Friday, August 22, 2014

Blast from the Past

I have been volunteering for programs that offer equine-assisted activities and therapies since 2007. Fall of 2013, I found a center close to home that offers classes year round. After a few months of weekly classes here, I decided that I'd like to become certified a therapeutic riding instructor. My mentor suggested that I start taking riding lessons as part of the process.

After searching a few different places for lessons, I came across 'Winning Edge Training Center' in Hudsonville. This perked me up a bit because, when I was little, the barn and trainer that I started riding with were in Hudsonville. I clicked on the link for the website and was looking at pictures of the facility and thought, oh my goodness- that is my old barn! As I'm clicking further along, I find that it's my old trainer as well!

I picked up the phone to call her and I think about gave her a heart attack when I told her who was calling. I starting riding with her when I was a little girl until about age thirteen. It turns out that she had been here and there training and just came back to the old barn in 2013. Is that fate or is that fate?  Now she's married with a sweetheart of a daughter and a young son.

Needless to say, I started taking lessons from her again. I dug around and found one of the scrapbooks that I made years ago, these pictures take us back thirteen years to some of the best days of my life.

This old beauty is Classy Patches, one of the sweetest mares known to this world. I would ride her all around the show grounds with just her halter and lead rope.


This handsome fella is Dyamond in the Rough...aka 'Monty'.  The picture on the left is from the same barn we all came back to. Crazy how the world works. 

Can you tell I didn't like him much? 

Let's go back to this spring...

My original plan was for it to be just a once a week thing to tune up my horsemanship skills, but, lo and behold, show season was almost upon us. After the a couple of weekly inquisitions, or, dare I say...nagging (I hope you're not reading this Chris:)) I decided that I'd do a show. So I upped my riding lessons to two to three nights a week to prepare.

The horse I'd been riding, Myystr, wasn't in training. He had the winter off and, while I had the past 13 years off, that meant there was lots of work to do.

Above is one of our first lessons together. One of the things that's new since I was younger is that everyone trains in a Western saddle, no matter what seat you ride. Years ago, if you showed English, you rode an English saddle all the time. I am a 100% fan of this whole wearing a Western saddle all the time. So much kinder on your legs and much easier to stay on if your horse is having an off (pun intended) day.

Here we are outside. In the big, scary outside world where it took us about 25 minutes before we realized that maybe there wasn't a horrible monster lurking in the woods and that we could, in fact, safely train outside without being a complete ding dong. Notice we're still quite a ways away from the back fence.

Show weekend came around faster than grease lightning and I was fortunate enough to be able to take Friday off from work and head up to the barn to help load up and ride over to MSU. Friday consisted of getting the horses acclimated and setting up stalls, then later that night they have Gymkhana classes that consist of barrels, pole bending, flag & bucket and all sorts of other fun games. There's no way in sweet hallelujah that Myystr and I were ready for that. Barrels?! Poles?! Those could be the second scariest thing on earth besides the fake monster in the woods! So we hung out and watched the rest of the girls have a blast. 

Saturday dawned and Myystr wasn't feeling so hot, so I rode another horse in a couple of classes. 

Kelly drove up Saturday for the weekend. Just check out that horse show enthusiasm while he eats his orange. 

By day two, Myystr was back in business. Our first two classes were halter and he made my job easy- we took two firsts, then won both of our championship classes.

When halter was finished, we had some down time until our riding classes right after the lunch break. This is when I wanted to vomit. See, the horse that I rode on Saturday was a sweetie who takes care of his rider and knows how to do his job like the back of his hand. Myystr is, well, a bit more fun. 

Our first class was okay. A couple flubs, but we ended up taking second overall. We were up right away for our second class, so Chris gave me lots of encouragement along with a few tips and sent me back into the arena. It was worse. We just couldn't get it right. 

Our first ride had qualified us for the championships so, luckily, we had some time until our next class to use the practice arena outside. Practice went great and I was feeling good about our next class- until we got up to the entrance and he balked, not wanting to go in. Great. We got in, but the class was just a complete embarrassment. If I could have melted us both into a puddle right then, I would have. 
Here we are trying not to plow over the judge.
So these next pictures are from our outside practice where we had it together. The pictures from the class I'll save to hopefully laugh about someday. 


When we finally made it home Sunday night, I had to be a little obnoxious. I think I earned it, right?

Is there anything special that you did when you were younger that you got back into later in life?

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