GFPC Fun Show: Thoughts

A lot of lessons were learned at the show. I could have walked away from this experience dejected. I mean, I just got my butt handed to me by a bunch of 8 year old girls in literal pigtails on lesson ponies. My time was slow by a full minute. Gem tried to leave the arena upon entering. I had a total of 4 refusals between the two rounds. I forgot where my fence was.

But we jumped. Every single fence. No rails down. Even with a crowd of people hanging on the rail. Even with a crap ton of flower filler. Even on a height we haven’t ever even schooled. Gem said yes. The refusals were my fault. I didn’t set her up right or I stopped riding. Maybe a better/more forgiving horse would have said yes anyway but we all know by now that isn’t Gem. And yet she said yes 20 times.

That’s pretty amazing.

Beyond that though I learned some things.

First, the next time I’m signing up for every freaking class possible to stave off the bone numbing boredom that hanging out for hours on end at a h/j show by yourself creates. Hubby was off entertaining Wyatt and I just stood there. When I saw the class schedule I had no clue what half the classes were. Now I know. Sure we would never win in the hunter equitation over fences 18”, but damn that course looked easy. Outside line, diagonal, outside line. Sign me up for that next time!

Second, I ride better over bigger fences. I was more nervous going into the 2’ class having never jumped a course set to that height before and maybe that is why, but looking through the screen shots my position is way better during the 2’ round than the 18” one. I think it has more to do with the fact that Gem required a stronger ride, I was more secure having just done it before and therefore I dug in and got it done. Plus Gem had to actually jump instead of zooming over which helped me too.

I talked to Gem. A lot. Kinda loudly too to the entertainment of the judge and spectators. I talked to her the entire time. “Ok Gem we’ve got this. Jump it!” “Sorry Gem! My fault let’s try again” “We look like fools out here but come on let’s finish this thing” on and on. I even told her I was a wimp. I talked and she responded by being more present. She looked around a lot less than normal and was more focused. Point taken and thank you to blogger of 3dayadventureswithhorses for the suggestion on another one of my posts. It helped a lot!

I really believe that the cross country schools are helping our arena jumping 1,000 fold. I may never be brave enough to enter a HT with her, but the schooling will continue. It’s made her a better jumper. It’s made me braver and more bold. We were coming to the yellow fence 5 in the 2’ round and I knew she hadn’t liked it before. With one refusal already I wasn’t going to let her say no there. She twisted and turned her butt and I stayed firm in my leg pressure and didn’t give up. She jumped it.

18” verticals, even on a short or odd approach, no longer bother me at all. I made her jump them from a standstill no issues. The 2’ course began scary but by fence 3 I was down for it and by fence 7 I was laughing out loud, giggling to myself and having a blast. That’s a major change from 9 months ago when I wouldn’t even jump a 12” cross rail.

Other than the boredom factor, which could have been lessened had Wyatt’s class not been #6 and mine 16, I quite liked the jumper show. I liked that you could enter multiple classes and just keep going. I liked that it was only $10 a class. I think I’d like to keep going and building our confidence. I also think that Gem could be a really good jumper. She is fast, athletic enough to take the inside turns and this is a game she understands the point of. I’m just not sure I’ll ever be brave enough to let her do it.

All in all it was an amazing experience. It wasn’t perfect and I’m pretty sure we only beat the girl who fell off in the 18” and the girl who was rung off course in the 2’ round, but I don’t care. I throw all my ribbons away anyway (did I just hear all my readers have a collective stroke?). I left happy. Gem? Well she seemed ok with it all. I’m ready for the next one!


GFPC Fun Show: My Turn

There is media! So much media!!! While I have a ton of thoughts and feelings about how this show went I think I’ll just run it via pictures here and then blabber on in a later post.

After waiting a million years (ok, it was more like 2 1/2 hours) for class #16 to be up next, it was time to wake Gem up and head in for the 18” jumpers. We were the 5th ones in, she entered and immediately tried to spin around and leave again, and it went….ok…ish. Here is a run through:

My course. I sent a text to Trainer and she sent back “courtesy of yours truly”. I knew it too. This had her written all over it especially fence 1 which was a super tight and short turn off the rail on an angle. She has had me work on that in our lessons and I sucked at it. 

Ok Gem this is it. Let’s trot down the long side and head to fence 1 in a good rhythm.

Nah, I’d rather spook at those people in the bleachers.

Shit! Was that the bell? We aren’t anywhere near fence 1. I’m going to get eliminated. Go Gem go!

We then proceed to rush to fence 1 and while Gem went over she whacked it really hard and rattled me.

No idea why she would have whacked it. I mean, this is perfect jumping form. 

Ok. Fence 1 is over. Yay! Oh shit. I forgot to turn to fence 2. Maybe she will do it if I shove her at it and give her absolutely no room or warning.

Ha! No way am I going over that bright pink fence. Sorry lady. Try again.

This was a much needed wake up call for me to focus and ride my horse. I wasn’t angry with her here. This was 100% my fault for forgetting where to go and jamming her at it. I do love the look on her face though. 

Sorry Gemmie! My fault. Let’s try that again.

Second attempt she went over no problem. My heart was still racing and my nerves were acting up big time, but we got it done.

Ok…now remember where fence 3 is. Sit up and keep her under control.

We finally got our act together over fence 3 and I started to look for my fences and actually ride.

Huh. This isn’t going so bad. The height isn’t scary and Gem isn’t being too bad. Maybe we won’t die.

By this point, gem was beginning to understand what we were doing out there and began looking ahead for the jumps. This makes it so much easier for me to ride her.

Look at that. Another fence behind us and we are rolling along. Maybe if I take my leg off she will slow down.

Gem hated this fence. Maybe she hates the color yellow?

Oooookay….we nearly had a second refusal at fence 5. Never, ever take my leg off. Fence 6 should be easy but then it’s a tight bend left to 7. Will we make it?

Fence 6 wasn’t really an issue, but the turn to 7 was short and required a lot of accuracy.

You’ll see how ugly fence 7 was in the video because I never got her lined up right, but over it she went and then straight to 8. I don’t have shots of those.

Fence 9 is the most decorated. Two left. We can’t screw this up now. Jump Gem, jump!

I was elated to be at fence 9 and rode aggressively. It never occurs to me that Gem requires that much aggression to jump until I am nearly done with my course. Some day I’ll learn. 

Yes! One left!!! Oh wait. I still have to ride. Turn! Turn!

I very nearly forgot to turn to this one too. Stupid brain.

Gem got a million pats, an emotional hug and some time to nap before the 2’ jumpers four classes later.

Here is the video so you can witness us in all our squirrelly glory. We finished I believe 1 full minute slower than anyone else. Oops.

I nearly bailed on the 2’ class. Once they reset the fences and added filler to nearly every single one, it looked daunting. Then I remembered that the standards start at 1’9” and that meant the prior class wasn’t really 18” and this would only be 3” higher. No big deal, right?

When I entered the arena, I cut through the center more to avoid my panic at making it to fence 1 in 45 seconds. Gem was much more settled this time around and I silently hoped she’d realize the height had gone up.

Ok. Let’s get this done. Line her up. Oh shit! That looks high and there is a bunch of fill. Quit looking at the jump. Quit it. Well crap she ran out.

It’s ok Gemmie. My fault. Let’s get this done. It’s only 2’. Leg on. Look up. Go!

Again, the run out was all my fault. I backed off and got scared which left Gem high and dry. The second time though I put my big girl panties on. 

Do not forget to turn for fence 2. There it is. Leg on. There is no filler. She can do this.

The jumps were raised and I rode much more aggressively this round which made for a prettier picture overall. 

Wow. 2’ isn’t so bad. We can do this. I honestly believe we can do this.

No issues here
Or here!

Ok. Remember fence 5 was sticky last time. Keep that leg on. Wait. Where is she going? Why is her butt to my left. Move it Gem. I mean it. Get your flying bay hurt over this jump!

Fence 5 was an issue. You’ll see in the video how she tries to contort her way out of it. Thankfully, Trainer had prepared me for this and I was committed to making this round work

Was that a refusal technically? Is that our second? Oh shit again. There’s fence 6 and I’m not paying attention. Focus, Sara. They added a plank. Why am I staring at it? Quit staring.

Ugh. Another refusal. My fault again. Is that number 3? Am I eliminated? I didn’t hear a bell. I’ll just keep on until they tell me to stop.

Gem did go over it the second time since I stopped staring at the plank and asked her to jump it. I don’t have good screen shots of 7, but it jumped just as bad as the last time. I got jumped nearly out of the tack but I was actually having fun by this point and didn’t care.

Ha! I’m having fun. FUN! That’s new. Fence 8 is easy. Come on Gem! Let’s finish strong.

There is that beautiful jumping form again. her knees are cute though. Just don’t look at her head. 

Wahoo!! Fence 9 has very bright flowers and we have 3 refusals already. No room for error. Go Gem. Jump the jump. Let’s enjoy the end! Grab mane and go!

I was so worried she would back off this jump. I kicked her good and grabbed mane. 


One last plain fence and we are done. Wait…am I smiling? While jumping? On Gem? Weeeeeee…….

This is my new all time favorite picture. Ever. I’m smiling. On Gem. Over a fence. 

There are so many thoughts to share, but for now here is the video of the 2’ round (a lesson on how to make 10 fences take over 2 minutes to jump) and I’ll sort the rest out later.


GFPC Fun Show: Wyatt

This was a very last second idea. I wasn’t even sure if I needed to braid, but it was at my home barn and they held a lead line class for Wyatt too so it seemed like a good idea.

Wyatt woke up bright and early, threw some flip flops on and marched out of the house saying “We need to go load up!” Never mind he wasn’t wearing any pants. And it was 630 am with a 9 am start a half an hour away.

We got him settled down a little while I got myself around and went to get Gem to officially load up. Then we hit the road!

Having never been to a h/j show before, I had no clue what to expect. We got there ridiculously early, registered and then hung out for about an hour before I tacked Gem up. I wanted to have Wyatt experience a warm up and his class was #6 on the list.

By the time we made it to warm up, he was nearly jumping out of his skin with excitement. It took a bit to adjust my stirrups to his size (mental note, but kids stirrups) and then he clambered on and we went for a walk around the warm up. Thankfully it wasn’t busy or hectic and we had a nicely relaxed walk.

Wyatt kept asking to trot because all the big kids were trotting. I was tempted, but my main goal for him was to have fun and falling off in warm up would not have achieved that.

When his class was called he lit up. I led Gemmie in and we began our walk around the arena. I made a point to walk her past any jumps that looked particularly scary so she could see them before our classes. Not cheating. Being smart!

The judge had us walk one direction, change, walk the other. As we went past the jumps Wyatt kept asking when we would jump them. Ah kiddo, already braver than me!

The judge was really awesome, not that Wyatt registered any of it. They announced that it was too close to call and for us to take another lap around. After that we lined up and the judge came out to say hello to each rider and hand them a blue ribbon. Wyatt was oblivious to the fact that everyone got blue and threw his hand up yelling “I am the winner!”

He then attached the ribbon to his shirt and refused to take it off again. His smile was the biggest reward I’ll ever get and it made the whole day worthwhile.


Thoughts After the Show

This post has been written about a dozens times now and each time I start rambling off in some odd direction I didn’t mean to. There was just so much happening in my brain as we drove home Sunday.

First and most important, I absolutely loved this show, the venue and all the people. Everyone kept telling me how awesome eventers are, but honestly I was very skeptical as I had been told that about other horse disciplines and rarely found it to be true. Not this time though! Everyone I spoke to, from the German guy who has competed at Bromont (no clue what his name was but everyone else seemed to know him), to the older lady who had just completed her first dressage test in 18 years, was not only pleasant and polite, but was genuinely nice and helpful. I had a mini panic attack when it was time to tack up and I had no clue where to put my bridle number. Google brought up anything from “always on the left” to “always on the right” to “whichever side will face the judge at C on your first turn”. I finally just stopped a lady walking by and asked and she said she always puts hers on the right, so I did. (Later Trainer said she always does it on the left, so I am thinking it honestly doesn’t matter).

Even the ring stewards were overly friendly. By the time my division went it had been a long and hot day for everyone and yet the dressage steward took the extra time to pluck the grass out of Gem’s mouth to make her look pretty for the judge and came over to me after the test telling me I looked good int he test and hoping I came back for more in the future. The jump steward was hilarious and kept me calm. It was an amazing experience filled with people who were out there doing what they loved. Even those who had a bad round just chalked it up to a bad day, still smiled and went on to watch and encourage others.

Coming from the world of endurance where people are oh so happy to put the word “just” in front of limited distance or claim you aren’t doing real endurance if it isn’t a 50 miler (something that really really really pisses me off), being in the amoeba division and having those from the earlier intermediate division come over and congratulate me and comment on my mare was refreshing. Maybe this attitude goes away at recognized trials, but there was never once a feeling of being thought of as less due to the division I chose to compete it. Everyone was happy that people were out doing what they enjoy doing with their horse.

Second, this sport has so much potential that I felt even more energized and motivated after than before. I want to improve. I want to grow. I want to go out there and kick some major butt and do it all over again. In fact, had we not been the very last division, I would have easily dropped the money to add in another jump round or two. I loved it. Loved, loved loved.

There was a third, but now I forget what it was. Basically, I achieved all my pre show goals, I’ve fallen in love with this sport, Gem was happy and relaxed the entire day and looked gorgeous all dolled up with her mane in a braid and I felt really proud of what we accomplished by the end of the day. I have a ton of home work to work on, I can’t wait until my next lesson to talk to Trainer about my new goals and see what the future holds for us.

Competition, Uncategorized

Full Gallop Farm CT: Stadium

Backing up in time a bit:

After I had checked out the goings on in the dressage end of things, I spent a solid hour watching stadium. The last few intermediate riders were going and the course map looked like the same for every level, but different heights. I stood there and memorized the course while slowly trying not to let my head spin out of control as I stared at jump 4.

I promptly texted Trainer that I was going to die and asked her if she wanted me to will her Gem. She laughed and told me to add more leg

The rest of the course looked doable, or at least it would be once they lowered them all to 18″ crossrails as the flyer promised. I also noticed that the arena was very large and super spread out. There was plenty of room for approaches and only one jump, #8, had any related distance at all. At the higher levels and for those who cantered, the course had some really tight turns but I completely failed to snap a picture of the course map.

Ok… back to after dressage:

Stadium was slated for 1:45-2pm with any order of go. I was first up in dressage and didn’t even finish until after stadium was open. I was glad that they had a big window and not a dedicated time so I could change tack and warm up without rushing too much.

The jump warm up arena was down by dressage and had 4 fences set up: a cross rail on either side and two verticals in the middle. The steward informed me that I was the only one around. After popping over the cross rails a couple times, I called it enough. My head was starting to pound and  both Gem and I were tired of the blazing sun beating down on us. It was time to go.

Dusty stood farther away and so the screenshots I tried to grab aren’t very good, but the video is at the end too. I advise watching it on something you can fast forward because there is a lot of open space and trotting it takes a while.

Jump 1 was a friendly cross rail with no filler or decorations. I was way past nervous and literally begged Gem to jump it as we approached. She did begin to hesitate, but once I put my legs on she was game enough. Good girl. We were on a roll!

For the first time ever jumps looked small to me and I was wishing I was doing the tadpole 2’3″ division instead. If you all knew me in real life you would know what a cosmic shift in reality that truly is.

It was a long way around the outside of #9 to get to fence 2 which was also a friendly bland cross rail. If it had been later in the course I would have let her canter it, but my death grip was still in full force and I was faking a smile which looked much more like a grimace. She went over without a second thought.

It was a quick right hand turn to fence three set up on the short side across the arena. Same old song though: minimally decorated cross rail and no issue from Gem.

But then it was to fence 4….the train. The entire day my mind kept going back to that darn train. Would she go over it? The approach wasn’t the greatest either and there were a lot of refusals here. Once you went over 3 it was a sharp left and only a quarter of an arena width to 4. Now if I was educated at all I could tell you in strides what that was, but I was trotting and didn’t pay attention to that. Anyway, it came up fast after the sharp left and caught horses off guard.

Gem wasn’t immune to it either. It didn’t help that the cross rails only class ended up with verticals too and the train was the first one. They left the solid red board up and Gem had never jumped anything solid ever. She hesitated hard, came to a walk and then just stepped over it like it barely existed.

Yup, we literally walked over the jump. Maybe it is time to introduce some height?

I was elated that we made it over the train, but I also knew that we had the rest of the course to do and they got more difficult as it went. Fence four was a pretty butterfly jump that also had a solid board. What happened to cross rails only?

I was a bit surprised that Gem hesitated more at this than the train, maybe it was the bright colors, and I think she basically walked this one too.

Six was a long trot back around 9 to the left and taking it coming back towards home. It was a cute little wishing well and I don’t have a decent enough shot of it to make it worth posting, but by this point things just clicked for us. She was finally game on and looking towards the jumps and I was finally loosening my death grip. I started to smile for real too and as I made my very slow way around 9 and past the jump judge I heard them comment about me looking like I was having fun finally.

And the truth was that I was having fun!

Jump seven was a nice pink and grey vertical. Gem jumped it the best yet on course and looking at the screen shot I can see why. My position actually looks like I know how to jump and I’m no longer holding her back.

Fence 8 had an A and B element which was being ridden as a 2 stride at a canter and who knows what at a trot. It was back to being a plain cross rail and I knew Gem would be just fine. 

Fence 9 was the farthest out from where Dusty stood by the in gate and again the picture isn’t worth posting but it was another vertical but this time was three poles high and I am pretty sure was over 18″ because I don’t see how you can stack three poles and only be at 18″ and it looked much bigger than the rest of the course. It jumped straight forward though and by this time we were both in sync and game on.

But then it was over and all I wanted to do was keep jumping. Now that is an amazing feeling.

Here is the video:

Truth is Gem doesn’t jump well because of me. I mean, she definitely will run out or stop if you don’t keep your leg on and let her know you actually want to jump. If she has the slightest out, she will take it no doubt about it. However, when I’m riding her it feels like we are going a million miles an hour but watching the video afterward we could have walked over each jump and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. I really need to let go and trust her more. She is a super great jumper in the sense that she won’t expend the energy to over jump, but also won’t hit a rail if she can help it.

Anyway, I walked her back out the gate and was so thrilled with the entire day. We made it through and didn’t make complete fools of ourselves and didn’t get eliminated!

We were all hot and getting headaches by this time, so I untacked Gem then quickly changed out of my show clothes. She got a sponge bath and walked over to the water trough before I shoved her full of crack cookies and smothered her in hugs as I took her braids out.

My head was really starting to pound by this point and I realized I hadn’t put anything solid in me since getting up at 6 am. Not smart. I hid in the air conditioning in the truck while the class finished and then got my scores and placing.

One of the women ahead of me after dressage had 12 faults in stadium so I moved up to 4th and was so happy to grab my white ribbon and dressage score sheet. I was so proud of both of us! And I didn’t have to be called a loser by my son as I now had my ribbon in hand.

There are so many thoughts to share about this experience and where I’d like to go from here so stay tuned for some posts coming up about that. For the first time in a long time I am really excited for my future with Gem and I can’t wait to tackle it all head on. With the changes I’ve seen in both of us in 4 short months, I can’t even imagine what we could be a year from now.  All I have to say is Bring It!!

Competition, Uncategorized

Full Gallop Farm CT: Dressage

We got to the venue entirely too early: 9 am for a 1:18 pm dressage time. Trainer had recommended getting there at 10:30 but I’m way too high strung and decided to leave earlier. Yeah, not doing that again.

My crazy Arabian endurance horse spent her 4 hours napping and shoving her face full of hay.

One of my biggest concerns was all the logistics, so as soon as we arrived I immediately signed in then headed to the dressage arena to get a look around. I had 4 hours to kill and it was heating up fast with no shade in sight.

Dressage was in a spare grass paddock with the warm up ring in the neighboring one. The judge was sitting at C in a white pick up truck using the horn as the start signal. I watched a few riders go paying attention to when they entered the ring, how they went around and when they exited after their test. After that I wandered around the rest of the grounds.

The dressage warm up area. It was really spacious and did double duty as warm up and waiting area. Even with a bunch of people just standing waiting to go and those warming up there was still a ton of room
The dressage court. I was a tiny bit nervous going on grass since we have never done that before, but it was actually nicer than a regular sand arena.

Killing 4 hours on a very hot (upper 80s with high humidity), sunny day with a toddler and no friends around isn’t really that enjoyable. By the time the clock said 12pm I was more than ready to get on and ride.

I tacked her up and she looked really gorgeous in the dressage gear. Her mane had been braided the night before and miraculously (well with the help of half a bottle of Quick Braid) stayed in. I just stood back and stared at her for a long while. Gemmie has a special place in my heart and soul.

I can’t believe how very much proper we look! I opted to go very conservative in my attire with the exception of a beautiful belt I found at the tack store last minute. Just enough color to be pretty but not annoying. I had brought my white breeches too but wimped out of wearing them when I realized the night before that all my underwear showed through. 

I was worried she would be a bit high strung walking down to the arena: the path led from the trailer parking, past the stalls, by the jump arena and ended at the two warm up arenas and dressage court. It was a very busy walk. I shouldn’t have worried. She was a saint.

By the time I began my warm up at around 12:30 pm my shirt was sticking to me and sweat was pouring down my face. I worked on halting first since that has been a big issue. Gem has really come around nicely and will now halt with just the slightest request. I’m loving it!!!

I offered her up a drink knowing she had to be as thirsty as I was. She took a sip and promptly spooked at who knows what in her reflection. Maybe she noticed how proper she looked versus her typical endurance wild self and got scared.
I was glad that the warm up area shared the same views as the dressage court would. Gem was able to look at the cross country course where people were schooling.

After that I worked on bend a little. I’m not that great at it and really need to focus on that. She is more like a surf board than a living being with joints. Anyway…I kinda ran out of things to do. It was really hot and she was sweating after working on all that and I wanted her to be fresh but relaxed in the test. With still 20 minutes to go, I hung out at the fence talking to Dusty and my parents who made the drive to watch me ride. I really appreciated them coming specially since all things horse isn’t really their thing.

Wyatt had everyone in tears with laughter. He is just starting to really understand winning and losing. I was halfway across the field when he yelled out “Hey Mommie, are you going to win? Will you get a ribbon? If not does that make you a loser? Don’t be a loser Mommie!” Great support staff I have
Waiting at the gate to enter as I run through the test in my head one last time and try not to vomit. I’ve never been so nauseous on a horse before. Looking back I know it was partly nerves but it was a great deal more the fact that I had eaten exactly nothing all day and drank not nearly enough for the time spent in the heat and sun. My throbbing head by 3 pm let me know I wasn’t doing so good at self care.  I also love Gem’s face in this picture. 

At 1:26 they finally told me it was my turn up next. I’m not sure how these things typically go, but figured 8 minutes late wasn’t so bad. It was around 1:35 when I started.

I spent a bunch of time making a fancy video with all the scores and comments on it. Then I promptly didn’t save it correctly and now I’m too frustrated to do it again. Instead I’ll just run through it here and put the video at the end.

Intro Test B:

When I entered the dressage court, I made Gem walk around the outside and past the judge truck to say hello. I kept her sedate and calm preferring to have to wake her up than wrestle her back down. The judge was super nice and asked if I was ready to which I replied that I never would be so go ahead whenever she wanted. She laughed and honked the horn when we were at E going away from her. At that point I picked up the trot and rode to A where we turned and entered. Gem was moving forward a little behind me, but was relaxed and honestly with how tense I was she was doing a great job at ignoring my negative energy. I asked her to walk about 2-3 strides out of X then she halted. I saluted too soon and she moved during it which just made my stomach tighten since this was the very start of the test.

6.5: straight at centerline, needs immobility at halt

I ignored it the best I could and asked her to trot on to C where we made a left turn and wandered down to E. Gem tried to spook a bit at the flowers, but I put my legs on her and she got the memo that I meant business.

6.5: needs inside leg for bend in the turn

I took a big deep breath here to try to relax in preparation for the 20 meter circle at E. left is our stiffer side (or so I thought) and I needed her to relax as much as possible. Gem was being so insanely good too. She kept the same rhythm throughout without me having to do much nagging or bringing her back. It was just really pleasant to ride.

I tried really hard to look around my circle although I have a habit of not looking far enough ahead. Gem felt much more rigid than she apparently looked to the judge. The circle I was trying hard at keeping large and round was not such a big hit though.

6.5: watch the shape and size of circle. 

My head is looking around the circle, but my body is most definitely telling her to travel straight. Much work to do here!

When we got back to the rail I made certain to straighten up when my body hit E. Trainer had made a big deal about me not ending my circle before then and I wanted to be as accurate as I could be. From there we traveled to the corner where I used it to help her transition to the medium walk between K and A. She listened really well and walked straight off. I was really proud of myself when she started to build as we got to A and I used a half halt to maintain the walk. Trainer is always getting on me for reacting before Gem speeds up instead of waiting until after we are trotting.

6.5: willing 

You can see how tense I am here but my heels are down and my leg is under me so that’s a win in my book!

F came up quickly and it was time for the free walk. I had practiced it a little in warm up and Trainer’s advice rang in my ears: don’t let her break to trot, it is better to be boring and walk than flashy and break. Well, I didn’t go for glory here at all but I think Gem was tired of my tension and she broke to trot twice across the diagonal. It really hurt my psyche to have her do so halfway through the test but I put it out of my mind and moved on to the next one.

5.5: trotting

This screenshot is during one of her trot breaks. I tried to open and lower my hands but she trotted each time. You can still how how tense I was. No wonder she trotted!

Once we were back at E and on the rail I “picked up the contact” and went back to medium walk. Really there wasn’t much difference.

7.0: fair march

The corner came up and I used it to make the transition to trot which she did immediately. Her transitions are really just becoming sharper and sharper without the shuffling steps leading up to and out of them.

7.0: obedient

The right 20 meter circle has always come easier mostly because my right leg isn’t as useless as my left so I tend to have at least a hint of inside leg. We made it around without losing our rhythm which was my main goal.

6.0: needs inside bend

I was really surprised that the right scored less than the left but looking at the video I understand why. Also, from the get go my circle was not very circle like

Back at B and it was a straight trot back to center line at A followed by our last halt and salute.

7.0: overshot centerline, halt almost square

All the above photos were taken as screen shots from the below video. I was really, really happy with Gem. I mean, she did exactly as I asked without any shenanigans or issues at all. I was way too tense and lacked any bend in my own body, so I can’t expect her to be Mrs Bendy herself.

I found out later that we had scored 33.44  which put us in 5th of 9 riders.  Scores ranged from 26-39 so it seemed like the judge was nailing some things hard and being rewarding with others. ​​​Having never done this before I’m not sure what to make of the actual score. Trainer was really happy with it when I texted her my sheet later in the day.

For collectives:
Gaits: 7.0
Impulsion: 7.0
Submission: 7.0
Rider’s Position: 7.0
Rider’s Effectiveness of Aids: 6.5 – use inside leg for bend and balance especially in circles and turns
Geometry and Accuracy: 6.0 – work on riding correct figure

Seeing a 7.0 on all of Gem’s stuff and on my position made my entire day. The rest I can work on and improve but seeing that she didn’t ding Gem for poor movement or anything was a big confidence booster. Plus my position has always been something I am self conscious about so getting a 7 on that made me smile big time. And then there is the little Gem on the back right corner of the test: Excellent first test ever!!!!


​Once I was out of there I headed straight back to the trailer to change her tack out. It was already 1:45 pm and stadium was beginning. I didn’t even think to look at scores. It just wasn’t important to me.


Gem’s opinion of dressage.


Full Gallop Farm CT: Preview

There are so many things slamming against the inside of my skull and I’m too tired to sort through it all and give it the time it deserves. 

The CT was a success in pretty much every aspect and then some! I had an absolute blast and learned a ton. 

The husband was on media duty and got some nice videos and a few pictures. Most will be screen shots from the videos and I still need to figure out how to do that nifty editing to get the score on the video in real time. Once I do, I’ll write up full posts on each phase. 

But….to not have undo drama waiting for the end…..

We got 4th out of 9!! And they weren’t all little kids!!!!!

Stay tuned for details to come!

Competition, Uncategorized

Show Goals

Ride times were supposed to be posted Wednesday (yesterday) and I only checked it about 100 times throughout the day only to be disappointed each time when nothing was listed. Then again today I have been feverishly checking a million times. Ugh. Why aren’t they listed?!?! The information says they will be and if I don’t have internet I am to call no earlier than this evening, so maybe they will still post them yet.

Love this gorgeous face
Not only am I excited and nervous and hoping my entry went through all right, but my ride times actually matter in my planning. The venue is 2 hours away and Gem can handle the haul no problem. We have done way farther than that for endurance rides. he issue is me. I want to have enough time Sunday to prepare and walk my course without feeling rushed and adding to my already very anxious nature before a competition, even one with the goals I will get to in a minute. If my ride is in the morning, I will go there Saturday night (I already paid for a stall just in case), so that I can get acclimated to the venue and braid Gemmie at night hoping she stays clean and braided for the morning. If however the rides are in the afternoon, I can avoid sleeping in my truck and the overnight away from family and get up and go that morning.


Ok….mini, stress induced melt down over.

Found a local taco place downtown. After eating real tacos in San Diego with L from Viva Carlos, I had to try them. No where near as good, but decent.
Back to the purpose of this post: Show Goals.

I’m not a big goal setter. It is probably a personality flaw or something, but it is what it is. In endurance, my only goal was to not fall off and complete. I fell off at my first 25 and my first 50, so those went out the window. Thankfully I stayed put for the 100 and all the other rides I did in between.

Going into this show, my first ever actual horse show experience, I have some things I would like to walk away with:

  1. Figure out if this is what I want to do.  It is a CT and a small schooling one a that, but I am hoping it gives me a taste of what it is all about. I want to walk away knowing if this is something I want to continue to pursue or if I need to go back to the drawing board.
  2. Have fun. Sounds simple, but I’m actually not that good at having fun at events. I enjoyed my first LD a lot, hated my second and third. My first 50 was a mess, but I loved the second and adored the 100. So we will see.
  3. Complete.  This may sound stuck up or whatever, but I am not worried about our performance. I know our weaknesses are plenty and we have only been doing this for a very, very short period of time. I know we can do walk and trot, how pretty it is doesn’t really matter at the moment, and after my last schooling ride I am fairly confident Gem can jump 8-10 18″ cross rails without killing either of us. What I am worried about is breaking some rule I am unaware of and getting eliminated or refusing a ton and getting eliminated or falling off and getting eliminated. I just want to finish both phases, please.
  4. Maintain Gem’s new relaxed zen.  I wish I had some video or photographic proof of how tense and racing Gem used to be. It was awful. Ever since I started lessons, she has just been so chill about everything. There are a million things to say about it which don’t belong here, but it is something I have zero interest in ruining. No matter what happens, I want Gem to remain relaxed and calm and leave happy.

That’s about it. I’d love it if I showed up and there was someone else above the age of 10 in my amoeba level class, but I don’t have high hopes for that. I have zero goals about being competitive, but I wont feel bad beating a 6 year old either.

Now if only my entry status, ride times and stabling assignment would show up online I would be able to calm the heck down and focus on the lovely hay delivery I am getting tomorrow.

How I am feeling right now. A little sideways and a little giddy. This is also why I have little media. The hubby’s pictures are unusual.