Sunday, April 27, 2014

DVCTA Combined Test at Windurra-Full Breakdown

After spending a shockingly short amount of time (only a whopping fifteen minutes) trying to get Z on the trailer, we headed out to Boyd and Silva Martin's beautiful facilities in Cochranville, PA. Upon arrival, I was able to follow my plan of a nice, relaxed warm up. I wanted to just ask for a free/stretching walk until she relaxed enough that I knew she would be more consistent in our other gaits. I only did a fairly short trot warm up, asking for stretches and some leg yields. Just enough that I knew she'd be relaxed and between my legs for the test. We also did a short canter, which actually may have been our best canter work to date. Hehe. Anyway, we had about 40 minutes to warm up, and I didn't want to do anything that might tire her brain out, so I probably walked for 25 minutes of that, which turned out to be wonderful.

Let me interject now, that as soon as we got to the warm up, I realized that our dressage test would be performed in Windurra's dressage ring. The one with the full length mirrors that run the whole length of the "C" side of the arena. At that moment, I completely lowered my expectations for the test. There was no way for us to ride around the ring before our test, so I knew she was too green to even get close to the mirrors willingly. When we were able to start our test (Beginner Novice Test A), we went down center line and she stopped about ten meters from C, turned around and decided, "none of that, mom. take me away from here. NOW." The judge had seen our warm up, so she allowed me to restart the test and marked it as a test error. For that second chance, I am eternally grateful. I spent the rest of the test asking for more where I knew I could and just praying she wouldn't take off at the judge's end. The judge commented afterward on how much I laughed down at her end. She said it was refreshing to see someone handle a young horse with such a sense of humor. To which I responded, "how else to you handle a young horse?" We actually got 7s on a whole lot of our movements, so it was a really incredible learning experience for both of us and she is definitely better for having done it.

Onto jumping. It's definitely her stronger suit. I only did a short warm up, getting her in front of my leg and jumping out of a stride. I think we're going to experiment with bits this week as she pulls quite a lot after fences, so I'd like to find something just a hair stronger to get her lighter before we can switch back. :)
The course was pretty straightforward, except for one offset two-stride that was five strides after a scary oxer with these big fake boulders as fillers. This was the only line I was even a little bit worried about, so obviously most of my focus throughout the course was preparing. As we turned to the scary line, Z saw the arena entrance and thought she was done, so she broke to the trot. This meant we didn't have quite the quality of gait I would have liked going to the oxer, but she also has such a strong jump that I just had to do my best to not let her run out. She didn't, and somehow, we made it through the line. Unfortunately, since I was so focused on that line, I completely forgot about the last jump, which meant that I broke to the trot, thought I was finishing, and hen had to circle back once I remembered. By the way, I called it in my course walk that I was going to forget about it. (I know, cursed myself) But my baby was wonderful, came right back into it and jumped the last jump the better than anything else that day. :)

Sidenote, it only took us about two minutes to load on the trailer to go home! And we even made a stop at my aunt's house which was so scary, lol. My little mustang though, was a perfect angel, posing for pictures from inside the trailer and calmly eating her hay.

I'll have a blog post/review at least once this week and a post after our very busy two days next weekend!
Until next time... :)

Monday, April 21, 2014

New Year, New Goals.

As most of you already know, I have opted out of this year's PA Makeover. Unfortunately, I just have too many other commitments that I am eager to see through.

The good news, though? More time for Z! I have spent much of the last month or so building a plan for Z and I to compete throughout the spring, summer, and fall. We have managed to get out cross country schooling several times, and each time she becomes a smarter, braver, more exciting prospect. She thrives off of her training time. This past winter was especially brutal, so, while our training continued (thanks mostly to the miracle of indoor arenas), the weather made both Z and I a bit grumpy and unmotivated. Recently, with the arrival of T-shirt days and much less rain/snow, we've really buckled down and fixed some problems we've been encountering thus far.

Now, dressage has never been my favorite to work on, as is the case with many eventers. Z, though, has brought out the passion in me. I now look forward to my hard schooling dressage days just as much as my jumping days. She is such a quick learner and is so strong and fit right now. She handles her workload very well and tackles every new movement with sensibility and careful thought. (Of course, as with many younger horses, she has days where she completely forgets that she has four feet and that they all need to move when she trots or canters.) She has given me the tools to improve myself more than I ever thought a green horse could.

Her jumping, as you'll see in video below, is just stupendous. She's really begun to take charge and think about where she is going and how to get there. She actually would probably be pretty content to just lope around a hunter course, but, like I said, she thrives on dressage and was really born to event. Her jumping style is so naturally even and powerful that her technique has improved by leaps and bounds pretty quickly. We've done a lot of grids, which has made her a very independent, (perhaps too) strong jumper. Now, we actually have to ease her off in front of a jump, not because she rushes out of control, just because she is very sure of where she would like to take off and how she would like to get there. :)

My goal this year is to do at least one novice event before the end of the year. Next week, April 26th, we will head to Boyd Martin's Windurra Farm for a Beginner Novice combined test. The following weekend we will do a demonstration at Caitlin's (Halona's mommy) rescue celebration on Saturday and the Intro division at Fair Hill's Unrecognized Horse Trials. After that, I'm hoping to move her up to Beginner Novice at a full event, but first we'll have to tackle some more water complexes. That is her ONLY hang-up. Ditches and banks were nothing, first try. She is so smart, she just genuinely does not understand big water complexes (though she is the ONLY horse I've ever had that will lead and ride through big puddles. LOL) Once I'm confident with her at the water, I have no doubt in my mind that she would kick some sport horse butt at Beginner Novice! :)

Until next time... (and next time will hopefully come sooner than this time. Hahaha.)