Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Feeling Scared

Where did my confidence go? I am really struggling right now just to jump cross rails. Hell, just riding circles in the arena, I am paying too much attention to Savvy's ears and preparing for spooks than actual good riding.

I realise I am only five rides in from a month away from jumping, and it will most likely return with work and time. But damn, I was looking at 2'3" like it was no big deal. Now cross rails (could it even be 12"?!) get my stomach flipping.

I can blame a lot of things: time off, cooler weather, Savvy doing her best leaping llama after the jumps and spooking again after a summer mostly spook free. Working with a pony with too many opinions who is not specifically talented in the direction I am taking her.

This pic makes me laugh, but I remember that day I felt like Savvy and I could have jumped anything in front of us.
Basically it comes down to keeping it familiar. The more we jump, the better Savvy goes and the more confident I become. So I need to keep this in mind and not allow time to slip past in between rides. Easier said than done sometimes but necessary if I ever hope to leave starter level in the future.

Part of me thinks maybe I can just stay in starter level for ever and have fun over little jumps. Honestly though, I cannot wait for the day that starter jumps become boring but first they have to stop looking huge. I know this would be easier if Savvy were more athletically inclined in the jumping department (not to mention less dramatic and possibly taller if I were to be honest about all my niggling worries). Working twice as hard for the most basic of levels is humbling and slightly humiliating. But we are all struggling in different ways.

I do feel proud of how much I have accomplished with Savvy this summer, even if it really does not look like much from the outside. I am also encouraged by how much Savvy seems to enjoy being out on the cross country field when I am riding well and she is not overfaced.

So, for now I will continue training for our September event (even if it takes a few shots of Jack Daniel's pre-ride for the next little while) and keep pushing myself back to our July level of jumps, one inch at a time if need be.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Way Leads onto Way

A whole month off. A recipe for creating setbacks in Savvy's progress most definitely. Late July and most of August were filled to the brim with life as it goes, i.e. haying, house renos, prepping for a dream vacation and then heading off to New York (!! :D !!) for an entire week.

This city had it all for me - I loved all the people (so freakishly friendly), all the restaurants (because food is always on my mind) and all the horses (everywhere!) to get my fix while missing my own ponies.
I am quite sure Savvy enjoyed her time off as well. In fact, she most certainly acted like she might want even more time off the first time back into riding this week. I mean, not standing still while I tried to put on the saddle kind of gave me a hint she was not interested in work. Trying to dive out the gate on our trot circles every single pass was a bit of another clue, and then the full three circles of crowhopping when I asked for canter kiiiinda drove it home. Savvy was hoping she could be feral now.

Shamelessly smelled the nose of this blond-haired pony like a crack addict trying to get a hit.
Being a sympathetic soul, I made our first ride easy and short (except for the bucking - I made sure not to reward the crow-hop-canter and made her stay in it until she finally switched to broke horse canter and kept it for a few circles).

Right in front of my hotel every day.
The second ride was a bit better. Well, at least our warmup was great. W/T/C was legit although not very well put together but really I was just looking for correct answers with relaxation and understand we have some muscle to redevelop after a whole month of no work. Then I tried some jumping (if you call teeny-tiny cross rails jumps. She could not. Every jump was a stop-and-pop mess regardless of leg on, eyes up, shoulders back, crop at the ready. I looked for one decent jump to end the session on and ended it there.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art did not disappoint (what a HUGE place!). Thank you, Degas.
Our third ride back was the charm though. Perhaps Savvy let go of her dream of being a legit pasture puff and resigned herself to the whims of her owner? W/T/C was drastically better and jumping was almost horse-like rather than trapped deer.

And of course Central Park had plenty of horses. These ponies quietly plodded by us while we enjoyed feeding (many) rats pieces of french fries.
Normally the end of summer for me would be the end of shows. However, this year with eventing there are two more events to look forward to, plus a hunter/jumper show in November.

September 23rd and 24th I will be representing my team at the Manitoba Equestrian Championship on team East at starter level. My performance this year was not exactly team-making material, but they were short on starter level riders so they got me! Hahaha...ha. So I will keep on training at home and hopefully arrange a xc schooling day before the MEC championship to confirm we can get over all the starter level xc jumps.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

A Little of This and That

I have been on a bit of a riding holiday these past few weeks. There is an event coming up that I would have loved to attend but it overlapped with our pre-booked family vacation so I will sadly be missing it. Instead of riding, I have been busy with a never-ending hay-making saga.

My husband and I have a 20-acre hay field we cut and bale ourselves. In previous years we used an ancient small square baler with a hay rack towed behind. I would stack the bales as they came out of the baler and then we would unload and restack in the hay shed. Our field makes about +/-900 bales and the waggon holds about 90 bales so that was a LOT of stacking. To help ourselves manage this, we would cut smaller sections and do it over the summer rather than all at once. Add in a full-time typing job and my tendinitis issues with my hands have made this a dreaded process.

Last year we decided to buy a round baler (not ideal for horses to eat from round bales, I know, but I planned to fork off hay to them from the round bale rather than let them eat directly from it to avoid the dust issue). The baler we bought however was terrible with many parts not working properly. It made horrible bales and we ended up making as many small squares as we could before finishing up the field with the round baler.

This year haying started off with braking the square baler, then fixing it, then braking it again. Then switching to the round baler wherein we broke that too. Then fixing the square baler (still working--knock on wood) and buying a new round baler. We have done one 'trial' section of rounds with it and so far it is wonderful! The baler is much easier to operate and makes fantastic bales, so fingers crossed we do not kill this one too. Our back yard is starting to look like a farm machinery graveyard.

I have snuck in short rides here and there, mostly on Shiraz and also convinced the kids to ride a few times. Shiraz has been coming along so nicely this summer and the progress is really fun right now. Every time I get on her, she seems noticeably better than the last time. I have started to introduce leg yields at walk and trot and although she is no where near as laterally talented as Savvy, she is getting it and improving every time.

Savvy has shown she is starting to be a great kidlet packer too and tolerates carrying around a tiny (but bossy) little girl and doing her best not to pass out from boredom.

He prefers to ride bareback because Meyla is 'soft and fluffy' :)
Meyla has also been introduced to a riding crop by his determined little rider, and the idea of 'keep moving forward" has greatly improved.

Mostly though, we have been enjoying summer and trying to take it easy when we can. Hopefully this new round baler will help future summers be less work, more play for us all.