A Very Forgettable Day

A few years ago I developed a bump on my head. I went to the doctor and he explained that sometimes hair follicles get infected and cause a bump, or something like that. He gave me antibiotics and it went away. It came back in the same spot about two years ago, it never caused a problem so I never went to the doctor. However, after riding 10 hours last week, my helmet irritated it and caused it to become very swollen. It hurt so much that I couldn’t touch that side of my head. I had no choice but to go to the doctor. I had to wait a few days for the swelling to go down, but today I was finally able to ride again! The doctor had told me to be careful about going out in the sun, because it could cause me to get a rash while taking antibiotics. I knew it wouldn’t be a problem today because it was overcast and freezing!

I decided to ride Jolly again today. So BT got on a horse named Freckles and we went for a nice long hack. My head was still very swollen and my helmet was putting a lot of pressure on my lump. I remember going for a hack, but I honestly can’t remember anything specific that happened during the ride. I do recall the fact that I was freezing, as in I was literally shaking while we rode. After our hack I tapped out. I was too cold to go on, and when I took my helmet off I was so dizzy and lightheaded I thought I was gonna pass out or throw up.

My trainer still never texted me back. I still haven’t been gotten to take another lesson, its been almost a month since my last lesson. I’ve decided to stop trying to contact the guy anymore. Clearly there’s no place for me at their barn. I love riding BT’s ponies, but I really want to take lessons. I think it’s important to keep learning, no matter how good you get. Its hard to find hunter/jumper barns around here that have lessons horses though. That’s my main issue. But, we’ll see what happens next!


A Horse Should Just be a Horse

I got out to the barn a little late today, so I only had time to ride one pony. BT asked if I wanted to ride Tulip, a medium grey, Welsh pony. She’s the cutest little pony! We got mounted and went for a quick hack around the lake. The logging company is still cutting trees, so BT told me to pay attention; Tulip is young and a bit spooky. The entire ride she was a bit looky, but for a young pony, she was bombproof! I know very old, very well trained show horses that would have left their riders high and dry if they had been on the trail with all that commotion going on in the woods. I’m more and more impressed with BT’s horses every time I go to her barn. They need conditioning and flatwork, but they all have wonderful conformation. They’re all healthy, well maintained and cared for. They’re all basically bombproof, no bucking, no bad habits. They’re horses, they act like horses. No diva show horses that are scared of their own shadow. No temperamental fancy horses that get hurt or sick at the drop of a hat. They’re all just horses!

After our short hack, we went to the ring. BT told me I could take Tulip over a few fences if I’d like, and she agreed to film me again. I could tell Tulip is young, she jumps great and is very brave to the fences, but her steering and balance leave a lot for improvement. We did a few small, unimpressive courses at a trot. She was all over the place with the approach, I know a lot of these problems have to do with me, but I can tell she needs a lot of steering work. I forgot to mention, this bombproof, brave to fences pony is a 5 year old who was only started under saddle this summer. I’d say she’s doing pretty great to be inexperienced! I wish all green ponies were as easy as her.

My trainer finally responded to my text. He told me I’d be able to come out for a lesson either that Saturday or Monday of next week. I told him I was busy that Saturday, but I was free Monday and asked what time he wanted me to come. Unfortunately I haven’t heard from my trainer since. I’m still waiting for his response.

A Day Full of Ponies

Even though I was sore and exhausted from the fox hunt yesterday, I headed back out to BT’s barn to work some ponies.

We decided to take Jolly and BT’s horse out for a hack. I like working in the ring where it’s easy to focus, but working outside on the trails is a great way to condition the horses. The main thing her ponies need is conditioning since they haven’t been in consistent work for a while.

There’s a logging company, cutting trees and leveling things out, back deep in the woods. They’ve got the place in a huge mess, so we kept running out of places to ride. After about half an hour, we headed back to the ring. I did a little flatwork with Jolly, before popping him over a few fences. He really loves to jump, I could tell yesterday at the fox hunt. Every time the group would go to a jump he would perk up and get excited! After we passed a few jumps, that day, he got really frustrated. I figured I’d make it up to him today by letting him go over a few jumps. Since we were taking it easy, we just trotted over a few small fences, but he really seemed to enjoy it! I asked BT if she’d film us jumping with my phone. After watching myself ride, I must say I’ve got a lot of work to do!

We finished with Jolly and Blaze, then mounted right back up. This time I was on a big, black mare named Brianna. BT rode Trick Me Not, the other pony that went hunting with us. We took these two for a hack too, but just a light trot around the closest lake so we’d avoid the loggers. As soon as we started trotting it felt like Bri was slightly lame. BT said she couldn’t see it, but told me that Bri had been out of work for a while. After a little bit of trotting she felt better, but I didn’t wanna push it. We headed back to the barn and I put Bri away.

BT asked me if I wanted to school Trick in the ring, since he didn’t get much of a work out. I hopped on and we walked out to the ring. I rode in BT’s saddle and didn’t adjust the stirrups, they were really long but I figured it wasn’t a big deal since we were just doing flatwork. Trick is a very flashy little bay, I had assumed he was some breed of pony. While I was schooling him, BT told me he was actually a Thoroughbred who was trained to be a race horse, he had 9 starts and never did well. I can’t imagine why, he’s so short! But he’s absolutely adorable! I really liked the way he moved, but he was pretty unbalanced and didn’t bend very well. We worked for a while, doing circles and serpentines. He seemed more interested in the jumps. I think its great to jump, but without good flatwork your trip isn’t going to look very nice, no matter how well he jumps or how good your equitation is.

BT and I talked a little, after my ride. I explained to her that I’d really like to work on getting the ponies going good on the flat and she really liked that idea.
I’m still trying to schedule a lesson with my trainer, but he hasn’t responded to any of my texts.

Who Cares What The Fox Says

Rise and shine, its 4:30am! What was I doing up at this unreasonable hour? What any normal person does before the sun comes up on a Wednesday morning; getting ready to go fox hunting! But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me start from the beginning.

Over the summer, one of my friends put me in contact with a lady (I’ll refer to her as BT). She has a farm in the next town over, with some VERY nice ponies! She needed help keeping the ponies in consistent work, and was interested in having me ride for her. I went to her barn, but with going to school full time and working full time, I didn’t have enough time to dedicate to riding. This week I decided to contact her and find out if she was still looking for help keeping the ponies in shape, she was ecstatic. I still wanna take lessons, but I figured the extra riding would help me get back in shape quicker since I only take one lesson a week. The day I contacted BT, she told me she and another girl were going to a fox hunt the next day and invited me to join. Fox hunting isn’t something I’ve ever been interested in trying, but I didn’t want to pass up a chance for a new experience.

Now that you’re all caught up, lets get back to the break of dawn. I had asked BT, the day before, what I should wear. I don’t have a white show shirt or stock tie, so I went with a white with blue stripes show shirt. I also went with my heavily hated, heavy black wool show coat. Luckily, I still had one pair of tan breeches, I don’t like wearing them because they’re midrise and too big.

I had no idea what to expect, so BT gave me a quick run down on the way to the hunt. The place where we parked was my lesson barn. I had texted my trainer a couple of times since my last lesson and he hadn’t been able to schedule me in. While we unloaded our ponies and started grooming, I couldn’t help but keep looking over at the empty barn. I let my mind race with questions, wondering if maybe the trainer was annoyed with me after I refused to lesson on Parker again. I wondered if he would be mad that I started riding with another barn and didn’t tell them. I realized how dumb I was being, my trainer is a really reasonable guy and would probably be happy that I was trying to get in riding shape quick. I turned my attention back to Jolly, my mount for the day. He’s an adorable large Paint pony. We rushed to get ready, but kept taking short breaks so BT could introduce me to all the hunt people. The parking lot was over flowing with rigs, there were a lot more people there than I expected.

As soon as the three of us got mounted on our ponies, we headed across the road to the kennels. We waited there for at least 20 minutes, letting other riders catch up, and letting all of us get nice and frozen. There were 3 groups of riders, we were in what was called first field. This group stayed right with the hounds and they jumped every fence we came across.

As soon as they released the hounds, we were off! We started trotting and I don’t believe we stopped the entire ride. Right as we were getting into the woods, BT’s pony decided Jolly wad too close so she kicked out, but instead of getting him she hit my ankle. At this point I was completely numb from the cold, so I didn’t notice the pain too much. About an hour into the ride, we started coming up on jumps. BT had told me that the jumps were 3’3 and higher, but that there was a path around every jump. I decided before we ever mounted that I’d be taking the path around the jumps. Don’t confuse this with me being nervous, I believe the pony would have no issues and I know I’m capable of doing it when I’m in shape. However, I think its important for every rider to know their limits. In a situation like this it would’ve been very irresponsible for me to go galloping up to a huge fence, land in a heap and fall off. This was only my fifth time back in the saddle in years, and BT completely understood that.

After over two hours of trotting, with no foxes in sight, I was done. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes from my ankle hurting so much. Every trot stride was agony. I explained to BT and she said we could head back to the trailer. I think she and the other rider were both ready to get back as well. From where we were, it took us an hour to get back to the trailer.

It was such a long day, but we had tons of fun! Even though its not really my thing, I thought it was a great experience!

The Stead Of The Week

Today, the question of what to wear to my lesson was simple; lots of clothes. The temperature for the day never reached above 40 degrees. I wore a thick sweater, a fleece jacket and a wind jacket on top. I went with the bleu breeches because, out of the few pairs I own, I think they’re the thickest. I assume its because they’re the least worn.

I arrived at the barn and was anxious to meet my stead of the week, since Striker went away to lead change boot camp. My ride for today was Parker. He’s a 4 year old, BIG Quarter Horse. They told me one more thing about Parker before I mounted up, he’s a western pleasure horse. I’ve never ridden a western trained horse, but for some reason I had it in my head that it was going to be an easy, quiet ride.

As soon as I got up in the saddle, I realized just how big Parker actually is! It felt like I was doing a split the entire lesson. While wd walked, my trainer set all the jumps to found poles and explained the exercise I’d be doing later. The point of the exercise was to work on learning distances. The object is to canter the ground poles and count, out loud, the last three strides to the pole. I was super excited about this exercise! Its so simple, yet it seemed so effective.

We began working at the trot, he was smooth but his gait felt odd. Not lame, just different than what I’m used to. We started trotting over cavaletti. It went smooth the first few times. Then the trainer decided to spread the cavaletti to make him reach more. Parker thought it’d be easier to canter and jump the poles, and I just wasn’t strong enough to convince him otherwise, even though we tried many times.

After the cavaletti disaster, we moved on to working at the canter. I set him up for the canter transition, but when I asked for the departure; he broke into a fast trot. I got this result for a while, I felt like the worst rider ever! All the barn girls were in the ring, watching my lesson, including Parker’s usual rider. We cooled off and walked a minute. I asked again, this time I was successful. He cantered heavy on his forehand, and even though I was in a half seat, he was pulling me out of the tack. At this point im freezing, shaking like crazy and I can’t feel my legs. He kept breaking gait, popping back into a canter, then breaking gait again. It was tough to keep my leg on him, especially with him pulling me down every stride. We cantered the opposite lead, he was pretty hot at this point. He wanted to gallop, he was so heavy in his front. His canter felt so downhill and he wouldn’t respond to my half halts. When I finally got him down to a walk I made it very clear I didn’t wanna canter again. The trainer told me to do a little more trot work, but he decided it was best if we called it a day. Parker was too worked up and hot, he kept trying to canter instead of trotting. I dismounted in the ring and walked Parker back to the barn with his rider.

She and I talked for a while. The girl (I feel bad that I’ve already forgot her name) explained that Parker does the same stuff with her that he tried in the lesson. She told me that it took her a long time to get used to the way he goes, and that she still has a hard time. I liked Parker, he was pretty, I just don’t think I’m suitable to ride a very young, green horse. I thought I had made that pretty clear in the times I had talked to the trainer before hand. When I walked back down to the ring to talk to the trainer, he assured me I would get a long better next time with Parker now that I had felt how he went. I assured him there wouldn’t be a next time. He seemed taken aback by my refusal to ride him again. I understand that the trainer calls the shots and knows best, but in this case I strongly believe I don’t need to be on a green horse. After my trainer realized I was serious, I believe he understood. He agreed to put me on someone else for the next lesson.

After this week, all I can think about is how much I can’t wait to ride Striker again!