Wednesday, June 22, 2011
30-Day Challenge - Day 1
Okay, everyone's doing it, and I'm clearly a follower! : ) Actually, I'm enjoying reading everyone else's posts of the 30-day challenge, that I thought maybe I'd add my own. In between my regular riding updates, which let's face it, probably come too frequently. I'm a type-a-holic. Just shake your head and ignore my updates when they show up on your blog roll. Like an addict, I just can't help myself!
Day 1 - When and Why You Started Riding
Like most of you, I was a horse-crazy kid. I still have my collection of Saddle Club, Pine Hollow, Thoroughbred, Riding Academy, etc. books, which I spent reading and dreaming I was a character in. Beyond that I owned my must-have horse breed encyclopedia that I spent hours reading and writing out stats for my imaginary horses. I was never so fortunate to own any Breyers, but had "Grand Champions" instead, which were a lot easier to come by and much cheaper. My first model horse was named "Victory Gallop" and was a pretty buckskin gelding (he was listed as a Bay Roan warmblood named Victory). I broke his leg off when I was 10, cried horribly and my poor dad had to play vet and glue and cast it back together.
My parents knew they had a daughter who was horse obsessed. Unfortunately, with 3 children and 1 stay-at-home mom, there was no extra $ to spend on frivolous things like riding lessons. I got led around three times in my life on the back of a horse, once when I was about 5 at a campground 'ranch', which to this day I still remember clearly. When I think back, THIS is almost the moment that made me dream of really riding. Why? I couldn't tell you. I just loved it up there on the back of that horse, and I was already obsessed with them. Just 'cause.
The second and third lead line were at friends' houses when I was 7 and 8, and I even still have a picture of one of those 'rides'. I should dig it up sometime...
Regardless, that was the extent of my early riding, with one trail ride when I was 12 at that same ranch. Just walking. I needed more, but more wasn't in the budget.
I read every horse riding book I could find, pretended to ride, jumped broom sticks set up in the back yard, tacked and made gear for my model horses (which my collection had grown by this time, to the point where my dad had to make me a two storey, 30 horse-stall barn for them...), and dreamed.
I tried to get a job working with horses, but my parents were not keen. Horses were dangerous. People like "Superman" had fallen off and were paralyzed. Leaving their child at someone's facility to handle and hold those big strong creatures wasn't going to happen, even when I was 15 and 16. Life was cruel. My folks just didn't understand horse craziness, and I think they were always surprised that I didn't 'outgrow' it like my sisters and so many other girls had.
Every year I asked for a horse for Christmas and my birthday. I imagined he'd live in our shed, and eat the grass in our back 2 acres (I imagined my parents would stop growing potatoes and market veggies in order to turn the area into my pasture...). It never happened.
Then, for my 17th birthday, my dad had a new job that was really well paying. My sisters were off at University, and my folks decided to spoil me. They bought me 4 lessons at a local stable, plus 1 free tack-up lesson.
I still remember that birthday. At my family party the weekend before my birthday, they gave me a gift that was all about taking care of horses. Grooming and tacking and riding. They said "You're going to need this". It wasn't the first horse book I had gotten, and I figured they meant some day, in the future, when I was rich enough to buy a pony of my own.
On my 17th birthday, they sat me down on the couch and gave me a little envelope. Inside was a certificate to Meadow Green Riding Academy. I was THRILLED! I yipped and shouted and thanked them profusely. They also put $100 inside so I could buy a riding helmet. I still remember my dad apologizing that they were english lessons, but he thought I might enjoy that. I did.
That was in 2002. He took me to a local tack store (there were a LOT less back then), and picked out my helmet. I still own it, and still hate it. I wanted one of those beautiful velvet ones. He wanted me to get one of the plastic skull cap style and a velvet cover, cause "it's easier to clean". I love my dad profusely, so I bought the one he liked. I hate it, but it's still so special to me, because he started me riding in that helmet. I retired it last year, when he and my mom bought me a beautiful new velvet one : ) Love my parents, non-horsey as they are!
The rest is pleasant history now. MGRA was a dream for me, as I rode an old creaky mare named Sugar. A strawberry appaloosa, who treated me really well. I had been certain I'd keep riding there forever, but my dad was laid off, the money was gone, and so were the lessons. So I got a summer job as a telemarketer and paid for another year of lessons. I tried 3 barns in that year, rode a LOT of horses, jumped for the first time (on a big ol'draft named Stanley), had my first horse 'love' with a horribly confirmationed arabian name Twi, fell off a couple of times and got my Canadian Equestrian Federation level 1 certificate.
When did I truly start riding? in 2002 at the age of 17. Why? Cause I never stopped loving horses, and my dad could see that. : )
Before I go, can anyone see any improvement in Moon's shape thanks to our hard work? Personally, I can't see any difference!
(I love that if his head wasn't down, his feet are in the EXACT same position in this photo as the previous one!)
Some pics of us working on lowering his head carriage and getting him to accept contact at a trot:
Why Moon needs a placer-pole next time...trying to jump from a mile away : P
Some more successful jumps, including the 1'9" jump (I have video, but it won't upload...)
I must say, that if nothing else, I think my leg position has improved from last year!
Now if I could just fix that chicken elbow...at least the cross rail was WAY narrow, only 6' wide : )
Oh, and because I'm trying to cut down on my number of posts a day, here's some pics of me breaking in my riding boots. I was told that I should soak them for 10 minutes in the bathtub (luke warm water), and then wear them until they dry. I wore them for 6 hours before letting them air dry, and when I tried them on this morning after leaving them to sit out over night, they seem to fit WAY better! Now I just need to try riding in them. VERY pleased. Oh, and I should condition them too...
My beautiful expensive Ariat's floating in the bathtub...
First one on...still dripping wet...
Posted by Sand. at 7:50 AM