My coffee mug perfectly sums up my day….. my week really. Winifred has had me grinning all week but last night’s lesson has got me on a total high! I will back up a little though and mention the cyclone bomb we had this week. No, I am not making that term up that is actually what the meteorologists called it on the news. We had 60mph winds this past Sunday which made me a bit skeptical about riding my nervous horse. Luckily our indoor is made of concrete so there was no siding to clank around but we do have 2 garage doors on 2 different walls. Those were moving and banging at any given time. Winifred was nervous but he really contained himself. I was so incredibly proud of him at one point when we were walking past the garage door and a particularly nasty gust hit. Win did jump and react more than the other two in the ring but for him, that was a super small reaction so I was proud. He did want to constantly be buddied up to Maestro (Stampy and the Brain). I commented that it was funny that the oldest horse in the ring was looking to the youngest for comfort. Kristen had a different take on the situation. She felt that Winifred was sticking close to Maestro because he knew he was much faster than Maestro so when the monster attacked Maestro would be the sacrifice. LOL
On to even better riding things though. I was really looking forward to my lesson last night because I did not end up doing too much jumping last week. Ever since my surgery, I am very diligent on getting a monthly massage and adjustment. I always get them on Tuesdays and so far the only downside I have had was that a couple of times I was too relaxed. Lol. That actually can be a problem in the saddle though. My chiropractor usually stays away from my surgical spot but this time he pressed down right on it. He also adjusted my hips for the first time since we were talking about how my toes always point out and he said that he could help with that. (Such an equestrian moment, my toes have pointed out my whole life but I only mentioned it because my trainer has been hounding me about them lately.) Like always, I felt great when I left but then about an hour later I had horrible lower back pain. I tried to suck it up to ride but my pain was clearly apparent when TS asked, “Is there something wrong with you today? Why are you riding so weird?” She suggested that I stretch it out by 2-pointed and it helped a bit. When it came time to jump though I could only stand to do a few warmups and a line.
Oops got on a tangent when I was supposed to be talking about my amaze-balls jumping last night! My back was still a bit sore but not like the week prior and I was hell bent on doing more. Horse show season is upon us my friends and I already missed one home show! I am not sure if I will be ready for the March show but last night was a huge step in the right direction. First, TS had set up a nice gymnastic of a trot pole, X, one stride, X, 2 strides, vertical. The trot pole ended up adding an interesting element for Winifred. It really backed him off! This was great though because it forced me to ride 2 sides of my horse in one test. He was so backed off that I had to really push him into the first 2 jumps but then he was ready to run at the third jump and I had to sit back, hold him, and hold my body to make the 2-stride work. We did that a couple times then put our course together. The course had a couple pitfalls that we have been avoiding the past few months, long approach headed home and a diagonal line headed right to the exit. There were 3 of us jumping and for different reasons TS wanted everyone to add but commented to me that depending on how Win jumped in we might not be able to do the add on the diagonal home. OMG, our course was awesome!! The only thing in the course that was not in the plan was that I circled after the long approach to get a calmer trot to go into the combination. TS and I agreed that I could not enter that with the hot horse I had coming straight off that jump. The course ended with the combination to the diagonal home which was set at a 4-stride. Winifred jumped in pretty strong and wanted to go but I sat back and took control and forced him to do a 5!!! Obviously, for the shows, we will do the strides but right now I need to prove to myself and Win that I am in control! TS was so happy with that she was ready for us to be done but I asked if we could do one more challenge to prep for show season.
I can’t believe that it has been months since I have done an oxer. I was avoiding them more out of the cold on my older boy but then it started to become an obstacle in my mind. To avoid him getting too strong in the approach we decided to jump the in of the diagonal then left rollback to the oxer. So yeah, my in was pretty shitty because all I was thinking about was “bitch you better sit back approaching the oxer” and then forgot that I actually had to jump the first jump! I got caught behind and in my attempt to try to keep a softer release I ended up losing my left rein. Ok, folks that is bad enough on a regular horse, but let me explain why that is so much worse on Winifred. Winifred was a very accomplished jumper in the high point of his career (this is where his running comes from) which means that he can turn on a dime! I have done those turns and they are so much fun but his problem is that he is pretty confident that he knows exactly where to go to next and that is much worse when you just jumped a course but are now changing it. Below is a typical conversation between us when we go from a hunter course to an equitation course.
In the air over the jump:
Me: Hey Love we are going to turn left when we land.
Win: Yeah yeah don’t worry I see da jump in front of us.
Me: No bub we are going left to the oxer over there.
Win: Seriously, mom don’t worry I see dat straw bale.
Land, I pull HARD left, and attempt to block him with my right leg:
Me: WIN I said LEFT!
Win: This is so awesome mom I bet I can get to that jump in only 3 strides this time! TS was so happy with me last time she is going to love this!
Me: WINIFRED we are doing a rollback!
Win: Come on mom I KNOW that this is our next jump! Did you read the course map???
Me: WINIFRED JOSEPH YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW TO READ A COURSE MAP! We on an equitation course!!!!!
Win: OHHHHHH well why didn’t you say so?!?! I love equitation courses! Bending line next?
After that, any little shift of my body and he is on point. So knowing that is how it typically goes, really think now about the consequences of me dropping my inside rein. But praise Jesus, halleluiah, he listened to my body, turned, and I was able to regain my rein in time for a beautiful soar over the oxer! I swear we were in the air for 30 seconds. Ok, I know it was only like 2 seconds but it was amaze-balls! And let’s face it those 2 seconds where your horse lends you his wings so you can fly are why we deal with all the frustrations, bills, worries, sweat, blood, and tears. Those 2 seconds of perfect flight make up for all of that and the high from that can last for days. I know that I am definitely still on my high!
Guess what time it is?????? Saddle pad time! Well, maybe….. I made it to -30lbs but I am wondering if I should wait. I am headed to Mardi Gras in a couple of weeks and let’s be honest I am not going to follow my diet program while I am down there so I am going to gain. If I was farther from -30lbs it would be a big deal but I know my body and even a little bit of bad food or drinks and I skyrocket up. Should I wait until after Mardi Gras when I will be down 30 and stay down to get my saddle pad??? But I did decide on a navy pad with white piping and orange binding.
Luther some minor bad news last week. Nothing major, but he has now started to develop proud flesh on his puncture wound. In all my years with horses this is my first experience with proud flesh, so of course, I ran around asking everyone in sight what to do then stayed up late obsessively researching it. Lol. It is by no means bad enough to get cut off so I was looking for treatment I could do. Many people suggested Wonder Dust but there was some debate over wrapped or unwrapped. In the end, I decided to use Wonder Dust and continue wrapping. It is just so wet here and it keeps freezing and thawing so you never know when it is going to sloppy mud. After only 3 days his wound looked fantastic!!!
I have also been plopping around on him. The first time I was just being lazy and didn’t feel like hand walking so I just hopped on bareback with his blanket still on. If you ever get the joy of watching Luther go you will know that the first time you ask him to trot, no matter how he is feeling, he MUST protest!! This is just his thing he has to do to let you know that he feels that working is bull shit and he does not want to do it. Couple good jabs in his side though and he knows I mean business and moves forward. I also usually ride with spurs to get the forward movement and a crop which is used solely for when he bucks or tries to kill other horses (have I mentioned how special he is????? If I didn’t love him so much…..). Since we were not planning on doing much I didn’t grab either, so I was completely shocked when I asked him to trot and he went right into it! He was totally “Luther” sound! (aka stiff but sound) We did a few walk/trot/walk/trot transitions, and all was good until he decided another horse got too close. This is not new and didn’t concern me, but he usually gets a wack from the crop for that behavior but all I had was an empty thud of my spur-less legs on his side. My pony kick stopped him alright and I shit you not he turned his head, looked right at me, and you could see the recognition in his brain, “Ha mom doesn’t have a single weapon!” And that was the end of me getting Luther to move forward! LOL! For real, he is a pain in the ass but I love him so much!
I am getting real sick of Mother Nature lately! As I mentioned in my previous post, we had another ice storm last week which knocked out our power. Power was restored on Wednesday, but It was still so slick outside that no one from my barn rode since we have to walk across the driveway to get to the indoor. We definitely have trade-offs between the two barns on our property. The “old” barn is attached to the indoor so that is nice during winter or raining but the “new” barn has heat, wash racks, and IMO is just beautiful. To me the walk is worth the extra amenities in the new barn.
Thursday, I got on to flat and between lack of turn out and his last ride being Saturday, I had one fresh boy! He was super though. No spooking but left to his own devices his only gates were extended gates. Lol. The ring was decently busy when I got on but cleared out enough at the end that I opened him up and let him hand gallop. He just gets so happy doing it and as long as he is good, meaning I still have brakes and steering, I do not mind letting him have some fun. That much hand galloping lead to a pretty chill Friday.
We lessoned on Saturday to make up for missing our Tuesday lesson. Like our flat on Friday he started out pretty chill. It was so pleasant until………… the blue jacket of DEATH!!!! Before I go any farther let me clear up that I and no one else in the lesson (except for her sister cause you know sisters) blame the owner of the jacket. ABSOULTELY DO NOT blame her!!! Ok, that disclaimer is finished. Back to the story, there is a corner in our indoor where there are benches and straw bales for people to sit and watch. It is also a place where many people place their coolers and jackets. So, this sweet junior rider took her jacket off and dropped it on a straw bale. I saw it and knew I needed to be prepared because Winifred spooks at anything over there. What we didn’t expect is that every single horse in there lost their minds over this jacket! Even my friend, C, who’s one major reason for buying her horse was that he does not spook, and he even was like “aw hell no!” Winifred just could not function. When it was clear that Winifred was not getting over it, TS picked up the jacket and put it on a jump standard. You would think that it was over, right? Well, you would be wrong. He still kept trying to bolt from that corner so, of course, I forced him to circle over and over down there. Lol. The thing that I thought was hilarious was that he was going within 2’ of the jacket on the standard and had no issues but the empty corner was still terrifying. I finally got him to the point that he was just nervous down there and not full on bolting, so I took it as a win. He is such a silly boy.
Now on to jumping. I was feeling confident but after the jacket incident I started to get nervous, but for real, there was no reason for that. Winifred was amaze-balls. We didn’t do too much because the lesson was huge and running late plus I am jumping again today. We basically just did a couple mini courses. TS wanted to keep him quiet after the jacket fiasco and our first line she wanted us to do an add which was a 6. He was SO quiet and SO lazy we got a double add! WWHHHAAAATTT?!?!?! Yes, let me repeat, we got a double add!!!! We also had 2 long approaches which is where he really likes to build but he stayed right where I wanted him! It was awesome! Hopefully, tonight goes just as good.
Getting SO close to -30lbs which means new Ogilvy pad! I am really indecisive on my colors though! I see so many beautiful color combinations on horses at our barn but I am failing at picking my own. I really like navy and orange so I was thinking the grey pad with navy and orange piping and trim. I have seen the grey in person with the light blue and it is beautiful but I just don’t know if it will pop. Please help me!!!! What do you guys think? What are your favorite colors? I am open to any suggestions!
Now on to cute puppy. I don’t know if you knew this but Catahoulas can climb trees. They use this skill to flush game out of trees. He isn’t using his nails to dig in like he should but here is Finnley’s first attempt and getting something out of a tree. I did realize after though that fostering this skill may not be a good idea since he has already been known to jump fences (and not the horse type).
Mother Nature has hit again! We are covered in ice and the barn (and me) lost power and no lights = no riding. Shout out though to TD, TS, and our barn staff for ALL that they do! Winter in Michigan is not easy yo!
I figured that it would be a good time to do a blog hop. I first read this on HelloMyOlivia’s page WAY back in November and thought it would be fun. I think that it is a fun way for readers to get to know you and now that I am really looking at and thinking about the questions a fun way of doing a little introspection.
1. Why horses? Why not a sane sport, like soccer or softball or curling? I actually did play team sports in high school. I played both softball and basketball but basketball was by far my favorite of the two. I think I liked it better because it was the only contact sport for girls. I loved pushing my way around down in the paint. (Uh I might have some aggression issues but let’s push that aside for now.) Even as an adult I enjoyed playing team sports until I blew my knee out two years in a row playing co-ed football.
Horses (and all animals) have always been a huge part of my life though. I love the unspoken connection you can get with them and testing that connection through various forms of riding. I am going to get a little emotionally deep here so buckle up. I also think that a big part of why I worked so hard to be a competitive rider (not just a for funsies backyard rider) as a kid was to set myself apart in my family. My sister is 5 and a half years older than me and she was a natural born athlete. She played a few sports but softball was her love and I was always “B’s little sister”. She was known as the athlete and pretty one and I was the smart one who needed to lose a few pounds. My sister was the Homecoming rep for her class 2 of 4 years and she might still hold the record for most stolen bases for our school. (This was not a label that my sister created! She is my best friend and my biggest fan and I am her’s. It was just how our small community, and my family, fostered.) Riding and showing are what set me apart. It is MY thing and MINE only! And I was good! I grew up with a very loving family but there were also some very hurtful things that my mom would say about my weight. The barn became my safe space and solace. It still is and if I could never compete another day in my life, sure I would be sad, but it would still be the place I run to when I need to breathe.
2. What was your riding “career” like as a kid? I started riding when I was 7 at the hunter jumper barn that I am at now with the same trainers that I ride with now. I did my first horse show there. Walk/trot on a school horse named Tag. I was the only one in the class so I got first. I remember that day so clearly. My cousin told me good job as she gave me the ribbon and my response was, “I was the only one in the class. They had no choice but to give me first.” To which she promptly responded, “well you could have sucked so much they didn’t give you anything and told you to leave the ring.” Touche
I rode there a couple of years but when I was 9 my mom’s friend, J, wanted to sell her horse, Odie, and just needed someone to take the time to ride her get her to lose some weight. She didn’t have time so she boarded Odie at the barn across the street and over one house from me. Odie was a super broke, palamino quarter horse in that anyone could hop on her and go but she didn’t have any fine skills. I wasn’t taking any formal lessons with the trainer there but she would watch me ride and give me tips. Eventually, she went to my parents and said that I had potential and wanted to know if she could take me to a couple shows. My parents said yes and Odie’s owner figured it would help her eventual sale so she agreed to. A couple of shows turned into a whole season! Odie was clearly a western pleasure QH so we showed that but english was my first love so I forced her to do that as well. Lol. After Odie was sold, my parents were still not ready to buy a horse so my trainer went out and found me a pony that a couple bought for their grandchildren but it was not grandchildren ready. She convinced them to board it at her house and I would put in the finishing training for free if I got to show it. After that I was able to charge a small amount to ride and show people’s horses until I was able to pay for my own when I was 12. At that time I had been doing just local open shows but starting to go to a lot more QH circuit shows. I was riding in any class that the owner wanted me to but when I was 13 my trainer and I really started to focus on dressage. She even set me up with a professional dressage instructor for weekly lessons. Can I just say that dressage shows are run so much better than an HJ show?
3. If you could go back to your past and buy ONE horse, which would it be? This is a hard one. My best show horse was by far this cute little bay QH who was only about 15.2 hands named April. She could CLEAN up in any ring you put her in. Seriously, we would win in a western pleasure class then literally the next day kick ass in the dressage ring! She reminds me of Luther though in the fact that she hated the world and would bite you, kick you, and smash you to the wall but she loved her one person. Luckily for me at our barn that was me and when I sold her to this nice couple it was the wife she loved. Lol.
But the horse that I would want back is tied between Jamison and Chester. Jamison was a 16.2 hand, solid bay appy with a white “J” that I was originally hired to ride right after I graduated college but I ended up keeping him until he got cancer. He was actually purchased by his owner to be a western pleasure show horse but he clearly would rather be a hunter. We never competed so I didn’t bother measuring our jumps but I would guess that we were regularly doing 2’3″ to 2’6″. That is based off the scientific measurement in my head that there was a decent amount of space between the rail and a straw bale. He was all heart though. If I pointed him at something he trusted me to at least try. I also never felt the slightest unsafe with him. I miss him every day!
Jamison was all heart but 2’6″ would probably be his upper limit which is why Chester is in this tie. I bought him as a 4 year old and he was already 17.1 hands. He was a solid chestnut appy with tigering on his muzzle and around his eyes. (Wait, do I have a thing for appys and didn’t know it????) To this day he is the calmest horse I have ever met in my life! My friends used to joke that I had to have pot growing in my pasture cause dude barely ever had his eyes open. It wasn’t until he was 5 that I started popping him over some fences. For the first time in a year he opened his eyes! He was a natural! Knees tucked and he seemed to have no limit to the height. Since I just started him I didn’t push him too much but we got up to breezing over a 4′ single fence with plenty of air under him. He never ran down a line but his stride was so damn big that he didn’t need to. I sold him because he was not working out as a dressage horse but he is my adult ammy hunter unicorn!
4. What disciplines have you participated in? Hunters, dressage, western, gymkhana (does a gambler’s choice class count as doing jumpers??)
5. What disciplines do you want to participate in some day? I would love to say eventing but at this point in my life, I don’t think I have the balls to do it. I definitely don’t have the balls to do it on Winifred since you can’t even walk him out into the field.
6. Have you ever bought a horse at auction or from a rescue? I bought an OTTB from a rescue. He legit had the most beautiful trot of any horse I have ever ridden! Sadly, I had to give him back to the rescue to be a pasture pal for someone after a jack ass driving down the road (the barn I was had the riding arena was right on the road but a barely traveled on dirt road) thought it would be funny to honk his horn at us. Gavin lost his mind! He spun right into the stone wall fence and I ended up coming off and hurt my knee really bad. The guy drove off leaving me there by myself. Gavin had fractured his cannon bone when he crashed into the fence but limped his way into the barn where someone was cleaning stalls.
7. What was your FIRST favorite horse breed – the one you loved most as a kid? April, who I mentioned before. She was truly a bitch to everyone else but we had a connection.
8. If you could live and ride in any country in the world, where would it be? I love the English countryside and it would be amazing to ride there.
9. Do you have any horse-related regrets? Hmmmmm……. Maybe selling Chester and not seeing where he could develop in the HJ world but then again if I had kept him I would not have gotten April and learned the lessons she had to teach me. Maybe my biggest regret is not finding a sugar daddy to support my habit when I was hot enough to probably get one. LOL
10. If you could ride with any trainer in the world, ASIDE from your current trainer, who would it be? Probably Karen O’Connor. She was the first big named female riding that I followed as a kid. Plus anyone who has the balls to ride a friggin’ PONY at Rolex (ok now the Land Rover three-day event) is just amazing!
11. What is one item on your horse-related bucket list? One “item“???? If we are taking this literal and looking at an actual “item” I can’t really say because everything I would want would be based on the horse that I am riding at the moment. I would like to upgrade my saddle I guess but that doesn’t really seem bucket-list worthy. If we are opening up the meaning, then I would like a >17 hand Spotted Irish Sporthorse that is dead broke enough cart me around and build me up enough to jump 3’6″ and do international derbies.
12. If you were never able to ride again, would you still have horses? This was a real possibility when I had to have back surgery and yes, I still went out to the barn. I was out there literally the day I got home from the hospital breaking two rules that day: 1. No driving (I live next door so not a big deal) and 2. Not being on my feet for more than 20 minutes at a time.
13. What is your “biggest fantasy” riding goal? First, I would have to have won the lottery and purchased the horse I mentioned in #11. I would love to compete on the A circuit.
14. What horse do you feel like has taught you the most? Tough one because I think they all have taught me something. Winifred is still trying to teach me to sit back. Lol. I think April though. She is a LONG story but the short of it is that she was abused. I eventually bought her from my trainer but it was my trainer who rescued her. We weren’t sure if she would live but she was a fighter. When I say that shew as a bitch it was for a reason but she taught me patience, trust, and loyalty. She also taught me lots of riding skills cause she was not a fan of anyone on her back for quite some time. Lol
15. If you could change one thing about your current horse/riding situation, what would it be? I absolutely love Winifred, I do, but he really isn’t the horse I would pick if I had my choice. First, he is a very nervous horse. I can generally handle him on the flat but since I have taken a few falls and have had major surgeries like my back and knee I am not ashamed to admit that I am a bit nervous over fences too. It is a mental block that I need to get over because when I am nervous I make mistakes and Winifred does not handle mistakes kindly. He needs a strong confident rider or he stops. I was that when we started together but then I had a show where he revved up to a jump and I thought we were taking off so I tipped but he changed his mind and I went FLYING! I came off 3 times at that show because he just grabbed the bit and ran but then slammed the brakes. It is because I needed to sit hard like a jumper rider and make him take more stride but now I second guess my spots. This is just a mental block and I am working my way through it but it would be nice to work my way through it on a horse that can say, “don’t worry, I will take us over this even if you make a mistake.”
16. If you could compete at any horse show/venue in your home country, where would it be? Man, these questions are making me feel like I suffer from a lack of dreams. Shit, I just want to get through a home show with no falls and feeling 100% confident.
17. If you could attend any competition in the world as a spectator, what would be your top choice? The Olympics or WEG
18. Have you ever thought about quitting horses? I have thought that I suck enough that I should quit jumping but never riding.
19. If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the horse industry, what would it be? The abuse that happens.
20.What’s the dumbest horse-related thing you’ve done that actually turned out pretty well? I have no answer for this one.
21. As you get older, what are you becoming more and more afraid of? This one is easy…… getting hurt. I have been laid up in the hospital having full body seizures because the disc between my 2 fractured vertebrae was compressing my spinal cord. Not gonna lie that scared the shit out of me!! That is the reason for my mental block with jumping right now. I have been there, I have felt excruciating pain and complete loss of mobility. That sticks with you.
22. What horse-related book impacted you the most? Horses for Dummies! Lol. I have not read that but my friend and I gave that to our barn-mate as her wedding gift. Lol. I have not started it yet but I am hoping that Brain Training for Riders: Unlock Your Riding Potential with StressLess Techniques for Conquering Fear, Improving Performance, and Finding Focused Calm may become a positive impact on my life soon.
23.What personality trait do you value most in a horse and which do you dislike the most? Calm confidence and just the opposite nervousness
24. What do you love most about your discipline? The feeling of flying with another being that you have to silently communicate with. For real it is such an adrenaline rush!
25. What are you focused on improving the most, at the moment? My confidence