Bootcamp starts here

It’s officially the off season for us, which means mac & cheese on the couch under a blanket dressage and equitation bootcamp. The dressage part should be self-explanatory. If not, uh go back about three posts and that should do it. The equitation part is a little more… interesting? Not necessarily the right word, but I’m too lazy to think about the one I want to use.

Let’s dive on in.

Background for anyone missing this piece: grew up showing western pleasure/breed show stuff. Took 4 years off for college (2010-2014). Rode casually in grad school flatting two hunters, but nothing serious and no lessons. Took a year off for fellowship. Started riding again seriously in July 2017, taking lessons, eventing, the whole nine yards. Came off and broke my back in March 2018. Back on and riding in June 2018.

K, now we’re here, October 2018. All my eq issues are definitely related to each other and Trainer C is really good at uh, fixing me, but I like recording things, thinking through things on paper and bouncing ideas off smart people (that’s you).

I really struggle to keep my leg underneath me – in fact, there’s hardly a photo out there where my leg is far enough forward. I am the opposite of chair seat.

I am told allllll the time – get your leg forward, think of pushing it forward, push from the ball of your foot, etc. I’m about 85% sure it’s mostly a hip thing – I know I have tight hips and the best I’ve come up with is my hips (?) aren’t letting my leg come forward and under me.

My leg is about six strides behind the rest of my body

The logical consequence to this would be I’d be leaning forward and balancing on the front of my pelvis. While I’m certainly not immune to leaning at jumps, I’m much more likely on the flat to get left behind the motion. I sit on my back pockets like I’m riding saddleseat.

Classic example raising my heel

Now let’s toss in the fact that I’m 5’1″, not exactly long in the leg, and not really built like an A circuit equitation star. More like… Dolly Parton. I need all the leg help I can get, but what do I do? Oh, I scrunch myself up as tight as possible. You know, making my leg even shorter. The worst of these habits is that I raise my heel to use my leg. But y tho.

This far back just at a halt

Add insult to literal injury, my lower back is now incredibly tight at the beginning of my rides. Stretching certainly helps, but I can’t help but think it has to be impacting how I ride. My saddle is fit to both of us, so that shouldn’t (isn’t) the main issue here. Posting two up, one down seems to help. Two point.. helps, but not with keeping my leg under me. It’s not like it just slips back when I start going – rather, I have to physically move it forward at a halt/walk to put it in place to begin with. No stirrups helps with leg, but hurts with scrunching, actually making that part worse.

So.

Exercises? Ideas? Thoughts? I’m dead determined to get this sorted out this winter so I’m just gonna crowdsource here.

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Fall Harvest HT: Baby Shark goes XC

What I didn’t mention is that Saturday the farm hosting the HT also held a derby. In order to get out on the XC course and jump some things, we did the starter (2’3″) and BN derbies the day before. This ended up being a great idea because by the time XC rolled around on Sunday, I was totally feeling game and ready to go vs being a hot mess of nerves.

The course was set up so you had quite a few places to gallop and settle in, which I really liked. I was a little nervous that Doc was going to tune me out and do his best racehorse impression, but after two good derby runs the day before and a good stadium course where he was super tuned in, I started to think maybe we’d be able to really go for it and have some fun gallops.

Warm up consisted mainly of being told to put my hands down and shoulders back – which apparently my body can’t do at the same time. I always thought I was cool because I could pat my head and rub by stomach, but the real world application has failed me. I can have hands down and shoulders leaning forward or I can have hands up and shoulders back, but both at the same time is a mental struggle.

Oh, and the person who started singing Baby Shark in warmup. Thanks for that one.

We left the startbox (to the tune of do-do-do-do-do-do) and had a short little cruise into the next field for our first jump, a red stairstep we jumped a few times at camp this summer I felt good about.

1 - Stairstep

He was a little behind my leg until he locked onto the jump and went, “OOHHH doing jumpies, OK” and then it was like, game on.

Two, you came around through the field to the fence line to a red coop, set really nicely to just gallop out of stride and he did just that. I did make sure to have my inside leg on so someone didn’t opt to take the lazy way out, but he just cruised on over.

2 - Red coop

Around the end of the field and back out to three which was on the slightest bit of an angle, but still just a fun galloping pheasant feeder.

3 - Pheasant feeder
Slight angle because you turned left at the end of that fence

Coming into 4 was the first time I really let him out and was going to find out if he’d come back easily or if this was going to be a fight – it was going back towards home and you came right next to warmup and where everyone was hanging out.

4 - Hanging rail
Hanging rail at 4

Needn’t have worried – half-halt, shoulders back, about five strides out, and he just came up perfectly – the way Trainer K described our feel for the course was ‘bounce the ball’ – like the horse was a basketball underneath you with power. It was as we came over this jump and past everyone in the warmup area (to cheers because Indiana eventing is chock full of the Greatest People) I settled in and went, “OMG we are doing the thing and it’s fun.” It is also where everyone on course heard me talking hilariously enough, because when I talk, I breathe. So I talk through my entire course. To Doc, to myself, to the jumps, to the world.. I’m chatty Cathy up there. Add in galloping and breathing and I’m also… loud.

Through the gate to the next field and over the lincoln logs at 5 (which we’d jumped the day before) and then a sharpish right hand turn to the ditch at 6.

5 - Lincoln logs

6 - Ditch option

Per usual, Best Horse Ever didn’t bat an eye at anything and gave the ditch the most half-hearted jump effort ever. I have felt bigger strides out of this horse over ground poles. At this point, I’m audibly laughing because this is holyOMGfun.

We came around the corner, downhill and then back up to jump the trojan horse at the top of the hill. Fun fact: this jump was set on a different hill at camp and it is the jump I got run away with to… about 6 times in front of Leslie Law. So when I walked it, my mind was like, “UGHHHH Y” Literally everyone else doesn’t like 8, I’ll jump 8 anyday. I hate this stupid jump. It looks big and dark to me and I don’t like it.

7 - Trojan horse

Well, guess I should say didn’t like it, because I just half halted at the bottom of the hill, remembered to keep my damn shoulders back and rode a little deeper like K suggested and it came up basically perfect. Jokes on me.

Around to the left to 8 which is a table nobody else likes, but I think is a badass fun fence (as badass as anything at BN can be…) that was set on a slight downhill.

8 - Slatted table

It’s amazing how when you listen to smart people and remember how to ride, things work. From 8 we cruised downhill to the bank at 9 – half of the sunken road we jumped through this summer at camp. Doc had a split second he thought that jumping up this thing was dumb when he could just go to the right and around it, but some leg and a little tap nixed that idea.

If there was going to be a fence anyone had problems with on course, it was going to be at 10. You had to come through a gate at the end of the field and make an L to the tires at 10. Well, no worries here. It’s at this point I’m realizing we’re on the second half of the course and it’s going better than I could have ever imagined.

10 - Tires

Through those two gates ahead, to a small ditch at 11 to a rollback left to the distillery, which is also one we jumped at camp.

11 - Ditch

 

12 - Distillery
I love this jump because it’s a distillery

From 12, we came back through that gate to the adjustable bench which when I walked looked stupid big. Luckily since it was set as 13 and we’d had 12 basically perfect jumps up to it, I just went, “Welp, here we go bud,” and quietly jumped it out of stride.

13 - Adjustable bench

Hah. More like I yelled myself over that damn thing. Literally was like a damn high school cheerleader psyching up an entire football team. He jumped big over it, but instead of going, “Oh shit,” and being unseated, it was this moment of, “Oh my GOD that was fun, I want to do that AGAIN!” Like.. there was air time. And I landed off it and galloped on and was like YEAH REAL EVENTERS.

Reserved and quiet, I am not.

Between 13 and 14 we cut through the arena to to the end of the course. 14 was this new jump – a big cut out table that had freaked me out the day before, but Doc didn’t blink at. On Saturday, I pulled to it, he added and we chipped which is a super fun feeling to a big ass table. Knowing that, I consciously added leg and Did. Not. Pull.

And of course, Perfect Horse jumped it Perfectly.

 

From the table around the back of the water to the left and a few strides to the last jump on course, a blue table we jumped at camp and the day before.

I came through the water on the line to the last table and couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I remember just sitting up and telling Doc, “let’s go buddy!” and we just galloped for that jump.

This was basically the happiest moment ever and my favorite photo ever

I was giggling like a little kid as we came over that last jump and through the finish. Cheering like I’d just finished a freaking 4 star. I was almost in tears I was so happy, as embarrassing as that is to admit.

That smile

We ended up being double clear XC (I didn’t wear a watch so I had no idea what our time was like – turns out we were spot on at 5:21 with OT being 5:41 and speed faults being 4:51. It was enough to move us to finish in 11th despite our other, uh… mishaps, but I could care less about that ribbon.

I don’t have words to describe the feeling of finishing that course. It was the most fun I think I’ve ever, EVER had on a horse. I’m pretty sure running XC is a drug because I’m addicted.

Only… five months? until next show season.

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Fall Harvest HT: Jumping colored sticks

 

After a… less than desirable dressage test, I untacked and let Doc chill in his stall for a bit while I walked over to watch the Training riders ride SJ. The trainer I was working with this weekend (Trainer C was out of town) and her daughter (who is like 12 and a better rider than I will ever hope to be) both had horses in the Training division I wanted to see go and I wanted to see how the course was riding.

Super thrilled to go do things

I don’t have a photo of the course, but it was bending line 1 to 2, left rollback to a vertical at 3, 5 strides to an oxer, right to 5 on the outside, around the end to a tight bending line from 6 to 7, left to a two stride on the outside set as 8A and B. The first four jumps were the same as the derby course we rode the day before, so I felt good about them. The rest of the course seemed to be riding well, save one exception – that line from 6 to 7.

In watching the Training riders go, I watched multiple people have misses or near misses at 7. No problem, I figured, my jumps are a lot smaller, I’ll just really ride for 7. Famous last words.

Think we went on this

I got him tacked up and we got warmed up – popped over the jumps in warmup a few times until I had a great one at the oxer and we went on that. He felt really good as we got into the arena and the bell rang and I was feeling great about the course.

Vertical at 4 and my leg somewhere around three strides behind us

The first four went beautifully – the distances were just coming up perfectly, he was in front of my leg and responsive, I remembered not to pull and things felt great. Down five felt good, he started to get a little tuned out, but having two corners at the end gave me exactly what I needed to get him back and set up for 6. So I thought.

No touchy 5. Photo from J. Nelson Photography

We went to head for 6-7 and I got so damn focused on Not Missing 7, that… we missed 6. Yup. Just completely went right of it. I can’t blame it as a runout or a refusal, literally my horse was going where I was aiming him. That just happened to be… at the standard.

Cool.

Second time’s the charm? Photo from J. Nelson Photography

Circled around, actually like, remembered to ride 6 and keep my outside leg on and whatcha know, it worked and the line rode great, as did the last combo at 8.

I promise I will tailor my coat before next season. Photo from J. Nelson Photography

Even with that dumb rider error, it was EASILY our best SJ round to date. We ended up with 9 time penalties so I think we would have been close to double clear if not for my dumb miss. I can’t be too mad though because it was just a fantastic round otherwise. Every jump just came up and felt perfect. It was like the culmination of everything we worked on all summer and fall and camp and everything else. In other words, it was the perfect setup to go XC off of because I finally felt the nerves settle and realized that we could totally do this.

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Fall Harvest HT: Dressage

The day didn’t even start at the crack of dawn thanks to a 10:27am ride time, so it should have been a good omen. I got to wear my sparkly white Animos for the first time! These were good things!

I have zero dressage mediaz so you’re getting random other photos

I made sure to get on with plenty of time to warm up, knowing he likes a longgggg walk before being asked to do anything these days. We did just that, then added in some long and low trots before moving into the warm up arena for Trainer K to finish help putting it together. I started to pick him up and push him forward and he responded well, adding in some canter transitions upward. The last few weeks have been a total breakthrough in our canter work – I’ve had some fantastic lessons where it finally (a year and a half later) feels like I can influence it in a positive way, as opposed to being an unbalanced lump on his back. He was feeling amazing and when we came back down to trot, it was even better, having now really warmed up. I had just enough time to let him walk a few laps and then it was time to go.

It started out with such promise.

The beginning felt good – he tried to get a little wriggly on the centerline, but we stayed straight and the scores/comments reflected both of those. A 7.5? I’ll take it. Nothing was perfect, but we were solidly in the 6.5s range, which is basically where I am right now. This winter is going to be dressage boot camp.

And then came the second canter circle. Beginner Novice B has you trot a half circle before picking up the canter on the circle – sounds great, right? I was feeling good, we had this. Well, I went to ask for the canter and felt him suck back behind my leg. Instead of taking a deep breath and adding some extra leg and keeping him bent, I panicked, saw E straight ahead and tapped him with my whip (literally barely a tap). Which earned me a sassy kick/mini buck and One Pissed Off Doc. Who was now on the wrong lead. I was flustered from All That, so it took me three or so strides to fix it and then it was basically time to trot. Well, now Doc was like, “Yeah RIGHT lady, you had the audacity to touch me with your crop to canter so now I will ONLY CANTER FOREVER.” Thx. Got dat 4.0.

Late to trot. Late to walk. Judge literally CIRCLED the movements on the test. Like, I am aware I was late, I was just trying to STOP CANTERING. Medium walk became more of a ‘wrestle-with-giraffe-in-corner’, to the free walk where I went, “Oh dear God, please just take this moment to RELAX.” At least that was a 6.0, a small flicker of light in a dark dressage world. Back to medium walk, with my Angry Llama who I am not helping with my tense ‘well fuck’ body language. Our trot transition earned the remark of, “prompt” which just makes me laugh because uh, yeah, he was ready to get the hell out of there so going faster was not a problem. It was also “hollow and counterbent” but really, not the biggest problem here now.

We pulled out a 6.5 for coming down the centerline at least and a final 6.0 because someone halted square. Needless to say, when the 6.5s are the HIGH points in your test, you’re not exactly going to be like top of the class. No worries, we weren’t. A 40.5? No, that is not the dressage court speed limit or the number of times this weekend I was told to bend my elbows. Yes, it is unfortunately our dressage score. It’s never good when your score is closer to ‘midlife crisis’ than ‘legal drinking age’.

Plz stop communicating with Murray via brainwaves

But! It was over and it was time to jump the jompies and we like doing that more anyways.

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The horse you bought

I’m nothing if not a follower of trends and since Cathryn started this one and I saw Olivia’s post… I figured I would throw back to my best girl for this one because retired life means you don’t get nearly enough attention. Also because she lives like 1000 miles from me, but yeah.

The earliest photo I can find of us

Lucy was purchased as I was moving out of the 11 & Under walk-trot division into the 13 & Under and later, the 14-18 division. We found her at the 2004 Pinto World Show, literally a paper ad posted on one of the bulletin boards. Over the course of a week or so, we rode her and tried her a few different times. The final time that solidified it being late at night while the baseball park next door set off fireworks – and she could not have cared any less.

She was only 6, but had been shown by a junior prior who decided she wanted a western pleasure horse. Lucy was (is) a pattern horse – equitation, showmanship, trail – and she’s a good mover, but she’s not a specialized pleasure horse. For me, I was coming off of a barely-15h pleasure horse who put up with patterns, but much preferred to hang on the rail in a pleasure class and was still a very nervous rider. I distinctly remember thinking she was HUGE and a huge mover – in hindsight, Luce is all of maybe 15.3 and moves like any average stock horse. Mind of an 11 year old though.

We actually didn’t purchase her at the show – negotiations stalled and we walked. I was heartbroken, but we went home and I kept looking for horses. Turns out, within three weeks my parents were back at the table and made it happen – and Lucy came home.

Unapproved helmet, stock pin and OMG THOSE BOOTS ARE SO SHORT WHY

Luce was basically finished when we got her, but what took a lot longer was for me to figure out how to ride her. She had buttons on buttons, but I also had the legs of a mosquito larva. Figuring how how to canter her was an ordeal, much less, you know, doing anything with it. Then came learning how to package up a stride that was bigger than anything else I’d ever ridden. How to ask for (and get) a clean change.

I don’t honestly think there was a button we had to truly put on Luce, except maybe finishing her canter and that was more of ‘finishing her canter for a 12 year without legs’. I was a really, really lucy kiddo in that way.

I didn’t give her any real firsts – no first bath, no first away shows, none of that, but together we had a lot of firsts – so much learning how to synch up, for me to put my hand down damnit, for her to like, not fall asleep in the middle of a pattern.

We showed consistently through 2006, then came suspensory tear #1 at the end of the 06 season. She was off for 16ish months and then rehabbed back. That was a learning curve for both of us – learning how to rehab. A good lesson to have that you don’t want to use. We made it back to show at the 2008 World Show, which would really end up being my last ‘big’ stock horse show.

Everyone is skinny in this photo which is the first indication it’s old

Since then, my mom showed her in some amateur classes here and there and she took a little girl from my barn to her first Congress in the walk/trot. I think she could have stepped into that job the day she came home to me, but I’d like to think that I had a hand in getting her to the point where she was the perfect pony for tiny legs.

Lucy’s favorite job (also LOOK you can see her heart marking under her belly!)

In 2011 she tore her suspensory for the second time and we pretty much retired her at that point. She hangs out at my parents’ place with her mini-donk Sancho and bullies him around. She’s still my best girl and I trust her more than any other horse in the world. It’s totally common for me to jump on her when I get home in a halter bareback only for someone to tell me nobody has sat on her since the last time I was home… six months ago.

She did more for my confidence and making me a competent rider than I did for her, but I hope she’s loving her cushy retired life knowing I’ve finally moved on to bugging another horse to go do things requiring energy while she naps.

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In which water takes a defining role

The end of summer brought some low key weeks with it (as if all summer hasn’t been low key, but…) around here. Doc and I went on a nice long trail ride with a friend a few weeks ago (where we played in the water), then Finny the Dog and I packed up and spent a week with my parents at their house in Florida (next to the water) where we did a lot of iguana stalking, crab chasing and reading. I’ll let you guess who did which.

We got home just in time for football season to kick off with a big Auburn win (yes, this is not horse related, I do not care, it’s my blog). And then for it to start raining (water from the sky).

#CFB

And basically never stop. I was pretty sure I needed to trade my car in for a boat this weekend. Instead, I lessoned Saturday morning, came home and drank pumpkin spice chai while watching college football all day. Not a bad way to spend a gloomy Saturday.

Lesson itself was good, but not great. We were just figure-8-ing over a cavaletti in the middle and I just could not. At the trot my body decided I was a walk-trot beginner. I tried (in no particular order): throwing myself and horse at the pole, getting behind the motion, acting like we were jumping 3’6″, falling on his neck and bouncing around like a disaster in motion. Cool, cool.

I love that this dork of a horse so much

I earned myself a lunge line lesson for that one. Yup. Reins taken away, two point on a circle, stand up, back to two point, figure out how to actually, you know, carry your own body. Weird idea.

So I’m like, cool, got this now. An exercise that most 11 year olds can do, but whatever. We’re cruisin now. Let’s canter!

HAHAHA.

Off the right lead? Great. I can do this. Look left, come around the circle, remember to sit up… and miss the cavaletti. Veer right.

Repeat 509349534 times. (No, literally it felt like that many times). FINALLY, I manage to not dive at it, sit in my right seatbone, keep my outside leg on and tap on the right shoulder and we, you know, canter over a 12″ cavaletti. Big accomplishment here guys!

By this time, by back is done. While it’s healed and I’m medically allowed to do whatever I want, I’m still so weak through my core that I can feel it get tired much easier/faster than it used to. A year ago, I would have pushed through it, but these days I’ve had to accept that it means it’s time to cool out. Riding through it either leaves me hurting for days after or just becomes unproductive. No point in really continuing to practice doing things wrong. So Doc got lunged over it to the left to prove to him that uh, he could do it, it’s just his uncoordinated minion who can’t.

The river was so high and moving so fast that day!

It finally stopped raining (insert hallelujah hands here) and was sunny and beautiful today. I’m (hopefully!) in my last week or two of funemployment, so I’m trying to take advantage of all the gorgeous fall weather we’re supposed to get here. Wouldn’t you know, I had an amazing flat ride. So much power and roundness from his hind end, really good canter work and some lovely transitions. I guess someone was as happy to have sunshine as I was.

I’ll be out of town for a bachelorette party the last XC schooling date in September here, but the tentative plan has us doing a CT and (finally) a HT in October, so I’m ridiculously excited and hoping things can fall into place. It’s been a non-existent show season and I’d love the chance to at least get out once before winter sets in and I have to hibernate.

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Riding a dolphin

There are two Docs: five-minute Doc and two hour Doc. They follow the 80/20 rule – so 80% of the time, I have five minute Doc who comes out ready to play ball and happily carts my butt around. But 20% of the time… I get two hour Doc. Doc who does not remember he is 17. Who thinks I am his minion and my input is unnecessary. Getting two hour Doc at home just means we work – a lot.

Last weekend weekend, though, we had the perfect storm of circumstances that meant I got 2 hour Doc… going XC schooling.

Even WTForecast decided to mock me…

It started when he pulled his shoe last Saturday and didn’t get it back on until Thursday afternoon. Nothing like a little five day vacay. Then, he got turned out Friday night without his grazing muzzle – and promptly gorged himself on grass all night long.

Add in some muggy swampy weather in there, a very spooky *empty* field next to the XC course…

I am v awkward

I spent the 2/3rd of my morning (sortof) reinstalling brakes. Including the one time we bolted clear across the entire back half of the course in some sort of Saddlebred American Pharoah impression that was independently decided upon without any input from the bipeds. I stayed on my the grace of Animo sticky breeches, God going, “well I guess one broken back is enough for a year,” and the willpower to know if I landed on the ground I was probably just going to send everyone on their way and lay there until I shrived up in the heat and died.

I had these grand plans after jump judging last weekend – we were going to school all the fun BN jumps! Maybe some smaller N stuff! Whee!

More like ‘canter through mud’ vs water but…

HAHAHAHA. We made it over approximately 4 starter jumps. The actual jumping? No problem. The landing and immediately deciding to go full tilt Training 450mpm? Not really on my to-do list. I have discovered muscles I did not know existed from the level of sore I am.

My water bottle was gone by the first hour and at one point I actually had to get off and stand in the shade, take off my vest and helmet and attempt not to throw up from being so hot. It was warm and muggy, but more, he’d managed to suck every bit of strength and energy out of me by then. I finally got to a point where I was confident I wouldn’t pass out off the side of my horse, got back on and we headed to the back side of the course (okay, front actually here, we went backwards). Where my saintly horse returned and was more than happy to go happily jump over anything and everything,

when snax appear at perfect height

Where were you an hour and a half ago?! By this time I was essentially out of steam and Doc was straight up drenched in foamy sweat, so even though we now had the hamsters back on the wheel to go do fun things, neither of us had much left to give.

Where was this horse all morning?!

We had a blast jumping around and through the water, did a baby bank into the water, jumped an inviting little BN jump finally and called it a day on that note. The second half felt successful, but the first half of the day was… not fun. At all.

Good for the stories, but I don’t need to experience 2 hour Doc for like… ever again.

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All quiet on the (mid)western front

If you think the blog has been quiet the last few weeks, it’s because it has. Because life in general has been quiet. First, we had an easy week post-camp where we did a lot of toodling, some bareback hacks and general summer activities. Doc took care of his favorite human, C’s son.

Seriously, he tolerates me, he likes C, but he LOVES her son.

Then, we did some dressaging – good, solid work, but not the most thrilling to write about… “Cantered on a 20m circle. Stop collapsing left. Trot transitions. Trotted on 20m circle.” NYT Bestseller, right there.

I volunteered and jump judged at IEA Leg Up Horse Trials last weekend and had a blast. They only ran three divisions (Starter, BN and Novice), so we were done with XC by.. 1pm? I hung out and helped set SJ courses for a while and was still home by 3pm.

I had this cute little combo, of which you only see A. Unicorn was double clear XC, obviously.

N jumped this to a rolltop as a combo, BN jumped this alone, S just came down the hill.

I had the fun jump of the only refusals of the day, but everyone got over and had a good time.

Doc promptly ripped off his shoe and half his front foot with it and earned himself a week of vacation, along with his nice case of scratches. Cool story, bro. I spent my birthday washing legs and slathering on Desitin, although I did turn him into a couch while we grazed out front of the barn. Because nothing says cLaSsY eVeNtErS like running shorts, tennis shoes, tshirt with who-knows-what on it, bareback grazing in a halter in the driveway.

Enjoying his vacation by refusing to stand up when he sees me and instead making me hold his head up… Um plz stop taking lessons from Frankie 

Just keeping it real around here so nobody starts thinking I’m fancy or something.

As of this morning, Doc has shoes on, my accomplishment of the week involved finding a brand new Patagonia Capilene top at Goodwill for $3, I am still interviewing for jobs and therefore have negative horse budget or fun budget or any other budget. But we’re going XC schooling Saturday, I’m now closer to 30 than 20 but still got carded this week and I only had to pull one stick out that Fin the Dog managed to get stuck in his teeth like the genius he is.

It’s a glamorous life we lead. I’m just going to keep pretending I’m on summer vacation.

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The Walk-Up Song

I’ve had this draft sitting here waiting to be finished for a while when I realized how perfectly it fit with the In Others Words hop, so I just kind of combined and threw them together and last minute cause why not?

It’s summer so the only sport on is baseball and while I can’t watch an entire baseball game without needing distractions, I absolutely love going to games at great minor league/college ballparks. I mean, I grew up with this one, spent many a college afternoon here, and a few grad school spring’s here. I love the food, the beer, the fireworks post-game, the company, the ability to sit and just relax (because there is no relaxing when I watch football come fall). But my favorite thing? Players’ walk-up music.

Not walk-up… but yeah, that’s one of my schools. #proud

Which, combined with the fact that I love riding to music, had me thinking – what if we got walk-up songs? Like entry circle in the SJ or waiting in the start box on XC? I’m 100% in support of this, just saying, okay?

I have a wide variety of music interests… like, I listen to a lot of different genres. And while I’m no music-hipster (I like Top 40 pop and Taylor Swift waaayyyy too much for that), I do have a talent for putting together a great playlist. I do mine seasonally, with additions for anything special. Mostly, I ride to whatever season’s playlist I feel like, but for this, I finally put songs together for a riding playlist just for Doc and me.

Explanations for 75 songs might take a while (too long) so I just pulled a few.

  • Nice For What (Drake): my current favorite trot set song – the perfect beat and in general I love doing conditioning work to rap
  • The Champion (Carrie Underwood): One of those ‘get out there, blood, sweat and tears’ songs. Perfect for pushing through no-stirrup work when I want to die.
  • There She Go (Fetty Wap): Okay, bear with me… this is one of my favorite dressage school songs. It’s like, make that shit fancy.
  • We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (T Swift): Reserved for when Doc is being a princess and I can’t deal any longer. Sometimes involves yelling-singing.
  • Magic (B.o.b.): Dressage. For sure. Trots across the diagonals right here. Makes me feel like I’m riding Valegro.
  • Good Feeling (Flo Rida): Warm up music here. The title says it all.
  • Taking Care of Business (Bachman-Turner Overdrive): Trot sets/conditioning work. Getting business done. To a fun beat. Singing included with package.
  • GDFR (Flo Rida): When I need a pump up. The last bit of two point and my legs hate me? Get psyched up before a big jumping lesson? This one.
  • Red Hop Lollipop (mash-up Red Hot Chilipeppers, Lil Wayne & Kanye): One of my favorite mash ups – totally a beat I would go out to XC with
  • Drake & Diane (mash-up Drake & John Mellencamp): Another top favorite and one I love dressaging to. All those DQs appalled at dressage to Drake and I’m like, “yeah, and?”

So, then what would be our walk-up music? I seriously can’t decide…

(PS if you have tiny human ears around, my playlists aren’t exactly… child friendly)

It could totally be Jump Around  – would there be a better pre-SJ round song?

But I also feel like there’s not much that says “eventing” like Tubthumping

Oops I Did It Again (Pulled to the Base)?

Nah, more like some Country Grammar because… Nelly. That could get us out of the start box.

Because there’s also a side for me that thinks if it’s going to be pump up, walk-up song, it should definitely be Drake or another solid rap song.

Then there’s the side of me who love nothing more than Auburn football season and totally needs it to be All the Above (yup, can still sing every word)

At the end of the day though, as much as I totally want it to be We Didn’t Start the Fire (life goal: memorize all the words), I don’t think there are a better first 20 seconds we could start to than the classic… Yo I’ll tell you what I want what I really really want

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The barn that raised me

I was lucky enough growing up to have my horses at home, right in my backyard. My dad built my mom and me a little two stall barn with a tack room and wash stall, later adding on a third stall and hay storage area. We also kept a lot of our daily tack in the trailer and just walked over there to tack up, so needless to say, there was no lack of storage space. (Sidenote: this is also why I never had a tack trunk and never understood them.)

Yes, dis my barn. Why you so interested?

These days, it’s just Lucy living her best retired life at home along with her mini donk Sancho. My arena is still there, but has seen better days. But the last time I was home, I snapped a few photos of the barn and thought they’d be fun to share (because I love seeing photos of other people’s barns!)

Lucy looking semi-feral and wondering where more food is

New Mexico means sand and sand means dust and dust is why our barn will not ever look like some east coast (or uh, anywhere it rains) barn. Luckily our barn stays relatively cool in the summers (perks of no humidity) and moderately warm in the winters (not that the horses take advantage).

Can we take a moment and acknowledge my horse’s stupid perfect tail?

Both stalls open out into large paddocks and then Lucy’s actually opens into a big turnout. She paces in a stall and will walk the fenceline into a ditch in the paddock, so she just has free roam which helps to curb it… some. She’s still a pacer at dinnertime, but she’s also 20 at this point and we’ve given up. We refer to her being out in the “field” but again… New Mexico. There is no grass. It is dirt.

Naptime is v important when retired. Also, NM in winter is not the prettiest unless you really love brown.
Sancho in his turnout, Lucy’s bigger one in background. Also, I’m totes a fashion blogger in this outfit.

Opposite Lucy’s stall is our grooming/wash stall – it has cross ties and then shelves for collecting dust organizing.

The aisleway leads to the second stall (really the first one because you pass it when you walk in…) and the tack room.

Door into barn in white, tack room on left, cookies in bottom left corner

 

Do as I say not as I do. Don’t ride your 20 year old retired horse around bareback without a helmet in her turnout. Also do not canter her while sitting backwards, you will fall off and nobody will feel bad for you.
And finally, our lovely trailer which doesn’t go much of anywhere these days. Arena opposite grey wall on the other side.

There’s the mini tour of my home barn, in all its glory. Sometimes I really miss having it all right there, but mostly I love being at a barn where there are other people and horses and friends to talk to and ride with. I spent so much time growing up riding completely alone or in a private lesson, that I really craved that social interaction.

But I do totally miss all my tack rooms.

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