Skip to main content

CNER United States Pony Club Dressage Rally - May 11, 2019

Our very first ever PC rally was this past Saturday at Apple Knoll Farm in Millis, MA. It kind of cracks me up that I joined PC for the express purpose of access to more jumping instruction opportunities, and my first mounted experience is a dressage rally hahaha.  

But honestly, it was so much fun.  Maybe it is because I am so used to showing alone or maybe because I love the show prep and set up just as much (if not more) than the actual riding, but competing in a PC rally is now one of my most favorite experiences.  And I cannot wait to do more!  I think the only thing different for this show was having to label EVERYTHING with my name.  Otherwise, my show prep was just the same as normal.

Sadly, our original team of four riders ended up dwindling to just two, as one young rider ended up sick with a 103 fever and a barn was quarantined because of a horse with EHV-4 so none of the PC members from that large boarding barn could attend. Therefore, my remaining teammate and I were split …

Being Brave in the Sn*w

Complaining about the sn*w is getting old, but it started sn*wing on Tuesday at 10AM and it didn't stop until Wednesday at dark.  As far as I can tell, in that time frame we gained 20" of sn*w (on top of the 18" from last Thursday).  Three sn*w days from school in five days is just crazy.  This is AFTER the ground was just about bare and we had mud started, so I feel like I have a right to be crabby haha.  Winter just won't stop this year.

I keep thinking I will schedule a lesson, but the driveway becomes covered in sn*w again.  Because it is 1000' long and on a steep hill, I am not comfortable trailering on it if it is not bare (it was bare the other day.....grrr).  I also keep thinking that I ought to probably be doing something MORE than just traipsing around in the sn*w before we start lessons, so I just feel stuck.  I look at the numerous things we could do in April and I can't even pick one.  Do I aim for a dressage show?  Do I dare sign up for a 2-phase when who the heck even knows when we will be able to jump?  Or do I just do a little open show with a handful of WT flat classes?  I don't know what we will be ready for, but I want to do something fun off the farm besides just lessons.

I am trying to not dwell on my dismay and instead enjoy every ride instead.  Ellie has come so far in the past six months!  She is finally totally comfortable in our riding routine, from pulling her out of her paddock, to grooming and tacking in the barn aisle, to actually riding.  I don't know that I would call her a nervous horse, but she definitely has needed calm repetition of the everyday normal stuff in order to feel confident.  I think her tendency to be "looky" and freeze up was simply because she lacks experience as well as confidence in herself and trust in me.  

I think the reason she is becoming confident is because I don't let things bother me.  I tell her all the time "you're fine" and I stay calm.  If she is being dancy in the crossties, I speak calmly to her, keep a hand on her, and just continue grooming.  Thankfully that behavior resolved itself fairly early on.  Because she had a moment of craziness last September on the crossties with a saddle fitter (and a saddle she HATED), for a long time I kept her lead line connected to her halter even on the crossties.  Thankfully, and knock on wood, she has not had such a reaction again, but I am aware that she can be a sensitive little thing.  Generally, her big reactions tend to be fleeting and not repetitive LOL!

marching around on a loose rein like a good mare

She sometimes still likes to be weird about picking her hind hooves, but I don't let her intimidate me.  I always start with the near front, which she is fine with.  When I move to the near hind, she likes to take a huge step away from me to the right and yank her leg up on her own.  Instead, I just walk around, ask her to straighten herself out, and calmly ask again.  She has started to realize that it is really ok and she can lift her hoof for me.  Lately we have had no issues.  Then, the off front is fine and she will easily pick up her off hind, but then she likes to attempt to pull it up further towards her stomach away from me.  Calm repetition and not getting riled up has improved her manners tremendously.  I think she is smart enough that if I had been nervous about picking those hinds, she would have sensed it and taken advantage of it.  And I would be the kind of owner who never picked her hind feet because I was scared haha.

Under saddle, we really haven't been "working" on anything.  For me, this winter is just about calm repetition and for Ellie to understand she has a "job".  No longer does she jump out of her skin when I pull down the stirrups and she is quite happy to stand still at the mounting block for a sugar cube.  Most of our riding this winter has been in the ring or the pastures, mostly at a walk because of the footing.  I have taken her out in the small Christmas tree field right next to the ring and Dreamy's paddock as well, but despite the fact there is no fence, it never really felt much different than riding in the ring.  And she could see Dreamy the entire time.  

While I love having my horses at home, it does make it hard at times with a young horse.  In an ideal world, I would have someone to ride with (or someone to ride Dreamy) so we could venture further out into the fields and trails with a steady buddy.  The last two weeks Ellie has been so good and tuned in that I decided to throw caution to the wind and see what she thought about the world at large.  I never took any pics the first time, because keeping both hands on the reins and being ready for any nervous behavior was much more important than media haha.  But she was perfect and brave.  The second and third times we went out she was so good and listening that I did choose to snap a few pics. 

Headed over the hill and down to the third Christmas tree field (way off in the distance)
I love how willing she is to march out away from the barn and Dreamy.  She definitely feels happy, like she has a purpose and is going somewhere, instead of circling around in a fenced area.  At the risk of anthropomorphizing, Ellie really feels curious to see what is around her.  I like that trait in a horse, especially a horse who I hope will be brave and fearless on a cross country course someday.  And even better, she is calm.  Trees, rocks, blowing wind, new areas, nothing makes her concerned.  The sn*w is deep in some spots, which meant I had to be aware of where we go, but it has felt REALLY super to see brave and calm.  Once we are back to bare ground, I can take her out on the trails in the woods; once the footing dries up and is safe, I can introduce her to a little water crossing.  

The middle Christmas tree field
The funniest part about riding among Christmas trees is how Ellie wants to "greet" every single tree.  I am not kidding LOL!  She is way too friendly and nosy, and I have to be aware or she will smoosh her nose into every tree.  I am not sure what she thinks she might find (cookies, probably), but it is even funnier when the trees are covered in sn*w because she knocks it off and it gets all over her face.  Plus, realistically I don't want her to injure the trees because eventually they will be for sale LOL!

Hey tree, got any cookies? - Ellie, probably

So all is well in Ellie's opinion at the moment!  I am just trying to accept the weather and remember that spring always arrives eventually.  It is hard to be so excited to pick up where we left off last fall in our baby dressage work and have to keep waiting because Mother Nature is crazy!  ;-)


F@&#ing second winter. I did get a giggle out of you censoring sn*w every time you used it in the post 😂 and then another giggle out of Ellie smooshing the trees and getting covered in snow, what a goofball!
Martidoll said…
I am so impressed with how much RIDING you have done this year no matter with that horrible snow. I would be in a fetal ball by now and feel positively wimpy that i havent ridden more this winter. I* love that she greets the trees. What a cutie!! Hope the snow goes away soon :)
I'm sick of rain. I can't imagine how sick I'd be of snow.
TeresaA said…
If you ever get tired of her - send her to me. She sounds like a real gem.
Sara said…
This winter has been crazy but hopefully it ends soon for you. Sounds like it has been great though in bullding your partnership.
Haha second winter is right! Sn*w is totally a swear word at this point, and as much as swearing doesn't bother me, this word is off limits haha! OMG she is such a weirdo and literally smooshes her nose and I think would probably break branches off in the process if I let her!
Hahaha I know, I am pretty chill about giving horses a few months off in the winter, since usually we have spent all spring, summer, and fall riding and showing. But since Ellie has had ummmm her WHOLE life off, haha, I figured I would be more dedicated this winter! ;-) She is such a weirdo and clearly a Maine pine tree horse! :-D
Rain and mud would be nice right now LOL! ;-)
Hahaha will do! ;-) She is a sweetheart and I hope she stays happy in her work even when it becomes more like work.
It has been crazy and all over the place compared to normal winters, that is for sure! Even with the footing and temperatures severely limiting us, I would have to agree I have made some headway in our partnership!
Liz Stout said…
Snow riding is magical at least? And LOL greeting the trees. A true hippie ;-)
emma said…
Lol my Arab mare used to have her own special favorite tree in our woods - every time we passed it she had to pause and would literally lick or chew on it. Bizarre haha. Anyway Ellie sounds like such a good egg - I hope this weather cuts it out for you soon so you can start doing all the things!! It's gotta happen eventually, right???
It is magical the first time, maaaaybe the second time in a season. Now it's just a drag hahaha. And she is totally a tree hugger LOL! ;-)
Maybe more like a tree smoosher....?
LOL that's funny she picked the same one. Ellie is an equal opportunity tree smoosher. Spring always arrives, even if it is MUCH LATER than I want haha! ;-)