I have no idea if I’ve blogged about this at all, but a couple years ago the trainer I showed with hung up her trainer hat and moved to Florida to pursue a slower and less dramatic life away from horse showing. She’s living her best beach life these days! The timing was in some ways terrible and in some ways really good for me. She lived and trained near Houston, so I only saw her at shows or on the very infrequent long weekend I went for lessons. Coco was just getting going and Sterling was out on lease (that turned into a happy purchase!). As a relative newby to jumping I have long known that I needed more consistent lessons and had some starts and stops with lessons at various barns near where I live. However, none of them quite scratched the itch for me.
Schooling at home
Fast forward to winter of 2019/2020 and I finally bit the bullet to find a barn closer to me for more regular lessons and hopefully some horse showing. I knew a few people who ride at Bay Yard Farm in Argyle so I looked more into their program and really liked what I found. They have a solid regular lesson program, multiple trainers so if some are gone horse showing you can still get lessons, they attend most of the rated shows in Texas but also some of the fun and desirable out of state shows, and (one of the most important to me) their program is ideal for adult amateurs. There are kids in their program, but it’s not a pony/eq/junior focused program.
Lesson at Bay Yard.
PC Kelly Wilson
I’ve been taking lessons with off and on regularity since January 2019 and am LOVING it. I mostly take Coco since she is my show horse and my veterinarian has suggested that lots of smaller circles are not ideal for Simon’s funky stifle. In 2019 and 2020 we went to a few unrated local shows and really enjoyed the experience. 2020 was a horse show mess, so we didn’t pursue the rated shows at all that year, plus I was traveling with Simon to foxhunts A LOT.
[caption id="attachment_1715" align="aligncenter" width="300"] We interrupt this horse blog for a photo of the cutest horse show dog.
We finally made it to our first rated show with Bay Yard in October of 2021 and had a BLAST! Coco is fairly straightforward at shows, but she’s definitely a different ride than she is at home. We showed four days and got into the ring as much as possible with no expectations for ribbons. I wanted to give her good rides and develop consistency. She had quite a few green horse moments, but nothing disastrous. I was pleased with the overall show experience for her. The other riders, trainers and staff at Bay Yard made the overall experience really special. Everyone is supportive and there is a tremendous amount of camaraderie. Coco was incredibly well cared for and I’d be lying if I denied that having grooms felt like the ultimate luxury!
Princess being spoiled at the horse show
Coco is a lovely and incredibly talented horse (thank you Wendy at October Hill for breeding and selling me this special girl!), but she’s a very different ride than I’ve ever had in the past. I joke that Simon is like driving a Rolls Royce and Coco is a Ferrari. She’s quick and catty like a cutting horse, but athletic and scopey. Usually this works in her favor, but it can also make for some drama that seems to come out of the blue. She also can have a less than stellar work ethic. On my own I can be lazy about holding her accountable for her work ethic. The lessons and guidance from Bay Yard have made a huge difference for both of our focus. I’ve never shown her consistently so we both have a lot of lessons to learn in the show ring. She’s 10 now, so hopefully she’s over youthful shenanigans and we can work through the green ones constructively.
She’s a cute show hunter! PC Jerry Mohme
Next week we are heading to Katy to show at Great Southwest Equestrian Center for their Winter Series. The weather looks amenable to outdoor showing and other than a weird blowup last week, Coco is going nicely. My lofty goal this year is to lesson and show enough to move up to the Adult Amateur division. I know she has the scope for pretty large jumps, I just need to be able to be an effective pilot!
After complaining last week about the scorching heat I’m pleased to say that things have taken quite a turn for the better! We got 1.25″ of rain on Sunday night and it’s remained in the low 90’s for highs all week! The humidity is also low so it almost feels like a Montana summer, but with a lot more dead grass and way more people around.
Regardless of the weather, Ouiser prefers to be inside. We let her wander around outside every once in a while, but she tends to make poor decisions and get stuck in trees or overstimulate the dogs, so that is a privilege she doesn’t get often.
I call this her “Olan Mills” pose. Google Olan Mills and you’ll see what I mean. It’s a cheesy pose with a silly accessory. Boot City loves that she covers his bag with cat hair. LOL!
I’m generally an early riser and Simon doesn’t do great in the heat, so all of my riding lessons this summer have been at 7:30a. Lately this has made for departures in the dark of the morning and the ability to catch a pretty colourful sunrise!
All hooked up and ready to go. This was a super hot Saturday with temps well into the triple digits. I’m hopeful we may be done with those for 2020.
Just because she’s pretty and very photogenic.
She spends quite a lot of time looking towards the back of the property from her stall run. I guess she will warn us if there are ever invaders from the back.
On lesson days I take along my Ice Horse tendon wraps to ice whomever gets to lesson that day’s legs. Sunday has started spending his morning asleep on the boots left in the boot basket. Most of them are Back On Track so I guess he likes the stimulation.
Sunday napping in the boot basket.
Last, but certainly not least, is a Gene update! He’s been wearing his halter for about a week and we learned today that he’s growing like a weed and will need a bigger halter soon! He’s reported to be pretty quiet and it sounds like he should be fairly easy to train, but only time will tell. His caretaker is going to start working with him on leading this week since he will embark on his trip south by the end of the month!
Gene outside. He reminds me a lot of Jaguar as a foal. I’m so excited to see him in person and see if the likeness remains. Jaguar was the easiest horse to train so it would be delightful if Gene is, too!
Have a delightful weekend! Wear your mask. Practice social distance. Wash your hands. And do something fun outside!
Sterling and I have been showing at regional and rated shows for about 3 1/2 years now. Pretty much all three years we have been showing over 2’6″ fences because I was basically starting at zero. I REALLY want to move up to bigger fences, but the only way to to do that is to ride better and to ride better I need to jump more. The primary barrier to that has been that the trainer I ride with at horse shows is located about four hours away from me and I really only see her at horse shows. To remedy that I started taking more lessons with a couple of trainers close to me who have similar approaches to riding and jumping to my horse show trainer. I still don’t get lessons as often as I should and now that fox hunting will be starting it will be even harder, but I’m committed to doing it both for me and for my horses. I want to bring Coco along correctly and not put her through the misery of my beginner mistakes that Sterling was such a saint about dealing with.
In that vein I had a lesson on Sterling last Saturday and it was SO FUN! The barn is a primarily jumper barn so the jumps are much wilder looking than hunter fences. Sterling has always been a brave jumper (he isn’t brave in any other aspect of his life, though. Remember trail rides?) so wasn’t phased by the crazy striped poles. He even jumped a liverpool with no hesitation! Most horses freak out the first time they jump a liverpool because they are moats of horse-eating scariness. Not Sterling. Other than me riding like a dufus he was perfect.
This is a liverpool jump. I don’t think we were jumping anywhere near this height, but you get an idea of what it looks like.
I made a ton of mistakes throughout the lesson, but he marched right along and WE JUMPED AROUND OUR FIRST EVER 3′ COURSE! This trainer had given us some lessons when I was first starting to jump Sterling and she commented about how much more forward he is now, so at least I’ve done something right along the way. We got our strides down every line and didn’t have any hard chips. A few close spots and a couple Tara-why-are-you-looking-down-and-not-forward moments, but I did better at keeping him forward and even used too much leg a couple times.
This isn’t from our lesson, but it is a pretty pic of Sterling at the horse show in Katy last weekend. Hopefully we can continue to get more lessons in and move up to bigger fences at the shows sooner rather than later. He’s such a good boy!
Photo by Jerry Mohme. It looks like we are in a forest, but we aren’t.