Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2k14: A Review

It's about that time of year when we start to turn over a new leaf but only after looking back over things one more time.

It was a big year. I did a lot, and I came a long way, and I learned a heck of a lot of things. The medal was probably the big ticket item. Some part of me wishes that I hadn't done it because the finals were terrible, but you can't change the past, and I'm excited to do it again next year.


I'm also glad that I was able to have lessons with Miss El, and I'm super glad that I have the new boarder to help me further that knowledge.

Ah, yes, stretchy stretchy
Not to mention, joining IEA is undoubtedly one of the best decisions that I have ever made. There has been such a huge change in my riding. It's unbelievable.


Now for the real review, the goals/bucketlist checkoff:

✔Achieve acceptable flat and over fences equitation
Yes, this was actually achieved, but only after slumping through the summer.

✔Get champion in one division
That reserve champion in Low Hunter counts

✔Jump a little bit higher (like, 3", that's all I ask)
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.


Get Baby more responsive to seat and leg
She's got the seat thing. We're still working on the leg thing.

✔Ride Molly confidently
I'm not terrified to trot her anymore, and I can actually stay on when I canter her. That's a big step forward.

Break the fashion meter
Eh, I was fairly conservative this year. I'm an eq rider. It's hard to be fun.

No falls (oh, this will be a challenge)
Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha, no.

✔Be more effective as a rider
I actually have a core now, and I can hold my two-point for more than half a lap.

Try free jumping
I'm going to do this eventually.

✔Do a medal class
Oh yes we did.

Conquer my fear . . . er, aversion to oxers
I still give them strange looks.

Kick booty
I kicked my own ass into gear. That counts for something.

What does next year have in store? Well, I have an ambassador application that is currently being considered, the second giveaway is happening in a month or two, I'm managing a show, I'm moving up in equitation, and I'm on a steady track to IEA regionals. Also, there will be blog hops. They are already drafted. Thanks for dealing with me for the past year. Here's to taking 2015 head on!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Product Review: Tredstep Symphony No. 4 Nero Breeches

Sometime back when I had picked out a dress to order for the awards banquet this year, I decided that I also needed a pair of breeches, so I asked my mom for her credit card and splurged on a pair of Tredsteps. I needed a pair of French Blue breeches. Every collection must have a pair of French Blue breeches.


In reality, the breeches were Slate Blue, which is about a shade or two lighter than French Blue, but close enough, and the breeches were true to color. I actually got the right size this time, too. When the breeches arrived, and I tried them on for the first time, I was disheartened. Both pairs of my Tredsteps are made of a stiff fabric, and the ankles are worse than skinny jeans. They felt very tight, but I'm not one to quit on the first try.


The next day, I donned them to the SATs and then to the barn. After a three hour test, and hour and a half on a horse, then a two hour conversation, I have no complaints. I don't know what happened. I don't know if the breeches just needed some breaking in. I don't know if a Tredstep intern body mapped me in my sleep and took the breeches back to headquarters to have them custom adjusted to me as part of some initiation process. I don't know, but the pants were honestly very comfortable to ride and sit and walk and run in.

The u-knee-que knee patches
The double belt loops and integrated calf are definitely my favorite features, but the fabric intrigues me. It's very thin and taught; however, to my surprise, it's woven tightly. It rained the day I rode in these, and I hate the cold with a burning passion. I didn't freeze in these breeches, even though it was a thinner fabric. I thought that I would have to limit these to spring and fall, but I think they'll serve me well through the winter with my fleece tights underneath.

Integrated calf
Overall, these breeches surprised me, and in the good way. I'm waiting for an excuse to get another pair of Tredsteps, but, for now, my Neros are the favorite child in my fashion family.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

No, trainer. Bad trainer.

Perhaps I am over reacting, but there's something to be said when you suddenly get put on the most stereotypical pony after riding mainly horses for two months. I guess I should have seen it coming, and I know it's for my own good; I don't exceed the height limit for ponies at the IEA shows, therefore, I should be able to control the little beasts while also looking good. Still, I was not pleased.

The pony in question is Christopher Robin. He's a short, fat little thing, and he would have rather pinned his ears and continued eating than be pestered by my tacking up process. Honestly, he is so fat, I couldn't believe how easy it was to put the girth on. It had to have been a 52". He was easy enough to tack up, and he stood nice and still while I got on and adjusted everything. Part of my minimal excitement to ride him is due to how he acts with other riders (just like Rosie). He is the definition of sass. I must have caught him on a good day.


Warm-up commenced, and he was super good at the walk and trot. Christopher is responsive and pretty forward, plus he knows his Dressage. His only fault would be that he loses focus fairly easily, and so do I, and that led to some not so nice circles. He was great to canter to the left and stepped off okay. To the right, he didn't want to canter from the halt, so he had a bucking fit, then he picked up the wrong lead. After I switched him, we did half a lap of angry, why-are-you-making-me-do-things canter before he finally settled into a quiet, relaxed little angel.

He was a lot more eager going to the fences than the last time I saw someone riding. He really wanted to canter the first time, but I held him back. We had a bit of a foot mix-up when we actually cantered the crossbar, but we made it over and stayed together. Miss J set everything down to 2' for Christopher and me. His weight plus my own was not making it over 2'6", especially not an oxer. We did the bending line without issue, then we moved onto a course. It started with the oxer to rolltop line. He did them both beautifully. Then we made a sharp turn to the derby fence. Cleared. Then the grey boxes, which I didn't think he'd be able to do, but damn that's one good pony. Cleared it like a pro.

To finish off, Miss J set the brick to 3' for B, Cas, and Izzy, then 2'6" (might have been 2'9") for Hail, Sunny, and DeM, then 2'3" for me, which Christopher eagerly launched himself over. He could've cleared a 2'6" fence with that kind of effort. Christopher is such an adorable little thing, and I like him more now than I did before, but I must remember that even Satan holds the door for people sometimes.

On a super note, after much stalling, milling, and a considerable amount of shaking, I finally coughed up the courage to ask about showing Corbin next year. Miss J is fine with me riding every other week. She wants me to ride Corbin more in the team lessons but still make sure that I get in enough time on other horses. I think that's a great plan. For now, it's a go, but there are still details to be discussed.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Also, the long awaited

After almost a month of saying that we'd ride together, I still didn't get to ride with the new boarder this weekend. Instead, she stayed after she rode to help me out. Sometime while I was finishing up with the pasture, she managed to catch her horse and get to the indoor without me noticing, so it was a surprise to see her when I took Baby out.

Queen B was feeling forward, probably due to the fact that she hasn't been ridden regularly in a few weeks (Miss S has no more lessons in December). I guess it helped a bit because she wanted to be forward, but we kept passing that line between energetic walk and a jig. We worked on the bottom tiers of the training pyramid: consistent forward motion with energy (rhythm), suppleness, bending (which tied into the suppleness), and contact (also tied into the suppleness).

We did a lot of work at the trot with lots of circles, but the idea was that I needed to take what I was doing in the circles and apply it on the rail so that my corners actually look like corners. Once in a blue moon, I can actually see a circle and do it correctly. I was doing more of a lumpy egg shape than a circle. She also had me do a spiral, and I think I got down to a 10m circle when she told me to try something smaller, so I went to a 9.9m circle. That's something to work on.

We also did canter work, which ended up being a lot better than I expected, minus the corners going to the right and that one long side of the arena that has hay at the end which caused an unplanned change in tempo. We did the same ~20m circle to the left and the right. Just as we were doing our last circle before cool-out, Baby broke. One more extra circle for us, then we were done.

Giveaway Winners!

 

Because I forgot to do this two days ago, the winners of the giveaway have been drawn and notified.

On Instagram, Maddie J. won the saddle pad. On tumblr, crest-release won three, hand made bridle charms. And the grand prize winner of the Horse Show Essentials tote was Kellie K. Congrats to everyone!

Stay tuned for the next giveaway (maybe in February, maybe in January, I can't decide anymore).

Saturday, December 20, 2014

And now I've jumped into a crossroad

But it does suggest opportunity, which I love. Despite temperatures only reaching the high thirties, we still had a lesson today. God bless wool socks and winter boots. I rode Corbin again, but I used Miss J's saddle which has those composite flex stirrups.

We had slightly more energy today than last week, but we were still lagging (seriously, the ponies were passing us), so Miss J let me use the spur. I wasn't allowed to sit my canter for the most part; it was all about getting him forward and moving with energy. Last week, I was a lot more stiff as well, which made it difficult for me to use my legs and hold him up in the corners, so today he clearly remembered. It's a good thing that we did the circles in every corner otherwise we would have destroyed our corners when we jumped.

Miss J also had us work on double posting. I'd honestly rather not. I'm so used to rising and sitting for the same amount that I couldn't relax into a up two, sit one rhythm, so we went around for a lap or two just trying to figure out what I was supposed to do.

It's still Distance December, so we had ground poles to our warm-up cross rail (which I bombed at the trot and canter). Then we did the oxer to single line that had only a ground pole by the single, but I'm pretty good seeing a distance to an oxer. Asking for the correct distance is a whole other story. The first time was pretty bad because "The Corbinator" (Corbin's alter-ego that suddenly knows what forward motion is as soon as a fence shows up) came out coming off of the oxer, and I did not have nearly enough contact. After the first time, we added two more lines after it. I got a bit tight to the first fence in the second line because our turn wasn't smooth enough. Through the last line, he jumped in great, but we got speedy, and I think we took out a stride, but the last fence wasn't a huge reach, and I picked the take-off spot, so we stayed together.

After that, we all did the brick to flower bending line. The flower was set to 3'6" for Miss Jan and Izzy, then Miss J lowered it to 3'0" for Cas and me, then 2'9" for Micky and Sam. Corbin cleared it like a champ. All the horses cleared it wonderfully. It's a barn full of potential A circuit horses who have the talent but would rather eat and poop for eternity.


It was over that 3'0" fence that I jumped into a crossroad. Miss J said that Corbin clears 3'0" easily. He's a solid horse. He knows his job, and he will gladly do it so long as I do my job. I honestly think I'd be better off on him this season rather than having to work Baby up to 3'0" for the spring and most of the summer. I wouldn't have as much time to qualify for MAEF, which is something that I really want to do. I also think it'd be better to work Baby up slowly and not have to worry about qualifying for anything on her while I still have another horse that can essentially pack me around and let me gain my confidence back. On the other hand, I feel like I'm taking the easy way out because Corbin isn't as difficult to ride as Baby. Not to mention, he's an hour away, and I don't think I could afford two lessons a week. So it continues to be an either/or situation.

Friday, December 19, 2014

December's 10 Questions

It's the first day of break, and I am already slacking, and I am already bored with my slacking, so here's a post about something.

1. What size horse do you prefer to ride? Anything larger than Twister size is okay. 

2. Do you school in tall boots or half chaps and paddock boots? I school in my precious and ever loved half chaps, although I did wear my tall boots all through last show season (mainly cause I bought them in April and thought I could show without breaking them in first).

3. What do you do with your ribbons after shows? Um, well, I fawn over them for half of the car ride, then they get thrown into a show box. BUT I'm working on getting them out of the shoe box. I'm trying to get a mesh sheet to hang on my wall. I think the ribbons will look lovely up there.

4. Do you ride/board at a large show barn or a small private barn? Depends, which barn? They're both smaller show barns, but Miss S was thinking about expanding this past summer. I'm not sure what her plans are now.

5. Have you ever seen a horse give birth? I saw a video when I was 7.

6. What is your favorite breed? No preference, although Thoroughbreds are pretty nice. 

7. Favorite tack brand? I don't even care. As long as it's soft and doesn't give me blisters, I like it. 

Awe, yiiis, booty cloud

 8. Would you ever buy used tack? Absolutely. Why pay full price when you can pay slightly less than full price?

9. Ever been on a carriage ride? I've driven two horses in the past, but I'm no pro. I'm more of a sit back and let the chauffeur get it done kind of gal.

10. How often do you go to the tack store? I've actually only been to a tack store once, but I'm super active when it comes to vendors at shows. I like to look around and then see what I can get online. I've just found that to be easier.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Product Review: Equestrian Home Accessories CC Baroque Saddlepad

My, what a mouthful. A while back, as I was making sets on Polyvore, I came across a site selling some very unique saddlepads. Of course, no saddlepad collection is complete without a patterned pad, so I got myself a nice Venetia pad.


I waited maybe three days before it showed up in the mail (website said 5-10 days, so I was happy). I was honestly expecting a basic, navy blue square pad with some moderately shiny threads, ya know, your average saddlepad, just prettier. I was surprised to see that the blue on the pad was actually cords of a velvety material. "Moderately shiny" is an insult to the threads on this pad.

Close up of the material
Long story short, the thing is gorgeous, and it fits very well under the Stubben. The filling is slightly thicker than my other square pads—with most of those pads being Rider's International pads from Dover. It isn't thick enough to impede saddle fit in the slightest, and the filling itself is soft to press against. The construction of the pad is sturdy as well. They're also contoured, which is a huge plus in my opinion.

Thicker, but not super thick
Of my small business buys, this is absolutely a favorite. 10/10 would recommend. If you don't like this pad color or pattern, there are a variety of Baroque pads to choose from.

They even have fun prints:

Seriously, don't delay. These would make great, unique Christmas presents *wink wink*.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The real real IEA experience

Because no matter how many times I ride a new horse at home, nothing quite compares to hanging out in the cold for 12 hours and then stubbing your toe on a piece of metal in an attempt to warm up. It still hurts.

Our first IEA show was yesterday. Needless to say, it was freezing. It was supposed to get up into the 50s, but the wind built up a bit during the warm part of the day. Either you sat in the sun, or you huddled like a penguin. There was no in between. We all convened at the farm around 7:30. The horses started schooling a little while after, but the show didn't start until after 10:00. Cas and Izzy were the first two to do their jump courses, and they got first and fourth respectively. After, they went, I waited maybe another hour or so to draw. I got Willow.


Some time later, I got on for warm-up. As usual, I was nervous. I was shaking, yawning, and nauseous—I had to force feed myself a bagel on the drive to the barn. I was pretty stiff while warming up, but I relaxed a bit when I got in the ring. Willow was having a pretty good day. All I had to do was keep her straight to the fence. We trot in, picked up the canter, and then it was constant leg to the first fence because all of sudden the horse had no energy. She was so ready for the transition, but I guess she regret that after three strides. For the most part I was seeing all of my distances, and there were only a few areas where we really separated, but they were between the fences, meaning it was easier for me to re-adjust and re-balance. Coming up to the second fence, she picked up the pace three strides before. Considering the lag we had at the beginning, it actually made for a better fence. We came around and did three in the line, which I'm pretty sure wasn't measured because some were getting four strides, some a tight four, some a super long three (like this one 12 hand pony), and others a solid three. We got a slight reach. My turn to jump five was cut short due to an inactive inside leg, but then we took the inside turn to the last fence, and I think that's what sealed the deal. I got a first.


Then we waited, again. I drew Ripley for my flat, which didn't even run until three or four hours later. I liked Ripley. I wanted to take Ripley home. He had the smoothest stride. He was responsive. He knew how to leg yield. He was sane. It's unfortunate that he's a gelding, but I can look past that. I actually missed both leads and broke three times at the canter, plus my reins were too short for the first half of the class, but I got third. I felt a lot more comfortable and confident on Ripley, more so than I did for the majority of this past summer.

After my flat, we still had a ton more classes to go through. We weren't finished until 8:00, and I still had homework to do when I got home at 11:30 (which I didn't do. I actually just did it this morning. I'm typing this up at school. I don't even know if I'm allowed to do this), but I did get a deep dish pizza from Wawa, so they balance each other out. All in all, a good weekend. Now I just want to sleep.

Also, a heads up, the giveaway ends today at midnight Maryland time. Get your entries in!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Feels like the before finals fear fest

I'm currently at the hotel retyping a post that was ready to be published before my tablet decided too freeze up and shut down. If you hear a tinge of annoyance in my tone, that is why.

We had a lesson today with the whole team, all the flat and jump riders. I was on Corbin. We warmed up together, then we all did a mock flat class. Corbin was behind my leg and unfocused the entire time. There was no forward. Our pyramid had no base. The canter transitions were horrid.

We did the crossbar at the trot and canter, and suddenly Corbin had energy. Miss J reminded me to keep my butt closer to the saddle since Corbin has a flatter form over fences. We did a line, too. The first time through, the first fence, an oxer, wasn't the best. I had a good tempo up until a few strides before. I picked a good distance, a bit long but doable, but I looked down, so we chipped, then we had to straighten out, and we were still straightening over the second fence. The second round through was much better. We got both distances. While there was some wiggling in between, the second fence genuinely felt perfect. I only get that feeling every once in a while (with one of those moments being when I questioned my lineage).

Now that I've spent 15 minutes re-doing this post, I think I'll go to bed now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Apparently Distance December is a thing

Yeah, I suck at distances. No stirrup work is easy. Seeing something that's not there sounds like witchcraft if you ask me.

I was assigned to ride The Barbie/Cow, Rosie, on Sunday. I've seen other girls ride Rosie, and she hasn't exactly been the most, um, controllable mount. I know I need to learn how to ride more difficult horses, but can't I push that off until later? On the ground, Rosie is as laid back as they come. She was super quiet when I groomed and tacked her. Not to mention, my fancy saddlepad matched her coat nicely, and I got to ride in the Wintec.

I was already nervous when I got on, and I tried to keep my cues as light as possible. She was actually great. We did our warm-up, and there were quite a bit of times where she completely relaxed and stretched down. She responds well to leg, too—which is nice considering that she loves to cut corners—but she isn't over reactive.

Things got not so nice when we started to canter. A few strides in going to the left, she sped up just a little bit, and I froze up. My entire body went rigid until we walked again, but the same thing happened in the other direction.

Moving on, we got started on the distance thing. Miss J had poles set out before the fences to give us an idea of where our takeoff spot would be. The focus was on pace. Rosie got a bit quick coming around the turn the first time, then I jumped ahead, but the second time was better. We trot and cantered it twice, then we moved on to the flower jump. After the flower, we did a line. Rosie wasn't happy about leaving the group, so the turn to the first fence was more difficult than it needed to be. She then proceeded to run after the first fence and refused the second fence. I went back around and made her jump it, then we did it a second time, and she jumped both, but I'm pretty sure we took out a stride or two.

We cooled out a bit, then we went out on a relaxing trail ride, or as relaxing as a trail ride can be when Cas and Izzy are around.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Waiting for things to happen

I know I have an upcoming private lesson on Baby, and I know that I'm going to put on a show, and I know that I'll get to ride with the new boarder sometime, but "When?" is the real question.

I know for sure that I will, in fact, be going to my first IEA show next weekend. Our entries are in and the hotel is booked. Unfortunately, I have just learned that there will be a practice that Saturday before we all leave, and Miss S's Christmas Barn Party is that day too, and they are likely to be happening at the same time. I'm probably not going to be able to clean the pasture next weekend.

Speaking of which, while I was cleaning today, the new boarder was showing her parents (I think they were her parents) around the place, and we caught up, and I told her that I could ride with her next weekend, completely forgetting about the show and the lesson and the party. Hopefully I'll be free the weekend after next.

Chess booping Carolyn
I'm also still trying to get clear with Miss S on having a smaller show in February before I go and try to use the big outdoor in April or May. I have everything planned out, except for the class list which I accidentally didn't save, even though Auto Recovery kept asking me to. At least is was something simple, and I have an entry form done from a while ago, so that's nothing to worry about. Funny thing is I've already started thinking about having a series in 2016 that will run from January to July. I call myself ambitious for a reason.
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