That aforementioned show is coming up and we're trying hard to make sure Piper is ready for it. I've decided that for everyone's sanity, Beginner Novice is the place to start so we're working on the tests for that. Naturally this won't be the best showing I expect, but I'm just looking to get out there, get back on that horse (figuratively), and see what Piper and Erica can do.
The dressage test isn't horrible but it isn't perfect either, but I saw for a schooling show its passable. We know the jumping won't be an issue with the black and white pony!
I finally found some time to grab the big bay horse and toss him in the round pen. He's been free lunged one or two times before but not at the house. I decided to just tack him up in whatever and toss him in there to see if he'd recall how to work in the pen and all his "tricks." Aside from being a touch sluggish, he did fine and the round pen was awesome.
Now to get my nerve up to ride in it. *gulp
I'm going to keep this short and sweet.
Piper went in again for her violation ultrasound and yep, there's a blob/black hole in there cooking! Now for another 340 days give or take and we'll have a mini me Piper running around tormenting everyone!
So I bought this pony approximately a year ago on Mother's Day. It was more the idea that it might evolve into a pony that my son could ride/learn on but true to my nature, I found a pony that kicks ass. She was chunky, a bit moody, but over all a tough cookie that looked like she wanted to blitz across cross country with some amazing level of cuteness.
She was fat though, like whoa. Her feet also freaked out between the weight and moving from the Oklahoma border to a much wetter climate here. We've been working on that consistently and she's trim and sound. What does that mean?
LETS SEE WHAT SHE WANTS TO JUMP!
So we saddled the pint sized pony up and started working her this week on basic concepts. She did a nice walk and trot and we worked up to poles and then a single cross rail followed by a short gymnastic. Besides trying to bluff her way out of it, she locked onto the jumps and ended up having a blast. End result? 2'6" oxer in a one stride in and out done. Happily. Energetically!
Ponies. Mares. Red Mares.
But she was adorable and did a great job or trying. Very proud of her. Now to find time to work her into the riding rotation more!
So I graduated from college. At age 34. You can't say I'm not tenacious or give up on lost causes. Granted, sometimes I don't feel that way, but looking back on my history, I can't argue with these things.
In 2012 I went back to college. I only have about 30 hours left and all of it for the most part was senior level classes. After being out of any schooling like that for over 10 years, it was difficult to jump right back in. And work. And do family things. And my other 500234230 things I do.
But I did it.
Honestly, the classes were the easy part. Fighting my grandfathered in rules, financial aid rules that didn't mesh with someone like me coming back after being gone, and a million other pit falls I navigated due to what happened "before" versus "now" it was just exhausting. Oh and I took some REALLY annoying classes that I couldn't be bothered with taking the first time I was in school. So yeah, it has not been a blast.
I don't feel particularly proud, I just feel like I've righted something I didn't finish earlier. Its done. Good for me. I decided to walk the stage so I could say I did it, but naturally I wasn't going to dress to the 9s like the 20 somethings that were strutting their stuff. I also warned people I would be reading on my phone.
And I did.
Here's some pictures of that awesome time:
But the important thing to know is that my parents (naturally) came to see me off and even gave me a graduation check. Husband shockingly encouraged me to be (more) irresponsible and use the money on a round pen since he knew I was wanting to work Arthur more and needed to be riding him.
Hurr it is:
OK so I think its time for a little more background on me. Then we'll get to the baby making.
First, you should know, I don't like babies. Of any species. The main reason most people like babies is that they're cute and a blank slate. I understand the idea that you're not "undoing" anything in the horse/dog/child/etc but I've retrained so many "broken" horses and one thing I like is that they KNOW something. You HAVE something. Sure it might be irrational fears and such, but there's a thought process to dissect. I feel like baby animals look at me like this:
Just a blank "chew the cud" sort of look and I just look back like :/ Seriously? Is anything going on? And then they usually make bizarre choices and I'm stuck working through that.
The one thing that's changed as I've gotten older (and took on three wonderful project horses in the past year) is that my available time and level of tolerance for other people's mistakes over time has dramatically decreased. I'm sick of fixing people's issues. This isn't just related to horses though, its pretty much my life right now. If I'm getting paid for it, I don't mind but otherwise I get cranky. I'm proud of where I've come with my current horses, especially considering my crazy life of working, family, and school so don't get me wrong. I just kinda want something that's "mine."
This had started when I got Piper. I'd debated a young horse to work with and had found some nice ones. Anything under 4 is a "baby" to me so anything related to that world was confusing and weird. I found THIS mare and went to visit her. She was in town and the idea of having someone help me along with the whole "World" "Futurity" etc type of showing was really appealing. The horse was very kind, calm, and personable. She seemed very well trained but it was pouring down rain that day so we were restricted to just the stall that evening. I went home feeling good and then freaked myself out over the idea that I'm in no shape for a "baby" horse of 3. I wouldn't do her justice, etc.
I do sort of kick myself about passing on that mare, but its all good. I've interacted with more babies and the retraining of Arthur has basically been what I'd do with a baby. And I like that. So I began the great debate of breeding.
Another point of interest here, I DID attempt to breed exactly TWICE in my prior life. I had bought a killer thoroughbred mare and tried to breed her to a great Oldenburg guy. We tried and tried to get her pregnant and when my vet bills/breeding bills sans stud feed hit $2000 I backed out. The stud owner was very understanding and I sold the mare to pay the debt. The next owners found out that she was allergic to semen extender. Derp. The other time I had bought another really nice prior eventing thoroughbred mare. I loved her and she was built truly like a warmblood. Her lines were similar to Athos' and she was just a joy to own. When I bought her, she was already 7 months pregnant to an APHA overo stallion so I went with it. She was as big as a house so I was thinking "oh no, twins!" but seriously, she would have aborted them by then, right? Apparently not. One stormy night my mare had two very gorgeous black overo foals. The filly was normal sized and just wonderful, but still born. The colt was tiny, wry nosed (badly) and while a fighter, just too tiny to do anything. We euthanized him that day and I swore off breeding. I sucked it up and rebred since I was "owed" a breeding to that overo stallion and exactly a month after breeding her, Tess' stomach ruptured and she died. Huh? OBVIOUSLY THIS WAS NOT MY FORTE!
So here I am now. I want a baby horse. Nothing I find online is what I want. I'm looking for an APHA jumping type that is over 15.2h and not built like a tank. How hard can that be?! Honestly, super hard. Then it hit me... I OWN that except she's 14.1 hands. But other than that, Piper kicks ass and meets all the requirements I want. It would mean delaying her show career for a year, but then again, we're not known and it would be much easier to get a foal from her now, then go party on the show circuit.
So I'm breeding Piper.
Due to her tovero (I didn't know what that was previously lol) color, she contains multiple white producing genes. I have really no way of knowing WHICH ones exactly so I decided to just find a nice tall paint stallion. Every one I found was an overo and most carried the frame overo gene. Not wanting to flirt with a lethal gene, I decided to play it safe and go with an APHA recognized thoroughbred. I'd get the height I'd hope for (anything taller than Piper basically) and not bulk out the offspring into a bloated tank of a thing.
When I had had my first TB mare, I'd fallen in love with a thoroughbred stallion at the time. I looked through my old links and found him.
He's an honest 16.3 hands but still refined. I'm not in love with his trot but I love his personality, trainability, work ethic, and canter. He jumps well and obviously more than I need. He also carries a white gene himself so that should give us about a 75% chance for a colored baby. The fellow's name is Man In Motion and I hope this works out the way I want.
Naturally upon dropping Piper off (after she came screaming into heat and had to be rushed 4 hours across Texas last minute for her date), she began dismantling their nonelectirc fences and giving bareback pony rides to their children. She also wanted Mr Man SOOO badly... but there was no way he was going to do THAT to her. In the end there was a breeding achieved with Miss Thang and we have 14 days to wait to find out if there's something cooking in the oven.
So I graduated. From college. Finally ><
I was originally Class of 2001 at Texas A&M but got detoured and so at the wonderful age of 34, I finished this past May. To celebrate, what do you think I wanted to do? That's right, cross country lesson at Pine Hill with Ruth!
My lesson was really awesome. After having a challenging lesson the week before with Emily, Katy's confidence was a bit shaken so I wanted to do some things to build her back up to baby!beast mode so we could continue on. The jumps that she had had an issue with in the H/J lesson were the green roll top and the big panel jump. Considering the crazy jumps she had jumped out on cross country before that, I was a bit at a loss for her issues.
I felt pretty good heading out there and Katy was on her game. Granted, she was a bit nervous about the jumps but her dressage warmup was really nice and we moved onward to the course. The first obstacle was a narrow walk through a set of flapping triangle flags strewn across the whole course. She snorted and blew, but bravely walked through them and I was happy that I just worked on keeping her forward and straight. I can learn!
The rest of it was a progressive dissection in what was causing her confidence issues as walking over a log she had jumped before made her a bit uneasy. She did it, but normally she's trying to move towards things, no hesitation. My goal was to get back to that on this day.
After my lesson got Katy rocking and rolling, Erica and I went back and I then took her and Piper out for schooling. Back in March, I'd mentioned a show in June and we decided to make that our goal. Step one was making Piper workable for dressage as the first phase. Her dressage was looking stronger lately but when there were jumps around we were less certain she'd focus well.
It took about 30 minutes but we got somewhere. The next step was to work her on some easy jumps to get her nice and relaxed. That took about another 15 minutes but she realized that she got to play if she stayed balanced and relaxed so we decided to work on the real issue: showing her at Beginner Novice or possibly Novice level? The courses nest close to each other so we decided to walk the courses and try things out.
We hit the water jumps first and she did great on both sets. Along the way up the hill we hit a Novice roll top and she blew over it without any issue. Not one to give into the higher level so quickly, we kept walking the courses until we hit a rather large log to a beginner novice box versus large log to a novice/training level table with brush. I checked the footing and we did the BN one first. It was almost too easy for her so we came back around and did the Novice one. Twice.
She worked it out juuuuusssttt fine! The rest of the time we worked on trying out Novice vs Training level questions to see how she would do. Everything we threw at her, she did great. We need to work on some straightness but she hit everything without issue and had a great time.
As we came out of the woods we worked on a drop that she'd done before:
After that, I decided to push our luck and we went to the stairs. I gave Erica a run down on how they worked and that we would just do the bottom one. She picked the one right in the middle which visually was hard for Piper to reconcile so I had them go to the side where it looked like they were jumping into "somewhere" vs "nowhere" and Piper jumped down no problem. Very cool.
To finish up we were to do the Novice bench at the finish line and Piper cleared it with ease. I gave Erica the option to jump the identical but bigger Training level bench and she went for it. Check out that pony!
Very fun day and can't wait to go back out! Happy graduation to us!
I've been on the hunt for a local place where I can go school in an arena. So far I've found a lot of options but they're either a bit pricey for regular work or the grounds aren't worth paying for. I have several trainers that I like to take lessons from but at $60+ each, I have to space them out. My available time to get away is also limited and between work and school I'm having to portion out things.
I decided to look for "cheaper" lessons if possible but ultimately, someone in town. If I can cut down on the drive time, that would help things a lot. I also wanted to work on jumping primarily and while I have two dressage people in town that I love, they're out for this (for the time being).
Poking around the internet and looking through old information I had saved from previous searches, I decided to contact Christian Wakefield-King. She is near my house and from what I could see online, I liked her jumping style. I friended her on Facebook some time ago and she looked like she cared and supported her students which is something that's important to me these days.
Upon calling her, I found out she was in a rough spot health wise but that she was getting help from another trainer that had trained with Peter Pletcher. I vaguely recalled the name (remember H/Js is not my schtick) and a short google later I decided to come out and watch some lessons. I headed out that week to watch Emily teach the lessons and the environment was very different from what I was used to and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I was debating having Piper as a pony hunter prospect vs and eventer so it was nice to be able to bring her out and talk seriously with someone. Also, being able to work on my riding was a draw. Sadly my first lesson I did rather well position wise and rode like a boss. Katy was less good as some of the jumps bothered her and even though I rode them perfectly, she ran out hard at one and I came off.
This was another "I didn't die!" moment that was on my list. Everything happened in slow motion and I felt very in control so that was a big confidence booster. Katy was naturally uptight after all the "serious" riding we were doing so we breezed over a few easy jumps and let her walk it out. Looking forward to getting out there more and improving!