Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday Lesson

Sundays work a little differently at Westhaven Farm. Riders who wish to lesson sign up for 15min blocks of time, warm up prior to the lesson, and then Diane jumps you around.
A few friends have raised their eyebrows about the short time, but it actually feels like the perfect amount of coaching with the one on one attention.
Efficient and to the point.

Ellie came out bright and ready to work today, the tranter step had diminished substantially. We trotted a crossrail back and forth, a brush box a few times, and trotted into a line. Then Diane made the crossrail a vertical and the "in" fence to the line a vertical and we cantered the four fence "course" twice. Ellie was brave and I felt confident.

After our lesson I watched one of the only juniors, Marika, jump around and then she and I headed out for a short trail ride which took us across some of the rolling fields on the property.

A lovely Sunday at the barn!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Resting B&tch Face

Who knew Ellie had a "resting b&tch face?" Gotta love her cute neighbor, Leo, just wanting to be friends!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Practicing Crossties

I went to the barn for a Memorial Day hack (sorry Texas) and the barn was completely quiet. Ellie and I took the opportunity to "practice crossties" for tacking up and took our first trip around the indoor ring.

It was lovely.

I feel like the extra time outside in her run, the large turnouts, and having buds within biting distance has really quieted her mind. While I was expecting crazy mare during our cloudy, windy weekend- I ended up with a gal that, despite trantering, was happy to hang out with me and have a couple of low key "firsts" at the new place.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bionic Horse

Wilbur ended up with a small puncture wound on his shoulder- easily treated with Betadine and AluSpray (aluminum spray)- but earned him the nickname "bionic horse."

Having just seen Mad Max (3-D oh yeah), Paul suggested I spray some on my mouth before taking Ellie into battle. It was a great movie- highly recommend!

Monday, May 25, 2015

And the DingleBat award goes to....

What can cause more anxiety than a first lesson with a new trainer? Being late to that lesson- as I was when I ended up stuck in Memorial Weekend traffic.

It was my first overall ride at the new place so in addition to being late I also didn't have my routine down. I just ended up tacking her up in her stall to keep things simple and repeated my mantra, be brave, as we walked down the hill and into the ring.

Ellie, to her credit (her only credit), was decidedly chill despite the wind and cloudy skies so we managed to avoid any "arabian" moments which typically result in a small horse head in your face while the rest of her dashes off someplace.

No. Not today. Ellie had a new trick up her sleeve for me.

She decided that after every fourth trot step she would then pretend to pick up the left lead canter- which literally felt like she would canter a step off her left front...but then didn't actually canter.

This fake out led to a number of ramifications. Panic- is she lame? Why does she keep doing this? She must be off.

Indecision- how do I make this stop. Pull more? Kick more? "You want to canter- fine we'll canter. Oh really- you actually don't feel like cantering? Then STOP pretending like you want to canter."

And probably most embarrassing- wrong diagonals. Because every time she took her funny step I would pause a beat  before carrying on and then Diane would say "diagonal" and I would say (to myself) "you've got to be kidding me." Because throughout this whole situation I've also been thinking "perfect equitation for new trainer."

Where is the lovely collection? The using of the hind end that we've been working so hard on?

Oh Ellie. She is not lame. She does not want to canter. She is trying to get out of actually using her bootie and seems to think this is her ticket to a quick ride. Not so friend- despite trantering along three lessons in a row she finally settled down in my hack today. When there was no one around to see it of course!
Everyone seems to be twinning. And it was not planned. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Location, Location, Location (and Wilbur Update)

The new barn is unfortunately not closer to the house. Or work. Despite the ugly attempt to get out there on Tuesday night there is one major upside. It's down the street from Wilbur's barn which takes away the weekend indecisiveness of when to visit and the added time involved. Now even though the drive is a bit longer I can kill two birds with one stone.

Wilbur is in week three of his training program. The feedback from Amanda was very positive- "He's been great by the way!  He is a little nervous and jumpy, but very sensitive and respectful on the ground- he knows his manners and is nice to lunge.  I got on him and he rode like he's never had time off.  He's a little stiff on the front right on tight turns, no limp, just kind of awkward.  He's a nice boy, super willing and has a good foundation. I'm super pleased and enjoy working with him."

Couldn't have asked for a better report card!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Westhaven Farm

After two relatively cryptic posts, yes, Ellie and I did move barns and are now settling in as part of Westhaven Farm at the beautiful Fairmont Riding Club in Pleasanton, CA. While the move may appear abrupt to some, the decision was a long and agonizing one.

I love my KMT family- they're a great group of riders and I feel so lucky to have been a part of this barn! With the majority of the team being juniors, I enjoyed the "big sis" role and being a mentor as a workin' gal making a go at horse ownership. I have a feeling they're going to have a very successful season!

So why the switch right? Honestly, it's such a personal decision with so many different variables playing in. I would be lying if I didn't think to myself a few evenings this week "let's just go back 'home'." Change is hard, and sometimes it's even harder to know if it's for the better.
I think that Ellie and I can be a great team and I'd like to see if trying a different style of program may help us move down that path.

I have my first lesson with the new trainer on Friday and naturally I'm petrified! What if I'm terrible and she thinks I have no business riding at all... let alone a greenie? I did get word that the asst. trainer "absolutely loves Ellie," which is great. Everyone loves Ellie. Now here's hoping that Ellie and I can find that same connection!
Outdoor arenas- yes there are two! Catch the Eurosizer to the right? 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Moving Day

Favorite Barn Gals!

"I don't know about this Mum"

Liking her turnout! 

Bran Mash!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2015


Ellie loving her new turnout! Clearly a busy weekend for us and more to come on the new barn!

Thursday, May 14, 2015


This week has felt particularly exhausting. I am going to celebrate almost Friday by taking a nap.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Visit to See Pie

Despite the frigid temps on Sunday, I accompanied my friend Jen to visit her old horse and drop off some left over feed. Pie was recently sold to be part of a lesson program at a barn in the Oakland Hills that had just been renovated. I can never resist snooping.
Miss Pie is a massive mare and she had a lovely, large stall and I think she'll fit in well with the program! It was great to see her doing so well and fun to spend time with my friend!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Jumpy Jump Jump

We did a little jump around in our Saturday lesson. We've been joining the 12:30, which I've been a bit resistant to doing because I end up doing horse stuff for the better part of the day, but I'm finding it to feel very low pressure and this Saturday there were four folks (myself included) riding. One of those is my adult ammy friend, another Emily, whom I adore- it's fun to have friends in lessons!

After warming up over a small vertical and jumping through a grid a few times, I coerced Brook to put the grid up a few holes and we caught a bending line out, to a single vertical, to a line. Ellie's flatwork has been feeling really great but have been hearing that she's rushing a bit to the fences. I felt a little rush to the single vertical and the outside line (jumping into an oxer as the first fence) but sat and waited for the shorter spot.

She just gets excited. The few times that we've jumped "up" she's been very quiet and the smaller fences are starting to bore her (keeping in mind that of course I want a finished horse that is quiet to a fence at any height). We need to start jumping a little higher together. I feel as though I have a much better focus when I have something to ride at, rather than stare down at the fence.
I know, I know- ride the pace and track. I think that we end up in a vicious circle at the 2'-2'3" height of not seeing a distance, getting nervous, chasing or holding, panicking, and then we're back to square one again.

But there is hope for the two of us yet- which is exciting! Now to keep that positive momentum moving forward!
Jump all the things! Lick all the things!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

The critters (and Paul) always do a great job of making me feel special on Mother's day. Today we went to lunch and then saw the Avengers!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Wishlist: Sparkle Bit

Forget jewelry for Mother's Day. I want a Sparkle Bit. Handcrafted in Wyoming by Tom Balding, the Sparkle Bit (also known as the Ballhinge Ring Snaffle), is Ellie's favorite bit bar-none at the barn. Brook suggested I get a loose ring snaffle for a little leverage and that we use our plan Dee Ring for shows. Schooling bit with a little bling? Go big or go home.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Workout Wednesday

Back to the workout grind. I wouldn't say my shoulder is 100% back to normal but my desire to do more than lump on the couch has won out.
Paul likes to plan months of "things"- like only speaking Spanish in our house for a month (which lasted for about a half hour because neither of us know Spanish). This month he is doing a month of morning swim workouts which fits in perfectly with my schedule for 5:30am gym classes.

I am taking it way easy and bringing myself back slowly to avoid another injury- but it feels good to work up a sweat! As a secondary piece to my healthy lifestyle I am making more of a focus to drink water (helped along by an assortment of cute waterbottles from Target). I liken myself to a camel and siphon the water from the coffee I drink. Must hydrate!
The only downside is that I almost peed my pants on the way to the barn last night.
One of the owners, Sonja, on the jungle gym!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Wilbur's Training Log

And so begins Wilbur's training sessions with Amanda twice weekly with sign off from his vet.

From what I know about Amanda, she's been at Brown Ranch for 4+ years and if she had to pick one Western discipline to focus on it would be ranching. I was struck by how down to earth, yet professional she was. While I described the ideal, bomb proof QH I was looking for, she nodded and said she'd pony him up and let him snort at the cattle. Um- yes please!

I had mentioned early on in the conversation that he was fairly green and we all had a good laugh by our differing interpretations of green. To Amanda, a green horse means that it has been ridden once or twice. To me, well, he's been to a few shows but is still finishing up his flying lead changes.

She'll be riding him once a week and working on ground work for the second session. I'm looking forward to hearing her feedback and for Wilbur to find his niche!
Best Buds goofing around

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Great Week!

Ellie had a long week with training rides and lessons. I've been really impressed with the rides I've gotten out of her after a few training sessions with Brook. She gave me some of that same collected flatwork in our Saturday lessons and we actually ended up going AWOL in the 12:30 group and just jumping around at will. Right turn to that left lead fence? Let's give it a try!
Poor Brook was just like, "Ummm...can you at least tell me where you're going so I can coach you?"
Sorry! I cannot! Too busy jumping!

Friday afternoon nap!