Thursday, December 30, 2010

If they REALLY want to make money...

...they should do horse and rider products. Gucci is sponsoring the brand new Gucci Masters (the Paris International Show Jumping Event, part of the Paris Horse Show, ooh la la) and has flirted with the idea (see picture 1) and Ralph Lauren has done it for the polo team they sponsor (see picture 2) and I must say that Nacho is nothing short of à chaud in all that gear, and that polo pony looks simply lovely in the RL Crest pad. And from what I understand RL has even put their signature pony on the polo wraps too. Charmant!

So why not go main-stream? (At least for people who want to have it and can afford to want to have it haha! Certainly not me!)

But honestly, what kind of people dish out money for fad-ish (and occasionally fashionable and classic) products? Well.... horse people! Dressage queens and hunter princesses and show jumping rockstars and eventing royalty! Though probably the first two more so than the latter two, but I have seen exceptions!

Besides, a Gucci earnet (picture 1), a saddle or boots or a bridle made of stamped Armani leather, a Tiffany bit (dream come true, then Greta could really be Greta GOLIGHTLY), or a Juicy Couture bridle charm (picture 3) sounds kind of cool, if not wonderfully frivolous (says the girl who scrounges the outlet stores and eBay for those wonderfully frivolous brands). Just hopefully they would make it durable enough so one would not have to special handle it every time it even gets close to a barn.

So haute couture folks, think about it, just think about it......





Well, I wasn't able to ride since Sunday, although that ride went very well (and holy cow I was posting without stirrups, and when I did use my stirrups, my feet practically weren't in them! I felt like SUPER RIDER!) and after a few days of light lunging and hand-walking, I was able to ride her today. Lessons got started much earlier (on Thursdays they start at 5:00, and today they started at 3:00!) and the outdoor arena is still wet from all the rain we've got (which we NEED) so Greta and I tried to sneak in a walking warm-up in the covered arena, and when the first student came in, we made our way outside.

Firstly, Greta McPrissyhooves walked through a large puddle (it's about as long as her and little bit wider than her) after only giving it a quick little sniff. No turning around or fussing, just a sniff, and then she walked through unproblematic. Yay!

Then we walked up and down the driveway, working on focusing by doing tight little serpentines here and there, stopping, backing up, and turns on the forehand and haunches. She was bit tense through all that (she always gets tense and spooky on the driveway) but far from what she used to be. And then we went back around the round pens and everything and she began to relax. Really relax. Like, ears flopping and listening to me, submissive to the aids, light in the bit, tracking up, I felt her back lift up when she got rounder and rounder and lengthered her topline more and more, so I tried to get lighter in my seat and push her forward to back her up. Then I tried halting, and I didn't have to REALLY convince like I had to earlier. I thought "halt" and she halted. So we walked and halted several times, and because this was just so crazy how relaxed she was (and because we can't trot on the grounds when they're wet, and the covered arena was packed with a lesson of 5 youngins') I figured it would be best to stop there and call it a day. Tomorrow I want to try her in the big field next door, now that they've mowed all coastal hay down.........

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

First of all, a little video to spread some holiday Greta cheer.

Now, a continuation from yesterday...

2010 has been a crazy, wonderful year for Greta and I. I feel like we have matured and grown so much together in both our riding and in other areas. At the beginning of the year, riding still deeply frustrated me, and I didn't know who to blame, nor what to do. We did a lot of things under pressure and immaturely, and I'm thankful that we were able to get out that situation, for Greta's sake. I began to see more and more what a wonderful, talented mare she is. She is beautiful!

We went through 3 trainers this year! And now, on the third, we have found somebody who truly understands Greta and I: no forcing, no complications. I feel like in these past 6 lessons that I now am just learning to ride Greta, without fear of a spook, nor a care if it does happen. She looks so relaxed and happy whenever I ride her now, it is truly amazing.

But mostly, like any partnership, I've begun to discover even more about Greta, her quirks, her personality. I am starting to tell her different expressions. I am seeing that she is an incredibly smart girl, smarter than me sometimes. It is unfathomable how fortunate I am to have a horse that has never done anything to purposely dismount me. Sure, I've taken a tumble or two, but bless her she has never run off, she always spins around and looks for me. She has never kicked out or bucked or reared. Bless her.

I rode several other horses this year: two ran off on me, one of which succeeded in dismounting me (well, I had to dismount MYSELF for safety's sake less I wanted to land beneath him because he was bucking like a bronc, and I will say that those are the WORST kinds of falls, when you have make yourself fall) and then proceeded to trot back to the barn and not even care that I was there haha! All of these other horses I rode this year were geldings, and they were very food-driven, and really could care less about me. You could say I'm something of an unfortunate ex-gelding fan? Well, I still have my geldings that I adore out at the barn, so I'm not really an ex-fan. I guess when one becomes so used to Greta's well-hidden motherly nature (but when it shows, it shows) then, well.................... but anyway.......

All these horses, including a very well-mannered QH stallion who was a dream to ride, each taught me something and I did enjoy the time I spent riding them, even with their qualms. So along with progressing extremely fast with Greta, I realized my goals in life. I want manage barns, to train horses, I want to teach students, I want to make sure not a horse or person goes through the pressuring, forceful methods I allowed myself to believe in. I want to make sure every horse I meet comes away from me a better horse. I realize that I might not always be successful, but I know now that I really want to do that as my future career. I like that kind of manual, hard work. And I know that I can still take a step further and go to vet school if I want, with my grades (thank GOD.)

And I know that through all of this in the future (even possibly going for the Texas State University IHSA hunt-seat team! Some good skills to be learned lie in wait there!) that I will have a partner beside me the entire time. Somebody I can count on and learn from. Somebody I can go to when I am far from home and it seems I can turn to nobody. Somebody that makes me not care about silly boarder or trainer quarrels and disagreements. Greta, and everything we have accomplished in two years, and really in the past two months, makes me proud.

If I come in crying, she gets those worry wrinkles and nudges me. If I give her a big pat after a job well done, I can just feel pride radiating from her (watching the videos of us jumping, you could just see it in her face and carriage, and I also realized she is a very cute jumper!) She really tries for me, I have yet to meet a person who hasn't said that about her, but she is honest and will let me know if she just can't do something or if I need to back her up.

I could go on all day, or all into next year, but I will end on this note: Greta Golightly, m'dear, I love you very much.

Friday, December 24, 2010

2010's Top 5

Firstly, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays if you're sensitive). Secondly, as I was going through the many 2010 top 5 or 10 or however-many lists people have made about movies and events and such of this year (by the way, I'm very happy to see that the two most original movies of the year, Inception and Black Swan, which were stunning, are inspiring movie execs to *gasp* produce original films!) that I would do a little list of important events in the dressage world in general (which was incredible this year what with everyone building up to the WEG) and even more so, for Greta and I (even though it shall not be as exciting and of as much worldly importance, but still!)

Dressage in General:
  1. Courtney King's bonk on the head back in March (or maybe it was February?) that really served as a bonk on the head for the rest of the community. I guess it's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt? But honestly, I am very glad she was okay in the end, and I suppose that if this is what it takes to show I'm-too-good-for-a-helmet stars that they, in fact, are not too good for a helmet, then so be it. I am very happy to see this change. Honestly, I used to think I would "graduate" from a helmet once I became a good, upper-level rider, because the "cool kids" didn't wear helmets, so I certianly shouldn't. I, and I'm sure many more at my level, didn't know any better. Lead by example, right?
  2. Steffen Peter's "rising up, straight to the top" at the WEG. First time an American has ever medaled at a WEG game in dressage, I believe. And he most certainly deserved it for not getting that medal due to cranking his horse's head in and around and about. It's like a horsey Rocky.
  3. The Genetic Jewels of Totilas and siblings Bussard and Uusminka. Brentina was bred twice to Totilas this year with frozen semen followed by an embryo transfer (Brentina's owners do not want to risk her going into foal because of a genetic history of death during foaling and a previous colic surgery, understandably) but both of these attempts failed when the embryo would not take. Is this super cross meant to be? Would the baby be doubly spectacular or unfortunately mediocre? A cross between two "superhorses" will be something to behold. Also, Totilas' full siblings, the 5yo stallion Bussard and the 10yo mare Uusminka, could have the makings of greatness in them as well. Seeing the extreme success of Totilas, will his full siblings be just as great? What about Totilas' babies? At this rate, will we see Pegasus pop out of a mare in the near future? If so, I think I might steal him ;)
  4. Juan Manuel Muñoz and Fuego XII's rockin' (and relaxed) ride at the WEG, even with the understandable rear at the end once the audience roared their approval. Firstly, and I've always found this odd, this was practically a first for a Spanish breed to be ridden at the WEG. Definitely stood out from the usual sea of warmbloods. I've always thought Baroque breeds did dressage far prettier than most warmbloods (though Swedes can be more baroque-y than the typical warmblood, as they are a far older warmblood breed)and with the uphill build and killer hind end they are usually quite the naturals, and Fuego was just so fluid and free and expressive and unrestricted that he made some of these other riders (and I hate to say this, but I did not see this amount of freedom in Edward Gal's and Totilas' ride, the horse just seemed quite restricted at times). Plus the lack of slobbering, dripping, excess foam in the horse's mouth and the loose, relaxed reins just screamed good, relaxed riding to me. So it was shocker to me that he didn't do better than he perhaps should have, and this in turn made me wonder if there was any bias in the scoring? Well, anytime you have a human scorer, bias is a given. We are all human, right? Plus, imagine the uproar against FEI judges if the flawless Edward Gal and Totilas didn't win. Still, I was happy to see such a wonderful pair get such good audience reviews at the WEG. They were a pleasure to watch.
  5. Anky's fall from grace was relatively quiet, even with the unprofessional I'm-telling-on-you lawsuits and online outcries against people saying icky, mean things about her! But nonetheless, it is kind of significant. The torch, though still in Dutch turf (unless the lucky fella who gets to ride Totilas in Germany has equal success as Gal) has been passed. Van Grunsven is now part of the reining crowd. I kind of feel bad for the horses. But one thing is for sure: the Americans will still be king of the reining ring for some time. We kind of created the sport. Kind of :)

Stay tuned for Greta's big top 5 tomorrow!


BTW Greta was a star on the longeline today. Just a short little trip since it was pouring rain and a cold front was coming and everyone was left inside, so she could get out and stretch her legs, and she was ace. Now she is snuggly tucked up with her fleece cooler and blanket over that, and apples and foodles and hay and her besties on either side of her, Mia and Belle and Choco across the way. And tonight they'll all be curled up waiting to see what Santa brings them tomorrow (like a big bag of peppermints, apples, and carrots. Nothing unusual really, but Greta and Choco won't mind.) Have a merry one, y'all.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'm feeling impish....

"Je vis, donc je suis." -Descartes

P.S. I realised that my earrings kind of look like I'm wearing gages, but I'm not... they're gold, diamond, and sapphire. I repeat: I am NOT wearing gages! I may lop my hair off (and donate 5 separate foot-long chunks to Locks of Love, go me) but I will not stretch my ears! Eek!

BUT I will say that this hair is so low maintenance that's it's crazy! My helmet used to not entirely sit on my head and now the dial adjustment is almost on its tightest setting, but there is still room to spare to go a bit tighter or a bit looser. It's nice! My "bed head" this morning involved a few strands slightly out of place, easily fixed with water and the Redken stuff my hairdresser told me to use. Looks great with beanies and headbands. I think it looks great on me, and I oft I don't say that! I LOVE IT! I don't miss that mess that would get tangled so easily!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Recent Pictures

Enjoy some recent pictures that my wonderful friend took the day before I got my hair cut off!

For Inspirational Purposes...

I know show season is still a few months away for most of y'all, but get inspired early! Oh, and enjoy one of the comments from YouTube:

"Keira Knightly shows more believable conviction than Brad Pitt or Colin Ferrell. Bulky wimps, both of them. And if you were going to use a clip from Lord of the Rings, it should have been Theoden's speech, hands down."

Amen to that. Too bad Theoden's speech is a bit suicidal, not as inspiring as VIGGO'S!

And LOL at the Peter Pan bit!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Horse | HERDA Warning Signs

The Horse | HERDA: Preventing The Heartbreak

If y'all haven't subscribed to any of The Horse's newsletters (they have ones for nutrition, breeding, hoof and joint, healthcare, etc.) then I'd highly recommend to do so. And Equus magazine as well. Interesting little tidbits that you MAY need to know one day. Although I hope I never have to apply this HERDA tidbit :((

Monday, December 13, 2010

Quote of the Day - Jane Austen

‎"Whoever may have been so detestably your enemy, let them be cheated of their malignant triumph... by seeing how nobly the conciousness of your own innocence and good intentions support your interests. It is a reasonable and laudable pride which resists such malevolence."

Elinor Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Not only does this apply as far as silly men named John Willoughby (oops, did I give that away?) it applies to pretty much any time somebody may say something malicious or disheartening to you. One must simply be proud in the fact that they know who they are and they don't care what others may think. You know who your friends are, you know how you want to do things, you know what feels best to you, you know who you do and don't look up to for advice. Only you, in the end, can make the decision. Don't be afraid to let others influence you, and don't be afraid to think "That doesn't sound right to me."

Ever since owning Greta I've had to repeatedly tell myself a message similar to this quote - as I just discovered it not but two weeks ago! - and often it was my parents or trusted trainers telling me. I like the path I'm taking with Greta. I'm glad I'm learning how to really ride my horse and make her a happy, relaxed, well-rounded partner, and not just a how we can win shows. For if one can truly ride a horse, then they can win any show they darn well please, if they choose to do so.

I like Greta being barefoot. I like not having to stress about a show season when we're not ready for it. I like my trainer. Scratch that. I love my new trainer! I love my pony, and I like the path we're taking, because I think it will set a great foundation for both of us. I'm happy, and I won't let anyone's demeaning comments change that.

Not like I have received any lately. Nothing but, "Is that Greta?! She looks so beautiful and well taken care of and relaxed!"

Yeah, I know. She's kind of awesome like that.

But it's just a topic I wanted to touch on since the discovery of that wonderful quote.

Now look at this happy horse! She likes to pose with friends.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

You know something's up with you when...

I think I did one like this before, so this is a part two based on odd occurrences that I have noticed lately.

You know you're a crazy-horse-chick when:

  1. When you're talking to fellow artsy, dancing, or acting friends about them going forward with those careers after college, and you think about the average income of those careers and unconsciously deduct the cost of a horse from them, and then immediately jump to the conclusion, "I don't think they'll be able to make a living off that job."
  2. When you get bored you examine people's heads, labeling the oval shaped ones as Charles Owens Heads and the round ones as IRH heads. I have a Charles Owens head, by the way. I've checked. And my Statistics class is almost evenly divided amongst the two. That's not creepy at all, right?
  3. When you look at clothes at the store - you know, actual non-riding clothes - you ask yourself, "Will this hold up at the stables?"
  4. You decide you're going to get a pixie cut after graduation. No, not because Emma Watson and Kiera Knightley did it and you think it looks chic. No, not because you want to donate your hair, as cute as that sounds. No, not because it will look more mature. But those are all nice reasons. Honestly, you're going to do it because it will fit quite nicely under a helmet. Good bye, hair nets!
  5. You don't want Chinese characters (which you will hopefully confirm that it means "strength" and not something Orientally Scandalous) or cutesy hearts or flowers or butterflies as your first tattoo. No, you want the Swedish Warmblood brand. With a heart around it :)
  6. When you're examining Rococo art in European Studies, and George Stubb's picture Lord Grosvenor's Arabian Stallion with a Groom appears on the screen, the first thing the class says is, "Oh, look Breanna, a horse picture!" And the first thing you comment on is that you hope those aren't saddle rubs on his withers and belly, because that's what they really look like. This is followed by puzzled faces.

I would laugh...

... but I've seen it to be quite true sometimes. HAHA!

Horse Terminology!
  • Event Prospect = Big Fast Horse
  • Dressage Prospect = Big Slow Horse
  • Hack Prospect = Pretty Color
  • Sporting Prospect = Short Fast Horse
  • Camp Prospect = Fast Horse which can turn
  • Endurance Prospect = Fast Horse which will turn sometimes
  • Flashy = White Socks
  • Attractive = Bay
  • 15.2hh = 14.3hhh
  • 16.2hh = 15.3hh
  • To Loving Home = Only Expensive
  • To Show Home Only = Very Expensive
  • Needs Experienced Rider = Potentially Lethal
  • Elegant = Thin
  • In Good Condition = Foundered
  • Free Moving = Bolts
  • Quiet = Lame in Both Front Legs
  • Dead Quiet = Lame in All Four Legs
  • Good in Traffic (Bombproof) = Lame all Round, Deaf and Blind
  • Loves Children = Kicks and Bites
  • Pony Type = Small and Hairy
  • Arab Type = Looks startled
  • TB Type = Looks Terrified
  • Quarter Horse Type = Fat
  • Warmblood Type = Big and Hairy
  • Draught Type = Big and Exceedingly Hairy
  • Easy to Catch = Very Old
  • Must Sell = Wife has left home and taking kids
  • All Offers Considered = I am in Traction for 6 months
  • Reluctant = Sale Comes with Title Deeds to Sydney Harbor Bridge

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ich liebe dich, neue Stübben trense!

I love you, new Stübben bit!

So, today I invested in a new bit for Pretty Pony. I realized that she needs more room for salivation, and her eggbutt just wasn't cutting it for her tiny more-thoroughbred-than-warmblood mouth. So when Grampy and I went online to order a Hunter Dee for Choco, I went ahead and ordered a Metalab loose-ring snaffle with a French Link, 5". I thought it would work. But it didn't, bummer. It would be wonderful for a large horse's mouth, but not Greta's. It was seriously thicker than my original eggbutt, and it was just short enough on wither side that the poor girl was pinched three times during our first and only ride in it! I was really bummed out.

So... rather than hit the internet guesstimating out the yin-yang, I thought it would be best to go to the local tack shop (which I seriously have not gone to for over a year now, because I can usually find better deals online haha) where I know they have a large selection, and be able to physically feel and see and compare the bits first-hand. I didn't go as in-depth as I thought I would.

I walked in, told the owner (whom I had forgotten how much I liked, as she's always incredibly helpful, and she actually remembered me... don't think THAT didn't make me feel guilty for not coming in for over a year... I know business is business and all, but that's just how I am) what I was looking for, and she immediately went over to the bit wall and pulled off a Stübben loose-ring snaffle with a copper link, 5 1/4", and said "Like this?"

Exactly what I was looking for.

When I tried it on tonight, it was the perfect size, perfect thickness - 14 mm, I measured :) - and Greta Golightly salivated tons more than I have ever seen her do before. I don't know if it's the copper link or the reduced thickness, but it works. I didn't get this bit to magically improve her frame or make up for any rider connection flaws or any of that nonsense, I got it to allow her to salivate more, and it has done just that, and I'm sure the increased softness in her mouth will help with other things. I'm feeling pretty self-satisfied right now :)

Greta's still gorgeous and sweet, even going as far as muss up my hair when I bent over into her stall trunk to get out apples tonight. J'adore!

BTW I am starting a winter Greta Golightly sweatshirt tradition. It shall be amazing.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Greta and Maximus...

I LOVED this pony. LOVED him. And that little smile reminded me of something Greta would do. Everything else... in my dreams. But still, can we not all imagine our horses as cartoon characters every now and then? Or perhaps that's just me being weird... again :)

BTW it's fun to go see these movies with horsey friends. Our nerdy joke of the night: "Did he just jump from a rooftop? That horse could do eventing! HAR HAR HAR HAR!!"

Soooooo, question of the week, or whenever I get around to posting again:

What cartoon (or live-action) horse does your pony remind you of?

I would have to say that Greta could be the Unicorn from The Last Unicorn.

Haha. In my dreams.