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It’s Party Time!

I can’t believe how quickly this summer is flying by already! Not much to report, things have mostly been business as usual. We did, however, have a barn party at my trainer’s house to celebrate her mare’s 29th birthday on Sunday!

Moshello is a 1984 Appendix Quarter Horse Mare, bred, raised and trained by my trainer. She’s done a little bit of everything, including Dressage and Hunters, as well as Trail Horse Extraordinaire. She’s still absolutely beautiful and the only way you’d ever guess her age is the grey on her face.

Trainer also has some precious mini donkeys (which are famous in their own right, but that’s another story),  so we also celebrated their birthdays:

Donkeys JoJo and Jose
JoJo and Jose <3

And that was the moment I fell in love. I have never been around donkeys before, but these two were so cute. Very affectionate with big personalities — JoJo is the gentleman and Jose is… well… not afraid to let you know what he wants. Every time we walked away from his stall, he would stick his nose through the bars, snort loudly and paw, and generally make a fuss. So naughty, but it’s hard to be mad at a face like that!

My new best friend!

Photo Dump

I got some photos back from the last horse show and had to share! Saved the best for last, so make sure to scroll all the way down. 🙂

Walking to the Ring
Trying to slow down
Kinda cute!
This great facial expression brought to you by: PURE CONCENTRATION
Vinnie says “I’M FUCKING AWESOME!”
Thanks for the photobomb, N!
My favorite! See — I CAN follow over a fence!
Sam, Vinnie and I looking absolutely Olympic.
Diamond and I on June 3 2013 Portrait

A Weekend Full of Riding

I had a weekend full of riding, which is (in my opinion) the best type of weekend to have! I’m going to start out a little bit before the weekend, since I’ve missed chronicling a few rides.

Thursday Lesson

My lessons have been moved to Thursday evening for the summer, so that my trainer can occasionally ride her own horse (what a ludicrous notion!). So I trekked out to the barn and tacked up Vinnie after work. I lessoned with two other regulars, and we had a really nice time! Vinnie is still strong, but now that I know what to expect, I’m getting better about correcting him before things get out of hand.

We were able to put some courses together, and overall I was happy with our lesson. We had some really good moments, and some “Good job!” comments from the trainer. What I’m currently trying to focus on:

  1. Following Over Fences – Fences are just an obstacle in the way of a canter stride and I should treat them as such. In other words, don’t forget to continue to think on the landing!
  2. Give and Take – Use both reins (don’t forget that the outside rein is the brake!), but don’t just hold them; It has to be a give and take, even if it is a huge take. Every action has to have a reaction in my body and I need to remember to not get stiff when Vinnie is being a goober.
  3. Sit Lightly – I am continuing to work on my leg strength and even weight distribution in both legs, but I am now adding another element. I need to not only keep my weight in my legs, but also off my seat. I can sit, but I need to sit lightly and not rest my weight on Vinnie’s back.

Diamond and I on June 3 2013

Saturday Flat Ride

With everything going on at home and work (and our crazy show schedule), I decided to change from two lessons a week to one for the summer, but I really didn’t want to go back to riding only twice a week; I already think three times really isn’t enough! Fortunately, my trainer is amazing and is letting me flat twice and lesson once – perfect!

So I set out on Saturday, which was a gorgeous day, and rode Diamond Girl. We had to ride inside due to the overnight typhoon rain and she was pretty lazy. It worked out well though, because I was really able to concentrate on myself and get a great workout in. I practiced distances and adjusting over ground poles and the red mare was perfect. Finished up with one lap (pathetic, I know!) of posting with no stirrups and seriously thought I was going to die. Good to know that I can (sort of) still do it, but it’s obviously something I need to keep working on.

I also tried some new stirrups. I started noticing some numbness in my feet after lessons this winter and chalked it up to wearing more layers and thus making my boots tighter. But now it’s summer and I’m not wearing any layers, and it’s still happening in my left foot. Not as bad as it was over the winter, but still. I know I keep my foot at the outside edge of my stirrups and that my stirrups aren’t very wide (not the footbed, but the entire stirrup itself). So I tried some wider Herm Springers. Overall, they seemed to help, but I think it really might have been the rubber sides, and not so much the width. But I’m honestly undecided about their famous “dual lateral flexibility.” I liked the feeling in my right leg, but it felt like my left leg was bouncing all over the place. Does anyone else have any experience with Herm Sprenger Stirrups? Did you like them or not like them? 

Sunday Flat Ride

I went out early on Sunday to ride Vinnie, which also went well. He stayed mostly calm and relaxed until the end. We did some pole work and I added in some (admittedly hunter-y) rollbacks to test my even weight distribution and to keep him thinking and listening. Those went very well!

I also tried to keep my seat light at both the trot and canter the entire ride… and was mildly successful. I just need to be stronger. After I finished, I did my last trot (trainer always wants us to finish with a trot), and Vinnie wasn’t super cooperative. Mostly just strong and only half-listening, going around with his head up. So that part is still a work in progress, I guess.

Horse Show Ribbon

First Show of the Season

I had a long, involved post written, but I really need to think more positively in general. So here’s all I’m going to say about the beginning: I took the day off on Friday to go up to the show early and watch an old friend show [she and her young horse looked great in the Baby Greens!] and chatted with her, which was really nice. After that I schooled and it sucked. Vinnie was “up” and we didn’t get to do much; I ended up going over a few fences, but couldn’t put anything together [no lines, just a few singles]. Vinnie’s antics were totally different from the minimal prep horse I rode last year. I went home very upset, worrying that I might not get to show.


The next morning my BFF N [also Trainer’s working student] schooled Vinnie and he was marginally better. At first I thought I would show pretty early in the day, but I ended up not showing until about noon. I went off-course in the warm-up class and promptly wanted to crawl under a rock and die. My two division over fence classes were ok, but not great. Vinnie was still strong and I felt like I was doing everything my trainer asked, but without seeing much improvement.

After my classes Vinnie was still wired, so we went to one of the practice rings and rode some more and did a few more jumps. Again, I went home upset and not looking forward to showing the next day. Honestly, I briefly considered cancelling, but I was already out the money, so I figured I might as well suck it up and go out and ride.


N schooled Vinnie again in the morning and I rode right after her. He was great for her, just okay for me. I decided that all I cared about was two things: thinking on course, especially in between the lines, and following well over the fence. Below were my two courses:

Both courses went much better than Saturday. I still struggled with pace; I was in such a take-back frame of mind from the day before that I really didn’t allow for the correct striding, so we added in the lines. And by the end of the last course I wasn’t following as well because my legs were so tired. BUT it was much improved, and I accomplished the two goals I set out to do. For your viewing pleasure, the best of my rounds from Sunday:

I ended up with as 6th and 8th over fences for my efforts on Sunday out of 12-14 in the classes — which I was much happier with! I also rode the under saddle well, but didn’t place. Overall, I’m honestly not quite sure what to make of the whole experience. I was frustrated, and still am, about how things went on Friday and Saturday, but I’m not sure how much to blame myself (which I usually jump to!). I’m annoyed that I’m showing the same horse in the same division last year, and I feel like I’ve made a lot of improvement, but that it’s not translating into being more competitive.

I guess I’ve sort of decided to not worry about it and focus on the next show, which is mid-June (two weeks away!). I’ll see how that goes and go from there!
Bay stock horse

9 Equestrian Questions

Wow have I been busy! After collapsing on Monday after my horse show, I have been crazy busy at home and at work. I promise to post all about the show later this week — I’m uploading videos to share, which is taking longer than expected (stupid, uncooperative phone!). But until then, here’s a little Q&A:

1. How long have you been riding?

I started in 4th grade, so about 15 years.

2. What discipline do you do, and what’s your favorite thing about that discipline? 

I ride Hunters, mainly because for me it’s more exciting than only riding on the flat, but less scary than other options. I really enjoy low-level Dressage, but I don’t think I could do only that day in and day out. I would consider Eventing, but there is no way I could ever make it through an entire cross country course without having a heart attack!

3. If you couldn’t do your current discipline, what discipline would you choose? 

Reining for sure — it’s a heck of a lot of fun! I used to not know how to answer this question, because even though I tried a lot of different classes in 4-H, none of them are appealing anymore. Then last year I got the opportunity to participate in the NRHA’s Ride-A-Reiner program at Quarter Horse Congress and it was amazing!

Keep Calm and Let it Slide

4. Do you show? How often?

I show about 4-7 times a year. Showing is one of the things I love about riding — it gives my competitive nature a positive outlet. I would show every weekend if it was free!

5. Long-term equestrian goal?

Before I die, I’d like the opportunity to show in Adult Amateur or Amateur Owner at WEF or similar big-name shows, but I’m definitely a long ways away from that! Like 30 years far away. At least. So a more realistic long-term goal of mine is to compete on a local circuit at 2’6″ for a year-end award. That could more reasonably occur in the next five years.

6. What has your main riding struggle been?

Lately, it’s been filling in the gaps in my education. I was a 4-H boss in high school and I’ve had to learn the hard way that especially when it comes to jumping, I have a lot to learn.

7. Favorite horse book?

The Thoroughbred Series for sure! There are about a million books in the series and I never got through them all. Sometimes I want to go back and read them, but they are really written for a younger audience.

7b. Are you subscribed to any horse-related magazines? 

Just the free stuff: In Stride, America’s Horse and I look at the Equine Chronicle and Go Horse Show online sometimes.

The Thoroughbred Book Series

8. How often do you clean your tack?

I clean my bridle, girth and martingale after every ride… and I really need to get better about cleaning my saddle and tall boots. Those I only manage once every couple of months… which is awful.

9. What lessons in life have horses taught you?

Horses have taught me so many lessons, I couldn’t possibly list them all. I think the most important include that hard work pays off, I’m never going to be the best or the richest and that you get what you put in. But I’m learning more each and every day!