Saturday, November 7, 2015

Too much of a good thing

I'm trying to recall when it happened.  When it went from, the right thing to do, to, the beginning of all your problems.  You hear it everywhere.  Every trainer says it.  Every book pens it.  Every blog waxes eloquent on the subject.  But is it all it's cracked up to be?  Is it the be all end all?  Of what am I speaking?  Outside rein.

I am dressage dummy.  Always have been. I can ride the shit out of a horse.  But that's because I came out of the womb riding. Rode every kind of horse you can imagine.  Not kidding.  You name it I've ridden it.  Any vice, trick or tactic a horse can pull I've been on that horse and most likely as a dumb kid who knew that the only thing that really matters in the end is that you stay on your horse long enough to get back home.  Because trust me that several mile walk back out of the woods after your horse has dumped you and took off like a blaze of glory, sucks.  I rode the fancy hunters and spent years showing them and spend equal time flying bareback through an open field racing a with a neighbor and her horse.  I can ride the shit out of a damn horse.

What I do lack is finesse, polish.  Where I struggle is the details.  That is where I seek professionals.  It does NOT come natural for me to be a poised, quiet and sensitive rider.  If you need someone to point a horse at a fence, a ditch, a steep ravine with no fear and ride a horse through it with complete confidence, I'm your girl.  But if you want to teach your horse the subtleties and tactfulness that belongs in a dressage ring and show jump arena, well you are barking up the wrong tree.  I think this is the reason I can watch my kids come flying off a horse and I don't even skip a beat barking orders to "hurry and get up before your horse steps on her reins."  Falling is something I figured out the science of very young.  THAT I am good at!  Leg yields, shoulder-ins, half-halts I am not!

In those cases I need very specific step by step instructions.  And more than likely I am going to do a really good job at making look it like I am doing it right but actually royally screwing it up.  Not on purpose of course.  I mean even I make myself  believe I am doing it right.  This is the reason that I need very observant and good instructors.  The run of the mill trainer and I just don't work.  I need someone who can see my bullshit riding style and call me out on it.  Many times over and over before I finally get whatever it is they are trying to get through my thick skull.

This royal screw up I must have been hiding for a very long time.  No one had picked up on it before.  I obliviously have no idea how to ride so I didn't get it.  But I knew the problem that it was causing.  I would tell trainer after trainer what was happening.  Good trainers but no one had spotted my mistake until just a few weeks ago in a lesson with M.  She has earned my loyalty for this and one other huge break through she facilitated but I will cover the other one(equally life changing yet as easy a fix) at a later date.  I have for years now struggled going right.  I had gone through every explanation I could think of.  Steady would bulge his inside shoulder tracking right, especially at the canter.  We could NEVER hold a right lead canter in a dressage test at a show because the added tension is all it took for our Band-Aid method of making it happen to fall apart.  At home we fumble and struggled.  Explanations I explored ranged from, my biomechanics (convinced I was crooked AF and ruining my horse), Steady's biomechanics, he's a career race horse they just don't do right, weakness, pain, soreness (because we all know if all fails blame it on lameness), and even resigning to the fact that my horse is just being a complete effing dick (which makes complete sense that he's 100% willing to do ANYTHING except canter to the right.  Yeah I never said I was smart).  I got pissed at him many times over this because I am really that crappy of a person and I do that sometimes.  You know, have a completely useless, uncalled for reaction toward someone, to a problem that I am causing myself. Yeah, I do that.   We could be having a lovely ride and then it come to cantering right and he pushes through my inside leg, falls in the circle and just pushing his inside shoulder against every aide I can muster up and the whole ride would change to frustration for both of us.

This has gone on for YEARS!  It got to the point that I just knew we would take the points in dressage tests for the lead swapping and lack of bend.  It was just what we do.  So imagine my surprise that when every one of those problems immediately disappeared with one sentence from M.  What was the sentence?  If the dressage police were standing around they surely would have arrested her for saying it and given her the max sentence for such an offense of all that is dressage queen. "Let go of your outside rein."  That's it.  I didn't believe her, being the skeptic that I am but she insisted "let it go".  She even said "I don't usually tell people this but you need to let your outside rein go."  So I did and it was immediate.  My horse unlocked his inside shoulder, stopped drifting, bent right and cantered around to the right BALANCED!  WTF! that goes against everything I've ever read, heard or been told.  Apparently it is very possible to have too much outside rein.  Who fricken knew?  Most likely everyone on earth but me.  Hey I told you I am not good at this shit.  Like really not good.  It is possible to completely block the outside shoulder by abusing the outside rein.  See my non natural riding abilities always told me well if it is inside leg to outside rein then when it isn't working then just do more inside leg and outside rein.  And more and more and more.  It's still not working?  Well my horse is broken. I mean he doesn't work the way the book tells me he must be broken.  It's really quite ridiculous how dumb and by the book I can be when it comes to riding and pretty much everything in life.

Look at the engagement, reach and bend you can get when you aren't ccompletely blocking the the outside shoulder.

I read this definition. "Correct lateral bend engages the inside hip,  causing the inside hind leg to step toward the center of mass."
Yas! Zoom in on that inside hind!

Not much in life is easy.  But fixing that chronic, ongoing, long term problem was really THAT easy.  On one had it's awesome that it was that simple and fast to fix but also equally annoying that it was that easy and took YEARS to figure it out.  If I ever needed any more proof I do not need to be left to my own devices this is it.  Lesson learned. Books are good but my horse is not text book horse and if it's not working listen to my horse.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


This will conclude our marathon show weekend.  The title.  You may wonder what it means.  This fraction represents the number of those of us who did NOT stay on their horse for the the entirety of our rides.  Two-thirds is the fraction of jumps that I remembered how to ride properly like I've learned in my lessons lately. And approximately the number of you who will make it through the entirety of this post.  But honestly I so look forward to coming on here and sharing with you all and reading your comments.  There is nothing more anti climactic then coming off a show high surrounded by all non horse people, who just don't get it.

We will start on a frigid, early Sunday morning in southern Indiana.  We eat our breakfast of what is made to look like breakfast food but tastes more like mushy cardboard that was on our hotel buffet.  Kelcie rode dressage at 8:30 am.  We get her to warm up and I've never seen Penny more naughty.  It even almost looked like she thought about attempting to buck.  Uh this pony does not buck or do anything else naughty.  She is fast as lightening but she isn't naughty.  She obviously opposed being drug from her stall at the Crack of dawn to do dressage.  The extent of my coaching at that point was,  "hold it together,  do the best you can and stay on". Yeah that's all I had.  There just isn't much else you can do when a pony decided to show her ass in dressage warm up.   Thankfully they did just that!  She held it together.  And actually had a decent test for those two.  If Kelcie had actually tried to halt when she was supposed to they would have had a really nice test.  I'm working with her on that but while Penny doesn't do halting Kelcie doesn't even try.  Eh, they'll figure it out one day.  I mean the kid is 9.

Excited anticipation, patiently waiting their turn.
 Show jump for her was next.  They went out and had an adorable to die for round.  It just makes your heart hurt it's so cute.  Up until the very last stride of the very last jump that was right next to the wide open gate.  On approach Penny drifted right and at the last second pulled a, no way pony stunt.  And the kid that has insane balance just couldn't stick it and hit the ground.  I can always immediately tell if my kids are truly hurt when they come off. And I could tell she wasn't hurt physically even though she did slam into the flower box and standard.  But that her pride and her perfectionist expectations were crushed.  after a hug from mom she got back on and went back out and schooled Penny and did it perfectly.  And she was so proud of herself she had a big grin on her tear stained face.  Horses are good for kids I don't care what people say!  Nothing else except a pony would teach a 9 year old those hard but necessary life lessons.  That sometimes you work hard do all the right things and life just kicks you in the ass.  But you know what you do when that happens?  Kick it right back!  That's what she did and she walked away happy and so did I.
K and Penny show jump
next was Elaina And Lilly. They were entered in their first Beginner Novice show. That alone is pretty awesome.  She was the only kid in her division.  I love that she is 12 years old and moving her way up.  Not on a made horse but on her back yard $250 pony that she trained her self.  Anyways,  like Penny, Lilly comes to dressage warm up acting squirrely. And Elaina did what she has been taught and put her to work.  After about 5 minutes of figure 8's she stopped bouncing and started listening.  They went on and knocked out the test.  Kids on ponies=not perfect dressage.  But right now I'm happy with obedient,  steady, accurate and dammit shapes! You can earn a lot of easy points with accuracy and shapes at these levels.   They did just that.  So now I think it's time to step up their dressage game.
E and Lilly Beginner Novice test B

The next hour was, well interesting.  Elaina's jump slot was 12-12:30. I rode dressage at 12:02. So by the time I was finished riding.  Got untacked and made it to warm up to coach her they were calling that there was five minutes left.  I sent her over the cross rail.  Then vertical,  then the oxer.  Lilly had a brain fart at the oxer and thought about stopping.  But she is so willing she still jumped it from a stand. still. Well if you guessed Elaina was the other 1/3 of us that did not stay on. You were right.  E fell. Kinda face planted actually.  I was like are you fine?  Yes. Then hurry up and get back on.  You have like 3 minutes and I can't send you in without getting over this oxer. She jumped back on reapproached and Lilly over jumped it.  They came around one more time and it was nice. So we headed over.  They were awesome but Lilly was obviously pooped out.  The first two jumps were sticky.  Crazy mom from the rail yelled,  "wake that pony up before you jump another jump!"  The second jump of the two stride combination was the dreaded flame jump.  I warned her that I have seen that jump take many victims over the years, by itself.   Let alone it being the second jump in a combo. And wouldn't you know the one rider she saw go had three refusals and DQ'ed on that very jump.  Let me tell you she rode the shit out of it and they did awesome.  I could tell Lilly second guessed it but E caught it quick rode her straight and they got double clear.  They completed their first Beginner Novice!  She was beaming.  I didn't video :( mom/coach/rider brain is my excuse. When we got back to the barn a guy a couple stalls down says,  'you've got some tough kids! " He apparently saw them both hit the ground and both proceed to climb back on and get shit done.  Yep that's just how we Grayson girls roll.  No time for pitty parties when you're bad ass.

Like I said I rode dressage just before all that.  In warm up Steady felt good.  Not his best ever but good.  We walked mostly.  That's our theory in dressage warm up from now on.  It just works for us.  I was watching our competition and they looked fancy.  Aw damn we don't do fancy.  We're just us.  I think I read through my dressage test once. Yeah with everything else going on I forgot that minor detail.  Thankfully these level tests aren't hard to remember for me and I did end up knowing it.  Not confidently but good enough.  The test went pretty good.  I was pleased with it.  Our best?  Nah but not embarrassing.  I was proud of my horse.  He starting to act like a real pro at shows.  Finally!  It's nice.
Amy and Steady Novice Test B
I did get dinged for rider on the right lead canter.  Said I was two point like. and that is quite fair since I was purposely trying to stay off of his back since he had a history of swapping behind in tests.  Hey it worked!  Or his stifle injections did either way I'll take it.

Show jump warm up went great.  He felt really good.  He was listening and jumping lovely.  Thankfully all the courses were the same besides adding in combinations and raising them.  So after coaching two kids I had that down pat. If you know my horse at all you know he has many faults but jumping like a fucking beast is not one of them.  Utilizing the skills my trainer has taught me lately that I need to blog about because they were instantly life changing for us.  We rode the first 2/3rds of the course and it felt amazing.  Best I've ever had.  We had a long spot to jump 1 but still good.  He came back to me in between.  He got a little rushed in between but not bad just something to work on over the winter.  He doesn't look at jumps he just jumps anything in his path.  Jump 6 felt so incredible.  I was relishing the beauty of it in my head.  And compltely blew my concentration.  At the last minute I realized I was about to canter right passed 7 and I made an ass move to save my own  space cadet ass and yanked him left.  Well that was the end of us being connected and fluid.  He was like,  "oh you want to play the old way?  I can do that. " so we pretty much blasted through the last 3 jumps.  Again lots of homework for next year.  But you know what?  Those jumps didn't look that big anymore at 3ft. Which pretty much means training isn't out of the question in our near future.
Amy and Steady Novice show jump

We packed up,  loaded up and went to check scores.  Elaina and Lilly ended up 3rd! I'm sorry not sorry but my kid is amazing.  Compltely surprised knowing who our competition was Steady and I ended 1st! I didn't see any of the final scores but I'm wishing I had because I like to see where we lined up. All I know is that we ended on our dressage score of 28.25%. Not bad I guess.   Haha just kidding I'm not a DQ  that says asholey things like that.  I mean if I'm outta the 40's I think I'm ballin!

Monday, October 26, 2015


Between blogger and YouTube it makes you want to just give up on adding media.  Geesh! I've had this typed up for a week now and have been trying to get videos on here since.  I added links which is the best I can do at this point.

There a going to be a few of you who know how this story ends from Facebook.  For the rest of you I'm going to be a jerk and let you read to the end.  What a whirlwind weekend.  I can tell you though I did live and it was actually completely amazing,  fun and exhausting.  Our family made quite the team.  Everyone chipping in to get the next person to the ring.  Watching, cheering each other on.  Even the hubs was a complete trooper for an entire weekend of eyeball deep horse stuff.  I was actually expecting for this to be stressful and exhausting but I came away feeling incredibly blessed to be privileged enough to not only own horses and get to ride and train but to do it along side my three beautiful children who fur what ever reason choose to love it as much as me.  To get to show myself and also be coach,  show mom and cheerleader for these three.  Getting to spend an entire weekend doing this passion with the loves of my life.  I couldn't have written a better story for my life if I tried.

Saturday at the hunter/jumper show,  the plan was 4 out of the 5 Grayson's(other 1/5 being Ryan of course) were going to show but when it came down to the last class for the girls, rushing to get Steady ready and hope it went well in the hunter ring sounded a lot like hell. So I opted to skip the show and have a nice CT prep ride. I really don't know how to break up this whole weekend into bite size pieces.  But here's my best shot.

Macy (middle child-10) this was her very first show.  She did ground pole hunter division.  It went well,  she had fun.  She is loving riding now which is crazy because 6 months ago she wanted nothing to do with it really.  She came out frustrated from her first class because she did her courtesy circle the wrong way and missed a pole.  Once I saw how serious she was taking it.  I reminded her this was supposed to be fun and no one gets it all right especially their first time.  It seemed to be all she needed to hear because the rest of the time she had a smile on her face.  She even placed in two out of three of her classes.  A 2nd and a 6th. She was finished first and was such a great helper for everyone the rest of the weekend. She had a great first show and now she's hooked.

Next was Kelcie who did the cross rail classes.  I thought Penny was being a little shit for her.  because Kelcie picked up the canter and flew through her rounds at mach 10. They were completely adorable either way.  Come to find out later she tells me,  "I wanted her to go fast so I made her".  Lol, ok. Whatever,  the kid is 9 and having fun jumping her pony.  Can't ask for more then that.  I may be a lot of things but a stage mom I am not.  If they are safe and having fun then that's aok with me.  There is video of the speed hunter round.

you can play in hunters without looking the part. So BOWS!  Ungodly expensive completely worth it. Cause bows!

Kelcie and Penny Pincher Hunter round

Elaina and Lilly finished up our full day on Saturday by looking like a couple of pros out there in the 2'6" division.  Their rounds were pretty much perfect. Not even kidding.  They got every lead had perfect striding.  It was a smooth as buttah.  I couldn't be more proud of these two and how far they've come.  Some of you may not know their whole story
But they have been through it together. When you are 10 years old and break your leg on a horse not too many come back after that much less with that same horse.  But this kid never missed a beat.  Never once wanted to give up on the pony and went and trained her to be the solid horse she is today.  Just watch the videos.  They make me want to do better, be better and get better.   She also ran over and did a 2'9" warm up jumper round for fun and experience.  We only did warm up because we have no interest in rushing Lilly through for time.  That is not a good choice for her training.  But the decorated jumps and jumper turns are great experience.  Not surprisingly they rocked it!  At 12 the kid is growing up to be a lovely,  poised, confident rider. It's a privilege to watch and be a part

Elaina and Lilly hunter round 1

Elaina and Lilly hunter round 2

While the kids fed and cleaned up I went out to ride my beast.  I was displeased with his distracted hyperness.  I decided to get off and lunge and I'm so glad I did.  After I got him listening I got back on and he was a dream.  We popped over a couple jumps and he felt amazing. Now let's just hope this holds for tomorrow.

We tucked in the horses and went back and met Ryan back at the hotel where he retreated mid afternoon to watch the Michigan vs Michigan state game.  We made it back just in time for that tragic ending of that game.  We didn't emerge again until about 6 am Sunday morning.

to be continued...

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Life with horses and kids

Also titled our summer in photos

You hear a knock at the door.  Is this what you expect to see?  It is not out of your reality with kids and horses.

Can you ask for more than being champion of your division at your first show?

You hold your breath and suppress your panic when you see your kid and horse have a moment of miscommunication.  Then help your kid up make sure nothing is broken and tell them to get back on.  It takes nerves of steel.

Then there is this moment.

You watch them figure out life together.

And conquer fear with their partner.

Accomplish things they didn't even believe they could do.

Experience the rush that is cantering a horse through water.

There is just nothing like it.

What is life like with a bunch of kids and a bunch of horses?  Well there isn't much extra money, time or energy but there are tons of smiles, memories and happiness.  That first time you get your diagonal right, or the first jump or the next height.
  It is happiness multiplied!

Thursday, October 8, 2015


I don't really regret much in my life.  I got married by most people's standards young, at 21.  Against my husband's parents strong opinion that I was not the right one for him.  Then didn't wait 3-5 years before having a baby.  I was pregnant 6 months into marriage.  I didn't space out my children to ensure they each got the deserved amount of attention and proceeded to have 3 children in 3 1/2 years.  I ignored a lot of thoughts and advice on all subjects and did my own thing.  And I regret nothing.  I have now been married for almost 14 years. With some tough spots here and there we are still happily married.  My girls are each others best friends and their age closeness has much to do with that.  I did many things "wrong" and regret none of them.  But you know what I am starting to regret?  Is getting my children a pony!  From the time my first daughter was 1 we have had ponies for them.  And now, you know what?  They all freaking love horses.  This I regret.

How can you regret anything that brought you to this moment of joy?
I am kidding of course, mostly.  But it is getting ridiculous.  Children taking over my horse, taking over my show monies.  What is a woman to do?  Most of you who read this blog don't have children and are probably thanking you lucky stars for that fact.  Next time you are at a clinic just having to make sure you bring tack for one horse.  Snacks and drinks for one person.  Money for meals for just you.  You can think of me and say a little prayer.  That maybe just one day I will get to clinic or show or even get my horse back.

Or this feeling of accomplishment?  3ft!

All kidding aside, mostly.  I took Steady for a lameness evaluation and while he tested positive on the right hind in his hock and more so in his stifle none of it was completely awful.  We started the hopefully short but expensive process of seeing if we can figure out why he is dead set on killing me.  We will see.  We can get back to full work Sunday.  We will go for a lesson on Tuesday and see what happens. Wish us luck!

What is there to regret?

I am sending in an entry to a show! Again wish us luck!  Not for placings or anything silly like that but entering a show after the last lesson we had and not being %100 sure this isn't going to continue has me a little unnerved. It is just a schooling CT so it isn't big deal I just want it to be fun.  I plan to head back to my old stomping grounds to Hoosier Horse Park for the Octoberfest charitiy show.  Saturday is a hunter show and Sunday is a CT.  We will be spending the weekend and playing with the Hunters and Jumpers on Saturday, doing CT on Sunday and XC schooling afterward.  I also plan to sign up ALL 4 of us!  I AM freaking crazy!  That is what you do when you have 3 children that all love to ride and so do you.  You just all do it!  I'll let you know if I live.

We will have entries in;
M 10 yr old - Ground pole
K 8 yr old - Cross rail
E 12 yr old - Beginner Novice
Me - Novice

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Don't believe it if you see it.

I took a jump lesson yesterday.  I did a semi-private with E and Lilly.  I of course have no photos.  Too busy mom-ing and horse - ing. But I will explain what the photos would have looked like.  See it would start with a video that I strategically capture the most flattering images.  There would be pics of us flying easily over 3'3" and 3'6" jumps.  A whole course laid out of photo after photo of me in my best position over each jump.   Steady with tight knees and ears forward just swallowing those little jumps.  You would all look at all the pictures and be like "gawd these two are some serious bad asses. They must have killed it.  Look at them make those big ass jumps look like child's play."  I'm serious that's what you'd say if you looked at those photos.

But what the photos, that I surely would take extra time capturing those prefect moments,  won't tell you is that upon landing on several occasion badass horse just turned into Ass and took off flailing and bucking. The photos wouldn't let you hear me screaming curse words very loudly for all within a mile to hear.  Nope that'd be our little secret. Don't get me wrong I may throw a token photo in of us making a funny face or something just to show that we aren't perfect.  But not the ones where I climbed his neck,  got off balance and royally pissed him off that again he takes of bucking.  It doesn't show my trainer repeatedly telling me to stop pulling on him and keep him straight.  The photos don't always tell the whole story so as hard as it may be sometimes don't fall into the comparison trap.  And yes I am saying this to myself right now.  Things aren't always as they seem.  Actually most of the time they aren't at all.

On a good note E and Lilly did great.  Worked on moving lazy pony along. Jumped about 2'9"-2'11". They're adorable.  And E told me she really didn't think I was going to fall off when Steady ran off bucking and I lost my reins. I was like,  "oh good because I thought for sure I was joining the dirt club today." Thankfully I didn't but god damn I'm too old for these shenanigans.  Now I need to hit the drawing board and see if I can't figure out why my super willing horse will jump anything I point him at but if his take off or landing is anything but perfect he flips his shit.  Something seems wrong with this picture.  Effing horses!  I think I need to get into hamsters.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Losing and's kind of the same thing

Twice in a week.  It may be a miracle.

Now to pick a topic.  Since my riding and Steady is pretty much limited to walk/trotting/cantering around in circles, popping over a small jump here or there and going out on trails as much as possible I think I will steer from this topic for the most part.  Pretty much our entire season can be summed up in a few sentences.  The highlights: trails, XC schooling, a few lessons here and there, Pony club camp, XC schooling, him running us into a tree,  almost always steady as a rock, a few moments of ridiculousness like bucking and excitement after walking over a log and his over zealous self on a XC course.  Other than that the horse is as nice as they come.

 So much so that I am a bit jealous that my daughter gets to just happen into this super cool fancy horse that will take her as far as she could possibly want to go in the next few years.  I really do not think she knows how luck she is.  I mean she is grateful but how could she know.  She is a kid. She has no concept of fancy horses.  She just loves horses and that's the extent of it.  They are all amazing in her eyes.  Am I losing my horse or am I winning as a Mother?  Or maybe both?

She gets on my horse and they look like a matched pair.  I may have to start handing off teaching duty to someone else because my anxiety with those two going XC might just send me to my grave.  Though for as many antics as that pony has pulled on her I have no doubt she can handle Steady.  She is sad that all that work she is putting into that pony and she has to give her up.  I try explaining that it is exactly how I feel but it is just the facts of life right now.  While her ridiculous height will come in handy in many things in life, pony riding will never be realistic.

How is that pony and E doing?  Oh my they are the bomb diggity( I don't think that is still a thing people say but I did it anyways).  They have turned into a fabulous pair.  They just completed Pony Club D rally which is the equivalent of eventing in Pony Club.  They have different levels depending on the individuals tested level of riding.  Her division is right about Beginner Novice.

Their dressage is a work in progress but they put out a steady and obedient test.  There could be better bend and more connection in areas but still they are solid at the level they are at.  Dressaging is hard for the pony.  Jumping on the other hand comes easy for her.  You would never think the way she is built but really she is just a natural and always has been at going over all the things.

   Let me tell you walking the courses with her I was like, "aw hell this is fo realzy" but a coach can't let on that is actually going through their head.  They gave these kids a solid stadium and XC course. I knew there wasn't going to be very many "gimme fences".  And she'd need to ride every stride.  I have been kicking myself ever since that I did not video their stadium round because OH MY holy crap, it was beautiful.  Like the stuff of dreams.  That every rider wants to have.  The course is on a hill so there is terrain and the course involved.  That kid made every right decision on that course and it was executed perfectly.  I'm not joking.  Everyone stuck around to watch the Haflinger stumble through the course because she was the last to go and every single pair struggled.  Some with several refusals and even one retired on course.  When those two got done I think everyone simultaneously had to pick their jaw up off of the floor.  Everyone was in awe of how awesome they looked.  We got many complements and comments on them after that.  No one saw them coming.  It was pretty freaking cool.

Cross Country- again solid challenging course. 12 jumps and 4 1/2 minutes was optimum time.  I didn't know how pony would handle everything.  This was their first real Cross run.  Was she fit enough?  Brave enough?  Well Yes and Yes.  They SAILED through the course.
Not a great photo but this is them sailing...

 I was admittedly not completely confident.  Trust me when your child is out there you can think of every single thing that could possibly go wrong.  There was only on question that caught the pony off guard and they did end up with 1 refusal because of it.  It was an honest blip for the both of them and honestly I did NOT love the jump at all.  After they completed several jumps winding through a small open area they turn past the edge of corn field and just 30 feet or so there as a jump pushed right up against the corn.  You really could not see the jump until you were on top of it and horses don't love the idea of running right along the corn.  Then to top it off the jump was narrow. like maybe 8 ft across then add how close it was to the corn there was really only 6ft of jump.  Maybe.  It was a recipe for a run out.  And that is exactly what happened.  She re-approached and jumped it no problem it was just a non friendly jump all together.  The hilarious part is that Lilly screamed and hollered the entire course.  Something we must work on but she still was completely capable to do her job.  Jumping, barrels, logs, a bank, coops, rolltops, ,pheasant feeders all while screaming at the top of her lungs.  I think the biggest think with these Haffies are that they are too smart for their own good.  Most horses it is enough for their brain to deal with a cross country course and if they are distracted then it means they loose focus on their job and have a bad run.  Haffy?  Nope they can be completely focused on their rider, the jump in front of them AND wondering where all their friends went.  Seriously its crazy. 

But we love that pony to death.  My daughter has been to hell and back with that pony and she would rather cut off her right arm than  live without her.  They ended up winning their division!  While I think that is a pretty cool thing to walk away with the first place medal more than anything else those two both walked away with more confidence and pride than anyone can imagine.  They had nothing handed to them, ever.  They had every reason to give up and don't think the thought didn't cross my mind.  But it never crossed the kids mind.  They just went about it the good old fashioned way of a whole lot of hard work.  Many bumps along the way and just never giving up.  Now you haven't seen the last of these two, they still have goals and things to accomplish but this marks a big milestone in their journey and I just feel privileged to be able to watch it all unfold in front of me.

And to see your offspring on a XC course and know the adrenaline and excitement in their soul in those few moments, there is nothing on earth like it.  It is like you are out there with them and riding every jump.

Kelcie and Penny also did D Rally.  At their level they only do dressage and stadium.  She would have loved to do cross country but she also is perfectly happy not going for  higher certification just yet.  The did fabulous on their dressage test. She did go off pattern at the free walk but otherwise had a great test.  Then they too sailed through their stadium round.  They only did itty bitty cross rail and the course was super simple.  It was great confidence booster for her.  She also got first in her division of 5 little riders.   So proud.  She takes everything quite seriously and gives everything she does %100 though she does not have the unwavering confidence that her big sister has so I have learned to tread lightly and let her go at her own pace.  If I push too much it may just push her backwards.  It is a delicate balance.  But that was only one of her many accolades from the weekend...but that will be for another post.....

BTW If you have kids or if you are thinking of having any in the future just enroll them in Pony Club now.  You won't regret it!  Go Pony Club!