Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Be kind to your knees...

...you'll miss them when they're gone."
- Baz Lurhmann, from the song Everybody's Free (to Wear Sunscreen)

Thanksgiving weekend started out sunny and happy and wonderful. Thursday was full of family and food. Friday I had a great jumping lesson where we did a grid gymnastic. After most passes through, the jumps were raised and decorated (flower boxes, etc) to keep adding visual interest for Hemie to look at and adjust to. He was a rock star.

Have a gander:
video

Saturday things went terribly downhill. We had another jumping lesson doing the same exercise. All was going just peachy - Hemie was being great, I was feeling good about my riding, and again the exercise started small with jumps getting increasingly higher and more decorations.

Then it happened. Half-way through the grid Hemie slammed on the brakes, head plunging downward as we ran through a jump, he dodged out to the right and took off across the arena, heading straight for the fence. I fell forward onto his neck, righted my body up but lost my stirrups, and almost was able to get back under control when Hemie made a sharp turn at the fence and I went tumbling off. I hit the ground HARD, rolled into a post, continued rolling under the arena fence, and landed face down and legs tangled in a pile of CONCRETE that is located right. next. to. the. arena. (For no apparent reason).

I thought my left leg was broken. I couldn't move.

I did have my helmet and my xc vest on. After a minute I had enough adrenaline to get up. No bones were poking out, so I got back on to continue the lesson. Hemie had quickly been caught after I fell off, and didn't seem affected.

We approached the (now made small again) grid and had another dodge-out part-way through the grid. Riding very defensively (as one does after a fall) I recovered quickly and halted him, then walked him back into the grid line to go over the final ground pole.  I'll be honest, and this point I was really rattled. And I don't normally get rattled. My heart was racing, my eyes were watering (okay, okay, I was crying), and a small voice inside told me to get off the horse.

We approached it again - and got through it. I was riding so overly defensive that I got left behind on all the jumps, hooked his mouth in the air multiple times, and brought him to a full halt after the grid. But as we continued with the exercise a few more times we got back to a normal feel, where I went with him over the jumps and relaxed my reins.

But soon the pain in my left leg really kicked in and we called it a day. I untacked and headed home. Ice + Aleve + pizza.

The next day I couldn't walk. Both my legs had multiple large bruises. But the kicker was my left knee - it was in so much pain I couldn't extend it straight or bend it 90 degrees. I spent the rest of the weekend lying around, icing my legs, taking pain meds (and drinking wine). Monday I could walk, but with a severe limp. Tuesday was better - stiff after sitting, but then it would "warm up" and be only a small limp. Today was a bit better.

Honestly though, my confidence has been majorly bruised as well.

So Hemie hasn't been ridden since Saturday. He's been getting his turn-outs and feed, but I haven't been well enough even to longe. Tomorrow I'm going to have Laurie do a training ride in lieu of a lesson - I just need to give it a few more days. Ugh.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

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I'm thankful for a trainer and best friend who came with me to meet Bohemian and sign my name on the dotted line. We were a bit crazy for getting him without seeing him outside of his stall. But it worked out all right. =]

I'm thankful for a husband that said yes at the right time, and who wholeheartedly supports the horse habit in every way possible. 

I'm thankful that my horse turned out to be amazing. And cuddly.

I'm thankful he gets along with other horses and enjoys regular time as a herd (well...herd of 2).

I'm thankful for JD, LS, SK, KT, AY, AS, CS, and all the other barn gals for being so generous, kind, friendly, and fabulous all the time.

I'm thankful that God has blessed me with Bohemian and an entire network of loving and supportive friends and family. 

May you have a happy Thanksgiving holiday!


Horse Girl Survey

I LOVE reading other blogs - horse blogs, food/recipe blogs, and keeping up with friends' lives. Two blogs on my reading list have recently posted this survey, and it is so interesting to see how our opinions line up or differ!

Thanks to L. Williams of Viva Carlos and Rinsie of Nanakorobi yaoki!!

Horse Girl Survey

Splurge or save: 

1. saddle: Splurge. At least I'm trying to! I've had it with cheap @$$ saddles!
2. board: Save. This is a recurring expense, so make sure it meets your needs but isn't costing a fortune!
3. halter: Save.
4. bit: Splurge. Makes a world of difference if your horse likes the bit or not. Metals matter.
5. bridle: Save.
6. saddle pad: Save.
7. trailer: Save - just pay someone else to haul!

First thing that comes to mind: 

1. Haflinger:  Looks fuzzy and cute, but can be crazy!
2. Quarter Horse: Brodie - the amazing eventer! Their awesome YouTube video here
3. Thoroughbred: Bohemian - my wonderful horse =)
4. Warmblood: Pixie Dust, Bohemian's girlfriend. Round and sound!
5. Welsh Cob: I fell off a Welsh Cob while in Wales many years ago. Fond memories...

This or That:

1. English or Western: English, but making sure they've got the Western fundamentals.
2. tall or short:  I'm short.  But I look good on tall horses.
3. trail ride or beach ride:  Beach ride.
4. long mane or short mane: Long. Or completely roached.
5. hunters or jumpers: Jumpers. What do those hunter class names even mean?
6. XC or barrel racing: XC. 
7. outdoor arena or indoor arena:  Indoor indoor indoor. Oh wait, we don't really have those in Southern California. I've ridden in them twice in my life.
8. trot or canter: Canter
9. canter or gallop: Gallop
10. paddock boots, tall boots, or cowboy boots: Paddock boots.
11. horse shoes or barefoot: Barefood (that's the goal, at least)
12. saddle or bareback: Bareback. 

About you: 

1. How long have you been riding? 20 years. Since I was 6 years old. 
2. Do you own or lease a horse?  Own.
3. Breed? Age? Height? Name?  Thoroughbred. 7 years. 16-something hands. Bohemian or "Hemie." 
4. Do you have any other pets?  2 dogs - a Schnauzer/Terrier mix and a mini German Shepherd.
5. If your horse was a person, what kind of voice would he have (you can use a celebrity for an example)?  I don't have time to google celebrities to figure out who would match him. Someone easy-going but very athletic. Someone who is no-drama, and wants to be your friend.
6. Does your horse have a “color”? If so, what is it, and what do you have in that color?   Most of my stuff is pink, but that is because (a) its easier for things to not get lost or borrowed, and (b) that was my eventing color on my previous mount (a mare). So for Hemie I'm thinking Black and White or Black and Silver. Thoughts?
7. Does your horse do any tricks?  Working on it. 
8. Have you ever dressed your horse up for Halloween?  No but I really want to...

Favorites: 

1. Breed?  American Saddlebred. But TB is creeping up!
2. Discipline?  Eventing!
3. Coat color?  Liver with flaxen mane and tail.
4. Famous horse?  Skywatch.
5. Horse race/competition?  Rolex.
6. Brand of tack?  Stubben. In my dreams. 
7. Thing to do with your horse?  Learn to event!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Riding in the Rain

Posting via iPhone Blogger for the first time.

Lessons were canceled yesterday due to the rain, but I went out anyway to drop off some feed. It was only a light drizzle, and I decided to tack up and see how the footing on the trail was (arenas were locked). I figured that it was an opportunity to see what Hemie thinks about riding in the rain.

He thinks its exciting. :)

Footing on the trails was okay over all, but the final hill coming down was a bit sloshy. Twice on the trail he tossed his head, so after getting back to the barn I put a rain sheet on him and put him in one of the sand turnouts. In the words of the barn manager, "That was the biggest buck I've ever seen! What a good horse for being a gentleman with you on the trail!"

Indeed. He proceeded to get as dirty as he could. Silly boy.

Hopefully these pictures come out!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Saddle Search

Sprinkler Bandit's comment on a previous post, plus another friend's comments over the last several months, have helped me recognize how much I think my jump saddle just isn't setting me up for success. There's been a small voice in my head, whispering that its time for a new saddle. But the other voice in my head that cares about my checking account promptly puts its hands over my ears and sings la-la-la. Plus for a little while I got self conscious about my riding skills and focused on improving my position.

My position could be improved, sure, but there comes a time when you realize your saddle sure ain't helping. I've been using a lift pad and that has helped somewhat, but ultimately I need a saddle that fits me correctly and helps to put me in proper position. That is the whole point of saddles anyway - improved balance and position as compared to bareback.

So, time to share all your saddle shopping tips, tricks, and preferences for yours truly, please! I'm trying to stick to $1,500 or less, so in terms of new saddles the brands seem to be:

  • Bates
  • Collegiate
  • Ovation
  • HDR/Henri di Rivel
  • Marcel Toulouse
  • Pessoa

Thoughts?


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wherein I eat dirt

6:00 AM lesson today. Yeah. Six. In the morning. Another check in the "eventers are crazy" column.

J.D. in my barn was getting the early lesson in lieu of an evening lesson, and in a moment of desperation I agreed to join. Oh, what a girl will do for some riding instruction!

It was actually quite nice. It was dark when I arrived and we started off with the arena lights on, but it brightened up quite a bit and we got to jump around. Hemie was fabulous. It's been several weeks since we had a jump lesson and he was really happy. We worked mostly on the landings - ensuring we land straight and ride forward after the jump, at the same pace/speed as before the jump (no running off!). Inside the lines we worked on fixing issues soon after the 1st jump rather than at the base of the 2nd jump, and I think we did a good job of that. Issues being speed and crookedness.

Laurie's dog, Zen, was there helping out. She and Hemie are good friends and he does a great job of ignoring her during rides. But today she got a little too zealous in her attempt to "help" - she ran straight in front of us from the side just as we were coming to a gate jump. Hemie jumped over the dog and over the jump, and I came tumbling off on the landing, face down in the dirt, landing mostly on my left forearm. Note to self: eyes up! Even though he jumped crooked, I'm fairly positive that if I had just kept my eyes up and ignored the dog I thought for sure we were about to trample, I may have stayed on. Oh well. I got back on, Hemie recovered well, and we got over the jump successfully, without Zen's assistance. So far I'm not feeling too sore, but we'll see tomorrow...

So according to old folk legend Hemie is now officially mine, as I have fallen off of him 3 times:
1. Back in May, at one of our first lessons.
2. At our First Show in July.
3. This morning.

Woot.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Stretching for Horse and Rider

So lately I've started including some groundwork and stretching exercises into our workouts, to help Hemie figure out the whole "bending" concept. With the help of some cookies, he's actually made huge improvement in bending his neck to each side and downward, as well as how to cross his hind legs better. For some of our stretches, check out the "Top 5 Stretches" from TheHorse.com: http://www.thehorse.com/free-reports/30240/top-5-stretches-for-healthy-horses

Under saddle, the exercises still proving challenging are: maintaining bend while riding a straight line, and maintaining right bend on a circle (especially if adding a pole). Hopefully some of our on-the-ground work will translate into improvement under saddle.



In addition, I've realized that I myself need to stretch as well. The other day after mounting I did some leg lifts while in the saddle and discovered my muscles are quite tight. Luckily there's HorseNation to the rescue. Biz Stamm has posted a few articles on stretches/yoga poses/exercises for riders, and I've been putting them all together into 15 minute sessions each morning. Here's just a small selection of her articles:

http://www.horsenation.com/2012/10/24/fit-to-ride-tack-room-yoga/
http://www.horsenation.com/2012/10/03/fit-to-ride-pis-super-awesome-back-workout-part-ii/
http://www.horsenation.com/2012/09/20/fit-to-ride-pis-super-awesome-back-workout-pt-i/
http://www.horsenation.com/2012/07/11/fit-to-ride-is-that-a-six-pack-under-your-show-coat/
http://www.horsenation.com/2012/06/27/fit-to-ride-your-pre-show-warm-up/
Yep, she's in breeches, doing yoga on a horse blanket.
She is quite thoughtful in her explanations as to why certain stretches are especially good/helpful for riders, which I appreciate. For some reason it is easier to exercise when I think I'm actually improving my riding. =)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dressage Update

Alas, it has been far too long since we've provided a dressage update. It's coming along excellently.

We are doing well with:
  • Halts. 
  • Half-halts.
  • Moving off the leg, forwards.
  • Moving off the leg, sideways (leg yield).
  • Backing up.
  • Straightness.
  • Upward to canter transitions.
  • Staying uphill in the canter when traveling downhill.
  • Cantering slowly and rhythmically.
  • Trotting with impulsion and good tempo.

We are working on:
  • Consistent outside rein connection.
  • Shoulder in.
  • Turn on the haunches.
  • Turn on the forehand.
  • Sitting trot.
  • Free walk.
  • The beginnings of stretchy trot.

We are struggling with:
  • Bend.
  • Balance and self-carriage when cantering tracking right (2nd direction).

Starting a few weeks ago, we've been making dressage lessons a regular part of our training. Basically we get a dressage lesson during a weekday evening, and a jumping lesson on the weekend. I do my best to get at least one (preferably more) practice rides in between lessons to work on what the lesson covered.

Laurie has been traveling due to her Nerium business (www.lauriecanty.nerium.com) so our lesson schedule has been a inconsistent. Right now I'm feeling pretty good about what I'm able to accomplish on my own. Hemie seems to be enjoying it and I am too.

Except for one thing. The darkness. Its a major pain in the you-know-what. We're using a camping lantern in the tack room, and I'm basically grooming him "by feel" in his stall before riding.  Why does California still observe daylight savings time? Oh - because over 25 million acres is farmland (roughly 9% of total land in the state). Okay fine then. But its still annoying.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Christmas Idiocy

It's not even mid-November, and already the consumeristic holiday-themed marketing efforts have started rolling in. And the horse product industry is not above it.

Some of it's entertaining, and some of it makes you wonder how humans have survived this long on the planet.

Crystal Clear Rhinestone Bling Band
http://blingbandsforhelmets.com/
On this past Monday's Horses In The Morning radio show, a product called "BlingBands for Helmets" was featured as a holiday gift for horse people. As indicated by the name, this is a fashion jewelry band that goes around your helmet to add a little bling while you're protecting your noggin. I'm a sucker for all things sparkly, so of course they had me thinking "ooh, I like shiny things, this is a great idea for my Xmas list..."

Until the price tag came up. $30.00 to $50.00. I almost spit my coffee all over my windshield.

My dear readers, I have nothing against entrepreneurs, but does it bother anyone else that products, when specifically marketed to horse-people, magically are overpriced by a factor of 7 as compared to their "non-horsey" counterparts??

Allow me to present a "bling bands for helmets" knock off product for people who actually care about their bank accounts:
Braided Double Headband

That's right. A cute headband. Available at Claire's for under $7.00. Blingy, silver, gold, or exotic like multi-colored Zebra. And you wont cry if you lose or damage it, because it was $7.00 and not $50.00. 

Neon Zebra Print Stretch Headband Set  Beaded Stretch Headband Shiny Beaded Headband











I'm very interested to see what the horse product industry puts out this year for their holiday marketing campaigns. Its starting off quite entertaining!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Shots Suck

Uhg. Got one of those texts earlier today. Hemie has a temperature following yesterday's semi-annual shots, so no riding lesson tonight. Commence over-worrying horse mommy quasi-panic mode!

He didn't have a reaction last time he got shots, so why the fever this time?  I left a message for the vet to find out what he got last time versus this time. If it was a 4+ combo I'll try to get reduced/separated next time. Or do titers. Maybe give some bute the day of shots? Maybe not, since its the horse body's way of fighting off the mini pseudo-infection from the vaccines. I dunno, I just feel so helpless for my Hemiekins.

Sickie poo.
I went out to see him after work, and he did seem a little listless. And his ears were not as forward as normal. I dunno - could just be me "seeing things". But Hemie was not munching his hay, just kinda standing around.

Somehow he still managed to get himself covered in disgusting grimy grossness. Dirty boy. I spent several minutes grooming him in his stall and chatting with my fabulous barnmates. Another horse was getting body clipped so I took Hemie in to get his bridle path buzzed. Seeing Hemie in the light of the barn after my so-called grooming sesh? Uh...not so great. =P

As we stood waiting, I had Hemie do some neck stretches and rewarded him with treats. I've been doing this stretching as part of ground work training a few times now, getting him to figure out how to bend parts of his body, cross his hind legs, etc. Its great to do while he's cooling down after evening rides in the cold weather, so that he doesn't go directly back to munching food in his stall.

Anyway, the cookies seemed to stimulate his appetite, because back in his stall he munched some hay, drank some water. Phew, good sign. I'll do a light hack tomorrow and take it from there.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Galway Downs 3DE with VIDEO!

Fun  (pronounced: /fən/) noun, adjective: Spending a Saturday watching world-class and Olympic level eventers in gorgeous Temecula, California.

The Galway Downs three-day event was truly amazing. This is the 2nd year Jess and I have made the early morning drive down to volunteer at this event, and I think it may need to become an ongoing annual tradition.

After manning the volunteer check-in for about an hour, we got to hang out at watch the CCI* run before our volunteer duties resumed.  This is one of the jumps we had a great view of.

Galway implemented several things to make this event much more spectator friendly than other events:

Me next to a CCI* jump next to the racetrack.
Firstly, they created Oasis stations at various points around the pedestrian walking path that served alcohol and had live bands playing music in between the divisions! Yeah, beer and wine. And music. For the win.

Next, they had a tractor-pulled hay ride driving around the racetrack so that people with mobility issues (or, possibly, inebriation issues) could get toted around to watch lots of the eventing action rather than have to walk. Brilliant!

Thirdly, and most importantly, they reversed the starting schedule from normal, starting with the lower levels early in the morning and saving the higher levels for later in the day. They had the 2* starting at 1pm, then a half-hour live music break, then the 3* at 2:45 or so. There were TONS of spectators, so I think this really did work.


So, what was our volunteer job for the day? Jump-judge the CCI** and CCI*** fences #10. Yeah. It was incredible. Here we are standing in between the 3* (left) and 2* (right).
Photo graciously taken by Amy McCool of McCool Photography.
Note: if you see someone with a huge camera, that is the person to flag down and ask to take a photo of you. She kindly took her time and got several interesting angles. And she's so nice! Yay!
Okay, on to the action. For both the 2* and 3* courses,  jump #10 is just under half-way through each of the courses. Jump #9 was a steeplechase-like jump inside the racetrack, then they come down a good-sized hill to #10. Incredibly, 100% of the riders who made it to jump #10 made it clear - we had not one single refusal, run-out, fall, or anything.

But we did have this (prepare to cringe):
video
That was Mark Grandia aboard Parker, and they finished XC double clear and ended up 6th overall!

Olympian Gina Miles aboard S.V.R. Ron looking pro (XC double-clear, 4th place):
video

On to the 3*, the forerunner after dressage, Michael Pollard aboard Shoensgreen Hanni, makes it look effortless:
video
They ended up 3rd after James Alliston swooped in on not 1 but 2 horses to take 1st and 2nd (and 6th on another). Who would ride 3 separate horses in the 3* division? Another checkmark in the "eventers are crazy" column, please.

But speaking of crazy, even though all of these jumps are amazingly high and huge and wide, they do not *look* quite as large to me as they did last year. These people going around and doing this, some at age 55+, are not seeming quite as crazy to me as they have in the past. And that is how I know that I am ever more sinking into eventer-dom. And I came away with the overpowering desire to do this. To compete.

Saturday night, for the first time in several weeks, I didn't dream about projects at work. I dreamt about eventing. =]

Friday, November 2, 2012

Post Halloween Mish Mosh

My brain has been melting into a puddle of goop. Kinda like a post Halloween sugar crash...only without the candy. 

Halloween was my birthday - the big 26!  It was also my husband's birthday. Also I had to travel for work down to Carlsbad, but very luckily got a ride on the company jet since the big wigs were also going down. 

But since I was traveling with the big wigs, I didn't wear my costume which I had been planning for a year and was specifically work-appropriate. Allow me to present:

Captain Janeway from Star Trek Voyager
Nerd alert! Yes, that's right, I'm a Trekkie. Captain Janeway is my favorite Star Trek captain.

I wore it to dinner with the hubby-kins Halloween night, then fell asleep before I could even think about candy.  =(

Anyway, actual horse-related content coming soon. My amazing horse continues to be fabulous, and we're picking out our final outing of the year - a cross country schooling, location TBD.