Monday, October 1, 2012

Quiet Laughter...

Wow, again I have neglected my blog in favor of riding, reading, fall TV and just plain laziness. Epic Fail! But enough about my lack of enthusiasm, let's get to blogging! I saw we start off with DJ since he usually ends up in the backseat due to all of Buddy's show adventures.

The end of July was my first show with DJ since 2009. Nervous was not enough of a an adjective to describe how I felt about bringing him back to the show world. I knew he wouldn't be bad or crazy, I feared he wouldn't be accepted. We had had many years doing (what I now can see was mediocre) 2nd level resulting with less that encouraging marks from the judges at open shows. Along with the remarks came bitterness, discouragement and confusion. I felt myself constantly asking "Why didn't they like my horse?" "He did all the moves and he wasn't crazy, why I am scoring in the low 50's?" "Do they not like him because of his breed?" (yes, in fact that was a problem with one judge but that's a story for another time!). All of these thoughts would run through my mind and unfortunately at the time my education could not help me rectify the situation. Since moving down here, my riding has changed drastically and even though DJ is not my usual lesson mount he gets to partake in my riding reinvention through the homework I obtain. He has become more balanced and confident and even though he turned 18 in May, he has also become more athletic. Because of this, it was time to dip out proverbial toe back into the waters of competition. Luckily, the show I picked was only half an hour away so that meant showing out of the trailer, thank goodness! Our first day was a good learning experience. The test was tight and very quick, the changes were not really clean and VERY braced which resulted in a 56%. Understandable, it was his first time back and I put a bit too much pressure on myself thinking that this might not be the best idea I've had. After getting my test back and reading, rereading and re-rereading the comments as well as multiple views of the video, I knew what I had to do the next day for better scores. I came back Sunday was a fresh view and a new game plan. I fixed what needed fixing in the warm-up, practiced a couple of changes and went in to try again. The test was much smoother but the changes were still bleh although they were clean this time! Our homework paid off and we were given a 61%!!! DJ gave me my second to last score needed for my Bronze medal. I couldn't have been more proud. Again, I read, reread, and re-reread my tests then made a plan to take DJ out again before the season was over (I'll elaborate on that trip a little but later).

August was Buddy's month.  I had taken him to see Dr. Bob Grisel from Atlanta Equine for a second opinion and follow up after his little "incident" when he jump the fence. Just want to let you all know that Dr. Grisel is AWESOME and so are his staff. They extremely knowledgeable, patient, and pleasant to work with. Dr. Grisel travels a lot so if he comes to a city near you, go meet him and have your horse checked to make sure everything is running properly, you won't regret it!!! Back to my story...We were given the go ahead to go back to work, so that is exactly what we did. Championship time was looming ever closer and the first one would be cutting it a little close but I figured we'd try anyways since we qualified. I signed up for the NCDCTA Championships and we rode our butts off before the show. I asked Lynn to have a lesson on the Friday before the classes started. She hadn't seen him since the June show and before his injury. Honestly, it was probably one of the best lessons we have ever had! He was so spot on I had great hope for the weekend...(now comes the reason for the blog title) Have you ever heard the saying, we make plans and God laughs? That basically summed up my weekend. Saturday and Sunday came around and my wonderful, talented, and willing horse went back to being my crabby, unwilling, UBER tense mule in the show ring. The scores were in the low sixties and nowhere near the quality of work he had been putting in the weeks before. I'm not sure if he was exhausted or just having a bad weekend but boy, was it discouraging. We went from the previous day of being so awesome to going down the centerline trying to mimic the body posture of a giraffe gazing at the heavens. As Charlie Brown so appropriately put it "UGGGGHHH!!!" We ended up fourth for the Championships but my pride took a pretty good beating. I eventually snapped out of it and now am working towards Championship #2, the CBLMs.

Finally, we arrive at last weekend. Remember I said I was going to sneak in one last show with DJ? Well, I decided to take him to down to Pinehurst for that last attempt of finishing my Bronze. The week before I had his teeth floated and feet done so all would be set for the show. During his floating, my vet noticed some sores on the inside of his mouth that we initially thought were caused by calcification that was lingering on his bit. I thoroughly cleaned the bit (Now, don't think badly of me. I clean my bit after every ride but what I thought was hurting his mouth is the white/yellow stuff that sticks to the bit like glue after a while), started applying GlyOxide to heal the sores and bought my new favorite product in the whole wide world Bit Butter! It worked like a charm! The sores were healing quickly and my pony was softer in the bridle and worked his tail off at home for me. I felt great going to the show. We arrived on Friday with time to sneak in a quick ride. I wanted to make sure both of our jitters were gone so they would not hinder us come show day. He rode around like a champ and gave me quiet beautiful changes. This was going to be a great weekend...wait, do you hear that?? Yea, that would be God laughing again. Saturday was an utter catastrophe. We didn't ride until 3:27 so I had the whole day to sit around and think, not such a good thing. I took DJ for hand walks and made sure he was clean and happy. Somehow, I didn't plan correctly with all that extra time and only gave myself about 28 minutes of warm-up. Warm-up was tight, tense, heavy and overall unpleasant. I couldn't figure out what the problem was until about 8 minutes before my time. I had forgotten his Bit Butter. I tried to convince myself that it couldn't make that much of a difference. Boy, was I wrong! To sum up that test, I had people stopping to watch the rodeo that had my test had morphed into. There was excessive running (head up in air style), plank straight laterals and emergency braking. It was a red hot train wreck!!! I got back to the barn and untacked trying to think of why that was such a colossal failure, then I checked his mouth. The wounds were back and twice the size they were previously! I felt AWFUL!!! I spoke with some of my friends and show neighbors about the problem and the general consensus was that my bit was old enough that the outer layer had worn away and the under layer of a different type of metal was causing a very bad reaction to the inside of his mouth. I checked the trailer for other bit options but was left with ones that were too large or illegal for licensed dressage. I even went to the tack store on site to try and purchase another but alas, they didn't have any either. My plan changed to trying warm-up the next morning with an excessive amount of Bit Butter and see what he did. If it was bad we would scratch. He was much happier with some added lubrication so we attempted the test again. The changes were still a disaster but the rest of the flowed much better bring our 5s up to 6.5s and a couple of 7s. We ended with a 56 % and really positive comments from the judges. His old bit is in the trash so it cannot cause anymore harm and the quest for a new bit has begun. DJ's show season is over but we will spend the winter working extremely hard on 3rd level to get that last score in the Spring. Buddy and I will be off on the 17th to our beautiful home away from home, Lexington, Virginia, home of the Virginia Horse Center. Hopefully, this outing will be a bit more successful that our last. But, we will not be making any definite plans for what will happen at the show and I will keep my ears open for that ever so quiet laughter from above.