Saturday, 28 October 2017

Pace and Chase

Better late than never!  Here's a post that I wrote awhile back about a small show I went to in August.  


The day started relatively leisurely for a show day.  I grabbed breakfast on the way to the barn, another friend had hooked up her truck and 3 horse trailer the night before for us to use.  I had originally planned to braid since my mom was supposed to come watch, but she bailed out due to forest fires threatening her town.  I knew that was a possibility, and I haven't braided in awhile so I figured I might as well stick to my plan and braid anyways even if it's just a schooling show.

For those that don't know the pace part of the show is jumping solid obstacles in a match-the-clock format.  The chase aspect is doing the same course in groups of 2-4 horse/rider combinations.  You must get all horses over one obstacle before continuing to the next.  So, if one horse refuses then you need to be close enough to communicate that the lead horse needs to wait up.

It's also important to note that this is our first time showing without my coach being present.  Two shows in one weekend and all.  Athena is really quite good about everything.  She hasn't been the first horse loaded in an angle haul since I brought her home, but that was a non-issue.  Then during warm-up she trotted and cantered around like it ain't no thang.  There was and X rail and a 2'3 vertical set up in a warm up area so we hopped over those a few times in a figure-8 pattern.  I have been working on self-reminders.  Hands forward and down.  Leg ON.  Body quiet.  Look where I want to go (not AT the jump), especially the solid jumps.

We went over to do our first course, the pace aspect.

Fence one was going towards the gate, 90 degree turn left to a small bench.  Another 90 degree turn to a house which jumped a bit weird each time for me.  Then a bit of distance to a log pile which was just past the ditches.  The first time through I wasn't quite sure the line I should take to this so I went between the 2 ditches and had a stop because angles and decisions were all bad.  Then another relatively quick 90 degree to the right, maybe a bit more than 90 to a gate looking jump.  I'm mostly sure I angled that every single time because it was hiding behind a bush and even when I knew it was there I wasn't quite sure exactly where.  From there it was a slight bending line to six, right to seven & eight.  Another right and jumping down the biggest drop Athena has ever been asked to do. (Note: we've only schooled drops twice before and the last time was into water and she really didn't want to do it).  Left again to the final two fences which rode very nicely as they were again coming back towards home.

Aside from the hiccup at four I was really pleased with how the round went.  Then immediately my friend and her pony came in and we did the chase!  Athena has been so good lately with leading that we decided that I'd lead and she'd come up behind us.  Turns out the whole way we were only about one stride apart.  There were another two teams in the chase, one team had a good pace but we were a bit better in our pacing and snagged up 1st place!

My friends other horse had some nervous issues going on so we decided that I would just re-ride the pace at the same height and she just got him working a little and call it a day.  I ended up placing 5th in the pace (solo) class.

Overall a great weekend, spent with some lovely people.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Back to Lessons: Recap

I started taking lessons again on Monday this week.  My last lesson being back in May/early June.  Then late June we had a cross country camp (3 days jumping!) in which I fell off and hurt myself.  I still rode but it wasn't necessarily pretty or done well.  It's hard to ride when it hurts to sit in the saddle and your horse tends to need some hand-holding up to the fence.

Anyways, I'm feeling infinitely better after 5-6 weeks of not jumping, but still flatting.

Monday's lesson was indoors due to the crazy smoke and heat (for Alberta).  Athena was very good!  She sometimes would swap leads through the line but she typically would swapped back around the corner as we came to do the line again.  Since we haven't been jumping a lot lately the lesson stayed simple, X to ground poles to get her going then one-stride to a small vertical.  Then putting in a 3rd obstacle which eventually changed to an oxer.  I had a few moments of getting left behind and I have a habit of doing a bit of fetal position/pulling my hands to my chest.  At least I'm becoming more self-aware again and am able to recognize in an out-of-body sort of way that I am doing it and correcting myself.  It's a process.  It gets better then worse then better again depending what's going on.

Mostly we were trotting in, cantering out.  Near the end we did canter in and I couldn't see the distance to the first fence for the life of me.  So, in my green-ness instead of just staying centred and balanced I'd mess with Athena and we'd add instead of just trusting her to take me there from a long spot.  Tip from my coach: if your TB doesn't have a great top line they prefer a long spot to a short one.  This wasn't earth-shattering for me, but we've taken a lot of long spots and Athena can be an enthusiastic jumper... and I'm a chicken.  Especially when she jumps me out of the tack, which happens a little more than I'd like to admit.  But despite me pulling on her and getting left behind she is a saint and just goes.

We flatted on Tuesday and worked on some transitions.

Wednesday evening I had another lesson this time outside!  It was our first time jumping in the bigger jumper ring out back.  Not that it phased either of us since we've been out there plenty - watching other lessons last year while she healed from injuries, then flatting around whenever we can this year.

We started off simple again trotting through a short two stride (X to ground pole) then increasing to a vertical and oxer combination.  Generally the line rode more naturally to the right, but to mix it up we'd go left a few times and take the sharp left again back to the line.

After a few times through that we went through the "real" two-stride.  Due to me being not-so brave, I have a tendency to hold her and we end up with a short choppy stride.  And wouldn't you know we managed to get a three in the two-stride line.  After going through it a few times we did get the two a couple times.  As I've said above though, as soon as she starts moving out I get worried and slow her down again.  I've even been trying to practice letting her go more but it's not always easy when the bigger ring is locked up and until the crops are harvested we can't go around the fields.  We also added in jumping a row of barrels, which rode much easier than the verticals despite being on the wrong lead.

Next up, we did the barrels to the two-stride and around to the far oxer.  Not important but, I had 2 other friends riding this lesson with me.  First friend rolls a barrel. Then I go and drop a rail on the second part of the two-stride.  Third goes and she pulls a rail on the first part of the two-stride.  A few times later I managed to get the combo by grabbing one of the oxer rails.  After that our coach said we had to dismount and get our own rails.  Darn.

We ended with a nice long line of barrels to the three-stride.   Wouldn't you know it, the first time through we were going to get four... but I stared that last jump down and we lost our rhythm and forward momentum.  Of course I sat there and continued to stare down the fence.  What is wrong with me?  We came again (just the three) and did it (in four).  Athena is really good about jumping the things and she does give me some leeway with my amateur flailing, but if I don't have enough leg on she won't do the things.  We had a small break while my friends did the exercise, then came at it again with my coach really reminding me to put on more leg and to look up!  Guess what?  We got the three! So, we just kept rolling and came around to do it again, and again.  We did get another four.. but I was starting to get the idea!

We ended with me getting a three with a fairly good position (read: not left behind).  Lookout Spruce Meadows... we're coming!  Eventually... #goals.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Mare goes Trail riding

A few weeks ago a friend and I decided to load up and haul out to the mountains for a trail ride.  Neither of our horses have really done a "proper" trail ride before.  However, that didn't deter us due to her pony being such a rockstar.  So, as I have done a lot more hiking I offered to find a trail and she would do the driving.

After getting stuck in weekend warrior traffic on our way out.  This road is notorious for backing up but I still said to take it because I thought the Monday of a long weekend wouldn't be as bad... I was wrong.

It was a solid 45 mins later than expected but we did arrive and the equestrian parking lot was super welcoming!  Nice spots to back the rig into that were angled.  Some had picnic tables and others had hitching posts.  I only used the picnic table to mount up.  Note: Athena in new places is okay but sometimes she reverts to dancing around specifically when I'm trying to mount.  Thanks mare.

So many new things!  Athena was alert but for the most part not spooky.  The one exception was the bicycles that came whizzing by us downhill.  She really came unglued at those but because I had dismounted to walk across our first bridge I was able to contain her a little quicker and disallow her to run off.

Not "the" muddy section, just regular wet here.

We also had our first mud experience which both horses did wonderfully.  Followed quickly by the first creek crossing (no bridge) but it was only at best a metre across so even if we jumped over its not a big deal.  Athena surprised me though by stepping in the moving water and just casually walking through it after having a little think about the whole scenario.  The "lookout" was all treed in which was a little disappointing.

So we ended up not chilling out at the top for more than about 2 minutes.  Thankfully we did get a nice view a little ways down the trail!

I love being so close to the mountains!  We are definitely going to try to get out for another excursion sooner than later.  It's so good for the horses to mix things up for them as a mental break.  Though I don't think Athena had a break per se from this trip.  She practically climbed into the trailer when we were all done.  Its a lot to think about for her first mountain trip.

Do you ever take your horse trail riding?  What other activities do you use to break up the usual routine?

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Rocking E Blog Hop: 10 Questions

1) What is your earliest, clearest horse memory?

That would have to b riding two-up on my friend's mom's arabian, Dar.  She was really good for the two of us girls to toodle around the yard on.  My step-dad (who is VERY allergic to horses) was the enabler in this, since it was his friends who owned the horse and they just happened to have a daughter who was close to my age.

2) Describe the perfect summer day.

A gentle breeze (to whisk away bugs), warm sunshine, riding in the mountains - preferably somewhere without scary bicycles.  Ending the ride by a lake and going for a swim/cooling off horses.

3) Are you reading anything right now? Tell me about it!

I just finished The Walking Dead, Compendium 1 for the second time.  Soon to start Compendium 2!

4) Do you follow a celebrity (horsey or non) that you’re embarrassed to say fascinates you? Tell me. NOW.

Due to my location I tend to creep a little bit on some "big name" show jumpers such as Ian Millar, Eric Lamaze, and Beezie Madden.  Unfortunately, this weekend I have social commitments so no creeping around Spruce for me.

5) What is your single most biggest horsey dream or goal?

Comfortably jumping and competing.  I don't really have a height goal for jumping, just doing what we feel like.  This also partly comes from Athena now being 16, and while I know horses can compete into their 20's, I have been finding myself trying to follow her lead when it comes to how much is enough.

6) If you were at Starbucks right now, what would you order?

Americano, add white chocolate sauce (half sweet), room for milk.

7) What is your biggest equine pet peeve?

People who are close minded and aren't willing to learn new things from different people with different perspectives.

8) With everything going on politically and in the media, tell me, do you follow it religiously? Tune it out? Or something in between?

I avoid politics.

9) If you had to show your horse to a song, what would you choose?

I'm partial to either Push It by Salt N Pepa or Anything by Hedley.  I know it kinda conflicts with my goals answer, but it gets me pumped to do the things well (as in push myself to be a better rider).

10) What are you most looking forward to this summer?

Camping with the ponies!  It's at a eventing show grounds so stalls available, jumps to be jumped, and a full 4 days of horses and friends.  The SO is coming along too which just tickles me!

Friday, 9 June 2017

2016 Recap

So I wrote this... a few months ago.  PS I'm not a very consistent blogger.





(it's me)

I haven't posted lately.  I've been a bit busy but also not super motivated about posting, unfortunately.

So 2016 in review:


  • Chiro visits, Athena loved it!
  • Athena had her clip refined (she needs more than a trace clip).
  • I made a quarter sheet.
  • Riding outside!  In February!  
  • I locked myself out of my tack locker and had to manage out of my car.  Thankfully my saddle and bridle were at home and I had a spare pair of riding boots.
  • Jumping lessons continued to progress, jumping 2' - 2'3"
  • New bonnet came in from FUN bonnets, this is around the time that I learned I have an affinity for taking pictures of my mare with her eyes closed.
  • Grazing with Tess is the best!
  • We went to our very first show and it wasn't a disaster!
  • Grazing with Mark is fun too!
  • Equestrian expo and trade show "The Mane Event" with some of my fav horse gals happened.  It was great watching the Jim Wofford clinics.
  • Nothing super exciting or memorable horse related but I did start a new job.
  • One day in mid-May we had a weird lesson where Athena kept cross cantering.  Within the next week she came up lame.
  • We tried a few things before going to the vet: cold hosing, then after mild to no response we tried DMSO and wraps.  We were unable to go school cross country.
  • Lameness was assessed and vet determined the underlying cause is arthritic hocks.  So, we do injections.
  • Yay! Everything is good again, work continues after completing her prescribed rest period.
  • Start jumping lessons?  Think again puny human!  Athena is lame again.
  • A suspicious bump appears on her leg...
  • Still lame after approx. 2 weeks.  Time to get the vet again.  
Yep, that's a fracture.

August - October
  • Hand-grazing while the weather held and then after it got crappy we ended up just chilling in the barn a lot while her BoT wraps did their circulatory magic, then the ice boots did their magic.
  • I read a lot of books.
  • Started riding again after follow up x-rays.  Very short rides but oh so blissful!
  • We were still working up to longer rides but at least we were trotting now!
  • By the end of the month we were cantering for short periods.
  • More riding!
  • Christmas!
  • Stress!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016


Back in March we did a hunter show, came 2nd in our "match-the-clock" jumper class and then 4th/5th in hunter U/S, equitation, handy hunter, and hunter O/F (in no particular order).

Here are some of the pictures from our adventures.

Those knees <3 <3 <3


The plus side of small shows- it looks like you're awesome with many ribbons!

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Goals 2016

I had my first lesson of 2016 yesterday. I've learned that Athena is a little sassy and only likes doing things her way.  I suspect this is partly due to her 10 year hiatus where she was used as a broodmare and didn't have to really work.  So the goals...

- Better flat work, including more consistently getting her right lead and bending to the right

- Improve my seat with no-stirrups work

- Stretch more, both me and Athena

- Shows. I'm not sure which yet but there will be some

- Fox hunting

- Possibly cross country schooling

I love how much improvement we've had since switching barns 3 months ago.  It makes me so excited to be progressing and seeing change in Athena.

Also, car troubles suck.

Happy New Year!