Sunday, October 30, 2011

Winding Down

The weather keeps getting steadily colder and my schedule keeps staying busy. I've found a few things to do to amuse myself and do some semblance of a good deed, but I don't want to write about that now. Mostly because I have no idea how I feel about it. But in the meantime, I've still been playing with Royal and we're trying some new things. Like ground driving

In a circle

And on a straight line.

And our old favorites, like bareback rides on the dirt road.

Life is good.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


This past week was a dozy, with tests in every single class and a lab report and a lab journal due, so I was quite busy. And sick. I also got sick. I think I did okay on most of the stuff, but we'll see.

Royal and BJ got pedicures on Monday, and they did really well. Royal has a groove around his left front that I'm pretty sure is from the abscess blowing out the coronet band. It looks odd but cool, and he doesn't have an extra sensitively in that hoof. In fact, he's doing great. Yesterday was the first time I've ridden in a week, so we started out in the arena, playing with impulsion and faux-bridleless riding before moving on to Finesse. I've been using my halter with Finesse reins instead of a bit, mostly to give both of us confidence and it seems to be working. Instead of focusing on where Royal's head is and if he's moving in the right frame, I've been trying to make sure we have a good connection. If he goes above the "bit", I just lightly bring my inside hand up in a suspension rein. If he goes back from it, I bring my hands back in an effort to keep the connection. Kind of combining Karen Rohlf's ideas and Game of Contact. And so far, it appears to be working. Royal's getting better and better about maintaining the connection and wouldn't ya know it, all the nice physical attributes come along with it. Sweet.

I worry about him getting arena sour, especially with winter coming up, so we went for a walk on the road. Which turned into a trot, then a walk, then a trot, then a canter, then a gallop. All intentional and all fun. When I first asked him for a gallop, I could him hesitate, almost going "Really?" Yes, really, Royal. We came back to the canter for a while, then turned around and galloped again. And it was amazing. I just started laughing, so pure was my joy as we flew down the dirt road. And Royal loved it too, wanted to do more. Not in a tense way, but in a fun way. It was great for both of us to just let loose and go as fast as we wanted. And even though that was pretty fast, I think Royal's got another gear in there. We'll probably have to wait for next year for it.

I did have to put a stop to it, as I didn't want him to get too tired or sweaty. And Royal, to his credit, moseyed back to the farm on a loose rein, totally relaxed. I'm pretty confident that he enjoyed it as much as I did, and he'll want to do it again.

Ah, Royal.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Arrival of Fall

We had a bit of a heat wave the last couple of weeks and it was nice, sort of. Royal's been getting his winter coat, so unexpected heat waves can be hard on him. But mid-week, fall arrived with a bang. Temperatures went from the 70s-80s to the 50s-60s. I've been pretty busy, but still went out to the farm for some Night Riding. One of the perks of having an indoor arena at the farm. I found the big door open despite the cold and wind, and tried to close it. What followed was me pushing against the door with my 115lb. frame and growling "damn you, static friction!" under my breath. Despite my efforts, I didn't close the door, but the wind wasn't too bad in the arena.

After getting Royal, I realized he'd gone tramping through BOTH kinds of burr bushes, big and small. So, I had to get those out before I tacked him up and started out. After our first circuit around the arena, I saw that the moon had risen and was visible from the door. Well, I suppose it was a semi-good thing I hadn't been able to close the door.

Sorry for the crappy pics. My cell phone apparently does not like taking pictures at night.

After that, we did a basic little warm up before playing Seven Games with a little cross-rail. Friendly, Porcupine, and Yo-Yo/Squeeze went well, but my combination of Circling and Driving sent Royal in hyper-mode. It started well enough, but soon he wanted to canter around the small little circle, which was just not possible. We had a little discussion about the appropriate speed for tiny cross-rail, and finished with a little Game of Contact/connection with the reins. He's still learning that Finesse is supposed being where we hold each others' hand, not where Royal flips out and Renee gets frustrated. He made some great progress, so I ended on a good note.

This afternoon, we had another light ride. Some wtc, with another little bit of rein connection, which he did fantastically at. After a little bit, I really felt him stretch into the contact, but without leaning. Something I've never felt before, and it was cool. I feel like we're really coming together.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Gogo, of Eventing a Gogo! was euthanized today. Her tendon injury reached the point where she was no experiencing a good quality of life and her owner made the difficult decision to let her go. It is a very sad day and the world has lost a wonderful being. :(

I started following the blog last winter, and reading about Gogo's adventures really made me want to get into eventing. I checked it religiously for updates about Gogo's condition and was very much hoping she'd get better. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

Gogo was a mare who was equally talented and quirky, who showed immense promise until a small slip changed everything. I am so sorry for Andrea and wish her the best during this difficult time.

Rest in peace, wonderful Gogo.

Friday, October 7, 2011

MN Hunt Cup

Sorry for the quietness. I've been totally swamped with papers and tests for a while, and all my writing energies have been tapped out.

But, I still find time to have fun with Royal. Last Sunday, we headed down to the Long Lake Hounds for the Minnesota Hunt Cup. Basically it was kind of like Hunter Pace. They had six 2'6" brush fences set up in a half mile loop with lots of undulations. You could enter in different categories, each with its own optimum time. They had different speeds for Beginner Novice, Novice, and Training and the goal was to get as close to the time of your level as possible. Not faster or slower. The goal was to help people practice pacing themselves and their horses.

So, I thought it sounded like a great idea and we headed down there for the Beginner Novice category. I had to turn around twice because the facility didn't believe in signs or posters or mailboxes. Once we got there, I unloaded Royal, registered, warmed him up and went to the tent. The course was around the bottom of a big hill, and if you stood on the top of the hill, you could see everything. After letting Royal get acclimated, it was time for our practice round. The course started with a long downhill stretch before you turned right to the first jump, which was a bunch of brush encased in a bright yellow box. Royal got very bug-eyed and I knew about five strides out that it wasn't happening. No big deal, we just circled around and popped over it. The rest of the course went smoothly, even though he gave a couple over jumps the stink-eye. Even though the round didn't officially count, they still timed us and we came in at 2:30, with the optimum time being 2:40. Close!

Our real timed round went even better. Royal didn't bat an eye at anything. He wanted to go really fast, but wasn't out of control. We had a time of 2:20 (it felt like we were going at a slightly faster than normal canter) and I was very satisfied with that. After cooling him down, we headed home. It had been a great experience and a good end to our show season.

But a surprise was waiting for me in the mail. I left before my division finished and had no idea what the placings were. So imagine my surprise when this came in the mail...

The fanciest ribbon I have ever won. We placed second in our division! Apparently a brisk canter is the right speed for us at BN. I couldn't believe it, and this thing is especially fancy.

Sorry for the crappy quality (stupid cell phone). That's the button of the ribbon: a little painting of a hunt scene. Sweet! And from a schooling show. I've never seen anything like this before, even for Grand Prix show jumping.

Of course, Royal was very bored when I tried to get his picture with The Fanciest Ribbon Ever. Why should I care?, he asks. And of course it doesn't matter to him, but I still think it's awesome.

If they hold this again next year, I am totally going.