Tag Archives: eventing

Learning From Each

So much to report on and I don’t know where to start. I had wanted to do a full recap on Aspen Farms HT but I think it will have to wait.

Instead, I’ll give a recap on some recent rides.

It’s been Macy and Rapid and Smokey lately and all have been exactly what I needed at that moment.

Macy continues to make me a better a rider. I can’t say I always love riding her, but damn, I learn a lot. We have had two jump lessons recently and they’ve been great. I mean, sometimes  I am nervous and worried about her spooking, but overall, I learn a lot and she is actually a really fun horse to jump. She 100% calls me out on my mistakes, but she is honest to the jump and I can worry about me, which is nice.

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She’s 100% bored with me, but I’m what she’s got right now…

I got to do trot sets on Miss Rapid this weekend while Sarah was away. She is teaching me ALL about young horses. I brought her in and let her run around for a bit (she hasn’t really been worked all week since she came back from Aspen on Monday) and she wasn’t very interested in doing much. So, got her tacked up, and as we headed out I realized I forgot to put stirrups on the saddle. She was all antsy, so I decided to run her around. Thank God I did ’cause she was bucking and head tossing and full of it! I caught her after about 10 minutes and decided to hop on. She was still super antsy, prancing instead of walking, but I felt oddly safe. We got to trotting and mare was great. I really had to work on not tipping forward (there is really nothing between pommel and her head) and using my core to keep shoulders back and out of what I call the danger zone. She had some “green” moments, but was sensible and and I had a good time for the most part. Plus, not falling off is almost a goal with these youngsters, so I felt like I at least accomplished that.

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Such a poser…

And then Smokey. This was the ride I needed. Meg may have gotten a serious sunburn yesterday and can barely walk, let alone ride (#irishburneasy), so she asked if I would get Smokey out.

Ah, to ride an uncomplicated horse. My brain needed to relax and just enjoy the ride. Smokey is as honest as they come to a fence and I just love jumping her. It was fun. I haven’t had fun in a while. I really like that mare and am thankful Meg let me take her out for a spin.

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I mean.. the cutest

I learn something from every single horse I ride, and I am so thankful to have them to ride! I am headed back east this week and then bringing baby Junebug home!! Ahh, I am so excited! I have been in touch with a foundation trainer and she is going to help me with ground work for the next few months, since I have never had a baby. I have some things I really want to work on with her, and am excited for the guidance.

So, lots of fun, lots going on, and I can’t wait for it all to continue!

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More Macy Chronicles

About 2 days into my unofficial lease of Macy I fell jumping her. We had some terrible rides after that, mainly as a result of me being nervous and tense. I told Sarah I wasn’t up for riding her on my own- it wasn’t helping anything, and wanted to try and only ride in lessons.

So, for the past 3 weeks or so, that’s what we have been doing. Having eyes on the ground that know this horse so well has been incredibly helpful, but also, at times, incredibly stressful. Sarah and I had a rather unpleasant lesson where Macy was a spook factory, churning them out at an incredible rate. Sarah eventually yelled at me that I was overreacting to the spook and making things worse. This turned into a back and forth of “well I’ve never ridden a spooky horse!” “well her spooks are an overreaction to nothing so what do you expect me to do?” “Really? put my leg on and get her to bend? That’s the answer??? I doubt it.”

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I appreciate when she goes like this

Weirdly it was the answer. And I don’t know if my handling the spook better has made our rides quite pleasant lately or Macy has just been in a good mood.

We’ve had some major aha dressage and jumping moments. Macy was a saint in our last jump lesson (of which I have zero media) and she proved once again that she will jump from anywhere, over anything, despite what I am doing on her back to make it more difficult for her.

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And this

She is such a different horse from any I have ridden. Yes, she’s a sensitive TB. But she’s also really opinionated. And you’re not going to change her. Lots of head tossing, which is distracting, but I worked really hard to keep my elbows supple.

When it started to thunder, then lightening, then rain, I figured we’d head in. But Sarah kept us jumping. And I was so nervous about the weather I wasn’t helping Macy at all. But, we kept at it, I worked on sitting up, shoulders back, sternum out, and we had a couple of lovely jumps before calling it a night.

Macy is definitely getting me to be a better rider. She can be aggravating as all hell, but when she’s good, she has a lot of wisdom to share and I really enjoy those moments.

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So, for now, it’s two lessons a week on her with me getting her out by lunging or round penning. It seems to be working for now, and we’ll continue to see what the future holds for this partnership.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Jumping Macy!

So, after my last lesson I had a few days in which I would ride Macy on my own. The first day I brought her in from her paddock and she was absolutely bonkers. I could barely groom her, and when she cow kicked at me, I’d had it. I turned her out and made her gallop and gallop and gallop some more. I caught her and did some in hand ground work. She was super responsive and had settled down, but seeing as I was the only one at the barn, I decided to call Sarah and see if riding her would be a stupid move.

Sarah’s reply “Ride the f**k out of her.”

Um. Ok.

So I did. And she was foot perfect. I didn’t give her a chance to be naughty, and kept my entire ride concentrated on her. I didn’t get lazy and start daydreaming, and instead, focused on how I was going to ask for something and then asked correctly. We did leg yields and haunches in and some lovely canter work. It was totally a confidence building ride.

The following day I turned her out and ran her a bit but she wasn’t really interested so I did more in hand work and brought her in. She was lovely for trot sets. This is pretty mindless work, but since it was Macy I kept her round and tried to keep her straight. We did 30 minutes of trotting with maybe 1 minute of walking (mare did not want a break) and she was great for every minute of it.

So, because I was feeling good about where we were at, we decided that  I would  to jump Macy in my lesson. If I am going to have any sort of partnership with this mare I am going to have to be able to jump her.

Macy had no interest in running around so I brought her in and tacked her up. No draw reins, just her regular bridle and my jump saddle. Sarah warmed her up and gave me the biggest complement by telling me she felt good and that I had been riding her well. Yay!

She hopped over the jump a couple of times and just wanted me to see that Macy is a bit of a head tosser and she’s also a bit excitable after the jump. She lands and goes on for sure.

I hopped on her and got right to work. She was fabulous! We hopped over the jump the first time and when we landed she very slightly lunged forward, got all excited and tossed her head.

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Good viewpoint of her uber strong neck. And how cute she is coming to the jump

Sarah asked me to halt. Apparently Macy had done a flying lead change when we landed and Sarah didn’t want Macy doing changes right now as she isn’t strong enough to execute them well.  So, we’d  just land and halt. To be honest, I had no idea what was going on when I landed. It just felt a bit chaotic. Flying lead change? Yeah, I have limited experience with those… Glad to know that’s what was happening.

Second go around was amusing.

Macy MAY have jumped from the placing pole.

It looked like this:

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She took the longspot.

Whoopsie. Good news was she cleared it, I stayed on, and for the rest of the lesson it looked more like this:

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Since Macy is just coming back into work, and hasn’t jumped in a really long time, we kept the jumps low and the lesson short. But the great news is, I’m comfortable jumping her! The head tossing isn’t a huge deal, and I know once we string some jumps together I’ll have to get used to bringing her back and balancing her, but there wasn’t anything that unsettled me. Oh! And I can sit lightly before the jump, which is my happy place, but some horses don’t enjoy it. I’ll have to control my driving seat, but I was happy to find out Macy doesn’t scoot when I sit.

All in all it was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to jumping Macy again!

 

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Riding Miss Rapid

Our barn is full of OTTBs, Quarter Horses, Quarter Horse crosses, more Thoroughbreds, and an Oldenburg. But there’s one horse that’s not quite like the other ones. Sure she’s a mutt, being 1/2 Holsteiner 3/8 Connemara and 1/8 TB but really, she’s the fanciest horse we’ve got among us. (Plus, she’s 3/8 Irish, so I naturally love her.) Sarah’s mare, Rapid, is turning 6 this June, and she is Sarah’s first departure from Thoroughbreds in quite some time.

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Her brain. Her brain is GREAT

It was a rocky start. Sarah wasn’t sure she liked her, despite having been obsessed with her since the day she was born at a friend’s farm. Having recently been told her 2* mare would no longer compete at the upper levels, Sarah had a tough time reconciling the idea that she might have to bring another horse up the levels. Top that with the fact that this horse was a behind the leg warmblood mutt and Sarah wasn’t exactly gung ho to get her going.

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It was about a year ago that Sarah put Rapid into consistent training and they kinda haven’t looked back since. Sarah found the joy (and pain) in bringing along a youngster and it was amazing to see the bond they formed. It was great seeing Sarah happy on the back of one of her horses again. Rapid hasn’t been an angel, but she’s coming along nicely and it’s pretty evident when she moves that she got some of her daddy Riverman’s talent. Mare can JUMP. And is so naturally balanced and uphill. Rapid naturally has a canter that it has taken me YEARS to get with Georgie. And Georgie isn’t ever going to move like Rapid. But that’s ok. Still love my mare.

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Sarah’s ❤ horse Macy with Rapid

ANYWAY, Sarah just got back from an event in California where she and Rapid came in 3rd in BN and they’ve been trucking along, hoping to go Novice in the near future. Never in a million years did I think I would hear the words “Do you want to ride Rapid in a lesson?” But that’s exactly what she asked me last week.

I obviously said yes. And then texted to say I was prepared for Sarah to scream at me that I was riding her horse wrong. But Sarah promised she wouldn’t scream and that the great thing about having an Irish (or partially Irish) horse, is that they’re forgiving and easygoing. Keep in mind, no one has ridden this horse other than Sarah. She is used to being ridden the same way, every day.

Um ok.

The lesson didn’t start out great. As I took Georgie back out to her paddock I saw Rapid, who was tied up, throw a mini hissy fit. Then, when I got on her, the only other horse in the arena left. And Rapid threw a rearing, balking fit. All I could think was, “can’t mess up an Irish horse, huh?” I figured lesson was over.

Sarah had me get her moving and then allowed me to hop off- so that we could run mare around the arena. Wanna be brat? Well you can do it at a gallop. I got some great photos of this, but they’ll be revealed in Equestrian Bingo…

After about 10 minutes of galloping around, I got back on the mare and she was a perfect angel. Greenies. They’re fun.

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I mean, the CUTEST

Rapid is a really fun horse to ride. But maybe I forgot to mention that she is only 15hh? Despite parents that were at 16hh or more, she got dwarfed. Is that a word? So, I spent a few minutes just finding my balance on her for transitions etc. When you’re on her she doesn’t feel small. Her canter, when I put her together, which took little effort, is LOVELY. I can now understand why people buy fancy movers. Having a horse be naturally uphill and carry itself is a lovely thing.

We did some warm up and then got to jumping. Rapid is FUN to jump. If I worked a little bit through the corners, it paid off. She had a rhythmical, balanced canter to the jump and it was awesome to ride.

At one point I said to Sarah that I  thought that having a forgiving horse was one of the most important traits in a horse. If I screwed up my distance once, Rapid didn’t hold it against me. She went like I rode her. Ride her well, she goes well. Ride her poorly, she doesn’t go as well, but is still going to make the effort to get over the jump. It’s a lovely trait.

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Seriously love her. How can I steal her?

I coud gush about Rapid a lot more, but I think you all get the point. I was so honored to ride her, and get to see just why Sarah is so smitten with her. While of course I want my mare to be sound, riding all these different horses has been so amazing for me. I’ve learned so much from each and every one, and it has definitely been a silver lining to a less than ideal situation.

 

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TOC Dressage Show

This past weekend our barn hosted a Test of Choice dressage show. Since I’ve been riding Val pretty consistently, I decided to enter him. I wasn’t sure what test to enter (I wanted to do a trot lengthen but not canter- there’s a test for that, right?) and trainer Sarah suggested the new eventing Modified Test. I was excited to try out this new test, meant as a stepping stone for riders looking to make the move from Training to Prelim. I’ve obviously never ridden Val in a dressage show, or a dressage arena, and had no idea what to expect, so we decided to practice the test in our lesson earlier in the week.

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His trot is way too cute

The test is very similar to the T3D test but is in a small arena, and I found it to be a bit easier it doesn’t have all the movements the T3D does, and it sets you up really nicely for all the movements. Things come up quickly and the first thing I realized when riding the test on Val was that I needed to prepare and ask for the next movement with much more time than I did on Georgie. In the lengthen canter especially. I really needed to half halt and insist that he come back to me.

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He also has a cute canter, now that I can ride it…

The test went pretty well. Val was relaxed and easy to ride. He knew his job and was a very good boy. In retrospect there are lots of things I would have liked to do better. He has a lovely trot lengthen (such a treat!) but I didn’t ask for much on our first go. I also could have kept my contact a bit more consistent throughout.

We had one flub going left in the canter he swapped leads. Argh. We have been struggling with this, but I did a bad job setting him up for the canter and using my body correctly to help him.

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His walk ain’t bad either…

I’ve only been riding Val a little over a month so I was proud of how we did, considering when I started riding him all we worked on was getting him fit enough to be able to do these movements. I’ve also found a dressage saddle that fits him (although the stirrups are bit long for me at the top hole) that I can borrow and it has made a difference in how I ride him and the ease of asking for things.

I’m super lucky to have this fun horse to ride. I decided to make his show name Valiant Effort for the day and it seemed to suit him well. I have lots more going on this week, some good, some not so good, but am excited to fill you in on all of it!

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Jumping Tommy

On Tuesday I had my much anticipated jump lesson on Tommy. I was excited and nervous but thought “I rode so many different horses in Ireland, I’m fine with jumping new horses now!”

We had a fine warm up at the trot and then I cantered him around the arena and got up in jumping position.

Immediately Sarah said “That’s his xc canter, you need to bring him way back. Make him bend, get him to engage his hind end.”

Wait, what? This was the most wonderful canter I’ve ever ridden. And it didn’t feel fast. How could this be wrong?

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Let me ride this uphill canter all day long

Well, unlike Georgie and those lovely Irish horses I rode, Tommy eats up the ground without feeling like he’s moving much. Some of you are lucky enough to know what I am talking about. I can’t remember ever feeling this before, maybe when I was a kid and didn’t know to appreciate it.

So, I brought him back, asked for bend, and got a much more appropriate canter for the stadium arena.

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Tommy was as different a ride as I have ever had.

All my old habits had to be thrown out the window. Immediately. No sitting two strides out before the jump. No driving with my seat. Continue to follow with my elbows. Don’t land and ask him to go on. Be quiet.

Jesus Christ, it was a disaster.

Tommy was SUCH a good sport. He will jump anything, and these 3′ jumps were incredibly easy for him, even when I rode him so far to the base that he had to crawl over them. In order to keep my elbows moving and my seat quiet I tried singing, counting and talking nonsense out loud so I would stay relaxed. I repeatedly said “follow follow follow” up to the jump to keep my elbows moving, but two strides out I clamped, stopped moving and Tommy was like “Thanks.”

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After a few tries it got better. But I still don’t think Tommy liked me up there all that much. He never did anything wrong, or bad, but in a couple of the videos, he just looks really unhappy. I am honestly Tommy’s first bad rider, since he is either ridden by Sarah or his owner. And it’s been that way for YEARS.

Poor Tommy.

But here’s the thing. Tommy is what I need to start riding more. I love Georgie, and will always have a horse that can handle a driving seat, but if I want to be a better rider, I need to ride these more sensitive horses and be done with some of my habits. I really really enjoyed riding Tommy, and hope I can jump him again, because that was definitely an aha moment.

I know a lot of you have what would be called “sensitive” horses. Any tips for jumping? Other than: quiet body, following elbows and stop driving with your seat? Egads that’s a lot to work on!

 

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