Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tucker the Dressage Pony

Some photos and video from my dressage clinic with Pierre St. Jacques at CLR Stables last weekend!

I think Tucker's dressage work is really coming along well, if I do say so myself.  Still lots to work on, mostly me.  But I see signs of progress and I'll take it!

Turns out I stick out my tongue to do leg yields?
One of the lesser known lateral aids?

Love this one of him (don't look at me and my caved-in core).
Look how nicely he's sitting!

Love this canter.  Would really love it if I could actually sit to it...

I know he's getting a little too deep here, but I love this one too.
And I'm mostly sitting up, which is nice.

And now onto the videos....
(they are each quick clips, best stuff is in the first two if you don't feel like watching them all)

Huge THANK YOU to Anita (barn mom/photographer extraordinaire) and Ethan (boyfriend/videographer extraordinaire) for braving the cold and getting up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday to catch all this on film!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Last Hunter Pace of the Season

Yesterday Tucker and I joined some friends from my farm for the Covered Bridge Trail Association hunter pace, which starts at a farm across the street from where Tucker lives (very convenient!).  It turned out to be yet another absolutely perfect day.

Of course, it didn't quite start out perfect.  I picked up our friends Ethan and Gitano in the morning, and somehow ended up running about ten minutes behind schedule.  Then on the drive over to Tucker's farm, the skies were looking gray and rain drops were hitting my windshield.  I was feeling stressed and a bit doubtful that we'd have a good day for riding.  Then we stopped to register all the horses riding out from my farm on our way in, and a stop that I thought would take five minutes took twenty-five.  So for those keeping track, I am now running thirty minutes late.  When we pulled into the farm, everyone else was mounted.  I know you all know that feeling.

I sent the rest of the riders on their way so as not to compound my stress by feeling like I was holding up everyone else's ride, and tried to remind myself that this was supposed to be fun.  By the time I was on my horse and riding across our property, after few deep breaths and a couple of visits with Ethan's trusty flask (oh c'mon, I know it's before noon but it was really cold), I started to relax.  And then the sun started peeking through the clouds, and I got a little more encouraged.

The first part of the ride went as usual, except that Tucker was a bit more "up" than he's been in the past, but it was cold and fall leaves were blowing around so I didn't think much of it.  Then the first time we hit a nice stretch of hay field to have a little canter through, I realized Tucker wasn't so much channeling his inner Seabiscuit, but rather being possessed by one of the demon horses that pulls Hades' chariot.  As the field sloped downward and bent a hard left, and Tucker latched onto the bit and hurtled himself ever faster, I started wondering, Are all my affairs in order? 

Thankfully, our little Paso friend Gitano was slightly less... um... possessed by demons, and was able to return to a walk just in time for the path to bend around another hard right.  While Tucker Orphnaeus was oblivious to my efforts to stop the runaway freight train despite my standing in my stirrups, leaning back and pulling with all my tiny might (my shoulders are still sore from that one), he is not one to leave a buddy, so he returned to something akin to a battle march and snorted ominously, muttering something about the apocalypse and entrances to the netherworld.

The next part of the ride was alongside a road which I used as a good excuse to walk for a bit, repeat the Hail Mary and attempt to get my blood pressure to subside.  For reasons that will only ever be known to Tucker (or perhaps it was just those few more sips of rum), at some point he just took a big deep breath and decided to be his usual perfect-trail-horse self for the remainder of the ride.  And then we had fun.  The views were spectacular, the company was charming, and the horses were happy.  And the rest of our gallops were all intentional.  Always a plus.

Much better.

Beautiful ride!

All smiles... was it the sunshine?  The horses?  The rum?

I was also able to settle a matter that's been troubling me a bit... and am pleased to tell you that Tucker is, in fact, way faster than his little Paso Fino sidekick.  Yes I do realize that he's twice his size and this should not have even been up for debate, but it was, and I'm pleased to report has been resolved in our favor after three separate races.  Do not let anyone convince you that he was "letting us win."  That's nonsense.  My horse may be somewhat lackadaisical about life, but he is in fact quite fast when he wants to be.

When we got back from the ride, I got a chance to sit on my first gaited horse, and have to say it was pretty fun.  I mean I felt completely like a fish out of water and had zero idea what I was doing but Gitano was a pretty good sport about it and luckily for me seems like he's got a pretty good sense of humor.  I think we look pretty cute together to tell you the truth.

Two more pictures to share with you, mostly because I want you to see that for every nice picture I get of my horse and post on the blog, there is at least one where he's in full on derp mode and my face is just full of disdain.  I kind of can't stop laughing at this one.

Note the flared left nostril as he attempts to yank the reins from my hands.

Well at least three of us look happy about this photo.

We met back up with everyone from my farm at the end of the day and I'm glad to say that everyone ended up having a wonderful ride.  All in all I'd say our first CLR Stables hunter pace, and the last hunter pace of my season, was a success!