Georgie’s Purpose

I believe that horses, unlike a cat, or sometimes even a dog, must have a purpose. For me, spending a large chunk of my paycheck on the board, care, and training of a horse, means that they must have some sort of purpose for me. I can’t afford a pasture ornament. Which is why, when Georgie injured her suspensory ligament, I gave up my lease on her. It was heartbreaking, but I couldn’t afford to pay for her, as well as another horse.

I got really lucky in that her owner took on the costs of Georgie’s care and board, but asked if I could still care for her. Ride her and keep an eye on her, see how she was healing. This has worked out really well for all of us, especially since we moved Georgie back to my barn. I can ride and care for her as well as ride Macy, and I can give her owner frequent reports on her progress.

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I avoid sending her pictures like this one, where Georgie looks miserable

This past Friday we had another 6 month recheck on Georgie’s soundness. To me, she feels good. I sometimes feel an off step, but she seems much more willing to work and looks and feels quite sound.

The veterinarian confirmed that Georgie is, in fact, doing much better. She approved her for harder dressage work, as well as some light jumping. We’ll see how she handles that work load and as we get her more fit, how she does.

I was obviously thrilled with this information and began formulating plans for our future. But then I remembered, she’s no longer my horse. Her owner has no obligation to let me take Georgie to an event and go Intro or Beginner Novice. I can make plans on this horse this coming year as much as I coud last year. They’re completely uncertain.

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As I drove home from the vet appointment I was struck with what Georgie’s purpose is. It’s not to jump jumps or do upper level dressage movements.

Georgie’s purpose is to remind me how fun riding horses is.

Macy has been a bit, um, high, lately, probably since we’re restricted to indoor work, and riding her has been more of a challenge. This is fine, in that I know to expect that when I ride Macy, I need to work hard and be patient and not plan on enjoying the ride.

When June comes back and we get to work, I am going to be challenged left and right with her. She’s not going to be easy and that’s ok. She’s a baby horse and we need to figure things out together.

But Georgie is my rock. She’s the mare I can hop on and just enjoy it. And sometimes, that’s exactly what I need. I stopped by the barn to ride and it was chaos. A jump lesson was going on, horses were tied up all over the arena and it was just a frenetic environment. I knew Macy was a no go unless I wanted to struggle with her the entire time, so I pulled out Georgie. She got to work and didn’t put a foot out of place. All my stress and worries from the day disappeared.

This is why I ride.

Thanks Georgie, for giving that to me.

 

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Goal Recap

Oh what a year it’s been. I’m kinda happy to have it all behind me! My goals were set pre-Georgie injury, but I thought it was still worthwhile to see how I did with them. So, here goes!

Personal Goals:

  • I decided on this one while on my run this morning… Do a 10k. At first I was like “sign up and finish a 10k race” but to be honest, I’m not sure I want to enter a race and spend the money. So, my goal has been revised to just getting a 10k done. By July. DONE! I ran multiple 6-7 mile runs throughout the year and did do a fun 10k race as well!
  • Remain fit and continue to make fitness and health a priority. I’m 10 pounds into a 20 pound weight loss, but I want to make sure I don’t lose sight of staying fit. Being active makes me happy.  DONE! I lost about 25lbs total and was running and hiking all year, probably the fittest I have been in a while
  • Balance your personal life with your equestrian life. I want to hike more. I want to say yes to more things that aren’t horse related. While still being a dedicated equestrian. Let me know if this is unrealistic… 😉 Sort of done… I still, even without my own horse, was spending a LOT of time at the barn. I didn’t go for nearly as many day hikes as I wanted. I was proud of myself for going to Portland and the Oregon Coast when Macy was not sound enough for our eventing debut in October, rather than staying home and feeling sad.

Riding Goals:

  1. Be able to do trot sets for 15 minutes in jumping position by the end of the winter. I think I can do this one. It’s just a matter of getting out there and getting it done. I can be pretty lazy about trot sets.  DONE! So, I am pretty sure I did this earlier in the year, but then repeated it for TwoPoint’Tober.
  2. When I ride, remember to ask more of Georgie in each ride. I need to stop being complacent as to where we are at in our training. She’s at the point where I can ask and expect more of her. And I should. Sort of done? I am moving this over to Macy, and still struggle with this, even with her. Work in progress…
  3. Sometimes, just enjoy the ride. Go for a hack. Explore a new trail. Don’t make it all about training all the time. DONE! With June I learned all about horsemanship and doing more with horses than just getting ready for a competition.
  4. Get the most out of each ride. If I’m going to work on jumping, how about I work on multiple things, rather than just one thing. If I am going to ride for 30 minutes, how about I spend those entire 30 minutes working…. Eh, sort of. It’s a great idea though!
  5. Enjoy stadium jumping. Figuring out a way to keep my brain from spinning out of control would be awesome.  Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year I REALLY enjoyed stadium jumping with Macy. And totally had thoughtful rides where my brain was engaged. Probably the highlight of the year.

Competition Goals:

  1. Go Prelim at a recognized event. I have to make this a goal since it’s on the table now. Nope. Big Nope. So sad.
  2. Let Georgie jump the tables. I need to just let her jump out of stride at a gallop. Even if at first it feels uncomfortable and makes me wince a little. Nope. God Damn it. These are zero fun.
  3. In each element of the competition, give Georgie a thoughtful ride. In dressage, think about your next movement, on xc, think about the next fence and how to approach it, and in stadium jumping, just think. I think that if I can do this, we are going to be a really successful pair.  Um I didn’t compete Macy xc either so this is a NOPE.
  4. Have fun at the competitions. This hasn’t ever been a problem, but if it becomes one, I think it is time for me to hang up my hat. Well, I had fun at schooling shows, so DONE. Yay for one of these
  5. Do not care about where you placed. Look back at the competition and think about how your rides made you feel as a rider. You are only competing with yourself. Sometimes a high or low score can dictate how I feel about a ride. And it really shouldn’t. I have no idea where those other riders are in their training, or what their expectations are for themselves. I can and should only concentrate on my ride with my horse. DONE! I was happy to be alive and still on Macy, so this was a WIN!

Well, there you go. For an upside down year, at least I got some of my goals accomplished! How did you do?

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Dressage Show Fun

Yeah, I know, dressage and fun aren’t usually two words that go together. But I had not only signed up Macy for the show, but Georgie was making her debut for the 2017 season. Better late than never, I suppose.

Since Georgie hasn’t been doing much other than trotting around the edge of the arena, I signed her up for Intro B. It’s one of the most boring tests ever created, and is only walk/trot. But, I decided that it’s the level we’re currently at- I didn’t want her doing anything smaller than a 20m circle and she’s not ready to canter in a test. And while some people may have made fun of me for doing a walk/trot test, I stand by my decision.

I thought Georgie would walk into the indoor arena, see the other horses, and get all excited to be at a show. This did not happen. She acted completely not amused the entire time. Mare just doesn’t like dressage.

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I, on the other hand, am completely excited. PC: M.Graves

Georgie was perfect. I mean, she didn’t really want to bend, but ya know, that’s ok. She walked and trotted through that test like she owned it. And we scored a 74.5%, which put us in first place. Yes, people made fun of me for how excited I was to win a walk/trot test on my Training/Prelim mare, but I don’t care. It’s Georgie. And she’s always a star, no matter what test we are doing.

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Because I sold my dressage saddle and refuse to buy one until I have a horse of my own that I am riding, I got to do the test in a jump saddle which is always fun.

She felt sound, looked sound, and our vet check today will tell us more about this mare’s future.

As for Macy, I had signed up to do eventing test Modified A. I kinda like this new level. It’s a fun step up from Training but not asking quite as much as Prelim does.

I was lucky that we had no other horses in the outdoor arena with us for much of warm up. Macy was being a bit spooky and annoying, so I would just put her nose to her chest and get her going forward. But then she just came unglued. She bolted and took off full speed towards the opposite end of the arena. While this entire incident took less than 10 seconds, as she was bolting away I thought “what is she spooking at?” “why isn’t she stopping?” “OMG she is going to jump out of the arena.” Which led to  “she is spooking at the sound of the ladder being drug across gravel.” “KARL STOP MOVING THAT LADDER!!” And then grabbing the right rein and turning Macy away from the end of the arena. And while I did get her to stop, she was still acting all cuckoo, so I walked her for a moment and then hopped off, hoping to show her that what she was scared of wasn’t scary. Silly me. This isn’t a normal horse. I led Macy over there and she bolted from me again, and galloped across the arena, reins flying. So, out of options and patience, I got back on her, and put her back to work. I was told I did a good job staying on, so there’s that.

I have zero Macy media, which is fine, she doesn’t deserve it. So here is more of Georgie. 

Once we got into the indoor arena, Macy acted like the circus happening outside had never occurred. She stood on the buckle while another horse did its test, and she warmed up moderately calmly. About as un-tense as I could ask for with Macy.

Our tests were fine. We had some schooling moments. And some moments I’d be ok forgetting. Like, when I just couldn’t for the life of me leg yield right. I need an entire lesson dedicated to the leg yield, because I am really failing at it right now, and it’s really not that tough.

Our scores were fine, and about what I expected (35 something and 36 something, we did the test twice), and all in all I was glad to be done with it and be alive. JK. Sort of.

I think next time around I’ll enter Macy in the Prix Caprilli and let her jump around. I’m sure we’ll get great scores with all the head tossing she likes to do. But at least we’ll be jumping, so that’s fun.

Sarah was laughing when I told her what happened in warm up and was like “I can’t tell you how many times people would catch Macy at a show and ask if I was ok as I came walking up to get her and I would have to explain how I hadn’t been on her yet.” She then asked me if I was scared of Macy and I was like “Nope. Just annoyed. And kinda over it. Still.” Because these moments aren’t really scary, they’re just super duper annoying. And while she probably wouldn’t have jumped over the arena fence a)one really never knows what Macy is going to do and b) at least had she jumped it, she has the scope to clear it, so maybe I would have been ok. But I would really prefer a horse with whom I don’t have situations like this. At 17 years old. So, lets just all hope that spring time comes soon so I can get back to work with baby June, lol.

 

Back East Adventures

Between makeover sessions with the horses, I had some time to get out and explore. And by explore I mean go meet people who live/ride here that I have only virtually met!

I’m probably the furthest thing from a tack ho, (although I did find a steal of a deal on Black Friday), but there are certain things I see and love and MUST HAVE.

One of these items was a browband from Dark Jewel Designs. I can’t say enough about how well made and beautiful these browbands are. And when I found out Amelia keeps her horse in my hometown, well, I had to go meet this creative genius.

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I ❤ this browband so much

Amelia boards her horse about 10 minutes from my family farm on a road I used to meet the fox hunt on regularly. It was like a stroll down memory lane. She’s as nice a person as one could meet, and she was kind enough to give me a tour of the facility and point out some really adorable (and really talented) residents.

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Two broodmares who were looking for some love. Or carrots

The real star of the show was Amelia’s horse Duke.

At 23 he’s a true school master and despite his size seemed like a true gentle giant. And did I mention he’s Irish? I briefly looked around for a trailer I could put him in so I could take him home with me, but then thought better of it. I mean, he and Dublin would be adorable together…but…he’s not my horse so that might be awkward.

 

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Handsome Duke

It was great to meet Amelia, see her barn, and meet the horses. I can’t wait until June is competing just so I can buy some more browbands! Seriously guys, at $50 for TWO strands, they’re  a literal steal. And they last and are the perfect amount of bling. As someone who cares very little about “stuff” the fact that I love these browbands so much says something…

Anyway, a fun trip home all around. Especially hanging out with canines and horses. And family. Sometimes I forget about them when there are so many cute critters around.

I hope you all had an equally great holiday weekend!

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Dublin. I can never have too many pics of him

Thanksgiving Makeover

I received this text from my Dad while travelling home for Thanksgiving.

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Nothing makes me happier than some quality horse time. Especially when I get to hang out with the original heart horse, Dublin.

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But I wasn’t quite prepared for just how bad their manes and tails really were.

Apparently it’s burr season in NY.

All I can say is thank you to whomever created Laser Sheen.

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Priscilla’s forelock was definitely the worst. I called it a burr bun. It’s a hairstyle that has not really taken off.

A good dousing of Laser Sheen, some tearing apart with fingers followed by shedding blade and the burrs actually came out quite easily.

My Dad mentioned he had cut some out earlier, which made me cringe, obviously, but I did what I could to get them beautified.

For two retired pasture ponies, whose forelocks have been chopped off, it didn’t come out half bad.

Looking forward to having to start all over tomorrow.

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What Macy Has Taught Me

As I begin to reflect on a year that initially turned upside down, I have a lot to be thankful for that I would have never expected. Probably the biggest surprise of the year has been my relationship with Macy and how it has evolved over the past 10 months. She has taught me so much and before the year is over, I wanted to document what I’ve learned from her.

  1. Trust Your Gut

Probably one of the smartest things I did with Macy was declare that I didn’t want to ride her anymore. My confidence was shot, I wasn’t enjoying myself and I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to have a stress free ride on her. It was tough for me to swallow my pride and step away, but it was the best thing I could have done. Because, in admitting shit was not going well, I was able to take all the pressure off. I started having lessons at the walk. By only riding in lessons I never felt out of my comfort zone, and I was able to relax and knew that if I wanted to call it quits at any time, I could. It changed everything. Macy and I built a relationship and were able to move forward.

2. Be Flexible

Oh Macy. If only she was uncomplicated. Once I started riding her, I felt like I had to have a plan. I signed up for a recognized event at the Training level and about 4 weeks prior to the event I realized there was no way I was going to be able to ride the mare cross country without fear of dying. Then, 4 months later, I again signed up for a recognized event at Training and felt ready. But Macy was off, between ulcers and some lameness there was no way we were going to an event together. And it sucked. But I was proud of how ready I felt, and while none of my plans went as I wanted, it was ok. I was still able to enjoy this partnership.

3. No Trust, No Fun

See all of the above.  But, once you get that trust, things can fall into place and you remember why you are on a horse, galloping towards solid obstacles. And there is nothing better.

4. When In Doubt, More Leg

Seriously. It doesn’t matter what horse you are on. The minute I put my leg on, and get Macy forward, we had great rounds. No matter what discipline. But for me, I saw the most improvement in my xc riding. It also had a lot to do with me finally trusting Macy and knowing she would jump the jumps.

5. You Can Ride Your Trainer’s Horse and Not Ruin a Friendship

Sarah is my closest friend and also my trainer. And we thought it would be a good idea for me to ride her heart horse. Hello, does that not sound like imminent disaster? And sure, maybe I don’t blog about how sometimes I think Sarah wants to kill me when I am riding her horse poorly, or how sometimes I want to kill her when she says “Oh, she’s fine” as the mare is bolting down the length of the arena. But, somehow, this crazy grey mare makes us both laugh or say “you little shit” in unison, and somehow has made Sarah and I even closer friends. Sometimes bonding over a horse creates the strongest bond of all.

6. Be Thankful For Every Ride

I could have easily walked away from riding for the year. But instead I decided to challenge myself with a horse completely out of my comfort zone. And because of it I have grown as a rider and am so thankful for how much I have developed not only as a rider, but as a horsewoman.

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Thanks Macy for all you’ve taught me!

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How You Know You Have a Heart Horse

You know how people are always saying “You just know when he/she is the one?” Well, they’re typically talking about another human, but I think this phrase can extend well beyond finding our human love.

I’ve ridden lots of horses in the last year. Lots of really nice horses who I have built relationships with. And while Macy certainly hasn’t been easy, she makes such light work of jumping 3’6 and teaching me upper level dressage movements, that I’ve really come to appreciate her.

Riding Sarah’s young competition horse, and experiencing such an uphill canter has been eye opening to me.

And even Val, the cute Swedish Warmblood I rode for a couple of months made me realize that an extended trot is something I hope I get to ride again one day.

But in all honesty, all these horses have just been a ride to me. No matter how much they’ve taught me, or how much I have enjoyed them, there has always been something missing.

Because I have had the opportunity to ride some really broke, really nice horses, I’ve looked at Georgie a bit differently. There have been  moments when I bring Georgie out of her paddock and in for her rehab ride that I think “Remember when I thought you were something special? Compared to these other horses, you’re nothing fancy.”

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Maybe not fancy, but awfully cute

It’s horrible that I think that. I completely realize that.

But here is the learning lesson.

EVERY SINGLE TIME I GET ON GEORGIE I FEEL LIKE I AM HOME.

It deserves caps lock.

I have been riding her in a halter and without stirrups (gotta participate in no stirrup November somehow) and we trot and canter around like its NBD. She never puts a foot out of place and I just feel so comfortable on her. It takes me a moment to realize I’m not on Macy, and if she’s looking at something, it doesn’t mean she is going to spook, and I can just relax and enjoy myself.

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I don’t care about other horse’s uphill canters, or light work of big jumps. I still just want this mare. Even though I know she won’t take me back to the T3D at Rebecca, I’m so glad I still have her in my life, because when I am on her, it’s everything riding horses is supposed to be.

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She keeps reminding me that she truly is my heart horse.