Wednesday, June 30, 2010

humility, courtesy of Bijou

Bijou and Anna at last year's Northwest Spectacular, where they finished 2nd in the Hillcrest Starter Medal Finals.

If I ever thought I'd become some hotshot rider and could win championships on anything with four legs I WAS WRONG.
With Keenan out for at least the rest of this week (aside: we think it might be cellulitis and are treating it as such - he is improving daily, yay!!!), Sarah has been gracious enough to give me lessons on her school horses. I got a flat lesson yesterday on Phoenix and today got a jumping lesson on Bijou.
And I hurt. Big time.
Phoenix and I did not click, plain and simple. I know that a good rider can ride any horse well, but I also know that doesn't mean it has to FEEL good. It sounds so spoiled of me, I know, but Phoenix is not my fancy hunter boy. I had to work very hard to ride him with anything resembling correct equitation - and of course, that was the theme of the lesson, no stirrups and all.
But that was nothing compared to Ms. Bijou tonight. Sarah told me several weeks ago that poor Bijou (the Queen B, as I like to call her) was suffering some kind of crisis - that being a go-to horse for all kinds of beginners and children was starting to wear on her. She couldn't figure out if pulling meant stop or go, if kicking meant go faster or slow down and if anyone tried to educate her or correct her, she'd throw a tantrum. Tonight I got to experience that first-hand.
While we warmed up, she didn't want to move forward off my leg. When we started jumping - cavaletti, mind you - she blasted off like a rocket. When she ran out on a jump and I disciplined her with the crop, she lost her head. It felt like she was having some kind of horsey rage blackout. She tried to tune me out completely. It was really weird...I wanted to be sympathetic to her, but in order to relax, I had to get through to her. At the ends of the arena, I managed to sink more around her and we had half a dozen really nice, round strides - but as soon as a jump came into the picture, forget about it.
To be honest, I don't know if Sarah had me ride B because it would be good for her or because it would be good for me. Probably a combination of both. I have a tendancy to jump ahead (come too far out of my tack too soon - basically, I try to "jump the fence for my horse") and if I'd done that tonight, I would have wound up on the ground. That, and I did need to be humbled. I think having such a wonderful horse has actually made me a poorer horsewoman. I've formed some bad habits that only a lesson like this one could make me aware of. This season, I have been equitation champion or reserve at every show. It's hard not to be proud. It's hard not to think I'm entitled to good rides every time. But being a horsewoman is not about ribbons or coolers. It's not right to wish for my horse to get better so we can go to the next show. It's about taking the extra time to give Bijou a full bath and a graze because she needs the TLC. It's about having tough lessons where you have to work every step of the way. It's 100% about the horses and my relationship with them. I'm glad I had Bijou to remind me of that tonight.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Keenan update

Sarah called me this morning to give me her take on Mr. Keenan's lameness. She said that he is sound at the walk, which is a relief because the last time I saw him, Saturday night, he was still Limpy McGee at the walk. Sarah agreed with me that he is not in any severe pain and that he is still eating like a champ and acting like his normal self. We're planning on letting him have this week off and treating him with wraps, ice and the magnetic blanket. If he has not improved by the time Sarah leaves for Country Classic Preview next Monday, she'd like to take him with her and have the vet look at him up there. I'm all for this because if he does not heal this week there will be no Country Classic for us, anyway (obviously) and since we've already paid for his transportation and lodging to and in Wilsonville, I'd just as soon use that money + our C.C. entry fees to get him figured out and fixed up. My big worry is that he'll need an ultrasound, which of course are not a dime a dozen. I still don't have a job and I feel so guilty asking Mom to shell out the big bucks. If this injury turns out to be something even borderline serious, I think I can kiss the rest of this show season good-bye. I don't really care about that from a points/ribbons standpoint - as much fun as it is to win, I'm in this for the horses - but shows are just fun to go to! It creates such a bond between a horse and rider, not to mention the fun of rooting for your barnmates and being the resident Triple Rise photo nut...I'll still go to Country Classic and Northwest Spectacular as a spectator/helper, but I hope my boy is better by then. Come on, Keenan - time to heal, buddy!

Friday, June 25, 2010

big frustrations and little victories

So Keenan is lame. I don't mean uncool, I mean hurting. On Wednesday night Sarah texted me and told me that Armando (our head groom/nicest guy in the world) called to tell her that he's been favoring his right front. This surprised Sarah and I because when he'd been sore at the show, it had looked like it was his LEFT front and/or right HIND that was/were causing the trouble. And when I went to see Keenan yesterday, I got even more confused. When he walked, it seemed like, again, it was his left front causing him pain, but when he stood in the cross-ties he was trying to take the weight off his right front. Armando and I could see a tiny bit of heat and swelling in his right leg - at the back of his cannon bone and up just below and to the front of his elbow - but nothing that should cause as much limping as we saw when he walked.
I'm confused. Because of the lack of really obvious swelling/heat, we haven't yet called the vet. We're icing that right front and mineral icing his other legs and right shoulder. I wonder if he's a.) getting an abcess and it's manifesting itself in a weird way or b.) is sore and stiff through his back and neck and he's trying to favor everything at once. The bright side is that Armando told me yesterday that he's already seen an improvement. I just hope that this either becomes something more acute so we can properly diagnose and treat it or that it's just some vague soreness leftover from the show and it will go away over the next few days. Either way, prayers for my horsey, please.

On the flip side, Nathan and I managed something with Rapper yesterday that I was really beginning to suspect was impossible. We gave him a bath in the wash stall. I know that doesn't sound like a miracle, but Rapper has been trying to make it clear for the past 10 months that he is in no way interested in going in that stall. Each time we've tried, we have encountered a lot of hoof-planting, snorting, head-tossing - you know, the usual complaints.
It's not that Rapper necessarily hates baths themselves, but he once had a traumatic experience in a wash rack that makes the biggest hurdle of any bathing adventure just GETTING there. Yesterday was no exception. It took all of my convincing to get that horse in the wash stall - convincing and a few LifeSavers (his new favorite treat). But once Rapper felt the cool water - he was a sweaty mess - he decided that maybe life in a wash stall wasn't so bad. After all, he got treats, he was pampered, he didn't fall down and he got to lounge in the sun, eating grass, afterward. I was so proud of him for being *so brave.* Sometimes Rapper really amazes me. Ever since he moved to Triple Rise, he's been a changed horse. He's always been good and I've always loved him but there's no denying he used to be something of a head case. He still has his moments of course - sometimes things are just plain scary - but for the most part his whole perspective on life has changed. Things that would have caused an uproar a year ago are, generally speaking, now more interesting than frightening. He has changed stalls, he's walked bareback up the driveway, he spent a weekend at the Oregon Horse Center, where we had a delightful walk around with no theatrics whatsoever...Again, these are small triumphs, but a win is a win, no matter how you look at it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oregon Trail show report

Kristine and Elusive Q

Anna and Patchwork

myself and Frampton

Jessie and Big Time

Lauren and Southern Belle

What a great way to kick off the outdoor season! The Oregon Trail was a new show this year and I opted to go to it versus the Early Summer Classic a week later - the single 'A' rating (as opposed to a 'AA') would keep the costs down and I wanted an opportunity to do well at a smaller show and rack up some points. Turned out to be a shrewd decision - although for a day or two there, it looked like I might not be riding at all. On Thursday afternoon, as Nathan and I were putting the finishing touches on our packing, Sarah called me from Wilsonville to tell me that for the past few days Keenan had been sore and stiff. So much so that Sarah had scratched him from the pro days' classes. He wasn't outright lame, she told me, but Keenan is a horse who very rarely gets sore. I told Sarah that I'd be coming up anyway and we decided to have the vet out first thing Friday morning to take a look and make sure there wasn't something more serious going on. I was nervous when I arrived at the show grounds on Friday - afraid that I'd see my poor Keenan in pain. I'll admit, I wanted to ride in the show very badly, but I was more concerned with my boy's health. I went about business as usual - namely, working hard to get that stubborn yellow stain off Keenan's barrel - just so we'd be ready. Thankfully, after watching me ride and doing some flexion tests on Keenan, the vet deemed him fit to compete and told Sarah and I that riding and putting him in a frame would likely be beneficial because it would stretch out and loosen his muscles. So, with less than an hour to go before my classes, I was rushing around getting he and I dressed and ready. We had an abbreviated warm-up that commenced with Sarah saying, "okay, go show!" And we came away with a first and a second! That's when I knew two things I'd only previously suspected: 1.) my horse can do absolutely anything, and 2.) he loves me a lot. Keenan hadn't been ridden in three days and even though he was sound, he was not feeling 100% - and he went out and performed for me in spite of those things! We totaled 21 points for our hunter division (1st, 2nd, 3rd and a 5th) putting us one point shy of reserve champion - and that was without doing our under saddle class and me riding like a sack of flour on the second day! What a horse I have!
Of course, one of the great things about Triple Rise is that ALL of our horses are incredible animals and the riders they are paired with are some extremely talented horsewomen.
Lauren and Bella:
three 1st and two 2nd awards in Adult Amateur Hunter = Champion
one 1st, one 3rd and one 4th award in Adult Equitation = Champion
winner of the OHJA Adult Medal
Anna and Patches:
one 1st, one 2nd and one 3rd award in Pre-Childrens's Hunter = Co-Champion
4th place in the Hillcrest Starter Medal
Kristine and Q:
one 3rd award in 0.95 meter Children's Jumper
one 1st, one 3rd, two 4th and one 6th award in Modified Junior/Amateur Hunter
one 2nd and one 3rd award in Restricted Equitation 14-17
Keenan and I:
one 1st, one 2nd, one 3rd and one 5th award in Pre-Adult Hunter
two 1st and one 4th award in Pre-Adult Equitation = Champion

And hats off to Jessie and Cody - in their first show together, they placed in almost every class! They are going to make an amazing team as they continue to grow and learn together. Another great show team Triple Rise!

we've got catching up to do!

Well, it's been forever since I've written anything, despite the many exciting events of the past two weeks. So I figure it's time for a little catch-up!

Our open house went really well. We had a great turn-out and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. I think we have a few new clients coming on board as a result and I know some parents are going to be interested in their kids joining the YMCA day camps we offer during the summer. My father in-law brought along Nathan's two youngest brothers, Zach and Levi, so that they could see what this horseback riding thing is all about. Zachery is an absolute natural! Laura had him up on Honey and I've never seen a kid have more confidence his first time on a pony. I think my favorite moment of the day had to be when Jessica was fielding questions after her second jumping demo - one of the children raised his hand and asked, "Are you going to be in the Olympics some day?!" It was adorable - "And talk about an ego boost!" Jess said.

The day after the open house, Sarah gave Nathan a special lesson on Phoenix since he didn't get to have a mini-lesson the day before - and, I suspect, because he's been doing a lot to help out at shows. It was great to see my husband participating in my favorite activity - and loving it! I don't know if it's because he's such a naturally athletic person or if it's because riding is something that he genuinely wants to do, but he rode really well - posted to the trot and everything! - especially for his first lesson. I've been offering to let him ride Rapper for months now, but he kept saying that he'd feel wierd and awkward and he didn't want any of the experienced riders to make fun of him. But now that's he's realized that he's better than your average beginner, and that all of the girls are behind him 100%, I think he'll be more interested in the idea.

Along with all the wonderful things that have been going on, we've had some bad luck, too. Poor Chloe (one of the mares who was born and raised at TREC and who is now in active training) seems to have borne the brunt of it all. Besides her mystery hives (a reaction to a still-unknown allergy), she was involved in a freak accident a couple of weeks ago that left her pretty scratched up and sore. During a lunging session, she somehow managed to get loose, jump out of the arena, tear around the driveway and bang up Laura's car. I wasn't there so I didn't see exactly what happened, but those seem to be the facts. Afterward, I helped Laura hold her still to clean out her wounds and let me tell you, nothing takes years off your life like trying to wrestle with a 16.2 hand mare who wants nothing more than to squish you into a wall. Then there was the incident that began with Cody spooking at a mud puddle and ended with Sarah getting kicked in the knee and spending the rest of the week on crutches. This all happened during a week straight of pouring rain while everyone was trying to get the barn and jumps spiffed up for the open house. Needless to say, it was a pretty stressful few days. I don't like to dwell on negative happenings (especially since things look like they're working out just fine), but I think it's important to point out that these things do happen. After all, they're part of life and learning to accept them and deal with them is the only way to learn and grow.

But now we're on to the heart of show season and things are looking up. We just wrapped up the Oregon Trail Classic, this week is the Early Summer Classic and the Country Classic weeks are just a month away! Kate is returning to Oregon, Julie will be showing Henry for the first time in two years and Chloe and Lana are along for the ride to learn what life as a show horse is like! It's going to be a great summer!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

OHJA Points

So I've been waiting forEVER for the Oregon Hunter Jumper Association to update their points on the website - and they're up! I have to brag a bit - not just about Keenan and I, but all the riders from Triple Rise.

Lauren and Bella:
4th in 3' Pre-Green Working Hunter (Open System)
4th in Adult Amateur Working Hunter (Open System)
2nd in 18 & Over Hunt Seat Equitation on the Flat (Open System)
9th in 18 & Over Hunt Seat Equitation Over Fences (Open System)

Debbie and Houdini:
3rd in Adult Amateur Working Hunter (Open System)
8th in Large Working Hunter (Open System)
3rd in 18 & Over Hunt Seat Equitation Over Fences (Open System)

Tamera and Cloudy:
2nd in 18 & Over Hunt Seat Equitation on the Flat (Regional System)
3rd in 18 & Over Hunt Seat Equitation Over Fences (Regional System)
4th in 0.85-0.90 Meter Jumper (Regional System)
5th in 0.95-1.00 Meter Jumper (Regional System)
2nd in Low Adult Jumper (Regional System)

Kate and Titan:
1st in 3'3" Pre-Green Working Hunter (Regional System)
1st in Adult Amateur Working Hunter (Regional System)

Kristine and Q:
1st in Children's Working Hunter (Regional System)
1st in Open Working Hunter (Regional System)
1st in Children's Equitation Over Fences, 14-17 (Regional System)
8th in Children's Equitation on the Flat, 14-17 (Regional System)
11th in 0.85-.90 Meter Jumper (Regional System)
4th in 0.95-1.00 Meter Jumper (Regional System)
1st in Beginning Jumper Rider (Regional System)
4th in Low Children's Jumper

Laura and Beau:
7th in Pre-Adult Hunter (Regional System)
3rd in Pre-Adult Equitation on the Flat (Regional System)
2nd in Pre-Adult Equitation Over Fences (Regional System)

Holly and Lucky:
1st in Long Stirrup Hunter (Regional System) - with 264 points!
1st in Long Stirrup Equitation on the Flat (Regional System)
1st in Long Stirrup Equitation Over Fences (Regional System)

Allison and Bijou:
3rd in Short Stirrup Hunter (Regional System)
2nd in Short Stirrup Equitation Over Fences (Regional System)

Sophie and Jackson:
3rd in Pre-Children's Equitation on the Flat (Regional System)

1st in Children's Equitation Over Fences, 13 & Under (Regional System)
3rd in Children's Equitation on the Flat, 13 & Under (Regional System)

1st in Pony Working Hunter (Regional System)

And, of course, my Keenan!!!:
1st in Large Working Hunter (Regional System) - with 225 points!
1st in Pre-Adult Hunter (Regional System) - with 213 points!
1st in Pre-Adult Equitation on the Flat (Regional System)
1st in Pre-Adult Equitation Over Fences (Regional System)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

TREC Open House

10:00 am - open house begins
10:30 am - Equitation demonstration by Kristine and Elusive Q
11:00 am - first round of trial lessons
11:30 am - Jumper demonstration by Jessica and McTwist
12:00 pm - second round of trial lessons
12:30 pm - Hunter demonstration by Jessie and Houdini
1:00 pm - final round of trial lessons
1:45 pm - Pony demonstration by Sophie and Jackson Browne
2:00 pm - Jumper demonstration by Jessica and McTwist
3:00 pm - open house ends