Sunday, September 4, 2016

XC Schooling at Buck's County


I have wanted to go to Buck's County Horse Park for a while.  It looks like a nice place to ride with plenty of room and I knew they had xc up to Training.  They do run a Training/Prelim division that is Prelim dressage and stadium with Training level xc that has Prelim questions on it.  They also hold recognized horse trials there.

We finally made it last Saturday.  It was still pretty warm that morning so I didn't gallop Klein too hard since we had to be out in the heat.  It was a bit more dry over there, so that helped.  Klein felt great.  She was up for whatever I pointed her at she always is.  We really only schooled a couple Novice fences and the rest were all Training.

 
Training table.

At first I could not figure out for the life of me WHY there were fences that looked like Training level yet had these black numbers on a golden background in addition to the normal black with white numbers that Training is.  Then it finally occurred to me, THOSE are the T/P xc numbers.  Duh.

See?

Another one.

Anyway, Klein warmed up great and off we went.  There's plenty of gallop room there and also some spots where the trails go through a wooded area with xc jumps along the way.  There were a few other riders around.  Some were trail riding, one jumping intro xc jumps, and a few more playing polo.

It is mandatory to have a ground person there for jumping, so The Other Half came along.  I know getting up early to go take video and wait around on me wasn't his first choice when he could have been sleeping in, but...he did it anyway because that was the last day to school there for a few weeks due to the recognized HT coming up.  Klein is my teammate, but so is The Other Half because of things like this.  So many things he does or helps me with makes it possible for Klein and I to be out doing whatever we want to, and I never, ever forget how lucky we are for one minute.

There was nothing particularly tricky out there at Buck's County.  I did like that some jumps were hiding in the woods or in really shady spots so that they would come up quickly on us.  Klein mare didn't care.  There was one Training level oxer in a nice shady spot, you'll see it on the full helmet cam video toward the end.  There was also a half coffin, which was nice.  It was Training, but those can show up on Novice courses as well, we've had one at Chatt Hills on the Novice xc.  Klein has never cared about them one way or another but it's been a while since we've had a chance to school one and her thoughts about them haven't changed.

A photo posted by Stacey C (@jumpingpercheron) on

The water wasn't filled, but there was enough to make a little splash (click to play):

A video posted by Stacey C (@jumpingpercheron) on
 

Our last little run was definitely my favorite and I was super proud of her for it.  I'm really not sure why I had her to the right on that log.  I didn't even realize it until I saw the video.  I also could have re-balanced her a bit better coming down to the yellow and green table, but she got it done and it was super fun!

I didn't realize there was this much of a drop on the back side until I saw this.  Landing off of that was straight down hill, as you can probably tell in the video.


Here's the clip of it (click to play):

A video posted by Stacey C (@jumpingpercheron) on

She would have gotten a better jump over this if I would have helped her out a bit more.

And the helmet cam view (click to play):

A video posted by Stacey C (@jumpingpercheron) on

I put together a full video of all of my helmet cam clips from the day too:


The next day I was going take her for a hack to stretch her out, but something came up that evening and took some of my free time so I put her on the longe line to still get her stretched out and see how she looked.  She looked just fine like always and full of it.


The longe line has never, ever been her favorite.  She always has an opinion about it.  She ALWAYS has to let me know, she'll do it because I'm telling her too, but she doesn't LIKE it.  I mean, here's a great example of that when she was six:

What do you do when 1,500 pounds stands up like this?  Nothing.  You act like it didn't happen and keep them doing whatever they are supposed to be doing on the longe line.  Or at least that's what I always did, and it worked for me, but it may not work for every horse.  Anytime she would have a fit, I just wouldn't acknowledge it and she learned really quick it was a waste of her time to act silly like that.  All it did was make her stay on the longe line longer.

Why that little side track?  Well, because this exact evening after Buck's County, Klein threw a fit about being on the longe line.  She decided she would bounce the first two cavaletti, trot the last two, leap in the air like a Lipizzaner and squeal then come around and trot through the cavaletti line PERFECTLY.  The Other Half is my witness.  He was standing out there with me and saw the whole thing and we both just started cracking up.  She is SUCH a smart ass sometimes!  That was her way of telling me she'll do it, but she doesn't LIKE it.  I wouldn't trade her for the world though.  Smart ass tantrums and all, that's my girl!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Adjustable Draft Horse

Lately Klein and I have been working hard on refining her ability to be adjustable.  She come back when you ask, and she moves out when I put my leg on.  There is a distinct difference but there's still some need to refine it.  I'd like her to have a bit more come back to her more to help her re-balance and become just a little more upright and carry herself a little more. 

This was from this evening.  We schooled xc yesterday (video and helmet cam heavy post coming) so the next day I always take her for a light hack or put her on the longe line to stretch her out.

What turned this light bulb on is her tendency to get a little heavy down the long side on the dressage ring at the canter.  I think sometimes that when I taught her to lenghthen at the canter on the long side she has a little too much fun with it and she sometimes tries to just go for it.  When I half halt her whenever we make that turn onto the long side there is a bit of delay that shouldn't be there, and it should not have taken me this long to put some real concentration into fixing that.  So, we're fixing it now.

This of course also all translates into jumping, not just flat work.  Klein does well when she has visuals too.  For example, this past week I set up two very small verticals that were 15ft apart.  That allows them to either be a bounce OR a one stride.  She easily understands that she can make that a bounce.  It took her the second time through to get to it on a really short stride to make it into a one stride but she got it.  After that I rode through it on each lead at random and would randomly bounce it and randomly make it a one stride so that she had to listen and couldn't guess what I was going to ask her to do with it.  Things like that make sense to her.  She has an obstacle to get to and understands that I'm asking her to do something because it relates to that obstacle.

I did the same thing with ground rails and a line of cavaletti the next day.  I had the ground rails in a fan shape so they would be on a turn.  I asked her to shorten her stride so that she could make it through the ground rails at a canter, correctly.  Again, she totally got it.  The cavaletti were spaced at 6 ft apart and I was planning to use them only at the trot but half way through I started to wonder if I could get her to make her stride short enough should could canter them.  It took about three tries but, she got it.  She would canter the first two and jump the last two, most likely because that's much easier than sitting back and using some serious balance.  I knew it was hard for her so once she nailed it twice, that was good enough on that exercise. 



I'm a really word-associated person with riding.  Things that instructors tell me to visualize stick with me.  Also, sometimes I can just THINK about making a movement and Klein begins to respond.  We're coming up on ten years together so I'm sure that has something to do with it.  For my short strides I would think "short choppy, short choppy, make her walk."  The "make her walk" thing is something Lainey told me in our dressage lesson a few months ago.  It definitely helps.  It helps me to make sure my core stays engaged so that Klein knows what I am asking.  Also, if I let any of that core engagement go, Klein will think "well, I thought you were asking me to shorten but...now I'm confused?"  When we lengthen again I think gallop because one dressage instructor told me that a few years ago.  Of course we're not hand galloping around the dressage ring but it helps (me) to make sure I show a difference, ride uphill, and allow Klein to MOVE.  She would say "think gallop, think gallop," so I do. 

I'm really happy with these rides lately.  This is one area we can always improve in.  I mean, who would have thought a full draft could fit her big butt through a 15ft space while putting in a stride?

 
 And this is just because these guys crack me up.  The Other Half and I had to run an errand this evening and when we came home they were at the other end of the pasture, but walked down to give me the stare down because it was slightly past pony dinner time.  As I was getting out of the car I felt eyes and I turned around to this. Ha!  

Speaking of The Other Half, he has got Wes running to him when there's a giant horse fly that lands on him because he KNOWS The Other Half will come to his rescue and smack it.  When he sees Wes trotting around scraping under every branch he can find we know there's one on him and The Other Half will run out the front door saying "Hold on buddy!!!!!!!"  Yesterday evening Wes came trotting up to him while we were out cleaning up and turned his butt toward him because one had landed on him so that The Other Half could kill it.  This is the kind of stuff a true Horse Dad is made of.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Pine Barrens Round Two


Last weekend I picked up Meg and Runkle and took them with us to the spot in the Pine Barrens that Klein and I had recently went to.


It was another good ride for Klein to just relax and hang out.  She was the perfect buddy for Runkle too.  She was kind of his security blanket, even though she couldn't have cared any less.  He was adorable.  He would try to nuzzle her butt (all the boys LOVE her big butt) and put his nose to her neck, and I don't think she actually every acknowledged his existence once.  That's just how she is though, no offense to Runkle, it definitely wasn't him.

We had a great time wandering around the Pine Barrens and getting in the water again, no kayakers to run into this time.  Runkle got his toes wet too, like a brave baby.

The water is dark due to the tannic acid.  It's weird, the tannic acid actually purifies this water, despite the dark color it is really clear when you look into it.  This stuff was eeeevery where in the south.



Klein mare in four wheel drive (click to play):


We ran into dirt bikes and other people on horses, since Klein didn't care about any of that, it helped Runkle to not care too much either.

I'm looking forward to going back again and exploring the areas we haven't yet wandered into.  That place is perfect for a long, relaxing ride.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Lying in Wait

What a distance to jumping a square oxer on an angle on my Klein baby looks like (with a blurry cameo by The Other Half).

 Lately I have been extra thankful to have my ponies at home.  It allows me to basically lie in wait until the heat breaks late in the evening and I can run out and grab Klein.  If she were boarded, I would most likely still just hang around the barn until that point because her rides are important, but at least I can get other things done around my house, or start my barn chores, or work on homework until that point instead of sitting around.

The other night I thought I was going to call it a night because it was just a really hot and humid day and the humidity just wouldn't let up.  I went outside to start my barn chores and felt a difference in the air, it wasn't so bad out anymore.  I went right back in the house and put my breeches and boots on and went to get Klein.  I already had something set up in the arena just in case.  It's the days like that that I'm extra thankful.

We were able to get a short, sweet, and to the point jump school in that evening!

Jumping a low, wide, square oxer on an angle.  Blurry thanks to the iPhone's crappy low-light capabilities, or lack there of.

Working through the line.

Some helmet cam and a clip from that evening (click to play):

A video posted by Stacey C (@jumpingpercheron) on

A video posted by Stacey C (@jumpingpercheron) on

A few evenings lately have been pretty much perfect, so, on one of those evenings, after Klein and I finished our dressage work, I took the girls out for a sunset stroll together.



Friday, August 19, 2016

#BAMF

Remember I asked for a Thug Life Klein??  Huge thanks to Kelly Moore Synott because she made a Thug Life Klein and sent it to me.  I have been laughing at it ever since!!  It's perfect!


That picture goes along perfectly with Klein's saddle pads I picked up yesterday.  I had #BAMF embroidered on a couple of her saddle pads and there will be more!  Dressage pads will be next.  I had another Jumping Percheron polo made and #BAMF is on one of the sleeves of that too.  Because, well, Klein's a BAMF.  That's one of her "official" hashtags.  


More saddle pads with our logo.

My jacket came out perfect!


The Other Half also has a polo now too.  Farmhouse Custom Embroidery has done all of our custom items.  She does a great job and you can browse a whole online catalog full of apparel and other things like the bag above that you can order through her and have whatever you want put on it.  It's quick too!  Go check her site out if you need anything!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

South Georgia Hot

 View from our front door.

It has finally gotten South Georgia Hot here, meaning the heat and humidity are in full effect and making life slightly miserable.  When it gets like this I have to get really careful with Klein's work because the heat and humidity is a little extra rough for the big ponies.  Remember she got a mild case of anhidrosis as a parting gift from South Georgia last year too.  Our vet there said that it was really a hit or miss thing if she would have an issue from there on out.  The summer down there last year was extra brutal and there had been a rise in anhidrosis cases in the area.  We had been there for almost 3.5 years at that point and Klein had never had any issues.  It just came out of nowhere one day.  I noticed immediately one day that she wasn't sweating on her neck like normal and that she was only sweating under her tack.  One AC fixed her right up.

I had been debating on putting her back on it when the heat and humidity showed up this year up here but I really wanted to see if it would come back or if it was a freak thing and she was a victim of the extra nasty summer in the south last year.  I'm happy to say she's had NO issues up here.  Even with this oppressive heat that has come in the past couple weeks, she is working in it with no problem.  We have been under several excessive heat warnings that have lasted for days at a time recently.

Now, I do sit around and wait until the least nastiest part of the evening to ride her.  It's not like I'm out there in the middle of the day with the sun on full blast.  I'm not doing that to her, period.  I have thought about riding before work but the humidity is higher in the mornings so we stick with the evenings.  As soon as she's done working she's being hosed off and standing in front of a big fan within five minutes.  She also gets sprayed or sponged down with liniment that has alcohol in it.

Wes is definitely not enjoying this nasty weather lately.  My poor Canadian polar bear is out there drenched, yet...stands in the sun when our pastures have a TON of shade.  We have been hosing them all off in the middle of the day when we are home or in the evenings if we've been at work all day.  Mochs is from South Georgia so she's used to this kind of weather, though she was drenched the other day as much as the drafts were.  Last Saturday was just extra disgusting.

The Other Half hosing ponies off, because that's what good Horse Dads do on hot summer days before we leave to run any errands for ourselves.

Here's Wes in front of one of the fans after I hosed him off for the second time that day (click to play):


And the next day, The Other Half had the awesome idea of putting another big fan we have by the front paddock so that Wes could graze and stand in the fan if he wanted to instead of standing on the porch of the barn.  Here's Wes enjoying that set up (click to play):


Also, on these extra hot nights, the ponies get some cold ones in their grain. 


I grabbed Guinness the other evening, but the do enjoy Coors Light, Miller Lite, PBR, Bass, some random dark beer we had in the fridge with dead presidents on it, and whatever other random beer people that come over leave in the fridge.  I gave Klein a good amount of Guinness in the first couple days of her anhidrosis issue while I was waiting for One AC to show up, but it didn't really do anything for her as far as triggering sweat.  But, they love their beer as a treat in the dinner so they continue to get it once in while.  Let's hope this heat and humidity breaks soon!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Horse Park of New Jersey Horse Trials 2

 Pretty sure this is my new favorite pic ever.

A week ago last Sunday Klein and I competed at the recognized Horse Park of New Jersey Horse Trials 2 in the Novice Rider division.  Rain threatened the event all week and even the morning we were supposed to be loading up it was pouring so hard I could barely see the road in front of our house.  All three of the ponies were standing up under the barn watching their pastures flood.  Thankfully it stopped just in time for me to run out and lower my trailer on my truck, give Klein another quick bath, load her, feed Mochs and Wes, and be on my way.

Klein and I got there with plenty of time before our dressage ride at 11:13.  She had been a bit of a handful in her loose ring again the week prior so I put her in her Boucher for dressage.  My plan worked and she felt great.  I had already planned to have a longer warm up for dressage than normal to make sure I had her attention but she didn't need it.  We went about fifteen minutes early too.  If we can go early, we go.  Rain was threatening us that afternoon again so if it was going to be anything like that morning, I wanted to get as much done at the event as we could before it potentially got nasty.

The rings were sloppy from all the rain that week and that morning.  Though sloppy it wasn't bad to ride in.  Klein felt great and put in a very nice test.  I felt confident with it.  There was no drifting of the haunches on our final turn up the center line and I rode with my whip this time so she was a bit more forward.  No pictures again, unfortunately.  The Other Half was gone for work again so it was just Klein and I until a couple friends got there later that afternoon to hang out with us.

Klein baby not particularly thrilled she had to stop snacking on her alf to go do some dressage.

Klein scored a 32.50 on that test.  I honestly felt like she did better than that, but a 32.50 isn't terrible either, so we were happy with that.  I need to go back and look closely at the test but I know there were a lot of 7's and some 8's on there.  The scribe for our ring was in the office when I picked my test up and said she just loved Klein and really appreciated seeing something different in the ring besides the 183,485,302,384,210 TBs that are at every event.  You'll never catch me in that club.  She also remarked how light Klein is on her feet and how despite the sloppy rings, Klein didn't go in there splashing around.

Stadium was supposed to be at 1:26 but we moved our ride up to 1 because we were going to warm up with my instructor again and to make her crazy schedule easier we went early.  Again, I was more than happy to go early all day in hopes we would beat the rain coming in that afternoon.

Klein warmed up a little behind the leg but woke up on the last warm up fence and when I felt that nice, round effort we headed for the in gate.  Because of all the rain that week it was extremely humid.  So I was trying to be a bit conservative with her energy because I knew the heat and humidity were less than pleasant conditions.


Stadium was just making a mess of every level that weekend.  Every one was taking number four.  Three to four was a bending line and you pretty much had to jump four on an angle.  People were getting to it crooked and back legs kept tapping it.  That fence even claimed BDJ that day.  We had worked on squaring our turns lately to make sure we were straight on our approaches so it was the perfect time to put that to use.

We went in and Klein felt great.  Everyone was also taking out number two, so I took note of that and made sure to sit up a little more than I thought I needed to make sure Klein was balanced to it.





 

Number six ended up claiming us.  Both sides didn't even come out of the cups.  It was annoying but the rest of the round was great and more improvements were evident in the quality of Klein's canter and our pace.  A friend took video of our round so you guys can see how it went:


Cross country...oh cross country how Klein LOVES her xc.  I was excited when I walked the course.  it was clear that it was a step up in difficulty from the last horse trials, like it is supposed to be.  I am really loving the Horse Park of NJ.  We had bigger/wider fences early in the course, the bank and drop was now also on the front end of the course as well.

As usual, as soon as Klein saw the xc fences when we were walking to the warm up her ears shot up.  In the warm up, suddenly it wasn't so hot and humid.  She was SO READY.  She didn't want to listen to half halts and she came to the warm up fences a bit sloppy but they also had starter size fences for warm up this time too and that didn't help.  There wasn't even a starter level running that weekend so I'm not sure why they had the tiny stuff for warm up.  The proper Novice warm up fences were just a few hundred feet away and could have easily been used.  Actually I think Training was warming up with them earlier that day.

Anyway, Klein didn't need any warm up.  I jumped her twice and cantered down to the starting box.  We went early for xc too.  After stadium we had an hour until our xc ride time but we just went straight over there and the warm up guy was like "You ready?  You want to go in two riders?"  Um yes please!  Must.  Beat.  Rain.  Storm.

Here was our course:







The Jersey Shore.  We actually entered to the left of this.  We had to go through the water, up on the bank in the middle and down through the water on the other side.

 







This picture doesn't quite show just how down hill it was to this one.

Ha, can you tell this was set on kind of an angle??


Klein was ready to jump from the startbox.  She knows what they are doing when they are counting us down and she was spring loaded.  Watch her ears prick forward during the count down on the helmet cam, she was ready for launch.  You can hear me tell her "Easyyyy..." after the first fence.  She LOVES her xc.  She was ready to tear that course up and that is exactly what she did.  You will also hear me tell her "you added a jump, good job" after The Jersey Shore water complex. There was a little embankment we came up and she jumped up it after we came out of the water. 

You'll hear me again after the ditch because she acted like it wasn't even there and I kind of half laughed.  The wine barrel jump right after the ditch was catching some horses off guard.  It was an immediate right turn uphill to the barrel jump that was in a shady spot.  The horse and rider before us stopped at it actually.  Klein couldn't have cared less and the photographer actually got a really nice picture of us over it.  We got to it perfectly.  I'll probably end up buying that pic too.

Klein baby off the other side of the bank.


Heading to the barrels from the ditch.

The next two fences were an AB combo that were also on a tight right angle.  Klein gave no notice to any of that.  I didn't think she would.  I did let her slow up to number 14.  It was on a decent down hill that had some deep spots in front of it from the rain.  Rather than have her slip or slide and second guess or get her to an ugly spot I thought that would be the better option for her and it was nbd.  After that we galloped down hill and across the main entrance road.  The footing right after that crossing was also deep because the water would run off the road and down right there.  I just made sure to sit up and she was fine, I got her to the picnic table right there perfectly. 

 My girl just doing what she does.

We were double clear with plenty of time to spare.  Klein galloped right to everything.  She was just awesome.  Like usual, I wish I could have went right back to the startbox and went again.

Here is the helmet cam:


And here are a few other clips from around the course:

 

And Klein baby coming up to and over fence 9 (click to play):

A video posted by megan (@kieshorse) on

With our rail, our final score was 36.50 and we finished 3rd out of 18 starters.  Another fun day out with my horse of a lifetime!

 

P.S.  As we were leaving I saw the dark storm clouds in the distance and about fifteen minutes after we left the horse park it let LOOSE on the horse park!  A wall of water hit the last half of the BN divisions!  The pictures are crazy!  We got out of there just in time!