Welcome to the Family, Leo!

After months of agonizing over what to do about my sweet Leo, changing my mind every other hour about whether to buy or move on, I finally admitted that there’s no way I could ever say goodbye to him. I didn’t quite convince my husband of the same, it was more of a solemn acceptance but I’m just lucky he loves to see me happy. At least I waited for him to pass the bar, right?

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Leo is an 18-year-old, 17.1 Rhinelander warmblood.

Buying an older horse is rarely a financially sound decision (blog post on that later), but if any horse deserves a safe landing spot, it’s Leo and he’s found it with me. Thanks and apologies to everyone for letting me pretend he was mine for the past two years. Welcome to the family sweet boy!

Brief Introduction / Reasons He’s A Unicorn / Cutest Quirks:

  • Loves all animals and is always interested in befriending any horse, human, dog or cat

  • Becomes braver and braver on trails every time we go out

  • Basically reads my mind if I think even think “chip”

  • Always, always, always saves my amateur af butt

  • Tall, dark and decisively handsome

  • Has taken me from crossrails to 3’ (okay, we’re working on getting back up there)

  • He doesn’t destroy blankets

  • Not allowed to talk + ride

  • Has the best flaxen tail

  • Has the cutest jump

  • Loves bananas

  • Ex big eq boy

  • Is mine

Loved him from the first day. 8/8/17.

Loved him from the first day. 8/8/17.

HH Reviews: Equilab the App

 

I’ve been tracking my rides with the Equilab app for almost a year now. Why? I started because it was fun, but its also nice to see how my rating of my own performance and my horse’s performance ebbs and flows. The app also tracks things such as workout length, calorie burn and turn distribution, which is very useful since Leo has a favorite lead and it happens to be mine, too! How does it work? Your location is tracked by your phone, so yes, you have to wear your phone on you, and the app analyzes your location pinging to determine if you’re walking, trotting or cantering as well as recording your path.

The picture at right is a screenshot of the main screen of a completed workout. It measured the length of the workout with a breakdown of each gait, the distance traveled and the average speed.

You can also view your ride displayed as a colorful aerial view summary diagram (see screenshots above) or you can even display a satellite view (see screenshot at bottom). Walk is displayed as blue, trot as yellow and canter as pink.

The screenshot at right is from a hack I did the first night the temperature was over 90 degrees, in April of course. My goal for this ride was to have an easy hack with a good warm-up, but nothing too strenuous. Well, he was visibly sweaty all over his neck and shoulder by the time we had cantered a few times around the arena so we quit there. He still had plenty of energy so I rated his Performance as a 5/5.

Note: The Performance section, rides notes, surface (soft, medium, hard, mixed) and the type of ride (ie jumping, hacking, cardio, competition, etc.) are the only possible inputs. The rest of the statistics recorded are all generated from your GPS pings.

Once you click the down arrow under Details, it expands the window and you can see what details are displayed in the screenshots below.

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This is my personal favorite graph that displays the transitions and rest breaks that we took during this ride. And yes, we purposely took trot breaks!

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I’m not entirely sure how accurate the beat and stride graphs are, I assume a purchase product like Hylofit would be the most accurate if measuring stats like that are important to you.

However, I’m going to go ahead and believe the speed graph! I really love looking at this because I can see just how forward and energetic Leo was that night! His trot was super forward (even sans spurs!), and his canter very floaty and relaxed! Though I kind of thought we were galloping and apparently the average horses canter is anywhere from 10 to 17 miles per hour, so #WESLOW.

I know Leo has a longer stride than most horses and if I recall correctly, most courses are set at a 12 foot stride? He was extra extend-y that night so there’s no way that 9.9 ft is correct. I’m curious if there’s a way to calibrate it to the correct distance like you had to way back in the day with the Nike+ shoe tracker?

Okay so maybe that’s not the most useful part of the app, but it does have one last really awesome feature! You enable SAFETY TRACKING so that your “safety contacts” can following you along on your ride, and know when you’ve returned. I’m definitely going to be utilizing this more and having my husband install Equilab so he knows when I’m safe and done riding.

I think the best use for this app is being able to track your ratios of gaits. When I first started using this for my rides outside of lessons, I found it felt like my warm-ups were super long and I barely got to canter. This isn’t to go into theories of how long you need to warm up or if you need to trot more than you canter, or whatever, but however I felt was not reflected by the app. My walk warm-ups were way too short and I was working at the canter much too long. The app has helped me regulate my warm-up and cool down and also ensure I’m cutting the work-out short.

Diagram of our ride discussed above, as you can see, lots of direction changes and transitions.

Diagram of our ride discussed above, as you can see, lots of direction changes and transitions.

Aerial view diagram as a plain or satellite background.

Aerial view diagram as a plain or satellite background.

My Experience with an Animal Communicator Pt I

Everyone knows I like horses. I’m a horse girl, yes, but not just that, I’m a Dorky Horse Girl which means I absolutely listen to Horse Radio Network podcasts all day at work. Recently on one episode of Retired Racehorse Radio, one of the trainer/hosts mentioned she had a session with an animal communicator to better understand her incoming OTTBs. (I have to say I love how accepting most horse people are of animal communicators because often dealing with this animals it can come to ‘whatever works’.) I creepily tracked the host down on Facebook and asked her if she could give me the communicator’s contact information.

I’d wanted to do something like this for my dogs for quite a while, so I drafted an e-mail to Anise Silvernail but saved it to get some input from my husband. Well, that week JD was diagnosed with CHF and the following week had an EKG which found he now had Mitral Valve Disease from his murmur progressing, so not the greatest news (I luckily got all my 800 cry sessions out before the phone call)! But with that, I thought there would be no better time to speak to Anise to learn more about my animals’ opinions.


Briefly at the beginning of the conversation we discussed how the communication works. Basically (from my elementary understanding), animals can learn words and even if they do not understand the conversations around them, they understand tone and interactions and communicate back through words, pictures or showing scenes telepathically which is part of the reason it’s not as easy to communicate with wild animals - they don’t learn human language. Animals she communicates can generally express themselves anywhere from a 3rd to 6th grade level as far as complexity of ideas go. She told me to prepare some questions before the call so I don’t forget to ask anything and asked for their names, breed and age to be able to communicate with them.


James

Q: How is he feeling?

A: He understands that he’s sick, but he’s still happy. He still wants to do a variety of things and enjoy life as much as possible. He said that he’s not dead yet and to cry when he’s gone but for now he wants to do as much possible together, play and snack, and he doesn’t want to cut his life back.

Q: What does he want to do more of?

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A: He keeps talking about snacking, like something cut up in the kitchen? Maybe salami, ham or sausage? It’s pink. (I think this is either chicken breast or turkey! Hopefully I can find JD a low salt lunch meat!) He wants to also just chill outside in the sun, not like on a walk with people or dogs walking by, but sunbathe and relax outdoors. He likes when his people sit and read and likes to see his people content at home.

Q: Has he had a happy life, even though he never got his backyard?

A: He feels fulfilled and loved, and sees himself more as a little person because he’s so included in everything. He says, “We did this, we did that, we got our home [apartment] together, …”

A: [unprompted] He’s having bladder issues and is very embarrassed about it. His ego is hurt, and he’s used to going around being the cutest dog and everyone cooing over him and his pride is hurt by the diapers. Maybe see if you can talk to the vet about incontinence, or frame the diaper as a positive for him. Make it a celebration and something to be excited about.

[I got a bit emotional towards the end and didn’t end up taking many notes during this part of the conversation]

Q: Is there anything else he would want to tell us? Can you tell him sorry he never got a backyard?

A: He says he has literally everything he wants! He can’t imagine what else would he would need.



Milo

Q: What makes him happiest?

A: First off, Milo wants everyone to know that he’s in charge and is the favorite. We should do more of what he says. He’s just this massive personality and if he could shrink down and fit in our pocket he would go around with us all day. He’s very self important and thinks no one understands that he’s the fabric holding the family together. He feels like his importance is forgotten with everything going on with JD, which he understands. There is some sibling rivalry, not dislike but he pouts and feels under appreciated. [He absolutely pouts] We should do something special with Milo alone to make him feel better.

A: Milo wonders how JD passing will that change our family dynamic and has anxiety if they both get sick, what will happen to mom and dad?

Q: What would he like to do more of?

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A: More praising, petting, celebrate him, Milo likes to snack but he LOVES engaging play time and jumping around with him. Not just throw the toy and he brings it back.

Q: How are his joints feeling? Is he ever in pain?

A: Joints are sticky but not painful, all of his joints pop when he gets up to stretch and usually once he gets going he’s fine.

Q: Does he like his food?

A: It’s a little dry compared to their old food.

Q: Does Milo like other dogs besides JD? Would he want another dog in the house after JD?

A: He does not like other dogs. He’ll be sad if JD dies but he will not want another dog. He wants to be in charge. No cats either.

Q: Can we help him be less afraid of being tripped over or having things dropped on him?

A: He says this isn’t your fault, he’s always been that way, but it’s hard to him to see what’s going on around him - he can’t look up or around that well because he has a short neck and he says he wants to be groomed again. And his fur creates a shadow effect that makes him sometimes see things that aren’t there (I’m guessing this is all of his extra ear fur that he might see in his peripheral vision).

Q: Would he like to start coming to the barn? Would he be scared of the horses?

A: He’s not so sure about the horses, but would require more attention and interaction. Wouldn’t want to sit there bored for forever and doesn’t want to be tied up but would go if it was short or he had company.

Q: What does he want to do more of?

A: He wants more individual time and attention. He does not want long walks or hikes, we get overzealous (v. true, he does always need a few good breaks on longer walks!). Wants to be treated like a prince.


I also had her communicate with Leo, but I’ll save that (very eye-opening) discussion for another day. It was funny that all three animals remarked that I have a ‘buzzing’ energy and am always working at a high stress level, or am constantly flitting around while I’m home all of which I would say is true.

Do I believe? Absolutely. Even if you don’t, I think it’s such a cool experience and if anything, could be a great story to tell. There’s no way she could have known that Leo had a rough past and issues with feeling abandoned, JD had bladder issues or that Milo thinks he is basically dog royalty. All my social media was also set to private prior to contacting her. For now we are going to be making sure that JD gets to live it up and Milo gets some individualized attention, and probably a hair cut! Milo and JD also said I’m their favorite, so checkmate my dear skeptic husband.

Anise’s contact information is below if you’re interested in having a conversation with your animals!

Anise Silvernail
Focused Heart Massage Therapy
focusedheartsouthlyon.com

Who is FRED?

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Last Sunday my barn hosted an awesome non-riding clinic named FRED. Fun Rider Education Day. There was a mental skills portion and “From the Judges View” feature, which just happened to coincide with a (quarterly?) visit from an awesome dressage coach. I’d missed the chance to have a lesson from her the past few times she’d visited, so I added a dressage lesson to my educational itinerary for the day!

Dressage Lesson

The lesson began with introduction where the trainer asked about what we’re currently working, what level we compete at, etc.
I told her we usually do 2’6 hunters at local schooling shows and are currently working on, besides everything, is preventing Leo from anticipating. Leo is smart, and clearly knows his job, so he knows that after we’ve walked and trotted and then walked again, we canter. He then anticipates the transition, and as soon as I pick up the reins he’s balky and jumpy, with a hollow back and head up and it’s just ugly.
The dressage instructor had us working on the same ol’ inside leg to outside rein concepts, but micro-managing our every move in the best way! She even went as far as to walk along side us holding my hands exactly where they should be in each part of a circle, give and take on the inside rein and holding the outside. When she could see that Leo was getting less and less responsive in the trot she had us canter a lap each way to wake him up, which worked well but also brought out the anticipatory monster in him after we went back to working at the trot. She immediately identified my problem: I’m telling him what NOT to do instead of what I want him to do. He goes to canter as soon as I pick up the reins, so I tell him whoa and clamp the reins and take my leg off - it was that visible. This unengages his hind end and creates even more frustration. She told me I need to give him something to work on and stop saying “no, no, no”.
It worked instantly. He gets balky? Leg on. She identified another one of my problems: abandoning him. Just because he knows his job doesn’t mean he’s going to magically collect himself and get the perfect pace and distance - he’s just not that horse. I’ve added that to my growing list of Things to Improve, as well.
Needless to say, my anticipated discipline transfer to dressage would not be very successful, despite my love for matching saddle pads and polos.

Mental Skills

The Mental Skills clinic was taught by the amazing, Tonya Johnston. I won’t give away all of her secrets, because she has many resources available to riders struggling with their mental fitness or nervousness associated with riding. I would say that the overall theme of her talk was on being cognizant or aware of, well, everything involving your riding. It’s important to notice what is working for your riding [not just what doesn’t]. To put it simply, one must be mindful, set goals and reflect on your time in the saddle. Journaling your lessons to create a personal riding “textbook” (like an outline you’d make before a final exam) was personally my favorite exercise discussed. I would highly recommend attending one of her mental skills clinics, purchasing her book or even visiting her website to set up a phone conversation to speak with her for personal coaching.

Equitation, Hunter and
Derby Judging

The USEF R Judge who presented was also super informative! She began her discussion on equitation, while the front page of the Equitation section of the USEF rulebook was passed out. The first sentence reads, “Rider should have a workmanlike appearance, seat and hands light and supple, conveying the impression of complete control should any emergency arise.” She emphasized that many equitation riders can be faulted for looking like they are placed into position nicely on a horse, while stiff and unable to follow the motion of the horse. You’re not to sit and look pretty. Function is emphasized.

  • When you enter the ring for an equitation round, unless your sitting trot is 110%, posting is fine - unless the sitting trot is explicitly called for (in a work-off or flat phase/class). Same goes for exiting an eq class. I also got the okay to walk in and go straight to the canter, so goodbye ugly, choppy anticipatory trot in!

  • Walk through the in-gate! Always!

  • Also don’t take a tour around the entire arena with your “entrance circle” - use it to make a good first impression.

  • Be timely at the gate - the judge and the announcer has been sitting around all day, don’t make them wait any longer, especially not noticeably rehearsing your course (by waving your whip around in a figure 8). The courses are posted in the morning. Learn them.

  • For Hunters: unless you have a young horse that needs extra balancing (or a horse with a tough lead), you walk in the ring, pick up your trot and then go straight to your canter. Not: walk > trot > walk > canter. Equitation it’s okaaay, but only if necessary because you can’t pick up the wrong lead otherwise. Huge points off for the wrong lead in an eq class.

  • Stirrup irons - make sure they are at least ‘metal’ color. The judge presenting likes just the standard stainless stirrups, but would not penalize a different type of iron except for a black color. Competitors cannot be eliminated for stirrup type. I’m going to be keeping my Lorenzinis until my trainers tell me otherwise…

  • Judges are not hoping for you to make a mistake! They want all the riders to do well.

  • The Hunter Derby: regular hunters on steroids. There are 2 rounds, a separate panel of judges, more natural jumps [haybales, walls, etc.]. The courses are built for more pace and animation. Successful derby horses do not have to be the typical, daisy-cutter hunter movers. Good jumpers are rewarded more than good movers. The order reverses for the handy round.

For the scorecard [looks like this], where judges document each round, each fence is judged and documented and the overall impression in noted in the comments. From there, the total score is determined and written in the scores section, where the judge can look at previous round to determine the round’s placement. So it’s not like dressage where your trot in is scored at x / 10, and your canter in the corner from 5 to 6 is scored at y / 10… actually I’m not even sure how dressage is scored. But Equitation and Hunter judging is about each fence’s score and then overall impression.

After our discussion, we all went outside to observe two trainers from my barn attempt a hunter, equitation and work off round. Hearing live feedback from a judge was sooo interesting! Mostly because the trainers she judged are, I would say objectively, amazing riders. They would trot in for their pretend class and the judge was like, “They’re okay, leg seems okay and position is alright” which is probably the understatement of the year. And she would go on critiquing their rounds, sometimes very bluntly, but they’d finish and she’d give a awesome [well-deserved] score like an 83. The whole thing just made me excited to have my riding picked apart so honestly, so time to get excited for my next show!

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10/10 would do FRED again!

Everyday Products at the Barn

For the Horse:

Baby Wipes

I use baby wipes for ear crud, general face clean-up and they are also great for hand cleaning without damaging my skin like a Lysol wipe would! I make sure to get the unscented ones so I have a non-irritating disposable clean up cloth. They are also amazing for cleaning matte helmets (also, windex is great for removing grease marks!). They’re also good for cleaning up a post-walkie poopy dog butt, which is the original reason I was in possession of many packages of baby wipes.

Amazon Basics Microfiber Cloths

I worked at Starbucks for something like 4 years and ever since I’ve been obsessed with using microfibers rags for kitchen clean-up. I’m somewhat of a clean freak and going through two rolls of paper towels a week is just not viable. After getting back into horses, I realized how useful having a catch-all cloth around can be. Horse snot? Got it. Extra mud on legs? Wipe it up. Horse sensitive on the face? Groom with the cloth. As a person who meticulously washes their hands ten times a day, being at the barn can drive me crazy if I don’t have a place to wipe my hands too, so I make sure to always have a cloth on hand. The Amazon basics brand are well priced, super soft, wash nicely and last a long time. (pictured below in blue)

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Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel is not just a common human skincare option, but is also touted for horse use. It’s been recommended as a homemade liniment or to cut a pre-made liniment without compromising effectiveness. It’s said to relive itchiness and help remove stains. Opinions vary, but it’s not recommended for internal use so I would avoid use on wounds though it does have a disinfecting nature, which still makes good for preventing fungus issues.

Soup Containers

These soup containers found on Amazon are the perfect size for prepping supplements, either for your home feeding schedule or taking on the road. I know a lot of people like the convenience of SmartPaks but not the price or the waste, and having your own reuseable containers can improve efficiency and reduce your guilt! And hopefully make your barn owner’s job easier in the process.


For Your Stuff:

Vinyl Monogram Labels

If you’re really into monograms like me, or really into keeping your stuff yours, some vinyl labels might be for you. These can be applied to any non-porous surface, some ideas: feed buckets, brushes, hoof pick, wash buckets, your plastic/blanket trunk, helmet, horse boots, crops, phone, water bottle, coffee cup, trailer, car, golf cart, your dog, your horse, anything, everything. They’re not reusable, but they are long-lasting and should be non-damaging. Be sure to clean with Windex prior to application.

Sheepskin (the gun cleaning variety)

I know guns and leather sound like an odd cross of hobbies, but when I first got my saddle and did “extensive” research… on COTH forums, I found that some of the top leather cleaning experts recommended sheepskin over tack cleaning sponges. The specific type of sheepskin needed is rarely found except sold as gun cleaning cloth, so no, you won’t be using your sheepskin rugs. I find that the sheepskin picks up dirt or dust on the saddle but does not hold the dirt at the ends of the hairs, so either when applying conditioner or just dusting your saddle, you’re not scraping the dirt over the leather like you might if you had a sponge or cloth. The sheepskin can also be cut down into much smaller pieces to separate for general cleaning, conditioning and deep cleaning. I usually cut one piece into about 9 pieces.

Wreath Storage Bags

If you have a saddle pad (or overall horse-accessory) problem like I do, you likely need some storage for your items besides your trunk and your car and your garage and your dining table. My favorite simple purchase is my wreath storage bag, perfectly sized for laying saddle pads flat. They’re perfect for under bed storage, and the handles offer easy access so I’m not digging around under there. I found some other, more structured options like this one or this one if your collection exceeds mine.

Tack or Blanket Trunk

Whether you need a lightweight trunk for travelling, or some blanket storage if your horse’s stall front is not protected from the weather, the Container Store has some awesome options. Many people opt for Husky or Stanley trunks, but I always thought the non-flat lid would bug me. This one looks like it would be nice to sit on and sturdy enough to stand on. I don’t know why you’d be standing on it but I digress.

Car Saddle Stand

I’d be a little unsure about leaving saddle at showgrounds after the theft fiascos at Thermal and WEF, so toting your saddle around in your car has become somewhat necessary. Anticipating my future off-property shows, I recently attempted to order a Stubbs Saddle Mate and got so much flack from my husband (because I can just lay it down like I’ve been doing for the past two years, right?) that I cancelled the order. Around the same time, I saw a post for a similar product on the Sporthorse Apothecary Facebook feed. It just happened to be a garbage can. I found mine at a Target for $10, and it works perfectly! I back in into a corner of my car’s trunk so it doesn’t move around when holding my saddle, but when not in use, I keep extra horse treats, towels for when I get my car washed and my extra reusable grocery bags! For the price and utility, I would HIGHLY recommend.

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OxiClean

I use OxiClean in most of my loads of laundry, but on top of that, it is incredible to use on gross, stinky gloves. I dissolve a tiny scoop (of the powdered form) in a large bowl of hot water and just let them sit. See the left picture for the amount of dirt and nastiness that comes out after a few minutes of soaking. Rinse well and the gloves are good as new. Nothing else I’ve tried, especially not putting them in my regular laundry, works. OxiClean is also super effective at getting dirt stains out of my saddle pads and prized white polos.

Sterilite Latch Boxes

THESE BOXES ARE INCREDIBLE. Storage for everything. The tiny ones hold my extra spurs. I have a box for extra reins, my martingale and bits. There’s a larger box that I keep my clippers and accessories in. The largest box I keep open at the bottom of my trunk for boots so the dirty ones don’t get everything else sandy. One box holds a set of my favorite polos organized. I also have a ton of these boxes around my apartment, some for skincare products, important papers, my leather cleaning stuff. KonMari-ing my life did not save money on the storage box front.

For You:

I make sure to keep a few common sense items in my trunk just for extra preparedness: sunscreen, deodorant, extra scarf or vest, spare belt and boot socks, checkbook (which I recently learned is v. important), sharpie, phone holster, etc.

 
 

If I came off prepper-level crazy about always having what I need at hand, it’s because I am.
Thank you for reading and hoped you got some good ideas on how to save money on non-equestrian branded items!

Reflections on Last Weekend's Schooling Show

Top 4 U/S were all ladies from my barn. We got 4th and Leo could not look more proud to pose for a picture. Other horses? Not so much.

Top 4 U/S were all ladies from my barn. We got 4th and Leo could not look more proud to pose for a picture. Other horses? Not so much.

Last weekend I had my first “schooling” show of the year with Leo. My barn hosts local association shows a few times a year and I’m always happy to have a low pressure and low cost opportunity to show. It was both Saturday and Sunday, and I wish I could bottle the feeling of pure bliss getting off work that Friday with the sun still shining, heading to the barn for a final lesson and school a bit in the hedge ring. Leo absolutely knew exactly what this meant.

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We had an awesome and unusually energetic warm-up. Things that happened during our school: jumped things way bigger than the level we showed at, an exuberant Leo bucking and playing after said big but fun jumps, doing five strides in a long six, my crop broke because it went into my boot upon one wonky landing, a refusal to another big oxer because a bug flew in my eye and Leo knew something was up (good call bud, my eyes were closed). We basically raced around the course like we were planning on winning a jumper class. I would say it was a train-wreck but I was laughing the entire time and Leo felt so good, so how could I not enjoy it? I felt like we got a great school in, but heading home I started to have doubts. What if I can’t hold him together in the ring and he goes around happily bucking and playing? What if I pull him to another refusal like last show?? I put it out of my mind. A glass of wine helped.

My goal for the weekend was to get around the courses without worrying about winning and to have FUN. Needless to say, GOALS MET. Looking back on the weekend, I may have embarrassed myself a bit. Don’t mind the girl at the [schooling] show overdressed with a braided horse happily chipping and laughing about it, with unasked for upward transitions and definitely not using my corners. That’s fine though, Leo was a v. good boy and looked genuinely happy in all the videos and got absolutely showered with treats for being so wonderful. I can’t get over his swivel ears, jump hunting and constantly checking in with, “Okay, where we headed next?” I even heard someone sitting near my husband on one of our videos say, “He just look so happy to do his job!” as we entered the ring. Gonna need a parent signature slip for that feel trip.

Some thoughts about my rounds:

Saturday

U/S. I sincerely hope the judge Saturday shared my sense of humor. We had two accidental upward transitions and each time I was definitely making eye contact with her. When our trot was finally getting to floaty-status: Surprise Canter. How we didn’t come in last, I’m not sure. And damn, was Leo annoyed that we couldn’t just gallop around. I was laughing around the entire ring.

1. Heading into the ring with our nice trot, the surprise canter transition strikes again. I think this threw me off enough to think that we were really forward, a common fault of mine. Well, we weren’t. I pulled to a trot for our first fence. We did not place. Added in the first line. I still had it in my head that we were GALLOPING. We were not. Pulled to a bad trot/chip stride for the long approach oxer. Chipped into the last line.

2. Enter attempting to keep the trot to the end of the rail, so our trot looks sad and ugly and I still didn’t keep the gait. Still crawling at the canter, chip our first jump. Did NOT get the change, even trying to trot it and picking up the wrong lead again! Obviously did not do well in this class either. We are able to gallop down the lines regardless of what madness I try to pull. Nail the long approach! He’s perfect.

3. The Mini Medal! Super late change after fence 1, and then an awwwful chip, but then our rollback is beautiful. He really gets so powerful and lovely and turn-y with the outside rein and leg combo buttons. Our halts could use some work. Should I have patted him at the halt? Probably not. We also argued about doing a canter step before the trot jump so he takes off from like 10 feet away (Can I stop thrusting my hips forward with the trot jumps? Yuck.).

 

Sunday

4. Here’s another huge upward transition mistake! We were supposed to make a trot loop around the arena, like a backwards ‘c’, and then pick up our right lead. We head in across the diagonal and Leo’s like WEEEEE LEFT LEAD. I’m thinking: that gives me two very ugly options, lead change or simple trot change. I went with a very poorly executed lead change. In retrospect, I could have just brought him back to the trot… but at least we had a good pace after our ugly change. Going into the diagonal line you can clearly see that my reins have become a problem (a common fault of mine). He jumps the white and red line suuuper cute, but I need to focus on not letting him get so close to the out jumps of the lines! For some reason I become a coward to the long-approach oxer, which is actually not usually my problem. See a spooky thing outside the arena coming to the last line and then we’re on a roll and take a distance I did not expect… this happens to me occasionally (see: all the time) and my trainer always tells me to “just go with him” and I’m like I would but my brain doesn’t compute. Anyway, it looked like we were out fox hunting or something, so give me a grab strap and some extra points for that lively jump! It is called hunters, right?

5. Me: attempts to keep his trot under control. Leo: no canter? Well, you’re definitely not going to get a nice trot out of me.
First fence was okay! Butchered the long approach again. No spookies at the outside line! Very cute diagonal. I attempt to use my corner, reins get long again. I thought that round went pretty well!

6. Same ugly entrance, good first fence! The bending line was a solid 6.5 strides, and I planned for a slight bulge out for a 7. We still could have stepped up a bit but it rode well. After the bending I completely forgot my course! I was just like, uhhhh well it makes sense for us to end up over here so maybe do this line? And then remembered the trot jump at the last second. It made for a seamless transition, though! I was so impressed that I remembered the trot jump that I wasn’t focusing on the line and turned a bit too soon and without being organized. Chip = rail = points off. Good halt and made easy work of the last line. Almost trotted out of the ring, but even with all the mistakes, still ended up with a second!

All in all, especially after watching the videos and knowing that the mistakes I made are not only common for me, but ones that I have made and also corrected in the past, I feel confident that we can go into our next show and make definite improvements. I’m hoping we’ll be able to focus more on the medals and equitation classes, too!