Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Marionette, A Four-Wheeler, A Sports Car, and A Dirt Bike

I have a pretty great husband (that word is still really weird).    Said pretty great husband offered to me, as a gift, a trip to Atlanta to see my friends and horses any time I wanted.  Because I'm the new kid on the block at my job, I don't have vacation time until June.  There are also no other holiday weekends until May.  So the decision was made (about one week before!) that I was going to make a trip to Atlanta on President's Day weekend! =)

I arrived late Friday night and left *early* Tuesday morning.  I didn't spend *quite* the entire weekend at the barn, but pretty darn close.  I spent Saturday morning running some necessary Atlanta-based errands (hello, bank, Dekalb Farmer's Market, and Snooty Fox Tack Exchange!!!) and then headed to the barn for my pre-arranged late afternoon meet-up with Honorary Big Sister Jen.  After saying my hellos and chatting briefly, Jen and I got our ponies ready and headed up to the ring.

I decided that the first horse I should ride should be the love of my life, Star.  She felt absolutely lovely on the flat.  We jumped a little bit, as well.  Two things: 1) Thank god for Pelhams! and 2) One of us is better at jumping around (including a "scary" 3'0" jump)  after several months off than the other.  I'll give you a hint: it's not me!  All in all, it was a wonderful first ride after my 3-month hiatus.  It was also fun to watch Tiki go.  He has improved so much!  I commented to Honorary Big Sister Jen that he looks like a horse who knows his job.  Very neat to see! :)

Because we had started so late (remember, late afternoon meet-up... to which I was late), I opted to not ride Sparky after Honorary Big Sister Jen left.  Of course, I said hi to him and gave him treats, but then I spent some time with some of my favorite people friends, Joyce and Mark (the barn owners).

On Sunday, I finally had the opportunity to meet Honorary Big Sister Jen's Lovely Rider.  And I tell you what!  She truly is a lovely rider and a great kid in general.  I decided that I like her a lot.  Anyhow, Lovely Rider tacked up Tiki and I got Kellie out, as the plan was for me to first ride Kellie and tell Lovely Rider about her, and then let Lovely Rider ride Kellie.  Kellie was so good!  Definitely out of shape, but she was trying very hard to do what I asked of her.  We did some flatwork in each direction with lots of circles and following the nose, and then we hopped over a couple little jumps.  Kell-Bell was very good, and we had lots of fun.

I then dismounted and told Lovely Rider she could have a turn, but only if she promised to not rat me out for how terrible I probably looked.  She promised she wouldn't.  I gave her some guidelines on how I've been working with Kellie, and then mostly let her do her thing, trying to not be too bossy.  She walked Kellie around for a while, and then picked up a trot.  Honest to god, my jaw dropped and I said, "Oh my God, she's gorgeous!"  I have never seen Kellie really go with another rider... all I can say is wow.  Lovely Rider, of course, lived up to her name and looked lovely on Kellie, and as they finished up, Lovely Rider had a big, dopey grin on her face.  I can only hope Kellie and I look half that good together, but I definitely understand that grin.  During their ride, Lovely Rider came up with the best analogy ever to describe Kellie: a marionette.  How absolutely fitting!  (Damn, the kid's smart, too!)

As we finished up, I asked Lovely Rider if she wanted to stick around and ride Star and Sparky with me.  She agreed, so we got the two of them ready.  I started on Sparky and she started out on Star.  Again, Lovely Rider and Star looked really good together.  After flatting some, Lovely Rider jumped Star around a little bit and did a most excellent job (did I mention that Star was in a snaffle? lol!).  Lovely Rider commented that Star had a very comfortable jump and that she really loved her job - both true statements.  She commented that Star was like a four-wheeler - the kind that always has at least three wheels on the ground.  Yup, that's Star!  (Why can't I come up with these things?!?)

Sparky had his shoes pulled back in November and has been barefoot ever since.  Joyce had mentioned that he looked like he was getting stiff in his back end.  As we started out, he did seem stiff and a bit off in his back end.  It was nothing that should prevent him from working a little bit, and he definitely loosened up as we worked.  We did some basic W-T-C, a little lateral work and some circles, and then a few small jumps.  He was so good!  It really makes me wonder who this "asshole" is that seems to come out at Greg Best clinics.

Lovely Rider and I then switched horses.  I didn't do much with Star: just enjoyed being with her.  Mostly I watched Lovely Rider and Sparky.  She couldn't get over how compact he was.  They also jumped around a little bit.  Of course, the two of them looked great together, too, and Lovely Rider thought Sparky was fun, likening him to a sports car.  Again, a perfect analogy.

That pretty much finished up Sunday, and Lovely Rider went on her way.  I gave her an open invitation to ride my horses whenever she wanted (because she has so much spare time in addition to riding Tiki!).

On Monday, my last day in Atlanta (sad face), I spent the morning first at Dover, exchanging Sparky's 1680D turnout sheet, which had a rip, a broken buckle, and torn-off piping (seriously?!), and then headed over to my friend Nan's house.  Nan has lovely, lovely horses - mostly TBs and one WB.  I got to see Nan, her beautiful horses, including her gorgeous, sweet filly who shows in the hunter breeding, and shockwave therapy.  I really had a good time visiting.

I then went to my barn to ride with Joyce and Debbie.  We just hacked around in the arena for a little bit.  Debbie rode Star while I rode Sparky and then we switched.  Sparky was a good boy with Debbie (as was Star, of course).  I just took it easy with both horses, enjoying the last bit of time I had with them before heading back to New York.  After leaving the barn, I dashed off to meet with Honorary Big Sister Jen for dinner/to see her one last time before I left.

It was a wonderful weekend, and I can't wait to go back.  On the Chronicle of the Horse forums, there is someone whose signature line says, "If you're lucky enough to ride, you're lucky enough."  So true.  Nothing makes you appreciate more what you have than not having it (or in my case, easy access to it).  I am so very grateful for my wonderful horses and my amazing friends, who truly are my "Atlanta family."

Oh, and the dirt bike, if you were wondering?  That's Tiki! :) (Lovely Rider is 4 for 4!)