Anyone who lives north of the Mason Dixon line understands the desire to travel south during the winter months. Days upon days of cloudy skies and occasional deluges of snow do not a happy Tracy make. So hubby and I have committed to doing a small trip each winter, mostly to keep ourselves sane, but also to enjoy some much-needed R&R. This year, we decided to visit a city neither of us had ever been to before. So this past weekend we flew out to Austin, Texas on Friday for a long weekend. It was the perfect retreat for us and as an added bonus I got to meet Lauren of She Moved to Texas and her famous nerd horse, Simon!
We met up with Lauren and her husband for a double-date on Friday night, where she introduced me to the amazingness that is hard cider [how have I remained ignorant of this ridiculously tasty drink for so long?!] and we ate pretzels and sausage. She showed us where the downtown nightlife congregates — a mythical place called “Dirty Six” — where they close down four blocks between 10pm and the wee hours of the morning so that people can meander drunkenly in the middle of the street. The architecture was beautiful even at night and the people watching was probably my favorite part while DH enjoyed local craft beers and live music… including a band who rapped Jay-Z’s 99 Problems in the middle of Sweet Home Alabama.
Saturday was the day Lauren tried to run herself over with her car, which I still feel terribly guilty about since she was on her way to pick us up. I told her to rest and ice her foot, so DH and I explored downtown on our own and I may or may not have taken a four hour nap. The next day dawned sunny with temps in the 70’s and I was in heaven! Lauren picked us up, treated us to a wonderful southern brunch and off the barn we went. The farm she boards Simon at is out of the city, so it was nice and peaceful when we pulled up the long drive. The facilities there are wonderful — lots and lots of paddocks with huge round bales in each one, a large sand ring with beautiful jumps and a large grass ring behind that with fun natural jumps. We snatched Simon from his paddock and I have to admit, I was a little starstruck. Pictures truly do not do this horse justice, ya’ll. He’s big and beautiful and oh so sweet!
Despite numerous disclaimers about my [lack of] riding skill, Lauren still let me climb aboard after I adjusted my stirrups… which made me feel like a pony jock since I had to roll them TWICE. As I’ve said before, I’m the biggest weenie adult amateur rider on the planet, so I was quite nervous. But Simon was a total gentleman and Lauren gave me great pointers on how to ride him best. After I got comfortable on the flat we jumped around a bit. Simon might not be the fanciest horse on the flat, although he does have a ton of cool buttons, but over fences he really shines. This horse LOVES to jump. He perks his ears and carries you to every fence, helps you pick a distance if you need it and jumps great. He really uses his neck well, yet doesn’t cracking his back so I was able to stay with him fairly well. He truly inspires confidence… at least he did in me!
The more I jumped around, the more confident I felt; which is a huge nod to Simon, his training and his personality. I can count the number of times I’ve jumped a horse the first time I’ve ridden them on one hand. Plus, I’ve jumped natural obstacles ONCE in the last… um… 10 years? And yes, logs in a ring count. Yet Simon had me going over 2′-2’3″ logs in 20 minutes. What a phenomenal horse!! He put up with all of my nerves and bad habits without batting an eyelash and totally took care of me. I honestly cannot say enough good things about this horse — he’s totally amazing and I’m in love. Even DH took a liking to him right away. So if he ever goes missing, don’t look in Ohio Lauren!
And of course, the video evidence! Skip to the 1:00 minutes mark if all you want to see is the exciting jumping part. Any mistakes are 210% rider error — I kind of suck at riding new horses.