Tag Archives: perspective

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?

DRIVEN.

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.

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Prelim chevrons are NBD for this mare

PARTICULAR

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…

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She clearly was not enjoying this particular moment

BITCHY

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.

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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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When You Know You Have a Unicorn

I work in animal welfare. I can tell you that 90% of people are looking for a unicorn when they come to adopt a dog. “Do you have a young,  well-trained, non shedding, no bark, great with kids, dogs, cats, men, women dog that I will have to put no training into and will be perfect 100% of the time?”

No. No we do not. Ok, maybe we DID but someone adopted that dog super fast.

They want a unicorn. Unicorns are very rare, don’t people know that?

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Not a unicorn AT ALL, but I still love her lots

This past week my family came to visit me and my brother-in-law asked if he could go riding. Having any family member show any interest in my equestrian activities is a major win, so I immediately began figuring out how we could go for a ride.

I knew he could ride Georgie, secured Rapid for myself and planned our outing. In retrospect I did two things wrong. 1) I didn’t account for how windy it would be, and still decided to go for a hack around the property and 2) brought Siri and her crazy husky friend with us.

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Lack of horse media so here is a pretty picture of our ski mountain we took while on a hike

My brother in law hadn’t ridden in a very, very long time, but I knew I could trust Georgie. We headed out to enjoy the ride. Rapid was over it pretty quickly. Between the wind blowing up her butt and the dogs wrestling next to her, she was ready to blow. It’s fun trying to help someone ride when the horse you’re riding feels like she wants to throw you into next week.

At one point, dogs came flying up behind us and Rapid lost it. She bolted forward, gave a kick and came running up behind Georgie.  Georgie responded by trotting quickly for two steps, realized her rider was put out of balance, and stopped.

She’s a unicorn guys.

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#unicorn

I can say I helped make her a unicorn with all the training and getting her out and about, but really, she was always a unicorn. The most tolerant and safe horse I have ever met. That brain. If I could only clone that brain.

I hand walked Rapid back to the barn so I could keep an eye on dogs and Georgie, but Georgie was unfazed by the craziness around her. We got back,  I threw dogs in car, and had brother in law ride in the round pen. A FAR better idea. He got to work on his rising trot and not surprisingly, Georgie was cool with him being out of rhythm trying to figure it all out.

As fun as it was to ride with my brother in law, I realize how lucky I am to have a horse like Georgie around for him to ride. I also realized that time and time again I ask things of her that I couldn’t ask of most horses.

So, apparently unicorns do exist. I won’t let potential dog adopters know though….

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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!”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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2018 Goals

As we head into the New Year, I’ve decided to make some goals, even though I have NO IDEA what the year will bring. I don’t even know if I will have a horse to ride, so that’s fun. But hey, let’s be optimistic and pretend all will go swimmingly!

HORSE GOALS

1) Take Georgie Intro or BN at an event. I like to call this one my sanity goal. It makes absolutely no sense to take her to an event. Especially since events aren’t less than 5 hours away. But, I have a feeling I will be wanting to do this so badly. Especially after dealing with a baby horse and a Macy horse. Sometimes I just need Georgie to remind me of how fun all of this can be. Plus, seeing her ears on XC and feeling her excitement will be totally worth it. Obviously this goal is 100% dependent on her soundness and her owner allowing me to take her. But we’ll make it a goal so I can remain sane.

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Yup, this is the unicorn that makes me happy…

 

2) Get June out and about April and May. June comes back the beginning of April and I plan on getting her right to work. Work, meaning refreshing her baby brain on all the ground work we did. I also am really really really hoping I can pony her off of Georgie. There’s no better horse to learn about trail riding with and I think June will love getting out there with a friend.

3) Get a bit more serious with June come June. Hopefully in June, June will start to get some nice under saddle rides. And by nice I mean we can work on moving from the leg, steering, stopping and you know, the basics of riding. Because… my big goal is….

4) Enter June in a FEH 4 year old class. This class was new last year. From what I’ve read it is a FEH class, not YEH, so no jumping under saddle. It’s walk, trot, canter, conformation and free jumping. They are held at a couple of events we go to, and I would LOVE to get June to one this year. She’s built well, and has some nice movement in the trot, so I think it won’t be a total waste of time. Plus, it gives me a riding goal to work towards. If we hit roadblocks, or she just isn’t ready, totally fine. I’m not going to push it with her.

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Yes please to this gallop.

No real Macy goals as I am not sure where she’ll be in my life when June returns. Plus, some days I really just want to call it quits with her, and other days I am in love with her, so I feel like setting goals will only add more stress I don’t need. I hope to still have her in my life to ride and learn from, we’ll just have to see where she fits in and what she’s up for doing.

Personal Goals

  1. Become a better rider. I know, duh. BUT, before Macy I wasn’t able to ride horses like Macy. And now I kinda can. And I have learned so much and have become a much stronger rider. But man, there are still things I need to work on. Really simple things, and minutia things, and I want to work on them. I want to take each ride seriously (except for when I am ponying June from Georgie. I just want to enjoy that and hopefully giggle a lot), and be more focused in my free rides. I feel like June will make me do that, just as Macy has, so that will help.
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Thanks May!

  1. Go back to Ireland. This one is happening in 2018. I cannot wait to jump those Irish beasts again!!
  2. Keep running and continue to make fitness a priority.
  3. Enjoy where I live and get out there. I really need to continue doing this.

So, there we have it. Come on 2018, show me what you’ve got!

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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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What Macy Has Taught Me

As I begin to reflect on a year that initially turned upside down, I have a lot to be thankful for that I would have never expected. Probably the biggest surprise of the year has been my relationship with Macy and how it has evolved over the past 10 months. She has taught me so much and before the year is over, I wanted to document what I’ve learned from her.

  1. Trust Your Gut

Probably one of the smartest things I did with Macy was declare that I didn’t want to ride her anymore. My confidence was shot, I wasn’t enjoying myself and I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to have a stress free ride on her. It was tough for me to swallow my pride and step away, but it was the best thing I could have done. Because, in admitting shit was not going well, I was able to take all the pressure off. I started having lessons at the walk. By only riding in lessons I never felt out of my comfort zone, and I was able to relax and knew that if I wanted to call it quits at any time, I could. It changed everything. Macy and I built a relationship and were able to move forward.

2. Be Flexible

Oh Macy. If only she was uncomplicated. Once I started riding her, I felt like I had to have a plan. I signed up for a recognized event at the Training level and about 4 weeks prior to the event I realized there was no way I was going to be able to ride the mare cross country without fear of dying. Then, 4 months later, I again signed up for a recognized event at Training and felt ready. But Macy was off, between ulcers and some lameness there was no way we were going to an event together. And it sucked. But I was proud of how ready I felt, and while none of my plans went as I wanted, it was ok. I was still able to enjoy this partnership.

3. No Trust, No Fun

See all of the above.  But, once you get that trust, things can fall into place and you remember why you are on a horse, galloping towards solid obstacles. And there is nothing better.

4. When In Doubt, More Leg

Seriously. It doesn’t matter what horse you are on. The minute I put my leg on, and get Macy forward, we had great rounds. No matter what discipline. But for me, I saw the most improvement in my xc riding. It also had a lot to do with me finally trusting Macy and knowing she would jump the jumps.

5. You Can Ride Your Trainer’s Horse and Not Ruin a Friendship

Sarah is my closest friend and also my trainer. And we thought it would be a good idea for me to ride her heart horse. Hello, does that not sound like imminent disaster? And sure, maybe I don’t blog about how sometimes I think Sarah wants to kill me when I am riding her horse poorly, or how sometimes I want to kill her when she says “Oh, she’s fine” as the mare is bolting down the length of the arena. But, somehow, this crazy grey mare makes us both laugh or say “you little shit” in unison, and somehow has made Sarah and I even closer friends. Sometimes bonding over a horse creates the strongest bond of all.

6. Be Thankful For Every Ride

I could have easily walked away from riding for the year. But instead I decided to challenge myself with a horse completely out of my comfort zone. And because of it I have grown as a rider and am so thankful for how much I have developed not only as a rider, but as a horsewoman.

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Thanks Macy for all you’ve taught me!

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Forgetting How to Ride

I’ve basically grown up on the back of a horse, or pony, as was the case when I was a wee child. And I feel incredibly comfortable around horses, I would definitely categorize myself as someone with good horse sense.

But put me on someone else horse, and have that person watch me ride their horse, and it’s as if I have never ridden before.

This was true when Sarah had me ride a potential horse for one of her clients. I couldn’t get it to stop jigging even though Sarah had just ridden it without a problem.

I was even like “woah pony, how do I stop you?” with Zoebird, despite how kind the mare was being to me riding her bareback.

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Thanks SprinklerBandits for letting me get the Zoebird experience

And I feel like this was a huge problem when I first started riding Macy.

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Macy was like “just ride you eejit!”

Something Sarah said to me when we went to see that sale horse was “When you try a horse, just ride it how you know to ride.” Sounds simple, and full of great wisdom, right? Yet, I cannot seem to follow those instructions.

Instead I worry if I am giving the horse the right cues, if I am sitting softly, being too handsy, EVERYTHING except just riding the horse.

And while I am not the world’s best rider, I have got more experience in this sport than any other sport I participate in. And no one has told me I am a dangerous rider and sent me packing, so I feel like I am doing ok. Ok enough to ride an unfamilar horse.

June has been coming along great, and we’re finding that you have to keep this mare’s brain engaged and active or she just gives you the finger and becomes a bit obstinate. So, with the groundwork going so well we realized it was time to back her. Dana let me have the first ride on her and sure, getting on my mare for the first time was a bit nerve-wracking but mare didn’t offer anything that as a horsewoman, I should have been concerned about. Yet I got up there and acted like a total novice. Which is great when you are riding a horse who has never had a rider on their back. I gripped with my knees, forgot to engage my core and could not for the life of me be loose and relaxed in the saddle.

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But we do kinda look good together

I didn’t give June my best ride for her first ride. The good news is that we’ll have lots of years together to work on that.

I will say that now that I realize this problem, I’m working on being a confident rider no matter what horse I ride. My first ride on Tiegan went great. I had a good sense of where the horse was at in her training, what she needed, and knew what I wanted to work on with her. I was unable to get the correct lead going right, but I knew to work on that in my lesson and problem solved.

Do any of you have similar issues? Or am I alone in the loss of riding ability when riding someone else’s horse? I think the fact that I am now riding lots of horses is helping but man, it’s taken long enough!

 

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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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And… We’re Done

While the title reflects my current mood, it may not accurately describe the future. Maybe. Hopefully.

In the beginning of this month I was raving about how much I was enjoying Macy and how amazing our jumper show and xc schooling went.

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This. This was so much fun

But if you have a horse you know that for every high there is a low.

When we got back from the show, Macy seemed off. She wasn’t eating or drinking well, and when the veterinarian was called to check her out, she confirmed that Macy had an impaction colic.

So many reasons why this could have happened, but what was most concerning was that this was Macy’s 2nd colic in 6 weeks. And this mare, who is 17, had only colicked once before in her entire life.

The thought was the colic was spurred on by her ulcers, which used to rear their ugly head quite often. Macy is on an NSAID which could have been inflaming her ulcers and causing her to colic. To add to it, I was an idiot and forgot to bring her ulcerguard when we traveled. So, when she was flemming and not eating well at the show, I passed it off as her being in heat and being too concerned about where Max was and not to her  feeling off. That still could have been the case, but considering she felt like crap when we got home, I think she was already beginning to colic.

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How do you know you’re in Idaho? There is an enormous Mormon temple behind you while xc schooling

So, we take her off the NSAIDS and give her some rest. She starts to feel great after about 3-4 days (we also took her off her grain and Quiessence, which I only knew had happened when I got on her and she was her old flightly self. She went right back on the Quiessence…)

And, as expected, she felt a bit uneven and unsound. Old mare needs her drugs to feel 100%. So we started her back on them and she started to feel looser and more even. And then, the following day, I took her for a walk down the driveway and she felt completely off on her front left. At the walk. When we went back into the barn and I began to untack her she was resistant to put weight on it. I checked the foot and everything looked ok. I asked Sarah to check her out the next day.

When Sarah went to go check her, leg was swollen and hot.

Now, Macy is old and a bit of a delicate TB flower. But she had just gotten a week off for a colic/ulcer issue, and now she was lame on a front leg- usually the stifle is what is the issue. And while I wanted to be like “give her a week off and we’ll see how she is” I have a recognized event in about 2 weeks. And closing day was the following day.

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I don’t think a good horsewoman would look at this horse, who is basically breaking down around us and say “eh, she’ll be fine to run her first Training event in 3 years.” I don’t think a good horsewoman would think “I REALLY want to go to this event so how can we patch her together to make it happen??”

And while I like to think I am a good horsewoman, I thought all of the above thoughts. And others. But then realized I am NOT a good horsewoman and I emailed the show secretary and scratched our entry.

I’m not sure Macy can withstand the level of work I am asking of her. I think she would happily jump anything I point her at, that’s the kind of horse she is, but it’s tough on her body and she’s starting to show her age, as well as why she was initially retired.

The biggest bummer for me, selfishly, is that I felt like I finally got her. I felt like she had made me such a better rider and we were now a team. I really liked Macy, if not loved her. I haven’t met a horse with such an amazing work ethic before.

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Now, we’re not sure what’s wrong with her front leg, but hopefully the vet will tell us that she still has some riding left in her. Sarah and I have both prematurely come to the conclusion that we need to take it a bit easier on her. If she hasn’t blown a suspensory (always imagine the worst, right?) we’ve discussed doing some dressage work on her for the future. Maybe no more jumping.

Since I scratched the event and was feeling down in the dumps, Sarah offered to give me a June lesson, maybe I could back her. I pulled June out, threw her in the round pen and went through our routine. Brought her into the indoor and began to brush her. That’s when I noticed a cut on her left front. Plus lots of swelling and heat. So…. I went and cold hosed her, gave her bute and wrapped her. So much for my consolation lesson.

Horses. It’s never a dull moment is it?

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