Friday, September 16, 2016

Show Prep

I kind of decided "last minute" (as in Tuesday during our scheduled jump school) that I would take the red dragon to one of the last schooling shows of the year before our *swallow* rated debut in November. This show is held at a venue that we've been to hundreds of times (me at least) and is pretty familiar to us, and its fun. The only thing that sucks is the impending storms of doom, so I hope those stay at bay.

B has been brilliant this week, starting with the flat ride that rocked my world and has continued to stay solid. I jumped twice, which by the time tomorrow rolls around is one more day than I like to jump per week, but he had had 6 days off and I kept the courses low (2'6) on Tuesday and then ramped it up yesterday to test him a little. I've been religious about rub-downs and liniment though and it seems to be making a difference.

As a small sidetone, I REALLY feel like B is finally growing up. I know winter will produce some shenanigans, always does, but his attitude has improved tremendously in the last few months. I even got 3 separate compliments yesterday from people at the barn commenting on how shiny and fit he looks. Score!

That aside, he's been great over jumps as well. Much less spooky and actually locking on to jumps instead of questioning them every time. I actually rode like a giant turd yesterday and I HATE when people say this, but he saved my butt a few times. Like, picked the distance and got us over when mahm forgot how to ride.

Not sure if my mental game is slightly off (wouldn't be surprising, given my personal life right now), or that I'm sore, or that my new half chaps from RW are actually the worst things I've ever ridden in. Either one of those could be the culprit. Seriously, I am done with RW. They never have what I want, the size or style and  the quality is poop, AND the shipping this time took 13 days to arrive, c'mon. I don;t know why all y'all have lady boners over RW, but I'll stick with Smartpak, thanks.

Digression aside, its weirdly reassuring to know I don't have to hold B's hand through everything now and I can "afford" to have bad days too.

I played with the same course both days, since I didn't feel like moving stuff around when I already had to mount and dismount to change heights and whatnot. Jumping alone sucks.

Jump 2, 5 and 12 was a super neat jump the barn mates set up on Tuesday that now LOVE and forever will keep in my arsenal. I was super proud of B for negotiating this weird jump the first time, jumping the skinny (5) and the big X (2,12) without question. Fence 1 & 13 also was kind of scary, in that the barrels were set quite close--making the horse legitimately jump through them instead of over them. He usually HATES barrels and tends to snort at them, but conceded to jumping without question with some mild prodding of the spurs.

Both days he was having a slight issue turning right too, but mostly because I was legit forgetting to use my outside leg appropriately in conjunction with half halts, and then we would both get in a weird heated lovers quarrel until I apologized and rode correctly. Still though, hoping there won't be any right handed rollbacks tomorrow, because we ain't gonna be quick about it.

Due to the small issues we were having turning right, I decided to add as many right turns as possible, and that helped. I played around with rating inbetween fences too; asking for major collection and then some gallops, like a jump-off would require. Boy has GOT it guys. He loves this shit.

After a few good rounds through yesterday, I decided it would be fun to play with height and see how handled it.

Minus me jumping for him by throwing myself forward (why am I like this) he was brilliant. I literally felt like he was barely trying and me raising the bar up and up didn't faze him one second. I really wanted to put the bar at 4ft, but resisted and kept max height at 3'9 since he had already schooled the course a few times.


I wish he wasn't so goddamn lazy with his lower legs at the higher height, but I am hoping eventually he will learn to snap those up. I was filming myself by propping my iPad on a jump standard, and then a barn mate came out and I swopped upon her demanding asking if she would video me please #doitforthegram

I probably should have asked her to stand a little closer, but at least its a pretty screenshot! Also because B is an actual giraffe and is like 9 ft tall, he completely dwarfs all fences, making everything look super unimpressive, but I double checked and that was definitely 3'9.

So that gave me hope. I still pee my pants a little thinking about jumping a 3'9 vertical (why, why are those more daunting than a wide oxer??) so that height in competition will come in time. However, 3'3-3'6 is totally doable next year and I am hoping to show more rated now that he's not *as* spooky. We absolutely need more experience, but this winter is FULL of indoor rated shows and I intend on showing in at least 1 per month until spring.

Also update, V had to scratch Yankee from Flying Cross because her ride fell through, whomp whomp.

Regardless, look for social media updates on the Red Dragon and myself this weekend

Thursday, September 15, 2016

XC Schooling

FINALLY getting to this recap, and now it will be a titch lackluster since its been over a week in my brain and said brain is being stuffed full of medical law and billing at the moment.

At least there is media and pretty ponies to look at, so at least this post has that going for it.

Yankee is the man

Last Friday was literally a perfect day for riding, even though it was still early September. Cool, breezy and sunny. I hardly even broke a sweat! The point of this excursion was to school some XC and see if the park had the banks open (they didn't, sadly), so that V and Yankee could school those before her move up to Novice at Flying Cross this weekend.  Despite those elements being closed, she still got some solid work put in with the Yanks and it was a rather good day and learning experience.

Pretty substantial fence that used to be on Prelim courses
I jumped it once, years ago
V schooled almost everything at the park that day, save for the absolutely massive full coffin combination. I jumped it once two years ago and it was legit terrifying and a tricky ride, so we stuck to the more basic approach's.


...was terrifying. Didn't get a pic of the C element but it was equally as giant and scary
 I allowed her to school some of the larger fences because Yanks can easily jump them on his own, and I wanted her to feel what its like to ride over bigger fences, especially because Novice apparently is the new Training and there are fucking corners on Novice these days.

Yankee's best talent is making a liar out of you, as he did with me often on XC. If you're even slightly not sure about it and don't give him the go-ahead, he will question you and sometimes, if you're really not sure, he will refuse. Not often, but I have jumped a few fences with my eyes closed (safety first everyone) and he knew it and would land with a buck to remind me that all I had to do was actually RIDE instead of sit there like a lump on a log (or casually refuse the next fence to see if I was paying a attention)

Novel idea.

Yeah my eyes were definitely closed & I almost shat myself
Anyways, we worked on approach to the fences and keeping leg there (not on, but present) to let Yankee know that yes, we were jumping bigger fences and to maybe pick up your knees a little and maybe try.

Nah mahm I just jump higher instead

The cool thing about Yanks is that he clears shit easily, everytime. The bad thing about that is that it makes him incredibly lazy, knowing he can clear it, hanging his legs or jumping sloppy because he can just jump higher rather than snap his legs.  Its even worse at BN in stadium because he literally just hops over fences and looks ridiculous. C'mon Yanks, stop being an old man. SMH.

Regardless, it was a good school and Yanks did his job. V learned what a good approach was, and what a bad approach was. She also learned how fricking fun he can be on XC. Slowly but surely she's gaining those eventing skills! I compiled a video of their efforts HERE.

Bacardi got to join in on the fun a little bit too!

This was actually like a baby trek. with a small ditch in front and below the log
turn n' burn baby

As you all probably know now, I am a long time eventer turned jumper because mysteriously and without cause sometime about 3 years ago I woke up with this  horrible fear of solid jumps. Like trembling, heart racing, sweating, unexplainable fear. Anything higher than 3ft makes my heart palpitate and I actually have zero interest in jumping anything substantial these days. Call me less crazy, HAHA.

No scary ass giant fences for me fam
However, it is still fun to pop B over a few of the lower fences while we are there. He was having a ball too! First time he's ever felt completely relaxed and interested in jumping, rather than spooking at the was lovely!

It was pretty fun. I still have zero desire to ever return to eventing, unless its on Yankee at like BN, but it was still fun to pop around and let B gallop a little. Plus, like I said earlier-- he was actually WANTING to jump, almost dragging me towards them, which was a cool feeling. This versus where he used to eyeball the shit out of them and I would have to drive drive drive to each fence. 

Baby growing' up.

Pats for the pony

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What Do Wednesday: Routine

I might have touched on this before, but I know I have a few new readers and I actually love talking about this subject.

If you know me in real life, you know I live by my planner and routine and thrive on scheduling everything to a T. 

My Favorite holiday week besides Christmas
I hate it when people make me late, I do the same thing every day, almost every week and I DESPISE when people expect to me drop everything and come do X with them unless its scheduled out in advance and then get pissed when I say no. Most of my friends are aware of this now and plan accordingly, bless them. Yes, I am one of those people. I even have B’s rides scheduled out for about a month at a time.

My world changed when I took my new job back in May because I had been  working until 9PM 2 nights a week and then coming right back the next morning at 7AM, all while trying to Crossfit, spend time with SO, ride and do grad school work…AKA no sleep for me. It was horrible and I was miserable, even boarding at a barn with an indoor and lights.

Now, I am able to juggle my life a bit easier (thank the lort I don’t have human child) due to my incredibly flexible work schedule and badass bosses. They made it super easy on me and I can work from home if I want to, or come in extra early and leave early—it’s the best for pony time, gym time, sleepy time and homework time.

pony time always best
Normally my days look like this during the work-week:

5:30-wake up, eat my eggs, drink my coffee, get ready for work
6:15-leave the house
6:45-arrive at work
10AM-eat my oatmeal and almonds, drink second cup of coffee
11:45-run for 20 minutes outside
noon-12:30-ROMWOD (Crossfit yoga) & slam lunch
3PM-Drink my protein shake and eat my snack
4-leave work
5:30-leave gym for barn
8:30-get home, pack lunch for next day, eat dinner, shower, etc
9:15-get in bed
until 10:30 sometimes 11, doing HW then I try to fall asleep

Sometimes I also might interchange a 5AM wake-up for Crossfit and THEN go to work around 7:30 AM, and get off at 6, and then go ride, but most days look like above.

& That is my day. Almost every. Single. Day. Weekends are for extended pony time, house chores and friend time. Usually though I am a work/gym/riding hermit and NEVER go out/stray from that routine. Having been an insomniac for years, having a set bedtime has helped, with the addition of whole body Cryotherapy. (Legit shit, btw.)

-178* baby
Pony time is needed, and even if I don’t ride I go to cuddle the boys, clean tack or watch lessons. My mental needs it. Gym time too, especially now that I’m almost fully healed, I enjoy feeling strong and fit again. So Crossfit (or at least a run or ROMWOD) is also needed.

lift heavy shit
Sundays are generally meal prep days and even though I swayed from that tradition for a few weeks, I am about to get back into it a bit more.

Equestrian at Hart and If The Saddle Fits posts recently inspired me to finish writing this draft that has been chilling for weeks, so I won’t feel offended if not many of you answer, but scheduling and routine mean a lot to me (obvs) and meal prep is part of it. I joked in my comment on ITSF blog that I’ve eaten the same thing for breakfast everyday…but I’m being serious. I count my macros and I figured out what worked and I pretty much stick with that. I also generally eat the same thing for lunch/dinner each week and just change it up week to week. This week is standard for me; lots of chicken boobs and veggies.

For noshing this week I’m diving into:
Breakfast-  strawberry overnight oats; 1 cup strawberries, 1/3 oats, 1/3 cup almond milk, 3 eggs+ 1 oz shredded cheddar and 9 almonds
Lunch- 5oz. Strip steak, cut into chunks, 4 cups lettuce/spinach, 2-3TBSP salad dressing with half an avocado
Dinner- 4-5oz chicken, 3 cups green beans, 1 cup of rice
Snack- 3oz tuna, 1/2 TBSP mayo, cup of applesauce
Shake: Beverly Hills UMP Protein
--sometimes if I’m short on macros or PMSing something fierce I’ll have Cheez-It grooves as a late night sinful snack
**also a shitload of water, nearly a gallon/day

Prepping ahead of time saves so much time later in the week so that I CAN do all my homework, workout, work my day job AND sleep a full 7ish hours and most importantly, RIDE! I consider food-prep the most critical factor in my overall well-being actually. Good nutrition is key!

The point of all this is to ask what you all do special do squeeze in that riding time! I used to hardly ride at all or would try and get it in early early morning right after 6AM crossfit, before work at 10AM. UGH, awful. I love my job now.

So, dear readers, what do YOU do to streamline your lives so that you get all your pony time? Do you not get much pony time :( ? Is there a certain time a day you always ride, or do you squeeze it in when you can? Tell me your secrets!

Tootsie Update Again

 I managed to forget to upload photos from XC schooling last weekend AGAIN so again I'm skipping that recap, whoops. It'll pop up Thursday haha. Thanks to all of you for leaving sweet comments the last few days, its helped my mood immensely.

Last night was just a hack night, but he was on his best behavior as we did our sets and then meandered around the farm afterwards. It was quite pleasant actually. I am SO sad that is getting dark earlier though. I loathe summer, but do enjoy the late night light. 

Wasn't even 8 PM :(
Today, I have a super uninteresting and uninspiring collection of Bacardi feets over the last few months.  I like to keep track of it though, since this is now a thing for us. Not much change from last month to this month, with the exception of feeling a bit more tough and not being as ouchy on the gravel driveway to the pastures. he got his bare feet trimmed for the first time a few weeks back and the farrier was pleased. He's due again in 2 weeks. I snapped the most recent pics at almost 8:30 last night right after we came in from the hack (thus the grass) so they're poorly lit, but I got em. 

Comparison to last month....

Biggest thing I notice is how smooth his feet are getting. Edges rounding out, bottoms getting polished (despite the mud and grass, whoops) and his frogs getting plumper. Last month was super wet, but even so, I think they're spreading even just a little more. Also with his LF, his heels and hoof wall are still ever so slowly expanding out, yay cuppy wide TB feets!

Comparison to the first day of going fully nekked....

Oh man, his poor LF looks so much better. Even those heels and frog, just massive improvements. This was the foot that had so much foot ripped off there was nothing left to chip. He was super sore on it for a few weeks, but now it doesn't seem to bother him.

It took a solid month before he could trot out normally, but I kept pushing on, trying to work in the grass on "bad" days and slowly building time in the sandbox.

I am incredibly lucky that this worked, because I know its not possible for everyone. I can't help but feel relieved when I see friends snaps of missing shoes and time off....never again if I can help it! Yankee will never get to this point, but I love that B can go 8 weeks in-between trims instead of 6 between shoes, it costs less for me to maintain and he seems overall happier and freer now that his feet have adjusted to nakedness. Its wonderful!!

Monday, September 12, 2016

I Needed That

Now that I'm back and slept for literally 10 hours last night to recharge, hopefully I can get back in the blogging groove because I am SO behind! Jumping past Yankee & B's XC school day to document my ride last night (which was done running on 3 hours of sleep LULZ) so that the thoughts are still fresh in my mind! No pics/video of the actual ride (you get old old pics as filler), so I'll try to keep it succinct, but it was fucking baller.

I've been having a rough go of it in my personal life and I was seriously bummed out and exhausted from a long business trip to Dallas. I did enjoy the Ft. Worth Stockyards and wish I had had more time there! I think I'll be going back at some point to ride a damn longhorn and explore TX a bit.A nice cowboy even bought me a beer at bar called The White Elephant, thanks fam!

I still forced myself to go to the barn though, hoping it would lift my spirits. I was already grumpy and pissed off when I arrived, and was even more so when I saw that they had already been turned out at 3fuckingPM for the night (turns out I had assumed incorrectly, and they had been switched to day turnout, but it didn't make me any less grumpy...whoops) and I had to trek like a mile to go get him from the giant field. First world problems.

He heard me call him though and met me halfway, happy to snuffle the treats out my hand that he knew I had for him. I was already feeling better and reveled in his presence on the long walk back to the barn.

I settled into the familiar routine of grooming, wrapping and tacking up for my ride, trying to let the familiarity of it settle my inner turmoils. For once, B was seeming to enjoy grooming, and stood pleasantly still for me during the process. He was so shiny, fit and fat, it made my heart sing. (Unlike Yankee, he doesn't  usually appreciate a good grooming and actually seems to hate it. B also doesn't cuddle much, but I still love him anyways.) 

I had decided on doing some flatwork, since B hadn't been ridden since Monday of last week (6 days off total) and hoped for some good transitions at most. 

B really blew me out of the water, immediately stretching down looking for contact and marching forward in the walk. I let him carry on for a good ten minutes, changing rein and asking for some circles here and there, the whole time his nose was on the ground and his back was lifted. Wut.

I gingerly asked for the trot, mildly expecting some giraffing and theatrics since it was only 65* and he had some time off, but he moved brilliantly into an enviable stretchy trot.

There were four other people in the outdoor, and I tried to decide if I wanted to ask strangers (I still hadn't met even half of the 60 boarders we have now) to video for me, but opted to just carry on and enjoy the horse under me. After another 5 or so minutes of this miraculous trot work, I was 100% focused on my horse and how he was feeling and started with some exercises. I generally have no goals moving in to any ride, since I never know what I will have under me that day, but I came up with some fun stuff yesterday. 

Before cantering at all, I worked on this exercise for a good 15 minutes, changing the direction each time.

Focusing on changing bend and staying active behind all the way up through our modified walk pirouette, B was foot fucking perfect. Seriously, I almost cried with joy at his total engagement of body and mind. I've never felt anything like it before, not even on Yankee. He was moving and shakin' in perfect style. I felt like I was riding a big bouncy warmblood and not an OTTB.

He was seriously amazing, no words can convey this to ya'll.

After that exercise, I moved on to a simple 3 loop serpentine with a 20m canter circle at the end with a flying change to halt. 

Again, he was perfect. Fluid, full of energy and lift in his back...I was floored. I'm sure the people in the area though I was bonkers because I couldn't stop telling B what a goodboy he was. After running through that a few times each lead, I stopped dead and hugged him in which he responded by touching my boot with his cute nosey...I melted. MELTED. 

Not once in two years with this creature have we had a ride that good. I fucking needed that yesterday. Its always been a "what will we get right today" not a "what will we accomplish" type deal with B, knowing that a meltdown was expected, or some sort of total inconsistency was going to be preset. Especially in the walk, which is his worst gait by far. Total giraffe show.

Not yesterday. He was literally perfect the entire fucking time and I could just die with happiness right now.