What Do You Do


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As I mentioned in the previous post, we’re in a bit of a show-light period now, where I’m mostly trying to get tuned up for finals and doing lessons that maximize our readiness.  But obviously, much as I’d like to do 4 lessons a week, I have neither the budget nor the schedule to allow that.  So we’re doing our usual lesson a week, and working another 3-4 days.  I try to be good about giving Cally downtime, and she regularly gets Tuesdays and Thursdays off, and sometimes either Saturday or Sunday, depending on other plans and showing.  But what are we doing on those days that aren’t lessons?

The other day, Holly posted a link to this piece, and it got me to thinking.  What do you do on your own?  I do generally have some kind of plan, and try to have some kind of routine for fitness work.  Ideally, we do one lesson a week where we jump, and one ride out in the fields, to work on both fitness and her topline–I’m sure it can easily look like we’re just tootling around out there, and I’ll admit I do try to give her a little of that too, because it’s fun for both of us, and relaxing and mental downtime is important, too.

That leaves 2-3 other rides.  How to spend them?  I try to do one day of flatwork/dressage, either running through parts of tests, or something we’ve worked on in lessons, like spirals, or figure 8s, or lateral work.  We tend to do a lot of lateral work, because it’s a weak point, as Cally tends to be rather tight through her back and stiffer to her left than her right.  Sometimes it’s as simple as a little leg yield each way at the walk and we’re loosening up.  A little leg yield at the canter really helps to get her back loosened up, so it gets used a lot during warmup, especially in the winter.  Another exercise I really like that’s low impact and great for really hot days where I don’t want to do much that’s too hard on either of us, or when footing isn’t great, is something Carol had us doing in a dressage lesson once–walking squares, alternating a quarter turn on the forehand with a quarter turn on the haunches at each corner.  Really helps get her hind end moving, and me thinking about how each of my aids is effecting how I’m asking her to move.

(Dressage Day is not Cally’s favorite.)

Usually as part of Dressage Day, I’ll do a little bit of no-stirrups time, but this week I did basically a whole day of that.  Mostly because it was almost 90 in October and I didn’t want to do anything too stressful for her.  So I stressed me.  In the lead-up to some eq finals, I’ll probably be trying to do a little more of it.

More often the 3rd & 4th rides are more of a mix of flatwork and a basic, low jump exercise–I’ll work on a long approach to a single fence, or do something like what I did the other day, which was a pole and a small fence (2′) on a circle, so I could just canter them on a circle to work on pace and distance, or make a figure 8 to work on lead changes.  Whenever possible, I like to try to cool out with a little walk, even if it’s just out the driveway, or a loop around an empty pasture.

Other than lesson days, it’s rare that I ride for more than half an hour.  I’ll go a little longer if we’re out in the field specifically doing something for fitness, like our quasi-trot-sets, but Cally is 15, and at this point, is not making any huge advances in her training.  We’re not trying to step up a level, other than maybe actually getting back in the 3′ eq next year, so we’re more working on maintaining what we have, reinforcing what we’re already doing right, and keeping her sound and happy with her job.


Training for Post-Season


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We’re in a quiet bit of a show lull now, which is a nice thing.  The weather’s great, my weekends are a bit freer, and I’m saving money on gas and entries.  Plus it gives me six weeks of no horse showing to get back to missing it again, rather than being grumpy about waking up at 6AM on a Sunday for the 3rd week in a row.

That doesn’t mean that we’re not working hard, though.  Holly’s set some courses for lessons that really challenge us, to get us tuned up for MHSA Regionals and MAEF in November.  The plan is to be jumping big, difficult courses, so that moderately sized difficult courses are no big deal til that rolls around.  Plus I’m out of town for a week and a half at the end of this month, so I’m going to have Holly give her a few rides over the same courses that she’s using for Gittings prep for one of our juniors.  I mean, I’d probably be doing those courses myself if I were there, but with the pro giving her a perfect ride every time, hopefully it will instill some perfection that will shine through even with me in the irons.

Last week one of the lines from the show that had been a steady 4 was modified into a grid line, either 1 to 3 or 3 to 1 depending on which way we came through, as combinations are one of my weaknesses.   I have a feeling we’ll be jumping a lot of these this month, to get me thinking forward through them.

It’s also a nice thing that we can keep low, and low impact for the horse, and still get good results from.  Along those lines, we warmed up to jump with a one stride of poles on the ground, making a figure 8 and swapping leads.  It helped get Cally thinking, and by the time we did it twice, she already had it down and it was feeling good.

We’re also doing a lot of work on bending lines, adjusting our striding and planning our track.  I’m getting better, slowly.

I really liked this exercise, because again we could keep it low and simple, and really just work on pace and step and track.  I know that Cally can jump, it’s all the little finesse things that we need to work on, and we’re slowly but steadily getting those pieces together.

This week we really worked on putting together the forward and finesse with some bigger fences and more interesting bending lines.

That rollback looks like it should be tough, just because it was kind of an odd track, but it actually rode great, which I think it a testament to how we’re coming along.  And that bending line is exactly the type of line that’s caused us problems in the past with locking on to where exactly we’re going.  But we nailed it (even if the 6 got a little tight, like it did here) every time through.


The lines were riding easy and she was jumping great by the end of the lesson.  And you could tell she was having fun with it, rather than the kind of grumpy feeling I was getting during our flat warmup, where she seemed to be thinking “not another leg yield!”  Plus I’m doing a better job of seeing where we’re going–I feel like my eye for a distance is so, so improved and when my brain is on and thinking, can usually make it work for us.  We’re slowly getting to the point where that “make it work” is the default for the brain, rather than the “ack, what are we doing?!” I’d often default to if things weren’t perfect.

I’m so happy with where we are now.  The ulcer treatment and addition of alfalfa has really gotten her back up to the weight we’d like her to be at, and she’s going so so well right now.  Hopefully that means we’re peaking at the right time!

Fall Horse Show Weekend


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Technically the first horse show weekend of the fall, and leaves are coming off my tulip poplars out back at an alarming rate, but it was like 85 degrees and I showed without a coat on Sunday.  Due to cancellations of a lot of the PVDA shows this year, I ended up having to double up on showing this past weekend, because it was the only way I could get the last two scores I needed.

Thankfully the showing on Saturday was a fall iteration of the spring schooling series our barn ran, since Holly had a lot of people asking about fall dates after the other local barn that ran a little series closed.  So no shipping anywhere, and she got to hang out in her own stall under a fan eating alfalfa all day when not in the ring.  The plan was for me to roll in early and get her all cleaned up, then WBBF was going to come do the Adult Leadline class at the start of the day.  That didn’t happen, because either my alarm didn’t go off, or I slept through it (it was a looong and busy week at work last week, and I got home at 3AM and had a 6:30AM alarm set!).  I woke up at 8:04AM–show start time was 8–and panicked, and woke up WBBF and told him he could continue sleeping in, we were going to miss his horse show debut.

Since we missed that, I decided to add in the Cider Class, which is the fall version of the Wine Class we did in the spring. Cally is comfortable, but not the smoothest, and the judge had us pulling some tough maneuvers, like posting on the wrong diagonal so it was bouncier.

PC: Beth!

We made the cut out of the very larger starter group of like 12 into the rideoff class of 6 that actually got to canter around giggling and sloshing cider all over ourselves–please note that I learned from the Wine class this spring, and opted for no gloves and rust breeches. A few of the riders had impressive amounts of cider left, though, and I ended up 5th, missing out on the awesome prize baskets and gorgeous fancy ribbons. Still less disappointing than missing Adult Leadline!

Then I mostly hung out and waited for Open Hunter to run.  Sidesaddle was on the prizelist but I was the only one around to do it, so hopefully it will fill next show.  Our first Open round was also our scored round for the Derby, and we put in a respectable 76 for this trip.

I was happier with this trip than the second one, were we got a little chippy in to the rolltop we didn’t jump in the first round. It was set slightly downhill off the diagonal, so sometimes she builds up a little more step than I realize on that diagonal and we just hit it a little tight. Overall, though, I was thrilled with her rounds, and she flatted nicely too. We ended up with a straight string of thirds for the class, which is a theme I feel like we’re on for the year. Which is progress of a sort, as we’ve moved up from a lot of 4th/5ths to a whole lot of 3rds for the year, just sort of improving our game slightly and working on the little things like turns and track to finesse our rounds, moving us from pastels to low primary colors.  Its a trend I’m hoping holds through til finals in November!

I was not thrilled with our Derby round, because it was a hot afternoon and she was tired and grumpy about bugs (despite like 8 layers of fly spray) and just kind of over it already.  A few sticky lead change issues where she wasn’t quite sure where we were going so wasn’t 100% on board with the lead I was asking for, and a couple of small chips left us with a 65 for our second round.  There were a few absolutely gorgeous trips, so we ended up 4th overall thanks to our solid first round score.  It wasn’t the pretty pumpkin colored 3rd place I was hoping for, but well done nevertheless.

She got a full bath after we were done, and all the carrots in the basket. I was hoping she’d be a little refreshed til morning, so we could go get our dressage scores. Even the show we signed up for was pretty small–ending before 2PM–and was a combination of the JR/YR show and the Senior show that didn’t fill on its own. And they’d changed judges at the last minute to someone I kind of avoid riding under, since they usually score a good point lower than others, in my past experience. But off we went, some of us less enthused than others.

Since that’s the level of horse I was starting off with, and it was warm, I opted to keep warmup pretty simple, since I knew there would be a fine balance between “warmed up enough to put in a respectable test” and “overcooked with zero energy for test two”, plus warmup area at that venue is rather limited, which is yet another reason this show hadn’t been in my plans.

First One was an OK test, not like the one in early August that I went in and rode and knew was one of my best tests ever, but certainly solid. OK stretchy circle, and even the judge commented on our nice lengthenings. First Two was not quite as solid, though for the first time this year, I DIDN’T GET LOST! So that’s a win in my mind, even if my horse was tired and looking to walk in our stretchy circle (she’s usually trying to canter!) and led through the leg yields with her shoulder. Because at least we leg yielded the right way.  And our best move remains the Halt, where she got 7s on both tests, in what is the only move we’ve ever gotten an 8 on.  At least we have that going for us.

We somehow ended up with a slightly better score on the second test than the first, but with two 59%s to finish out our season with the scores we need for PVDA’s Year End awards.

And, guess what, a second and a third! I am completely happy ending our dressage season on that.

We’re going to have a pretty light October.  I’ve just got the other Stellar show on my calendar right now, not sure there’s really much else that will fit into my schedule though I’d really like to pick up one more show somewhere, and focus on lessons.  Then Cally will have a pretty easy end of October while I’m out of town for a conference and vacation combo.  Then the weekend after I get home, we’ll hopefully be showing at MHSA Regionals for the Low Adult Medal and the Adult Eq.  The next weekend I may pick up the PVDA rated show that’s running at the PGEC, just so we can do our freestyle in the indoor there before heading to Mid Atlantic Equitation Festival the next weekend.  It’ll be a quiet October, but November has big things coming for us!

Wrapping up Sidesaddle for the Season


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This week is Maryland Horse & Pony Show, which I have to admit is one of my favorites.  It’s close to the barn, it’s at a great facility, and the new management this year seemed incredibly enthusiastic and welcoming in the leadup.  I arranged the barn’s sponsorship of the Ladies Sidesaddle division for the show, and communication was fabulous–quick, friendly, and efficient.  So I was quite excited to go show there again this year, as it was also our first attempt at the Sidesaddle Over Fences last season, and I was looking for an improved performance this year.

We did a sidesaddle jump lesson with Holly on Saturday, which left me feeling confident in our ability, and optimistic about our chances for the show.  I just need to keep leg on and stop this awful new habit of looking down at the fence.  I have no idea why I’m doing it, and it’s very very bad for balance and jumping.

Weather was a little iffy on Wednesday morning, but til we got all braided and loaded up, the rain had stopped, and even 20 minutes down the road at PGEC, the grounds looked like it hadn’t rained at all.  So I parked on the nice grassy area near the rings for ease of watching and doing some handgrazing later, and watched some of the pro divisions, including the 3′ division Holly was going in.

Cally took one look around the grounds, and took a deep breath like “oh I know this place!” and was totally chill for the day.  We started off our warmup by walking the long way round the showgrounds past the stabling, where as we were walking by we got a “good luck!” from a passing Sandy Ferrell, which is pretty awesome.   Cally handled a kind of busy warmup ring like a pro, warmed up nicely, and got buttered up with some fresh honeycrisp apple from WBBF, who arrived just as we were finishing up warmup.

Since there were ring conflicts between the 3′ USHJA class and the 3’3 class running in the indoor, we bold sidesaddle ladies offered to go ahead and go with our undersaddle and hack while the ring was sitting empty.  Impressively, the show took us up on our offer (BRAVO!!!! to any show willing to be efficient in ring use!), and we went in for the undersaddle.

It is not Cally’s strong suit, either aside or astride, but I was very happy with how she went.

The judges also seemed sympathetic to the fact that the sun had come out and the humidity had kicked up and we’re wearing like 3 layers of clothing, most of which is wool, and kept the undersaddles quick.

We ended up 3rd in the undersaddle, and put in a decent but added line in the hack for a 2nd!

There were a few moments to catch our breaths and have a drink of water as they did the undersaddle before our over fences.  While the fences were not huge height-wise, they were big, full, A-show decorated fences, so even those verticals had lots of fill in front and were built to invite a big jump.

Which as you can see, Cally obliged with in beautiful hunter fashion. Which is, shall we say, not the easiest thing in a sidesaddle. That back crack is hard to stay with, and I was just ending up landing in a heap and not able to recover in time to sort us out down the lines, which was ending up with me needing to circle to get to the out fence properly.  Unfortunately, that led to the dreaded 3rd refusal at the very last fence on course.  So heartbreakingly close, but I feel like we can get there with just a little more work over the winter, because I’ve sorted out the twisting, so that I’m at least landing in a straight heap, which is probably fixable.  Though I have to admit I’m evaluating whether we want to plan on doing full Over Fences next year, because when Cally jumps, she does jump well, and I don’t want to discourage that, just because it’s not the best for sidesaddle.  I can equitate it, astride, and am very happy to keep it there, so it may be a matter of picking my battles.

However, in spite of a not-what-we-hoped-for over fences round, we still ended up Reserve Champion for the division!

Our first tricolor aside! And we also won a mug!

Nothing better than your trainer getting to be both the sponsor and trainer for the tricolor, and our friend Julie and her lovely mare Sophie were Champion, so it was a great day all around for fabulous Thoroughbred mares.

MDH&P is our last rated sidesaddle show for the season, and I’m happy with it as an ending note for us, though we’ll have two more schooling shows at the barn to go aside before the year really finishes.  We’re in a great place for Zone awards, which is something I never ever though I’d be in contention for, so I couldn’t be happier with our year aside this year!

Stepping Back in Time at Warrenton



Warrenton Horse Show is one of the older horse shows in the country, at a lovely old showground in a little town in the heart of Virginia horse country.  It’s a USEF Heritage Show, and I love that sidesaddle is a great way to go show at some of these lovely, classic old venues.  So I was very excited to send my entries in for Warrenton over labor day weekend.

Holly and I both went, and we looked over the entries online the night before, and since it was Hunt Night, the classes were a little different than usual horse show classes.  But it was something like 10 classes, none of which were showing more than 10 entries.  So we figured we’d go early afternoon, be home late afternoon.  Perfect!  We were braided and rolled out around 8:45, with Holly driving, since I said I felt like I’d done a lot of long hauls to shows this year, I’d be thrilled to pay the pro to do it for a change.

It was an easy drive there, but boy was I glad I’d had her drive, and we were in her big truck with 4WD, because she had to use it to get through the mud into one of the parking areas.  It was also interesting to get parked, because it was like horse trailer tetris in there.  I have never in my life seen so many horse trailers wedged into such a small area.  Even if we’d thrown up our hands in the waiting at some point and wanted out, there was no moving.  But at least we managed to get a nice shady parking spot, out of the mud and away from too much noise.  Every time I checked on the horses during the day, when we’d go to get them off for a walk, they’d be napping, so not too bad.

They napped for quite a while.  The Cleveland Bay classes were finishing up when we checked in, and there were quite a few really lovely horses.  If I was looking for a different breed, that would be the first one I looked up. So we had a seat in the lovely old grandstand and watched some of the Junior Field Hunter class.  It was such an interesting mix of horses, some of who looked like they might not have seen many ring courses, and quite a few who might not be “show horse” fancy but I would totally have snapped up and happily ridden.  I was kind of obsessed with a little cobby chestnut who was just loping around with a poked out nose and totally knew the job and took care of her kid.  And more than a few who looked like they also were show horses, and put in lovely, lovely rounds.

We had lunch, did some shopping, watched some more, refilled haynets and watered and walked our horses, watched some more, got a wildly inaccurate time estimate, chatted with friendly folks in the stands, watched some great rounds, rinse repeat.  It was a lot of waiting around, and if I hadn’t been waiting to show myself, it would have been a blast–the Field Hunter classes were fun to watch, and the Pairs classes were amazing.  There was some fabulous riding, lovely horses, and a whole lot of spectators having fun. I haven’t ever seen that many people having so much fun at a horse show, even at WIHS, and it was wonderful.

What was not so fun was tacking up in the dark, which we basically had to do, because we finally went in the show ring at 10PM.  I would not have minded that if I had realized it was going to happen that way.  Even the other ladies who showed up and were like “this always runs late!  We never go before 6!” didn’t seem to have anticipated it being quite this late.  I am a night person anyway, and would happily have slept in and rolled in to the showgrounds significantly later if only the prize list had clarified start times for things a little better.  Like perhaps “Hack divisions not to start before 4PM” or similar would have been an immense help in planning our day and avoiding our horses sitting around for hours and missing dinner.

Needless to say, mare who’d been at the show all day and had not had dinner at 10PM was perhaps not in the best mood.  She wasn’t being bad, per se, just not particularly enthusiastic about being tacked up and asked to work at a time when she’d normally be out in the field sleeping in her favorite sand pit.  I can’t really blame her.  Those of you who ride mares will know the Mare Is Done feeling.

It was not our best showing effort.  She actually wasn’t phased by being under the lights and wasn’t spooky about all the people around the ring, but was super curious about them, so I tried to keep her on the quarter line rather than on the rail so she didn’t have so many picnics to try to scope out.  We started off pretty nicely, actually, until we missed our first canter lead right in front of the judges, which was just heartbreaking, because the trot was so nice.  Then because I’d had to correct her, she was all fussy and cranky.  We were 7th, but at least purple is pretty.

The flat portion of the hack went significantly better, and I was actually thrilled with how she went.  And we jumped nicely into the line in the hack, I just need to be better at keeping us straight, and not looking down at the fence, because we managed to be super crooked, add, and sort of jump out in a heap.  Not pretty.  Hand gallop to halt was pretty nice, though, and she got lots of pats for not killing me.  5th there, fine.

I was on the fence about even doing the over fences, because I knew she was Done, but I was the 3rd rider to fill the class, so I figured I’d go in and see how we did, because she does love to jump.  We had a great approach to fence 1, saw a great spot, and even Holly thought we were nailing it.  And we once again mangled it and sort of chipped into a heap.  The line at 2-3 was a wobbly, choppy mess, and I just could not get her ahead of my leg and focusing on to fence 4, so after a circle, I pulled up, waved to the judge, patted Cally, and retired.  I probably could have cowgirled around the course, but it would have been hideously ugly and completely unnecessary, and neither of us would have learned a thing.

We untacked and basically threw everything in the dressing room in a heap because we couldn’t see a thing, and were headed out by 11PM.  We got home at 12:30AM, and basically pulled the horses off the trailer, pulled off their shipping wraps, and turned them out.  I was a terrible horseman and just turned my horse out still braided (we took out the tail braid) on the thought that at this point, she just wants out with friends and to sleep.  As did I, even though I’m used to a late night.  I rolled out the next day to unbraid, and sort out the mess that was the trailer.

Cally earned a few days off, and we were planning to do a little sidesaddle jumping lesson because I haven’t had one in ages and obviously sorely need one.  I also want Holly to jump Cally aside a bit, so she can maybe do her over fences at MDHP for me, to give her a good go with perfect distances, and I think she’s jumped her aside exactly once.  Sadly, weather has not cooperated with that plan, because instead of doing that lesson right now, I’m looking out at a very wet yard, and Cally is getting an extra day off.

But Maryland Horse & Pony is next week, and most excitingly, on the drive back from Warrenton, we decided to sponsor the Sidesaddle division there as a barn.  I took care of arranging it, and am very excited to help support the division and hopefully let this become an annual thing for us, since it’s a favorite show.

Things Fall Apart


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That’s not a metaphor for our experience at the Harrisburg National this week, it is an actual statement of what happened to my equipment.  Which led to the show being not quite the experience I’d hoped for, but a fun one nonetheless.

Times were super vague, and the show start time was pushed back, so I had no real clue what time we needed to get there, since the sidesaddle classes were scheduled for the middle of things.  Since I was working the night before, I decided to pull the Adult Ammy card and pay someone else to braid for me, so I could get 4 hours of sleep instead of 3, and had Liz braid her for me.  Sometimes, the cost of braiding is outweighed by the value of sleep, especially when you have to drive 2 hours to show.  So when I arrived at 7AM, I had a lovely braided horse, and just needed to clean her socks off, shove as much hay on the trailer as possible, and make doubly sure all the tack was loaded, and were on the road by 8AM.  I figured since the show was starting at 8, but numbers didn’t look crazy, that should put us there in good time.  Hit some traffic around Baltimore, but really, it’s a very simple drive up to Harrisburg for us, and the State Farm Show Complex is right off I-83, so very very easy to get to with a trailer, thankfully.  Harrisburg is also close to I-81, so my mom, and one of my aunt and uncles, came up to watch us since they’re retired and have nothing better to do on a weekday that come watch me show.  (Hahaha. Joke’s on them, they spent the day waiting around.)

Julie had come up the day before, so had actually managed to snag us an empty stall across from them, since their aisle was mostly empty.  That ended up being really nice, since the whole place is climate controlled, and I think Cally is now a big fan of A/C.  Sorry, horse, not happening since I didn’t win the Powerball.  I unloaded some stuff, checked in, found family, and then took Cally for a little walk around, since everything there is under the arena and can be a bit intimidating.  Being Cally, and assured of her own awesomeness and place in the universe, she was totally unphased by the whole thing and walked around like she went to big Indoor shows all the time.

Then we heard that the ETA for the sidesaddle was 1:30, so we grabbed some lunch (walking tacos!) from the food stand and watched some ponies go, and got to chat with family for a bit. Then I headed back to the barns as the Children’s Hunters started, to get ready.

Clue #1 that it was going to be a weird day should have been that when I pulled out my stock ties to get dressed, they were moldy. How does that even happen? I guess I put one of them away sweaty and it just festered? I had to just trash one of them, and was going to use the less-horrible one, but went to the bathroom and saw it in the mirror and was just like, no, I absolutely cannot wear that for an Appointments class. I ended up going to the tack shop and buying a brand new one, which did look appropriately sparkling and gorgeous. Pretty sure some bleach and/or oxyclean can salvage that one kind of moldy one though.

Clue #2 was that as I was finally getting ready and tacked up, the overgirth on my saddle snapped as I was tightening it. Fortunately, it snapped just at the clip where it holds the flap down. I was panicked for a moment, then realized that I could sort of jury-rig it to hold in place, and headed down to warmup, where one of the ladies who does a lot of work on saddles was. I chatted with her as soon as we walked into warmup, and was assured that since all our overgirth really does when showing is hold the flap down (odds of a girth actually snapping are low, and you’re un safe circumstances to stop, unlike a hunt field), we’d be perfectly safe to show. So I started warming up in the tiny warmup which was also crowded with ponies getting ready to show, and Cally was being a bit of a nutter, just cantering weird or not wanting to go forward. Then I realized that with the overgirth issue, I’d never tightened the actual girth again, and it was probably shifting too much–sure enough, I could fit my whole hand between the girth and her ribcage. I found a quiet corner to hop off, and had my family help with the holding and readjusting the girthing, because it really took me getting off, readjusting the saddle on her, then hopping back on and tightening the proper girth, then someone on the ground had to rehook the balance girth in place. Managed to get it all sorted out, and she was going much better in warmup.

We all lined up to go in as they were pinning the ponies, and oh my, how thrilling it felt to walk into that huge arena out of a dark entryway, onto perfect footing and ask for a bit of a trot to settle in and feel Cally take one look around and settle in to do her job. She was not at all looky after the initial entrance, and actually went really beautifully. There was a little bit of jigging when we changed directions and they asked for the trot, and she wanted to canter, which unfortunately the judges saw, but overall, she was moving some of the best she ever has in a flat class.

However, sidesaddle is always tough on the flat, because there are a lot of really nice movers who do the division, as I’ve mentioned before. I was quite pleased to finish in 5th, for a lovely ribbon and a rose! I’ve never gotten flowers with our placing before, so that was a fancy touch to the prizes. The ribbons are also slightly different than normal coloring, a bit darker and more jewel toned.

I handed that and my hunt whip off, and she settled in and flatted wonderfully in the hack. Then we ended up first to go in the jumping portion. She cantered right around boldly to the line, and we nailed the in, and I sort of had no idea on striding and completely got to a half stride at the end and chipped out. Oops, sorry Cal. But she then totally nailed the hand gallop to a halt down the other long side, so lots of pats for that, and putting up with my inability to find a distance. We ended up 4th, so again, quite pleased with that.

They actually left the fences at the 3′ spec that they’d been for the Children’s, which is a height I’m not really comfortable jumping aside. Since Julie is, I asked if she wanted to do Cally for me, as she did at St. Christophers, and she agreed to give it a try after she went on her horse. I shortened the stirrup for her, and off they went. They looked good to the first fence, a single on the quarter line, but then landed in a bit of a heap and pulled up in the corner. Turns on my stirrup leather broke! It snapped clean through the fitting at the top, and I walked into the ring to retrieve my entire leather and stirrup iron. Then I noticed that the sandwich case had also broken through at the top. WTF?!? It can’t just be a mold issue, as the sandwich case, stock ties, and saddle are all stored different places, including in my climate-controlled in my house. So bizarre.

BUT, the wonderful lady who does a lot of sidesaddle leather work, Amy, came to the rescue. She says that happens a lot with the leathers, and she actually carries some spare fittings with her, so come see her at the trailer when we were done, and we’d see what we could do. If not, I had the fitting and the iron, and she could probably make me a new one and have it to me before Warrenton next weekend.

That would have to wait though, because we were randomly selected for drug testing! I was actually weirdly excited about it, which the testers seemed to find funny. I explained that I pay a fee for it every show, and had never even seen testers in the flesh before, so I was delighted to see my money actually being used. I asked if we could stop to take a few pictures at the fancy setup first, and they said of course, they just had to come along. They were actually great about it, waving around some gloves to try and get Cally’s ears up for pictures!

Thanks, tester ladies, we got a great picture!

We went back to the stall, and I warned them she was weird about peeing, we might have to put her on the trailer, but she is totally chill with blood draw.  I went about untacking, etc while they chatted with me and Mom, who was stuffing Cally full of more treats, and was also kind enough to get me my lemonade out of the cooler.  Turns out being in a stall is just as good as being in a trailer for Cally, because I barely got back from retrieving bath supplies from my trailer when she peed for them!  I had to sign some forms, they gave me a slip to check, but said odds were I’d never hear from them again.  Great, the only thing the horse got aside from morning feed was a tube of omeprazole, so no worries there.  Just happy to see my drug test dollars at work!

After giving Cally a bath and tucking her in with water and hay, I headed out to Amy’s trailer, forlorn stirrup leather in hand.  She had a whole old leather, and showed me how she took it apart, and stitched it back on to my fitting/stirrup iron.  I’ve never really gotten to watch a lot of leatherwork up close, and it was neat to learn how to put things together again.  Maybe a bit above my sewing abilities, but she got things back together like magic!  I’m going to hop on with it this weekend to make sure it’ll work for us for Warrenton next weekend, and get measurements to have her make us a proper new one that she can assemble for us at Maryland Horse & Pony next month.  I knew I’d need to replace that leather at some point, as it was super stiff but not something you can really oil, and also a bit of an odd length for me, so this will just accomplish that a bit sooner.  And then hopefully after MDHP, or maybe after the second show at Stellar, I can send the whole thing up to Amy, and have her do the panel work we’d discussed in the spring, since while she has them off she can also replace the overgirth strap for me.  I’ll plan that for a day off, since it’s a bit of a drive up to PA but should be totally fascinating.  There is always something new to learn with horses, and especially with sidesaddle.  And luckily in sidesaddle, there are wonderful ladies who are happy to share their knowledge and skills.

An Overdue Awesomeness Update!


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Cally and I have been busy busy bees in the showring lately!  Last weekend we headed back in to the dressage ring, attending a very convenient show that was less than 5 minutes from my house.  Which was a little trippy, because I drove to the barn, packed up my trailer, and drove…back home, basically.  But, the location was a very nice facility that was close enough that I could wrangle WBBF into coming and cheering us on, even though he finds the dressage stuff even more boring than Cally does.  (He likes ride times almost as much as I do, though.)

It was super humid and hot, so I tried to keep warmup to the bare minimum to get her where we needed to be.  Warmup was in a big outdoor, and I basically got her nice and relaxed, and then we did a lot of walking around, since they had lanes between all their paddocks, so we just moseyed to stay loose and chill before our tests.

I was really happy with our warmup, and that’s pretty much how she went for our tests. There is video, but it’s pretty much unwatchable, due to the light/shadow in their indoor, which led to hilariously awful irising and bluriness. Suffice to say, we were in more of a Training frame than a First frame, but put in good steady tests and the judge seemed to like Cally very much. Our leg yields in 1-2 weren’t perfect, and she was a bit more on the forehand than the judge wanted (unsurprising, since Cally is 75% forehand), but those are things we know, and are working on improving. I was very pleased with two quite consistent scores at 60% and 59%, to finish 4th in both classes.

It was a bigger and more competitive show than the prior week, and I’ve shown under the judge before and know her to be tough but correct and fair, so I’m really very pleased with those results. We now have 5 of the 7 scores we need for a PVDA Year End award at 1st level, and plans for one more show to get those last two scores. We’re not getting earth-shattering scores, but on a horse that’s a 7 mover on her good days, we’re getting solid, consistent scores and I am happy with that, because we’re now working at levels where movement really matters, and I’m not stepping into the ring with a 90% like some of the fancier movers are, and that’s OK.

We’ve also continued to have really great lessons. Cally has really been on a roll, and you can tell she’s so happy to be jumping and working, and feels great.

But Holly and I did have a conversation about her weight and condition, because while we took some weight off of her over the winter at the vet’s advice while the Weird Leg Thing was going on, as she’s come back in to work, she’s put on muscle and topline nicely, but hasn’t quite plumped back up the way she did before. She’s sort of stalled out at Eventer, rather than getting that extra 50# back up to Hunter weight. She’s been shipping a lot, and working hard to put condition back on, and showing a good bit, so our first course of action is a round of omaprazole, for ulcer treatment. She’s a Type A kind of horse, and while she ships well and is great at shows, she’s been shipping longer distances this year, and that’s stressful, even if she’s not seeming especially cranky about it. So we’ve started on a round of that, and added a bit of alfalfa in with her lunch haying. I think a lot of it is her stamping the calories off being angry about bugs, but it tends to be bugs on her legs, and those fly boot things look like disasters waiting to happen, so I’d rather up feed and add more flyspray and food.

Then this weekend, we headed down to the final BEST show of the year. Since it’s super close to our barn, I just hauled back and forth each day, because I think doing that and getting to come home and be turned out for the night with her friends is less stress than a 20 minute trailer ride each day. Saturday, we did the OTTB Jumpers, which is sort of our Fun Class for the year. I was delighted with our first round, where she felt so perfectly rideable and did some really nice rollback turns (the dressage is paying off!) in the jumpoff phase, and I knew we’d be in top ribbon contention for that class. The second round, she fell asleep a bit more than I would have liked before going in, so I put on a bit too much leg and overcompensated with too much gallop to fence 1, and she just got flat and tipped the top rail out. So bummer, we only got through the Power phase of Power & Speed, but she nailed the lines there, and I was pleased though wasn’t expecting much. Turns out we finished with a 2nd and a 3rd for the day, which might be enough for a low Year End ribbon in the division!

Sunday we headed back down to do the MHSA Low Adult Medal and the Adult Eq. I already told Holly that I want to make a real run at a Year End championship in the Adult Eq next year, and she’s totally on board with that plan. Holly and Liz, who won the Gittings in the morning (YAY!!) were already back and unpacked til I got to the barn, so I figured I should get rolling as soon as I was done bathing etc, since it didn’t look like huge numbers in the divisions before the medal. Hahahahahahaha. No, we were there for like 3 hours before I even needed to tack up, because there was a Junior Classic thing going on that created all kinds of ring conflicts, and they didn’t open card stuff the way they did last time. So, at least I had time to eat lunch?

Our Medal round was OK, I was a little chippy to the first fence because it was on a quarter line and Cally just wasn’t quite sure which fence of the like 3 in her line of vision we were heading at for a few strides, and then we got kind of a long spot out in the judge’s line, but we still managed to finish a very consistent 3rd. I mean, we’ve done that medal 3 times now, and been 3rd every time!  Consistency seems to be our new theme, and it’s not a bad one to have.

But it helped a lot that I’d gone in and made a few mistakes, because I’d ridden the course and knew what I needed to fix for the Adult Eq over fences, which would be over the same course. They flatted us first, and that was fine, it’s not our strongest, but we finished 2nd. Then we went in first for the over fences, and I knew exactly how I needed to ride to fix what went wrong before, and we just went in and nailed it. Cally is smart, and if you do a course, then the second time through she knows where you’re headed, so she was on it too, and we put in a really great round that I knew would be tough to beat.

Turns out that it was hard to beat, because we finished 1st in the class, to end up Champion in the division!

I sadly do not have any pix or video of the rounds, but I want you to know we did it in rust breeches.  Because if you’re going to wear those, you really need to ride up to it, and we managed to do it.  I may wear them a bit this fall, just because I feel like I can stand out a little now, because we’re finally putting in consistently solid trips.  Maybe not always the winning trip, but good solid trips to be proud of, and I am feeling so much more confident in my ability to go do that.  It’s a really fantastic feeling to be halfway around the course and know you’re winning it, and able to carry through on that.  That leaves me feeling optimistic about MHSA Regionals, and about MidAtlantic Equitation Finals, both of which are on the calendar for November.

A Fantastic Weekend!


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Last weekend’s show plans ended up being a bit of a literal washout–sidesaddle at Rose Mount didn’t fill, so we didn’t end up showing there, then it poured down rain for two days straight and I ended up scratching us from the musical freestyle at Dressage, By Chance? So while it ended up being a nice weekend from a “relaxing with WBBF and Daisy A Dog” point of view, sort of ended up as a bust on the horse showing front.

But!  We had big plans for this weekend.  We had two excellent lessons this week, a great jump lesson with Holly on Monday, then a dressage lesson with Aviva on Friday.  Cally was going fantastic in our dressage lesson, and we had a great run-through of bits of our First Level tests.  We also discussed the value of obviously working to correct something, or letting it not be perfectly to a letter but done right, to show understanding of things being a work in progress, and that I understand the training process.

We were the last rides of the day at the show, and I felt like I was really able to use a lot of what we worked on in our lesson Friday to warm her up properly–a lot of little steps of quasi-leg-yield at the walk warming up, getting her stepping up nicely from behind before asking for the trot, and just really getting her relaxed and swinging at the trot through some bending and suppling. It really paid off in spades, because we had a seriously the best dressage test I’ve ever ridden. It wasn’t perfect, but it had such good work in it. Our second test, 1-2, was less good, not because Cally was any less awesome, but because I was having trouble with the direction through the leg yield movements and ended up going the wrong way and having an error on the test, and made a few other errors of geometry that left quite a few points on the table. But we still ended up with a 2nd with 61% and a 4th with 58%, and ended up Reserve Champion for First!

Never did I ever expect to get a tricolor at a dressage show at First level! Especially because we finished second only to a Lipizzaner, and if you’ve got to finish behind someone in dressage, that’s not an unimpressive breed to follow behind, especially if you’re on a racetrack reject whose primary job isn’t even dressage.  I’ve got another chance this coming weekend to redeem myself on 1-2, so hopefully we’ll do just as well there.

Then on Sunday, we headed down to BEST for our primary job–equitation!  I actually got there early so we could do a jumper round to warmup, since doing a round then hanging out a while before our primary rounds seemed to work really fantastically for us at Caves the other week.  So we checked in and hustled over to the jumper ring, where we did the Timed First Jumpoff in the OTTB jumpers, which we actually did earlier this spring.  Holly’s masterplan for us was to ride it like an eq trip, just work on turns and keeping my leg on.  There were some nice bending lines and turning questions that worked perfectly as an eq warmup, and other than me failing to put my leg on to the first fence (fortunately, Jumpers, so it didn’t really matter), it was a really nice round that both Holly and I were super pleased with as a warmup round for the day!

I was even more astonished when I checked back later and found out that we finished second in the class for that trip! What a great start to the day!

There was a pretty good group from our barn there, so while Cally was chilling on the trailer with her haynet, I got to walk over to the hunter ring to watch our two riders in the Junior Hunter class, and they put in great trips! So fun to get to watch and cheer them on in their classes and classic. Once they headed in to flat, I headed back to get Cally ready for the MHSA Low Adult medal, which was being open carded with a bunch of other stuff in the other ring. We did very light warmup, literally just jumped one fence since she’d done the jumper round earlier, and headed over to the ring.

It was an OK round, a lot of singles and the third fence, which was set right across the ring on the short end, seemed to kind of surprise her and we ended up with an ugly distance there, but since that was sort of going towards the judge, maybe not as noticeable? Because then we proceeded to nail the rest of the course, great gallop to the single oxer and a fantastic rollback to the final fence. Must have done OK, because while we were once again chilling by the trailer, I heard the announcement that we’d finished third! Got an actual medal this time, which was pretty cool. Hopefully that’s enough points to qualify us towards the medal finals at MHSA Regionals.

If you’re sensing a theme of “there was a lot of waiting around” here, you would not be wrong. We went back to the trailer again, this time with the Juniors, and hung out for like another hour, while it was decided that my Adult Eq division was being switched from one ring to another so it would run earlier, someone actually had to call the MHSA to verify we had enough entries to run separately from the Junior Eq, etc. I had a smoothie, so that was good, and Cally actually drank water, which was very good. Til we finally headed back over to the ring, I think we were both a little over it, frankly. Or at least over waiting.

It was worth it, though, because we went in and put in a decent over fences round–there wre moments I was really happy with, like actually riding to the first fence, and a nice final rollback, but she sort of played through her change and once again got on a weird line to the third jump.

Good enough for second for the day though.  Then we managed to put in an actually really nice flat trip, which Holly said was our best eq flat ever, and finished second there to be reserve champ for the Adult Eq division!  Very very pleased with how well we’ve finally started putting all the pieces together and putting in consistent trips.  They’re not perfect, but they’re at least attempted with a plan, and I’m getting better and better at executing the plan, or at least like 85% of it.

Cally’s getting the next two days off, since she worked very hard this past week, and we’re skipping a lesson this week, too.  Probably do some hillwork/fieldwork, which we’ve been doing a lot of lately while the weather’s been cooperative and the ground has been decent.  We’re heading back to BEST in two weeks, probably skipping the jumpers on Sunday and rolling in a good bit later to just do the medal and eq, hopefully put in even more solid rounds.

A Couple of Hot Weeks


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It’s been toasty here in Maryland of late, so we mixed things up a bit, and had some downtime.  After going splat during my lesson last Monday, I was feeling bruised but excited about heading up to Pimlico with Rebecca and Hitch for Canter For The Cause, and happy that it was going to be slightly less roasty.  Very weird to drive in to Baltimore with a trailer, and Pimlico is seriously in the middle of a neighborhood, so that was strange.  But we were in the big clubhouse parking lot, and it was amazing just to stand on the edge of that track.  Cally seemed totally chill and unphased by all of, which didn’t surprise me, as she’s been back on a track before, including during the Maryland Million just a year after she came off the track herself.

We were with a small group of friends, and while we skipped trying the starting gate walkthrough due to being aside, she was alert but good.  We trotted down the backstretch on a loose rein, and cantered the turn into the top of the stretch, then came back down to a walk to go down the stretch and across the finish line.  We opted to skip the winner’s circle photo op the first time around, due to the line, so we walked down towards the first turn and were discussing the strategy for our second trip around the track when a pony came barreling into the turn at mach 12, obviously totally out of control and ping-ponging all over the place, and zipped so close to Cally that she was Done.  Like, would not move at all, and I could feel her shaking.  Poor girl was terrified until friends went ahead and sent one of the pony horses back for us.  That was slightly embarrassing, but settled Cally down a bit and we trotted back around to the start of the backstretch, where the starting gate was and people were coming in and out.  She spooked at the gate too, so I think she was just totally rattled and a bit unhappy at the idea of being a Racehorse again.

Once I got her back to the trailer and untacked, she took a big breath, had some water, and walked a bit to cool out and she’d settled right back down to fine.  Hitch was his usual perfect self, and they had a grand time, so that was fun.  Both of them practically fell asleep in the trailer on the way home!  And I’m pretty sure Cally was super grateful to be back living life as a show horse, because she’s been totally perfect for every ride since that!

We did a very light dressage school on Monday, just some lateral work to stretch out her back, and get her supple, and called it good with that.  Then we had a lesson on Wednesday that we kept short due to the heat.  Light warmup, and work on a lot of single long approaches, since I could just do a fence or two that way, then give us both a breather.  Turned out to be a great strategy, especially since I’d decided to show the upcoming weekend.  Holly wouldn’t be going, since she’d done three days of showing at two different shows with students the prior weekend, but she knew the facility and knew what classes I’d entered, and how they tended to set things.  So this was about the most elaborate thing we did:

And it went beautifully.  Plus Cally was jumping like that all lesson, we were just in a groove and hitting everything great, and had like one kind of chippy fence all lesson, but left feeling great, like we could nail it like this all day long.

But ugh, I was both excited and kind of over Saturday before it started.  Due to forecast heat, they moved the show start time up to 7AM.  Which naturally left me dealing with two unpleasant things–an early Saturday wakeup, and heat.  But I figured I should leave an hour earlier than planned, since it looked from the entries like only 3 divisions before the medal stuff I was doing started.  But coats were waived in a notice before the start, so that was great news, as it so rarely happens at hunter shows, and is so nice when it does.  I know a lot of people will still wear them for eq, but whatever, I’m an older adult showing without a trainer along (and trainer already said go for it on the no coat front!), so coatless I would happily go.

Naturally, when I got there an hour and a half after show start, the first division was still going.  Because hunterland.  At the office, I saw I was the only entry in one of the random medals, so I swapped that to the MHSA Low Adult medal, since that was earlier in the order, and frankly, earlier than I thought I would need to be there.  Plus it was the same course we’d be doing for one of the later medals, so that would give us the bonus of doing the same course twice, which always helps me, since I tend to somehow mangle the first course.  (Holly’s advice was don’t screw up at all, though that would kind of put her out of a job, should I ever actually accomplish it.)  So I moseyed back to the trailer, unloaded, took Cally off for our usual handwalk/graze, and walked over to the gate to put my number in for the MHSA medal, since the division before it was finally starting, then went back to start getting ready.

We did a very light warmup, and jumped three jumps in warmup.  It would have been two, but we got a terrible distance to our oxer, and I wanted a gallopy do-over.  Then we headed to the ring and were waiting at the gate, ready to go in, when the flat class before it finished.  The gate person seemed happy about that fact of life, and the judge must have been astonished to have someone waiting and ready, as she was still finishing up her card and I had to wait a minute before actually starting.

I felt like our first line, a diagonal 5, was just a little underpowered coming in and I didn’t love our distance out because of that, but we nailed all the singles, and a bending line that was exactly the same 5 stride bending we’d done in our lesson.  We managed some really nice inside rollbacks to two of the singles, and I was a little worried they’d be considered too jumpery for an eq class, especially since I went first and had no idea how handy everyone else was going to be.  But we managed them neatly and professionally, and I was very pleased with how we finished, a long gallop to a single oxer that we totally nailed.  Lots of pats, watched another round who did one of the same handy turns I did, then headed back to the trailer to untack and cool off.  It was actually hot enough that Cally, who is part camel and usually awful about drinking at shows, actually chugged a quarter bucket of water!

(I realize that looks totally unsafe, but unless you tie her long enough that she can drink from a bucket off the ground, she won’t drink at all.  Hence the tie ping.  Cally is weird like that.)

Then I untacked entirely, sponged her off, and put her back in the cooler, shady trailer while I went to take advantage of the ice cream fundraiser they had going on.  Mmm, perfect hot day for an orange creamsicle lunch!  Part of me was super tempted to scratch the other classes and just go home, but I picked up a nice 3rd of 10 ribbon in the MHSA, and we were already there and hot, what was two more rounds?  So we waited some more, and I kept an eye on the ring, since I was having a hard time hearing from where we were parked, but I could see the people in the ring.  Got back over there early, put our number in to go 3rd, right after a trainer’s two entries, and did a bit of a mosey around.  Did a little bit of trot and canter in a grassy area.  Got back to ringside and ready to go, and actually hopped off to wait, since things were going slowly.

Then finally the fences were reset for our height, and the trainer and their two riders weren’t there, so I offered to go right in.  Gate lady told me I was her favorite person of the day, so that right there is probably worth more than a blue ribbon.

We were back in to do the same course we’d done before, but for the BCHSA medal.  I wanted mostly the same ride as before, but with more leg into the first line.  And lo and behold, I did it, and the out felt amazing, and as we went around, I seriously knew we were nailing it, like hitting every distance perfectly, and as we approached to the final single oxer, Cally actually straightened herself out on the line to it.  I honestly have never before come out of the ring feeling like I had the round to beat so much as I did at that moment.  And what an amazing feeling it was!

The trips for the medal and the adult and junior eqs were all open carded, so we caught our breath for two trips, then went in for our adult eq round.  Our first fence was great, we had an excellent trot fence rollback to a single oxer–the line we rode there was absolutely perfect–but the final line was a bending we hadn’t ridden yet, and I thought it was going to be a straight gallopy 6, but kind of got to like 4.5 and realized we didn’t quite have the gas left in the tank for that.  We did 7, and while it wasn’t the worst chip ever, it wasn’t the perfect line it could have been.

I hopped off again, took off the martingale and left the girth loose and just relaxed and caught our breath a bit.  Our first flat was the undersaddle test phase of the BCHSA medal, which I knew was ours to loose on the flat, because we’d had that perfect fences trip.  She was good, did a nice trot-halt-canter transition right in front of the judge.  They asked for a change of direction through the canter via a simple change, and I did it through the walk, mainly because I couldn’t remember whether the proper eq was is via trot or via walk, so I think maybe Holly and I need to do a bit of a Eq Tests refresher one lesson.  We lined up, and I really wasn’t sure how I did in the flat phase, since I didn’t see how anyone else went.

We WON!  I was so astonished, she got lots of pats coming out of the ring, and I was grinning like an idiot as I collected our ribbon.  I had someone put our ribbon on top of the whip and martingale, and we waited while the junior eq class ran its flat.  Then it was time for our adult eq on the flat, and I knew going in that she was just done.  The trot didn’t feel as great, and she had kind of a sassy moment right in front of the judge, and tried to canter a bit when asked for the trot the second direction.  Nothing too bad, just overcooked.  As we were lining up, they announced we were second in the fences, so I was hoping maybe the judge liked us enough that we’d pull an OK ribbon in the flat, but no such luck, 5th there.  But I didn’t even care, the over fences matters more and we’d nailed it there!

I was so pleased with her, and hopped off right after we got through the gate and gave her a mint before I gathered up our ribbons, and our martingale and whip, and headed back to the trailer, just ahead of a line of storms approaching.

Cally has been great recently, and I really feel like we’re hitting our groove for the year.  Hopefully we’re hitting it at just the right time, since we’ve got some BEST shows upcoming for more Low MHSA Medal and Adult Eq classes.  We’re handily qualified now for Mid Atlantics, if I want to do it, so I just need to take a look at the dates and prizelist and my budget.  I’d also really like to see if we can qualify for the Low MHSA medal finals, which is in early November, and would be a perfect warmup for Mids.

Remembering How to Fall


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The last time I fell off was 3 years ago, when I fell and dislocated my clavicle.  There have been a couple of close calls, and near-panic-attacks at it almost happening when I started back in the saddle after the injury.  But Cally’s a pretty solid citizen now, and my riding has gotten pretty decent, so there haven’t even been a lot of close calls lately.

That all changed today.  I had my usual Monday morning lesson, which worked out even better than usual this week, since it’s supposed to get ridiculously hot the rest of the week, and the farrier is coming Wednesday, our other possible lesson day if the weather doesn’t cooperate with Mondays.  Things started off really well, keeping it simple, as I warmed up while Holly set a gymnastic grid for us, and adjusted a couple of other little fences, since she likes to mix grids with a fence or two that are single long approaches.  Cally felt great warming up, if slightly lazy, but woke up and was feeling great as we started jumping.  Like, nailed the warmup fence every time, and the long approach to the cool strawbale single that looked huge but rode really well.

Then we moved on to the grid, did it twice pretty low, then Holly put the fences up, and it rode pretty great the first time through, with Cally feeling super happy to be jumping something that required her to actually jump.

The second time through I felt like I rode poorly to the oxer out, and so I came around to do it again before we added it in to some combinations with the other fences. We were nailing it over the middle fence of the grid when the BACK RAIL OF THE OUT OXER CAME DOWN ON ITS OWN! Presumably all of you reading this are acquainted with horses, and how well they deal with random weirdness. Which is to say, not at all well. I mean, obviously there was a ghost in the ring mucking with that fence, and she was NOT having any parts of that, and did a pretty damn impressive stop in the one stride between the vertical and the oxer. Momentum, however, was not on my side.

Cally seemed somewhat more horrified at me being in the footing than she was at the fence, and just sort of stood there until Holly assessed my condition then grabbed her.  As you can see, I did my best at making it over the oxer on my own, but ended up landing butt-first on the brick wall.  Thankfully, not on my shoulder, but somehow that bell boot laying by the jump standard ended up velcroed to my shirt.  But, I was not panicking and crying and hyperventilating like I’d had happen a couple times when things got dicey immediately post-shoulder issue.  So, while I now have a giant bruise on my ass, it is easily covered by clothing, and I am not really any worse for the wear.

I hopped back on, and Holly made the scary haunted oxer into a little crossrail behind the boxes with no back rail, and we trotted over it, with Cally still a little spooky and jumping it about 3′ high anyway, but she went.  To finish on a strong note, Holly had us do the long approach to the haybale jump again, and that went well, so we ended there.

I feel like finally falling off again, which is something that inevitably happens as a rider, is a good thing to have had happen. And really, this kind of no-fault circumstance is probably the best way for it to have happened, because you certainly can’t fault Cally for spooking at a rail moving on its own.  I’m going to be a bit sore tomorrow, but hopefully feeling fine by this weekend.  We’ve got plans to go do Canter For The Cause at Pimlico, which should be a blast.

And I think next weekend we may try to go up to McDonough for their local MHSA summer show, and try doing the Adult medal, and the Adult Eq division they have.  Courses there last summer were very inviting, and it definitely looked like a soft 3′, which should be what we need to get our toes back in the bigger adult eq stuff, which we haven’t really done in a while, with concentrating on sidesaddle, and her being out hurt half the year last year.