Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Better Than I Thought

Monday night we had our group lesson and Miles and I just weren't quite feeling it... or at least that's how it felt at the time. It was pretty hot out (80 degrees) and we were both feeling a bit sluggish; and it definitely didn't help when one of my trainer's clients horses started acting colicky in the barn 10 minutes into the lesson. Luckily Moiya will be just fine -- the vet came, tubed her and added some mineral oil and she started to feel much better. Needless to say though, we were all fairly worried during the lesson and not 100% focused on the exercises.

Trainer set out a circle of death (four jumps set on a circle) but we never actually went all the way around; just worked on putting a few fences together at a time. We warmed up over some crossrails, which Miles declared were super boring and deemed them not sufficient to jump after the first two, so we moved on to 2' and 2'3" verticals, including an oxer. Overall the fences were okay -- I got some short spots and some long spots, but I always felt in control and I flowed well no matter what. It was also nice to note that 2'3" didn't feel intimidating whatsoever, and I think I'm well on my way to being bored at that height... which means I'm getting closer to moving up!


There were a few times where Miles rubbed the rails, and trainer said that is just a fitness issue. After such a long winter with lots of time off, we're both a little weak. I'm hoping to start increasing our ride times and work on adding in more transitions in the coming weeks to build some stamina and power in that hind end.

Overall the lesson was fine... I just didn't feel great about it. Just kind of "meh." But then N uploaded a video of Miles and I going over the 2'3" oxer and I honestly had to do a double-take. I recognized Miles right away, but I didn't recognize myself! I looked way better than I felt, so... that's good?

Here's the video: http://instagram.com/p/nHMi5gmT_Z/ (for some reason it won't allow me to embed it)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Rolex Meet-Up

Even though I'm a hunter/jumper... well hunter to be exact, I still have a huge appreciation for a variety of disciplines. I'm always impressed and somewhat in awe of those equestrians who compete in disciplines I myself could never fathom attempting... mostly because I am an admitted weenie adult amateur. And let me tell you, the list of disciplines that fall into the "too scary to ever even consider trying" is embarrassing long, and includes things such as 1D Barrel Racing and Combined Driving. And at the very tippy, top is high-level Eventing.

I think I could handle Dressage, although it would probably take me 50 years to master the movements. Stadium jumping could be dicey... and I'd probably never make the time because tight turns are... you guessed it, scary! But what really just throws Eventing out of the realm of possibility for me is Cross Country. You have to have some serious lady balls to do that... and I don't.

So any chance I get to read about Eventing, I absolutely love because it's just so out of my comfort zone. And watching Eventing? It's just fucking awesome. Because damn, are those some good riders and great horses.  

And this coming weekend the Kentucky Horse Park is hosting one helluva three day event: Rolex! While it might not be the most prestigious three-day event in the country, it's one of my favorites. I had the chance to spectate in 2008 and it was... Amazing. Thrilling. Spectacular. So to say I'm pumped to go again for my Bachelorette party would be an understatement. Ponies, shopping, jumping, liquor and good food pretty much sounds like paradise to me!! 

Being that there are a plethora of eventing blogs, I'm sure some of you must be attending. I'd love to meet up with anyone who's interested, maybe for lunch on Saturday or Sunday? Or drinks at night? Or to shop? Haha, pick your poison, I'm up for anything!!

Anyone interested in meeting up, feel free to email me: tbidwell614(at)gmail(dot)com. I hope to see some of you there!!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Viva Carlos Blog Hop: Immediate Inspiration

A Brief History

I found my current trainer by happy coincidence. I had moved my horse, Visa, to a new barn in the area when he promptly shoved his leg through the fence. Some other friends I had at the barn began taking lessons from Trainer, and I told her that one day soon, I would join her lesson roster. About a year later, I got the news that Visa needed to be retired from jumping, and begin tapering back on his workload. So I approached Trainer to ask if she had any lesson horses I could ride. I knew I wanted to continue jumping, and purchasing a second horse just wasn't feasible. She promptly told me that she did NOT own lesson horses, but that I could come out and ride one of her personal horses. I took two lessons with her before Visa passed away unexpectedly. And I've been riding with her ever since.

Why This Trainer

Admittedly, I haven't lessoned with a large variety of professionals, but I will say that I either like you or I don't pretty quickly. Trainer and I get along very, very well; we have similar "no bullshit" personalities, and our priorities mesh up: #1 Safety, #1.1 Welfare of the Horse. Period. The other reason that Trainer and I work so well together is her program. She's a bit older (although, she prefers the term "traditional" which she most certainly is), and she's not as interested in a big, huge show barn anymore. She doesn't care what your goals are: showing or not at all; lessons twice a week or once a year. There is absolutely no pressure whatsoever, as long you care for your horse and you're being safe.

Street Cred

The other thing I love about my Trainer are her credentials. She's really been there, done that. She has 40 years of experience in hunter/jumpers, including buying, training and selling youngsters and green beans. She's shown and trained horses and riders at WEF, as well as up and down the East Coast. She currently holds a USEF "r" judge's card in addition to training various levels of hunters and jumpers locally.

Friday, April 18, 2014

National Pony Day Celebrations

National Pony Day: April 17th, in honor of Visa, the best one <3
Yesterday I celebrated my very own made-up holiday: National Pony Day. In honor of Visa, I decided to take April 17th off work and do nothing but fun stuff, just because I can. This year was extra special because it was the first National Pony Day I got to spend with my very own horse.

The day started off fabulously: I slept in, cuddled with Rocky and woke up to an amazing bouquet of spring flowers and a heartfelt card from my fiancé, Sam. Yeah, he's definitely a keeper. Around 10 am I finally rolled out of the house to do some shopping. I hit Kohls, Dicks Sporting Goods and Target before meandering my way to the mall to check out DSW, Macy's and Sears. I got all sorts of good stuff, including some new jeans and cardigans and a much needed work-appropriate rain jacket. I'm officially all set for Rolex next weekend!!

Of course the local tack store is on the way home from the mall.. ish. So I stopped there too. I bought a Lickit Bar Treat for Miles, Springtime Zocks, a new girth for the bestie N... and I picked up a consignment saddle for her to try (psst, someone go buy her M. Toulouse Annice please, haha). I met Sam at home and we enjoyed a nice lunch outside on the patio at Noodles & Co. I absolutely love their Wisconsin Mac N Cheese; not good for the diet what-so-ever, but entirely satisfying none the less.

I picked up N from school (she skipped her afternoon class to hang out with me at the barn) and we each had two horses to ride. So I hopped on Vinnie and we hacked around outside in the sun for about 20 minutes. The horses were great and it just felt so damn nice to ride outside in the daylight.

Then I grabbed Miles and N hopped on Diamond for our bonus National Pony Day lesson. We were able to lesson outside for the first time this year, which was a huge treat. The horses were great -- a bit rusty at jumping outside at first, but they were both stellar. We jumped around some 2'3" courses and Miles was fantastic, nailing every lead change and even taking a really long spot.

N loved the saddle I brought for her to try, and she looked great. Her partnership with Diamond has come such a long way in the last year, and I'm really pumped to watch them show this year! And of course, there's a small part of me that really hopes we get to show in the same division together once this year... even though she'd kick my ass!

Anyways, N and I finished up the day stuffing our faces full of margaritas, mozzarella sticks and burgers at Red Robin. 'Cause there's no better way to end a day than copious amounts of frozen tequila.

So incredibly blessed to have two amazing chestnut geldings in my lifetime!
P.S. Thank you so much to everyone for your thoughts and well-wishes yesterday. Despite some tears... okay a lot of tears especially in the morning, I had an absolutely fantastic day. It means a lot to know how many people I have supporting me... especially so many that I've never met. <3

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Two Years


It's funny how time passes and some things fade from our memories, but others still remain sharp and clear. Two years ago today I lost my very best friend... and I remember that day like it was yesterday. I can still clearly hear the phone call, and feel my legs give way beneath me.

I remember seeing the peaceful look on his face, and cutting pieces of his mane and tail. I remember all the people who helped me that day, and every day since, to not just cope with the loss, but to maintain his legacy.

I remember my mom driving 2 and 1/2 hours south at 4 a.m. I remember Sam skipping school for three days straight. I remember my barn manager calling the cremation service. I remember my farrier coming out to take off Vias's shoes for me.

It's been 730 days since I've last seen his face, brushed his wild forlock or picked out his feet. I'd be lying if I said that the pain has subsided; I'd be lying if I said there weren't still days I cried for him. And I'd definitely be lying if I told you I didn't miss him. I'd trade anything in this world for just one more ride with Visa. Anything.

But I keep on keeping on, because that's what Visa did. So that's what I'll do. And every April 17th until the day I die, I will spend at the barn. I won't work, I won't worry, I won't care. All I'll do is enjoy my time around horses; That's Visa's legacy, my love and passion for horses. And this April 17th I'll spend with my horse, for the first time since Visa passed. Because my heart has expanded to include another hoofprint, and I know Visa would be proud of me for that.

Go home and hug your horse, and feed him an Oreo (Visa's favorite), or whatever his favorite treat is. Because in this world, you never know if that day will be your last chance to do so.
THE MASTERCARD // "Visa"
Jan. 31, 1993 - April 17, 2012

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Short and Sweet

Despite being sick with the head cold from hell, I went to my Monday night lesson. Things started off a bit hectic, with four of us in the lesson and two additional riders hacking all in the indoor arena. I'm not the best at navigating traffic, so that in an of itself was a bit of a challenge for me. We warmed up slowly on the flat as all the horses hadn't gotten turnout due to weather.

Miles was a bit lazy and stiff, but he opened up as soon as we did our first quick canter. Asking him to really gallop down the long sides helps him stretch out, I think. We moved on to some diagonal crossrails and they were meh, so-so. I just didn't have enough pace to work with.

I spent more time than usual just standing in the middle, mostly because I was hot and tired... damn head cold. But I'm happy to say that Miles wasn't too terribly grumpy when I asked him to go back out and work. I don't think he'll be like this all the time, but I was very appreciative at the time. We ended up doing one course of 2'3" jumps... because it was so stinking awesome. The best part was an oxer off a long straight approach and I was having trouble seeing a distance until only about 2-3 strides out. I saw a closer distance, I stretched up and waited and Miles was right there. As we went over I gave him a big "Good boy!" and everyone laughed.


After a nice long walk break, we finished the lesson with some flatwork. I asked my trainer to just watch us go around and give us any tips or feedback she might have. What did she say?

"Well Tracy, there's not much I can say about that. His trot is pretty perfect."

Damn, I was so happy I almost cried. I love this horse.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Transformational Tuesday

I've owned Miles for just over seven months now. Which is crazy, because on one hand it feels like just yesterday we brought him home on trial, but at the same time, it feels like I've known him for a lot longer. Anyways, the first weekend I officially called Miles mine, my mom came down to meet him. Of course, she absolutely fell in love with him, and he's been receiving gifts from Grandma (peppermints, girth covers, ear bonnets...) ever since. We had a fun little photoshoot that weekend, and while I've shared almost all of the photos with ya'll, I have to admit that I've been holding out on you.

In addition to a bunch of under saddle pictures, we also took some (admittedly not great) conformation photos. I was a bit embarrassed to show them publicly, but now I have comparison conformation shots. While I certainly see lots of improvement (neck and hindquaters), I also see some things we need to keep working on (topline).

Sept. 17, 2013 - April 12, 2014: The biggest changes I see are in his neck and hindquarters.

Sept. 17, 2013 - April 12, 2014: Here he doesn't look as ribby, but I think a few more pounds might not be a bad thing.

Sept. 17, 2013 - April 12, 2014: HOLY GASKINS!
So there you have it! Definitely not the most dramatic transformation, but it's pretty cool to see how far we've come already. I'm hoping that the one year mark will show more changes through his topline and NO MORE RIBS.