Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Event at Rebecca Farm

I've always heard people rave about the Event at Rebecca Farms, and even though Kalispell is only about 4 hours from here I've never been. I've always wanted to go, and this year it was a qualifier for the World Cup. Luckily my Dad was willing to go check it out too, so we picked up my brother's dog Harry (bro went out of town that morning and Dad was in charge of dog-sitting) and headed east.

The drive to Kalispell is about the same distance as the drive to Seattle, but beautiful! No ugly desert or Moses Hole. It's all forest and rivers and lakes, I bet for half the drive you're next to water of some kind. We got to the show Friday in the late afternoon with about an hour or two left to go, and I had planned on watching the upper-level dressage tests that were going on. HOWEVER, when we got to the grounds, a horse went galloping by! Training level cross country was happening and of course I got sucked into that instead.

We headed out to the course. Rebecca Farms is the most beautiful horse event I've ever seen. In a word- manicured. Amazing. Open. Classy. Friendly. There are shade tents set up for spectators on the top of a hill where you can see almost the entire course. They even put blue dye in the water obstacle water to make it pretty.

Training- up bank out of the water, bending line to a log

Training wasn't going over the "Booby Trap" (2 giant mounds next to each other) so we could stand on them and take pictures. Here's a horse going over the Hunting Hounds jump:

A horse going into the water complex:

And off the bank:

After x-country was over we checked out the jumps. They were works of art.

Trout pond:

Dad and Harry at the Beaver jump (coming out of the water):

The Moose:

And I am sorry, but is this for real? Come up out of the sunken road to this.
This is NOT a corner jump- it's just a huge ginormous spread thing. This is the side view:
Harry's favorite: The Hunting Hounds


World Cup jump

And my absolute most favorite jump of all time: Ogopogo!!!
Here's the jump part. It was a CCI*** and Advanced jump.

One of the jumps in 'Jurassic Park'

This in one of the few events where a full traditional 3-Day is offered. On cross country day, the horses warm up trotting and cantering 3-4 miles of roads and tracks. Then they GALLOP fast fast fast around a steeplechase course. Then a cool down period of more roads and tracks. They have 10 minutes in a vet box, and if they pass they go straight on to their cross country course.

We had to get up early to get there (was the first thing to go Sat. morning) but was so worth it. There were only 3 entries, all women. We waited at the steeplechase course, and the first horse began flying. All 3 made it look easy (and fuuuuuunnn!)

Snap Decision and Jeanine Allred

All 3 completed the steeplechase and the second roads and tracks. Dually was retired because of a minor leg issue before x-country, his boot had rubbed him raw and he was favoring it a bit. Snap Decision took the wrong fence on XC at 19 and was eliminated. Quazar completed the course, and also completed her showjumping round the next day to win it.

After the Prelim3D-ers were finished, the CCI*-ers (I believe it was the same course) went.

The bar jump, complete with kegs and stools!
Jumping the bar

This one got a pretty rough rub:
On top of the Booby Trap
Jurassic Park T-Rex. I can't tell if she's smiling or grimacing, there was a HARD left hand turn to...

The dino egg.

After watching quite a few rounds, we decided to go check out the stabling area and the trade fair before the CIC***W riders went. Jessica Wisdom was checking out a tack store and gave me some great advice on a bit for my small-mouthed low-port but with a huge tongue guy. Of COURSE it's freaking expensive- a loose ring Sprenger Dynamic. I mean, if I knew it was going to work for sure there would be no question. And I do need to find something, all 200 bits I've tried have not worked and I'm ready to start riding him in a hackamore.

I got to sit in a Devoucoux Chiberta eventnig saddle. Heaven. And they had a used one, only $3,200! Did I want to take it home and try it out? Of course I did! For some reason the deal was off when I said I would need to trade it for my old Wintec all-purpose. That's really not even mine.

The CIC***W was exciting. I always like watching the water jumps (me and everyone else there) and I like to be up close so we went and hung out with the professional photographers rather than sit on the hill where you can see most of the course with everyone else.

This water line was 3 elements: a cabin into the water, then this jump, then...

Ringwood Magister, Tiana Coudray

a big up bank, with a bounce to another cabin.
Ballinakill Glory, Kelly Pranther: They won it!

My favorites:
The Good Witch, Jennifer Wooten-Dafoe

They were one of the last pairs to go, and NO ONE had made the time yet. The Good Witch was absolutely flying around the course like she was being chased by demons. Head down, ears back, full throttle go from the start to the end. They had a clear round and the fastest time of all but still didn't make the time allowed. They DID come in second, though!

Everyone went up the hill
To find this at the bottom:
After the CIC***W riders were done, Advanced started. It was exactly the same course, only these riders weren't trying to qualify for the World Cup. We decided to go to the Duck Pond area to try to find some shade and watch more water jumps.

Over a duck into the pond

...and over a duck out of the pond
On the other side of this pond was the pond where Ogopogo sat and waited for his prey...

We drove home yesterday afternoon and I spent today listening to the live web radio of the showjumping and watching the results. There were quite a few nailbiters and people moved quite a bit up and down the ranks.

They don't even have a beginner novice course at this event. However, I will ride here! (Do you hear that, Jasper???)


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Baby's first off-ranch trail ride!

The weather was perfect for a trail ride today. Karlin and I decided that after a couple of good rides on Jasper and Porsche last week that they were probably ready for their first trail ride involving a horse trailer. Porsche just turned 5 and has been off the ranch once in her life, and Jasper who just turned 4 has been to 3 little shows.

Everything is still really green!

We thought we'd make a day of it and invited Pam and Sandy to meet us there (hmm... moral support?). Yesterday 2 of the boys from the ranch decided they wanted to come too which was perfect because they ride the steady trusted 20-something-something-year-old horses.

Sandy on Cowboy and Pam on Bronnze

Slavin Ranch is a great area to ride in. It has winding trails through meadows and woods that surround a wetlands sanctuary where lots of birds live. Mostly ducks there today although we've seen cranes, owls, hawks, and strange water birds I don't know anything about. Today we saw an owl in flight.

This was the section of the trail I was most worried about. It is narrow and elevated and cuts between 2 ponds, so you either stay on the trail or fall off into a pond on either side. The breeze was blowing the tall grass around into the horses' sides too, but the most that went off the trail was one hoof. Obviously this part of the trail doesn't faze Sandy or Cowboy as Sandy took this picture.

Letting Jasper eat was the only way to get him to stand still for a fraction of a second.
Me & Jasper, Karlin & Porsche, Bailey, and Moose.
No, I'm not wearing a snorkel.

Porsche was great. She was a little worried and a little nervous the whole time but kept it together and had a really successful ride. Jasper calmed down after the first 10 or 15 minutes and was super. My goal on trail rides is that my horse goes along on a loose rein at the walk. So unless they're really flipping out I give them a loose rein and when they jig or trot I pull them back to a walk. Repeat. Sometimes 2 million times, but today only for 10 or 15 minutes. He walked on a loose rein, somewhat followed the trail and did some trail blazing. He tripped a lot as he doesn't quite know where his feet are yet. They're a looooooooong way down there. He couldn't/wouldn't stand still and had mini baby fits when we needed to stop but that will go away with time. Right now I don't expect him to be able to stand still, especially with all the stimulation.

AND he stood still at the trailer when we got back. He had to stand with his front feet in the giant hole he had dug before the ride, but he was pooped. He didn't pull back once even though I had him tied with the Tie Blocker ring for safety. A beautiful day, beautiful horses, and good friends. What could be better?

Moose, Jasper, Porsche, and Bailey ready to go home.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Ups and Evens

Jasper had a coupe of weeks off. I was so worried about his stifles after the show, and then a bunch of shite and stress at work kept me away from the horses, so it wasn't until Monday that he got ridden since the last horse show.

I actually lunged him in the round pen before I got on for the first time. He cantered the whole time. Every time I asked him to switch directions he threw his chest into the fence and made loud crashing noises. Sigh.

I took him to the arena in a western saddle. He let me get on. I asked him to go and he went straight into death trot. Right on the very edge of canter. I let the reins loose and when he did break into a canter did a one-rein stop into the arena fence. He must have death trotted for at least 20 minutes. Both directions, circles, serpentines, breaking into canter, and stopping. It was like he just couldn't contain himself. When he finally broke into a somewhat normal trot he got lots of praise and I got off.

The next day was much the same, but when he finally calmed down to a normal working trot I asked for canter. I kept the reins loose but half-halted in the corners where he scrambles and speeds up. The canter wasn't bad.

Yesterday I got on and he just stood there. Poked around at the walk. Trotted so slowly he broke into the walk a couple of times. Cantered around a lot, because I wanted him to go on the trail with the other horses. All on a loose rein. He chose to lead the trail ride- through the hay fields and forest. He went last through the marshy area where the grass is taller than he is, but he went. Walked on a lose rein the whole way. Walked over the ditch. I couldn't have been happier.

Then today we decided to head straight for the trails and skip the arena. He led the ride again, but we extended the ride by quite a bit. He led the way through the marshy area, and we all decided to trot up the sloping hay field. He went in a nice medium trot on a loose rein with 3 horses behind him. I got him to trot over and kind of jump the ditch. It was our best ride yet.

AND when we got back to the arena there was a giant folded up hay tarp on the ground. Rooster picked his feet up and walked right over it. Moose walked over it and flattened it down some. Then the other baby horse Porsche walked over it and we were all amazed. I decided Jasper needed to stand next to it as the horses walked over it so he could hear it and see it. To my complete bafflement he reached down and started licking it. Then he tried to grab it with his teeth and it moved and scared him. This is the horse that broke my finger over a tarp issue. In the end, baby J walked over the big grey tarp. Three times. I don't get it- but I'll take it!!!