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Ellie's Big Adventure - Equine Affaire 2019

On the last day of September, I received an email from the Vermont Morgan Horse Association asking if I would be interested in bringing Ellie to Equine Affaire in Massachusetts from November 7-10.  I became a member of VMHA this year when I decided to compete at Vermont Heritage Days; so even though I live in Maine and not Vermont haha, I made a snap decision to say yes!  
Honestly, it was 21 minutes after the email came in that I responded yes!  Then I had to figure out how to actually make it all happen hahahahaha.  Typical.
I attended Equine Affaire as a spectator a few times way back when and then for many years I ran the breed booth for the Standardbreds, including a four-day stint in C Barn with Dreamy back in 2013.  It is fun and exhausting to travel 4+ hours one way from home to talk with thousands of people, walk thousands of miles around the venue (ok, not that far but close), and ride in demos on a horse that has never seen such a huge venue (though in her defense, Ellie was …

Winter Rides: Like Money in the Bank

I admit, there comes a point where I am totally sick of winter and want to throat punch all the folks who complain how "bored" they are riding in indoor arenas hahaha!  That point has arrived!  ;-)  After the intense frigid temps, we are now in a thaw/rain/freeze cycle that has made everything icy and crappy.  We had a lot of rain and icing overnight Sunday and are looking at a major snow storm upcoming on Wednesday.  I'd give anything to board my horse at an indoor right now LOL!

Ohhhh snow, ice, yuck footing but at least it was warm (and therefore semi safe)!

However, I have been making an effort to try to ride as much as I can, even though I am so over winter it isn't even funny.  Right now, that is about 2-3 times a week, which is better than nothing.  Most of this is at the walk, since the footing is crappy.  But I keep telling myself that at least I am doing SOMETHING and a little something is like money in the bank.  Every time I groom, tack up, and ride, it is giving Ellie just a little more experience and confidence.  We won't be starting at zero when spring truly arrives because I haven't been on her for months; instead we have been quietly and slowly plugging away at things as much as we can.  


Ellie is surprisingly good despite our slow efforts.  I haven't been lunging her, which I wanted to phase out anyway, but I am especially proud of her since we are not riding much.  She has become quite used to being on the crossties and knowing what to expect, instead of being "up" and worried.  She finally doesn't jump when I pull down the stirrups and has no issue standing still while I get on.  She still has a few moments when I first get on her where she definitely won't walk on a loose rein, which is my preferred way to start a ride, but it takes less and less time for her to relax and listen.  She's nearly convinced that leg doesn't always just mean FORWARD, and it can mean step over or even (HEAVEN FORBID) to halt.  It is nice to see her start learning more than just baby horse cues and remember them!  I think all of my boring winter rides will definitely pay off this spring once we can actually start working on a more consistent basis.

Horse show dates are starting to roll in and I am trying to decide what exactly I want to expose her to this year.  I am thinking little local dressage shows, 2-phases, and maybe a Morgan breed show or two.  And of course, lots of lessons and trail riding!  

My photographer brought out a little snack and Ellie thought she ought to try a bite haha

I can start dressage lessons anytime I am ready with a local trainer I really respect, who is about 45 minutes away.  We have chatted and she suggested I start with a few private half hour lessons for her to get to know Ellie and for Ellie to get used to her indoor, etc.  And then I hope to join another adult amateur on a school horse in semi private hour lessons.  This will help my budget ($80 private lessons vs. $45 semi private lessons) so I can lesson more often.  Granted, there may be times I want a full private, but I also think there are benefits to riding in a group (and saving money).  
A sugar cube for a good mare

As far as jumping lessons, there is a farm about an hour away (in the opposite direction haha) that does the local eventing circuit that I do, and the instructor there will take me anytime I am ready as well.  I hope to get in some basic jumping lessons, maybe a XC school or two this summer/fall, and to hang out with the barn at events.  While I know I can go it alone, especially at the tadpole level we are at right now, but I really want to get Ellie off the farm and establish student-instructor relationships because there will come a point that I know I will definitely need/want the help and support.  I don't want any holes in this horse's training if I can help it.  I want to take my time and develop her into a horse who can do upper level work (all depending on her, of course).  I know I have bad habits as a rider that I don't want to establish into habits with Ellie, so lessons will keep us on the right track.  I got away from lessoning much on Snappy in the past few years, because well, I knew she wasn't going to go further than Dreamy (who was showing BN/schooling Novice and showing First Level/schooling Second when she retired), and there wasn't much an instructor was going to tell me about Snappy that I already wasn't aware of and working on.  

So, despite the fact I am intensely feeling the doldrums of winter, I have to remind myself that every little bit I do with this mare will help in the long run!  C'mon warm weather!!  :-)

Thanks Prisma, for being an app that makes my photos look so artsy haha

Comments

  1. Oh your first sentence. I feel it. So much 😂 I'm in the same boat -- although you're doing better than me on the walk only ride front, I need to buck up and get on more lol. We keep getting teased with an occasional 50 degree day then it's right back down into the frozen doldrums. Hurry up spring!

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    1. Hahaha I have to physically restrain myself from replying on multiple FB friends' posts about how "it's sooooo boring riding in the indoor". Ummm you have an indoor and I am trying to navigate an icy paddock. Yep. The 50 degree warm up days are torture (and make more ice LOL!)

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  2. Love this analogy. Just like money in the bank! Something is so much better than nothing.

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    1. That's what I keep telling myself so I don't cry in desperation from not riding for real haha! ;-)

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  3. I'm with you- I'd love the 'monotony' of an indoor. BUT I agree that anything is good. I have not ridden this week but I am bringing Carmen out and grooming her and making a fuss and that is helpful as well.

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    1. Ohhh, I agree, the grooming and handling is definitely good!! Even on the coldest days I try to fluff and buff both mares and not just throw feed at them and run back inside the house haha!

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  4. cute pictures, glad you're getting some riding in! and i definitely agree about the whole "money in the bank" thing. esp with green horses, sometimes just consistently going through the motions is really the most important part. i'm with ya tho on being so sick of winter. so so sick of it. any time any of us are limited in our riding ability and choices bc of external circumstances like weather, it gets real old real fast. like a couple years ago when we didn't have an indoor so we hauled out 2-3x a week just to get keep riding. or this winter when i *do* board at a place with an indoor, but it's small and dusty and crowded. like, yea it's great that we have it and i'm super grateful (also.... it was on my "must have" list for boarding anyway lol). but my heart is wishing for blue skies and open fields! hopefully soon!

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    1. Winter is soul sucking haha! I totally understand. And I bet even if I had an indoor directly attached to my barn here in my backyard, I'd still complain that it was too cold to ride in it hahahaha!!

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  5. what a good egg, Ellie is and cute to boot :) I am so glad you are at least being able to get on her l ike you say money in the bank.

    I don't have an arena but can haul to one periodically but even here the weather has been gross (ice and sleet right now). So i am so impressed that you manage to ride as much as you do in freaking Maine!! LOL Spring is coming (I keep repeating that in my head) LOL

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    1. She is such a good mare and I am hoping that attitude stays even when she learns what "real work" is haha! ;-)

      Yeah, the only thing keeping me from trailering out is my driveway! It's 1000' feet long and a huge hill. We get it sanded, but even so, there is enough ice underneath that I just feel anxious about the thought of trying to get my rig up or down!

      Hahaha I would say living in Maine makes me tough! Or foolish! ;-) When half the year sucks in terms of weather, it makes me wonder!

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  6. Everytime we can move the needle a little forward is a win, no matter the season!

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    1. Absolutely! Just wish I didn't have to freeze my butt off in the process haha! ;-D

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  7. I always look at your instagram feed and am impressed you are riding in the winter. Even getting on to WALK is more than most people without indoors do in my experience! I love that you have some trainers already lined up and it seems like you and Ellie a great future together!

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    1. Thank you! I always feel so behind in the winter, and sometimes I can relax about not riding (like last winter with Snappy, I felt she needed the time off for a multitude of reasons) but with a young horse I am more motivated! I do hope my plans with instructors pans out like I hope!

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