Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Swing of Things

Weeell, sorry for not be a good blogger lately. As always, I've been extremely busy, but this broken hand is really slowing me down. EVERYthing takes longer. It's amazing how people adapt to different ways of life though. Here I am typing, using only one finger on my right hand, and I'm actually typing relatively fast. My grandpa was watching me type the other day and asked how I can type so fast. I just laughed, I mean, I was only using one finger on my right hand!!

Apparently I have won a CSDEA (Region 4's GMO) year end award... I don't know what it is yet, but quite a few people from Pferde Farm have been notified of their impending awards, so we're all going to go to the year end banquet together. That means I get my picture in the CSDEA's magazine!

Anyways, I have a few pictures for you guys... One is from my C1 rating with Sackett and the other is from the Otter Creek Fall dressage show with Grady. I look like a retard in the jumping picture, so just try and appreciate our good form and ignore my facial expression. The wall was 2'9". I will be getting a disc of pictures from my rating soon, so I'll put up lots more pictures when I get it.

In other news, Isis is at Birchbury right now for the duration of the deer hunting gun season. My dad doesn't let me ride during hunting - I always say it's not because he cares if I get shot, but because I'll scare the deer away. I always board Isis during deer hunting. To say the least, Rocky LOVES Isis. Actually alot of people do. The other day Rocky told me that I should sell Grady and just keep Isis. THAT won't happen, but she has definitely wiggled her way into a few more people's hearts. I'd been having problems with Isis fighting the bit, so when the dentists were out on Monday I asked them to check her and they filed on Isis's teeth for a good 45 minutes. It was interesting, the dentist looked and said "She has these problems, which can cause these problems when riding." I was like, "YEAH, that's EXACTLY what's happening!!" She's much improved. I can tell that she still has some throw back resistence, but it's becoming less and less.
I took a jumping lesson on Isis yesterday (she really hasn't ever jumped) and she tooled through the grid as if it was old hat. She did a 2' three bounce/one stride combo and just kind of trooped her way through, no problems, no mistakes... Then she looked as if she was board and wondering when she'd get to eat. Rocky was impressed with her amiable attitude and thinks she's a pretty stylish jumper to boot. I'd like to event Isis; I think she'd be a good event horse. Grady likes to jump and he'll be jumping for the rest of his life, but he'll never have that "can-do" attitude that makes life easy. Jumping Grady has been the best thing for my jumping ability, but I think it will be a long time coming before I'd be able to take him out and do a XC course cold. I think my new goal is to make Isis my event horse. Grady can be my dressage horse that jumps.
Speaking of Grady, he has been doing SO well lately. His attitude is getting better and better all the time. The other day I took him out and breezed him around the galloping track (Is Birchbury an equine resort or what??!!) and he went no problem, no questions asked, no spooks, no resistence. It was SO much fun.
My rides on Sackett and Julia have also been excellent. The other day I did an exercise on Sackett where I had to do a serpentine with jumps in the middle with each direction change (hard) BUT there were also skinny jumps set up along each curved part of the serpentine (crazy insane hard!). Rocky couldn't believe I actually did it. Riding Julia is so much fun. It's been so nice to ride such a well trained, sensitive upper level horse. I think Lindsay is impressed with how well we get along.
I know this is going to sound completely juvenile but... I LOVE YOU LINDSAY AND ROCKY!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Where to begin?

I have so much that I want to say... So much that I want to go into long, rambling detail about. It's been hard because long, rambling details take awhile, and I have been incredibly scrunched for time what with work, homework, and horses. Typing one handed slows down the process even more.

I can't even begin to describe how amazing last week was. Isis was over-all very good (as usual), and Sat. we went for a 45 minute, early morning gallop. You would not believe how refreshing that was, how much it cleared my head from all the jumble of the week. Isis is very careful when she goes fast, it's almost as if she's afraid I might fall off if she's too exhuberant. I have to convince her that it really is ok to gallop like a bat out of hell with me on top of her!

Grady was great too. I went out on the XC course and cantered him over hills and through the woods. He didn't spook ONCE. My lesson on Grady with Lindsay was simply amazing. We did a cool exercise where I rode a 20 m circle one way and then a 10 m circle the other in a figure 8 pattern. This was supposed to activate his inside hind more. Then we changed the exercise so that I would stop in the center of the arena on a 20 m circle and do a few steps at a time of turn on the forehand - but he HAD to stay round. If he pulled or faught (which he did) we would continue until he gave in. Then the minute he took a step relaxed and supple, I sent him on at the trot. It took several trys before he understood that the trot was IMEDIATE. Once we got this down, we moved on to transitioning down to the walk, doing a few steps of turn on the forehand in the walk, and then trotting off. Then the turns were done at the trot, which felt very cool and oddly slippery. (That's really the only word I can use to describe that!) Then we did the turns at the trot and then imediatly stepped into canter. The quality of his canter was the best it has ever been, I can't describe the feeling of weightlessness - as if we where cantering on air. Lindsay said it was by FAR the best canter she's seen from him. Why? Because his hind end was (probably for the first time) fully engaged. Not just engaged, but also lifting - It was bordering on a spiritual experience, what I would imagine flying to heaven to feel like.

I rode Julia a couple times, and that was excellent also. I had some very fluid, correct, and beautiful leg yields BOTH ways, and also had some very lovely shoulder-in work on the center line. Lindsay wont let you do shoulder-in on the rail because it's too tempting to push the haunches out rather then bring the shoulders in.

Jumping on Sackett was also awesome. My whole lesson on Friday went well from start to finish. We worked on having a more fluid two point (toes OUT, Rocky: "IT'S NOT DRESSAGE!!!") which felt MUCH better once I got it, and then we worked on stadium. I actually rode two courses, and for the first time they both felt smooth from start to finish. Usually I start out strong, and then start to bobble, and then just manage to finish the course without any major disasters. But this time it was smooth as silk the whole way through. Actually, I did have ONE bobble at a ramped oxer going into a combination. Our distance was a bit long, but what was so great about it was that I absolutely recovered right away and the very next stride after the oxer was controled and we had a great distance to the next jump.

*sigh* Everything was going so perfectly last week... But I shall ride again on Friday!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Broken Hand

This past week was a very exciting week filled with all sorts of good rides, light bulb moments, and great achievements.

Then Grady broke my hand. He broke it yesterday. I was riding and he decided to pull one of his typical stunts. He reared just a little, but snapped his head back. My hand was right where his neck was going and he crunched into it. My hand was in a fist and his neck hit my knuckles dead on. This shattered the bones in my hand that go to my pinky and forth finger. I knew it was broken right away, I heard a *pop, pop* and felt a sharp pain. I pass out easily, so I imediately just layed down on Grady's neck so I could breath and clear my head of the fuzz and ringing. THEN I decided that I didn't want Grady getting away with being naughty, so I rode with a perfectly broken hand for another 40 minutes. Remarkably, my breaks are very clean and the bones are lined up to heal well. I am getting a cast on Thursday, and the doctor said that I could probably ride after I get my cast. I'll just have to hold the reins between my first and second finger! Rocky and Lindsay will be riding Grady this week, and I *might* ride Isis since she doesn't pull dangerous and unpredictable stunts.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


YES!!! I haven't said anything on here incase it didn't happen, but I applied to work for Becky Holder down in NC this winter. And I got in!!! I'm sure it didn't hurt that there are personal connections with Birchbury, but hey, I'm in!! I am going the month of Feb. so that I won't take a huge chunk of time out of my job. I wish I could go for longer (actually, Becky said that in her last e mail to me too), but I simply can't because of my job. I hope that if there's a next time that I'll be able to go for the whole winter season.
Grady will be coming with and I will be riding him every day in lessons. This will be GREAT because I'll be able to ride him outside and won't be stuck in a box all winter! He'll also get some fairly intense jumping training, which will be really awesome.
I have to pay for Grady's "slot" at Birchbury even if he isn't there, so Isis is going to be taking his place and Rocky will be riding her a couple times a week to keep her going. It's perfect!! I am so excited!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Well, I've finally gotten around to reading the Twilight series. They are HUGELY popular and the whole series has been on the ten day status pretty much since they were published... Not even Harry Potter can claim that. I started the first book, Twilight, last night. And I read. And I read. And I never went to bed. The book is probably 600 pages. I finished it around 5:45 this morning and then went back and re-read some of my favorite parts. I re-re-read my favorite parts again this evening... And now I can not WAIT to read New Moon!! Thank goodness I'm going to have to wait a couple weeks for it though, or else I'd be pulling tons of all-nighters and not getting my homework done. I don't want to give away the plot to anybody who hasn't read the series yet, but take my and million's of other people's words for it - THEY'RE AWESOME!! I simply could not get enough of Edward. I had tingles running up and down my spine, and I was hyperventilating for quite a bit of it. Twilight is coming out as a movie this Nov.... And every cell in my body is planning on going to see it. As an extra plus, the actor who plays Edward (can't remember his name) is the same guy who played Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter movies.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Got my C1

Wow, this weekend was one of the most interesting and unique weekends I think I've ever had. It brought me up to the north shore and introduced me to some very interesting people. I'm at work right now and don't have time to tell the whole story, but I'll try to get to it this week. I will have pictures as well. But to make a long story short, I got my C1 and it went very well!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

3 hour test...

Today my Pony Club DC told me that she has no doubt that I'm going to be an Olympic rider someday... She watched me jump Grady. Grady did pretty well, and by the end of the lesson he jumped his first 2'7" oxer.

Anyways, I have a three hour test to take now. I am buried in the school library and will not be resurfacing until about 8:30. Wish me luck!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Picture of Hokan

I was unable to take pictures at the clinic because of poor lighting, but today I found a picture of Hokan riding. Hokan rode one of the horses at the clinic, and it was very fun to watch. Check out the website of the barn he works at: WARNING! The main page has a video, so don't bother if you have slow internet. If you have fast internet you can see videos of him riding!

I am going to be taking my C1 Pony Club rating this sunday... It's almost 4 hours away, so I'm going to be leaving bright and early!! Wish me luck!!

Yesterday in my jumping lesson we worked on jumping single 55 gallon barrels (on their sides) to practice jumping skinnys. Since they were barrels they didn't have standards, and it was is HARD!! It was raining, so I rode in the indoor (Of course, the weather was beautiful once I got to work). At the end of the lesson I jumped a single oxer to work on height for my rating. I jumped it at 2'9" a couple times (the height required for the rating) and then Rocky moved it up to 3'1". The higher jumps are actually a bit more fun because there's more thrust and air time.
This morning I rode Isis and practiced my emergancy dismounts at the trot. This is also something required for my rating. You kick your feet out of your irons, put your hands on the horse's withers and swing off quickly. I was SUPPOSED to practice coming off at the trot, but Isis - being the wonderful, considerate mare that she is - realized that I was trying to get off, so she stopped each time I dismounted. This made dismounting considerably easier, but also defeated the purpose of the exercise. It was incredibly adorable!! I gave her big hugs and kisses for being so considerate.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Hokan Thorn Clinic

This weekend I rode Grady in a clinic with Hokan Thorn. He came to Lindsay's barn... It was great!! Hokan is a Swedish rider who went through the German training system. He has ridden 12 horses to Grand Prix and 26 to Prix St. George.

Grady was well behaved, so we were able to really work. One of the main issues Hokan worked on with me was my tendency to hold my right hand too high and stiff. I learned that if I carried my hand a few inches lower and played more with my hand - always thinking of suppling - that Grady was much better and VERY steady in the contact. We also concentrated on keeping Grady's neck a bit longer. With those issues addressed and being improved on, we moved on to working on circles, straight lines, leg-yields, canter transitions, and simple changes... Basically always in shoulder-fore. Almost every movement that we did was done in shoulder-fore, which actually helped alot! I was very happy; it was nice to hear a rider so incredibly accomplished say "good! very good!" He was extremely encouraging.

Grady was TIRED by the end. He slept over at Lindsay's and he was just standing in his stall looking glassy eyed and exhausted. The next day I could tell that he was quite tired during my ride. He was a little grumpy, but over all our work was actually better. We more or less picked up right where we left off and we began working on more shoulder-fore and circles. Then we worked on more leg yields (the leg yield work was very good by the way). Hokan said that one of his favorite exercises is to turn down the center line, say on a right hand turn, and then leg yield right and vice versa. Hokan said that this establishes a steady connection on both reins. Grady was working so well that it really wasn't difficult, and we even leg yielded in shoudler-fore! Then we worked on our canter transitions and simple changes, and then we worked on half-halting in the canter to bring him back and collect him more. That was AWESOME. After a couple trys Grady would come back into a beautiful, floaty canter that sent tingles down my spine. I have never ridden that fabulous of a canter on Grady before... I'm not sure if I've ridden that kind of canter on ANY horse! Then we worked on doing shoulder-in before going across the short diagnol in lengthened trot. The shoulder-in got the inside hind leg activated so that he was ready to push when we turned off the wall to go forward. This greatly improved the quality of his lengthening. Absolutely all the trot was sitting after our warm-ups.

The other riders all had a successful clinic experience too... It was great! I would highly recomend him to anyone, both for riding with or auditing. It was so much fun to watch other riders and absolutely and visibily see changes in the quality of their work!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Flying Changes on Grady

Check out this web page about Lindsay...,%20medal_equestrian_foundation.htm

I have been very busy trying to catch up with school. Last week I did the minimum amount of homework that I could get away with so that I wouldn't have to worry about it during the show... I pushed all of my 2 week projects to this week, so I've been very busy!!

On Monday I had a jumping lesson on Sackett and that went pretty well, but it was hard. We worked on jumping on angles and after sharp turns. It was pretty hectic and not that smooth, but it got more organized towards the end.

Tuesday morning it was POURING out. I decided that I wanted to ride anyways, so I rode Isis around the field. She was excellent and I had a good ride. My underwear got soaked though.

This morning I rode Isis again and she was brilliant. Positively excellent. I had been having some issues with her last week. Let me tell you, I can tell a difference in my riding when Lindsay has been coaching me alot. Last week she coached me four days in a row with the show. She made me very aware of my hand position, because I tend to let the reins go too long and hold my hands too close to my body. She has been trying to get me to shorten my reins and hold my hands out in front of me. I think I finally got the message and it has made a HUGE difference in Isis!! It puts you in just the right spot to play with the reins and get the horse to soften without pulling. Lindsay is a model of that hand position!!

Today I jumped Grady. We were in the indoor because of all the rain... Grady really doesn't like the indoor, but when he's jumping he more or less forgets about his issues. We actually worked on flying changes over ground poles and HE GOT THEM! Like, right away. Like, it wasn't even a challenge to get him to do them. We did serpentines and figure eights with flying changes and he did them clean almost every time. It was very encouraging to do something inherently difficult but have it not be difficult at all. I guess Grady just does them naturally!! Rocky eventually built the jumps up higher so that by the end they were roughly 2 feet. Rocky got on him at the end and did the exercise a couple times so that I could see his jump. He's got a SUPER jump!! I'll have to get pictures of her jumping him sometime.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Otter Creek Fall Fest

Well, this last weekend was the Otter Creek Fall Fest. I do not have any pictures yet, but I will put them on as soon as I get them. Todd, one of Lindsay's clients, is going to school for photography and he was taking pictures of all our rides. He said he'd give me CD with all the pictures, so hopefully I'll get that later this week.

Where to begin!! I have so much to talk about. Friday morning I gave Grady a bath and put on his new sheet. I stopped at the tack store on Thurs. and got a sheet for him. The only water proof sheet they had that wasn't outragiously expensive was blue camo... Pretty wild. He looks very sexy in it, but it's a bit "out there" style wise. I'll get pictures of him in it later this week although it will probably be dirty by then. I followed Lindsay to Otter Creek and had a smooth, uneventful drive out. We made a quick stop at Fleet Farm, and I listened to the news and talk radio the whole way out. (No comment... I'm so sick of these politicians, democrats and republicans alike!!) Lindsay and I were the only ones going at that time, so when we got there we set up shop and rode horses. There were supposed to be five of us riding but two people couldn't go due to work and a death in the family, so it was just Lindsay, Taylor, and I. Lindsay was riding one of her client's horses. Grady did pretty well and Taylor came out near the end of my ride and rode Rebel for awhile. We braided and were done at the barn by 6:30. That was unbelievable and very nice.

That evening we scouted out the town for good eats. One lady recomended a place to eat, but when we got there it was a noisy, smokey bar and we left almost right away. We ended up going to a "nicer" restaurant, and the food was ok, but the service sucked. Then we went to the hotel and sat around watching the Amazing Racist videos on YouTube.

I shared a bed with Lindsay... And my gosh is she awful to sleep with! I mean, it's actually pretty funny, but I did not sleep well at all. She is the biggest snuggler I have ever encountered. She literally could not be NOT touching me. She contoured her body to mold around mine no matter what position I was in. She also pushed me to the edge of the bed. I did not sleep hardly at all that night. At one point I was laying on my back and she sat bolt upright, said "what the f*** was that?!!!" and then fell back down, elbowing my stomach as she came down. It WAS pretty funny, but I was really tired the next morning!!

It was cold the next morning, only 28 degrees. I bundled as much as I could! The show was very small, so the atmosphere was very relaxed and pleasent. We didn't feel pressured or stressed the entire time. As a group we only were doing Training and 1st Level tests, so all three of us were done by noon. I did Training 1 and got a 63.9% and Training 4. My Training 4 test had its good moments, but an old junker of a golf cart had been parked next to the arena and it was making some awful sputtering noises which discombobulated Grady quite a bit. I was actually quite happy with him, he could have been alot worse, but our canters were pretty wild. We only got 57%, which was a bummer because I feel that we could have done quite a bit better if the golf cart hadn't been there. Oh well, what can you do? I better get used to it because it wont be the last time it happens.

We had the whole afternoon to blow so we went out for lunch at the local biker bar and then Lydia decided she wanted to go to the "Fall Festival." The "Fall Festival" was supposed to be this fun occasion with hay rides, animals, craft booths, and games. Well, we got there and there were three alpacas, four rabbits, four craft booths, a tiny tractor with a tiny trailer, and a bean bag toss. The place hosting the "Fall Festival" was a place that made homemade old fashioned candy and baked goods, so I'd say that was about 75% of the "Fall Festival." They WERE giving away free samples of homemade candy though, so it wasn't a total waste.

Then we went into town to check out the movies at the theater, but there was nothing good playing so we scrapped that idea. Lindsay saw a pet store with a puppy sale so we simply HAD to stop and pet the puppies. So we did, although I spent alot more time with the birds and rodents.

Then we went back to the hotel. Lindsay napped while Taylor and I fought over the TV chanel. We were at the hotel for a couple hours and when it came time to go back to take care of the horses for the night, Lindsay was refusing to get up. We were trying to wake her up but she kept squeaking and kicking like a horse. Taylor eventually dumped water on her head, which got Lindsay up but she wasn't very happy! Taylor and I thought it was really funny.

We met Todd and Tammy in the lobby and headed back for evening chores. Afterwards we went to Pizza Hut, and Lindsay, Taylor, and I got into a squabble over what kind of pizza we wanted. We are SO mature.

I was in bed at asleep by 9:30 that night. I claimed my portion of the bed and fell asleep BEFORE Lindsay pushed me to the edge, so I slept quite a bit better. Oh, did I mention that Lindsay was sick? Well she was, so she was coughing and blowing her nose constantly. I'm sick now too.

The weather was warmer on sunday, but it was also cloudy. It started to rain mid morning, right before my tests. I didn't have much to do until my tests, so Taylor and I were eating ginger bread pop tarts (my favorite). I was standing by Grady's stall and he decided that HE wanted ginger bread pop tarts. He was reaching as faaar as he could, neck and head and lips outstretched towards my pop tart. I gave him a corner and he seemed to like it. Then he reached out and bopped my arm which caused me to drop my ginger bread pop tart. SO he got the whole thing, and he seemed quite pleased about that.

It was a pretty cold rain, so I decided to scratch my Training 2 test and just do my Training 4 test. I think it was a good idea and I'm glad I did it. Our warm up went well and the test also went well. We got 62.8%, so a qualifying score for next year's regionals. Now I just need 6 more scores over 62% to qualify for 09 regionals!

After our tests we packed up in a whirlwind and headed home. Lindsay had to head out to Temple Farms in Chicago to ride with Conrad Schumacher as soon as she got home, so we left ASAP. The trip home was also relatively uneventful and Grady was happy to be back at Birchbury. When I put him in the pasture the other horses were too far to see, so Grady was walking around calling. He eventually walked back over to me like, "I can't find my friends!!" Me (being the sucker that I am) put on his halter and led him out far enough so that he could see his buddies. When he saw them I took off his halter and he took off at a gallop with one fabulously big buck. He is so adorable!

Late afternoon I hung out with Isis in the barn. I didn't ride because it was still raining. She's so adorable! I pretty much fell asleep sitting on the bottom board of her paddock, and she just stood with her head hanging over mine.

This morning I had a jumping lesson on Sackett and it was really hard. We worked on angled lines and SHARP turns. I feel that I was relatively successful, but it was a very difficult lesson.

Pictures of the show as soon as I get them!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

XC Grady

*phew* I'm taking a mental break from homework. I'm under quite a bit of pressure because I have a horse show this weekend and basically have to be done with homework by tomorrow. So I have three days less than I normally would to complete my homework, which is bad enough in and of itself, but my web design publishing software is glitching up on me!! I'm ready to go insane!! For the first time EVER I might have to write my teachers and ask them to extend my deadlines...

I had a jumping lesson on Grady... we did XC!!! First time for the big G. We worked on up and down banks (beginner novice & novice), logs, little roll tops, and the beginner tires! The tires are a solid 2'6", but Grady sailed right over them the very first time. Oddly enough, he had the biggest issue with the logs... He was just unsure as he was approaching them. He was having so much fun though, Rocky and I think that he really likes this jumping stuff. He was alert and interested - if not a bit exuberant - over the jumps. I think my guy is finally figuring out that the life of a ridden horse isn't as awful as he thought it was.

Below is a pic of the BN tire jump, although right now it's between two large tractor tire standards with wooden bases and plants. I would post more, but I'm not confident in the legality of putting a copy righted picture in my blog!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

LOTS going on... Wow.

Thursday morning I had to SI again (*sigh*) and it went ok. I felt better about it than I usually do; I got a VERY firm grip on comma splices. It's hard because I'm trying to learn the material fast enough so that I can turn around and teach it five minutes later. I am definitely going to say NO to SI-ing next semester. I actually said no this semester too, but I got scheduled for it anyways.

I spent all Thurs. afternoon doing homework and then went out to the barn late afternoon. I took Grady out the XC course (he walks out quite nicely now, or atleast he has been lately) and rode him in one of the big open fields. He is SO much happier out there, he just went right to work. He's very forward, very solid, very responsive, and actually quite eager to work. We worked on transitions and simple changes for a bit, and then I let him gallop a few laps around the field. After the gallop I brought him back to trot and worked on stretchy chewy circles. The concept has finally seemed to *click* with him, and I was very pleased.

When I got back Jill and Tess had just gotten there. Jill wanted me to come riding with them so she asked Patty (barn owner) if I could ride one of her horses. So I got to ride Walter, a 7 year old prelim event horse that is the EASIEST horse I think I've ever ridden. It was very disorienting to get on a horse and have him autimatically go on the bit without even having to ask him. It was actually quite bizarre, but he was very fun to ride. We went out and went for a nice gallop.

Yesterday I rode Isis early and she was pretty good. Then I had a XC lesson on Sackett and it was AWESOME!!! We are starting to jump higher jumps and harder questions, and it's actually going really well. I pretty much did all Novice fences and a few of the easier Training fences. Rocky had me jump the hardest Novice jump Birchbury has. It's on an incline going into the woods, it's a skinny with a tree on both sides, and it's a very intimidating looking jump. Or I guess it's supposed to be, but I didn't think it looked very scary. Anyways, I jumped it perfectly the first time! I find that the hardest XC jumps for me are "square" roll tops where the top is flat. It's really hard to find the distances to those... But Rocky said that that's normal and that it's hard for most people.

Then I brought Grady over to Lindsay's and had an excellent lesson on him. We worked on getting a firmer connection to the left and smoother transitions. Our work was actually really nice. I discovered that my connection is much steadier going to the left if I lower my right hand. Isn't it weird how dumb little things like that can make SO much of a difference??!! Lindsay was also very impressed with his sudden improvement in stretchy chewy circles... She said that all the ones we did were worthy of atleast a score of 8!

THEN I rode Julia and had a great ride. First we worked on lengthening the trot, but the word extending is probably more accurate. We were doing WAY more than a lengthen. Then we worked on cantering and keeping her body straight. She has a tendency to push her haunches to the inside (something typical of more advanced dressage horses) so I had to really work on getting her straight. I was having a heck of a time until I started just *thinking* about riding a half-pass. Not actually DOING a half pass, but thinking about it. Suddenly she got straight! At the end we worked on leg yields and they were the most beautiful and excellent feeling leg yields I have ever ridden. Yay!! Lindsay was also very pleased with them.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bad boy!!

It rained all day tuesday. Not just rain, but thunder and lightning and wind. I got up at 6 to ride Isis (I was planning on being at the barn by 7), but it started to storm shortly after, so I didn't ride her. SO I cleaned my riding boots and Isis' bridle - And watched Dinosaur. Yep, I did. I like Disney movies, always have, always will.

I rode Grady that evening. He was AWFUL. Just awful. I had to ride in the indoor. Birchbury's indoor is very large, open, and bright, but it's just not the same as riding outside. He pulled his typical stunt of picking a corner to be "scared of." I do a pretty good job of curbing that behavior now, so when he figured out that he wasn't winning he decided to buck, rear, and run sideways instead. This sort of behavior is pretty typical if he doesn't want to go somewhere. It's the same behavior he pulls going out to the XC sometimes. But this was BAD. We battled for probably a good half hour. Eventually he came around and went forward without balking at the corner, but over all it was just not a good ride. But I'm glad that I "won."

I rode Isis yesterday morning and she was ok, but the footing was pretty bad after the rain. It was either too deep or too slippery, so the quality of our work wasn't as good as I would have liked it to be.

I had a jumping lesson on Grady and that went pretty well. It was in the indoor since the footing was so bad outside, and we did the dreaded "circle exercise." Grady was quite confused by it and was NOT very smooth, but he was pretty well behaved the whole time. The exercise is where you have four ground poles and/or jumps equally spaced on a circle. Sound easy? IT'S NOT!! It's hard enough on Sackett because I have to think so hard to get the striding equal and the distances correct. On Grady it was next to impossible. Thankfully, Rocky didn't even have me worry about striding; it was just my job to ride a circle and let Grady figure it out. We had jumps where he took off WAY too long, jumps that he came in so tight he had to take launching bunny hops, and several jumps where he simply crashed through them. He was completely bamboozled by the exercise, and he was having a very hard time both mentally and physically... And that's good! It's VERY tiring (for both of us) and by the end of the lesson I could tell that he was really struggling. It's so hard because you're constantly turning at the same time you're trying to jump. It's great for him!
I've been doing LOTS of homework. I'm swamped... SO I'm off to do more!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Web Design!

I'm getting more and more excited about web design. I think it's the perfect supplement and back up to my riding career. I have tons of fun doing it and my creative juices can run - no drawing needed! (I suck at drawing) I'm looking into more advanced online web design degrees that I could possibly persue while I persue my dressage career. So exciting!
I didn't have a jumping lesson this morning, but I still rode Sackett. I went out to the XC course and worked on dressage. When I jump him I don't care about having a dressage head set, and I have a feeling that nobody else who rides him does either... So when I asked for it it was a bit of a struggle to start. But he came around fairly quickly and we had some really nice, steady, consistent, on-the-bit work. He has a really fun canter, it's very floaty.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

No Title

I am very tired. Just worn out... Just from being so busy. On Thurs. I had a lesson on Julia and it went really well, I had some brilliant medium trots. Then I rode Grady out on the XC course. I was so proud of him, he marched right out there without misbehaving at all! The ride went VERY well too, he was very forward and responsive. I rode Isis early yesterday and she was pretty good. I had an AWESOME XC jumping lesson on Sackett. Rocky said that my jumping on Sackett has improved alot since I've started jumping Grady. She thinks that's because I have to be extremely tight and secure (so I wont die) on Grady, so my leg and seat have to be extremely solid and I have to be very motivated to get over the jump. That solidness has translated over to Sackett, and my jumping has improved by quite a bit. I even jumped a few Training level fences, all with great success. Then I had a lesson with Lindsay on Grady. He wasn't naughty persay, but to quote Lindsay, "Our dressage sucked." It was just not good. He wasn't forward and he was constantly trying to bow out his right shoulder. I was supposed to ride Julia again, but Lindsay said to ride Grady AGAIN instead. So I did... And I'm very glad I did. I got on his case right away about being forward, and the quality of his work was much better and his body was much straighter. We even had an "ah ha!" moment! I was having trouble getting him to smoothly transition from the canter to trot in the left lead, so Lindsay had me go into a "leg yield along the wall" position while I asked for the downward transition. This got his right shoulder underneath him and made the transition very smooth. I can't wait to work on it again!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


The slideshow does not appear to be working. *rips out hair* I am so sick of this!!!

Slide Show

Agh! No Photoshop!

I came up to the computer lab all geared to work on my banner strip for this blog and *gasp* no Photoshop!! How can the computer lab not have Photoshop?? The computers in the Academic Support Center do, but funnily enough (I know funnily isn't a word) you can't use it unless you're doing homework. So the one place I CAN goof around is the one place that DOESN'T have Photoshop. I also made a slide show on Photobucket, but I am having a heck of a time figuring out how to get the slide show onto this blog as a feature. I figured out how to SHARE the slide show and put it into a post (I just posted it today), but I can't figure out how to put it in that slideshow thing in the Layout tab. If anyone has any brilliant suggestions I'd love to hear them!

I am LOVING my web design class. Once I have my current web design project published I'll put the link up here so you guys can see my work. Have I mentioned that I am going to be making Pferde Farm a website as my "big" web design project? I am so excited!! I've already been brain storming like wild.

My jumping lesson on Grady was AWESOME today!! Grady is finally starting to get over it and just JUMP. Before he would jump nicely, then when Rocky would switch up the program (like adding a new jump) he would put up a fight. We'd fight through it once, then he'd be cool. Then it would happen again the NEXT time we switched it up. But today he was really quite good the entire time. There were a few jumps where you could tell he was questioning or hesitant, but he never once refused. At the end we jumped a nice little course and I was praising him like he'd just jumped a clear round at the Rolex!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Breast Cancer Benefit Show

This weekend I went to a breast cancer benefit schooling show. The proceeds went to Laurie Nelson, a local dressage trainer with breast cancer and no insurance. Jo, Kaitlyn and I rode while Lindsay coached. It was an exhausting weekend! I worked all day saturday and then went straight from the library to Birchbury. I had Grady loaded and ready to go a bit after 6:30 at made the long journey to the barn the show was being held at. It was about an hour and 45 minutes and it was basically dark when I got there. I brought Grady into the barn and started searching for my stall when all ofasudden I heard galloping hooves and the barn was flooded with horses. Evidently that barn lets all the horses in at once and they find their stalls. Grady and I were caught in the middle of it and I am SO lucky that Grady didn't freak out and that none of the horses attacked us! When an employee came in we were still surrounded by stampeding horses and I just started yelling "help!!!" It's always nice to have something get your adrenaline pumping.
The others had gotten there only a bit earlier and were just finishing up riding in the show ring to get the feel for it. (Side note: On Saturday Lindsay brought her filly to an Oldenburg inspection. Her filly got premium and was the highest scoring horse at the inspection!) I took Grady out and walked him around the arena a bit, but I didn't want to ride since it was pitch black and getting pretty late. I live close enough to the facility that I spent the night at home. On my drive I stopped to get gas and as I was filling up an all out brawl started by the gas station. Cars honking and screeching, girls and guys screaming, swearing, punching, drinking, kicking, slamming... I put in fourth of a tank and got out of there!!
The show went (I think) very well. Grady was 100% well behaved the whole time. He never once spooked or pulled any sort of tricks. Thanks again Lindsay!!! I didn't get any pictures because no one was taking any and I didn't have any parents there to take them for me. But anyhoo, Grady's first test was *ok*. It was actually fairly smooth, but there were certainly things that I could pin point that we needed to improve. It was doing this awful cold drizzle the entire day and the warm up arena was very slick. Grady kept slipping so my warm up for my first test wasn't very comprehensive (although Grady was well behaved!) and my warm up for my second test basically didn't happen. I got on him while the rider before me was doing her test and went in cold turkey - he did well though.
The judge was scoring VERY low. There were only a few people that got above 60%. I got a 59% on my Training 2 test and third place. I got a 57% on my T4 class and WON!!! I think that's very sad that I won with 57%, and there were 8 people in the class. Lindsay saw both my tests and said that if I had had a test like that at a rated show that I would have scored much higher! Both of my tests were fairly good and I was pretty happy with them. There are three things that I need to work on: Keeping a more consistent contact (Grady has gone from pulling on the reins to be a little too soft! Now he has to PUSH to the bit), snappier upward and downward canter transitions (these are generally pretty good at home, but they weren't as sharp in a strange place with no warm up), and not screwing up my halts!! I totally messed up on my last halt and it was so utterly embaressing. He halted very evenly but I thought he was crooked so I bumped him a bit to try and even out his legs and of course he took a huge step. I've decided that when we halt at shows I am not going to worry about straightness after we've gotten the halt!! The halt we get is the halt we'll have - That way I don't risk messing up a perfectly good halt with my stupidity.
The day was a BLAST though. Both Jo and Kaitlyn did very well, and it was very fun to see them ride at the show. Jo is the barn manager at Pferde and Kaitlyn is her daughter. They are both pretty new to dressage so I think they did VERY well. They got some 2nds and 3rds and were scored just as horribly as I was.
During the middle of the day we had a fairly long break between classes so since we were freezing our buns off we decided to sit in the office. I told Lindsay about my chinchilla Jupiter and how he does is girlfriend pink fuzzy slippers... She found this to be quite hilarious and wants videos, so you might be seeing some X rated pink fuzzy slipper videos soon! Lindsay is the queen of burping so she was trying to teach me how to birp, something I've never been able to do very well at all. I downed Dr. Pepper and only had a few small, inaudible birps. No window rattling ones like Lindsay can do. *sigh*
We also watched some equ classes and Lindsay and I chatted about training with Conrad Schumacher. She hopes to go to Chicago for a few days in Oct. to train with him and asked if I would like to come with. I wouldn't be able to ride with him (you have to be invited to), but if I go I would get a chance to have Lindsay introduce me and recomend me for lessons so it would be worth the trip. I'd love to go, I just have to get my work covered!! He's going to be back in Nov. so maybe I could ride then? We'll see. Update you more on this later.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Busy Again!!

My brain has been on over drive this past week. I have been going none stop all day, every day from about 6 in the morning till midnight. I'm tired and when I get this way I think my brain starts to malfunction. I can't remember simple things.

Yesterday was quite a busy day. I rode Sackett first in a jumping lesson and that went pretty well. I still get a little thrown by larger courses of jumps, I need to get a better feel for taking each jump at a time without getting psyched about the next one. A course will start out very organized and then it will get sloppier and sloppier as we go! Rocky seemed to be happy with our work for the day, but I felt like I could have done better.

Then I rode Grady over at Lindsay's. I love it over there, it is so much fun. I tried Bev's Albion saddle on Grady and it seemed to fit him pretty well. I've had a heck of a time finding a decent fitting saddle for Grady. If I decide to buy this one it will be my 4th saddle for him, but I think it's the best fitting one I've tried so far. I am going to ride in it today and tomorrow and see if he seems to like it with a few days of use. The lesson went pretty good... He tried to pull a few fast ones but we worked through them. I am so thankful I have someone who is helping me with his issues!

I rode Julia next... She is tons of fun to ride. It's so nice to be on a big, flashy, well trained,horse - and she actually behaves!! Maybe someday Grady will get there, but he's not there yet. I think Lindsay was impressed with how well we do together because Julia is NOT an easy horse to ride. She's well trained and knows enough that your cues have to be dead on to get the correct results... Plus she's just a, well, a b****y mare!! I am so happy I get to (finally) ride an upper level horse that I really click with.

I rode Isis in the late afternoon. She was very good and we worked on more transitions. I upped the difficulty a few notches and I was very pleased with how she responded.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Videos of Isis and I

Well I finally got my act together and got some videos of Isis for you guys. Actually, I had my dad video tape me because I wanted to see how Isis's lengthenings/ leg yields/ and medium trot were coming along. As you'll see in the videos, her gaits aren't that great - particularly her canter. I love her to death, but she just doesn't have any brilliance in that canter!! her leg yields are functionally correct, but also not brilliant. When I watch Grady leg yield in the mirrors in the indoor his inside leg literally crosses a good two feet over his outside, but isis just kind of steps across. *shrug* Anyways, enjoy! Please ignore how utterly retarded I sound. Infact, turn your sound off!!!

I had another jumping lesson on Grady today. Lynn joined us with her baby horse Natalie, an awesome Oldenburg. We started with a grid (eventually built up to two feet) and then added additional fences on. Grady was a bit thrown off by the "turn/jump/turn/jump" thing because so far he's just had to work through a grid... There was one jump with white (OMG!!!!) poles that he found scary every time. I rode him hard towards that fence and he'd be fighting the whole way over!! Rocky said that I have to be like cement to get him over those fences. Lynn was laughing at me because of how "cementy" I was!! She was like "there was ALOT of 'grrrr!!' in that ride!!"

You'll see two simple changes, a canter lengthening, and a trot lengthening in this video.

You'll see two leg yields to the right

You will see some medium trots across the diagnol and then a leg yield to the left (my tricky one)

Another leg yield to the left

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Oooh man, today was brutal. Last night I was up super late working on my archaeology homework. Then I got up at 5 this morning... And it was only 35 degrees out!! I'm sorry, but that's just too dang cold for early September. I rode Isis this morning at about 7:30. She's been such a trooper lately and we've been working so hard on 2nd Level stuff... So today I decided to go back and work on something that any good dressage trainer would say you should do often, on any horse, at any level: Transitions!! It was a great tune up session.

Then I had to tutor for the first time. It went pretty well over all. Fortunatly I'm with a group of other tutors that I really enjoy. I worked with a girl on her english paper for about a half hour and then I worked on the computer with another lady. She was taking an online class about computer concepts... Well, the problem was was that she really wasn't even sure how to get into her online class. So she hadn't done any of the homework for the first two weeks. I worked with her for about three hours. She was super nice and I was tutoring the subject I enjoy, so it was a good experience, but it was exhausting... I literally had to teach her everything from opening a file to how to do her homework. But that's ok, that's what I'm there for. And she'll get it - it'll just take time. At the end she gave me a big hug and thanked me about six trillion times, so that was really nice. It was also in front of my boss and that can't hurt anything!

I worked at the library through the afternoon. I was close to brain dead by the end. Typically on tuesdays I go to Birchbury after the library, but there's a show this weekend, so I figured I'd better try to get my homework done before the weekend since I wont be able to work on it then. I'm also getting other things like paper work, answering emails, and other stuff like that done too. *sigh* I hate having to choose homework over my horses. My only consolation is that my classes this semester are the classes I need to get my career going, so it's really just a short amount of time before horses can be the focus. Stay strong Kristie!!!

Yesterday Lydia and Taylor dropped in at the library and gave me some prints of pictures from Otter Creek. Two of them were of the downhill portion of the canter stride, so neither where that great, but I scanned the other two which are both ok.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Lindsay is the USDF Region 4 Grand Prix Open champion. Yaaaaaaaaaay!!!! Congrats to Lindsay!! Everyone else from Pferde Farm did very well. There are no other championship titles, but everyone placed and scored well. So congrats to everyone, I can't wait to join you next year!!

My jumping lesson went really well today. We worked on a grid with bounces and then added that grid into a larger course. My sharp turns after fences are greatly improving (Rocky continually told me not to run through the arena fence), and ever since that fence snafoo at the show, Rocky has been having me practice alot of sharp turns. (The turn wasn't the problem though - it was my memory!!) I over jumped the first bounce we did and Sackett tried to jump two jumps at once... But after that our bounces were quite smooth.

And guess what, somebody GAVE Rocky a 3rd Level dressage horse and his $5000 custom made saddle. Yes, GAVE!! Lucky!! Yes, I am extremely happy for her... I just can't wait for the day when someone will be giving ME free 3rd Level horses! The horse's name is Arthur and he has been consistently scoring in the mid 70s at 3rd Level. *sigh* Some people have all the luck. Of course, she is a trainer with a great reputation and lots of experience... So I guess I just have to wait my turn!

Sunday, September 7, 2008


As part of my on going tutor training I had to take a personality test... It was a very interesting test and I am supposedly an "INTJ." I saved the results page on my favorites, but it will not display my results any more... So I can't give any exact quotes on what exactly an INTJ is, but it was pretty interesting and amazingly accurate. Basically it said that an INTJ is extremely unusual and only about 1% of the people who have taken the test are INTJs. But it described me almost exactly: I like to make plans, I feel uncomfortable when I don't have a plan, I can make quick decisions, I don't waste my time doing anything I don't need to do, I get everything that I do need to do done on a timely manner, I enjoy socializing but would rather not be overly social, I'd rather not lead but I can if I have to... I'm not particularly compassionate and I'm all about gettin' er' done. The test actually said that INTJs are unconventional geniuses. Of course, a survey quiz is never a 100% garuntee, but I was surprised by the accuracy of this test. I guess I always thought I was different in the exact ways INTJs are supposed to be.... And that's also probably why I'm so abnormally and maniacally driven.

If you're interested in taking the test here's the link:

In other news, I rode Grady earlier today and he was pretty good. I rode him out in the jumper ring and he hasn't been out there for a couple weeks. The jumper ring is a complete hazard zone of jumps and jump parts laying in and around, so it's a great place for Grady to get his spook on. He actually did try a couple times, but I've gotten pretty good at preventing and correcting him when he's naughty. (Thank you Lindsay!!) He was "on edge" the entire ride, but he was absolutely obedient and was actually quite brilliant. He even walked over a liverpool several times without (hardly) any hesitation.

It's such a beautiful day today, I'm going to go out and take Isis for a trail ride soon...

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Some Pretty Faces

Over the next couple weeks I am going to put up pictures from the "other parts" of my life that have nothing to do with horses. That way you can see that there ARE other parts, even if they aren't very big parts! I have two very precious cocketiels named Pete and Polly (Extremely original, I know). I have had them for 11 years... And they still hang out with me pretty much every day. They like to help me eat my food and sit on my head and shoulders. Pete is quite sociable and is pretty much a dork. He maintains a running commentary almost constantly and can whistle a very vague version of the Andy Griffith theme song. On the other hand, Polly is very serious and gets extremely annoyed at Pete's antics. BUT she is far more tactile and loves to have the feathers on her neck ruffled. She asks you to do this by butting her head up against your hand. While you ruffle her feathers she closes her eyes and rotates her head from side to side... But then you do something wrong and she bites your hand. These pictures demonstrate their personality's perfectly.



In other news, yesterday I rode Grady out on the XC course. The weather was cold and windy and I wasn't sure how well he was going to behave... But he was a super star!! I only rode him for 20 minutes because there was absolutely nothing more I could have asked of him. I also rode Isis and Sackett and they were both very good. My jumping lesson schedule has been a little hairy this week because of Labor day and Rocky's daughter's first day of kindergarten... But next week it will get back to normal.

I had to work all day at the library today and that was fine. Then this evening I rode Isis and dad filmed my ride. I wanted to see her lengthenings, medium gaits, and leg yields. I was really pleased with what I saw when I watched the video. I hope to post some clips on here later this week... So stay tuned!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Agh! No picture!

That blog thing on 07 didn't put the picture in... So here it is.

Word 07 Experiment

Well, so in my adventures of taking computer classes I ran across a feature of Word 2007 that I didn't know it had… The ability to make blog posts. So I'm giving it a try. Hopefully this will work; I've never done it before so this is more or less an experiment. It's kind of odd though and the blog post document is behaving in ways that normal word documents don't. I was hoping I could add borders and all that, but it doesn't seem to have that capability.

Anyways, have I mentioned that my sister graduated from basic last week? Here's a picture of her and my dad looking rather serious. My parents went down to her graduation, but I didn't since I have school, work, and (of course) my poniez. Did you know that dressage riders that are in the army can compete in their dress uniforms? I keep telling my sister that she needs to start doing dressage so she can ride in that sweet coat she's wearing.

Hmmm, I'm not sure if I'm liking this blog thing… Oh well, I'll try it this one time and if I don't like it I won't use it again. It's also annoying because it's catching all my grammar errors. Well, DUH, of course I'll have grammar errors when I'm writing casually.

Oh, and by the way, Lindsay and the rest of the competitors from Pferde Farm or down in Mason City, Iowa for regional championships right now. Good luck to them!! I wish I could have gone, but I didn't make it to enough shows to earn enough qualifying scores. Oh well, there's always next year! And if Grady continues in the way he's going now, he'll be absolutely FABulous by then! There is actually one show for qualifying for next year that is on the first weekend of October, so I'm very excited about that. And it's at Otter Creek… Grady seemed to be quite comfortable there. It is SO nice to be with a competitive barn. I'm going to go to practically all the shows next season!

Yesterday I was extremely tired and didn't feel very well. I was a little sick to my stomach and had a head ache. I know that on days like that it's better if I don't ride Grady. I just don't have the energy to ride as hard and discipline the way I need to. So I didn't ride him, I just brought him in and groomed him for 45 minutes. The one thing I definitely DON'T normally like to do is groom. My grooming is typically about 5 minutes max if I'm going to ride - just getting the dirt off before I put the saddle on. So Grady thought it was weird that I was just sitting there and brushing and fussing. I feel really bad though because I picked his feet and left a bunch of dirt on the floor and forgot to sweep it up. I had every intention to, but I was putting his stuff away and thinking about how nice it would be to just be at home and lay on the couch. So I forgot. So I feel terrible about it.

I rested for awhile and rode Isis in the evening. I went the "Anky van Grunsven" route last night and rode her for about an hour and a half. You know, a lot of people don't like Anky but I think she's great. We worked on pretty much everything: medium gaits, simple changes, walk/canter and canter/walk, haunches in, shoulder in, leg yield etc. Isis did very well. I think one of the most valuable and helpful things Lindsay has taught me so far about leg yields is that you DON'T look in the direction that you're going. My old trainer always told me that I should and it always felt extremely awkward. The other day in a lesson Lindsay was like "are you looking at the wall? Don't! Look straight ahead!" And it made a WORLD of difference. My leg yields on Isis are also far easier if I ride with my head straight forward. Whatta ya know.

Well, it's off to the barn. He he, I have ALL my homework done for the week. Absolutely everything is completed and turned in. Quizzes are taken. Yesssss. And I have an A in all my classes so far. So I'm going to start working on next week's homework tonight so I can get ahead!! Incase you haven't noticed, I'm no procrastinator.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

English SI

So you know that I really didn't want to SI. I don't remember if I've mentioned that before. SI is Supplemental Instruction. And it's for english. The whole "sentence structure" thing just isn't for me. Thank goodness we wont be spending much time on this. I can write and, believe me, when I'm writing for a college paper my writing is GOOD. Much better than on this blog. But I more or less write with feel, not mechanical knowledge... I can write a good sentence but not know what each part of the sentence is. That is why I didn't WANT to SI for english. *grumble*

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Well, I'm back in business. Sorry about my lack of posting, but my internet service was on the fritz for the last week and a half. It was extremely annoying, particularly since all my classes are online!! I'd get online then get booted off in about ten seconds. Over and over. It sucked.

Anyways, life has been super exciting though!! School is (so far) going pretty well. I like the classes that I'm taking. I've decided that I don't want to go the college route right now (rather get a working student job at a barn or something like that), so since my parents want me to go this year I'm just taking classes that I want to take. So I'm taking Intro to Archaeology, Microcomputer Word Processing, and Web Design 1. I do like computer stuff!!

My riding has been going really well. My lessons with Lindsay have really improved Isis's work at home. She is solidly working at 2nd Level, really getting it together. Very exciting!! Even leg yields are going really well. Grady has been doing really, really well too. He's actually developing quite a work ethic. Lindsay is amazing!! And guess what?? I took a lesson with Rocky on Grady today. WE JUMPED!! Not kidding. We started over ground rails and then built up to cavaletti. Grady was being so good that Rocky just kept making them higher. By the end of the lesson Grady was going through a gymnastic that started out with an 18 inch cavaletto, than two ground poles, than a 2' one stride combination!! I could not believe it. And he was absolutely trucking his way through, he never once said no... It was very exciting. I'm going to keep up with the jumping on him, I think it's great for his brain.

Speaking of jumping, here are some links to some recent jumping events. The first link is of the jumping schooling show I did a couple weekends ago (yes, when I crashed through the fence - sorry, no pictures of that). I am on Page 6 and I'm the rider in the brown shirt. I like the look of the first picture but I look utterly demented. In the second picture I really like how Sackett looks but my left leg swung back. This is becoming less and less of a problem thankfully. My right leg is as solid as it can be, but my left leg sometimes swings back if I'm not thinking about it.

In addition, Trottbrook Horse Trials, Minnesota's only recognized event was Labor Day weekend. It's very exciting to watch and I hope to do it next year. We had about 8 people from Birchbury compete this year. Lindsay's student Jen was also there, and Lindsay coached her for her dressage. It was very fun and what makes it even more fun is that now I know TONS of people there. Jill did her first prelim event ever and she made it through with a 7th place finish. Lynn won her Training level division which was SUPER exciting. All the Trottbrook pictures are at the link below. Jill's pictures start on Page 27 of the Prelim pictures. I did Einstein's braids!! Jill's dressage test didn't go as well as I've seen her do... I think her brain was perhaps getting in the way a wee bit!! *smile* Her XC went pretty well, she had two refusals. The first was at a very difficult corner jump with a very hairy approach. As you can see, when she got over it the second time she broke the flag!! She also had a refusal in the middle of the bounce because she didn't have enough gas coming in. It was funny because while we were watching Rocky said "c'mon Jill, he needs more gas or he'll never make that bounce..." And then afterwards Jill said "We needed more gas to make that bounce!!" It was pretty funny. Lynn's pictures start on page 16 of the Training Level picture group. Her dressage test actually went quite well and she got a 35. Her horse is Good Bye Ruby Tuesday and she is so pretty!! Her stadium was flawless and her XC pretty much was too. Jen's pictures start on page 27 of the Training group (she got a 33 in dressage, but unfortunatly her horse, Loose Cannon, was so tired for XC that he almost didn't make it through and actually stopped a few times) and Avery and So Far So Good's pics start on page 44. Avery placed 7th and did FAR better in her dressage than she thought she would!

In other news, I rode one of Lindsay's upper level horses for the first time last week. That was incredibly awesome and it was SO much fun to ride a horse that is so well trained. My riding had to be ten times more precise than what I'm used to. Evidently that horse, a Hanoverian mare named Julia (but pronounced Hoolia), is kind of a testy sort so Lindsay was very impressed that we seemed to get along so well. I'm hoping that if I can ride her through the winter I can perhaps show her next year at 2nd Level. She is not only a very well trained horse, but she is very stunning too so I am very excited!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

1st Day of School

Bleeeeech. I'm back on campus, sitting in the library, just about to log into my college account. I do well at school, don't get me wrong it's just - It's so time consuming and I really don't have any plans to get a degree at this point so it's sort of pointless. My parents want me to take some classes. Just think of all the precious riding time I'll be missing because of school!! Actually, it's not so bad because - like I said before - my schedule allows for 5 rides each per week for my own horses and a couple rides per week on Sackett and Lindsay's horses. But still... yuck!! *Gearing up to log in* Here goes......

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jumper Infamy

Wow, do I have the stories to tell... And unfortunatly no pictures to go with.

Yesterday was a LONG day. We went to the Como Zoo with my 8 and 5 year old cousins. The zoo was interesting (I've been there quite a few times) and I very much love the conservatory. Charissa was quite enthralled with the Japanese Garden. THEN we went to ComoTown, a small kiddy sized amusement park. Uuuuugh... We were there for FIVE hours. And of course, KRISTIE has to go on ALL the rides, most of them spinny rides. I don't handle spinny rides too well. We did the swings, the little roller coaster, the tea cups, the pumpkins, the frog hopper, the train, this weird ride that went up and down slow while you shot water at fake fire, and OH the bumper cars. Ian, the younger of the two, is more or less a wimp and wouldn't go on many of the rides. But he would go on the bumper cars (go figure), and since he is only 5 I had to go with him as the adult. But the bumper cars are very small and I really couldn't fit that well, so every time someone bumped us my shins would smash up against the front of the car. And we went on them over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. I was motion sick, tired, and cranky by the end of the day. But I didn't let on the cranky part.

TODAY I particpated in my first jumper schooling show. Here is the tale:

To start off, I have two things to say : 1) I'm glad I have no problem laughing at myself, and 2) Sometimes Sackett is too good for his own good!! He he. Yes, so I went to my first jumper show today. Sure, it was schooling show, but you've gotta realize that I know squat about jumper shows and that it was an incredibly confusing ordeal for me. Signing up for classes was a mess because I didn't know what things like the roman numerals "I" or "IV" meant, I had no idea that some of the classes were optimum time (and never found out what that time was!), and I accidently signed up for a jump off class, which I had not wanted to do (I switched classes). Figuring out and memorizing the courses was also a bit of a hassle.


So I entered into a 2'6" optimum time class and a 2'9" speed class (to avoid the jump off). My 2'6" class went super good and I ended up getting 4th place out of roughly 15 people. I was just tooling through it without really trying to go fast or hit the optimum time. (Because I didn't know the optimum time anyways) It was the 2'9" class that was interesting.


It started off with a verticle, four strides to another verticle, a sharp left turn to a square oxer, then another sharp left turn to a verticle. You were then supposed to do a SUPER sharp roll back turn to the right to a skinny verticle. The verticle with the roll back turn after was set very close to the arena fence and you only had about a stride and ahalf of space to get your turn in before the arena fence. I'd say the arena fence was about 4 feet.


So I'm going through the course, trying to get my speed on a bit. As I'm going over the verticle with the roll back I more or less "forgot my lines" and couldn't remember if I was supposed to turn left or right. I landed and Sackett went straight. During that stride I realized that I was supposed to turn right and so I began to open my right rein when I realized (oopsy) that Sackett had locked in on the arena fence!!! He was completely committed to that fence and was attempting to jump it the same time I was attempting to turn right. SO he did a stumbling leap over it, nocked it half way down, and stopped while straddling the fence. I actually didn't fall off, but I jumped off right away because I thought Sackett might freak out straddling that half demolished fence. But he didn't, he just stepped through it, pulling it down the rest of the way as he went. He wasn't in even the LEAST bit phased.


As soon as everyone found out we were ok it was pretty much a roar of laughter. The judge let me finish the course (my turn was VERY nice the second time) and it finished out ok even though we didn't place of course. I had several people tell me afterwards how "cool" or "awesome" it was to watch! Rocky told me that when I realized he was going for it the best thing to have done would have been to just gone with him, but I obviously wasn't thinking too fast at the time. *sigh* My first show and I'm already infamous for destroying property!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

*Gulp* Fall Schedule

Wow... I just sat down to figure out my fall schedule as close as I can for right now. I think I have it pretty much exact now and I've gotta tell ya... It's pretty crazy. I'm going to be working roughly 30 hours a week, taking a full college load, 2 jumping lessons on Sackett, I've planned out 2 lessons a week on one of Lindsay's lesson horses, and one lesson a week on Grady. (Love to take two on Grady - it would certainly be the ideal situation - but my finances are stretched as it is...) I also have my life scheduled out so that I will be riding both Grady and Isis five times a week. SO that's five rides per week on Isis, five riders per week on Grady, two rides per week on Sackett, and two rides per week on Lindsay's horse. I'll be going non-stop 24/7, but that's the way I like it. Although I'd prefer if school wasn't in the schedule! I should have my entire schedule verified and solidified by the middle of next week.

I had a lesson on Grady yesterday. It went quite well, and I was really happy because it was the first lesson with Lindsay where he's been really naughty. I know I've mentioned before that Grady will "pick a spot" to spook at and generally be difficult about. Well, yesterday he finally picked a spot. BUT the major difference was that Lindsay actually got us worked through it! It took alot of hard riding and guts... Grady was doing his leaping, plunging, bolting ****. I did lots of small spinning circles and lots of strong pushes from my seat while driving like a crazy person with my legs and whip. BUT let me tell ya, we worked him through it. By the end of the lesson Grady wasn't misbehaving anymore. He was also quite stiff and resistent. Rather than going forward in flowing happiness he was stiff and tight in his neck. Lindsay basically had me go till he gave. Basically we picked up a big canter, I held my hands wide, and I rode Grady forward, forward, FORWARD!! And he did indeed eventually give up and work correctly. So I was very happy with the lesson because Grady demonstated both of our major issues and we worked through both.

This morning I rode Grady before my jumping lesson. I took him out to the XC course and we trail rode for about 20 minutes. Then I took him out into an open area to do some work. Being out in the open like that Grady wasn't spooky, but he was doing the tense choppy gaits and stiff neck again. So I did the same thing that I did in my lesson, I rode him forward fast and hard, hands a little wide, and just kept going. It took a good 25 minutes to accomplish the job in my lesson, but today it only took about 10 minutes. The difference was amazing... We were going along, stiff and tense, and all of asudden Grady just relaxed through his neck and back and his body started to work with swing, rhythm, and relaxation. The difference in the ride was simply amazing and it was such a quick, drastic change. He literally just gave up. I cantered one large loop around the field in that nice canter before quitting.

I had my jumping lesson after, and that went really well also. We worked on jump combinations with different striding and turns. I'm getting much better at rating the speed between jumps and finding my distances. Rocky set up the jumps at 2'10" and 3 feet... And then didn't tell me until afterwards! I had no idea I was jumping 3 feet and I never really looked at the jumps and thought "that looks bigger." Rocky has been making the jumps bigger and wider so imperceptibly that I don't even notice. At the end I did a course that to me felt kind of sloppy, although not incorrect. Rocky said that it was actually really good because I had my timing right through the whole thing. She said to keep in mind that when you're doing a 12 jump course it's so fast that you don't have time to make each jump a perfect jump. She said that pretty much all stadium courses have a "messy" feel to them simply because you're moving so quick and simply can't be perfect over every fence. But she also said that even though it feels a little messy and awkard to the rider, it generally looks smooth to the audience. I'd never thought of that before, so I thought it was an interesting insight.

This afternoon I went to a tutor training session. *ahem* I was more or less told that I HAVE to pick up an extra shift as a supplemental instructor for an english class. That was the thing I definitely didn't want to do and I had to re-work my life to make it fit. I'm actually ok with it though, and I actually like my re-worked schedule better. Plus I get more hours. Anyways, so it all worked out. I also stopped and picked up a new whip at the tack store, I broke my old one yesterday while I was mounting Isis. It got caught on my shirt and snapped!!

This evening I rode Isis. It was a great ride. I've been thinking about how awesome Grady feels when he's working the way Lindsay wants him to, and I was thinking that I'd like it if Isis would feel that way. Isis and I have been at sort of a down point in our riding... It just hasn't felt that great lately. I felt like she wasn't reaching firmly to the bit and that her strides were short and lazy. For whatever reason, our dressage has just sucked lately. So I decided that I was going to duplicate Grady's feel in Isis. And boy was Isis PISSED. She had to go firmly on the bit and work alot harder than what she's had to lately. She threw her head in the air and put up a heck of a fight. I kept riding forward, driving and asking, driving and asking. Finally she gave in - and suddenly she too was solidly on the bit, very round in the back and powering forward. I most definitely had my mare back, and she was even better than ever before. Her lengthenings and medium gaits were phenominal and get this: Her first leg yield was perfect. I had been blown away by the fact that all my leg yields on Grady were great in my lesson... I had wondered what the difference was that made my infamously bad leg yield suddenly work like a charm... And I decided it must be this bigger, more forward, and more powerful horse. So whatta ya know, Isis's leg yields worked like a charm too. I can't even begin to describe how much I love Lindsay right now!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dressage Fest Pt. 2

Aaaah, I'm still very busy. I had an awesome jumping lesson monday and did my first 2'10" course that felt smooth and well ridden all the way through. Yay! Isis also has been doing well and Grady had Monday and Tuesday off. I have been going through the training for tutoring this week. There's a manual and lots of homework, so I've kind of been doing school before school. But that's ok, I'm enjoying it and it's getting me back into the mindset. I've been going to training sessions also, which is interesting. I worked through two chapters of the manual earlier today and have my homework done for those two chapters. I'm going to work on more tomorrow after the training session. I also got some hours added, which is nice but squeezes my schedule a bit. I think it will be ok though, and I'm pretty confident that my fall schedule will work out. I hope to finalize everything later this week.

Anyways, so to summarize the rest of the show... It was a great time. We went out to eat quite a bit (way more than I would normally) and everyone is super fun to be with. Lots of laughing and joking. Lindsay is young enough that she can join in and act the part of a college age person!

Sundays classes didn't go as well for anyone. Grady was tired and grumpy by then, and although I felt the tests went alright, we were with the low scoring judge so we didn't get that great of scores. Here's what I didn't understand though: For our first circle to the right someone started their car and started to move RIGHT next to the arena. Grady caught it out of the corner of his eye, spooked, bolted, did a rearing pirouette thing, and turned to the left. So not only was our circle bad, we also went off course. But we got it together right away and I felt that everything else went very well. I was expecting a 2 on that circle and decent scores on everything else. But instead I got a 5 on it (what the heck) but I also got fives on pretty much everything else... So I'm really not sure how one justifies a 5 on a terrible, off course circle but then gives fives for everything else too. *shrug* Oh well. Even though the scoring sucked I am super, super proud of Grady and extremely happy with my new barn and trainer.

I wish I had time to go into more detail but I'm working through more tutoring homework and am hoping to also clean my boots tonight SO I think I'd better leave it at that. There are lots of fun details that I could add such as funny jokes and Wim Foekema (fricking AWESOME Grand Prix rider) trying to trip me as I'm carrying a bucket of water... Hopefully next time I'll have more time to add those sort of details.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Otter Creek Dressage Fest

This past weekend I went for my first dressage show with my **NEW** barn. It was amazing!! I had so much fun and I really love the group. We left Friday around noon. That morning I went and clipped Grady and gave him a bath. I gotta tell ya, it is NICE to have a wash rack. My old barn didn't have one so I had to give baths in the yard and that wasn't very fun. So yes, I am enjoying the wash rack alot. I trailered Grady over to Pferde Farm and helped everyone over there finish up getting ready. Then we left... The show is in Wisconsin, about two hours away. The drive ended up being closer to three because we got stuck in stop and go traffic for 16 miles. So we got there (Otter Creek has built an awesome new barn by the way) and set up shop. We had 8 horses and three tack stalls. (It's GREAT to be in a group!!) We rode our horses that evening in the show rings. We went in groups and Lindsay rode alot of horses, but she coached Taylor and I. Taylor is another girl from the barn and she always has phenominal tests. Her horse is as steady as a rock AND a pretty mover. This year she's competing in Training level but will move on to 1st Level after the regional championships this year. (Which she so qualified for, and will probably win) That's good because next year I'll be showing Grady at Training Level again so that way she wont be beating me to the blue ribbons! She's awesome though, she's actually how I found out about Lindsay.

Our ride Friday night went very well and Grady was absolutely perfect. I can not believe the progress we've made in TWO WEEKS! Two weeks! After everyone rode they hung out in the barn, but I went back out to the arenas to watch Lindsay school her Grand Prix horse Rannoch. It was very interesting (we had some private conversation about dressage training) and I also hiked the XC course a bit while we were out there. Then we dropped in at the near by biker bar for supper and then went back to the barn to braid. I braided Grady and another horse as well since I'm pretty good at braiding. We didn't get to the hotel until after midnight and we pretty much crashed. I was in a room with Lindsay, Katelin (not sure how she spells her name), and Jen. We're all still younguns so we had quite a bit of girlish chattery talk going on.

We got up at 6 and chocked down the absolutely disgusting continental breakfast. My first ride was at 8:27 so I got on at about 8. There were so many people riding from the barn that Lindsay couldn't give individual attention or make sure all of us were coached all the time, but I was cool with that. Lindsay also rode three horses herself. Our first test (Training 1) was ok and we got 60%. The score was what I figured I'd get and I was happy because Grady didn't do anything majorly stupid. The judge was sitting in a white van and Grady hates white things so we got shaky when we'd go through the C end. But I was happy with the test over all.

Our second test (T4) was at 11:57 and it was by far one of the best tests I've ridden on ANY horse, not just Grady. He was solid through the whole test. However, we had a different judge and she was scoring EVERYbody low and we only got a 62.8% on it. I was bummed about the score but took comfort in the fact that pretty much everyone was getting very low scores. There was literally waves of discussion and grumbling up and down the barn isles about the judge. Her comments were quite negative as well. No matter what the score though I was very very happy with Grady. He absolutely trooped through the day and was just great.

Well, my break is almost over and I need to get back to work, so I'll have to finish the story of the show tomorrow because there's alot more to tell. But I took some pictures of one of Lindsay's Grand Prix tests so here they are. I don't have pictures of my rides yet because Taylor's mom was taking them and hasn't gotten them to me yet. Rannoch is not Lindsay's first FEI horse, but she's the first horse Lindsay has started as a 3 year old and trained all the way to Grand Prix.

Extended Trot (Lindsay was unhappy with her extended trot)
One tempi




Monday, August 18, 2008

Dumb Blog

I have lots of exciting things to talk about (lessons, shows, etc) but the blog keeps telling me it's having "internal errors" and can't upload pictures or anything. SO hopefully this blog will get published...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

*shakes head* UNBELIEVABLE

Alot of my August titles are things like "WOW" and "WOOHOO"... Well, I have good reason for it... That's how this month has been!!

I had another lesson today and it was phenominal. Grady got right down to business and wasn't naughty once. He was forward, powerful, obedient, and awesome. Lindsay is absolutely amazing...

There are two children here yelling, screaming, and wanting me to play with them. Did I mention that my 5 and 8 year old cousins are visiting? They're tons of fun, but I can't play with them ALL the time... I get exhausted.

Michael Phelps is still on a roll.... Yessssss... He is SO hot!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Wow... You know, it's really hard to describe what my life has been like for the last couple weeks. Really, really amazing. Aaargh, this is one of those times where I have all sorts of emotions, thoughts, and feelings bubbling up, but it's hard to put into words and nobody can quite understand anyways. Where to begin??

As a teenage horse person without alot of income (and with parents without alot of income!), the accomplishments I've made so far have been largely through my dedication to this "horse thing." I've already expressed my annoyance with the equestrian situation... The most successful riders are generally the ones with the most money. And as I've said before, it is and has always been my goal to break that rule and then figure out a way to help others break that rule.

I was so discouraged though... This past year I was in a really bad place, just go back to past posts to see what I mean. I didn't have any of the things I needed to succeed: a dedicated coach that actually invests in students and goes to competitions, upper level horses to learn on, connections (important!), and I wasn't getting the help I needed with Grady. I'm not a bad rider, I'm not a wimpy rider, but I just didn't know what to do with him.

This summer has been the most amazing summer though. I finally put my foot down and said "enough!" I finally decided that I was done in the current situation... I was frustrated, depressed, confused, and even a little angry.

But now... I can't even describe how wonderful this last month has been. I feel like my riding career is finally falling into place, it's finally here!!! So far Lindsay has been wonderful and in a few weeks time Grady is better than I'd hoped he'd be over several months! Not only is that exciting in itself, but I feel like I've finally got a real coach. Someone who is invested in her students, someone who competes and brings her students to shows, someone who is invested and interested in her student's progress, someone who has connections, someone who demands commitment from her students. I HAVE A REAL COACH!!! Before my first lesson she told me that if I'm going to be her student that I have to give it my all... This is it... It's what it's about. That's what I want demanded of me. That's the kind of pressure I want... It's how it should be. And she demands dedication... She wont give one lesson a week, if you're her student you have to study with her... You have to be IN dressage. It's what I've always wanted, and it's what I've finally got. Plus I will also be riding a lesson horse... I'm going to start on a horse that is schooling 3rd Level and is solidly showing 2nd. Lindsay wants me to get my solid 2nd Level back before I ride a horse that's more advanced. It's hard to describe how this feels - I am on my way!!!!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

WOW!! (Phelps)

Bad news, Becky Holder's first Olympics ended with refusals on the XC course. It's too bad, but her international career is just starting. Now... Moving on to the topic of the guy I've had a celebrity crush on for about 5 years... Michael Phelps! WOW!!!!! Was that relay last night awesome or what?? I was screaming like a lunatic and it took a good ten minutes for my adrenaline to level out. Wooohoo!!!!

I took Grady for his first solo trail ride ever yesterday. He was pretty good, we had one odd moment of naughtiness where he started to do that signature spin and rear, but I pulled him around and smacked him with the whip and he got over pretty fast. (Probably remembered what happened yesterday in the lesson!!) He was also scared of a pile of old round bales, but I didn't give him much trouble about that because they did look pretty scary. I just let him go around them snorting and blowing and acting like a dink, alot of horses would.
I rode Isis last evening as well and she was PERfect. It was like the flawless ride, and we got a great off-the-right-leg-legyield on our third try, which is the quickest I've ever gotten one. The bug population is going down so I took her for a trail ride after that leg yield. It was very awesome.
Wow..... I have so much that I want to say but don't have time to say right now. I just need to express all that's going on in my life right now... It's simply amazing. Hopefully tomorrow I'll find time, it's hard because my 8 and 5 year old 2nd cousins are visiting and it's ALL about playing with Kristie when they come to visit!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Weeell, I had my first lesson with Lindsay today.... It - was - AWESOME. My lesson was at 10 so I left around 8:15, driving our rig all the way to Birchbury. I kind of like driving the rig, dunno why. Anyways, so I got there about 9. It takes a solid 20 minutes to get a horse if they're near the back of the pasture (which they were), so you have to allow for that time. I groomed Grady at Birchbury and then loaded him up. He loads just wonderfully now. Basically I point him at the trailer and he walks right in.

Pferde Farm is about a half mile down and off the road Birchbury is on. I had never been there before (I forgot to go the other day to find it) and I was a little worried that I wasn't finding it. There were lots of houses and drive ways and trees... I could barley see the barn from the road, so I'm glad I found it without having to turn around. It was such a quiet residential street!! Pferde Farm is deffinetly a small barn in a small area, but very, very nice. There are lots of paddocks and the barn is absolutely beautiful. It has about 20 stalls plus a wash rack and tack room. Beautiful stalls and the walls were wood paneled. The farm doesn't have an outdoor arena (Lindsay wishes they did!) and I'm not sure where they'd put one... But the indoor is absolutely beautiful. They had both end doors open and the whole place was flooded with natural light so it kind of felt like riding in a covered outdoor.

The lesson started out with discussing Grady's behavior issues. Then she had us walk for maybe ten minutes while she observed Grady. Then we started to work... And when I say work, I mean it!! We started out trotting on a 20 meter circle and we talked about his neck and where it should be, as well as what to do when he gets distracted and looks to the outside. Grady was tense through his neck and through the lesson she had me ride him much deeper than I normally would. She said that at this point we're more concerned about his attitude than we are about absolute correctness, and that she prefers to ride naughty horses a little deeper. She also said that when he's naughty, it's my job to "cowboy through it even if you have to go ****ape on him. There's nothin' classical about it!!" She also pointed out that he's tense, backed off, and lazy - all things that I've known about, but haven't known not how to fix. His attitude makes those issues hard to fix, but he HAS those issues because of his attitude!! So we worked on getting him forward... And did he ever get forward!! I didn't know Grady was even capable of being that big and powerful. I have never ridden Grady where he felt that amazing. We intermixed trotting and cantering the full arena, transitions on a 20 meter circle, and trotting over ground poles. The lesson was 45 minutes and I'd say we got maybe two 30 second walk breaks. Grady was absolutely drenched; he had sweat running down his legs. BUT HE HAS NEVER, EVER, EVER FELT THAT AMAZING BEFORE!!! He had one moment of naughtiness where he started to run backwards and rear up, but I did what Lindsay said and spun him into a little circle and kicked and smacked with my whip until he went forward again. He never did it again.

I am so pumped I can't even begin to describe how awesome that lesson was. For the first time it felt like Grady was WORKING and working happily. THANK YOU LINDSAY!!!!