Sunday, June 16, 2019

Fairhill Recognized Novice -- May 19th

Coming off the heels of his nosebleed issues and forced break, Scout came back into work hardly missing a beat and felt ready to tackle Fairhill. Unfortunately, the weather turned into a summer swamp the weekend of the event which definitely had an impact on a horse who had recently had some unintentional time off.


Not exaggerating about the dust! 
I'm just going to say for the record, that I don't love the dressage warm-up at Fairhill -- it's a tiny little bowl that's super dusty and if even one horse is acting up it gets really chaotic real fast. Scout came to the warmup flat-footed as usual but was definitely dull. The heat and humidity were certainly a factor, as was his recent time off -- so he lacked his usual spark. Nora did a super job livening him up a bit before they headed into the ring and I really feel like she got every last point out of him that she could for the day. It was a nice, obedient test, but was missing some oomph.

That's more like it


Starting to get the free walk finally

He's happy that's over, hahaha!

Despite his lack of enthusiasm, they still squeaked out a 31.90 -- A score I was pleased with, but in a division of all professionals, it put him in 8th after dressage. Overall, I was really pleased with his work ethic to go in the ring and get it all done. He never quits, and that is such an admirable quality in a horse.

And the thing I love (and hate) about eventing and the various division breakdowns, is that if he was in Open Novice B, he would have won his division (though the other two groups at much wider margins for dressage scores) -- very interesting!

After a break and a bit of a cool down, it was time tog et ready for stadium and xc. At Fairhill, this requires a long solo hack through the woods to the other side of the property (which can take some getting used to for greenies), there's also a stream to cross on the way! Unfortunately, SJ was running 45 mins behind and poor Scout had to stand around in the heat for over an hour waiting. We did complain to the officials, who told us that they had no way of letting anyone know (which is funny, because LOUD SPEAKERS) -- but I'll take every experience as a teaching opportunity and it was good practice in standing around and waiting his turn.

Ready to jump things

The long wait gave me time to watch a ton of horses go and Iw as really pleased with the course. They had expanded the space allotted and the course rode best on a big galloping stride, right up Scout's alley!

Being the best at waiting

There were a few combinations that I was concerned about, but nothing seemed out of the realm for a recognized event. I think the trickiest part of the course was the first few fences, a massive oxer with a dogleg left to vertical, and hairpin left turn away from the in-gate.

Scout felt like it was best to give the first fence PLENTY of space, just in case. 
The second fence came up quick, and he jumped it a bit green, but left the rails up (this fence caught quite a few riders).

On to the big combination on a course...

I believe this was a 4 stride to 2 stride
I thought he might get a backward coming into these, but they made him sit back and think, which led to him jumping them cleanly.

The second related distance on course, nailing it -- even if a little green still

Better through the out of the combination

And even though it was a galloping course, it had plenty of twists and turns to keep you thinking about balance and momentum. He had one unlucky rail at the skinny fence on course, but he jumped everything with a much-improved maturity and technique.

Last fence on course -- cleared it!!!!
I didn't get to walk XC this time, but it had a half coffin, water and a bank combo. He literally ate up the course, cruising around like it was a walk in the park! A beautiful double clear to add to his record and he came off the course feeling like a million bucks! And while he didn't look like he was going that fast, Nora said that at the second to last fence she realized she was over a minute under the time and had to rate him in order not to get penalties -- he just really covers the ground SO much!

So thankful for Nora and her whole team for bringing out the best in my young horse. I feel so lucky to have found her and Scout just adores her too! I'm so very proud of his attitude and continuing progress. It's really amazing watching this young horse blossom and develop.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Bloody noses

Guys, I've been a bit preoccupied lately...

Welcome to the family Cooper!
We found a new family member 2 weeks ago and he's a full-time job/he's perfection -- more about him later<3

A few weeks ago when Scout was coming in from turnout, he and his turnout buddies had blood all over their flysheets. After careful inspection of all the usual causes (lacerations, etc), we found that Scout was the culprit and was bleeding very slightly from his right nostril. He had no other symptoms of any kind and no outward sign of trauma.

First day
Second day
It's not completely uncommon for a horse to get a nosebleed, so we took the wait and see approach as it was just barely a trickle. Our thinking was, we'll wait until the end of the day and if it's still bleeding actively, we'll have field services stop by. By the afternoon, it was still trickling bright red blood so we had our vet swing by to take a look. She was able to scope him to rule out anything going on in his lungs, etc (which would have been quite scary) -- through the scope she could see a few blood clots quite high up in his nasal passages but the scope couldn't go any further than that to figure out the cause of the bleeding. She gave him a clotting agent to help stop the bleeding and we would recheck in the morning.

Overnight, the bleeding continued, not enough blood to completely panic about, but enough that despite the clotting drug it was not stopping. I met the vet later that day to rescope him with a different device to see if we could go a little deeper. I had a real proud mama moment when the vet told me how wonderfully behaved my horse is. I mean any horse you can scope with zero sedation is a GOOD BOY:) She was able to show me what she was seeing in the scope, which was more blood clots way up high and we STILL couldn't see the cause of bleeding. At this point, the vet recommended that I bring him into New Bolton for further diagnostics. Again, she wasn't completely alarmed and it wasn't emergent, but since we couldn't figure out where the bleeding was coming from we needed to rule out every possibility. The next day we brought him to NBC for more tests and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't pretty concerned.

By the way, when your horse has unexplained bleeding from his nose, don't Google stuff... that's just not helpful at all. All I kept imagining was Scout having guttural pouch mycosis and bleeding out.

All the while, he never acted like anything was wrong
Realistically, I knew that the outcome was probably very good... but it's never a great feeling taking your horse to a big clinic. And now that Scout is insured it was a no-brainer to allow New Bolton to take whatever measures needed to figure out what was going on.

Scout was not impressed
They decided to scope him AGAIN, and were able to see that there was a small amount of active bleeding way up high in the nasal passage. The suspected cause was probably roughhousing in turnout (or bumping it somehow), so they wanted to rule out any kind of major trauma in his head before sending him home. They took radiographs of his head and they could see a small amount of fluid (blood) which confirmed their suspicion about the cause of the nose bleed. We were able to take him home a few hours later with a super prognosis. He was confined to small paddock turnout for a week and no riding, and once the bleeding had completely stopped he could go back out and resume work.

A few days after going to New Bolton

After resuming turnout, some discharge but mostly clear
I was so relieved to see the bleeding resolved and he was super happy to get back to work. All told he had about 10 days off and with an event on the horizon, we were eager to see how he was feeling after a little break. Thank god for thoroughbreds who don't miss a beat!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Plantation Field Recognized Event -- Open Novice (April 14th)

Chill warm ups lead to lots of drool:)
*Get ready for a ton of photos!!!!

If you been to Plantation before you're (hopefully) gonna think my illustration is hilarious. But I need it to help describe how the venue is in a class above most as far as events go. They run recognized and start trials there but I'd consider it one of the tougher venues in Area 2 for many reasons.

Basically to scale:)

It's built into the Chester County hillside and is basically a big hill with a proper arena up top, xc on one side and trailer parking on the other side. They alternate SJ and dressage in the main arena and either way you're kind screwed because whatever doesn't take place in the main arena has to happen on VERY sketchy grass on the side of the hill (near the trailers). For young horses or inexperienced riders (or both) Plantation is a BIG ask. I'll call it the great equalizer.

OH, they have snacks here? Okay then.

Scout has xc schooled there exactly one time (they offer a single xc schooling day per year) -- and was almost a full year since he's seen that big hill or been around that kind of atmosphere. The entries were stacked across the divisions and since he had to be entered in the ON division, I decided to forget about the scoreboard and hope for a great outing in all three phases.

Heading up the big hill to dressage


Scout had the earliest time in his division which I knew would work against us, but (again) I really didn't care about that. What I did care about was that he walked flat-footed with gusto up the hill and away from the trailers. The warm-up was fairly quiet, and I was stunned watching just how fluid and obedient he was being.

Hard to be upset when they warm up like this

Completely obsessed with this pic. The background looks like a painted backdrop!


They scored a 34.5 which put them in 3rd in their group and in the top 5 or so across the division. Obviously, I expected a big difference between a schooling show and a recognized event in terms of the dressage scoring. I would say as a guide you can tack 10 points on to whatever you might score at a schooling show. Scout's test was relaxed, obedient and accurate... but he lacks mileage in the sandbox and loses points in typical spots, like reaching down during the free walk and a little more OOPMH in his gaits. The judge liked him and has some nice comments about him overall.


the walk isn't all bad:)

Obviously not square, but atta boy


He waited patiently for his trailer buddy to go fancy prance and we got him ready for show jumping. The SJ warm-up was much kinder than the actual course itself which was wedged into the base of the hill and had gotten completely torn up from the upper divisions the day before when it poured. Regardless, he warmed up beautifully... jumping from a nice open stride. The only problem was that the Sj course did not allow for that kind of stride at all.

Oh Scout

That's more like it. This was coming off a nice turn where he got a great distance to the 2 stride

This jumped quite well for him but gave many others some trouble -- it's hard to tell but it's going downhill.

Early in the course, looking quite green.
Overall I think he had 2-3 rails down, which were simply green. The scope isn't the issue, but adjusting is stride is still challenging. His half-half is fairly confirmed and when he listens, he's able to wait and really push over the fences and that's when he jumps best (no shock there). They left the ring knowing exactly the kind of homework they need to work on. I think SJ will always be his hardest phase until he really figures things out with those long legs!

Cross country:

The course walked pretty fair for the level. My apple watch documented 11 floors of elevation gain throughout and the course designer used the terrain pretty thoughtfully. I wouldn't call Plantation a move-up course, but I don't think it was unfair either. There were a few combinations but no ditch.
This jump was a real problem on course*
Up bank to upright
Go through water and over white jump in the background
Another big ass table type jump
This was a nice size for the level on a  bit of an uphill approach. A nice final fence on course.


Pretty standard for the level

This looked MASSIVE to me!
Scout walked up the big hill one more time to warm up for xc and his little face at the top of the hill was SO cute.
He was pumped. Warmed up over a few jumps and headed to the start box. The weather had a turned a bit over the course of the day and not only was it super foggy, but a light rain had started. He jumped the first two fences great and came up the hill to the jump with the fake brush on top, took a peek and then slid into the base. I honestly thought he was going to jump it from a standstill, but she regrouped him, picked up a canter and he popped right over. Again, it wasn't naughty but I think when he went to take a look at the fence he lost his grip on the slick grass (he's only shod up front). Once he was over that he locked on to everything else and jumped around SO boldly gaining confidence with every jump. He's really going to be a XC machine. He finished the course hardly blowing at all and even with the stop he came in right at the optimum time. When I met them at the finish and walked back down the hill Nora was smiling ear to ear. She said, "he's going to do everything you want him to do... he's got such an amazing brain... and I can still have fun at the higher levels." What a super vote of confidence for the young kid!

**hopefully, I'll have xc pics to add here soon -- I just need to coordinate with the photographer**

It's easy to forget that this was his second event ever. He handled everything with such maturity and eagerness. He stayed happy and forward throughout the whole day and better yet, he came off the three phases like he just ran around Kentucky. He literally strutted back to the trailer. While there were green moments, I never thought he felt over-faced or that we were asking anything beyond his skill or fitness level.

And while the scoreboard doesn't reflect what he learned from the day, I couldn't have been happier of how he handled each phase and as a much more seasoned horse at the end of the day. Onward and upward to the next!!!