Rollercoasting Along

Anyone who has read this blog while I have been riding Macy knows it has been a bit of a rollercoaster. But for the past few months, it’s kinda been smooth sailing. At least in the head tossing, bolting, spooking department. We have had some really nice, relaxed, rides.

Well, don’t worry, the Macy we had fallen in love reading about is back.

I’m actually not sure I can completely blame this round on her. See, I’ve been a bit lackadaisical in my riding. I am riding both she and Georgie 4x/week, and riding 8 times in a week on top of a full time job that frazzles my brain at times, and trying to run every day makes it so that sometimes, I just don’t want to have to ride a horse like Macy and so I don’t. Or, I ride half heartedly, not really working on anything other than staying in the arena.

Well, as you can imagine with a horse like Macy, this lack of work and purpose doesn’t really make things better. And then, when you decide to take a jump lesson with a friend, even though Macy doesn’t exactly thrive in group lessons on a good day, it can all go to shit.

And it did.

Jump lesson was supposed to be fun. But I had a cold and was exhausted and about 70 minutes into Trainer Sarah telling me (yelling at me) to do the same thing over and over to TRY and get Macy to be less reactive, and me unable to do it, I was DONE. The lesson went on for another 10-15 minutes, at which time Trainer Sarah agreed it was so bad there was no hope of making it better and she hopped on Macy and schooled the poop out of her. It took her approximately 7 minutes to get the result I couldn’t achieve in an 80 minute lesson.

Macy was being a bitch, there’s no denying that. She was rushing to jumps, not listening to my aids, so so tense and throwing her head high in the air in protest 2 strides before the jump. She’d grab the bit and throw me out of balance and while I didn’t fall off, it was more reminiscent of this:

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Than this:

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In fact, it was so horrible that my friend got like, no instruction, the entire lesson as Trainer Sarah had to break it down to the basics and all Macy and I were allowed to do was jump a 2′ vertical on a circle. And we literally couldn’t even do that without theatrics.

I was DONE with this mare. I don’t need a horse that makes me feel like I don’t know how to ride at the most elementary level. I don’t mind a horse that has to throw a hissy fit in order to figure something out. But I couldn’t handle a horse that is being a bitch just to be a bitch.

So, I did what any adult amateur does and I went home and cried. (Right? We all do that, right? I blamed it on work stress and my cold, as I am sure they contributed to all the feels)

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Interestingly, because of busy schedules, Trainer Sarah and I didn’t mention this lesson for days. Until I mentioned I would be down to ride Macy on Monday. To which she sent me an email working through the past lesson. We agreed to meet and talk through it all.

And so we did. And I explained my situation, and how riding HAS to be fun or I am not going to spend what little extra time and money I have on it, and she explained that a group lesson was a bad idea and things shouldn’t have spiraled as far as they did before she hopped on Macy.

And then she helped me successfully canter over a ground pole with minimal fuss and Macy was an angel again. Ok, no she wasn’t. I just had the tools to shut her down and she was like “FINE, I won’t bolt after the groundpole.”

And then we had ANOTHER lesson where things went even BETTER over a groundpole even though there was another horse being ridden in the arena.

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So, basically, I’m like the champion of groundpoles (I can go over two on a circle without a Macy reaction like 76% of the time).

While I will say that riding Macy isn’t my favorite thing in the world, I really think she is going to make a baby horse with strong opinions way more manageable.

So here’s to getting Macy to be loose and relaxed and rideable over a groundpole. It should be a super fun winter.

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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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Fraggle Friday: How Siri Proved Me Wrong

My young dog, Siri, is a German Wirehaired Pointer who I adopted at the young age of 8-10 weeks old. I was super reluctant to adopt her not only because she was a puppy, but also because if I am being totally honest, I wasn’t sure I wanted a GWP.

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But who wouldn’t want this???

See, I was a Griffon snob. GWPs in my opinion, were the lesser breed. Originally bred with terriers, in my opinion, they were more independent, aggressive, and not as magical as a Griffon. The ones we got in at the Shelter seemed to always be really nice dogs, but I kept with my snobery and refused to believe anything else.

But then I met Siri. And I figured I would give it a shot. And while I cannot speak to the breed as a whole, I can admit that my bias of the breed appears to have been unfounded.

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Having grown up with horses, she learned about how delicious horse poop is at a young age

Siri is a very submissive dog. In fact, she is a bit of a target for other dogs, which makes me feel very protective of her. But, I’d rather she be omega than alpha. I never need to worry that she’ll be the fun police. In fact, she is ALWAYS looking for someone to play with.

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Stella isn’t the playmate Siri was hoping for in a sister, but she has taught her tons about how to be a good dog.

Siri is great with everyone. I got a chance to meet her mom, and get regular check ins from her brother, and both are equally friendly and happy dogs.

I definitely think Siri has good genes in the temperament department.

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Siri’s first collage

So, the GWP. They’re actually really nice dogs. And while they maybe aren’t as mellow as a Griff, and may be more prone to chasing cats and livestock (I still can’t trust Siri with the chickens despite having grown up with them), they’re actually a wonderful companion. Thanks Siri for proving me wrong!

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I’m lucky to have both of these fun fraggles in my life!

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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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Fraggle Friday: Wirehaired Pointing Griffons

Let’s talk about my most favorite breed of dog. A breed you may not have even heard of- which is something I actually think has made the breed stay so solid for so long.

While I am not an expert on the breed, I have had 3 of them and fostered countless others, so I feel I have a fair bit of knowledge to pass along about them. Especially if you consider that 15 years ago, had you asked me if I wanted a bird dog, I would have said “Hell no. Those things are crazy.” But now, having had Stella for 14 years, I can’t even imagine having a different type of dog. And no, they are not crazy.

The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon (otherwise known as Griff, WPG, or in my home, Fuzz Face), is considered a medium-sized dog (although males tend to be quite a bit larger than females) with a high energy level. Their distinctive beards and shaggy coats give them an adorable appearance, at least in my opinion.

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You can read all about them here: AKC WPG description

But here is my take on the breed, the nitty gritty if you will, and things to consider if you are thinking of adopting or buying one. (Yup, they’re popular enough to start showing up in shelters and rescues now. Really, really, nice ones, in fact).

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This was one of the handsome Griffs we got in needing a home. He found a forever home earlier this winter.

Is this a high energy breed? Yes. They’re sporting dogs. They’re bred to be out in the field hunting birds all day. But that said, I’ve found the WPG to be one of the calmer hunting dogs I have been around. They do need daily exercise, but then are completely content to hang around with you and lounge at home. I’ve hunted with them and they are fantastic. They don’t range far, and can do it all, point, retrieve and flush. They also make fantastic outdoor adventure partners. Stella and I have hiked all over Idaho and other states and the breed are great at getting out and having a good time.

How are Griffs with other animals? So, here is the thing about this breed and how I know they are soon going to be overbred. This is a breed that is friendly with everyone and everything. Much like a Labrador, they think life is great, and are always up for making new friends. However, they’re also incredibly loyal and love to be with their people. If you move from the living room to the bedroom you’d better expect that they will too. Lately, I’m seeing more and more Griffs that are dog reactive. Some people are breeding them for a look, and no longer for that temperament that is what makes this breed so great. So, do your homework on breeders and meet the parents. They should be loveable and know no strangers.

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Squirrel, on the right, was a classic WPG. She’d go home with anyone, but then probably find her way back to me when she realized I wasn’t around…

Why do I love this breed so much? Because of their ridiculous look, sure. But also because they are so friendly, smart and healthy. They are great to run and hike with, but also great house dogs. I never have to worry that they will be aggressive when they meet someone. I never have to worry that they’ll get in a dog fight. They’re..easy. But that said, they’re easy for me because I meet their needs. They live inside with me and go everywhere with me. This is not a breed that wants to live outside away from its family. I also exercise them like crazy. I run, skate ski, take them on trail rides, hike. I basically plan my life around getting my dogs out (and myself) for some exercise. So, they get a good outing and then are fine lounging at home the rest of the day. My Dad’s dogs, both WPG rescues, run around the farm with him but have to be in the fenced yard when he’s at work. This is fine for them. Knowing they’ll get to stretch their legs when he’s home is enough. But they’re also no longer adolescents.

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Sassy, now 12, still loves to run and hike, but she’s also really good at sleeping. We adopted her when she was a year old, but she is actually Squirrel’s daughter. I adopted Squirrel 6 years after I adopted Sassy and found out they were related.

So, is this the breed for you? I don’t know. I just know it’s the breed for me and has made me fall in love with bearded dogs. Fun Fact: Neither of my current dogs are purebred WPGs. Stella is half German Shorthair Pointer and Siri is a German Wirehair Pointer. So, while I rave about the WPG here, it isn’t always the only option if you’re looking for a fantastic canine companion.

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Half GSP Half WPG=Total Perfection

 

 

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The Tattletale

I’ll be honest. I’m feeling close to zero motivation to ride Macy these days. Maybe it’s the fact that I am riding Georgie again and she is SO easy. Or maybe it’s the fact that despite the easy winter that we are having, we’re still confined to the indoor because it’s Idaho and it’s cold. Or maybe, it’s the fact that Macy is just being a bit more ornery than she has been in the last few months.

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What easy looks like

It’s also tough for me to stay motivated to keep riding and keep working when I know I don’t have a competitive future with this horse. I’m competition focused and motivated. Riding Macy sometimes feels like a lot of work for no payoff. (Because for me the payoff will always be galloping around cross-country). I know this is incredibly narrow-minded and selfish to say (I have a horse to ride, I should be so incredibly thankful for that), but it’s how I feel and I can’t help it.

Whatever it is, I am finding it difficult to muster the motivation to get out there and ride her. We still have our weekly lessons, and for this I am grateful. With Sarah’s guidance I stay focused and we’ve had some fun jump and dressage lessons.

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wheeee

But it’s almost like Macy and Sarah have this secret communication going. Years of friendship where they can talk to each other without speaking. And Macy has decided that she’ll tolerate me riding her. But she is going to be a tattletale whenever I do anything wrong.

If I stiffen or drop my hand, Macy lets Sarah know. Not enough inside leg to outside rein. Oh, she’ll happily let Sarah know. Should I get distracted and not keep her haunches from drifting in, oh, she’ll happily toss her head, go around crooked and let Sarah see all of it. See, she tattles by showing her displeasure with my riding. She tosses her head, bolts, or gets tense. When I ride well, correctly, she is smooth sailing.

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I’m happy and she’s happy

So, I work my ass off to keep Macy from tattling on me. I work my ass off to make the ride easier on myself. Getting her straight to a fence without a lot of head tossing, is a lot easier than trying to do so when her head is straight in the air.

So, Macy continues to make me a better rider. Even if some days I would rather just take the easy way out. And in the end, I’m definitely thankful for it.

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Thanks to my Secret Santa!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, is it not?

First off, a huge thank you to The Printable Pony for hosting the blogger gift exchange. I look forward to it every year!

Secondly, thank you to my Secret Santa! Her gifts were ON POINT and clearly she understands my love of purple.

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Second to my love of purple is my love of socks. Put the two together and WIN

Thank you to The Cob Jockey for her thoughtful and amazing gift.

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Georgie (and I guess Macy too) are SO excited for the treats and I am so excited for all the PURPLE. It’s totally win/win.

I love giving gifts as much as getting them, and can’t wait until my gift arrives to my recipient.

Happy Holidays to all of you, I’m wishing you an incredible holiday season!

Fraggle Friday

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The girls got to go on a long hike yesterday and our foster dog Butterscotch joined us.

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He thinks he’s pretty tough, and to be honest, he kind of is. No shivering or getting tired for this guy. He had no problem keeping up with the big girls.

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We have so little snow right now, which is nice in that all my favorite trails are still easy to access. But not so nice in that it is winter in Idaho and we should have substantial snow right now…

At the end of the hike Siri learned an important lesson about ice. It breaks. And maybe you shouldn’t run across it unless you’re ready to go swimming.

I’m hopeful this was her last mid December dip

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Wet dog looks like she learned a lesson

Grateful for another great outing with the Fraggles and Butterscotch too!

 

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