Tag Archives: horses

Jumping with Joy

I had three real-horse goals this summer:  #1, to make some more jumps for the barn and get the poles painted, #2, to attend a few shows, and #3, to school on a nearby cross-country course. I accomplished all three to some degree, which is delightfully satisfying.

Robyn and I are entering our second jumping show at the end of the month. It’s a derby with dressage, cross country, and jumping, so we wanted to get in at least one more practice day over cross country. We happened to have two young helpers along with us who took some pictures, so of course I have to share. Photo quality was inconsistent but after editing out the fingers there are some winners, especially of Robyn and Emily.

XC schooling-1 XC schooling-11 XC schooling-13 XC schooling-20 XC schooling-19

XC schooling-34

This photo is blurry but too cute not to include. It’s very Cochise.

XC schooling-15

The best picture of the day. Robyn and Emmy make a great pair.

Jumping cross country is maybe the most fun thing ever. I’m excited for our little show coming up… with any luck, we won’t have to be excused from the course like usual…

Inavale Farms Horse Trials 2013: the rest

I did continue to take pictures during the rest of the horse trials, although not as many as during the Beginner Novice cross country. But I did get some more good ones so I thought I’d share those as well.

After the Beginner Novice level was the Novice level. Robyn came to watch with me which was extra fun. We particularly liked this horse:

IFHT2013-N-rough draft

This pair finished 2nd in their division

You can’t tell as much from that picture, but he was a big dude- he looked half draft. He was listed in the program as “WB” and named Half Draft, and I like to think that supports our hypothesis. As with the Beginner Novice, there was a pretty decent variety of breeds in the Novice level.

IFHT2013-N-massive qh

This massive mare was listed as a Quarter Horse, but we couldn’t believe it. She was enormous and awesome. I’m not a big QH fan but one that looks half-draft? I’m listening!

There was also a few gorgeous Connemaras (and Connemara crosses), two Morgans, two Appys, and a horse whose breed was listed only as X (who we particularly rooted for).

A lot of the obstacles in the Novice course still looked pretty easy, as fits the level. Many horses refused at this step-down, however- it’s not particularly high but because of the shape of the hill, they don’t see it til they’re right over it.

This guy was unfazed by the obstacle.

This guy was unfazed by the obstacle.

The one part of the course that I was most impressed and surprised with (impressed that Novice folks could do it, surprised that they were asked to) was a step up with a tough turn to a large log oxer in the tree line. A number of riders opted to circle after the step up in order to get a straighter shot at the second jump, even with the lost time. I know I would have!

This pair opted not to circle and started the turn immediately after the bank- and at speed too!

This pair opted not to circle and started the turn immediately after the bank- and at speed too!

Only a few strides after the bank was this jump:

Not a great picture, but with the tree-line location and the proximity of the bank right before, I didn't have a better angle.

Not a great picture, but with the tree-line location and the proximity of the bank right before, I didn’t have a better angle.

At least one pair got the striding wrong and lost point here- we saw one woman land half off, cling to her horses barrel for a few minutes (while the mare stood patiently, thank goodness) and then give up and plop to the ground, disqualified.

The next day I was back at Inavale again to see the Intermediate and Prelim cross country, and catch a bit of the Beginning Novice stadium jumping. Unfortunately, most of my pictures from the Intermediate level didn’t come out. But I did snap this one the day before of the Intermediate water obstacle.

IFHT2013-Inter water jump

That’s a bounce between the logs and then about a four foot drop into the water.

Amazingly, that jump was one of the least difficult ones for the Intermediate riders- I didn’t see anyone have a problem with it in the whole division. The Prelim level fences were also extremely difficult. I couldn’t believe this line:


But damn, they made it look easy!

Later in the afternoon I went over to the show jumping arena to see part of the Beginner Novice. Inavale has some of the most amazing, colorful jumps:



The thing that proved the most difficult for these jumpers wasn’t an intentional obstacle- it was the umbrellas of two spectators sitting by the first jump.

This gelding was a total packer in the XC phase, but he could not get past the deadly umbrellas and was eliminated.

This gelding was a total packer in the XC phase, but he could not get past the deadly umbrellas and was eliminated.

I had made a note the day before to get a hold of a few umbrellas to jump Cochise near. This only made me more resolved to get some and desensitize him. I’m planning to ride tomorrow, and if I’m really lucky, I’ll get out to the Inavale XC course too.

Here are some more pictures from the cross country phase. Again, if you want to use these for reference or documentation you’re welcome to them.

Inavale Farms Horse Trails 2013: Beginner Novice

I spent this weekend in Corvallis watching the action at the Inavale Farms Horse Trials. My goal is to enter the Beginner Novice division next year, so I was particularly keen to watch that division.

I’m so used to watching high level eventing online, it was satisfying and exciting to watch people jump things that I knew I can jump- and a few that I have jumped before!


Cochise and I have jumped this barn! In fact, when we did it, it was on an upslope instead of this nice even ground.

It was interesting to see what obstacles caused the most problems, and think about how I–or Cochise–might have handled the same thing. A number of the horses balked a bit at the water, but they all eventually made it in.


Many of the entries, including this eventual division winner, splashed happily through the water at a nice trot.

Many of the horses took issue with what looked like a simple hazelnut table. I’m itching to get out to the course and try it. This horse took issue with the red barn.

refusal 01

But his rider got him over it on the second try.

refusal 02

Unfortunately he had some more refusals further on and was eliminated. As someone with a refusal-prone horse (in fact, in our 3 jumping show outings together we have never not been dismissed) I felt a particular pang of sympathy of those folks who didn’t get to finish the course.

Cochise and I definitely need to work on ditches and Trakehners. The Inavale Farms Trials has five main divisions from Beginner Novice to Intermediate, and everyone got a level-appropriate Trakehner fence.

trakehner line

A rider takes the Beginner Novice Trakehner. Far right is the Prelim fence and in the middle is the massive Intermediate fence.

I’m confident that Cochise and I could sail easily over this nice brush jump though. It was the last jump of the course and I was able to sit nice and close to it to watch.

the hustler

This pair took 2nd in the Beginner Novice Senior division.

As we moved further up the levels the breed listings got more and more uniform (TB, TB, TB, Warmblood, TB…) but in Beginner Novice there’s a bit more variety- as well as a healthy number of TBs and Sport Horses. One of the crowd favorites was this gorgeous Gypsy Vanner. I saw him earlier in the year doing a 3′ jumper course with ease.

mystic prince

This pair finished 7th in their division, feathers flying.

The Beginner Novice division also included several Quarter Horses, a Kiger Mustang, a few part Arabs, and a Morgan/Welsh cross. One of my personal favorites was this massive Percheron/Thoroughbred cross, Duke. I have also wanted a draft cross jumper so he definitely caught and held my attention. He finished 8th in his division.


Duke clomping through the water obstacle

I took a ton of pictures trying to document everything. Here are some more of the best ones from the Beginner Novice cross country. If any of these would be useful for you as reference or documentation, feel free to use them.

The Wait is Over!

Alice was due to foal on June 23 (next Sunday) and was showing none of the usual signs. So Robyn was very surprised to go out to the barn on June 16 and see–from across the field–that Alice looked decidedly thinner. Closer inspection revealed a beautiful, healthy colt.

The first morning

The first morning

Oscar, as he has come to be known, is a palomino like his daddy and has beautiful appaloosa markings like mom. Alice is a great mom- she protects him fiercely from the horses on the other side of the fence but is happy to let people love all over him. Oscar himself isn’t one to be coddled- on his first day he was already bolting around with his concerned mother trotting behind. He’s only gotten more bold and adventurous, and I think Al is getting used to his wandering as well.

I can’t get enough of watching this little guy, and I made a silly video of his first three days.

Oscar loves people already- if you go into the paddock he comes trotting over to check you out, taste your jacket, and shove his nose into your hand. You can tell he’s gonna be a smart, feisty handful, just like mom. Al is the reason that you have to keep tight lids on the grain bins and put clips on the stall latches.

And of course, I’ve got a whole bunch of adorable photos to share too. And surely, many more to come.

Stupendous Summer Continues

On Wednesday I took Cochise out to the nearby cross-country horse to practice. It was only our second time out. Even though it’s still very new and he was really worried about not having a herd-mate, he was wonderful. We rode for over an hour and both had a great time. I don’t have any pictures but it looked something like this:

andrew nicholson rolex 2013-2

When we got home and Cochise was back in the summer pasture with his herd, Robyn suggested that we clip Thistle, who hasn’t shed out her winter woolies. All the other horses have their summer coats on, but poor Thistle was still sweltering under a lot of extra hair. We set out to rescue her from the heat.

Screen Shot 2013-06-08 at 11.32.06 AM

But of course the best thing about clipping a horse is that you can shave designs into their butt. We’ve already done stars, hearts, and initials, so we decided to try something new. Thistle’s nickname is “The Pufferfish” because she puffs up when you saddle her, so we went with a nautical theme.

For optimum precision, we opted to paint the designs first. So I fetched Robyn’s amazing Beauty Box. The Beauty Box is a magical tub containing everything you could ever want to decorate a horse. There’s the usual rubber bands and show sheen but also hoof glitter, clip on flowers, Kool Aid (yes, it works) and paint.

beauty box

I used the white paint to draw the our designs on Thistle’s rump. Then Robyn (the more skilled clipper) did the shaving.

thistle - painted fish

shaving thistle 2

After we finished clipping her (you could almost hear her sigh of relief) we washed off the excess hair and the paint. She grazed in the sun while we brought the other horses in for dinner. And behold, the finished artwork!

thistle - shaved fish 2

thistle - shaved sailboat 2

Teehee! I don’t know any other pony who has a sailboat!

More Jumping Fun

This weekend I drove down to Corvallis to sneak in one more ride on Cochise before I leave for England. It was a blast. We set up a five jump course and attempted to make some fearsome jumps to practice. One of my goals this summer is to paint up our jumps and make a bunch of exciting new ones, but for now we get really creative with what we have.

Robyn was riding her new horse, the beautiful WB/TB mare Emily. She loves to jump and is really fun to ride. She’s a real powerhouse, and at the same time is super sweet and sensitive.

emily trotting

robyn - noodles2

One of the scariest jumps for Cochise was a little oxer with his blanket tossed under it for a different look. Even though he happily wears his blanket all the time, he was pretty sure it was a horse eating monster. We had a couple of fun refusals of the four-legs-stiff put-on-the-brakes kind. Then I let him take a good look and thoroughly investigate the fearsome item.

smelling the blanket jump2

And after that we made it over, although there were a few impressive over-jumps at first (just in case it was still alive and hungry- you’ve got to be careful you know).

cochise - blanket jump2

Meanwhile, the ex-eventer Emily is looking gorgeous, and Robyn is doing a very nice impression of an equitation handbook.

robyn - perfect jump2

We also had a vertical with some fake trees under it, a plain brown vertical, and this skinny jump made out of barrels and cones.

cochise - skinny barrels

We rode for a long time and had a blast. Since Robyn and I take lessons together, we know what we each need to work on and can take turns playing trainer (and taking pictures) while the other one does a course. The horses had fun too- they both really enjoy jumping, it’s clear.

While I was putting things away I let Cochise wander up and down the barn aisle cleaning up the fallen hay and generally being very helpful. He looks super swaybacked and wonky is this picture but I think it’s super cute anyway.

cochise being cute

Got any more of those treats?

Got any more of those treats?

I know I’m really gonna miss riding Cochise while I’m in England, but I have so much fun riding adventures to look forward to this summer! It’s going to be great.

Wheee! Jumping.

I had a lovely time at the show this weekend and will be getting my photos up later this week. Meanwhile, I am dreaming about jumping, jumping, and more jumping. Did you know you can watch all the coverage of the 2004 Olympics cross country on youtube? It’s in eight parts, starting here. I watched it today while prepping my two drafty resin boys.

Last Wednesday Robyn took a video of my jumping a fun little course. The jumps are small, but it had interesting lines and was really fun. Cochise was being a real sweetie (if you ignore that little crow hop- he doesn’t appreciate my dressage whip).

Jumping – 1/22/13 from Leah on Vimeo.

Robyn and I have our jump lesson tomorrow and I’m really excited! It’s hard to believe that only six months ago I wasn’t riding twice a month, let alone every week. I look forward to my ride all week long!