A Lesson in Adjust-ability and Balance

Have you ever felt like you have been eating really well/clean, and then you track your food and it turns out you are basically eating like a 18 yr old their first week of college? No? Just me? Well, I feel like we have been super consistent with our lessons, but as always, the blog is here with the truth.

 The truth? Our last jump lesson as 5/15… which was our first jump lesson since 4/23. Oops. Part of this was my wonderful and much needed Florida vacation… and part of this was us being derailed by our super fun XC schooling at KHP. Worth it.

Knowing this gap, I had actually jumped May on Friday afternoon. I don’t jump when we are totally alone, but the woman doing evening barn chores showed up just as I was considering ending my ride, so we popped through the cross rail line and then some vertical gymnastics. The problem? I had my Dressage bit in instead of my jumping bit, so May kind of dragged me around. Oh well. We would fix it on Tuesday.

AND FIX IT WE DID.

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I don’t think my trainer specifically set this course to fix all my issues… but damn if it didn’t go a great job of it. We started with three crossrails set in the middle of the ring at angles. The distance between each crossrail if you rode straight through them (center to center to center) was two strides.

We started by just looping through the crossrails, taking the long approaches. And you know what? It was pretty bad. May wanted to just rock along on her forehand and drag me to distances that weren’t there. This issue always becomes a bit prevalent whenever we do accuracy exercises over small jumps.

Ahhhh the right shoulder drift. My favorite.

Over larger jumps, she rocks herself back a bit. But when they are little, she treats them like the suggestion of a speed bump. Sooo I wrangled back control, and we did a lot of halting, leg yielding, backing exercises after fences. NT wanted me to focus on getting a lot of control over her shoulders and balance.

We then added to the three crossrail exercise. I looped through with the long approaches, and then jumped the first jump, did a circle to the right, jumped the second one, did a circle to the left, and then jumped the last one. I struggled to get May to land on the left lead over the second one.

Eventually though, she was listening and landing in a better balance for me. Sooooo we then moved to what was, honestly, the hardest part for me. Jump in, bending three strides to right to the second cross rail, then bending three strides to the left over the third crossrail. The first time through… I got a big distance to the first… made the second happen… and then missed the third.

Ugh. Second time? Got the first one, took down one of the rails in the second jump… and got two strides to the first jump. UGH! Finally, we nailed it, and I really felt May rocking back on her hind end and wrapping herself around my inside leg. Sweet!

So then we moved to jumping straight through the exercise. Two strides between crossrails. EASY PEASY! May lined up and went. I worked on staying tall with my body and keeping her shoulders lined up nice and straight.

 

Much happier to just go straight through

At this point, we had a pretty long lesson, but hadn’t jumped anything of height. Sooo we put together a course. Bending 3 crossrails, long approach to middle crossrail, straight through crossrails in 2 strides, loop around to the left and grab the oxer, then loop around to the right for the barrel jump, bending 6 strides to the other oxer. (sorry the first jump got cut out below… damn 60 seconds on instagram)

Super happy with it! At this point, she decided she didn’t want to land on the right lead anymore. Oh well. We fixed it pretty easily. The 6 strides were easy peasy, even when she sucked back and jumped a little round over the barrel. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I had my horse back. Forward to the fences and easily getting the distances without her flinging her head around or me having to chase her around.

Room for improvement? Always! But definitely something positive to build on next week.

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Redefining my Goals

As the work day wraps up and I seem to STARE at the clock on my computer, I found myself thinking about why I am even bothering with taking a lesson tonight. Shows have been basically wiped off the table for the foreseeable future. May is fully back under the category of “for my enjoyment only” and the general stress and exhaustion from my job are not leaving me with many cares left to give.

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Well… if you know me… you know that NOT CARING is not a strength of mine. I care about EVERYTHING. (except the state of the inside of my car, sorry honey.) I will turn myself inside out with worry, stress, fretting care. So, not caring about my riding just isn’t in the cards.

I am showing up tonight because I care.

I care that I ride my horse well. I care that I succeed in this thing. So… what would success look like right now?

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It’s clearly not winning all the events. So if our goals are competition goals… what are they?

I think I am going to go back to an oldie but a goodie. I want to be comfortable cruising around a 3′ course with May and schooling 2nd level Dressage movements. The 1st level stuff is pretty well established. Although, I would love to throw it in a Dressage court under a judge. Karen – you want to give me a mini-clinic one day? 😉

I think that if I got even one of those things accomplished. I would feel pretty good about this summer.

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What about you? Any non-competitions goals keeping you going?

IEA Horse Trials – View from the SJ Ring

The Hoosier Horse Park is… in a lot of ways, the exactly opposite of the Kentucky Horse Park. Where the Kentucky Horse Park prides itself on museums, offices, and it’s general “horse amusement park” theme, the Hoosier Horse Park bring me back to when I was a kid. There’s a little less polish, but a whole lot of heart.

It’s that heart that is so clearly visible at IEA Horse Trials. I showed up to the facility at 7:30AM… Yes… remember that post that said the first ride was at 10AM? WELL, with threatening weather, the first ride got moved down to a little after 9AM. There was still some morning-of prep, so I showed up bright and early.

As usually, I parked about as far from SJ as physically possible. Part of me always forgets that I can park right next to the SJ booth… Oh well. A quick greeting to like… everyone, and I made my way to SJ. The place was alive with activity. No one had any idea if the weather would hold out, but everyone was still showing up with their A game. I crept through the trailer parking… doing a bit of window shopping as I did.

IEA has a long format for both Novice and Training, and in the more rustic setting, it feels like what eventing might have felt like a couple of decades ago. The jumps that I have seen from XC (practically none of them outside of pictures) favor a more natural style. Buuuut it also has some of the amenities we all know and love at this point: permanent stalls, sand arenas, and air conditioning in the SJ booth. 😉

Scribing show jumping all day (I mean ALL DAY 9AM – 6PM) is always an experience. I think the number 4 is permanently inscribed on my brain. SJ was really good though. We saw some great rounds, and some rounds that definitely fell short of rider’s expectations.

My favorite is always the commentary in the booth. Sure, between the four people in there, we typically know quite a few people in the ring (and/or their trainer, horse’s breeder, etc etc). However, every single rider had at least us four cheering for them. A sticky horse had us all quietly cheering and encouraging it forward with “Come on!” “Kick on!” and “You got it!” A rail near the end of a great round garnered a groan from all of us… and then we would frantically check scores to see if that person maybe just MAYBE had a rail in hand.

Any bad luck, from our first I/P riders all the way to our Jr Starters was met with sympathy. Great rounds were met with pure joy. It didn’t matter who that person was. We loved the hairy ponies of unknown breeding as much as the OTTBs and as much as the fancier warmblood types. We weren’t looking for flash. We appreciated the horse that looked like a fun, confidence building type.

Then, as the show rolled into the Jr. Starter division, it was after 5PM. XC had wrapped up. Dressage had wrapped up. We were the only ring still going. And where was everyone? Around the SJ arena. The bleachers were packed. People stood around all sides of the arena. And we all cheered on our Jr. Starters.

Everyone was tired, dirty, and ready for a drink, but we were more ready to support one another. On a day it should have rained, the sun shone on. At the end of the day, that’s why IEA is on my “Bucket list” of horse trials. For 3 days out of the year, it’s all about the horses, riders, and the sport.

If you want to read about the history of the Hoosier Horse Park and IEA, check out this US Eventing’s article.

For more about the IEA Horse Trials long format divisions, click here.

Come See Me at IEA!

Hey everyone!

No clue if anyone plans on being at IEA this weekend, but I will be there on Saturday. I volunteered again as the SJ scribe for the day.

It is definitely going to be a LONG day with the first ride at 10AM and the last rider at 6:06PM. However, IEA is one of my FAVORITE events, and while I didn’t get to compete at it this year, I am still super stoked to be a part of it again.

If you’re going to be there, or in the area, definitely come say hi in the SJ booth!

First XC Schooling at the Kentucky Horse Park

Alternative Title: Denial is a Powerful Force

After hacking around on Saturday morning, my plan on Sunday was to give May the day off while I got my closet organized. Seriously, my life is that exciting guys. Then, I got a text from my trainer:

“Hey, I’m contemplating running down to KHP to school after the show. Any interest in going with?”

Ermmmm Yes! I knew my trainer wanted to go to school her own horse, but I figured it would be a fun opportunity to hack around the XC course and pop over a few questions. My main goal was to get May’s feet into a couple of different water complexes.

I arrived at the barn just as one storm cloud decided to open up over us. No big deal. The weather at the horse park is usually way different than whatever we get in Louisville. It delayed us about 20 minutes getting out of the barn, but again, not a big deal.

As we drove through the rain, I double, triple, and quadruple checked the radar. Everything indicated that storms would kick up in Lexington around 5:30PM. We were planning to be on the XC course by 4PM, so that was PLENTY of time. We laughed about summer storms and were more concerned about how busy it all would be.

When we got to the horse park, we basically threw cash at the secretary and ran to tack up. I don’t think I have ever thrown equipment on my horse that quickly. While I had grabbed my ogilvy pad and my cambox… I left both of them in the trailer as clouds looked a little closer than they should be.

As I hopped on, I told NT that it’s always good to practice in less than ideal conditions. She agreed, and we were off! We saw several people trotting towards the XC fields, and a dozen more already out on course, jumping stuff. I even commented, “We can’t be that crazy if we’re not alone!”

We warmed up near the start gate for the event. I popped over a Starter/BN log a few times. As usual, May felt great and game. Fun!

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NT turned to me and asked me what I wanted to do. I waved her off and reminded her that we were there for her to school, so I would just jump whatever around her. We trotted out to one water complex with the Rolex Arena hanging around in the background (iconic). As we headed that way, I jumped basically every Starter jump I could find (most of the BN stuff was occupied by trainers and groups of horses). I even strung together some Starter jumps in more technical ways than they would be done for an actual starter trial.

By this point, the wind was picking up… and so was the rain… I think at one point I felt a piece of hail nail me in the back of the neck. But again, we weren’t alone. We even passed a kid on a very upset cute pony. May kind of flicked an ear at me, but honestly, she loves hanging out in the rain in her field at home, even though she has a covered shed.

We gamely trotted into the first water complex… and saw some lightning. Cool. A group of horses and people were hiding behind a couple of trees, so we traveled to the next copse of trees and figured we would wait out the wind and rain there. We were at least 10 minutes from our trailer anyway.

Part of me wishes we had taken pictures at this point… part of me is happy we didn’t. Despite being out of the worst of it, water streamed down our helmets and tack. However, both the horses just rested their back feet and chilled while the storm moved through. It took maybe 15 minutes for it all to blow through.

When we emerged from behind our tree… everyone else had left. I am not sure how many people can say they got a private XC school at the Kentucky Horse Park, but I can officially say that I am one of them!

MayXC Trot1We played around a bit more in the water complex we started at. I told NT that she just HAD to jump the ditch with a stream running through it. The jump was literally part of a creek that had been structured up to be a little jump. And… NT’s horse just could not figure out what the answer to the question was. We spend so much time teaching horses to step calmly into water… that when a question asks them to jump OVER water, sometimes it just doesn’t click.

May, however, really dislikes stepping in water. Even on trail rides, she greatly prefers to LEAP over small creeks and such, so I knew she would jump over it. So… after watching NT’s horse struggle to figure out the answer, I asked her if she wanted a lead. We figured it couldn’t hurt, so I headed to the side of the ditch she was one, picked up the trot, and faced May at this thing.

I grabbed my neck strap with my right hand and took the back seat… because no one wants to end up in the water… no matter how wet I already was. May trotted up to the ditch, stuck her face down at it, and then LAUNCHED herself over it. Jumped me out of my wet and slippery tack, and then politely loped away. Luckily, I stayed on (thanks neck strap), but I definitely jammed my thumb in its joint.

NT’s horse followed merrily behind us, and that seemed to completely help him figure out the answer. You could see him grow in confidence after that one question. Honestly, at this point, I can’t even remember if it was still raining… we were so damn soaked. I DO remember the way my breeches squelched against my saddle. Yum.

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We moved on to another water complex. It had a nice up bank to a semi-narrow option and a Prelim-level coffin pretty close together for NT, and it had some BN and Starter jumps for me. I cantered off and jumped the Starter stuff. Of note, probably best not to jump TOWARDS the trailers when your horse has been standing in the rain for the last hour… They might try to run towards it. 😉

After reining May back in, I watched NT jump the bank combination. I popped through the water and over the BN coup without an issue. Then NT gave me a little course. Through the water, over the N coup, left turn, BN coup back to the water. Coming out of the water, I lost May’s right shoulder, and she LAUNCHED over the N coup. Thanks Mare. It gave my knee a good torque in my… again… really wet tack. We still looped back to the BN coup and popped over that and through the water without an issue.

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Not surprisingly, NT had us do it again. This time, I nailed it, and it felt easy and fun, even in the muck. I was proud of May for cantering through the water, a skill she has just recently required.

NT jumped through the Prelim coffin a couple of times, and then asked if there was anything else I wanted to do. Nope! We tackled some water stuff, a lot of single jumps, and a few more technical questions. I was happy to get back to the trailer.

As we rode back… still in the rain… we saw no one else mounted. When we got back to the trailer, we snapped this picture, while trying to hold in our hysterical laughter. It was an… unconventional schooling… but it was a good one.

 

That’s my velvet helmet… which was so wet it looks Matte.

On the way home, I checked the radar one more time… I guess it was a little more serious than we had thought. 😉

Once home, the ponies got dinner and got to go out… in what was then a beautiful 75 degree evening with little humidity and even fewer bugs. Obviously, there was no way to get media in that weather, but I am 100% certain that it is a day that I will never forget.

 

Why Can’t Money Grow on Trees?

As I alluded to in a previous post, my dog’s vet bills were… more than the cost of almost my entire show season budget. Which is… less than fun. However, losing my part leaser meant that I really don’t have to split up my show season SO I am trying to rework it to see if we can still achieve that Novice goal… but just with more schooling shows.

My first thought was the below:

June 16th Combined Test – BN
June 30th Schooling Horse Trial – BN
July 28th Schooling Horse Trial – BN
August 10th Hunter Pace – JUMP ALL THE THINGS!
August 18th Schooling Horse Trial – Novice
September 14 – 15 Recognized Horse Trial – Novice

Then I added in the costs… OOOF.

Still.. more than I want to spend. So I pared it down further:

June 16th Combined Test – BN
July 28th Schooling Horse Trial – BN
August 10th Hunter Pace – JUMP ALL THE THINGS!
August 18th Schooling Horse Trial – Novice
September 14 – 15 Recognized Horse Trial – Novice

However… this really just doesn’t feel like enough for me to make the move up to Novice. Even though the recognized show is soft.

So it will probably look more like:

June 16th Combined Test – BN
July 28th Schooling Horse Trial – BN
August 10th Hunter Pace – JUMP ALL THE THINGS!
August 18th Schooling Horse Trial – BN
*November 3rd Schooling Horse Trial – N

This saves me… a lot of money. Maybe it means that next year we can do more recognized events and move up to Novice at a recognized event then.

*EDITED TO ADD – As one of my lovely readers pointed out, there is no Novice level Horse Trial at that venue hahahahahaha. Oh well, giving up for now. 

The Smoothing Effect

When I watched the video from my lesson on Tuesday, my first thought was “I wish we had nailed that first jump.” And that was true… but my second thought was “Maybe I should edit out that first jump before posting it.”

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Honestly, I hear a lot about other riders doing just that. I will reach out to someone, to comment on how much progress they have made, and I will get a response along the lines of “Thank you! That part of our course was really good! Just be glad you didn’t see the rest of it. 😉 ”

You know what? I am not glad. I am not glad because I see all this manicured social media everyday. (I am addicted to instagram… sorry not sorry.) You see stadium rounds of all perfect distances. Video stills that show the smile at the end of a ride. And you miss out on the chips, rails, run outs, scrappy distances etc etc etc.

One of the greatest breakthroughs in my riding career was stadium scribing at a horse trial. I saw WAY MORE scrappy rounds than flawless ones. I saw pros, ammies, and juniors alike all make mistakes. It became pretty apparent that our social media lives do not fully reflect our actual barn lives.

So, I left the chip in the video. I left the head flinging in the video. I post XC posts of me getting left behind and supermanning through the air. It’s all out there like dirty laundry, and I am proud of it. Because it means that I love this horse and this sport enough to keep trying, even when it’s hard.

So let’s air out those fails to the world. AND laugh while doing it!

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Another Lesson – Another Fall?

A quick background for this lesson, my left ankle has always been a mess. I messed it up a long time ago, and it likes to act up. If you remember a couple of lessons ago, I made my trainer get on because my ankle was in ridiculous pain. WELL on Sunday, I got up off the couch… and found myself in SERIOUS pain. Like got back on the couch, took an anti-inflammatory and was still WRITHING in pain.

By Tuesday, the ankle seemed fine, but I had it wrapped and warned my trainer that I wasn’t sure how long it would last. Since my trainer is awesome, her response was “alright, then let’s make the most out of whatever time we can get.”

We started over a fairly simple grid. A cross rail, bounce to vertical, bounce to crossrail, three strides, crossrail, bounce to vertical, bounce to crossrail. The idea was to keep the momentum coming forward through the bounces to make the three strides work. There was a fairly tight turn to the grid, so again, keep the momentum through the turn. Got it? Good!

The first time through, May was kind of like WTF when we turned the corner.

As a result, she sucked back a bit. I kept my leg on, and we made it work. Coming through the other direction, she was better, and it worked out a bit easier. NT put the crossrails up, and we worked through it a couple more times. Our distances weren’t always perfect coming into it, but May was jumping great. Sooo we didn’t drill it. I also admitted that the grid was putting a lot of stress on my ankle, and it was starting to ache. UGH

So we moved onto a little baby course. Diagonal, around to an oxer on the quarter line, then a roll back to another diagonal vertical. Easy peasy. And it was. Soooo the verticals got pushed up a bit higher, and we moved onto a longer course.

The course was one of those courses where you never really ride on the rail… Lots of distances just kind of floating around in space hahaha. So you have to be pretty deliberate about your line, pace, and balance to make things work.

To the first jump… I just didn’t have enough pace and kind of just did nothing. Cool Em. The pace LOOKS ok and FELT ok, but looking at the video, May wasn’t actually covering enough ground. Alright then, I fixed it coming around the corner to the square oxer. With the better pace, I could get the more open distance, and it was fine.

Same May… Same…

NT had warned me that the four strides on the diagonal line were a true four, and then the one stride was about 2ft short. As a result, the goal was to jump STRAIGHT and ACROSS the oxer into the line, and then keep my shoulders back through the verticals at the end.

If I throw my shoulders forward, do the distances come up better?

This… could have been ridden a touch better. I didn’t get May’s shoulders square until the VERY LAST stride before the oxer. (not a great feeling) Then, I got kind of ACTIVE with  my whole body down the line. As a result, I almost got TOO much step through the line. However, I kept my shoulders back and let May figure out the one stride.

We rolled back to the vertical. It was a good ride, and May just tapped the top rail. I think it was the highest jump on course, so she just misjudged it a bit. Since the spot was just “there”, I leaned forward a touch early, encouraging her front end to be a bit slow. Oh well.

I rode forward off of that… towards the triple bar. Have we ever jumped a triple bar? Maybe? Several years ago? Oh well. I just remind myself that horse’s jump triple bars well, and I rode at it.

My jump was pretty good. It was just a TOUCH close, which is kind of what you want with a triple bar. I actually BENT the line (versus SLICING it… like I love to do) and the seven strides worked out great.

Overall? Really happy with it. It was a course with a lot of different questions being asked, and we stepped up and answered each one as a team. I only got one real “head toss”, because a sassy queen realized she almost made it all the way through the horse without one.

My ankle was KILLING me by this point, so we called it a day. So? Where’s the fall?

WELLLLLLLLLL, while I was untacking May, it was only me and NT in the barn. I didn’t bother cross-tying May, and she was just chilling while I untacked. Well, I put the saddle on a saddle rack, and turned back towards May… then tripped over the end of a rubber mat.

I went FLYING at my horse, and I managed to HEADBUTT her on the side of the ass. Literally, there is a bruise on my head from this today. Poor May was BEWILDERED by the whole thing and spun around to snort at me. I ended up going ALL THE WAY DOWN, bruising the knuckles on my right hand, and scraping my knee bad enough for it to bleed through my breeches.

FEELINGS!

Honestly, I am just super thankful for two things:

  1. May didn’t kick me. Seriously – she would have had every right, but she didn’t. She didn’t even leave the barn. Just was… very confused. Someone got all the cookies last night.
  2. My breeches didn’t rip. I was wearing my forest green Sarafina breeches, and they… look as if nothing happened. Hopefully, the blood comes out, but at least they’re a dark color. I can’t believe my knee looks like something chewed on it, but my breeches are barely even scuffed.

I guess I live to fight another day. Maybe next time, I should keep my helmet on a little longer. 😉

Whirlwind Weekend

Shout out to Michele for not only making the trek to KY, but for trusting us with her horse for the past couple of months! I know it was a massive leap of faith, even with the amount of media I know she received from me and my trainer.

I think I spent more time at the barn over this past weekend than I have in MONTHS… and I never rode my horse hahahah.

Friday night, everyone managed to sneak in a XC schooling at the venue the barn was showing at this week. Since it was my part leaser’s first horse trial with May on Sunday, she got to take her for the XC schooling. The schooling was fairly quick, since all the horses were pretty accustom to the level they were schooling.

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Remus got to go too, but I won’t spoil that fun for Michele. 😉

Then, I proceeded to totally not sleep on Friday night. I guess my lack of sleep was due to like… a whole plethora of stuff going on. A vast chunk of it is work. We are in desperate need of help, but I can’t seem to find anyone to interview. Much less hire! Apparently, it is impossible to find someone with a bachelors degree (of some sort) and some financial services experience in KY. Tips anyone? We have been looking for 6 months, and the work just keep piling on.

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Two was anxiety about someone else showing May. I know this is dumb. These two have been taking lessons together for the last 7 months, and their XC schooling went off without a hitch. May is a total professional, AND they have done a CT together. Oh well, our feelings about our horses aren’t always rational.

Finally, I was super nervous about Michele coming. Like I said, she took a MASSIVE leap of faith when she threw her horse on a trailer and sent him up to KY. What if she got her and was super upset with the barn (not fancy), the training on her horse, or Remus’s condition? Or a MILLION other things?!

Either way, my mind kept working over these things, and I was pretty thankful when the sun finally came up, and I could get on with the day.

I met Michele at the barn early, and she got to see Remus and drop off her truck and trailer. Remus got pets and a promise that we would be back that night. We hit up a local tack shop, where I kept it pretty rational and only got May a new fly mask (needed), a new hoof pick (kind of needed), and a bonnet (not needed at all).

After lunch, we went back to my house and CRASHED until dinner. Then, it was back to the barn for Michele’s lesson. Again, no spoilers from me. 😉

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Sunday was show day! Luckily, my trainer was nice enough to take the early division first, so we didn’t need to be at the barn until after 8AM. Remus stayed clean, so we did a few barn chores before heading over to the show. I am not sure what Michele expected, but I am SURE it was not the CARAVAN of people my barn seemed to bring.

We had 5 horses showing… but we had 3 trailers and probably another half a dozen cars tucked away in the back of the field everyone parked at. The show was great. We got rained on a bit, but the ponies were perfect.

May and her part leaser put in a great Dressage test, putting them in third. They caught the first rail in Stadium, when May decided she would rather stare at the other horses than the jump, but the rest of the round was Hoof Perfect! XC is May’s best phase, and the two of them had a great run to keep their third place position in the BN division. Yay! Super sad to see that partnership end, but glad they went out with some success.

After all that, I slept HARD on Sunday night, and I am sure May did too! I have my own lesson tonight, and then May is getting a few days off, while I go visit my mom in Florida. More updates, hopefully before I leave.

Way Back Wednesday – Confession Time

Back when I was maybe 9 or 10, I rode at a super kid friendly barn in NY. It was maybe a half hour from my house… almost all by back roads. (I cannot believe my mom made that drive for me every week.)

How every adult probably felt…

Anyway, being a super kid friendly barn. It had A TON of school horses. I still remember them being turned out by just opening all their stalls… and turned back in by opening the paddock gates. Us kids knew to just get out of the way. Haha.

It also had HUGE group lessons. Like a lesson with 10 kids in it was not unheard of. Most of the time, we would canter one at a time, and then jump one at a time. So it wasn’t a total free for all. I LOVED that barn. I loved my instructors. I loved all the ponies. I spent a RIDICULOUS amount of time there, given my age.

When I was in college, or maybe a year or two out of college, I went back there one day… It’s the only time in my life I have encountered the old adage “you can’t go back”. There were new kids running around, and new ponies in the stalls. It was bitter sweet, but this isn’t about that day… this is about one particular lesson.

I remember that on one of these 9 or 10 year old days, I was dropped off at the barn, and it was POURING. Did I care? NOPE because it was PONY TIME. (There was no indoor of course)

So there I was, in my raincoat. My paddock boots (some kind of paddock boot/sneaker hybrid) securely tied to my feet. I rode a buckskin pony named Cocoa. I am not sure where all those school ponies came from, but they were saints on hooves.

I went my entire lesson on Cocoa in the Dressage arena. (We were not doing dressage, but I distinctly remember it being in that ring). When I got off, I put Cocoa in his stall and pulled his bridle off (I didn’t learn about crossties until I was almost a teenager). I hung his bridle on the hook… and went to take off my helmet.

Uhhh yeah. There was no helmet on my head. I had ridden an entire, hour-long group lesson in my rain coat, with the hood pulled way up… and no helmet on. As a responsible 9 year old (or so), I told no one… out of total fear of me losing my riding privileges.

I think I actually put my helmet ON THEN… to try and show that I was wearing one in case someone suddenly became suspicious? I have no idea, but I was determined that no one found out.

Nearly two decades later, I am finally coming clean. I rode an entire lesson… without a helmet!