We’ve had the pleasure of attending another horse show at the Briar Creek McCoy Farm. Spring 2017. Charlotte rode Buddy again and the poor old boy had to complete four jump courses of eight jumps each. Charlotte walked away today with a first place ribbon, a second place and two thirds. Wow! This girl has not even been taking lessons for a year! She competed against riders who’ve been taking lessons at the farm for years and who own much higher quality horses. Our beloved Buddy is just an old quarter horse, who’s seen the prime of life pass him by. The judge commented that she seems like a natural. Charlotte is gifted, that’s for sure. But I know she puts a lot of effort and hard work into her riding. We don’t keep the horses here at the farm. They are pastured at an elderly neighbor’s farm because those pastures are retired anyway. And this lets us use our land for animals that actually produce something, other than a good time, that is. So Charlotte has to walk a ways to go get the horses when she rides, she is the sole feeder and groomer, and she tacks up her own horse. That may not sound challenging, but when you see our little pint size rider heave a heavy saddle up on Buddy’s back, well, it’s pretty impressive. I remember years ago, tacking up three horses and walking around and around the yard with little riders hanging on for dear life, wondering if they would ever be big enough to tack up independently. What a difference a few years make. And she is so kind to always offer to lead the littler siblings around the yard on her horse. We are so proud of Charlotte. Not for her ribbons, but for her hard work and determination. And we are pretty proud of Buddy, too!
You know those annoying people who think all there is to riding horses is just to sit there? Charlotte is quickly learning how foolish that is to even think! She has been excelling at her riding lessons and learning quickly. She needs to build up her muscles which just takes time and repetition and effort. After Jeremie took her to one of her lessons, he came home with plans to build her a jump of her own. She has been practicing trotting and cantering over the poles, now she has a place to practice her two-point over a cross jump. Now if we could just train Buddy not to leave horse apples in the front yard…
The finest horsewoman I’ve ever seen has just completed her first show. And our old trail horse, Buddy?? Well, he surprised us all by cleaning up real nice. You can tell that he is not as collected as he ought to be, though. He is used to being used for Western Pleasure. Picture a dirty cowboy, used to riding miles to check fences, being asked to don a tux and execute a tango with an elegant partner. Ha! Charlotte loves her horse! She competed this weekend at a horse show at McCoy Briar Creek Farm. Dressage is a discipline when horse and rider complete maneuvers around a ring to showcase smooth transitions, balance, memorized turns and gaits. She placed 4th in her class and we were so proud. Dressage is a highly disciplined sport and Charlotte and Buddy are novices. Next she competed in two different hunter/jumping courses. She had to memorize the course, then ride her horse around the arena, over jumps, keeping a correct diagonal. Wow! She did fantastic! Placed third in both! Charlotte has only had a handful of formal lessons and she is having a great time soaking up all the knowledge her trainer can share.
Our neighbor across the street is one of the largest landowners in the state. Every year he grows a rotation of corn, soybeans or tobacco. Wherever his corn is, he has given us permission to glean the fields after his combine goes through. We feed this corn to the horses, usually an ear for each, once a day, all winter long. The kids also like to collect the corn to play with. Charlotte is making horse treats with molasses. The kids also use the corn kernels as “money” to play store outside and to cook with out in the mud kitchen.
Easy keepers. That’s what we got and that’s what we like. Horses can be molly-coddled, can be pampered, can be a money pit. But our sweet rides have been virtually no trouble at all. We give them a bale of hay a day in the winter, corn cobs we’ve gleaned from the fields, sweet feed every now and then and fresh water. Usually we get their hooves trimmed twice a year. Our farrier always says that they look fine. But this last time we got them trimmed, Buddy had developed a bacteria in his hoof that weakened the side wall and caused part of his hoof to break off. A lot of horses in the area have been battling this bacteria since last year, and with all this wet weather, Buddy has finally succumbed. So, our farrier fitted him for a new pair of shoes. Usually our horses go around barefoot. If I can’t afford shoes for my kids, I would feel silly buying shoes for my animals! (just kidding 😉 These shoes will need to be refitted every 6-8 weeks. Now we are back to enjoying some riding time!
I have some girls who love, love horses. When we first moved down here, that was a recurring theme during prayer time. The acquisition of some equine. Because our God delights to grant us the desires of our hearts, we now have 3 horses munching away in the pastures. We have learned so much about horses and riding from our 4H program. Now some of my girls have shown an interest in learning to ride English style and jumping. Their great-grandmother would be proud. She encouraged me, when I was a girl, to take riding and jumping lessons. I remember the trip to the tack store when she bought me the fancy, black velvet riding helmet. So today we went to observe a friend’s lessons and to meet the trainer. My girls were enthralled. I’m not entirely sure we can afford the time or money it takes to enter this new “horse world” but it sure was fun to watch for the day.
This last weekend Tommy, Mia and Katie participated in the regional 4H horse bowl and hippology contest. Hipp-o-what??? Hippology is the study of all things horsey. And the bowl??? Just think…fun game show buzzers and trivia questions. It was a long day in a crowded hot gym, waiting for their turn to compete against over 100 kids. Tommy placed 6th overall and his team won second place, earning them a place at the state competition in Knoxville. KNOXVILLE???? All the way on the other side of the our state! The girls did not have enough people on their team to participate in the horse bowl, but they went along to take the written test for hippology and to show support for all the other team members.
Our old black horse Eclipse died a few weeks ago. He was the perfect horse for our younger kids because he was so gentle. Never any danger of him running off or bucking them off. He was just really, really old. But we have been missing him so much, especially Charlotte. She had just started jumping him over logs. Some friends of ours had offered the use of their horse, Lacey, to us. Their kids are mostly grown now and Lacey was not getting ridden very much. Lacey is very gentle and safe and I feel confident that my kids are fine riding her. She does have a little more get up and go than Eclipse, but that is fine, since Charlotte is wanting to learn to jump her. I think this will be the perfect fit for our family.