Sunday, November 6, 2016

Puff Daddy and "Excuse you!??"

ANNE KURSINSKI PREP
The clinic starts on 18 November.  So far, my grand plan of doing ALL THE JUMP SCHOOLS with local trainer and perhaps even catching Stephen Bradley to prepare has not worked out.  Like, at all.  I had wanted to haul over and get 4-5 good jumping lessons in, to allow Soon and I to get our heads in the game over fences we hadn't seen before.  Unfortunately, the the timing has been bad and I only get to haul out to jump on new property over new fences maybe next weekend.  Maybe.

Great.

So I've set up some fences at home for the time being that are a little more interesting than just the rails we usually jump (XC fences obviously don't count here, he jumps those fine and this isn't an XC clinic!).  This weekend I grabbed some haybales and a flower box and constructed something fun, and then put up a Swedish oxer because I figured he hadn't seen one of those in awhile.  I practiced my counting out loud down to the fence (I need to practice that more), and also practiced my driving reins (already pretty used to that exercise).  Much to my surprise, he had to stop and look at the Swedish (!?), but he marched down to the haybale contraption and jumped it like an eq horse.  Ok.  Overall a very good and productive jump school, and something I wanted to build on for today.  Or so I thought.



Looks like he jammed himself up when he threw on the brakes to the oxer, as he had a little bit of filling in his right front ankle this morning.  Puffy ankle earned him the nickname of Puff Daddy for the day.  He wasn't quite right, but also not lame...after trotting a couple of circles I called it a day.  It wasn't worth risking jumping him and making it worse.  We'll try again later.  We iced him, put some DMSO concoction on it, and gave him a gram of Bute and we'll see if he's able to flat on it a little tomorrow.  I'm just hoping he needs a day or two and will be fine.  I'm already stressing about not being totally prepared for the clinic thanks to my Schedule of Madness....to play the soundness game would really put me in the nut house.

Assuming all is well, we'll hopefully haul out for a jump school this weekend and jump twice.  We'll flat and relax until we leave on the 17th and then it's pretty much in Anne Kursinski's hands after that.  Whee.


HORSES & HOUNDS AT MOUNT VERNON
Went to the beautiful Mount Vernon yesterday with a couple of friends to enjoy their Horses and Hounds event.  After a special tour of the property, we settled down to enjoy the fox hunt demonstration courtesy of the Caroline Hunt.  It was a beautiful day on gorgeous country, and it was fun being there with folks who didn't normally have the opportunity to see a hunt.

As we were scoping out a viewing spot, a lady asked me about the Hyde Park vest I was wearing (something that I picked up on my recent trip to London).  She asked if I had ridden at that stable, which I did (I'll blog about that I swear!), and she said great, because she lived around the corner.  Which seemed strange to me, because she didn't sound remotely English.  In fact she had the flattest American accent ever.  But hey, maybe she was an expat, what did I care.  Or maybe she was talking about Hyde Park in NY?  I didn't know, didn't care...It only got weird when we ended up next to her for the hunt demo.

She was facetiming a friend of hers (presumably in the UK, though she didn't have any kind of UK-ish accent either she sounded like she was from Ohio) and they were going back and forth joking about being in America and watching fox hunting.  "Can you believe it?" said the lady next to us.  "AMERICANS!  FOX HUNTING!"  And her friend replied "OMG are they using western saddles!?"



Yes.  Because we're all American heathens that run around in western saddles on little Mustangs and spotted ponies screaming "YEEEHAWWW!" instead of Tally Ho, and the huntsman yells "GET 'EM LITTLE DOGGIES!" at the hounds when they're on a line.  We also like to keep some automatic rifles on us in case we actually catch the quarry because you want to blow that fucker away big time.  Because 'MURICA.


My internal reaction was "EXCUSE YOU??"  And then I wanted to educate her that by being in Northern Virginia, that she was standing in the cradle of American Fox Hunting.  Literally...she was standing on Mount Vernon; George Washington is regarded as the father of the American Fox Hound because of his great love of the sport and his breeding programs.  I wanted to tell her that she could drive two hours in any direction and find some of the best sport this country had to offer.   World class horses, riders, staff, and territory all here in the Mid-Atlantic region.  I wanted to tell her that hunting in the US had a long, storied tradition of excellence. A tradition that I was proud to be a part of for several years.

This was my office for three years!

I also wanted to say to this lady, "I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHY YOU'RE SAYING THIS BECAUSE YOU SOUND SO AMERICAN RIGHT NOW I DON'T GET IT."


....But I didn't.

Because judging by her comments and her giggling, she didn't seem interested.  I didn't want to waste my time.  I also didn't want to let this distract me from the lovely demo that the Caroline Hunt staff and field members presented.  The lady shut up when she saw them, I'm hoping it was because she appreciated how traditional they looked, how well turned out the entire field was, and how impressive it was to be in the company of a working pack of hounds.  It was all perfect.  Even the rogue hounds and the Whips having to put in overtime.



Speaking with Caroline Hunt members after the demo

I get it.  We can all be ignorant of each others' cultures and traditions.  This was no big deal.  Even if the lady of questionable nationality didn't know much about the US despite sounding like she grew up in the middle of it, she got a great introduction.  It was lovely to see one of the greatest country sports just miles away from D.C.  What a privilege it is to share it with folks who wouldn't otherwise get to see horses and hounds up close.  It was a special day, and I'm glad to have taken part.

Even if we're all still apparently cowboys.  Fine.

'MURICA

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Was in a ...photoshoot?

Went out to the barn this morning, hoping to get Soonie jumped in time so he and his buddy could go outside on time, and then maybe hop on one of the training horses.  Ended up in jumping in a magazine photoshoot??

Literally me
...I don't know.  Someone was trying to feature the TB charity in some magazine or something something so a professional photography crew came out.  And lots of people in country fashion.  In all seriousness, the people were perfectly lovely and it's super duper awesome that the charity may or may not be featured, or at least some music academy one of them is associated with will benefit (clearly, I did not follow the explanation of why there was a photoshoot in the first place).  I am all for Thoroughbreds and/or music education benefiting from some pretty horsey photoshoots, so I am happy they came out and got what they needed.  Sharing the farm is the fun part.

But on that topic of country fashion, if you haven't read Amanda's post over on The $900 Facebook Pony on "equestrian fashion," please do.  Because after laughing hysterically over that yesterday.... TODAY IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

I will preface this with the fact that I used to see "equestrienne" fashionistas all over the place when I lived in Middleburg.  Particularly at the big races, where ALLLLLL the Washington, D.C. city folk would come dressed in fashion tweeds, faux riding pants and faux riding boots with their cute scarves and giant hats.  Either they knew exactly how they looked, or they actually thought that's what us equestrians actually wore.  Ironically enough, the actual horse people would either be dressed in dirty barn clothes (because, horses) or would be dressed in distinctly "normal person" clothing because it was probably one of the few days on our calendar where we DIDN'T have to wear barn clothes.  So you have the city folk trying to dress like country folk, and the country folk dressing up like the city folk.

But while we're on this subject, SCARVES...are we supposed to wear fashion scarves when we ride?  Who in the fashion design world decided that was a thing anyway?

I mean what am I supposed to do with this when schooling



So back to today.... Bubba and I jumped some fences for them to photoshop into the background while the crew gathered around one of the other TBs who was there to look pretty.  Then it was over and everybody celebrated with Veuve.  No lie.

Actually, I'm just sad I couldn't partake in the champagne because I had other horses to get on and had to turn down the bubbly.  I'm grateful that they offered, but I figured green horses and Veuve was probably a bad combo.  And at the end of the day, the charity got featured and I'm getting a free, professional jumping photo out of the deal so color me thrilled.  :)


Back to the actual horse stuff, Soonie was fantastic today.  He only hacked out yesterday, given that I felt like garbage and we both had a long day on Friday.  I did a quick review of what we learned from Linda as our jumping warm up, and he felt great.  There was no fight today, when I repeated the application of the aids as Linda had taught me, he came right through and was moving nicely through his shoulder.  He got to that good place much quicker and much more honestly than he ever had before at home; so far it looks like that breakthrough is working!  I tried to keep it short though, given that is working some muscles that aren't used to being worked like that for very long.

Since I felt like we needed to jump something other than plain rails (Anne Kursinski clinic in a couple of weeks), so I set up a 3' vertical with the brick wall filler, and a triple bar with the lattice gate.  He warmed up great and was perfect over everything.  Linda Zang was right, Soon jumped so well with our new approach to throughness.  I just wanted to get him forward and soft to some fences that actually were interesting to look at (which, by the way, were not that exciting because zero shits were given).  I intend to ship out one evening this week to jump at the new trainer's place, so today's jump school was meant to be light and easy.  And it was.

Additionally, the photoshoot nonsense was a great schooling opportunity.  That's why I agreed to it.  Any chance I can get at home for Soon to have to work around or through some distraction and shenanigans, I take.  In this case, it was a group of new people making noise, a dog, a dude on a ladder, a photo umbrella and flash photography, and another horse in the middle of that chaos - and Bubba had to jump into that.  And he did, repeatedly, with no issues.  Sometimes it's just about using situations as growth opportunities and taking advantage of them.  He was super all day and was happy to play ball with the circus in town.  I was super proud of him once again!  :)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Linda Zang Lesson and WIHS 2016

Watching the Jack Russell terrier races at Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) on live feed so I don't know how this blog entry is going to go with the distraction factor...

-SQUIRREL!-

So yesterday...WHAT A DAY! :)  Successfully hauled Soonie out to the ever-beautiful The Plains, Virginia to take our first lesson with dressage guru, Linda Zang.  My day started with a 0400 wake-up so I could get to the barn by 0500 to feed Soon, hook up the trailer, get him prepped and do a last check to make sure I had everything.  He walked out of the barn and straight on the trailer like a pro, in the dark, and we were on the road shortly before 0600 for our nearly two-hour trip.

For the record, driving a loaded horse trailer in the DC area during rush hour is the single most terrifying thing I've ever done, and that's coming from someone who is A) not a nervous hauler and B) used to DC traffic.  Seriously.  The buffoonery is absurd.


Here is where we were heading:



We got to the farm with plenty of time to spare and I was SO HAPPY I had sprung for a day stall.  Bubba stepped calmly off the trailer and walked very pleasantly into his courtyard stall.  I loved how he took everything in like a pro.  He didn't scream, he wasn't looking around for anyone or acting frantic.  He was calm and curious, and seemed to be like, "Okay, this is fine" after he had a look at his digs for the day.  Went right for the hay and I knew I'd be fine to go audit some of the other lessons prior to ours.

I mean honestly, this is PRETTY OK LET'S BE HONEST


The lesson went very well overall.  Soonie walked in the indoor, was pretty chill about the whole thing, but was very tense once we got down to work.  Part of that was on me because I didn't have him warmed up - next time I'll ask where I can school prior to the lesson, but it did seem like the procedure was to just walk in the indoor 10 minutes before your lesson and hang out until it was your turn at the other end of the ring.  So I walked in with 15 minutes to go, but the lesson ahead of me ended early so poor Bubba had to go in front of Linda Zang a giant ball of tension.  I guess at the end of the day, she saw us at our not-so-greatest (worst?) and didn't kick us out, so...YAY!

Sadly I did not get any video this time, but she gave us a lot of great feedback, lots to work on at home, and exercises that I can easily continue going forward.  She got me working him on a 10-15 meter circle, getting him to move through his shoulder off my inside leg into my outside rein.  I had to really hold the outside rein and block him running through it with the support of my outside leg, while also opening my inside rein and using it as an opening/guiding rein while pushing off my inside leg as the driving aid.  She had me tap him on the inside shoulder with the dressage whip to help manipulate him a bit there, and it helped.  It was a bit of a fight to get through his tension and distraction factor in the beginning, but once he got loose and more focused, he started to come through very well.  Linda was very complimentary when he finally started to round up and use himself.

The trot work improved quite a bit once we got going.  We had to work through some issues at the canter with him swapping out behind as he has done on occasion the last few weeks.  I asked why she thought he was doing that and she was quite frank that it was him trying to evade having to use himself.  Which makes sense, because the other trainer we had ridden with a couple times also emphasized getting him more balanced off the outside rein, getting him straighter and more through (much like Linda, but perhaps not to the degree Linda was asking for).  The swapping out started when I started asking him to put forth a little more effort to be correct.  Things were starting to click in my brain.

We essentially did that circle exercise for about a half hour at different sizes (10, 15, 20 meters) at all three gaits.  I had to ride him THROUGH the lead swapping nonsense instead of coming down to the walk to correct it (which was essentially rewarding him with a break for swapping).  Instead, I had to demand the inside bend and connection to the outside rein while keeping the canter.  At one point I was having to pull my left hand out to my knee and really push off that inside leg in order to do this, but once I figured out how to ride him through it, he corrected himself within a stride or so.  After a few changes of direction and more repetition, he actually got to the point where he was totally round and through, AND was extremely light in the bridle.  He felt SO GOOD!

It reminded me of that scene in Armageddon where they have to go through that 11.5 Gs in order to get around the moon and into smooth space...Soon fought and leaned just about as hard as he ever had on me and it was a real arm wrestling match for a few minutes, but the breakthrough was incredible and definitely something I can build on for the future!  He felt great at the end.

I will definitely be replicating this at home and taking to heart what she said about pushing him and demanding more from him.  He's so lovely and perfect and pleasant that I've lulled myself into this zone where I don't really push him, and only get a little bit from him and am happy with that.  He can do more, and I know it, but that's why I've been needing to ride with folks.  Thankfully the feedback has been consistent, as has the training advice, so I know the progress from here on out is going to be significant.

Riding with Linda was just as I hoped it would be.  She was tough, exact with her observations and demanding, but riding with her was fun.  She made it enjoyable, I could laugh at myself a little bit and open my eyes to what I was sitting on, and the progress we made in one ride was pretty incredible.  My barnmate has had the same breakthroughs with her TB after riding with Linda a couple of times.  I'm excited to continue with Linda, as well as our home trainer. Next time I'll be sure to get video because holy shit I want to see this goodness.

I got Bubba put away and once our buddy was done with her lesson, I got him loaded up and we went home.  He was a total pro about the whole day, which just builds my enthusiasm for more clinic adventures in the future.  Up next:  Anne Kursinski in November!

Good boy, Brother!

He had a long day, but at least we got home and he got about an hour or so of turnout.  My long day continued because after a quick-ish turnaround at the farm, I ran home to get cleaned up for Puissance Night at WIHS!! :)

I love WIHS, I'm just sorry I can't spend more time here when it rolls into town.  But hey, a great night with friends and a meet up with a college buddy will put a smile on my face any day. :)

I love this horse show
 The vendor area was chock full of goodness as usual, and per the usual I could only afford about 5% of it.  But being surrounded by beautiful, expensive things made of leather made me want to look at everything because TREAT YO SELF.


There were beautiful saddles, beautiful Barbour things, beautiful handbags I would probably never use but would look amazing to all those high class things I never have time to go to...

I could afford the unicorns-farting-rainbows socks though
 Special shout out to Model Horse Jumps and their ridiculously beautiful and detailed line of jumps for model horses!  Not going to lie, my fellow 30+ horse buddy and I spend about 10 minutes gawking at the insanely realistic jumps and all the things we really wanted to play with.  But we have young nieces so we convinced each other that we can BUY ALL THE THINGS and live vicariously through them.  But also, how cute are their jump picture frames?  Yes, I think I will have three.

www.modelhorsejumps.com

We pulled ourselves away from the tiny horse jump course and back to our seats to watch the great puissance competition.  McLain Ward and Aaron Vale tied for first by jumping 7' in the fifth round.  Awesome!  Here's the view from ringside:


We got our photo in front of the puissance wall thanks to my amazing college friend.  She is the best.  It was a great way to cap off what had been a truly perfect day.  :)

Monday, September 26, 2016

George Morris clinic means instant inspiration

Yep two of our horses/riders participated in a 3-day George Morris clinic last week in The Plains and it was pretty much the most amazing thing ever.

Notes are in the photo below, and more in depth discussion is in my 2014 GHM Horsemastership Session post.  The man is brilliant in that he doesn't say or do anything earth-shattering or new, but rather he sticks to the strict basics of horsemanship and riding that horses respond to.  The discipline and focus on the fundamentals of riding is what makes him and all his students so successful.  The discussion of the French seat vs the German seat was very interesting as well, partially because there were riders that exemplified each school and GM was able to illustrate why the French/forward seat (what our American Forward Seat system is based on) is so effective for staying with the horse.


George even hopped on one of our Thoroughbreds in the third session and just raved about the horse.  "What a horse!" he said.  Scotty made us proud.  I have always loved that GHM is a Thoroughbred man, and isn't shy about praising or promoting the breed and its great qualities as a sport horse.


The man.  The myth.  The LEGEND.

It is just impossible to watch a GM clinic and not walk away inspired and wanting to work hard on not just your riding, but your horsemanship skills in general.  It's also impossible to be at a farm this gorgeous and not think you landed somewhere in heaven and maybe you could just live in one of the stalls....

I MEAN REALLY
(Do note the stone floor veranda completely with cush patio furniture that I couldn't afford for my house and the super nice grill that probably costs more than my horse)


Also...I went home and Soon and I did the thing and here is some proof:






Sunday, September 25, 2016

Soonie learned a trick

video

...and it's pretty great.  He does it now whenever he wants treats.  Guilt level:  EXPERT.

Go big or go home

So sometimes when you're all "I should really start taking my riding more seriously," you skip a few logical steps and go straight to "Imma ride with Linda Zang and Anne Kursinski for funsies."

Still not entirely sure how that happened

Yep you heard that right...I made good on my intentions to start clinicing with the top class folks we have in this general area, and booked a lesson with Linda Zang.  Which I had already talked about, but it's one thing to blog about "Yep this is something I want to do" and then actually book the lesson.  Mainly it's the mild panic that sets in as soon as you finalize payment and you realize you're committed and haven't taken a real lesson in probably a year or so.


But it's all good...I had my first lesson with local event trainer last weekend and Soonie and I did very well, we like her.  Bubba hauled over to her place and was a complete professional about the whole experience.  Just in one lesson we were able to break out of our current plateau and make some noticeable progress on the flat.  Got a ton of compliments on him, the job I've done on him thus far, as well as my riding, so that's always nice.  We'll try to snag another lesson before the Linda Zang lesson because we need it...if not we'll still be ok.  I'm confident Soon will handle the experience well and I know we'll get a lot out of the opportunity to ride with a master like Linda Zang!

So then I went clinic crazy and decided why not ride with Anne Kursinski for three days up at Market Street in November.  Because...YOLO?


Clearly there will be a lot of jumping lessons between now and November.

In all seriousness, it'll be a great time.  Check is in the mail so I should be locked in.  Looks like three of us from the barn are taking horses, and we'll all do the 3' session all three days.  Also sounds like one or two people may come along to audit and help, which will be huge so that we can all pitch in to take care of the horses and then try to maximize the auditing opportunities for the other two sessions.  I am SO SO SO excited that I don't even know where to begin!  Riding with Anne Kursinski.  At Market Street.  For three days.

CAN'T EVEN


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Baby Steps

Had some very fun first steps in getting more involved with the Thoroughbred retraining program as well as our veterans program here...we have a military couple who are interested in helping to organize and get programming together.  I met one of them this weekend and I'm excited to work with them.  Their energy and enthusiasm is wonderful, and gives me renewed interest in making this program useful to our local military community.

I've also been assisting getting one of the TBs started over fences.  I love working with green beans, I love working with horses that need a slower approach to a solution, and I love being a part of the team here.  Baby jumper stuff is fun for me, and the farm owner sure seemed pleased to see the mare go.  She had a rough start after the track; ended up in a bad training situation and inherited a bunch of issues as a result.  So we're focusing on staying soft, encouraging contact, and building off the little things.  She's super sweet, tries hard, and is proving to be very forgiving in overcoming the defensive mechanisms she had to develop.

Good girl Baby Girl!

Also had a great jump school with Soonie this morning too.  We have a two-day jump clinic next weekend, so I wanted to be sure to put him over everything today.  He jumped wonderfully - I really felt like we had most of our mojo today.  He jumped well from the base, felt the same from the smaller stuff to the larger stuff, and I had just a blast with him.  We had a very forward three stride to a one stride that I did not attempt last time we jumped as the entire line was set up...I figured because it was so forward it might be a problem for him to take the whole thing.  So instead I had my helper put the first jump of the one stride down and rode the one-to-three (pole, one step to the vertical, three steps to the oxer)...first time through he put a stride and a half inside the in-and-out and then we rode a more conservative four strides to the oxer.  I figured that would happen, and came around for a second pass only much more forward.  I closed my leg and sent him, and he nailed the one stride to three.

We put the whole line up and he went down the three-to-one well enough despite the forward pace.  I do seem to have an issue getting him truly forward enough for open lines like that, so we need more of these exercises.  But bottom line, I'm very happy not only with how he went today, but that I made the call to put one of the fences in the one-stride down to simplify it beforehand.  Soon is awesome if he's confident in how to answer the question.  But if he's confused or lacks confidence he will stop.  I thought this would help him figure it out with less pressure, and I'm glad my instincts were right.  It helped to lead to a wonderful jump school and a happy horse.  :)

Happy Horsey

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Excited!

So many reasons why I'm excited...Soon's weight is looking better, his topline is back after a couple weeks of more focused work, and he's going like a star right now.  I'm getting much happier eating salad and grilled chicken/turkey every day, and I've been running and hitting the gym (weights specifically) regularly the last three weeks.  Starting to see some results, and this will only help my riding.

Turns out Potential New Trainer has Stephen Bradley and a known dressage trainer at her facility several times a month, so it looks like I'll have easy access to some excellent training/clinic options here very shortly.  I'm seriously considering going to the Stephen Bradley clinic at the end of the month.  Not feeling completely prepared for that (lack of regular jumping), but if my barn owner is going anyway and we sign up for an easier group, we should be perfectly fine.  We have a two-day jump clinic at home mid-September anyway so this could be a good opportunity.  It's supposed to be a little cooler this week, and if so I'll do more of our poles on the ground/gridwork routine this week to prepare for a potential lesson next weekend.  I'll try to get a jump school together while I'm at it.

And extra exciting news is that it looks like we'll be RIDING WITH LINDA ZANG next time she's available in town.  I can't adequately explain my emotions at the thought of riding with a Guru so let's just say:



On another note, we hopped around the XC stuff at home and took on the big roll top for the first time...he rolled to it in a beautiful, forward/open canter, and took it right in stride.  I felt him lock on to it and he felt LOVELY.  He felt great all day over the jumps and really seemed like he was happy to be out of the sandbox and doing something more fun.


He's so goofy when he's pleased with himself

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Making Changes

I'm completely distracted and singing Black Stone Cherry's "The Rambler" on loop so this post is going to be absolute Squirrel Trash, but here it goes...

Immediate Life Changes
I've needed to get serious about life for awhile now. I spent the last year in a job that completely owned me and I had no control over my schedule.  So now I have a little less stress at work and more control over my schedule (and no man to distract me), it's time for me to buckle down.  I'm simplifying my diet (eating cleaner) and getting back in the gym regularly - I need to be fit for work, but also because it will only help my riding.  I'm finally making weight training a thing (I'm usually a calisthenics girl).  I've also rediscovered trail running, and being out there surrounded by nature makes it a hell of a lot more fun than running on roads or the treadmill.  It's playful and enjoyable and I am totally beat afterward!  It pushes me without me knowing it.  That alone has me psyched about getting back in good shape.  I just hope to really stick with it this time.

I mean seriously, how is this not fun?
On the horse front, I've decided that I want to progress more with Soon.  I've reached out to friends and found a great trainer in the area who should be a great resource for regular dressage and jumping lessons.  She also regularly hosts clinics with bigger names, so that's great.  I'd like to do lessons twice/month to start and go from there.  I'm still not interested in competing, but I would very much like to ride with local greats like Jim Wofford, Linda Zang, Stephen Bradley, Joe Fargis, etc when they offer clinics, and right now I feel very unprepared to just go to a clinic having been without regular training for a year.  Soon is going great and was a star in last month's jump clinic, but it certainly showed that I need to work with someone who can challenge and inspire.  So while I don't care about showing yet, I do want to tap into more of Soon's potential, as I know this horse has a lot of ability, and discovering it puts a huge smile on my face and only reminds me of how fortunate I was to find this horse in the first place.  I have been content to putz around the farm (and I do enjoy just spending time and enjoying my horse), but I also enjoy learning and growing and would like to get back to jumping bigger stuff as I know this horse can do it.

...when he is, you know...awake.


Not big at all, but you get the idea
In the meantime I've decided to put my Big Girl Pants on and get more focused with Soonie's training schedule and actually act like I used to train horses for a living.  I'm getting back in to 4-5 day rotations with hill sets, pole/cavaletti work, flat schools, and jump schools (in the ring and XC) woven in there regularly.  He jumped around okay the other night for not having been over anything in the ring in about a month, but I could tell we were both rusty so we've done two pole/cavaletti schools in the last couple of days.  I think these are useful in building his confidence in finding where to put his feet, to read and think through a situation, and it is just plain more interesting for him than straight dressage schools.  I changed it up today and added two raised poles to make him think a little, and he went through it like a champ so I'll continue to build off this by creating more complex grids.


He also did the canter poles like a champ.  We've not done a ton of them, especially lately, and I need to work on getting him more forward and moving freer, so these are a big help in helping encourage that bigger, more forward canter as well as getting him more confident in deciding where to put his feet. 

I got so serious about being more dedicated to riding that I actually got up at 0345 on Tuesday morning to ride before work.  Why?  Because it's balls hot here and neither Soonie or I enjoy it, and prefer to work when it's cooler.  And it was.  And I'm so grateful for that flood light Bill installed, because it was still dark for most of my ride.  It was a great start to my day and Bubba really seemed to like working that early, but betting up at that hour is just plain uncivilized.


But we got to scope out the new tractor in morning light so that's good?

Long Term Life Changes (maybe)
I've also begun to seriously consider a major life (career) change and moving to central Kentucky.  I've loved KY since I first visited in 2009, and the more I think about it, the more I'd love to get a stable civilian career in that area, still probably in the defense field or other Federal agency, and be able to ride in and enjoy the Kentucky horse country.  I've been thinking about what I really want to do with my life, and it's no longer to be married to my current career and die with shiny high rank on my shoulder.  More and more I keep thinking I want to help horses, and what better place to help horses (Thoroughbreds, especially) than Kentucky.  This has been pretty much the ONLY thing I've thought about the last few days because a very good friend of mine runs her boarding/training operation in the Lexington area, and is looking at buying a new farm to move her operation to.  Photos of the property, video of her driving the tractor....all of it makes me think "IMMA GO THERE NOW"... I could get a cushy civilian gig and work 8-4:30, then go help her school retired racehorses in the evenings/weekends and ride Soonie in the bluegrass....I MEAN REALLY WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE ABOUT THIS SCENARIO.

How I feel about the idea of moving to Kentucky
That's still just in the dreaming phase, but over the next year or two I'm going to be fleshing out that plan (and another couple of potential options).  I do not want to get back into training/riding full time as I don't have the back or energy (or interest, really) for it anymore, but working with young horses and retraining TBs for fun in my spare time in the horse capital of the world sounds like an absolute dream, no matter what my day job is.  I want that.  I haven't wanted anything this clearly in awhile and I think that says something.

Meanwhile, I'm focusing on the small changes I can make now, and I hope to make time to work more with the TBs we have in training at the farm and giving the owner a hand with her new projects.  I can still make a difference, but do it here.

The view in Maryland is pretty damn great too

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Buy your very own (potential) Soonie!!!

No, mine is not for sale.  But one of his relatives is!

Tenmor - War Horse for Sale (CANTER Illinois)

He's a 10 year old Indiana-bred by Tenpins, with 75 starts (Stakes winner!) and over $200K in career earnings.  He seems like a sweet guy in his photos and videos (sadly, not much information in the ad itself).  And although he's blind in one eye, I would be willing to bet with his racing history, if he's half as personable as Soonie is, this horse would be a superstar for someone.


Again...if I could afford to keep more than one horse, I'd be tempted to snatch him up just because.  He has Soon's eye, his face, similar movement and history (although way more successful at the track).  I hope he finds a soft place to land.  If he's anything like Brother, I'm sure this horse is sound, sane, professional, multi-talented, and ready for his person to come along.  We're rooting for you Tenmor!!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Seven Month Recap

STILL HERE!  STILL ALIVE!!



Guess life just got busy and I got tired of blogging, but I did at least want to say that Soon and I are alive and well.  And of course...he is still perfect.  Still no competition plans, but I'm toying with potentially getting him in the hunt field this fall, and we're doing some jump clinics this summer.  I need to start back in with dressage lessons as well.  Overall though, we're just enjoying our time together on and off the farm thanks to our new wheels.

Here's a quick photographic recap of the last seven months:

We did jump schools in the snow

And took selfies on random 70-degree days in winter

And he fell in love with our new mini donkeys

And went on field trips

And looked damn good on said field trips

And educated kids about horse shoeing

And was the star jumper at open house demos

And makes me smile every day

And makes me so unbelievably grateful

Now that I'm out of the crazy last job and into a new position, one that hopefully is going to be less stressful and more predictable, I hope to be more involved around the farm.  I want to be more useful to the Thoroughbred placement program we have, as well as our new veterans' program and getting that going.  I have to fill a void from a wonderful relationship with a great man that came and went...throwing myself back into horses seems like a good idea to stay busy.  I know Soonie is there to pick me up and carry me through like he did last time...like he has always done.  Bless this horse!