Monday, July 18, 2016

Champagne Run re-re-re Debut/Recap

**edit: some photos from show added!

Yankee. He is such a badass. I might be biased, but I honestly believe he is one of the coolest horses I've ever met, and quite the gentleman. I have so much love for that horse, my heart explodes thinking of him. He is sweet beyond comprehension, gorgeous, talented, well-schooled, athletic, seasoned and an all-around badass. He is everything.

Also, from the outside, if you didn't know he had surgery in February you would never know. He's healthy, happy, fit, shiny and fat.  I love it. What a crazy recovery!

However, I've discovered that watching him in competition with others is almost unbearable. Not due to jealousy, but in a motherly, overprotective fashion. Add to that, I want my leasers to have fun and succeed,  my horse to come away uninjured, and overall go as smoothly as possible. Horse shows where I'm not riding, and just watching Yanks be ridden are a bit much for me.

This weekend was a roller coaster of anxiety and elation. It was almost too much to handle.

Some of you may remember that last year Yanks came to Champagne Run as well, all the way from MO with his leasers. I had only had B about a year and brought him as a NC as well. 

LOL @ Bacardi face. Thats how it stayed the entire weekend.
This was a pretty cool event for me, as is always been a favorite of mine. Watching Yankee go training with L was fun, but I forgot how anxious I was that weekend because I had my psychopath baby to distract me.

This past weekend wasn't much different. I did  everything in my power to not be a helicopter parent, but sometimes I couldn't help myself. Adjust the bridle here. Fix a boot strap there. Braid his mane. Wrap his legs. I just couldn't step allllll the way back, even though I spent most of the weekend sitting in my chair from afar. 

Begging for noms
 He of course settled in like the seasoned pro that is he, and I wasn't worried about that perse. I was more worried that V would be anxious or tense and transfer that to him. Their ride Friday evening wasn't stellar and she was visibly disappointed.

I try very hard to relay to his leaser that he knows his job, and he knows it well but you have to ask for it too. Ask for the collection, ask for the push and ask for the  movements. He can't be perfect on his own and the test has to be ridden accurately.

I might have been more nervous for dressage than she was, but I just know how lovely he can be and I want that for her too. Its hard to remember that the horse won't carry the team most of the time. Its gotta be together, and this team is new. Its still developing. Regardless, it causes me anxiety, ha.

It was a good thing that Saturday is the busy day with everyone doing dressage and stadium, I was "running" (my back was killing me, so it was more like hobbling or catching golf cart rides) all over the place. I was distracted.

As his time creeped closer, I busied myself with braiding him.

 I've always enjoyed braiding and I find it relaxing and ritualistic. Yankee always falls asleep too, which is adorable. This time I used thread on his forelock and I must say, it looked really sharp. I might use thread for the next show that has dressage and stadium on that same day, just to experiment, even though I usually make rubber bands look pretty dang good. Helps when the hors falls asleep.

Before I knew it, we were heading down to the rings. At the KY Horse Park, this involves a long walk to the rings and I lectured myself to stay out of it. Let Supertrainer warm her up and instruct. She always does a great job with them. Stay back, leave it alone, and just watch.

I did not just watch.

Supertrainer was helping another rider who went first and V & Yanks were just walking about taking in the sights. He was a little more up than he usually isat home, but nothing to be concerned about in my opinion. Warm up was PACKED and it was hard to walk around without running in to someone and any horse that wasn't awake I would consider not normal in those conditions.

I saw V getting more and more tense in her elbows though, and of course transferring that to Yankee, and unfortunately he was visibly getting more wound up as they walked around. No good. This was not normal for him.

I couldn't stand it, so I jumped up and went down to the ring where they were dancing about. I tried to advise to relaxxxx and actually let the reins slip, but I don't think I was very convincing.

It is incredibly difficult to instruct someone who has only ridden your horse for a few months on how to make him tick. I can never describe how to do it, since my body just responds to him and does it. I was floundering. Luckily, Supertrainer rescued me and they went to work. She taught, he relaxed, it was better.

The test wasn't awful, but it wasn't great either. Yanks did exactly as he was told, but was rather lackluster in his movements, which wasn't suprising to me. The down transitions especially were rough, since V hasn't quite mastered using her seat to come down, but she will get there. Additionally, 20m circles kind of turned into spheres and squares and the halt wasn't 100% square.... But, Yankee was obedient and his normal calm and collected self. I felt it deserved the 39 that they received. She just needs more practice at asking for MORE and being  slightly more accurate. 

The videos will not get posted, because I can't control myself and talked through the entire videos. Its a little embarrassing actually, haha. I may or may not have been freaking out internally.

After it was over I felt like I literally pooped out my emotions and my heart went with them, and I could breathe again. GAHH. So weird. I am not good at this.

There was a looooooong break in-between dressage and stadium so Yankee took a pony snooze and I watched some stadium rounds, read more of my book and worked on my equestrian tan.

Those dapples doh
When the time came for stadium, I wasn't nervous in the slightest until I watched their warm-up. to those of us on the ground, it looked pretty bad. I was choking on my tongue, watching from my chair and cringing seeing them go around. I could see she was nervous with the way it was going down and I wanted so badly to help, but knew I couldn't and this was an experience she needed to get through with Supertrainer.

Yankee was LIT because thats just how he is with jumping. V has slayed (absolutely slayyyyyed) jumper shows with him, so I never predicted this as being an issue. She knows how to ride the energy and channeled it appropriately into winning jumper rounds previously. However, from those of us watching it really looked like V was just so nervous and tense,  creating more tension with a horse that "wakes up" in the jump ring. (after the fact, she said she wasn't as nervous as she looked but it definitely wasn't their best).

Not good.

Then someone slammed a porta-potty door and that gave him the excuse to spook.

My jaw almost dropped to the floor. I felt sick. I wanted to cry.

Yankee is not a spooking horse. Ever. I think he's spooked twice in 11 years and they were at birds in a bush and a dog running a him. He doesn't spook. And there he was, spooking down the ring, almost at a gallop, with V clinging to him.

He was was admittedly, spooking.

The fuck.

After that, she didn't seem to relax and I wanted to die. This couldn't be happening. My horse doesn't spook. He doesn't get nervous. He doesn't suck at jumping. He isn't un-steerable. She knows this. I know this.

It was like there was this horrible replay of the worst thoughts in my brain running on a continuous loop. I had to walk away. Attributing it to show nerves and atmosphere, I just hoped Supertrainer could get them both on point before their round.

The good news is, they had a double clear round in stadium. Yanks pulled that out of his ass for the first half, then by fence 5 she seemed to get in rhythm and ride like I know she can!

"Bad" news is, they have a LOT to work on. It was not very pretty and I may have cursed inwardly and outwardly, almost peed my pants, and almost met my untimely death through an actual heart attack. The bad-good news is, we all discussed the round and she now knows what to work on!

but I still need to not be at their shows, like ever.

Day 1 ended on a good-ish note. They sat pretty in 8th place in a big division after the first two phases, but I had a sick feeling in my stomach and was incredibly worried about how this partnership would pan out/if she still wanted this/if this was a good idea etc.

Day 2 started with much anxiety from me. Everyone was running XC and XC literally makes me almost vomit, so I couldn't watch anyone. I read my book the whole morning, blaring music in my ears to distract myself, only to look up in hopeful anxiety when they came back.

It was horrible.

Warm up

V and Yanks were second to last to go, which of course made me a giant, nervous wreck. I tried to stay out of the way, so as not to rub off the nervousness on anyone. I failed miserably though and as V was getting ready I offered to tack and she agreed. I needed some familiarity and routine to calm me down. Luckily, Yankee didn't pick up on me and my crazy pants and they headed out  ready to rock and roll.

Only took me 11 years to discover that red is his color
Since I refused to go to warm-up or watch the course, here's a pic of him last year on the training XC along with one from the course this year.

 When I was alerted to their arrival back at the barn, my heart almost exploded again and I turned around in tears, thats how anxious I was. (I'm a fucking loon.)

Fav pic from the show of them on XC

As soon as I saw her smile I pooped out my feelings again and rushed over to congratulate them and get the lowdown.

Double clear, for one, which is AWESOME. Apparently had a bobble at the water which was causing so,many.issues. this weekend for everyone. Uncharacteristic of him, but if everyone else refused it, I wasn't surprised he took a second glance. Must be some  horse eating serpents in that water! Otherwise, it was great. He listened, she rode well (according to Supertrainer) and it ended on a really good note.

They ended the weekend in 7th place, which was pretty cool for her second ever event and his re-re-re debut into eventing. I was proud.

Coming away from the weekend though, we need to re-evaluate some things. Super trainer is incredibly concerned about their lack of control in stadium and her suggestion was to bit him up A LOT....or end the lease.  I of course immediately put my foot down on a big bit, because more bit power is NOT the answer. He is 14 years old and well trained. When half halts simply aren't delivered, thats not his fault. BUT, perhaps for one show she needs to ride with his XC bit (waterford 2 ring). I guarantee he will have rails, since thats how it goes with bits and Yankee over stadium, but maybe to have little more whoa and instill some confidence in both parties, thats what needs to happen.

Overall, Yankee was a badass, V is still learning the ropes of eventing but did really well, and I need to never come to another one, haha...

Mixed feelings on this.

Regardless, I am happy she was happy with a top 10 finish, since that was her ultimate goal this show, and we are on the the next one in 3 weeks-ish time!


  1. Ok soooooo I get that Yanks is your baby and you love him more than anything. I don't think I could lease a horse of mine out because I sometimes get grabby hands just thinking about someone else riding him. I get that part.

    But if I was V, I'd be intimidated as hell having a neurotic owner on hand judging my every move and getting all tense and nervous and up in my business.

    You know what worked best for Yankee and you as a team. If you trust supertrainer and V, you need to give them a little space and let them find what works for them as a team.

    1. Yeah I did. I don't think I explained that well. I pretty much sat in my chair the entire weekend if I wasn't watching from afar (minus dressage, oops). It was hard. It sucked.

      Minus when she asked me to hold him (in which I would see a strap flapping and fix it) & braid, I was stepped back and it was horrible. I realize being in their face is not the way to go so I wasn't. Thus, anxiety galore.

  2. Sprinklerbandit said exactly what I was trying to come up with. I leased App on and off for 6 years, I know exactly how hard it is but sometimes you have to just keep the distance. Have your list of rules and offer help when asked for. I hope V can get it figured out, if riding stadium in a bit a few times will fix Yanks new attitude in the ring, let them try it out. I agree in not allowing a harsher bit though, I always had restrictions on the type of equipment that could be used. Good luck with the anxiety issues :)

    1. For the majority I did keep my distance, which is really hard in this situation for reasons I'm not disclosing on a public blog. I now realize I should not be at their USEA shows, period :/ That was my entire point of this post & I suppose I did a horrible job conveying that haha.

      Maybe the bit will help then we can go back to what he goes in best, idk. Lots to think about. Thanks for the comment, and can you cute my anxiety plz haha

  3. It's so so hard to pass your precious on to someone else. I used to get so frustrated with my little sister on my horses because in my head I was like omg it's so easy and I could see where problems were. It caused a lot of tension until I just left her to it. Sounds like you have the right idea though.

    Show warm ups are pretty intimidating and I imagine feeling out of control would have added to Vs nerves so maybe a bit more but will allow her to feel in control and relax a little more so they can work back to the hack. It's still a very new combination. I think the kindest thing you can do is move your favourite trained horse on to someone young to learn on a schoolmaster. Very brave.

    1. I think the bit in SJ is the answer for now for sure.

      And I so get what you mean!! To me I'm like GAH this so so easy, but it's really not. Handing the reins over is really hard. Glad to K wo I'm not the only one who thinks its agonizing haha. Thanks for the comment :)

  4. Maybe you could insist on a half-halt boot camp, before any more showing. I would be a nervous wreck watching my horse getting out of control on a stadium course. Maybe insist on more lessons for them and a real working on their partnership, before any more shows? Not a good situation to be in for you. Rather than bit up I would insist their partnership drop back a bit and put in some more lesson time. Good luck to all involved. It can take a long time to build a pertnership - but it's the journey that's worth it.

    1. That's a good idea too! What's perplexing to me is that at home they're 100% fine, even with the hackamore, and lesson with my trainer 2-3x a week. Even at schooling shows, she piloted him to two jumper class wins at the same height. I'm hoping it was just first show nerves, and it was a fluke, because I'm not sure how much more lessoninf she can get in a week! Especially when they're great at home. Such a tricky situation :/ thanks for the very insightful comment!

  5. I totally get having stress about someone else riding your baby BUT.. I will try to say this gently.. If I was leasing your horse and read this blog I would walk away. I think your concerns about her riding are not fair to air on a public blog and, if I were she, would cause me greater stress, and cause me to ride even worse than I might have otherwise.

    1. I thought about this before I posted knowing that there are people from my barn that read this blog. However, everything I wrote about she is aware of. We all have things as riders we need to work and and she knows what those are. I would never write something that's public that I couldn't say to her face. As I've said before, I apprently did a bad job communicating that my anxiety was ME watching MY horse be ridden by a greener rider. She does a great job. This was their first show together and only her second event ever and I was incredibly anxious about it but she handled it as well as she could with her inexperience. Being green is nothing to be ashamed of, we were all there once.

  6. I understand what you're saying. I don't know how you do it. I couldn't lease my horse out. I would be a wreck, not just at shows, but twenty four seven lol. They will get each other figured out. By next spring you won't even remember how green they started out together. Referring to their relationship, not Yankee's training obviously. I think they will do great together. I agree though, that maybe not going would be easier on you. Especially since cross country in general is an anxiety trigger. I will miss the pictures though if you don't go. Yankee is so freaking gorgeous! I love his dapples and those amazing braids. :)