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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rain, rain, PLEASE go away

All last week, I had been hoping that I was going to get to go x-country schooling on Monday. It was gorgeous and warm allllllllll week, and Monday was the only day I could have a groundperson, so I was hopeful that it would hold out. And... it did not. Of course. Why would it? Yesterday was dreary, cold, and sleet-y. On top of that, my dog came in from her morning romp absolutely three-legged lame, so we had to go to the vet in the afternoon anyway. (As it turns out, being a greyhound she has a corn on her pad... which I had to diagnose myself, the vet was TOTALLY unhelpful and a waste of money and time!)

So THAT sucks. With this weekend being Rolex and all, I won't be able to do anything until NEXT Monday, if the weather holds, and if the weather doesn't hold? I've got one more Monday (or maybe a Saturday if I can convince Shannon) and that's IT before King Oak. I am reallllllllllllly jittery about that! We NEED to get out and at least get over some jumps in a x-country setting so her brain doesn't explode the first time we do it. Historically, the first course of the year is always a little bit hairy, just because she hasn't done it all winter. Maybe this year will be different. But I'd really rather NOT take that chance, thanks very much! So keep your fingers crossed that the weather holds.

In other news, we had another awesome conditioning hack on Sunday, this time back to the Larkin Bridle Trails where I went for our first 2-hour hack. We're up to 25 minutes of trot now, with the remainder of the two hours walking. She's still having an easy time of it, and didn't break a sweat or hardly breathe at all by the end of it. She did, however, have a total panic attack about the bugs - head flinging, twitching, tossing, obnoxiousness all the way home, unless there was an open area where there was a breeze. At some point, I put her to work and did leg yield zigzags back and forth and back and forth across the trail to try and get her mind on something else, but to no avail. I eventually just gave up and listened to my iPod and ignored it. We passed two horses at some point, and she didn't even slow down or look at them once - just trotted right on by like they didn't exist. But later in the ride? We passed a tiny little farm, and a rooster crowed. CUE FLAMING HEAT. She started screaming uncontrollably and peeing all over the place. And when the rooster crowed again? You bet, more screaming and peeing. Seriously, Gogo? Not even the same species! I could make a very lewd joke right now but I'll refrain.
So that explains why she's been so touchy about the bugs, and a little bit tense through her topline starting out. I'm hoping once her flaming-ness goes away a bit, she'll be a little more tolerant. I hear through the grapevine that King Oak is very buggy. So let's just hope for a 120mph hurricane that morning so all the bugs will blow away.

Yesterday, I was bumming about not going x-country schooling and figured I ought to jump instead, but I was just in a bit of a funk over my poor dog's lameness and all the dreary weather, so I decided that I'd take a bit of a break from our hectic show schedule and just have some fun. I was totally inspired by Daun's post about just going for a nice bareback cruise, so I did too. (One of our boarders came into the tack room after I was done and proclaimed in a very put-out voice that I was clinically insane for doing it. Thanks.) We hacked out through the orchard for a few minutes, then went into the outdoor (which is not fenced in, by the way) and actually did some legitimate bareback dressage. I've had some difficulty in the past with Gogo's relatively bouncy trot (for a bareback ride, that is!) and her very up-type canter while riding bareback, so I figured I'd see what I could do. And lo and behold, when she came round (or, well, roundER than she had been going), I suddenly had a place to sit that was totally comfortable. And when we cantered? Totally balanced, totally comfortable, both ways. I didn't feel like she was dropping out from underneath me during every stride like she tends to want to do, and like I've felt bareback in the past with her. It was lovely. And comfortable. And FUN. I used to ride bareback ALL. THE. TIME. when I had my first horse in his semi-retirement. All winter long before I bought Metro, I never put a saddle on him. I even jumped him 3' bareback a few times (wasn't supposed to be doing that... thank god we didn't get killed!). When I first got Metro, I used to take off his tack after every ride and go lope around bareback... he had THE most rocking horse canter in the entire world and it was so comfortable. I miss those fuzzy boys.

Today, I had a rather fabulous dressage lesson. She started out pretty tight in her back, and I tried something different - when she came above the bit, I widened both hands. When she relaxed and stretched down, I brought my hands back to normal position and relaxed them. She figured out pretty quickly where I wanted her to be! Maybe this is one more tool I can work into my warmups. Our transitions were rather stellar today, and we spent a good deal of time schooling crisp halts - Gogo tends to want to kind of shuffle into them, and cross her front legs over from right to left (escaping through my apparently wide-open left aids!), so we made a real effort to make sure they were PROMPT, SQUARE and STRAIGHT. That REALLY improved the quality of the trot we had too. We also got to school some shallow canter loops, which can be difficult for her due to her rather enormous canter stride. I can play around all I want with exercises to develop collection in the trot, but her canterwork is going to be HARD to try and collect. I haven't really even gone there at this point much, because the quality of her working canter is very imporant to me, especially at these lower levels of eventing, and I want to make sure that it's seriously 100% before we delve into these harder questions. I don't doubt that she's ready to work on some exercises to help develop collection in her canter though, so I imagine we'll start asking her to load those hind legs more and bring the enormity of her stride into a more contained way of going. Her lengthenings/mediums are getting HUGE. I love it.

All the leaves on the trees are starting to explode, giving everything a green fuzzy haze. The grass is growing rapidly, the forsynthias and apple blossoms and daffodils are all in full bloom. The rain smells fresher, the horses' sweat sweeter. Summer is coming, and I can't wait. Aside from all this wicked rain, I love springtime around here. We had thunderstorm roll in today with one ENORMOUS thunderclap - I was bringing the three year-old in from the field, of course, rather hurridly from the suddenly downpour when suddenly lightning flashed. I had about two seconds to register what it was before the thunder, and the little thing jumped on top of me and about trampled me in his panic. Back in the barn, I discovered a bunch of wide-eyed, worriedly nickering horses, and one of the horses that had been in the crossties had broken his halter, left it still hanging in both ties, and had wandered away naked to the garbage can and was eating something out of it. Hmmm...

Twelve days from now, it'll be the five-year anniversary of Quincy's death. I don't think I quite understand where that time has gone.

And two days from now? I'll be in Kentucky screaming for my favorite riders, running pell-mell around the x-country course, shopping 'til I drop, and snuggling with my fiancee. Seriously, could there POSSIBLY be a better way to spend a weekend?

Gogo developing a lengthening across the diagonal. And me posting awkwardly.


Julia said...

We have the same rain... so disappointing! I would also love to get out into the field anyday now but it doesn't seem like it will be happening!

Good for you for bareback-ing. I don't understand why people would disapprove of it! If you have a good seat and sense of rhythm and balance (which are all pretty crucial when horseback riding...) you should be able to bareback no problem! I find it's one of the most relaxing things to do after a ride or on a day you're just not up for a serious ride!

hosschic said...

BAREBACK! DEFINATELY! They R insane for not doing so themselves. That is where you find your true balance and feel. No finer communication between horse and rider. A closed mind is a terrible thing to waste, I feel bad for them. GOOD FOR YOU! Bruce Davidson said on his interview with Eventing Radio Show that its a shame these riders today havent taken the time to hack more. When top riders were asked if they had a week to do anything they wanted to prior to a major event what would they opt to do. They said go back to the arena and work on circles. He said he felt sorry that instead they didnt opt for taking a trip to Ireland and ride across some open field on their horse to build confidence on open unknown terrain. He also said that more riders coming up through the ranks should ride more bareback and without stirrups. Thats what builds a better rider that is needed today. I have been applying these tips my whole life and I hope that it will give me the edge needed when I "GET THERE". :)
I am catching a flight in 3 hrs for KY myself. You never know ... its a small world may run into you stranger!
ENJOY every minute!
Brenda Ramsell from Maine

Daun said...

Andrea, Yay! I am so proud of you for standing up to the Draconian dressagies. :)

Have fun at Rolex. Call me every five minutes and tell me what you are doing. Take lots of pictures. If you run into Max, tell her that Percheron she loves in Texas is doing great.

My love to your finacee.

Funder said...

I sent several angry text messages to my husband yesterday, informing him that it was SLEETING on me in APRIL and that this is completely unacceptable. He laughed at me >:(

Have fun at Rolex!