RK3DE Count Down Begins

A week from today Amanda and I will be making the trek up to the Kentucky Horse Park for one of the best weekends of the year – RK3DE! Amanda actually flies in Wednesday night – we will get to play with the ponies before we head out Thursday afternoon!

A couple weeks ago I noticed that there was still one campsite remaining onsite at the KHP campgrounds. If you have ever been to Rolex you probably know that the parking is a nightmare. Doable but it takes forever to get in and out. I considered a preferred parking pass but I didn’t want to spend $150-200 for just parking. When the spot came up I made sure Amanda was on board and then we made plans to camp. Not only do we get a primo parking spot we also will never have to leave the park if we don’t want to. Win win! (We will be on the left outer loop but for safety sake not going to post exact location – because crazy ppls…)

Immediately following the camp planning conversations my trailer went into the shop. Turns out it might or might not be done in time for our departure. For those of you that have been to Rolex…  img_0325.jpgYou can back me up when I say that it is pretty much always wet at least one of the days. Truck Tent Glamping is a blast and all but not so much when you are going to be like a wet dog all weekend. img_0332.jpgFrom there I started looking into RV rentals. What do you know there is an RV version of AirBnB! Most of them are way more than we will need but I am pretty pumped that we wont have to go outside to community showers and we will also be able to cook to save some money for some of our meals. Plus AC.

Still ironing out specific details but as of now we will be Lexington bound Thursday afternoon! Hope to see any of you guys that are going at the Taco Party! Who else is in???

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Trailer Improvements

I have had my awesome sauce 4Star trailer for a little over a year now and it was time for it to go into the shop for maintenance. Considering how many miles I hauled last year I maybe should have taken it in sooner but here we are.

Since it would already be in the shop for that and a repair to the padding because of the WORST DOGS EVER I decided to add a few other features. None of these are necessities but I think will make the trailer even better than it already is. trailereyes

  1. Trailer Eyes Wireless Camera
    • For Christmas this year Kyle’s parents gave me a trailer eyes camera. Technically you can use this without it being wired but the 9V battery won’t last very long. I decided to have the camera hard wired so that I can use it on longer hauls. I am excited to finally get to see what is happening in the trailer when I am hauling.hayring
  2. Hay Net Ring
    • My trailer came with hanging mangers which can be nice but Annie is an aggressive hay consumer. I really like for her to have the hay in a net. Because of where the current hooks are I don’t have a great place to hang her hay net. Enter the above ring – any ring would do but I like the idea of being able to hook it up.buckethook
  3. Water Bucket Hook
    • A couple of friends have installed bucket hooks in their trailers. I figured it might be nice to have in mine as well and decided to “splurge” and get this model that is supposed to keep the bucket from tipping. I figured this would be useful for long hauls.4starlatch
  4. Interior Door Latch
    • After getting the truck tent I started trying to think of ways to camp for just one night without having to set up my tent. In came the hammock. Only problem is that my trailer has exterior latches on the escape doors – similar to those on a ramp – so that you can convert it to a box stall and not worry about the escape doors coming unlatched. This means that I cannot close the door from the inside when I am sleeping in there. I have rigged it a few times but with limited success. We will see how the latch works!

Have any of you added things that I am missing here? I might end up with a water tank sometime but for now that’s staying on the wish list. Next up will be tack room organization as I still haven’t ironed out a set up that I like.

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Laziness Leads To Innovation

hydraulicjackIf you have a trailer you have probably at some point grumbled about the hitching up process. I actually find my GN to be a lot easier than my BP was in terms of hitching up and general hauling. Normally it’s not a big deal to hitch up a couple times in a weekend. That is usually inevitable. This past horse show though I got to wishing I had a hydraulic jack. #eventerproblemsmakitahammerdrillOnce I got the idea in my head I couldn’t let it go. I even went as far as to ask for a quote on installing the hydraulic jack. Twelve hundred ($$$) heck no’s later I got to thinking and remembered another friend that used a drill to raise and lower her trailer. After a little consulting with the handiest barn owner ever and a trip to Home Depot I present to you the Makita Solution. Technically the brand of drill isn’t important but the type. I wanted something reliable and as a bonus the battery packs were included. Don’t try to use a regular drill and expect that to work. You need a lot more torque and thus a hammer drill is required. I highly advise the kit and/or purchasing a side handle. I purchased a Makita 18-Volt LXT Brushless Lithium-Ion 1/2 in. Cordless Hammer Drill Kit for $299 and had even the trailer repair shop owner impressed! Win for #eventersolutions

I am sure that there are other brands/options and ways you could spend less money. If you know more about power tools and try something else let me know how it works out! Would love to be able to share other options at varying prices. Have any of you come up with creative ways to improve your travel get up?

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Rider Review: Strip Hair

Last year I went searching for another shedding/ grooming tool that wouldn’t be so abrasive. When I came across the Strip Hair product line I was intrigued and decided to give it a try. It is unlike any other tool I have used as it is made of a flexible rubber. I was hopeful that this tool would be better received and more useful on sensitive horses or on sensitive areas.

Price: $48 for the kit (some retailers sell individually)

1-StripHair-Large-1024x877 Review: I have to admit that initially I wasn’t a fan of this tool. I tried it out on my saddle pads first and was not impressed. It is a self proclaimed jack of all trades type of tool… but unless your horse is a yak I find that it is a bit hard to get satisfying results when using this as a shedding tool. It did essentially nothing for cleaning up my saddle pads but I do rather like it as a grooming tool now that I live in a land of sensitive mares.

@striphair Hard at work on the baby horses yak coat

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Not only did this tool keep Luna from wanting to kill me when I was grooming her – she is a delicate flower – it also helped with hard to reach or soft spots (legs, throat, nooks and crannys). My primary comparison is the SleekEZ tool which is probably one of my favorite shedding/ grooming tools around for both dogs and horses. While I still think that the SleekEZ is superior in removing caked mud or dead hair the Strip Hair will be my tool of choice for my more sensitive horses. Instead of shying away Luna was actually leaning into me running this tool across her. Annie and Houston don’t seem to be quite as opinionated about it but it did work just fine on both of them as well. striphair

Bottom Line: If you could buy just one of these at or under $15 I would say give it a try. I personally wouldn’t pay more than that and I think the kit is a bit unnecessary. I won’t be replacing my SleekEZ with the Strip Hair but they are both useful and will each maintain a spot in my grooming bag.

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Spring Bay 2017: Cross Country

I tossed and turned all night on Saturday. I wasn’t so much worried about the fact that we were running novice but rather super anxious to run in general. Turns out I need not have worried. Annie dominated the course despite me. Unfortunately I forgot to use Course Walk when I walked the course… And even more unfortunate is that my stupid Cambox wouldn’t cooperate. Also can’t seem to determine if there was a show photographer. Super thankful that Rachel Lynn Creative got the shot below.

All that matters though is that we finished on a number and not a letter. We didn’t have the most pretty run. There were plenty of learning moments for both of us but when the going got tough Annie took over and really packed me around. I picked at the distances and got her to some bad spots and she still jumped with all of her heart. That cannot be taught.

We still ended well out of the ribbons but moved up 10 places to finish in 15th place. Not too shabby considering the division had 25 people and we were in last place going into the day. 

We have a lot to work on but despite the ugly bits I still crossed through those flags with a grin on my face and an unexplainable amount of gratitude for the little red dragon. Not sure what is on the docket next but I am sure we will only continue to improve! 🙂

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Spring Bay 2017: Dressage and SJ

This weekend was spent in Lexington, KY at Spring Bay HT. This event was a bit of a brain jam for me as the last time I competed there was with Houston and we were eliminated on XC. I was determined to come away from the weekend with a number not a letter though!

jdpanicThe weekend got off to a not so great start when my TPM light came on. It turns out I ran over a screw and had to handle that mess before getting on the road. Shout out to my awesome barn owner who saved me like $350 by plugging my tire when the tire store said it wasn’t possible and that I would have to buy a new tire. pocgreat

Once I finally made it to the KHP my anxiety kicked in full force. I managed to convince myself to get on the dragon and we actually had a pretty decent school before calling it a night. I am not sure why I was so nervous because while our dressage is hideous it isn’t dangerous. She’s not stupid she’s just opinionated.  Saturday morning our ride time rolled around and Annie predictably was belligerent in the sand box. We secured our usual last place position and I felt pretty defeated about heading into stadium. pocworldend

Warm up arenas (for SJ and XC) might be the worst part about horse shows. The entire time I am in one I feel like I am in a war zone. Annie was a super star though and warmed up great. All I had to do was SIT  BACK FOR THE LOVE OF GOD and keep her stride compact. Guess what I didn’t do… Thankfully Annie was incredibly rideable in the hackamore and tried her heart out for me. Unfortunately I went into fetal position mode and picked at all of our distances which cost us 2 rails in stadium.  I was tired, frustrated, and honestly just poor company Saturday evening. pocstuKristen was kind enough to let Annie crash at her lovely little slice of Lexington on Saturday night. I am sure that Annie appreciated getting off the concrete at the KHP and getting to stretch her legs. I am saving the best for last and will talk about Annie’s XC beast mode/ my continuing inability to ride tomorrow.

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Laine Ashker Clinic: Day 2

LaineyClinic4.1.17-66Going into Sunday I was trying to channel all of the things we worked on the day before. I didn’t want to be the useless shamateur that couldn’t apply concepts 2 days in a row. I wanted to be a good student and to give my red dragon the great riding she deserves. This both did and didn’t happen.

You might be asking how it could be both good and bad… The most simple way to explain is that we had moments of brilliance sprinkled across a bunch of weak riding on my part. Annie tried her little heart out for me (with some sass – because ginger). Given my fitness level and weakness I was so slow to recover after fences that we ended up with some yard sail moments. LA2The course should have ridden: grid – left turn vertical – bending line Swedish oxer – right turn bending line gate – roll back left to a triple bar – bending line to a triple line – right turn to the liver pool – bending line to the outside oxer line. We built it up through the session. Just when I would get one part right the wheels would fall off approaching the next. That is after all the way things go. One step forward two steps back.

I even ended up with an unplanned dismount after I got way too far forward and essentially leaned my way into a run out at the end of the triple. Annie is a game little beast but I need to help her out so that she can do her part. LaineyClinic4.1.17-67

It was supposed to look something like this:

Comet's coursework today! He's really beginning to feel #tops again🙌🏼

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Instead it looked a bit more like this:

In summary we learned so so much. When we had those moments of brilliance it was unlike any other feeling. If you want to be humbled ride like a drunk  monkey in front of a 4* eventer… You have to feel the lowest of lows to fully embrace the highest of highs. I don’t want to get too sappy but I have found the horse of a lifetime in this little mare. She has helped me in 2 short years realize that I can get back in the arena and feel confident. It definitely isn’t always easy but the best things in life usually aren’t.

LaineyClinic4.1.17-68

 

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Laine Ashker Clinic: Day 1

This weekend was interesting to say the least. I went into the weekend very nervous. I haven’t had consistent lessons in months. My confidence has been a bit out of whack and the only spot in the clinic available was in the training group. Cue panic mode! The host trainer and Lainey discussed based on what I shared about what we do at home and the fact that we only ran our first novice in October. Luckily the exercises could be adjusted for her level of training and so it was game on!

Big shout out to the host of this clinic Shady Oak Farm for the lovely facility and Lainey  for her time!

Going into the ring I wasn’t sure what to expect. Lainey knew the others in my group so she spent a few extra minutes talking with me about Annie and then it was go time. Right of the get go we went into a grid that made me want to throw up. This was truly a mental thing for me though and was a non issue mentally after attempt 1.

I really got a lot out of it and was able to focus on keeping balanced upwards so that we could go through the poles with a nice jump out over the oxer. Lainey made a point to emphasize that if you go to a jump in a heap you will most certainly land in one as well so she spent most of her time coaching me to correct my position so that I could stay out of Annie’s way and not work against myself. LA1I think that the video of highlights captures it best since you can kind of see how the session progressed and the pieces that were put together. Essentially the full session strung the grid (vertical to an oxer with 4 approx. 9′ cavaletti canter poles between) – left turn around the arena – to the half circle of death – to the triple oxer line – roll back to go off the right through the angled jumps AKA MY DEATH. The vertical to the Liverpool/ water tray to the chevron skinny was in there as well but in different positions depending on horse and rider.

I think it is funny how going into it I was sure that we wouldn’t be able to complete the exercises. I was so sure it would lead to imminent death. Spoiler alert: I am a drama llama and we did fine. I won’t say that it was all butterflies and unicorns but I have a seriously talented little horse that really wants to do the right thing. It is a lot of pressure for a baby horse to carry a fraidy cat like me around. She could also use some confidence for new exercises so I need to step up!I need to focus on a being correct and upright (#sitbackordie) with my seat and shoulders. If I do this I can maintain a steady position and recover more quickly after fences. When I did this Annie got to shine. When I didn’t the wheels kind of fell off the bus. Note to self – flinging ones body over jumps in a free willy-esque level of grace is probably not the answer if the idea is to avoid a belly flop. If I can tackle my position problems I know that the sky is the limit for this little mare.

This clinic was incredibly difficult but so worth the sweat and tears. I loved Laine’s teaching style. She knew just when to push to get us to be our best but also understood the fragile ammie brain. Right when I was about to break she knew just what to say to get my nerve back and recover. Lainey didn’t belittle us when we struggled with concepts or fear but it wasn’t a walk in the park. And honestly it shouldn’t be! If I am paying $$$ for this time I want to get the most I can out of it. Day 2/course work and it did not disappoint! Stay tuned!

P.S. Having awesome blogger friends to meet up with at super cool events like clinics and horse shows rocks! Lauren from Gray Horse Problems and her awesome husband are super fun. I am so grateful for all of the media made possible by Eric!  Thank you guys for being great friends and support for my GA adventures thus far! 🙂

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Clinic Value

As riders I think we can be categorized one of two ways. Some of this may be due to discipline. Some of this may be geographic location and accessibility. Whatever the reason it seems to me that people are either for or against clinics. For the record I am not stating that there is a wrong or right way to feel.

Eliza Wallace Clinic-6I personally never participated in many clinics and still wouldn’t say that I am a frequent flyer. Now I am in an area that can be a veritable waste land of quality instruction for my discipline. The instructor I do ride with is gone frequently either competing or wintering in FL. This leads me to finding myself more intrigued when a clinic pops up with a BNT/R due to my current circumstances.Eliza Wallace Clinic-13

I am not one to talk myself up. I am capable generally speaking and I acknowledge that as a pair Annie and I still need help. I am also able to “keep the lights on” so to speak when I find myself going months without regular instruction. Obviously in a perfect world I would get to lesson 1-2x a week and would be making all sorts of continuous progress. As I do not live in such a world there are times of the year where I find myself riding sans instruction for months on end. Maintaining and improving are not the same thing and right now we could use some finesse.

Eliza Wallace Clinic-38There used to be a time when riding with a new instructor gave me serious anxiety. Or worse showing with a trainer I didn’t know. If last year taught me anything it’s how to go with the flow. No trainer no problem. New trainer? Still no problem. More often than not the money spent on a clinician is better spent getting 3-4 (depending on the clinic cost and your regular lesson prices) lessons at home than 2 group sessions with a trainer you have never worked with. Sometimes though having a fresh set of eyes on you and your horse can be very helpful and for that reason I think I probably land somewhere in the middle. I want regular lessons but I also see the value in an outside opinion or a successful rider and instructors feedback. Riding with Elisa Wallace (Day 1 & Day 2) for instance. Definitely plan to do that again! Eliza Wallace Clinic-56

Lainey Ashker is well known for being great with OTTB’s. After multiple suggestions to ride with her I am taking the plunge. Here’s to a fun weekend with my favorite red head. Bonus: getting to see Lauren and Gus!

What about you guys? Do you like clinics? Only go to audit? What are you willing to pay to ride with a BNT?  

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Last Minute Plans

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I had entered my first recognized HT of the year and then promptly started to FTFO. As we are now less than 2 weeks out I hoped to get one more good school in before next weekend. Unfortunately there really aren’t that many local schooling opportunities. This left me looking for options in the 4 or so hour range.

Noooo touchy! 🦄💜🦄

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Lucky for me I was able to determine that one of my favorite venues, River Glen, is having a hunter jumper show this weekend. This way I could knock two birds out with one stone and get practice both in the arena and out. I was kind of bummed that it was looking like I would be making the adventure solo but then another opportunity opened up so I have some options!

Still shot because I am obsessed with her…

Originally I had planned to attend a Lainey Ashker clinic this weekend but I cancelled because Luna tried to break herself last month. When Lauren posted today about being able to get into a different group of the clinic I decided to reach out to the organizer again. As luck would have it there might be hope for me to attend the clinic after all. I have 2 great options and the weekend is sure to be a fun time regardless of where we spend it! Do you all have fun weekend plans coming up? Given theses two options which would you choose?

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