First I will apologize for my abysmal blogging practices... I will go down as the worst blogger in history, no question.  

So for your trouble - here is a little gem for you!
This is a photo guide of Ryker's progress thus far! He has come a long way, both physically and mentally.  I'd say the most helpful things for him have by far been regular turnout, beet pulp, hay stretcher, a good hoof supplement (farriers formula double strength, ftw!), and lots of long and low work. We still have quite a ways to go, but not bad for less than a year off the track. 

In other news, Ryker went down to the Maryland Horse Trials at Loch Moy this October. Huntington H.T. in August was not a success and was hands down the most expensive circle I've even done in a dressage ring.  

Here is the Huntington story: First off, Huntington is my boogy event, I have never completed it, and was excited to finally do so.  Ryker was ready, I was ready... we just had to get out feet done the week before. Strike 1: never get your horses feet done right before an event, its bad luck; Strike 2: don't get the vet out to do x-rays and work with the farrier (no matter how amazing your farrier is, thank you Jim Hurlburt!) in order to figure out why your horses pasterns are always a little puffy, before an event... it's just a bad plan.  The x-rays showed that Ryker's angles were a little off (as we suspected) and causing some friction in his coffin joint. Quick fix, add another degree and straighten him out laterally. In retrospect it should have been done AFTER the event, oops! But scheduling both the vet and farrier at the same time is like trying to cuddle with a tiger.  He went wonderfully for the first couple day, got a day off, and then worked in the field (where it was grassy and soft).  Cue dressage warm-up on hard uneven footing and shebang, you have an uneven horse. This was of course no ones fault but my own, I should have changed my plans after the change to his feet, or scheduled for everything to do done AFTER the Event. However we decided to see if the beautiful footing in the arena itself would help, to at least get a practice dressage test out of it -- Nope.  I asked to be excused as I crossed the first diagonal. No more Huntington for me! 

--Back to school we went-- 

 By the time we got to Alfred his feet were all settled in, but it was the end of my season (I thought).  I got into looking where Andrea Waldo of Triple Combination Farm  (my amazingly, wonderful coach) and one of the co-owners Mary Brust were going with their horses.  In addition to figuring out if the owner of Lancaster Stables (where I board in NY) Sue Robshaw, was going to any of those events as well. Low and behold, everyone was going to Loch Moy! Ryker got geared up and ready, and off we were to Maryland! 

Ryker's dressage was less then exemplary, to really no fault of his own.  His warm up was the best it has ever been, but right as we were getting ready to enter the ring, a rider fell off in warmup and their horse went careening around to the echos of "LOOSE HORSE!".  From there, he was keyed up, all I could do was try and settle him into a rhythm as we entered the ring. We then had to deal with people banging around in the demo trailer's that had been parked directly behind the judges box (WHOSE IDEA WAS THAT?!).  And to top it all off, just as we went to pick up our first canter at C, a woman wearing VERY audibly swish-y pants walked right behind the judges box.  I was glad for two things during that test as I tried my hardest to try and convince Ryker that he didn't need to take off, attempt to regain steering, and remember my test; Number 1: WE DID NOT JUMP OUT OF THE RING!, Number 2: WE DID NOT JUMP OUT OF THE RING!. At our final halt and salute at X, I was filled with relief for the very first time in dressage, I was done with my test! I am so proud of Ryker though, he tried so very hard to trust me and continue on! From there, everything was wonderful!  Loch Moy was a one day, with stadium immediately before XC. He was still pretty keyed up from his dressage as he warmed up, and charged most of the warm-up fences.  I was ready for a half-halt battle when we entered the ring, but he put on his big boy pants and pulled out his most flawless stadium round to date. No rails, no arguments, just calm concise, one jump to the next in a nice forward rhythm. We then headed to XC warm-up where I nearly got taken off with after our first warm-up XC fence, he's figured out the game for sure! (Huston, we have an event pony!)
 Our cross country round was nearly spotless.  He boldly broke out of the box towards fence one, he questioned fence two about 6 strides out, simply by backing himself off before I could half-halt him in preparation for the jump, and jumped it no big deal.  From there he only got more and more confident! He launched over the ditch, splashed through the water, and bombed around the rest of the course.  He really only had one fence that he "bobbled" at.  It was a little table off a slightly down hill approach, he simply got a little too close. His pace is a bit quick for Beginner Novice at this point, but I didn't want to mess with his rhythm too much, so I let him figure it out. He just speed-bumped the fence and continued on to rock the rest of the course.  Needless to say, I couldn't be prouder of him! Although we didn't ribbon, ahem your dressage score does matter, I couldn't care less, he is ready for Novice!

Photos from the event can be found here (enjoy!): 
http://www.photostockplus.com/home.php?user_id=41021&tmpl=127&event=1193401&action=viewphoto&photo_id=72991570&album_id=1193558&pcount=44
 


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