|It's an XL Coffee kinda day|
The clouds have parted the past few days and it's allowed for some pony time and with the clear skies, comes a clear brain. Showing is always at the back of my mind, but I'd be lying if I said HTS I didn't leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. While we sort-of redeemed ourselves at HTS II and came away with some reds, it still left Sierra and I in a bad spot that we spent months recovering from. Riding high on the continuous, steady improvement in the tack had me reverting back to #ShowGoals as you may have noticed in my June Goals post. Contrary to the stretch goal of doing a few flat classes at the end of the month, my riding has taken a different path this past week.
My arena is still really wet due to the onslaught of steady, copious amounts of rain so I have taken to riding in the field. Our farm is situated on 160 acres and we are in the process of obtaining our Organic certification which means instead of using chemicals to kill the weeds, we are doing a regime of summer fallow and crop rotation to gain control, balance the soil and put nutrients back into the ground. Our largest plot of cultivated land is currently summer fallowed, which means it's worked up and just dirt, yielding a large space for riding, albeit not ideal footing given the natural elevation and depth changes. This area yields access to the roughly 80 acre plot of trees on our property, home to an abundance of life and a fairly large trail system that the old owners spent 30+ years perfecting as he utilized them for his draft horses both for training and commercial reasons. While the some of the trails are getting a little overrun with dead fall from all the wind that accompanied the rain. Regardless, those that are open yield a beautiful and relaxing place to enjoy the solitude and peace and quiet of nature. While sometimes the amount of work that is due on our farm is overwhelming, i'm often reminded just how lucky I am to call this little piece of paradise home.
|I'm usually a helmet nazi .... Usually.|
What does this have to do with showing, you might wonder... Lately, I have been riding bareback in a side pull and I've been thoroughly enjoying it - as has Sierra. The confidence boost as well as the lack of pressure on both of us has unleashed a newfound love for all things not showing-related. I spent a fair bit of time in the round pen in a halter earlier this year, but getting on Sierra in a wide open field has ignited an ease in me that is truly rewarding and I think Sierra genuinely appreciates it. That aside, she responds incredibly well to it - I honestly think she prefers it to having a bit in her mouth. She has a very sensitive nose/mouth, but the side pull is much more stable on her face than a halter and she seems to appreciate it.
|A few minutes before the carnage began|
After two jaunts in the field around the barn in a halter, I borrowed a friends sidepull and got brave and decided to venture towards the trails. The horses followed me eagerly, but naturally when it came time to going thru a gate, one horse wound up on the wrong side of the fence that follows the trail I chose. One horse hung back near the gate, and the last, my hubby's gelding, followed closely as my dogs trotted up ahead. Thunder rolled in the distance and we stumbled across a young bear the evening before while out picking berries in the area, so after some time I decided to turn around and head back home, happy with how well everything was going. Naturally, upon turning around the two horses in tow, one beside me and one on the opposite side of the fence, took off for home at the same time my dogs took off into the bush behind me after a squirrel. While Sierra got a little worried, she surprised me by keeping herself together quite well. I patted her neck as we walked back towards where the horses were, and upon reuniting with them on a downward slope she got a little worked up which seems to be a common thing when we ride downhill. I took the opportunity to do a few circles before we headed back towards the barn, and the horses took the opportunity to try and kill me.
I bailed prematurely when two horses came galloping up behind me and another galloping up over a hill that was, at that point, above our head and Sierra scooted sideways, though i'm sure I could have kept her contained. Sierra expected a response from me it would seem, so I patted her and assured her that it wasn't her fault. Luckily by then, I was near my mounting block as I was nearly back at the barn so I hopped back on and rode back to the barn. By then, the horses had returned and history repeated itself when riding through a ditch and two horses galloped up behind us on either side, bucking and kicking. They were so close, one of the horses shoulders even clipped my leg and as Sierra and I rounded the top of the ditch and she scooted sideways, I bailed a second time as I had lost my balance (thanks, Yoga Pants) a little. Once again, I patted her and walked to a nearby bucket, overturned it and hopped back on. I gave the rambunctious boys a stern talking to (ok, I yelled at them and threatened to withhold their daily mash for a week) and finished off with a few circles before turning Sierra loose on the back lawn to earn her keep.
|Mash Face Lawn Mower|
A few days later I popped on her again in the side pull and decided to put some sort of flat ride on her, despite being bareback in a sidepull as I was curious how she might react to that. In past bareback rides Sierra was incredibly uninterested in going faster than a walk, and things weren't much different this time around so I eventually had to give her a few boots and continued encouragement before she realized she can trot. Much to my surprise, Sierra responded well to half halts and happily complied with all requests even including shoulder fore, leg yeild, etc despite being in a side pull, and honestly she rode really great.
|Just coming out of a little Shoulder Fore we had a bit of a miscommunication and lost the caboose a bit, Ft. Puppy Paws|
I'm still torn on attending the show - I haven't sent my entries yet and I have another week or two to decide, but we are honestly having so much fun just playing around that I'm really thinking I may just nix all thoughts of showing this year and keep on the path of having fun and learning, but time will tell.
|This weeks floral arrangement didn't disappoint|