Like night and day

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I’ve realized as Oh So has been starting his trotting work and Bear has been progressing that they truly are different horses, in every aspect, but it’s a fun challenge to be riding two horses again.

Oh So has always had a “dramatic” personality, hence his name. He does everything to the extreme. He’s been an absolute handful (and kind of an a**hole sometimes!) as I’ve started his trotting work over the last month. The vet wanted us to do 30 second trot sets and add two minutes per week. The whole 30 second increment thing lasted about two weeks before he decided he’d had enough and was basically trantering and coming close to having a meltdown every day.

I compromised by letting him trot for a minute at a time and now I’ve added a few 2 minute sets. His hind end feels back to normal after he got used to using it again. We’re up to 12 minutes of trot this week and every day is sort of hit or miss. Sometimes I’m being run off with down the long side (no circles allowed yet) and other times I get glimmers of what he was like before the injury.

At the end of my last minute of trot today, I pretended I was trotting down centerline on one of the quarterlines and then asked him to walk and then halt, which he made perfectly square. The training is still in there somewhere!

I think once we can canter things will get better, although I’m sure he’ll be just as pissed to start with only a minute at a time!

Bear on the other hand, is decidedly non-dramatic (except in the morning when he goes out and bucks like nothing I’ve ever seen before!). He’s actually a little lazy, but I think he’s still learning about the meaning of “go.” I’m hoping once we can get out cross-country schooling in the next few weeks that he’ll find his “forward” button.

It’s interesting to have a horse that likes to be groomed. Oh So is so fidgety, but Bear actually has spots he likes.

After we jump a course with Lisa, we’ll stop to talk about it and Bear will just fall asleep in the sun. It took Oh So awhile to stand still while we were chatting and even today, he’s more likely to be thinking, “Let’s do it again!” or “I was awesome, wasn’t I?”

Sam was always in between when he was competing. He could definitely get hyped up and is sensitive/spooky about grooming, but he wasn’t really tense and didn’t internalize things like Oh So does. He was good off the leg and not overly lazy or sensitive.

As Bear has been learning about flatwork, my dressage trainer, Nicky, had me use my seat to sort of urge him into the upward transition from walk to trot. He’s getting sharper about it now from my leg and seat, but I accidentally used that aid on Oh So the other day. Big mistake! I just have to “whisper” to him with my leg and he’s off in a big trot down the long side.

Since Sam retired from full work about a year and a half ago, I’ve only been riding Oh So and now that he’s back in more work, I’ve also realized the challenge in adjusting my riding style. Oh So has such a huge stride and has been mistaken for a Warmblood before. He’s got a neck that’s a mile long and shark withers. Bear is a decent sized horse, about 16.1 hands I think but I haven’t measured him, and has a much shorter/average stride. I think his stride will continue to get better as he gets stronger and uses himself more, but for now, the difference between the two is kind of startling.

I realized that last week when Nicky came on Saturday for a lesson. Since we had time, she brought over her 6-year-old 1st/2nd level Warmblood and schooled him while I rode Oh So. He was on his best behavior that day (perhaps because he knew teacher was there?) and we had some really nice trot sets.

I got on Bear after that and I felt so out of balance and slow. I think I chased him a bit and after watching some video that my mom took, I realized I was way too active with my leg, practically urging him on every step. I just need to trust that he’s going to go forward and not pinch with my knee, which seems to slow him down a bit unintentionally.

Sun For A Change

The new Stonehenge complex.
The new Stonehenge complex at the Carolina International.

This weekend, I headed down to Southern Pines to cover the inaugural Carolina CIC for COTH. It felt a little odd driving down in a car and not turning into the stabling entrance, but I was happy to watch most of the top eventers in the country all in one place.

I saw a lot of my media friends and even got a sunburn! And now we might get snow again on Tuesday! Will it ever end?

I’m getting antsy to get Bear out to school cross-country. I’m hoping if we don’t get too much snow this week that we’ll be able to go. I’m also excitedly plotting a schedule of unrecognized dressage shows and combined tests. First we need to go hang out at a couple of shows, so I’m hoping we can go to one this weekend.

This was last Monday!
This was last Monday!
I'm so over it!!!
I’m so over it!!!
Rocky got a clip two weeks ago.
Rocky got a clip two weeks ago.

The Fork CIC recap


I headed down to The Fork CIC last Friday to cover it for The Chronicle. I’d never been before, so was a little concerned about the long drive, but it ended up being fairly uneventful. I knew I was in the south when the cashier at Chik-Fil-A told me to have “a blessed day”!

I shot a little bit of dressage that afternoon, and got to see the winning test, ridden by Phillip Dutton on Mighty Nice.

The event ran in accordance with the new FEI rules for CICs, with cross-country on the final day. I’m not sure how I feel about this, and I know several of the riders I talked to were not fans. I personally enjoy the show jumping finale and think it makes for a more nail-biting finish. Plus, it’s the way eventing is supposed to be. How far will the FEI keep moving us away from the original meaning of the sport?

24650_10100928865687667_1080213131_nSome of the riders said that they didn’t like not being able to practice show jumping their horses after cross-country. Where will they get to learn the feeling their horses give them except when it counts at a big CCI?

It also made for a disappointing finale on Sunday when all of the riders were back at the barn taking care of their horses after cross-country and not at the awards ceremony. Sponsors and owners are the backbone of the sport and you’ve got to cater to them. There was hardly anyone left in the VIP tent on cross-country where the “awards ceremony” was supposed to take place, and in the end, only a few top placed riders actually showed up.

OK, rant over. Other than that, I had a really great time. The weather was beautiful and cross-country day was safe, which is the most important thing. The farm was gorgeous, but the layout was tough and everything was soooo far away from everything else. The 150453_10100928169427977_1425436798_nstabling and horse paths were an absolute mess due to heavy rain on Thursday, but the cross-country course dried out nicely for the weekend.

Here’s a link to all of my coverage. I was really happy with my photos and I’m sad I can’t show the world everything I got!

As for Oh So, he had a horrible skin reaction to a newish pair of turnout boots on Monday and I thought I had it under control, but his legs really blew up yesterday and I had to call the vet out to give him some Dex. He’s really sore and the skin is cracking on one leg, so no lesson for us on my day off. It kind of throws off everything for the next two weeks because I had planned on competing at the Morningside combined test this weekend.

If he’s not sound by Saturday, I’ll scratch and enter next weekend’s CT instead, but I really need a jump lesson and have now lost the place I used to take him to during the week occasionally, so I’m kind of freaking out.

I892381_10100930390581767_649375013_o walked him today and his legs went down, but he wasn’t comfortable enough to trot. I’m just mad at myself for not getting on top of this sooner and maybe salvaging my weekend.