"When the going gets tough...the tough get going."

"Be at your best when the best is needed."

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring has sprung and so has Beaventing!

Well we finally got to start our show season.  After some shuffling around the weather, Seth took Jango to a starter trial at Full Moon Farm 2 weeks ago and I was able to run Hobbs at Plantation last weekend.  We both lucked out and finally had beautiful weather.  No snow, hail or rain!

Seth & Jango SJ
Seth & Jango XC
Jango and Seth had a mediocre dressage test - we planned poorly and cut our timing too close so his dressage warmup was rushed and they never really got their rhythm.  Plus he had to ride in an indoor which is never easy to get a fluid test.  Moving on to jumping.  He had the best show jump round I've seen from them yet.  It was very smooth and fluid and absolutely no hesitation.  He and Jango then had a beautiful XC round, again no hesitation and it wasn't quite as frantic as last year because Seth didn't feel the need to chase him.  They really looked great and Novice looked so easy for them so now they've got their eyes set on Training in Fair Hill in May. 

Last weekend was Hobbs and my debut at Plantation.  It was actually really nice to compete over 2 days for a lot of reasons.  First of all, my nerves were a little better on dressage and SJ day since I didn't have XC looming over my head.  Second, the facility is so close and I had early times so we were home around lunch both days so we had some time to do other things!  Plus is was GORGEOUS weather so we got to spend a lot of time outside!  I digress...so on Saturday I wasn't very happy with my dressage test.  We got there early to do our pre-warmup which went very well and then my actual warmup also went very well.  Then I got in the ring and he just got fussy.  It wasn't any type of blowup- different than usual, he just didn't want to accept the bridle.  There were some really good moments and I got an 8 on my mediums so I just need to build on that.  The SJ was in grass and was very loopy.  We didn't realize that Prelim jumped before Intermediate so as we were walking we thought the Intermediate looked pretty small until we realized it was Prelim..hehe. 
Anyway, I got to see a number of rides go and there were very few clear rounds.  It seemed like a challenging course.  Again, I was pretty nervous, more than I would've liked but I had a great warmup followed by one of my best rounds.  There were a few small mistakes but overall smooth and solid.  I had one rail and 3 seconds of time which I was thrilled with.  Our performance on Saturday was good enough to put us in 5th going into XC.
The XC course was a solid Prelim track but certainly doable.  There were a few bending questions which are always tough for us because of how big he jumps.  Plus I had the whole breathing issue somewhat in the back of my mind.  He was great again in warmup...not quite as fluid as our SJ warmup but good.  Then he was a champ getting into the startbox all by himself!  He felt great on course...everything seemed easy which is what I hoped for.  I didn't push the pace at all since I was planning on running him this weekend at Fair Hill.  We came hope with zero jump penalties and ~25 seconds over optimum time moving up to finish in 4th.  So the first 2 outings were very respectable for Beaventing and we're looking forward to the rest of this season!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Bumps in the Road

Well 2014 has proven to be difficult thus far.  First, we have had to deal with the winter from hell that is now becoming the spring from hell.  My plan was to open at Morven Park last weekend to get a Prelim run in and then move up to Intermediate at Fair Hill in 2 weeks.  The week leading up to Morven brought a few inches of snow and then a downpour/hail on Saturday causing the event to turn into a CT!  Luckily we had decided to scratch on Saturday and didn't make the 3.5 hour drive for a Prelim CT.  Then came the rejiggering of plans...I took over Seth's entry at Plantation for next weekend and will run him back to back weekends to try and get back in the groove.  Seth is going to Full Moon Farm starter trial this weekend to get an outing and plan his move up to Training.  At this point we can save a few bucks with him going to schooling trials until he's comfortable at Training...we know he can dominate the Novice world but he's got bigger plans for Jango! 

Through all of this I was still concerned with Hobbs' breathing so we decided to have Kathy check him out.  We thought he was just struggling because of the extreme cold, but now that we are actually getting 40+° weather it didn't make sense.  Unfortunately, she found that he does have some asymmetry that has developed in his airway which is causing the noise.  He's not fully paralyzed yet, but it certainly could progress.  Surgery will be an option, but with only 70% success rate it's a risk.  Our plan of attack is to run him and see how much it's affecting him by monitoring his heart rate.  He will need to be more fit now to compensate for his deficiency, but I'm hoping that his big heart and zeal for running XC will triumph.  Kathy showed us this really cool case, AliveCor for our iphone that can track all the data and take his heart rate, so we promptly ordered one on the way home.  I will be honest I haven't spent a lot of effort tracking his conditioning in the past since I felt he would become too fit and then was unmanageable in dressage.  But now I'm obsessed with it and feel like I want to ride him all the time and take his heart rate to make sure he is ok.  I'm freaking out a bit about it and of course every time he takes a deep breath or sighs I'm concerned.  It's also hard because I know him so well so I'm overanalyzing everything and trying to make sure he's still happy with his job.  He makes a lot of noise now when we're working and that's something I'm going to have to get used to, but it's hard to adjust to especially since I know something is wrong.  I don't feel like he and I are done yet - although this winter was rough, we are more in sync than we have ever been and I felt much more confident going into this season.  Then this comes up and my confidence is shattered for a completely different reason.  In this sport it feels like every time you set a high goal there are major obstacles to overcome and you are continuously tested.  It's tiring and frustrating, but I know from past experience that it is super rewarding if you can achieve your goals!

AliveCor - my new best friend

Monday, March 24, 2014

When Hell Freezes Over

2013 brought many successes for Beaventing.  Hobbs and I successfully ended the season as an Intermediate pair.  After our triumph at NJHP we went on to successfully complete Fair Hill (first clean XC jump) and then Morven to end the season.  We had an unfortunate run-out at Morven at a tough question, but he felt great on course.  We had a tough corner combo early on in the course which he took like a champ.  Our dressage was a disaster, but I will chalk that up to bad planning...we should've arrived earlier since Jango was along for the ride.  Seth and Jango had a fantastic run at Morven at the Novice Championships.  They were in a very competitive 10th place after their best dressage test to date and then went clean on XC, with a very sticky moment at the maxed out trakehner (see video below).  They then had to jump in the indoor and sadly had 2 rails to drop them back, but it was an incredible weekend with Seth competing against some of the top riders in the sport.  It was a solid way to end the 2013 season. 

We took it easy going into the winter and then the winter from hell hit.  Record snowfall and most of January and February we were lucky to see temps in the 20's.  It was an awful winter for training, plus my work was VERY demanding.  We pretty much hit every indoor within a 30 mile radius.  Oh, and most of Chester County lost power for over a week!  Needless to say, we weren't able to go South with Courtney as planned but we did what we could.  Seth and Jango made a lot of progress and were able to get to a CT at Thorncroft in January which went very well.  They are really developing a great relationship and 2014 looks to be a standout year for the pair.  Today was our first XC school of the year at Unicorn and they looked fantastic...they even did a corner and a chevron skinny....Training here they come!  Hobbs and I will debut at Morven next weekend at Prelim and hopefully bounce back to Intermediate at Fair Hill in April.  Then we'll see what the season brings.  I'm feeling much more comfortable with the bigger fences and Hobbs and I seem to really be in sync.   His dressage has really been solid...I toyed with a double bridle this winter a few times and we had been working on changes.  He's just so darn athletic it's a lot of fun!  I'm hoping it all translates this year and we continue to improve.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Third Times the Charm

Well lot's to update. Maryland was quite an improvement, but we did not achieve our result of completing an Intermediate.  Dressage was solid and show jumping was soooo much better.  I messed up the first jump, which was a training level vertical, and had that rail.  I just lost the power in the canter, but we were clean the rest of the round and it was much smoother and I felt better.  Still trying to get more in sync with him, but all in all it was a huge improvement.  XC started out fantastic and he felt great through the entire first half.  We had a brush to a right hand 90° turn to a corner...it was pretty slick out due to a lot of rain and guess what...he slipped in the turn and I had a runout at the corner.  I tried to come back around to it, but I really didn't do very much and another runout.  By this time we were both pretty shaken up and shocked and I should've hung it up, but I didn't and I got a big fat E!  At first I was just happy that I had gotten a little bit farther in my quest to go Intermediate, but as reality set in, of course I was disappointed.  I didn't get to try some of the tougher questions on the course including the water.  So we decided to reroute and try and go to New Jersey.  Now, I had officially banned the state of New Jersey from my show schedule.  I had never had luck there...all the way back to Pizzaz and dressage shows...it was CURSED!  But nonetheless, I decided things couldn't get much worse so why not try and break the curse.  So I emailed them and found out they were still accepting entries on Event Entries after the closing date.  So I entered and got ready to go. 

So the Wednesday before the show when times came out, I wasn't on the list...the damn curse.  All day Seth was trying to get ahold of the organizers with no luck.  At this point I'm thinking a higher power really just doesn't want me to go to NJ.  Turns out there was a miscommunication and we were all good and I had my times by Thursday evening...but I was really having doubts during that time of uncertainty.  And so off to NJHP we went to try the Intermediate.  They ran dressage and stadium on Saturday and XC on Sunday which was a bonus for me.  More time to digest the material and be more focused.  I was not sure what to expect...I thought the XC may be a bit difficult knowing they run a 2* there, but again I didn't have much to lose.  So of course I see the class list and it's all Advanced horses and professionals which was quite daunting.  Then after my first warmup we decide to watch a little bit of the Prelim SJ....it was a bloodbath.  We saw 2 falls, multiple refusals including knocking down standards.  That got in my head (imagine that), so dressage was so-so, he got a little tense and we ended up with a 38.  Honestly, considering the competition I really didn't care what my score was and I was freaking out a bit about SJ.  We are still trying to figure out how much time I need in my 2nd warmup.  At MD I felt like I didn't have enough time to warmup my shoulder-in and haunches-in with 10-15 minutes but at NJ I felt I had a bit too much time with 20 minutes, so it's still a work in progress.  So after the Preliminary disasters I was feeling nervous about stadium...I didn't get a chance to walk it and it looked big.  The triple was 2 huge oxers to a vertical, both 1 strides.  I was the last Intermediate to go and watching others the course seemed to be riding much better. 
Courtney warmed me up and he felt great, but I had been there before.  The round was great...I was very pleased again with our improvements, but still have some work to do.  I had changed my bit to a full cheek with a gag converter after MD to try and get him to be more responsive and less curled and it seemed to work...although we are still getting used to it.  So 2 rails down but a much smoother round and improvement...I was happy and relieved to make it to Sunday! 

Now came the "wicked" XC course.  It looked very fair and upon first glance I was OK with it.  I think I'm to the point that I know it's not going to be easy anywhere and there are always going to be a lot of tough questions...but isn't that what Intermediate should be?  Or else everyone would do it!!!  It was definitely tougher than MD, but over the course of the week leading up to the show I had gotten mad and I had a different attitude.  It was basically my old self, motivated and excited to challenge myself and embark upon something new.  We had done all the prepping and now I just had to get it done!  Saturday night was a sleepless night for me.  As time went the bad nerves came...the doubting nerves...the jumps got bigger and closer together in my head and I just got a little wacky.  I was super nervous on Sunday morning.  Seth and Mom were trying to talk to me and get me out of my head, but at this point I just needed to be alone.  I got on and started to warmup but again things were a little different.  The past few shows I just wanted to get on and get it over with so my nerves would be gone.  I tried to embrace them this weekend and enjoy the tension and then relief from getting through and learning.  I really tried to think about what I was doing and have a plan for everything and I think it helped.   My warmup for XC was OK...I saw a bunch of folks come through the water which was pretty tough and it seemed to be riding well, so in this case it was good to watch others unlike stadium.  I was pretty nervouse about #6 which was a left corner just like the one that got us at MD.  We started out on course and again it was riding really well...#6 came and went and he was great.  7 abc was a table, bending 7 strides to 2 BIG skinny brushes 4 strides apart. 
I always get nervous for these b/c he jumps so big over the tables I tend to get thrown around and then overcorrect and miss my line...it rode great he was perfect through it.  He was a bit shifty at the coffin which I think was partly due to the new bit configuration but we were good through there as well.  A few more big tables and then came the water.  We had to make a right had turn sort of away from warmup and he got a little nappy, then it was a house down a steep hill to a big log into the water, left bend 6 strides, house in the water, 6 strides to a skinny brush out.  Well there is no way I got any of that striding correct...it was a bit of a mess with him kind of jumping into the water on all fours trotting a few steps and drifting left leaving an extremely long spot to the jump in the water.  But with my new attitude and Hobby's heart, we got it done...it wasn't pretty but we were clean.  Then we had the trakehner and a long gallop to a shark's tooth looking jump on a angle to 2 offset houses on angles.  Coming up the hill on a gallop I never really checked him back and got him straight...I thought I found my line, but I felt him shift to the left about 3 strides out and I knew I was done...another left runout :(.  I actually used my whip and took my time to turn around and jump it straight...I had 4 strides until the next jump and they weren't big, so I knew I had time to sort out the line.  Looking back I probably should've taken the in straight from the beginning considering the issues I had been having with the left side.  So we got through and there was only one major question left...table to a corner...my favorite.  Luckily it was a straight line and a right corner.  He jumped in big over the table, but I just made sure to not pull on the reins and I sat up and kicked and he stayed right on the line and we got through.  So one runout, but a completion of our first Intermediate.  I can officially say we are an Intermediate team now!!  It hasn't fully sunk in and although we weren't competitive this weekend, we are certainly ready for this level.  I think I've realized that this moveup is harder for us because I don't have any experience at this level and I only ride one horse.  I certainly would ride the water differently if I could do it on a 2nd horse which is what most of the riders at this level can do.  It may just take me more time to figure it out and I have to be ok with that.  I have adjusted my expectations and tried to not let the mistakes (runouts or E's or RF's) get me down.  I got to compete at Intermediate and I feel pretty good about myself and my Hobby!  It was nice to celebrate a success with the Beaventing clan...I know Seth and Mom feel my pain when thing go badly and they feel my joy as well.  I can't always process it right away b/c I'm wound so tight on show day, but as the days pass I am just getting more excited for the future and looking forward to continuing my journey with Hobbs.

Monday, July 1, 2013

"Ryde or Die" ~DMX

Here we are again two weeks before another try at Intermediate and I'm getting some DMX in my belly.  I'm not as intimidated now seeing the big "I" next to Hobby's name.  I'm definitely feeling different going into this one...I want to classify it as confidence, but I think it's more numbness at this point.  I went to Jumper Schooling at Windurra Farm last week and had a positive experience.  The jumps were Intermediate height and yeah I wish it would've been smoother, but it was good to get out and do a few rounds without a major hiccup.  I still need to get the right pace and make sure he's out in front of me for the larger jumps.  I think that's one adjustment I've not been consistent on...he's got to have the momentum to get over the big oxers and I think that was part of our problem at Windurra and why I felt like the rounds were somewhat disjointed.  I do also need to make sure he's up in front so his shoulder gets out of the way...I did feel like he was getting underneath a lot of the jumps and in my jump workout yesterday I discovered a stronger half halt a few strides out does wonders.  It's all the little things falling into place :).  I'm getting much more comfortable jumping at the 3"11" height now and I'm anxious to build some new standards so I can go even higher.  I want to start thinking about how to be perfect instead of just how to get around...I've had an attitude adjustment!
Seth and Jango will also be making their Recognized debut at MD II at Novice.  They had a positive XC school at Laurel Hill and will be looking for one more school before the show.  They are getting along great and have been building their relationship over the past few weeks.  The flatwork has been looking fabulous and I'm excited to see what this pair can do this year.  He's hoping to qualify for the Novice 3-Day at Waredaca in October.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Unexpected Outcomes

Well the big move up to Intermediate didn't quite go as planned.  I felt prepared and ready for the big day and we started off amazingly well with a 34 in dressage to sit in 3rd place...I was so pumped!!  He was very steady and rideable in the test and I really feel like our warmup method is rock solid.  It was great to show off his skills at this level and score so well. 
Then we were on to Show Jumping...here's where it all fell apart...literally.  He was a little bit rank to start the course, but I wasn't too upset with jumps 1-4.  Jump 5 was a triple bar 2 strides to a vertical, 5 strides to an oxer.  Well it was a bit of a mess and I got to the oxer in 4 1/2, but we made it through.  I overadjusted then and got him a bit backward for a rollback to a skinny and then a bending line to the triple combo.  We hit the triple on stride, so I thought, then all of a sudden I was counting 1 and a half.  He popped over the maximum oxer middle element and popped me right out of the saddle.  So a big fat E and we never made it to XC.  Obviously I was really disappointed to not finish and knew I had some work to do.  I just didn't like the feeling that I wasn't ready and I wasn't good enough.  And I struggled a lot with my confidence in the weeks after the event.  I was doubting EVERYTHING.  I decided to move back down to Prelim for Seneca in June and then see where we were.  The week of Seneca was extremely busy for work and in hindsight I shouldn't have competed this weekend.   I was in Boston for half the week and then Philly for a customer event so it was very hectic.  Plus my ride time was super early and we had to get up at 3am...not a recipe for success.  I rode terrible in dressage and was very disappointed in my test and somehow got a 33.  Show jumping was the reason I was there and I desperately wanted a smooth round.  Luckily, I think, they had the same exact triple combo set in the course, vertical 1 stride big oxer 2 strides vertical.  I walked the course several times and of course was nervous.  During warmup he was extremely testy and nappy and I was worried.  I didn't warm up enough and should've taken more time to make sure he was adjustable and listening, but chalk that up to my bad attitude.  He bolted a bit when I first got in the ring, but I wisely halted him and took my time after they blew the whistle.  I need to try and apply some of my dressage knowledge to SJ...45 seconds is a long time and I need to take advantage of that and try and settle him in before we start.  Anyway, I was really, really happy with the way the course rode.  He wasn't listening well in the turn from 1 to 2 and then I made a move at a long spot and he sort of shuffled into it but that was our only bobble.  Everything else rode exactly as I walked.  And the triple was simple...he skipped right through it.  Everything was set for a 6' takeoff and landing and I really paid attention to the striding and knew if I jumped a little shallow I had to let him roll down, but he's very easy to lengthen so if it seems long most people may need to ride and I need to just settle and if it's at all short I need to WHOA.  I made a really dumb mistake on XC and had a runout at a table...I got there on a really long stride and tried to take it at an angle to better setup for the 110° turn I had to make and I never put my left leg on.  He was right to runout...again disappointing because all of the combos rode great and it felt easy and smooth the rest of the course.  I just had a little mental blackout. 

So Seneca was a bit of a confidence boost, but I really need to figure out how to manage the mental side of the sport.  I'm still shaky and balancing riding at this level with my career has proven to be a lot harder this past year.  The plan is to move back up at MD II in July.  I'm comfortable there and I think it's the next logical place to give it a go.  I've been really focusing on training in jumping and am going to try and tackle a jumper show this week....we'll see how that goes.  I think it will help to just be able to do multiple rounds and smooth it out for confidence.  I'm going to look for more throughout the summer, but it's proving to be difficult to find them at the height I need.  My expectations have been reset now and I'm just looking one show at a time.  I really want to succeed and figure all of this out...I am trying to keep dreaming and believing....my support system is really trying to help me, but I think this is for me to figure out on my own. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Intermediate here we come...

So it's t minus 3 days until the big move up to Intermediate....I still have trouble seeing the word in print (although I've looked at the entry status a million times this week and still love seeing I next to Hobby's name)!! 
This has been an interesting week so far, I'm a bit of a nutcase, but Seth seems to have expected it.  I'll say that it's been an emotional rollercoaster and we're only half way through the week!  At times I'm surprisingly calm, but I just don't think my body can handle the nervousness all the time...it would be emotional overload!

I started off the week with a fantastic jump school with Martha Redman....we jumped BIG!  I was slightly disappointed because I continued to have trouble finding my rhythm down the diagonal to a big oxer.  I kept softening six strides out and then tried to gun it and ended up with a flat jump.  We were also in an indoor so I think that was backing us both off a little.  I just need to keep the rhythm and ride his canter forward and up all the way to the jump and then we were golden.  And of course the biggest thing is for me to keep my eye up or else Hobby jumps me out of the tack :).  Then on Sunday it was a dressage lesson with David Smith.  He dissected the new movements for me and Hobbs was a rock star.  My biggest aha moment was when David was explaining that the medium trot and canter are collected movements and it's very different from the lengthenings.  His analogy was to think of asking for a rein back with each stride of the mediums.  The rein back happens when all of the forward energy bounces off the bit and transfers his weight to his haunches.  During the mediums I should always be thinking of transferring the weight to the haunches...and he can't get any faster. 

So after these lessons I thought I would feel prepared and ready to go.  But Monday came and so did my feelings of doubt.  I just kept thinking what happens if I screw up?  I don't want to scare him or myself.  I called Courtney to congratulate her on her fantastic weekend at Jersey and she tried to talk me off the ledge, but I wasn't quite there.  Then of course last night I have a pretty terrible ride on him...I just felt tentative and uncomfortable.  Tentative is NOT AN OPTION this weekend!  The fact is I have a great jumper, he's done it before, he loves it, I love it and I've done everything I can to prepare.  Now I just have to believe and have a little faith in us.  It's off to a lesson today with Danny and then I just have to put my game face on and be confident.  I know myself well enough to know that I'm just going through these phases this week...Saturday will come and sure I'll be nervous but we will rise to the challenge!!