Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall riding photos

It is late fall here in Vermont and winter is rapidly approaching. The days are already short. We had quite a cold snap with night temperatures below 20F. For October that is cold. But by January it'll barely break 20 in the day.

Then we had a few warmer days in the 50s. So Armani and I made sure to get outside to ride often. We don't have many more good days left. The leaves are brown already.

Horses at pasture with blankets on. Armani in the navy.

We go for a ride. View between the ears and our shadows.

Armani turns to see the camera. It looks like we might be falling off the edge of the world, but I just was holding it at an angle.

View of farm and mountains beyond.

getting dark

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Things that are stressing me out." Or not so much. Part 1a: Armani is better

When Armani went lame suddenly, as advised by a reader, I told myself, "Our show season is done."

Armani's mysterious lameness dissapeared after a week and a half, without any abcess. I've accepted that it was a mild stone bruise. And I recognize that it probably did not cause any lasting damage. Although, as a sort of "mommy" I find I always have nagging doubts. No question it'll be worse when I have actual children.

We missed the last Dartmouth hunter/jumper show of the season. I was sorely dissapointed because we both had enjoy that series. I waited a good few weeks for him to feel consistently sound. I was happy that we managed to snag the last CVDA show of the year. And it was a good end to the season.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Show Report: CVDA Part 2: Downpours, mud? Oh what the heck.

Continued from Part 1...

I called the show office that morning. I asked if there were any scratches in Training Level. "Yes, the weather is awful. We have a Training 4 in the afternoon." I immediately snatched it. "I'm hardcore." I explained. Going to a show, in the rain, unprepared? Sure, why not? That wouldn't be crazy!

My husband was overworked and tired. So I called my brother. He agreed to serve as my "groom" in exchange for an evening at the pub. We headed over to the barn.

Armani's legs were covered in mud. I scrapped it off. But more stuck to him. "Oh well, it's just a schooling show. Everything will be muddy."

Armani gave me a funny look. Where the heck are we going? But we loaded right up and headed over. At the show we ran into a friend, who had been grooming for someone else. She was about to leave, but offered to stay and help us. Two grooms for me!

We tacked Armani up. He gave me more funny looks, but he behaved. Then I warmed up on the slick grass. I kept it slow and all went well. We entered the ring for our test...

"Loose horse! Look out! Loose horse!"

I halted at the gate. An acquaintance's horse cantered by. "Oh dear!" I said. When he was caught I quickly put it out of mind. "I won't let it get to me." I thought. We rode into the ring...

The mud was up to Armani's knees and hocks in the corners and a steady rain fell on us. It looked like melted chocolate. He went forward willingly. I felt his muscles working to lift his legs high above the slop. We came around to our first canter depart, I queued him.

Slip... slide... Jump! Hop! Canter!.. slide... trot... queue... skid...

Hmm... We were back to the point where we go back to trot. Ok - no blue ribbon. We got around to the 2nd canter depart. Queued...

Leap! Jump! Canter! Hop! *Grunts, groans* Slip... (lands on butt) slides... trot...

He's being honest. I thought. At this point I made no attempt to queue him again. I just got a forward trot and in two strides we were back to where we'd trot anyway.

After our salute I sheepishly smiled and thanked the judge. "Great gaits." she said, "It's tough weather. When he's stronger behind, he'll have an easier time in mud."

After we left the arena, I checked on my acquaintance. She was reunited with her horse. He had bucked, unseated her, and then slipped and fallen down on the wet grass, before taking off. Fortunately, they were unhurt. She bravely rode her test afterward. Who said dressage riders aren't tough?

It was a few hours before the scores were ready. I put on his Irish knit and my sweater. I gave him more hay, a drink, and sat with him. Armani gave me a dirty look and grumbled. I handed him half of my granola bar.

"Did you hear, FOUR horses went down?" At the office, I learned that 4 horses, including the one ridden by an acquaintance, fell down. I felt fortunate to have stayed upright. We got our score: 51%. I went over our marks. Most were 6 or 7 except the two canter sections. "No canter" "No canter so no transition" the scribe had written repeatedly. In the comments, "Good job despite difficult conditions!" and advice to work on strengthening his back-side.

Armani had been willing and obedient despite the weather. We headed home soaked but pleased.

Time to get some beers!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Show Report: CVDA Part 1: I'm a good girl, really

One of my favorite show series is the CVDA. They put on 3 shows a year.

Show 1 was on my husband's 30th birthday. I "Surprise!" bought Armani on his 28th birthday. On his 29th he was my groom. So this year, I was a good girl. We didn't go.

Show 2 was in a new location, further away. I opted to take the horses to the County Fair instead.

Show 3 was the weekend of our nephew's 1st birthday. I was a good girl again. I didn't sign up... but I'm not saying I didn't go...

My husband and I went to the inlaws on Friday night. The party was on Saturday morning. I kept my composure as 50% of the only childless couple present. Little whirling dervishes, high on frosting, careened recklessly around and into each other. They smushed perfect little cupcakes into their faces and cried; or were the cupcakes eating them? Proud parents, mostly younger than us, ate pretty finger sandwiches and exclaimed over their Junior's genius; how his daycare says he's one of the brightest bulbs in the pack. And when will we expect a little bundle of joy? they asked. Meanwhile the millions of toys played with themselves; beeping, singing, and flashing lights as they gyrated around the floor. When did toys start doing that?

Finally, after a few families left, we left too. I took my headache and stomachache with me as party favors. Yes, I know. I'm a terrible, cold, childless lady entering middle age; a cruel aunt who gives her only nephew boring baby books and wooden puzzles for his 1st birthday. What 21st century baby boy wants those?

My husband suggested we drive home that night. No, no, dear. I insisted, We can spend time with your family. However, he pointed the car for home and home we went. Maybe he was all partied out too. We got in bed at about 1am, an hour that hadn't seen me awake since college. All night a thunderstorm pounded the metal roof of our timberframe. I woke up early. Rain was coming down in sheets. Hmm, the CVDA show is today. It's raining. I bet they've got a lot of scratches...