Monday, September 23, 2019

10 Questions for September

I love these kind of questions so I thought I'd join in for this month!

1) Favorite Quirk Your Horse Has

Chimi rolling

Oh Chimi...he is a weird horse.... I do love that he hates peeing in his stall. If I leave the horses in I have to  make sure I get down to the barn so I can take Chimi out of his stall and into the grass so he can pee. He will pee if I don't get down to the barn in time or if he's stabled at a show but usually he'll try and hold it as long as he can before peeing!

I also like that whenever he rolls he flips sides by sitting like a dog and shifting to the other side and never fully gets up... he does it EVERY TIME. It cracks me up.

2) Three adjectives that perfectly describe your horse

Brave, quirky, and nosey. When Chimi's got his big boy pants on and he's mentally checked into the situation nothing bothers him. Point him at any jump and hold on!!!! But the quirky side comes out b/c he has some many weird things that he doesn't like or will set him off. He's also super nosey b/c he has to know everything thats going on. Dogs barking? Must go check that out. People standing in the aisle of his barn? Must stick his nose on someone's shoulder and demand to be included in the conversation. If he was a human he would be who you'd go to to find out what was going him Gossip Boy.

3) Plan your next ride- what will you do/work on?

Well right now I'm sidelined with a knee injury so it's going to be a bit before I can ride....but I guess my first ride back will be something simple. Probably just a flat ride and getting Chimi and myself back in the groove

4) Have you ever trained an OTTB? If yes what was the biggest challenge?

Sort of? When Marley first arrived at the barn I was boarding Gus at no one else had enough skill to ride her so I helped out. (I'm not saying I'm a great rider but everyone else was basically a beginner and barely did more than walk circles around the ring) She wasn't mine at the time nor was she fresh off the track but she was still very green and coming back into work after a stifle injury. My biggest challenge with Marley was her tension. She struggled to settle and relax when you rode her. Sometime we'd get it and OMG she was such a nice horse!!!

5) Have you ever groomed or worked for a professional rider?

High School Trainer and her group of students. We had so much fun riding and showing together! 

I did when I was in middle school/high school. The summer before 8th grade there was a group of us that worked for our trainer the entire summer(?) I honestly don't remember how long but it was great!!!! Though I will always remember my friend losing control of the golf cart and it went downhill into the fence and broke a board that was put off to the side for some reason. Luckily the fence part was fine so I don't think we ever told anyone b/c only a small piece broke off of the loose board that the golf cart hit :)

I did work for a professional in Southern Pines for a few weeks when I was 15 (only remember my age b/c I didn't have a license/car so couldn't go anywhere) and then I groomed at a couple shows for my trainer when I was in high school. Nothing extravagant nor for long periods of time but what I did do was a great experience!

6) Farvorite Horse and Rider combination?

I had to think about this for a minute but I think I my favorite combo is Sara Gumbiner and Polaris. They may not be on the WEG or Olympic team but after listening to her story on Major League Eventing I have so much respect for her. She is making a name for herself and working hard with a tricky horse but her on Larry and Allie Sacksen on Sparrow's Nio were the first two competitors to come through the finish flags at Kentucky this past year with pretty famous names going and falling before them. Allie and Nio are another favorite pair b/c who doesn't love a Connemara and he's running around at the top level as a half pony- go pony!!!!

7) Have you ever ridden a horse at the beach?

Yes! In Ireland- my mom and I went on a riding vacation and one of the days was a beach day where we just galloped along the beaches. It was so much fun!

8) If you could experience the equestrian community (i.e. ride and compete) in another country, what country and why?

Ireland or the UK. I know a lot of people have this answer but there's a reason!!! It's Mecca for the eventing world and there are so many events there. Though I wouldn't mind eventing in Australia either b/c it'd be a really unique experience!

9)  In your opinion what is a piece of equipment that is given unnecessary hype?

Standing Martingales. I don't get why everyone wears them in the hunters. If you need it sure, I totally get that but just b/c everyone else is??? That doesn't make sense to me. When I was a kid showing in the hunters someone told me that if a judge had to decide between two horses which to place first and one had a martingale the one without it would be placed first. Now that rule of thumb doesn't matter b/c all hunter horses seem to wear them. But why???? Someone please explain to me why a horse who doesn't need a standing martingale wears one??? I know if I was a hunter I'd be that person purposefully NOT using one and trying to win just to prove a point!! ;)

10) What was the first horse you rode called? Are they still alive?

hello 80's

Popcorn the leopard appaloosa my mom leased when I was super tiny. Mom had a tandem saddle and I'd ride in front of her until I grew too tall and would hit her in the chin with my helmet. Sadly the barn that Popcorn lived at when my mom wasn't leasing him had an outbreak of EIA and he was one of the horses who got sick. So no, he is definitely not alive and unfortunately passed away a couple of years after I rode him.

I love this picture- Popcorn with my dad, uncle, grandad and barn owner

Monday, September 16, 2019

Bad Eventer Needed Help

This weekend I was reminiscing that WEG was exactly 1 year ago. Say what you want about WEG 2018 but I had an amazing time. I shared a memory/picture of me scribing for Dressage and Sara from The Roaming Rider commented... "Do you follow the Bad Eventer? She is at TIEC this weekend and in need of jump crew tomorrow night if you are available"

Waving hello to my mom from the judge's box at C!

Hummmm..... I quickly ran through the things I had to do Saturday and then thought "why not?" I was probably going to go and watch anyways b/c I had some friends competing this weekend and what a neat/educational experience it would be to hang out in warmup? So I sent Bad Eventer a message and said if she hadn't already found someone I'd be more than happy to come and help out. She responded and I was set to help her during Saturday Night Lights!!!!

" warmup"

So on Saturday I headed over to TIEC (Tryon International Equestrian Center) to help Bad Eventer at The Blue Ridge Mountain Horse Trials! I met her at her stalls, petted all the ponies, and then off we went to warmup. And HOLY FRICKIN COW. That was not the warmup I'm used to at the lower levels!!!!! What happened to the cross rail, vertical and oxer that are set and no one changes them except to put a knocked rail back? Yeah apparently that was not the scenario that I had volunteered for! 

Doug Payne was the first to go in the Prelim division and Bad Eventer wanted to watch him go before she hopped on and warmed up. It was balls ass hot and humid even as the sun was setting (seriously- WTF weather???) so I don't blame her for wanting a short warmup! She came back from watching Doug, hopped on her pony, and then off we went to the warmup! 

Poison Ivy is really good at not so much

Warmup is always a bit crazy anyways but this definitely took it to a new level. There was an "empty" jump in the middle (aka no one was standing next to it) and she had me make it a small oxer. She hopped over it a couple times and then asked me to raise it up 2 holes. She kept saying "two more holes" until we reached Prelim (or higher?) height and then I squared the oxer and then it was time for her to go into the ring. When she finished with the first one she came out, met her groom, and swapped out for the 2nd one- BE was seriously one BadASS Eventer for riding 3 horses in such a short amount of time b/c I know I would of been ready to call it a day after just the 1 horse! 

Friends make horse shows more fun!
For BE's 2nd horse Britt from Red on the Right came out and helped me b/c she was also helping a friend in warmup (plus competing her own awesome pony!!!) and it was much faster raising the jump having one person on each side! Even with help in the warmup you have to be on your toes! There were a couple times that we'd be raising the jump and then suddenly another horse would be sailing over the jump as we're about to take the pole out of the cup! Besides having another person to help raise the rails you needed someone to watch your back in case another horse was on its way to the jump! I really should of counted how many close calls we had but it was easily over 5 oh shit moments! That and watching Britt's face as I heard poles crash behind me twice b/c Britt had a direct view of someone taking out the entire warm up jump really made me realize this was a whole different animal than I was used to!

After Bad Eventer finished with her 3 adorable critters (seriously loved all of them!!!) I stayed behind to finish watching the rest of the competition and catch up with Britt. It was such a great evening and a perfect way to spend a Saturday evening!!!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Chimi Goes to Camp

Chimi in the Big Ring

First off I apologize to the readers I have and the blogs I follow. My phone has decided posting comments is unacceptable and unless I'm at home reading on my computer I can't comment, no matter how hard I try. I've given up. The unfortunate part is I read 90% of the blog posts on my phone b/c I can't at work (stupid website blocking software...and lack of a desk job in the summer) I'll figure out a better way later... but back to this blog post about the one and only Chimi!!!

The Rest Hour Bay gang!

One of the perks about working in the school system is summers off. One of the disadvantages of working in the school system is summers off. But luckily enough in my college years I worked at a summer camp and all these years later I was hired back to run the barn and riding program for the boys camp. It's a great job, I get to be around horses all day, I'm outside hiding under protective clothing and big hats, and I get to meet great people from all over the world because my staff are usually from other countries. The disadvantage is lack of free time to ride my horse. The past two summers it wasn't a big deal because either I was injured or Chimi was injured so we both enjoyed having the summer off to heal. However this summer neither of us were hurt, just really really unfit.

Follow the leader is fun when you're not the leader ;)

Thankfully the barn manager over at the girls camp (there are 2 camps owned by the same family and are run individually but also cohesively) said "bring Chimi to camp! I need to ride my horse so we can ride together during rest hour!" And that is how Chimi found his was to summer camp. It has been a whirlwind summer and we are in the home stretch (just 3 more weeks!!!!) and then Chimi will be back home. I'll miss the rest hour rides with friends once camp is over but I'm looking forward to more than an hour to tack up, ride, untack, and hose off my horse! There are a few stories I'll hopefully be sharing about Chimi's time at camp but in the mean time enjoy a few photos!

"Staff Training" aka we just wanted to ride

Staff training in the Back 40

one of the rest hour rides where we headed out  to the mares' giant field

View from the geldings' pasture.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Spare Tires...

One lesson I learned last weekend was why you should always have two spare tires for your trailer

WHY?!?!?! My poor brand newish tire!!! Sidewall puncture...  bye bye tire...

Yep. That happened. No idea how, but either way when I pulled up to my destination I had one flat ass tire! Thankfully it was on the right side and I only had 1 horse in the trailer so hopefully the rim is still good to go?

I had all my tire things in the trailer so I felt pretty confident being able to get the tire changed and back on the road. Thankfully the barn manager where I was came out and helped me change the tire (he was soooooo much faster at it than I would of been!) and as I was rolling my spare tire over to him I looked down and thought MOTHER FUCKER. My spare tire is rotten!!! Yep. Damn thing had a bulge and the tread was splitting.... I ran through some thoughts in my head, "Chance it? I'm only 20 minutes away....can drive slowly on the backroads... no, thats dumb.... it's about ready to pop....Do we have another spare tire at home that I don't know about? OH WAIT THATS RIGHT. I HAVE 2 SPARE TIRES!!!!! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE BE OK.....YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!! BRAND NEW TIRE WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

And that is why having 2 spare trailer tires is a necessity with your trailer :)

(also side note another good reason is usually when one blows it might take out the 2nd tire or if you hit something that punctures your tire it's probably going to puncture both tires....ask my mom how she knows...which is also why I have 2 spare tire spots in my trailer!)

Monday, May 27, 2019

Cross Countr-weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

Chimi rocking out at his very first Beginner Novice at FENCE
So last Monday!!!! Originally this cross country schooling was scheduled for April but the weekend it was supposed to happen it of course poured rain and was rescheduled. Windridge's HT was fast approaching so the schooling had to wait until after the HT (b/c the rule that no one can school XC at the facility 30 days before the show) and then Trainer A was in England visiting family right afterwards. So the rain date ended up being this past Monday which truthfully worked out soooo much better for me. It gave me a good solid month+ to get Chimi really going and work on the things AT had us working on back in April at the last XC schooling.

I didn't get any pictures from the XC schooling so enjoy theses older pics of Windridge.  This is Joey and Becks in 2011? 2012?
I honestly didn't know what to expect. I haven't jumped Chimi over a solid jump since unknown time last year but I had been practicing over a small 2' vertical almost every day the week leading up to the schooling. Height is not the issue with Chimi, it's all about getting his brain working so I set up trot poles and random poles along with my 2' vertical to get Chimi's brain thinking JUMP without putting wear and tear on his body.

It must of worked b/c damn, Chimi was frickin PERFECT. We started out at the warmup area and I worked on adjusting Chimi's pace in each gait. He was responding beautifully and then we popped over the X a couple of times. Then right after that Trainer A said ok jump the oxer. It wasn't very big but was on the wider side for such a small oxer. It for sure was the biggest jump I've jumped since warmup at FENCE HT last in April of 2018!!!! I took a deep breath, relaxed my body and boop! Chimi sailed over it like it was nothing. After that my confidence grew in leaps and bounds and we settled into cross country mode!

Gus Pony and me jumping over the log between the trees circa 2012. This jump was on the course that Trainer A made up for us this past XC schooling

After popping over the solid warm up jumps we headed over to the water complex. At Windridge the water jump is basically in the middle and you've got jumps all around it. Trainer A had planned a simple course using the starter jumps (b/c the people at the schooling were all basically at Starter level) It started out with a red roll top, go through the water and then over a red coop thing with a log on top. Chimi and I ended up going first and Chimi SAILED over the little roll top, FLEW through the water and the proceeded to haul ass to the little coop thing and I check him best I could. Damn horse was feeling great and the little jumps were not stopping him!

Gus at WR 2012...The coop with the log on top...I guess it's actually a BN jump with the log...either way Chimi was like WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE over it

Trainer A kept adding jumps to the course until we had ourselves a decent 12 obstacle course built up. It was basically roll top, through the water, over the coop w/log, turn left and over the cabin, around the prelim corner to the log between the trees, around some other jumps and over the green steps in the shade, down and then back up a hill to a bright blue roll top, backwards over the cabin, to the coop w/log, through the water, and finish over the red roll top. When we did the entire course Chimi was on FIRE. I'd get him lined up to the next jump, close my legs to say that one and he never hesitated. Thankfully there were enough turns in the course that I was able to slow him down so he didn't run off with me b/c he was feeling so good. I finished up over the last jump with a grin from ear to ear. The jumps weren't what we were jumping a year ago but it didn't matter. My horse was back and it felt GOOD. I was ready to end there b/c we'd already been out a good bit but Trainer A was not ready to call it a day.

Chimi used to jump ditches like this! Thankfully he now plops over therm :)

We headed over to the bank and ditch area and I thought "oh shit down banks. Can I please be done?" We had the break through with the down banks last year but I wasn't sure if Chimi remembered. Trainer A looks at me and says "go up the little bank, down the bigger bank, and over the ditch" I looked at her like she was smoking something and was like "The BIG bank?!?!? That thing is huge!" She said "no it's not! It's smaller than the one you did at FENCE" I said "No way! They're the same size plus it's been over a YEAR since we did that!" So she said "ok fine, come down the little bank, over the ditch, up the little bank, and then down the big bank" She wasn't letting me get away with not jumping down the novice bank. So I took a deep breath, gathered my reins and off we went.

The ditch and bigger bank in the background (I know it's not huge, but I'm pretty sure it's on the Novice course?) This was one of the pony clubbers at PC camp in Juneish 2013

We went around the trees, and trotted down the small bank, Ploop! No big deal, We cantered over to the ditch and again Chimi was like ploop, whatevs. I circled back around, forgot I was supposed to go right and go up the small bank and instead popped back over the ditch like it was nothing, and then Chimi canter politely up the bank, again like it was nothing, and the I hear Trainer A call out "Just relax! Take your time!" I brought Chimi back down to the trot, took the biggest breath and went into zen mode and ploop! The next thing I knew Chimi had plopped down the novice bank like it was nothing. I had the biggest damn grin on my face and was not paying attention to where we were going and ended up heading back over the ditch at an angle, but Chimi didn't care. He just popped over the ditch like it wasn't there and got a million and a half good boys and pats from me. We ended on that note and I couldn't of been happier! To come out XC schooling and pop down my nemesis jump like it was nothing after a year off, well I can't even begin to  say how freaking ecstatic I was!!!!

Gus on the other side of the pond at Windridge

After this cross country schooling I really feel like we're ready for forward momentum. I want to get back to taking regular lessons and hopefully head out to some events this fall. Unfortunately Trainer A has decided to retire and isn't teaching regular lessons anymore. She still enjoys getting out and doing a cross country schooling every now and again but doesn't want to teach every week. 

More Game Face Chimi moments please

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Riding with Friends: Hunter Paces for the Win!

This past Sunday and Monday were some of the best riding days I've had in over a year! Ever since Chimi's 6 month vacation due to the Hoof Crack of Doom followed by the Never Ending Winter Rain I've been a bit out of fun horse related activities. It sucked. BUT FINALLY we've gotten enough rides under our belt that Chimi's fitness is mostly back and we've reach a place where we can DO ALL THE THINGS again- WOO!!!!

Picture doesn't do the view or trail justice. But this was out and about on the Hunter Pace 

Sara had contacted KC and I a bit ago and asked if we wanted to go to the FENCE Hunter Pace on the 18th. Sadly it wasn't at FENCE proper (bc it was Carolina Region's Eventing Rally at FENCE that weekend) but instead it was at this private trail location about 20 minutes away called Walnut Creek Preserve. I'd never been there before but had heard the trails were amazing and that we'd love it. So off we went!

Waiting for the start. Finn and KC just chillin
KC was borrowing my little guy Finn for the hunter pace and since I was scheduled to take Chimi XC schooling the next day I decided to bring my mom's horse Mason. Mason is a pretty cool guy and I was excited to see what he'd be like out in the trails. After some trailer issues delayed us actually leaving my house on time(grrrrr) we finally got everything working again and we headed out to meet Sara at the Hunter Pace. (Normally I hooked up the trailer the night before to make sure everything is working but my step daughter graduated from high school on Saturday so that put a major wrinkle in my normal preparation!)

KC and Sara did a great job of talking about the hunter pace already so I'm not going to hash out the same details (b/c I know you guys have probably already read about the hunter pace twice already!) but I will add a few other details :)

Nice wide grassy paths- perfect for trotting or cantering!

Anyways once we got there and checked in we waited for this group of crazy people to leave the start in front of us and then it was our turn! Since this was Eeyore's first hunter pace, KC was on a strange horse, and I didn't know what to expect from Mason, plus none of our guys were super fit and the temp was rising quickly, we went in the trail rider division which is a slower of the two divisions. This worked out perfectly because we could go at whatever pace we needed to to make sure everyone had a great ride. Out on the trail we  really had such a great time. The trails were wide and grassy in some places or well cared for dirt paths through the woods. We had plenty of opportunities to trot and canter and enjoy the day. Laughs and merriment were enjoyed by us all and we were passed a few times by riders and other times we overtook different ones. It ended up being a looooooong ride (about 10 miles) and as soon as we got back we downed glasses of tea b/c thats all that was left at lunch. We said our goodbyes and we went on our separate ways.

Some pretty mountain laurel we saw out on the trail

The next day I got a text from a friend who was also at the hunter pace and she said "Congratulations on your placing!!!" Ummmmm whaaat???? I quickly jumped onto the hunter pace series's website to check quick results and there we were- highlight in red for 2nd place!!!!! We were 28 seconds off of the optimum time (which you don't know, it's part of the fun and competition of hunter paces) So not only did we have a great time but we'll get a ribbon to boot!

Mason- such a goofball! 
And then the next day.... well you'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out how that went :) But to give you a tiny hint Chimi is a F-ING ROCK STAR. Gah I love that giant horse!

Monday, April 8, 2019

One Small Step for Chimi.... One Giant Step for Me

This past weekend Chimi and I had our first adventure in a really long time. And it was the perfect clearing of head space/gaining momentum/getting out of the funk and starting fresh! On Saturday we headed off to Windridge and went CROSS COUNTRY SCHOOLING. Though the jumps were small and we rode with tiny children and their feral ponies, the weather was perfect and it was a fantastic day. 

Proof that I rode my horse!

The Pony Club that I'm a Horsemaster member of (yay for never growing up!) had a mounted meeting with local trainer, AT, on Saturday. She's a pretty accomplished rider, and a friend, so I knew that she would be a good person to have eyes on the ground to get us started for our first time out in almost a year (seriously- this coming weekend marks the 1 year anniversary of "Dammit Chimi" and that was the last time we did anything other than fun trail rides with Sara before the Hoof Crack of Doom and the Never Ending Rain of Winter)

We met up with AT over by the water jump at Windridge and she did the typical "hello, who are you, what are you up to" meet and greet with the 4 of us. It was really cute listening to the kids talk about their ponies and say "we're jumping 18' cross rails. My pony doesn't pick up his right lead. My pony's herd bound" It was super adorable because they were really into talking about their ponies! AT was such a trooper and taught the kids how to do a half bridge and it was great to see the kids figure out how it worked and for the girl who's horse was a bit of a turd (ok a HUGE turd) when it came time to cantering she had so much more control over her feral creature by using the half bridge. It really might of been the highlight of the day seeing those kids' faces light up and learn something helpful! 

the most adorable feral pony zooming past Chimi- seriously wanted to steal him!!!!

Anyways after practicing change of pace and transitions we headed over to the warm up area where AT had us start over a pole on the ground. With Chimi she had me really work on his pace to the pole and not let him charge forward bc he felt like it. She wanted me to bring him back to a walk right before the pole and just walk over it to keep his brain in check and prevent him from charging at the tiny thing. She said that when she was down in Fla this past winter, the 5* horses that were coming back into work after their month or so off would spend a lot of time reintroducing the basics with poles. It was nice to hear that even horses that have run around Kentucky have to start over again and that taking your time to start slowly was the key to their success as they bounced back from poles on the ground to being 5* bound. 

After playing around with the poles on the ground she set up a tiny X and after everyone went over that a few times I asked her if she'd take Chimi over some of the bigger jumps. I wasn't feeling confident with myself after the fall in February and I knew AT would be a great person to take Chimi over the jumps if he did something squirrelly. Thankfully she obliged and popped him over some of the logs and he was perfect! I wish I had it on video to watch over and over again how she rode him to the jumps, but she gave him such a solid ride and with the prep work with the poles and adjustability on the flat he gave her a great ride and didn't do any of his shenanigans. I really took it to heart watching how soft her elbow and arm was b/c that's one of my weaknesses. I tend to get stiff and lock my elbow when approaching the jump which then creates a shit jump, gets Chimi mad at me, makes him want to pull more, which then makes me get stiffer in my elbows- basically a vicious circle of crap riding. 

Not crap riding- coming out of the water at The Fork
After enjoying the brief jump school (seriously- she was probably on him 5-10 minutes) we headed back over to the water to enjoy a splash before calling it a day. The kids were so funny because as soon as they got their ponies in the water it was non stop trotting back and forth! I took Chimi in briefly but the kids were having so much fun zooming around in the water that I just stood off to the side and basked in the happiness from a successful XC schooling. 

A lot of people struggled with this line- the flag came down many times and there were quite a few glance offs of the corner.
On Sunday I headed over to TIEC to watch some 4* action and had such a great time. The weather was perfect yet again, overcast and cool but no rain. I wish I had gotten Sharon White's save of the day on video b/c her horse caught a leg and lurched over the sunburst jump almost unseating Sharon  but righted herself back in the saddle and 5 strides later jumped a massive corner that was DOWNHILL from the first jump. I hope the jump judge sends the video of it into Eventing Nation or something because it was EPIC and deserves to be seen!!!