Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Uphill battle

Although there were a lot of things going on, things that were supposed to happen and didn't and things that did that weren't supposed to.... Such is life. It happens.

This was clearly one of those weekends, one of those events, where you are just there to fill the card. You just suck it up and take your licks. You do it because you love it, you're learning and we all make mistakes. I chalked it up as a 'schooling experience' and left it at that. I don't regret that we went, I'm not disappointed at how we did overall, I'm not upset that we E'ed out- that was all my doing- and I'm not bummed about the costs involved. It was one of those things where you look at everything and think- If I'm going to keep doing this, what are the changes that need to be made? How can everything about this be improved?

There is a lot more I could go into here, but for the moment I'm not going to bore everyone with the details. There are some things that will be changing and Kat will again be getting a break, since there is nothing on the radar that we will be hitting until at least August. That would be the Darby in Paulden, which was our first event and always a ton of fun, but right now even that is iffy, whether not we make it. Kat would be allowed to run if I enter him at expert level, but with him ducking out on me in cones and the hazard in Prescott, I'm not sure what that was all about, what needs to happen to fix it or if and when it will happen again. Some days your the birds, some days you're the statue.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hazards

After lunch it was time for the hazards. I had no major expectations going in, we had already E'ed out in cones, so our times wouldn't count for anything, just that we showed up and went thru them. If we screwed up any more- it's not like we could get any more Eliminated... lol

Down in the holding area, we warmed up in the dressage arena. A few of us were in there using the space to school our horses. Kat was again amped and acting like a twit, but the screaming was minimal because he had gotten in trouble enough already that I think it sank into his pea brain, I wasn't putting up with it anymore. He trucked around the dressage arena like a champ, still a bit fast, but not pulling or fighting me the whole time either.

Finally we were up and ready to go. The horse ahead of us was a lovely, older Norwegian Fjord mare. She was cute, it was their first time doing an ADT and the driver and I exchanged admiration of each other's horses. We finally got the go ahead and headed up the hill to hazard #1.

The first hazard was a box for the most part. In one corner, straight out the other side, around and in the third corner, make a right half way thru and out thru D in the middle of the top of the box. The dirt was loose and sliding conditions were excellent! Kat was on the run and there was so much dust in the air, I almost couldn't see anything in front of us. Thankfully I had worn my bandana over my face to keep the sun off and the dirt out. It was a simple hazard and a lot of fun.

Down the hill and around the back to hazard #2. The Fjord mare was coming out of the hazard as we were approaching it, so I slowed Kat down to give them time to finish up and clear out. I waited a little bit too, to give the volunteers scoring a chance to finish up their notes and get ready for us.

We headed in, I called out our number and level as we approached and went thru the "In" gate. Kat picked up a canter and we went thru A, made a U turn to get thru B, stayed in the hazard to loop around thru C and I was watching the tracks on the ground as we followed them out, before I realized- we still needed to go thru D. I stopped Kat, backed him up, moved him over and we went thru D and out. That was almost another big mistake and again, all on me.

As we headed down the hill again to venture off and find #3, the Fjord mare ahead of us was walking. It was a good time to make Kat do the same and he almost seemed to welcome the break. He walked on behind the mare and kept a steady pace, distanced behind them. They were still in the hazard by the time we made it, so I parked him a little ways back and watched them complete it as we waited. Again I gave them time and room to clear out, the volunteers time to finish up and get ready for us and Kat patiently waited.

When the volunteers were ready, I urged Kat on and let him run. Called out our info on the approach and got ready to go thru the gates as I had planned when I walked it. We went in thru A, wove thru the bushes thru B, around the tree and headed off to gate C in the part of the hazard across the field. We were blasting along, all lined up for it and as we approached, Kat ducked out on me to the left at the last minute. I hauled him in so hard and so tight, he was literally bouncing up and down, trying to stop the cart and I had pulled myself up off the seat, standing in the cart as I verbally laid into him asking where in the Hell this Bullshit was coming from? He finally stopped, I backed him up and got him moved over so we could go thru C, loop around for D and thru the Out gate.

I made him walk to the next hazard and literally had no idea what to expect of him once we got there. He had reared in the holding area before dressage, ducked out right on me in cones and now had ducked out left on me in a hazard. Sonoita he had refused to go into the water until it was clear to him that I wasn't giving up or letting up on him until he did, so this water hazard was one of those- anything could happen here, kind of deals.

We picked up a canter on our approach, ran thru the In gate, thru A and headed down to the water. Kat slowed to a stop at the edge of the water. I heard Sheri's husband Dave yell from behind me- Give him Hell Linda! I clucked to Kat and encouraged him on into the water. He must've known he would be in for it in a big way if he didn't go in, so he oh. so. s.l.o.w.l.y., gently., on his tippy toes... waded into the water. He walked across it, but he had gone in, so I praised him and told him what a good boy he was. From the bank behind us, I could hear Dave and the others cheering for us thru the water. That was cool!

Now we had to do it again, twice, going into the water in different places. We went thru B and again, he slowed it down before going into the water, but with very little hesitation. We were soon out on the other bank, went thru C, looped around to come back into the water to get thru D. This time the water was deeper and so was the mud underneath it, but Kat went in with only a slight hesitation and actually started to pick up a trot as we cleared D and the water became more shallow. Once out of the water, Kat again picked up a canter.

The dirt and mud, sticking to the cart, started to fly off as we sped up to leave the Out gate. I let him canter on a ways after we left the hazard. He deserved some sort of reward for his effort, even if he had been a twit in one of the other hazards. He seemed proud of himself too, for getting a bit bolder about going where I pointed him even if there was water involved. He had done well enough and although we got eliminated in cones, we had fun.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Cones

I had walked the course the day before. I had the pattern down in my mind. Or so I thought. It looked easy enough, the cones were wide enough and never gave us a problem. The footing was less than ideal, but we would manage. If we had to slow down between 12 & 13 for the hairpin turn, so be it. We made our way over to the field. Kat walked sedately the entire way. He knew what was coming...

We saluted the judge and listened as he told us the start /finish were the same direction. The wind had been knocking balls down all morning. If the balls were down before we got to it, just go thru it anyways and keep going. Unless the wind blew down the number, then they would reset things, but otherwise just do your course. When we were ready, I asked Kat to move out and pick up the canter. I wasn't going to push him, I wasn't in the mood for excessive speed and the footing was iffy so however fast (or slow) he wanted to go, that was fine with me.

We set out thru #1, #2 and #3 which were a relatively straight-ish line. Wove our way thru #4 the multiple. On thru #5 and ran to the other end of the field for #6 & #7, looped around and lined up for #8 & #9... coming up on #9, we were lined up, dead on for the middle of the cones and it happened. Out of nowhere, Kat ditched out on me to the right. In one stride he jumped sideways and was about to mow down the cone, the ball, the number and anything else in the way. There was no correcting it before it happened, but I tried anyways as I swore at him under my breath asking "What the Hell was THAT all about?"

Honestly the rest of the course was a blur. I know we lined up for #10, #11, #12, dropped down to a trot to make #13, went thru the multiple of #14 and thru the finish line. Because of his stunt, I didn't let Kat have his little 'victory lap' to slow down. We hadn't been going very fast anyways, he didn't need it and quickly brought it down to a halt as it was. Jim was off the tailgate to meet me and he asked if I knew what we had done?
"Besides wiping out #9???"
"Yeah."
I looked at him and blinked. I had no idea.
"Did you forget to go thru a cone?"
I stared at the course. My mind was totally blank.


Apparently we lined up for 14 on the wrong side, going thru it the wrong direction. As we came out of the last part of it, we were on the wrong side and not lined up for #15 at. all. and we completely skipped it.


"I've been sick all week, can I blame it on that?"
"Sure"
"We E'ed out, didn't we?"
"Yep"
"Damn!"
"Yep"

We had done the course, with all of our errors included in 2:15 or something. We weren't the fastest of the day, that was one of the gals with a mini that did it in 1:54 and was double clear. It didn't bother me though, because I wasn't out to be the fastest this time around. I just hoped to stay on the cart, keep both wheels on the ground and get thru it.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Dressage

While the comments on many of my previous tests all reflected me loosening my death grip on the reins, I felt the need to consistently hang onto Kat for dear life. I thought I had to, to keep him in the ring and keep things sort of under control. My plan for this one was to let him go. See what he did when I let him have his head. Stop fighting him, stop pulling on him, just let him have his head and do his thing.

Another thing I changed at this ADT was that I decided to do what I can about the constant screaming and calling. I was going to try to put an end to it. Every time Kat started to make noise- he got in trouble for it. Maybe if it hurt, maybe if it stung, maybe if it was as unpleasant for him as it is for everyone else around him... Maybe he would shut the hell up! He did quiet down considerably and knew he better watch it when I was within range. It was considerably less screaming than in the past, but it still happened some.

One thing that came to mind as we were whipping thru our test- This is probably the fastest a dressage test has EVER been done! Our comments are likely to read "rushed", "rushing", "too quick" and who knows what else...?

Kat was on a mission. He was amped up and I just wasn't in the mood to be pulling on him, fighting with him or dealing with it. We trotted in, he halted, I saluted and we were off to the races. He did behave pretty well considering, but everything was just plain FAST. We had no working trot to speak of and when it came to the lengthened trot- I just let him go and kept telling him to "Just keep it at a trot. No cantering allowed here." Our lengthened walk, I thought he would break into a trot at any moment, but he didn't.

When we halted before the judge, he fidgeted and wiggled, squirming all over the place. At one point he backed up on his own. I went with it. After we saluted the judge asked me in an incredulous manner with disbelief- "Was That your back?" I uttered "No" and she said- "Do that over". We did, I took control of my pony and he did a nice rein back this time. It didn't help our score of a 3 for the movement any, but it left the idea in Kat's mind that he was not in charge.

Later when I talked to the judge, who is a club member and friend of mine, we joked about having fast times in Dressage as well as cones and hazards. She said half halts would have helped and I asked if a few "Whoa Dammit's!" would have as well. "SURE! Anything at that point... He was booking it thru that test." Another friend that helps with the scoring was laughing along and said "Dressage test in 30 seconds or less. WIN!" If only it worked that way... *sigh* Our score was a 68 something. The other entry in our division scored a 61 something, so we weren't too far off the mark.

Monday, May 12, 2014

ADT #4

The 4th ADT of the series was Saturday up in Prescott at the Flying B Ranch. I had been sick as a dog all week, looked like death warmed over and felt like hell on so many levels. After several bottles of Powerade for electrolites, a couple bottles of coke to settle my stomach and keep things down, eating ibuprofens like m&m's for the fever, hot showers, sleeping under blankets and sweating it out... I felt good enough to drive up there and make a go of it. I still sound like crap, still coughing up a bunch of junk, but I'm on the mend. A few people I know, were shaking their heads and wondering WTH? when they asked if I was still going and the answer was a resounding YES!

I had gotten a late start due to a morning appointment, but since I had taken Friday off, there was no major time constraints for leaving and getting up there. The drive up was uneventful, we arrived about 5pm and I had plenty of time to find the stall, get Kat settled in, unhooked the trailer, unload the cart and our gear and go walk the courses.

Dressage- I barely got to take a good look at the test on Tuesday. Lucky for me it was one we did before. Not much I needed to refresh in my mind and walking it, it all sank in so I was good to go. Cones had two multiples, 4 & 14 and like many of the courses we've done so far, it just flowed. There was only one hairpin turn between 12 & 13 that there was just no way to take it in a straight, fast line. So it goes. Hazards- while I was confused as to the in between the hazards, that wasn't so much the issue later on. Again they just seemed to have a nice 'flow' about them. Getting from one gate to the next seemed easy to do.  The only one I really questioned was the water hazard #4. There were 3 times to be in the water. Getting from gate A to gate B, getting from B to C and then of course D was IN the water. I wasn't sure how Kat would handle the approach, if he was going to balk and refuse to go in like he did in Sonoita, or what was going to happen. I guess we would find out when the time came. No sense in worrying about it until then.

Although the hotel was a ways down the road, away from where the ADT was to be held, I am so glad I got a room! Having a hot meal, a shower and a bed, versus the alternatives? No comparison. Then when I found out the wind blew like hell again, all night long.... I'm just glad I didn't have to suffer thru it. It blew like that in Sonoita last month and while I don't mind a strong breeze, gusty wind that never lets up is a different story. Add in the powdery dirt and it doesn't make things any more fun, let alone bearable.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mothers Day!

To all of the moms, grandma's, aunts and honorarys. I hope you have a wonderful day.