Hi there, just wanting to keep my blog active! Not too much going on at all lately. I rode my lease horse on Thursday evening and he was a wonderful boy. I think he’s slightly bummed that he’s all alone on the property now. He spent the last 6 days at his owner’s friend’s farm with several horses so he’d have company, but he came back home for the weekend and will go back next week. While he’s home, he’s the only horse anywhere as far as the eye can see. So he seems a little extra happy to have company, and was very very good for me.
He was, for a little while, maybe 2 or 3 days (considering I’ve only ridden on 5 occasions, including this most recent ride) giving me trouble bridling him – for some reason he wouldn’t let me near his right ear, which he didn’t do the first time or two I rode him. He did not give me any problems at all with his right ear this time, and in fact, let me rub it a little while he lowered his head. Maybe that was random luck or maybe it was a good sign. I think he had a cut/bug bite on his ear that was bothering him. My husband actually had been the one to notice a very slight daub of blood on the outside of his ear at the horse show, and we assumed something was there that was giving him grief, so he was giving me grief.
I look very forward to riding him on Tuesday night in my first lesson on him with my trainer. I am not sure at this point if I will try to jump him, I guess I’ll see how it goes, but maybe trotting back and forth over some crossrails wouldn’t be a bad thing to try. I love riding this horse, but so far I’ve only ridden him on the flat, and I do plan on jumping him. I would hope to show him in some hunter classes, but I need to get lots of time of consistent jumping in on him before I try that. But first I need to even see if I can jump him. I’ve jumped lots and lots and lots of thoroughbreds before, and for the most am capable of getting them around a 2’6″- 2’9″ course, with the right instruction. I used to have a big black thoroughbred:
That I had jumped fairly consistently at 3′ and even schooled 3’6″ and jumped him 4′ one time. Boy do I wish I had ANY pictures or video at all of me riding and jumping this horse, but I don’t. I never really had anyone to take pictures – everyone at the barn was usually riding and my instructor was, of course, instructing!! This was back in the day – back in 2002, which now seems so long ago that I’ll never have back what I had then. I was THIN for starters, had much more confidence than I do now, and was working more consistently with more horses and jumping higher than I know I ever will again. In those days, I was riding my own horses, I had a brief few months when I owned two horses at once, and was riding every day more than one horse, including just about every one of the school horses at the barns I had boarded at between 1998 and 2003 when I moved.
I got very very good back then, having so much access to so many horses. You learn to ride when you’re on horses of every make and size and training level. It helps, though, to have the “good horse” to go back to. Right now, since I find myself horseless, only able to ride once a week or less, I don’t have a “good horse” to go back to when things go wrong and say “ok, it’s not me, just a bad ride”. Last year I was offered to ride a polo mare at the barn where I board now. Last year I was hoping to be able to ride or exercise pretty much every horse at the barn – there’s about 30 of them, and there’s only maybe 3 that worked consistently (including our 2 ponies). So, I get on this tiny little polo mare – a 6 yr old thoroughbred who had been off the track a few months. She was barely 15hands and so petite I felt like there was nothing to her and nothing to hold onto. She also has her mane roached so there was literally nothing to hold on to, and when she bolted with me and twisted herself to the inside, I came right off like I’ve never ridden before. I slammed into the ground and couldn’t move for minutes. Several hours later, when I was bleeding urine I figured I should go to the hospital.
So, going from riding all the time on horses just like that and worse and better, to not being able to stay on for 10 minutes was a real bummer. And without a “good horse” to go back to, I decided I wasn’t going to pursue my hopes of working the horses at the barn. When another lady there offered for me to ride her 2 rank thoroughbreds, one of which is a known rearer-and-flipper-over, I said no way no how. I’ve never been a gung-ho rider (one that will ride anything no matter what), because of my experiences with my very first lessons in English riding. My confidence was always fragile from the start, but there was a time when I would ride mostly anything, and now that 10 years or so have passed, I am very particular about what I want to ride. Lack of training doesn’t bother me so much, but the manners and attitude of the horse are of major importance.
I can think back, all the way to when I was 13 and took my very first riding lesson on Windbreaker. There was a mare at the barn, Tammy, a palomino mare that I loved. I just thought she was beautiful. She was a boarder horse and not available for lessons. One time, while I was trying to learn to sit a jog while holding on to the saddle horn, I remember the owner riding Tammy and beating the crap out of her with the end of the reins and ripping her head sideways because Tammy was not doing something the owner wanted her to do. I wished I could ride Tammy and had these illusions in my head that she would be absolutely perfect for me.
There was one time when I was feeding her in the pasture (her owner said I could), and several other horses all gathered around to get treats too. I didn’t realize the danger I was in – as a lesson student with no real experience- someone probably should have told me not to be there. But anyway, the horses began to fight as they tend to do over food when you have half a dozen of them in a tight circle around one person. I was inches away from flying hooves and Tammy actually moved herself in front of me and got the other horses to leave. One of them zapped themselves on the electric fence in the fracas and that caused more panic, but I was OK, thanks to Tammy. I’ll never forget that.
I didn’t ride very long at all at that barn and I left Tammy behind. I still have a picture of her actually, but I’m sure, since that was 18 years ago, she is long passed by now.
After many months off, I came back to riding the summer I turned 15. I got my dad to drive me back and forth to a barn slightly closer to home, but still a good 20 minutes away, for some lessons. This was a very rich looking barn, and indeed was, the most expensive boarding stable in the area – almost double what everyone else charged. At this barn, the trainers there were Olympic level, so they were probably the most experienced trainers in the area, too… but that does not always mean they are the right trainers for absolutely everyone.
For the life of me I cannot recall the name of the lesson horse I rode, which wasn’t really a lesson horse at all. This was an eventing barn, and the horse I was riding was a 9 or 10 year old thoroughbred that shouldn’t have had someone like me on his back. I didn’t realize, at this point, the difference between English and Western, and I had no idea what the trainer was talking about when she told me I needed to get riding boots. She was annoyed with me from the start, though, that I remember. She was not pleased that I didn’t buy riding boots, and I couldn’t keep my heels down or legs quiet and I bounced everywhere. I had never ridden English before, and had only ridden Western for half a summer 2 years before that. My lessons were not good and not fun. The instructor actually made me ride in clogs once, because she said she couldn’t tell with the boots I was wearing, if my heels were down or not and she wanted to see my heels. And then she laughed at me because my socks were those short little anklet ones and there was a bit of skin showing between the end of my pants and the top of my sock. After a few frustrating lessons which she was clearly sick and tired of teaching me up, down, up, down, up down, heels down, she put crossrails up in front of me and had me trot them. I was trotting jumps at this point before I had ever learned to trot properly or even canter. When she did finally tell me to ask my horse to canter, I did, following the guidance of my great instructor- whose expensive price and snobby, nose up aura clearly meant she was better than everyone else. I cantered, bouncing EVERYWHERE, I had never cantered a horse before. And while the instructor is telling me what might as well have been greek, something about brushing the saddle with your rump and rocking with the horse’s motion, this eventing horse decided it was just going to be more entertaining to just bolt.
So back when I was 15, barely any rides to my name, I experienced my first bolting thoroughbred. He took off out of control around the arena and then, of course, to make matters worse, while the trainer is standing in the middle telling me to tell the horse whoa, he trips! He tripped in a hole dug by one of the many dogs allowed to do whatever they wanted around the farm. He launched forward and I went flying. I went over his head, in front of him and between his front legs and as I let go of the reins and he regained himself, he took off forward, half jumping over me and half stepping on me. I had a huge horse shoe shape on my right inner thigh from where the horse stepped on me, and boy was I AFRAID after that.
After my leg was a little better, I actually went back to that barn and tried again. She put me on an old mare, a true school horse and she put me on a lunge line. So only after my incident did she finally try teaching me the way any beginner should learn. But I refused to trot, and was to scared to even try to direct the horse myself or anything and the instructor told me I could no longer ride at that barn because I was not a good fit for the program.
Years more went by – many years. I was now 18, and had the ability to drive myself to lessons. So when someone I met who had horses referred me to a barn to take lessons at, I went. And I met Lady. (http://willowtreephotos.webs.com/ladysstory.htm). Feel free to read all about Lady.
She was the love of my life, and that’s when my riding really began. I also rode a couple other horses at that barn… Dizzy and Rocky and I think I might have ridden Silver once. I rode one quarter horse gelding that I can’t remember the name of, and I also rode Witch. LOL. Yep her name was actually Witch. And you know, she wasn’t half bad. She was a good girl, but her owner was very scared of her. Witch was a rich copper mare with a big white blaze and she was so good we actually used her in summer camp one year and her owner couldn’t believe it. Witch had little kids on her that had never ridden before and she did fine. I can say I liked Witch, once you got past the stall aggression and food aggression and general bad manners. I also did pony parties with Molly and Skye, two little shetlands. Skye eventually got sold and Molly ended her life in torment and cruelty. Molly went blind and since she couldn’t be used for pony parties anymore, her owners, the barn owners, left Molly in her stall to rot away. They never trimmed her feet again and never did her mane or let her outside. By the time she died, she was thin, disgusting looking, had elf shoes from her overgrown hooves and was just miserable and suffering. I had moved lady before Molly died, but I heard about it.
When I moved Lady, for her protection, because even I knew how bad that barn was,I took her to a barn only 15 minutes from home. She had been about 1/2 hour from home before. I took care of Lady every day even though I couldn’t ride her. At that barn, there were about 70 horses. I got to ride probably half of them. There were about 20 school horses, and while I can’t remember the names of them all, I remember riding Demi, Absolute (I loved him), Bonnie, Spiffy,…. oh there were so many more. And some ponies I rode too.. Tucker? I think maybe was one? A little bay pony.. anyway, I also rode many of the boarder horses for them when they were out of town or what not. And then the barn got in Lickety Split. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMOjHOhUfVA) Not long after Lady died, I had become so fond of Lickety that I bought him when he was offered to me. I loved him so much.
He made my confidence grow and explode. Lickety and I moved up from being rank and unridden and full of bucks and tripping and discombobulation to being agile and excellent at jumping. I learned to truly ride on Lady, but I learned to truly jump on Lickety. We went from flopping horribly over crossrails to finally navigating 3′ courses in 2 steady years of riding. We showed often and I wish I had video and pictures from those shows – those memories are just in my mind now. He boosted me to new levels. We moved to a new barn to train with a truly great instructor, and while there, I rode just about every single horse in the barn – there were about 30, and I rode probably 20 of them consistently. Every school horse, most boarder horses and mostly every sale horse and trial horse that came in.
In my blossoming abilities and overgrown self confidence, I bought a young jumper prospect- a 4 year old off the track that had sat in a pasture for a year. And I sold Lickety because I couldn’t afford 2 horses anymore and I knew Lickety wouldn’t make it as a jumper – he barely made it as a hunter. And for as well as we jumped and as good as we did at shows, we rarely won because we were beaten by thoroughbreds and warmbloods. I really wanted to continue competing at and above the level I was at, so I bought something I thought would take me there. And despite all the instruction in the world, I just couldn’t control this young thoroughbred. He scared the life out of me and I sold him too.
I bought another thoroughbred, an 8 year old mare, and she ruined her hip in the trailer. After months of rehab I finally got on her and she ran around the arena bucking like a rodeo bronc. I couldn’t ride her and was too scared to try, so I sold her too. And then I bought my black thoroughbred I pictured above. I owned him for 2 years or so, and moved to Georgia with him. We had been good at jumping but that horse had some explosive personality traits and slowly I lost control of him. By the time I had him in my backyard where I was living in GA, and riding the other horses on the property, too, that horse had become so barn sour he was uncontrollable. Out of frustration, and another long move, I sold him.
I realize I’m really making this a long entry… hmmm.. I’ll cut the rest short. After I moved from GA, with my new husband, all the riding I had done in the past, was for nothing. I barely rode again after that, never got consistent with jumping anymore. I had learned quite a bit of dressage with Lickety and continued that with the horses I rode in Georgia, but once I moved away, I never maintained consistency again at all. Over the last 7 years, I’ve owned 3 more horses, NiteLite, Tate, and Spyder, and rode several other horses, from lesson horses to lease horses to other boarder’s horses, but never got back to where I was with Lickety.
It was all so hard to come by and it all went away so fast. I hope this new lease horse works out. I hope I can jump him sanely and safely and I hope my confidence returns back to what it was, and I hope that maybe I’ll find myself another “Lickety” and “Lady” again someday.
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