Thursday, September 8, 2016

Labor Day Fun, Part 2: Horse Swap and Trail Riding

The recognized show over Labor Day weekend was a Sat/Sun show, but I opted to do Sunday only. Since Monday was a holiday, and I was driving by myself, I ask Austen about staying over an additional day and going for a trail ride or something Monday before I went home. She thought it sounded fun, so that's what we did!

First, Austen's barn is soooooo fancy. New and visiting horses stay in quarantine stabling.

The nicest quarantine stabling I've ever seen!

I figured I'd have to clean Penn's stall and bring hay, water buckets etc since I was a visitor. Nope. They gave him hay, filled his buckets, gave him his breakfast (as long as I left out a baggie of grain), and cleaned his stall a bunch of times. A++ for service!

Penn loved the window, just like home!

Austen and I wanted to do a horse swap before our trail ride, so I got tacked up and headed to the indoor ring... it was so pretty outside, but umm, that indoor. Drool. I just wanted to ride in it even though they have a pretty outdoor too!

He's all ready to scare the resident dressage queens!
Ermygawd, can we talk about how GORGEOUS this indoor is?
Plus fluffy footing that I'm pretty sure Penn loved.
Plus retractable windows really let the indoor cool down... no sun and a breeze.

I beat Austen to the ring, so I hopped on Penn and rode him around, trying to gauge how he'd react to a third day of work (since he'll be seeing that at champs). He was a bit distracted and a little tense, but settled into work much better than he did for our second test the day before. We did very basic work, just a run through of things he knows and he eventually relaxed. His happy place is definitely in canter now, he relaxed right into it. So much so that I got thinking about the jump he had in his canter on Saturday when we were schooling... hmm... so I decided to go for it and see what happened. I brought him across the diagonal, right to left, checked my seat and leg, and sat up like in my last lesson... straightened a little and just asked for the new left lead... and bam, he hopped right over! Late behind, but he did it!

2.3 seconds after doing his very first flying change!

OMG I was so excited! It was no big deal and Penn just hopped over. The late behind already has me nervous, but he gave me such an excellent and quiet first attempt that I'm happy! It's just hard not to play with it before championships... with my luck, he'll go, "Oh you want changes now? OK!!!!!!" and he'll flip flop in our shallow loops, and goodbye 8's that are double coefficients. He's already inclined to because that's where he first offered the jump for the change. I don't think I've messed it up though, he's very responsive to leg and seat and I don't think he'll plow through to change as long as I make it very very clear what I want. But we're definitely working on those this winter!

Pic stolen from Austen

Austen arrived and we did a horse swap. OMG I love Guinness. I wish I had access to him for a week or more so I could keep playing with all the buttons and work on myself as I got used to him. Austen has done such a good job with him, and he has a level of suppleness that Mikey never had. I first had to work on straightness and not pulling his nose around to the inside. He was happy to go wherever I put him, as long as I gave him time to limber up. He immediately talked me into shortening my legs and curling my body- he takes more leg than Penn. I'm sure he looked much better than I did! He's also a half passing machine. My first instinct is to shove the haunches (wrong) so when I'd ask for it, he'd happily lead with the haunches, just like I asked. I'd ask for for the shoulders to move over and lead in more of a shoulder-in feel and he was like, "Sure thing!" The ability to move his shoulders around, within the half pass, was AWESOME. We did one canter half pass (it didn't have much over or bend cause I'm bad at them, no fault on Pig!), and I could feel him saying at the end, "Would you like a flying change?" I opted for no, since I know he can be expressive and I don't want to mess them up! He is so polite, I loved riding him!

I can't say I saw much of Austen riding Penn, cause I was like, "OMG GUINNESS LOOK WHAT I CAN MAKE YOU DO!!!" but Austen tried a change and he gave her one too!

Me trying to get Guinness to bend his head around so I can get a pic of his face.
He just says "Whhhhyyyyyy"

Two other girls showed up at the indoor for our trail ride, so we swapped back and off we went! Austen's huskies are awesome trail dogs. They make me wish I had a dog to take trail riding. I would probably go a lot more often.

This is a really really really pretty place!

Penn learned about creek crossings on this ride... we did 6 of them? I donno, but he wasn't about to get his feet wet, lol. He stopped and really looked at the first one. I gave him his head and kept pushing forward and I grabbed the grab strap on the front of my saddle. First time I've used it to help me stay on! He jumped the creek since it wasn't wide, and I praised him for going anyway. The next crossing was wider, and he jumped the whole thing again... but it had a nice beach in on the other side so I made him walk in. He then proceeded to lower his shoulders and play with the water with his face, so I kicked him up again and was like, "No rolling!!!" There was one wide crossing where he couldn't jump across (he tried), and was very surprised when he landed in the water so he tried to run out... I'm that horrible horse and rider on the trail that has no steering or brakes or anything near water. I laughed though, he made a big splash jumping in like that.

Following Guinness a bit too close.
I think I need to get him an every day bonnet that is not bright orange.

He almost dumped me on the very last one- the creek kind of split and it was two narrow strips of water with a tiny strip of ground in between (I imagine it isn't there if the water is up at all). I thought he would try to jump the whole thing, or jump and run... Nope, he jumped and bounced it. Oops, I wasn't expecting that so the second leap caught me off guard. He stayed straight though and I held on to mane until he stopped.

The trails were so beautiful and so well maintained!

The trails are maintained by EPIC, and they're Equine Only trails- no ATVs, motorcycles, bikes, walkers, etc. They are spectacular and I wish we had them at home! I absolutely need to come back and visit again.

We had some cheese and crackers and bubbly after the horses were put away while we watched people ride in the indoor (Penn probably needed a rest anyway after our long trail ride, he was dragging by the end!).

Had to bring our baby self to the very fancy wash stall.

Sadly the weekend had to come to an end and Penn and I had to go home :-( I had an awesome time meeting Emma, visiting Austen, and spending the weekend!

All tired coming home.


  1. What a fun day! I am seriously drooling over her barn too. That indoor <3 <3 <3

  2. i legitimately considered moving just so i could board at Austen's barn haha - that indoor is just soooooooo nice! glad you had such a fun time there, esp out on the trails! goofy Penn and the water lol

  3. Sounds like so much fun! Love that indoor <3