Monday, June 28, 2010

Room for Improvement at Rubicon

Photos by GRCPHOTO

Well this post is a little late, as I have been super busy in the month of June. Since my family was at the beach, I headed down to Leesburg for the Rubicon Farm Horse Trials early Saturday morning alone. I was perfectly on schedule, however, was apparently careless while putting in Zoomer's little studs for dressage, since we were in a grass ring. I'm not sure whether my hand slipped or Zoomer moved, but regardless, we had a miscommunication leading to a smashed pointer finger on my right hand...which wasn't the real problem. The real problem was I couldn't get it to stop bleeding and had to put my white gloves on! Luckily, I had bandaids in the trailer, and went through a few before resorting to band aid plus vetwrap. It worked to make the blood not go through, however it limited the movement of the finger. I headed up to dressage not quite on schedule, and discovered after I trekked up the entire field and got to the warmup that I forgot my bridle number. Ugh. So we trotted back to get it, and then returned to warm up in the intense heat. Warm up was ok, and the test was not our best. I had a blonde moment when I began the test, since I discovered I was riding a test I hadn't ridden before just the night before. I rehearsed it over and over, but I went down centerline, turned right, and then had no idea what it was! My subconscious saved me, leading me through the movements correctly even though I couldn't have said the test aloud right then. 38.7 was the result, which put us in 9thb of 20.
After a short break, we prepared for the jumping phases. We went through stadium with a great ride, not missig a spot or being too strong, but pulled 2 rails. Normally I blame myself for our rails, but this day I think Zoomer was just feeling a little careless. Cross country had a rough start for us. The course was a well built course of many gallop jumps, most well under normal prelim height and width, with a few technical, challenging questions and 2 full height jumps. The first fence was pretty close to the start box, which is not unusual, but today Zoomer was more forward than usual. He hit the first jump very hard, so between the first and second jumps, we slowed to a trot to make sure he didnt hit himself too bad -- still sound, so off we went. We went around the course perfectly by the scoreboard, but Zoomer's over enthusiasm didn't fade throughout the ride. He was very careless over the smaller jumps, hitting many of them whether we were galloping or in a canter. He did not hit the 2 large fences, and showed great accuracy through the tough combinations, and no fear at anything, as usual. We came in with a few time penalties, probably due to our trot break at the beginning, so no worries about those. We ended up 5th of the 20, and had we not trotted and gotten those time penalties, would have been 3rd. Certainly not a bad day!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Clean Rides at the Waredaca Horse Trials

Overall, Waredaca was a great success for both horses! Zara competed Saturday at about 8:30, 11:00 and 11:15 and we were well practiced and prepared for this one. We headed down to warm up in great time, the footing was great and it wasn't too busy. Zara warmed up wonderfully, moving off my leg well and not heavily leaning on my left. She actually was pretty even in her weight in the bridle. We warmed up our trot extensively and as usual didn't practice the canter before entering the ring so she doesn't get so tense. We entered and she was very obedient and accurate throughout the test. Her trot work had greatly improved from the previous test, allowing me to push her more forward giving a better quality trot. Her canter was also greatly improved, showing better balance and less leaning. She was much more content through the long sides and the corners where she usually gets sticky. We need more work on our trot lengthenings, as well as other areas but overall it was a good test. Unfortunately, my mistake hurt our score, as I accidentally left out the stretchy circle at C! Ugh! I just need to practice the tes over and over until it's in my head that the circle is there!. We ended up with a 38.2, about 14th of 20couple -- not too bad!
As we went on to the jumping phases, we both were confident that we would improve over the previous round. Zara warmed up well, being very good to my left leg. We went around the course very well, touching only the first fence which luckily didn't fall and missing a spot to the second to last fence, which Zara luckily used her scope to clear it perfectly despite my poor distance judgement. We confidently went on to cross country, which was a nicely built course with a few questions that had been causing problems for some training level competitors. We nicely trotted through the start box and began with a powerful confident stride. I felt a small hesitation as Zara looked closely at #3, the large steeplechase fence, but she was very brave and went right over it. She also has another slight hesitation at the first element of #4, but a little encouragement with the whip and the rest of the course rode without the slightest problem. She was great through both waters, the coffin, and the other challenging fences on the course. We cantered over the finish line, coming in well under but not too under optimum time. Zara ended up 10th in our open training division.
Sunday proved to be a wonderful day also! With similar ride times, though slightly earlier jump times, we were tacked up and ready with great warmup time. Zoomer warmed up fabulously, with great quality trot and canter work. We entered the ring in a nice forward trot, and went through our test with good rhythym and balance through all gaits. I yet again had a mental moment and made my canter loops all the way to X instead of between X and the longside, which showed off our great counter canter, but docked a few points for the improper figure(not error points, but lower scores on the movements). We could improve our trot and canter lengthenings, as well as out impulsion through some of the trot figures, but overall, Zoomer had a fabulous test. We received a 33.6, placing us 2nd in our JYOP division.
The stadium course had been dropping rails all day in the preliminary division, but with our practice through the week with Steuart, we were determined to do the course as well as possible. With a slightly sticky warm-up, we waited and entered the ring about on time. Zoomer and I went through the course very well, rubbing one or two rails, but just barely so none came down! We were one of not too many clean stadium rounds of the preliminary competitors, and one of 2 clean rounds in my division. On to cross country! Zoomer went through the start box nicely, as we didn't circle the box but went straight through. We powered through the course, which had some interesting questions that required a good bit of technicality. Zoomer jumped through all of the gallop fences, single questions like the corner, as well as the tough combinations beautifully without a single issue. He was very accurate and brave through all aspects of the course, especially showing his great adjustability through the coffin, corner and the big brush fence. As we approached the final fences, I could see that we were running short on time, but I restrained myself from rushing. We carefully went through the whiskey barrels, which were on a severe angle, and galloped over the last fence nicely. After the last, I simply loosened my reins and allowed Zoomer to cover more ground, and he happily did so. We ended exaclty on the optimum time of 5:27.
With most others in the division facing difficulties in the jumping phases, the two double-clean rounds put Zoomer ahead of the division by a large 7 points! We were also one of the only 8 competitors in the 50+ rider preliminary competition to have completely clean jumping. What a good boy! I have no complaints at all about the weekend, and without my errors as a rider, both horses would have done even better. Saturday the 5th will be Zoomer's 3rd prelim since his injury, and we're hoping to improve even more in dressage and remain strong through the jumping. Zara has a few weekends off, where she will be working very hard on her canterwork and other dressage, as well as entering a few jumper shows.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ups and Downs at FairHill

After a weekend off of showing for both horses to move back home from school, we had plenty of time to prepare for Fair Hill, the weekend of the 15th to 16th. Unfortunately, despite the fact that this time existed, I may have procrastinated a little on the activities. Settling back into the daily work at Dodon Farm, along with unpacking, seeing old friends, and riding the three at home proved to be a challenge to achieve. With a few good sessions with Steuart, we felt a little better about our one rail from the previous event and hopeful for Zara's behavior.
Day one was training level with Zara. This being her third or fourth training, you would think we would be finally improving, however, against a division of extremely competitive professionals, we did not do our best. Zara's dressage test was an improvement over our previous attempts(with help from Courtney Amritt0Johnson, who came out to help me warm up even though she was feeling poorly), showing more relaxation and calmness; though we sacrificed some of our through-ness and forward movement to get this result. The judge clearly was hoping for more forwardness in this training level test, and we ended up tailing the division with a 43. We didn't lose all hope (yet) since clear rounds can usually dramatically improve the placing from a poor dressage ride and we usually went clear. But apparently this was just not our day.
We warmed up for stadium with a perfect amount of time for our usual warm up but Zara was heavily leaning on my left side. I gave myself plenty of time to warm up on a normal day, but not enough to work out of a bad day. We fought through warm up and on both jumping courses, starting with stadium. As we went through the roomy course, some efforts were great, but some were very poor. Most of the fences that Zara took on her left lead were ugly since I couldn't get her off of my leg aids. We held ourselves together until the downhill line, oxer 5 strides to 2 stride in and out. We pulled the rail on the oxer(on our left lead), made an interesting bowed line to the in and out to pull the first element of the combination. With a little overriding, we managed to leave with only 2 rails, Zara's first rail of the season.
I know you should never be riding a horse if you're frustrated, but it was unavoidable at this point. Between both of our errors, I was feeling a little dismantled. We headed out onto cross country in a nice calm pace, but continued the leaning on the left problem. She jumped around beautifully, and I tried to keep her on her right lead more than her left. I was impressed with her behavior through the water combination, which she hadn't done before, and also with her bravery through the coffin and the bank to roll top. Unfortunately, after we jumped the bench in the treeline, approaching the foundation, Zara switched to her left lead(which I should have caught before it happened!) and was hanging up to the fence. She did not have the focus she normally shows as we got close to the first element of the foundation, and with her head turned to the left, refusing to pay attention to my aids, we had a stop at the log. We made a medium size circle on our RIGHT lead, and went over the log and down the bank perfectly. Ugh! First stop in at least 4 years. She finished the remainder of the course with no problems, but with the 20 faults plus a few time penalties due to the stop and circle we had no chance of redeeming ourselves in the placings. Everyone has a bad day, right?

Feeling slightly defeated, I began preparing Zoomer when I arrived home for my 9:00 preliminary ride on Sunday. Getting back in the house around 10 from preparing, I couldn't wait to sleep and try again! We were up nice and early, arrived at Fair Hill right on schedule and tacked up for dressage. Zoomer and I looked quite stunning if I may say so myself, and we were ready to put our best forth. With a good warm up but some slight questioning of the test just before entering, along with an impressive spook just as we were entering at A (Thanks to a person standing by the dressage ring with their horse grazing, which did something and itself, surprising Zoomer) we did what we could. It wasn't a spectacular test, but Zoomer was very obedient and forward. We rode very accurately and I thought that we certainly had a good test for us. We ended up in the middle of the JYOP group with a 37.7 -- slightly disappointing, but I've learned to accept that with a horse that isn't the real ideal look of a dressage horse, we have to put in a fantastic test to be really competitive.
We arrived for stadium warm up in perfect time, giving ourselves about 15 minutes to prepare. Zoomer was jumping well, though a little more forward in stride than usual. We entered stadium and he and I didn't get a great rhythm through the ride. Despite our miscommunication on a few take off spots, Zoomer jumped very well, and we pulled two rails -- the vertical on the long downhill ride and the first element of the one stride combination. Hopefully well communicate better next time. We both were looking forward to cross country. I think every rider should experience cross country at this level on a horse like Zoomer. He truly enjoys what he's doing, requires a confident and correct rider, but he doesn't have to be pushed to fences or over ridden. He is a joy to ride cross country. The ride was spectacular, he was great to every fence and through every combination. He navigated the water perfectly, had no issues at the tight distance in the coffin and showed his true honesty and athleticism through the foundation. The jump was a large roll top, one stride to a big drop and an awkward 4-stride bending line to a corner that just begged horses to run out. We jumped the first element a little sticky, making our drop a little messier than usual. On any other horse, I may have had difficulty with quickly collecting and focusing the horse on the tough corner, but Zoomer allows me to trust him through any distance or question. He went through the 4-stride bending line on a loose rein, being directed primarily with my body and legs and made a perfect four strides and a beautiful jump over the corner. We had just a few time penalties, but since it was our first preliminary level cross country ride in quite a while, I had no worries. When checking scores later, we discovered that we came in 4th of about 15 at the end, and all but one rider got time penalties in cross country -- and our time was the third fastest in the division! I do wish that I had rushed Zoomer just a few seconds faster to have just 2 points less, which would have had us 2nd. What a good boy! In the meantime, Zoomer and I will be working on our communication through stadium courses and practice those dressage movements a little more before Waredaca on the 29th to 30th of May.

Hopefully both horses will be on their best behavior, and no more all-phase bad days!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A HOT Day at the MCTA Horse Trials

Due to our recent troubles with dressage in the past few events, I decided that it would be better off for all of us if I switched my original entry for MCTA with Zara to Zoomer. The decision ended up being a very good one! After multiple washes and the chaos of going home the night before, Zoomer was clean and well braided in the morning before the event. The day started out chilly, but quickly grew to nearly 90 degrees be the time I rode around 1. We had a great warmup for dressage, moving nicely through, perfectly round and well balanced in transitions. We went through the test a little more tense than usual, which I thought would be a damper on our score, but luckily, our tension must not have shown through as much as I thought it would. We ended up 6th of 21 with a dressage score of 30.9, just a few tenths of a point shy of the 2nd place score of 29.6. With scores so close together, I knew that it would be a close finish after the jumping phases.
Our stadium warm up went as usual, with a nice, forward strides to each warm up fence. Unfortunately, due to a lack of organization, riders were not riding at their times, leading to a lot of standing around. We waited probably a half hour after our original 15 minutes we set out for warm up, in the brutal heat. Many riders were disgruntled, but we all tried to wait patiently for our turns to ride. Many rails came down, and even a few stops and a fall happened during our wait, and when it was finally our turn, Zoomer performed very well, but not with the precision he normally has. We ended up rubbing a few rails, and with luck, only one came down, adding 4 points to our score. We moved on to cross country, getting some good walking time in between to help with the heat, and headed out on course. As usual, Zoomer was a stellar competitor in the cross country phase. He jumped every fence beautifully, in stride, and very carefully. He tactfully negotiated the fences that may cause complications for training level horses and riders, including the short two strides between the stone boxes, the water, the trakehner and a few others. I allowed him to choose his own pace through the course, since he may have been tired from the hot day but he proved otherwise. We went at a comfortable speed around the course, slowing down for the more challenging fences, and came in almost a full minute early. We made a large circle at the canter between fences 17 and 18 to delay time, which I should have kept better track of, but at least he proved to me that he is prepared to move back to preliminary level.
After the long, hot day, we ended up in 5th place, at a score of 34.9. Overall, I am very happy with Zoomer's performance at this event -- I am not too worried about the rail, as both the horse and myself were a little frazzled from the timing. Hopefully well be more together for the next time and keep our connection throughout the stadium course as well as the dressage test. I did notice that had we not pulled that one rail, we would have been a very close 2nd place!
With one weekend off to move back into home from college, we continue our eventing the next weekend at FairHill. Zara will be going training level on Saturday, hopefully we have imporved some of our skills for the dressage test; we have been working heavily on acheiving the relaxation and lowered poll that will earn us better scores in training level tests. In the meantime, she will no longer be wearing my dressage saddle, which seems to be pinching her and she had a few stray chunks of wolf tooth removed from her left side. With these factors removed, we hope to have much more effetive training sessions. Zoomer will be going preliminary level on Sunday, the first time in over 7 months since his injury. We feel very prepared for all phases, although we have not yet practiced the new 2010 prelim dressage tests. We better get on that!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Busy Day at the Loudoun Hunt PC Horse Trials

I was sure that Sunday would be a busy day with two horses in a division with ride times veryy close, but I had not ridden two horses in an event for quite some time! The day began at about 3:00am when I woke up from very limited sleep to get out to the barn and get on the road. I bathed and braided Zoomer and Zara the night before, covered them and hoped they would still be clean when I arrived; no such luck. Zoomer managed to get himself filthy! With manure stains in all sorts of locations, including his neck, braids, all four legs and a few other spots, I scrambled to scrub him clean before departing by 4:30. According to Google, my trip would take about 3 hours - I wanted to arrive early enough to walk the cross country and get both horses clean(again, since they always make a mess of themselves in the trailer) before dressage. With no traffic, I arrived earlier than my intended time and had plenty of time to walk the xc and prepare. The cross country was a well put-together course with a few nice questions and plenty of good size galloping fences. I had no worries for Zoomer, but figured Zara might take a look at some combinations she had not seen before, including a 3-jump combination for the water, an overhang(which never really makes problems but I thought it was worth noting) the roll top to the double drop and the two stride bending line at the treeline.
After returning, we(mom came to help out) unloaded Zoomer to prepare for dressage. It took some more scrubbing to make him look nice and white after the morning incident, but he got clean enough for the slightly damp ground that would surely get on his legs anyways. We tacked up and created the best image for turnout that we could and headed down with about 30 minutes to warm up. Zoomer was a little lazy in warm up, but with a little help from my dressage whip encouraging him to use himself, he began showing the fantastic horse he was over 6 months before when we were preparing for intermediate and bowed. We set the whip aside before entering the ring, which lead to a slightly weaker beginning, but with gradual push Zoomer was very submissive and showed great impulsion. He put in fantastic test and I expeceted a great score. He had very balanced, consistent canter work and really showed his best in the 20m stretching circle.
I returned to the trailer quickly to get Zara ready for her rides hoping she would be better behaved than our previous event (which I forgot to blog about, whoops!). Once ready, we headed down with about 25 minutes to warm up. She decided that it wasn't a good day after the speakers made horrendous, startling noises from the sound checks. She leaned heavily on my left hand from the start, and I gradually tried to move her off my left leg to put weight into my right instead of hanging, and for a few moments here and there, she seemed to improve, but she wouldn't hold it. As it came close to time to ride the test, I made a decision against my normal tactic of continuing to try and work her over throughout the test and chose instead to try to allow the hanging through the test if it might at least give us good work in one direction. Unfortunately, through the test she remained tense and hanging, and we did the best we could for what we had. Her trot work was mediocre, as I couldn't get her to bend left properly. Our canter work did improve over both previous tests we rode, as she showed better balance and collection. She also remained manageable through the canter lengthenings and the trot lengthening at the end. Our stretchy circle may have been even worse then before, as her tension was clearly visible in my attempt to convince her to relax and lower her poll. Hopefully, she will be in a better mindset next time!
After finishing dressage(whew.) it was time to see if Zoomer would be out of practice in jumping. I looked forward to see how he would behave, as he had not been away from the home barn more than once since the injury. He also had not schooled full courses yet this season. He certainly proved that he was ready! After a brief but concise warmup, we entered the ring ready to do our best. I worked hard to fight my old habit of being too picky with each stride and psuh forward through the course, as I practiced with Steuart Pittman extensively last Summer and Fall, and it paid off. Zoomer went around the course with beautiful spots to each fence, lightly rubbing two poles that thankfully didn't fall down. We trotted on down to cross country after a beautiful clean round, hoping for the same in this phase. I had not intended to push him for speed, but rather wanted to let him choose where he was comfortable. As we began the course, he powered through the first 8 jumps, taking the galloping fences perfectly in stride and collecting nicely for the first up bank - one stride - jump combination. He continued to show his finesse around the rest of the course, tactfully conquering the roll top to the double down banks, the water, and the two stride bending line. We finished in a slow cnater, with a time of 5:18 - nicely close to the 5:30 optimum time.
After two satisfying rides on Zoomer, I switched the tack to Zara and quickly made my way to the stadium ring. Zara warmed up nicely, responding well to my leg despite the troubles we had in dressage. We entered the ring and she put in a nice, clean(but fast) stadium ride. She made rather expressive leaps over most of the fences, with only a few small spots that required adjustment. We moved from clean round number 3 of the day on to cross country. Zara started the course beautifully, with only minor adjustments needed for the galloping fences on the course. We trotted into the up bank - one stride - jump combination to assure she understood the question, and did it perfectly. She probably wondered why I made her trot! As we moved on, we came to the roll top to double down banks - we cantered slowly over the roll top to assure a good spot to the banks. We had a slight miscommunication when I asked her to bend nicely to the banks, showeing that she still did not want to get her weight into my right hand, but we trotted to fix the line and nicely went down the banks. We continued with no issues through the water, big brush and overhang fences until the two stride bending line. Zara gave me slight hesitation to the fence, as she tried to process the question, but with a little encouragement, went over the first jump nicely. I gave her a slight tap with my whip in between the fences for extra encouragement to the second fence and it was as it the hesitation never happened. She continued through the final jumps of the course nicely, cantering across the finish line with a time a little over 5:00.
Finally after all rides and cooling of the horses, I headed up to look at scores, expecting the best for Zoomer and the worst for Zara -- and was slightly surprised. Zoomer's score was a 34.6, which tied us at 4th place. I was alightly disappointed that the judge was not seeing what I felt in Zoomer's ride. Zara received a 38.6, putting her in 11th of 14 after dressage, which was not surprising. With clean jumping rides for all of my mounts, they both moved up: Zoomer into 2nd place and Zara into 7th. I am very pleased with Zoomer's day and I believe that he deserved better scores in dressage -- I am positive that the judge favored Zara's body type over Zoomer's multi-colored slim body type. Zara received complimentary comments in her collective marks, while Zoomer did not. Had the judge been more objective in relation to horse type for the sport of dressage, I feel Zoomer would have been far more successful. I believe he would have lead the division after dressage with a different judge, as the scores were all very close. Hopefully the judge at MCTA this weekend can see how impressive Zoomer really is, especially for a disadvantaged horse in the area of conformation which makes expressive movement challenging for him.
Overall the busy weekend was a success, but we hope to be more fortunate in Zara's mood and Zoomer's prescence next time.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Videos from Marlborough Horse Trials Winning Rides

Check out our winning dressage and stadium rides from the Marlborough Starter Horse Trials!

Stadium :

Dressage :

Taking the Blue in our First Event of the Season


Well this post is a little late because its thesis deadlines time! I'll be quicker with my posting after this weekend at Redland. As you can see by the title, we won our first event of 2010! Over the week prior to the event, Zara and I worked extra hard on getting relaxation and less rush in our step for dressage. We took two lessons with Courtney Amritt Johnson to get a feel for the 2010 training level test we would be riding, learning tricks to each movement to keep Zara flowing and balanced throughout the twisty test. Zara had only done novice level before, so the smaller circles, straight lines and adjustability required for the training test was a whole new game for us. By our second lesson, Friday, we completed the test with few issues and learned that we may do better if we do not warm up the canter before the test, but rather warm up extensive trot work to achieve the relaxation we would need to do well. One quick run through on Saturday and a whole lot of grooming and pampering later, Zara was ready. I hoped.

We were the first ones to arrive on the grounds of Rosaryville State Park that morning, leaving my college dorm at 4 to pull out around 4:30. Since schooling was allowed the day before the event, my guess is everyone else schooled it or walked it yesterday so they didn't have to arrive at the sunrise! Zara munched on the trailer as I went out to walk the novice cross country and training stadium. Both courses were well put together and manageable, and the only challenge I may encounter on cross country would be not coming in under the speed fault time! I returned to my trailer, later than I had hoped, of course, and rushed to get Zara and myself dressed and ready for dressage. With about 20 minutes of warm up, I had just enough time to get her attentive and relaxed in her trot work, but not tired as the day warmed up. We entered the ring and I was very happy with the beginning! Zara behaved like a focused competitor as we went through the trot work, showing improved balance in turns and less tension than usual. I guess those lessons paid off! Our canter work also improved greatly in balance, although our transitions are still a little sticky and resistant. Our least improved area was the stretchy circle after the canter work, as expected based on the weeks lessons. Relaxation is one thing, but we don't quite have enough relaxation to stretch down and forward without trying to rush or break into canter. Silly mare. We went through the test with smiles (well I did anyways) at our small successes, and with a score of 35.5 and tied for 2nd place, I had no complaints about our dressage test. Now had I improved my position and really sat deep in our canter work, we may have made it to first after dressage!

Photo:GRCPHOTO With little time between dressage and the jumping phases, we returned from dressage and changed our tack and clothes with some haste. We arrived at the warm up for stadium first, with about 15 minutes before the start of the phase. After a brief warm up over the fences, we decided to go ahead and go first since the other riders were not completely prepared yet. I guess going first might be our lucky charm -- or Zara and I have greatly improved. We rode a beautiful clean round, didn't miss a single distance, and she stayed in front of my leg throughout the ride. (We we're worried about her popping her shoulder and running through my leg after a few recent jump schools, but hopefully it's just a ring-sour phase.) We went right over to cross country, but had a wait before they were ready with all judges in place. When time to go came, Zara kept her cool as we walked around and through the starting gate, and nicely trotted out as I struggled to get my watch counting correctly. She cantered over the smallish jumps beautifully, as if she had been doing it all winter. She had a small hesitation at the bank, but once she glanced over the edge, trotted down it nicely. She also had a short hesitation at the water, but again trotted in after a glance at it. She navigated the ditch, coops, tables, palisades and other obstacles like a pro, and as we came to the second to last jump, we realised I had been riding too fast and took two big circles in the middle of the field to delay some time -- I forget how massive her stride is! A quick blond moment sent me almost to the finish line going past our last jump, but luckily at the last moment noticed that I was pretty sure I had one more jump, and we took another circle in the field and went over it with no problems. Whoops! We came in still under the optimum time, despite our hesitations and my slight brain malfunction to complete our second event with double clear jump rounds out of the three we have attended. What a good girl!

On the way back from cross country, very satisfied with our day, we saw the scores for the first time and realised we definitely had a great shot at winning, since I saw that the rider who had placed first after dressage had pulled a rail or two in stadium. We waited patiently at the trailer, and went up with hope after about an hour to receive the first blue ribbon for me and Zara.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Weekend Off for the Zoomer and Dressage for Zara

Over this Easter weekend, I decided to head to Rehoboth in the beautiful weather from Friday evening until Saturday, and then headed home for Saturday until Sunday. In my absence, Courtney Amritt-Johnson worked Zara to figure out some training issues we've been having, such as leaning into my left hand and disrespecting my left leg. Luckily, Courtney's long legs can often help a great deal, along with her other training techniques she practices on Zara to help her balance and relax in her dressage work. Hopefully, Courtney's work, along with a few lessons this week will help enough to give us a great test this weekend at the Marlborough Unrecognized Event at the Training/Novice division. Since I didn't have anything extremely exciting to report in this blog, check out the dressage video from my last event with Zoomer from October 2009.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Jumper Show at the PG Equestrian Center

Today Zara and I went to our second show outing of the year and first legitimate jumper show and we both returned very pleased!! We pre-entered the show for Sunday, but on a whim Friday decided it looked like it would be a beautiful day on Saturday and loaded up this morning, no sure what to expect on arrival. We decided to enter the three 3' classes, time first jump off, power and speed and the addback, as well as the three 3'6" classes of the same type. With a decent amount of competition, Zara excelled in the 3' division, bringing home a 2nd with one rail, 1st with a clear round and 3rd with one rail(of course in the money class!). Overall, I was very pleased with our first real jumper division. Once we finished these classes, the show moved on to the 3'3" classes, which we were skipping, but then we discovered that there were no entries besides us in the 3'6" class. We decided to take on one of the 3'3" classes and add the 3'9" classes since the 3'6" would be silly to compete in alone. Zara completed the complex course at 3'3" perfectly with no rails, winning the class. We then competed in the two 3'9" classes, with 2 rails in the first class and a clean run in the second, winning both. What a good mare! Maybe she's finally accepted the fact that this stuff can be fun without having to drag me around courses; she was also much more settled standing in and outside of the trailer for tacking. With such a good day today, we decided to scratch the day for tomorrow, since it looked like it would be chilly and rainy anyways. The footing was great today, but would probably be very slick in the rain. Too bad I don't want to become a show jumper, I think Zara would do fantastic with it! Hopefully she will be fantastic with eventing this season as well.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Beautiful Weekend to Start Fitness Work!

Friday, Saturday and Sunday brought a perfect opportunity to begin fitness work with Zara and a little jumping with Zoomer! Friday, the perfect temperature allowed great rides on Zara, Zoomer and Coco(a pony I work at Worthmore) with a short hack for each. Zoomer went first, warming up fabulously with an extra bounce to his step at the opportunity to finally ride in the outdoor. After working for weeks and weeks, we decided it would be a good day to do some little jumps; the first jumping he has done in 5 months, since the injury! He of course was fabulous, jumping well balanced and in good stride as if he hadn't even had time off. Zara had a lesson on Friday, where we worked on dressage with Courtney Amritt Johnson. We focused on keeping her in a true frame, using her body but not leaning on my hands(my left on in particular) for support in her work. Her canter work was decent to the left, but sloppy to the right as she leaned heavily on my hand and was disrespectful to my legs.

Zara proved that she was just having a bad day throughout the rest of the weekend, as everyone went for trotting hacks out in the fields on Saturday. Sunday, fitness work for Zara began! She did trot sets of 15 minutes with 5 minutes of walk between 3 sets, along with two 2 minute gallop sets. By the end, we were finally happy with just trotting, instead of trying to go full speed all the time! I think I finally wore her out! Coco also did trot work and played in the nearby pond to become reaccustomed to overcoming water. Unfortunately, Zoomer must have been playing too hard or encountered something unpleasant, as his left eye was swollen and oozing a little. He didn't get to enjoy the beautiful day, but care was taken to heal the eye and he worked beautifully tonight in the indoor.

More beautiful weekends for Chestertown, please!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Jumpers Schooling Show at Breezy Run Farm

Well, Zara proved to all of us that she is ready to get started on showing this weekend today! She put in 2 beautiful, balanced, clear rounds in the highest division offered for the day, 3'. Despite some recent problems in schooling over spring break week at Dodon involving some heaviness on my hands, weight on her forehand and trouble with maneuverability around a tight, turn-filled course, she was absolutely fabulous in the ring. Going in a simple french link dee, she was able to make the tight turns around the course without hanging on me for balance and using her hindquarters in some tough rollback turns. Unfortunately, a few tight spots in the last round for the day cost us a rail, but certainly a good day!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Welcome to my Eventing Blog! (test post?)

Here comes the Eventing Season of 2010!

Zoomer at Fairhill International Horse Trials, Preliminary Level 2009.

Well, it's been a slow, snowy Winter in Chestertown, Maryland. Gentle workouts with Zoomer and dressage bootcamp for Zara will hopefully pay off this show season! Due to the ring conditions, jumping has been a challenge, but Zara has shown great improvement with help from dressage rider Courtney Amritt. We were aiming to enter the Plantation Field HT in April, but unfortunately, Zoomer is not recovering as quickly as hoped, so he will be working very slowly until he shows no signs of problems. Zara will be entering some schooling shows soon to test out how well she will hold up jumping this season -- hopefully she'll be fabulous and compete in some novice and training level events, as well as some rated jumper shows. With perfect soundness after a tough grid workout yesterday, things are looking up for her (but keep fingers crossed!). Videos of the gridwork from March 2, 2010 will be up sometime.

Stay Warm!