Monday, 28 March 2016


The apocolypse is nigh.  I've started jogging. 

I'm not designed for jogging.  I have a (pre)history of tripping and falling on flat ground, at a walk. (Scuff, SPLAT, "She's down again...")  I've even managed to sprain an ankle while standing still.  And yet, here I am ... trying to jog ... again.    Last time I tried jogging was with my sister.  1 min walk/1 min jog alternating.  I made it to the 2nd jog segment and *twist* *snap* *crash* "SONOFABITCH!"

Then, WHY?!?!" you ask?  2 months until eventing season starts and my gasping words at the end of XC still resound in my head, "I need ... to take ... up ... jogging." (wheeze, pant, pant, gasp)  I tried the gym this winter but overdid the bodyweight training and there went the shoulders.   And the cardio machines? They bore the snot out of me.  Besides, its lower body fitness and endurance I need anyway and the dogs need exercise ... so jogging it is.

Of course, my version of jogging is more like most people's slow speed walk.  I move with the speed of a glacier and the elegance of an earthquake, but whatever :)

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

T-Rex HITS Ocala

Well, this year I finally gave in and ran away to Florida.  Not for long, just a week, but long enough to fill the old bones with a little more warmth and sunshine until spring truly begins.  So I spent some time baking my tail in the sun.

But seriously, how could I go to Florida without a tiny horse show detour?  What's a couple (ok, closer to three) hour drive to HITS?  Off we went for a day, T-Rex and husband.  Tunes were cranked, breakfast was eaten and silent prayers were offered by my husband against our financial extinction.

I was a MUCH better behaved driver than this.  I promise.

We found the show grounds after an uneventful and law abiding drive north, mostly due to the fact I purposely rent small cars with small engines.  (The T-Rex rule of rental cars: Big enough for the junk in my trunk, small enough to keep me from getting arrested)

This was when my husband's eyes got significantly wider, because the show grounds kept going and going ... and going.  He's seen old school multi-ring competitions with a couple show rings, a warm up and trailers/stalls, nothing like this.  Possibly his worst nightmare come to life; acres of horses, sunshine and my gleeful skipping towards the vendors area.

No idea why he seemed concerned

Then again, it might have been because I headed for the saddle booths first; Devoucoux, Antares, Voltaire, CWD called my name. My sitting in saddles to try them also might not have helped.  I thought he was going to cry for a second when I found my holy grail of a saddle.  A Voltaire monoflap of the exact specs to accommodate my sizeable tail, my short person legs and sticky leather to velcro my middle aged self to my horse as she powers over jumps.  It was ... perfect.  Even the calf blocks were in the exact right spot, instead of down by my ankles

This would be Mr. T-Rex plucking up a couple vital organs for sale while our credit rating burns in the background

However, sanity ruled the day and I did not go for it.  The one side of my brain screaming YOLO was shouted down by the part of my brain declaring YOU IDIOT.  So, off to watch some warm up rings and classes.  By this point, Mr. T-Rex far preferred the boredom of watching horses to the excitement of my shopping. I, on the other hand, was enjoying the lessons of the day.

  • When in doubt, sit up and ride forward, at every level
  • The level of riding at equivalent divisions, hunter or jumper, isn't much different between home and away
  • With some spit, polish and 5-8k in tack, a good NS horse wouldn't look amiss in a Florida crowd. We need to get over the communal chip on our shoulder.
  • The opportunity to watch a really skilled rider schooling is never wasted.   
  • Neither is watching a girl with a prosthetic arm clock her way skillfully over a 1.40m jumper course. 
  • Everyone loves a cheerful compliment to their horse and/or rider and a "Have a great round" as they make their way to the ring.  Even from a stranger, especially from a stranger.
Every round is someone's Olympics

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

A Hippo Qualifies for Sainthood

So, its been awhile since I shared some stories of the Hippo's progress.  At last update, she was making the difficult transition to acting like an adult.  I'm pleased to say this is almost complete.   Spooking is almost non-existant except for the occasional "Hey, I'm super bored/this is hard.  Can I distract you a little? No? Ok, never mind"

We've been luckier this winter, not so much snow.  Lots of mud though, lots ... and lots ... and lots of mud. The Hippo loves mud. Every day of thaw she rolls, frolics and generally wallows. I arrive to a horse covered in mud from eyeballs to toes, sincerely grateful for the miracle of winter blankets and hoods.  So much for the idea of mares preferring to be clean.  Its ridiculous.

You think I'm exaggerating?  I wish! 
The past weekend was so gorgeous that we were able to get out of the ring and hack on the logging trails for the first time in a couple months. Not that I need 'good' weather, but it was the lack of ice that made it possible.  (Ice + rocky terrain and hills = Staying home thanks.)   Off we went, over hill and dale, through puddle and bog.  We even got to throw in a few hand gallops on the logging trail, to the delight of horse and human.  Go all the places, see all the things.

Rinse. repeat on Sunday.  I will say that it was a different experience settling into the saddle on Sunday though.  Not for the horse, she was still keen and thrilled to be headed away from the arena. I discovered that I had a few bruised & sore spots in, um, delicate areas.  Note to fellow riders, 'saddle sores' are a fantastic motivator for 2 point practise as you ride across country at walk, trot or canter. Your ... butt (yeah, that's it) ... will thank you.  Your thighs, however, will not.

The real qualifier for sainthood through was last night, as a big mare carted my tail over my
first 3' jump combinations in a decade.  See, that 3' marker is a big deal for me.  Its that line where horses can't just pull their legs up to jump, they have to rock back.  It requires a better horse and a better ride.
How do I feel about 3'+ jumps?  This sums it up perfectly
Its also where things fell apart with my last 2 horses.  The chicken had a measuring tape in his head and it was an utter crap shoot whether he'd jump or not it came to 3'.  Even if I didn't know, he did.  And the rocket?  Let's say her cantering her towards 3' with little control, and less idea from where she would decide to jump, was a worrisome prospect on a good day.

Well, I decided that I was going to give it a go last night.   Cranked some tunes, planned the ride with a good friend and off we went.  Pick up canter, leg on, throw the reins at her and pray the mare will ignore the doubts emanating from my hands/legs/seat.
Did someone say 3' combination?
First fence, powers off the ground, awesome. Leg on for the one stride, don't grab her face, leg on for take off.  And BOOM, big mare hits the boosters and blasts off the ground. I find myself squawking profanity and and wondering if I'm going to need a parachute.  Horse canters away wondering what the big deal is.

We repeat a few more times so I can set it in my brain that SHE is fine at 3'.  I just need to do the same thing as always.  Sit up, leg, and throw the reins at her.  She's got this, for which I am supremely grateful.
Yes, she's that awesome.  Well, today she is.