We’ve definitely had a busy few weekends, which is honestly how I like it. I spend all winter hibernating; once it’s warm outside I want to be out and doing something all the time. The schooling trial two weeks ago, XC schooling last weekend and then most recently, the Sharon White clinic this past weekend.

Last May with Sharon on Iggs

This is the sixth? seventh? time I’ve ridden with Sharon and I just adore her. She’s incredibly positive, but she’ll definitely still push you and with her encouragement, you feel like you can do just about anything. Not to mention, she’s an incredible rider, but more importantly – she gets horses unlike anyone I’ve ever known.

Also from last year ❤️

She met Archie this winter at the December clinic and liked him, but we were still learning each other, jumping baby stuff and gaining confidence. This time, Archie and I were really clicking, it feels like we’re having breakthroughs practically weekly and we had that fantastic liverpool lesson just days before on Tuesday night.

Saturday was stadium day. (No photos or video from Saturday, so you get Sunday XC photos) I hate going first in lessons/clinics/whatever. In part from nerves and in part because I get lost like, every single day. Yet Saturday, I was like, YUP we’ll go and just went for it. We warmed up over a vertical on a fairly tight circle and Arch was like, “Hi, I’m Archie, I’m Fancy and everyone should look at me.” My regular trainer has been working on my position – I stand up a little more than let my hips push backwards over fences. Not a big deal at 2’3″ or even really 2’6″, but it’s not a great habit to carry forward. Wouldn’t you know, warming up over those fences, it just.. clicked. Boom. Got it. It felt fantastic.

We moved to coursework which was full of rollbacks and turns. It was only 5 fences, but it was tight (there were seven other jumps in the ring I didn’t put on here too). The first vertical kept going up and up too – I have no idea how big it actually ended up being but my eyes definitely bugged out a little cantering down to it the last time.

Vertical, rollback left to another vertical, bending six to a wide oxer, super tight rollback/u-turn back to another vertical, up through a tiny gap around the end to rollback to an oxer and then we had to turn right at the end. Arch thought this course was great fun.

The turn from 3 to 4 was by far the hardest and despite nailing it twice, our third time through, I saw the deep one at 3, Achie saw the flyer, we landed a little disorganized, and he gave me the middle finger. Sharon, never one to blame the horse, actually called Archie on this one – he’s an amateur horse, the fences are 2’6″, I’m allowed to miss here and there and he’s not allowed to hold it against me the rest of the ride. Sure, the fix is ‘never miss’ but let’s be real. I’m going to miss. He can’t get so offended that he decides he’s not jumping.

Acts like his life is the WORST

Arch and I had a quick life chat and it finished out great. Even with the small issue, I was so happy with the day. We had one rail the entire day (my fault), my position felt strong and I was reminded how much I love jumping this horse. He makes jumping so easy. I knew Sunday was going to take some work on my part, but it was the perfect precursor to XC.

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The mental and physical game

Full recap of our weekend with Sharon White to come (once I shake off the clinic hangover, omg I am exhausted), but I’ve walked away from the last two weekends with so much information. Namely, much of Archie and my challenges come from a place of fear. In stadium, he knows the drill so even when I get a little bug eyed at a fence, he’s not concerned. But take us out onto the XC course and he feels that hesitation or fear and he thinks, “Well shit, if she’s hesitating, I shouldn’t jump that.” Except, it escalates when he stops: I get more nervous, he starts throwing himself around (after all, why is his crazy owner trying to make him jump something she’s nervous about?), which feeds right back into the cycle. Now some of this is Archie taking advantage and being a dick. Lots of this is my own riding. It’s the combination that puts us into an unfortunate place. Once I get confident, he’s fine – I’ve seen this as I’ve gotten comfortable with the smaller XC fences.

Confident enough to hack bareback in a halter

It boils down to two things: physical and mental strength.

The physical is straightforward: when I’m stronger, I’m less nervous. I don’t worry that every big jump or minor disobedience will land me on my ass. I’m more confident to try new things. I also die a little less in my lessons which is always a positive. This is the easy one to solve. I’m back on my spin bike, back into yoga, adding pilates and some weights. I don’t love working out, but if I remember I’m doing it for riding (literally my Peloton name is @thepartypony) it makes it easier to do. And spin is fun at least.

Spin area backdrop

Mental on the other hand… that’s the harder one. Repetition helps. The more I jump something, the easier it gets. But that’s not always possible, particularly when it comes to showing. And it’s totally lizard brain taking over, because if I think through it logically, I’m fine. BN black rolltop at home: I’ve jumped it 100 times between Doc and Iggy. Never had a problem with it. It always jumps well. We were jumping it coming towards home, which is always easier. What was I afraid of? That he’d jump it giant and unseat me? He’s never done that before. That he’d take off? Never done that. Worrying about a stop? Well, if I worry about the stop and think he’s going to stop, the horse is going to stop! No kidding. A quick tap on the shouder or behind the leg to remind him I mean business is usually all it takes. But that tap? Takes the mental willpower of an elephant. Despite that my horse has never lost it over a quick tap.

Ditches: perfect example of mental stuff. Not even any height but our brains go 🤯

I struggled for years with fear after my riding accident. Like, went from a happy hunter kiddo to being afraid to have a lunge line lesson. Then afraid to canter. Afraid to ride outside an arena. It’s hard to accurately represent the terror I had as a kid. I distinctly remember sitting on my trainer’s older than dirt gelding for an entire “lesson” – and when he shifted his weight to cock a back foot, being in sobbing tears of fear. The fact that I ride, much less event, twenty years later is remarkable. The fact that I’m able to work through my fear 99% of the time is amazing and a testament to a lot of hard mental work as a kid. This fear is not that fear. That fear was paralyzing. This is just self-doubt.

And some major side eye

So, I’ve bought the books. Signed up for the classes. Brought it up to work on in therapy.

I’m not afraid to do the work. I’m afraid of what will happen if I don’t do the work.

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Liverpools and cross training

My standing Tuesday evening lesson started mid-winter when I was frustrated and hitting a brick wall. It started as just groundwork, evolved into flatwork and has settled in as my dressage lesson. I give huge credit to having that dedicated time to the improvement Archie and I have seen as a team and the fact that of my three event horses, he’s the one I can consistently keep the connection with the best. This week a friend asked if she could crash and another boarder has been dropping into it when she can, so it became a 6:15pm jump lesson which I was perfectly okay with in preparation for this weekend’s Sharon White clinic.

Chestnut QH gelding lesson

We warmed up over a small vertical, focusing on keeping the ride quiet and consistent, and from the first steps I could tell Archie came to play today. We had one weird moment where he suddenly stopped being able to function at all, but I pulled him up to see what was happening and realized somehow he’d managed to get a giant chunk of grass… in his eye? I literally do not know how. Issue resolved, we continued on, switched directions and got to work.

Sometime in the last week, they drug the liverpool out under one of the fences. I was 99.8% positive Archie had never seen one before (nor had the other two) so we spent some time just trotting over it by itself. He got ever so slightly looky to it the first time, realized it was boring and proceeded to hop over like nbd each time after. It got set to a starter-ish size vertical and we practiced coming down the line – liverpool to oxer, left handed rollback to a vertical, bending back to the liverpool, left turn back to a vertical, bending back to the oxer – kind of a figure 8 type pattern. From there, around to the two (aka an Archie three) stride, tight rollback to an oxer, bending to a vertical.

First liverpool

I realized this weekend a lot of my nerves come from worrying I can’t ride something. Perfect example: Archie was being an ass on Saturday and needed a reminder that adult, sane horses do not act that way. But my brain was going, as soon as I do that, he’s gonna lay me on my ass. The solution is (obviously) not to let him do whatever the hell he wants – the solution is I have to get stronger to ride the horse.

Smile makes it worth it though

Archie genuinely loves stadium – the twisty, turny courses suit him so well and keeps his brain moving enough to quiet all the little voices. He was so good that when my trainer asked after our first course how I thought it was, I said I’d dropped my eye in one of my bending lines which dropped the back rail of the oxer, but was otherwise happy and she (not one to hand out compliments) said nevermind that (I wasn’t wrong hah), that she thought it had been great. That he’d been great and I’d come out and rode the horse with direction and instruction from the first stride. I just about fell over. I knew it’d felt good, but great?! I ended up riding the wonky line once more and the course once more in entirety and that was it – the entire lesson. It felt so good to come out and be able to lay down a course like that (might I add a harder course than one would normally find at starter) right off the bat. I just have to come out with my brain ready to say, “let’s go Arch,” and mean it. Weird the way that works, huh?

New barn game/poll: clipper marks or dapples

Which is how I’ve found myself knee-deep in spin and pilates again. Spin is so nice, because with the addition of my bike, I can take a 20 or 30 minute class during lunchtime without the logistical nightmares. Pilates is down the street and hard as fuck, but worth it (please tell this to 16 year old Holly who took pilates as a ‘fun, relaxing easy class’ WTF) for the core strength.

Progress takes time, but I’m excited – twice weekly lessons, the upcoming clinic with Sharon (including XC on Sunday pleasepleaseplease don’t rain please), plus cross training – I feel really good about finally accomplishing my goal to run at IEA in a month (3.5 weeks actually but who’s counting idk). Now to just deal with the smalllllll detail called ‘I forgot to get a hotel room and now they’re all sold out hahahahahaha maybe I can sleep in Archie’s stall with him’. Minor detail, right?

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The summer of XC schooling

The Hoosier Horse Park, our local show/XC venue (also host to the 1987 Pan Am Games, fun fact) offered open XC schooling this weekend and we took advantage to prepare for IEA Horse Trials at the beginning of next month. They didn’t put a lot of jumps out, but there was water and honestly, plenty of fences for my level (aka THE SMALL SHIT).

The face I got at 6am

We needed to be down there by 8am which meant a 5am alarm clock and being on the road by 6:30am – ouch. Loading was an adventure itself (tl;dr Archie had never been in a straight load, he was awful for 30 minutes and then the mom with us took him, patted his neck and walked him right on at which point he looked at us and went, “What’s the big deal guys?” HORSES.) but soon enough we were on the road, everyone unloaded easily and we got tacked up. Our lesson wasn’t due to start until 9:30 so we decided we’d just go hack around. Archie wasn’t so sure what this giant open field was all about, but after kaleidoscoping his head around, he settled right in and was happy to go hack around.

Happy hacker

Due to scheduling I ended up in a lesson with a junior and another amateur from my barn who are both schooling training level so we spent some time watching the ‘big brave horses jump big things’. It was really, really good for Archie’s brain to just be out and about. We made our way to the water complex – it’s a really nice one down there – big shallow entrance, plus banks of every size in and out. We have a small water at home Archie goes in and out of all the time, plus I make him walk through every puddle in our path. Yet, this water? This water was TERRIFYING. We tried to follow other horses in, we had his friends stand in the water, we tried standing next to the water. Arch was not having it. Finally, I ended up getting off and walking him in a few times and it seemed to click in his brain that this was the same thing as at home. Cue facepalm. After that we went in and out about a hundred times. He still tried to be an ass and insist he was afraid about midway through, but guess what, he’s a terrible liar.

This fence is so cute

From the water, I found some cute starter fences I said I wanted to jump. A little grey coop and a baby hanging rail – we jumped them both individually and then strung them together. For all of Archie’s insistence he had no idea what he was doing earlier that day, when it came to jumping he went, “Yawn, this?” and loped around all of them. This horse is wildly frustrating sometimes and then 10 minutes later he’ll be perfect. Humbling sport, that’s for sure.

We finished the day with another little coop over on the backside (near the old water, for those familiar) and finally, with another one set two strides off a little hill/path through the woods. We jumped them both ways and this damn horse didn’t put a foot wrong. With that we called it a day – Archie had jumped a grand total of 5 fences, probably about 12 efforts and was soaked like he’d just run prelim, but that’s what happens when you a) insist on being a drama llama and b) are a little… rotund at the moment.

There is a horse in this photo believe it or not

I came off course having gone through a rollercoaster of emotions – everything from ‘f this, I should sell him’ to ‘wow, he’s going to be so fun next month!’ but two days later I can say we’re going to be just fine. It’s hard to go from a horse like Iggy, who had totally been there-done that, gone Training, etc. to Arch, who I still have to remember had never been offsite XC schooling before Saturday and has XC schooled maybe seven? eight? times total. We’re going to IEA next month with zero pressure. If we get down there and can do a dressage test? Awesome. If we feel good enough to jump stadium? Super. If we can hold our brain together in XC warmup? Great! If we jump one XC fence? That’s an accomplishment. We’re going for the experience, not the show record or ribbons. The more experiences and repetition we get, the better we’ll be. Once upon a time, Doc and Iggy and every other horse I’ve ridden was green on XC too. The only way it gets better is practice. Summer of XC schooling it is.

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Pony Stalker

I have to confess to an obsession: I stalk the FEI Eventing ponies in Europe. I half-blame Amanda for her role modeling in horse stalking (ahem, every Mighty Magic and Tullabeg Fusion baby ever), but I’ll own my pony bias. It started with Iggy the Pocket Rocket and even though Archie is horse/hony sized (15h), I’m now 120% on the eventing pony train. I love a little guy.

O Ma Doué Kersidal - Elevage de Tassine O Ma Doué Kersidal
O Ma Doue Kersidal

I watch the CCIP* and ** events on FEI and stalk results. I follow an embarrassing number of FEI pony riders on Instagram. I google pony names and breeding and photos of them. I creep sales ads.

Divine Meniljean

The truth is I probably wouldn’t be able to ride 80% of them – they’re spicy, sassy little things over there with straight up jet packs attached to their feet. Does it stop me from daydreaming? Absolutely not. The Europeans man, they’re like, “Oh it’s 14h? Of course it can jump 1.1m XC” or “It has questionable brakes? Perfect pony for a 9 yr old.”

Boston du Verdon

Americans are so weird about height – I see so many ads where people won’t look at anything under 16h and I just don’t get it. The day I went from a 16.1h horse to something hony sized, it was like angels sang. I’m short and it’s just harder for me physically to ride something big. I don’t think I’d ever want to jump at the FEI level, pony heights or not (the CCIP* jumps 1.05m which is still bigger than I care to face down on a XC course), but I love that there’s this high level of competition available for them. Did I mention you have to be under 16? Bold kids.

No photo description available.
Boston du Verdon

So, I’m exposing myself as the creepy FEI pony stalker. And if you see a fancy eventing pony show up in Indiana… don’t uh, look at me.

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May 2021 Schooling Show Recap

My barn does nearly monthly schooling shows throughout show season. They’re super useful because my trainer sets legit courses and brings in “R” and “r” judges who also regularly judge at recognized USEA events in our area. Add in they’re at home (no hauling!) and extremely affordable – it’s a great way to get some atmosphere and school before heading to recognized events.

This might be my new favorite photo of Archie, where he does not want to wear his bonnet and gives me a look of absolute murder.

Our second of the season was Saturday, so I signed up to do a Green as Grass (18″/crossrails) round and another at Starter. We’ve consistently been jumping Starter height at home (or even BN!), but I knew with some additional atmosphere, Archie could be a little worked up and figured a quick jaunt around the small stuff would be confidence building for both of us.

He did greet my car Saturday morning like this and I almost cried not gonna lie

We had early ride times and he was definitely a little ‘up’ (…for Archie. Being up means we walked around really fast snorting for like a solid 3 minutes before realizing that was a lot of work) so I tried to give him a nice, relaxed warmup and went for a long walk around the farm away from the busyness as much as possible. By the time we went down centerline, he was about as relaxed as I felt I was going to get him that morning. He held it together for 97% of the test and it was definitely one of the best we’ve had (of a sample size of like 4 but whatever).

He had one sassy moment in our first canter circle where he “bucked” (nobody tell him he can’t actually buck very well), I trotted too soon after the walk work (brain fart) and he got a little antsy in our second trot circle with a few strides where he broke to the canter, but other than those, I was honestly so proud and happy of the little guy. Our trot work was worlds better than the last time we did this test and almost as good as its been in lessons, our canter work was some of the absolute best canter we’ve had and he even *drumroll* had his ears up for most of my test. Showoff wants an audience apparently.

Can you spot the “buck”?

I was absolutely gleeful with a 35 (a 65% for you dressage people). A 35 with two big mistakes that are easy to resolve? I’ll take that all day. Those are easy points to pick back up, plus some smaller ones (ahem, where did that nice square halt disappear to Archie?) and for a horse who has been doing dressage really only since January.

Our stadium rounds were great (minus the moment he decided to jump a crossrail like it was 2’6″… wtf dude and deciding to start our Starter round on the wrong lead despite having auto changes) – double clears and the one at Starter he was absolutely fantastic. Even when I didn’t see a distance and shoved an extra stride in down the outside line, oops. There was a really tight rollback and he said, “game on” and got it done like it was a piece of cake.

I shoved an extra stride in here and made my horse jump straight up but he’s a saint so

We took our nice jaunt around the 18″ division XC fences and he was great, although I expected nothing less seeing as we walk over most of those jumps multiple times a week on hacks. (We ended up 2nd so we did bring home a pretty ribbon) Our Starter round started fine – popped over a little log we schooled a few weeks ago, we were coming to a little slatted table and all of a sudden… the front of my horse disappeared out from under me. Somehow Arch had tripped (?) and he fell hard – my trainer happened to be almost right there jump judging and she said his face was practically on the ground. I slid off right over his head and landed basically sitting down. It was an incredibly slow motion, gentle fall and I landed still holding his reins. Archie stared at me in confusion for a minute, wondering what the hell I was doing down there. I was (and am) completely fine – I’ve fallen harder tripping over stuff on my own feet, but wanted to make sure he was okay. He had grass on his legs, but seemed to be no worse for wear. Honestly nobody knows how he did it – the ground wasn’t slick, he doesn’t wear shoes, nobody could find a hole or anything, so we’ve just chalked it up to a freak ‘forgot I had four legs’ kinda thing. I got back on (schooling shows woohoo) and jumped around a few fences in warmup and then between divisions, popped over a few small XC fences just to end on a positive note.

I went out and checked him yesterday and he’s totally fine, not a bump or bruise, so it doesn’t seem to have done any damage. We went for a nice long walk/trot hack before he got rinsed off and stuffed with more cookies.

It wasn’t the ending I really wanted, but that’s horses and life – and I’m glad it happened at home vs at a bigger (more expensive) venue. This upcoming weekend we’ll head to the Hoosier Horse Park to school XC (and peek in on Jen and Karen showing at the IDS show!), the weekend after Sharon White will be here for a clinic and then a few weeks later, we’re entered to go down to show at IEA Horse Trials! Kicking off a busy summer and I’m excited to see how everything goes with the PartyPony!

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Diamond in the Rough: Voltaire style

I’d needed to buy a new dressage saddle after getting Archie, but couldn’t find something I liked. Or if I could, finding it with short flaps was impossible or it was way out of my budget. I test rode practically everything at the barn. Of course, Archie had a clear favorite… the Voltaire Adelaide. Go figure, my horse likes expensive French leather just like my butt.

Riding in a barn mate’s Voltaire

Adelaides aren’t impossible to find used, but they’re $$$, even for a French saddle. I figured maybe if I saved my pennies, I’d be able to afford one from the UK. After all, that’s how I found my Devoucoux, which is pretty much my unicorn saddle (18″ 1AA hello).

The Unicorn

And then… fate stepped in. In the form of a used Adelaide at Pelham Saddlery. In an 18″, PRO D10 panel (aka exactly what Archie needed) and 3A flap – except a 3 in the Adelaide measures 15.25″ or in other words, a short flap, and… in (actually UNDER) my budget. The problem? It was GREEN. Like light olive sage green.

But also like, grey? Ombré?

Amanda and Emily told me I’d be able to dye it most likely and with that, the green Voltaire was on its way to me. When I pulled it out, I was pleasantly surprised it was actually in great shape. The billets looked practically new, the panels felt great, it was just… green. It fit Archie, it fit me… so the check cleared and I bought dye supplies online and the adventure began.

One flap done
First coat of dye

I won’t bother giving a how-to – Amanda has done a much better job of that with the handful she’s dyed. Just be prepared – I didn’t realized quite how much buffing the damn thing was gonna take. I had a sore arm for a week.

All done 😍
Anything that looks like unevenness is just the weird lighting in my kitchen
And then I added rainbow stirrups and it got even better
Most recent shot, in which Archie looks SUPER EXCITED about our dressage lesson

It’s been almost 2 months since it was dyed with consistent riding and I’m still so pleased. I’ve ridden in all colors of breeches, it’s gotten wet (not like, soaked, but sprinkled) and no dye has come off. It needs a cleaning and conditioning session after being in my tack locker, but that’s just normal upkeep. Best of all, it’s improved my dressage riding tremendously and Archie is still going phenomenally in it.

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Partypony’s Spring Outing

Do you still count as a blogger if you blog… once a month? Cause that’s where I’m at these days. Instagram is so much easier, sue me.

Someone asked about the bench casualty from my last post – here is what remains…

We had our first XC school of the season last weekend. I went in a little nervous, after all, we didn’t have a great XC experience last fall, but my trainer reassured me we’d put the work in over the winter and would be fine. What do you know… it was better than fine. Archie was actually outstanding.

We got to lesson with our besties, Red and Lindsey, recently

Usually on XC lesson days we go right out to the field, but this day she chose to have us warm up over some stadium fences. It was really good for me – everything in the ring was still set at tiny crossrails from the itty bitty pony lesson before me so I used them as ground poles warming up while my trainer raised everything. Once she was done, she pulled us over and gave us some instructions and I got my first look at the fences and went, “UHHHH those look GIANT.” She basically shrugged and said, “they’re just BN size.” Oh, BN like I haven’t jumped since uh, last August? On a different horse? (She did tell me she’s snuck a few into my lessons recently but I haven’t decided if I believe her) Even if we have done one here or there, we definitely haven’t jumped right in at that height without starting smaller before.

From a few weeks ago!

Essentially, I was told, “sit up, it’s only 3″ higher, it’s not going to make a difference in his jump or anything else, you’ll be fine.” And… it wasn’t. Archie was FREAKING FANTASTIC and after a circle over two fences a few times to start, she had us do a small course and he was right there every step. It felt SO SO SO good to be back at height for the first time since Iggs!

Starter but cute!

We moved out to the field and warmed up over some small stuff – about a 2′ log and some green as grass stuff (like 18″) just to get MY head in the game. My goal for the day was GAG jumps and maybe a starter jump or two. After all, starter is where I fell off last fall.

Am I obsessed with this? YUP.

Well, didn’t need to worry about THAT. Archie was freaking GAME and we ended up jumping a bunch of starter fences, including a stairstep, a small blue table and a whole variety of banks, and we actually even popped over a BN fence or two. He never took a peek, he just came out all business and we had so much fun. He’s really starting to learn how to open his stride up in our conditioning work, so I let him open up between fences (it was pretty flowy back and forth across fields) and he was right there with me.

With the junior in the irons

After I finished up, I asked one of the juniors to pop him over his first ditch. I didn’t think there would be any issues, but sometimes they jump them like they’re horse eating holes and I wanted his first time to be no big deal. This junior has two horses at Prelim and a handful of sassy ponies she rides at BN/N so I knew she would be perfect for Archie. He absolutely was – he did jump the ditch a little big the first time, but never even thought about stopping or going around. They jumped it back and forth a few times and she added in a BN jump or two as well. He got nothing but praise from her and she offered to even take him around some Novice stuff. It felt pretty damn cool for everyone to think this sassy little QH could hop around Novice sooner than later. His mom, not so much, but it’s fun to know that’s the horse under me.

Ditches, check

I came home and spent the next few days basically sending Emily videos going “OMG THATS MY HORSE?!?!?!” We’re signed up to do a CT the first weekend of May, school at HHP the second weekend and then Sharon White is back the third weekend. I’m just beside myself with excitement for this year with the PartyPony.

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Proud mom

I was pumped to see we’d been moved up to a ‘big kid’ lesson this weekend on the schedule – by which I mean, riding with my friend Lindsey who spent last season consistently at BN. Archie has been going awesome and I’ve been leaving the barn thrilled, so this felt like an accomplishment with some of our winter work paying off.

Sure enough, it did. Saturday was sunny, 70 degrees, so basically my perfect day and Archie was freaking ON IT the entire lesson. In front of my leg, bending, I’d basically think something and he was right there with me and totally game. It was easily the best lesson we’ve ever had. An aside, when you’re 15.1h and have short legs and still improving doing the actual strides is… hard. We’re pros at the add. And the double add (raise your hand if you’ve put 4 in a 2 stride HI HELLO WHATS UP).

We is good at this

But Saturday everything was coming up awesome, so when we landed off a vertical, he was in front of my leg, I asked for more and he gave it to me, I was like, “Oh hell yeah, we’re gonna actually do one in the one stride!” We landed off the vertical, I pushed a little past the distance, let my shoulders get in front of me and Archie took a peek, my balance went wonky and he turned away… and I landed on the standard. Damnit.

I was dizzy, but otherwise fine, but nobody was gung ho on letting me get back on, so luckily Lindsey hopped on him and took him around a few fences to finish. He came through that one stride and BLASTED off the ground. My fall was just a mistake – he wasn’t bad, it wasn’t dirty, none of the above. Mostly I was mad that such an awesome lesson and course finished like THAT.

I opted to join a Sunday lesson too; normally I wouldn’t jump both days, but I knew for my own mental state I needed to get back on and jump around vs sitting for a week before my next lesson. Of course, it went from 70 and sunny on Saturday to 40, overcast and so windy they had to hold some of the standards up… super pleasant Sunday.

Slight attire change from the previous day

We started with circling over two verticals and then progressively added in to do a full course . Wouldn’t you know, this horse stepped up like nothing had happened at all the previous day and popped around in the horrendous wind like a seasoned little dude. He had every right to be ~sPiCy~, but seriously just took care of me. Including where we tripped a stride out from a vertical, he had every right to slam on the brakes, but I floated the reins and he hopped over like a freaking short stirrup pony.

I know I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how proud I am of Archie the past few weeks, but damn. This horse is not the same horse who stepped off the trailer in August, wide eyed and distrustful. Our slow and steady has started to pay off and he’s downright fun these days. I’m excited to hopefully get out and show this year, but honestly, it would be a bonus, not the goal. He’s a little quirky, a lot goofy and he’s turning into the horse I saw peeks of on that video seven months ago. My trainer has even remarked how different he is and the fact that I’m riding him like a completely different horse too. Some of that is trust bank, some of that is a relationship we’ve built and some is Archie stepping up to be the horse I knew he could be.

It’s back up to 60 and sunny today (seriously THIS STATE WTF INDIANA) and should hang out here the rest of the week, so he’ll get today off, we’ll have our regular Tuesday dressage lesson and hopefully some fun hacking the rest of the week. Spring is here and the party pony is coming out of hibernation.

Literally (He’s impossible to get butt shots of without someone holding him)
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Things I have done recently

Things I haven’t done: bought a new bridle

Things I have done (in no particular order): taken birthday photos of my horse, fallen off the mounting block, discovered my horse can gallop (…ish), HORRIFIED my trainer with new purchases, taken jump and dressage lessons and ordered new brushes.

Things are going well, obviously.

Last week we celebrated Archie’s 10th birthday with a hat and treats and his own personal song. He wonders why he puts up with this from someone nearly 30 years old, but I keep an endless supply of cookies coming, so it’s a very quiet voice.

I did fall off the mounting block. Nobody’s fault but my own. Sad day for the bench in front of it though, as I managed to take out a 2 x 4 with my shoulder. Feeling pretty badass/Iron Woman though. (Nothing is any worse for wear, horse, human, mounting block, except for the poor bench…)

Archie has taken to trotting up to the gate when everyone else gallops and thinks jumping more than about 6 jumps is too hard, so we’ve both been signed up for conditioning boot camp. It’s more entertaining than it sounds, as it mostly involves me babbling through trot sets, practicing Tik Tok dances, occasionally FILMING tik tok dances, and my horse spooking at the fence. To his own pasture.

My new purchases include the navy glitter boots Amanda put me on from Epplejeck and RAINBOW UNICORN stirrups. My trainer, she of the ‘I hate bling’, was rightfully horrified and asked if I’d stolen said items from a 12 year old. What she doesn’t realize is I take absolute delight in horrifying her with these things and her reactions only encourage me. (See: the time I put a rainbow halter on my horse)

More glittery in person, I swear
My stirrups are fucking FABULOUS and I will not hear otherwise
Archie also acquired this cooler which kind of has a mafia bathrobe feel to it

We’ve had some great lessons, jumped some fun course and done dressage-y things. But none of that is particularly interesting so just.. look at pictures? I’m really good at this blogging thing.

Very unhappy about his bodywork being done
The look when I tell him we have a dressage lesson
Road hacking with his BFF Neil is great fun until they try to play bitey face at the stop sign
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