Sunday, December 28, 2014

Frustrating things that are out of my control

I took a look at a barn on Friday as a temporary place to keep Gwyn after we move to Michigan.

You know how sometimes you get a vibe, whether about a person or a place? This place had a vibe. It was not a good vibe. So that's a setback. But as we've been driving all over Michigan looking at the houses on our Zillow list, I've been noting potential boarding barns.

Worst case scenario, Gwyn stays with people I trust until I have a house and land to support a horse and I deal with a severe horse withdrawal (Eric has promised me a YMCA membership if this arises).

It would also be a big bummer for the Distance Derby because that's potentially months where I'm not putting in miles on horseback. I didn't intend to be competitive mileage wise, but I was hoping to at least make a good effort and be held accountable.

Everything is still so up in the air it's frustrating. I want to know how much our house sells for so I can really search for houses out here and potentially buy so I can get Gwyn out ASAP.

I did get a quote back from Bob Hubbard. The trip from WA to MI routes through California, which makes frustrating sense because the passes are awful this time of year on I-90. But it makes the price about 2500, more than when I moved her from Florida. Ugh.

The place I used 3.5 years ago has since gotten some negative reviews online and it makes me hesitant to use them again even though I had a good experience. What would you do? I might still get the quote.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


I went out to ride today and found a reindeer!

It was crazy raining today, thank goodness for the covered arena. Gwyn was very wet but I dried her off and hopped on with the bareback pad. We worked on more seat aids with transitions and responsiveness to leg aids.

Gwyn has an issue where she's nice and light when asked to do a turn on the haunches but if I try and ask for a turn on the forehand she just backs up and backs up, or moves her front end, and gets supremely frustrated but she does everything except move her back end while leaving her front end still.

Knowing this, I did ask while riding for her hind end to move but got off a bit early and did some ground work trying to move her back feet and not her front. I can do it if I'm in front of her with just a bit of energy directed at her hip, but moving that to an under saddle cue has been difficult.

I stood at her side, on the ground, and held the reins in one hand and just pressed in with a finger behind the girth line, where I cue with my leg and only released when her hind legs moved. If she side passed, backed up, or otherwise moved her front end I didn't release the cue. She did have successful movement on both sides so I called it a day at that.

It was nice to ride. She got early dinner and I helped the staff bring horses in so they could go home and have their holiday celebrations with family.

She knows there's someone in the hay loft about to drop down her hay. 

I took out the braids.

And brushed her mane! She's back to looking more like a Friesian!

And here we have Gwyn know exactly where her hay comes from.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Holidays to One and All!

She'll wear the hat, but only certain ways. Otherwise you get a "not impressed, mom" look. HAHA

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lightbulb Moments

It can be hard to get out to the barn for me. I've got a 2.5 year old to contend with and who needs supervision. I don't feel safe letting her run around yet while I ride. When I found out that the barn owner's daughter could be present for the wednesday night clinic, however, I jumped at the chance to get out and ride and have my daughter watched so she doesn't fall through a hole in the hayloft in a horse stall, or something.

But this isn't about my daughter. This is about Gwyn. Lately the clinic has had two professionals on hand. The barn owner, and a lady who I'm not familiar with but has always given excellent advice and explained things well when I've seen her teach in the past. The clinic is about building blocks and basics and applying that eventually to under saddle work.

Tonight, we worked on getting our cues as soft and subtle as possible from moving into a walk from the halt, to halting, to turning with little to no contact on the mouth. I was bareback, as I've been since October, and I really felt that was beneficial to me tonight (aside from keeping me warm). Gwyn and I have a pretty good rapport with one another and Jim has long had me practice a soft halt off just seat aids with reins only as a "hey LISTEN" reminder. So for that portion, we worked on refining that.

Then we moved on to turning. We've got broader turns pretty much good, but it was the tighter ones where I'm still seeing some resistance. The second trainer suggested that I look across the shoulder opposite the side I want a turn, rather than looking in the direction I wanted to go like I was always taught in pony club.

Oh my god. Holy hell. Suddenly I had these gorgeous, soft, relaxed quarter turn on the haunches and could do tight spins around the horse ball in the arena. I would sit straight, look left, apply left leg slightly and boom, swing to the right and it felt SO RIGHT. But it's going to be a pain in the ass to break that habit, let me tell you. Then I just practiced swinging Gwyn all over the arena and it was fun and it was like I experienced a moment of freedom and clarity in my communication with her. Just remembering it makes my heart feel like bursting. Those are the moments I live for when I ride!

Another thing I should practice, is riding with one eye closed and then switching, to keep Gwyn straight. It changes my balance EVER SO SLIGHTLY and she responds to it. This horse is amazing and I love that even with how well we get on, I'm still learning to make it a better partnership. I want to be a rider that can bring out the best potential in her and tonight we took a step closer to that goal. Riding bareback also allowed me to focus just on my seat and feel my balance and how she moves. As much as I want a saddle so we can work on some more canter stuff, this is all good foundation, I need to keep reminding myself of that.

I love this horse so much. She gives me everything and more.

Arena ball playtime with the kidlet!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

WW: Gwyn after the recent snowfall

Washington Trail Riders Distance Derby

This is Gwyn. This particular blog will be chronicling all the details of our riding sessions and participation in the Distance Derby. The link to that can be found here,

Gwyn is an 8 year old Stonewall Sporthorse. She is half friesian, quarter percheron and quarter appaloosa and 100% spunk.  Her nickname is the Goober Pony.  I bought her from my friend Cheri in April 2011 and shipped her out to Washington State from Florida. I have known Gwyn since she was a yearling and have had the pleasure of doing a lot of the training of her, especially with the initial groundwork.

We have a great bond, one that I treasure and I look forward to documenting all the miles we ride for the distance derby. I'm also hoping that, like with NaNoWriMo, having a bit of competition will encourage me to get into the saddle more!