Category Archives: eventing

Tall Boots; I Get It

So, while I have been on the quest for a pair of half chaps, I have also been on a bit of a spending bender when it comes to tall boots.

You see, I had a pair of Mountain Horse tall boots, Firenze, I believe, and they never recovered from our adventures in Ireland. The mud. They never recovered from the mud. And when the zipper broke for the third time, I decided to retire them. BTW, it’s really weird throwing boots away. Am I wrong?

So, I was on the hunt. But, seeing as I have zero things on the horizon that would require tall boots, I decided to be REALLY picky. And by picky, I mean wait for an incredible sale.

It didn’t take long. While home for Thanksgiving I stopped by a local tack store. Sadly, it was closing shop. Not sadly (for me,anyway) everything was 50% off. There wasn’t much inventory left but they had a few  Ariat tall boots.

There was only one pair in my size. And they were brown. I’ve never had brown boots before… But I put them on and it was magical. So, in order to justify the purchase I got a navy show coat too…

They are Ariat Heritage Field boots and I love them.

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I’ve started breaking them in but am planning on using them for clinics and shows only. Cause I am like that with my boots. I love Ariat. I figure there is a solid reason they’ve been around forever. Quality products in my opinion.

But, I knew I still needed black show boots. So I would occasionally check on sales etc. And then one day I googled Tredstep Donatello. And Horse.com (a company I have never bought from) had one pair left. For $84. But there was one problem. They were a size too big.

But for $84? I decided to buy them with the thought that if they don’t fit at all, I can send them back or re-sell them.

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So, they fit. Kinda. They’re too big, but not REALLY too big. I added a heel lift and they came with a size adjuster thingy and those both helped. I’ve been riding in them regularly, and while I am still on the hunt for another pair of boots that are juuusst riiight, these will certainly do in the meantime.

Tredstep, Mountain Horse and Ariat were the three brands I was looking at, and I am excited to have found two pairs I am really happy with! So, do you have either of these boots? Love them? I hope you do!

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June Update

June is constantly in my thoughts, and not having her home is getting more and more difficult, but I know this break is good for her and she will be even more ready to be a unicorn when I get her back in April.

She’s living about 5 hours from me, over at least one mountain pass, so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to see her this winter. But a work trip to the town where she is living meant a super quick, but totally worth it, visit!

She’s living out on a cross country course/pasture with her mom, half brother, and three other horses. As I walked out to where all the horses were milling about, I immediately recognized her.

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Tough to get a good pic in the trees, but obvi she looks adorable

I’d like to think she remembered me, but I think she just wanted cookies.

I hung out with her for a little bit and then we took her down to the arena to play with her a little bit. For some reason there wasn’t a halter handy, so a make shift halter was made with a lariat.

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So cute!

She’s a fuzzy monster, and seems very happy kicking back with family and friends. She was willing to be put to work, but we asked very little of her. I mean, she is on vacation, and no one should work on vacation…

Missing this mare and counting down to April!

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My High School Self

I don’t particularly love who I was in high school. I wasn’t a horrible person, but I was your typical high school teen.

I had major mood swings.

I wasn’t a good communicator.

I was overly worried about what was going on around me instead of just being confident with who I was.

And while I was a good athlete and student, it didn’t come naturally to me. I had to work hard to gain All American honors in lacrosse and I worked incredibly hard to make it into AP classes. I resented those who made light work of both academics and sports.

So…

I was riding Macy the other day when it struck me. Macy is my high school self.

Lets explore this a bit further.

On the day I was riding her a lesson was going on. Macy was so preoccupied with this other horse in the arena. Every time it got near us she would pin her ears and throw her head threatening to bite the horse.

Just SLIGHTLY preoccupied with others.  Just SLIGHTLY worried about what was going on around her instead of just doing her thing.

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Always worried about what’s going on around her…

And while Macy is an above average athlete (and way more talented than I was in high school), dressage does not come naturally to her. She’s not built to make any of this easy. She’s downhill with this huge barrel, and she doesn’t exactly scream light on her feet. And yet, with hard work and determination, she makes it happen. It’s not easy, but she’ll be damned if any horse thinks she isn’t serious competition. And so, she refuses to make friends with the competition and instead keeps them at bay and keeps working at it, proving them all wrong.

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I mean.. it’s just not that pretty a picture. Love ya May! (most days)

Oh and the mood swings. Do we even need to go there? She is the moodiest mare there ever was. And instead of just communicating in a normal, rational way, instead she takes EVERYTHING to the max. Talk about a drama queen. It’s exhausting.

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It’s all or nothing with this horse

So, maybe Macy is stuck forever being a teenager. I feel for her, that is NOT a fun place to be. And while I want to comfort her, another part of me just wants to slap her and tell her to grow up. Being a perpetual teenager isn’t fun for any of us.

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New Year’s Shenanigans

I’ve been worried about the fact that we have no snow. It’s just not normal. But, rather than worry about what may happen this summer with so little water, I decided to take advantage of the fact that we can still ride outside when the temps allow it.

On New Year’s Eve day, Sarah and I decided to head out into the hills and enjoy a trail ride. I was fully prepared to take Georgie, since I wanted to enjoy myself, but last minute decided to take Macy, since poor mare really hasn’t gotten outside lately.

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The ride ended up being a terrific climb. We went up and up and up (at which point I realized this would be way too much for Georgie right now) and when we got to the top, we tried to find a way to loop back around to the trailer. When we realized that wasn’t going to happen we began the descent.

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About halfway to the top where we turned around

Macy was actually phenomenal. Sure, she spooked at Siri every time she saw her, but the spooks were minor and no big deal. She worked hard to get up the mountain and proved to me she was a great trail horse. Because there were really steep parts on the way down I ended up hopping off May and walking alongside her. The old girl was having some trouble, and having me on her back wasn’t helping anything.

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She and Rapid have a serious love affair going on.

It was a super fun day, but I knew Macy would be tired, which had me concerned because we had BIG plans on New Years Day.

It has become a tradition for Sarah and I to ride horses New Years Day. Either in a lesson with her trainer Gary Mittleider, or with each other, just goofing around. This year, we decided to have a lot of fun with the ride. We made a trivia game of sorts. One person asks a trivia question and if the other person gets the answer correctly, they get to jump whichever jump they want. If they get the answer wrong, the person asking the question  decides what they jump. You get a point for every question answered correctly as well as for every jump completed successfully. Winner gets bragging rights for an entire month.

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What the arena looked like when I arrived

Sarah had set up all sorts of fun jumps. A bounce set on a fan, a 3 or 4 stride line, a corner, a skinny, and a vertical with a tarp over it.

She also had one more surprise in my cubby….

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A mimosa!!

The ride was incredibly fun and we laughed a lot. I was impressed that Sarah was getting my trivia questions right, especially since I was asking questions like “What was the name Dublin had when he first came to my family?” Ok, so she didn’t get THAT one right, (it was Beau), but she really listens to MOST of what I say when I rattle on about my life, which was impressive.

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This corner was my favorite jump

Macy was for sure a bit stiff and sore from the previous day, but she saw the jumps and was ready to play. We kept them all 3′ and below except the skinny, so I knew we wouldn’t be asking too much of the horses.

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I liked it so much, we jumped it both ways….

In the end, Sarah and I tied. We each had one jump boo boo (Macy hit the rail on the skinny and Rapid thought the skinny was to be avoided), and got an equal number of the trivia questions correctly. So, in the end we were both winners. Which meant, time to celebrate!

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Macy was a winner as well, but she didn’t want the mimosa which was fine with me…

A super fun way to start the year. Horses and friends, life is good!IMG_7712

I hope you had an equally great start to what is undoubtedly going to be a great year!

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2018 Goals

As we head into the New Year, I’ve decided to make some goals, even though I have NO IDEA what the year will bring. I don’t even know if I will have a horse to ride, so that’s fun. But hey, let’s be optimistic and pretend all will go swimmingly!

HORSE GOALS

1) Take Georgie Intro or BN at an event. I like to call this one my sanity goal. It makes absolutely no sense to take her to an event. Especially since events aren’t less than 5 hours away. But, I have a feeling I will be wanting to do this so badly. Especially after dealing with a baby horse and a Macy horse. Sometimes I just need Georgie to remind me of how fun all of this can be. Plus, seeing her ears on XC and feeling her excitement will be totally worth it. Obviously this goal is 100% dependent on her soundness and her owner allowing me to take her. But we’ll make it a goal so I can remain sane.

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Yup, this is the unicorn that makes me happy…

 

2) Get June out and about April and May. June comes back the beginning of April and I plan on getting her right to work. Work, meaning refreshing her baby brain on all the ground work we did. I also am really really really hoping I can pony her off of Georgie. There’s no better horse to learn about trail riding with and I think June will love getting out there with a friend.

3) Get a bit more serious with June come June. Hopefully in June, June will start to get some nice under saddle rides. And by nice I mean we can work on moving from the leg, steering, stopping and you know, the basics of riding. Because… my big goal is….

4) Enter June in a FEH 4 year old class. This class was new last year. From what I’ve read it is a FEH class, not YEH, so no jumping under saddle. It’s walk, trot, canter, conformation and free jumping. They are held at a couple of events we go to, and I would LOVE to get June to one this year. She’s built well, and has some nice movement in the trot, so I think it won’t be a total waste of time. Plus, it gives me a riding goal to work towards. If we hit roadblocks, or she just isn’t ready, totally fine. I’m not going to push it with her.

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Yes please to this gallop.

No real Macy goals as I am not sure where she’ll be in my life when June returns. Plus, some days I really just want to call it quits with her, and other days I am in love with her, so I feel like setting goals will only add more stress I don’t need. I hope to still have her in my life to ride and learn from, we’ll just have to see where she fits in and what she’s up for doing.

Personal Goals

  1. Become a better rider. I know, duh. BUT, before Macy I wasn’t able to ride horses like Macy. And now I kinda can. And I have learned so much and have become a much stronger rider. But man, there are still things I need to work on. Really simple things, and minutia things, and I want to work on them. I want to take each ride seriously (except for when I am ponying June from Georgie. I just want to enjoy that and hopefully giggle a lot), and be more focused in my free rides. I feel like June will make me do that, just as Macy has, so that will help.
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Thanks May!

  1. Go back to Ireland. This one is happening in 2018. I cannot wait to jump those Irish beasts again!!
  2. Keep running and continue to make fitness a priority.
  3. Enjoy where I live and get out there. I really need to continue doing this.

So, there we have it. Come on 2018, show me what you’ve got!

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Not Right

I just experienced the most frustrating lesson EVER. Like, EVER.

I was in a good mood and ready to get to work. But it was like the minute I picked up the trot, Trainer Sarah was ON ME. I had to keep asking her to tell me what to do in a different way, as what she was saying didn’t resonate. She was asking me to do things I THOUGHT I was doing, so I felt like I had no idea what she was asking me to do.

We were working on the leg yield off my right leg. Something I constantly struggle with. I was trying to get Macy to bend around my inside leg and connect to my outside rein. I was working SO HARD with my right leg, getting her to bend, come up, and into the contact.

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Neither of us are happy

And it just wasn’t happening. And Trainer Sarah was getting really, really, annoyed with me. She kept telling me the same thing, or trying to explain what she wanted in some way that might make sense, and it WAS NOT HAPPENING.

At one point, I was thinking “At the end of this lesson, I need to tell Sarah Macy is NOT the horse for me and dressage is NOT the discipline for me, and I want to take some time off from all of it.”

I also just wanted the lesson to end, as my hip was KILLING me from trying to get Macy to bend around my inside leg. And I just kept saying “I’m working my ASS off.” And for a few steps it would be ok, and then it was just not happening again.

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So finally, like 45 minutes later, Trainer Sarah said, ok, just go left.

And I changed direction, starting yielding Macy off of my left leg and it was smooth, simple and easy. And that’s when Trainer Sarah had me stop. She told me that was Macy’s more difficult direction, but I had made it look easy.

Unlike going right, my hip didn’t hurt though, and I has easily asked Macy to move off my leg in the rhythm of the movement with minimal fuss. It felt super easy.

It was then I realized something.

I have hip dysplasia in my right hip. I constantly struggle with my right hip, it’s always sore and tight and I was told the hip dysplasia was bad enough to consider surgery if I wanted to continue being a long distance runner, but I could also limit my mileage and keep myself comfortable. I obviously picked the latter option. Trainer Sarah mentioned that when I was yielding Macy off of my right leg, and was saying that I was working my ass off, to her, it looked like my leg was barely moving. I was also unable to keep my outside shoulder back and down, while also engaging my leg. Off the left leg, I could keep shoulders back and down and there was so much more movement in my leg.

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Macy tolerated my ineptitude quite well

We realized I have a limitation to what I’m able to do. It wasn’t that I wasn’t understanding what Trainer Sarah wanted, it was that I was physically unable to do it. Which was an amazing relief in some ways. I told her that I couldn’t understand how frustrating it must have been for her in this lesson- she kept asking me to do something and I wouldn’t do it. For me, I was incredibly frustrated that I thought I was doing what she wanted, but she kept telling me I wasn’t. It wasn’t until I went left, without a problem, that we realized what the problem was. It’s not that I didn’t understand, or that she wasn’t explaining it clearly, it was that my body physically couldn’t do what she was asking.

So, annoying. Apparently I can’t use my right leg effectively. Which is a problem that will continue to rear its ugly head. Not sure how I want to tackle this for June. Maybe there are left only dressage tests? I’m currently checking out some exercises and strength training options for people with hip dysplasia, and hopefully that will help.

For now, I just know that I’m not right. 🙂

 

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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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June: 3 Weeks Into Training

June has been down with Trainer Dana for 3 full weeks now, and she is learning SO much. I’ve been down to see her as much as I can and am trying to soak up all the knowledge Dana is throwing at both of us!

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She’d happily stand up here for hours

One of the big things Dana is working on with June are coping skills. Mare has strong opinions when she doesn’t like things. Which is ok, but she needs to express those opinions in ways other than kicking out or bucking 🙂

She has made HUGE progress on this and Dana even called her a “legit citizen” the other day, so that’s cool!

June loves the “pedestal of knowledge”, as I call it, and she’ll happily come over and get a nice stretch on it as this video shows:

And while she has been learning to soften, to yield, and how to cope, she’s also been exposed to kids, cats, ducks, tractors and all sorts of other things, which I absolutely love.

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She’s been ground driven, gotten used to a saddle on her back, and basically has a great foundation now.

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And she is still totally adorable

In the beginning of November she will head up north to live the winter in a pasture, hopefully thinking about all she has learned so that when she comes back home in April she is ready to make some more progress! I’m so excited wth how this baby is coming along!

 

 

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Three Greys and a Chestnut

September was one of the craziest months I have had in a long time. I knew it would be, and prepared as best I could, but I still felt stretched too thin and as if I couldn’t enjoy any of it. Just constantly running from one thing to another. There were some real highs- I secured funding for my job for 3 years, I schooled prelim on Macy, family came to town, I did a TED talk, but I honestly just couldn’t wait for the month to be over.

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We’ve all been there- frazzled and unable to catch up. And I swore to myself that I wasn’t going to let life continue to do that to me. It is easy for me to get sucked into horses and riding and not enjoy anything else. Even without a competition horse this summer I still found myself not going for as many hikes or adventures. I’m the type of person who can’t do things half way. I’m all in, or I’m out. Hence, I was all in with Macy even though we didn’t know how that would go.

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She makes me awfully happy most days

The good news is, Macy is sound. Georgie is back at our barn. Tiegan has been more and more fun to ride, and June is progressing beautifully with Trainer D.

And while having 3-4 horses to ride and play with is every 6 year olds dream, I can see myself getting overwhelmed very easily. And getting back to that frantic state of mind.

So, I’ve set a bit of a schedule for myself. I don’t want to give up rides on any of these horses. (Typical of my personality..) So, I need to be realistic about what I can and cannot do so that I can still enjoy winter activities away from the barn (I signed up for a curling team after all…)

I’ve committed to Macy 2 days a week, Georgie 2 days a week and Tiegan 3 days a week. That will get me to the barn 5 days a week, which is totally manageable. I think. I hope… Macy will no longer be just my ride, but that’s ok. We’ve realized she can’t handle intense work, so we’re hoping to get her out 3-4 days a week and just keep her sound and happy.

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Having Georgie back is the best!

June is off to winter pastures come November so she will be off my list until the spring. At which time Georgie will sadly probably be off my list. (We’re hopeful she will be part of a lesson program for young kids). So, we’ll see. As lovely as it is having all these different horses to ride, and as thankful as I am, and as much as I have learned, I’m really looking forward to the day when it’s me and June, galloping around Rebecca Farm, knowing each other so well and having an absolute blast.

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So excited to ride this one day!!!

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June Update!

I am really, really starting to love this baby horse. I feel like we’ve turned a corner and are having so much fun together. Well, I’m having fun, not sure she loves all the round pen work.

I knew she would be going to Trainer Dana’s at the end of the week, so I did as much as I could in preparation. I put shipping boots back on her, did cavaletti work, and maybe did this:

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Could I be any happier?

I just sat on her for about 30 seconds, and she was great. I kinda had to before she left me. I dunno why. But most of you probably totally understand…

She lives with a Palomino mare who she bosses around and I like to turn them out on grass together. As we were heading to the pasture my friend was leading her sister in to ride and I insisted on a picture of them together for compare and contrast purposes.

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Yeah, they look nothing alike. Her sister (different mom) is much more fine boned…

I trailered June down to Trainer D’s yesterday and she was great in the trailer. I was a nervous wreck, but it was my friend’s slant load which she has never had an issue in.

Within minutes of being there we put her in the round pen and she offered this:

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Such a brave baby!

I let Trainer D know that I would love it if she could be exposed to as many novel and scary things as possible while there. The more she sees now, the better. I mentioned having her kids hang all over her, I don’t have kids, so she doesn’t really ever see them.

Last night I got this photo:

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Yup. This is exactly what I meant

I miss June already and know I’ll be sad when I go to the barn and she’s not there, but I am excited to go see her in about a week and see all the progress Trainer D has made with her!

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