Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tulip Springs Show and XC clinic

Jasper and I arrived at Tulip Springs at about 4:00 on Friday. It was very strange to pull into a place and not know anyone. I was glad the 3 hour drive went by without incident but was still unsure of what to expect for the next four days. Jasper got to stay in an outdoor 12x24 pen that was very nice, and I got to park the trailer with all my junk in it right in front of it. I put his hay net up and filled his water tub and set up camp in the back of my trailer. Swept it out, put a horse blanket down, my air bed with sleeping bag on top. I made the mistake of leaving the door open. The next time I went in there I found a kitty and about 5,000 flies buzzing around.

We went for a hand walk to stretch out his legs. He is not a good traveler and arrives covered with sweat (and sometimes shaking) after his rides in trailers. We went out on the cross country course and jumped things I could jump too- like logs, ditches, baby banks... he seemed quite happy to follow me over anything. I couldn't help thinking of when he broke my finger because I stepped on a tarp and he flew backwards. What an improvement.

Carol, the owner of Tulip Springs, showed me a trail that led to some nice fields to ride in so I saddled up and headed out for a hack. He was in power walking mode but responsive. Trotted and cantered around the fields. What a good boy.

That night I headed to bed to find my air bed flat. I also found kitty claw holes in it. Tried to Duct tape them up but ended up sleeping in the cab of the truck. Luckily Serena's truck (Bessie) has a bench seat.

Saturday was a stadium jumping clinic and we didn't ride until 1:45. Did I mention that Jasper whinnied pretty much the whole first two days? Even when there were tons of horses right there in sight. Ugh. We did a lot of hand walking and grazing while watching the other riders. He hand walks himself as he takes a bite of grass and walks in a circle or two, then takes another bite of grass. My lesson was interesting. We did a lot of transitions and flexing for the flat part of it which wound Jasper up a bit (just because we've never worked at that intensity before) and he refused to pick up his right lead. I'm not sure what was going on with the other 2 horses during the flat, but one was having trouble and the other one ran off with his rider. Didn't bolt or anything, just cantered off past the dressage arena and kept going. The jumping didn't get a whole lot better. One horse refused to even attempt to go over the 2' jump and the other one ran off with his rider again. Unfortunately it took up most the instructor's time, but at the end Jasper and I got to do a little course- our first one! The clinician, who was also the judge for the show the next day, told me to trot in and canter out of combinations. And to take him in as many classes as possible for miles.

AFTER that though was one of the best parts of the weekend. Carol was out on the cross country course with some girls who were schooling so I went to join them. I had no idea what he would do about the big jumps and about the water- especially after the last time he "met" water and cantered sideways up a hill until he ran into a fence. We warmed up over some little logs and then did real BN jumps. He jumped everything without hesitation. I tried cantering in to one but he got confused and brought himself back down to trot to jump it. He even went over a jump that had big scary spaces in it. The water wasn't a problem and I got him to canter through. He jumped the ditches with water running through and went up and down the baby banks.

I guess that Cindy (my next door "neighbor") told Carol about the popped bed and and she offered to let me put my sleeping bag on a bed in the cute little house on the property that they rent out for people to stay in. That was above and beyond accommodating. She had already given me permission to sneak into the bathroom and use the shower.

Early the next morning we were saddled up and ready to enter out 18" class. The trot pole classes had just started and I decided to go in one so he could see the arena- which was a good thing because there were horse-eating roll tops at the end of the arena and they got a good hard sideways look. We won the class and after watching the video I can see why- he totally looks like a little Hunter Under Saddle. Hmm. Jasper, we are NOT doing Hunters.

The 18" division went well (2 jumping and a flat class). We trotted in and tried to canter out, and in one class he was on the correct lead a few times so we cantered around some. He picked up his right lead in the flat class and did very well in spite of being cut off a few times.

The 2' division went really well too- same thing. He never hesitated at a jump and was straight in his combinations. I just sat there quietly and let him figure things out. You're supposed to canter your courses at 18" and 2', and even though we didn't do that it felt quite smooth. Apparently the judge thought so too, because we were the 18" division CHAMPIONS and the 2' RES. CHAMPIONS. Now normally this may not be a big deal, but the champion ribbons are amazing. They really went all out for this show. This may be the fanciest ribbon ever. Pretty fun. And as Terri pointed out on his future Rolex resume' I can now put down "2009 Cross Rail Champion".

Karlin took the pics of Jasper and I and his huge ribbon. She is moving to California (boo!!!) and stopped in Kennewick on her way down. It was great to see a familiar friendly face and she and her cute dog spent most of the day watching the jumping.

Have I mentioned how nice everyone is at this place? Carol is great and wants everyone to have fun. Kate ran the weekend and despite being overloaded with things to do was always friendly and helpful. She even videotaped my jumping clinic for me. My neighbor Cindy was helping out with the show too. She gave me wine and videoed all my jumping classes in the show. Debra was also staying in the house and was very supportive. I also met a few eventers from the Spokane/Coeur d'Alene area.

After the Hunter classes were done all the jumps got moved out and new ones brought in. I should have taken a picture of the jumper courses. Bright poles, roll tops, and they started big and kept getting bigger. Very fun to watch. The best part of the show was the Derbies. They are set up in the cross country field and are a combination of cross country jumps and stadium jumps. Fastest time wins. They also started at 3' and went up- zoiks!

My cross country clinic with Jil Walton was at 1:00 the next day. I was feeling pretty confident from Friday and was looking forward to it. He did really well despite some refusals. At first I was so surprised I didn't really know what to do. The jumps were high and he has never cantered in, so we eventually figured out that he just needs to trot in for now. Going from a 2' vertical pole jump to a 2'6 cross country jump is a big... jump.

Jil was great. I agreed with everything she was saying and doing, not just with me but with all of the riders. I would ride with her again. There seemed to be a lot of positive feedback from everyone.

We made it home without incident last night and Jasper is VERY happy to be back in his pasture with his buddies. Unfortunately he lost a lot of weight this weekend even though he had all the hay he could eat day and night and was getting buckets of supplements. I even put a blanket on him at night so he wouldn't have to use energy to keep warm. He stresses out and loses weight so fast. Not sure what to do about that one. He is not food motivated. When I got him out of the trailer his hay wasn't touched and his tub of cookies, apples, and carrots wasn't touched either. Oh, and he also rubbed out a nice 2"x 2" bald spot in his tail. My butt strap in the trailer is useless and he apparently leans on the back door. It's a nice addition to the battle scar look.

He's going to have some easy rides for a while until he gains a few pounds back. Then we're going to up the intensity of his rides a little bit. More transitions, more right lead canter, more contact. Mixed in with lots of trail rides and canters through the field. I think I need to make some standards to we can practice jumping something other than fence posts balanced on buckets.

What a GOOD boy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Getting Nervous...

For my first solo outing with Jasper. And my first solo outing where I stay overnight with my horse. Over the years I've taken solo day trips with my horses- shows, trail rides, etc. but I've never taken them somewhere alone and stayed the night.

On Friday morning we're heading to Tulip Springs, an eventing barn in Kennewick, Washington. It's about 3 hours away, maybe a little more with a horse trailer. I'm camping in my tent and Jasper gets a 12x24 paddock. I'm borrowing Serena's truck again. The weather forecast is excellent-70s.

On Saturday at 1:45 I have a stadium jumping clinic with Karina Hogan. Somehow we got put in the 2'3 division... so I emailed Carol, the barn owner, said she not to worry about it. As it turns out, she's in my lesson and we're the only 2 so far. I really don't think the height will be a problem, it's just that he's never gone that high in an arena and I didn't want them to think he had.

On Sunday is a Hunter/Jumper schooling show. The judge is Karina Hogan from the clinic the day before. I entered the 2' division with the option of moving up or down a level depending on how Saturday goes. I'm not too nervous about the show, I figure if nothing else we'll just trot into everything. If he can jump 4'7 from a standstill he can jump 2' from a trot with someone on his back.

Then on Monday, well MONDAY... Monday is a CROSS COUNTRY JUMPING clinic with Jill Walton who was in the Barcelona Olympics. Now do we really need someone of that caliber for our first exposure to cross country elements? Probably not. I was clear that this would be Jasper's very first exposure to a cross country course and that he's not jumping BN height yet, and I was assured that there are 10-12 obstacles that are Elementary level. And WATER. Oh yes, I hope we spend time at the water complex. My dream is to gallop into water and out of it. Which means he has to actually step in it first. But we've been building trust in the last 6 months and he has gained quite a bit of confidence in himself.

I think my horse is beautiful. And athletic. And talented. And smart. But he lives in a pasture with 3 other horses that he annoys constantly. He has huge chunks of flesh and hair missing all over his body. The hair that finally started to grow back in is darker than the rest of him so he looks like he's been in a battle. He has a nice moon shaped cut above his right eye. His tail is short and scraggly, he's tall and gangly and even with all the supplements still too thin. After a ride he's hosed off and turned back out in the pasture where he joyously rolls in the dirt. Compared to the immaculate horses that are kept in box stalls he's kind of a mess. I don't know if I even have a sheet or blanket that fits him.

I've had one lesson in the past 4 years which was a couple of weeks ago, and it was fabulous. I feel like a bundle of nervous energy right now which is very unusual for me. I know I should just relax, but this trip seems... big. Maybe because I'm taking jumping lessons. I think more because it is proof that I'm really, truly going to do this eventing thing. It's the first big step towards a big dream and it's giving me butterflies in my stomach...


Sunday, September 13, 2009

I da HO horse camping

Me riding Roxie!

Because Serena let us borrow her truck. Which involved me driving to Coeur d'Alene Idaho to pick it up at her barn. When I got there guess who was just getting back from a trail ride? Serena and Roxie of course. While riding Roxie I got to try out Serena's jumping saddle which I heart.

Serena and Roxie getting back from their trail ride.

It occurred to me while looking through the pictures that there are none of Jasper due to the fact that I was the one with the camera. Which wasn't the best planning on our parts as he doesn't stand still. Period. So here's a picture of him the day before we left.

And here's one of his shadow.

We (Anke, Karlin, and I... plus Hershey, Porsche, and Jasper) got to the park around 2:00 with the ranch trailer and horses pulled by Serena's truck, set up camp, and hit the trails. Jasper was fidgity and on "super alert" mode. Having said that, he didn't jig or spook- just went into tense power walking mode and pretty much stayed there the rest of the trip. He led most of the ride, and we got a nice looooooong trot session in and some nice cantering as well. He's actually happier and more relaxed trotting and especially cantering, his perferred mode of transport.

After a while Pam called and said that she and her horse Bronnze had arrived. We circled back to camp, picked them up, and did another small loop right before dark.

That evening Serena came to pick up her truck so she and Roxie could join us the following morning. That night Hershey escaped his pen TWICE. We don't know how other than his pen didn't have a real gate so we tied ropes across the doorway. Which were all still tied in place after he escaped. They were too high for him to go over and too low for him to go under. How he got through we'll never know.

We had a group of 5 the following morning.

Pam and Bronnze. Serena (doing "Black Stallion") and Roxie. Serena actually held onto her reins for maybe 5 minutes of the ride.

Roxie gets a cookie. I think. Because Serena's leg was still there after this picture was taken.

After we returned and had lunch Serena got called to go to her new second job as a bartender. The rest of us napped. We get pretty wild.

Karlin read 2 sentences in her book.
The second ride that evening was probably Jasper's most relaxed time. He put his head down and didn't have to be half-halted every 8 steps to keep him from getting too close to to the horse in front of him. I love riding when the sun is going down, it's my favorite time to be on a horse. Something about the calmness and the light and the long shadows.

This morning we packed up camp and went out for one last ride.

Pam, Karlin, and Anke in front of the Friendship Poles built by the Boy Scouts during the 1973 Jamboree.

This was also a good ride for Jasper. He had a few moments of being relaxed and instead of frantically power walking and trying to pass everyone, he chilled out and wandered off the trail and into the woods. Which is normal behavior for him at home.

On our way backto camp there was a big field with trees widely spaced on the far end. I couldn't resist and Jasper and I cantered/galloped around the field and in and out of the trees. He was quite responsive and it was a blast. I had my first taste of what "Coffin canter" feels like. After walking and trotting over a ditch by the field, I decided to canter towards it and see what happened. He got very, very light (he KNEW that ditch was coming up) and it felt like his butt dropped 6 inches and his shoulders came up 6 inches. He ended up breaking into a trot a couple of strides out but jumped it without hesitation. Gooooooooood boy!

When we stopped all of our galloping silliness, Pam and Bronnze went for a spin. Did I mention I had the camera? I probably didn't mention that about half of the pictures are very blurry due to Jasper's inability to stand still for a nanosecond. He was finally able to stand becaue he just had a big gallop and Porsche was right next to him so he had something (one) to annoy and play with. Some clear pictures, the last ones of the trip:

Woo hoo. Now home with a pile of camping junk on the floor and needing to take a shower, but really too tired to take a shower.

Thank you thank you thank you Serena for trusting me your truck. And thank you in advance as I use it again next weekend for my jumping/eventing clinics and show down in Kennewick at Tulip Springs!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Porsche does the Trot Pole division.

It was cool and rainy this morning when I got to the ranch to take Porsche and Karlin to the Hunter/Jumper show. Jasper was going nuts- bolting back and forth in his pen, sliding stops and rearing, kicking out, being a very, very energetic Thoroughbred. He's definitely feeling good and the abscess is starting to drain. Eeyuck.

This was technically Porsche's second show as this spring a gal took her in a walk-trot western pleasure class at the Fairgrounds. This was her fifth time off-ranch, she's 5-years-old, and greenbroke. Karlin broke her last October and has been working with her ever since with the goal of her becoming a ranch horse for the boys to ride. Karlin is moving to California later on in the month so we're trying to introduce as many new things to Porsche as we can before she leaves.

After dealing with Jasper's ehm... high energy... on outings, this little mare was AMAZING to work with. Thank god for Quarter Horse brains. She stood at the trailer as we groomed and tacked her up. She was on high alert for sure, neck braced and ears pinned forward, but did her usual nice and easy walk/trot/canter in the warm up. There were a lot of horses there, lots of trailers coming in and out, lots of commotion. Since everyone goes into the arena one at a time to do their course, there is a big blob of horses waiting around at the in gate. She just stood there quietly and took everything in.

Our golden girl had never seen a course of jumps, and the trot poles were actually 2 poles on the bottom with another pole on top- a little more substantial than just a pole on the ground. She went around like she'd done it her whole life, the second class was even better than the first, and in her flat class she didn't mind all the other horses in the arena and sometimes in her space. In the line-up at the end the horse next to her was weaving and sidepassing and came very close to bumping in to her but she held her ground and stood quietly.

The 2 boys that came with us took about 200 pictures (for real) and video, and cheered wildly when she got a 5th place ribbon.

Porsche girl is going to be an outstanding horse for our program thanks to the hundreds and hundreds of volunteer hours Karlin has put into her. We will all miss Karlin greatly, and I will miss my morning riding partner. Good luck in California!

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I got to the ranch this morning and was excited to ride, I wore breeches so I could practice wearing my tall boots for the show. I almost always ride in jeans and half chaps these days and when I put tall boots on they feel slippery for a while. Yesterday I went to the mall (ugh) and bought 2 new polos- one in black for the show and one in burgundy because it matches my saddle pad. Yesterday I had 2 fences set up- a crossbar and a 2' jump with cones under it. He trotted in to each easily and cantered away. He cantered into both as well- the timing wasn't always right but he didn't hesitate. Today I was going to set up a small combination to see what happened. My mom agreed to come to the show and bring her video camera so I could get his rounds on tape.

I could tell something wasn't quite right as I approached him. His jaw looked funny, and as I got closer I could tell that it was quite swollen. The area between his jaw bones is swollen, mostly on the right side. I thought he might have gotten kicked under there. The vet came out and did an ultrasound. He found multiple pockets of fluid, but not clear fluid, which probably means puss. It's right where a lot of lymph nodes are and the thinks he has abcesses, probably from eating something and it poking down under his tongue.

It's not too tender to the touch. He's eating and drinking andwalking around behaving in his normal horsey way, doesn't have a temperature, and there's no nasal discharge. The swollen area is pretty hard, though, and looks like it might be around for a while. He's going to get hot compresses twice a day to see if we can get the abcesses to open up and drain. Poor guy.

Aaagh so no riding him in this beautiful, beautiful weather we're having. No show. I got a vet certificate so I should get my money back minus an office fee. I was just... SO looking forward to it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bad, baaaaaaad jumping poneh

The gate.

I work with horses and kids together. Teenage boys, to be exact. I am protective of the horses, but I am also protective of the boys. Some horsey behaviors, like kicking and biting (or threatening to kick or bite) have a ZERO tolerance policy. I take advantage of my 3 second time limit to punish such behaviors and NAIL them for it. They usually never try it again.

Yesterday Jasper was brought into a pen to have his evening bucket of mush. His mush consists of LMF Prime Time, Rice Bran, Flax, a probiotic, and Biotin. When he was done I opened the gate and told the boy who was feeding with me to shoo him out. Jasper pinned his ears and casually kicked at him. Oh no. Wrong answer. I slammed the gate shut and smacked him a couple of times with a longe whip.

He jumped out of the pen. Over the uphill skinny 4'7 gate practically from a standstill. He whacked his fronts pretty hard, and did this incredible twisting and contorting thing with his body and hind end to get over it. He didn't touch it except with his fronts.

There were some moments of shocked silence after he did it. Kind of like even though we saw him do this with our own eyes it really wasn't possible. Silence was followed by "OH..." (and then some other words).

Jasper landed on the other side, happily cantered over to the hay feeder, and began munching down.

He is fine today. No swelling anywhere, no bowed tendons, no nothing as far as I can tell. He let me catch him and we had a great ride in the arena.

Tonight when asked to leave the pen he did so nicely.