Thursday, February 6, 2014

Getting Going in 2014

One of my New Years Resolutions is to be better about updating my website with current blogs, show schedule, show results, clinics, and other happenings. I am still going to try and keep that resolution, even though it is already February! 

I think everyone will agree that this winter has been by far the worst Kentucky has experienced in about 20 years.  I still refuse to wavy the white flag.  I mean, it has to warm up eventually!  With the weather as bad as it has been, I have been forced to get creative and plan in advance.

In January, Frankie and I went to the Intermediate/ Preliminary at Poplar Place.  Frankie was full of herself for her first outing but was mostly obedient in the dressage ring and put in a very smooth, clean, show jumping round.  On Sunday, we picked up an early 20 when were having a serious discussion about who was setting the pace!  However, after we picked up 20, she settled right down and got to business.  Gail and Monica Jackson came with me and brought their horses as non- competes and took advantage of Poplar's amazing facility!  They schooled their horses all weekend, ending with an EPIC XC school for both of them! 

After that, we came home to HORRIBLE weather with the Advanced/ Intermediate at February Poplar only two weeks away! The weather was so bad that school was cancelled for six straight days!  As a school teacher, this meant I was FREE..... sort of. As soon as school was called off for Friday that Thursday night, texts messages started flying!

What did I do next?  Well, I did what anyone else would do!  I loaded Collyn's horse, Emily's horse, and Frankie and started driving east!  Ten hours after beginning to throw ideas around with friends of how we were going to use the remaining days to prepare for Poplar, I was on my way to Aiken, SC with three horses in Collyn's rig to meet up with Megan who escaped with six horses just a few hours before me! This trip involved lots of shuffling and Tom was incredibly supportive!  He walked in the door after driving home from begin on the road and I greeted him with, "HI!  Hey, do you want to go to Aiken?"  "Sure."  He replied. "When?"  "In 10 hours, with three horses, for the weekend."  He chuckled and just responded with, "How about I go next time but you go and I'll see you in a few days."  From there, the packing frenzy began!

Aiken was a whirlwind of riding for me with my horse, Collyn's horse and Emily Zurkuhlen's three year old, Irish gelding, I had something to ride the entire time I was there! Emily took the opportunity to send her green Irish horse with me just to get him out to see the world! It was WARM and I rode in one layer of clothing, so I LOVED being outside riding again! 

Day 1: Megan took Frankie and me to Jumping Branch for a show jump school.  Frankie could not have jumped any better so I wanted to go to Poplar on that! After returning from Jumping Branch, we tacked up another set, loaded them on the trailer and headed to Hitchcock Woods! On this outing, the horses would get the chance to go for a little XC school.  I took Jameson, Emily's horse. ONce in the truck and on our way, I figured I should text Emily, since I had not ever ridden Jameson, or even had the opportunity to be around him, and find out if there was anything I needed to know!  I started by asking her if he had ever schooled XC or been ridden in the open?  Did he buck or bolt?  She said no, he'd never done anything "real" bad, and that he had not schooled XC but he had jumped crossrails and verticals before!  LOL...  I replied, "Well, we are on our way to XC school!  I will let you know how it goes!" He was such a sponge and quite brave!  He took it all in and loved jumping the friendly XC jumps!  He was trying to act really grown up- even though the steering was a little questionable at times! It was so much fun and he could not have had a better opportunity for a first XC school!

Day 2:  Frankie and the others big kids, went to Paradise Farm to school XC.  They had great terrain questions to play around with!  Having the privilege of watching Megan school Guinness XC for the first time was really neat. What I was able to witness was the first glimpse of developing, what I know is going to be an amazing partnership.  That was really special.  Andrea and Emma were just so happy to be outside cantering around outside and it was a fun and easy school for them. 

Collyn experienced a delay trying to get back into the country.... did I mention she was studying abroad for the month of Jan and I rode her horse while she was gone so he would be ready for February Poplar?  She and I were only able to communicate through Facebook messaging so when this plan was thrown together, I messaged her saying.... The weather is terrible and not getting better so your horse, equipment, truck and trailer are going to Aiken in less than 10 hours!  Hope this is okay!  Please come to Aiken in my car when you land in Lexington!  And don't forget your show stuff because you'll head to Poplar from Aiken!  I was glad she received my message before I left town.  However, when I heard back from her I had loaded 12 bales of hay and was wrapping horses legs! Luckily, Collyn is always up for last minute adventures!

When Collyn got to Aiken with my car, I left for Lexington so I could return to work!  Megan rode Frankie for me the next few days, Collyn took amazing care of her and Andrea helped calm my nerves about leaving her there without me!  It always takes a village!

Emily drove down to Poplar with me the following Friday (after work), to meet up with the crew.  Only a few short hours after we arrived, the show began!  Frankie was so much more relaxed in her dressage test than she normally is although I almost lost her focus in warm- up when someone came through the bushes carrying a rake high over their head.  Needless to say, we were at the other end of the warm- up arena before I even knew what we were running from....  and then I was next in the ring.  I was pleased with her effort and from there, we can continue to move forward. 

Her advanced show jumping round was one of those jump rounds I will remember for the rest of my life. I  still see it when I close my eyes at night to go to sleep. It felt so smooth and effortless.  From the moment the bell rang and I took a deep breath before cantering off to fence #1, I exhaled and thought only of what I needed to do and what I knew we were capable of doing.  Megan supported me in what I consider not an ideal warm- up situation. She  knows me quite well and understands that if I am not pleased with my warm- up, for whatever reason (and I have some ridiculous ones) when I get into the ring, I tend to slowly unravel and get off my plan. Nothing went "wrong" in warm- up....  I just found it hard to find a canter I was happy with in the small warm-up area, so I kept changing it, looking for the pace and flow I wanted to carry in the ring.  I never really found it but instead of letting that mentally take me the wrong direction, Megan and I were able to stand at the in gate and talk about the pace I knew I need to find once I got in there.  We talked about not hurrying to the first jump, making one decision and sticking with that decision.  I went in the ring on that 30 second conversation and felt calm and prepared to jump.

Sunday was not at all what I had expected.  It was almost like opposite day and after fence 3, even though she was jumping out of stride, she was not taking me to the jump and that is not at all like her, we walked off the course at fence 5.  As I took the long walk back from the XC course, stroking her crazy mane and talking to her, I felt worried.  She had been jumping so well.....  suddenly, she was not jumping at all.  Even though I had planned on staying until after the show was over to XC school Emily and Collyn, Megan and I agreed, with very little discussion, that this was not a jumping issue and that Frankie did not need to school. Lexington can seem as far away as the moon when you drive and have hours to worry.

I really should play the lottery.....  because I do consider myself a VERY lucky person!  So, here I sit counting my lucky stars tonight!   After a few hours well spent and a FULL work up yesterday, because I was convinced something was really wrong, she relieved to us that she was just very sore.  Frankie has always been and still remains so stoic!  That often makes it hard to diagnose any issues she may have so we have to look at what she MIGHT be telling us physically but we also have to analyze her behaviorally.   I am glad that she is already feeling better and that we are certain there is nothing serious going on!  I finally slept last night.

Now, to figure out how to get ALL the snow to melt!

Stay warm everyone!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Getting Out of My Own Way

I am a very positive person, pretty much all of the time. I like to keep my head in the clouds.... The view from up here is quite nice! My glass is always half full. Every disappointment is a chance to only make myself better next time... Anyway, you get the picture. There are situations though that can start to weigh on me. I wanted to write a blog about the "other" piece of my riding I am working on, the mental side.
I like to analyze things, all things really. I am a very reflective person because that is what my job as a school teacher forces me to do. I look at all types of data and determine, from that data, what the next steps need to be. I am constantly reflecting and planning. With riding, I am no different.

I make plans- a lot of them! Some of them are completely unrealistic but fun to think about nonetheless. Then, I talk those plans over with Megan, Jenn, Andrea, and Emily on Monday nights over Mexican food. Some of my plans they like some of them they hate! I am ok with both. I am just glad that we can all be honest with each other. I respect all of their opinions for sure. The biggest difference, I feel, between us all is that they are professionals so they get to set their calendar around important shows, etc. I try to do the same but also have to take into account my work calendar. I tend to panic when my plans don't materialize! I AM however, a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. So for example, when I didn’t get to go to the jumper show cause of the weather, I just said, "I just saved over $100 and she's been jumping really well so I don't feel like I NEED to go but it would have been fun!" I have had to train my way of thinking though and it is not always that easy!
As I have said in earlier blogs, Craig Shegog, my show jumping coach, is both my jumping coach and what I'd call the closest thing to a life coach I have ever had. Not the kind of life coach that wants to discuss the ins and outs of my crazy life! He knows I am a school teacher (or that I have a job with summers off), he's met Tom and seen him a few times, and he knows I teach a few clients but that's probably about all he knows about me personally. However, when it comes to my riding, he knows more about my thought process than I do. He knows what I am going to think about a riding situation before I do and often how I will react. He knows and calls me on it when I am not being mentally tough. He knows that sometimes I bring up mistakes I have made in lessons YEARS ago, and that I can have 100 good jumps and one "bad" one and the one bad one stays with me longer than the 100 good ones! He knows Frankie is a different horse from her left side to her right side, and he know that mentally, I can get in my own way by overthinking everything.
We have really been working on demising the ability that I have to get in my own way, but it a daily task. He never dismisses any of my thoughts or makes me feel stupid for asking questions or making a statement and he always addresses my "concerns." We start every lesson with a brief discussion about what Frankie has done the previous days, how she was or what I felt, and what needs to happen the following week. Another thing he has been doing since very early on is recommending sports psychology books for me to read. He has read many himself and says with a library card, it's the cheapest coaching I can get because I have the tools and ability, I just have to put it all together.
I have found that many of the books written for the game of golf, can pertain to riding. The last book I read was Life is not a Game of Perfect by Dr. Bob Rotella. It had several good points about working hard and not selling yourself short and about how to train your thinking to reach your full potential. Here are just two pages that I found interesting about thinking you "did you best."

I found this interesting even as a teacher because I wonder how many times I have given work back to students and lead them to believe they have done the best they can? And if I have done that, have I limited them in the future. Have I limited myself at times? I highlighted many parts in the book and will skim through them from time to time for sure.
I am now reading this book. If nothing else, reading fills my mind with other thoughts.

If you have any good books you have read and would like to share them with me, I'd love to read them!  Until next time, think you are awesome and believe in your dreams!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Summer Plans?!?!

Being a school teacher means SUMMER BREAK and it is finally approaching! Now, it is not as long as most people think, and we do have mandatory professional developments to attend over the summer, but never the less, I have about eight weeks where I don't have to write lesson plans and be responsible for several little humans’ education. Teachers’ time off is basically dictated but I try to fit in as much as I can during the school year, however it seems like the few plans I tried to put into motion this year, for one reason or another, did not play out as I had hoped. Some things were work related while others were just bad timing. Up to this point, I have put together (mentally), about 50 plans for my summer break and none of them seemed to sit well as I mulled over them in my head.
First I thought about going to an adult camp. I am not sure if they offer those for the OI/Adv level but maybe? Then I thought about going to several different well- known riders/ coaches/ trainers for a week or longer and sent some emails pertaining to that. Then I thought about going to Florida. You get my drift….
I have talked to and downright bugged several (very busy) people asking for advice on what to do and who to ride with over the summer. Of course, money and traveling distance play a huge role in things as well as riding with someone who might be accessible to me in the future for a tune up before a big competition, so I have to take that into consideration. I can't just do whatever I want for my eight weeks of summer break but I wanted to have a plan of action for Frankie and me.
Frankie and I ran January and February Poplar and from there we have just been doing our homework. I have packed the double bridle away in my trailer to force myself to work on making her better in the snaffle. I have continued my jump lessons with Craig on a weekly basis, even when the money was a little low, so that I did not get out of the routine of jumping 4'. I have been able to work with Megan Moore and we have made some huge, positive changes in my XC riding. Now that Frankie is trained and ridable, I have really had to change the way I ride her. She is not the same type of ride, thank goodness... lol, that she was even three years ago. And finally, I have been riding Cathy Wieschhoff's very nice, young, sale horses and her prelim horse, Slew Boy, while she recovers from shoulder surgery. In the three weeks I've been riding them, I have already learned a ton and mainly about myself.

I have learned that by riding only one horse consistently for the last eight years, that I have become very use to ONE way of going. I seem to have lost, ummm, maybe resiliency is the word I am looking for? Meaning when Frankie strays from "normal," I don't react soon enough with the tools I have in my toolbox because they have perhaps gotten rusty?! The baby horses and even the prelim horse are helping me sharpen my tools. They have been there all along, just had gotten a little rusty.
So that leaves me still with the question of what to do this summer! There are some clinics coming to town which would eliminate the travel and extended hotel stays for me. I enjoyed the Joe Meyer clinic and he was very complimentary of us as a team. I rode well that weekend and seemed to not make any silly mistakes. It is hard to explain my "issues" to a person that only sees a snapshot of my riding. This is why Megan has been so instrumental in making immediate changes to my riding. Even before she started helping me, and teaching me, (which I am sure can be exhausting because I ask a lot of questions when in a comfortable situation, think A LOT about my previous lessons/ shows, and future goals, and want to discuss all of this, sometimes at random) she had seen me compete a lot. She has been at all of my Advanced and has even seen glimpses of us other places. She already had several things she wanted to work on by the time she started helping me. It was great in lesson #1, which we schooled XC, to have her say, "Ok. This is what we are going to do today." She didn't need any time to get to know us. Sometimes I feel clinics are tough because the clinician needs to have some sort of baseline for your riding but I think this summer instead of skipping town for an extended period of time, I will try a few clinics and see what I think of them. Good or bad…. It will be a two- day experience. I will make myself go and if nothing else, I will have that pressure of riding in front of others, on myself.

With the opportunities I have here in Lexington to keep working with people who really know me and care about my progress, getting to ride other horses, and teaching my own clients and pony clubbers, I think by participating in a couple of clinics this summer, I will provide myself with a good education.
We head to Greater Dayton in two weeks, which almost looks like it is shaping up to be a Team CEO division of prelim, then Jenn O’Neil and I will go to Lost Hounds in June. I have a summer/ fall show schedule taking shape but as we all know, plans are ever changing. I’ll let Frankie help me plan the rest.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Don't shy away from opportunity. It may be disguising its self as work!

Opportunity does not always come knocking and sometimes when it does, that opportunity can disguise its self as hard work. My plate is as full as everyone else's but when Cathy Wieschhoff presented me with the opportunity to do some riding for her while she recovers from shoulder surgery, I knew it was something I needed to do and accepted the opportunity. My first thought was how can I possibly add three horses to my plate? I have a husband, a full-time teaching job, my own horse to ride, and lessons to teach. At this time of the year, school becomes extremely busy with several after school meetings, state testing trainings, and district writing meetings because I am also the writing leader for my elementary school. All of this on top of the regular demands of my job which is to teach.... I have lesson plans due each week and grading papers that often require extensive teacher comments on writing pieces so the students get timely feedback on their work in order to apply it to their next writing piece. Top all that off with being married to a wonderful and supportive husband who travels all week and would really like to see me for at least a few hours on the weekends! I really did not know how I was going to add this to my plate to say the least but knew I could not let this opportunity get away!

I felt so strongly about trying to figure out how to get these new horses worked in to my schedule because I have had many people say to me, “It’s a shame you don't have other horses to practice on." I have come to realize that even though I love riding Frankie more than any other horse I have ever sat on, #1 it puts a lot of pressure on us both to give 100% every day and #2, having ridden her now for almost 9 years, I am use to a very certain type of ride so when things change, I only have a tool box that I've developed with Frankie instead of a tool box with all types of tools, even if I will never use those tools with her.

The two sale horses of Cathy’s I am riding are both youngsters and very different rides. Yacht is a chestnut mare that immediately found her way into my heart. She is so brave and really wants to please! Then there is Benny, a very flashy bay gelding that has a lofty trot and very balanced canter, something that is foreign to me!  I will begin adding Cathy's preliminary horse in the mix, as the person that has been riding him will no longer be available. He will provide me with the opportunity to work on my dressage and jumping so this will be an awesome experience. Cathy has been very helpful in the process of riding these young horses.  She has given me time to get to know them ad jump them by myself, and this weekend, she came down to the arena, arm in a sling, and watched me jump them.  It was very helpful and I received great feedback on both horses.  These two horses are quite nice for sure.  This endeavor is really pushing me outside of my box and she is award of that since she's know me since I was 13 years old and I have only ever had one horse on my plate at a time so I have been able to adjust my riding style to fit the needs of the horse.  We had a good discussion this weekend about how this is the best thing I can do for my own riding right now.   I take it as a huge compliment that I am trusted to ride these horses until she is back riding again.  I have been reluctant for a long time to take on other horses, mostly due to the time factor and my love for riding Frankie, but am really glad I did not make excuses for myself and walk away from this opportunity!  It would have been so easy for me to say, “I’m too busy.”  I AM too busy, that is true, but I must keep getting better and I have to keep learning in order to be better for Frankie.


As for my Super Mare, she's doing great! We went to January and February Poplar and from those two shows, I came back with some homework. I just didn't feel taking her to more shows is what she needed to do at the moment. She knows what horse shows are all about! We have continued our weekly jump lessons, with the focus on the canter, and I am LOVING her willingness to work on the flat. She can be so fancy when she relaxes through her back!

With my work schedule being what it is, I can't get to the May, Chatt Hills, or run around the prelim at Maydaze even because it is our last day of school and 5th grade graduation.... I have decided to take her to Dayton and let her quietly jump around the prelim. It is closer in distance than Chatt Hills and I can leave after work on Friday to get there. Chatt Hills presented several challenges in relation to work, so I opted to go with Megan Moore and her team to Dayton! It will be a fun trip for sure! Megan and I had a wonderful, foot perfect xc school last weekend. We and I are working very hard on identifying the different canters needed on xc and helping Frankie and me be comfortable in those canters! At the xc schooling, it all came together!
Megan has been a great help. She really understands Frankie and has seen the “other” me that can show up at horse shows! I don't know what I'd do without our Monday night "meeting of the minds" dinner with her, Jenn, Andrea, and Emily! It is a “say anything meeting and expect an honest answer” kind of group and I really enjoy these much needed dinners.

Before Dayton HT, Frankie and I will head to Split Rock to continue practicing our show jumping and will be meeting up with Joe Meyer to school XC while he is in town for Rolex. I plan each day the night before because I can't get too far ahead of myself! So far, somehow, it is all working! SO here’s to all of you that have very busy schedules, children even, and somehow manage to get it all done! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Never Stop Learning

Thank goodness I decided to get started with my eventing season in January!  People always think I am crazy to get going so soon but I am glad I did!  It seems I have some wrinkles to smooth out this year! I am just thrilled though to be starting yet another eventing season with Frankie.  I know I am fortunate to be able to have the same partner for so many years.  And trust me I AM STILL LEARNING! 

Frankie and I started with the first two Poplars and I have been very pleased with her Dressage...  YES.... I said DRESSAGE, and quite pleased with her show jumping.  The first show jumping track was very tight and twisty and the second track was wide open in the grass with both the triple and the double downhill.  Each course presented different challenges at the Intermediate height.  Carving a good turn, landing and organizing the canter, and finishing my lines from the jumps are all becoming second nature for me.  I am still working on not making a quick decision, supporting my decision with my leg, and not second guessing myself in front of the jump and staying taller in the air. 

Now I am forced to evaluate the way I ride XC.  This is brand new territory for us.  After a mishap this past summer, Frankie is requiring me to sit up, keep my butt down, and get my hands off her neck. She is not letting me get away with the same mistakes I have made in the past which I think is really good.  In the end, this will keep us safe and as her Mom and rider, I appreciate that!  I need to be more accountable for my part of the ride and more accountable I will be.  It is a slow process of course, changing the way I ride XC but I am not discouraged because I feel like I am learning....  I changed the way I show jumped about three years ago so I am confident I can also change the way I ride XC.  I LOVE learning and I really feel like I am PART of the ride- not just the person steering her.  Now, at February Poplar I proved to be the part that made a mistake two jumps from home.... but I only made one mistake around that entire course that day.  Old habits die hard that's for sure.  Frankie is more trained than she was a couple of years ago so I need to ride her like she is trained.  Like Craig said, "The good news is she's careful and smart and the bad news is she's careful and smart."  I actually appreciate that quality about her! 

She galloped happily, in her SNAFFEL, at the second Poplar.  I decided to try my snaffle because now that she is so much more ridable, I sometimes feel that she would bounce off the contact and slip behind my leg.  I was really happy with her in the snaffle.... she has not been swimming or galloping long sets like she did for the 2* or the Adv so that may be something I have to play by ear but she always has plenty of gas in the tank and not once did she blow me off.  I changed the balance early, sat down, and kept my hands off her neck.... oh, except once when I did the opposite and she stopped.  When we reapproached, I was correct and she was happy to jump.  Here is the video of the mistake I made and my second approach. 

We finished 3rd but placing never matters to me really.  I've seen bad rounds win and FABULOUS rounds place out of the ribbons!  It is all about being able to put all three phases together!

I have teamed up with Megan Moore and team CEO for some help.  Megan has produced Advnaced horses of her own and can ride anything so she hasa TON of ideas!  Her suggestions have proved to be spot on what Frankie needs from me right now.  We had a FABULOUS XC school at Masterson last weekend and I will meet up with her in Aiken for a weekend of training in March.  I am also excited to participate in the Joe Meyer clinic te first weekend in March and of course we will continue jumping with Craig Shegog. 
Hope you are all having a wonderful winter and learning lots!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Plans, Lessons, and Jumping Solo

Everyone is starting to make plans for 2013.  Me, I am making plans for the next day.  Similar to what I do as a classroom teacher, I am letting my daily assessment and reflection of my ride tell me what my next steps need to be. 
An observation I made about myself this past year is that I ALWAYS jumped in a lesson or under supervision.  I always had someone there to “hold my hand” so to say, in case I was making mistakes.  With Craig, we’d jump advanced height in our lessons once a week, without question, but if I had to jump that height alone, I found myself questioning whether I should or not do it and fearing that I would make a mistake. 
This leads me to where I am now, this winter, jumping alone more often to work on working through situations on my own.  I don’t mean that everyone reading this should stop taking lessons, send your help away, and jump alone.  For me, jumping alone means having maybe two or three lessons a month and jumping more, or in my case at all, on my own.  My husband initially thought this was a horrible idea.  I explained to him that it would be fine and that there are people that live on the farm and would be driving past the arena periodically.  Also, my friend Maggie, almost always knows when I am riding or is riding with me.  I usually text her and my husband on my 15 minute hack back to the barn to discuss mistakes I made, movements that are improving, or opinions Frankie may have had during the ride (and yes…. She can be very opinioned!)    My advice to anyone riding a horse anytime is to let someone know you are going out for a ride.  So jumping or not, I let people know I am riding.
Craig has said from the beginning that I don’t get to jump enough.   I would agree with that.  Having only one (upper level) horse does come with its own set of problems.  Having another horse to practice jumping 4’ on would be nice but it is not in the cards for me.  I am currently not in the market for another horse so here is what we’ve decided will be best for my particular situation. 
I will, of course, continue to take jumping lessons.  We all need lessons from professionals to continue to improve our riding.  I plan to alter my schedule with her somewhat and jump her every 3-4 days.  These jump schools will be a combination of flat work or a light trot set and jumping a few jumps or through a grid by myself. It will not take the place of a lesson nor will I jump the same amount of jumps I might in a lesson.  This is basically to let Frankie jump and not have every jump school be BIG and it will also let me make a mistake and then allow me to use the tools I have to fix it on my own.  By continuing to have lessons, I don’t anticipate practicing bad habits.  These jumps won’t be max height but I will be making myself make decisions about my riding and not beat myself up for a whole week about a lesson if I had a bad jump or two.  It will allow me to get right back out there and jump again in a few days. 
The schedule will change as the competition schedule comes into play but for now, I am not thinking about showing.  I am thinking about training my horse and becoming a better rider for her.  She deserves the best ride I can give her.  

I am happy to report that we went to a local schooling jumper show last weekend BY OURSELVES!  Before my first class/ first round, a woman had a bad spill.  I was warmed up and ready to go but after watching her fall and lay there waiting for the ambulance, I thought that I could go home cause technically I HAD jumped…. In warm up and Frankie was good.  I didn’t leave… (Thank you Lindsay and Drew)   Frankie and I were entered in three classes.  She was clean in all three, and jumped clean jumps offs and won all three classes.  Now, there were not many people there at all but…..  I was competing against myself and this time I won….  The me that showed up that day to ride told myself how to go in and ride a smooth round, with soft arms and straight lines.  That was the me that won….  I usually find a way to mess it up and this time….THREE times, I did what I needed to do to jump well.   
Hope you all are having a nice winter and remembering how fortunate we are to have these wonderful creatures in our lives.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Heading into winter

We are on our way home from Chatt Hills CCI 2* at the moment. It did not go as planned however, I do feel like I was able to work out a few things on xc although in the end, I had three stops and was eliminated.
Frankie came out of the box and felt great. We jumped the big tables at 1,2, and 3 very well. I wanted to get a good pace going out of the box. This course started out big so I knew I needed to get going! The first question came with a turning corner question at 4a,b,c and she was brilliant! I was a little concerned about it because it encouraged a backwards ride and was very similar to the question at Fair Hill I was not able to get done the first time in the spring. Frankie came back to me well for the A element, turned right to the left handed corner and was on it, then turned left to a skinny brush out. We galloped three more big tables before running into a tiny pond to jump a log in the middle. We had our first stop there at the log because I did not ride it- I took it for granted! It was tiny and caught  me off guard for sure. We came back around to it and jumped it well and went on our way. Maybe I was still thinking about that jump as I made the turn to a big tiger trap type jump. I thought we were right on it so I did not add additional leg and she stopped but not dirty. I needed to react sooner- or at all. As I cantered away from it I wondered if she'd jump it now that she saw the huge ditch and knew how big it was. I looped around, she put her eye on it and took me right to it. From there we had another massive table over a ditch that I wanted to stay to the right of because the footing in front of it sloped downward and encouraged them to drop their shoulders. She sailed over it easily. We galloped up to the next question. I angled over a brush roll top, ran up the steep mound, had to turn off the path on the downhill side to a corner sitting at the bottom.  She held perfectly at the top of the mound, like I expected and I was able to keep a packaged canter down the hill, on the line I walked, to the corner. We galloped on and jumped a few more big galloping jumps. My final stop came at the A element of a house into the water. It was not the water, it was the terrain that got me. I jumped the log rolls at the top of the hill before the water and never put her back together as I cantered down the hill. I never pushed her back up and got her in front of my leg.
In FEI you are allowed three total stops and that was my third. I walked her back to the barns thinking about how amazing she felt at the corners and over all the huge tables she had jumped. She came off thinking she was amazing- and she was where I rode her. At this level I am realizing that she needs me to support her at all the fences. Bottom line. I need to ride her better to get the results I know we are capable of. She has shown me that she can do it. My three stops were at three different fences but all the same problem. I took my leg off and didn't ride her up to the contact.
I am disappointed for sure but only in myself. I am though coming home with an extremely healthy horse, knowing my dressage was much improved from last year, and the feeling of having fixed some issues with my gallop to allow her to jump as many big tables as we did- well! We didn't helicopter over anything!
From here we just keep pressing forward. I plan to go to Aiken and school with Jan and run a select prelim or two where I can focus on giving her a good ride and I will be setting up jumps at the bottom of hills at home to school frequently.
A huge thank you to Gail Jackson, Collyn Smitherman, and her dad Mr. Smitherman, for making it an enjoyable weekend! Collyn completed her second training as well!