Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New kid on the block

If there was ever a higher force that has a sense of humor, I have a feeling that force and I have a long standing game of gotcha for a number of years.

When I was initially horse shopping eons ago, I wasn't looking for chestnut, mare, or anything remotely near that. I was looking for branded, black and stupid. Several years later, I still have a blonde chestnut, a blinged-out chestnut, and now, another chrome-ladened chestnut mare. I have the flashiest bunch on the farm hands down.

Reba stumbled into my barn purely by accident, I was looking around for another project, potentially another investment, and Maryanna Haymond, a friend and prolific breeder turned me over to Arielle Perry who was looking for a situation for her mare Reba's Song for four years during school.

Lots of Facebook messages, contracts, shipping arrangements and plans later. The well-bred Hanoverian mare arrived at 3am in Lexington.

A little less than three months later, she's coming along quickly. 

Reba is a southern diva and a half. Where Sinari is Tina Turner, Reba is the steel magnolia version of Aretha Franklin and Scarlett O'Hare. She's got a warm personality, and a work ethic to die for (makes the pony look lazy).  She also came with an in hand and materiale resume that is fairly extensive. Wins at Devon, Grand Champions at competitive shows like Raleigh, the girl isn't a stranger to the arena. 

Right now, we're just refocusing on fitness, she hasn't seen too much action in the last year and we're going to spend the winter developing her to second level, and then set out to compete. In between we'll go to the little winter schooling series.

This is a bit of a daunting challenge, because even though she gets everything mentally quick, the body is still catching up from the work. What's compounding the situation is that the weather has taken a turn and hacking opportunities have become limited  at best. Bare feet and slippery surfaces don't mix. So, It means that we'll be taking a few trips to KESMARC to do more fitness work in the near future.

But for now, she's coming up and fits right in.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

I’ll carry you home tonight

It's the end of a long, winding show season.

While I enjoy showing, and competing, I'm not too unhappy to bid adieu to 2012. It was a growth year, and the spurts, while necessary, were painful at times.

But things were surprising at this last show, the pony really put solid efforts in despite my pilot errors (errr.... left from right) and a number of people came out and made lovely comments on the work and the development since July.

I was really mentally prepared for this to be the last show, in fact in my head I pretty much ended the season three weeks ago after National Dressage Pony Cup and was in vacation land at Devon. I nearly forgot my show bag, I lost (and found) my credit cards, girth, drivers license and keys a few times, I didn't have everything in order, and I still had a stack of laundry in the car a mile high from September.

But we went on, not really knowing what to expect, and in the end I didn't get what I wanted, but got exactly what I needed. 

Around July, I thought I made a really good decision for the pony. Knock her down to the Jr's and let her ride out the rest of her competitive life in second level balance. I think Sinari caught wind of this and decided to pull a trump card, she really started to blossom in the work. 

When I sat down and started to chat about the lease situation for her, the attitude of everyone had changed as a whole. Apparently there was enough chatter in the air and the pony looked the part of an, albeit green, FEI horse to be considered truly as a contender for the I1 and potentially the I2. All parties at that point agreed that another year in the levels would only be beneficial to both of us and we tabled the discussion for the lease until that time. 

But the peanut gallery also had some nice things to mention about the training and development as well, which after so many years of just poking along it was a huge clap on the back and gold star for the work done over the years.

So, we've been invited to come and train in a few places. We're already looking at 2013 schedules and how to fit things in. Just thinking about 2013 makes me happier, but we really need the mental break. The ante has definitely been upped and the expectations have now been laid.

Because it's fall and we're at the end, I'm now catching up on all the professional appointments that I've neglected in the past few months.  Like dentists, saddle fitting and fall shots.

Saddle fitting was the start of the list (followed by fall shots for all). Sinari's is in production so, no news on that front, but new girl, Reba, has been turned in to an accidental saddle princess.

Normally the new horses aren't so picky right away- they usually ease their way into things. Not Reba. From the moment she stepped off the trailer she commands everyone's attention. If Sinari is Tina Turner, this is Aretha Franklin meets Steel Magnolias. 

We tried three or four Counties on her the other evening. Already a half size bigger than the pony, the new girl really expressed her opinion about ill fitting tack, namely sucking back, going inverted, and trying to do the dump n' run.

Not typical for this really sweet girl who's been working her tail off.

Finally, we resorted to the old stand-by: County Competitor. And low, in the proper tree width and seat size, anything is possible. 

This is the third horse I've ridden that saddle in, and it seems to suit a greener, unfit horse, while giving me the stability I really need for the in case of moments. But it will be hilarious if we end up again in a Perfection about two years down the pike.

I'm just happy to be home to concentrate on the next  few months and develop the herd.