Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hawaii, Here We Come!

Of course I'll miss the ponies.

Ellie had a swollen ankle and cannon this past weekend- egads! Luckily she was sound and the vet report is it's simply a bruise- wrap, bute, and carry on.

Wilbur's sale ad went up today. Fingers crossed for a few good offers!

A fun outtake from the show!

Monday, September 28, 2015

New York, New York

While I'm busy prepping for my next trip I had to share some pics from my most recent NYC visit with Kate!

A visit to the One World Observatory, a new scooter, rock climbing with her friends......and two kick boxing classes!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Selfie Smooch

What better way to show off my new Hawaii hair? Four inches gone and T-minus two days until I'm relaxing beach side with  Mai Tai. Paul and I are off to celebrate five years of wedded bliss!

Of course this snap was pre-wax appointment today where the Esthetician literally removed half of my eyebrow. I dried my tears- I'm sure they'll grow back during my ten day vacation!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Strides and Tides: Sunday

I was tired on Sunday. My sweet friend let me crash in her hotel room in the North Bay on Saturday night so I stayed for the Grand Prix and we got a late night bite. As with any hotel room, sleep doesn't come easily, and I felt like I had barely shut my eyes when it was time to wake up.
Ellie is also tired. And moments later put her face in that pile of poop. 
Nevertheless we persevered, the heat was back, but classes were early and running on time. We had good rides in our first two equitation over fences. Actually, scratch that. We were having a GREAT ride in the second course. A long ride to the final oxer and I felt Ellie slowing down... our quarter was running out. Unfortunately I was also too tired and slow to react. She broke to a trot. Sigh.
Up next was our equitation under saddle and after Saturday's poor performance and my exhaustion I told Ali I thought we should scratch the class. Again I owe Ali a "thank you." She recommended that we do it and reminded me that the classes were practice for Ellie. Like duh. That's why we're here!

Lauren or Kristen's blog posts had yet to be published, where they discuss body-shaming both in the show ring and out, and truth was I felt a little self conscious being judged on solely on my equitation amidst a group of svelte riders. I know Ellie looks good....but me?

Well wouldn't you know? We came out second. A huge burst of confidence in my flatwork.

We ended our Sonoma Show with the 2'-2'3" Medal. We were having a nice ride, a little cross canter in our bending line. But that lone, last oxer struck again. Coming out of the turn I just couldn't feel a rythmn. Too fast? Too slow? Whatever, just kicked for it. 

And I lost my stirrup. Truth. It's in the video. 

Overall we had a lovely time! Already looking forward to next year!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Strides & Tides: Saturday

Although I was at the show bright and early on Saturday morning, my ride time wasn't scheduled until 12:30, which left plenty of time for me to think....and work myself into a nervous frenzy.

First mistake of the day? Getting too excited about the 'made to order' blueberry pancakes. I usually don't eat before I ride and going completely and glutinously off the rails did nothing to help with my butterflies.

I had been keeping a pulse on my ring with the plan to start working on the boots (not quite stretched enough) about an hour before class time and slowly getting myself ready. Imagine my dismay when the ring started calling for the Long Stirrups a freaking hour early. Like on what planet does a horse show run ahead?

It's fine. All good. The boots went on, I got dressed, Ellie got tacked up, and off we went.

The weather, which up until Saturday, had been positively boiling- was now a windy, overcast day. Ellie was enjoying the cooler air as well as warming up in a ring she had never been in before. I on the other hand, was a bit of a struggle bus. Working through the nerves we jumped a few fences and headed over for our two Hunter Over Fences classes.

I wish I could say I felt like the classes went well. Instead, while Ellie was motoring around, I wasn't really riding. More like hovering. Like a cling-on. And nothing bad happened. Like many others we got down the five stride line in a six. Had a chip here and there.

But so many good things! All of our lead changes happened. We made it around a course of 8 fences twice. I don't think that would have happened three months ago.
And we ended up with decent scores of 70 and 72 which ended up netting two fourths.

Despite our success I came out of the ring after the second course and burst into tears. I mean, not burst per say....more like quietly weeped.
It's just too much stress. I put too much pressure on myself to be the best. And frankly, while we had success, I didn't feel as though I rode my best.

We had a 45 minutes break before our Under Saddle class, Ellie got a moment to relax at the barn, and I tried to pull myself together.

That time flew by and before I knew it I was back in the ring. "Look at us and our nice flowing canter!" "Look at us using the quarter line to best show off!" "Aren't we beautiful?" Apparently not- as we ended up sixth. My friend told me that Ellie looked strung out and my trainer said that when I fiddle with my hands Ellie gets pissed, and looks pissed.
I hate flat classes.

Last but not least, our final class of the day. I had asked Ali to sign us up for the "Bronze Hunter Challenge," 2'-2'3" course that boasted a bending line, trot fence, and roll back. Oh- and it was open to anyone so we had a plethora of ponies and young riders in the warm up ring.

And here's where I say, "Thank you Ali." She threw a martingale on that mare, got me in the warm up ring over one fence, and we went second into that class of 15+ horses.
Once the trainers get their groups of ponies ready to go we could have been waiting forever and the last thing I needed was time the think.

Our warm up fence was great. Ellie was a little tired, I was a little tired.

On the way to the in-gate I spotted not only members of my new barn, but old KMT teammates standing along the fence. Everyone gave me encouraging smiles and in we went!

This round.... I went in with a smile. I saw a distance into our first line and went for it with a smile. Ellie bulged in the roll back- I straightened her out. Trot fence- please- we're experts. We finally got our 5 strides. And came out with a giant smile and a 76, which placed us third for the class.

It's amazing what happens when you just go in and have fun!
A great way to round out our first day!
Ellie don't care

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Letting the Suspense Build

I'm heading to New York for a few days after a marathon two days of work. The Horse Show blues are setting in (as well as exhaustion) and I'll save my novel of a suspenseful Long Stirrup weekend for when I return on Sunday. In the meantime, enjoy this video of Ellie and I motoring around in our Sunday first round equitation!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Strides & Tides: Friday

The fun didn't stop with Ellie's Baby Greens! Rather than come home on Thursday as originally planned, Ellie and I have been making such great progress that I decided to stay on for the weekend and ride in the Long Stirrup Division.

That meant that Ellie got a day off from showing and I had planned to go into the office on Friday and get some work done because it's actually impossible to put a pause on your inbox (I'll know for next time that an out of office message is a must)!
BUT when Diane suggested I come out Friday to practice I just couldn't resist. I put in some face time at work for the first half of the day, but was quick to scoot out and spend the afternoon at the show!

I jumped on towards the end of the day with the plan of watching my barnmate, Jen, show in her jumper class from horseback, hack around a bit, and pop over a few things.

The wind had picked up, and while Ellie was unflappable, I was more spooky than normal. It didn't help that a horse slipped, fell, lost its rider, and raced around the warm up ring I was in moments after we entered it.

Ali quickly scooped me up and suggested we school around in the ring we'd be riding in over the weekend. That required crossing a tiny bridge into a new space that Ellie hadn't seen yet. Cue shot nerves.

Poor Ali. I just kept saying things like, "I can't feel my feet (bad time to break in boots)," "I'm so nervous," "this is really scary."

She just kept us working around and we finally trotted over the little purple, cantered on to another single, and through a little line.

A short and successful school before stepping into the ring for our first real show together!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Strides & Tides: Wednesday and Thursday

Ellie arrived at the show on Monday and had a perfect schooling day on Tuesday so I could not wait for her debut in the Baby Green Division on Wednesday!

I showed up pretty dang early so hit up the VIP tent for some breakfast and followed Diane and Ali around, videoing their rounds.
The early part of the week is typically pro rides- and I had no problem letting Ellie have her best first show experience with Ali!

She ended up going at around 10:30- I hovered around anxiously while Ali schooled her and got ready to go into the ring!

For all of my anxiety- she acted like an old pro. Jumped around beautifully, didn't peek at anything, and actually looked a bit bored by the 2'6" fences. She ended up with a second in her warm up, third in her first over fences (score of 75), sixth in her second over fences (score of 76....which I may have misheard because she actually picked up the wrong lead in her courtesy circle), and a third in the flat.

I was SO proud of her! Spent the rest of the day trying to do a little work amidst a sea of fancy horses.....very distracting!

This is what I arrived to on Thursday morning.....
A very sudsy horse who was wondering what the heck was going on at this ungodly hour!

The same lovely routine as Wednesday. Relax. Drink some coffee. Video. 

 And whoops! It's time to go!!!

Ellie seemed a little less bored and just a touch brighter for these two jumping rounds. She scored a 76 in the first and...wait for it....an 80 in the second. Two blue ribbons and a Reserve Champion later I could not be more pleased with her performance. I'm glad she was able to be competitive amongst a set of quality horses and I'm already planning her move up into Pre-Greens......after I win the lottery of course.
 Ali had a successful day with both Ellie and Bravo, another quirky horse that she has been investing time in. I'm so glad to be working with someone who can see the best in horses and really partner with them to bring it out! Well deserved wins!

Thursday, September 10, 2015


A great two days! But also exhausting. On to the weekend!!! Long Stirrup- here we come!

Will leave you with this nugget until next week!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Show Day Tomorrow!

Ellie playing dead in turnout.....she is clearly SO excited to show! Wish her luck!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Horse Show Prep: Packing the Trunk

More like unpacking the contents of a trunk into a blue Ikea tarp bag, that holds basically the entire world, and realizing how much Back on Track stuff you own (due to an unfortunate Black Friday deal) but actually never use. This Ikea bag goes to live in your basement for about a week until it can go back to it's rightful coffin.

Then you shift some items from the other trunk to this newly emptied version, all the while wondering what exactly you are forgetting.

So without further adieu.... the contents of my show trunk:

* two schooling pads
* half pad
* show fitted pad
* two girths (sheepskin and leather)
* martingale
* bridle
* Waterford Dee, Plain Dee, Sparkle Bit (just in case)
* hairnets
* shoe polish
* boot pulls and jelly band (for breaking in new boots)
* helmet
* gloves
* bat
* basic grooming tools (curry, medium brush, tail brush, hoofpick, rag) + flyspray, Vetrolin Shine, Cowboy Magic Green Spot
* stable sheet
* standing wraps
* schooling boots
* saddle (is with me)

Listen. I've got until Wednesday to grab any last minute items. What am I forgetting?!? What is your hose show trunk must have!?!
Before and Clean!

Packed and Ready to Show!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Birthday Fun!!!

Oh man, what a great day!

I got up and went to an early gym, picked up coffees for Paul and I, then changed and headed to the barns. A wonderful ride on the Ellie at 9:30- despite the fact that Ali has been manning the fort while Diane has been showing down South, she still took the time to give me a private lesson!

Off to see Wilbur around 11 and Amanda tacked him up and put him through his paces. Some fun video of them tackling trail obstacles. I hopped on for a quick moment after for a little trot- he feels great!

After a delicious salad from the salad bar of Farmer Joes (and an episode of Downton Abbey) I headed off to the pedicure that Paul treated me to and got 10 minutes extra of foot rub! Heavenly!

Dinner at my favorite Zachary's Pizza with Paul and little sister Celia and then home for cake and presents!
A great first day of 32!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

31x31 Challenge- Recap

On the eve of my birthday I have to take a moment and acknowledge that the 31x31 challenge I had set for myself last year was a bit of a tragic failure. Rather than admit total defeat I'm going to carry this into my 32nd year and keep on learning!

In retrospect, 31 was a busy and great year for me. My responsibilities expanded at work, Wilbur came home in November, Ellie had a major barn move, and as a birthday gift last year Paul had gotten me an 8 week cycle at my current gym (which I proud to say I have carried on with for the past year).

Looking forward to seeing what 32 holds!

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