Forrest

Hi, everyone! I’m back!

A lot of you may be questioning the fact that I haven’t posted in a while. And my last post was about me not being on good terms with Indy.

Well, things have sort of progressed in significant ways since I last posted. I haven’t been in contact much with the blog/hobby world because I have been sorting some things out. So here’s how it goes.

After I got out of school a few weeks ago, mama asked me, “what are you looking for in a horse?” Of course, I replied, “Why do you ask?” she says “I don’t know. What you would want in an ideal horse.” So I told her I wanted a partner. A horse that I could feel safe and confident while riding. Nothing fancy, just a friend and a partner. And that’s when she told me that Bethany was offering to buy Indy back from us.IMG_8273

At first I was a bit upset over the thought of losing Indy. She is like my friend and sister at the same time and I always looked forward to seeing her and was proud to own an ex-racehorse. And yet, I was never satisfied. I loved riding her, but I would always get tense and nervous, and even when we had good days, I would always question my ability to ride her effectively, and whether I was really contributing to her training or just being a burden. I would wonder where I would be if we had just bought a safer horse to begin with instead of a green thoroughbred.

 

After much thought, Mama and I settled on the same thing. It would be best for both us and for Indy if we sold her back to Bethany. We both needed a horse we could just get on and not feel nervous, angry or scared. Indy needed a dependable source of training and someone that had the skill to support her and be her leader without breaking down.

Indy now belongs to Bethany. And for her, not much has changed. I still visit her every time I go to the barn. She still has the same stall. We even let her keep her special ladybug blanket and her stall sign. She is going to turn seven on April 18th.

Anyway, this is Forrest.IMG_3476.JPG

Over the past few weeks while going through this process, I have been overcome in a variety of emotions: at first upset and bewildered over the thought of losing Indy, but after finding this guy at a farm in North Carolina, in love!

Forrest is a Quarter horse gelding. He’s a Grade horse, which means he doesn’t have AQHA papers or an established pedigree, but grade horses are known to be hardier (because often the registered ones will be victims of inbreeding.) We found him at a farm called Circle M. They are based out of North Carolina and are partnered with a farm in Oklahoma where they break and train these horses and use them to do ranch work before they are shipped to North Carolina. So, Forrest has worked with Cattle and done all sorts of ranch horse jobs and trail rides. His original name was Money. Forrest was mama’s idea, and I couldn’t love the name more!

He is broke like he is twenty years old. And yet, he is about Indy’s age- only 7!

We drove up to the farm to look at him last Sunday.  We had been browsing sale ads for  awhile, but something kept bringing us back to his ad, and to this particular farm in general. It took us three hours to get there. I wore my new Feather Run Farm team jacket for good luck.IMG_3490.jpg

watching mama do groundwork with him, I noticed he was not taught natural-horsemanship-style groundwork, but he did his best of what mama was asking. His owner told me that he was trained to be ground-tied, and he did it well. I was the first to get on. Watching him move slowly made me question his sharpness and energy under saddle, but I was not disappointed. Forrest moved so well as I was riding him. His jog felt smooth and supple. When I signaled for a hind-end front-end turn, he stepped right over. He had plenty of energy, but at the same time he stayed with me and never thought about running away from my hand. IMG_3489.jpg

When mama rode him, she had the widest grin on her face, and I don’t think she even knew. Forrest was calm and quiet for her as well as me.IMG_3492.JPG

The farm had a short but beautiful trail that wrapped around the property, so I was allowed to get back on Forrest and go around the quick twenty-minute loop. We rode through a couple overhanging branches, by a river where there were lots of noisy cicadas, and up a very steep gravel hill, and Forrest was simply amazing! He is so sure-footed and attentive, yet easy-going.

Here I am after we got back and the owners showed us how quiet he was being given a leg wash and fly spray. Mama had just signed his papers as I was standing there with him.IMG_3491.JPG

Afterwards, I walked him around a bit and snapped a couple pictures.IMG_3472.JPG

It is true that as far as natural horsemanship goes, Forrest has some things to learn. We will need to work on backing as well as groundwork. But what both I and mama felt under saddle and on the ground was enough. He even has a long mane that will be fun to braid, and no whites on his legs, which means he is less prone to rain rot. He was everything we were looking for and then some!

One last goodbye as we start the long 3-hour drive back home. I’ll see you on Sunday, Forrest!IMG_3485

Forrest is coming home on Sunday. We are already getting things ready for him. Mama went to Tractor Supply yesterday and bought a new bowl and a salt lick, and she also put mats in his future stall. I can hardly contain myself, I am counting the seconds!

I am beyond excited to have this new and special boy in my life. Can’t it be Sunday now?

Hours 18 and 19

I’ve had some very productive and fun riding lately. Here are my most recent two hours!

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Hour 18

on Saturday, I figured I would have one last hurrah of Christmas break before I had to go back to school. So, I phoned my friend, Elizabeth, and we had a nice sleepover. She has been one of my best friends ever, and is an amazingly talented rider with Grand Prix aspirations.IMG_3145.jpgElizabeth and her newest horse, Jet, (AKA F-16) at a show this past September.

IMG_8503Elizabeth and I (she’s on the bay), a couple years ago when we were in middle school.

One of the best things about Elizabeth’s house is that she has horses. Three of them, to be exact.

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On Saturday we tacked up the horses and got on for a pleasure ride. Elizabeth was going to ride her new horse, Jet, but he threw a shoe. So she rode her bay Appendix mare, Ice.img_3092

I rode her adorable and very spotty Appaloosa gelding, Jeffrey.IMG_3091.JPG

I used to ride Jeffrey a couple years ago and actually did a few shows with him!

It’s been forever since I have gotten to ride him, and it was a pleasure.IMG_3086.JPG

we rode around in the ring, and in the front pasture looking for Jet’s thrown shoe.. and back up the driveway towards the barn. Jeffrey had not been ridden in a while, so he was a bit energetic.
what a sweet sleepy boy.

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Elizabeth and her mom were so sweet to invite me over, and we had such a good time! It’s when you have loyal friends like her in the horse world that make it all worthwhile.IMG_3088.JPG

Hour 19

Hour 19 was a happy free ride with Indy. Normally I would have been annoyed at all the people that were there, but today everyone was so cheerful and I was too. One friend was riding her brand new horse, another was having a lesson. Mary Hampton, one of my younger friends that lives in our neighborhood, had a lesson too and we took her home afterwards. It was a lively, cheerful place and our ride was no less.img_7992

Today was also a special ride because none other than our very own Clemson Tigers took the national championship just the day before so I went all out orange. As I was riding and the sun was setting I noticed that the sky and trees were turned the perfect shade of orange and purple.

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Indy was her usual self, with her wiggling and flirting with the geldings. Our ride was productive, and we tried a little canter when Bethany took a break from her lesson. She said we didn’t look all that bad, and that’s good enough for me! What fun!

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Thanks for reading everyone! Show season is coming up soon, so i’m going to be practicing as much as I can and getting more hours out to you guys! See you then!

A Bit More About Me

Hello again! Before I start documenting the rides I have gotten over the past few days, I think it would be wise to give you all a little background on where I have been up to this point. So here we go!

I started riding about five years ago, but really I have been into horses my whole life. My first horse was a hobby horse named Cocoa.

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my grandmother used to have miniature horses that I loved so much as a tiny tot. Their names were Marble, Feather and Sugar.100_2035

In fact, I loved the minis so much that I had them come to my front yard for my fourth birthday party. That’s when I had my first fall: Breaking my arm because the girth wasn’t fastened when I got on (And that kids is why you always fasten your girth). We’ll come back to that later.

A few good years later, I went for my first real ride with my mom’s old friend and a humble bay mare named Annie.annie5yearanniversary.JPG

I remember my grandmother cheering when I got into the saddle. It was going through my mind that when I sat in the saddle, that I was an official equestrian and I had just transitioned from wannabe to rider.

After that day I didn’t get to ride for a long, long while, but I was convinced that I was now a part of the horse world. I was horse-obsessed more than ever.

I actually started taking lessons when I was in sixth grade at Feather Run Farm. The first horse I ever rode there was Thasia. Mama took me there because she decided to take a drive one day and she drove past my future home away from home. She had heard about it from a saddle fitter who lived down the street from our house in the suburbs.IMG_6491.jpg

I believe this photo is from my first lesson. My trainer to this day, Bethany, is holding on to Thasia for me. The funny thing is that the saddle i’m in is the saddle I actually use to teach my six year old brother…

I progressed and rode at Feather Run Farm for about a year. I even got my brother into it. IMG_6591.JPGTia, a Pintabian, and my brother, Robert (there are two bros). Becky is helping him pick Tia’s foot. I made so many memories when I was there that first year. Only one thing was wrong: I lacked confidence and never cantered once when I was there.

After a full year, Feather Run Farm moved. I was devastated.

Luckily, my friend Elizabeth hooked me right up with her instructor, Erika. I started by riding a little Welsh mountain pony called Maggie. IMG_8503.JPGElizabeth is on her bay mare, Ice, in this picture.

At this point I had little to no confidence, even though no fall had happened to me since that fourth birthday party. I guess I was just naturally that way. I hated being scared and it only got worse.

I had always wanted to compete in a horse show my entire life. I was riding a bay Dutch Warmblood named Callie at the time, and I was very excited to try a walk/trot flat class. But I was also dreadfully nervous. On my first show day, I was so nervous I wanted to cry. I got squeezed in between a pony, a jump and the rail, a truck drove down the road, Callie started cantering, and I fell off. At my first horse show. IMG_9365.JPG(You can tell by my face.) This is before it happened.

Of course, that only made things worse. I dreaded every lesson, and when I trotted the only thing that would go through my brain was “Don’t fall off, Don’t fall off.” Even trotting was a scary, scary thing for me. I even almost cried when I rode Maggie down a hill at a walk. I was a hot mess.

And yet, I stayed with it. That’s what amazes me. I could have quit at any time, but in my mind that was not an option. I made it through a couple more shows with Callie, a schooling show and a show at Clemson. I had just bought a new show coat and was very proud of it. But I was so nervous during one of my trot-pole rounds, I quit it. I was always overcome in a fit of jealousy for my fellow students who won literally everything.IMG_0323.JPGeverything’s cool here, except for my face. I can tell the judges are super thrilled.

After Callie, there was a disagreement between my instructor and the owner of the barn, so she agreed to move to Elizabeth’s house, where I began riding her appaloosa, Jeffrey. I was still a nervous wreck, except I was cantering and jumping. Of course, I didn’t want to do that, and I still dreaded lessons, but I did it anyway.IMG_1276.jpg

The shows that I did with Jeffrey were good. In fact, I ended up raking in the ribbons. I guess the schooling show judges liked his cute spotty booty.img_1490The only problem was that even after a couple years of riding, my nerves limited me to the walk-trot class, competing and often losing to kids that were more than five years younger than me. I always let my age get to me. I hated that I was competing in a class with five year olds but didn’t have enough courage to move up. I was still a nervous wreck in general.IMG_2775.JPGhe’s so adowwable though.

The worst lesson of my entire life took place in Elizabeth’s small arena, doing a crossrail at a canter that was situated on the short side. I mistaked the turn. I ended up falling off three times. Surprisingly, I was left unhurt, although I got sick afterwards. As we pulled out, there was still sand in my mouth and even my voice had been knocked out of whack.

one day, my mother told me that she heard through Facebook that Feather Run Farm was coming back. I was surprised beyond belief, but I never thought I would be going back.

I was in eighth grade at the time. When they turned us out to the track at school, I sat alone on the bleachers (like I usually did), tore out a spare piece of sketchbook paper and wrote a long, heartfelt letter to Bethany and Becky. I sent her pictures of me riding Jeffrey. I sent it, and I waited. Eventually, mama reached out to them through social media, and I went to go visit.IMG_3654.JPG                     Here I am on Thasia, in the same arena, three years later.

The rest of the story is simple. I have been back at Feather Run Farm for over a year, and my confidence went from complete and total rock-bottom to the best it has ever been. I am riding and owning a green thoroughbred with ease, and jumping verticals…for fun! I know it sounds super easy for most riders, but personally I am very, very happy with where I am at. I will start going over fences next show season, and I will do it proudly and calmly. I have even been completely calm at recent shows, even after taking a spill with Finn. Nerves do not exist anymore, even when I am learning something new.

IMG_2813a ride that I had a couple weeks ago

That’s why I am taking the next step. I am watching myself progress by cataloging my rides. I know that i’m ready to tackle something new and exciting. It’s been, well, a ride, but I would not have missed a single minute! I’m ready to share my riding adventures of the past and future to anyone who wants to listen. I am ready to get started!