Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008 in Review

I came onto the computer intending to review 2008 in terms of horses and riding. Before I started this post however, I updated myself on some of my favourite blogs including The Eventing Percheron. It turns out that Daun has had the same idea as me. Check out her "The Year in Review" post because it really is amazing to see how far she has come.

I started off the year with my old horse Red. Good old Red. We had our problems but he taught me a lot (read: stickability). At our last ODE together Red finally clicked what Cross Country was all about and he was a hooning monster. I could barely control him, it was exhilirating (although I was swearing the whole time). A great way to end a ride on a beautiful horse.

Then I moved to Taumarunui where a lot happend. I started off riding the little pony called Ghost. After only a couple of rides with her, and had never jumped her in my life we competed at my first Pre-Training ODE. We came dead last in dressage and were eliminated in Cross Country but it was amazing.

Soon I moved on to the gorgeous Toby. He was fantastic and I spent many fun hours going for long rides on the farm with him (often bareback and without a helmet) by myself and with friends. I did my first real release on him.

Then it was back to Auckland where I decided to give riding a break but then couldn't handle not having a horse. I acquired an awesome horse who almost immediately went lame. Finally he is ready to go and I'm looking forward to a very succesful relationship with him.

Goals for 2008
  • Compete at Training Level - Well that didn't happen but I did compete at Pre-Training which was one level down.
  • Learn how to release - After years of not being able to release and having to hold onto the mane, I finally did it. It just happened one day.
  • Get Red to canter consistently on the right lead - He didn't canter consistently on the right lead but he did canter on the right lead in our last dressage test which is good enough for me.
  • Get fit - Well I went running on and off throughout the year but now I'm consistently doing it. My thighs, abs and arms are toning up beautifully.

Goals for 2009

  • Compete at Open Level
  • Compete at 1.10 Show Jumping
  • Compete at Pony Club North Island Show Jump Champs 2010 (its not 2009 but you qualify for it in 2009)
  • Compete at my first Horse Trial
Happy New Year to you all. I pray that you have an amazing year and that it will be your best one yet.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Photo Fun!

Dad came to take some pictures of Jack and I riding today. He has an awesome new camera and I wanted some good photographs of Jack and I since we don't have many decent ones.

We were going to get some jumping but Jack was acting up quite badly and I wasn't willing to risk it so here are a few dressage pics to show you. The colour photo is one of Jack doing his crazy thing. I'm not really sure if he is bucking or not but whatever it is, it is naughty.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Finding my canter

I've been getting up at 6.30 recently to go riding. I figure it is nicer for Jack to ride when its cooler since he attracts the sun so much, and it also means that I have the rest of the day to do whatever else is needed. If I ride in the afternoon it feels like my whole day has been taken up by Jack which really annoys me.

We're mostly doing fitness work at the moment. A little bit of trotting and cantering with lots of long walk breaks in-between. Yesterday I took him into the arena for the first time since the accident. There was no spooking and no silly business. I don't know what set him off on Monday. My good friend was watching and she says Jack's trot has improved at lot (YUS!). Instead of his mincing little steps he doing much bigger ones.

Today after a good long warm up in one of the paddocks I took him into the arena again to start some schooling. He has no clue what leg-yield is so we started off with lots of serpentines and figure 8's and I was able to get a couple of steps of leg yield from him which is good enough for me for the first day. We also worked on transitions. Jack has been running into the canter and so today it was all about precision. Lots of transitions got him listening to me. He started collecting himself and was very light in my hands which I was pleased about. By the end of the session his transitions were beautiful, even the downward transitions which usually are all over the place. I noticed towards the end that when I ask for a canter I kind of jump into the canter. Instead of sitting and letting the canter happen I kind of stand in my stirrups a bit which gets me out of balance and then takes me a couple of strides to get my position back. Its hard to explain but the next time I asked for a canter, I sat quietly and it was stunning! It was the best canter of the day and I was very proud of myself for noticing my fault and correcting it. It can be so hard schooling by yourself since it can be hard to see whats going wrong.

I've been tossing the idea of setting up a video camera on a tripod so I can tape my sessions and see whats happening. Has anyone done something similar to this before?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Jack's Christmas Wish List

Jack wants to get himself all kitted out before he heads down to Palmerston North with me next February. This is is Christmas Wish List. (I must admit I influenced him a bit with a few of these things).

TC Stud Guard Girth
Jack tends to tuck his hooves nice and tight into his chest when jumping and he wants a stud guard to protect himself.

Dublin Two Tone Silverline Helmet
Jack knows I have been wanting one of these for a long time and he thinks I should get it soon since he dumped me on my head today.

Zilco Leather Gaiters

My long boots are getting pretty worn out now. I've worn them for about 4 years now and Jack agrees that these gaiters look pretty awesome.

Zilco Crusader Lit
e Combo
This horse here looks pretty cool in this rug but Jack thinks he'll look way better. Plus it will keep him dry and at a good temperature on those in between day. He likes the Zilco rug range a lot since he is a tough guy who likes to test his rugs to the limit and Zilco tends to stand up better then other brands.

Once Jack has got these he'll pretty much be set to head of to Uni with me. Hopefully Santa will drop these in his stocking. Personally I think he might be getting some coal.

When Mr. Murphy strikes

It always happens when you least expect... that silly man Mr. Murphy strikes. And when he strikes, he strikes hard. You may know him better as Murphy from "Murphy's Law".

The day started out fine. I had a nice grooming session with Jack and even got all the knots out his tail. I don't know about the rest of you but I find grooming a horse a tad boring. I'd rather just hang out with a horse in a pen or in the paddock then spend ages grooming. That's not to say that he gets neglected. Once a week I'll have a big grooming session and I'll go over every square inch of him. Usually I'll just pick out and oil his hooves, check for cuts (of which he gets many) and brush where the saddle and bridle goes. I noticed that he had some rubbing on his chest where his breastplate goes so when I saddled him up I decided to leave it off to give him a chance to heal. I thought I wouldn't need it since I would only be walking around the paddock. This was mistake number 1.

One of my many names for Jack is Fidget McFidgety Monster because as soon as the saddle and bridle comes out he starts to fidget. Doing up the girth is always a mission as he moves constantly and I really need someone to be standing at his head to get him to stand still... that or I need 4 hands. He always puffs out when I do the girth up so I have to tighten it up about 3 times before I get on. I forgot to do this just before I got on. Mistake number 2.

I got on and we started out 35 minutes of walking. I decided to stay close to my car since I had left it unlocked and a random guy has been stealing from cars at the pony club. Keeping this in mind I walked around the nearest paddock for about 20 minutes and then decided to move into the arena for the last 10 minutes. Jack always gets spooky in the arena, I'm unsure why he does because he is fine in the paddocks but the arena really gets to him. Taking him into the arena where I knew he would spook was mistake number 3. He spooked a couple of times within in the first 5 minutes but his spooks tend to be in slow motion which are easy to sit and deal with so I wasn't too bothered.

But then it happened. He spooked at a chair that we had already walked past 1/2 a dozen times and spun. He then bolted. He's taken off before and I can get him to stop relatively easily but this time he took off straight towards the edge of the arena. He galloped towards the arena wall and jumped. The wall is only about 60cm high so it was easy for him but as he jumped my saddle slipped to the side. He landed in a full gallop on the gravel drive way but by now it was a blinded-by-fear bolt where nothing can stop a horse. I could feel the saddle and myself slipping to the right and I tried with all my might to pull him to a stop but he was out of his mind. I remember calling "woaahhh Jack" to him but it was no use. I knew I was going to fall but I didn't want to hit the gravel. I stayed on as long as I could, hanging off the side of him and then I let go. My head and neck took the brunt of the fall and I skidded for a couple of metres. I saw stars but I was on my feet within seconds. My head pounded as I watched Jack gallop around and around the paddock, straight through the wash bay and back onto the driveway. He was out of his mind with fear as the saddle flapped under his belly. He finally calmed down enough for me to catch him. Both the stirrups had fallen off so I retrieved them and saddled him back up. I got on for about a minute and then got off. I just needed to prove to myself that he hadn't scared me from riding again. He hadn't.

Since no-one else was at Pony Club I called my parents and asked one of them to come get me since by now I was feeling nauseated and had a bad headache and I didn't think I should be driving. My neck and shoulder was aching a lot as well. While I waited to be collected I fed Jack and settled him down. He had a small cut on his hoof but it wasn't bad. Once Jack was settled back into his paddock my dad took me to my doctor. Since I was still coherent and could remember my name and address I didn't need to go to A&E. The doctor did some tests on me to see if any of my nerves were damaged or if I had a skull fracture which thankfully I didn't. I only had mild concussion thank goodness. He dressed the nasty graze on my arm and sent me home to rest. I managed to get a appointment with my chiropracter and he had to do quite a few adjustments. He also found that I had torn a muscle in my right shoulder.

It could have been a lot, lot worse and I thank God that it wasn't too bad. I'm not allowed to ride tomorrow but I will be back on Jack on Wednesday. This time I'll triple check the girth and make sure he's wearing his brestplate. I would have been able to stay on if either of these had been used correctly. But I'm alright and can't wait to get back in the saddle.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Back in the Saddle

I am FINALLY back in the saddle! Thank God! D, the farrier, arrived right on time and had Jack fixed up within half an hour.

First he fitted the shoe to the hoof. But that was a tad too big so he had to go a size smaller.

Contrary to what I said last week about Jack having 3 size 4 hooves and 1 size 3 hoof the farrier actually found that he has two size 4 hooves and 2 size 3. His right side is smaller then his left.

Then he cut the pad to the correct size.

He then pasted the underside of the hoof with a concoction of special things that help heal and harden the hoof and keep all the naughty little stones that like to get in there out. I can't remember the name of the stuff but it has eucalyptus and pine tar in it. It smells really, really good and is incredibly sticky.
He then positioned the pad and nailed the shoe over top.

D's dog Cruise "as in a Cruise Missile not Tom Cruise" hung out with me (between my legs) while I held Jack (dad took the photos).

Once D was finished I finally got on to ride. 30 mins of walking, walking and more walking. Actually Jack decided to have a bit of fun with a few rears but most of the time we walked.

You may notice that Jack is looking a bit on the heavy side of the scale at the moment. He's put on a whopping 30kgs in the last 2 months! I know! Until we weighed him, I didn't think he looked fat at all bit now when I look at him I can see the massive crest on his neck and his huge belly. And its not like any of the weight is muscle. He's been sitting in a paddock for the last month and a half. Its pure fat. What a chubster! Hopefully it will all tone up fast now that we can ride again.

Jack is also a master at ripping and demolishing his cover so he went for a week without a cover and he's faded a bit. I got him a new cover today and as soon as I put it on my friend's horse Rocky, started trying to pull it off. I shooed him away and then put Jack's fly mask on. I ended up tying it to his cover so I would be able to find it easier if he managed to get it off. He looks like a donkey cross mouse with this thing on. Thats Rocky at the side, waiting to pounce.

A couple of minutes later, as I was driving past the paddock on my way home, I saw this...

I had always wondered how Jack got his mask off so quickly and now I knew. It was Rocky. The little mongrel. I yelled at him from the edge of the paddock and he dropped it instantly, looking innocently over at me like he hadn't just been caught in the act. (You can see the peice of bailing twine trailing from Jacks cover to the mask on the ground. In hindsight it doesn't look very safe haha.)

Rocky then picked the mask up off the ground and ran off with it in his mouth. That rascal. The elastic snapped on Jack's mask so it was no longer attached to him. I didn't get any pictures of that as I was too busy laughing at him. I went and recovered the broken mask and then cut the bailing twine off Jack. I'm going to have to come up with a sure fire way to keep that mask on Jack. Any ideas?

So now we're starting from day one with the fitness regieme. For the next three weeks it will be mainly walking with a few trots thrown in the third week and gradually building up from there. I hoping to compete in a Show Jumping competition on the 4th of January but we'll see what happens.

I am FINALLY back in the saddle.