Rachel finally got her head out of her ass

Yes, this title is an exact quote from one of my friends regarding the show this weekend. This show definitely had some low points but O-M-G it has some high points!

I signed up to do both the Primary and Intermediate divisions. Just like the last show, the weather was supposed to monsoon on us so I was super excited about that!

I got drenched while flatting but it cleared up right as I started jumping, YAY! I can’t believe the luck I had with the ring all to myself! Our jumping was good but not spectacular. We had one scary moment on our last line. It was headed home and 2 strides out from the in Winifred grabbed the bit and even though I had a Thor-like grip my reins slipped out of my hands. TS even heard me exclaim….”SHIT!” It was a 5 but Winifred really saw the 4. By the grace of God, he must have felt me flailing up there to get my grip cause at the last second, he added a short stride to make the 5. Whew! Because of this I had a friend ringside the whole weekend with rubber reins in case I needed to switch out. God smiled down though and just gave us overcast weather! Yay!

Saturday my day started with Primary hunters. Our first round was really good. Win was nice and responsive which earned us a second. We only had 3 in our class, so it doesn’t sound impressive, but it was a great hunter round for Win. Our second course was not so great. Winifred decided that he wanted to run through everything. It was going alright until I whoa’ed a little too hard and we got stuck on a half stride. I asked him to take the long spot and he said, “nope.” Luckily, I stayed on and we finished the course, but, crap it was ugly. Intermediates went ok. After my flub on the outside line from Primary, I got a little heavy with my leg asking him to jump the out that I ended up lighting Winifred up a bit. Lol. Looking at the video it doesn’t look as bad as I thought it did. Our 2nd hunter course went eh. I have said it a million times and I will say it a million more, Winifred is NOT a hunter so I am happy with eh.

Sunday, again started with Primary. I had one hunter course and one eq. Our hunter course was ugly with a refusal and honestly, I still don’t understand what happened. I thought we were good then all of the sudden we weren’t. TS said that it looked like he was jumping up, but when he hesitated, I sat back so I would not go over his neck but then he started to jump again. This back and forth ended with us on the other side of the demolished fence. I took a deep breath and finished.

I was super excited about our eq O/F class since there as only 1 straight line. Rollbacks are Winifred’s jam! Too bad he locked on the out and our first rollback was ugly. The rest of the course was alright. Our eq OTF went well and we got 2nd.

For Intermediates, we had a hunter course, eq O/F, and our medal. TS and I decided to scratch the hunter class because we didn’t want him to get back on straight line courses again. Our eq O/F course was the same as our Primary course and all I have to say is “Why, Why, WHY DID NO ONE GET A VIDEO OF THIS COURSE?!?!!?!?!?!?!” Not even slightly joking it was the BEST course Winifred and I have ever done together!!! It was B-U-T-T-E-R!!!! Even TS was excited and said that we would be high in the placings. Much to our surprise, we didn’t even place! TD ended up telling me I got marked down for talking to him on course. For real?!?! I won’t even get year-end points for what was my best round! I thought we would do well in our eq OTF because he was so relaxed. We ended up 5th.

The medal course was even more fun than the eq course. There was not a single straight line!! It was tailormade for Winifred! It went great! Since he was in eq mode he listened to me for direction instead of locking on where he thought we should go. We got a score of 74 which put us 3 points behind 1st. Our test was weird. We lined up in the center of the ring, post trotted out of line to the judge who was standing in a pavilion, she asked us which bit we were using, then sit trot back to the line. I am surprised we didn’t move down in our placing since he did not want to trot to the scary lady! At one point his so straight up in the air that it completely blocked my view of the judge. Lol.

So that was my weekend. We had some not so great moments but the silver lining is that I didn’t let it get to me. I took a deep breath and finished my courses without letting my nerves take over and then transfer down to Winifred. With each course I got more and more confident which translated to 2 of my best courses. Hopefully, I can keep my head out of my ass! LOL

Gawking instead of grazing. Lol
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Happy 2nd Gotcha Day Finnley!!

So this was July 16th but apparently, I never hit publish. Oops!

I can’t believe that it has been 2 years since I drove 5 hours south to go pick up this handsome young man! He has certainly given me a few challenges (and still does!) but the joy he brings me has been immeasurable!

June HR B Show

I know that I have said it before and I will say it again, I am a terrible blogger! It has been since May that I last posted and wow a lot of things have happened since then. I get so busy with life that I forget to sit and write but then I read blogs like HelloMyOlivia and I get inspired. (If you don’t follow her you should! Some might call me a stalker but in my mind she and I are great friends. Lol)

Quick and dirty before I get into details of the real fun stuff of our last show. At last I left you I had a small redemption from my shit-show. Since then we have been progressing in our lessons. I only fell off once (knock on wood!!!!) and it really was not dramatic. It has rained like crazy and our arena was pretty muddy. Winifred is a bit more cautious in the mud, we were doing great on our course came to the last line and he got super soft so I gave a little with my hands and BAM he slammed on the breaks! My history of falling on him has been because I tipped but this time all I did was soften my hands. I came SO close to saving it but in the end I came down, landed on my feet but then my calves cramped and I fell to my knees……..in the mud! Lol.

I then spent 2 weeks in Shanghai and had to miss a couple shows because of it. 😦 He didn’t get ridden much while I was gone so when I came back it took us a minute in our first lesson to get it together but it was mostly me.

Jump forward to last month and we had our first outdoor show. This show didn’t have my divisions but it did have 2’6″ and 2’3″ classes that we planned on going in. The 2’6″ division I was signed up for was open to professionals but I was not in it to win. I just wanted to see how Winifred would be in an outdoor show.

Thursday my TS and I planned on schooling over fences at 7:30pm so I got on to flat around 6:45. We passed the horses coming off the trailer, people unloading tack trunks, and giant white and yellow striped tents fine but OMFG the jumps in the field for Saturday’s derby were legit going to KILL him!! He was so bad that eventually, a friend suggested that I leave because he was getting dangerous. I walked out of the ring and waited for TS to arrive. When she did arrive I got the “wth are you doing on the ground look” until I mentioned the field jumps her face instantly dropped in that “oh yeah” look.

For the first time in my life, I asked my trainer to get on my horse. She agreed but I had to promise to get on him after. He was not happy to have her even get on him and she had to jump from the mounting block. He then would not move down the driveway but she finally got him in the ring and immediately went to a jump. She got him around the course. Her only words of wisdom was that he was nervous but once he is focused on him job he was fine. Our turn to go around and the jumps looked huge (turns out she put them a little bigger than 2’6″). We got around but we did have one moment over an oxer that I fought in my head over my spot. Winifred took over (thank God) and we survived but it was not pretty. I collected myself and we finished. TS was not happy with me that I was being indecisive about my spot so we decided to scratch my morning 2’6″ classes and just do the 2’3″ classes.

Friday we had 2 classes and I will admit that I was nervous. Our first course started on the quarter line headed right towards the field. I honestly was scared that we were going to crash through the fence because his sole focus was on the field jumps. We actually did jump it but then he instantly dived to the left. I circled, came down the outside 4 stride line towards home and he was great, then we did the diagonal headed to the field but the corner without jumps and that went well until we turned to the right and he saw the field jumps again. His entire body tensed. It was insane how different his body felt on the field end of the ring from the entrance end. We finished up but it was not pretty. Second course started on the diagonal towards the field jumps. He was focused on the jump so that was good but again as soon as we landed he dived left to get away from them causing me to have to circle again. We came down the 4 stride again and he was fantastic. He softened and relaxed and then my next move really pissed off TS. I stopped. I knew we were headed right towards the field again on the next line and having him at the entrance end so relaxed I wanted to end it on a good note. TS was NOT happy with me and I got a lecture about getting out of my head.

Saturday we scratched the 2’6″ again and just did the 2’3″ division. This division only had 1 class so I added a warm-up to get in the ring more. TS had offered to take him in a warm-up for me at the end of the day Friday but I told her that I was good. I changed my mind when I realized that on top of the jumps in the field the judge’s truck was now parked out there too because, oh yeah, it was raining! TS did her warm-up and when it was done I looked across to my friends under the tent and all I saw was their eyes wide and one even mouthed “I would not ride him!” To say that he was scary was quite an understatement! This did not calm my nerves. TS left me in the hands of our assistant trainer (AT), I am hoping because we had someone else in another ring but who knows it could have been cause she was that annoyed with me. Lol. I adore both TS and AT so I was not upset at all to be left in AT’s hands and to be honest it may have been the best thing for me. I love TS but sometimes I think I get worked up because I do not want to disappoint her, not that I want to disappoint AT but it is just a different sense. Our first course was to trot along the outside line toward the field then turn and jump the quarter line toward home. He was clearly still very nervous but we turned in a little early to the quarter line. Winifred kind of ran at the fence but I actually let it happen because I saw my spot about 4 strides out at that speed. The rest of our course went really well! I could still feel his muscles tense on the field end but I did my best to stop thinking and feel my horse. I received a lot of laughs from spectators with my multiple very boisterous “GOOD BOY!” as we went around the course. Lol. Even though I was the last one to go I had to come out after my warm-up so I could get a towel to dry my reins and gloves. Our actual class went well. We didn’t place great cause 1. there were two horses in our class that holy-shit-balls even on Winifred’s best day he was not going to beat them in a hunter class and 2. we did the strides down each line except one that he added on. I was doing my best to stay out of my head and I only wanted to have a smooth ride and hit my spots. The only thing I did not want was to drop a stride. Coming down our last line on the diagonal home he got so relaxed that his stride got huge! I realized about 4 strides in we weren’t going to make it to 6 if I didn’t do something and wow did he adjust and we made it! I don’t think my smile could have been bigger as we left the ring!

We got some great pictures from the show. I was close to buying a terrible one that I was close to buying just to document the struggle. Lol. The look on my face is teeth completely gritted, my back is arched, and you can see that I am pulling as hard as I can to turn him, his eyes are wide, neck is cocked, and his mouth is completely open. I do owe a HUGE thank you to TS (sorry I was “me”), AT for taking over and getting me through it, and a very special thank you to my barnmate (and friend) D. Honestly, I am not sure I would have gotten in the ring without her there to keep me as calm as I could be!

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Love the slobber flying from his mouth. Lol
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The rain is not fun to ride in but it makes for pretty pictures. I kind of feel like he is posing for this one. 

Haircuts, horse shoes, and hocks

I know that I haven’t written in a couple of weeks but non-horse life has been a little crazy. Life has been quite stressful but I like to keep this blog on the positive side of life so I don’t tend to post those things. When I get stressed this much I get severe headaches. By the time our lesson came along I had a headache for 2 days straight.

On one positive note, we had our first outside lesson!! Winifred was pretty good to start but once some deer came out he was pretty sure they were going to kill him and that there were more killer deer hiding all around the ring. He really was not that bad but having to work harder made my head pound more and more. The look on my face must have been noticeable cause trainer S (TS) asked if I was ok. I ended up not jumping much because every time we landed my head felt like it was going to explode! We just did the warm-up X and then one line. Between my head splitting and the fact that he was super calm on the line, I called it a day.

Mom, you brought cookies right?!

With big progress made on some work projects and great friends who helped me relax this weekend I am feeling much more like myself! It also helped to give Luther, the fluff ball, a haircut. That may sound like a weird thing to relax me but I have said it before, that horse is my rock and just being near him centers me.

I am working from home all week so I planned on plenty of pony rides! Winifred and I usually ride on Sunday and then he has Monday off but since I clipped Lou on Sunday I decided to change Winifred’s schedule and ride on Monday. Again, yay working from home! Came out Monday all ready to ride Winifred in the beautiful sunshine only to find that Win was missing a shoe 😦 Trainer D (TD) just shook her head and informed me that the farrier left maybe 20 minutes ago! He comes on Mondays and he is usually there when I get there but he came early this week so he finished early. He is not able to come out until next week so looks like Winifred has a week off.

***New contest: let’s see who can write my eulogy since next week I will lesson after he has had a week off. Lol.***

Still trying to remain positive and figured I would just plop around on Luther this week except that he get his hocks done. I thought it was next week but TS reminded me that the vet is coming out this week. So much for plenty of pony rides this week! Oh boys! Lol. Actually super happy that Lou is getting his hocks done this week. He has been pretty stiff lately and he is overdue. He will never go back to jumping courses but he deserves to be comfortable.

Stall rest after hock juice
Lots of grazing this week

Redemption (sort of)

After the catastrophic end of last weekend’s showing my trainer (TS) told me that I would be showing again this weekend. This was not a show that I had planned on doing so it is a little sting to my budget but I agreed with her. This show was a rated show but not with either of the divisions that I am riding in but there was an unrated division called the Suitable Hunter. I honestly have no idea where the name came from but whatever. It was designed for those who are looking to step up from the Beginner division but not quite ready for something too big. In our circuit, the Beginners jump 2’ and no oxers. The Suitable Hunter division does 2’ verticals with 2’3” oxers.  It felt a little silly on my beast to do 2’ but hey after two nasty falls last weekend I will do whatever TS says I need to do to gain confidence back again.

Friday we schooled with a couple of my barn mates who also jump 2’6”. We did the regular warmup single together then TS told me she would finish them then lower the jumps for me. My barn mates finished then TS started to lower the fences. There was a lot going on in the ring and in the clubhouse and my nerves were building. To try to elevate my nerves I was telling myself how stinking small the jumps were but unfortunately TS didn’t understand was I was doing and replied “oh they are not that small. I am only going one hole lower than your norm.” To which my response was, “Damn it TS do you not see that I am trying to calm myself?!?” She laughed then got on board telling me that I could easily just walk over these. Lol.

Schooling went fine. Our first course started with a single on the diagonal then the outside line in 5. We ended up doing a 6. That line heads right at the mounting block where people are sitting and moving in and out of the ring so the first time down it he tends to back off a little. Since we added down that line I tried to add down the next line but Winifred said NOPE and I got caught behind a little. This is better than my tendency lately of tipping forward which gets me tossed so both TS and I were ok with it. Win, on the other hand, wasn’t as happy and played a little off the line which with my nerves meant that I circled before heading to the next line. Thank God TS is so patient with me!

Saturday came and all I had was the warm-up and one OF course. From the moment I got on to warm up, I could tell that Winifred was in a mood. Just great! This got my nerves to maybe an all-time high! Not even joking I was shaking by the time we got into the ring for our warm up. Later Kristen (Stampy and the Brain) told me that she looked at our other barn mate and proclaimed, “she is freaking out!” All in all we survived. Even though the fences were uber small he wanted to run at them but I sat back in an almost unnatural way and we got over everything. Our 2nd round he was up even more but it could not have looked that bad cause we got 1st. There were only 4 of us in the class and I got to see 2 of the other riders. They both did the adds whereas we did the strides. I am guessing that is why we won. There is one from our barn who is on a really nice seasoned horse and the girl is a good rider so if they did the strides I am sure they would have beat us.

Sunday it was like I had a different horse! We had our flat first and it was finally nice enough to warm up outside. I could not believe how calm and hunter-y he was! My friend Casey came out to watch us for the first time and she now thinks that I am lying about him being a psycho-pants. Lol. Casey and I grew up showing together and she has this weird ability to take the hottest hot head and turn them into a deadhead. I think even just being around her calmed him down and now she has to come to every show we ride in! He wasn’t quite as hunter-y in the show ring for our flat but he was a MILLION times better than he was last weekend in the flat. We ended up 2nd which again I was a little surprised with. I thought we would be 3rd or 4th just cause even being a good boy he just doesn’t move like a hunter. TS and I decided to scrap the warm up. He gets worked up the more he does and we tend to use up the good Winifred on the warm-up. He was amazing! I really feel like we earned our blue ribbon in the OF that day. And can we talk about how smart he is to land all of his correct leads?!? Thank you Kristen for the video.

We ended up with the champion ribbon! I am really hoping that I have learned my lesson to sit the hell back! I feel a bit redeemed but for full redemption, I need to complete a show in my divisions without falling off. Lol

As usual, TS was spot on with knowing what I needed to get my confidence back up. It was so heartwarming to have the support of so many of my barn mates.  Not only did I have so many of them there but all three of our trainers were at the ring to watch our rounds. I am so incredibly blessed!

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Such a good pony!

Win or Bruise

Do you want the good news or bad news first?

We had a show this weekend and let me tell you, I was both nervous and excited! My plan this year was to do the intermediate division but for some reason, no one signed up for the intermediate division for Saturday! Rude! Trainers S and D and I decided to do the intermediate classes on Sunday still but to also add in the primary division.

Saturday I had primary Eq OTF, primary U/S, primary warm-up (which was judged), primary hunter, and primary eq) OF. My classes went first thing in the morning with my over fences classes running first. He was SOOOOOOO good!!! Trainer S told me to feel free to add in the warm-up if I wanted but that we have been doing just fine with the strides. The course started on a long approach to a single on the diagonal then a 5 down the outside line headed home. I planned on doing the strides but for the first time ever I didn’t pull on him but got to stride #4 and went shit the 5 is going to be way too long so I had to package him up for the add. The problem with that is that he was ready for the steps on the next 2 lines but for consistency, I had to force him to do the adds. It must not have looked too bad though because we got 1st. The hunter course was a regular hunter course but starting on the other diagonal. Did the strides this time and O-M-G he was SOOOOOO good!! We took 1st again. Last over fences class was our Eq and this judge put together a super fun course! We got 1st in that class too! Wooo-hoooo!!

 

Super fun Eq course!
Super fun eq course!

Got into the flat classes and I lost my good boy. He just is not a fan of flat classes. Without having fences to concentrate on he tends to notice all of the scary things in life. We took 4th in both the U/S and the Eq class. I don’t think that the judge noticed his freak out in the eq class since it happened right below her judge’s observation box area. She did tell me after the show as over that I was one of the top riders until she noticed that we broke into the canter at one point. I am pretty sure if she saw the freak out she would have marked us down even more.

We finished early and would have loved to put him outside but it was pouring. The weather this weekend was awful with massive wind, rain, and freezing temperatures. Booooooo!!!! This meant no turnout and no lunging and all of that equals a psycho Winifred on Sunday!

Sunday I had both intermediate and primary with intermediate going first but not until the end of the day. God, I wish I could have lunged him! We had flat first this time. No one else signed up for intermediate U/S so we just did the eq. Since it was so nasty out we had no riding time before the class started. Winifred turned an bolted away from the clubhouse. The only thing I could think was that there was a guy standing at the window, but really?!?! He made quite a scene but I got him to go a little forward and just cut the ring short each time around. We ended up with a red and I was thankful that it was not an U/S class. His actions though made it clear that jumping was going to be a battle. 😦

He was very very strong and while I was able to handle him for our warmup and intermediate hunter and got 1st in both of those classes. The classes that I was looking forward to the most were intermediate eq OF and intermediate medal. Those are the classes that I was really looking to maybe get year-end awards in. The eq course started with the in of the diagonal, roll back to the out of the outside line, long approach to the diagonal, then to the other outside line. My course started great. My man loves himself some rollbacks! But he was getting stronger and stronger. The first 3 jumps went well although I was starting to fall into old habits and tipped slightly ahead at the long approach diagonal but when I did it again at the 4th jump Winifred said NOPE! I came down on my head and shoulder. But most bruised was my pride. Trainer S let me get back on to do the single diagonal jump but DAMNIT I did it again!! This time I must have really flown cause I flipped and landed flat on my back, which was actually more preferable to the first fall cause it was distributed evenly in my body. But now my confidence was SHOT!!! I admit, I cried. Not from the pain but from questioning whether I am a shitty rider who should not even be doing any of this! Trainer S was great and convinced me that I needed to get back on and complete a jump even if it was just a trot fence. I decided to scratch the rest of my day. Now, I wish I had at least finished the primary division but I needed a little time to come to that and by then the show as over.

I owe a big thank you to both my trainers and my friends for helping to pick me up after this but one of the best conversations that I had was with the judge after the show was over. I think it was the best because she doesn’t know me, she didn’t have to say anything to me but she saught me out in the clubhouse to tell me not only to get back on but that I had a good seat. That is when she told me about seeing him break into the canter and having to mark me down. She also said that she could see that he was not an easy ride but I seemed to handle him well.

Trainer S thinks that we just need to focus on sitting back but also getting a better pre-show routine. The girl who leased him before me used to give him Perfect Prep pellets for a week before the show then a tube of it each show day and lunged him a ton each day. This weekend I just used a tube of Smart Calm Ultra each day. Trainer thinks that Perfect Prep may be a better supplement for him. She also thinks that not having any turnout or lunging played a big negative role in his hyper-ness.

Sitting at the end of the day sharing a beer with my trainers and some other barn family, looking at all my blue ribbons and taking a mortin I realized that I either got 1st or I fell off. We all shared a good laugh when trainer S proclaimed that I don’t Win or Loose, I Win or Bruise!