Our division loot- a new startlingly white saddle pad embroidered
with the Post Falls Equestrian Center's logo.
It was a gorgeous Fall day here in the Pacific Northwest. Mid 70's and sunny, with a hint of dust. A LOT of dust. We need some rain. I really did bathe Jasper yesterday, with shampoo even, but it was too warm to put a sheet on so I just had to turn him back out in his paddock with a gallon of show sheen. I'm not willing to deal with the consequences of keeping him in a stall overnight. Anyway, scraped the chunks off and sponge bath this morning and we hit the road.
I thought I had given myself plenty of time based on the spring show, but when I pulled up the parking lot was pretty bare. They were running hours ahead of time. We had just enough time for a quick lunge and warm up in the indoor arena before our first class, 2'6-2'9 Hunters.
You know, I think that someday Jasper could be a good Hunter. He needs his flying changes, and needs to be more consistent. If someone was riding him that really knew what they were doing I think he could be a Hunter star. I am not that person, but he put in two really nice rounds. We *did* completely annihilate a fence because he didn't want to pick up his right lead (a common thread today, I think something's going on?) and hit the fence with complete awkwardness. Having said that, he still tried to jump it even when it was a lost cause. He didn't stop. Love him for that.
Jumpers B- last and favorite class of the day.
I signed up for the 2'6-2'9 Jumpers for more practice at that height. Plus, leads don't count and you can leap over those fences from wherever you want without penalty. :) Yes, I KNOW you aren't supposed to ride jumper courses like hunters and use the whole arena, but these were confidence building classes. We had two great, clean rounds. The second course had some loop-de-loos (technical term) and was super fun to ride.
WE WON. HA!
Much much thanks to Pam for taking video and photos.
Jasper got trailered out to a friend's house this weekend for some trail riding out on state land. He was kind of a nutcase. Actually he was doing OK until he saw her pig. The pig is large and tame and walks around the property at will. Jasper seemed to think it was a dog at first and marched up and took a good sniff. Then the pig snorted. Jasper teleported about 10 feet away and spent the rest of the weekend freaking out about the pig if he could see it, and freaking out about the possibility of the pig if he could not. The pig couldn't have cared less about Jasper and didn't mind if he was dancing around the trailer in a sweat with white rings around his eyes.
Jasper's two equine companions were a couple of nice mares, a bay 5-year-old Thoroughbred and a black Friesian/Appy/TB/QH cross. Ember the TB LOOOOOVED Jasper. As in, well, we won't use the "whore" word. To the point where she would refuse to lead on the rides because she was too preoccupied looking back at him. Jasper was pretty oblivious to her seductions and just wanted to go faster. Situation normal.
We went on a loooong trail ride on Saturday at speed. Mostly trotting and cantering. It was fantastically fun. I swear that horse does not get tired. Ever. Most impressive was my friend's boyfriend who just started riding a couple of months ago and kept up like a champ. He can post the trot and everything.
Everyone seemed to get along so well we just threw Jasper in the pasture with the two mares last night. Amazingly, they all got along famously. He didn't have a single bite mark on him, and he didn't foolishly try to dominate either one. They got to hang out most of the day today while we went rock climbing, then we for a short ride through the park this evening. He absolutely refused to get in the trailer tonight. He just kept looking longingly into the pasture.
Ember going so fast she's blurry. Or I'm taking a pic on a moving horse.
Which never seems to work out well.
The 5.9 rider
Jasper's first friend that didn't bite him.
I'm thinking about going to a little H/J show next Sunday in Post Falls, ID. We did their spring show and it was fun. Haven't really jumped in over 3 weeks. Or more? More I think. Have to get on that tomorrow.
In 2009 I took Jasper horse camping at Farragut (this would have been about 3 months after I brought him home from the track). This was pretty much his tightly-bundled-ball-of-nerves expression the whole time:
Three years under our belt and this year went much better. He chilled out at the trailer, walked (ok, power walked but still...) happily down the trails, and was calmer and more confident in general. When the other horses trotted up behind him he didn't tense up, go sideways, or take off. Was willing to trot slooooooooowly so the horses behind could keep up. In this picture he is standing still, which is usually something worth taking a picture of, but was more the norm this trip.
Note lack of white ring around eye. He's pretty skinny from 3 weeks of living in a group pasture at the Ranch where I work. Where he was very bad. Back home now snarfing up the calories.
The ground is really rocky so the pens are made out of trees in an A-frame formation.
The trails at Farragut seem to go forever and vary from single track through some pretty dense woods to double track out in big open fields. This is the path on the way back to camp. You had to go between a giant horse eating rock and a tree, but heading home has its incentives.
I feel we were a little overfaced and a little under prepared.
Dressage went really well. We had great luck in the timing of our ride- the judge took a lunch break and let the next 2 horses come up and school in the main arena, so we trotted up and down and up and down the outside of the plastic dressage arena and got used to the sand hitting it and the scary pylons. He put in a very nice test and we were in first place with a 30.8.
All photos by Gerald Morse.
Some of the xc jumps looked HUGE! This one had big rocks in front of it, so you had to choose to jump the rocks and the log or try to maneuver exactly between the rocks to get in a little bit closer. I chose to go between the rocks and it worked out well.
There was a long, steep downhill to the water pond. In Novice you had to jump over a small log into it, and I was not sure that was going to be a positive experience. I chose to bypass our jump, run through the water (which he balked at heavily but did hesitantly go in), out the other side, run back through, and then try the jump. It worked brilliantly in that he had no problem jumping the log, but we picked up huge amounts of time faults. Enough to take us from first to last. I'm still completely happy with my plan, though. I'd much, much rather have time faults than refusals and end up with a happy, confident horse.
The other jump we had trouble on was a vertical log jump, then 2 strides to another one. He's never seen such a short combo on XC and tried to dive out of the second one. A strong left rein and he went over it, but hit it so hard with his hoof it left permanent marks. Zoiks.
I was most intimidated by the showjumping phase, and SERIOUSLY got jumped out of the tack 3 or 4 times. It felt like he was trying to jump the moon. I decided that he was probably jumping so hard because he was nervous, which is what makes me think we just weren't quite ready for this height.
This is my new favorite picture. I got an 8x10 and am going to frame it and hang it on the wall. My horse jumped clean in both XC and stadium, and tried his heart out. What more can you ask for?
OK, so my intention was to walk the cross country course and take pics of all the jumps. Apparently I got caught up in the moment because even though I walked it THREE times I didn't get pictures of all of them. Including #1.
First Novice course ever:
#1: Uphill to a big ramp. Not pictured.
Uphill to #2: Inviting Triple Bar
Around a sharp corner to #3: Brushy Vertical
Down a steep hill to #4: Deary Ditch
Up a hill to the GIGANTIC #5: Sneeky Slats
Gradual uphill to scary #6: Rock Wall
Down down down a hill and around a corner to #7: Picnic Table
Another pic of #7 because it's the biggest thing we've jumped. Ever.
Land downhill and take a sharp left to get through #8: Compulsory Passage
Up a big hill then (you can't tell from the pic) down a long steep hill to the log into the water. I didn't get a close up shot because I was too worried about it to take one.
Through the water, then a sharp left to #10: Log
#11 was a big coop set up in the warm up arena.
#12 Betty's Bank Up
#13 was a down bank into the main arena.
#14 A and B were two log verticals two strides apart.
I was worried about these and it turns out for good reason.
#15 was a rail road tie jump
#16 was a nice big ramp of logs that we hit perfectly in stride to end the course.
More to come when I get some pics and video of the showjumping round. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride...
I went straight from work to the barn on Friday, soon to be picked up my friend Morgan and her huge fancy trailer. Huge as in she almost wasn't able to get turned around, thank god for goosenecks. We were headed to the Fran O'Reilly clinic at 100 Acre Wood Farm in Princeton, Idaho.
The further south you go in Idaho, the more rural it gets. After two hours you're in the middle of NOWHERE. I was seriously wondering who in their right mind would choose to live out there, I mean, why? The dirt road "driveway" was at least a couple of miles up a fairly good grade, and then we arrived. On the top of a mountain, on the top of the world. 360 degree views of mountains and forests. Beautiful sand dressage arena, rolling green hills with cross country jumps. A beautiful "off the grid" house insulated with straw bales, run by solar and wind power. Lunch on both days was a huge potluck in the kitchen. A bunkhouse (for free!) with a full bathroom.
The morning of day one was a group dressage lesson, a lot of what I learned in my last lesson with Jessica was reinforced. The afternoon was cross country, and everything went fantastic
until the giant 5 foot ditch. I wish I would have gotten a picture of it. He stopped but it wasn't dirty, he was just like "what the F*** is THAT?" Fran informed all of us that a horse's stride is 12 feet so they can practically canter over it. (This was after the two horses before us absolutely refused to get anywhere near it for what seemed like hours.) Jasper did not believe her and jumped the hell out of that nasty thing.
On day two we signed up for dressage tests. We could ride any test we wanted any amount of times, and she judged them and we got the sheets back to look over before we tried again. I rode BN A twice and Novice B twice. Our scores basically sucked.
In the afternoon (in the hurricane winds) we got to pick our our own XC course, ride it, get some instruction, and re-ride any parts we wanted to. I asked Fran if she thought we were ready for the bank, and she said sure, just walk up it and drop off. What I meant was did she think we were ready to jump up AND down, and she said sure but if you decide to do it then you have to do it. The side nearest the spectators was 2'6. The back side was an uphill approach (or a downhill drop) so and was quite a bit taller. We warmed up, trotted up the ramp to the bank, and he barely hesitated before dropping off. Picked up a canter and leaped up the back side of the bank. I was expecting a halt, or at least a walk, or some sort of hesitation, but he pretty much launched off the other side. I don't know what I was doing besides flying through the air with no contact with saddle or horse, but in the video you can hear me scream a little. And I don't think I got organized or got my reins back... ever.
THEN in order to teach me a lesson about staying organized and getting my reins back she made us jump something after the bank. The first one was hard but it was a long ways away so we had some time to get it together. Still jumped the second jump badly. Oh, I need to keep leg on before all the jumps? Even when I forget?
The last run we jumped up the short side of the bank and down the BIG drop, then had NO time before a giant black skinny ramp-tiger-trap-ish jump. She told me if I couldn't get my reins back to make a big "V", which is what I tried to do, and did it badly. Jasper, somehow, at the last minute decided we were close enough to jump it and did. It was the second time he bailed me out this weekend. The first time was another skinny tall wooden thing up a pretty good hill. I got him in at a horrible distance (you can hear me say "uh oh!" in the video) and he went anyway.
I don't usually anthropomorphize or put human feelings on animals, but I swear Jasper was pretty pleased with himself after the bank jumping. I can't explain it, you could just tell that he knew he did something pretty great.
The only photos I have are stills from the video, but there was a gal there taking pictures. She's going to make CDs for everyone, I can't wait to get them!
We have a dressage/jumping clinic with Fran O 'Riley down in Princeton, Idaho on Saturday and a derby on Sunday. Fun! We're getting a ride with a friend and are leaving tomorrow straight after work. Ugh. Which means I was at the barn until 8:30 bathing horse and packing up horse stuff, (tack (not CLEAN tack, mind you!), grooming equipment, hay, buckets, feed, boots, first aid, extra halters, extra lead ropes, etc etc etc.) went to the grocery store, and am now home at 10 starting to pack people stuff. Camping two nights, riding clothes, sleeping clothes, clothes in case it gets hot, camping type food, coolers, toiletries, sleeping bag, etc etc etc. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and do something completely non-productive. Like writing this blog. Oh, I need to remember to charge the video camera. I should go plug that in. Right now. Hmm. I'm tired. Maybe if I go to bed now I can get up really early and finish packing.
Jessica and Welsh Cob stallion Cardi showing Jasper the ocean was not going to kill him back in 2010.
Photo by Carolynn Bunch
In 2010, when Jasper was 4 turning 5, I did a working student stint with Jessica Wisdom. I had seen her teach in clinics in Spokane and totally clicked with the way she taught, but couldn't afford to ride with her. I wanted to get Jasper's formal training off to a good start with correct basics. She needed a groom to go down to California with her and then a working student for a couple of months at her barn in Yelm, WA. Life circumstances allowed me to do this, and in exchange I got about 5 lessons a week on Jasper.
Two months of dressage lessons paid off when we went to Aspen Farms and won the dressage phase at our first 3-Day-Event. Since then I haven't had a dressage lesson. Actually I can count the number of lessons I've had on one hand. I decided it was time to get with it again, so when she came to town last month I rode with her.
I will not bore you to with the 45 minute video of our ride as watching dressage is kind of like watching paint dry. Here are some of the highlights:
"Bring the whole forehand to the center as a unit when circling. C-shaped from nose to tail."
"Keep thinking shoulder fore"
"Don't let him splat..."
"I'm looking for a weapon (crop)"
"The left rein is not sacrilege, you can use it but then let it go."
"Even on the straight you need that slight bit of bend of shoulder fore to keep him balanced and onto your outside rein."
"...coiling his power and expanding that trot a little bit."
"He doesn't use as much freedom as he has in his body. He trots for a "6" when I think he could trot for a "7" or an "8" now."
"Working from compression to lengthening. Everything feels right right now, could I power this up a little bit?"
"You post BIGGER. You post like he is FANCIER. POST!"
"Ride him fancier! Tap, tap, tap..."
"When you feel like he's pulling on your left rein is when he's not moving off your left leg sufficiently and you feel you have to upright him with your left rein."
"Just say, I'm not holding you any more pal and you're shit on your own bud."
"...as long as he is not behind the bit. If the poll is a little bit low it's not the end of the world it's just a little bit like stretchy circle. If that gives him more freedom over his back, which it may, then use that. Then bring the poll up."
"Pressure him. Make him step three inches bigger."
"When you get to the show ring the poll should be the highest point. That being said, put his fricking poll down and show lengthening. So it's a little lower than ideal but if you show lengthening that's going to be better than the poll staying up and him running like a chicken."
"Teach him that like a party trick."
"He's not built for a super spectacular extended trot. To a certain extent you're going to have to manufacture the mechanic, and then it will become natural to him. And then sell it to me... yeah, he totally did this all on his own, it's totally natural to him."
When my alarm went off at 5am on Saturday it was cold, dark, and pouring rain. It was physically painful to get out of bed and head to the soggy barn to hook up the trailer. Added to the crappy weather was the knowledge that the day before I had had my worst ride on Jasper EVER. He decided he could not go from a halt to a walk and at one point reared straight up. Rearing is the one thing I will not put up with, and by the end of the ride we were both drenched in sweat and frazzled. I was accepting the fact that all trust gained between us might be lost and this competition might be a disaster.
Pulled into Deep Creek late, tacked up in a whirlwind while Jasper was still shaking from his trailer ride (he always unloads shaking), Serena got my number for me and we headed towards the dressage areas that were on the other side of the creek. Which he would not go near.
Finally someone noticed us and offered a lead which was gratefully accepted. I went to the wrong arena and was told they were waiting for me in the other one. It was just a warm up test, Intro B, in a sand arena (the sand arena was actually good- horses were slipping all over in the wet grass). He spooked at the letter pylons, the judge's stand, and jumped when the sand hit the white plastic fencing. At one point I actually half smiled and rolled my eyes when his whole body spasmed and jumped in place, and then kept trotting on. I'm wondering if that was what earned the comment "tactful" in the Rider's Position (keeping in balance with horse) section. Was informed by the judge afterwards that he was rooting which "is not the same thing as free walking." Gee, thanks. Good to know. 37.5.
An hour and a half later was our BN-A test. By this time the rain had let up and things (including us) were starting to dry out. Jasper was still tense and "hopping" into down transitions before we went in, but it was the same arena and the judge gave us a long time to trot around before she rang the starting bell. The test felt much better than the first one. It wasn't fantastic- he was unbalanced and throwing his head up in the transitions, wouldn't get off of my left leg, and was sucking back throughout the test eyeballing the evil pylons. He was much more relaxed though, which in my mind was a major score no matter what else happened. The video makes it look a lot better than it felt. I don't know why there's a green stripe across the top...
After a tack change we headed up the big hill to the XC course, got lost once, and arrived at the top in the crazy wind. The warm up area was within sight, and the first thing I saw was a horse spooking and bolting when a particularly strong gust made all the plastic flags marking the arena strain at the ends of their tethers and whip around.
Luckily the girl riding him got him back under control pretty quickly. I had flashbacks to 2009 when I brought Jasper here for the "Rock Hopper" (ground pole) division and it was not windy and he would NOT GO NEAR those horse eating flags.
Memories of 2009. My finger was broken in 2 places and I was wearing a splint.
I checked in and began trotting around the warm up and Jasper let out a huge sigh and started to relax. We went right by the flags, he was calm and responsive to the jumps, and even offered to stand still for a few seconds while Serena told me what the course was.
We went in for our warm-up round, I entered it mainly because I wanted to school the water. Decided just to trot everything unless he happened to land on the correct lead. I'm glad we entered it because the jumps were freshly painted and very, very bright... Jasper said whoa, those things are NOT supposed to be out in a field!
The BN course was the same as the warm up with higher jumps, an added line of 5 or 6 cross country jumps, and one more water obstacle. I rode well when I remembered to actually ride and rode crappy when I got distracted. Jasper was awesome. We almost had a stop at a tiny 12" bank, I still don't know why other than it was next to a ditch. Ditches don't usually bother him, so who knows. My friend Anke brought her whole family out to watch and so every time we went through the water or over a jump they all clapped and cheered. :)
My mom came out to support and spend her Saturday morning videoing and was able to get my BN dresssage test and the warm up jumping. Thanks Mom! Something went wrong with the camera after that.
There were 35 people in the BN division which they split into two groups. I wanted to pick up our dressage tests but had to wait until everyone was done jumping and the scores were posted for a half an hour. Really? Why? We had a 37.5 in the warm up which put us in second. We also had a 37.5 in BN which put us in third. I was pretty disappointed with that score, I thought he did much, much, much better in BN. Finally everyone finished up jumping, they posted the scores, and I got my tests. The BN test was 32.5, not 37.5! Not a 28 or 29 like we've gotten before, but respectable and it put us in first place. Woot woot!
I am a very brave horse now. You can attach flappy things to my halter.
And a few more photos from this event in 2009, just to show how far we've come...