Sunday, 22 June 2014

James Alliston Clinic

Just wanted to share my helmet cam videos from the James Alliston Clinic last weekend.

It was a great clinic and lots of fun! James was great, very helpful and knowledgeable, and while nothing he had us do or told us was earth shattering, it was a number of little adjustments and suggestions that helped greatly improve the big picture. We did a lot of course type stuff, instead of the typical start/stop of a lot of cross country schooling, and it definitely helped us and the horses flow better as it simulated an actual cross country round vs just schooling certain questions. I felt like those little things helped me a LOT by the end of the clinic, and it seemed like everyone else in my group felt similar about it as well! I have trouble finding good distances to gallop fences, so James helped me a bunch with that, and I felt like I had improved a lot in that area by the end of the clinic.

I did something a bit different in this clinic, I kept my helmet cam running to capture James' feedback, which I found very helpful to go back and review afterwards! I also recorded Sunny and I heading down to soak legs in the river, that's at the end of both videos of anyone is interested.

My photobucket has an angry because I have apparently exceeded my bandwidth for this month, so photos from the clinic can be viewed on my facebook page:

Up next, Cochrane Horse Trials next weekend!! :)

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Mustang Powder Horse Trials!!

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Typically we just travel to events the day before, but we left an extra day early for this one! It was a gorgeous day and we pulled into Chase mid-afternoon and set up camp. I hopped on Sunny for a flat ride and she was pretty good actually. Had a quiet rest of the day as we'd arrived extra early, the event didn't start till Saturday.

Enjoying the creek!

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Friday I had booked a lesson with our high performance coach Lynda Ramsay, who I hadn't ridden with since our not so great couple clinic rides back in January. Well I have been working super hard with Sunny and Lynda definitely noticed!! Thank god, haha, those couple rides with her were really kind of a disaster, back before her bit change, etc. Just not good. Had a pretty good lesson though so was feeling pretty confident for dressage on Saturday.

Some pics from my lesson on Friday...

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My dressage time was 11:58am which was absolutely amazing, it has seriously been YEARS since I have had ride times later than 8 or 9am! What a leisurely morning, hanging out, I took Sunny for a walk and a graze, braided her, took the dogs for a long walk too, haha. So nice! Mounted up and was pleasantly surprised I was totally calm. I don't *usually* get horribly nervous or anything but the past bit I had definitely been getting a bit of the butterflies before dressage especially, just because if we are going to shit the bed, that is definitely where we'll do it!!

Sunny catching some Zzzzz's on dressage day.  photo ABA49960-1777-4478-BA0E-39A6927840AB.jpg

Had a lovely warm up with Lynda giving me some pointers, and I felt like for once I could possibly have a decent dressage test!! Unfortunately once we entered the ring Sunny's peanut brain had left the building and we had a rough test. She was super fussy in the contact and broke to canter a few times in our trot work. Didn't blow our *all* of our counter canter this time like in California, but it was tense overall and wasn't anywhere near how well I know we can do the movements.

Warming up...

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The test WAS slightly better than our dressage in California, but of course we had a really tough judge. The marks and comments were very fair though, I definitely agreed with everything she wrote on the test! Was a little bit disappointed though since we had had a really nice warm up and lesson the day before. How the hell do I get that in the ring?? Ugh, so frustrating, I'm still trying to figure that part out. Dressage is always going to be a work in progress with Sunny, I'm pretty sure:P

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Was also disappointed to see that I had blown any hopes of getting a qualifying score at Chase when I checked the dressage scores. You have to have 75 penalty points or better in dressage, and I had gotten 77.3. Damn it anyways. But that's the way it goes sometimes!! Pretty sad when it's the dressage that's holding us back. Ugh.

Walked my cross country that afternoon and was SO FREAKING EXCITED. I have cliniced at Chase a few times and they have so much terrain and fun stuff, and Nick is definitely old school in every way. It said right on the website that this was not going to be a soft "start the year off" course and that your horse should be solid at the level, that it would test boldness and scope first and foremost, so I knew it was going to be a big gallopy course with lots of terrain. Was absolutely over the moon that Nick had included ALL OF THE CRAZY FUN STUFF in the prelim course!!! The log on the hill, the hole in the wall, the BFL, the suicide slide, SHIT YES OH MY GOD!!!! You guys have no idea how excited I was. There was a ton of rain in the forecast for the weekend, and I wasn't worried in the slightest because every time I have ridden at Chase it has been raining and I've done most of the crazy stuff regardless and their footing holds up great, so I just kind of though, "Hey, this just might be my Badminton!!" Lol.

I haven't posted a course walk here in a while so I figured this one was definitely worth sharing!!!!  photo 58EF06F9-A710-4859-9320-F8FCFD752A71.jpg

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The log on the hill!!!! The water complex was filled for our actual course.

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I know some riders were a bit worried about this line of jumps, but I think most everyone rode it well.

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The bullfinch.

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The BFL!

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The Suicide Slide!!

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I was very confident going in. I knew that if I rode like I knew I could, we would rock the course. Sunday morning, I got up and it was still raining off and on. Went out and watched some of the pre-training riders go, and the ground was holding up fairly well, but there were lots of stops and things. All of the courses were a little tougher than normal with some different questions and terrain so it wasn't a surprise.

Was a wet morning for cross country!!!!

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Got Sunny all tacked up and headed out to warm up for cross country! I haven't run her with studs since last fall, and it's been quite a while since I've had to stud her up bigger for wet ground, and she was being quite strange about them in our warm up! Really kind of sticky off the ground for the first bit and wanting to take the awkward long spot and diving over the fence instead of adding a stride. Didn't quite get things where I wanted them to be before we were called down to the start box, but once Sunny gets going on course she's usually all business so I wasn't too terribly concerned.

We were fifth to go in our division so I was happy that the footing wouldn't be too chewed up yet when it was out turn to go. I hadn't walked out my minute markers or anything because of the rain, I figured I would just go whatever speed the course/footing warranted, because with the terrain and elevation changes, time was going to be hard enough to make even if it was totally dry! The starter counted us down and we were off!!

I made Sunny take it a bit easy to fence 1. Since Nick is old school he didn't put any cross country jumps in the warm up, and he made sure that jump 1 wasn't just a "nice" fence one, he made sure you had to get riding right from the get go. It was a big stepped table thing with apples all over it, lol. Which Sunny had a hard look at, so a good whack on the shoulder with my crop persuaded her otherwise and we hopped over it and carried on. The first couple fences are always a bit funky and wiggly until we get going, so Sunny was drifting left on the way to 2 and jumped the left side of it. 3 was a vertical right beside the fast moving creek, so a bit spooky, so I revved Sunny up a few strides before that one and then we were in the groove!

We jumped over jump 4 in the fenceline and headed for the old water complex, where 5 was the log on the hill! I made sure Sunny had plenty of rpm's coming in and she galloped up the hill and absolutely LAUNCHED the log, landing partway down the hill on the landing side, and I would have flown right up to her ears I'm sure, but somehow managed to plant my knuckles right on her withers when I went to fly forward, and caught myself. I muted out the SHIT part of the my HOLY SHIT! exclamation upon landing in my helmet cam, lol. 6, 7, and 8 was the bending line houses, it had walked 5 strides and then 4 strides, and I definitely had way too much horse coming in because it came up so fast, Sunny launched the first 2 and did them in just 4 strides, which made my turn to the last one way too wide, but Sunny is awesome and jumped it at an angle no problem from the awkward approach. From there we had a long gallop to 9, the trakehner, which Sunny no longer thinks requires an actual jumping effort, because she loped over it with a big canter stride, haha. 10 and 11 were set near each other in a fenceline so you jumped one and immediately looped back in a half circle to the other.

Then we came to the new water complex! We had a small house jump that dropped down into the water, then across to the bank out. Then we went up and down a small mound, over a ditch, and one stride to a bank up, then we bounced over a vertical. It rode fabulous, and I was all smiles hearing all the cheering as we galloped on:)

16 was a big ramp that rode well and then I brought Sunny back for the corner at 17. We had a little bit of a long spot there but it a fairly small corner so no major problems. We galloped on and the double brush at 18 and the open oxer at 19 rode well. 20 was a bullfinch jump, with the branches sticking out of it well over my head!! While walking we had a bit of a chuckle, "Haha, oh they obviously haven't trimmed this jump!!" And then a moment of "Oh...this is NICK we're talking about. Yeah, he's definitely not trimming this jump!!" Lol. Sunny had a bit of a weird look at it as we approached it on course but didn't think twice about jumping through!

We had a bit of a gallop in the field before turning and gunning it up a steep slope to 21, the park bench, and right after was 22, the hole in the wall. Then next was the BFL!!!! It was a option for my division, and only 4 of us did it! I gathered Sunny up a bit but kept on galloping, and she flew over it and down the hill. Had to weave a bit through the trees and our next compulsory flags, over 24 a small skinny long which was no problem.

25 was a big ramp and 2 strides to a chevron, which rode well. Then a long gallop to 26, and then 27 was suicide hill! We had a smaller jump in the fence line and then 2 strides before they headed down the crazy steep long downhill slope! I should've brought Sunny back just a titch more before the jump, she jumped quite forward over it and then I definitely tipped forward on landing as she geared down, and again was lucky I managed to plant both hands on her mane to keep me from nose diving right off the front!! Sunny proceeded to TROT down this crazy ass hill, and I just gave her a loose rein and let her go!

Galloped over the final jump and across the finish line, and there were NO other horses or riders there!! Found out later nearly half our division got eliminated! I checked my watch and knew I would have time penalties, but it was kind of crazy that I was the third fastest in my division, aside from Ali and Tosca, who are Nick's wife and daughter, and that was their home turf so obviously they had a big advantage knowing the footing better than everyone else. I felt that I had gone at a pretty good pace for the weather, Sunny is naturally quick and really sure footed, so I kind of let her choose her own speed in a lot of places, but I wouldn't have wanted to go any faster for sure.

The trakehner.

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Galloping in such a better balance!! Not head super low and front end down!

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Helmet Cam!!

Was pretty psyched when they posted the results and I had jumped from 13th to 5th!! I bathed Sunny and stood her in the creek for a while to ice her legs. Then Kris and I headed back out to watch the CCI* and training divisions on cross country. Saw Nick later and went up and gave him a big awkward hug and thanked him for making the FUNNEST cross country course ever!! Haha. I'm such a dork:)

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Did some more leg soaking in the creek before heading over to the indoor arena for the supper and dance. Had awesome food and a few drinks and lots of awesome visiting with people, it was fun!! We headed out around 10 to go to bed but the dance was getting pretty rowdy with lots of people dancing and boat races to finish off the keg.

Was up bright and early to get ready for stadium. The course they set looked good! Lots of turns and it was the old water complex, so not a ton of room and the course designer definitely used the terrain very well. Got to watch some of the training riders go on a slightly different track than I would ride, but it was riding well. Those who rode it forward and answered the terrain questions well had good rounds. Those who were tentative or didn't commit to their pace and lines had rails down or stops. I thought it was a great course to compliment the bold, forward thinking cross country we'd done the day before.

I felt my stadium round went well, with just a few minor bobbles. At the beginning of the course when I picked up the canter, I'm still learning how to ride "not crazy Sunny", so I came in a bit underpowered to the first fence and she I think she didn't really realize we were actually starting the course, and chipped in and punched out the top rail. I immediately reorganized and geared up a notch, and 2 and 3 rode well, and the triple combination at 4 was perfect as well. Then we did a tight circle back to 5, an oxer, and I basically didn't see a distance so I let Sunny do her thing, she took off long and jumped huge, and I saw up just a bit too quick and she just caught the back rail with her hind feet as she landed. 6, 7 and 8 rode great, and going down to 9 it was a long gallop on a downhill. I saw the long this time and Sunny launched over it. Then back around to 10AB, the one stride, clear through there. So I was pretty happy with that overall. It's all getting smoother and more organized for sure, definitely heading in the right direction!!

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Helmet Cam!!

Waited around for presentations, as I had stayed in 5th. They had lots of awesome prizes which was very cool, I got a super nice folding chair and a huge bag of horse treats. We collected our huge ribbon and did the victory gallop! Then we immediately started packing up to head home.

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The drive back took FOREVER, lol. Going there goes fairly quick for some reason, but the way back always seems to take AGES. We were packed and headed out around 2pm, got to Jenn's barn at 11:30pm to switch trailers and drop her off, got to my barn to unload Sunny at 1:30am, and then it was well after 2am by the time we got home. And Kris and I both had to be up at 6am to work the next morning. What a brutal day!! Lol. Oh well, it was worth it, I thought the event went great, aside from crappy dressage, ugh:P Someday we will get this silly dressage thing!!

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And I was on Eventing Nation!!! I had seen them post a few things about the event, so I figure I'd send in my helmet cam video just for shits and giggles. And they total posted it!! :D So exciting!

I am not quite sure where Sunny and I are going from here. I had been planning to do the 1 star at Rebecca Farms, but I needed 3 more qualifying scores before then to make it happen, I had hoped for Chase Creek, Aspen Farm (Washington) and Cochrane. And I didn't get the dressage score I needed at Chase, so still 3 short. My only options now are doing Beaumont, Aspen, and Cochrane, but with Beaumont and Aspen only a week apart, there is just no way I'm going to run my horse into the ground two weekends in a row, plus add 25 hours of trailering on top of it. That is just retarded. Yes, I spent a ton of money on this stupid FEI passport which was a huge pain in the ass and I want to use it, but I'm not willing to ruin my horse to do so. My life never goes as planned anyways so I'm pretty good at just going with the flow and I usually don't get upset when everything gets screwed right up, because it happens pretty often! Lol.

So I withdrew from Aspen. I thought about still going just because, but it's just so far and freaking expensive, and I need to get on finding a new jump saddle asap instead, because I have been very fortunate to have my barn lend me one for the time being, but I obviously can't borrow one forever! This weekend my barn is heading to the Paramount jumper show and we are going to do 1.20m there, my first ever, which should be super fun I had registered for the James Alliston clinic the same weekend as Aspen (June 14/15) so will go ahead with my original plan and do that. The Cochrane event is June 28/29, I haven't done that event for a few years, but apparently they've changed the cross country courses, so that will be a good "new" event for us this year. The weekend after Cochrane is a dressage schooling show which I am going to. Then we have a weekend off before we head down to Montana!

We are head down on July 18th, a week before the event, going to Herron Park to school cross country, and Sandra Donnelly is going to put on a dressage schooling day and a derby day there before the even as well, so it will be an excellent lead up. Just going to enter regular prelim at Rebecca, I will definitely be walking the cross country wishing so hard that I was running the CCI*, but I will get over it. So my new plan is to use this year to get the rest of the qualifying scores I need, hammer out some problems, and get Sunny's little physical issues sorted, nothing major, just some niggling chiro stuff we are working on. She is looking a lot better now, but a few weeks ago she definitely wouldn't have passed the jog! And get this stupid dressage thing hopefully sorted and presentable once and for all, and challenge ourselves a bit more with the stadium.

Basically get everything prepped and ready so I can come out next year and have everything I need to go back to California, maybe do a 1 star, and move up to Intermediate!! Just need to find somewhere to go down there where I can work off my lessons and board. I'm going to save as much money as I can, but if I can set myself something up to work off some of my horse/daily expenses, that would be awesome. So the research begins, haha. I want to go down for as long as possible too next year. I can be in the US for 6 months without needing anything special, so we'll see what I can arrange and figure out with what I can save between now and then!!