Monday, December 13, 2010

Photo Art

The final project for my Visual Communication & Design class was to create an 8 page booklet with a corresponding poster about an event that was important to us. Guess what I did? Besides taking the instructions literally? The photos (except the last one of Jasper rolling) are from the event at Aspen Farms this spring. The poster is the last photo, it's pretty big in real life. You can click on the pictures to make them bigger.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Theme song?

So I was driving down the road yesterday listening to a remake of the song "Lollipop" and it became overwhelmingly obvious that this is Jasper's theme song. Not because of the lyrics but because it's simple, straightforward, and silly. And cute. I am learning to really appreciate these traits.

What would your horse's theme song be?


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rockin with Roxie

Saturday morning I took pictures of Serena and Roxie jumping at a show. Roxie was a gooooooood guuuuuuurl. Then she came to Jasper's barn to go for a ride. Check out pix of the day here on Roxie's blog. Yes, she really is that big. (The horse, not the girl).

After a month off, Jasper was... BOING.

You know that riding-a-powder-keg feeling? I decided we'd better burn off some steam in the arena before we hit the trail.

hello? brains?


Jasper & Roxie. All 8 feet not moving. Push the button fast! This feat was not difficult for Roxie. Jasper's tail is caught in mid-swish and head in mid-bob. But, all 4 feet still so WIN.

The barn manager and the barn owner's daughter were busy setting up a trail course. It included a horse-eating mattress, a horse-eating tarp, and horse-eating streamers. When you jumped the tarp and cleared it with miles to spare (because there is no way in HELL you're putting your little feet on a TARP, even though you've had tarp training up the ying yang after breaking your owner's finger over a TARP), you stop instantly upon landing for fear of getting too near the long flapping streamers. Oof says rider.

The streamers are alive.

They reach out and try to grab yer face.

They try to wrap their tendrils around you.

They shock yer nose with the power of a thousand suns.

After you have firmly made your point about how completely deadly they are it's best if you close your eyes and hold your breath and just go.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Riding in South Africa

It's been a while since I've posted anything about riding around the world... since last winter? I think I left off in Thailand which means South Africa is next. Why would I be writing about stuff in the past when the weather is PERFECT for outdoor adventures and we were supposed to be competing in our second recognized horse trials this weekend? Jasper cut his leg, then I got a "touch" of pneumonia so I've basically been in bed for the past 2 weeks somewhere in between going stir crazy and being in the lethargic drug induced state of not caring. I'm on day 2 of antibiotics so things should be looking up soon.

While living in Thailand my (then) boyfriend was a professional photographer and got an assignment in South Africa. I met him in Cape Town for a week or so before his assignment. This is Tower Mountain. You took a very long, very steep gondola ride to the top and then had unbelievable views.
Tower Mountain, Cape Town at the bottom.

When we got to the top, there were people actually rapelling off the side- the longest rappel in the world. The ropes went so far down the mountain you couldn't even see the people at the bottom. In the pic above if you look carefully you can see someone on their way down.

Of course I had to go, and Gordon being a good sport came along too. Here he is on the way down. It felt to me like we must have rappelled at least half way down the mountain. That was a huge error in judgement. When the rest of our group walked back to where the gondola picked them up, I told Gordon we should hike down the rest of the way.

Gordon, being a good sport, agreed after pointing out that there were no trails and the mountain was really steep. The guides could have cared less since it isn't America and they're not used to being sued. So we started off, clamboring over and around huge boulders and sliding down rocks. It was pretty fun for the first hour or so. After the third hour, it didn't look like we were any closer to the bottom than when we started. By the end of the descent all the muscles in my quads were a shivering mass of jelly and I could hardly walk for days.

What did I want to see (besides Cape Town) while in South Africa? Elephants. African ones. At the time I was completely and totally enamored with elephants (still am) and found a wild elephant reserve that we could get to in a couple of days by driving down the coastline. This was a great plan until I was sitting in the passenger's side of a rental car with the steering wheel in front of me. To make matters worse it was a stick- how exactly does one use their left hand to shift? And you have to WAIT to turn right? I got a little nervous and told Gordon he should drive first, being from Scotland, where they all drive on the wrong side of the road. Gordon informed me that he was from Edinburgh- a big city. You don't need to learn how to drive in a city, you take public transport.

Between the two of us, Gordon learning about gas and brake and me helping him shift and me learning to keep from driving into oncoming traffic, we made it to the reserve. People are very nice drivers in S. Africa and very forgiving. And what kept us from seeing wild African elephants for the first time? Horses, of course. Right next to the entrance to the reserve were horses for hire. Gordon didn't say a thing and pulled into the stable. Gordon doesn't ride horses, never has, and man did he get the ride of a lifetime.

It was just the 3 of us, me, Gordon, and the guide. The guide figured out I could ride and that Gordon was a good sport (a recurring theme here) and could hang on. We did a 3 hour ride in less than an hour and a half, walking, trotting, and galloping down the flat parts. The guide and I were both thrilled with how fast we had gone and Gordon was... stoic.

Gordon patting his horse and thanking him for getting it over with quickly.

Me happy that my addiction had been filled for a short time.

The next day we drove to the park and actually went in. We paid our entrance fee and got maps. You basically drove your car around on the dirt roads and looked for elephants. There were no guarantees you would see anything and a lot of the roads were closed due to water damage. We only had one chance since we'd spent the previous day riding and needed to head back to Cape Town the following day. We spent the day driving around, taking in the scenery, but no elephants. The sun was starting to go down, and although I was a little heartbroken was plotting a way back to the entrance when Gordon slammed on the brakes. There before us was this:
HUGE. Huge is really the only word that doesn't even begin to describe this creature. She was coming out of the bushes and onto the road and Gordon backed the car up so fast you couldn't tell he was a new driver. We sat there, mesmerized, and watched her watch us. Then more started to appear. One had a baby. She stopped in the middle of the road, looked at us, and started flapping her ears and making noise. I have never seen a grown man look so terrified. Or swear so loudly. "WHAT DO WE DO?" I told him to turn off the car, turn off the car, turn off the car it's making too much noise she doesn't like the noise but then how do we get out of here?

He turned off the car. It was a car very similar to my parent's old Volkswagen Rabbit, and the minute he turned off the motor the engine fan came on wheezing and whirling away. Again more swearing. By this time we were surrounded by about 10 elephants on all sides and more were appearing. I think at some point Gordon reached over and pushed the lock down on my door, which I found to be extremely funny but was too afraid of making noise to say anything or laugh. The standoff probably only lasted 5 minutes but felt like hours, and just as silently as they came they left back into the bushes.

I think the next country is Spain...

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Pretty Pony

It's been a while! I can't get enough riding in the fall, winter, and spring. And then summer hits and it gets hot. And dry. And dusty. And all I want to do is be at the lake cabin.

A doctor told me recently that people with low blood pressure have trouble handling both heat and cold. That certainly explains a lot. And that we should eat lots of salt. Which I already was doing, I pretty much douse everything with salt. So the cabin is a haven from the heat of the city and is pretty much where I want to be when the temps. get over 80*.

Plus we had our annual family/friends week-long reunion the first week of August. And I've been taking an online computer graphics class that took about 20-30 hours a week to complete. Just finished that up Wed. (phew), so Jasper has had some time off.

I decided last weekend that I would move him from his stall with giant run down to the big field so he could run and play with the other horses and eat grass while I finished up my last big project.

I got a call from the barn owner yesterday morning. She was concerned because all the horses have been really mean to him and chase him away from the herd so he has to stand 200 yards away from everybody. Apparently when they go to get water Alexandre chases him halfway down the chute. I went out and he has chunks of hide missing. His right hind leg has a huge gash and is swollen from hock to hoof. I really believe in letting horses live as naturally as possible but this is ridiculous. He may just be too submissive to be in a herd situation. So he's back in his stall with run attached and is getting cold hosed every day. If his leg hasn't improved by Monday I'll call the vet. Of course I sent my entry in for the Stanton Farm Horse Trials (Sept. 11-12) the day before.

On another note I see Alexandre almost every time I go to the barn, the (extended) family that's leasing him loves him and takes him out on the trails almost every day. Sometimes twice a day. He seems happy and gets lots of cookies. There was a little girl out there yesterday riding him. Her mom said that there are tears if she doesn't get to ride Alexandre. After she got off he got a bath, groomed, and his long mane brushed out. You could tell she LOOOOOOOOOVED him, you know, that young girl infatuation for a horse that we all had when we were 12. It kind of brought up a few tears. Happy tears.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Stanton Farms Jumping Derby

Three jumping rounds- one jumpers, one cross country, and one stadium. No refusals, no poles down. A hugely successful day for the baby horse!

Instead of a dressage test, there was a jumpers round to start. In order for everyone to get ranked, whoever went the fastest set optimum time regardless of faults. Everyone else got time faults- every second over optimum time counted as a fault. Of course it would have been completely unfair of me to ask Jasper for speed and tight turns, so I rode it as a hunter course, used the whole arena, and tried to give him as long of an approach as I could to each fence. Sometimes it wasn't much as the course was curvy and there were some tight lines... but he got himself over everything often with room to spare. We had tons of time faults. Some of the jumps were completely covered with flowers which was new.

Round 1- Jumpers

The second phase was cross country. It was a nice course, inviting, and there was a very small bank, water, and a big deep dark ditch. I think Jasper realized it was a ditch after his front feet had already left the ground and it scared him. It was kind of like a cork coming out of a champagne bottle. The rest of the course rode really well, there were some some spooky things and he chose to trot into some of the fences but didn't suck back or act like he was going to refuse. It's almost like he just wanted more time to get a better look at things.

Cross Country

The last phase was a stadium round based on the rules for eventing. This round felt way better than the first.


And Roxie was there for her first jumping show! Jasper recognized her from when we went to take a lesson with Betty last week. It was love at second sight and he had small fits of bucking and kicking in place when she left him. Which meant he stayed tied to the trailer longer than normal on multiple occasions. Hopefully her mom will post her videos because she was SUPER CUTE.

My parents and niece came to watch, my dad has become quite the videographer and took all the videos. We got a picture taken at the end of the show:


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hopeful Pics & Stanton Farms Derby this weekend...

A few pics from the Hopeful HT...

He looks so shiny! And you can't see the giant bald spots and teeth marks all over his butt from when I tried to turn him out in the big field with all the other horses for a couple of days.

Serena and I are heading down to the Stanton Farm Derby this weekend. No dressage, all jumping. I'm not exactly how it all works, but the first round is a jumping round based on time and faults. I think there is a jump off if you go clean. Then a cross country round, then a stadium round based on the rules for eventing.

Jasper's had quite a bit of time off in the last couple of weeks. I plan on riding the stadium like hunter rounds (well, if you've seen us go maybe not hunter rounds exactly... but using the whole arena, hopefully a nice steady pace, and giving him a good approach to everything).

On another note, I had a jumping lesson with Betty Hirst last week. I started riding lessons with her when I was in the 3rd grade. I rode with her (on her lesson horses and then on my horse Mindy) through high school and hadn't been back in 15 years. It was crazy how much things were the same, so many memories from that place. Jasper was great and did his first bounces. She commented that he's pretty brave, apparently he didn't look at one of the jumps that a lot of other horses do.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Aspen Horse Trials XC & Stadium Videos

The video arrived from Aspen today, yay! Both rides look about like they felt- XC was sketchy at first and then smoothed out. Awesomely smoothed out. Stadium started out sketchy and stayed that way. Ugh. Those fences look huge to me even in the video. He doesn't seem to have trouble with the actual height, but man they were intimidating and you can tell by how he leaps over everything. I think it proves how much heart he has! What a good boy. I do have a tiny bit of guilt, I think he was overfaced and maybe I should have pulled out. If I had, though, we wouldn't have gotten a chance to go XC as the stadium round was first... I don't think he was scarred too much as we had a pretty decent stadium round two weeks later at the Hopeful trials.


Cross Country

Videos by Moving Images NW

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hopeful Horse Trials for the WIN!

Hopeful Horse Trials put on by the Palouse Hills Pony Club (unrecoginzed)
June 25, 2010
Sat: BN Test A, XC, then Stadium

We pulled into the show grounds Friday evening after having a stressful 3+ hour trip due to truck problems. I was a nervous wreck and was ready for Jasper to be stressed out. I unloaded him from the trailer, he looked around, and started grazing. He wasn't exactly "ho hum," but was very chill in comparison to past trips. Found his corral, walked the XC course 2 times because I got lost the first time, and got a quick ride in as it was getting dark. Set up camp in the back of the trailer with a flashlight and Saturday morning came early.

My parents drove down to watch, it was great to have them there and neat that they got to see all 3 phases in one day.

Our dressage test was at 9am, had plenty of time to warm up and he seemed good. Spooked at the brick jumps set outside the dressage arena (this comes around again later in the day), spooked when he kicked up sand that hit the white vinyl arena markers and made a scary noise, and didn't pick up the left lead canter until about half way around the circle. I'm still not sure what happened there, he seemed forward and in front of my leg. He just wouldn't canter. I now wonder if he wanted to pick up the right lead instead and realized it was wrong, and then couldn't get his feet situated. My dad started video taping right after all this had happened, so here's the good half:

We got a 27. A 27! That's a 73% in regular dressage. It also confirmed that our score at Aspen wasn't a fluke. She didn't mark us down for any of the spooking and we got a 5 on the canter transition.

So THAT was fun, and we were leading. XC was next, and due to the torrential amounts of rain the TD decided to take one of the jumps out that was in the middle of a muddy bog. I was glad, I know it's cross country, but still. They also took the water complex out because the water level was too high for regulation levels. I was glad about that too, it was muddy and boggy all around the water and there was not a straight shot for BN. The course was really fun, mostly a single track trail up and down hills through the woods. Most of the jumps were inviting logs, with the bigger questions strategically placed in the warm up arena and the dressage arena where the footing was good. It was a great confidence builder for both of us. It was cute, I could tell when he saw the next jump- his head would go up, ears forward, and a hint of hesitancy. Then he'd just roll into it. They didn't time any of the XC due to the muddy footing in areas, and we were clean and still in the lead.

Showjumping was a twisty course that included our last XC fence. The jumps were not crazy maxed out like they were at Aspen, it seemed to be a 'normal' 2'6 course. He was great. Took quite a few long and I grabbed mane often, but overall was really great. You'll see him spook at the brick fence when we were supposed to be turning for the line down the diagonal and trot, I was yelling, "no, that one- THAT one dummy!" he saw it at the last minute and jumped it from a trot. It was his first time jumping flowers, there was a rainbow jump combination with lots of flowers, he took a GOOD look at that one!

When the announcer announced "Clear, no time penalties" it took a moment to realize we had just won! Woot!

Dad and Mom as support crew. Dad holding our new leather halter. Jasper expressing what he thinks about standing still for photos.

And then, get this- they give out an award at this show for the overall lowest score. We won! We got a blanket!

Jasper sporting his new halter and blanket, I think he looks good in periwinkle.

Anyway, if you're near the area, (Deary, Idaho) I highly recommend this event. It's very well organized, the people are friendly and accommodating, the footing in the arenas is excellent, and the XC courses are inviting and confidence building with some good questions built in.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gearing up

for the Palouse Hills Pony Club's event derby this weekend. It's about 2 hours south, and the BN division does all 3 phases on Saturday. I suppose we're ready, since we've been home I haven't gotten much riding in due to the footing. Eternal spring in the Northwest has been dumping rain and turns the arena into wet slippery goo. I actually just found out about this event and mailed my registration in at the last minute, it will be good miles for us. We're driving down Friday and staying the night, hopefully Jasper will eat. (Please eat buddy, it's good for you!)

Opportunities like this are few and far between on the dry side of the state. There's another event derby in July in the same area, (Serena and Roxie might come with us... woo hoo!) and then Stanton Farm's recognized event in September. Rumor is there might be a few XC schooling opportunities out at Deep Creek this summer as well with Karen O'Neal.

Jasper seems quite happy and content to be home and settled in quickly. He has a new next door neighbor that's young and spooky so they spend a lot of time running up and down the fence line pretending to be scared. Actually, I'm amazed at how much he's grown up. Not too long ago, if he was tied up at the hitching post and another horse was in the arena he would have mulitple meltdowns from the stimulus. To the point of bucking in place. Yesterday he was tied up and a horse in the arena was being lunged over a big blue tarp and bubble wrap (yes, bubble wrap). He couldn't have cared less and turned his butt to it. Now, this gal said that when he's loose in his paddock (that shared a fence line with the arena) and she moves the tarp around he gallops around in a frenzy. I now believe it's because it's fun and not so much because he's really afraid anymore.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Aspen Farm Horse Trials 2010

Aspen Farm Horse Trials, Yelm WA
Recognized by the United States Eventing Association
Area VII
Division: Beginner Novice
Participants in division: 20
Friday: Dressage, BN Test A
Saturday: Stadium Jumping
Sunday: Cross Country

Jasper: Just turned 5.

Jasper's first recognized event. Really, his first event period. Mine too.

All photos courtesy of Action Taken Photography

I felt the dressage test went pretty well. It's a very simple test. I completely forgot where I was and what was next on three separate occasions, bent out in a corner when I was supposed to be circling, had some pretty speedy transitions because man, those letters come up FAST in a small arena! He felt pretty good, I think I was too nervous to even really notice. He didn't argue and was fun to ride because he was excited and "on his toes" but still paying attention.

After our test I loaded him up in the trailer and took him back to the house. A while later Terri calls and the first thing she says is congratulations. "For what?" I ask. "For winning!" she says. "Yeah, right. We totally blew a bunch of stuff." Silence. "What... are we in last?" "I'm looking online at the scoreboard and you won! With a score of 29.5!" More silence. "I don't think that's possible..."

29.5 is 70.5 in "real" dressage. In 3 Day Eventing, the lowest score wins. So, for instance, for every rail you knock down in stadium jumping you get 4 points added to your dressage score. For every refusal on the cross country course you get 20 points added to your score.

The stadium was BIG. I went to the arena to walk my course in the morning and asked where the BN course was set up. "This is it" she says. "The fences are HUGE! And there's huge combination (I swear it was a one stride) and a bending 3 stride line!" "Well," she says, "you can trot it..." One of the trainers there said that if I could get my horse through this course I could get him through a Novice level course.

As they were calling my number to be on deck, Jessica asked where my medical armband was. Uh... for stadium? She's a good sprinter. They had one at the Gallop's saddlery booth.

Grab mane and hold on. It was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

The first jump on course. He... cleared it.
My stirrups felt really, really short but in these pictures they look too long.

Yep, cleared this one too, think? It was problematic, because he also landed galloping. So it really shortened up the distances between the fences- the fact that he landed way beyond the landing area and was already galloping, but not necessarily balanced or ready for the next jump that came rushing toward us at a thousand miles per hour.

You don't have to have good form if you just overjump everything.

Look at how hard he's trying. He thought some of these were really scary. Plus the fact he really hasn't had much experience with oxers. Thre were a freaking lot of oxers.

The combination. It was a sea of blue and white rails. I swear it was only a one stride. I'll be able to tell once I get the video. He was very surprised there was another jump so close and on landing over this one veered right to go around it. I pulled him left which resulted in:

"Skyrockets in flight..."

And a discombobulated landing.

The last fence. Whew. Through all of that we only had one rail down. I was pretty pleased after all of the adrenaline wore off. There were only 6 clear rounds out of 20.

Cross country was just such an unknown. He hadn't seen anything like some of the fences on course, I had no idea what he was going to do. We had a refusal at the second fence, (the first "real" fence on course) I believe he was just too overwhelmed by his surroundings. We had just galloped through a path in the woods that opened up to a big field, there was a big dark scary jump next to ours, and at the last minute he noticed the jump judge.

He took it the second time just fine, took the 3rd OKish, took the 4th pretty well, then found his stride. I found myself pulled to the rest of the jumps. I tried trotting into some of the really scary ones so he could get a good look at them, and he would pick up the canter on his own. I think he started to have fun about half way around, it's always fun to gallop.

(If you don't see your distance you just close your eyes)

I checked online when I got back to the house and it looked like we dropped to 13th after the refusal on course. Then Terri called. "You got 8th!" "No, I got 13th." "No, they did the scores wrong, I'm looking at it right now and you got 8th! Get back over there and go get your ribbon!" Needless to say, I got back over there pretty quick and now have a giant brown ribbon to show for it. And a gift certificate to a tack store that I already used to get a white all-purpose pad and a pair of socks.

I couldn't be more pleased. Not only did we complete all 3 phases without getting disqualified (my goal), but I have an official event horse. Plus (and this is kind of a big plus) he didn't scream the whole time we were there. He was relaxed enough to GRAZE. He did do some landscaping when tied to the trailer, but who needs nice grass when you can have churned up sod chunks, rocks, and dirt. He didn't pull back while tied to the trailer, the halter and lead rope are still in one piece. We've come a long way, baby! Should have the video of the stadium and xc in a couple of weeks.

On Tuesday we came home, and next weekend we're going to a one-day horse trials put on by a pony club. On July 17th there's a combined test/derby I think we'll go to, then one last recognized horse trails in September down in Idaho. I think a lot of trail riding will be had from here on out! Oh, and I'm making jumps. Going to set up some grids, see if we can figure out how to jump. :)