This blog is about my life, a 28 yr old filly; working in the city, balancing her career, passion for horses, dogs, and the life they deserve. Following my dreams, and getting there takes a lot of patience and a sense of humour. This is my take on life, and the amazing and stupid things in it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mojo


  Guys....I have a confession.  I love dogs.  Maybe you already knew that.  I grew up with 5 dogs.  We currently have 3, but I have always wanted a red heeler to match Ozzy.  I always peruse Petfinder and other places for heelers just to see what is out there, but there isn't much in Ontario.  The other day I saw a breeder posted an ad that puppies were ready to go.  4 Blues and 4 Reds.  I e-mailed him to see if there were any Reds left and he said he had two Red boys....uh oh.

  Then he sent me pictures....double uh oh.  He told me they were going fast, people from Toronto, London, Cambridge (all about 5-7 hours away from him) to get the pups....uh oh. Time to act fast.  I got up the nerve a few days later to ask the hubs if I could get a puppy for my birthday.  He replied - if he could get another guitar for his birthday (in March).  Um hell yes!!  My birthday isn't until next month...but I was allowed to get my present early.  For reals??

 So, last Friday night after cross country schooling, we made the just under 2 hour drive to pick up our newest family member, "Mojo".  Named after Jim Morrison...to follow our trend of rock names for dogs :)  Oh my goodness, he is the best puppy.  Follows me everywhere, sleeps all night, good in his crate.  Just a bundle of adorable goodness.  Enough talking...puppy;







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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Glen Oro Cross Country School

WHY is there a ditch on the landing side!

 Last Friday I took the day off work and had one of the best days of the summer.  Jessica and I headed to Glen Oro Farms to do some cross country schooling with Penny and Mia.  Glen Oro is about a 3.5 hour drive, but they have fences up to Intermediate - with lots of fun and different questions.  It is in a beautiful part of the province, rolling hills and 100 foot tall trees.  Just breathtaking.  I am planning on going to the event there at the end of the month so I figured it would be a good place to check out.

  We left around 9am and had an uneventful drive up through Toronto.  The ponies traveled well and with a few pit stops we arrived at Glen Oro Farms around 1pm.  After a little walk around to stretch the legs, and a drink of water, we corked and tacked up the horses.  We started out warming up in the dressage rings.  This will hopefully be a big help for Penny at the event since she can be so looky, and there is a lot to look at beside their rings.  Hopefully having been in the ring already will allow her to settle better at the event.

 After a flat warm up we headed to the cross country warm up and popped over some fences there - then onto the stadium ring where I only jumped a couple of fences.  They have a nice big liverpool in the shade so I wanted to pop over that and make sure there were no issues there - and of course there wasn't - Penny loves to jump all things coloured and spooky!  We were now ready to head out onto the course and see what jumps were waiting for us to be jumped!









 The ponies were fresh and keen - and we jumped ALL THE THINGS!  Ditches, banks, skinnies, corners, drops, combos, water, you name it - we jumped it.  I jumped the entire Training course and a few Prelim fences.  There was a combination - up a hill - drop over a ditch three strides to a brush.  Not sure why they put ditches on the landing side but man do I ever hate those things!  Penny didn't seem to care.  I don't like to run the legs off my horse so I was focused on the combinations and getting Penny used to different questions.  Jess jumped most of the Prelim and Intermediate course on super pony Mia.

 We got a lot of video - including helmet cam - but for now I will leave you with the pictures.  Both horses were incredible.  Penny jumped everything easily and out of stride.  She didn't break a sweat, and was fit and looking fresh when we finished.  We gave a sponge bath, and poulticed the ponies up before heading back for the long drive home.  We took an alternate way home the farm owner suggested to bypass the big city and it was a nice scenic route and saved us some time.  


trakehner

this is a log off a large bank - three strides to the skinny

Prelim skinny wedge at the bottom


Training corner

trakehner middle part of the coffin
  

first part of the Training coffin



big effort here

Prelim sunken road


 By far the most fun I have ever had schooling.  Can't wait for their event in two weeks!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Best Place for Fitness Work


  is on the beach...I was once told by a top event rider in Scotland that they do all their gallops and fitness work on the beach.  While I lived in Scotland, we went every single Friday to the beach for gallops.  It was pretty damn awesome. There are a few good reasons for this.  One being the footing - just wet sand is the ultimate in perfect footing.  It has impressive shock absorption, and is not slippery.  You can also look at the tracks to see where your horses footfalls are and how straight you are riding.



 *Can I just point out that little Chestnut Quarter Horse? 4 years old, only been off property a few times.  Just a doll.

 Another great thing about using the beach for gallops is the cold water available for immediate cool down.  No need to ice or poultice.  Just wade in the water for 10-15 minutes after for a nice cool down.  The other plus is being able to get your horse familiarized with water, and also taking them for a swim to add to their workout.

 Yesterday, I met up with some new friends to take them for a ride on the beach.  We did a lot of wading in the water, went for a nice hack along the shoreline, and then I took Penny for her gallop.  Full out one direction and trot back.  She wasn't even blowing.  After a cool down in the water for her legs, we stripped the tack and went swimming with the horses....pure bliss.  Penny was being so funny....every time it got deep enough to swim she would reach her head way out and pull me so hard into the lake I would almost slide off giggling.  What a silly girl.




 We love the beach :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Judge Was Nice


  Penny and I headed to another dressage schooling show on Sunday.  Our ride times were not until 4:06pm and 4:38 pm so it was sort of a weird day.  I slept in (for a horse owner) and brought the horses in for the day.  I washed Pennys socks and braided her.  She is being fussy lately in her stall, I think because the weather is cooling off and they are still on night turn out.  I think they are ready to be switched back but I want to make sure the bugs are gone for the year before I do so.  They are currently sectioned off their one paddock for rotation and it's their favourite.  Penny stares out her window - dreaming of grazing there I just know it.

  After I braided her I cleaned my tack and packed the trailer.  I just chilled around the barn all day cleaning up the tack room and what not....watching the clock till quarter to two which was when I had to leave to pick up Morgan and her horse Jax who is boarded at my moms place.  It is strange waiting so long to show.  You can't really do much since you are still having to go to a show but I can't exactly sit around and do nothing all day.  I'm not a good rester.

 When it was almost two we were finally on the road to the show.  Ponies arrived and settled nicely.  We tacked up pretty much right away and went to the warm up.  Penny was really relaxed and warmed up well.  I took 5 minutes to look at my test as I had not even looked at it once before this day...oops.  We were doing First Level Test B and C.  My first test to ride was First Level B, and for some reason the CADORA tests are mandatory sit trot.  Even the Equine Canada tests do not make you sit trot - but whatever.  Penny has a bouncy trot and it obviously breeds tension when I try to sit it.  I suck at sitting trot in my hunter saddle...more practice needed. Regardless it was our turn to dance.


showing a little lengthening

stretchy trot circle

so pretty

I love the shadow in this pic :)


  Penny was more focused this test than the usual.  She was a bit looky but seemed to come back to me better than before.  Our trot is completely unconnected.  We had some nice moments but lots of head up - head down, fussing going on.  Our canter work is really getting there, and the canter moments were great.  The transitions still need lots of work also, but overall the test went much better than last time.  We scored 69.7% in the first test.  Very generous.  After watching all the other riders go and observing they all posted the trot in their tests, I decided I would post in my second test also as it did not seem as though they were penalizing for this.

 Our second test was First Level Test C and I thought this test went really well.  Watching the video I can see we are still very unconnected in the trot, but overall she was very obedient in the test.  She didn't have any meltdowns either and stayed relaxed.  This is a huge step for us!  My only disappointment was my score of 5.5 on my leg yields.  I felt as though they were worth at least a 7 - they were super straight and letter to letter.  The judges comments were "no leg yield shown" - which goes to my next point.  We scored a 72.6% - a personal best for us as a team...again, very generous.


leg yield left


love this outline...


this would be nice - all the time!

 I do think it is great to get good and encouraging scores, the frustrating thing for me is that it still leaves me wondering where I am really at.  Sometimes with schooling shows - the judges have a good eye but aren't all that educated.  For the leg yields for example, straightness is the key - along with all the other requirements.  I think the judge may have been wanting to see a more extreme cross over but when you are in a 20 x 60m ring, and going from K to G - that leg yield has a lonnnnggg way to go.  I have developed a very educated eye in dressage (eye -  not riding ability LOL) from watching so many of my moms lessons and shows.  These things are frustrating because getting a 5.5 on a good leg yield - and getting a 7 on a simple change where we got the wrong lead - leaves me scratching my head.

 My conclusion is that some of these schooling shows, while great for getting Penny into the ring more, and more familiar with dressage - the scoring isn't always going to be a good learning tool.  Maybe a slight confidence boost getting high scores lol  That being said, I have noticed a difference in her and I hope the trend continues in the ring.  I am so glad I have taken a step back from the events to focus on this.

 We placed 4th in Test B and 3rd in Test C, against some good competition so I was thrilled.  Lots more work needed, but I see progress - and that makes me happy.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Video Break - Penny Showjumping at Lane's End Horse Trials


  Here is our clear showjumping round from Lanes End Horse Trials last weekend.  Hope everyone had a great labour day!



Friday, August 29, 2014

My Handsome Dude


  These are photos from the hunter show Parker and I did a few weeks ago, purchased from Scourse Photography.  I don't know what it is but does this horse just scream "hunter"?  At the very least, he is a very handsome boy.  Hard to believe he was just a race track reject. Love my big brown pone.



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lane's End Horse Trials Recap - Pics Galore!


 Last week I was having second thoughts about entering Lanes End.  I of course wanted to go eventing but I didn't feel like we have made much improvement in our dressage since our last event despite my efforts.  I was feeling a lot more confident about show jumping though.  I was also stressing a bit about the cross country.  Although we did school there and were able to jump a lot of the fences, things are different on show day and Penny has still been looky at home and at shows.

  I had already committed to going though and my entry was in so I was going whether I liked it or not.  I decided to go up the day before to walk the course.  Although it was a 2+hr drive, I didn't want to be crunched for time or stressed on the day of the event.  Jessica and I took our dogs up and spent the afternoon walking the cross country and stadium.

 Cross was pretty much what I expected, except they added an option at fence 3 which was the spooky trakehner.  Fence 5 was a big bank up in the shaded woods going up a hill - a fence which we jumped coming down so that would be a new question for sure.  I thought all night about how I would ride fence 3 and whether I would take the option or go direct.  On any day Penny would jump the trakehner but since the fence was so early on course and going away from the other horses I was worried she might balk and be looky when we turned towards it.  After many many discussions with others I decided to wait until I felt how she was at fence one and two and go from there.  If she was looky I would take the option - which added a lot more time, and if she was bold, I would take the direct route.

  I also had questions about the water and whether to attempt to do the three stride angled line or whether to jump the first element and circle large to the left, loop back and take the second.  We did school this but she stopped at the second log the first time through when she saw the water, and the day of the event they died the water bright blue.  Since you can't see the water until you are at the second element I wasn't sure if she would take a second look again.  I decided to go for it, but if we had jumped clean until that point I would do the circle and loop back to ensure she jumped over the second log first time.  As you can see I really really wanted to jump around and have a positive experience...such pressure!

  We started our day with dressage and Penny warmed up nicely.  Unlucky for us we were in the ring that has a large wall of concrete blocks as a bearing wall and Penny thought those were super scary.  Although we had some nice moments, anything that occurred down at C was pretty deer in the headlights-esk.  This is an ongoing issue with Penny and her lookiness.  I have not quite figured out how I can work with her to get her to focus on me when I say.  Any ideas are appreciated at this time!  I am thinking maybe some work with a professional natural horseman who specialized in spooking and trust might help?  We were last after dressage with a 69 (54 US) but we weren't out of the race, most others had scores in the high 60s too and the person in first had a 37 lol.  We weren't the only ones who were victim to the wall - I saw some horses who wouldn't even go past X so I guess we got off easy.

  Next up was stadium and I was feeling pretty good about this phase.  Such a change for me, but a welcomed change.  Rails were flying and horses were stopping all over.  I knew Penny could jump around for me but could I hold myself together for her?  We saluted once we entered the ring and away we went.  We had a beautiful first three fences but the ground was sticky.  I overrode fence 4 which was a one stride then 4 strides to fence 5.   I saw no distance and thought for sure we would take down the whole jump but somehow Penny managed to jump it and not touch a rail. I kicked her onto the second part and we finished the line clean.  I realized I needed to stop picking and let her do her thing and the rest of the course rode like a dream.




4b...struggling to hold on!



 We had no rails but .5 of a time fault and I'm sure that is from my over riding and adding strides!  I was absolutely thrilled with Penny though.  Time and time again she proves in the show jumping that she can lay down a clear round and cart my ass around like a campaigner.  God I love this horse.  Shortly after we started prepping for cross.  As this event is run as a "Ride for the Cure" with donations going to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, competitors are encouraged to wear pink to show their support.  If you look closely on Pennys bum, I added a ribbon quarter marking to symbolize the pink ribbon.  Jess has pretty much everything under the sun in pink, and she kindly lent me her things so we could go all out.

 We were decked in pink and ready to rock.  Before I knew it the start box timer was counting me down and letting me loose on course with his trademark "have a good ride!".  Penny shot out of the start box like a rocket and I thought - "oh wow she is game today!"  We had an awesome jump over the first and as you make a 90 degree turn to the second she started gawking at the second fence.  I smacked her on the shoulder and gave her a "let's go!" and she popped over it.  I decided to take the option at fence three because of this and then got lost along the way - adding even more time to our long route.  Oops.  We soared over three when we got there and had a huge big effort over 4 - a max oxer.  Number 4 has to be one of my most favorite jumps in the world, it just rides so beautifully.






   Fence 5 was the bank up and then a steep climb to the oxer at 6 which Penny blasted over.  Then to the top of the hill - a 2 stride on an angle and she came right back and popped over them easily.  Down the huge hill to the corner at 8 and another easy fence for her.  I will say this horse is extremely surefooted and had 0 issue galloping down a steep hill.  We made way across the stone wall then to the one stride bounce combination to the skinny chevron.  This rode beautifully and we headed straight for the stairs down.  I could feel Penny looking so I gave her a sharp smack on the shoulder and said "good girl come on lets go!".  Seems to be all she needed because she went for the stairs and I actually had to pull her back from galloping down them!

  From there we went through the woods which is full of twists and turns and hills and we just galloped through the entire wooded area.  We jumped the cabin at 13 and she came right back for the coffin and jumped through that bravely.  Out of the woods we jumped a big table and headed to the water.  Sticking to my plan, having jumped clear to this point I decided to take the cautious route at the water.  We jumped in an angle over the first log and swung left, looped back and she popped over the second log no issue.  Just one more fence after the water and Penny took a flyer over it - galloping across the finish line.  We were around 25 seconds over the time which was expected having taken the long route at fence 3 and adding my own long route at the water.  This added 11 time penalties to our score but it didn't matter - we were home clear at a very tough training level!  


most devilish grin because my plan worked hahaha

telling her she is the best girl ever


LOVE this shot - Penny is locked onto 18



home clear!
  We headed back to the trailer to sponge her down and walk her out.  I think I was more tired than she was though - she dragged me all the way back to the trailer and I could hardly keep up.  Looks like I may have to take up jogging if I plan at eventing at a higher level lol.  She recovered really well, had a big drink and munched some hay while I poulticed her and packed our things.  We put the horses on the trailer where it was shady and had a nice breeze blowing through while we waited for results.

 As it turns out there were a few stops and eliminations at that tricky fence 3 - this helped move us way up to finish 5th!  Without time faults we would have finished 3rd which is impressive when you are starting out in 10th place ahah.  BUT as with anything in eventing, I can't be certain she would have jumped clear had I taken the direct route.  Something to love and hate about eventing - the what ifs!

 That being said my goal was to complete and have a positive experience and I think I can confidently say we achieved that!  I am still in shock we finished with 2 clear rounds and finished 5th to came home with this beautiful ribbon.  I am so so lucky for every day I have Penny in my life.  Next stop - dressage land!



**All photos are copyright Christina Handley Photography.  I have purchased these photos with a $50 donation to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation as part of Lanes End Horse Trials Ride for the Cure.




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