Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Camden Equestriad - Show Jumping!

So, after a leisurely Sunday morning breakfast with my family, I went and picked up my mum (who wanted to come watch) and headed to the paddock to hook up and take Allie back to Camden.

The weather could not have been any different form the day before - we had a steady drizzle all day long. I was so glad we weren't running cross country on Sunday.

We arrived at about 11am, met up with Deb and a friend Jess (who brought her horse just for the experience of riding around at a show) and set them up in day yards as there weren't a lot of people there, then we went to grab some food and walk the course.

 Well, when we got there, they had started early so we didn't get a chance to walk it. We watched enough riders go through so we knew the course and then grabbed food, then went back to the floats to tack up.

My mum, who is quite a sedentary creature, couldn't believe the amount of walking involved. She was horrified when I told her I had done over 40,000 steps the day before according to my fitbit. I ended up carting a camp chair around for her so she could sit. Haha.

By the time we were headed back over to the jump arena, Linda had turned up, and so had my husband (with my daughter)! He's not particularly supportive of this whole horse showing thing - I've done hardly any competing so he says he "isn't used to it", but I was so surprised and happy to see him there. I sent mum off to go hang with him.

Warm up went well, she knocked down the spread but jumped lovely after that. We warmed up for literally about 7 minutes as they were running so early and were pushing for riders to go.

I watched one more rider go through then it was our turn. Andrew (husband) got some video. Listen out for the cutest little voice at 50 seconds.

We went clear!!! She jumped so perfectly, didn't take any long spots, hardly chipped in too close, she was so nicely forward and into the bridle and in front of the leg that it was so so EASY to ride her!

No photos yet of the SJ (I've been stalking the photographers page but it seems like none of them were interested in taking photos of the 60cm classes!!) but I will add any later if they end up posting them.

It took FOREVER to get final results - I woke up at 3am on Monday morning and checked and they were finally posted. We were 7th after dressage, 15th after cross country, then clawed our way up to 12th after a clear show jumping. 

I'm really pleased with that! Solid effort!

Let's just not mention that if we hadn't had a run out because I can't keep my stupid stirrup that we would have placed 4th. But shhhh. There's always next time.

Up next for us is a xc and sj clinic a few hours away on the 22nd October with Sam Lyle, then we re doing Silver Hills 80cm the weekend after.

We are on a roll now!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Camden Equestriad - Cross Country!!

So after a rest, some food (for both of us) and a drink and a hose down for Allie, we tacked up for cross country. It was getting late in the day and I was quite tired and a little sore in the back but I was nervous-excited to get cross country done and to see how we would go. We were coming 7th after dressage, but I tried not to put pressure on myself.

The warm up was a bit crazy, I walked around the outside with Deb and Fancy until it was their turn to go then just tried to get Allie thinking about what I was asking her. She was VERY VERY keen to get galloping and jumping! The dressage had been held right next to part of the XC course and she had kept trying to go over that way on the walk back to the float, so I knew she was excited! We jumped a few warm up jumps and got cantering around making sure she was in front of my leg (which wasn't hard!) then it was our turn to head up to the start box.

Now, I see horses getting stupid excited about being in the start box and I very much DON'T want Allie to be one of them, so every time I've been in a start box I act all calm like we are just hanging out in there and I spend at least 15 seconds just standing on a loose rein. Same deal today, I was just letting her chill, and didn't gather my reins until the marshall count down to about 3.

Trot then canter out of the start box and we were away! 1 was about 6 strides out of the start and it was an easy low log before hooking a left and going over another log. Then slight right and up a hill to another log (gallop gallop up those hills Allie!) then a sharp right to a table, then canter down down down a hill (lots of half halts, "Allie, please don't fall over!") to a flower box.

Giving it, ah, plenty of air. I am pretty sure I exclaimed "JESUS CHRIST" over this jump.
Left after the flower box, riding around some very weird jumps (a hammer, an axe) to go over a log made to look like a screw driver. She was a bit looky at the other jumps but went over the log fine. A gentle left curve to jump over the ditch (which I was worried about, if you recall. Allie doesn't like ditches as a rule). She was fine and I tried my best to just ride it like any other jump but she positively LEFT over it and I lost my left stirrup. I tried to get it back but it was bouncing and twisting and I didn't have time before the next jump - she was committed so I just grabbed hold of the breastplate and held on over the little table.

After the table I finally got my stirrup back and looked up to see a ski-jump. She had jumped it before at the Hunter Trials at the beginning of the year so I didn't anticipate any issues but she was looky at it was ended up running out to the left (I think because that leg had only just got it's stirrup back so I didn't have the door shut so she took the easy way out). She spazzed out again because she just wanted to take off up the hill and carry on after the run out and I hauled her to a stop to circle around and come at it again. This time, she was still unsure but a couple of whacks and clicks and she was over.

NOW we can gallop up the hill, Allie!

The next jump was another table and another bloody flying leap.

Hooooooooly CRAP! Also, I need to learn to stop clutching at her face. I'm going to get a neck strap for next time.
Up to the top of the hill and then back down again to a small trakehner, which she did awesomely, then a downhill brush (no issues there!!). After the brush I got a little lost at a crossroads and I thought "which way do I go??". I took a chance on left and it was correct, thankfully! Charged down and sat her back a bit to jump over a treasure chest then galloped on to go over the bridge. I really thought she would want to trot over the bridge but nope, she ignored me and charged on over it. So proud!

After the bridge, hook to the left and jump a log pile "Come on Allie, nearly there, let's get this thing DONE") to another table, then a house, then charge on down to the water. She was one of the only horses that actually cantered through the water like it wasn;t there, my sister said.

We call this our "game faces"

Into the water, out of the water, then over the last fence and we were DONE!

Love those beautiful feet! Now, that is a heel first landing!

Final fence goofy grin

"Good mare, good job good job" was because she had a tiny slip just out of the water but was balanced and it was barely noticeable.

Ah man, every time we finish a course I end up laugh-crying. I talk to her THE WHOLE TIME while out on course. I think it's a coping mechanism. Haha.

After this we hung out for a little while but it was so late by the time I left, already dark. Took Allie home and tried to get some rest for showjumping the next day. We dropped to 15th after our run out BUT with only 6 seconds over optimum time so without that run out we would have been right smack bang in the middle of minimum and optimum time, so now I know how fast we actually need to go. It's a far sight faster than I thought!

Stay tuned for showjumping! Did we go clear? Did we have all the rails down? Did she fall over in the warm up? Who knows!!

Monday, 19 September 2016

Camden Equestriad - Dressage!

Ok guys, spoiler alert - my mare is fantastic!

So as I've said we entered the Camden Equestriad newcomers and I got my draw early in the week. It was super civilised with dressage at 3.02pm, XC at 4.45pm on the Saturday and Showjumping at 2.20pm on the Sunday.

I pulled in at 9am on Saturday because I didn't have my sister to help me for the first time ever (she was away for the weekend). I was also worried about parking but I shouldn't have been, there was plenty.

It was a beautiful day!!

Allie seemed much more settled than she had at SIEC a couple of weekends ago, and settled in to eat some of her breakfast while I plaited up. About an hour later I saw Debbi's float pull in and about 20 minutes after that she called me to see where I was - I said I was about to go walk cross country and that I would find her float on the way up there. It was a bit funny because I walked around the float next to me and there was Debbi's float - she had parked about 15 second walk away and we had no idea haha.

Anyway, off we went to walk the course. The footing was AMAZING - we had a little light rain during the week but there was no mud - just beautiful easy footing. The only things on XC that worried me was a ditch (it was tiny, we could walk over it if we wanted) and trying to canter down hill. The course itself was awesome and I was excited to ride it! None of the jumps scared me. Good stuff!

Debbi's dressage was about an hour before mine but I tacked up and walked down there at the same time and just let Allie graze for a good hour or so. I wanted to get on her at about 2pm, but ended up getting on at 1.45 because my lower back was getting sore from standing there!

Looking cute in a borrowed bonnet. Fancy in the background scratching his face on a tree. He's very cute!

Lucky I did go down to dressage warm up so early, because on the way I asked Deb how she thought Fancy would go in the test and she started talking about a stretchy trot and I was like "what stretchy trot?". I had learned the wrong test!

Thank god for smart phones - I downloaded the correct test and spent my time watching my class and reading the test before warming up. Once I hopped on, I concentrated on getting Allie through tot he bridle and relaxed, lots of over bending and nice quiet transitions. She did really well, but I can tell she's due some body work because she is stiff in the left side of her neck and left shoulder so found it hard to over bend to the right.

My other (non-horsey) sister Erin was coming to watch with her family and Allie was feeling really good about half an hour before the test (there was so much room in the warm up that I was able to run through the whole test off to the side and she did great) so I let her walk out on the buckle to go find Erin. We came back to the warm up with 10 minutes to spare and I just tested that she still had her head screwed on before presenting to the judge.

After presenting, Allie had a bit of a spaz out - she was wearing an ear bonnet that Deb had lent to me because there were a trillion flying ants around, but I think something bit her. I did an extra circle up at A and then headed on down the centreline to halt at X.

Erin got video of the test, I'll let it speak for itself.

Here's our paper:

So we got a 66.59%!!! Very happy with my 7 for rider. Not many comments to go from but I know what we need to work on. We have spent the last few weeks getting her really through and forward into the bridle - now to refine that!

Fancy went really well in his test too for a green horse with only 2 weeks prep after a 12 month spell after retiring from racing, Deb is a great rider and really helped him through it.

Back to the float to chill out for a little while, eat some food, then get on with tacking up for cross country!!

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Cross country pics

Bah. My last Post was meant to have xc pics dispersed throughout with hilarious commentary but Blogger stuffed up a d so this is why I have about 6 followers.

Anyway, photodump of the xc pics. :)

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Silver Hills Xc Schooling

“Your life’s course will not be determined by doing the things that you are certain you can do… It will be determined by whether you try the things that are hard” - Sheryl Sandberg

So, on Tuesday, Allie, Andrea, my daughter Evie, my friend Debbi and her horse Fancy and I all went to Silver Hills to school over their cross country course.

Because we have another newcomers (60) this weekend in Camden, I really wanted to get over some bigger intro (80) level jumps, especially the downhill ones, school drops, maybe a ditch or trakehner  if they had one there, and I wanted to get over a couple of big brushes. I have an inkling that there is going to be a big brush downhill at Camden and at my very first hunter trials back in January I rode around it because it was way too intimidating.

Andrea rode first as I had Evie with me so needed to give her some lunch and set up the iPad (plus I didn’t want Andrea to have to push the pram around too much!). She warmed her up and did a few lower logs and a couple of bigger jumps too and did so well! Very proud of them both.

After Andrea and I swapped and I hopped on Allie, we did a few newcomer jumps to get warmed up, then went slowly around the course picking and choosing some jumps to school over, while Debbi did the same with her gelding who had never jumped cross country before. Allie was quite excited to be out jumping again but was NOT as much of a handful as she was at SIEC the other weekend, thank heavens! She was AWESOME to ride and I had a great time!

We schooled over some downhill rolltops that were a bit wide, and we did the big drops in the water complex (that didn’t have any water in it). Then we schooled a downhill ski jump and then did a little mini-course of the ski jump, a large box type rolltop, a large log and a log pile squished between two trees. The last two she FLEW over!

Andrea and I swapped back again and she had another jump while I took Evie for a little walk through the woods to get her little toddler butt moving (as they like to do), then we swapped back and I put the whole intro course together in one hit. Allie was feeling like a superstar by this stage and we even jumped the big white trakehner!! I forgot it had a ditch under it until it was too late but Allie didn’t even look twice, she was on a mission! I whooped and hollered going over it, I was having the time of my life. The brush didn’t cause any issues for us and for the first time ever I was jumping around a cross country course feeling very confident and in control and both myself and Allie were in tune and enjoying every last second of it.

Link to video because I can't get it to embed on mobile.

It was the perfect thing to do the week before a comp. I feel like there isn’t much that will worry me at Camden on Saturday, seeing as I am jumping a level below what we did on Tuesday so confidently. Now, to make sure we don’t bomb the dressage again!

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Sydney Eventing - Cross Country

Going out to walk the course with super-leaser Andrea I realised how wet it was. I had download the virtual course walk and was a bit worried as there was a brush double (brush jumps scare me!), a ditch and a drop on an s-bend, plus a couple of tricky turns that would be worrisome in the wet. I planned my lines and decided that lots of trotting and going over time wouldn't be the end of the world.
We've had two young women die out on xc courses in Australia this year, (at higher levels admittedly) but I couldn't help but think that maybe I might meet a bad end, even though I could jump everything from a trot and nothing was over 60cm.
As luck would have it, Andreas friend came on the course walk with me and she had noticed a sign that had mentioned course changes for my class - they moved the stupid carrot box that had stopped us at the last event from a straight to a right turn (boo) but they had also scratched the ditch from the course (yay!!) so really I only had to worry about the brush and the drop. If it hadn't have been for her I would have been eliminated and gone off course!
In the warmup, I got to school a drop that was bigger than the one on course and I decided I would trot into it with a step or two of walk then canter away. The brush I knew I just had to ride her properly and the pond just needed to be trot into.
The wind had picked up and she was wired for sound during xc warm up. I just rode her through it and gave her something to do other than to spook at shit and by the time I was in the start box she was manageable (but still quite a handful!). There was SO MUCH horse in my hands! Once I got her on the job after the first couple of logs she really got rolling along and I had to really sit up and use my seat to keep her from galloping off. I was terrified but determined.
She kept looking at jump judges and photographers instead of keeping her eye on where she was going so I spoke to her constantly - the people on course must have thought I was nuts. The first half I kept having to grab her attention away from pointless shit and onto the jump ahead.
The brush double was half way through. It went a bit like this, from about 7 strides out:
Als: "I'll just go right around it".
Me: "ahhh, no you won't".
"Ok, I'll just go left then!"
"Nope, not left either"
"Ok well let's stop then"
Als: "holy jeebus ok ok ok I'm JUMPING!!!! WHEEEEEEEEEE!!"
Me: *struggles not to be left behind, gets whip caught in reins*
The second brush two strides after she just jumped on autopilot, thankfully, as I did NOT have my shit together.
After that fiasco she was great! Looked forward to the jumps, was in front of my leg, adjustable, the works. I think she just needed to have a bit of a come-to-jesus moment and she switched on. She even jumped the yummy (stupid!) carrot box really well, giving it heaps of air. Andrea was on course at that jump and they cheered me on, it was awesome to get that little pep in the middle!
She didn't even think about not jumping anything else and was great for the drop and listened going into the water.  The drop was the second last fence and I kept waiting for my "ok this is where I die" moment but when I saw that last fence I said to her "come on Allie, that's the last fence, let's GO!"
Over the last easy log while people cheered and we were DONE! I laughed and hugged Allie and told her what a great mare she was. Natalie was at the end with my niece and I hopped off and hugged them and loosened her girth and we walked back. Allie was barely puffing and was ready to go again! She's an easy horse to get and keep fit. My fitness was really good too, I've been doing a little bit of running and it had helped immensely.
We had gone over time from all the trotting, so I knew we could be close to last with the one rail down and the abysmal dressage. Turns out, we were dead last of 19, but about 8 combinations got eliminated on xc so at least we completed!!
All in all I'm happy with our experience. I got to ride her when she was tricky and a handful instead of her normal easy self and now I know I can handle it.
We have booked our next comp in a couple of weeks time, Equestriad. Goals for that are to have a decent dressage and maybe go a little quicker xc to try to ride to time if possible. I would love to finish on my dressage score too but I've learned that to do that it is much much harder than you think!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Showjumping at SIEC

So, after dressage and the schooling session we had, we had about 40 minutes to chill out before having to get ready for showjumping. While the girls gave Allie a green pick I went and walked the course. We were jumping out of sand, which Allie hasn't done before except for a few little cross rails at the indoor. The sand was absolute slop and quite deep, so I thought she wouldn't enjoy jumping out of it.

The warm up was the same, but it wasn't too busy as they only allowed about 4 horses in at once. I had a bit of a trot and canter around then jumped he warm up cross rail, vertical then a giant oxer someone had put p a few holes. She jumped the oxer really well so I just left her after that to walk around on the buckle until we were called to go down to the course.

I got there and only stood around for 30 seconds before it was my turn. The gate stewards were on point that day!

Anyway, here's my round!

I checked her a little strong before 2 so she ended up trotting into it, three we took a long spot, 6a she jumped a bit close to the base and then we had one rail down at number 7 (the red, white and blue one with sails for wings). She knocked it with her back right foot, jumping close again. Other than that (haha), she jumped quite well! Was nice and calm and on the job, did a lovely flying change after 8. I kept jumping ahead a couple of times but to be honest I hadn't jumped for two weeks which is a bit naughty of me, so I was a little rusty. The jumps at this height are so ridiculously small for her, she barely even tries. She did NOT like the footing so I had to use a bit more leg than usual and clicked quite a bit. She looked a bit fancy with her plaits still in :P

So I was quite pleased with her after the SJ. She got another green pick, had a drink and some hay cubes while we all ate the sandwich platter I made, drank wine, and ate cheese and crackers. My main goal for the day was to have FUN, and during the showjumping I started to achieve that goal.

I took off to walk the cross country course after some food. It was quite wet and sloppy in parts, but altogether was rideable. I was still ridiculously nervous and trying to ignore it.

I'll do a run down of cross country next!

Monday, 5 September 2016

Sydney Eventing - Dressage

Ok so let's break this down into a few posts because I've got a few thoughts and revelations about this latest show.

Just to set this up, I entered this show about a month ago and ive been stressing about it ever since. First was the mouth ulcers, then her eye ulcer. THEN she cut her leg and it blew up a bit (I didn't write about it) the week before the show, but it went down to normal overnight with no bute so PHEW. Then, the week of, on the Monday right before a dressage lesson with Ann, she blew up around her jowls with bloody grass mumphs again. Ffs horse. I rode her in the lesson anyway, and it was a good lesson, and I learned a lot, but it was the last time I rode before the show on Saturday because I got gastro Tues/Wed, then I had to work Thursday, then Friday it absolutely pissed down with rain all day long, hard. Andrea rode on Thursday and said she was difficult and we both agree that she's a bit hormonal right now, seeing as spring has sprung. So yeah. Not the best prep.
Saturday dawned drizzly but with predictions of clearing skies and I wasn't about to scratch just for a bit of rain so off we went. I thought about plaiting up the night before as I had an 8.35am draw for dressage but Allie scratches plaits out if I leave them in so we normally plait up the morning of.

Big mistake.

They looked like a series of man-messy-buns sewn in haphazardly because OMG A TRUCK and JEEZ A FLOAT IS PULLING IN and I WANT TO TURN AROUND AND LOOK AT THAT DOG and you get the picture. She was on edge and would not stand to be plaited. Also, this ate into my warm up time so we ended up with about 20 minutes warm up. Linda came and gave me a mini lesson in the warm up but we had to get down there to do the test.

I've got video of our dressage but I'm not ready to watch it yet. It was absolutely awful. You know when you see a test and the horse is so tense that it won't canter, then it won't trot, and it won't turn, then it won't go forward, and the rider is pony club kicking just to keep it inside the arena and the judge has to talk to the rider after the test to make herself feel better about the abysmal scores she has had to give? Yeah, that was us on Saturday. My normally 60% without trying horse got a 47%. She was that tense and cranky.

I took it well though, I was disappointed but not devastated and Linda was like "you're going straight back up to the warm up and you're RIDING this horse for a while, ok?" So that's what we did. I rode her for about another 30-40 minutes and made her work, Linda coaching every step of the way. Allie was like "fuck you I'm not cantering with a contact thanks" and tried every trick in the book to get out of working. Now, previously, my fitness hasn't been enough to deal with this stuff, and I've never shown her when shes been in season, but on Saturday I was glad that I was fit enough to keep my leg on and stay with her 99% of the time to ride her through it.

So, what have I learned? Plait up earlier at home. Warm up longer. Try to make it a priority to ride her properly the week leading up to the event. Don't be afraid to make her do things with a proper contact. Bend and flex her constantly until she lets go of her rib cage and doesn't blow out through the shoulder or the hip. Keep her straight when going to the right because she tends to overbend and overbend her a little when going to the left because she tends to go too straight.

We had a little time to relax before showjumping at 10.40, and she was much improved patience-wise while standing at the float after our mini lesson. She wanted to eat but wasn't interested in drinking.

Who, me? Nooooooo...
Next up, showjumping!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Sneak peak

Allie and I went eventing today!!

More to come soon!