Monday, February 6, 2012
In which Keegan has a bee in his bonnet, but jumps brilliantly
Some of you may remember that when I rode Keegan in the clinic with Heath Ryan (the second time I ever rode him), I was a bit dismayed that the completely quiet horse I had tried and bought was leaping about the arena and was only settled when jumping. Heath said, he wants to be quiet; he just has a bee in his bonnet today. And once home at Blue Hill Farm, that pesky bee would show up periodically, but could almost always be tied to one of three things: 1)too much food as we tried to fatten him up from track weight, 2)too little turn out, 3)a day off/too little work. So, when the bee showed up at the Rocking Horse schooling show on Saturday, I first thought maybe he hasn't been working hard enough, but conversation with Hilda yielded that while it had been a bit of a light week, he had plenty of time under saddle. No change in his turnout and no obvious feed changes, so.... But then later in the day, when I opened the new bale of hay, I realized there was much more alfalfa in this T&A mix than in what I think of as Ashmore T&A. Hilda agreed and since we have been pushing tons of hay at him and since I had noticed his manure was greener and runnier than usual, we are hoping we have found the culprit. He has been switched back to straight Timothy hay and we will see what happens this week. So, given the bee busily buzzing about, dressage was a bit of a bust. He just did not want to settle. There were a few nice enough moments, particularly in the trot work, but his downward transitions were a hot mess and the canter work not nearly as consistent as last week. Sadly, he was totally ADD during the free walk and got a 6 versus last week's 8. After dressage, we headed off to jump (having entered 2 jumping classes, 2'6 to warm up and 2'11 to prepare for next weekend). He started leaping around, so I got off and lunged him for 10 minutes, then got back on. He began warming up quite well, but lost it again, when horses in the warm-up started crashing through the fences, so we abandoned warm-up and headed straight to the arena. The course was similar to what we had done last week, with the addition of a fence plus two 2-stride lines. This all went well. We had a rail, but it was a "training issue" rail, when rather than letting him leave long, I asked him to put in the extra stride, which he did, but then was a bit too close for tidy jumping. He definitely settled as we went along, jumping much better after the third fence than he did to the first 3. After heading back over to dressage warm-up and running through the test in a practice ring (that one would have scored way better!) and watching Grace on a mare she is trying and Olivia on Duke jump their stadium rounds (we later discovered that Olivia came 2nd in the cash back 2'6 and won $66 - go Olivia and Duke!), we headed out to cross country. And here, was the quiet and focused Keegan back on duty (of course, by this time, he had been working for 2 hours, so that probably had something to do with it). Hilda took the whole group out to school. In addition to Keegan, Grace's mare, Duke, Annalise's young Gage and Deirdre's lovely Winston headed off to enjoy a perfect day of xc schooling. This would be Gage's 2nd school and Winston and Deirdre's first. Winston is an 18 year old Arabian cross gelding and Deirdre is primarily a western rider, but we had gotten her to agree to do a couple intro dressage tests at the schooling show and she figured she might as well get the whole experience while she was there, so joined us for the xc as well. All of the horses were super. Winston and Deirdre totally took to cross country schooling and enthusiastically jumped logs, ditches, schooled the water, and looked to be having a total blast - not to mention completely event ready. Gage also did all the small stuff, and the biggest problem for Annalise was convincing him to take it seriously enough to go forward - yes it is a little tiny log, but you do have to canter over it. I am sure Annalise was more tired than Gage. Olivia is new to the sport, but after a super successful school on Duke, has entered her first event at Rocking Horse. She is on the waitlist for RH2 and entered for RH3, so it will be fun to have another eventing buddy in Florida. Grace's mare was a superstar. She is a lovely 5 year old with Voltaire, Abdullah and Consul in her pedigree and what a great brain. She was calm and willing and jumped everything she was pointed at. Hopefully, all will work out and she will be Grace's next eventing partner. Keegan was equally a star. We pointed him at some pretty big/scary stuff. Nothing to overface him, but plenty to make sure he is ready for the novice next week, including what I thought was the scariest fence on the Novice course last weekend, the green half rolltop with the brush (no problem). This weekend, no hesitation at the water, including once again jumping down over the log into the water. Great over 2 different small ditches and to all the novice sized benches, tables, etc. We had one glitch when I brought him underpowered to a biggish table, but it was fine once I discovered the correct canter and we had a great time. I headed back over to jump my 2'11" stadium only to discover that while having so much fun on the cross-country, we had missed the change over and the fences were now 3'3", but what the heck, he was all warmed up. So, no I am not totally crazy. I asked and received permission to jump a selection of the fences, not the whole course. Thanks to Leyna Merrill for working as stadium steward all day and to Alice, who on top of putting on a first class schooling show, judged the show jumping. We ended up jumping 5 and while he hit the first two (I think the first one surprised him and the second was off a tough turn - Alice says I may owe her some fence painting), he then figured it out and finished brilliantly, realizing that he had to work a bit harder and jump a bit higher, both well within his capabilities (and if he was a bit tired, it was well earned as he had now been under tack for 3.75 hours). We finished up and headed back to the trailer, getting cleaned up while Annalise and Deirdre did their dressage tests. Online results are not yet posted, but I do know that Olivia got the 2nd in the cash back jumping and Annalise and Gage had a super successful debut with a 5th and a 2nd (on a dressage score of 70%) in the USDF intro tests class. The weather was lovely once again. Jeff and Loki looked great. I caught their dressage test as we were finishing up, but missed their jumping. I missed seeing a few people I knew were there (but that is what happens when you spend 4 hours on your horse fighting that bee). Feeling ready for next week and hoping the bee stays far away.