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.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Four Days

Before my trip to see my mom in Arizona, Ashke and I were fighting. I don't know if the maxim of "distance makes the heart grow fonder" works with horses, but we both seem to be past that point. My ride on Sunday, although short, was very good. My only issue was finding his left hind swollen and with a scab on part of the scar tissue.

I went out on Monday and clipped the hair around the scar tissue, finding the skin kind of swollen, although not hot, and scaley. I put some medicine on it (antibiotic steriodal cream I got from the vet) and covered it with an equisleeve. J went out on Tuesday to hold him for shoes and the sleeve was still on. When I got there Weds night, he had managed to shove it down under his fetlock around his pastern, and the leg was a little puffy both above and below the sleeve. I swear, horses!! I pulled the sleeve off and was happy to see that the leg looked better. The scaley part of the scar tissue was smooth.

Based on a conversation I had with Saiph, I covered the scar tissue with hydrocortisone cream. Hopefully, that will help keep it from itching and he will stop scratching it open.

I took him over to rinse him off since he was a dull yellow. I realized as I tacked him up for our lesson that I hadn't given him a good grooming in quite some time because he is always urine soaked. I told him that I would give him a good grooming at the end of the our ride.

He was fantastic during our lesson. I was quiet and calm and he was responsive and willing. We've managed to get past ourselves and I think the time apart made our hearts grow fonder. Now, if I can just maintain my calm on Sunday, we could have a great show.

After our ride, I spent a long time grooming Ashke. I used the sleekez (great tool), a rubber curry and a soft brush. We went over all of the parts several times until the sand around us was littered with piles of white hair. He was so happy he completely dropped. Like dangled. Even after I took a peak at it. It must have felt really good.

This weekend will be super busy. Keep your fingers crossed for me that we maintain our cool. I'll see you on the flip side.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Home Again

The trip was fairly uneventful. The dogs only tried to kill every motorcycle or bicycle on the road that they saw. The boy spent the night before the drive playing xbox and hanging out with his friends on line, then slept the entire drive. At least we didn't have to hear "are we there yet?"

 Skittle thinks she must be the closest to traffic in front of us.

Lily takes a turn after Skittle gets in the back seat again. Neither of them fit well with the other adult in that seat.
They are not small dogs.

 Cliff Swallows with nests.

I love swallows.

It was hot. Like 110 hot. We spent the week hanging out inside keeping my mom company, getting her drinks, food, ice, helping out around the house  and watching Criminal Minds. Oh. And playing Wooden Block on our phones. If you've never tried it, don't. Wery, wery addictive. 

 Morning we left. Sun coming up in the East over the mountains. 
I can never figure out where I am in Arizona. Mostly because the mountains are in the wrong direction.

 Salt River Canyon.
Saw the wild ponehs.
Didn't get pictures.

 More mountains.
It was very pretty at 5 in the morning.
Already 80 though.

 The one thing I love about Arizona is the Saguaro.
Don't know why. I just think it's cool.

 On the drive down, I saw this house.
It needed windows, a roof and a wall.
I thought "gosh, what a cute place, it just needs a little work and I could live there."
J thought, "that house was abandoned because everyone living there killed themselves."

 Everyone tried to pass the time by sleeping.

We were an hour away from home. Skittle was done.
I mean done.
She needed snuggles big time.

Ashke seeing me for the first time after ten days.

I had to wash him off before I could ride. He was sweet and responsive. We worked on transitions at our marks in the arena. Not much of a ride, but productive. The only bummer was that he's been messing with the scar tissue on his left hind. I think the long hair there is making it itch. I ended up clipping the hair off of his left hind fetlock which exposed strange scar tissue. It's almost like there's a scab there and the skin isn't smooth. I put some antibiotic cream on it then put him in a equisleeve (I bought these a while ago on sale). I'm hoping that keeps him from tearing it open. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


I finally realized last night that both Ashke and I are tired and we both need a bit of a break.

We got in a bit of a fight on Monday over going back to canter work after sitting and talking with a barn fellow for twenty minutes. He didn't think he should have to work and so he resorted to balking and throwing his head up. It is his go-to temper tantrum. He got swatted on the neck with an open hand and then I threatened to sell him. He must of understood, because respectful and obedient Ashke returned and we spent 20 minute cantering in big circles. We would slow and walk until I caught my breath and then canter again, switching directions between walk breaks. We were both hot, sweating freely and pretty much done with each other at the end of our ride.

One night after our ride, just hanging out

I could barely walk on Tuesday. I pulled my right calf muscle on Saturday when we were riding at PVF, plus my groin and thighs are hating me right now. I had a lesson last night and both Ashke I felt off when we started. Except he felt off on the left hind. I basically hurt all over.

 More random video

I talked to Amanda about it during our lesson. He was obviously stiff and we worked a lot on stretching out the left side. We had a great ride and he was very responsive to my requests. Our transitions are getting better every time. However, we both felt tired.

I realized that I have been riding four days a week, mostly dressage stuff, consistently since Expo. The things we are working on are more and more difficult. I know I am feeling sore and old. Like really old. I can imagine that Ashke feels the same. He's seemed tired and a bit lethargic over the past couple of weeks. I was reevaluating whether or not I needed to adjust his feed (I really don't want to add oats because of his feet, but am considering some amplify, since his ribs are beginning to show and the extra fat will increase his energy) but I think we will try some rest first.

I love watching him move

We are going to give him four days off in a row. I am going to Arizona for a week to visit with my mom, and I will have our next show the weekend after I get home. I don't want to let him just sit, so Amanda will put three rides on him while I am gone. I will do a lesson where we will ride the dressage test on the Tuesday when I am back and then we will just hack and hang out on Thursday. Then our show day is Sunday. After the show, I think we will both take a break for the week and do a trail ride of some sort the weekend after. He's learned so much in the past three months and gotten so much stronger that giving him a break might be exactly what he needs.

Monday, June 5, 2017

WE Playday

We have a show in three weeks, at Plane View Farm, where Ashke and I will be showing at L3 (Novice B). I had hoped for an opportunity to ride an EOH course before then and the BO at PVF heard my spoken/unspoken wish and scheduled a playday for anyone interested in working the obstacles. I signed up for a ride on Saturday, and then encouraged Amanda to join me with her Maggie. We ended up going and her sister and mom joined us. I was excited since it would give me the opportunity to look over the venue, would give Ashke and I some practice and exposure in a new environment.

We got to PVF way earlier than we expected and spent time outside warming up our horses. Ashke was looky but not too bad and once we were warmed up, he was really good. When it was time to go inside, I was feeling pretty confident that he would listen and not fight me to go faster. I tell you, getting him to understand the difference between EOH and Speed may be our biggest challenge. It's a real struggle. It's amazing to me that he will do any obstacle without hesitation, but I can't keep him from racing when I ask for the Canter. It became a fight because I didn't have the patience to do otherwise. I should have slowed down but I was feeling like I only had an hour to work through all of our issues. And I was a bit frustrated with his behavior. Plus, I might have been fighting the hangry monster as well.

At the end of our ride, I really wondered why we were still doing this. WE is hard. It's really hard to do well. Ashke is more fond of doing things fast than doing them right. I need to develop better coping mechanisms, remember that we should be having fun and that my relationship with him is the most important. I made a comment to Amanda and she said we did better than I thought we had. After reviewing the videos that J took, I can see that she is right. However, I can't allow the upfront fight we sometimes fall into to derail the really great moments we had.

Santori and Leslie

He's so brave doing new stuff in the arena but a complete skatterball when it comes to items on the fringes of the arena.

Maggie refusing to go through the water. Again.
She just decided no.

The first time over the jump was exciting.
Ashke completely took a long spot and jumped me completely out of the tack.

I think that a huge part of my issue on Saturday stemmed from my feeling like I was going to run out of time. That, and I wanted to treat it like a show, where there isn't an opportunity to school the obstacles. Ashke was of another mind. Once he overjumped the jump, we went back and schooled it at the trot, then the trot to canter and finally the canter. He was much more reasonable in his jump effort after the first time. 

Doing the drag an object for the first time

Again, I really thought this would be an issue for Ashke, especially since he is so nervous and anxious about dragging items behind him. But Braveheart was Brave. He was more anxious about the rope in my hand than the drag behind us. 

Maggie would do the water obstacle in hand, but not under saddle.
She finally followed Ashke through the water without a big fuss.

When we were fighting. He just was so reactive about the far wall.

And more.

Bridge. No biggie.

Double slalom

Dragging the log. 

He will not stand.

Hand on my hip telling him to stand still.

Rounding an Obstacle


Sidepass poles

At the end of the session, Ashke was hot and tired. His right hind was showing signs of fatigue and I was hot and sweaty. We spent the last few minutes just walking from point to point. Then we unsaddled, loaded up and headed home. I have some stuff to talk to Amanda about on Tuesday during our lesson. I want a solid strategic plan in place to help me deal with my frustration at Ashke's behavior. 

When we got back to the barn, I clipped Mez. He's a huge guy, very sweet, but covered in long hair. I offered to make him more comfortable and so we did that after our ride.

He didn't move. I had to use a step stool to reach his back and ended up covered in long black hair. He was so much happier when I was done. 

We picked up pizza for dinner then headed to bed. J rode Elephant Rock on Sunday.