Serious Dreams, Serious Equipment

When I first changed disciplines from “paint horse english” to Hunter/Jumper english I used a school saddle that my trainer had, an old Beval saddle.  I rode in it for about six month and when I started looking for my own horse I decided I needed my own saddle. I would see peoples’ saddles in the tack room every time I would come to ride and it was rows of CWDs and Antares among other high-end brands. Looking up used saddles online I had sticker shock at the prices of these brands. When I rode paints I always rode in a Crosby. The Crosby I did have my mom bought me brand new. It didn’t have knee rolls which was the style back then. It was also 16.5 inches (to small for me now) so I already knew that saddle was not going to cut it. Selling that saddle was hard for me. My mom had sacrificed to buy me that saddle so it was sentimental to me. Looking back I probably should have just kept it as it went for next to nothing on eBay and after fees and shipping I walked away with a laughingly small amount.   Lesson learned.

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Crosby Pre De Nations

 

I decided that I wanted to buy an Antares. Buying new was not an option for me so I started to scour the Internet for a decent used one. I found a 2002 Antares saddle for $1500 and decided to buy it. At his point in time the saddle was 12 years old. I was so excited when it arrived! It turned out to be a very comfortable saddle and it fit me very well. As I started riding more and more the flaps on the saddle started to wear thin. I used it for about one and half years and had to make the decision to replace the flaps or buy a new saddle. My thought process was I couldn’t keep buying a saddle every year. It would be better for me to buy a brand new saddle that will last years instead having to constantly replace it.   Meanwhile I absolutely fell in love with my trainers CWD 2Gs saddle. She let me ride in it and it was like nothing else I have ever sat in. If you ever have a chance to ride in one do it! So now I really want a 2gs. I start looking for a newer used one but my seat size and flap length is a rare combination. I searched for a used one for about 3 months before decided to bite the bullet and order a brand new one. I sold my Antares for $1400; dog sat many dogs and started working off Greyson’s training cost (applying the savings to my saddle fund).

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My 2002 Antares, just oiled.

 

I ordered my saddle and waited the excruciating three months it takes to be made and shipped. A few weeks ago I received it and have ridden in it for two weeks now. It is just now starting to break in. Every time I look at it I get all happy inside. It fits Greyson so well and my leg position has gotten better. It is just another step towards jumping the 1.20m.

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How it looked out of the box
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Here it is after being conditioned a couple of times.

A brief catch up

If you have read my first blog post you know that I have been on my journey to the 1.20s for about two years.  The first six months I took two lessons a week and felt that I outgrew the lesson horse and would need my own to move up.  Enter Greyson, my 2004 OTTB gelding and first official jumper.  We spent a year getting to know each other and learning new skills.  After the first year of doing nothing but lessons I felt it was time to put my skills to the test and enter a show.    Wow my first show in over 5 years and my very first rated show.

First off all showing hunter jumpers is a whole lot different than paint shows.  The entry process is different, the set up is different.  Having to learn all the different divisions and jumping tables.  A bit overwhelming at first but nothing I couldn’t handle.  Lucky for me my trainer is amazing and guided me through this process.

My very first class we entered the .85 open jumpers.  Wouldn’t you know it we ended up second in a class with 16 horses!  I was beyond thrilled and it gave me the confidence I needed.

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Our very first ribbon together
Though I didn’t repeat my second place showing for the rest of the show we did end up with multiple ribbons and I even entered some meter classes.  Unfortunately, I ended up feeling like I wasn’t ready for the meters by the end of the show as the jumps looked big  and I was incredibly nervous in the meter classes we entered.  But hey it gives us something to work on at home not that I lack things to learn.

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My loot from my first show

A month goes by and I enter my next rated show.  Annnnnd…winner winner chicken dinner!  I won my first championship in .85s and I entered some .90s but seemed to always make some mistake or another that caused a rail to go down.  Can’t win them all.

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Our first first!

Ok so now it is official, I got bit by the horse show bug!  I am ready let’s do this!  So we enter my first A rated show, Giant Steps Charity Classic.  Such a fan of that show.  I had a blast and really felt like I was getting the hang of hunter jumper shows.  Hmm did I mention that I won Champion in .85s and reserve champion in the .95s?  Moving on up!

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Champion!

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Can you believe the size of this thing?!?
 

Okay so we take a few months off showing.  We are working hard on moving up.  Both my trainer and myself feel like I have accomplished the .85s-95s and need to move up.  We work on jumping bigger at home during this break from showing.  I’m jumping 3’3-3’6 and I am starting to not feel intimidated by the meter jumps.  I even went through the grid with a 3’9 jump at the end!

 

It is time we go to our last show of the year.  I am going to enter the meters and only the meters.  Not sure what was wrong but we were just off our game.  Most of my classes I had a rail and didn’t end up with a placing.  We did have one success, we got a 4th in the open meters with 21 horses.  I am learning you have to be happy with small successes.  A good friend told me that riding is not a linear process, you have steps forward, backwards and sidewise.  I try to keep that in mind when I start to doubt myself or Greyson.  But now it is the winter and I started helping my trainer as a working student so I can soak in as much knowledge and ride as much as possible.  It’s been raining and we have been stuck indoors doing tedious exercises.  I yearn to get back into our outdoor ring and put our practice to a full course.

That pretty much sums up my year and now I can do regular post in the present.  I hope you will stick with me on this journey because I am just getting started.

Welcome to my first post

Let me start by saying I am new to blogging and so please forgive my blogging skills 🙂

I started riding horses when I was eight years old.  My very first horse was a $200 quarter horse my mom found in the local newspaper pet classifieds.  I was horse crazy from the moment I saw a horse for the first time.  Lucky for me my mom rode horses when she was younger so making the decision to buy her horse crazy daughter one was an easy decision. My mom barrel raced and mostly rode cheap grade horses and learned as she went, no trainers, no lessons, just trial and error.  That is how I started as well.  I loved my $200 quarter horse.  I like to think I was a natural, I just jumped on and started riding, no fear or trepidation, just pure joy and exhilaration!

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Moon – My first horse
When I started riding it was mostly just trail riding.  One fateful day my mom and I were out on a trail and we came across a little ditch that we had to cross.  Most horses would have just walked right across as it was small enough to just step into and then out of but Moon decided he would much rather leap across it.  So it begins, my love for jumping.  Just the feel of being on a horse who is at one point completely off the ground was a feeling like none else.  I loved it so much I had him go back a forth a few more times until he just decided to walk normally across the ditch.  So my mom decided that it might be time for me to take proper lessons.

We lived in Las Vegas and didn’t have the internet back then and I am not sure how my mom found trainers but I ended up taking lessons with a Quarter Horse All Arounder type trainer.  Although I can’t be sure of the timeline I know somewhere in there I took lessons from a few jumping trainers but none I can clearly remember.  My beginning riding years were mostly in an all around barn and I learned english, western, and showmanship.

Fast forward some years and I have progressed far enough and accomplished many things that it was time to find a new trainer and a more competitive horse.  The pickings were slim at the time in Las Vegas for all around trainers that showed nationally so we chose a trainer in California and we would drive up once a month for lessons and I would end up spending my summers staying with my trainer and taking lessons every day.  The best part about this new trainer is that she taught jumping as well!   Her name was Avis and my riding really excelled under her guidance.  We bought my first nationally competitive horse through her and stayed with her for many years until her untimely passing.

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Goodie 1987 APHA Mare
There were a few horses between Moon and Goodie but I want to save you some time and I still haven’t arrived to the point of this blog.  Maybe someday I will do I post about all the horses that led me here.  I am finding it is very hard to sum up 23 years worth of riding in a single blog post!

I rode on the APHA circuit from 10-26 years old.  Adulthood came crashing down on me and I struggled to stay competitive in my 20’s with a full time job and little to no money.  Eventually I made the hardest decision of my life and sold my horses so that I could get out of debt and get ahead in life.  I could write a whole post on that period of my life but again it will have to be for another day.  It took about four years but my husband and I did it! We got out of debt and it wasn’t long after that he was offered a really good job in Northern California.  So we packed up, moved and started on this new adventure.  I was now able to fully dedicate myself to riding again!

So here I was 31 years old with a clean slate.  Do I go back into riding and showing paint horses?  I wasn’t sure that is what I wanted anymore.  I had to ask myself if I start riding again what was the most fun?  It was jumping.  So now I have arrived to my point finally.  I wanted to jump and only jump.  No more showmanship, no more western pleasure or hunter under saddle with a few jumping classes sprinkled in.  Just let me jump!  It was an incredibly freeing decision. I felt light and happy.  So I went out and found myself a new trainer.  I took lessons for 6 months and felt that I outgrew the lesson horse and I desperately wanted my own horse again.  My trainer found me a 10 year old grey thoroughbred gelding.  I named him Greyson and his show name is Valyrian Steel.

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Valyrian Steel 2004 OTTB gelding
This blog is dedicated to my journey into the Hunter/Jumper industry, the highs and lows and all the things I am learning along the way. My current goal is to show in the 1.20.  I hope you follow along  as I try to reach that goal and as I learn to show in this discipline.

*It has been about 1.5 years since buying Greyson and I will do a post about what we have accomplished so far.