CDCTA Dressage At Morningside: Operation Bronze Medal Achieved!

Oh So and I headed to CDCTA Dressage At Morningside on Aug. 18, and I’m happy to report we got our final score for our bronze medal!

We had later ride times, so it was pretty warm, but luckily overcast. We rode Third 2 twice, once in the regular class and once in the Test Of Choice class because I didn’t want to have to learn Third 3 with only two weeks.

Unfortunately Heidi wasn’t available for a lesson the week after Loch Moy, so I worked on my own a bit just riding lots of haunches in in canter to prepare for the half passes.

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Continue reading “CDCTA Dressage At Morningside: Operation Bronze Medal Achieved!”

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First show of the season!

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I was finally able to make it out to my first show of the season with Bear at Morningside last Saturday.

It was quite windy, but he settled right in when we got to the show. The warmup on the polo field was pretty sucky so we had to warm up on the track and in the tiny little warm up ring, which always bothers me, but he seemed just fine with it.

The person ahead of us scratched, so we were able to warm up near our ring on good footing. The test itself was pretty good for the first time out. He was a bit spooky near the judge’s stand because there was a tarp flapping on the side of the hut. He took exception to that during his right lead canter circle at C, but the judge was quite kind and gave us a 25.3, with a 9 on our final centerline!

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I think the biggest thing to think of in the tests with him is to push him into the corners and really “show off” of those circles since it’s such a simple test. Our free walk and the transition to medium walk then trot needs some work and his final halt was square but not quite round and soft, so we’ll be working on those things before Loudoun. In watching myself, I’m still too active and trying to “push him along”. My heel was drawn up a bit and I was tipped forward in some photos, so I’ll be working on keeping a longer leg and a taller, more upright body position.

We went out on the hill after and had a short cross-country school. I’ll be taking him for a jump lesson tomorrow since my plans with Oh So have now changed.

I had a lovely jump school in the ring at Morningside on Sunday morning with Lisa and we went out on the hill to do a slow canter, Oh So’s first of the year. The footing wasn’t the best at some fences, so we literally jumped two jumps, the coffin and a small log into the water.

He had Monday off and was fooling around in the mud on Tuesday according to my mom. When I went to ride, he was most definitely off and I had the vet scheduled to come for chiropractic work, but we ended up doing a lameness exam instead. Sigh.

We isolated it to the left front and blocked it. He got better after we had blocked the lower fetlock/suspensory area and then ultrasounded. Thankfully there was nothing obvious on the ultrasound so we determined he probably tweaked his leg in the field. He’ll have a few days off and I’ll watch him go and decide what to do.

Unfortunately, I had planned on doing a combined test at Morningside this weekend, which will now not happen. I’m keeping my entry to Loudoun for now since we’re 10 days out and I’m hopeful, but really discouraged about the whole situation. I wish I had a real answer as to what it was, but now it’s a wait and see. Will I ever get to go to an event again?

He feels about as good as he’s ever been and his hind end feels really good too, so now I just cross my fingers and wait. And never speak out loud about any competition plans ever again.

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Morningside CT recap

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Bear schooling at home.

It’s been about two months since Bear was last out at a show due to his foot bruise, my travels and just getting him legged up again, but we made it to Morningside on Sunday for a combined test.

We decided to do baby novice one more time and he was pretty good. I don’t think he’s going to be one to need a lot of dressage warmup, which is nice, because it’s exhausting riding him compared to Oh So! He’s still learning to get off my leg but I decided against spurs since he’s been ultra sensitive to them at home lately, and I really could have used them by the time I trotted down centerline.

As a result, in our first canter transition, I freaked out a bit and chased him, so we got a 5 for that. His downwards transition was also rough as he swung his hindquarters in. Those are hard to do on the long side!

After the free walk, the test was steadier and we picked up a few 7s and 8s to finish with a 32.0. It was probably a little generous, but hey, it made me feel good!

He cantered easily around the baby novice course, but I was throwing my upper body left a little on landing so we didn’t get every lead. I’m not sure why I do it to the left on him but to the right on Oh So.

They had quite a few people sign up for baby novice and beginner novice jumping rounds, so after warming up on the track for our beginner novice round, which is awful because you can’t get into a rhythm, we had to sit around and wait for probably 40 minutes. He was fine with it, but I think I should have done a couple of jumps before we went in since I work best off the momentum of a few rhythmic jumps.

They put in the panels and fillers for the beginner novice division and in hindsight, I should have let him have a peek at some of them. He started off ok over the first fence, but then I asked for a long one to the second and he popped in an extra stride, while I stupidly jumped ahead for a pretty ugly effort.

We regained our composure quickly for the next two jumps, but I did the same stupid thing again to a vertical with a stone wall, and pretty much almost fell off! We regained our composure again and finished a lot better than we started!

So, moral of the story- I’m still figuring out my balance on him compared to Oh So. We’ve only recently started putting the jumps up to serious beginner novice height, and while Oh So made them seem tiny when I started him, Bear is smaller and I have less in front of me. His neck comes out of his shoulders at less of an upwards angle and I don’t have huge withers and a long neck to “catch me” should I jump ahead.

Oh So also finds long spots quite fun, so I’ve been able to get away with jumping ahead with my upper body. He’s rarely chipped in in the years I’ve had him.

So, Bear will teach me not to jump ahead I hope, because otherwise I’ll end up on the ground! He’s also been so saintly, quiet and almost bored jumping at home and in our lessons that I think I’ve trusted that too much. He was slightly surprised by the fillers at Morningside, so he added a stride instead of taking off long. Thankfully he doesn’t seem to mind as I right myself after the jump. A true amateurs horse, even at 4 years old!

For now we’ll just work on getting comfortable jumping at the height. I’ve done a ton of prelims but beginner novice feels big on him to me. He doesn’t seem to care, but I need to get brave now!

I included the second half of our BN round here since it was much better than the first!

 

Lessons Learned

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Things are finally settling down after my last trip of the season.

I headed to Galway Downs on Halloween to cover the CCI divisions. I flew into San Diego and headed north to Temecula for a quick interview with Gina Miles on Thursday and pretty much crashed at the hotel after that due to some jet lag!

Friday was dressage day. The facility is really beautiful, albeit a bit dusty! It’s nestled at the base of some mountains and the dressage rings are set right near the cross-country course. In fact, one division galloped through the arenas and to a water jump right on the edge.

The cross-country course at Galway is pretty much on a dirt track. There’s a training track with stables and a polo field in the middle of the track. The course started on the polo field and crossed out over the track onto dirt. It was pretty flat except for parts where the course went up onto the track again, then back down into the polo field. I thought it was quite strange that they actually drag the course before.

The CCI*** was quite small, which was unfortunate because I didn’t get to see much of the course as I was shooting, but I talked to some nice people and thought my coverage came out well.

Here’s a link to my coverage.

My flight back on Monday got delayed in Denver for 4 hours, so it turned out to be a

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longer day than I’d expected.

On Wednesday, which also happened to be my birthday (!), I went to Morningside to cover a William Fox-Pitt clinic for the website.

His ideas weren’t earth-shattering, but served as a good reminder of the basics. I was reminded of a few things I can work on with Oh So once he’s back jumping to keep his footwork up to speed.

I’ve had a couple of lessons with Bear since my last update and he’s progressing really nicely.

With Nicky, we decided to build a round pen out of jumps in the corner of the ring because he was turning in to the circle a lot and I was having trouble staying behind him and keeping him forward. The round-pen definitely helped and we were able to put both side reins on and have some nice work on the circle.

It was kind of neat when he did come round a bit and I could see glimmers of what he can be a few months down the road.

We worked a little bit on making circles by opening the inside rein and applying inside leg. Towards the end of the lesson, we walked up at an angle to the fence line and asked him to step over a little bit in a mini-turn on the forehand.

He seems very willing to take on each new task so far, but when we ride at night, sometimes things are too interesting to put his head down!

I took him to his first off-property lesson on Sunday. He was a bit tough to get on the trailer since he’d slipped the day before when we practiced, but we figured out a way to keep him from slipping on the ramp, and with the help of the lunge line behind his butt, he finally got on. Once he was on, he was fine, but he’s a little apprehensive to step the whole way William Fox-Pitton.

I gave him a tiny bit of Ace for this first time off property, but he seemed to act pretty much like he usually does.

We walked around the arena at Maresfield by hand, and he neighed a lot looking for the other horses. Once I got on, it was kind of the same story, but he still did what I asked of him, so that was a good start.

We trotted over three poles in a row, which he didn’t seem to care about, and then Lisa decided it was time to canter (!!!). I was in my dressage saddle, so I was a little worried that my leg wouldn’t be out in front of me if he put in a buck, but once he got going, he was just fine. His canter is actually pretty comfortable and feels ground-covering, so I’m excited for him to gain some more strength.

He got on the trailer a little better for the ride home and settled back into his stall, probably pretty tired!

I tried cantering at home tonight and he was much quicker to pick it up, but he didn’t get the right lead every time, which is understandable. Lisa wants me to start working him on some small hills to strengthen his stifles and I’d like to start taking him for short hacks with my mom, but she won’t be home this weekend so that will have to wait a bit.

Oh So continues to be an ass on stall rest. He really does want to make my life difficult! He got extremely upset when I was putting tack on the trailer on Sunday and started running circles in his stall. I did get on him for the first time since the injury over the weekend because the vet said I could start doing some walk work to keep his mind busy. We’re only doing 5 minutes right now, but he seemed happy to be doing his job again.

No cocktail of drugs seems to work for him for small paddock turnout. He nibbles some hay, then takes off bucking and screeching to a halt– everything he’s not supposed to do.

I’m at the point now, since it’s getting so cold and dark and he’s becoming more unruly, of just letting him go and hoping he settles down when he’s out with Sam. Trying to put him in a small paddock just makes it worse, and the paddocks are only going to get muddier as the winter wears on.

He’s not due for another ultrasound until Christmas, when he’ll be walking under saddle for 24 minutes a few times a week. I’m just torn. Do I let him go and be done with it, possibly undoing the healing we’ve achieved so far, or do I continue on with the plan and possibly get my teeth kicked out and freeze to death every day twice a day?B

I’m fine if it takes him an extra month to get back into real work if he goes out now, but the problem is that whenever we turn him out, be it tomorrow or 3 months from now, he’s still going to run. The vet just wants him walking more so the leg is stronger before he gets real turnout. She’s fine with him in a small paddock, but that’s obviously not working.

Thoughts?

Looking ahead

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Things are looking a little better with Oh So this week. He feels almost 100%, but I still feel like there’s something going on behind the saddle. After consulting with both of my trainers, we all think he must have tweaked himself in the paddock, so we’re trying a 5-day bute regimen to see if it helps bring down any inflammation. I’m not sure I want to rush419688_10100818499098197_184014323_n back to the vet quite yet, so we’ll see how this goes. So far, he feels ok, but warms up a bit stiff to the left and doesn’t want to work his right hind as well as he can.

I tried using a Dr. Bristol for our flat lesson on Sunday and actually liked it. He still got a bit strong, but he didn’t mess with his tongue. We had some good moments and I think he was trying hard, considering our ride on Saturday was a meltdown after not being able to ride for four days. I entered another dressage show at Morningside this weekend where we’ll do Second 1 and 2, and Nicky is going to be there, so I feel fairly prepared.

DSC_3552Last week was basically a wash because of extremely cold weather and a couple of small snowfalls. I was pretty grouchy about not being able to ride, let alone exercise, so I made do with a stationary bike and an exercise ball.

I had a good ride on Sam on Saturday, but haven’t ridden him since. I’m considering it a mini-vacation due to my schedule, the weather and my energy level. I’m going to try to get on tomorrow, unless we get thunderstorms (in January?).

On Sunday, I attended the CDCTA Awards Banquet at the Fauquier Springs Country Club.  424162_10100815222230067_1474104458_nMy mom came with me so we could celebrate my win and Lisa’s eventing trainer of the year award. I hadn’t been in many years, so it was nice to pick up my huge trophy and ribbon in person and see some friends. The food was great too! We also got our reserve champion ribbon in the mail for USEA Area 2 adult amateur prelim.

I finally got out to a jump lesson today. It was literally 75 degrees, so a little warm, but no complaints from me! We didn’t do anything huge, but he kept a nice rhythm and I didn’t screw it up too much. Lisa casually made a comment about how we would do “a couple of 291106_10100818628683507_1908747615_ointermediates” before our first CCI* this fall, which made me a little bit speechless. Intermediate is certainly not a goal of mine right now- I just want to jump a consistent show jumping round at prelim- but if she thinks we can do it and wants me to go for it, I guess I should. I’ve got the horse who would do anything I asked, I just need to get more fit and get over some mental blocks.

I also had a couple of stories on COTH’s website over the last week. First up is a blog I wrote for our Staff Blog Thursdays about winter riding. The other was a profile on Tracy Brennan, an adult amateur who riders her OTTB in a side-saddle in just about every discipline. She was definitely inspirational.

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Morningside Jumper Rounds

I took Oh So to Morningside on Sunday for a couple of practice jumping rounds. It was a pretty frigid weekend, but I think we were both happy to get out and not have to do a dressage test for once! I rode the first round as it was laid out and took one circle in between a related distance because it was either a short five or a long six. For my second round, I made up a course, which ended up meandering a little bit, but he didn’t seem to notice the difference.

We were both pretty relaxed and he was jumping well. We had one rail down in the first round because we got a bit long, but after that, he was waiting for me and stayed focused. I wish we could do this every weekend, but the jumper shows around us barely fill at 3’6″ and go until after dark. It’s hard to get motivated when it’s dark and freezing!