December 12, 2010

We trotted!

We trotted today! I had Nick T come down to the arena so there was someone to call the ambulance if anything went wrong, but Zak was 100% fine to get on
It did take us a little bit of effort to find forward-gear, but then he was happy to walk around calmly
He got a bit tired and nappy after a while, but still gave me a couple of little trots (need to find some rocket fuel to get more go!)
What a good Zak! Need to sort out a smoother transition to trot and then a bit more balance before we try a canter. But all on track so far.

December 05, 2010

Makara Gymkhana

Saturday was the Makara PC Gymkhana, held at Battle Hill. Gem lost a shoe the day before, so I only entered her in one class because I know she does get a bit owchy when she's missing a corner. She did great though. It was the 95cm in Ring1 (so lots of fill and some quite difficult lines).
But she really stepped up, and even got me out of trouble a few times when we saw different strides. We had a bit of a cheap rail in the double, but I'm not worried by that at all. She did a super round and was easy and fun to ride. After the show she went back to her owner, and I'm not sure if the plan is to continue jumping or to go back to being a showhack.
Neo was trying out a new shampoo thanks to Wellington Feed & Saddlery. It is Horse Sense White Knight, and it smells absolutely lovely (made me very hungry!). It did a lovely job on his tail, as it is very gentle and left his tail nice and soft and full. It's also a purple shampoo without having the 'blueing' issue that some of them have if you use them too strong or leave in too long. It doesn't repel dirt quite as nicely as the Australian Dressage tea tree shampoo, but I'd say it's about the same in that respect as most of the whitening shampoos I have used. Now if only they could make a shampoo that would stop Neo from pooing on himself, that would be handy.
Neo was an absolute twit for the first two classes (the circuit and the 1.05). He was just too excited and not careful enough. I even tried coming back to a walk halfway through one of my classes to get his mind on task (which only worked for a few fences and then he was back to being distracted by blades of grass and who knows what else).
Luckily he redeemed himself in the 1.10 - but putting in a good clear first round (even if we did have to approach a few fences on an angle just to keep him thinking), and then a stunning jumpoff. I was so proud of him, because he was getting really tight corners and not drifting out at all. I didn't quite push him forward enough into one jump, and we got it a bit wrong and took the rail, which is a shame - but he still came home with a ribbon and paid for most of his entries. Stoked with that.
Thanks to Nick F for stepping in as photographer for the day!

Education continues

About 18 months ago (March 2009) I started backing Zak. He only had a few rides and only at the walk. Since then he has been over in the Wairarapa eating and growing - his handling has been limited to mostly regular drenching, trims & having his rugs changed. So last night when I went to pick him up I wasn't sure what to expect. He loaded pretty well on the float - needed to see the bum ropes but then walked straight on, and travelled really well.
Today I thought I would see how much he remembered. He wanted to have a good sniff of the saddle, and had a little bit of a worry when I did the girth up - but then worked out it wasn't going to kill him so just went back o sleep. He was perfect to put the boots on as well. I decided against the bridle as it was so awfully windy I didn't want to take ages to get things done.
He was good to tighten his girth up, and was very keen to follow me. Had a bit of a panic when a rogue plastic bag came flying towards him (and henceforth was not that keen on that particular corner of the arena). But really he didn't do anything wrong. Very impressed with him.
He also fits the rug I bought for him perfectly (thankfully). So he is in a 4'9" while Neo is in a 4'6" - poor Neo, how shameful!
A good start to things, will do some more groundwork on him over the week, and if all goes well - hopefully hope aboard next weekend if I can get a helper (just in case of any problems).

500th post!

Who is this handsome fellow?

November 28, 2010

Hutt Valley Jumping Day

Out to Belmont yesterday for the Hutt Valley jumping day. Was quite impressed that it only took around 45 minutes to get there. I was the first person there - so grabbed a nice park and had lots of time to potter around getting all 3 horses ready for the day.
Xev had her first outing for a while. We did a warmup round in the morning and she was very spooky, but was in general quite happy - so that was all good. Then she had showhunter later in the day. We'd entered 2 classes and in the first class I was really pleased with her. The jumps were tiny, but she seemed happy and going kindly.
Then when I came back for my next class she was quite upset - she wasn't napping back to the others at the float, but she was just stressed. Not really sure what was going on. Ended up taking Neo in a round as well (2nd pic below) - and um, it certainly wasn't pretty! He was quite calm, by Neo's standards... but certainly not showhunter standards.
Gem did one showhunter round as well. I think she went lovely, but we did add a stride on one of the lines, so no placing for us. But she looked pretty!
Her showjumping was fantastic though! The first SJ for her was an AM5 - and she did a nice clear round, then came back for a good jumpoff. No speed, but as many tight corners as I could get from her. She's not 'nippy', but she does try very hard to get around those turns. Came away with a red ribbon for her efforts.
Then we had a take your own line class. I got most of the course I mapped out in my head, but had to make a few running adjustments when I landed from one jump past the point where I'd intended to turn for another fence! Again, didn't kick her on or let her go fast at all, just tried to get tight turns and good angles. The second pic below is the last 2 fences I did... they don't look like that tough of a line in the photo (damn!) but it was very tight to ride - she did it beautifully though, and came away with another 1st placing.
Neo had a bit of a mixed day. He was jumping quite well, but in the first class we warmed up far too early and he was very unsettled waiting for his turn - I think that made up both a bit tired and grumpy. He pulled, but it was only a 1-round class (TA2) so I still had arms left at the end of it.
He gave me a super ride in the circuit class though. I put him wrong into the double, so we took a rail there - but overall just stoked with him. He was strong, but not pulling and arguing. Much more fun to ride.
As I was finishing Gem's TYOL class, I looked over to ring1 to see there were no horses going - which is typically the end of the class! So I cantered Gem back to the float (luckily I'd suspected there might be a timing clash, and Neo still had his saddle on), popped the bridle on him and went in stone cold.
Had to ask a friend to borrow her course (it was also a TYOL) as I hadn't even had a chance to look at the fences. Ended up missing one of her turns and had to make up the last 3 fences on the fly, but Neo was awesome. Lovely clear round and 3rd place for him.
By the end of all of that I was actually pretty tired. I haven't had such a busy day in quite a while and after driving home and putting the horses to bed I was more than ready for sleep myself! Thanks to Swifty for the photos again.
Next weekend is Feilding I,A&P - but I haven't entered. Not sure exactly what I will do next weekend - doesn't look like there is anything on locally, so might have to consider driving up to Manfeild and doing late entries just for some Saturday classes.

November 22, 2010

Review: Jockey underwear

I saw these knickers while browsing shops the other day, and thought they could be fantastic for riding. They're made by jockey and have little strips of silicon to stop them riding up. So I bought a pair to try out, and promised I would let my horsey friends know if they were any good.

They were a bit of effort to put on- the silicon is quite sticky, so would grab itself or stick to your leg or just not where you wanted it to. As a result, it took about 3 full minutes to get them on and sitting just how I wanted. They felt a bit weird on- but once I out jeans on they weren't even really noticeable.

I did some driving, running up and down hills (horses wanted to play catch!) and general carting things around while I had the jeans on over them without any movement. Then I got changed into jods- I was worried the undies might re-grip in the wrong place while I stuffed myself into the jods, but there were no such problems.

I rode 3 horses, a mix of flatwork and jumping and included some sitting trot. After all that there was not even the slightest hint of a creep up or movement. What I did notice was the synthetic material and silicon strips did make them feel a bit warm. Not sure how pleasant that would be in the middle of summer compared to regular cotton or bamboo knickers.

I was really impressed that they did what they said they would. I think the price is perhaps a bit steep ($25), and I doubt the silicon will stay grippy for long if you machine wash them. But I would certainly recommend them if you like your undies to stay put and not creep up.

November 21, 2010

Lazy Sunday

Out to the arena at Grays road today - after it had been raining all morning it cleared for me to get all 3 horses ridden. It even got warm for a little bit (though not sunny). I was also trying out my new jods - which I think are just the cutest things on the planet.
Gem was feeling very full of bounce, and pulled a little while I was warming her up - but she jumped like a star. She has obviously forgotten her confidence knock the other weekend at the show, so I think today with just some low oxers was really great for her.
She always overwhelms me with her attitude to jumping. She doesn't really tank into anything, but is always keen, and doesn't mind fillers or odd-looking fences. I just need to work on riding her more forward to the base of the fence, as I am still putting her on the short stride. I tried today to ride her more positively, and had mixed results - sometimes we'd hit it perfect, but other times I would end up holding her for an extra stride right at the base of the jump. Good thing she is clever!
Not sure what is next for Gem, but she is at least fit and happy - so leaves the door wide open for whatever suitable events are coming up for her.
Neo is still proving to be a mystery. He was very strong on the flat and I couldn't get him to listen well enough to bend around my leg, however when I put him into a warmup crossbar, and also a grid he would happy trot in and land in a lovely calm canter.
The more jumping I did, the more hot he got. He was not reefing in front of the fences, but was still jumping around in front of them. But I don't think he is sore, as he's moving fine, and also jumping nice enough (when sore he tends to not have a tidy front end at all). He was a dude in between times though... happy to walk around on a loose rein and let me cuddle his face from the saddle.
I think I will just have to keep working on the flatwork, incorporate more trotting poles (I have been doing this almost daily, but not really changing the trotting pole setup, nor raising them or doing anything different). Just keep at it and I'm sure he will give me some clues as to if it is the right thing or not.
Xev has been a bit off lately... she is just ever so slightly sore. She was feeling a bit better today, behaving nicely as well - which is hopeful - as her mood is quite tied to how she feels physically.
I didn't do very much on her though - just wanted to enjoy a short ride and have her enjoy it as well and not get pushed until she did feel uncomfortable. I also popped her over a tiny crossbar a few times and she was lovely and calm into it and away from it. Fingers crossed this means that whatever is making her uncomfy is on it's way to getting sorted. Had the farrier out again, can't see any obvious stonebruise or anything, but it could fit with the very low level discomfort.
The rain came in just as I was packing up, which is really quite fantastic timing! Thanks to Swifty for popping out to take some photos too.