Friday, August 26, 2011

North Run Farm Schooling Show

Always with the drama.

Early Saturday morning, I headed out to the farm buzzing with excitement for Royal's and my First Dressage Show Ever. We had parked the trailer in a new spot so I decided to see if I could get it out before I loaded Royal, and it turns out that I couldn't. I cranked the steering wheel all the wheel and still couldn't turn it sharp enough to miss the trees. So I had to go left, drive down to the barn and try to turn around amongst the tree. It started off well, until I scrapped the front of the truck against a telephone pole. Oops. I was able to get the rig turned around and parked it in the driveway. I put some hay in the haynet, got Royal, put his shipping boots on (he wasn't too excited about that), loaded him up, and off we went.

About 2 miles down the road, I hear a "pop". Wondering what was broken, I pulled over, turned on the emergency flashers, and checked the trailer. Everything seemed fine in the trailer (although Royal was kind of confused as to why we were stopping) so I headed back to the truck cab. I then noticed the blinker light hanging out, still blinking just fine. I figured it must have popped out when I hit the telephone pole. But, as it was still working, I kept going.

We arrived at the barn safe and sound. I left Royal in the trailer to check it, then got him out so we could explore. The barn had a nice indoor where the show was taking place, a nice barn, a big outdoor arena with lots of jumps, and many horses that Royal wanted to say "hi" to. I let him trot around the outdoor for a while, then tied him back up at the trailer so I could watch a test. Poor Royal was all by himself, as all the other horses were in the barn. But he coped fine. After watch a beautiful palomino doing a Training Level test, I saddled up Royal and we headed to the outdoor to warm up. He did so EXTREMELY well, so we headed to the barn to wait our turn.

We did Intro Test C and got a 57.000%, which I think is pretty good for a pair of rookies. We started off well, then Royal got a bit frazzled at the first canter circle and took a while to settle down. We got point marked off for being above the bit and tense, but the judge was very encouraging. She said Royal was a nice horse who needs to learn to relax. Which was nothing new, but I still appreciated the feedback. We loaded back up, drove home, and I put the trailer in a different spot. One that will be (hopefully) easier to get out of.

Royal says "Dressagin' is hard work. I need to replenish my calories."

The big thing I took from the experience is that I need to make sure Royal is familiar with the dressage test. He got frazzled because he was confused and had no idea what to expect. So in preparation for Steepleview, we doing the BN Test A every single ride. We've done it three sessions in a row so far and he's starting to get it. And so am I, although I still get somewhat confused. I really want it etched in both our brains so even show nerves can't get it out.

Plus, it's fun to be on the same page. And a lot easier for both horse and rider.

Friday, August 19, 2011


...That's what I've been doing this week.

Royal and I are entered in a dressage schooling show tomorrow and it's only two weeks until the Steepleview Horse Trial! I can't believe how fast the summer flew by but now I have a lot of prep work to do.

Like learning how to braid. Other than the fun-n-giggles casual braiding, I've never really braided a horse. And Royal, to my knowledge, has never had to stand for a braiding before. So it was a learning curve for both of us.

The first attempt was a little rough. I used too much water to wet down the hair and had no feel for how much hair to use for each braid. As a result, it looked kind of uneven but okay for a first try.

Halfway done.

All done.

The next day, I tried it again and it looked much better. Not perfect, but the braids were more uniform and pretty. After that, we practiced both the USDF Intro Test C (what we'll be doing at the schooling show) and the USEA Beginner Novice Test A (what we'll be doing at the Steepleview H. T.). He did fairly well, except for his tendency to drop his shoulder while cantering in a circle to the left. I lifted up my inside rein to help him balance himself and eventually he did. And then could canter with my reins in their normal position. It was a good day.

Royal bored with all this picture stuff.

Wednesday, he was acting like he was on the tail end of a mild colic so no riding. Lots of trailer loading and shipping boots practice instead. Today was jumping, which both of us really liked. I put up the cow panels on the oxer for the first time, which Royal wasn't too sure about, but ended up popping over. I aimed him at the fence with a "We are going to jump this jump" laser focus, and he did some wiggling, but still went over. Then it was on to mini-courses like a three-stride line to the oxer and back to the cross-rail. And the oxer to a trotting figure-8 around the line then over the line. Lots of stuff to keep him interested and alert.

Tomorrow should be interesting. It will be my First Dressage Show Ever, and, presumably, Royals' as well. Here's to hoping we have fun!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Sorry for the teaser and running away. I've had a crazy busy week with lots of ups and downs, but no time to blog. But, now that I've taken the GRE (and, if the scoring remains accurate, kicked its ass), I have more time and I can write about our fantastic week up in Bayfield, WI.

Going up to Bayfield (a small town near the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior) has been a tradition for my family for the past 16 years. We always stay at the same place for a week and generally have a good time. But, for a long time, it was kind of boring for me. Swimming, sitting on the beach, and small-scale hiking only hold my interest for so long. So, when we bought the horses 8 years ago, my parents decided to see if we could bring them with. Luckily, there is a stable close by that is used to temporary boarders, and Royal has been to Bayfield every year since then.

This year, we accomplished some great things. Royal traveled well up, settled in nicely, and we had a relaxing few days playing with some dressage and jumping. On Thursday, I put my plan into action. I hooked up the truck and trailer and brought Royal to the beach where we were staying to see if he'd go in the Really Really Really Really Really Big Puddle, a.k.a. Lake Superior.

First, I had to see if he'd even be willing to go near the water, and he was.

Then it was time to put on my shorts and toe-shoes, and try some riding. Royal was skeptical at first.

But after a little patience and approach/retreat, he waded in. And discovered he liked it!

The water was so clear and not as cold as in the past, so he splashed and splashed. I was feeling so confident that I decided to see if he would go around the dock onto the main beach.

He seemed to like that, although he wasn't too sure about the waves on the beach, so we headed back. By this time the battery on the camera was dying, so the pictures weren't that great.

We ended up doing that twice more, with Royal becoming more and more confident with each time. It was a good day.

The next day, my mom came out with me to the stable. I decided to try out the mini-cross-country course in the field to see what Royal thought. And evidently, he's a cross-country machine.

He even powered over the little ditch, probably because I'd been having him jump over that Online all week. By then it was no big deal and he just skipped over it.

All in all, it was a great week and I'm very happy I had the opportunity to take him up there. He seemed to enjoy the experience and I think it was great prep for the Steepleview Event.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Guess what Royal and I did last week?

More to come soon!