Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Sound familiar?

My coach: "You have to stop analyzing"

"But it's my job."

"No, it's *my* job.  Your job is to ride.  When you're standing down here, *then* you get to analyze."

hahaha consider myself told.  Came out of me being entirely too picky -- he wanted me to be happy because the horse did remarkably well at something that's been challenging for her, and I was annoyed that some random little detail wasn't quite right.  But it is remarkably freeing to "just" ride *g*  And it lasted about 10 mins till he told me to analyze the last round.  hahaha oh dear.

But mostly I'm posting this for all my students who do this regularly -- now you know, I understand entirely :)     Because I too am guilty of it.  All. The. Time.  But when I tell you you did it well.  You did it well.  For whatever that moment, that horse, that level of training, or that situation -- it was well done.  Maybe next time random detail X will be important, but for right this second, take the "Good" and run with it :)

She who shall not be named shows some more athleticism

So some of you may be aware, I recently acquired a new pony :)   Said pony sadly still lacks a name...  The latest is Mystery/Misty but I'm not sold on that one.  Although I do like the idea of having a Mystery when I have a Sherlock *g*

Anyways - it was a stunning afternoon: 12 deg, sunny and no wind.  *Perfect* hacking weather.   Did I mention pony's not really broke?  hahaha

Ok so I wasn't *quite* that unrealistic, although I definitely considered it for several moments.  But I tried her outside so I know she's *been* outside before :)  And she's been super-quiet since she's been here, so why not ride outside today?

Unbroke, 4yo mare.  Yes I tried her outside -- in a ring she was comfortable in with a buddy.  Sure there'll be no difference at all between that and a new ring she's never seen, alone.


You're not new here.

hahaha so I bring her outside and she grows as we step out the door.  Hmmmm.  She's tall and looking at things, but not really being spooky.   I've never worked with a quiet greenbean before, so I'm finding it hard to judge what exactly to expect from her.  For instance - she wasn't spooking at things, but she was so high she was vibrating and halting was *not* going to be an option.   hahaha and since you're always either training or untraining, getting on when she's not going to be able to stand still, is not a fair option for teaching her we always stand at the box.

So I voted for the lunge line.  Now keep in mind - last Sunday what we did only represented a circle in the most vaguest of ways.  But we've been working on it every day and she gets the circle idea now so ok.  Or so I hoped anyways since our dressage ring is not fenced.  hahaha

But it went really well.  Her trot was lovely to watch.  Super animated.  And a good sign for what's to come.  And on the ummmm exciting side of what's to come -- she decided she wanted to canter.  No problem.  Except the transition....  Oh dear.   Massive buck with a twist!  First time she tries that with me on her, I suspect I might get some serious air time *sigh*  Hind legs well up over her head -- basically standing vertical on her front legs.  And then calmly canters away.  O.M.G.  hahaha   Transitions after all ok.  But when we changed direction that first canter that direction had the same dramatic approach.  Yikes!

Fortunately all that excitement tired her out and she was able to stand :)   Took us a few more tries than normal to stand still at the box, but eventually I got to get on and walk around.  Nothing exciting -- never even left the walk.  But I did, technically, ride my pony outside :)   Yeah!  Then cooling out we went for a (in-hand) walk around the pond.  hahaha which resulted in a super-tall pony again *sigh*  Ah well.

And she's getting *much* better about her feet and standing in x-ties.  Woohoo!  And after Athena, I *love* that I can bring her in by herself and there's no melt-down.  hahaha the little things in life :)

It's the little things...

So Rowan was telling me about a conversation she had that totally made my day :)   I guess she was in the store dressed in riding gear and somebody asked her about where she rode.   When she told her, the response was "oh you mean the eventing barn."   Woohoo!  Somebody's heard of us :)  hahaha it's a start.

Baby pony stories

So it turns out my new pony can jump.  Really jump.  And she chose to display this talent by jumping out of her paddock and into another.  OMG.  hahaha if it weren't for the minor heart attack she caused, I'd be thrilled.

Pony still needs a name.  hahaha she was Rumour first, then Aurora, then Milana -- which is the only one of the group that had a hope of sticking.  Now, for the moment, she's Serena.   But I'm not sure how long that'll last...  We shall see.  I've had tons of good suggestions, but none seem *quite* right.  Or they're perfect but I already know somebody (or another horse) with the same name and can't reuse it!  hahaha it's amazing how many get discarded that way.   Or it's just too common.   This is not a common mare, she can't have a common name *g*

As for under saddle -- we're doing real basics.  She doesn't cross-tie, or stand, or particularly want her bridle put on.  She also gets very concerned when you lead her from the right.  So there's a whole lot of ground work.  Walk/stop, walk/stop.  Stand in cross ties quietly.  Pick up feet (that's a bit of an adventure).  Start the basic concept of lunging.  A couple of the girls stopped in to watch the first day -- while I love how interested they are, I had to warn them that if things went as planned it'd be exceptionally boring *g*.   And thankfully, things went as planned.  hahaha   Our lunging circle certainly didn't resemble a circle in the traditional sense and our halts were a long way from straight.  But both got better as we went.  Also did a fair bit of stop next to mounting block, stand on block and flap around the pony.  Fun fun fun.  She was pretty kewl about the whole thing.

So that's day one. Nothing brilliant but nothing horrid.  Day two -- I now have access to three out of four feet.  Woohoo.  She bridled herself.  That was pretty sweet - took two tries and on the third she did it all on her own.  Lunging still wasn't perfect, but we had two gaits and transitions between them and our circle was a lot less interpretive :)    Leading from the right is going to take a bit -- she's pretty anxious about that one.  Ditto for standing quietly in cross-ties.  But - best part, she stood really well next to the box and let me mount.  The old-school, traditional, climb-on-box-insert-foot-in-stirrup method.  Sweet.  Wandered off a bit as I got on, but we'll fix that :)   Way better than the moving leap from trial day :) .

So despite the fact that we're doing the slowest and most boring of stuff, I'm still thrilled and I grin every time I see her.  Helps that she's the first calm baby I've ever worked with (and yes, I realize that'll go away as soon as she discovers she's a teenager, but still!).   AND she *likes* people.  hahaha what a concept.

Now, all I need is for her to decide to stay *in* her paddock, and we'll be set!

What've you been up to? Same ol...

OMG.  So ummm the last couple of weeks have been absolutely insane.   Oh, and I'm typing on 3h sleep...  So be forewarned :)

Let's see...

So go back a week Saturday -- we had our first show at GRS.  Woohoo!  Tons o fun and has its own post on the GRS blog.  hahaha -- but as with any new project, stressful in its own way.   Then it was off to the Royal for *tons* o fun.  Woohoo!  Chelsea, Rowan, DJ, Laura, Kirby, Rebecca and I.  Suffice to say there was a fair amount of silliness happening.  Especially after the sugar high kicked in.

Then Sunday eve I met up with some friends I haven't seen in years.  I was exhausted and not particularly feeling like socializing and then I had So. Much. Fun.  There's always the fear when meeting up with friends who were once very close but you haven't seen in ages that we've all changed too much.  But, apparently some of us never grow up.  hahaha it was a riot.

Tuesday I went to look at a horse.  Killed most of the day (huge thanks to Rebecca for working all day for me!).  It was a really unfortunate creature *sigh*   And completely inappropriate for anything requiring soundness or athleticism.  A *long* drive for no real reason.  But I did at least get another chore accomplished while I was out there :)   Championship ribbons for our shows and a start on year-end awards :)

Wednesday -- the goal was to get the barn done super-fast and then head out to the Royal.  Perfect right?  Yeah, except that on the way to the barn I squished the rabbit.  Ummmm that'd be the big blue mechanical rabbit.  And having never been in any accident of any sort I was a little shaken by this :(   But in the big picture - everybody's fine and damage is all cosmetic.  But definitely put a rather distressing bump in the day's plans.  My wonderful parents bailed me out and Rebecca and I were off to the Royal.  We met up with  Aileen, Emily and Paula.  Fun fun fun.  And lots of yummy food :)   Got interviewed for a Sheridan school project.  hahaha oh dear.

Friday had a lesson that was a bit of a disaster, so my coach came back on Saturday to do the follow up *g*  hahaha ah well.  Got much better and continued to get better all week.

And then the fun stuff...   Now as some of you are aware, I pulled Athena from the school to show her for a season.  And the whole time I said she'd return to the school in the fall.  I realize some of you, having actually met me before, had your doubts :)  Justly so.  But since I actually *need* another PT level packer for the school, and - oh look - I have one available, she is in-fact going back in the school after next week's clinic.  Which means I need something else to ride.  It also means I do not need another schoolie right this second.  Since I sold Apollo and replaced him with Athena, that means I have a shopping budget of exactly what I sold Apollo for.  Which isn't much.

Now I've been keeping my eye open since summer, but only really officially looking since Apollo sold.  I sent my requirements to my "personal shoppers" -- two good friends who know horses and actually enjoy shopping.  The list wasn't easy.  15.2-16.3hh, 3-7 years, sound, good conformation, and exceptionally well bred to jump.  Preferably a mare.  Oh - and for the price of a school pony.   Yeah - it's that last part that makes it interesting.  Which means my options are unbroke or OTTB.  And I'm ok with both of those, so the search began.

They sent me a few options; with the track in the question mark it is right now there are lots of TBs around cheap.  But my coach vetoed all of them on conformation.  Boooo.   So with a bit of trepidation, I posted my shopping list on Facebook.  I figured I'd get a whole lot of creative interpretations of "sound" "good conformation" and "well bred" - but thought, just-in-case, it'd be worth a try.

And then the games really began.  I received several responses that, while appreciated, weren't really what I was looking for.  One maybe but not quite.  Nothing that jumped up and screamed "buy me".   I had planned to go look at some horses on Wednesday, so Rebecca was scheduled to cover for me at the barn that day.  A few of those fell through for a variety of reasons, but the one I really wanted to see was in London and I was all set to go...  When I got a text Wed am -- it sold last night.   Big boo.  But then I sign into FB and there's a message from a friend suggesting I go look at a horse @ her barn.  Horses at her barn aren't usually anywhere near my price range *g*  But some discussion revealed that while this one was out of range, it wasn't so far out as to be unreachable and negotiable as owners were hoping for a quick sale.  The right size, age, and breeding to meet my requirements.  Mostly unbroke - three weeks under saddle :)   Sweet.  So without ever seeing a photo or video (since, let's be honest, I trust her opinion) I arranged to go see her that afternoon (yeah for flexible people!).

Go in and see her.  First thought is, "oh no, she's grey :("   (yes for those who are wondering, the :( definitely does belong in the quotation marks!)   And second thought is "she's stunning".  hahaha yeah, they kinda balance each other out.  If only I thought she'd stay steel grey and melanoma-free forever.  *sigh*  But ok.

So pony (who is, of course, not actually a pony being as the mentioned 16.1hh was fairly accurate) is pretty chilled about being tacked up, led outside, and pilot hops on (ummm literally - jumps on from the ground.  hmmmm) and away they go.  Hacks quietly up to the ring -- with a buddy, but still being very cool about the whole thing given the lack of experience.  W/t/c around.  Hops over a tiny x-rail.  Clears it by an insane amount.  hahaha classic.  Some day she should be able to jump.   So all good, I go to get on...  Except, pony doesn't stand for mounting and has never had somebody actually get on in the traditional way.  Ok - get a leg up.  She's kewl about that.  Sweet.   I've known enough who aren't to appreciate that.  Good start.  Discover a distinct lack of gas, breaks and steering and have a good giggle trying to appear competent.  Hopped over a x-rail a few times and through some cavelletti and by the end was quite interested in her.  Hacked her back alone, her buddy was still working in the ring, and she was civilized about it.  All very good.

Went home, watched the videos -- they didn't look nearly as discombobulated as I'd felt *g*  And she looked good.  There were moments you could start to see what might be one day.  Sent them to my coach and a few friends for opinions and did some research on her bloodlines (and by research, I mean I emailed J and requested information - I have awesome friends :)   So bloodline commentary and google both said all good things.  Video feedback positive.  No answer from my coach who was internet-less that day (ah well, too late for an opinion).

Thursday am, I knew the mare was being taken to another farm to be shown -- and a farm where they have a habit of purchasing interesting projects for resale regardless of whether they're actually shopping.  So I got my offer in early and we discussed back and forth a bit.  Accepted.  Woohoo!  Had the vet out that afternoon and she vetted clean!  Sweet.  Called Kirby and asked if she could cover night check for me after my lesson -- which she did :)   So as soon as I finished teaching, Rebecca and I headed out to get my new pony.   Pulled back into the driveway about midnight.  There was a slight issue getting the trailer open *sigh* through which pony proved she really is reasonably chilled about life :)

And now it's Friday -- coach has seen and approved (good thing since it's a little late now :).  Pony's happily settled with her new pasture buddy.  Watching her float around the field gives me hope for our dressage one day :)  And now it's time to sleep.

Before doing hay tomorrow.


GRS' first schooling show :)

Our first show was so. much. fun!   And since half the competitors had Royal plans (as did myself and our judge) we managed to get finished and out in a reasonable amount of time too.  hahaha amazing what group motivation will do.

HUGE thanks to Amy who worked all day (and managed to compete at the same time!) so I could focus on the show and competitors.  And of course to Amy (hmmmm something about that name?) for judging all the classes!

The first excitement of the day was the horse draw...  Riders each pulled a name out of a hat to see who they'd be riding.  It was the fairest way I could think of to "assign" horses -- although I maintain veto power in the interest of safety.  hahaha  But it meant a fun switch around for the girls in the higher levels who all part board and are used to always riding the same horses :)

In the poles - x-rails division (that was slightly higher than poles and xrails :) we ended up with:

Eve on Nick,

and Olivia on Louis.
 Then in the 2' - 2'3" division we had:

Amy on Charlie,

Ashley on Lissy,
and Lesya on Louis.
And in the 2'6"+ division"
Chelsea on Jack,

Kennedy on Lissy,

and Rowan on Bella.
Regular followers of GRS will understand why that last group was so entertaining :)   And super credit to Kennedy who was riding Lissy for the first time *ever*!   Lis is a superstar, but she's not entirely simple to ride well!   And Rowan switching from Jack to Bella -- well that's about as extreme a change as it gets :)

We did dressage first -- both Amy and Ashley riding their first test *ever*!  Woohoo!  Everybody remembered their test, and all the girls put in a solid effort :)   There were some interpretive shapes and nerves off the charts, but everything got done in the right order and approximately the right location.   Huge thanks to Aileen for scribing all the tests!

After all the dressage was done, we had a break while we set fences -- huge thanks to everybody who helped haul jumps around!  Then the girls got to walk their course.  I was struggling to find the line between coaching and supervising.  Very hard to just watch...  But I restricted myself to helping them understand the map -- as in what jumps in which order.  Other than that they were on their own.  And they managed it, and I was thrilled to see the more experienced riders helping the more novice ones figure out where to go and what to do.

Course Walk
And then it was on to the fun stuff!   Everybody got to warm-up over one jump.  This was supervised but with very little (level dependent) coaching. They were on their own to figure out their new rides.  Our first class was Equitation Over Fences (ie rider position being judged) and the mystery class this time was a Table C jumper class (ie - one round, based on speed, faults are calculated as time penalties).  There were a few riders competing who had never jumped a full course before.  I was *very* impressed with how well these riders did!   Everybody got around and most got some idea of what they need to work on for the next show :)    Chelsea definitely had the speed idea down - placing despite having a rail.  Lesya would've been first in her class with Louis had she not unfortunately gone off-course.  Ah well - everybody does it at least once!  May as well do it at home!  Most rode both classes the same -- careful and clean.  Definitely a good start to showing!  Huge thanks to Bev for scribing for all the jump classes.

Overall it was a fun day with a good turnout of riders and spectators and I was really impressed with how well everybody rode! Woohoo!

Sasha giving course walk advice :)
PC - Linda Shantz