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Blog Hop: Horse vs. Rider & Some Thoughts About the Future

Blog Hop: Horse vs. Rider & Some Thoughts About the Future

One of my favorite things about blogging is that there’s always someone that’s been in my shoes. Reading stories about riders coming to terms with horses that didn’t fit their needs makes it easier to work through my own feelings about my belated realization that Ezhno will never be my forever horse.

Recently Emma from ‘Fraidy Cat Eventing posted about the balance between the rider’s journey with an individual horse and the rider’s broader goals and ambitions. Her questions came at an auspicious time, and they made me think about what my goals are for my journey with my next equine partner.


Do you define yourself as a rider by your goals or ambitions?

I think at this point in my life, I do define myself as a rider by my goals. As much as I wish that I could let my sense of enjoyment be defined by Ezhno’s preferences, the truth is that I find his discipline of choice (pleasure/performance) boring. I’ve spent the last couple of months trying to make the idea of becoming a performance rider work for me, but it just… doesn’t. πŸ™

Have you had to make decisions about buying or selling a horse based on its suitability for your goals or purposes?

Hello, current situation. It sucks, but I also think that the ability to know when it’s time to let go and how to sell a horse are important. I’m trying to view it as a learning experience and an opportunity to move forward with my riding.

Do you feel like there’s something bigger out there, something more overarching in your own journey as a rider, independent of the horses that may come in and out of your life?

I think the over-arching theme to my riding career has been rebuilding my confidence and encouraging a sense of “bravery” in the saddle. I do my best to enjoy every good moment as it comes along, but I definitely get a bigger sense of satisfaction from having a set goal to focus on. I want to see progression in my skills and abilities (and the skills and abilities of my horse, too!).

This is what makes me happy AND terrifies me at the same time. πŸ˜›

So, what are my goals as a rider? What do I want to be able to do with Horse #2?

I want to be fearless. I want to be able to jump 2’6″+ the way I can jump 2’0″β€”without anxiety and with complete trust that my horse will save my ass if I screw up mid course.

If I’m thinking in terms of the 2018 show season, I’d like to participate in the entire Lake Washington Saddle Club summer seriesβ€”preferablyΒ in the jumper ring, even if it’s only at 0.70m. I like that jumpers is judged off the clock instead of personal opinion, and I love how well organized the LWSC shows are (plus Bridle Trails is my favorite venue!).

If all goes well (and I can find someone to go with me), I think it’d be great to do a recognized jumper event. The only “real” show I’ve ever been to was the Pinto show, but since performance wasn’t my jam I just went for the experience.

I want to try eventing (and, by extension, DRESSAGE, woooo), though I’m not sure if there are any schooling level HT’s near me and I think the closest recognized event is in Oak Harbor.

Ultimately, I think eventing is where I want to be. πŸ™‚

Blog Hop: Who can ride my horse?

Blog Hop: Who can ride my horse?

When I was a teenager, I dreamed of owning a horse that only I could ride. My thinking was that our bond would be so undeniably powerful that my horse would reject anyone elseβ€”how ridiculous!

Since I’ve come back to riding as an adult (hell yeah, re-rider status!), my outlook on the equestrian arts has changed dramatically. No longer do I want to ride a fire-breathing dragon whose antics scare away even the most talented of riders. Instead I prefer the comfort and safety of a kick rideβ€”a horse who takes everything with a good sense of humor, who never spooks and rarely misbehaves, and who makes me feel confident no matter what.

Literally a kick ride. He was the laziest ever when I test rode him.

Which brings us to the question of the week around the blogosphere:

Who’s allowed to ride my horse?

And the answer is pretty simple: almost anyone. Just like Nicole from Zen and the Art of Baby Horse Management and Olivia from hellomylivia, my ultimate goal is to make Ezhno as ridable as possible. After all, the easier he is to ride, the less work I have to do in the saddle and the more resale options he has should something unfortunate happen.

Not that anyone could resist this cute face.

At the stage in his training he’s at right now (at least, the stage he was at pre-lameness), I would probably only trust a few key people (Trainer A, Trainer M, and the Show Buddy) to put consistent hours on him if I were to, say, leave for a long vacation or break a leg or otherwise be out of the saddle for more than a week or two, but in terms of day to day riding I’m open to letting almost anyone on him, from complete beginners to the talented 4-H girls that ride at my stable.

Case and point: babysitter Ezhno carting around all of my non-horse friends.Β  πŸ™‚
Blog Hop: A Tour of the SEC

Blog Hop: A Tour of the SEC

This barn tour blog hop comes from L. Williams of the blog Viva Carlos! It took me a while to stop drooling over the facilities at her new barn, but once I’d finished cleaning the puddle off of my desk I figured this was a good chance to share a little bit more about my own stable (plus I’m always looking for an excuse to wander around taking pictures).

Here’s an over head view of the equestrian center via Google Maps, with turnout paddocks marked in β¬’,
riding areas marked in β¬’, barns marked in β¬’, and the Ready Area marked in β¬’.

The equestrian center has four barns. The northern most barn is filled with horses that are owned by the owner of the facility and is also the barn the Farrier works out of. The other three barns are occupied by boarders (like me!). At last count the SEC had over 100 horses in residence, with the majority of them in the Main Barn where Ezhno and the R2R lesson program horses are housed. Trainer A (the owner of the R2R program) owns something like seven or eight lesson horses and partially leases around five more from other owners. Each stall has a laminated placard on the front that lists the horse’s owner, trainer, vet, and feed information (you can see Ezhno’s in the recent Christmas decoration photo I took).

The 9 Aisle (left), the Center Aisle (mid), and the Far Aisle (right), all of which are in the Main Barn

The Ready Area is attached to the Main Barn. It has a kichenette, the R2R office, dozens of tack lockers, a small locker area, and a heated bathroom, plus five sets of cross ties in the main area and two more sets back in the wash racks. It’s where I take a majority of my pictures of Ezhno, since I always have my phone on hand and he stands patiently in the cross ties.

Ezhno in the cross ties and wash rack (which are through the white door at the end of the cross tie area)

Trainer A and Trainer M use the whiteboards at the back of the cross tie area to map out their schedule of lessons and training horses for the day. R2R has two tack rooms, both of which are at the very end of the cross tie area on the right (just before the door to the wash racks). My tack room is back by the restroom (just to the left of the picture I took of the cross tie area). I casually share my tack room with a young teen that just got her first horse (Star) right around the time that I bought Ezhno. She keeps her horse at home, but hauls her in every once in a while for a weekend to use the facilities (she wants to train her horse to run barrels), during which she stows her stuff with me.

My tack locker (left), the R2R western tack locker (mid), and the R2R English tack locker, all three of which are in a bit of disarray during the middle of the day, lol

One of the best parts of the SEC is the amount of riding space we have on site. We have two indoor arenas, known as the Main Arena (attached to the Main Barn, 80′ x 210′ with deep footing designed for gaming) and the West Arena (across the parking lot from the Main Barn, 80′ x 192′ with a lighter footing meant for performance riding and jumping). The lesson program typically uses the West Arena, since it’s closed to haul-ins, and I usually end up riding in there while lessons are running throughout the week (it’s like auditing from the back of a horse!). There is also a 60′ round pen that was recently rebuilt and two outdoor arenas (150′ x 300′ each, though they’re currently a little overgrown and wet).

Our most unusual attraction is probably the track, though. The track itself is 3/4 of a mile and there’s a 20 acre cross country/trail course in the middle of it (!!!). The track is too muddy to ride on right now, but during the dryer months the footing’s suitable for everything from cooling out to going for a gallop and the owner mows down the grass so that the obstacles (mounds, logs, barrels, bridges, tires, giant weathervanes, tents, pool noodles, ponds, etc.) and jumps are available for use. I’ve never gone over any of them (they’re high, man!), but maybe some day…

The Main Arena (left), the West Arena in action (mid), and the covered area outside the West Arena (right)
It was too cold/wet to get pics of the outdoor stuff LOL

The SEC also has something like 50 turnout paddocks, though the nature of a big boarding barn means that horses are typically turned out without a buddy (so any socializing has to happen over the electric fencing). If there was one thing I was going to add to the barn, it would be bigger turnout pastures with the option of group turnout.

Altogether, for the $400 I pay in monthly board, the SEC has all the facilities I could dream of (and it’s about half the price of similar stables just thirty miles south). More importantly, I love the lesson program and have made more progress over the past ten months of instruction under the Trainer than I have in my entire history as an equestrian. That’s invaluable, and it’s why I have no intention of moving Ezhno in the near future. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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