Honestly it was a fun test and we were doing quite well and my brain was managing to not explode until we got to the second half of the trot tour where I ... extended the trot instead of half passing. Habits man. I pulled up asap as I knew my error and we were back on track for a pretty decent test the rest of the way through. So yeah, rider error. Oh and btw, rider error x 3 - 2% for each CDI judge. Word up!
The score for this test was a 53.789% which should bum me out I guess except man, it was our first time even riding this beast of a test and oh... if you add back in the 6% I would have gotten over a 60%. Whoop! This is just like when we cleaned up at 4th level but couldn't do the same at 3rd that same weekend. Harder things, we does them well.
After the I1 test I felt pretty good about ourselves. I mean sure we could have done better and we WILL so that's the best part. THIS is just the beginning for me and Vana is super happy and stoked to be doing ALL THE THINGS at the shows. We iced, walked, and hosed the snot out of him and his legs while we were still on lock down in the CDI area.
Sunday was the Open show for us as I wasn't doing a free style. We watched the freestyles that morning and well, some were good and some were... not. Obviously I'm not an expert at this level but I do know how to train horses to be happy and I do know what relaxation vs anxiety look like. I'm also familiar with what shut down looks like. Normally these people get decent scores so I was happy to see the CDI people ding them hard in their scoring across the board (57-60%) for a change. There is justice... just maybe not until international level competition ><
We were "just" doing PSG and it wasn't until early AM so I'd invited my husband and son to come up the previous evening and go out to eat plus breakfast. Naturally there was much napping still...
After the mid morning nap, we got up to start packing things and prepping for the PSG ride. I got to use my whip today in the ring and I knew this could go either way. It ended up a bit of both honestly ><
In the warmup, Vana was energetic but tired. Not sure that makes sense but that's what I had. He was curling sooo badly but still super responsive and light. This wasn't something I'd dealt with in some time and I'm sure he was a little sore but also tired from being cooped up. I worked on just posting the trot to get him up and out of my space to the best that we could. They called our number and we went off with fingers crossed.
The PSG test wasn't that bad, just hot. We did have a HUGE disagreement in the pirouettes though, specifically the second one where he started slapping the ground, I let him out for a correction, then tapped his outside right hind (not sure where it was 80% of the test honestly) and he LEAPED like a drunk dolphin for M. Oh and managed to change a lead upon landing which left us at... C. Without any counter canter or a change available. Yeahhhh.... so that was like a 4, then 3, then 1 with one of those being a double score. Ouch.
The rest of the test was much the same. Engaged but curling here and there. It was flashy, accurate, etc. We managed a 53.421% which honestly I was fine with. Without that debacle in the middle we should have cleared 60% easily. Again, not bad for being the first try at a recognized show for us.
I guess the main thing here was that we did it. Although honestly, that's not how I felt about it. I was definitely the rider with the least experience at FEI level (zero yo), the oldest horse, and just well, everything stacked against me and we still managed to look like not only that we belonged but that we're going to be some serious competitors soon. It's an amazing feeling coming off a show like that especially when I didn't have any expectations for the week except to learn. We learned that's for sure and we found out we're on our way!
Technically this is going to be Day One and a half.
I drove down Wednesday afternoon thinking I'd get there, unpack things, find my paperwork, and then get a nice ride in before Joe came down with the RV that evening and we had to set it up. This is not how the plan went at all.
I arrived a little later than I'd expected and got the stall more or less set up. I didn't see many people there although there were some CDI people already moved in and the open show people that have elaborate setups were doing their thing. The barn was super hot so I decided to run to Wal Mart real fast to get a fan and well, I got caught in Houston traffic so that meant that I got back way too late for the show secretary to get me my numbers and such. I didn't want to get in trouble for riding without a show number so I decided to just head to find some wifi and dinner while I waited for Joe to arrive with the RV.
They got there around 9:30pm that night and Sarah and I got to work setting up the RV and then going to bed.
The next morning we thought we had ALL THE TIME so we debated riding but with the barn inspection at 12pm and then nothing until 5pm, an afternoon ride with coach (who was arriving at 1pm) seemed like a good plan. The show secretary didn't open until 10am so we headed out grocery shopping instead. Seriously, the RV is so nice to have.
When we got back we went to the show secretary and well, we realized we didn't know what was going to happen with the stable inspections so we asked. Apparently the vet just checks and confirms that your horse is the horse on the passport and then they pick up your passport. We needed to be in the barn and ready to go so be on your toes.
Not one to not follow instructions, we were dutifully at our stall 10 minutes early and sitting on buckets like the professionals we aren't (bring chairs next time). Noon came and went. 12:20 came and went. No one else was looking ready for the vet so we finally went to ask what was up. It was moved to 3pm. *sigh
With that (plus coach running a bit late), we opted for lunch and signed up for a late ride time after the jogs so I could at least get a ride in before showing the next day.
Around 3pm we were once again sitting on our buckets at the stall and this time a vet and steward came to check out the pony. Naturally Vana had gotten his FIRST scrape while in my care along with a bizarre lump so that was something that had to be checked out. At least he wasn't lame, just goofy (goofier) looking. We made it through this part without incident but were instructed to keep our passport until the jogs rather than them taking the passports then. At this point, Sarah mobilized to braid and make Vana look spiffy for the jogs at 5pm. I debated my outfit.
Coming from the eventing world, jogs are THE thing. I KNOW what to wear for those and it would be easy. We'd looked at CDI jog pictures from Adequan with people like Laura Graves wearing breeches and tall boots, some people wearing schooling clothes, but hardly anyone dressed up. It was baffling. We opted for an oxford type shirt that was paired with white stretchy jeans, but then I just put on white breeches instead. Looking back, I'd much rather have worn a dog show outfit of which I have many. Hindsight man.
Five o clock was soon upon us and... no jogs. I finally rummaged around the site to see what was going on and apparently one of the judges wasn't there (as in, off the plane) yet so we were just in a holding pattern. More waiting.
Finally he arrived and we started lining up. I didn't go until the second group so I watched a few people jog and decided this was like showing dogs, except you ran the horses in reverse direction so ok.
Soon it was our turn. I'd practiced a little the week before with Vana and he seemed to understand what to do. I was worried about tripping/falling/etc but man, my years of showing dogs kicked in and I produced an epic floaty trot of my own. Vana understood what we were doing so the jog on the way back was super good and we were immediately accepted and headed back to the stall. Two of the other horses were pulled for further jogs. I know one withdrew after that but I think the other one might have jogged up fine the next morning.
With the jogs done and Vana back in his stall, we now had to attend the draw to see when and what order we showed in the next day. This was going to be for our CDIAM PSG test. The paperwork said in the Arena Club so Sarah and I headed there to find the doors locked. Uh... ok. We wandered around some before heading back to the jog area where they had decided to just do the draws there. omg....
We hung around until we heard our position, grabbed a baby carrot and some dip and then headed back to the RV to change and get my ride in at 7pm. This again seemed easy however the CDI stabling was now locked down by a sheriff. He said we could sign in and out but the horses had to stay in the barn area. After much discussion, things were sorted out and the three of us riders that were waiting to go ride were released when it was determined that the FEI stewards were in the big arena. At a CDI you basically have to be under the view of the FEI people at all times when you're around the horses. WE had been told we would need to be escorted to the riding area but well, not so much this time.
After all this, we got to the main arena around 7:20pm and the three of us got to work schooling. At 8pm we were told to wrap it up and headed back to the barns.
So after a day and a half, we were already exhausted. Day one was definitely, hands down, the hardest day of the whole CDI with the hurry up and wait things as well as learning about where and when and what to do. Everyone was super nice and supportive about figuring things out and it was definitely not just us that had questions.
Next up - Day two!
When I made the decision to actually enter the Shoofly/HDS CDIAM at Katy, TX on April 27-29, I had a little less than 4 weeks to get my ducks in a row. Spoiler alert - I don't recommend this approach to an event like this.
I really didn't think we'd be functioning at PSG level so while I knew of the show coming up, I was thinking MAYBE I'd do the Open show, not the CDI for sure. In true fashion for us, we hit that schooling show with Sue Mandas judging and got a 57+% with him acting like a wild dragon. This was also my first time riding the full test if I recall correctly. I (foolishly) expected my coach to say we weren't ready but she (once again), did not say that and said instead to go for it.
So we did.
First up was getting the paperwork together. SO.MUCH. PAPERWORK. Honestly it wasn't THAT bad, once I figured out what it was I needed to be doing. My first call to USEF was to see if he had a passport and then to figure out IF this was even feasible as well as check for the microchip information. So step one (I thought) was getting a passport. I assumed that Vana had one already and that we'd be doing a transfer. Nope. He has a KWPN passport but not a FEI one (breed passport does not equal FEI passport). Also there is an International and National passport. For anything less than a 3* event in the USA, you can just do a National one so we did that. Props to USEF for being the absolute coolest animal showing type of organization I've ever dealt with for sorting this out.
We found out that Vana wasn't on file as having a microchip number (the first hurdle) so I dug through my paperwork at home and couldn't find a number listed anywhere on any paper he had so I packed him and Jade (needed a Coggins) up and we went to the vet. Even though they had me on the book for microchip things, the reader was D.E.A.D when I got there so my 20 minute trip ended up taking 90 minutes as we searched Vana for a chip, couldn't decide if the scanner was or was not working, then it died, then we charged it up, then we checked Jade (who we KNEW had one), couldn't find hers for a while, had the scanner die again, plugged it into the wall and dragged Jade into a sketchy corner of tightness and finally found her chip. We checked Vana again and we all agreed committee style that he did not, in fact, have a chip and gave him one of his very own. We also had to triple check that the microchip we used was FEI approved (most are).
With the microchip in place and a number in hand...
I called USEF again as it had taken about 4 days to get the microchip thing taken care of. I was prepared to pay for expedited shipping but the USEF staff felt that wouldn't be necessary so I nervously said ok and printed out the forms and started filling them out now that i had a microchip number. I faxed them back that same day and they immediately ran my credit card and got to work on that. We had to fill out the National Passport Application and I was on standby with the Expedited form as well. Additionally I had to send in the FEI Horse Registration form. I also registered myself as an FEI rider (what, right??). The last part I did online though and the FEI Horse form is fillable online but I opted to send my FEI horse with my passport things (USEF recommendation for my case).
We were now 3 weeks out. They said that it would take a week to get the papers processed and mailed to me, then about a week for me to go to my vet to fill out the passport, then to mail it back and get USEF to stamp and mail it back AGAIN. In time for the CDI. *gulp
I waited not so patiently during that first week and the nice folks at USEF said to call them anytime. I waited until Wednesday of the first week before calling. Naturally I talked to someone that had not been involved to this point and she pointedly told me that it would take 6-8 weeks to do passports. I had kept the names of the two ladies I had spoken to until that point and naturally they were out. I agreed to call back that Friday. *chews nails
That Friday I called and neither person was in still but my credit card was charged and I got a shipment notice. Phew! Next was making the appointment with my vet to fill out the passport ID portion and Flu/Rhino part. This was a pretty intense process that ended up taking us about two hours to fill out while she bounced between me and their busy lameness exams in the outside area. The passport comes with a helpful guide, but the task of making the form look EXACTLY like your horse and then writing about all the markings, dings, and such with anatomical terms is tiring. They give you a practice sheet and we so used it. Plus had an extra vet tech around to double check all the markings with us. At the end, since we all had horrific handwriting, we got the pharmacy tech to use her ultra nice handwriting to transcribe our doodles onto the real thing. Next was putting the flu/rhino records, then vet clinic stamps, having the vet sign over the stamp, and then exhaustedly stuff it in an expedited overnight envelop and send it on its way. Seriously, it was a team effort and I'm so thankful my vet loves me.
I'm not 100% sure of when I ended up entering the CDI itself, but it was somewhere in this area where I felt it was do or die and the closing date was upon us so I'm going with approximately 2 weeks before the CDI started. It cost about $900 to enter not including the fees for all the paperwork. *dies* I also decided to enter the CDIAM Small Tour so we'd also be doing I-1 as well as PSG. Again, coach is not helpful at keeping us in check :P
This was the test I decided to add last minute. We're going to look EXACTLY like Steffen. *cough
Since we're bamfs, er speedy, we got the passport BACK in the mail super fast and waited not so patiently for the USEF to do their thing. Naturally I did the exam part on Good Friday and we weren't sure if they were open on that Monday or not but at least the envelop would be waiting for them. I figured I'd give them until that Wednesday before calling. We were about a week out from the CDI move in date at this point. (Seriously, don't do things like this.)
That Wednesday before I had a chance to call, I got a ping in my email box about a delivery being overnighted to me from USEF. My vet and I rejoiced and I had a passport in hand before I flew out to Arizona to judge that Friday.
If you're keeping track, that means we now are FEI horse/rider registered, Horse National Passported, and entered in the show. Something that was ultra confusing to me was that I had to enter the show both with FEI and the show secretary. The information I had said to enter on the FEI's site but this was not accurate. On the USEF account dashboard, there's a part about FEI declaration. THAT ended up being the correct place to "enter" the CDI for FEI and then I entered the show like normal for the show secretary.
With all this in place, we only had to actually go to the big dance!
OK, maybe not ocean front but we did go to Arizona!
So for this weekend, we did barn hunt judging outside Phoenix, AZ. If you're having trouble keeping up with the pace of our life, me too ;)
This was a super cool location in the desert with a super cool club. I've never seen the "huge" straw bales that they say is out west (they use 3 stringers and we use 2 stringers here) so I'd planned my courses to be flexible enough to accomodate any weirdness I came across. I got to fly into PHX and then grabbed a rental to drive the 45 minutes north to the facility late Friday night. It was about 9:30pm when I got there, 11:30 our time. Oiy. I basically dragged my carcass into the RV I was staying in and tried to sleep.
I always forget how early the sun comes up east and west of us, so it was a nice surprise to see the sun up at 5:30am (AZ time) but I lingered in bed until I absolutely had to go out and work. Energy was going to be at a premium today as it always is when judging. The dry desert air was already working wonders on my hair; causing it to be super straight and lovely so I got to wear it down in a pony tail unlike my normal bun avoid smothering to death in humid sweat.
Each Barn Hunt club has a different personality and this was a really cool group of people that were super eager to learn and help out. We worked through a few logistical issues and they were clicking right along before I knew it. The day ended up going really smoothly and my courses looked really good. I'm always happy when they come out looking vaguely like I thought they would in my head but also sad I don't get to run them. I'll set them up at the house when I get a chance :)
A couple of use went out to eat at local(ish) restaurant and had some funky fries and a tasty hamburger. Then it was back to the RV to try to sleep and do it all over again the next day. Sunday was a single trial only day so we got in there and got the runs down so I could head back to PHX and fly back home. I arrived back in College Station around 9:30pm and headed home to sleep before heading to work the next day.
Up next? The CDI!
So when we last left off on the baby horse saga, we had listed off our mares and their handsome suitors. Then... nothing else has happened much in the meantime. Well nothing that I'm emotionally prepared to document on here >< I'm trying to ignore my farm bank account right now. Adulting, I do it.
To be honest, it's been an exhausting and trying time the past two months from when we started all this. We got some smoking awesome stud fee deals and wanted to get mares preggers early in the season to have earlier spring foals rather than summer ones like I've been having the past few years. So this whole thing started in February and here we are in April. I don't have much to say aside from Feina is taking her time cycling, Faith did a great job, came back preggers (probably) but then reabsorbed the embryo, and Sangria (formerly Czarina) was a no go on getting preggers. So a million miles of driving mares back and forth, AI fees, U/S fees, boarding fees... I really have nothing to report right now except that we're still chugging along. Honestly, we're too far into this to turn back but man, it would be nice to get ONE mare pregnant!
We go back next week with Faith rebred, Feina FINALLY bred, and Sangria rebred. Fingers crossed and please baby maker, help me out!
While the mares are another topic for another day (*sigh), we did manage to FINALLY make puppies after a year of repro issues and hair pulling. Our lovely girl Georgie (UKC Ch AKC BOB Major Pointed Broadways Elegant Design BN, RN, DNA-VP) gave birth to 5 gorgeous pups with a pretty laid back whelping. Actually it was so laid back that we had to take her to the vet to get some oxytocin to finish out the last puppy since she was so ho hum about producing good solid contractions.
Mom and babies are doing great. If you're interested in one of these guys, we have a couple of the black tri boys available to approved homes. More information is HERE.
I had been riding Piper but it had gotten to the point where she was doing pretty well and Sarah could learn a lot from riding the Super!pony so we swapped. Sarah had a lot of pre conceived notions when she first came to me and we're slowly working through them bit by bit. This one would be the "pony sized things are evil" "stock horses aren't good dressage horses" and "tiny trots can't be fun to ride" things that we're working out of her. Oh and Piper is learning how to bend and balance better and better every day.
One misconception down and many more to go <3
Guess who's 22nd birthday it is???
Not mine... It's Vana - DRAGON!PONY! He looks like a million bucks and seems like he's going on 5 years old rather than elderly stateman status. As we close in on almost a year of this whirlwind journey, I'm just so happy that he's been a part of my life. He's not the easiest horse nor the most forgiving, but he's mine and I've learned so much about upper level riding but more importantly upper level TRAINING as we "fix" lots of things that he "thought" were right. Naturally this leads to lots of disagreements with the Dragon, but he's so much more ridable but also hotter than when I got him and I can't wait to see where we go in the next year.
Naturally keeping him fit, sound, and happy are the top priorities when dealing with the old man and honestly, a big part of all that is keeping him working. He's not going to be a happy retiree whenever the time comes. I can so relate to that concept as I cannot imagine not working in some capacity.
So for his birthday what did we do? We went and had a lesson!
Here's to many more Mr Vana <3
While Wesley (aka Banana Pony) isn't my most underweight rehab horse ever, he was under weight (especially for a QH) and so I've got some pictures to post of his current condition. I think he's looking great and his winter coat is coming out, revealing a gorgeous golden horse underneath! We're working on his ground work and some light riding and have found some sticky spots with him that we're working on getting out of there and making him a happier riding partner!
The day to ride with Conrad was quickly upon me and we set out (not as early) as we'd planned on our assigned riding day (Monday). We had lots of dog training over the weekend and there was some nasty weather as well so we stayed home and made money in order to pay for things like this clinic :P
I really enjoyed my last ride with Conrad and looked forward to seeing him again. I also invited my mom to come watch because that's what anyone closing in on their 40th birthday does, right?
I hadn't been to Tex-Over farms since I was like 15 years old and the area had grown up SO much so I focused on where my GPS said to go (won't do that again oiy) and was soon at the farm. Once I got the trailer and pony situated, I went to watch a few lessons before mine and eventually meet up with my mom. When she arrived it was lunch break and she had a nice chat with Conrad in German when they met. It was amazing how much I understood from listening to it during my childhood even though the topics were completely different than I'd been exposed to (Conrad has a golf course, restaurant, etc on his "farm" so it was fascinating to hear about his "real" life outside Frankfurt). He broke for lunch and we went to wander around some before getting ready for my ride.
Conrad remembered us from our last clinic (I always expect people to forget who is in front of them) and asked what I wanted to work on. Normally I like to tell him to do his worst but I also added in that I'd like to keep working on improving Vana's trot. Probably not the best idea for my body but it was a fun lesson that left me thrilled and exhausted. We even got to work on poles and when we had to canter a pole, I found my distances like a boss and it was so fun.
We did lots and lots and lots of tricky work that made Vana and I work hard but it was all fair and I got some good lessons out of it all. In the end, Conrad praised Vana's condition and chatted about that with the group. I'm so proud of my dragon!pony and our journey.
I asked my mom what she thought and she said it looked like a lot of work but that we looked really good out there. She seemed really impressed with what we're able to accomplish and it was nice to share this with her. Also, she said it was like listening to Opa (my grandfather/her father that passed a while back) give a riding lesson and that that was really funny.