Wednesday, November 11, 2015


This post has been waiting to be finished since September.  I was going to tell you all about my amazing show with Poppy after a 4 month hiatus.  I was excited.  I had exciting news to share.  Then in typical fashion by my ex was sure to sabotage it.  I won't go into the detail of what he did.  I don't want this post to be about him (he doesn't deserve that). I simply wanted to explain why I have been silent.  It has been a whirlwind and I have learned some valuable lessons.  Most importantly when the going gets rough, you learn who your true friends are... I have also had to change trainers to add to this complete cluster f@#$.  It has taken me awhile to gather myself (again) but no matter what, I will not be broken.  So here goes.  Here is the 2 month old post that you should have been reading back in September...

The last 2 days before the horse show Mother Nature did not cooperate and my riding was rained out.  Normally this would have freaked me out but with all of the other shit going on in my life I just said "whatever."  I was going to the show no matter what.  Whether we jumped .95m or 1.15m, we were going.  I spent the night before packing the trailer.  What normally is something I can do in my sleep I felt rusty at.  I had to go through the list of what I needed (and yes I forgot stuff).  I was also proud of myself for airing up my truck and trailer tires myself and greasing the bearings on the trailer.  I can do this I told myself over and over (just in case I also went online and got a membership to USARider too).

Of course I left late for the show Thursday morning.  When I got there I literally grabbed everything off the trailer as fast as possible and tacked up.  We started in the 1m.  I didn't get to walk the course and learned it standing at the in gate.  Since we were having trouble with liverpools I brought a blue tarp with me to school.  As soon as trainer made the tarp wide and the jump bigger Poppy exited left. Twice.  There would be no third time.  In fact I was driving so hard over that jump I got the end of the whip caught up in my very sentimental diamond horse shoe necklace and I felt it break as we landed.  Heartbroken.  I knew I would never find it in the muddy ring.  As I brought her down to the walk I felt the necklace fall from my neck and I was able to catch it.  That had to be a good omen!

We went into the 1m and the liver pool was an option jump.  Of course we opted for it.  I got her over it and then she refused the next jump.  We finished the course with 4 faults for the refusal and a bunch of time faults.  Next was the 1.10m so I decided to go for it and make her get around.  This time she stopped at the liverpool.  Second try I drove her hard (chair in the air and all) and made it over.

I then spent the rest of the day contemplating what to do Friday.  Friday was the Finals for my division.  It would be 1.15m and inside the coliseum.  The size of the jumps weren't the issue.  We were both rusty and I needed to ride strong and decisively.  There was a 1.10m class I could use as a practice before the finals so I decided to go for it.

The day of finals my practice class didn't go until late afternoon and there were 80ish trips in the 1.10m.  It was never ending.  This show hosts the Regional Maclay class so all of those riders used the 1.10m class the practice.  The amound of time faults were crazy, hence the never ending class.  I went 60th in the order.  There was no liverpool unfortunately.  It was not my best ride but we jumped every jump and just had one rail. I felt okay to try the finals class.  I knew I was going to have to ride strong and box her up.  Running at the jumps wasn't going to guarantee she would jump, I needed her between me, contact on the reins, and keeping her in that box.  Over, under, or through.  I was first in the order of go.  The children's finals went first so I got to take her back to the barn and watch a couple rounds.  Only 3 went clear in their class so that tells you it was a challenging course.  It was set at 1.15m with some large wide oxers.  Jump #10 was one of those large wide oxers with a liver pool under it.  It had a long approach so plenty of ground space for me to screw up. 
I ate the first jump.  Bad.  This alerted me that I needed pace.  We were not boxy.  I had walked 5 to 6ab in a long 8 so I opted for a whoa 9.  I whoed too much and got there long so she pulled the rail.  She was a little looky and sticky though the one stride on the rail but jumped it.  I rode stong to the liver pool and she jumped it amazing!  We finished with 4 jumping faults and 1 time fault.  I was 1/10 over the time allowed.  I knew we likely wouldn't ribbon with that round but I felt fantastic as we has a good solid ride.  A huge improvement from the previous day!  Trainer felt the same.  After we processed the course she said to stick around and see if I got something.  They annouced the results and I couldn't really hear.  Again I thought I got nothing.  Then someone told me I won.  I was in complete disbelief!  No one had gone clear and I had the least amount of faults!  We won!!!!  Best feeling in the world.  I am pretty sure I texted everyone I knew.  Here are some pictures of the swag.

We did it!

I couldn't stop smiling

Swag: scrim, neck ribbon, regular ribbon, medal, and a belt

close up of awesome belt
And lastly, the video.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Next Chapter

May 27th was my last post.  It is hard to believe that almost 4 months have passed.  Some days 4 months seems like an eternity and sometimes like yesterday.  I have pondered this post many times and delayed writing because I couldn't really think of how to articulate the turmoil going on in my life.  There are things I don't want to say and have it "out there," especially since my anger is not yet resolved.  I don't have the writing eloquence as so many of the bloggers I follow do so I will just stick with what I know, throwing it out there.

As of July 15th I am officially a divorcee.  I have not been official in changing my name back legally but it is on the list.  The very long list of things to do.  The shit went down April 26th.  April 25th life was "normal" (though I had suspicians and was doing some snooping).  April 26th he picked the fight that led to a week of silence until I finally confronted him.  He was in such a hurry to get out of our 10 year marriage he was willing to walk away from just about everything but most importantly the property.  By the first week in June we filed for divorce and a few days later he took his essentials and left.  6 weeks later it was official.  I don't remember much during that time.  It is all a blur.  I had my house and barn, all 4 dogs, cats, horses, etc but I had lost myself.  During it all I had no interest in riding.  I got on Poppy here and there.  Maybe once a week and poor Luxxx not at all.  Other than my once a week barn help I am taking care of this place on my own.  I mow, weed wack, clean, etc this whole place myself.  Shit has been breaking left and right and you know what?  I've learned to just add it to the list.  I have also learned that I have some amazing people in my life that either come fix it or tell me who to call.  I don't know if I can do this all myself forever but I am damn sure going to give it my best.  I have my house, I have my barn, I have my dogs, I have my horses, and that is what is most important to me right now.  The thought of having to sell the property and figure out what to do with all my animals was a thought I couldn't bear.  They got me through the hardest thing I have dealt with so far.  And mowing helped too.  It is kind of strange how calming mowing can be... and work.  In the midst of all this I received a promotion.  I took on alot more work and was able to bury myself in that and not look up. 

So here I am still trying to figure things out.  What I know since April 26th is that this was a blessing.  No really, it is!  I would rather be alone than unhappy.  I wasn't happy and I didn't deserve many of the things I went through.  At this point I think I am mostly out of the "dark stage."  That is one reason I didn't post.  No one would have wanted to read those thoughts.  Athough I read blogs I rarely commented.  I knew to keep my doom and gloom attitude to myself.  I also know that I am ready to ride again.  I have been trying to get Poppy into shape with the goal of doing an A rated show In September.  The summer monsoon season has really made it hard to ride.  The show is here and my mare is still out of shape but we are going anyway.  I don't care if I bump down 1 or 2 divisions, I am going to go do what I loved and missed the most.  He may have broken my heart but he will not steal my soul.  Send some positive horse show vibes this way because we will certainly need them.  I will keep you posted...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Back to Basics

My dear problem child is being just that.  He is back to Luxifer.  Back to basics we go.  He is making a visit to my cowboy friend M this week.  In the mean time I'm back to ground work.  Luxifer is arrogant and has minimal respect for others.  Although he has come a long way he still has a long way to go.

While we wait to go visit M I decided to do an exercise to build trust with him.  When we started him we worked him in the round pen and doing what is called joining up.  It works best in the round pen but since I don't have one I used the lunge line.  I layed the ground work by grooming him (this always relaxes him) then going to the small paddock and asking him to stand quietly, back up, walk forward, etc.  He briefly pays attention then focuses elsewhere.  It is constant "yo you, pay attention!"  He also loves to tear off at a gallop when we get to the lunge spot. I made him walk to the center and wait until I told him to go.

Now I am by no means an expert at joining up so I simply practiced what M had taught me last year. I let him lunge and kept him forward until he showed signs of wanting to stop.  It took him quite awhile to wear down.  As usual he was distracted and only occasionally turned an ear to me.  When he starts to relax he will put his nose to the ground.  When he did this I turned my back to him.  I made no eye contact and looked down.    Eventually he stopped and walked over to me.  I walked away and he followed.  He was still distracted but this was progress.  A pat on the forehead and we headed to the barn.

We will do this again today.  This horse has to learn respect and trust with me.  I feel completely unattached to him and I am sure this is mutual.  When he misbehaves the bond and trust grow further apart. This perpetuating the bad behavior.

I will try to update our work with M later this week.  This horse remains a challenge but we aren't giving up yet.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Stepping Back

This blog post on the Chronicle could not have come out at a more opportune time.  If you haven't read it please do.  She's right.  There is life outside the bubble.  As my life feels like it is spinning out of control I am questioning everything.  I have started to wonder if it's possible to be too obsessed?  Maybe in my quest to get better and move up and bring my horses to their top level I forgot about the outside world???  In the bubble I didn't really care about the outside world until it all started to careen out of control.  So here I sit questioning everything and taking a step back.  It's the only logical thing to do when work life, personal life, and hobby life are all in the pits.  

Poppy is at least doing well.  Luxxx is another story.  As you know he is a tough one.  Always challenging me.  He has started some bad behaviors and I am not in an emotionally healthy place to deal with them.  I have someone coming out to help me with him this week.  I will see how that goes and I will either continue with that or send him to a friend's for training.  Correct training is so important with these young horses (and also nipping bad behaviors) so I will step back and let someone with a clear head on their shoulders step in.  

So that's where I'm at right now.  Still here and trying to get a good view of all this chaos and chip away slowly.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Liverpool Saga

I'm having a good day so I feel like I can write a post and not be a downer.  I greatly appreciate all the supportive comments.  As my mom says...this too shall pass.

Horses.  Horses are good.  After the last show where Ms. Poppy decided she no longer does liverpools that has become my focus with her.  I went out and bought a bunch of blue tarps and now several of my jumps have pseudo liver pools.  I also bought an extra to keep in the horse trailer to bring to shows.  I made the tarps scary and wide.  One is hidden behind a gate.  Another is under a wide airy oxer.  The third she has seen under a tall vertical.  The first time I kept the jumps small, 3 footish.  My goal is to build her confidence and make these scary things become no big deal.  So the idea is keep the jumps small at first and go up each ride as she gets more confident with the liverpools again.  

The first time jumping the wide airy oxer with the tarp beneath she ran out left.  I went right back to it, held the right rein and used the crop for encouragement.  She went over but was reluctant.  We kept jumping it until she no longer felt backed off.  She gave me no issue with the other oxer with the liverpool.  The next ride although she didn't run out she again felt backed off.  I was sure to ride up to it strong and jump it several times until she felt more confident.  On Saturday I put the liverpool jumps up a hole each and now she is riding up nicely to them.  I will continue to gradually go up and eventually move those tarps to different jumps to keep us both on our toes.

My trainer had a couple people back out of the show this weekend so we aren't going.  Maybe she can rally the troops for the next one in 2 weeks.  

Thursday, April 30, 2015

I Can't Think of a Title

My blog silence is purposeful.  It's one thing to have things with the horse going crappy whether it be training issues, lameness, or colic.  I can write about those things.  What I am currently sad about I can't blog about.  Maybe down the road but not now.  

This doesn't mean I am done blogging.  Maybe I am pausing.  Maybe a break.  I don't know.  When I can write something more meaningful than "everything sucks right now" I will.

Life has a funny way of working out so I'm sure I will be back and better than before.

For now here are some photos from Poppy's last show.

Warm up ring

Thursday, April 23, 2015

When It Rains, It Pours

I appreciate all of your encouraging comments about my horse show last weekend.  I was looking forward to moving on this week and getting to ride the baby Monster.  Tuesday he came in from his paddock with some puffiness in his front left leg.  By the time I got home from work it was puffier, had heat, and he was lame.  I cold hosed it,  poulticed it, and turned him out.  Since he was just a bit off I wanted him moving around to keep the swelling down.  

While I re-poulticed it Wednesday morning I noticed Poppy wasn't eating.  She didn't touch her feed or hay.  The Marshmallow never turns down food!  Sometimes she will eat a little grain then devour her hay and finish the grain later.  Not this morning.  She just stood quietly in the back of her stall.  I texted my vet and she told me to go ahead and give her Banamine.  I took away her grain and hay and gave her the meds.  She wasn't distressed or acting like she was in pain.  She would even take a treat.  My vet told me after awhile to give her an oily bran mash.  She ate that and pooped shortly after.  That was it for poop for the rest of the day though.  That afternoon my vet said to turn her out on the grass and see if she would drink while out.  She did and she happily grazed.  For dinner she got another oily bran mash and I kept an eye on her all night to make sure she didn't make a turn for the worse.  On a more positive note, Monster's leg was improving.

This morning Poppy was still alert and nickering for breakfast.  She got another oily bran mash and pooped so my vet said she could have a little hay.  She ate her hay and continued to have normal bowels all day.  She didn't drink as much as I would like though.  Another oily bran mash for dinner, out on the grass, and a little hay.  I will watch her again tonight but thankfully she is much better.

It is heartbreaking to see our fur babies hurt or not feeling well.  This week was a double whammy but I am thankful both horses seem to be on the mend.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Where Do We Go From Here?

I probably could have gone into far more detail in yeaterday's post and even given more insight but I chose not to.  I truly want to move on.  I don't see the point of dissecting a bad show to pieces when we have had tons of good shows.  Amazing shows.  What I do want to do is take what I learned and fix it.

What did I learn?  My mare can jump 1.20m with room to spare.  I also learned she isn't confident enough yet at that height to jump anyway when something is spooky.  At the lower heights she was confident enough to way over jump the scary liverpool.

So how do I fix this?  I give her confidence.  If you guessed that every one of my jumps at home will likely have a liverpool or liverpoolish thing under it you are correct.  Will I drill her?  No.  I will simply expose her to lots of things so they aren't a big deal and then we will practice them at the bigger heights.  Will she stop again at a show?  Possibly. At our next show (which is in May) I will ride her like she might stop.  If I am confident she will learn to be too.  And that's it.  We won't dwell.  

She finally will take a treat from me again.  Like I said yesterday we are both beat up emotionally.  It's been a long time since I've had to play the bad guy with her.  I haven't needed to and I got too comfortable.  

Poppy will have part of this week off so we can both have a break and then we will get back at it.  In the meantime baby has a clinic to get ready for!

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Learning Experience

Well we survived the show and moving up to the Low Amateur Owner Jumpers.  We are a little banged up.  A little frustrated.  A little wiser.

We started out Friday with using the 1.15m as our warm up.  It was a combined $500 1.15 or 1.20m class.  I didn't want to start at the 1.20 yet and chose the 1.15 to get in the ring after a month off from showing. 

 Poppy was perfect.  The first round 80 second time allowed was tight and even as fast as she is we finished just under that.  Many did not.  In the jump off I practiced my speed and tightening up my turns.  We ended up winning the class and I was thrilled.  It felt like a great way to set the tone for moving up on Saturday.

Saturday I entered the Low Amateur Owner Jumpers which were set at 1.20m.  I don't have the course for that because after I walked the course they changed it and I had to learn my new course standing at the in gate.  It was a power and speed class (table IIc).  I felt ready.  She jumped the power phase beautifully. The first jump of the speed phase was a liverpool.  Apparently we don't jump liverpools anymore and she said hell no complete with rearing.  2 refusals and we were excused.  I had to get her around.  There was a 1.10m class later so we entered that.  Trainer got me a bigger whip and we practiced in the warm up ring with a cooler under an oxer.  Poppy turned into the fire breathing dragon.  Rearing, leaping, etc.  My apologies to those I about ran over as she ran around out of control in the warm up ring.  I emphasized the point to her that refusing was not allowed and we went in the 1.10m. She stopped again.  Second try I gave her the option of over or through and she smartly chose over and we finished the course.  We have been jumping liverpools for a couple of years now.  This was not ok.  Poppy and I went back to the barn both exhausted and frustrated.  In all her antics she also stepped on her heel and cut it open.  I doctored that, cleaned her up, and went back to the drawing board.  She also barely touched her dinner that night.  

Trainer and I concluded that she is being her difficult self.  We had these issues when we first moved up to the Adult Jumpers.  I have to not trust her and over ride.  There was no way I was going to do the Classic Sunday at 1.25m.  Thankfully they added a 1.15m class and I did that.  

Again she stopped out at the liverpool.  I didn't want to try again and trainer didn't give me the option.  This show does red/blue rounds so I could go back in for that.  Again out to the warm up ring to emphasize no stopping.  Over or through.  We went in and I let her know I was pissed.  Spurs in her side and off we went.  The line with the Liverpool was a 6 stride.  We did 5.  I rode hard to every fucking jump.  We finished clear.  We felt defeated but we finished.  

Back at the barn she wouldn't eat her treats and also didn't finish breakfast.  We are off our game but we will fix this.  The height was not an issue for her.  She is scopey and 1.20m is easy for her.  I will work on building her confidence though so she believes that.  She feels great but I will also have my vet check her and make sure she isn't sore anywhere and need some maintenance.  We will work through this.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ready....Ok Maybe Not!

It's been a hectic week. Work has been crazy so I have been frantic in the evenings to ride before sunset and it is leaving time for little else.  Like blogging.  I appreciate your feedback on my Horse Showing series and will continue to do those.

So you know how I've whined about wanting to move up and why am I not moving up??  Trainer said I can move up this weekend and now I want to throw up and I am completely panicked.  I am having a case of the "I can'ts."  I can't jump 1.25m!  How do I go from 1.15m (3'9'') to 1.25 (4'1'').  4 inches doesn't sound like much but fucking sounds ridiculous to me right now.  And the oxer spreads get wider.   

I wasn't planning to show Friday but now I am.  So here I sit stuck at work, trailer isn't packed or even hooked up.  I have a shitload of stuff to do when I get home and now I am freaking about moving up.

So stayed tuned to see what happens with this shit storm.  I'll try to update on IG (luvjumperlife)!  If it does not go well the pics might be of wine.  In mass quantities!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Horse Showing: USEF Attire Rules in the Jumpers

There seems to be the assumption that in jumperland it's anything goes.  It's where  you take the hot crazy horses that can't make it as a hunter, you run around the ring like you are on fire (because it's timed yah know), and you can wear whatever you want.  If you show on the A rated circuit you know this is not true.  There is a skill level needed in the jumpers which gets tougher as the jumps go up and USEF clearly states what is acceptable attire.

Some of you may be like me and actually read the rule book when it comes out each year.  I like to know about the rule changes, and there are often many.  I've been doing this a really long time so I've seen the evolvement of rules and sometimes it does get confusing on what's allowed these days.  In addition to checking USEF website the prize lists for the show will also print the attire allowed.

Here is what USEF a states:
9. Attire
a. Formal Jumper Attire. Dark, muted or similar colored, or red (scarlet) coats are required; team or sponsored coats of different colors are also permitted; white or fawn breeches; a white tie, choker (unless the shirt, by design, has the chocker built in for its intended use) or hunting stock, and a white or lightly colored shirt must be worn. Shirts must have a white collar and white cuffs. Shirts must be fastened at the neck and tucked into breeches. Boots are required. Half chaps are permitted as long as the color matches the paddock boots being worn.Members of the Armed Services or the police may wear the service dress uniform with protective head- gear. (See General Rules, GR801.2)
b. Proper Jumper Attire. Coats of any color are required. Breeches must be light color (white, fawn or canary). Pastel and dark colored breeches are not allowed. Shirts, light in color, must be tucked into breeches and fastened at the top of the neck. Ties or chokers of any color must be worn (unless the shirt, by design, has the choker built in for its intended use). Boots are required. Half chaps are permitted as long as the color matches the paddock boots being worn.
c. Standard Jumper Attire. Coats are not required. Breeches of any color are permitted. Shirts (polo shirts are permitted) must have collars and sleeves (sleeves may be either long or short), and must be tucked into breeches. Sleeveless shirts and shirts with exposed hoods are prohibited. Boots are required. Half chaps are per- mitted as long as the color matches the paddock boots being worn.
d. In extreme weather conditions, the use of jackets, sweaters or raincoats can be allowed by management and/or permission from the Jumper Judge/s. Permission must be granted before entering the competition ring.
e. In cases where the above requirements are not followed, the penalty will be either a possible warning (for the first offence) or elimination. BOD 1/12/14 Effective 12/1/14

The prize list will indicate which attire is required for each class/division.  Typically the classics I enter are formal attire.

My division classes are standard attire.  For larger shows like HITS I will typically wear a coat and my tan breeches.

Sometimes I go a little more casual and wear a show shirt and no coat or a polo shirt.
This just made me realize I have a lot of pink shirts.

Or a sweater if it's cold.

And in Florida we consider cold weather to be extreme weather conditions so we wear a jacket.

All of these are acceptable outfits by USEF a standards.  Times have changed and although I do not believe showing in breeches other than white or tan, it is acceptable to now show in colored ones.  I also don't think it is ok to wear half chaps.  I might be thankful should I ever have a boot malfunction at a show and need to, however I feel if you are showing at the rated level you should invest in tall boots.  I am pretty certain my trainer would not allow this either.  Although I like blue and black coats I am a tad in love with the light blue ones.

Maybe if a get sponsored by a clothing company like Reed Kessler I will get one.

This is your basic run down of attire.  I will bring you some more break downs of jumper rules in the future.  I'm also open to suggestions of jumper topics if there are any rules you are confused on.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Horse Shows and a Clinic!

This pretty much sums up my week and explains my blog silence.  It's FRIDAY though!!  The weather has been perfection which means I have been doing lots of riding.

Next Friday Poppy and I head to an AA show for some jumper fun.  I don't know what we will be doing.  I assume the High Adults but I need to sit down with trainer and discuss why I am not moving up.  This is a good low key show for it too.  Poppy has been good this week and we have had a couple great jump schools.  I feel ready.

I have mailed off the check for Luxxx's first clinic on the 25th!  Woo hoo!  It is nearby and being taught by his breeder.  Since they have a division for greenies I figured why not?  It will be a good experience for him.  So this means we need to continue our hard work.  He is doing well with the latest consistent riding.  Of course he has days where he relapses and forgets stuff.  That's ok though.  I am finding he does best without breaks.  Typically I like to give babies lots of walking breaks to keep that brain from frying.  For him he totally loses focus and has trouble regaining it.  If I just continue working him and compensate with a shorter session he seems to thrive with this.  

Lots of rain on the forecast for next week so we will see how much riding I get in.  Happy Friday and Happy Riding!

Friday, April 3, 2015

TOABH: Introspection

What would your horse change about you?

Poppy would probably ask that I make decisions earlier to the jumps.  Something like "can you please not decide to whoa at the last minute so I have to pull a magic trick out of my ass to jump clean?"

I posted this photo recently and as usual Poppy looks great.  The reality of this jump is I had a really bad distance to it.  She covered it amazingly.  So I think she'd ask me to make my decision earlier just as my trainer preaches to me. She would also tell me to feed her more. Well she really does tell me this every evening as she gobbles up her 1/4 scoop of grain and proceeds to bang on her feed bucket.  I'm trying to keep the Marshmallow's roundness under control...

Luxxx would probably have a list of things to change around the barn but maybe not so much about me specifically yet as he is at the beginning of our riding journey. He likes to be ridden but I think just for the attention.  He might ask "can we just park and not work?  Maybe watch the dogs play, that's my favoritest."  So that's probably it, he would ask me for more attention and stop telling him no.  I do feel like on the ground I am always telling him no or correcting him.  So I am working on spending more time giving kisses and petting so all our interactions aren't "work."

That face though...

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Googly Eyes & TBT

I swear one of these days I will bribe someone to come over and help me take proper pictures and video of this boy!

Taken April 2015

Taken April 2014

I think he is such a baby until I look at photos from last year.  Still a baby, but getting less babyish.

And this is the photo that gives me googly eyes...

Soooo dapply!!!  Swoooon!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Horse Showing: Rated versus Non-Rated

I've talked about doing this post awhile ago.  I show at A and AA shows regularly and an occasional unrated local show.  I can offer my opinion on the differences that I find in the jumpers and why I prefer one over the other.  I plan to also take this a tad further and do a series about horse showing.  I find it interesting to read blog posts about horse shows written by people that either don't show or only occasionally show because my perspective is typically different than theirs.  It could be the area, our experience level being different, or just being out there in it.  We all play arm chair quarterback, but it always different out there on the field.  So here you go.  This is what I know.

This is the most obvious difference.  Entry fees can vary by hundreds of dollars.  For instance a stall at our local non-rated show is $50.  At HITS it is was $250.  A jumper class at NR show is $15.  At HITS it was $50 and classic was $150 to enter.  Rated shows also have fees such as $18 drug fee, horse watch fee, office fees etc.  NR shows may have horse watch fees and office fees but since they don't drug test you don't have that one.  

WHY?  Why are there these big differences in costs?  Standards.  When you are regulated by a governing organization such as USEF you have guidelines to uphold to keep your rating.  Footing costs money, fancy jumps, rated judges, jump crews, office staff, stewards, stabling, tents for temporary stalls, water trucks, drags, tractors, etc.  Then there is the purchase price of the rated show "dates" you own.  And those can be coveted.  There is a lot more money that goes into making a rated show and that is reflected in the costs.  But don't think these rated show horse managers aren't making money.  They are.  In fact there is one on the East coast that if you follow on Facebook you will learn all about his private plane, yacht, water front homes (notice plural), etc.  Seeing that makes me pretty unhappy paying premium prices to show.  So why do it?

Now our local NR organization is made up of few members who really work hard to put in their shows.  They get about 150 entries.  I've been to rated shows with that low of a number and I've been to others with thousands of entries.  Now our local show has one guy who waters and drags the 4 rings.  He does this the day of and a couple times that day.  It's not enough.  When they hold a rated show there they spend weeks prepping the footing.  Footing is important to me.  Bad footing can give you a plethora of issues and injuries to your horse.  I won't.  WON'T risk taking Poppy to a place with bad footing.  And when Luxxx went to school at the local show I found myself picking up rocks and just praying he didn't come up sore from the hard ground.  Are all NR shows like this?  Of course not.  Do all rated shows have excellent footing?  Of course not but they won't be around for long if they don't.  Most NR organizations are non profit and run by volunteers.  They don't have the time or resources to do ring/footing prep 2 weeks out.

Here you will see a big difference in the quality of horses at the NR and rated shows.  Now I have learned my lesson at a big rated show. Do not snicker at that little paint horse that looks like it was just pulled out of someone's back yard.  That little paint horse can fly around a 3'6 course like its tail is on fire and snap its knees to its nose.  And I have also seen big gorgeous athletic looking horses that struggled to jump around 1m.  You see it all, you really do.  But when I was in the NAL Classic at HITS with 45 riders and horses, I was not in bad company.  They don't even have 1.15m jumpers at our local NR show, there aren't enough people to fill it.

I have also seen far more scary things at our NR shows than rated ones.  There are the lame horses (head bobbing or 3 legged not just NQR), people warming up over oxers backwards, beating of horses, running (why do people think jumpers must equate to running???), poor horsemanship (I'll just leave than one vague), oh and the one time that the jump off course included only the "b" element of an in and out (which is illegal by USEF rules, "a" must be removed to use "b" only).  Have I ever seen scary stuff at rated shows?  Sure but not to this magnitude.  It comes down to the NR shows bring out all kinds.  And that's what they should do.  It's for people and horses to learn about horse showing.  It's for people who have a smaller budget to still be able to go out and compete.  But sometimes it is more than I have the patience for.  When I am on a green horse and people don't understand ring etiquette (ie passing left should to left shoulder) I sometimes think to myself that I would rather pay for a rated show.  But ironically the 2 times I ever got run into in the warm up ring was at an extremely busy AA show!

Really for me it is the standards, organization, and governing body rules.  I overall get a higher quality experience than I get at the NR shows (and the exhibitor parties are nice).  And to ensure show managers are keeping competitors happy and providing quality USEF even sends out a survey to you after each rated show.  Poppy learned the ropes of horse showing at some NR shows and so will Luxxx.  When he graduates the lower levels he will move on to the bigger shows and drain my checking account a bit more.  

And you know those blog posts where we have talked about those dream horse shows we want to go to?  Aren't most if not all of those rated?  It's the big leagues kids!  And unfortunately all that glitz and glamour (snicker) has the price tag to go with it.  More importantly, it's your decision.  You go show wherever it fits best for you, your horse, and your budget.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Weekend Review

Does anyone else have a hard time coming up with titles?  Why is that so hard?  There's only so many times I can name a post "Catching Up."  Anyhoo...

Last week I rode once thanks to crappy rain.  Oh maybe that should be my title, "It Never Stops Freaking Raining!"  So Saturday I rode baby Monster for the first time since last Saturday.  I was home alone so I was sure to give him some extra time in the lunge.  He ran and bucked so much I seriously questioned  my sanity for considering riding him.  But on I went.  He was so good too.  Oh and it was cold (and by cold I mean FL cold so low 60s versus 80s) and windy.  Then the neighbor started shooting their cannon aka rifle.  He shot forward for about 3 strides then came right back to me.  I was really proud of him.  Nothing new on his training.  For the next months we will continue to focus on riding in front of my leg, bending, and stretching into the bit.  He is better each ride and even with a week off I felt like he picked right back up.  He is moving forward nicely to the left.  To the right he starts sluggish but is getting the hang of it.  What I do is I give lots of leg and cluck, driving him forward.  Since he is better to the left I do figure eights every few times around and work to maintain the pace.  I keep a dressage whip on him so I can give a tap when he decides it's time to stop.  Anytime he tries to make a "let's take a break" decision he gets several more laps until I say it's ok to stop.  And also with babies it's important to stop in different places and never near the gate.  You don't want them getting gate sour or associating a certain place in the ring with stopping.  I am also working with him on standing quietly.  Since his favorite word is whoa he does this well but his 4 yo brain gets bored and he fidgets after awhile.  That's ok.  As long as he improves a bit each time.  He is actually stands perfectly still for mounting and dismounting now.  These may seem like small things but this is what will contribute to him being a well behaved citizen down the road.  

Poppy has been good too.  We didn't jump this weekend due to the ground being so wet.  I could have done some little stuff but I really didn't feel like she needed it.  The next round of rain comes Wednesday so I will try to get a jump school in by then.

Two and a half weeks until our next AA show!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

HITS Million

Monday was the HITS Million in Ocala to wrap up the HITS circuit.  It was a gross rainy day and after intensely studying the radar all day I decided to go with some friends (and Nugget of course).  With this line up, how could I not go watch.

At big equestrian events like this we instantly become squealy little girls (toting wine).  Oohing, ahhing, and looking out for our idols.  McLain Ward and Quentin Judge sat diagnal from us watching the first few rounds.  

It was a huge, tough course.  Jumps were 1.60-1.65m.  HUGE!  Lots of rails, some stops, etc.  Several elected to voluntarily excuse themselves.  Those riders deserved a round of applause.  At this level they are not out there to school.  If they were struggling on course or having a bunch of rails, they elected to pull up and save their horse for another day.  This wasn't their day and that's ok. Bravo!

Sadly Beezie and Simon had a rail as well as Rich and Flexible.  I was really excited to see Flexible out there at age 19 and killing it.  One cheap rail at the end.  I was also excited to see my favorite horse from last year, Ammeretto.  He's a 15.2 dark bay and I love him because he's 15.2 and sails over these jumps.  It wasn't his day though and he had multiple rails.  6 returned for a fun jump off.  McLain set a blazing speed on Rothchild then Charlie Jayne came in on Chill RZ and took a LONG distance to a blue vertical and and beat McLain's time to win.  It was amazing.

It was a great time and I am so glad I went.  Even from the stands the jumps looked ginormous.  It made me realize how itty bitty the jumps I jump are.  I can't imagine jumping something that big.  I've worked my whole riding life to move up to the A/O Jumpers and that looks terrifying enough!  So the first time I go show in the A/O Jumpers and think the jumps look monstrous I will remind myself of the jumps at The Million.  

What about you, would you ever want to jump 1.60/1.65m?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Pendulum

As equestrians we can all be like the swinging pendulum some times.  Maybe even a tad Bipolar-ish.  You day it's "oh my god I suck, my horse has taken ten steps back , I will never get good again, I should just retire."  Then three days later we are all like "I had the lesson of my life, my horse is amazing, we are on track for the Olympics."  Sound familiar?  

Last month when I took baby Monster to the local show to school I was feeling a little like the first scenarios.  He was just not the forward ride I enjoy.  I told trainer I was open to selling him as I think he is meant to be a hunter.  Then my favorite holiday happened (DLS) and things are changing.  Monster is back to regular work.  It's almost like starting over with his under saddle work due to the inconsistent work over the winter.  That in itself was frustrating but then we had a light bulb moment last night.  It didn't take long to get him moving softly into my hand and forward.  Yes forward in front of my leg.  And stay there!  He was better to the left than right but we were able to end with maintaining this forward trot both directions.  The light bulb hasn't gone off at the canter yet.  Key word yet. It will, I know it.  I have been focusing on this at the trot for just a week and have made so much progress.  Yes, we have only walked and trotted for a week.  Why
move on to the next gait until we are at a comfortable point at the previous one?  Last night we cantered and worked briefly on moving in front of my leg.  His head was up and he was wiggly.  Once I have him going in front of my leg I will work on head position and the wiggly stuff will also go away as he gets more comfortable.  

I ended my ride last evening with that awesome top of the world feeling we all know.  That feeling we strive for and that keeps us motivated during the darker times.  I am so proud of baby Monster.  Not only for his progress under saddle but look how grown up he looks!

I need to get a friend to help me take a proper conformation picture.  When he is on the lunge I have taught him that when stopped he must face me so he didn't understand why I was asking him to stand like this.  As you can see I backed him up too much so his front legs are too far under him.  Luxxx deserves a proper picture.  He has turned a liver chestnut color with gorgeous dapples.  He's just lovely.

What about you, do you swing on the pendulum?  Come on, fess up!