Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Silkeborg Show

At out most recent show right in Silkeborg, sitting at the side of the arena, I was reminded of yet another valuable piece of Pam's (Goodrich) advice: Don't win the warm-up.  I got to watch a good bit of both warm up and competition.  I was watching an L class, which is equivalent to First Level (this is also the level I competed in.) 

I saw both young horses with professionals, and school horses with inexperienced riders.  It is intimidating to see some of these young horses move... they are unbelievable.  The combination of being well ridden and environmentally stimulated (thus moving with their toes around their ears and their hocks hitting their stomach!) makes them seem unbeatable.  But I observed many horses go into the competition ring and change. For some, their gaits became earthbound when the whip was taken away since it is not allowed to show with a whip here. Some hot horses were unable to deal with the change of venue and were excused. I saw some sloppy riding and careless mistakes. It was a good reminder that every movement counts equally, whether it is an extended trot or a halt.  

It seems obvious to take your best performance into the competition arena, but it is also easier said than done.  Test riding is a skill that is completely different from the ability to train and ride a horse at home. During a competition, it seems nearly impossible to make a correction that looks effortless, continue to ride an accurate test, and most importantly, train and help the horse so it doesn't happen again. I have always tried to figure out what exactly makes a good show rider because I personally find it difficult, as I think many do!  It is so frustrating to have a great warm up, but then upon entering the arena have things fall apart. I am constantly trying to figure out this odd mixture of criteria.  I was happy with my second test on Dino because I was able to ride through it and he was right there with me.  It is a lot to ask of any horse, especially a 5 year old! 

 Precious.  Bob likes the bike too! 
 Yearlings, 2 year olds and pony.  New field yipee! 
 Learned a new braiding technique.  
 Dino and I at the show. 
4th place, 69%!
9:45 pm awards!
 Volunteering as jump crew at the show (Kathryn in red hat)
 The jumping field.
 Volunteering in the kitchen at the show.  Out of my comfort zone!
Off road. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Off the 20m circle!

This post won't involve horses.  Another show is coming up in a few days, so we are busy getting ready!  It is right down the road (10 min away) so that will be a nice change.  Everyone is doing well and the horses and humans are enjoying the "balmy" weather!

For those who read this and don't know me well, I love being outdoors and taking photos.  It is a treat that it stays light until 10:30pm, so I have time after work to relax and get in better shape.  I have been walking and jogging close to the farm, but I couldn't resist going a little bit farther in my exploration.  So... I bought a bike!  Sarah helped me check local classifieds and then we headed into town to look around.  The first bike we saw rode like a champion and was the right price.  That was easy!  We brought it home and I immediately went out on my first adventure.  What started as a flower picking, music listening, photo taking ride ended at 11:00 pm with me calling home for a rescue!  I am still laughing because getting lost is not something I do often, as I have a keen sense of direction.   However, it is not so keen when street signs mean nothing and miles accumulate because I can't resist seeing what is over the next crest.  When the sun went down and I had been riding for almost 2 hours, I decided to call Sarah.  After the slow process of figuring out where I was, she came to the rescue with her car.  Thank goodness for a boss with a sense of humor.  The new rule is that I can bike in a circle attached to a lunge line so I don't go too far.  

After work on a particularly "hot" day, Hannah decided she wanted to go to the beach.  We opted for a local lake instead of driving a few hours to see the ocean.  It had several docks to lounge on and even a sand beach.  We had a lot of fun and will be revisiting soon, or at least as soon as the temperature soars over 75 degrees again!

My second bike ride was equally as intriguing, but ended with me finding my own way home.  There were a few side streets I wanted to explore and it paid off.  I found a field full of sheep and lambs.  At first I scared them, but when I hopped the fence and sat down they quickly resumed their business and even came to investigate me.  There are some beautiful farms very close by and numerous fields with corn, hay and barley.  Morten suggested a short cut back from town and I went to investigate.  I was glad I wasn't in a rush and had my camera, because it was not shorter at all and challenged my "ladies cruising bike" with obstacles like rocks, sand, hills and mud.  It was a gorgeous day and the scenery was equally as noteworthy.  So, I took my time and enjoyed having nowhere else to be.  I have since completed several more bike rides without incident.  Kathryn joined me yesterday and we bought a cake en route. The cake did not fare so well in the bike basket because the road was bumpy, so we just cut our losses and ate it on the side of the road.  Oh well, if that is our worst problem...  :) 

 Tyson relaxing 
 My new bike! First ride on hay day. 
 Checking out the local hayfields.
 Lost.  But I picked some nice wild flowers!
 Kathryn and Hannah at the lake.
 Hannah, Kathryn and I at the lake.
 Feet in the water.  
 Not bad for a lake! 
 Second bike adventure, climbing into a sheep pasture. 
 Friendly sheep.
 Just passing by...
Should have bought a mountain bike :)
 More curious farm animals. 
 Had to turn around, never found out where this road lead!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Second Show

I am happy (and late) to report that the second show was a success!  All the young horses were great again.  I still can't believe the maturity and confidence these 4 year olds have away from the farm!  In the 4 year old class, there are 2 horses in the arena and the judge calls out what to do.  This can get a little confusing because I don't speak Danish, so I do a lot of following and looking around.  I understand some words, like the gaits, but it is safe to say I have a lot to learn.  I placed in a huge classes with solid scores (7.6 and 8.1).  In the FEI 5 year old class I placed 5th with a 7.9.  Dino and I were more in sync than at the last show and the test was much improved.  He is also such a confident horse who likes to show off, so once I trusted him and didn't hold him back it was a lot of fun! The show was about an hour away at a riding club.  We took 6 horses all together so it was a busy day.  Kathryn and Sarah rode as well.  Our next show is in a few weeks so we are busy preparing for that already.  I am so excited and appreciative I have the opportunity to show here!  

Bogdan went home to Romania for a month, so us 3 girls have been doing all the work around the farm.  I learned to drive both tractors (one for dragging the arenas and the other for lifting hay and straw) which was very entertaining!  They are quite different from the Kubota I drove in America.  I am finally getting the hang of it but at first it was a little scary!  We also use the tractors to move and stack the dirty straw and bring water to the horses who live outside.  I worked my first weekend alone and survived.  I was tired, but it wasn't so bad.  I cleaned all the stalls and turned out the horses.  Needless to say, I will be a little relieved when he is back to help us in the barn! 

I was really excited when my old friend Kaja (who I met while working at Hilltop Farm in 2009) contacted me and said she would be 40 min away in Denmark!  She drove up to the farm and I gave her a tour before we went into Silkeborg and had dinner.  It was so nice see her again and to catch up.  I miss home a lot but I am very happy here.  Time continues to fly by... I can't believe it is the middle of the summer already.  As the lone American, I celebrated the 4th of July by watching a video of fireworks my Dad sent me.  Hope everybody is surviving the heat (guess I should specify I am talking about New England!)... it is a comfortable 70 and sunny here :) 

 Awards for 4 year old class (I am on the far right)
 10th place out of 43 with a score of 8.1! 

 Kathryn and Zap Zap (5 year old)
 Dino and I (5 year old) 
 Home cooked lunch 
 Home cooked dinner
 Tyson (the barn dog) eating pizza
 Artsy shot of the new footing in the outdoor
 My new buddy Tyson 
 Meet my new friend...
 ...And his big brother!
I can't resist art
Kaja and I at dinner.  American/ Hilltop reunion!!