Winter break

I’m coming to the end of my winter break and head back to work tomorrow. It’s been refreshing to have some time off, ride in the light and wake up knowing I have the whole day at my leisure. Unfortunately, at the beginning of my break, my jump trainer called to say she had a family emergency and wouldn’t be teaching until after the new year. I was disappointed to have alot of time off and not feel productive with my jumping, but come the new year, we’ll start back fresh.

My break started by sitting through horrendous traffic on the Beltway on Dec. 21 so I could see my favorite band, Go Radio, at The FIllmore in Silver Spring, Md. There weren’t that many people there, which was surprising for a show put on by DC101, but it made for a nice, intimate feeling, even on the bigger stage. I did photos for avoidthescene.com, and those are up now on my Flickr page.

On Sunday, I had a really good flat lesson with Oh So. He was quiet enough that we could school some walk-canter and canter-walk transitions. My trainer brought her young horse over to school him in a different arena, so that made for some excitement.

photo-4On Christmas eve, I went to see Lincoln with my parents. It was a bit slow and talky, but I can see why it will probably win every Oscar. My mom decided she didn’t want to go to church that night, which makes it only the second time in my life that we’ve missed Christmas Eve service. It’s the only time every year that we go to church, but I think we were all missing my brother, who spent Christmas with his fiancee and her family in Ohio.

Christmas morning was sort of a non-event without my brother there. It took us all of a half photo-5hour to open our gifts, then my mom and I went for a hack. I did get some pretty cool stuff though. I had been wanting a new lens for shooting concerts and I got a 24-85mm f/2.8, which is really exciting. I’ve pretty much been shooting with just my 50mm f/1.4, but now I have the flexibility of a zoom too. I also got a nice set of different flavored hot chocolates to try. I’m not a coffee person, so I’m excited to take these to work.

Throughout the break, I also got a chance to clip Rocky again and work both him and Toppers quite a bit, which I’m not so sure they appreciated! Toppers in particular was looking and feeling quite good for his 21 years!

photo-3

On Wednesday, we had pretty awful rain, so my dad and I went up to DC to go to some museums. I usually don’t have the time or energy during the year to go, so it was nice to spend a day not doing horse stuff. We went to the Museum of the American Indian first to see the “A Song For The Horse Nation” exhibition. COTH featured a couple of pieces from it in a recent issue, so it was cool to see the whole thing. We also went to the Air and Space museum briefly and the National Gallery, which had a really cool Roy Lichtenstein exhibition.

Thursday was jam-packed with another flat lesson on Oh So and one on Sam. He was photogood again. We worked on some trot lengthenings and lateral work with minimal tension, which is a win in my book. I haven’t done lessons on Sam regularly for awhile since he’s not consistently sound, so it was nice to have a few reminders on my position and his pace. I tend to lean “at” him a bit since he warms up quite stiff and high-headed. We worked on some counter leg yields and leg yields in walk and trot with more bend than usual to help free up his shoulders, and to my surprise, he came nice and round and got steadier in the contact.

That afternoon, my dad came with me to a travel agency in Fredericksburg so I could start planning my trip to Ireland next year. I came home with quite a few brochures and a lot to think about, but I’m really excited to start researching.

Thatnight, I took my dad to see The Hobbit in 3D since he’s never seen a 3D photo-2movie. I probably should have watched the entire Lord Of The Rings trilogy first to refresh my memory, but I thought it was pretty good, and now I have to wait an entire year for the next one!

Friday I spent most of the day outside working all four horses. I had a good jump school with Oh So on my own. I just set up some fences with canter poles before and after them and a few small gymnastics, and he stayed nice and steady and waiting. It’s often a challenge to jump at home because our ring is smaller then the places we usually go, so setting up gymnastics is usually better for both of us.

Yesterday and today were just more of the same. After working everyone each day, I’ve been working on little things that need to be done, but I keep putting off- fixing my music website, cleaning my room and closet, organizing my computer, etc. Now I’m off to work for one day, then off on New Year’s Day, and ready for whatever 2013 brings.

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Random musings

A lot has happened since I last updated. As I posted last time, I’ve been practicing my jump position and riding without stirrups. I kind of slacked off this week, but I have an excuse! On Sunday Oh So’s right hind leg blew up while he was in his stall during the day. I called the emergency vet (because these things always happen on holiday weekends) and she said if his temperature was normal and he was sound and eating normally, then I should just do a sweat wrap and give him some SMZs if I wanted. To be on the safe side, I did start him on SMZs. It didn’t go down much at all on Sunday night which really concerned me, but he was still acting normal and his vitals were fine. After consulting with the vet again over the phone, we decided she didn’t need to come out, thankfully. I sweated it one more time and it went down a bit more Monday night and is completely normal today. So, whatever it was, it’s gone now. I couldn’t detect a cut anywhere, but he does have typical “gelding crud” on the fronts of his hind legs that I regularly pick and curry off, so maybe it got irritated? They never bleed or get raw, so this really was a mystery.

Before all of this happened on Sunday, I took Sam to Morningside for a little play day. He hasn’t been out in awhile and I have him entered in the CDCTA evening dressage show next week, so I wanted to get him out once before. We warmed up on the track and did a little novice/training level canter both ways. He was puffing, but I think he enjoyed himself. I’ve actually never taken him on a track before. When we were competing, we never had access to a good track. It’s definitely a different feeling compared to Oh So. His neck is so short and he’s constantly spooking and swerving sideways, but I don’t mind. He’s having fun!

We popped over a few cross-country jumps in the infield and then ran through the steeplechase practice water on the edge of the lake. I finished by letting him walk down the horse ramp into the lake. We went up to about his belly to cool off.

This past week, I’ve been working on Oh So’s flat work. We’ve been introducing counter canter serpentine loops in my lessons, so I’ve been working on keeping his neck in line with his body and making sure I’m truly sitting straight. I’ve also been adding some rein backs and canter-walk, walk-canter transitions in, as well as sitting the trot. I’m still waiting to able to order a new dressage saddle which I think will greatly improve my ability to sit his trot. I had good lessons last night with both boys although I felt like I was going to pass out the whole time.

Today I took Oh So to our first jump lesson (at Morningside) in almost three weeks and he was quite strong, but jumping well. I was seeing my spots and keeping the canter active. We went up on the cross-country hill and just dropped down a few banks into water and cantered up one. He hasn’t seen a down bank into water all season at competitions and I know Maryland HT always has one. He was kind of leaping off, but mostly because he was spooking at grass clippings in the water (so my trainer says). So, they weren’t beautiful, but we had a couple of nice step downs in the end and got the job done.

I’ve been earning quite a few points to top the training amateur/adult rider charts for Area II and CDCTA which is kind of cool. I used to be a member of CDCTA and earned some Area II year-end awards with Sam and my mare Palais, but had kind of forgotten about it the last few years while I’ve been bringing Oh So along. He probably would have done quite well during his novice and first training year last year. I got inspired because I had to type up all the association year end awards for COTH while I was interning, so I joined CDCTA again and signed up for Area II points. Apparently I should be tied for 5th on the national Training Adult Rider chart too, but when I talked to someone at USEA, she said she was getting the IT department to look into it. I kind of want to get a screen shot just to say I made it on the list. I doubt I’ll stay there unless I win everything the rest of the year. It’s sort of unfair because it’s only rider and not horse/rider combination. So any amateur competing two horses will earn double the points. But, it’s not really about that to me. I just think it’s cool to see how I stack up against others and would love to get a fancy ribbon at the end of the year!

I was early to work on Saturday, so I took the long way on Landmark Road in The Plains. I’d never been that way before, so I stopped alongside the road and took some photos of the O’Connor’s farm and some pretty scenery.

Besides working at the Sporting Library and competing/riding, I’ve been watching an amazing BBC documentary series called Coast which follows the coastlines of the British Isles and some parts of Europe. I’ve been making mental notes of the places I want to visit some day. The show talks about history from ancient to modern and how the coastlines have literally changed shaped. It really is amazing. I just wish they would make it available in the US! I’ve been streaming six seasons worth and it’s a hassle with a slow internet connection.

Random musings

This about sums up what Sam thinks of Oh So’s antics!

Well, I woke up this morning to a winter wonderland, as expected. Luckily the snow melted and the ring was never even frozen, so I rode Sam a bit. He feels really good from behind, like the hock injections were almost instant relief. He also promptly came in with a huge gash on the underside of his cheek which began to swell as the day went on. What next…

Toppers still loves to jump.

I’ve found it really interesting as he and Toppers get older. Toppers is the resident old man (he’s almost 20), and hasn’t shown much evidence of slowing down. The only sign I get is that he cross canters a bit when I lunge him, and jumping the higher fences seems to have become more of an effort. He still loves to jump though. With Sam, I’ve noticed that he lays down more frequently outside. He’s always liked to sleep outside instead of in the stall, but I notice him lay down for a few minutes, get up, change sides and lay down again, then lay down in another part of the paddock later in the day. It’s like he can’t get comfortable. He also seems to have no patience for Oh So (well, he never really did) and he won’t really get galloping or excited very much anymore (which is definitely a good thing. No lost shoes!). Sam and Toppers both seem to know when they want to come in and don’t tolerate the weather as much anymore. When Sam is ready to come in, he’s ready and waiting by the gait; same with Toppers.

Other random things:

  • I changed the layout of the blog a bit. The header photo is from Woodside Horse Park in Woodside, Calif. It doesn’t quite represent where I event, but I thought I’d try to take a landscape photo at each event I go to this year and change it up a bit.
  • Besides horses, music and photography, I’m also a huge television fanatic. I love shows like Friday Night Lights, Conan, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and any NBC comedy. But my biggest television passion/indulgence is anything British. I’m a self-proclaimed Anglophile, so much so that I one day dream of marrying a British or Irish man! I love the culture, the accent and the history. I’m pretty obsessed with finding mini-series and movies on Netflix. My favorites are generally featured on Masterpiece Theater and BBC (like Emma, Pride and Prejudice, mostly Jane Austen/early 19th century romance). But this spring, there are a few British mini-series coming out that have me really excited. Camelot and Game of Thrones are going to be awesome. And Mildred Pierce starts tonight on HBO, which stars a Brit, but is set in America. I’m also dying to see the new adaptation of Jane Eyre which is out in select theaters, but not any near me! I’m a huge fan of the 2006 mini-series starring Toby Stephens and I’m afraid this version might not live up to my expectations. But generally anything put out by Focus Features has my attention.
  • Morven Park is this coming weekend, and the weather forecast is up in the air. It has snowed at Morven in the past. I’m not sure we’re going to get that, but I am concerned about the footing. We’ve had quite a bit of rain.
  • My review for ThinLine Reins is out now in the Chronicle Connection. I’ll get the text typed up later, but for now, here’s a screencap. I took the photo, and I think the designer did a great job.