Wednesday, January 26, 2011

3' and 3'3 Jumper Rounds

At our Pony Club schooling show this past weekend, I did a few classes with McKinna - a 2'9 jumper class to warm up, then a 3' jumper and a 3'3 schooling round (since no one was around to do the class with me).

Can I just say that McKinna rocks?

It wasn't 100% perfect, but I will say this: McKinna was responsive and jumping well. AND, 3'3 looked small and easy and doable. This is a big deal for me! We JUST moved up to regularly jumping 3'3, and already it seems easy (height-wise). If you watch the videos, you'll see that McKinna actually got better distances in the 3'3 class than the 3' class (except for that nasty half-stride on the very last fence...oh well).
It's really exciting that the height I am looking to compete at this summer is already well within our range. Sure, we need to polish, and come summertime I want to be schooling at least 3'6 on a regular basis because I like to school a level above what I show, but still. To have this level this early in the season is really cool and makes me feel good about ratings and competitions this summer.

3' Jumper Class

I love how she makes those itty bitty turns and angled fences for me in the jumpoff. I felt bad about the trip after she landed from the purple fence, but another horse tripped there in a jumpoff too, so I think the ground was just a little compacted there.
PS, I got first place in that class. And I actually had like four other riders for competition! Very exciting.

3'3 Schooling Round

Stupid last fence. It was better the second time.

I am very pleased with my pony. She's getting more and more confident - usually at shows she is a little more tense (you can see her canter isn't super relaxed and flowing), but at least she's not hesitating off the ground as much and she is getting better about softening up laterally so we can make reasonable turns. 

Next schooling show is just in a couple weeks, so it should be a great chance to get a comparison ride.

The next order of business will be to just start a nice, steady conditioning program (as long as it's not pouring outside, anyway). The more strength she has, the more she will be able to generate the big rolling stride and the power that she needs to be able to launch over those bigger fences even more confidently - it will also help her get us out of weird spots more easily. I read an interesting post on Jim Wofford's (aka Eventing God, for those of you who aren't familiar with him) blog about conditioning for eventing. You can read it here, but basically he says Novice and Training horses should be able to do three reps of 4-minute slow canters by the time they start their competition season.
Long walks and slow canter sets, here we come!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

An Award! (Or Several)

I usually suck at picking up awards, but since so dang many of you posted on my last entry, I decided I'd be on top of my stuff today and actually pick them up!

So, without further ado: the Stylish Blogger Award.

Here are the rules:

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

Okay. So, I've received this blog from:
Chasing The Dream, Riding From the Ground Up, Nina's Story, Adventures in Colt (Filly) Starting, From Bones to Beauty, and Tucker the Wunderkind. Did I miss anybody??

Here's a few things about me. Goodness, what is there that you guys don't already know?

1. I'm a junior Biology major and school is a really, really big part of my life. I get A's, I love being in the Honors College where I can be in challenging cool classes, my advisor is amazing, and in general I love what I'm doing.

2. I have a cat named Rascal, who has long soft white fur with orange points. I also have a dog named Kuma, who is a 105-pound Rottie-Chocolate Lab cross with a heart-stopping death growl and an absolute puppy love for his people. Best dog ever.

3. I was a band kid in high school. Wind ensemble, jazz band, marching band, pit orchestra for the musical. I played trumpet, and for two years I was a drum major for our marching band. Joining band was one of the best things I ever did; it's where my closest friends are from, and I learned a lot about leadership and teaching during my time as a DM.

4. Once, I rode my horse through a Dairy Queen drivethrough. (Actually, my high school's whole equestrian team did.)

5. I have no clue what I want to do for a career, but I do know that I want to spend a couple years as a working student for an eventing barn after I graduate. General career interests: teaching, science, writing, horses. We just did a unit on scientific teaching/literacy in one of my classes, and it was really really interesting. Pedagogy for the win!

6. Project horses? I'm a sucker for them. I covet horses all. the. time. Sure, I have the most perfect horse in the history of existence. Sure, I really enjoy all the extra time and money that comes with only riding one horse. But, man...I see potential in horses. I imagine what they could be with six or nine months of proper conditioning, dressage training, lots and lots of nice hay, and an introduction to over-fences work. Little grulla ponies. Big TBs that move like warmbloods and are currently ridden western. 3 year old warmblood crosses. It never ends and I am hopeless. (Most of the time, I can restrain myself. When I can't, I do things like buy a 6 year old Appendix with a rearing history when I have a broken ankle..though we all know that one turned out well!)

7. I like sleep. A lot. I'm not lazy, my body just wants lots of sleep. 9 hours if possible. 10 is okay too. Anything less than a full 8 and I'm a sad panda for the day. I can fall asleep anywhere in about 5 minutes flat, which is great at horse shows or other situations in which napping can be beneficial. On the other hand...I'm in college. Sometimes, you gotta stay up late! I'm happiest in bed by 11, but sometimes I have to stay up late to finish something that I've been putting off, and those times it really sucks. In a perfect world, I'd go to bed at 11 and get up at 9 every day! Also, I really really really hate early mornings at horse shows. One benefit to moving up the levels is that I don't have to get up as early anymore, because the higher divisions go later =D there's 7 completely irrelevant facts about me. Now to tag more people! Lots of these blogs aren't new to me, and I can't hit 15 (a lot of you have already gotten this award!), but here's what I've got.

The Jumping Percheron
Talk to the Hoof
Wet Reins
Dapple of My Eye
Behind the Bit
Barn Door Tagz
Adventures of the $700 Pony

There you have it, folks. Check out those blogs, they are some cool people writing cool stuff.

Stay tuned for my 2011 goals! I know you are all dying to know what they are ;)

PS, we had the kick-assest (yes, I just made that a word) dressage lesson yesterday. McKinna is in heat or something and was really "up," actually calling out to the other horses and generally being kind of tense. But when I put her to work, man! All that extra energy comes shooting out as this gorgeous power. It took a little more effort than usual to get her trot work relaxed and soft, but when I did, she just let me squoosh into her and I felt like I could ask for anything. It's like plugging into an electrical socket or something, except with less pain.

And then, the canter work. Holy crap. She had real jump in her canter. Big, rolling, powerful, horse-not-pony strides. And to keep her from motorcycling, all I had to do was half-halt my outside and squeeze a little with my outside leg - and magically, easily, she softens on the outside rein and stands up and carries herself. I was cantering around with such a giant grin on my face that Leslie started laughing at me.

Seriously, though. In Leslie's words: "That wasn't just SOME of your best canter work, I think that was THE best canter work you've ever done."

We actually stopped after a half hour of work. After schooling some beautifully connected trot work, shoulders-in, haunches-in, leg yield, and gorgeous canter work, what more do you want? Not much!

It was a very good ride. Have I ever mentioned how much I love this horse? Because I love her. She is amazing, and the approximately 10 sugar cubes she got yesterday can attest to that fact.

Monday, January 17, 2011

2010 Goals Recap

Alright! Time to get started on these goals posts.

First, I want to review last year's goals. I already did a short progress check in October, and we were well on our let's see how things ended up.

1. Pass C-2 rating in Pony Club [passed in May]
2. Master Novice-level eventing [considered achieved in October]
2b. Begin to school some Training-level eventing
3. Clean tack consistently
4. Get a dressage saddle that fits Pandora and me [done before I sold her]
5. Kill the Judge Stand Monster for Pandora [untested - sold before I got to a schooling show]
6. Stick to a fitness schedule for myself
7. Take monthly progress reports

Okay, so it looks like goals 2b, 3, 6, and 7 were the only goals that remained open after October. Let's take a look at those ones!

2b. Begin to school some Training-level eventing
At this point, I am calling this goal officially PASSED! We have only schooled a few Training XC questions, but since that is our strongest phase, I'm okay with that for now. Our dressage has been kicking serious butt lately: not only have we introduced haunches-in, McKinna now LOVES doing it at the walk and is beginning to learn to do it softly at the trot too. Also, we introduced walk-canter transitions, and those went swimmingly the first time we practiced them. After looking at a video of our flatwork from the prep clinic (which I will post soon!), we are doing really well in just going along looking like we know what we're doing.
As far as Stadium, we are moving right along there, too. 3'3 looks perfectly manageable, and it rides like that too. In our lesson on Saturday Devin had everyone working on dropping the hands lower for an automatic release, and it felt great - video of that coming soon too! And Devin's always got some crazy bending lines and angled fences in her lessons, plus this time we had a triple combination, so I think it's safe to say we are schooling Training-level SJ.

3. Clean tack consistently
Um, right. About that. I was more consistent than last year, which is a plus. But it definitely wasn't consistent. So, FAIL for this one. As I consider adding this goal to this year's list, I think: does it really matter? And I come to the conclusion that no, it doesn't. My tack gets cleaned probably once a month. Is that ideal? No. But I take good care of my stuff, it never gets grossly dirty, and it never takes more than a damp sponge with a little bit of Effax Ledercombi to get it clean. So not only do I declare this goal failed, I declare it not particularly relevant, because once a month is good enough for me!

6. Stick to a fitness schedule for myself
Not so much here either - another FAIL. Last year I really sucked at working on my own fitness. However, this one IS going to make it onto the current year's list, because one of the biggest things I took away from the Prep Clinic was the need to improve my core and lower leg strength. Luckily I am already making progress on this: I am in a Yoga class this term at the University, and I just ordered some Yoga DVDs with a Borders gift card, including one that's focused on core strength. Yay me!

7. Take monthly progress reports
Sigh...another FAIL. I pretty much didn't take progress reports. I think this is partly because I didn't have monthly goals - everything I had was either long-term (begin to school Training) or ongoing (clean tack consistently). So I will take this into consideration for the structure of this year's goals, which are going to include monthly goals to provide a checkpoint.

So there we have it, folks! Obviously we were highly successful in all riding/training goals and not so much in the personal responsibility ones. That's okay, though - it shows me what I need to work on.

Just for kicks, let's take a look at what things were like over the last year.We have made some really amazing progress, in my humble opinion.

In January, I took McKinna to our very first dressage lesson with Leslie because Pandora had just hit her head on our trailer. When Leslie saw McKinna's canter, she said, "Oh my." I went to the Pony Club ABC retreat and learned a lot of interesting things. And finally - perhaps most significantly - I revisited the idea of selling Pandora so that I could finally explore McKinna's potential. (Not such a bad idea, eh?)

In February, we had our very first jumping lesson with Devin. I took a deep breath and decided that the real world can wait, and after I graduate in a couple years I want to be a working student for awhile. At our JJPC schooling show, Pandora and I jumped our first 3' course together.

March saw yet more progress, though it was a light posting month because I was in the misery class of doom (AKA, Organic Chemistry 2). McKinna elicited numerous comments from jumping trainers about how nicely she jumped, despite that canter. And I mused: why horses?

April came along and Pandora was doing great in jumping and dressage lessons. At last, Pandora went up for sale on Dreamhorse. And I rode McKinna in the Show Jumping Rally, where despite a minor meltdown I was very pleased with her.

Spring was in full swing and May was a big month for us. First I passed my C-2 rating on McKinna! A few days later, after almost two years together where we made a lot of progress, we sold Pandora and she went off to her new and perfect home. McKinna and I had some ups and downs. I returned home from the Inavale camp, where my dad took my favorite picture ever.

In June, I had an interesting ride at the Eventing Derby. I finally wrote up a more thorough Eventing Camp Report. I rode in my first recognized Horse Trials at Inavale (!!!!), where we had a reasonable dressage score, one of only 2 double-clear rounds XC (including our first ever trakehner!), and then got devoured by the horse-eating piano fence in stadium for a sad elimination.

In July I supported National Helmet Awareness Day, groomed for Devin at the wonderful, educational, exhausting Event at Rebecca Farm, and got a happy update from Pandora's owner.

August was another busy month, in which I attended Quiz Championships in California, decided that I love dressage, and was seriously jet-lagged when I returned from an awesome 10-day trip to Taipei. 

In September things kept improving. McKinna and I had a great jumping lesson and played around with some clicker work just for fun. We had a great ride in a schooling show, then kicked butt at the eventing rally, with video of dressage and stadium.

October saw a chiropractor visit after a less-than-stellar XC school, followed by the conclusion that she definitely needed it. I spent some time thinking about how lucky I am.

In November I got tired of mud. Now aiming for our C3 in August, McKinna and I went to our first Upper Level Prep Clinic. I discovered that I can, remarkably, ride pretty much an entire lesson in sitting trot. And it snowed!

Finally, in December, I celebrated the end of Fall Term (at last!), continued to have a great time riding McKinna, jumped our first ever 3'3 course together - which McKinna rocked, of course - had the jumping saddle reflocked, and spent some great time with my family over the holidays.

What an awesome year. I can't believe that in January and February of last year, I was just taking my first lessons with Devin and Leslie! Just trying to get McKinna to soften to the bit a tiny bit...working hard on Pandora and deciding to sell Seems like forever ago.

I can't wait to show you guys my goals for this year. It's going to be even better than last year!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pony Club Prep Clinic

I rode in an upper level prep clinic this weekend with Jen Verharen, a Pony Club national examiner. Though it was miserably cold (come on, weather, we're in Oregon, not north Idaho!), the weekend was quite the success and I absolutely loved working with Jen. She is one of the highest-quality clinicians I have ridden with in recent times - extremely thorough, has a great eye for what horse and rider need, super friendly, and really dedicated to helping Pony Clubbers through the rating process. I've got videos and maybe some pictures, so I'll see what I can get uploaded.

Upper level preps are designed to help PCers make the jump from club-level ratings (D1 through C2) to the national ratings (C3 through A). The certification process for examiners is more extensive, the expectations of candidates are a lot higher, and I know in the past (maybe still?) Pony Club has sometimes had issues with kids coming to their first national test at C3 being unprepared for the rigor of a national rating. Thus, prep clinics! You ride with a national examiner, get traditional clinic-type feedback focused on the progress you need to make to prepare for your rating, and you're able to ask questions about how you compare to the rating standard on that particular day.

We rode twice each day, and we had a wonderful goal-setting discussion with Jen on Saturday evening. More on that later. I am a C3 candidate: this means I am expected to have an independent and very secure seat, confidence and control on the flat, over fences, and on XC, proficiency at relating my flatwork to the dressage training scale while discussing it, a developing training ability, and so on. The test is basically equivalent to Training-level eventing, an in fact one requirement is that we ride the USEA Training Test A.

Other requirements include the switch rides, in which you must show confidence, control, and free forward movement on another candidate's horse. You also have to jump another candidate's horse over a 3' course, and evaluate your rides. The courses you jump on your own horse are 3'3, plus you jump through a grid set at 3' with no stirrups.

So that's the context of the prep clinic. McKinna was, as one would expect, a rock star.

Saturday Dressage: Jen had two big pieces of feedback. One, I am a very effective and tactful rider, so now I need to develop my position to be more "elegant." This involves stretching my legs longer downward (thus stretching those darned tight hips!) and sitting taller without the slight forward tip I tend to get. No comments about my elbows though, huzzah! The second piece was about McKinna, who was kind of "sticking" in her transitions both up and down. She sort of flows along nicely, then braces and stops the energy for just a second when I ask for a transition before she complies.

We addressed both of these at once: I got to drop my stirrups, and also make McKinna much quicker through the transitions, keep her prompt and that energy shooting straight through. I was skeptical, and a little concerned...I have worked so hard to get and maintain relaxation from McKinna that I really didn't want to throw it away by getting her worked up about snappy transitions. Still, I went ahead with what Jen said, and in the end it worked out marvelously. After sorting out an initial 5-10 minutes of McKinna getting a little anxious and tense, I learned how to relax my hips and sort of squoosh myself into her while still sitting tall, and McKinna responded by keeping her energy forward and free through the transitions without becoming tense. Cool stuff.

Saturday Jumping: this was alll about me, because my pony is basically perfect. Essentially, my lower leg has gotten WEAK, and I let McKinna talk me into not using it because she tends to rush if I have it on snugly. My orders were to get that leg out in front of me a bit more and keep that calf on! I was able to make a huge improvement once Jen showed me what she meant. I think I have just let it slip now that I'm not as strong as I was over the summer, and I needed a reminder of what exactly to do. She said it was much much better, I just needed to keep practicing so it was a natural and easy thing.

We also jumped through the 3'ish grid with no stirrups. OW, OW, OW. The landings are not soft! It is difficult to keep your legs up in jumping position with no stirrups, not to mention keeping your calf on! It is hard to keep the upper body tall with strong core! Again, I made improvement, and McKinna was a total gem about cruising straight through the grid without a care in the world, but man. I clearly have some core and leg strengthening to do. Too bad the superfit Stacey isn't close enough to whip me into shape ;-)

Sunday Dressage: switch rides! Also, we had a little trouble with relaxation at the beginning, and Jen noted that McKinna tends to lock up in her poll before anywhere else. She often does it very subtly, but it leads to the rest of her body stiffening too. We worked briefly on small wrist movements to encourage her to let go in the poll, which resulted in relaxation elsewhere too. One more tidbit of information.

Anyway, the switch riding was very educational. I rode a big, slow, somewhat stiff warmblood gelding (exactly the type I knew I needed to practice, which Jen confirmed!) the first time. He did not want ANYTHING to do with softening! Eventually I discovered that I had to really use my outside aids, keeping him turning, to get the hind end to come up underneath him and once I got him there I could soften and he would soften back. He had gorgeous gaits. The second horse, a really really nice TB gelding, was further along (his rider is going for her B, the next step above C3) and I guess I just didn't know what to do with a horse with that much training! I did some leg yields back and forth to encourage him to keep his outside shoulder under control, and cantered some smaller circles focusing on turning off the outside shoulder. I had to shorten up my reins to really get him working.

Jen's feedback: my rides were fine for C3 level, and I need to just keep working on riding tons of horses so that I can be a little quicker to pick up what I need to do on them and a little more assertive in the saddle about what I am doing. She said my analysis of my rides was very good.

McKinna's switch rides, incidentally, were pretty good too. It was really nice to see other people having positive, soft rides on her! Not 100%, but still pretty darn nice. It's nice to know I won't ruin someone else's C3 by having the impossible horse to ride...

Sunday Jumping: coursework. All the horses and riders were, in a nutshell, totally wiped out and not on their top game - me and McKinna included! We hit that point where she kind of scooted around instead of really reaching out in her canter, I couldn't see a distance to save my life, I couldn't seem to keep my leg on, and it just didn't work out so well. Because she is a rock star we had no stops or anything silly, just not-the-prettiest courses. Still, if my position had been solid, it would have been an adequate ride for C3, and we jumped around the 3'-3'3 height with no issues. It's nice to know that even on our worst, exhausted days we can still make it around a course looking reasonable, but it was definite confirmation that I need to work on my strength. It is early in the season for all of us, so I think horses and riders just aren't quite up to this level of intensity yet. We'll be there by the next prep clinic.

The overall takeaway: we're on the right track! I really need to work on my overall strength, mainly my core and my ability to keep my leg on. Jen said she would really like to see McKinna more accepting of the leg by the next time she sees me, which will be in April at the next prep clinic I'm riding in. She says we are an excellent pair and we're working on all the right stuff. 

That being said, I'm already working on the fitness stuff. One of my classes this term is yoga (oh yes!) and oh my goodness, I almost died today. I must be really out of shape, because I swear it wasn't that hard a few years ago! Lots of plank to side-angle pose, high leg lunges (LOTS of those) and warrior pose. And more plank. So this will be good for me! I'm thinking of taking another yoga and/or a martial art PE class in the Spring. We'll see...

I'll talk more about the goal-setting session we did soon, which ties in nicely to my own goals, which I've finally mostly ironed out! About time since we're already almost halfway through January, eh?

Pony got a WELL-deserved day off today. I poked my head in tonight and saw that she managed to get herself thoroughly muddy again. Oh well. I went for my first real ride on the young horse I'm working with! We longed, I leaned on the saddle a bit, mounted up, and off we went. I had a ground helper with a longe whip to swish, because obviously the mare doesn't know about leg signals yet, and it was a great success. She was very calm, willing, not wigged out by my legs at all, and while not as forward as I'd like she wasn't horribly slow either. A very successful first real ride, in my book!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Time Off: A Great Tool!

Remember how in my last post I said I wasn't too worried about McKinna having a light month last moth, since she usually comes back well after a break?

I love it when I'm right.

At our dressage lesson last night with Leslie, McKinna was back and better than ever. She felt free and swinging in her shoulder, and generally focused on the task at hand. Together we're really developing a feeling of straightness in the trot: Leslie uses the image of one of those little levels sitting on her withers. Will the bubble be in the center? At the trot, yes it is. And I am consistently able to develop more of a trot lengthening without losing suppleness or freedom through the shoulder.

Best of all, remember the first baby steps of haunches-in that we were trying out? Well, I haven't really practiced it. Mostly because I have barely ridden! But at the lesson last night, when Leslie had me ask for haunches in, McKinna just said, "Right. Got it. What next?"

I mean, it wasn't exactly that easy. It still takes some effort to get her to hold the correct positioning, and my mind has to jump around to a bunch of different things to fix - keep her supple, ask for inside bend, outside leg on to keep the haunches in, don't forget the FORWARD. Reminds me of our early attempts at shoulders-in. But the important part is that she now understands what I am asking for and she tries to give it to me. How she figured it out I'll never know.

Leslie even had me ask for a little travers to renvers - haunches-in to haunches-out. When I have more energy I'll explain the two thoroughly, but for now my understanding is this: haunches-in, you move the haunches to the inside of the forelegs while continuing forward and the horse is bent in direction of travel (i.e., when tracking right, the haunches travel to the right of the forelegs while maintaining right bend). Renvers is opposite, moving the haunches left and maintaining left bend while tracking right. I think.

The switch from travers to renvers was rather wiggly and I'm sure I contorted my body into all kinds of crazy positions, but we got the idea. That's the exciting part. Leslie commented that we are well on track to have a really successful season.

So maybe some time off isn't such a bad thing for your horse's training. Granted, McKinna went out every day in a big old pasture with 2 - 4 other mares, and still got ridden once or twice a week. Locking your pony in a stall for three weeks may not produce the same results. But if your horse is in a situation that allows an outlet for excess energy (e.g. turnout), maybe don't feel so guilty next time you end up really busy and barely ride for two or three weeks.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First Ride! (Sort Of)

I haven't talked about it at all, but I'm working with my barn owner's young horse. She's a very sweet young mare, and also very feisty and intelligent. And MAN, can she throw in some athletic bucks! I think that's why my barn owner asked me to put 30 days on her ;)

So I've been methodically figuring out what I'm doing. Before me she'd been saddled and ground-driven twice, and liked to throw in big buck/spin/rear moves on the longe but was otherwise pretty obedient and chill. I decided to take things pretty slow at first, just to make sure I wasn't leaving any holes or rushing a young horse too much.

First of all, this girl LOVES to work. She nickers at me when I walk up to her stall. She actually stands at the tie rail and fusses around until I start tacking her up, at which point she settles down and stands still. Very cute. (Still irritating, but cute.)

We've made a lot of progress. She still doesn't like to canter on the longe, but bucking incidents are down to almost 0, and when she does it's just a little hop because she's mad that I made her canter, not full-blown bronc kicks. She'll back up and stay politely out of my space. She'll walk, trot, and halt almost totally off voice commands. No more humping her back at the girth - the first day all I had to do was pat my hand on her belly and she'd look uncomfortable, and the first time I saddled her she tried to roll with my saddle! She carries a bit, even though I work her off a rope halter or side pull. No need to go to the bit, but she's so darn mouthy I think having something in her mouth helps her focus.

And, most excitingly, I sat on her for the first time last night!! I was the first person on her back! It was a very cool moment. I have been leaning on the saddle for a couple days now and practicing giving to the reins with the sidepull. She couldn't care less about me leaning on the saddle, and she'll do the "one rein stop" move very politely. So last night, with my mom standing nearby, I leaned on the saddle, slid my leg over, and then sat up.

Filly went, "...and your point is?"

She didn't care at all, though she is still so mouthy she wanted to turn around and chew on my toes. We didn't walk at all, but she took a few steps one time when I asked her to bring her head around. I dismounted and remounted a couple times uneventfully, and called it good for the night.

It was very exciting. We definitely still have a lot to work that I've been in the saddle and it only takes about 15 minutes to tack up and longe quietly to confirm obedience, I think I will make a grand return to ground work and iron out some kinks as well as do a lot more ground driving. The mouthiness, while improved, needs to be toned down a lot. And I want to work on her leading, she tends to want to trail along behind.

Anyway. I just wanted to share my triumph with you. I think I'll go read through Mugwump's archives for some baby-training ideas.

McKinna, who has had a pretty light month between finals and winter vacation, is getting kicked back into full-time work today. We're off to a lesson with Leslie, then a Pony Club prep clinic this weekend, a lesson with Devin, our club's schooling show, and another "lesson" with Leslie in the form of a clinic that my club is putting on. Whew! McKinna isn't going to know what hit her! Luckily she's still been in light work, getting ridden a couple times a week and lots of turnout, so I doubt she's lost much fitness if at all. Maybe I'll ask Leslie to take it easy on her tonight...though probably the person who needs an easier lesson is me!

Still thinking about my goals. I'll get back to you on those.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Welcome to 2011, everyone! Today is my last day of break before I start classes again. True to form, I've got about 25% of the work done on my short story that is due tomorrow. Go me! Oh's cooking along okay, but I do wonder why I do this to myself.

Oh, right. Because winter break is supposed to be a BREAK, and I spent time at the barn and hanging out with my family.

One bonus of winter break: the boy is around! And when the boy is around, I drag him out to the barn and he takes nice pictures for me. I'm currently stewing on my goals for the year and that will definitely be a post soon, as well as an evaluation of my 2010 goals.

McKinna finally has a halter as gorgeous as she deserves. It will definitely be a clinic/show halter only, but it is beautiful. I swear that was my FAVORITE part of Christmas, buying that for my mom. It was so hard to wait the month and a half after I bought it for her to open it!

 Also, McKinna was in heat last week. In DECEMBER. This is her cuddling with the handsome TB gelding who lives next to her. He's a very sweet boy and athletic as hell - very fun to ride.

 Have I mentioned before how much of a ho McKinna is when she's in heat? Any other time she won't give the geldings the time of day, but when she's in heat, she's all for it. That's great and all, but I want those blankets to stay in one piece!

 My favorites. Mom with her pony! Even though I ride McKinna as my main horse, it is very good to remember that she belongs to my mother and I am really, really lucky to be able to ride such a kickass horse.

Goals post up soon. In the meantime, I have a story to finish..
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