Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Many Adventures with neck stretchers, ear nets, Team Taco, lessons and Learn to Event!

WOAH! No wonder I haven't blogged. I've been busy. And I'm tired all the time... and its REALLY hard to be witty when you're tired!

But with the urging of Jess, I'm going to try to write a blog. With humor, even!
 Dear Lauren, you should write a blog entry. Love, Jess. 

So, I'm not sure where I left off, but I should definitely mention that Team Taco came out to visit me a couple weeks ago for a long hack. Stacy is prepping for a Training 3 Day Event this year and part of her prep is conditioning! Stacy boards at the lovely Panther Springs Farm, which has its benefits- like being located on an old grass landing strip (read: excellent footing), and having Amy at her disposal every day (not like Amy not being on location stops me from having answers on demand- I just text her. A lot.)
 Team Taco meets up with The Many Adventures of Lauren

What Southern Promise boasts that Panther Springs does not, however, is lots and lots of land. So Stacy, Taco, me and Shasta went out for an hour and 40 minute hack around the property. Its always tons of fun to hack out with company, good for us as riders and good for the horses, too! I took Shasta to try to encourage her to lose an ounce or two.

Since then, Shasta has gone on to her new home. A very good friend of Kate's, Rebecca, has brought Miss Shasta home to Knoxville to make sure they're a match. I'm thinking that they are, but we'll give her the full week to find out. We miss Shasta quite a bit, but I'm so glad she's got her very own person.

Also, during my blogging hiatus, Paisley left for a 30 day trial. She ended up not being a match for the family who took her, so she's back at the farm. I'm pretty sure Pai is destined to be me and Anita's forever...

On the note of horse sales: I'm officially in the market for a truck. My only requirements are 4 wheel drive and trailer-ready. Half ton is okay as long as its a V-8. Oh, and I have a budget.

What else do you need to know about, faithful readers? (All three of you...)

Lets see... spring summer is here (its been near 90 the last three days) and the bugs are back out. That means the sensitive ponies I ride are too busy shaking their heads to focus on me. What happens is that they get horrible gnat bites in their ears. They're so used to be attacked by these pesky bugs that the second something tickles their ears- mane, air, whatever, they start shaking their head. They do it with such OCD consistency, I dull the response with an ear net.
Ari sporting his ear net from his Aunt Megan.
He has to wear the pink one because it has smaller ears and the blue one makes him look like Shrek.
Plus, it matches his browband. 
I've had really good luck with the ear nets on Ari, Brandy and Jax. Everyone else seems to be doing fine without them! 

In other news, I love the neck stretcher more than life itself. I've spent the last week and a half or so experimenting with it on all my horses. I've had incredible luck with it on Vanna and Jax, it certainly benefited Boston, Belle, Brandy and Ari. I really liked it on Shasta and I'm halfway tempted to try it on some of the walkers. Gracie would probably benefit from it, but I am very cautious to put ANYTHING on her that might cause her to rear. What I'm finding is that it aids to keep the upper part of the neck- closest to the jaw- soft which allows you to focus on the things you need to work on without fighting the rigidness you may usually run into. So, here's my blurb: Buy a neck stretcher. Use it. Love it. 
 I've also been using it on the trail some to temper the response of my greener horses with great success. 

Speaking of great success- last weekend was a GREAT success. We'll work backwards, shall we?

 Happy TrainerLauren

Sunday was Middle TN Pony Club's Learn to Event. From SPF, Robin, Carissa, Amanda and Tori all showed. Robin finished in 4th behind three riders who were solid BN or higher competitors (all on green horses, but who's counting) followed closely by Carissa, who was 6th.

Tori was unfortunatly eliminated in dressage for leaving the ring, but had an WONDERFUL and CLEAN stadium and XC and jumped clean. Plus, before she jumped out, she got some 7s on her test! 

 Amanda jumped her very first oxer in stadium warmup, had only one stop in stadium and NONE on XC! She ended in 2nd at her very first show on Jazz! 

I was SO proud of all my riders! I also coached Erin, one of the riders I worked with at the clinic a few weeks ago and SHE got second, too! 

"My" last rider was Susan, a good friend and student of Amy's with a rather prestigious eventing record, and her very green TB gelding named Tate. It was Tate's first show and Susan successfully piloted him through the day with only one rail down in stadium. She would have won on her dressage of 28 if not for that one rail. In the 12" division.

So, like I said, a GREAT day. Several other people showed as well, including Letha, Kate, Megan and Lisa- everyone had a lot of fun and success!

The best part was watching Tori and Amanda gain confidence as the weekend progressed- we went XC schooling on Friday and I had to BEG and PLEAD with them to jump anything. By the end of Sunday I think I could have told them to jump a bus and they would have! It was great to watch Carissa and Robin run on their first "big girl" course, too- I can't wait to watch everyone grow as the summer goes on! 

Of course, we were also the very last people to pull out of the event. Susan got her rig stuck in the mud (bad parking directions) and had to be pulled out. I held Tate while she took care of that, so we were all hanging around the trailer. By the time Susan was ready to load, we were too, and we threw all of the horses on the trailer. We were about to pull out and we realized that Shannon's truck's battery had died. (Something about having the doors open all day long or something..) Lucky for us, Susan had jumper cables and Julie was parked close enough to jump it without much hassle. Also lucky for us is the fact that I grew up in Chicago and have been jumping car batteries since I was old enough to walk.

 Tori and WonderMom, Shannon. 
Shannon is officially THE SPF Showmom. 
Many Showmoms can stand to learn from Shannon.
Shannon, you should teach a class. 
The first lesson will be on not running your battery down. 
And then hit on proper snack food.
Then longing. And longing. And more longing.

OH! Speaking of jumping car batteries- this is what Vince and I did on Friday morning.

My alternator went out on my car on Thursday night. I made it to Publix. Vince met me at 7am on Friday to try to drive it to the repair place. We made it a good 5 miles before my car totally died. I managed to roll into some random persons driveway, where we sat, hoping we weren't going to be shot, for about 2 hours, waiting for AAA to tow it the last 7 miles to the repair shop. It was there by 9am. The didn't bother to look at it until 1:30. They called me at 3:30 to let me know what was wrong and tell me they'd fix it the next day. SO GLAD I GOT UP EARLY TO GET IT TO YOU GUYS. Ug.

Kate and Amanda also came to town that night, Kate to show Joe pony and Amanda to give massages. Ari got a massage and loved it!

On Saturday, I had a lesson with Amy. It was my first since January, besides the XC school I had on Brandy and Ari a couple weeks prior. We worked on making Ari's dressage go from "ho-hum" to "wow!" I'm finding the evolution of dressage very interesting with him. We're slowly collecting and elevating his frame as he becomes stronger and more supple and the progression of contact, impulsion and balance is never the same from one lesson to the next. Amy had me squish the trot down as small as I could make it- "think trot in place" and INSIST that he stay in my hand with a good bit of contact. Then she had me lengthen the trot without giving up that contact. The feeling was amazing, I'm having a hard time reproducing it but I'm getting fleeting moments while I work on it myself. The awesome trot work translated into a very bouncy, in-my-hand canter and we worked on jumping from that trot. 

Amy put some placement poles out and had me trot a cross rail a handful of time, making sure I had the correct approach. As I came around each time, she'd do the "sneaky instructor" move where she'd raise the jump a couple holes while I wasn't paying attention, each time reminding me "not to change anything!" as I came out of the corner. I, of course, recognize this trick and simply refuse to let myself look at the jump until I've made the turn, where I promptly close my eyes and throw my body forward, hoping that my horse will take care of me and get to the other side without dismemberment. The culmination of the whole exercise was jumping a 3'3" vertical from the trot. The purpose was to get him jumping UP and around things and really use his body (and I'm sure to instill a bit of confidence in the pilot.) Oh, and that I should keep my eyes open, soften at the pole and close my leg instead of throwing myself up his neck. Technicalities.

She had me continue this exercise at the canter, again, focusing on having him in my hand and jumping out of the proper canter. She set a big oxer and had me jump it out of the same rhythm, sans placement pole. I maybe felt like we were flying a little. 
Brandy showing off the big oxer we all schooled over. 
She jumped it heading into blinding sun and popped over with no problem. 
Love that horse.

Brandy also jumped the big oxer, as well as a real 3' vertical that I set myself later that day. Today, Gracie schooled the same 2'9"-3' fences. I have another lesson tomorrow and I'll jump Ari more before Wolf Gap this weekend! 
I'm actually just proud of myself for jumping the big stuff at home by myself, but I think I'll have successfully accomplished my goal of jumping enough higher than BN that it won't worry me by the time MayDaze rolls around! As I noted on a facebook status earlier, I sent of my first entry of the season, my Rolex tickets arrived, MayDaze has opened and I'm SO READY for this season. 

I'm hoping to take my students on a destination event to Poplar Place this summer when I'll maybe get the chance to do a CT at Novice with Ari and, of course, my students will get the chance to do another schooling event!

So... with ALL THAT SAID, I'm going to bed... sorry I don't have many stories of hilarity, but I just had to get all that typed before I forgot it!

1 comment:

  1. The Happy Trainer Lauren picture is great, you should make that your profile picture on FB! You have lots going on and it all sounds good. Hope you find a truck soon, you don't know freedom with your horse until you have your own truck and trailer, it is great!