MIA

Sorry for the radio silence. I’m spending a second day in a hospital (not for me), and so blogging has been low on the current list of priorities.

Go ahead and assume this may be a quiet week on HOAH, and until the dust settles, enjoy the following clip of the BDH:

Adventures in Horse Shopping: Jumping Through Hoops

By now I feel like I have a fairly defined process for getting approval on a horse (besides of course the first and foremost requirement – that I actually like/enjoy/feel good about the horse).

So far this process typically starts once I have seen the ad, gotten video, asked pertinent questions, and am planning on going to see/ride said beastie in person.

1 . Vet and trainer have watched sales video and agree that none of its 4 legs are going to fall off in the near future and that it looks like it would be suited for life as a dressage pony

2. Trainer watches video of me riding the horse and approves it as potentially good match

3. My vet speaks with PPE vet about horse and discusses with me any potential pitfalls and sets my general expectation for the horse

Assuming we get through these 3 steps (which plenty of candidates have failed to do, by the way), we then get to the place I am now. So from here, which is essentially the trial/getting-to-know you phase, further hoops arise:

4. Barn manager must agree that the creature is not from the sixth circle of hell and is safe to work with on a daily basis.

5. The dressage trainer comes to meet him in person, typically riding the horse as well as giving me a short lesson, which helps evaluate his real potential for my goals

6. The pony travels to a local cross country schooling venue and is made to jump over solid obstacles and assessed for the probability of its landing me in a casket prematurely.7. I can jump him on my own (with safety net of other folks around) without feeling like I am taking my own life in my hands.

And that’s essentially it! Bonus points for friends approving of said animal being worthy of being stuffed with cookies and posing for endless selfies.

The BDH is going to cross country school next Tuesday… only a couple more hoops to jump through! All fingers crossed 🙂

An Interview with my Dam

I’m a couple days late on this, I realize, but while I was home this weekend I took the opportunity to interview my mother regarding her lifetime spent with horses. This included learning what a rig is, discussing semen extender, and more. Voila.

Adventures in Horse Shopping: The BDH Update

Going with Genny’s brilliant abbreviation, current trial horse will currently be referred to as the BDH [Barbie Dream Horse] until the time that he is either returned to his owner or becomes formally mine.

I had my first real ride on him yesterday, and honestly it couldn’t have gone better. The biggest thing for me to get used to is his size, going from 14.2h TC to a 16.3h banana boat is a little alarming at first. But I’m sure it will come back to me- I just have to remind myself that both Smitty and Foster were 16.2h, and that felt totally fine at the time.

I started out in the indoor arena, favoring an enclosed area as a good place to start, but BDH wasn’t convinced that there was enough room in there to canter, so with a bit of friendly peer pressure from my buddies got me outside where that was space to roam.

Anyways, don’t take my word for how well it went, watch the video!

 

Adventures in Horse Shopping: Trial Horse II

The saga continues, and hopefully, hopefully, this will be a concluding chapter. Yesterday I made the long drive again up to Virginia and picked up a certain palomino pony that made his debut on the blog a couple weeks ago.

‘J’ as we’ll call him for now is a 9 yo warmblood gelding who has recently started a career as an eventer. He’s a big guy at 16.3-17ish hands (to be confirmed) with a pretty cool demeanor.

That tail flip though

I have 3.5 weeks with J to decide if it’s the perfect fit, but after getting in a couple rides and him being so forgiving of my amateur moments [and obvious lack of equitation skills], plus carting me around over the biggest fences I’ve jumped since Foster’s retirement, I have really high hopes for this guy.

Jumping ahead and clutching the neck strap for dear life

I feel like a child who just brought home her own Barbie Dream Horse. Please keep your fingers crossed that this is the one!

Let’s Discuss: Reality versus Expectation

I have to admit, where I am now is not where I imagined myself to be a year ago, or even six months ago.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing. To be perfectly blunt, there are upsides to being horseless (in terms of ownership) for 5 out of the last 12 months. The obvious is that money is a lot easier to save. The second benefit being that it makes it easier to spend time with the SO, because owning no horse means less lessons, less shows, less unexpected vet bills, etc. (though one of those may change)

And yet… in many ways I saw myself months into a relationship at this point. Not planning a wedding per se, but the equestrian equivalent of being at that point where he’s met the parents. Or stayed the night, netflixed and chilled, hell, I don’t know what words the youngins use to describe it but I think you guys get the gist.

I figured I would be knee deep in planning a show schedule, counting down days until the next lesson, memorizing tests and squirming over whether or not I was going to have one of my dumb blonde moments at our next competition.

Equally surprising though, that’s where I am. I’m horseless in the ownership sense of the word, but somehow, despite my melancholy rants in protest of that fact, I am enjoying many of the benefits of horsemanship, and even better, competing again. DQ that I am, I have actually never competed in a recognized dressage show. But in just under a month, I’ll be going down centerline in search of my first recognized scores.

Isn’t life funny, the way things work out?
Are you where you expected to be 6 months ago? A year ago? What has surprised you, or what goals have you met that you set out for yourself? What are the pros/cons of where you are now, versus your original expectations?

Clinic Recap: USDF Instructor Workshop

Screenshots until I compile all the video

Saturday TC and I participated in a different kind of clinic as demo riders. The ‘clinic’ was actually an instructor workshop, as a learning opportunity for instructors working towards their USDF certification at that level. The format then, was a little different. I rode, and received feedback from the participant, who then received feedback from the clinician on her lesson plan, how she gave me direction, etc. Basically it ended up being a free lesson for us and an excellent chance to get us off-property in a relaxed (though effing cold and blustery) atmosphere. Win-win!

Once TC realized the horses in the giant outdoor mirrors weren’t going to eat him, he quickly relaxed into the work. Overall the crowd, clinician, and his owner (plus myself) were all thrilled with him and highly complimentary- everyone wanted to sneak him onto their trailers and take him home. Not bad for a barrel-racing bred paint pony. And I admit, I’m a little proud of him- the way his body has changed in the last couple months has been pretty impressive.

For me, I felt like they were less impressed. I had to engage my thick-skin mode and soak it up as a learning opportunity, since in order to educate the participant’s eye, all of my flaws were described in detail. The highlights include:

  • I sit left. Very left, all the time. How does this help the horse, who also is heavy on the left? None. It helps none.
  • I ride like a chicken- I need to keep my elbows close by my side
  • I collapse my right side
  • I balance myself on my stirrups
  • I brace my legs into downward transitions
  • I hollow my lower back
  • I lift my shoulders and get tense in my upper body
  • I need to open my hip flexors and get my legs back

In order to fix a couple of my offending traits, a few things were proposed:

  • Take my stirrups away – it’s hard to be crooked/lean without stirrups
  • Do lunge lessons
  • Get stronger in my core
  • Teach me the breathe
  • Get that sweet pony a different rider (just kidding)

I also left with some exercises to set us up for success- and mostly this was focused around working on getting that left shoulder lighter (which of course would help if I didn’t constantly try to grind it into the dirt with my weight). We need to work on turns-on-the-forehand, since his lack of education around this was a low point in our lesson. We can also do a tear-drop type exercise to pick up the left lead canter while he’s in my outside (right) rein. Similarly, leg yielding in and out by closing my outside leg and encouraging him again to weight the outside rein.

Overall, I came away with some new opinions about myself as a rider, but feel determined to improve from the experience. I learned what TC is like in a new environment, and am so pleased that he stepped up to the plate. It gives me confidence that more outings are definitely going to be in our future!

Photography Friday: Sister Sisters

Mia and Ella are a pair of young eventers who surely have bright futures in our sport. They have a couple established eventing horses, and 2 new OTTB prospects as well. All of their horses were a pleasure to photograph, and coupled with the girls’ bright smiles and photogenic personalities, this was a very exciting session for me indeed!

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That’s a good looking string of horses, isn’t it?

Happy Friday, all!

Adventures in Horse Shopping: Bad Luck Blues

Apologies for yesterday’s cryptic post. I’ve been hemming and hawing and not knowing which way things would go, but I just decided to step away from the 4th horse I’ve vetted since retiring Foster last year.

I don’t know what butterfly flapped its wings and created this endless storm of failed (or questionable) PPE’s, but damn it, I’m ready to be done horse shopping. If I found that butterfly, I might be tempted to squash it under my boot right now, the way I’m feeling.

Or perhaps this is just some way of the universe balancing itself out- I mean, I was able to find homes for Darcy, Smitty, and my saddle rather quickly, so surely my luck had to run out sometime.

Whatever the reason, it’s taken a bit of a toll on me. Or maybe that’s last night’s wine talking.

Sorry for the Debbie Downer post, you guys- hoping Mr. Right is right around the corner, but feeling like he’s hoofing his way around the Bermuda Triangle instead.