Monthly Archives: April 2011

Fabulous Fling!

A few days ago I was lamenting (in my mind anyway) about Fling’s ‘lack of progress.’  It has seemed very slow going, improving her canter (well, mostly improving ME at the canter if truth be known) and still slugging away at the flying changes. Two steps forward, one step back.

I always am second-guessing myself about her warmup, too. For the longest time it seemed like it took f-o-r-e-v-e-r to get her warmed up and ready for the ‘tough stuff.’

Tonight was magical. She is still tugging just a TAD bit too much on the left rein when going right – but she warmed up much easier. I am doing a LOT of changes of bend/direction and ‘head to the rail’ leg yield in both directions – and moving to trot quicker than I was. As Debbie stressed,  I really focused on the QUALITY of the gait at the trot. I kept asking for MORE impulsion and quicker hind leg. I have to think about keeping my seat still – but not tense – and ‘letting’ her back move – and actually encouraging it to do so. All the sudden all the pieces of the puzzle came together. She was forward, ‘dancing’ and her back was like a little trampoline. The canter work was AWESOME and even the ‘tough’ left half pass was good. Then I did counter canter in a circle and did flying changes. They were so straight, smooth and calm I couldn’t even tell she changed.

Dare I say it? I think I can see Fourth level from here.


Faxx is naughty….then nice

I set up a lesson with Marie for Saturday so I could take Faxx and work on some first level stuff to prep him for some upcoming shows. I had to leave by 8:20 for my 9:45 lesson. I got up early so I could feed them all and let them out so he would have some time to roam around and loosen up before we had to go.

When I went to get Faxx, he had other ideas about being caught. I spent FORTY FIVE minutes chasing him around our ten-acre field. He’s been difficult to catch before, but I do the old ‘make them run until they’re happy to stop and be caught.’ This time, tho, Fling and Faeryn ALSO ran with him. At other times, Faxx would run, and Fling and Faeryn would look at him like he was crazy and continue grazing, so he’d make big loops around them because he really didn’t want to stay very far away. But yesterday they ALL ran ALL over the field and I could not hike from one spot to another fast enough to reallly keep them RUNNING. They had time to stop, rest and graze a little while I caught up to them! I kept looking at my watch and finally I cried ‘uncle’ and resorted to shaking a feed bucket to get them all in the tiny little space in front of the barn. I don’t like to do that – for one, I want them to be trained to LET ME catch them and secondly, with three of them in that tiny space, it’s an accident waiting to happen. I managed to let Fling and Faeryn OUT of the small paddock, and STILL had to CHASE Faxx to catch him! He was almost dripping wet when I put him in the trailer, and I was 10 minutes late for my lesson!

I was so mad at him – and was able to channel that anger in a positive way when it was windy as all get-out at Marie’s, and he wanted to gawk at stuff around the arena. I rode him VERY assertively and just BOOTED him forward or gave him a smack with the whip when he wanted to slow down to stare at anything! Faxx is quite unused to that! He is taking better contact, but still, when he’s asked to do lateral work, he often drops the contact and gets a bit inverted – making it almost impossible to sit his trot. Faxx has a huge trot, and unless he’s really through and connected, it’s really hard to sit. We worked on the evil ‘leg yield from K to X, circle left, circle right, leg yield left from X to H that’s in First level Test 3. Marie was laughing at me Saturday as I RANTED about this movement. I really want to know if the test writing committee EVER rode this movement, or had an honest-to-goodness first level rider try to do it? IMHO, it’s WAY too hard for First level. The movements by themselves are not beyond first level, but how they are combined is very difficult. I rode through it a few times and it just felt like a train wreck – and we overshot X each time. However Marie kept telling me I was closer than I thought and it did not look as bad as it felt to me. I’m dubious. 😉

I rode Fling on Saturday and she was a good girl. The canter is getting better – probably because I am learning to ‘sit’ deeper and not ‘rock’ or ‘pump.’ Her half pass work is awesome!

Faeryn is also really coming along. My last lesson with Debbie really helped me realize I need to sit as deeply as I can on her – and to also continue to encourage her to use her right hind more. She wants to pop her croup up – and by sitting deeper, I can dicourage that and encourage her to ‘sit’ more and bend her hocks. Sunday I rode her again and worked on lengthening at trot and canter. Wowser – she is starting to get a medium trot and canter. And ‘sitting’ much better through upward and downward transitions at both trot and canter. Also doing much better at the ‘hated’ First level Test 3 movement. 😉  And, starting to do ‘baby’ half pass with her at the walk. 

Sunday afternoon I rode Faxx and he was SO good. It was windy, but he was focused and taking good contact. He is not CRAZY about the idea of working this hard – he is being a bit of what I call a “whiny teenager.”  But mostly a very good boy, and he’s getting with the program. And to prove that every cloud has a silver lining – if my arena wasn’t unrideable I never would have been forced to ride Faxx out in the field. And even though I really was not happy with the idea – doing so has really improved my ‘relationship’ with him – I have discovered he is a very honest fellow. I mean, I knew that intellectually, but had lost a lot of trust in him over the cold backed bucking launch in Oct. 09. Now I have no reservations about riding him in the field – or anywhere for that matter. I’d even take him to the beach. At one time he was my hardest horse to ride, but I do not find that to be the case anymore.

By Sunday evening I was just feeling so very blessed to have three wonderful horses. Each of them have superior work ethics and they are each very fun to ride in their own way. Life is good.

Weekend Clinic – Day Two

Sunday Fling was up again.  Her ‘deal’ with the left rein was almost nonexistent today! So we moved to canter quickly and did super collected canter to forward canter – and I was able to ‘get’ the mental imagery of sitting on her hocks and sitting very quiet and still – but with a very deep seat. It is sitting deep and not ‘allowing’ her to canter big that gets the most collected ‘pirouette’ canter. I can half halt a little – but the best effort comes from using my core to keep her under my seat. Very difficult to explain, but when you finally do feel it, you ‘get’ it. When I was showing Fling second level, she was very reliably on my ‘seat’ and when I did canter mediums, I could get her to come back just by using my core and not even having to half halt with the reins. Somewhere along the way I lost that – and now am having to ‘work’ at rediscovering it.

Every once in a while, Debbie would have me send her forward into a bigger canter. Whenever you do really collected canter, it’s always a good idea to send them forward every so often. Steffan Peters emphasized that in a symposium I audited last fall and I agree with that.  We did the super collected canter both directions and we also did more of the shallow loop serpentines where we would do one loop in counter canter to get her straighter. Part of the trouble with our flying changes is that she gets crooked in the change – and all of this canter work is part of the foundation that will eventually make our changes better.

Then we moved to trot work and finished up with half pass work. Debbie had me work on her throughness by doing the shoulder in/circle/haunches in down the long side and then turn onto the center line at either A or C and then  half pass. Her half pass to the right has been her weakest one – with less bend/impulsion than to the left. Happy to say she just hit it out of the ballpark with her half pass work on Sunday. Debbie pronounced both directions ‘solid 8s’ and we finished on that note!

Faeryn was my last ride of the weekend. Like Fling, her canter has been a work in progress and she’s made a LOT of progress, but it turns out we’ve just scratched the surface. In our warmup, her canter was ‘dancy’ and had lots of impulsion. But she still was not working as hard with her right hind as her left – which became evident when we started working on trot lengthenings –  something I told Debbie I wanted to work on. And who knew – I’ve been doing lengthenings and mediums wrong. I always read and was taught (and this is how I did it successfully with Fling – even at second level) that to prepare for a lengthening or medium, you half halt through the corner – ‘winding’ up the spring, to to speak – and then release the energy and pretty much try to stay out of the way and resist the urge to ‘chase’ them in the lengthening/medium across the diagonal. Nope. Debbie says you need to really SIT DOWN on them, and in Faeryn’s case, use a lot of right leg to encourage her right hind to be as active as the left hind. For some reason Debbie thought it was really funny when I told her the deal i had with Fling is that she was to keep going and I’d just sit there and tell her when to stop. 😉  Believe me, that method is a LOT easier!  I found out just how much core strength is really does take to really SIT DOWN on a horse. My tendancy is to pinch my knees together when I am using leg, which pushes my seat right up and off their back. One of my ongoing challenges (and the #1 rider position issue Debbie gets on me about) is to ride with a longer leg, carried a bit further back from the HIP – not the knee. Truly, I’ve lengthened my stirrups about 3 holes on each horse since I first started riding with her.

It was hard for me to really feel when Faeryn was lengthening – I could feel more power in her trot, but it did not necessarily feel like a longer stride, although Debbie assures me it was. We then moved to canter, and here too, Debbie stressed sitting on her and pushing her through with my lower leg  – not spur – to work her right hind. And, like with Fling, to concentrate on lifting my ribcage, sitting on her ‘like a pillar’ and making sure I did not drop my chin. And, to keep her on my seat. It made her canter feel much more ‘together.’

We then worked on my old nemesis – the First Level Test 3 movement that requires you to come around the corner to K, then immediately leg yield to the right from K to X, then circle left 10M, circle right 10M and then leg yield left from X to H. It was giving me fits. You have a very short time to go from bent around the corner one direction, to straightened with slight positioning the other direction and then moving to the right. And to get from K to X ‘in time’ required a pretty steep leg yield. Interestingly enough, keeping her straighter with my OUTSIDE leg made it easier to move her over with my INSIDE leg. Although I kept telling Debbie I was not hitting X in time – we were about 1 horse length late  – until she patiently explained to me that the arena I was riding in was WIDER than a regulation dressage ring. Oh. Never mind. LOL!

Last night I rode Faxx with better results in my shoulder in work – but had a real epiphany with Faeryn. I tried to ride her with a much deeper seat and longer leg and resist her attempts to get me OFF my seat. In the canter, Faeryn has a habit of popping up in the croup – it is largely a conformation issue with her, since, unfortunately, she has the shorter croup that comes from the Arabian side. (Fling has a longer croup and does not ahve this issue.)  It can feel like a’double bump’ at the canter. She is especially good at ‘popping me up’ off her back when she does a downward. Last night I really worked at getting my leg long and back without pinchign at my knees – keeping my seat glued to her back, and thinking sit, sit, sit. At the same time, I used my right leg to encourage her right hind. And I got a completely different feel. Before, I’d been riding Faeryn with reins, seat and legs – all independent of one another. Suddenly I got the feeling that Faeryn was – from nose to tail – completely connected. Hind legs connected to my seat/legs which pushed the energy forward, to be captured in the reins and recycled back to her hindquarters. Really hard to explain. Truly a ‘zen’ moment. LOL!  I also worked on my ‘old enemy’ the leg yield from K to X – and am happy to report that particular demon seems to be slayed – at least for the moment. 😉

In the next month, Faxx needs to really step up to the plate to be ready to show First 3 in a Memorial Day show, which is the only qualifier we plan to attend before the Arab Sporthorse Regionals in July. He’s going to go to a schooling show May 8 and another one May 21 to prep for it. His main issue is dropping contact, but he did MUCH better last night on his shoulder ins and leg yield. We have probably 2,000 feet of fenceline – and I put it to good use last night working on the ‘head to the rail’ leg yielding, and also to serve as a ‘rail’ for shoulder ins. I could actually sit the trot during some shoulder ins. Progress! Now, whether he will be competitive at First level – who knows. Most of it depends on how connected he stays. Last night he was super connected – even at the walk, which is usually the toughest gait to get consistent connection. But, he was quite ‘well warmed up’ for last night’s session, since the hooligan declined to be caught – so I sent him galloping around (the equine version of ‘digging ditches’) until he cried ‘uncle’ and let himself be caught. He was blowing hard and lathered between his legs by then. In comparison, the work I asked him to do was a walk in the park! Hopefully he’ll be smart enough to REMEMBER that next time he thinks about evading capture. 😉

Weekend Clinic – Day One

Why is it that riding two horses every day at home doesn’t faze me, but riding two horses in a clinic two days in a row absolutely wears me out? Possibly because I never work as hard at home as I do in a clinic? 😉  Perhaps the loading tack/haynets/hauling the horses back and forth is also a factor. Due to the way my rides were scheduled – I didn’t get anything done over the weekend other than ride!

On Saturday I rode Fling and Faxx. With Fling, the reoccurring theme is canter work. Getting her to carry more weight on her haunches, to stay on my seat and lately, to work on dispatching her newfound habit of trying to hang on my left rein when going right. The bigger goal is to get her flying changes better – and we’re working on that – without even working on the changes themselves – by getting her canter straighter, more collected with an emphasis on carrying more weight on her hind legs,  and getting her shoulders more elevated. Her trot work is looking pretty good. To help with her recent tendency to want to hang on the left rein when going left – which made me hang on the left rein more – Debbie said when she does that, just concentrate on riding the shoulders around – Don’t get in a ‘battle’ over the rein. The rein is not the real issue. To ride her right side more and ride the shoulders around to sort of ‘bypass’ the entire left rein issue. The worst thing is for me to get into the habit of hanging on her left rein.We worked on this to warm her up and made progress. Her back got looser and her trot got bigger. One exercise I like is, going down the long side, to do shoulder in to about E/B, then circle 10m, then haunches in to the corner letter, then turn down center line and half pass to the rail.

We then moved to canter work. The ongoing challenge for me is to sit still, sit vertically and resist my old habit of leaning back,which drives my seat into her back, essentially driving her onto her forehand. Debbie’s mantra for me was to ‘be a column’ and so ‘sit on her hocks” and also to sit as deep as I possibly could. And always the goal is to increase her jump and increase the bend in her hocks and the activity of her hind legs, and especially her right hind. She wanted me to get Fling ‘straighter’ to both reins, so she had me do some shallow loop counter canter. We then moved to schooling canter pirouettes, which is really fun, but also really hard for the horse, so you have to really be careful not to drill it. We started with turn on the haunches at the walk to the right, and in the turn, ask for canter. Harder than it sounds! Debbie’s goal here was to have the horse make the connection that we wanted the same movement in the canter as the walk – which was familiar to the horse. Sure enough, when Fling finally realized that, yes, her nutty human really did want her to do a canter depart in that ‘weird’ position, she was in the ‘pirouette canter’ from the first stride. Debbie admonished me to not try and make it smaller just yet – although I think Fling certainly could have done a smaller one. A very, very wonderful feeling!  Then we did it to the left, which was obviously her weaker side. It took more of an effor to get her to pick up the canter to the left, and the canter strides were a bit more labored. But still a good effort!

During the last 10 minutes of our lesson, the next rider came in the ring, and when she asked a bystander to tighten her girth, for some reason that made her horse freak – he started bucking in place, she came off, and her horse went CAREENING around the arena. The rider was not hurt – just a bit shaken. Fortunately I was on Fling, who has survived the pasture antics of Faxx and Faeryn while I was riding out there. This all happened when our back was to them, and Fling did spin around when she heard the galloping hooves – and at first the horse was heading straight toward us. But Fling gave him her best “MARE FACE” with ears pinned FLAT against her head, and he reversed direction. And he proceeded to careen around the arena for a good ten minutes! Everyone kept saying “are you sure you don’t want toget off?  NO was my answer – I knew Fling would be more antsy on the ground than with me on her and I had no concern whatsoever about her getting too excited about the escapee. He was finally captured with the help of a bucket of feed, and Fling got back to work and we finished with a very nice schooling canter pirouette.

I had a few hours between lessons, but considering it takes me 20 minutes each way travel, plus unloading/loading, etc., I ended up with about an hour and a half of ‘useable time’ in between and that needed to include lunch. I decided to take Faxx  for my second slot on Saturday. This would only be the second time Debbie had seen him. I had taken him to Marie’s for a lesson the previous weekend – his first since last fall – and he was very looky. We tried to work on shoulder in, but he would drop the connection every time, and got ‘balky.’  He was much better riding him in the field this week, so one of the things I really wanted to work on was shoulder in. The shoulder in itself should not be hard, but with Faxx, the ever-present challenge is to get him to do something new AND keep the connection to the bit. He drops it at the least provocation.

Faxx was very calm and relaxed from the minute I got on him. He took contact immediately and maintained good steady contact in our warm-up. Debbie watched and had much positive to say.  Last week he had been going out the right shoulder when going left, and leaning on my right leg when going right – but I worked on fixing that in my rides last week and it was not much of an issue. I told Debbie I wanted to start on some lateral work – specifically shoulder-in. He does a good leg yield – and in fact, I use thatin schooling sometimes as an aid to get him more connected. But whenever I try to do shoulder-in – he drops the bit and ‘bounces’ up and down on the contact. We started off leg yield, which he did well to the right. Going to the left, he was more likely to try and drop contact. Debbie suggested I add the ‘head to the wall’ steep leg yields that I do with Fling and Faeryn to his “workouts’ too. It’s not an easy maneuver, and sometimes they feel ‘trapped’ since they are facing the wall – and they want to go forward but can’t – and need to understand the only direction that is “right” is sideways. He actually did OK with it – he was not as ‘straight’ as he needs to be – but that will come. But he did not get frustrated by it. With Faxx, you have to be more diplomatic about introducing new things than with Fling and Faeryn. He gets frustrated easier than they do when he does not understand a new concept. The good thing though – was that when he got frustrated during my lesson at Marie’s last week – he would just STOP, and sometimes back up. This time when he got frustrated, he would canter forward – which is ALWAYS preferable – and perfectly OK. I do not get mad at them when they do this. Debbie was a bit surprised by my attitude. I guess some people get mad at their horses and think they are evading when they do this. I don’t think that at all. NOW – if they do it for weeks and weeks – yes, of course, it’s an evasion. But when you’re first introducing something? No, Not at all. And I am always happy for a horse to be thinking FORWARD.

Then we moved to shoulder-in. ACK!  The thing about Faxx is, he has to be really connected to be able to sit his huge trot. But the first thing he would do when asked to perform shoulder-in was drop contact and become UNconnected – which made me feel like I was just bouncing all over his back. Debbie kept saying I really wasn’t – but it felt like it to me and felt AWFUL!  So we’d do about two strides of shoulder in and then I would stop him because I felt like I was just pounding his back. and I couldn’t get him BACK in contact IN the shoulder in. I finally sort of solved the problem – for the time being – by POSTING the trot to do shoulder in. It’s not easy! But at least doing this, I could actually train the shoulder in better. Hopefully in a few weeks I can keep him connected during the shoulder-in and make more progress. But Debbie was very positive and said it really went much better than I thought it did. LOL! I usually AM my harshest critic! I was very happy with Faxx. Debbie said a week of this sort of work and I will probably see a  huge improvement. I have to say, since ‘bucking up’ and riding him in the field – I’ve gotten much more confident riding Faxx and am really enjoying him.


Faxx gets a lesson, and Faeryn is ‘horrid’

For the first time since last fall, I took Faxx for a lesson. He’s still a bit out of shape, but you have to start somewhere. It was very windy, and there was heavy construction equipment working on the property behind Marie’s arena. Faxx was very looky, but one advantage of riding him in the field is I have gotten a lot more confident about saying “cut it out” and kicking him forward. His major problem is that he is falling right both directions. It takes an amazing amount of right rein going to the outside to keep him from ‘falling out’ and a lot of leg going to the right. I can feel the falling out the shoulder going to the left, but not so much the leaning on the leg going right. To me it just feels like he does not want to bend right – but I could not accurately diagnose the reason.

We did some lateral work, which is the main thing I wanted help with. To my surprise, he CAN do haunches in, even though at home I didn’t think we were doing very good ones. Shoulder in to the right was not bad. Shoulder in to the left? That’s where Faxx hit the brakes. When he does not want to do something – he quits going forward. Majorly. As in, the next step would be backing up, or a rear. I need to nip that in the bud now. Interestingly enough, when Faeryn ‘hit the wall’ during travers, her reaction was to canter forward to get out of the work. Interesting to see the different methods that horses display evasions. Several times, in the middle of asking him to do something – I had to abandon ship and just aggressively send him forward. As Marie said, he is in his ‘adolescent’ years now. It probably does not help that he’s been mostly lazing around doing nothiing more strenuous than eating  the past few months. He’s gotten used to that cushy lifestyle and isn’t really sure he wants to rejoin the ‘working class.’ Plus, even when he was being ridden, he was not being asked to do anything that was especially hard for him. Since we were showing, and in the ‘hunt’ for national awards, I did not want to ‘rock the boat.’ This year, all bets are off. The # priority is not showing – but moving up. I’m not even convinced I will go to Arab Regionals this year. I am definitely not showing him Training level for the third  year in a row. And if he is not super competitive at First, I’m not going to spend the $1500 (and 3 days of vacation)or so it will cost to go. Faxx is basically a good-natured, obedient guy, so I am sure he will get ‘used’ to the idea of the increased expectations and get with the program.

Faeryn is a bit like the girl in this old nursery rhyme. (Although in this instance, it’s a forelock.)

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad, she was horrid.

Interestingly, my own mother used to describe me in the above manner.

99% of Faeryn’s “horrid” behavior is on the ground.

Her latest transgression involved pulling away from me while I was trying to load her in the trailer Sunday at 6:45 a.m. to go to a scholing show. Her issue here is not really trailer loading. It’s leaving her buddies. She is incredibly herd-bound.

There is nothing quite so loud as the sound of shod hooves on an asphalt road in the very quiet, still early morning. She went flying down the driveway, and hooked a right toward the major road. Then Faxx whinned. I thought she would fly back into the driveway, but no. She slammed on the brakes, but then took off the opposite direction, down toward the dead end, lead rope flying behind her. I was really hoping she would not run to the very end of the road, since it’s probably a mile, and I was counting down the minutes until we would be dangerously ‘behind schedule’ for the show over an hour away.

Thankfully, she turned into my next door neighbor’s driveway and I was hoping she would run back to the barn to be near the horses – but no, she proceeded to sashay hither and yon all around the large front yard. Fortunately it’s very dry, so I doubt she left any divots. We played a merry game of chase for another minute or two until her stomach won over her newfound freedom and she stopped to graze. I marched her home, dared her to not get in the trailer (and, in fact, she launched herself into it) and I went to let the other horses out. I was very glad they had not been in the pasture when she made her escape – that would have been mass chaos. Nevertheless, it was evident from the state of Fling – and her stall – that she’d spent the 10 minutes or so it took me to capture Faeryn spinning in her stall. She was sweaty and the stall was a mess. I got her and Faxx out with no further excitement, and since I’d actually been running a little early (a very rare happenstance!) I was actually still ‘on time.’  NOTE to self: Put chain on Faeryn for trailer loading in future. It’s something I had been doing – she had developed this nasty little trick of whipping her head around to the right – completely throwing me off balance and taking away any leverage I might have to control her. But I was in a hurry and just forgot that little trick of hers. It’s the first time she’s been successful in actually getting away from me though. So knowing Faeryn, that increases the liklihood that she will try it again. 😉

Once we got to the show, she was good as gold. Stood calmly tied to the trailer and only got mildly agitated when the horse parked next to her left. She warmed up well, despite getting a mild case of the horrors at several large packs of bike riders who zoomed by. Our first test was a bit ragged. Perhaps the long- term effects of having no proper arena to school in – with letters marked at correct distances, etc. is starting to catch up to us. She also wanted to ‘die’ during the test. That’s something I have no experienced before. I like my horses very forward and ‘self-propelled.’ I HATE to have to ‘kick’ a horse to make it go forward. But that’s what I had to do in part of the trot work. Actually, instead of kick, I tapped her with the whip. There is no worse feeling in the world ( to me anyway) than feeling you have ‘no horse’ under you. Sometimes it’s because they get behind the leg – sometimes it’s just because they’re lazy. I was fairly concerned about this because the medium/extended gaits call for a tremendous amount of energy and I hate the thought Faeryn does not have that energy on her own and that I will have to work at ‘creating’ it. In that regard, Fling has really spoiled me.

I had about 40 minutes between rides and didn’t even try to check for results in between. I took her back to the trailer, loosened the girth and tried (unsuccessfully) to get her to drink.

I thought our second ride was better, even though it was the more difficult test. She felt more ‘together’ and more forward.

This is our area’s highest scoring judge – and when I checked the results, we’d won both our classes, with scores very close together – 74.838 and 75.172. We need to polish our test-riding skills a bit before she’s ready for recognized shows – and the number one thing to work on is our trot and canter lengthenings.



More good rides

Fling was great the other night. Super, super half pass at canter.

I rode Faeryn today (only time for one today since I had to spend most of the day helping my parents with a garage sale) and it occured to me that she is beginning to feel like a second/third level horse. Her trot is really collected and ‘dancy’ and the shoulder-ins are getting easier. I’m doing ‘baby’ half pass at walk with her and she’s starting to get the idea.

 I really love riding her and I am so grateful I decided to breed her mother, Lisa, to Frohwind again. I didn’t even ‘ask’ my husband about it – my philsophy with such things is it’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission. 😉  At the time, Fling was four years old and I was having a super time riding her. Lisa was 16. I knew I did not have a big window of opportunity for another one. Lisa had a difficult time giving birth to Faeryn – I actually thought Faeryn was dead, it took so long, and her tongue was hanging out and blue. I was in touch with my vet by phone and he told me to pull the foal since the labor had gone on for so long. You normally are told never to pull the foal. Fortunately all I really had to do was grasp her by the ankles and pull gently downward and she slid right out. Her shoulders were apparently hung in the birth canal. I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact she was dead, and was thrilled when I pulled her out and she landed on the shavings with a PLOP – she also took a huge gulp of air! It certainly trumped any disappointment I might have had that she was not a pinto like her older sister. I got my second choice, anyway – a bay filly with four socks. I remember that like it was yesterday – hard to believe it was almost six years ago.

Next weekend I am taking Faeryn to a schooling show to have another go at First level and see how she does. I want to qualify her for the USDF Championships in November, but want to get a few schooling shows under our belt before I take her to a recognized show.