Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Calling all Eventers

My daughter has officially decided to test the waters this year! So we are on the hunt for schooling horse trials that have an easier one to try (they are called something different everywhere, Intro, Hopeful, Amoeba, Green, Etc). I can't find anything really locally, but found a few at FENCE in Tryon, NC. I know some of the local eventing stars travel there quite often. So I need some advice....1. Is there anything closer to home that anyone knows about that she can try? 2. What can we do to prepare for this? 3. Should I get her a few lessons with one of the local eventing trainers before we go, or try it and see if she likes it first? 4. Are there any groups/teams traveling to some of these that would be willing to show some newbies the ropes and give some encouragement to a 9 year old little girl and her pony?

Pony Party

Since Faith was 3 year old she has begged for a pony Birthday party. Unfortunately her birthday is in January and it's usually colder than snot. This year however, due to a mild winter, and a hefty helping of procrastination in planning a party.....we were able to do a pony party! Faith had a blast, cantering all over the place bareback until finally throwing on a saddle to hop over some low crossrails for fun. Sometimes I'm still shocked how far she has come as a rider and how talented and mature she really is for her age. (She's mine....I get to gush sometimes!) I was happy she FINALLY got the party she always wanted.

After cake, the girls even got to work the 2 new Shetland pony rescues we have that need to be handled, broke, and trained. They had a blast!
On a side note, Faith is getting a new/used saddle for her birthday. Faith wanted to be sure to get the right saddle, not just one in time for her birthday...a good decision on her part. So we got her some smaller things for the big day and have been hunting down a saddle. She has sat in several and honestly hated, or disliked most of them. She liked the Pessoa the best but they didn't have one in her size on consignment. She likes the older models with the softer leather. If anyone knows of one in the 15" to 15 3/4" size let us know! I think that's going to be the one!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Rebel and going treeless

My trainer is allowing me to come out on Sundays for extra ride time. It benefits us both as I get to come out and ride an extra day a week for no more that the gas it takes to get me there, and she gets one of her horses that isn't getting ridden, exercised and back in shape. This week was my trial week to come test out the project horse and see if we could get along as she has been unable to have success with any other students riding him (more on that later). So after meeting with the chub monkey named Rebel, (he hasn't missed a meal in....um....well, ever from the look of his belly) I saddled up and headed to the ring to start with lunging. I was able to get him warmed up and get an idea of how he moved. I could tell that when he was correct he would be really nice, when he fell out frame he was....well.....a mess. Not deterred (it helps that he is not only a Quarter Horse, but a dapple grey, which I have a particular fondness for) I got ready to ride Rebel for the first time and experience a treeless saddle for the first time.

After mounting, it took a minute for us to get a feel for one another, but immediately I could tell he was very different from the mare I have been riding. She is stiff, but straight; Rebel is softer and wiggly. I found out this has been the problem for all other riders. He slides around underneath you and if he gets away with a step or two he'll spin and take you either to the corner or the center. Apparently the other students don't feel when he is getting ready to pull this naughty trick and can't close the doors quick enough. I have a good feel of horses from training and riding so long and can feel him immediately as he starts to bend before he slides and am able to keep him straight. He also has a big trot that newer riders find unsettling, and I loved. While he is certainly not an easy ride, and always keeps me on my toes, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed working with him and really look forward to our next work out. His only truly "naughty" behavior is sometimes he will buck going into the canter or buck in the canter if your seat is not correct. While he didn't buck in the canter he did do it once going into the canter on his harder side. A lot of it just has to do with him being out of shape and as his condition improves and he gets more work, this should disappear pretty naturally. He is tons of fun and soooo handsome! I can say I feel like over a short period of time I have made huge improvements. My hands are so much better, my seat and shoulders are getting better (I have a bad habit of slouchy shoulders and tilting my head, even in western), and I have finally stopped worrying about jamming my heal down and allowing it to relax and my weight center on the ball of my foot, which relaxes my whole leg, especially my lower calf allowing me to use it more effectively. Did I mention my trainer rocks!

As for the treeless saddle, I have had many people tell me you either love them or hate them. I actually found that I am more middle of the road. For this horses back and shoulders he really benefits from the treeless saddle which if it makes the horse happy and comfortable I am all for it. Riding in it was actually pretty ok. You get a real close contact feel which is nice and I really liked, but for a beginner I could see it being very intimidating as there isn't a ton between you and the horse, not a lot of cushion and you need to really be able to hold your own seat well as it does not put you into a position or hold you there. I had a bit of trouble opening my right hip at first, but eventually got it situated. This is definitely a saddle that if the horse benefited from it I would have to say I would have no trouble or complaints riding in it, however it would not be my first choice in picking one out if my horse did not need one. When I asked my trainer what she thought of riding in one I think she hit the nail on the head when she simply said "it's not bad, but nothing to write home about".

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lessons Learned

My lessons with my trainer have been going fantastic. I have learned so much already and am eager to keep improving. I am also gaining in confidence. I get to graduate from the mare I've been riding to a horse trained through 2nd level! Very cool! I'm settling into weekly lessons and things are going well. We were also able to trailer Chip out so Faith could take a lesson as well. Hopefully we can get her out more often, they both benefited a lot.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Darn Holidays and Big Butts

I love Christmas. It's my favorite time of year. Ice skating downtown, pretty lights twinkling everywhere, trees up in every home, shopping, hot chocolate, egg nog, the family all getting together, good food. What's not to love! Well other than holiday traffic, over 2 months of non stop Christmas music in every store you step in, and the present you need to buy being mysteriously sold out absolutely everywhere you go. But seriously, I love the holidays. Unfortunately, my butt, thighs, and tummy do not. I knew I would not be able to stay on my diet through the holidays and didn't even try, knowing I would end up eating anyways and just feel guilty afterwards. Instead I vowed I would eat what I wanted....in moderation, and just try to maintain my weight through the holidays and then go back on my diet afterwards. It worked, I neither gained nor lost a pound the whole time! I was very excited. I have 18 more pounds to lose before I hit my goal weight and I'm hoping to reach it before show season starts back in March. While keeping a steady weight through the oh so tempting holidays turned out to be easier than I thought, going back on my diet post holidays has been tough. I am sticking with it though and each day I get better. I've had to go back to tracking my food intake for now, just to get myself back on track. For any of you out there dealing with the post holiday diet....You Can Do It! Stick with it! I just keep reminding myself that Pilgrim really appreciates it when I ditch the donut for the oatmeal and fresh fruit! =) That and riding breeches look so much better when your are not bulging out of them! Instant inspiration for weight loss = 1 pair of white full seats


The whole family had a wonderful Christmas. While we tried to save and cut back on presents, I think everyone really enjoyed what they got! Chuck always takes the week between Christmas and New Years off for some well deserved time at home, and it was wonderful to have him home. If only we could win the lottery so he never had to go back. Unfortunately that didn't happen (though we did get some tickets), and he is sadly back to work. With him gone, it is lonely at home and I am spending my days camped out at the farm.

Pics from Christmas Eve at Grandma's and Christmas morning at our house. We left our camera at Grandma's on accident on Christmas Eve, so all we had was cell phones for Christmas morning.
Scout in the Christmas spirit!
He was Santa's helper
Faith helped Grandma in the kitchen (well she at the food, while Grandma cooked)
Faith and Dwight and Grandma's dog Peanut pose for their Christmas picture!
Grandma and Faith
She's getting so BIG
Dad, kicking back and enjoying the day
Present Time!
Uncle Tom's dog Alley looking for her present
Tuna decided the best present was the garbage bag of  wrapping paper Christmas morning
Exhausted after a morning of opening presents
Faith's gift to Dad......so true!
Dwight looking handsome in his pajamas Christmas morning. 
Faith scoping out presents early Christmas morning

Back on Track

I know I have been missing in action among the blogging world, but I have good excuses. Actually I don't...just that crazy time of year with holidays, birthdays, and life all catching up with me. I think things have finally settled down a bit and I am beginning to get back on a normal schedule. Of course I have tons of updates, but since it worked so well last time I think I'm going to break them down into separate smaller posts over the next day or two.

Just a few quick things that I'll expand on in the upcoming posts:

I am settling into weekly lessons with my trainer which I will continue until the spring when I will be putting Pilgrim in training for at least 30 days. We were able to also trailer Chip out to her as well and Faith got in a lesson which was really helpful. We will try to get her out there when we can, maybe once a month to help get her ready for some schooling shows in the spring.

Jazzy is back on rest. Winter is being hard on her and she has been struggling with her cough for several weeks now. Hopefully she will clear up by spring and she can go back to work. Faith is really looking forward to working with her some more.

Johnny is doing well, although I've had little time to work with him. I'm hoping to squeeze him in more often over the next couple of months, especially with Jazzy out of work rotation for awhile. He is eager to come out and work and his balance and strength is really improving. I see it most at the canter where the cross firing in the back has almost completely gone and he is able to hold it longer. He is a little ball of energy and I can't wait to see how well he turns out this year. I'll try to get some videos of him soon.

Hope everyone had a safe, fun, and happy holidays and I am looking forward to an exciting new year.