revelatory consistency

I’m pretty sure I’m the first person ever to have this revelation about horses, or possibly about the world in general, but riding Murray consistently has been AMAZING for our ability to make progress.

Image result for innovative

In the last few weeks I have gotten the upper hand over SEVERAL bad habits that I’ve been trying to break for YEARS now.  I’ve shortened my reins!  Murray responds consistently to the leg (even at the walk, which is shocking!)!!  Murray gets to work after warm up and is forward and businesslike!!!  My legs are not swinging wildly behind the saddle, and I’m using my calf to communicate.  I’m even managing to chip away at my horrible tendency to scrunch up my right side

Who knew this?!  How much better would I be at riding if I’d known to just be consistent and not suck?  Or at least, not suck relative to my skill level and proficiency.

IMG_8304relative skill level: low

I have also been trying to keep up with the work assigned to me by Megan and JM, which actually dovetail really nicely.  They both want Murray to be more straight and transferring power from hindquarters to forequarters, which in turn then allows me to work on improving the quality of his gaits.  Though shockingly, when Murray is moving forward into both reins his gaits are not terrible.

So that’s where we’re at right now.  Also, my bestie has been letting me ride her baby horse and I’m completely, deeply, terribly obsessed with him.  And weirdly, consistency is applying to other horses too!

logan01please excuse my inability to follow and not hold – we are still getting to know one another


october 10 questions

It finally started to rain in California!  Today we got a misty drizzle that turned into a straight up downpour in the evening.  Fortunately, Murray is snug in his stall, and the indoor arena is delightful.  I even managed to sneak RBF’s pasture horse down to a closer pasture so I could deliver his buckets more easily while she’s gone.  Success!

So, ten questions, right?

What do you consider “jumping high” for yourself?

Jumping above 3′ is jumping high for me, but I am really hoping to move that up soon.  Murray has proven himself willing and able to course 3′, so it’s time to start stepping things up if we want to go places (see below)!

IMG_8458Murray is uninterested in your 2’7″ fences

What are your short term goals for riding? Do you think you’ll reach them?

I think the most concrete short term goal that I have right now is to ride at Novice in the coming 6 months.  This changed recently, but after two trainers declared Murray ready for it, and suggested that continuing to show at BN to “just get used to things” was one way to approach things but not truly necessary, I’m suddenly filled with ambition again!  But we’ll need to keep working through the winter and get our dressage under some fucking control before we can get there, so I’m guessing that’s the other short term goal.  Will I reach them?  Errrr….

Long term goals for riding? Do you think you’ll reach them?

I have some longlonglong term goals, but let’s just deal with the regular long term goals for this one.  I’d like to go prelim, on Murray or a different horse, and I’d like to get my bronze medal scores — which I think Murray should be capable of.  Short of having to quit riding, I’m sure I’ll get there — even if I have to dump an absurd amount of money into that prelim run.

How many barns have you been at in your riding career?

As a kid I plotzed around at two barns in Australia, on my family’s property, and at horse camp in the bay area.  As an adult legitimately learning to ride I have ridden at two barns only (UCD and my current barn).

camelot (263)-(ZF-8462-66896-1-002s

How many different trainers have you been with in your riding career?

I won’t count the kid barns in this one.  I had one trainer at the first barn I rode at, another student at UCD, and then my current trainer.  In addition I have Tina, and my MIL.  So four.  I am hoping to soon add this one to my collection.

Ever worked at a barn? What did you do?

As a student at UCD I cleaned water troughs to work off lessons, and I mucked for my trainer at her house in exchange for lessons for close to a year.  I have also babysat the barn, but that doesn’t really count.

Scariest thing that has happened at your barn?

We had a really bad year in 2015.  We had the fires and evacuations.  One of the evacuated horses flipped, got up, then collapsed and died when his owner was trying to load him back on to her trailer to go home.  My old lease horse broke his leg and had to be euthanized.

Have you ever given a lesson? What level was the rider?

I hold a daily lesson in how to be suckered by your horse!

13683828223_75e197e974_olook at this freaking adorable baby horse!!!

What is your opinion on the accuracy of critiquing riders online?

Accuracy is an interesting word choice here.  I think that we are deluding ourselves if we say we don’t judge riding pictures posted online.  But we are also assholes of we don’t recognize all the limitations that nearly everybody has mentioned here — it’s a moment in time, we can pick only the good ones, you don’t know what’s going on before/after/etc.

Do I think that you can actually get valuable feedback from critiquing pictures online?  If you’re honest with yourself and you post something realistic and representative.  Will you also drown under a metric butt ton of garbage spewed onto you by raging peons behind their keyboards? YUP.

What is the ideal height of a horse for you?

I like Murray’s height a lot.  He makes me feel tall but I think we look good together.  I have also enjoyed riding some slightly smaller, sportier models.  But the real question is — how tall is Murray?  Close to no clue.  I think he’s 16.2 but… could be less.



engagement, ethics, and media silence

I, along with many others, am writing in response to the strange occurrence of blood in the mouths of three horses under one rider in the span of a year.  But I’m not here to talk about the blood, exactly.  If you’d like to read my favourite current article about this issue, look to Ruthie Meyer on Eventing Connect.  I also watched the video of the press conference after Fair Hill, almost all ten minutes of it.  The reporters asked the right questions, and they got answers.  But no resolution.

The problem isn’t just the blood on the horses or the mysterious black towels – it’s the radio silence from governing bodies and official channels and the curious attitude of some writers and riders that those of us questioning the situation should shut up and stop questioning our betters.

(however, update: you can read the opinions of several eventing seniors here)

Over and over and over we hear that eventing is a sport that not only values but lives upon its amateur base.  That those of us who ride in the lower levels, who may dabble in the upper levels but don’t live there, are the heart and soul of this sport.  That our engagement in this sport is critical to its survival.

So why is it that when we have serious questions and concerns about something going on in this sport, we are told to shut up?  We are looking to the officials – veterinarians, technical delegates, ground jury members – and other professional riders for some resolution in this matter, and instead of anything concrete we have gotten silence.

And I get it – we live in a world where something said once on the internet can be brought up again and again, forever and ever*.  But by the same token, the way this issue is being handled will permanently affect the future of our sport.  For future competitors watching upper level riders appear to skirt issues that directly affect horse welfare, what is this modeling?  Is this the type of horsemanship or showmanship that I want future technical delegates and judges to display?

And we do get to question our “betters”, because the moment they stepped into the public eye that’s what they were opening themselves up to.  If they want our support, be it emotional, financial, or social media, then they have to accept the questions that come with it.  That’s what engagement is.  No, we don’t get to be assholes about it (and of course vast swaths of people on the internet are because: the internet), but rational questions and serious concerns should be addressed.

Maybe we really are making too big of a deal out of this.  I’ve bitten my tongue plenty of times, and I live to tell the tale.  Is there an underlying issue that makes this horse particularly susceptible to tongue biting?  Well, don’t you think other officials would know that?  And if this really isn’t that big of a deal, teach us why.  It isn’t hard.  Don’t treat us like the small percentage of people on the internet too stupid to learn anything.

But it turns out that this is concerning.

(Here’s the math: If we make a few basic assumptions – that upper level riders are photographed equally, and that we can control for the number of horses you ride at any given event – we can see that this one rider has had four incidents to everyone else’s 0.  And a quick calculation makes that an approximately infinity % increase over the current industry standard.)

This chipped away a little bit of my appreciation for eventing as a sport and as a community.  And it wouldn’t have taken much to assure the public (read: me) that something is being done to get to the bottom of this situation – either by the rider or by officials.  And it makes me a little sad to know that I participate in a sport that isn’t as ethical as it could be.

* And whenever you introduce anything ever so slightly controversial on the internet the crazies come out of the woodwork.  I get that too.  The absurd comments that were made on some posts straight up challenged Poe’s law.

just go toward the light

Murray and I took a personal day on Sunday to go to a local event derby, where I planned to ride in the BN derby division and school a Novice jump round in the field for practice.  I had just one goal for the weekend: to actually ride through my dressage test (and stadium round, though dressage especially).  This meant getting Murray to a connected, rideable place at the show and not freezing up and backing off the second he decided to be slightly an asshole/a horse.

spooking at a spot of light in the arena

Fortunately, the assistant trainer/my friend who was coaching me gave me the same advice, and encouraged me to stop falling into the trap of twiddling with Murray’s face when I could solve my issues from actually activating his hind end (I knowwwww).  She also reminded me to keep my right shoulder back/straight and not break over my right wrist.  These two little position pointers were perfect — they effectively changed my position and connection, and were just enough for me to think about without freaking out over positional things entirely.

Murray warmed up pretty well.  At one point Murray tried to run off at the walk instead of play along with an almost-on-the-bit walk, but I convinced him to stick around.  He tried again when he saw a horse cantering past in the derby field and got excited, but I just tried to keep my reins consistent and the horse moving forward.

dear dog please don’t let it touch me

Overall, the test had some nice moments but was behind the leg, tense and somewhat choppy, with borderline terrible geometry and one massive spook at a patch of light.  Murray spooked in the third quarter of a 20m circle, and then in the fourth circle experienced some after-shock spooks where he apparently thought he was reliving the light-spot experience.  But it turns out that when I use my seat, leg and core, and try to keep pushing my horse forward into a consistent connection, I can get some pretty legit results*.  A test that felt like it should score in the 42-43 range got a generous 35.3 from the judge, with the verbal comment that we visibly improved as the test went on.

* Compared to previous results!

It’s still over there!!!

Our BN jump round went well, though I struggled to ride Murray at a consistent pace due to him looking at a few things and me erring on the side of slowing him down.  We ended up with one rail down and one circle between two fences (not an associated distance), and I honestly don’t know how the round was scored.  I opted to go back in for another BN round and Murray was the perfect ride. He was totally forward, happy to move to the fences, rateable, and listening.  We had no jump penalties or time penalties that round either.

I opted to scratch my Novice jump round in favor of some light adulting (meeting a new tutoring client).  I really would like to get out and jump some Novice in a foreign location, but will have to wait for a few more weeks at least before I can finagle it into the schedule.  But we had two great rides and one good ride, so I was happy to end with that.  To have Murray listen to me and respond so reasonably in the dressage court was fantastic, though I’m equal parts ashamed that I have been riding so poorly in the past and elated that the changes I’m making are having an effect.  And our jump rounds were fun and awesome, even if I did make some questionable choices that led to a rail and (maybe) refusal.

but still, some nice moments

To top it all off, my generously-scored dressage test and jump round with one or two (let’s split the difference and call it 1.5) faults landed me a sixth place ribbon and a jar of cookies!  Which Murray hates.  Because of course.


there’s no need to be a dick about it

Last week I mentioned that my rides were full of revelation, dusted with glimpses of glory, and glistening with the ghosts of my past bursting with hidden potential!!  Even if only one of those four three things is true, it was a week filled with learning. And one of the most impactful revelations, as I was asking Murray to use his body in more correct and possibly slightly uncomfortable ways, was that there’s no need to be a dick about it.

dressage1No need to be a dick about it, right Murray?

When Murray is tense and not working over his back he isn’t doing it for no reason — there’s legitimate tension and fear there that we need to work through.  And that progress is going to come slowly, as Murray gains confidence in the new way I’m asking him to move and carry himself.  He’s not going to develop a springier trot with suspension by running away from scary lions (or my whip), and he’s not going to lean into the bridle and stay steady in the connection if he thinks that those lions are possibly going to leap out at him from every corner.

And that’s all fine.  We will never make progress if we don’t push outside of our comfort zone.  But I don’t need to be a dick about it.  I have a prefrontal cortex and the ability to understand that deliberate practice and careful repetition will make us better, stronger, and more capable.  Murray has a brain that is smaller than one of his testicles would have been, had he been allowed to keep them, and knows that working this way makes him feel funny and isn’t as much fun as, say, rolling in a pasture or napping in his paddock.

Image result for chimp brain vs testicleA chimpanzee’s brain (background) compared to one of its testicles (foreground) – lest you think I was exaggerating earlier

So I get to ask Murray to do things that are hard and uncomfortable, but I only get to do it politely and kindly, and praise him when he does the right thing.  If I were better at riding, I’d ask perfectly, respond perfectly, and then praise him more quickly than I do.  But I’m not (and quite frankly, he’s not so peachy keen about learning himself), so he can deal.  We’ll do hard things and uncomfortable things, and then we’ll take a break — no need to drill, no need to ask at Volume 10 what could have been asked at Volume 2, and no need to nitpick the little things that I feel should have been accomplished by now.

But the same thing goes for him — if he wants me to play nice, he has to put in an honest effort.  Sometimes he’s great; I can feel the confusion leaving his body and we get to a good place using more than time.  And some days, that just doesn’t happen (sometimes that’s okay, but mostly that’s a no go).  He knows that leg on does mean something, and it means that something for more than one disgusting inverted step.


It’s a hard line to walk, and because I generally try not to be an asshole I tend to fall a little far on the side of “that’s okay”.  But we’re tightening everything up this fall, including our cues and our expectations.  An honest effort is all I expect out of both of us — and for both of us to stop being dicks about it.

embrace the suck

Since I started riding properly again, I’ve been floored by how much work Murray and I still have to do.  It wasn’t that I thought our skills and riding were amaaaaayyyzing when I was hardly riding, it was more that if I was only riding once or twice a week it seemed like a lot of effort to tackle something really hard only to have it go un-reinforced for a few days (or weeks).  It was easier just to… not.  But now that we’re back at it, I’ve realized we kinda really suck.  And I’m loving it!

yves7we r so gud at obedience

There is so much room for improvement, and with these ideals in mind I’m ready to tackle it all.  So what if we spend close to 45 minutes just connecting to both reins and moving into the connection?  Sometimes, evidently, it takes professionals that long too!

So let’s do this. And let’s do it right. (Cue Home Depot music.)

dress-1and we r so gud at dressage

We’re going to have a consistent, even connection to both reins.  No more pussy footing around on this one.

Leg will mean something — for me AND Murray!  No more nagging on my part, and no more ignoring cues on his.

I will keep my leg under me and stop swinging it all the way back towards Murray’s haunches for no good reason.  I’m also going to use my body properly, sit up straight, and not block Murray’s movement with weird shoulda leans.

And we will go forward and straight.  The hardest thing for us.  This, I anticipate, will occupy 95% of our time — accepting that forward and straight is the ONLY solution.  But that’s okay.  We’ve got nothing but time.

dress-4forward + straight is the only way

Let’s do this.

(PS I wrote this on the weekend and somehow the internet ate it — the first time that’s happened to me on this blog!  Or maybe I was just drunk and didn’t really write it? Anyway, I liked the old version more but this one will suffice as a re-write, I guess.)

how to clip your recalcitrant horse 101

A tutorial from the trenches!!

I’ve clipped the rather recalcitrant Murray without drugs two years in a row now, which makes me certifiably a professional an expert.  And lezbehonest, if I can train MURRAY to accept being clipped, I can surely do anything.  Right?!

So let’s go in to detail on this process.  Because absolutely honestly, if Murray can learn to accept clipping, pretty much any horse can learn to accept clipping.  (Let’s recap his former objections: pulling back and somersaulting in the cross ties, laying down and refusing to get up, rearing, sitting down, and requiring 2cc of ace and a twitch to get the job done.)


1. Make a battle plan

When I decided I was legitimately going to train Murray to clip I knew that I’d have to fundamentally change his association with the clippers from “no fucking way this is happening” to “okay”.  For Murray this was a combination of pairing the aversive stimulus (sound of clippers, sight of clippers, feel of clippers) with a positive stimulus (carrots! mints! pats and praise aren’t worth shit to him) and flooding.

To start with, I could just turn on the clippers and treat Murray for staying put and approaching the clippers.  But he quickly figured out that he could rapidly approach and run away quickly and I was gullible enough to treat him for that.  So I had to evolve to making sure that the clippers were actually on Murray’s body and he was standing still before he got any treats.  If he didn’t want the clippers on him, then we stepped into the flooding — sometimes, you just gotta get those bad boys on your bad boy, ya know?


2. Practice early and practice often

Murray had a good training history and understood the basics of the training game, and teaching him to tolerate the clippers took 8 weeks of near-daily practice.  This year, I started practicing again about two weeks ago, and probably could have used more practice.

Don’t forget that the clippers themselves aren’t the only weird stimulus that shows up on clipping day.  There’s the show sheen, extension cords, spray coolant, cursing etc.  All of these things are worth practicing with, at least a little bit.

img_20161016_125306The “maybe I can still stop now and wait for his hair to get longer” stage

3. Persist

Don’t expect everything to go perfectly even with weeks of practice.  Unless you decided to clip a really large segment of your horse as practice, you’re going to be clipping in longer stretches than you ever practiced for on your clipping day.  Murray’s response, for the last two years, has been to come out the gate with his mind firmly set that this was bullshit.  So he was extra hateful.  But I just made like we were practicing and started with small sections and kept going.

Murray got worse before he got better, and wiggled and danced and evaded a fair bit until I laid down the law.  Murray is willing to expend a really, really, ridiculously large amount of effort in figuring out new and inventive ways to not do the thing he doesn’t want to do (even though it would all be easier if he just fucking did it).  Sometimes, he just needs a reminder that trying to pull back and run off is straight up unacceptable and so is biting me in the fucking head while I’m clipping his chest.

img_20161016_130720This hair tie helped keep me going

4. Regret your choices — keep going anyway

At some point, you’ll reach the point of no return.  This was actually highly beneficial for me, because it made me more motivated to get Murray to stand the fuck still and actually behave.  I tied up his hair so that I could get a clean mane line, started going for the belly (a curiously not-that-ticklish zone, and oh-so-gratifying to watch the hair fall away from) and Murray generally decided that life was okay.  I still had a pocket full of treats, and gave him one occasionally, but at this point I could get into a good clipping routine and just mash away.

img_20161016_144430Boom goes the dynamite. Murray’s face looks terrifying.

5. Stand back and admire your handiwork!

Honestly, these are the things that responsible breeders and yearling-raisers do to their young horses in order to teach them to tolerate new, terrifying things like clippers.  And yes, many horses are more reasonable than Murray.  But if you’re looking to me for help, your horse is probably not much more reasonable than Murray, is he?!

revelations all over the place

This has been a good week for revelations.  On Tuesday I had a little pre-jump lesson jump school.  These days I like to pop Murray over anything new and weird in the arena before our actual jump lesson so that during my trainer’s valuable time I can focus on jumping exercises, not teaching my horse how to get over a flower box that OH GOD IT MOVED FROM LAST WEEK’S LOCATION.

spankAhem. Yeah.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to bring a little more dressage lyfe into my rides in the jump saddle so that rules and expectations are more clear.  Things like yielding to the outside rein, proper transitions from the hind end, etc. etc.  I hear it will also help our jumping!

Thanks to a conversation with a friend on Monday, I realised yet another thing that Murray has incidentally trick-trained me into doing, which is riding back to front, especially through the transitions.  When I sit up and put my leg on for a transition more often than not Murray sucks back and/or hollows his back and pops his head up.  My natural instinct after that is to wiggle him back down into the connection (because inevitably my reins are too short), and then there’s no transition.  So my choices are between a shitty, hollow transition, or no transition at all — but a proper transition coming from the hind end simply isn’t one of the options.

Instead of focusing on Murray’s face, which is what he “wants” (who know what that horse really wants), I should instead focus on his hind end and getting that transition to happen in a forward fashion.  I tried it a few times, and it was ugly, but it got better as I rode.  So that was neat.

Another revelation came during my canter-trot transitions, when Murray would lean heavily into my hands and almost curl under.  In the past, Murray has occasionally done this to avoid holding himself up and get on the forehand, but more recently he’s just been really heavy in my hands after down transitions.  Since I want him to be more comfortable in that “heavy contact” place, I figured I should let him stay there — in balance, of course — and not bump him up off my hands as has been my wont in the past.

trotthis is probably as curled as he actually is, it just feels insanely curled/heavy to me

Additionally, as we were trotting a circle in this new, heavy contact I notice myself crossing my right hand over Murray’s withers to stop him from falling in so much.  I know that is verboten, but I didn’t realise it was something I did (or maybe it’s not really, except when Murray is really heavy and falling?).  I tried to consciously release my inside rein and push Murray over with my inside leg instead.  It wasn’t terribly successful as he’s quite over that right shoulder and very good at ignoring my right leg, but at least it was more correct.  I hope that with more improved human position (which I forgot to work on during my last few rides, whoops) I can get a higher quality bend out of Murray, and start to chip away at that laterality.

So that’s three new things I learned in one ride!  Four, actually, but the fourth one I will talk about tomorrow.

fake less, expect more

Despite my efforts to appear otherwise, Murray and I have totally been in a riding slump.  I’m not totally out of my not-really-riding mode, and with the batshit schedule I’ve been juggling lately, the quickly rising darkness, and Murray’s level 10 filth at all times thanks to advanced fluff it’s been easy to default to not riding.  So we’ve not made exceptional progress in the fitness or muscle building department (though the fluff is certainly making Murray look more muscular).

The other day I had the pleasure of Megan coming up to visit and, while she was watching me ride, she made a very interesting comment.  Paraphrased: while Murray has made progress in accepting and moving into the contact, he still isn’t totally there and has just found a new place to “fake it” and set his head.  But when he actually moves up (or down) in to the contact he moves better and more correctly, and actually uses his body.

dress-4Ah yes.

I have known for a long time ever that Murray is not comfortable with contact or (honestly) submission, and that our dressage relationship was a tenuous compromise.  For a million reasons — he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t wanna, he doesn’t think he should have to, it’s a little uncomfortable, it’s a lot uncomfortable, dressage is stupid, etc. — Murray is naturally tense.  But that tension isn’t going to work for us if we want to do real derpssage, so we have to get past it.

So one more thing I need to do to get Murray working more correctly is to convince him to not just accept the contact but to lean in to it.  When he is practically “leaning” on my hands is when he is using himself the best, so that is the place I need to get him to.  Easier said than done, sometimes.

If Murray’s in an incredibly compliant mood, like he was at the JM clinic, then I can put a fair bit of pressure on him and get some really good results.  He’ll connect to both reins (helped by the counter flexing that JM had me using in that exercise), understand the half halts, and push from behind for not insignificant periods of time.  If he’s feeling a little sassier, he might give me the old middle finger in that special kind of way he does.

kickslowOn Sunday he gave me forty seven flavors of tiny, shitty trot before connecting to either rein or moving out into anything resembling a working trot.  I worked at keeping my body really correct after reading a piece about laterality and handedness, and predominantly worked Murray’s stiff side (with lots of walk breaks).  Murray did not appreciate my positional overcorrection and avoided the connection to the right.  Once we switched to the left though he was in full denial, throwing his body all kinds of sideways to avoid the connection.  At one point his trot was so tiny and stilted I didn’t even know why I was bothering to post.

Eventually he worked out of it, and I got some good connection in both directions.  It took nearly 40 minutes, and I was filled with equal parts despair and joy.  On the one hand, goodie for me, building the connection.  On the other, how will I ever warm up for a dressage test if it takes us an unknowable number of minutes between 10 and 40 to get to a functional working connection?!

wp-1449989989647.jpgThis ridiculousness is truly infuriating, because I know that the good trot is in there and it probably takes less effort than crazy sideways garbage.  But (for once) I did not lose my temper, and that helped me come to another realization: when Murray is tense, bullying him “out of it” is not going to mad productive, long term changes.

(wait for it)


So even though this is annoying, it’s actually given me a much more concrete goal and rejuvenated my dressage feelz!  Now I have a new thing to focus on in both the short and the long term!  Every ride I need to get Murray moving in to that contact, while staying straight, and then pushing his trot out.  I can’t let him trick me into thinking too much about his face either, because if I’m having connection problems it probably has more to do with what’s going on behind us than up front.

New goals. They are the spice of my life.


Weird dreams are my wheelhouse.  I’ve had incredibly vivid, often recurring, and (fortunately) lucid dreams for my entire life.

For example, one particularly common one from my younger years involved me running away from a T-rex through a specific part of the private school I attended in Australia.  I was running and running and running, but of course, nothing could get me further from my impending doom.  So I would wake myself up because frankly, it’s not worth it to be scared in your sleep.

Image result for t rex jurassic parkNo, I definitely did not watch too much of this movie as a child (or an adult).

I’ve also had lots of strange, strange dreams about horse things.

When I was younger and didn’t ride, I would dream about everything that led up to riding.  I’d carefully groom and tack up a horse to go on a trail ride, but right as we were about to get on I would be woken up to go to school, or snap out of the dream.  EPIC disappointment.  Sometimes I’d go back to sleep and try to replay the dream from the beginning just to get to the riding bit, but of course I’d never get there.  My brain simply didn’t have the data to fabricate a dream about riding, so it wouldn’t.

IMG_3149Because what brain could really fabricate the shit that ACTUALLY happens to me?!

These days my riding dreams involve a fair bit of actual riding, some general interactions with horses, but mostly an absolute ton of weird shit that just would never happen.

Fairly frequently, especially since I competed my first event, I dream that I’m about to go out on cross country but my horse isn’t with me.  Instead, I run the course on foot and jump all the fences on all-fours.  Shockingly there was never a question of whether or not I made time.


I also dream a lot about being late for my dressage tests.  I don’t know why this is so much more important for dressage than other phases, but it is.  Usually it’s just your standard running-late ridiculousness — I’m not tacked up, Murray isn’t groomed, I’m still getting dressed etc. during my ride time — but sometimes there are extra weird things.  Murray will disappear out from under me right as I’m supposed to go into the ring.  I’m lost at a show grounds and can’t figure out where to go.  The funniest one involved me shopping at a really oddly laid out Jo Ann’s fabric for stock tie material, from which I had to then make my stock tie, no more than 45 minutes prior to my ride time.

Even in these dreams I’m like “this is ridiculous!  This is completely ridiculous! I  would never do that!”  Sometimes I don’t wake myself up*, just to see what my idiotic dream self is going to do with the situation.

Most recently I dreamed that I was XC schooling with friends (a very particular group and I knew all the friends and horses, and that part alone was fascinating!).  We were having a lovely time schooling until we got to a funny table that is present on the Camelot XC course (though we weren’t schooling at Camelot at the time; not sure where we were).

IMG_3806This table, to be exact. And it’s bigger than it looks, seriously.

The table was placed on a funny downhill-ish approach, and all of our horses were having trouble with it — everyone had stops.  So we went back up the hill a bit to re-approach.  First, my RBF went to it, and instead of jumping it she somehow ended up laying face down on the jump, planking it (like the fad, not the exercise).  She wasn’t hurt, though her horse was nowhere to be seen.  We walked up to her and asked what had happened, and she said “Oh, I thought I’d try something new as we came up to the fence.”

I personally will not be trying that particular new thing any time soon!

If you have weird horse dreams, I wanna hear them!

* Throughout this post I’ve mentioned waking myself up from dreams, which is something I’ve always been able to do, and until my late teens didn’t realise not everybody could do.  It’s as awesome as it seems, but as far as superpowers go, it’s pretty weak overall.