The first time I went down a bank it was on my first horse, Sheena. I had trailered in to a friend’s barn to go trail riding. Instead, being young and stupid, we went to play on their XC course without permission. (I know. I know.) They had a bank complex and Sheena, who was not willing over anything higher than 2’6, dropped down a huge training bank with no questions.

The second time I rode a bank it was with Dandy. It was his first XC school and I wasn’t just asking him to go down his first bank, I asked him to go don’t his first bank into water (granted, a small bank). Dandy was a very brave horse but he went cautiously down the bank his first time. Dipping his foot in cautiously which led to one of my favorite pictures.

So when I started working with Gus, I didn’t give a second thought to going down banks. I had had two horses who didn’t think twice about it, why would Gus? Oh but Gus did think twice and thrice and even a fourth time about going down banks.

We would school it one weekend and be fine but the next time we saw a down bank it would be like he had never seen it before, even if it was the exact same bank. So I think it’s a little understandable that I started developing a complex about them. I just didn’t know what I was going to get at any one time.

Then at our XC schooling before Full Gallop we came across a small bank complex. While getting Gus to move out of the way I asked him to step down the most baby of baby banks there ever was. It was basically a pole with an extra two inches on one side. He balked. And continued to do so until we got a lead over with another horse.

What. The. Hell.

So we schooled it. Over and over again. Moving up to the next size as Gus got more confident and was willing to go down at a trot and then at a canter. And I got schooled too for not leaning far enough back and not keeping my legs on. All very fair criticisms but I was just more frustrated at Gus more than anything. Why do we constantly have to redo this? We have no problems going up banks. (Or, at least, Gus has no problems, I’m a mess and can’t coordinate myself, but he takes care of me.) But with down banks I feel like we start over at stage one every single time. It’s frustrating and it certainly puts a dent in my confidence.

At least when Gus does get to the going down part he at least jumps down nicely instead of launching himself. Small victories?

Eventually we were going down the Novice size bank and LT moved everyone over to do a Novice size Training Question: downhill to a brush fence and then three strides to a down bank. She told me I didn’t have to do it unless I wanted to and I did not want to, did I? I mean it looked kind of fun but it was a down bank after a downhill jump. Oh, what the heck, I told myself. Worst case scenario is that he stops again.

But he didn’t! Because I actually rode the fences Gus quietly hopped over and then down for me.

I was pretty pleased with myself. We can ride banks! At least for now.


Sheena chilling out after a trail ride.

Shortly before my 15th birthday, my parents bought me my first horse. She was a 13 year old quarter horse appy cross named Sheena and I adored her. Horrible things were going on during this time. 9/11 had been only a few days before and only a short time later, my dad was laid off from his job. If you know me, you also know that I’m a terrible worrier and always have been. I felt horrible for having my horse and costing my parents so much money when things were tight. I started working at the barn to pay off part of my board and I saved all my babysitting money to purchase my own equipment.

At the same time, however, I loved having my own horse and I loved Sheena. She was a hot head and super stubborn (thank you appy cross!). She hated leading on trails or riding by herself. She was also a pretty dirty stopper and it didn’t really raise confidence in my own ability!

Sheena and I with our trainer, Shelly.

The winter after I bought her, we moved stables to a place closer and more English focused. I started training with Shelly and did a lot more dressage. Sheena became a better horse and I a much better rider, though I never really trusted her. Out on trails, I couldn’t gallop her without her taking off. She spooked at stupid things. At our very first hunter show she refused to go over a jump that faced the judge in the corner!

But through all of this, I loved her. She had great gaits, was easy to ride bareback and was generally an uncomplicated horse. If I did fall, she always stopped and waited for me. I have a very distinct memory of opening my eyes, flat on the ground, and seeing her hoof directly above my head.

Honestly, as a kid I thought we were invincible. We galloped in the field, bareback, with just a halter. We rode up and down the roads by ourselves. We jumped outside in the pouring rain. All things that would now make me cringe. And Sheena took care of me. She was honestly the perfect horse for a young horse crazy girl.

Senior Photo
Senior Photo
Another Senior Photo. We were trying to do the whole lay down across her back thing… Sheena had other ideas!

Eleven years ago, my parents bought me a horse. I had to sell her my second year of college and I’m choosing to believe that she found a happy easy life. Miss you Sheena!

Merry Christmas!

A Balanced Diet

I had a very serious¬†informative discussion today with JD about feeding, supplements and wormers for Dandy. When I owned my first horse, Sheena, I didn’t think a lot about this. She didn’t get ridden as much as Dandy would and she was always a good weight and healthy. Until I sold her, that is. But that’s a different post.¬†Anyway, I don’t want to start things off wrong with Dandy. I want to make sure he’s putting on the weight he needs and is getting off on the right foot.

SmartPacks are such a God send. I know it’s not that big of deal to just scoop out all the individual things, but I am lazy. So SmartPacks are my plan. Though might depend on getting a job if I get to do all the supplements I want.

Ideally, this is what I want in my SmartPack in order of importance:

Weight Gain: Fat-Cat
It’s got great reviews on the website, plus the founder of the Minnesota Retired Race Horse Project swears by it. That’s enough of a recommendation for me! Even better, it fits in my budget.
Cost: 13.95 (0.50/day)

Ulcer & Gastric: TractGard
I don’t know for sure that Dandy has an ulcer but he’s an OTTB so he likely does. And if not, he’s probably more susceptible to them. JD recommended this one.
Cost: 13.95 (0.50/day)

Joint Supplement: HylaRX Complete
I know nothing about joint supplements but this one has glucosamine, chondritin and hyaluronic, apparently the three best things for joints. While Dandy is not jumping yet, I want to make sure he stays sound because he’s already had a lot of pressure put on his joints as a racehorse.
Cost: 53.95 (1.93/day)

Hoof Supplement: Biotin Plus
This is probably the least important of the four, however, I strongly believe in keeping a horse barefoot so I want to keep his feet nice. Especially now that we’ve moved to the desert.
Cost: 28.95 (1.03/day)

On a completely different note, Dandy has left MM Stables! The shippers picked him up today and they just have one stop in Kansas City before they bring him all the way out here. This must have been the trip from hell for them and I’m just so glad that he’s finally on his way.