Merry Christmas!

I know it is a little late but we wanted to wish you all Merry Christmas. We pray that you always have a gentle hand pet you, enough food to fill your belly, a warm bed to sleep in, and someone to love. 

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What’s in a name?

Lately, it seems like there have been a lot comments and conversations about names. Kristen from Stampy and the Brain had a whole post about it (The Great Name Search)  and our table at the barn Christmas party this weekend spent a great amount of time throwing out every name on the internet to her. Even The $900 Facebook Pony had a comment in one of her recent posts that she was not a fan of the name that Henry had when she purchased him.

I too have been racking my brain about show names for Winifred. The majority of my youth showing was done in the Quarter Horse world where you showed by your horse’s registered name no matter what it was even if it was Cluminator’s Bozo! It generally had something to do with the horse’s lineage and could tell you a lot. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I moved into the Michigan Hunter Jumper Association (MHJA) circuit and I was surprised to find out that 1. A horse’s lineage is rarely used in the name and 2. If you don’t like your horse’s name that you can change it with a snap of your fingers (or really the click of a mouse). You could change a QH’s registered name but it took a lot of paperwork and money plus I was always told that changing his/her name was bad luck. Lol.

So here I am though not pleased with my lease horse’s show name so I asked my trainer (his owner) if she was ok with me showing him under a different name and she agreed. Winifred’s registered name is Winni. This is not bad but it reminds me more of a pony than a big 17.2 hand warmblood. The girl who leased him before me showed him under the name Final Win. She did this as a tribute to her horse who had passed away because he had “Final” in his name. I respect her reasoning but Final Win sounds like I am going to die. Lol.

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I promise not to kill you if you give me cookies!

 

Now the big question……… how to choose a name????? Do I stick with something that has something to do with Winni, something that has to do with his personality, some cool science term since I am a big science geek, WHAT DO I DO???? Well I thought of all of these and came up with quite a lengthy list.

The problem with coming up with a name to suit his personality is that they all were very “jumpery” names since Win likes to fly around the ring. Full Throttle, Terminal Velocity, Risk and Reward, Never look back, etc. I have many more but you get the idea that none of these really suited a hunter. I did have Easy Does It and Take it Easy on my list since those are things I say to him all the time. My trainer did like those.

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I have a jumper bridle on so that must mean I am a jumper.

Then there were names that really didn’t tie into him but just sounded cute like Natural Rhythm, A Million Miles, Above and Beyond, Anything but Ordinary, Uniquely Me, etc. I also liked Under the Influence but I am hoping that the name that I pick will stick with him and since a junior might eventually show him I decided against that one.

This left me with names that had something to do with his name. I thought of In it to Win it but that sounded kind of conceded to me. I also liked Without Words. That doesn’t have Win in it but the double W was a stretch to tying it to his name. Lol. Then on a two hour car ride to an equine seminar on neck pain my friend suggested that I look at German words with win in it since Westphalians are a German breed.  We found out that win in German means friend. Awe, cute.

Final decision…….. Aldewin! It is a German word for noble friend and I think it suits Winifred perfectly. Now I can finally order his Christmas present which is a stall name plate. In the very off chance that I take Luther into a flat class I love his registered name Big in the City so I am all good there.

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No you are a hunter now!

What are some of your favorite names?

 

Goals

Now that you met my new boys the big question is, “what do I want to accomplish with them????”  If you had asked me this question in the beginning of September I would have told you that the only goals I have are to continue to strengthen my back, lose weight, improve my confidence and equitation, return to the show ring, and in general not die. These are still part of my goals but they have grown a little.

My goals with Luther are a little simpler and easier to attain. Since he is semi-retired from jumping I will not be showing him, although I have considered taking him in to a flat class. He is hilarious to ride during a show because he is ON! This is a horse that I have wear spurs and carry a crop with to get to move forward on a regular ride but if I ride when we are hosting a show he moves out like he is 10 years younger. He also loves jumping so much so that when I started riding him and I could not get him to canter I would ride him towards a fence. He would get so excited that he would finally pick up the canter. Recently he has had an increase in his stiffness so my goal with him is to get him back to shape where he can do a small line again. I think that a full course would be too much but I know how much he loves jumping and a small line is achievable. Seriously he loves it! If other horses around him are jumping he gets so excited. I am not sure that this goal will be achieved in the winter though due to extra stiffness from our tundra like winters.

Luther grazing

Goals with Winnie, this is the tougher one. The last time I showed was August 2015 in the 2’3” division before my back surgery. My goal was to get back to showing in 2018 but that was about it. I was pretty satisfied with this as a goal until September 17th. It was the day of Medal Finals and at the end of the day my trainer, D, told me that she had been thinking about it and she decided that my goal is to be in the ride off for the 2’6” division Medal Finals. I was blown away that D believes that I can accomplish that when I didn’t even believe that I could qualify for Medal Finals let alone be in the ride off. (A little insight on me, I am not good in believing myself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that I suck but I would put myself in the average to below average abilities group.) D setting this goal both elates and scares the crap out of me! I can’t explain what it means to me to have my trainer think that I am good enough but now I am scared about letting her down. Setting a goal for myself means that I am the only person that I have to “answer” to but having her set it puts a lot more pressure on me. I am still not sure I can achieve this one but there is a small seed in me that D planted that says maybe just maybe I can do this.

What are your goals this year?

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Winifred

I would like to introduce you to my lease horse Winnie or as I formally call him Winifred. Since Luther is 21 I call Winifred my young man but really he will be turning 18 soon. While he may be older he really acts like he is closer to 4! He is a gorgeous 17.2 hand Westphalian chestnut. He came to our barn in early 2016 for another barnmate, S, to lease. He was an impressive jumper competing in high levels including at Maclay. S is a great rider who did jumpers for her whole career but after her horse passed she could not bring herself to do jumpers again. They were such a great pair I understand why she needed the change and Winnie could use some settling down.

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When I saw Win I was impressed but he also was intimidating watching him fly around the ring. Winnie definitely still has the jumper mentality! There was a lot of back and forth on whether S was going to purchase Winnie at the end of her lease but she decided that she did not like him that much and passed and my BO scooped him up.

I had been on Luther for a few months and started jumping him but he is limited to very small fences and I wanted to test myself. I asked my trainer and my BO their opinion of me riding Winnie and they agreed to try it but there was concern about my back since he is such a puller. We decided to just do a few lessons before we discussed leasing. I was unsure of him with my first lesson. He was NOT anything I was used to!!! He felt like he was a ball of nerves and I was too. I mentioned to my trainer that I felt like I was falling backwards. Turns out he needed a riser pad. That made a big difference but he still was a different ride than I was used to. Even his walk was/is fast. Then I got to the canter and………… heaven!!! For serious, if you can’t sit for equitation on his horse’s canter then you better get out of the saddle cause holy crap does he suck you into the correct seat. After a few rides I got used to that “ball of nerves” feeling and realized that that is just how he is. With that said, he does tend to be a scaredy-cat. There has been multiple times that he has jumped sideways or spun and tried to runaway just walking in the driveway to and from the arena. He keeps me on my toes. Lol.20280306_10210070180376668_1754991139959790895_o

After a few lessons I decided to lease him. I have been on him for about 7 months now and I already owe him a HUGE thank you! Both my skill level and confidence have greatly increased! Until Win I have been on horses who I needed to add strides on but Win is known for dropping strides. Don’t get me wrong, I still have nerves and butterflies about some of what we do but I know that I am a strong enough and effective enough rider to control him. We still have a lot to work on but I know that we will continue to get better.

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Lucifer

So last I posted about riding I was just starting to get back in the saddle on this amazing warmblood named JB. He was being leased by a girl in our barn and I was so grateful that she let me share him. I started to want to ride more though and so I could not keep sharing him. My trainer then suggested an older quarter horse at our barn named Luther. He is owned by a very lovely woman who cares for him deeply but due to family life and her job she is not able to ride him but maybe once a week. He has quite an impressive resume doing 3’6” hunters and winning lots of titles in the QH circuit including at Congress. Now though he is a nasty old man with an even nastier buck!

I started riding him April of 2016 and let me tell you I HATED him!! He was 20 and you would think that he would have settled with his age but his work ethic was terrible and his MO when he didn’t want to work was to buck and spin. I was also still nervous about my back so the bucking really really bothered me! I was also concerned about hurting myself right before I left for Europe. (I spent 3 weeks in Europe in June 2016.) Not only was he nasty in the saddle but he was nasty on the ground too. The last woman who rode him warned me about that as well so I was prepared. All of this is why I gave him the nickname of Lucifer.

Luther naughty

I gave him 5 rides and I was done! I told my trainer thank you for the opportunity but that was it! She said that she understood but swore that he could be a great horse. He just liked to challenge his rider and told me to give it just one more ride. I was not sure what was going to change in one ride but I told her I would give it a shot. I have no idea what happened or how my trainer knew but the sixth ride was game changer! He was so good and it was such a great ride!

1st good ride

It has now been a year and a half and while Lucifer does make his appearance every now and then I have learned to absolutely LOVE this horse!! He is not going to win any classes anymore. He is difficult to move forward and every now and then he still bucks sometimes out of nastiness and sometimes because he is excited but he is my rock. What I have learned about him is that he needs someone who stands up to him in one second but then show him love and kindness the next second. He puts up a big show but he really loves all of the love and attention. He comes when he sees me and snuggles into me now. My BO has commented on how much better he reacts with everyone now. I had to laugh the first time I went on a business trip. My BO commented that after just two days of me being gone Luther was starting to get naughty again and by the fourth day he was full on grouch to the point that some of the barn workers were back to refusing to go into his stall. Lol. Ok, I should not laugh that he scare some of the workers but I just have to shake my head at my loveable, old, grouchy man.

Luther snowLuther sunglassesLuther spoiledLuther kissLuther white spot

World’s Worst Blogger

I am legit the world’s worst blogger! I tend to do really well posting regularly until something major happens (back surgery and then Oscar passing away) and then I take a hiatus. I am kind of superstitious and wonder if I should even start blogging again for fear that something majorly bad will happen again but I am taking that risk. I am taking this risk because I am using this blog as a way to keep track of where I am in my riding, how far I have come, and how far I need to go. Since my last blog was May of 2016 there have clearly been a LOT of changes in my life.

I still miss Oscar every day (literally tearing up right now). He was a once in a lifetime dog that no one could ever replace. With that said, my house was far too quiet and empty without a four-legged child in it so enter my terrorist also known as Finnley (or Finnie the Foo, Foo-fur-son, Fooer, Finsta, Block Head, Honey Bear, psycho-pants, and of course just Finn). I wanted to stay with a Catahoula but my family begged me not to. They loved Oscar too much and thought that a dog that looked like him would be too painful for them until I showed them that Catahoula come in red leopard too. It was an instant “we need to find you one of those moments”!  Not sure if I ever mentioned that I had been looking for the last 2 years of Oscar’s life for another Catahoula to rescue. I don’t want to get too much into this because it still upsets me but I found lots of them in the southern chapter of the Catahoula Rescue group but I was told that since I was from Michigan that I had to adopt through the northern chapter. Well in the 2 years that I looked the northern chapter had never once had a single dog. I hoped that I could just have a representative from the northern chapter come and do a home check and I offered to drive to Texas so that they could meet Oscar and see Oz interact with the dogs but they told me no! I found a few (non-Catahoula) dogs up around me that I liked and applied to 4 different rescues. Of those four, two of them I never even heard from, one called one of my references but then I never heard back from them (I swear my reference was good!), and one did come through completely. They approved me and I met the dog, Asher, that I was interested in. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. He nipped at me when I touched his ear. If it was truly just me I would work with him on that but I have nephews that come over and I could not risk them. Good news on Asher though. I saw him about a year later at a random dog event and he was adopted by a woman who adores him and he looked so happy!

I finally gave up and started searching for reputable breeders. I found one in Corinth, Kentucky which is about 6 hours south of me. From the first time that I talked to N I knew that she was who I was going to get my puppy from. Not only was she a horse person but she really cares for her dogs, doesn’t over breed, and keeps in touch with you after. I also liked that her husband made sure that I had experience with Catahoulas because they are not a breed for everyone! A couple more things that drew me to them was that they require that if you cannot for any reason keep your dog you must give it back to them (while I understand that is not really enforceable it was in the contract and I liked that they thought about it) and I thought it was cool that the KY state police reserve dogs from them to use for the KY state K-9 unit.

Finnley was born on 5/17/16 and I brought him home on 7/17/16. He is NOTHING like Oscar!!! This is good because Oscar was a one of a kind but sometimes I wish Finn would settle down a bit. He is such a clown! He literally makes me laugh every day and you can see that he makes himself laugh too. I do still struggle with his boundaries, such as this week he stole the tv remote off the table and chewed it, but I love him anyway. He is lucky he is cute! Lol

Luckily and completely unplanned, three of my friends from the barn got puppies at the same time and they were all born within a week and a half of each other! One of them my friend, J, got is a German Short Haired pointer named Gus. He is truly Finnley’s bestest friend! The other two are Ibizan Hound sisters, Cleo and Callie, adopted by C and T. Finn has every man’s dream of twins as his girlfriends. The girls LOVE him. Don’t get me wrong they love to play with Gus too but Finnley is the apple of their eyes (especially Callie’s). We call them the HR Puppy Squad and got matching collars. (For those of you who didn’t know I ride at Hunter’s Run hence “HR”.) Below is a picture from their Halloween party. To solidify their three-some relationship Finnley was a hotdog and the girls with ketchup and mustard. LOL! Gus was a super cute Superman.

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Oh by the way you can follow all of Finnley’s shenanigans on his Instagram page, Finnley.the.cata_whattt

Well this is running long and I have so much more to update on like ponies. Yes I said that plural! I have two handsome ponies in my life right now. I know, lucky girl! I will give them each their own posts soon. My goal is to post at least once a month but for now I will post a bit more just to catch up and so that you can meet my new men.