Sunday, October 30, 2011

Changing it up, 3 Foot video I promised and blogger is a PITA!

I am LOVING the fall!  It has been such a great fall and though I know it will come to an end soon I am trying to enjoy every last minute.  Not having competition or clinics or what not on the horizon it has relieved some pressure of completely focusing on Steady.  I have been itching to get out and drive the mini's.  We have two mini's both great at pulling a cart but sometimes we get so caught up in riding that driving gets neglected.  Having all the fields around us harvested I saw an opportunity to take a nice fall drive with the girls.  We took Snappy cause that boy is one tough ass mini and I knew he would have no problem hauling our butts through bumpy fields even in his out of shape state.  The girls and I harnessed him up and got on.  One girl on each side of me and the littlest one on my lap(our normal family driving spots).  We drove about 1 1/2 miles and Snappy was not hurting for gas, that boy can go.  He did fairly well considering I can't even remember the last time he has been driven.  Maybe spring, or maybe last year??  He is definitely not a beginner horse and takes an experienced driver but with an experienced person he is a fun horse.  He only balked at the miniature poodle about 50 ft from us.  He was sure he was a horse eating poodle and would not take his eye off of him.  He HATES dogs and has every right to but I will not go into that story now.  We had a lovely ride out through our field across the street then down the road a little to another field and back again.  Beautiful day, great time with my daughters and fun with horses what more can you ask for.  I didn't get any driving pictures as I was the driver and it was neccissary for me to keep both hands on the lines at all times with the fiesty bugger but here are some cute sweaty mini after shots.

I rode yesterday and today.  Both nice rides.  Steady was very UP both days and he was having moments of flipping me the bird while hauling ass in the direction of the pasture with the other horses.  But he is a horse and well what can you do.  I look at it as, this too shall pass and am not too worried about it.  The rest the ride besides his f'u' moments are quite lovely with his upness(that is not a word but its all I got) he is giving me some beautiful dressage movements.  Some great moments of rounded back cantering through and right into the contact.  Nice leg yields at the trot and turns on the forehand at the walk.  I even got a nice walk/canter transition when I asked.  NICE!  So over all I am happy.  Also in attempt to post that video of him jumping 3 ft as I promised I also jumped.  I talked my husband into coming out and video taping some of our jumps.  I am kinda disappointed with his effort but he was out there doing it so I cannot complain.

If you care to watch Steady and I jump 3 ft here are some videos.  I debated and decided to post the good the bad and the ugly.  I mean we need to keep it real, right?  Though it really bothers me to watch myself screw up on tape especially when it is at the expense of my horse.  It frustrates me beyond words to see my mistakes interfere with his ability to jump.  But we are where we are and make no claims of being perfect so it is what it is.  The only way I can improve is to first see the flaws, next acknowlege them and then make the needed steps to improve in it.  And video's are a great way to see the flaws.
Over all the Pros are; My leg is kick ass! Doesn't budge always forwad and never slides back=safe safe safe. My release is improved and my had are going forward to release. I pretty much am in great balance after take off. Steady is just kick ass. He is point, shot and jump and is so fun! Overall Cons; Oh man pull up a chair...Ugh I struggle too much with climbing up his neck at take off. I throw my upper body too far forward and Peter would be scolding me. I am jumping with way too short of reins and too often I see my arms straight out trying to release and still pulling on his mouth more than I would like to see. There are some times I hold him off the jumps and couple times it makes him take an insanely long spot. Steady's Cons too strong. I can pretty much regulate his strength before the jump because I will not take a jump he is hauling ass to but upon landing he can get carried away.

#1 at 2'9" Throwing myself at his neck at the base of the jump.

#2 at 2'9" Improved and did not throw myself at his neck but reins are too short and I believe the cause of hitting the pole behind.

#3 at 2'9" Not pretty. I am holding him off and send a bad signal by leaning forward both resulting in a long spot.

#4 at 2'9" Peter would be happy with my upper body :) I am very happy with my position on the jump. Every thing is great except my reins should be longer...grr.

#1 at 3 ft Taking that long spot resulting in the down rail.   I was probably holding him off so I am sure it was my fault.  But if I had given him his head a bit more and not had my reins so damn short I believe he could have salvaged it.

#2 at 3 ft Ugh throwing myself at his neck...poor guy.

#3 at 3 ft I can't complain here I am happy with this! Well longer reins would be good but we can pretty much just put that as a general rule on these videos and I can stop mentioning it ;) But will be worked on! But we will end on a good note. See it is not all sushine and roses. Never is with horses but it is always a challange. We had some good and not so good things and now we know where we, as in I need to work and that is why we school.
Tomorrow Sara Ivie the local County Saddle rep (also a certified saddler by the Master Saddler Acc. and a good reputation)is coming out to evaluate(try to sell my cheap ass a saddle) but I am looking to pretty much gain knowledge.  She contacted me out of the blue and said she was going to be out my way.  And just a couple weeks ago I noticed some white hairs coming through on Steady's back behind his withers.  I started really studying his back after that and the GREAT news is he is officially not hollow behind the withers anymore.  After a year and a half he has finally started to build some muscule on his back.  The BAD news is that is going to cause for some adjusting when it comes to the saddle again(rolls eyes).  But I am not all that upset over the ordeal because he does not seem sore.  I figure we can just work to remedy the problem until we find a fix. But then Sara contacting me I felt was a sign that now would be a great time to have him fit since his body is finally starting to change for the better and not in that weird, need to build muscule-I know it's going to change-why find a perfect fitting saddle phase anymore!!!  Yay!!!  I am really looking forward to it!

Lastly, and if you made it this far I am impressed.  Blogger is pissing me off!  There I said it, I have been holding that in and it felt good to get it out.  WTH is wrong with blogger?  I cannot comment on half the blogs I love and follow and this has been going on for months now.  And the ones I can I have to go about it in the most annoying not simple way ever.  It bugs the heck out of me because I love to comment on my most favoritest blogs.  Then the last two posts blogger says not one person has read them.  Now I wouldn't blame anyone for not reading my rants well written thoughts but it also says that people are coming to my page but no one is reading any posts?  I just think it is weird.  No readers no comments nothing.  I am guessing it is a blogger issue and not just that I some how pissed everyone off and no one is readin anymore.  Or at least I hope thats not the case.  Grrrr I hate blogger.  Is anyone else having these problems?  And if so have you been able to fix any of them?  Sorry to end on a bad note.  At least the first 3/4 of the post was positive :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Some cool news and cow cutting!!

It started out with a phone call yesterday to a lady down the road that owns a barn.  I have spoken to her before but I never really understood her.  She owns probably a 40 stall barn, with a nice indoor arena but has a couple boarders and has no interest in getting any more.  She does next to nothing at the barn except clean stalls and feed cause she owns a salon in the next town over. To me there is a ton of potential that she is just wasting.  Anyways I called her up to inquire if she would be willing to allow me to use her indoor arena in inclimate weather.  Weather that sadly will be upon us shortly.  She told me I should talk to her new boyfriend.  That he is starting to take over stuff at the barn. 

Today I get a call from Jim, the boyfriend, and he says, "how bout you come on out and talk to me?"  I said great and the kids and I piled in the truck and drove the 1/2 mile down the road to the farm.  We talked for a while and he seemed like he would be willing to let me use the indoor.  YAY!!  That will be great for this winter!!!  So I am super excited about that.  I didn't ask yet if I can bring some jump standards down but hopefully they won't mind.  It will be great to not have to depend 100% weather and even better that my riding is not dictated by the footing.  As soon as the weather turns to snow I usually confined to only walk trot because I will not risk cantering and slipping on slippery footing.  And at that point jumping is way out of the question.  So this would make a huge difference for us.

We continue talking for a while and he says some of his buddies are coming out to do some cutting and roping.  I perked up and said I would love to come by and watch with the kids.  I have never seen any of that in person before and I thought it would be so cool to watch but of course I thought it would be even more cool to do.  So the girls and I came back about an hour later and the driveway was filled with trailers.  We walk into the arena and there 6 or 7 horses 20 people and about 10 calves and cow.  Oh and dust!  He didn't water the arena so to say it was dusty is an understatement, I am still coughing 6 hours later.  As soon as I walk up Jim says, "you want to go git yourself a cow?"  I said heck yeah and he let me ride his horse and gave me a couple words of advice and sent me in.  I had not a clue what I was doing but I sure as heck had fun trying.  I cut a few calves away but I wasn't real successful in keeping them away. Then a lady asked my girls if they wanted to ride one of her horses and of course they are just like their Mama and couldn't turn an offer like that down.  Once on she tells her that she can go right into the cows with him that he won't care.  I told her to ride him around few times and she could go try.   I took her up there and kinda told her what she was supposed to do and she walked through the cows a few times.  I go to the other end of the arena and was talking.  Next thing you know she has got a calf separated!!  Dang girl you are putting your Mama to shame!  She kept at it until I went and pulled her away after about 20 minutes.  Cause I felt sorry for the poor old horse she was riding.  It was an awesome experience and one I and my daughter will not soon forget.  My Daughter was absolutely adorable.  She was so stinking excited afterwards and says, "Mom I never thought I would be able to do something like that!!"

My wheels are turning now to take Steady out and introduce him to the cows.  I love the idea of making him versitile and well rounded.  I figure the better exposed to crazy things he is the safer he will be on a XC course right?  And if you have ever seen the amazing movie Buck(if you haven't you need to.  Its on netflix) there is a dressage rider on there that does the cow cutting with her very well trained dressage horses.  She says they have to do alot of dressage movements in cutting and it gives them a reason and purpose in their work.  They see a reason behind the things she is asking.  Now that is a cool concept.  They get together every Friday and I have a feeling it won't be last time you hear about me going cattle cutting.  And next time I will be better prepared with a video camera and such.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Peter Atkins; The skinny on the skinny.

Video #4

"You cannot steer to a skinny."  "You do not steer straight you ride them straight."  All things that Lee Ann emphisised to me in my XC lesson.  Great mind think alike!  And definitely something I need repeated to me on a regular basis until I change my long time bad habits of steering.  Steady and I have been spending time galloping in the open field with my had planted at his neck and me steering with my body instead of my hands.  It is such a cool thing and it works.  Unfortunately I too often revert back to steering wheel hands.  And so we keep practicing.  I captioned this video, 'Dorie and Junior get put in timeout'.  It cracks me up when Peter says, "Nope, timeout!"  to Dorie.  Dorie is my friend for whom I was video taping the lesson and you I am sure have seen how awesome her and her very young horse Jr. are at XC.  They are just fun to watch! 

Video #5
"Longer reins and kick them to the jump."  It is so cool to watch a lesson with someone like Peter because you get to immediately see his teaching work.  Another thing that he is adament about it to "never beat a worried horse", and don't punish a horse for your mistakes i.e. looking at the jump, not riding straight, not kicking them to the jump. By beat he means use a whip on them.  I think that is facinating because I have seen many a trainer utilize the whip in situations where horses refuse out of worry and/or rider error.  But I have never seen Peter ever tell someone to whip their horse over a jump.  Along that same line you will hear throughout all of his teaching how important the horse is to him.  He truely cares about the horses and that is a huge factor in my respect for him.

"Do you all feel how effective your eyes are? They look where you look."  This is facinating.  Horse are AMAZING creatures.  To think just the movement of your eye can effect them so greatly, wow! Something he emphisized big time in a later video.

"Kicking the front end where you want them to go.  The back end is going to follow."  "Activating the front end with a soft rein.  They'll keep going and jumping"  GOOD STUFF!

Video #6

Treat a skinny like any other jump.  Your horse only jumps 2'6" width of any jump so it is no different than any other jump if the jump is wider than 2'6".

Video #7

Video #8

Video #9
I appologize in advance about this video.  It is hard to watch because I am running after Peter to keep up and trying to get all the jumps in.  I used the video stabalizing tool on youtube to try to make it a little easier on the eyes.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Just another day with Amy. Oh yeah and Peter too!!

I am not sure if Karen will ever agree to be a passenger in a vehicle that I am driving again.  I may have traumatized her for life.  First of all I get so excited when she gets into the vehicle I proceed to get on a highway that I am not even supposed to be on going in completely the wrong direction.  Then when trying to turn around the construction made that next to impossible.  My husband was in disbelief how I could have possibly gone the direction I did.  I have no good excuse except it was too early and I was too excited to think straight.  On the way down we had many conversations.  One being about how long it has been since I have gotten a ticket.  That should have been a sign.  About 2 hours into our trip we are sitting at a stop light, as soon as I start to pull away I hear  a siren behind me and lo and behold I was getting pulled over.  After pretty much looking like a complete blond by not knowing how to put down the window in my husband's car and insisting to Karen to get the registration out of the non existent glove box.  The officer sends me off with a warning and "slow down young lady".  Sorry Karen I think my inappropriate comments will be left between you and me ;).  Trust me, me, cops and inappropriateness go way back.  I will have to save that story for our next adventure!

Now onto Peter.  As the trainer personally responsible for making me an incredibly better rider than I ever was I of course have mad love for the man.  He went over many of the same things I had heard at event camp but there were definitely some great new information that really got my wheels turning.  I spent one entire lesson feeling like the creepiest stalker girl, ever.  I did my best to always stay two steps behind him at all times.  Which I am sure is probably completely annoying to someone but I wanted to make sure I was getting all his lesson including everything he was saying on tape.  And trust me keeping up with Peter is a challenge in and of itself.  He is a quick little bugger!  Many times I was shamelessly running after him to keep up.  He is sneaky too.  Before you know it is 50 ft away and I swear he was standing right next to me a second ago.  So off I trot...

Watch the lesson.  There is such great information in each video.  Here is video 1 and 2.

Video 1 is warming up.  Peterisms: Canter backwards with your hips.  A strange and confusing statement but once you get the feel of what he means it is a great thing.  His point was if you are cantering forward with your body you are setting the pace.  In turn pushing your horse to a jump and picking the take off spot.  He says you should let your horse do his job and find his own spot and let him set the pace with you cantering backwards with your hips to keep his pace steady and rhythmic. 

Something that I picked up is don't hold your horse off a jump.  The last 3 or 4 strides you have to give your horse his head and let him jump.  If we haven't done our job up until those last few strides then that is when we set them up to fail.  But we cannot try to fix it the last few strides.  If we hold them off a jump we are going to make them take a long spot.  Food for thought.

Video 2
In any given lesson by Peter there are somethings you will hear every time.  Things that he obviously feels are very important.  And safety is his #1 concern.  "The Peter Position" as one rider called it is when jumping, your legs forward, heals planted in front of the girth, toes out, hips in front of your shoulders, longer reins than typically thought and longer stirrups than typically thought, belly button in front of your boobs(his words not mine), look up, kick up, stand up.  And there you have it.  He advocates being behind the horses movement slightly.  This is mentioned when he asked 'Popping Sara' if being perfectly in balance is where she should be.  That is a tricky question.  I too would have confidently answered, yes.  But he says no perfectly in balance when something goes wrong, you go forward and that is dangerous...hmmm...very good point, right?  I would have to say I have never felt safer jumping than I have in 'the Peter Position.

Video 3 Peter speaking

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Steady says, 3 ft? Psssh...

I thought after what we jumped xc schooling a couple weeks ago that Steady and I moving up in height in jumps might be my issue not his.   Don't get me wrong I purposely started him slowly into jumping when training him and getting him fit.  But he proved to me that height isn't even kind of an issue for him.  So I decided in our ride yesterday to go ahead and grow a pair and raise the jump to 3 ft and see if my guess that height isn't an issue for the guy was right.  And guess what?  It was no big deal.  It was just another jump.  I know I could have easily moved it up to 3'3" and he would sail over it just the same.  Then I got scared because people repeatedly tell me that Novice is in our near future and I ignore that comment right after I say, "ha, have you see those jumps?"

I think Steady is way more of a horse than I ever anticipated.  And I have wondered what he could become if someone who really knew what they were doing had him.  I by no means feel he is being cheated by being with me.  Actually quite the contrary.  With me he has a fantastic balance of pasture puff/trail king/eventing pony and what more could a horse ask for so I know the guy has it good.  I guess I just imagine huge things for him if he was in more capable hands.  I KNOW he has the heart and he is quickly proving he has the capability and the durability.

I do think though that most people would have passed Steady Smiler by with not even a second thought when horse shopping.  I have read MANY a blog of those horse hunting.  Most people are smart and wise and know what they do and don't want when it comes to what they are looking for.  But really in the end do you have any better chance of a great outcome than someone who rescued a less than appealing horse/breed/age/conformation? 

I guess I would have to answer that with a hesitant, yes?  Just because of what I have seen and mostly because of what Steady has proven to me.  How many people would have passed him by?  I dare say alot!  First he is an OTTB so that is one strike against him right?  or is it.  Then he actually raced.  Strike 2.  Then not only did he race but he raced for a looooong time. In training before two I am sure and on the track at 2 until 10.  So nearly 9 years on the track.  Strike 3 and 4.  So that makes him an old guy.  Maybe not necessarily in age but you would have to think physically old.  Strike 5.  Well for most on a horse hunt he would have been out 2 strikes ago. 

So to those out searching for that perfect athletic specimen I am not advocating throwing your list of pre-requisites out the window.  I am merely suggesting that sometimes going with your heart/gut might trump the list.  Because sometimes behind that scraggly, skinny horse with an almost disconnected personality might have inside of them the heart of a champion that he wants more than anything to give to someone that he knows he can trust with it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I was gonna go ride but now it must wait.

I was planning to go out and ride a few moments ago and when I looked out my window and saw this I knew my riding must wait. Steady the faithful herd leader rarely ever lays down and takes a nap. He will if he is in a stall but out in the feild with the other horses I have seen him lay down maybe 4 times. The first time I completely freaked and thought for sure he was colicking. Then felt terrible when I realized I just disturbed is rest. Today I will let him have his time sun bathing before I make my way out for a ride on this beautiful fall day.

This will be his first day back to work since Octoberfest. He had a nice long break for the last week and a half. I have been on him once for a mostly walking hack through the field as a lead for a lesson girl. Other than that he has had no work. Between the rain and cold, then being gone all weekend then getting sick right after returning there has been little time to ride and the guy deserves a break after trying his heart out for me at Octoberfest.  So get your rest my friend you deserve it.

Todays plan for the ride will be just getting him loosened up laterally, some jumping and a gallop through the field.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Guinea pigs and haffies.

We have all been watching the news late at night and some story comes on about some mother or father that, duct taped their child to a bed or beat them or even or some other wackiness that is out there these days.  Any human being is allowed the freedom to reproduce whether they have any buisness raising another human or not.  But truth is most parents are good, hard working, well intending people.  Doing the best they can with what they have and know.  They love their children and want the best for them.  Even the best people have raised some loser children.  When you have a baby they don't send you home with an owners manual.  You aren't given lessons on how to raise a healthy, well adjusted child.  You are sent home with a human life in your hands and it is pretty much learn on the fly.  So in all reality no matter how prepared you think you are and how many books you have read or how good your intentions your first child is just a guinea pig.  Though you are at a great advantage if you taught by example in your life.  When it comes down to it the first one, you don't have a clue, though you can read books, ask people for advice and even have some fantastic role models but at the end of the day it is you who is responsible for making every decision and you are equally responsible for the consequences.

Likewise any old idiot can own a horse.  Here is one video that proves that fact.

 .Any old idiot can own a horse and there are those that are cruel and evil people.  But alot or dare I say most horse owners are good well intending people that love horses and just want to have them a part of their lives.  But for one reason or another it is not too long before they have a disaster on thier hands.  They may want the best for their horse.   They may try their hardest but if they aren't educated correctly or have ever had hands on experience the whole situation can go south quickly.

Thankfully in my up bringing I had instilled in me proper basic horsemanship and horse ownership.  but even still diving head first into an entirely new dicipline as a re-riding adult put a whole new element to the situation.  Then add onto that that I had never personally trained a horse from square one.  I had worked with problem horses and even successfully in some cases.  But training from ground up I had never done.  One big thing I have learned and practice on a regular basis is that good horseownership does not mean you have all the right answers or do all the right things but it is having the wsidom that when you don't know the answer to a problem when you need to go and find some help.  It is more about being willing to be taught than it is to be perfectly educated and already know 'everything'.  You need to be teachable, flexible, patient  with your horse and yourself and above all you need to trust your gut.

Trusting my gut was probably the hardest thing for me to do.  It is hard when you are with a trainer who is suppossed to know more than you to stand up for your horse and stand your ground but I now know it is essential to trust that feeling in my gut and to never feel bad for standing up for my horse.  After all he gives me everthing he has it is the least I can do.

So like my first child was somewhat of a guinea pig in my parenting abilities so also was Steady my guinea pig in my abilities as a horse trainer.  Thankfully he too has been a patient and forgiving horse because I have made many mistakes and too many time not trusted my gut.  We have grown together and I couldn't have asked for a better horse to deal with me and my mistakes.

All that to say that I again am planning to try my hand at training a horse from the ground up.  This time it will be with a young untrained haflinger.  I don't know if any of my early readers remember Lily the haffy my dad bought from a friend of mine.  I know the life this baby has had and I am very grateful for that.  She came to me as a completely untrained 2 year old.  The previous owners had not done any training with her but had turned her into a sweet and friendly horse.  I had her for nearly a year and got her first halter broke, then taught her to lunge, by the time she was almost 3 I had ridden her undersaddle about 3 times only to give her the ground work for saddling and riding. I was very proud of the progress she had made and what a calm level headed horse she had turned out to be.  I then had to give her to may dad because I could not justify paying to feed a horse that I didn't need any more.  Since then I have been saddened at the idea of all the potential this little mare had and that I feared would be completely wasted.

During a recent trip to my parents I decided to see what Lily remembered.  It had been a year since anyone had done anything except feed the mare.  So I would have been happy if I were able to get on with out her throwing a fit.  I not only got on but also rode her around my parent property that was buzzing with business that day.  We went within 30 ft of a roaring bonfire with about 20 ft flames.  She was confronted with nearly 10 children running up to her, a few were riding razor scooters all around us one had a large ball that he thew and it proceeded to roll, hit her in the legs and her response was to put her head down and try to pick up the ball with her teeth.  We then rode around the patrures where her herd mates of 4 high strunk thoroughbreds raced and galloped wildly past us over and over again.  She had just one moment of 'shit I am going back to the barn' spin when confronted with the raging bonfire.  I quickly got her turned back and moving forward with little issue.  When the horses were galloping that mad she was a little 'up' but was easily held back and we just walked.  We went through woods where she had to step over logs and branches and where I had to lay on her neck to avoid branches.  Needless to say she exceeded my expectations and handled all of it in such good minded strides.  I then gave about an hours worth of pony rides on her with not a bad step.  We were walking around my brother in laws back yard with all those children I spoke of earlier running around and jumping on the trampoline.  She amazed me and I was so proud of her.

That started my mind and heart once again saddened that this little ponies potential will never be attained hanging out in the pasture at my dads house the rest of her life.  So I have come to the decision that Lily will be coming to our farm next spring!  I have great plans for her.  I plan to start her under saddle and have hopes that by  next fall she will be my daughters pony club pony.  With my end goal having her competing in eventing and with in the next year or two have her as my daughters event pony!!  I am excited about all of the training and experience I will giving her.   I see next summer/fall  season me taking both Lily and Steady to a few a events.  And best of all lucky for Lily I got out alot of my big mistakes out on Steady so she has that much better of a future ahead of her!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Jockey club - thoroughbred incentive program, T.I.P

First off I am happy to announce the sun is shining and is here to stay all weekend!  I am officially out of my funk and it is going to be a GREAT weekend!  It will involve fixing stalls, pony club, my buddy Karen and PETER ATKIN's!!!  Waaa hoo!

In other news:
I saw this on facebook the other day and was planning to post about it, but Eventing Nation beat me to and it and did a better job than I could have.  I highly recommend heading over there and reading about it.  I'd say it is about time the jockey club did something like this.  If you are involved in organizing any shows this is a great opportunity.  Along with the other two scholarships they offer.  Check it out!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What goes up must come down, dangit.

I knew the high had to come to an end at some point.  I guess that means it might be time to unload my crap from my truck.  Yeah it is Thursday and I still haven't unpacked.  It has rained for 3 days straight and been in the 40's.  I have had the horses in most of the time except an hour here and there when the rain stops.  I don't want them to be cold but after going out this morning and seeing what they did, I say screw it if they want to be so damn destructive then they can freeze their asses off.  The have started eating wood over the last few weeks and started with my board fence in the pasture and frankly I felt like shish kabobing them.  Well now they decided that eating their stalls would be fun.  I went out this morning and they had eaten/torn up 3 board of their stall.  Steady and Moonlight have a shared wall.  My guess is they were both having at it, to do that much damage over night.  Now I have about a 3 and half foot wall between them and Moonlight has his fat head over the wall eating Steady's hay.  The rain is not supposed to stop until tomorrow but they are going to just have to deal with it.  It is their own damn fault and I don't have time or money to go out today and get materials to fix it.  Not to mention how pissed my husband is going to be that MY horses have destroyed something that will make him spend more if HIS money.  UGH, not a good day so far.

Not to mention the house is a mess and I could care less about cleaning it.  Then I found an old riding buddy on facebook and after looking at her page I just feel shitty.  It is silly, I know, but sometimes it is reality that I have a temporary pity party.  She appears to have the perfect life, she is gorgeous, had a career in show jumping training, until she recently got married and then moved to Australia.  I am sooo happy for her and she is such a genuinely sweet person and I would expect nothing less in her life.  And she deserves it.  But it did make me feel like my life of overwhelming responsibility at times seem to be not as glamorous.  Ok done with that.  I know it is not reality and I do love my life and that it probably has way more to do with this unrelenting rain putting me in a crappy mood.

In other less self loathing news.  Elaina and Macy are both riding in their very first pony club games clinic this Saturday!  I am super excited and so are they.  I found this laying around the other day.  It was written by my 8 year old and I thought it was so cute and proof of how special this is to her.

Art work courtesy of my 6 year old Macy.  I find pictures like this littered all around my entire house at all times.  Very much contributing that mess that I spoke of.

Then Sunday the Dangerous Duo(me and Karen) meet up again to audit the Peter Atkin's cross country clinic!  Go Henny Go!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Getting back to my roots. Going hunter/jumper for the day!

Having trained and shown for nearly 10 years in the hunter/jumper world as kid I was amazed on how little I remembered about all of it.  I think I must have asked a million questions to the helpful lady running the show and Karen.  It was strange having such an extensive history in hunter/jumpers yet I felt like I was brand new at it.  The whole thing was such a big learning experience.

Saturday evening, sitting at Cracker Barrel with Karen and filling my tummy with the first meal of the day at about 8:30pm and realizing that not only are my lips chapped to the point that they feel like I have lizard lips but my face is windburnt and chapped.  The things you don't notice when you are out riding a horse and having the time of your life are simple self preservation things like eating, drinking and wearing chapstick.  We were pondering the showbill for the next day.  They have the regular show jumping and hunter classes from ground rails to 4 ft.  They also have the Seabiscuit Medal class which is specifically for new career ex-racers!  How fun!  Now I didn't know if Steady and I could remotely appear to be proper hunters, no actually I knew we couldn't be proper hunters but I was hoping maybe we could pretend for a few moments.  So I decided on the beginner 2' jumper division, the Seabuiscut Medal which is 2' hunter class and a hunter equitation on the flat.  Karen and I were both doing all of the same classes except the Seabuiscut obiviously since Hampton is not a race horse :).  So tensions were high to kick Karen's butt!!!
affixing the days winnings!

Hahaha ok we didn't really give a rats ass but it was fun to joke.  Her and Hampton were really pushing themselves to enter the 2' division since Mr. Weekapaug has not had barely any jumping experience but he is SUCH a good boy and showed it that day.  So we headed back to HHP and get tucked into bed and next thing I remember it is 7 am.  I was so exhausted I had a great nights sleep and all the annoying loud horses had gone home the after the CT so it helped that the barn was quiet.  It was time to feed and go sign up for classes.  Since hunter/jumper shows are run SO differently than events I was kinda panicked that I would not be warmed up and ready for my classes.  I tacked up and got on and went over to look at the jumper courses.  The next thing to go through my head was, WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING!  The courses looked confusing and I didn't just have to learn one but 4!!  Luckily there were enough people doing the same course I got to watch people go until I felt comfortable with my first course.  We went in and Steady jumped around that course like it was nothing.  I went in WAY more confident than the day before especially since the jumps were lower.  But I didn't want to go higher since I knew he was tired and we had no reason to push ourselves.  It was all new to us.  I had no idea if I was close to the optimum time which was 68 seconds but we had a blast.  We had a great rhythm, with great turns and beautiful jumps I couldn't ask for more.  I could tell from the first jump that I was riding better than I had the day before.  It had everything to do with my confidence level.  I just went in the determined and focused and OH the difference that made in my horse.  HUGE lesson learned; Believe we are going to kill it and go in and ride it like I mean it and my horse will jump it like he means it.

Next task was to learn the next course for the division AND the jump off course because if you jump your round clean you immediately have to do the jump off round.  I felt as if my poor little brain might just explode.  I got to watch a few people go and then Karen and I just decided it was now or never so got in line to go.  Once again, 'old pro' Steady nailed it all.  So it was straight to the jump off course and I got a little braver and decided that maybe we will push our speed a little to see if we could be contenders for the class.  (Jump off winner- who gets around the course clean and fastest).  We took a faster pace but still in a rhythm, we took shorter turns and I pushed him fast past the finish line.  It felt AWESOME!!  It was so fun and at this point I am so proud of my horse there are no words. 

I then made my way over to the hunter ring to see when our Medal class was and found out there were only 3 rides in front of me so no break but enough time that Karen made it out to watch.  Hunters are looking for a completely different thing than jumpers and having just asked my horse to fly around a jumper course I figured it could possibly be a train wreck when I asked him to take a slooow steady canter pace around a hunter course.  The nice thing though is hunter courses are SO easy to remember because they make them so straight forward and simple.  Straight lines, easy turns and flowing courses, nice!  But they do also judge things that jumpers don't really care about, like how a horse carries them self, straight neck, head low, nose out, slow steady gaits, correct leads, obedience things like that.  I would say Steady really aced the course.  The only part that wasn't all that pretty is I was to bring him down to a trot between jump 2 and 3 which was only about 5 strides from each other on a turn.  He was a bit annoyed when I asked him to transition to a trot and didn't really get what I was wanting but about 2 strides away he did go down to a trot the popped over the jump and back to a canter like he was supposed to.  So he did it, it just could have been prettier.  But the rest of the course was beautifully done.  He got leads correct, strides correct and just did it like he's done it his whole life.  Once again overflowing with pride!

The last class was the equitation class.  Flat classes in an arena are NOT our thing.  I am sure if we spent any amount of time practicing for them we would do great but we don't so it is what it is.  We did fine but we are not hunters and I really don't even know what they are looking for so we did the best we could.  The only thing wrong that I could see we did was he picked up the wrong lead once to the left but we corrected it.  In that class the results are immediate and we got 3rd out of 3 hehehe.  Karen won the class though!!!!

Well the result were announced for our jumper division and Steady and I got second in the optimum time class and first in the jump off!!!  Which made us Champion of the division!!!!!!!!!!  We placed first in the Seabiscuit Medal class!!!  So we ended the day with two 1st, one 2nd, one 3rd one 4th(from the CT) and a championship!!!  And by all the exclamation marks I am sure you can see my excitement and 3 days later the excitement and pride still has not worn off.  My horse proven his heart to me this weekend and I really got to see what kind of horse I own.

I LOVE this picture! 

I just love how the sun reflecting off my horse in this picture make his ribs look as if they are sticking out.  You can ask Karen he does not look this skinny in person.
One proud Mama!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cross country schooling and last minute decisons.

Steady"s thoughts about being tacked up for the third time that day.

  He knew he was a good boy and didn't see why he just couldn't nap.  Haha sorry bud but trust me we will have fun!

I was schedueled to ride XC at 4 pm with Lee Ann from CAF.  I went out like and hour early because I wanted to just let Steady go out there and be calm.  On our way out he was huffing and puffing in excitment and I started have visions of event camp XC all over again.  But after an hour just following around the lesson folks that were before us he was calm as can be.  Operation chill Steady out on a cross country course: success!  Then it was time for us!  We started out over the beginner novice logs by the water complex!  We have never jumped anything that big out on XC before but he didn't bat an eye.  Lee Ann noted quickly that "you have yourself a very nice horse.  He is very brave and honest.  You just need to ride him straight to the jumps and keep his head in front of his body".  I was beaming with pride over my horse.  He was finally showing his capabilites on XC.  Things I just knew were in him but had yet to find.  Then we went on to stringing some stuff together.  Over the log through the water over the coop and on to another log.  Not a hesitation out of him on any jumps.  He hestated to canter through the water but I have a feeling that had something to do with the gravel heading into the water.  Gravel all weekend was just killing him to walk on.  He was trimmed two days before and I think that was the reason.  But after insisting he did so beautifully.  Then we moved to another larger log then quick turn over a ditch.  All with no issues.  Well except my inability to keep him straight but everything else was really feeling great!

Then we moved on to a small bank.  It didn't look small to me but maybe cause I have never done one.  I failed to inform Lee Ann we had never jumped a bank before.  She had us jump up first, no problem from Steady and I just needed to figure out where I belonged on the way up.  Then she said jump down the bank.  Ok easy enough right?  Well Steady took the word seriously and JUMPED.  Well you are not technically supposed to jump a bank you are supposed to jump down a bank.  I was launched somewhere above the saddle and smacked back down into it loosing stirrups somewhere along the I was laughing my butt off on that one.  Ok that was fun!  Now how are we supposed to do a bank again?  I then informed LA that he has never done a bank before and she said oh well you should just walk off it then a few times and that jumping banks is a common green mistake.  After we walked off a few times he got the hang of how banks worked.  Awesome boy!!!

 On from that over to a BN coop that 'Steady jumped nice and straight' as LA said.  My response was "I think that is the first time straight and Steady have been used in the same sentence"!!  And I was NOT joking.  We then proceeded to a larger more intimidating ditch that right after had a short steep uphill.  Ho hum says Steady.  Not really he LOVED it but he didn't bat an eye.  The others in my group did the ditch then LA says to me, "do you want to do that log at the top of the hill?"  I laughed and wondered if she was serious but she didn't seem to be joking.  I will now refer to it as 'the log that made me pee my breeches" TLTMMPMB!  I didn't really pee but that was probably only because at that point in the day I had completely dehydrated myself by not drinking.  She said "I want you to look at it and decide because it is a big jump and you need to be 100% commited.  After looking at TLTMMPMB again and see that it is two strides from the woods to the TLTMMPMB then one stride to the down hill then over the ditch.  I responded, "i will 'try' it"....LOL...wrong answer.  She said NO you won't try it.  You are either going to do it or not.  I then thought about my answer and agreed it was a stupid one and grew some balls and said we CAN do it!!  We jumped the ditch went up the hill turned toward the TLTMMPMB and he was wobbly and crooked and ran out to the right.  Second time around, same thing.  LA yells to me, "you need to stop steering!  Straighten your hands and plant them in his neck and push him forward".  Stop steering???  That makes no sense but these are the moments when I stop thinking and just do what the experts say.  I mean I am looking one stride out from TLTMMPMB and LO and BEHOLD he jumps right over it down the hill and over the ditch.  Holy SHIT that was AWESOME!!!!  WOW  I have never experienced anything like that in my life!  But I totally plan on experiencing it many many many more times before I die.  That is when a light bulb came on, I am pulling back and forth to get him straight but in turn am just making him more crooked.  Keep my hands from flailing and ride him straight and that my friend is how to make a crooked horse straight.

We then went to some other banks.  This is when we ran into Karen who was also schooling XC with another trainer.  Her and Hampton had their first experience with banks then too but I will leave that story for her to tell.  But I will let you know it is a good one :)  Steady schooled these banks no problem.  Then she added to the bank a quick turn to a brush fence and then back down the bank.  Fun!  She then strung together a mini course: Square log, up the double bank around through a wooded path down a hill to a ditch, a gallop out through the open and turn to a coop.  All jumps NO PROBLEM,  the idea of the gallop was to get into a good uphill gallop and in a steady rythym 100% success. And as I returned with the shit eating grin on my face LA says, "most fun you can have standing up?"  Haha I will not publicly post my response ;)

After all this the trip has not ended but I will yet again have to post another time.  But there is MUCH MUCH more in store.  I will tell you that Saturday evening after XC Karen and I were both packed up, Hampton even in his shipping boots and I started persuading her that maybe the hunter/jumper show the next day would be fun!  Really though I think she will pin the blame on me but she was NOT very hard to convince.  So we took our exhausted buts to Cracker Barrel and looked over the showbill to pick out our classes.  Then it was back to HHP to crash for the night.

I have no photos from XC but I will add some pics that Karen took of Me and Steady in our dressage test.

Judges comments: "Attractive elegant horse"

Monday, October 17, 2011

Our first Beginner Novice Combined Test.

I absolutely could not be any happier with my horse and what he did this past weekend.  Warning: this post will packed full with happy, sappy, overly proud horsey Mom moments.  So if those things annoy you I suggest leaving now ;).

Begin: happy, sappy...  Karen and I got to show together for the first time and I can tell you now it will NOT be the last.  She is such an awesome show buddy!  Hampton is just the coolest horse.  He is a four year old with the mind of veteran.  Him and Steady were instant best buds and there were so many moments when Karen and I were just sitting on them waiting and they were being so dang cute together we SO wish we had a camera to capture the moment.  Steady tends to really pick up on others energy and Hamptons too cool for school attitude made Steady so chill it was great!  Karen is awesome, helpful and just easy to be around.  I felt like we had know each other for years and were instant friends.  I can't wait till next season to meet up with our new show buddies!!!

 Enter; overly proud horsey mom...My expectations in entering a Beginner Novice combined test: Be safe.  Have fun.  Finish.  Have fun.  I had no expectations to end in the ribbons or anything like that cause remember I put myself in with some pros.  We have only competed two other times.  Once at green as grass last November and once at Starter in April.  You can see our dressage and derby from April here and here.  Since then I had to cut out all lessons due to finanaces.  The only thing I was doing over the spring/summer/ fall as far as training goes was the 4 day Event camp.  Which you probably have read plenty about.  All other work was done in my back yard.  I honestly had NO idea whether or not we were ready to move up at all.  The only thing I did know was that he could jump higher than 2' and in my post about moving up I was encouraged by my some of my readers to make the move so that really made my decision.  But I knew that in doing so it was going to pose many situations that we have not yet encountered.  Like the fact that we have never jumped a 'real' stadium course.  And surely have never jumped a brightly colored course with intermixed oxers.  Actually we only jumped an oxer at camp a hand full of times.    As far as dressage I have absolutely NO way to gauge our progress.  Considering I do not understand dressage much at all.  I only know to do what people tell me to do and we try our darndest to do it.  But I could not tell you whether or not we are doing it correctly.  These were all the things going through my head. 

We pack up and leave on schedule at about 4 pm on Friday afternoon.   On the trip down having to go an hour west and an hour south with Indianapolis right in the center of that trip means I would hit Indy right at 5 pm. NO way was I hauling in rush hour so my other option was to take some back off intersate roads to make my way down.  It was pretty much a nightmare but not as bad as Indy at rush hour.  But other than some swear words at some jerk drivers the trip was fine.  Got there and was imediatly greeted by Karen who had done the smart thing and gotten their early enough to miss rush hour all together.  She helped me get Steady setteled in and we went to dinner.  After talking her ear off out of sheer excitement it was back to HHP to sleep in our trucks luxury hotel.  The horses were apparently getting aquanted the entire night.  So between whinnies and pawing we somewhere in there got a few moments of rest.  Eventers were up bright and early preparing for their rides and at about 7 am I decided I may want to get up and join them.  Threw Steady his breakfast and got to spend a pretty leisurely morning getting ready.  Since I didn't ride my dressage test until 10:42 am.  Karen rode her first test(beautifully BTW) at 9:30 so I taped her ride then immediately ran to get on.  That is when I started to feel the pressure.

Steady does take a good amount of time(40 min minimum) to loosen up his hind end.  Considering he was already a little stocked up from being in a stall all night I figured I needed more time than that.  Then once on I panic started to set in that I wasn't going to remember my test.  Just before my time to go in Karen ran back to the warm up with my test and helped me at least run through it once before going in.  Though I could not concentrate whatsoever due to the annoying ring steward screaming 118 you need to go in repeatedly.  I knew what time it was and knew that it was not 10:42 and that I have every right to keep warming up.  I finally got to the end of the test and tried to relax my mind on the way over.  As I was exiting the warm up the ring steward says "you better hurry".  I looked at her and said "My ride time is 10:42 I am fine".  She then said "oh sorry I was reading the clock wrong".  No problem mam' but the screaming repeatedly at me really did frazzle my brain right before I have to go ride my test(not what I said but definitely what I was thinking).  Oh and have I mentioned the wind?!  Holy cow it was out of control and that of course makes for tense horses.  I made my way over the the arena and proceded to ride my test.  All the things going through your head during a dressage test is insane.  It was feeling good though and I thought Steady was listening and responsive and what more could I ask of him?!  It all felt good until part way through and it suddenly hits me, SHIT I am supposed to be walking right now, ugh.  And the bell rings.  Not knowing anything about dressage I immedialy assumed our test was shot.  I for some reason thought going off course was -10 points.  I go back to C and assume the test where I left off and finished the test.  I couldn't be happier with Steady.  To me the test was good for us, so I was happy.  Though completely annoyed with myself for forgetting the test that I had practiced a hundred times.  But I was glad to find out when my friends greeted me at the gate and told me how great we looked that going off course was only -2, YAY!  Then Steady and I had a nice long break until 1:45 before we needed to do our Stadium round.  It made for a pretty relaxed show day which was nice. 

I wanted to walk the stadium course before the first divisions started so I checked out the course.

  The course to me seemed like a challange.  I soon found out that stadium courses are not meant to really flow and involved tight turns and challanging lines.  Duh!  Now I know.  I memorized the course and I don't really remember what I did for the next couple hours.  I know it was not eating or drinking and maybe the lack of nurishment is contributing to the memory loss. Or I may have just spent the next 2 hours in disbelief after reading our dressage score......we officially got a 31%!!!!  Meaning if I had not gone off course we would have had a 29%!!!  Are you shitting me!?!  29 would have put us in first but 31 put us in 3rd place!!!!  Out of 10 in our division, WOW!  3 6's one on the free walk which is a coefficient, the rest were 7's except for 2 8's on our canters!!!!  I was on cloud nine. I am sure beaming with so much pride over my horse I probably was annoying.  Coming into this feeling like hacks 'pretending' to do dressage since that was what I was told at the last lesson we were in in July with someone who knew what they were doing, and walking away feeling like I have a damn good horse and I have done a damn good job with him.  I cannot describe how good and validating it felt.

Next thing I remember is about 1pm I got on to warm up for stadium.

 I walked over to the course and peed myself.  I saw the jumps set for beginner novice.  I distinctly remember someone saying that they set the jumps at minimum height for this schooling show so I didn't need to worry.  Uhhh ummmm uhhhhh those jumps are NOT set at 2'3".  I would say all were set at Max 2'7" with many oxers until right before they did lower 1 of the jumps.  I was not the only one freaking out about the height either.  Note to self; phyching myself out about the jumps right before I have to go in, NOT a good idea.  We were plenty warmed up so I just headed over to get it over with.  I was 5th in line to go in.  You can watch my ride and I can distinctly see that it took me to jump 5 to say to myself "Amy what the hell are you doing?  Ride your horse!!!"  We had a refusal at 4 and I know if I had my head together he would not have refused it.  He knew I didn't feel commited and he wasn't sure how to handle that.  Watching the video you can see he wasn't afraid of the jump it was more like he didn't even realize that is where I wanted him to go until one stride before.  That is 100% piloting error.  It is my job to make sure he knows where he is going and I failed him right there.  We then had one rail down.  So we ended with 8 errors.  But what I am most amazed with is we now have rythm, I am not throwing myself at his neck anymore, when he gets off balance he brings himself back to recollect and moves on and do you see all of those automatic lead changes.  Tell me this horse was not born to do this!!! We were by far not the only one that struggled with the course a bit because there were many rails and refusals.  But I came out of the ring beaming and I was as proud as I could possibly be with what Steady just did in there.  We have never jumped an entire course and WE have NEVER seen anything like the jumps and course they had set up.  He didn't balk at one thing and was just like, 'ok mom you say go and I will go'.   So we ended the day with a 39%, not bad, haha, who am I kidding that was freaking awesome! 

There were lots carrots and apples and Karen found Steady's number by pulling out a box of sugar cubes.  He heard that box russle and his head flew around so fast we both started laughing.  I have never giving him a sugar cube but he appearantly knew exactly what that sound was.   LOL I loved it and will now be adding sugar cubes to the grocery list. 

While I was eagerly and impatiently waitng for the scores to come out I think I finally drank something which was helpful but nearly enough to combat the dehydration I had started.  Scores came out and I only dropped one place with our stadium round!!!!  We ended in 4th place!!!  Waaa...frickin...hoooo!!!!!  I was already on top of the world and I still had cross country schooling to go, man, could my life get any better?!!  I will post the excitingness of cross country in another post since this once is quickly turning in to a book.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

We made it back alive!

We are home, Steady is happily grazing with his buddies and I am going to crash on the couch for at least a good 12 hours right after I attempt to wash at least some of the dirt I accumulated.  Tomorrow details will come!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's all about me from here on out!

Anytime I have something on the horizon for myself, i.e. horse show as the day draws closer to me leaving the more the stress starts to build.  It is not stress about the show itself.  It is the insurmountable list that starts to form as soon as Mom needs to leave.  I don't write much about the rest of my life on here but I tend to try to do the work of 5 people because life is way too easy if I don't,  Hahaha.  So on the list this week Monday: teach a friend how to milk her goat, ride a friends horse for her because she is afraid to. Tuesday: pick up feed, saw dust, hay, plan meals for the family for while I am gone, grocery shop, squeeze in a ride, take daughter to the dr. Wednesday: work, make cheese, freeze 10 heads of cauliflower, do laundry, ride, wash saddle pads.  Thurday: take Steady to the farrier, go to dentist app., give riding lesson, and the day is not half over yet.  All that on top of the everyday cleaning, making dinner, milking the goat, taking care of the horses, kids homework. 

So on Monday looking at the to do list is completely overwhelming and, the show, though, I want to be the first thing on my list is so far down the list that I don't even know how I will get to it.  But I am happy to say that with some good planning and ALOT of work as of now it is all about me!  I have everything done that I need to and I can spend the rest of the day getting everything ready for the show.  Like cleaning tack, packing cloths, packing the truck, YAY!  So now the stress has past and excitement is setting in, for this weekend.  Up until now I haven't been ready to talk about it but now I am ready!

I leave tomorrow hopefully before 4 pm and make the 2 hour drive to Edinburgh, IN to Hoosier Horse Park.  Steady's stall will be next to Hamptons from Contact and I am greatly looking forward to finding some mischief to cause with Karen!!!!  I also hope to meet Kelly from Princess Diva Diaries.  She is not in the same barn since she will be in the dressage barn but I hope to find her.  And of course a big highlight will be XC schooling the great course at HHP.   I will most likely be camping out in the truck overnight on Friday and heading home Saturday evening.

I am in the Beginner Novice horse Combine Training.  I ride at 10:49 for my dressage test and 1:45-2:45 for Stadium.  I was unsure whether or not to enter BN horse or rider division.  I asked one person but she didn't give me a clear cut answer.  So since I didn't know I entered BN horse.  Looking over the ride times I started recognizing some names in my division.  Names of riders that were WAY better than me.  Nad Noon to name one.  Then it occured to me that in choosing that division I put myself up agaist WAY steeper competition, UM, SCARY!!!

I am not stressed about it or anything.  It is just a schooling show.  We are going for experience and fun and no matter what I can make sure those two things are accomplished.  Ribbons are nice though :) But my decision ensured that I will NOT be coming home with one.  No biggy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Goodbye Gogo.

I just posted yesterday about having to say goodbye too soon to a horse that wasn't just loved but was a part of who I was and that had a big part in who I am today.  I know that kind of pain.  I am sorry Andrea.  It sounds like you have support around you to help you through today.  I am sad for you.  Nothing else to say but thank you Gogo for all you gave.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Growing up Cowgirl!

I'm going way back into history here and pulling out some serious archives.  It is no wonder why I am so horse obsessed it is sickening still at the age of 31.  First documentation of Amy on a horse.

Yup that's me.  I can't be a year old.  I am guessing 8 months old and can you see that grin?  I am riding our family horse Winjan a registered arabian gelding.  Which if we were to be honest out of the 6 family memebers in our household I rode him more than any of them combined and timed by 1000!  I cannot tell you how many places that horse took me.

Me age 7 giving my little cousins pony rides.

 I rode him in fancy hunter/jumper shows, I ran barrels, keyhole, poles, galloped him through pastures all over our neighborhood, galloped through 2 feet of snow, rode him through the Hardee's drive-thru more than once, which was in town about 5 miles from my house, which means I rode him all through town.  I rode him to friends house and tied him outside there houses all day while I played, we disappeared for days at a time getting lost in woods and not really even caring.

Me (6) and my Buddy!

 I fell off of him more times than I could ever remember and I have very visable scars on my knee and my elbow that I can tell you very detailed stories on how Winjan "gave" them to me.  It is amazing to me the places that him and I went together.

Me(10) and a very fit and handsome Winjan. 

 The last moments we spent together are in the hours that I spent hand walking him, crying as he was colicking.  I watched as they shoved tubes down his throat and pumped him with oil to try to get things moving.  I continued walking and talking to him, I can remember being so exhausted that I didn't feel like I could walk any longer but there was no way I was going to stop. Until my Dad said it was time to take him to the vet.  I understood that we didn't have the money to spend on surgery but that didn't make me any less angry that we couldn't 'fix' him.  I can remember the set up of the vets office and the stall he told us to put him in.  I said goodbye and my Dad took me home not really saying yet that he was for sure going to be put down.  The next day my Dad made the decision to euthenize him.  He was only 18 years old and died too young.  I was only 15 and had my first experience loosing my best friend.  I had had to say goodbye to horses before.  Even horses I loved.  I had to hand walk other horses for hours just before they too were put down.  They were all experiences I will never forget but none will ever compare to loosing this life long friend.  Winjan I still love you to this day.  You will forever be in my heart.  I hope you have forgiven me for all those childish mistakes I made with you.  You have impacted me more than possibly any other living being ever has, I love you.

Me(14) and Winjan(17) soaring high! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

"Mini school"

My daughter Elaina age 8. Horse toy in her lap horse book in her hand. Not an unusual sight around here. She bought this book, "Mini School" about training miniature horses. It explains training them on everything from piaffe to bowing. She has decided to start her training career early and trick train our minis. I am also encouraging her to start a blog about it.
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Getting back to basics.

I guess techinically if the basics were completely skipped to start off then it is not 'back to basics' then it is it?  More like going back to the beginning to do it right.  To be fair I did not intend to start out on this journey.  I never claimed to have any knowledge when it came to dressage starting out.  I trained hunter jumper for 8 years.  I learned that sport and I learned it well.  So when I got Steady I had the misconception that horseback riding was like riding a bike.  That if I rode that long and was a good rider that getting back on the horse it would all come back to me.

Somethings did stay with me.  The ability to stay on a horse.  How to post on the correct diagonal.  Leads, posture, heals down those sorts of things.  Pretty much basic equitation on the flat.  Though not pretty but functional.  Then starting lessons with a, how do I put this nicely?  With a not very good trainer.  That introduced me to dressage/eventing all together yet did not teach the sport correctly.  But I, at the time, knew no different considering it was my very introduction to the sport all together.  I figured she knew what she was talking about since I knew nothing.  Lesson learned. That is not always the case.  Just because someone seems, acts and says they are good and are confident that they are that good does not mean they actually know what they are doing or telling you to do.

So that is where I started.  New to the sport and learning it incorrectly.  There were even times my gut knew better than what she was teaching yet I didn't know a better way.  Luckily I did not only stick with her and ventured to use other trainers in lessons and clinics.  The problem was that what one did the other spent time undoing.  Counter productive much?!  Thankfully a  falling out with said instructor and I and that was the end of that.

 I don't think it sank in about how bad it was until just recently but  the seeds were planted in my mind over the last year.  A defining statement for me was, "Ahhh, just as I thought.  You are a rider with nice proper position.  Pretending to do dressage."  Made by one, Dorothy Crowell.  I didn't really get what she was trying to tell me at the time and thought it was kind of mean.  But now that I am starting to understand true classical dressage, it was a very accurate statement.  That was one of many seeds planted in my mind that have grown and are still growing.  This post will hopefully just become a continuation of knowledge and understanding that will progress over time and work.  It is, at this time, not conclusive and I hope that there is never a conclusion to learning about horses and my interactions with them.  At least while I am still alive.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"The wrong answer to the question"

I thought for sure I posted this before but in going back and searching posts I cannot find it anywhere.  A post on EN then posted again on Nina's story of a horse totally misreading a jump and still making it work.  Reminded me of this incredible photo of my sweet friend Mary and her horse Elvis.  Elvis completely mis read the jump but neither he nor Mary hesitated and made it work.  Not to mention made this kick ass photo!  Mary's album title on FB is, "The wrong answer to the question"  LOL love it!!

Here is the entire series.

I am sorry but aren't these two just freaking ROCK STARS!!!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Catching up.

Steady had a few days off last week. He has seemed a bit grumpy when it came time to ride and with all the progress we have made lately I hate to ruin it by pushing him. One thing his first owner told me was that "Steady did the best when we let him go at his own pace". I have to believe that is true from what I have come to know of him. After a few days off I thought it would be a nice start up by going for a trail ride. Only we have no trails at our place and I wasn't hauling 35 miles yesterday. So I grabbed my daughter and we headed out to see what we could find. And lo and behold I had no idea we could have so much fun just exploring out our back door. Steady started out resistant (as usual) when heading out through our field but once we got out of our field and headed down the road he perked up and had a great big walk with ears perked, YAY! We walked to a neighboring house and asked if they owned some of the farmland right behind ours and she was a bit suprised to see two horses coming down her driveway but she informed us that the property is actually owned by and amish man that lives in PA. Strange, right? Anyways she said she didn't care if we just walked the edges of the fields and the owner wouldn't know the difference seeing he is hundreds of miles away. So we just went exploring and had such a glorious time.  The weather was gorgeous, the sun was shining, the air was fresh and the fall colors just starting to show themselves. 
 Steady following the leader

 My bestest riding buddy and her bestest friend.
 Me and my Buddy!
 Happy boy!

 Relaxed and happy!!!  Head low, ears forward, sun shining doesn't get better!

 We walked that green path through the middle of all of the soybeans.  It went way back through acres and acres.  It was a perfect path for riding.
 The veiw back toward the house from our field. 
 Peanut gallery came to greet us on our way back.  I loves me some cute little mini butts!
(see our barn in the back?  well I spent today working on sprucing it up a bit, that is in a post still to come)
 Elaina pulling burrs out of Moonlights tail that we picked up on our ride.  She is so engrossed she hasn't even noticed her horse has gotten himself untied and is grazing away.  And Mom just stands the laughing and taking pictures waiting for her to notice.

So my plan worked.  He enjoyed his ride and today we went back to work.  He was happy and compliant.  We had some great leg yeilding at the walk and trot.  A few turns on the forehand each direction.   Nice balanced canter with good 20 meter circles.  All turning done with leg/body only no rein steering(big change for this trained HJ).  And with a couple revelations about my first training with former instructor in dressage and what true dressage is I have been making changes in the amount of contact I take up with him.  But that is a whole other topic.  We jumped a bit only 2' but point was to get him listening and me to keep my shit together.  I don't know if it is just me but some days are just 'off' for me when it comes to jumping and I find myself repeating over and over again Peters words, "Sit up, Kick up, Stand up" and it makes a world of difference.  Speaking of Peter I am planning to audit a clinic of his on the 22nd!  Wish I could be riding it in but it is the next best thing.  I am LOVING this weather!!!  Ok now we are all caught up!