Gracie goes off reservation

Monday was MLK Day and also the last day of winter break, or so Amanda and Robert tell me.  This turned out to be a HUGE deal!!!!  Let me tell about it.

First, let me tell you I LOVE trailer rides. There is something soothing about being jostled around in the back of a steel cage where my balance is crap and there are other horses constantly bumping into my personal space bubble… but that’s ok. I overheard that we were going to a cross-country schooling day!  I like jumping and all but, schooling?!?!?  I am a 9 yr old horse! I know how to walk trot and canter!  I can even jump over 2’3″ fences!  why do I need to go to school?   But there will be jumping!

So, at the break of day Maggie came and got me from my paddock and dragged me away from my cozy round bale.  I really didn’t mind. Jellybean was being a special pony and bucking around. I will never understand the exuberance of youth.  So much wasted energy that could be put to use eating hay.

Everybody got on the trailer with no issues,  It was a big trailer but still cozy with me, Knots, and Duncan.  We were flying down the road and enjoying the wind in our manes!  It was like galloping without running.  Before we knew it we were there!  It seemed like we were early since we had the whole area to ourselves.  There was lots of lush grass to eat.  High Point Farm is the best for grazing.  Next thing I know there is a saddle pad then a saddle and a bridle!  Oh God! when did we decide to ride instead of eat?!?!   Why am I on a lunge line?????   Circles!!!!!!  NOOOOOO!!!   My nemesis! oh, ok… I’ll settle down….  can we stop this circle thing now?   whew!  thanks.

There is sooooo much room for activities here!  Wide open fields for cantering, if I feel like it, (wink wink Maggie.)  and all of these fancy obstacles! So much fun!  We jumped logs and step ups, and coops.  Then Maggie tried to do a water element… Robert must not have told her I don’t like water elements.  I am a trooper though. I splashed right through that water even if I had a funny look on my face.  Then just like that we were done.  That wasn’t so bad.  I think I can handle this in a show setting.  Come on High Point Derby!

Back on the trailer for the ride home and some well deserved round bale. We are rolling down the road enjoying the wind in our manes when there is a scary loud popping and rumbling sound from the trailer!!!!!!   Oh God!  why is it leaning that way!  Why are we stopping????  Knots and Duncan don’t know either!  We are trapped in the leaning steel box of death on the side of the road of death with death cars flying by at 80mph!!!!!!   Save us!  I can hear Amanda and Maggie outside the box of death!  They sound unhappy.  I am going to paw at the walls until they tell me what is going on….  Still pawing…. still pawing… no answer.  maybe the cars of roaring death got them….  we are all going to die! Still pawing….

Finally I hear Amanda, Maggie and Katie talking about TWO flat tires on that side of the steel box of death.  Oh, no.  sounds like we will be here awhile.  still pawing….  but to no avail. The people are not listening.  I stop pawing and just wait…  ForEVER!

There is lots of noise and movement from outside the steel box of death as the roaring cars of death thunder by.  It sounds like someone is fixing the steel box of death.  More waiting….  then we suddenly start moving again. whew!  we may not die in here…. But why are we going so slow?  there is no wind in our manes. We could walk home faster than this.  At some point I took a nap because the next I remember is the trailer door opening at home.  We all get to go back to our round bales and relax.

Except for me, I see Jellybean has missed me. She is bounding around the paddock like an idiot.  Good thing for her, she is part of MY herd.

It is good to be home.

-An excerpt from the diary of the big grey horse (Gracie) dated Jan. 20 2015

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Cross Country Adventures

Monday was a holiday around here, so we were invited to an open schooling at High Point Farm with Amanda and company. I took Knots and Maggie took Gracie, and our other barn peeps Jeannette and Katie also came along. Katie, Maggie, and me loaded up the trailer at the farm and actually made it down super early. Like 45 minutes before we were supposed to begin the lesson. I realize this isn’t early for many people, but it was for us and I was excited.

We slowly tacked up and got our horses warmed up. Maggie spent some extra time lunging Gracie since she settles better into work if she has the opportunity to buck on the line instead of under saddle ;). Then the rest of the lesson people descended and it was time to warm up with the group and then head out.

Knots and I had a good warm up, we have been working on moving back to dressage fundamentals in all warm ups until he starts relaxing. I was riding him in a D-ring, fatter snaffle for the schooling with a running martingale (this is important as the day continued on haha). We managed to finish cantering just as the group was ready to move off to the first jumps.

The first group was a series of logs, horizontally probably 2′, 18″, 2’3″, and 2’6″. Plus or minus a few inches, I am not as good of a guesser from horseback. We schooled a combination of two (Gracie and Maggie) or three (Knots and I) to warm up. I started off by dropping him and letting him run to the first few, which gave us crappy spots and ugly riding. So we refocused some more and I tried to keep my body back.

Next set of jumps was a 2’ish box, a log pile 2’3″ish, and some tires (however tall tires are… 2’3″?). I took a picture.

We didn’t work over the big jump farther back in the picture. Anyways we jumped the logs and then circled around and jumped the tires. Knots was a little shaky going into the tires, but luckily my leg was engaged. Maggie had a little bit of trouble over the logs. Gracie is still jumping weird, and got Maggie jarred a little bit in the tack, then basically stopped and bucked after the jump. Maggie went up into the air, took her foot out of the stirrup, and landed one her feet with the reins in hand. Wow. I got a couple of pictures before the jump:

Gracie learned a trick too, the jump after Maggie dismounted, she tried to slam on the breaks on the backside of the fence and knock Maggie loose again. Maggie fixed that problem. After successfully navigating those jumps, we moved on to the next combination series, of which I actually got some video. For Gracie, Maggie jumped a 2’ish log, then came around over a 2′ green box, then up the hill to some 2’ish logs standing upright. See video:

My combination was the bigger log to the right, then the brown ramp and the table/house thing in the middle of the third set. We had some trouble at the ramp the first time through. We didn’t quite commit and we jumped the space in between the two jumps. Oops. Then we tried to add back the table thing, and Knots was getting tired and strung out. I ended up letting him gallop up the hill all strung out, and he took a very long spot to the table and I got left behind pretty good. This was good practice though, because I need to really keep working at checking his speed and not running. He needs to continue getting stronger so that cantering up a hill to a jump isn’t as challenging.

Before moving along, we jumped the last couple of elements, the steps. There was a step up and a step down. Knots and I have practiced these at Pine Hill, so I thought they were kind of fun. Except Knots wouldn’t trot. He wasn’t quite trantering, but just a very up and down excited canter. Gracie didn’t do anything notable, just went up and down.

The last area we moved to feature a couple of fake ditches, a bench, a table, and some railroad tie jump thing. I didn’t get a picture, but you might be able to see some in the last video.

Maggie jumped the “ditch” which was two poles on the ground about 2 feet apart, then over to the green box, then the stand up logs, and finally the step up. Gracie just did not feel led to canter during these exercises. You can see in the video that she just doesn’t hardly want to move forward.

For Knots and I, we started with the same ditch, then jumped the railroad thing, then over to the ramp and up to the table, followed by the step up and down. I felt more in control for this round, and we didn’t get strung out and gallop up the hill!

I thought we were done at this point, but as it turns out we went to the “water complex” and jumped into the stadium bit. We jumped the three logs from jump number two, then turned and cantered through the water, over some barrels, and then onto the stadium in jump (a small coup). Knots and I had some trouble getting over the barrels. I let him get strung out going through the water and lost my reins, then couldn’t steer over the barrels. Several times. Finally I made it over, then jumped into the stadium and apparently lost my phone.

I didn’t realize this until later, and luckily Katie noticed it in the stadium arena. Whew. I definitely didn’t want to tell Robert I needed another new phone (I just replaced a cracked screen…). Gracie didn’t have any problems going through the water, although she had a “this is yucky” look on her face the entire time. She jumped the same jumps and then at long last we were finished.

We took care of the ponies and then loaded up and rolled out, dreaming of lunch. Ha. That wasn’t going to happen.

We were about 20 miles from the farm on the highway when our tire blew on the trailer. Both tires actually, on the same side.

Luckily we had a great friend with a floor jack, and we managed to eventually… make it home. The horses were not too bothered by the experience, Gracie even stopped pawing eventually haha. Life lesson here kids: always trailer with a floor jack, a spare tire, and one of these:

We made it home unscathed, hungry, and tired, but at least we got Katie’s papers graded 😉 Maybe more pictures to come. I’m crossing my fingers one of the other riders friend took some awesome pictures to share.

The pros and cons of pasture boarding

It has recently come to my attention that my horses might do better in the pasture than in the current paddock with high tensile wire that they play like a cello (hehe). So I decided to make a list of pros and cons for pasture board and share it with my friends here. Tell me what you think I should do in the comments.

Pros:
More horses to socialize with
More space
Cheaper (100 bucks/month)
No evening chores
Grass/Round Bale I don’t have to buy

Cons:
Farther away from tack (like 300 feet)
Realistically, no daily eye check
I will have less extra spending money from working at the barn(this one is kind of complicated… but true)
Feeding routine is really good right now, I would worry about Gracie losing weight (maybe needlessly, should be fed the same thing in same amount).
No shelter (not that we have one now, but a new paddock should be built over spring break… which will have a shelter)

I feel like I have forgotten a few. And my cons list is definitely very wordy. Bonus video of Jellybean and Gracie reuniting after the rodeo trip:

Jellybean Goes to the Rodeo

So Maggie’s son has started hauling to rodeos. He’s your normal teenage boy, and while he’s too cool to really tell me he enjoys me coming, he is pleased when I show up. And I like spending the day doing horsey things. So this morning we loaded up the trailer and the calf roping horse, his friend’s horse, and Jellybean. Because why not…

 So I grabbed her from the pasture and loaded up. She didn’t know about the slant layout. So we put her in last, where there is no trailer tie and closed the door ;). She didn’t actually mind, but she didn’t much love the layout of the trailer. By the way, this makes her “conquered” trailers list include: stock trailer (cow and horse), slant load, and a two horse straightload (or at least that’s how it was configured for the ride).

We made it to the rodeo and I unloaded her and then brushed her while we figured out the entry status. Apparently we were a little bit late, so the kid rushed off to rope and we rushed off to watch. He took his two shots at the calves and caught one and missed another. Then it was decided he could enter another division, so we started waiting. Jellybean continued waiting.

And so it went. We got bored watching the breakaway roping and came back and socialized with Jellybean. I banged her tail. She moved all around being impatient.

For the second division, again missed one and caught one. Then we loaded up to head home. Jellybean went in first this time, and didn’t have a problem at all. Also didn’t have a problem backing off the trailer. Champion I tell you.

New Tall Boots Tomorrow!

The title says it. I got my first pair of boots as a young teenager, then I upgraded to some Ariat Heritage boots as an older teenager. The Ariat’s were modified at the cobbler to accommodate my wider calf, and are getting pretty schooling quality these days. So I taught Christmas camp and ordered myself a new pair of boots 🙂 Which will be here tomorrow! Whoop!

Why do you read our blog?

I have noticed the page views picking up dramatically in the last few weeks. Maybe its because I’m posting more, maybe its because we have some new readers [did you know you could subscribe?! look on the right panel and add your email address]. In any case, I’d love to get to know people better and what aspects of our story they like reading about. So I made a survey.

Click here to take our short survey

It had two questions. Check it out. And/or comment with any thoughts you have about the blog, since I was having trouble coming up with more answer choices 🙂

Robert and his friend Auggie in their riding lesson

Then everything was cancelled

Well nothing exciting this weekend to report. Everything was cancelled and it rained more. Almost made it to freezing rain, but then it was just a few degrees too warm. Its for the best I suppose. We get two more weeks to prepare.

Our dressage lesson went well enough on Thursday. We reiterated the rhythm aspect of the lower level tests. Apparently BN B has an obnoxious movement where you make the long diagonal and then immediately pick up the canter in the corner, which Sarah talked about. She reminded me to keep working on sitting up straight and focus on the rhythm above all else. Easier said then done, but we shall keep working.

Friday we were supposed to school cross country at Pine Hill. We loaded everything and got all the way to Bellville when the instructor called Pine Hill and the owner said too wet. Bummer that we wasted over two hours driving and the gas for a phone call that could have been made earlier. Next time I will personally call the facility before we load up the trailer.

All in all, meh weekend. I worked at the lab on Saturday and made Robert a pair of sweatpants on Sunday. And we napped. Done.

Gracie did get her mane pulled before the dressage lesson