Sorry y’all – chaos, once again, has descended upon us, but here’s a brief recap. Professional photos to follow! (I hope!)
Thursday was coloured horses day, but our class was only at 13:50, so first we exercised all the horsies and hung out. Renè in particular was not a fan of the whole stable thing, but she was angelic to ride.
Arwen’s leg hadn’t blown up at all in the night. I put her on the lunge line (in the parking lot, for fear of destroying somebody’s fancy horse in an arena) and she went ballistic for 20 minutes. After that the leg was dead normal and Arwen was greatly satisfied.
Midas and Renè schooled together, so obviously Midas was angelic. He didn’t bat an eye at anything and even jumped some reasonably sized fences – 60-70cm – in the abandoned warmup arena.
I also rode Tara one last time. She and Zara went back to their owner after the show, but we had a really excellent ride. I did lunge first, but she really didn’t fuss at all.
The class itself was really wet, which was a pity because Rain and I put a lot of effort into the turnout. Zara was a little up but not bad at all, and both girls behaved well in the bucketing rain but didn’t really place anywhere.
Then we all went back to our overnight place (thank you overnight place people! You know who you are!) and fell in a heap. More on the Nooitie day and supremes later, because I am about to do the same.
Today was the general breed ridden day, and it started with no rain and also almost no traffic. Unfortunately, from there it took a spectacular nose-dive when we pulled Arwen out of the stable to discover that her near hind fetlock had blown up like a balloon in the night.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I can count the number of injuries this horse has had in the past eight years on one hand, and still have fingers left over. I found a few superficial scrapes on it, but it wasn’t tender like a typical bruise and she was one hundred percent sound. I can only think she must have knocked it in the night and it filled more than would be normal for a mild knock because she was stabled. Either way, sound or not, it wasn’t going into a showing class. So with a very heavy heart I scratched her from the working riding.
I really thought we had a chance to place well, so it was a huge bummer and really got me down for a bit. But in retrospect, I can only think that God seriously did NOT want me riding that class. And it’s not for me to know why, so – even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight.
We spent the morning exercising all the frustrated horses, who weren’t appreciating being stabled. We were without any grooms, so it was Rain and I for it, so she hand walked Renè while I rode the sound-but-puffy Arwen. She was feeling absolutely fantastic. Rather dragonish and leaping about madly at first, but when I realised she was sound and started to school her, she threw herself into her work with that amazing enthusiasm only she has.
We pulled Midas out and schooled him for a bit, too. He was as usual very very noisy away from his buddies,
but also very obedient, and stunning in his nice moments.
When I looked again, it was time to frantically bath and prepare for the flat classes. We iced Arwen’s leg every hour and kept her walking, and the swelling came right down. The more she worked, the better it looked. By class time, it was practically gone – and she was raring to go. I left poor Rain to frantically plait and tack up Midas while Arwen and I went for a nice long warmup.
Again, she started out electric and very hot, but focused. I’ve begun to realise that the tension and bounciness I feel at shows is generally not anxiety of any form from her. It’s excitement. This horse loves to work, and she loves to compete even more. She fairly dances with anticipation of doing what she loves. She’s never more obedient than when she feels excited, and her gaits become suddenly expressive. I just have to relax and roll with it, then she feels amazing. I finally figured this out as we were warming up and from then on she was wonderful.
We hurried back to the stables to wipe her sandy legs, slap on some polish, and quarter mark a cross on her bum. Putting that simple shape on her shining haunches put the whole world into perspective for me, and when we walked into the ring I was beaming with spontaneous joy.
Arwen enjoyed the class greatly and was an absolute pleasure to ride. She was responsive, forward and obedient, slept happily in the lineup and did her individual test beautifully. We had only one wobbly moment when I asked for trot-canter in our individual and from a medium trot she gave me extended instead, but we got the transition and the lead in the end. I guess we’ve been schooling a lot of walk-canter for Elementary this year. Oops.
Apart from that, I could not have asked for better. We returned her to the stable quiet, content, and glowing. She looked so pleased with what she achieved. We finished just outside the placings; when the judge lined us up we were standing in fifth, in a terrific strong class.
Midas was pretty much the same in his class as he’d been to school. Obedient and with nice moments, but he never shut up or stood still for a second. We were placed right at the bottom, but I was happy with how safe he felt. Tense sure, but he didn’t get strong, just really fidgety. There were some very loudly snapping flags beside the arena too, and he didn’t turn a hair. Good little chap.
That concludes the general breed. Tomorrow it’s coloured with the pintos, and after that, Nooities. Glory to the King.
As is obligatory for prep day before an important show, Monday dawned icy and bucketing with rain. We sat in traffic for hours, but we made it there safely and in time – head groom T, the two pintos, their owner and I.
As it continued to pour outside, we got the plaits done with moments to spare. The rain, if cold and inconvenient, was beautiful – the thirsty earth seemed to suck it right in, ready to produce its bounty. Less poetically, Tara had mud all up her legs when we headed for the ring.
This did not appear to hinder her too much. She behaved absolutely impeccably, not turning a hair at anything and even standing quietly for inspection. Not bad for a baby at a first outing in icy rain. She came second to Zara handled by T, who was a little skittish but quite sane and obedient.
Zara went on to win Supreme Sport Horse of the Year in hand, which was fantastic and definitely a good start to both her and T’s showing career.
Today was even colder and wetter. We had to be in the ring at 8:00 for the first of our general breed classes, so to beat the traffic we were out catching horses at 4:00. In the pitch dark. And the pouring rain. Needless to say, they were less than cooperative. Renè refused to be caught for the first time in her existence and Exavior reared four times and slipped his halter. One way or another, they all managed to box quite well albeit naked but for poll guards, so off we went. I was wondering what had possessed me to think this would ever be a good idea, but then again, it wasn’t my idea. It was God’s, and He’s got it all figured out.
The traffic was still not on our side, so plaiting was a rushed affair on a plunging dumb warmblood (not my finest hour – after getting leapt on top of and trampled, I swore at him. Loudly. Not cool, Christian girl) but we got it done and headed for the show ring.
I don’t have a middle-of-the-road when it comes to Exavior. Either I think he’s the best and most beautiful horse in the world, or I want to kill him with my bare hands. Plaiting involved much of the former, but he proceeded to be angelic for his actual class. A bit bolshy and fidgety, of course, but no rearing or stupidness. To my pleasant surprise, he placed fifth, beating a more mature horse and a nice youngster.
Midas’s first in hand class was straight thereafter and he seemed to be bent on exploding my eardrums. He really wasn’t bad, but hadn’t had time to settle and wanted his buddies so he whinnied the whole time. He did trot up and stand OK, so that was good. He ended up unplaced, but his competition was strong and much older and didn’t attempt to burst people’s eardrums.
Next there was much frantic plaiting as K prepped Renè and with my li’l sister Rain and T doing the plaiting and me doing the parting and stitching, we managed to get the pintos and Arwen all ready. All four of us were showing in the same class, hence I had roped Rain in to show Arwen.
Arwen was a little overexcited, but the two of them looked incredible and performed at their best for seventh of fourteen in (in the judge’s words) a strong class. I was extremely chuffed, given that Arwen had kicked some very nice butts.
K’s superpower is plaiting; she managed to cram Renè’s torrent of mane into the most beautiful little buttons. Renè’s muscle tone isn’t quite there yet, so they didn’t place, but she behaved beautifully.
Tara also didn’t get a place, but she was once again bombproof and obedient as they come. Some lucky ammy is going to have the best time ever on this pretty mare.
Zara and T placed 9th, a very respectable position for Zara’s age, and she was very quiet too. Although I was chuffed that Arwen had done so well, it did mean that Rain beat all three of us – so now we owe her chocolate. And now she must show my brats in hand for me because obviously the judges like tall leggy blondes. (Who doesn’t?)
We settled our junior groom in, undid the manes, and kissed the ponies good night before going to crash at our overnight spot.
It had been such a challenging morning and I’d been tired, frustrated, despondent and disappointed but walking into that mares’ class with four horses was just a brilliant feeling. Financially we should never have been able to do it; we have limited facilities; we don’t buy super fancy horses; I’m not an experienced or particularly talented coach or rider. Yet two years ago I was sitting in the grandstands and the yard was nothing but a wild hope. One year ago we only had three horses that could show at all. And this year we walked into a class with four beautiful horses that I was honoured to present in that important class.
It sure wasn’t me that got us this far, and I don’t have to worry about getting us further, because it’s always all been God’s doing.
Yesterday I didn’t even realise what day it was until I discovered that, despite being as single as they come, I have a Valentine.
He is all of seven years old, but he brought me chocolate. Thus, he wins.
On a more serious note, I was back at Winstead facing my demons. I really love being there, but I’ll be honest – I stood on the mounting block just staring at my steed for the day with a feeling of absolute helplessness for a few seconds. But I laid it down, and God came through for me. With the help of the wonderful Monty who is like a smaller version of Al who likes close spots (like me). We had a fantastic lesson and jumped all the things with only one panicky recitation of Psalm 23.
And just as I thought I was getting used to riding big horses, coach K put me on a creature that dwarfed the mere 16.2hh beasts I had been riding. Royale is the most incredible fancy comfy upper-level jumper thing, and I had a blast, but wow. He is big.
I also got to ride Kardinal again and he got to show me how to do good canter-walk transitions approximately four million times, poor chap.
The day ended after some lovely lessons with an absolutely splendid sky to take our breath away.
Today did not start off on as good a note when poor old Mutterer and head groom T ran out of fuel on the way here. We fed really late, but on the plus side I got a pretty picture of a view that I’ve seen so many times and never been able to photograph because I’m always driving.
Once I finally got to start the riding, Arwen gave me the opportunity to unwind a bit by taking me for a stunning hack across the fields. She dragoned a bit and got quite hot and bouncy, but didn’t buck or go nuts.
Destiny went beautifully today. He is firmly under saddle now and hasn’t been at all naughty, although he felt resistant today when I pushed for a more active walk. He gave me a happy little trot, though.
Tara also schooled well; so chilled and rhythmic, but her turn right button occasionally seems to glitch. She’s not naughty, just keeps merrily going straight while you would really rather turn right. We had improvement by the end.
I schooled Jamaica over a 75cm vertical, the biggest I’ve jumped him, with a ground line set the height of the fence away from the base. Neither Maica nor I are any good at seeing a distance and this exercise really helped. He also seemed impressed by the fence and didn’t take a single pole.
I rode the same exercise on Starlight, just rather smaller. She has improved hugely under her mom’s schooling and has such a powerful little jump.
Faithy and I went walkies, to her delight. Faithy adores walkies and pulls all the way out and all the way back. She’s spooky but super curious, and in her world, separation anxiety ain’t no thing.
Midas, Sunè and Lancelot all had flatwork this afternoon and all did great. Midey feels so ready for HOY I can taste it. Sunè’s left turn doesn’t always happen gracefully in canter, but at least she’s got leads and connection now. And Lancey learns slowly (not for lack of intelligence, but for lack of attention), but he grasped lengthening his canter beautifully today.
Long day = short post, but at least it’s an exciting one.
First, a brief (overdue!!) Nugget update. In short, Snuggles (yes, that is my nickname for literally the only horse on this place you can’t snuggle) is doing really much better. We had a lot of breakthroughs this month, resulting in a still-nervous, still-grumpy pony that I can now attach a lead to and groom. It feels soooo good to finally get a currycomb on that golden coat. And to know that, should she be sick or hurt, I can help her at last.
However. The simple fact remains that Nugget is not going to be a sale pony, not from where we’re standing now, anyway. Can I help her to be rideable eventually? Yes. Could a child ride her someday? I think so. But would she be 100% safe and happy in a competitive home? I don’t believe so. Her scars just run so deep, right now I don’t think it would be fair to expect it of her.
All is not lost, however. I’m going to keep working with her and if God wills it, she’ll become a broodmare. She accepts new things readily and I believe genetically the temperament is there. She’s pretty and mostly correct and moves very well. If we can get her completely comfortable about people on the ground, it should be a win-win. God willing.
Anyway, that did leave us without a sale pony to follow up on Midas once he goes, so God (with typical impeccable timing) found us a new one. Everybody, meet Morning Star Trooper.
He is about three years old, measures 144cm (just over 14hh) and is of dubious breeding. He is also an almost supernatural level of adorable. I named him for his temperament, which can be entirely summarised in one sentence: he’s just such a trooper.
Troopy has been through a lot in his little life; his previous owners pulled him out of a horrific situation, half dead with septicaemia in all four his legs and sheath. They didn’t think he’d make it, and none of the other horses from the same place did, but he carried on. He has that endless patience of a horse that’s just happy to be alive and safe, and God’s got a plan with him.
The other two new horses aren’t really new. They originally came to me in April from a little yard that has since closed; half wild, covered in bots and rain scald, and with their faces raw from their ill-fitting headcollars. We patched them up and they stayed here until moving to a bigger yard in September. I thought I’d never see them again, but apparently God had other ideas.
The horses have since been sold on and their new owners decided to send them to me for backing before going to their own farm to be ridden by their exceedingly likeable teenage daughter. I think there’s a happy ending in store for the two guys.
They are lifelong buddies from the same stud; Blizzard is a blanket Appaloosa who greyed out and is now a white Appaloosa with black spots on his bum, and Eagle is half Arab, half Appaloosa and apparently 100% Black Beauty.
All three the boys are varying degrees of halter trained, so I’ve got some backing to do. No complaining here. Glory to the King.
To the great disappointment of kids and grownups alike, the SANESA qualifier was postponed due to the arenas being too wet (no comment…). God has a plan with that, but that’s why my updates are everyday today.
Friday was a mad rush to get everything exercised and packed, but it did mean some fun hacking. Sunè impressed me by leading a hack with a kid in a super composed and happy manner,
and Arwen and working student K babysat Lancelot so well that he had a much better hack this time and didn’t spook at all, though he was obviously tense at first.
Speaking of K, she did the honours of being the first person who isn’t me to ride Tara. Tara performed admirably, giving K three steady gaits in the big arena without a drop of trouble.
There was much fooling around in lessons, and Thunder got back into the program with beginners and did great. We don’t have as many adults without their own horsies now, so he’s been a bit underworked.
Today started off on a cool note when I went to pick up head groom T and almost ran over an eland. For those who aren’t familiar with eland, they’re basically giant majestic jump goats. For real – the biggest antelope on the planet, they can clear 2.00m, and have a bascule that no giant goat should be able to have.
Today was Exavior’s lunging day. Teeth being done, he’s back in the bridle and doing fine. The Mutterer rode him twice last week and he did rear and go nuts at first, but improved considerably in the end.
Lancelot was jumping today; just a single 60cm vertical from a canter, over and over and over again. The poor chap just keeps coming in at a dodgy distance. He does understand that his job to arrive at the fence, go over the fence, and then continue without changing speed, which is good. It just isn’t always graceful (and the pole doesn’t always stay up).
A storm rolled in around lunchtime, which cut short my Magic time (awww) and watered the earth and gave us a much-needed respite from the heat (yaaay).
It cleared in time for me to ride Liana. Ana has been rather cheeky to her kid lately. Nothing nasty, but running out at fences often. She needs a few weeks under me and then she should be shipshape again. Kid ponies very quickly realise that being nice to their kid means that mean old me doesn’t get on them and make them do hard things.
I super enjoyed riding her again. I haven’t sat on her since July and I’d forgotten how much fun she is.
Even in tough and tiring times, there’s so much love at God’s own stableyard. Glory to the King.
This week was looking hectic, but doable. Sure, we were minus head groom T for the week, but we had our junior groom. Sure, we had seven horses to prepare for SANESA, but we at least had two boxes to take them in.
And then both junior groom and extra box promptly broke down.
The week immediately began to look completely un-doable, so, utterly overwhelmed, I laid it down to God. He promptly fixed our groom situation (enter yard rat K and her mom), and as a bonus made our horses go really well today. Even Sunè and Liana, who were struggling somewhat prior to this.
Amidst all this, I sat on Destiny. He was super. I am relieved. His thrilled owner diligently documented the occasion, which was very cool. I seldom have media of training horses being started so it was great to see.
Poor Arwen has been a little neglected, but we did jump a course of 80-85cm without dying, so that was awesome. She is a bit chicken of getting a bad distance at that height and throws in a stop rather than fluffing the jump (like a safe little xc pony) but was convinced otherwise.
Magic has been happily fooling around. We free jump most weeks now, because even if I don’t really want to ride him over anything bigger than 50cm right now, I still like looking at that fabulous jump of his.
As mentioned, Sunè hadn’t been going too great. I felt pressurised by the upcoming show and didn’t take as much time on the simple trot changes as I should have, whereupon she got defensive, sticky and argumentative. She’s utterly nonviolent, but can be stubborn. We worked through it, though, and I’m looking forward to a first show on this fun little mare.
Jamaica is jumping full courses at 60cm now. He rides like a dull schoolie sometimes – really quiet over fences, but quite uneducated about where to jump and lazy with his legs. He willingly took every fence but most of the distances were quite poor and rhythm nonexistent. I foresee much schooling at 70cm before we move up.
Lancelot and his kid (the Z-kid) have been lessoning again between schooling sessions and doing great. He’s got such a happy workaday attitude to jumping now. He’s obviously still green, but has a natural eye and jumps well when left to do his thing. He does tend to take poles with his hindlegs though.
The pintos have been super. Zara is reminding me a lot of her dam, Amidala. She’s a higher quality copy, but her go-to naughty thing is to become completely unresponsive. She’s not violent, but there is currently much pulling and flapping. At least this now takes place in the big arena.
Tara is fantastic. I knew her dam, too, a cute old TB mare named Pumpkin who was a great schoolie. She’s dependable, trainable and comfortable and we’ve got three reliable gaits going in the big arena.
Midas has been making my day reliably. He jumped his first full course at 40cm with a very businesslike air, and also had his first ride with a kid on board. The kid rides great, he went great, I am happy.
I hacked Starlight for her mom. Starlight doesn’t like me, but we’ve come to a kind of begrudging truce.
I bought another pony to bring on. Call me crazy if you like. He’s ultra cute and irresistible and I’m way overexcited. He hasn’t come yet, but I’ve met him and you could probably set up a jumping castle beside him and he’d just sigh.