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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Rider Review: Majyk Equipe ARTi-LAGE Tech Dressage Boots

I have now had my Majyk Equipe ARTi-LAGE Technology Sport/Dressage Boots for about 3 months. I have to say that I love them so much that it regularly crosses my mind to buy another pair. I already have arguably too many sets of boots though so I have been holding out.

ME blue Price: $89.95/pair from Riding Warehouse or save $40 if you buy 2+ pairs for $69.95/pair or $140 for a set of fronts and hinds.

img_1863.jpgReview: I have used a variety of sport boots. From your cheap Woof Wear Boots all the way to Valena or DSB brand and everything in between. I have owned so many I can’t keep track to be honest and none of them were really nice enough to keep me loyal to a brand or particular model.ME inside

Enter the Majyk Equipe sport boots. These boots are a game changer and honestly I expect nothing less from ME at this point. The fit is exceptional and they clean up like new (regardless of how frequently you clean them). I honestly find myself riding in them more often than not. No more fleece/wool lined boots for me. These boots hold up to all conditions and I know that will they protect my horses legs in daily work. If you have a horse that interferes or maybe just like to ride with a little bit of protection these are the boots for you. The technology that ME has invested in really pays off. From the outer binding to the double elastic there is nothing I don’t like about these boots.

Bottom Line: If you have been looking for an all purpose sport boot look no further. I really held off on these boots and I can confidently say now that whether you like bright or more traditional color accents there is most likely a Majyk Equipe boot for you. Annie tends to be rough on boots and herself and these boots have held up great. Definitely check them out if you are in the market – you won’t regret it!

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Adventures In Farm Sitting

Having a farm is not for the faint of heart. If I have learned anything from having horses at home in highschool and now farm sitting it is that it is legitimately a 24/7 job. When you board horses you write a check and you can go home. If it is in the single or triple digits you can stay inside… If it is raining or snowing guess who is not soaked or chilled to the bone? YOU.

Depending on where you board and how often you are able to get out to the barn as a boarder you have the flexibility of  “not feeling like it”. I am grateful that right now I am able to go out to the barn nearly every day but also have my horses in the care of people that I trust explicitly in the event that I am travelling or unable to make it out.

jonsnowBecause I am at the farm all the time already (sorry Kyle!!!) it was a pretty easy gig (famous last words) to just step in and take care of things when my BO’s are out of town. Or so I thought. Unfortunately the weather gods hate me and literally EVERY SINGLE insert string of expletives TIME I farm sit the temperatures either plummet and it snows or they spike and it is a scene from Twister. I seriously don’t know what I would do if weather was just semi stable and there weren’t 30* temperature swings and some version of natures middle finger slung at me the next time I take care of the horses. I am not sure how it is even possible for one person to be assaulted with the weather so violently and consistently just when the phrase “can you take care of the farm x days” is spoken. This week has been no exception and come Monday afternoon at pretty much the exact same time I was finishing up the majority of chores and about to leave a storm rolled in. It caused the barn room to start flapping, random doors to fly open, and for me to end up under an awning with the resident studly while we both stared in disbelief while plastered to the wall at what the actual heck was going on. In summary farm sitting has left me wondering if my dream to own a farm and keep all of my horses at home is really what I want. I always thought that 20 acres would be the sweet spot. I could have my own place, going to ride wouldn’t involve a car ride, things would be so easy. Then I remembered how spoiled I was in high school to have my horses at home but not be responsible for all of their care or maintaining the property. dorothyWhile speaking from experience I can say that there is nothing like looking out your window and seeing the creatures you love so much. There is also nothing like spending hours taking care of the farm and horses when its below freezing or during the middle of a storm that might have you feeling a little like Dorothy from the wizard of oz. Maybe just a few acres to keep baby(ies) and retirees at home? The “dream” continues to evolve. All I need is a few more terrible weather incidences while farm sitting to totally crush it!

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Replacement Post Fall

Most of the riders that I know wear helmets on a regular basis. We all have different preferences but it seems that we all agree you only get one brain. You should do what you can to protect it. Mind your melon!mindyourmelonhc

It seems that a lot of people have varying opinions on how frequently and due to what circumstances a helmet should be replaced. I started thinking about this after a fall last week… “Sit Back Or Die” is a great motto that I still don’t follow well enough! I have always been told that any time you fall and your head/helmet hits the ground it’s time to replace your helmet. After that if you manage to survive approximately five years you need to replace it anyways. With all of the different options out there what is the deciding factor on what brand you prefer?COAYR8RidingWarehouse

For me it has always been about the safety and comfort. I shy away from some brands – specifically if they have ridiculous horror stories. I loved the Charles Owen replacement policy and wore them for quite a few years. When I started looking for helmets that would be a bit more comfortable and cooler in hot weather I fell in love with Samshield. Not a Miss Shield but I have serious grabby hands over this new model.MissShieldRidingWarehouseMy most recent addition is a OneK that I purchased on a whim due to affordability. It is still comfortable but fits slightly different than my Samshield. I was hoping it would be a level playing field because the OneK replacement policy is much better but alas my huge head is apparently more Samshield shaped than One K.OneKRidingWarehouse

In a sport where falls are pretty much inevitable I am curious about everyones different thoughts on what helmets you will wear and what makes you replace them? Anyone else in the market?

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Weekend Wrap Up: XC Schooling and Bell Boots

I did a thing last week and entered my first recognized HT of the year. Naturally I proceeded to fall off during a jump school the next day(why can I not SIT BACK!!!) and then had a huge pit in my stomach for cross country schooling on Saturday. I had a fall a few years back where Houston literally slid out from under me due to a sloppy arena. I was fine but since then I have a mild panic attack any time I ride on slick footing. It stormed all night on Friday so the footing at our schooling venue was less than ideal. The bright side was that the water complex was nice and full, the weather was unbeatable, and the company was perfect!

Thankfully minus being exceptionally full of herself Annie was a trooper and we had a good outing. She was able to literally pull through my nervous moments. We schooled most of the fences that were Novice height and due to the terrain it felt like way more than that! I want to get back out next weekend so that we can have one last confidence boosting school before we head to the KHP in April.

The only casualty of the day was one of Annie’s four bell boots. Yes you read that right – she gets to wear double bell boots due to her ninja shoe pulling abilities. I had never heard of this plan before my current farrier but it works for us. For now I just plan to buy stock in bell boots because while we shoot less shoes off it still stinks when she pulls a whole boot off while schooling. She wears a Weaver Rubber Bell Boot on the bottom and then I layer a Ribbed Bell Boot on the top. Pulling them on and off is kind of a pain but it keeps my farrier from making what I call “bonus” trips down here (he doesn’t live in TN). No hoof no horse and no farrier no hoof! Did any of you have fun adventures this weekend? Or on the bell boot front anyone have a brand of Velcro bell boots that are super durable? I would love to be able to have one pull on and one Velcro instead of double pull ons.

 

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Ground Rules

Last week I saw a blog post shared from ProBarn Management that was a bit of a Q&A post about what is included when it comes to using barn hay, shavings, and water for your trailer/ shows.

I think that more often than not people do not take into account that boarding is generally speaking not profitable for the farm owners. I have dealt with many different scenarios and my current is definitely my favorite in terms of boarding. I genuinely hope I never have to leave because not only do I trust these people explicitly with my horses care I also know that I am not just a bottom dollar to them. Boarding horses is not their (or anyone smarts) way of getting rich quick and what you see is what you get. My horses are provided quality grain and hay, never without water, and always have clean stalls. The owners notice when things aren’t right with any of my creatures. The facilities are safe and well maintained… The list goes on. It isn’t the fanciest barn but it is home.

img_1909.jpgLast year was my first year as a trailer owner which meant that it was my first year doing a lot of traveling without a trainer (in my case the resident pro at a barn) hauling my horse. You take for granted things like who is paying for the extra hay my horse is consuming on the trailer and where did the shavings come from. My general MO is to ask and that is what I would recommend for anyone that boards and wants to have a good relationship with their barn owners. I am very lucky in that within reason my barn owners don’t charge me for every flake of hay that’s gone on my trailer for short hauls but I do ask them if I can take it or how much I owe them in these situations.

img_3222For the most part I think that when it comes to boarding and showing you don’t get a break from your board just because you are gone 10 days out of a month showing… You should however have access to the grain and hay your horse would consume at home – shavings are case by case I think depending on the barn. I personally make sure that Annie always has hay in front of her at shows and that usually means that I have to buy a bale of hay from my barn owners or a local feed store to supplement what she would regularly get. Same goes with shavings. Don’t assume that you can go take 3 bags of shavings for a horse show because you pay board. If your horse will be gone for more than 2-3 days ask your barn owner how much, if any, shavings they are okay with you using. If you need shavings in your trailer you should ask before using the barns supply. What might not seem like a big deal to you adds up if every single boarder just dips into the pot.

In summary: be respectful. None of us are perfect and don’t kid yourself by thinking that you are the perfect boarder or that you have the perfect horse(s). My horses in summary are big and pushy (Houston), a beaver with an attitude (Luna), and a cribbing stall annihilator (Annie). We may not all be the best boarders but there are really easy steps you can take to not be the worst. On top of that list is respecting the owners/staff, other boarders, and facilities. If you move it put it back (if a course is set don’t drop all the fences to cross rails or mess with all of the distances unless you intend to re set it!), if you use it (or break it!) ask and pay for it, and be grateful regardless. It is a privilege to keep your horses on someone else’s property not a right.

What is your barns policy? Are there things you wish your barn allowed or provided? Interested to see how these policies vary farm to farm.

*This is just my personal opinion of one side of the equation. Obviously not all barns are a safe haven (I know this from first hand experience) and not all barn owners/ management provide the same things. If you have it good don’t mess it up!

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Jumping Ginger

I have touched on this hear and there on this blog – Annie is an athletic little son of a gun. She is the definition of a pistol and she packs some punch. I have pretty much no doubt at this point that she will jump whatever I point her at. The issue is a) will I stay on b) will I pee my pants. While she has a lot of heart she also has quite a few opinions and doesn’t always appreciate being told that maybe jumping at Mach 5 isn’t the best idea we have ever had. When we get all the pieces just right and I manage not to poke the bear or turn her into a dragon things are perfect.img_2238.jpgShe’s definitely been happy in a “I’m about to start swinging” state lately at the hint of contact of any kind. Jumping her can go from standby to defcon 1 (go ahead and skip 2,3,4,5) in about half a second. She feels relatively certain that she knows best (admittedly previously if I just sat still normally she took care of it all) but lately she has gotten a bit too big for her shoes and gets quite offended by any suggestion to maybe not rocket launch over tiny fences which doesn’t instill a lot of confidence. img_3248She is a beast about cross country (evidenced above by the HUGE death trap trakehner she sailed over) but the pendulum is stuck over show jumping now.  I am going to walk you through the various states of jumping Annie pre what I am calling the “hackamore revolution” now.

Suggesting with a half halt before the fence:Landing after said fence:

Me half way through a course: Except I rarely brush my hair and make up is over rated: A summary:I am still reserving judgment as I want a few more rides in the wonder rig but it has been a good 3 months since I rode my horse and got a quiet smooth ride to and from the jumps. I will report back with more but until then you can find me burning sage and making sacrifices to the jump gods for them to keep up the good juju over fences. Any break throughs lately for you all?

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