Saturday, September 29, 2012

Our first FOX HUNT!

Whew!  My bucket list is shrinking this year!  LOL!

Dreamy and I attended a Wentworth Hunt, hosted by Rest and Be Thankful Farm in Lyman, ME on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.  I have wanted to fox hunt FOREVER.  And I read all of Rita Mae Brown's fox hunting mysteries a few years ago and decided that I needed to try this discipline! 

I am SO glad I made time to finally attend a hunt.  I had wanted to go to the last hunt of 2011, but it was cancelled due to rain.  I had to wait almost an entire year, but it was worth it!!

As per hunt protocol, we started in the Hilltopper field.  In a hunt, there are three fields: First, Second, and Hilltop.  First Field stays right with the hounds and jumps everything, Second stays back a bit and can pick and choose jumps, while Hilltop goes at just a walk and trot and does not jump.  I was a bit disappointed with the VERY slow pace in the Hilltopper field as we very quickly lost sight of the hounds.  We had a bee attack, a few riders fall off, horses unwilling to cross a ditch, and the leaders got lost.  Whoops!!  Thankfully, no one was hurt and Dreamy was perfect.  She was cranky about having to trot so slow; her walk was as fast as the trotting horses in front of us, so we had to do a lot of walking as to not overtake the slow gaited horses.  She will thankfully ride in the front, middle, or end of a group, but she was simply not happy about having to jog instead of trot.  It was basically a trail ride with nine other riders/horses and she was like, "Uh, OK, this is boring."  At the same time, I totally understand why we were asked to start in the third field.  It only makes sense to be sure your horse is going to be calm and easygoing in a new environment.  But I admit that if I had to stay in that field, I don't think I would bother fox hunting again.  

We finally got to the Stirrup Cup, which was incidentally in the field of the Morgan horse farm where I started my riding career back in the 1980s!!!!  What a neat surprise for my first ever hunt!  I politely asked if I could move up to the Second Field and had a blast on the way back!!  I finally felt like we were really riding!  We got to trot through the woods, canter through fields, took a couple of jumps including "real" ditches (LOL!), and got to watch the hounds work.  It was so much fun!  The feeling of cantering along through a field with a big group was awesome!  Dreamy was very good.  She never once hesitated or wondered what was going on.  She was brave and bold and listened.  She never got excited or wanted to race.  I cannot wait to go again!

BTW, the hunt is a mock hunt, so no foxes are harmed!!  :-)


More photos here!

And a video!  You have to hear the hounds!!



Before the hunt began!
Listening to pre-hunt instructions
Stirrup Cup - talking to Doug S., owner of the Morgan Farm where I grew up!
Dreamy was pretty sure she wanted to try the cider.  LOL!
Riding along in Second Field - fourth from the front
Love her happy ears!  Second from front
Hacking back at the end


Thursday, September 27, 2012

SMDA Dressage Show - Sept. 16, 2012

Reva and I competed in our last dressage show of the season on Sept. 16.  Actually, I am pretty sure it will also be our last horse show of 2012!


Relaxing at the trailer before our first ride.
We rode Intro A and scored a 72.5% for a second place out of four riders.  That was our highest score yet to date!!  I was a little shocked, but she was super good and easy.  She was a little more tense than I would have liked, as there was a horse freaking out in the warmup while we tried to warm up.  Reva was unsure as to whether or not SHE should freak out too, but she held it together well.  We had really nice moments as the test went on; we scored a 6 and 6.5 on the first two movements, but then had all 7s, 7.5s, and even 8s on everything else!  I even had a 7.5 on my rider scores.  Our right trot circle, change of rein, and final halt were all 8s.  I was especially proud that our final halt comment was "straight and square" since we have worked so hard on that.  Judges comments at the end were, "Well ridden.  Be careful you know where horse's haunches are, likes to swing down long sides and at trot on center line."


Our new saddle pad from Smartpak!
Intro B was a much better test and I felt hopeful that maybe we would have another 70% plus test.  I was right!  We earned a 75.0% for a first place out of six riders!  WOW!!!  How exciting to earn our highest scores ever at our last dressage show of the season!  Again we started with a 6, as our centerlines are always crooked.  ARG!  It doesn't help that the big plastic letter A is so close to the entrance and she bulges herself around it.   We do much better on our final centerlines.  Homework!!!  ;-)  But the rest of the test included a few 7s, 7.5s and eight 8s!!!!  We even had all 8s on our collectives, except a 7.5 on submission.  The judge's comment was only, "Very well ridden!"  We had a lot of "good active trot" and "good stretch" and "steady" throughout the test.  I am so proud of my girl, especially for having started as a completely unbroke three year old back when I first got her.  I feel sorry for ever doubting her potential to become a dressage horse.  Granted, Training level and above are obviously not easy like Intro.  But I am hopeful that we can try Intro C next year without too much stress.  I think she can easily handle the small amount of canter, as long as she will pick up that right lead consistently!! 


WHY YOU DO THIS TO ME MOMMA?
Reva was not impressed with the first place medal hanging from her ear.  LOL!
Gotta love that face.  :-)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

2YO Maine Sire Stakes Finals

My friend Shelly and I marshaled at the 2YO Maine Sire Stakes Finals on Sept. 9, 2012, the day after my exciting RUS win!  ;-)  It was a gorgeous late summer day at the track.  We marshaled all eleven races and demonstrated the Standardbred's virtues to all in attendance.  There were no mishaps, just good racing and fast horses!  



Shelly and McKeever




Dreamy and McKeever love their fans.  LOL!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Happy 30th Birthday Sparky!

Yes, I am THAT person.  ;-)

My wonderful first horse Sparky, registered name Joydale Sparklerslas, turned thirty this year.  I joked about having a birthday party for her back in June, but I never actually figured I would do it.  All summer my friends teased me about not throwing her a party.  Even my hay guy teased me about it and asked when the party was!  LOL!  So I finally broke down and figured she deserved a party.  What a wonderful day!  I am so glad I did it and I am equally glad I have great horse friends who don't think I am completely crazy for throwing my wonderful old mare a party.  


What party is complete without decorations?  I put up her year-end awards from 2006 on the clothesline, the last ones she ever earned.

The backyard before the guests.....except for my son!  ;-)

I put out Sparky's photo albums.

It was quite funny when I ordered this cake from Hannafords!  LOL!  
I have permission to use my friend's photos!  :-)

Horse friends!

My husband, sister in law, brother, and father :-)
My son