While I was gone for Christmas, a most fun package arrived in the midwest. And what’s more fun than coming home post-holidays to more presents, right? Yes, my Equestrian Blogger Secret Santa gift arrived courtesy Emma and Charlie!
I immediately know it was going to be good because the card featured one of Emma’s famous jumper silhouettes. Upon closer examination, I realized it’s Doc and I over a XC jump in one of my favorite photos! (#datSaddlebredtail gives it away every time) I mean, personalized card?! Amaze.
Then to open up gifts and find the most perfect zipper case from Amanda at Bel Joeor in grey and blue, complete with galloping horse and rider (um, it also totally reminds me of said-favorite galloping XC photo which is amazing). I freaking love keeping things in pouches and containers so this was perfect. It’s already become storage for hairnets and hairties in my backpack because I had a habit of tossing them into the same compartment as gloves and destroying them with velcro. Immediate life improvement.
This totally would have been gift enough, but inside the bag Emma included two gorgeous little pouches (more CONTAINERS YAY) with unicorn socks (totally becoming my new XC socks) and a hand warmer (how u know me so well thx), plus peppermints for Doc (he says thank you, need moar, ate all).
All in all, an amazing and perfect Secret Santa gift and thank you as always to Tracy for hosting!
We’ve already established my love of 2018, but in an attempt to end things on a positive-ish note here, I figured I’d steal Amanda’s idea and talk about some favorites – with photos!
Favorite show photo
I mean, this one should speak for itself, but I’ve never seen another photo perfectly capture the absolute joy I find in riding. Having that moment of absolute pure happiness en route to finish our first BN HT is a priceless moment I will treasure forever.
Favorite non-show photo
Captured by a barn friend on a quiet fall afternoon, I love this moment she caught. This horse has been the bright spot in a dark year and while the competitions were amazing, some of the moments I’ve needed most this year were these – quiet hacks just between us.
Favorite thing you bought
My beautiful custom boots with navy metallic snakeskin accents… that didn’t fit. Yeah, I’m a little bitter. Know anyone who is an 8-8.5 wide calf who wants a killer deal on gorgeous boots? Then they too can have the best purchase of 2018…
So instead I’ll pick my Majyk Equipe half pad I still haven’t reviewed okay I’m sorry I know. It’s been awesome, still looks like the day I bought it and got Doc’s stamp of approval – no easy feat.
Favorite moment on horseback
So this was actually captured about six strides after the very first photo here and they’re both probably my favorite moment, but.. whatever. Coming through the water, over that jump and crossing the finish line at that first BN is a feeling I won’t forget for a long, long time… and is probably a Top 5 Life Moment for me.
Favorite moment out of the saddle
Is this absurd? Yes. Do I love it so much? Yes. Sharing a bag of Goldfish with my favorite red horse at event camp, surrounded by great people and having a great time – it’s a good memory to reflect on.
Favorite “between the ears” photo
This doesn’t look like anything special – boring arena, boring tack, not even an interesting saddle pad. What’s not pictured is that this was my first ride back after being cleared to ride following my back fracture. While I may still be dealing with lingering issues, not having to get rads every 4 weeks and being limited to doing nothing is much appreciated. Nothing like a bad injury to make you appreciate your health and well being.
Favorite horse ridden/groomed/cared for other than your own
I have a total soft spot for Doc’s neighbor in the barn, Neil. Neil’s a retired hunter who enjoys taking my things and hiding them in his stall, mugging for cookies and being generally adorable. He’s one of my favorite horses (& his mom is one of my favorites too!) and he and Doc miiiighhhttt have a brotherly war over cookies going.
Favorite funny picture of your horse
This isn’t funny of my horse per say… more like ‘why am I publicly sharing this’ – oh wait, because I’m shameless. Yes, that is me chasing my horse down who decided to exit stage left while setting poles. And yes, my friend videoed me chasing him rather than you know, help me.
Favorite fence that you successfully jumped or movement that you conquered
This jump was at event camp, during a SJ lesson where everything just… came together. Perfectly. (Well, as perfectly as anything does with horses). To have less than two weeks back on a horse, one jumping lesson (over crossrails) and to show up at camp and jump around this two days later? Yeah, definitely a favorite. (Also, I’m conceited and I think we look athletic and like real jumpers)
Since I’m still having fun writing about all horses of my past and present, TAAHH’s blog hop seems the perfect place to introduce Coorina.
If you ever read the old blog, you may have read the story of my riding accident. Probably will share that one again one of these days, but the short of it is I was 9 years old, trying a horse to buy and he bolted through a fence – and I went through a fence post. It was a relatively gruesome injury and I lost absolutely any trust and confidence I had in horses.
That’s when Coorina came along. She was a APHA mare owned by my aunt and uncle who had purchased her as a yearling in Iowa. They showed her all the way through the levels, including a Reserve World Championship in Western Pleasure by the time she was a 5 year old. When it became apparent I needed something that’s main interest in life was sleeping and eating, they knew she would be the perfect match. To this day, she is the laziest horse I have ever known in my lifetime.
She came home to live with us and took me from lunge line lessons, to walk-trot, showing at schooling shows where I would only go in the arena if my mom or trainer could come in with me, all the way through showing at the World Show level.
Looking back, I realize she was also probably one of the nicest horses I’ll ever ride. Mare could move, but she was also built practically perfect and that face – I can’t tell you how many times we were asked if she had Arabian in her. We won a bazillion (accurate number right there) halter classes, including some really awesome satin that any kid would have loved despite having to do nothing but stand there and look pretty (her favorite).
This is not to say she was perfect – she hated going hunt seat (probably because she was all of 15.1) and she was a mare. When I first started riding her as a terrified kid, she wouldn’t put a foot out of line, but as I started getting more confident or if others rode her, she was not afraid to express her opinions. Opinions about everything. Didn’t want to trot in showmanship that day? Didn’t do it. Learned how to grab the shank of her curb bit so she didn’t have to listen to me. Refused to do more than one lead change approximately every 20 minutes without turning into a witch. When Lucy came home, she made it very clear that she was in charge and Lucy better not try her. She was essentially a Real Housewife, if we’re being honest.
But, she also let me shimmy up the side when my trainer insisted I had to learn to mount without a mounting block (seriously, did you see how short my legs were? I was like a monkey gymnast). She’d also go on essentially no rein at all, draped to the ground.
In another story that’s too long for this post, she also had a Peter Stone model made of her, which landed us an article in Young Rider (anyone remember that magazine?!) Every once in awhile I see a Coorina model on eBay or Facebook and it never ceases to make me smile that my beautiful mare had an actual model horse made of her – talk about every kid’s dream.
When I started to get ready to move up to the 14-18 divisions and look for another horse (what would be Lucy), Coorina went back to my aunt and uncle to have babies. Her first was a filly by Real Bonanza, Sadie.
In typical Coorina fashion, one of the first days they were turned out, they went to bring her in for dinner and Coorina came loping up to the fence (the only time this mare willingly moved at a speed faster than sloths was when food was involved), stopped about halfway to the fence and realized… she had completely forgotten little Sadie. Because in dinner vs baby, those maternal instincts were having a real fight for first.
After Sadie was weaned, Coorina actually came back to us and became my mom’s amateur horse for a few years, where they were ridiculously successful because my mother can ride circles around me without trying. It’s fine, she likes chasing cows now and I like pretending to event, we’re all good.
Coorina’s second baby was Sonny, a gelding by Mark This Spot. For a mare who was a prissy western pleasure princess (she is literally known as The Original Princess Pony), both of her babies ended up being badass cowhorses.
Even once retired, Coorina was the mare I would hop on bareback in a halter and lope around like we were in the world show pen – she was that fancy. We lost her November of 2014 to some type of cardiac event. I was in my first semester of graduate school and it completely devastated me. I remember just laying on the floor of my apartment, unable to pull myself together. This was the mare who gave horses back to me. I have no doubt in my mind I would not have stayed with riding after my accident if it wasn’t for her.
Answering some fun fall-themed questions courtesy of Liz!
Most equestrians quote fall as their favorite season to ride. Are you one of those that does? Or maybe not; what is your favorite season to ride, if so?
I like fall, don’t get me wrong… but I love spring. All things spring. Well, okay, not my allergies, but basically everything else. Fall is lovely, but it comes with this little pit at the bottom of my stomach that warns me it’s going to get dark and cold and I need to get into survival mode. Winter: surviving, not thriving.
As a kid/perpetual student, I loved the feeling that summer was almost here and classes were coming to an end. I love knowing days are getting longer and lighter and it’s warming up and I just want to be outside ALL.THE.TIME. A big reason I didn’t study abroad in college was because I refused to miss a fall football season (uhhh should have totally missed 2012), but I also refused to miss a spring semester because it’s my favorite. For riding, it gives me a burst of motivation – show season is coming, I can ride after work (in the light!), water buckets don’t have to be broken, blankets get to be put away… lots of good things.
Do you clip your horse in the fall? Or maybe you wait a little longer?
So breed show people are weird and put their horses under lights instead of clip. I have no reasoning, so don’t ask. But it meant we never body clipped, just turned on the lights starting in August and blanketed the hell out of everything. Or in years we were done showing in August/September, we didn’t do anything. Lucy never grew enough of a coat (still doesn’t) that she’d be too sweaty. This year, I think Doc will need some type of clip, but I will be leaving that to trainer’s capable hands. I want to vote for a fancy hip mark of some sort though, just saying.
Have any costume riding events in October on/near/around Halloween? What will your horse be dressed as? What about yourself? What would you dress as if money/time were absolutely no issue?
Nope. I actually hate Halloween. I only like it for Reese’s pumpkins, which are the 2nd best shape of Reese’s (Easter eggs, pumpkins, Christmas trees). Costumes are annoying and you’re hot or you’re cold or you’re uncomfortable. I am the grinch of Halloween.
I do love Dia de los Muertos though and think it’s one of the most gorgeous holidays ever. The traditions are beautiful, the colors and artwork are insane and I was lucky enough to have a school growing up that celebrated it and made sure we understood it. (So New Mexican, right?) Seriously though – check these out and tell me it’s not unbelievable.
Is your horse afraid of any autumn colors? Or maybe has a certain quirk that appears only in the autumn?
Not afraid of anything, but definitely not fond of rain in his ears (I mean, me neither dude). It’s my first autumn with Doc, so I guess we’ll see about quirks. Lucy doesn’t particularly have any, minus her inability to grow a real winter coat. She’s also like, the most boring ever though. I love her dearly, but nobody would ever say she is full of personality. My first mare used to colic the beginning of August every year like clockwork though – barometric pressures!
Pumpkin spice. It’s everywhere right now. Find any natural pumpkin [squash] spice-esque recipes for your horse?
Nah, although I’m sure Doc would eat anything I come up with. Hmm.. maybe we’ll experiment.
We’re getting to the end of the calendar year, any final few “big-bang” shows to look forward to?
We just did our first CT at starter and then depending on weather (…and my bank account), might get to show once more at the beginning of November. Otherwise, we’re done until spring!
Winter is coming. What are you doing to winterize your trailer/rig/car?
Wait, that’s not an appropriate answer?
I’ll try again…
Do you have any autumn traditions you/your horse follow?
Consume my body weight in Honeycrisp apples? Watch College Gameday every Saturday and yell at the television like the Auburn sideline can hear me? Consume a million and four Reese’s Pumpkins? Burn the Nest Pumpkin Chai candle 24/7 (and before you say a word about spending that on a candle – it’s worth every penny). I love pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin bread… yum. I’m also basic AF and love pumpkin spice chai and lattes and I’m not ashamed at all. I also still wear Uggs from 2006 though, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
October in many places marks the beginning of deer hunting season. Does this affect your riding at all? Do you wear blaze orange or modify your schedule to accommodate the season?
Not here, but in NC it did. We stayed in the arena more or less during that time. Even wearing blaze orange still left me a little freaked out to venture out and we still had on property small fields to ride in.
What are you most looking forward to goal-wise as the final months of the calendar year approach?
Learning how to steer? No, in all honesty, continuing to improve our dressage work as we get confined to the indoor, riding to the base of the jumps instead of taking all the flyers so I can stop sending my trainer into an early death, keeping my collarbone UP and getting stronger (leg, core, cardiac). I’m hoping having some distinct goals to work on this winter will help me survive and we can come out stronger on the other side and be ready to go compete next spring!
I love to daydream. Also, regular dream because it means I’m asleep and I love to sleep. I also have incredibly insane, but also realistic dreams so I often wakeup unsure if something happened in real life or dream life. (Examples include, but not limited to: group of friends going on spring break together… to Costco, finding 150 wooden hangers, discovering a brand new fancy washer and dryer in my condo)
So when Olivia started posting about dream horse, it was like, oh, I’ve totally got this, because uh, that’s basically a repetitive dream that got me through grad school classes (mainly statistics HI MOM LOOK I GOT THE DEGREE IT’S TOTALLY FINE). It’s also more fun than the dream where I forgot to turn an assignment in senior year of high school and the Head of Upper School is scolding me and I graduated SEVEN YEARS AGO CAN THIS STOP PLEASE.
The problem when you ask me to design one dream horse is that I do not have one dream horse. I have lots of them*. I have many things I would like to do. But apparently this limits me to one singular horse, so ugh, fine.
So this dream horse is definitely a mare. Yeah, I know. But I love mares. Can’t help it. Always have, always will. They just understand me. Geldings are far too patient, far too easygoing for my psychotic self or something. Mares are like, “yeah, me too girl, let’s be crazy together.”
She’s dark bay with lots of chrome. I only want to have to obsessively clean like, 40% of my horse. But no blue eyes. Nope. Not acceptable. Flashy legs make my heart go pitter patter.
Athletic enough to go play eventer (let’s dream big like someday I’ll go training or something), sane enough to go bop around bareback. Pretty mover, great conformation, magical at dressage but brave enough cross country. Good feet. Likes being oogled and primped and color-coordinated within an inch of life. Totally a show off. Like, this mare is definitely in contention for a Bravo show.
Not so giant she makes me look like a mosquito. Big enough that jumps don’t look like actual houses. Wears a freaking medium NORMAL tree saddle. Loads nicely, stands nicely, not prone to doing stupid things like running away, rearing, bucking or kicking.
It would also be great if she would learn my courses for me, pay for herself and never lose a shoe.