Tuesday, April 2, 2019

the manic flurry: kicking off a new season!

So I could probably break all the events from this crazy fun past weekend into separate posts, milking all the media as much as possible haha. Esp considering all the busyness meant no riding at all over the weekend, womp, so no updates on that front.

look at this cute schpotted thing!! and omg, for an appy he has hair to die for
But eh, who doesn't love a good scatterbrained recap of all manner of marginally or not-at-all related topics?!? So let's dive right in, shall we??

You all may remember I got to meet Amelia from Dark Jewel Designs in person when she came down to Loch Moy back in October 2016, just a few weeks after Charlie came home to me. We've been friends-via-text/email for longer than that, tho, and she even wrote a 'Fraidy Cat Eventing guest post on her roller coaster history with the lovable Duke.

speaking of spotted, lookie who i got to see and spend the day with at Morven!! Amelia from Dark Jewel Designs!!
So naturally, when she told me she'd be grooming at Morven this past weekend, obvi I had to get my butt over there to spend the day hangin out and pitching in where possible!

And what an AWESOME day!! I'd only ever been to Morven briefly to pop in and say hi to Jan, Liz and Austen after a long day of dressage shows (for them) and Gold Cup Steeplechase (for me), but had never been for an event. Plus, ya know, I just freakin love spending the day at horse shows, esp in the type of gorgeous weather we were lucky to get on this day! Holla for sunburn #2 already of the year haha. Ahem. Wear sunscreen, kids.

what a perfect day <3
And I gotta say. There may be a lot of weird side effects and aspects to the whole "sharing my own personal pony story on the internet as a low level adult amateur" thing. But one thing is undeniable: the friendships I've made through this community are so special and important to me.

Like, this entire whole weekend experience was made possible in large part from the connections I've made through blogging. And for that, I'm extremely grateful.

ooooh that appy jomps tho!!
Anyway, tho, there was no real rest for the weary. Even as Amelia and I got caught up on all manner of life updates, horsey and otherwise, there was much work to be done. She had traveled down south to groom for her trainer, who himself was making the trek back north from Aiken. With Morven being basically a stopover point so a couple of his horses could get a little extra mileage.

For me, it was just another opportunity to dip my toes back in the competition scene waters, but without any pressure of worrying about my own rides haha. Especially considering this was a recognized HT, running levels through Intermediate, it was useful to remind myself some of the differences from starter trials.

got to dust off my xc videography skills too, esp while watching Dan and others through the intermediate division
Mostly, tho, per my normal habit, I was pretty keyed up to spectate some upper level cross country haha. And made it out on course jusssst in time to see sometimes-coach Dan cruise through on his big horse Frank.

I know professionals have to build their business by selling horses, even if sometimes that means they don't get to keep the horses long enough to get all the way up the levels again... But sorta-selfishly I'm thrilled to see Dan ride an Advanced horse again.

Obvi this early in the season, Frank just did the Intermediate, but they made easy work out of it with double clears in both jumping phases (full video above) and a competitive dressage score to finish 4th. I can't wait to see how the season goes for them!

lol i'm such a fangirl, this is a screen grab off dan's own youtube video, where you can totally see me (black shirt, white sweatshirt around waist) grabbing my video too #creepstar3000
And also, naturally, the day provided perfect fodder for testing out that new Bell+Howell Tac Zoom lens thingy that clips onto my iPhone. I took a TON of footage with this thing, most of which got incorporated into the rider-specific videos uploaded.

But a lot of the footage was specifically meant to test the lens and get a feel for it.

boyd always makes it look so easy
There's definitely a bit of a learning curve to using it. If it's not perfectly aligned over the cell phone camera lens, you'll get substantial distortion at the edges of the frame. But even when it's pretty well aligned, there can still be some dark spots like in the above gift of Boyd Martin & Barry, coming through the Intermediate water.

this device got a workout over the weekend haha
It can also be difficult to quickly put into place, so it's not likely something that I'm going to use when I need to switch rapidly between taking video of far away subjects, and then getting a closer view if I happen to be right next to a specific jump or combination.

uncropped, unedited photos, taken from same position. left side with zoom, right side just the normal cell phone camera lens.
Most of the big upper level events I try to film, generally I move from jump to jump and snag a couple clips of whatever rider happens to be coming through. In those situations, when I'm right up next to a jump, probably this zoom won't be as helpful.

But in situations where I'm likely to be standing in more or less one place and trying to get as many jumps for a single rider as possible, like - for instance - when I'm watching my friends' courses, this thing is friggin perfect.

Again, there *IS* a learning curve to using the thing. You can see the progression of me figuring it out in the footage above.

the lens creates some distortion around the edges of the frame. but holy cow, look at Dan's HSH Luska Legend jump!
The lens isn't exactly the highest quality in the world, so putting it on top of the cell phone camera lens does degrade the image quality a little bit, with some distortion and blur at the edges of the frame. It's also pretty shaky at the most extreme zoom (like when you zoom your cell phone too), but then again it has a range of literally HUNDREDS of meters so..... #worthit haha.

All in all, an extremely wonderful way to spend a day. Hangin out with Amelia, surrounded by ponies, watching all these talented riders making easy work of stuff that still looks so scary to me haha.... It was a good day.

PLUS. Amelia's trainer let us tag along with him on both his Training and Prelim course walks, where he was happy to answer all my questions and provide extra insights. More to come on all that later (plus pictures and meta data for both courses), but I was especially gratified considering I've maybe only ever walked 2-3 xc courses with a professional before.

So even tho it's an activity I love, and try to do as much as possible, I know there are aspects that I'm missing. This proved to be a really useful exercise!

next up: round 2 of the weekend, with this sweet and salty crab chip of an OTTB, who wanted so desperately to get that green stuffs all over my white sweatshirt
Anyway, what better way to cap off a hectic fun and horses-not-named-Charlie-filled weekend than by keeping the spectator train chugging at Austen's L Program judge's clinic on Sunday?

You all don't need me to tell you just how far her OTTB Bast has come in the last year. I remember meeting this guy when she first brought him home, and while he's still just as sweet and snuggly today, he's basically otherwise an entirely different creature. Honestly it's crazy impressive to see.

aww he really is a snuggly love bug tho <3
Plus I'm always happy to return the media favor haha. Austen's been behind the camera for so many of my most memorable and special moments with both Isabel and Charlie, ya know? So I was eager to be front and center, positioned at E to video every last scrap of this clinic ride.

I'll let Austen tell the full story too, obvi, but damn it was a really kinda strange clinic format. The clinic participants were the actual judges or judges-in-training, not the riders. The riders were actually more like just demos for the judges to use to hone their eyes.

Basically, there were three riders in each section, for Training, First, and Second Levels. And the judges (all 50-60 of them, no fucking joke), were seated all up along the long side of the arena. Specifically there to critique and assess and judge each rider and horse in real time, out loud, on the microphone haha. Talk about intimidating haha, I think my skin is a little too thin to ever actually want to ride in something like that!

and he looked right at home in this big dressage judge's clinic, in what was definitely quite an intimidated format
But Austen and Bast were fantastic, and really showed off how much progress she's made in his training. And it was also super interesting to here more detail about how judges are connecting what they see to the comments they write to the actual improvements that can be made for the horse and rider.

Through the back and forth commentary, each pair was able to get good feedback and create improvements in their horse's way of going. So ya know. A very interesting type of clinic haha, I'm looking forward to reading Austen's recap of it!

In the meantime tho... Yea I'm still nursing a major hangover from the weekend lol, and I didn't even ride! Hopefully there will be more of that coming for us soon tho, since, ya know, our own show season is slated to begin imminently!


  1. How sweet to get to do a course walk with a pro! Sounds like one heckuva weekend.

    I'm also impressed with that little camera lens. Not too shabby.

    1. The course walks were great, but also just another eye opener about how far away some of that stuff feels LOL. Will hopefully post soon!

  2. Sounds like a fun weekend! That appy is cute! Nice markings, can jump AND has good hair?

    Too bad about the sunburn - gingers + sun = bbq. Speaking from personal experience. ;-)

    1. such a super fun weekend!! kinda makes me wish that was how life could be full time lol

  3. I would not say no if that Appy showed up in my driveway. Just saying. Cool that the lens really worked (you never know you know)? I think it works well enough for what you need it for and i actually don't mind the darkness around the edges gives it a arty feel ;) Ha I am tired reading all about your weekend and I too cannot wait for Austen to recap. Bast looks pro!! Love him braided!

    1. that appy was super sweet too, gotta love the nice ponies! and yea lol, there's definitely an "arty" feel to some of what that lens can do. i'm really excited about putting it to use when my friends are riding now too, it really gets you up close and personal across a huge distance!

  4. That Appy is so fricken cute, holy cow. He'd be right at home with my two weird colored pones!

    Glad you had a wonderful weekend with friends - I love that you go out and support when you can and lend a helping hand <3 Horse buddies are the best!

    1. agreed completely - getting out and doing this sorta stuff is almost as fun as being in the tack myself, minus all the stress haha! so exciting that the season is finally arriving :D

  5. Sounds like a super fun weekend! Amelia is awesome. We haven't met in real life, but she's made some awesome browbands for me. And she lives near where I went to school, which makes her that much cooler.
    Also, that appy for sale?

    1. Amelia is pretty great, isn't she?? i think at this point she's basically like an honorary blogger haha. and yea that Appy is cool, right? i don't think he's for sale tho, i think he may have actually been a client horse.

  6. It sounds like a fantastic weekend. That appy is adorable. I'm hoping that Austen writes about her experience!

  7. That sounds like such a fantastic weekend - I'm forever envious of all the great events close to you!

    1. definitely my kinda weekend haha! and it's so funny, we really are so spoiled on the east coast with how densely everything is packed. to me, Morven is "a hike" to get to, esp bc you have to take a roundabout route to get over a river, so it takes close to 2hrs haha. but i guess in the grand scheme, 2hrs is actually "close" compared to west coast distances!

  8. That appy sure is cute tho.. be a shame if it disappeared...

  9. That app looks like one I rode as a kid, which is kinda ruining him for me, honestly. Lol. But he looks like a good egg (my memories aside).

    Thanks again for coming out last weekend! So grateful for the company and the help! <3

    1. i'm super glad i got to make it too! Bast is doing so well <3

  10. That lenses is awesome. I kind of like the distortion at the edges. Like warp speed

    1. haha right? yea it really is actually pretty cool - i bet it would be great to have around the track ;)

  11. I'm not usually an appy fan, but OMG IS THAT ONE CUTE!!


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