Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Seein' Blue

So for starters, do I have any readers? I've never gotten a comment on any of posts, so if I have any readers I'd love for people to comment!!... Please? :(

Anyways, this weekend was a great weekend for the super horse and I. Phoenix has been absolutely foot perfect since he came back from AEC's. I have absolutely no complaints with him. I was struggling with getting along with him because our personalities are sooo different and we were clashing for a while, and in turn I was getting so frustrated with him, and not riding. Phoenix is a difficult horse to ride and needs to be ridden every single day to be at his absolute best. He is a well oiled machine, by no means is he a children's backyard pony. He is an athlete in every sense of the word, he knows he's an athlete, and he is to be treated like an athlete. Well I have ridden almost every single day since he came back from AEC's and he is just so on cue. He's quick to my leg and really coming off my aids. He knows what he's supposed to be doing and for the most part, besides his few hissy fits, he's been fabulous.

On Saturday, we had a cross country schooling at Heritage Horse Park, where we will be competing at Area 4 Championships in late October. It was my first time jumping since probably August, so I was a little rusty. But Phoenix was a good boy. We jumped around a few novices and figured he was bored with that, and decided to bump it up to training. We did some combinations, one of them being an off-set two stride downhill, which he jumped like a dream. I actually got a good gallop out of him, and worked on bringing him back before the jump. Jumping downhill for Phoenix is hard because he likes to pull me to the base of the jump and get on the forehand, so I really have to work my muscles over them. He was perfect! We even jumped our first prelim jump together:) I've jumped prelim on Millennium a lot, but I've never felt Phoenix was on spot enough to jump that high safely yet, but he is finally coming together.

On Sunday, we competed at Heritage Park at the one day event. There were about 60 or side rides scheduled and it was hectic! For the first time at any show I've ever taken Phoenix to, he was relaxed. I was feeling good. We got there at 9 and my first ride was scheduled for 9:30 so I had a very minimal warmup, but somehow we ended up scoring a 23 on beginner novice test b!!! Needless to say, I was ecstatic :) I had just entered in riding a dressage test to warm him up to the atmosphere. We had the actual test for the horse trial portion an hour later, and my trainer wasn't there to warm me up because she was warming up a different student who's first show it was, so I didn't score as well as I had hoped. We got a 28 and were sitting pretty in first place after dressage with I think 10 people in our division. :) I don't feel like getting into detail with the jumping. It was easy and we finished the show with two pretty blue ribbons and more points towards horse of the year, which he is dominating the leader board currently :) We have a novice combined test this weekend, a hunter/jumper show next weekend, the american royal (a big rated hunter/jumper show) the weekend after that, and then area 4 championships two weeks after that! It's going to be a great fall!!!!!

P.S. My internet is being cranky so I will upload pictures tomorrow!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The AEC's that almost weren't...

Here I am again posting after a 3 month break. A lot has happened in our riding since end of May, but it has been too long to try and rehash it now. And that is not what I'm here to post about. I'm here to talk about the American Eventing Championships.

When August 1st rolled around, and the AEC's entries opened, I ran to my parents hoping this year would finally be my year. Unfortunately my sister didn't get qualified, and my mom doesn't like going to events unless both of us are doing it, so she said no. And I was pissed. It's really hard to get better when I can't even show.

Enter facebook.
I posted on my facebook, in more of a vent than an actual plea, saying I wish someone would take my horse to AEC's. I really wanted him to get his shining moment because I really truly believed he could place well or at least top ten.

Enter Carrie Meehan.
Aka my hero. Or life saver. Or superhuman. Or whatever you want to call her. Seriously, she's a freaking amazing rider. She has won the AEC's the past two years in a row in the prelim division, and is basically the bee's knees. She commented on my status saying she had an extra spot in her trailer and didn't get one of her horses qualified so she really wanted to take another horse. She was taking one of her horses in the BN division already and didn't want to drive 20 hours for one horse in beginner novice. So I said come over and ride Phoenix and see what you think about him. If you want to pay your entry for him, you can surely take him and reap any rewards he could potentially win you.

That was two weeks before AEC's so I was really curious how well they could actually place.


So they didn't win :(
BUT THEY CAME PRETTY FREAKING CLOSE!!!!!!




That's right. MY horse is the Reserve Champion for the 2012 American Eventing Championships. Really. It's a dream come true. And I didn't even ride. I owe it all to Carrie who piloted Phoenix from 4T to SECOND place after only riding him for two weeks!!! Maybe if she only rode him for one week they would have gotten 1st? ;) On top of that, she got 5th place on her four year old after only eventing him for like 6 months. She's a bad ass.

I have to admit, it is disappointing that I qualified him and didn't even get to take him. But if we're being completely honest and realistic here, no way in Hell would he have finished as well with me riding him. Now I have another year to try and qualify and go to Texas and hopefully I can place well there! Phoenix comes home this week and it's time for us to kick our asses in gear and prepare for the Area 4 Championships!

Thank you Carrie for giving my horse this incredible experience.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Oh, the places we'll go!

I must say I'm slightly impressed with myself for being prompt on updating this blog! So much has been happening that I have actually had something TO write about!

Anyways, I am on Summer break.. finally! On Sunday morning, I walked downstairs about 10 am after finally being able to sleep in and my sister says "go get ready, we're going to a horse show." Well, okay... if you say so! Lauren rode her horse in the Novice division at Mill Creek two weeks ago and he had a slight melt down in the stadium, so we both have been practicing in it. This particular show was held at Longview Horse Park, the same venue that the trials were at two weeks ago. It's a pretty big show - two days long, with a big hunter derby and $1,000 jumper mini prix (which I entered, btw...)

We arrived around 12:30 and entered.. I entered in one 2'9" class as a warm-up, two 3' classes, and the $1,000 mini prix.

In the warmup ring, Phoenix was being absolutely fabulous. All of the hunter riders were stopping and staring at us, and then my horse trainer came up to me and goes "From afar, before I recognized that was you, I said wow look at that horse!" Definitely boosted my ego. :)

In the 2'9" class, Phoenix went in and did his stuff. Definitely too easy for him because we darted through the course and jump-off, good enough for a 2nd place in a pretty big class.



In the next class, we had a nice clean course and were definitely fast, but we had a few sticky spots. I felt like I kind of just blacked out. When I was done with the course, and getting ready to do the jump off, I leaned over the side of Phoenix and started dry heaving. I seriously felt like I needed to throw up, but because I hadn't eaten anything yet, nothing came out. I asked for a couple breather seconds, and went on to my jump off. We had a flawless jump-off and would have definitely won the class, if not for the very last jump where Phoenix unfortunately pulled the rail.

My trainer made me scratch from the next class because she wanted me to go get something to eat before the mini prix.

In the mini prix, I felt like I had no chance, because I was up against all professionals and actual jumpers. I think I was the only eventer. My sister even asked me to scratch because she felt like I didn't have a chance, and it was the last class of the day and she didn't want to wait around. I figured, what the hell we already entered, and decided to do it anyways. I felt like this course was a turning point in Phoenix and I's relationship. We are finally starting to figure things out. We had a nice, consistent, fast course over bigger jumps (not whimpy BN height) and he didn't fall on his face from getting on the forehand. I was beaming when we finished the course. Before we went back in for the jump-off, my sister (who is a former A/O 3'6" jumper champion 3 consecutive years in a row in MO and KS) was giving me some pointers. My trainer on the other hand, just wanted us to have a good course. I'm too competitive to not want to win, so I definitely listened to my sister. Phoenix and I went in there and ripped through the course with some serious roll backs that I didn't even know he was capable of until then. We had a clean jump-off with a time of 35 seconds. I think the highlight of the show was my sister coming up to me after that course and saying "I don't even think I could've ridden a better jumper course than that." That tickled me pink. Unfortunately, our time was not competitive enough for first, but we were good enough for 5th place which won us 50 bucks! The people that beat me were professionals, so for an eventer, I couldn't have been more pleased.

We have a show next weekend at Heritage Park, debuting at novice and the weekend after that our first recognized novice at Queeny Horse Park! Wish us luck!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Moving on up!

Quick update while I put off studying for my last final keeping me from my summer...

Phoenix and I are entered in a one day trial on June 3rd at Heritage Horse Park and we entered in our first NOVICE! :) Not that huge of a deal to most of you, I'm sure, but this is a big moment for us. The height has never been an issue for me, but now that I have a horse that has all three phases of eventing down, we can finally move on up. But one more thing... I get my wisdom teeth taken out on May 31st... two days before. How badass will I look galloping cross country with blood pouring out of my mouth? :)

We are also entered in the Queeny Park Horse Trials at Novice in St. Louis, Missouri on June 9-10th! I'm so excited. :-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

SEE YOU IN GEORGIA!

WAIT, what?! I disappear for 6 months and return to tell you that I'm qualified for AEC's?! But yes, it's true. And in typical Mallory form, I forget that I have this little blog. However, when it does cross my mind, I think about all the topics I have not covered and all the posts I have not done, and then I think of it as a chore so I put it off for another 2 weeks. BUT HERE I AM! And that's all that counts, right...?



This past weekend was the Mill Creek Pony Club Horse Trials in Kansas City, Missouri. Easily one of the best run events in Area 4 (and with the selling of Briar Fox, it might as well be the only one.) I did not know if I was able to compete because three weeks before the event, Phoenix ripped his chest open somehow in the pasture! It required stitches and the strict instructions not to ride until they were out. Well, he got his stitches out 4 days before the event! I literally had four days to get three weeks of missed fitness  back. Luckily, we were only signed up for beginner novice.

At least he looks sorry.
There were 15 people in my division this past weekend, I think. My only goal was to put in 3 nice rides and end on my dressage score, and if we got lucky and qualified, that'd be cool too. Dressage was at 12:30 for me, so I woke up at 8:30, and was at the horse park by 9:00. I fed, braided, and watched a little bit of dressage. Even with being in my clothes and my horse mostly ready, I still found a way to be late to dressage warmup with lots of stress, because I hate being late! Phoenix put in the most brilliant dressage warmup ever, easily our best flat school yet. In the actual ring, that was a different story, but I have to remember that I never broke 30's with Millennium and Phoenix and I are a still fairly new partnership. When trotting around the ring before going in, he spooked at the judges box and I never really got him back after that. He was interested in watching the crowd and after the free walk, he almost reared up and started to toss his head. On the right lead canter, he picked up the wrong lead so I had to correct that. Other than that, our test was, what I thought, mediocre at best. I was frustrated when I came out of the ring, but people kept telling me it looked pretty good, besides his few diva moments. Even with the worst test we've ever done, he still manages to pull off a 38.6 which placed us in 6th place after dressage. I can't wait to see what scores we can achieve when his centerline nerves go away! Lots more dressage shows for sure.

Down centerline.
All his halts are always square.


In cross country warmup, Phoenix was absolutely awful. He was kicking out at everyone, spooking at everything, and taking off after every jump. He even did the biggest rear I've ever felt, I literally thought I was riding Pegasus. I was not nervous by any means, I mean.. no offense, it's beginner novice. But I was pissed he was being so flippin' rude! The second he left that start box, however, he meant business. He locked onto the first jump and popped over it. He was on cue to all my aids and just ate up the course for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. After the last jump, he took off with me into the crowd... just to let me know he was still himself.

Out of the start box!
"Weeeeeee!" - Phoenix                             
Slowing down to a jump.  Love dis.



Last jump!

Prepare to take off with Mallory in 3... 2... 1....
                                      
Nobody in my division was having trouble with cross country, so we didn't move up. :/ I cannot tell you how stressed I was being in 6th place when I needed ONE MORE 5th place or better to be qualified. I stayed up all night Saturday stressing. Sunday morning, I got to the barn and my sister was already gone doing her show jumping (novice.) I took the alone time to chill with Phoenix and relax. He was relaxed and happily munching on hay. To be honest, I was nervous for show jumping. Anyone that knows Phoenix, knows that he gets on the forehand really heavily and then just barrels downwards and takes off. There is no relaxation time on our show jumping courses; we are constantly fixing something in every single stride. With Millennium, I was just a passenger. I could just sit on him and three strides out figure out what I want to do. With Phoenix, it is not like that. And the last time I even jumped a full course on Phoenix was the first week in April at a jumper show, when I fell off and had to take the ambulance to the ER because I messed up my shoulder really badly (but that's a different srory.) Yeah. Not so good. The height was not intimidating by any means, if anything it was insulting.. but the control portion of it was getting to me. In warmup, he was being his usual douchebag self, rearing when horses would pass by. But he was perfect, over every single warmup fence. He didn't even try and take off. Perfect perfect perfect!!! I was so pleased, literally smiling from ear to ear.



Going into stadium, I knew we were going to lay down a nice ride. Every fence was immaculate. I could have not asked for a better ride. We got to every spot perfectly, and Phoenix was relaxed!!! He didn't try to take off once and I could just tell he meant business. I landed the last jump with the biggest smile on my face and leaned down to say "Thank you" to him, for being such a good boy the whole weekend, and finishing on his dressage score. I could have not been more pleased, than that moment right there. Little victories. Baby steps.

Last fence.
Pats for Phoenix!

I knew as a bare minimum, I placed 6th. At the point, I didn't care if we qualified or not... I was happy with finishing on such a positive note. But the next three riders had rails dropping like flies. Oh cool, we qualified. Wait, WHAT! We qualified! I knew it when the first rider had a refusal at jump one, because she was only ahead by two points, but I didn't say anything. It was kind of a shock. Then they announced the awards, and I ended the weekend in THIRD PLACE. TOP THREE BABY. What a good Phoenix!!!!! But now, I'm qualified for the AMERICAN EVENTING CHAMPIONSHIPS, a goal I have been trying to obtain for three years! On top of that, that was our last beginner novice, as we move up to novice at the Queeny Park Horse Trials the first week of June! Finally. Now we have the whole rest of the season to perfect dressage and stadium, and mentally prepare ourselves to compete with the best of the best in September! WOW! It's really happening!



                                     


Also, on a side note, I got my braces off after five years AND I wanted to show you guys my Phoenix oil painting that I'm working on as a final in my painting class. ONE MORE THING... can I get someone to make me a sweet ass banner for my blog with pictures of Phoenix? I want to re-do it with his XC colors (royal blue) and pictures of him, since I'm no longer competing Millennium. Email me at mal.stvr17@gmail.com or comment on this blog so I can email you the pictures that I want used. Thanks!