Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Plane View Farms Schooling Show 2017

Our HCWE show at Plane View Farms happened last weekend. We held the Introductory rides on Saturday, which both J and I worked, after which I went to wash my urine stained horse. Even after copious amounts of bluing shampoo, he was still stained yellow. However, I got his mane and tail clean, his mane braided in straight braids, and fairly white, provided you didn't get too close to the finished product.

The struggle with white horses is real.

Sunday, we woke up early and I still had to wash urine off my horse's sides and legs. We ended up at PVF at about 6:45 am so I could ride Ashke in the indoor arena some prior to the start of the show. Riders weren't allowed to work the obstacles or ride in the dressage arena, but we could familiarize ourselves with the environment prior to the show. It helped a lot later on when we were doing our EOH ride.

My goal for this show was to control my nerves. I started feeling anxious and tight chested on Thursday, which continued through Saturday. My body must have decided we were done with the anxiety on Sunday, because there were very few jitters on Sunday. Every time it started I stopped and took deep breaths until it subsided. Ashke warmed up well, so I untacked, covered him with the BOT mesh blanket, gave him a bag full of alfalfa and left him at the trailer.

He stood without fussing for the entire day. Even when other rigs pulled out and left him. Such a good boy.

I made sure I ate breakfast that morning, since I was really hungry the day before. I got a bit of a snack and watched some of the Novice A riders, then headed back out to get Ashke tacked up. I rewarmed him up in the outdoor, focusing on our transitions and bend, then headed over to wait my turn. We walked around the outdoor course the barn has up to keep him moving and relaxed.

We went into the arena and practiced a little canter while waiting for the judge to ring us in. Ashke got a little anxious and I halted him and asked him to relax. He got lots of pats and praise for bringing his head down and relaxing. Then the judge rang the bell and we went in.

I was so happy with both of us.

One thing that I did differently, was I stayed focused on what was coming up rather than thinking about what we had just flubbed. There was one break in gait where he was pooping, but otherwise he was very good for me. I started to cry at the final salute and was so very happy with my horse.

After our ride, he got parked at the trailer with more alfalfa and lots of cookies.

We got ready a touch early for the EOH course. I was relaxed and comfortable, knowing that its just a schooling show and an opportunity for us to work on our stuff. Ashke was in a great mood, seemed to love just being with me and wandering around the property. We had good luck this show and there were no DQ's, which meant that we were ready a touch early.

All of the riders waiting their turn to enter the arena were working the outside obstacles with their horses. The obstacles were more along the lines of what you would find in Extreme Cowboy and I opted to walk around them rather than going through most of them. There were two tractor tires that had been buried upright that Ashke and I had walked through earlier in the day, but for the most part we were just wandering, keeping him warm and mobile.

Chris came up to me and said something about walking between two tractor tires over a mattress they had there. Then she said, "Oh, but that wouldn't be a problem for you, since he will cross the water anyway."

Five minutes later, we were back in front of the obstacle. This:

Satori walked through it. Dazee walked through it. I thought "no big deal" we would just walk through it too. I was relaxed with one hand on the reins as we stepped confidently onto the mattress. Then Ashke did this:

Straight up into the air. And came down onto the mattress with all four feet. Then went straight back up. I came off, hit the tractor tire on the way down with the inside of my right arm and landed on my ass on the mattress edge. Ashke kept doing the sproing motion next to me. I don't think he knew how to go forward and get off. I hollered "Ashke whoa!!" and he stopped springing. I got up and got him off the mattress.

He was very stressed. Not only had we been attacked, but I had been dragged off of his back by the mattress monster and almost devoured. Note to self: getting dumped twenty minutes before your ride is not beneficial to reducing anxiety.

Or pain.

My right shoulder was a mess. L, one of our trainers, came over and held Ashke while I put my right arm back in the socket. It made poppy-grinding noises, but some of the pain eased. I got my breath back and got back on. Ashke had been transformed from a soft, relaxed partner, to a fire-breathing bundle of nerves. I was in so much pain I wanted to cry. I asked Chris to do some energy work on my shoulder and she did so, then used her tuning forks.

The pain level was manageable by the time we reentered the arena and we made it through our test. Ashke braced against my hands a lot more than he has been doing, although you can see when we got to a particular obstacle, he knew what he had to do. Overall, I was very happy with his performance. It was a step up from Expo. However, I was bummed that I had screwed up my chance at riding the course with a soft, willing horse.

Enjoy my EOH course:

That left our speed round. I was prepared to ride the Speed round the same way as the EOH, but just couldn't go that slow. We didn't race but we did go faster than I had originally intended, mostly because of pain.

I was in shock when the garrocha flew out of my hand and I watched it bounce on the ground. Since I wasn't racing the course (only one in my division) and I didn't want to DQ, it was  no brainer to get off my horse and pick up the pole. Ashke got a little tense when I leaned the pole against his shoulder, but he stood when I asked him to stand. I did stop him before the pen to reinforce the idea that he needed to listen, but for the most part, it was a fun ride.

The day was done. I had four pretty blue ribbons, a happy, full horse (six flakes of alfalfa at the trailer) and two exhausted peeps.

Next time, stay away from the obstacles.


  1. The dressage test was beautiful! There are some really nice moments in the EOH video, but your pain is so evident in the speed round...I had a hard time watching it.

    I'm so happy you had fun despite the fall! And I hope your shoulder is feeling better.

  2. I'm sore and bruised, but the dressage test was much better and definitely gave us something to build on. I'm still a bit shocked I was able to get back in the saddle with the hurt shoulder. :)

  3. That dressage test! When you bent down to hug him I got choked up. He is so steady in his canter, wow. And he has the look of a seasoned show horse.

    Had you practiced mounting with the pole lying against him like that?

    He is a joy to watch because he is so focused on the obstacles, he knows his job. And yah, he loves to take off for the next one.

    1. I had started to cry as we turned down centerline the final time. That test is everything we have been working on the past year. He has come so far. I know that there are things we can tighten up that will improve our score - we were early in a lot of our transitions - but the biggest win was I wasn't anxious and he wasn't tense. I had tears running down my face as we left the ring. He was that amazing.

      And I was riding poorly in the EOH and frankly by Speed I just wanted to be done. We have practiced resting the pole on his shoulder but the one thing he has learned that helps us all the time is that when I say stand, he doesn't move his feet.

  4. RE: the struggle is real: This morning my horse was just filthy and we have no mud at the moment so he must be working hard on this "orphan" look. Green and greasy. And he's rubbing his mane and tail out, that's new. The fly mask is taking the skin off his nose, and he has those lumps on his back still despite all our efforts to heal them.

    I had a chestnut horse of my own for 2.5 years and never liked her, except the reality was that she always looked show-ring ready with no effort.

    I know from my dressage years how keeping a white horse in a stall puts urine stains on them that cannot be washed off - I washed, used tons of baby powder, but stalls turn horses yellow. I wonder how much bedding I could have used to prevent that....

    1. Ashke won't, and I mean won't, pee outside. I buy screened shavings, which he pees in and then lays on. He likes to move them into a pile to pee and then that is the only pile he has to lay on over night. Even when we bed the stall heavier, he still has urine all over the left side of his belly and front legs. In winters past, I've been able to keep him cleaner than this year, through strategic bathings. But this year he was washed in early November, early March and then in June. I need to do a better job of keeping the urine off his sides. Everyone I know with a grey has this issue.

  5. What do you use to keep his tail so white? I use Quicsilver when I can get it, and to stretch it out I use spray&wash and straight Dr Bronner's castile soap on the bottom half of the tail, which seem to work as well as the Quicsilver.

    You are lucky you can wash your horse in Winter. My horse is afraid of towels, so when I tried hot toweling, he told me no. Do you do lots of hot towelling?

    1. Currently, I use Brite n White by Vetericyn and have also used Wonder Blue by Farnham. Both shampoos have bluing in them, which used to be used in laundry services to keep white things white. Bluing was used in salons for elderly women to make their hair white but if used wrong would leave blue highlights. Hence the term Blue hair for an elderly woman. You put it on and rub it til there is no purple left and then let it sit. I usually do his mane and tail first then the rest of him. It turns his tail very white.

      I don't bathe during the winter. I might spot clean is girth area if the urine is bad, but I don't wash him if temps are under 60. That said, Expo has heated barns and warm water, which meant he not only got clipped but cleaned very well in March. We typically bed his stall deeper with shavings during the winter, but I sometimes think the shavings help contribute to the yellowing.