Monday, November 28, 2011

Winter = Equitation

Spirit and I have been working hard since coming home from the show. Our lesson schedule has gotten a bit screwed up by the rains, but we're doing fairly good considering, and we are still making progress. The last few lessons in particular have been focusing on me as a rider, rather than on Spirit. My position is improving, and I do feel that I am getting stronger. 

Yesterday we had a fantastic jump lesson, and since we had sunshine and warmth for the first time in a while, I decided to give Spirit a nice soapy bath scrubdown. Of course, even though I put her away with a flake of hay while I went to get some supplies, she took a 30 second break from munching to roll in the shavings. Nice. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ram Tap HT (belated)

Well, I get an F- for blog technical skills while at a show. I tried blogging from my phone and iPad, but not only did my posts not get published - the drafts aren't even saved! It was pretty disheartening. Next time I will have to figure out a better solution.

Show Recap

Day 0 - Trailer, Set Up, and Practice Ride
The long drive up was pretty uneventful. We had loaded the trailer the night before so the morning was pretty easy going. It was just Spirit and Storm heading up for the show, so it was pretty tight and well organized. Once we got up, we got the horses settled and started unloading. Then the door to the trailer's tack room fell off! Somehow the screws came undone during the trail ride! Luckily it happened after we'd parked and got settled, and a quick drive to a hardware store and some man-power took care of it lickety split. Meanwhile we got the horses out to stretch their legs. Spirit and Storm were absolutely PERFECT for their practice ride. Super show horses who knew they were fancy pantsy.  :)

Ram Tap Power Towers
Excited show horse!
Day 1 - Dressage and Stadium
"Do you want to lunge her, Sarah?" Laurie asks me.
"No, she was great yesterday and she doesn't feel fresh at all."
Famous last words.
The warm up was a little...uh...reary. Spirit really felt that we should go UP instead of FORWARD. Hindsight is 20/20, and of course now I see that the first time she got light in front I should have kicked her @$$. Unfortunately, my immediate response was to take her away from the small kids who were warming up next to me (when you're in BN, you're always surrounded by young people). I think that if I had made a stink the first time, there wouldn't have been a second, third, and fourth attempt for her to rear.  Suffice to say that my dressage test was a success because we got through it with no rearing. Well, no, it was actually not bad at all. It wasn't as great as it *could* have been, if Spirit was actually relaxed and willing, and if I was more relaxed too. But we stayed on course and ultimately tied for 12th (out of 17).

Peaceful morning of braiding
Such a lovely mare
Spirit's sister, Ella, doing dressage
A few hours later, Laurie advises me to lunge Spirit before stadium. Somehow she still had plenty of energy to buck out, so I'm glad I did. I'll be honest - I was pretty nervous for stadium. But our warm up went great and I am happy to report that it was a successful round. We made it over the first fence (WOOHOO), got a square refusal at the second, with a clean second approach, and then made it through the rest just fine. We got plenty of penalty points (4 jump + 19 time), but I was glowing after my round, and not just with sweat - with PRIDE. It felt a little fast and a tad disorganized and a bit "git-R-done" in general, but we got through it.

Sleepy Spirit

Thirsty Spirit
 I love having a horse that is calm at shows - she eats and drinks and sleeps just fine away from home.

Day 2 - Cross Country
After a successful stadium round, I was feeling better about XC. I wouldn't say I was feeling confident, per se; optimistic/hopeful is a better description. I lunged even though I probably didn't need to. Half of me knew that it was for my own peace of mind. But tough-toodles - the rider's peace of mind is worth a lot before XC. Warm up was great. Spirit seemed willing and excited. But then her best friend Storm left to go to the start box. That made her a little nervous nilly. Then it was our turn. She was a pro at the box - a little nervous. The kind steward reminded me to breathe. We left the start box, up the hill to our first jump..and we get a stop. Smack, circle, and another refusal. Smack, circle the other direction, and we get over it. 1 jump down, 2 refusals already racked up. We make it over jump #2, then #3...  it feels like we're going too fast, that we're too disorganized, that I'm using 100% of my strength to pull us together just in the nick of time for each jump. We make it into the water with no problem, and somehow I realize we're already over halfway through the course. Jump #16 we get another refusal. #3. Smack, circle, reapproach - and refusal again. #4. The end. But I don't care. I smack her, and circle again, and damn it we get over that darn little chevron!!! The jump judge at the next jump flags me down (just 2 left to finish the course!), so I have to do the walk of eliminated shame. in that moment I feel pretty defeated. I feel like I let Spirit's owners down, and that I failed my goal when I was so close. But we got through 16 of 18. Farther than ever before.
A few nights later, I had my first detail dream. I'd never had this kind of dream before - where you re-live your life in incredible detail. I had it of our XC course. After re-living the course again, I came to the realization that it actually went quite well. I was a supportive rider and Spirit did her job too.

Watching the Prelim XC - with awesome fanny pack!

All in all, I did not achieve my goal for the HT; however, I did get farther than ever before and at the end of the day I feel that it was a positive, fun experience.

Psyching Up!

(Pre-Ram Tap post....don't know why it didn't go up!...Here it is now)

Seriously, if my stirrup leather hadn't broke at the June Shepherd Ranch HT, I feel pretty certain that I would have made it through XC. And if I had the normal rules for stadium rather than one-refusal-and-you're-out, I would have made it through that too. So why am I nervous about not being able to get through the darn competition?!?!? Sheesh, self - get with it!

I've been trying to visualize success and get myself mentally psyched up for a positive and productive weekend. This is a two-day event, so I'll have dressage Saturday morning, stadium Saturday afternoon, then cross-country on Sunday afternoon.

Mental buzzwords to meditate on for each section:
  • Calm
  • Uphill
  • Soft
  • Round
  • Fun

  • Forward
  • Slow
  • Rhythm 
  • Fun

Cross Country
  • Forward
  • Forward
  • Forward
  • Fun
I've been

...And We're Back...

Wow. Over a month since my last post. Well, that's embarrassing.

To be honest, all during my Ram Tap HT show I was updating posts and taking photos and making for some great blogging. All with the wonderful smartphone and tablet devices that separate modern society from slightly less modern society. Unfortunately, somehow none of it got posted, and none of it even got SAVED!!! It was pretty disheartening to loose all that effort. And I'll admit - it made me not bother with posting for a bit.

But I have exited the pity party and I'm back to the real world of Eventing in Color! I do this for fun (though sometimes I need to remind myself of that fact)!