Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Happy Birthday Klein Mare

5 year old Klein, who clearly knows she rules the world.

Today is Klein's 15th birthday.  While she is like a fine wine, I need her to hit the pause button and become immortal. 

Jumping her earliest jumps as a 5 year old.  This photo in particular got me an offer for $25,000 for her.  Obviously she never has been and never will be for sale, so there was no chance for that person who made the offer. 

 Second time schooling 3'9".

Galloping through the desert on xc. 

One of the first pictures I saw of her.  These were in her online sale ad.  She is 2 here. 


2 year old Klein during her first days in Hawaii. 

This was taken the day I picked her up from the port in Honolulu!

She is still going strong at 15, working on Second Level dressage, starting to school Third Level movements, and schooling 3'9" fences.  How long will it be until she starts to tell me it's time to back off?  I have no idea, but I am always listening.  I have always told her if she ever doesn't want to do what we do now, just let me know.  She has nothing to prove to anyone, she doesn't owe me or anyone ANYTHING.

So, she's 15 now, what is her maintenance?  Careful conditioning.  I'm serious.  She's not on anything, she did get Adequan early this year as a preventative but she has never had any joint injections and she's not on any daily supplements for joints and she looks great.  I will give her another round of Adequan later this year as a preventative.

People were extremely negative years ago when Klein started all of this jumping stuff.  They told me I was going to break her or she wouldn't last long, etc...  I always have carefully conditioned her and here were are, still going strong.  Klein is an alien.  I have been convinced for a long time now, she isn't from this planet. 

Some more pictures from over the years:

What's at the end of the rainbow, a perfect unicorn of course. 

Story of our lives. 

Flying. 

This beach was across the street from our barn in Hawaii.  We went there a few times a week.  She was three here. 

Owning the hell out of her stadium round at a horse trial.

The true definition of a Heart Horse in every sense of the word.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Nina Thompson Dressage Freestyle Clinic


This weekend was the dressage musical freestyle clinic I was really looking forward to.  There was an evening seminar session then a riding session the following day.  I have a general idea about what musical freestyles are and the more I see them at rated shows the more I have wanted to do one.  95% of my rides I have Pandora on and there are always songs that seem to match their gaits or that I think would be fun to do a freestyle too so I make a list or download them to make sure I don't forget about them.

I have just never been sure of where to start with putting a musical freestyle together so when I saw this clinic was coming to town I registered immediately with Klein.  The seminar was really a necessary part of the clinic.  Nina broke down the basics of how you get your horse's baseline BPMs (beats per minute) in all gaits, what tools to use, what the range of BPMs are, etc...  She also had different video examples that she made to show us songs that did and did not work for a particular horse.  While some beats may work for a gait, the song may actually make the horse look slower than it is or heavier, or the reverse can happen.  It was very interesting.

In the seminar she also went over how she picks songs, what judges are looking for as far as artistic scoring, and choreography strategy.  I learned a lot!

The second day she told us to have a different color polo wrap on one front leg for our rides.  This helps with visibility when watching the horse to determine BPMs as well as watching it move to certain music.  She sent us all a questionnaire prior to the clinic and asked what level we are riding, our horse's strengths and weaknesses, what is more important: having fun or scoring high, what type of music we had in mind, and did we have a preference for lyrics or instrumental music.


As far as scoring and music I said that I am more interested in having fun with a musical freestyle.  Of course I don't want to go in there and not do well, but if it is between having songs I love or having songs I think the judge would love, I'm going with what I want to ride to.  Nina can work with pretty much any preferences when it comes to songs.  She has a database with hundreds of songs so she can flip through them and find whatever you are looking for, and if she doesn't have it she can get it.

She said that the majority of judges seem to prefer instrumental music so a compromise she uses is, if someone is more concerned about score, popular songs that have been covered by something like a violin group.  Or she will find the instrumental version of the exact song.  She can also work with music and adjust the speed of it if it is slightly off.  Too much adjustment can distort it a little bit though and actually make the horse appear a little heavier.  She showed us examples in the seminar.

The choreography strategy was also very interesting.  I keep forgetting that the judge won't have a list of movements you are going to do for your test.  There are required movements for each level, but they don't have the actual chronology of them like they do with a regular test.  This allows for a lot more freedom.

The second day she started with watching Klein do different movements in all three gaits and matching them with a metronome to get her BPM. 


Then we started trying different songs with the different gaits.  It was fun to listen and feel Klein match up with the music.  We found Macklemore songs that match all of her gaits.  Cake By The Ocean went nicely with her working trot too.  There is also one song I really want to use that we tried and will coincidentally work perfectly with her working canter too, it's called The Man by The Killers and if you read the lyrics and just replace "Man" with "Mare" it's 110% Klein mare.

I know the score like the back of my hand
Them other boys, I don't give a damn
They kiss on the ring, I carry the crown
Nothing can break, nothing can break me down
Don't need no advice, I got a plan
I know the direction, the lay of the land
I know the score like the back of my hand
Them other boys, I don't give a damn
I'm the man, come round
Nothing can break, nothing can break me down
I'm the man, come round and
Nothing can break, you can't break me down
I got gas in the tank
I got money in the bank
I got news for you baby, you're looking at the man
I got skin in the game
I got a household name
I got news for you baby, you're looking at the man
When it comes to Friday, I always earn
But don't try to teach me, I got nothing to learn
'Cause baby I'm gifted
You see what I mean?
USDA certified lean
I'm the man, come round
Nothing can break, you can't break me down
I got gas in the tank
I got money in the bank
I got news for you baby, you're looking at the man
I got skin in the game
I don't feel no pain
I got news for you baby, you're looking at the man
Who's the man? Who's the man?
I'm the man, I'm the man
Who's the man with the plan?
I'm the man
Who's the man? Who's the man?
I'm the man, I'm the man
Who's the man with the plan?
I'm the man
I'm the man
I'm the man
I got gas in the tank
I got money in the bank
I got news for you baby, you're looking at the man
I got skin in the game
Headed to the hall of fame
I got news for you baby, you're looking at the man
Right hand to God
First in command
My testimony, but I take the stand
Who's the man? Who's the man?
I'm the man, I'm the man
Who's the man with the plan?
I'm the man
Who's the man? Who's the man?
I'm the man, I'm the man
Who's the man with the plan?
I'm the man
I don't give a damn
I'm the man


Overall, it was very interesting, and very fun and I am going to continue working with Nina to put together a musical freestyle that we will use this fall at rated shows.  I am looking forward to working with her more and learning more.

12 Years Later, Here We Are


May 30th marked 12 years with Klein.  Each year I do a post, and each year it pretty much says the same, because every year it is still true and it always will be.  12 years later, I am still in awe of her every single day.  She really is like a fine wine.  There is no way I can every thank her or repay her for everything she has done and continues to do.  The places we have been, the things we have accomplished, the memories we have made, the things we have learned together, the things she has taught me about myself.  All of it is priceless and irreplaceable.  I honestly don't know where I would be, or who I would be without her.  She is truly one of a kind and everything that makes a Heart Horse.  She is my Horse of  Lifetime, OG, BAMF horse and I am grateful every minute of every day for her. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

May 2019 Dressage Schooling Show

 Being a model citizen at the trailer.  I don't think I can resist the urge to go put this girl in some USDF DSHB shows this fall, she is too pretty and I just KNOW she would just absolutely own it.

Last weekend I took B to another local dressage schooling show.  She was MUCH more settled this time.  This time I also wanted to try an experiment.  I wanted to try a less is more approach with her warm up due to the way she warms up at home.  She has gotten to the point where every single ride her first canters are prompt, smooth, and obedient.  If she gets wound up over something it usually happens later on.  These times continue to happen less and less though.

I decided that I wasn't going to canter her until the test.  For her warm up I just walked, trotted, did some transitions, a couple halts, and some free walk, then walked around on a loose rein.  She already started off on her very best behavior.  She stood like a statue while I tacked her up and I got right on her from the fender of my trailer.  The past couple months she has been slightly unsettled to get on when she's at the trailer, she is back to her normal self.  She walked around on a loose rein first like she lived there.  After a few minutes of walking on a loose rein we did my simple, slow, warm up plan.  It worked.  We went in and got a 73% on our first test.  That's the highest score she has gotten, it's also the highest score I have ever received on any test.


She felt so good, I definitely trotted right on in there with a smile on my face, just happy to be there with her and happy to feel/see how comfortable she was.


Here she was waiting to go in...wound up, right? 


The next test started off ok, but unfortunately a barnmate of hers had just went before her and after the test his rider stood at the end of the ring on him.  B wanted to hurry down the long side every time we turned toward him.  She's not barn sour, and she doesn't call for other horses, so I'm not sure what that was about but she was definitely distracted by him being right there.  And, we all know that's just the way it goes, a bunch of things happen at shows that you have absolutely no control over and that is why we were there.  She needs to get all the experience she can to include situations like that where she just has to continue working and ignore the distraction. 

The judge even mentioned at the end of the test that it was unfortunate that he was standing there because it made a clear impact in that test.  But, even with the distraction causing her to hurry, break to the trot at one point where she picked up the incorrect lead when I corrected her, she still scored a 65% on that test.  So if she can get a 65% like that, I'll shut up, and I can't wait to see what the score will be when we don't have that going on. 



Definitely need to work on the engagement here but this is also where she was getting a little strung out so, she CAN do better than this.

A rated show was added to the schedule for the local area next month.  I'm still sticking to my plan of waiting until the rated fall shows for Klein to get her Second Level scores, so I will put B in the rated show next month.  It will be her first rated show and she'll just do Training Level for more show miles.  I have a lesson later this week on B too, this will the first time I've ridden her in a lesson, she is more than ready.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Escape

This was circulating on Facebook and I saved it last week because I thought it was appropriate.  Terrible irony that it mentions suicide, but I'm still putting it here because it's still applicable.

This past week was a sad reminder of how important a hobby is.  Something happened in my line of work that should have never happened and now someone no longer has their life.  I wish I could provide more details and tell the full story but I can't for various reasons.  I found it ironic that in the Chronicle of the Horse article I mentioned how much horses help me when it comes to my job and what it involves.  I am by no means complaining, I love my job, but it's not easy and not everyone lasts in it.  I don't know how people deal with it if they don't have a hobby.

I have written about this before, because I regularly have to attend training outside of work to remind me that I'm going to have vicarious trauma through my career whether I want to admit that or not.  I just had this training in March, before that it was last September.  Here is the post from last September about why hobbies are important.  In those times it is also mentioned how important it is to have a hobby or something that takes you away from the thought of the job and the things it contains.  For me, it's obviously horses.

Here is where these two things collide.  Last Monday afternoon I was getting ready to tack B up when I got a phone call that started off with "What are you doing right now?  You're not driving are you?  Are you sitting down?"  My heart jumped into my throat, I stopped what I was doing, I sat down, and braced myself.  I'll never forget the next sentence, it was the notification of a suicide of someone I worked very, VERY closely with and knew very well.  I'm not going to get into the details, because again, I can't for various reasons, but you have to know this part to understand the impact of the phone call and the point of this post.  I know why it happened, and it is directly related to my line of work, my line of work caused it in a way.  Honestly, I'm not sure what is worse, not knowing why, or knowing exactly why. 

After I was done with that phone call, my mind reeling, not sure if I wanted to cry or throw up I thought, "do I get on this horse right now?  Is this going to be fair to her?  Am I in the right state of mind?"  I decided that the best thing for me to do would be to get on the horse.  I finished tacking B up, I put Apple Music on with a song I have been thinking about for a dressage musical freestyle, and I let all my goals and expectations for the ride go right out the window because it wasn't about that.  It was about escaping.

For the time that I was riding I completely forgot about the devastating news I just received just 15 minutes prior.  B and I had a great ride.  This is what my hobby does for me.  Even typing this and thinking about the phone call makes me feel physically ill.  But B took all of that away in minutes just by being her.  If I had been tacking Klein up it would have been the same result, there have been other situations along these lines that Klein has taken me far away from.

After I left the barn, I was in such a spaced out state I stopped at a four way stop for a few minutes because my mind was running through all of these thoughts associated with the person the news was about.  All of a sudden I snapped out of it realizing I was at a four way stop and everyone was waiting on me.  That's a first.

Can riding take these feelings away or make me forget about any of the details of this entire situation?  Of course not, but a temporary escape is a massive help when it comes to dealing with it.  So again, even if it's not riding, say it's hiking or video games, I don't care what it is, knitting, photography, coloring books, it doesn't matter, make sure you make time for it, always.

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Chronicle of the Horse - Honor, Duty And Horses: Perspectives From Military Equestrians


A few months ago I was interviewed by a write for The Chronicle of the Horse concerning being active duty and owning horses.  Today it was published and she did a great job with it!  You can find it here:


Friday, May 10, 2019

Freedom

Finally the last EHV quarantine was lifted last week.  Let's hope it stays that way.  That really messed up a lot of shows, clinics, and other events in the area.  The weather has been perfect here so I have had the girls out to enjoy it.  I took B out for some gallops and hill work in the state park down the road.  Klein and I went out for a bareback stroll through the neighborhood.










I just love this place.  Every single day I drive around still in awe of this place, the weather, the scenery, it's all pretty perfect here.  I also feel so much better overall being out of the northeast.