Sunday, March 30, 2008

Checking in

Its been pretty quiet around here. I haven’t posted recently because frankly I wanted a break from everyday life. Our office closed down the week after Easter so I took the opportunity to go to Auckland to visit family and friends and get my winter shopping done.

I did compete at one Easter show on Saturday and only entered one class… it didn’t go well. We got eliminated. I’d rather not talk about it at this time. I’m still trying to think it all through, process it a bit.

While I was up in Auckland I got the chance to visit my gorgeous man Red. He’s doing really well and being looked after superbly. I’m not ashamed to say I cried a few tears when I saw him, I’ve missed him a lot! His age is starting to show on his HUGE potbelly, he no longer holds his weight on his ribs… its all slid back a few centimeters and is hanging out just in front of his legs.

He’s soon being moved to his new retirement village way out west of Auckland. Auntie Sue has found a place to graze which will be perfect for him. He’ll have a companion of another retired chestnut gelding called RED! What a co-incidence huh? Since the other Red is bigger then our Red it looks like they will be known as Big Red and Little Red. Red was previously known as Little Red at his old home so it won’t be a huge change. The lady whose house he’s going to live at sounds like she is one of those perfect horse owners that dotes on her horses in everyway possible. And she’s happy to feed Red (our Red) and groom him daily. Since the place is so far away, Auntie Sue will have limited visits of only a few times a week but it looks like Red will be in good hands. The new place is quite small which is a good thing because the horses can be seen from the house at all times. He’s also slowly going through the process of being barefoot since he won’t be competiting and won’t be road riding. Since thoroughbreds are known for their bad feet, no chances are being taken. He had his back shoes taken off last week and was only a bit ouchy when he was led over the rocks to the arena but otherwise was great, so I’m pleased.

That’s about the gist of it. Until next time.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mustering in...

It was cattle mustering time at the farm last night. The herd needed to be bought in so the calves could be separated from their mamas, and then tagged. The Whanau (that means family for those who aren’t kiwi) left for the muster as soon as Emma, Mere and Sarah-Anne were back from school and so no-one was home when I arrived. “Ahh,” I thought to myself “Some time alone to read my book.” I snuggled onto my bed and was soon lost in the world of Show Jumping. After about ½ an hour Lance appeared and knocked on my window. “Did you see my note on the floor by the front door?” he asked. I hadn’t. You see, there is a lot of paper around in our house, and one piece of paper doesn’t stand out from the rest. “Oh well, Ghost is in the yards for you to ride, we thought you could meet the others out the back but their might not be much point now”. I decided to go see what I could do anyway so grabbed Ghosts bridle and jumped on her bareback. We cantered up the hill only to meet the cows coming through the second to last paddock before the yards. I didn’t attempt to get to the others since it only would have sent the cows running back the way they came. Instead Ghost and I stood to the side and watched the others chasing the herd through the paddock. Have you ever seen or rather heard people chasing cows? It’s rather fascinating. Cries of ‘Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey” and “Get up, getttt up” along with the bellowing of the herd resonate through the evening air to create a sort of ‘Mustering Symphony’. Finally the cows were through to our paddock and it was our turn to help.

After the herd was in the yards, Val asked Emma and Mere to go to the river lease paddock to get some of the extra cows and bring them back. Somehow I got roped into doing it also and so off we went. We first had to check the Ostrich pen to see if the cows were in there. Thankfully they weren’t since none of us really wanted to face the ostriches. On the way back to the river lease we passed the hay paddock. One of the herds of feral goats, that roam our farm and eat all our grass, were chomping happily in there. We were soon in there, chasing those blasted goats out of the paddock and down a small bank. Into the river lease we went, searching for the small herd of cows that we knew were in there. Now the river lease is a huge paddock, I’ve spent over an hour looking for horses in there before. There are hills everywhere and dozens of little side clearings that a small herd of cows could hide in. We were riding down the main hill when we met the horses. They came straight up to us and wouldn’t leave us alone. This would have been fine in normal circumstances… but at least two of the horses were stallions. One was only a yearling (I think) colt but the other was fully developed. And two of us were on mares. Emma, who was on Summer, seemed to be fine with them. Summer was biting and kicking anytime any of the horses came near. But Ghost wasn’t trying to fight them off at all. And the stallion wasn’t leaving her alone either.

I tried scaring the stallion off by yelling at him, but he didn’t care. Then when he started getting mouthy I started getting worried. I’ve read stories about stallions trying to mount a mare when a rider has been on and things never ended well. Emma was starting to get worried too and I told her (I could have been over reacting) that if the stallion tried to do anything to Summer (i.e. mount) she was to get off immediately and leave Summer to fend for herself. I jumped off Ghost and grabbed a stick of the ground and tried throwing it at him. Unfortunately I missed so I picked up a huge stick that took two hands to carry and charged at him. He ran off but was almost immediately back to Ghost. I grabbed another stick and vaulted back onto Ghost and got him in front of me and then hit his rump a couple of times. Again he ran off, but came straight back.

By now we were coming to the entrance of a small path that led out to the back of the paddock. Since Mere was on Morrie and was having no trouble with the horses, in fact Morrie was being a hero and fending the horses off, we left her to guard the entrance to the path so we could have a quick look for the cows. We rode along as far as we could but couldn’t find them and was on our way back when we heard a shout from Mere. The stallion barged past her. It came galloping straight up to Ghost and I gave it a good couple of whacks with my stick. It ran on ahead of us and we were soon out in the open again. The stallion was still being a big pest and I was still worried so I made the decision to get out of there. I stuck Mere at the back since she was on a big fast thoroughbred that was doing a great job of being aggressive to the horses and we started up the hill home. At some point we put the horses into a canter and Emma who had been just behind, blasted past me. Mere and Morrie had set of at a canter too and the other horses were soon past her and were fast catching up to us. I felt Ghost getting tired and since I didn’t feel like we were in any immediate danger since we were almost to the top of the hill, I let her trot. Emma had gotten to the gate and was holding it open for Mere and I. I trotted Ghost through while Mere kept the horses at bay, then jumped off Ghost and helped give Mere a chance to get away. We walked home, full of talk of what had just happened.

The cows still haven’t been found.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Questions and Answers

Misha commented my one day event post and I thought I might answer it as a post here since its a relevant question for all horse riders. If you have any more advice stick it in my comments :)

Misha: That's awesome that you have so much fun riding! Don't you ever worry that you'll fall? When I go trail riding the thought of falling barely enters my mind, but I've never jumped before. I would like to learn how to jump someday, though. That sounds like a really super ultra amazingly awesome day! lol-that's alot of adjectives!

Hey Misha

Thanks for your comment. I believe that having a healthy fear of riding is a good thing. Horses weigh hundreds of kilograms, are fast, agile and strong and worst of all… they have a mind of their own. It’s dangerous not to have some kind of healthy fear, call it respect if you will, of horses. I’ve experienced fear many times on the back of a horse. Fear of falling being one of them. But really if I let the fear of falling get to me, I’d never get on the back of a horse again. As Katherine Patterson once said (I have no idea who she is) ‘To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you and swing you around by the tail is another.’ Which is totally true.

And so ‘Risk Management’, as I like to call it, comes into play. You’ve probably heard of the old barrier at the top of the cliff, ambulance at the bottom analogy. My barrier is my balance and independent seat when I am jumping and also riding in general, which will hopefully keep me in the saddle rather then on the way to hitting the ground. For my ambulance I, as a rule (which is only seldom broken), jump wearing a helmet and back protector. Back protectors were the norm at my previous pony club and competitions in Auckland although I seem to be one of the only ones to wear them down here. But really, I would rather be safe then worry about whether I looked cool or not. I also think the horse you are riding can boost your confidence a million percent. My old horse Red was a terrible show jumper in competition and as a result I went into the show jumping round on Ghost feeling worried but I needn’t have been. She flew around like it was nothing and I felt secure the entire time.

If you want to learn how to jump make sure you get in contact with an experienced instructor that will be able to teach you all the basics. An experienced, safe horse is also a must. I hope this answered your questions and one day you have lots of fun jumping too!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Timberlands ODE - Sunday 16th March

Well my first Pre-Training went great. Not result wise at all but I had a whole heap of fun.

We went to Taupo on Saturday for Dressage lessons with Linley. The horses were groomed to perfection, with their tails silky smooth and their manes pulled. Linley makes a big effort to keep the horses on her property looking great.

After a broken nights sleep on Saturday, mostly due to thinking about show jumping, we were up early on Sunday morning. While we were booting up the horses, Ghost got her lead rope caught on the hinge of the gate and went absolutely nuts. She hit her face a bunch of times and by the time I managed to calm her down she was bleeding from half a dozen places on her face. She also had a bleeding nose. Thankfully it was all superficial and she went back to eating almost immediately. It shook me up a bit though.

We arrived at the show in good time, I went off to walk the cross country course by myself which wasn’t ideal but couldn’t be helped since Sarah-Anne’s course went the opposite way. Most of the jumps looked fairly simple except for a corner, which I and Ghost have never done, and a big hedge at the end. I was also worried about a large, but narrow roll top jump down a bank because I’ve never been taught how to jump onto a downhill slope. I discussed the corner with Sarah-Anne when I got back and we figured out the best course of action.

First up was Dressage. I was riding 22nd so I had a while to wait. I went into the arena feeling totally at ease and not worried at all. We did an adequate test in my view. But ended up coming first at the wrong end i.e. we came last. I laughed when I heard that. Our score wasn’t even incredibly bad, everyone else was just better. I also got comments about my nice position which made me happy.

I went almost immediately into show jumping. I repeated my affirmation over and over again as I cantered around the ring waiting for the bell. We flew around the course like it was nothing, Ghost was amazing. Unfortunately we did have a run out at jump 6 because the ends of the reins kept getting caught under the saddle and I was trying to pull them out as we were coming around the corner into the jump. I was a bit angry at myself for that. We finished the rest of the course off with ease; even the large double which I thought was going to be a problem. Ghost barely batted an eyelid at it. I was ecstatic as we trotted out of the ring. My confidence was back.

We had a while to wait for Cross Country. Ghost sailed over the first 5 jumps and then refused at the double. I badly needed a whip to give her that extra push when she started backing off. Next time I’ll have one. A couple more jumps and then came to the roll top. As I cantered into it I remembered the picture in my cross country book of a similar jump so I copied the position of the rider and we landed and went beautifully, it was truly my favourite jump in the course. Straight after that was the corner. I did everything Sarah-Anne told me to do, but unfortunately I needed the whip again. My legs just couldn’t get her to move when she backed off. I tried again and she refused again. Another rider on a grey pony about Ghosts size had caught up to me by then so I had to let her pass. Her horse refused also but she got her over the second time. I decided to do the option and then we were on our way again. Next it was the ditch. The rider who had over taken me was having trouble with it and had to stand aside to let me pass. Ghost was reluctant to go over it (I needed to whip again) but I was not having her stop again and so kicked my little legs as hard as I could and she over she went. The rest of the course was going well until we got to a raised log just before the water. Ghost refused and ducked out, I tried again and she did the same. Soon the rider caught up to me and her horse refused too. We had a quick chat about playing leap frog and then I tried again, and got another refusal. I was well and truly eliminated. The girl on the grey tried again and also got another refusal. It was quite funny. Another rider had caught up to us by then and also got a two refusals before she was over. In the end there were about 5 of us at the jump with only one getting over the first time. I finally got Ghost over and down the bank into the water. Straight after the water was the large hedge I was worried about. We had no impulsion as we trotted into it (I reallllly need a whip) but somehow my super little pony jumped it. We then cantered into the last jump and were finished. Even though it was a truly bad ride, I didn’t feel devastated as I had before. I thought we had done alright on our first cross country, with little practice and at a higher level then I had competed at before.

We left soon after as we had all finished the day and none of us were getting prizes. The trip home was good, we were all tired and thirsty though since we had run out of human consumable water. We found a little gas station in the middle of no where and each got a drink and an ice cream. Then it was off home. We unloaded the horses and cleaned out the cab off the truck. I was exhausted so had a quick shower and was off to bed by 9.30.

I had a great day and can’t wait for the show jumping competition this weekend. Its going to be a lot of fun.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I love photography and at some point in my life would love to be a photojournolist.

Living on a farm provides ample opportunity to take photos and I thought I might share some of the horsie ones with you that I've taken in the last week

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Pre-Training... here we come

I’ve been working towards Pre-Training for a long time. It may seem silly but Intro has always seemed just that one level too low, like somehow it wasn’t respectable for someone my age. I know horse riding isn’t about the age of the rider rather the rider’s experience but still, I always felt like I was just too old for Intro (probably because I always see a lot of younger children riding at Intro level).

Red never seemed up to doing Pre-Training in competitions. I could jump pre-training height easily in training and my dressage was respectable at that level but competitions were always our downfall. As you know something always went wrong in the Show Jumping. And I know that it wasn’t all Reds fault, obviously my nerves were getting to the both of us in Show Jumping which is probably why we performed worse then in training.

Well after all that I’ll finally be competiting at Pre-Training this coming weekend on Ghost! I am so excited but slightly nervous too. Especially about the Show Jumping phase. She’s a great jumper and very honest so really I don’t have much to worry about but every time I think about Show Jumping at a One Day Event I think about the embarrassing rounds Red and I had… and these jumps are bigger. I’ll be doing a little praying before I go in for my round. Hopefully my dressage will be up to scratch since Ghost is off to Taupo this week for some dressage schooling and we are having a dressage lesson on Saturday. I would’ve had liked some more Show Jumping practice on Ghost but unfortunately that’s not an option because of the dressage schooling. Thankfully I am not worried about Cross Country at all because Ghost is a machine.

Check back next week for the account of my very first Pre-Training One Day Event! And pray for me, in case my nerves try to overcome me.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Introducing Ghost

Meet Ghost.

Shes a 14.1 Appaloosa Mare who is 7 years old. With a sweet nature and an awesome bareback ride.

Ghost is my new eventer.

Now I haven’t bought Ghost yet, but I plan on probably doing it in the near future. Unfortunately since I’m 18 and she is only a pony we can’t compete in A & P Shows and Show Jumping competitions. But that’s alright, Eventing is my passion anyway.

Ghost has competed at pre-intro level with my friend Sarah-Anne but has been schooling higher then that. I jumped her 1m last time I was down here.

I can’t wait for us to form a bond. I know I’m going to be having a lot of fun with her. You’ll be seeing a lot more of her in the future.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Just a quick hello

Well I've made it to Taumaruni, and already some excitement has happened. One of the horses has gone down a bank and its too dark to get him up. So hes been provided with hay and water and we're getting him out tomorrow.

In other news, I've a got a new blog

Its going to document my life down here, but of course this blog will still be here and you will hear a lot about the horses. The other blog is more general life since as one of my best friend Ness said 'I don't want to hear all about horses, cause thats boring'. Ohhh having non-horsey friends huh? Anyway head over there, its still pretty basic!