Friday, March 29, 2013

And on the 3rd day

After the marathon portion on Saturday I had to hose everything down. Silly me, I unhooked Kat and after removing the harness- took him over to hose him off. Then I took the cart over to hose it off and afterwards wiped down the harness to get the mud off of it too.  I should have just hosed it all off at once. It would have been much easier.

Sunday morning was fun getting the horse trailer in with all of the mud. The two main driveways were nice and firm with good traction, but getting from one to the other was the issue. I had it in 4WD and gunned it, holding my foot steady and not letting up for nothin'. The biggest mistake a lot of people made was going too slow and then stopping and then of course they were stuck. As it was- I did manage to slide my truck sideways a bit throwing mud all over the front of the trailer on the way in. As it was sliding, I held my foot steady on the gas pedal and was laughing out loud having a blast. This was not the first time I have been mud boggin' at a horse show!

I pulled around and backed the trailer in next to a friend of mine and her rig. It turned out later in the day, she would be helping me hitch up and I would be helping her. This was what I remember of horse shows from the past- people helping each other out, everyone there to do their best and most of all to have FUN!  Since things were still a bit muddy, some allowances were made as far as 'proper attire' in the ring. I wasn't going to wear my muck boots in the ring, but I wouldn't be wearing my nice shoes either. I was going with my boots...

I had started to make a new coat for this event and when things didn't come together like they should, I scrapped the idea and went with the hat, coat and apron I had made for Grass Ridge last fall. Thursday night after dropping off Kat, I had to rush home and finish a skirt to go with it all.  I had thought about buying a pair of slacks, but decided matching the colors would be a challenge and look ridiculous without the apron so I went with making the skirt.

When it came time to get ready for cones, I harnessed Kat at the trailer, then climbed inside to change clothes. The look for in the ring was one thing. I had on the hat, the coat, my tank top underneath my skirt, my tall socks and my boots. I put my apron on and tucked it up into the waistband with my gloves. I was ready to put Kat to the cart and go.

My friend had asked about me putting the apron on before putting Kat to the cart. Wouldn't it drag in the dirt? When I tucked it up, she had never thought of that before. This was kind of funny to me since she is a pleasure driving judge and competes at the advanced level. She did give me a tip on the decoration of my hat- tuck up the ends of the tulling on the bow. Having it flowing out behind me was distracting. Like in hunters and dressage- clean lines make for fewer distractions on the judges eye.  Since today was cones, it could pass, but in the dressage or pleasure class rings- no!

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Marathon- Section E

The third stage of the marathon is Section E and has the hazards. This is where the fun begins!  One thing that stuck in my mind from last year was to take my time and do things right. Slow and right beats fast and wrong, all the time, every time.  Last year since it was my first CDE, I can admit that I got caught up in the excitement of being there, being in the moment and letting Kat go as fast as he wanted without breaking out of a trot. Doing that cost us big in the end.

Last year I was in 3rd after dressage and slipped to 4th because of my mistakes in Section E of the marathon. I seriously think they call it Section E, because if you are going to E out or get Eliminated- that is where it is likely to happen. Missed gates, red on the right, several obstacles to remember your path through and even with a good 'gator- it still happens and not just at Training Level.

As a quick recap from last year- I let Kat go too fast and in Hazard #2 we overshot one way into the maze, took the next one- which happened to be Gate C and rearranged the alphabet that day. That cost us 20 penalty points. **Something to note here- in training level, your time IN the hazards doesn't count**  Then at the end, Kat was cruising along in a really nice extended trot so I let him. I figured we would finish strong doing a bold, very forward trot. Another big mistake since we finished 34 seconds Under the minimum time allowed. We were too fast and racked up More penalty points... Doh!

So this year I had my plan of action in mind. I had walked the course three times already and although the first time out I mistakenly went through the hazards in the wrong the wrong order. I walked through #1, #2, #5, then #3 and finally #7 instead of taking them in the correct order. At least while I was walking them- I realized what happened and retraced the course in my mind so I knew what I was supposed to do.  Mind you this was on Friday afternoon. The wind was blowing at around 65mph at times, it was raining off and on and twice we had decent sized hail. This is all supposed to be FUN! Remember???

**#4 is the water hazard. ADS rules state there is to be an optional dry route for training level, but since this one is set up in a way that a dry route is not possible- training level skips it. Training level also only has 5 Hazards so #6 was skipped as well. It consists of 2 large 'covered wagons' and Gate B was going right through the one wagon**

As Kat and I made our way out to the start of Section E, he didn't have a care in the world about the same people who were the scary, horse eating monsters that we had to go past to get to the start of Section A. He was ready for action, but this time around, these people were fine and not going to bother him, let alone set him off like they had earlier that morning.  We walked around in the waiting area as the pony before us was also waiting for their turn to go.

We are spaced out in 5 minute increments so that there is a steady flow through the hazards and everyone has plenty of time to do things right, make corrections and be on their way before the next competitor comes through. This also gives the many volunteers at each hazard time to consult and call in any penalties to the TD and Ground Jury. With so many people armed with camera's and video cameras- if there is any question about anything- someone along the sidelines probably has it on hand for a quick review and is more than happy to provide digital evidence of what you actually did.

Kat and I finally had our turn and we headed off to complete the rest of our course.  He was comfortable moving along at a steady working trot. We headed off to Hazard #1 the Kokopelli Pipes.  Some of you may have seen photos of us in the pipes as we had done them at the Darby back in December.

To get to the Pipes, you have to enter a fenced area and right in the gateway was a sizeable spot of mud. No problem here- Kat just launched his little bad self into the air and jumped it. The mud was pretty firmly packed, but he didn't care and wasn't going to set foot on it and find out otherwise.  There was plenty of photographers on the sidelines and I am hoping that someone caught that, because I was cracking up and I heard several others laughing about it as well. He never fails to surprise, impress, amuse or entertain if given the chance.

We wound our way around and through Gates A, B and C, thanked everyone as we went through the Out gate and headed out the way we came in. Kat jumped the mud again and kept on going like it was no big deal or anything out of the ordinary. Everyone had another good laugh about it and it was all good. We wound our way around and through the course, went through Hazards #2 & #3, looped around through the fields and I could see that we were gaining fast on the horse in front of us. This kind of had me concerned. Either we were going way too fast, they were going too slow or a combination of both was happening and we were both going to get nailed on it later.

I slowed Kat down a bit as we were approaching and lined up for Hazard #5 to let them get out of there before we came blasting along.  We headed into #5 and easily wound our way around through the gates and I made sure the red was always on my right as we went through them.

As we came out of #5 we were stopped and advised that the course had changed.  Where we should have gone straight and wound our way around through a field- others had gone through it in the morning and their horses struggled as the horses and carts sank into the deep mud.  One woman's horse, a lovely Trakehner mare sank to her knees in the mud while the cart sank to the axles. There was nowhere to go but forward. They were on the path through the field, so getting off the path meant the mud may be deeper yet. One of the minis or VSE entries- the driver had to get off the cart and lead her horse out to solid ground. She was advised she would not be penalized for it and after that- that section of the course was closed.

After coming off of #5, we took a right to the end of the road, made a left and went up that road to a 'marker' which was a person waiting to tell us to make a U-turn and come back, that we would be back on course from there and proceed as normal, which was go to hazard #7. At Hazard #7 we went in the In gate, made our U-turn and back out through the Out gate heading for the end of section E.

Once you cross through the markers at the end of Section E, you head back over again to the vet check and rest area. The vet gives you a quick once over- respiratory and HR, quick look to see that the horse is ok and then you are met by the President of the Jury. You hand him your green time card and he figures your times for each section and scores.

On Section A with 23-25 minutes as the time allowed? Our time was 23:03. We BARELY squeaked by on that one without penalties by 3 seconds. Talk about cutting it close!  In the walk portion- Section D the maximum time was 12 minutes and we came in at around 9 or 10 minutes I believe.  Now for the scary part. I have no idea how we did in Section E and he didn't either. It looked like we were once again fast, but since the route was changed, the one hazard withdrawn- they really couldn't figure times on the course at that point and would have to make the changes and accommodations later and then refigure the scores.

As it turned out- because of all of the changes, the overall time for Section E for all levels was tossed out. Only the time in the hazards for the upper levels would count as well as any penalties or major mistakes which resulted in elimination.  While one person in Training Single Pony did have time penalties in Section A of the marathon- None of us E'ed out!  This penalty for the other competitor moved us up into third place. 

After shaking hands with the President of the Jury and thanking him for his time and comments, I headed Kat back towards the barns. He still had plenty of pep and plenty of breakfast to finish cleaning up. I had plenty of mud to clean up and clean off of everything. As we made our way back behind the tent and past the giant orange semi of Gerard Paagman- Ideal Harness it was a soupy, wet and incredibly sloppy mess. So I let Kat run... 

And run he did! Mud was literally spraying up off the wheels on the cart as well as it splashing up through the steel mesh of the basket as it came off his feet. We were both having a wicked blast and I soon realized I had better stop smiling because there was plenty of mud getting all over me and in my face. Yes I had mud in my teeth and Kat probably did too. At that point neither of us cared. We were having a total blast...

And this is the muddy, messy result-

My boots

My helmet on the seat of the truck

Mud chunks on the seat

A couple of chunks in the basket still and the number holder pulled double duty holding my green time card for each section.

More mud

You can see where I sat the whole time- it's clean!

The back of my number holder on the tailgate. It's caked!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Marathon- Section A & D

Because of the slick footing in the dressage arena on Friday and it only got worse as the day progressed- the organizers stopped everything with the last 7 competitors' still waiting and decided to have them compete on Saturday morning. The marathon start times would get pushed back about an hour and because one of the hazards was under water- it was excluded.  We would all simply go through the In gate, make a U-turn and exit through the Out gate. This was a good thing because the footing was beyond slick, any way you tried to go through it.

Since Kat would need all of his energy for the day, I didn't lunge him or hand walk him at all. I just harnessed him up in the stall, changed my boots, grabbed my gloves, put him to and started heading for the holding area by the starting line. As we went out the driveway, he spotted the people volunteering for the start of Section E. For whatever reason- they. freaked. his. shit. out! He got really flighty, tried to spin around to the left and Bolt! I managed to keep him from taking off, but dang he wanted no part of going past them at all. Thankfully I went with the butterfly bit that day. Had I used the snaffle as I had considered- I don't know if I could have kept him under control when that happened.

One of them told me that the ground on the pathway coming in was firmer and we would likely be better off up there. I told him the slick, deep mud was working in my favor to make the going tough and help keep him from flipping out altogether. If he had to really work at getting through it, he would have less traction if he really wanted to get outta dodge.  And just as quickly as he seen them and freaked- he was perfectly fine and we went on our way.  He was still a bit amped up, but he was listening and responding to me.

The marathon is in three sections. Section A is generally on pretty even ground and the same distance for all levels. You can also go at any pace in any level, but you still have your minimum time allowed and maximum time allowed. It is stressed that this is a pace, not a race. For small ponies the minimum time allowed was 23 minutes and the maximum was 25 minutes. Talking to one of the other Single Pony entries later on- you are encouraged to use as much of the time as you can, although you receive less penalty points for going too fast than you do for going too slow.

As we were cruising along, I kept checking my watch and trying to do the math in my head.  We started at 11:41 and I checked my watch, did some quick math and figured we had to finish section A around 12:06 or so. I'm pretty sure my math was off from the start so I kept checking my watch and trying to refigure, always coming back to the same conclusion and thinking- "Crap, we have Got to make up some time!" Part of the problem- I couldn't see the pony that went before us. At all. 

Last year, I could see that horse and just kept a steady pace behind them and kept them at a steady distance. I figured they had a 'gator, I would use them in a way and judge it by them. We came in well in good time last year doing that so why not this year? Only this year I had nothing to go by.  Any pace is allowed? Fine. I let Kat run. As fast as he wanted to go- we went! I kissed to him once and eased up on the reins and he gladly took off.

I couldn't see the end checkpoint of section A and still thought we were behind on our time so we ran some more.  Kat was really good about it and kept his head about him. He didn't get all squirrely on me and whenever there were mud puddles in our path, I slowed him down and guided him around or through them and we took off again.  And because of all of the mud- It was flying everywhere! Large chunks were coming off the wheels and flying up over my head and landing all around us. Some of them even landed in the basket of the cart and since it is diamond mesh steel, I ground it through with my boot. We didn't need any extra weight on the cart or any souvenirs for later. As it was- there was plenty on everything else anyways. 

Kat did slow down for the few places we crossed the paved roads, but once back on the dirt and up next to the farm fields- off we went again. Finally I could see the checkpoint for the end of section A. We were still in good time so I eased him back down to a trot. He actually walked up to the checkpoint and wanted to stop before going over the line and ending our time. Kind of a good thing he did as I would find out later on.

Then came Section D, which is a walk section. We had 12 minutes or less to complete it and again I figured my time on it and what the maximum would be.  Kat was more than happy to walk as I think he burned off plenty of his exuberance and excess energy blasting along through Section A.  Part of it too was that Section D for the most part- is heading back into the property and familiar territory for the horses. As it was, we came in well within the time allowed.  Section D is followed by a vet check and then a mandatory 10 minute rest period.  You can offer the horse water and let them stand around or even keep them walking. This is also a good time to put on your protective vest for the next part, if you weren't already wearing it.

At the vet check, a gentleman came over and acquainted himself to Kat before trying to take his temperature. Kat wanted no part of that and half reared as he half tried to sit down.  I haven't ever had to take his temperature before so that was a new one for him. Not wanting to cause any issues, the temp was scratched unless I wanted it done. I don't really have a need, so we skipped it. When the vet came over to take his respiratory and heart rates, he was getting fidgety and interested in why all of a sudden he was such the fuss?

The man taking temperatures stood by his head to help keep Kat quiet. Kat started sniffing him and huffing and puffing about it. The vet was trying to get his respiratory rate and this was not helping. Then Kat just held his breath. That didn't help her any either. Finally she just stood back and looked at him, watched him interacting with the temp man and determined he did not look to be stressed or overworked, he wasn't labored in his breathing, just not cooperating so she noted that and went for the heart rate.  His resting HR was 44 and we joked about him trying to hold his heartbeat and if he could manage that, then we had issues. The vet looked him over once more before letting us go for our rest period. She wanted to be sure about his breathing which she decided was fine and let us go.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Enter at A- Screaming!

Kat's idea of enter at A was to do it screaming to announce his arrival in the arena.  He was a bit fiesty and a tad pissed off because we were the last to go and all of the other ponies had left the warm up and holding area. He was pretty much alone and wondering why? Where had his new herd of friends gone?

We entered at A, halted at X pretty nicely and did our test. For the most part- I don't really remember much of it. It wasn't all that outstanding in my mind apparently, but for the most part it is pretty foggy in my brain as to how things went.  I usually pick a theme song to sing to Kat in the arena. It makes me breathe, gives him a tempo to work with and for the most part- I had nothing.

I do remember laughing out loud at Kat a few times, because he was screaming his way around the arena, screaming down the rail, screaming through the circles, screaming through the turns and I was telling him to STFU already, nobody cares and all the screaming is getting a bit obnoxious. I felt he did pretty well otherwise, but for the most part I only really remember I was looking down at his feet a few times to see if we were actually trotting.  The footing was a bit squishy in some places, even being on the grass.  Just before E and in the corner by F were especially bad and towards the end of the day the centerline was a muddy rut.

We turned on the centerline and headed to X for our halt before backing up. I told Kat there was a halt coming up and when we got there he wasn't so much responding. I pulled him into the halt and he was beyond mad. He fussed and fidgeted, threw his head in protest, stepping a bit to the left while also offering to rear. Can't really get after him in the center of the arena with all eyes on us, so I scolded him and told him to "Knock it off and Straighten Up!" Again he was screaming the whole time and I was laughing at him and asking where the hell that BS came from? He finally stood still long enough for me to count and then ask for the back. We walked to G, saluted the judge and picked up the trot to leave the arena.

After saluting the judge and as we passed by the corner of the arena, Gary yelled to me- "Way to go! Just laugh it off and have a good time."  Sometimes that is about all you CAN do given the circumstances. Between the weather, the footing, his screaming and everything else- our score under Craig Kellog was a 74 point something and under Mike McLennan we rocked it with a 53 point something.  Since we don't get our score sheets until the last day, my cell phone crapped out and then I forgot to pick them up- I can't tell you what my scores for each movement were or the comments. Yay Me!  I am hoping for a Plan B and to be able to get the score sheets at some point, but who knows when that may happen.

After dressage we were in 4th place of 5 entries. Not exactly how I wanted to kick off the event, since we all hope to do well, but we got through it. We didn't get eliminated, didn't have any injuries to Kat because of the footing and I know dressage is not his strong point anyways.  It was about as good as we could have done so I took him back to the barn to let him finish his breakfast and relax.

With all of the rain, there were quite a few puddles and a couple of lakes. It's a good thing Kat has learned to go through water, because if he didn't before then, he would now! I don't think there was any 'clean' way out of the barn area and there weren't many dry areas between there and the dressage arena, holding area or warm up. Surprisingly enough, the warm up was all dirt, but under the water the footing was pretty good. The holding area was grass, but pretty wet and by mid day it was rutted, deep and slick.  As it was- he no longer had 4 white socks. 


Monday, March 11, 2013

mud, Mud and more MUD!

Friday was rainy and pretty cold at the CDE. But since these folks run rain or shine, it was game on! Kat had been out in pasture all week so when I drove him Thursday afternoon before taking him down to the event, he was pretty flat and had no energy. I had to push him along to get anything out of him.  Adding to that, he had been trimmed the weekend before and although I didn't take much off, he was a little tender too.

I got him down to the showgrounds around 5pm, got checked in and put him in his stall for the night. This time he seemed to settle in a bit better. Last year he was a wound up mess, didn't finish his food and paced a lot.  With him in his stall, I headed out to walk our dressage test. Since it was the same one as we did in AJ last month, I had it in mind for the most part and remembered to WALK from X to G for the final salute. I had texted Gary to find out where he was and he was out picking up some last minute needs. I texted back that I was walking the pattern in my flip flops. He would be proud, I know. 

Friday the weather changed on us and about 3am it started to rain. It was a light sprinkling rain, but steady. Then it stopped, then it Poured down, then stopped, then the steady drizzle... And the host facility was pretty drenched when I got there. There are two main driveways in but the ground between them was pretty squishy.  I had locked in the 4WD on my truck already and turning onto the main road in (dirt road) had already slid sideways as I made my turn onto Christensen Rd.  As I changed from one driveway to the other, I gunned it. If you happen to hit a slick spot, hopefully your momentum will carry you on to firmer ground and traction.  I hit a few slick spots, but with the momentum and holding the pedal at a steady speed I got through it pretty easily and found my way to the barn.

I had to move Kat's feed bucket to the back of the stall since the rain was filling it up in the front.  At least he had eaten all of his dinner... I have learned that at these type events, it is best for me to just feed him, give him a few pats and rubs and leave. Let him eat and just walk away. If I am not there pestering him or fussing over him- we both settle our nerves for later and do better.  As it was, I had been feeling a bit tense on Thursday in anticipation. No need to add to that and get him jazzed up too. Kat tends to feed off of me and if I am uptight, he is too and things go horribly wrong from there. I went and walked the dressage test again to help take my mind off of things.

My start time wasn't until 10:15 so I had plenty of time. While I was in the stall braiding his mane, there was a flash of lightening and a loud crack of thunder. I hadn't seen anyone driving so I wondered if they were holding off. I started to walk towards the arena and seen a woman putting her mini away. She was doing her free walk when the thunder clapped. Luckily her horse was not fazed and just kept walking. I could see others out in the arena so I headed back to hitch up. Because of the weather- rain gear was allowed instead of 'proper attire'. At least I got a bit of a break there.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Prep work

I had to work Kat yesterday so I popped in a braid to see if that was how I would do it for the CDE coming up.


Nevermind the mohawk/bridlepath and yes he does have a fairly thick, cresty neck. I have been trying to work that down some.

I worked Kat in the long lines because 1) my cart is in for hopefully the last time with shaft work being done to it and 2) last time I worked him, he seemed a bit stiff in the left shoulder. I wanted to be able to see it if he still was so long lines it was. 

Because I had my cell phone on me, there is plenty of pics to follow. Some of them are not the greatest, working the phone with one hand and the lines with the other and vis-versa. And for all of these, there is probably 1 or 2 for each good photo, that is a not so good photo.

Working on our walk, because the two walk sections are worth double points... Yeah, kinda important you have a good walk...

Ooops, I cut off his butt.

And probably one of my new favorite photos of Kat-


Friday, March 1, 2013


RED goes on the Right. This is a lesson I apparently still need to learn. It is also the same one that six other people in our driving club need to learn as well. Among us there was a prelim horse, a prelim VSE and an intermediate VSE. All of us looked at the same maps, and all of us walked the course. Yet seven of us were lured into the oh so inviting gate A in Hazard #1, right as you come through the in gate... and we fell for it, going through the wrong direction. We did it and were eliminated pretty much before we really got started on the last portion of the ADT.

My daughter Robin rode with me for this one as my 'gator. From the accounts of others- she is a good one so far.  We went through gate A, made a quick in and out of gate B to scoot through C, which is when she asked me- "Isn't red supposed to be on the right?"  - Long pause-  Wait, WHAT???  I looked at C as we trotted away from it and back to the start/finish line. I know I walked it and practiced it several times the right direction...  I looked at B, yep, we did that one right too, so I headed out over the finish line and stopped Kat to ask the timer/judge...  "Did we just bomb out on that one?" 

"You went through gate A the wrong direction." I turned and looked at it. I stared at it for a second or two, thinking of how we went through it, where the red and white letters were and then it hit me. We went through A the wrong way. Damn! But I guess if you are going to make mistakes, make them early and get them done. From there the rest should be easy and it usually is. You hav taken the pressure off of yourself to win, be perfect or whatever you stress over, now you can go on and focus, getting the rest of it right.

Which is what we did. Kat was cruising as we headed to the far side of the grounds for Hazard #2. We whipped around through the trees, through the fence panels set up for B & C and shot back out through the finish, heading over to Hazard #3. Jim the cones course designer/ judge was on duty for #3 and we blasted through past him. We whipped around through the barrels and back across the finish line on our way to Hazard #4.

We zipped around in Hazard #4 and back out through the finish line. It was a total blast and Kat was light in the bridle, easy to manuver and we had a great time on the course, even though the weather was brisk and everyone was bundled up. Jackets and all, just means there is plenty of extra or added padding if you should come off the cart and eat dirt so it's all good.

When we finished up on the Obstacles, Kat was happy to walk and go back to the trailer for a rest. He was finally a little bit pooped out. Robin wanted to go sit in the truck where it was warm. I had seen a different kind of bit on another horse and wanted to go talk to the drivers about them. Hopefully this will be the magic bit that allows Kat the freedom and softness of a snaffle and the lightness and control of the butterfly.  Or I have another piece of hardware to add to the growing collection.

As it was, in the Obastacles, of the four ponies in our class. Times in the Hazards put us dang quick in #1, but then we didn't go the same route as everyone else. Third in #2, second in #3 and 3rd in #4 so not too bad overall.