Saturday, June 25, 2016

XC Perfection

Last Friday evening Klein and I went to school xc.  It was perfect out, just a beautiful evening to ride.  Cool, breezy, sunny.  Klein and I schooled pretty much the whole training course again, except for one question that we'll get to next time.  There were some new jumps out that we hadn't seen before that looked to be Novice, so we made sure we had our fun on those for future events.

A vertical hiding in a shady corner.

I told myself I was going to count to every single thing like I'm supposed to, and do it out loud so that I KNOW I'm doing it.  You gotta do what you gotta do.  I might sound pretty funny riding around saying "3, 2, 1" in front of every fence but it helps make sure I'm consistent.

Unfortunately, I somehow got my GoPro backward where I had it off when I thought I turned it on and vice versa.  Annoying.  Here is what I did get:


There were two lines in particular I wished I would have gotten video of.  Klein was just out sailing.  The two lines were a coop to the Training table that is pictured in the banner for this blog.  We jumped the coop then headed straight to that table and jumped it at an angle and had the perfect distance to it.  It seemed like nothing more than a log on the ground to her.  The other line we galloped up hill, over a log, turned right and had a super steep down hill with a Shark's Tooth a couple strides from the bottom.  She nailed that one too.  She also owned the hell out of the Training (might actually be Prelim) ditch and up and down the Training bank.  She took a look at that Training bank once the first time we schooled it a couple months ago and has never hesitated up or down it again.  She also jumped the Training corner which wasn't out last time.


We love this Training roll top.  It just rides so nice that we can't stay away from it every time we're there! 

Klein baby into the water (click to play):

We schooled that table where my brain went stupid and we had trouble last month.  The one that was the last jump on the course that day.  The one that I came at tapping like Mr. Magoo (as Denny would say) and ruined what was otherwise a beautiful xc run.  I found out what my problem was.  I needed to sit down sooner to be able to see that distance.  I sat sooner and the difference was instant.  I saw the distance immediately and got us right where we needed to be.

Didn't get video of us schooling it that evening, but here it is at the HT for the sake of reminding you guys which jump I'm talking about.

We had a blast that evening.  That is my idea of a perfect Friday night, out galloping and flying on my Heart Horse in beautiful weather.  Big thanks as always to The Other Half.  He was my ground person so that I was able to school that evening.  He is a big part of why we are able to do all the things we do.  He also had the idea to put his phone on some of the jumps and record us coming at and over them!  Here's one (click to play):

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Climbing Mountains

 *le sigh*  My beautiful Princess.

Klein's dressage has continued to improve lately.  I credit my dressage instructor in Georgia teaching me over the past year to ride with my body on a new level and also our eye-opening dressage lesson with Lainey Ashker in April.  Klein is just overall carrying herself better and really rocking back and re-balancing on outside rein half halts.

We have continued to work on our flying changes.  Gradually they have sunk in more and more and made sense to her.  Now she is to the point where they make sense to her and I can ask for them randomly with out having to really set her up for them.  She also isn't making them into a big deal like she did for a while where she would change and kind of launch out of them.  She'll settle down after them, though they still can be, um, expressive.  See below...

Um, yeah, we're still refining them.

Here's the video:

This ride in particular she started out really distracted, which is unusual for her.  I thought there was something in the woods that she must have heard because every time we were at a certain point in the ring her attention would be on one area.  We have all kinds of animals living on the property.

 Super distracted by something.  Not spooky, just couldn't concentrate at first.  Uh, Earth to Klein.

 There we go...getting there.

I walked her down the trail and sure enough, there was Deer Family.  They went scattering but she saw them.  That's what she heard.  She's not scared by them, she just heard them and didn't know who it was back there.  After she saw them, we went back into the ring and I had her full attention.


She settled and we were able to work.  This ride also had a new accomplishment in it.  Her Kimberwicke was on her bridle so I had to change it before putting her bridle on.  I saw her loose ring french link snaffle and thought "Hey we haven't ridden in this in a year, let's just see what happens."  I put it on her bridle instead of her Boucher, her normal dressage bit. 

She has always just been heavy in the snaffle.  Well, there was a time when she was basically unrideable in it, she just wasn't refined enough for it.  She would flip me the bird and run through it like a freight train.  Over the years that has changed and she has gotten better and better in it gradually, but we never have ridden in it regularly because she has always really liked her Boucher.

This ride was no different than the Boucher.  I completely forgot she even had the french link loose ring in her mouth until after the ride.  So, we have flying changes and are able to have a normal ride in a french link loose ring snaffle...  I feel like we have climbed a mountain with these two things.  It's been hard to teach a big horse flying changes, but I did it, by myself.  It was hard not only to teach her the aids for them because she had no idea what I wanted at first, because she didn't know what flying changes were, but to help her understand she was capable of those changes under saddle.  Thankfully she's a very, very smart mare.  It's also been a long road for her to listen to the loose ring like it's no different than a Boucher.  These have been challenges for us, and we have accomplished them together between just the two of us. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Mochi Update!

 The most special little spotted horse.

A Mochi update is overdue. It has now been four months since her Osphos diagnosis.  I put her on the longe line the other day to watch her closely and she is definitely better but is still intermittently lame on the right front.

A short video of how she is currently moving so you can see what I'm talking about:


I called the vet to give her an update and ask what she thinks we should do next, if anything.  I asked about trying Previcox on her and she said we can but she recommended continued rest and to give her a full six months off, which would be August.  Technically May would have been the six months of rest point but she wasn’t diagnosed with a navicular cyst until three months after she first went lame.  But we are talking about a full six months rest with the Osphos in her system.  I was fine with that. I really miss riding her, a lot.   It sucks when that thought pops into my head that there is a possibility I will never get that opportunity again.  But it has sunk in and I’m ok with it.

Here is what we were doing this time last year:

She is just too adorable and has the cutest little personality to not just be happy having her in the barn in any capacity.  I love my little spotted girl.  I’d have a herd of Mochs if I could, I think The Other Half would agree too.  Maybe there will be a Mochi sport pony baby one day.  The thought has crossed my mind.  She has the best personality and work ethic, but not the greatest hind end confirmation, so more thinking is needed about that.  Besides, a Klein baby will happen before any other baby. 

To continue Mochi’s rough patch, we noticed a week ago last Sunday evening that she was acting a little odd.  She was just hanging around on the barn porch after I put their evening hay out.   That’s not like my little vacuum cleaner pony.  There was a thunderstorm that had rolled in and I wondered if maybe it was something to do with the storm.  We watched her and she eventually wandered out to one of the hay nets that evening and I didn’t think too much about it.

The next morning, I put their breakfast hay out and Moch acted like I never even walked by her with it.  THAT is NOT like her at all.  Red flags started flying immediately at that point.  She just seemed spaced out, I could tell she didn’t feel good.   I put her in the crossties and took her temperature. 103.9, more red flags and alarm bells were going off in my head and my heart.  I called the vet immediately and told them I needed an emergency appointment.  I told them she wasn’t eating and had a 103.9 degree fever.  Lyme was the first thing to pop into my head because she did have a NASTY tick bite recently.  We have since waged an all-out war on ticks and haven’t found one on any of them since.

I put her in front of a big fan and just kept hosing her off.  The Other Half left work and came home to help me too.   He was super worried about her too and I was about to flip out because I was so worried for her.  The vet was there an hour later and in about five minutes she said it was Erlichiosis, basically a tick-borne bacterial infection and lesser form of Lyme.   Luckily it’s easily treatable with the same antibiotics (Doxy) that treat Lyme.  The vet also hooked her up with an injection of Bute and within five minutes her fever broke and her behavior did a 180.  It’s like a switch was flipped.  She perked up and started pawing, which is classic Mochi speak for “I’m done, can I go now?”   We offered her some grass and she vacuumed it up like a normal Mochi pony.   I was immediately relieved too.

We stayed home the rest of the day to watch her and take her temperature throughout the day.  The vet told us we’d be riding the fever roller coaster down the next coupled days and to not be too alarmed because that is how it typically happens.  She said to expect her to be a little warmer in the evenings then down in the mornings with each day being lower than the last.  Moch stayed at 97.4 the rest of the day and was only 98 the next morning.

 More pony love to help her get well quick.

I have a feeling that we kicked that infection right in the gut as early as we could and knocked it out of her immediately.   She was on the Doxy for the five days, twice a day, and her fever never came back.  She has been her normal pony self, telling Wes to keep his distance for no reason at completely random times, ditching every fly mask I put on her, all while generally being the most adorable little mare ever.

Here she is on two different mornings recently, watching over her drafts.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Flora Lea Spring HT - Far From Our Best Day

Klein and I competed at Flora Lea last Sunday.  Our day didn't go as planned from the start.  What was that article that was just going around recently?  It was something about if you're going to have problems, don't just pick one phase.

I wouldn't say dressage was a problem.  Klein felt pretty good that morning and I was surprised and disappointed to earn a 37.60.  We haven't gotten a score that high in years.  The last time we scored over a 35 was...2011.  But, she also tried to trot during our free walk.  That's never happened before either and I think I gave her just a little too much leg by accident and I got what I asked for.  Sorry girl.  She was also a little haunches in down the centerline on our final turn but I still don't feel she was a 37.60.  I think that bobble in the free walk killed it for us though.  Well, at least it's not a real problem.  That was just an unfortunate thing that happened that day.

She was feeling good for stadium and I really liked the course.  We had two stops...two.  That's very unusual for us as well.  She's been great at home.  Schooling unbelievably well at home.  She's becoming ridiculously adjustable and will wait for me, if I ask, to tell her the exact spot I want her to take off from.  So I was completely confused on what happened, until it hit me like a ton of bricks Wednesday night after our ride.

Klein baby having a good time out on the xc!  Look at those ears!  The positives greatly outweigh the negatives from that day.

We're going to side track for a minute.  Wednesday night I put an oxer and a vertical on the center line of my ring and we serpentined through them and made a super twisty and tight little course.  Klein nailed everything.  EVERY-THING.  Foot perfect.  You know how landing on our left lead is somewhat elusive?  We got it.  She got it every time, except for once.  THAT has never happened, but it clicked.  We nailed every distance.  I saw our distance on the ground before every single jump last night.  I could have pointed to the exact spot she would take off.  I also asked her to wait a couple times and put just one more in and she nailed it all, every. single. time.

So how can we be schooling like this and then have TWO stops on Sunday?  Well, because I'm only a mere mortal.  Here we are, the best we've ever been in our communication.  What does every single instructor immediately notice about us?  "She looks to you for guidance.  I can tell you guys have a strong bond."  What did Jennie Brannigan say about us?  "I like her!  She MAKES you ride her!  She depends on you."  And what did I do in stadium last Sunday?

I got lost in the sauce.  I just go out there having a good 'ol time and take in the scenery, unintentionally.  My focus drifts.  How do I know?  I didn't count to every single fence like I do at home.  At home, or even schooling at other places, I count to everything.  Why does that go out the window?  I don't know, but it is stopping after Wednesday night's light bulb went off.  It's not nerves, I'm not nervous to jump a Novice course.  If I can go early for any phase, 98% of the time I do.  I'm like sure, yeah, whatevs, no problem, let's go.  I really do just get kind of zen.  That has to stop.  I need to save that for when we're back at the trailer.

Just out taking a stroll.  I even remember hearing someone's name I knew being announced that they were starting their dressage test while I was riding stadium.  That also shows you my focus wasn't 100% where it should have been.

How am I going to practice one way and play another?  I'm so thankful Klein doesn't just dump me and go home when I do dumb stuff like this.  She's expecting me to ride like I do 99% of the time, and I left her hanging.  Some horses can jump the entire course on autopilot when the rider's mind is out to lunch, and while Klein does solve a great deal of problems on her own, and when she's got a crappy spot and I tell her to go for it any way, she GOES.  But she's by no means a packer, or a robot.

I have two options, I could be disappointed about last weekend, which I was until Wednesday night, or I can be thankful for the best teacher of my life.  Klein is going to make a good rider out of me yet.  I would honestly rather have a horse that makes me learn to ride better than one that's a made robot.  Klein AND Mochi have been amazing teachers to me.  Mochs may be out of the game right now, but she taught me a TON last year and significantly improved my dressage riding.

Back to Sunday...xc looked like it was going to be fun.  It was a very nicely done course.  The footing was great and I planned to ride her like I stole her (well, as much as you can on Novice).  The only thing that caught my eye was the last fence.  It was a type of table we've never jumped before.  In my head I just planned to treat it like any other table and make sure I had her forward to it.

Here's the whole course:

The b element was removed for Novice, the half coffin was Training.

My second favorite jump on xc that day.  That table always just rides great.

This one was my favorite fence of the day and we got to it perfectly.

*sigh* seriously?  How did I get owned by this?  Again, counting, well, lack there of.  Seeing the finish flags and being on cruise control.  Idiot move.

Riding it the second time how it should have been ridden the first.

We were out there cruising.  Great on time, everything was easy.  Here comes the last fence.  I was telling Klein we were almost home and didn't count down to this dumb thing, and got a 20.  What a stupid 20.  We did our circle and popped right over it.  She still finished right on the dot on optimum time too, even with the trouble at the last fence.  We would have had plenty of time to spare if we hadn't had trouble.  At one point I actually thought we needed to calm it down a little because we were making REALLY good time.

A couple clips from xc:

Sunday overall was a uh, learning experience, but one I clearly needed.  Another big thanks to The Other Half for telling me to stop dwelling and get my ass over the xc warm-up jumps, which Klein jumped perfectly.  Klein and I are a team, but The Other Half is just as much my teammate on these days.  There's been a couple shows where I get caught off guard by something not going as planned and he tells me to man up, make a decision, and get my ass out there.  He's always right.

Big thanks to Flora Lea for putting on a beautiful, very well organized event as well. 

Thankfully after we got home and I got Klein all taken care of this was waiting for me in the fridge:

If you're a wine drinker, make this.  I made it the night before so that the fruit could soak in the alcohol.

All in all, I took a $200 riding lesson last Sunday.  But, it opened my eyes to a habit that I wasn't fully aware of.  I'm really looking forward to our next outing in a few weeks. 

 I owe this mare so much.  I can never thank her enough for everything she has taught me not only about riding but about life too.