Saturday, June 28, 2014

Show Day 1

I arrived at the show at about 6:15am on Wednesday to a wide eyed Liam wanting O..U..T.. of his stall.  He finished his dinner from the night before, drank about 3/4 bucket of his water and ate most of his hay.  I was very happy about this.  I grabbed the lunge line and headed to the lunging area.  It took Liam about 10 minutes to settle down on the lunge.  Then we hand grazed next to the ring for about 30 minutes waiting for my trainer to arrive at 7am to walk the course and warm up for our classes.  Liam actually at this point seemed really chill and just happy to be out hand grazing.

It was another hot humid day ahead of us with thunderstorms predicted for the afternoon.  At 7am is was already almost 80 degrees.  Trainer arrived and a away and headed over to the ring.

The jumps looked HUGE!  When they say they are .80 meters, they are a solid .80 meters.  .80 meters is 2 feet 7 3/4 inches, so almost 2'8".  If I am being completely honest I was really intimidated by the jumps.  Especially the oxers.  They were square and wide.  Eeek!

The courses:

The first course was a speed round and the second course was a timed first round with a jump off.  The courses were pretty straight forward with noting tricky.  They had 2 in and outs.  If you remember, Liam and I haven't practiced many in and outs.

Got Liam all tacked up and headed to the schooling ring at about 7:45am.  I love the schooling rings at this show.  They are big with amazing footing.  A lot of times shows have these tiny warm up rings with horrible footing.

Liam actually seemed pretty chill walking out to the ring.  I hopped on and picked up my trot and was pleasantly surprised how quiet he was.  We trotted around both directions looking around, but then got right to work.  My trainer/friend set jumps for me and we started schooling over them.  Liam was again really pretty chill.  It was a way different ride then I was used to.  It was almost like I had to create the energy.  Typically I am trying to relax him to the jumps.  We kept finding the base distance because I am not used to this quiet Liam.  I wouldn't call the base distances chips though, it was more like settling to the base of the jumps.  Liam wasn't backed off the jumps at all but he wasn't taking me to them like he normally does.  He felt almost huntery...  This is new.

Headed into the ring for the first course.  He woke up a little in the ring and I picked up my canter and I got a nice forward canter and jumps 1 & 2 came up beautiful.  Rolled back to 3 which came up great, by holding my shoulders, but keeping him in front of leg.  Cantered away to 4ab and I felt him peak a little.  Like, what is this?  I didn't feel like he was going to stop, it was almost like he was trying to figure it out.  I clucked and he jumped right through.  Good boy!.  Now we were moving.  We were very forward to 5 and I never really got him balanced and I jumped up his neck and he hit the rail with his front end, darn.  6 came up long and again I never balanced to 7 because I didn't realized how open his stride was and we did a 4 in the 5.  opps.  My trainer and I talked about possibly doing a 6 there, but Liam had other plans.  At this point I realized that Liam was on the move now after the clucking at the in and out.  I landed from 7 smiling and laughing that we just left out a stride, I have been so worried that Liam couldn't make it down the lines.  I was thankful that we had a roll back to 8 to balance a little.  I balanced him through the roll back with my shoulders again and kept my leg on and 8 came up lovely.  Stood out to 9ab, this time Liam had no hesitation to the 2 stride in and out with a bending line to 10.  Again, I never balanced to 10 and we kind of had a flyer.  But all and all I was really pleased with my first course.  Could I have rode better absolutely, but I am a true amature and Liam was ok with my mistakes.

Heading into my second course I knew I had to balance a little better.  It wasn't like Liam wasn't listening to the balance, I just wasn't asking him to balance at all.  Jump 1 came up good with a left turn to 2 with 5 strides this time to jump 3.  I just sat up in the line and the 5 strides was beautiful.  Right turn to 4 ab, again this came up great, sat up to 5 and it was beautiful.  Around the end to jump 6, 7, & 8 which was a 5 stride to a 4 stride.  Found a good spot in and just sat up with leg on and the 5 to 4 was beautiful.  Right turn to 9, now you didn't expect me to ride this whole course well, did you?  What did I do, never balanced to 9 and jumped ahead, had the rail... Darn it!!!  Landed and beautiful ride to 10ab, with no hesitation this time from Liam.  Ugh, I just needed to sit up better to 9 and the course would have been perfect, oh well.  I was really pleased and was all smiles leaving the ring.  I even said to my trainer that this was actually fun.  Big change from the day before where I was saying that this is not fun at all.  I was so happy with Liam and the grown up horse showing he just did.

Untacked him and hosed him off and settled him in the stall for the afternoon.  Liam was really tired and even took and nap in his stall!  Success!

I was all done showing, Liam clean, tack clean, and packed up and it was only 9:30am.  I could get used to this.  The ran the ring as an open card, which I think all horse shows should do... Liam got a well deserved nap and hand walk later and tucked in for the night.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Arrival Day at PSJ

Last Tuesday Liam and I headed over to the Princeton Show Jumping horse show to get all settled in.  The show grounds take about an hour to get to from my barn with the trailer, but are only 15 minutes from my house. Since I was planning on showing Liam in the first class at 8am for 3 days in a row I decided it would be a good idea to get him a stall on the grounds to save me about 1 1/2 hours of sleep a day and about 2 hours worth of driving a day.  Also, I wanted to see how Liam would be stabled on the show grounds somewhere local first before taking him anywhere far away.  Liam lives outside 24/7 and hasn't been in a stall consistently in about 3 years.  I had know idea what to expect.

I left work around 1pm on Tuesday and picked Liam up.  We arrived on the grounds around 3pm.  I put Liam in his stall and unpacked the trailer.  I didn't get a tack stall, so I kept only the necessities by the stall.  He was really confused about the stall and got really anxious.  I ran to the office to get my number and check in and came back to Liam stall walking and screaming.  Oh boy...

I decided to take him out for a lunge to take the edge off just to hand walk him around the show grounds.

Liam wants to know where he is...?

He actually is never crazy on the lunge. He just trots around with his head up looking around.  After lunging, I hand walked him around for about an hour.  I decided it was in my best interest to not get on him until someone I knew was on the show grounds in case he was fresh in the ring since we were fresh just hand walking around.  What I mean by fresh is leaping in the air to show all the other horses how high we can jump.  Grrrr.  My husband was going to come over after work at about 5pm.

Right before 5pm, I brought Liam pack to stall to start tacking up.  My husband arrived just as we were getting back to the stall.  Oh, I forgot to mention that it was about 95 degrees and very humid, so I was dripping sweat.  Lovely.

Tacked Liam up and headed over to the ring.  Well, the lunging and hand walking didn't do enough, but I am sure it helped.  We trotted around like a giraffe pulling a cart (best way to describe) for a while, then turned into a seahorse carnival ride leaping in the air when other horses got close.  I did my best to get his attention by circling, changing directions, bending, counter bending, and getting him to move off my leg.  For the most part he started listening.  At this point, I was riding around thinking how faint I felt realizing that I was completely dehydrated and how this is NOT very fun.  Liam finally gave a good canter with out any shenanigans and I called it quits.  Headed back to the tent to untack and hose him off.  Hand walked him until he was mostly dry, put him back in the stall with a full bucket of water, hay, and his dinner.

Liam took one sniff of the water and said no way am I drinking that.  It made me smell the water and it stunk like pvc plastic pipe.  The show grounds are relatively new (opened 2 years ago) and in the spring this year they ran all new piping for water and electric to the tents.  I decided to go home and eat some dinner at this point and come back with water from my house in a few hours for night check.  I have 2 five gallon fresh water containers that we used to take camping.  I left the grounds to a stall walking screaming Liam.  I called my friend on my way home and asked her if a horse could possibly stall walk and scream for 3 days, it has got to get better right?  She agreed that he will either adjust or he won't.  Great, perfect confidence booster right there (rolling my eyes).

I came back and checked on Liam around 8:30pm and he still wasn't happy, but dealing.  He still didn't finish dinner, so I decided to just leave it in his bucket for the night.  He is not really a food driven horse and if he is stressed at all he won't even eat treats.

I left that night thinking Liam settling in could have gone better, but it could have gone a lot worse.  He wasn't spinning in his stall like a crazy lunatic, just walking slowly in a circle.  It's got to get better, right?

Stay tuned for day one of showing...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Final Jump School before PSJ

Yesterday was my final jump school before the first week of the Princeton Show Jumping horse show this week.  I feel like I have been anticipating, planning for, and talking about this horse show forever. 

I loaded the Liam cuteness in the trailer and headed down the mountain.  I gave him a serious pep talk before we left the barn though.  I told Liam that I really needed a very confident building ride today before the big show and to not pull any shenanigans.  Saturday, Liam was really bad.  I was trying to ride in the ring with another boarder that has a gaited horse and a very squeaky saddle.  Every time the horse came up behind Liam, Liam would leap forward.  Or if the horse was coming at him he spun the other way.  Eventually, I gave up and headed into the indoor and Liam was ridden until he said no more.  If you are going to pull crap like spooking at another horse then you are going to get a hard ride until you give it up.  After about 45 minutes to a hour straight of trotting and cantering Liam called it quits.  Sometimes he just needs those rides.

I didn't know what to expect my jump school to be like on Sunday after our horrific Saturday ride.  To my surprise Liam was very cooperative.  He listened really well and we put together a really good final course with all the jumps set at a solid 2'9".  Two inches higher then we will show at.  That felt really good.

I am a bit nervous about this show.  It will be many firsts for Liam and I.  It will be out first "away" show, meaning Liam will be staying in a stall on the show grounds.  It will be our first show at .80 meters a solid 4 inches higher then our last show.  It will be our first rated horse show ever.  I am confident we can handle the height, we have been jumping a solid 2'6" - 2'9" at home since march.  I am nervous about how Liam is going to handle living on the show grounds though.  It might be interesting, but exciting at the same time!

I am planning on bring Liam over to the show grounds tomorrow afternoon to get him settled in and his first classes will be on Wednesday morning.  Wish us luck!


Friday, June 20, 2014

Pro Ride Days - Video fix (sorry)

Liam got a pro ride yesterday as one of the final preps for the Princeton Horse Show next week.  All in all he was a good boy.  He did stop at one fence and my trainer/friend says she feels exactly what I feel.  Like he is not paying attention and about 2 strides away sees the jump and spooks/panics and peters out in front of it.  She went back around and he hops right over.  Hmmm, it is really weird.  Once he starts jumping he is game on.

Here is a crappy cell phone video, but I figured you all would appriciate it.

I have my final jump school on Sunday morning and off to the show next Tuesday, eeek!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

OMG it has been over a week!

I can't believe it has been over a week since my last post!  So many things to tell.  I am going to give you the quick update.

Liam had Monday and Tuesday off last week and he behaved himself for hacks on Wednesday and Thursday.  Wednesday we worked over a line of raised cavaletti.  They were set up as a solid 5 strides apart.  Because they were only like 6 inches off the ground I worked over them going left and right doing an add in 6 and double add in 7.  Liam was really good and listening to direction.  Thursday we worked on transitions.  He was good, nothing worth telling about.

Friday I went for a jump school.  It was raining and we were stuck inside.  Liam was pretty forward but for the most part really listened.  I really like the forward ride without the bucking!!!

Saturday I had a baby shower in the afternoon so I went and rode Liam first thing in the morning and got him ready for the show on Sunday.  Saturday we worked on lengthening and collecting in the canter, all in all he was good with little fussing.  Got Liam washed, face trimmed, mane touched up, and trailer packed in record timing.

Headed to a schooling show on Sunday morning.  Liam started out fresh and spooky, but settled relatively quickly.  It was really windy out and the jumps were decorated with a ton of foliage that was blowing around.  I can't really blame him for being spooked by it.  All in all he was good though.  Headed to the indoor to school over jumps and when I went to canter my first low jump Liam was spooking all the way up to the jump at things around him.  He noticed the jump about 2 strides away and I took my leg off (ugh, why do I do this) and he did a beautiful halt right in front of it.  Nope, not what I wanted at all... Turned right back around and headed to it again and his head was in the game this time and hopped right over.  What is up with this?!?!  Note to self, do not take my leg off.

Finished up schooling over some more jumps and went in the ring.   Liam felt like he was going to do the same thing to the first jump on course, but I kept me leg on this time and he jumped it.  The rest of the course was rough because I guess I over rode everything, but he got around.  The second course was better, but again really forward, but good.  We had a rail in the second class.  Liam pulled me past a distance a little bit and I jumped up his neck, and you all know the rest...he hit the rail with his front end.  Oh well.  The third class was by far our best.  We were on the same page the entire course.  Good boy!

We ended up 2nd in the first class, which was an optimal time class; sixth in our second class with a rail, power and speed class; and second in our last class, which was a timed first round and jump off.  With these results we were reserve champions at the show!  WOOHOO!

I am a bad blogger and didn't get any pictures at the show, but I will treat you with a sneak preview of the professional photo shoot we did yesterday.  More to come!

Liam is having a pro ride on Thursday this week and I'll have a jump school Sunday morning.  Then, we are off to Princeton Show Jumping Horse Show for 2 weeks starting next week.  I am really excited to see how we will grow with back to back showing!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Liam redeemed himself and earned another meal! Jump School 6/8/14

***Please note that the title is a joke and I don't actually make Liam earn his meals***

I was all smiles after my jump school yesterday morning!

Not the most flattering picture of myself, but I couldn't have been happier!  Liam wasn't at all enthused.

After my disappointing jump school last Wednesday night I went home and started analyzing Liam's program and what has changed to make him misbehave so badly at the last jump school.  I don't know about the rest of you, but when I have a bad ride I analyze and obsess over it for days, basically until I have a good ride.   What I realized through my grueling analysis was that Liam just wasn't working hard enough at flatwork. We came out of the winter really focusing in on flatwork.  Since the weather has turned, I really have relaxed on flatwork and just have been enjoying hacks in the field, trail rides, and hunter paces.  Yes, those fun rides are important, but Liam also needs consistant boring flatwork to keep him sharp.  He is still green and not a made horse yet.

So Friday and Saturday I headed out to the barn with flatwork in mind.  I wanted to get Liam soft and supple in the bridle.  Friday he was very offended that I wanted to work him in the ring.  I was just patient and waited for him to give, and he gave beautiful.  Saturday he gave much quicker, but he played the spook game to get out of working.  Again I was patient and he finished up lovely.

So I headed to my jump school yesterday morning with high hopes.  I got a text from my friend/trainer on the way that she left me a bit to try on Liam.  It is a stubben golden wing gag snaffle.

Popped that bad boy on and headed to the ring.  Started flatting in it and Liam right away accepted the bit easily.  We schooled over some low jumps and he felt great.

All the jumps were raised to a solid 2'9" to 3' and we jumped a course.  Liam was amazing!!!  He was listening, no shenanigans after the jumps, and no curling.  Did we have mistakes still, of course we did, but the mistakes we had were my fault and/or Liam's greenness.  He actually had 2 refusals, but not dirty refusals.  Both times I took my leg off and didn't ride to the jump and he just petered out to a halt in front of the jump.  Both times I came back around a rode to the jump and he popped right over.  What I learned was when the jumps go up I need to ride to ALL the jumps.  Liam needs help over the bigger jumps still.  As long as my leg was on, Liam will leave from anywhere. 

My friend is going to let me ride in her bit a few more times before I shell out the $100 for it.  It really is a good balance of leverage and side of the mouth control. 

Who knows why Liam was so good yesterday morning.  Could it have been the bit, maybe the good flat rides for two days before, or maybe Liam was just plain old more riddable yesterday.  Who knows, but I will take it!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

It can’t always be perfect, right? Jump School – 6/4/14

I don't want to go to a jump school today Mom!

If I can choose one word to explain last night’s jumps school it would be disappointed.  But I should have seen it coming.  For about 2 weeks Liam hasn’t really been good.  He has been very resistant in the bridle and just not supple all around.  My friend said he just doesn’t look as soft and adjustable as he has been.
I flatted to warm up and he was the same as he has been at home.  Playing with the bit, throwing his head a little and rooting.  He did get a little supple, but just not where we were.  Started circling a low vertical off the left and he was being good.  Then we raised it to a solid 2’6” and he was being good left and right.

The bad behavior started as soon as I asked him to canter for my first course.  He leaped into the canter, jeez Liam.  I headed to the first jump and it came up beautiful and he landed and started playing up, bucking bronco style.  Then he just felt a little stuck after that.  Making the rest of the jumps all come up on the long side.  We landed from most of the jumps and played up.  Grrr, just quit it Liam already.

Second course didn’t get much better.  I rode up to everything and now the jumps were coming up really tight.  I was pushing him past the distances.  Ugh, now he was pissed and really playing bucking bronco on the other side of all the jumps.

I decided to do the course one more time and it did get a little better.  Still rough, there was still mistakes, but not as bad.  I guess I can be happy with that, we had a small improvement J.
Really, what should I have expected though?  We haven’t been having great rides at home, so why would the jump school get any better?
Looking at the positives, as I am trying to be a positive person, I am happy with Liam that he did jump all the jumps even when the distances were awful.  He got all his lead changes pretty much auto.  What I am most disappointed in is he just didn’t HELP ME OUT AT ALL.  He made it very difficult to find a distance by pulling down in front of the jumps and sucking back.  When I would push him forward, instead of a balanced uphill canter I would get a flat on the forehand canter. 
The up side is I have some work to do.  I need to get him more supple at home over the next couple of days.  I have decided not to show on Sunday and instead go for another jump school Sunday morning.  I am thinking of changing his bit because I think the full cheek has too much leverage for him and he is curling in it, but I am not so sure that is it.  I will keep you guys all posted.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Light Weekend

I had a nice light weekend this past weekend for once.  Did some errands on Saturday and had lunch with an old friend.  I was able to get out to the barn on Sunday to see Liam and ride. 

It was a beautiful day and I decided to ride Liam out in the fields to make it a fun hack.  We probably were out there for 20-30 minutes total.  Liam was good.  He was a little distracted though and we didn't get beautiful connected work, but he did get to move his parts around.  The field has a little hill that we trotted and cantered up and down and I think it really tired Liam out.  All in all it was another fun day!

The plan for this week is lesson tomorrow (Wednesday) and HORSE SHOW sunday!! Woohoo!