Saturday, March 31, 2012

Where Janna rides Charlie...

I should have taken a picture but I usual.  So yesterday was lesson day with Janna and she got on the big guy.  She's used to big guys - her old horse, Elliot, is a 17.2hh draft cross.

We started off with working on the flat and of course I couldn't keep my mouth shut so I told her about my lesson with Carolyn and the connection theme.  We worked on you guessed it - connection.  Janna's really good about pointing out position things such as I need to keep my upper body back so Charlie's able to lift his front end up to me and I need to keep my hands up so the connection with Charlie's mouth comes from my elbows.  We worked on that and also asking Charlie to sit more and raise his frame from a BN/N frame into more of a T frame.  Hard work folks!

Then Janna got on him.  It was awesome to see him go with someone else and it was really good for me to see her ride him.  She's awesome with her upper body and her hands so I know have a really good mental image of what I should look like on him.  She was able to get some really nice moments of him sitting and really using his hind end.  It's still hard for him to do that so I think I need to make better use of the hills at home to strengthen the butt.  I think she was a little surprised at how much leg he took - made me feel better!  I thought I was just being a whiny weakling.

To end the lesson, I got to jump some of the cross country jumps Janna's been putting up around the property for pony club testings.  They're super cute - she's done a really fantastic job building them.  Charlie was really brave and I wish I'd put my 3-ring bit on him to try because he was strong enough that I would have been able to tell if it would be a good bit for cross country.  Oh well, next time!

Coop in the fence line - small BN size.

Baby rock pile!

Baby coop with a slightly bigger one next to it.

Charlie would have walked over this if I let him.

Small BN cordwood pile.

No riding today.  Flat day tomorrow to work on connection.  I also need to start learning my tests for the little dressage show - I'm going to sign up for BN Test B and N Test A.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Connection, connection, connection...

I'm beginning to hate that word!

In case you forgot or couldn't figure it out by title, today was dressage lesson day!  And the theme was...


So connection (which in my mind is a 4 letter word) is the name of the game when it comes to getting Charlie to use himself correctly.  And you know what?  It takes an INSANE amount of leg from me.  Holy calf and hamstring muscles!  I was squeezing so much to push him into the connection, I thought I was going to squeeze his eyeballs out.  

Ok, enough drama.  Carolyn had us work on establishing the bend/flexion (pick your poison) with the inside rein/leg, the outside leg was there to keep him from escaping out the side door and to make sure he was going forward and in the mean time, the outside rein is just supposed to be patiently waiting until he's ready to fill it.  The goal was to push him into the outside rein.  Once he's ready (and I really have to wait until he's ready - this is the key!), the outside rein asks him to come round.  I can't even begin to tell you the amount of leg this takes.  Once he accepts the outside rein, it's my job to keep it consistent (oh, how I struggle with this!).  The consistency creates something he can depend on and therefore creates trust between the two of us.  So when we end up a show and he's nervous, he should be able to trust that outside rein will always be there for him.  Talk about a lot of pressure for me!

He was quite good in the trot towards the end.  The walk is still a work in progress and the canter was a bit suspect (but that's mostly because I was so pooped) but he was really good as long as I was steady in my outside rein and maintaining the bend/flexion with my inside aids.  I'm tired just reading that sentence.  I need to be better coordinated...

All in all, it was a really great lesson.  I learned some stuff and have a lot to work on which is awesome - I feel renewed!  Even better, Charlie and I are going to go to a dressage show in about 3 weeks and Carolyn will be there so she'll be able to help me with show warm-up strategy.  Yay!  

So I need to be better about taking pictures because I keep forgetting to take pictures of the place we go to take dressage lessons.  It's a privately owned barn and the owner, Julie, is kind enough to let other folks come and ride there for free.  Super generous!  

So since I didn't take a picture of Julie's very cute farm, I took a picture of the wine of the evening:


Now, if you know where it's from, don't judge too harshly.  It's actually pretty good!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Another day, another bit...

So today was much better than yesterday...mostly because I only did 2 trot sets and one canter set.  Nothing stressful, just easy.  I practiced my half-seat which I currently suck at and tested yet another bit.

Today's bit du jour was a myler.  It's a full cheek with slots for the cheek pieces of the bridle and is shaped. It looks sort of like this:


Imagine this same bit except make it a full cheek.  It has copper inlay on the mouth and the joint is single.  It's covered by that barrel thingy.  I guess it was ok.  Still think I'll need something with a little more leverage but we'll see.

Thinking about putting Charlie on SmartGut.  He just doesn't seem to have a great coat and he cribs and while he isn't super nervous, something just makes me think this might be a good idea.  I suppose I've gone a bit beyond thinking as I ordered a 28-day supply to give it a whirl.  If I see a difference, I'll switch to the SmartPaks.  If anyone has any thoughts, good or bad, I'd love to hear them.  I'm obviously not a huge fan of spending money to spend money, but if it makes the pony happy...

A happy Charlie!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Should have stayed in bed...

Today was one of those days.  I didn't really feel up to riding today for whatever reason but told myself I had to because I didn't ride yesterday.  I spent all day yesterday and this morning holed-up studying for a test.  I should have listened to my gut.  While it wasn't a total disaster, I was frustrated that things weren't perfect and that made Charlie tense which annoyed me even further because there is nothing better than the feel of his back swinging beneath me.  So we just ended up in a no-win cycle.  Next time, if I don't feel like riding and feel like I have to for fitness reasons (and let's be real here - his fitness is just fine for BN), we'll trot round the perimeter of the property communing with the deer and bunnies.

Onto lighter subjects...


This is how Charlie likes to eat his food most days.  It's a little frustrating because I spend a lot of money on said food but he seems to do a pretty good job of cleaning it up.  Now, there's a reason he eats out of a rubber tub on the ground...


Charlie has a root bud (which is some sort of bony protrusion from his jaw that has something to do with his teeth...I think.  I should really know this...) and this is what it looked like at the beginning of Jan.  When he came back from PA in the beginning of Dec, it was a bloody mess.


Here's picture from right after he arrived in SC.  He tends to smack it on a bucket if he eats out of a hard plastic feed bucket.  It takes forever to heal because it's so easy to dislodge the scab.  Putting a halter on would make it start oozing all over the place.  It took me about a month to get it healed.  One good thing did come out of it looking this gross, I think he made it a little smaller!  Poor guy, he was really good about having it washed and junk put on it.

Dressage lesson with Carolyn on Wed - can't wait!  I really need some help!  And Janna on Friday.  Maybe we'll get to jump some of Janna's new cross country jumps...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A History Lesson - Part II

I figured it was about time for another history lesson - I'll tell you why at the end!  However, to start things off, I did indeed ride today (it was beautiful out!).  We jumped and I tried out a waterford with a figure-8 to see what Charlie thought of it.  I'm trying to come up with something to help me on cross country although it will be tough to recreate the problem while not on cross country at a show.  So I'm really just trying to see what he'll tolerate and what he hates.  He didn't hate this get up but I'm not sure the bit is right - no real reason other than my gut.  

The exercise today was off-set verticals - I took a picture because I won't be able to explain it without making it way more complicated than it really is.  Charlie was really good once he understood the question.  It never fails to amaze me at how catty he can be.

Hopefully you can see it but basically it's 3 verticals with the center one off set.  It's 42 ft between the 2 end verticals and 21 ft between the ends and the middle.  It's basically a steering exercise and I'm happy to report Charlie's steering definitely works! 

And now for the history lesson...

Cowboy and me at King Oak BN - 1991.
This is Cowboy.  Cowboy was my first "real" horse - I'd had ponies before this.  He was some sort of quarter horse cross with some appy tossed in for fun.  He was fairly nondescript - he was kind of deer colored brown with white flecks around his eyes and spots on his tummy.  He was low key and fairly easy to deal with on the ground.  We got him from a local lesson barn and the next day took him to a hunter pace which he cruised around with no problem.  I was 10 when I got Cowboy.  My first recognized event was the following year in 1990 novice at Shepley Hill (I can't believe it's been that long!) and to say it was a failure is a mild understatement.   I fell off at the first fence and was eliminated at the third.  Fun times.  To add insult to injury, when they allowed us to do our stadium round, he ran away with me.  Our second event was the following year at King Oak BN and it was much more successful - I didn't fall off at the first fence and I actually made it around the whole course!

1992 was an even better year - this was the year I met Cherie and I made the move up to Novice.  Cowboy was never very good on the flat.  If you asked him to really use his hind end, he had a bad habit of going up on 2 legs so I just sort of had to make do.  But since I was eventing in the "dark ages," if you went clean on cross country and stadium (which we usually did by this time), you almost always walked away with a ribbon.  For some reason, I can't find any pictures from this year.

1993 was a big year for us - I went to my first Groton House which used to be a really big show (fantastic facility and just a ton of fun to show there), we went to Pony Club Championships for show jumping, and made the move up to training.

Groton House I Novice - 1993
King Oak novice - Spring 1993 (remember this saddle pad)

As you can see, we'd come a long way.  Cowboy ended up being a really great horse despite our partnership starting out a little rough.  He was super safe and super fun to jump - absolutely made up for being such a turd on the flat.  He was so good, my mom inherited him once I got Fuzzy (see A History Lesson - Part I).  She evented him Novice and did little combined tests with him.  Basically, she had a blast with him.  I taught the occasional pony club lesson on him and some kids took their D-2s and D-3s on him.   

Pony Club Championships Culpepper, VA - 1993 (I look fierce don't I? Haha!)

King Oak Training - Fall 1993

I got Fuzzy right after Pony Club Championships and King Oak in the fall was our last event together.  I'm pretty sure I went off course in SJ.  Some lessons we learn the hard way...

Now for what sparked this trip down memory lane.  Remember that saddle pad I pointed out on Cowboy?  Well, check Charlie out - took this right before our ride today.

Charlie rocking a saddle pad that's almost 4 times as old as he is...

I love saddle pads and have a very tough time throwing them out...obviously!  Oops!  I forgot to tell you the saddle pad is what sparked the trip down memory lane.  Lots and lots of memories tied up in this saddle pad.

Edited (for the last time!) - I'm apparently too sleep deprived and have resorted to repeating myself.  For some reason I thought I had forgotten to say why I wanted to stroll down the memory lane but obviously I didn't. *sigh*

Friday, March 23, 2012

Justified and other things...

Well, I meant to write this last night but apparently American Idol and Justified were more interesting.  Justified more so than Idol - I don't typically start really watching Idol until they're down to the last 5 or so because that's when it gets really interesting.

Back to the main point, Charlie!  So I haven't touched on my goals because some of them have been an epic fail - mainly the me fitness goals but I did join a gym and I signed up for some sessions with a personal trainer.  Not thrilled with having to spend the money but I really need that to make sure I stick with it so this is how I'm insuring consistency on my part.  So my point in this is I was really, really sore yesterday.  When I woke up I kind of had to shuffle around but by the afternoon, I thought I had worked most of it out.  Well, that was until I sat in the saddle.  Holy smokes!  My butt hurt, my hamstrings felt like someone was sticking pins in them and my abs ached every time Charlie moved.  I'm being a bit dramatic but I really didn't think I was going to be effective at all.  So I decided I was just going to work on some of my bad habits - my hands.  Right now, I think that's my biggest faux pas.

As I picked up the contact, my thought was I wanted to emulate this picture of Jennie Brannigan (scroll to the bottom of the page where she's riding her horse Ollie).  Her hands may be a bit extreme but I figure if I get halfway there, I'll be 100x better off than I am now.  So my mantra was soft, bent elbows with a firm grasp on the reins.  My other favorite habit is to let my reins slip through my fingers.  You know what?  Charlie seemed to love it!  He was forward and absolutely balanced - I could feel all four of his "tires" underneath him.  The more we worked, the less sore I was so I was really able to keep pushing him forward into the connection and we had some really great work.  I still need to be more proactive - I have a tendency to sit back and say "oh doesn't this feel nice?" and I need to be proactively maintaining the connection and balance I've established.

After a short break, I worked on some transitions.  I can get a little hand happy in downward transitions and that causes Charlie to drop his back and come above the bit.  I just focused on closing my leg, tightening my abs (which really hurt by this point!), and thinking walk or halt.  We had some good ones but I need to remember to stay active in the transition - I can't do all these things at once!  My brain doesn't process that quickly!  But I'll get there eventually - just need to practice!

No riding today - raining and I have to study so I can get a real job that actually pays me every other week!

Here are a few pictures from last year before I left for Kuwait.

This is my mom on Charlie not too long after he got shipped to SC.  I'm thinking it was in Jan 2011 - hard to believe he raced his last race in Oct 2010.  Obviously, he's your stereotypical crazy thoroughbred...hehe!  She looks like such a shrimp on him!

This was at Charlie's first show at the end of Apr 2011 going intro.  He'd never been cross country schooling - just jumped a few logs in the woods during a trip to Southern Pines earlier in the year.  He was perfect the whole day.

And this is in PA at Cherie's.  I was getting ready for my second ride on him.  This is why I bought him - he's just so darn sweet.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How much is too much?

So I just took Charlie for a light ride yesterday (W/T/C in each direction) and he was really forward.  How much is too much?  Since he felt balanced, I'm thinking we were good.  Although, I'm trying to figure out what I did to make him so eager to go forward since he's typically more likely to suck back when I ask him to go forward.  Maybe it had to do with flatting him in my jumping saddle.

Charlie was quite good and yesterday are days I really wish we had trails.  I think that's my only complaint about my current set-up - no trails.  But since it's just about perfect in every other way, I don't really mind.  I just wanted to ride for 15 - 20 min and to get him out and about.  Because he was so willing to go forward (something I've been struggling with), I called it quits at 15 min and headed out for a walk around the property.

A view from the back of the property taken earlier this year.

I really like how much white Charlie has on his face because I think it makes him super cute but it drives me nuts that his nose is always dirty!  And it doesn't help that he's not a huge fan of getting his face washed.  

Charlie and his dirty nose eating dinner last night.
Now as you can see by the last picture, Charlie is not truly perfect - he cribs.  He doesn't destroy anything because all he really wants to do is suck air so the worst he'll do is pull a board off the fence.  And because he's a chestnut thoroughbred, he's super sensitive and has to have his cribbing collar wrapped in fleece or it rubs him.  So besides bucking me off, kicking me, and cribbing, he's almost perfect!  :-)

Oh, almost forgot!  Here's the link for our show jumping round at Pine Top.  We had one major oops! fence which was my totally my fault - missed the distance.  But I'm pretty happy with the rest.  I really need to work on keeping my reins shorter and my elbows bent...there's always something!  And here's the link to the photos from HoofClix - still debating on whether to buy one or not.  Charlie totally rocked his saddle pad from Kate at The Adventures of Lucy on cross country - you can see it in some of the pictures from HoofClix.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Blog silence and a big admission...

So I've been pretty silent as of late because school has really gotten the better of me.  I spent all last week either in clinical or doing my group project.  I just want to know who likes group projects?!?!  It's not fun to do, I don't believe the teachers enjoy having to sit through the majority of them (because I know I didn't have fun sitting there for SIX hours straight!), heaven help you if you get stuck with people you don't like! Spring break this week so now I get to catch-up on all the things I've neglected the past week or two.

Onto the admission...Charlie and I went to Pine Top Horse Trials this past weekend.  I didn't say anything leading up to it because if it was a complete and utter disaster, I could just forget about it.  And while I wouldn't term it a wild success, I don't think it was a total disaster.

My ride times were super late (D at 3:20 and SJ at 5:54) so we got there about 1:30 - 2.  Now, Charlie is NOT a fan of standing on the trailer.  At all.  And that's an understatement.  He spends his time violently pawing.  So I brought super Mom with me, hoping he would calm down enough for her to hold him while I walked my courses after dressage.  Needless to say, he was nuts...literally.  So I decided to get on him and let him wander about.  He was ok - not naughty, just kind of jumping out of his skin.  He was pretty willing to go to work but he was very tense and managed to work himself into quite a state.  I was on him for about 20 min then headed back to the trailer.  Janna was kind enough to come help and she took him to hose him off while I changed my shirt.  As I was going to get back on him, he kicked me!  Total punk!  He was kind of acting like what you see racehorses do in the paddock right before the jockeys get on so I really think he thought he was back at the track.  I'm going to try and not hold it against him...

He put in some really good work in the warm-up and was quite good going around the outside of the arena but I think in the end, I was on him too long.  He was just really tense and I was tense so we had a really tense test.  Go figure.  We got a 41 which is a bit frustrating as he is more than capable of scoring in the low 30s and maybe even the high 20s on a good day but we'll get there.  We went back to the trailer, hosed him off and he seemed to really settle down.  Settled enough that my mom felt comfortable with Janna and I going to walk the course while she stayed behind with Charlie.

Janna and I watched some of the Novice SJ (because BN hadn't started yet) and then went to walk the BN X-C course which was very straight-forward.  It was basically log, log, log bank, logs, coop, logs, red house, logs, log by the water, logs, more logs, log house, log, log house, water, log pile, and table.  I went back to the trailer to find my usual horse had returned.  Charlie had calmed down considerably and was calmly grazing with my mother still attached to the other end of the lead rope.

I tacked Charlie up and we headed over to SJ.  He got a little wired on the walk over but not bad at all considering how he was earlier.  He warmed up great and was even calm enough to stand by the ring while I watched a few rounds go.  When it was our turn, we went in and they rang the bell right away which kind of threw me for a loop because I couldn't remember the rules surrounding the start and finish flags.  I was pretty sure I was going to end up with a ton of time and a refusal because I *think* I went through the start flags twice but I don't really know because I never got to walk the course.  He was a little stronger than he'd been in the warm-up but he totally made up for being so tense in dressage AND kicking me.  He was really great.  We had one oops fence that was totally my fault and he saved me big time.  We finished double clear in SJ (somehow!).

I spent the night in Aiken with Shelley (see Cross country schooling and video extravaganza) which is about an hour away.  I hacked him Sunday morning and he was great.  My X-C time was 5:34 so we left Shelley's at 1:30 because I had to walk my course again.  He got off the trailer and was a bit excited but settled right down so I ran off to walk my course.  When I got back, mom said he'd been really good.  X-C was running about 25 - 30 min early so I hopped on about 4:40 and made my way over to the warm-up.  Janna wasn't able to come on Sunday so I was by myself.  Warm-up went pretty well - I love that they have natural jumps in warm-up now.  I popped him over a couple of logs and he was really good.  I made a huge tactical error in not wearing gloves - because Charlie was so sweaty, my rubber reins felt like they'd been coated in Crisco!  There was some confusion on what the order of go was since they were running so early and not everybody was there.  We finally got to go and Charlie was really good.  Me not so much as my reins were a mile long and I was having a really hard time picking his face up off the ground.  I think a new bit is in order - not because he's strong, but because I'm having a tough time keeping him balanced.  It's almost like he gets in a breezing frame and it's very difficult for me to balance him.  He peaked really hard at the water - so hard, I thought I was going to have a stop.  He never went backwards, just sideways so we lucked out and went clear.  But I had a ton of time penalties mostly because I was so worried about speed faults, I trotted in a couple of places.  I think I also lost a lot of time trying to rebalance him.  Other than that, it was a pretty good round.  Lots to work on but now I have a good idea of what kind of reaction to expect from him.

Not really sure what's up next for us but we have lots of options.  Some of it will depend on my Navy and school schedule and some on finances (gas is out of control right now!).

Charlie being cute right before cross country!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Nervous energy and how my colors came to be...

Not much to report - Charlie wasn't his usual outstanding self and I'm not really sure why.  He just seemed really high-strung today.  He was a little bit like that yesterday but I attributed it to the kids screaming next door.

I didn't have such a swell day so we just did some trot and canter sets in the big field.  I didn't really want to get into a fight as I knew my patience was at an all time low so I just sent him forward into the bridle and for the most part he was pretty good.  Hopefully tomorrow is better.

So I thought I would let you all in on how I got my "colors."  A little history first - back in the day (and yes I'm allowed to say that!), everyone had "colors."  And you know what, I liked it because you always knew who was who by their helmet covers.  Bruce Davidson always had red and yellow, Denny Emmerson was typically in hunter green, Mike Plumb was always in black, Torrance Watkins was the lady in yellow, and well, you get the picture.  Nowadays, it seems "colors" aren't as important.  But I like my chevron helmet cover and I'm keeping it.  Now for how I ended up with navy blue and grey.  I didn't really pick these colors, they were kind of chosen for me.  My grandmother gave me a blanket, a halter and a lead rope that were navy blue and grey when I was about 7 or 8 and that is where my colors come from.  Not really sure why I stuck with them but I did.  My mom picked the chevron pattern for my helmet and there you go - I really had no say in my "colors" or my helmet pattern.  I guess I must like them because I haven't changed them!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Computers! And a few other things...

I just wrote this whole long post and my computer decided to freeze!  I lost everything!  So here it is in a nutshell because I'm too annoyed to write the whole thing over!

Charlie got some new kicks on Tues and proceeded to rip a huge hole in his bell boots.

New shoes and far bell boot minus a huge chunk!
Wed = day off, thursday was flatting, and friday we had a jumping lesson with some major breakthroughs!  Sat = another day off as I was stuck in Labor and Delivery all day. :(  Flat today where he was ok but a little tense.  Need to figure out how to help him relax.

I got a new hat cover seeing as the old one is from 1994 - the only thing wrong with the old one is it's seriously faded.  Both covers are from Sipp Silks - can't say enough good things about them so if you're in the market for a helmet cover, I highly recommend them.

Old one is obviously on the left!  Huge difference, huh?
I think some jumping may be in order for tomorrow...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Cross country schooling and video extravaganza!

So I spent the weekend in Aiken and had a blast!  I really like Aiken, much more than Southern Pines.  While Southern Pines is very nice, Aiken is much bigger and seems to have more to offer away from the horses.

Charlie and I drove down on Friday afternoon, arriving around 5 PM.  We stayed with Shelley, a student of Cherie's who comes to Aiken for about 6 months/yr (although she's contemplating staying year round...).  She's currently renting a polo barn in a gated community (crazy, right?) - all the polo folks are down in FL right now.  It was really nice and very quiet.  I got Charlie settled and chatted with Shelley for a bit - the last time I saw her was Mar 2010.  Cherie and Bev (Justin's owner) got there about 6 and I tacked Charlie up for a quick ride in the twilight.  The point of the ride was to get some pointers on how to handle Charlie when he's in a new environment.  Basically, I need to keep his life more interesting than what's going on around him.  I untacked, fed Charlie, and we went out for Mexican!  I had the best margarita and the food was really good too.  You can see where my priorities are! :)

Saturday we woke up to rain, rain and more rain!  I really thought we would get rained out of schooling but it stopped raining around noon and Lellie Ward was kind enough to let us come schooling at her place, Paradise Farm.  Cherie had shown Alex there 2 weeks ago and wanted to jump him over some of the prelim stuff to get him ready for Southern Pines I which is next weekend.  My goal was to jump a few warm-up fences then go jump a course of about 6-10 jumps cold turkey.  Mission accomplished!

We got there, tacked up and trotted out on the cross country course to find a course for Charlie and me then headed back to the warm-up area.  We jumped the warm-up fences a few times then headed out on our made-up course.  Charlie was brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!!!  He just loped around like an old pro.  Lucky for me, Bev and Shelley were kind enough to take video.  Here's the video of our first course.  He was pretty heavy so I spent a lot of time trying to pick his head up (he wasted a lot of nervous energy when we first got there) but other than that it was pretty awesome.

After we completed the course, we schooled the water.  I HATE jumping out of water! I'm always scared they're going to trip up the bank and fall down.  Cherie knows this so she told me to keep my eyes up no matter what and to not look for a spot period.  And it really worked.  Charlie is very bold in the water so he's really good about maintaining the rhythm which made it easier for me to focus on keeping my eyes up and staying back - no collapsing allowed!  It went really well.  Here's the video of the water.

Next we moved onto the ditch.  We did ok here - he peaked and I wasn't in the backseat like I should have been so it wasn't very pretty.  He's not ditchy so it's really my responsibility to make sure I don't make him that way.  I need to be better about connecting him in front of the ditch so he's balanced and has time to understand the question.  Bev and Shelley were a ways away so the video isn't very good but I'll try and remember to upload it to YouTube.

Finally we move to the banks.  Again this was great practice for me!  My job was to connect Charlie into a short stride, keep my eye and body up and wait.  Charlie took care of the rest - smart pony!  I think this is where I had to most fun.  I just felt like I really got it.  Charlie always gets it so it really felt like we were a team.  Here's the video.

Here's a video of Alex and Cherie - Alex is such an amazing jumper!  And Cherie's no slouch either!  They're going to be great next weekend.

Sunday was the jumper show (the whole reason Cherie came to Aiken was to show Justin in the mini prix) but first Cherie and Alex had a dressage lesson with Silva Martin.  It was really interesting to watch - Silva gets on first and rides for about 20 - 25 minutes then Cherie got on for the last 20 - 25 minutes.  All I have to say is Silva was amazing!  I wish I'd taped it.  She really focused on getting Alex to be straight in his neck and lower in croup.  I remember what Alex looked like this time last year and the change in him is amazing!  Cherie credits Silva with a lot of his transformation.  After the dressage lesson (which was held at what looked like a castle - I should have taken a picture!!!), we went back Shelley's packed everyone up and headed for the show grounds.

We got there about 1PM and there were literally gale force winds.  Or at least that's what it felt like.  Jumps were blowing over, awnings were blowing off, it was crazy!  Cherie's class started at about 3 and there were 15 horses competing.  Will Coleman was there representing the evener's as well (he came in second on one of his 2 horses). Cherie rode 2 clear rounds coming in 6th.  Her goal was just to go clear and save him for some smaller grand prixs this summer.  Justin was jumping very well so hopefully this is the start of a very successful and competitive season for them.

I left the show grounds around 4:30 PM and got home about 6:45 PM.  I got Charlie and Sadie fed and beat feet home.  I was able to score a KK Ultra bit from Shelley for less than half price - I tried it on Charlie today and he loved it.  He was so soft in his mouth - maybe it really is worth the money.

Charlie gets new kicks tomorrow and boy does he need them!  I have to trailer to Janna's for the farrier so I'll probably ride him there - yay flat ground!