Woodbine Dressage Show: Part III

I was bursting with pride after her second test. She kept the gerbils in the same general direction and harmed no one in the process. Sure, she was more giraffe than dressage horse, but this show means we are one step closer to become a real dressage pony.

All done and all smiles.

All done and all smiles.

I won’t keep beating the fact that I’m really happy with Nibbles. I wanted to comment on the experience of the show itself. The horse world can get a really bad rap because of how selfish and nasty people can be. I had the exact opposite experience my first time back after 5 years and I think it’s important to talk about.

Other Competitors

I did not hear one word of gossip or body shaming. Everyone clapped politely and, if anything was whispered, it was about how cute the horse was or how we understood their pain. Half pass is hard, canter serpentines are hard, your horse screaming in the middle of the test happens to us all. No one tore anyone down and it was fantastic.

Case in point: I showed up at an open show with an Arabian. Not only were there a handful of other Arabians, I overheard people saying nice things. “Wow, that horse has presence.” “Oh, she’s spirited and beautiful.” “How striking!” Standing on the sidelines, I don’t think people realized I was this horse’s owner which was a great opportunity to potentially hear them talking out of the side of their mouths. If you’re looking for another story about people tearing each other down, you won’t find it here. Not today.

Does it get any more adorable?

Does it get any more adorable?

The Judges

Judges get a bad rap sometimes too. They’re the people who remind you that Ponykins isn’t perfect and your riding needs work. That is, you know, what you pay them for. Nibbles didn’t even break 60% at Intro level. That should hurt, right? Not at all! She is 90 days under saddle and had never been away from “home”. You know what else, the judge took the time to tell Trainer E (who was of course riding) that she thinks she rode the horse well and to come back.

The judge I watched  most of the day (who judged Nibbles) was nice to other riders as well. She made small talk with them when they entered and thanked each and every one of them at the end of their test. She was smiling and she was kind. It was clear she made it her goal for everyone to have a positive experience.

If you want to make fans of your sport, that right there is how to do it. Did Nibbles keep it together? Most of the time barely. Did she show off her mad skillz? Absolutely not. Will I do it again? Yes, tomorrow, please, as soon as possible!


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All in all, Nibbles’ first dressage show is in the books and only made me hungry for more. One day, she will trot down the centerline like a civilized pony. This day was not that day but we made a deposit in the confidence bank and had a lot of fun doing it.

Woodbine Dressage Show: Part II

We last left our heroes in the warm up ring by themselves. Nibbles was very tense and thought going sideways was the answer to leg. Again, Trainer E showed a lot of wisdom and was careful about which fights to pick and which to let go. By the time they were to go into the ring, we had forward reinstalled but Nibbles’ preferred to go around with her nose in the air and all the tension thank you very much.

oh Nibbles, you will learn shows are fun and not terrifying

oh Nibbles, you will learn shows are fun and not terrifying

I present to you what is possibly the most tense baby dressage test ever.

If scores for “tranter” were a thing, she would have nailed it. Alas, they are not a thing and she nailed almost nothing. I had a blast watching. I cheered like a lunatic when they saluted. She stayed in the arena (although around 1:16 in the video you can see she thinks about it) , she didn’t kill her trainer, she didn’t injure the judge. Huge massive baby success!

salute - love this photo

salute – love this photo

I don’t think you can hear it on the video but the judge is totally and completely nice. At the end of the test, she thanked Trainer E and sagely added, “This is where it all starts.” Trainer was really pleased with her and concurred it was a good first experience. Super-de-duper tense but a positive learning experience and that’s what we were going for. She was scored a fair 54.8%. and pinned 4th out of 4. She did get a white ribbon so yay unexpected satin (for beating no one hahaha).

Her first test was around 8:30am and her second test wasn’t until 1:30pm so we had plenty of time to hang out and watch other riders go. I felt like I was home, even though I wasn’t riding. It hit me how much I missed showing and how glad I was to be back on this path.

As they went by, she said "Quick judge us now!" ha!

As they went by, she said “Quick judge us now!” ha!

About half an hour before her second test, it was time to head back to the warm up. Things started off spicier than the morning even though she was very laid back in her stall. She didn’t seem too pleased that it was two rides in one day.

You horse for the day, I'm done. This photo sums up a lot about the various attitudes.

You horse for the day, I’m done. This photo sums up a lot about the various attitudes.

The main warm up only had one other horse in it and was being dragged so in Nibbles went. Go figure, she could care less about the giant tractor. We joked that we wanted to request that she follow it around because she went quite nicely when she could follow it around the warm up.

Nibbles got the boot once because she was way behind the leg. That resulted in two pretty pathetic bucks. In her trainer’s words, Nibbles never does anything dirty. Her “no’s” aren’t really no so much as don’t wannas. She said she never feels like she’s in danger which is really awesome to hear because I am not a professional and this is supposed to be fun. I’m totally convinced Nibbles is the right horse for me after seeing what it looks like when her brain explodes. Frankly, it isn’t that bad (although Trainer E made it look like a cake walk sooo).

Intro Test B. It seemed to go better to us but the judge was still fair with her 58.0% this time, no surprise satin.

Again, tense is the word of the day but I feel like you see a couple nicer moments. I cannot emphasize enough how nice the judge was. She made my day with her comments on the second test.

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Stay tuned for Part III: the aftermath and overall thoughts!

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!

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

Tack Haul

In preparation for the show next weekend (!!), I did a little online shopping for some bits and bobs I needed. We all know how this goes – you go to order what you need and it up with a few, if not several, wants. It’s been a long time since I’ve bought more than grain for my girls so this was long overdue.

First up was a sale at Higher Standards. I’ve been coveting their products and several friends told me how great they were. They had a 20% off coupon so I ordered straight away. I got them in the mail yesterday and I can’t wait to try them. I didn’t clean my bridle all week in anticipation of using the new goodies. For starts, the soap sure smells good! I chose Woody’s Confidence blend (citrus-rosemary). I’ll let you know what I think after I try them tonight.

Higher Standards

So excited to try these!

With the weather we’ve been having in Kentucky, I’ve been really frustrated with not having a dress sheet or cooler to use on Nibbles after I bathe or hose her. The wind has been a monster and it really chills her. Plus, I wanted something to help keep her clean after her show bath next weekend. So my mom sent me a link to a braided dress sheet at Schneiders for a really great price.  I also needed some new show sheen, hoof polish and the like so I decided to make one relatively large order.

Dress Sheet

Better photos coming

For the price, the dress sheet is surprisingly nice! I’ll take photos when I put it on her. I opted for black before I really didn’t want BRIGHT red or neon green. I also bought two pairs of No Bows because I’ve actually never owned any. I’ve always just used cotton quilts underneath polos. I’m really excited to finally have a pair. Plus, after fifteen years, I lost one of my quilts and Nibbles has more than three legs.

No Bows

There’s more in there than just No Bows…

In addition to the Show Sheen (a staple) and clear hoof polish (black is illegal for sporthorse in-hand), I also picked up a couple tubes of Quietex. It IS her first show, even though she’s normally a very good girl. I picked up a cheapy sanding “sponge” to try. It was something like $2 and I don’t have my own power sander so I thought it’d give it a whirl on her hooves and see how it works.

Yay goodies!

Yay goodies!

I finally got my own supply of Sore No-More. Nibbles has been ever so slightly puffy in her hind suspensories – and I mean ever so slight. No heat, no pain, and she’s not off. But I want her legs to be as clean and tight as possible for show day. Plus, I was completely out of poultice and you never know when you’ll need it! Last was the spitfire paper, of course.