Monday, August 29, 2011

Some days...

So everyone knows my driving time is limited and we need to make things count. Part of which is getting Kat ready for the CDE in Sonoita in October. The marathon course is between 8-12km or roughly 5-7.5 miles...  The Darby course in Paulden was only about 1km and there were times I felt him start to slightly putter out.  If we are going to give it a shot, I want us both to be ready for it and in shape to do the job.
When we were in Coolidge watching the CDE last March, there was a horse on course that the TD (Technical Delegate) 'waved off'. The horse was visibly, thoroughly 'spent'. S/He had no more to give, but kept trying anyways, as we all know horses will do.  Then and there, I vowed if only to myself- I NEVER want to be That horse!  I hope I have the knowledge of my horse or ponys' fitness level that nobody Ever has to step in and tell me to stop and go back to the barns. 

Last weekend I got up early and headed out on Sunday morning. This weekend I tried for both days. What was I thinking?  Saturday mornings are not a good time for this. Not with a fresh newbie.  We worked out back a little before heading out this time. I let him go into his trot and burn off some steam before we headed down the driveway.

We got part way down the street and here comes a woman on a horse. Not knowing how her horse would react, I stopped Kat before they got too close, dismounted the cart and stood by his head, where I waited as they approached and went on by.  I didn't need to set her horse off, possibly get her dumped and as a reaction set Kat off too.  We're still working on some things, I just really don't need the excitement.

We reached the end of the street and made the corner.  About the same time we did, the garbage truck did too and was headed right at us. Insert swearing here.  I stopped Kat, got out and stood by his head again.  Garbage truck went by, he could care less- the driver (and Kat) so I hopped back in and we were on our way.  Again the sprinklers were on and there was a mud puddle. And Kat refused to go in it. Again. Another day little man, another day.  Cars were coming and we needed to move on. 

We got around the corner, down the street and were about halfway through our trip, when I looked up and seen the garbage truck coming our way again. CRAP! So I pushed Kat to walk on, speed things up a little and hoped we would make the next street and be able to turn- getting out of the path of the garbage truck.  No such luck and it seems like he is speeding up too. WTH? Really? Are you freakin kidding me???  I reached the corner as the garbage truck was fast approaching. There is an irrigation ditch- with water in it (that Kat heard and wasn't happy about) so again, I decided to stop and get out of the cart. Better safe than sorry.

It seems the garbage truck route has them turning down the same street I was hoping to 'escape' on.  Awesome? Hahaha, NOT!  I was kinda glad the truck got around the corner before us. No big deal, right? I hopped back into the cart, we were off again and made the corner- this time following the garbage man. We also made the corner in time to get off the road as a car was coming from behind us... Then they too made the corner and pulled up next to us.

My eyes were rolling and I was thinking, WTH is the deal today?!?! What is it with traffic?  Note to self- Saturday mornings we need to go somewhere waaaaaay out in the desert where we have no distractions...

Back to the guy in the car, he has 3 little girls with him and he has a cart at home. He was wondering if I may be interested in buying it? I laughed a little when admitting, "I have four carts at home and only this one pony so far, that drives." He is asking a low price so I figure what does it hurt to look? Gave him directions to our house and off he went. As he left who do you think made the corner, heading our way yet AGAIN?

You bet. It was the damn garbage truck. I was giving him the stink eye too. I was not thrilled to see him and after crossing our path twice already and me getting out of the cart, I think the driver realized, (hopefully he was smart enough) my concern for the trucks size, the noise and everything that could go wrong. 

I figured screw it. Kat has been unfazed so far so I just let him keep walking towards home.  As the driver got closer the truck made some noise almost like he had hit the Jake brake or something. Kat was fine. He just kept on walking like a real trooper.  I gave the driver another glare- through my sunglasses of course.  Forgot I had them on and he couldn't see me too well.

It didn't bother Kat that another neighbor drove his truck past us coming up from behind, or that our neighbor at the end of the street was riding his horse at a jog, came from behind us and went on past, jogging along on the other side of the street... Kat just kept on walking as I breathed a few big sighs of relief that he was so good about it all.  We went around the arena a few times after getting back and quit there. He was still a little fresh, but relaxed and happy to stop. It's good to know my pony handled it all so well and maybe a bit better than I did.   :)  Now we just have to work on our distances.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Nobody is perfect...

That includes Kat and I. We all strive for perfection and ride or drive the horse we have at any given event on that particular day. We ask for everything they've got, take what we can get and go home thinking "Okay we need to work on this, here is where we can improve" and consider what we need to do.  We set our goals, check our calendar dates and shoot for the best.

So what do Kat and I need to work on? 

Well water hazards would be one at the top of the list. How is he ever going to be competitive if he won't get in the damned water? The shortest, quickest route through the gates is usually- through the water. The few seconds it takes to go around- could cost you dearly in matters of tough competitions.  Sometimes there is NO going around...

Another thing we need to work on- slowing things down. I put him to the cart on Sunday to go out through the neighborhood. He is easily bored going around and around in the arena, behaved at the competition in wide open spaces, so it's time to move things along and start going out.

I let him stand for a bit and asked him to wait until I was ready to go. Which he wasn't thrilled about. He kept creeping. One step, another step, creep, creep, creep... which was annoying to me too. Creep, creep, creep, creep, creep...  The more you creep, the longer we have to wait.  Finally I got into the cart and still the creeping. Walked to the gate, stop, get out to open the gate- more creeping. Anyone remember back to the show in September last year? He kept creeping on me in the class? It's become a habit of his and it needs to stop.

To him, when I get in the cart it is 'Go Time!'  Admittedly, I tend to think so too. But Sunday I had to slow it down for both of us. Some days when we go out, it will not be safe to just go through the gate and pick up a trot. When you reach the stop sign and crossroads, there may be traffic coming.  There will be times when your horse needs to stop and stand still, not be fussy and fidgety. 

As much as I wanted to just let him pick up the trot, burn off some steam and then settle down to work or just walk, I too had to fight that urge and slow things down.  We managed to log about a mile and a half as we walked to the end of the street, around the corner to the next small street and head back, but with horses on one side or the other, new things to look at and all kinds of stuff to see, Kat was a bit wound.  He settled down and really walked out a few times and when we hit the driveway coming home- he sort of deflated and let it all go.  No need to impress anyone anymore...

A few times he started to try to pick up the pace a bit and met with having to stop altogether, wait until you relax and sigh, then walk on. It was tough for both of us, but something we have to do now and then. Slow down and take a look around us. Appreciate the quietness of an early Sunday morning drive.  Even if all we do is go out for a long walk.

Upcoming dates:
Sept 10th, ADT - Paulden
Sept 11th, Schooling show with two driving classes, QC
October 8th, Schooling show - QC 
October 8th, ADT - Prescott
October 21-23rd, Grass Ridge CDE, Sonoita *  

*Entries for the CDE open Aug. 26th and close Sept. 22nd.  The marathon course is 12 km or roughly 7.5 miles. Entries are first come-first serve. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Do you ride like that too?

In my last post I asked for everyone to comment about what they seen me doing wrong. Although nobody claims to know much or anything about driving, several of you seen it, but just weren't too sure about it. I have the reins looped over my finger, then back down through my hands...

Usually I use the rest of my fingers to 'tickle' the reins, to signal for turns. Small tugs on one or the other. This is fine for some things and not others. Gary (in the background of the first photo) came back to the trailer and pointed this out. He showed me two ways I should correctly hold the reins and how and why either one is better (than what I was doing) and for which type of competitions.  Then he asked if I hold the reins that way when I ride? 

"Ummmm, nooooooo.... So then I'm guessing you don't do it when you drive either?" Yay me!  LOL!  Brilliant huh? 

Holding the reins the way I am in the photos, makes sliding your hands up or down- shortening or loosening- difficult. What happens is, as Fern and Indigo pointed out- my hands are up high, way over this way or that, essentially trying to take up slack in order to turn or stop. As Cattypex asked- your hands should be low and 'quiet'.  What else happened because my hands were all over the place? You tend to forget about the rest of the length of the whip. You aren't thinking about that and I know I wasn't.  I think I may have whacked my passenger/groom with the end of it a few times by accident. 

Since this was a Darby and you are 'judged' only on speed, we weren't expecting a lot and made big wide sweeping turns, it wasn't such a big deal. Had this been a pleasure class or reinsmanship which is similar to equitation??? Hahaha I would have bombed it in a BIG way! 

In the one photo I also noticed I am leaning, trying to help him around the turn. I have dropped my shoulder and he has too. This is a bad habit of mine that I have when riding too and obviously it carries over. What is it about the reins that 'transmitts' that, even when you aren't sitting on them???  

I have also added a page at the top of "Things I Use". There you will find the links to the websites and products, such as his protective boots, the harness, etc. that we use to work and compete. I opened up the comments there as well, so if anyone has any questions about anything, all you have to do is ask...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Let's have some fun

Here are the photos from the Darby over the weekend. In the first one we are headed through cone #2.

Here we are headed through cone #18...

And here we are headed through gate A of obstacle #20---> the water hazard....

The course was just about 1 km in length. There were four obstacles #1, #6, #11 and #20, with 3 gates A, B & C, everything else was cones. Knocking a ball down off the cone is a 10 second penalty. You are judged on speed, but also precision since you don't want to knock any balls down.

So there are the pictures and here is the fun part. Tell me what you see me doing wrong?  Each picture has at least one or two things that I know of. You can click on them to enlarge them too.  

Please try to keep it down to a loud roar!  It's supposed to be fun, remember?

Monday, August 15, 2011


Sorry for making everyone wait....  The Darby was a lot of fun. I received the pic's in my inbox and will be posting them with all the info about the event. Right now I am sunburned, tired and there was a full moon out the past few nights.

When we got to the restaurant for dinner on Saturday night, the guy took one look at us and asked, "Two seniors?"  Watch it mister! He's lucky I was too tired to really say much, so if I am a little cranky, now you know why.  Need I say more? 

Kat did really well and I am proud of him. I got a few pointers on what I need to work on, (all me!) and we met a great group of people.  I will post what I can as soon as I can. For now though- I love my pony! He Rocks! 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ready, set.....

Holy Crap! The Darby is still a week away and there is still a lot to do.  A lot of things have come together and a lot of them are still in the works.  Wouldn't ya know it?
Needed to get some paperwork straightened out, a trip to the store to pick up some stuff and come home to sorta make a list and jeez, there is still a lot needed and needing to be done...  What to do, what to do???? 

Harness up and go for a drive. Check to make sure the traces, the shafts and all the adjustments that were made- are going to actually work...  The shafts are excellent. The cart rides a little differently, but with the new harness- Kat's job is a LOT easier!  The shafts are also a tad wider, giving him more room to bend and move between them without them jabbing him in the ribs. His pivots and turns- much cleaner! Although he did get frustrated and threw in a small rear last night, a grumble at him and stopping for a minute to regroup- life was good again. 

The traces, the tugs and a couple of the straps all needed two more holes added. Perfect. The shafts got a quick coat of paint where they had been adjusted... And for all of the preparation that goes into these things, although we all want to go in, win big and leave them wondering what happened- I admit, it would be fun!- I don't expect that to happen.  If we walk part of the course, we walk part of the course.

Kat has done a lot since April when I first put him to the cart. He has come a long, long way.  And back when everyone was comparing him to Totillas from the WEG on the other blog, if that were to happen with him, I am not selling my pony, ever!   Somebody wants my pony they get us both and the whole family too. 

At least until he blows up again and I get hurt...


He's a keeper. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Falling into place

Since I am feeling rather ambitious today, I will post here as well.  Things are slowly coming together and I for one can really appreciate that.

Remember back when Kat had his meltdown at the park, part of the harness broke and it all turned to crap? Well I had ordered my new harness and everything pretty much fit except the traces. They were about a foot too long. Since the cart shafts were a tad too short, I figured I would address that first, then deal with fitting the traces to the pony.

Our neighbor is a welder and we dropped the cart off with him last weekend. I only seem to have weekends to work the little man, we got our workout in and so sending the cart off for adjustments was no problem since it would be sitting around during the week anyways...

Yesterday on the way home from work I was thinking. I didn't know when to expect my cart back. I needed to call and inquire about it...  when I went out back to feed- there it was waiting for me. Wahoo! I called the neighbor, thanked him for the work, let him know I won't get to try it until this weekend to see that the adjustments are going to work, but let me know what I owe and I will get him paid.

Before sending the cart off, I put the harness on Kat again to check everything, measure everything and make sure it was all going to work.  The tugs needed to come down a bit- 2 holes punched on either side, and since the tugs were now lower and where they needed to be, the straps that keep the shafts down and secured from flipping up also needed a couple extra holes in them as well.   Hopefully everything is right where it needs to be now.  The holes have been punched, the harness oiled again...

Then Kat go his first pair of shoes on the fronts this morning and I am hoping we are ready for the Darby next weekend.  There is no cantering allowed for training level and he needs to learn to carry two people in the cart before then, so it will be interesting to see how things go between now and then. 

For those wondering, a Darby is sort of like the CDE's only there is no dressage portion. From the ADCS website-

"A Darby is a short competition featuring cones and hazards in a continuous course, driven just for the times. No fancy dress, no dressage test, just seeing how well you can get through a series of short cones setups and through three sets of gates in a couple of hazards. There is a single setting for cones, one for minis and another for everybody else. We will make you work a bit, however, as the idea is to split the group in half, with the first going through the course while the folks in the second man the scoring and judging, then reversing the process. If you haven't done one before, don't worry, we'll show you how it is done that morning. After all, this is for fun and even after it is all over, you are welcome to go back through the course to see how much better you can do the second time."

So much for his first outing being a simple pleasure class, going around the ring.  He's pretty bored with that though so this may make him appreciate the simple stuff a little more.  The weather is supposed to be cooler up there too. How awesome is that?