After several years off from writing, and a year of many changes, I thought it’d be an opportune time to start up again, and start tracking progress again as I face a new year with a new start!
I’ve spent the last seven months out of the saddle after two hip surgeries. The whole purpose was to be able to ride comfortably, and with a week and a half left to go before being cleared to ride, there’s finally some light at the end of the tunnel. I know it will be still be a long and slow road with lots of physical therapy to go, but I can’t wait to get in the saddle again. The Banana has largely had the time off, but heads to an indoor for winter soon so we can both get back to work!
Also heading to the indoor is my mom’s new girl Callie. They had a great two weeks, then five weeks off after pulling her shoes left her completely lame. There’s still some debate as to whether or not she’s got a history of laminitis, but shoes and pads seem to have done the trick to keep her comfy and now she (and my mom!) are ready to get back to work.
And another addition to the herd…
When John presented me with an offer I couldn’t refuse, I got to his farm as quickly as I could to decide between to Alfa colts. It wasn’t a hard choice, and next thing I knew he was calling Autobahn mine, scheduling a gelding, and yesterday my new little buddy came home! We’re calling the little yellow Ferrari “Enzo” and I’m totally smitten. He’s still a bit jumpy after we turned his world upside down, but responds very quickly to stroke on the neck and his curiosity soon takes over. And WOW that trot. I can’t wait to watch him grow up and get to know him more!
This has been floating around the internet, and has prompted me to come out of my rather long hibernation!
1. The Intro Horse
We each came into horses in our own way, but it was always with a horse leading us. This might have been a friend’s first pony, or perhaps it was a draft horse on a farm you once visited It might have been a real-life meeting, or an imaginary one.
2. The Experimental Horse
Once you had crossed the line between “Darn, they’re big!” and “Wow! Can I try that?” you found yourself face-to-face with the horse that would suffer through your early attempts at figuring out the whole horse experience … wherever this horse came from, he probably didn’t benefit from the encounter as much as you did…
3. The Connected Horse
The first horses we meet don’t really connect with us, nor do we with them. Those are experiences in survival and tests of endurance. The Connected Horse is the first horse you truly bond with. This is the horse that sounds a chord that lives so deep in you that you might never have heard it otherwise…
4. The Challenger
Into each horseperson’s life, a little challenge must fall. You’ll have read that one final training book, bought yourself a clicker and heading rope, and there you’ll stand, arms crossed, assessing the situation as if you actually knew what the situation was. It might be difficult to believe, as you are flying down the aisleway on the losing end of a braided cotton line, but you actually need this horse in your life…
5. Your Deepest Heart
There will come a time when you will look at yourself with a cold, appraising eye, and you’ll have to be honest about your continued ability to deal with The Challenger and other difficult horses. At that point, you’ll seek out the horse that will be your soul mate forever… You’ll have bought him the most comfortable, best fitting equipment… Maybe you’ll still go to shows and ride – brilliantly or barely – in the Alzheimer’s class. Maybe you’ll just stay home. Whatever you do, one day you’ll realize that after all the money you spent on animal communicators and trainers, you only had to stop and listen and you would have clearly heard your horse’s thoughts and desires…
Which had me smiling and in tears at the same time. My five came very easily…
My Intro Horse was a dear pony called Cricket. She was small enough that at four I could reach to tie the cinch knot myself, and patient enough to let me do it. She never intimidated me, unlike some of the bigger horses I occasionally lessoned on. A fantastic mother…she’d often put up with babysitting me and her own foal at the same time. And she treated me to my first ventures into the show ring.
I rode as a youngster, but when I was six we left the farm and I didn’t ride again until I left for college. I had many good lesson horses, but my Experimental Horse was another saintly mare I had the priviledge of leasing for a summer. She was game for anything, and that we did. She was the first horse I galloped across a field on, the first horse I fell off of, the first horse I trail rode alone on….the list goes on. I’m blessed to still have her in my life, since her owner remained a close friend after my lease ended. Chey Chey is 18 now, just as sassy as ever, and turned out every day with my own girls.
Sigh…the Connected Horse. After Chey, I continued riding lesson horses and took on a project horse, but several months later I finally found myself purchasing my first horse. He touched me to my soul and forever changed my relationship with horses.
Har har…the Challenger! Not a bad nickname for the Snow pone!! After losing Kai, I decided to buy myself an opinionated, green, pony, mare. Does it get more challenging than that? We had steps forward and steps back, she intimidated me and made me immensely proud. She’s better every day, and still a challenge. After our first two years together, I put together this scrapbook page:
At this point, my Deepest Heart is most definitely still my Kai-man. Far and away. He may always be. But I’ve got many more years of riding and horses ahead of me. I’m blessed with two wonderful horses who are still young. I’m game to see where they and others take me.
Just don’t. Why, you ask? Your show clothes will shrink in that time.
And now I have a show this weekend, and am wondering exactly how I’m going to pull this off. My plan was to wear navy and cream (cream looks so much nicer than white on the haffies!). My navy show coat fits fine, but the cream breeches are about two (okay, maybe three) sizes too small. They’re lovely pants with an even nicer leather seat, which means they are NOT very forgiving. I have some white breeches that do fit, but I’ve been tossed off in them, I’ve spilled walking taco on my lap in them, and I broke in new boots in them. Stained would be an understatement, and unless it’s pouring rain, I’m not wearing them to a show (it’s supposed to be sunny). But if I did have to wear them, I’d wear my longer black coat that covers up more of the stains. Except that seems to have shrunk a size as well. I can get it buttoned though.
I have one of those nice short sleeve coolmax type show shirts (that fits!), but it seems to have gone MIA since the driving event two weeks ago. So now I’m torn between rush shipping a new one, or sucking it up and wearing an actual long sleeved show shirt (it’s supposed to be 85 degrees).
Saturday I finally managed to ride in my new boots without a problem, and LOVED them. But on Monday night (after sitting in a cube all day at work) they just weren’t going to happen. I finally called the cobbler, and they’re only charging $8 to mechanically stretch the calves just a bit more. The good news is they’ll be done Thursday, so I’ll have them in time to bring to the show. The bad news I won’t be able to ride in them…until the show. My old boots are coming as a back-up…missing sole and all. OMG. I am NOT going to be a pretty picture!
No, they’re not paying me. But not only can I now get my boots on and off, they’re not even cutting off circulation anymore!!
As soon as I progress to wearing them over breeches, rather than under pajama pants, I’ll post pictures
Loops are HARD!!!
We spent a LOOOOOONG time on pieces of T4 last night, but by the end all but the canter work was lovely. I’d start a loop and come off the rail and she’d say “ooooh….lengthen on the diagonal!” and rush rush rush. Then we got beyond that, I’d make it as far as the quarter line, and she’d say “change of bend? That’s hard!” and rush rush rush. It tooks a while, but in the end we DID get some nice loops! lol
We also had some fantastic stretchy trot circles. I have to remember to post them though.
The canter work was kind of horrible, but I’m really happy with how the rest went
The short version – we did NOT repeat our win
The long version:
Dressage on Friday went very well. One of JanJan and Desi’s best tests yet. She’s getting softer and he’s going behind the vertical MUCH less, AND they’re finally getting a real lengthening. I believe she got a 63%, her mom a 67%, and at the end of the day her mom was in 2nd and we stood in fourth. Same as last year.
Marathon on Saturday. Typically, our first couple of hazards don’t go well. It takes a while to find our groove, and by the third we’re just on our game. Not so this time! Our first hazard was FANTASTIC. It was a boxy hazard with lots of sharp 90-degree turns, but we were still smooth and fast. The last time we had a good first hazard, we blew everyone away and won marathon by a mile. So we were good and ready for a second hazard and the rest of the course! Second hazard was a water hazard, and we FLEW. Desi actually GAINED speed through the water. That horse just loves his job. We won that hazard by more than seven seconds.
Our next hazard was the bridge hazard. We had a couple different routes picked out, and since our first two hazards went so well, we opted to go for the shorter/faster/more difficult route (up a steep hill and immediate left turn down to gate B). The turn went beautifully – and we’ve seen folks get hung up there before. Our last gate was behind the bridge, facing away from the exit. There were several options to get from the gate to the exit, and we had decided to stay on the left turn we’d be on, and gallop well wide of the hazard so we could just FLY out. We were galloping all out on flat land, and I was centered and slightly right, preparing for the sharp right turn we’d have to make after exiting the hazard. JanJan and/or Desi ended up NOT going wide enough, and I saw our path too late and we were going too fast for me to get over to the left. The right front wheel hit a hill on the edge of the bridge. I was still trying to get over when the left rear wheel went up – and then we were over.
JanJan and I were thrown clear, the carriage brought the horse down, and both continued to roll completely over. We were up and JanJan was actually at Desi’s head before he had even gotten up. He was the calmest I’ve EVER seen a horse after an accident, and after circling twice stood quietly while we got him out of the mess. We went down to the right, but since they rolled completely over, the carriage was now on Desi’s left side, with one shaft over his back and the other under his belly. Amazingly enough, we were able to get the carriage off and upright, harness off, and everybody and everything was FINE. Extremely banged up, but no permanent damage. Oh – and for all those that say not to ride with a cell phone in your pocket because you’ll hurt yourself if you fall off and land on it – they’re SERIOUSLY not kidding! Ouch. The cell phone shaped bruise on my thigh hurts WAY worse than the road rash I’ve got everywhere else, and the phone isn’t too happy either!
There are of course 1000 different versions of what happened and why. Some say she was just going too too fast, nothing could have been done. Some say I wasn’t on the right side of the carriage (I wasn’t). Some say that I was, or that even if I had been, I wasn’t heavy enough to make a difference (quite possible!). Some say Desi lost his footing (new studs, on solid ground, and pictures show the carriage took him down – he didn’t lose his footing). And the announcer loves to play up the “rivalry” between JanJan and her mom, so those that don’t know how much they support eachother were claiming that she was trying too hard to beat her mom.
As Sterling told us both after though, “it happens…and if it doesn’t, you’re not trying hard enough!”
We gave Desi some bute and walked him out for a long time. Sunday he was barely even stiff, so we of course had to hitch him right back up. He’s a fantastic boy and obviously no worse for the wear – he dozed while we harnessed and hitched. We walked around and he was fine, trotted and still fine. I watched him move, and he was tracking evenly. Took him to the vet check and they cleared him as well. We were going to do the cones course.
Now for those not familiar with Iron Horse, the cones course is always in the same place, and that’s right in front of (and through) the bridge hazard. To do the cones course, we’d have to go right by the place we flipped. Also a bit disconcerting for us both – riding as groom, I have to stay seated, and on one side. No “navigating” to keep the carriage upright. We went VERY slow (which Desi wasn’t thrilled about…he wanted to go run cones!), but all went well. JanJan was TERRIFIED. It may take her a while to come back. She will, she’s agressive, and she wants to go to the top. But she’s young. And when I equated it to a more dramatic version of getting tossed off a horse, she told me she’s never fallen off a horse either. But she did get back up there. Also good for her, they’ll be spending the next four weeks at Fred Merriam’s place, so she’ll some fantastic training and a good facility to get her feet back. I also told her I WOULD make it down to Indiana at the end of August (I wasn’t planning on going to this event). She’s not sure yet if she’ll actually compete or not, but she doesn’t want to go without me, so I said I make it down there and even if we only school a bit together, or go HC and walk the hazards, or go all out – I’ll be there. And she’s still talking about moving up to Intermediate and doing Live Oak next year, so I don’t think she’s completely lost her nerve
So, pictures!! (I’ll put in a break before the pictures of the accident if anybody DOESN’T want to see those…they’re somewhat graphic, but horse and people are FINE!)
Bridge Hazard, pre-flip:
Pictures of the flip coming
And a couple from cones:
ps – I did get my boots off