Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Weekend Recap: WE DID IT

I am so very excited to be writing this post because I am almost still in utter disbelief it happened! But Tillie and I did it...we completed our first PRELIM! What's more, is it was a cold, rainy day with less than ideal footing conditions (which I won't lie had me questioning if I was going to withdrawal). I was already super nervous and the added rain really made me question if I was insane enough to give this a go...

Tillie and I in our stadium round
The dressage arenas were the worst, followed closely by stadium, but shockingly the XC course was holding up nicely so I chose to give it a go and if things felt uneasy to retire. I had to ride our test off the muddy worn in paths so it hurt our score a bit, but I was so elated with how relaxed she stayed. Not to mention the fact I remembered the entire test was truly a feat in itself.

I was tearing up after our dressage

I walked the XC course after dressage which was good so I could see how the footing was holding up. Seneca did a great job patching what needed patching and keeping us safe. Some of the other levels they removed jumps or provided options because of the footing.

Intermediate actually ended up sharing about half our jumps...which made me feel even more bad ass (lol yea....).

Movin up to those ditances
Tillie warmed up like a beast for stadium and I felt really confident going into the ring. The first three fences rode well and Tillie was on point. We came into a two stride which Tillie slipped at the second fence nearly taking the entire thing down but the top rail popped off.

I got a bit greedy and too careful at this point...Tillie learned and took off huge over the next fence but this is where I got a bit too addy with the first slippage and rail in my mind and got her in a bit too weak (it was a triple bar oxer) and she barely took to top rail and then got flat and misread the related distance to the next fence.

After that she sat down and rode the triple combination and final bending line like she was born to jump this height and higher...so I know the rail issues we will iron out.

Soaking after the show...Goose totally convinced he can join me
I felt pretty darn proud we did it and I walked out of there knowing exactly what I did and how we can fix it in the future. But my mind immediately went to XC and I got my game face on.

Dom insisted that I warm up when we talked game plans before the day. He wanted me riding her to the base a few times and then a few more open and back to riding the base to really make sure both my eye and her adjustability were on point.

I didn't want to over do it too much as Tillie already was feeling a bit more tired than usual with the cold rain wearing on her but we did enough to make me feel ok. I set my watch, even though I was told to not look at it, and I was called over to the start box.

At this point I thought I was going to be way more nervous, but I suddenly felt...prepared. I don't know if that is the right word or not.

There were a few jumps on course and combinations that made me really have to think about how to ride into them, what my plan b was if it didn't go according to plan etc. But at that moment, I just took a deep breath, gave Tillie and pat and said, " lets do this."

For the first time I came out of the start box kicking...ok not exactly kicking, but I was ready. Usually I am ok with the slower canter to start, but I remembered Dom's advice about how I better ride up to fences because this itty bitty canter wouldn't cut it at this height.

The first combination on course had me the most worried...it was a big, and I mean BIG double brush table to a roll top skinny with brush. I knew I had to come in with some speed with that height, but didn't want to come in too hot and miss the B element. I watched the intermediate ride through it and it was seeming to ride ok, but quite a few horses did exactly what Tillie did and REALLY overjumped the brush, so I am glad I was prepared for that.

Once I finished that first combination I breathed out a small sigh...Dom warned me about the first combo saying it was a confidence test and would set the tone for the rest of the course. So I felt a very small iota of relief.

We shared the next jump with intermediate and had a open oxer galloping fence just before our next combination. It was a ramp to a 5 stride bank up to a two stride, ramp jump with a massive drop. I don't like drops typically and it did cause my some trepidation walking it, but I just reminded myself to keep my eyes up since woods were just over 8 strides on landing....I didn't need to end up in a tree.

Then we had some galloping tables and space to gallop but I took it easy. The footing here wasn't the greatest since we shared this portion with intermediate and I tried to stay on the outskirts and avoid as best I could. Then it was our next combination which had me slightly worried because it was a pretty big table bending line to a chevron brush - which if Tillie has any jump she might look at, its those.

But I breathed deep and thought back to all the schooling knowing she would do it so long as I had her straight, rode her shoulders and kept a good canter. And I was so floored that despite needing to slip my reins over the table...Tillie hunted the shit out of that chevron.

I had to control my emotions here, but swapped my crop told her how great she was and started preparing for the next combination shown at the early part of the video here:

It was another rolltop with brush but this time a skinny made out of how the brush was cut. It was flush up against a tree on the right side which is why I switched my crop left just in case she glanced off left. It had a down hill landing bending line to the B element: a narrow corner. 

Again I had to let me reins slip on landing and a tad more slipped than I wanted with it being so wet and raining...but damn if she didn't lock into that corner and got us there in the perfect striding. 

We had one table we shared with intermediate again before coming to the water...which made me fret so hard. 

It was a very LARGE tree just before a log/bank drop into water with a roll top out. I saw many horses refusing this log and have seen refusals with this combination when it was set like this in the past (yay for youtube and me stalking old courses lol)

I knew I needed to compress coming in, but not lose the power. Tillie once again took care of me and did the entire combination like a pro.

We had one more galloping fence, another table...and we had our final combination on course: a full coffin. It walked tighter that it rode, so thank goodness Tillie isn't ditchy because we had to add a stride to make it work - which benefited us in the end because the footing here was slick and had a fall earlier. 

After she came out of the coffin I sat up and told her YOU GOT THIS only one more fence!! And it was a large trakhener we shared with intermediate....so I came around the corner and told myself don't grab her, let her go at it. 

She of course soared over it and when all four feet his the ground I choked back a huge sob. 

I think its time to upgrade to real ice boots

People likely thought I was insane because the walk back to the trailer I was crying not so silent tears of pure shock, joy, elation and a whole medly of emotions.

I just coulnt believe we did it. This horse just shocks the hell out of me!

So I am debating on letting her end the season here to keep her confidence strong and ending on a good note. So I guess Ill touch base with my professional team and seek input on whats next!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Winding down and getting wound up

So this week is winding down closer to the big day....and it means I am getting more wound up. Tillie was a tad foot sore Monday and Tuesday so was closely monitoring her and praying it would dissipate. Some bute, magic cushion seemed to do the trick since yesterday she felt pretty good.

Last jump school before the weekend!

I have talked about my nerves before...and this year they have been way better. I haven't really had crippling nerves or stomach flutters but leading up to this Saturday they are rearing their ugly heads again.

 I would be surprised if I didn't...I mean the move up from Training to Prelim is quite a leap. I just have to keep reminding myself this choice wasn't made lightly. It was made in conjunction with my trainers who all think we are more than ready. I need to focus on that and the fact our training is there and believe in it.

I don't think Tillie will have a problem with 3'7
I kept our jump school really light yesterday because of her feet. Luckily she jumped very well making it easier to call it a day after a few rounds. I know at this rate, its my nerves I need to keep in check.

Easier said than done though right?

Using guide rails to help with drifting and straightness
 The last thing I want is to have a prelim debut like our training one...where I get eliminated because I am not thinking straight. At the end of the day that training was still a confident building one, and luckily they let us still do XC...but I need to breath and not allow this to be so huge in my mind.

Its just another ride, at the level we have been doing all year - just not competing at it.

Tillie looks bored...

I need to keep two things in mind for tomorrow. Ride FORWARD and STRAIGHT. Don't let her drift left and ride her shoulders and don't get too greedy and adding before jumps. Let the mare move out.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Stay positive

You know those people that are the typical negative Nancy? The ones that nit pick, have nothing nice to say or simply can't be happy for someone else in times of happiness? They exist everywhere...and at every turn you're going run into one or two.

Yea, I have known more than a few...and this post is meant to celebrate those that have been the brunt of those people. This isn't about me...but more so about the negativity in general I see and hear out there. I love eventing because it is WAY less in this discipline, but with horses and just people for that matter, judgement will still exist anywhere you go.

Me at my first event ever...not the greatest position here I'll tell ya

If anyone reading this has felt belittled, embarrassed or you have questioned yourself because of one of those people...If you're trying, you already are better. Progress not perfection. But remember that and try not to repeat the cycle. Do not become the mean person. Stop it and rise above it.

Everyone has started out somewhere being the new person, the inexperienced person and throughout life will continue to experience this as they grow.

Back when Tillie was coming back into work...totally on the forehand,
I am leaning and looking down and gripping with my thighs
We all have had humbling moments, falls and set backs. You know what? Why not band together and learn together in those moments? Cry together in the moment and laugh about it when its past. Is it really necessary to kick someone when they are already down? Or worse yet, tear them apart when they are feeling good or proud?

Yea no caption needed on this gem
At least to me, life is all about learning. If someone closes themselves off to that and they become that suffocating toxic person projecting their negligence and insecurities on to other people. And to that I say: SHAME ON YOU.

Remember when I could barely get through an XC course without this?
My mantra and most used hashtag: #progressnotperfection. I already wrote it in this post once, but I will write it again if I have to. No one, not even the top level riders I could list until I am blue, is perfect. Everyone still stands to learn something so stay humble in that fact and try not to judge a rider a  horse or a situation.

If you are progressing or at least trying to, you are already better than those that aren't. Ignore the back seat riders...better yet ignore the judgmental riders that have no business judging anyone. Unless they are the paid professional of my choice, they don't get to judge. Do your best to ignore them or better yet use it as fuel to keep improving!

This one was fun

I have to wonder what joy these people get out of knocking other people down? I honestly have made it my mission to not only be nice to everyone, but think about what their perspective is and what they might be going through. Its normal for us as humans to go there, to want to judge...but the difference between the good ones and not - don't project your shit on me.

Keep your garbage to yourself. Look I am not perfect. I am sure I have hurt someone's feelings before, but I really would be appalled if I did and would sincerely mean it when I apologize. Take it s step further would really actively try not to do it again.

Ah when I sprained my ankle...
My best advice is to try to remove those negative people from your life or just avoid them. When I cant avoid them, I just try to remind myself I am a good person that tries hard, genuinely has been happy for those same judgy people in their triumphs even if that cant be for me, and sincerely hope the best for everyone.

Everyone deserves to be happy. But because YOU are happy should mean they cant be. You're allowed to be proud, youre allowed to be imperfect and still boast about your progress.

Just don't become that mean person.

I literally can't be mean to someone even if it warrants it so I am not really any help in the comeback department. All I can say is what has helped me is to just stay quiet and know my own truth.

So while this post sounds a but like a 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Jumping all the things!

NeI have a bit of catching up to do on sharing videos with you all so I am combining this post of my xc schoolings from last weekend and last evenings. We have been a bit busy with me wanting to really feel confirmed at prelim stuff going into the weekend.

Brother and sister stare down
Last Saturday, right from the start Tillie came out warming up super relaxed and waiting on me. It felt super comfortable and set the tone for the entire schooling. Its nice when shes like this because then I ride her more confidentially and forward like she needs to be for this level. This also was my first time schooling without a trainer there pointing at things telling me to go do it.

So picking and choosing was definitely something I had to think smartly about and feel out Tillie.

Here is some of warming up over some of the smaller stuff, but we finished off with the big table at the end! It felt nice and gave me more confidence to try the prelim stuff on my own.  

This was pretty early into schooling after warming up. Tile came right up to this very confident. It was the first skinnier test of the day and she came in nicely without any worry. I knew I needed to keep my shoulders up with the terrain question. 

Next we moved on to this bending line with corner/brush type fences. I knew my ride in needed to be accurate without drifting. We got a bit of an add to the second fence and it really should be a 4 stride not a 5 but we worked on this with Dom yesterday. 

From here we moved on to the keyhole combo. I was very proud with how much Tillie hunted out the final skinny. 

This was a fun combo to try! The first time through I came in too forward of a ride so came back and learned that I needed a better, deeper approach to the first log so we could be ready for the bending line out over the final log. It rode a lot nicer that way!

Then I felt brave and decided to give the big trakhener to the skinny a try. I knew we needed enough power to get over the trakehener but then be able to rock back and focus on the skinny. I was worried Tillie might land from the first and get too wooden before the second, but she shocked the hell out of me and coasted right along to the skinny.

Next up we moved onto banks...the dreaded banks. Its no secret that I dislike riding them despite down banks being fairly easy so long as you sit up and let your reins slip. Sounds so simple right?

But I knew I needed to conquer this because prelim drops, well, are much larger and more prominent on courses than previous levels. So I started with a bank down I did before so had that in the back of my mind to boost my confidence.

Tillie is super keen and has no issues with banks, so of course it rode just fine.

So I ran the house to bank down in reverse to add that shorter combo and timing to make sure I didn't anticipate too much and was able to keep my shoulders up. I knew I needed a deep distance into the house so she landed softly for the bank. Then we circled around to give the skinny a try that we have had issues with last year. Tillie jumped it cool as a cucumber.

We stepped up our game and did this bank complex. I remember looking at similar combos here before (they change jumps around but typically have similar questions around) and thinking wow that looks really scary. Tillie made it feel effortless. Riding this definitely turned a corner in my mind about riding banks!

Last but not least we moved on to water so I started with this slight bending line. Tillie came in a bit powerful to the log and I didn't let my reins slip enough. Luckily I sat up and recovered in time to direct her to the skinny out. NOTE TO SELF: Slip the reins!!!

I knew next I needed to conquer the larger bank into the water. At prelim there will be a combo there so I pulled up my big girl pants and gave it a try.

With that I ended our schooling for that day. Tillie gave me such try!

My kiddies
Up next (below) is a recap of our schooling last night. I don't have as much footage but will walk through the footage I do have. I wasn't feeling super great physically going into this schooling so came out of the gate riding more like a weenie. Which I believe caused Tillie to be a bit more keen to lean on me and be up to some old tricks to start like taking the bit any time she had a moment.

Dom reassured me its normal, we all have those days its just about getting the rideability you want before you go onto course. So it was actually nice it happened here so he could walked me through my XC warm up for Saturday in case she was more like yesterday's ride. He really implored when shes like that not to get too backwards. That I need to learn how to keep the forward and get her more rideable out of that forward canter without shortening it too much.

The first footage I have is this corner which she jumped great after this, but I only have the first attempt where I left her drift so she dropped her shoulder. She was still being a bit wooden at this point in the schooling but Dom talked me through it. 

Up next we did the skinny brush bending line. This was the second attempt since the first one was nice and quiet, but he wanted me to come back and do it out of a more forward canter. While Dom agreed it wasn't as pretty, that's the canter we need to get smoother in these combos. 

At this point I was still feeling a bit defensive and coming into this exercise was able to over come and ride it forward, but as we came to the table with it feeling a tad down hill I got a bit too greedy causing the dreaded gappy distance. We did finally manage to get the right ride, but no video footage unfortunately. This is the point in time we talked more about doing the homework of that forward ride...which until today has been better. He told me not to fret, just try to not make this the habit for Saturday which will likely be my go to with my nerves. 

At this point she got much more rideable though and we gave the roller coaster complex a try. I was fully expecting issues from this one. This is the better take on it, the first one wasn't caught on film...but as a learning experience: I misunderstood Dom and rode the first time on a deep approach to the first jump causing a need to push to get to the second making the third jump just a tad less approachable. 

So instead you want to come into this out of an open canter off the first with a longer take off so making the distance to the second you get that deeper ride. That way the second one backs them off on the landing so you have the adjustability to the final jump. My nit pick is I still got a bit forward in my shoulders here. 

To end we went to the water like usual and we ran through this combo and small bank down. We refined my shoulders for the down bank before moving on but it felt pretty good!

Finally Dom laid it on us and had us finish with the big brush out. I was extremely skeptical we would get over the big brush at the end the first attempt but Dom confidently said as long as I got my right line, didn't let her drift and had the right canter she would do it.

Of course he was right! 

So here's to hoping she feels ready and I feel ready on the big day.

Prepping for prelim

When a big life event happens, good or bad, it has residual effects. Either way there will be a period of time where you are just stuck in between. Where things aren't settled, there is no new routine yet and your new normal hasnt been established yet.

It can illicit feelings of excitement, relief, restlessness, anxiety and a whole medley of emotions. Not exactly something you want going on when riding. It was a great motivator to keep my emotions in check so it didn't push back our progress.

It was amazing though how quickly the main emotion of relief took over and then happiness. I finally felt the freedom to dream big without the pressure. I realized I was using my riding as a way to escape my life and putting way too much pressure on myself and Tillie.

So much happier with actual smiles when riding! 
I went into this season with the mentality of just do what feels good. If you aren't happy about it, overly stressed or it isn't feeling great, lets take it slower or reevaluate rather than push so hard to make it perfect.

What do you know, it made riding fun again. Not to mention a much more pleasurable Tillie. So fast forward to now...we are about to make our prelim debut this Saturday. As terrifying as it is, I am excited. I keep reminding myself the training is in there, as long as I don't get too frazzled, we can do this.

My Dom lesson last night was a nice little boost from him reminding me that we have been doing lessons, we have been schooling the prelim questions and Tillie has been show jumping clear and running XC like it was made for her. 

He warned me prelim stadium shouldn't be as much an issue for Tillie, but it will feel much bigger to me and not to let it get me wound up and lose my cool. 

He has had us do a few jumping exercises in a rotation leading up to shows that, so far, have seemed to get Tillie jumping very careful at events.

One is setting up either a one stride to one stride or a two stride to two stride with the middle jump being a wider square oxer. The distance should be set a bit shorter to encourage the horse to sit and jump powerfully.

As long as I don't over ride and try to compress her too much, I am confident she will be ok. No pressure on me right!?

In either case, its encouraging to hear your trainer back you. Its reassuring for me and his "you'll be fine" comments instill a tad more confidence that we really can do it. He said the jump to prelim is one of the larger step ups and it will feel that way, but not to let it back me off. His biggest piece of advice was for me to let the mare go. Don't sit there and not ride, but stop micromanaging her canter and gallop so much and do what you need to do and let her at it.

The rideability we have gotten from the slower gallop and canter we have to start achieving out of a more open stride. He reassured me it is there and to trust her more. He repeated several times, if you chose the right line and you have the right canter, this horse will do it. But you get her in too weak, she might run out and tell you she didn't feel good about it...and then Ill feel silly for doing too much. 

So in a nutshell, let the horse get her butt going and when in doubt sit my butt up, put my leg on and get her shoulders square. He even told me I shouldn't even wear my watch...to just go out there and not worry about the time, but to make sure I did let her gallop out when I could. 

The next piece of advice was to pay attention to the first combination on course. He said its typically jump 4-5 in and its typically one that will set the tone for the rest of the course...

Come in to it and add too much, youre setting up for a harder ride the rest of the course, but come in and nail the striding and get the right ride its confidence building for the horse and money in the bank for later on course when you need it.

Today and tomorrow will be a dressage day working on really memorizing my test so I don't get any errors!! Then one more jump school Thursday, this time doing an ascending grid based on Dom's recommendation.

He reassured me the mare has got it in there, that I just need to keep a cool head and ride it confidently like its just another training with the adjustability and speed needed for prelim.

Ill keep you all posted through the week and post some xc videos soon! What do you all do to keep your nerves in check?

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Deciding when to move up

It is a topic I have seen written about again and again where people talk about the struggle of deciding when its right to make the leap and move up to the next level.

Its a topic that there really isn't a blanket answer for (aside from the repeated advice, "Do it when the current level feels bored"). The choice is really personal. One that you can only know from knowing your horse, your own confidence and lots of discussion with the professionals involved.

Going for it

 I felt the move up to Training level was pretty huge because for me that level as my big goal. This big thing in my head that I built up. I didn't really think about moving up to prelim until Dom started asking my plans for the season.

Point her at it, She'll jump it
 When we discussed it initially, it was agreed we would just see how this season goes at Training level and re-evaluate when I felt ready...as in not hurl when looking at the huge prelim tables. I have been keeping an eye on Prelim courses when I have walked my own. Some have looked HUGE. Slowly though, they have started looking more doable. I would find myself thinking, "We can do that!"

Skinnies are becoming less of a thing
Realistically speaking, I was totally fine with the plan of getting miles at Training level considering the struggles we had even completing an event without forgetting a test or **ahem* a jump. I knew I needed to become comfortable enough where I did not feel so frazzled.

Getting the hang of this!
Interestingly enough, by the 3rd Training into this season I stopped  freaking out at the size of certain jumps on my course and started thinking more about timing, how to approach it etc. Without fail when walking my course, I almost always would have one fence that I would frantically text Dom and ask, "We have jumped something this big right?"

Water jump!
Any prelim jump in comparison scared the pants off me. But I noticed by the time we competed at Seneca, I was eyeing the prelim course while I walked mine and started thinking what we could realistically do and what we needed to start working on to be able to do what I didnt think we could do.

It wasnt pretty, but we did it
Pretty soon I was feeling like more and more of the prelim jumps were looking a little less intimidating, while training level became something that felt pretty easy. I hate saying that because this sport is anything but easy...and that whole wait to move up until you're bored thing, do jumps ever become "boring?"
Anyway, the entry is in for Seneca September 2nd for our Prelim debut. I reached out to the organizers to be sure I had the ability of dropping our entry down if I felt like our schooling leading up to it felt like we werent ready. Ill admit, I was feeling pretty 50/50 on it.

But after this weekend, I have never felt more confident! I took Tillie to windurra to school down banks and skinnies specifically, while also doing other things. But its no secret I hate down banks...and Skinnies are really the step up to prelim I am not 100% confident we are confirmed there. 

 Ill post more on the specifics later, but lets just say, we are ready!!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Life changes and big moves

I have been pretty terrible about blogging this year...I have alluded in some of my posts before that my personal life was evolving and going through pretty major changes. It has been all consuming and definitely a process. From feeling rocky to relief, progress and pain its been quite a whirlwind.

I am sure I am not alone. Statistically speaking, I likely know more people than not who have done through a divorce. It certainly is an event that makes you evaluate your life, goals and priorities.

If I look at my life a year ago, I wouldn't recognize it and in a good way. The role my horses play in my life has gone through some explorations. The horse I last posted about purchasing was quite fun and so pleasant to work with. He had that puppy dog personality that was a magnet for everyone that visited the farm. I am sad, but happy, to say he sold pretty darn quickly to his new person. So I am back down to Tillie.

Our first event of the season at Training level!

With the life changes, it also seems I am putting a lot less pressure on my riding and actually enjoying the fun of it. I must say it definitely has shown a huge change in Tillie who has been quite pleasant from the start of the season.

One of the few clear rounds of the division

She has really stepped up to the plate and become a true Training level packer...essentially saving my butt when I am not riding and all in all making this level fell easy. Gosh, crazy to even say that when this time last year we were starting out at this level and I felt like every fence was a huge gamble...and the inbetween riding was definitely not as refined.

Loch Moy in July (we got 7th!) conquering the double brush table that we fell at the novice level just a year earlier. 

A few things seemed to have helped Tillie come into herself, 1. a less rigid me being the biggest one. 2. a new saddle that fits us both. 3. Hock injections

She is really starting to get her shoulders up. I now know when she jumps over her shoulder and collapses, I either rode poorly and took my leg off, or if its super consistent, something is bothering her. (AKA her hocks).

It really helps I have someone who wholly supports my passion.
Tillie eating up the combination at Loch Moy
I hope it doesn't sound like gushing...I really am just feeling like this is why I went through the pain. We have hard times, ups and downs...and the ups make the downs worth it right? Until they don't and you have to change. And that shit is scary

So can be galloping at a fence but we do it anyway right!?
The hardest thing of all was leaving my dog behind. No dog ever replaces another, but they can certainly help fill a void. I know other dog owners know exactly what I mean when I say life just feels weird without a dog when you're used to having one around. 

Meet Goose on his gotchya day! 
 He certainly has become my partner in crime. I take him with me to the barn and shows. While he can be a little Tasmanian devil at times, he is my Goose!

How he likes riding in the car
Depsite Tillie's awesomeness so far this year, it was around the time we competed at Seneca I decided to start causally listing her for sale. While we both have come so far together and I am sure will continue to, she is not my forever horse. I do love her and will be incredibly sad to see her go, but I know she'll offer someone else a wealth of knowledge like she did for me. 

Not the greatest stadium round at this event, but some hock injections did the trick. 
 I am in no rush to sell her and still actively competing her. I am so pleased that with each event, we both just keep adding to what we learned and for the first time this year, I have begun tracking our time and using my event watch. Last year it was all about going clean and safe - which it always is! But we can actually add speed now and have breaks without the fits or fighting.

Tillie owning the jump just after the water combo at Seneca

There is so much to love about this mare. I have countless trainers supporting my decision and encouraging me to keep going with her. I have discussed her sale in great angst and still to this day waiver, but ultimately if the right match comes along I wont refuse.

Locking on to jumps and eating them up

I can sing her praises to anyone high and low but can also readily admit her faults and that she can be quite a finicky ride. She likes what she likes and will let you know when she doesn't like it. It has been a 4 year partnership learning her that has convinced her that working like this isn't going to kill you. 

Smiling when riding!! Never thought I'd see the day

The knowing one another like the back of my hand definitely has come into handy. With the amount riding has deviated in my life, Tillie has been like a rock and super consistent even if I haven't been.

She likes me even if she doesn't show it all the time

It is really crazy looking back at this blog and seeing posts of extreme frustration questioning whether she was capable. Don't get me wrong, I still do sometimes. But damn it if this mare doesn't come out ready to work with so much try...I can tell you if and when she sells and I am on the hunt for a new horse, it damn well better have half the heart she does. 

Loch Moy 7th place in July!
 I have had tons of non-serious interest in her, and ill admit I am completely ok with that. I am excited to say after last weekend at Fair Hill, we are now qualified for the move up to Prelim and for waredaca's big 3 day event - both of which I have scheduled!

Many people I have talked to have encouraged me to keep the ride on her through prelim or more for the experience since we know each other so well. Prelim is definitely that level in the back of my mind I have put off knowing its the first of the "Upper levels." Its pretty cool, but also pretty darn intimidating.

Moving up from second to last to 6th because of this beast and her jumping!

We decided after last weekend feeling so easy despite me being sick, that maybe it was time to choose the event we would make our Prelim debut at. So far its scheduled to be Seneca in early September with the ability to drop back down again the week before if I feel uneasy. In that case we would reroute to Flora Lea.

My show buddy already getting so big
I was so freaking proud of her last weekend. Despite dressage being a struggle (for me test riding is my nightmare), Tillie brought it for jumping. The stadium round was tricky which she owned and went clear bumping us up to 9th place. Then in an even more exciting turn of events, We went double clear on cross country - Yes even under time!!! It is the first event we have achieved this.
On a random note: Did I mention my love of cooking has resurfaced!?
While Seneca and Loch Moy we were close with fewer time penalties, this event was the first one we were closest to the optimum time in my division as well! This bumped us all the way up to 6th.  Which, might I add, was against riders like Mr. Dutton, Courtney Cooper and Jennie Brannigan to name a few.

my big eared animals
 So with all that said, I have decided to try my best to start blogging again to document the road to waredaca. I know it will be an incredible learning experience and really hope Tillie stays healthy and sound along the way!