Tuesday, February 18, 2014


This past weekend, we officially became horse owners.

Thanks to the generosity and expertise of a friend, Wren and I took a weekend trip to South Carolina in search of her first pony. We have been leasing Gabby, a grey Welsh pony, for Wren for the past year, but the relationship has not been working out well. Wren's riding skills have been regressing and she fought some serious anxiety about riding after suffering several falls over the course of the last year. Honestly, I'm surprised she still even wants to ride at all, really, but her love for the equine species transcends the numerous falls off off the way-too-speedy Gabby, and the way-too-tall Champ.

I was tired of my own stress each riding lesson day, and I hated to see my kid in tears of fear and frustration.

My friend, an accomplished horsewoman and a lover of ponies for little kids, spotted a "diamond in the rough" pony on a Facebook pony sales forum. A few weeks of back and forth communication with the owner, some pictures and video, and the opinion of my friend's mom, and we decided to make the trip down there to see if this really was the pony we had hoped for for Wren.

Turns out, the little thing was pretty darn perfect after all. Fuzzy, in need of nutrition and a good farrier, but sound, healthy, and pretty agreeable to riding.

We loaded her up and made our way on the loooong route back home on Sunday, where we made her comfortable in a stall for the night with plenty of hay and water.

Travis and I visited her Monday, and got her acquainted with her surroundings in the daylight, and I took the kids back to the barn to groom and play and ride her a little bit. It went well, and they had a lot of fun. I think Cinnamon will be a great pony for Wren,and for Noah, too, who has now decided he needs to ride the pony as well.

I'll have the vet out to do shots in a week or so, and the farrier is coming next week. Then I will start the hunt for teeny, tiny, pony-sized tack, and teach this pony to work the way we ride, and it should all be good.

I always thought the first equine to join this family would be a horse for me. I may have to wait a little longer for my own horse now, but being a pony mom is pretty cool.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


I try not to do too much with New Year goal-setting. One, because I have enough to do without putting unrealistic expectations on myself (and most of my expectations for myself can probably be considered unrealistic), and two, because there's always so much I want to do that the beginning of the year always feels like I'm standing at the world's biggest buffet line. SO much to see and try and do! It can get overwhelming.

But there are some things, here at the beginning of the Year of the Horse, that I would like to tackle before the champagne flows on December 31.

I'd like to improve my horsemanship skills. There are things about caring for and owning horses that I just don't know enough about. On my list for 2014:

  • I'd like to learn how to wrap and bandage legs. I've never used a polo wrap, ever. And I'd like to know which kind of bandaging/wrapping/boots are appropriate and when.
  • Equine first aid....what are the over-the-counter treatments that I need to know how to do, and when? When is ichthammol used, or Betadine scrub, or nitrofurazone? I want to better recognize common conditions, too, like thrush, scratches, rain rot, and other ailments. And I'd like to have a handle on when to call the vet, and when something is a real crisis versus when not to panic.
  • Oh, yeah, and I want to learn to take a horse's vital signs, and know the parameters of normal.
  • And I want to get out into the local horse community more and meet fellow adult amateur riders. So my goal here is to attend lectures, audit clinics and lessons, and join either the Virginia Dressage Association or the Central Virginia Dressage and Combined Training Association.

I think that's a pretty decent amount of stuff to learn this year. I don't think I really have any riding goals, except to keep riding at least once a week. I can't really commit to competitions this year, I feel a little too busy to devote that amount of mental focus and preparation to competition right now. It's one thing to take a lesson and work on skills and try to improve with each ride, but it's another issue to work toward being prepared for something specific, like a course of 12 stadium jumps at speed, or galloping a cross-country course, or a dressage test.

Actually,I'm kind of hoping the planets align and Wren and I both own our own mounts by the end of this year. I just turned in an application to adopt a Thoroughbred from Re-Run Thoroughbred Adoption in Suffolk, VA. Honestly, I'm excited and a little freaked out. I won't be able to trial-ride any horse that I adopt from a Thoroughbred rescue (because of insurance limitations), so that feels a little nerve-wracking, but I will choose a horse with recommendations from knowledgeable people I know, so it shouldn't be really bad. The prospect of having my own horse to do things with and to be a partner with is thrilling, and something I have wanted for a long, long time. It's slightly terrifying, but I have high hopes.

My horsemanship, my riding, my attitude and my nerve, will all just have to rise to the occasion.

Also I may have to revive A Hot Piece of Glass or something, so that I can generate some "horse care" money. Board, farrier, and vet bills all add up quick.

Still.....very exciting.....

Sunday, February 2, 2014


It was an absolutely glorious day today. Sixty-eight sunny,warm, degrees, and I got to spend the morning on a horse.

I think the weather today was our gift for tolerating the weeks of freezing cold, snow, and general crap we've been having. Or maybe Mother Nature finally got her Zoloft, or something. Either way, it was wonderful, and I feel refreshed and ready to take on the six more weeks of winter that Punxatawney Phil has declared will now happen.

I wasn't feeling well this morning, and it's never fun to ride with a stomach ache, but once I got to the barn, and basked in the sun, I was better. The sky was a brilliant blue, the breeze was warm, and the horses were ready to go, which is always welcome. I even got to wear my new-to-me full leather seat riding tights! They are SO comfy, and I was excited that they actually fit over my ample backside. Bonus! I've discovered that everything fun, or awesome, or comfortable is usually for the skinnier riders, so finding these was a Big Deal.

But I digress.... I knocked about a ton of dirt off of Beau the Belgian, and picked several sticks out of his tail, tacked him up, and we were off. Man, those tights were fantastic to ride in! I sat his trot like I was glued to him!

And we jumped.Not big, and not a lot, but it was smooth, and effortless, and I felt so confident. Picked up the canter and did a sweet five-fence course..."hands up, eyes up, sit and wait, wait wait...look, turn, sit, wait, wait, wait...count the strides and steer..." Even though I didn't get that last broken line from four to five, I still felt really good about it. I haven't jumped in weeks!

I could have easily spent ALL day in the saddle.

The rest of the day was good, too. Wren had her lesson on Gabby while I cleaned tack and slathered my saddle with conditioner. I also took some photos of the barn and pastures to send with my application for the Thoroughbred adoption group. Who knows? This may yet be MY year of the horse.

Today was a distinct contrast to recent days, that's for sure. I'm not *quite*ready for spring yet, but at least now I know it's really coming.