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...


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!