Monday, 30 December 2013

5 Day Challenge Day 5

21. Favorite classes to watch

Of course I love watching cross country. I don't go to that many other shows outside of events though, but when I'm bored I'll youtube all sorts of things. My first pick is intermediate and advanced cross country, buzzterbrown's channel on youtube is my go to, he takes absolutely amazing cross country footage and I love seeing all the different courses down in the states. I also love watching hunter and jumper derbies, the courses look like so much fun. Another thing I like to watch is hunter work offs. Some of those horses and riders are amazingly talented and make everything look easy.

22. What’s in your cooler at horse shows?

Lots of ice water! I also stock up on coconut water (my like clockwork horse show headaches are totally gone since I've started drinking it!!), mandarin orange cups, swiss babybels, and granola bars. Depending on the event, they are the one time I will have energy drinks. Just because I don't sleep worth a crap away from home, and events in general mean really late nights and super early mornings, and it's nice to not be nodding off mid afternoon when I need to get out and walk cross country!

23. One thing about showing (or riding in general) you wish you could change?

Of course we all would love if it was a bit more affordable! But if you want it bad enough, you'll make it happen, it's all about priorities and it's different for everyone of course. I find it very interesting watching the younger eventing crowd over the years, which ones sell the horse as soon as mommy and daddy stop paying for it, those who plug along through school and still do the odd event here and there, and the ones who come back to it later in life. It's a very interesting dynamic that I find fascinating.

24. Your ringside crew

My amazing bf Kris is always there, rain, snow or shine, camera in hand! And I can't thank him enough for all his support and everything he does. I am incredibly lucky to have a bf that is not only interested in the horse side of things, but insists on coming with me on most of my horsie outings.

I am a very independent person when it comes to shows and horses in general, for a long time I would only go to events by myself, it was way easier just having only myself to worry about, and not having to entertain/babysit others! But the past few years I have found a few eventing friends that I regularly hook up with at events/clinics, etc. My friend Jenn, who is an amazing rider and coach, we compete alongside each other at prelim, and have similar goals for the next couple years.

Also my friend Erica ( We initially met online a few years ago (I like to refer to these as my creepy internet friends, haha) and I introduced her to the eventing scene here in Alberta. She lives very far away in an isolated part of the province, so visits are few and far between, but we get along great and have lots of fun when we are together. It's been fun to see her and her horse progress even just from the little bit of eventing they've been able to do so far on their journey together. We also both have a thirst for knowledge so we are forever sitting down "together", despite our distance, to watch jumping at Spruce Meadows, Rolex, or the Royal Winter fair online or on tv, and facebook messaging back and forth discussing it for hours.

25. Best prizes.

I'm not too picky, I always love ribbons because they are usually few and far between at events. I would never turn down any sort of prizes though, and would love to add some Back On Track stuff to my tack locker!

Monday, 23 December 2013

5 Day Challenge Day 4

16. One thing you’d like to change about your horse

If Sunny were just a *little* bit taller! When I was horse shopping I didn't really have a certain height requirement, and I'm very glad for that now because if I had, I might not have even bothered to go look at Sunny. I was definitely hoping to find something taller than Sabre, who is maybe all of 14.2hh in his barely a horse glory. Sunny's ad said 16.1, which she very obviously is nowhere near, maybe it was a typo? But she was bigger than Sabre and that was all I cared about!

I've only just started to run into a bit of the height issue now that I finally have a dressage saddle, at proper dressage length stirrups I end up not having much of my leg actually ON her at all. My legs don't dangle way below her belly though, it's just the way her ribs are sprung.

17. Your horse’s future

Well we are currently running prelim and I don't feel like Sunny is struggling or near her limit in any way yet. She skips over all the jumps no problem, any jumping issues we've had have pretty much all been me, basically the bigger or more technical things get, the better she jumps! While the dressage is more difficult than jumping for us, it just means we need to work all that much harder on it! Honestly, I know we are never going to win the dressage, but we can certainly aim to put in a presentable and accurate test.

Goals for the next year include doing a one star, and ultimately we'd like to move up to intermediate somewhere along the way.

We are still working on plans for 2014, but it is shaping up to be a VERY exciting year, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for us!

18. Your worst show ever

Getting eliminated for dangerous riding at an event several years ago. It was back when I was struggling a LOT with Sunny, and while I don't think the situation was wholly unfounded, I still feel somewhat like they were just looking to make an example of me, and that the ground jury and others involved were extremely unprofessional and frankly a bit cruel with the way they handed things. That disappointed me a LOT. Sunny and I were having a lot of difficulties at the time, and it wasn't WHAT they were saying, because honestly I did agree with a good chunk of it, it was more HOW they said it that was the problem. There are ways to handle issues, and that includes being tactful and professional throughout. Neither of which were present in my situation unfortunately. Thank god I have fairly thick skin, I don't think that some other people would have been able to bounce back from something like that, and I can honestly say it was one of the most awful and humiliating things that has ever happened to me. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

I have a link to a different blog of mine that has a pretty detailed account of the whole situation, I have made it public for a short time and if anyone would like to read please comment here then email me at and let me know who you are and I will send you the link. I don't feel comfortable posting it for the whole world to see.

19. Favorite horse show venue

Hmmm. This one is a bit tough. I guess I would have to pick Chase Creek, because even though I have never done an actual event there, it is one of my favorites places. They have so many jumps and fun things for all levels to school over, the clinics there are just amazing. I also love having the creek right there as well to soak legs after a ride. The fact that it's situated in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been is definitely a plus, it's seriously like heaven out there. I am so excited they are bringing back the event next year, I am aiming to do the 1 star there, and I know the cross country course will be AMAZING and so much fun! I can't wait!!

I guess Evergreen Park up in Grande Prairie would be another top pick of mine. They have lots of space, variety and terrain in their cross country course. It's one of the few places we have ACTUAL covered stalls for stabling instead of makeshift pens in a field. The clinic/event there is always a fun week for camping and riding, so much room to hand walk/hack/graze the horses and we always have a blast Riding on the racetrack is always a highlight for Sunny and I! The only downside is that it's so far away:P

20. Your show day routine

For a 2 day (Saturday/Sunday) event, we ship out Friday evening, so I start my main prep on the Thursday. I ride, bathe then braid! I am lucky that Sunny does not mess with her braids at all, and I show sheen her white leg markings as mentioned in my last post so any possible poo stains or mud will brush right off. I blanket to make sure she stays (mostly) clean. Then I will load my car or trailer and have everything ready to go thursday night. Friday after work, I load Sunny and go. Get to the event, set up the stall, settle in, and usually have a short dressage school. Having everything ready a day in advance leaves me with basically nothing to do after I ride besides pick up my show package, feed Sunny, maybe take a look at some of my cross country course, help out my friends, and then have a few drinks and just chill.

Usually we have dressage at 8 or 9am Saturday morning (prelim always goes first both), so I'm usually up around 5. I will feed, throw Sunny's BOT back warmer on, and take her for a walk to stretch her legs and let her eat some grass. Let her finish her breakfast and I will grab myself a quick bite. Then I'll clean my tack, get everything out and organized so I can tack up and be on roughly an hour prior to my dressage time. After dressage we usually have a couple hours before stadium, so we'll put the horses away, chill for a bit, before tacking up again and heading over to walk our course. After stadium is time for walking cross country (twice!), watching friends ride, photographing, etc. Will take Sunny out for another handwalk & graze or two before putting her to bed.

The Sunday is a bit simpler, I don't have to get up as early! Feed Sunny, quick hand walk, then start booting up for cross country! Tack up, be on about half an hour before my time. Then afterwards we will cool out the horses, wait around for results or to watch friends ride or take photos. Clean stalls and load up, and go home. Pretty simple:)

Friday, 20 December 2013

5 Day Challenge Day 3

11. Critique your horse’s conformation

At first glance, Sunny doesn't look like your typical eventer. The first thing you notice is that she is LONG. People are shocked when they find out this little 15.1hh girl rocks a size 80 blanket.

Ideally if you separated a horse into 3 sections, forequarter, back, and hindquarter, a balanced horse would have 3 equal sections. Here you can very easily see with the green lines this is NOT the case with Sunny! Her long back is by far her weakest characteristic. She finds it difficult to really lift her back and step under herself, tracking up under saddle is a challenge, partly because her hind end is just so dang far away from the front!

The LS joint should be placed directly over the point of hip for optimal hind end strength transfer and carrying power, but Sunny's is set slightly to the rear. She is also very wasp waisted, which combined with her long back, makes her have a weak loin coupling, further hindering her drive and power from the rear. It's not a big surprise that dressage is our weakest phase!

Now on to some positives. She has short cannons, flat knees, her legs overall are pretty good. Nice and straight, from both the front and the side. Pasterns are maybe just a tad short but angled nicely. She is standing a bit funky behind in this photo so it's not the best representation of her hind legs. From the point of hip to point of buttock to stifle, those sides of the black triangle are fairly equal, which will allow her to compress her hind end well for jumping. Her stifle is nice and low and placed well away from her body, which gives her scope to clear height as well as width.

Sunny has a large shoulder with a decent slope to it. Her humerus is on the longer side and nicely angled. This is where her killer front end over fences comes from. She has tons of mobility in her front limbs to roll her shoulder blade back and swing those knees up and forward. Her elbow is set well away from her body, which will not limit her front limb mobility.

Despite her level topline, Sunny is built slightly downhill. Her stifle sits slightly higher than her elbow, shown by the yellow line, and while the black line drawn upward through her front end does come out in front of her withers, it still shows a lot of Sunny front end in front of that line, which causes her to travel heavier on the forehand. Her neck is very long which makes it easier for her to use it as a counter balance while jumping, but makes it harder to keep her straight on the flat. Her neck also ties in low which also weights the front end more and will limit her ability to carry her head and neck in a higher level dressage type of collection.

Sunny is far from the perfect specimen, but despite her obvious shortcomings, she does have a lot of good things going for her. I'm sure her huge heart plays a large role in overcoming her weakness as well. I am proud to say that despite her sort of mish mashed looking conformation, she has always been sound and has not yet needed any sort of maintenance.

12. Horse’s favorite riding exercise

Variety is definitely the spice of life for Sunny! By far she enjoys jumping the most, but since we can't jump every day, I try to mix things up as much as I can to keep her from getting bored. She seems to enjoy anything new or different, whether it's pole work, hacking out, conditioning work, etc. Even in our flat work I keep things varied and interesting, lots of transitions and different movements and figures, and I like using poles during our flat rides too. Sunny is the kind of horse that can apply herself and has an incredible work ethic, but you HAVE to keep her busy or else she makes her own party!

13. Favorite spa day products

Sunny very rarely gets an actual bathing, I'm more a fan of just a quick hosing off with plain water after a ride instead. Before a show I'll usually hose her off well and do a quick shampoo of what little white she has on her legs. Show sheen is my go to product for sure. I'll show sheen her tail a couple of days before a show and then just braid it. Then go to the show, unbraid, finger comb, and voila! I'll also show sheen her white leg markings after I shampoo them, that works like a darn for any dirt or poo stains she might get during the show, the markings stay slick so that everything brushes right off.

14. Three best things about your horse

Sunny is ridiculous honest while jumping. If there is any possible way she can get over the fence, she will absolutely do it, even if it's not conventional or pretty. She tries SO HARD for me all the time, even when I'm riding like crap and definitely don't deserve it! I have had horrendous stadium rounds where I wasn't on my game at all and was just burying her so deep to everything, and instead of just stopping like I know so many horses would, she still bailed my ass out, no questions asked. Her heart is absolutely huge, and I think that is what I love the most about her. She definitely trusts me, and would do pretty much anything I asked, and I am so grateful for that, and extremely careful with it as well.

She really steps up to the plate. Nothing phases her. Well, I shouldn't say that exactly, because she *can* get worked up very easily! Simple things like a bunch of canter poles on the ground can really blow her mind sometimes, it's hilarious. But the things you *think* would typically bother a horse, like having a super awkward jump or crashing through a fence, misreading a cross country fence and almost wearing it as a hat, or us just having a unfortunate moment while schooling where I have a nasty fall, those are the times where Sunny really puts on her big girl panties and really rises to the occasion. She doesn't get frazzled or anxious. I can come back around to the same question where we had problems, and she goes right back at it like a tiger, just as determined as I am to nail it and get it right, with no thoughts to whatever happened moments before. She gives me so much confidence that way, she really buckles down when it counts.

She's not malicious. Some people would automatically assume differently seeing her spaz out and bolt and buck under saddle, but none of it she does to get me off or deliberately try to hurt me. That's the difference. I have ridden horses that wait for you to let your guard down and then will let out a huge buck or slam on the brakes at a fence for no reason, or crow hop or rear because they don't want to work. Years ago, as favor to a friend, I was riding their horse who had learned to curl and slowly duck behind the contact, slam on the brakes, drop his shoulder and spin during rides to try get you off. It was definitely a man made habit, and made me angry every time this horse would try it. I was able to break the horse of the habit after a few rides, but as soon as the owner got on, the horse was instantly back to its old ways. One of those situations where I just had to cut my losses, as the owner wasn't willing to change anything in their riding. THAT kind of stuff I can not stand, just your typical spoiled horse stuff. Shenanigans I can deal with, no problem. When a person has caused a problem I'm a less forgiving. With Sunny it's different. Sunny is Sunny and is going to do her thing regardless, whether it's letting out a celebratory buck in the middle of a dressage test or jumping 1.15m like it's 1.30m. If I can't stay with her, that's MY problem, not hers!!

On the ground is another story, as she can definitely put on a mean bitch face and will test people she doesn't know. I know she would never bite *me*, she knows better, but I can't say that she would be the same with someone else.

15. Favorite picture of your horse

This is still one of my favorites, from last summer. Our first double clear prelim and we ROCKED it!! That chevron was huge as well, almost 5 feet with that brush on it.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

5 Day Challenge Day 2

6. Favorite equestrian book and movie

It took me a good hour of googling to find the books I was thinking of! I had a couple books from the 80's, the Blue Ribbon Series by Chris St. John, back when I was younger, and absolutely LOVED them!! Eventing books were (and still are!) fairly hard to come by, and I liked how these ones didn't have as much silly teenage fluff as a lot of the other books I've read. Would love to track down the whole series!

Another of my current favorites is Finding My Distance-A Year in the Life of a Three Day Event Rider by Julia Wendell. It leaves out nothing, you go through all the ups and downs, victories and hardships right along with her, I really enjoyed it. I've been lending this one to all my horsey friends!

There is one more book that I had as a kid and I have googled and googled and can't for the life of me remember the name! It's also an old eventing novel, a girl and her horse go to a big event after coming back from an accident where her and her horse crashed on a fence at the bottom of a steep hill, one of the guys on the farm had bet her that she couldn't do it or something along those lines. Anyways, the book covers pretty much the whole time she is at this event, and they do well if I remember correctly, even conquering the scary 3 fence combination on cross country set on a steep downhill. If this is ringing a bell for anyone I would love if you let me in on it, haha. Another book I would love to track down again!

ETA: THANK YOU DAWN!!!! It was Three Day Challenge by Joan Weir, also later published under the name Storm Rider.

As far as movies go, Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken is definitely up there, along with Sylvester.

7. Most common riding misconceptions

The most obvious one is that "the horse does all the work." Which we all know is FAR from the truth! The other that bugs me is the assumption that anyone who has horses is rich. I've had some very odd/borderline offensive questions from non-horse people about the cost of horse things as well as my personal finances. I find it very funny how some find it appropriate to ask a perfect stranger personal questions about their spending and financial situation!

Also the questions "How much money do you make eventing?" (Um, none.) Always so predictably followed by: "Then why do you do it?" There's basically no chance in hell of explaining this in any sort of sufficient way to someone that's not a horse person.

8. 2 riding strengths and 1 riding weaknesses

One of my strengths is being able to step back and look at things objectively while riding. Most specifically when things go pear shaped. If I fall off or something goes wrong, instead of getting upset or scared I go "Well A, B and C went wrong, and I should have did X, Y and Z instead, so I'm getting right back on to fix that immediately!" I've had some things happen while I'm riding which I'm sure would scare the crap out of a lot of people, but for some reason I can easily push the emotional stuff aside and just carry on.

I guess I could call it a strength, my ability to just go with the flow. I see many riders, especially when jumping, get all flustered and upset if the slightest thing goes wrong or their horse blows a lead or gets an awkward distance in a combination, they will just stop or circle instead of working through and/or correcting the problem. Not everything is going to be perfect everywhere, especially in the show ring, so I think it's very important to be able to push through and just ride what you have at that moment, whether it's ideal or not.

A weakness could be that I don't see distances to jumps very well sometimes. That would be totally fine if I just sat up and rode whatever the horse gives me, but I for some reason I have this annoying habit of tipping my upper body forward when I don't see the distance. This sometimes results in my flailing around in a very awkward and ineffective way, and on occasion I will flail myself clean off the horse, which usually results in some fantastic photos! Definitely not ideal, especially on cross country where the back seat is the place to be!! But I'm working on it!

9. Least favorite thing about horses and/or riding

The financial aspect can be difficult at time. But that comes with the territory, you do what you gotta do, and I know many can relate! I am forever wearing my own jeans until they fall apart, or pushing back getting an oil change on the car because Sunny needs the chiropractor or a new blanket. It's all about priorities, and it can very hard to balance everything sometimes!

10. What do you feed your horse?

My current barn is one of the first places I have boarded where the barn takes care of the feed, not me. I've boarded at many places over the years and have gotten horribly anal about what my horses eat. I just shudder when I think about some places I've been over the years that feed sweet feed only or give all the horses the same scoop of feed twice a day regardless of whether they need it or not!!

Sunny gets free choice hay, timothy with a bit of alfalfa. The barn provides a high fat high fibre complete pellet, and I feed Sunny myself after I ride. Through the winter she basically gets as much pellet as she'll eat after I ride (1 1/2-2 scoops). She stays a bit on the thin side naturally, and I work her fairly hard year round, so we want to gain or maintain over the winter, not lose weight. Otherwise she usually gets about 1/2 scoop a day. No regular supplements at this time.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

5 Day Challenge Day 1

Going to do a few different things on here so I can keep up with posting! Saw this on a friend's blog and thought it looked fun! No guarantee I will keep up with the 5 days straight thing, but I can try! :)

Day 1

1. Most influential person on your riding

This is a tough question! I didn't have the typical horse experience growing up, I have always been and still am very much a "do it yourself" kind of person, I learned how to ride by reading tons of books and trial and error. I never had that one instructor who I was with forever who helped mold and shape me into the rider I am today. Other than a handful of jumping lessons one spring back when I was about 12, and the very odd coached ride on a random horse here and there, I never really had any sort of actual formal lessons until I attended Olds College in 2003, I was 20. I guess I couldn't have been doing that badly for myself because I was one of the 10 students they chose for the program, but very often I find myself looking at kids and teens and I think "Gosh, imagine how much farther along I would be in my riding if I had had good (heck, ANY!) regular instruction when I was younger!"

I am a big fan of clinics, and I'd have to say that Sandy Alexander has had the biggest impact on my riding, although I definitely don't get to ride with him anywhere near as often as I'd like! He has an amazing natural intuition, I have never met anyone who can watch you ride for 10 minutes and instantly know everything about you. He's very honest and blunt, sometimes to the point some would consider rudeness, and has been known to make riders shed a few tears, but he is 100% bang on about everything he says and does not apologize for it.

Sandy is huge into the psychology side of things as well, he merges both the mental and physical sides of riding and really holds riders accountable for everything. When riding with him you can count on the fact that he will cover ALL the bases, he will go deeper and quickly discover your weaknesses and shortcomings, and help you to improve them. He will break you down and then build you back up, in the best way possible.

I find him very similar in teaching style to George Morris, who I have not yet had the honor of riding with, but someday I hope I do! Both are very honest and blunt, but if you are open and have truly come to learn and try hard, you will walk away with far more knowledge gained than you ever thought possible.

2. Piece of tack you’d love to splurge on

A custom jumping/cross country saddle would no doubt be at the top of my list, but is definitely not in the cards at the moment. Staying a little more practical, a Back On Track mesh sheet will be my next splurge for sure. I have the quick wraps and back warmer for Sunny, and she absolutely loves them, the back warmer works absolute wonders for her tight muscles and has improved her cold back so much. I think she would definitely benefit a lot from a full blanket as well.

3. Top 5 riding playlist

I'm probably a bit behind on this trend. I have never been one of those people who puts on headphones to do things. At home when I'm by myself I'll throw on headphones every once in awhile, but in public it makes me very uncomfortable to be cut off from everything going on around me. I've had a jogger wearing headphones totally unaware run out of a driveway in the country onto the road directly in front of my car, and thank god I managed to narrowly miss her, and she didn't even notice what had happened until I was already half in the ditch and had already passed her by.

There is always a radio playing in the barn though, on various random stations, and certain songs do help me get into a better rhythm while trotting or cantering.

I must add that one of my dreams has always been to compete in the indoor eventing at the Royal Winter Fair, and now with the Royal West starting up in 2014, it's looking like that could possibly be less of a dream and more of a reality! If I ever get the chance to do it, and I know that they usually just play random music during the rides, it would absolutely make my day if they played Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO while I ride:)

4. Most important aspect of your barn?

I will admit that I was a barn hopper for a lot of years. There was a few reasons for it, the main one was that I was (and still am) very much a rider on a budget. I would go to a barn with a indoor arena for the winter, then do self-board somewhere cheaper for the summer. I also never found a real barn that I connected with and actually enjoyed. Many places I've boarded at over the years were the typical barns you hear about, crazy owner/boarders, drama, sub par care, etc. They were fine for a few months but nowhere I had any desire to stay long term. Then I went to my current barn.

Again it was supposed to be just for the winter, but this place was different. Everyone was so helpful and friendly. They really welcomed me in, the lone eventer in a barn of jumpers. I got along great with the BO/coach there, which was surprising after having some bad experiences with a few different instructors. I didn't go to this barn looking for a regular coach, just a place to ride for the winter, so that was a plus. Everything just fit. Sunny seemed a LOT happier there too, she was far more relaxed than she'd been at any previous places. And then when spring came, the time when I would've moved for the summer came and went, and leaving never even crossed my mind.

So definitely the most important aspect is the team atmosphere and camaraderie between everyone. I'd never been in a lesson where the other students were encouraging and cheering you on, and celebrating the little things right alongside you. The great care is definitely a plus as well, the farrier at the barn is fabulous, Sunny has never thrown a shoe after moving there! There are a few things that I wish for here and there, like more space to ride outside the ring for conditioning and trails for hacking, but there are more positives than negatives so I make do!

5. Three winter riding goals

1. Be able to sit the trot *well*. (And ultimately be able to sit a whole dressage test!)

2. Conquer haunches in and perfect our shoulder in, then start half pass.

3. Really get comfortable jumping up to 1.20m. (Riding Sunny's BIG jump!)

And just dressage in general. This is all to go with my goal of moving up to Intermediate in 2014. We have a long ways to go and a lot of things will have to go right for us to get there, but it's all a lot of baby steps along the way!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

The Rest Of The Summer...The Condensed Version!

I feel terrible for neglecting this blog! The year always starts out well, I am great about keeping up and posting regularly, and then it all goes to crap partway through, when things get REALLY busy! I'm just so darn busy! Oh well, we can always strive to improve that, anyways, haha.

I wanted to post about how Sunny's chiropractor appointment went, but then I realized that I would need to also post about how parts of our summer went, and the issues we'd been having, in order to fully appreciate/understand the chiro stuff! Lol.

Geez, where to even start? I guess if I look at the big picture, I am really happy overall and with the progress we made, from the beginning of the season to the end.

Dressage was MUCH improved this year, we are finally getting the relaxation I have been working so hard for, and now we are starting to be able to really tweak and improve everything else. Sucks because our best test by far was at the South Peace Event, and our dressage judge happened to be the extra angry one that gave me crap for whacking Sunny with my reins at Beaumont when she WOULD. NOT. HALT. So this dressage judge already had a sour taste in her mouth about Sunny and I from the get go, plus she marks pretty hard anyways, so we ended up near the bottom of the pack. But that's just how things go sometimes, and it was rather surprising at the Alhambra Fall Event, Sunny felt super stiff and resistant during our test, and I wasn't happy with it at ALL. But because of our new found relaxation, we ended up not dead last like I'd expected, but mid pack, with all of the scores fairly close! This dressage thing is opening up into a whole new world now that things are finally coming together!

Stadium started out a little rocky this year, almost every event I would have that *one* moment, everything else would be great except for that one fence Sunny would absolutely launch out of nowhere like it was 1.30m, nearly jumping me right off, and I would be hanging half off and have to do an emergency circle to recompose myself, thus incurring 4 more faults and a bunch of time penalties, and then carry on. That started to get pretty embarrassing, it's not fun to nearly eat shit every time I enter the ring! I am happy to report that by the fall event, we had gotten ourselves together and had a FANTASTIC round with only 4 faults, and just a minor screwup at the swedish oxer where I took off long but Sunny added the stride (GOOD GIRL!! We need to ALWAYS add the stride if in doubt!) but she saved my butt and made it over clean. Our one rail was the first fence of a one stride vertical combination, I just had a tad too much horse coming in, I should've balanced back just a bit more and we would have had it. Regardless, I was SO FREAKING HAPPY with my round, here is the helmet cam, and you can hear my excitement at the end:)

Cross country this year was pretty fabulous overall. We had a few great clinics, Chase Creek was absolutely amazing as always, Leslie Law was fantastic and he commented on how far Sunny and I have come in the past few years, and up at South Peace with Sandra Donnelly we made all the Intermediate stuff our bitch and Sunny didn't put a single foot wrong the whole time!

On course for cross country 95% of the time she was pretty awesome. She was bold, brave and forward. I ended up having 3 run outs this year though, which is kind of crazy because Sunny DOES NOT STOP. She never says no, if she can physically get over the fence, she will do it. So our first run out was at the Rocky Event, I had posted the helmet cam of that way back when. It was the big wide skinny table after the long steep gallop up the hill, and I just didn't get her lined up properly so she ran out to the right, that one I took credit for, I felt like I had definitely dropped the ball as a pilot, and didn't give her much of a fighting chance to jump it. Alhambra Summer event was the second run out, at the big green and yellow corner, we had the point to the right, and she ran out to the right again. At the time I thought it was my fault again, I felt like hadn't lined her up quite well enough and could've balanced back quite a bit more on the approach, but watching the helmet cam later, my line ended up looking half decent, and the distance looked ok, so I kind of chalked it up to just shitty luck, and vowed to really work on corners and holding my line going forward.

Here is my helmet cam from the summer event, with a few notable moments!

2:20 is one of her famous launches, almost popping me right off, hence the "Holy Shit!", which is hilariously becoming one of my signature phrases while jumping, lol. Thank god she just goes straight on landing, that's all I can say!! 3:30 is the run out at the corner, and 6:05 is an amazing example of Sunny's usual "never say no" attitude, the wagon AB combo distance walked majorly funky, and Sunny made the executive decision mid-jump to make it a forward one stride instead of short bending 2 like I had planned. You can see from the way it was set up that the run out to the right would have been WAY easier than the awkward jump over the B element, so she gets major major awesomeness points for that.

The third run out was at South Peace, which surprised me because we had such an awesome clinic there right before the event. We were having a fantastic round (minus the amazingly huge long spot at the first fence!), I made the huge 5ABC bank combination my bitch, tons of people had trouble there, and nailed the first water where there was many stops and problems too. Sunny was being super forward so we had a bit of a trip up the bounce banks, but carried one just fine. Jumped the first smaller left facing corner great at 3:10, and then we had an AB combination a few fences later, a big ramp, bending left to a right pointing corner 5 strides away at 4:10. out to the right again! Circled and represented, and she jumped it, and we went on to absolutely rock the 16ABCD water combo, and then the coffin right after, both caused problems for others as well. So all the hard stuff we absolutely ROCKED, and the stupid corner caught us again:P

Another problem we started having this year was drifting left. It would only show up every so often, but I remember at Rocky I kicked about 4 flags with my left foot throughout our cross country course. So at the summer event on XC, I carried my crop in my left hand, thinking it might fix the left drift, but we ran out right:P And even last year, I remember the odd drift left, nothing too major though. Well this year it definitely got worse at things progressed. Lots of times schooling she'd be drifting slightly left through lines and combinations, and I know my left is my weaker side so I figured it was a combination of both of us. The most dramatic example of it was at the summer Alhambra event, Sunny jumped so hard to the left over fence 1 in stadium, I didn't just kick the standard with the toe of my boot, I nailed it SO HARD with my shin and took the whole god damn thing down. Ended up with a pretty wicked bone bruise that still bugged me several months later. We managed to get it together for the rest of the course, and aside from the entire jump I took down, (Sunny didn't touch it!) we pulled out a decent round, only taking down the back rail of a max height oxer set on a short funky uphill turn, mostly because she jumped me off again over fence 4, and the huge oxer was fence 5 and I just didn't quite get it together again. :P At this time I was like "Can I seriously just keep things together for just ONE whole stadium round?? Just one!!" Really, there was always SOMETHING that happened:P

And then that brings us to our slightly premature end to our season. After having a decent dressage and our awesome stadium at the fall event, I was super psyched because we were sitting 3rd in the Championships and 7th overall before xc. And then we did this:

It was totally the shadow, Sunny just misread the jump and didn't realize it was an oxer until she was already in the air, and BAM, she managed to get her front end over but caught her back half on the back rail. Thank god she is catty as hell and didn't go down, I have seen horses go down for much less of a reason! She bolted to keep going but I could feel she wasn't right on her left hind so I immediately pulled her up and retired. Got her back to the stall and checked her over, she had bashed her left stifle and scraped it up a little bit, her back boots were all torn up, and had obtained wind puffs on her right front fetlock, but surprisingly she was no worse for wear, considering she'd almost wore a fence as a hat.

I iced her stifle immediately after I untacked her, Sunny was SO PISSED, I had a big ziploc bag of ice, and I was holding it on her stifle and freezing my hands, I iced her on and off for an hour and a half right after. Sunny was so angry, she kept swinging her head around to bite me, the bitch, haha. Her stifle was pretty swollen when we got back to the barn after the event, so we had a few days of cold hosing and wrapping, and just a few days later she was having a party galloping like a crazy horse around her huge pasture, so I figured she couldn't be THAT broken. Got on her 6 days later for a hack, and she felt alright. Super stiff through her neck and back, but sound.

Here's some pics. Thank god for porter boots!!  photo

Stifle immediately after.  photo

Redneck icing party, haha.  photo

Swollen stifle later that day when we arrived home.  photo

Video stills from my helmet cam.  photo

For the following couple weeks I was just lunging lightly and hacking, she was sound but just super stiff and just felt like shit. So I basically just western ponied around on a loose rein, but wanted to keep her somewhat working. Here's a quick photo I snapped on one of our lunging days.  photo

A few weeks after our last event, Sunny's chiro appointment was finally upon us! I was using a new chiropractor, who had adjusted my friend's horse and done just a fabulous job, what a difference! She showed up so I told her a bit about Sunny and what happened, and also about the drifting and run outs we'd had this summer, and walked her so she could have a look at Sunny's movement. She was very patient with Sunny, who is not the most pleasant horse to be around some days (her and her chronic bitch face, lol) but Sunny is also very good because she let the chiropractor know about every single little thing!! Right off she found 3 subluxated ribs on Sunny's right side, right under the saddle, and one was twisted. Probably like a month ago I had came across this article: and I was positively HORRIFIED that Sunny had still been running and jumping and trucking along despite what was probably immense pain from those ribs!! So that definitely explains the left drift, and was probably a major factor in our run outs as well. Her pelvis was also twisted a bit, her atlas was majorly out, the left side was significantly more forward than the right, and her right shoulder was locked, along with both front pasterns. I couldn't believe all the cracking and popping in her pasterns while she gently adjusted and massaged them, it's not like she was yanking or forcing anything around either, it was amazing. I had been struggling all summer with square halts, and as we progressed through the appointment, Sunny was standing more and more square as we went!! Then at the end of the appointment I went to walk her down the aisle so she could look at her movement again, and what a difference!! Tons of overtrack and Sunny's sexy walk was back!! Loose, huge and a lovely swinging back, I was SOOOOO happy!!!

I gave her a few really easy loose rein rides after the appointment, then the Thursday after I actually worked her for the first time, and holy shit, what a difference! I gathered up the reins and everything was just soft like butter. I couldn't believe it. Sooooooo happy!! I really can't believe how good Sunny was this year, especially on the flat, despite all the shit she had going on. I feel really bad about that, but hindsight is always 20/20:P She obviously feels SO much better now, thank god. The mare has crazy heart, that's all I can say!!

I will be better about updating this thing, I promise;)

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Equi In Style Shirt Review

I promise I will be getting caught up on the rest of my summer soon, but I just wanted to share this with you guys!

It's not often I get the chance to try out new or different equestrian products.  Although I compete, I am not one of the lucky ones whose life is completely immersed in the horse world.  Add me to the long list of riders that are scraping by, we have the full time job, a home, family, pets, bills, etc, and then we try to budget some riding and competing in there as best we can.  I love to do lots of reading and research about the new and upcoming products in the horse world, the therapy products, blankets, new attire for horse and rider, the list goes on and on, but having to do all my horse stuff on a budget, it's mostly just window shopping and wishful thinking!  Which I'm sure a lot of riders can definitely relate to! 

When my friend Cobie at the amazing Equestrian Factory Outlet ( here in Red Deer contacted me about trying out a new shirt she had in stock, I was definitely up for the challenge.  It was the Equi In Style Stand Up Collar shirt, and after checking out their website ( and reading a little bit about their products, I was very excited!

Here are some of the brand's claims:

• Reduces Body Temperature by 5 Degrees
• Highest Level of Skin Protection – equivalent to SPF 50 UV protection
• Light Weight - Breathable               
• Moisture Wicking - Quick Drying
• Cooling Mesh Panels
Since I am a delicate Canadian girl, who starts to melt the moment the temperature starts to hit the mid 20's, (75 F for you Americans out there), I am forever stripping off layers and I literally live in short sleeves and shorts in the summer.  So these claims excited me.  I can honestly say I have never owned a long sleeve show shirt, and was a bit skeptical of that part because I couldn't imagine how a long sleeve shirt could possibly help keep me cooler in the summer.

The shirt pleasantly surprised me as soon as I took it out of the bag.  The fabric was light, I mean really light, but remained opaque even as I stretched it between my fingers.  Could this possibly be a show shirt I might not have to *always* wear a tank top under??  And I must say the photos on the website absolutely do not do this shirt justice, I was expecting something a little less formal, possibly more polo-y or something that looked more like a regular long sleeve shirt, but this was definitely a show shirt and a very nice one at that!

The first time I wore it was a great test of its cooling claims.  It was at our Alhambra Summer event, that runs over 3 days in the middle of August, which is typically our hottest month.  The weather was gorgeous, dry, sunny, and over 30 degrees each day.  As soon as I put the shirt on I couldn't believe how light and airy the shirt was, and the fabric was stretchy and very comfortable.  Even under my show jacket I could still feel an obvious cool "breeze" against my skin where the mesh was all along the arms.  I loved how long the sleeves were, and that perfect half inch of cuff stuck out of the bottom of my sleeve once I put my show jacket on!  Luckily my divisions went earlier in the day, but I usually am still frantically stripping off my hot and sweaty show clothes the moment I arrive back at the trailer after my rides.  I didn't even realize it until partway through the day, that I was still in my show shirt, long sleeves and all, while I was walking my cross country course!  I had several people comment over the weekend "Oh my god!  How are you wearing long sleeves?!"  The shirt honestly kept me far cooler than the short sleeved t-shirts I usually wear.  Needless to say, I was absolutely amazed that this little long sleeved thing kept me dry and cool all day in that heat!  I've worn the shirt at every other event I had this year.  There were a couple days with really cool weather where I had an early morning dressage time, and I wondered if I would be a bit chilly or feel drafty under my show jacket, but I was very comfortable.  Wearing it around I've received lots of questions and many compliments on it as well.

In short, I LOVE IT!!  And definitely would recommend them to anyone in the market for a great show shirt!

A few other things, I love the slightly textured fabric.  It stays clean very easily, dirt tends to brush right off instead of getting ground in.  Another plus is that there's no fancy laundry instructions, just throw in the washer and dryer, no fuss or extra effort required!  I've washed the shirt several times already, it had held up so great and still looks brand new.

As far as price, Equi In Style shirts are definitely a more affordable option compared to some of the competitors with similar products (Fits, etc).

Huge thanks to Cobie at Equestrian Factory Outlet for introducing me to such a great product. Everyone should check out her facebook page:

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Dressage Schooling Show - Success!!

Yesterday morning we headed out to Alhambra for their summer schooling show. They were doing dressage and jumpers yesterday, and hunters and a derby today. I just wanted some mileage in the dressage ring though, so we did 3 tests, eventing training #2, and 2 tests riding the eventing prelim test #2, since that's the one we're doing at the rest of the events this year.

Sunny was SO GOOD!! I knew something was up when I mounted up about an hour before our ride times, and went over for tack check, usually she FREAKS when they go to put a finger in her mouth to check the bit and will NOT stand still. But she just stood there on a loose rein and didn't move a muscle! Kris came out too, I had him armed with water and lots of treats. We did a very minimal warm up, she was being very good, nice and relaxed, so we did about 15 mins, and then we just chilled and I hacked her around a little bit, then I did another 5 or 10 mins right before we headed up to the ring. It was HOT out as well, so I didn't want to tire her out too much.

The training test was first. We ROCKED it! I haven't ridden that test in about a year and a half, but as soon as I started it, I remember why I loved it! Just a great test, lots of time in between all the movements, and it just flows really nice. I was shocked at how nice and relaxed Sunny was throughout the whole test. THIS IS WHAT I'VE BEEN WORKING SO HARD FOR!! I was SO happy!!

Had a few horses in between each of my tests which was nice. Both prelim tests rode really well for the most part. Sunny was so relaxed she was almost a little dull, but compare that to what she's usually like, hot and up and so over reactive to the point of explosion a lot of the time, having a bit dull was really nice!! Our lengthenings were extremely conservative, but she was being so good I wasn't going to kick or goose her and cause a tantrum. Same with our leg yield, she wasn't really crossing over like she usually does, so got some lower marks for those. Had a bit of tenseness in our canter, as you'll see in the videos, but she settled fairly quickly afterwards, so that was definitely an improvement over our bucking fits at Rocky for sure! Lol. But overall SO much better than the
previous events this year!!




Our enter down centerline got 8's on all 3 tests, we had all three halts at the end DEAD SQUARE, and got 8's for those as well! I couldn't believe it when I watched the videos, we literally NEVER have a square halt! Considering at Beaumont we basically did not even HAVE a halt at the end, I was pretty happy! Had a super free walk in 2 of the tests, 8's for that too, and a couple 8 for our trot in there as well! SO HAPPY GUYS OMFG!!!! I'm so glad I thought to bring treats, Sunny got some during our awesome warm up, and after each test as well, I was so thrilled with how good she was being! Our next event is at Alhambra in the same sand ring, so hopefully the positive reinforcement carries over for dressage there too:)

 The judge stopped me to talk after my last test. Said she really like our partnership, that Sunny was lovely (!!!!) and that we work extremely well together. Said I needed to use my half halts more, to better prepare and organize for transitions and they would become smoother and more relaxed. Also suggested to ask stronger and be more concise with the lengthenings, as they were all really conservative in all three tests. I mentioned that I was trying not to rock the boat too much because we are usually quite "exciting" in dressage, but was trying to find a happy medium, and she laughed and said she understood, and to keep working on it:) I was really happy overall with the judge's comments! For once I came away from dressage feeling really good about what we'd done, not upset or embarrassed or relieved to have just gotten it over with, and I was SO happy with Sunny and myself:)

 I picked up my tests as soon as they were ready but didn't stick around for placings or ribbons. That's not what I was there for, and it didn't matter anyways, all I wanted just some good positive rides in the ring. I got 64% on the training test, and 60% and 63% on the prelim tests!! Considering at Beaumont our horrible test was a 44% and Rocky was definitely better but still just a 56%, I was pretty thrilled!!



63% This test would have been super awesome had we not totally blown the simple change to right lead canter:P

 I still see a million things I want to fix with my position. I'm trying to not be *too* critical though because I know I have gotten lots better position wise than I was, say, a year ago, but there is *always* room for improvement!!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Thompson Country Horse Trials

Another event come and gone! This summer is going SO fast already:P I was super excited for this one because it didn't run last year, but is probably my favorite event in Alberta! It is gorgeous, an actual 3 day, and the cross country is tough and hilly, LOTS of fun! My parents were able to drive down to watch, so it was super awesome to see them:)

Dressage was Friday. They ran my division first thing in the morning again, but at least we started at 9am this time, not 8! We had a decent flat school Thursday night when we arrived, which was good. Our warm up was pretty good. Sunny was kind of randomly focusing, she'd be going lovely, then have a bit of a bucking fit, then go right back to work. Our test was decent! Trot work was MUCH improved since Beaumont. More relaxation overall as well! We even got 7's on our leg yields!! It's so sad, I get excited when I get 7's, where as more people are more excited about 8's, lol. I'll take it!! Canter work wasn't the greatest, Sunny decided to interlude with a few bucking fits in there, which I thought was hilarious. But she'd have a moment, then go right back to work, then have a moment, then go back to work. Instead of the whole test being like "AHHHHH WE'RE DOING A THING!!!!", it was kind of up and down, but it was BETTER!!! Had a lovely hunter like stretchy circle at the end, wish we would have had a bit more stretch down, but it was consistent on the circle where as she usually fusses a bit. And we HAD A HALT!!!! :D Yay!! So I was pretty happy overall, TONS better than at Beaumont!!  photo aDSC_9898.jpg  photo aDSC_9902.jpg  photo aDSC_9906-1.jpg Oh Sunny, lol.
  photo aDSC_9956.jpg I LOOOOOOVE this photo!!!  photo aDSC_9972.jpg  photo aDSC_9979.jpg
Walked our cross country course after dressage. It was big, long, twisty turny, TONS of terrain, and aside from the first couple fences, pretty much *nothing* was really straight forward or a gimme. Even most of the galloping fences were on an uphill or downhill, or on a bit of an angle, or pointing at a tree or into the bush, etc. Definitely our toughest test to date! It was going to require a TON of super accurate riding, and I was SO excited!!!!! :D

Check out the CourseWalk!

 Our run was pretty wicked!! I knew that if I rode well and accurately, Sunny would easily rise to the occasion! We started out alright, Sunny launched a crazy long spot at 2, so I really rode the deep distance for the next couple fences. Need to work on straightness though, she's starting to duck to the left really badly again, most pronounced when I ask her to add, as you'll see. Mostly just due to me being lazy about getting her totally straight because she's so god damn honest, and my left side is definitely weaker, so we'll have to work on that. Had a few awkward jumps in there, Sunny totally saved my ass a few times, like 12 and 13 where I basically didn't see anything for a distance and she took right over and got it done! The only real problem we had was fence 18, we had a long steep uphill gallop which was pretty much blind going up, and then a left turn, maybe 2 strides to a big wide table that was also a skinny. And we galloped up and I swung a bit too much to the right and didn't get the line and just didn't get the turn done. So we kind of blew by it:P Then I went to circle around to re-present, and I was like "Shit!! How the hell are we going to get over that??" Cuz it was big and on an awkward angle at the top of the hill, and there was basically no room to approach, so I circled around as best I could and trotted Sunny at it, threw the reins at her and clucked and was like "DEAR LORD PLEASE JUMP THIS!!" and she totally did!!! What a good girl, seriously!! Then carried on, the rest of the course was no problem, I was definitely getting tired towards the end though, you'll see on the videos when I kind of tip forward through the water:P That was just fatigue:P (Lots to work on before the next event, for both Sunny AND myself!) And I was galloping up to the last jump absolutely shocked and AMAZED that my watch was beeping down the last 10 seconds, WE TOTALLY MADE TIME!!!!!!!! :D I wasn't even pushing either, I just decided that I was going to just let Sunny cruise around. We were the only ones to make time, I was pretty happy about that!!

Super thrilled with our run overall, would have liked a do over at 18, but shit happens and it was totally my fault. just a few little things to work on there and we'll nail it next time! Everyone had a stop on course except 2 people. It was pretty crazy. Such a crazy awesome course, I LOVED it and it was such a blast to ride!!

 Only got a few photos of cross country, since it was mostly through the trees and stuff.  photo aDSC_9991.jpg  photo aDSC_0001.jpg  photo aDSC_0014.jpg Short video of us through the water, you can see me kind of tip forward right after the second fence:P And the helmet cam!!! Sorry for the yelling at those random people, I wasn't really in the mood to kill someone with my horse that day:P

I was a bit nervous for stadium, just because SOMETHING always seems to go wrong. The course looked fun though, and it was a blast to ride! It actually went REALLY well! In terms of relaxation and rideability, Sunny was spot on! She seemed just a touch tired, and didn't have her usual punch to her jump, but that was good in a way because she wasn't jumping me out of the tack for once!! Was one of those courses though where it seemed like everything everyone touched in the slightest, came down. So while I was really happy with the ride, we had several minor rubs, and they all came down:P Sunny definitely punched out the top plank of the last fence pretty good, but with all the rubs we ended up with a horrifying 5 rails down:P But everyone else had tons of rails too though, so it wasn't just me. So regardless of all the rails, I was happy! I was much more relaxed and actually riding too, so I felt a lot better about that as well.  photo aDSC_0031.jpg  photo aDSC_0033.jpg  photo aDSC_0036.jpg  photo aDSC_0043.jpg EVERYONE had the zebra jump down:P  photo aDSC_0046.jpg  photo aDSC_0050.jpg  photo C0CE5E1E-3413-41F6-A41A-B0FF8E100EDE-26585-00002ABB25DA9760.jpg Actual video, just ignore all those rails coming down:P
And the helmet cam.

Ribbon shots, haha.  photo aDSC_0111.jpg  photo E2143EA6-366C-431F-991E-2D47F3766EC1-26585-00002ABBC8266E8E.jpg

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Chase Creek Clinic-The Abbreviated Edition!

I'm bulk posting these photos and sharing the videos just because my life has been kinda crazy and I don't want to keep putting it off any longer. I will do a proper update on everything soon, I promise! I do have some fairly entertaining crash photos to post at a later date as well, as well as more of an actual write up on the clinic. It was amazing!!  photo aDSC_9386.jpg Day 1 was rainy so Kris just took videos.  The last 3 clips were from other days but it was just easier to put them all together.

Day 2...
Oh Sunny, always a fan of the long spot:P  photo aDSC_9311.jpg  photo aDSC_9315.jpg We did lots of work with skinnies during the clinic.  photo aDSC_9336.jpg  photo aDSC_9341.jpg  photo aDSC_9344.jpg  photo aDSC_9352.jpg  photo aDSC_9356.jpg  photo aDSC_9379.jpg
A few shots of Sunny and I in the creek.  Sunny LOVES the creek there.  I can stand her in it, throw the lead rope over her back and just walk away!  photo aDSC_9261.jpg  photo aDSC_9273.jpg Our humble setup.  photo aDSC_9282.jpg Mr Deer passed by for a quick visit!  photo aDSC_9288.jpg
This new bulk share capability on photobucket really is the shiznit though!

Anyways.  So in short it was super awesome and I didn't ever want to leave! They just announced that after 10 years of not running an event, they are finally running one there next spring on May long!! To do the CIC*, or CCI*? That is the question!!! :D