Trading Places: Horse Wife Edition

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A few weeks ago, I found myself in uncharted territory as a 1st time Horse Show Wife.

My husband Andy and his lease horse went to their first HJ show EVAR and I found myself in the role of groom, photographer/videographer, and holder of things. But first, some background on Andy and his pony….

As some of you might have caught in Horse Expo/Megan and L visit post,  Andy is leasing a horse named Upgreydd.

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2 D’s for a Double Dose of Pimpin

 

Upgreydd, which is pronounced just like “Upgrade” is a grey 2006 TB (barn name Fallon) that’s missing the “OT” in OTTB because he wouldn’t leave the starting gate. Fallon is a bit of a stubborn horse but is honest, pretty unflappable, and likes to jump. He and Andy are a really good match both in temperament and size so I’m glad it has worked out!

Andy picked up riding a bit after we started dating and with a long history of almost pro level mountain biking under his belt, riding came pretty natural to him so he kept taking lessons and started to lease. He became pretty intrigued with Eventing so he started riding with Nicole’s trainer, who then introduced us to Fallon.

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Anyways, back to my story of being Horse Show Wife…

We’re lucky to have several very close shows that the local HJ association puts on, so Andy was excited when Trainer said she would be taking several horses and had room for Fallon. That night before the show,  we cleaned and conditioned his tack (I’m slightly neurotic about clean tack) and boots and then I picked out his outfit for the show because I gotta make sure my man looks fly AF.

Andy planned on doing the X-rails, 2 ft, and maybe the 2’3 class if the first 2  went well and since those were scheduled to start at 8:30 we were at the show grounds pretty early. While Andy was dealing with registration, I went ahead and started to groom and tacked up Fallon so he would be ready to roll. Before we made our way to the warm up ring I made sure I had snacks, water, sunblock, treats for Fallon, fly spray, and the camera on hand so I would be prepared for anything! Now I realize why those groom backpacks are so useful! I might have to get one for us to use for shows.

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This was pretty much me

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I took a ton of pictures while Andy and his fellow barnmates warmed up so I could practice taking good action shots for the actual round. Here are some of my attempts above.

The 1st class up with the X-rail class which had about 7-8 people including Andy, who went in the middle of the pack, so we were able to watch a few people go first. Quite a few of the horses were being spooky with the fillers and flowers so it made for quite an exciting x-rail class. I don’t know if Andy was nervous, but damn I was a bit anxious when he went in for his ride, but he was cool as a cucumber and had a nice clean round! So clean and so close to the optimum time that he took 1st place!! I started laughing hysterically as I was so proud and impressed! #proudhorseshowwife

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But somehow,  between the x-rail and 2ft class I managed to lose Andy’s ribbon and horse cookie prize #fail. I had put it in the bed of a golf cart and when I went back to get it the golf cart was gone. I managed to track down the golf cart and retrieved the prize , but the ribbon must have blown out. Andy was peeved and laughed  at me when I told him what happened, but I managed to get a replacement ribbon for him. Thanks Show Managers!

His 2ft class was bigger with about 12 people and also included a jump off course if you jumped the round clean. He had a clean round and a clean jump off, and was leading the pack until a firecracker of a pony came in and smoked him and took about 6 seconds off his time. In the end though,. Andy and Fallon ended up taking 2nd overall!

Since the first 2 classes went so well, he decided to do the 2’3 class at the last minute so there was a bit of downtime  since he was towards the end of a pretty big class.  I gave Andy some gatorade, shoved him a granola bar, and had him hang out in the shade while I walked Fallon around to get some water. We were glad to see Fallon suck down water because it was a pretty warm day and he was glad to get a break at the trailer with his hay net. After a quick break, Andy was back out again and I remember that I should get some video! Here’s his 2’3 class and jump off for your viewing pleasure!

A solid clean round ended up as a 6th place for Andy and Fallon out of a decently sized class. He was super pleased with how his first show went and now has caught the “show bug” as he was already thinking about the next show! Ha!

I’m really super proud of how he did as was so glad I got to be there to help and see him and Fallon go around. Being the help/horse show spouse this time around also made me appreciate that much more how Andy helps me at my shows and clinics, and I’m glad I was able to return the favor. Great job, Andy and Fallon! You both dolled out a double dose of pimpin!

Do any of your significant others show? Or compete in events where you’ve been their helper and vice versa? Would love to hear your stories too! 🙂

 

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A Very Pony Weekend: Western States Horse Expo and Pony Sleepover

Every year in June, the Western States Horse Expo comes to town, and I think I’ve gone almost every year to do some shopping, but this time  it was 50x better because I got to go with L and Megan!  I had known that Megan was coming up to look for a saddle for Rico and her mom, but when L said she could come up too it quickly turned into another pony sleepover.

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I had told them that Andy needed to ride his lease horse on Friday, so when they arrived we headed out to watch Andy ride and have L meet the infamous Flying Potato. Spot and her roommates got treats from all of us and Spot got a bonus cuddle session from L and Megan.

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After a quick visit, we headed to Andy’s barn where Nicole’s Murray is boarded also! Sadly, Nicole was in Australia or she would have definitely been a part in our weekend shenanigans, but we did say hello to the Murray Monster. He was highly suspicious at first but with a bit of bribing he decided to cooperate for a photo op or two.

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Bribery works

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Such a cute Murray

We finished the night with some thai food, froyo, and stayed up wayyy too late talking, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! L and Megan are two pretty cool people and I’m so glad I’ve become friends with them.

The next day after pancakes, eggs and ham, coffee, and more coffee, we made our way to the expo for a day of shopping and all things horse. The Western States Expo is much more western discipline focused, but there were lots of vendors that catered to english and western people. I drooled over all the fancy trailers for sale, with this trailer being my favorite with its unique tack area:

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Where do I sign?

I ended up buying a US Rider membership ($20 off for signing up at the Expo), ice wraps, supplements, No Thrush, and a muscle soreness rub. Oh, we also all went nuts and entered every single giveaway/raffle we could find, because who doesn’t like free Platinum Performance, free grain for a year, or a $300 SmartPak gift certificate? We checked out Megan’s mom’s new saddle which was crazy light and hilariously we found show photos of L and Carlos at the CSHA booth.

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The soon to be Rico Saddle! 

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We were having an awesome day so far, but it wasn’t over just yet! We ended up going to a local B show to watch a little and check out the normally well stocked tack vendors there. The show is a Beach Party theme so everyone has their stalls decorated with beach/tropic themes, people are showing in Hawaiian shirts, horses have leis on, and the arenas are given tropical names. We checked out all the goods, though I restrained myself from buying anything since I spent a good bit at the expo, and just watched some of the jumpers go before we head back to my house.

Our chosen food group of the day was Tacos, so before L and Megan left we had another round of tacos at a really good local taqueria down the street to close our the weekend. The tacos we had at the Expo were pretty sad, so we obviously needed better ones.

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I had such a fun, horse filled weekend with L and Megan but damn I was exhausted! It was a whirlwind of a weekend. There’s a big NorCal blogger meet up happening in a few weeks but I’ll actually be in England for vacation, sad but not sad? Either way, I can foresee more epic visits in the future, but this time Nicole will be able to join in on the fun too!

 

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Dance Lesson with A Enter Spooking

A few weeks ago I got the chance to take a lesson with Megan from A Enter Spooking! I’ve read her blog for a while now and since I’ve gotten to meet her in real life, I jumped at the chance to clinic with her.

Nicole and I both got to lesson with Megan, and it was super fun being able to watch each other and get lots of video and photos. Yay for Blog Buddy Lesson Adventures! Anyways, on to my lesson!

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If only Spot knew what was in store for her that day…

Megan watched me warm up and I told her that we started to work on more lateral work (LY/SI) but we had issues with being on the bit consistently and Spot getting tense and braced. With that being said, we started off on everybody’s favorite 20m circle with the main focus for me was to get Spot’s neck and head down as low as possible. With the way Spot is built,  it’s real easy for her to be on the vertical but not actually be on the bit and using her bod, and since she holds  tension in her underneck, having her as low as possible would help her let go of that tension and free up her back.

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Girl’s got a big beefy neck

At first, Spot wasn’t too sure she wanted to play, but she settled in and was nice and forward. However, when I thought she was on the bit, Megan told me that she was barely on the bit and I needed to work getting her lower as she was still holding out on me. To get there, I needed to connect the outside rein more and really think about driving Spot’s inside hind leg up and into my outside rein while imagining her rib cage being on the bend of the circle. This was a common theme with others as well…that damn pesky outside rein!

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Not quite there yet…

Getting Spot lower required me to really maintain my rein connection but to also keep my inside rein soft and soften the inside corner of Spot’s mouth/jaw so she wouldn’t be inclined to brace. Megan also had to remind me I needed to not stop riding when I got her where I wanted and to not freeze because once I froze Spot would pop back up and get tense again. Spot wasn’t strong enough to keep herself there and it was uncomfortable for her so I couldn’t trust her yet to maintain that position. But damn…when I was able to get Spot working correctly her trot felt HUGE, floaty, and almost too fast. But in reality, it was because she was taking bigger steps, opening up her back, and really swinging through the trot. Also, its funny how during my ride I felt Spot neck and head disappeared and was too low, but watching the video shows how it really wasn’t that low, ha!

 

I was really glad that Megan kept talking to me throughout my lesson, and it helped me connect what I was feeling to what exactly I was doing with my body. Sometimes I can get a little too much into my head and if I’m doing something precisely right, but with Megan inserting herself into my stream of consciousness I was able to focus on what she was saying and to try to execute it. I’m so glad I got tons of video so I can go back and watch and listen to all the good info I missed!

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Once I was able to get Spot a bit more consistently in a lower position, we started to work on figure 8s. I had to work at being less abrupt when changing the direction as I had a tendency to just fling myself over and not help keep Spot balanced through the turn. To keep the figure 8 smooth, Megan had me slightly counter flex Spot in the 1/4 of the circle before switching to the new direction to help prepare her to step into our new outside rein. It took a few times but we had one or two nice figure 8s where I was able to keep her nice and low throughout the whole rein change, but with the times where it wasn’t as smooth, I was able to get back our roundness more quickly. Because I had Nicole and Andy with me I got some sweet video and you can hear Megan coaching in both videos.


And did you hear Megan’s comment about how the Flying Potato is “so uphill” and “so connected through her body” ?! I almost couldn’t believe it when she commented that Spot has the conformation for dressage with her short back, uphill build, and big booty. It was pretty amazing for me to see video of how Spot’s gaits improved when I had her really working through her body, a pretty big night and day difference! Maybe I can get my fancy potato to dance!

I was so glad I had an opportunity to lesson with Megan! I learned a ton,  got some great results, and have a idea of where the path forward is now for Spot and I. Not to mention, I had an awesome time being able to hang out and lesson with Nicole! I’m super excited to work on getting Spot more through and off her under neck in the coming months so we can become more consistent and more comfortable working.

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The Epic Weekend: Pony Sleepover and the WSS 1 Day Event

Again, super late, but whatevs it was a pretty freaking awesome weekend.

With the WSS 1 Day Event approaching, Andy and I got lassoed into helping with the XC timing and stadium timing. Andy has run the timing systems for Cyclocross races and MTB races so it that was perfect, but I had never timed for stadium for so I was a touch worried I might F-up everything and angry eventers would hunt me down. Thankfully, no Peony Lynching occurred.

Since Megan also volunteered to help at the event and L was suppose to be in the area, we had plans for an amazing sleepover ala Saddle Club style, but sadly L couldn’t make it up. ~sad panda~ Megan fell in love with our dog Rio and Rio decided she was pretty cool too.

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How can anyone resist that face?!

Megan and I ended up staying up wayyy too late talking about ponies, why dressage is so hard, jobs, and how to get more ponies. We would decide we were going to bed but then we would go off on another tangent and end up staying up another 20-30 minutes. Such good conversation!

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So much awkward in this photo

We were up early the next day and off to WSS armed with snacks, coffee, and sunblock. I was in charge of setting up the whole stadium timing system which was a bit nerve wracking but I got that shit figured out and made it my bitch by the first couple of rounds. The head jump judge was pretty pleased with my skillz and told the organizers I needed to stay being the timer because she has never had a SJ timing go so well.  It went quite smoothly over in the SJ arena though I wish I could have caught some of the XC  and dressage, maybe next time!

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I GOT THE POWWA!!!

There were over 150 riders for the event so the last SJ round was the Intro Level which seems quite attainable for The Flying Potato and I. 2 ft max? Love it. Also, I heard that the XC portion was smaller than anything we had schooled at Camelot the month before, so totally doable! I planted a seed into Megan’s head that we should both do an Intro event. Dancing Hippo and Flying Potato at the same event?! Maybe one day soon!!!

Overall, it was a pretty epic and exciting weekend! It was so much fun hanging out with Megan and being able to help the even run smoothly while being able to watch some talented riders and horses jump sticks. I highly recommend volunteering if you get the chance!

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Blogger Photo!

 

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The Flying Potato goes to the show!

We went to a  schooling show a few weeks ago,  so I’m a bit late on our recap!

Getting Spot to a few dressage shows this year is a goal on my 2016 Goals list and we were able to make it to one a few weeks ago at UC Davis. I decided to just do Training 1 as it would be Spot and I’s first show together and didn’t want to explode both our brains.

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She’s really good at giving me the mare side eye

As a generally tense and hotter mare, my toughest challenge is getting Spot to relax and loosen up so she is able to come through her back and be the fancy pony she is. Seriously, the mare can be really fancy when she wants to be so she can’t lie to me anymore about not being able to be fancy. In the weeks prior to the show, during our rides and lessons we really worked on figuring out what was the best way to help Spot and I be more relaxed. I’ve realized that we need a pretty long warm up to get to a sweet “ok time to work” place as well as a 20 minute walk session before we start trotting. After a few laps of trot I bump up into 2- point canter,  let her cruise around for a bit, then start adding in my shallow counter canter loops to get her thinking about bending and being soft.

We also worked A LOT on our free and medium walks because Potato Homegirl thinks walking is dumb and for slow people horses. Spot thinks jigging is the way to go. -_-  I worked on this with her by shortening and lengthening my reins during our walk breaks at interments times while being more aware of the walk rhythm in my hips and legs. Our walk work has definitely improved and during our last test run throughs we actually had a decent free walk! Yay for potentially not getting a 3 or 4 on our walk? One could hope.

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Why walk when you can run?!

Since our ride time was early (9:50) we loaded up without any problems (thank god) and got to UCD early so we could have some time to settle and have a decent warm up. She unloaded great, looked around, and then started on her hay net while I went and checked in. So far so good! Our warm up was uneventful even with the warm up ring being right next to the freeway, but in hindsight I should have cantered more so Spot could loosen her back up. Good notes for next time though!

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Wut u want? Give me carrots

 

Our test went relatively well! We had a nice straight centerline and halt, but when it came time to trot down towards C Spot spooked hay bale judges booth so I cut the corner short and proceeded on with the test. Our biggest mistakes were picking up the wrong lead on the 20m circle right and break in our canter going down the long side. BUT! We had a pretty honest medium walk and pseudo-free walk!!  Success! Spot was definitely tense and off the bit which was reflected in the judge’s comments, but honestly all I was looking for at this show was to get us some practice away from home. We ended up getting a 61%, which surprised me because I thought we did a lot worse, but I’ll take it. Spot and I were able to hold it together and I know we will just get better with more time and experience.

 

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Success! Didn’t die!

 

I’m looking forward to the next set of schooling shows I plan on going to! My hope is that we can show T1-T3 and maybe do a small rated show at Training? We’ll see!

 

 

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Wordless Wednesday: Spot’s Doppleganer

I follow a few polo pony breeders from Argentina on Instagram and there are always some Spot lookalikes that they post pictures of. Them Argentine ponies really do have a look about them! Makes me want to go to Argentina so bad.

Spot:

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Doppelganger Spot:

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Spot:

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Doppleganger Spot:

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Eventing Camp: Day 2

Eventing Camp Day 2 dawned bright and early as sleeping in a tent means you’re up at the crack of dawn. We were so tired the night before that I passed out super fast, so fast that I said screw it to a shower. I felt bad for Andy, but we when you’re married being stinky together is part of the deal. 😛

The first group that went was schooling the BN/N questions and it was really fun to watch my buddies go and listen in on what Trainer A had to say. The more I watched the more I was thinking “this looks super fun”. Andy kept commenting about how fun it looked too and how the XC field would make a sweet mountain bike trail.

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So green and pretty

The “baby” group from Day 1’s stadium jumping was the last group to go so we were able to watch a bunch of others play in the XC field before having to tack up. Spot was much better this time in the warm up ring, but once we headed out to the course she started to get amped again. Ironically, she decided she had to lead the group out and powered walked/jigged her way out. I think the wide open spaces and running around with several horses reminded her of polo again. I haven’t played polo in so long that I forgot what she was like to play and I honestly got a bit nervous which most likely fed into her.

We started off with a simple tiny log on the ground, which at first Spot totally balked and was like “NOPE!”, but once we got over it she decided it was fine. Mares. The only problem was The Flying Potato wanted to take off  after each little jump and thought it would be fun to throw her head and be a little hot potato. Not fun when you’re already nervous about your first time going XC.

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Ready for take off. She looks so beefy in this photo

 

The whole time on the XC course I really was trying to keep Spot in check and not let her run off with me. She was getting pretty strong and my soft, gentle dressage french link wasn’t quite giving me enough breaks, so we decided next time we needed a flash and a running martingale. Spot is so strong now from so much dressage work that she can use her big neck and booty against me. Besides her wanting to gallop off and her small broncing fits, she was great otherwise. She jumped all of the things I pointed her to and didn’t refuse a thing! Color me impressed for The Flying Potato’s first time XC schooling and 2nd time jumping.

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Spot looks so cute in this photo. Wish I could say as much for my position. -_-

 

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Baby down bank…I’m glad I wore my brown breeches.

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Fallon says “WHEE!!”

Then we all went over to the water complex. Oh, the water complex that I had been slightly dreading/nervous about all weekend. The last time I tried to get Spot into water she promptly bucked me off because she was having none of it. I really didn’t want to repeat that experience but Trainer A and B (and pretty much everyone else) was pretty confident we would be able to get Spot in. All the other horses went straight in and Spot and I hovered on the edge of the complex with the very tips of her front feet touching the water. We danced along the edge a few times when I encouraged her to take a step into the monster filled lagoon when Andy and Fallon came over to stand by us to see if we could coax Spot to follow Fallon. Surprisingly enough, it kinda worked! Step by step we got all four feet into the water and when she put her head down to sniff the “lava” she realized it was just water. Spot started to paw the water quite vigorously and when I asked her to walk on she moseyed her way across the lagoon like it was no big deal.

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Suspicious Potato

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Wait..this is just water? Not horsie lava?

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RWAR!!!

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Fallon is like “What are you doing?”

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Water? No biggie

After a few times of walking through the water, we got brave and trotted and cantered through it! This next video is pretty funny…I thought I would steer Spot towards an opening we hadn’t gone through and she slammed on the breaks like there was a monster living in that part of the water.

We eventually made it over to the “scary” side of the pond and had a few more canters through the water without a hitch. I was so proud of Spot and proud that we were able to conquer all of the things that day. She did everything I asked her to and she trusted me enough to do it. Nicole  took most of these amazing photos, but this one is my favorite by far:

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So proud

In fact, when she sent me this photo I pretty much burst into tears. My horsie mom heart couldn’t take it and it gave me all the feels.SO SO PROUD of my little potato.  I thought we would never be able to go through water, let alone canter through it, and we accomplished both. I thought Spot wouldn’t like jumping, but boy was I surprised.

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I BELIEVE!!!

I had such an amazing time at Eventing Camp and I’m so glad I was able to go. I learned a ton and had so much fun. Maybe this is the start of a new eventing career for Spot and I?! Maybe!!

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