Giving in to Impulse

On Friday or Saturday, I noticed that a friend on Facebook had ridden with Ernest Dillon and he was teaching at nearby farm, Allforit, and woke Sunday to  cold and pouring rain, since I had no desire to ride in the rain, I headed over to watch a bit of jumping in an indoor.  I had ridden with Ernest a few times over a decade ago when he came to a farm in Nokesville, and I had enjoyed my lessons, so I thought I would go see if I wanted to sign up for a ride next time he is in the area.  I watched a lesson, then mentioned to Tiffany (owner of Allforit) that I’d almost asked if there were rides available, but it was the last day, and she thought a moment, and said “There is a 3 o’clock available, is that too late?”  I thought about it for a NY minute and said, “yes, 3 works perfectly”, and was quite glad that I’d only done one round at Beginner Novice the day before, with about 7 warm up fences, so Legacy had under 20 jumping efforts Saturday.  I didn’t feel that I would be over-taxing him to go to a jumping lesson.

But, I realized I had to run my errands and get home, hook up my trailer, tack up, load up, and return for my ride, so I did not hang about to watch.

First “hurrah” of the day, Legacy unloaded and was so relaxed.  A bit of looking around, but he wasn’t even bothered by a new farm.  This is huge!  He’s never been crazy, but he always worried a bit, then yesterday at Morningside, it seemed to click.  He understood what we were there to do both days!

The rain was nice enough to slow to a drizzle while I walked over and got on, then went into the indoor as the prior lesson was having the wrap up chat.  Legacy did need to admire himself in the mirrors briefly.  But he was relaxed, walking around on a loose rein, then we trotted a bit, cantered a bit, both under-powered, but relaxed.

Ernest came in and watched for about 2 minutes and fixed that under-powered trot, and had me get him stretching and pushing into the contact. After we had a good quality canter, we moved to jumping.  And thanks to my friend Jennifer, who was there watching, I have excellent video clips!

This brought the second “hurrah”, Ernest had me start over a vertical.  Not poles, not a crossrail, a vertical.  I briefly considered if that made me nervous, and decided it did not.  But, our ride to it was lackluster, Legs wasn’t in front of my leg.






Then, he had me get Legacy going, in front of my leg, and we came again a couple of times.

Then it was on to the oxer on the diagonal, then the flowers, again, these were bigger earlier.

And then a bigger course where Legacy rapped a rail HARD, and alarmingly cantered on 3 legs while I was trying to listen to instructions and pull up.  He might be a candidate for boots…he’s had this dramatic reaction once before when he rapped a jump.



But he walked it off in a couple of minutes, was sound, and so we finished on this.





I am so pleased that I impulsively asked, then went to this lesson.  I had a great time and it was a great learning experience.  First off, I felt like I was flying around, nearly out of control…yeah, I realize not so much…upon watching videos.  It was good to have reinforcement of all Martin’s lessons, and it was really good to go and find out that my jumping mojo is back!

I also love that Ernest really liked my horse, thinks he’s perfect for me, size and temperament and he scolded me (mildly and with good humor) for even considering that Legacy might not want to be a jumper.

And, what a unicorn he is!  He went to Beverly and did three courses at 2’3″ three weeks ago, we had a jumping lesson last week, where we did a single line, with an oxer that kept getting bigger, then one course at 2’7″ yesterday, then today, he was bold and confident at nearly 3′!!!!

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Channeling my inner kid

Today I took Legacy over to Morningside Training Farm to do a practice jumping round or two.

Legacy chilled out really quickly today.  As soon as I was on and walked up to the rings, he was relaxing and focused.  A short walk, trot and canter in the tiny dressage warmup area and Martin asked if I was ready to jump.

It was really wet, lots of “water complexes”.  The warmup is on the track and it was solidly a small pond a few strides out from the warmup jumps.

My initial thought was “blech, this is going to be messy”, but then when Martin told us to make sure we trotted and cantered through the water, I did a mental reset.  I told Legacy, “we need to channel our inner 4 year old and play in the puddles”.  He was down with this game!   We cantered up and down the track through all the ponds.  And it turns out he doesn’t fling up anywhere near the amount of sand/water that  Bali or Neuf would.

He was so good I only did one round. We did the Beginner Novice height.  2’7″.

He’s amazing, this was his second time out doing a course in a show environment!


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Bali – Gary Rockwell Dressage Clinic

Gary Rockwell comes to Middleburg, VA a couple of times a year to teach clinics.  My friend Joanna Gray Randle organizes these clinics and Liberty Farm is gracious enough to host them.


Photo by Joanna Randle

Gary is a perfectionist with an Olympic judge’s eye.  Bali & I have no delusions of grandeur that we’ll ever be in that particular sandbox, but I enjoy the journey of learning the harder parts of dressage, even though, and partly because, I am always challenged.

Bali is still harder to bend left, but I’m always struggling between enough straightening and over-correcting to the right.

We did leg yields, half passes, worked on improving these movements from the first step, correct bend, angle, forward, and ending them well, straighten properly, don’t lose the haunches, etc., but the biggest takeaway is that I still work too hard, I let Bali suck me into giving too big of an aid.

I have to really up my game when it comes to requiring an instant response to my leg.  It takes me entirely too long to get a canter depart from a walk break.  It should be instantly, not 10 steps later.

It was a good clinic.  It always comes back to good basics.

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The Loading Game

The game board is set up…


The contestants

Long Legacy, 7 year old OTTB


Long Legacy

Sailor, 3 year old, German Sportpony/QH cross



Game equipment


Rope halter, dressage whip, & gloves

The host

Yours truly.


Apple wafers.

Game Rules

  1. No running over the host.
  2. No pulling back
  3. Walking on the trailer gets an apple wafer.
  4. Walking through the trailer gets an apple wafer.
  5. Pulling back earns the rope halter.
  6. Running over the host earns the rope halter.
  7. No hitting the contestants, tapping is allowed.

The results…

Legacy wins!!!!


Sailor Wins!!!!


Both boys loaded several times, walking through the trailer both ways.  Legacy self loaded 4 or 5 times.  I did not ask that of Sailor today.  We took a trip around the block, Sailor unloaded and stood tied to the trailer while Legacy unloaded and reloaded a few times. Then, both loaded again, and then we were done.

It was about a 30 or 40 minute game.  Legacy had a bonus round, the trailer was open and on the way to his pasture gate, so he walked through once more.


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Legacy Wins a Blue Ribbon

Legacy had a show experience at Morningside a few weeks ago, but he did not go in the ring.  I still had not jumped a full course with him, and a local farm that holds schooling shows was holding one today.  I had pre-entered and paid for a show that had been cancelled for bad weather this past winter, so I had 3 rounds pre-paid.

The good:

I wasn’t nervous.

Legacy settled in while in the warm up ring much faster than he had at Morningside.

He was brave as can be to the  new fences.  In our warm-up round, I was walking up to the fences that had been causing other riders problems and in walking up to show him the fence, instead of touching it, he was offering to jump them from the walk!

He had all clear rounds!

He won  first place in our second round and it did not look like we were out of control.  One almost missed turn…due to rider error.  Second tight turn was him being heavy in my hands and trying to take over.

The needs improvement:

He gets heavy in my hands.

I needed help to load him returning (that’s a first!).  I should have seen this coming.  He’s been a champ, but had been testing me with a pause.  That pause was getting longer, and instead of addressing it, I left it.  He did something similar with being grinchy about brushing.  I mostly ignore grumpiness, many OTTBs are thin skinned.  He’s done the ulcer treatment, does not act sore, so this is just a habit.  I ignored until he reached at me and caught my pinky finger in his teeth….that was not ignorable.  We had a short discussion on the wisdom of that decision, and he has been good as gold and nary a pinned ear since.   Or I suppose the refusal to load could have been a statement about the facility and the footing there, it is lovely!

Extra fun?  I got to meet Clare Mansmann who is another local who participates in the #RetiredRacehorseProject . She introduced me to one other, but I have already forgotten her name (sorry, not good with names).

Shockingly to all who might know me, my trailer is currently parked, all ramps open, awaiting a morning of #TheLoadingGame.



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Long Legacy jumps a Long Line of Logs

Our fun in Southern Pines continued! Carie and I went with Allie over to the Carolina International Event, at the Carolina Horse Park.  Where even more friends were found, and some of those were competing friends who had a couple of VIP wrist bands to share.

We watched a few SJ rounds, then went out to watch some XC.

Which was most fun!  While hanging out in the VIP tent at “the Aquarium” water complex, which was beautifully decorated with hand painted fish & a sea monster, a ship and an old beach bar, I heard a voice ask “Is that Allie I hear?” and I look up and say “Yes it is…CHERYL!!!!” who designed my farm logo for me.   I lost count of how many people I ran into that I haven’t seen in ages. After much merriment we toured the vendor village, sitting in saddles, looking at all the wares, collecting a few cards for possible later purchases, and headed back to have another ride!

This time we headed out for a couple of hours.  Legacy continues to be awesome.  We had a fun and fast canter, Carie let Betty pull into the lead, and Betty won!!!!  I only had to use a pulley rein a little bit to bring him back, then we continued to the next line of logs.

These were a little bit bigger, but mostly 2’3″ and under.  Carie & Allie both took videos.  In the first one, Legs & I are  far, far away in the beginning.  It was so much fun.  This was the third time through.

Allie’s clip.

This morning we had another ride, another good canter, no jumping as he’d had two days in a row and had been fantastic, Pennmarydel had lost a shoe near the end of our ride, so Allie stayed back, then upon our return from our ride we loaded up Will, Carie’s new horse, the reason for our grand adventure of a weekend and came home.  I had an extra stop to drop Carie & Will off at her barn, but it was barely even a detour!

What a fun weekend it was…it is always ridiculously fun to ride around the foundation!

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This dude is amazing!

Legacy, of course!  We finally got a #FieldTripFriday in, as the #RRP folk like to call it!

A friend, Carie, is getting a horse from another friend, Allie, this weekend in Southern Pines, NC.  Allie suggested to Carie that she see if I wanted to come down for the weekend.  A big 3 day, the Carolina International is running, the  Walthour-Moss Foundation is there for amazing trail riding.  I haven’t made a trip south to SoPines in over 2 years.  It wasn’t hard to sell me on taking a road trip with Legacy, and come back with Carie’s new horse and drop her off at her barn in Warrenton, VA.

I had to swap out a trailer tire this morning, a story for another day, but the rain had left me waiting to ask my dear, long-suffering husband to change it until it did stop raining.  So, I left an hour later than planned, a huge shocker for anyone who knows me.  NOT!

I picked up Carie in Warrenton and we made excellent time to Southern Pines. We went straight to Allie’s, unloaded Legacy…and he was a bit concerned about Gobbles & friends…Allie’s turkeys.  Allie had a nice paddock set up for him and I let him stretch his legs a bit while I got the trailer cleaned, we changed, tacked up, then headed out for a mosey.  Allie has a horse who is rehabbing an injury, so it was going to be a walk.  Carie was on Betty’s Bambino, one of Allie’s neat, OTTBs, and I had Legs.

Legs was still concerned over these obnoxious, over-dressed fowl.  What exactly ARE these creatures?  And who on earth chooses their outfits???  He is a cool cucumber though, and as soon as I was on, we marched down the driveway, with a purpose.  This boy has an amazing walk.  Unfortunately, the boots Allie had bought for the rehabbing horse irritated him, so she ended up turning around, and so we set off down Fire road #1.

Legs marched on…we hit a spot and decided that we’d trot a section, since the rehabbing horse left, then we cantered up a hill.  And we found the first, tiny line of longs.

I couldn’t help myself….I had to go over and show them to Legs.  We walked over the first one, the second, he hopped over, then I trotted…then we got to the “big” log, he jumped, then we cantered a few, the sun was in our eyes, so he trotted the last 4.

We went a ways further, then turned around and I did the whole line on the way back, trotting and cantering, and wow was that fun!

Deer, new territory, log jumps, sand trails, roads, muddy patches, 7 hour haul, turkeys, and pleasant as can be!


Bonus, we got to have dinner with other old friends! Tomorrow, it is an early day for another trail ride, then off to spectate at the horse trials, eat, drink, be merry, and ride some more if we feel like it!

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