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!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

How do? and over philosophizing.

Man it's been a long time!  I don't even know where to begin or middle or end this.  Many things have transpired since my last time here.  Too many to cover.  One huge thing is, I am employed!  It's been a long road but finally I have gotten to where I was headed.  From a couple years ago toying around with the idea of getting into equine massage and through many twists and turns I am now working as a Licensed Massage Therapist at a high end day spa.  LOL Oh how life laughs at our ideas and plans and puts a whole new spin on them.  NEVER thought I'd work in a spa. Just never.  It's not me.  HAHAHA here I am and I am loving it.  Massage is not easy work by any means but it is an interesting and fun job.  I love to get my hands on a tired, painful or sore body and work my magic and have them get up feeling like they are lighter, less stressed and in less pain.  It's a cool thing.  And worth having to ice your hands and wrists at night and then soak in the hot tub to recover your own muscles.  What does any of this have to do with horses you might ask?  Well one of the biggest motivating factors pushing me through this process is I will have the financial ability to do all sorts of fun stuffs with horses.  And now that I make more money than I ever have in my life.  Like 4 x's more and have to work very part time I will not only still have time to ride I will have money to lesson, clinic and show.  I mean I could realistically be one of those people who are at like every local event!  I mean I won't be because kids but I could if I wanted to.

Goals like qualifying for a Novice 3 day are now realistic and I don't have to be afraid to speak them out loud because I know they will never happen.  Now they are within reach.  I'd hoped to be on that path much earlier in the season but I am just happy I finally am.  For the first time in my life I have the ability to do pretty much anything I want horsey wise.  Tack and cloths and shows, OH MY!  Realistically much of my income will go toward other things like hubby really wants to add on a garage and I plan to invest a certain amount back into continuing education.  But then I'd like to save for an outdoor arena to be put in (crossing my fingers next year.)

Having time to document any of these things is most likely not realistic but I will try to still check in as often as I can.   If you ever have your own farm,  three kids,  three horses and a career you will find out exactly why there is little time and/or energy to blog about it.  But I'd like to.

This summer has been so extremely fun!  We have spent most of our time,  riding,  boating, kayaking, hiking and hanging out with friends.  It's tough but I try not to complain.  It's not all prefect we had pretty much everything with an engine break down within a month besides my truck.  It sucks but it's hard to complain when you have such a privileged life.  We trail rode. Went to pony club camp with two of the kiddos.  Omg Kelcie and Penny xc schooling!   It's even cuter than it sounds.  Both my riding children have no fear btw.  I tried a mylar combo bit on Steady.  Consequent he tried to kill me.  I didn't come off but the dramatic effect of slamming us into a tree was enough for me to know that it was NOT the bit for us.

Eventing goals for me have taken us to new territory.  I'm still wading through trying to figure out exactly where I am headed.  It's strange.  Since starting out on this journey the path has been clear.  I had goals and I was come hell or high water I was on that path to accomplishing them.  While I still have that in me to an extent my drive is gone.  Other priorities have come into play and my once one and only dream is morphing into a collage of ideas, thoughts , hopes and aspirations that include not just me and my horse but my family, my kids, their horses, their dreams and much more.  I am trying to focus in on the "what's the next step" to make headway in any one direction but the harder I try it seems it all just gets bigger and slips out of grasp.  A little over philosophical? Yes but I am just trying to figure it all out.  I feel like it is the beginning of a new chapter when I didn't even realize the last chapter was coming to a close.

I call myself an eventer but now I am so far from it that I am unsure if that is still a defining factor of who I am.  I love riding my horse.  I know that.  But that is the extent of it.  Then there is this unspoken idea that my daughter will soon be moving from her Haflinger and start riding Steady.  (she has become a damned good rider)  I don't want to give up my horse but am I really giving him up?  I wonder if sharing is a realistic idea?  I think it can be.  I mean she gets busy with school and I get busy with work.  Between the two of us maybe we will just be able to keep him in consistent work.  We can trade off riding at events and while yes I know I will have to give up some riding experiences to allow her to experience them I still think it can be done.  If not?  Well I don't love the idea of adding a 4th horse to the mix but it may just have to happen. 

Once the oldest moves up from the Haflinger the middle has her own plans to take over that pony.  Yes my middle daughter.  The only female in this family that didn't have interest in riding now has been asking to go out and ride on the daily.  Poor, Poor husband.  Literally and figuratively.  She is determined to join Pony Club next year.  So 4 riders in the family.  It seems like an anomaly of nature for everyone in the family to enjoy riding horses. A sick anomaly. One in which we never have a retirement because all of our children love the most expensive sport/extra curricular activity on the planet.

That's all I have time for right now.  So I must apologize for no photos.  It just takes more time and I more than anything I just wanted to the this typed out.  Hopefully be back soon with some more exciting and photo filled posts.