Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2010's Photo Challenge and an Update on Things I Should of Blogged About

This has been such a fun blog hop! Thanks Emily for coming up with this idea. I've loved reading everyone's decade and had to share my own. Lots of memories... plus I realized I had "written" (either in my head or saved as a draft forever...) and never posted many happenings over the past 10 years. I really have mad props to those that are able to get a blog post out on a regular or semi regular basis!

2010- I was living in Charlotte trying to figure out my life and see if I could make horses work in it. I was leasing a horse named Liaison at the beginning of the year but after my lease ran up with him in August I decided it'd be more fun to take on a project pony. That's when I "stole" my mom's horse Gus from her. She had gotten him in March b/c his owner couldn't get him sound and the poor guy had spent a year and a half on stall rest with a torn suspensory that just wasn't healing. My mom loves a challenge and bought him for $1 (after consulting with her vet friend who had some ideas) and basically pulled his shoes and turned him out for a couple months. Once he was sound she started riding him and he really was to much horse for her at the time. So that's when I took him and thought I could make an eventer out of him.

Cuddles with the Pocket Pony aka Gus 

2011- This was a really big year for Gus. It started out with us being eliminated at a schooling horse trials in February. Partly b/c I had taken him to the facility the week before to get a jump school in and there were zebras in the paddock right next to the SJ ring. They freaked Gus out but he was a good boy and jumped everything while keeping a very watchful eye on those smelly horse eaters. When we got to the show they had put the zebras up but Gus KNEW they were hiding somewhere and I couldn't get him anywhere near the jumps at the end of the ring where the zebra paddock was. So we were eliminated over a tiny X. But it was a good thing because it made me get help and we started taking lessons from a local HJ trainer that I really liked and respected. He was the biggest change to Gus's jumping confidence and helped me ride my pony better. From there I took Gus to Dressage Rally (Pony Club's version of a show and I was a Horsemaster aka Pony Club for Adults) and we cleaned up at Training level. Oops. Sorry kiddos, my pony could lay down a dressage test. We got 70 somethings for the dressage tests and then kicked ass and took names at the Training Level Freestyle where we got an 82%. I'm not the best dressage rider but Gus was a fantastic lower level dressage horse thanks to a really solid foundation that his previous owner had put on him.

I'd been waiting to use this music since 1999 when we played Overture to Chorus Line in band class. I tried to dress Gus up so those "spots" you see on his bum were star stickers- Broadway music means Broadway star!

After that we went to a Rebecca Howard clinic at The Fork and had a pretty successful weekend overall. It was Gus's first real XC schooling and we did banks, ditches, water, jumps into and out of water, and various other things. We kept up with lessons over the summer, went to a jumper show in October and then moved to SC in November.

When he jumped he was cute!

2012- Living in SC I was traveling a lot for my job so didn't really have time to show. Did head back to Dressage Rally to try my hand at First Level and had a very respectable showing, getting 64? 65ish%? I really don't remember but was very happy with it. That summer I took Gus to Windridge for their schooling HT and did really well. Oh! And OMG how could I forget??? In my quest to make Gus the best all around horse ever he cleaned up with a tiny rider in the Walk Trot division at a local all around show series. Little Becks rode Gus in the AM in the english divisions and then I took him barrel racing in the afternoon. HAHA. OMG we were so slow but it was so much fun! Also started riding Marley this year. She was sort of in the background of Gus b/c she wasn't my horse at the time.   (Hell, Marley's never really been my horse, I just sort of became her caretaker and attempted to do something with her)

Walk Trot in the morning...

Barrel racing in the afternoon!!

2013- This was the year of change. Was trying to juggle 2 horses, Marley and Gus, and work at the same time. Marley went to the Ralph Hill clinic in January and Gus went to his first recognized horse trials in April at FENCE. While we did really well on paper (4th overall in an open BN division of 20+ riders) something wasn't right. Trainer AM looked at me in my eyes and told me that if I wanted to do more than BN I needed a new horse. She was right. Gus just didn't have it in him to easily jump the bigger fences. If Gus nailed the perfect take off spot he could easily jump 3'+ but in eventing you need a scrappy horse and he just wasn't scrappy enough over 2'6". This lead me to finding Chimi just a few weeks later. I really wasn't looking but future husband found him and said "Try him" so I did and he came home with me :) He ended up spending that first summer and fall standing around in my pasture b/c he kept throwing shoes and going lame. It was just bad luck and a bad farrier (seriously-  a bad farrier can screw up your horse in 1 cycle that takes a good farrier months to fix. It's craptastic) Took Marley to a schooling horse trial, dressage was terrible, ok in stadium, and amazing XC. Then she broke herself that fall and started her career as a pasture ornament (long story short, old injury that just got worse over time. Tried everything) Future Husband and I bought a house and moved in together and he proposed that winter.

My favorite picture ever of Gus

Marley at her only event ever

The day I got Chimi

2014- After struggling with trying to fix Marley all winter and spring, decided to take Chimi Starter at Windridge for this Spring HT and it was fantastic. I honestly was scared shitless going into the show b/c I had about 2 weeks to prep for the show from the time that I entered and Chimi's jumping was...well... uhhh... questionable at best. But it worked out in the end and on XC I felt Chimi's brain click over and go OHHHH..... THIS SHIT IS FUN.... LETS GO FASTER and I had a potential eventer on hand! Mom and I went to WEG in Normandy with some friends and had a blast. Showing was put on hold b/c of wedding plans Future Husband and I got married in November and that basically wrapped up that year.

WEG 2014- it was a blood/mud bath of a course but it was gorgeous!!!

2015- Chimi and I competed at BN that Spring at FENCE and Windridge and then I twisted my knee in June and when I was healed enough from that he bucked me off in August and hurt my back so any hopes of a fall season were quickly dashed. But in the middle of those injuries I went to Iceland on a riding trip and had a blast riding Icelandic horses! If you've ever thought about doing this DO IT. I have never laughed so hard while riding until I rode an Icelandic horse. Their mane. Their gaits. Their size. Best vacation ever.

Tolting through Iceland

2016- Chimi and I came out swinging. The American Eventing Championships were basically in my back yard at Tryon International Equestrian Center and I had been dreaming of competing at them since 2003. I was hell bent on qualifying and going that year. I also had planned to get a sneak peak at the XC course at TIEC and qualified for Pony Club Championships that were also being held at TIEC in July. We did both and had a pretty successful showing. At the AEC's we technically had a refusal on XC at the water but I know it had nothing to do with the water and everything to do with Chimi's claustrophobia. All the levels (BN through Advanced went through the tiny water complex and Chimi freaked out at how close the jumps were to him. Oh well. That did put us just out of the ribbons in 13th place but honestly I was so happy with how he handled the electric atmosphere that weekend and we had a blast. We ended the year with the Lucinda Green Clinic where we jumped A LOT of skinnies.

Instead of a picture you get a video: started it at XC b/c dressage is boring- plus its fun to watch Chimi spook at everything in the first half and him run away with me in Stadium

2017- We had a fantastic start testing the waters at Novice in the spring and hit our stride with 2 successful outings at The Fork and FENCE. I had plans of competing at the AEC's again but this time at Novice so needed another outing and planned to go to River Glen. Apparently that wasn't going to be b/c Memorial Day Weekend I injured my knee (again- ugh old injury that I kept re-injuring)  and was out the rest of the summer. Towards the end of summer I found out I had qualified for the AEC's but at BN (apparently they counted Pony Club Champs in 2016 as a qualifying score so that gave me the 2nd score I needed) and I thought heck why not? In hind sight I wish I had saved the money and just gone to spectate b/c with my knee injury we weren't quite ready. Sure we survived and were fine but neither of us were on point. I decided to spend the fall getting legged up so that we could come out swinging again in the spring and maybe head to a Novice 3 day???? Chimi had other plans and blew a nasty abscess out of his cornet band and had the fall off. With Chimi lame my trainer offered her semi retired eventer for me to ride in the Karen O'Connor clinic. Joe was amazing and I probably got more out of riding him in the clinic than I would of riding Chimi.

Joe teaching me how to ride all over again

On a sadder note we had to put down Gus in September. I wrote so many blog posts abut this and ended up deleting them b/c they all turned into lengthy sagas about how wonderful he was. In the end a rare form of cancer ate away at his body and he no longer could process nutrients in food and wasted away. He was cheery and snuggly all the way to the end and let us know when it was time.  I will forever love that creature for everything he did.

My 2nd favorite picture of Gus

2018- This was the year of Damn it Chimi. Basically Chimi and I took an unplanned year off. It started with me trying to qualify for the Novice 3 day at Heart of the Carolinas. Winter was shit so we spent a lot of time road riding. This gave my barefoot horse a stone bruise and a new set of shoes. But with the time off to heal the bruise we weren't ready fitness wise for the 3 day. So rerouting we were going to have a spring season at Novice and I fell off at jump 1 on XC at FENCE's spring HT. The best part is I caught it all on helmet cam! If you're going to fall off it's better to have video evidence to laugh at later on! Just a few weeks after FENCE Chimi cracked his back left foot and was lame until November.

2019- Winter was shitty and wet so we didn't get back into regular riding until spring. No shows, but had a couple of fun XC outings and it was nice riding again. Chimi went to camp and took a few campers for joy rides around the Big Ring. Then in November we headed to Stable View's Eventing Academy, schooled their XC and stadium on Saturday, and competed in the Beginner Novice Combined Test on Sunday. I wasn't sure what to expect and other than Chimi losing his shit in the barn he was a super star and it was a great way to knock the dust off. (This has been a blog post collecting dust in my drafts...) Since then we've been riding whenever we get the chance and hope to head back out to a few events next spring. We'll see what happens though but my fingers are crossed!

Chimi's got wings! Camper learning what it's like to ride a Flying Burrito

And that was my decade! Looking forward to what 2020 and beyond will bring!

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 on...call 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!!!!

"....in 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 selfies....me 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!!! 

Thursday, February 28, 2019


Blue skies!!! And a tiny looking Marley galloping around the pasture

Well this was not the post I was hoping to write when I tacked my horse up Tues afternoon! But things don't always go to plan, especially when dealing with horses.

I was pretty excited to be out riding on Tues. My ring was dry, the weather was warm, and I was trying to get Chimi and myself ready for our first outing since April of 2018. FENCE is hosting a XC schooling day this coming Sunday (weather permitting) and I had signed up with my trainer to go. I figured we'd just bop around some of the Starter/Beginner Novice jumps and see how it goes. I'm still working on building my fitness so I really wanted a fun low key outing and couldn't wait. HA. HA. HA. Damnit.

My birthday present! It is now hanging up in my barn :)

My ride started out really nice though. Finn's leaser, T, was there too and we both were supposed to go schooling together on Sunday. It was nice having someone to ride with even if we were just tooling around the ring. After having a wonderful warmup I asked her if she wanted me to put a jump up in the arena so that we could both pop over something before Sunday. She hasn't been able to ride Finn a lot this winter so she gladly said yes and I hopped off and gave her Chimi to hold while I put out a jump. I decided we should have two jumps, one a regular poles and standards and the the 2nd one the white plastic boxes I have. Both were honestly about 2' so nothing difficult and something pretty basic to get us started.

T popped over the jumps first while I climbed back onto Chimi and after a quick trot and canter around the ring I headed for the regular standard jump and it was fantastic! Chimi perked his ears forward and popped over the jump like it was nothing. I went over it a few more times and all was pretty good. He was trying to do his stupid canter right before the jump like he did in the early days which for him is an evasion. It's a lot to describe and I don't even think I can word it correctly for you guys to understand how he feels when he does it but just know it's him being a bit of a "know it all" and he tends to lose focus on what's right in front of his face so things will surprise him b/c he was to busy "knowing things". I had it mostly under control, but definitely not fixing the problem over the pole jump and again the jumps were so small I really didn't think anything of it. I was just so excited to be jumping again that I just let it slide. Famous last thoughts.

I turned to the white boxes and that was it. The next thing I remember is feeling pain on my face, a cramp in my calf, and I'm just laying there on my back on the ground hearing T call out if I was ok. I called back "I'm fine just give me a second!" and I laid there for a bit going through a mental checklist of where I was hurting and how bad. I have no visual remembrance of any of this. I know what I said, I know what I felt but I couldn't tell you what I saw. I could see but it didn't compute into my memory. I remember standing up, looking at the ground, feeling sand in my pants, and talking to T. I told her I'm not ok, I can't get back on, I think I have a concussion, and can you please take Chimi over the jump because I can't do it. It wasn't because I was scared, I knew I was seriously enough hurt and getting back on would of been a mistake.

 I don't really remember what happened next. I can assume that I held Finn for her while she hopped on Chimi but I was lost somewhere in a mental cloud trying to think about where my Arnica was and having some sort of weird dream while I was standing there. It's kinda of a weird feeling thinking back on it and honestly feels more like a dream than a reality. Honestly I feel like I had a dream while I was laying on the ground and then again when I was holding Finn. Couldn't tell you what the dream was about but you know that feeling you have when you wake up and you don't remember what you dreamt but you know you had a dream? Yeah I had that feeling when I was laying on the ground and then again as I was standing there "watching" T take Chimi over the jumps. It's really a creepy feeling trying to pull up my memories from the fall and having zero visual memory. It's all black with just feelings, emotions, and conversation as the remaining part of my memory.

As for what actually happened... well my best guess from what I do remember and my injuries is this. Chimi did his stupid canter evasion where he basically takes the bit and runs while shouting "I know best!!!!" gets to the base of the jump and went "Oh Shit!!! We're jumping??? I can't jump from here! I didn't know we were jumping!! I'm going to stop because I obviously can't jump over this thing in my way" and I fell forward, hit my face on his neck, got road rash from his mane, and then fell off to the left and landed on my back. And that's all from feeling memories- I remember what it felt like but I don't remember seeing it happen.

Overall I was pretty lucky that day. I of course was wearing a helmet (which will now be tossed out) and having T there to take care of Chimi and feed all the horses was a blessing. I'm not seriously injured, just really sore, but able to function. My stepson is an almost EMT (just has to pass the 2nd half of the test) and he came up to make sure I was alive before laughing at me sway around like a Weeble Wobble while I was doing the concussion test. I didn't go to the hospital because 1) I hate them 2) I was fine (enough) and 3) my stepson has had plenty of concussions from football and having an accident prone "youth" (hell he's still damn young!) and told me to take it easy and if things got worse then yes I would of gone to the hospital, but they didn't.

And as for my weekend plans? Well they've gone into the crapper. I'm sidelined for at least a week while my brain heals and then once that happens I'll take things a bit slower with Chimi and make sure his brain is functioning to!!!! He really can be a Dumb-blood at times and I just shake my head at him. We'll eventually be back to normal riding but I need to make sure I don't skip any steps next time!!!