The Great Pony Escape

horse lifestyle

Check it out, you guys! I made a YouTube video! This is the first time that I filmed footage specifically to create a YouTube video, and I’m not too unhappy with the results! 

It’s footage from when I went riding a few weeks ago, and my sly little Pony got out when I was putting Berry away. See it for yourself!

There will be more to come! Make sure you subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss any! 

Continue Reading

My First Jumper Show

A friend talked me into doing a jumper show last weekend. I initially thought, but, I do hunters, but then I decided it didn’t really matter and I’m going to do it anyway. It’d be fun!

puddle jumpers

It was a fun experience, but I do need to make some changes to make the next one much better, starting with tucking in my shirt…maybe wearing show pants. I was the only one in blue breeches. But, I do like those blue breeches…they are comfortable… and blue.

Here’s what I really and truly did wrong:

I didn’t make enough time to warm up.

I think this was my main problem. I got there an hour before the show started, and then spend a lot of time figuring out how to do my course. That was time well spent, though, I thoroughly understood my course, and that was a strength. But I should have hustled more to get an actual 20 minute warm up in. Since I did not allow for enough time, I went from figuring out the course, to tacking up, to holding up the ingate while they waited for me to warm up. Pretty nice of them to hold it up for me… but meant I got a 5-10 minute warm up. Berry did more time than that to chill out… and this led to the next problem.

fox chase farm
Wow, it was like two whole seconds of warmup!

I should have cantered the entire first course. 

Due to Berry’s lack of warmup, she was a bundle of energy, and nerves, and was jumping and staring at everything – the coop, the cars going by, a slight wind. I thought the best thing to do would be to just do a nice slow trot to settle her, but what I should have done was just cantered her forward, and channeled that energy. With a slow trot, she had way too much time to contemplate her existence on this planet, and how scary the jumps looked, and what the meaning of life is. She actually refused two jumps! (a bad trend this weekend…) Granted, one was from a rollback, which we have never done, and that was slightly confusing to her. I was actually ready to retire, but I got yelled at to finish the course. And if there’s one thing that motivates me, it’s people yelling at me to do things, especially when its in front of a watching audience.

There was also no question that I was incredibly slow at the trot, and the one line that I kept the canter I did a 7 stride in 9 strides, plus a long distance because she couldn’t fit in the 10th stride. Watching the video, I was shocked at the utter slowness of it all. It was like watching slugs racing.

If I had just cantered it would have used the nervous energy she had, and likely relaxed her. After we finished that course, she was super relaxed…which she always is, after burning off a little energy. 

puddle jumpers
Just a few…hundred…more… trot steps…. AND JUMP.

I took a random meandering tour of the arena before my course.

Apparently, 45 seconds is much shorter than I thought it was… I was lucky I wasn’t buzzed out.

I was also softening too much at the base, which is probably what caused the refusal. I spoke with my surrogate trainer about what to do for the next course, and I went in again. It was a nearly perfect round! I just went slightly over the allotted time of 80 seconds, so I did get a time fault. I cantered the whole thing, and I was still too dang slow! It also helped that it was essentially a hunter course, outside line, diagonal to outside line to diagonal, and that’s what we know. Although hilariously (to me anyway), when we started down the line where the roll back was in the first course, Berry remembered and made to turn off the line and do the rollback. She remembered! But she was also okay when she realized we were doing the line like normal hunters. 

The two courses were like night and day. Hopefully, next time will both be like day, as I know exactly what needs to change. But I have figured out, I love jumpers! Other than it being fun to do something different instead of a variation of the same course every time, it was also nice that I was first in the day, did my rounds, and I was out by 10:30. I like a show that leaves the rest of the day available to do other things. 

Despite being a bumbling idiot in the first course, and being massively slow in the second, I snagged a second and a third*. Hurrah! *only four people in the class, two of them children. But, it was nice to know that I was slightly acknowledged, and I had a great time. There will definitely be more jumpers in my future! 

Continue Reading

Ups and Downs

The weekend was off to a great start. I went riding with a friend, and I schooled Berry over some jumps, practicing landing on the correct lead. She got it 75% of the time. Progress! Maybe I can do that instead of those blasted lead changes!

Berry was practicing holding her head at a slant.

Camera 1
Camera 2

She had actually slipped going around the turn and she was so disappointed in herself, she shook her head back and forth. I think she’s being a bit too hard on herself. It’s okay Berry, we all slip from time to time. 

We went on a nice relaxing trail ride after. Berry was very enthusiastic about that, and showcased her enthusiasm by taking a bounding leap over a ditch so vigorously, that despite being very prepared for such a thing, I nearly fell off. I was lucky my friend was standing on the other side and Berry felt it was fine to stop as soon as she reached her. It’s moments like these that I wonder if she actually is a talented jumper, she only feels like showcasing it when other horses are watching.  

Berry out on an adventure!

She loves trail rides, and I love that about her. 

On Sunday, I took a lesson with my trainer. It’s only my second lesson with her this year, and on the first occasion, Berry and I were so out of shape it hardly counted. Now, I’ve been riding her regularly, and we’re feeling good. So I was expecting a pretty awesome lesson where I wow’d my trainer with my poweress.

“Wow, your amazing practice and results from that 2’6″ course you did at a show are really paying off! Look at you, you are clearly capable of moving up to 2’9″ immediately, and probably 3′ seconds after that.”

Naturally since I assumed it would happen like that, it happened nothing like that. We warmed up while she was finishing her previous lesson, and then we discussed my current issues (namely those damn lead changes!) and we decided to do a simple warm up: canter the long side, and circle around in a teardrop fashion back to the same long side. Basically, canter leg yield. At the rail, I would do a simple change. 

It sounds super simple, and really it should have been. This is an exercise Berry and I have been doing since at least a year ago, many times. So we began.

And it was a disaster. At first, she simply broke the canter, my fault. But then I got after her to do it, and she started getting snippy, so to speak. She started blowing through my aids and rushing down the long side like a freight train, her chin tucked to her chest. So, we were told to half each time in the middle of the long side. That started a whole new range of issues. Blowing through the aids, rushing, and then dragging me down as she halted, and then backing up and popping rears. I only vaguely knew she had it in her.

We decided to take it back a step, and just canter in a circle. And that’s what I literally did, I cantered in a circle, keeping her head up so she didn’t drop it to her knees. I had little t-rex arms to keep her up. 

Artist’s interpretation of the ride.

We got to do lots of half/canter transitions. Berry was so pissed she started pawing the ground at every halt. Completely new behavior.  

Eventually my trainer sent us back to the long side for the canter leg yield exercise. It still sucks, and I had the added bonus of feeling like I was about to collapse in exhaustion. Before this, I’ve never really been sternly talked to by my trainer. But I got a stern talking to today. I was floppy and all over the place and not backing up my aids, and letting her get away with everything. I will admit this is all correct. It was a pretty awful ride.

Eventually, as the horse and I were drenched in sweat, we called it a day. She didn’t do it acceptability, she just stopped being somewhat pissy. She was only sort of pissy. A slight improvement I guess. 

It was rough. I suppose I took for granted that my horse would always be mostly good. I needed a reminder of what it’s like to ride a green horse…or to ride a not so green horse, just one that’s in a pretty pissed off mood. Horses keep you humble…

Now my homework is super basic – “Canter your horse in a circle. Next week, we try again.” Big difference from the 2’9″ I thought we’d be doing. 

Continue Reading

First Show of the Year

We took the mismatched bays out to a local hunter show, and overall, it went great! It was such a fun day, I can’t wait to do it again.

D’Arcy rode little bay Pony Man. She was initially going to take him in the green pony division, but apparently green ponies is only for children, so I feel like “Green Pony division” is very misleading. Maybe it should be “Children’s Green Pony Division”, that would make it clear who it was intended for. But luckily she called to clarify, and it was determined that “Maiden Hunter” division was more appropriate for the little guy. This meant we got to show up later in the morning, so that was a plus. No waking up at 5am to prep. 

I was going to do the 2’6″ Green division. This turned into doing the 2’6″ Thoroughbred division, because of the Thoroughbred Incentive Program, which I didn’t really care about before, but now I kind of want to collect all the points. But more on that later – my division wasn’t until after 2pm, so again, nice and lazy approach to getting to the horse show.

We arrived about 11:30 and discovered that the show was actually moving along quite quickly, and it was almost time for D’Arcy to ride. This is the first time this has ever happened at a hunter show for me. There was no sitting around for hours waiting for my class! (This is probably one of those things that only happens once in a lifetime – I will never again experience the joy of a show moving along quickly.)

We actually had to hurry up to get ready (no hurry up and wait, literally just hurry). We quickly dressed, D’Arcy, usually the jumper, going for a “Jackie-O” style hunter look, with a green wool coat, and I looking more like a jumper rider with the tight tech jacket and a rhinestone helmet.  It seems this particular show attracted other casually dressed riders, as later we stood by the ring and judged the several others who were wearing black breeches, navy blue jean style breeches, and sweaters. How dare you all befoul that which is the formality of hunters.

I KID, I KID

www.frabz.com

We were joined by super amazing Shelby, who is the source of all the photos with her super amazing photography skills. 

hunter course discussion
“The key to victory is to approach from the south, come in at a 15 degree angle, navigate past the shrubs, and then also jump that oxer.”

We started our warm-up, which was basically as long as we wanted since D’Arcy was the next class to go, and one of two people in the class. We had a nice long warm-up in the competition ring, and were feeling pretty good. Pony had never done a course before, and after every jump, he would start breaking, thinking that was the end of the exercise. D’Arcy’s main goal was to keep him cantering. 

Truly a struggle for the tiny pony.

We had joked with the show organizer that it was Pony’s first show when we signed up, and from then on, she announced it each time she announced Pony and D’Arcy. 

“And now in the ring, D’Arcy, on Naponyman, who is doing his very first course!”

Naponyman conquers this 2′ oxer, and later on, he will conquer all of France.

“Champion is Naponyman, who is debuting at his very first show!”

He’s so pleased, he’s blushing!

 Moments later, it was time for me to warm up for the 2’6″ division. All the jumps were raised, and in I went. My goal was just to jump each jump one time, as I’d already jumped them all during the earlier warmup, I just wanted to make sure she realized that the jumps were higher now. 

D’Arcy gave me pointers on the approach, and I was practicing the diagonal line. The line went really well, but when I landed on the second jump, Berry got very upset, and gave an actual buck. She’s never actually bucked before, and I popped up in the air. It felt very high, and upon finding empty space where my horse used to be, I realized I was coming off. I went right over her shoulder, and saw the mess of her legs, but luckily she swerved and avoided me. I landed right on the best possible spot – my fleshy behind. It’s a built-in landing pad. I was up instantly, and for a moment it seemed like no one had even noticed I had come off. But then I saw D’Arcy coming over, and people started moving to block the loose horse. 

I haven’t fallen off in years, and I’ve never fallen off Berry, so that in itself was kind of a shock. I’ve had jumping fears for many years, basically up until I started doing hunters, so I was trying to reassure myself not to get worked up about this, and everything is fine. My behind also hurt a bit, but I just ignored that, and it went away as soon as I started riding again. I got back on quickly, and took a few minutes to compose myself. D’Arcy and Shelby were super supportive and really made me feel better. Thank you, Turk and Red <3. Then it was back to the line, time to get it together.

 I’m not entirely sure why Berry bucked to began with, so it was a little hard to diagnose. Our little team agreed that the line itself went great, but something on the landing pissed her off. The best I had figure is that it was because she landed on the wrong lead. Berry gets really upset when she’s on the wrong lead, which definitely puts me at a disadvantage when I can’t do flying lead changes. I decided the strategy was going to be – if she lands on the wrong lead, collect, compress, and do a nice counter canter. 

Wow, I’m actually looking towards my next jump! This is a monumental achievement!

After doing the line a bunch of times, it was time to move out and prepare for the actual course. Because there were actually a whole bunch of people in my class, it was time for the waiting. It was actually only like 10 minutes, but it felt like a lifetime. I was tempted to scratch, but I was told that was unacceptable, and I was going to do it. 

Eventually it was my turn, and in I went. With the exception of no flying lead changes, both rounds went well. There were a few long spots, I held the wrong lead through the turns, and did a few simples changes at times, but overall, it was pretty good!

ITS FUN, DAMNIT. WE DO THIS BECAUSE ITS FUN! 

It supposed to be fun…and it was fun. I love jumping! No need to panic, just relax, and have a good time. 

I did have boot issues again. I was nearly done with my course when my foot went numb, kind of like this. Luckily it was only one foot, and not both, but it was quite annoying. I was using borrowed boots because I didn’t want to wear the tall boots that caused my feet to go numb last time, and I don’t own black paddock boots to go with my half chaps, but apparently, I need to just pony up and get some boots that fit me. 

After my rounds, we celebrated with mimosas and/or beers. I decided to just scratch my next class, but we just hung out by the ring and watched the other riders go while grazing the horses. It was very fun, and Pony entertained us by watching all the horses go by with a fasinated expression. He tried to flirt with a few of them who were particularly booty-ful. 

Hurray! No one went to the hospital!

After having 3 or 4 mimosas, they called for my flat class. We’d been standing there so long, I thought it had already gone, but in a fit of tipsy energy, I decided to mount back on and go in. It was very relaxed and easy, exactly how I felt. But Berry got one of her leads wrong, and I’m pretty sure that’s why we didn’t place higher. But I did discover something very important: have a mimosa before any class, and they will all be easy and relaxed. Clearly, that is the lesson to be learned. 

They did the placings, and I got 2nd in one of the over fences class, which is definitely an all time high for any over fences class I’ve had. Hurray for success at 2’6″ before winning at 2’3″! I knew there was a good reason to move up! 

Very pleased Berry!

Now to just get those pesky lead changes… I suppose I’ll have to buckle down and actually work on them. 

Continue Reading

Berry Returns to her Homeland

Last weekend, I took Berry on a trip down to the barn where I had purchased her from, so many years ago. I even dragged Dave along, and he was willing to take photos for me. But, after he’d already been positioning himself for great photos and snapping away, we discovered I forgot to put the SD card in. Seriously, the worst.

But, he did get a few winners on my cell phone.

Whee, the long spot!

I took a lesson with Berry’s brief, former owner, who also trained Pony Man last year. She’s a pretty amazing person overall, but does not usually give lessons. I felt quite special getting one from her. 

The long spot in all its glory.

As with many equestrians, my main problem is confidence. I start to get scared, and then I lean forward, and then she jumps long. I must learn to stay tall and proud! Or something cheesy like that. Also, start actually trying to get lead changes. I basically give no effort, therefore, Berry gives no effort, and we go without. But that didn’t stop me from deciding to take her to a hunter show on Saturday! You know, one of those shows where if you can’t do the changes, there’s basically no point! Unless I can get her to land on the right lead each time. Sure, I haven’t practiced it at all, but maybe I will pull a miracle.

Why do jumps look monstrously huge in person, and then so tiny in pictures?

I’ll be showing her at 2’6″, which will be the highest I’ve ever showed her. I alternately feel great about it, or wonder what kind of horrible mistake I’m making. I’ve been slightly concerned that Berry doesn’t quite grasp the concept of jumping, which is why she has been failing to actually jump the jump, and instead just cantering/tripping over them. Trainer Sarah said I need to take her over some more solid jumps, so she had me take her over this very heavy and solid pole.

It felt like she was going to completely face plant, but she recovered quickly for the oxer that was next in the line. After that solid wack, she put in so much effort that she let out a grunt. It was kind of adorable. Her legs probably didn’t feel that great though.

I did feel really confident throughout the lesson, and it’s a really good feeling to just point at a jump, and know you can do it. I just need that feeling to stick with me on Saturday, and for good measure, forever. 

Continue Reading

Eventing Bingo – The Path to Victory

Berry and I had a discussion the other day. I asked her, “How would you like to be a winner for once?” She was quiet for a moment, thoughtful.

thoughtfulberry

I could tell she didn’t really care that much. But I wanted us to be winners. And I knew the first step was to trailer Berry to the Miami Dolphins stadium. It just seemed like the right thing to do, and if there’s anything I know from being a non-winner in the past, it was I should always act on my first gut feeling.

We traveled to Florida. The stadium parking lot was packed, probably because they knew I was coming. This cemented in my head that this was the right decision. I tacked up in the parking lot, and made my way into the stadium, the crowd of people parting before me, like I was Moses parting the Red Sea. There was a stadium jumping course set up on the football field. Some of the players were hurling themselves over the jumps, but I knew the real reason they were set up was for my coming.

Even though Berry has only jumped about 2’9″, I knew she was completely capable of these giant jumps – jumps so big I didn’t even know what their size was. But everything else was falling into place, so I knew this would, too.

I picked up a trot. We trotted over some of the painted field lines, Berry delicately picking up her feet as though they were ground poles. I picked up a canter. We quietly breezed around the stadium for 10 minutes. As I heard the annoyed shouts of bored patrons, and a cup of soda was throw into my shoulder, I realized I was losing the crowd. It was time to do the course. We headed towards the first jump. Berry exploded over it.

clearthestandards

Her front end lifted high above the standards. Time seemed to slow down as I reveled in the awed gasps of the crowd. Berry truly was my pegasus. I knew she had it in her.

But, then I sensed it. Her past was catching up to her – she was talented at smashing jumps down, and that’s what she was going to do. As time began moving along normally, I realized her back end hadn’t followed her up over the jumps. Her hind legs crashed into the poles, smashing the entire jump to the ground. The gasps of awe changed to gasps of horror…and then moments later, jeers.

I should have expected it, as Dolphins’ fans are known to be suspicious of the occult. But as Berry and I slowed to a walk, there came the first cry. “Witch!!” I heard someone scream. Others took up the cry. “She’s a witch!!!” The crowd became one moving force as they began shredding the stadium to start a burn pile. I took that as my cue to exit, and pushed the world’s slowest thoroughbred into the world’s slowest gallop. A golf cart easily caught up to me, it’s occupants continuing to scream, “WITCH!!”

As I went into the tunnel leading off the field, I heard the gold cart smash into the cement wall. After a moment’s pause, it exploded. One day people will learn not to load up their golf carts with explosives. But this did nothing to deter the crowd, who took this as a sign that I truly was a witch.

With no time to go to the trailer and load, we rushed across the parking lot into the nearby woods. As soon as we passed through the tree line, the sounds of the mob disappeared, and all we could hear was the sounds of birds chirping. We slowed our already slow pace to a slow walk, Berry immediately completely at ease. I decided to enjoy this jaunt through the woods which we waited for the dolphins’ fans to tucker themselves out so we could go back to the truck and trailer.

As we walked, I started noticing things that seemed a bit odd. I could hear random giggles, and rainbows kept shooting out of the woods. The sunlight beamed down and made everything glittery.

Berry liked it, though.
Berry liked it, though.

Glowing orbs kept popping up, intriguing me, and making me want to investigate. But Berry kept purposely walking on, not even noticing the light, so I decided not to press the issue.

After walking for a day and night, I decided this was a bit much. We needed to exit these woods already. How does Florida even have this much wilderness? We hadn’t even encountered a single alligator, although we did see a few tiny dragons. Sheesh. Florida!

There was a break in the woods, and I saw the first sign of human/horse life I’d seen since I entered this place. There was another rider ahead!

He looks so confident and strong. He'll probably help us find our way.
He looks so confident and strong. He’ll probably help us find our way.

We walked up, but the rider wasn’t interested in talking. Since I have a short attention span, I quickly grew tired of his non-response, and we passed him by. Sad really, as he’s going to be stuck in these woods a long time if he doesn’t start moving around.

After another day of walking, we finally made it out, exiting the woods at the exact spot we had entered, at the Dolphins’ stadium parking lot, but it was now completely empty, except for my truck and trailer. Sure, it was now laying on its side, but it still looked like it was in fairly good shape. Nothing a good buff job won’t fix!

As we approached the trailer, I saw a a flutter of something attached to the broken glass of the trailer window. I approached suspiciously, but as I got closer, I saw it was an envelope and a ribbon. I opened the envelope.

Congratulations! Of all the people we’ve had here, you were the worst. Please enjoy this last place ribbon.

Sincerly,

Dolphin’s Stadium.

There was a green ribbon attached to it. I glowed with pride as I put on a jacket and also, some other ribbons I had sitting around. I set up my camera on a tripod to take a victory photo:

Yay!! We're the best at trying!
Yay!! We’re the best at trying!

I was so pleased with Berry and I. We are such a team!! I used my mighty strength to flip my truck and trailer upright, and loaded up tired Berry in the trailer. I then took a look at myself. After traveling for two days through a Florida wood/swamp, I was looked pretty awful, despite being clean in the previous photo.

I also found some music to listen to. I have a long drive back to VA.
I also found some music to listen to. I have a long drive back to VA.

I find being dirty very uncomfortable, but I didn’t want to linger around the dolphin’s stadium in case they came back for revenge. The truck was a bit damaged, but I used my witch powers to get the engine in working order, and then grudgingly laid out a towel on the seat and climbed in. Time to head home, and maybe go back to hunters, where being a witch is both accepted and encouraged.

Confused? Well, you should be!

Continue Reading

Broken Reins

We had beautiful weather in Virginia this past weekend. It is basically spring, which means all the plants are preparing for spring, and they will probably die when it goes back to freezing weathering. Only the strong shall survive.

D’Arcy and I took advantage of the nice weather by going for a long trail ride at Manassas Battlefield. I think we rode about 8 miles, mixing up walking, trotting, and cantering with an occasional cross country jump we found. The horses got a little sweaty, but weren’t overwhelmed. I’m feeling good about getting them in shape.

stream crossing
We even went through several streams with no fuss!

However, at one point we were cantering through a field and Berry got a bit strong. I gave her some strong half halts, and then whoopsie, my reins broke (The metal part need the bit fell out). I was galloping through a field with only one rein. I starting to make a large circle, afraid of knocking her off balance, but shockingly, I managed not to panic and thought about stopping her with my body. And she stopped. Truly a marvel to behold: extremely slow and lazy thoroughbred stops when asked.

General question to everyone – how many reins have you broken in your lifetime of riding? This is the second set of reins I’ve broken. Dave thinks this is two too many, and no one should be breaking so many reins.

fixing reins
D’Arcy doing her best to fix/make useable the reins, and Berry loving being in her lap.

I will start using those saddle pads that have pockets to carry stuff, and I’ll bring rope with me next time, just in case. Of course, I’m sure once I start carrying it, I’ll never need it. That is probably for the best though.

Franken-reins
Franken-reins

The end result was I had very, very short reins. My leather has thick stiffness by the bit, so the best way to do it was to switch it so the thick part was by the pommel. I was basically neck reining with one abnormally short rein.

Obviously this didn’t stop us from continuing to trot, but D’Arcy kept Vintage next to me in case I needed a stopper. This highly technical technique can be summed up by  ramming one horse into the other horse. Luckily the horses are basically best friends, so what actually happened was, once Berry realized I wanted to keep pace with Vintage, she literally just did that.

I found no ticks after this ride, and therefore, it has redeemed itself since my last visit when I got at least 100 deer ticks on me, and that is not an exaggeration. I was treated for Lyme just in case. But, now that I don’t have ticks or Lyme, I would definitely recommend Manassas Battlefield to anyone in the area. I had so much fun, and there’s still like 12 more miles to explore.

There’s still warm weather in the forecast, so hopefully the good riding will keep coming!

Continue Reading

Berry is Out of Shape

You know, just to state the obvious…but so am I, so at least we are a matching pair of out of shape individuals. Our shape is more round, ball-like, and uncoordinated.

Burst_Cover_GIF_Action_20170205143750

I had my first lesson of the year last weekend. Berry was blowing pretty easily, which meant our lesson included lots walking breaks. We learning nothing new, and although it was intended to be a refresher, Berry didn’t actually need refreshing. She remembered how to do everything she could do before, including exerting no effort into jumping, and basically just making a slightly bigger canter stride.

berry
Her eyes are closed here. Awwwww…

Unfortunately it felt like a waste of money, and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s wasting money. Berry needs to be able to get through a 1 hour lesson without needing stop breaks. Lacking that, she definitely needs to be able to canter around a ring for mere minutes without her sides heaving.

It was a nice ride, though. It was great to see my trainer again, and it was great to just ride in general. I need riding for my mental well being. All horse people know this – We all turn into different people when we don’t regularly ride.

poffins
Poffins kindly demonstrating how akward and uncomfortable I feel when I’m not riding.

Once I made an effort to start riding, suddenly it seemed like I can fit riding into my schedule. It helps that the days are getting longer, but it riding regularly seems doable again. I sometimes lose a little heart when I think about how I have three of them to ride…and wonder why I thought it was a good idea to get three of them**…but my positivity means I will ignore that, and hope for the best.

**When we were kids, didn’t we always wish we had a full stable of horses to fit our discipline whim? HA! What a silly idea that is! (Sidenote – stop collecting horses…just don’t do it. Just because you could, doesn’t mean you should. Just keep thinking of the vaccination bills, my absolute, very least favorite thing to spend money on.)

But...the longing for just one more...
But…the longing for just one more…a lovely jumper foal…Vintage is getting old, WHAT WILL I RIDE WHEN SHE’S GONE?! (Besides, you know, the other ones…)

So, I have a plan, and although I wish I could reveal some devious, brilliant plan, it’s basically just that I’m going to ride more and not take another lesson until Berry is in shape.

Step 1: Just ride. Ride around the neighborhood, ride through your next door neighbor’s vacant lot he’s trying to sell, but he doesn’t live around here anymore, he’ll never notice a thing. Trailer to some trails, use vague promises friends once said about going riding to guilt them into being my trail buddy. YOU SAID IT, YOU CAN’T UN-SAY IT.

Step whatever-number: Drag my arena next time it rains so I can school in the arena again. In case you didn’t know, if stone dust arenas are rained on and not dragged within 2-3 days, they become as hard as cement. They require soooooo much dragging. I look forward to the day when I can get sand …. and a million other amenities, so I’m not really holding my breath. I just try to drag the arena as much as possible. It likes it, I can tell, except for those days when it tries to choke me out with clouds of dust. Then I am holding my breath.

But, despite what I said in the previous paragraph, I actually did not keep up with dragging my arena this winter – it is currently a block of cement. Luckily, this can be fixed, but I have to wait until it rains again. The rain will make it soft enough to drag. If I tried to drag it without rain, it would be like dragging a paved parking lot. The drag would do nothing. It cannot penetrate the solid block of rock.

Step 3: Obviously profit. Although I would then go to a lesson…so not really profit. More like deficit.

This makes me laugh.
Maybe stop bouncing so much next time. I won’t even charge myself for that bit of advice. 

I’m already looking forward to a weekend of riding. What I need to do is get that smug little pony in the rotation. He hasn’t even been ridden yet this year, but he did play tag with me in the pasture, so that was cute enough to get him off the hook. It is annoying that I’m always “it,” I feel like it would be much more fair if he took a turn…

Unless this is the start of him running away from me when I actually want to catch him… In which case, now I’m just annoyed. Damn that wily, conniving pony.

Continue Reading

Winter Ride #2

I feel like the above photo wouldn’t look at all out of place in the 70’s. It just has such a 70’s horse feel to it. Something about her (our) pig-like body, and the color tone, it just screams it.

But I digress.

Keeping my motivation going, I trailered back out again, this time taking Shelby with me. We went to the ring again for some gentle riding and a few jumps, emphasis on the gentle. I’m trying to get them in shape, not murder their will to live.

Apparently I took for granted Berry getting the right distances the day before, because she wasn’t finding it easy the next day. I also wasn’t helping her at all. In addition to still having that loose leg, I was tipping forward before each jump. Knock it off, Courtney!

Enjoy my latest attempt at editing a video, complete with draw-ins. I haven’t gotten the hang of this new-fangled technology, but I’ll be sure to keep annoying everyone who watches my videos with my clumsy attempts. Maybe one day I will have the finesse of a professional YouTuber.

I am theorizing that Berry thought the shadow was part of the jump – but that only excuses the second jump, not the first. My excuse for the first jump is that I’m a terrible jumper who hasn’t had a lesson in months and doesn’t know what she’s doing. Berry reminded me of this by getting upset right after the second jump, and did a little crow hop to express her displeasure. Sorry, Berry. I’ll work on it.

Vintage didn’t care about that barrel today though. Yaaaaay. But she did continue to exert way more effort than required over the jumps. I have a good feeling about where this could go as she gets more in shape… Although there’s only so high a 19 year old horse can go.

After some gentle jumping, we were off on a trail ride.

james long park
Shocking, they kept pace with each other this time. That meant actual conversations could be had instead of being 30 feet apart, screaming back and forth: “WHAT??”

In our exploring, we found downed trees. At the first log, I was too nervous to attempt it. It was kind of on an uphill, and it looks intimidating. It was also super simple to walk around. Shelby wasn’t intimidated though, so at the next log, I decided I was capable of it. We ended up passing the same log several times on our route, and while we stepped over it the first time, we decided to jump it the other times. It was nice and easy. Then we came to another one blocking the trail, and Shelby and Vintage popped over it, and I had to hold Berry back so she wouldn’t rush it. That log was no problem at all! I dominated those three single logs.

Basically, what I’m saying is I need more natural jumps to jump. Three logs just isn’t enough.

No log jumping photos, unfortunately, but here's another trail photo!
No log jumping photos, unfortunately, but here’s another trail photo!

Now it looks like snow is in the forecast, thus ending my short lived impulse motivation… or will it!? Tune in next time for the thrilling answer.

Continue Reading

Hunter Pace

riding in the woods

If you’re wondering why I put up posts at a snail’s pace, it’s because I have a new job. It’s a pretty awesome job, but I end up having very little free time. When I get home, I either want to fall asleep, or just become comatose.

Dave, understanding my exhaustion, has been offering to take care of the horses at night. I thought that was pretty great until he said his true purpose: I don’t post enough, and with him taking care of the horses, I should spend the time making a post. I guess that’s still great, it just means I have to use my brain (slightly) instead of going into hibernation mode. I do have some catching up to do, let’s see how fast I can get this all out.

First, we will backtrack into October. I did a hunter pace with D’Arcy. She rode Vintage, and I rode Berry.

Berry sometimes leans on Vintage for emotional support.
Berry sometimes leans on Vintage for emotional support.

My horses have not been ridden regularly in a few weeks, so I was anticipating a slow pace. When we first got there, Vintage was her normal self, but Berry decided the grass field filled with trucks and trailers was the most exciting thing she had ever seen in her life. I mounted up as quickly as I could, and while I was waiting for D’Arcy (Vintage was doing the mounting dance where she takes two steps up, and then when asked to back, goes back 5 steps) Berry actually started doing little rears and prancing. The little snot!

But the good thing about Berry is that she really doesn’t have that much juice. She was a bit hyper while we walked down, but after warming up and waiting to go, she ran out of batteries. Then she was mostly interested in eyeing up her competition (likely wondering if they could be friends), and rubbing her entire head on Vintage’s body. Surprisingly, Vintage did not seem to mind this, although D’Arcy didn’t appreciate a horse head smashing into her leg every three minutes or so.

The reason I have been waiting to post this is because I really wanted to post one of the official photographer photos. At the very start of the race, there was a small split rail fence. I think it was around 2’3″. This was the shot the photographer was going for. I wasn’t going to do the jump because I hadn’t jumped Berry in forever, and if there’s one thing I am, it’s cowardly. But D’Arcy is not, so she was going to do it.

When they called for us to go, D’Arcy aimed for it, and as she approached, Berry spooked at a truck, because that’s what Berry does. Vintage refused the jump. D’Arcy immediately got her going at it again, and Vintage decided it worked so well the first time, she was going to do it again. She refused. This time she rightfully got a spanking, and D’Arcy went at it again.

That time, she took a huuuuge leap over it. The crowd nearby gave an “Oooooo!” It was magical. And that is the picture we are hoping the photographer got. Who knows if it will surface though…

But, we continued on. The route was about 5 miles, and we probably weren’t as fast as we could have been. Like I said, out of shape horses. But we had some good galloping streaks in.

hayfield
This was a good field for speed.

There were a bunch of jumps that looked like they would have been fun, but again, coward here. I hate that I said this last year too, but maybe next year I will jump them…maybe…

We treked through onward through the woods, where we saw the group behind us was catching up. That encouraged our forward motion.

One of us anyway...the other still moved at a leisurely pace.
One of us anyway…the other still moved at a leisurely pace.

In all seriousness though, despite Berry being the world’s slowest thoroughbred, she is out slowed by Vintage at a walk. Vintage can beat her at a gallop, but Berry wins the walking race. Just stick to your strong gait, Berry.

Turns out the team that was passing us was a jumping team, so they gained a lead. But when one of their horses wouldn’t go over a stone wall we gained a small lead, for about a minute. Then they got over the jump and breezed by our couch potato animals. Somehow, I don’t think Berry and Vintage cared. They don’t have the competitive edge.

We eventually ambled our way to the finish line, and decided we really wanted a good finish photo, so we took up a gallop. The world’s slowest thoroughbred was quickly left behind, so likely our finish photo will actually be two finish photos. Maybe they can be photoshopped together so we look like a team.

Hopefully, I will have the energy to get this blog up to date, and also be able to catch up on you guy’s blogs!

Continue Reading