Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Poplar Place HT

 River and Lauren's Brandy traveled to Poplar together. River tried to win Brandy's affections to no avail.
There were SOOO many cute puppies!  Lauren is holding two of my favorites, JRT pups! They chased Pippa around the SJ arena :)
This is Tex sniffing the cutest Chihuahua I've ever seen named Pocket.

River was quite proud of himself after dressage.  No bucking this time!  Amy and I agreed something was still a bit off because his haunches were swinging left and he wasn't very willing to compress the canter.  I had Dr. Wooten back out yesterday to adjust him and he confirmed that his back was out of alignment again. 

Poplar is another amazing facility with matted stalls and great footing.  We enjoyed grazing the horses on the hillside and watching the arenas.

Sometimes I let Pip take River for a walk :)

Pippa had fun going on all the XC course walks.  Her and Opal's favorite bit is romping in the water!  I knew that XC would be a bit challenging for River because it was a championship course and Poplar XC is VERY visual.  They have a lot of terrain, paths through the woods (light/dark) and fun little carved details in and around the jumps.  River was skittery and over-jumped just about everything!  He is especially sticky coming into water so I hit him with the whip coming down a steep hill to our water entrance.  He WALKED into the water. I kicked him into a trot and then he jumped up into a canter on his own.  He locked onto the backside of the novice oar jump and I had to redirect him further around the corner to our little canoe.  Poor River was so overwhelmed and fell behind my leg through the turn while trying to figure out what he was supposed to jump next.  I failed to refocus him early enough and he stopped at the canoe.  I kicked him forward to see if he would jump it from a standstill.  Although he lifted a leg in a small effort, he was too scared to follow through.  The canoe was low but wide and it made me a little nervous to really press the matter.  I didn't want to make him fall over it, so we circled and came at it again.  I was bummed that we had such a silly, green stop but was very happy with the rest of his course! 

Poplar has an awesome competitors party with yummy food free booze and musician Tall Paul.  We ate dinner and had a sneak peak at our show jumping course.

Show jumping was also VERY visual in traditional Poplar style. River had a bit of a spaz out when he entered the arena and saw the Asian fan jump!  I really tried to wait and let him figure out his footwork.  He is still acts like a 4 year old so much of the time that I tend to want to help him out too much.  I need to slide into the backseat and let him take more responsibility for his distances and balance.  I my effort to stay off his back and wait for him to jump when he was ready made for a smoother and more rhythmical round.  He buggered at a few of the more overwhelming fences but always made the right decision to jump over his fears! 

River continues to grow up and discover his inner event horse at each HT!  We would have been 3rd without the stop, but who's counting?  It's nice when you've evented enough to put more value in HOW your horse performed than in what place you ended up in.  We jumped about 26 jumps and he had an oopsie at 1?  No biggie.  Onward and upward and...when in doubt RIDE HARDER.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chatt Hills HT

Opal and Pippa slept in the back seat while Lauren almost had a heart attack driving down Mt. Eagle.  Thankfully, we survived and got to Chatt Hills in one piece.  We were all very proud of Lauren's new truck (Truck Charming, TC) and trailer (and Lauren) for making the long haul for the first time.

Chattahoochee Hills was like a resort for horses.  Electric green grass, horseshoe shaped stabling, beautiful big stalls with doors they could look over, arenas with awesome footing that you can watch from hilltops....amazing.

I've never seen River so relaxed!  He was in a comfy, quiet, corner stall WITHOUT any of his girlfriends :)

Lauren and I had never been to Chatt so Stace showed us around in her new truck, Stormy.  Pip loves being "one of the girls."

Here's the gang! Me (and Pippa and Opal) Lauren, Amy (and Supah Tex), Lynda, Stace and Carol (and Crescent).

I had a little tune up lesson on Thursday since we arrived early on Wednesday.  River felt the best he's ever felt.  The chiropractic work completely unlocked his back and the hock injections made him much more comfortable and athletic.  We worked on getting him to stretch into the contact and then picking him back up to a more level balance.

We had an awesome dressage warm up (by ourselves sniff, sniff) but when we were on deck and told to go down to the lower arena to finish our warm up, everything fell apart.  He snorted down the path and RAN around like an ostrich.  I had just a few moments to recreate what we had in the warm up arena before the bell rang.  Needless to say, he was tense going into the arena for our test.  This was obvious when he BUCKED and landed on the wrong lead during our first canter depart.  Lovely.  Our trot work leading up to that moment was good, 7's, but the canter work is more difficult for him and was tense.  Bygones.  On to XC!

In XC warm up, Amy had me stay off his back AT ALL TIMES.  This helped immensely.  He stayed round over the fences and remained much more comfortable, and therefore, rideable.  He was very good around the course and while he still buggered at some fences he stayed level headed and forward.  He jumped off the sizable bank without batting an eye! The only dicey moment was as we came to the water for the second time.  He was a bit overwhelmed and I had to KICK him over a little log a few strides out from the water. Double clear!

Stadium went well but River is still quite green and always has a look at everything when we enter the arena.  The challenge has been keeping him in front of my leg, and he is much improved.  I find that when I ride him, it is easy to compromise my position in my efforts to help him stay balanced and forward.  I need to work on keeping my position solid.  Although, over time, he has been taking on more of the work load. Now it feels more 50/50 than 20/80!  Double clear!
I love the fact that every show I see measurable improvements with this horse!

Here are the professional pictures from the show: