Monday, March 28, 2016

Best XC School Ever

 Oh ya know, just jumping my Percheron over stuff like this.  Nbd.

My last post was pretty appropriate considering how yesterday's xc school went.  Yesterday was basically perfect.  I could not have asked for anything else from her.  She was beyond amazing.  Proud is an understatement.

Yesterday's school is EXACTLY what I was talking about in my previous post.  The things I have been working on are paying off.  We are going out there and having wonderfully confident schools.  There is not one thing out there yesterday that we jumped where I was like "umm, not sure about that."  No, we were sure about every single fence we jumped.  We committed to every one of them.  This was hands down the best xc school we have ever had.  It was just so smooth and easy for us.  We were just out there cruising around having an absolute blast.

 We almost came back around for that Trakehner, but why?  No need yesterday.  That trakehner is on the hit list though.

 Warm up.

 Locked on to her next target.

 Training roll top.

 Here she is locking on to the other roll top.

This girl seriously had me like:

Check her out over this Training table.

(here's one where my release is lacking)

Of course I had my helmet cam on, but The Other Half was nice enough to be my ground person and take some video for me.  Here is the helmet cam:

Here is the video The Other Half took:

This was extremely helpful because I immediately noticed my releases weren't that consistent.  That's an easy problem that was fixed as soon as I saw the video.  

 Training bank.  This doesn't look that big, but it was a decent size and we were going uphill to it, she had to work a little for this one.

 We'll hit the full half coffin next time.  No need for it yesterday, and she has schooled them before and has never taken notice.  She looked a little bit at a smaller ditch last weekend and got a tap for it.  I think she remembered because she pulled me over this thing like "LOOK MOM THIS IS ME NOT LOOKING!!!"

 My release was crap here.  Klein would have been 110% warranted to dump me and slap me around with a hoof for this.  *face palm* Sorry girl.  BUT, look at the room she has over this Training table!

 This was fun too.  Klein has schooled keyholes before on one of our Florida trips.  She never takes notice of them.  I don't think this really can be called a legit keyhole, but something different to look at for her.

 All done!  Another big thanks to The Other Half for being my ground person, taking video, waiting to go fishing to do this for me and having to listen to me rant and rave like a lunatic about how amazing Klein is in the process.  Like he doesn't hear it every day, but it went to a new level yesterday.  I was galloping around saying "OMFG she's SUCH a bamf!!!!  CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS HORSE?!  WHERE DID SHE COME FROM?!?"  Poor guy.  He's such a good sport.

So, what do we do after days like this?  We have a long cool out walk then I give her a liniment bath, do some dynamic stretching, wrap her all the way around in Back on Track no-bows (12 hours on) and turn her out.  She usually gets a drink, grazes for a minute, rolls, then goes back to grazing.  Today and tomorrow are rest days for her.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Best Jump School Ever

I mentioned Klein and I had our best school at 3'3" we've ever had the other day.  Now, let me explain.

Uh, thankfully I have a pic from this school to notice my stirrups have apparently stretched a little bit.  I raised them!

Klein has been schooling 3'3" for a while now.  But in the past year I have really been working on my accuracy.  3'3" isn't big, but it's a height that you can't just go around a course like Mr. Magoo, as Denny calls it, and have the horse save you from not being able to see distances.  Well, maybe some people still can do it like that, but I can't.  For me, that stopped at 3'.  I have been counting to every fence in the past year because I used to have a big habit of not, and that's only making life harder than it needed to be.

Denny hammers home the importance of counting ALL the time.  It was reading post after post about it that I started counting consistently.  Then Doug Payne (one of my absolute favorites!) put an end to the distance debate too when he wrote an article for EN about when his eyes were opened to counting.  Even in my dressage saddle I pick something and count three strides out from it some times.  Sometimes on gallops during our conditioning rides, I will pick something specific (tree, bush, hole in the ground, a random piece of trash on the ground, etc), sit, count down three strides then get back out of the saddle.

Lately I've felt like our jumping is the best it has ever been.  We had a little hiccup with committing to our distances when we first got here, but we sorted that out.  Well, not we, I did.  Klein only does what I do or do not tell her, so I had to fix myself and give her a better ride.

The point of all this?  I think all the obsession I've had in the past year with my accuracy is paying off.  The other evening Klein felt like she was jumping 2' fences instead of 3'3" fences.  She was effortless.  She used to give me a bigger effort over 3'3" but now, she's just like meh, easy.  She can school 3'6", I've jumped her up to 3'9" and it was no problem for her.

Not only can she school 3'9" with no problem, she looks amazing over it.

But, I felt like until I got my riding a little more together we would stick to 3'3".  The other evening showed me that 3'6" courses are looking like they're coming up REAL soon for us.  This year we are doing a lot of recognized HTs but I have been wanting to get her to some Prelim CTs.  She's got the dressage for it, I just wanted to get my stadium accuracy better (and finish last year at Training for the year end awards).  Well, we had a great year at Training CTs, so goal accomplished there.  Time to move on.  Will she ever do a Prelim HT?  I don't think so.  Training is definitely on the horizon for her, but for a three phase, Training is her limit.  We school Training XC and have done an unrecognized Training HT.  A dressage and stadium CT at Prelim?  Absolutely fine for her.

Klein felt so good the other evening I went out and re-measured my jumps when I was done riding because I thought I must have set them lower than I thought.  Nope, I didn't.  They were 3'3".  Go Klein mare.  She's such a beast.  Her papers say she was born in Canada, and I did buy her from Canada, but I'm really starting to think they're fake because there is just no way she's from this planet.

A warm-up line from the other evening:


Friday, March 25, 2016


My Man Crush Everyday building jumps.

The Other Half has outdone himself again recently. I don’t think there is a day that goes by that I don’t acknowledge that I’m a very lucky person.

I had some jump standards that I had drug halfway across the world with me from Hawaii, to New Mexico, then to Georgia. They were starting to fall apart by the time they made it to the second barn in Georgia. Before we left, The Other Half told me to go ahead and just burn them because they were getting so torn up. He promised to make me some new ones that were way better than the untreated crap standards I had, so I burned them.

 Awww yyyyeah, arts and crafts time at our house!

Well, not only did he build me new ones, he did a FANTASTIC job on them. He is a perfectionist when it comes to things like this. He even was a bit upset that I bought the wood without him there because that meant he was unable to inspect every piece I picked out before I bought it. He did say I did a pretty good job on making sure all my wood was straight, and at least I knew to buy treated wood.

 I bought enough to make five sets of standards for now. We can add to that later, but I figured five sets would be a good start, plus I have a full set of cavaletti.

One set of the finished product!  Ready for paint!
This is a dream come true for me.  My horses are at home, and I have an arena also at home, complete with legit jumps.  I can't believe it.  This is beyond awesome.  I've waited for this day for a lllllong time.  It would not have happened without The Other Half.

He even put together two more the other evening so I could have them for gymnastics yesterday after he had been out running around with over a hundred pounds of gear on, shooting at people and getting shot at (federal law enforcement trains for real, people).

Klein and I schooled OUR jumps at HOME for the first time last night.  Klein also just happened to have the BEST school at 3'3" that we have ever had, EVER (next post).  It was unreal.

 Warming up through a low Lainey #gotd line.

 I'm SO excited to be able to put together so many great jump schools AT HOME now!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Carousel XC School, Again

Saturday we went back to Carousel.  It was a good place for a friend to take her baby, a good place for another friend to get her guy out for the first time this year, and a good place for Klein to run around on some big hills.

It was beautiful pretty much all week until Saturday.  Of course Saturday had to be breezy, grey, and in the mid 40's.  Yay.  I would have been fine if the sun would have just come out, but no luck. I was cold until we really started getting moving.

Klein wasn't quite awake yet either.  I don't blame her.  I never did wake up that day, I blame the weather. When I went out to get Klein, Mochs and Wes came right to the gate but Klein KNEW she was going somewhere so she stayed out in the pasture.  She doesn't run off but she's just kind of like "Seriously??  It's early."  I've woke her up before all curled up and adorable in a pasture to get up to load for wherever it was we were off to that day.

Despite the mare glares I got before bringing her in, she basically loaded herself.  I think Klein feels just like any of us, sometimes you have to drag yourself out and just get there, then you're totally fine.

Klein has been nothing short of amazing with xc so far.  It's like no time has passed since she schooled xc, when in reality it's been almost two years until this month.  Here's the helmet cam from Saturday.  Bits and pieces of it you have seen from a couple weeks ago, some you haven't.

I muted this one because I am sure you all don't want to hear my sniffling in the cold the whole ride.  I didn't even want to hear it reviewing the video.  

Overall, I was satisfied with my riding.  I felt like we were a little off the whole day but I really think it amounted to me being half awake for some reason and it just being cold and grey.  I know events can end up with weather like this and they will go on, we've competed in cold, wet storms before and hurricane force winds.  Despite being a little out of it, we stuck to our guns and and committed to everything, which is what matters most for us.

I did have one stop that day, due to my own incompetence.  It was cold.  I wanted to avoid being in the water aside from a couple times.  So, instead of letting Klein drop down into the water first without adding the fence before it, I just went for it and it surprised her.  That's what I get, that's where Klein tells me I need to wake up a little more.  It only took that once and there was zero hesitation in her about it from then on.

This next weekend we are schooling a full course.  I'm going to walk it like I would at a HT and not let her see it before we run it.  That way we can do a little practice run of a course we've never seen before.  I'm really looking forward to it.  Hopefully I can get some video of us besides my helmet cam.  I'd really like to see what she looks like going over these fences these days.

She had a busy week last week.  She had two gallops, a gymnastic school, a dressage school, and xc.  She's enjoying two rest days right now.  I have a special surprise for her this week.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Do NOT Put Hi-Run Tires on Your Trailer!!!

Just when I thought the trailer drama was over...  Remember our blowout on the Georgia to New Jersey haul? 

 Brand new load range e tire.  Awesome.

Remember how I said ALL of my trailer tires are new??  I just bought five last summer.  They are all Hi-Run tires which are a standard trailer tire.  They were what my regular tire place ordered for trailer tires so I didn't think much about it.  I got them in load range e too, which are 10 ply tires.  I also know that most tires are made in China now, despite some of the companies being American owned, just like millions of other things.  Do I want Chinese stuff?  No. But when the majority of them are made there and it is something mass produced from a mold, how hard can it be, right?  These are not a super cheap tire either.  I wouldn't knowingly put some crap like that on my horse trailer of all things.  My Scion?  Probably.  My truck and horse trailer, absolutely not.

The Other Half checked the birthday on these tires too when they showed up to make sure they hadn't been sitting for years in a warehouse somewhere.  So, obviously I was slightly pissed off when I had a blowout on the way to New Jersey from Georgia.  I thought I just had that unlucky number to have a brand new tire come apart. 

Yesterday Klein and I went xc schooling.  I came home and as soon as I got out of my truck to unload Klein I heard hissing.  I yelled at The Other Half to come and listen and unloaded Klein.  Sure enough...a belt was separating in the left rear axle tire.  Are you f'ing serious?  I JUST BOUGHT THESE TIRES.  Now, I'm pissed.  This is completely unacceptable.  It's pretty hard to be too upset though knowing that I was THAT close to a belt separating and had just been on the highway.  Part of the trip yesterday was going over the Delaware Memorial Bridge too.  It's a big bridge with no break down lane.  Yeah, that would have been probably the most un-fun thing in my life if something were to happen going up or down that bridge.

The Delaware Memorial Bridge that we had to cross to and from our schooling yesterday.  How not fun would it be to have an issue on this??  The traffic is always the same as the picture too.  Sometimes they are working on it and have a lane shut down, which makes it even more fun.

I'm calling my tire place in Georgia tomorrow.  This is complete bs.  However, I don't want them to warranty replace these pieces of shit.  Now I get the fun chore of replacing all six (four on the trailer and two spares) tires, five of which I JUST BOUGHT.  Fml.  We are xc schooling next weekend too, so I need them on my trailer like, tomorrow.  These two going down just took out my two spares and there's no way I'm going somewhere without at least one.  I have been driving around with one spare since the blowout on the trip up here, because I've been a slacker on putting a new tire on my second spare rim only because I haven't had to haul far to anything here, now I'm glad I was.  I would have been in the same mindset of "oh it was just terrible luck" that the one came apart and replaced it with another Hi-Run to keep all my tires the same.  

I double checked and Carlisles ARE still produced in the U.S.  I ordered two today and they will be here this week.  Both spares will be back in business and we'll be rolling out to another great xc school this weekend.  F you Hi-Run.  Never again. And to all my horse friends, DO NOT EVER BUY HI-RUN TIRES!  Not even for a pedal bike (if they make them that small, still, don't do it).

Saturday, March 12, 2016

XC Lesson/School

 Klein and one of her new buddies.
She did have her back boots on, but one slipped right before our last round of jumps, so my instructor grabbed them for me.

Klein and I had a xc lesson/school this morning.  Klein was GREAT!  I couldn't have been happier with her!  We had an awesome lesson.  It was a beautiful morning for it too.

We warmed up and got to work.  I was super happy with my riding today.  Every once in a while I'll have one of those little fits where I feel like I let Klein down.  Ever since our last jump lesson the light really came on with committing to my distance and it showed today.  I am extra proud of our teamwork today.

We jumped whatever our instructor pointed us at.  Some of it included some Training stuff and Klein was game for anything like usual.  I was honestly slightly wondering what I would have this morning because we had a conditioning ride last night with some speed work in it and Klein just wanted to FLY.  I don't let her take off when she wants too, but there was speed work in our schedule last night so out of curiosity after I had asked her to behave and hold it in for a 1/4 mile, I let her go.  I checked my GPS when we were done to see just what she had gotten up to...23 mph aka 641 mpm.

We had jumped a ditch in one area of where were were galloping and for some reason it flipped a switch in her.  From that second on she was fire-breathing.  All I could think was, "I really have created a monster."  But I wouldn't trade it for the world. Even with all of her insistent hauling-ass she was recovering quickly.  Her heart rate was coming back under 120 with a quickness.  She sure does bounce right back into shape.  That is due to all the time we spent on conditioning while she was four and five.  She has a great base and studies show once you build a legit fitness base on a young horse it stays with them.  I think that theory has proved true with her.

She was completely fine today as far as speed.  There were a couple times she snuck in picking up the pace, but it was nothing inappropriate for what we were doing.

Things we worked on today was me sitting a little earlier to fences and in tight turns.  I also needed a reminder of when to use and opening rein to make my turns a little better.

I really wished I would have gotten some video from the ground.  Next time (aka next weekend).  I did have my GoPro on though.  Here is the helmet cam from today:

Here are pics of a couple of my favorite things we jumped today:




Thursday, March 10, 2016

TJP Throwback Thursday: One of Our Best

This picture is one that I wish more than anything wasn't blurry.  This was while we were in New Mexico. I'm not even sure what was going on that made it come out blurry.  This is a 3'3" triple bar.  I am 99% sure I had set it with a 5' spread.  This picture doesn't have to be clear for you to tell that Klein's knees were about as close to her eyes as she could get them.  If this picture was clear it would have been printed on canvas and hanging up in the living room.

Blurry or not, this is one of my all time favorite pics because Klein is just 110% giving her best effort, and looking text book while doing it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

New Adventure - Assunpink WMA

*le sigh*

Last Sunday I got a last minute invitation to go for a long hack in with a couple friends in Assunpink Wildlife Management Area, aka 6,800 acres of riding.  I have been meaning to go and had recently bought the annual pass to ride there.  It looked like it was going to be a really nice day, why not?  Klein would enjoy a long, relaxing hack (and so would I of course).  We ended up being out for a couple hours and riding nine miles.  It was a good day with good people and good horses.

This place is filled with hills and a couple lakes.  It's a great place to ride.  We had a fun gallop along one of the big lakes.  The ponies all had a fun time being out doing nothing in particular.  That kind of thing is always good for pony mental fitness.

The best part of this ride?  The ponies were 100% Perch, 50% Perch, and 25% Perch.  How cool is that?

Klein was cracking me up when we were done.  I loaded her and was saying bye to my friends and Klein was doing her low nicker from the trailer, basically telling ME I need to get a move on.  She had already had her granola bar, an apple, and had plenty of hay to stuff her face with, but she still felt like she needed to speak up.  She does that sometimes.  

At the Jennie Brannigan clinic she was in the crossties after our ride.  I was watching the next group for a few mins and Klein was untacked and blanketed, she had already had her treat, but I heard her speak up from around the corner.  It's too funny that she rarely talks to other horses but she won't hesitate to say something to me.  I wouldn't trade her personality for the world.

Anyway, we had a great time and are looking forward to more fun rides in this gorgeous Spring weather that has moved in!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

What Makes Wes Happy?

Wes is a pretty simple guy.  He thrives on a routine and doesn't ask for much outside of having a solid routine.

Sunday evening I was coming home with Klein after being out riding with friends and The Other Half took a video as I pulled in the driveway of Wes' normal welcome home routine, cantering and trotting after the trailer.  He LOVES when his Klein mare comes home.  Sometimes he'll whinny to her, of course she never says anything back, but he doesn't let that ruin his fun.  His world is complete again, both mares are safe and home.  What more could a guy ask for?

Here are a couple other things he enjoys:

 Hanging out in the yard while I do barn chores.  Or yard work.

 Generally hanging out and being close with his girls.  I came home from the gym the other morning to find him resting his head on Klein, I'm surprised the fun police puts up with that.

 Group nap time in the sun.

Spring time hair cuts.  It's about that time...he will thank me this week.  Spring has officially made its entrance in to South Jersey.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

GoPro Hero 4 Session

My GoPro Hero4 Session ready for business today.

My new GoPro showed up yesterday.  I upgraded from the Hero2 to the Hero4 Session.  I've had my Hero2 since 2012, so an upgrade was due.  My Hero2 worked perfectly, but I like the more compact and lighter version that is the Hero4, along with its built in wireless capability making it able to connect through the GoPro app on my phone to upload to Instagram and Facebook. 

I took it out for its first ride today on our conditioning ride (gallops).  Here's a clip from that ride:

I have to say, I haven't found a con with it yet, and don't forsee finding any.  This has been a perfect upgrade.  The things I like the most are 1) the weight, and 2) the way you start recording.

It is noticeably lighter. The Hero2 would take a couple minutes to get used to because it was a noticeable difference.  The Session, no adjustment needed.  I really couldn't tell anything was on my helmet.

With the Hero2 I would have to turn the camera on then hope that it was recording video and not taking burst photos.  When you turned the Hero2 on it would turn on in video mode.  If you held the power button on just one second longer than necessary it would turn on and sometimes end up on burst.  The only way to make sure you were on video mode was to take your helmet off and visually check to make sure you were recording video.  Kind of annoying.

With the Session it is one click.  You press the record button and the camera turns on in video mode and begins recording.  When you're ready to stop recording you hit the button and the camera stops that video and powers off.  If you do want burst or time lapse photos you set the camera into either mode and when you power it on it powers on in that mode.  It is SO much better with this set up.  I will never have to guess if it's recording, or hear a second beep and KNOW it's not in video mode after you've already left the start box, went in the ring, etc...  This design is fail safe.

Like every other GoPro, the Session is waterproof up to 10 meters. Good to know for when we go to the beach and get in the ocean.  The Session requires no waterproof case, the unit itself is waterproof.  Pretty awesome.  I also like that this camera is black.  It blends in with my helmet better.

Overall, I'm extremely happy with my upgrade and would recommend it to anyone in the market for a helmet cam.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

First XC School of 2016

 Ready for a nap after a great xc school.

Klein and I had our first cross country school of 2016 yesterday.  There has been a lot of rain lately so it was slightly a gamble on how the footing would be, but it was so nice out, and we've been dying to get on the xc course that I took the gamble.  I had planned on going to a different course that day but that course wasn't dry enough yet and is closed until it drains a little bit more.  The place we actually went to, Carousel, sounded like the footing would be good to go.  Also, Carousel is a lower level place that doesn't hold recognized events, making it was a great place for our first warm up xc school. 


 More hills.

 The first fences on the course.

The big advantages to it are that it has some big hills and it is on an open park where there is a lot of people wandering around, most with dogs and children.  Well, dogs aren't an advantage, but a good distraction test I guess.  There is a dog park there, but there's always that one idiot, right?  We ran into that one idiot on the landing side of a fence too.  We land and he turns with the deer in the headlights look and goes scrambling to catch his dog because of course, he has his dog running free where it is supposed to be on a leash.  Come on people.  There's a dog park within sight (seriously he just had to walk his lazy ass about 300 more feet!) for that stuff, plus, there's TONS of horse jumps everywhere, you KNOW there's riders out there.  Whatever, luckily for him, his dog didn't come running after Klein so no violence on my part ensued.

Klein and I haven't done a real xc run for a while, so this was a good refresher, plus with all the hills, you can't beat the conditioning that place has to offer.  We warmed up over some BN stuff to get our minds in xc mode.  It took about three fences and it's like I hit the "XC On" button on her.  She was ready to go complete Beast Mode on anything I put her in front of.  I was immediately reminded of that time we almost got speeding tickets on the Area X championship Novice course.  We were three seconds from getting speed faults for being too fast...oops.

Yesterday was about committing to our distances (continuing the trend from our last couple stadium lessons), knocking the xc dust off, and conditioning mentally and physically aka getting into the xc mindframe.  I KNOW she could have went out there and jumped every Training fence that place has.  But, that's not fair to her.  Mentally, she'd be all about it.  But physically, I knew those hills were about to put some hurt on her.  You can't up the intensity and volume at once.  You have to bring one up, then the other.  That's a recipe for disaster.  I wanted to give her an easy, confidence boosting school.  Mission accomplished.

Here are some of the jumps:

I let her drift a little left on this one for no apparent reason.  Noted, we'll fix that next time.

Here is some helmet cam from yesterday.  You can tell from the video just how steep the hills are there.  That place is solid gold for those alone.

I ordered a new GoPro today.  It's time for an upgrade.  I got a new GoPro Hero4 Session.  It's much more compact and lighter than the Hero2 I have. The Session also connects to your phone through an app, meaning I can instantly view my videos and upload them to Instagram, Facebook, etc... without having to go home and get them off the SD card first.  You can also connect through that app to make sure your angle is good and the view is exactly how you want it before taking off with it.  My Session is on its way and should be here by Monday.

We would have played in the water more but I had to run her in polos yesterday because a strap broke on one of her rear Woof double lock boots she normally wears.  They are the ONLY thing I have found that fits her rear legs.  However, I did compare the Woof double lock boots that she wears with an XL in the Woof Wear Smart Event Boot at a store recently.  They APPEAR to be the same.  I have tried XLs in different Woof boot models and had them turn out to be too small for her rear legs.  After the strap broke I ordered her a pair of the Smart Event boots for her rear legs.  Cross your fingers for us that they fit.  If they do, I'll order her a pair for the front and keep the double locking for stadium and back up xc if we need it.  The Smart Event boots should be here by Saturday.

If she had her boots on we would have been in the water more, but she went through it fine so, we'll jump into it next time we're there.

Coming up to the water.

I like where the water is here because you can come uphill to it where you can't see the water from the bottom.  You can't see it until you can see over the first log.  That was a good test to see if it surprised her, it didn't as you can see on the video.

My favorite picture from yesterday.  Klein multi-tasking at a gallop in front of a little combination.  She is like "I'm going up this bank to the log, but I'm also going to know EXACTLY what that lady and her dog are doing while I do it."

 After we were done Klein yawned and yawned, had a drink, had her granola bar, cocked a back leg zoned out and waited for me to liniment and wrap her.  She has been on her VERY best behavior for loading lately.  I'm 98% sure I've figured out the trick to stop her random fire breathing loading fits.  They are far and few between but I think I've got them eliminated from her arsenal.  She basically loaded herself yesterday.  I'll have to make a video to show you guys.  All it involves is pretty much holding the lunge whip in one hand behind her.  I have to be VERY particular in how I hold it because a lunge whip can be a MASSIVE insult to her if the wind and humidity are right and the cosmos is aligned. 

Of course, no day is complete with out a good roll when you get home.  I had just cleaned her up the night before and was going to put her sheet on her to keep her clean but, I felt like that would kind of be an ahole move to ruin her roll with an annoying sheet after she worked so hard and did such a great job.  So...have at it girl, get as dirty as you want.