Tuesday, January 17, 2012

That's some kinda luck...

I was hunting through one of my notebooks today trying to find some programming script I had copied down for work when I stumbled across a little note I had scribbled in the margin:

EC Rider Levels.
I had scribbled it there almost a year ago, when thinking about putting Moon and I through our Equine Canada rider levels, to progress eventually (some day far, far in the future) to becoming an English Coach. It's a not-too-realistic dream that I've toyed with since the age of 17 when I first found out about the Rider Level system. Much like swimming lessons as a child, you would progress in lessons through different levels of horseback riding skill until you reached a specific extent of theory and practical knowledge. Each level had a written and practical examination and you would be awarded a certificate or pin. High enough up, you'd become "qualified" to teach others and would have to spending time gaining "hours" teaching others before progressing further up the ranks.

In my own Province there are very few EC Certified Coaches. When I went looking for a coach I struggled to find one, as many people follow less rigorous "coaching" programs that don't require this level of testing.

But nothing compares to the EC program. It is demanding, thorough and requires true skillset. When I was 18 years old I completed the first Level (now considered levels 1-3) but never applied for National Membership, which is required to obtain credit. Year after year, I've considering going back to get some more levels (they turned the 3 levels into 10...), yet never actually managing to accomplish it. Often the barns providing the theory courses would cancel them, or you had to haul out and they were a long ways away. I took lessons with an EC coach for two summers, but while she considered me at Level 5, I always left before going for any testing.

So looking at this scribbling, I thought that I need to get on this already. Finding the time and finances isn't going to be easy with all the other dreams I have going on (and boy do I have dreams!), but where there's a will, there's a way.

I opened my email account and searched for that old instructor of mine...and there in my draft-box was an email I started to her last spring when hunting for a coach.

Reading through it, I could see how far Moon and I have come. I confessed that we had no canter, our trot was a mess, he didn't listen that well and his head was always in the sky. Not saying we're perfect, but we're not the same team we were last year.

On a whim, I redrafted the email and contacted her. I was certain she wouldn't remember me anymore and after googling her name to try to confirm the email address, I was pretty certain I knew what her response would be. "I don't remember you and I don't have time for you."

Why would I think that? Oh, it's not my lack of self esteem. That's pretty steadily on the rise. No, it was the overwhelming list of her recent activities and qualifications. She had it all, she was a highly regarded international judge, examiner, national committee member...there's no way she has time for me, let alone remembers me!

This afternoon there was an email sitting in my inbox from her. Uhoh...

Turns out, she emailed me from her vacation in Florida! To say that she remembers me and is thrilled I found my dream horse. She was actually coaching me when I nearly bought an OTTB...and was the one that guided me to my decision not to purchase. I still remember being reminded that the right horse feels right...even if it takes years to find. She remains in my books, the best coach I've ever had. Don't get me wrong, W is fantastic. But this lady (we'll call her Bee) was capable of pushing me yet supporting me. Always introducing me to new and unique things and being able to magically tie it all back to my original goal.

If you're wondering why I didn't go back to her last summer when I owned Moon and wanted a coach well...I was actually scared of her response! I still thought she wouldn't remember me, and I convinced myself that it was too far to haul Moon (it's past W's), W was less expensive and Bee doesn't have an indoor arena the way W does. Easy decision. I still am thrilled I went with W and don't plan on bailing from her coaching. It's been incredible. I'm just starting to wonder if much like riding a different horse every once in awhile is good for you, maybe riding with a different coach once in awhile is good too???!

Regardless, Bee's completely game to assist me in working through my levels despite the fact that she's downscaled both her teaching and boarding. Which is fine since I plan on using Moon anyway : ) The ONLY real issue is that W doesn't allow outside coaches without permission...and I have a suspicion that she might not get on with this coach as a judge...

If that IS that case (I've never asked, so it's total hearsay right now), then one more incentive to relocate come spring, probably back to T's (who I had a great conversation with). I could train with W three weeks of the month and with Bee once per month (Bee is more expensive and also doesn't coach competitive riders). I'd probably haul to Bee's place since T's lacks a sand arena right now...but there's some practice time with my awesome pony trailer!

Huh. One more thing to follow-up on.

I also browsed the EC Rider Level requirements and with Moon I think we'd easily get through the first two levels which are pretty much walk-trot, transitions and trot poles. And things like not running into other horses and being able to groom : P
Moon will need some practice on Level 3 to achieve the Canter leads, which is the only thing in that level that we can't do (We haven't even PRACTICED leads : P ).
Level 4 stumps us because it's more cantering though we're working on the canter circle (20m) and the jumping...we need to jump a 2' combination in this one and canter a fence...uhoh.
Level 5 is jumping a 2'3" oxer, stirrupless canter (do that all the time when my stirrups fall off...), non-progressive transitions and jumping stirrupless. THIS level we're not going to reach anytime soon and need lots of schooling.
Level 6 is even harder, 2'6" jumps, full course and is the level before Instructor certification (meaning you can teach Level 1).

Looking forward to it. And REALLY hope I can make at least the first two levels happen : )

On another rather astonishing note, I've been trying to track down some information on the "Blair Trailers" that made my new pony trailer. Of course, there's pretty much nothing online except an advertisement for a 1971 Blair for sale and some mailing addresses. I emailed the dealership selling the 1971 and their reply was "Where'd you find that ad?? The trailer hasn't been for sale for years!". Whoops. No information to be had there. The address for the company led me (thanks to google street-view) to an old building that likely was the plant with the signs missing and the gates locked. No luck there either. It seems that Blair Horse Trailers are no more...

More google searching had me stumble across a webpage designed by some girl talking about her history in showing Appaloosas. In the webpage she mentions the Blair Trails being made by William Blair when one of his horses was injured in a commercial trailer. He wanted one that would be safer and better designed. Surprise, surprise, he made the first Blair in his backyard. Since there was an email address on the webpage I thought "I should contact her. Maybe she can direct me to some long-lost relative who's the third cousin of the maker and I can get some more info???". So I shipped out my email, not really expecting anything back.

"The Only Blair Trailer Ad online..."

Boy, was I surprised...THIS was her response:
My dad who founded and ran Blair Trailers has passed on. I and my husband worked there most of our adult lives. I might be able to answer some of the questions. We always had an Erie address although we moved from the farm to 47 highway in 1962 or close to that point in time. We were never in the city of Erie. We did farm out some parts to an outfit in Erie.

The original trailer was first built on the farm under a tree in around 1958, no one is sure what the exact date is.

Your trailer has a number on the frame between the tires on the driver's side, that is that trailer's year built and own number. It is legal ID.

You didn't say if the trailer was pull type or a gooseneck, but I'm assuming it is pull type. It should have a fiberglass top in excellent condition. I hope no one has ever painted it. On a sunny day you can tell if it has been painted as (if there is not too much tree mold on it) you should be able to see light through it. Fiberglass tops were our main selling point besides being a well built safe trailer to haul horses in. We invented the walk through escape door in the front. And were the first to use the round rear bumper so a horse can't hurt his leg on a sharp edge.

At this age, if the floors have not already been replaced, I'd guess they might need to be replaced. That and rust from people not cleaning out the mess the horses leave in the trailer are it's only weak spots on the top. The axles and leaf springs will need to be checked along with the brakes. We did not manufacture them, they came from suppliers. Redneck Trailer Supply in particular.

Somewhere around here I have copies of the old brochures that have the original selling prices on them. But they are older than 1974. Any help I can be just email me. How wide and tall is the trailer? Inside measurements.

What kind of horses do you have?  
Now I'm THRILLED! To make contact with the daughter of the original maker??! For all I know, she may have helped make my trailer! I LOVE that my roof is all original and they wanted it to be see-through. I didn't even realise the rounded bumper and now suspect that the whole brake issue may be a little less difficult then I suspected, since I have the name of the axle maker too! Plus the possibility of seeing the original brochures?! How cool is that?! Wow.

How much good luck can you have before it starts to spoil???! Another awesome National Velvet quote for you that makes me chuckle...: "I want it all quickly 'cause I don't want God to stop and think and wonder if I'm getting more then my share."

I best email her back quickly!!!

Beyond all of this excitement, I might head out to the barn this evening for either a short ride or else work on our lunging. It's FREEZING cold out and everything creaks from it. Probably Moon too. Hopefully W put him in his blanket liner today before sending him out. Brrr. I'd like to just stay home and relax on the couch (such a busy week and weekend) but feel compelled to spend time with him since it's been nearly a week!!! Yikes. The other advantage? I can check out a couple things on the trailer I need to confirm in order to place orders for some remaining supplies...which will tell me how easy or hard (how long really) it'll be to get my trailer up to 100% for towing. : ) Brrrr....


  1. Wow, all of that is so neat! Good luck with the EC certification, that sounds fun. And how cool that you found the daughter of the original trailer maker :)

  2. Good luck with your levels! That is such a cool story!