Revolving Doors

Wrapping up a GREAT XC school in southern pines, on the best horse ever. March 2015 Wrapping up a GREAT XC school in southern pines, on the best horse ever. March 2015

If some arbitrary person with the power to look into a glass ball and read my future told me five years ago where I would be today, I would have raised both eyebrows at that mendacious glass object in total disbelief. Of course I would have assumed I would be riding and competing, but that’s sort of a given. I would never have imagined that I would have spent the better part of 2014 and 2015 riding a horse that I used to daydream about. In fact, the past two and half years have felt like an incredible journey through revolving doors, where opportunities seem endless.

During the last ten years at Tamarack I watched this horse time after time come over for jump lessons with Denny. I usually did whatever I could do to make sure I was on the ground setting fences. I couldn’t help but notice his casual attitude combined with a seriously powerful, yet effortless jump.

I would think to myself, “How could I ever get a horse like this? Where do horses this great even come from? If I could ride any horse in the world, I would wish that I could ride this one … Yeah RIGHT … An amazing horse like this never falls into the life of some no name rider like me. And, snap! Daydreaming over. Reality sets in.”

For those of you who follow my blogs, Theatre Royal, or “Vinnie” (owned by Gayle Davis) came into my life in June of 2014 after I decided to call it quits with my mare, who evidently was not suited for eventing. When I found out Gayle was graciously offering her all time favorite horse to me, I melted into a thousand pieces. Dreams really can come true.

Not only did Vinnie take me from a timid training level rider to a confident Prelim rider (and took me to my first CIC*), but he helped me conquer fears and trusting issues that I had been battling with for such a long time. He showed me what a true partnership was like and he allowed me to reach a level that I had been dreaming about for so long with ease and confidence. Vinnie will always be that incredibly special horse that changed my life.

I’ve been holding back making this announcement for reasons sort of unknown, but I figured it might be time to share what’s currently happening in my horse life. For me, sharing my life through these blogs has been sort of exhilarating! I am definitely the more reserved type, but opening up and offering little tid-bits into my life has been extremely rewarding, on multiple levels. Furthermore, I enjoy writing about what’s currently happening in my horse life, so here it goes.

At the end of this season, Vinnie’s owner and I jointly decided it might be a good idea to trade horses for the time being. Vinnie is getting up there in age and we accomplished great things together and it’s so incredible to end on a high with him.

We completed eight Prelims together, winning three of those, and placing in the top three at four of those events. We were on the winning 3’6″ team jumper challenge at GMHA this summer, and he took me to my first one star in August! We had lowest Prelim score at a couple events, and we won some indoor jumper shows. I have never smiled more on any horse I have ever ridden.

For now, Gayle has taken Vinnie back to continue riding and hopefully compete next summer, and I have taken over the ride on one of Gayle’s younger, up and coming horses, an eight-year-old Irish Sport Horse, named Mr T.

Mr T showing off his jumping skills and crazy athleticism! October 2015

Mr T showing off his jumping skills and crazy athleticism!

Of course I will miss that familiar and laid back ride that gave me more confidence than any horse ever has, but at least I get to see his sweet face several days a week! While Mr T might be Vinnie’s polar opposite, as far as energy level, personality, and exuberant jumping style, I am sort of shocked at how well we get along.

Mr T has been all over the place, from England, to Florida, to Vermont, but lacks some confidence, especially trail riding alone in the woods and a real partnership with someone who he can trust. In many ways he feels like an eight-year-old, going on five-year-old. In other ways he feels more like a confirmed ten-year-old when he jumps over 3’10” like its nothing!

He is not the most straight forward ride, he has quirks, and insecurities, but he tries incredible hard and wants to be a good boy, which only makes me believe in him more. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever believed in a horse this much, this early on.

We have already completed a couple events together this fall where I got a very good idea of the type of horse Mr T is. Our first outing we had a very telling run out and I learned a lot about him. There’s a very good reason why a horse would run out at literally a tiny row of hay bales on a Novice course, even though he has successfully competed through Prelim!

But this is what’s so fun about riding a new horse, getting inside his head and understanding who he is and why he does what he does. Our next event we ending up winning on our dressage score and I went into the event with a very clear plan and then executed that plan, which proved to be successful, as the horse really trusted me so early on in our partnership.

Ears back, tail twirling, ready for take off! Mr T Oct 2015 schooling at THF

Ears back, tail twirling, ready for take off! Mr T Oct 2015 schooling at THF

I have recently taken him to an indoor winter jumper show and am learning the horse at home versus the horse at the show are two very different horses, hence my determination to get him out in public frequently.

Most importantly, we need to spend a lot of time together, where we can get to know each-other and gain one another’s trust. He needs time out hacking alone where he can turn to me for guidance and support. I want to make sure he is having fun, while pushing him within reason to step up to the plate and become more bold and feel more comfortable in his own skin.

The training with this horse almost seems like the easiest part, while his fake confidence must be transformed into genuine confidence and Im thrilled to help him find his way.

I am beyond grateful for these opportunities and to have a support system, with amazing coaches who guide me and believe in me, and the most amazing owner, friends and family and people I have never even met cheering me on is like nothing else in this world.

Even though I do not have a glass ball in which I can easily look forward into the future to see our progression together, I am extremely excited about this new ride and the ability to transfer the confidence and knowledge Vinnie instilled in me and offer that over to Mr T! Stay tuned.