Woodbine Dressage Show: Part I

Nibbles’ first show is in the books and was a positive experience for all involved – goal accomplished! The weekend wasn’t without its highlights and struggles though so a blog post or two is in order.

Trainer E gave her some lovely rides, tension and all.

Trainer E gave her some lovely rides, tension and all.

My sister, Leah, and I arrived at Nibbles’ training barn in the early afternoon on Saturday. Trainer E was still teaching lessons for the day so we set out to find Nibbles ourselves and start cleaning her up. The plan was to load her and her barnmate at 6:00pm that day. It took us a while but we finally spotted Nibbles who was missing her fly mask and had her fly sheet halfway off. Oh, mare.

Nibbles looked amazing and actually quite clean. Still, this was her first show ever and my first show with my own horse in it in 5 years so I wasn’t about to miss the opportunity to make her shine. Into the bathing stall she went and two thorough baths later, she emerged looking quite brilliant if I do say so myself.

Drying in the sun. Not bad for just shampoo and elbow grease.

Drying in the sun. Not bad for just shampoo and elbow grease.

Elise had a lesson show up late so we ended up with time on our hands to kill. Tack was cleaned, necessities were packed, obviously we needed to have a photo shoot.

sun y u so bright

sun y u so bright

sooo shiny - and she's getting more and more flecks of white (and has kept the white spot on her belly). sabino?

sooo shiny – and she’s getting more and more flecks of white (and has kept the white spot on her belly). sabino?

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can u not, human?

can u not, human?

majestikal

majestikal

Finally it was time to load the trailer. Shavings, hay, grain, brushes, all the tack, extra pads. It turns out the one thing we really needed but forgot was chairs. I’ll take it.

Pony got wrapped (and stood quietly, yay manners) and loaded. She took maybe 10 minutes to get on. It was a step up she’s never seen before and, to her credit, her last trailer ride was 8 hours. She’s never been a trailer that she returned home on except her breeding inspection so I can’t blame her for not being thrilled.

At the show grounds, we quickly lost daylight but the mares settled in quickly and without drama. We were pleasantly surprised with how mellow they were. We took them for a walk and let them see the scary white dressage arena. Nibbles had never seen one before, let alone been ridden in one. It was a non-issue. We put them in their stalls and said goodnight, making a pitstop at Panera to finally feed ourselves around 10:00pm.

this was as long as I could get her to stand still

this was as long as I could get her to stand still

Sunday morning couldn’t arrive quickly enough. Surprisingly, I slept pretty well considering how excited I was. When we arrived back at the show grounds, I opted to talk Nibbles for a walk around the grounds. Remember how mellow she was the night before?

lol nope. Let’s just say the rope halter was the only reason I could fly that kite. Hand walking involved a lot of spinning, a little baby rearing, and some screaming (Nibbles, not me). Trainer E came prepared and we gave her a dose of (show legal) Confidence EQ. That seemed to take the edge off.

Nibbles was not the first ride of the day. I got nominated as running braider so I helped get her student’s pony ready. I guess I forgot to snap a photo but trust me when I say this pony is adorable. She also has a monster mane and managed to shake out my braid the first time. That’s never happened before. I redid the braid and that lasted the rest of the day.

After that, it was Nibbles’ turn to get braided. She was good for her mane but wiggly for her forelock. Luckily, my fingers remembered that they could braid anything, standing or otherwise, so we got it done.

She shook out her braid too. I redid it before her second class.

She shook out her braid too. I redid it before her second class.

Trainer E had mentioned the night before how calm the warm up usually is at Woodbine. Famous last words, when we took Nibbles out about 20 minutes before her class, there were about 20 horses in a moderately sized area. You could see the gerbils in Nibbles’ brain start to panic so we opted for a different warm up ring that no one else was using. Given it was right before her first test ever, Trainer E wisely picked her battles and decided the warm up area was one for another time.

Up next: the actual tests!

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On Spooking and Sunburns

Nibbles and I rode on Friday and Saturday. Friday was uneventful. She’s still not super keen to trot more than a few strides at a time. The fact that the arena footing is very deep in some places doesn’t help her lack of balance. I know they’re working on fixing that. On Saturday, we had our first bout of spooking under saddle. She warmed up well for the most part, a little looky but that’s not horribly uncommon for her. Unfortunately, some sort of bike ride included the road the farm is on which the arena overlooks. So in addition to people barreling down the road in trucks with various things attached, banging away, she also had to deal with bikes whizzing by. I’ll be thankful for the desensitization one day.

Anyway, during Saturday’s ride, I think she happened to kick sand onto the arena gate when she was walking by. Not sure why it set her off but it did. She bootscooted hard and spun. While it surprised me, I was pleased to realize hey, I can still sit that! In fact, it didn’t phase me at all and I just reassured her and talked to her then set her off walking again. The next time, she caught site of a bike through the trees and decided it was time to scoot again. Given, these aren’t large spooks – she just tucks her butt and wheels in the opposite direction, ready to bolt. She is quick about it too! Darn little Arabians. But again, I sat it no problem and reassured her that, in fact, the bike was gone and was not going to eat her today.

After we walked a few more laps, I called it a day because I wanted to end on a positive note. In a way, I’m glad to have our first couple of “spooks” out of the way. Call me crazy but it was confidence building for me that I can handle that sort of thing even though it’s been a while since I was riding/breaking babies regularly.

Saturday was hot here – it was 82°F and there was absolutely no breeze. Nibbles was pretty soaked after a 20 minute ride. So we untacked and I hosed her then scrubbed her legs with some medicated shampoo to keep the scratches at bay. It was then that I really noticed her poor nose.

No ears for you today, mom.

No ears for you today, mom.

That picture was taken at sundown but her nose really is pretty pink. And scabbed and painful. Poor thing! I’m buying her a fly mask with a long nose to see if that doesn’t help. Because of her blaze, her nose has been pink in the summers but I don’t think it’s ever gotten this bad. I can tell she actually is apprehensive when I put on or take off her halter because it bumps her nose. I’m slathering it with sunscreen in the meantime and hopefully can pick one of these badboys up at the tack shop on the way out to ride tonight.

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After her bath, she promptly rolled in the pasture. Lucky for me, it was just in the grass. For whatever reason, she doesn’t aim for mud or dirt.

Sweet freedom.

Sweet freedom.

What? You never said I couldn't...

What? You never said I couldn’t…

Does anyone have any tips for horses with big blazes/white noses prone to sunburn? 

Best Laid Plans

Not bad for my first braid in a few years

Not bad for my first braid in a few years

For anyone friends with me on Facebook, you may have watched as the events leading up to Sunday’s show unfolded. On Friday, my truck broke down. The mechanic says it needs more than $1,600 of work on the brakes to be safe again (cue second opinion time!). We’re talking hydroboost, master cylinder, rotors and pads. I guess it’s a blessing in disguise that it decided to croak before it was hauling my horse! Anyway, I paid to rent a truck for the weekend.

I went to Rolex on Saturday (post forthcoming!) and then came back to the barn and spent several hours scouring every inch of Nibbles with my sister. Everything got bathed twice. Like I have done for years with other horses, I used a whitening shampoo on her three white socks/stockings. The truck was hooked up, everything was checked, everything was packed, and Nibbles went into her stall for the night.

Leah and I arrived at the barn a little over three hours before the show to touch her up, wrap and load her. I opened up her stall door to say good morning and did a double take. Her three white legs were twice their normal size! Nibbles had an allergic reaction to the whitening shampoo! Her one dark leg was unchanged. Commence panicked cold hosing and hand walking. The swelling actually went down quite a bit but with an hour left, it still wasn’t enough and I had to cancel our plans. The judge would have sent us right back out. Talk about a bummer.

Poor baby

Some banamine, sweat wraps, more cold hosing and hand walking later and Nibbles was back to her normal/beautiful self. This was of course that evening, long after the show was over. To add insult to injury, I had already paid to rent the truck and I cannot get a refund on my show fees. Ouch.

I snapped these photos that morning to offer myself condolences and at least remember how nice she looked, all ready to go.

I did however have a spot of sunshine this morning! I received my socks from Forging Fiction‘s contest in the mail! I can’t wait to wear them in my (first) lesson (in years) on Thursday night.

Thanks, Fiction!

Thanks, Fiction!

Happy Easter!

 

Nibbles says Happy Easter!

Nibbles says Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from Nibbles! Not an actual Easter photo. This one was taken on Friday when I tried her new dress sheet on her. I couldn’t get her ears so enjoy the tongue action. I did, however, go to the barn this morning but not for a particularly good reason. Explanation to follow.

On Friday, following the first arena ride, I spent maybe 40 minutes clipping the poor beastie. I meant to just do the outside of her ears and she pulled and I slipped…and took out a chunk on the inside. So off it all came. She was not particularly thrilled about having her ears done but she really wasn’t that bad. I also did her face/nose and bridle path. After that, we tacked up and headed back to Our Tiny Indoor: hereafter, OTI. Because of how small her circles have to be in OTI, I only lunged her for maybe 5 minutes then hopped on.

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Leah walked next to us like the day before. Then with a little guidance from me, we sent her out on the circle while Leah stood in the center and “lunged” us. I use this term loosely because Nibbles doesn’t require much micro-management. She’s a pretty forward horse naturally so when you send her out, she goes until you change something, whether it’s speed, gait or direction. She felt good at the walk so after discussing with Leah what to do if Nibbles freezes, explodes, bolts, rears, or otherwise panics, she asked her to trot.

Baby’s first trot was…uneventful. Unlike many greenies I’ve been the first on, she didn’t need much encouragement to move out and after one circle, she seemed to have a relatively good feel for how to balance me (for a greenie, that is). I don’t have pictures or video because the humans were preoccupied but YAY! We got a few circles to the left, then a a few circles to the right. Asked for a couple laps then back to the walk and much praising. Very little tension, no blips – what a good girl! So we called it a day and pumped her with sugar cubes.

That’s not entirely true. Her show is a week from today so we washed her mane and tail out for the first time in…6 months? I don’t do it often. Oh, and before the ride, we snapped a couple of shots. I didn’t realize my trailer was in this until after the fact. Oops!

I can't decide which I like better. This one...

I can’t decide which I like better. This one…

Or this one?

Or this one?

Leah and I went to the barn again yesterday with the intent of getting some new photos and video of my other mare who is for sale. Perhaps I’ll do a post on her? Anyway, the plan was to groom and give Nibs the day off. I caught her (aka grabbed her from the gate where she was waiting) and saw that the slight puffiness in her LH was now slightly more than slight puffiness. How’s that technical jargon for ya? To me, it looks like minor edema in the suspensory. I’m wondering if the circles in OTI are too small and making her sore? But then she’s only coming-6 and I’m careful to keep them to a minimum and never more than a medium trot.

As you read in my Tack Haul, I just bought a new jar of Sore No-More so I slapped a poultice on both back legs and put standing wraps on. Nibbles isn’t off and this was the first time there was any heat whatsoever in that LH. I kept her in overnight and I went out at 5am this morning to rinse off the poultice. I don’t have before pictures (go me) but these are after the rinse. It looks pretty much the same as it did yesterday. It seems slightly tender (like yesterday) but again, she doesn’t seem off on it so I turned her back out for the day. Another boarder is checking her for me tonight. Anyone see anything that I don’t below? Just a little swelling on the outside above her fetlock.

photo 3 photo 1-5 photo 2-4

Weekend Warrior

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I’ve been meaning to post an update since Sunday but got busy. My sister came into town and we were able to work both Nibbles and my other mare, Sara, on Saturday and Sunday. The girls were really good and the humans both ended up slightly sunburnt in the 80 degree weather. Did I mention the low was 20 two nights later with snow?

photo (5)On Saturday, I worked Nibbles on the lunge in the back field while Leah took pictures. I intended to put the side reins on but decided against it because she was having to work pretty hard on the hills back there. She did really well for the most part, a few attempts to turn around but they’re getting to be fewer. She was really light and still very forward from the start which was surprising and lovely at the same time. Again, we had 20+ mph winds.

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On Sunday, Leah worked with Sara while I worked with Nibbles so no working photos. I opted out of tack because she’s been tacked up every day for weeks now and I wanted to give her a break. So we worked a lot on cantering which we haven’t been able to do because of ice and mud. I almost forgot how nice her canter is – I can’t wait to ride it. She also got a quick bath (the photo at the top of the post is her afterwards) with no hot water because the barn has been without hot water for months. (grumble grumble)

The horses are getting a break today and it will be back to work tomorrow. In the meantime, I’ve contacted a trainer who lives and trains very close to where I live. I think I’m finally coming to grips with where I am in my riding and what my goals are now that I’m almost half-way through my 20’s and done with college. But that deserves it’s own post. Suffice it to say that I desperately missing having a trainer and taking regular lessons.

 

 

 

Wind-proof

After it took me twice the normal amount of time to drive to the barn due to traffic, I got out of the car to 30mph winds. There was actually a wind advisory for the area. I didn’t just drive an hour to not grab a pony so I grabbed a halter and headed out to the field. The pasture the herd is in is rather large. I would guess about 15 or more acres. Everyone was  at the very back of the pasture and, while Nibbles normally meets me at the front, she either couldn’t hear me or didn’t care to in the wind. So trudging through the mud and wind I went. She met me after a while and, when we started back to the barn, the other horses were following at a quiet walk. About 3/4 of the way there, one of them decides to take off like a bat out of you-know-where, which means that of course the rest of them follow. Poor Nibbles is torn between joining her herd and staying with me. She did stay with me but even after we were in the barn, the horses continued to gallop madly in the small paddock that connects to the back of the barn.

Considering one of those horses is my sales horse and another is into his twenties and recently had a choke scare, I cross tie Nibbles to calm the madness. Apparently wind kills horses now because they were still all on edge. Unfortunately for Nibbles, there is exactly one par of cross ties in this tiny barn and it was a total wind tunnel in the aisle.

Nibbles looked slightly puffy in her LH..maybe slight RH as well? Either way, there was no heat and she hasn’t been off. But with everyone being on edge (Nibbles included), I decided to give her the day off and cold hose those back legs. Mind you, this small barn doesn’t have a wash rack – just a hose on the side of the barn that you can pull around.

Nibbles hasn’t had a bath since…last October? The weather has been just awful and she hasn’t been off the property since December so I’ve just been keeping up with regular grooming. Combine lack-of-baths with insane wind (read: water literally flying sideways from the hose) and you have a snorting Dragon-Arabian mare on the end of your rope. Bless her, she snorted and danced but she stayed in one spot and, without being tied, let me hose her back legs without any problems.

I’m five minutes into hosing when I get a text that they woman who was supposed to feed tonight no longer can so could I please do it. I don’t know if I’ve explained before that this barn does not have a manager – it is 100% self-care. The owners of the farm are very nice but know nothing about horses. Being on a time schedule sucks which meant we got maybe 5 more minutes of hosing before I had to feed so I could make it home at least 45 minutes before bed. (sidenote: I leave my house at 5:00am every morning for the gym, get ready for work, work from 8:30-5:30, head straight to the barn, then get home around 8:15 for bed at 9:00-9:30 to do it all over again.)

Needless to say, it wasn’t a very good night at the barn. Humph. My consolation was that was my sixth day in a row at the barn and I’d gotten a lot done in those days. So what was one blustery, rushed night?

I’m really looking forward to my sister coming in this weekend. It will also be warm enough to bathe and – barring more interruption – Nibbles will finally lose the winter crud that no curry can tackle. No photos because I was flying my Dragon-Arabian kite for most of the night.