Monday, April 28, 2008

Things Getting Set In Motion

A couple of trainers have been in contact with me over the past few weeks about riding horses for them. One sounds especially promising as I would have the potential to grow my own business, which is exactly what I want.

Since nothing has been set in stone, I am not going mention specifics so as not to jinx myself.

This is really exciting for me as this is more than I was expecting when I made the decision to come back in January.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

In Case You Are Counting......

It is now 3 weeks to the day that I'll be moving!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Pictures from Nevada and the Horse Show

I set up photo galleries of the riding in Nevada and in Murrieta:


Warm Up Day and Day 1

Day 2-4

Days 3 & 4 in Murrieta

On Saturday, it felt really good to have an off day from showing. Mostly because my inner quads were getting sore from all of the riding from the past week. Currently, Meyer is for sale (anyone want to buy me a nice horse ;)), and a potential buyer was going to look at him on Saturday while we were at the show. A difference in price in what the buyers wanted and what the owners wanted meant that they weren't going to come out so I had a schooling day on Meyer instead of Meyer being ridden by someone else.

We rode in the main warm up arena for the open show. In that ring, there are a fair amount of people watching or walking by the arena. I always like riding in front of people so that motivated me a little bit more. Picking up on the high note we ended with on Friday we put together a superb schooling day, only riding him 20-25 minutes. We schooled movements we would be showing the next day, primarily canter half passes and flying changes. Meyer felt super and the ride was one of the best rides I can remember on a horse in a long time. We received a lot of compliments from the riders in the ring and had a couple of people come up to me afterwards telling me how good Meyer looked with me riding him. Now, I have to admit, it felt really good having a small audience and the compliments.

On a funny side note, during that ride there were three or four other male riders in the ring and I was the only one without a European accent.
We were able to pick up a ride on Sunday. Following the trend of the show, we had another early morning ride, this time at 8:30am. So another early day was in the plan. We followed the same plan as before with the early lunge before getting on. I only lunged him 5 minutes to loosen him up as he was looking very relaxed.

The warm up went well and the flow we had the past two days was there, but just not quite a brilliant as the last two days.

We rode Third Level Test 2. Again, we put in another solid ride. Meyer's walk is not the best and the judge slaughtered (really scored us low) us on it. We scored 6's and 7's on all of the movements except for the walk movements and on one of the flying changes. I was really pissed at the flying change score because it was not as bad as she scored us (scored us a 4). That's the fun with dressage, you're at the mercy of someone else's subjectivity.

We placed third with a 58.9%. The kicker was, we finished one point behind first place and the low flying change score was the difference. Without the walk scores we had a 64% or 65%.
All in all the was a good show. I put together solid rides on a horse I rode for a week. For the first show in 10+ years, I couldn't have asked for anything better. I had great support from my sister Julia who came up for two of the days, my friend Amanda Olson, Meyer's owner Jocelyn Hamann, and all of Amanda's riders from Mandolin Dressage.

Day 2 In Murrieta

I had two rides on Friday with one once again in the early morning (8:30am) and one in the afternoon (3:30pm).

We took the same approach with an early morning lunge before getting on him. While longing him, I could see in front of me a horse that was more relaxed and willing to work with me.

For the first test we rode Third Level Test 1. In the warm up, I was beginning to get more from the horse, but still knew a complete package with Meyer couldn't happen in that ride. Because of that I got a little tight in the test and we did not ride as fluid as we could. I knew a lot of the nervousness was from not riding for such as long time and being on horse I was not familiar with. We rode a respectable test with a couple of errors that did cost us. We scored 58.7% and finished 2nd (1% out of 1st).

It was nice to have a few hours to recuperate. In the 6 hours between the rides, I hand walked Meyer a few times, and helped school a few of Amanda's students. It was a lot of fun to coach riders again.

Originally, we had only entered classes for Thursday and Friday. This next ride could possibly be my last ride on Meyer and I wasn't going to waste this with nervousness or apprehension. We got back on about 45 minutes before the beginning of the test to warm up. From the moment we began trotting I knew this was going to be a strong ride. I knew my feel was getting back and the horse was responding to what I was asking for. We had a couple of moments in the warm up where Meyer didn't want to do what I was asking for. Previously, if we had one of these "discussions" then I would be dealing with a horse that may rear or buck. I could feel Meyer beginning to trust me more and more; this time he worked through the correction obediently and confidently. Amanda was giving us an eye and she could see that I really wanted this ride. When I was putting on the show jacket she said I was showing the confident "look" again that she used to know from me.

We rode Second Level Test 4. Riding around the ring before being rung in, I knew this was going to be the ride I wanted. Meyer was with me and I wasn't going to let myself ruin it.

In this test there are 3 simple changes (canter to walk to canter) transitions. In previous days we had some difficulties with these. In the test we nailed all of them scoring two 7's and one 8. The test was going flawlessly until the last movement, a medium canter (longer stride) down the long side. I didn't set him up well and it went horribly with Meyer flinging his head into the air. We recovered for the final halt and salute (scored 8's on both halt/salutes).

I left the arena feel very happy with the ride, but slightly frustrated with the error. Nevertheless there was a big smile beaming from my face. About 10 or so people were watching from the barn and all we're going ballistic because I was able to put together a solid ride on the horse. It felt very good to have that ride and it felt great to be on horses once again.

We scored a 65.8% and 3rd place. Without the blow up, I would have finished 2nd.

Day 1 in Murrieta

On the first day of the show we had two rides (classes). The first was at 9:00am and the second at 9:50am, which meant that I had little time to regroup between rides.
Two of the girls fed for me at 5:30am so that I could get an extra half hour of sleep. I planned to lunge Meyer at 6:30am to loosen him up before getting on him. The lunge went well. Then I gave Meyer a little time to himself and then got him prepared for the show. For those who have known me for a long time, yes I had someone else braid him up. I'm wondering how much longer I can pull off having someone braid for me ;).
In warm up I felt good, but definitely a little tense. When I previously showed, the first test of the show was always my worst, as I came in a little tighter than usual. In the warm up, I could feel I had a horse to ride but I could feel that Meyer didn't trust me completely as I had only ridden him 7 times. His only previous experience with male riders was a few years ago with some "rough" cowboys on him. I could tell he was somewhat apprehensive with me on his back the past week and today. I could feel him expecting me to be rough with him. I knew that getting him to trust me was the key.
I rode Second Level Test 1 for the first ride. The outside of the ring we showed in had some grandstands, flowers and other "scary" things and Meyer immediately began looking around and getting a little tight. I was thinking, "Meyer just give me a chance to ride this". The ride went well considering how little I had ridden him, and that the last time I was in the show ring was August 1997. We did have one little blow up coming into the right lead canter and in one of the canter serpentine movements. Each time he threw his head up and slightly reared. Calmly I brought him back and continued on. What was completely embarrassing is I forgot a circle in the canter and went off course. In that circumstance the judge rings the bell and tells you where you went off course. You then pick up where you went off course and continue the test. This was the first time I had ever gone off course (I think); and how appropriate for my first ride back.
We scored a 57.8% and finished 5th in the class.

After the ride, I knew I needed to ride with more relaxation and to trust my instincts. We took Meyer back up to the stables for a moment so that he could get a drink and relax before I got back on.
I did a short warm up on Meyer for the second test and I could feel a more relaxed horse under me; as well as being a more relaxed rider. We rode Second Level Test 2. We put together a much more complete ride including a better connection between horse and rider. I could begin to feel more comfortable in the ring and began dialing in a mental focus that I could ride the most optimally at. I could also feel the horse starting to trust me more. We scored a 63.8% (0.2% from a qualifying score) and finished 2nd in the class.

Coming out of the ring, I knew I could ride this horse very well over the next couple of days, and that this comeback is something I really wanted.

Wednesday In Murireta-Warm Up Day

On the warm up day (day before the show starts) I rode Meyer fairly hard to make sure he was honest with me in the show ring on Thursday. The ride went well and we started to school (train) some movements (half passes, flying changes) we were having issues with earlier on in the week. All in all, it was a good ride and I was feeling more confident going into the show ring. I knew we could put in a steady and safe ride which at that point is all I wanted. Surprisingly, I didn't feel nervous all day and honestly it didn't feel like I had been away from horse shows for such a long time.
We spent the rest of the day cleaning tack, bathing the horses and getting all the necessary paperwork in order.

Tuesday At Murieta

I rode Meyer in the morning before we left. I figured out he needs a lot of lunging before riding him to get rid of some "excess" energy. After the ride, I knew I could go into the show ring comfortably and get through a test without any blow ups. On previous rides we had some "issues" that definitely made me a little nervous showing the horse. I knew with one more day of schooling on Wednesday I could get in some good rides at the show.

We left around 1pm and the trip to the show grounds in Rancho Murrieta was uneventful and smooth. We got the horses set up, fed, and all the equipment put up in the evening before getting to dinner and heading to bed.

We slept in an RV leant by the parents' of one of the Mandonlin Dressage riders. Pity me I had to share with 3 other women ;).