September 21, 2009

Waikanae Spring Show

After a bit of a late start we got on the road up to Waikanae yesterday. I had Xev entered in flat classes (saddle hunters) and had done the most awful quick plaits the day before - poor horse with golfballs on her neck. Swifty came along to take some pics. There were heaps of horses over in the hack ring, glad I wasn't a part of that as they seemed really packed in with not much room to actually ride foward. Where we had a huge space for hunters and even got in a few gallops for our workouts.
Xev went nicely - though a bit unsteady in the head at times (allergies? teeth? must look into both). She got placed in each class I entered: Maiden, Lightweight, Paced & Mannered.
It was super weather - and is the first time this season I have ridden on the new surface at Waikanae. It was certainly nicer than last time I rode on it. Good for flat. I wouldn't really want to jump on it though. Also in the pic below I am grinning like a fool - because that prizemoney is gonna buy me an icecream!!
After the flat classes I rushed back to the truck to get Gem as I had both Xev and her entered in the working hunters. I probably shouldn't have bothered as they weren't warmed up for the small cross-country course they had us do, so both overjumping a bit. I even managed to tumble off the front of Xev when she dipped on landing off the drop. Was a bit uneventful, as I hopped back on and completed the corner and then the gallop without any problems.. but I must say I am nursing a bruise or two today.
Kit did the 90cm SJ in Ring1 and he went lovely. He had a few naughty moments in the warmup, but he is stopping as soon as I growl at him which is fantastic progress. He did fab in the class as well. It was a 2phase and both pictures below are over the same jump (first round & then jumpoff round). He did some lovely controlled corners and I was pleased with that.
After the showjumping his owners were standing with a shoe he tossed during the round! So instead of waiting around for the 1m SJ I put him over to the showhunters instead. It was the tightest showhunter course I've ever seen - a real tricky riders course, with a long strided double off a sharp turn (the best you could do was to get 2 straight strides into it, and that was if you went right up against the railings). It was really intersting to watch how each rider tackled it.
Kit went kindly around, and wasn't too distracted by the spectators who all line up at the shed with prams and dogs and various other things. Did a bit more riding around the warmup areas and Kit was good. I'm really pleased with him.
Gem was entered for the showhunter as well, but I decided against it with all those sharp turns - I just felt she was a bit green to do it well enough to do justice to herself. So we skipped that and went straight to our 90cm class. She jumped super even with me flopping around on top - my lower leg was so unsteady!
We came back for the 1m class - and looking at these pictures I will be taking the stirrups off all of my saddles for a week! Such bad leg position! The 1m was big & technical, and caused a lot of problems. I did the first half, which Gem jumped lovely, then retired after we got in wrong to an oxer. I didn't want to dent her confidence, so just went and did some practise fences to get the striding right again and then put her away. She really is doing fantastic for a horse who has had such a late start to her jumping career.
Poor Neo had, like usual, been tied to the truck all day and was just getting dragged out for the last classes. The 1.05m TableC was built very kindly, so I hopped on while the coursebuilder was putting the jumps up and did a few practise fences, then took Neo in first to go so we wouldn't have to wait around. He came 4th.
By the time they started the 1.10 it was getting very dark - I've lightened these photos so you can actually see him! I'm not sure why, but I was a bit nervous. We came into the first (a tripplebar) and stood off a bit, but Neo reached over it and saved my butt.
He is jumping so well at this height right now. He improves every season and is just such an honest wee man around the course. I'm looking forward to finding a few more 1.15 starts for him to see if we can get him competitive enough to justify paying for the ESNZ rego!
Loaded up in the half-light, and it was pitch black by the time I got home. Poor Swifty had missed his dinner, and Nick came down from the house with a torch to help put the horses away. I'm hoping to have a very lazy Monday!

September 14, 2009

Another Lesson

Had another jumping lesson with Andrew on Sunday - I took Gem along this time, as I was interested to see if we could fix a problem I have with landing too far forward on her (ie: on her neck!). That got fixed within the first half dozen crossrails, so it was totally worth it!

We then went on to do some grids and a course. Gem has been competing to 1m, and on Sunday we were doing up to 1.20 which was a good change of pace for us. Gem jumped great, I just need to ride her a bit more forward (same issue I have on Xev too). We had a bit of a stuff up at the very last fence we were doing, so had to re-do that a bunch of times to get back in the zone.. but really it was a great lesson and I am so pleased with Gem!

September 11, 2009

RUC Increase

Next month LTNZ is increasing the road user changes / distance licenses for diesel vehicles. So I've gone through and updated my spreadsheets for the new figures and it is actually pretty scary. Per kilometer travelled the RUC are far more expensive than the diesel used.

I am still using Mum's truck at the moment, and loaded it up and went out to a weigh bridge so I could ensure we are running it on the correct weight sticker. Thankfully we are. I would really urge people to do this - our local rubbish dump charges just $10 to weigh a vehicle, and it's good to know beforehand what weight you are - than to be facing a huge fine when you get pulled over at a weigh station by the police.

The newest RUC figures mean that my truck will be charged around $300 per unit (1000kms). That means the places I go regularly (Tielcey Park in Palmy, and Solway in Masterton) will each cost more than $100 just in RUC & diesel. That is pretty scary. Each time I go down the road to the local arena where I school, it's $10! I think I will be planning my outings this season very carefully - and never leaving home without a full truck!

September 06, 2009

Waikanae XC Practise: Kit

Today was my first away-from-home ride on Kit since he's been here (though I have taken him XC several months ago). I wanted to get him out amongst all the other horses and just socialise him a bit, and then decide if we were going to jump.
He warmed up really well - a few spooks but nothing major. So I decided to start him off with some showjumps just to get myself accustomed to his style. He did the SJ course fine, got in deep to a few, but by the end of the course we had each other pretty well sorted.
Then I figured it would be silly to not have a go at the XC. He'd had some troubles before on this course, so I specifically wanted to re-create that situation for him so that I could work out how to fix it and what was going wrong. We lined up (see pic below - Kit is in there!) and headed on our way. He jumped fence 1 great, and didn't play up before fence 2.. then popped over the stream crossing fine. Then a loose horse came flying past us which he thought gave him an excuse to have a little panic. I got him settled (then of course pony flew past us again a few times just to keep me on my toes!). Eventually the pony hooned back to it's truck and so I continued on my way. A few little sideways steps from Kit after the fences, but nothing major at all. Even popped over the trakhener really nicely first pop:
Down to the corner - which he jumped great. Then as I was waiting to do it again, another horse (this time with rider) cantered past and Kit got himself all worked up. I got him to focus on me again and then he was fine. It seems once you make him forget about whatever distracted/scared him, he's absolutely perfect again. Hopped over the palisade nicely too.
The little bank, and trotting through the water (apologies for my absolutely awful position - pinched knees and tipped forward! I deserved to land in that water! glad I didn't!). Kit didn't have any issue at all with the water.
So I came and did the training level combination which he did really kindly as well.
Starting to work out what his triggers are (at least in this type of situation) that make him upset. So have some good things to work on. He was really lovely to handle throughout the day - even letting Swifty (who isn't particularly horsey) take off his rear jumping boots and little things like that.
Got home in the daylight! Very awesome. Then had pizza for dinner - even more awesome! Only had 3 to jump today, but still worked up a hunger.

Waikanae XC Practise: Coco

Coco hasn't been doing heaps lately, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity for her to have a jump around at Waikanae. Their intro XC course is all enclosed and has a cute variety of jumps. It was already quite busy by the time I got her out on course, but more good experience for her to be immersed amongst screaming and screaching young ponyclub girls on XC.
I started with this super awesome little log - and she popped over happily. Did it a few more times to get her into a bit more of a rhythm. Then headed up to do the rails:
We did the corner (yes, I am going to call this a corner, even though really there is just one rail with offset ground rails), and the ditch which although it's tiny she still tried at one stage to walk through instead of jump over! Think I need to introduce her to the idea of a trakhener to ensure she is jumping over the ditches properly!
Some more rails (a little double) and the palisade:
Then the water - she was an absolute superstar and went straight in even though it was very deep for a little Coco pony! Not a lot of impulsion left to get out of the water afterwards - but she managed to hop up without incident.
After her super XC I decided to pop her around some showjumps. It was very busy by this stage, and she was starting to get upset.. but once she got in the ring she was really good. If she has something to focus on she seems a lot better than if she is just standing around.
We went back to the truck and she very quickly settled again. She improves with every outing - so I can't wait to get my truck back on the road to ensure she comes along to everything just to get that exposure. She is an absolute darling while tied to the truck (especially at Waikanae which is right by the road). I can leave her tied up and know she'll be there when I get back, which makes life easy.

Waikanae XC Practise: Xev

Headed up to Waikanae today for their XC practise day. They only go up to Training height XC - but do have a few ditches and water, which is always good to get in some practise sessions with. I didn't get to showjump Xev as there were huge lines and the jumps only about 1m so not really worth sticking around waiting for them to get put up bigger.
The cross-country was set as a course, and the organisers wanted everyone to ride it as a course rather than practise specific jumps (of course it didn't happen that way! everyone just gathered at the trakhener & water). But I figured I might as well do the first half-dozen as a course. Xev popped over the first 2 really sweetly, through the creek and up over the skyline fence.
Then it was time to wait in line for the trakhener. We did the little one first which she jumped beautifully, and then the larger one which she did a catleap over. Then down to the corners (yes, the second pic below is actually a corner!).
The palisade under the trees, and the small bank that takes you back into the starting paddock:
The chevron double - small & larger options:
The rolltop, and a stride or two into the water (which was really deep!). Xev just trotted through, but she didn't hesitate at all which was great.
Overall it was a good first XC jumping for the season. But Xev was spooky (even around the truck & to handle) which is unusual. I will try to increase her equilibrium blue, and if I don't see a change inside the week I might look at getting some bloods run - because she's not normally this spooky. I mean, they're all a bit silly on the spring grass at the moment of course - so I am hoping the equilibrium will be enough to just help her be more settled like she normally is.