Category Archives: idaho

Gary Mittleider Clinic

While his name may not be familiar with many of you outside of Idaho, Gary has been training and riding event horses for many years. His daughter, Sara Mittleider, has competed at Rolex and has found success with multiple horses that she rides and trains at her family’s farm.

But the reason I know the name, is that Gary is my trainer’s trainer.

And for some reason I eagerly signed up to take a jump lesson on my trainer’s horse with her trainer. Oh, and when the group list came out I realized I would be riding my trainer’s horse, with her trainer and she’d also be riding in the lesson. Just the 3 of us.

Recipe for disaster.

I decided to make it even more fun by riding another horse- a lesson horse the barn had just purchased who I had ridden about 4 times and jumped once. He’s probably jumped a handful of times in his life. I had no idea how he would be in the lesson.


Deputy the adorable QH

Well, let me recap for you.

Gary set up a grid. Three poles set 9ft apart followed by a 2 stride gap, followed by 4 more poles set 9ft apart. The 4th pole would eventually become a jump. It was a canter cadence and balance exercise. The gap in between poles would encourage horses to get quick and on the forehand, the poles afterwards would remind you of the cadence you needed before the jump, and hopefully you hadn’t changed anything just because there were some poles missing… After the grid developed you would make a sweeping left hand turn to a skinny cross rail -riding as if there were still poles on the ground encouraging you to have an uphill, balanced ride.

It was a great exercise.

Deputy, the solid as a rock QH  did not disappoint. Once I gave him the support he needed he handled each question easily. Man is he fun. He’s forward but responsive. He did not want to pick up his left lead, so we worked on that. I mean me, we worked on me, and how I can help him with that. (Note to self, looking down and leaning inward does NOT help). He handled the grid so well, and while it took some effort on my part, I was really surprised it wasn’t more difficult.



I’d happily ride him again and even entertained the idea of half leasing him. Then I remembered I am short on both time and money.

I hopped off Deputy and onto Macy.

Warm up was tense and reactive. Sarah and Gary eyed me from the middle of the arena and I was like “this is going to be bad”.

After warm up Gary mentioned that I just seemed to be making too much effort. It shouldn’t be this tough. He knows Macy well, and told me he knows she “likes to argue,” so we have to keep from having arguments with her.

We went through the grid a couple of times and he called me over. He changed my leg position. Less heel, more thigh. What? Sarah and I had been working so hard on me having an effective lower leg! What?? Why would I take it off now? He could sense my confusion and said “Don’t take it off, just test the temperature with it. Don’t use it as a brace.”

Huh. ok.


My toe could be more forward here, but mare is looking pretty happy.

It was kind of like magic.  I had the best ride on Macy I have ever had. At one point I even said out loud that I was having fun.

No head tossing, no arguing, it was like I was riding a super capable horse without all the baggage.

Like magic.


This is her usual tail position on the backside

I’m not sure if she was having a good day, or missed Gary, or was happy to be riding with her BFF Rapid, but the entire ride was great. Huh. Maybe, just maybe, I’m learning to ride this mare.

Here’s a short video of the grid:

While it has been more about Macy than June lately, that’s about to change. Baby has been settling in SO well and there’s lots to report. So, be prepared for baby horse spam soon.

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Georgie Update

Best grey mare has happily settled in to her new home. While I am still her caretaker, I no longer have the lease on her, so we moved her to a private barn with a bit more space- a location that is 3 minutes away from me, which is LOVELY.


Lots of grazing, her favorite thing

Georgie is an easy mare, but some of her less desirable habits have surfaced. Mare is not patient. When owner arrives in the PM to turn horses out to pasture, Georgie FLIPS OUT if it isn’t done soon enough. She may have kicked the panel, bending it pretty badly and cutting up her leg.


She wants THIS all the time

Barn owner was a bit concerned about this behavior. So, kicking chains went on. I can’t have Georgie being a brat and losing out on this place. I also got her out for a walk and she is back to wearing her rope halter so we can work on ground manners a bit more.


Are you here to feed me?

She is living with a 27 year old Missouri Fox Trotter named Trax. He’s adorable and sweet as easygoing as they come.

She’s in love but won’t admit it.


It’s a great spot for her, I love how peaceful and shaded it is for the hotter days. She has a vet recheck on 6/28 and we shall see how the healing is going. Hopefully I can hop on her in the near future and go for some walks!


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Horse Happiness

Yesterday I headed 4.5 hours (one way) to go see Junebug and decide if she was the horse for me. I brought my most trusted advisors with me, Sarah and Stella, and knew I wouldn’t go astray with them helping me.

Stella got car sick the entire trip up there, which made me feel like maybe we weren’t starting off on the right foot. But once we got there her spirits brightened and she happily ran around while Sarah and I met with Rapid’s owner/breeder.

We brought Junebug in from her pasture, put her on the cross ties and I got to grooming her. She stood and let me groom her everywhere as well as pick up her feet. She wasn’t antsy, or pushy, and literally just stood in the crossties.


I also got right to work getting lots of pics

Next we took her into the arena, out of sight of the other horses. We trotted her around a bit so I could see her move and then I attached the lead rope and walked and trotted her over some poles. She was slightly distracted, but it really wasn’t until the other horses whinnied for her that she realized she was away from them. She still allowed me to lead her around and was completely sensible.


We headed back out and I took her for a walk around the property and down the long driveway. She was slightly more interested in turning back to her friends than heading away from them, but was easy to handle and was easily convinced to go with me and leave her friends.


So shiny!

As we were walking along I thought to myself, I’m buying a horse for her brain, everything is secondary and I need to remember that. When I got back to Sarah and Junebug’s owner, I found out that Junebug had only gotten out a few times in her 23 months. If mare is this sensible with that little handling, I feel like I am getting the brain I want.

Conformationally she is built uphill, has good bone and is the thick, stocky build that I like. I imagine she’ll grow to about 16hh. She won’t be built like a lithe racehorse, but I feel like her breeding will help with getting around xc easily.


Lastly, after saying goodbye to Junebug, we drove over to go meet her momma. Her mom is a Quarter Horse who has produced some nice babies. Junebug’s maternal grandma produced lots of nice, smart, jumpers. I need to research the lineage a little more, but momma was well built and seemed sweet. Her full brother is a total sweetheart, with a lovely build and great brain.


Cute momma!

And her Dad. Her Dad is who I hope will get us some nice dressage scores and will give her major athletic prowess. Her half sister has proven to be quite the athlete, so I’m hoping Junebug will also prove to be a great eventer.

As we headed home I started talk things over with Sarah and Stella. Our conversation didn’t last long, as it was clear she was a great baby horse for me to take a chance on! I’m currently figuring out when to bring her home and what our future will look like together. She will be 3 on 6/24, so we have some months of ground work and life experiences together before I get to riding her.


Not a bad life so far

I’m obviously excited, and nervous, and anxious, but mostly excited. I can’t wait to start our future together!

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Georgie Update

I’m not one to complain about work much, but this past week was absolute insanity. Part of the insanity was being tasked with trying to find a home for a horse. Not a horse. A stallion. I work in animal welfare, but we don’t handle horses. Until this past week apparently.


Said stallion was living in a dog kennel. I think that igloo wasn’t going to be adequate shelter for him…

What I quickly found out, when tasked with getting him out of there, was that no one wants a 14-year-old unbroke stallion. So, I made an appointment to have him gelded. Maybe someone wants a 14 year old unbroke TB/QH/Mustang gelding? I’ve secured 30 days board for him and really really need him to find a home. I’ve never done horse rescue before. It’s a ton of work!

But, this post is about Georgie! So let’s get to it! Georgie’s recheck appt was last Tuesday and the vet was impressed with her progress. She looked sound on the small circle. But then we had her go the other direction and she was moving so much looser and more forward than to the right. Which was concerning to him.

She still looked sound on a straight line. Not a lot of reaction to palpating the suspensory. He got out hoof testers and she was a bit reactive on the right  leg. He wondered if perhaps there was something else going on. He suggested blocking the foot again.

And that’s when I got the call there was a stallion in a dog pen and a bunch of other animals needing help and I had to cut the appointment short. When I told my vet I had a work emergency he asked “What kind of emergency does the animal shelter get?” This worked to my advantage- he offered to geld the stallion at a greatly reduced cost when I called him, and was happy to help out. What it didn’t help was that we had to move to plan B with Georgie. He suggested I trot her every other day both directions. Then check to see if she is still sound the following day.

So far, so good! She feels good under saddle and is totally willing to move forward at the trot. We’re just going around the edge of the arena, for a few minutes at a time, but it is really nice to be back on her.


I keep forgetting to bring my bridle down to the barn so I ride her in a rope halter. She’s been perfect about it thus far.

Perhaps during the gelding of “Lucky” the stallion (I did NOT name him) we can see if following up with the block is a good idea….

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Happy New Year Shenanigans

At my more mature age, New Years Eve means very little to me. However, I have this weird superstition about New Year’s Day. I believe that the way I spend the day determines how the rest of the year will go. Now, deep down, I know this is ridiculous. But in the moment, I really believe it. So, the most important thing for me on New Year’s Day, is to spend the day creating happiness.

I think I did a good job this year and I think that if today really has any impact on the rest of the year, it’s going to be a great year.

The highlight was probably when I “forced” Sarah to ride this morning. Last week she had reluctantly agreed to ride in a fun “exercise” I had planned.Today Sarah was KINDA a good sport about it. To be fair, it was zero degrees outside, she had been feeding horses in the cold, and the idea of coming in and having to do what I say, was not all that appealing. After a brief hissy fit that only friends who are more like sisters can have, she decided to indulge me and give it a go.

I had created a game of sorts. It started with trivia questions centered around Georgie and eventing. If she got the trivia question right, great. We moved to the next question. But get the question wrong, and she had to execute a skill of sorts. Skills got more challenging as the game went on. (The first skill was helping me decide if the dressage saddle I was trying was a good fit on Georgie.)


Straightforward jump to begin with

By the end, I had Sarah and her horse, Rapid, jumping some scary stuff!


Even Georgie thought this was the strangest thing I’ve asked her to jump

The final jump was the above oxer with a cow the ropers practice on in the middle of it. Rapid had a good look at the oxer and wasn’t sure about it, but decided she would give it a try.


Rapid thought this jump was ridiculous and needed a bigger challenge

At this point in the morning I was thinking of how well all of this was going. Rapid and Sarah were having fun and I was laughing a lot at some of Sarah’s answers to my Georgie-centric trivia questions. (i.e “What is Georgie’s nickname?” “Pigpen” Yup, that’s right. It’s also Georgina though, but it speaks volumes that Pigpen was first in Sarah’s mind…)

So, all was going well as Sarah trotted Rapid up to the oxer. Rapid stopped as if to say “no thanks” and then decided that if she jumped high enough the cow wouldn’t be able to get her.



I freaked out, but shouldn’t have. Rapid got herself over the oxer in true Lipizzaner form.


Nicely done, Rapid

And major props to Sarah for staying on. The next time around, it looked like this:


After a fun morning of quizzing and challenging Sarah, it was time for me to get Georgie over the jumps. We had a fun, albeit short ride, where she gamely jumped any thing I asked of her. Even cows in the middle of oxers.

The next adventure of the day was getting myself and my two dogs out for a run. It was a bluebird day, and had warmed up a bit, and we all enjoyed getting out in the fresh air. I once again appreciated living in such a beautiful place. And having two moderately well-behaved dogs that I love so much.


They’re kinda naughty but so cute. Photo from this summer when the river was enjoyable to be in.

And the last part of the day involved cleaning house, calling those I miss and care about, and just realizing how great a life I have.

I’m so excited for 2017 and all the adventures that await!

Happy New Year!


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Winter Work Commences

For those of us in the frigid part of the world, winter is a time to step back and reevaluate how things are going. There are no upcoming events unless a haul to a warmer climate is happening, and so we get to take this time to work on holes in our training, and work on becoming more solid riders. I look at winter as a solid 5 months of indoor arena time. And for me that means practice, practice practice.


This please.

You better believe that while I am trotting in endless circles in the indoor I’m dreaming of being back out on our beautiful trails. Or that when my coach tells me to gallop to a fence I pretend we are galloping on grass somewhere in Oregon, or Montana. But for now it’s a lot of dreaming. And getting my butt kicked in lessons.


Also, still on the hunt for a new one of these. Update blog to come….

We’ve had some great jump and dressage lessons. In our dressage, we have been working on straightness in the walk to canter, or counter canter, transition. It sounds kinda boring, but it is SO fun. Seriously. Really hard work, but I love it. Georgie and I have gone from haunches out and me pulling her head one way in order to get a transition, to working on and almost always getting a transition that is straight without much use of my hands. I can pretty reliably ask for counter canter on a straight line with just my seat. Lots more homework, but its been great. The one loops in the Prelim dressage tests will seem easy compared to this work.

Our jump lessons have been fun and challenging as well. In our most recent lesson we worked on seeing our distance. I can see my distance from 3 strides out pretty consistently. But Sarah bumped it up a notch or two for this lesson.


We started with a ground pole and would say “1” when we were a stride out. Then 1,2, then 1,2, 3 and so on. All the way to 8 strides out. Which was around a corner. I never ever thought I would get this.  And then it became a 2’3 jump. And then a 2’9 jump. And lastly a 3’3 or so jump. As the jump got bigger the strides changed a bit and I had to account for that. But all in all, it went pretty well. I learned that I had to have a good corner (duh), keep things consistent, and a couple of times I saw a different distance than Georgie may have, but I could easily and safely ask her to jump from my distance, and did! Sure, I shortened her a couple of times too, which was cheating, but all in all I was pleased with how it went and how not only could I see my distances, but could do something about them as well!

Here’s a video of what it looked like: 

The exercise was one I can easily do on my own as well, and keep practicing. I struggle to jump when I am by myself, but this one I think I would feel safe doing as the jump can really be at any height. (Am I the ony one who thinks they will die when jumping alone despite having jumped crazy ass things alone as a kid?)

I guess I’m looking forward to more winter work, but really we all know it’s so we can get out and enjoy those events!



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Blog Hop: Location, Location, Location!

I decided take part in the blog hop A Soft Spot for Stars started about where we live and what things cost, as well as the good, the bad and the ugly about living here.

WHERE I LIVE:  I live in Hailey, Idaho. And before you blow it off as just a small potato farming town, let me remind you that this is where Demi Moore and Bruce Willis raised their children, and is also the second home to many celebrities, namely Clint Eastwood, Jamie Lee Curtis,  Drew Barrymore and this kinda well known actor Tom Hanks. While seeing them around town has become less exciting with time, you know I like to name drop. We’ve got the famous Sun Valley ski resort about 20 minutes north, and Georgie lives 20 minutes south, in a laid back, beautiful town that is more about agriculture than celebrities. We’ve got mountains galore, sit at about 6,000 feet above sea level and hiking and other outdoor activities abound. It’s one of the most beatiful places I have ever been.


Seriously. Beautiful


Compared to Millbrook, NY, where I used to live, things are waaaay less expensive.


I board Georgie and have her in a single outdoor pen with a run in shed: $450. Prices recently went up, but our barn has an indoor arena, outdoor arena, caretaker on site and is really pretty nice. Plus my trainer is there and we have lots of fun schooling shows. You can have a stall for $550 or group house for $450 as well, but you get a much larger space. Georgie does not believe in group housing. Boarding includes feeding and cleaning. They give hay and grain at no extra cost. Since I’m down there so often this works well, I can handle blanket changes or turnout.


So, Georgie has lots of different shoe options during the year. Typically she has a full set which runs us $100. Add a drill and tap for studs and it’s $120. Currently she’s barefoot behind so two shoes and a trim runs us $60. I love my farrier, he does a great job with Georgie’s non complicated feet and he is definitely on the less expensive side around here.


We don’t have many trees, which I miss about back east, but at one schooling facility it’s almost like NY…


Winter is probably what you think- we’re in the mountains in Idaho. It’s COLD. And snowy! But, we have a ski mountain down the road, so that’s cool. I hate the cold, but summer and fall make up for it. We have zero humidity, so while it can get up to the 90s, it is not completely horrendous. We are considered “high desert” so hot summers, cold winters, with an amazing fall. We get no spring. I swear to God it goes from winter to summer some years. Or, winter, to rainy season, to summer.


While the cost of a lift ticket is a bit ridiculous, I still get up there when I can


We’re a mixed bag! I love our barn because we have a little bit of everything. Western riders that let me join drill, some DQs, some eventers and some people who like to just come and pet their ponies. We have an event,dressage and western trainer at our barn. It’s also where the local Pony Club is, so I can watch and learn from them. 😉

Our area has a fair amount of eventers. We have riders who have competed at Burghley, and some that have gone Advanced. Right down the road from me is River Grove Stables, where Debbie McDonald and the late Brentina have lived for years. So yeah, Olympians, 4* riders and lots and lots of amateurs having fun with their horses. And yes, lots and lots of rodeos and western riding as well. We have a young girl down at the Junior NFR competing in barrel racing right now!


Typical view. You’ll notice we are sharing the trail with NO ONE


Hands down what I love most about living here is the beauty. Secondly, how much open land there is and how amazing it is for conditioning. There’s also not a lot of people. I went back east for Thanksgiving and couldn’t handle all the people. It’s a really friendly, laid back community and I love that all these different disciplines can live in one barn. That never happened in Millbrook.

It’s remote. Which is good, (see above) but also makes it feel like I am living on an island in the middle of nowhere at times. Our closest recognized event that I compete at is 7 hours away. This weekend I wanted to compete at a jumper show 3 hours away but to get there you go over mountain passes and roads that have wind whipping across them and when we got a snow storm I had to cancel. So, it’s pretty, but it’s also a pain in the ass sometimes. It’d be nice to have competitions right down the road like I did in Millbrook.

So, all in all, I love it here. Georgie seems to love it here too. And I invite any of you to come visit if you get a chance!





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Adventures In Conditioning

Georgie and I have had a couple stadium jumping lessons this week that were great! But both of us really look forward to the day of the week that gets us out for conditioning. A quick 15 minute drive up the road and we have access to miles and miles of trails in the mountains. It is amazing for conditioning! I’m typically quite regimented in my conditioning rides, I like to have a plan and stick to it. I know what the plan is for that day before I even go.


Stella looking so cute!

This time, Georgie and I started our two mile trot/canter up a canyon road and when we got to the spot where we always turn around I paused. The trail here on out was fairly unknown to me. The road became more overgrown and very steep. As we contemplated going on up I heard a jingle behind me. Lo and behold, my 12 year old dog Stella, who I thought had decided to stay at the trailer, was trotting up the path towards us. I decided that since she came all this way, we’d head up towards the unknown together.


The view as we headed down

The trail was incredibly steep and quite washed out due to all the rain we had had. Georgie  was getting tired quickly. Since I love to hike, and since it was my idea to go up this mountain, I hopped off her, loosened her girth and figured we could all walk together. Georgie wanted to stop every few minutes, but I knew she was fit enough to walk this and if I was walking, the least she could do was keep up.


Georgie was over it pretty quickly and didn’t care about the view at all

Much like a nightmare I’m sure we’ve all had, when I reached what I thought was the top of the mountain… I was greeted by another peak. Seriously??? I decided to take pictures from there, and not call this a failure. Just a lesson about hiking in Idaho.


Headed back home=ears forward

Since I knew the walk down would be tough for Georgie as well, I walked most of it with her. She was a good girl and didn’t step on me or bump into me once. She found her own way down and was careful and smart about it. When we nearly reached the bottom and onto the well groomed road, I hopped on and she was happy to walk/trot home.


Stella leading the way!

I need to remember that part of why I ride is for adventures like these. Going out with my dog and horse, in the middle of nowhere, is an adventure not many get to have. And while it may not have been the prescribed conditioning ride, it certainly did a lot for our mental and physical well being.

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Back to Work

I feel like I haven’t written in a while. I’m not sure if its because of a lack of media or because I have been plugging along at essential but not exciting things, but whatever the case, I’m breaking the silence.


Redo lesson. Sit up, shoulders back. 

We had our “redo” grid jump lesson and I had some major aha moments about my position. Later in the week we had another great jump lesson that falls into the “thinking rider” category. We had a 4 stride that we had to come into on a big galloping step, or a shorter, more compressed step. We had to get four strides regardless of what step we came in on. I had little trouble getting four strides when coming in on the short step. But on the gallop approach, I forgot to half halt, or didn’t insist enough in my half halt and there were a couple times Georgie got through it in 3 ridiculously unbalanced and out of control strides. It was no bueno.

It took some work, and realization on what a slow learner I am, but we got an effective half halt. Finally.


I still have snow in my yard. At least Stella enjoys it. In lieu of horse media I’ll give you dog media.

We had a dressage lesson yesterday which was quite fun. I have been working a bunch on my position and my instructor noticed the improvement. We worked a lot on sitting the bigger trot and asking more and more of Georgie and I. We had some nice steps of collected canter, and I am really getting a feel for all the different ways my seat can work. It was fun, but hard, and really gave me some good homework.

Georgie has been super game for all these new and exciting things we have been working on. She probably finds me a little dense and I imagine she wishes I was a bit clearer in my aids, but overall, I think she is having fun too. i’m lucky to have such a fun, game horse.

no helmet

Sometimes I do really stupid things like ride without a helmet. Prior to getting on Georgie I verbally gave my will and last wishes because I figured I would die. Weirdly I didn’t. But I’ll remember my helmet next time.


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A Mixed Bag

With beautiful weather finally here, my goal was to get out and about with Georgie! And thankfully, other equestrian friends were thinking the same thing!

On Saturday Sarah and I decided to get out in the hills for a trail ride. It’s been fun watching her adorable baby come along, and having Sarah expose her to new things. This time around it was loading in my straight load trailer, which she did without hesitation!


While Georgie loves trail rides, she hates posing for pictures. Rapid on the other hand was a born model. Actually, Georgie and I are kinda similar in our awkward picture poses. Note to self: Sit up, bring hands together and smile. 

It was a great outing with some good hill climbs and a good start to Georgie’s fitness work so she is ready for the 3Day in July.

So, lovely ride Saturday was followed by our first jump lesson outside! Woohoo! We’ve been dying to get out of the indoor and into the larger arena. Sarah had a great grid with a bounce on either side of an oxer. She also set up a triple bar that you would approach off a turn after the grid

The lesson was.. well..informative.


You know how sometimes, in your head you’re thinking “I’m TOTALLY doing what my instructor is telling me to do” and then you look at the video and you’re like “oh. That is NOT what it looked like in my head?”

That was kinda the theme for this lesson. I thought I was really upright through the bounce and folding over the oxer, and as you can see in the picture, not the case. I also thought my shoulders weren’t swinging around. But they were.


I kinda love triple bars now. They are lovely for Georgie to jump and I think of them as Chevrons.

On the other hand, while I kinda sucked, Georgie’s canter felt GREAT. She has a lovely uphill-ish canter, where, if I ask her to go forward, she doesn’t dive down on the forehand. I kept asking if we had enough impulsion as I wasn’t used to a canter where we aren’t careening around but instead are pretty balanced and uphill. It still needs work, but it is an exciting change.

So, I asked for a redo. And am going to have a similar lesson this week so I can really work on this stuff. Cause I am sick of mediocre and sick of just getting it done. And one more lesson will cure both those things. Obvi.

Wish me luck. 🙂

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