I have lots of news to share – including riding Arwen at a showing show this week where she won practically every class she walked into, in true Dragonmare style – but being a little pressed for time at 5:44am on a Saturday (freelancing means you work your own hours), here are ten questions by the lovely L. from Viva Carlos.
1. Favorite quirk your horse (or a horse you’ve spent time with) has?
There are many! For Thunder, though, I love that he always comes up to me in the field -always has, ever since he was just a foal. And I also love that he poops right before going into the wash bay, every single time lol. It’s better than pooping IN the wash bay!
2. Three adjectives that perfectly describe your horse?
Kind. Willing. Loyal.
3. Plan your next ride. What will you do/work on?
My next ride will probably be on Tilly, doing a ton of transitions to get her a little more relaxed and into the bridle than she has been of late. Balance is always a thing for Tilly. If I have time, I’ll pop on Lancelot as well and we’ll do what we’ve been doing all winter: trot in figure-eights trying to find balance.
4. Have you ever trained an OTTB? If yes, what was the biggest challenge?
A few, but not with as much success as bringing on the babies. Magic, obviously, was a complete disaster, but that wasn’t all my fault. I also did the first few rides restarting Milady after the track and being a broodmare. Honestly, to my mind the biggest challenge is that almost every single one of them has some kind of a physical issue. Not all of them are chronic, although I think a huge proportion come off the track with KS, but honestly I think all of them have ulcers and tightness through the body at the very least. They can still make fabulous horses but retraining an OTTB is a very different beast from bringing on a baby, and I definitely prefer the babies.
5. Have you ever groomed or worked for a professional rider?
No, unless you count exercising horses for K in exchange for lessons – which was awesome and the only reason I made it through Module 4.
6. Favorite horse and rider combination?
Oh, it would have to be Charlotte and Blueberry, wouldn’t it? Despite her recent oops at Rotterdam, Charlotte remains one of the quietest riders out there in the ring today. And my favourite thing about watching Valegro isn’t really the fact that he’s utterly perfect (which he is), but his expression. I love his floppy ears and quiet tail. He’s just a happy bro doing his thing.
On the local circuit, I like watching K ride – she is picture perfect.
7. Have you ever ridden a horse at the beach?
8. If you could experience the equestrian community (i.e. ride and compete) in another country, what country would you choose and why?
Definitely the UK. It’s turned out some of the best riders in the world, with some of the kindest philosophies. For good stable management, the British are kind of unrivaled.
9. In your opinion, what is an item of tack that is given unnecessary hype?
The crank/flash combination that’s so “in” in dressage right now. I like the crank look, and truly if you’re going to pull a crank too tight you’d probably pull a cavesson tight too (just don’t be a cow to your horse and pull on the noseband, m’kay?) but the flash is just a truly useless piece of equipment. You can’t put it on kindly because it drops off the nose. If the horse really does resist by opening the mouth (and not just because you have ugly hands), then I find an old-fashioned drop to be a much kinder option. It can be loose enough to allow plenty of movement and just discourage really gaping and taking off like some horses regrettably do.
10. What was the first horse you rode called? Are they still alive?
I have a picture of a pony that I rode at a party when I was super tiny (like, not yet walking), but I don’t know his name. The first riding school pony I rode with any regularity was called Prinsie. I think he’s passed on by now, but I had the chance to ride him a few more times when I was a teenager and he was still joyously running away with everyone who rode him.
Soon I’ll have show photos of Arwen to share along with her latest collection of accolades, and then Thunder, Christopher and I have a lesson at J’s tomorrow, so many stories to follow.
Glory to the King.