alternative pony facts

It’s time, friends. I’m going there.

Alternative pony facts.

Perhaps we should blog hop this?


Fact: Murray is jumping like a deranged moose.

Alternative fact: This horse has incredible jumping form. It’s just the best.  It’s the best jumping form I’ve ever seen. The best jumping form in the world. Nobody has jumping form better than Murray.


Fact: Spot might kill you for a chicken nugget.

Alternative fact: Spot hates alfalfa and treats. In fact she’s the least food motivated horse ever. Nobody hates treats more than Spot.


Fact: Murray is going to bumblingly his way over an 18″ pole.

Alternative fact: This horse is so good.  Look at him leaping over that pole!  He doesn’t want it to touch his feet. He would never touch a pole with his feet.  That pole is probably three feet, no, four feet in the air!  Nobody is more careful than this horse.

nap-02nap 01

Fact: Murray is one lazy sucker.

Alternative fact: Murray is the most active horse with the best work ethic ever! This horse never sleeps! He’s always up and about, doing things, always working, always trying, always thinking.  Nobody sleeps less than Murray.

tiny horse

Fact: Horses are money pits that make their owners crazy in many ways

Alternative fact: Horse are a reasonable and budget-friendly hobby.  Everyone can afford horses!  And everyone who rides horses is totally reasonable and sane.  They would never do anything crazy for their giant pets. Nobody is more reasonable than people who ride horses.


Fact: … and they are constantly trying to kill themselves, requiring alarmingly specialized care for a giant pet

Alternative fact: Horses are so easy to keep, never do anything strange, and can be left unattended for long periods of time.  An idiot could keep one!  Nothing is easier to keep than a horse!

sunday funday

Murray got some much-needed turnout this week, after a week of being locked in because our pastures were partially flooded from the rain a few weeks ago.  Murray took full advantage by rolling seven times, high fiving himself and the air repeatedly, and then galloping around at full speed with his friends.

wallOh and also licking the wall for like ten minutes.  Not sure what that was about. (Murray ignored his himalayan salt lick for the last six months and literally just started on it yesterday. After two other horses who borrowed his stall briefly had taste tested.)

play01Such a graceful and athletic beast

His butt looks HYUUUUGE compared to his little pin head!

play06run free!

Synchronized rolling with his bestie Cormac…

play02And later, synchronized bucking!

play05Also, some light/casual levitation

play04After indoor playtime Murray got to go out in the big grass pasture with his friends for half an hour or so. This promptly turned into “a few hours” because somebody wouldn’t let his pasture mate’s owner catch him.  Our barn manager had to go stand at the gate for him to acquiesce to coming in for his dinner.


Murray, I love you.


nobody falls off the back of a horse

Picture, if you will, Nicole and Murray cruising around a 4 acre pasture after their ride.  It has rained recently, but not in the last day or so.  The grass is green and growing, the ground is soft, and the world smells fresh and clean.

There is an American kestrel sitting on the fenceline, staring intently into a small willow bush.  This fascinates Nicole, our avid young naturalist.  She steers Murray toward the hawk with her knees — riders in fantasy stories always steer their horses with their knees.  Also, she steers with her knees because she is holding her phone in one hand.  Inside the willow bush, starlings are chirping noisily.  The Cooper’s hawk is absorbed in the commotion.

Murray is not interested in the kestrel. He is thinking about grass. Or perhaps water.  Maybe his friend Logan. But definitely not birds.

The pair turn away from the kestrel before getting too close.  They do not want to disturb it.  The kestrel chooses this moment to jump into the willow bush, pouncing upon its prey.  The bush shakes as the birds scuffle within it.

Murray hears the shaking bush – rather, he hears a nineteen foot tall monster shaking ten foot willow trees at him in hot pursuit.  The monster is right behind him.  He does the only thing a sensible creature would do in such a situation.  He runs.  Murray feels that he runs with the speed of the wind.  He runs with the force of a thousand hurricanes. In reality, Murray runs like a small, not-terribly-fast ex racehorse who is a little chubby and not really in shape right now.

Nicole is surprised by the sudden acceleration.  Surprised enough that she loses her seat and is laid out flat behind her saddle for a moment.  She still has a hold of the reins, but has lost both of her stirrups and all semblance of control.  She slides off Murray’s right haunch, holding on to the reins longer than she probably should in a desperate hope to stop the bolt.  She lands on the soft earth and skids through the wet grass, glad she put on her windproof breeches.

Murray reaches the end of the pasture and stops. Nicole is not with him. He turns. Nicole is on the ground. And behind Nicole… there is no monster. There is just a small, insignificant willow bush that isn’t even moving.

He walks back to Nicole. He does not step through his reins. He does not stop to eat grass. He is a good boy.

Nicole makes Murray an extra big bucket.

The American kestrel smiles over its breakfast of starling.



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.

pop songs that are secretly about horses

(Prescript: I had actually intended to add a bunch more songs to this post, but I fell asleep instead. I’ll just have to finish it another time!)

I don’t really know what pop stars are thinking when they write their songs, not being a pop star myself.  Though there are, of course, some obvious ones.  But, unbeknownst to many pop stars, they are actually writing songs about horses and riding.

Yes, it’s true.  And here is the evidence.

Case the first: George Harrison, Got My Mind Set on You.

The lyrics include (and may be limited to):
I’ve got my mind set on you x 1000
It’s going to take money. A whole lot of spending money. It’s going take a whole lotta money, to do it right now [child].
It’s going to take time. A whole lot of precious time. It’s going to take patience and time, to do it (do it x 6) right now.

What else takes a firm mindset, money, patience, and time?!

IMG_20150124_130840It’s gonna take a whole lot of money…

John Legend, All of Me

The lyrics include:
I’m on your magical mystery ride, kicking [me] out, what’s going on in that beautiful mind
Love your curves and all your edges, All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me, I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning, Even when I lose I’m winning
‘Cause I give you all of me, And you give me all of you

When we were at a wedding I actually told my boyfriend that this song was about me and Murray.  He was like “What songs are about us?” and I was like “ummm… the one before was about me and Ellie?”

But for real, as many equestrians have already noticed, this song is about a pretty badass partnership, that has both unconditional love and great cooperation.  If that doesn’t describe the best parts of an equine partner, I don’t know what does.

One Republic, Counting Stars

For the eventers out there, the lyrics include:
I’ve been loving losing sleep thinking about the things that we could be,
I’ll be counting stars (like CCI 1*, 2*, 3*, etc.)
I feel something so right, doing the wrong thing,
I feel something so wrong, doing the right thing, (making new habits is hard)
Everything that drowns me makes me want to fly (ok, maybe this is not super relevant)

Who doesn’t spend their nights thinking about the big jumps they might get to jump?  I MEAN REALLY.

a few things I’ve learned…

… from quitting riding for 4-6 weeks at a time twice in the last five months OR

Quickly become fat, unfit, and unmotivated, in just one easy step!

Eat these to reward yourself for working on your thesis…

I have been making many joyous adult decisions lately, some related to making up for current funemployment, some related to avoiding future funemployment, some related to just finishing up my thesis — which is finally, actually, really happening.  Unfortunately, this means that a lot of days I forgo riding because even though I technically have time to ride and get my work done, I know that if I ride first my work will not get done so… I don’t ride.  And now I will share with you some of the wonderful things I have learned in this time.

There are extra hours in the day
When I was working on my thesis back in March there were suddenly all of these extra hours in my day… like, these weird, daylight hours when I was in my house and working and the sun hadn’t gone down yet and there was all this time… I gained like three hours a day.  It’s much more effective than daylight savings, let me tell you.

I became so unfit I legitimately needed a break between two jump courses
So when you go from riding six+ days a week and assorted barn chores + mucking/feeding on occasion to sitting on the couch and taptaptapping away at your laptop instead you will go from being fit (at least riding fit) to feeling like fat bastard.  It is really embarrassing when you can’t even get around the second half of your course when told to because you need a walk and huff and puff break.

Your event horse might get a hunter bod
Murray looooooooooooooooooves his vacation time.  He became a professional napper during my March hiatus, and again when I was in Australia, and the last two weeks, and basically… all the time now.  Even after I ride he eats about half a bucket, cruises out to his paddock, paws around for a moment in the fluff, and knocks right out.  It’s amazing and adorable, and his topline kinda slowly melted away, gravity pulled it toward his belly, and my lithe, mean, fit, eventing machine is looking kinda portly in the belly region.  It’s okay.  I think it’s cute.

profile2I can haz belly now

Wanting to work hard is… hard
This is especially hard for me to admit, since I’m usually really goal oriented and pushing forward to progress — at least in some area of my riding and Murray’s training.  But when you ride one day a week (or less) and you’re struggling just to find time to schedule lessons, wanting to work hard or go out of your way to make lessons is really hard.  I never really understood when people were just… uninterested in progressing, but I think I get it now.  Part of it is that it’s challenging to try to eke out your little dribs and drabs of progress when there are four or fourteen days between your rides.  And if I don’t feel like working on something with my horse, then why not work on my thesis and let Murray take the day off?

But things are looking up.  The end is drawing near — I flat out refused to pay tuition in the Fall so I will either be a Doctor or a seventh-year-grad-school-drop-out come October.  And either way, I WILL HAVE TIME.  AND A SCHEDULE.  Hopefully a schedule that is not a piece of absolute shit.

Murray does not know this, but hard work is coming…


That Red Mare: Overly Honest Ads

Daaaaaaaaaamn Cathryn!  Back at it with the on point blog hops!


Offered for your careful consideration, 2009 OTTB Ima Looking Cool, aka “Murray”.  Murray is a 16.2 hand bay thoroughbred who was an utter failure at racing, due not only to his small size at the time of his races (15 hands during his 2-year-old year), but also his lack of focus during training, hatred of the start gate, and refusal to be ridden by anyone but a single female jockey.  This was not for lack of trying, however — the kid is fast.  Which you will very quickly discover if you ever ride him on cross country, turn him out after a few days locked inside, or take him away from home where he will escape your control and run away from you.


Murray is coursing 2’9″-3′ and has free jumped over 4′ at home, but only when psychologically tricked into thinking the fences were 3’3″ or smaller.  In actual fact, this only happened once, as the second time we attempted to free jump him he went screaming through the chute then galloped around the arena for ten minutes and refused to be caught.  See above re: he’s really fast.  Under saddle Murray is really a very straightforward jumper.  He will let you know early and often that if he doesn’t want to jump a fence, so you will become very quick with the whip and develop a really fantastic seat.  If he does want to jump a fence you really don’t have to worry about it — he’ll pull you to it and save your ass every time you miscalculate your distance based on your previous experience with him.  Fortunately, Murray is incredibly quick with his front end and can get himself out of trouble easily; he can jump from basically on top of a fence and still make it over.  Also, will jump absolutely anything up to 2’6″ from a stand still.

Murray has some natural dressage talent, but is unwilling to push with his hind legs, bend his hocks, or come into the bridle without a lengthy warm up.  He is incredibly smart and will memorize his dressage tests after 2-3 run throughs, so at least you won’t need to remember them yourself.  Murray’s cute face and pathetic expressions win lots of points with judges and clinicians, so you’re bound to gain some sympathy points, especially after they see you sit a buck or two.  Dressage tests will never be boring again, I promise.


Loads, clips, ties, and bathes.  Details: Murray will load onto absolutely any trailer ever, as long as you don’t screw up the angle putting him in the last slot on a slant load, at which point he will stand there with two feet in the trailer and look back at you with great consternation.  He does consternation well.  He clips, provided you are willing to outlast his objections and wiggling and get to the point where he regretfully succumbs to his fate.  He kinda ties.  You can’t really tie him, as he might freak out, rear, and/or pull back, but he can also untie blocker rings and many safety knots.  Does not cross tie, just don’t even try it.  Bathes provided warm water is available, will depart rapidly if cold water is the only option.  No stable vices, unless you count shitting in his water bucket if he’s kept in his stall without turnout for more than two days at a time.


Murray is the definition of an honest horse — he wears his heart on his sleeve and lets you know what he is thinking absolutely whenever he is thinking it.  These unfiltered thoughts and opinions will come to you as a combination of velociraptor screams, sideways/backwards steps, bucks, leaps, and occasional violent throwing of himself upon the ground.  No rear, kick, or bite though!  Murray is very respectful of rules that are laid down firmly and consistently, as long as he doesn’t think that they are stupid or are preventing him from eating grass.  If the latter is the case, he will consistently test your rules, occasionally while maintaining eye contact and then become deeply offended when you punish him for breaking a rule.

Murray will teach you the patience of a stone and the creativity of Andy Warhol as you work out the best strategy for getting a girth on him.  Consider this a positive aspect of his personality — we could all use a little more patience and creativity (and supple — we ALL need more supple).  Great horse for a blogger — you will never lack for content or entertaining media.

sidewaysExtremely talented at lateral movements and backing — can go from 500 mpm forward to backward in 1 second.  Possibly too talented.  Has changes — not auto but willing to do one-tempis any time he feels like it or is upset in any way.  Very flexible lower back when he feels like using it.

murrybuckSpritely, fun, and cheerful, Murray is a once in a lifetime horse for the teenager with a good attitude and great sense of humor!  Like a good wine, Murray gets better with time, so a lengthy trial will be an option (I took 18 months).  Come and meet him today — as long as you’re not too manly.  Murray doesn’t really like men, or women who are really dominant, or anyone who has ever wronged him.