Tag Archives: eventing

Georgie’s Purpose

I believe that horses, unlike a cat, or sometimes even a dog, must have a purpose. For me, spending a large chunk of my paycheck on the board, care, and training of a horse, means that they must have some sort of purpose for me. I can’t afford a pasture ornament. Which is why, when Georgie injured her suspensory ligament, I gave up my lease on her. It was heartbreaking, but I couldn’t afford to pay for her, as well as another horse.

I got really lucky in that her owner took on the costs of Georgie’s care and board, but asked if I could still care for her. Ride her and keep an eye on her, see how she was healing. This has worked out really well for all of us, especially since we moved Georgie back to my barn. I can ride and care for her as well as ride Macy, and I can give her owner frequent reports on her progress.

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I avoid sending her pictures like this one, where Georgie looks miserable

This past Friday we had another 6 month recheck on Georgie’s soundness. To me, she feels good. I sometimes feel an off step, but she seems much more willing to work and looks and feels quite sound.

The veterinarian confirmed that Georgie is, in fact, doing much better. She approved her for harder dressage work, as well as some light jumping. We’ll see how she handles that work load and as we get her more fit, how she does.

I was obviously thrilled with this information and began formulating plans for our future. But then I remembered, she’s no longer my horse. Her owner has no obligation to let me take Georgie to an event and go Intro or Beginner Novice. I can make plans on this horse this coming year as much as I coud last year. They’re completely uncertain.

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As I drove home from the vet appointment I was struck with what Georgie’s purpose is. It’s not to jump jumps or do upper level dressage movements.

Georgie’s purpose is to remind me how fun riding horses is.

Macy has been a bit, um, high, lately, probably since we’re restricted to indoor work, and riding her has been more of a challenge. This is fine, in that I know to expect that when I ride Macy, I need to work hard and be patient and not plan on enjoying the ride.

When June comes back and we get to work, I am going to be challenged left and right with her. She’s not going to be easy and that’s ok. She’s a baby horse and we need to figure things out together.

But Georgie is my rock. She’s the mare I can hop on and just enjoy it. And sometimes, that’s exactly what I need. I stopped by the barn to ride and it was chaos. A jump lesson was going on, horses were tied up all over the arena and it was just a frenetic environment. I knew Macy was a no go unless I wanted to struggle with her the entire time, so I pulled out Georgie. She got to work and didn’t put a foot out of place. All my stress and worries from the day disappeared.

This is why I ride.

Thanks Georgie, for giving that to me.

 

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Goal Recap

Oh what a year it’s been. I’m kinda happy to have it all behind me! My goals were set pre-Georgie injury, but I thought it was still worthwhile to see how I did with them. So, here goes!

Personal Goals:

  • I decided on this one while on my run this morning… Do a 10k. At first I was like “sign up and finish a 10k race” but to be honest, I’m not sure I want to enter a race and spend the money. So, my goal has been revised to just getting a 10k done. By July. DONE! I ran multiple 6-7 mile runs throughout the year and did do a fun 10k race as well!
  • Remain fit and continue to make fitness and health a priority. I’m 10 pounds into a 20 pound weight loss, but I want to make sure I don’t lose sight of staying fit. Being active makes me happy.  DONE! I lost about 25lbs total and was running and hiking all year, probably the fittest I have been in a while
  • Balance your personal life with your equestrian life. I want to hike more. I want to say yes to more things that aren’t horse related. While still being a dedicated equestrian. Let me know if this is unrealistic… 😉 Sort of done… I still, even without my own horse, was spending a LOT of time at the barn. I didn’t go for nearly as many day hikes as I wanted. I was proud of myself for going to Portland and the Oregon Coast when Macy was not sound enough for our eventing debut in October, rather than staying home and feeling sad.

Riding Goals:

  1. Be able to do trot sets for 15 minutes in jumping position by the end of the winter. I think I can do this one. It’s just a matter of getting out there and getting it done. I can be pretty lazy about trot sets.  DONE! So, I am pretty sure I did this earlier in the year, but then repeated it for TwoPoint’Tober.
  2. When I ride, remember to ask more of Georgie in each ride. I need to stop being complacent as to where we are at in our training. She’s at the point where I can ask and expect more of her. And I should. Sort of done? I am moving this over to Macy, and still struggle with this, even with her. Work in progress…
  3. Sometimes, just enjoy the ride. Go for a hack. Explore a new trail. Don’t make it all about training all the time. DONE! With June I learned all about horsemanship and doing more with horses than just getting ready for a competition.
  4. Get the most out of each ride. If I’m going to work on jumping, how about I work on multiple things, rather than just one thing. If I am going to ride for 30 minutes, how about I spend those entire 30 minutes working…. Eh, sort of. It’s a great idea though!
  5. Enjoy stadium jumping. Figuring out a way to keep my brain from spinning out of control would be awesome.  Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year I REALLY enjoyed stadium jumping with Macy. And totally had thoughtful rides where my brain was engaged. Probably the highlight of the year.

Competition Goals:

  1. Go Prelim at a recognized event. I have to make this a goal since it’s on the table now. Nope. Big Nope. So sad.
  2. Let Georgie jump the tables. I need to just let her jump out of stride at a gallop. Even if at first it feels uncomfortable and makes me wince a little. Nope. God Damn it. These are zero fun.
  3. In each element of the competition, give Georgie a thoughtful ride. In dressage, think about your next movement, on xc, think about the next fence and how to approach it, and in stadium jumping, just think. I think that if I can do this, we are going to be a really successful pair.  Um I didn’t compete Macy xc either so this is a NOPE.
  4. Have fun at the competitions. This hasn’t ever been a problem, but if it becomes one, I think it is time for me to hang up my hat. Well, I had fun at schooling shows, so DONE. Yay for one of these
  5. Do not care about where you placed. Look back at the competition and think about how your rides made you feel as a rider. You are only competing with yourself. Sometimes a high or low score can dictate how I feel about a ride. And it really shouldn’t. I have no idea where those other riders are in their training, or what their expectations are for themselves. I can and should only concentrate on my ride with my horse. DONE! I was happy to be alive and still on Macy, so this was a WIN!

Well, there you go. For an upside down year, at least I got some of my goals accomplished! How did you do?

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When You Don’t Have Your Horse

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

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

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Yes please to this gallop.

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

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Thanks May! I love jumping too.

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

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

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

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

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Great rides on Tiegan recently

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

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June: 3 Weeks Into Training

June has been down with Trainer Dana for 3 full weeks now, and she is learning SO much. I’ve been down to see her as much as I can and am trying to soak up all the knowledge Dana is throwing at both of us!

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She’d happily stand up here for hours

One of the big things Dana is working on with June are coping skills. Mare has strong opinions when she doesn’t like things. Which is ok, but she needs to express those opinions in ways other than kicking out or bucking 🙂

She has made HUGE progress on this and Dana even called her a “legit citizen” the other day, so that’s cool!

June loves the “pedestal of knowledge”, as I call it, and she’ll happily come over and get a nice stretch on it as this video shows:

And while she has been learning to soften, to yield, and how to cope, she’s also been exposed to kids, cats, ducks, tractors and all sorts of other things, which I absolutely love.

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She’s been ground driven, gotten used to a saddle on her back, and basically has a great foundation now.

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And she is still totally adorable

In the beginning of November she will head up north to live the winter in a pasture, hopefully thinking about all she has learned so that when she comes back home in April she is ready to make some more progress! I’m so excited wth how this baby is coming along!

 

 

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Considering History

Ask me 8 months ago if I thought I’d ever be singing the praises of Macy and I would have looked at you like you were crazy. But, Macy and I have certainly figured each other out. In a good way.

This weekend was our barn’s annual Halloween fun show. It included barrel racing, bareback jumping and regular jumper classes, you could do all of it in costume, which I clearly declined, seeing as I loathe Halloween. (I’m super fun, I swear.) Fun post of the show coming soon!

Anyway, despite not jumping Macy for a month or 6 weeks, and having ridden her 3-4 times in the last month, I thought I’d sign up for a couple 3’3 jumper classes. It’s my home barn, how bad could it be?

I brought Macy into the indoor arena and she immediately saw a ghost-  pulled back and proceeded to gallop around the arena. The thing is, she really did see a ghost. A horse dressed up as a ghost, sheet over his head and all.

I realized this show may be too much for her, but threw her out to gallop around and figured we would give this saddling thing one more shot.

Warm up was chaotic. No, it was crazy. There were first time show people, barrel racers, kids with parents and then like two of us, just trying to jump over the jumps in the middle of all of it for warm up. Macy was a rockstar and only bolted once, when her mom’s voice came over the very loud, very crackly, speakers, letting us know it was 10 minutes until start time.

She kept her shit together way better than I could have ever anticipated and we went into the jump arena with probably more confidence than ever, despite our lack of preparedness in the past month.

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Um, we kinda nailed it. Our rides werent flawless but they felt amazing and we walked away with a blue ribbon. I asked Sarah if I could enter her 3’6 and she paused, to which I said “No, no, it’s ok, we don’t need to push her that hard.”

But Sarah thought she’d actually love it and we agreed that I’d enter once and not do the jump off with tight turns should we get to that.

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She doesn’t care that my leg position is bascially non functional

It wasn’t as seamless and fluid as 3’3, but we got it done. And not a rail was dropped. Macy is still a fantastic and super fun jumper. And maybe even a tolerable horse in warm up these days. I totally get why she was Sarah’s heart horse despite her quirks and how difficult she can be. When she’s in that arena, she’s FUN. She’s the most fun horse I’ve ever jumped just because of her talent and experience. And this is her when she is far from her prime.

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Here she is at her prime. Going Intermediate for the first time, at Rebecca and ending up in first place.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Macy lately. Or rather, about Sarah and Macy. Macy was a homebred and Sarah has known her her entire life. Her hope was for Macy to one day be a prelim horse. But Macy exceeded everyone’s expectations as she climbed up the levels, making easy work of Intermediate and the 2* level. They were consistently in the top 5 at events, proving that eventing is not a dressage show. While Advanced was on the table, Sarah knew there was more work to be done to make sure they had a safe, confident ride at the level. And then one day, running cross country, Macy felt off.

She began to stop at fences.

And Sarah knew something was wrong.

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Macy at 1 day old! Those ears though!

A visit to the equine veterinary specialists confirmed her biggest fears. Macy had injured her stifle and her upper level days were behind her.

We’ve heard this story time and time again, and there really isn’t anything “special” about Macy’s story. But I’ve been thinking lately about how tough it must be to continue on after your once in a lifetime horse ends it’s career.

I didn’t have to bring Macy along. I didn’t teach her lead changes, or how to be straight, or how to do haunches in or pirouettes. I just get to enjoy all those things because of Sarah’s hard work with her. So, imagine getting to the point where jumping Intermediate jumps on the horse you have put so much work into is fun. And kinda easy, in the sense that your horse is prepared for it and can make light work of it. And how FINALLY you can enjoy your horse and get out of the minutia of training and do some of the more fun and “fancy” things. This is what you’ve been working towards for SO MANY YEARS. And this horse could be the one. The one that takes you to a level you’ll maybe never again achieve.

And then it’s over.

And she’s your only horse.

And because you chose to be an eventing trainer, you’re expected to move on. Find another horse and chase that upper level once again.

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Just flying around the Galway CCI**

But really, you just want to mourn for what you lost. You don’t want to have to start over. With the minutia. With the endless 20 meter circles and desperately trying to get your horse to come out of a corner straight. You don’t want to buy a “made” horse because you want the horse to be made by you. But really, deep down you don’t want to have to put those years back into training because it was finally fun. And thrilling. You just want that back.

In Sarah’s case it took her a while to find a new horse and get serious about it. And the horse she found is the polar opposite of Macy. (She saw the ghost at the show and was unfazed.) And it took Sarah a while to realize that it’s ok that the horse is nothing like Macy. She’s still a good horse. She’s still got talent and heart, two of the most important things.

I think it must be tough for Sarah to watch me ride her horse as an amateur who pulls on her mouth and bounces on her back. As someone who used to be so frightened around her and unable to get past that for many months in order to see what the horse is actually capable of.

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Look ma! From far away it looks like I know what I’m doing!

But I also know, that when she sees Macy make light of a 3’3 and 3’6 jumper course, despite the rider on her back not always seeing her distances, and sometimes riding backwards (it happens, I’m working on it…) I think it makes her happy. Happy that this talented, tough, mare, can have a second career.

And that it’s ok for both of them to move forward, even if they’re on different paths.

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Three Greys and a Chestnut

September was one of the craziest months I have had in a long time. I knew it would be, and prepared as best I could, but I still felt stretched too thin and as if I couldn’t enjoy any of it. Just constantly running from one thing to another. There were some real highs- I secured funding for my job for 3 years, I schooled prelim on Macy, family came to town, I did a TED talk, but I honestly just couldn’t wait for the month to be over.

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We’ve all been there- frazzled and unable to catch up. And I swore to myself that I wasn’t going to let life continue to do that to me. It is easy for me to get sucked into horses and riding and not enjoy anything else. Even without a competition horse this summer I still found myself not going for as many hikes or adventures. I’m the type of person who can’t do things half way. I’m all in, or I’m out. Hence, I was all in with Macy even though we didn’t know how that would go.

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She makes me awfully happy most days

The good news is, Macy is sound. Georgie is back at our barn. Tiegan has been more and more fun to ride, and June is progressing beautifully with Trainer D.

And while having 3-4 horses to ride and play with is every 6 year olds dream, I can see myself getting overwhelmed very easily. And getting back to that frantic state of mind.

So, I’ve set a bit of a schedule for myself. I don’t want to give up rides on any of these horses. (Typical of my personality..) So, I need to be realistic about what I can and cannot do so that I can still enjoy winter activities away from the barn (I signed up for a curling team after all…)

I’ve committed to Macy 2 days a week, Georgie 2 days a week and Tiegan 3 days a week. That will get me to the barn 5 days a week, which is totally manageable. I think. I hope… Macy will no longer be just my ride, but that’s ok. We’ve realized she can’t handle intense work, so we’re hoping to get her out 3-4 days a week and just keep her sound and happy.

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Having Georgie back is the best!

June is off to winter pastures come November so she will be off my list until the spring. At which time Georgie will sadly probably be off my list. (We’re hopeful she will be part of a lesson program for young kids). So, we’ll see. As lovely as it is having all these different horses to ride, and as thankful as I am, and as much as I have learned, I’m really looking forward to the day when it’s me and June, galloping around Rebecca Farm, knowing each other so well and having an absolute blast.

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So excited to ride this one day!!!

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June Update!

I am really, really starting to love this baby horse. I feel like we’ve turned a corner and are having so much fun together. Well, I’m having fun, not sure she loves all the round pen work.

I knew she would be going to Trainer Dana’s at the end of the week, so I did as much as I could in preparation. I put shipping boots back on her, did cavaletti work, and maybe did this:

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Could I be any happier?

I just sat on her for about 30 seconds, and she was great. I kinda had to before she left me. I dunno why. But most of you probably totally understand…

She lives with a Palomino mare who she bosses around and I like to turn them out on grass together. As we were heading to the pasture my friend was leading her sister in to ride and I insisted on a picture of them together for compare and contrast purposes.

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Yeah, they look nothing alike. Her sister (different mom) is much more fine boned…

I trailered June down to Trainer D’s yesterday and she was great in the trailer. I was a nervous wreck, but it was my friend’s slant load which she has never had an issue in.

Within minutes of being there we put her in the round pen and she offered this:

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Such a brave baby!

I let Trainer D know that I would love it if she could be exposed to as many novel and scary things as possible while there. The more she sees now, the better. I mentioned having her kids hang all over her, I don’t have kids, so she doesn’t really ever see them.

Last night I got this photo:

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Yup. This is exactly what I meant

I miss June already and know I’ll be sad when I go to the barn and she’s not there, but I am excited to go see her in about a week and see all the progress Trainer D has made with her!

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