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Vinnie's Face

Making Progress

I realized when I sat down to write this blog that I’ve had way more rides than I realized, so there’s lots to talk about. Sorry for holding out on you! So let’s see… Thursday night I hacked Vinnie. There was a big group of us, which is always fun, and we rode outside for the first time this Spring. I admit, I was a little nervous at first because I never know what’s going to set Vinnie off, but he was a champ! He didn’t spook once, not even in the scary corner by the bleachers [which Vinnie believes is a bear cave]. What a good pony!

We started out with a group exercise, all four of us in a line, basically playing follow the leader. Vinnie and I did well, we just lost momentum to the left towards the end of the exercise. I guess our fitness and conditioning is still a work in progress. After that we did some work with ground poles. Vinnie was “on it,” as Trainer would say. He even took a long spot over one of the poles [on the “out” of the line], which was awesome. Vinnie is world-famous for sneaking in an extra stride and chipping wherever he can; anytime he takes a long spot is kind of a big deal in my book!

On Saturday I had an extra lesson on Diamond; it was the first time I’d ridden her in about three weeks due to her injury. She came out a little up, but I kept her busy with lots of circles and changes in direction. She was a little stiff to the right at the trot, but worked right out of it. We ended up having a fabulous lesson and Trainer said we can put Diamond back to work full time! It also looks like I’ll be able to show her in some flat classes at the barn schooling show next weekend too. Yippee!

At the end of the lesson I had a nice talk with Trainer about my goals and making sure we are still on the same page. I’m really glad we talked, because I’d been a little frustrated lately. Of course, it’s been difficult to work on jumping bigger the last few weeks with Diamond out and Vinnie just coming back into work, but still. I have a goal, and I want to stick to it. We also talked about things I can do in my flat rides to work on strengthening my legs, especially my right leg. Sounds like lots of two point and no stirrup work is in my future!
Vinnie and I on 4-18-13
Flowers from Sam

Keeping Promises

After Visa died, I made a promise to myself that every year on the anniversary of his death [April 17], that no matter what, I would go to the barn. So when that date fell on a Wednesday this year, I did what any responsible adult working full-time would do: I took vacation. Sorry, I’m not sorry. The morning was tough, I won’t lie. I cried, a lot and seriously contemplated not even bothering to get out of bed.


Around 9 am there was a knock at the door, so I shuffled up to answer it. Lo and behold I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my amazing boyfriend complete with a heartfelt card. It was really sweet and made me start crying all over again. I finally managed to pick my sorry ass up off the couch around 11:30 to pick up my friend N for lunch. She took the afternoon off so we could eat mac n cheese and fried pickles, and then go to the barn together. I know, I have the best friends.


I splurged on an extra flat ride with Vinnie, and worked on the usual: bending and giving especially to the left and then did an adustability exercise with ground poles. As we rode around N and I chatted about everything: Visa, her heart horse Romeo, riding and showing. It was really nice to just let it all out with someone who understood. After our ride we did a spa day with Diamond, who was especially thrilled to not be in her stall “resting.” I spent extra time brushing out her mane and tail, and just loving on the big red mare. Trainer even came out and chatted with us for a bit, and told me that for my lesson on Saturday I could start out on Diamond to see how she feels! Here’s hoping she’s all recuperated and 100% sound so I can show her in some flat classes at our farm’s schooling show in a few weeks.


Vinnie and I on 4-17-13


Of course, a special trip to the barn always warrants a photo shoot. We even tried to take a picture of another’s clients three horses to send to her in the hospital; she’s having hip replacement surgery and we thought a shot of her three favorite babies would cheer her up. It was a bit of a clusterfuck, but I did manage to snap one that has all three horses’ ears pricked! From left to right: Moiya, Reiki and Bruin; the three musketeers!


Suzannes Horses 4-17-13

After our barn shenanigans, N and I headed up to the local tack store for some retail therapy. Because nothing makes you feel better quite like dropping stacks on stuff for horses and riding gear. I bought a Professional’s Choice girth for Diamond since I’ve been coveting one for a while and since I can’t manage to ever walk out of a tack store without new boot socks, N and I got matching pink owl zocks. Yeah, we’re about 10 years old. All in all it turned out to be a good day. I didn’t do a lick of work for anyone and I spent a ton of time with ponies- which was exactly what I wanted and I kept my promise to myself.

Diamond and I on 4-17-13

Visa Photo Collage

One Year

Today I’m writing a blog that I didn’t have the strength to write exactly one year ago.

Dear Visa,

I love you. There are so many things I wish I could have done differently in your life. I made mistakes, but I hope you know that I did my best to correct them and I hope you can forgive me for being young and stupid.

I hope you know that you are a huge part of our family, and that since you’ve been gone, not a day has gone by where I didn’t think about you. I miss you so much.

You were the best first horse a girl could ever ask for. Steadfast with the biggest heart I have ever known, the only time you ever refused a fence was when I was falling off and you swerved so I wouldn’t. You never backed down from anything — showing in literally every class in 4-H and kicking a** in all of them. Together we learned about success (and failure) and you taught me that hard work pays off.

You cultivated my love of horses and my passion for the show ring. You helped me pick my major in college, get my first job and most importantly, you showed me true love. We went through so much life together, that now it’s a little hard going at it without you sometimes. But I’m lucky, because you vetted Sam, and made sure he was good enough, before you left. And you were right, as usual — he’s definitely a keeper.

I hope you know that I’m going to buy another horse someday, hopefully sooner rather than later, and I believe that that’s what you would want me to do. But I also want you to know that no other horse will ever have the same spot in my heart. You will always and forever be my first horse, my first love and I will never forget all that you taught me.

Love Always and Forever,
Tracy Signature

Visa Jumping

January 31, 1993 – April 17, 2014

Grooming Vinnie

All Bay Night

Last night I had my weekly lesson on Vinnie. It ended up being a group, with all four of us on bay horses — thus “All-Bay Night,” heh. Vinnie managed to stay semi-clean from his marathon grooming on Sunday, so I was able to groom and tack up in fairly short order. I went into the arena a little early to walk around by the end where the bear lives, especially since the big door was wide open [which means the bear has even easier access to tasty ponies, according to Vinnie]. We started out the lesson with just a crossrail to warm-up and that went pretty well for everyone. We moved on to schooling some of the line, and that also went well. Our first line [#3 and #4 in Course 1] was a bit wiggly. It was set right against the wall with the entrance door open, so of course we had to check for any baby bears that might be around, but our second time through was much improved.
Then we moved to schooling the other line, which proved to be everyone’s biggest challenge of the night. The first jump was a plain white rail with orange cones [#6], which was fine. The second jump was two brick boxes [#7], and just about every horse said “WTH?!” We all had at least one refusal the first time, but everyone eventually got over it and we were able to move on to coursework.
The first course went well for us. We struggled all night to find a good spot to the white gate [#2], but it wasn’t horrible. The brown natural vertical [#5] was our best all night. I’m still having trouble adjusting from Diamond’s big 12′ stride [14′ if you’re not careful!] to Vinnie’s 10′ stride, but it’s getting better every ride. I also hope that once Vinnie gets in better shape, and we get outdoors, that he’ll have more of a motor. Right now, it feels like we’re crawling. Even the BF said the difference in pace between me and the other girls was noticeable and it made it hard for him to see how my was position was. Note to self: to work on pace!
Once we all did that course, we moved on to a second one. I received mostly the same comments as the first course. I still had trouble with the distance to the white gate, but my first and third jumps were pretty good. Everyone in the lesson had success- the two greenies did great and one girl is headed to IEA Nationals this week and she has been just stellar in our lessons lately. I’m really excited for her and I honestly think if she has any luck at all in the draw, that she’s going to do really well!
Vinnie Grazing

A Good Ride

After my busy day on Saturday, I woke up Sunday morning and was a bit lazy. I enjoyed my breakfast, watched a little bit of TV and enjoyed my coffee. I did a few chores [luckily I got most of them done on Saturday!] and then got ready to go to the barn for my flat ride.

It was absolutely gorgeous outside, 60 degrees and sunny. I was worried I would have to ride in the small indoor with Vinnie, who believes that a very large horse-eating bear lives there, since the outdoor isn’t quite ready yet, but luck was on my side and the last lesson in the big back indoor was cancelled! After spending 30 minutes knocking all the mud off my yak–I mean horse–we proceeded to the arena. We rode all alone and I was proud of Vinnie for only spooking mildly a few times. Starting out, I focused on warming up with asking for a nice bend at the walk through each corner of the arena. When I moved up to a trot, I asked for lots of large circles to start building up more fitness and strengthening Vinnie’s weak left stifle.

Once we were sufficiently warm, I used some ground poles to work on adjustability. First I cantered the “line” in five strides and then six; working on both directions. We had to take lots of walk breaks because we’re both a bit out of shape still, but I was really pleased with how Vinnie worked once he was warmed-up and supple. By the end of my ride, he was bending and giving to the left quite nicely. I finished off our session with nice rinse at the wash rack and let Vinnie graze while he dried. As we were perusing the yard, Trainer came out and we chatted for a bit. She said Diamond is doing well, and although her cut isn’t healing as quickly as she’d like, Diamond is going back on regular turnout. Her inner fire-breathing dragon is rearing its ugly head and she needs to go back to work. Trainer even said she might be ready for a light hack later in the week!