Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Reflections

I probably should have brought my lap top to the show with me, handed my horse off the second we got out of the ring for our final division, and written my show recap post right then and there. I was on a serious high, clutching my blue ribbon and having a handful of yellow ribbons stuffed into my face for my over fences rounds as my barn mates surrounded me and told me how awesome we'd just done. I'd just crossed a serious goal off my list--one that up until it was tackled I wasn't entirely confident I was going to accomplish.

Then Hubby, Bobby, and I got back to the trailer to untack the hoss and stuff him with all the cookies, and Hubby offhandedly said, "You've jumped around Plantation and Bucks. This time last year you were doing Training, and everyone is telling you what a good job you just did getting over the tiniest course ever. I don't get it." I relayed that to BM while we were driving a load of those semi-feral creatures to their new home yesterday (What a fucking nightmare.), and she added, "SO was looking at the pictures and he was like, 'I thought Carly jumped the really big stuff like a badass?'"

Neither one of them meant anything mean by it of course. First of all, they're dudes. They say stupid shit all the time anyway. But neither of them was too impressed by what were pretty small jumps, and not being immersed in the horse world, they didn't really grasp the full effect of what I've gone through this year with my confidence.

BM was quick to tell me I am a badass, and while maybe we're not going Training right now, my horse is trained so much better, and when we get back there we're going to rock it because of that.

Still, a large part of me deflated. It was the tiniest course ever. I didn't even ride that well.

Then I went back and read my last two posts about the shows in this series. Back in May at the first one, I jumped one jump before bursting into tears and having to leave the ring unable to get around another fence out there. I finished that post with this:
Do we aim to do better next time? I don't know when the next time will be. I'm too scared to jump off property right now. I'm too worried about things going wrong and getting hurt again. I don't believe in my horse, even if he's proven he can be trusted to do his job. This is shaping up to be a much longer road than I anticipated.
And at the second show, a month later, I only went to school in the morning and didn't actually make it into any of the classes.
I held firm in my decision to keep this as a schooling opportunity only. My horse was a little naughty, I worked through it, and we jumped a few different jumps several times apiece OFF PROPERTY! I love satin as much as the next person, but that was a big enough win for me. Maybe I'll be ready by the next show.
I only went to cheer on barn mates for the third show as I had a dressage show that afternoon, but I vividly remember being so nervous standing at the gate waiting for W to go in for her rounds. I was dressed in shorts and muck boots, my horse wasn't even on the property, and I was getting psyched out by the jumps.

When I look back at all that, it makes it easier to feel proud of myself again. No, 2'3" isn't the most exciting thing in the world, and no, I didn't get a big open stride out of my horse or nail every distance. What I did do was make it around three separate courses, off property, with long approaches and multiple lines, and I never once got scared.

I had a smile plastered to my face going around even as we made mistakes. I was happy with my horse, happy with myself, and so thankful to BM and my whole barn family who cheered us on the entire morning.

A brain injury is an invisible thing. Confidence is an invisible thing. It's hard to see from the outside how much those things affect someone, so I have to compare myself to my own standards. I worked hard to get to that show, and I think I did the very best job for where I'm at now--not because of how well I did or didn't ride, but because I took another step toward conquering a crippling fear.

Go. Me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Eastside Hunter Classic IV

Alas, we come to the final show in our little local hunter barn series. These shows were exactly what I needed this year to help get me jumping off property in the most low key, no pressure setting imaginable....while still also having the opportunity to get ribbons because I'm a five year old and that matters.

We emptied almost the entire barn this time around to attend, and more than half the hack division belonged to BM. It made for a little bit of a circus in the already circus setting of pre-show warm up (Hunter shows are just the silliest things ever.), but fortunately this time around I wasn't in need of hand holding from BM, and I was able to warm myself up both on the flat and over fences.

there were girls warming up for the 3' when i started warming up on the flat.
just so we don't get ahead of ourselves and think i was jumping that.

Bobby was a little tight when we first started out. He'd picked up the trot the day before like he was completely crippled, but the instant I put him together and asked him to go around like a dressage horse he was all, "Oh, my body. Riiiight, it's supposed to actually do things. Got it." and then was magically not stiff in the slightest. I employed that same tactic with the same results, and we had a pretty good prance around for ten minutes.

That also gave the tiny girls riding giant horses over big jumps the time to get in and out so that the jumps were knocked back down to weenie rider height. I started off with a couple jumps over the singles with their mile long approaches.

look at my cute pony packing me around like a happy camper

All of our homework of hunter specific course work most definitely paid off. I didn't feel the need to pull and pick to any of the singles. I maybe didn't get crazy and add the leg I needed, but we maintained a happy lope up to everything without either one of us fucking up our slow and steady rhythm.

After a few singles to get the jumping mojo going we moved on to all the lines. We worked on lines every single day last week with mixed results. Sometimes he was really good, sometimes he biffed the distance to the second jump so bad we barely made it over. Between our lesson Wednesday and a BM boot camp ride on Thursday we were back in business, and our rides Friday and Saturday were about as good as we can get right now.

when in doubt, just pull on your horse. d'oh! bobby don't care. 

The lines were so-so warming up. My canter feels like a nice steady pace, but looking at video we are so slowwww. I mean, I can tell we're not moving out at the pace we're supposed to be by any means, but it doesn't feel as slow as it actually is. That made the lines ride fine when we came in on the right distance and I sat right up (thanks, Wednesday lesson!) to make the add stride come up easy peasy. How a 17hh horse makes the add stride feel like an absolute breeze I don't know, but I'm okay with that right now.

sneaking into a line after a pony meant bobby got to just canter right over some of these

I finally felt like I'd done enough that nothing in the actual classes was going to come as a surprise to me, and that there was no reason I couldn't do the whole course at once since I'd just jumped all the elements a million times apiece. I let Bobby grab some water and a snack while I went to finish off my entry.

In the end the debate between 2'3" and 2'6" was easily decided by time. The 2'3" division was right after the hack division while the 2'6" had a whole other division between those two. For the sake of sanity for everyone in our party (Bobby, Hubby, and myself), I went with the earliest choice.

The Hack

This made-up schooling show division is four flat classes with the fourth finishing up with a trot in, canter out cross rail that everyone does individually. I used it solely to get more ribbons. Is that not the whole purpose of hunter shows? Pretty sure it is.


Since most of the division came from my barn, we were up against very correct moving horses. Maybe not the fanciest, but BM drills proper dressage work into everyone. Bobby felt braced in the first two classes. I kept trying to slip my reins out a little bit as per BM's instructions every time we passed her, but it just made him splat onto his forehand. His right lead canter departs were also atrocious for the first two classes, but there were so many of us that I think we got lucky and the judge was looking elsewhere for them.


After that though, Bobby settled down this time around instead of getting more wound up. I was able to give him a longer rein and push him along. He also figured out the PA system and started listening for instructions over the loud speaker instead of jigging while he waited in anticipation for the next command to come from me.

Our fellow dopey Thoroughbred Momo, lovingly (sometimes) referred to as Dumb Dumb, pulled a clean sweep of the whole division. BM bought him a few months ago, and even though he came in skinny and under muscled you could tell right away that he was going to clean up on the flat. He was made for hunterland.

A really cute grey got second in the first three classes before his rider mistook the canter to trot call for canter to walk, and then he had his own Dumb Dumb moment over the X that knocked him out of the running. That left room for Bobby and I, who were pinned in third in the previous three classes, to sneak into second and snag the Reserve Champion behind Momo.

bobby thinks line up is the strangest game ever.

We wrangled everyone together for pictures before I handed my ribbons off to someone (Barn mates--the most magical creatures ever. I love them and want to take them with me to every show.), and hurried down to look at my courses again since our division was getting underway. I made sure BM knew I'd need her ringside to run the courses by her since the other riders were doing their courses back to back to back and I'd have to do the same.

Again. Hunterland. You make no sense but I really do love you for things like that.

BM grabbed our champion ribbons and we had to pose for those pictures too before I quickly shoved that ribbon over to Hubby and pushed my way to the ring when I saw one of the other trainers taking off her student's martingale as she was heading in the ring. I don't know much about this sport, but I do know that signals flat time and I hadn't done my rounds yet.

Fortunately the ring steward-type person knew I was in there too so after apologizing for being all of half a second tardy even though nobody seemed to care, into the ring we went!

Jumpy Jump Time

We only had to do seven fences for the first two classes because I was in the lowest jump division, and baby horses and/or chicken shit riders don't need to get overwhelmed. First up was the inside single with it's long approach that the last time we were here I almost pulled Bobby to a stop in front of before he hopped over because he's the best and then I had to stop because I was so scared.

not this time, wishing well!

I turned in knowing I was so prepared and ready for this approach. I sat chilly on my loping mule beast and we hopped over from a nice western pleasure canter while BM called out, "GALLOP, Carly!! Faster! Faster!!" When we were all done, she was like, "I didn't think you could hear me." No, BM. I could hear you just fine. I was ignoring you because the slowest canter known to man is my happy place right now.

Bobby was having a serious right lead canter aversion Sunday, and he didn't want to give me that change for anything. He didn't even want to land on that lead despite my half-assed attempts.

ok, but if i steer you into the standard coming out of the line and lean to the right,
you should just land on the right, bobby. 

It made for not pretty turns where we either fought over the change, or I just opted not to fight and let him continue on the wrong lead--or both. Because that is a winning mentality! Really though, I was just in there to get around the jumps. I knew we weren't going to be competitive, and I didn't care in the slightest. I was competing against myself and my crazy brain.

sorry these pictures suck. my camera is the worst.

After our first course with no mishaps besides the lead issue, I made sure I knew my course before BM sent me off with, "Go out there and move it! Use your voice if you want him to wait. Now gallop!"


LOL, obviously that did not happen, and the only time I let him out of our barely-there canter was through the red line and he weeble-wobbled down it in confusion. Bobby and I like slow now, okay? But look at us messing up and not caring--getting over the jumps anyway and finishing laughing because who cares what it looked like, we did it!

The final course was the stake class which basically meant "Jump this 2' coop as your first fence and then do the entire course this time."

It was uneventful, but in a good way. Bobby popped out a little uh...special from the green line, but I made sure I fixed our biffed distance into the burgundy line.

wheee!

I finished with big pats for the pony, and from all the way across the ring I could hear BM yell, "YOU FINISHED! THAT IS SUCH A WIN!"

thanks, britches. 

We stayed in the ring for the flat, and instead of thinking we were still doing the jumping, Bobby floated around on a loose rein chill as could be and won the class against our two other competitors.

best part of hunter shows. give me your satin, small child.

I have some thoughts on the whole experience I'll share in another post, but fuck yeah for going out there and not letting those little jumps get the best of us this time! I can write a mile long list of things we need to work on, but right now I'm just going to celebrate that win.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hunter Show Spoiler

Because somehow I got wrangled into helping BM move a herd of semi-feral horses to their new barn today, so a full recap will have to come tomorrow!

In short though?

he kept his shit (mostly) together for the hack division this time around

which earned us reserve champion behind our stablemate and fellow dumb ottb momo!

and we made it around all three courses (!!!!!!!) before winning the flat

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Doing it up

Two good things happened in the past two days!

The first is that I finally bought a replacement jump saddle for my now long-gone Tekna. For whatever reason, the person that bought the Tekna off ebay can't be bothered to click a couple buttons to acknowledge that she got the saddle and all is well, but she can message me back to tell me that.

Click a few buttons < write a paragraph detailing how great the saddle is, and how happy her daughter is with it.

As such, ebay/paypal sat on my monies for a month to make sure I wasn't a saddle scammer and only released the funds yesterday. I missed out on a couple cheaper saddles that would have been perfect fits, but I was able to jump on a good old fashioned 17.5" 31cm Stubben Siegfried for just under my tiny budget that evening. BM warned me that the 31 probably won't stay wide enough for him in the long run, but I fully intend on investing in something nicer in the spring, and we both think it will work for him that long without issue.

It's only coming up from Virginia and it shipped first thing this morning, so I'm desperately hoping it will scurry its ass up here for my ass by Sunday's show. If not, BM dug out another slightly decrepit but still usable Stubben for me to borrow since all the other ones (Three other ones--best barn mates ever that let me use their things!) will also be going to the show.

identical to this saddle. i mean, it's an old stubben. they're not exactly eye candy.

The other good thing was that we jumped in on the jumping half of barn friend W's lesson this morning and did our first 2'6" course.

AND I AM ALIVE TO TELL ABOUT IT.

when your horse is giant, that shouldn't elicit much excitement.
BUT IT DOES TO ME.

We warmed up on the flat with her while BM coached her on getting the giant sleepy dragon she was on to lift his shoulders around the turns. Bobby--while not as light and fluffy as he was on Monday where he was the lightest and fluffiest--still acted like he'd maybe had a day or two of dressage training in his life and trucked along like a pro.

I was happy enough with that start honestly. If I hadn't shown up at the exact same time as W and conspired to hijack her lesson (with her permission of course), I was going to focus on getting Bobby super tuned in on the flat in a jump saddle in preparation for the flat classes anyway.

After warm up, BM sent W off to start the course first. (After I made her check that the jumps were really only 2'6" because they did look a little giant. They were though, and she shooed me away.)

We started off with a single outside, and then a long approach to a single diagonal, around to a three stride line, and then back around to another single diagonal. Okay, so it was an abbreviated course, but it hit on all the hunter points so good enough.

teeny tiny jump from the pace sunday

As is Bobby's MO, he wasn't really with it for the first jump and we stuffed it in there a bit. We landed in a heap, and he pulled the reins out of my wide open fingers. I had to do a circle to get reorganized both mentally and physically before coming to the first diagonal. Not enough leg and too much picking made him stuff an extra one in (or two or three...BM: "You guys would fit twenty seven extra strides in there if I didn't yell at you to come in with more pace!"), and I decided that before heading into the line that we'd start all over again.

The second time through was better though we still landed after that first jump slightly discombobulated. Like, what even is holding onto your reins? Don't ask me! The line felt like was raced through it although of course that just meant that we hit the three strides easily, and then a quick turn to the final jump.

W went again, and then Bobby and I went back at it. I closed my fingers on the reins while still working hard to make sure I wasn't pulling. BM told me to square my turn and let go of the inside rein so our turn to the first was better, and I landed aware of my surroundings.

Key points:

  • Sit the fuck down in the saddle to sit my fucking horse down.
  • Lean the fuck back with my whole collapsing upper half.
  • Put my fucking leg on and keep going.
We nailed the diagonal, and then got in good to the line. We came out a hair tight because racing, but still got to the last fence alive. BM rides him tomorrow which should have him not landing racing through a line in about two seconds flat.

The best part was that we had an audience of a few other people aside from BM and W which would normally freak me out, but I was able to completely ignore it. AND, even though I thought 2'6" looked a little on the large side, I wasn't scared to come up to them at all. It was just, "Hmm. Those look bigger than 2'6. That will make me feel like kind of a bad ass to jump those."

big show standards make 2'6" look downright tiny.
also how cute is hunter bobby? so cute.


I'm still undecided on which division we'll do, and I probably won't decide until after we've schooled that morning. Hunter shows, you may be the worst, but sometimes you're kind of the best.

Monday, August 15, 2016

No Fear

So the past couple of weeks (Has it been that long? Maybe only one week? One and a half weeks? This is why we blog--to remember all the things.) I've been experiencing a weird phenomena.

NO MOTHER FUCKING FEAR ABOUT JUMPING.

Some trepidation perhaps, but my mind has suddenly gone into full on analysis mode in the canter, and it's taken up all my brain cells so that there's no room for death mantras.

With the hunter show coming up this weekend, I've been hyper-focused on working on those long approaches to jumps. Obviously no guarantees that any of that work will carry over once I get off property, but I can go into this show knowing I've done my homework.

jumped this oxer A BUNCH. if we didn't nail it, i just circled back around and tried again.

For whatever reason, my brain has decided that it can function well enough again to aid in the decision making process of jumping instead of simply shutting down and blanking out. Thanks, Brain. As such, I now have a nice long list of things to distract me as we canter for ten minutes up to a single oxer on the other side of the ring (For real though, what's the appeal there, hunters?!).

How's the pace? Is it open and forward, or pulling and rushing and forward? Do I actually--gasp--need to add leg? Do I need to half halt to re-balance? Do I need to half halt to make sure his mind isn't wandering? Or is he being such a pro that I can go all chillski on him and just sit there? One last finger squeeze three strides out, or is the rhythm so spot on that I can just let it happen?

zero chill. baby horse in the background got to go first which made bobby ANGRY.
jumped it anyway because SO BRAVE.
(also it was 2'6" in the middle. we measured. because maybe wanting to feel braver.)

Ain't nobody got time to freak out when you've got all that going on!

In other news, Bobby and I went out twice for our barn's baby hunter pace Sunday. He was awesome the first time around. Aside from just being super chill and pleasant about everything, he was also a flying change machine which is always super fun when you can just ask for those wherever you please and he hands them out like candy. (Helmet cam on my facebook and youtube if anyone is so incredibly bored to death that they want to sift through 25 minutes of footage.)

happy horse is happy to be out jumping in the field.

The second time around, however, he was too sleepy to give any fucks. Even with my spurs dug into his sides on take off over jumps, he was like, "Ugh, fine. I will jump literally one half and inch higher than what I'm going over."

go, heifer! 

That lasted until we were waiting for the baby horse to make it over one final jump in one of the fields. Baby horse finally made it over and went trotting off on landing to continue the way which of course put him in front. Bobby was all hell to the no, and had a minor tantrum. Very minor in Bobby's world with only minimal sideways running and jigging, but enough to be annoying.

"hurryyyyy, we cannot let that baby horse win the race!"

I don't know why he's been such a tool about having to lead this year. It never used to a be a thing before. Whatevs, Bobby. Whatevs.

My second team came in third and the first came in fourth (because we were so speedy), and it was a fun way to spend the weekend. Overall though? I really, really just want to jump some real cross country jumps that are giant and legit.

too tiny.

And maybe we'll hit the 2'6" division instead of the 2'3" this weekend.

Maybe.

Because not scared right now.*

*Of tiny jumps at home.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Speak the language

I think about this a lot, but a passing conversation with Sarah about starting lateral work prompted me to write about cues specific to each horse and rider pair. Also because I'm too super busy with things like watching the Olympics and....watching the Olympics to blog about my rides lately (In summation: really awesome, awesome, awesome, really awful.). I know a few other bloggers have hit on this topic before, but the posts were from so long ago that I'm not even going to bother trying to dig for them.

I put all the riding horse work on Bobby by myself without the aid of a trainer. I didn't have one available when I first got him after he was done racing, and once our circumstances changed and there was one on property to work with, she wasn't the right trainer for us.

Since that was the case, I muddled through putting what I would consider the basics on him--shoulder-in, haunches-in, and leg yield. Obviously those movements aren't asked for until First and Second level, but to me those are things that benefit every horse at every level, and every horse should know how to do them.

shoulder-in bobby and carly style.
pc: megan stapley.

I would consider myself overall a pretty intuitive rider. I'm in sync with what parts of my horse are doing what, and my body does a good job of reacting without having to put too much thought into the what or why. With that in mind, a lot of our training was figuring out things like, "If my seat moves this way, it makes this part of Bobby's body move this way. So if I shift like this, that should shift as well." And now we're in leg yield.

Make sense? Kind of sort of?

Training my horse to respond to my own made-up cues definitely shows up when someone else gets on him. Things that I find easy to get him to do--turn on the haunches and rein back for example--BM has a hard time getting out of Bobby.

But at the same time, when we're trying to fix things or move on to something harder, we're also prone to running into road blocks because of how I've trained my horse.

although sometimes he just can't horse at all.

BM is what I would consider a very biomechanical thinking trainer. She's excellent at explaining how every facet of the horse and rider works together and separately to perform each movement. Thanks to that, she's helping me fill in holes from my earlier work that I just never knew about.

So I want to know about you guys. Do you have cues that only work on your horse if you ask for them? Do you make anything up to get a movement, or are you strictly by what the book says to do?

Friday, August 5, 2016

Long Distance Relationships

Bobby and I have been jumping fucking fiends these past two days. I mean, we basically jumped as many jumps as probably the rest of you would get over in the first fifteen minutes of your ride. So whoa, look out.

Yesterday I'd planned on setting up a course to get lots and lots of repetitions over. Sadly everyone showed up just as early as I did so I had to limit myself to the two diagonal fences in the middle so there was enough room for greenie schooling, dressage schooling, tiny pony ride, and moi.

I kept the one as a vertical making it 2'6", and then I made the other one a 2'6" swedish--basically a floating cross rail which in my head means so easy. #carlylogic #notreallogic

nailed it.

Once again Bobby was taken my complete surprise when I finally turned him in to the first jump. He sputtered to a trot and then awkwardly clambered over because he's a good pony while BM and I shook our heads. He automatically goes into dressage mode flatting which is nice because pretty, but once we hit the canter he's not really looking up hunting for fences, and he inevitably seems to think I can't steer and we need to avoid crashing into this obstacle that just appeared in front of his face. (#runonsentence)

But after a couple of times he clued into what was happening and picked his head up.

It didn't really make for better jumps though.

We just couldn't get on the same page. He'd putter up to the fence, sometimes breaking to the trot, sometimes not, and then gallump over from a tight spot. Or he'd go forth and charge the mother fucker--only not really, he just made a big fuss while still picking a perfectly acceptable distance. The latter is obviously better, but the faux-fire breathing dragon shit does a good job of tricking me into thinking we're all going to die so I pull.

Not winning!

We did jump each jump a bunch (relatively speaking), but I finally left the ring and played over a few cross country fences outside instead because those are easy. We finished with a fun romp around the field and turned in.

good pony britches. still the best horse to gallop.

Today I was going to get my course work in. Keeping the diagonal pair (those standards are fucking heavy, okay?) I made them boring 2'3" verticals, and then set two more 2'3" verticals one the long sides.

This is where I have the hardest time with courses--the long approach. There's so much room to think about what's going to go wrong and start micromanaging in the worst way. I beat that bitch down today though.

I started off with the two outside jumps, both of which had almost the entire long side as their approaches. You can turn in and stare down those bitches for what feels like fooooorrreeeeevvvveeerrrrrr before you finally get there.

But I was brave. I was not scared about those jumps. I knew I had to put leg on and get him to jump out of a forward stride, and I spent all my energy focusing on that instead of chanting my favorite mantra: "We're going to die. We are going to die."

Not every spot was perfect at first as every now and then I'd pick too much and stuff him in there. At one point as we picked the canter back up, I shook my head and thought, "I just can't do this." I immediately bitch slapped that thought and told myself, "Bitch, yes you can. Just close your fucking leg." Came up and nailed the next jump.

I made the whole ride about coming in off the longest approach possible to prepare for this hunter show in a couple weeks, and that ride showed me that I can do it. I was sooooo proud of myself.

BM invited us out to the xc field with her lesson so we went and played out there for awhile afterwards. Bobby and I were in our happy place and taking everything off a forward stride from the perfect distance every time. BM told me we made no sense, but since this was clearly so easy to go off and do an auto release over everything just for some sort of challenge. Snooze, auto release is easy too.

we spent most of our time making friends and
taking pictures.

I know I still have a long, long way to go, but I am so counting this ride as a huge step forward.