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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

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

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Official AEC Countdown: 5 days!!

I am officially calling an end to this veterinary nightmare week RIGHT NOW. We had one go in to Fairfield for a colic (turns out he's got wicked ulcers), one go in to Salmon Brook for stovepipe legs and a serious fever, two go to Fairfield to get their suspensories shockwaved/injected with steroids/poked at, had a different vet essentially give up on the third suspensory horse (told us to just throw her in a field), and then of course we put Max down last night. All since Wednesday, I might add. Theo is back and eating fine and drinking sort of fine, the suspensory horses are lame but less so (except for Hermione, who is more so), and we had no random emergencies today. So we're DONE now right? We're DONE! Because I said so!

And yet, despite alllll this crappiness, Gogo has been the ultimate superstar this week. I couldn't imagine having a better set of schoolings directly before the AECs. Bonus points because she's in VIOLENT FLAMING PEEING HEAT:

Notice how she's getting licked by Teg. Nice. Today when I was walking her to the wash stall, she stopped dead in front of Sonny's stall and tried to pee on his face. I literally had to drag her squatting, peeing self down the rest of the aisle while the geldings all did their best big-bad-stud impressions. As Daun correctly put it, KEEP YOUR PANTIES ON GOGO YOU'RE WORKING.

But here's the good news: she was in heat at King Oak, Mystic AND Groton House! So maybe this is the magic trick!

Yesterday evening, I had planned on galloping, but given the fact that Max was already in such distress and my gallop field is directly next door to his barn, I figured I better bag on that plan and jump instead. I set up my favorite old exercise as a refresher: a very big X right on the centerline, with four strides leading to three trot poles. You canter the X, and have those four strides to bring your horse back to trot. Sounds easy? It's not, if you're Gogo. She very much likes to go into autopilot mode after each fence, so it's a good challenge for her. She warmed up well, and went through the exercise backwards and forwards a few times VERY quietly and very perfectly. Tada! 15 minutes and I'm done? Nope, silly me wanted to test the gears and see what we had with lead changes. Now, when she got her hocks done I figured it would resolve her cross-cantering issue - she swaps in front but not behind, even though while out on XC she does perfect, fluid changes every time. But nope, injections did not fix it immediately. I did some very unsuccessful part-changes a few times, and then was like oh screw this, FINE, let's GO FORWARD and see if we can get some. And lo and behold, there we had it! We just needed more GO to get those changes right. Unfortunately, that meant I had just added a lot of GO when I needed to be adding a lot of NOT GO in this quiet exercise. I let her walk for a bit, then went to address the exercise a few more times - yep, now we're nuts! She tried to run through it like a maniac a few times, and then finally settled after some serious half-halts and some trotting through it. The final time through, she really waited when I asked her to, right to the base of the fence, and while she wanted to charge off after it, she took my fairly firm half halt very well, and two strides out had already come back to trot. Nice! I called it a day on that and hacked about in the orchard in the sunset.

Today was our final dressage school before we step into the ring on Friday, and boy I couldn't have asked for a better one. All week she's been a little snotty about her dressage, meaning she's been taking her sweet time to warm up, and doing it a little more on her own terms than I'd usually like. But today, she warmed up right away in a nice stretchy trot (a stretchy trot as our warmup, not a giraffe trot! Hooray!), and was foot perfect from there on out. She developed a very supple, very buoyant trot after some quick transitions, and actually maintained left bend through everything we did - she always, always wants to pop her left shoulder out and sneak back over to the right, but not today! We did simple changes through the trot and walk (quite a feat after last night's gallopy flying changes) and a lot of counter canter work for her, but mostly we just worked on straightness, correctness and quality of gaits. Vicki wants me to think about her trot and canter work as being right on the edge of a lengthening or a leg yield all the time, so I need to keep that in my head. No more comments about needing activity from behind! We will have so much activity it will SCARE YOU!

Speaking of something scary (or well, maybe not scary but a little bit intimidating), times are up for the AEC and WHOA, there are 41 people in my division. 41 PEOPLE. That is far and away the most I've ever shown again, and is more than double what I normally show against. At least half those are professionals, and several of them are big names... very big names. Jennie Brannigan is in my division. Phillip Dutton is in my division. Phillip Dutton, who was leading at Burghley yesterday (had time faults and is now in 4th after XC). (By the way, The Good Witch is in 38th after a not-too-awesome XC, and there are a WHOLE slew of eliminations and retires, including Mandiba, Madison Park, Arthur, Courageous Comet, and Macchiato. 12 eliminations, 13 retires on XC. Crazy... I wonder what happened.) So yeah. 41 people, some totally unbeaten horses with some amazing show records, and a whole slew of Really Big Names. I know this sounds weird, but in a way, I feel more relaxed about all this after seeing that. I no longer feel like I should be under some sort of pressure to do well, because quite frankly, that is a LOT of competition and a LOT of really good horseflesh to show against. I still am hoping to Top Ten - that would be amazing - but in all honesty, I want to go out there and do exactly what I always want to do, which is put in a great dressage test and finish on that score. If she goes around XC and stadium like a champ after a great dressage test, who cares how we place? Now that the pressure is off, I get to go just for the honor of being there, and showing against these amazing people, and getting to watch all the other amazing people, and getting to hang out with all my old friends and rivals and family. You don't really have rivals in eventing.... you have friends that you just happen to want to beat all the time!

Oye it's September 5th and I STILL don't have my goals up. Tomorrow I will, I swear! I have a half day of work thankfully (it'll be my 8th day in a row, how did I get stick with THAT schedule?), so I'll get to get most of my leftover stuff done, and then we'll gallop in the freshly mowed field. The weather has been amazing, Gogo feels ridiculously good on her naked feet of steel, all the things on my to do list are right on track, and the boarders got together and gave me almost $700 for the journey, just because they wanted to. That's incredible.

I have a really good feeling about this one. I'm nervous as hell, but I'm seriously excited at the same time. We leave in three days!!

(2008 AEC Picture of the Day: Halt, salute, breathe!!)


Dressager said...

LMAO Gogo! You are now an inspiration for all mares in heat on how to take it over the top. How funny!

Holy crap! Phillip Dutton?????? I'd be scared out of my wits. That's like Marlie Van Baalen or Debbie MacDonald riding in the arena next to me. I would be more afraid of humiliating myself in front of them than whether or not I get in the top ten! Wow, I need to sort out my showing priorities. At least your priorities are sorted out.

Your goal for September? Go for it at the AECs! Duh! lol

The Equus Ink said...

"You don't really have rivals in eventing.... you have friends that you just happen to want to beat all the time!" - Love that. Gotta love eventing just for that alone.

Your a great rider, got a great horse, great partnership - Top ten, even against some pro's, it is totally possible. No pressure, just saying, you CAN DO IT!!

You've already achieved something just going! Don't forget that.

sally said...

I love your photo comment ....halt salute...breathe. My friend says the same to me ...."and just breathe". Her tip is to sing a nursery rhyme. You have to breathe doing that!!
You are going super with a great attitude and being nervous is normal and go girls.Look forward to hearing how you go

Sam said...

Oh, does this make me happy I'm not competing at novice! No Phillip Dutton in my division, no siree! :P

You're completely right about:
"You don't really have rivals in eventing.... you have friends that you just happen to want to beat all the time!"
It is so much more a competition with yourself and what you can do that it is a competition against everyone else. You just have to go out there and put in your personal best! Your and Gogo's personal best is spectacular, though, so I bet you two do very well :)

Nicole Redman said...

I'm going to stop being facetious for once, to say that I LOVE YOU and you KICK ASS more than anybody I know and YOU CAN DO THIS! I have nothing but confidence that you will be awesome at the AEC's. Because, well, you can't help being awesome.