Sunday, 26 October 2014

October's 10 Q

The past few days have been... ugh, a tornado from hell, let's say, starting with a terrible lesson where I even managed to get my saintly horse to stop and dump me into a jump and only proving to get worse with some heavy personal stuff that I won't go into. Result, I'm feeling completely terrible. But there's nothing like not thinking about your problems to get your mind off your problems... right?

puppies say "mummy tis fine, we curl up next to u and sleep off all probs"

L over at Viva Carlos does the monthly ten questions, so I am unabashedly participating because I like questionnaires. Funsicles.

1. How many pairs of breeches/jods do you own? 
Pause for thought.  About 13, but: two of those are for showing only (and one pair is far too large at this point, so not even wearable) and of the remainder I actually wear nine of them with any regularity, and of those, there are only about four that are appropriate for lessons and fancy riding, and the others are craptacular (but wonderful) schooling breeches that fit very oddly and I can't tuck anything into them because I have to roll down the waist. Great for summer hacking though.  Of the remaining... I'm actively attempting to sell three pairs, and will hopefully sell more once I slowly replace my current gigantic breeches with breeches that fit. But I'm too poor right now.

2. How many horses have you ridden?
Dear god. A trillion? Potentially more than a trillion? I used to keep track, way back when I was a young'un but not so much now.  I used to catch ride on the Morgan and Arab circuits, and literally rode everything in every barn I've ever been in (small exception being this one, but I'm on my way!) so uh... if I had to guess, north of 300, and that's a conservative guess.

3. How many trainers have you had?
Tricksy question; including all trainers at all barns it would be nine. But... my first barn had one trainer (left due to distance), my second barn had one trainer (left due to him being evil), my third barn had three trainers (left due to moving to Canada), and my current barn has gone through four (one head trainer was let go for ~reasons~ resulting in a new head trainer, and then assistant was let go this fall for ~reasons~ resulting in a new assistant).  I'm not much of a trainer hopper - all that started quite literally 20 years ago.

4. How many barns have you ridden at? 
My first barn + trainer in one location, then she moved and I went with her, stayed there for about a year but it was a looooong commute.
My second barn was my house! Not a long commute.
My third barn was a boarding barn about a mile up the road from my house - I actually rode my horse there when we dropped her off, haha.  My house didn't have an indoor arena, so I kept my show horse there in the winters so I could actually do something.  The ponies stayed at home though.
My fourth barn was a big training barn, and home to my second trainer, though that didn't last very long. About three months. We, uh, didn't get along very well.
Which led to my fifth barn, which had no trainer either, but lots of my friends boarded there.
From there I eventually took my horse back to my parents', then I got a job at a big training barn out of state, with three amazing trainers literally the best in the nation at what they did.
So I moved there, and stayed for... I dunno, three years I guess? Loved it there, they were amazing.
But then my BF asked me to move to Canada, so I did, and had to find a new barn; it was decent timing since I had just sold my horse.
Then I moved to the barn I'm currently with!
So a total of 7.

5. What is the name of the horse you consider yourself to have the greatest bond with?

6. What is your favorite show name you've ever encountered?
I really love the name Girl on Fire. There's a chestnut jumper mare on my circuit with that name and it is just so beautifully appropriate.

7. What do you consider your greatest weakness or flaw in riding?
My fear, anxiety, and overthinking. I wish I were ballsier and didn't overanalyze everything to death.

8. What do you consider to be your greatest strength?
My work ethic. I'm willing to work as hard and as long as it takes. I also believe I'm a good and teachable student.

9. Have you ever leased a horse?
Yes, Slappy, Riley, Ruckus, and Denver.

10. What is the name of the first horse you rode?
There were horses I rode before I really started ~riding~, like at a fair or on a trail ride or something. But the first horse I rode 4 realz was a chestnut Arabian gelding named Royal. I was totally and unabashedly obsessed with him for a really long time!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Half-ass Twopointober and etc.

In case anyone was wondering, this is what a 1.60m maxed out oxer looks like when it's sitting in your home arena. #hi

When Equestrian at Hart and L over at Viva Carlos decided to put on Twopointober, I was excited. Then I ended up horse showing three weeks in a row, and missed the cutoff to get in my baseline time. Nonetheless, it's all about self improvement and not winning shiny prizes (so I keep telling myself...) so I'm doing Twopointober on my own terms!

My original baseline time was 6min28sec, and I could probably have held it a bit longer, but my back was not a happy camper.  I was surprised to find that I was actually *sore* the next day from just that amount of two point! It definitely drove the point (har) home that I needed to do some work.

I timed myself at the warm-up on one of the horses I rode today, the super fun young jumper I talked about a little in my last post, and let him meander around at walk and trot.  I pushed it pretty far this time, and basically only sat down when my back was burning. My legs were kinda fine, but the back... not so much.

My hands are not actually on the neck, I SWEAR.

Total time:

Close to a two minute improvement in a week, which I'm fairly happy with, particularly since I haven't exactly been practicing beyond regular lessons and riding and a bit of no stirrup work. Though now, a few hours after, whew - I can feel it! It's interesting, because very few things make me feel very sore in my inner thighs these days unless I do, like, two horses without stirrups, but this got me.  And my back, though it feels like it got run over by a truck, also feels oddly relaxed, where it usually just hurts.  My legs themselves feel like I just did a decent round of squats. Hot bath, here I come.

In other news, I had a lesson yesterday with Trainer which was middling at best.  We did more work with extension, medium, collection and I think I am really getting the hang of it.  I am, of course, exceptionally lucky that I get to practice on quite a few horses, which makes a difference.  Trainer went one step further this time and had me practice collection on the way to a fence - like I had to add the stride in, every time.  Which was HARD. I went to my usual habits when jumping which is the "get it done and don't die" approach; unfortunately not the goal of the exercise! I tend to do a lot of give and take when I want my horse to collect on the way to a jump, and learning to keep that very strong connection backed up by a *lot* of leg was tough.  By the end, both Riley and I were tired, and I really hope my eye is not permanently fixed to the short one now! I'm not sure exactly how much we got accomplished, other than reinforcing the idea of collection and extension. Trainer rambled on a little later about the importance of repetition, and I guess he's right. I think I got really spoiled last week with working with this new concept and was totally excited to learn something else life-changing, but realistically, we should all probably practice this first.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

A Week with New Assistant

Riley says "I look really good in fall colors"

I hope to make this a reasonably quick recap of last week's rides/lessons, but for some reason I always end up typing out small novels so I guess we'll see.

Thursday, I had my first lesson with New Assistant.  (Also a dressage lesson on my other horse, whom I never talk about here, but probably should.)  We started out with her observing my warmup in silence, then she had me start cantering some poles placed on the short end of the ring.  The idea is that a jump on the short end is hard, because it's a very short approach and a very short landing, but you have to be really careful not to turn in the air since it causes a rail.  So, she had me practice this on a normal rhythm, then the add-a-stride rhythm, then the go-and-get-it jump-off rhythm.  We talked a little about Riley's reluctance to do true collection and just slow his body down without really doing much with his stride length, and this was an interesting theme that started coming up this week.  She suggested a couple of exercises to improve his connection coming through the corners, which I've practiced a bit this week and seem to help.

After this, she had me do a long bending line from a vertical to an oxer.  The jumps were tiny, maybe 2'3" or 2'6", and she first had me put in as many strides as I possibly could between the two by going out in the long bending and just being patient for the jump.  I put in 10 the first time, then she had me go back and remove a few strides.  I did it in a short 8 this time, then she had me do an "attacking" rhythm like I would do in a jump-off and I got it down to what should probably have been a six but was a seven because I bent out a bit much.  Nonetheless a successful exercise.

After this, she had me canter through a different, regular five stride bending line (which I thought was rather long indoors, riding inside sucks) and then go back through in the attacking jump-off rhythm and try and ride my track more direct and get it done in the four.  I was a bit worried about this, since making a five into a four is a get-it-done type of scenario where you need to have the right rhythm in and get it done early, and indoors this is even more of a challenge! But I had the right canter coming in, got a great distance where I sliced off a few feet, and then legged up for the four which we completed really quite beautifully.

All in all a reasonable lesson; she figured out some of my shortcomings quite quickly (eagerness to do the add, rather than the leave out, for example!) and we talked a bit about riding more efficient tracks and stuff like that.

Saturday, I lessoned once more with her, since Trainer was away doing a clinic.  This was a more interesting day. We started by doing a set of three poles, evenly spaced, cantering in, trotting the second and cantering out.  This was quite easy and fun. Then she had me canter them in a four to a four, which was also easy, then around and do a five to a four, then a four to a five, then a five to a five, then a five to a three.  It was pretty cool and it made some of Riley's weaknesses show up - which is to say his tendency to bulge into a banana shape going to the right, and his reluctance to "bounce" - instead, he just goes slower instead of doing a proper shortening of stride, and some of the shortening exercises really made that apparent!

After this, she had me canter off the right lead to a small (probably 2'3" or so again) vertical off a very short corner, land and counterbend in a circle, then continue on the same line once we got back around to an oxer.  The first time, Riley was sluggish and behind my leg, and landed in a sprawling heap, so it took me a little bit to re-balance and get the exercise done.  But we did and it immediately helped him to balance and straighten.  We did this several times in a row and it was really useful, then went around the other direction and did same.  She commented that he tends to land in a big, open strided sprawl no matter what distance I get in, which is interesting and explains a lot about why he is so damn hard to do certain things with.  I mean, I can feel it when I ride, but I always thought it was *me* and my lack of balance... turns out, not so much.  Actually she was rather adamant it wasn't.

So, two lessons in with her, my thoughts: I like her quite a bit so far. It's hard to tell in two lessons, but her exercises have been interesting and useful and more importantly actually make sense.  She doesn't yell, she's not critical in a harmful way, she's way more about having a conversation about your horse/its shortcomings/how we fix/what I'm feeling and actually LISTENING to what I'm telling her, which coming from previous Assistant is nothing short of miraculous.  Plus, she's really nice and funny, which never hurts.

But I do think it's funny she made all the lessons after me do torturous things, lots of two point and no stirrups and other assorted amusing exercises.  I asked her why she didn't make me do them and she goes "because I know you're already good at that!"

Having lessons three days a week is fairly glorious, but also leads to not tons of time schooling on your own! (Which is not a bad thing right now, really.)  Sunday, though, I had the ponies all to myself.  Riley flatted like a total star, and a little cute young jumper gelding that I've been doing a bit had his best flat ever.  I really like this one; I've probably ridden him eight or nine times now and he is a really neat horse.  A bit spooky (one moment you'll be trotting along quite placidly and the next you'll be leaping across the arena because he saw ~something~) but usually works out of it eventually and he is a real teacher in the art of feel.  He responds to the lightest of touches and prefers it that way, and gets extremely irritable if you try to pull on him or get too in his face, and will overreact to the leg for awhile, every time.  But he's the coolest horse, because once *you* get it right, he is all about going around like the perfect show pony.  He went absolutely beautifully Sunday, even after a grouchy warm-up on his part, and it just felt amazing.  One of those horses you can make huge strides with and see the results of your work really quickly.  He's also one that really appreciates positive reinforcement - I think a lot of them do, really - and a quick pat and wither scritch when he does something right leads to him working ten times harder.  Definitely walked on air a bit after that ride, it was so so good, and stuffed his adorable face with carrots!

Lastly I did the other young jumper gelding I've been doing for a couple of months now, and took him out on a hack with a friend who showed up.  We walked and trotted a bit and he was perfectly behaved, and it was so nice to get out! The weather was quite chilly, I think around 7 degrees, and it was wet and muddy, but also really stunning.  Unfortunately my iPhone did not do it justice but it was incredible out there.

Lastly, my barn got a new kitten! She is the cutest thing ever.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Blog Hop: That One Thing

I promise, one of these days I'll stop being so sporadic. I have some cool ideas for blog posts, just not a lot of free time at the moment!

Anyway, I fell across this blog hop the other day, and it looked like a lot of fun. I'm a bit of a tack ho, so this is definitely one for me...

First, I wanna know: what is the ONE piece of tack (or clothing) that you simply cannot live without? Put function aside for a moment and try to decide which piece of your tack ho collection is your favorite. It can be anything for you, or for your horse. 

Because I'm completely incapable of doing just one thing, I will give two answers here.

The first is my totally amazing saddle. I got a stunning, new custom Butet that arrived in May of this year, and it's my favorite saddle of all time.  The balance is exquisite, my leg improves just by sitting in it, the leather is divine, and my butt is happy.  I'm convinced my position improved tenfold just by having this beautiful piece of equipment. It will be pried from my cold, dead hands.

I consider this a "necessity" item... within reason. Obviously, I could have purchased something less expensive, but on the other hand, you have to have a saddle to ride.


The second is what I would consider a totally frivolous item, particularly since I had perfectly nice stirrup irons leading up to this.  But about three seasons ago I became more than mildly obsessed with the Wildkart Jin stirrups.  I honestly don't care that they're a wide footbed, though over time I've come to rather appreciate that about them. I just like how they look, and the look on a rider's foot.  So sexy. (I don't know. It just is.)  I am basically obsessed with them and admire my foot in the stirrup every day. (Yes. It's very vain of me. I DON'T CARE.)

An extremely attractive display on top of the barn's washing machine...
They should pay me for this stuff, really.

precious all dressed up

Second, I'd like to know what you're currently saving up for or lusting after. Basically, what item do you have your eyes set on right now? If someone handed you enough money, what would be the first thing to buy on your list? 

Ugh. Where do I start.  
I've been lusting after a pair of Parlantis for a long time, but my goodness they are expensive and I really just cannot justify it... yet.


Also these Tailored Sportsmans in this color, which is Ivy.


And last but not least, a Back on Track blanket for Pony. But I refuse to buy one because *fingers crossed* someday my dressage horse will sell and I'll get a new creature and it seems silly to buy a BoT blanket for a horse I might not have much longer.

So naiiiiiice

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Autumn Awesome: AKA Equestrian Bootcamp

"I am going to teach you how to RIDE."

As a pre-reading note: I slightly wish this could be a funnier entry - and I have no doubt they'll be coming. But I have to remember these moments, and keep them in this online memory book, and look back on them during times of hardship and sadness or self-flagellation.  Sorry, dear readers.

Post-show season and pre-Florida has become known as Boot Camp 'round these parts.  Trainer is fairly big on concentrating on showing when we're showing, and fixing and adding to your knowledge toolbox during the off season.  Well, now is the off season, and I couldn't be more excited for it.  I feel like a kid at Christmas who is also in a candy shop who also knows they are getting everything they want in their gift boxes.

Equestrian boot camp involves a layering of things: a lot of flat lessons, a lot of new concepts introduced by Trainer, a *tremendous* amount of education, the realization that you have never learned how to actually ride, a whole hell of a lot of practice, and a significant amount of time spent without stirrups. 

At the mention of all these glorious things to come, my barnmates consider their own deaths and I just get weird and giddy.  This gif about sums it all up (that would be me, in the middle):


The first day of this magical string of lessons came yesterday.  I was pretty early, and somehow ended up displaying a horse to a prospective client, which was interesting.  After that, I tacked up Riley and went in for my lesson.  Trainer was in an excellent mood and we spent some time chatting about the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, during which he, and the country, had a truly excellent showing.  Can I just say again? How unrealistically lucky I am? How fortunate I am to have landed somewhere with that kind of insane talent and knowledge? AHH. Boggles my mind.

Anyway, my lesson started as they always seem to: abruptly.  One moment I'm trotting along purposefully on a loose rein to stretch Riley out and the next there are commands sailing across the arena to my ears.  

Trainer generally picks one fairly specific concept per lesson (or week, depending) and introduces it to everyone.  It varies by riding level - the more advanced riders will go way more in depth where the barest duskings of it will be introduced to the riders who aren't quite there yet.  Trainer started by working with me on a circle at the walk, and having me ask my horse for inside flexion while ensuring that his shoulder didn't pop and his hind end didn't go flying off into the sunset.  The big instruction was to give, give, give with my outside elbow and relax through the elbow and shoulder, not the fingers (as he kept reminding me; whenever someone tells me to relax, my fingers open!) and just maintain contact, not pull, with the inside hand.  We did this both directions at the walk, then moved to the trot, with no real problems.  Then we went to the straightaways, asking for slight inside flexion by giving with the outside elbow and hand, getting some kind of reaction from the horse, and going back to straightness, then outside flexion, then straightness, then inside, then outside, then straightness, and a lot of nothing when you got the proper reaction.  It was very bare, and very small movements but Riley was like "oh, I like this" and began to really frame up beautifully.  We worked this at trot and canter, did square turns, lots of Trainer being very vocal about yes/no/maybe, then we started doing collected work. 

Now in the past I've done what I would consider collected work, but apparently wasn't too terribly proper, ha ha.  Trainer's instructions involved putting on a lot of leg, but just holding - not pulling, holding - the contact, then slowly (and later more quickly) easing the contact back and asking the horse to rock back and shorten his step.  Sounds easy, right? It's not. But we worked collection, medium, extension, medium, collection at trot and canter, and Riley was like, "OH." and I apparently started doing a lot of things right, at about the same time he started getting it, and evidently got the hand giving thing down to some sort of science, since Trainer seemed quite cheerful about my (apparent) ability to collect and properly use my hands after thirty minutes of instruction.

At this point I would like to point out I'm still not exactly sure what I did, but I practiced what I thought might be right today on a few different horses, and got some pretty excellent results, so I'm hoping I'm on the right track!

Trainer always likes to connect whatever specific exercise we're doing to the bigger picture (which is jumping courses, basically) and spent some time talking about the (obvious) benefits of collection before fences and after and stuff like that.  So for shits and giggles he threw in a tiny vertical, had me jump it from normal rhythm but with the correct use of hand and leg to hand, then collect collect collect after, lead change, same thing the other way.  

Dear readers, while I'm still not entirely sure what I did that was so right, it felt... well, it felt amazing. Because there was obviously something really, really right about it.  I finished and was just walking on air and could not stop thanking Trainer.  He was so fantastically interactive about all of it too, walking next to me, showing me exactly what he wanted me to do, talking at great length about collection and forwardness and all of it, and the muscles it affects on the horse's body, and how I could take all these tools and put them on all of the future horses that I ride, and a lot of other really nice and complimentary things about my riding that I am honestly embarrassed to put here but will probably remember forever.  I literally sat there and grinned like a total moron, tried to come up with coherent responses, and thanked him about 300 times. 


Then I tried to be funny, and also slightly make light of the fact that I could barely get around a course when he showed up last year, and said, "every time I have a proper lesson with you, I realize I don't know how to ride at all!"

He got kind of annoyed with me about that statement, for the briefest moment.  We had been talking and laughing, then all of a sudden it was *deadpan silence and French staredown* and I was like, *cringes in terror.*  And he kind of thought for a moment, and then goes, "you know, you are always saying zis, zat you do not know how to ride. You are not as educated as you could be, zis is difference. But zat much different than not knowing how to ride.  I will educate you. It obvious you want to be educated, look at what you done over ze past year, your whole riding is totally different. You embrace what I tell you. You work ze hardest. Now we get to do more advanced ting, like today, zis advanced stuff."  And then another unexpected flood of compliments.  (For interested parties, I have no idea how to take a compliment. So that was awkward.) It's obviously very validating to have your trainer tell you you don't suck, but this one is not prone to compliments really, and is pretty much never effusive, so to hear all this come out in a flood of "hey, I'm an Olympic rider, and I don't think you suck, in fact, I think you're pretty cool!" is fairly weird in a rather good way.

I'm glad I practiced and worked as hard as I have. While I have no expectation it's going to be easy from here on out, I am really starting to think it's going to be *better.* Plus one for perseverance and chasing dreams.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Year in Review: A look back at show season

Now that the outdoor show season is officially at an end, it's time for a look back.

My 2014 show goals included:
- Jump the 1.0m jumpers
- Jump the 1.10m jumpers consistently
- Do a 1.15m or two
- If everything goes swimmingly and Riley can handle it, do the 1.20m
- Ride with consistency
- Sit better over bigger jumps

I didn't hit all of my goals, and the year definitely didn't exactly go as planned.  But I hit some goals, and as horse people, we always have to improvise.

I made a lot of mistakes...

And I had to buy two new helmets because of them...

(my feels on that whole mess)

But I did a lot of things right, too.

I got some impressive bruises.

Despite not jumping the height I wanted to jump this year, I still made a few forays into the 1.10m ring, which at the time was very, very scary.

We looked good doing it, too.

I was (and am!) fortunate enough to train with one of my riding idols, something I am grateful for every single day. I learn so much from him and continue to be in awe of his talent. 

~Paparazzi~ shot

I can honestly say that I tried my best every time I showed up. Some days it went better than others, but I always tried.

Some days I was really scared, but I did it anyway, because that's what you have to do.

Some days, after the failures, it was all I could do to continue, because I wondered if I would ever grow beyond the sum of my failings.  But I do continue, because I know if I work hard enough, I will achieve my goals.  

As time goes on, I'm realizing that even though you want the progression to be fast, that doesn't mean it will be.  But as long as you're moving in the right direction, that's all that matters. 

Having said all this, I am extremely hopeful that the seeds I planted this year, in terms of a riding foundation, sprout and grow into a big, beautiful flower next year and in the years to follow.  My riding is definitely better than it was in May... palpably so. And that is something to be proud of!

And now, I'm looking forward to a winter of riding lessons, some Mise en Selle (French for no-stirrups torture, a term coined by Trainer) and, hopefully, a foray or two to Florida for WEF.  And also a vacation. Because I'm tired.

Monday, 6 October 2014

The Last Show of The Season: The Final Daze

Hello I am freezing.

Saturday dawned very cold. I think it was about three degrees in the morning.  Too cold to be alive, anyway.  I arrived at the show at some ungodly hour to watch my friends in the 1.20m (the first class of the morning at 7:30 AM, of course) and then sat around for 800 years waiting for my class, which gave me ample time to freeze to death.

I did the 1.0m again, and the course walked fine, with nothing too spectacular to note.  Our warm-up was okay. The warm-up ring at this particular show is a little weird. You warm up on sand in this tiny, very oddly shaped ring and then do your last jump on grass before you go in.  I hit a lot of forward distances but they weren't too bad. I just wasn't that stressed about it, for some reason.

We are still slightly impressed.

My course went really well. The actual show ring is enormous, and it has a tendency to draw you out in the corners, which is annoying and causes time faults.  After my experience on Wednesday when I had to pick Riley up and carry him around, I upgraded my spurs and downgraded my bit, and this proved to be a good decision. I definitely wouldn't have wanted less spur.  He was mildly sticky through the first line, and I had to push him a little.  We had a rail at jump two, which Trainer said was him neglecting to pick up his feet. I could probably have balanced him a little better, too, but on video we reached the jump fine, and he wasn't flat, so I dunno.  That's horse showing for you! I was otherwise really happy with the round, and the smoothness and good decisions I made, so no harm.

Last stride before the jump!

Later in the evening, the show held a $100,000 World Cup qualifier. This is always a super fun class to watch, since lots of Big Guns show up and the course is usually really good.  For some examples of Fancy People, we had Leslie Howard, Charlie Jayne, Georgina Bloomberg, Kirsten Coe, Ian Millar, Conor Swail, and so many more. So fun and so inspiring to watch!

The Main Stadium and the World Cup course!

There was an unbelievably tricky line in there, a shortish corner to a triple bar and one stride to an oxer, which was a bit uphill, followed by six strides downhill to an airy vertical.  So much carnage happened in there. If you made it through that line, you were pretty much good to go.

Line of Death

In the end, the incredible Leslie Howard won it for a second year in a row(!) on the indomitable Tic Tac.  Her jump-off was sort of death defying and soooo fast!

You go Leslie Howard.


Sunday was even colder than Saturday, with a high of -2. (Sob.) I arrived in the morning to find Riley sound asleep; so very sound asleep that for a brief, panicked moment I thought he might be dead.

Body clipped pony snug as a bug in three blankets.

I went in and sat with him while he snoozed, joined by my friend/barn employee A, who has to be one of my favorite people on earth.  When he woke up a little and rolled on to his belly, I fed him bits of hay by hand. He isn't spoiled at all.

I ended up having time to do this because there had been some kind of massive crash in my ring in the first class of the day, which involved ambulances and even a fire truck (?) and the ring ended up being held for about two hours.  So, we ended up going much later than anticipated.

Trainer had departed Saturday evening for Barcelona, where he'll be competing in the Furusiyya Nations Cup Finals later this week. Super exciting! This meant that I would be coached by New Assistant. I haven't had any lessons or coaching from her so I was kind of interested (if a little nervous) in the experience.  I really like what I've seen of her, though, and she's super nice and funny, and SUCH a talented rider. When we walked the course she took a lot of time to discuss the jump-off and what she would do and why, which I appreciated a lot and was nice and insightful.

Our warm-up went really well. She didn't say much of anything beyond "good," but we had a really excellent warm-up, so I can't complain!

The course itself was pretty okay.  It wasn't my very very best riding but it wasn't too far off, and it was a decent way to end the season.  Unfortunately I got in a little tight to jump five and had the back rail of the oxer down, I think because we didn't have quite enough impulsion to get across easily, and quite frankly Riley didn't try that hard either! He was quite fresh, and much more the usual Show Ring Riley that I'm used to.

Our course had one mildly tricky element, which was a triple combination of an oxer, two strides to a vertical, one stride to an oxer.  We hit this pretty well, just lightly forward.  I wish it could have been a hair more patient but if I had waited it would have been a really lovely half stride and could have gotten ugly, so it is what it is.  I was patient through the combination, though, so I was happy about that.  We finished the course really well, and I was pretty okay with the way I rode.

Still slightly impressed, and no, I have no earthly idea what my legs are doing here.

Oddly enough, despite the fact that we had four faults, we hung in for ribbons for a *really* long time.  When I came out I was ranked 4th as the current fastest four faulter.  We hung in to 8th until the very last horse that went, who also had four faults but ended up being just one second faster than me. That was kind of annoying (and sad!) because there was a victory gallop and I really wanted to take a lap!

I kind of just puttered the rest of the day, watched my friends show, and helped the girls pack up the trailer to go home.  And then it was over, just like that.

That's a wrap, folks.