Hey All!

I haven’t updated here in a long time because (surprise!) I haven’t been riding Klondike.  He spent the last few months of summer getting educated by Liza, a pro eventer at our barn, and then we moved him down to the Southern Pines, NC area where he could be ridden more consistently over the winter. 

Klondike is available – please check the CANTER website for more information.

In the meantime, the bulk of my updates will be on the Calabria Rose blog, even though Rosey has found a new home.  I’ve been putting updates on events, the other horses, and the trails and tribulations of volunteering over there 🙂

Please stop by!

January 6, 2010 at 8:21 am Leave a comment

Choose Your Klon Adventure

I’m not sure how this happens, as I generally have a very good sense of direction, but I have quite the habit of getting lost on trail rides.  Typically, I’m also by myself, which is an indicator of really excellent brain power on my part.   Sometimes I don’t even take a cell phone, which I’m sure will really worry my mother. 🙂

Last night K and I went on such a trail ride.  Since he will be getting some ring work by a real live professional, it means I can stop making myself a neurotic mess about hands/bits/head tossing/failure to accept contact/notenoughforward and just chill out a bit.  If K needs exercise, we can go hit the hills.

What was a concern is that lately he’s been slightly irritable on trail rides.  Lots of jigging and unpleasantness, and frequently moving up a gear from the speed I asked for (I want to trot, klon wants to canter in place.  I want to canter, klon wants to gallop, that sort of thing).  In fields I’ve always been able to combat this by putting the Kid to work, and making his initial attempt to canter fairly unpleasant (for him.  I can gallop in circles all day.).  Where it’s been more challenging to deal with is in the woods, on closed in paths.

So I asked for some advice on this – our last few trail rides there was a little fighting, which is not how I like to spend my time in the woods.  Really.  I’m the kind of trail rider who likes to sidle up to wildflowers and stick them in my horse’s bridle, or play in the water.  I like to look around and spot wildlife and stuff.  Sometimes I even like to fantasize that we are time travelling or something (I really should NOT be exposing the level of my nerdery, so I’ll stop there). 

Allie’s suggestion was to spin him in little circles any time he picked something to do that wasn’t what I asked for.  I was a little worried about this because I get dizzy after spinning only halfway around once, and also didn’t want to spend any time puking off the side of the horse.  But off we went, and true to form he tried to lunge into the canter as we were trotting up our first real hill.  So I tried it, and spun him around, which was a little scary as we were on the side of the hill, but it worked, and when I stopped K stood there acting a little surprised and confused.  He tentatively walked up the rest of the hill, and we continued.

We had several more spins before he finally got the picture (I was being all zero tolerance and doing it if he even so much as jigged a step, because I’m mean sometimes).  I made sure that each time I did it, I spun the opposite way.  After all, we must develop both sides of the horse.  *snerk*

Eventually we got to the part of the woods I didn’t know so well.  I had studied the trail map in the barn before leaving, so I knew that after the first stream crossing, I should bear left, then left again, then right, and that should pop us out into the “galloping field” (tm the kids at the barn who like to race each other).  Except… it didn’t.  In reality, we ended up going up a hill into the wrong field that I couldn’t quite identify.  Then back into the woods, and into a pine forest that I’m pretty sure I’ve never been in, ever. 

I took a few more turns until I was so thoroughly confused that I thought one more turn would land us in Baltimore or somewhere.  So then I figured I’d just give him his head and see where he took me.  With my own horse this is a senseless (but fun) gamble as his sense of direction is as good as mine.  I call those trail rides “choose yoda’s adventure” – every time he turns or picks a different trail, he gets all excited, like, “this is totally the one that brings us home!” except he just gets us more lost.

I figured I’d try the same thing with K, after all, we had about an hour of sunlight left so what the hell.  And I did have my cell phone just in case.

Unlike my beast, Klon apparently has a very good sense of direction, and while he took me down more trails I’ve never been on before (I think), he got us back in familiar territory very quickly.

Oh, and before I forget, after those few rounds of zero tolerance spinathons, he was very good the rest of the ride.  There was some random head flinging, but mostly related to deer flies, or when I tried to direct him too much (“lady! for realz, I know the way home.”)

In other news, K will be getting a few weeks of work from our resident professional, as mentioned earlier.  He is also available (hint hint  nudge nudge) for sale at this time (I know, I said that last time.  But I’m shameless).  We’ve been taking pics for some sale ads, and even managed a semi decent conformation shot (yay!) so I’ll leave you with a pic of his gorgeousness 🙂

klondike - 13

It’s not perfect, but seriously, it’s not so easy to get a decent conformation shot.  He looks sort of doofy if he’s standing perfectly square, but it’s hard to get him in the “open” stance too.  It took a fair amount of time and crinkling twizzler wrappers to get these.  As an aside, this is why I get all defensive every time people criticize the CANTER listing pictures.  If getting the above pic took twenty minutes with an OFF track horse in a quiet environment with good ground, etc, how the heck are we supposed to get a good pic of a horse in two minutes, in the hectic environment of the track, with no level ground or clear background anywhere and only limited control of where the pic can be taken?

(sorry.  Done ranting.  :))

July 10, 2009 at 7:24 am 2 comments

Not Sure I’m Ready

Yeah, it’s official, Klondike is really available to the public, with an ad (currently photo-less) on dreamhorse and everything.

I thought I was ready for that, after all, we’ve been showing him to people here and there, and it’s not like I was surprised by any of this.  We hoarded him long enough, I think…  But when the pro trainer at our barn mentioned someone was going to see him (and a couple others, of course) on Thursday, in the morning while I’d be at work, I admit my insides sort of squirmed a little bit.

I mean, I’ve been riding him off and on for over a year now.  I knew him for months and months before that.  I admitted to being totally smitten with his goofy ass.  As much as I tried to prepare, it still makes me feel all weirded out and sad. 

Yesterday we went for a long trail ride with some friends… today we will do some ring work and try to get pictures for his sale ad and the CANTER website (which, by the way, was infected with some malicious virus-y thing, and is currently not operating normally).    I’m going to try really hard to not be a worrywart about tomorrow.  Not being able to be there is making me a neurotic mess.  Well, maybe not a total mess, but at least a partial one.  There’s a good chance I’ll be killing a little wine tonight. 

Last time he left I had a harder time than I anticipated, this time (because even if these people aren’t interested, someone will be) I don’t know what I’m going to do.  He’s like a member of my family at this point.

July 1, 2009 at 2:08 pm 4 comments

Wheeeeeeeee!

So Mr. Kid and I survived our first Starter Horse Trials.  Waredaca puts on a great show, by the way, and we had a wonderful time.  We also had some fantastic help and support from fellow boarders and friends, so big huge thank yous to everyone 🙂

Having that bit of super-organized assistance from people who know what they’re doing definitely makes things much, much easier, so I found I was far more relaxed getting on than I expected to be.  Until…. well, here’s the report.

Dressage

Actually, I’m not sure what we did was technically dressage, as much as it was “omigod turn!  turn again! wait,  you’re supposed to trot there, oy!”  But I might be getting ahead of myself. 

Klon walked up the hill to the dressage warmup, and into the warmup itself, like a pro.  He seemed sort of unhappy and like he might start being upset, so I set right to work which wasn’t my original plan.  I didn’t want to overdo anything or overthink anything, so had wanted to do a fair amount of walking, and then a quick WTC and head right into the ring.  It wasn’t meant to be.  I got him up into the canter until he felt like he was breathing and settling, and then changed direction.  Upon changing direction, for some reason he felt he’d really had enough of the warmup area. 

He explained this to me by ducking his head to the side and trying to charge back towards the gate.  Then when I stopped the movement in that direction, by, um, rearing.  I’ve explained before that this is one of those things that I don’t deal well with- it scares me and it is incredibly difficult for me to master that and ride forward.  I managed to do it, but made the mistake of continuing on in the good direction, to the left, rather than forcing the issue.  I just wanted forward. 

Again, once we were good, I changed direction only to encounter the same problem.  It seemed to coincide with some really bad footing, which I happily would have avoided completely except that we needed to go through it to get to the ring.  I managed somehow to work through it until he would walk through the crappy area, then we stayed on firmer ground or in the corner, where we could walk on a loose rein until our test.

Amazingly enough, once we actually went to circle the dressage ring, he was fine.  I guess being uphill from the chaos helped keep him in a happy place.  We entered the ring at a reasonably forward trot and surprisingly straight (yay!), but from there I quickly realized that 20 x 40 meters is a very small space. We have been working on really going for the happy flatwork, on a longer-ish rein and going nice and forward into the corners and transitions.  But I felt a little bit like there was no time, and the first part of the test, which was a turn up the short diagonal, came so quickly I had no time to think.  Pictures show I really should have moved my hands forward and sat tall in my lower back- I reverted a bit to the hollow lower back which I think makes K a little more likely to be a resistant giraffe.

Our opening 20m circle was the best part of the test, scoring a 7, but the rest of the test comments were littered with gems like “open mouth” and “head high through transition.”  Which really is about what I expected, given how much trouble we were having at home.  All that aside though, it went really well.  I remembered the whole test, and was fairly accurate (if not pretty).  The transitions to canter felt great to me, though I don’t remember what the judge said about them.  She also noted he was a “very handsome horse” which really is all we need to be happy, because he *is* a very handsome horse. So we were pretty happy, and while I had originally had a bunch of thrilling fantasies about scoring a 30 or below (hahahahaha! hah! hahaa!) we ended with a 44, and I’m not complaining as neither horse nor rider has *ever* done a dressage test, ever, in the real world.

Stadium Jumping

The stadium course was a bit more complicated than I had expected for our first unrecognized horse trials- just a lot of interesting turns that took some planning, bending lines, and rollbacks.  We walked it twice the night before, and my plan was to take as much time in the turns as I could, and I was basically prepared to trot the whole thing if I needed to.

With that in mind, we trotted into the ring, and then trotted the first jump, which was an oxer.  He went, but it felt sort of awkward to me and since he landed in a nice enough rhythm, I continued on at the canter.  Jump two went fine, he was looking (lots of brightly colored rails and decoration) but I actually used my leg, and while it wasn’t the prettiest jump ever, we didn’t have a major problem.  Then we had a sort of rollback turn (but it was somewhat funny angled one) to a plank jump (the planks weren’t straight, but shaped like waves, sorta) to a bending line to a vertical.  I didn’t get quite as good a line there as I had wanted- we’d been watching people for a little while and saw a lot of folks ride it straight, angling both jumps, and that wasn’t working out.  So I wanted to land straight off the first one and wait for the turn.  What actually happened was something in between, and we jumped out of that line somewhat crookedly (though it wasn’t awful by any means). 

We landed on the wrong lead, but since it felt OK otherwise I didn’t want to interrupt the rhythm by getting a lead change.  He can do flying changes, but it’s not reliable yet, so I continued on.  I’m thinking now we would have been much better off if I had stopped and changed it.  But everything looks better in hindsight, right?  We jumped into the next line a little crooked, and I had gotten ahead of him which meant it took several strides for me to sit down and realize we were nowhere near straight for the next jump (though seriously, every other part of the course was land-turn, LOL).  I was too late in trying to do something about it, and we had a run out.  Totally my fault. 

So we took a deep breath, and regrouped, and came back to that jump at a trot.  Once out, again in fairly even and happy canter, I continued on and we did the next vertical just fine.  The following jump was out of a rollback and also went just fine- then a 90 degree turn to an oxer and a sort of funky rollbacky turn (just like jump 2 to 3, basically) to the last jump. 

It makes me giggle that of all the problematic things on that course, the thing that I flubbed was the *one* straightforward part.

Cross Country

After jumping we had to head back up the hill for XC.  The entire walk over, it was relaxed and businesslike Klondike, with me riding on a loose rein and thinking about how much fun we were about to have.  Once up in the warmup area (which we were going to skip… no need after just jumping in stadium!) however, he took one look over at the still-busy dressage area, and started to get a bit upset again.  This time, instead of doing anything really worrisome, he ducked his head down and tried to spin around towards where we had just come from.  My usual use of the crop plus FORWARD NOW! was not working, and he just wanted nothing to do with that warmup area. 

Being unsure of what to do at this point (I know, forward is the answer, but I wasn’t getting any, plus people were trying to jump, and other people were trying to spectate in the warmup area) I just yelled for someone in the friend group to come help.  Fortunately they could still hear me, and Allie came jogging back to assist.  He just needed a lead, basically, and she got us across the road, and led him in a few circles until he exhaled a little bit.  Then we got him walking and moving around and then it was time for the start box.

Once in there, it was all systems go 🙂  I had planned on trotting out, but he wanted to canter, and I felt he would focus more on the jump coming up if I wasn’t trying to wrestle with him, so on we went.  The first jump was an inviting log and we had no trouble with it.  Then down a little slope and up again to a wooden miniature hobbit house looking thing.  The third jump I trotted as it was downhill and the landing was downhill for quite a ways-  I know, but really, I’m still not used to this. 

The fourth and fifth jumps went VERY well, and it was a shame no one was down there to see it- he took a good look at four but I actually sat and waited for it, and it went fine.  5 was a really cool thing called the “palisades” and everything about it was near perfect.  That was my favorite jump on the whole course, actually, and we found it right out of stride and it was easy-peasy.  Then around the corner and down a little swale and up over another log, no problem (though we trotted down into it).  The next four jumps were bigger than the others, and I admit I was a titch worried about them.  The first of that group was a roll top thing, painted dark green, and set so that you were approaching it uphill.  It took a lot of leg and I could feel Klon looking at it, but he went right to it.

Once over the roll top I finally took a breath, and figured everything else should be easy.  The following jump was a white lattice thing that they had put some brush on to make it a little less spooky.  It looks sort of out of place on course, so he looked at that one too, but again, I kept my leg on and it wasn’t a problem.

The jump after that originally worried me when walking the course, but from horseback it just looked fun, and it rode that way too.  On landing, we came back to the trot (probably could have kept going, but I felt a little unbalanced) to a coop that looked bigger than it was.  Klon had no issue, and it was on to the water where we… walked in.  He never felt the least bit hesitant about the water, there was just no getting him to trot in.  He likes water and will trot and canter through it when it’s smaller/clearer or in a different setting (the woods, usually).  This was murky and deeper and in a strange place, so he just wanted to test it out.  Once out of there, we cantered to the last jump, which was a small little barn shaped thing set uphill. 

I let him go a little to that one (probably still achingly slow in reality), and we got to a very funny distance.  I could almost feel him thinking about what he wanted to do, but just gave him the reins (and maybe leaned forward? I need to stop doing that, huh?) and he chose to take the flyer from pretty far out, then we ran up the hill to the flags with big grins on our faces.

I hopped off and we walked all the way back to the trailer (hey, he just carted my too-forward and jumping-ahead arse all around Waredaca, right?).  The whole way he was walking like a rock star, acting like he’d just won the Derby.  I think he *might* like cross country just a little bit (and maybe I do too).

KK and me with Susan, one of our awesome support team members

KK and me with Susan, one of our awesome support team members

In the end we finished 11th out of 17 entries, with 48 points I think.  Considering it was the first time for BOTH of us (really, is that recommended? I don’t think so. heh.), I’m pretty thrilled.  I have some stuff to work on for sure, but he was essentially a rock star, and it was SO MUCH FUN I want to go again. 🙂

June 22, 2009 at 8:09 am 4 comments

Holy Moly- it’s an extravaganza!

OK, in addition to Klon’s (and my) eventing debut this Sunday at Waredaca Farm (hint hint), there is more awesome CANTER stuff going on this weekend.

Saturday, June 20th, is the  CANTER Mid Atlantic/OTTB Appreciation Day at Swan Lake Stables AA Show

Stop by the booth for info, raffles, bake sale and to view listings of OTTBS for sale through CANTER at Mid Atlantic Tracks and CANTER Mid Atlantic’s rehoming program.

Two outstanding TB awards will also be presented at the show that day:

The Francis Bacon Memorial Trophy to an outstanding TB Jumper., and the “It’s My Turn” Memorial Trophy to an outstanding TB Hunter.

This is part of a week long show running from June 16th-21st 2009, featuring the DJ Johnson Horse Transportation $10,000 Hunter Derby, Friday June 19th at 5 pm and the $35,000 SuperHero Grand Prix Sunday June 21st at 1:30 pm.

June 18, 2009 at 9:28 am Leave a comment

Nerves

I just checked the Waredaca site and the times are up for Sunday.  We will be riding dressage a bit after ten, and jumping/xc a bit after noon.  Seeing it up like that, with our names plastered out there for everybody to see, has suddenly made me really nervous.  I have that weird feeling inside that I usually only get the morning of a show, not four days beforehand.

I have decided to just sort of surrender myself to whatever happens in dressage, which is probably the best possible stance to take.  Now I just have to remember to actually breathe when I enter the ring 🙂  We actually had a much better ride the other day- I tried a flash noseband, but also took a step back from the work we’d been doing and just sort of… I don’t know, rode him more like a hunter.  I gave him a longer rein, didn’t push for quite as much forward (that seems to get him more rankled- probably because it’s harder!), and just quit caring about doing it right so much (and the head tossing/twisting, or the resistance when I ask for downward transitions).

I know that sounds wrong, one should never quit caring!  But being as I have such a tenuous grasp on my sanity lately, it was making me intensely neurotic trying to focus so hard.  All the things floating through my head while riding were turning me into a mess – trying so hard to keep my hands still, my hips soft, my leg here, my shoulders there, my weight over there… I was starting to feel like I was failing the horse, even though the reality was that things weren’t that bad at all.

So, Martians to Kelly:  it’s OK if it’s not perfect.  Quit trying so hard and just have fun! 

And you know what? That totally works. 

So anyway- those of you in Maryland who might be in the vicinity of Waredaca– please feel free to stop by and meet us!  Regardless of how we do (especially in dressage) Klondike and I really love to have a fan club.  We’ll be wearing royal blue, since it’s the color of the CANTER logo (unfortunately I couldn’t quite pull off getting said logo embroidered on my saddlepad in time.  So sad!).  If you haven’t met this horse, you REALLY have to!

June 18, 2009 at 8:43 am 1 comment

The Klondike Dance

First you bounce the crossties

First you bounce the crossties

Bounce the crossties, yeah!

Bounce the crossties, yeah!

Then look to the left...

Then look to the left...

And throw your head in the air

And throw your head in the air

In the air, In the air

In the air, In the air

June 16, 2009 at 8:44 am 1 comment

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