Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Third time's the.....charm????

So whoever made up the superstitious saying "things always happen in threes" is now my worse enemy. A couple weeks ago I flipped off Toga while running my mouth and not paying attention in a jump school. My fault for sure. Less than a week later I got bucked off and dragged - has anyone else ever gotten their foot stuck in the REINS?? I did and got pulled across the ring until I kicked my foot loose. Not ENTIRELY my fault... a few circumstances led to a snowball effect with the bucking. OK now I'm really sore, but even worse really nervous about when fall #3 was going to happen.

I've been hunting with Potomac Hunt this season. It's been about 27 years since I hunted regularly - I actually hunted for a living with Greenspring Valley Hounds. I was a groom for a few years and got to go out almost every time on members' horses. Good memories. This year I've been out with Potomac, and even though I've forgotten a few of the specific protocols (my "good afternoon" was met with "technically it's good morning" oops oh yeah) (you're not supposed to wear black gloves oops oh yeah) it's been a really fun time. There have been a few runs through really deep going that have made me cringe, but that's one of the hazards of hunting. Along with rocky going, cows (very scary), trappy jumps, holes, and wire. Yes, wire underground, on the ground, between trees - almost always nearly invisible. I don't think in my hunting past I ever had an encounter with wire. But yesterday I sure did. On one of the great runs we had, we crossed a stream and climbed up a pretty steep hill. I was behind probably 15 or 20 other horses, in the back of the first field. All of a sudden I saw a "branch" coming at my face and I put my hand up. The next thing I knew, I was being ripped (literally) off the back of my horse! This one definitely NOT my fault!! It happened so fast I really had no idea what was going on until I felt the barbed wire cutting my hand and tearing my britches. I let go of the mare (thank goodness) and she ran off, not far. When I stood up there was wire all around me, I had to pull it off. SOOOOOOOO scary, and the worse part was the mental image I had of this lovely mare with cuts all over her, as I imagined she would have. But once again I was lucky in that she had nothing but a scratch under her eye. NOTHING else. My clothes took the beating - shredded gloves, britches, tights, and my good hacking jacket (thanks, Candace, for reminding me it was ratcatcher and saving me from additional embarassment) was torn in a number of places. My hand is pretty cut up, a few scratches on my leg, and a bruised thigh I guess I hit a rock or something when I hit the ground. BUT all things considered I am one LUCKY person, it could have been so, so much worse. Off we went for another hour of running :)

The "charm"? Let's hope that was fall #3 and I'm DONE. All three falls were bad enough, but at least nothing broke, or was cut too badly. Now I'm not as nervous looking forward to my trip to NC next week, and the competitions I'll be doing there. Very very excited, actually - both my horses are ready, and they have been very very good in all the schools. Ari hasn't jumped xc in a while, but I don't think he'll have an issue. He's so eager to jump anything in front of him it's so cute. And Toga's flatwork is so much better than we left off I'm really psyched. I had his teeth done last week and he has ramps...not just regular ramps, but stees (I think that's what they're called) ramps, which are less common and a pain in the ass to deal with. PLUS he's parrot mouthed and this time he needed his front teeth filed down. But what a difference in his work afterward - very happy to flex, and very straight instead of the head tilt he's famous for. Can't wait!!!

I'll try to get on here and let everyone know how it's going in Southern Pines... in the meantime, ride your line and 'ware wire!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's almost time...

To say this winter had been busy would be a huge understatement. Sometimes I wonder if it's because I'm getting older that time seems to fly by so fast. I had a lot of plans for this winter, but for a variety of reasons they seem to have blown past me. I've been riding regularly...Toga started back at the end of December, very sound and VERY ready to move forward. He seems to have picked up just where we left off which is really helpful and really fun. My young horse Ari is ready to go...his epiphany I out on a trail ride one day has left him a jumping machine just like his "brother". A year ago I couldn't get him near a pole on the ground, and now he drags me down to anything I point him at. What fun!!! Except that he is nearly 17 hands tall and moves like the Titanic....very very big. A huge change from the quick, instant reaction of a thoroughbred. When I ask Toga to move, he says, "when, where, how fast?" when I ask Ari, he says, "huh? what? Oh OK what was it you wanted me to do?" That time lapse is very disconcerting and very hard to switch back and forth from. But he's one of the sweetest horses I've ever ridden, so even though it's hard to ride, it's a pleasure. I'm looking forward to winning the novice AECs on Ari - which he is more than capable of. One thing will be very different for me is that I just may start with a good dressage score instead of having to jump up! Ari is 1/2 Holsteiner and ALL warmblood in his movement. Not as much work for him as it is for Toga.

In two weeks we leave for Southern Pines, NC. I can't say Toga is very fit, but he'll make it around at Preliminary the first time just fine. Ari will be surprised at a five minute canter, but he will also be fine. We've done a lot of trotting this winter, which gets them pretty fit pretty fast. The temperatures have been very pleasant, but the ground has been very wet which makes just getting to our galloping places a challenge. So trotting and cantering indoors and in the big outdoor arena has been our answer. We've done it before, and it always works out. Once you get the gallops in at your first couple events, they seem to keep it up very easily. I've had a few lessons now, and I'm really excited about how Toga has taken to the dressage this winter. He seems to be happy to be in the higher frame, and WOW he moves great!! Very exciting.

Toga will do the Preliminary at SP I and Ari will go BN. Then Toga moves back to Intermediate at SPII and Ari gets to play in the big sandbox for a couple weeks since they don't have lower levels at the second one. He'll have to wait to catch something at home. We'll be working with Bobby Costello, and staying with my friend Dana who has been living down there for about a year now. I'm pretty jealous :) Just hoping I can get in a xc school and a couple more jump schools in before we leave; we'll have a lesson with Bobby when we get there. SOOO excited to get this new season going! Big plans for the big horses :)

Anyone who runs a boarding stable these days knows that it's becoming a cost prohibitive business. It's been really rough this winter trying to keep up with the rising hay, feed, fuel, etc bills, but thank goodness it's been mild weather. It sure helped with heating costs. Anyway, I wasn't able to take lessons for a while so I worked on my position and Toga's straightness issues. The time off was just what he needed, because he was ready to go and ready to move on. My hopes to get to jumper shows crumbled as the days flew by. Turns out there are very few shows for an Intermediate jumper in our area. Plenty of stuff for Junior, but not for T. Thanks to the weather, though, we got a lot of schools in at home.