The first summer after I returned to riding, my most fabulous coach Sandy gave me a couple of weeks of job teaching camp kids. We had 2 groups, I did "classroom" type stuff and games while she taught the riding portions of the day. These pics were taken on "learn to polo the retired shool horse" day. All of these kids are now well out of high school, and I have kept in touch with a few of them.
This was also the summer I decided I wanted to compete more in Eventing rather then the H/J shows I had done before. In the spring of 2004 I went to jump judge at my first show, and from then on I was totally hooked (even though it was a long, rainy COLD day in may!). These are some pics of me and Casper at my very first entry level event at Glen Oro Farm in late August of 2004 (pictures taken by Christina Handley):
About two months before the above event, I brought home my first and last free lease. His name was Bo, and he was a delicately built and honestly a little fugly OTTB.
Bo and I went to two combined tests together, both in the spring of 2005. The first one, held at Glen Grandview Farm we went Cross Country schooling as well, the 2nd at Equus 3D was just the combined test.
We had planned on going to a full event in June, however Bo had some serious issues with the trailer from day 1, and I couldn't hold up my ride to get him in the trailer. He went home to his owner in July of 2005, as I had moved away for a job (and moved in with a new boyfriend), and decided to let the lease go. Bo wound up being sold to a buyer who had come to try him with me - she was a young dressage rider who absolutely fell in love with him, and as I understand it she still has him. It was a good place for him as he never 100% enjoyed jumping.
I took another year and a half break at this point, I tried to keep up school horse lessons, but after the job I moved for turned out to be a bust, I couldn't justify the 2 hour drive to the barn and my coach I loved, so instead I tried working as a stable hand for a local eventing facility. This lasted for a couple of months, untill I realised the farm had no intention of ever letting me actually ride, which was the reason I took the job.
In early 2006 my grandmother died, and I moved back home. Shortly after this I started taking weekly lessons again, untill the lesson barn closed due to the owner's devorce in 2007. Casper is still happily living with our local equine vet, and many of the other well loved schoolies got great homes. One of the ponies went to a friend of my coach, and is actually now boarded at Sandy's new farm.
Not long after, while Sandy was working on a new place for her students, I met Heather. She had a small farm at the time, and wanted help on weekends so her family could go on vacations without worrying about the farm. She had several horses I could go take on trail rides, and this worked out well for both of us. In late September of 2007 Heather brought Dottie home.
Dottie was a long 3 year old, and was intended to be a lease horse for me. Only hitch was, she was not even halter-broke! I was certain Heather was trying to kill me, but after only a month or so of consistent handling she was handleable, mostly catchable, and consistently longing and long lining.
Dottie was an interesting little mare, and I learned a ton from her. She was quite easy to start - we had actually intended to send her out for a month or so of training, but everything seemed so easy she stayed with us instead. For Christmas that year, Heather decided to give Dottie to me - and needless to say I was thrilled.
Sometime during the winter ot this same year, Heather picked up Ivan. He was 7 years old, unbroke and ungelded. He was also a big, pushy jerk (but not nearly so bad as Felix!!). After about a month of boot camp, he was fairly easily handled and rideable - in ways he was even easier then Dottie, he was certainly more lazy. I don't have too many pics of him - but here is a couple:
He eventually went on to be a school horse, and was of course gelded - but he was actually nice enough that with the right handler he could have been kept intact.
In May of 2008 Heather and I went to a Clinic with a dressage instructor named Sue Rothgeb. She was very good to work with, and I enjoyed it and learned a lot. Here are a few pictures from that:
In the winter of 2008 Dottie and I moved to a boarding barn so we would have a full sized arena for the winter. She loved jumping, and we had every intention of getting her out eventing in 2009. There were some setbacks, one of them involving changing her saddle which did not agree with her back and caused some training issues. I had finally gotten these fixed, and we were working on some grids one day. I got too far ahead of her into the first jump, and she tripped badly over the 2nd. She flipped over, and fortunately for me I was flung free before she fell, as I would probably not be here today to tell the story. This is why your coach gets on you to not jump ahead of the horse. It's not just unsightly, it also throws off the ballance of the horse and can cause a younger or more unbalanced horse to fall. She and I kept trying to get back where we trusted each other all winter - did a fair bit of hacking and such. This was taken on Boxing Day, 2009.
This winter I also met my current guy, Zack, and wound up doing a lot more traveling as he's from Florida and works all over the US. Dottie went into nearly full time training with Sandy at this point, which went very well. In January the decision was made to sell her. I always said it was because I didn't have time, but the reality that I never wanted to admit was I was afraid of her, and felt that I'd never feel safe enough to acheve my goals. She had too much potential to keep as nothing but a trail horse, so in June of 2010 she was sold, and now lives with Paige. They are a much better match, and even though I occasionally regret having sold her, there is little I can do about it now. Here are a few of the last pics I have of her, that were taken for her for sale ads:
In the summer of 2010 I took a couple of lessons from a great lady named Heather out of Boldventure Farms in upstate New York, as that's where I was staying at the time with Zack. She had me ride a fantastic OTTB named Zulu. I wish I could afford more lessons with her, but unfortunately everything horsey is super expensive within a 200 mile raduis of NYC
And this brings us up to around present time. I did not ride for at least 10 months before I bought Felix, which shows when you see the upcoming pics of me riding that were taken today - that update will follow tomorrow :)