Tag Archives: eventing

Two Lessons, Two Different Horses

I haven’t taken a proper lesson in about 4 months. A proper lesson being one where I am riding a horse that can do more than trot in a side pull. What this means is, I am out of riding shape, and have gotten used to a life of plodding around and not asking much of myself physically.

It’s been kinda nice, but I’ve missed getting my butt kicked and improving my riding. I’ve been riding school horses, and running a bunch, so I hoped that when I did take a proper lesson again, it wouldn’t be too disastrous.

And when I got the opportunity to ride a barn mates horse in a dressage lesson, then a school horse in a jump lesson, I said “YES!” Even though the lessons were on two consecutive days and I knew that would be a lot for this out of shape rider.

I was eager to get a chance to ride Max, as he’s a fancy prancer in  dressage and while he can be opinionated and quirky, I hoped Macy had prepared me for him. I hopped on him and my first thought was “Oh my God this is a lot of horse.” I felt Sarah said it best “it’s like every vertebrae can move, and can move in a different direction.” I didn’t have much time to think about it, as we got right to work. And we just kept working. And working.  Overall, the lesson went pretty well, especially the trot work. I was shocked at how behind the leg he was- I had to really work to get him forward. REALLY work. I had just figured that this nice moving horse was self-propelled, but it takes a lot of work to get him moving the way you want. But once he does, it is really, really, lovely. When I got him moving straight, and forward, he was super fun.

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I wasn’t as strong in the canter work, but we would get it for a few moments, and when I did it was really lovely. I have such trouble moving my hips, which is essential in the canter, and at this point in the lesson I was getting tired, Max was getting a bit tired of me, and it wasn’t happening as magically. But it was ok, and honestly I was proud of myself for riding a new horse and having a productive lesson. Sarah had some really positive things to say about my riding and I felt exhausted but good. I’m very grateful to his owner for letting me ride him.

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The next day was pretty much the complete opposite. I would be riding Deputy, the fun little QH I rode in the Gary Mittleider clinic. (I can find ZERO media of him, sorry!) Hopping on Deputy, my first thought was “Oh, it’s like sitting on an Easy Boy recliner.” But this wasn’t the only place Deputy differed from Max. Deputy is actually very forward. He has a go button. And with this go button comes some reactivity and opinions. I had to ride him basically the exact opposite way I rode Max.

Which was tough for me. I wanted to react back. I wanted to pull and insist. I wanted him to stop spooking at the cow roping dummy and got angry when he wouldn’t. Yeah, this ride was starting out really well.

We worked at the walk for a while, then the trot, then the canter. I felt pretty good about 30 minutes in and Sarah set up a 5 stride line.

At cross rails. Spoiler alert, we stayed at cross rails for the entire lesson. Not because Deputy did anything wrong.

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My last jump lesson…

We worked on me, my position, and getting through the corners and the line the same way. I was unable to stay consistent with my arms (mainly my elbows) and have a lovely, light, following, forearm. I was unable to keep my chest up over the jumps, instead I jumped as if it were a 3’3 oxer. I couldn’t half halt in the 5 stride line while also keeping my leg unlocked and useful.

Blerg.

Deputy was a good boy, and dealt with all of it. The lesson left me feeling the way I do after SO MANY jump lessons. A mix of “why do I do this, I hate stadium jumping” and “just let me go cross country and have fuuuunnnnn.”

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This. I miss this!

But here’s the silver lining. As I bring June along, I’m essentially bringing myself along too. it’s almost like I get to start over. As she learns,  I’ll get to restart jumping from ground poles up. And I can start to fine tune things. And ride one horse and work on my position and learn what works for us.

And sure, I want to ride other horses and continue working at becoming a better rider. Which, in my opinion, happens a lot faster when you’re riding lots of different horses and learning what works and what doesn’t. Having as many tools in your toolbox is helpful, and I want to keep collecting tools.

So, I guess I’m back at it- not just having fun with my young horse, but back to getting my butt kicked and trying to figure it all out. And despite how drenched in sweat and exhausted I was after my ride on Deputy, I immediately asked when I could have another lesson.

 

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On Being a Laid Back, Type A, Personality

I am fully aware that my title contradicts itself.

But it’s truly who I have become. Especially when it comes to “show season”

When I was riding Georgie, I would have my show season set by January. I knew what I needed to do if I wanted to qualify for the 3 day,  knew what clinics I wanted to participate in, and had a good sense of exactly how my season would go.  Planning gives me a sense of peace and relaxation.

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Also peaceful and relaxed

But then Georgie injured herself, and ever since I have not had a single plan work out.

The plan to compete Macy at a recognized event fell through at least twice.

And more recently, my FEH plans with June have gone askew.

But I think one of the most important things Macy taught me, in preparing for a baby horse, is to throw all plans out the window. And somehow, this lesson from Macy (like many others) is absolutely invaluable.

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Thanks Macy!

I am so incredibly laid back about all my June plans it’s like I am a different person. (But still the same person, because I love MAKING plans. I’m just okay with said plans not being what actually happens)

This laid back attitude reaches from my daily training of baby horse to future of baby horse and everything in between. When I found out that the Spokane event wouldn’t be holding a FEH 4 yr old class this May, (where I planned to go watch so I knew what I was getting into for Rebecca), I re-routed myself to NY to see family and deliver Peekaboo to her new home. When I found out Rebecca Farm wasn’t holding any YEH or FEH classes this year, I felt relief, as I could now speak at a conference and not have to figure out how I would fly there from Montana and get June home without me. And, even when I found out that the FEH class that I was hoping to attend this fall was happening AFTER championships (therefore making qualifying for championships obsolete as it’s not like I can go next year), I kinda shrugged and while bummed, knew there is a good chance I won’t qualify for champs, so no big deal.

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She’d probably have a better chance of qualifying for champs without me…

But, in case you’re worried about who I have become, and worry that I have turned into some apathetic, non caring human, fear not. Sarah noticed there was an event being held in August we’d never been to. It was holding both YEH and FEH classes. After emailing them to confirm they would hold a FEH 4 yr old class, I decided this was the new plan! Sarah and I would go, me with my 4 yr old, her with her 2yr old. Not only do I get to take June to a show, Sarah is coming and we can make it a quick “vacation” of sorts! So, not having plans, may actually work out for the best!

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Still so adorable

And if these plans fall through, that’s ok too. I can re route once again. All plans are up in the air, and changeable. And weirdly, at this point in my life, that’s totally ok.

 

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Before We Move Forward

We need to revisit the past.

This is a post I’ve been putting off, but now that June and I are moving forward under saddle, I think I need to fess up about something in our past.

I’m not going to get into specifics because I don’t want to point fingers, and hey, we all make mistakes, but here’s the gist of it. (Also, negative comments about any party involved will be deleted. Let’s just take this as a learning opportunity, shall we?)

Last October, I had June in full training. I asked to be the first rider on her, and as her time with the trainer was coming to an end, she suggested I hop on her. In my mind, I would hop on her, we would walk around the round pen and it would be a major success.

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Our first ride!

But the trainer she was with starts horses differently than I had imagined. She feels it is important to walk, trot, and canter, in the first ride. I did not know this, and was not prepared when she had June trot. When she told me she was going to have June canter, every instinct told me to say something, to tell her I wasn’t comfortable cantering her, but I didn’t.

Instead, I clamped and stiffened and became a brick on my poor horse’s back.

As you can imagine, June felt this. And she responded by becoming a bucking bronc. She started bucking and hopping and after flying forward and back, all I could think was “I need to get off this horse NOW.”

So, I jumped off and landed on my feet, but I was basically bucked off. And, because we are dealing with horses, I had to get BACK ON and walk and trot again.

The whole experience left me sad and angry. I wish I had trusted my instincts and just walked around the round pen. I wish I had said something. I respect this trainer and feel her methods are valid. But, as we spoke about the incident later, we both admitted that it’s different having a pro be the first ride than it is an amateur who has never ridden an un-broke horse. Having June canter, when I was so unbalanced in the saddle, was a mistake. We can both admit that.

So, now that I have June back, I am essentially re-training her under saddle. The trainer did get some nice rides on her before she went out to pasture, but my last ride, was the one where I came off of her.

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Wait. I did something wrong?

So, poor Trainer Sarah now has to pick up the pieces. I’ve been working so hard on her walk work,(we can turn and woah and it’s basically amazing) that Sarah felt it was time to trot! I asked to work on the lunge line, as I had no idea what was going to happen and didn’t want June to take off bucking. In the first walk to trot transition I was pretty nervous and June could feel it. Her back got tight and she tucked her tail. But that was it. As we started the next one, I was again nervous, but I reminded myself to breathe and the moment I did, June’s entire body relaxed as well. Literally, Sarah mentioned how much calmer she was the moment I relaxed. So, we spent the next ten minutes trotting, working on upward and downward transitions and it got better and better. June was perfect and SUCH a good girl.

It’s amazing how in tune with me she is. It makes sense though. Thus far her life has consisted of following my lead whenever we are together. I need to remember that she relies on me for guidance and support. If I am nervous, why shouldn’t she be?

I told Sarah I still had some hesitation about ever cantering and she assured me we can take things as slow as I want. I really like Sarah’s method of starting horses. There is zero hurry and her hope is one day we will just fall into the canter, rather than make a big deal of it. (And cantering is a LONG way down the road.. if I hadn’t mentioned my fear Sarah would have never brought it up.)

I will say June’s trot was amazing. It’s so much bigger than Georgie’s and I mentioned how fast it felt.  Sarah told me it wasn’t fast, there’s just more movement,  and I need to let it happen, not hinder it. No pulling back!

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Let this floaty trot happen!

I’m still so excited for the partnership I have with this horse and feel a sense of relief knowing that moving forward, I’ll trust my gut and go as slow as I want. June is proving to be a smart horse, and I need to trust her as much as she trusts me. So, when I mention any fears, now you know why.  My hope is to get more and more comfortable at the trot and then see what the future holds on this horse who seems so willing to be patient with me.

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Habits

Since I’m not doing much riding with June just yet I’ve taken the opportunity to ride a couple of the lesson horses at our barn. Mostly I just hop on them when Sarah is out of town and they’re not being used for lessons, but could use some exercise. No matter which horse I ride, my habits are right there with me. It’s nice because I can work on them. Work on my position and try, desperately, to break my bad habits.

There’s one habit that follows me on whatever horse I ride and quite honestly, I am not willing to break it. It’s a habit I actually think has served me very well over the years.

You see, I talk to horses.

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What’s that you say? I have hay in my forelock?

When I’m on their back, I’m a talker. Like, not all the time, but a fair amount. It served me really, really, well with Georgie. For one thing, when we started going Training, and neither of us had jumped cross country at that height, I could have been up on her back, just not breathing. Instead, I made sure I was breathing by talking to her as we cruised around. There were lots of “good girl” and “woah” and sometimes me blithering on about what was next. It kept me breathing but it also kept her engaged with me. I’d see her ear flick back. As time went on, it was totally routine. When we were out on course together, I was always communicating with her. I actually think she really enjoyed it. It seemed to be what she expected and it relaxed her a bit.

Ingrid Klimke actually spoke in an interview about how she is constantly talking to her horse while she is out on cross country. And while I can’t find the interview, I remember she made fun of herself a bit, referencing the fact that she is not a quiet rider. Instead people are surprised to hear her talking as her horses fly over jumps. Her reasoning is much the same as mine.  Think about it, we’re ALWAYS talking to our horses. We’re asking them to move over, get out of the way. We cluck at them, ask them to whoa, and tell them how amazing they are. They’re used to our voices.

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One of our ridiculous barn cats

With June, so much of our relationship is based on verbal communication. She is so used to my voice. And, now that I am riding her a bit, I’m teaching her what “woah”means as well as what a “cluck” means. I assume my habit of talking to her while I am on her back isn’t going to stop as we progress in our training.

With the school horses I ride, if they offer a good behavior, they’re sure to get a “good boy.” If they spook at seemingly nothing, they get a “Seriously?” But they also get lots of verbal reinforcement as we go about the ride.

It’s a habit I can’t see myself changing, and one I’m actually quite happy I’ve got. What about you? Are you verbal with your horses when riding? Or do you tend to be the silent type?

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She Jumps!

I’m not gonna lie. I have maybe spent some time worried that June wasn’t going to know how to jump. Or would be super awkward and not talented at all. I mean, I’ve never had a baby horse before. There is zero guarantee about anything. And sure, her Dad looks like THIS when he jumps:

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Photo By: Janne Bugtrup

But hey, he’s only half of her genes.

Anyway, I was gone for 8 days, and while June got out a handful of times while I was gone, I didn’t want to ride her in my lesson the day I returned. So, instead, we decided to free jump her!

 

Now, I know what you’re picturing. Huge, elaborately decorated jumps. But, let me let you in on a secret. Free jumping actually isn’t as exciting as it is in those fancy broadcasts you see with super fancy horses. For us, we started with groundpoles. And we raised the jumps to about 2’3 at the end. It was lots of me chasing June around and trying to get her into the chute. It’s not glamorous people.

But it is fun. Especially when your baby horse figures it out quickly and thinks she is HOT SHIT and gallops around every time she exits the chute.

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Clearing the groundpole…

IMO she had great form, a great brain, and was super excited about jumping! Not that I am biased.

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2’3 was about 2 feet too small 😉

It was so fun to watch and worth all the running around to catch her and put her in the chute after each go.

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Love those happy ears

Sadly the next day we were back in the round pen, with a dressage saddle, but she’s still thinking all about how great she was at jumping.

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Georgie’s New Beginning

I’ve been meaning to post about Georgie for some time now. But June has kept me busy and filled with content. So, here is the update you’ve all been waiting for. 🙂

I spent much of March riding Georgie, assessing soundness while I asked more of her and got her fitter. The hope was that she would be able to be half leased by a junior rider and she would be able to handle the increased level of work. During the month I went from questioning Georgie’s future to feeling comfortable with her going into work again. It’s amazing what some fitness work and consistency can do for a horse.

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She still refuses to pose for pictures. EVER

When Sarah returned from California the beginning of April I could confidently say I felt Georgie would enjoy getting back to work and doing 2′ to 2’3 jumping with a junior. Sarah had the perfect student in mind and, well, now they’re paired up and Georgie is being half leased.

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Obviously this is hard and weird and sad for me. But don’t worry, I put some stipulations in the lease (cause I can do that, as her caregiver, I guess) and it states in the lease that either Sarah or I can ride the mare once a week to assess soundness (or give her a tune up ride). Despite how strong and sound she was feeling in March, I still worried that the mare would have issue with being ridden regularly. But having ridden Georgie this past week, I can lay those worries to rest. She felt great. I took her for a walk/trot and then just let her gallop, because she was begging me too. It felt great to be back on her and feeling her want to gallop.

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Plus we got to ride with Tommy , who happens to be Georgie’s boyfriend

And while sure, this ride was supposed to be for Georgie, it helped me so much too. When I ride/work with June, I have to be thinking all the time. There’s never really any down time. It was the same with Macy. With Georgie I could just relax and enjoy it. Letting her gallop around the field reminded me why I love riding so much. Why a partnership with a horse is such a special thing.

I still hope June has half the heart Georgie does. I love watching her new rider love on her and I hope she appreciates just how special a horse she is. I’m so glad she is still at my barn, still in Sarah’s care, and that I’m able to watch over her and ride her as well. Oh, and as an added bonus, she is housed right next to June. She has already figured out that for every treat June gets, she gets one too.

So, here’s to a great new life for Georgie, and her teaching another rider just how special a horse she is.

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She’s Home!

This was a week where I could use something to make me happy. And leave it to my baby horse to help me with the task.

For those of you who kindly commented on my Fraggle Friday post, Stella is doing ok, but this week will be one of decisions, I’ll keep you posted on her for sure. We’re not out of the woods by any means

But this is a horse blog, so for now, lets talk about the baby horse!

Sarah and I went and picked up Desi and June Saturday and the trip was completely uneventful. Which is exactly what you want when you are hauling young horses! They both loaded up into the trailer with no issues. Then ate all their hay for the 5 hour journey.

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So curious at the stop for fuel!

When we got home the wind was at hurricane level, but both horses unloaded calmly and June went right into her stall and began to munch even more hay. When I left her she was like “see ya mom, I got hay to eat.”

Exactly the kind of reaction I would want for a horse that just had the most stressful day she’s had in 5 months. ❤

Media is not good, and I apologize. But baby horse had been experiencing mud season and looked it. So, I let her run around prior to grooming and was hoping I could take shots from far enough away that her filth wouldn’t be as obvious.

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I trotted her around a bit and then brought her in and groomed her. Her manners were still in place, but she got bored about 20 minutes in and began pawing. Instead of making a huge fuss I just untied her, had her move her feet, re tied her and got on with it. She looks much better now and tomorrow we’ll get to some real work.

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She’s grown a little, and greyed a lot. Is that a word? You know what I mean…

I’m just over the moon to have her back, and over the moon with how sensible she was on the trailer and her first day back. I’m so excited to get started with her and see what our future holds. Be prepared for more media and lots of June spam.

I do want to take a moment and give a shout out to my good friend Haley and her horse Tommy. You may remember that I rode him last winter and learned a ton. He was such a different ride for me and I struggled, but he was such a good boy and very patient with me. Tommy had been a rock star at Prelim and Haley just moved up to Intermediate with him at Galway, last week. They rocked around like total pros. She’s an inspiration to me and I am so thrilled with how far their partnership has come. It’s fun when a friend succeeds after lots of hard work. June and I are eager to have half their accomplishments.

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Go rock stars!

Here’s to new beginnings with June and hopefully an incredibly fun season!

 

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Thank You, Macy

As the Macy chapter comes to an end, I’ve been thinking back to all I have learned from her and all I have to be thankful for. Macy has taught me a lot. And I am well aware that this isn’t the first time I have said that. But she has taught me things beyond how to do a shoulder in correctly, or flying lead change, or any of the other upper level horse tricks she’s got. She taught me some other things that will be far more important for my riding career moving forward. And because of that, I’d like to thank Macy for teaching me the following.

  1. Even the most honest horse needs you to bring your 50% to the partnership.

Macy is truly one of the most honest horses I have ever ridden to a jump. She is not a stopper. She doesn’t run out. I think she really enjoys jumping and flicking her tail high in the air no matter the size of the jump.

Bu that doesn’t mean I never had a stop on her. There are two stops I can remember, and in both of them I was riding her backwards. In the first instance I was inadvertently shortening her and shortening her to the cross country obstacle, until she was finally like ” are you asking me to stop?” And so she did. She honestly couldn’t understand why I was pulling back on the way to a jump. So I got reamed by Sarah and next time I kept my leg on, kept my elbows moving, and we had a lovely ride.

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The jump we stopped at the first time. Clearly the second time around Macy approved of my riding

In the second instance, we were schooling a course that involved a drop into water. I was tired, and distracted, and not riding like someone who was going Training in a month. I was just letting Macy take me around the course and asking nothing of her. We came to the drop into water and about 3 strides out I felt her pause, but I thought “she doesn’t stop” and did absolutely nothing. And she stopped. And I, once again, got reamed, and came around again and had a lovely approach where my leg was on, I actually rode, and lo and behold we had no issues. I actually appreciated that stop from Macy as I rode much better the rest of the day and it was our last cross country school together. We schooled some prelim lines and I got to feel what was needed to be an appropriately aggressive rider.

So, thanks Macy, for reminding me that no matter what horse I’m riding I need to actually ride. It’s not fair to not show up and let our horses cover our ass just because they can.

2.  A 2* Horse Isn’t a Programmed Robot

So…. I’ll admit something. I maybe used to think that people who bought upper level horses didn’t have to do anything to get them to continue to be upper level horses. Like, I thought that you bought an upper level horse because they are essentially robots that require no work to win dressage or jump courses with no faults. Maybe this is the case for some horses, but it certainly wasn’t the case with Macy. Sarah did a great job bringing Macy along. She didn’t cut corners and despite a conformation and tenseness that didn’t lend itself to making dressage easy, Sarah did a really great job with this mare and was competitive through 2*. So, I figured I would hop on her and we’d magically be doing half passes and lengthenings and it would be EASY.

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It’d be no time until I, too, would be wearing a shadbelly and having beautiful dressage tests.

Um, even when Macy was her best self, none of it was easy. I had to work for all of it. Macy doesn’t magically sit on her ass and work in an uphill frame. She doesn’t magically use her back and become loose and swingy.  You have to work for all of that. And while she can see a distance better than I can, she still needed to be told not to rush to that distance. She had to be reminded that sometimes my way was better and she needed to listen. My point is, you still need to work your ass off, even with a “broke” horse. It’s just a different kind of work.

Thanks for changing my perspective, Macy.

3. You Learn the Most From the Ones That Challenge You.

In the beginning, I will fully admit that Macy was not good for me. I was losing confidence, not learning anything, and basically dreaded having to ride her. But when I took a step back, and realized I should only be riding her in lessons, things started to click. Maybe it was the consistency, maybe it was the Quiessence, or maybe I was just becoming a stronger, more competent rider, but it didn’t take very long for me to make it work with Macy. I even went so far as to take her off property by myself on hacks. (Honestly, I still can’t believe I asked to do this and can only imagine how relieved Sarah was when I texted her all went well and we were headed home).

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This may actually be Georgie, but still a pretty picture so is getting included.

Macy kept pushing me. She kept challenging me. And 90% of the time, I accepted the challenge. Now, when she attempts to bolt, I laugh. I shut her down within a stride and get her back to work. It doesn’t scare me. In fact, it happens so infrequently that when it does, I see it mainly as an inconvenience or annoyance.

Thanks Macy for challenging me and helping me become a better rider.

4. Ride What’s Underneath You

If I got on Macy all nervous and anxious, our rides didn’t go well. But over time, I realized that if I didn’t get on her with the expectation she was going to be squirrely, if I just got on her and got to work and felt what was happening, rather than expect anything, our rides were so much better. It was hard with Macy because I never knew what horse I would have that day. But this attitude of, lets see how you feel, rather than, this is going to be a fight, made our rides so much better. I remember riding her one day and thinking how loose and relaxed she felt and realized that it was possible for her to be like that, so I should ride what I feel and perhaps I’ll ride a loose and relaxed horse.

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On this day I felt a horse who didn’t think I was as funny as I thought I was…

This will be so so important with bringing up green baby horse and I honestly can’t thank Macy enough for helping me with this.

5. Having a Trainer who is also your best friend has it’s perks

So, if I’m going to thank Macy in this post, it’s only right for me to thank Sarah as well. I have no idea why she had the confidence in me that I could ride Macy, but she did. When I was grieving over the loss of my heart horse, she offered me hers. And I honestly cannot thank her enough for that. Somewhat miraculously, me riding her heart horse, who isn’t an easy ride, has made us closer friends. Were there times we both had tears in our eyes because Macy was being so difficult for me and we were worried it would affect our friendship? Sure. But we managed to have open and honest conversations and Sarah never lost faith in us as a team. She understood my struggles and supported any and all decisions I wanted to make. I think she liked watching her old girl safely carry her friend over jumps, and watch her friend learn new things on a horse that she had trained since a baby. In the end, it worked out quite well for both Macy and I, I believe.

So thanks Sarah. For letting me ride your heart horse and everything that came along with it.

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Here’s to more mimosas and fun together!

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June Plans

Let’s be honest. There has not been nearly enough posting about June. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been obsessively thinking about her and all the plans I have for her future.

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Our first selfie…

So, here’s a rough look at what this spring/summer is going to look like for the mare, along with some pics from this past summer. These are the plans with a capital P, I won’t bore you with all the minutia of what our daily plans will look like.  Obvi any of this can change at a moments notice because not only is she a horse, she’s a baby horse.

Plan 1: April 7th, get June on the trailer and get her home. This may prove harder than it sounds, but I’m hopeful she hasn’t become feral in the last 5 months and will remember her manners.

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Sold the trailer… but she better get in whichever one I pick her up with…

Plan 2: Attend local jumper show and bring June. I want her to get used to chaotic show environments, but want to start out in a friendly, laid back, environment. We have a show 2 hours away that should fit the bill perfectly. She’ll get to hang out ringside, and learn about spending the night away from home without becoming too attached to the horse stabled next to her…

Plan 3: Sans June, attend the Spokane Horse Trials where they offer a FEH 4 year old class. This class is new as of last year, (FEH 4 year old class)and unlike the YEH 4 year old class, horses aren’t expected to be going Novice. They’re expected to be babies that can enter a W/T/C class (I’m picturing it to be like an Equitation class). They’re also judged on conformation. Only at championships are they  sent down a free jumping chute. I’m excited that USEA is offering this class as it’s so much more my pace. I’m really interested in seeing the class before deciding if I want to commit to entering June in one. Plus, good friends are going to this event, so it should be fun!

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Her first saddle pad! I made sure it was purple

Plan 4: Pony June off of Georgie. This is sort of  a wild dream, as neither mare is particularly friendly with other horses, but the idea of Georgie showing June the ropes out on the trail, while getting both of them some conditioning, would make me so happy.

Plan 5: Start taking lessons with June in May. Not sure what these lessons will entail, but I will want homework! Maybe its a hack around the property with another horse,  maybe it’s learning about different bit options, or how to start a baby horse thoughtfully under saddle, but regardless I’m excited!

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Look good in a bridle? DONE!

Plan 6:  Enter June in the FEH 4 year old class at Rebecca Farm. I am not sure this goal will be attainable, but I’m putting it out there. If June isn’t ready, we’ll re route to Spokane in the fall. But it’d be awfully fun to have June at one of my favorite places, and I know we’d both learn a ton at this venue.

Plan 7 aka Alternate to Plan 6: Enter the FEH 4 year old class at Spokane Horse Trials in the fall (early October). I think I’ve already convinced SprinklerBandits to go with me, as the rest of my barn will be competing elsewhere.

And the rest? Well, we will hopefully have a long future together so I can only Plan so far out. It’s fun to think about ALL THE THINGS, and I’m literally counting down the days until she returns!

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Groundpoles Graduate

Macy and I graduated from groundpoles.

I know. Stop the press, who would have thought it’d happen?

Trainer Sarah invited me to have a group jump lesson, just the two of us, and I said “Sure!”

And then immediately regretted the decision as vision of Macy being unrideable danced through my head.

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Macy contemplating her level of rideability pre ride

But I showed up, watched as Trainer Sarah started to set up a grid and started to feel like maybe we could do this.

Warm up went well, just a few pointers to help me get Macy more supple and bending around my inside leg and then we were onto jumping.

The grid was set up off a tight turn, so Macy really had to be supple and bending or we would not get through the grid well. It was 5 fences set at one stride apart, so it was definitely a good gymnastic exercise. If Macy wanted to plow through it, she would be unpleasantly surprised, but my job as a rider was to let her make the mistake and learn from it.

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She just looks so happy when she’s jumping

Not so surprisingly, been around the block mare had zero issues with the grid. I really worked on my corner approaching it, circling a time or two if she wasn’t as supple as I wanted, and things went really, really well.

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Trainer Sarah did have to keep reminding me to “stretch up,” it’s a gird after all, I needed to ride in a bit more of a defensive position. I learned why the second time through, when Macy tripped, I fell forward and the brim of my helmet slammed into her neck. I felt everything in my neck crack. Not sure it was the adjustment I wanted.

But, after that I kept my face and chest away from her body.

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As the grid built up it became a great exercise for both of us, and I kinda gotta say it restored my confidence that I can in fact ride this mare. Also, doing my homework has helped. What I’ve been working on over groundpoles really helps me focus on where she needs to be ALL THE TIME.

Need some short video evidence?

So yay for a graduation! It’s about damn time!

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