Teenage Archives: Erv at the Royal

As recently mentioned, I found my old storage drive with a significant amount of my junior horseback riding experiences stored away on it.  I mentioned that just watching these clips made my heart smile, and revitalized how I perceived my current status.

The first few clips I wanted to share are of myself and the only boy I loved in high school.


As I mentioned in my original post about this gelding, he stole my heart with his catty quick mind, and heart.  Yes, he loved to kick out at the canter, and rarely bothered to hide his opinion (good or bad)…so you’d be shocked to learn that we tried him in the hunters first.  We figured that he’d benefit from the quiet, steady environment.


Getting his fancy braids in.

A few months after first getting the ride on him we headed to do the 2’9” (pre-childrens) stuff at a local rated show.  He was in steel shoes, and wasn’t the fanciest boy, but we gave it our best shot!  Check it out below.

I have no idea if we took home any satin.  But after this show we kicked it up a notch, and spent the winter training like crazy and switching to 100% jumpers.  It was an incredible honor to get to work with such a fun horse, and I’m so glad that he found a perfect home after me.

TBT: When Goodbye is Right

Originally written for Horse Junkies United last year, and for the spicy mare I’ll never forget.

Me giving Mandy a hug

It’s funny in life that some horses seem to follow us, traveling in the same circles we do.  When I was fourteen I took a big step in the riding world, moving onto onto of my trainer’s own hunter/jumper mares.  Her name was Mandy, she was a tall, bright red chestnut mare with the fiery attitude to boot.  From the first moment I sat on her I was in love.  She taught me lead changes, took me over my first three foot jump, and instilled in me the innate ability to hold on tight-and how to let go.

mandy 2007

Together we battled through my high school stresses, and a bone chip injury for her.  She was the first horse who totally and completely had my heart.  Together we spent over two year’s showing, going out on trail rides, and simply growing up together.  A boy breaks my heart?  Ran to Mandy.  I get cut from the swimming team?  Ran to Mandy.  She was my rock, always there with her big brown eyes, waiting patiently to be scratched in her favorite spot right below her ears, never judging or turning me away.

When it came time for her to find another home, and me another horse, she went to the most amazing family.   Even though I cried into her neck holding on to her tight, struggling to say goodbye, I knew it was the right thing for both of us.  With her new family, she devoured hunter derby courses, sped around jumper classes as only a chestnut mare can (with ears flat against her head), and loved her new girl.  I watched from the other side of Facebook, cheering them both on.

When I returned to my home town after college, and found myself at a new stable, I was shocked one day to see a beautiful, and very familiar face in the stalls.  It was Mandy, and I could not believe my luck.  I took pictures, cuddled her pretty face, and always made sure to stuff a few extra horse cookies in her stall.  Mandy had found her forever home in the family after me, and I loved having her around, watching her sass her way around courses even in her late teens.

mandy 2

That was several years ago now, and Mandy is prepping to make another big trip.  She is retiring, and going to be moving from our show based stable to a more relaxed lifestyle.   She was (and still is) one of the most opinionated, talented and honest horses I’ve met.  There is no other horse that could have brought me to where I am today in both my riding and in life.  While our first goodbye had hurt so badly, this one felt strangely right.  She deserves all the best a true retirement can offer her.  Goodbye pretty mare, you earned it!


Reminiscing Part Two

I thought I might highlight another one of my favorite horses from my past. He was a totally different ride than any horse I’d ridden before, or since. Plus who doesn’t like tall, dark and handsome??

Meet Erv…or Erving as I liked to call him.

Playing hunter pony here.

Playing hunter pony here.

Cute boy

Cute boy

This horse arrived at my trainers stable the summer after I turned 16, and right after my first “real” horse had been sold to another rider. With that lease over, I was on the hunt for something to focus on. However, I wanted nothing to do with this psycho. He was a 10 year old stallion, and while highly intelligent he was moody, and tolerated only certain people.

A few weeks into his new lifestyle/training Erv had a full scale meltdown in the stall aisle and kicked out, hitting a teenager and throwing her back against a stall.  A bad concussion and nasty cut would’ve ended this stallions reign at our stable, but my trainer still thought there was something there. My trainer acquired Erv from his long distance owner, and immediately gelded him.

Many weeks later, I was told that I would now be schooling, and showing him that year for my trainer. After my first ride on this opinionated, dark bay thoroughbred I was hooked. He was smart, incredibly athletic, and desperately needed someone on his side (I’m a sucker for the ones no one else likes). While he had calmed down as a gelding and with lots of training rides, Erving never made things easy. He was a whirlwind to ride, all enthusiasm and sheer determination. We showed a bit in hunters to ease him into the horse show world, but where we really found our sweet spot was in jumpers.

Looking for the turn

Looking for the turn

Such a good boy here.

Such a good boy here.

We were pretty successful in the next year and a half that we rode together. I really wish I had more pictures of us riding and showing. He became a totally game ride, who loved his job; I learned the fine motor skills that are required in the jumper ring. And for god sake, I learned how to hold on for dear life. He overjumped everything, and was known to “crack” his back hard. During my senior year of high school my trainer offered him to me for a steal of a price. I was 8 months from college, and had to refuse. I was devastated.

One of my favorite pictures.

One of my favorite pictures.

Shortly after I went to school, he went to a wonderful new owner, who I had ridden with for many years. She and Erving dominated the childrens/adults jumper courses with him until he was 18, when he went to on to go teach another younger girl how it’s done at the lower heights. Such a great guy.

Team Irving 2006

Team Erv 2006


Last night, in a desperate attempt to control my mental status (unsound after going thru these past weeks of O’s mystery lameness) I decided to take a lesson! It had been weeks since I’d been on anything other than my limpy girl-so getting on this adorable older thoroughbred gelding felt completely foreign, and awesome. Once we got going, I realized that this was what I needed most, just a chance to get back on and ride. All was suddenly right with the world.

It amazing to ride such an experienced, and savvy horse.  He was so aware of me, and my cues-just brillient.  Plus this ride really made me miss the jumper ring with his fabulous balance and ability to turn on a dime…and do it with such style.  Mine is still strugging with supporting her body properly (and that’s okay), so being on him made me feel like I was driving a sportscar!  So fun!

On the other hand though, my legs are still shaking today from the laps I did with no irons (on purpose). And that old boy schooled me, and made me realize how far O and I are from the kind of focus he has. But now I’m even more motivated to get there!