Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Plantation Field Spring HTs

 Galloping by the stone ruins on xc.  So pretty!

Klein and I competed at the recognized Plantation Field HTs this past weekend.  We had an absolute blast!  The weather was perfect and the event was very well organized.

Professional Horse Hubby right here.

It took place over two days.  Dressage and stadium the first day and xc the second.  I rode later in the day on both days.  Klein and I were in the NR division.

Klein warmed up for dressage a little tense.  There was a lot to look at.  She had never been to Plantation before, neither had I.  The warm up for dressage was up on top of a big hill and you could look out over the hills for miles, it is a beautiful venue.  Klein just wanted to see the sights, and I couldn't blame her!  We warmed up for about 20 minutes and in we went.

I felt like we had a pretty good test, a little tense, not nervous tense but just like wanting to see the sights and not particularly concentrating on dressage tense.  Next time we will head to the warm up a little earlier so we can just walk around and observe things for a few extra minutes.  The only two things that I had an issue with was the second down transition from canter to trot and our halt.  She tuned out to my half halt and really we are supposed to be transitioning from canter to trot between B and F, but we transitioned about one step in front of F, but hey that's still between B and F and being that we are traveling away from the judge on that movement, it probably didn't look as bad to the judge.

She was slightly freight training me down the center line.  I'm not sure what had her attention but we stopped in front of X.  Despite that, she NAILED her halt to the point that The Other Half said there were audible gasps from spectators standing near him with comments of "OMG did you see THAT HALT???"  One lady was clapping wildly at the end of our test from behind the judge.  So I was like well, with two other rings going on at the same time, never seeing this place prior to 20 mins before going in the ring, how bad can it be, right?  Not bad at all, a 33.3.  I'll take it.  But, we did get a 5 on that halt.  Damn it!  If we had halted accurately and had a little more bend we would have easily been in the high 20's.  Her personal best at Novice is a 26.0, and her dressage is better than that now.

The Other Half putting Klein back on the trailer to have a snack and nap in the shade.

Stadium was late that afternoon.  The course had a lot of room in it and was very hilly.  I wasn't worried about that because I would say the majority of our schooling at home and even at shows has been in arenas that are not flat, so a hilly course wouldn't make me give a second thought to it.  There were a lot of rails coming down throughout the day in Training and Novice.  Prelim and Intermediate went before we got there so I missed them.

Klein warmed up great in stadium.  She was happy to be in the ring with some jumps.  We also watched the stadium ring for a few rounds as we came down the hill from our dressage test.  Klein is adorable when we watch the stadium ring.  She actually will WATCH the horses go.  You can watch her ears follow them around the course.  Then when she's seen what she needs to see, she goes into super chill mode and takes a nap.

She had a great pace right off the bat and jumped everything nicely on each lead.  We jumped a vertical and oxer that were set up and that is all she needs for warm-up.  I had some extra time after our warm up for stadium so we watched the ring for a few minutes.  Klein watched a couple rounds then started her normal nap.  With about four riders to go I went and trotted her around the warm up a couple times then got right in line for our round.

She was great in stadium, wasn't interested in looking at anything, she normally isn't bothered by anything in stadium no matter how decorative they try to make it.  Everything was pretty plain that day anyway, just regular colorful jumps.  A small brick wall but nothing crazy.  As soon as we came around after fence 1 I thought to myself, "hmm, this is probably the scenic route, I probably should have cut in front of #4.  I did correct her lead once after the third fence too.  There was a lot of room between 4 and 5 and I kind of unintentionally took the scenic route around to 5.  There was a two stride she nailed at 9a & b going uphill.  We left everything up and I thought we were double clear because we have NEVER had time in stadium EVER in our lives.

Random life lesson, something the military taught me in a combat skills course before my first deployment was "Complacency Kills" and I apply that to my every day life, except it went out the window for some reason on Saturday in the stadium ring.  First off, I walked the course once, half paying attention to it, then decided to watch the riders.  That wasn't a good idea on a course that was that hilly.  I should have looked at my lines closer.

I used to have a bad habit of cutting corners in stadium and now I am much better at giving Klein as much notice as I can to fences to make her job easier, but I think I took that a little too far on Saturday.  Also, they time stadium at recognized events differently than they do at the CTs in FL that we have been competing at non-stop for the last year.  So, in my head, I was by default thinking of that timing.  Oops.  Because of this complacency, I killed our double clear.  Part of me was just thoroughly enjoying being at the event in perfect weather at a beautiful venue, on my Heart Horse, with The Other Half there.  2012 was our last recognized event so, stadium timing was not fresh in my mind at all.  I was just like, we're going to go out there, and jump this course, it's going to be easy and we're going to enjoy ourselves.  Goal accomplished, with 8 time penalties.  What a rookie mistake, I will NOT make that one again.  I know better than that!  But that's ok, because there are a lot worse problems to have in stadium than the rider being a little complacent and in lala land just enjoying the ride.  That's an easy fix!

Family photo after stadium!

VTO Saddlery was there and I had went looking through their tent earlier that day.  I told The Other Half a couple weeks ago I need to order a xc watch.  We've done a bit of recognized and unrecognized events and I have never worn a watch.  I have a pretty good idea of what Klein's pace is because I ride with a GPS that tells me our pace on our gallops and I have a pretty good feel for Novice and Training speeds.  Actually I DID wear a friend's xc watch ONCE at the Area X championships, and I never even looked at it.  I forgot I even had it on until we came through the finish flags and it started beeping after we were trotting around.  Oops.  Klein and I have a lot of recognized events coming up this year, it's time to stop being a slacker and wear a damn watch, AND pay attention to it.

When I came back from my first trip to the VTO tent I said "Yeah, they have a blue watch...I should just go buy it, yeah, I'm going to go back and get it."  This was somewhere between dressage and stadium.  I remember as I was getting ready for stadium The Other Half said "What's the box on your seat in the truck??" and me saying "I don't know!!!"  I was focused on getting Klein ready and getting to the warm-up, I had no idea what random thing I set on the driver's seat of my truck.  I didn't think anything else of it.

I also have been saying I need a new helmet because my current Charles Owen has been through a couple South Georgia summers and it's just getting kind of gross.  I clean the lining regularly with the CO cleaners but, seriously, it was time for a new one.  I had been looking at the J3, the Pro II Skull, or the 4 Star.  The Other Half had noticed the helmet display earlier when we walked by the VTO tent.  He said "Hey, so, they have helmets!  Did you see any you liked?"  I said, yeah they have a couple CO models out and he said, "Well, if they have the one you want, I'll get it for you."  ...say what?  He asked me my size and went back over there to ask the guy if he had the 4Star in my size and he did.

So after stadium I went and tried it on and it fit amazingly.  It is SO comfortable, soooo...I got a new CO 4 Star!!  The 4 Star is the nicest of the three models and has maximum airflow, which my previous CO definitely did not.  I noticed and IMMEDIATE difference when I put it on for XC the next day.  Lighter, cooler, and more comfortable.  I LOVE IT.  So, there I was, obliviously walking back to my truck with my 4 Star in a bear hug to my chest and I open my truck and...there's a blue event watch on my seat...aka "the box" on my front seat.

This guy...I honestly hit the man lottery with him.  He spoils me on a constant basis and I don't know what I did to deserve him and I can only hope that I take as good of care of him as he does me.  I am thankful every single day for him.  Not only because of everything he does for me and how he treats me, but because you all know how invaluable it is to have a significant other that actually acknowledges how much your hobby means to you.

Klein was wrapped and loaded by this point so we got in the truck and headed home.  It is nice to be close to so much recognized stuff now where I can take my girl home for the night.  Not only do I not have to pay stabling and for a hotel, most importantly Klein is not in lock up in a stall for a day or two.  The barn there was a temp barn, and that, 99.9% of the time from our experiences at recognized events, means 10x10s!!  Klein doesn't lay down in 10x10s, they're like a jail cell for her.  So, I am SO happy I can take her home and put her out for the night and her routine isn't disturbed at all.  She gets all the rest she normally would get instead of going three days without ever laying down and getting good sleep in addition to being on the trailer for hours.

The next day my xc ride wasn't until 4:04.  My plan was to get there an hour and a half prior to ride time.  Well, Hi-Run tires had a different plan.  There were were, having a good old time driving down the highway, talking about planning a mini beach/casino vacay when we hear an explosion.  I knew IMMEDIATELY what it was and my response was immediately, "WTFFFF...seriously?!?!" and I started downshifting my truck and pulling over.  Ok, you all remember my Hi-Run tire warning and what has been happening with them.  Well I put Carlisles on the back two axles right after that, and the plan was to do the front two axles next month, then my two spares the month after.  Well, that was a dumb plan. I should have just bought my six Carlisles at once because a front axle Hi-Run exploded.  Again, a tire that is less than a year old.  Absolutely beyond ridiculous!!!!!!  Four new Carlisles will be here tomorrow, two for the front axles and the other two to replace both of my spares.  My trailer will be 100% Hi-Run free by this Friday night.


The Other Half is a car guy, and after our recent battles with trailer tires he through his fully charged impact gun in the tack room just in case.  Good looking out...because we needed it.  Unreal.  Poor Klein had to be like "AGAIN???"  But she was quietly eating her hay like nothing happened.  I have gotten more use out of my Trailer Aid 2 than I ever hoped.  The Other Half had the tire changed in five minutes and we were back on our way.

The universe had other plans.  There are three ways I can get to Plantation, all of which take you through suburbs.  There is no other option.  I have no idea why a semi was on one of these roads, his GPS must have taken him a random way, but, of course I got stuck behind him on a one lane road with nowhere to pass and on a bunch of hills with a bunch of stop lights.  My blood pressure was on the rise and The Other Half had to keep telling me to breathe.  Every minute he slowed us down robbed a minute of warm-up from Klein and I.

Also, I walked my xc course once and needed to walk it again where I was actually paying attention and planning my lines.  I was going to walk it again before I tacked up but with each passing minute that looked more and more like it wasn't going to happen.  Finally, the semi went straight and we had to turn right.  I rolled into Plantation with 40 mins until our ride.  I jumped out of the truck and power walked my ass up that hill to the xc course as quick as I could.  I decided I knew where I was going until the drop at 8.  I was PRETTY sure I took a left, then I knew where to go until after the water where I was PRETTY sure I took a right, but pretty sure is not going to cut it.  I walked to where I could see 8 and then figured the rest out from there then power walked right back up the hill and down to the truck to get Klein ready.

Once tacked up I had TWELVE minutes until I was to be leaving the start box.  TWELVE people, as in 12.  I just decided we will make every minute count and went trotting up the hill to the warm up.  I trotted a couple circles in each direction, cantered a couple in each direction to get her moving out, apologizing to her the entire time of course. We jumped the vertical twice, the oxer once, and the actual xc warm up jump once then I walked her toward where she could start to see out over the course.  Right as I did that the guy goes "189, you're in the hole."  About 45 seconds later was, "you can head to the start box anytime."

The Other Half was like "Take a combat breath in the start box and just go."  I wasn't nervous about the course, I felt like an ahole for only having 12 minutes to warm my horse up for a hilly course and again at a place she has never seen before.  Are we learning yet?  I will be leaving two hours earlier than I think I need to from now on.

We were counted down and off we went.  Here is the course:

She was a bit lookie to this, but I blame that on a crap warm up because I had no time to really get her moving out but I sat, squeezed, put my leg on and my girl was there like she always is, and we were over and on our way to get moving down to #2.

As you'll see in the helmet cam video, we galloped down hill to this one with a lot of scenery.  It took her a second to realize we were going to this one but once she did, she was locked.

And again we were downhill to this and she was looking beyond but once she realized we were going to this, she was like, OH...yeah, got it.

No problem.

We got rolling for a few from 4 to 5, it was a good gallop stretch.  You'll hear me tell her easy on the helmet cam video because I wanted her to start taking notice that it was there and that was our next one.  She did want to back off a little to this, maybe it looked a little strange to her but I was not about to let that happen.  I sat and squeezed, gave her a tap and she got her butt up on it then immediately to the right to go over 6.

 This was on a right angle from 5 and Klein got to it nicely.

 By this point, we had our groove.  Klein was clocked in for work and we were just out cruising ready to jump whatever I put her in front of.

 Our drop.  I did slow her up a little bit to this just to be fair and make sure she had notice, but she didn't need it.  She's great about drops.  We turned to the left and I felt a couple steps of counter canter and you'll hear me on the video say "Oh oh oh!"  That's me slowing her to change her and make sure we got set up for 9 because it was a decently wide fence.

 One of the wider fences, but it rode beautifully.  After this one on the video, you'll hear me talk about her doing burnouts.  She just had a little extra lift in her front end right before take off to this, that's what the burnout comment was for.  She was ready to tear the course up by this point, once her switch is flipped, she's ON.

This was probably my favorite, it just rode beautifully and you can jump it on such a great pace.

 Another view of it, this was about how wide 9 was too, 9 might have been a little wider.  After this one we had a little open gallop stretch up hill to 11a & b.

 Very small fence, but you immediately dropped down into a ditch and went back up the other side to b for this one.


 Nbd here.

 Uphill to this one, nbd again.

 This was on a pretty steep downhill and I didn't sit as early as I should have. I could have helped her more over this, and next time I'll do a better job for her.  But, of course she was there for me and it was not an issue.

15 was through the water that you can see behind #14, then it was a right turn uphill to 16.

 By this point I couldn't believe it was almost over!!  The course went by too quick!  When I looked at my watch here I realized we were a little quick and made a longer line around to the last fence.

 Easy last fence.

 Uphill to through the finish flags!  That longer line paid off and we came in at 4:39.  Optimum time was 4:40.  I have never been so close to the optimum.  Normally we are pretty close to being too quick.  I wanted to actually TRY to get close to the optimum time and learn to pay attention to my watch!  I slowed Klein up at a couple points around the course because I KNEW we were a little too quick.  In the end, we had the closest time to the optimum time for our division.

On the helmet cam video, I talk to her a lot.   I do that normally though.   So if I were to be quiet it would make it weird and she would probably think something was wrong.   I don’t even notice I cluck to her, it’s an involuntary reaction for the most part.  I’ll do it to stuff she doesn’t need it because it’s just habit.  But I guess if I needed it for backup, it’s there.  Same thing with “good girlllll!”  I mean come on, we have run through, dropped into, and jumped out of water about 245,683,204 times.  She has never had issues with water, yet I still tell her good girl because it’s just a habit.   I never thought for a second she’d care one bit about water, or whatever other thing I said good girl after, good girl just comes out on its own.

You can ask The Other Half about my course walk with him.  I was out there like “Pshhhh, yeah…she’ll fly over this, oh yeah, this is easy, oh this one will be no big deal, pfffft, easy, oh these hills?  Shit, this course won’t put a dent in Klein, she’s fit as a fiddle right now.”   I think on one hand you can’t go out there with an ego, but on the other hand, if you don’t go out there EXPECTING your horse to clear everything, then you might have some problems.  Having a confident ride and being egotistical are two different things.

Here are a couple pictures someone took and was nice enough to tag me in on FB.  I'm still waiting for the code to my gallery from the show photographer.  In the previews it looks like she got some good ones.


That course was super fun, and it definitely did go by too fast.  I wish we could have went right back to the start box and went again.  Klein would have been up for it! 

 All done and double clear!

From what I had heard, I expected the terrain to be harder.  It was hilly, but it was no match for Klein's conditioning program.  She was completely fine running around those hills.  We have competed on tougher courses in New Mexico.  The Event at Goose Downs' xc basically runs you up the side of a mountain and snakes you back down.  Klein had NO problem being under the time for that and there were light horses not making the time that day.  I actually had to slow Klein up a couple times on that one too because I knew we were just out there blasting around it like we had no sense...because of course, I had no watch on, we were just having a good time and ended up second in that event, only a point behind first on our dressage score.

Overall, I am very happy with how our weekend went since this was our first time back at a recognized HT since the end of 2012.  I have to admit, I am a little embarrassed ending up with something over a 40 at Novice, my time I picked up in stadium made our final score 41.30, finishing in 6th.  That’s not normal for us, but man what a great start to the season.  This was a great event to get back in the mindset for recognized.  And our score was due to my own complacency, nothing that Klein was having an issue with.

I am especially proud of our xc after having 12 minutes to warm up.  Our teamwork is on lock down. The first couple fences where she was spacing out looking at the sights, as soon as I said “no, no, we’re going here, look…jump…this one, we’re jumping this one…” through my aids she was like “oh…yeah…we’re not here to sight see right now…got it.”  And after #5 we were in our normal cruising mode.  Now, if the me that I was last year at this time was riding, #5 would have been a stop. I am proud of my hard work to improve my accuracy and my ability to commit and make a decision.  I left NO room for Klein to wonder what I wanted. I wanted her butt UP that bank and she went UP that bank, immediately through a 90 degree right turn and over the next fence with no hesitation.  The old me wasn’t afraid of anything out there, Klein has just begun to rely on me more to lead and be an equal partner.  She is looking for me to step up when she needs me to and lead us if she has a question.  If I didn’t 100% commit to something, she would second guess it too.  I want to be there for her, because when I am, that girl would jump through a ring of fire for me.  I had to up my game for her because she deserves that more than I can say.   I am forever thankful to her for making me a better rider.

This guy...Klein is a great drinker but wasn't interested in water from me after xc but HE offers her water and she drinks it.  I'm confused.

I can’t thank Klein enough for being there for me that day when it ultimately came down to a bit of poor planning on my part that got us that 12 minute warm up.  So, guess what we are doing?   An unrecognized before our next recognized next month.  We actually have two recognized HTs in May. Both of which take place on one day, so, let me practice my time management by going to an unrecognized where all three phases take place over one day.  I will also walk my stadium course and pay attention to it, and walk my xc course more than once.   Oh and as far as dressage, guess where we are going this weekend?  A dressage show at a farm we have never been to.  That way we can have a longer warm up and I can have her full attention in the ring.

Huge thanks again to The Other Half for being there with us!


  1. So cool and you guys look amazing! I loved reading through this show recap and living vicariously through you. I can't wait to hear about the next ones :)

    1. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it! I tried not to make it so long, but I wanted all the details in there!

  2. Ah, damn tires! Unfortunate, but you got it done, and got it done super well! Awesome for your first HT back! Klein is a rockstar. And Hubs too!

    1. Every single one of the Hi-Runs are gone now! I felt a new sense of confidence hauling to yesterday's show haha!

  3. THOSE TIRES!! >:-o Big props on the impact wrench though! GOOD thinking. Nascar pit crew change it sounds like.

    Other than that, sounds like a pretty amazing weekend. Your SO is really amazing and Klein is so incredible (but when isn't she?). Congrats on your return to recognized and good luck with the rest of your season!!

    1. On one hand it's sad to think of things like that because we have used it so much with these garbage tires, but on the other hand it's definitely one of those nice to have it when you need it things!

      And thank you! You guys have been pretty bad ass out there. Q had one awesome weekend this past weekend! What a little beast!

  4. Your dude sounds amazing! Plantation is such a cool course, I'm glad you had fun there! Btw, they have ONE schooling day a year and I bet you'd have fun playing around with some of the bigger options on course:) Next time I hope I can meet up with you!

    1. I'm confident she would have been totally fine around Training there.

      Aaaaand, see you SOON!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I have goosebumps from reading you talking about your partnership with Klein. Talking about uping your game to be a worthy leader for your partner is inspiring.

    1. Thank you Shauna!!! I'd say a good 99% of the time if something is off with us, it's me, not her :)

  6. woo congratulations!! looks like you guys had a BLAST bombing around that course!!!

    1. I always feel like a kid that gets off a ride at an amusement park and wants to immediately get back in line and go again after xc!

  7. Klein is awesome. The course looks like a lot of fun. Congrats on the good round.

  8. Way to go!! Sounds like quite the event, and you rocked it, even with the snafus. You guys looked super, and I kinda can't believe your other half is so much taller than Klein!

    1. Thank you!

      She is right at 17 hands, and he is 6'3" so definitely not a small person!