I Need Your Opinions

There’s a strange lull in my area during the fall.  Sometimes there is a schooling show or two, but not much.  A few trainers are considering doing a jumper derby type of event, bringing together our eventing groups with the jumpers for a nice way to end the season.

 

I have been asked to help prepare a few things for said potential show–and well–I’ve never done a jumper derby.  God help us.

Erv training

Me as a jumper lol

Anyway, what I need today is opinions!  This time, it’s about vendors and prizes!  Let’s hear it:

  1. What do people like to get as prizes?  Back in the good ole days of me showing I loved getting coolers and saddle pads.  Is that still the cool thing?  Please tell me as I am no longer cool.
  2. Does anyone actually shop at these shows?  Is it worth while to grab some of our local vendors and have them set up shop?  Or should I just preserve that area for parking….

Other than that, we are just scoping out sponsors, figuring out bleachers and how to fit everything into our venue.  Anyone have any fabulous advice please feel free to share.  Obviously I am not doing this alone; we have a well oiled group who orchestrates many of the H/J shows.  It’s just a bit new for us, and the scale is a bit larger.  So trying to cover all our bases.

Image result for horse show derby fence

 

 

 

Lesson Kid Fails

I was apparently feeling a little big for my lesson kid britches after my lesson on the red giraffe.  This week I headed to my usual Wednesday night lesson outing, and after a rough few days at work, I was really excited to ride.  I listened to some jams to survive rush hour, had my riding clothes all packed up, leftovers were in the fridge for husband and child…I was feeling real good about life.

Except, you know, there were no lessons planned for that night.  But I didn’t know that.  Trainer was trying to get out of town to horse show.  I probably would known that if I had been a good lesson kid and checked the lesson board.  But that was a big nope.

Guys, it was so embarrassing.  Mainly because I kind of got choked up about it.  I wanted to ride so bad, but the show horses were all shipping out, lesson ponies had the day off, Dee was gone.  So you know, the smallest violin ever started playing for me.

Image result for tiny violin meme

Thanks for the image google

Waving off my trainers apologies (because clearly not her fault) I made a mad dash to go hide in car in case I actually cried over my missed lesson.

I made it just about .5 mile down the road when I started getting texts from trainer.


This is why you pay them the “big bucks”. Because they get it.  They get how badly you might need to ride.

My trainer hung around until I got changed into riding clothes, tacked up her adorable schoolie, and hoped on.  Since I wasn’t sure what the plan was, I was even more excited when she stayed late for a private lesson for me.


This schoolie was new to me, and is such a classy gentlemen.  He was a tall, slim, flea-bit grey thoroughbred, who quietly loped around a little 2′ course with me, swapping his leads and happy ears the entire ride.  There were no great revelations from the lesson, other than to keep my leg on, but that wasn’t the point.  The point was that my trainer was right.  I needed to get on a horse.  To cool him out, she shooed us outside and we took a nice solo wander around the barn property.  It was exactly what I needed.  Trainer is on the road for a bit, but there are local shows to cheer on friends at soon and that will be the perfect distraction!

He got all the pets and treats for giving up his night off for me to ride!

 

Horses Handed Down

It was an assumed part of having a child with my husbands background that said child would need to, at minimum, be able to handle horses, or sit quietly enough in a saddle to get drug along with a group.  His family still actively use their horses for work on the ranch, and we always planned on any kids we have being able to contribute as well.  From my perspective, though, I dreamed of cross rail classes and braids and bows.

Getting to ride Dad’s horse.


That was until recently.  A friend of mine, whose teenage daughter had caught the horse bug from her Mom early on… she had trained relentlessly for her first Grand Prix with the horse of a lifetime.  The girl is an amazing rider and she was more than ready.

Yet, just weeks before their big moment, her handsome gelding started acting off.  Fast forward to an intensive vet appointment that left the young rider, her coaches, her mother, and even the vets in tears.  Her gelding was done, they weren’t sure if he’d come back to be riding sound, let alone jumped again.

Always interested in Dee.


Everything in my soul ached for her.  All those years of dreaming and suddenly it was all over.  I watched her mother experience it all right with her; the heartbreak was palpable.  Obviously her gelding is living out his days as a very attractive lawn ornament, but where does it leave his rider?

My point here is that the night I learned about all of this, I swore up and down that I could never let my daughter get into sport horses.  The highest of the highs could not be worth the lows, right?  I didn’t know if I could support the heartbreak, the one you know will come.  They are horses after all.

Who doesn’t love a teeny pony?

 

I want to know, would you pass down you love of horses?  But risk watching and experiencing the heartbreak with them?

Every day I bring my daughter to the barn it becomes more of what she knows.  She’s happy there, and people are constantly offering me lead line mounts.  I’m pretty sure my trainer has a pony in mind for her (shh don’t tell my husband) down the line.  But I’m terrified for her.  Not just of her being trampled on, or falling off, but of having her heart crushed by these beautiful animals.  I know all sports can be brutal, but there is something so deeply emotional about horses.  They really become a part of you; which is wonderful until the moment it’s not.  I can barely handle it for myself, I cannot imagine watching your child go through it.

Yet right now, it’s safe to dream and allow her to love horses as much as an one year old can.  And I’m trying not to stress about the future, whether it holds cross rails or soccer practice (or God forbid both).  We’ve got a long ways to go until she has Grand Prix dreams, and that is a huge relief.  For now we’ll continue celebrating days that she stays in the saddle for more than a few seconds.

What Next?

Wellllllllllll, alright game plan time.  

Since the husband and I made the decision to not pursue buying this year, I’m living the quiet riding lifestyle.  I’m stealing rides on some lovely beasts who reside at the barn and reading everyone else’s blogs to fill in my horse quota.  I’m kind of in a holding pattern until I can either find a new lease, or stumble upon a similar situation for my lessons.  I have great faith that something will come wandering by, but in the meantime I have been soaking up the extra quality time with family and friends.


So it looks as if I am going to rock out as life as a lesson kid again.  I’m sad to not be riding as much as I was with Dee, but it still feels good to be riding period.  That’s what I need to focus on.

My first real lesson as a free agent was this past week, and I was so pleasantly surprised!  I always worry that since I had been riding the same horse for a long time, that I’d struggle with a new mount.  Well, my trainer must have a sense of humor because she put me on a 17hh+ red giraffe masquading as a thoroughbred.  He is long, bouncy and jumps quiet and flat.  So essentially the only thing he has in common with Dee is his species.  Ha!  But I had a blast.  And by the end I figured out how to steer again and we had some nice moments.  Not sure he’ll be a permentant fixture in my life (he has a lesser), but I was very glad for the ride.  


I’m the worst at photos. Here’s the giraffe feasting after our ride.  

This week everything will settle into my new normal, lessons midweek and hopefully a borrowed ride during the weekends when they are available.  It’s going to be good.  

BUTttttttttt if anyone knows of a magical unicorn who wants to be leased by yours truly-just let me know!  

 

Celebrating Dee

Thank you for all the sweet and positive comments everyone left on my last post.  Now that I have a little distance I’m feeling a lot of peace about all things Dee related (as I hoped I would).  She was a fantastic ride, and did so much for me over the 9 months that I leased her from her family.

But.

I knew that regardless of college, or barn moving, that it was a short term arrangement, and the objective was that at the end of the lease everyone would continue to be friends, and I could continue to see Dee if I chose too.  Although it involves more of a drive now, I can say that all of those things are true.  As such, I am calling the lease a big success.

In the beginning the lease was all about:

  1. getting Dee fit
  2. seeing if I could manage my daughter along with more horse responsibility
  3. having something consistent to ride in lessons/shows etc.

Under item #1: great success — no other words necessary…just transformation pictures:

Item #2: You can read about some of my most upfront struggles, but generally I learned that I am capable of handling my half-lease commitments.  I should recognize that it won’t ever be as easy as it was pre-child.  (I know that’s an obvious “duh”, but worth noting.)  Dee served as my sounding board/ guinea pig for all things tiny human related.  Scared of this stroller?  Nope? Okay good.  Able to eat goldfish/cheerios and not my daughter’s little fat fingers?  Whew – a yes.

While she gave me the mostest of mare glares for some of my worst moments juggling everything, she was a rockstar and showed me that horses and small children can work.  With extreme planning and safety precautions…but what happens as the result is so worth it.

img_2848Hearing my little girl chattering at Dee, or having her bring us her “riding” boots at the house and say “dee – dee – dee” over and over again (her version of requesting to go the barn).  It’s the good stuff, and it’s worth the extra time I don’t get to spend in the saddle.  If anything it makes the time I do get even better.

As for item 3…When I first joined the trainer I ride with now, I came from a barn rat background where I had leases going every which way, riding sale horses, naughty school ponies whatever…It had been a very long time since I’d really ridden in a school program.  After O left, I had the baby and I worshiped the schoolies who brought me back to full strength.  However, my trainer doesn’t keep a huge string of lesson horses, as her business is primarily in buying/selling and maintaining her clients horses.  Lessons are mostly owners.

I have nothing against the cute horses that we currently have in the string, but I feel like I have no right to take their rides from the 9 year old who is doing up-down lessons.  That doesn’t seem right…and honestly I’d rather the little girl get her fix.  I’m not going anywhere, and I’m not in dire need of a horse fix all the time (at least not like a horse crazy 9 year old does).

Dee was a perfect fit for my situation.  She already lived at our facility – was barefoot – hardy – and pretty unflappable. Having something nice to ride every week was a huge load off my shoulders.  When you have that established you can really set some goals and objectives as a pair.  It felt so great to be a partnership again, and to feel confident in my riding.  I think it’s obvious as you reread my lesson posts that I was never let down by this little mare, and I feel good about not letting her down.

After looking at our unwritten goals for this lease, I feel so much pride and happiness now.  I can look back over the past months and be so glad I had this experience!  What an awesome little horse, I’m so glad I got to get to know her better.  Thank you so much to her family for sharing her with me!

My biggest takeaway from this lease though, is what I hope will continue to drive me forward.  It’s a thought that popped up a few days after she left.  There may be days where I’m dying to ride, or days I’m too busy to even consider riding, and that will be hard.  I know now that I will always make something work, and riding will always be there for me.  I don’t need to sell my soul for the future to get here faster – because riding will be waiting, whenever I am ready.  Dee helped show me that in some things you really have to continue to follow your heart.

As for the next chapter?  I have a post coming about that, but I will tell you I’ve already bargained for some awesome hacks on friends horses in the next few weeks.  That should keep me occupied for a bit!