Another Weekend, Another Adventure

With Zins splint bone injury, our show season got off to a later than expected start. But now that we’ve started, it feels like we are doing something every weekend – I love it! We had Twin mid-April, Fresno end of April and now the first weekend in May gave us a cross country schooling! So many fun times!

I used to live and go to school in Santa Cruz, and since it’s only a 30-40 minute haul to Woodside my old horse & I schooled there a LOT. It was always the place I felt the most comfortable at, but thankfully since then I have branched out more and gone other places! It is funny, I used to think Woodside was SO BIG, but now schooling at other venues I realize their XC course is actually pretty small! Regardless, I still enjoy schooling there and we definitely had a blast last Saturday!

 

Since Woodside is only a little over an hour and a half from where we live, the drive there felt like it went by super fast! I also didn’t have to leave the barn until 8AM (!!!!) so I also got the luxury of “sleeping in”. When I got there, the place was PACKED….it was the last weekend to school before the closing date of their May event and there was also an “A” Hunter/Jumper show there that weekend. As a result, one of my biggest fears came true – I had to back up the truck and trailer into a spot. Oh my god I legitimately had a panic attack, BUT I sucked it up and backed up into the spot after several tries. Honestly, this was the worst thing to happen to me all day so I should consider myself pretty fortunate!

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I was riding with 3 other people in my group, including my trainer on one of his other client’s horses. Woodside has 2 main water complexes, and the four of us headed down to the lower water complex. There were SO many people schooling that day and it was a bit crowded, but we all respected each others space so it worked out nicely. This was my first time being in a “novice” group and there to school all the novice fences and questions. Since I am basically crazy and super over the top OCD, I had spent the entire week before looking up videos of the novice cross country course so I could see the jumps and knew what to expect. Luckily everything was pretty straight forward and inviting and I wasn’t really “worried” about anything. We did struggle pretty hard with one line(discussed below), but overall Zin was SUCH a good girl! She has such a great work ethic and I’m so fortunate I get to ride and work with her every day.

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Zin just being her typical bad a$$ self over this cabin. We approached this downhill and I was kind of nervous, but Zin rocked it!

Zin was overall a really good girl, but we did struggle with two things on course. About half way through the course, there is a 4 stride line with 2 angled cabins. We already struggle a bit with bending lines (it’s a work in progress), so I was curious how it was going to ride. I watched everyone else in my group ride it and it rode GREAT. And then it was my turn – and it did not ride great, ha. I couldn’t keep Zin straight and between my leg and hand, and as a result we kept getting 5 strides with the last stride being very crooked, backwards and chippy. When I get nervous or a bit timid, I tend to just land from the jump and “hang out” for a second. I need to remember there is life after the jump and that we have to land and GO. Once I rode straight and forward, we got the 4 strides no problem – and it left me wondering why I didn’t just ride like that initially!! I’m hoping that by that point on course we will be in a bit more of a flow and rhythm…..and also if I can just sit down and ride forward we will be fine! When in doubt, sit up and add leg!

There were also two jumps where I was REALLY proud of Zin. Jumps with width tend to make me the most nervous and backed off, and there is one really wide table at the end of the course. Well, it’s really wide to me, I’m sure other people think its tiny but to each their own! Anyway Zin jumped it no problem!! I’m pretty sure I landed with a huge smile on my face. On my end, I didn’t really ride it the best and got left a little behind – I wasn’t expecting her to launch over it so easily! The other thing that made me really happy was the down bank. Zin has never had a problem with down banks, but she’s also never been super bold off them either, if that makes sense. She tends to kind of take a peek and then hop off – not really hesitating, but not going super forward either. Anyway, after the red table there is a pretty substantial down bank. I remember thinking wow if I was a horse there’s no way I’d jump off that . Well, good thing Zin is the horse and not me because she just popped right down on problem! It’s funny, the things I get kind of nervous about Zin has no problem with and the things she gets nervous about I really need to do a better job of riding forward to the fence and supporting her with my leg – do show her she CAN do this.


Overall I was so pleased with our schooling and am really looking forward to the event at the end of the month! Oh, I made a video of some clips from our schooling if anyone is interested the link is here: May 2018 Woodside Schooling. I really need to work on my video editing skills, if anyone has a good video editor app, I’d love to hear about it!

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Dressage is Done – Time to Jump! (FCHP Edition)

I want to apologize in advance that I basically have zero pictures from our jumping phases at the Fresno event last weekend. I’ll definitely be purchasing show photos from the show photographer (Marcus Greene Outdoor Photography  ) once they are posted! But for now, I hope only a show recap sans photos will be sufficient. As I mentioned in my last blog post, most divisions, aside from the Novice and Training 3 days, were a 2 day affair.

Show Jumping
Our show jumping round was scheduled for about 3 hours after our dressage test, which was a pleasant surprise – at Twin we had nearly EIGHT HOURS in between rounds! After dressage, I fed Zin lunch and let her hang out in her stall for a bit. I also took about half an hour to just decompress and relax for a minute – it is truly amazing how much work goes into trotting down the centerline. All the prepping, packing and driving … the more I show the more I am getting “used” to this routine, but damn it is a lot of work! Although, so worth it…..seriously, what else would I do with all my free time and money if I didn’t show or even ride horses?!

After taking the time to “chill out”, it was time to go up and walk the show jumping course with my trainer. The course was a lot different than the course I had a Twin 2 weeks ago. While the course at Twin had some turns with lots of straight lines and “related distances” that were 5-8 strides apart, the course at Fresno was full of twists and turns. Fences 1 to 2(oxer) were a bending line left, another long bending line to fence 3(oxer), right long turn to fence 4, bending line to 5(oxer), another right turn to fence 6(oxer) which was an oxer. Then we had one last change of direction to go to our two stride line, left hand turn to go over the last vertical. Honestly the course seemed simple enough to me at the time, but it did prove a bit challenging to ride.

After walking the course, I went back down to the barn to tack Zin up and get ready. We headed up to warm up feeling positive and good – there were quite a few horses in the warm up rings, but Zin handled it like a champ. I’m really, REALLY liking my trainers approach to show warm up. If things are going good, then why push it? We did struggle a bit with staying straight (our constant struggle) in this warm up, but overall Zin was really good. We jumped a slightly larger oxer in warm up and I got Zin in a bit too deep of a distance (i.e: I didn’t ride forward and I picked the whole time!), and she pulled a rail. My trainer had me jump the same oxer in a more forward stride and she cleared it just fine – he said that would be our last warm up jump and we waited for 2 horses to go before our turn. Unfortunately, the horse that was going right before me crashed into fence 3 – never a fun thing to see right before your ride! Luckily horse and rider appeared to be OK; they exited the arena and it was time for Zinnie to go in!

Overall, I felt we had a really positive ride. Fences 1 and 2 rode great, however we did have a bit of a miscommunication on the approach to fence 3. Normally, Zin will drift with her left shoulder, so when I started to lose her right shoulder as we made the left hand turn it was a surprise to me! In hindsight, I shouldn’t have been too surprised as she was drifting her right should back to the in gate. Luckily we had enough room inbetween fences 2 and 3 to get things straightened out, and

once she actually paid attention and saw fence 3 I felt her go ”

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Happy pony & rider after going double clear in stadium

ohhh” and canter boldly towards it. Zin also lost a bit of confidence to fence 6 – I’m honestly still not 100% sure why. I don’t know if she just didn’t lock onto it or if I was spacing out (very likely), but we had a little bobble and chipped in a bit.

Other than our 2 little mistakes, Zin jumped out of her skin and was definitely NOT going to touch any of those rails. We jumped clean with no rails and no time and I was so proud of her! Additionally, we moved up from 12th to 10th after a double clear round. Yay, Zinnie!

Cross Country

Cross country was scheduled for Sunday early afternoon and after walking the course 3 times  I was feeling pretty good about it. We came to Fresno back in November for the last event of the 2017 season and (XC video here) and this course was pretty similar to that one. They removed one jump at the bottom of a hill, and changed the positioning of one jump to create quite a terrain question, but other than that it was very similar. I was so happy that all the fences looked small and it’s so nice to go to a show and not be worried about fence height!

Zin got a nice hand walk and graze around 8AM, and happily munched on her hay for the remainder of the morning. I started grooming, getting dressed and tacking up about an hour before my ride time. I like to have about a half hour in warm up – I find that gives me enough time without over doing it. I remember Zin did feel a bit tired when we were walking up to warm up, but once we got going she perked up and jumped everything nicely. Before I knew it, it was the “2 minute countdown” and time to cross the road to go over to the start box. For me, this is the part where I start to stupidly panic. My brain goes into overdrive and just wont shut up and it’s THE MOST ANNOYING THING EVER. What helps me is just continuously walking in/out and around the startbox taking deep breaths and reminding myself this is supposed to be fun!

Before I knew it we were being told to “GO!” and Zin left the startbox with a nice forward and bold canter stride. She started gaining speed between fences 2 and 3, so I had to give her a couple of sharp half halts to say “uhm hello, we are not going to be a freight train today”, but other than that she was nearly perfect! We had one pretty long gallop stretch between two coupes (fences 6 and 7) and I was able to bridge my reins and let her just cruise along at a nice pace. This was my plan at Twin two weekends before, but since she took off like a bat outta hell for the first half of the course I had to crawl around the second half – this time we established a nice cadence the entire way around the course.

We did have two little “oopsie” moments, one was at fence 9 which was a ditch. You went over this little log and then had about 7 (? I think, I cant remember now!) strides to a ditch. It’s a little weird since she was so brave when we schooled it, but she definitely took a hard look in it before popping herself over. Fences 15 and 16 were  bit tricky due to the terrain – 15 was a cabin downhill to 16, a sharktooth. There was about 2 or 3 strides of flat ground  before fence 16, but I didn’t organize myself in time and we had a pretty big chip into the sharktooth. Luckily the fences are small and Zin is very forgiving and she jumped the last 2 fences beautifully.

I get such a high after cross country……it’s really hard to explain, but I know everyone knows what I mean. I think part of the reason it feels SO “high” is because of all the anxiety I put myself through leading up to that moment. That being said I’m working on ways to reduce anxiety because it would be AWESOME to just go to a horse show and you know…..like …..have FUN the whole time instead of being anxious for 50% of it. I will say though that I used to be a nervous wreck almost 100% of the time, so things are going in the right direction 🙂

Zin went double clear on cross country and we moved up to SIXTH PLACE!!! I mean green isn’t my favorite color, but I was so happy and so proud of her.  All three phases have improved so much with our new trainer and I’m really hopeful for what the future holds for us. Next stop -The Spring Event at Woodside on May 24- 27th. I’m really hopeful I will be able to get more photos and video this time around!

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Fence 5 on cross country at Fresno – don’t you just love the construction in the background?!

 

Dressage Days at Fresno County Horse Park

So another weekend has passed and Zin & I have our second horse show of the season finished. I actually don’t feel as tired as I did last time and I’m wondering if I’m going to be paying for it tomorrow or in the next few days! This time we visited Fresno County Horse Park to compete once again in Sr. Beginner Novice Rider. Our division was a two day again, so we did dressage and stadium on Saturday, followed by cross country Sunday. Fresno is about a 4.5 hour haul from our home, so I got up bright and early to be on the road by 5AM on Friday. We easily could have left later, but traffic in this area is awful and I decided getting up early was better than sitting in traffic and turning our 4.5 hour haul into a 6+ hour haul

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Crazy early wake up call to leave for Fresno…….#eventerproblems

The drive there was relatively uneventful, but damn those last 30 or so miles feel like they are NEVER GOING TO END!!! You just feel like you are going to be driving forever. I used to be really afraid of hauling alone, but I put on my big girl pants this year and just did it. I bring my dog with me and listen to a book on tape and it really isn’t that bad. By the way, if anyone has any good book recommendations feel free to leave it in the comments below – I am always on the look out for a good book to listen to during these longer hauls.

We got to Fresno around 930AM on Friday and Zin hauled great. I remember when I took her home from the track I asked the trainer how she hauled. He didn’t really give me a straight answer so I thought, “GREAT she’s probably going to try to kick her way out of the trailer”. But in the past 2 years we have only had one incident (when she was standing in an un-moving trailer) so I’m really happy with the way she travels – she eats and drinks right after getting out, too – which is awesome! After getting there we got everything set up and Whiskey (my dog) and Zin were all settled in. We decided to get a tack stall this time around, since things got kind of messy at Twin. And with 3 horses it wasn’t too expensive to split the tack stall fee. Let me just say – my trainer has QUITE the set up for tack stalls! They have hanging shelves, hanging saddle racks, shelves that go up against the wall – I should have taken a picture, but of course didn’t think about it at the time. I was actually really bad about taking pictures this weekend, and now I’m regretting it!

I gave Zin a light lunge, just so she could stretch her legs and get any excess energy out.

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Zin thinks she earned herself a beer after how good she was …. little does she know, she is supposed to like wine!

This is something I didn’t do at Twin and I think it would have helped her relax a lot. She had about a 30 minute break after her lunge before it was time to tack up and walk up to the arenas. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the stabling area at Fresno is about a 10-ish minute walk to warm up. It’s kind of nice for a nice little warm up hack, but the path is deceptively long and I always feel like it takes longer than I plan for. Speaking of planning, after Twin I had a few items to add to my “horse show spreadsheet” and I am happy to say that this weekend I brought chapstick and a visor….and as a result I don’t have horribly chapped, flaky and sunburnt lips AND I didn’t get burned on my face! Yay! Anyway, back to our ride on Friday, Zin was seriously amazing. So light and soft in the bridle and relaxed over her topline. Both my trainer and myself were very happy with her, so we only rode for about 20 minutes before putting her away. My new trainer and I seem to both be of the mindset that “less is more” and I LOVE it. With dressage and Zin, she is really good up to the point she isn’t. At shows, we need to time it in such a way that we quit before she gets really naughty. This warm up day was 100% better than Twin, and I walked back to the stabling area on a loose rein with a happy and relaxed horse.

We also walked the course on Friday evening, and I am happy to report that once again everything looked small to me! I used to go to shows and everything looked WAY bigger than what I felt like we jumped at home. My trainer is really good about pushing us at home and jumping bigger things, and that way when we are at an event our level looks small (what a concept, right?!). The theme of the course was sticking to the basics – riding forward, in a rhythm while staying straight and looking up. I think the “hardest” part of the course were fences 15 and 16. Fence 15 was a black and orange cabin thing downhill to 16 which was a shark tooth fence. The downhill was a decent incline, but you had about 2-3 strides of flat ground before you jumped 16. I felt it was challenging, but fair and was overall really happy with the course. I’m still debating whether or not I’m going to get my Ride On Video’s , but if I do I’ll edit this blog with the link to the videos so you guys can see what the XC course looked like.

Inevitably, Saturday morning rolled around and it was time to get ready for dressage. I had braided and cleaned all of my tack Friday afternoon/evening, so I had a pretty stress free morning. I lunged Zin a bit just to get her moving (again, new strategy after learning what I did at Twin did NOT work). When I say I lunged Zin, I didn’t whip her and run her into the ground to get all of her energy out (not that you could run her out of energy), but instead I just let her trot and canter around and basically take the edge off. After tacking up, we headed up to dressage warm up at 11AM (our test was at 11:37). We walked around on bunch on a loose rein, did some stretchy trot work and cantered a bit, all on a connected but “stretchy” type rein. After walking a bit more, my trainer came up and we were ready to warm up. We worked a LOT on keeping her topline relaxed and managed to accomplish this by asking her to stretch down and seek the contact. Then, while keeping her back relaxed, slowly shorten the contact and ask her to come up. She did protest a bit to this, but overall was literally five hundred thousand percent better than she was in warm up for me two weeks ago. My trainer and I both agreed that next time, we should cut the dressage warm up even shorter. I know, I know, it sounds CRAZY but I’m learning that for dressage the less I do the better.

At 11:37 on the dot (I love when shows run on time!) Zin and I were trotting around the dressage court. We did a couple transitions to the walk, and I tried to keep her relaxed yet on the aids – which, by the way, is not an easy task! A cow bell rang, which signaled to me that it was time for us to begin our test. I took a deep breath, gave Zin a little scratch on neck and told myself to just relax and ride my best. We entered at A, already much more relaxed than our test 2 weekends ago. I rode the best I could and overall was really happy with my test. We struggled in places we have historically struggled – canter transitions, going from free walk to medium walk and then also keeping the medium walk (with no jigging!) before the trot transition. However, even though we did still struggle with these movements, I feel she was more rideable than she has been in the past. Also, another thing we need to work on is finishing our movements. For example, Zin had some of the best canter work she has given me in a test – soft, supple and relaxed …. until she wasn’t. So instead of getting a 7, we got a 6 and 6.5 with a comment of “above bit at end”……if I can just ride the entire movement, I know our scores will go up.

Overall, though, I was so pleased with her. As a whole, it was the most relaxed and ride-able I have felt her in the dressage court. I definitely need to go to some more local dressage schooling shows, just to get more comfortable riding in front of a judge. It felt like it took forever, but our scores were finally posted and we got a 41.9 to sit in 12th place out of 15 competitors. We didn’t break into the 30s this time around, but there was so much improvement and I definitely had a lot to be happy with! With the help of my new trainer, I know we will break into the 30s eventually, but until then I am happy with the path we are on! I need to keep remember that if it were easy, everyone would do it :).

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Zinnie and I are all smiles after dressage! And I LOVE my custom made wine stock tie from StockBubble

Come back and visit tomorrow to find out how our stadium and cross country went! 😀

It’s Not a Dressage Show

So my first horse show of the season was over a week ago, and I am STILL tired. Is this what being an adult is like? Being in a constant state of exhaustion?! I don’t know, maybe because it’s Monday I’m just exceptionally tired. Anyway, I had meant to write this post basically the day after the event (lofty goals, I know), yet here we are a week later and I am just now getting to it. I also wasn’t sure if I wanted to write a blog post per phase or just combine it all into one. I’ve decided to combine it all into one this time, we have another event coming up this weekend (because I am crazy and like to spend all my $$ and also never sleep) so I might format it differently next time. Anyway, without further adieu, lets get into it!

So our first event of the season took place at Twin Rivers in Paso Robles, April 13-16th. It was an international event, so it was pretty big with a lot of horses and as a result the beginner novice division got condensed into two days. At first I was kind of bummed, but then I think it worked out really well – I was done by Saturday morning and could relax the rest of the day and leave first thing Sunday morning. We got to Twin Thursday afternoon and I had plans to have a ride on Zin and then walk the XC course shortly after.

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I need to really work on my braiding skills!

For my ride on Thursday, it was basically like hurricane level winds. Am I being dramatic? Probably. But the wind was INSANE – I could hardly hear my coach talking to me from 5 feet away. Zin is normally not a spooky horse, but she does get tense and tight and that is what I was working with on Thursday. We had about a 45 minute coaching session, and just came to the conclusion that she would likely never be relaxed, soft and supple so just quit while we were ahead. We walked our cross country course (I’ll have more on that and pictures below) and for the first time there wasn’t a single jump on course where I thought “oh man, that looks big” or “are we sure this is BN?”. I think it’s because 1) I’m getting more confident in Zin and her ability and 2) when we schooled Twin earlier in the month my trainer let us do some novice fences. They did change the course slightly from when we schooled, and they added a ditch at BN, but still nothing that looked too worrisome. I braided her that evening and luckily she kept her braids in tact for the next morning!

 

On Friday morning we had our dressage test scheduled for 9:30AM and then cross country at 4:52. My trainer and I discussed the best way to warm up for dressage – either get on and give her a nice long hack in the early morning (like 6AM) and then get on about 30 minutes before my test OR have a longer warm up with my trainer, like for about 45 minutes. I was staying off site (for the first time and it’s

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One of our better dressage moments

probably not something I would do again) and decided to just go with the longer warm up ride. Well, let me tell you – that was a mistake. From the second I sat on Zins back I knew it was going to be one of “those” days, and oh boy was it. She was tense and tight and then I was tense and tight and it just spiraled out of control. The warm up rings were incredibly chaotic, and while we had some nice moments she still remained tense and tight. As we started trotting around the dressage court, I felt like she practically turned feral – not only was she tense, but now her head shot up as she looked around literally everywhere. I remember thinking “Okay, well this will be fun”. Spoiler alert – it was not fun! We managed to somehow scrape through the dressage test. I mean, it was a little disappointing considering how much we have worked on our dressage the last several months. Oh well, at least I got a number and got to continue on to cross country! And now have a better plan for what do do at the next event :).

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Canter work – and our test is almost over at this point!

There was a large chunk of time in between my dressage test and cross country, and I used the time to just mentally recover from my dressage test and begin preparing for cross country. After taking care of Zin, I went out and walked the course again. I had grand plans to take photos of every single jump so I could post them on my blog. Well considering I have the attention span of a fruit fly, that didn’t happen. I did take some photos though, so I hope between the pictures and the description you can kind of piece the course together. Oh! I also got my RideOn video for cross country, so if anyone is interested in seeing how it rode you can check it out here. As I mentioned earlier, I was feeling pretty confident about cross country….which actually did stress me out a little bit, because that’s just the way my mind works. If I’m not worried, I stress out about not being worried …. *sigh*.


After relaxing for a bit and watching some of the upper levels do stadium, it was time to tack up and get on! I was still recovering some nasty stomach bug I had gotten earlier in the week (the joys of having a toddler – you get sick all the time!) and was feeling tired and drained. Luckily for me Zin was freaking ON IT in our XC warm up – nailing distances and jumping forward out of a rhythm. I told my trainer I think less is more, so after jumping a handful of things we decided to call it quits and just wait until my number was called. A couple minutes later it was my turn to go over to the start box. I must have looked uneasy (I also suffer from RBF, so it could have been that too) and the volunteer at the box told me I needed to smile. And you know what? He was right – we spend too much time and money and exhaust every bit of ourselves into this sport, the least I could do is go out there and have fun. And oh what fun it was!!

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Fence 3, a little cabin

It was seriously THE MOST FUN I’ve ever had on cross country. Zin was jumping everything so nicely and I was really happy with her. Until I realized – oh CRAP we are going WAY too fast! They metered the course at 2000m (although when we metered it twice it came in at about 1900) and optimum time for our group was posted at 6:10! I realized I REALLY needed to slow down when we were near our 3rd minute marker and my watch beeped for 2 minutes. Oopsies! It took some work, but luckily after a few half halts I got her to slow down. It felt like we were crawling the entire second half of the course, but that was fine. They put in some new ditches and towards the end of the course we had a brush fence bending line to a ditch that I felt rode really well. We came in at 4:51 (speed fault time was 4:46) and moved up from 15th (last) to 12th place, wahoo!

Saturday morning was the final morning of our event and I had stadium starting at 9AM in the reverse order of go. Since I was in 12th out of 15, I rode pretty close to 9AM. I walked the stadium course once with my coach and then once afterwards on my own. One of my biggest fears at shows has been having an oxer as my first course on stadium. So naturally, an oxer was the first jump on our stadium course. But as it turns out, I actually wasn’t nervous about it! It was on the smaller side of BN anyway and on top of it we have been schooling a bit higher at home – so nearly everything on the stadium course looked small. It is SUCH a nice feeling to walk your courses and think “oh I can do that”! The course was pretty straight forward – an oxer to a 8 strided line, then another 8 strided line, then a 6 stride line which had a bending line to a little vertical and another bending line to finish with a 2 stride (I have video of it here  for anyone interested). And you know what? We went around clear!!! It was the first time Zin and I finished on our dressage score and I was so freaking proud of us.

After stadium I went and cooled Zin off, un-tacked and gave her a linment bath. She got a little hand walk/graze before I put her back into her stall and had a beer. Yep, that’s right – I had a beer at 1030AM on a Saturday, but I think I earned it! I had a barn mate in my division in the top 4 and so I went online to look at the scores to see how she had done. The scores were all posted and – WHAT?! I finished in 7th place?! My first ribbon at BN and I missed the damn ribbon ceremony! I was so annoyed with myself for not sticking around, but I really did not think that Zin and I would move up from 12th place to 7th place when only stadium was left over. It just goes to show that, even at the lower levels, these things aren’t a dressage show and you have to be able to go out and execute in all three phases. That being said, I am still working my a$$ off in the sandbox and hope that all of our hard work pays off for event at Fresno this coming weekend.

In other exciting news, if all goes well this weekend, we will be moving up to novice at the Woodside event at the end of May. Part of me just thought I might do BN for the rest of my life, but I might as well try it out and see how it goes! I figure that I want to go out and do as much as I can while I am sound, my horse is sound (she is VERY injury prone!! *knocks ferociously on wood*), and I have the financial ability to do so. Those three things do not always align, so I need to take advantage of it while I can.

 

 

 

Show Prep!

So in my normal day to day life, I will admit that I am not the most organized person. I mean I am organized, but messy organized – you know…..where everything in your house looks to be in a state of chaos, yet I can tell you exactly where my travel coffee cup is – it’s on the bed stand behind my lamp, of course. It looks cluttered to everyone else but it is your version of organized. Anyway, with horse shows I am like OCD level organized. Well, at least I think of it as being that organized, others might still think I’m chaotic :).

I have this “Horse Show Check List” template I created in Excel last season and I think it is a life saver. I have found that not having a schedule at shows makes me incredibly nervous and makes my anxiety go through the roof. I remember last year at an event I had all this down time and was stressing out about not DOING something. Now I schedule “relax for 30 minutes” so I know it’s OK to do and I can still be on time. Yes, I am crazy. LOL. Some of the stuff is checked off because it’s already been packed – my family is bringing their motor home so I packed stuff some items I know I won’t need between now and the show, for example: my cross country vest and show clothes. I did need to add a lot of “ad hoc” type items – I’m bringing my 16 month old daughter so I needed a list for her, I have to pick up my mom on the way down to the show so I needed to schedule that in … anyway, basically it just looks a bit messier than it normally does. BUT! I feel so much better having it done and I don’t have to be thinking 24/7 about what I need to bring -I just glance at the paper!

 

Zin also got her mane pulled and a bath on Sunday. I don’t have any other time to give her a bath this week before we go, so while Sunday isn’t ideal time to give her a bath I figured it was better than not giving her one! She usually stays pretty clean, so I’m hoping I’ll just have to touch up grooming when we get there. Although now that I say this, watch her go roll in the biggest manure pile she can find in her pasture. That would be my luck. As far as additional show prep goes, we have a lessons Monday-Wednesday and then head down to Paso Robles Thursday morning. I plan to clean all of my tack Thursday after our ride. We will also walk our XC course Thursday – when ride times got posted I found out the beginner novice division is doing dressage Friday morning and then cross country late Friday afternoon! We will do our stadium round on Saturday and be done by 10AM Saturday. I do have family coming down and we’ve already planned to stay until Sunday, so I think we will still stick around when Zin is done with her event. I think I will sign up for some XC jump judging – I can always learn a lot watching others ride, and earning credits towards schoolings or shows is always a plus too!

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Zinnies getting her “purple shampoo treatment”. We need to be blindingly white!

And speaking of show prep, one of my FAVORITE grooming products for Zin is the “QuicSilver” shampoo – it’s a purple shampoo and holy smokes does it get white REALLY white! Zin has 3 white socks and a white stripe on her face and when we trot down that centerline I want that blaze to be blindingly white to the judge (maybe if I get it bright enough they will be distracted from my lack of dressage skillz?! LOL). I like to give her a bath all over with our normal shampoo, then rewash the white legs and blaze with the purple shampoo. I will likely wash all the white parts again early on Friday morning before our dressage test.

 

 

 

Oh! A random side note – it was Zins birthday yesterday (April 8th)! She turned 6 years old …. I told her that meant she’s basically and adult now and we can’t use the “I got a 40 in dressage because I’m riding a baby horse” excuse anymore :). We had a relaxing hack around the property and then she spent the afternoon getting the spa treatment and lots of time grazing.

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Happy birthday to the Princess!!! 

Dressage Skillz

So as a disclaimer, dressage skillz are not something I currently have, or will likely have any time soon. As a side note, though, if you haven’t already listened to it Evention does a hilarious song called “Dressage Skillz” and I highly recommend listening to it and watching the video if you’re ever feeling down about your flat work.

I used to dread my dressage lessons. Seriously D R E A D them, especially since they were always at the end of my 8 + hour work day – my brain was fried and the last thing I wanted to do was having to use my brain even more during a dressage lesson. I know I’m not alone in this, but dressage does not come naturally to me. It requires a lot of active thinking on my part, and things weren’t “clicking” for me and Zin for quite some time. I was either bending too much and losing the outside shoulder, or not bending enough, or not having her hind end engaged enough ….. there was either too much impulsion or not enough impulsion and regardless of what I was doing she was rarely ever round. And things just went even MORE out the window when we entered the dressage court. I mean I don’t know what I was expecting, I have SO much to learn when it comes to dressage and Zin came fresh off the track so it was really like the blind leading the blind, even with the help of a trainer. We definitely improved, but were consistently scoring in the 40s in the three events we did last year – one in September, October and November.

Then Zin got injured in December (explained in “Revenge of The Splint“), we moved to a new barn in January and I basically didn’t think about dressage again until March. I’m not sure if it was the change of scenery or some time off or what,

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We are finally learning about connection

but I came back into lessons feeling refreshed and energized. All of a sudden I was no longer dreading dressage lessons, but actually kind of almost looking forward to them – almost, ha ha. All of a sudden things just have started to “click” for us and I couldn’t be happier about it! Zin is finally reaching into the contact and I am finally maintaining contact and giving her something to reach into – imagine that! It sounds so basic, and it is, but it’s amazing how much things start improving when you have a consistent connection with your horses mouth. Oh! And I’ve also been remembering I have elbows! It was one of my 2018 goals, so I’m happy that my elbows now have bend at least 50% of the time, instead of being locked 100% of the time!

I put together a video of some of our dressage clips from a lesson we had about 2 weeks ago (I’m slow making videos, apparently). There is obviously SO much to improve on, but

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I love dressage lessons that involve cavaletti

it’s definitely a step in the right direction from our first BN dressage test in October.

VIDEO CLIP: Dressage Lesson – March 23rd 

We are going to Twin Rivers next weekend and I’m actually really excited to ride the new 2018 Beginner Novice dressage test. I LOVE that they eliminated the 10 meter half circle turns onto the center line and I’m also thrilled that we have time to develop a medium walk instead of having to be “medium walking” AT a certain letter. I’m also really  excited because I have a NEW stock tie that I got from  StockBubble  – they custom make beautiful stock ties, if you are in the market for one I highly recommend checking her out! Our new stock tie is a beautiful cream color with wine glasses on it – can you tell I like wine? 🙂

As always, if you’re still following our journey, thank you for reading!

I Have a Hangover

Okay, well I don’t have a real hangover – at least not today anyway. But the “post show” or “post XC school” hangover is definitely a REAL thing. I got back from Twin Rivers Sunday evening and am STILL tired today….and it’s now Tuesday. Honestly, I’m not really sure how I survived my work day Monday, I know I definitely wasn’t pleasant to be around. But despite this “hangover”, my trip to Twin Rivers this weekend was SO worth it.

For those of you who don’t know, I am an incredibly anxious person. It’s just something I’ve learned to live with. I’ve also recently purchased a vehicle capable of towing and have access to a trailer to borrow and as a result have been towing Zin more places on my own. I’ve never been to Twin Rivers before and was literally getting frantic about the drive down there. Luckily, it was a BEAUTIFUL drive and I’m slowly getting more comfortable hauling alone. From my location (about an hour or so north of San Francisco) Twin Rivers is about 20 miles further from me than Fresno, but the drive there seemed to go way quicker than the Fresno drive. It had also been raining the entire week before hand, which contributed to my driving anxiety, but we really lucked out with the weather. Aside from a few little sprinkles on Saturday, it was a beautiful weekend.

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The novice roll top in warm up – looks so much smaller in this picture than it did in my brain!

The cross country course at Twin is kind of broken up into the “lower” and “upper” fields. Due to the rain, the bottom field was closed Saturday – so we played around at the top on Saturday and utilized the entire course on Saturday and Sunday. Each day, we started out in a “cross country warm up” looking arena – it had different levels of XC jumps as well as some stadium fences to warm up over. They had an itty bitty log (my guess is for intro levels), a BN height log and a novice roll top which I didn’t pay much attention to, as I didn’t think we would be jumping it (ha ha hahahaha). I rode in a group with 2 other people as well as my trainer riding a clients horse and we worked on straightness, riding forward and maintain and rhythm. We were almost done warming up when my trainer told us (one at a time) to jump a vertical, turn right to jump the BN log then turn left and jump the novice roll top – essentially we were making a big S. I was not expecting to jump that novice roll top and I could immediately feel the butterflies start churning in my stomach. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE eventing and LOVE cross country, but can be a bit of a chicken $h!t. Anyway I put on my “grown up” pants and went and did what I was told and everything rode great! I may or may not have made a tiny little scream after jumping it for the first time ….

Once out on the cross country course, we worked on the same things – rhythm, balance and straightness. When I get nervous I tend to hang on my reins and my seat freezes up and I just start riding backwards. Luckily for me, Zin is incredibly bold and carts my butt over the jump even when I ride like a clam. This weekend I really had to work on riding FORWARD all the way to and over the jump …. I had to remember that there is life after the jump and things don’t stop just because you made it over the jump! We also got to put together a little mini course, and I LOVE that my trainer does that. So many times before this I would school cross country one fence at a time so you never really get into a good flow. Riding half the cross country course does two things for me – 1) It builds my confidence in myself and I think I’ll feel much better come show day and 2) It’s really helpful to feel how the course flows and how to jump things out of stride and plus it’s also just so much fun to go “galloping” around and jump things!
Our second day there we got to play in the bottom part of the XC course, which looks like

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The BN “triangle thing” – what is this jump called?!

it will be the first half of the course at the event. It was nice to leave the start-box and go jump the first jump on course – for somebody who gets anxious about everything, I like knowing I can do it during the show because I’ve already done it! One of my favorite lines we rode on Sunday was this black/red novice cabin, through the water, out over a novice triangle thing (I have no idea what  these are called! It’s in the photo below, if anybody wants to tell me the name of this fence 🙂 ), an angled line to the BN triangle thing. It rode really well and was a ton of fun AND it just gives me a really big confidence boost knowing we are capable of jumping things bigger than what we are showing at. I know this is probably standard practice for most people, but it hadn’t been for me up until this point. We also got to play with ditches on Sunday. Zin (probably more me than her!) has had a bit of an issue at ditches since we did at school in Woodside last year (we even made it on #FailFriday, ha). But she couldn’t have been any more brave on this day! Hopefully we have put our ditch issue behind us!

VIDEO CLIP: Twin Rivers Cross Country – March 2018

Overall, I had so much fun this weekend and I am so proud of Zin. She is really turning into quite an event horse and I am loving how much she loves cross country. For those of you who are interested, I put together a little video of some of the clips of us from this weekend. We are feeling confident, ready and super excited for our first event of the season at Twin in April.

As always, thank you for reading!