As "fall" approaches here in Texas (despite the lingering 90+ temps), I know that the shorter days are looming and I have 4 horses to ride (2 with the goal of selling). I altered my work schedule this week to try for a 6a-3pm type of arrangement and it's been working really well except I STILL don't have enough time. Hypothetically the covered arena will mean more winter riding no matter what plus having 6 horses is just too.many for someone like me so I needed to do something.
Living in a college town has a few perks and one is that you have a source for working students. Since I'd been working on Vana and Jade, I'd just focused on that as we flew through the fall show season. With our last show coming up though, I knew it was time to plan for the winter "down" time and did an ad for needing a working student. Unlike before, I was pretty specific in what I wanted as far as skills went and I was pleased with the assortment of people dying to come ride my motley crew.
The first person that came out has barn, groom, and riding experience to 2nd level. She's also interested in getting an OTTB to train in eventing. Hai. We met and she came back the next day to ride Simon. They got on well and she liked my training methods so needless to say she had the job. I had another interview where I just wasn't feeling it and then one more for Sunday where she'd done a lot in Australian and seemed like a good candidate for... something.
When I met this girl, she was gutsy, game for anything, and super intense. Kind of reminded me of a certain painted pony... We tacked poor Piper up for her first ride in two years and she just rocked it with the girl. I think Piper was so happy to be heading off maternity leave and I told the girl she had it.
So the gist is I work Vana and Jade with the working students helping me with that, plus doing chores, plus riding "their" horses under my instruction. Shows will be on a rotating basis (one of the girls is coming to Regionals on Saturday to help me pack up woot!) It looks like a win win and it was SO thrilling to end a day knowing that FOUR horses had been worked before dark. Oh and it doesn't hurt that the girls love my critters.
Piper is so excited about being ridden. Or selfies. Hard to tell. Zara is just happy in general.
We all know I love me some Jaders but with Vana doing decent (and me not royally messing him up), I needed to get serious about riding Jade regularly now that I'm not in constant pain from learning to sit Vana.
The main idea has been riding with contact at all three gaits and working on nice and light lateral work. This is definitely a 1% better each day goal but we're chipping away at it and Jade keeps trying hard while I keep rewarding with the best timing I can.
I started out riding in her Lazer saddle but its just not as nice as my Icon Flight so I opted to swap it one evening and she was SO much freer in the shoulder so I've just reverted to using that whenever I can. We've also been doing some half seat at the end to let her "zoom" around and I can't wait to take her out to Pine Hill to "zoom" around on teh flat and give splashing in the water a go.
We also took our first "trail ride" off the property by hacking out the front gate to the neighborhood under construction across from us on Saturday. Baby horse was rock solid and thought it was all in great fun. I was so proud (considering walking on any grass a year ago was cause to metldown and go on high alert) and she was so surefooted (I was maybe or maybe not a bit worried about walking on the asphalt) that I couldn't have asked for a better critter.
Y'all. Guys. Whatever.
Get some of these...
No you can't just go to their site and click on things and Poof! it's there, but they're super easy to talk to and when I ordered these babies about 6 weeks ago, I was skeptical ordering from overseas, but Amanda said on her blog they're wicked awesome and I love me some Amanda!shopping. I needed some white gloves for the upcoming shows but I didn't want WHITE so I ordered white backed gloves with black palms. iQuip was wonderful to order and while I didn't get them in time for the labor day show, I did get them today.
I message Amanda as soon as I got them and she asked if I'd opened the package yet. I told her no, I was at Chik Fil A in the drive through and didn't want to spaz out over them there. Naturally she pressured me to do it (she rocks) and I ripped the package open. It was lovely in there with a glove bag, some shiny paper, and GLOVES! I shoved my right hand in immediately and the fit, well, like a glove. So gorge and just wonderful. I drove the rest of the day driving with them like a freak to "break them in" as the literature recommended.
I rode in them a day or so later and they worked great, but the finger channels were too short on the left hand specifically so I contact iQuip (where I ordered two more pairs *cough) but asked for the finger channels to be longer (I didn't really notice them while riding). They happily obliged and I'm now waiting on a pair of silk lined eventer style in black with white piping and another pair of the dressage ones in black with white piping to arrive.
So long Roeckls...
I decided to enter this show with the goal of hammering out a few more medal scores and hopefully a Q for GAIG/SWDC. I did none of that.
After the labor day show I felt optimistic about where we were and moving forward. The frugal one in my wanted to hold off and just do ALL the things at Regionals but then I realized that was ONE show not two or three and so that wouldn't count for when I needed TWO shows for some awards. Besides, I figured we'd be competitive at Second Level for Championships so why not?
Well, Saturday was a mess. I woke up stupid early basically shaking in anxiety (not normal at all for me) and I wanted to just curl up and die. Instead I got up and went to a horse show. Makes sense :P I was all alone for this venture (no husband, trainer, etc) but it was going to be fine. When our time came up, we warmed up and focused on being nice and loose. But the thunderstorms in the area had Vana hyped up (he's normally hyped for his first test anyhow) so we did our best before heading to the arena.
And being stopped by the ring steward.
With the thunderstorms in the area, they were having competitors walk around across the concrete this really awkward way. Vana was having none of it so I asked about just risking it and they said I'd be DQed. Grrr... Someone offered to hand walk him over so we skittered over there and Vana's warmup was toast at that point. We were also entered down this long HORSE EATING DARK HAUNTED HOUSE chute to the main arenas so he was trying to talk himself into not going or just bolting down it while we waited to go in. It was super smex. Finally they let us in (after turning off the Big Ass fans because balloons had gotten caught in them either the test before ours or the one before that). It was not looking super awesome but we preservered.
Lengthenings were NOT an issue, but basically anything that used a right bend was. *sigh We were sub 60% on that test but I guess it made sense. Everyone's scores were bunched around there with only one person I think over 60.
Next day I had husband to video and #tiredVana to show. The test felt more consistent and upon trainer's urging to really work that right side we had some better bend. I felt the test was SO MUCH better, but this judge was tougher and we scored better, but not good enough to break the 60% mark. Again, the class seemed to go that way with only one person over 60% I think.
Everyone was complimentary of what we'd done and freakishly supportive (seriously, these dressage people guys!), but I wasn't sure what to think. Sure it was a new level for us, but unno. I thought we'd be over 60s until say 3rd level. I felt like I'd just set $500 on fire but was trying to convince myself it was "all in the name of learning" and that entering the Autumn Classic (not Regionals) was going to be worth it.
So it was our first womp, womp weekend, but Vana showed me he's a much better one test a day sort of horse and that we still have a LONG road to go on this journey. Excuse me while I go do more sitting trot and fitness.
I rode tonight. I didn't want to after spending the day eating healthy, getting ready for our dog event this weekend (paperworkwise), and working all day at the shit show. Upon getting home, it was 100 degrees again and and I just couldn't.
I avoided stuffing my face with Smores Oreos and grabbed a tablespoon of peanut butter and flopped on the couch, trying to convince myself that it was too hot, once it cooled down I'd ride, and/or that once it cooled down we were going to be slinging straw bales in the barn to reset the barn hunt course so riding didn't matter, I was going to be active.
Then I recalled that I had a show in a little over a week where I needed to actually sit my moose's trot. Eh, I was decent enough at it that we'd pull a 60% unless he went full on passage again. Back to watching tv and trolling the internet.
Then I saw Elisa Wallace's Burghley dressage video - something I'd wanted to watch during the day but didn't get a chance to (womp womp). They talked to her after this career high and the gist was.. dedication, passion, and loving what she did no matter what.
I put on my breeches and rode.
It sucked. I lengthened my stirrups just one hole and ... it sucked. I flopped too far back, my left shoulder was hell bent on falling in (something that doesn't happen that badly really). I could barely do more than a school trot at times. Vana was not heavy.. just... bleh. I worked on him, I worked on me. When I was done we were both tired but we'd done it. And honestly, sometimes just doing things is a victory in itself.
I know 1% better each day adds up and I feel like I tortured my core 1% more for sure. It's not all unicorns and fairy dust but sometimes being fancy 1% better today is enough.
Basically 6:20-end on this video runs through my head all the time. I KNOW it but well... it's nice to hear it somewhere other than in my head.