Las Cruces Horse Trial

 Posted by on 13 December 2014 at 10:00 am  Animals, Horses, Personal, Sports
Dec 132014
 

Back in November, Lila and I left the sub-freezing (and by that, I mean -12°F) weather of Colorado for a few days in warm Las Cruces, New Mexico for a horse trial.

Here’s our dressage round:

Here’s our stadium jumping round:

Lila was great in cross-country too — bold and forward. I was particularly pleased with how we jumped the ditch: I stayed up, and so Lila jumped it without a second glance. Alas, I don’t have any video because the USEF has banned helmet cameras due to safety concerns. (Hopefully, that will be temporary.)

We ended up in 5th place… which isn’t bad. If we’d just not had that unlucky rail down in stadium, we would have won. Them’s the breaks!

Dog Agility Done Right… and Slow

 Posted by on 8 December 2014 at 1:00 pm  Animals, Dogs, Funny, Sports
Dec 082014
 

This is the most fabulously funny dog agility video ever:

He’s willing, just v e r y s l o o o o o w.

An Exciting Hack

 Posted by on 6 December 2014 at 1:00 pm  Animals, Horses, Personal, Sports
Dec 062014
 

Earlier this week, Phantom was a bit of a handful on our hack along some neighborhood roads to get to the arena. Here’s our conversation:

Phantom: The sun is setting. I’m worried.

Me: We’re all chill, nothing to worry about here. We’re just on a nice quiet hack.

Phantom: I’m still worried. My buddy Lila is missing me. I miss her.

Me: It’s okay, lovebug. Lila will be okay, and you’ll see her again soon.

Phantom: OMG, THERE’S A MAN FOLLOWING US BACK THERE.

Me: It’s alright, he’s just going for a walk, like us.

Phantom: I DON’T BELIEVE YOU. I NEED TO LOOK AT HIM. HE’S STALKING US.

Me: No, let’s just keep walking, love.

Phantom: NO NO NO NO. HE WANTS TO MAKE ME INTO A LAMP. I JUST CAN’T HANDLE THIS. AHHHHH!!!

Me: Oh sh*t…

Video from Eric Horgan Clinic

 Posted by on 6 December 2014 at 10:00 am  Animals, Horses, Sports
Dec 062014
 

Over Halloween weekend, I rode Phantom and Lila in a three-day clinic with Eric Horgan. (Eric was the reason for going to Aiken, South Carolina last winter… and the reason for doing the same this winter. He’s wonderful.)

Here are some video highlights from my rides on Lila:

I was particularly delighted with Lila’s flatwork. We’ve come a long way, baby!

Here are some highlights from my rides on Phantom:

Phantom was very excitable the whole weekend — mostly due to being separated from Lila, I think. So that was a struggle for me. Still, we made progress, and we’ve been doing really well together lately.

Pink: Acrobatics

 Posted by on 20 November 2014 at 2:00 pm  Music, Sports
Nov 202014
 

I’ve been listening to a ton of Pink lately, and this live performance of “Sober” is just mind-blowing acrobatics — while singing live, of course, because she’s just that awesome.

Wow.

Oct 182014
 

Here’s the video from my helmet cam of Lila’s cross-country round at the Greenwood Farm Horse Trial in Texas. (That was last Sunday.) In sum, Lila jumped wonderfully boldly from a gallop for so much of the course — until disaster struck! — and then we recovered to complete the course nicely.

Here’s the video, but you might want to read the description below it for context before watching.

The bold jumping that Lila gave me throughout this course is exactly what I’ve been struggling to get from her for some months. Her hock injections, plus some changes in how I rode her, made a huge difference.

In particular, I was so proud of her (and me!) for how we jumped the trakehner. Trakehners are logs set over ditches, and this was a max height log (2’11″) over a deep ditch. Lila isn’t great with ditches, and I’ve always been freaked out just by the thought of these fences. We’ve not ever schooled over them, although we jumped a log with a half-ditch under it in the horse trial at Santa Fe. (We didn’t do that very well, however.)

Over this trakehner — which you’ll see right after the white fence — I cantered her into it with plenty of gusto and determination, and I kept my eyes above the horizon. She jumped it without the slightest hesitation, and you can hear just how pleased I was by that.

Not too long after that, we had our minor disaster at the log fence headed into a gully. I was quite tired heading up the hill into the pasture. (My stirrups were a hole shorter than they’d ever been, which was good, but extra-tiring.) So I didn’t sit her down in the way that I should have in the few strides before the fence, and I probably didn’t give her any leg. I was just a passenger, and that’s never good.

So as you can see on the video, she stopped suddenly in the stride before the fence, and I was thrown forward, hard. I ended up in front of the saddle, arms wrapped around her neck, with my face looking close-up at her ears. I really really didn’t want to fall off, so I shimmied backwards when she raised her head and neck. That took just a second or two.

As soon as I sat up — still in front of the saddle — Lila decided that she’d had enough. She began cantering back up the hill, and I started getting pretty scared as she went faster and faster. I realized that I could have a pretty bad fall unless I stopped her pronto, so I put on whatever brakes I could, stopped her with some difficulty, and then wiggled myself back into the saddle. You can hear the panic in my voice during that segment. Yes, that is funny! Laugh away!

Then we jumped the fence properly, and we finished the course just fine. (Well, the ditch to the brush was a bit rough, but we got through it.) The only casualty was my glasses, which I never did find.

Despite that bit of craziness, I’m soooo proud of Lila for jumping so well. Obviously, I need to work on my balance and endurance in my cross-country two-point, and that will get done in the next few months. (It’s already underway!)

We ended up in last place, but that’s fine. Lila showed me a whole new level of potential on this very difficult course — the most difficult novice course we’ve ever done — and that pleases me greatly.

Shire Horse Race

 Posted by on 22 September 2014 at 2:00 pm  Horses, Sports
Sep 222014
 

Now here’s a horse race that Lilapotomus might be able to win… maybe:

Dressage in Harmony

 Posted by on 6 September 2014 at 10:00 am  Horses, Sports
Sep 062014
 

Last weekend, I found this lovely bit of dressage from the World Equestrian Games. It’s Dutch rider Diederik van Silfhout on Arlando. He makes some mistakes — the piaffe is all wrong, for example. Still, I love his harmony and lightness with his horse. He’s not dragging back on the reins or digging in with the spur. His horse is not compressed behind the vertical. There’s so much of that in high-level dressage right now that this ride was a real breath of fresh air.

Schooling Lila over Training Level Questions

 Posted by on 30 August 2014 at 10:00 am  Horses, Personal, Sports
Aug 302014
 

Here’s some video from late July — when Martha Deeds, Jill Garzarelli, and I schooled cross-country at the Colorado Horse Park. This was Lila’s first time over training-level fences. We had a few refusals (e.g. at the corner), but she was really great overall. Who would have predicted that my lazy, opinionated, on-the-forehand draft-cross would be such a capable eventer?!? She’s my girl!

Excellence Takes Time

 Posted by on 23 August 2014 at 10:00 am  Horses, Personal, Sports
Aug 232014
 

I like this:

About 10 years ago, I sat down with Phillip Dutton and asked him what I could do to be more competitive. The first thing he told me was to “never underestimate how long it took me to get mentally strong enough to be this good.” He didn’t say I needed better horses, more lessons or more money. None of those things hurt, but they will not take the place of mental strength. I think other sports focus more on this than eventing, but we need to realize how integral it is to our success.

Personally, I feel like I’m gaining experience in all the varieties of mistakes that I can make every time I compete. I figure that so long as I’m making new mistakes, all is well. Also, once I start competing Phantom, I’m going to have to make a whole new slew of mistakes, just because she’s so different from Lila.

So when I get impatient with myself, as I often do, I need to remind myself, “never underestimate how long it took me to get experienced enough to be this good.”

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