Monday, April 12, 2010

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The show jumping rally this weekend was as fun as it was exhausting. Friday morning we bathed the horses, packed the equipment and tack, and headed out to meet our trailerpooling buddies at another barn.

I don't think I mentioned this, but another girl in our club borrowed Pandora for her 2'3 division this weekend because her mare was a little bit off. So we took stuff for TWO horses. Lots more to get ready, but it is nice to be able to help out and it was great for Pandora to get the show experience. On the downside, she was essentially catch-riding because she only got to ride Pandora once before the weekend!

The big problem with bringing pasture-buddies to a rally, where the stalls are big and solid with no head-poking-out or views of neighbors, is that they are obsessed about each other. As in, really obnoxious. As in, McKinna whinnied (loudly) about every 30 seconds for all of Friday evening and a good part of Saturday morning. Pandora was quite a bit calmer, but she still got upset when I took McKinna away for my rounds.

So, irritating herdboundedness aside, everything went pretty well. The first round on Saturday was...questionable. At my formal inspection before my ride, McKinna was so incredibly awful that I was apologizing to the judge every few seconds. She refused to hold still, called frequently, and in general had horrible manners. In warmup, she exhibited the most classic stereotype of crazy Ayrab I've ever seen (please note that I don't necessarily believe in this stereotype). Interestingly enough, she settled a bit once we started jumping - I think it gave her something to focus on.

Anyway, we headed into the ring. We took out the rail on our first fence, which I guess got my head in the game, because our team coach told me that after we knocked the rail I visibly relaxed and my riding got way better. McKinna WAY overjumped the second one, a 3' oxer, and my highly accurate air-time estimation makes me think that we cleared more like 3'6. The rest of the course rode pretty well and I was pleased with her, considering how distracted and unfocused she was. She still listened okay, moving up when I asked her to so we could make the distance in the one-stride and the like.

I should mention that my ride on Thursday before the rally was horrible - she was grabbing the bit, running at the fences with neck braced, and generally awful. So at the rally I took off the figure-8 and used a plain caveson, and also changed to a double-jointed Myler with a very slight gag action. Not that I recommend changing things at the last minute, and not that I know if those changes did anything, but at the rally I did have my half-halts back and I really appreciated it.

In our second round, everything felt MUCH better. Our collective eye is starting to get much better. It feels like I don't tell her what distances to pick, but I don't make her decide on her own...we just kind of arrive at the same conclusion, with me offering a little input or support if I think she needs it. Very cool. We hit the rail on the second-to-last fence, and it fell as I looked over my shoulder at it, taking out the panel with it. Bummer. In slow motion, as we jumped clear over the last fence, the panel took out the two standards and the crowd laughed as the whole thing toppled down. Oh well. If you're going to get 4 faults, you might as well take out the whole fence, right?

Our final round, where you design your own course, was very weird. They were running early, and I was a bit rushed through warmup. I jumped maybe five fences and they felt great - we moved up to gallop over a vertical and then collected to a rollback to jump an oxer, which was an element of my chosen course, and it rode beautifully. I wasn't carrying a crop, which I didn't think anything of because I don't always ride with one and I never use it.

So what does she do at the first fence on course? She stops.

I mean, REALLY. This horse NEVER stops! We didn't get a weird distance or anything. So I kick her forward as we circle, stuff her over the fence, we jump the second fence fine, and she stops at a perfect distance to the third fence. At this point I stop giving her the benefit of the doubt: I circle back, come at the fence riding hard in a defensive seat, and she jumps it just fine. Same with the next three fences, all fairly small turns, and again she's fine (with me in definite XC position). Here is what the center cluster of fences looked like, with all of them pretty close together:

\ /
/ \

For my last two fences, I jumped straight across the two angled fences on top, so my line for each was at about a 45 degree angle, and it was a two stride. Very tricky line. It rode beautifully.

I don't know what her deal was. Was it the lack of crop? Was she tired, or sore? This is a horse who I basically never have to ride defensively, and I gave her a pretty solid ride to them. I'm just chalking it up to a freak thing and not worrying about it, especially because this is the first real show she has been to in a very long time. In any case, the chiropractor is coming out tomorrow because they've both been in hard work for 3-4 months since the last appointment.

So even though we didn't have perfect rounds, I was very pleased with her.

That's all for now - I've got homework to catch up on! Coming soon: report from my XC clinic earlier last week and a bit more Pandora discussion, including rally et ceterae. (Does it make etc a noun if you add an e at the end? Because I just did.)

Edit: Here are a couple pictures taken by one of the PC moms. She is not being super tight with her knees in these...but I think it's because she thinks they're too easy ;) Look at her ears! She's so cute!

 This is us over that angled diagonal I just talked about - I'm grinning because she's handling it perfectly.

Looking ahead to the next fence.


tangerine said...

Great pics! I hate it when you have a funny stop to something. It's just enough to make you worry that you have to be defensive all the time... ugh. The other mare I'm riding decided to dirty stop at the ditch on my first BN course, now I don't know if I'll ever ride a ditch the same way again.

I've tried to back off height and really gain confidence, and really use my leg over the fence since then, and she's quit the bad habit over regular fences. Good luck with that one :D

manymisadventures said...

Yeah, it's hard to get over those past things as a rider - even when the horse may have forgotten it long ago!

I'm not too worried about her deciding to become a stopper. She never has been, so I think she was just mentally worn out by the third round...I sure was.

We'll see how things go, but I might be a bit more careful to add leg in the future :)

SprinklerBandit said...

She stopped?! How very horse-y of her. They always do the most unexpected things.

I'm glad it went sort of well, and the pictures look great. I'm loving the red on a grey horse.

Winter Storm Ranch said...

Just a little tip on what we do with herd bound horses--

With our wonderful herd bond horses we take them out and one person has one horse and another has the other horse. We lounge them right next to each other and then take them away from each other. The min they start calling acting stupid ect. we take them back to each other and work them again. Soon the horses will learn being next to each other means work. We have fixed heard bond issues with this. It may take a few lessons but I know it has worked on horses I have used it on.

eventer79 said...

We've had some issues that required defensive riding too -- then I get TOO defensive, sigh. But it sounds like overall things went really well for you and I love that first pic of you two, congrats!

manymisadventures said...

She is a silly horse. Just keeping me humble, I guess!

Winter Storm Ranch, thanks for the tip! Unfortunately, at home they don't mind being separated to work - but if I get the time, I will try hauling them both somewhere and using your technique. It seems like it would be very effective.

eventer79, I agree that it's hard not to swing too far in the other direction. It's like jumping ahead. You start out jumping way too you fix it and get left you fix it and jump ahead, but a bit less than the first time...till eventually (theoretically) you get it right! At least, that's how it works for me ;)

Leah Fry said...

Curious as to how Pandora did with the other rider.

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