Monday, January 20, 2014

'Tis the season

I know, I know - the holidays are pretty much over.  Although the Year of the Horse will get underway in the next couple of weeks.  But, it is football playoff seasons.  I enjoyed watching the Broncos win and the amazing game despite the 49ers loss in the championship games.  I'm looking forward to seeing some of my favorite players at the ProBowl next weekend and then the Super Bowl, always a highlight for me.

It is also winter riding season. I enjoyed my first Aiken weekend although it failed a bit on the "go south to be warm" front.  I got in Friday evening and it was quite pleasant, still around 50 degrees at 9:00 p.m., but that didn't last long.  I woke up to below freezing temperatures and a nasty wind.  Knowing that this can happen in Aiken, I came equipped for the arctic tundra with plenty of fleece, handwarmers, and toe warmers and stayed pretty comfortable.  Thursday Sally had texted to ask when I arrived on Friday.  My text response, "Late. Why yes, I do trust that I can just get on him Saturday at the show." And he completely justified my trust.  Dressage was a little tense, especially his first test, but he got much better and jumped like a total superstar.  Sally's horses were all good as well, as was Pooh Hoblitzell's adorable Irish youngster.  It never got particularly warm, but as always in Sally's program, all 9 horses were ready to go on time and looked great.  I definitely felt I was knocking the rust off, but there is really something to be said for a horse you can get on after 2 weeks of no riding and have no trouble clocking around the course (Novice).  The new dressage tests are OK.  I still don't like the canter, lengthen canter, stretchy circle, lengthen trot, turn up centerline to end Training Test B, but Keegan was quite good about everything.  His canter work is continuing to improve.

After getting Keegan settled back at the farm, I headed back and did some work. I can report that the document editing apps available for my Nexus 7 are far superior to those I had on the iPad so that was great. Caitlin and I met for dinner.  Ryan was off clinicing so we had girl time.  We did discuss the sadness with what seems an unreasonable number of serious horse injuries and fatalities, particular Santa's Keeper and Lionheart, but also Waitangi Notebook, Astro, and Seahawk.  Hug your ponies. But, we also had lots of fun with plans for the upcoming year, trying to sell horses (please, let 2014 be the Year of Horse Sales), and general updates.

Sunday, I went over to Boyd's and saw Hoku go.  She looks like a million bucks. Caitlin said she is doing really well although the cold winter weather means keeping on top of her skin. Caitlin is using a human aloe vera, vitamin E lotion that seems to be doing a great job keeping the skin supple and helping any minor blanket rubs grow in.  I also got to give Remi a kiss and check out the way too cute dogs at Windurra South.

After a farm tour of the very impressive Bridle Creek layout, I headed back to Sally's for my lesson. The focus was to be riding forward to the fences (both needed and alliterative). The lesson went really well and I was a bit surprised that I didn't have too much trouble even with reasonably big fences. We really focused on two things: 1) getting the right, sufficiently forward canter to the fences, and 2) quicker reactions times on the landing.  Sally also says she is very focused on straightness.  The quote, "good jumper riders can control and adjust their horses back to front - great jumper riders can do that laterally." Keegan was jumping fabulously and the lesson was a lot of fun.  Following my lesson, I watched Sally ride a couple, including Hannah Ong's handsome Stash.
Sally was very complimentary of the excellent start that Hannah has given this guy. It warmed up in the afternoon and many horses took advantage by napping, including Sue - appearing a bit different than the usual cross-country machine look.  Wall-E also had a nice nap and Kelsey had to wake him to be shown to a student of Melissa Hunsberger's. It was good to catch up with Melissa.  Wall-E was a superstar.  I might point out that Sally has not traditionally sold her horses, but she has some of her personal mounts for sale right now and they are all ridiculously nice horses - in case you are in the market and want a going event horse (as opposed to my h/j horse, jumper horse or greener OTTB .) Then it was get things tidied up at the barn and the room, head for the airport and finish up the weekend with football.  Altogether excellent!

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