Sunday, July 13, 2014

I used to think I was pretty bad ass.

There is nothing like small children jumping large fences on small ponies to make you feel like a chicken shit.  Seriously saw some bad ass riders this week and they were all 14 years old or younger with the average age being 10 at Pony Club D camp.  I love pony club!  Really every young aspiring riders parents could do them no favor greater than joining pony club.
I saw them with looks of concern, when asked to jump something new yet take it on any way with boldness and land with smiles from ear to ear and more confidence in themselves than they've ever had.  Kids who last year were struggling over poles on the ground who worked all year and came back this year and now jumping beginner novice and novice jumps with ease.  These are the cream of the crop.  The future of our horse sports and I am proud to be along for the ride to watch them grow and learn.

These are no ordinary kids.  They work hard, they don't complain, they may weigh less than the manure bucket they are trying to empty but they figure out a way to do it.  Because they understand that their teammate is the most important one in their partnership and deserve the best care no matter how hard.  Each kid willing to help the other.

I saw some take spills and refuse to take a break and more determined to ride better and get it right.  Not one get angry with their horse but instead heeded instruction to give a better ride.  You truly get to see these kids grow in so many ways over the 5 days of camp.  Now here are some pictures to make you too feel like a chicken shit.


 First is Elaina on Penny.  My 7 year old daughters pony who Elaina has been having some fun with this summer.  She is some where around 12 hands and jump all the beginner novice like is was no big thang.  Adorbs!  Mind you Elaina has never jumped XC jumps of this size and has really only ever schooled XC twice over some itty bitty stuff.  But she to made it all look like no big thang.









 Then the last XC day they did a switch ride and Elaina rode another girls pony Sheldon.  Who after watching him the first day everyone who knew him said he was a "dick of a pony".  He proved to be just that but Elaina gave him some great rides and she did great with him.

 Jumping the double bank down beautifully.




Canter through the water and up and over the Novice rolltop.



Big stuff! 

Ahhhh perfection

He was acting squirlly to this jump but Elaina rode it well and she is learning young the benefits of "staying in the backseat!" 

Again he got squirlly and she rode it out with success.
And here are a couple of the other kiddos at camp.  Really amazing little riders.  Both of these young riders are 10.




The smile!




Tuesday morning we leave bright and early with two other girls from our club(one of them being the one riding the big bay above) for Kentucky Horse Park for Pony Club National Championships and Festival.  Where they will be competing in Pony Club Quiz.  Wish them luck!!!  Go Pony Club!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

If I died today...

If I accomplish nothing else in life I can die feeling like I've succeeded and accomplished more than I ever thought I would or could when starting out on this journey over 4 years ago.  This is my horse, whom I've trained from his first day off the track and my young rider whom I've birthed and instructed from her first day in the saddle.  If I had a dream about what my life could be this beauty of a video would sum up all of those dreams.

So much has gone into this moment. Time, money and sacrifice being a few.  All the struggle and challenge that I have dealt with and worked through to make this life a reality not just for me but for my children have all been worth it to see this.

I'm telling you it hasn't been easy and some of you that have been around this blog from the beginning may remember some of those struggles.  There have been money struggles, marriage struggles, guilt struggles and let's not forget to mention the seemingly endless training struggles with this giant 17 hand athletic, intelligent ball of fire.  Then there is the chance that your children won't even want to ride horses and even if they do not with the same passion you have for it.  To work their butt off and over come difficulties to keep at it to become great.  There are so many variables and if and when they fall into place you just never know, until they just do.  And they all did for me this week.

This was a purely experimental experience.  I put Elaina on Steady in one of her lessons at pony club camp just to see how they got along.  I thought maybe they would go over a few single x's at a trot.  But over the course of the warm up it started to become clear that she was riding him perfectly.  She was nervous.  You could see it on her face but she never once rode like she was.  She never gripped the reins and held his face and instinctively made every right decision.  She was a very quiet rider.  If he got quick she didn't react she just sat up and half halted.  If she need him to slow down more she circled.  I was floored. Of course I do think my daughter is a good rider for an 11 year old but I NEVER expected her to have those instincts.  I then had to tell her that she is a better rider than she thinks she is while she was up there.  Because she kept looking to me and the instructor with this look of "help me, what do I do" all while doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing.  So we had nothing to instruct her on except for to realize she has got this!  The humility in her abilities makes the whole thing even sweeter.

Here it is folks my 11 year old daughter showing us how to ride a beginner novice height show jump course.  She has not jumped a course that high on any horse let alone on a tough to ride 17 hand OTTB for her very first time ever over fences, like she was born doing it.



Someone said the other day, "some Mom's have to worry about their daughters stealing their clothes as they get older, but I have to worry about my daughter stealing my horse."
The problem is real people!  I also have to worry about the day that her abilities pass up mine and then she will start bossing me around.  I am not quite ready to let my spot in the saddle go yet but I do believe I can share.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

It's happening

I am actually writing something on my blog.  Don't get to used to it because the way things are going it seems it will be few and far between.  I am reading my favorite blogs but even then rarely have the time or stamina to actually comment.  I am so very sorry for that.  Here is a catch up post.

Riding seems scarce.  Someone thought entering into an accelerated college program with 3 kids, 3 horses, 15 acre farm, 2700 sq ft house and a husband whilst trying to prepare to move to another state was a good idea?  I have to admit though I am LOVING learning about massage therapy.  It is the perfect fit for me and I am so excited about what it means for my future.  I am massaging people on a regular basis and even worked on my first horse with much success last week.  I just love getting my hands on peoples angry, stressed muscles.

I did get to take a XC lesson last weekend on Steady along with Elaina on Penny Pincher.  That experience was like an amazing out of body experience.  Not only did I get to have a ton of fun soaring over jumps on my kick ass horse but in between I got to watch my daughter and her adorable pony navigate XC for the first time and see her face after each jump.  It does NOT get better than this people, I am telling you!  I believe she is officially hooked on the adrenaline rush and jumped a ditch, banks, coops, roll tops, water, banks out of water.  It was awesome to watch!  If there was video you would all collectively go, awwwww after each jump because oh my, that pony!

Steady was pretty great considering the insane amounts of rain we have been getting have kept me off of him for a good couple weeks.  He was really quite chill besides a few "steady" moments.  I Lee Ann reinforced and worked on not snatching him up upon landing.  Instead letting go a bit and adding leeeeg and half halting and just "waiting him out".  Now I need about 100 more lessons on this point to develop new neural pathways from my brain to my motor neurons so that out on a XC course I can do this without thinking and instead it becomes an acquired reflex. (you can thank A & P for the medical terms)  Because we all know that thinking on XC for me is not necessarily in the cards.

This week has also been the 4-H fair for us.  Kelcie is still a mini 4-h'er and showed Hank and Penny.  7 year old on most adorable pony on earth!


 Macy showed Hank for the first year in obedience and agility and they did awesome!  They got a 4th in obedience and 6th in agility.  Corgi on agility course=adorable.

 Elaina decided not to do the 4-H norm and enter every single class but instead just show in the things that really mattered to her.  So we skipped all the pleasure stuff.  Thank God cause that stuff makes my eyes bleed.  And just hauled in for Dressage and over fences day.  And then again on contesting night.  She got 1st in her dressage class doing intro test C, 2nd in Hunter Hack, 1st in Eq over fences and 1st in Hunter O/F.
They had their picture in the paper the next day.  Friggen adorable!


 They had the absolute best round of the day including all the Sr. 4-H kids and I am not just saying that because I am her mother.  Most of those kids were down right terrifying over fences and the couple rounds that weren't had rails down.  She ended up wining Jr. High Point Champion for the day! 
Happy kid, tired pony.


Contesting night was rainy and we decided to do the crazy horse people thing and go anyways and ride in the rain.  We only stayed for the first two events because contesting always goes until the wee hours in the morning and having school in the morning it just wasn't happening.  Elaina, the good sport she is, was just grateful that she got to go at all.  She ran poles getting 2nd and barrels taking 1st Oh em ge can we again collectively say adorable perfect pony?!  Then we left with 2 more event to go.
Did I mention we do contesting in full on English?  In an egg butt snaffle, no whip, no spurs, no flailing body parts but instead excellent equitation.  Showin' the big ass bit, tight ass tie downs, giant saddles and monster spur folk how it's done with class!!!!


  The next day I heard word that her name was announced at the end of the night for Jr. High Point Reserve Champion!

The kid won more swag this week than I have my entire life.  She was also nominated for the sportsmanship award, that's what that plaque is.

 What a fun rewarding week for her.  I won't get any more sappy over it all but I'm telling you it couldn't have happened to a more deserving, humble kid who never cared about winning anything just that she did a good job and that her pony was happy and healthy.

That is it on the family farm front.  Everyone is happy, healthy and enjoying life!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Finding Center

What do the words Balanced, Centered mean to you?  They have been on my mind quite a bit lately.  To me they mean to me is when life is changing, the world changing, gravity, obligations, reality pulling at you. That you being so centered, focused and balanced that nothing moves you.  That your strength is so concentrated in the right areas that you don't start to shift, and change with your surroundings.  You don't have to reach for something to grab on to.  You just stay.  You cannot be moved.  It is beautiful.  It is strong.  It is healthy.  It is comfort. It is happiness, peace, contentment, progress, evolving, forward.  Pretty much everything.  There is so much changing around me.  My entire world for the most part is moving shifting and going in many directions that are new.  That can be unnerving and uneasy.  My time, my schedule, where I live, what I do, when I do it.  All of this can shift my feelings but they do not shake my center.  I am kept together and remain in balance.  In life I have my center, my core kept in balance with God, my husband, my children, my animals.

Balance in riding is equally as important.  I don't just mean being able to stay balanced on a horse.  I have had that skill honed since I was a 10 year old kid.  But I mean both sides of your body weighted perfectly even.  Your weight evenly distributed across the entire surface area that touches the horse.  Your seat bones both with the same amount of pressure in your seat.  Your shoulders even.  Solid through your rib cage and equal on both sides.  No collapsing one way or another.

Having a long riding break can be discouraging but it can also be like pressing the rest button on your position.  When you start to fall into your bad habits and old muscle memory it can mean a world of difference.  I have been starting back slow this year.  And by slow I mean slower than you are probably thinking, nope even slower than that.  Although I have been frustrated by that I have also been using that to my advantage.  We work slow and I have just been paying attention to the small things.  I have been haunted by going to the right for so long now. Every time we go to the right we struggled.  He would fall to the inside, bulge his shoulder in, turning that direction was no fun when you are at full jumping speed on a tight course and in a dressage test it meant we always lacked right bend.  I have done it all to try to fix it.  I have been frustrated because I thought there was something wrong with my horse, that he was crooked and I need to fix it.  I have had instructor after instructor try to help me with this in a hundred different ways.  Finally after a culmination of all of the things I had an eye opening ride a few weeks back and have been progressing in that direction. I realized it was not my horse.  Ha go figure right. Don't get me wrong he is not perfect and has his issues but the going to the right thing was all me.  What was the aha moment you ask?  Finding my right seat bone and concentrating reeeaaally hard to not lose it.  Really, it's life changing those little bones.  Other things go along with this in finding the seat bone but with me essentially what was happening is when I would go right I would tighten up my right side in attempt to use my right leg.  Unintentionally scrunching up my leg, weighting my left seat bone and collapsing my rib cage to the right.  But in finding that seat bone and letting my weight down through it is has a chain reaction where my leg becomes longer, my rib cage opens back up and you see this instant change.  You have a horse moving braced, with his right shoulder bulging and having to steer to the right, I all the sudden see a change, his shoulder moves over, his neck becomes supple and you add leg and the bend around your leg happens.  In reality my horse was crooked but I needed not to fix him but fix me.  He was crooked because I was crooked.  So what does balance mean to me?  Everything.

Ride with Your Mind is life changing people and addicting.
I have heard a million times, "core, core, core, core, core" and while yes core is important you can have a very muscular core and all your muscles in your core tightened and still be completely crooked and sending your horse the complete wrong message.  You need so much more then "core" strength and all the sit ups in the world are not going to fix unevenness.

Balance has much to do with why I am starting school tomorrow morning.  I truly believe that the things I am going to school to learn about human and equine anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, are key in understanding how evenness in your body and your horses body will keep both horse and rider at their best.  Staying centered in your body will help keep you centered in your mind and it will help your riding in ways you never realized it could, it will help your horses comfort, soundness and over all health.  I am excited yet apprehensive.  This process is going to be a big sacrifice for myself and my family for the next 13 months.  If I didn't believe whole heartedly that it was that important and life changing for people then I wouldn't be doing it. I know I will have to remind myself many times over the next year about how important it is and not to get discouraged.

Here's to the world spinning around us but us being so balanced that we keep moving forward and not be lost in the unbalance of uncertainty.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Spinning

I feel like my head spins with all the info I want to share on here, but then there is too much that I don't post.  I want the posts to be interesting and not a ramble of all the things.  That is the reason I am so sporadic on here.  Here is me doing my best not to ramble. 

Remember that last post that I said something like, "Oh Novice, shmovice, yaaaawwwnn."?  Yeah well apparently cross rails are cause for melt downs so I may have gotten a bit ahead of myself.  Things this spring have gotten off to such a good start and silly me kind of expected them to keep heading in that direction.  I mean I jumped the Haffie pony the other day and she was kick ass awesome and sooooo fun!  Now I am thinking I should trade in my 17 hh fancy pants for a 14 hh tank of a pony.  Haffie jumped everything I pointed her at with excitement.  Fancy Pants  hemmed hawed and melted down about poles on the ground.  Stumbling over trot poles, planting his feet and flipping his head on the landing side of a cross rail.  For goodness sake!  I was going to jump a baby grid with a couple 2'3"-2'6" jumps but noooooo.  We never got passed lets get over one cross rail at time with out bolting off or spazzing out.  So that is what we did.  Jumped cross rails until Sir FP could jump them quietly and land in a nice collected, manageable canter.  Sheesh.  So we are going to be going back down to Green as Grass division this year and deferring back to I am 14 but act like I am 3 so I can't do big pony stuffs any more.  Kidding.  Kind of.  Dingus.

Here are some videos of adorbs pony jumping like it was what she was born to do.  (trying to get media ready for a sale ad for her :( )  Seriously, if I could just shrink or she could just grow about 1 more hand I would take her eventing, fox hunting, dressage shows, jumpers, hunters, everything!  She is so uncomplicated and  I mean she can literally do it all.  She loves jumping, she is super brave XC, she has won trophies in Western Pleasure, Hunters, she drives, I could seriously do combined driving on her in a heart beat and she is so darn cute. Le sigh, but she is not 1 hand taller and I don't plan on shrinking any time soon and she is not the best fit for an 11 year old kid so I must sell her.  So for now, enjoy the cuteness.
video






 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Spring is for blooming

I feel like life has been breathed back into me.  My horses are slowly but surely loosing their winter coats and there is short shiny coats on the way!  Grass is growning, trees are turning green and I rode in a tank top today!  All the horses/ponies are getting worked.  This has been the first year since I have owned him that Steady has felt like he was a bonafide trained horse after so many months off.  I got on  and he got to work.  Doing the whole dressagey thing.  His canter is lovely but it has always been an issue when he is not super fit. I love that he comes back into fitness so quickly.  I swear I looked at him yesterday and I felt like he was an overweight middle aged hippy and today he is looking like a stud in his prime.

My 11 year old daughter has been having a blast on the little pony we are leasing.  And it has made her realize that riding is more fun when you don't have to fight a green pony every ride.  It has also made her agree that selling Lily is what is best for her right now.  So we will be getting Lily back into working mode then getting a sale ad together.  She WILL make a great pony for someone.  I jumped her today for the first time in over 7 months and it was like she never skipped a beat.  She loves jumping and her canter has improve SO much over this winter it is like riding a different animal.  She has amazing uphill transitions.  Like more uphill than I have ever felt on Steady.  She can still get down hill during the canter but for a pony that was incapable of cantering on a circle just months ago it is a whole new world.

I have my therapy back, being back on a horses back so all is right in my world.  I fear that competing, clinics and even lessons will suffer this year.  I start massage therapy school in just two weeks and I have no idea what to expect and how I am going to balance it all.  Also I will be paying a school bill each month which will mean less excess money for non essentials.  Though I tend to believe me competing is actually an essential expense, Ryan does not agree and I can see where he is coming from.  But what this does mean that in just over a year I will be making money and then this money issue will not stand in my way of getting where I want to go!

We will still get out this year you can be sure of that.  It just may not bet the 4-5 recognized events that I would love to do if life, money and responsibilities were not an issue.  And though it seems a bit strange the idea of competing Novice this year actually sound a bit boring.  Strange right!?  So we will be stepping up our game this year and move ourselves along.  Steady is game.  I am game.  Why not?!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Real Rolex Rockstar

I am telling you I am obsessed. 
When the obsession started: Nearly the end of the cross country day at Rolex. I had spent hours upon hours walking miles and miles.  Watching horse after horse, jump, jump after jump.  I saw great ones, scary ones, beautiful ones.   There really is nothing like XC day at Rolex.  And the weather, oh my lovely!  The day was nearly over.  Just two horses still on course and the day was over too soon.  My two wonderful daughters and my new super cool Rolex buddy M had migrated our way to jump 25,  The Kentucky Cabins.  I saw about 3 horses come through and each one though they made it through looked like they were happy to be closing in on the finish line. Two even giving the question a second look but in the end were obedient and cleared the combination.  Then there was Rocky!  Before this moment knew nothing of this horse and the only thing I knew of the rider was that her number was 74 and it was the girl that was surely just 12 years old that we noticed as we were at the Hollow earlier in the day, walking the course.  I think the conversation with M went something like, "Who is that walking on course?".  "Is she a competitor?".  "I don't know she looks like she is all of 12 years old."  "I guess she is since she is wearing a number."  "That is insane, she looks so young!".

As I watched the duo near the jump I saw something I hadn't yet seen this far into the course.  The horse fighting his rider to let him run faster.  Libby was obviously trying to set her horse up well to the combination. Others had come through and I had heard grunting.  Seen whips swatting but none having to say, hey dude chill out.  He flew over them just 2 question from the end of a 4* XC course.  Not to mention he was a little dude.  The next words out of my mouth after I picked up my jaw off the ground was, "That HAS to be a thoroughbred!"  That's it I was officially obsessed.

Fly little guy, fly!!


On the way to the vet box we were scouring the program to learn more of this tiny but mighty horse.  He was indeed a thoroughbred.  Only 15.1 hands, the shortest horse out there, 16 years old and his first Rolex.  The rider Libby Head was not 12 but was just 22 and her first 4* as well and she the youngest rider out there!  At the vet box the little guy stood next the great Arthur which made him look even smaller.  Though Arthur is truly a beautiful specimen I could not take my eyes off this amazing little ball of fire that was still doing a bit of dancing post Rolex XC run.  After Libby had taken Sir Rockstar back to the barns I asked the grooms if Libby owned him and they said  yes.

I have been searching the internet since and have found all I can on the feisty pair.  I have friended Libby on facebook and put in a request to Eventing Nation to interview Libby.  They told me they are "on it" so I am excited to see what they learn.  I have looked up his race record and have read and watched all I can find on them.

Rolex is amazing!  The riders are world class.  But so many at the top of the list are, yes, the best riders in the world but they have their pick of the litter.  Money, though often times not their own, to spare when it comes to what they ride and how they are brought along.  I do not mean to discount these riders because I too am in awe of them.  But when a story like Libby and Rocky comes along I think it gives hope that the sport, while an expensive one, is not entirely ruled by the one with the fattest checking account.  But a 22 year old with a rescued OTTB can bring her horse up the levels.  Surely a horse no one else ever saw 4* potential in and completely WOW a crowd of people with their presence and shine like stars. Proving to the world that they belong at the top!

They were one of only a small handful of people with a double clear show jumping round and ended their first Rolex experience 19th amidst some famous names.  They, in my eyes, were the true rock stars of Rolex 2014.  I am sure it is not the last we have heard of this dynamic duo!

If you, like me, love the thoroughbred and like to research stuffs like this here is his race record and pedigree.
USEA article about their run at Fair Hill
EN Intercollegiate article
EN Rolex Rookies article
Their XC at Rolex