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Brighteyes 12-31-2010 11:38 PM

Under Construction: CT to Tevis
I tell people I'm too stupid to know what's impossible. I have ridiculously large dreams, and half the time, they come true.
--Debi Thomas

I'm always wanted to start a HF journal, but lacked an interesting subject or journey which merited recording. I still lack an interesting subject or journey which merits recording, but I'm starting a HF journal anyway. In an effort to have this make slight sense, I will set a premise for my writings, starting with my dream.

My dream is somewhat large, but they don't call 'em dreams for nothing. The thing I love about mine is that, despite its largeness, it is certainly not impossible. I even go as far as to say it isn't even implausible...Though when I take that liberty, people give me that smile that says, "This kid is gonna be disappointed sooner or later." This dream is to complete one of the big, famous 100 mile endurance runs --preferable the Tevis-- on my mare. Such an endeavor would be accepted with a nod if my mare were an endurance bred Arabian, but she's a few miles shy.

My mare is a four-year-old spotted saddle horse (SSH) -- in simple terms, a spotted Tennessee Walker. She was registered under the name "Flash of Lightening" (spelled incorrectly on her papers), but her former owner simply called her "Baby Girl". She came with a halter with a name tag on it, so I have neglected to change her name. Those tags were just too fancy.

Silly filly seems to think she's an Arab though. (A sign?) She spooks at shadows, leaves, small horses, tarps, black mats, flags, and threatening trees. She hates to stand still. She has a lot of heart, loves to run, and enjoys the trail. She's just as smart as an Arab and highly trainable.

Also, she gives fabulous nose kisses. If nose kisses win races, we got this.


Lengthy premise now aside, I can inform you of our current situation.

As of now, Baby Girl and I are in training for competitive trail (CT). CT is a stepping stone; the rung in the ladder before you step up to endurance. We will hang around CT until we start winning and are prepared and knowledgeable enough for endurance. This may take two years or more.

At this stage in our training, we have logged only one CT ride, in which we claimed a horsemanship score of 95 and a horse score of 88. These scores will have to come up in the future. Our goal for the year is 94+ on both cards.

This time of year is our off season. Our first rides will probably occur in the mid to late spring. Therefore, part one of the journal has begun: "Conditioning"

Brighteyes 01-01-2011 08:36 PM

1/1/11 -- Rainy Day
From Sunday to Thursday, Baby Girl and I had worked hard and made incredible progress. She quickly mastered standing still to mount and ground tying, and I must say I was very impressed with myself and my horse. When I first met her, mounting actually scared me. The moment the reins were put over her head, she pranced and struggled. She backed away, swung her butt to the side, walked off... All the tricks in the book. It got no better once you were seated in the saddle. She continued to try to run off or back rapidly. She did this every time I requested she stand still, and we occasionally struggled so badly she would rear up.

It took us only two days to fix this "hopeless" situation (the rest of the week was merely perfecting it), proving that Baby Girl was not and is not a disobedient horse, but spoiled and hyper.

During this week we also did a lot of trail rides, usually going three to eight miles a day at mostly a walk. Baby Girl is currently very out of shape and seemed to have "forgotten" some of her saddle training. It came back to her quickly, however. By Wednesday, we were riding trail bareback and in a halter. Good horse.

Now that you (I enjoy breaking the fourth wall) have been filled in regarding out first week together (it was a pivotal week and I felt that a short summary had to be placed in this journal), I can move on to current affairs:

Currently, it is raining hard outside. I checked the forecast and it is suppose to clear up by tomorrow, leaving us with party cloudy skies and a very wet, nasty Sunday. I have decided on a little arena work: ground poles, circles, bending... Probably a little work on side passing and neck reining as well. We will leave trails for another day.

Brighteyes 01-02-2011 07:57 PM

1/2/11 -- I Lied
The arena work I said I was going to do... I lied. :oops: Well, I just sorta-kinda decided to do something more fun. Everything dried up more quickly than expected and the trails were ready for new hoof prints. Also, my former trainer, Megan, was in town. That calls for fun.

I went out today at about 2:00, dressed fashionably in blue floral patterned rubber rain boots with my breeches tucked in. I feel mildly ridiculous just wearing breeches with paddock boots, so I was a little embarrassed when Megan pulled up.

She decided to ride Firefly, my horsie worse enemy. This was probably a good thing for Fly, who hates everyone but Megan. I rode Baby Girl. We went off on a five mile trail ride. We trotted a good bit and even cantered, which was great for Baby Girl.

Upon arriving back, we decided to mess around in the arena. (Does this count as "arena work"?) The head trainer, Ashley, being done with her lessons, joined us in rounding up miniature ponies on horseback and driving them into the holding pen. Baby Girl displayed a lack of cow sense (pony sense?), but enjoyed galloping after the ponies nevertheless.

I attempted to get Baby Girl to jump a small cross rail (about six inches high), but she kept dodging to the side or stopping before the jump. Understandably, she was confused. I am inexperienced in jumping, so I allowed Megan to ride her. Megan got her over the cross rail a few times and allowed her to quit at that. It had been a hard day for her.

To perfect my jumping, I rode Firefly over a few jumps. My jumping is frightful. I need lessons.

Overall, it was a good way to start out the new year.

Brighteyes 01-08-2011 07:31 PM

1/8/11 -- The Week's Work
This week was pretty uneventful, though not devoid of milestones. My trainer got Baby Girl to jump over a tiny cross rail and says she's a natural. Baby Girl and I went on a trail ride alone with ZER0 jigging, which makes me think she's starting to trust me more and allowing herself to be assured that the gremlins will not eat her if she's out alone. She has been ridden every other day. I would prefer every day, but something always gets in the way.

Today was a good one for me. Baby Girl's right knee was a little swollen --not enough to make her lame or even uncomfortable--, so she was allowed a day off. I instead rode Firefly, my least favorite horse. I jumped her over cross rails ranging from eight inches to a foot in height. She refused several times, but I turned her around and kicked her over. Once she realized who the boss was, she gave me no trouble. Afterwards, we went on a nice, relaxing trail ride. Upon arriving home, though, the trainer and I chased chickens for half an hour, trying to put them up for the night. I wanted to let them stay out and be eaten by owls after the first 15 minutes of chasing, but we came to the conclusion that we would be killed by the BO, and that was not worth it.

Tomorrow, Baby Girl and her brother Rocky will be leaving the farm for a few days to visit their former owner. Ill weather is coming Sunday night and there aren't enough stalls at the barn to keep them warm and dry.

Brighteyes 01-09-2011 06:19 PM

Bad Weather Ahead and a Bareback Ride -- 1/8/11
As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Baby Girl and her brother are going to stay with their former owner due to ill weather. It's suppose to hit in about an hour; we expect power outages, freezing rain, and ice storms. Baby Girl is in a stall currently with a heat lamp, her blanket, and lots of good hay.

I didn't allow her to go on vacation without some work beforehand. I went out today around noon, clipped some reins to a halter, and set off bareback. I didn't even take off her blanket it was so cold. We had a long ride and it was good exercise, but we ran into some issues. Her pacing was terrible today... Until we get that fixed, no more halter. She has also had a relapse of barn sourness and jigging. The jigging doesn't present itself when we are riding in a group, but is back with vengeance when we are alone. Non-existent readers, have you any tips on stopping the jigging?

Brighteyes 01-10-2011 04:13 PM

1/10/11 -- Ice/Snow Day
The snow hit middle Georgia hard last night. Schools all over the state are closed, bridges are down, and trees have fallen across the roads. Pines weighed with ice are leaning at incredible angles, looking as if they are going to snap at any moment. The entire landscape is a mix of bright white snow and yellow-brown slush. It is about 30 degrees and not suppose to get any warmer.

Baby Girl, baby brother Rocky, Jackpot, and miss Missy are all safe from the elements. The two mares are in stalls with plenty of hay and bedding, and the two geldings switch out stall time; one stays in the loafing shed outside while the other is in a shall, then they switch out every few hours.

I went to visit and care for the earlier today. I cleaned stalls, fed carrots, and gave more hay. All was well.

At the home farm, the other horses where at pasture. In this weather?! They had blankets on, but it was freezing rain and icing over. I would rather have them in stalls, but what ever. My horse is warm and taken care of, so my duty to horsekind is done for today.

I'll post pictures of snow day 2011 soon~

Amlalriiee 01-10-2011 10:00 PM

I'm subscribing...I'm also a competitive trail rider, and getting my horse in shape for summer as well! If you're curious, my journal is "I pay my psychiatrists with feed and hay". Anyway....good start on your journal so far! I'm so bad about keeping mine up to date...and horrible at riding more than once a week too, now that it's winter in Maine!! It sounds like you're making a lot of progress, so good work! 100 miles is a lofty goal, but even if you don't make it to 100 with this mare, you at least will be making plenty of progress with her and in the end will have accomplished something to be proud of, I'm sure. I've seen almost any breed excel at CTRs with the proper conditioning, endurance it's a little less common =P My mare is a quarab so she's half of what you'd expect, but very heavy built and a panter. I don't expect to reach 100 with her or to do endurance but if I can get her through some 60/80 mile CTRs I'll be happy.

Jigging: When she's jigging try to keep half-halting, and relax immediately when the jigging stops. She'll figure out that she gets her head when she relaxes. It might take some time, but I think it will help. Also, be careful that you're not tensing up and leaning forward, because this encourages jigging, and therefore she might get confused as to what you want. Make sure you're sitting back and deep like you would at the walk on any old lazy school horse....don't anticipate her acting up. Good luck! Can't wait to read your progress!

Brighteyes 01-11-2011 11:06 PM

Amlalriiee --

Yes! Another CT rider! I thought I was alone in these forums for a while. Tons of formal English riders, a couple trail riders, and very few competitive distance. I'm very lucky I'm in the South; it's riding weather all year round! As long as it isn't raining, it's fit to ride. Speaking of Maine, if you ride NATRC, you're in my same region. Most of the rides are in either Alabama or the Carolinas. Woah. That's a lot of driving. :shock:

Yep! If I don't make 100 miles, I'll still have made 50s... If I don't make 50s, I'll still be on the top of CT, etc. There's no way to lose and tons to gain. As gone as I can look back on my horse in the earlier days and see she's a better animal now than back then, I might as well have won a 100 miler. :D

Jigging... The anticipation of misbehavior is probably what's getting me. When I anticipate, I lean forwards, get nervous, etc. Next ride, halt halt and calm myself!

Amlalriiee 01-12-2011 05:14 PM

No, I ride ECTRA, most competitive rides for us are in Vermont but plenty of rides in Maine and NH as well. I may see you at Tevis someday! You know I AM jealous of the year-round good riding, BUT I love snow too, so I'm torn. We got a foot and a half today and it's still's crazy but I love it...aside from the drive home today!

Don't worry...I think most of us CT/endurance riders tend to ride very forward. It's part of what makes us fit for the sport is that we want to GO GO GO. But yes, make sure that when you DON'T want to GO GO GO that you're not asking for it =P Just sit back, take a deep breath, and RELAX.

Brighteyes 01-15-2011 07:42 PM

1/15/11 -- Groundwork/I Ache All Over.
It's been five days since my last post. This isn't due my me not feeling like posting, but nothing happened for several days. Only now have I accumulated enough of the week's events to make a sizeable entry.

Yesterday, Baby Girl was still at her former owner's barn. The weather had cleared up beautifully, so I headed over. I took off her blanket, groomed her up, picked feet, and took a few conformation photos. We than proceeded out into the yard for a little groundwork. We started with the basics of sidepassing, and reviewed turning on the haunches and forehand. She did well and received a couple good rubs on the butt for her obedience.

Deciding she needed a little exercise, I looked for a lunge line. I couldn't find a lunge line, so I tied two lead ropes together, creating a redneck lunge line about 12 feet in length. After a sort deliberation --the Horse Forum certainly wouldn't approve of my creativity--, I began lunging. After convincing my spoiled horse to get the hell away from me and trot AROUND, not OVER, the handler, we worked both sides at a walk and trot for 15 minutes.

After a cool down and brushing, we transported Baby Girl back to my home barn and turned her out. It was about 5:30 in the afternoon; almost dark.

The day after --today-- I went out about 1:00 in the afternoon. Baby Girl and I enjoyed a simple, uneventful (jig-less) trail ride with a new student, who was my age. I'm excited to have someone my age around the barn -- everyone is either very much younger or older.

After, I decided to ride my arch nemesis, Firefly. We did some jumps at a trot -- little crossrails and such. All was well. 20 minutes into my jumping fun time, I was cantering away from a jump and turned squarely towards the next one. When turning, one puts weight in the outside stirrup... I must have over done it, because my stirrup leather snapped. Mid-air, I managed to inform my friend matter-of-factly, "My stirrup just broke", before tumbling to the ground and landing hard on my right hip.

I thought I broke it for a minute. I have NEVER fallen that hard. I lay helpless on my side, frantically shooting off I'm-okay-really-s. I couldn't walk, so I lay across my friend's horse's saddle, holding on the girth and allowing my legs to dangle off the other side.

Currently, I am sitting in bed. My hip, as well as most of my body, hurts like crazy. I believe I may have pinched a nerve. If I'm better by tomorrow, I'm going trail riding.

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