Sunday, March 19, 2023

Preparing for Kiki

 I really, really didn't think I was going to be looking at things like this but . . . I've been watching the Westfalen NA posts very closely.  Waiting for the 2022 inspection results.

Your top scoring Welsh foal for the 2022 Westfalen NA inspection tour and one of the high point foals for the futurity:

August 2022, 4 months old

Quillane Marqui is making people turn their heads already.  Now that everything is settled and done, I'm finding out that Trainer Z was holding her breath, waiting to see if I'd pick Kiki or the other little filly.  I went with the buckskin that I'd been stalking for months and it seems I picked the right one.  Everyone is excited.  Trainer, breeder, stallion owner, and me, it really does take a village.  I'm trying to be a good equine citizen and kick up some fuss for her sire.  He had the number one KDR filly in the 2019 inspection (pre-pandemic) and now he's got a number one Welsh filly.  He does stamp his foals with that nice shoulder.  She got the dam's lovely topline, though.

We're just a couple weeks away from bringing Kiki home.  It seems impossible that she's almost a yearling already.  We're coordinating spring shots, feeding schedules, and halter sizes.  My trailer will be reconfigured to be a giant box stall and I'm borrowing an ancient Shetland pony from Trainer Z to give Kiki some company for her first trailer ride.  I'm also putting Trainer Z in the truck because I don't want to get into trouble moving my new filly and be on my own.  I'm excited and terrified to start this new adventure and would not be attempting it if I didn't have such an experienced trainer to play guide.  She's coaching me through everything from expectation setting to setting up my trailer.

Kiki is going to be a pistol.  Her breeder has started calling her Cheeky Kiki.  I've received clips of her full on body slamming the colts in their field and untying baling twine as fast as people can tie it.  She's sensitive, quick, and very smart.  Rumor has it that she's the queen of the foal group and only has to flick an ear for them to get out of her way, including the big colt.  Competition mare mind is how they're describing her.

December 2022, 8 months old

Seriously, that's how she trots around while playing with her friends in a muddy field in December.  It's a screen grab from a clip of the three foals being goofballs.  It's just how she do, she moves like the ground is too hot to touch.  The other foals are cantering.  I don't know if she'll make the pony cut off, she may end up 14.3 like her sire.  Not that it really matters to me, it's still a heck of a lot closer to the ground then Theo, but it would be nice if she could be an FEI pony for some very lucky teen.  I'd do it myself but the FEI pony test is for junior riders.

March 2023 at 10 months old

Her first outing will be in July at a USDF breed show.  I think the whole class of 2022 will be there so I'll be excited for the pictures.  I don't think any of her half sibs will be there so no 'Get of' type classes for her.  They're trying to repeat the breeding so maybe, in the future, she'll have some sibs and we can do a group for her dam and sire.  I'll have to ask her breeder if she wants to do a 'bred by' group since she'll have enough representatives of her work in attendance.  I will happily tow Kiki through to support her.    

For now, I count the days before Project Kiki begins.  AHHHHH.

Monday, March 6, 2023


 As we're coming up on a year of me being back in the saddle, it appears this is going to stick.  I had an evaluation with the chiro today and aside from my SI needing a bit of extra attention (learning to sit a proper collected canter on the proper seatbone is hard), she thinks I'm doing better now then I was a year ago.  Taking that time off and focusing on getting my body repaired appears to have been the right move.  Will I ever go back to riding 5 - 6 times a week?  Probably not, but I can plan on my part-time riding continuing indefinitely.  Chiro is feeling good about us holding off my inevitable surgery for a good long while yet.

I still feel like every lesson is a great big present all wrapped up in a bow.  The week Theo came out with a crick in his neck and we spent the whole ride doing long, low body work to help him work it out?  Wonderful.  My last lesson where I worked on Theo letting go of his lower back so he could do a cleaner, more lofty canter?  Perfect.  The week I rode half passe to a flying change that damn near jumped me out of the saddle?  Fantastic.  I actually found my outside rein for the first time last week.  That seems crazy for someone that's been riding as long as me but I picked him up on my outside rein and all of a sudden things started to make sense.  As Trainer Z put it, he's finally ready to be ridden straight and it's really freaking cool to ride him like this.

One day I will be done posting about how damn cool it is to ride this horse right now but today is not that day.

The show schedule is up and I'm trying to pick dates for everything.  I'm debating doing a show at Second just to get my show legs back before going for Third.  Seems like a good idea.  Trainer Z is aiming for the regional championships with her Second level freestyle and possibly Second level if the schedule works out.  I'm just aiming to enjoy my showing.  I'm hoping this is a chance for me to relearn showing in a more positive, less freaked the fuck out way.  Due to my new rules, I can't show by myself anymore so I think that will help me start to associate showing with better experiences.  I'm going to groom for the early shows in the season to help out and get back into the swing of things.  I've only done one away show with Trainer Z, still need to learn her systems.

The expression of an AA rider trying to brain her way through a half passe in the dead of winter in NH, Theo looks perfect

I'm kind of hoping I don't lose my feeling of extreme gratefulness any time soon.  It really does change your perspective to think that you'll never get to ride again.  Theo gave me a bit of hell in our last lesson as I asked him to do something hard and it was fine.  He wasn't naughty, just reacting to the increased pressure as I get comfortable asking him for more.  So far my only real limitation is that I can't let him get heavy.  My upper body can't tolerate it.  Good thing we graduated to his double and we have that skinny NS snaffle bit to keep him from deciding I should do half the work on snaffle days.  And by that I mean he thinks I should carry half his weight.  He's a big boy, that's a lot of weight.

With my chiro's blessing, I'm looking into scheduling a second ride each week.  I need to get better if I want to show Third, a school master can only get you so far.  We've started to uncover some of the stuff holding me back, the old baggage and issues that come with me skipping from touching Second to riding a tuned up Third level horse.  I sometimes ride past-Theo.  In some way, I haven't let past-Theo go because I wasn't there when it became past-Theo.  The consistent training and educated rides have resulted in him really embracing his life as a dressage show horse.  He comes into the arena expecting to work and eager to do it.  Why?  Hell if I know, that'll have to be a different post, but Theo happily marches into the ring with his tail swinging when it's time to work.  

And yawning like crazy during his post-workout body work sessions

It's fun to chase the Bronze this way.  I'm kind of in a rush but kind of not.  He's 19 but our barn mate is doing PSG with her 23 year old mare.  Theo is actually one of the youngest of the schoolmasters which reminds me that we still have a bit of time.  I may not attempt Third until the fall.  If I get to show at all, it will feel like a damn victory.  But I have to buy a new show coat.  I might have donated all my show clothes, thinking I would never need them again.


Sunday, January 15, 2023

2023 Adventures

 For someone that was seriously thinking their riding career was over, I've got a pretty crowded summer coming up.  Kiki is moving up to Trainer Z's place in the first week of April so that's going to be exciting!  Trainer Z has a 2022 foal that one of her clients bought so Kiki is going to share a field with a lovely, very fancy liver chestnut filly called Vivian that is just a couple days older than her.  Viv is currently living with the broodmares but they're both due in April and she'll need a new roomie.  The timing is perfect.  The two girls can grow up together all feral and hairy in a pasture with Trainer Z's supervision as I learn how to work with a yearling.

Kiki's future roommate, La Vie En Rose WPF (Delaney PF-Donarweiss GGF x Landsong-Lancaster-Langraf I)

From what I've learned so far, they primarily run around hairy and dirty and focus on growing as yearlings.  She'll be coming up to the barn to practice standing, leading, and grooming.  She's also going to be going to some breed shows so she has to learn how all of that works.  Sure, her breeder was teaching her to trot on a lead at three months but it seems like a skill we should keep working on.  I'm planning to enter Amateur Handler and hire a pro for the classes that actually count.  I don't want to make her look bad when the breeder and stallion's owner are so excited.

From Kiki's Christmas photos.  She's on the left, the buckskin on the right is Ozzy (same breeder but unrelated, the class of 2022 was gorgeous)

Alongside Kiki's adventures to breed shows, there's the true star that has his own show schedule.

Someone tried to pick my pocket during his Christmas photo shoot

Theo will be debuting his Second level freestyle with Trainer Z at the first big show of the season in June.  Once she's got her freestyle scores, all attention shifts to making sure he's ready to do flying changes and trying to get those two scores I need to finish my Bronze.  Today we practiced our canter half passe to flying change and the shoulder in to haunches out that you see in Third 2.  We're pretty sure Third 2 is a better test for Theo so we might as well start there.  A flying change going into the corner can keep the drama to a minimum and he is so strong in the transition from shoulder in to haunches out.  The half passe we're getting figured out, the flying change?  Yeah, it's time for me to wake up big boy Theo.  It's been awhile but he popped a buck today and it was fine.  Time to turn that dial up and unleash all the power he's developed with Trainer Z. 

Dusting off the big boy bridle, Theo is so thrilled

Fall will probably wind up with Theo at the regional championships with Trainer Z, showing off their freestyle.  I will hopefully also be going to the regional breed show championships with Kiki but it's going to be harder to get her qualified.  Theo just needs two freestyles over 65% to qualify.  Given his history in freestyle, his professional choreography, and the fact he's being ridden by a pro, he's got a very good chance of doing that.

I'll be just the owner at a lot of outings but I'm still excited.  My dissertation starts this summer with my proposal being submitted so I know I won't have the time to be a full fledged horse mom.  I'm still grateful for every ride after thinking I was completely done.  I'll still be happy even if I'm just part of the cheering section and holding the drool rag to clean up Theo's bridle before he heads in.