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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

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

Monday, August 24, 2009

Huntington Farms H.T. 9/23/09


Or well, almost ;) Gogo and I took 5th in our division at Huntington this weekend due to a bad ride to the planks on my part and a subsequent slip in the mud during stadium, which cost us a rail even though Maresie did her very best to get us out of a bad situation. Oops! Rails happen, and when they're my fault combined with Mother Nature... oh well!

Huntington was GREAT fun. The drive wasn't nearly as bothersome as I expected, and I spent it cruising along with good music enjoying myself. It got wilder and more woodsy the further north I went, and I was reminded of driving through nothern Michigan. Except for the "Bear Crossing" and "Moose Crossing" signs. Bears?? Moose?? I've never even seen a moose, I don't think. I almost hit a bear wearing a giant radio collar with my Durango when I was driving through Sequoia National Park in California. I saw bears once outside a restaurant in the Yoop (that's Michigan's Upper Penninsula for those of you not from there... believe it or not, yes, Michigan is actually two states with one name, separated by water.) But it certainly felt like I was heading into the Wops the further I went.
Gogo settled in like a good girl upon arrival - we were in the upper barn on top of a hill, overlooking the rest of the valley we were in. Huntington has a ton of land, it seems, or at least had permission to use an awful lot of land! The barn had a narrow little entrance door and low ceilings, but the stalls were big and roomy and she seemed very comfortable there. She even only tried to attack her neighbors once or twice, how sweet.

As for me, once I got her settled I headed out to walk XC, where it promptly started to rain on me. From that point on, I'm pretty sure I didn't dry out until I got in the car to drive home the next day. After getting a good look at the course (and getting thoroughly soaked), I gave Gogo her night check, and settled into the trailer for the night. I had one of her blankets spread onto the floor of the trailer (after it was cleaned out of course!!), a sleeping bag and pillow on top of that, and my cooler of snacks, backpack of stuff, and Harry Potter to keep me company in the rain. And it rained alllllllllllllll night. Lights were out by 10pm (unusual for me!), and I awoke the next morning on my own at 6:30am feeling refreshed and ready to roll.

Dressage went well. I did not achieve nearly the level of relaxation that I usually do, even after an hour of warmup (easy there beast... still hot to trot after an hour? Well... here goes nothing...!) but she put in a very solid test even though it felt like if I had needed a half-halt anywhere, I wouldn't have been able to get one! We came away with a test of solid 7's, two 8's, and one deserved 6 for our freewalk. Still, that gave us a 29.5, our best score of this season so far, and putting us in 3rd behind a tie for 1st with two 28.5s. Pretty respectable! A friend I had made at Mystic was in 5th with either a 31.0 or a 31.5, I can't remember, but that gives you an idea of how close the scores were! I can't rememeber where our winner was sitting after dressage, but it must have been right around there. I was pleased with the score and the test, but still got the same old comments as always - needs more activity behind and needs better left bend. Well... I guess the hock injections didn't exactly solve that issue either. Guess it's back to a rider problem... d'oh!

Onto XC, which I was understandably a little nervous about. It had been drizzling on and off, and I was feeling a bit anxious, because how could I not after our past two shows? But I needn't have worried. The course was quite long for Novice - optimum time was nearly 6 minutes, I think Groton House's was a little over 5 minutes, for comparison - and it was very long and gallopy, like a lot of people had told me ahead of time. The first fence was very inviting, enclosed on both sides and simple to look at:

And she jumped it like a champ. From there, it was a nice long gallop to fence 2, another attractive brushy fence with a turny approach to it, which she took slightly crooked but showed no hesitation to. Up into the woods from there, down a long road which put you back out into a small field where fence 3 was:

Again, fairly sizeable, very inviting, and she gave it a very good effort. Up into the woods and down the dirt road again, and around a corner to the biggest field where fence 4 was waiting, which again gave no problems:

Fence 5, which barely missed being included in that picture, was a big swing around to the left, easy for her, another simple palisade/coop type jump, and from there you headed to fence 6, a very sweet tire jump which she looked at in a sort of curious way but never hesitated to on approach. It was like she was going oh, that's nicely built isn't it? And on we went. Fence 7 was a simple palisade, and on we went to fence 8, which was our first real question:

That's the backside of it. Notice the funky hill right before it? I know that seems uncomplicated, but Gogo has this tendancy to gather speed going down hills, and I was not about to be going a thousand miles an hour at the bottom of this little speed bump here only to have her go hmmmm I am going too fast and can't POSSIBLY be expected to jump this! What I had planned to do was come down the short side of the hill at a trot and risk a steering issue rather than risk a speed issue coming over the hill. I needn't have worried, however, because even though she simply would not trot, she came around that shorter side of the hill and was completely game to it, jumping it just fine. Hooray! From here, I don't have any more pictures (it was raining pretty hard at that time and I didn't want to get my camera all wet), but I will describe it as best I can. I wish I had gotten to take more pictures, there are some things I wish you guys could see! After fence 8 was a hard right turn to a one stride combination of simple logs, and fence 10 was a white barn/doghouse, all of which she handled easily. It got trickier from there - fence 11 was a set of airy logs at the top of a pretty steep hill, which you had to jump while you were still going up, and she gave it a mighty effort which I was very impressed with - I'm pretty sure she's never jumped anything quite like that before. The meat of the course started at fence 12, the ditch, which was kind of weird looking. From the ditch, you had just a couple of strides to make it to fence 13, an offset coop off to the right, and then it was onto the upbank, with another offset approach to it - it was basically arcing around these three all going to the right in a circle. The bank was interesting - it was set at the top of a hill in a circular shape, and they called it The Castle. In the middle of The Castle was a chevron from Training the day before, so you had to crank left in order to not run into it when you reached the top of the bank. From there, it was down a fairly steep little section of hill to a set of brushy logs at the bottom, which was complicated to get to because you had a fairly narrow path going left off of The Castle (so you didn't fall off the other sides), and then you had to go right down this steep-ish hill to the brushy log. Complicated for her, to be sure, but she took all of it in stride and was completely game and relaxed through the whole thing. She never hesitated once, even though it went so fast I don't think I had time to register hardly any of it! It was a loooooooooooong gallop down a dirt road from there to fence 16, a set of logs set on a downhill slope, which she hopped over easily. Down a pretty turfed up hill we went, at the bottom of which was the water complex. I had planned on trotting this hill, but again, she came back to me instead in a very controlled canter and so I let her cruise comfortably down the hill that way. She looked at the water for a second - it was a large puddle mostly - but a couple pops with my beater and she trotted right in, and out over the logs right after it. Wheeee down the final hill to the big white at the end, and I came home whooping and hollering like a backwoods redneck at the Friday night hoedown. My friend came in behind me and was equally as pleased with her ride, and we walked back together to stabling discussing our rides. I was thrilled. THRILLED! She was perfect!

I have no pictures of stadium either - bummer. The course was very turny, with rollbacks and some tight turns, and I think it would have been great fun if it hadn't been raining like crazy. Even though the XC footing had been fine, by the time we went for stadium, the ground there was very turfed and very slick. You know when the ground is so saturated that giant clods of grass just come loose when you step on them? It was that kind of slick. The first fence Gogo took in the warmup she knocked, which should have been my first clue that I should take it conservatively. She handled the course well through the 5th fence, but felt unstable in the footing, as did most everyone else, I think. It felt like it didn't have anything to due with her barefooted-ness either, because I know that question will get asked! I saw a shod horse with big ol' studs go sliding vertically into the first fence of the combination, simply because he said no after he had had a rail at the fence before it and just couldn't stop himself in the muck in time to not crash. I saw some earlier crashes too, while I was checking out the course for a second time. Ohhhh well, sometimes Mother Nature has some tricks up her sleeve! Anyway, it was onto a sort of awkward bending line onto fence 6, the evil planks on flat cups - o horrors, flat cups! - which I gave her a decidedly bad ride to. She landed on her right lead, and when I went to ask her to switch left, she cross-cantered. I'm not sure if she ever switched, really - the fence was approaching and I stopped paying attention because I didn't see a spot and I don't think she did either. As a result, she tried to save both our butts by leaving long, and just flopped through it, taking it down with her as we landed. The rest of the course she jumped her GUTS out though, which was super sweet and I was very proud of her. I came out of the ring feeling crappy about the injections - after all, this was the first time in the past 9 events we've gone to that she's had a rail, and this was the first post injections, you know. That theory didn't seem to make all that much sense to me though, and when we went back into the ring for our victory gallop, I took another look at the fence. Yep, there they were, skid marks from two hind feet losing their purchase as a horse tried to take off! Ohhhhhhhh I get it, she likely just slipped in the footing while trying to cover my butt for me and just couldn't quite manage it. But she tried, and that's all that matters to me.

We finished 5th on our final score of 33.5. That's pretty respectable if you ask me for our first time back out, and in very stiff competition too. The top 5 places ALL moved around after stadium, it was crazy! The girl that was in 1st also had a rail, so had we gone clean, we would have moved into 1st for our 4th win of the season - d'oh again! - but as our winner pointed out in a comment on my last post, karma was throwing her a bone after a very bad week, so I will totally agree to the universe's choice here ;) (By the way, I DID notice your horse's huuuuuge ears... I LOVE that, my last gelding had MONSTER ears so I have a soft spot for them, lol). I also have to say I think I would have keeled over dead if we had actually won another one. Winning three is freaky enough for me, and winning three in a row? TOO freaky. Winning FOUR? If we do win another I think I'm going to die of a heartattack.

I can't believe how amazing she was. This pink ribbons means a lot more to me than all the blue ones it's next to. She galloped her heart out, jumped her guts out, and did her very best through some very tricky coursework and some very ucky footing. She wasn't spooky, looky, hesitant, or balky in any way. She really gave it her all for me, and I couldn't be happier with how she was.

The best part? Look at this face after we were done:

That is one happy horse with energy still left in the tank. She was plenty tired today, but yesterday she was still buzzed after we were done and searching for more cookies. She's back to her old self, and I am SERIOUSLY excited for the AECs. The official countdown is 15 days starting tomorrow (Tuesday), and we leave on the 7th. Gogo had a chiro adjustment today, which I will write about tomorrow cause this is getting LONG, and because of it she'll have a couple of days off. It's back to work on Thursday with a nice long hack, and then it's down to business. The wire is approaching, and I can't believe it. How are the AECs right around the corner already??

It was a great weekend, and I'm so glad to have my horse back to her good old self again.


Raven said...

That's awesome!!

I wish there were more events in my area. I did my first one a few months ago and had a blast!! Fox wasn't too impressed by the dressage but had a great time juping especially the xcountry.

Look forward to hearing more about your adventures.

jacksonsgrrl said...

I LOVE that picture of Gogo! She looks proud of herself! I laughed when you started second guessing the hock injections! Sounds painfully like myself! I think you are ready for the AEC's--you guys are back--wooo hooo! Pink ribbon--I LIKE!

Anonymous said...

>I can't rememeber where our winner was sitting after dressage, but it must have been right around there.

Fourth with a 31.1. I think fifth had a 31.5 or .6 or something like that...a friend of mine was part of the tie for first after dressage and then had 2.8 time faults XC to drop to fifth, so your friend must have been in between my score and hers. Definitely not much room for error!

I wondered what other folks ended up doing at the Castletop. I hated the left turn down the ramp and I'm kind of tweaky about downbanks...I wouldn't have done it, obviously, but I seriously felt like my preferred way to get off the bank would just be to jump the chevron. We ended up stepping off the downbank just to the right of the chevron. Luckily, the beastie didn't opt to launch us into space the way he sometimes does...!

_Love_ that gallop up the sandy hill to the fences right before the water.

Denny was saying at the July event that Huntington has the hardest stadium in Area 1, just because of the footing. I'm working on a theory about horse type being a factor there. My guy is so little and clever, he just seems to skip over top of it, but I've seen a lot of super-nice and super-well-ridden horses that are a bigger and/or more powerful get all bogged down and/or do some serious slipping.

I've read that big ears mean a smart horse. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it! *g*

- Hannah

Meghan said...

Good to hear that the competition was a success. My current goal is to be able to start riding my horse again by October...her feet have been fixed, but her body still needs work.

Love your reference to the UP...I live in the Marquette area.

manymisadventures said...

I'm really glad to hear that Gogo did so well for you and that you're making friends who read your blog!

What a good Gogomare. You guys are going to kick butt at AECs.

Kelly said...

Alas Sparky pony would probably enjoy living in the great white north, but indoors and sharing the bed with the dog, not so much;-D

Dressager said...

I love that picture! Classic!!! What a ham.

Albigears said...

Thanks for the course walk. I like those! I also laughed when you second guessed the hock injections after your horse jumped a course in the slippery mud. Hee hee. I completely understand about the pink ribbon- and that picture is priceless.

Andrea said...

Yeah, I took the sqiggle approach to the bank - landed fairly straight after 13 and did the swing around to the left, then did the rumba to the right of the cheveron once I landed. She did give the chevron a look like, is that what you want us to do? but I managed to crank around it and not kill us. I tried to trot to 16, I really did, but it just... failed, lol.
It was weird how unstable Gogo felt in some of that footing. Most of it was fine, but coming to 5 up that little tiny hill was hairy and certainly 6 too. But 7-8-9, she felt like she jumped much better... so I dunno. I'm interested to see the professional pictures (and nervous... when I get out on course I tend to overrride and my equitation ususally completely collapses. It's been eye-opening to see just how bad of a ride I can give her sometimes.... oops!)

sally said...

Wow I was thrilled to read about your great ride. The pink ribbon is appropriate for such a girlie mare. I also think your great ride will give you such a boost for competitions upcoming. You go girls!!!!

Anonymous said...

Sally's post x 2!!! You guys rock, the end!

Sarah said...

LOVE Huntington! Congratulations on regaining your Mojo!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

re: the pro photos, I actually think Joan was still out shooting the BN XC when we jumped stadium. (It usually works out that she's shooting elsewhere when I have a good stadium round. Got some great shots of me falling off at UNH last month, though...!)

- Hannah

Sam said...

Congratulations! I'm so glad you and GoGo are doing well again :) I've actually never commented before, but I've been following you guys for a while now.

Man, the AEC's are so soon! I'm going too, at the BN level, and I'll be rooting for you guys! Although I think you and my trainer may be in the same division... but I can just root for you both ;)