Sunday, March 5, 2017

Blackwater Swamp Stomp Recap

Sunday was Prophecy's debut into the endurance world (beyond camping and volunteering at IMJ last summer) at a new ride, fairly close to us in Ivor VA.  I felt it was the perfect opportunity to dip his feet in, without having as much stress about times and completion, with non-rocky footing since we haven't begun mountain conditioning yet.

The full recap.... (written before & after the ride)
As you read last week, my confidence and his kind of took a dash for a few weeks.  I decided I needed to do something that made us feel good together, and while we both love the trail, the tension I had about riding alone was not in our best interest.  So, we started the week on Monday with a lesson with the barn manager.  Kayla is in the world of Eventing and previously in the Hunter Jumper circuit.  She knows my intentions with Prophecy, so while she is teaching me/us she can relate what we are doing to how I need to use it on the trails. As a bonus, she handles him daily on the farm and can relate to idiosyncrasies 😃 No pictures, but we did work for a good 45min!  I have some work to do on picking up the right diagonal for trotting (always has been an issue for me as I naturally pick the left), and learning when to push him through his antics.  It was a good ride; nice to have someone to "pick at me" and remind me of what to do with my hands, etc and also see how he was moving and reacting to me (including his attempt to slam us into the fence).  I did the lesson with his Scoot boots as well, since we are approaching 3 weeks post trim to see how they are fitting and to keep 'breaking them in.' He is apparently pretty fit, and didn't sweat or breathe hard during our session despite the warmer temps.  Nor during his antics on being caught - he now sees me coming and starts a play session with Ransom racing around together. I can hear Ransom breathing when they fly around, but not Prophecy! 🏃
He is definitely changing body shape, as I had to adjust the cinch another hole!

Enjoying his dinner post lesson
The weather played some crazy games again this past week, with a high of 81 on Wednesday and some hefty thunderstorms and wind that evening.  Thursday we were back in the 50s and very windy.  I was hoping for a trail ride but thought better and just headed over to the arena with him alone to work on our trot rhythm.  A few times I thought I was nuts watching the stone dust swirl around, but Prophecy did really well and stayed pretty focused with some reminders.  Now I feel a bit more ready for the weekend. He'll get to rest until I throw him on the trailer 😁

Heading back to the pasture - leading himself

After finishing up with him, I continued loading the trailer - making sure I have all my saddle stuff, extra cinch, etc.  I'd rather bring along more than I need... So while it isn't a true completion ride for us, I've still been just as nervous!  I guess it is the new horse jitters as he hasn't been asked to ride at an AERC event before.

My Excel list... 

It was time to load up and head over to Amanda's place to trailer-pool to the ride. Camp opened at noon, so we targeted our arrival for ~1pm. Another cold start of the day, so I put his cooler on to help keep comfy on the drive there.  He loaded fairly nicely - one huge balk backwards where ended up smacking the side of the trailer but quickly came on after that.  He has lost quite a bit of width since Dec and I was able to put the butt-bar at the back door back on without him banging it trying to load. We were actually running early and left on time for camp from Amanda's.

Loaded up and leaving Still Pond

Heading out of Amanda's driveway

We arrived at camp and tied up the boys so we could register/check in - do our own potty breaks - and then set up camp.  I set up my portable Panels and Stryder was on his hitie

We vetted the boys in - which included standing in line a while - and they took it in stride.  Both very calm, despite the wind and sheer number of horses around.  Prophecy vetted in with all A's, a 40 initial HR and a body score of 6.   We settled them in and had a good dinner and ride meeting, some hanging by the fire.    Later there was a controlled burn on the outskirts of the horsepark that got a little hairy and kept us on our toes!

It was dang cold tho this weekend... Oh yeah - I got to the barn Saturday morning and my water tanks had all frozen!   The two camper tanks defrosted on the way to the ride, my internal 25gal not fully - so I had to use my propane heater to finish it off for a few hours.

The "controlled burn"

I was pretty comfortable temp wise going to bed, just had a hard time getting comfy with a pillow.  About 230 my heater started making a funny noise, so I turned it off figuring the propane was low and I wanted it when I woke up for a bit.  (My roof vent cracked and CO detector in the bed area with me)

My boys with me, pillow and bracelet

This is what I woke to ... and changed my clothing plan for the day! lol

The boys got a bit upset after seeing that Elvis disappeared for the 50, then Prophecy had to deal with so many others leaving around us in 30min including Stryder, so we did a lot of walking around camp, lunging, and respect check-ins.  He came around nicely despite another horse hollering a ton, and I was able to put him back in his pen for a nap in the sun while I warmed up in the truck a bit and charged the phone.

Being a good boy napping
The Intro ride out time was 10am, so about 9 I began tacking up - boots first, then saddle.  He was decent, not too much dancing; I kept him tied pretty short. Then we went for a quick lunge before adding the bridle and mounting up.

Pre-ride lunge
I used the fender of my trailer to mount, and he was good. We had some 'discussion' about making our way through camp up to the volunteer area to meet the intro group.   And there is where things got interesting...
Prophecy seemed to get overwhelmed with all the goings on once riding.  He did well starting out, but then got exceedingly anxious right after a water crossing that had a swamp on the side. He got so balled up and sticky I got off and walked him a little bit to a spot I could remount.  Lois, the tail end rider for our group who would help anyone who might need to turn back after ~5miles, hung back with me to get back on and offer a buddy for Prophecy.  Even just a single horse didn't help. Once we entered the field he really just couldn't handle the openness, seeing horses around the edges on other trails and just not knowing what do with himself. He would spin, back up, go sideways, a few steps forward and do it again. I sent Lois on and after a few more attempts to follow I turned him back to the start.  Every time he caught sight of horses on the trails he would stop, unsure of what to do, but eventually I was able to keep him moving forward - until the swamp again!  I got off and walked him in.  We did our vet check out/Rider Option after only 30min.  He unfortunately turned into a complete jerk as well 😠so there is some work to do on his brain.

The "Vet Card"
So, I had an inkling that he was not mentally ready for a ride, and that was why I took hi to an intro instead of LD - and this proved that to me.  I wanted to see where he was at, and yes we have work to do!  Physically he appears pretty darn ready if we continue on our path, now I just have to figure out how to get him mentally up to par! 😔