Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Keep Moving Forward

Its here, the inevitable New Years Post. So lets get some stuff out of the way:

1) I thought that 2010 was rough, 2011 was rougher, much rougher. 2012, you had better have your shit together because none of us can deal with anything worse than 2011. Done.

2)I'm gonna be a better person/lose weight/yada yada yada. (but this year for real.....)

Okay, now on to more important/fun stuff :)

I'm still begging for votes, winning the "coolest horse in the world" contest would make a huge difference to me please take a second and use this link to vote: Video title is "cooles" (fifth row, first video on left) Video picture will say "Bastian is the Coolest Horse in the World" I'm actually in first place right now....I'd like to stay there! :)

I'm enjoying my short little break from school, I'll be getting in lots of riding time :) Yay! I've got a lesson on Friday, and then hopefully two more next week followed by the Chagrin Valley Farm Hunter Schooling Show on Saturday the 7th, we're doing the 18" division again. We've been jumping 2'3"ish in lessons, but I still need some confidence at shows, so we're doing something I feel safe with.

I had an awesome lesson last Friday and today's lesson was just as productive and wonderful. We're jumping very consistently and I'm actually pushing to the fences. Its been great. Kristin's hopped on him at the end of both lessons so he could get in some jumps with someone who knows just what the hell they are doing. I'm excited for our show this weekend, I think he's going to be quite a good boy.

So 2012, we're going to Keep Moving Forward. Forward to the jumps, forward to our down transitions, forward into whatever you try to throw at us. Bastian and I are ready to take you on. ;)

Here's the plan for 2012:

Winona Horse Trials (starter division)

Stone Gate Farms Hunter Pace the next week

May-Daze at the Park (dressage and eventing! yay!)

EHSC Combined Test June 2/3 and/or Lucinda Greene Clinic at Stonegate

WPDA/Grand Haven Dressage Show

LHPC Horse Trials (BN)

South Farm Horse Trials (BN)

NODA Dressage

EHSC Horse Trials (BN)

And some more dressage shows thrown in there. Should be fun! Wish us luck and come cheer us on!

Happy New Year!! :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Vote for Bastian!!!

Hello!!!! Okay, first order of business. Thank you to everyone who "liked" my photo in the Smartpak's Worst Dressed Rider Contest. This was my fabulous outfit:
We came in third and I scored a pair of Sit Tight Supremes in Tan. I'm super excited. Kerrits Sit Tights are pretty much my breech of choice :) Woo-hoo! Second Order of business. I found another contest, this one is way more important and I need serious help for this one. Its a contest for "The Worlds Coolest Horse" I uploaded this video to The first entry to 5000 votes wins. The prize you ask? $5000. Yup, that would really go a long way with me getting my financial situation sorted out, that is two major bills that I could pay off. You can vote once daily, voting ends when someone hits 5000 votes or on December 31st. I cannot beseech you enough to please please please please vote for me!!! Here is a link directly to the contest page: Our video is the first one in the sixth row, click on it and it will appear at the top of the page, then just hit the "vote" button. You can vote once every 24 hours. Please please please vote. Third order of Business: Bastian is wearing four shiny new shoes and was an absolute peach jumping today. He's been a peach for the past couple of weeks. His canter is really coming along and we're getting good at our "leading up to lead changes" exercises. Today we started off with a x-rail, he jumped it AWESOMWE so we made it a wee-tiny 2' verticle and he was still super-didn't look at it wonky once, so in a fit of enthuisiasm I put it up one more hole and made it a 2'3" verticle and he soared over it and was super good! I actually had to push him to the fences, he was coming in super quiet and soft so it was nice for me to have to think about pushing him forward, trying real hard to see my spots. I think I have trouble seeing my spots because I'm not a math person, I'm a writing person so I would prefer if we could just do creative jumping or something instead of having to visualize and try to figure out where our take off is and if I need to push him or pull him back a bit... but we're working on. So to review: 1) Thank you for helping me score some free breeches 2) Please please please vote for my video every day...encourage your friends and family members to vote too! 3) My horse jumped 2'3" today beautifully and by my own free choice (I wasn't even in a lesson....) Thanks all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Hello hello! Well, tomorrow is Turkey Day, probably my favorite holiday (St. Patricks Day and Halloween are close seconds). This is because I love food. Its totally yummy, but it also unfortunately makes me chunky in ways that do not look good in breeches. This is something I've struggled with, as I'm sure the majority of people have. I've got to get back on the wagon, if I'm going to accomplish my riding goals, I have got to be more physically fit.

But that's not what I want to blog about today, thats just sadness. No I wanna talk about happyness and frustration. With riding they sometimes go hand in hand. Since the horse show Bastian has been wonderful, we've put in some very nice flat work and his canter has gotten sooooooo much better. He is engaging his hind end better and is just overall feeling good. So this equals happyness.

So I had the bright idea of tyring to learn how to properly do flying changes and teaching Bastian. So I had a lesson this morning and needless to say we did not accomplish our goal. Which while I did not expect to master flying changes, I guess I did have hopes of getting half of a change or getting pretty damn close. Instead I got a super rushed canter and some great counter canter.

Bastian's got a pretty nice counter canter, we've been working on it for a while now and he can do very balanced serpintines without even trying to change, in a year from now, if we've finally mastered some other 2nd level stuff, the counter canter movements should be cake. So anywho, Kristin had me doing a lot of stuff. I mean a lot. This whole flying lead change is probably the most complicated thing I have ever learned how to do. My pony did them automatically, she was awesome, but she also got crazy while doing them because we were mostly doing them while polebending. So I kinda know how to ask, but I don't know how to do it properly (like dressage scoring 7 properly, I might be able to pull off a 1 or a 2 on a horse that already knew how to do Anyway, Bastian was just kinda saying WTF to me. Not in a mean way, just in a you don't know what your asking me to do, I don't understand it so I'm just going to counter canter and go faster because you are kicking me and touching me with the whip and kicking and whip mean MOVE!

Kristin hopped on him at the end and was able to get a change in each direction out of him and we ended on that. It was very frustrating. I knew it would be tough going in, but I also very much believed that by the end I would have made measurable forward progress on my journey to learn flying changes. Instead I made progress in the context of taking lots of steps backwards and understanding how complicated this process is really going to be. Which is good, I've been thinking about it all night and trying to break it down into steps that will allow me to figure this out, I wouldn't be surprised if in my dreams tonight I try to get B to do a change (provided I don't have a nightmare about our Turkey busting out of the oven and trying to kill me...)

But this frustration is kinda new. I have good rides and bad rides, but I have always finished better than I started or progressed. This time I didn't. I finished off worse than I started because now Bastian is rushing in the canter, and we can't even get a half change for all that. I'm anxious to get back out to the barn and ride, I want to figure this out. I'm trying to plot when I could sneak out of the house before dinner tomorrow (no way could I ride after dinner!) but don't see it happening. Black Friday involves work and then the Black Friday Sale at Big Dees, Saturday involves more work. So right now its looking like I won't make it back to the barn until Sunday. :(

Maybe a few days off will give Bastian the time he needs to figure out just what the heck it is I'm asking him and give me the time to mentally handle all the new info and instructions I got. I've got a few exercises that we need to work on and I've got to learn how to count again (which if you watch my lessons where counting something is involved (canter strides, strides btw jumps, etc) you see immediately why I did not become a Math Teacher.

I am thankful for my horses and that I have horses in my life. They are wonderful and have made me a stronger, better person. So thank you ponies!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


There comes a time in every equestrian's life where you have to make that crucial decision. That decision on what horse you will ride or own and what disciplines you want to pursue and whether or not riding is a sport that you should continue to participate in. This decision is built on a myriad of factors, your skill level, your background, how much life do you want to have outside of your horse, your comfort level, your economic situation, your family, etc. etc. etc. I feel like I've made this decision more than most.

And each time my decision has remained the same: Continue. The first time I had to face this decision was about 4 years ago when I came off a horse and broke my back. At the time it happened, I was paralyzed from the waist down, no movement, no feeling. Thanks to fantastical medical advances and lots of physcial therapy, I was able to regain a good portion of both feeling and movement, but I have been left disabled. I limp, I have a lot of difficulty controlling my lower leg when riding and I have minimal feeling in my lower leg. I was banned (by the doctor) from riding for 9 months.

Obviously, I was at a point where I didn't even know how well I was going to be able to walk, much less sit on a horse and feel comfortable and actually ride. I don't remember ever questioning my decision to ride again. I cheated and started "riding" at 7 months and by riding I mean I tacked up my 27 year old pony, hauled myself up on her back and sat on her, sometimes we went for a walk. I saved the trotting for the actual 9 month mark....

My biggest decision here was what to do with Bastian. I had only owned him for 2 weeks when I broke my back. He was an untouched 3 year old. He was my event prospect. He was basically the last thing that I needed in my current state, a baby thoroughbred. I wrestled with it, but decided I had a strong enough support system to get him trained. What could I say, I really loved his personality on the ground. And that decision has turned out well, he isn't exactly the dressage horse I would have hoped for, he is made to be an eventer, he loves to jump. He lacks some experience but he love love loves his job.

Anywho, I've been pretty gung-ho about pursuing this whole eventing thing. Bastian has been jumping like a champ and I've been holding my own. The last two weeks have been jumping intensive, leading up a Hunter Schooling Show on Saturday the 12th. Last week got out of hand schedule wise and I ended up only riding on Sunday and the Friday before the show. This frazzled me. I had planned on entering the 2'-2'3" division.

My lesson on Friday started out mostly good. I was still pulling back too much, trying to go too slow up to the fences, but we were working through it. We changed a x-rail up to a vertical and were cantering up to it, Bastian gave it the wonky eye. I committed to it and got a bit aggressive with him and he responded by jumping it HUGE, which wasn't so bad, but then he sorta twisted to the left and when he landed, he took off left while I continued to the right. You don't need a science degree to figure out that I hit the dirt. I had the moment of panic, which ended once I actually hit the ground and all I had was muscle/bruise pain, nothing broken. So I have to say that I was happy, even if I didn't actually look like I was happy. LOL

My fall wasn't anything more than lack of experience and bad luck. Bastian wasn't really being naughty, I actually rode correctly by getting aggressive and saying "yes we are jumping this." It was bad luck. Kristin got on him and schooled him over the fence a few times, then I got back on and I tried to get her to lower it back to a x-rail for my first time back over it, but she refused (and that folks is quality instruction!) and I had to take it as the vertical. We did so and he took it beautifully. So the lesson ended well. I did what I had to do to get through the lesson, I blocked as much of my fall of my could from my mind and tried to ride without fear. Didn't work out super well, but we managed, so therefore it was successful.

But later that night, as I was shopping at Giant Eagle for some yummy alcoholic beverages (because that is always the answer after a fall from a horse provided you are old enough!) I felt like I was at one of those crucial decision making points in my life. Am I making the right decision in continuing to pursue jumping? Yes or no?

Common misconception says yes. Why? Because people believe that jumping is more dangerous than other equine sports. This is not true. Ignorant people make ANY discipline dangerous, not the discipline itself. The three times I have been majorly injured (broken ankle, then my back, then my hip) I was jumping a x-rail, dismounting, and jogging on a trail ride respectively. All three were accidents that really did not have a reason for turning out as badly as they did, it was luck (bad luck at that). The majority of horrible riding accidents happen when equestrians are doing mundane things, not the "supposed" dangerous things. Why? When we are doing the things percieved as dangerous we're being more careful, so we are usually quicker to make corrections and adjustments so we don't get hurt.

Secondly, as equestrians we have to realize that we are dealing with 1200 lb animals that have their own agenda and no matter how much we love them, they are stupid (except Bastian of course, he's super!) Falling off, getting some bruises and scrapes is unfortunately part of the business. If you can't accept that, play Tennis, or stick to your super safe Wii. Riding is dangerous, accept it or don't ride.

So after a lot of thinking I decided that I was making the right decision. I'm most likely going to come off over a few more fences as Bastian and I work this out and get to the level I want to show at. Its not gonna be easy, but anything in life worth doing is difficult. I still want to continue to pursue my dressage goals, but I cannot imagine my life without jumping. I love it!

So I put my big girl panties on we went to the Hunter Schooling Show on Saturday. Bastian was a dream. Kristin schooled him over everything first, we didn't want a repeat of me hitting the dirt because he was a little squirrely. We had three great rounds, taking home a 3rd and a 6th place in two of the OF classes out of about 15 entries. Here is a video of my last round, the only one we caught on tape. Not sure what happened with my camera, it came out super grainy/blurry, but oh well, I have evidence of his awesomeness! (Not to mention that I was wearing my lucky Banff Socks)

I rode dressage on Monday, which was awesome, I hadn't sat in my dressage saddle in about 3 weeks :) So lots of happiness there! And I jumped the B-man today, there was a lesson going on so I got in on their jumps and we did a x-rail bounce to a one stride vertical (like 2')and he was AWESOME! He hit his striding perfectly and I really focused on keeping my hands soft and keeping my leg on through the grid. It was wonderful. I felt nervous the first time the vertical was up, but Bastian never questioned it, we were able to stay soft and it was soooooo cool, he was really jumping over the last fence, snapping his knees up and everything :)

Thats been my last couple of weeks. Next show is another Hunter Schooling Show at Chagrin the first weekend in Januaryl, we're aiming for the 2' division....keep your fingers crossed for us!

Monday, October 24, 2011

I jumped a BN log :)

Well, lots has been happening and not all of it good. But the majority of it is spectacular, so we're just gonna keep our chins up (Bastian's and mine respectively) and keep trucking along, as we usually do.

I'll try to avoid lingering on anything too dismal and keep my focus on the happy stuff! :)

So I found some super cute pictures of B and I on Casual Creation Photography's website from our Dressage Schooling Show Debaucle in May. There is this nice halt picture and then this cute trotting picture. The rest of the pictures clearly show why I got a score of 56-something on my test :(

But these two pictures show that we can get this right...le sigh.

So I have now had the B-man back for a full month, which has been FABULOUS! I really missed him. This month has been spent making up for lost time. One of our big high-lights you ask? Going XC schooling on Columbus Day.

We packed up Bastian and one of Kristin's training horses and headed over to Stone Gate Farm in Ohio. We met Samantha and her awesome OTTB Mater there and proceeded to not die. Yes, those are the terms I put my first XC outing in nearly 5 years in, lol. Schooling went perfect, really, it could not have been any better. The weather was just right and it was sunny and the footing was good :) We warmed up over a few x-rails they had set up in one of their sand arenas and then we headed out into the abyss....

Kristin and Samantha went right too it, jumping logs and banks and all sorts of things, Bastian and I headed over to the water to play around a bit. I wasn't overly concerned about the water, he LOVES it and thinks that every puddle in his paddock during TO should be turned into a swimming hole just for him. He will stand and splash and splash and splash. So then we started trotting through the water. Our biggest problem was me. I was on my horse in a large open field where I was expected to trot, canter and god forbid, actually tackle an obstacle and jump something. I was tense, but Bastian being the wonderful soul that he is never batted an eye. He was too excited that we were actually trotting through the water and it was splashing everywhere...weee!

There was a small (like 12") log on an uphill to a Novice Down bank (or an up-bank to a small down hill log, whatever!) So we trot that little log going up a hill and he jumped it wonderfully and I had one of those deja-vo moments of pure happiness because I remembered how much I used to love XC and how fun it was to fly over the fences and how you had to do everything different than in the hunter ring and adjust to the terrain you were on and whatnot. So we did the up-log a few times then we walked the down bank. Yes, walked. I refused to do the down-bank into the water and I refused to do the bank as an up. The conversation went something like this:

Kristin: Go ahead and trot the down bank, sit back and keep your leg on.
Me: I think I'll walk it. (proceeds to walk down-bank)
Kristin: Ok... do the up bank, you can do it.
Me: Not right now, maybe later. I'm pretty happy with the down bank.
Kristin: Then lets do the down bank into the water.
Me: No. Very happy not-dying. Maybe next time we school....

Yes, I'm a chicken. But I'm a chicken that had an awesome XC school...and my words were later twisted (LOL).....

Here is us tackling one of those teensy logs I'm talking about. Not the prettiest picture, but not bad for our first time either!

We went on and did the rest of the course, by the rest of the course I mean that I galloped up a hill (a really quick canter, maybe not so much of a gallop), jumped a cute little log with some stones under it, jumped three other tiny 12" logs and then we headed back to the trailer and therefore right back to the water complex we had started at.... we get back and I'm feeling MUCH better about this whole out in the middle of a field thing so Kristin says...

Kristin: You said you would do the up bank when we got back here.
Me: No, I said maybe I would.
Kristin: No, you said you would. Do it.
Me: No, I think....
Kristin: Do it.

So I did and he was wonderful. Then we did the up bank to the little downhill log and he was good. Kristin says I cantered it, but I'm pretty sure that I brought him back to a trot before I hit the log, but if we did canter it then awesome! Woo-hoo! The best part however was that I finally had the nerve to actually jump a real log, not just one of the teensy little 12" ones I had been doing all day. A real honest to goodness BN log. It was HUGE!!! I knew I couldn't mess around with it, so we cantered in, he didn't even look at it and he soared over it like he's been jumping XC his entire life. He loved it. So with a bit more experience Bastian is going to be a little XC machine :)

And I have hand it to Kristin, she puts up with my whining about having to jump stuff, but then she doesn't actually let me get away with it. I need that in my riding life. I mean now, when I jump on my own (outside of a lesson) I'm cantering little 2' verticals and doing lines and will actually do productive work whereas before I would trot a x-rail a few times and call it a success. So hooray for confidence building!!

No more XC for the year, its just too sloppy up here in the North, lol. But the plan is get out as soon as the spring weather will let me and hopefully I'm jumping 2'6"-2'9" by then so I'm not as intimidated by the BN stuff. I'm hoping to do a local hunter schooling series and show in the 2'6" division starting in January.

Now to switch over the land of Dressage, someplace I'd like to inhabit rather than just have a time-share in. Alas, I love my Bastian too much and refuse to sell him. I can't afford a second horse so I am therefore sabotaging my own efforts to be successful. Don't get me wrong, B is AWESOME and as a dressage-nugget, he can handle his fair share, but he's not going to beat the nice AA warmbloods out there, he just doesn't have the movement. Training level, we'll be okay, First level, we'll be okay, but Second, I'm not so sure :( He'll be able to do the movements, but I don't know if he'll have enough gusto to pull out a good score. Maybe he will, but I'm trying to stay realistic about this rather than start to think that hey, we actually have a chance and then get our asses handed to us.

We had a great dressage lesson the other day, we worked a lot on our canter, which we needed and I got him straight and voila! our canter was soooooooo much better. B is quite the wriggle-worm and I'm not so good with the lower leg on the horse thing so it was a huge struggle for me, but when I got it he was like, "Oh, I can't escape that way anymore, fine, I'll do it the right way *pout*" It was a cool lesson though, because the next day when I rode I could ask him to be straight and he we would go there and keep it for a stride or to, then lose it, so I'd ask again, he'd keep it, then lose it and so on and so on. Whereas just the day before in the lesson it had been constantly asking him to straighten. He's a smart little dragon he is, he goes back to his stall and whilst he munches hay he ponders what he did....or he complains to Gria, his neighbor about all the crazy things I ask him to do. But whatever it is he does, he always comes back the next day having re-inforced whatever we did in the lesson, which is good when I do the right things, when I get crazy and to the wrong things this is not so much of a good trait.

Okay, so this has turned into a ginormous blog post. I have no idea how many readers I have, I'm assuming not very many since I only have 3subscribers and one of those is my mom, I subscribed her but she doesn't actually read my blog. So I'm thinking no one really reads all this rambling anyway and it helps me to remember everything that is going on with my horse and those important A-ha! moments (like jumping a BN log!)that I had. It keeps things in perspective. So if you're reading, thanks and hopefully you find this at least somewhat entertaining, even if you are someone who hates me and is making fun of me and my chicken-ness. LOL :)

My last bit of business is this: I want to be involved with the USPEA (United States Para-Equeastrian Association). But I'm too poor (aren't we all!) and my B most likely does not have what it takes to be international quality competition wise. I don't like asking for things, I believe in earning them. However the costs of actually being a competive para-equestrian is rather ridiculous. So here's what I'm looking for: A horse to ride in dressage competitions that is schooled through at least 3rd level that can put up with "excessive kicking" (to quote many judges)and can come live with me a BEC so I can continue to ride and train with Kristin and the owner of said horse still pays board, shoes, and vet. I know, its a far-fetched idea, but stranger things have happened. I figure I can swing lessons, competition costs and all those lovely things (ie: a passport (because I'm showing FEI levels) is like $500), but I need a horse to ride and someone to pick up the tab on board and shoeing and vet.

Just as an FYI, I work 3.5 jobs. I am a full time High School Teacher, I work part time (around 20-25 hours a week) at a retail department store cashiering, I feed at BEC every Sunday morning, and I organize the PA District IX 4-H Horse Show. So believe you me, I'm working my butt off to cover expenses and pay for things, I'm not sitting on the couch watching Soap Operas with my hand out hoping that money will magically appear in it (or a dressage horse in this case, but how cool would that be??!! I mean I would just be sitting there and suddenly a big ol' dressage horse would appear in my living room, I wouldn't be able to get it out of my house, it would never fit through my door, so maybe it wouldn't be so cool if it suddenly appeared....) Anyway, pass the word along, you might now the friend of a friend of a friend who has this horse that is in need of a rider and they are so busy making money in Caribbean Islands that they just don't have time to ride it but have no problems continuing to pay its expenses. Like I said, stranger things have happened.

If you're still with me at this point, thanks for reading my ramblings!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I would have updated sooner, but my internet was broken :( and I am waiting for once I have those pictures I'll post them, they show a very cute, very perky-eared Bastian :)

Anywho, Bastian came home last Monday to BEC. It is so good to have him home. Wolf Creek took excellent care of my handsome man, but now he's all mine again :) We crammed in some major training and lessons last week.

Our lesson on Tuesday had its ups and downs. I was jittery and nervous and Bastian was looky and quite fresh. Somehow we managed to not die. Kristin had us doing a line and my brain just kept freezing and I wasn't riding, I started to be a passenger and then I became a passenger that was saying "whoa" a little bit too much. But then we finally got it over our last few jumps and I managed to relax enough that it was manageable.

I had to work the next two days so I left him in Kristin's capable hands and she rode him and jumped him and he was wonderful! Which is great, but also proves to me that I'm the problem. Bastian will be wonderful and good to me and take care of me if I give him confidence and keep myself confident.

I had another lesson on Friday, just a quick 1/2 hour to make sure I wasn't going to die at the Combined Test on Saturday. He was superb. We did a line and an oxer. He felt perfect and my confidence was much much better. We ended by soaring over a 2' square oxer. I know, I know, tiny stuff, but a HUGE accomplishment for me and my Bastian. So the B-man got a bath (it hadn't turned horribly cold yet!) and I got all of my stuff packed and ready for the show.

Let me just say that Saturday was FREEZING. It was rainy, windy, and about 42 degrees. My dressage time was 3:42 and then stadium was between 4 and 5. Which was nice because I got to sleep in before a show, not something that usually happens. We got the show and I had a plan to be on 20 minutes before my dressage time so I could be warmed up and ready and somehow I totally botched that up. I ended up hitting the warm-up ring at 3:40 and riding my test at 3:42. I managed to do two 20 meter circle in trot and one canter transition before we went in. Poor planning on my part!

For lack of a warm-up, my test went pretty darn smooth. Granted I was riding Beg. Novice Test A, but still Bastian and I are out of steady practice. We scored mostly 7's with a few 6's here and there. I even managed to finagle a 7 on rider, which is pretty good for me, usually the judges knock me pretty hard for my legs being all over the place. We ended up with a dressage score of 34.

And let me just rant for a moment on how much the small arena bites. Everytime I had to do something I was like okay, we're going to transition from canter to trot before B, I would check my position with the letters and I was already at B! There is just not enough time to do anything, I'm so used to the roomy large arena where you get a bit more time to showcase your horse's gaits and show how steady and wonderful you are. Oh well. Its something I have to live with if I'm going to event, I'll do my best not to harp on it, but seriously...My large striding Thoroughbred and I need more space. LOL I'll just have to think of it as being like one of those freaky hunter eq. pattern I used to have to do at 4-H shows where you had like 10 feet to pick up a canter from a walk then at the next cone simple change, 10 feet to the next cone then stop and back up five steps. Those things were funky.

Anyway, right after my dressage we scurried back to the trailer to change tack. (Thank you grooms!!) Then back to the warm-up. Thankfully the stadium was a "when you were ready" kind of thing. We did not start out our warm-up very well, he slammed on the brakes in front of a 12" crossrail. I felt pretty stupid and it did not set a good tone for me. So we came at it again and then he over jumped it because I was being a fraidy-cat. After about 6 more jumps, we mastered the cross-rail, so it was onto the vertical. Mind you, its a 2 foot vertical. We trot in, I'm nervous again we get to the fence and Bastian decides that 2' is too tiny and leaps over the jump, I am pretty sure he cleared the standards, I was too busy thinking OMG that was huge. So at least he didn't refuse.... Finally we mastered the vertical and then we moved onto the oxer in the warm-up.

I'm super keyed up by now and questioning how good of an idea this was. Bastian is fresh and eyeballing everything because he is of course playing off of me. I really have to hand it to Kristin, she managed to talk me through everything. I cried at one point and seriously considered getting off and letting her do our schooling round, I have no desire to get hurt because I'm being a schmuck and not riding.

But I stayed on and went into my warm-up class. There was only one oxer on course, everything else was wee-tiny little 2' verticals (I'm still convincing myself they are tiny) that we can trot over, we would need to canter the oxer. He didn't hardly look at anything and the course was so nicely set up that I had plently of time to slow him down after we landed and get ourselves collected and prepared for the next fence. They weren't always pretty, but we made it over. He only overjumped one fence (and not the oxer!). We stayed in the ring for our actual stadium round and it rode wonderfully.

I had one round under my belt, nothing bad had happened, I was feeling pretty good. Our actual round went awesome until the last fence. I saw it coming up and realized we had made it, I knew he would jump it, so I just sorta let him go and we pulled a rail :( Sad face. We finished in third because of the rail. But I honestly cannot be happier with how things turned out. Bastian and I totally survived and most of the jumps were good, the ones that weren't so good we handled and worked through. I need the not so good jumps to get used to handling them and not dying. I'm getting much better at keeping my seat when he overjumps.

I'm also glad I didn't get off and hand him off to Kristin. I know that she can make him do anything, its more important that I learn how to get him to do those things, I have to learn how to deal with him. So overall it was a fabulous experience and my eventing plans will continue to move forward. More lessons, schooling, and training and we are going to be awesome!

Looks like XC schooling on Monday is go! Hooray for government holidays and wonderful instructor/trainers :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011


B-5 days and counting until Bastian officially comes home!!! I can't wait. I am so stinking excited. :)

I got to go out and ride him tonight and he was pretty darn good. I put my big girl panties on and shortened my jump stirrups a hole. They need to go up, at least to where I have them now if not even one more hole shorter. I felt a little tipped forward, but by the end of the ride it was much more comfortable. We even managed some nice counter canter and some nice lengthenings in our jumpy saddle :)

I've got to start riding my first fence more confidently. I've tried to decide between more confidently and more aggrresively and I am pretty sure that its more confidently. My first fence of a school session is always kinda iffy. I'm about 80% sure that he's going to jump it and be good, but there is this horrible 20% of me that says, "well maybe he's gonna refuse/spook/trip/overjump." So over that first jump I always seem to just let him make the decision about how the fence is going to ride. Today it was almost disasterous. We trotted into this 18" fence only to have him say "oh my god what is that thing!" (and we've jumped this fence like a ga-zillion times). Then he kinda jumped from a standstill and overall it was pretty fugly, not one of my proudest jumps but we did make it to the other side intact.

I needed more confidence, I needed to keep my leg on and say yes, this is baby stuff and we can trot this like its nothing. I need to give Bastian the confidence he hasn't had the years to develop that I forget he doesn't always have. Once I set the tone for the ride he really just goes with it, but if I don't set that tone then its popping over jumps and running at fences and not so much fun. After that fence the rest were pretty good. There were a few where I was left behind and the first few I went over I felt a little too forward, but that was just me getting used to my stirrups.

I am soooooo excited for him to come home on Tuesday. I've got a lesson lined up for Tuesday and Friday, then the show on Saturday! I am so stinkin' excited, and he is gonna be so stinking cute :)

Everyone else is away at Regionals and I am insanely jealous. I wish them good luck as their Championship classes start tomorrow! Go BEC :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Keeping my head in the game :)

Bastian has continued to be A-W-E-S-O-M-E. Seriously, I personally love him and think he is great, but I am obvioulsy biased. Very biased. However I have had so many people compliment me on my boy during his hiatus to "Hunter-Land," that I know its not just my own motherly-love.

Sooo, lots of good horse back riding going over the past few weeks. Bugsy has been great. This past weekend I worked on our trot/canter transitions. I feel pretty solid with my up transitions into canter, I keep it together and keep it controlled, but I very often loose it in my downwards. It takes me close to ten strides before I feel like I've got it back. So we were doing 5 strides of trot-5 strides of canter-5 strides of trot and I really focused on just getting it all together in those five strides so that we would be good to go if that was actually the gait I was aiming for. Aside from testing my not always so super counting skills, we managed pretty good. Its all part of trying to be there every stride as the rider. I felt like I made good progress :)

About a week ago, I had the chance for a lesson on Irrestible Isaac. His mom had to sit out this year due to an injury, so he's been at BEC and Kristin has been showing him 3rd level. It was very cool to get to ride him and had me adjusting and having to think differently. The best part of the lesson was getting to actually experience and ride an extended trot. It was so different. I know that as a rider I was all over the place, I couldn't quite get a good handle on the difference and power in the trot. There were a few strides where we got it together and it felt AMAZING! But it was a great experience to ride a different horse, it really helps to show the flaws in your training as a rider and the ruts that you have fallen into.

I've now also had two lessons on Bastian. Both of which have gone great. I also kidnapped my friend Gwen and had her come out with me once to see/ride him. He was being a bit heavy in front that night, but worked out of it beautifully and we ended up doing two "big" jumps at a whopping 2'4". And neither one felt big, he jumped it just like he's been doing it all his life. I was so proud of him.

My second lesson on him was this morning (hooray for Labor Day! No school!) And overall it went well. I actually rode 90% of the jumps. I know I need to ride 100%, but this is coming from a girl who about two years ago rode 0% of her jumps (I just kinda aimed for the fence, closed my eyes and hoped we made it to the other side) and just this last spring was riding about 50% of her jumps, so I'm making progress. :)

We had a few hairy jumps, because I forget that Bastian has less experience than me in this whole jumping thing and so when I panic or get nervous I expect him to see me through and really he's saying, "ah mom, are we doing this? are you sure? ARE YOU SURE!?" and if I don't say "I'm sure." it gets hairy or if it doesn't feel perfect and I tense and let myself get afraid he responds to that. I read a quote on Stone Gate Farm's Facebook page about something that Greg Best (Gemtwist!!!) said during a clinic: "Riding is mistake management." I really like this, because although we as riders are always striving to be perfect, its a constant game of fixing your mistakes. That mistake could be as simple as too much left leg and not enough right rein, or it could be more drastic. So riding is constantly fixing those mistakes. And that includes not getting upset or afraid when those mistakes happen.

We came into a bending line and I didn't have him straight enough to the fence, he backed off, I put my leg on (fixed the mistake! lol) and he popped over that fence like it was 3'. I lost my left stirrup, and I think I goosed him on the landing because he shot forward and I was pretty sure I was coming off. But I kept my seat, didn't panic and Bastian said "Oh, we're not upset? We're stopping? OK" (if anyone remembers by Epic fall off of Matthew at Wilson that resulted in a concussion, it was very similar to that....) We then continued to work on that specific fence a few times and it got better, but I really had to keep him straight to it. We probably jumped it like 10 times total and he took it nicely three of those ten times. The rest were all him popping over it and on the landing he got quick and wanted to take off or buck a little, but I managed our mistakes and rode through it. So, although we had a rough patch in our lesson, I feel like it was overall a success. I can't say that I wasn't nervous after those not so great jumps, but it never crippled me into not riding. I dealt with it and kept my head. This is what I need practice on, having those mistakes occur and keeping it together.

It was also nice to have that reaction to a potentially bad situation from Bastian. He could have taken off, bucked, or been otherwise naughty. But he wasn't, his response was level headed and he came right back. I LOVE my horse. :) He's a keeper!

Well, 20 days until Bastian comes home!! Not that I'm, and 25 days until our first ever Combined Test.

This weekend is the PA District IX Horse Show. I'm in charge this year..wish me luck as I wander into the world of Horse Show Management... :)

And I know, whats a blog without good pictures? I promise to try and get some next time I go out....

Monday, August 15, 2011


I finally made it out to Wolf Creek Stables to see my awesome, wonderful, chestnutty, perfect boy. My friend Samantha was visiting for a few days so it worked out perfectly, I had someone to drag along with me :)

His Summer Job Housing is quite nice. Nice roomy box stall, wonderful ventilation, water buckets that are scrubbed cleaner than most of my dinner dishes, and nightly turnout. He is one fat, sleek, happy boy.

So after much treat-feeding and a somewhat excessive amount of brushing by both myself and Samantha, we made our way to the outdoor. The outdoor at Wolf Creek is huge and filled with lovely lovely hunter jumps, which Bastian has been trucking over with wee little children. And by lovely I mean scary, lots of flowers, brush, rolltops, pine boughs and such. I'm intimidated by jumps that aren't A) under 2' and B)just a rail. But Bastian honestly doesn't care, he only cares when I care. If he looks at a fence out of inexperience all I have to do is say, "yes we are jumping this" and he says "okay!" If I sense his hesitency and answer with my own, then he says, "ah mom, if you don't think we should do this then lets not...." So jumping is more of a mental ride for me, I have to keep my head in the game 100%.

Anyway, after simply enjoying the wonderful walk/trot/canter on MY BASTIAN, we started trotting over a few cross rails, then we started trotting the scary stuff. He was so perfect! He didn't look at anything and just kinda hopped over everything. Then we started to get fancy and we cantered all those scary fences :) I was so pleased with him and he was going so well, that I decided to jumpt two more fences that he had not yet done with any of Tawny's students. One was a tiny rolltop, but pretty wide. I would say wider than it was tall and a 2'3" vertical that was set up on one side of the arena.

He was PERFECT!! He barely looked at the rolltop and jumped the 2'3" vertical like he'd been doing it all his life, I was so pleased with him. He's actually being a bit lazy and I need to engage him more with my leg, but I'll take the slower lazy Bastian for now until I get my jumping legs back. I'm anxious to get back out and ride him again :) Samantha was fabulous and snapped several great pics with her phone camera, a real feat considering that jumping photos are hard to time anyway!

Aint he cute!!! It was so wonderful and I am so dying to show again that I decided to try and take him to the schooling Combined Test at South Farm on October 1, we're going to do the Baby-Beginner Novice division so we have to do Beg. Novice Test A and then a 2' jumping course. South Farm puts on a nice show, so I'm super excited to go!

Also coming up on my schedule is the District Horse Show, this is my first year as the new manager...wish me luck! I'm thinking I have most of it under control, just a few things that might be iffy.....Once its over (September 11) I can really focus on me and my Bastian and our first ever Combined Test :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Team BEC

Just because I forced Bastian to get a summer job does not mean that I abandoned my oh-so-wonderful barn-mates. Its one thing to have a horse and ride and take lessons, but it quite another thing when you have an awesome group of people to hang out with, show with and laugh and cry with. My group of people is Team BEC (Bauer Equestrian Center). And so I still hang out with them at horse shows and try to keep with new boarders who come to live with us or new horses that come in for training, which is tough when I'm only going out twice a week.

This past weekend, the team headed out to Grand Haven Stables in Jefferson, Ohio to compete in the NODA Dressage and NODA Dressage Encore show on Saturday and Sunday. We were originally taking 8 horses, but one of them wasn't quite feeling up to snuff, so Kristin decided to not stress her anymore by taking her to show and let her just chill at the barn. She was actually very disappointed when they didn't load her onto the trailer to go, Zoe thinks that she should be going everywhere and everyone should be focusing on her, lol. So we went with just 7 horses instead...

Competing in their first show ever was little Chloe and BEC's My Guardian Angle, a 7 year old appy pony. They showed on Saturday and Sunday in Intro A and B. They were awesome!! Chloe came home with two fifth places, a third and a second. It was both her first show and the pony's and they did awesome.

BEC's owner, Cindy took her young Holsteiner mare, Shae (Madame X) hoping to get her final qualifing score at Training level. While Cindy is a veteran shower, this is Shae's first year showing and its been filled with learning experiences for her. After finally deciding that the judges probably aren't going to eat her, she is starting to learn how to focus and stay on task in the dressage ring. Cindy's first test was dramatic and expressive, as in Shae expressed how much she didn't want to be a good little pony, but Cindy kept her together and finished the test, their next test on Saturday was more more calm cool and collected and they were able to earn a blue ribbon :) On Sunday Shae was in her groove and Cindy scored a 68%, taking home a red ribbon just one point behind first place and more importantly, with a qualifying score for AA Training Level. This will definitely be a pair to watch at regionals!

Wendy took her Oldenburg mare, Chloe, {Unexpected}, and competed in Training Level also with Wendy riding her in one class each day and Kristin showing her in one class each day. Wendy and Chloe did great, their best test was on Sunday where Wendy kept her focused on the task at hand and put in a fluent, accurate test. Kristin and Chloe are qualified for Regionals in the Open division at Training as well.

Elizabeth, aka Pablo, took her Anglo-Trakehner mare Lilly (Tiger Lilly) and competed at First Level. Elizabeth is going off to college in the fall and so this was her last show with us for quite some time. I'm going to miss you Pablo! Horse shows just won't be the same with out you, and you had better be planning on coming to Bastian and I's first event next year....or else! I will also miss braiding Lilly's mane, it was my favorite mane to braid :)

Kristin rode three other client's horses at the show: WWA Colino in Training and First Level, she achieved the necessary qualifying score for Training Level with him. She also rode a cute little chestnut (with a blaze!) mare named Cosmopolitan. It was Cosmos first ever horse show and she was very well behaved earning a first place in her first ever Training Level class. And finally, Kristin earned a qualifying score with Isaac (Irressistable Isaac) at 3rd Level. He had two wonderful tests and Isaac has the funniest personality of any horse I have ever known!

All in all it was wonderfully fun weekend and I cannot wait until Bastian and I (and hopefully Bugsy!) are ready to show next year. I love my barn buddies and I love grooming and supporting and cheering, but I love showing and its tough to be there surrounded by people doing exactly what I want to be doing and knowing that its going to be two more months until I really get to start playing the game again.

If you want to see all the awesome pictures we have of this past weekend, check out either: or!/pages/Stein-Equines/229007107140048

A couple of fun more personal notes:
1) I finally got a new car, a cute little Kia Sportage that gets way better gas mileage than my dorky old truck, so I get to actually see my horse when he gets back from his deployment to the Hunter world! lol

2)I'm visiting my brother and his Family in NC right now and on the way down we drove through Bastian, VA. How cool is that?? My horse has a whole town named after him :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wuffles the Wonder Pony

Time for another video from the archives! Woot!!

This is the only video I have of my not so illustrious show career with the one and only Goldie. Goldie was my first horse, she was the 2nd horse that we (being my parents and I) looked at. I was 12 at the time and thought I knew what I was doing, I mean I had read a lot of books, so I must have known what was I was doing, right? And my poor parents, they had no clue what they were getting themselves into.

Here is what they were thinking: "We let the girl buy a horse, by the end of the summer, if not sooner, she'll be sick of taking care of it and lose interest and we can sell the thing and move on with our lives."

Sorry mom, sorry dad, it didn't quite work out that way! Its been 18 years now since I entered into horse ownership and I haven't looked back

So, Goldie was the second horse I looked at, the first was I think a QH who had done his time in the ring and was very beginner friendly. They were asking $1000 so he was much to far out of my price range. I had been given permission to use my college savings fund to buy my horse, so I had $600 to work with. I had never ridden before except for pony rides and lessons were not going to be part of the financial equation. So you can already tell that we were setting ourselves up for success....or not.

Goldie is an purebred arabian mare, chestnut with a lovely flaxen mane and tail, a blaze, three socks, an inside heel on her left hind and a coon tail. She stands 14.1 3/4 inches tall. She had belonged to a local vet along with seven other Arabians and they had all been rescued from a situation where they had been neglected and starved and abused. The way the story goes, he was so angry that is horses were confiscated that he took all of their registration papers and burned them. I've done as much research as I am able to do and have pinpointed a few horses that could be mine, but the Arabian association is a bit snooty and was not very helpful. They had me in tears once after I had called (remember that the internet really didn't exist in 1992 when I bought her and we certainly were not able to afford it even if we could have gotten it at our house). So I've never known her breeding or "who" she was.

I think that she was either a dressage horse or a hunter, she never moved like a saddle seat horse and her gaits were never slow enough for western. But she knew everything, moved off your leg, flying changes, etc. etc. Now, had I know what I was doing, we would have been unstoppable, but I was a kid with no guidance, lots of guts, and no clue what it really meant to get a horse soft and round and moving forward. She tolerated me, but we had our issues and problems.

Some of our highlights:
Highest jump ever cleared: 4'
Lowest Dressage Score: 46.3% Training 1 (I thought dressage was like a hunter equitation pattern class....)
Highest Dressage Score: 64% First 4 (when we were 25)
Best Horse Show Placings: 1st at the Chataqua County Trail Riders Judged Trail Ride and the first horse in their history to score a 100% perfect score (when we were 28), 4-H District IX Horse Show 1996 5th place Hunter Hack Pony (our first year showing english!), 4-H District IX Horse Show 1997 5th place English Grooming and Showmanship, 1998 District IX Horse Show, 8th place Pony Trail, and 2008 EHSC Open Hunter Pleasure Horse, 6th place out of a class of 20, this one is awesome because we were competing against HORSES and she is a PONY. They wouldn't let me show her in the Pony classes because I was an adult. (Yes I get it, I would be competing aginst younger kids, but you can't compare a ponies gaits to a horses and expect a judge to be fair)

In our lifetime together, we have competed in Western Pleasure/Eq, Hunters on the flat, Hunters over Fences, Evented Baby Novice, Dressage through first level, and Games Classes. Goldie loved jumping and she LOVED games. She knew her business in the game ring and if you don't believe me (which I don't know why you wouldn't) check out the video on my facebook page, I can't put it on youtube because it has a fun song with it and I don't want my audio to be removed, of her just a month ago. First off, she is 30 years old, looks pretty damn good huh? Second, just watch her, she knows the games and she knows what to do, you can just see her trying to tell the kid "just hang on, I've got this!"

She is currently stabled with my previous instructor and is still teaching little kids how to ride.

This is the only video I have of her and me, it is from a schooling hunter show at Wilson College, I believe in 2000 (maybe 2001?)Anyway, I was very happy to be riding her, it was a looooooooong horse show, the judge was spending about 30 minutes on each flat class, which was ridiculous. Which worked in my favour because I was perhaps the only one that did not break gait during the class, we cantered the gazillion laps without stopping, which was a major issue for everybody else. I mean we did two full laps at sitting trot, what judge at a local tiny show does that?

Anyway, again, be wowwed by my horrible equitation and yes it was an equitation class and I won with that awesome performance. Note the classic attire. I was going through a bit of a "hunter phase" where I wore jeans and full chaps and if I was at Wilson paddock boots and a helmet, but if I was at the barn where I was boarding my other horse, it was a ball cap with my ponytail through it and sneakers. Yup, I was cool. Also, I am pretty sure I was working at the barn that day so I was in barn work clothes too so that when I was done with my class I could go back to slaving away for Wilson College and yes, it was basically slave labor.

I was overweight throughout my college career so I guess I don't really need to keep harping on that, but it just makes me look that much more ridiculous on her, she is tiny, I'm huge!

My shoulders are hunched, my leg isn't back enough, my elbows are out and I needed more fluency and control in my post just to name a few obvious things. Jumping I was actually doing pretty good until that fourth fence, I got ahead and she said "have fun, you wanna jump ahead, go for it, without me." I remember I hurt my wrist pretty badly, but i got back on and made it over the fence. She was just so compact and short through her neck, that if you even a titch ahead of her she stopped, she is a smart little bugger. So I came off of her a lot, which had led to some of the hang-ups I have with jumping. I've eventually learned to keep my shoulders back and not ahead, but the mental damage is done. I had some other jumping nightmares that really did me in, but this laid the groundwork for me to be the way I am.

So this is my sweet little mare. I ended up being fairly lucky with her when I stop to think about all the crazy stunts I pulled and all the things we did together. But I guess that's just life, I think 99% of horse people can look back on their younger days and say "Did I really do that kind of stupid stuff?" And thankfully we all had stellar ponies to do that crazy stuff with.

Final thought: Why Wuffles the Wonder Pony you ask? My friend had a trailer that she had bought used, it had the horse's names painted on each side and one of the horse's was "Wuffles." I know, we've touched on the whole name thing before, but Wuffles?? Really?? Seriously?? So Goldie became Wuffles the Wonder Pony just because it sounded ridiculous.
Wuffles, where does one even come up with a name like that??

Monday, July 18, 2011

Barrel Racing

So, I think I need to buy a barrel horse and ride on the rodeo circut for a year. I say this everytime I come back from the rodeo, but seriously, if those girls would just take the time to learn to ride effeciently and control every part of their horse's bodies, damn would they be unbeatable.

I saw one horse that had the raw speed to be really really competitive, she was booking, but her turns lost her so much time, she could have had a 14 second run and instead it was 16 and some change. It was a little painful to watch.

So all I need to do is find a barrel prospect, apply some dressage training to get him or her using themselves properly and bam! I could go to the rodeo finals and win like a million dollars. I mean really, why am I drawn to the one discipline where there is NO MONEY. None, sometimes you don't even get pretty ribbons....and then you read the judges comments and you feel like crap. Ah, dressage, the love of my life and the bain of my existence....

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Tale of Melkor the Mighty

I promised some awesome older videos and here is the first one, I hope that youtube doesn't block the music I added to the video....

Meet Melkor. I bought him as a 13 year old, at the time he was called "Red." If you don't get the novel reference of his new name Melkor, look it up. I liked calling him Melvin and eventually after I saw Madagascar, Melmen. He was a total Melvin, a total nerdy kid, but such a sweetie! I broke my own rule by buying him, I bought a Quarter Horse. I've never cared much for the breed, they are just not my style and I do not care for the QH show circut, english or hunter, or for the rampant lack of good breeding which has led to lots of conformational trainwrecks, Melvin was a good example of this. He was "line-bred" to Hobar-Tek (not sure on the spelling anymore) quarter horses and he was originally from Arizona, where he was given the brilliant and very Quarter Horse name: "Amberjacks Be Nimble." Right. Awesome. Sorry QH enthusiasts, I just don't go for your names......Paging Mr.Sonny Bar Smokin Impressive Big Chex Zips Shiny Cash. And I know that most people don't like or get my horse's names, so whatever. Just my opinion. :)

Here is what I do like about QH: their mentality. Melvin was very tolerant of me and my bad riding. He never spooked. He never bucked. He had an excellent mind. So that is the redeeming quality of the QH.

Anyway, his owner before me was an old 4-H friend, he had originally bought him to use in Hunters and then by the end of his 4-H career he was board with hunters so he rode him in the games division. I believe that he also used him for team penning sometimes too. So when I actually bought him, he hadn't jumped for at least a year and was in game horse mode. I bought him in October, and we went to our first event in May. So we had lots of work to do!

Aside from being a conformational trainwreck, Melvin was also blind in his right eye. He always had runny eyes and eventually we figured out that he couldn't see a darn thing on the right. That just makes his personality so much cooler. Waradaca was our first event, our next event should have been the LHPC HT in June, but we had a very wet spring and the event was cancelled. So our next event was the EHSC HT where we went Novice, this picture is of us going over one of the max height/max width Novice jumps. He was awesome at the event, but we did not place. At this point I was still showing in the Open division because I still working in the idustry and trying to make it as a professional. After that I ended up moving from Erie back to Chambersburg and we kept jumping and schooling and he was doing very well, I was going to do one more Novice event at Difficult Run and then move up to Training. Which was bad decision making there too, yes I could make it around a course, but I was not a strong enough rider to actually be doing that level. My dressage stunk, I don't care how high you can jump, without having solid dressage basics, you shouldn't be jumping fences that are over 3'. Its one of my qualms with the eventing world, I get that the majority of events hate the dressage phase and just "get through it" to get to the jumping phase, but seriously guys, put on your big girl panties and learn how to ride dressage, it will make your jumping much better and wouldn't it be nice to have a respectable dressage score?? And I totally used to one of those people who was like "dressage is dumb." Okay, I'm getting off my soapbox now.

I digress. I was supposed to do the event at Difficult Run, but we never made it. He started landing funny when we were jumping, more on the left than on the right where he had always landed square before. He was off :( after about a week with no improvement, I took him to Charlestown Racetrack to get xrays. He had arthritis in both front fetlocks. The vet gave me two options. Bute him and event for the rest of the year and then he would most likely be permanently ruined and lame or retire him, he was I think 17 by this point so I chose option B and retired him. It took about a year or so for him to fuse, so then we started focusing on dressage, I had moved onto the next trainwreck of a horse Craige (he'll get his own blog coverage) and so he eventually made it New York and is someone's forever trail horse, she loves him and is taking wonderful care of him. He is very happy.

So here is our video of our first ever event together at Waradaca in Maryland. I like their course, it was simple, friendly and inviting. Lots to pick apart in the dressage, I understood the theory behind having the horse's head "down" and "on the bit" but did not know how to properly achieve it (obviously! look at his poor head!) I was too stiff everywhere, which is partially show nerves and partially just how much I stunk. I was also way overweight. I'm still on the heavy side, but here I was over 200lbs, sorry, I have a thing for food...its yummy and is my downfall. Right now I'm about 175 and need to drop some poundage, so I was not fit and not helping him out there either.

Lets see...poorly planned transitions, bad geometry, no throughness or connections...I'll just stop there, and move on to the stadium. But overall our dressage stunk. Thank goodness he was a point and shoot jumper. Seriously, every jump I am off balance, behind the jump or ahead of the jump and he just takes care of me. Which totally boosted my confidence and my ego, I thought I was an awesome jumper....which as it apprantly turns out was not in any way true... I'd also like to mention that while we dressaged in a french-link loose ring, we had NO brakes jumping and the only way I could keep him slow and get him to listen (because I didn't understand about using your core) was to ride him in a double twisted wire gag. It is one of my all time most favorite bits because it is just mind boggling. By the time we were schooling for difficult run a year later we were using the french link to jump with too, we had figured out a few things by then.

But he was honest and he did not refuse, we had one run-out in our life and it was a narrow up-bank at Erie, I didn't steer him to it so he was like, hey, why don't we just go around it? Wouldnt' that be easier?? And then there was XC, um, we had not schooled XC before, this was pretty much his first time dealing with any kind of XC fence. And what a champ he was. There is one jump where I get way left behind! But he just kept on trucking. It was our jumping that got us our 7th place ribbon at that show. But what a great guy. I'm hoping that Bastian will one day be as cool as him, he has the same left hind leg marking as Melvin. That was Melvin's only white marking and its Bastian's only white leg. Bastian also has the same blaze as my pony Goldie.

So I hope you enjoyed our XC video. More fun videos to come!

I did get to ride Bugs again today and it had definite good moments and some definite bad moments. Good Moments: down transitions were good, canter was very controlled and uphill
Bad Moments: she tried to buck me off two times, not totally sure why, but it freaked me out a little, the second time I was more prepared and yelled at her and then she was fine. Not sure if she was a little ouchy somewhere or just decided to have a cranky moment.

And she did not feel tired at the end of our half hour session, this was the first time she felt like we could have done more so maybe she is starting to get more fit.

And finally, Bastian is almost home! He is now working at Wolf Creek Stables with my friend Tawny as a Hunter Lesson horse and is very happy with life. I can't wait to go visit him!

Till next time!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Variety is the Spice of Life

There isn't a whole lot to report, but there is more than one would think.  I've ridden Bugsy a total of 4 times now and all I have to say is wow.  Here is why:

1) I feel like a beginner on her, LOL, I ask for the canter, she does a fast trot, I try to turn left and she keeps going straight, the exact same way those smart but tricksey little ponies do to little kids.  I've gotta really have my stuff together, which is a little frustrating because I didn't  realize how in sync Bastian and I really were and how used to each other we were.  He lets me get away with A LOT, which is totally awesome, but well, in this case, not so great.  What is good is that as long as I keep playing around with my legs and reins, I figure out how to make her turn and make her trot or canter.  I'm bad about only using one leg or one rein when I turn/steer and not supporting with the opposite rein/leg, Bugsy has been sure to point this out to me....isn't that sweet of her? :o)

2) Bugs is actually wonderful in the fact that she completely ignores my overactive lower leg, I'm working really hard to keep it as still as possible, but I know its nothing even close to what it should be, but she has yet to care.  She is used to being ridden in spurs and with a whip, I don't wear spurs for obvious reasons and I may have to start getting used to riding with two whips so I have more support when I do want to use my legs, but I also think we both just need to figure each other out some more, two whips is a handful (pun intended).   Bastian is like that every now and then, I ask for a trot or canter and he just gives me the big middle hoof because he's been blocking out the excessive leg movement,  he is much better at paying attention now, so I'm hoping that Bugsy and I will eventually come to that realization.

3) I'm actually getting to experience real collection and light fluffyness!!!!  Eventually I will have a core of steel.  Bugs likes to be on her forehand and being that she's out of shape, its a STRONG halfhalt every stride.  But for now both of us have to work our butts off in order to keep it together, which, when we get it it is awesome!!  Its the maintaining it that we need to work on.  We don't maintain the light fluffyness and collection for super long, but those half strides and couple of seconds of it are enought to make me want more!  Hooray for the frustration of dressage, lol, its that one second of bliss that make us go through the 100 hours of yuck,  perhaps we need to rethink our decision making paradigm...

4) If everything goes according to plan (I know, I know, famous last words....) I will have the opportunity  to show Bugsy next year!  I know, awesome, right??  This works out great because my friend Gwen is also going to show her next year.  Gwen wants to show Training Level and I'd like to try 2nd and 3rd.  I know what you're going to say, the whole two level rule at Dressage shows, but never you fear, we've got this worked out.  Most of the shows we go to are two shows over one weekend, so Gwen will show her one day and I will show her the other day.  Everybody is happy, and we get to split hauling and stabling fees.  Perfect plan, right?  I know, I thought so too.

Sunday's ride was wonderful because we didn't have any "horrible" beginner moments and when we were done, Bugsy seemed as pleased as I did with our progress.  On Monday, since it was a holiday, I decided to celebrate by making an extra trip out the barn to ride, so I met up with Gwen and I rode Bugsy and she rode her awesome Quarter Horse RW and one of the newer boarders at the barn, Sandy, came out and rode with us too.  It was a wonderful way to spend a Monday morning.  We had a good ride overall, I think both of us were a bit tired doing two days in a row, so it started out great, then we got a bit sloppy in the middle, then I made sure that I had it together and we finished nicely, but it really drove home the point of keeping it together every stride.

My mom came and visited me this week, so I coerced her into going to the barn with me so she could meet Bugsy and I would get to ride again.  I rode outside for the first time with Bugs, which was a little intimidating for me.  Ever since I had my three bad riding accidents, I've been more hesitant to ride outside, which I realize is a completly mental hang up on my part (based on the horses that I do ride, they are all good outside).  Bugsy didn't care, (she wasn't wild about the flys, but I can't really blame her) and she was very well behaved.  After I relaxed about being outside, I was able to really focus on our down transitions.  I tend to completely take my leg off when I ask for a downward transition.  So I really focused on keeping my leg on between the canter and the trot and they were much less abrupt,  and we actually went forward into the trot instead of canterstopgotrot.  So it is possible!

I was supposed to ride Bugs in a lesson on Friday, but she was a little ouchy from the drastic weather changes we were having that day :(  I was really looking forward to getting a bit more education on her.  I was still able to have my lesson, I rode my friend Beth's horse Devlin (who is also currently for sale: instead.  He was a blast!  He is so in tune to your core it was unbelievable, as soon as I engaged my tummy muscles he would slow down, it was pretty cool.  If I wasn't in the financial tangle I was in and was in the market for an event horse, I would snatch him up!

It also made me realize more about my partnership with Bastian.  Compared with Devlin and Bugsy, Bastian is almost hyper sensitive and much lighter in his contact.  You'll get a beautiful gait, he'll be "on the bit" and moving forward and then you put an ounce too much weight in your left stirrup and bam! its gone and we'll spend the next five laps around the ring trying to get it back.  Both Bugs and Devlin were a bit more accepting of my bobbles in balance and they are heavier in the contact, which is better suited to my riding style.  Its made me much more aware that when I do finally start back to riding Bastian, I've got to really really really focus on keeping my balance every friggin' second.  Of course, the horse I have is exactly the kind of horse that is going to be most difficult for me to ride.  Le sigh.  Oh well......I still love my B-man and I can't wait to get back to working with him in the fall!

Also really cool.....another of my friends at the barn is helping me to convert my old VHS onto DVD format, which means I will have some very amusing and horrific riding videos to share including my first BN event with my Quarter Horse Melvin where he had NEVER gone Cross Country before in his life.... awesome, oh to be young again!   Bet you can't wait!!

Friday, June 24, 2011


This is the updated version of the Blog, fresh off the presses. The decision to stop riding and stop showing this year was made before our Grand Haven Schooling Show Kerfuffle. I had hoped to begin and end our show season on a higher note, but it is what it was and helped me make some other decisions that were harder for me.

So....since then I haven't really been riding. I've only been riding once a week on Sunday's after I help Cindy feed in the morning. This decision was 100% financial in nature. Gas is outrageously expensive, I have stupid gas-guzzler of a truck and it takes me close to a 1/4 of a tank to go to the barn and back. I just couldn't swing it anymore. I have to say that each Sunday when I went out to ride Bastian was awesome. He never once felt like he was going to jump out of his skin or be a Dork-a-saurus and basically like any other 7 year old thoroughbred not being worked and on limited turnout might act. I didn't even have to lunge him first and a few times there were some x-rails left up in the arena and we popped over them like he was in regular work. *pat pat* he is such a good guy.

I was hoping to maybe find someone who was interested in leasing him over the summer so he could at least stay in shape, but that didn't pan out so I turned to my amazing parents and asked them if their grandson could come and live with them for the summer. The answer was yes. We have a cute little three stall barn and lots of lovely green pasture so other than being a Bachelor, Bastian is actually pretty happy. So on June 15th-ish my friend Samantha and I trailered him home and then spent the rest of the afternoon fixing the pasture fence. He'll be there until mid september. Then he'll be coming home to me and getting ready for our upcoming 2012 show year.

In other news, I am not entirely without equines in my life, which is a good thing because I think my students could attest that I was getting pretty crabby by the end of the school year. I am not a happy camper without my pony-time. Donna, who owns the fabulous Dutch Warmblood, (I hope I got the breed right....I can't keep all the warmbloods straight! LOL), Ferrymore Lane, aka Bugsy, is letting me ride her. Here we are during our 1/2 hour lesson today. Sorry for the blurry pic, I didn't have my camera set on the right settings!

Soooooo. Bugs is trained and has shown through 3rd level. Kristin, my instructor earned her Bronze medal riding her, then she took a year off and had the beautiful filly Rae Sangria (who is Bastian's little sister), followed by a bit of bad luck health wise and now she has finally gotten back into shape enough to be used by Kristin for some lessons. Let me just say that Bugs is GINORMOUS. I used to ride a lot of draft crosses and big horses when I was in college, I just have a thing for big horses, they are cool and they make me look normal sized. I'm not petite in any way, even when I am at my "scientifically ideal weight" I'm just a big girl, big boned, tall and not petite or graceful. So I look pretty good sitting on big horses like Bugs, she makes me look skinny! LOL

Her gaits are way different from Bastian (go figure!) and when I first asked her to trot I kinda just busted up laughing because it had so much suspension in it compared to what I was used to, I loved it! I think Kristin thought I was crazy. I didn't like her canter at first, but then once I got into the rhythm it was pretty cool, again it was just huge and throwing me all of the place. I am so excited to get to ride her and learn all the cool stuff that she has to teach me. She has all the tricks and training, but if you don't ask for it the way it is supposed to be done you ain't gonna get it.

She is strong, but when you ride her, she actually feels so light and fluffy, its fabulous. So I'll be sure to keep updating when I start learning how to do the cool stuff like walk piorettes, half passes, mediums, renvers, travers, etc. etc. I can't wait! I'm only riding once a week still (on Sunday's when I feed) but once a week is better than not riding at all.

Hopefully my summer will continue to be filled with lots of hours at JCP and finding a vehicle that gets more than 10 miles to the gallon so that when Bastian comes home in September and everyone else at the barn is kicking ass at Regionals, I'll be able to start getting him in shape for his stellar 2012 season, I've got some plans for him baby, oh do I have plans......

My Riding Funk

**This blog covers several days, I keep meaning to post it then get busy trying to upload some video so I forget, but I don't want to just forget about sorry for the length and jumping arounded-ness and I figured that since its been written and waiting to be posted that I would just post it and get it done with**
I let Bastian play a bit on Monday before I rode him so he could get out all his bucks and craziness. It worked because he was a G-E-M on Monday, we had an awesome ride.

So based on his running and bucking Bastian might actually be able to make it either on the rodeo circut (check out those bucks! and I challenge the cowboys to stay on with those) or maybe hold up his decent Thoroughbred breeding and be a racehorse.  Which I have considered.  What if I threw him in just one race just so that he could then be considered an off-the-track thoroughbred?  I mean all the awards at horse shows are for ott-ers.  Which sucks since he never raced, Regionals last year was the first show I had ever been too that just a regular Thorougbred high score award.  *sigh* 

So our ride on Monday was fabulous, I had some awesome Conrad-Mojo working and everything felt great.  I had to work on Tuesday so no riding for me.  Yesterday, I was tense.  Not entirely sure why, but I just could not relax and of course Bastian picked up on that and well neither one of us was feeling the love.  I started to get really fussy with my hands and Bastian and I just never synced.  I couldn't post, I couldn't sit and our canter transitions were downright ucky. 

We ended up riding for almost an hour because I was determined to work through it and do something right before I got off.  We finally got some nicer canter transitions so we stopped.  Today I had a 1/2 hour lesson and it started out pretty much the same as I ended last night.  Ucky.  Kristin explained that Bastian is being inconsistent in his poll, he just kinda bops it up and avoids actually working so I need to get him deeper in the poll (my words in case I'm not talking about the right thing...the horse word is so picky about terminology sometimes, lol).

I was having a heck of time getting it at the trot.  The canter was easier to get and feel.  Then we worked on halts.  Something that bugs the heck out of me.  The actual halt, not working on them.  The halt is wickedly complicated, much like the walk, but seems like it should be so easy.  I want 7s or 8s or higher on my halts and since there are two of them, it would be prudent to make them good.  Bastian aside from being a wiggle worm, never halts square.  So we worked on me doing an "up" half halt to keep his back and maybe, with some intelligence on B's part, he'll figure out that stop + kick kick = square.

All in all, our halts got better, our biggest problem is that he brings his poll up (there it is again!) and avoids the contact so that our halts are hollow.   So first we have to get nice round halts then we can really start focusing on the sqareness and straightness. I mean we usually get 6s on our halts, so if we can get this and change that to 8s, that is 4 more points per test and that is always a good thing.

So our lesson ended well and it felt better than my ride on Wednesday.  This funk I'm in is self-inflicted I'm sure.  It happens sometimes either because I let the outside world interfere with my riding or I have some great riding ideal that I feel I MUST uphold (This is all Conrads fault! lol...just kidding) and then I get frustrated when things don't go well.  I'm hoping I can get rid of this funk before the show in May.

I get to ride tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday, which is just weird because between work and the price of gas I am averaging about twice a week right now :(  So I'm hoping that tomorrow goes well, I'm going to work on being quiet with my hands, but keeping him in the "zone" and staying round though the halts.

So I intended to have posted this blog a few days ago with an adorable video of Bastian running and playing.  But due to my super cheapo internet and less than stellar connection, it would not load, I tried for three days.  So this video is of one of our leg yields.  Our leg yields are better then they were, I get it now at least, (lol) and I can almost always tell when our hind end is ahead and/or he's not straight enough.  Overall, I feel like we have had lots of improvement there. 

Still not a lot of improvement in the lengthening department visually (at least to me)  I feel like he is stretching through his topline and taking bigger strides, but when I watched the video (can't post it, its 4 minutes long :( )  it looks like nothing, I can't hardly see a change.  I feel like its happening though....

Today (Wednesday the 27) was an okay day, I lunged him first to get him warmed up and he looked great, no head fussing and nice big trot steps.  Not so much when we got to the riding part. :(  So I know that its me, because he only starts fussing with his head (inconsistent through the poll) when I'm up there.  My problem is that I haven't figured out how to fix it.  Do I hold tighter (he was super resistant today) or let up a bit?  I know of course the right answer is a little of both.  I think my problem is that I tighten the reins and get him where he needs to be but I don't release quick enough and so create our little problem.  I'm getting better at doing mini leg yields and keeping him between my legs, but I think I'm still bopping around too much overall. 

At the end of our ride I was schooling canter circles with change of lead through the trot and was trying really hard to have what I call "hunter hands" or hands that hover above the withers and never move, he seemed less fussy when I did this and so ignored his head and tried to ride entirely off of my seat for my transitions and steering and everything.  A) holy half halt to actually get him to trot from his canter! B) it kinda worked, he was kinda "on the bit" and just had his nose poked out a little, most of his up and down transitions were good.  So I'm still not happy with this head thing, and I don't know if now that I "know" about it I'm more aware and letting it bother me more or if this has really become a genuine problem/stag in his training.  I guess only time will tell.
It just bothers me because I feel like we have the chance to get good strong scores at the schooling show next week, but a judge will totally totally destroy me if he is that inconsistent about contact. 

And time did tell. Here is the video of our Dressage test. The only award we would have been up for was "best turned out pair" I had the SHINIEST horse there. We ended up with a 56% :( Super ultra sad face. The judge was harsh with everyone so she was at least consistent, but that did not make our score any less harder to stomach.

Okay, I can't get the video to upload here, so here is the link:

Monday, April 18, 2011

We Love You Conrad

I was lucky enough to be invited by my instructor to audit a 3 day Conrad Shumacher Clinic.  She was invited to bring Zoe (owned by the fabulous Sherri H.) and ride on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  So I made some quick arrangments for my puppies and packed my bags.  Yes, that means two days away from my horse and missing chances to ride, but the opportunity to learn from one of the Dressage Masters was too good to pass up.  I warned Bastian that I would be back on Monday, ready to try out all my new knowledge on

I learned so much, got so many ideas for exercises, saw lots of awesome riders and horses and met some totally awesome people!  The hospitality of the barn we were at was spectacular, delicious food and very good company, you couldn't ask for a nicer group of people.

Here is some of what I picked up this weekend:

1) "Making a decision with confidence will turn out right 95% of the time, but making a decision without confidence is always the wrong decision."  Conrad said this at our dinner lecture on Saturday and I whole heartedly agree.  This is one of my shortcomings, I have a little bit of baggage concerning horses and me resulting in seriously painful injuries and all totalled, about 15 months sitting on my couch with some mending bones and muscles.  So when things are starting to happen and a decision needs to be made, I either stop altogether (Bastian has a wicked emergency brake) or I panic and freeze and make no decision.  Either way, it always ends poorly because it reinforces my lack of confidence (when I stop) or becomes dangerous (freezing).  I totally used to be up for riding anything and while I was not a high quality rider, I was a confident, crazy rider.  Now I play it very very safe.  I digress....When I do make a decision when things start happening things go well.  So basically I need to believe in my ability to make the right decisions while I'm riding, I mean for goodness sakes I'm riding Bastian and doing dressage, its not like I'm riding some crazy stunt horse and acting like a cossack.  How hard can my decisions really be? lol

2)Slow and steady wins the race.  Conrad did not say this, I just had to give the concept that I took away a name and an easy one at that.  Kristin has had me work on this before too, but then I forget about it and go back to my normal ride.  Anywho, its this whole idea of really slowing the tempo down at the trot and canter while maintaining lots of roundness.  The neck has to stay down, it can't come up, this really makes the horse come through his back.  He had everyone at the clinic working to slow the tempo at some point for various awesome upper level reasons.  The result was collection and horses that were really working hard and improving their gates, it was very awesome to see the change in the three days we were there in the horses.  So while Bastian and I are eons away from canter pirouttes, piaffe and passage (should we ever see fit to make it that far), getting him to slow down will make him so much stronger through his back and hind end and make our gaits prettier.

I got to ride him today and was armed with all of my new knowledge, I used this idea and the next one I'm going to talk about today.  I slowed his tempo way down, way way way down, like western pleasure down.  While not competition "speed," it gave us the opportunity to really focus on doing it right, you have to crawl before you can walk, right?  The canter was really hard, but we got 2-3 strides each way where he was so collected and slow it would make any inbred quarter horse jealous.  It was awesome.  But then when I let him out into his regular canter, wow, what a difference.  I mean it didn't last long, but with some more work, bing, we'll have it!

3) Ride with your seat, not your reins.  I think this is something that all of us riders tend to do as some point, especially those of us that are lower level riders.  I am so dependent on my reins, I mean ah, how else do I get from A to C or B to K or anywhere else in the alphabet that I need to get to?  So all weekend Conrad kept saying steer with your seat not the reins, making tiny voltes and diagonals, etc. etc. 

So I really focused on trying this while I was riding today, I can't say I entirely stopped steering with my reins, but I was hyper focused on it and trying very hard to just make sure my weight was in the right place and I was using my legs properly and while Bastian was not entirely unfussy with his head, he was less fussy than usualy while doing our figures.  It was actually pretty cool, I didn't try it at the canter yet, I want to make sure we've got it at the trot and walk first and it was all going well until the end when we were walking to cool out and I was taking him across the diagonal.  I must not have had my weight and legs right because he pretty much walked right into the wall.  :-D   And this exercise worked well with the slow tempo idea too, I mean how could we not make a turn when we going at turtle speed?

4)  Lots of figures and exercises, that while I might not be able to do the level of collection and awesomeness associated with the movement or we're not ready to learn that specific trick yet, we can still gain a lot from doing the exercises.  Like this cool leg yield to walk pirouette and 10 meter canter voltes towards the "board"  (wall!) with simple changes and the like. 

Its not every day you get to see this quality of horse and rider at a clinic, you see them at shows but you don't see them working towards that end result, you don't see them struggling with some of those same issues that everyday joe rider goes through.  Most clinics that people like attend are training level and walk-trot marathons, which are very important and worthwhile in their own right, but seeing this caliber of clinic is totally different and gives you a very different perspective.  It reminds you of all the possibilities that are out there. 

In other news, I've sent in my entries for the NODA Grand Haven Schooling Show on May 7th.  I'm showing in Training 3, First 3 and the Dressage Seat Eq. Class (which I probably won't do well in due to my floppy legs, but I have always wanted to show in this class and for $10 who could pass that up?  Should be fun!)  That will be our prep for the WPDA/Grand Haven Show in the beginning of June.

My Para-Equestrian hopes are not completely lost just yet.  There may still be a chance I end up at HITS Saugerities this September, we will see where that road leads. 

Me and Conrad!!!  (and the gorgeous diva Zoe Isabella)