Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Return of the blog

Oh, Blogosphere, it’s been too long; what a absentee blogger I have been. Ironically, I’ve “written” a few posts in my mind, but I haven’t been so motivated as to type out my ideas. I’m waiting for that technology that just takes my thoughts and publishes them on several random networking sites…oh, that’ll be the day (blech).

Our trip to Kentucky was a good time with grand horse watching, good (horsey) shopping, tasty food and drinks and much needed hang out time with Mike! The week back was a little blurry; I had trouble getting enough sleep and work was always a day ahead of me. Not to mention we were preparing for our very first horse trial! Despite my anxiety over having 4 days off the week before the competition, I fell back into step with our routines nicely. We had a few nice flatwork sessions and a good cross country lesson (hooray especially considering our first one was a flop). The only real problem emerged the evening before we were set to compete. I though I would do some light conditioning with Caesar then hop him over a few fences in the ring followed by a few xc fences. He was more fire-breathing dragon that evening than the gently big pony I was growing accustomed to. He was jumping flat or flying over the stadium fences, depending on which way we jumped (towards the two mares on the xc course or away from them, ahem). And once on the xc course, he took several flying leaps at one point, making a gallop attempt toward the barn. All in all it wasn't so bad, I got him back under control and, let's face it, it's always good to have those moments where you realize that you really can ride (especially when they occur at home).

Caesar was super chill the day of the competition, much to my surprise. Our dressage test was the best we've had, and though stadium got a little speedy and on the forehand at times, it was good. The first 6 jumps of the xc course were excellent, but I dropped him at fence 7 and he had to scramble over, hitting his back legs on the fence. At that point he seemed to decide that he would make the decisions, and he rushed a bit at the next 4 fences. By the time we came out of fence 11, we were booking it, and I was worried. I was wise to pull him up and circle him in the open space before the last fence (no penalty incurred), and we finished fine. It was an educational ride for sure, but most of all, it was fun (even with the crazy jumping at the end). We ended up 3rd, and I was proud as a peacock!

Two weeks ago I treated Caesar to a massage (Courtney with Hands on Horses is fabulous!); he loved it! He's quite the snark so I was worried there might be some biting involved, but nope. He acted as if he was used to the royal treatment and almost fell asleep a few times! And every day since, he has been so lovely (even more so that usual). I really think he's more comfortable. We did our second horse trial at Loch Moy last Saturday. After a crazy morning (fellow boarder's horse would not load the trailer, reared several times and escaped and had to be chased for 10 minutes), we headed out solo (thanks to fellow boarder and father!). The wind was ridiculous; sandbags were in use everywhere (and horse were spooking right and left), but Caesar was chill as a cucumber. We had a great warm-up for dressage and I was sure we'd do fine, but when I got in the big ring for the last few minutes before my test, I got tense and worried. I love dressage, but I am not so comfortable in the 20mx40m ring with a judge staring at my every move. Despite the loose horse in the ring beside us and the sandbags and the sandstorm, Caesar was a prince. The test was, however, not fit for a prince. I held him tightly much of the time and tried to muscle him into a frame rather than letting him relax; we even had the bell rung on us (the judge saw my 15m circle and gave me the benefit of the doubt...if only it was that I had forgotten). I was bummed about my performance, but so pleased with Caesar! Our stadium round was the best we have had, and xc was a blast. He was so good--incredibly obedient and not at all offended by the little logs we had to jump! I was so pleased I forgave myself for the 47.10 dressage score (ewwwwwwwww...hopefully our lowest, at least for a while).

We had some nice flatwork sessions and got in some jumping last week. I am planning on laying low for a few weeks before doing a dressage schooling show in early June. My plan between now and then is to improve both my dressage and jumping by working on developing a strong lower leg. We'll shoot for 1.5 rides a week without stirrups. As of now, my base of support in jumping is in my knees and thighs, and my base of support in dressage is, sadly, in my hands. I think we need to go back to the basics--lots of stirrupless work, lots of walking hills and conditioning. Our goal for conditioning will be to establish consistency at the trot and develop an actual two-point position at the trot and canter. I need to pick up a training book or two to help guide the way (suggestions welcome!).

Back in the real world, work is going well. I found out that I will be increasing my time at school next year (a good thing) by teaching first grade math (which I am happy to say I am really looking forward to). I am dabbling with the idea of entering a certificate program in jewelry making at MICA...we'll see! And I just finished my final paper for my grad class (yea!). The next few weeks should be low-key. I hope to get in lots of riding, reading, and being outside. And, of course, blogging!

I will post photos and videos soon!

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