Thursday, 19 January 2017

First Lesson of 2017

Operation JumpAllTheFences (aka teach Savvy and myself how to jump and start eventing this summer) is officially under way with my first lesson of the year.

Ready to ride!
I was scheduled to start last Thursday, but weather kiboshed my plans with a super fun wind/snow storm. This Thursday however, offered up a perfect sunshiny day with warm temps to boot.

Just a typical Manitoba morning...where no horse gets ridden. :(

It turns out a few months off from heading anywhere with my horse was enough to bring on some serious nerves, but the whole trip there went just fine and I didn't even hurt myself this entire outing! Gold star for me!

Although there was one casualty - one of my winter riding boot soles came right off (luckily at the end of my lesson though). 

I arrived well before my lesson and had a lot of time to lunge her around the massive arena (which I had all to myself!) and show her all the mirrors/giant advertisement signs and see what kind of horse she would be after so much time off.

She spooked once when she kicked some sand against the wall and then again at an advertisement with a large horse picture on it. She had to sniff the pic right on the horse's nose a few times before she was sure it wasn't a real horse.

I knew keeping Savvy from getting too hot would be a major issue with this plan. It was great for me to be in a heated arena, but the fluffbum was already sweaty before I even got on. Once the coach arrived, I explained I would be fine with a really easy-on-the-horse type lesson so Savvy wouldn't get too hot. So two-point torture would be my fate. Maybe I should have told her I was also just getting back into work as well and shouldn't over-do it?

Wonder pony was pretty sceptical about this whole back to lessons thing.

As the lesson progressed, the arena went from empty to horse after horse coming in which was great practise dealing with the automatic overhead door opening again and again and keeping Savvy focused on task no matter what cute gelding had just come in.

And she was great! Not perfect obviously - there was a lot of head bobbing as per usual, some serious side eye every time we passed a horse and a bit of jumpiness at random noises (like snow sliding off the roof), but I was happy with the level of relaxation in her walk and trot and it felt quite enjoyable to ride.

As for all the two-point practise, I will not be walking tomorrow.

Next week I will head back and work on all the positional stuff we covered today, and moving forward, I think I will stick with the bi-weekly lessons at least until this whole winter/can't ride at home issue clears up.

It is amazing just how good I feel now. It was so great to get back to riding! Anyone else find nothing beats a good ride for your mood? Or is any kind of horse time do the trick?

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Baby Steps


I can't even tell you how excited I am for my plans this year. When I was a little girl, I had a Shetland pony. That poor little thing tolerated every whim of a 7-year-old's imagination. We did all the things that would make a parent's heart stop: from my daring attempts pretending to be a stunt rider, or racing my sister on her (much slower) pony out in the fields, to pretending I was eventing, taking my wee pony through ditches, over fallen trees and just general galloping around as fast as her little legs could go.

Flash and Flicka (no I did not name her that)

I progressed with horses through 4-H, competing in everything Western with a bit of English and then as an adult getting into much more of an English focus with hunter/jumper lessons and competing as well as immersion into dressage madness last year. However, that dream of eventing has always been in the back of my mind. It really feels like now or never. I am not getting any younger.

Things have been falling into place and I do believe this will be the year I actually set foot on an eventing course.

 As fate would have it, the Manitoba Horse Trials Organisation had decided to hold an information session for newbies to the sport this month. (Bonus it was held at Greenhawk tack store and they offered us special discounts that evening-so shopping!) They filled us in on how everything runs here in Manitoba, tack/equipment needed, coaches, rules, upcoming events, etc.

Cross rails...its a start!

So here are the levels:
  • Pre-Entry Entry (equitable to USEA Beginner Novice)
  • Pre-Training (equitable to USEA Novice): XC: fences maximum height 0.91 m; ditch 1.50 m; drops 1.10 m; Stadium fences: 0.96m
  • Training: XC: fences maximum height 1.00 m ditch 1.80 m drops 1.40 m; Stadium fences: 1.05 m
  • Preliminary: XC: fences maximum height 1.10 m ditch 2.80 m drops 1.60 m; Stadium fences: 1.15 m
  • Intermediate: XC: fences maximum height 1.15 m ditch 3.20 m drops 1.80 m; Stadium fences: 1.20 m
  • Advanced: XC: fences maximum height 1.20 m ditch 3.60 m drops 2.00 m; Stadium fences: 1.25 m

 There is a planned clinic in May and three derbies scheduled for this year. They explained the derbies are very 'beginner' friendly and are basically schooling shows.

There are cross-country jumps located in the park 20 minutes from my house. These are available for use for a $20 fee per day, but you must be accompanied by a coach who has also paid a fee.

Also because of reciprocity agreements, having a MHT membership (which is surprisingly affordable) allows you to attend two Dressage Winnipeg shows without paying for the DW membership (not affordable), as well as I believe two hunter/jumper shows without additional membership fees. This is under review however, but hopefully does not disappear.

Possibly my hero - Elisa Wallace doing her thang, being awesome as always.

My plan at this point is to start out riding Savvy at the first clinic and derby. Shiraz is still a green-bean walk/trot machine and will be turning 4 this spring. Even though she has been really good so far in her training, I am still a bit concerned about jumping a 4-year-old but we will see how it goes. Savvy may not be an overly talented jumper at this point, but I feel safe riding her and think she is actually going to enjoy the challenge and variety this sport brings. (She is super smart and gets bored pretty quickly!) Plus I get to still enjoy working on dressage because it is in my blood now and there is no cure.

For now, I need to get back to riding and I have a plan for that - trailer over to a heated arena once a week and possibly jump lessons once every second week. Riding at home beyond a walk is just not possible because of snow, but I am filling each and every day with tons of ground work, lunging over poles/cross rails and desensitising work.

Are you trying something new this year? I would love to hear about it!