Tuesday, June 4, 2019

I swear I am not MIA!

Sorry for the delay in posting everyone! Its been super busy on my end and I hosted a big 6-course tasting dinner over the weekend (I need to figure out how to do a second blog about cooking as thats my second passion!). I have been up to my eyeballs in prepping for that and trying to play catch up.

Table is set!
Anyway, last weekend was quite hectic between getting Kiss out to her first show of the year and first beginner novice! The next day Tillie and I went and did a clinic with Jennie Brannigan. Ill post about that separately.

So its been a bit hectic, and it didn't help matters that I fell off kiss on Thursday last week and got myself a mild concussion...its my first one, and boy let me tell you it is not fun. I did not have one that entire day (I fell off early morning), but by the next day I felt really out of it.

Penelope the Pig and Goose feeling my vibe

Poor kiss was so shocked about it when I fell - she spooked at something and well lets just say we parted ways. I have been limiting my screen time since, but turning a corner so slowly allowing more and more back on my plate!

So more catch up posts to come!!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Tillie's first show back of the season - Fair Hill

I was feeling a tad worried going into Fair Hill...I really only started digging in to prep about two and a half weeks out. I realized the week before, I had yet to ride my dressage test at all on Tillie let alone some of the movements...nor had I stadium jumped her.

Ummm unprepared much?

Attempting to prep for braiding all by myself!
But our jump prep felt great and our final dressage lesson the day before felt really good, relaxed and consistent even through the test.

I did it! Although not beautiful, I did not melt down
I got her all cleaned up and braided...which if any of you remember is a big deal for me lol. I am not a good braider and in the past would get about 3 braids in before losing it and calling someone for help. So was super proud I did it!

Tucked in and ready to go
Tillie the next morning was really offended I left her in all night...so lesson learned, we will try next time putting her in the smaller paddock with Kiss and hope she keeps her braids in. Because her angst lead to some major issues in our dressage test...like 44.5 points of issues to be exact.

Yea not great. Especially since our flatwork has greatly improved. You can see she just was persnickety and super tense....and it led to me getting flustered. The head flicking...well not ideal and I believe to know the cause and working towards fixing it:

I will say, I didnt feel horrible when I saw a few other riders in my open division with similar scores (I mean we were dead last, but at least we didnt canter out of the ring like that one time though). I had Ryan Wood, Jenny brannigan and similar quality riders in my division...OH and Icabod crane. You know Phillip Dutton's previous mount. 

F- ME. 

We could have used this relaxation in dressage

So new focus...dressage boot camp for a week (currently happening). I was feeling really frustrated and resolved to get this figured out because I KNOW we can do better and more than that we have to do better. I was however happier with her canter and trot lengthenings over previous tests...even if the score didnt reflect it.

But on to jumping!

Tillie warmed up amazingly well. Got all the distances, leads and was forward but would rebalance and jumping like a beast. I opted to go in early and felt ready. The course had a lot more combinations than I was expecting, which were a huge issue for us last season we competed. So I prayed our last jump lesson paid off and we would keep the rails up.

So jump one...we pull a rail. Not exactly how Id like to start...and left lead, not sure where that went?! But I will fess up to the first rail. I got too impatient and didnt keep her balanced...I dropped her before.

But all the hard stuff she nailed and was adjustable and responsive...through the second line however she felt pretty darn heavy. She did respond to be, but I had what felt like 25 lbs in both reins.

We pulled the last oxer's rail as well...as you can see in the video, she got low and I didnt hang out long enough in the turn to get her back so we basically came in low and hot.

But we survived and at this point still in the qualification for waredaca...so XC it is.

Out we went...I had the goal to get as close to time as possible knowing full well I tend to run her too slow. 

She came out strong. Like way too strong. So I had to keep her in check more than i would have liked the first few fences. 

You can see here her pulling my arms off down the hill...and i was thinking oh god if this is the whole course I might die. But knew after jump 4 we had a downhill to a good uphill stretch to let her have at it and get out that pent up energy. 

It worked and rest of the jumps came nice and steady out of a good distance...without always adding!

So not exactly the first outing I had anticipated. BUT there was a lot to like despite the frustrating lows. At least coming out of this i know what we need work on. We at least got the qualification needed for waredaca so 3 more to go!

A few people recommended trying perfect prep or something before dressage...if anyone has suggestions on show day help for relaxation please let me know!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Tillie prep for the season

I have been focusing a lot more on Tillie - partly because she needs it and Kiss is way easier to maintain - but also because we have lots of holes that need fixing with her being off last year.

I took her to Windurra and attempted to try a waterford bit on her and well, lets just say, she HATED it.

You can see how she is practically running through it - sure her head is up, but she was pissed.

More in the waterford...you can tell she's just rushing and unsettled. So we only did one more set of jumps before Dom had us change back to our original bit because our steering was a bit altered from how distracted tillie was:

She settled down a little but still was holding a bit of a grudge...however Dom upped the difficulty to get her thinking which helped throw her a curve ball and get her mind off being mad.

She was being a super finicky ride at this point but the good moments were starting to come through. She surprised me with how straight and confident she was to to the skinny...which tend to be her nemesis when we havent seen them in a while:

Then we moved on to the water which really showed my lack of trusting to start this season...and learning to need to stop wanting to always do the add:

ANNNNNDDD the blooper of the ride...our first attempt at this corner combo. Which was hilarious...and took me off guard because Tillie's approach was good until the last stride when she decided the grass was horse eating and she wanted nothing to do with it. 

Dom wanted us to keep going to the jump into water and im pretty sure my pants matched the first time through (Remember my fear of downhill?!)

But we scraped through it and of course had to do it again:

So I felt good going into fair hill last weekend. But more to come on that soon.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Prep for the first show of the season (kiss)

So the first show of the season has since come and gone, but I am playing catch up again.

Last week I took both my girls to Windurra to get another good xc school in. I felt like Tillie's first one of the season was a bit rusty, and Kiss' was less than confident with the wet footing.

I rode Kiss first to tire her out so she would be happier about standing on the trailer. She came out feeling a lot more confident even if I wasn't. My biggest issue starting out this season is riding a bit timid/not brave enough up to jumps. Once I do, both my horses shine...but when I micromanage and shut them down...well they shut down.

Dom decided to have us tackle the water right away, discussing the order of jumps and questions and why we school in that order. I found it interesting since usually we wait for water later. But for him he wanted to put some "money in the bank" for later in our school.

She did well going right in and we got right to doing the bank out. We attempted to do her first ever bank into water and her confidence wasnt quite there, but here is the succession of getting through it!

and finally much more confident:

I was really proud of her working through this. Dom also said it was a great schooling experience and reassured me her initial reaction is very normal for a first attempt.

From here we went to the dry banks and the confidence building paid off:

Usually kiss will look at the down banks and hesitate but she felt good and confident...and i am getting much less worried about them myself! From here Dom kicked me in the butt and said lets ride FORWARD...get up to the jump. 

We ended at the ditches and Kiss handled this like a pro too!

Our aim is Loch Moy BN this weekend...I am hoping we are ready. 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Meet my newest mount

I just realized I dont think I ever formally introduced my "baby" horse Kiss (jc name KissTheButterflies).
Finally having my girls together at the same barn felt really nice
I saw an ad posted about her and just could not stop thinking of her. I had fresh money in my pocket to go towards her purchase and it was burning a hole in my pocket.

The day I went to look at her (she is 3 in this picture)

If any of you remember Typo in my adding to the roster post...I sold him pretty quickly to an adult male as his first horse because he is just so chill. I knew pretty quickly he wouldn't be sticking around...i like my feisty mares...and he fit perfectly in with his new owner's agenda. They still are building together and happy which makes me super happy.

One of our first off farm schoolings...can you say wood allergy!?
 Kiss has by far been way easier, more sane and willing than Tillie was at this young age. Sure she has her moments, but she is just so NICE. She was so good at her first few events last season. Worried for sure and just wiggly...so not like the cocky tillie dragging my butt around.

First ever full event, looking the part already

Both my mares could not be any more opposite. Kiss is typically happy to plod along however fast or slow you ask...sometimes more on the slow side. She tends to be a worrier which is something we are working on. Really managing her confidence and protecting that.

Another outing in the season at Loch Moy...having some baby feelings about it all

She jumped around very well and confident though!

She isnt as brave as tillie, but once you show her the way shes usually pretty honest. I admit to not always giving her the driving, supportive ride she always needs to things simply because I am not used to that! Its been a learning curve for me but a very fun one. Hence us sticking at intro last year to feel one another out...we were about to move up to BN for one final event but all the darn rain foiled that and everything was cancelled.

Dressed up in "racing gear" for a paper chase

All that rain didnt help set us up for success this year just yet. This season we are struggling with her big feet somewhat, but we got pads put on and so far **knocking on all the wood** that has seemed to keep her happy and comfortable.

Did i mention she sometimes feels like a human blender?

My goal for her this year (shes is now 5) is to keep plugging away at the confidence building. Lots of miles, traveling and exposure. We will likely live in BN land for a while until she tells me she's bored.

Schooling at tranquility last fall
 The mare has some talent in there I am excited to see come out, but must be careful not to push too fast too soon...because she is so much easier than tillie was, its easy to get carried away.

Not touching this mom!!

Scope for days

 Her legs and feet are so much thicker than Tillie....and her body longer. Its been interesting learning how to put her together. Shes also much lighter in my hands...

First day of trying her
Last week

She was so young and awkward, I really tried to take some time with her...i gave her most of this winter off and the time off hasnt disappointed. Shes come back well aside from the feet issue. 

Just because shes cute
 Our first schooling of the season she was doing much better jumping across and not so up and down...however we went again when the footing was wet and we had that issue again which makes me things studs are needed sooner than I realized.

So that is Kiss!! My princess pony...while Tillie is very much still queen bee. We have a busy season planned between the two! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Throw back post: Phillip Dutton Clinic

I didnt sit completely idle this winter...in addition to playing around bridleless with Tillie, I decided to go ahead and do a near by clinic with Phillip Dutton. What the heck right?

Well turns out, it was the shittiest weather day one could hope for doing anything outside. Poor Phillip had to be miserable because even riding wasnt pleasant. It was COLD and raining...and not just like overcast drizzling type raining. But like solid steady cold rain.
Meeting and greeting...the Giant dinasour is Emma from fraidy cat eventing.
Phillip was running each session like clockwork. Keeping the train moving I am sure in an effort to get the F out of the rain. The exercises he had set up were interesting and ones I am keeping in my tool box for sure...but I dont think we got the full experience with the crappy weather.

We were trying to make the best of it though!

The gist of the entire clinic was ride into your corners. He literally had cones set up like I do to my little kids to force us all to use the corners...and it is kind of amazing how much it took effort. Funny how much you don't realize you have a bad habit until someone calls it out.

You can see Phillip Dutton at Tillie's butt hollering at us from his megaphone.

Tillie was HOT this day...likely because it was so cold, not being ridden super consistently and needing her hocks done. She has never been a fan of cold weather and always comes out really tense and forward on colder days or mornings. But what told me she needed her hocks done (her tell tail sign) is the landing and dropping.

Yea we got our hocks injected a few days later lol

 For warm up he was very adamant about ridability...could you go forward and back in the canter. Could you leg yield. And my most favorite - can you ride with no stirrups. I wont lie it took a few mental quick pep talk phrases before I took my feet out...like excuse me sir? You want me to do what while its raining on the back of my fire breathing dragon?

But Tillie was a champ and didnt care...go figure
Leg yielding exercice

From there we did a line with three jumps with the center one offset...which was interesting. Also Tillie and I completely took out a standard which mortified me. But you know, no biggie, just an olympic medalist having to clean up my mess. Then tell me to do it again. Famous last words...

Tillie and I taking out the standard. Yep - that happened.

 Well I stayed on and it did get better....

Then we moved on to adjustability in a line. Could you come in and get 4 strides, then come back and do 5? Tillie nailed it as did everyone else in the group!

Tillie's mare glare is strong...
 So all in all not the most pleasant experience. But you know us eventers ride in anything so we made the best of it. I do hope to clinic with him again someday hopefully when its nicer out and allows more time to get feedback.

And huge shout out to Austen for capturing the day and very soggy moments!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

New season, new goals (Tillie)

The last two years of my life have been rough...and its my own fault really. Piling things on my plate and never stopping to just process. But in the end, it has led to this season and what will come. In a lot of ways it's better. I had some time to erase bad habits. To really think about what I want.

Getting Tillie around prelim was HUGE for me...
I will admit, after stepping off the prelim course and being so thankful we finished. I had a twinge of doubt we would get back to this any time soon. I couldn't say why...or give a reason. But I was definitely right. Tillie ended up getting tendinitis of her superficial digital flexor tendon...and the recovery took quite a bit of time last year. It didn't help she figured out how to open her stall door and proceeded to have a joy run **gallop** around the farm.

Not sure what the fuss is all about guys...

It allowed me an easier season with Kiss to just chill...and realize how burnt out I really was. The break did a world of good for Tillie too. So far she's coming back stronger and sounder than ever. 

You can tell which one is the morning person and which one needs coffee first

We have plenty of homework, but I am putting it out there to hold myself accountable: I am trying to qualify for the 3-day at Waredaca. AND get our passport to do a 1* (maybe not this year, but this year is the set up...).

Tillie isn't so sure she's ready for the workload
We have Fair Hill this weekend at training level in the hopes to knock off some dust and tackle my own show nerves...we will be living here until I feel bored again like two years ago at the level.

Smaller goals are to get Tillie's gallop where I feel the adjustability is there when I ask...not 10 strides later. And get our dressage scores up. Which means, me not blanking out and doing nothing in my test...which I have a tendency to do.