Although our riders have been doing better and better, for a time our growth plateaued a bit. Well, that time’s pretty over.
On Saturday, I led the biggest group hack I’ve taken out at our own yard. They were all wonderful (well, except Starlight) and we rode about three-quarters of the way round the farm without a single mishap.
Liana, Sunè and Vastrap were carrying their kids, Starlight had L, Stardust had a lesson kiddie,
and two outside riders from another local riding school joined us, too.
I was on my most trusted dragon steed, and there’s not a single picture of her. Sorry Arwen. She blew some fire at the neighbouring cows and Liana had to go past and show her it was OK and there was no need to incinerate anyone, but otherwise she plodded on the buckle. As did most of them. It was amazing.
Who’d think after the disastrous crash in the end of last year that I’d ever have the guts to take even a single child out again? I didn’t. Apparently God did.
Then, I headed to a beautiful old farm even deeper into nowhere than we are to have a look at a grey mare that spooks spectacularly. She wasn’t too bad for me, and I’m hoping for a little repeat business there, but it remains to be seen.
And on Sunday morning a nice lady and her little girl from Deep Kyalami came to see if they could bring their gorgeous, well-bred, spooky young pony to us for schooling. On the videos it moves like Nell did, so I’m kind of excited for that one.
On Thursday we’re also going to pick up a new arrival, a kid’s TB mare.
And I have bookings for lessons from two brand-new clients.
I also got a more long-term contract helping to edit a novel draft that I’m totally in love with.
I keep going to God willing to do anything, and He keeps giving me awesome things to do. Sometimes I’m not sure why,
but then I watch my horses play, and I remember how I am loved.
I’m a little overdue. But here goes – pictures and ramblings, the norm.
Skye is still the reigning queen of the yard, and doubly content to have Lady Erin to babysit. Plopsie herself can now walk around her field on a lead without a bum rope, although there have been one or two warmblood hissy fits. Luckily this warmblood is like 13.1 right now so those were easily dealt with.
Jamaica went hacking, babysat by Ash, who knows the routes well from her daily hand-walking. Hopefully we’ll be having a little sit on Ash to see how she feels next week.
Fluffy pony cuteness. ❤
Followed by Trooper packing the fairly novice L along on a hack on a horrible windy day. He didn’t turn a hair. I don’t think he knows how.
Winter came. Cherry got a blanket, and David disappeared into the hay. Cherry has since gone back to the stud farm to run around in a gigantic field, which should be good for her poor sad racehorse guts. It’s a bit sad to see her go. She’s been dealt a difficult hand in life so far, but it is to be hoped things will continue to look up for her.
David, however, is here to stay. He orginally arrived in winter 2015, a project from one of the Mutterer’s clients to be schooled and resold. I rode him for a bit and then it became evident that he’d been so abused that his mental and physical scars made schooling dangerous and unfair. I took him off the market and sort of quietly took over as many expenses as I could, hoping his owners would forget him. They did. He’s safe now.
I want to sell Lady Erin but she looks like a donkey right now. Just an ugly growth spurt – she’ll be gorgeous again soon enough.
Arwen’s early morning rides take on a sort of crystalline clarity in winter. We’ve been working on suppleness, both lateral and longitudinal, despite my lapse in motivation due to having no shows to go to until the end of June. It’s an opportunity to school without being tied to a certain test, so I’m trying to take advantage of it.
Apparently, mist can do this. I’ve lived here seventeen years and I still haven’t seen all the simple miracles of cloud and sky that God pulls out effortlessly, all the time.
It also does this, with the beloved dressage arena providing a suitable foreground.
I played with Blizzard for extra exercise on the days the Mutterer wasn’t here to work him. He’s almost the carbon opposite of Eagle – a little stubborn, quite unreactive, doesn’t canter too well but trots really well. A sturdy sort of chap so far, though. Just not with the willingness of Eagle.
We had a school visit from a horde of first graders. Stardust suffered them with typical grumpy grace.
This is Lisna, who’s come in Cherry’s place. She’s a Nooitie mare with drool-worthy bloodlines and wonderful looks, here to be schooled and resold by one of my rising stars, E. She’s still in quarantine so I only really know her to wave to, but soon she’ll join the lesson program.
My course building skills continue to slowly improve. This was our practice course for SANESA, and while limited – I can only do so much with a hillside, twelve poles and some uprights – it rode quite nicely.
Lancey is coming along just fine. He hacks out fairly reliably, we’re aiming to do some dressage at the next SANESA, and he is now very willing and bold over fences – if a bit careless.
Destiny went on his second and third hacks. I wore my body protector, anticipating a hair-raising experience, but so far, so good. Not even looky, except today when we encountered the maize fields for the first time and things got a little interesting for a few seconds. Luckily he has a wonderful mouth so I can hold him no matter how spooked he gets. He seems to like hacking better than working in the arena.
Lancey is teaching Z-kid some dressage, because Zorro sure ain’t gonna.
Afternoon hacking with novice kiddos. Agony on the feet, healing for the soul. ❤
We introduced Ashy to a field of buddies – Milady and Nugget. Both are laid-back mares with little concern for where they end up in the pecking order, and so far they’ve been a calming influence. Milady just politely ignores Ash’s rampagings because they’re rather beneath her. Poor Nugget bore the brunt of her rage but she gets out of the way and they seem to have come to an understanding.
I’m working on taking Nugget’s halter off and putting it on after every grooming. I hate leaving it on. She’s got such a rub (hair only) on her nosey. But it beats never being able to get hold of her again for shots/treatments/grooming so on it stays until I know I can catch her reliably without it.
Did I mention the hacking out here is incredible?
Best framed by these dragon ears, of course.
Dragons keep having to stop for the lesser mortals to catch up. This hill is very steep and rocky but Arwen just power-walks up it without a single misstep while I kinda throw the reins at her and hope she knows what she’s doing.
Midas is getting better and better on hacks too, both solo and in company. This was a solo hack on a very blustery day and I took a spooky route on purpose – woods, maize fields (which make a dreadful racket in the wind), next door’s feral ponies – and he just chugged right along happy as a bird.
Faith is standing a field eating grass and waiting to be old enough to ride. She gets brushed and stretched and takes some selfies and that’s about it. Not a whole lot more you can do with a two-year-old that knows most of the basics.
I don’t have pictures of Eagle this week, but he’s been very nice. K has been schooling him and I hack him. He went on his first solo hack yesterday and he was lovely – a little spooky at one point, but he never actually jumped, just had a look and a big snort. The rest of the time he plodded on a loose rein, half asleep.
As for this wonderful animal, he’s living the life of the semi-retired pet and starting to look it. The teff hay has been a little too good for him, methinks. I’ve never seen him so fat in my life. Of course, by semi-retired I mean he now works 3-4 days a week instead of 5-6, and usually it’s just farting around aimlessly or lunging when I’m not up for even that, but he likes it. I like it. And if he doesn’t deal on the day, he doesn’t have to.
He does get some pent-up energy though, never released when I’m on board, but lunging has been rather interesting of late. I think some more cantering is in his immediate future.
HOY pics by Meilleur Ami Photography; SANESA pics by CanterPix
Prepare to be spammed: I have been holding off on show photos despite being something of a media junkie, and then the SANESA photographers were cheap and good, and then the HOY photos arrived, and now I just have so many pretty pony pictures.
First up, HOY. Because this photo might just be my favourite one of Arwen to date. This was the general breed show hack class that we almost placed in because this horse is amazing.
You won’t believe how much work went into this picture or how freaked out I was. Totally worth it.
Now for Midas at HOY.
His connection was still so dodgy here.
It was so nice to be able to see the judge past the horse for a change.
And then Sunè at HOY, being grand champion in her class of one, but taking the opportunity to exhibit her bombproofness anyway.
And now for SANESA, starting with adorkable Lancey.
One day he’ll know what legs are for and become more photogenic.
Midas doesn’t need to learn anything about what knees are for.
Or anything about being photogenic.
And now I present to you one naughty Appaloosa being buried to a lot of fences…
Well, firstly, this show was amazing. I’m so proud of how hard my students all tried, and their hard work and talent is paying off. The ponies were super and God was with us, as always. Even the venue, which I was ranting about last time, really stepped up its game and I was suitably impressed. It ran really well for all concerned. We had our hiccups, but we all went home safe, sound and satisfied.
Saturday kicked off the qualifier with all the little primary school riders, who were brilliant. Liana and her child had two main goals: remember the course, and don’t fall off. Both were achieved with resounding success even though the poor child’s last practice before the show on Friday night included a nosedive in front of a fence. Kids are made of rubber, so this kid just bounced right back and they jumped great. Liana got quite hot in her first class (50cm showjumping) so the kid showed huge maturity in pulling her out and making a circle. They got penalties for that, but it definitely kept things safe and under control, for which they were rewarded with a big fat blue ribbon in their ideal time class.
They also showed a great improvement in their Prix Caprilli scores, which neither of them like very much, but it’s good for both of their training so I’m chuffed.
Meanwhile, having to cope largely by herself as I ran from calling a test to coaching Liana’s kid to dragging Lulu about on the lead rein, Vastrap and his kid carried on happily by themselves. I only managed to watch one of their classes (listening to the announcer in their other class while I was trotting around the dressage myself on Midas), but I’m glad I did because it was brilliant. VT showed no ill effects after his tying-up episode, demonstrated by a resounding second place in their competitive A2 speed class. They were fourth in the competition round and as happy as piggies in poo. This combination has the necessary qualifiers to go to Gauteng Finals, so that’s pretty awesome.
Our next little primary school rider was the littlest of all of them, a truly adorable five-year-old riding at her first show. She was doing POG equitation on the lead rein, accompanied by myself and dear old Lullaby. Dear old Lullaby absolutely LAUNCHED herself over the first ground pole, but the kid sat it out just fine and even remembered her little course for third in her 9-and-under class of 11 kids. Pretty impressive. Lulu was super well behaved apart from that, um, little moment, so hopefully there will be a whole horde of kiddos attending the next one with their equine teacher.
In light of the little kids’ successes, the high school kids had a lot to live up to, but they absolutely knocked it out of the park. K and Thunder had dressage on Saturday and equitation on Sunday. Thunny was much less tense than normal and got lots of “obedient” comments in Prelim 3 and 4, but regrettably they got a little lost with their canter leads and the 6’s and 7’s of their walk/trot work got disappointed by the 4.5’s and 5’s of their canter work. It was still good enough for fourth place. Their equitation also got them a placing with some lovely comments in a very competitive class.
Zorro started his show by flinging Z-kid’s family’s gardener-cum-groom into the air (according to eyewitness; I’m not sure how that happened), dislocating the poor man’s thumb rather painfully in the process. I patched him up (perhaps a little over-enthusiastically) and sent him off to hospital, but at least Zorro appeared to have used up all his naughty for the day. He and Z-kid headed into their working hunter without me, while I was calling K’s tests, so I was sweating for them as I heard the announcer call them in over my shouting, but it was totally unnecessary. Zorro wiggled down to the first fence and Z-kid had had enough of his nonsense and gave him a hiding he won’t forget. He didn’t offer up a single wiggle for the rest of the show, getting first in the working hunter, third in the competition, and two poles down in the A2 speed (he took the “speed” part rather seriously). This combination just goes from strength to strength. The poor groom was very stoical about it all.
Pennie and G also started their qualifier with working hunter, and proceeded to have another show without any stops at all. When Pennie doesn’t stop, she places. This little mare is just the best showjumper I know. She had second place in the working hunter, won both her showjumping classes at 90cm by absolute streets, and came second in equitation despite an unlucky pole. They’ll also probably get to Finals, so far for both WH and EQ.
That leaves my crew, who were also impressive. Midas started my personal weekend off with a bang when, with a total of three and a half minutes’ warmup (part of which was spent spooking at a horse in a nearby field that chose that moment to completely lose its snot), he scored first 60.8% in Prelim 3 and then 68.4% in Prelim 4. It’s a personal best for the both of us, and considering the poor little chap was quite stressed out at the time, I’m rather chuffed.
He continued to be quite wonderful for his showjumping, winning both 60cm classes in fine style. Admittedly this was not very hard considering his competition consisted of one other rider and Lancey, but he still went clear and quiet in the ideal time and clear and quick in the A2 speed. I made him take some very tight turns in the speed, more as an educational exercise than anything else, and apparently tight turns ain’t no thing if you’re 13.1.
Lancey jumped both 60cm classes as well; I entered 60 as a precautionary measure since I thought the buzz that is SANESA might scramble his little Arabian brain, but I needn’t have worried. He came out totally ready to do his job and did it well over the first eight fences of the first class. Then both of us had a lapse of concentration, took the pole at number nine, climbed through 10A and ran out at 10B. I brought him back over 10B by itself like a newb so we had the technical elimination but that’s what happens when you didn’t get a competitive education.
His second class, though, was wonderful. We both focused and he put in his first totally clear round in a long time, not even breathing on a single pole and brave to every last fence, so that ended us on a high note.
Then came the 80cm, which looks ridiculously small in this picture for some reason, and I was more or less OK until Jamaica landed from the oxer in the warmup and then took off like a shot. He made it all the way outside the arena and through a bunch of unwitting spectators (none were harmed in the making of this episode of Morning Star Madness) before I managed to stop him. I brought him back and popped him over it again and he was OK, so I thought it was a once-off right up until we were actually in the arena and our bell had gone. I asked for canter and I got several rather melodramatic handstands instead.
The last time this thing bucked with a rider, bones were broken. I hung on for dear life, or didn’t since that never seems to work, instead choosing to try and pull his head up for dear life. Mercifully, that did work. He stopped, I stopped, I stared at the judge in panic and in that wobbly moment I don’t think I’ve ever been closer to putting my hand up and retiring. I’m still not really sure why I didn’t. Instead we cantered another circle and headed for the next jump, reciting. “The Lord is my Shepherd: I shall not want.” The first two were OK. He landed from number three and took off again down the related distance to number four; I pulled him off it and circled desperately because I was fairly convinced I was going to die. We scraped over that, and then we had something like control for a while again, although I made it all the way through Psalm 23 (rather loudly over the combination) by number ten. Then I panicked because I had run out of psalm, but luckily Jamaica had run out of steam and we made it. It may just have been the most terrifying showjumping class I’ve ever ridden, but on the plus side, the height was not the problem. Also, stopping was never in the equation. He jumped everything without any question. It was all the galloping and bucking in between that worried me.
I sort of schooled him around for a bit before the second class and again strongly considered scratching from it, but again didn’t. It took every shred of guts I had, and even then it was only by the grace of God that we walked back into the arena, but by then he’d gotten a very solid one-rein stop which had made him rethink his life choices and settled down from whatever had worried him so much, so he was himself again. Looking at the pictures later, I realised I buried that poor animal to every single fence and he patiently jumped every single fence carefully and quietly. This is why I lease this beast. He’s rather funny-looking and has the odd psychotic break, but at the end of the day he jumps the first time every time and I can cope with his drama. He’s the one thing that my beloved Magic just isn’t – resilient to rider error. I can mess up as much as I please and he’ll still jump.
He jumped clear, which dismayed me a little because it meant I had to go back in and do it all over again for the jump-off. By this point, Jamaica was completely chilled and he was holding my hand again. The other rider had a very quick mare and they were good and I was still kinda panicking so any form of being competitive wasn’t in the equation at all. Then, rather unluckily, the other mare crashed straight through the first fence and I figured I may as well try since I had hopefully used up my near-death experiences for the day. (Did I mention how nerves exaggerate a situation?) So he popped around clear and slightly faster than slug-esque, and we got a ribbon. Which was nice.
It was, in many ways, a tough qualifier for all of us and it challenged all of our patience and courage. It was our busiest yet, but our riders absolutely rose to face every giant that met them and they won.
Blessed to be where I am, and most undeservedly so. Glory to the King.
The first time I remember being afraid on a horse was the first time I rode a horse. For those keeping track, that was sixteen years ago. Almost my life, practically speaking. I was a nervous kid from the start; the type of beginner that could only ride two or three of the school ponies, and never got back on any of the ones I fell off of.
Then came years of riding the most random wild bush donkeys. I think if I hadn’t had old Skye, my ever-reliable island of solid ground, the cornerstone of my confidence, I would have quit then. Spooky youngsters. Stallions that bucked and bolted. My second pony spooked relentlessly. My first horse overjumped, stopped, bucked and had frequent meltdowns. (He was also four years old and fresh off the racetrack. Go figure).
Add on top of that all the teenage angst of being an insecure young girl, all the nasty falls and the mistakes and the inexperience that led to accidents, the hit-and-miss, trial-and-error learning, the lack of understanding guidance, the cowboy mentality I forced on myself, the collection of psychotic animals I found myself on in a desperate bid to prove myself – well, I dug my own hole and I was stuck in it for years.
Then I dug it deeper with every attempt at overcoming my demons on my own strength, every effort to overwhelm them with my own demonic qualities: pride, insecurity, dishonesty, cruelty.
Nobody could have fought and lost harder than I did. I hated that fear. It went against everything I wanted, everything I dreamed of, everything I stood for, everything I believed in. It brought me slap-bang against the agonising reality I refused entirely to believe:
Every throb of adrenalin felt like betrayal. Jesus died for you and you can’t even jump 85cm for Him. He said 365 times not to be afraid and you’re afraid 365 days a year. We haven’t been given a spirit of fear.
I felt unworthy. I felt like I’d let God down. I felt like I was inadequate, like I’d never earn my way into the Kingdom of Heaven since I couldn’t even kick my riding nerves.
I was right. I can’t. I’m inadequate. I’ll never earn my way to heaven.
And it’s OK. It doesn’t matter. I don’t have to. Nobody can earn their way to eternal joy; it’s a free gift.
My fists were clenched so hard on fighting they couldn’t open to receive the gift that was waiting.
Somewhere in this year, the tide of the battle against my demons turned. It was subtle at first, but now it gathers momentum, thundering onwards. Obliterating the inevitable setbacks as they come. Rushing forth to crush every new onslaught. Something changed, something fundamental, something vital.
I did the one thing I swore I’d never do. I gave up. I quit. I threw in the towel. I had fought too long, too hard, all for nothing. I lay down my arms, and I let it go. I brought it up against God and realised that on a scale of one to God, it was a pretty tiny problem. I brought it all to Him and laid it down at the cross because I couldn’t bear the choking weight of it anymore.
I admitted defeat. I told Him I couldn’t beat my fear.
You know what He said? He said, I love you anyway. He said, I’m so glad you finally brought this to me. He said, I forgive you. He said, I’ve got this.
He said, Be still, and watch what I can do.
And then inside me, the Lion of Judah rose and roared. And now instead of fighting I walk through a sea of demons with my open hands lifted high, looking past them as they fall before us. Barefoot and defenceless and surrounded by the majesty of my God.
I will never beat my fear. But I surrender to the God Who knew fear intimately, and I watch Him conquer.
This was because it was bucketing with rain, which is OK, but also like minus four gazillion degrees, which was less OK.
I don’t know how our friends in the Northern Hemisphere manage it. Hats off to you chaps, this weather sent us all running for cover. I pouted when the postponement was announced on Saturday afternoon. I rather revoked my pouting on Sunday morning when it was all of 7° and the rain came sluicing down in an icy deluge and instead of trying to dressage, I was in bed under three Jack Russels.
The weekend was not without its adventures. Vastrap did not take to being clipped in this weather very well. He was bundled up in a weatherproof rug but when we got to him on Saturday morning he was shaking like a leaf and could barely walk, so tied up was he.
So we brought him in and bundled him up and poked needles into him until he felt better, and thankfully, by Sunday morning he was OK again.
Only having two stables, though, this meant somebody would have to go out on their ear. This somebody was poor pampered little Ash,
who thoroughly enjoyed it and spent the night hanging out with Lady Erin quite contentedly. (How Lady E got in with Ash, nobody knows). We’re quite relieved because she’s fairly horrible to most other horses and we were all a little concerned she’d eat her young someday.
As you can see, we also had some amazing frost, so that’s the end of the bugs. Hallelujah! (Seriously.)
Now, onwards and upwards preparing for SANESA Q3. Glory to the King.
Today our yard was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
This week everyone progressed in leaps and bounds, which is wonderful; we had a really productive, steady week and I feel ridiculously blessed. And I don’t use that word lightly.
Eagle went on his first little hack. I played it safe, as I always do with Eagle, and it wasn’t necessary, like it never is with Eagle. We did ten minutes around the bales, but it does involve cows, pigs, tractors and my arch-nemesis, the washing line. Eagle handled all of this with aplomb, strolling along with his topline floppy and ears to the side.
I bought fantastic red boots. They’re actually Jamaica’s, but if you’re the dragonbeast, you get to wear everyone else’s cool stuff. Arwen schooled Elementary 2 and 3 in preparation for a show on Sunday and her simple changes are streets and streets better. The leg-yield FX is quite nice, but the leg-yield back XM tends to have trailing quarters. The shoulder-in is better but still rather lacking. Either way, hopefully we get grading points.
Jamaica and I have done fine lately. (Also, how incredible are those boots??) We jumped a few exercises at 80-85cm and even installed lead changes over a fence with minimal trouble. He’s so honest. I’m so enjoying the novel experience of having a horse that will just canter right down to the fence and jump it every single time, no questions asked.
His flatwork remains mediocre but the addition of the market harborough has helped somewhat.
Faithy got in the box. I used the bum rope at first, and because she’s such a baby I didn’t spend long on it, but by the end she was strolling in without pressure on the bum rope. Every little session like this teaches me more about her personality. She’s trainable and responsive, but quite different from the ponies and hacks; there’s a sharpness here, an opinion. I rather like it. She’s a strong woman.
I clipped a shooting star on Vastrap’s butt because his kid asked. The clippers clipped half his other side and gave up. Now he’s running about with one butt cheek adorned by a shooting star and the other completely hairy – a situation I promise to remedy ASAP. Or at least before SANESA Q3.
One of my kids built me this and persistently attempts to rent it out to me. I countered this by constantly asking for improvements, which backfired badly when he then raised his price. Outsmarted by an eight-year-old.
This would be so much easier if he wasn’t gorgeous and talented. I lunged him over a little fence, about 80cm, and his technique and scope give me goosebumps.
Trooper now has canter circles firmly installed and is becoming easy to ride. His cute tiny gaits are comfortable, if boring to look at. We also trotted over his first itty bitty cross and went on a hack, which was utterly uneventful.
Working student L writes module one in July, so we’ve been hard at work. Ash helped with the ultra-fun points of the horse exercise.
She was not amused, but L did brilliantly and much fun was had.
Thunny is working so beautifully lately. He does Prelim 2 and 3 on Sunday and you know what, if he behaves like he does at home I think we might even place again. His weak points – left bend, keeping “jump” in the canter, and stretchy trot – have all improved hugely. Left bend matches right bend, I can keep the canter three-beat most of the time, and he stretches down to his knees. Such a clever baby.
Of course, he is a baby. So it’s rather unlikely that he’ll be perfect and score like 70% and more probable that he’ll scream the whole time and spook at C and get 40%. At least I know he has it in him.
Blizzard is ultra-cute. I’m going to start working him next week, and I’m rather looking forward to it.
Magic has gotten wonderfully fat, lazy and laid-back. He’s happy as a bird lately. Of course, he still has his little moments (case in point: was ground tied outside the stable, spooked at a goose, shied, spooked at his lead rein, stood on his lead rein, spooked at himself standing on his lead rein, yanked up his head and got slapped on the nose by the lead rein), but he comes right back to me these days.
He’s settling into a happier place than he’s ever been. He’ll always be quirky and sensitive and sharp, and some scars just don’t heal. But he can be happy and he can be meaningful, and right now, he’s both. More so than ever before.
Mr. Destiny and I came to an agreement: he’d spook wildly and I’d ignore him. Not much of an agreement, but at least we managed to jump a little and work on his canter transitions. His mom also rode him today; a giant storm was on its way and the wind was enough to make anything spooky, but he was no worse than normal.
He also went on his first hack. I dressed for the occasion because I thought I might die, but he was actually really good. Tense at first, but he just followed the older pony L escorted us on, and on the way home he took the lead and marched confidently forward with nary a spook in sight. Good brat.
Eagle got in the box, too, and it was a total non-event. I walked in, he stopped at the ramp, I stood there and let him figure it out, and in thirty seconds flat he got in too. No fuss, no bum rope. That’s my good boy.
Zorro’s kid has been in hospital (nothing huge), but he’s not had an uneventful week. We clipped him, one of the rising stars rode him, and then he developed a massive crush on Skye and broke all the fences. Seriously, Zorro?
Vastrap’s kid’s mom handmade the most amazing blankets. Doesn’t he look fetching in camo? Rather like a distinguished old lieutenant if you ask me.
Lessons with coach K have just been amazing recently. I got to ride the incredible Skrikkie today. I was hoping to ride through my Elementary tests but he wouldn’t go into the dressage arena because there was a hosepipe across the path. I think I love him so much because he’s what Magic would have been given the right circumstances. The biggest wuss ever, but also with the most courageous and generous heart you could ever ask for.
I also rode Troy, a schoolie I’m not familiar with, and felt a little bored jumping the EV70 fences (can you imagine? Me, bored?). So I asked K if I could jump the EV80 house, and then we were galloping through water and jumping banks down and the most ridiculous EV80 related distances and guess what? It was fun. I had fun on xc! On a horse I’d never ridden! At 80cm!
I’m eternally grateful to K and her schoolies. God is doing something truly mighty inside me, something I had tried so hard and for so long to do for myself. My deep struggle is being turned into a long and beautiful chapter in the shining novel that is the story of my life; that is, the love story about a King Who loved a peasant girl. And for the first time, I can’t wait to read the next page.
It’s truly amazing what a long hack, with a prayerful attitude and John 15 in the back of your head, at sunrise, can do for the soul.
Arwen and I headed out at about 6:30 this morning, before the sun had dared to show its face.
As we started down the hill, it was just slipping into the sky from behind the hill and the brooding woods.
The world became rose-tinted; its edges softened, illuminated by golden light. It was beautiful, it was breathtaking, it was pure, and it was deeply humbling.
The challenges of running a not-so-little-anymore stableyard can mount dauntingly at the beginning of each day, leaving me as thunderstruck as the traveller in Psalm 121. Stressed. Burned out. Hopeless. Exhausted. Complaining. Selfish.
But like the traveller, today I’m reminded of where my help comes from.
On a scale of one to God, none of today’s challenges are anything more than a speck in the face of majesty.
I’m reminded of how vastly, limitlessly, with how much abandon and abundance I have been blessed. Wouldn’t it have been enough if Christ had just died and lived again for me? It is enough. Why then am I so spoiled? Why sunrises and rustling fields of ripening maize and shadow-silent little duiker buck slipping across the paths and the sweeping expanse of Highveld magnificence and a good, grey mare who never quits? Why do I, who deserves only death, not only gain life and redemption and peace, but also beauty and grace and friendship?
There can only be one answer to such an impossible question: an answer utterly complicated in its very perfect simplicity.
We’ve been clipping up a storm – of horsehair, flying about everywhere. (And I do mean everywhere – fellow clipping people will sympathise).
So far, Lulu, Zorro and Jamaica have stood dead still to clip. The clippers broke halfway through Jamaica so we had a whole rigmarole with that and his coat looks a bit disastrous now – but nothing that a week’s growth won’t fix. On the upside, by the end of it, he was grazing as I snipped away.
I’m hoping to maybe drive around and shave ponies for people and thus acquire some more funds, if the clippers continue to behave.
I jumped 90cm on Jamaica. The nerves have been a little up and down, but the overall tendency has been really quite good. Jamaica bails me out a lot. I entered him in the 80cm at SANESA next weekend because that’s what we seem to be coping at even on my bad days.
Magic lost his snot.
Magic found his snot.
Eagle went to the dressage arena and behaved brilliantly. He has the most incredible brain – that rare combination of quiet and willing, but intelligent and sensitive. I wish I could keep them all sometimes.
I can now ride horses that are taller than I am without even a twinge of worry (if they’re quiet). This is Buzz. Buzz is amazing.
Our views stay amazing.
We took lessons with dressage coach S: K and Renè, and me with my two beasties. It was invaluable. I nearly died. S really, really liked Thunny and got me properly excited about his future.
Eagle’s owner rode him for the first time. He was superb, but it got cut short when one of the stirrup leathers snapped mid-canter. I can’t believe it – it wasn’t even worn. Eagle’s mom took a tumble and left rather battered. Really unfortunate because it was going so well. God knows what He’s doing with this.
Exavior is gorgeous. I have to sell him. The family and I (and God and I) had a talk about that first, and we agreed that with things a little tight sometimes (as is normal, for any growing little yard), the funds that are going to his upkeep and training could be better used elsewhere. There are so many kids out there dying to ride but without the financial oomph to do it and that’s what we’re here for, not this. It’s not like I can ride him anyway, and he has too much future ahead of him to waste on a maybe.
It’s very sad. But it’s God’s plan, not mine, and this miracle horse has a lot more miracles in store for him. Just with somebody else.
Kissing this nose makes everything better, though.
So does catching two top-class Nooitie mares in one picture. They’re more alike than they’ll ever admit.
Join-up? Nope. Apples.
Trooper is doing super. We’ve got canter now, and on the correct lead, and circles (kinda). He’s got a bit of a nappy streak but it’s nothing my pink wand isn’t dealing with.
We took our big group of kiddies for a hack. Regrettably I didn’t get a picture of the cutest feature: a three-year-old bundle of cuteness seated upon Midas. Now that was adorable.
Arwie and I took a walk on the wild side – AKA the public road. Then we went inside and did four million shoulder-ins; coach S showed us how to do them properly and we’re not going to let them get us down again.
She doesn’t have Magic’s scope or Nell’s trot or Thunder’s presence, but she’s got the fire in the belly that lights mine when it flickers and she never lets me down. Ever.
I had the saddles fitted – the dressage to Arwen, the JC jumping to Jamaica, and the beloved K&M to Thunder. The perk is that the dressage is now super wide and fits everything, including Lancey, who has been doing his best flatwork yet. The jumping is good provided we do it in the dressage arena; he’s lost his nerve in the grass somehow. We entered for the 60cm at SANESA as a precaution but it’s not the height that’s the problem.
Whenever we hack, we’re accompanied by one to three happy Jack Russels. They’re the most incredible little dogs.
Our string of good hacks has grown to the point where I try to take a group every Saturday (except on competing weekends). This was a very beginner group so I walked, but I needn’t have bothered. My sister led the way on Stardust, and Sunè, Renè and Lullaby were perfect.
Ice has an adorable new jacket. It says “dog” in case I forget what he is.
There’s just something about a true black, isn’t there? I thank God for Eagle. I’ve reopened my training, so I don’t get to cherry-pick my training horses anymore. I certainly wouldn’t have picked him – big, sensitive, troubled, athletic. But God sent him here for a reason and he’s given me so much confidence. Thanks Lord.
Cute little brat is on the open market now; I’m so proud of him. He’s such a nice, quality pony and I’m happy to be presenting him to the public. Still, I’ll miss him when he goes. If he doesn’t, we’ve got dressage and jumping at SANESA too. (It’s going to be a little busy).
Lady Erin helps me groom the old queen. She can walk on the lead now, with intermittent use of the bum rope and elbow.
I’m shopping for a (cheap) new bridle for Thunny because all my bridles look like bits of thread on the anvil he calls his head. He’s being incredible – I’m excited for this weekend’s Prelim 2 and 3 on him. We’ve been working hard on that left bend and it’s paying off.
Forgive the short note – there will be pictures of all your favourite South African brat ponies in the next one. For now, a brief explanation. I’ve picked up some part-time proofreading and transcription sort of work. I like it; it pays better and doesn’t hurt as much as the horse thing. Never fear, however – the whole purpose of the writing gig is to bring in some extra funds, especially to expand the yard’s facilities, I hope. There will certainly be no less to tell about the horses, just less time to tell it in.
I’ve scheduled myself three blog posts each week and I hope I’ll be able to stick to it, but the paid writing work has to take priority. I would say it’s regrettable, but in this country, gainful employment is good reason to be grateful to God. To be gainfully employed in more ways than one is even better.
Stick around, we’re still here, adventuring in full force.