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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Let's all raise a collective eyebrow and have a small freakout session over my jacket-less debut at the KMT schooling show Medal final.
It was terribly improper of me, I know. The sad truth? I can't exact fit into any of my hunt coats right now. I thought about going for the Ariat super stretch soft shell but wasn't about to take the chance of, gasp, flashing my show shirt when the snap buttons....unsnapped.
Forget about soft elbows let alone bending arms that are stuffed into the sleeves like tiny sausages.

Did I care for a single moment that I was not in a show coat? Of course not! I was neatly turned out, my horse impeccably turned out (minus a tiny poop on face- inevitable)- and ready to rock my division!

I'm busting my butt 6 days a week in my fitness class and know that when it's (rated) show time next year those damn coats will be too big!

So chill. It'll be fine.
Grey on grey on grey camo- so no one can see me

Sunday, September 28, 2014

KMT Medal Final

A friend told me today that horse shows are made up primarily of angst with a little bit of hope thrown in..... which is why we keep coming back.

We had the usual share of frustration but today's hope came in the form of an ass kicking Eq round- complete with a roll back and bending line.

The flat round. Meh. We need to keep working on getting a consistent pace and I need to get stronger.

First O/F round- dismal. Eerily reminiscent of the last show in July. Lots of running around and leaping from awkward spots.

Second O/F round. OMFreaking Amazing. Medium canter. Landed on her right lead for the roll back. Landed left lead for the bending line. I stopped trying to micromanage and she stopped flinging her head like a nut. A legit, well earned first place ribbon.

Medal O/F round. I mean really-  how do you improve upon perfection? While heads and tails above Round 1 we ran into a few tough spots. She gave me a flying change in the rollback but I rode her too far to the base and she caught a rail. Yes. A crossrail came down. I was very pleased with her willingness to carry onwards despite us both being a bit tired.

Medal U/S round- sad. I was tired, my leg was floppy. Ellie picked up the left lead instead of the right in front of the judge and then galloped around. The problem with letting her move out is that she has such a huge stride she ends up lapping everyone like 80 times. But bringing her back becomes a bit of a "break to a trot" battle. Again- just need to get stronger on my flatwork.

A few key callouts from today......

- We did it! We strung 8 canter fences together in a nice way. There's hope for us yet!

- Both Brook and Emma were so helpful with training today. Emma's advice- soft elbows. She laughed when she said "I don't care if you're flipping me the bird around the arena as long as you take away a few things I say." Just to be clear- I wasn't literally giving her the bird. But I appreciated that she took my attitude in warm up with a grain of salt and came back to review the courses with me!
When I asked Brook if I should just trot the last two rounds after our rough first she pushed me to try try again. If she hadn't given me a nudge we wouldn't have had our OMFA round!

- I love my barn friends! I was able to catch Tara and Tiamo rock their huntery jumper rounds. Jen and Pie were division Champions in Pile of Poles (if you recall- Pie has spent the last 5 month battling a severe eye infection that has left her partially blind in one eye). Jen called me yesterday afternoon for a little pre show pep talk after her unplanned dismount in an earlier lesson and I texted her at 6am today telling her how nervous I was.
Claire stopped by before her ride to ogle my ribbons and help me put Ellie away before joining Tara and I for a celebratory glass of wine.
It's so great to have a group of gals who I can cheer on, celebrate with, and who are always available to lend an ear!
Jen and Pie- back in action and Champion in their Pile of Poles!

Getting a kiss from Alison!

Ells is ready to call it a day

The official Medal pic

Good friends and a little wine!

End of Year Division Champs!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bae- what it really means

A bit of a random blogger break there. While I started the week off with the best of intentions I also began the week with a 5:40am flight out of SFO to Arkansas. Home Tuesday night around 9:15, long day Wednesday with Fall '15 line close plus dinner with the boss-man (Chevy's- yummo), then a quick day trip to Salt Lake with, you guessed it, a 6am flight time. Still at the airport enjoying a nice glass of wine before heading home!
Glad to see the tail end of this week! Is it too early for a rousing TGIF?

A few random fun notes from my week.....

Today I stopped by Seattles Best Coffee in SLC and was told to bring my cup by later for a free refill. When do you ever have a need for a refill at an airport? When you show up again at 2pm! YES!

I was reviewing my Instagram feed on the Long Term Parking Shuttle Tuesday night. I follow quite a few of the barn juniors and I keep seeing them use the word "bae" in reference to things but not understanding their generational shorthand I can never put it into context. So I googled the term, feeling fairly certain it's some type of Beyonce reference.......
I wonder if the girls realize that bae is the Danish word for poop.



Good morning Fayetteville, AR


Monsters

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Open Road and New Outlooks

A week has passed since my rather dramatic "I'm a bad rider and I don't know if I want to do this" post. I've had quite a bit of time to mull this over- a VERY long drive to and from San Luis Obispo (8 hours!!!) for a meeting this week.

Nothing beats the open road and some tunes with the windows down. Emma and Brooke have been playing the part of High School boyfriend while I corner them to blather on about my feelings.

I've determined that the catalyst for my outburst was writing the check for the saddle fix because I didn't even flinch. Which is pretty f-'d up considering the amount of money. Not custom saddle money- more like "new couch" money.

And while I giggle on this blog about using Ellie as a couch during hack day while I watch the "big girls" jump or my distinct love of trotting fences- news flash Emily- that's NOT why you are in a full training program at a show barn.

If my end goal is to enjoy the simple hack around (which I LOVE to do- and now Wilbur gets a job too), then I need to move Ellie to a self-service facility and do just that for a lot cheaper than I'm doing it now.

But that's not my end goal. I'd like to jump around a big Hunter course and maybe, one day, compete in a Derby.

After giving this situation some hard thought I came to a painfully simple conclusion. I need to work harder. Canter until Ellie needs a break, not stop when I need one. Jump what I'm told to jump. And push myself to ask for the more challenging option rather than defaulting to the easy.

I've already been putting this into practice with three really solid rides and I'm feeling great. If I am going to continue to make this investment in my hobby then I need to operate at 120% on every ride.

As silly as this realization might seem to some- I'm excited for my new-found attitude towards my sport and looking forward to seeing myself progress forward!
The lonely highway- a welcome relief from Bay Area traffic.

I stop at the Lululemon Outlet once a year as I'm passing through Gilroy. It would basically be a crime not to. 

My life. Feuding cats, wine, and work reports.

Monday, September 15, 2014

More Saddle Fun!

Just as I was about to lose all hope fitting my saddle I was able to connect with my CWD rep who came out to the barn last Thursday afternoon.

The prognosis? The panels had squished down with age and were sitting on either side of her spine versus riding on top.

The solution? Either re-panel or get a new saddle. As lovely as a shiny, sparkly CWD sounds- I used all of my birthday money and then some just to cover the new panels.

I wait for them to build my panels- 5 weeks. Then ship the saddle to France to have them put on- about a 2 week turnaround. Yes! The saddle has to go back to France. Sigh.

So in lieu of an October horse show I will (hopefully) have a saddle that fits the princess! I have to say, I'm relieved that we're making this fix and have gotten the ball rolling!

Has anyone else re-paneled a saddle? Ease my mind with a few positive stories!
Blurry photo- but ears are forward!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Schooling Show Fun!

My friend, Claire, rides at a barn on the same property as KMT and they had a schooling show today!

Ellie and I were invited to participate however a barn Dad had built an impressive series of jumps- a giant horse shoe to jump through, solid brick wall, a train that has a locomotive AND caboose- and it would have been a little bit of a stretch for me to get around.
I don't know how these eventers do it!
But I think they have the right idea- the show didn't start until 11- perfect for a sleep in.

I was up and at 'em for my 9am- Brook, Ellie, and I worked on canter departs today. Made it over to see Claire show in her 2'6" division and she and Louie rocked!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Drats

Just one of those rides. Where you get off and are like- I'm a shitty rider. And then you start to wonder why you're even doing it in the first place.

I'm lucky to have good friends to commiserate with, who give good advice, and keep me motivated!

And this cute one....
Full of optimism!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Relic Tree Fitness

I don't have any horse fodder for this week because I really haven't been to the barn. For my birthday Paul got me an 8 week membership to Relic Tree Fitness which has daily "natural fitness" classes. I'm on my third day and the gist of natural fitness is building lean, mean muscle using your own body weight vs. machines or cardio equipment.

Some people might receive this type of gift and wonder what their significant other is trying to tell them. Not me friends! I LOVE it!

As horse owners we don't have a ton of expendable income and I've looked at boxing gyms, barre method programs, and the like- which all seem to fall way, way out of my budget.

I have struggled to not only find the time to work out, the motivation, but also to find a fitness program that I enjoy! I rock climbed at a local gym for about two years, which I loved, but, as it is a partner sport, I was spending 2+ hours at the gym and only climbing for maybe 45min. Combined with time at the barn I was never home!
And while the climbing was great for strength training, I hit a plateau at the 11A benchmark and realized that unless I got my weight under control I was not going to move up.

I'm not someone who can go to the gym and jump on an elliptical for an hour. BORING! I need an outside motivator! So right now- Relic Tree seems perfect. Small classes, short but powerful sessions, and a fun group of like minded people.

So if that means that my extra petting/ treating sessions with Ellie in the evenings are cut short for a few months while I work on getting fit and strong- so be it. Getting back in shape will make me a better rider!

I'm lucky to have a husband who encourages me to be my best! And gets me kittens! And lets me have horses!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Saddle Woes

As I watched my blogger buds go through the trials and tribulations of buying a saddle to fit their horse I was admittedly a little smug. As luck would have it my CWD fit Ellie perfectly. Or so I thought.

Kelly mentioned that she had been schooling in her Voltaire and that Ellie was less grumpy. I have been riding in it for about a week and that devil "no I don't want to canter forward" mare now loves to gallop around.
Damn it.

I've been stalking the CWD rep as of late and she should be out in the next two weeks to do an official fitting and lay out the options.
Fingers crossed for an easy (and cheap) fix!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Felix

Let's be real. This weekend was all about the kitten! What a snuggle bug!



Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Lesson

I'm taking my Sunday lesson with our new-ish assistant trainer- Brook. She's taken over a full time position now that Alison is living in Oregon and I'm excited to have her!

Naturally, given my delight at trotting crossrails, I put my poor trainers through the wringer. Rule of thumb- don't ask Emily what she'd like to do for her lesson. But what I enjoy so much about Brook is that her lessons don't focus on just getting over some jumps. She really identifies problem areas and then spends the lesson focusing in on tools that I can use on my own to help fix.

Case in point. I struggled with Ellie and her flying changes on Thursday. I don't have the innate feel that cues me into the perfect time to ask for the change. In our lesson today we worked at both a walk and trot on pushing her haunch over and haunches in exercises over poles.

It's a good reminder that there's a lot more to riding than just cantering a fence. Sometimes I get into the mindset of- I'll just let the trainers do it and enjoy the auto-changes later. But it is really gratifying when I come away with tools, even just superficial tools (and by that I just mean that my haunches in won't be nearly as organized or clearly defined as a trainer's version), that I can use to help in her training. It makes me a better rider for sure.

Thanks to friend, Lexi, for letting me catch a few rides on Jinx while she was out of town for the weekend!

Jinx is playing model for Claire and I while we showcase our new WEG Australia jackets!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Selfie: GPA Style

What would you do if you found a GPA lying around the office? Try it on and take a selfie to see how you look of course!
Too bad it's a bit too big or I would "borrow" it and dirty it up a bit. Just for authenticity in the photo shoots you know.






















Wednesday, September 3, 2014

31x31: Challenge 1

I successfully completed my first task by administering IM injections of progesterone to 2.5 horses with a passing grade from my awesome instructor, Kelly!

While I didn't give any IV injections (I think there was some fear I might kill a horse) I did observe several and after my experience I'm happy to leave those more tricky injections up to the trainers.

We started by filling our syringes, tapping out the bubbles, and reviewing the list of horses. Kelly demonstrated the first IM injection on Polly and then I was tasked with giving it a shot (haha) on Ellie.
I have never stuck a needle in anything other than a pin cushion and perhaps jabbed a bit too aggressively- I blame my shaking hands. As Ells was already giving us the hairy eyeball,  Kelly took over for the second demo. Still count that as half a horse.

By Honey (pictured below) I was starting to feel a bit more comfortable and was able to finish the injection with minimal (meaning still a fair amount) of coaching.

Oddly I found the most challenging part to be twisting the top off the needle without pulling the whole damn thing off entirely.

The learning process felt a bit clumsy and awkward, as expected when mastering something new, but I was excited to cross a task off my list on the very first day of the challenge!
Looking forward to a few more practice rounds to fine tune my new skill!

The 31x31 List
1. Body Clip
2. Give IM & IV Shots
3. Pull a Mane
4. Polo Wrap
5. Set a course (including gymnastic differences to trot poles, bounce, 1 stride)
6. Clean a stall
7. Sweat Wrap
8. Poultice
9. Braid- Mane and Tail
10. Name and find all tendons, ligaments, bones in the lower leg
11. Emergency response: choking, colic, etc- signs and treatment
12. Administer Bute, Banamine, Ace- circumstance and dosage
13. Hook up, drive, and back up a trailer
14. Pull a sprung shoe
15. Check vital signs- temperature, respiratory, pulse
16. Palpate major soft tissue structures in the leg
17. Clean a water trough
18. Tie a quick release knot and learn to ground tie
19. Pack and wrap feet
20. Learn identifiers of body condition scoring
21. Clean sheath/ teats
22. Basics of saddle fitting
23. Nutrition- what Ellie eats and why along with setting up grain for the barn
24. Properly fit a bridle
25. Groom at a show
26. Make up a basic first aid kit and understand basic shoeing tools
27. Learn anatomy of a horse and basic conformation
28. How to twitch- when to use and basic methods
29. Rasp a hoof
30. De-worm
31. Learn basic massage and stretch techniques

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

31x31 Challenge: Winner!

It's my birthday! And what better way to celebrate than kicking off 31x31! Thanks to all for the input and suggestions (and for not making fun of me)!

I actually crossed one off my list this morning (more on that later) along with a Mimosa and Bagel breakfast with barn friends and a lovely lesson!

The 31x31 List
1. Body Clip
2. Give IM & IV Shots
3. Pull a Mane
4. Polo Wrap
5. Set a course (including gymnastic differences to trot poles, bounce, 1 stride)
6. Clean a stall
7. Sweat Wrap
8. Poultice
9. Braid- Mane and Tail
10. Name and find all tendons, ligaments, bones in the lower leg
11. Emergency response: choking, colic, etc- signs and treatment
12. Administer Bute, Banamine, Ace- circumstance and dosage
13. Hook up, drive, and back up a trailer
14. Pull a sprung shoe
15. Check vital signs- temperature, respiratory, pulse
16. Palpate major soft tissue structures in the leg
17. Clean a water trough
18. Tie a quick release knot and learn to ground tie
19. Pack and wrap feet
20. Learn identifiers of body condition scoring
21. Clean sheath/ teats
22. Basics of saddle fitting
23. Nutrition- what Ellie eats and why along with setting up grain for the barn
24. Properly fit a bridle
25. Groom at a show
26. Make up a basic first aid kit and understand basic shoeing tools
27. Learn anatomy of a horse and basic conformation
28. How to twitch- when to use and basic methods
29. Rasp a hoof
30. De-worm
31. Learn basic massage and stretch techniques

Let's congratulate McKenzie Grundy! You are our winner! Please email me at wilburandemily (at) gmail (dot) com with your shirt size and address!

Cleaning tack. With a mimosa!