Friday, December 19, 2014

Wheeeeeeeee!




Let me try this again with photos...





Saturday, December 13, 2014

Obstacles

ADS doesn't so much like calling them Hazards anymore, since Hazards leads you to think it could be Hazardous. It's probably something to do with the insurance... lol

Obstacles were the same for both days too. It was easier since you seemed to get a Do-Over if you had competed the day before. You also may have seen someone else take a different route thru the gates and tried it their way, shaving time off your score. Or you drove it once, figured out a better way and tried it, improving your time in the hazard. It also gave your pony a chance to go thru things without being afraid of decorations in the hazards. All of which worked in our favor and thankfully things went smoother for us the second time around.

Obstacle 1 was barrels decorated like Easter eggs with stuffed bunnies sitting on top of them. Straight in to make a right  by the wall and go thru Athen back across the paddock to make a left and go thru B. You could either slow down and make a U-turn to the right then another U-turn to the left to go thru C, or you could circle around B on the left and line up for C. Saturday we did the U-turns, Sunday we did the circles. Coming out of C you make a U-turn to the right and head thru D that was behind you. Doing this put your horse on the right lead and you could go thru D and veer right to go back thru the Out gate.  Don't forget to thank the volunteers on your way out!

Obstacle 2 was back in the corner and decorated for Halloween. Kat wanted NO part of it. Huge tree trunks with shiny banner letters strung between them. High enough horses could go under them, but still... bird cages with fake rats in them, a scarecrow and several other things I don't remember- it was all enough to keep the little guy on his toes. He reluctantly went into the Hazard. Kat did well enough, but he wasn't to thrilled with the idea of this hazard. Coming OUT of the hazard? He was all for it!

Saturday I had talked to Jim (cones course designer and judge) briefly before going on course for the Hazards. He was talking to Paul Sidwell who had judged Dressage. I had asked him if anyone else had destroyed the course the way we did? Not even close! Well as it happened, Jim and Paul were still talking when Kat and I came GALLOPING out of #1 headed to #2 and were standing by watching as we came FLYING out of #2 headed to #3. Paul asked Jim- "Are those two always like that?" Jim replied- "Only when she's driving!" and they had a good laugh over it.

Obstacle 3 was a little trickier. It was up by the front gate and decorated for Christmas. There were 4x4 wooden posts in the ground, wrapped with sparkly red garland to look like candy canes.  Gates A & B were in these poles and on Saturday as we came thru A and circled around to go thru B, Kat and I had a conflict of interest on where we would go thru the posts. I figured we would go between these two and he decided to go between the posts before it.

Kat came Reeeeeaaaaallllllyyyy close to taking a header on one of the posts. Dang near smacked into it with his forehead!  As it was, he stopped with his head and neck turned to the right and the post between him and the shaft at his left shoulder. We were within inches of taking it down. Typical! Hahaha  We backed up a few steps sorted things out and continued on. Gates C and D were no problem after that. Sunday Kat was more than willing to let me make the call on those poles although for the most part, we had very little to no right turns.  Both days we came galloping out of hazard, full bore.

Obstacle 4 was behind the one barn and decorated for Thanksgiving. There were turkeys all over the huge tree stumps, more glittery letters in hanging banners and Kat had no problem with these. We would come galloping in make our way to the far end and a hard right between two huge stumps going thru them for A. Continuing the turn to go thru B that is behind us, going up past it on the left and making a U-turn to come back thru it and down and around for C which is in front of us but needs to be taken in the direction of coming back towards where we are. Gate D was back up behind B and again, coming thru the same direction we went thru B. It was a sort of ribbon candy effect with all of the back and forth, circling around, but at least coming out of D you were headed right for the out gate and Kat fired hard both times, galloping thru it with no problems.

As usual, walking back to the barn and passing several others who had yet to go, already gone or were between obstacles, everyone was buzzing about how fun it was and "Can we do it again?" Sometimes it just doesn't feel like 4 Hazards are enough. Maybe it's because we aren't the ones pulling the cart or carriage. There are a few of the horses that really enjoy it, Kat obviously being one of them I know when he's feeling good and running full bore, I have to admit, that's an awesome feeling and it's about as close as I'll ever get to being on him for it.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Cones

Kat was ready for this one and so was I. We both look forward to cones as is gives him a chance to just tear around like mad and I can't say I'm opposed to the speed aspect of it either. Now that I know he can run like that, has the speed he's got and I'm comfortable with it... I'm diggin' it!


Jim met us at the gate and informed me he had nobody to reset the balls so I was not allowed to knock any down. I responded with how I thought it was a matter of knocking down as many as possible and we had a good laugh over it. I think he gave me a look of (You'd better not!) for that one, but it was hard to tell between Kat getting revved up and Jim getting back to the truck to time us.  There were a couple of volunteers on course to reset balls, but I let Jim know I would call out which ones came down as we plowed our way thru the course.


NUMBER 6 IS DOWN!!!  THERE GOES NUMBER 8!   TWELVE!  FOURTEEN!  And so on for the duration of the course. We had 6 balls down by the time the dust finally settled. It was a Helluva rush doing the course. Although there were people saying they watched us but couldn't see much because of the vapor trails... we weren't the fastest on course for the day. There were a few others who were not only faster, but had gone double clear as well. Not our best performance, by any means.


What was really fun about it though, was the fact that about half way thru the course I found myself standing up on the outer rails of the cart as I shifted my weight back and forth over the wheels as we turned, trying to keep them both on the ground. Not only was I standing in the cart, but I also found myself leaning way out over the inside wheel as we slid sideways thru the turns as well. I probably ate a fair amount of dirt doing cones. WICKED FUN!


Sunday was an improvement, both on our time and leaving the balls up. We went faster though it didn't feel like it and we only took down 3 balls this time. I said it was an improvement, not that we were perfect... lol  Again I was standing on the rails of the cart, sliding it around the corners, dirt flying, pony galloping and me encouraging him.  He was tired from the day before and although he did break down to a trot a couple of times for a couple of strides, he put his best effort out there and gave it his all.    


Afterwards, Jim made a suggestion to what type of cart I needed for cones. Not so much a cart, but he said I need a Chariot. That way I'm standing in it the whole time anyways. My friend Cheryl has a HyperBike which is similar to a racing sulky. I can only imagine we would be a lot faster with one of those. Apparently they are working on longer shafts and a stitch taller bike, more for the B mini's, but something that would likely fit my pony.  Oooooh banish the thought.... 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dressage scores

Saturdays ATD was judged by British World Champion Driver/Clinician, Paul Sidwell. Our judge for Sunday was Rachael High, who was the same judge for our ADT in Coolidge the end of March.

Our dressage test for both days was Prelim 4

Since thee were two judges and the same test, I will put a P for Paul's scores and R for Rachael's. (My comments in parenthesis)

P- 6. Nice turn down C-LN Little wandering at X (he did)
R- 6 Some fussing in connection

P- 6 Little above bridle at M
R- 6 Slight head wag/counter wag

P- 7 Better paces shown
R- 6.5 straight, round, abrupt turn at F

P- 4 Nice O driven but break of pace before X (he cantered a few strides...)
R- 7 Slight counter bend

P- 7 Little late on the trans at D, good walk shown
R- 6.5 Wants to jigg. Unsteady connection (I don't remember him jigging, but he was pretty pooped)

P- 8 Good length shown (YAY!!!)
R- 7.5 Active walk. Clear stretch shown (I didn't push for his best walk and it didn't feel as good as the previous days walk. Still not a bad score and I'm Not complaining)

P- 7 Nicely driven shapes. Good reg w/trot shown.
R- 7 Right shoulder falling in on 2nd loop

P- 5 Break of pace before X, nice length shown
R- 7 Head wagging slightly but clear lengthening (apparently she either didn't see it or at least mark us down for the last few strides when he cantered)

P- 6 Good turn on C-LN little early on halt
R- 6.5 Slow to settle in halt

P- 7 Rein back nice
R- 6.5 Some stickiness in rein back

P- 7 Nice straight C-LN good halt at G but with a little resistance
R- 6 Head wagging


Collective Scores
Gaits-
P- 7 Nice freedom of movement and active working trot
R- 7

Impulsion-
P- 6 Plenty of Imp shown, sometimes a little too much (Always better than not having enough!)
R- 7

Submission-
P- 5 showing signs of res w/ mouth opening when contact is applied.
R- 6.5 too much head wagging. Needs steadier connection

Driver- P- 7 Nicely driven test
R 7 arrow to comment above >>> too much head wagging. Needs steadier connection


The scores under Paul are awesome to me even though it was a tad higher than the score on Sunday. I was glad to have done so well after both of us having so much time off and especially after having bombed out at the last ADT in Prescott. Although the score of a 4 for our circle and the comment about it being so good didn't make sense to me. Gary explained to me later that normally breaking gait like that might have gotten a score of a 3 or even a 2. Paul was being generous in giving us a 4 for it, or the circles were that good that they made up for the break in gait. So it could have been worse...

The lower scores per movement on Sunday under Rachael are nothing to sneeze at either. His dropping his shoulder in the serpentine, the head wagging and loss of connection were all signs of a tired pony as described by my friend who has been giving me pointers. She was mighty damn impressed with the scores for our lengthened walk as she has always stressed this one to me and thankfully we finally caught on! Comparing our score on Sunday to those under the same judge back in March, much Improvement was made! We went from a 58.25 to a 48.97 which is a drop of 9.28 points. Now remember, in driving you are looking for the lowest scores. So to make an improvement like that? Wahoo!!!!

Another thing worthy of mentioning is that way back at the beginning while at our first CDE, it was mentioned to me by a few different people that someone else had told them, they had trained my pony. Um, yeah. When confronted about this, their response was, "That's bullshit. Total bullshit." I agree. It is bullshit! I haven't worked with a trainer with Kat, other than getting a few pointers here and there from Gary, via photos and half assed descriptions in emails of what I thought I needed to work on. If it were true that someone else had done the work and trained my pony for me, why then are we still holding our own in dressage at the ADT's? Taking into account that we've also moved up a level and don't have a lot of time to put into training, (mostly our work consists of a LOT of long trotting on the trails for conditioning purposes) sure we are still getting our asses kicked by a couple other people, but our dressage scores aren't usually far off from theirs, so I have no complaints.

I'm still excited to see how far Kat and I take it. Shoot we've already gone from being total newbies in the sport and not having a clue starting out, to having done 2 CDE's placing 4th and then 3rd respectively and gotten Res. CH in the ADT series our first year out in the *Green Driver* class. Then we skipped pretty much everything last year, came back moving up to prelim and done well enough so far. We need to work on some things and I will be posting more about that later, but things can only get better from here. I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ADT #6 & ADT #7

I haven't said much about getting Kat going, but for a change we got to compete over the weekend. It was fun to be able to get out there and give it a go again and since the ADT's were back to back it kept costs minimal. We were and still are in 3rd place in the year end standings, this just helped make it stick. We placed 4th both days, thru some error or another, but for the most part we had fun. Our scores under both judges were respectable and probably the best we have gotten so far. All things considered, how can I not be thrilled about that?

Over the weekend I had one of those A-HA! moments with my pony. You know when the light comes on and you finally 'get it' in relation to something that you're doing or not doing. That's when you know what changes need to be made and from here on out, it is going to make a HUGE difference in how things are going.

I was also complimented and congratulated on gelding him. And let me tell you... he was so much BETTER to deal with the whole time. There was not one mark on our dressage scores about him 'calling' and I think all totaled, he whinnied maybe 3 times over the two days. Big change there, BIG CHANGE!

As for the Katman, he's going strong. We have a play date to take a friend of mine out for a drive next weekend and then the following weekend is the Darby and Christmas party in Coolidge. We've also been invited to go caroling with a group from the driving club, but I'm not sure if we will be able to make it but it sounds like fun...

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My pony Rocks!!!

But you all know that. Right??? lol

Something happened a while back that I have forgotten to mention. My pony has such a good mind about him and handles so much with no problem, but this just clearly shows it. If you've been following the posts on my blogs for any amount of time and seen how far we've come, you might have an idea of what he's like to deal with. Those who have met him in person, can attest to his willing and honest personality. This was one of those moments however, that leaves you just shaking your head and smiling, proud of your equine partner in so many ways.

Since moving the horses, Kat has had a sort of makeshift shade on his stall. It consists of some poles, clips and tarps as long as they last. Now we have all seen the different trainers and clinicians working with horses to overcome their fear of tarps, getting the horse to step on them, then walk over them, allow the tarp to be draped on them and for the horse to accept the tarp calmly without fuss. My little Katman could make them all look like fools.

Kat has always had an easygoing nature about him. He takes things in stride and doesn't often get spooked by things. Certainly not to the point of bolting and taking off or anything. Sure he will stop and look at things he's not too sure about, but he doesn't let it freak him out to the point of going crazy over stuff.

The tarp I had over Aruba's pen was moved to be used as a shade over Kat's pen after I moved panels around, reconfigured things and changed it all up to where the mares shared a shade. It was a lot of work, but well worth it. The tarp was getting to be in sorry shape from the sun beating down on it and the wind blowing it around. It needed to be replaced so I started to take it down. Kat was still in the stall and as the tarp came down, it covered him completely. He was standing up against the rail and the tarp was draped over him and it both.

He never moved. Instead he just stood there, calm and still as could be, unfazed in the least. I went around to the back of the stall on the outside and started to pull the tarp out and off of my pony. Still he stood there without moving. No excitement, no wild eyed looks, just sighed at me as if to say- whatever...

I did pull him out of the stall while I put a new tarp up. He was tied to the rail along the front so he could munch on the grass under his little tree. The whole time I was moving the tarp, unfolding it, spreading it out, tying it up and doing things a good number of horses may be bothered by, Kat just munched on the grass and looked up at me standing on the rails without so much as a care. Any wonder why I have never been disappointed with him?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sweet!!!

I pulled Kat out over the weekend and took him for a spin around the block. We logged about a mile and a half, mostly at a brisk trot and he did AWESOME! We walked out and down to the end of the street before we hit go, when Kat trotted on as smooth as can be. He was a little slow on the way out, but kept a steady pace for the most part and it was absolutely wonderful. Ponyman never fails to disappoint in this category. He has gotten to the point where I can just pull him out, harness him up and GO! We also found some residual puddles and blasted thru them too. He's getting to be a point and shoot pony and I'm loving him for it, all that much more.

I brought out the good harness since the other one got wet and molded in the box from the last rain. I am in the process of cleaning it up and oiling the hell out of it, because it is still a decent harness, it just got soaking wet. Apparently the lid of the container leaked and it was in standing water for a couple of days before I found it. Time for a new container, but otherwise no major loss. This is why my good harness stays home in the house unless for use.

With the new marathon shafts I did have to move the tugs up a few holes on the harness, but otherwise everything was all set and we're good to go. It will be interesting to see if Kat can maneuver better in the cones now because of the changes. The shafts now sit back more by the harness saddle, rather than coming all the way up by his shoulder and everything so far is working in his favor.

One thing I did notice on our drive was a LOT more clinking and jingling. It seems that with the new shafts, the cart is Finally BALANCED like it should have been all along. The shafts now float in the tugs instead of resting in them. This is a big deal and a huge difference for the horse. With the shafts resting IN the tugs, there is weight on the harness saddle and essentially on his back. With the cart balanced and the shafts floating in the tugs- the weight is all on the axle and the cart where it belongs. No weight on their back for horse to carry means they have an easier time of pulling the cart as all of their energy goes only towards that.

I didn't get any pic's, because I didn't have any pockets to keep my phone in. Instead it was stuffed in the boot of my passenger. Katman was a rockin' it in his usual way and seemed happy to be out and about. I let him walk a little ways and then asked him to pick up the trot on the way home. He was trucking along in his easy going working trot and before long we were back at the house. Little guy worked up a sweat and needed a rinse and as an appreciation for his effort he got turned out. Of course he rolled! He was also covered head to tail in dirt. As long as he's a happy pony, it doesn't bother me. GRINS