Friday, February 19, 2016

Catching up at long last

The time has come again for real updates. The hardest part of not blogging is that it gets much harder because when you haven't written, it feels like you have so much backstory to catch up on you can't just update on what's new. No more. I am going to update on now, or I'm never going to start again. 

Jazz has been doing awesome. I've been riding with an eventing coach since the summer, learning pretty much only dressage so far.  I took almost the entire fall off of riding lessons when classes started up. My first semester schedule was a horrible drudgery which left me with basically only time to ride on weekends.  I was really struggling through September and most of October, because I couldn't ride enough to keep Jazz fit, so it was conditioning work constantly, and I felt like I never got to do anything actually fun or productive, just fitness and more fitness. I ended up half leasing her out to a girl I rode in my group lesson with in Pony Club.  It was perfect because I had seen her ride, I knew her to be at a similar level to me, and her lease horse had gone lame in late August. She also took lessons with my trainer, so I knew Jazz would be being worked in a way I'm comfortable with.  It was awesome, Jazz was in the best shape of her life, and I got to just play on the weekends.  I even taught my lessee to barrel race on Jazz and I's fourth anniversary (it was a terrible decision in a way since I hadn't been cantering much and my back was killing me for three days after, but it was fun). It worked out perfectly, because just as my schedule opened back up, her lease horse was coming back into work so I got to take Jazz back full time.

Jazz was covered in frost the other day, so after I laughed at how hilarious she looked  for about a minute and a half, I had to take about a million photos.

Back to the present, I've been working on dressage and I am RUINED. FOR. LIFE. Oh my god did you know how much crap you have to do to get correct work? And more importantly, HAVE YOU EVER FELT HOW MUCH BETTER CORRECT FEELS? I can sit the trot! Bareback! No stirrups! I was not sitting in the middle of my horse. Ever.  Now I can go through a month of lessons without once being corrected to sit in the middle. My legs stay in place! I'm barely losing stirrups once a week when it used to be ten times per ride on a good day. I'm figuring out what previously mysterious phrases like "inside leg to outside hand" and "leg to hand" and "connection" mean. Jazz moves FORWARD. The prancy annoying moving nowhere canter of our past is (almost) completely gone (with occasional reappearance when she's getting tired). Strung out gross crazy trot is also only found when Jazz is tired and frustrated.  She's overtracking at the walk and trot! Dressage is the worst kind of drug.  I will probably never get to the point where I'm up there at perfect, but I know what's out there. I know better and more precise is attainable.

Frostbeard the pony pirate

Lately, our W/T has been going like gangbusters.  Jazz is getting lighter and rounder, and we're learning about connection, there's a lot more forward in our trot, and my hands are getting better.  Most lessons I've been taking lately have been a short walk warmup and then an exercise at trot, and a bit of canter at the end.  Our work at the trot has really felt like it's progressed almost every single week, and I'm really happy with how it's come along.

What's that? Oh no, I couldn't possibly listen today. My ears are frozen.

The canter is another story.  It's really been deteriorating lately.  It started with Jazz not being able to pick up the right lead.  She was having so much difficulty that my instructor suggested something was probably out so I should get her looked at by a chiropractor. I had her adjusted a few days later.  I can't remember if I've mentioned it here before, but Jazz had really uneven shoulders that were causing some difficulty with saddle fit.  We figured it was mostly incorrect muscling, and worked on getting her more balanced and even, and I bought a saddle pad with adjustable memory foam shims to help compensate.  Since she's been adjusted (and he did work on something near her withers), I found my saddle felt really high on the side with the extra padding. I started taking more and more layers out until it ended up level, and I'm back into regular saddle pads again.

I get to use my cranberry pad again, which is one of my absolute favourites!
I also managed to perfectly capture Jazz's three modes: 1. Perfect statue look how proud and pretty I am
2. Nap time
And my personal favourite, 3. Adorable doof
 After her adjustment, the right lead has come much more easily, but now it's the left that's causing issue. Easy come, easy go I guess.  In addition to the transitions being harder and harder to get, she's been totally running away with me, and refusing to turn on circles correctly.  It's been hard because I essentially can't canter in an acceptable manner at all right now.  I actually had a lesson yesterday, and it was going swimmingly, and then I was holding back tears by the end of the canter.  It's been hard to put up with, but I'm counting my blessings because Jazz has been a thousand times better behaved in general (canter notwithstanding) than any of the past winters I've owned her. 

 I also got instagram so now I can make artsy photos and collages like these:

So here we are! Back again! I've missed updates! I can't wait to stay more current on this blog again.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Micro Update from a bad blogger

I can blame a lot of circumstances for my lack of blogging in the last little while, but I'm tired of doing so.  Instead I wanted to share a teeny tiny little update rather than the mondo update I really should write that I've been putting off for months now.

For years I've toyed around with the idea of a show name for Jazz.  For a long time I toyed with the idea of ColbyJazzmus (which I still have as my blog URL and blogger username), which I have explained previously here.  I always liked it in theory, but there were two big problems with actually using it.  Firstly, Colby Rasthmus, the inspiration for the name, was traded from the Blue Jays some years ago, so it's no longer a Blue Jays reference.  Secondly, it just didn't sound much like a show name to me.  I've always liked show names that are short phrases, which Colby Jazzmus didn't really fit.

All the photos in this post are going to be reposts to break up the text on account of how lazy blogger is lazy and doesn't want to locate and upload new pictures onto my laptop right now

One of my all time favourite horse nicknames is AareneX's  mare Fiddle, commonly referred to as the dragon.  Over the years, Jazz has acquired many nicknames:
-Lovey Bear
-The Red Beast
-Freight Train
-Train Wreck
-Bag of Snakes
-Conspicuously Coiled Spring
-Rocket Waiting for Blast Off
-World's Greatest Pony
-My Hero
-The Lord is Testing Me With This One
etc., etc., etc.

Really the nickname depends on the ride we are having (bag of snakes was actually coined today when we were riding in some beautiful weather rendered irritating by the snow suddenly and loudly falling off of the tin roof of our arena. Jazz was a really good girl considering, but she was just positively roiling under the surface), and how patient I am feeling.  The Red Beast has usually been used in good humor, when I'm offering to trade horses with other boarders at my barn on Jazz's very best days. It has always been one of my favourite nicknames because it's accurate on the bad days, and brings a smile to my face on the good days.  However, it wouldn't make for a show name.  Then, as fate would have it, dragon happened to be floating around in my brain when Jazz had her teeth done a couple of weeks back.  It was a cold day of about -8 degrees celcius, and Jazz was as midly uncooporative as she usually is for the dentist.  She requires a minimum of a double dose of sedative, and if the appointment takes too long, she needs a booster.  She learned at a young age that the big giant gag bit thing they put in to do her front teeth is easily moved sideways if she chews on it just so until she gets to the elastic on the side, which is much less cumbersome to have in her mouth.  She also likes to move sideways as much as she has room to (we usually float at home in a stall, as opposed to in the stocks at the vet clinic), and occasionally try to barge directly through the front of the stall, which is funny since her head is tied way up in the stratosphere.  My barn manager was around for the first part of the appointment, and I forget how it came up, but I mentioned I'd been toying with the idea of putting Dragon in her show name when Jazz snorted loudly, and I had to laugh at her with steam coming out of her nostrils and her teeth (sort of) bared.  I think dragon will be perfect.

Not from the most recent float, but also one of my top 5 favourite pictures of Jazz

Dragons would eat cats if the cats would stop squirming around for two seconds probably

Scary Dragon Breath

Beware of Fire Breath

I'm also assuming dragons can look into your soul with those eyes

So far my ideas are:

Rey's Red Dragon (my personal favourite right at this moment)
Red Dragon Jasmine
Dragon me down
Regency Red Dragon
Rio Red Dragon

mostly they're R words followed by Red Dragon. Any thoughts? Anything that stands out to anyone? Any more ideas? I'd love to hear some feedback!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Seventh Heaven

I've mentioned previously my affiliation with Pony Club.  For anyone not aware, Pony club exists as a way for young people to get involved with horses, learning to ride and trying out different events.  It provides affordable lessons and the structure and opportunity to advance to anyone who's interested.  There's also a competition called Quiz, which is basically a trivia event on all things horse with three parts.  The first is a written exam (aka the sucky part), the second is tack id (aka i know what this is called but the name isn't on here what the ****?), and the third is an assortment of games (aka how am I supposed to act out splint bone in charades? They just keep guessing leg???). There is a regional quiz held early in the year, and the top individual scores  qualify for the national team.

Anyhow, my regional quiz was back in April, and two friends from my club asked if I would be interested in being on a team with them. It sounded like fun, so they had me talked into it before I knew it. Completely unexpectedly, I found myself finishing fourth in individual in my division and third in team.  Unfortunately, my other team members didn't make the cut, but I quickly found myself whisked off and the senior team were telling me what to expect if I decided I wanted to come to nationals in the fall.

My summer was a lot of riding and otherwise getting ready.  My semi-disastrous testing from back in August was the last piece of the puzzle I needed to attend to to solidify my eligibility.  I bought a bunch of the required reading books off amazon and spent the latter half of the summer and any extra time I had around classes to study.

All that lead up to the big event thanksgiving weekend (Canadian thanksgiving weekend, in case my American friends are confused).  Since my region was hosting, the travel wasn't far, and we got to have 2 teams of 4 members each at the C level instead of just 1.

I arrived at the hotel just before dinner was starting on Friday night, and dropped my bags in my room.  I met one of my roommates, and we headed downstairs to dinner together.  Conversations were a bit stunted amongst the whole group at first, but everyone began to settle in, and I was re-introduced to some of the members I had met once or twice at regional events.  After dinner was line dancing and then everyone headed back to their rooms to regroup, where I met the other two members of my team.  All the members from my region headed upstairs to the senior team's room to cram for the written exam, and there were a lot of flashcards I didn't know the answer to and the official designation of our team's anthem.

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This one. Trust me, it grows on you.

We stayed up hanging out (and some studying) until curfew, and then headed off to bed for the night.  Breakfast began bright and early and then more cramming before the written exam started at 9:00 sharp.  As expected, it was super hard.  If you manage to get a passing grade on written at quiz, you're usually one of few.  There were 'local color questions' about Spruce Meadows, the Calgary Stampede, and the Pan Am games medalists which had very few survivors, but other than that most of the test went okay. I had basically no idea on the questions about the pony club rules of competition, but I did well on conformation terms and came out of written markings 19th overall out of 68 competitors.  My teammates were ranked 1st, 2nd, and 4th.

Lunch and more cramming, this time for tack id.  Tack ID is either a blessing or a curse depending on your experience, and what you have for study materials. Basically, there is a table of fifteen numbered items and a sheet with twenty object names.  At the C level (mine), you have to match ten objects with the appropriate blanks.  At the senior (A/B) level, you have to name all 15.  This category is deceptively difficult because pony club doesn't use the descriptive names (ex. instead of identifying a noseband as a figure-8, you're likely to have to know it as a grackle).  I personally love tack ID, because I have a slight obsession with weird tack. By far the worst table was types of carriages.  I managed to get the sulky and the trolley, which put me ahead of most people.  To say it was the unanimous least favourite table would be an understatement. You're given ten minutes at each table, and I think there were a total of 15 tables, so everyone was starving and exhausted by the time it was all over.

So, we all carted off to Saturday evening's entertainment.  about 150 people all crammed into an arena for beef on a bun dinner and a working cow horse demonstration.  First was reining, and then working a cow.  It's always interesting to see different disciplines, and it was a pretty fun evening.  The night ended more or less the same, with everyone in the region cramming into one hotel room and studying for games.

Bright and early Sunday was breakfast and then waiting for games to start.  As we waited, they posted the initial rankings for team, which are based on the combined individual scores for each team member. Our team was doing well, so going into the games we got to focus on just having fun.  My favourite game was called sculpt it, which was basically pictionary but you had to sculpt the answer out of kinetic sand.  Collectively, our team did really well, and we were feeling really good about our chances by the end of the day.

After lunch was our other outing, this time to the world famous Spruce Meadows.  I've been there before, but it was still fun to have our run of the international ring.  Most of the team, myself included, rolled down the derby bank. It's even steeper than it looks. I couldn't imagine riding a horse down it!

The infamous devil's dike

AB South in the Water Jump

Finally, it was time for everyone to get ready for the big awards banquet. Our region coordinated, so we all had red and black on. The dinner was the best one yet, and before I knew it, the awards were starting.

The placings were announced, starting with the A/B division individual.  Our region did really well, with a few placing in the ribbons! Then it was time for the individual C placings.  The ribbons started at tenth, and it wasn't a long wait before I found myself accepting the rosette for seventh place in individual.  I was thrilled (but not technically surprised, since I had found out when they posted the placings earlier, but I would have totally ruined the suspense of the blog post if I'd said so earlier)!

And I'm modest, too

My team also fared well, with my teammates placing fourth, second, and first! It was awesome to work with such brilliant team members! Plus, the other Alberta south C team placed sixth.

Finally, the announcements came for team, and my team came first! We all got keeper plaques, grooming bags, and of course, red ribbons.

They posted initial team rankings before games started, and since our team was all in the top ten individually, we were ahead of the second place by 25 points, which is not insignificant at quiz.  Most of the differences in individual rankings were by tenths or hundredths of points.  Individual points contributes to the team score, but games don't count towards individual. By the end of games, our team came out ahead of the second place team by 27 points.  It was an amazing experience, especially for my first trip to national Quiz.

After my whirlwind first national quiz experience, I have all you wonderful bloggers to thank. The big benefit of following and reading the blogs of so many of you wonderful people is that I hear all kinds of tidbits specific to the various disciplines you all represent.  I was one of the people who recognized the Tevis Cup as an endurance race rather than a flat race on the written thanks to people like Saiph, and I knew a liverpool bit, and a driving apron thanks to Andrea, and countless other little facts thanks to my continued obsession with reading everything y'all have to say.  But probably bigger than any other specific influence, I want to acknowledge the pure awesome that is the Braymere Custom Saddlery Blog and its insane amount of reference material.  A weird obsession with tiny plastic horses is a huge asset for any national quiz hopefuls reading this.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Horse Rescue

Apparently my blog is now only for me sharing adorable videos I find on facebook.  I do have an event from September I'm still hoping I will get to write about soon, and something else exciting this weekend, so I'll have to ask you all to just bear with me as I attempt to survive classes. Cheers!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

EXCLUSIVE: Controversy in the Rambo Factory.

Just thought I would share this breaking news story.  Unbelievable, hiring these new employees of such unknown backgrounds. 

Haha, just kidding. Just wanted to share a video that made me smile this morning :)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Why I Don't Ride

I am looking, as is becoming a familiar feeling to me, at a ridiculously busy next few months.  It feels like the last year and a half has been either me dreading the start of a busy time, or impatiently awaiting whatever time I think I'll next be able to finally catch my breath. It feels right now like this might be my life from now on.  Just running from one thing to another. One period of insanity to another too-short interim break.  I really understand why this is one of the most common times in their lives when people sell their horses.

I should pause a moment to say this, I AM NOT SELLING MY HORSE. I got her when she was 3 and I'm planning (and hoping) to have her the rest of her life. 

Speaking of, look at adorable baby Jazz from her sale photo!

So classes begin next week.  And I am looking at excruciatingly long days for months. I'll be lucky if I see the sun, much less the little red horse.  At this point, it also looks like I might not be taking any lessons until the New Year.  Hello, life of a weekend warrior (goodbye, sleek, fit summer Jazz). 

In addition to my schedule restraints, I have a serious motivation problem.  At no point am I at the farm with my horse, wishing I were at home watching Netflix, and yet it's disproportionately hard to get myself changed and out the door to go see my horse.  If I'm seeing my friends during the day with plans to ride  later in the evening, the odds are about 50/50 that I'll make it to the barn instead of going out for food with friends (where I'm sure to bore and confuse my city-dwelling friends by talking constantly about horses anyway).  There's also a semi-regular shuffle of which vehicle is the farm vehicle.  The idea of moving around the many boxes and bins and bags that are all somehow necessary to my equestrian pursuits is enough to delay my drive to get out of the house by at least half an hour.

Is it just me? I hate how I can't just get out and do the things I know I'll enjoy.  I hate it.  But it's hard to change. Lately by the time I made it out, the weather's been turning bad, and the visit gets cut short because the horse is miserable (and so am I, what month is this, November? It's ridiculous).

And just to twist the knife a little, this summer I finally got to see firsthand how Jazz improves under regular work.  I was taking two lessons a week, and riding (ideally) two to three times outside of that, and preparing for my (semi-disastrous) PC testing.  It was so great to see how Jazz was getting stronger and suppler, and I was improving and making a real difference.  And then I got a bad cold, complete with a cough so bad I couldn't be at the dusty barn for longer than fifteen minutes.  My summer with Jazz ended with me hardly even able to see her as I tried desperately to get better.  And now? I'm not even out until after 5PM on the days when my schedule is good. I'm driving twice as far as I'm used to almost every day, and I'm having a total pity party for myself over all of it.    It's enough to keep me from being excited about any of it right now.  Here's to keeping my head down till 2016, and counting my blessings in the meantime.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bonus post: New Helmet!

My most exciting birthday present (from nearly a month ago, oops) by far was a gift certificate to go and buy myself a new helmet.  Here's a couple of photos of it in action (aka me holding Jazz's reins since I never seem to remember to request photos while I'm actually doing anything).

Mmm Charles Owen. I'd better start wearing pearls... (X

This picture turned out really awkward of me, but pony is extra cute.