Thursday, August 28, 2008

ohh Pony Club...

Swift River Pony Club treks to Cold Hill for a lesson with Molly!
Wesman was still on a high after riding with Stephie a few days ago and was actually on his best behavior!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Off to Gap Mountain

Jerry's not well enough to be teaching again... he breaks more often than I would like. So I called up Stephie Baer- who for whatever reason decided she actually liked Wesman at Young Rider and told me if ever I wanted to ride with her she was only a phone call away!
After Kent, Stephie got a phone call. Luckily she was doing a clinic up at Gap Mountain in New Hampshire this weekend and Wes and I were invited to tag along.
I planned on riding shortly after the actual clinic had ended so when Wesman's antics were in full swing no one was around to see. However, like many things in life, things didn't exactly go according to plan. I ended up jumping into the tail end of the last group to go and then ended with a private lesson of sorts.
When we first joined the group I had thought Wesman was going to put on his clinic face and be a perfect little angel... then we cantered up to the water!
Stephie's plan of attack was very similar to Jerry's- go some where and go fast! It doesn't matter where as long as we are going forward. We lengthened. We shortened. We cropped. We spurred. Eventually we made it into the water complex.
So we accomplished a lot. According to Stephie we just need more... of everything.
The need for more actually caused Stephie to invite Wes and I to go out to PA for a few days to ride around with the great Bruce Davidson.
We'll just have to see how the parent's respond to this idea... I very much like it!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kent School H.T.

If nothing else Wesman is always a comedian.

Kent started like any other event we've been too. A small freak out that there isn't enough time followed directly by what seems to be the latest night in the barn ever only to wake up sooner than I fell asleep.We were on the road no later than 6:30am as was the plan. As soon as we were parked I hoped out, got my packet and headed straight to the cross country course. Apparently the signs to the cross country course were put up to entertain the staff- they sent me in a GIANT circle and I ended up back at the trailer. Someone had eventually told me that the course was across the street and off I went, diet coke and course map in hand, but to be perfectly honest I never use the latter.
Everything seemed fine on course. I was pleased to see many of the jumps were shared with training giving a little more height than Apple Knoll had provided but still with the same basic questions we had answered hundreds of times. The only water on course was a puddle in the woods perfectly placed so no one could see Wes quake as he stumbled through it like the big baby he really is. The terrain was hilly, but we'd done our homework and I wasn't the least bit worried as I headed back to prepare for Dressage.
We had the same test as we rode at Apple Knoll so I knew exactly what needed to be worked on- which was pretty much everything! My ring was running early and I was relieved to able to ride before my time since Wes warmed up perfectly in 20 minutes and I didn't want to lose everything in the extra 10 minutes. The medium walk following the free walk left much to be desired but the smirk on Judge Jack Leary's face following my salute lead me to believe that I had made up for it elsewhere. And I suppose I did. A score of 33 put us in second place heading to the next phase. Wesman's lowest score in a recognized event and highest placing thus far- not too shabby!

Beaming with confidence we cantered into the Stadium ring a few hours later... Rail down at jump one- should have prepared better- same turn as jump five at Apple Knoll... same problem but other than that everything seemed to be running smoothly. He did the combination with ease and soon I found myself making the turn to jump 10, the final fence. Aaaaand we stopped. Aaaaaand we went backwards. Wesman had legitimately backed himself into a corner. And there we sat. I kept reassuring the people around the ring that he does this all the time, I promised eventually he will move and everything would be fine. We Racked up time penalties left and right until finally he realized that if he wanted to leave the ring he was going to have to jump the final fence. Upon leaving the ring a woman mentioned that Wesman was "the strangest thing" she'd ever seen, and she proceeded to describe his strange form while backing and bucking. Apparently its hilarious.
So our lovely 33 turned to a 113.7 as quickly as it had come- but the pressure was off for cross country which I suppose was better. After all we are certainly not to the point of expecting ribbons, still just hoping to finish.
Jump 10 should have told me it just wasn't our day, but still I went out to cross country like any other day. Same exact everything as Apple Knoll, right down to socks and underwear, perhaps they were lucky? Unfortunately our outfit was the only thing the same as Apple Knoll.
5...4...3...2...1...0... Good Luck!
A normal horse right about now would have his ears pricked towards the terribly inviting first jump excited about the venture ahead. Not Wesman. He much rather rejoin his new friends in warm up than go into the stupid little box only to jump stupid baby jumps out in a field. But he went in the start box after some serious thinking no doubt. He stepped forward and I thought everything was going to be fine...Did I mention the girl before got too nervous and asked me to go ahead of her? The rider before had fallen and the EMT went out to fetch her. I assured the girl that though Wesman could put up a good fight he has yet to get me off at a show...
Well, I now stand corrected!
After the first step out of the start box he took another then slowed down, halted, and proceeded backwards. Great. He went backwards and backwards and yet more backwards, leaving the galloping lane and first fence behind (ahead?), crossed over the finish line, crossed a small dirt road and found himself back in warm up. Are there rules about this? Can you go back to the warm up ring after you've officially started?
Well I did. I turned him away like Jerry had taught me and just RAN. Get him moving, in any direction, just go! That's what Jerry said to do, so that's what I did. I circled and steered back towards the start box, went right past it and was finally going forward in line to the first jump- this was going to work out, once we did the first jump everything else would be a piece of cake I told myself.
Well it wasn't. As soon as I found my line Wesman came to a complete sudden stop. I toppled over his head and landed on my feet, reins in hand, facing him, glaring at him. He glared back. How dare I steal thunder of his temper tantrum by falling off. I thanked the women doing the start box, the ring steward for warm up and headed back to the trailer... Eliminated, again.
The little girl at the trailer next to us was competing at novice for the first time and had no shortage of questions for me throughout the day. She asked me how cross country went and all I could think to say was "I guess we have more homework to do".
I untacked, and headed to the show office to get my dressage test as mom took Wes for some grazing. There's no use being mad at him.
When I got back to the trailer the only thing that wasn't all packed up was Wes. I loaded him up and we went home empty handed.

I thought things we're finally turning around for us.
I hope Jerry's well enough to teach again-- we need some work!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Apple Knoll H.T.

Apple Knoll has seen me with many firsts:
I did my first event ever there years ago,
it was the first event Billy finished at Beginner Novice,
and was the first event that I got a ribbon at with Billy a year later...
And this time around was to be no different...

As we were driving up to Apple Knoll I had realized that Wesman would be the 6th horse I've ridden at an event at Apple Knoll- it made me feel wicked old!

We arrived with plenty of time to walk the course and set up camp before Dressage began. We were parked out back in a fairly secluded location that most would have loved, but Dad's tent would not be seen by everyone and was therefor a tad disappointed.
I walked the cross country course as soon as we got there. To be perfectly honest I could have done a better job with some more detailed planning but I truly didn't think we would make it that far based upon our past experiences... But the course look solid. Nothing was maxed out, nothing terribly technical, and best of all no water. It was a good course, there wasn't much to think about, the terrain seemed to aid towards the preparation to most of the obstacles perfectly... but before we could think of cross country we had to endure a dressage test.
(Real quick check out the braided forelock!)
Warm up was up in the ring at the top of the hill, while the rings were set in the large sand ring at the bottom of the hill- right away ruining my plan to not walk following warm up and just go straight to the ring. I figured when I begin my warm up Wes loosens up but after a walk break he gets really tense- so why walk? But we had to walk down a fairly steep hill, cross a paved road, and turn the corner in order to find the dressage ring... not really my plan.
(one of few good moments in the test)
Needless to say our dressage test wasn't the best. Wesman was very tense the whole time and I could for the life of me loosen him up... His canter work was pretty good and some of the trot work after cantering was better, but its hard to recover when there aren't very many movements in the test. We scored in the low 40's which was good enough for 12th place... out of 14. HOWEVER the 1st place score was no more than 6 points lower than mine...

We had very little time between Dressage and Stadium. Just enough time for Mom to take Wes for a walk to cool out while I changed and got all the jumping tack together. We were expected to go to Cross Country directly after Stadium meaning vests and all in the ring!

Our stadium course over all was good. There was one jump that didn't work out right and we had a rail- I didn't see a distance so failed to make any decision-TOTALLY THE RIGHT THING TO DO! But we moved up a couple places before heading out to Cross Country.

Lets take a moment to talk about how we made it to cross country. We weren't eliminated yet!

So we went out to cross country warm up. There wasn't much to do since we just came from stadium, but I ran through the check list and headed to the start box. I couldn't tell you the last time I went to the start box. It was awesome. 5...4...3...2...1...Have a great ride! And we were off!! At the trot! The first jump was TINY. Shared with beginner novice- so I opted to trot it and give Wes some more time to check out what was going on...
Following the particularly slow first jump it was smooooooooth sailing over every obstacle all the way to the finish flags with out a single penalty!

Not only did we finish cross country for the first time but we were double clear! This was awesome!!

But wait, it gets better!

After lunch with a few old friends I headed back to the show office to pick up my Dressage Test and decided to take a peak at the score board on my way back. I had found then that I was in 10th place... Ribbons started at 8th and with my double clear cross country I figured I had a pretty good chance at moving up a few more spots. We had move up 6 spots since Dressage and finished in 6th!

Ok so recap....
We finished the event- for the first time.
We went clear on cross country- for the first time.
We got a ribbon- for the first time.

Apple Knoll=fav!

We're trying to get into Kent and see if we can hold on to this awesome momentum!!