Monday, December 17, 2012

Finish & Start

While the year is over as far as competing goes, it is also in full swing. If that is supposed to make any sense?  We have finished the year and all the scores have been tallied, prizes handed out and the party over and done. Since our weather rocks this time of year- we are still working towards getting ready for next season.

Kicking off in January is our first ADT of the series. I have already paid our membership for next year and am eagerly awaiting to see how we do since we have to move up. Our scores in dressage, the hazards and cones have been pretty much right in the middle of the pack for last years TL ponies. But since every show, every judge and sometimes every day is different- we could have a stellar, average or abismal year ahead of us. We just have to do our best and see how it plays out.

At the moment I am still searching for the perfect bit. The right one will make a big difference, or at least a better one will be an improvement. Looking at the photos from the Darby, I am not liking what seems to be a strong hold and what felt like at times a strong horse. Since Kat was going to be running, I went with the butterfly. I can usually signal him with the lightest of cues, feathering the reins with my little finger. Since driving can be the same as riding- your cues should be light and subtle. Sometimes I feel the butterfly is a bit too much.

On the other hand we have the snaffle. While he should be quiet and soft enough to work in that, be it at home or away- his mind slips out of his head at times and any kind of control can be a pipe dream. In long lines he is great in the snaffle. Driving in it can be iffy on a few levels. I am looking for something in between.

Part of the problem is also me. I can be heavy handed when he is being a twit and although I thought I was being light with the reins on course at the Darby- the photos show a different story.  My rein length is good at times, while at others, he is gaping at the mouth and being a bit too forward. Sometimes he was also being a little hesitant to slow down, while others he was racing along like a Crazy Pony!

It is all a matter of what is going on at the moment and when, but where he is bieng a bit forward and charging on, while gaping at the mouth- he should be slowing down some and have his mouth closed- accepting the tugs as cues and responding accordingly.  Seems we have some walking exercises ahead of us and will be working for a while at bringing it all back under control before we can reasonably move on. To read: Back into long lines and back to walking only- as if we were starting out again.  

Friday, December 7, 2012


As we headed into the area where the course was laid out, Katman needed very little prompting to take off and hit it! I kissed to him and off we went at a lovely canter.  My daughter Robin was my (willing subject/crash test dummy) 'gator for our maiden voyage in comptetition allowing the pony to run.  As he took off this time she said, "It's a lot smoother ride when he runs than it is when he is trotting."

Each time we lined up for the gates of an obstacle or cones, Kat brought it down to a trot on his own. Apparently he has things under control as well.  We whipped around and around in the Kokopelli pipes going through gates 1-4 pretty quick. 

*Photo credit goes to Jessie & Craig Zamboni*

Here we are coming thru gate 1 and Kat is giving the stink eye to the piece of foam laying on the ground on his right. This is supposed to be capping off the end of the one pipe.

We cantered to cones 5-8, trotting through them and followed by an exuberant burst of speed across the short space to the Poles for gates 9-12.  Number 9 and 10 were aligned perfectly so we could take it at an angle and go straight through them both. We circled around a pole to get to 11, circled around again to get through 12, a short canter to the cones for 13-16... 

another canter off to the gate going out of this area to the area with the Covered Wagons hazard for gates 17-20. At this point we had to go up the slight hill back through the gate and across the field to the middle and the start finish line. Once we were clear of gate 20, Kat took off again with very little urging on my part. He was cooking along at a nice canter going up the hill and through the gate.

As we came along the fenceline there was a person standing there helping to judge the course, reset the cones and balls as needed. I decided to cut loose and have a little fun. Why not? I put my reins in my left hand, leaned forward a bit, put my right hand and whip up and out and said "Charge!"  Pretty much everyone heard it and we all had a good laugh.

Kat responded by kicking it up a few notches and really letting go. He started to gallop pretty strongly forward and we were blasting across the grass. It was amazing and so much FUN

And as always, all good things must come to an end. We made the turn heading towards the finish line and I was slowing Kat down. I didn't want him blasting through the finish line, straight through the gate and out into the 'holding area' where everyone else was at. I managed to slow him down, circle around to the right and bring him back down to a walk before leaving the course.
Peter Atonna, our timer and club president joked that as we brought it down to mach 10 and left the arena the last entry would be ready to go.  At the awards banquet it was announced that I had not only won the event for the division, for which we were awarded a cake, but I had the second fastest time on course behind one of the mini entries.  Yeah, we were tearing it up!
For the ADT series we also placed second with Reserve Champion. We were awarded an organizer that fastens to the stall front with two huge pouches on it. Inside the top one is several pockets for brushes, fly spray, etc. The bottom pocket is huge and has room for storing blankets, sheets and in Kat's case a lot of stuff!
Something else was also mentioned that I hadn't thought of. Of the entries for TP-GD (Training Pony Green Driver) I also had the best dressage score average with a 54 or 57 point something or other. I didn't catch the number and haven't found it online anywhere... I had focused on the year end points that I hadn't even thought about our dressage scores other than how they compared to the next level up. This was a pleasant and unexpected surprise.  
Our first ADT for next year is January 26th in Coolidge again. The Goree family is generous in hosting it and the CDE in March. Both events promise to be a lot of FUN! Although there is no galloping or even cantering allowed in training level or prelim, Kat and I will be working on that as well as something else a couple of club members and I had casually discussed that sounds like a wicked amount of fun.  Besides, I was reading online on some of the ridden dressage blogs/forums about their 'disastrous' training level scores for horses who went on to later be PSG and upper level mounts. Some horses seem to really flourish as the work becomes more intensive. I am thinking Kat is one of them.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Ready, Set...

Despite my friend Sharan advising me all along about making Kat walk when he gets amped, make him walk when he wants to speed up, make him work when he is whinnying and being obnoxious about it, I entered the Darby at Expert Level. For the Darbys there is two levels of competition, Training and Expert. Training you canot go faster than a trot, expert you are allowed to canter and gallop as you may. Bear in mind safety is at the top of the list (ALWAYS!) but if your horse can handle the speed, go for it. Boy did we ever!

I am trying to get the course map downloaded and posted here. For the most part it was stretched out over a bit of ground covering 3 hazards with two sets of cones in between. You entered in the center and worked your way from left to right, coming back to the middle where you would exit through the start finish at the center again. It was a hazard with four gates (1-4) to the far left, a set of four cones (5-8), the start finish in the middle another hazard with 4 gates (9-12) to the right, another set of four cones (13-16) then you went out a gate into another section of grass area for the last hazard and gates 17-20. After clearing gate 20, you head back through the gate and along the backside of the course to the middle and the start finish line. 

Before we were on course, ponyman had already a group of followers. I heard a few of them saying things like- "I am waiting to watch Him go", "I wanna see Him do this", "He Looks like he wants this" and a few other things. He was content to stand around waiting, would walk back and forth outside the fence in the holding area, but he was warmed up, quiet, locked. loaded. and definitely ready for action. As it was we were the next to last pony to be on course so there was a bit of waiting around for us and his fans. 

We milled around to keep his muscles loosened up, but would stop and stand, waiting our turn. Kat was quiet, settled and alert, watching the minis and ponies before us each taking their turn. When we were finally called, we waited for the previous pony to clear the gate and headed in...