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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

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

Sunday, August 2, 2009

End of July Analysis

July has completely flown by. All for the better too, really: between the moldy apartment and a month and a half of sleeping on the couch, the drama with Alex, and Gogo's only semi-explained spooky-nuts behavior at our last two events, I am READY for August and a clean slate!

Summer is really here in the thick, but it's a bit sad that I only started to really think that starting just last week. It's been raining so much that it sort of felt like the eternal end of spring and not the nice, hot, steamy days we've been having for a little over two weeks now. But the dog days are now here, with blazing hot sunshine, humidity so thick you have to carry a machete to cut your way through it, and daily afternoon thunderstorms that arrive at around 4pm and range from mildly annoying to pretty darn scary:


Onto our July analysis.... there's quite a lot to think about:

July Goals:

1) Place Top 5 at the Area I Novice Championships (my real goal is to WIN them, of course, but I know that that is a pompous goal to make and that I'll jinx it if I do!)
Psh! Well we all know how that went! Certainly, you win some, you lose some, and that's really how the game of eventing goes: it's more than just talent. It really has a ton to do with circumstance and really, when you think about it, luck sometimes. We rolled our way through our first three events like they were crumb cake, but we didn't go into Areas feeling strong due to all the drama and mess that my life had become in the preceding weeks. Add in there, if you will, the Lymey-ness that Gogo has been exhibiting and voila! Recipe for a poor outcome, sadly. We've rehashed it, we've analyzed it, we've treated the medical issues and we're well on our way to addressing the mental ones, too. We will bounce back from this, no doubt. These things can and do happen, and all we can do is figure out how we can twist them to learn lessons our of them and make us better as a team.

2) REALLY focus on my position over fences - stop that leg swinging and upper body ducking!
Thankfully I have been able to work on this, thanks in large part to the Eric clinic, which was very helpful. There's still a long way to go, but tomorrow I plan on setting up a series of bounces and work on me, me, me. Focus is on my position now, because that is the key to making everything better.

3) Continue to fine-tune our gallop speed and fitness via GPS, and, if possible, work at higher speeds over XC fences (not really a goal for this month, but definitely for next)
Yes, as expected, this is more a goal for this month as opposed to last month. My GPS is, unfortunately, not all that reliable (it's a cheap model, and I will be investing in a better one for next year for sure), but I am still going to use it and take it with a grain of salt when I know it's reading wrong. We will not be working so much at speed over fences as we will confident and quiet rides to fences, but I would like the concept of balanced speed to be introduced when she is feeling particularly bold.

4) Continue ironing out the kinks in our Novice test - transitions, freewalk - and continue to work on more complicated Second Level movements (and develop collection further!)
We certainly are coming along pertaining to our kinks - unfortunately, now it's the other stuff that was so solid before that we need to focus on, like the quality of our gaits in general! I've been told many times that I am the type to find a problem, seek it out, and pour all my energy into fixing that problem, often times overcorrecting it and sliding off in the opposite direction - for instance, I used to round my shoulders and slump in my halfseat, but now, according to Eric, I have overcorrected and have too much arch in my lower back! I need to make sure I don't miss the forest for the trees, and focus on the bigger picture as well as the finer details. But I do have to say that at King Oak, our weakest points were our halt and our freewalk, things that have always been less than perfect unless EVERYTHING leading up to the movement was perfect and Mars and Venus and Pluto were all correctly aligned. We got 5's on both those movements. But at Old Chatham, I received an 8 on my final halt, and at Riga, I received an 8 on my freewalk! Woo hoo! Improvements made!

5) Figure out exactly what I want from the month of August, our last large span of time before the AECs in September
I have spent a good deal of time figuring out what I want from August training and show wise. I want, first and foremost, to get our XC schooling as much as we can and as successfully as we can. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, I'm afraid. I don't really have access to a groundperson, and lessons with big name local trainers are difficult to secure (and often times more expensive than a month's worth of groceries). The rain has closed almost every open course around, and I don't know when I'll be able to really get out. I've been dropping lines EVERYWHERE - Town Hill, Mystic, Riga, Walkers, Jenny Goebble's place, Babcock Hill, Willow Creek, Oakendale, Ayer Mountain, etc!! - and so far I've only heard back from Town Hill and Walkers, both closed due to rain. Poooo. Also in August, I want to make sure I successfully make it around Huntington's XC course during their H.T. I think once everything is addressed, we won't have a problem. I need to focus on my equitation over fences, I need to make sure our gallops are up to snuff, I need to make sure all the issues contributing to our problems are addressed (treating Lyme, checking eyes, checking hocks, checking ME).... and we gotta have some fun doing it all! :D Summer is hot and sticky and fun, and we are spending every evening rolling around together in the grass and enjoying the sunshine (well, I am anyway, she's too busy eating grass) and we have plans to make it over to the river and go for a swim hopefully this week too. Summer is the BEST!

August Goals:

1) XC school our brains out, and successfully!!! And make sure our gallop fitness is to a T! AND make sure my jumping equitation improves!
2) Successfully complete the Huntington Farm H.T. WITHOUT XC PENALTIES!
3) Make sure every possible issue with Gogo is addressed: treat Lyme, check eyes, and hopefully not but maybe if we have to, inject her hocks... please let's hope not!
4) Finesse our Novice testwork, continue finessing First Level work and continue to work more Second Level movements in
5) At the end of this month, be fully ready, prepared physically and mentally, and excited for the AECs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And 6) Make sure we've having fun doing it all :D

With the apartment now back in top shape, I can finally say I am getting good sleep again, and with that sleep comes the need to start focusing on my body in other ways again. I've dropped weight - who wouldn't in this situation? - but it's not because I'm being healthy, it's because I'm not eating. And that's just the wrong way to go about all this! So added to the list, I want to make sure I am getting enough exercise and EATING WELL, because how can I expect her to be in top shape when I myself am not?

My spirits are back up because this is what I see when I look up from my computer now:

The fruits of this year's hard labor so far. We will add more blues before the year is out, I promise you that.

EDIT: By the way, did I mention Gogo continues to be completely insane? Today when I was tacking up for our conditioning hack, I put her saddle on and girthed her up, and she was standing there like she was completely glued to the ground for whatever reason. She looked awkward, so I walked in front of her and put both hands lightly on either side of her halter to ask her to step up out of it. What was her response? Broke her halter and left it hanging in the crossties, turned around, humped her back all the way down the aisle like a rodeo horse (as if she'd never had a saddle on before), and skidded to a stop at the end of the barn aisle. I can only imagine that I must have temporarily pinched something somewhere, because removal and checking of tack was inconclusive, and when I asked her to step forward again in the crossties exactly the same way, she moved forward as she normally would have done. MARES! We are now onto ANOTHER new halter....

Seriously, she keeps my life interesting. That's one thing I can safely say is NOT about to change!


Ambivalent Academic said...

I am so impressed with your organization and analysis of training goals. Good on you.

RE: the GPS/gallop paces. I have never had good success getting accurate pace with a GPS (even a high end one). I've used them primarily for running (rather than riding) and I find that if there is any interference (like trees or clouds) I get inaccurate pace calculations. Ditto for trying to run loops in an open area - the resolution is usually too poor for good accuracy.

I have had great luck learning pace by going for gallops on training tracks - are there any racehorse breeders nearby that would let you gallop on their tracks? I think that this is really a great way to go because you get real time feedback as you check your watch against the furlong poles - you can adjust your pace mid-gallop and learn what the proper pace "feels" like rather than trying to remember the session that most accurately checks against your GPS later.

RE: Gogo's halter breakage. Sorry, but I had to laugh - I can totally imagine one of my goofy ex-mounts doing exactly that then looking at me like "What?"

When's her next chiro adjustment? That sounds like she needs an adjustment in her withers. Given the rearing issues in her past, it's likely that withers were uncomfortable for a long time and it might take several adjustments to get them totally OK again.

I really enjoy reading your blog - I can't tell you how nice it is to get some vicarious eventing while I am horseless. You guys are an awesome team and I look forward to hearing more about your adventures and successes. Good luck!

Patricia said...

Shorty broke a halter recently. Or rather, am 800 pound Morgan ripped it off his head. Shorty, now close to 1120 pounds, got his ass handed to him by a tiny Morgan! Fortunately, I keep spare breakaway parts around. I use one breakaway for turnout that can get nice and muddy, and another that is kept clean and used for grooming. I contemplated getting a really nice, thick leather halter for grooming, but if he ever pulls back I think I want the breakaway, you now?

I've always wanted to try a GPS with Shorty. I'll bet he can really rip around if he wants to...

It sounds like you've got some good goals ahead of you. I wish you and Gogo lots of success through the stickiest month of the year.


Dressager said...

Ah yes, mares! I love my mine to death, but when heat rolls around or there's anything with a diesel engine nearby all hell breaks loose. She's almost broke loose from her tie-up once, but I had to drop the saddle and run over there and I accidentally scuffed up the scuffed up the seat from brushing it with my foot. But Greta didn't break her neck, so I guess all was well.

I haven't done jumping in ages (even then it was super-novice jumping) so I can't help any there, but I think I might have some advice with the free-walk and halt. The halt, it usually just depends on the judge. They can be picky. Not all of them, but a good majority. You want to stick with deep head nod and probably saluting by putting your arm out to the side or on your leg (probably already know this haha!)

I'll do a nice bow for one judge and she'll say it's too deep, and another will say it was perfect, and another will it was too showy, and another one will be fine with it. The BEST one I saw on the score sheet was "You're too much of a novice for such a bow. Leave it to the pros."

For that last judge, I had just done a quick head nod because I forgot the saluting arm. It was weird but it totally made my day.

The free walk, I found, you will need to have tight reins so you retain that contact and use the reins like you normally would but much longer, but enough so the horse can still have their head. It's complicated, I don't really know how to describe it.... Also, the free-walk is supposed to be very energetic like a working walk, so I have found that alternatively squeezing my legs in tempo with her footfalls helps Greta pick up the pace a bit.

Hope that helps any!

Gogo is adorable and sounds like such a ham. You guys sound like you are doing awesome so keep up the good work!

Andrea said...

LOL that's funny about the halt/salute, I've never gotten a single comment about my salutes, I didn't think the judges really cared either way as long as you salute in SOME way! Our halt comments tend to be directed towards things like being more rhombus than square, or halting and then doing the major rumba-butt to the left or right, resulting in, well, the parallelogram halt! XD