I can’t believe its been a month since I posted. So many things have changesd…
On Sat, Aug 7th I moved Grace to my neighbor’s house. There are four of us boarding who live locally and 8 horses total currently. We’re co-opting for cheap board. Grace is the only horse in the nice little six stall barn. Everyone else is out in the beautiful green pastures. There’s a large sand arena in the middle so we have a place to ride. It’s a nice place, and feels like family already. That Sunday we had a little BBQ to get to know each other. I like the other women and everyone seems very responsible so far. Alexis owns a hair salon in my hometown, Jill is a special education teacher and Alyson who runs the place works in IT. We all have real jobs and complicated schedules so everyone seems dedicated to pitching in to make this work. Alyson also has an 11 year old son who is a beautiful child. He looks like and elf, slender and willowy, with dark hair and hazel eyes and freckles on his nose. He raises chickens and plays in ponds which is why his family calls him the Swamp Monster. He’s been a good friend to my 10 year old. I only have to feed and clean two nights a week right now but I’m going to increase to 4 next month because I’ve decided to move Tax over for the winter.
I love having Grace so close and taking care of her myself. She even seems to enjoy it. I think she likes having her own person who loves on her every day. I love how her black and white pattern stands out in stark relief to the green pastures when I turn her out to run around. I love how she comes flying out of her stall to watch me walk up when she hears my car pull in. Love the sound of her voice when she calls out softly to me and the way she smells after tromping through lavender on our trail rides.
I’m teaching her flying lead changes and started working her over ground poles and small cross rails. On Sunday mornings I get up early and jog or bike over to the barn. I usually lead her out to the trails in the nature preserve behind the property and use a picnic bench to climb up on her broad warm back. She has no withers and the most comfortable back I’ve ever experienced. I call her my big comfy couch. She’s so wide and my legs so short that the stick out to each side and I had to learn to balance all over again. Because she’s a pleasure horse if I wrap my legs too tightly around her she stops instead of moving out.
I love trail riding Grace. She’s bright and alert and curious but not usually fearful. She steps out at a quick pace and just seems so happy to be out riding together. The only thing that has ever made her pause is the circle of large granite boulders that line the park entrance closest to my house. I call them “the sentinels” as she seems to think they’re lurking there waiting for her. Now, after a couple of visits she seems to be getting used to the idea that they don’t actually eat horse meat. She’s such a brave girl.
We went to another western schooling show this month. I got 3rd in Showmanship, 3rd and 4th in Horsemanship and a 5th in Ranch Versatility. The judge was amazing and spent a few minutes after each class going over our results with us and explaining how each type of class is supposed to be judged. I agreed with her placings every time and if I had nailed my pivot in Showmanship I think I would have gotten a 2nd. She complimented our back up which was nice since I was really worried about not backing up straight. Then in Horsemanship she added a pivot to the pattern and I’m pretty sure that’s what helped us place third. I had the weirdest thing happen. In my second Horsemanship class the person who was 5th took my 4th place ribbon which happens sometimes, but when I pointed out we’d gotten reversed she refused to give it to me. I wasn’t going to fight with her about it but my goodness that was strange. My niece got a 2nd in Showmanship, a 5th in Ranch Versatility and a 1st in Equitation.
The next weekend we took Tax to another H/J show. I don’t think the judge liked him much so I only got a 5th in Pleasure but I rode my first full jump course on him in the show. It was cross bars with trotting allowed so I wasn’t too nervous but then he refused the first jump twice which he has never done before! Brat. After that I was really tense until half way in and then I finally started to relax a bit. The 15 year old kid that’s been riding him took him in the 2 foot and 2’3 hunters and they made it around but it wasn’t pretty. I’ve still got some work to do and I told my trainer she needs to ride him next time so he can get some more experience under his belt.
I have a lesson on Tax tonight and then tomorrow I’m taking Grace out for her first lesson with the H/J trainer. The trainer likes paints and used to show WP too once upon a time. It should be a blast!
The best part is that now that I’m just riding Grace and Tax and enjoying it my fear is slowly evaporating. I like them both and trust them. Tax is still far harder to ride but I’m building strength and courage every day. As this show season starts to wind down I’m looking back on the year satisfied. I didn’t accomplish everything I was hoping but I’ve enjoyed myself immensely.
I have a couple more shows this year and a 12 mile non-competitive endurance ride next weekend for my birthday on the 4th. We might even get to camp out overnight. I’ll try to update again soon.