Monday, November 24, 2014

In which Chimi is Afraid of a Mini Horse

With fall in full swing and winter approaching way to quickly, I am getting back into the swing of things since I took some time off to plan my wedding, get married, and enjoy a fun little honeymoon! So now I'm faced with a pasture of fat, furry unfit ponies that are getting ready to head into winter. With predictions of this coming winter, and arctic air already finding it's way towards us in SC, I'm trying to get in as many rides in as I can!
Warm summer day trail rides of past....

So the other day in the cold (42* is cold for November in SC!) I took Chimi out for our first ride of our "Back to It" fitness program. We headed out to the woods for a pleasant trail ride (plus I don't really have a great area to ride at my house- the flattest part has a burn pile on it that was started by the previous owners and we keep needing to add stuff to it!)

I decided to go on the River Ride because it was fairly flat, good footing, and would be quick enough for me to get home before it got dark. So off I go on a fresh 17h Oldenburg who was excited to be out and about. Chimi enjoyed a good trot down the driveway and then we wiggled through the woods, down along the road and headed into the Small Field that would take us to the trail that follows the river. Well, the neighbors that live in the house by the river have 3 horses- 2 normal sized ones and a cute little mini named Prince. As it happened they were out walking/riding in the River Field which you can just sorta see from the entrance of the Small Field. Both the bay and the grey had riders and there were 2 people on the ground with one walking the Mini. Now to give you guys an idea how far away they were- I couldn't tell who was who. All I saw was 2 horses and 1 mini with some people on the ground. If I could guess how far away they were I'd say easily 1/4 of a mile as the crow flies. Again- note of importance THEY WERE FAR AWAY. Suddenly Chimi's head went straight up in the air and he stopped dead in his tracks and refused to move forward. I know that my horse has some unnatural fear of mini's but usually he doesn't freak out unless they're close. Prince was a QUARTER of a mile AWAY and walking the opposite direction of us! I did everything I could to get Chimi walking forward but all I got was a horse quickly descending into a full blown panic attack. Chimi was running backwards, hopping up, and shaking like a leaf. I knew I had to get out of there because I was by myself, the situation was only getting worse, and did not need to push the issue at that moment. Poor Chimi was so freaked out he couldn't even process that I was trying to walk out of the field (in some manner of control) that he just kept going backwards and looking around for the "Evil Munchkin". FINALLY after about 5-10ish minutes he blasts through the opening in the fence and we jog our way back the way we came. I let him open up into a controlled trot b/c he needed to get some distance between us and that "Thing".

REALLY Chimi??? They're so tiny!!!!

I finally get him calmed down and headed off towards the Grain Bins- the opposite way of the river and my intended plan! On our way to the grain bins we passed by my neighbors house and their 2 dogs were out. They started barking and jumped out from behind the trees to bark some more at us- Chimi could care less. He just kept walking. We head into the woods and up to the Hill Field with deer jumping through the woods getting away from us. Chimi ignores them. We then have a nice trot around the Hill Field , scaring even more deer, and Chimi just blasting around the field in a big trot enjoying himself. We head back into the woods and scare up even more deer and Chimi continues to ingnore them. I mean seriously- my horse is afraid of a MINI but doesn't even bat an eye at camouflaged deer and barking dogs leaping through trees????????? 

Fall leaves- somewhere in those woods are hundreds of deer!

We even spotted a 6 point buck and his doe-friend on our way home and it was like Chimi and the deer were good friends. We just walked by them and they watched us go by without taking off into the woods. I think Chimi did a little horsie wave as we went by. Heck I wonder if the buck comes and shares a blade or two of grass with Chimi at night. They could be sitting around at night talking about the weather for all I know!!!

Do you see the Buck? He's in the middle

But thinking on this- I'm glad my horse isn't bothered by the deer. There are so many that live near us that going on trail rides would be very difficult if he freaked out every time a deer jumped. I think we'll run into more deer around the area than we will miniature horses. But I do need to find him a mini friend so he can get over his fear!!!! My mom has a neighbor with a bunch of mini's.... Might be talking to her about keeping Chimi for a day!!!!! HA!

Between the ears 

Monday, November 17, 2014

SFTS Blog Hop- The Horse that Made Me

I've always wanted to participate in a blog hop and just haven't gotten around to it. So here goes- this one sounded fun and who doesn't like to talk about their horses???? Thanks to Stories from the Saddle for this Blog Hop!

I've been blessed with a lot of great horses in my life that have shaped my riding and made me who I am today as a rider. Every horse/pony from Joker to my current guys, Chimi and Marley, have had an influence in propelling me forward in my horsemanship, riding ability, and love of all things horse. But the horse that stands out as the most influential is Johnny, hooves down.

Johnny at Up and Over

I was 14 when Johnny and I started our relationship. I remember it was the summer of 1999- he was a green 5 year old and I was ready to step up to a horse that could take me to my upper level Pony Club ratings and one that I could learn, train and compete on. Even though he had been in training for just about a year, his personality was such that we could learn together and he would forgive me for my mistakes and I could learn from his.

Johnny at FENCE- Fall 1999

Johnny and I had a short show career together all considering, but in those 2 years I learned so much and my riding really took off. Our first season of Eventing was Fall 1999 and our last event was at Farewell- Fall of 2001. It was almost fitting that out last event was called Farewell! Between those events we went from bumbling our way around a BN course, to qualifying for Pony Club Nationals in Show Jumping (2000) and Combined Training (Training- 2001), achieving my C-3 rating, and moving up to Training level. We were looking at Prelim when everything started to fall apart.

Last show at Farewell- 2001

 The story of Johnny is long- and if you're interested you can read it here. Eventually a pinched spinal cord prevented Johnny from continuing on and now he is happily retired. He has a girlfriend named Ellie and the two are like peas in a pod. He's probably been a pasture ornament longer than he was under saddle but he deserves to enjoy his retirement. 

Johnny and Gus snoozing

Johnny and his lady friend Ellie

When it comes to my development as a rider, Johnny gave me the confidence I needed at that point in my riding. I went from being scared to jump 2'9" to jumping 3'6" courses. I went from thinking I was going fast at BN and coming in with slow penalties to getting speed faults at Training level. I learned what success felt like and I learned what defeat felt like. And I learned how to pick up the pieces and move forward. Cheers to Johnny for making me the rider I am today!

BN at Hopeland

Dressage warm-up at CT Rally- FENCE 2001

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Fanciness that is Tryon International Equestrian Center

I'm really having difficulty starting this post- I keep flip flopping back and forth with my sentences- they go from HOLY HANDGRANADS BATMAN! LET ME TELL YOU.... to In my hometown, boring sounding sentence to follow.... because I can't find a nice happy medium to tell you about the new Tryon International Equestrian Center that is basically in my BACKYARD!

Grand Prix at TIEC
The same people that brought you the Wellington and WEF that you know today have come together to build TIEC. So needless to say it is TOP CLASS. It has been a huge deal in this area, lots of people are for it, and just as many are against it. So naturally when a facility creates so much buzz the entire town shows up for the inaugural Grand Prix held at the new show grounds.

So many people in the background :)

For the first 3 weeks in July, Tryon was filled with strangers from Florida, Aiken, and various other places.  Even though it is still under construction, the barns, 4 arenas, walkways, horse paths, golf cart paths, vendor area, REAL bathrooms with flushable toilets (!!!!) wash stalls, etc were in place for what looked like a successful outing for a "not quite open but still having a show" facility. I don't know how the numbers paired out, and truthfully I only saw the Grand Prix, but it created enough buzz that it was standing room only. And the best part was FREE BEER!!!! Usually you have to pay a flat fee for an open bar but this time (probably to win over the public) there was an open bar and ice cream social- so everyone could stay cool and get drunk hahaha!

I truly can not describe the facility in all it's glory- it is something that must be seen and experienced for yourself! Their website does a great job of giving you a taste of what is to come and there is a short video too. I hope that the new facility only brings good people, more jobs, and benefits Polk County instead of turning it into another Wellington where only the super wealthy can afford to live there. The future is unknown, but until then I'll continue to enjoy my cozy little house and the place that I love and call home.

Waiting for his ribbon

The Mountains

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Some Pretty Pictures of Horse Country

I am so lucky to live in one of the most gorgeous pockets of Horse Country. I know there are different areas spread throughout the States that can claim to be Horse Country- but few have the scenery to go with the horses! The ones that come to mind (at least in my general area) are Southern Pines, Fla, Aiken, and VA. All of those are located in flat boring places. I hope you love pine trees if you're in SP or Aiken. I do agree that they have pretty spots within those communities, but I can't help but love the views I see every day while driving around Tryon Horse Country. So here are a few non professional pictures taken of the area. These pictures were taken with my iPhone so the quality and sharpness isn't near what a skilled photographer could catch with a really nice camera.

I hope you enjoy just scrolling through a couple of these pictures- I have more but have had difficulty with remembering to load them onto my computer. I also hope to write a separate post about the NEW very sexy Tryon International Equestrian Center that has just been built!!!! I took pictures from the 1st Grand Prix and plan to take pictures of the 3rd Grand Prix and hopefully more of the facility on Sunday. It is a gorgeous facility and I hope it is successful but doesn't take away the Tryon Charm with to many fancy rich people that buy up all the land and turn this area into another Wellington. I love what the facility could do for our community but I also worry what it could take away. Only time will tell! And back to the purpose of this post... pretty (ish) pictures!!!

Here we go....

This is the view from my parent's house. I randomly found it when searching through my pictures and thought it was quite a fun shot. I can't help but love the mountain views that are a part of my every day life. I don't have a mountain view from my house but every time I leave my neighborhood I get to enjoy a panoramic view of the mountains. What could be better than living in Horse Country with pretty scenery????

Continuing on the sun setting and picture taken looking at the sun theme... I snapped this one with my phone while waiting for jog outs at Eventing Rally in May. 31 and 32 in the picture were 2 of my girls that I was "chaperoning" for rally- aka they wrote my name on their stall card and I if I was needed I had to be on the grounds. It was such a fun shot and the girls were walking their ponies around before heading into the covered arena to jog for the vet.

This is a pretty sunrise taken as I was driving down the road I live on. I can't remember when I took this picture exactly- but it obviously was a day I was doing something with horses b/c that's about the only reason I'll get up super early and see a sunrise. Ok there might be other reasons but they're so few and far between that they don't count- horses are the main reason I see sunrises!!!

An ear photo of the big guy Chimi. Fun fact- during this picture taking session (b/c I tend to take 1million photos and then delete the bad ones) I was bitten/stung by a flying ant and my finger swelled to most annoying proportions! Also this was the trail ride with quite a lot of wildlife viewings- we saw a hawk on the way to this field, a turkey in the field, a flying ant that bit me (grrr) probably some deer (it's normal to see 20-60 deer at sunset in my neighborhood) and then a white creature lurking in the woods. This white creature turned out to be none other than my dog Jello who had wiggled her way through the dog proof fence and followed our scent (I guess?) and met us on the trail. I'm sure she would like you to believe she was worried about us but I guarantee she was out hunting and then tried to look all innocent when we found her! Bad dog :)

Another Ear photo of Chimi. Here we took a stroll down to the river and had a nice hack. There are mowed paths through the tall grass that criss cross back on each other- you can easily create figure 8's and have a nice trot and canter on soft, flat ground. It's also fun b/c if you go at the right time of day (dusk to be more specific) you can work on despooking your horse! The last time I took Chimi down to the river we saw 10ish deer jumping out of the tall grass as we approached. The grass is so tall right now (not when this picture was taken) that you don't see there deer until they leap up in the air and take off. As state before- great lessons in despooking!!!!

That is it for now- until the next post!!!!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Double the Love...and Trouble!

I haven't participated in a Blog Hop before but two of my friends, She Moved to Texas and House on a Hill wrote great blog hops about loving the one you're with from Viva Carlos. I've got two horses in my full time care that are "mine" (I say with quotes b/c there are 4 horses that are a part of my family and live with me, but I only regularly ride 2 of them) Since I've been an neglectful blogger (oops!) I haven't mentioned the newest member of my horsey family, nor have I mentioned that I bought a horse farm in December ... about that....well I guess now is as good of a time as ever to introduce the horses in a blog hop!

Cool Marlene- OTTB (raced 6 times)
aka Marley, The Grey Ghost, and Princess

You all know some of the adventures of Marley, I have written a little bit about her on this blog so lets start with her. Reasons I love Marley:

She's fearless- no joke- a huge tree can fall down while we're cooling out on a loose rein, she doesn't care, an owl eating a snake 10 feet in front of her flies off, she doesn't care, take her out on trail rides by herself or in a group, either one is fine with her. She has the best brain of any horse I've ever ridden in my life. She takes everything in stride and is not bothered by much.

She's super sensitive- I'm becoming a much better rider because she can feel the slightest change in my position. In order to help her perform at her best, I have to ride at my best.

Marley loves to jump- we haven't been able to do much jumping recently, but when I do jump her, I'm not worried about her not wanting to jump!!! Watch out because she will go if you maybe think you might sort of kinda want to jump that jump over there!

She's smart. She's a quick learner and if she doesn't understand the question at first she'll have it figured out in the 2nd or 3rd trip through. 

She's the kindest horse ever. I really don't know how to describe it, but she is just kind. She's not a very "loud" horse, she doesn't demand attention, she's got great ground manners, doesn't neigh that much, she's curious without being rude, and the best way to describe Marley really is using the word kind. This is why I call her Princess because she acts how I would imagine a fairy tale princess being,  courageous and strong when need be, but gentle hearted and kind to all of the people in the realm. Plus she's pretty :)

Chimi Chonga- Oldenburg
aka Chimi, German Burrito horse, Chim-chim-in-ee (chim-chim-sheroo- cue in Mary Poppins chimney sweepers)
May 2013- right after I got him

Chimi is a big ass Oldenburg- he's 17ish hands tall and wears a 56" girth when he's fattish or skinnier. I'll write more on him later b/c I'm aiming him at his first show in May and hopefully there will be more pictures of him!

Things to love about Chimi:

He's a beast! He takes up my leg and then some! I have never ridden a horse with a well sprung barrel- every horse has been slab sided and the fact that when I put my leg on there is a barrel instead of air is a breath of fresh... air! hahaha

He's extremely athletic- I saw a video of him jumping a 6ft jump like it was child's play.  I haven't come anywhere close to jumping that height with him (he's basically had a year off with some light riding thrown in there) as I'm just now bringing him back into work after a year of "detox" (solving nutrition, feet, and saddle issues). But when this guy is fit- oh heck yeah!

He's silly! Every morning I'll look out my window and watch Chimi play tag with Finn. They are such goof balls constantly chasing each other around the pasture in the morning before breakfast. 

He's pretty brave too- I took him out for a solo ride the other day and he didn't blink an eye at the millions of deer we saw. They were jumping through the woods and even then he didn't seem to be bothered. 

He's a bit of a ham- loves attention!

And of course I'm still crazy in love with the Gus Pony- he may not be living with me but I still think of him as half mine ;) So in an ode to Gus- here are some things to love about him...

He's a pocket pony- loves attention from anyone. If you rub his ears he will love you forever

He's damn cute! He has the pony face on horse legs so my tall self could ride a pony!!!

His heart shaped star- I love his markings- and the little paint dribble down his nose...

How much I enjoy riding him. 
photo by Erik Olson
Ok! That's it for this blog post!!!