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Glory to the King.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin – my favourite place to accumulate all the (MANY) blogs I like to read into one tidy little news feed. I’ll see y’all there.
Glory to the King.
So the good news is that we survived the unadulterated chaos that was this week.
The better news is, next weekend is dressage with Destiny (walk/trot under his mom), Renè (Prelim under K), Arwie (Elementary 4 and 5) and Thunder (Prelim 2 and 3). I can’t wait.
Eagle has accepted his job as the steady hack with aplomb. He can still have the odd little spook or sticky moment, but, well. He was backed in March, after all.
His mom is also back on him now that she’s recovered from her tumble, and shows admirable handling of the expected nerves. Eagle, obviously, is being perfect. He has developed a new habit of gaping and hanging on the hand a little in his downwards, so we’ll play with different snaffles and see if something else is more agreeable.
Firepaw (from Warriors) and Meatlug (from How to Train Your Dragon) are adorable, but appearances are deceiving.
Lady Erin and I started to talk about the box. She did have one warmblood tantrum about it, but she’s currently, like, 12.2hh, so it didn’t go anywhere.
This adorable child was way more amused with riding bareback than Lullaby was with being ridden bareback.
The kid that rides Midas has put herself on a quest to be good without stirrups. I think she’s pretty good already.
Ash was mysteriously sick for a day. She ran a fever and just looked a bit off and I panicked and basically gave her everything I could think of, and she was fine by lunch. Nothing ever came of it, so that’s a bit of a mystery, but it seems like a fairly benign one.
In anticipation of his competitive debut, Destiny got in the box. He was exceedingly well-mannered and cooperative, I’m pleased to report.
I love these two round dressagey butts.
Blizzard graduated to the long-lines. He has a strangely fussy little mouth, but his teeth are done so it’s kinda just a matter of being patient and letting him learn to deal. He is very obedient and will probably only ever be ridden on a loose rein in his hacking future, so I’m not losing sleep over it.
Trooper is on a six-week semi-hiatus from schooling and jumping. The little chap is only three and a half and we already have all his basics and little tiny jumps installed, so he deserves a break. In the meantime he goes on hacks when I have nobody else to use.
In my continuing quest to get my wayward heels back under my hips where they belong, I’ve been experimenting with stirrup lengths. It seems the Wintec has the effect of ever-so-slightly pulling my leg forward because of the position of the stirrup bar in relation to the deepest point of the seat. We’ve gotten around this by doing lots and lots of work without stirrups so that I get used to sitting right and my body doesn’t get to think of excuses to do its own thing.
It appears I am finally conquering the tension through my hips, so when relaxed and unrestrained, I manage to sit like a human being at last.
Skinny Savanna is already so much fatter. The magic of ad-lib grass and a bit of balancer does it again and it makes my heart happy as she begins to thrive.
She has been SO naughty though, running out at every fence she can with her kid. I think the adjustment from huge groups all going around together at her previous yard, down to private lessons or two in a lesson here, have been a bit of a shock for them both. She’s in half training with me now so we’ll get it sorted.
It’s a bit of a menagerie around here.
Our biggest beginner group yet: five, through from dad down to five-year-old little sister. Lisna, Starlight, Lulu, Sunè, and Stardust have been impeccable.
Milady has put on so much weight this month it’s almost scary. She was about a 3/10 when we weaned Lady Erin and now she’s about 6/10. K has started to ride her for me so that I can use her as a trail horse and schoolie until she’s in foal again, whenever that may be.
She has the gentlest spirit. ❤
Typically, in trying to correct one flaw, I’ve created another. Now my heels camp out somewhere three miles behind me while I perch. I’ll find the balance. I have a patient dance partner.
Ash is loving the hack life. She’ll be terribly useful in the school once her tendon rehab is complete.
After much desensitising, I finally put a leg over Blizzard. He was, as you can see, pretty cool about it. Just the way I like it.
This little one got to try out our brand-new 17m lunging ring in the brief window between its being built and being recruited as turnout for Champagne until she settles down. I love it. It even has fancy slanting sides so the youngsters can quit whacking my knees on the fence.
Nugget is recovering very nicely. The plan is for her to move in with Magic once she’s regained the use of her neck fully. I’m hoping his love and joie de vivre will rub off on her, and he really, really missed Exavior.
For now, the tack boxes have been stolen to be a table for her cheeky little majesty.
After weeks of improvement, Arwen’s canter-walks have gone down the drain again a little. On the bright side, we suddenly have shoulder-in and rein back. Poor Arwen – Elementary is tough when neither of us really know what we’re doing at the level yet. Thunder has it easy by comparison. For now.
Life with Champagne has been a little interesting, but she is settling one day at a time. She’s used to very little turnout, but seems to settle much better outside and fret quite a bit in the stable. The poor girl is extremely anxious about basically everything – I don’t understand how she can maintain that level of anxiety for so long. We’ll sort it out.
Dusty cannot understand her new buddy. So young, so well-bred, so well cared for, so sound, so gorgeous. What does she have to worry about?
Jump judged today at coach K’s family’s event and realised just how much I miss everything about eventing. Someday.
Praying for a peaceful next week, but ready to see God’s will in it, whatever it is. Glory to the King.
Emma and SprinklerBandit recently wrote about the why’s of riding – how the horse you have is linked to the very reason you ride in the first place. Never one to miss out on the chance to be sappy, I’m jumping right on the bandwagon.
It’s a topic I’ve been giving some thought to lately. The answers to why I ride for a living, and why I have the horses in the school that I have, are simple. God sent me, and God sent them.
Magic and old Skye are also pretty simple. They’re semi-retired pets. They’re here because they’re my friends and they don’t owe me a thing.
Then we get to the topic of dressage.
After realising that upper-level showjumping and eventing were just not going to happen for me – at least not in the next decade or so – I turned to my remaining options for a discipline I could be truly competitive in: dressage and showing. Showing judges freak me out, so that left dressage. It didn’t take long for me to discover that I adore dressage, in no small part thanks to the horse that was born for it – Nell. She gave me a taste of success and I liked it.
Then God turned the whole thing on its head.
Nell was sold. My best horse left; the carpet was pulled out from under the feet of my career. I mourned; not only the loss of a friend in Nellie, but the loss of a dream. It seemed to me that God was saying, “Enough of this selfishness. The time, money and energy you dedicate to this sport is self-serving; I want you to give it up and focus on the yard.”
And in a way, I guess He was. It shattered me to accept it, but I realised that much as I gave glory to Him in the high moments, schooling every day was all about progress and points and ambition. I laid down the dream.
Then He sent me Rainbow, and I was euphoric because I thought He was saying it wasn’t selfish after all.
And then Rainybow died. The cruelty of it was like a punch in the guts. It was all I could do not to lose my temper with God for this apparent injustice. I loved that horse and now she was gone and the dream with her, like Nell, but worse.
God said, “O, ye of little faith. I’ve got a plan with this, daughter.”
That’s why, when she basically fell out of the sky, I named her Faith. Not because I really had any, but to remind me to believe even when everything looks dark.
As you all know by now, since then everything just blossomed. Suddenly Arwen decided she was good at dressage too and went Elementary, and then Thunder was like “hi mom I’m really talented” and started scoring ridiculously well at Prelim, and now I have a dressage arena and even the sale ponies were scoring better than I ever have anywhere.
So the dream lives. But it’s a different beast to what it was with Nell. I have always been so desperate to prove to the students, to the world, to God that I was good enough for them. I failed at jumping, I failed at eventing – dressage was my great hope.
But this whole year has basically been about one thing: the only opinion that matters is God’s, and nothing I ever do will make me good enough for His love, and it actually really doesn’t matter at all because He died for me before I even knew Him to say thank you to. It is the purest freedom from guilt to glimpse the depth of amazing grace, yet the strongest motivation to live purely, all at once.
So what is dressage to me now? A way to prove myself? I don’t have to prove myself because it just isn’t about me. My students are here and I give them my whole heart; as long as I keep doing that they don’t seem to care how much satin is on my wall.
Is it something for me to finally be brilliant at? Well, what does brilliance matter? Sport is temporary. I won’t be taking any ribbons or tests into the Kingdom of Heaven.
It’s become something more to me now. I don’t really have a name for it, but the closest word I know is this:
I don’t deserve to be saved from eternal agony, yet I am. I don’t deserve to be loved by the God Who is Love, yet I am. I don’t deserve to become a dazzling, new, adopted member of God’s family, yet I am. I don’t deserve Arwen or Thunder or Faith or the 60x20m patch of sand or the opportunity to compete or anything – yet I have it. All that testifies to just one thing and that thing is grace.
So while I believe brilliance will be a by-product, and while I still hope one day I’ll get to ride Grand Prix, that’s all temporary. All just small things blowing by on the wind.
When I school now, I still tend to centre on selfish ambition. But this is my proclamation of a new mission statement for every time I throw a leg over one of the dressage horses.
The horses, the shows, the dances are a gift I don’t deserve, a reminder of the greater Gift. In riding every stride, I ride with empathy because I love the horses. I ride with diligence because I honour and appreciate the gift I have been given. But above all, I ride with love and passion, looking not at a number on a scoresheet but at the face of my God. I care less about how good the mark will be for a movement and more about the compassion behind the aid that asked for it. I care less about what the bystanders think and more about giving every breath I have to the God Who gives me life.
Dressage can be a sport, a dream, a torture session for horse and rider, a career.
To me, I choose dressage to be, in the style of Psalm 149:3, a dance.
Glory to the King.
So things have gone a little nuts around here, but God’s absolutely handling it.
It started on Monday when poor little Nugget decided to colic out of the blue. I always feel terrible when anything happens to Nugget. Surely she’s used up her allotment of bad stuff for her life? Anyway, so I was pleasantly surprised that she allowed me to get vitals and gut sounds without any protest. I gave her some Buscopan on the vet’s advice (calling the vet out at this stage would be kinda pointless seeing how the vet can’t get near her). It was a hard call because it’s meant to go iv, but on these tough little pony types it occasionally takes me a couple of attempts to get the vein, and I sincerely doubted Nugget was going to stand all that still for even one poke. I didn’t want to run the risk of a) poking the artery and killing the poor thing or b) not getting pain relief into her at all (she was very uncomfortable), so I went ahead and gave it im because it’s my horse and I felt it was best for her. I have seen it done before without negative effects.
Well, it sorted the colic. She was comfortable within ten minutes and created a wonderful gigantic pile of poo a few hours later, without needing any tubing, to the vet’s enormous relief. But the next afternoon the poor little soul’s neck was so swollen and tender she’d flinch if I just raised my hand near it.
I feel such a fool. Lesson learned. Anyway, I think she’ll be fine; it’s coming down a bit and she is eating and drinking well as long as I hang up her hay and hold the bucket for her.
Then, on Wednesday, while one of the grooms was on leave, the other got sick. Poor L tried to come to work despite feeling disgusting, so she gets full marks for effort. The yard is turned on its head a little, but somehow God has been handling it so that I got all the horses fed, lessons taught, and most of the youngsters ridden yesterday.
On the bright side, our really beautiful new addition has arrived. Champagne is here for schooling, and she’s a picture-perfect little Barbie pony, except for being rather shellshocked when she arrived and running around madly for a bit until we managed to catch her and put her in a stable. I don’t think the poor soul has ever seen a cow before, and we have about 200. Bit of a culture shock really. She didn’t hurt herself, though, so all’s well.
And on a good but sad note, yesterday beautiful Exavior headed off to a temporary new home. A lovely local showjumper offered to school and sell him very affordably for me and I can’t watch him stand all frustrated in a field anymore. The horse loves to work and he just isn’t working here. So I packed him off, a little brokenhearted, but knowing it was best for him. Hopefully he finds his forever home quickly.
God’s plan for this horse is just huge. First He saved him when he was a baby that nobody wanted; now, just when his broke owner can’t afford for him to be trained, someone magically steps up at the right moment to do it. I don’t know where He’s going with this, but He sure does!
I also made possibly the most newbie error it is possible to make. I was feeding a horse treats and not concentrating and fed him my finger along with it, which did not end well. It was my ring finger too so we better hope it heals quickly or I’ll be exhibiting one-handed dressage next weekend.
God’s got this. Glory to the King.
Last qualifier of the year, and we found ourselves having a weekend full of exceptional performances from our faithful steeds.
St. Vastrap was his reliable self, despite putting in a cheeky stop during a practice last week – most unlike him. He and his kid blasted around the speed for a third place, then had an unlucky pole in the competition for seventh. They’re going to finals!
This little team has everything they need to go to Nationals, but VT’s kid will need to up her game in terms of focus in the arena itself and riding the plan we work out. All part of growing as a very hard-working and promising little athlete, riding a pony in a million.
Zorro and Z-kid had a wonderful qualifier, thanks to huge personal growth and super riding from Z-kid, which has resulted in Zorro going better than he ever has. They had a silly pole in the competition, but came back strong for fourth in the speed, then jumped a lovely clear for second in the working hunter. They’ll also be headed for finals in working hunter if I have it right.
Liana and her kid had by far their best show yet, even if that didn’t earn them any ribbons. Ana was the quietest she’s been and kiddo rode very well. Pony overjumped an oxer in their first jumping class, sending kiddo onto her neck, but they recovered well, just getting penalties for circling. A mature decision from the rider, as it was the only way to negotiate the next fence safely. They were clear in the ideal time, but – get this – too slow for a place. Up till recently, Ana didn’t know slow was a thing.
Continuing on the quiet and well-behaved theme for the day, Liana was wonderful in the prix caprilli and kiddo rode so accurately, getting 67.72% and third place.
K and Thunny were busy winning their equitation test when the GPS malfunctioned and they jumped the same fence twice in fine style. A bummer for K, but she handled it with enormous grace. They upped their dressage score, too, getting 59.16 and 62.5 despite all the monsters beside the arena. I think we finally have the leads mastered.
Lullaby and the tiny tot rode in the midst of great chaos – I was riding dressage as their course opened for walking. Usually I’d have K walk with her, but tiny tot speaks no English and K speaks no Afrikaans, so yeah. I watched the kid before us and then dragged Lulu around in more or less the right direction, and tiny tot wasn’t worried (her poor parents were less blasè about it), so it added up to a positive experience but she was out of the ribbons. I think we could have done better, but I also think I can’t teleport. Such is SANESA. I would happily have skipped Midas’s test but I can’t let Lancey’s young owner down so there you have it.
Speaking of Midas pony, he wasn’t really on his game this weekend, but to be fair to him the errors we had in showjumping were mostly my fault. I feel sorry for him dragging my fatness over fences so I don’t really jump him myself at home, and I kept panicking and chasing him at distances he didn’t have to try and make. We had two poles in the speed and one in the ideal time, but he was dead honest. So we didn’t get our showjumping goals of going clear but I’m not worried. Pony is a bit bored at the height too, which isn’t always a bad thing.
Dressage was in the most appalling location – the arena appears to have been cut right out of a wood of young poplars, and the wind was howling, causing the whole thing to rustle and wave about most alarmingly. Midas never actually jumped but he was drifting, tense, and hollow in that corner. Having five minutes to warm up didn’t help either. Still, we had 65 and 67.5, so that’s not horrible. Maybe at finals I can finally warm the poor chap up for a change.
Not warming up at all worked brilliantly for Lancey, however. K saddled him up, led him to the show arena, and held him while I rode the test on Midas; Lancey’s warmup consisted of walking around to the judge. He greatly exceeded my expectations. I thought he’d be dreadful, what with the howling bush monsters and all, but he actually just had a little look as we walked around and then paid them no attention at all. He was so focused, probably because I hadn’t had time to cook his brain beforehand. He tied first with Midas in the second test with 65% and had 67.3% in the first one.
His jumping was improved albeit still rather erratic. He had a pole and a stop at the combination in the first class, once again, but this time I jumped the first element again and thus we finished with the eight penalties. The second class had the most dreadful fillers throughout and I quickly scratched my goal of getting no stops – everything was stopping. I’d be happy just to get him round. Sure enough he had one stop at number four, but to my amazement it was because of a wiggly approach and really had little to do with the fillers. He didn’t look at a single thing for the rest of the track. It was a huge lightbulb moment for him. “Oooh, all I have to do is jump the jumps!” Ya think, Lancey?
I was VERY impressed with the little chap. He tries so hard.
Last but not least, Jamaica in the 80cm. After the debacle we had last time, I wasn’t sure whether or not to expect an utter disaster. He felt forward in the warm up but that could have been my imagination. We did about four thousand canter-walk transitions after the jumps, then went in to the course with all the scary fillers, white-knuckled and white-faced. I nearly died when he had a big look at number one and all I could get my frozen limbs to do was feebly wave my stick, but he jumped. Then after that it was just perfect – from Jamaica, anyway.
I hung on his face and made him canter as if we were doing flatwork, adding strides with wild abandon, burying him to fence after fence and every single time he patiently tucked up his little black knees and popped over without any fuss. I don’t know how, but he didn’t even take a pole. No bucking, no running away, he just sweetly hauled my sorry behind around like the quiet old packer he actually really isn’t – a six-year-old remedial problem horse with a sketchy background.
Who’d have thought it? Eighteen months ago he was somersaulting over a fence and breaking his shoulder. Six months ago he was handstanding his child off and breaking her shoulder. One month ago he was bucking and bolting. Today, he is helping, fence by willing fence, to lay the bricks that repair my potholed, ripped and ruined path to riding confidence. Who’d have thought it? I sure didn’t!
Above all we ask or imagine, my God is faithful, my God is powerful, and my God – oh, you have no idea how my God is in charge!
Glory to the KING!
I haven’t done one of these in ages, but everyone’s jumped on the bandwagon with Rocking E’s Summer Blog Hop Series and it looked too good to miss out on.
(Technically, us being in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s winter, but I’m a rebel.)
Glory to the King.
With the last of the SANESA qualifiers on the horizon, I’m going to try something new. I’ve always got goals in my head for each show, but let’s put them on paper (in a manner of speaking) and see how they turn out. It’s an exercise I’m encouraging my teenage riders to do, so I’d better lead by example, eh?
Last show: SANESA Q3 (20-21 May)
Midas performed better than I could have asked for at his last show. While he was tense through his first test due to having a short warmup, he still had a decent score, and improved on it for a personal best in his second test.
Last show: SANESA Q3 (20-21 May)
Lancelot had a gimpy first round, but was brave to all of the fences and remained calm and under control. He came back strong for his first clear round in ages.
Goals are easy things when your horse is a total baby.
Last show: SANESA Q3 (20-21 May)
Jamaica was a total lunatic last time and very naughty, but he did jump everything I asked him to without hesitation. We did lots of work on brakes this month and hopefully it’ll stand us in good stead.
Overwhelmed by grace to get to take these partners into the show ring once again. Glory to the King.
Isn’t it the most wonderful thing to see God at work? He’s in everything at this little yard; present in each lesson, supervising each training session, caring about every small child and every bratty pony as His own. Even this particularly pathetic and grubby little daughter of His, so often mired in petty worries and little frustrations, often stands thunderstruck by the wonder of His amazing love.
Every time I ride Thunder he becomes more adept with the steps of the basic dance. Prelim is, well, Prelim; the hardest thing we do is four or five strides of semi-lengthened trot. But he’s becoming so joyous, so supple and balanced and connected and lifting through his back, that even simple working trot corners and circles are almost addictive to ride. We made a lot of progress with his canter, too. He has a lot more spring and carrying power behind these days and his hocks have visibly come under him more in the space of a few sessions.
My secret ambition is to break 70% on him this year. I don’t school him with this goal in mind, but I will be hoping for that number on a test sometime.
This is Firepaw. When she’s not terrorising the dogs, she sits majestically in this bowl and waits to be fed.
I’ve been focusing a lot more on having my riders work in light seat and without stirrups lately. Almost every time I have a private lesson booked, I teach a lunging lesson. Previously from the start my focus was heavily on independent control of the pony, which is a good thing, but the more I teach the more I realise how essential position is and how important it is to teach a good one from the very beginning. No-stirrups and light seat just never figured in my early education; I taught myself both. My new rule is that we only move on to a new gait when the rider can perform the old gait independently without stirrups.
It turns out I can catch Nugget, halter or no halter, with ease as long as I have a treat for her. I do want to wean her off the treats but there’s no denying that they worked when nothing else did. I even gave her her AHS vaccine without any drama whatsoever; I was feeding her with one hand and injecting with the other, the lead hanging loosely over my elbow, and she just gave a little flinch as she felt the needle. It’s a massive relief; now I know she can get medical treatment if she needs it.
Her feet are in quite a state. I can lift the fronts and tuck them between my knees like a farrier, so if I can borrow some clippers I might be able to do something about them, but we don’t talk about the hind feet just yet. Nobody else can come near her without getting kicked.
Blizzard’s first long-line was disastrous, so we backed up to lunging again. Pleased to announce that he now has three beautiful, relaxed, obedient, rhythmic gaits on the lunge and hasn’t put his tongue over the bit for a while.
He has no tendency to violence but he can be just as stubborn and silly as his small eye suggests. He wouldn’t be much of a competition horse, but his inherent quietness should make him a nice plod-along sort of hack.
Destiny has been going so much better. Still flinchy and spooky to hack, but rideable. He cottoned on to the idea of connection so quickly and can work connected from behind for a quite surprising length of time without getting tired. We even took him down to the grass jumping arena and he popped around like he doesn’t know what a spook even is.
Arwen is feeling much better after chiro. I was right that she was out in her neck but wrong about where; C6, not C3. She also had some tension through the lumbar spine (L2, L4, and L6) and was out in her sacrum on the right. She has been able to connect her neck a lot better since and to bend both ways far more easily (her shoulder-ins are easily twice as good as they were). I think the pelvis realignment also helped her to sit better through her canter-walk transitions. Nothing truly magical, but a definite improvement.
I think Arwen is beginning to feel a physical limitation at this level. She is incredibly correct throughout her conformation, but definitely not the most athletic horse ever and it’s starting to show somewhat. This actually doesn’t bother me like I thought it would. Losing first Nell and then Rainbow, then having personal financial restrictions that limit the amount of competitions I can do myself, have been so good for my attitude.
Dressage used to be a sport. Now it’s a dance three ways; thinking human, moving beast, loving God, all celebrating the wonderfulness of creation and its Creator. Arwen and I are greatly enjoying this level and I honestly don’t mind if we go no further. We can do Elementary forever until we do it perfectly, or we can go event again, or we can stay at home and dance. Dragonbeast doesn’t owe me a thing.
Nor does old Skye, but she stays beautiful.
I only rode Magic once this week, and only down the centreline and along one long side before he had a bit of a meltdown about the geese. Anxiety is a female canine. We worked through it, though. There’s no rush, we take it one day, one breath at a time.
Faithy wore a saddle; not for any real reason other than that I didn’t feel like carrying it up the hill. Obviously, she didn’t mind one bit. We also put her in the horsebox again, this time without a bum rope, but with some cookies.
She is a lovely citizen at the moment, but can tend to get a bit forward and pulling when hand walked somewhere unfamiliar. The horse loves to work, though. She enjoys people and likes learning. I think she might grow up into a bit of a hot and spooky type, but there’s nothing wrong with the work ethic, and that’s my main thing. Hot and spooky we can work with.
I failed badly at pictures this week, so here’s a little cuteness to break up the text. Stardust is looking the best she’s ever looked and feeling great in her body and mind, too. I keep her for beginners and hacks now; her gimpy leg has improved, but I doubt she’ll ever really be able to jump or easily canter on the off lead. She’s super with beginners and has lovely smooth gaits, so she has plenty to do, and the slower work suits her well so she’s become friendly and perky again instead of the typical grouchy schoolie. Lullaby has been heading in that direction lately – never really naughty with the kids, but grumpy to catch and tack up, so we’re diverting some of her work onto Sunè and Starlight.
Eagle has become so confident on hacks that he’s started to get quite forward and pull – heading out, not back. Silly nana. He can still have the odd look at things, but we’ve been hacking alone and in company and he’s always happy to do the thing and stays rideable through everything.
Lancey is preparing for his first dressage tests next weekend. He’s going in at the deep end with Prelim 3 and 4 and I don’t expect miracles, but he just has to keep it together and do what I say and I’ll be happy.
Trooper jumped! He actually went up in the air and over the jump with all four feet and then cantered off. Poor little chap. He’s safe as a house though. He can just about go do a walk/trot test and a POG class, so as soon as his passport is done we’ll be attempting an outing or two.
The upcoming SANESA show will likely be my last on Midas, depending on the little girl who’s been trying him in the school, and on whether we get through to Finals. I would still love to jump around EV60 with him, but I won’t break the bank trying, and with training fairly in demand it makes sense to palm him off on VT’s child until he sells.
Glory to the King.
I may be yard manager, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get very, very soppy about my friends the horses sometimes. I think a defining characteristic of the real horsewoman is that deep down, she’s still a 12-year-old girl who loves ponies.
Music and horses seem to dance hand in hand, too. Their very gaits and songs follow the same beats. I shamelessly listen while I ride; it helps me focus and the horses don’t seem to mind at all.
So today’s dose of sappiness involves celebrating my dear pets with the lyrics that make me think of them, with a heart of gratitude to the God Who should be punishing me.
This is from a random song my buddy Erin found on the Internet, “Dragonhearted” and it’s totally Arwen’s anthem. She’s the horse that never quits believing and it works for her. Misspelling absolutely intended, by the way.
This one is from a local artist, Elvis Blue’s “Lighthouse”. It’s something of homecoming and the graceful curves of the old, gold charger have always been that for me. A taste, perhaps, of what awaits us once we really get Home for good.
Basically anyone who knows Casting Crowns knows “Just Be Held”, which is all about the fact that God is holding onto us even when we’re too feeble even to grasp His outstretched Hand. That was a lesson I learned in no small part through God’s powerful use of Magic in my life.
MercyMe is a new one to me, but “The First Time” broke my heart. God’s mercy and grace are new every single day and undeserved every time, and just when I think I’ve seen the limit of His love, it turns out to be a false horizon, a hilltop from which a whole world of valleys and forests and fields of mercy rolls away in all directions into the everlasting. Thunder is a cherry on top, a blessing I don’t even need, but God saw fit to let me have him anyway. I feel so humbled.
As for Faith, Casting Crowns’s “Oh My Soul” has just always been her song. She arose from the sorrow of Nell’s sale and the tragedy of Rainbow’s death. And I can assure you that there will be dancing.
Dancing with horses, hand in hand with my King. Each step one waltz closer to our forever home.
Glory to the King.
Y’all know the drill by now: it was madness. Indeed it was. A happy mad jumble of riding, volunteering, lessons and challenges. I’m just going to go down my camera roll and blather. It’s something, right?
Thunder continues to work on the most basic things, most of which he’s already mastered, but with the whole year to do Prelim I aim to do it excellently. If I’d only worked harder on Arwen at Prelim I wouldn’t have to keep filling in holes at Elementary, and I won’t make the same mistake with this chap. And he’s soaking it up like a gigantic amiable sponge. Because it doesn’t hack and I generally don’t jump him, I’d think he’d get so bored he’d fall over. But he likes it; for all his behind-the-leg-ness, he’s got the most amazing work ethic.
We’ve sorted the right and left bend thing and stretched the trot. Now we’re concentrating on the quality of his canter. I’m teaching him to go and carry me powerfully forward with my leg completely off and today he had moments of tremendous power between my leg and hand. The stuff of goosebumps; dancing with my horse and my King.
Simple moments like these with my brave old charger light up my day. So blessed to still have her gracing our fields with full vim and vigour at her age.
The remains of a hapless blanket after the wind blew it into Magic and Xave’s field and the two of them shredded it. Luckily neither of them take blankets off each other, but blankets on the ground are apparently fair game.
Ashy is now at the point in her rehab where she can be ridden. She’s a total joy and now walking for ten minutes a day under L.
Rising star E had her first few lessons on Lisna, who does not disappoint. It took E a while to get used to Lisna’s tremendous stride but now they’re looking more harmonious.
She’s a lovely, big, quality mare and she gives me goosebumps –
– and E the kind of smiles we don’t see from our teens too often. These are the moments when I can taste God’s purpose for us.
Blizzard’s lunging is improving, although his first session on the long lines was less inspiring. He does take the bridle a lot easier than he used to.
My scared little kid has had such a terrible setback for no apparent reason. Such is phobia. We’re back to grooming, and Lady Erin is the only one with feet small enough for kiddo to lift by himself.
This is Savanna, our new TB (and by “our” I mean “a teenager’s”). She is only six but conducts herself like a quiet old hand. Sorry for the ribs, we’re covering them up. I don’t think she’s seen so much hay in her life – she’s apparently glued to the bale. First time I’ve ever seen a horse roll and eat at the same time.
This TB don’t need no more fattening. It’s getting embarrassing. His new psychological happy place is translating into a physical throughness and relaxation I’ve never felt before. It feels great.
Eagle has mostly been hacking and he’s lovely. He can have the odd stop and gawp at things, but never anything dramatic. He and Lancey went out with L and I, and both were totally relaxed. I even canter him around a bit on hacks and I’m not big on cantering outside on babies, but Eagle inspires confidence.
It was cold. Our dogs are spoiled. Photo captured in the split second between Ice sitting up and Ice becoming a blur towards the door.
Savanna was not amused by my offers of balancer; I had to mix it with grass pellets to get her eating. I’d say “gotta love thoroughbreds” only Faith did exactly the same.
My mighty dragon had gone through such a bad patch in terms of bend and connection that I called the chiro because she was so stiff through her neck (around C3). Of course, the day after I made the appointment, she suddenly went fifty times better. There’s still a hint of tightness there so we’ll see what the chiro says.
I sat on Skye for the first time in two or three years, the 40m from the stables to her fields, on a crazy little whim. She nearly launched me to Timbuktu but decided against it at the last moment. There’s such a fire in that horse’s soul.
Trooper has been wonderful. He figured out basic contact and connection so sweetly and is completely reliable on hacks alone and in company. Jumping, sadly, is another story. He’ll go between the uprights, he’ll even try leave the poles up, but he doesn’t really get that he can actually, you know… jump. He’ll figure it out when he’s ready.
Jamaica and I had a very stern discussion about brakes and now his willing attitude has slowly restored my nerve. He’s so good about jumping and listening most of the time, but some of the basics are really still missing. Lots of gymnastics and exercises in this one’s future.
I left Nugget’s halter off this morning. I think I’ll be able to catch her tomorrow… but I couldn’t cope with the rubbing and scruffiness anymore. She followed me afterwards and let me pet her without chewing my arm off or anything, so that’s hopeful.
Every morning I start with Nugget, and the whole time I’m grooming her, Faith marches up and down the fence and nickers to me. I think it’s just for the cookies she gets to stretch with, but it gives me the warm fuzzies either way.
Happy old farts: Skye (somewhere in her mid to late 20s) and Benjamin (rising 21). Both my seniors, both looking amazing. I hope I look like that when I’m their age in horse/donkey years.
Midas is mostly jumping with the kid, and I do the dressage. I’m somewhat giddy on the 68% we got last time and I really hope things pan out in such a way that we can get more of a warmup and score even better in two weeks’ time.
Lady Erin is well on her way to becoming a good citizen. She leads nicely, ties up, is lovely to groom, and stands for the farrier. Next topics: shots and loading.
I’m hoping this kid and Midas might become a permanent partnership. Their personalities and abilities are well suited, but she did have trouble getting him to go forward. Methinks the leg aids are higher up than he’s used to. We’ll keep trying and see how it goes; he’s been very safe.
Tried to get a selfie with a Night Fury and an overgrown puppy.
Also tried to get a picture of my three dance partners all lined up from biggest to smallest, but they kept following me and mugging me for treats. Love them anyway, or maybe because.
African sunrises and the love of horses. I am terribly loved.
Glory to the King.