Folks, if the first part of my day was one big giant cluster, the second part was my redemption. It was glorious. I’m still grinning. My face hurts. I don’t care.
Eeyore fell asleep at the trailer and napped away our two hour break between phases while I hydrated, ate fruit snacks and wondered why I was there.
I got back on him 25 minutes before my jump time and did a brief flat warm up before popping over the cross rail, carefully avoiding the large ascending oxer in the middle of the three warm up options. He was so much better behaved mostly because he was tired but also because I had my beloved Pessoa back on. I love this bit because it allows me to talk quietly to him and then shut up and he is so much lighter and more responsive.
Anyway…I was happy with my cross rail warm up but then Trainer AB showed up and pointed me at the middle oxer. A quick reminder to her that she has not yet had me doing oxers in lessons was met with a shrug and a “nows a good time”.
The warm up then became a mini lesson where she had me coming at the oxer at a canter on a left lead but then landing and making the sharp right turn to come back at it off the right lead making a left bend at the landing. It was hard for the fact that it was a sharp turn and there were other people to avoid but it also got me sitting up, looking where I wanted to go way earlier than I normally do, and riding more aggressively before and after the oxer.
We left warm up ready to go and headed to the ring with two ahead of me.
I then proceeded to have the best jump round of my life. It was AMAZING. We cantered every fence with only two breaks to trot when I wasn’t sure we were on the correct lead and a sharp turn was coming up, but instead of trotting the fence I picked the canter right back up.
I have never had a round like that. He was easy to rate, game to go over everything and felt perfect. We hit 5 hard when he got a bit lazy and I caught myself looking back at it which is stupid. I yelled at myself though and got my eyes back on 6 before it was an issue. We were clean and we were under time for a double clear stadium round at height and with a lot of filler.
I left that arena grinning and met Trainer AB at the rail with an even bigger grin on her face. The round was not perfect but damn was it close enough for me. It was everything folks. Everything.
It also brought us up from last to 7th out of 11. Not too shabby after all. One more love higher and we’d have come home with a ribbon.
Eeyore got all the pats, half a bag of Nicker Makers and put on the trailer to rest and eat hay while we waited another couple hours before M had a jumper round on one of Trainer’s lesson horses, a gorgeous grey mustang with ice blue eyes. M had told me one of her bucket list items was to do a show here and while we couldn’t make a full show happen, Trainer was nice enough to offer him for the jumper round, bring him and stay the extra two hours to wait for her to go. She is an amazing woman.
I have soooooo many thoughts to share but for now all I’m going to say is that Eeyore gives me wings. He isn’t easy, but damn that horse folks. I can’t imagine having another in my barn in his place. I adore him and he isn’t going anywhere even if he hates dressage.
It all started with this text on Thursday with my Farrier:
I had hoped to sneak out of work a little early on Friday to do all my show prep: clean my tack, ride Eeyore in his dressage legal bit for the first time in months, set up my dressage court to run through my test at least once before the show, pack, bathe the beast etc….
Except I didn’t get out early. In fact I got out later than ever. Ok. No big deal. It stays light later I could still sneak in a short ride.
So there I was at 5:15pm the evening before the show putting a hoof boot on my horse and throwing all my plans to ride out the window.
I called the show office but no farrier was scheduled to be there the next day. My farrier could not come out that evening and Trainer didn’t get a response from hers. It looked like the show was a scratch so I did what every good horsewoman in this situation would do: I went to Tipsy Taco to drown my sorrow in queso.
While there a friend called me to tell me that she got in touch with her farrier for me and he was happy to meet me and tack back on the shoe, which I fortunately found in the pasture. God, I love horse people.
This did mean that I needed to switch back into horse show mentality at 8:30pm. I had a disgusting horse that hadn’t been ridden since Tuesday, muddy tack, an unpacked trailer and only a vague sense of my dressage test. I went home and went to bed.
The next morning I did my best to knock the two inch thick layer of grime off my disgusting horse, roughly cleaned my tack and threw everything in the trailer so I could meet the farrier at 8:30 am. My dressage time was 10:58 am and I planned to get on at 10:15 am. The farrier arrived right on time, tacked it back on in 15 seconds (omg but Eeyore was the best boy! I have to write an entire post on how great he was at this show in general) and then spent 30 minutes discussing biomechanics and his hooves. Which, great. I love the education but I have to show and I don’t have time for this right now.
At this point I figured we were a go for this show and all the gremlins were exhausted. Hahahahahahah. Nope.
When I went to check in, I walked past Trainer and said hello. I mentioned that perhaps I didn’t dress appropriately. You see, I had grabbed my dark green tights in the pitch black of my room trying not to wake the hubby that morning and while I did have my white show shirt and coat it really wasn’t a great dressage picture. Plus every single other person was in white or tan. This was a schooling show and I’m sure they wouldn’t have said anything but I really stuck out like the red headed step child.
Of course this is Trainer and she just said “go find my trailer. I have tan breeches inside”. Which then led to a 20 minute hunt for a trailer I only vaguely remembered. Eventually I sorta guessed which was hers. I laughed as I slid into a pair of tan breeches I found and hoped I hadn’t just stolen pants from a stranger.
At this point it was 950 and I had wanted to be on by 10:15. I still had to tack up and change into my show shirt/coat and my nerves were shot. I managed to get on him in time, but then realized I forgot my gloves and just said screw it.
I ran into Bette at this point and jokingly said something along the lines of getting all the issues out before I mounted so now the ride would be amazing.
Someone. Please. Make. Me. Stop.
I’m going to blame a lot of the warm up on me. Is there a class on how to deal with it? I get soooo tense. I hate it. One person claims the entire far end with her trainer and stays on a circle that you can’t get around. Another person is doing a huge figure 8 that is sorta haphazard so no matter what I did I’m cutting her off. Others are zig zagging. At one point I just halted in the center and hyperventilated. I was doing my best to pass left shoulder to left shoulder but people were going right and hugging the rail which made it impossible and I froze.
Which obviously was great on my wound up, hadn’t been ridden in forever horse who doesn’t handle warm up all that well himself.
At this point I saw Trainer waving to me at the rail. I made my way over and she offered to get on and canter him around. I asked if that was legal and she said it was fine. I wasn’t so sure but I was happy to hand him over.
And then he promptly bucked her off.
Want to feel smaller than small? Have your horse throw your Trainer in the dirt in a crowded warm up when you aren’t really sure she was actually allowed to even be on him in the first place.
This show was going super.
She got back on, rode him hard, he looked like he regretted his life decisions hard core and then she gave him back to me. Thankfully by this point there were only a few people left in the warm up arena, so I kept my brain from melting and we actually had a decent warm up.
Before long we entered at A and laid down the worst dressage test in history. It isn’t even worth a play by play.
On the plus side we did do all the things we were supposed to do when we were suppose to do them. Even the odd canter circles at A which aren’t done fully at the canter. We got both our leads correctly, didn’t canter the entire test and stayed inside the white fence. All base line good things.
We also went around counterbent as he gawked at the jumper ring next door, pretended to be afraid of the rail/letters and remained tense. I knew we’d get dinged for not being on the rail, but I also knew that putting my inside leg on to shove his orange butt over would break him to canter and I decided to take the hit on my track versus breaking gait.
We scored 43.3. Ouch. All comments were either “not on rail” or “counterbent”. End comments were “score will lower once proper bend and track achieved”. Which. Yup. Can’t argue that.
Trainer said it’s time to learn shoulder something. Fore? In? Can’t remember at the moment. But she said it would help with his penchant for going around looking outside the arena the entire time. I also want to discuss the bit options with her. I hate this full cheek. He completely blows me off and I have zero half halt or ability to get him round. Yes, I know bits aren’t magical and it is a rider issue. He goes so lovely and round in the Pessoa and I feel like I can talk to him then become quiet in that bit versus screaming and him still putting his hooves in his ears and going “lalalalalalla I can’t hear you“ in the full cheek. But sadly the Pessoa isn’t dressage legal so I’m going to talk to Trainer about it and see what my options are.
Anyway here is the video if you want to see it in all its three minute glory
I went back to the trailer to let us both rest before our stadium round at 12:55 and contemplated if he was the right horse for me after all, if Eventing was the right discipline and if maybe I shouldn’t have even come.
After having a month off with only one Trainer ride during that time, Eeyore is officially back to work. He looked a little puzzled when, after a good grooming Saturday, I grabbed my tack instead of a handful of treats. Sorry Buddy, it’s March and time to get back to work.
It started with a lesson Saturday late afternoon. Honestly, after me not riding him for a month I expected a pretty bad go at it. The horse I had a year ago would have been unrideable or at least not rideable in any productive way. But the horse I have now? He had his opinions and lost a lot of flexibility at the trot, but all in all he got to work and we picked up nearly where we had left off.
The lesson was pretty straight forward and was focused on waking us both back up and shaking off the cob webs. After working on a 20m circle w/t/c we moved to jumping and warmed up over a one stride cross rail to vertical combination.
Eeyore was pretty high on life at that point and we flailed a good bit but we managed to graduate from that to our three jump course of verticals set on a very sharp “S” curve with the focus on getting the proper approach to each and not losing the balance or momentum through the steep turns.
We did ok the first time through and even better the second and then she called it quits and sent us up to the dressage arena to walk through Intro C (which sucks BTW, what is up with the canter circles not done fully at the canter?!). The take aways from the lesson were the same as always: sit UP for the love of all things and be more precise with my aides. I tend to ask and keep asking which allows him to ignore me. She wants me to ask clearly and then stop and ask again if needed. Things I know and forget all the time.
It was the best lesson I could have hoped for after a month break from the saddle and I’m so happy with Eeyore. I signed up for a CT on Saturday at starter and I feel like we have a shot at not embarrassing ourselves. Currently Trainer has it in her head that I’m going to do the starter CT and then end with a jumper round or two at BN but we will see.
Then on Sunday morning Emma came to visit!!!! She was on her way home and swung by for a bit to meet and hang out. I was sooooo excited to finally meet her. She was the very first blogger I followed and I doubted we’d ever meet with her living so far away.
I quickly hopped on Eeyore to make sure he wasn’t going to be too extra then handed the reins off to Emma to try him out. It’s always interesting for me to hear other people’s take on him. With anyone new he pulls out his favorite evasion to work which is just to canter everywhere and the ride becomes a jumble of gaits and mishmash of pace and loss of rhythm but she handled it well and soon he knocked it off and got down to business.
When she had enough Orange Fun I got back on and hopped him over a couple jumps to show how happy he is to jump. We kinda biffed every single one but I wasn’t riding all that great and was just having fun.
It was awesome to get to meet Emma, the morning was gorgeous and I absolutely love watching others ride my horse. Not everyone feels that way and that’s fine, but for me? I’ll share the ride any time.
Eeyore’s break is officially over. Hopefully the show runs this weekend. Rain is in the forecast pretty much every single day now through next Monday so I’m not sure how that will go but we will do our best to be ready for it if it does run. If it is canceled we will re route to the Riverbend fun schooling hunter jumper show the following weekend.
While it isn’t feasible for us, monetarily or time wise, to show M the entire USA, I have been trying my best to fit in ways to show off some of the different parts of the east coast. She knows SC well and has been up to NC many times. We managed to sneak in a work trip to FL in the fall to show her the Gulf Coast and the Everglades which was unexpected. She is an avid skier, spending a week every February traveling to Austria/Germany/Italy to ski, and I started thinking that maybe we could manage a short trip up north somewhere to get her a tiny taste of American skiing. It wouldn’t be as nice as going to Colorado, but it was better than nothing.
I made plans way back in December for the end of February which was nice because then I snagged a pair of ski bibs and a nice coat for Wyatt for Christmas which he enjoyed getting once he realized what they were for. Those plans ended up dying the week of the trip which sucked a tad because then I had to eat my deposit, but a quick google search found a great spot closer to home and since it was the weekend after a holiday weekend, rooms were still available.
We grabbed the kids from school at lunch time on Friday so that it would still count as a full day of school for them and made the drive to Massanutten Virginia arriving just after dinner time. We checked into the two bedroom townhouse and settled in for the night.
The next morning we hit the ski slopes as soon as they opened. I hadn’t been on a pair of skis since 2004, Dusty the same, and Wyatt…never. But we had a near pro with us in M and figured she would help us out. It took no time to snag all the rental gear and make our way to the bunny hill.
We ended up staying out there skiing for 4 hours before we were all tired and cold. The day was near perfect with crisp blue skies and a high of 35F, but they ran the snow makers non stop and the icy mix coated you in seconds.
We handed back in the ski gear at 1230pm and headed back to the townhouse to change into….swim gear!
The afternoon was then spent at the indoor water park until we were all exhausted, dehydrated and starving.
I had spied a nice looking Italian Bistro on the drive up the mountain and we headed there for dinner once we were worn out from the tubes and slides. Dinner did not disappoint and we all crashed that night pretty early.
We left bright and early the next day and made it home around lunch time. We all laughed when we got out of the van into a 60F and sunny day. Why did we leave the warmth to go to the cold?? It was awesome though and worth the shivering.
After a quick nap, I jumped on the tractor to drag the arena for the first time since November then mowed all the non pasture grass we have as well. I would have loved to get the first pasture mowing done, but the big field takes 6 hours and I didn’t have close to that much time. The weather called for rain Mon-Thursday (which is proving true, ugh) which will limit the ability to work on the farm for a while again.
It was a perfect mini trip. The drive up was gorgeous, the resort perfect for our needs, everyone had fun and nobody got hurt. All my recent work related stress was long forgotten and honestly I feel so much and more refreshed for it. Now for the rain to stop so I can ride my beast before the CT on the 14th that I am signed up for!
It happens to me every winter. I get burnt out. Tired of riding in the cold and dark. Tired of dodging rain storms. Tired of sloppy footing. Tired of five layers and feeling like a marshmallow.
Typically it comes in January as the days are short and cold but January was pretty mild this year. I rode religiously all month between rain storms. February has come though and brought my seasonal malaise along with it.
I haven’t ridden since the WR cross country outing and feel no motivation to do so. In years past I’d get angry with myself for this hiatus in riding. I’d silently scold myself for another day not spent in the saddle. Having a blog though allows me to spot trends and having noted that every year as winter wears thin and spring is about to bud I take a month off, well this year I’m allowing it with patience.
Spring is in the air. I can feel it in the slightly warmer sun rays, hear it in the increasing bird song and smell it in the wet earth. The days are growing slowly longer, the rain is still present but the ground is recovering quicker after each downpour. Soon, my favorite time of the year will explode around me and I’ll get a fresh breath of motivation.
I’ll ride with vigor until the end of summer when I’ll take another break as I burn out from riding in the heat, fighting hydration and hard ground. As I quickly approach 40, I’m learning to listen to my body as it tells me what it needs. Right now it needs spring. Until that comes it needs a break from the rigors of pushing through.
Eeyore is not the same horse coming into spring 2020 as he was spring 2019. His training is more solid, his antics less scary. Trainer hopped on him last weekend for the first time in over 2 months and was very pleased with the horse she found under her. He was lighter in the bridle, more balanced and a touch off the forehand. That was after 2 weeks of complete rest.
We will need a bit of a tune up and a lot of conditioning work once things get back in full swing, but I’m confident that all the work in 2019 will pay off. Until I’m ready to swing my leg back over my bestest orange buddy, I’m enjoying other aspects of life and he is enjoying a short break to eat the early spring grass and pick on Pete.
It is a normal occurrence to receive a cute picture of a litter of pups the Hubby is working on during the day. I love getting these since all I see are feet and lets face it…feet aren’t cute. Typically I respond with an “awe…can we have one” and get a “no way!” in response. I don’t actually want or need a puppy in my life, so this is more a ritual than a true asking. Unless it was a basset hound. Then that sucker would be mine…all mine!!! Dusty is smart enough never to show me a litter of bassets though and I’ve come to terms with the fact that a basset hound would not fit our lifestyle one bit and will have to wait until we sell the farm and move back to suburbia 20 years from now. Sigh.
When I arrived at the vet hospital for Eeyore Friday, I was met with an onslaught of texts from the Hubby showing off a litter of standard poodle pups. Only this time it was followed by him asking me if we could take the only one that didn’t have a home yet. Uh..what world am I living in? Beyond Einstein, Hubby has never asked for a pup in the 16 years I have known him. All our animals are my doing. I was shocked.
What could I say? I mean, a) puppy and b) this was the hubby asking. If he was asking, he must really really want this pup, so I said sure thinking surely this was a joke.
But I was wrong. Next thing I knew we were scheduling a time to go meet the pup on Sunday at the obscene hour of 9 am. I knew the Hubby was excited if he was planning on wrangling all four of us out of the house on a Sunday morning that early. I’m always up by 7 am but Sundays are my lazy days and I usually stay in my pjs until lunch when I have to get clothes on to grocery shop.
Instead I was marched out of the house on a cold, foggy morning and off to meet the pup. Dusty knows the breeders well as they are clients of his and he has known the mom and dad of the littler for a few years. He adores them and knew any pups from them would fit in with our clan and lifestyle/dog owner style well.
Of course once we put a puppy in the arms of the 7 year old, it was game over. I did get to meet the mom who was lovely and the dad who was fun and energetic. I’d be happy if the pup ended up with either personality or a combination of both.
His name was Cracker Jack after a Dolly Parton song about a loyal dog, but Wyatt immediately declared him Fluffzilla – a combination of Fluffy and Godzilla – so Fluffzilla it is.
So far his is proving to be quite the little pup. He is brave and bold, friendly and inquisitive. He loves being outside more than in, has gotten along well with our other two and the cats haven’t hissed yet though give them time. He isn’t wild and crazy though and loves a good cuddle. He hasn’t had an accident inside yet, though we are pretty insane about the going outside schedule and take him out every 15 minutes while awake and every 4 hours overnight.
He is sleeping on Wyatt’s bed and snuggles in and lays still until I wake him up at 1 am to go outside and then quickly snuggles again. We are trying to crate train him as I believe every dog should know how to nicely be in a crate if for no other times than when needing to be hospitalized, but he doesn’t like it and cries. Wyatt then sneaks in and removes him from his “prison” so we are trying to crate train both of them. He makes no sound except when in his crate and since I despise barky dogs, this make me very happy indeed.
If he stays true to his parents and his breed, he should fit perfectly. Did we need a third dog? Heck no! Was I in the market for a third dog? No way. The hubby was feeling a bit sad though that Waggy Tails is unable to meet the demands her 7 year old best friend has been putting on her lately. He wants to play with his dog. He wants to throw a ball, play tug and run around. He wants to set up an obstacle course and run through it with his dog. And well, thanks to the accident, Waggy can’t do those things. She tries. She wants to, but after a day of playing she hurts and is down for several.
Getting a dog to play with Wyatt will not only make Wyatt happy, but it will take the strain off Waggy and hopefully keep her more comfortable long term. It absolutely breaks my heart to see her hurting and know it is my fault but I can’t change the past so I am moving on and dealing with it. And Einstein? He doesn’t play. He is sweet and I love my little brown dog, but he is an independent sort and is out of sight the moment the door opens until you call him back inside and then he curls up next to you. He doesn’t play though and pretty much ignores Wyatt.