10 Questions: November

As always, L from Viva Carlos is the content-Santa of blogland.

How old is the youngest/greenest horse you’ve ridden?  Short answer: not very young or green. I love me a well-schooled horse. I’ve hopped on a couple fairly green-broke 4y.o.s for short rides, but nothing substantial. Mad respect for those who regularly ride greenies, I have a hard enough time figuring out how to not ruin my packer.

How old is the oldest horse you’ve ridden? Late 20s-ish. He was a school horse at the barn I rode at in middle school and was mostly retired, but they let me ride him because I was too nervous to ride anything else. Womp womp. We do have a 34yo pony at my current barn that is still in better shape than me or Frankie, and we’re pretty sure he’s going to last forever.

Were you scared of horses when you first started riding? Ummmmm, kinda? It was this weird juxtaposition of wanting to be near horses during every second of every day, and also freaking out hardcore whenever they did anything besides stand there without moving. I was a conflicted, neurotic, terrible child.

Would you say you’re a more nervous rider or a confident rider? These days, I’d definitely say confident! I have a lot more trust in my own abilities than I used to, so I believe that I can safely accomplish whatever my trainer sets for me. I still have my nervous moments, but I’ve gotten pretty good at taking a deep breath and giving myself a pep-talk.

Biggest pet peeve about non-horse people around horses? When they don’t listen. If I tell you to stand over somewhere, it’s for your safety. If I tell you not to walk in that area, it’s for your safety. If I ask you to put something away, it’s for your safety. If I tell you not to feed my horse, SERIOUSLY DO NOT FEED MY HORSE HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT IF I SNUCK YOUR TODDLER CANDY BARS THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THIS IS LIKE RESPECT MY AUTHORITY AS HIS MOTHER. But seriously- if you don’t know what you’re doing around horses, please follow my instructions promptly so we can avoid you getting kicked or stepped on.

A time you’ve been scared for your life? (horse related) Like every day from the ages of 11-15. Seriously I was a neurotic little ball of anxious energy. Nothing truly bad every actually happened though! The times I’ve fallen off haven’t even been when something crazy happened. I always fall off when my horse trips at the walk, or canters a crossrail or something dumb like that. I once got caught in a stampede of 25 ponies getting loose and making a break for their paddock, but that was more adorable than anything else.

Have you ever fallen off at show? What happened? Eeesh, just the once. I was in a flat class with roughly 75 people- we were literally 3 deep on the rail, and it was a tiny warmup ring with no fence around it. Instead of splitting the class to canter, they just had us all go at once. Three deep. Quite understandably, my horse said “eff this, I’m out” and took off towards the middle of the ring crow-hopping. I landed flat on my back in the dead center of the ring with the wind knocked outta me. Everyone stopped and people rushed over to check on me to see if I needed an ambulance, but the only thing hurt was my pride. My horse had even stopped immediately and was waiting patiently for me to get up and feed him. It was just embarrassing more than anything else.

What’s a breed of horse you’ve never ridden but would like to ride? Anything gaited! Paso Fino, Tennessee Walker, something like that. I’ve ridden an Icelandic pony and that was pretty cool. I live in a world of TBs and warmbloods (and the occasional draft-cross), so something totally different would be fun.

Describe the worst behaved horse you’ve ridden? This is a tough one- I’m like a kid in a candy store when it comes to horses, in that OMG PONIES I LOVE THEM ALL. And my trainers/friends know me well enough that no one has ever asked me to hop on something spooky or truly obnoxious- I will nope out of that with zero hesitation. I’ve hopped on a couple horses and then almost immediately hopped back off for that reason.

The most frustrating ride you’ve ever had? This is another tough one. Even if I come out of the ring feeling frustrated, I try really hard to re-frame it in my mind as an opportunity to learn and get better. So ultimately those rides end up going in the “positive experience” memory bank. I’ve had rides with Addy where it felt like everything we had ever worked on just flew out the window and our brains fell out of our skulls- but it was just kinda like, “eh, you win some you lose some.”

October Ten Questions

Thank you to L for the fun questions– as usual, you are the best at providing us all with fun content 😉

What do you consider “jumping high” for yourself?  At this point, probably around 3’6″ish. But that’s a pretty manageable height for us and we do it fairly regularly, so it’s not a scary height, just on the bigger end of what we’ve done so far. We’re also gonna get used to it reeeeal fast since that’s our division next year haha.

It clearly doesn’t pose any difficulty for the brontosaurus rex

What are your short term goals for riding? Do you think you’ll reach them? In the short term, my goal is to move up and have a successful season in the 1.10m High Adult Jumpers. Ideally “successful” will mean qualifying for the regional finals, but I’ll be happy if I can give my horse a good experience at that height and have fun. I definitely think this is within reach! When spring rolls around, we’ll be ready to hit the ground running in our new division.

Long term goals for riding? Do you think you’ll reach them? Hmm this one is harder. Ideally I’d love to make it to the 1.20m level, but that’s not a deep burning desire in my heart. We’ll see how our 1.10m season goes and then make new goals from there based on how Frankie feels and what we think a good progression would be for us.

As of right now, Frankie says to jack the jumps up because this 1.0m garbage is boring.

How many barns have you been at in your riding career? Oh goodness. A lot. As a junior I took lessons at four different barns before getting my own horse, and then kept my horse at three different barns. So seven total as a kid. Then one in college, and one as adult. Nine total!

How many different trainers have you been with in your riding career? Two that matter. I took lessons as a kid at a couple different barns, but I started riding with my first “real” trainer in 6th or 7th grade and stayed with him until we sold my horse. We weren’t loyal to a specific barn, we were loyal to T. We went where he went. And then of course as an adult I’ve been with my trainer for two years now and you can’t make me leave her because she is wonderful and I love her.

Ever worked at a barn? What did you do? All through high school! The deal with my parents was that they would fund the horse and shows, but I had to work for it. At one point I was at the barn 5 days a week to care for ~30 horses- turnout, bringing horses in, feeding, hay, mucking stalls, cleaning water buckets, sweeping, etc. I would try to get that all done after school in time for a lesson on my horse, and maybe the chance to hop on another horse or two. I was also my trainer’s shadow for a while at another barn and was basically his gopher- I’d groom and tack up other client’s horses, exercise horses, set jumps, muck stalls, clean tack, anything that needed doing. I also spent a couple summers as a camp counselor at the best place on this planet and that was basically being full time barn staff PLUS full time babysitter to 40 girls ages 7-12. It. Was. Heaven.

Scariest thing that has happened at your barn? Um. Addy got loose once and munched on grass until we could catch her? The warmblood yearling jumped out of his paddock and ran into his stall? Honestly I can’t really think of anything. We had a horse colic really badly that had to be put down, but I count that as more sad than scary.

Have you ever given a lesson? What level was the rider? When I was a counselor, I helped out/led some of the beginner lessons of the up-down kids. I was also able to help out on occasion with the more advanced kids that were jumping full courses, and that was more fun. Less worry about them steering into each other.

What is your opinion on the accuracy of critiquing riders online? Mixed feelings. I do think that a lot of people have good intentions. And I don’t think that you have to be an Olympic level rider to recognize basic position faults. But at the same time, unless something is blatantly unsafe, I don’t think it’s appropriate to critique unless the rider has asked for that critique. If they’re asking for feedback, do it politely. If they’re not, then don’t do it at all. Also, people will usually post the screenshots that make them look the best, but that isn’t always accurate. If you look at my Instagram, you’d think I had decent eq all the time and Frankie was a male model. Only one of those is true. It’s really really hard to critique a still frame of such a dynamic sport because you’re missing SO MUCH of the picture.

Pictures like this don’t show that immediately before this, I was flapping my reins and cowboying through this combo. It’s a pretty nice still frame. The reality was much less nice.

What is the ideal height of a horse for you? 17hh or above. Preferably above. I can kiiiinda get away with a big-bodied 16.3, but that’s pushing it. Frankie is somewhere in the 17-17.1 range and medium-bodied, and he’s pretty much as small as I can go while still looking somewhat proportional. Of course, I rode a 16.1 mare down in Ocala in the jumpers and had a blast because no one cares about proportions in the jumpers, but I definitely prefer them big and bulky. The bigger the better.