Monday, August 22, 2011

Champagne Run

It's been over a month and I haven't blogged about Champagne Run!  Hopefully I can remember all the important bits of River's FIRST NOVICE!!!  The coolest most important bit?  River won the dressage! (technically TWO of us did but shh)  The funniest bit?  He trotted into the arena lame.  He warmed up well and as we trotted around the arena my goal was to score in the low 30's.  The bell rang and as I trotted a circle to enter at A there was some coarse gravel on the edge of the arena that I didn't see until the last second and River stepped on it with his near fore.  He trotted a few lame steps and I was like, REALLY!? Right before we go into the arena?  I quickly transitioned to walk for a few steps to let him get over the temporary pain of stepping on the sharp gravel, then carried on trotting.  I gave my best pageant smile and jazz hands hoping the judge would be entranced by my strange giddiness and not watch his head bob down center line.  He seemed to get over the worst off it and the test went well. I walked back to the barn feeling happy that the test was as accurate and smooth of a performance as we had ever given.

I don't like to know where I'm placed after dressage.  This stems from my experiences with Flo where I usually was placed well after dressage but didn't need the extra pressure of keeping my placing going into our weakest phase, cross country.  I only want to know if I'm tied so I know whether or not I have to come in as close to optimum time as possible.  Amy said I was tied and that my score was a significant improvement. Hm. Then, I got a text from Stace congratulating me on my dressage.  OK... Then, someone told me we were tied for 1st.  YIKES!  HUH? YAY!  River won the dressage?  Apparently the judge WAS taken by my sparkly smile because her comments were this, "Aids appear to be correct but could not quite give you the higher scores because horse appeared to be 'lame' to the left but well done on your part."  Come again?  Your horse was lame but you rode well so you won?  OK?  Did I accidentally wear my striped underwear again? (last year, old man judge, all 7's, comment: good job).  Whatever! 34?  I'll take it!

During my dressage lesson with Amy on Friday evening, she suggested that we switch from the slow twist snaffle to an elevator for cross country.  I found an elevator with a waterford mouth piece at the big blue trailer and bought it.  I was worried about trying something new in warm up.  He had been pulling down on me while galloping between fences and I knew I needed a stronger bit that would bring his head up without having to fight him so much before each fence.  He jumped great in warm up!

We headed out and his first 4 fences were awesome.  I had to really be conscious of the fact that I had a stronger bit in his mouth and follow Amy's instructions to ride quieter and equally with both hands.  I did alright for the most part.  One too many tugs would make him jump inverted.  I tried to stay out of his way as much as I could without letting him revert in to complete racehorse mode.  The best feeling was when we came down a hill after a bit of a gallop stretch to a two stride log combination.  He came right back to me, stayed in my hand and was super confident.  I trotted him to the fence before the water so he could have a look-see then kicked like a kid in a grocery store tantrum over it. Success!

The only section of the course that gave me pause when I walked it was the bank combination.  There were tiny barrels, 3 strides to bank up, sharp left turn around tree to maximum Novice table.  I thought that if I didn't have his attention or enough energy after coming up the bank I would yell, "Not presenting," turn right, circle, and come back to the table.  When we came to the barrels he was really backed off because he was looking at the bank after it.  I barely managed to kick him over the barrels and then he was great to the bank.  On top of the bank I thought, "I'm good," so I continued around the corner to the table.  He was suprised by it, sucked back the last two strides, panicked, and stopped.  I made him CLIMB it so he would know he made the dishonest choice.  It was a green moment, granted, but he could have/should have gone on.  He made a big effort over it the second time.  Quick rinse of my mouth with soap and we carried on.

River jumped the rest of the course well.  There was even a little half coffin with a faux ditch that he cruised through without a second thought.  I thought for sure he would launch over the ditch but he just skipped over it like, no-biggie, Mom.  Even with the stop, we made time.   I was SUPER bummed about the greeny stop, but was happy over all.  Amy thought it was the best round we'd had to date. 

Show jumping was a step back for us.  I jumped him in the elevator and I don't think I was ready to show jump him in it.  He was totally inverted over the first and never fell into a rhythm. Jim Graham was my SJ judge and I was thinking way too much about how Jim was probably watching the rest of my round through the cracks beween his fingers. We only had a rail down later in the course (don't remember which), but none of it was very pretty.  Something to improve on next time!

Looky here for show pics.

The weekend had it's ups and downs.  River does seem to improve at something every show even if the placings don't show it. He is slightly ADHD and progress is slow but steady.  He is a sweet, sweet pony and it's been so educational bringing him along.  He recently stepped on one of the clips of his off hind shoe and is still sore.  We didn't shoe him behind this cycle to let his hind feet grow out.  I hope I can get one more show in on him this season.  I've really been focusing on building my confidence since Champagne Run and Flo's retirement.  The month or so off from showing has been a good let down from the pressure.  I'm feeling refocused and am acutally excited for and not dreading XC! Bring it on!

The End.

I heart Liam.

Aren't I handsome?
Meet Liam, our newest off the track thoroughbred (OTTB)!  To make a long story short, my brother-in-law, Glenn Corbett, found this little gem for me.  Glenn was his jockey in his last two races and thought he was perfect for me given his height (16.2 1/2), gender (gelding), age (4), and temperament (slow and quiet) and of course, his smashing good looks.  Glenn had been looking for years for the right candidate, and Liam fit the bill!  His JC name is Nantachie JoeThis is his racing record and here you can see his last two races (7/29 race 6 and 7/11 race 5).  Glenn called us on the Saturday after his last race and told us to meet the horse in Lexington on Tuesday evening.  Well, OK!  We did!  The picture above is of Nantachie Joe, now Liam, on his first day. 

Liam and Griffy hit it off right away.  Well, more like Griffy was smitten with Liam and Liam could have cared less.

Since he's been at DW's, Liam's had some time off and then started some light ground work and hacking. He also had a mini makeover, although he looked pretty good when I got him. I wanted to get his attention for this picture so I whistled.  His eyes bugged OUT!  Not sure what that's about...maybe his groom whistled to him to settle him down (and now it has the opposite effect?!).

Who whistled at me?
Last Saturday we went to Percy Warner Park to school XC.  I rode Griffy and Hub lunged Liam. They were both total rockstars!  Griffy loved the water so much that he decided to take a quick bath in the water complex. No warning.  Walking around then WET. Goober.  Next time, I will pay closer attention.

I have introduced Liam to lunging and now lunging with the neck stretcher, picking up his right lead, hacking on a long rein, lots of turnout, and yummy Pennfield grain.  He's had his teeth floated and his feet trimmed.  He seems quite happy and well adjusted to his new cushy life!