Monday, February 4, 2013

Snowventures! And Cole Finally Gets a Job

I'm beginning to think that every time I schedule a Friday lesson and/or vet appointment, the world decides it needs to dump a bunch of snow and/or sleet and/or ice on Lexington (and Nicholasville). It might be one of those rules of nature that just is- you know, the same way it snows as soon as you wash your car (and if you live in Louisville or Lexington, that means there's more salt accumulation than snow accumulation, which then gets all over your no-longer-clean car). And I guess because I scheduled BOTH a vet appointment AND a lesson this past Friday, the world decided it would give Lexington some legit snow.

So while the roads were slushy enough to maybe merit a snow day for Fayette County schools, I bundled up and headed out to the barn to meet the vet. I guess after the big ordeal of the last month or so, Cole is finally starting to behave well (for Cole) for the vet. He got the rest of his stitches out (the high-tension stitches were removed first last Tuesday) and was cleared for regular turnout starting this week!

The vet cleared him for small-space turnout on Wednesday. He was very happy to run!

He also enjoyed rolling and bucking/squeaking.

Next was fun with Riley- since Ash Grove had already been salted, the sun was beginning to come out,  and the jumping trainer has an awesome indoor, we decided to brave the elements and head out for our jump lesson. I was definitely late, but I'm really happy I went because I had a giant ah-ha moment during my lesson. I always get nervous about the first fence on course that I end up not having a good, forward rhythm and flubbing it every time. Riley also acts kind of spooky the first time he sees a particular fence, so I have to work on getting him to things boldly the first time and letting him take over after that. I had a second ah-ha moment when Joyce pointed out that I just kind of throw Riley away and let him figure things out when I don't see the perfect distance- so we worked on getting me to open up my shoulders and add leg to ride more confidently. Sometimes I think I've had Riley for so long that lessons on him rarely reveal new things, but even though I know him back and forth, it's nice to know that we can still improve. Because he knows his job so well, I've also realized it's nice to have some lessons on him so I can focus on fixing my issues without having to do a lot of training at the same time. The drive back was very pleasant as by then ALL the slush was melted. I was very happy to make it up the barn driveway and get everything unpacked and re-packed for Lakeside on Saturday.

I guess because the world did not successfully convince me to cancel my Friday jump lesson, it tried to exact its revenge on Saturday for my planned trip to Lakeside. However, being the hardcore crazy horseperson that I am, I wasn't about to let a little snow get in my way. I figured that my trip would be just like the day before- a little slushy, but nothing to really worry about. Apparently I was wrong, but thank god my dad was there to do the driving. About halfway there I realized maybe I really WAS crazy for still deciding to go, but we'd gone far enough that we might as well make it to Lakeside. After we were there, I was surprised to see that it was so busy. I thought for sure I'd be running late for my classes, but I had a looooong time to wait.

I came out from entering my classes to discover this slush-sculpture that my dad and John made out of all the slush on the front of the trailer.

I entered what I normally do with Riley- the 2'6" Gambler's Choice as a warmup and the 3'-3'3" Schooling Jumpers. The Gambler's Choice was a great opportunity for me to work on doing tight turns while keeping the same forward rhythm. I was also really happy because even though Riley's been backed off of fences at Joyce's the first time he jumps them, he was easy to ride forward to the jumps the first time (it probably also helped that I was prepared!). Riley won the Gambler's Choice, which was awesome, but I think I'm going to have to stop entering it since it's probably too easy for us. Riley was also awesome for his Schooling Jumpers rounds- we had one or two bad distances, but I was thrilled with our jump-off round in the second class. We got nice distances, he made tight turns but still came forward out of them, and he was able to gallop and come back and balance when there was a lot of space between us and the next fence. He ended up winning both his classes and getting champion, making the day a huge success. We do the jumpers at Lakeside in the winter to practice jumping and memorizing courses, but mostly it's for Riley to go out and have fun since stadium is by far his favorite phase and he only gets one opportunity to do a course at an event. I also stress out a bit too much about stadium, so it's nice for me to relax and have fun over fences at a show. All I really have to do is look at my next fence in the jumpers and he's happy to make tight turns- I'm beginning to think a trained monkey could win the local jumpers with him!

Riley got a well-deserved day off yesterday (while we went to the U of L game to see the Firecrackers half-time show... seriously, if you've never seen them at a UK game, look them up!

And tonight, for the first time since November, I got to ride TWO horses! Cole just walked for 15 minutes, but I'm happy to say I lived to tell the tale- after how bad he's been to hand walk some days, I was very impressed at how content he was to practice his free walk. It's about time he got a job and started earning his keep, even if it's just short rides to start out with. And of course Riley was awesome- Red Gate's indoor has been SO nice to have this winter. Not only can I ride on crappy days like this at 7 PM at night, but having to use the indoor has made Riley much more balanced and forward regardless of the size of the space we ride in. I'm really excited to see if his dressage scores will drop at all this season since I definitely feel like we've been improving.

Something I haven't seen in a long time! And of course it's blurry because he wouldn't stand still/stop trying to eat his reins.

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