Passion Never Rusts

In my effort to fully immerse myself in everything horse this week, in preparation of possibly taking a lesson, I’ve been going through my “horse stuff”. It’s a box I brought from home, my South Carolina home, with some of the stuff I thought I might need, should I have the chance to ride while I’m out here in the Wild West.

A couple of months ago when I first got the idea to start riding again I tried on my riding clothes. Unfortunately my extra slim calf field boots no longer fit. They were a pair of Ariat Heritages, I know they aren’t the fanciest boots but I loved them, they were magical. There was no hope of ever fitting in them again, I honestly don’t want to be that skinny anymore. So I bit the bullet and listed them on eBay. It was a quick sale. I’m sad that they don’t make these boots anymore. I’ll have to wear paddock boots and half chaps this weekend, I’m not happy about this. At least they fit. My half chaps used to be so large on my legs that I would have to were multiple thick, long socks. Now; they are snug.

The next thing was breeches. The last time I tried any of my breeches on, they were all too small, so I had low hope of finding a comfortable pair. I love breeches. I haven’t ridden in a pair of jeans since I was 16 and I refuse to endure that ever again. They’re so uncomfortable. I have an old pair of Ariat breeches that used to be too big, and I always hated how they were high rise. I tried them on today, though, and they actually fit. They’re a little snug, but at this point it’s good enough. I’m even kind of digging the high rise now, it’s almost like a sense of security – everything is tucked away.

A lot of my other equipment is not in great shape. For some reason, I had it in my head that everything would stay in the same condition since I wasn’t using it. I was totally wrong. Everything is rusty, falling a part, or just lost forever.

My poor dear helmet. I wore this thing for a while and then fell off three times in one day at a show. I’m pretty sure I didn’t hit my head, but you know the rule. I bought a Charles Owen Wellington after that, and this Hampton Hat became a decoration. The last time I started riding, back in 2013, I couldn’t find my Wellington anywhere. I rode with the Hampton and hoped for the best. It looks like the foam is disintegrating. Has anyone ever seen anything like this? This helmet is probably 7 or 8 years old. Oh my Lord.

At some point while riding Morgan, my instructor instructed me to use a set of Tom Thumbs. After a while she told me to invest in a pair of Prince of Wales. Now I have one Tom Thumb, a set of Prince of Wales, and one that’s slightly longer and more curved that’s the PoW. And three straps. What? I’ve bought two sets. I’m so confused.

My gloves. These gloves were amazing. Does anyone remember when Tailored Sportsman made gloves? They weren’t very popular, but I loved them! Unfortunately they didn’t hold up very well and I ended up buying a bunch of pairs. This is the nicest set I have left, they’re kind of crunchy. Ew.

Bonus round! I have the Ariat helmet bag, boot bag, and garment bag from 2007. This helmet bag smells horrible! Can I wash it in the washing machine? Is there a special way to clean it? Should I just invest in new stuff and stop expecting things to last the rest of my life? Thanks for reading!


Picking Up Where I Left Off

It’s been nearly three years since I last rode a horse, or wrote in my blog. I just spent the past 30 minutes re-reading every blog entry, so I could start up where I left off.

First things first; the trainer and barn I was taking lessons with became very shady and never called me back. I heard they went out of business, but who knows. BT, the amazing lady that was letting me work with her ponies, left for Colorado. I stopped riding after my last blog entry, because there was nowhere else to ride. By the end of that year, 2014; I had enlisted in the military. I left for basic training at the beginning of 2015 and have been in training ever since.

Processed with VSCO with m3 presetDuring the past two years I’ve moved to Texas, then again to New Mexico, which is where I’ll be stuck for the next four years. I also met an amazing man, we’ve been together since basic training and became best friends. Our relationship grew strong, and just last month, November 5, we tied the knot. He’s very supportive of everything I do, and we’re so lucky to have found each other.

New Mexico is great horse country; lots of horse people, amazing barns, fantastic arenas. THEY’RE ALL WESTERN. Don’t get me wrong, I like western! I’m from the Deep South, I should’ve been a western rider. But I’m not. Finding a hunter barn in rodeo country is quite a task.

A couple months I volunteered at the state Special Olympics rodeo, which was phenomenal. While I was there I met a lady who is an eventer, not the same as hunter/jumper but she totally understands my struggle. We’ve became very good friends and have tried searching long and hard for a lesson barn. There are some amazing barns in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, 3 hours away. Also a couple potential places in west Texas, which are only two hours away. However, I got a message from my friend saying she found a place that teaches hunter on flat and has lesson horses, and it’s only ten minutes from here. No indoor arena, but apparently a nice outdoor. I’m not shooting for the moon but still really hoping for a miracle with this place. We’re going to check it out this Saturday, so until then I’ll be trying to sort out my riding clothes.

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!