February 28, 2009

Onslow Show

It must be getting closer to winter, as it was pitch black while I was loading (all the horses were very good, walking up the ramp only by the light of the torch I was carrying). We stopped by and picked up Swifty who had offered to help out for the day and headed on down to Ohariu Valley. I didn't managed to get any sleep last night at all (well, 15 minutes - but I'm not sure that really counts!) so I wasn't too keen on even competing at first, but after a redbull and getting started tidying the horses up the motivation finally arrived. Weather almost looked like it might hold when we arrived there, but that didn't last long! It was pouring while I was saddling and warming up.
Though Devon is sold, his new owner was happy for me to take him out today so he could get his first outing under his belt. He had a look around when I first got on, and wasn't sure about the loudspeakers (eyeing them very suspisciously!). He very quickly got focused on the task at hand and was super even in the crowded ring cantering around and the turnout lineup that took forever or perhaps even a bit longer than forever! I couldn't have asked more from him really - he took everything in his stride and though he had a few green moments (mostly just taking a bit longer to prepare for transitions) he did everything he was asked to and nice tidy workouts (we were called in for every class).
We picked up a ribbon in the rider class, and then came first in the open showhack class and second in the paced and mannered! I am totally over the moon with this performance - especially for his first outing, and in such big classes.
I took Devon & Princess in the 70cm jumping class, but talked to the judge and just did a few uprights on each of them from the course as I felt it was just a bit much for them. I was pleased how they both coped with the situation and the warm up area... they just both need more schooling at home before either of them is really ready to tackle a course. Piccies over the practise fence:
Prince was also entered for Ring2 jumping. He warmed up on the flat quite nicely, and was pretty relaxed about everything going on around him. After a few practise fences he got a bit more stressed, but we just went and did some more flat schooling in between our warmup fences to try and keep him nice and calm.
The ground was very slippery and even with studs in Prince was slipping. I tried to do a steady round and not let him get too full of himself, so we picked angled lines instead of doing tight turns or putting any speed on. He did a nice clear round and our angles must have been good enough because he walked away with the win.
I was really pleased with how all the greenies had gone, so I scratched from all of the rest of the jumping to end on a good note, and also to avoid jumping any more on the slippery ground. Poor Neo spent the whole day tied to the truck eating hay in the pouring rain as the ground in Ring1 was horribly slippery and he doesn't have studs in (and I can't put them in, because he hates them!). Such a hassle sometimes is Mr Neo, but we love him anyway. Fingers crossed for good ground conditions next weekend, and I will also make an effort to do an arena session midweek for Neo to get a bit of a refresher because it's been a while since he did any jumping now!

February 26, 2009

Devon sold & Beau arrives

Devon has sold, before he was even officially on the market. He's been sold to a lovely farm home in Rotorua. I still get to compete him this weekend, so it'll be great to see how he goes at his first ever show. His new owner is super excited and can't wait to have him at home in her paddocks.
So with a dwindling number of horses in the paddocks I have been lucky to have Beau ("Distelfunque") arrive today. Beau will be here to come back into work - he's a little, ah, tubby at the moment! Then head to a few shows before his owner looks to lease him out to the perfect home for a few years. He's a stunning looking boy, and I can't wait to get him into work and see if he jumps as good as most Distelfinks do.

February 22, 2009

Coming & Going

Grace sold over the weekend, and went to her new mommy today. That's 3 horses gone in the past fortnight, leaving me with almost nothing in work! Not to worry though - I picked up 'Prince' this morning from Princess' dad.

Prince has spent some time recovering from a rotational fall in a competition and is now coming to us to get a few low key outings to see how he's going. He travelled like a rock, and was a perfect gentleman when I unloaded him at home - good start!

February 21, 2009

Jumping session

I piked out of heading up to Wanganui today - the rain was leaving me very unmotivated and I wasn't keen on driving in those horrid conditions either. So to ensure I didn't waste the weekend I booked the arena today (for the only 2 sunny hours all day! what a score) and took Devon & Princess down to do a bit of jumping. Neo came to watch too. And Swifty came along to do photos.
Devon's flatwork was really quite nice in the arena. Nice tidy transitions and he wasn't spooking at anything (which I find lots of horses tend to the first time I take them down to the arena, as there is lots of spooky stuff hiding in the long grass at the sides).
Devon's owner had popped him over a few crossbars several months ago, but he hadn't done any jumping since then. He was a bit surprised when I trotted him into a crossbar but popped over kindly enough. He was good with the flowers too, didn't even look at them:
He was a bit looky with the picket fence, not stopping, but slowing up into it - so we had a few approaches to get him jumping out of his stride properly. He jumps a lot nicer when I can keep him in a consistent energetic canter right to takeoff, but I also know that he's just young and the muscles are only just building up - so it must be hard work for him sometimes.
I popped him over a few oxers, but realistically need to do more flatwork at home getting the bouncy canter sorted before we do more spreads. Oh, and he was great over the fake liverpool too! Didn't worry about it at all! What a doll.
Next it was Princess' turn. She is starting to soften a little at the walk, which I am stoked about! I also noticed her getting her tongue over the bit occasionally, which she hasn't done before. I'm not too worried by this, I think more than anything it shows that she is recognising the work I'm asking her to do.. I can fix the evasion or issues in time, but I need her to know what I'm asking of her first. She was so good in the arena too - not a spook at all! And fine over a trot pole, then hilarious over a crossbar. She trotted through it half a dozen times before we finally got liftoff! So funny.
Once she worked out the idea of 'jump' she pottered over some of the tiny fences in the arena really kindly. As she is still not really in a contact at the trot and canter I had to really focus on using my legs and seat as much as possible to keep her straight into the fences, as she can get a bit wobbly. But overall she was really good.
I even took her over the little liverpool which she was fine with! Although she isn't really ready to do too much jumping yet, I think it will be a good way to help her build some muscle and I will try to start incorporating some raised poles into her flatwork at home.
Neo seemed to enjoy the day out - he gets a bit upset when the truck goes somewhere without him. And everyone loaded and travelled well - even Devon who used to sweat a bit in the truck is now happy as in there and comes off the other end with no sweat and ears pricked.

Tinui Sports

Mum took Alfie to Tinui Sports in Masterton today - and came home with a sash! Alfie was a little spooky (perhaps staggers? with this weather and sudden growth in the grass?) but was going very nicely. Won the maiden hack, then paced & mannered and open hack! A clean sweep and then the Championship win too!

February 18, 2009

Day in the Sunshine

Went down to Battle Hill today to give the greenies a bit of an outing in the sunshine. They all loaded well, and travelled well (okay, it's only 2km - but still!). Hopped on Devon first, he hadn't sweated up in the truck which is good for him. He was great standing at the side door for me to climb on too.
Devon is working really nicely under saddle now. He still gets a bit lazy and/or tired and will express this in either getting behind the vertical a bit, or lacking impulsion. A tap as a reminder seems to get him back on track though. I'm pleased with his transitions too.
His head comes up a bit in his canter work still, but as he's not all that fit yet I'm not too worried about it. It'll certainly come in time. He's consistently striking off on the correct lead now too.
Bonus pics of Devon being so damn laid back! We did a few canter circles without reins, he's so cute - I don't even think he changed pace! He was starting to get a sweat on in the heat so I popped him away.
Princess has come along heaps since her last time out at Battle Hill. She's way less spooky, and was happy to go pretty much anywhere I pointed her.
She's still not working into a contact. I have tried pretty much everything in my bag of tricks for getting a horse to accept the contact and absolutely nothing is even making an impact. I am wondering if perhaps there is pain somewhere? Though she is showing no other signs of pain or discomfort. So for the moment, she is going very kindly on a loose contact - and I will just keep trying to ride her forward and see what happens.
She was super with the water this time too! Headed straight into the creek, and then popped off the little drop after just a few very minor fusses.
A small sniff was all we had to contend with to get her over the scary bridge too. I was stoked with that, as it's pretty spooky. She even trotted over it with no worries. Her owner is considering doing some CTR rides, so hopefully the exposure to different things will make her a more enjoyable ride at those meets.
Poor Grace had been tied to the truck this whole time, so she only had about a 10 minute ride as I figured she had been doing enough just standing in the sun.
She's really listening to me so much more. I rode her in Violet's bit at Masterton (loosering rubber mullenmouth snaffle) and she went fab in it. The french link I was using today wasn't as good on her, but great to see she didn't pack a fuss and was attempting to work nicely into the contact the majority of the time (just popping her head up a bit at transitions).
Took her for a walk on a loose rein while they were felling trees behind us (louder than you'd expect!) and popped her into the creek which she didn't even bat an eyelid at. She really has come so far. Looking forward to finding a suitable show for her to do a bit more jumping, perhaps some showhunter too just to give her something different to do.
Got home to find Neo screaming his head off at me, most horrified that I'd go somewhere without him. He's such a terror.