Lesson 11/24/18

I had a lesson Saturday, but didn’t get to write about it until now since we did Thanksgiving dinner that afternoon. I got home and needed to cook and get the toddler to nap and totally forgot to journal my ride! Before this week, Pluto had only jumped twice since Washington. We were supposed to show this coming weekend, so Pluto needed to jump a bit and prepare. (We can’t do that show after all, because I double booked a Breakfast with Santa for the exact same time.  You can’t cancel on him in December, because he’s super busy and that will land your butt on the naughty list!) In my other lessons this week, we kept the jumps very low, so to prep for the show, we put them a little higher (about 2’9″ probably).

Pluto said, “no thanks! It’s cold!”

We warmed up at the trot then trotted back and forth through three poles set at an extended trot to three poles set for a collected trot about 20-30 feet away. We then added cantering down the long side and coming back to the trot for the rails. My trainer added two flower boxes as a one stride on the long side, and Pluto thought it definitely had teeth. He went right over it, but definitely finagled his body so the monster couldn’t eat him. When we cantered the other way, we added a rail set three strides to a 1’ jump.

We didn’t get video, so my mom will be very happy that the course maps are back

I can’t remember if we warmed up over any jumps, but Pluto was very strong so we had to modify our courses and cut out the lines toward home. We were able to have a soft, balanced canter to the jumps, but he had to be rebalanced hard after each jump.

As we picked up the canter for a second course that included full lines, someone drove a four wheeler/ golf cart (I have no idea what it is called) into the ring, because there was a missing dog concern. Pluto found this very exciting and got much stronger. After the first jump, we halted and adjusted the course and did some singles with halts after. We were able to stay soft and balanced before the jump and halt after, which is usually really hard for us (and wasn’t entirely easy today).

I’m bummed about the show, but luckily there is one the following week and I’m excited to take my daughter to meet Santa!

Lesson 11/23/18

The temperature dropped about 15-20° to below 30° for my lesson yesterday, so Pluto was a bit of a freight train! (For years, I’d been using an asterisk for my degree sign, but yesterday my friend taught me how to make ° on my phone. It literally blew my mind, and life will never be the same.) Because it was so cold, we let them stretch and warm up for a long time. At the trot, we worked on their shape by asking them to bend and counterbend. There were two poles set up in a long 5 stride line. For our canter work, we worked on adjustability by cantering them in 5 strides and then 6 strides. At this point in the lesson, Pluto was fresh but still coming back to me nicely.

We kept the jumps about 1′ to 18″ since it was freezing. We began with the same course from Wednesday with a balanced but active canter and halted at the end of each line. Pluto felt balanced and lovely and came back to me nicely each time. (I have some video, so unfortunately no course maps today. I know everyone (e.g. my mom) will be disappointed.)

We then set off to do a course where we alternated between a steady canter/ adding a stride and going forward/ leaving the stride out. It became clear after the first line that Pluto was too forward for that course (see clip above–my videographer was also on a horse so bare with us through the whole clip).

We altered our course to include more transitions and maintain a balanced, collected canter. Pluto was pulling the ol’ “stronger towards the barn and softer away,” so we ended with a line away from the barn. He ended with a nice soft halt, and we quit on that since I have another lesson today (in fact, I am leaving now!)

Happy Thanksgiving and lesson 11/21/18

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m so thankful for my family, Pluto, and all the amazing opportunities I had this year. I am so fortunate and have so much to be thankful for!

I had a really great lesson yesterday. Before I get to that, though, how much better is my course map (below)?! It only took me forever to make!

Anyway, back to my lesson. We began by working in a forward trot and then added transitions while maintaining our impulsion. For our canter work, we did a forward canter, then shortened his stride and stepped over a 1 foot jump. We worked on keeping our pace consistent and just meeting the jump.

We then cantered a course of long rides to singles, and we worked on keeping our pace consistent and his balance up to me. It was so clear that regardless of my pace, when I have him balanced and my hands soft, we have many more options to the jumps. I realized that even if I’m keeping a steadier pace, I have to fix my canter to make sure it’s balanced, coming from behind, and not backward before every jump.

It was such a great lesson for learning!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone eats lots of yummy food!

Definitive List of the All Time Best Horse Movies

To begin, this isn’t really a definitive list; it’s just my favorite horse movies. Also, I’ve definitely forgotten some of my favorites, so I might come back to add more. I do what I want!

8. Harry and Snowman

All images from Google Images

My mom donated to the kickstarter campaign for this movie, so we were very excited about it long before it came out. It’s a fascinating true story about a trainer who saves a horse from slaughter who ultimately ends up becoming a successful jumper. I also love seeing what horse shows were like in the 1960s.

7. Phar Lap

I admittedly haven’t seen this movie in 20 years, but it used to be my favorite movie. It’s about an Australian race horse, and I very vividly remember a scene where they’re galloping him over sand dunes to build strength and he’s falling because he’s so tried. It’s heartbreaking, but the movie is a great reminder about the importance of being sensitive to your horse and truly understanding what he needs.

6. Seabiscuit

The ultimate ugly duckling movie! I remember listening to the book on tape as I pulled up to a horse show, and I wouldn’t get out of the car until I heard if he won his big race (spoiler alert: he did).

5. Miracle of the White Stallions

You know you’re an animal person when you wonder about animal welfare during important historical events. If you’re curious how the Lipizzaner horses of Vienna survived WWII, Disney lays it all out for you while showing beautiful footage of the work done at the Spanish Riding School. I can’t imagine it would be interesting to anyone who isn’t a horse lover or history buff, but if you are either, it is amazing! And, you will be forever thankful for General Patton, Colonel Podhajsky, and everyone who loves horses and puts horses’ needs above their own.

4. National Velvet

Who doesn’t want to live in England and ride around jumping hedges after watching this movie? This movie should really be higher on the list, but why do they have American accents in England?! I think every horse crazy young girl can identify with Velvet, and we’ve all dreamed of miraculously coming to own a horse like The Pie!

3. Black Beauty

This movie/ book is the reason I can’t sell horses. Actually, this book created every horse anxiety I have: putting them away before they’re cooled out properly, barn fires, crossing bridges. It’s just one horrific event after another. Why do I love this movie?!

2. Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken

Close your eyes, Sonora! Close your eyes!!! A few years ago, I heard rumblings of bringing horse diving back, and I think this movie definitely helped shut that down.

1. International Velvet

I sometimes pretend this movie is so bad that it’s good, but I actually just straight up love it. I love that the timeline doesn’t add up (a horse has to be 8 to compete in the Olympics, but their timeline would mean Arizona is only 6). I love the cast (Christopher Plummer and Anthony Hopkins!)! I love that she has such a bad attitude. It’s just similar enough to other horse movies to feel familiar and different enough to be so interesting. Plus, he pays for her riding by writing smut novels, and that is brilliant and crazy relatable. And a baller idea. In fact, I need to start writing some R rated novels $$$.

So, that’s the definitive list of the 8 best horse movies that I could remember today. Truthfully, if I’m watching something with horses, it’s probably a clinic DVD, because I am truly that nerdy.

What are your favorite horse movies? And, I apologize if I forgot a movie or you don’t like something I said. Just let me know in the comments.

Lesson 11/16/18

As I mentioned, I started this blog to track my lessons and shows, and I’ve been a loyal lesson journaler (my phone thinks I made that word up, but I think it’s legit) for about a year now. I like to include images and diagrams for myself, but I didn’t get any pictures or videos. Please don’t be too impressed with my high tech course maps! Obviously I missed my calling making course maps in the notes app on my phone.

We started the lesson doing lengthening and shortening at the trot and canter and doing some turn on the haunches. We were working on not letting the horses get over bent either direction or throwing their shoulders out. We then warmed up circling over two jumps set across the ring.

I was able to find one of the jumps pretty consistently but kept losing my canter to the other one and getting deep. My third time around, I balanced my canter better and they both worked out just right.

We then moved on to a figure eight over a six stride exercise:

The first time through, he was behind my leg and too slow. When I balanced him up to me and developed a medium canter and a soft hand, we were able to maintain our balance and canter through the turns and do the exercise nicely. Of course, then Katie made me turn back to the second jump to add the 6 stride line.

The first time we did this exercise, our figure eight worked out really nicely. Then, because his balance and canter were so good, he jumped the in of the line hard and I became disorganized. I was able to steady for the six but not as nicely as I would have liked. We went again, and I got too deep to the second jump, but I was able to stay much more organized and make the steady six work. We ended with a single and the six away from home, and we were able to keep our nice canter for three jumps.

I know this is really dry and my drawn course maps leave much to be desired, but… there’s really no but. It was a really interesting lesson but I don’t know if it translates well into a blog post. I’ll try to figure out a better course map system for next time.

My Experience at Washington International Horse Show, Part 2: It Ends

If you haven’t already read My Experience at Washington International Horse Show, Part 1: It Begins, I recommend you start there. You won’t be lost or anything, but I feel that it will help enhance the drama.

As you might remember, Pluto and I had just warmed up in the arena at 5:00 am with all the other adult amateur riders, and I was back at the hotel hoping to get a quick nap.

My daughter woke up about an hour after I got back to the hotel room, so there was no sleep in my future. We grabbed breakfast, packed our luggage into the car, and checked out of the hotel. We went to the show to hang out, where we went shopping and bought a small horse doll for my daughter.

When I rode at 5 am, Pluto felt a bit up, so I decided to take him for a walk up and down the street to expel a little of his energy. People would stop us to ask for pictures, which was really fun.

This is my friend and not someone I met on the street

Around 4:00, my daughter and husband left to go home. My class wasn’t expected to begin until 8:00, so I wouldn’t ride until after her bedtime. My mother and friend, Caroline, came to hang out with me. We watched and cheered on another Caves Farm rider who was doing the Children’s Hunters. She put in truly spectacular trips! My mom, Caroline, and I then went to grab dinner. There was an idea that we might be able to hack in the ring with the jumps up, but that dream with quickly squashed.

When we returned to the show after dinner, it was basically time to show. I changed into my show clothes and went to watch the first few trips in my class with my trainer. Some of the horses were having trouble, which made my anxiety skyrocket.

After watching a few trips, I got on Pluto at the warm up ring, which was spacious and easy to navigate. Just kidding! It was smaller than a Starbucks in New York City and had two huge columns in the middle. All of the riders had to go the same direction and there was literally no room to pass or really make any adjustments. I quickly trotted and cantered before popping a couple jumps. When you came out of the corner, there were maybe 2 strides to the jump and about 30 people in the space with you. Pluto handled the whole situation with total grace, but I am still haunted by it when I close my eyes. At least no warm up ring will ever seem scary again (until next year when I hopefully get to go back!)

I like to keep moving before going into the show ring, so Pluto and I did about 1,000 five foot circles waiting to go in. Then it was my turn!

As we walked into the ring, I felt excited and anxious. I thought about where I was and all the amazing horses who had shown there before me. Then Pluto spooked at a jump and I snapped right out of it. We picked up our canter and headed to the first jump. I saw a long spot but never released my hands, so Pluto did a big ol’ chocolate chip, which admittedly is my specialty. We turned the corner to the next jump and did exactly the same thing, causing a rail to fall. I then took a second to fix my focus and gave Pluto a little extra leg. We found the next 4 jumps nicely, although we had to move up some down the lines. Many horses had been spooking to the last line, a four stride to a two. Pluto hesitated slightly on take off, knocking another rail, but finished the line beautifully. I was so impressed with Pluto every step of the way, and I couldn’t have asked more of him.


We knew we weren’t coming back for the second round, so we put Pluto away and I watched the rest of the class. Then, my mother and I got to head home, because I live less than an hour from DC.

I can’t say enough about what a unique, fun, and incredible experience it is. I am so hopeful that I will get to go again next year!