Tag Archives: eventing

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.


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.


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!


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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100 Transitions

In her blog  Viva Carlos, L. mentions that she did 100 transitions with her horse Dante during a walk/trot ride. My immediate thought was “100 transitions???? Is she crazy?” But then, I was like “Hmm, I wonder what that would be like?”


Exactly what I look like…

On my next ride, there I was, aiming to purposely do 100 transitions while I rode Macy.

And here’s what I found:

This was great for both of our brains. Macy tends to get a little “work, work, routine, routine” and doing lots of transitions kept her on her toes. I was worried she would get tense, trying to anticipate what was next, or never getting to do something for a long period of time, but we actually had a really lovely, really relaxed ride.


Sideways ears are an indication of relaxation on this mare

Here’s the deets you want to know as you contemplate 100 transitions:

  1. Can you really count to 100 while you ride and remember what number you’re on? Yes, yes you can. Cause if I can do it, you can too. Sure, I may have missed a number and not been sure if I was on 67 or 68, but I would then go to the lower number to make sure I really got at least 100 in. And this only happened when we had a tough transition. (Trot to canter will never be as perfect as I want it to be when there are bucking horses sharing the arena with us..)
  2.  How long do 100 transitions take to do? So, I can’t really answer this because it depends on what your goal is. My goal was to do transitions regularly and frequently. I didn’t want Macy trotting or cantering for more than 2 20m circles, if that. So, for us, we got right to work, doing lots of walk to halts in our warm up and the entire thing took 35 minutes.
  3. Why would you want to do this? Well, for me, I need to stay really focused when I ride Macy and this enabled me to work on that. I had to be thinking of my next move all the time. I had to be preparing for the next move all the time. How many times do we (I) get lazy and just cruise into an upward or downward? This helped me not do that.

So, I’m sure there are some of you out there thinking “Really Nadia, a post on 100 transitions? I’ve made this part of my routine for years!” And to those of you- I can understand why! But none of us in my eventing barn had, so it was super exciting and new. Definitely something I’ll be adding to my routine when I am riding June! Thanks L. Williams for the inspiration!

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Three Words

Earlier this week I was riding Macy and was thinking, “I wonder what 3 words I would use to describe this horse.” And then I thought, hey, this could be a fun blog hop, or at least a fun blog post. Aren’t we all looking for blog ideas in dreary February?

So, here we go. What 3 words would I use to describe Macy?


I think that most of Macy’s attitude under saddle comes from how driven she is. From when she was first started to when she retired from upper level competition, her entire life has been work work work. She hates to plod. She thinks hacks that don’t involve being on the bit are stupid. She is a testament to the Thoroughbred in that she is a work horse. She’s happiest when she has a job and a purpose. I know it’s why Sarah kept her and also why the mare is so safe and honest under saddle. (Ok, over jumps at least…). It’s probably her best attribute.


Prelim chevrons are NBD for this mare


I struggled with which word to use here. Macy isn’t sensitive in the typical TB way. She is opinionated but not as strongly as some horses. She’s just particular  about her likes and dislikes. She hates being in an arena with any of the following: grey horses, paints, heavy footed horses and naughty horses. So, if you’re riding Macy in the arena with a light footed chestnut, you’re bound to have a nice ride. As for naughty horses, well she wants to be the naughty one in the arena. So, she gets tense and tough. Oh. And she hates when other horses canter too close to her. Walk and trot just elicit ears pinned but cantering too close elicits a bolt most days. See, she’s just particular. It’s totally normal. Or maybe not…


She clearly was not enjoying this particular moment


I really really was hoping to say “angsty.” Or “insecure”. But really, as much as I have grown fond of this mare, she’s still a total bitch. The other day Sarah asked me to blanket her. I went into her paddock, said hello and began to blanket her. As I latched the chest straps she just nailed my arm, teeth bared, leaving it bloody. There was absolutely zero reason for it. Fu*king bitch. And she’s a bitch to pretty much any horse. Like, get over yourself already, mare! That she is besties with Rapid is still a mystery to me, but it’s cool. At least she has one friend. Her paddock has huge holes from where she has kicked out all the plywood that was added for when Desi was born. She likes to kick at it any time she wants someone to know she is hungry, tired, bored or just irritated by all of us.


Bitch dumped my ass just because the standards of the jump we were trotting to fell towards her…

So there we have it. Three words I would use if someone asked me to describe Macy. Sure, she can also be a life saver, forgiving, honest and fun. (As well as terrifying, frustrating and ridiculous) but those aren’t as consistent.

So, tell me, what 3 words would you use to describe your steed?

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Tall Boots; I Get It

So, while I have been on the quest for a pair of half chaps, I have also been on a bit of a spending bender when it comes to tall boots.

You see, I had a pair of Mountain Horse tall boots, Firenze, I believe, and they never recovered from our adventures in Ireland. The mud. They never recovered from the mud. And when the zipper broke for the third time, I decided to retire them. BTW, it’s really weird throwing boots away. Am I wrong?

So, I was on the hunt. But, seeing as I have zero things on the horizon that would require tall boots, I decided to be REALLY picky. And by picky, I mean wait for an incredible sale.

It didn’t take long. While home for Thanksgiving I stopped by a local tack store. Sadly, it was closing shop. Not sadly (for me,anyway) everything was 50% off. There wasn’t much inventory left but they had a few  Ariat tall boots.

There was only one pair in my size. And they were brown. I’ve never had brown boots before… But I put them on and it was magical. So, in order to justify the purchase I got a navy show coat too…

They are Ariat Heritage Field boots and I love them.


I’ve started breaking them in but am planning on using them for clinics and shows only. Cause I am like that with my boots. I love Ariat. I figure there is a solid reason they’ve been around forever. Quality products in my opinion.

But, I knew I still needed black show boots. So I would occasionally check on sales etc. And then one day I googled Tredstep Donatello. And Horse.com (a company I have never bought from) had one pair left. For $84. But there was one problem. They were a size too big.

But for $84? I decided to buy them with the thought that if they don’t fit at all, I can send them back or re-sell them.


So, they fit. Kinda. They’re too big, but not REALLY too big. I added a heel lift and they came with a size adjuster thingy and those both helped. I’ve been riding in them regularly, and while I am still on the hunt for another pair of boots that are juuusst riiight, these will certainly do in the meantime.

Tredstep, Mountain Horse and Ariat were the three brands I was looking at, and I am excited to have found two pairs I am really happy with! So, do you have either of these boots? Love them? I hope you do!

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Tools in My Toolbox

Last week I had a bout of vertigo, resulting in missing a day of work (first sick day in 3 years!) and laying in bed trying not to vomit. Vertigo is not fun, ya’ll. I had a lesson on Macy scheduled for the following day, but learning from past experiences where I ride when I don’t feel 100%, I asked Trainer Sarah if she could ride Macy in the lesson.

I was slightly apprehensive. I mean, it’s not like Sarah would be schooling my horse. She’d be schooling her horse, who I had been riding.

Sarah can get Macy to look faannnccy

I was ready for disaster. Or, not disaster. A lot of schooling Macy to get her back to “pre-Nadia riding her.” Um, is there anything more nerve-wracking than having your trainer ride her heart horse who you’ve basically ruined? I think not.

So here’s the good, the bad,  and the ugly from the ride.

The good- Sarah was really happy with how Macy felt. She felt strong and lighter than she had in the past. I’ve been riding her correctly!

The bad- Macy was a bitch for Sarah to jump at first. Sarah had to undo all the ruining I had done. It didn’t take her long, but it was definitely there. Because of yours truly.

All because of my stellar riding.

The ugly- There really wasn’t any ugly. Except that Sarah had such an easy time correcting Macy and getting her rideable. It was eye-opening to me. The mare is rideable, I just need to use my aids more effectively and have a stronger core. And 15 years of riding her might help. But I’m not sure that’s gonna happen.

So, we all have our trainer’s ride our horses. Or, in my case, their horses. But this ride was more eye-opening to me than just a regular training ride. I came out of this lesson all “I can do this! I can get this mare to be rideable for me!”


And so, the next time I went to ride her, I was all pumped. I had all these things I wanted to work on, and was so excited to ride her well and have a fantastic ride. But when I brought Macy into the indoor arena, I was greeted with three other riders already riding.


I can barely ride Macy with one other rider in the indoor.

But, instead of backing down, or expecting the worst, I decided to ride Macy from the moment I got on her, and committed to 30 minutes of work, mentally and physically.

To make things even more challenging, there was no rhyme or reason to what the other riders were doing, and they liked to get REALLY close to Macy. (At one point one was so close Macy turned her head and BARELY missed biting him. She’s THAT reactive. And bitchy).

I immediately got her walking and working on bend and coming over her back, trying to get her to relax. She was actually great. Then we moved onto the trot, same things, and she was a bit more tense, but I really worked on getting her to relax and did my best to avoid other riders. There was a pole in the middle of the arena and we trotted over it calmly.

Things were going well enough that I decided to push my luck and try her out at the canter. At this point, two riders were chatting in the center of the arena, and one was cantering. Macy HATES when other horses canter. But I was feeling “brave” and had a beautiful walk/canter transition and was able to keep her pretty relaxed and not all bunched up, wanting to bolt. I worked on flexing her left and right, and even worked on keeping her haunches from flying in as we tracked left. Woah. Thinking and riding? That’s weird.

I remembered that Sarah mentioned “Lateral work is a tense horse’s best friend” so we worked on leg yielding out on a circle, and some haunches in to get her more supple. By the end of the ride we were calmly cantering over the pole regardless of what was going on around us. I was even able to do some two point to sitting position in the canter, something that can make Macy squirt forward if not done well.

Was the ride perfect? No. But by using the tools in my toolbox, I was able to work through things, rather than become a hot mess. Macy stayed fairly relaxed and rideable. And do I dare say that we may be the ground pole champions of the world? Well, probably not, since we can’t do more than one at a time. But, maybe one day, one day soon, we’ll be cantering over multiple ground poles.

One can always hope.

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Prix Caprilli Champion of the World

Our barn runs a schooling dressage test of choice series each winter which is super fun and laid back. Last month I entered Macy in the Modified A test and Georgie in Intro B.

This time I entered both mares in the Prix Caprilli class. For those of you unfamiliar with Prix Caprilli, it is literally dressage over fences. You have a dressage test, but some directives have you hopping over fences on your way from one end of the arena to the other. It’s super duper fun.


Georgie less thrilled at the previous show. PC: M.Graves

But, since, ya know, Macy and I are regulated to groundpoles currently, I scratched her from the show. I thought about just entering a regular dressage test, but realized that wasn’t going to be much fun either.

I was the last rider of the day, at 5:15pm.. So, I went for a run, cleaned my house and chicken coop, and did as much as could before heading to the barn, but was still there two hours early. I watched a couple of riders and then brought Georgie in to get ready.

There are two tests offered in the Prix Caprilli at our barn. One with 2′ jumps and one with 2’6 jumps. The tests are difficult. They’re not  easy to learn and you often have a jump you need to avoid in a 20m circle, so they take some thought. I was the only adult entered, for which I felt a little silly, but I got over it when I realized Georgie literally isn’t allowed to jump 2’6, and we have literally jumped 2 single jumps in the past year.


When I jumped her once this year…

Plus, I did not prepare for the test at all. I ran through it once with Macy, sans jumps obvi, and have been asking nothing of Georgie in our rides together other than come round and move off my leg. And while she was by far the most experienced horse in the class, I was ready to have fun, and really didn’t care about anything else.

It was the sloppiest test I’ve ridden in years. I forgot to steer and Georgie almost hopped over one of the fences before I yanked her off of it. During the free walk and stretchy trot it became apparent I had not asked Georgie to do any of those things in over a year.

But none of that mattered. Mare was her usual rockstar self. She was obedient and perfect and this seemed to be her kind of dressage test. Sure she totally stumbled over the last fence (it was a cross rail keep in mind) but ya know, its ok, mare hasn’t jumped in a while.


Has it become obvious I have no media from the show?

This was the perfect break my brain needed. It was awesome to ride Georgie again and just be able to enjoy the ride the entire time. Plus, we came out as the champions of the class. So, maybe not champions of the world, but that’s how it felt in my mind

We’ll see what her future brings, but I’m thankful she can still make me smile so much.


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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.


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.


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.


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.


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….


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.


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.


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!


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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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.


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.


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.


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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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.


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.



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.


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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Just a High Schooler Living for Jesus & Ponies

Midnight Calico Farm

One Family's Journey into Farm Life