Posted by: shannonc | May 18, 2009


We have an adventure today?

We have an adventure today?



It’s a raw and rainy morning, and having had a long working Saturday I’m thinking twice about going to this 3-phase.  But I’m up anyway and I know I should, so I head out to the barn to decide if I should wash the pony or just stand him outside.  Pony does get a bath, but is not happy about it.  Even though it’s with warm water, he’s cold.  I bundle him up in an antisweat and a fleece blanket and give him some hay afterwards.  He wants to have nothing to do with getting his face washed, and we have a little spat about it.  He’s rude so I stand in front of his hay until he comes over on his own and relents.  When we’re ready to go, he decides he doesn’t really want to get on the trailer.  He gives up pretty quickly, but is clearly not in the best of moods.  So by the time we’re out of the driveway, the poor pony and I have already had two arguments.  I’m thinking this might be an interesting day.

Scene 1:

Wonderful husband takes pony for a walk while I get dressed.  We have arrived later than I intended because we stopped at Dunkin’ and there was a monster line, but it made the husband happy so it was the least I could do considering I’m subjecting him to a day of horses :).  I mount and we head for the D warmup.  I have been on for no more than 30 seconds when a slamming, pony-eating porta-potty door gives the pony a good spook.  In no more than another 30, we’re in the walking lane between xc and D when a big grey horse exits rider stage left and gallops madly at the pony.  I stay on for a few seconds but I feel trembling, wanting to bolt pony underneath me so I dismount.  Pony must have been trying hard to be good because as soon as I’m off he scoots around.  Once the horse is caught I hand walk the pony a bit and then do my best getting on from the ground with new boots imitation.  I’m on for a minute when the ring steward tells me they’re running early and ready for me.  I’m starting to think maybe I should have stayed in bed!  But it’s a schooling show and a walk-trot test and it seems petty to stick it to them on the time issue, so I decide to be very happy that the pony has recovered from his two scares and I go on in.  We put in a quiet, steady, accurate test, but since I haven’t given him much warmup, he’s not very put together.  Our comments are predictably of the need more bend, more round, and more forward variety, we score a 36 and it puts us in first by a hair. 

I’m actually glad for the slamming door and the loose horse incidents, because that’s what he’s here for:  mileage.

Pony on the lookout

Pony on the lookout

Scene 3:

I walk both courses, with maps, and still fail to register the last fence on either one.  I give a passing thought to the fact that there are no finish flags but then decide that since it’s a schooling show, they may just be using the markers on the last fence for that purpose.

The courses are really cute, especially the xc.  The Pony Club has created quite a wide variety of fences for the tadpole level and I think it’s just right for this first xc.  I walk the stadium one level ahead of what we’ll be jumping and catch myself thinking he’d be just fine with this height.  Not too sure he’d be just fine with the decorations, but I generally think he’s ready for the challenge.  Then I tell myself to reserve judgment until I’ve actually gotten him around the xrail version of the course.

Scene 4:

The pony tries to decide between a nap and a snack.

Tough decision

Tough decision

Scene 5:

We get up to stadium in time to do a little hanging out, good experience for the pony.  The xc wraps around the back of the sj arena so there’s plenty he’s interested in looking at.  I must watch 5 or 7 sj rounds and I still fail to register the course isn’t what I thought it was.  I’m not very alert today.  But I do figure out my xc error while I’m talking to Sarah, who’s done for the day already but has stayed to cheer us on (I’m so glad!).  She and Buck won their division by roughly a hundred points and are very happy.  They’ve done a bucketload of hard work all winter and spring long, and deserve this moment!

I give the pony a quick warmup and pop him over a couple of crossrails.  He’s very businesslike.  No effort to buck.  He’s also steering pretty well.  Hm.  I wonder what he’s keeping in store for xc.

Scene 6:

I’m on deck and watching the rider before me.  When she is done and they are waving me in, I realize she isn’t coming from the direction she should be from the last fence.  Because, of course, it isn’t the last fence.  I tell the steward I think I memorized the wrong course, and because they are taking numbers for sj and not going by time, they skip over me and someone else goes in.  One look at the map tells me my mistake.  Jeez.  That was pretty close to the big E.

We do our round and I am completely thrilled with the pony.  He wanted to canter and he was being very polite so I let him.  We cantered our very first course!  He even got all his leads save one so I pretty much left him alone the whole trip.  He was focused and confident and only gave one tiny head shake around a corner as if to say, really Mom, I know to balance up already!

Kisses in stadium

Scene 7:

A coach who has people in my group doesn’t know the xc course yet, so I go over it with her.  At least I know it now. 

We only have a round or so to wait after sj before we head out of the box on xc.  The pony is on his game.  He knows he’s here to do a job and even summons the nervous energy to poop over the first two fences.  He doesn’t stop trotting and looking for the next jump, though (good pony!).  Between fences 2 and 3 we come across the trainer with the students who still need to learn the course and he gives them a look.  I tell him this is eventing, there are people allowed out on the course with horses.  He says okay, I say your next jump is over there, he says no problem.  He feels a little tired and he’s looking around at the paper plate markers and all the different fences in the field, and volunteers to drop to trot on landing most of the time.  That’s fine with me.  There is one short line of 3 fences, heading home, that he wants to canter and I think I’m unlikely to get a prompt transition from him so I let him go – he hits the third jump on a half stride and I sit up, squeeze and wait to see what he decides to do.  He takes the longer distance.  Bold pony!  He actually has a pretty powerful little jump.  I’m super proud of him.  As he passes back by the start area, he does think he’s finished, but he’s not nappy about it.  A little squeeze and cluck and he motors right along.

He’s willing to everything in both jump phases – this is huge!  And it’s a good thing too, because I kept dropping into passenger mode today.  He’s relaxed and happy and seems to know why he’s there.  He’s coming along!

Proof!  Kisses on xc

While Sarah and I are chatting after I take off the pony’s saddle, the husband loads him onto the trailer by himself.  We laugh and Sarah tells me this is the big subtle signal that the husband is ready to depart :)  I climb into the trailer to swap bridle for halter and we’re off.  On the way home the husband admits he’d miss the pony if we sold him.  I feel a little sad too.  And I haven’t even advertised him yet!

Scene 8: 

We bring the pony home, the pony gets to eat some grass, and I manage to make dinner and feed humans and horses before I collapse into bed.

Time for the pony to move up to the big, imposing 18″ division.  I’m not sure yet, but it’s possible we might be ready to do the GHF Summer Classic at the end of June.  Depends how he reacts to upping the ante – is he over himself and clicked in, or is it going to be a big deal?

I’m very curious for the sequel!

Cadence likes Kisses pony!

Cadence likes Kisses pony!



  1. First of all – I am TOTALLY jealous of your cameraman. Mine fails in comparison!!! He got your ENTIRE xc ride!!!!! :)

    I will miss Kisses too if you get rid of him. Maybe we are all trying to give you a hint….Did you know Teddy O’Connor was a pony????

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