Weekend picture party

I’ve been posting a lot of pictures on my instagram (@atindalla) and the Diary of a Dusty Summer Facebook Page, so here are some of the recent highlights!


Hanging out with Jellybean bareback!


Gracie’s cut is almost healed, potential proud flesh aside.


Vinny is such a good boy.


Ashlynn and Jelly at Pine Hill Oct 2


Ashlynn and Jelly at Pine Hill Oct 2


One of the nemeses on XC at Pine Hill Oct 2

Stay tuned for a show write up! Ashlynn has promised me one very soon 😉


Riding Recaps

Busy weekend! Knots and I went to Pine Hill and then got in a lesson with our jumping trainer while Gracie cut her forehead apart.

Saturday was the schooling before most of the students head to the show this weekend. I was coaching some of the students with Maggie. I took Knots so we could have a nice positive outing after the terrible ride I gave him last time we were there. We didn’t do anything that was a real stretch. We jumped almost all of the beginner novice jumps, some of the novice jumps, and played on the “mountain” and worked up and down some banks. We also played in the baby ditch.

Mostly we ended up getting some great videos, thanks to Lachlan (!), and having good rides over all the rough jumps from the show. I did shorten the running martingale and ride in a regular snaffle without spurs. I’m torn about using the same equipment at the show, or upgrading to a kimberwick. And do I need spurs? Its always the thought that its better to have and not need than not have, but I’m not sure. I think the spurs add to the drama sometimes, especially if my leg isn’t quiet. The other thing I changed was the saddle. I have an older saddle that has better knee blocks than the newer one. It needs to be reflocked like I need to win the lottery, so I’ve been cautious about using it too much, and which pads underneath it. Problems to deal with sometime this winter.

No media from the ride on Monday. We worked on adjustability between jumps. I’ve gotten lots better at shaping the canter coming into jumps, but I’m still having trouble engaging through combinations and between related distances. We worked on a 4-5(?) stride bending line, with one side bent more than the other. No big jumps, just getting a good canter and having conscious thoughts between. Knots was really good. We are still arguing about how close to the jump we can get, and I need to be a bit more bossy. He can crawl underneath the jump and still round over, and I need to be more assertive about the deep spot sometimes, instead of being ok with a leap.

When we came home, I put Knots back out in the paddock and patted Gracie’s face. I noticed her forelock was all grubby, and then I saw the cut. I pulled her out to look at it, and then we cleaned it out.


Tis but a flesh wound! She was going to be moved anyway, since she is having a bit of trouble gaining back some weight. Now she gets the isolation paddock and she has a shiny aluminum bandage over her boo boo. Sad Gracie.

Business as usual

Lots going on right now!

Ashlynn is leasing Jellybean and getting in lots of ride time. Before she went on vacation at least :p

Knots and Gracie have moved into the barn, since they both suffer from being easy keepers. This is actually somewhat counter-productive, since camp kids are constantly feeding them treats. Lets be real, I’m constantly feeding them treats. Sigh. They approve.

Knots didn’t work too hard after the show, but he did have a standout lesson in the last week where he actually lengthened his canter in a grid without rushing. Also, I uploaded the terrible video of my run out at Pine Hill. The ugly right?

Gracie has gotten some love from some of the barn kids. Including some jumping

We also took a lovely trail ride this weekend. Jellybean was the horse of choice for one of the instructors that doesn’t have her own horse. Jellybean just cantered along and did everything she was supposed to.

That’s not entirely true. She did spend half of the ride plotting to kick Vinny, and almost succeeded in breaking my knee cap. Luckily Vinny moved over quick enough, and I paid better attention.

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Horses are such fun 🙂


I might be a trail horse…

Howdy “Neigh”bors,

Let me tell you a story about the other day… This was actually 9 days ago now. I am STILL traumatized.

Robert actually came out and rode me! Now, I know I am a horse and horses are made to be rode but, this princess horse has not been rode in a long time! I am Good Graces! Not some trail pony…

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon. There I stood, eating from my wonderfully delicious round bale. Then I hear it, the sound of Amanda’s car. This usually has no impact on me at all but, today would be different. I saw from across the paddock a familiar face! Robert has come back to the barn! This means treats and some scratches! So, off I went to meet him at the gate. As I approached I noticed he had my halter in hand… This is strange. Maybe he just wants to brush me. I like being brushed. Oh! A trip to the tack up area! BRUSHING!!!!!   But wait, why is the trailer here? Hey! Why are we tying to the trailer? What? Where are we going?

I’m confused as he continues to brush and prep me for something he hasn’t done in several weeks. He is getting tack… He wants to RIDE me?!?!? Oh this is not good. Huh? The tack just went in the trailer. Why did he put it in there? OH CRAP!!!!! The last time he did this we had to go jump all that stuff at the scary place! I don’t want to do that much work! I guess I have no choice. At least my friends Knots, Pandora, and Bear are coming too. Maybe this won’t be awful. On to the trailer! Let’s find out where we’re going. It was a long ride to the jumping place.

Wait, we are here already? That was a short trailer ride. I smell LOTS of fresh grass. This is not the jumping place. As I back out of the trailer I see open fields, wooded areas, and a big lake! This place is pretty cool! Look at all the grass. OH! Ok, tied to the trailer rail… I want that grass. Maybe if I pound on the trailer he will untie me… Oh, HERE comes the tack. I guess we are going to do this ride thing after all.

Ok, Robert is on board. Now I can eat some grass… where did my buddies go? They trotted off without me! Better catch up. I neigh at Robert to say ‘hold on’ and I trot off to catch up. This is a nice place, so much grass and trees. It isn’t even very hot in the shade. Suddenly, everyone canters up the hill. Thankfully Robert is paying attention and we run off up the hill as well. This is fun. Running around no rails, no jumps. Just the chance to be a horse in the open.

I am getting a bit tired though. We have trotted for a long time. Can we have a break now? Whew… Wait! What?!? Cantering again??  I’m tired but, ok. No. I’m really done now. Let’s walk.

We walked through the woods and found a new trail. I was in the back and couldn’t see where we were headed, but Bear was out front and his rider is smart. The trail kept getting thinner and thinner… Soon, we were walking in ankle deep water. I don’t like water too much, but Bear was ok with it so I followed. A few minutes later, the humans started talking a lot and we stopped. Bear said we had to turn around and go back. The lake had covered the trail.

Bear said I had to man up and lead us back through the water to dry land. I am not a fan of swampy areas; I can’t see what is down there and I get nervous. Robert helped though; he kept pushing me forward and not letting me get scared. We made back to the dry trail and everything was ok after that.

On our way back to the trailer I reflected on my adventures. I conquered open fields, small streams, wooded trails, swampy bogs and, trotting hills. I had a blast.

Maybe I should work on convincing Robert I am not cut out for eventing. Maybe I am really a trail horse in an eventer’s body.

I hope you enjoyed my story. I like to tell you my perspective on what happens at the barn. Humans just don’t get it sometimes.

-Good Graces

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And suddenly it’s summer

That’s kind of how Texas goes. Rain, rain, rain, then suddenly summer is here. This week has been the first week of riding camps and the first [full] week of Amanda bootcamp.

Amanda bootcamp is pretty straightforward, I’m just trying to get to a shape other than round for the July 3rd horse trial. I’ll be taking Vinny and Knots, and I would prefer to not die on course. I’m trying to ride at least a horse a weekday and I’m running a mile every day in June.

Friday we had a big day. We picked up a trial horse for a client that I’m really excited about. Before the trial, Maggie and the kids rode. And of course I did something stupid. Life lessons here: morbidly obese horses and bareback don’t really mix. It’s hard to hold on when you have short legs and are basically riding a table. I tried to lope the horse off, and I got right of center. Down I went. Solidly painful splat. Go team… This also meant I took a day off from running on Saturday, but Sunday I was just fine.

Monday was a little bit crazy, we decided to ride at 7am. This sounds easy, but when your alarm goes off at 6:10 its hard to run, eat, and make it to the barn to be getting on about 7. It didn’t help that the footing was also crappy. I ended up walking Knots around in the dressage saddle for awhile and accomplishing nothing.

Gracie had a stressful day on Monday. She was ridden by a new intern, which of course ruined her ‘stand all day and eat with friends’ plan. Then she was moved to the fat kids pasture, where the grain is less abundant. She paced the fence line when I left Monday, and she was still pacing this morning…

Then the chiropractor came on Monday afternoon. She did Gracie and Knots, and some of Maggie’s horses. I always like chatting with her and hearing all of her interesting stories. And the ponies like her ;). She’s coming back to adjust Knots one more time before the show. Gracie was a bit indifferent about the adjusting, but Knots was very relaxed and pleased to see the doctor. No side eye for the chiro.

Tuesday went much better than Monday.

I got up when my alarm went off the first time, then I went running. I had time to eat my breakfast, and I got to the barn closer to the right time. I rode Vinny on the flat where we continued working on not running from the leg. He still wants to run when I ask him to move over, which leads to me holding the reins and holding his head up. He was definitely better today than he was last week.

Maggie mentioned she was going to have a jump lesson with another student, which I jumped in on. We worked over a crossrail-oxer thing and then added canter poles. Knots had a mental breakthrough. Instead of running through the poles, he listened to my half-half and balanced through them and had a nice jump over the 2’6″ oxer at the end.

One of the canter poles turned into a cavaletti, and Knots gave me the same great attention as before. This exercise is great for him because it helps him really get to the base of the jump and roll back and round over the fence. We have a lot of trouble with this, Knots thinks fast is best. He gets nervous when we go too slow. Normally he blasts through this type of exercise. But not today!

We finished out with a big single oxer. The other student has been struggling with trusting her horse a little, and so Maggie pushed the jump up to show her that she can indeed do it. I got to jump it too, and have a couple of pictures.

You can see in the left picture, we got to the ideal take off spot, but Knots didn’t quite lift high enough. On the right, we jumped high enough, but a little early. We both need more practice at seeing the ideal take off spot. My leg isn’t terrible, but I need to imagine pushing my butt back and moving my hands down as we jump over more substantial fences. Maggie said this one was about 3’3′, which is pretty fun 🙂 Go Knots go!


Friday Fun

Rob and I had some fun Friday when it was time to drug Jellybean.

Gracie didn’t know what to do with Rob, so she just walked back to the round bale and started eating again. Ah to live the life of the horses.

Gracie’s exciting adventures

A week late, but better late than never, right?

Last week was an exciting week for Gracie. Her normal schedule consists of being ridden by a college student (Kayla) 1-3 times per week, and an occasional hack by Robert. Oh, and she’s SUPER fat. We’re currently contemplating moving her to another pasture so she can stop eating everyone else’s food.

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Monday she got to go to the dressage lesson. I don’t think Sarah has ever seen me ride Gracie (although lets be real, we still haven’t broken 30 rides ever…), and she hasn’t seen Gracie go (with Maggie piloting) since last year this time. So the potential for a big difference.

The dressage lesson was really thought-provoking. With Knots, I’ve spent a lot of time teaching him to move off my leg and trying to bend him around my inside leg. Gracie doesn’t have a problem running away from my leg, bending is impossible, but put a little leg on and SHOOOSH! Sideways.

One of the major benefits to the college student riding Gracie is the focus on slow, relaxed, and balanced flatwork. Gracie is a big mover, and she never really learned how to contain her majesty. She’s improved in HUGE ways with the riding Kayla’s done with her.

Back to the dressage lesson, we were able to improve on that work and start thinking about the next steps in her progress towards dressage pony (eventer, lets be real). Namely, holding herself up without freaking out. So, basically the same thing as slowing down, but on 20m figures and especially at the canter. All while accepting contact. Kayla is working with very light contact currently, but I was working with Gracie to accept a bit more. Especially because that’s how I can help her at the canter.

Our trot work wasn’t bad, I just needed to work on keeping the contact consistent (I see some loose side reins in our future.) She was having trouble falling in circle left and running out circle right. This is where the light bulb turned on with me a bit. Knots really requires a lot of inside aids to do anything. Gracie needs the outside aids to support her ridiculous, all-over-the-place movements. Quite different to think about in the moment.

We really worked in the canter to help her hold herself upright and without running either in or out of the circle, which, surprise, makes her feel more unbalanced and then makes her run, starting the loop of doom. This was especially challenging circle right, she had a lot of trouble holding the canter. I worked hard on keeping my outside aids consistent and allowing her to move out without falling on her forehand. Whew. This was a great core workout, and I have to get stronger as we keep examining this.

Dressage lesson was great, gave me lots to think about. And then I got to be at the barn when Kayla started over some jumps.

Kayla has been working on the flat for several months and getting Gracie to slow down and calm down. They have been working over poles, and keeping the same attitude: its not a big deal. Gracie still gets very excited about poles. (I swear we’ve been doing poles and crossrails the entire time we’ve owned her…) Either way, this was the first time Kayla was jumping Gracie, and the first time shes been jumped since Maggie rode her after she dumped Rob at the show last fall. Hopefully you followed that. Anyways. Video evidence of her going over jumps without freaking out too much:


Sorry for the sideways video, it was in the moment. Definitely some solid work here, she’s doing really well. Hopefully some more solid work with Gracie and Robert will have a bit more time and they can start plotting their next outing. There is potential in there, we just have to make the time to dig it out.