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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

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

Friday, April 10, 2009

We're Counting Down

The clock is ticking down. One month to go before our first horse trial at King Oak. We're amping up our conditioning, we're honing in on our weaknesses in our dressage tests, we're settling our over fences work, we're perfecting our our strong points and bolstering our weak points. We had some excellent dressage work Tuesday, Wednesday, and today, and some blisteringly fast gallop work yesterday. Our trot-canter-gallop work was pretty spectacular if I do say so myself, partially because during our 420mpm 4-minute work, she rocketed off after a series of joyful dolphin-back bucky-humps into an all out sprint for a good lap around the field and I just let her go to get some steam off. I've been on a lot of horses going at full tilt and I've NEVER gone that fast before. Tears were pouring out of my eyes and I just had to hope we were going in the right direction because I could no longer see clearly, we were going THAT fast. It was awesome. Sometimes, you just gotta fly. She settled into a more appropriate 450-470mpm pace again, and we cruised our last three or so minutes at that speed. Since we missed a week of galloping last week, we essentially started back at square one, which goes like this:

Walk hack to field (15 mins, because every child within 20 miles stopped us to pet her)
4 minutes trot
2 minutes walk
4 minutes trot
2 minutes walk
4 minutes trot
2 minutes walk

4 minutes 350mpm canter
2 minutes walk
4 minutes 350mpm canter
2 minutes walk
4 minutes 470mpm canter
Walk hack home (10 minutes)

As I said last time, if you're trying this schedule make sure your horse is sound and fit BEFORE you begin these sets! They are designed to push a horse fitted up for aggressive Novice/passive Training courses, and progress over time to a fitness level that would have a horse ready to run a Training 3-Day. We're obviously not going to do THAT this year (but next year we will!) so we're going to back off before we hit that high point. Like last time, she was HOT and FIT and ready to roll, and it felt great to have so much horse under me. She is so easy when it comes to fast work like this. She makes my job very easy - I give her a pace, then just sort of float there in my 2-point forever while she maintains that exact same tempo for as long as I want, no speeding up or slowing down required. She's always been like that, even as a freshly-broke 5 year-old who couldn't steer. We never had tempo issues, ever. I've never been on a young horse who didn't have some trouble with balance and keeping the same rhythm going when they lost it, but that was how she was.

And her dressage work has been lovely. It's taken her some time to warm up these past two weeks, but once she's there, she's THERE. Our work on Wednesday especially was quite incredible at the end - she was light and balanced and employed in a rather advanced state of self-carriage for her level of training. Her contact was feathery light but still extremely honest, and any change of bend or direction, any change of the length of her frame, any sideways or medium movement and she was right there. I happened to glance into the side mirrors when I was doing a very excellent shoulder-in down the long side at one point, and just went WOW. She was GORGEOUS. I wish I could figure out exactly what it is that makes her suddenly amazingly perfect. It's like she goes from eh, eh, eh, to eh....MAZING! AMAZING! AMAZING! all at once.

You know, just like last year, we're kind of going into this show season partially trainerless, coachless, and for the first time ever, sort of friendless. I'm training mostly by myself, and I'll be going to shows totally alone for most of the summer. Won't even have a friend to videotape or to share a sandwich with :(

It's just Gogo and I, together. From the centaur connection we have when performing a completely harmonic dressage test, to the wild feeling of being aboard Pegasus when we gallop or jump, to the quiet moments when we are handgrazing behind the arena after a good workout, it's just us, together. I love having a big support group, but if we can't have one, then so be it. As long as we're together, we can do it.


DressageInJeans said...

You silly!!

You have all of us!! :D

(Okay, so I can't share a sandwhich with you.)

I'm glad to hear she's going well though! :D

(PS. I need name ideas for a fitness blog. I've totally been running! :P!)

Alighieri said...

If lessons are part of your compensation package, you should let her know that you want to be compensated monetarily instead if she is going to be late/leave early, or maybe have lessons on a different horse. Then you could apply (or not apply) the skills you learn on the other horses to yours if you wish.

Just trying to look out for you! When I was a WS, my trainer acquired a fun habit of talking on the phone forever during my lesson. I ended up leaving shortly after that since lessons were pretty much the only reason I was a WS.

hosschic said...

It is sad to succumb to that idea ... of going it alone. I am there myself, as nobody I know wants to partake in eventing to the level I do. It would be nice to have people to share the good & the bad with. Someone to help you get your horse ready so you could prepare better mentally. A groom perhaps that aspires to be like you. Niece? Some youngster that is trustworthy that would love to do what you are doing someday? Its nice to teach to someone that wants to learn while having the company. :)You never know... so ask around & plant the seed.

OH & BTW - you will have greater satisfaction when the time comes to say "Yes... I trained her myself." :)
Its great to hear that you are enjoying the goodness of Gogo and edifying her try's while staying positive. That is what will get you there.

Heidi said...

Too bad you aren't out here in Seattle! Then you could join in the fun with my eventing barn! We range from Pre-BN to Prelim level this year so you would fit right in :-) Good luck with Gogo, it sounds like you are in for a fabulous season!

Patricia said...

That sounds pretty unprofessional of your trainer. I bet you 10 bucks she was 45 minutes LATE and tried to cover it up by saying that "you need to warm-up alone." I call bs!

I've had trainers that did the same thing. They didn't care to know me or my quirky horses, so they let me figure it out on my own. I even had one that told my friends what I was doing wrong, but wouldn't say anything to me. I had to get pointers on my barrel runs through the grapevine.

Good luck this show season. I wish I could be there with you, but I'm stuck in smelly Ohio.

Funder said...

I'm with the other commenters; I'm not entirely sure your trainer is giving you what you deserve. It really sounds like you're doing a great job with Gogo by yourself, but you still deserve the trainer's full attention at the right times! Especially if it's part of your compensation... but that makes it a trickier situation to discuss.

If you show out this way I will totally come bring you a sandwich and video yall!

Dressage in Jeans - the new blog should be Fitness in Jeans, of course!

Stacey said...

I so know the feeling you are talking about with the trainer and going by yourselves. If I lived closer I would so be there, video camera in one hand and a bucket with brushes, Lexol, the other :)

Albigears said...

Hey Andrea,

I'm new to your blog and love it. On April 2nd I brought home a coming 4-year-old OTTB as an event prospect, and I'm interested in going barefoot. How did you get started? I don't think there area any barefoot farriers here in Spokane, WA. Any resources better than others?


manymisadventures said...

That's hard. It sounds like your trainer means well, but maybe just isn't sure what to do with you guys. Surely there's someone around who can help you improve a little more, without rubbing you guys the wrong way?

Andrea said...

To everyone: Yeah, it's kind of sucky. Here's the catch, Manymisadventures: she's also my boss, and I live on the property. My lessons are part of my compensation package, because I get full training board. Unfortunately I think she thinks she's doing a great job with us, which is kind of weird. Like I keep saying, I really don't dislike her at all, I just don't feel like I'm quite getting what I expected.

Albigears; welcome to the blog and congrats on your new horse! If you are looking for a trimmer in your area, I would suggest you start with the AANHCP. Here's the link to all the practitioners in Washington state: I got started on the whole barefoot thing because of an argument I had with someone while my last horse was being shod. She was a crazy, bad barefoot person who was doing the wrong thing and berating me for shoeing my horse, claiming I was killing him. (Actually, in this case it was killing him and kind of did kill him, but I don't agree that shoes kill horses, not by any means!!). I defended shoeing horses to the nines, but for whatever reason, after the argument I was still curious about what she had to say. So I went and looked it up, and, well... it made sense. Lots of sense. There wasn't really much that we could have done to save Metro - he also had epilepsy and a good natural trim ain't fixing that - but I swore that my next horse would go naked. The last straw for me was the day we put Metro to sleep, because I pulled his bar shoes to keep for myself and found that under the pads, his nice fat frogs and strong feet had become complte mush, the frogs less than an inch across (he wore SIZE 5 bar shoes so this is kind of a seriously big deal!!). When I got Gogo she was shod with pads, and she propmptly threw both shoes herself. I took it as a sign and never put shoes back on again. That was two and a half years ago now, and she's yet to take a funny step anywhere.