Tentative calendar for 2017

Most of the local show calendars have been published, and I spent an hour or so last week combining each organization’s show schedule into one master list. I have a busy work calendar this year, so I wanted to get a clear picture of what local shows I could attend as a competitor.

There are a few local circuits I’ll be chasing points on: Green Country Dressage, Oklahoma Dressage Society, Oklahoma Eventing Circuit, and Sport Of Kings Challenge. I’m not sure if I’ll take the time and money to go to a USEA sanctioned event this year; I’m not nuts about the only recognized show here in Oklahoma, but out of state shows (like last year’s event at Willow Draw in Texas) make for a long and expensive trip. I’m not trying to qualify for the AECs or anything, so I’d rather spend my time and money supporting the schooling shows that are within a 2-3 hour drive and cost significantly less.

Maybe less flying leaps this year.

Here’s what the show schedule looks like for each horse:

02/19/17: Celtic Cross combined test (dressage & stadium)
03/05/17: Sport Of Kings Challenge horse trial
04/09/17: Gallery Farm combined test (dressage & XC)
07/09/17: Sport Of Kings Challenge horse trial
09/10/17: Gallery Farm combined test (dressage & XC)
09/23/17: Southern Hills horse trial
11/05/17: Celtic Cross combined test (dressage & stadium)
12/03/17: Sport Of Kings Challenge horse trial

03/11/17: Green Country Dressage schooling show
05/27/17: Green Country Dressage schooling show
09/16/17: Green Country Dressage schooling show
11/04/17: Green Country Dressage schooling show

I’ll hit all 3 Sport Of Kings Challenge horse trials, and 5 of 8 Oklahoma Eventing Circuit shows with Moe. On Gina, I’ll ride in enough dressage schooling shows to qualify for year end awards; I’d like to get the three-show requirement out of the way earlier in the year, but it just isn’t possible with my work schedule. The last dressage show may be axed from her calendar if she’s uncomfortably pregnant in early November- we’ll see if she even stays pregnant this year! Candy may end up riding along to some of these shows; she may even end up competing in some of them.

More swimming in 2017!

What else do I plan to do this year? Foxhunt, of course! Harvard’s closing hunt is March 25; I plan to hunt as much as possible between now and then, as well as when the season resumes in the fall. I’ll also trail ride in those long, hot summer months (and work on earning some TIP prizes)! Gina will be bred in April, so keep your fingers crossed she’ll stay pregnant. Otherwise, I’ll be hatching a plan to steal my neighbor’s foal once it’s born. (It’s a full sibling to Doug Payne’s former ride Royal Tribute.)

More Rolex!

I’m also planning to attend Rolex this year; I hope I’ll be able to meet up with some of you! I will sadly not be at Dressage at Devon again, as I’ve got a wedding to attend that weekend. (I don’t know why people don’t arrange their weddings around horse shows, jeez.) Work is sending me to World Cup in Omaha in March- if any of you will be there, let me know! I’ll also be at a variety of shows in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, so maybe I’ll get a chance to see more equestrian bloggers.

What are your plans shaping up to look like in 2017?


We are the champions!

This weekend’s weather wasn’t bad enough to keep me from attending the Green Country Chapter of the Oklahoma Dressage Society’s annual awards banquet on Saturday. I’m kind of obligated to go to these things, as I’m the membership chair and de facto show secretary for the group, but I was especially excited to attend this event since Gina and I won an award!

Big bay mare and I were the First Level open division champions in 2016! I feel obligated to mention that we were the only contenders for this division; we certainly aren’t setting records with our scores. We snagged a gigantic ribbon and a tech-fabric shirt for our efforts last year.

I’m planning to show Gina First Level again this year. I know I’m not a good enough rider to take her to Second Level, and I’m not confident she can perform 10 meter canter circles or travers anyway. My only goal for 2017 is to improve on our 2016 scores. I think this is very doable if I stick to my New Year’s Resolution of taking monthly lessons and riding four times per week!

Friday Five

I don’t know what the weather is doing where you are, but it’s supposed to be a mess here in northeastern Oklahoma this weekend. Ponies are snug in their blankets, their stalls are freshly bedded, and I’ve got enough wine and macaroni and cheese to outlast any ice storm!

Here’s what’s on my radar this week:

ONE Thoroughbred Incentive Program’s Recreational Riding Incentive Program

We’re big fans of trail riding and hunting around here!

New for 2017, TIP has expanded their “non-competition awards” to include Thoroughbred owners that regularly ride or drive for recreation! Trail riding, endurance riding, and foxhunting are all included in these awards; all you have to do is download the reporting forms, keep track of the hours you ride, and send the forms and a photo in when you reach an award level. How cool is that?

TWO How Smart Are Horses?

A recently published study from researchers in Japan confirms what equestrians already know: horses communicate with humans, and they’re smarter than most people think they are.

THREE USEF rebrand

The USEF launched a completely revamped website this week; it seems like new president Murray Kessler is beginning his term with a bang! The whole organization has undergone a rebrand, what with new ad campaigns, a new membership option, and a upgraded membership benefits.

FOUR Iroquois Steeplechase

I’ve already made plans to attend Rolex again this year, but I’m thinking of adding Nashville’s Iroquois Steeplechase to my spring calendar, too. I attended the Iroquois a few times when I was still a Tennessee resident, but haven’t been back in years. Some friends and I are thinking of going; it’s the perfect occasion to wear my wedding hat!

FIVE Exquisite Equine Apparel

Many of you probably know Emily and Estella of The Exquisite Equine blog, but did you know Emily also has some stellar t-shirt designs for sale? I’m definitely feeling the “No Money, All Bank” tee!

Hacking at Oologah Lake

Oologah Lake is one of my favorite places to ride, so when my friend Rachael texted me yesterday morning to ask if I wanted to meet her for a spontaneous trial ride, I couldn’t say no! The weather was pretty excellent, too: mid-60s and sunny. (The wind was awful, but when isn’t it in Oklahoma?)

Candy loaded with basically no fuss, which is an definite improvement over every other time I’ve hauled her somewhere. In the past, she’s been very reluctant to get in the trailer at all, and once in, stands trembling until she starts stuffing her face with hay. I don’t know why she’s so weird about it; I try to drive carefully (although she has been in the trailer when I had to hit the brakes hard), my trailer is plenty spacious, and she seems to enjoy the activities we participate in once she’s off the trailer. Maybe the long haul from Florida with my friend’s fussy Saddlebred gelding was traumatic- who knows?

My neighbor tagged along on a funny little mare she bought from one of Oklahoma’s horse auction lots that regularly ships horses to be slaughtered. The mare is a compact, large pony-sized creature that is hopefully destined for a career as a lesson horse. Her past is largely unknown, so my neighbor thought this would be a good opportunity to see how the mare would behave on a trail ride.

Bringing up the rear.

Once we arrived and unloaded the horses, the little mare and Candy spent a couple of minutes sniffing and squealing at each other. Candy scooted to hide around the side of the trailer while I tacked her up, while the little mare continued to grunt and squeal any time Candy poked her head around the trailer to look at her.

We mounted up and set off with Rachael and her trusty hunt horse Fiona leading the way. Someone was hunting a beagle pack at the lake; we could hear them very clearly and headed in the opposite direction! Candy occasionally flicked an ear toward the sound of the beagles, but wasn’t at all perturbed by the noise. She seemed content to follow the other mares on the trail, and was much more relaxed than she had been on Sunday. My neighbor suggested that maybe Candy was more comfortable because the group was smaller- she was only out with two other horses instead of seven. I think that’s certainly a possibility. She’ll hopefully become more comfortable with larger groups as she gets out more frequently.

It’s the ocean!

The lake trails were in pretty good shape; there’s a very dedicated group of volunteers who have been working hard on keeping them clear for the last few months. The footing was deep and mucky in a couple of spots, but Candy gamely plowed through without hesitation. After riding for about an hour, we reached our turnaround point on the shore of the lake. The wind was so strong that there were whitecaps on the lake- it looked like we’d arrived at the ocean! Candy wasn’t sure about the waves and stared at them for a few seconds before trying to hide behind my neighbor’s mare. That was the last straw for the mare, who’d spent most of the ride looking behind her to make sure Candy wasn’t too close and swishing her tail in irritation. She kicked out and grazed Candy’s right forearm. Candy squealed and spun to retaliate; I kicked her forward away from the mare before she could land a kick on her hindquarters.

Candy’s leg appeared perfectly fine, save for some missing hair and a very minor scrape. She stayed well away from the mare as we made our way back to the trailhead, and we arrived at the trailer without any further incidents.

I’m so pleased with Candy’s behavior on yesterday’s ride! She was totally calm, very relaxed, and didn’t spook at a thing (even when the other horses were giving tree branches and bridges the hairy eyeball)! She’s such a sensible mare and fun to ride. The weather’s supposed to take a turn for the worse this weekend, so I’m not sure when we’ll be able to get out again. I’m glad I got to take advantage of yesterday’s sunny skies, though!

Trail riding in Adair, Oklahoma

Yesterday afternoon, I hauled Candy and Gina up to a ranch in Adair, Oklahoma for a trail ride and poker run. My friend Holly borrowed Gina for the day, as her horse Roscoe was lame. I opted to take Candy because I knew it would be a low-key ride over fairly easy terrain (and she needs to get out and about).

It was very windy and about 40° F; Gina seemed indifferent to the weather, but Candy was a little bug-eyed and snorty when she came off the trailer. After a quick potluck lunch with fellow riders, I tacked up Candy and hopped on for a few laps around the ranch’s dressage ring before heading out with our eight-rider group on the beautifully maintained trails.

Candy’s not sure if she wants to be in front or not.

The ranch we were riding on is 300 mostly-wooded acres with gently rolling hills and some rock outcrops. The trails are wide enough to drive a truck through and have good footing. I imagine they’re stunning in the summer when the trees are leafy and green; everything is a sort of dull yellow-brown right now.

Candy started out somewhat anxious; she lagged behind, taking short, tense steps and staring at everything. She’s not a very spooky horse, but she is very new to this sort of riding and is understandably nervous. After about ten minutes, she relaxed a bit and began to walk normally and stretch her head and neck out. She caught up with the fastest walkers of the group- a peppy Welsh pony, a large warmblood dressage horse, and Gina. Candy even took the lead for a little while and led everyone in a mad scramble up a steep, rocky hill. In the two hours we were out, she stayed fairly calm, paid attention to where she was putting her feet, and didn’t have any major problems.

While I’m very pleased overall with how she behaved on the trail, the ride wasn’t perfect. Candy has two main problems on the trail: she jigs when she’s anxious, and she won’t tolerate other horses close behind her. She kicked at a couple of horses yesterday- that’s totally unacceptable and will have to be addressed before she can go foxhunting! The jigging ought be cured by more trail riding at a relaxed pace; she’ll learn that there’s nothing to fret about.

I’m certain that as Candy goes out more often, she’ll become more confident and less nervous. I’m optimistic that one day she’ll be just as good as Gina is on the trail and in the hunt field!