Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Best of Craigslist...

I'm stealing this idea from Knoxvillian and fellow eventer/blogger Leslie Wylie. Since she is both a better eventer AND blogger than I, and has a bunny named Amelia Earhart... who happens to be good luck, because "It's like having four rabbit's feet but way cuter and less dead," I don't feel bad stealing her "Best of Craigslist" idea... because where we live, you have to laugh if you can't cry.

Without any further ado... let me introduce you to someone's next Grand Prix mount. (All joking aside, this looks like a lovely horse for someone, her owner looks very proud of her and I will gladly do the dirty work if anyone is interested in her.)

"Gorgeous Belgian Warmblood Mare. Has had 90 days under saddle and driving training. This mare has Dressage movement, excellent reach and suspension. Price will go up with further training. This mare has potential to go Grand Prix or higher. Sired by Leningrad BWP"

Light to the aids...

Excellent lengthenings...

Halts square...

Well schooled in basic lateral work...

Started over fences...

Great self carriage...

Very. Tolerant.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pony cuteness...

This week, I managed to match up some really adorable children with REALLY adorable ponies.

I'm kind of awesome at this, if I do say so myself.

With that, allow me to post pictures of said cute children and said cute ponies....

Hold on to your britches... they're pretty dang cute.

Peyton and Vanna

Faith and Audrey

Diana and Ibn

Tori and Snickerdoodle

 And, while still adorable, some of my "kids" and their new "ponies" are more... mature...

Nancy and Ben There Done That  

Shannon and Pumpkin Pie

Its pretty cute, isn't it?!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A very Thelwell day...

I kind of felt like this today:

Not quite, but close.

I ride this adorable little pony named Pumpkin Pie. He is an appy pony and has a stubborn streak as wide as his porky little belly. He is SO fabulous under saddle though. He was a lucky buy off craigslist and has been super... aside from his minor stubborn streak.

So, I've got him started over fences and he will occasionally stop at something he's seen before and generally stops at things he hasn't seen before. Fair enough.

Today he was being really brave, so I pointed him at The Panel He Has Never Seen Before. He trotted up to it without faltering! Great, I thought!

I should add in, here, that I've roached Pumpkin's adorable mane because he has A LOT of it. Its grown out about 4 weeks worth, so there is kinda/maybe/notreally enough to grab, so I ride him with a neck strap.

So, we're trotting up to the panel, and I'm thinking "Don't jump ahead of the 14 hand pony with no neck, no mane and a tendency to stop!" And I didn't!

But then... I found myself no longer on the pony... standing on my own two feet, in two point position, standing in front of the jump with the bridle in my hands. The whole bridle. As the pony trotted merrily away. I literally looked behind me between my legs because I was wondering Where The Pony Had Gone.

I don't know what he did, but he did it quickly and stealthily. And I found myself pony-less.

Of course, I caught Pony by the neckstrap, put the bridle back on, hopped back up and trotted right up to and over the panel the second time. Figures.

We don't do THIS where I come from. ;)

Okay... maybe sometimes we do...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cute overload...

This is from Dec, 1992. I would have been 8.

Because if you're going to have a horse, it had better be a white mare...

This may be why I wanted a white horse...

Here I am with Uncle Tom, who the letter is addressed to, and CJ- "my" horse. Mr. Devereux is adjusting my stirrups.

Riding CJ in the roundpen

Me and CJ on a trail ride with Uncle tom and Mr. Devereux

First lesson at Spring Hill on Romeo

Romeo, again

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My Hellacious Day (Or How I Found Prince Charming)

This is a repost from September 25, 2009. I need to share for all my new friends who may have missed it. Enjoy!

"Ever had one of those days where you should have just stayed in bed?

Today was one of those days for me.

I started the day excited since Julie so kindly agreed to let me borrow her extra truck for the weekend so I could haul myself and my students over to Triune Saddle Club arena (about 5 miles from the barn) to ride in their footed arena. GREAT, right?! Sure is!

So… I drove myself to Manchester to pick up Julie’s truck and then headed to Arrington to pick up Bobby’s trailer (have I mentioned I love my friends?). I called Julie (call #1) on the way there to ask a question and nearly stopped her heart- no, nothing wrong. Then, I couldn’t figure out how to get to the trailer, so I called Bobby (call #2) to figure it out. Great- find the trailer and set up for the maneuver. I manage to get the ball almost lined up the first time, but not quite (miracle I got anywhere near it, truthfully). So I pulled forward, lined it back up and NO WAY! I got it centered JUST RIGHT. So, I lowered the trailer and waited for it to grab. No grab. So, I pulled the truck a hair forward, thinking that ought to do it. Nope. Bounce on bumper of the truck. Nope, nothing. Rock trailer. Nope. Look at ball- hard. REALLY think. “Oh! The ball is the wrong size.” So I call Bobby. (Call #3) Luckily, his receiver hitch is in the trailer.

So I switch it around and get the trailer hooked up and pull out to the driveway. I turn on the hazards to check my electric- no lights. Call Julie (#4) to ask if there is a trick to the truck. Nope. Call Bobby (#5) to see if there is a trick with the trailer. (Nope.) Decide to drive with no lights. Its only a few miles. Oh well.

GREAT. So at this point, I’m fairly “on schedule.” I get to the barn and I’m worrying the whole way, of course, since I have no lights and I’m driving my friend’s truck and a different friends trailer (conveniently, they match!). I get to the barn, pull around the back to drive around the loop driveway (the ONLY reason I’m able to borrow rigs, because I sure as HECK cannot back a truck and trailer) and OH LOOK… the construction workers have the driveway blocked. Glorious. So I manage to successfully back the trailer around the corner and get oriented in the right direction in under three minutes (a feat, trust me). At this point, I start really fretting that I’m getting ready to overload Julie’s 1990 half ton truck… so I call (#6) her and double check tongue/trailer weights. We decide I’m okay. I load my tack, head down the driveway to load horses by their pastures, since they’re all over creation. 45 minutes later, Brandy is on the truck. (Yes, 45 minutes.) I love carrot sticks, incidentally. They are EXCELLENT tools for encouraging a horse onto a trailer.

Then I catch Ari, and tell him he’d better load. He does. Thank goodness. At this point, Anita calls to tell me our farrier is around the corner and does anyone need anything? Nope, we’re good. (Remember this.)

So, I get to Triune, unload, tack up, have a lovely ride on Ari and Brandy stands perfectly behaved at the trailer. I get off Ari, walk him out and look at his feet- he’s pulled a shoe. Surely you’re kidding. So I call the farrier (who was just here, remember) and tell him Ari’s got a shoe off. He heads back in my direction. I tell him I’ll meet him in 45 minutes. I get on Brandy, have a lovely ride, Ari stands nicely by the trailer. Brandy and I have a nice ride.

The Calm Before the Storm...


I untack and begin to load Brandy. She was being fairly well behaved about the whole thing and I was about to put the butt bar up when (we’re talking 2 minutes here) Ari decides HES DONE. DONE. Sits back and BREAKS HIS LEAD ROPE. CLEAN IN HALF. Then what does Ari do? He doesn’t go visit the horses on the hill or eat the gorgeous green grass all around us. He high tails it for the road. NOLENSVILLE ROAD. Does he get to the road and stop? Oh, no. Of course not. He runs ONTO THE PAVEMENT- IN TRAFFIC, FRIENDS- and starts trotting down the road. I am CHASING him down the road and luckily, the traffic around him has stopped and someone is following him down the road with flashers on. I’m still running behind him on the side of the road, and of course, not gaining any ground.

He finally runs off the road, about a 50 feet from the entrance to 840 (insert minor heart failure). At this point, a lovely woman in a Bonneville picks me up and brings me down the road to where he has run off. She shrugs helplessly as I look into the field where he is about a half a mile away, running laps next to a fence line with another horse in it…

Enter Prince Charming.

A lovely gentleman stops in his very nice, very clean, very new pickup truck. I run to his truck and jump in before I even ask if he minds going off roading (8-10 inches of rain in the last week here in Middle TN, lets not forget) to catch my horse. Without hesitation, he cuts his very nice, very clean, very new pickup truck (The Truck) across a hay field after my errant, panicking, totally out of his ever-loving mind and lucky I didn’t have a gun, horse (The Idiot). As we’re bouncing across the hay field, I tried to make small talk… because, did I mention, this is the. Single. Most. Gorgeous. Man. I. Have. Ever. Seen. In. My. Whole. Life. And, no, its not just because he took The Truck across a muddy hay field to catch The Idiot. He was gorgeous. And he smelled delicious. I looked like hell. Of course. And I am the sole owner of The Idiot, who I’m sure is the bane of Prince Charming’s existence, at the moment. Excellent, right? His truck was immaculate (I was not) and while the bed of his truck was filled with construction equipment, he did not look (or smell) like a guy who had been doing construction all day. Hm. I noticed that he had a GPS and a satellite radio, but I did not notice if he was wearing a ring.

He introduced himself by name. I think it was Drew (cue Taylor Swift) but in the middle of telling my roommate this story, I forgot his name. Totally forgot. It left my head completely. So its either Drew or Paul, I’m pretty sure. And his truck was dark silver. And he looked and smelled delicious.

Oh yeah, The Idiot is still running free on the hillside. So, luckily, he ran through a gate (gates mean fences, right?! Who knows, the field is huge!) and P.C. blocks it with The Truck (I cringe at the thought of The Panicking Idiot forgetting that The Truck is not jumpable OR pushable). Luckily, The Idiot saw that helped had arrived (Mom, what took so long!?) and stopped. And nuzzled me like he’d done nothing wrong. Jerk.

Prince Charming asked if there was anything else he could do. (Marry me?!) “Well, Prince Charming,” the stinky, muddy, sweaty horseback rider asks, “Can you go back up to the arena and babysit The Mare I left tied to the trailer (You know, the one I’ve had for less than a year and didn’t know what being tied was until 10 months ago? Yeah, that one.) until I walk The (really, very sorry) Idiot back up to the arena?” Down a heavily traveled two lane highway? “Sure,” he says, “I’ll go check on her.” And he did.

Did I manage to get his number? Name? Address? Social security number? Instant marriage proposal? Nope. He made sure The (very apologetic) Idiot and I made it back in one piece and wished me well and drove off into the sunset.

And Brandy stood tied the whole time and never moved a muscle. The farrier was quite irritated that it took me so long to get back to the barn.

This is my life."

 What you also need to know is that, after this day, because my dearest friends promised to terrorize me until I followed though, I posted a sign out in front of my local feed store- right across from Triune- trying to track down PC.

 No, I never did find him again, but wouldn't it have been fun?!

I took them back to Triune a day or two later... and they stayed like this:

And have never been allowed to be tied to the trailer ever again.

Awesome lesson last night

I hauled over to Brownland yesterday to have a lesson with Amy. Megan and I rode... by the time we had our lesson the show rings had been closed since they were freshly drug, but we got to ride in the warmup and I'm just thrilled with Ari.

Seems all our hard work and frustration the past few rides has paid off, he was VERY good last night.

I suddenly find myself with a horse that I can PUSH forward into a connection and kick right off the ground. It is nice to be able to approach to a fence and be able to come forward or back into a "distance" that you can pick out 10 strides away.

And even nicer to have a horse underneath you that... if you see NO distance... you can just put your leg on and ride the rhythm and have the horse find the spot with no help from you.

Needless to say, I'm happy.

I had Nancy, Anna and Amanda with me, too, and they all had wonderful lessons. Nancy is developing an excellent relationship with Ben and Amanda rode with a look of determination in her eye I've never seen before. Anna and Murphy are putting all the pieces together and ready to tackle BN this year.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Playing with baby!!

I got to play with Baby Maizie in her stall today and was reminded of how precious foals are (that ticking you hear is my equine biological clock!) and also- how predictable they are and how much you can learn about horse behavior from a baby- all that instinct is right there- unfettered and in the raw!

I loved on momma for awhile and then sat in a corner of the stall. It took baby Maizie about 10 seconds to start eyeballing me from the other side of momma's belly, peeking underneath her and around the back of her.
Another minute later and she was tiptoeing over to see me- it was slow going because of the rain- anytime she heard a noise, she would jump and scamper back over to mom and peek under her belly at me again. I didn't move, and she'd slowly make her way back over. Before long she was sniffing me all over, nibbling my hair and blowing in my nose. Baby fluff is so soft, I could just pet them forever!!

She finally let me reach out and scritch on her neck and then commenced the mutual grooming (which is very cute until Maizie's teeth come in) and "baby talk"- the clacking of teeth that babies do when they're saying "You win! I'm submissive!"

(Scroll to about 30 seconds, you can see this horse "baby talking.")

She frolicked around her stall for awhile, always coming back to say hello, and at one point went to hide behind mom- when she peeked out around mom and saw me still sitting on the floor, she pinned her ears back and did a little baby charge... I laughed which scared her and she skittered off across the stall, bucking and kicking at the fact that I was less scared of her than she was me.

Being born is EXHAUSTING!

While I was in there I did a little training, too. Restraining baby and then letting her go while she was quiet, placing a hand on her rump or back and not allowing her to skitter away- all these things are so important. She has to learn to accept a little restraint or pressure and give into things that are not instinctual at this point. It's never too early to learn!

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Welcome to the world, Maizie!

Momma's name is Domino.

No, we didn't know she was pregnant, we just thought she was fat!

No, we don't have any stallions on the farm, or for that matter, in the near vicinity.

Mama has only been at the farm since November, so obviously she found a stallion back in April or May! Flood baby, perhaps?!

Dad might be an arab. Or he might be a QH. Or a paint. Mom is a spotted saddle horse. Baby appears to be gaited.

See those two lovely ladies in the background? That's the vet (who happened to be at the farm today anyway) and the barn owner. Here's what they're saying:

Dr. Nicole: I didn't know you guys had a pregnant mare on the farm!
Anita: Neither did we.

Baby checked out healthy and had all her "baby stuff" done in a timely fashion. She's a nursing, pooping, independent little sucker! Mom follows baby around, baby doesn't follow mom! We learned that you must restrain baby FIRST then halter mom, or Maizie will take off and mom doesn't wait long to drag you along behind her! She is a very good mommy and had baby up, dry and she had to have nursed by the time Marie found her this morning.

We pretty much have the farm split with mares on one side of the drive and geldings on the other... the mares were ALL out of sorts today with a new kid in town!

At one point, while baby was up and working on nursing, mama was nibbling her backside to stimulate her... baby squealed and kicked out... "MOM! I GOT this... leave me alone!" Cuuuuute!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Food for thought...

I had two conversations with two different people this week about horse ownership. Just random chit chatting. But two things stuck out and have been bouncing off of each other...

The first was something to the effect of "And do you know why WE don't need therapy? Because we sit on horses everyday."

The next was a whole conversation about how owning a horse/horses is a luxury.

I agree with both.

But I'm not sure I could live without a horse or horses in my life. But, I could cut down considerably on my horse expenses, if I ever needed to.

So I say. ;)

(Photo by Robin Giannattasio) 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My horse is a Gobstopper.


Yes, you heard me right.

My horse. Is. A Gobstopper.

You know, one of these things:

I'm going to give you a cross section:

See all those layers? That outer green rim was general stiffness.
The yellow layer a couple down was unwillingness to go forward.
Further down, the white was lack of moving off leg...
Then the blue was "yes, you WILL JUMP."
Orange was moving into the connection.
Blue again was lightening the forehand.
We'll call the pink layer moving up to novice.
Adding some lateral work at the next white layer.
A little ring of blue would be settling on a bit that gives me some woah but makes him happy.
Then there is that REALLY BIG, off white layer before you get to the black dot in the center. See it? It's huge, right?

Yeah, that's where we are now. We're trying to chip through it. Unfortunately, my precious horse doesn't really seem to want to budge. If we can just get there, I think it'll be gravy, buuut... one of us may die in the process.

So, there you go. My horse is a Gobstopper. Someday, in the very near future, I would like chip through that last layer. I think I will have a whole new horse when we get there. We'll see!