Friday, 30 January 2015

Flashback: Show Ring Ready Turnout critique

This past summer (2014) Logan and I showed in the adult hunters and equitation on the Trillium circuit with great success. While it was a step down in division height for me and a baby step up for him, I still had a blast getting back into the showring. I really enjoyed this summer doing the Trillium shows because the financial and time commitment is significantly less then the 'A' circuit while still competitive.

On the turnout side of showing this summer I chronically battled Logan's tendency to use his manure as a pillow and rub his braids out! You can see the review of our turnout here:

Here is the picture I submitted! I adore the Show Ring Ready blog and its filled with helpful and appropriate information.

Some tips for keeping your grey horse grey:
-Invest in QuicSilver and White N'Brite. It may not be the best everyday shampoo but its perfect for removing stains (like orange clay and manure/ urine).
-Regular bathing. No last minute fixes for grey horses with deep stains! This will prevent stains from setting, especially in the tail where it is difficult to correct.
-A step ladder. If you're guilty like me of occasionally letting your horse's head go without washing, you can't get away with it in this case.  This applies to other tricky areas like under the belly.
-Clean surroundings. This goes for the stall, the saddle pad you use, towels to dry them. Anything you use should be taking dirt away from them, not potentially depositing it on them.

My first experience with a grey equine and teacher of cleanliness was in the form of the most precious of medium pony. My sister and I took her from the orange clay pits of NC at home to a bright and shiny winning show pony for an entire season! This first picture you can see the perma-orange stain in her mane, tail, and face.

Regular bathing at home to prevent more stains from setting plus immaculate management at shows helped this precious pony stay sparkling despite her love of digging in the dirt.

I know I am slightly large on her, the pictures are from her green year while she gained show experience and she was sold to a more size appropriate child soon thereafter.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

OUEA January 25th

We had our second OUEA show of the semester at Pause-Awhile Equestrian close to Uxbridge, ON hosted by Laurier. For those unfamiliar with the OUEA, each school hosts one show per academic year, sharing the burden of running the shows. The shows culminate in a year end finals run by the OUEA in which both east and west zones meet. See here for more info It is run in a format similar to the IHSA in the US, albeit quite a bit smaller geographically and in terms of number of divisions and participants.

As the distance to the show was quite far, I travelled to Waterloo Saturday night to stay with a team friend and eat dinner with the show team. From Waterloo we all carpooled at 5:30am to Uxbridge, I immediately passed out in the back after the mandatory Timmie's stop. We arrived to Pause-Awhile now bright, still early to claim a spot the the generously spaced heating viewing room (thank goodness as the temperatures were predicted to stay between -15 and -20 celsius without windchill!). We got our 'books' which tell the teams what the courses are, the order of go, and most importantly our draws.

I initially felt some hesitation with my draw, she is a lovely absolutely gorgeous athletic thoroughbred mare, but can occasionally be a bit spunky and knows how to use her athleticism to express her enthusiasm! Nothing scary but its nice to be able to add finesse when she is slightly quieter. It was my third time drawing her this season which is the limit, so my last chance on her this season. I had her previously over fences at the first Brock/Windsor show in the fall, and again at the Waterloo show on the flat. We had a great overfences result previously with a few short/ long distances and me getting bumped out of the tack, our flat had resulted in several excited swaps and a difficult to sit trot! I watched her warm up and was instantly relieved, she had her game face on and looked perfect going around with her warmup rider. I was slightly later in the order of go, which I was happy with as it gives you a chance to observe how the course is riding and watch another person or two on your ride. At previous shows this season I had been very early in the order and first on my horse so it was only a matter of time until my early streak would break! I watched her go twice before me, giving both her riders stellar trips. I left the safety of the cold to mount up and kept my jacket on as long as possible for entering the ring. I begged my captain to let my show in my snow pants and jacket to no avail. We relaxed in the chute before entering, and got tossed into the ring. Watch my round here:

I was super happy with our trip. Hard to tell from the angle but our last jump was a bit long, I didn't see much distance wise but as the perfect mare she is, she made it look decent. I played a bit of chicken with the wall to help us brake for the halt, but this resulted in swap. In hindsight I should have settled with a slightly less attractive halt to avoid the swaps. I adore this mare! She makes me feel like we could jump anything from anywhere safely, and just gives the loveliest feeling regardless of what is actually happening. We ended up 2nd with the winning trip also on this gorgeous mare! Because of her I was boosted into first over fences in the West Open division, and 6th overall!

Per usual my flat was a bit less stellar, I have perpetual difficultly placing in equitation flat classes due to my potato like riding image. In this case it involved a round cutie who I thought would provide a sofa type ride but instead we almost ran over the judge in the ring while crow hopping and spooking around the ring. At least I got some compliments on my stickability after sitting some high level (accidental) and haute ecole dressage movements! We had a test involving a counter canter, which cutie and I were able to perform successfully despite previous indicators. Despite being one of the few who succesfully counter cantered, I think the judge was offended about almost being bowled over (he actually was laughing). Occasionally it happens when the OUEA ponies are not out to play but we just do our best.

Moxie enjoyed the warm room all day with my teammates.

As a team we had some great moments today, also some not so great ones, but we all ended up celebrating our successes together.

We worked on some cheers and had great new signs!

I drive home was long but Mox and I made it back to London just before 8. Straight to bed hoping I can wake up for work tomorrow!

Catching up

Its been a while since I last posted my adventures being a student rider, almost two entire years. I guess being a perpetually busy engineering student, these things happen. Since then I've become involved with our student team at the University of Waterloo, travelling and competing with the 10-15 other ladies on the team while we compete in the OUEA. Its grown on me over the past two years and as a result I'm now a member of the executive team, keeping our website and facebook page up to date. You can see those here and here Competing in the OUEA as an Open division rider has helped me continue developing my riding, maybe not in the show oriented way I had pictured, but as a horsewoman and better all-around rider. In addition to competing in the OUEA I was able to show on the Ontario Trillium circuit in the adult hunters with a lovely thoroughbred trakehner cross, Logan, for the 2014 summer.

I hope to keep more up to date with this blog and primarily write about my experiences in the OUEA, the Ontario horse show circuit, and riding in general. I may also attempt some opinion pieces on horse-world ongoings and trending topics.

Pony tax picture of the lovely Logan from this summer:

Blast from the past: February 2013

Cowboy and I had our first little show together last weekend at Iron Horse Equestrian Center! I has been raining the entire previous week so everything was a bit muddy. First off, Canadian hunter shows are a little different than the American shows I’m used to, and I put my foot in my mouth a few times. The format isn’t like the typical two day format down south, instead they run the entire division on one day. This means a lot of people just show off the trailer and just come for a morning or afternoon, which is what we did to show in the Adults on Sunday. Why are you showing in the Adults? Aren’t you a junior? Apparently I’ve gotten caught between countries, as the cutoff age date in Canada is January 1st whereas in the States for USEF its December 1st. That makes me seventeen in the states and eighteen up here! It felt pretty out of context to be showing with a bunch of adults instead of my teenaged crowd, but they still had quite a bit of competition! I was informed that with some of these earlier (March, April) ‘C’ shows the people that didn’t go to Florida for the winter circuit use these shows as warm ups (It’s really too cold outside until the beginning of May to host the big outdoor shows). As a result, there were many quality horses with great riders putting in some great rounds, and the adult section was pretty large. Probably the strangest thing is show they braid, even at their ‘C’ equivalent shows, called Trillium, and not doing so is a big faux pas. All thirty horses in my division were braided without exception!  In the flat classes, when changing directions I quickly discovered that up here they reverse the opposite way! I stuck out like a sore thumb when out of thirty horses I was the only one turning to the inside and as a result I got more than a few strange looks. Luckily to save the embarrassment of Cow and my trainers I made sure to reverse the proper way in the under saddle. I found that the show had much better sponsorship even compared to ‘A’ shows down south and as a result there were fun little samples of a variety of products with each ribbon. The high point trainers had nice prizes including a free soft stall system installation (which is decently expensive!). There were champion coolers for each division, which made me pouty because even when I was champion at ‘AA’ shows down south in rated divisions I didn’t get a cooler! Despite the poutiness, I was impressed at how active the equestrian scene up here is. I particularly love how most people can trailer into decent show grounds without trailering upwards of two hours like we do down south just to get to Aiken or Camden. This allows for people to trailer in just for the day and means many people don’t have to get hotel rooms for a weekend of showing.

On the outdoor/ indoor show debate up here, I think I have decided to stick to showing outdoors and having enough fresh air to breathe. In the tiny chute that comes out of a tiny warm-up ring, there was hardly enough room to turn around with all the hustle and bustle and I was hardly able to hear my trainers over the cacophony of the spectators and announcers. I felt really overwhelmed, particularly when I first entered the chute, which looks like a subterranean tunnel. Cowboy however was the rock, and stood calmly in the chaos of trainers, horses and grooms dashing around us. Thank goodness at least one of us knew what was going on! I became more anxious as we moved up the shoot and my first glimpse of the ring came into sight. In my anxiety I started worry about Cow stopping, I mean we hadn’t schooled the course, I hadn’t even seen the course! I took my usual deep breathe in right before entering the ring, and trotted in. Considering the size of most indoor arenas, this would be considered a decent size, enough to have a six stride line down the outside with tight corners. The course went by in a slight daze and light-headedness, but we survived! I pulled into most of the lines and had to ride out a bit long but not too bad. Cow was spooking off the boards a bit so it made the corners hard, but he was on his best behavior. We haven’t even schooled over a 3ft course together, and my last 3’6” course was last June! However, height doesn’t bother me most of the time, and I actually think it helps my riding because I know I need to be confident and smooth instead of second guessing myself. Second course, much better! Had a swap before a long run oxer on Cow’s bad side. Third course, even better than the second but had another swap in a line. My adult equitation trip was really smooth but in my mind we almost hit a standard! Cow had fixed his cute little eyes and ears on the jump down the line, so my too subtle cues didn’t register until right before the last chance turn inside! It turned out really well though. Out of 30 in the class, 1st Adult Hunter 9th, 2nd Ault Hunter 5th, Adult Equitation 5th. Not bad! If I could stop him from swapping I think we would have been probably top three in the adults. The equitation, I just need to work on sitting up straight, closing my fingers and being smooth. We jogged for ribbons (another Canada thing!) and Cow thought it would be funny to literally grab both reins in his mouth and drag me across the ring! Not so funny when I’m 5’2” 130lbs and he is a big bodied 16.2! I was able to aim him at a standard and stop him before we had a Cow running about the ring while horses where lining up to jog. We hacked equitation (no ribbon, no surprise), and under saddled (I thought we should have pinned, he is pretty darn cute!) but with 30 in the tiny ring hacking I couldn’t have seen all the good movers. Overall fantastic! Cow was selected for random drug testing (another Canada thing on the ‘C’ circuit) and his habit of peeing immediately after removing the saddle came in handy! We were off back to the trailer to take out his itchy braiders and feed him the treats I got with my ribbons. Wrapped him up when we got home and went to bed, back sore and leg tired. I’m so happy with Cow and I and wish we had more time together!

Our second adult hunter can be seen here.
If you watch in HD the quality is much better!

Pony tax, Rio Cowboy