Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

Fraggle Friday!

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It’s pretty where I live. It’s probably the #1 reason I live here. Which may seem silly to some, but being surrounded by natural beauty that I can enjoy easily is important to me.

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The other day a storm was blowing in and the light was incredible. I got some shots of the girls as we climbed a mountain before the rains came.

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I’m not a photographer by any stretch of the imagination, but living out here, I don’t really need to be.

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Happy Fraggle Friday!!

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And Then He Clapped

Our barn hosted another Gary Mittleider clinic this weekend and I was super excited to sign up. Macy and I haven’t done much jumping lately, but we did have a great lesson where we worked on bounces (I worked on it, Macy knew what she was doing), and I felt ready for a Gary Mittleider clinic.

Here’s a short video of us hopping through the grid:

What I really like about Gary, is that he doesn’t overwhelm you in his clinics. He has pointers, for sure, but he doesn’t throw a brand new idea at you and then another brand new idea. Instead, he has you work on one thing, and for us, I felt that was rhythm. He really wanted Macy and I to keep the same rythym no matter where we were in the exercise. And this may sound simple, but we were doing an exercise that involved tight turns, jumping out of the trot, jumping out of the canter, and doing a 7 stride. So, there was a lot going on. But it didn’t matter if I was jumping out of the trot or canter, Macy and I had to keep a consistently calm rhythm.

At first I was like “well Macy knows best” and just let her do what she wanted. He gave me simple pointers, such as “look where you want to go after the 7 stride,” “actually get 7 strides, not 6,” and my favorite “chin up.”

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Just flying over this jump out of the trot

So, Macy wanted to land and GO ON, dragging me down the 7 strides in 6. But it never jumped well when we did that, so I remembered that I could, in fact, apply a half halt, and not let Macy have her way, and it rode much better. In fact, once I started to put things together, everything went really well.

Here’s a video if us putting it together and me actually riding instead of letting Macy have her way:

Sarah has ridden with Gary for years. He was her trainer when she was riding Macy competitively and she has always told me stories about how, when he whistles after your ride, watch out. He is not happy. So, I’m always nervous about a whistle after my ride.

But Gary knows Macy, and he knows I am not a super talented pro looking to take this horse up through the levels, and there was no whistling.

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Jumping Bean!!

But what I forgot was, that Sarah also told me, if Gary is really, really, happy about something, he’ll clap after your ride.

It wasn’t until the last time we went through the exercise, jumping a 3’6 vertical out of the trot, turning left, then cantering through the 7 stride, looking left, trotting the 3’6 vertical again and then cantering the 7 stride once more, looking right, and trotting, that I heard the clap.

Both Sarah and my friend Haley yelled out “You got a clap!!”

It’s kinda like the highest compliment, and I was pretty proud. Jumping Macy was super fun, at 17.5 years old, mare still has hops and makes things like getting the correct lead, or jumping 3’6 out of the trot super easy. I just need to remember that sometimes dragging me to the fences isn’t ok, and we need to think “consistent rhythm” no matter what we’re doing. So lucky to have this mare to learn from!

When You Don’t Have Your Horse

I’ve been reading lots of posts lately about goals, plans, and how they can get all messed up very quickly when you’re dealing with horses. Trust me. I get it. Georgie and I were on our way to becoming a Prelim pair when that got instantly derailed.

And since then I’ve ridden lots and lots of horses. I even bought a baby horse who I hope to have a fun future with. But as someone who likes loves a plan, this has been a really challenging year.

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Yes please to this gallop.

I was certainly lucky to keep riding despite losing Georgie as my partner. From Val the fancy dressage horse to Tiegan the green bean, I’ve kinda ridden just about every level and type. Which is AMAZING. And has truly made me a better rider. What I’ve learned from Macy alone is absolutely priceless.

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Thanks May! I love jumping too.

But what all of this has lacked, is a plan. I tried to make plans with Macy, but that just left me feeling more depressed when things didn’t pan out. So, I stopped making plans with her, and just hope I can keep riding her.

I don’t have a “lets make a plan” horse right now, and that is super duper tough for someone like me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m really trying not to complain. I’m just trying to figure out why going to the barn has been a bit lackluster for me recently. Why I am fine with not doing my homework, and instead just hack or work on trot sets over and over, hoping I can improve my time. Not having an end result, or goal, is really tough for me. Especially since my goal typically involves some sort of event where I get to run cross country. Because, let’s be real. That’s why we event.

I know that June is my end result. She’s the goal. But she’s a ways away from being “my horse” in the sense that we’ve got a lot of work to do before we get into real work. So, I continue to the ride the rides I have been given. And continue to learn. And be thankful. But I can’t deny the part of my brain that continues to want to have an end result, a goal with the horses I am currently riding.

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Great rides on Tiegan recently

I’ll get through this funk, and who knows what the future brings. Perhaps that’s the fun of not having plans. You can be pleasantly surprised.

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Forgetting How to Ride

I’ve basically grown up on the back of a horse, or pony, as was the case when I was a wee child. And I feel incredibly comfortable around horses, I would definitely categorize myself as someone with good horse sense.

But put me on someone else horse, and have that person watch me ride their horse, and it’s as if I have never ridden before.

This was true when Sarah had me ride a potential horse for one of her clients. I couldn’t get it to stop jigging even though Sarah had just ridden it without a problem.

I was even like “woah pony, how do I stop you?” with Zoebird, despite how kind the mare was being to me riding her bareback.

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Thanks SprinklerBandits for letting me get the Zoebird experience

And I feel like this was a huge problem when I first started riding Macy.

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Macy was like “just ride you eejit!”

Something Sarah said to me when we went to see that sale horse was “When you try a horse, just ride it how you know to ride.” Sounds simple, and full of great wisdom, right? Yet, I cannot seem to follow those instructions.

Instead I worry if I am giving the horse the right cues, if I am sitting softly, being too handsy, EVERYTHING except just riding the horse.

And while I am not the world’s best rider, I have got more experience in this sport than any other sport I participate in. And no one has told me I am a dangerous rider and sent me packing, so I feel like I am doing ok. Ok enough to ride an unfamilar horse.

June has been coming along great, and we’re finding that you have to keep this mare’s brain engaged and active or she just gives you the finger and becomes a bit obstinate. So, with the groundwork going so well we realized it was time to back her. Dana let me have the first ride on her and sure, getting on my mare for the first time was a bit nerve-wracking but mare didn’t offer anything that as a horsewoman, I should have been concerned about. Yet I got up there and acted like a total novice. Which is great when you are riding a horse who has never had a rider on their back. I gripped with my knees, forgot to engage my core and could not for the life of me be loose and relaxed in the saddle.

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But we do kinda look good together

I didn’t give June my best ride for her first ride. The good news is that we’ll have lots of years together to work on that.

I will say that now that I realize this problem, I’m working on being a confident rider no matter what horse I ride. My first ride on Tiegan went great. I had a good sense of where the horse was at in her training, what she needed, and knew what I wanted to work on with her. I was unable to get the correct lead going right, but I knew to work on that in my lesson and problem solved.

Do any of you have similar issues? Or am I alone in the loss of riding ability when riding someone else’s horse? I think the fact that I am now riding lots of horses is helping but man, it’s taken long enough!

 

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