Boredom sets in

I have no horse to write about (YET. Poor Emily has heard it all…), but I’m bored reading and not actually writing (uh, probably because I have too much free time because see above no horse). So, L’s questions it is.

1. What discipline do you ride? What would you ride if you could pick any other one?

This was fun

Well, I’m an eventer these days. Or was/will be again? An eventer in purgatory? But I grew up riding on the Quarter Horse/Paint circuits showing all-around, using spur stops, wearing ALL THE SPARKLES, and going extremely slow. I’ve also spent a little bit of time in the hunters, the QH hunters (yes, distinguished from the USEF hunters, although not as much now as in the past) and on working cow horses. If I had unlimited time/money/sanity, I’d definitely have a cow horse again.

2. How many horses have you ridden in your entire riding career?

Have no idea who this horse is, but he’s cute? (Also, look, I’ve never remembered to bend my elbows!)

Like… a lot? I sat here and counted off 35 and I’m sure I missed some along the way.


3. Most bizarre activity you’ve done with your/a horse?

SAINT

Poor Lucy has put up with like… everything. I routinely came home from college in the summers and hopped on her bareback with a neckstrap or halter and did dumb stuff like ride her backwards. In a bikini. At a lope. (The only time I’ve ever come off that saint of a mare and she just stood there like, “What did I do to deserve this idiot?”) We also “herded” (um, lacklusterly chased) alpacas around once.

4. Do you consider riding to be your outlet? If yes, why?

Yes… and no? It’s an outlet from work, but my mind also goes 900 miles a minute about horses too, so I’m not sure it’s entirely an outlet. I’m far too competitive as a person for that. But being physically in the barn I might consider to be more of one. Or cleaning tack, sweeping aisles, that kind of thing. Riding uses more of my brain power than I’d like to publicly admit.

5. Have you ever read horse-related magazines? If yes, which one(s)?

All of them? Definitely read Horse Illustrated, Young Rider (I was even in it!), AQHA Journal, Chronicle of the Horse, The Equine Chronicle, Horse Connection (a Colorado/NM local magazine), Practical Horseman… I was even known to pick up a Western Horseman. These days I consume most of my media online, like every other millennial.

6. Most memorable advice given to you?

Yikes, there are a lot. But honestly probably my mom just saying something along the lines of, “it has to be fun.” When it stops being fun, it’s not worth it. But in more practical advice, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. Also, to breathe.

7. Did you ever collect Breyer horse models or similar?

#tbt (also the horse the blog is named after, due to her bald face but dark eyes because she had “mascara” on)

Only somewhere in the range of 150-200 of them, whoops. My mom and I got really, really into model horses for a while (actually mom still is). Lots and lots of Breyers and a large number of Peter Stone models. We actually met Peter Stone and he made my first mare, Coorina, into a model. Every once in a while I see a Coorina model floating around on eBay or something.

8. Favorite “celebrity” horse?

Not a celebrity. No idea why this photo exists, but I’m admittedly not mad that it does. Poor Lucy.

Can I pick Lil Sebastian? If I have to pick a real one, probably Funny Cide, Mr Medicott or Vital Signs Are Good.

9. If you could spend a day learning from any horse person (past or present), who would you choose?

And my mom’s a pretty badass rider, just saying.

I hate these pick one questions. The eventer in me says Ingrid Klimke, the practical person says Sharon White and the girl who grew up on a Quarter Horse says Jack Kyle (who my mom actually rode with growing up).

10. If you could ride in any international arena in the world, where would you choose?

Can I just go hack around at Burghley? Or can I really piss off all the golfers and go ride around Augusta National?

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Retired.

This… just sucks to write. And live. And just general suckage.

Doc’s retired from jumping as of Saturday morning.

Yup, still hurts to say.

What started as an appointment for, “Oh, I think he needs Adequan,” ended with “this horse will never jump again.” Well shit.

In the matter of an hour vet appointment, I managed to cancel two HT entries, a hotel room, an online order, a clinic entry, my team challenge team… nothing but ruthlessly efficient, I guess. And you know, cancel my optimism and dream of galloping through the finish flags at the KHP next month. Told you it sucks.

I went home and ate donuts and pizza and drank and watched TV and slept and tried to avoid looking at all the things all over my kitchen I’d purchased and was organizing to take to Kentucky. After 30 hours of wallowing, I pulled myself together, left the house and tried to be a normal person.

A hot shower, a good night’s sleep thanks to a hefty dose of melatonin, and a yoga class later, I feel a little better. Enough to think about what’s next without wanting to cry.

So next? Finding another horse that’s financially workable (horse shopping with a budget of… nothing is great fun), spending the winter getting to know a new horse, trying not to lose my mind in the meantime… Sounds like a party. A Halloween horror party maybe.

I’m not all doom and gloom. I’m so grateful for everything Doc gave me. I’m 100x the rider I was two and a half years ago. He’s the horse who took me through my first HT, who I jumped 3′ on for the first time, who taught me more nuances and feel than I’d ever imagined. I’m so grateful that we didn’t have the potential catastrophic injury happen on course. I’m thankful for the times he taught me how to let go and go for a gallop and just experience the joy of watching the world thunder by, wind in your ears.

Even if we did have the worst left drift of all time

But I’m also heartbroken I won’t get to have the feeling of taking a horse I trust so intrinsically around a Novice XC course. Of galloping down to a line that scares the hell out of me, only to feel entirely weightless and unable to contain the cheer of excitement on the other side. That I won’t be showing off how damn smart and athletic and funny my big red Saddlebred is at any more events. He may have “just” been a lease, but I love him as much as if he was my own.

And now, we see what’s next.

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Ice, ice baby – or not?

I was recently lamenting to a non-horsey friend about trying to find a pair of ice boots I liked that wouldn’t break the bank. They inquired more about what we used them for and how – and then proceeded to turn my world upside down. I’ve been a loyal ice-er for years of my horses (and self) – not after every ride, but certainly after a XC school, on any soreness, at a HT or a tough jump lesson. It’s good horsemanship, right?

Until she told me I might still be stuck in the 90s and… totally wrong? Apparently the most recent research is showing ice may not be the most beneficial thing for recovery. Think I’m crazy? Me too.

©Megan Allen

Because I’m good at writing about shoes, horses and spending money, but not great at science, I just straight up brought some quotes in to do the talking.

“The rationale behind recovery ice packs, baths and cold tubs goes something like this: the cold stimulates your sympathetic nerve fibers, which react by signaling blood vessels in the area to constrict and send blood back to your core to protect your vital organs. This rush of blood away from the extremities reduces blood flow to the areas you’re icing and slows the metabolic processes in these regions, including the inflammatory response, and thus reduces any swelling that might otherwise happen. The pressure of the water may also provide some compression against your muscles and blood vessels, which could also slow swelling and inflammation. Finally, icing relieves pain by numbing sore areas, at least temporarily… There’s no question that icing can reduce pain, at least temporarily, he told me, but it comes at a cost. “Anything that reduces your immune response will also delay muscle healing,” Mirkin says. “The message is that the cytokines of inflammation are blocked by icing — that’s been shown in several studies.”
Instead of promoting the process of healing and recovery, icing might actually impair it, he says.”

“Athletes love icing sore muscles, but that cold therapy might make things worse” – Washington Post

In other words – sure, ice will numb things, but for how long and at what cost to performance?

“Gary Reinl, a personal trainer and prominent icing skeptic who over the years has worked with professional athletic teams, elite military squads and coaches and trainers around the world, says the problem is that icing merely slows blood flow to the area, it doesn’t halt it indefinitely. Once the icing stops and the blood flow returns to normal, whatever process you were trying to hinder will proceed again. The swelling will continue and the inflammation will start. The only thing you did was delay things, he says.”

“Athletes love icing sore muscles, but that cold therapy might make things worse” – Washington Post

Well. Huh. So I decided not to take this at face value and to use my university journal access to dig myself. And… sure enough, that’s what I found.

“There was marginal evidence that ice plus exercise is most effective, after ankle sprain and postsurgery. There was little evidence to suggest that the addition of ice to compression had any significant effect, but this was restricted to treatment of hospital inpatients. Few studies assessed the effectiveness of ice on closed soft-tissue injury, and there was no evidence of an optimal mode or duration of treatment.” – The use of ice in the treatment of acute soft-tissue injury: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials, American Journal of Sports Medicine

“The authors reported ice to be no more effective than rehabilitation only with regard to pain, swelling, and range of motion. Ice and compression seemed to be significantly more effective than ice alone in terms of decreasing pain. Additionally, ice, compression, and a placebo injection reduced pain more than a placebo injection alone. Lastly, in 8 studies, there seemed to be little difference in the effectiveness of ice and compression compared with compression alone. Only 2 of the 8 groups reported significant differences in favor of ice and compression.” – Does Cryotherapy Improve Outcomes With Soft Tissue Injury?, Journal of Athletic Training

“Cold packs were applied to exercised muscle for 15 minutes at 0, 3, 24, 48, and 72 hours after exercise. The exercise significantly elevated circulating creatine kinase-MB isoform (CK-MB) and myoglobin levels. Unexpectedly, greater elevations in circulating CK-MB and myoglobin above the control level were noted in the cooling trial during 48-72 hours of the post-exercise recovery period. Subjective fatigue feeling was greater at 72 hours after topical cooling compared with controls. Removal of the cold pack also led to a protracted rebound in muscle hemoglobin concentration compared with controls. Measures of interleukin (IL)-8, IL-10, IL-1β, and muscle strength during recovery were not influenced by cooling. A peak shift in IL-12p70 was noted during recovery with topical cooling. These data suggest that topical cooling, a commonly used clinical intervention, seems to not improve but rather delay recovery from eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage.”Topical cooling (icing) delays recovery from eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage, The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

“Significant training effects were three times more frequent in the control than in the cold group, including increases in artery diameters in the control but not in the cold group. It is concluded that training-induced molecular and humoral adjustments, including muscle hyperthermia, are physiological, transient and essential for training effects (myofiber regeneration, muscle hypertrophy and improved blood supply). Cooling generally attenuates these temperature-dependent processes and, in particular, hyperthermia-induced HSP formation.” – Post-exercise leg and forearm flexor muscle cooling in humans attenuates endurance and resistance training effects on muscle performance and on circulatory adaptation, European Journal of Applied Physiology

Similarly, a 2015 study reported on two experiments looking at how cold water immersion influenced how muscles responded to a strength training program, and found that cold treatment reduced gains in muscle mass and strength and blunted the activation of key proteins in the skeletal muscle. The studies “challenge the notion that cold water immersion improves recovery after exercise,” the authors wrote.

“Athletes love icing sore muscles, but that cold therapy might make things worse” – Washington Post

So – definitely a conclusion saying more research is needed, but also not an insignificant amount of research saying that cold might be doing less good than we thought, or even hurting recovery?

Needless to say, this has my little brain spinning. Do I keep using ice? Stop using ice? Only compression? I haven’t come to a complete conclusion yet. Not to mention, a lot of these are talking about muscle recovery – a moot point in horses who have no muscle below the knee.

For now, I’m going to continue to ice after XC schooling and at horse trials, but maybe lay off after any general rides, even if they’re harder jump schools.

Thoughts?

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Peer Pressure

Did I get scolded by Emma and told to blog? Maybeeeee. Am I doing it? Here I am, so… yes. Peer pressure works guys!

That to say – I really want to write a longer version piece of this, but I truly don’t know how balancing being an amateur with competitive goals is a sustainable life. I feel like I’m burning the candle at both ends and then some trying to get everything done. Work has been unbelievably insane the last month (I… can’t even get into it, but when I say insane, so much more than I’ve been through before), plus I’m trying to figure out some long term goals there – and what moves I need to make to get there. Nothing like some fun 75 hour weeks to throw you off your game a bit.

Add in riding. Lessons, schooling, trying to keep Doc conditioned to go run at KHP in October (!!!). Attempting to get to the gym so I don’t die on the XC course.

We got out on the cross country course at the HHP a month ago (omg, I really am behind) which was the final catalyst to send in entries for Midsouth Team Challenge. Emily touched on it recently, but it’s known for being a maxed out for the level, challenging course so I really wanted to make sure it was something we were prepared to handle.

Good news, left drift still going strong

Per usual with Doc… needed have not worried. We played with the water, banks, ditches and strung a whole bunch of things together. The best part? All the BN stuff looked totally do-able and even… small. We spent most of the afternoon jumping around Novice stuff. Stuff I wouldn’t have dreamt of jumping a year ago.

Like this ditch to N rolltop combo
This water was the nastiest water ever haha, but drop into water was a blast

My trainer strung together this bank-ditch-rolltop-sled-coop-hanging log-trakehner course (omg I’m tired reading that) and I’m not gonna lie – that trakehner is a full N/T jump and it made me want to pee my pants a little. Peer pressure hits again? Totally worth it because the best feeling in the world was coming over it after he jumped like a rockstar – felt like I could go conquer the world.

Best combo of the day

Kentucky here we come!

If you’ll be there, come hang out with us – we’ll have food and drinks and ponies aplenty!

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Equestrian Analytics and Data Analysis

In my non-horsey life (wait, there’s a such thing?), I work for a school of medicine doing business intelligence and analytics. Which is a fancy way of saying I play in Excel and SPSS and Tableau and Power BI all day and try to turn our huge data sets of operational, financial and other things into actionable information. Which is another fancy way of saying: numbers.

I play with numbers. I geek out on numbers. It’s no secret I freaking love medicine – working in healthcare is my favorite (for reals if you ever want to talk hospitals, medicine, health policy, come chat with a girl). Now I get to make decisions based on actual data.

I haven’t been cool enough to start playing with horse numbers yet, but I love reading those who have. So here’s my lit review (lolz no) of blogger and other data analysis type projects as they relate to ponies – and if you have more, send ’em my way, both for my entertainment, but also as a way to assemble data in one place for others who may be interested. These are just what I had saved or stumbled across.

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Best for last: Event Camp Day 3

Day three was supposed to be a cross country lesson with Sharon White in the morning and a dressage lesson in the afternoon, but as it turns out, cross country would be our last lesson of the week. That said, as much as the next few days gave me anxiety, knowing it all worked out in the end, this was about as perfect of a cross country lesson to end on!

Sharon is so amazing to ride with – she understands how horse’s think so well, but also gets teaching and explaining things (that first vs second toolkit thing Jen talks about). We did some more practice over the same things we’d done with Courtney the day before – ditches and water – before moving over to the other XC field which is where the fun really began.

I’d mentioned I wanted to work on riding over terrain – get me going downhill and suddenly any nerve I have vanishes into thin air. This would be fine if I planned to only ever event in like… South Dakota. Alas, hills exist.

I honestly can’t remember how we even built up to the entire thing because the last line we rode is probably my favorite thing I’ve ever done and the most badass I’ve ever felt on a horse.

We rode this picture frame to a log on a downhill landing, in and out of the sunken road and a few strides to a blue house of barrels. None of the jumps were huge (BN/N) but it was easily the most technical line we’ve ever ridden.

That afternoon Doc came up sore on a hind leg so that was the end of camp for us (he’s jussttt fine, don’t worry), but what a way to go out.

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Directions are hard: Event Camp Day 2

How far behind at life am I? Well, this post is a month late. Yeah, we went to event camp a month ago and I’m just now getting around to part two. Which means… details are fuzzier. So you might be just getting bullet points (be happy you’re not getting an Excel spreadsheet, since that’s where my brain lives 99.8% of the time).

Days two and three were all about the jompies. We started out with a XC lesson with Courtney Cooper on Tuesday morning, who was great to ride with and I definitely would again. We worked over the trifecta (ditches, banks, water) where she really emphasized you can’t overdo teaching the footwork – walking in/out, up/down, over – or as she put it “dribbling” through them. I’ve totally taken it to heart and we’ve continued to use that in practicing over the last month. She talked us through riding a ditchy horse (lolz, mine is not), a water-averse horse (lolz, mine thinks he’s at the waterpark), and the unsure-about-banks-one (loz, mine thinks they are a playground). Great lessons, albeit ones I’ll be saving for future horses because mine is a real life unicorn. It’s cool. She also gave me my favorite takeaway from camp: she never counts 1-2 to a jump because you’ll literally change your rhythm to leave on 2. Instead, she counts 1-2-3-4 and I don’t know why it works but IT DOES. MAGIC. (Simple magic, but magic)

We moved on to jumping some combos including a half coffin, some stuff in and out of the water, the rolltop in the water (our first time!), and a handful of fun technical questions. Including where I nearly fell off, twice, cause that’s how I do it.

Was my horse misbehaving? Nope. Take a bad spot? Not really. Did I completely abandon steering, leaving my horse to jump over the side of a novice table? YUP. Yeah, I probably deserved to fall off, but once again, Doc the Saint saved my amateur ass and waited for me to put myself back into the saddle before continuing on.

Let’s focus on the fun part of that paragraph though: Novice. Table.

YUP. We jumped all kinds of novice questions at camp, including the (giant to me) blue box out of the water, the half coffin, the hogsback and the picture frame. And all of it was So Much Fun.

(After I got over wanting to pee my pants, but turns out peer pressure in a group is a solid motivator)

The rest of my takeaways I’m putting into a list so I will publish this for once and for all:

  • Keep a record of lessons/shows – we don’t recall a good % of things, but if you write them down, your memory increases substantially. Even if it’s just highlights from how things went, what went well and what didn’t, etc.
  • Count to 4 on approach vs 1-2
  • Keep your upper body back HOLLY
  • Can’t overdo the footwork on XC
  • Ditchy horse – hands wide and low, stay in the backseat, tap behind leg
  • Banks – let them come up and it’s ok if they need a second to think

The afternoon on Tuesday was a stadium lesson with Leslie. My notes conveniently disappeared into the disaster that is my tack trunk, but the theme of this lesson was “wtf is wrong with your leg Holly?” which is a million dollar question. We started off warming up where he wanted us doing a transition every 6-10 seconds – which is hard! But damn, once I had him off my leg and tuned in like that, the adjustability came so much easier. We did a lot of work on adjusting the stride down a line – doing it in 5, 6, 7 and the line on the other side – doing it in 7, 8, 9, practicing feeling what our horses did if we just naturally let them find the distance themselves versus collecting up or pushing for the fewer strides. It was really about getting the rhythm and then sitting still – not continually messing with your horse all the way to the base (cough, I don’t know anyone who does THAT).

Later, we worked on coming off an oxer coming across the middle and making turns either direction – without throwing our body around. Weird, what a concept. This turned into a semi-figure 8 exercise where, as it turns out, you can just use your eyes and a slightly open rein and magically your horse knows where you’re going!! CRAZY. Eventually it turned into a short course that included a fun bending line each direction that I only managed to get lost in the middle of uh, twice?

Because if you don’t leave a lesson with Leslie Law telling your group of amateurs that you’re why he doesn’t get paid enough and that your homework is to learn your left from right, well… did you even go to event camp?

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Saddles for Shrimps

Image may contain: plant, swimming, outdoor, water and nature
Not these shrimp.
(Yes, that is Paula Deen riding a shrimp. The internet is a wonderful place.)

I think we can all agree that saddle shopping is just maddening on a good day. Add in the fact that I’ve tried NINE (yes, 9) dressage saddles so far and haven’t found one… I’m losing it.

Doc has a perfectly well-fit lovely dressage saddle. But… it fits his owner. Who has about 7″ on me, I’m pretty sure all in her legs. It’s basically impossible for me to use my leg in it. What the neverending carousel of horrors saddles has taught me is that I need a short flap. Like, 14.5″ or 15″ short. I sat in a barnmate’s and I swear angels sang because I learned I have LEGS! They exist.

Image result for ariel legs gif
Sitting in a short flap dressage saddle for the first time

Unfortunately, when you add in short flap + not-a-kids-size-seat and toss in a side of princess and the pea pony – large wither, big sloping set back shoulders, curvy back and LOTS OF OPINIONZ, suddenly you find yourself being quotes $6000 for a custom saddle and you kind of just slither away to cry.

Laugh Cry GIF - Laugh Cry GIFs
Getting that quote…

Doing BN dressage in a jump saddle surely isn’t the end of the world, but… it’s also not my favorite. And now that I’ve experienced the magical short flap dressage saddle, it’s all I think about. And dream about.

So, uh, if you know of a magical 17.5-18″ MW or W short flap dressage saddle with half/short blocks to fit a curvy back that won’t mean selling organs on the black market, hit a girl up?

Or, if you know anyone looking to buy a kidney, that might work too.

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Event Camp 2019, Day One: Amateur Brain is Real

As soon as event camp was over this year, budget season started at work and free time became a concept of a past life, meaning actually doing more than talking to work friends about it until their eyes glazed over was not happening. But, it’s a Thursday afternoon, things are… creepy quiet around here and I’m taking full advantage.

Just like last year, camp was my favorite week of the year. Ponies and horse friends all for a week straight? Best summer camp ever.

An entirely unrelated photo of my mini donkey Sancho wearing a sombrero

Day 1 started with a dressage lesson with Sharon White and one other BN rider. I knew I wanted to work on transitions and our canter, because… well the struggle has been real this year. She had us warm up on our own to get a feel for the horses and then jumped right in, having me focus on keeping my hands in line to the bit and pushing Doc up and into the bridle. I took notes after my lesson and… have no idea where they ended up, of course.

We focused on getting him equally supple to both sides – using my inside rein forward and out instead of back while holding the outside rein and shoulder, getting him to bend around my leg. As we kept riding, she really focused in on the expectation that he should not take all my leg to keep going and he should respond to a “whisper” vs needing to shout. All things we’ve obviously heard (many times) before… but how easy is it to forget that I’m not his engine and don’t need to be “pedaling the bike” every step. By the end of the lesson, he was going as well as he ever has with me and it felt amazing.

The afternoon brought a stadium lesson with Tim Bourke. I loved riding with Tim last year, although apparently as he informed me this year, I “scared the shit out of him” when I casually revealed I’d broken my back and been on my horse for a week mid-lesson. Oops? I assured him I had no surprises to drop on him this year and off to work we went.

We started with a grid of trot poles – five if I remember correctly. Trotted through, then started building them up into jumps, eventually becoming a full grid of one strides. We had an outside line set for 6 we did in 5, 6 and 7 strides, focusing in on adjustability and eventually added a full course – grid to a single oxer, down the outside line in 7, back up the grid the other way, single vertical, rollback, outside line in 5 coming down – needless to say, the only way I remember that is because I texted it to someone that afternoon. I was also nearly dead when I finished, but talk about worth it when you hear Tim Bourke tell you that it was “nearly perfect” and the best stadium round he’s ever seen you ride. Um, air punch celebration much?

Also unrelated, but pretty

It definitely wasn’t perfect – I botched a distance coming into the grid spectacularly for instance, but when I said as much he brushed it off with a great lesson – things won’t always go right (in fact, never), so what makes it perfect was how you react to it and keep riding. Which, for one of the first times, I was able to on a stadium course.

And that’s a “nearly perfect” way to end Day 1.

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Underwater XC and the HT that wasn’t

Indiana is underwater – seriously, it feels like it has rained damn near every day for the last… month? Two months? Seventeen years? I don’t even know at this point, except I wouldn’t be surprised to see Doc grow gills and people kayaking to work.

This meant that our HT last weekend became a CT because the ground was way too wet to safely run XC. We were able to run a derby course on Saturday before the worst of the rain, so the weekend wasn’t without any xc jumps, but not quite what we were expecting.

Saturday’s derby course saw some of the same problems we had last month – namely, ducking out to the right. If you remember, we’ve had a left drift FOR-EV-ER so this “fun” trick is.. new. It was still a much better course than we had last month (in which the summary is I rode backwards to everything, my horse refused to help me and we hated each other by the end of the day). This time, I overbent him in a bending line that wasn’t as uh, bendy, as I walked it and then he opted to not go up the bank because my right leg was hanging uselessly, my crop was in my left hand and Doc will always take the option with less energy required.

Needless to say, I could have done without the XC jump penalties, but it’s always a learning process and this is what schooling shows are all about. Plus, it meant I had a great idea of what/how to ride the next day.

I’m not giving the next day’s HT it’s own post because honestly, I have 0 media and it ended up running as a CT.

Our dressage test honestly felt like one of our better ones, right up until the end (USEA BN B) – I was finishing my walk work and going back to trot LITERALLY AT C IN FRONT OF THE JUDGE when my left thigh got this awful cramp out of nowhere and I nearly came out of my skin and off my horse. Dressage, the sport of elegance. I managed to grit my teeth and ride through the last trot and centerline, but my left leg was essentially useless. Still, I figured, everything went pretty well until those last 3 movements.

Well, once again our dressage is our downfall. I’d like to say I wasn’t disappointed to see a 42 when I picked up my test… but I was. Our dressage feels so much better than it did last season, yet we can’t seem to put down a decent score in the sandbox. The highlight was our highest marks on the canter work we’ve ever had (7.5) which reflects the breakthrough I’ve had in the canter in the last month. (Also the reason I’m shopping for a dressage saddle HAH do you hear that sobbing it’s my bank account)

Yes, I am aware this is flagged backwards – it was set for the next day already

I had a few hours to kill before jumping so I watched some of the Training rides go before heading back out. Where, in the warm up, Doc decided that the crossrail and vertical were fine, but the oxer was way too much work and much easier to go around. Trainer C wasn’t at this show with me, I was working with K (who worked with us at the HT last fall) and she buckled me down. Swapped my crop for her longer jockey bat and told me to hold that rein and make him go over. No ifs, ands or buts. Sure enough, those two things had him cruising over the oxer and off to the ring we went.

Our dressage may have felt great, but not scored great, but our jumping round felt great, scored great and (apparently) looked great. Double clear and I can confidently say it was one of the best (if not the best) rounds I’ve ever ridden. It was a crazy course with two (tight) rollbacks, a two stride and the same bending line as the day before. Add to that a horse who was definitely making me ride for every jump and let’s just say the smile on my face at the end was pretty damn big.

So, maybe not a perfect weekend, but good enough that come Monday this week I sent in our entries to run our first recognized BN in July!

Oops?

And promptly went on a shopping spree, because duh.

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