Friday, November 2, 2018

25 Questions, stolen from The $900 Facebook Pony

I saw this blog post on The $900 Facebook Pony, and I love these things, and I haven't been blogging much, so I thought I would give it a go!

1. Why horses? Why not a sane sport, like soccer or softball or curling?

I've been in love with horses ever since I was little. I remember my cousin going to an agricultural college and taking her horse with her, and I decided that's what I wanted to do. I'm also not sane to start with, so why join a sane sport?
I dabbled in a bit of everything as a kid, got really in to volleyball, but horses were always my thing. They were there for me during the tough times of high school, and gave me confidence and courage when I needed it.

2. What was your riding "career" as a kid?

I started at 8 with two half-wild paint ponies named Maggie and Duchess. They spent two years trying to kill me before my parents decided they needed to go and I got PB, aka. Peanut Butter Smoothie, a QH/Arab pony gelding, who was a saint. I showed him in little hunter schooling shows for 3 years until I outgrew him, then had to take a step back from showing because my TB/Paint mare, Missy, refused to get on a trailer. I worked with her for a couple years, but also outgrew her, and sold her to buy Vinnie.
Vinnie and I did a bit of everything: dressage to first level, evented to Training level, and jumpers to 1.10m.
Maggie and I at summer camp. I was stylin' back then.

3. If you could go back to your past and buy ONE horse, which would it be?

PB. I loved him so much, and he was such an amazing pony.

PB; and again, I'm super stylish.
4. What disciplines have you participated there?

I rode Maggie western as a kid, though we didn't really do anything. Then I've done hunters, jumpers, dressage, and eventing.

5. Have you ever bought a horse at auction or from a rescue?

I've bought 3 at auction. Two QH weanlings, Easy and Sonny, and a TB/Clyde/Hackney, Charlie.

Sonny as a 2 y/o

Sonny, the day we brought him home, and Charlie
6. What was your FIRST favorite horse breed- the one you loved most as a kid?

I grew up reading the Thoroughbred series and wanting to be a jockey (that dream died when I was 5'8" at 12 years old). All I wanted was to live in Kentucky and ride racehorses all day long.

7. If you could live and ride in any country in the world, where would it be?

I'm not much of a traveler, so I don't think I would go far. Maybe to Aiken, SC. It's warm without being stifling, not much of a winter, and lots to do.

8. Do you have any horse-related regrets?

I regret my teenage brain. I feel like I could have kept Vinnie sound longer if I wasn't a stupid kid that had to show every single weekend. He was an amazing horse and I think of what we could have done if I had been smarter, and that's what really kills me. 

Vinnie just causally popping over this massive prelim oxer.
9.  If you could ride with any trainer in the world, ASIDE from your current trainer, who would it be?

William Fox-Pitt. He is really tall, like me, so I think that he would have some really good advice on controlling your body to not interfere with the horse.
I also really like Laine Ashker. She seems very happy go lucky and positive, and I need that in my life.

10. What is one item on your horse-related bucket list?

I want to ride in a 1* one day. That would be amazing.

11. If you were never able to ride again, would you still have horses?

Definitely. And to be honest, I would find a way to ride. I'm too stubborn to be told 'never'.

12.  What is your "biggest fantasy" riding goal?

Again, to ride in a 1*, but I would also love to ride an upper level dressage horse to really feel how movements are supposed to be. 

13. What horse do you feel like has taught you the most?

I don't think any one horse has taught me the most. I've learned a lot from all my horses. What comes to mind immediately is that Vinnie taught me to love even when he doesn't love me back (and shows it in the form of biting and kicking). Bella taught me perseverance and how fun going fast could be. Lily has reinforced that perseverance, she needs to take her time and really understand the questions, then she's 100% game.
They've all taught me about trust, heartbreak, love, and so many other things.

14. If you could change one thing about your current horse/riding situation, what would it be?

I love both my current horses. Lily and Zippy are amazing. Situationally, I would say that I would love to have an indoor, and the funds to continue lessons year round. I know that would really make a huge difference in my riding, but I'm doing the best I can with what I have, and that's fine with me.

15. If you could compete at any horse show/venue in your home country, where would it be?

Bromont! We'll get there someday!

16. If you could attend any competition in the world as a spectator, what would be your top choice?

I haven't traveled at all, so I'm pretty simple in the things I want. I would love to go to Kentucky 4* one day.

17. Have you ever thought about quitting horses?

Nope. 1000 times no.

18. If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the horse industry, what would it be?

The costs. The costs of shows, the costs of running a barn, the costs of owning horses. Or I could become a millionaire, whichever is easier. 

19. What's the dumbest horse-related thing you've done that actually turned out pretty well?

I don't think there's just one thing. I have repeatedly over the years bought horses sight-unseen, and I can honestly say I've never come home with a bad one. 

20. As you get older, what are you becoming more and more afraid of?

Getting hurt. I look at some of the upper level xc stuff that used to thrill me and now I'm like, um no thanks. 

21. What horse-related book impacted you the most?

I don't think there was really one single book. I read a ton when I was younger, and each book had something different to teach me, so I like to think they all impacted me. 

22. What personality trait do you value most in a horse and which do you dislike the most?

Value most: a good brain and work ethic
Least: no work ethic

23. What do you love most about your discipline?

The camaraderie. Every one wants every one to do well, we all cheer each other on and you feel just as bad when your friend has a bad day as you do if you have a bad day. 

24. What are you focused on improving the most, at the moment?

My damn shoulders and posture! I look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame 99% of the time, and I'm sick of it!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Twisted Pine Horse Trials recap

Last Sunday, Lily and I headed to Twisted Pine Farm for their horse trials. We had never been here before, and this is also my first time competing in the SOCTA series. I was excited for a new venue and a little nervous, as we hadn't been able to school xc yet. We had a decent start time, and left the farm at 6:30 am to make the 2.5 hour drive. I usually event with my friend, Tori, but she wasn't able to make it this time, so it was just Lily and I, and my parents came along as well. It's definitely different when you don't have a friend along to psyche you up!

We arrived in plenty of time for me to get a lay of the site. I walked show jumping and cross country with my mother, who wasn't very good for my confidence. We walked up to a particularly big and scary jump on cross, and the first thing she said was "there's no way Lily will go over that". Thanks mom.

The jump in question was quite large and airy with no ground line. Lily is notorious for spooking at random shit, so to say I was nervous was an understatement.

The eliminator

I put it in the back of my mind and tacked up for dressage. Lily is usually very good in dressage, but the last week she had been a little stiff to the left. I wasn't expecting much, just hoping she would put in a solid test. She ended up putting in the best test of her life, scoring 71.5% and two 9's and finishing first after dressage. I didn't know this until after we had completed all 3 phases though, as I don't tend to look at results earlier. I find it puts pressure on myself if I'm doing well.

Beginning our dressage warm up, before my mother got bored of taking pictures.

After a quick break and tack change, we headed to show jumping. The course was nice and flowed well, so I was looking forward to it. Lily warmed up beautifully. Our round was okay though; I think I must tense up when I go in, as our beautiful warm up led to a bunch of tight spots and one rail. I was still happy with her though, she jumped well and listened, even if I rode like shit.

We had a half hour before cross country, so Lily had a short break and tack and clothing change and we headed out. I didn't do a huge warm up with her being so soon after show jumping. I watched a couple people leave the start box, and I was actually feeling really psyched to do the hay wagon jump. This is when I learned that some people had complained and the jump had been taken out. Boo. The optimum time was suuuuuuuuper slow at 5 min 1 second, so I had planned where I could waste some time if needed. It was needed. Lily jumped very well, had a great gallop, and even with wasting time, we still finished at 4 min. Oops. I wasn't too upset though, as Lily is finally figuring out her job: she's learning how to gallop without getting on the forehand, and she's not spooking at every. little. thing. She was looky at the water and the two colorful jumps that followed, but went over them no problem. After we finished and I hopped off, she wasn't even puffing. I guess she's fitter than I thought!

Good mare through the water!
Photo copyright Ian Woodley
Everyone ended up having TONS of speed time faults, so we didn't fall that far down in placings with ours, finishing fourth. Our next event will be Dreamcrest on July 1, and I cannot wait!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

First show of the year! (recap)

Last Saturday we loaded up 3 horses and drove an hour to a new show series in Kingston to compete in the jumpers. This location also holds some of the South East Trillium zone shows, so I figured it would be a quality show, and I was right. The rings were lovely, the jumps were lovely, and the courses were great and flowed really well. Perfect for the first show of the year.

Kristy brought Ozzie, and I rode him in the 0.60m division. Ozzie competed on the A's as a 5 and 6 y/o, but he is now 16, and really hasn't done a whole lot in the past 10 years. Kristy took him to a couple shows last year, where he proceeded to be a complete jack ass. Kristy can't ride right now, so I convinced her to let me take him and see what he would do. He completed exceeded my expectations. He warmed up well, settled in, and when we walked into the ring for our rounds, he was all business. 100% ready to go. He jumped beautifully, gave me auto changes almost every time they were needed, and was just a pleasure to ride. He definitely needs to be jumping bigger next time, but this was a great confidence boost for Kristy to see him go so well, as she can be nervous and that makes him more of a jerk. He took home Reserve Champ for the division, and I was so incredibly proud of him.

Zippy competed in the .75m division. This was his second show, and man, he completely exceeded my expectations.
At his first show, he couldn't be left tied to the trailer because he was rearing and attacking his reflection. Needless to say, I was a bit worried about how he would be this time, but thankfully, he was a complete angel, although he did still stare at his reflection the whole time he was tied.
He warmed up very well and bravely, and had springs over the warm up jumps. We went in for our first round and he was a little shell shocked, and stopped at the first and second fence, but happily went over on the second try. He seemed to understand the game after that, and just got better and better as we went around the first round, and the second and third. He jumped out of his skin over every single fence, and even threw in a bunch of flying changes.
We pulled off a fourth in our second round which was the icing on the cake. His next show will be another jumper show in June, and I'm really looking forward to it!

Michaela (a student) and Cross (Piper's pony) also competed in the .75m. Although they didn't ribbon, I was extremely proud of Michaela for trying so hard. Her biggest issue is her mind, and by the last round, she was actually riding, and man, her and Cross will be so competitive once they put the pieces together! That pony is quick!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Curtis Barbour clinic recap

Last Saturday I held our annual event clinic with Curtis Barbour. This is the third year running it, and it's always such a fun day with great people and lots of learning. It was busy this year with 18 riders from grasshopper to prelim.

I rode Zippy in the pre-entry group. He is such a brave horse, but we still have issues with steering and staying straight. Curtis teaches a lot about keeping the horse very straight between two hands and two reins, and riding off your outside aids to turn the shoulder. We always start by riding square turns, keeping the horse straight and not allowing much inside bend. Zippy is decently good at this on the flat, but once jumps come into play, he gets a bit excited and things kind of go out the window. None the less, he tries very hard. He was really 'up' for the first half hour or so of our lesson. I think he was a bit overwhelmed with all the horses, plus our lesson had started about 20 min late, meaning he had been walking on a loose rein for 20 min. In his mind, I swear he was thinking, um, why are we working? I'm done now.

So excited. Must canter sideways.
We worked through a course of both stadium and xc type jumps. It started with a x rail with 10ft placing poles on either side, left bending line to a vertical, turn right to a 2 stride, another right turn to a corner, bending line to coops, left turn to a coffin. This was only Zippy's second jump school this year, and he really worked his ass off, doing more then I've ever asked of him. Curtis reminded me to really sit up, which is always a bad habit of mine, and to stop trying to help Zippy so much to the perfect take off spot. After Zippy settled, he put in a couple really nice rounds. This horse has such a nice jump, he really has springs in his ass! I'm really looking forward to getting him out to some events this year, but we have lots to work on before then.

I rode Lily next in a semi-private. We did mostly the same course, jumps a bit higher. Again, Curtis drilled me to sit up. I felt like I was riding on her ass, but when I sit up and stay there, things go sooo much better. Amazing how riding properly makes things easier. Duh. Lily was jumping me out of the tack, as normal. She has such a powerful hind end and her front end is finally catching up to her. She only knocked one fence all day. I really have to try and give her a nice release to let her use her back. She was so quiet and so wonderful all day, that I could really work on perfecting our rounds and my position. I didn't get any media from her aside from a few videos.

One of my biggest goals this year is to SIT UP and keep my damn shoulders back. I feel like it's working, I actively remind myself throughout my rides to sit up and bring my shoulders back. 

First show of the year is this Sunday, a jumper show in Kingston. I'll be taking Zippy in the .75m, as well as riding Ozzie, a boarder's horse, in the .60m, and Michaela is taking Cross in the .75m. The weather looks great and I'm pumped to get out there!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Spring means poop

Spring seems to have finally made an appearance, which is so nice, yet means that there is SO much to do. Clinics at the farm start this Saturday, so now myself and my dad are frantically trying to get pastures scraped so that the farm doesn't look disgusting and so there is parking for everyone. We started on the pony field this weekend, and it took about 5 hours to semi-finish. We couldn't complete it given all the ice under the mountains of poop. I don't understand how little animals can make so much mess. It looks better already though, which makes me happy, even though my hands ache from shoveling. 

Brody loves water. Piper loves playing with Brody.

Piper and I had a great ride together yesterday; most of my ride was just walking around on Lily coaching Piper on Cross, but then we did a little bit of trot work. Nothing spectacular, as in the middle of our ride, a client came by to talk about her new horse who is arriving next weekend. 
I'm super impressed with how well Piper is doing though. It really is true that being around horses constantly and observing makes you learn so much faster. Piper just turned 7, but is already so knowledgeable about some things, and is able to get her pony ready almost 100% by herself. She is going to show Cross in the w/t division this year, and I'm going to let her do the x rail classes as well. Hopefully Cross will behave herself and not run around like an idiot. Time shall tell.

I'm super excited for the dressage clinic this weekend with Briannon Johnson. I have been riding with Bri for about 3 or 4 years now, and she is such a fun coach and friend, and also someone who I find I can really talk to about the equine industry. I am likely just riding Lily, as Zippy I feel is still too green to really benefit. I might change my mind though, so we'll see. 

I started Zippy on Omeprazrole last Thursday to treat suspected ulcers, and the change in his behavior already it amazing. He's a very lovey guy, but does not like it when you touch his girth area. I'm definitely regretting that I didn't do the Omeprazole earlier, but at least he's on it now. I'm really hoping it'll make a difference under saddle as well, as sometimes he's very sucked back and behind the leg. I'm really looking forward to this season with him!

Zippy enjoying the sun and his first naked weekend of the year.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Spring is here... Or not.

Here in Ontario we are having what is hopefully our last blast of winter. Today and yesterday have been cold, and rainy, with freezing rain and ice pellets, and snow. Super fun. Today is a high of -5 with gusts of wind up to 75 km/h.

The last month, aside from this weekend, has been awesome though. Lily and Zippy are getting fit and started working in the sand ring last week. Lily seems to have matured over the winter and is ready to work in a more upright frame. Zippy is very much still a baby, but given he just turned 6, that's fine with me. I'm super excited to compete them both this summer.
I've also started working with my friend and boarder's Hanoverian mare, Huxley. She is an 8 y/o 16.3 mare by Harvard. She is so lovely and I know she will be amazing with time; she is just so so green right now. We are just working on being steady and developing the muscle to be able to hold the same pace. Nothing too exciting, but I'm hoping to do some stuff with her this year too, just w/t dressage and maybe the hacks.

Things are getting busy for spring, as I start holding clinics on April 28, beginning with a dressage clinic with my coach, Bri Johnson. I'm excited to get down to business and really start working on things. 
The following weekend I am holding a jump clinic with event rider Curtis Barbour. This is Curtis' third year doing a clinic at my farm, and it's always a ton of fun and well attended. Last year we had to reschedule to June due to a downpour, so I'm praying for good weather this year! 

Lily and I at the Curtis Barbour clinic last June
This year my friend, Tori, and I are also running a short course series. Tori used to run 3 a year at her old farm, and since moving, there have been no short courses in this area. So we are running the "Boss Mare Short Course series", one at my farm and one at her parent's farm. We have already had such huge support from local businesses; I'm really looking forward to it!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Bad things come in 3's, right?

I'm so glad the last 7 days are over. They have been very trying on me, both mentally and physically, with working so much, and the cold, and then yesterday the January thaw started. It was 8C, and sunny, and a whole shit load of snow was melting. We have a lot of snow this year. So yesterday I got to the farm from work, to find this lovely mess.

Two stalls were completely under about 2" of water, and two more were half under water. So. Much. Wasted. Shavings. I started shoveling around the barn, moving snow, clearing paths for water to flow, and praying that the water would drain before tonight, when we're supposed to have a flash freeze (this morning was 6C, now it's -1C). I slogged through tons of water, pulled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of soaked shavings out, and got things finished. Then I went to the house and cried. I don't cry often, but man, I was so damn tired and nothing seems to be going right this week.

This morning was a snow day, so I took Piper with me to the farm, picked up a siphon pump on the way, thinking if there was still water I would try and siphon it out. Thankfully, all the water had drained out. The mats were all wet still throughout the entire barn, but at least there were no puddles. The fan is on and hopefully will help dry things up.

Piper and I got out for a hack this morning while it was warm, and it felt so good to be on Lily again. This afternoon I went for a massage, given to me for Christmas by one of my awesome borders, and it was awesome.

Next week WILL be a good week!

The best donkey ears <3

25 Questions, stolen from The $900 Facebook Pony

I saw this blog post on The $900 Facebook Pony , and I love these things, and I haven't been blogging much, so I thought I would give i...