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Preview: Tails of the Off Track Thoroughbred

Tails of the Off Track Thoroughbred





Updated: 2017-11-16T19:40:33.299-08:00

 



Winter is coming!

2017-11-16T19:40:33.330-08:00

Winter may be coming, but GOT is a year+ away!  Anyway, I digress ...Quiet few months riding wise for us.  We have managed a minimum of 1 ride per week EVERY week so far, but the temps are dropping colder, and the dark is coming on faster.  3 weeks ago, we finally went more than 60 miles!  Our default ride seems to be 55-70 miles.  We headed west and went through the Big South Fork Rec area, then up into KY for a little.  Dropped back down into TN by way of I-75 and got stuck in HELLISH traffic :( We headed out towards Oakridge and went steadily North towards the KY/TN border.  The Big South Fork area is soooo beautiful!  It's a haven for hikers and kayakers, and for motorcyclists! I love that ride because it's more country side type riding vs. mountain riding or straightaways.  It's nice, easy curvy roads with not too much elevation.  There are a few wicked turns and twists, and the road was every bit as challenging as I remember it being, but where as I was a little bit intimidated last time, now I felt light years more confident!Khaleesi is such an amazing machine.  As she has broken in, I love her every bit as much now as I did that first time I sat on her in the church parking lot.  Turns are effortless, the ergonomics are perfect, and there is power to spare.Surprisingly, we were a few weeks away from peak color; it started out as a brisk morning, but the day warmed up beautifully.  We got a bit of a late start because I wanted to dart into Cycle Gear to get some warmer gloves (which I didn't even need ... my hands started to SWEAT in them).  Normally, we're on the road by 7/8:00.  Today, it was more like 10:00. KY was different to ride in ... the particular area we were in actually wasn't that special.  It just happened to be the area we ended up in on David's chosen route, but I still really enjoyed myself.  Not a whole lot of particularly challenging roads; no Snake, or Dragon, or Rattler ... we did hit one or two roads that at the end, we pulled up beside each other and laughed with joy.  To me, that's a perfect ride!I no longer critique my every move.  Khaleesi and I move as one most of the time.  I don't stall her, I don't have issues or problems turning left or right, and my tight right hand switchbacks?  No longer an issue :)  My back does get tired after about 200 miles; I feel like I'd really like reduced reach handlebars.  My upgrades wish list is floorboards, highway bars, Daymaker headlight, light bar with baby Daymakers, upgraded pipes, a custom seat, and reduced reach handlebars.  Not the kitchen sink!  My total mileage is around 7500 miles ... my goal is 10K+ in my first year.  I've got until April to make that goal!After about 200ish miles, we were both starting to fade a little.  It was getting late, it was Sunday which means no "day of rest", and even though our track was fun, I knew what was to come, and it was about 3 more hours. That was when we decided to jump on I-75 S ... and hit total roadblock!  I lasted about 20 minutes of sitting there in 2-5 mph traffic, and I was DYING.  Khaleesi was blowing out leg blistering heat, and my left hand was cramping so badly I was reaching over to hold the clutch with my right hand.  I told David I HAD to get off that damn interstate. We finally did, found a back road that was decently fun, wound our way back to the interstate, and blasted back home.  I went through my least favorite spaghetti interchange of I-40 through Knoxville, and we pulled into the garage about ... 7:15.  It was a gorgeous day ... cool start, but ended up low 70's.  300 miles total, felt SOOOO good! 2 60 miler rides, then 100 miles to be detailed soon![...]



Life on two wheels; rollercoaster edition

2017-09-10T18:02:01.529-07:00

4 bikes in the garage can only mean 1 thing ...Today was our first time on a group ride of more than 7 or 8 bikes.  We had a LONG ride planned from Gatlinburg, over almost to Asheville, then back.  We were invited on the ride by a facebook friend I hadn't actually MET yet.  She lives in NC, and when she found out her group was going to be close, she invited us!  The MIL and FIL tagged along as well; they decided to visit us this weekend here in the motherland :DEver been so layered up you feel like the Stay Puft Marshmallow man??We rose at O'Dark 30 per usual and indulged in our riding breakfast fare at the Cracker Barrel.  Drove to the meeting spot in Walland and waited for all to arrive.  A mixture of bikes pulled in, including an Indian Springfield and my friend's white Scout twin :)  We spoke to each other and introduced ourselves officially, then it was time to hit Foothills to the Tail of the Dragon.  Um ... 3/4 of the group decided to leave out before the leader led them ... and they turned the wrong way!  Ooops.  Luckily, my friend had stayed w/ us; we waited a few minutes, and when it became apparent they weren't coming back, we went on (per the ride leader.  Apparently this is not uncommon, lol).My awesome FIL. My steel horse obsession is all HIS fault!Foothills was its usual beautiful road.  For some reason, I was getting pelted with pea gravel.  Very annoying!  I tried to stay offset from David, but I still felt the sting once in awhile. We turned down the road that has the gnarly hills (but not the SCARY road through the Top of the World neighborhood) so we could avoid the rest of the FH traffic.10+ times down the Dragon safe and sound!I tried to "warm up" in prep for the Dragon.  I just never know how it's going to feel.  I always do fine, but sometimes the curves just feel jerky or hard.  David actually cranked down on my clutch cable and tightened it up; my shifting now felt smoother, but my handle is tighter!  I also had to relearn my friction zone b/c it engages further out now.  I did well though, didn't stall her or anything :)  I shook my head, loosened up my shoulders, and opened and closed my hands a few times as we rolled our way down the mountain and to the start of the 319 curves in 11 miles.Twinning!We pulled off to check phones for signals/text msgs since there still was no sign of the other 8 or so bikes.  After a few minutes, we did a bit of a shoulder shrug and went on since everyone knew we'd be stopping at Deal's Gap.  David was behind my friend on her white Scout with me behind him on MY white Scout.  The ride down into NC was absolutely picture perfect.  It was one of the best Dragon traverses I've done; today made time 10 or 11 I've ridden it in the 4 months I've been riding motorcycles.  It could also be a case of practice makes perfect?  Lol, I don't know, but Khaleesi rolled through the curves and the dips on the perfectly banked and well paved road without a single hiccup or botched line.  I didn't touch either of the painted lines, and it seemed super quick that it was all of a sudden over :(Girl Scout and KhaleesiWe were parked for about 3 or 4 minutes, and we saw the rest of the group motor down the hill and into the parking lot, yay!   After shopping at the Killboy store like normal, we hit Moonshiner 28 and took "the long way" to Robbinsville.  We were at the back of the pack since our little group was the new comers, so the ride was a bit slower than we were accustomed to.  It wasn't a bad ride by any means, just different.  The group had split off again; the front half going on with cars getting in between.  We found a gas station once we got to Robbinsville and figured out the restaurant to eat at.  It took a while for all of us to get our food, and by the time WE got ours, most everyone else was finished.  The ride leader decided to shorten the ride since their group had a [...]



How you KNOW you've married your soulmate!

2017-09-04T18:17:14.583-07:00

Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama ... in ONE week!  I know that's nothing compared to these hard core peeps that decide to do cross country trips on their motorcycles, but for us that have only been owners since February/April, that's something to write home about! David's master plan worked beautifully; the rain held off last weekend for our VA trip, and we rode ALL weekend; it was so beautiful!  Monday, we rode to get some lunch here in town, then hit the Alcoa Hwy to visit IMOK to see their Scout Bobber.  Sadly, the bike was already sold, but they did have a Springfield Darkhorse.  Meh ... I'm just not a fan of a blacked out bike.  In fact, when we were shopping for what I thought was going to be "our" bike vs. David's bike, my only requirement is that it was NOT to be black lol.  So the Darkhorse line really doesn't interest or excite me.Upon leaving IMOK, David found a decent back way to come home, so we did get an hour or 2 of riding time in.  Tuesday was "nothing" for me, and Wednesday we took a little trip down 411 to Athens.  Athens is a cute little town; there's a road that runs through there that I have GOT to get a picture of some day; it's this crazy huge mansion type house with silos built in to it.  Very unique!  Fun road through farm land!  Didn't seem quite as curvy in full daylight ;)Thursday was laze at home and watch Netflix day, then Friday we strapped the bikes down nice and tight, then hauled them down to GA where we stayed for a few days with the in-laws.  As soon as we pulled in the driveway, we unloaded the bikes, changed our clothes, and jumped on!  Destination was a BBQ house in Lithia Springs that has the BEST brunswick stew ever.  The in laws jumped on their bikes as well and we caravanned there.  Heck, we ended up riding about 130 miles!  We didn't really detour, just took every back road we could.  Parked them for a few hours, then rode again to dinner.Saturday morning dawned PERFECT.  Kody was able to join us as my lovely SIL was roped into  offered to watch the baby.  We powered down 55 MPH roads into Alabama, hoping to find some curvy roads, but alas ... not to be found!  Veered back into GA, in the general area of where we lived for 11 years (Cartersville) and re-visited some of our old stomping grounds.  Managed to find one or two more curvy roads, then back home.  Ended up being around 180 miles or so.  Rode again to Rockmart for dinner, then came home the "long" way across a hilly back road; there were a few curves to be had, but nothing like what we're used to!Sunday it was driving back home to the MotherLand; didn't get home until around 9 pm, so no motorcycles then!  Today, I put the baby down for his nap, went straight into my room to change, then came to harass the hubs to GO FOR A RIDE!  I said I don't care, it's just a beautiful, perfect day and if you don't feel like riding, I'll just hit Foothills to 129.  He glared at me out of the corner of his eye, and out we went!The ride began with a somewhat familiar route that I take every morning to the babysitter's house ... and then he turned down a road I did NOT know.  A mere 7 or so miles from home, and the curves were already more in abundance than over the entire weekend, lol!  Just proof that the riding is better in the mountains!  Khaleesi and I felt smooth as glass and we moved as one entity through the undulations and twists of the back roads.  We ended up in the nearby town of Farragut where we wandered through the used movie/book store and made a stop by the CLOSED Costco.  We picked our way back towards home using the same, but different back roads, and it was confirmed that David is most certainly my soulmate.  We were in the city square of Friendsville, and came up and over this AWESOME stomach in your throat hill.  As we braked to a stop at the stop sign, both of us[...]



Day 2; in which we earn more stickers and I learn a game changing trick!

2017-08-28T20:43:44.530-07:00

Morning once again dawned way too early!  We headed out in search of a Cracker Barrel since we knew it was going to be an epic day.  The cool weather had me adding an additional jacket under my leather one, and off we went.After stuffing our faces with way too much food, we began the trek to Mountain City and The Snake (Hwy 421).  As we were motoring towards our destination, it took me by surprise when all of a sudden the well paved road broke out into curves and twists.  WAY more technical than BOD; in fact, my concentration was off kilter because I wasn't expecting it.  I shook off the cobwebs and hunkered down and managed to smooth out my turns.  Soon enough, we pulled into a store, and David said that was the Snake.  OH, duh, lol.  It came up way faster than I was expecting!  Like I said, very technical.After a brief stop to pick out a sticker from the store, we continued on down towards Mountain City, VA.  There were still plenty of curves and hills to be had, My brain was in a better place, and I happily twisted the throttle on the exit and making a beeline towards the next entrance.  At our next gas stop, I randomly make mention of my trouble yesterday and my difficulty with deciding whether to use front brake or rear brake when sitting on a hill.  David looked at me funny and said he'd TOLD me what I need to do ***CUE LIFE CHANGING TIP NOW***  When you're sitting there, before you pull out, let your clutch out a little.  Get it RIGHT in that sweet spot of engagement; the bike won't move.  I mean, yes, he'd told me that once before.  It did NOT, however, register what he'd said.  I thought he'd meant to hold front brake and apply throttle (cue laughing like crazy enoticon here).We rode much less exciting roads to Blowing Rock, NC and the beginning for us of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We've driven on it once, but never on a motorcycle.  As we turned on it, we vowed not to stop at every pull off and overlook because we KNOW it's beautiful, but we'll never make it if we keep stopping!It had been so long since we'd driven it, I forgot how it's almost identical to Foothills Parkway.  And there was a lot of driving traffic.  Even though the road has breathtaking views, it began to get a tad monotonous.  The cars were driving under the speed limit, yet stomped on the gas the instant a passing lane came available (cue rolley eyes emoticon here).  The turns all began to feel the same and I got SLEEPY.  I finally began to see signs for Asheville, which was sort of our daily destination; we were heading to a BBQ restaurant we'd seen featured on the Travel Channel.  Finally, our exit came up.As we drove through the streets of Asheville and entered the restaurant, David and I discussed how much we DON'T fit in with all the hipster millenials that seem to own the place, lol!  That place is probably so far left it would be in California if it could.  The BBQ, however, was outstanding.We hit good 'ol Hwy 321 and picked a path towards Maggie Valley.  From 321, we veered off onto Hwy 63 ... to my knowledge, 63 is not any sort of a "named" road, but that baby all of a sudden broke into the mountainous, curvy belly dance!  I was smiling under my helmet as I aggressively pulled my right elbow into my ribs, chasing my husband into the curves.  He tends to pull away and leave my behind; after analyzing in my head, I had determined he leaves me during the "roll" part of the curve.  So, I began "rolling" a little extra hard so I could keep his cute rear in my sights ;)  Soon enough, that road ended and much to my delight, it ended into my favorite; Hwy 209!  The Rattler is THRILLING where the Tail of the Dragon is nerve wracking.  Even though I always do just fine on it, the dragon causes a flood of adrenaline that always leaves me struggling for perfection.  All I could hear was the rise[...]



Day 1: What goes up, must come down!

2017-08-29T07:29:00.220-07:00

It has been a most amazing and unreal weekend!  David and I are off for the next week for vacation.  After waffling back and forth about a weekend in Nashville, or a weekend in Virginia, we decided to brave the weather forecast and ride the bikes to Marion, VA.  Marion is up in southwest VA, not far from Bristol.  We've been dying to ride the Back of the Dragon up in that area, but it's just a hair too far to do as a day trip (unless we wanted to iron butt it, and frankly, we're just not that hard core!)We've never done an overnight on a motorcycle, so we were happy and excited to be doing something new.  In preparation, I decided to take one of Tiki's old sheepskin saddle pads to cushion my hiney.   I barely used the pad on him, as I think it really was too thick under his saddle.  I cut off the billet straps, sewed them to the center edge of the top of the pad, and stitched a piece of grippy drawer liner just under the wither cutout.  Flipped it over so that the seat of my bike just slid through the straps and sat on the bottom of it.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  It worked absolutely perfectly.  I didn't get those seat bone "hot spots" at all, but the extra thickness of the pad did create a little bit of pressure on my knees.  Overall, it was totally worth it!  And it REALLY does keep your seat warmer in cooler weather, and cooler in warmer weather; crazy!5:00 am came way too quickly, especially since we didn't get in bed until midnight!  Strapped the duffel to David's sissy bar, loaded up the saddlebags, and North we headed!  Stayed off the interstate and took Hwy 33 to 25E to Cumberland Gap.  Cumberland Gap is right at the state lines of KY, VA, and TN.  It is some of the most breathtaking, beautiful scenery I've laid eyes on in the south.We headed up the mountain to the Pinnacle Overlook.  Um, we just kept climbing up and up!  Much to my delight, most of the tighter switchback turns were to the right, which meant that coming back DOWN, they'd be on the left!  Relief, lol.  I have thought about how I approach the tighty righties; I get WAY to the left, look way over my shoulder, shift my hips to the left, and think more about pushing forward with my left arm vs. pushing down with my right one.  It's working pretty well because I had not one bad right turn this weekend :DIt was peaceful and quiet on top of the mountain.  Only one other family was up at the overlook and they were friendly.  We gawked and took pics, went to the restroom and hiked up a small hill where we saw some deer, and then it was time to go back down the mountain.  DAAAAAANG!  It wasn't quite McCloud Mountain, but it was close!Yes, this is a real sign at the bottom of McCloud Mountain resort!!Rolled down in mostly 1st gear so I didn't have to burn up my brakes, and headed to our next destination; Tazewell, VA and the start of the Back of the Dragon.  There was this one road.  I had 2 ... um, incidents.  We had turned onto this small, country backroad, and my tripodometer was at 130 miles.  I've never gone beyond 150 miles on a tank of gas, and of COURSE, we had no cell signal.  We'd gotten part ways down the road, and David got nervous that we'd get too far gone and no gas stations.  He decided to cut back over to the main road, get gas, then go back to the back road.  He had his GPS ... that LOVES gravel roads!  The driveway we picked to turn around at was a freaking booger.  It had a sharp drop down with a gravel bottom.  I normally don't have any problems with starting out on a hill, but it rolled back on me so bad since I was at such an angle I almost choked it.  Rolled back more and snatched the brake; foot slipped and almost went over on my right side.  Saved it, breathed deep, held the rear brake with my foot so I could concentrate on coordinating [...]



One long ride and 2 shorties

2017-08-20T20:31:14.089-07:00

Well, Tennessee has fallen back into SUMMER.  Ever since our awesome ride into Kyle's Creek area, it has been low to mid 90's and HUMID. The in laws opted to join us a few weeks ago, and the hubs once again planned out a stellar ride.  We planned to journey southwest, down towards Chattanooga so that when our track was "over", we were both half way home.  We headed to the state park we'd missed on our long, epic ride a few months ago; Fall Creek Falls.  I'll remind y'all that the ride where I dropped Khaleesi was the one where we were headed to Burgess Falls and Cummins Falls, as this little tidbit will become minorly significant later.We all left as a group from our house to head west.  We decided to pay Kody to watch Colton for us as his babysitter was unavailable that day.  When little man woke up, we could definitely tell he was "off", but hoped for the best.We had a late breakfast at Chik Fil A and hit the road.  David and I swept through the curves at a good clip, but certainly not fast.  His parents fell back a little bit, as they do call him a lead foot most of the time.  By now, I'm used to it and keep up because I don't want a ride to lead to an argument, but we hung back a few times to let the others catch up.  We live in the mountains and are accustomed to the undulations and the curves at speed, but the inlaws live and ride in GA where it's a little more flat.We stopped a few times to stretch, get gas, and walk around a little.  We called to check in on the boys, and Kody said he had NOT stopped crying all day.  We offered up a few suggestions as to what he could do and asked if he needed us to head back, and he said no, they would manage.  After several hours, we finally found the park.  It's HUGE!  We found a parking spot and walked around a bit.  Realized the overlook for the falls was on the opposite end of the park, and we could in fact drive around to it, so we did.  As we were pulling out of the parking lot, my MIL got into a bit of a game of "chicken" with another car.  WE had a stop sign, but it was on a curved hill.  When David pulled out and turned right, I didn't hesitate and followed right behind him.  MIL thought about pulling out, stopped, was motioned out, then SHE motioned him on, then HE motioned again, so she went to go, then HE decided to just go on.  When she grabbed the brakes, down she went HARD.   I saw it happen in my mirrors, and I pulled over and parked really quickly, then took off to make sure she was ok.  The car went on; David was out of sight already. By the time I got to them, she was up, and the bike was up, and she was spitting mad.  All that was said was HOW could that car just go on like that?  She was a mix of anger and adrenaline, so her hands were shaking a bit, but fortunately she just had a little road rash on the arm and shoulder.  The brand new floorboards she'd just put on broke off on the right side, but other than that, just had a scratch or 2.  Fortunately, she DOES have highway bars, so she had something to prop her foot on, but I don't see how she'd be able to use her rear brake.  Thank goodness it was the right one and not the shifter board!  We got her situated and back on the bike, and we safely drove over to the overlook where she could park in the lot and go over everything with a little more of a fine tooth comb.  After taking in the waterfall, we motored down into the next town and got gas and food.By this time, it was around 6 pm and we were about 2 hours from home.  Checked in again, and baby was still miserable :(  We pulled off one more time at an overlook that reminded me of this AWESOME state park in Cali called Mt. Diablo.  It was really breathtaking; we just breathed it in, took some pics, and called it a day.  The inlaws headed south, we head[...]



Curves in 5th gear

2017-07-30T16:26:33.030-07:00

Had breakfast in Pigeon Forge at my favorite Apple Barn restaurantOne good ride this week.  I rode Wednesday to work and it was a GREAT day, but nothing special :)  I mean, it WAS special, but I didn't go "the long way" or anything like that.GIANT mothAwesome pic of Khaleesi and Cheyenne outside of Norris LakeSaturday we rode 300ish miles up north close to the KY border.  The teenager had to stay behind due to having all 4 wisdom teeth removed the day before!  He's doing good, but definitely didn't need a helmet pressing against his chipmunk cheeks. The road on the map is called "The Copperhead", but it's made up of several state roads.  Hwys 31, 63, and 66.  The first leg of the road was actually a little bit scary.  Lots of sloppy patch work, open cracks (that my front tire caught a few times), tar snakes, and a crumbling shoulder.  We also had the good fortune (sarcasm) of navigating that stretch behind a tractor trailer.  Um, 15 mph switch backs behind a tractor trailer (cue the Tail of the Dragon pics of shame!).  There WAS road construction, so at least they're fixing it, but it was dodgey riding at first!The mountain leveled out and opened up to 50/55 and we pushed the bikes to about 8 over.  It is flat out EXHILARATING to  sweep through curves at 60+.  A little counter steering goes a LONG way to smooth turns!  The cool air wrapped around our bodies as we leaned and rolled our way towards the next mountain.  I had to rig up a system for my very expensive piece of crap "made in China" Indian helmet.  (that NONE of my local dealers will help me with)  It has a visor that will NOT stay up.  When my speed gets up above 30 mph, the visor SLAMS back down.  I like to have the option of pulling it down while on the higher speed roads, but the rest of the time I like it up so I can feel like I can breathe.  So, I stuck a ... panty liner under the shield to keep it up.  I mean, it worked!  Only problem is then it's in the up position until I pull over and put it back down.  I am completely disappointed in that helmet and I will never purchase another Indian helmet again.  I like my HJC so much better, AND it was cheaper.  Live and learn!Yep, that's a sanitary napkin!:oAt about the half way point, I had my first OH $HIT moment in a WHILE.  We'd approached an intersection, and I did as I always do and backed off.  It seemed as though David was going to keep going straight, so I rolled back on the throttle and THEN he decided to turn left.  I locked Khaleesi down so bad she fishtailed right then left then right again.  David saw me in his mirrors and rolled on down and pulled over.  I managed to keep it rubber side down and we pulled off to the side.  My heart was pounding and I sort of yelled at him a little bit and the look on his face made me back off.  HE wasn't locked down, so I'm not sure why I did.  I wonder if either my tires had something on them, or if I tried to apply the breaks in a sandy area or something.   Our angels were riding with us b/c we safely executed a U turn and continued on our way.We found a cute little spot with actual motorcycle parking to eat a light lunch of fried pickles and potato skins, then pulled up and over the final mountain.  THIS mountain road was FRESHLY paved with nice bright white and yellow lines and not a single tar snake or pothole :)  We smoothly took the turns and hills and before we knew it it was back towards home.  The scariest part of the entire ride is the spaghetti junction like curves of the interstate system to twist around and through Knoxville towards home.  Traffic was BAD and David was flying through like he was driving the truck and not his bike.  In fact, he even had to give me the "speed up" motion but DANG. &nb[...]



In which I step outside of my comfort zone

2017-07-23T13:07:14.711-07:00

Part 2, continuing the journey.  The heat wave continued through the end of the week.  Friday I again fired up the bike and let her float her way to Seymour.  The morning ride is pleasant, it's the afternoon that's brutal.  I left the mesh jacket at home and instead threw on my ATV riding jersey over my scrub top.  Nice and cool on the way there.As my work day progressed, an idea began to take shape.  I was contemplating the same route as Wednesday, but the thought of getting stuck behind a big rig discouraged me from going that way.  Unlike my human GPS husband, I have NO sense of direction.  I have to go known routes, or else I will get helplessly lost.  David and Kody were on their way down to GA which meant my entire afternoon was open.  I ran my idea past the hubs, and  he approved which TOTALLY made my day!  Changed OUT of my scrub top and into strictly my jersey which made for a LOT more air flow.  I joyfully made that treacherous left hand turn, and made my way out to 321.  This time, instead of making a right turn towards Maryville, I made a left turn towards Townsend.  The sign for Foothills Parkway beckoned to me, and Khaleesi pulled me over to that direction.  I joyfully leaned and flew through the curves of the Parkway.  It's a 45 mph speed limit where you can safely push through at around 50 with VERY little traffic.  It goes up into a mountain, and you can feel the cool air push away the heat and humidity of the valley.  It was my first time tackling it solo.  Solo is me, myself, and Khaleesi which to date was ONLY when going back and forth to work.  Don't get me wrong.  I prefer all day long to ride with David.  But he DRIVES for a living.  He's out in his work truck 10 hours a day in the heat and often with no A/C. By the time he gets off, he doesn't FEEL like driving his bike for recreation.  I get that.  Me on the other hand, works in the A/C sitting on my arse all day long.  I'm DYING to get out and feel the freedom of the wind, but since I'm most definitely still a beginner rider, David doesn't want me off gallivanting on my own for long rides ... especially since I have that little problem of being directionally challenged.  But I'm SO thankful that he approved of this ride.  It's familiar, it's challenging without being dangerous, and it fulfills the yearning in my soul to leave behind the aggravations of work and lose it all in the wind.  My compromise is that I don't mind taking a familiar route over and over if it means I get to ride :)Before I knew it, Foothills ended onto Hwy 129.  A left hand turn takes me to The Tail of the Dragon.  A right hand turn takes me home.  With no hesitation, I turned right heading back home.  I kept my speed at a comfortable one somewhere in the vicinity of the speed limit, and before I knew it, Khaleesi was safely snuggled back into the garage, and I'd clocked 80 miles solo on my experience meter.  It was a GREAT ride, ranking below every single ride David and I have taken together, but at the top of all my work commutes.The following evening, Saturday, the boys and I made a beeline to the IMOK dealership to embark on our first group ride.  KSU was 5:30 pm; a welcome time since Saturday dawned again hot and humid.  We dressed as lightly as possible with our lightweight pullovers, and met up with our "mystery" group.  We conversed with other like minded people and soon headed out to Dead End BBQ a quick 15 or 20 minute ride across town.  We enjoyed the food and the conversation, and just an hour and a half later, we were once again left to our own devices.  David devised a bold plan that would test my beginner legs big time.  Our first honest to goodness night ride.  Ye[...]



A week of firsts

2017-07-23T11:24:43.830-07:00

Has it really only been 4 months since this happened?Me being a new rider, many things I experience will be "firsts".  That's what gains us experience, branching out and stepping out of our comfort zone to entice us to grow and learn.  This week was pivotal, growth wise, for me and I am SO grateful!A mere 3 weeks later, hitting the road for the first time!  Indian Demo TruckThe week has brought hot, humid temperatures.  The rain has held off, but the throes of summer have definitely held us hostage!  With Kody working with me this summer, I've only had the opportunity to ride on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Wednesday, I braved the heat and I FINALLY got to take my long way home!  If I'm being completely honest ... it was probably 75% fun lol.  I usually wear jeans/boots and my scrub top under my mesh armored jacket.  My jacket is HEAVY and it's black.  I get a lot of air flow, but the 95 degree temps trump that airflow.I thanked God as I successfully made the treacherous left hand turn out of my office, and down the road I flew.  Tackled a new route coming home; I've driven it in the car COMING to work, but never on the bike and never going in the direction of home.  I successfully negotiated the curves and the bright sun light and made it to the section of road with 2 stop signs; I've been unlucky enough to come down that road on the bike a few times where traffic as backed UP at those stop signs thanks to a big rig "training truck".  I don't know, I guess they make the newbies take that route to make sure they can handle uphill stop signs and a small road.  {Insert grimace face emoji here} Khaleesi's fan kicked on and I could feel the hot air blowing onto my legs.  A bead of sweat rolled down my back under my backpack, and I weaved back and forth slightly to maintain my balance as I crept along at about 2 mph.  FINALLY the traffic opened up at the light, and I decided to stay on my track to take the Big Springs loop, which is the one David took me on a few weeks ago after Colton went to bed; it's about a 25 minute back road loop.  I felt smooth as I negotiated the curves and hills of the road, and before I knew it, I was at the end of it, facing Hwy 321.  Made the right hand turn and kicked her up through the gears to quickly accelerate to 60 MPH and cruised in the hot air until I saw the small blue sign pointing the way to Allison's Catfish Restaurant, which is the side road I turn on to cut back over to Big Springs and connect the loop back home.  Just my luck, I was waved to a stop right in front of the restaurant due to some construction.  I cocked my right foot up to try and relieve the heat as once again the fan kicked on and blew the searing heat towards my thigh.  Finally, they waved us on, and I motored steadily back home.  That was a baby step for me.  Wednesday was a precursor for my Friday ride, which hadn't even fully taken root yet.  Once safely home, after I stripped off my gear, I was sweaty and tired, but I felt happy because I'd finally taken the LONG way home.  Like I said, the loop added about 25 minutes to my ride, so I managed to turn a 30 minute ride into an hour one :) Going to turn this into Part 1 for those that don't feel like reading a novel!  Stay tuned for part 2, released "Netflix" style! ;)[...]



Night riding and staying close to home

2017-07-16T19:30:42.204-07:00

It's been a half way decent week.  Got to ride in to work both Wednesday and Friday.  I've been thinking that I tend to beat myself up over any mistakes I make ... and lately, I'm VERY pleased to say I haven't been making too many.  I've tried to keep my brain firmly planted in the present, always looking out for anything and everything.  I'm VERY interested in looking for continuing educational type classes where I can learn to master those tight cone courses, but I'm a little scared to try something like that with Khaleesi because for me, if I drop that bike it's going to be because I seriously pushed myself out of my comfort zone to learn a new skill.  She doesn't have any sort of highway bars on her, and I don't want to push the envelope too hard right now.  I want to go play in a parking lot just to really OWN and master tight parking lot maneuvers, but haven't yet because of the aforementioned excuses reasons.I've tried not to bug David to take me for a ride; if it were up to me, I'd go EVERY night after putting Colton down for bed for about an hour or so.  I love it SOOOOOO much, and I miss it when Khaleesi just sits in the garage.  He suggested heading out on Friday night for a night ride.  We didn't even leave the house until 10:00.  Definitely a different experience for me!  We headed up 321 to Foothills Parkway, and headed up the mountain.  It was DARK, which was the entire purpose.  To stargaze a little.  Much to my surprise, there was quite a bit of traffic through Maryville for being 10:00 at night.  The pulloffs at FH were also much busier than I expected!  Lots of trucks doing the same thing we were, didn't see any more motorcycles at all.  It was awesome how LOUD the bugs were, the lights over the city were great, and I just WISH we could have snapped a pic of all the stars.  If it had been less overcast we probably would have seen even more, but as it was, the sky was just gorgeous. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='https://www.blogger.com/video.g?token=AD6v5dxcp3xSEaXWtV0X7v6e8vN7aeXD1mjOE6Dfs1P44VxHlm5h3QyH7f9z0dGIT0cTZX2LWYwD1nX9wqOoddwuIQ' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />This morning, we headed out to Pigeon Forge/Sevierville area.  We were a little bit limited time wise, but we made the most of it!  Did 110 miles, about 3 1/2 hours.  Great ride!  We headed out 321 and hit a backroad in Walland that we had done once before the OPPOSITE way.  It was a narrow little off camber road that was so tiny it was practically like a driveway.  Fun!  What I like about it is the fact that it is nice and curvy, but doesn't have any tight switch back turns.  Made our way out past Douglas Lake and stopped at the lovely Busch's Beans factory to take a few pics.  Took 411 from there and turned down the "long way home" road I take from work.  Proud to say I had no issues.  Turns felt amazing, curves I took without laying off the throttle too much, nice smooth stops and starts ... Khaleesi and I are working together very well :D  There's a "mystery dinner" ride leaving out of the Indian dealership next week that I hope we can do.  Planning to ride to work Wednesday and Friday again, and hoping this time I can take the long LONG way home ;)[...]



Church, 'Vettes, and and no rain!

2017-07-09T17:50:56.717-07:00

It has been raining ALL week.  David recommended I ride on Wednesday, and I did ... and lost to the rain on the way home! On the bright side, I'm getting accustomed to the intricacies of handling a motorcycle in less than ideal conditions.  We don't ride in a bubble, have to learn to handle "real world" riding conditions.We went to church today for the first time since moving to TN.  I can't believe we've let ALMOST a year escape without darkening the door of a church, but to be honest, there's SO MANY churches around here that it's overwhelming to try and randomly pick one.  Some personal circumstances in my life prompted me to somewhat throw down the gauntlet this week, and I said we ARE going to church this week.  Kody recommended the one we went to; come to find out, his good friend's dad is actually the pastor.  It was a great service; a much needed refueling for our soul and our spiritual wellness.By the time service was over, the clouds had burned off and we decided to head out on a "short" loop.  Headed west out of the mountains for once.  Found us a nice little loop through the farmlands of Loudon and Monroe counties.We did the "orange" loop into Kingston and back through Lenoir City.  It was awesome!  Did right at 105 miles.  Ran into a huge gathering of nothing but Corvettes.  David did the math, and figured we were surrounded by about 2.5 million dollars worth of vehicles!  We followed the group for a bit; I swear, David kept running off and leaving me, and I wanted to holler at him, "WE'RE NOT DRIVING A CORVETTE", lol.  Fortunately, they pulled off into a large area where they could park and show off their purtiness, and we went on with our ride at a slightly less brisk clip.Most challenging part of our ride was 1 or 2 turns where we were practically doing a U turn when making turns.  David managed to find a side road not far from the house that was so skinny, 2 motorcycles would barely fit passing head on.  It was a beautiful day, albeit a bit warm.  I have discovered that I have a dislike of riding in just a plain shirt, whether it's a T shirt or some other type.  I am most comfortable in my mesh jacket because it's long enough in the back that I don't "flash" my buttcrack, and it's heavy enough that it doesn't flap around in the breeze and irritate my skin.We arrived home uneventfully with me sadly having no plans to ride during the week this week.  Kody has been going to work with me, which means I'm in the car.  I have to take him with me on Wed, which is normally a day he doesn't work, because he has a consult with the oral surgeon just down the street from my office.  David has shown me a short little loop that takes about half an hour that I can do once the baby goes to bed that allows me to stretch Khaleesi's legs a little bit.I'm at 100 days worth of having my license, and almost 3500 miles logged.  I'd say that's pretty good!  No plans this year to do any epic, 1000+ mile road trips.  We'll have to save up for that and maybe plan something like that next year.  Our ride today was great.  No real elevation changes, just out in the middle of nowhere, country, curvy farm type roads.  There were a few 45/55 mph roads that weren't too inundated with traffic that had a few mild curves in it.  They weren't bad; soon enough, it was back to twists.  We had the 'caution, twisty' sign on many of the 45 mph roads with no slower speed posted on it, so we were able to take the curves at the recommended speed, which I find fun.  I don't mind having to downshift and slow down for some curvy sections, but after a while, that can become tiring because you have to concentrate so hard and be so focuse[...]



Dirt roads, wine, and rain showers

2017-07-01T19:16:44.336-07:00

Cheyenne (David's bike) on the left and Khaleesi on the right!So, thinking about posting my ride recaps on my horsey blog!  I no longer own a flesh and blood horse, but I do have a steel one!  In all honesty ... I'm not sure how long I will go without riding horses.  It's been over a year, and to be honest ... I'm not missing it.  If there's any blog readers that haven't toodled over to my more personal blog, since this last riding post, I have had a baby and moved to Tennessee!  We had the baby because we wanted to, and we moved to TN to be closer to family so Colton Maverick would have family around him like Kody did.  February, David got his first motorcycle and we rode together all over the place!  In March, I got my motorcycle license, and in April, I got my OWN motorcycle!  I can't even describe the joy I get out of riding my Indian Scout Sixty.  I've named her Khaleesi and riding her to work makes my whole week!Putting on the boots means I won!  We get to go riding!Today, I talked David into taking me for a ride.  I've always suffered from PVS.  Parked Vehicle Syndrome.  Now, I suffer from PMS!  Parked Motorcycle Syndrome!  I get seriously grumpy and irritable if it's a nice day and all we're doing is just sitting around on the couch.  We didn't buy TWO motorcycles for them to sit cold in the garage!  Our original plan this weekend was to sit and watch movies since the baby is at the grandparent's.  Rain was in the forecast both Sat and Sun.  After coming home early yesterday and sitting for most of the evening watching (boring) tv, when I checked the weather for today, the rain wasn't coming in until after 2.  I had to talk David into taking me for a ride!  I think David had already decided to be in this weekend, and I had to get his mindset in a different spot.The spot I suggested we ride, David said no because it's a holiday weekend, and he was concerned about us spending most of the time sitting in traffic.  Then he suggested we ride Cade's Cove.  Um, talk about a tourist spot?  With stop and go traffic?  He said it shouldn't be too bad since a lot of people are only just now coming into town.  I shrugged my shoulders and said ok!  We've ridden to Cade's Cove together when we borrowed his Mom's bike for a week, but I've never had the chance to ride my own bike there.We went all matchey-matchey in our Jimmie Johnson jerseys and our Marvel helmets.  I usually let Kody wear my Marvel helmet, and I wear my Indian helmet.  On this particular trip, however, we left Kody still asleep in his bed!  It was a nice, easy trip up into and through Townsend.  It was VERY cloudy, but the sun was determined to peek out and chase off the threat of rain.Down came a blackbird?Right at the beginning of the loopThe scrolling marquis sign along the side of the curvy mountain road leading into the Cove reminded us that the loop is closed to motorized vehicles until 10:00.  It was 9:45.  Fortunately (I guess) we were behind a super slow car, so by the time we reached the loop, it was 9:56.  They still waved us around the entrance!  Ugh.  We had to pull around and pull off, waiting for a few minutes.  There were about 100,000 bicycles that we could see all around the park, but it seemed like most of those were packing up.  We U turned to head back to the entrance of the loop, and got caught up in an apparent mama bear w/ her cubs sighting.  We couldn't see them, as they were up hiding in a tree, and the park ranger waved us along anyway.The loop was great for about 3 miles, and then my hand had started to seriously cramp up from working the clutch. [...]



Strapping on the life preserver

2015-04-22T18:24:09.825-07:00

Wow, can't believe it's been almost 2 months since I updated the blog!  I've had QUITE a few good rides, I'm still riding Kiara every Wednesday and LOVING it.  I got to ride Trainer's CCI3* horse a few weeks ago ... NOT at the walk for an hour, but for an hour w/t/c.  He's coming back from an injury and has a very specific regimen of dressage stuff he's supposed to engage in on a daily basis, and I learned what it felt like to REALLY get a 17.1 hand horse trotting forward enough to a good dressage test.  Let's just say it's NOT Like hacking a hunter ;)Did a few gymnastics over the last few weeks.  Cantered through 5 one strides with a placing pole; that was FUN, and good.  The jumps ended up around 3', so a fun ride.  Another gymnastic I did was trot a vertical with 5 placing poles; it began as 2', ended up at 3'6.  WOW!  She was amazing through it, as the jump got higher, I found I could really just sit still and she was right there for me.  The cantering gymnastic was trotting in; a placing pole to an x, one stride to a vertical, one stride to a TALL crossrail, 2 strides to another TALL crossrail.  She was actually pretty spooky, and I really had to work to help her make it through the distance AND keep her from getting wiggly.  Trainer didn't make the last big X an oxer since Kiara is a little ... um, FAT right now.  Besides, she was pretty looky-loo with those tall crossrails.I titled my blog post "Strapping on the life preserver" because today I FINALLY zipped myself into my xc vest!  It has a belt that clicks in the front, and I always feel like I'm putting on a life vest, lol.  I've been riding for a year and a half at a fabulous facility with a FULL xc course, Intro to Prelim, but I've never ridden out on it.  I had a chance once, but it was knowing full well I'd have to be "beating" the horse over every jump, so I bowed out of that one.2 weeks ago, I hacked Kiara down the course and rode her on the tracks between fences at a walk.  Holy heck, she felt like she'd spook and spin right out from under me pretty much every second of the ride.  She spooked at the tall mustard growing, the tall grass, the jumps, the wind, the rustling of leaves ... she felt VERY tense.  I kept at it until she FINALLY stretched down into my hands and took a deep breath.  Back to the barn we went.Today, I showed up when trainer said to, only to be told I was supposed to be ON at that time, not just arriving.  Grrrr. So I had to run to the pasture, grab Kiara, knock the dirt off, and rush rush rush.  I worked myself up a little bit, because I'd hoped to somewhat zen out, but it was not to be.  To top things off, I could NOT find my neck strap, so I grabbed a loose stirrup leather and put it on, but it was much tighter that I typically like; however, it was better than nothing.As we walked down, she was working HERSELF up, head up and snorting.  We made our way down, and she spooked at the other horse that was already down there throwing a hissy fit.  We made our way past the other horse, found a track that wound through the mustard, and picked up a trot.  We approached a series of jumps, and she spooked.  Approached more jumps, another spook.  Kept going, and she finally began to focus on the job at hand.  I made it all the way to the end of that particular lane, and had some room to work back and forth a little.  There was an Intro log right by the start box.  VERY tiny.  Walkable in fact.  So, we walked over it both ways.  She relaxed a little more.  Trotted back the other way with MUCH less spooking this time, turned around, and walked the lo[...]



Fun with a single!

2015-02-26T05:28:07.580-08:00

I had seen this exercise set up in the indoor before ... I just hadn't actually done it before!  It's called "The Diamond".  I'm sure we can add that little phrase after it ... "of death" ;).  At eventing barn, I've been riding Kiara.  She is so awesome, I just LOVE her.  In a lot of ways, she reminds me of Tiki (redhead w/ a mohawk), but other than the fact that she's comfortable to ride, she goes completely differently than he does.She has a bit of a sensitive, (hysterical) side.  She has passing issues just like Tiki did; if you came at another horse head on, he would at LEAST raise/shake his head, at worst, panic a little and put on the brakes/give a little bucky buck.  Kiara, on the other hand, over-reacts.  To say the least.  At best, she will raise her head and put the brakes on; at worst, she slams on the brakes, sticks her head in your face, and spins/bolts.  Yeesh!  She's almost gotten me off 3 times that way, but I'm learning to tune in more to her body language if we're not alone in the ring.  I've been purposely working on the issue, and it is getting a little better, but she will still react fairly violently w/out much warning.That being said, I warmed up in the indoor yesterday at the walk.  Way back when, when I rode her the first few times, she was pretty stiff in the jaw and had a hard time flexing at the poll.  Since that time, she now has not 1, but 2 owners, and the contact has become much more consistent.  So, I kept her in the bottom half of the ring due to another horse longeing, and I played around with moving her both directions laterally off my leg.  She came nice and deep into my hand, and really raised her withers and didn't worry about what was happening at the evil GATE.  Again like Tiki, she tends to lose her shape thru the transitions, so I worked some transitions and focused on maintaining that nice shape.  Trainer came out and set the single as poles; it's pretty self explanatory; it's a single vertical with 2 poles set as a diamond on both the take off and the landing side.  It was set in the short side of the ring.  The goal is to hit the center of all the poles on a figure 8, trotting in.  The poles went pretty well; it's an exercise that you will FAIL at miserably if you try to pull on the face too much.  It's an exercise that really encourages the rider to use leg/look to steer rather than trying to pull, because pulling creates bulging and crookedness; the point of the exercise is to be straight and balanced.After a few circuits thru, up it went as a small vertical.  To add a level of difficulty, the distance is such that you trot in, so in addition to making a super tight turn, staying balanced and straight, you ALSO have to make a downward transition!  I was so proud of her; she focused in on the center of the pole and smartly bounced right thru and up and over the jump.  I worked on landing and NOT pulling, just half halting, balancing, and looking for my turn.  Once it was smooth, walked, and pole went up.  Rinsed and repeated, then walked one more time, then up once more on the height.  We finished up w/ the vertical at 2'9.  Of COURSE  I had to jump up her neck the first time at that height, but subsequent passes thru, I actually did really well w/ sitting tall and waiting on her.  She felt GREAT, trainer was pleased.  We then went with her to "babysit" one of the young sale horses in the 'new' outdoor; it's 200' by 325', so HUGE.  Kiara has been a little bit looky and spooky outside lately; not sure if it's a 'mare' thing, or if it's the winter season, or what. &n[...]



Love this Cali riding weather!

2015-02-11T20:57:32.304-08:00

If there's any type of "perfect" riding weather out there, Northern California is certainly it!  I have been very pleased with Ms. Mare the past few times I've ridden her.  There was ONE day where if I hadn't slapped on my neck strap b/c I thought I was going to jump her around 3', she literally would have spooked/spun me off multiple times, but that day seems to have been an anomaly, thank goodness.  A few weeks ago, she flatted up nicely and when I hopped her over the "wingless" box/gate/pole jump that was just ONE section higher than what she'd jumped before, that girl literally almost jumped me right off her back!  She was about a foot over the 3' box, TWISTED in the air, AND drifted left about a foot, all at the same time.  Whoa.  Lol.  I bravely tried it a few more times, and it was pretty bad every time, so lowered it back down the one level and she was fine.  Silly girl!Today was the first day she'd been ridden in a week, as it's actually RAINED (yay) in Nor Cal.  The ring was still super wet, so I set up 3 9' canter poles up one long side, and set a single 2'6 vertical on the opposite long side.  On the vertical, I laid poles ON the rail, framing out a chute on both sides.  My goal was just to work on straight and simple today.  She again flatted up really nicely.  I did NOT put her in the roundpen, despite S's suggestion I do so.  I could tell her frame of mind was pretty workmanlike as I tacked her up, so I "risked" it!I didn't wear spurs today, and honestly I felt like I needed them!  She was pretty quiet.  Honestly, when I started out, she felt just a little short strided.  She warmed up well, though, and I focused on lots of big loopy circles and lots of direction changes.  I focused on feeling her stay straight from her hips thru her shoulders, and tried to work on keeping a nice consistent rhythm, especially over the poles.  She was focused well.  When I jumped the vertical, I just trotted over it, and halted straight.  Sometimes I went over the poles, sometimes I didn't.  When I cantered the vertical off the right lead, she was super!  I cantered thru the 9' poles a few times, and she did great there.  The problems began/ended off the left lead going over the vertical.  That jump is set in her "booger" spot where she likes to hop and drag right, both before and after the jump.  Sometimes she's so awful there, I can't even GET her to the jump because she's cantering sideways to the right.Today I had a little bit of an epiphany, and when she began to fall right, I took it down a level.  In the past, I may either leave that area, or get mad and start "beating her up" with my leg, or bridging my reins and trying to just out-muscle her (and we know how well THAT works!)  Today, I just took a step back, and trotted her in a big circle.  I could FEEL when she stiffened the jaw, bulged the shoulder, and began to drag.  I kept my cool, and I worked SUPER hard to connect to that right rein, NOT forcing her, NOT kicking with my outside leg, just gentle, patient circling.  I tried it at a canter when the trot felt good, and that was a bad, no go.  I went back to trot, cantering SOME of the circle, back to trot, over and over until she just DID it.  I then came out of the circle to the jump; she was quiet, she landed and tracked dead straight, halted well.  What a good girl!  I was very happy with her; I was pretty pleased with me, too :)At eventing barn, I've been riding Kiara!  I hadn't ridden her since her new owners took ownership, but it's working out that nei[...]



It's PAST time for a little update!

2014-11-12T14:52:59.012-08:00

Well.  Sorry for the lapse in coverage lately!  I've been travelling to FL for work, and the time change has had me all tired as soon as I get off work.  I'm sure the time change hasn't been helping things either!  I've ridden a few tricky horses at Event Barn that a year ago, I would NOT have achieved good results on.  Still to this day I tend to go to my hands before I go to my seat, but thanks to Trainer, I've begun to slowly back away from pulling so much.  I rode a tricky dressage pony last week that kicked my butt!  He picks up this AWFUL half tranter thing that feels so yucky.  And when I put my leg on he just wants to canter.  And when I tried to hold contact, he just stiffened his jaw against me and went around like a 16.1 hand moose.  Ugh.  After about 10 minutes, I was actually really frustrated and questioning my ability to "ride ANYTHING on the flat".  These dressage horses really are MUCH different than the hunter rides I'm more used to.Trainer was finally able to turn her attention to me and help me, so after about 15 more minutes, I was FINALLY able to get some semblance of a nice, round trot.  LOW hands, but still have elbows bent, shoulders back, LOTS of half halting, but NO pulling.  Wow.  I actually felt like how it feels to physically push a wheel barrow uphill while riding this horse.  I thought the feeling of PUSHING a wheel barrow on a horse was impossible.  Nope, in fact, when you're properly riding a dressage horse, you should ALWAYS feel like you're pushing a wheel barrow!  His canter was actually quite lovely, I had no problems with that; it's always that trot work that's hard for me to REALLY nail and do it perfectly correctly.  At the end, I felt like a tired, sore wet noodle, but I got pony going nice and forward and round, so it was all good:)I've had some LOVELY rides on the mare, most notably after switching up her bit.  S ordered a litle 2 ring gag bit, and I slapped that puppy on my bridle ASAP.  Switched her from a running martingale to a standing with the gag because I've always thought pressure on a gag rein to bring a head down is silly.  Yes, I know you're supposed to thread just the snaffle rein through the ring, but with a 2 ring elevator, you ALWAYS have some gag action; it's not like a normal snaffle gag.  The standing has done it's job perfectly.  The one or two times she threw her head in my face, it kept her from smashing it, so I'm happy :)Last week, I worked with Jade on counter canter for the first time.  I only did it on the long sides.  I practiced picking up correct lead/counter lead on the long side, switching up which one I wanted.  She got it 90% of the time, I was very happy with her.  I think her LH is getting stronger, because I used to have problems picking up her right lead.  I still do on occasion, but she's gotten better.  Got in some VERY good lateral work from her, as well as a bit of shoulder in.  I decided to break down the jump work for her and trotted virtually everything, circling inside the lines so we didn't have the shoulder bulge and drag, and EVERY jump was 2'6/2'9.  Height is NO problem for her, and the jumps don't bother her.  If I could just FIX her in between bulge and run off crap she'd be AMAZING to jump around.  Little gag bit worked GREAT and when she decided to land and bolt, I sat her on her BUTT so fast it made her head spin.  Finished up with a lovely track with good approaches, quiet landings and a great attitude.Most recently, she flatted up nice and quiet so[...]



Appreciating what you have

2014-11-30T09:22:43.972-08:00

If I let myself think about it too much, I feel sorry for myself that I had to sell Tiki.  I love that horse, and I always thought I would get to keep him "until his legs fell off".  But I know I made the right decision when I get the pics and emails from his kidlet.  Let me tell y'all; they've competed T, and they're going to do a P CT in Dec or Jan.  WHOA!  I always wondered if the boy had the stuff for more UL, but I was too much of a chicken to find out.  It's beginning to look like he DOES :)  So I look forward to hearing about their T competitions, and the big P move up.  It's a match made in Heaven!

I feel so fortunate to not only have Jade to ride, but also to be sitting on SO many horses at Eventing barn.  I used to keep track of all the horses I'd ridden; I wrote their names on my tack box.  It was a never ending push for me to want to sit on EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING I could.  Then I got old and fat and didn't ride much, and when I finally bought my own horse, I found that ANY motivation to sit on anything else was gone.  Just for fun, I'm going to list the horses I've ridden at Eventing barn.  I'm pretty sure I've been there just under a year at this point.  In no particular order: (updated 11-30-14)
1.  Kiara
2.  Pluto
3.  Rusty
4.  Sky
5.  Jedi
6.  Kimmie
7.  Spellbound
8.  Luna
9.  Belle
10.  Hannah
11.  Partner
12.  Connor
13.  Puffin
14.  Whisper
15.  Ricky Bobby
16.  Patton
17. Puzzle

I think of what each and every one of these horses have taught me, and it makes me so happy to say I've had the opportunity to ride them!  And if Tiki had made the trip w/ me to CA like I'd originally planned, I probably wound not have sat on even half these horses!  I've learned how to FINALLY feel what it's like to have real, true collection.  I've ridden passage and piaffe.  I've felt a perfect flying change just by the shifting of my weight.  It's been amazing!  I hope things work out to where I continue to ride where I'm at for a long, long time.  I absolutely love my horsey life right now!




Positive Progress is always good :)

2014-09-14T20:35:38.303-07:00



Well, Ms. Mare is making positive progress, as is the Muffin Man w/ his kidlet!  They made their first Recog. T debut this weekend, and finished a strong 6th place :)  Dressage score was a 32.5, then they had 3 rails in stadium.  I know from experience that if you're a little nervous, sometimes he hangs a leg and catches a rail, whether it's 3'3 or 2'.  Probably some nerves there, since she had not ONE rail in their T CT they did a few weeks ago.  Clear with a few seconds of time on XC.  Poplar Place has some scary looking T XC jumps, so to jump around clean is amazing!  That means Tiki man in ALL his Recog outings has only had ONE XC jump penalty, and that was at his very first one for both of us, and I can tell you for a fact that HUGE nerves were in play that day.  So proud!

As for Jade, rode her last Sat, and it was quite literally the very first time I ever approached every jump with a LOOSE rein.  Normally, I'm trying hard not to pull on her as we head into the jumps, but I definitely always have contact.  Last week, it was hands forward and kick.  So proud of her, that was a huge step in the right direction.  Jumped everything w/ a little bit of height, and she didn't care at all.  The one jump she actually gave a little bit of attention to was the little red box she's hopped over a few times.  I let her first steep crossrail oxer, and she didn't even LOOK at that one, lol.  I was expecting her to make a fuss at that one, but nope!

During her flatwork, I purposely came across a diagonal and asked for a change; a little late right to left, but PERFECT left to right; opposite of Tiki man!  I did just the one change each direction, then didn't ask for any more.  Lots of pats and praise.  Didn't get to ride at all Wed due to having to help my son get his school life organized, but I'm hoping this week is finally back to normal.  Excited to be making forward, positive progress w/ the mare :)





Busy, busy, busy!

2014-08-24T22:40:53.325-07:00

Love my smile here.  This was the first time I REALLY felt her trot to the base and rock back nice and easy:)Life has been a little busy!  I've been working some overtime hours at work, and for Eventing Barn, we're about to put on our very first Recognized Event!  We've done several schooling shows successfully, now it's time to put our organizing skills to the test:)  As a result, my weekly Wednesday Eventing Barn trips have been show planning sessions vs. riding lessons which is a bummer.  I DID get to ride little baby adorableness Connor.  https://www.facebook.com/FourStarFarm  You have to scroll down the page a little bit to see his little grid video.  He is a lazy son of a gun!  I love his size though, exactly what I prefer.  He was the last one I rode, about 3 weeks ago.Rode Ms. Jade last Sat.  She was pretty much a rock star.  She's been on the back burner as well until after the show b/c all my free time is spent planning, writing emails, trying to coordinate EVERYTHING on my one day off, but I have ridden her on my off Saturdays.  A few weeks ago, we did the grid and she was so amazing.  Last week, I decided to mix things up and canter.  A LOT!  I haven't been doing a LOT of canter with her, really it's been a lot of trot.  And her trot is MUCH better than Tiki's was.  (I say WAS b/c his new kidlet is out there scoring 32's in dressage, woot woot!!!)  She CAN get on the strong, quick side, but lately that tendency has been pretty much non-existent.Anyway, I w/t her and she was good, so I picked up the canter.  All was well; her bulging and dragging on the flat has gotten WAY better, and she's learned how to respond reasonably well to a half halt.  So ... I cantered her to a jump!  Landed, circled, cantered some more.  She was so shocked, she backed herself off, lol :)  All in all, I spent about 12 minutes (I checked my watch) just cantering different jumps.  I cantered tall crossrails, the red box w/ a pole, a small brush box, a gate w/ a pole, and a vertical sitting about 2'3.  There was even a crossrail/vertical/vertical combo.  1 stride to a 3-4 stride.  Eh, that was just OK.  It was set heading STRAIGHT to the barn, and in the area where she likes to pop that shoulder at the last second and DRAG to the rail.  She quickened a few times through it, but also had a few really good moments. I had the 2nd vertical up at 2'3, the 1st crossrail was TINY, and the 3rd element was a 3'3 crossrail.  A little awkward, but overall not too bad.Not going to lie, there were a few moments where I had to literally stick my right spur in her on landing, and I did have to really haul her around a few times turning left (that RIGHT bulge, ugh!), but for the most part I was very excited.  The jumps weren't an issue at ALL, it's now just working to improve the overall quality of the canter and eliminate that drag to the right once and for all.  The spooking has become very much a non-issue, and her work ethic has improved tremendously.  Very proud of the mare!  S will be taking her to her very first OFF grounds show next weekend :)  I'm very sad I'll miss it since I'll be working my tail off all weekend at Event Barn.  Until next time![...]



On horses maturing

2014-08-02T23:02:27.760-07:00

First grid!I went through it with Tiki, and now I'm goin through it with Jade ... maturing :)  I believe maturity has nothing to do with age; it has everthing to do with "getting with the program".  When I first sat on Jade last year, the thought of jumping never even crossed my mind.  I remember vividly with Tiki watching a friend jump a haybale at Joyce's and wondering if we would ever get to that point.  When the horse underneath you is so inconsistent on the flat, it's hard to think about all 4 feet off the ground, but when you're an eventer that thought eventually crosses your mind!I'm not afraid of flatting horses.  Unless they're flat out dangerous, I feel as though I can ride through most anything.  So over the past months, Jade has pulled every evasive trick in the book; spooking, bulging, above the bit, behind the bit, under the bit, fast, slow, jigging, etc.  But through it all, I've remained consistent in my treatment of her.  Leg on, insist she take the contact, don't take "no" for an answer ... and it's paid off!  S can comfortably w/t/c/jump her now, and when we first began this journey, she was actually riding her in a western saddle for security!  I think it's been a combination of consistent riding, warmer weather, and supplements.When I get on her, I put on my leg and push her up into my hand.  No jigging, no curling behind the bit, and a MUCH improved work ethic :)  I wear my spurs now to help really fine-tune control that right shoulder and it's certainly helping.  Now that S and I have been able to get her back in work, the bulging is beginning to minimize again.  That is always going to be her achilles heel, for sure.  This past week, I continued the idea of ramping up her jump work and jumping more "real" jumps vs just puttering over 18".  I actually cantered figure 8's over a crossrail, and she was super, even offering up a few flying changes.  I rode the canter to the crossrail trying to think about which lead I wanted to land, but she is still pretty strong at the canter, so just focusing on a rhythm was my primary objective.There was another person in the ring with me, so I could only have 2 jumps "up".  I made one of the brush boxes a tall crossrail, and I put a pole over the brick.  I also dropped a trot pole in front of the little gray box to work on her trotting to the base.  I still don't do much jump cantering, that will come with time.  After cantering the crossrail in the figure 8 pattern, I moved on to flatwork, trot a jump, flatwork, trot a jump.  After every jump, I halted straight then flexed her right and moved her off my right leg.  All was pretty good until I was trotting the little box and I felt it; the right bulge.  She landed and DRAGGED me to the rail, nearly running into the other horse in the ring.  It has been MONTHS since she pulled that little trick so I jumped her case HARD.  I circled, growled, and gave her nice bump with the spur.  We then proceeded to jump that jump 5 times, with slight improvement each time.  I gave her a break, then did a little course involving a right hand turn after EVERY jump.  She did that well, I was proud.  Not a bulge to be found!Today, she did her VERY FIRST grid :)  Yay!  It went much better than I even could have hoped.  I set a trot pole, crossrail, 9' to a brush box w/ no standards, 9' to a pole, 9' to a crossrail, 9' to a brushbox, 9' to a pole, 9' to a final cr[...]



A few riding updates!

2014-07-23T20:05:13.078-07:00

All has been pretty good on the horsey-front.  My adorable Puffin pony got sold to a kidlet, so YAY for him, BOO for me:(  I got to sit on super fancy Belle the week before last; she has a MOTOR and a half, that girl does.  She looks like Tiki except with bigger ears and 4 white socks.  Her breeding is full Hanoverian, but he looks like a dang Thoroughbred all the way.  She's petite and narrow like the muffin man, and I LOVE to ride her.  Didn't ride out at event barn last week or this week due to me volunteering at another schooling 3 phase event, and this week event trainer is at REBECCA FARM competing her lovely Trakehner gelding in the CIC3*.  WISH I WAS THERE!  Next year ... I will totally be going to Rolex, Rebecca, and Inavale.I rode a really, really, really nice horse named Hannah the time before I rode Belle ... and let me tell ya ... I've never been run away with; I shut that crap down before it ever has a chance to get revved up.  But Hannah's TROT is like a freaking 12' canter stride, no joke.  If there were ever a horse with the potential to run off with me and I'd let it happen because she's so sneaky about it, it's Hannah.  I was pretty much exhausted after trotting her for half an hour, and I wimped out and only cantered one way.  I truly believe if I'd let her go the full length of the ring and not just stayed on a 20m circle, I probably would have had a very hard time stopping her.  Event trainer says this mare has FEI dressage potential.  I believe it!  Also on that day, got to ride super handsome stallion Sky again.  I feel so blessed every time I sit on that horse, he is AMAZING.  I've only ever ridden him in the dressage tack, but that is AOK by me.  His movement and power is just breathtaking, but he is such a gentleman; when I ride him, I use a mullen mouth happy mouth snaffle, and I never even have to TOUCH his face, he's that soft.  I LOVE how much I am learning there, very thankful for the opportunity to be there.Ms. Mare has been AWESOME.  We had a few good rides after the show, and then the month of July was a combo of vacation time, and injury time for Jade.  She got a nasty looking puncture wound on her upper leg and was off for a week or 2, so I have only ridden her a hand full of times since my last update.  Rode Saturday, and with the exception of her geting a little strong at the canter, she was picture perfect.  Today, I decided to test her bravery and jack up the baby jumps to actual big girl jumps.  Substantial crossrails, a solid 2' vertical w/ flowers, a 2'3 post and rail, and a 2'6 vertical w/ a brush box.  I normally jump her 18", and have hopped over 2' on one or two occasions.  I decided it was time to bump it up a notch!With the time off she's had, her dragging right has made a bit of re-apperance, so in my flat work, I actally kept a right bend the ENTIRE ride so she was physically incapable of popping that shoulder and dragging me right.  I trotted her over a bunch of random poles, working on maintaining her straightness through her body and feeling her responsiveness to my leg.  I began to incorporate the little 18" vertical and then the 2 bigger crossrails into my flatwork, halting, bending right, and moving off my right leg after each jump.  I was pretty happy with her!  Progressed to the 2' vertical, then the 2'3 post and rail.  The first few times over that one, she did get a tad a[...]



Jade update

2014-05-28T12:32:31.812-07:00

I have to give S a lot of credit.  She is a GREAT horse owner.  When she offered the mare to me to ride, little did she know she'd get a fair amount of 'advice' by way of this blog ;)  Jade is now on Quiessence and U Gard, and I think that plus the warm (hot) weather has done a LOT to bring Miss Mare down to quiet mare.  I think about the first time I rode her in the upper ring, and it was an Act of God that I didn't fall off her at that point I think!  Spooking, spinning, barging into the rail tracking left, crow hopping ... there was just a whole lotta dram llama going on.This past Sunday, after persevering for roughly 7 months, Jade won 2 red ribbons for S, and  yellow one for me ... out of 10 ish horses.  Proud would be an understatement! Jade has gone from tense, generally pissy and unhappy, and pretty dang spooky to relaxed and ear-floppy with barely a spook there.  In fact, it's become a RARE thing for me to have to spin her during a ride.Our rides used to feel somewhat frustrating and literally painful for my back sometimes because she would get so hollow and quick.  Looking back, I think a turning point for us was when I finally slapped the draw reins on her.  Ever since then, she's been quick to come onto the contact, she's happy to trot quietly with me doing virtually nothing, and the jump work has been pretty darn relaxed and slow.I took a lesson from the barn owner last week, and it was interesting.  She came right out and said I was not going to learn anything NEW or earth shattering; I already have a strong depth of knowledge and understanding, and what we were able to do was have a philosophical discussion about Jade's brain and her idiosyncrasies (sp?).  The lesson went GREAT.  I jumped her around a full course, and had to circle ONE time; in retrospect, she was tired, her attention span was probably shot, and her tolerance level for being perfect had reached the boiling point.  I pushed the envelope, and ended up extending the lesson by about 10 minutes while I circled and arm wrestled her, but finally got what I wanted in the end, but I SHOULD have left well enough alone and ended on a note that was pretty close to perfect ... for HER.Sunday morning, Jade was pretty upset about the hubbub atmosphere, and was nervous pooping and barrelling around at the end of the reins.  My ONLY plans were to school her for S, b/c S's trainer KNEW Jade would be upset and that synapse would mis-fire, and she would lose her brain for a little bit.   After being in the thick of the atmosphere, I took her off  by herself to the roundpen to mount, and it's like she looked around, took a deep breath, and told herself she could DO it :)  We walked into the ring calm and happy, and she was PERFECT tracking left, her hard way.  Barely batted an eye.  I saw no point in cantering, b/c S entered w/t classes, so I reversed to track right.  Ruh Roh!  She lost her sh!+.  She spun away, gave a little half rear, a little kick out, and tried REALLY hard to bolt away from ... who knows what she was spooking at.  I didn't have her in any type of martingale due to the fact that it was a hunter show and she was showing in flat classes, and boy, in that moment I sure wish I'd had SOMETHING on her.  I circled around, approached the long side again, and a AGAIN.  She flung her head up and got so hollow that she unseated me, and for an instant, I was SUR[...]



Overall theme of the day is ...

2014-05-28T11:52:34.553-07:00

... Improvement!  My lessons w/ event trainer have been literally life changing, in the riding sense.  I got to ride both her stallion again!AND ... I finally got to sit on the 4 star horse, woop woop!  Granted, the 4* horse was a trail ride followed by 45 minutes of walking, but STILL.  My butt sat on a horse bound for the Rolex CCI**** next year.  How lucky can a girl get??So, I'm so thankful for the opportunity just to be able to experience that upper level feel and movement.  My old hunter trainer said her daughter didn't get to be the amazing rider she is today by riding the "bad" ones, as so many people say.  She got to where she is by having the chance to ride NICE horses, that taught her what a "nice" horse should feel like.I've been riding lots of ponies; Puffin the puff ball Icelandic, Kiara (not so much since she got purchased.  BOO for me, but yay for her new owner!), and Kimmie (the gray Connemara).When I rode Kimmie, it took me about 5 minutes to get her round, soft, and in front of my leg.  The previous 3 times I rode her, I EXHAUSTED myself TRYING to get her forward and round, and achieved maybe half a lap of actually having her engaged and her back up.  This last time, it was quick and simple, and she stayed nicely between the hand and the leg for most of my 40 minute ride.  The pony Puffin is mostly about WORKING him.  He's pretty fat, but he's super athletic.  I love to jump him around, and trainer is working with me on doing as little as possible.  I tend to want to "help" him by jumping up his neck, and we all know how that works out.I took a lesson with honorary little sis Nicole on Rusty, and it was super fantastic.  I jumped around on a horse I'd never ridden, and it was just NICE to be able to focus mostly on ME, and fixing the myriad of bad habits I've developed over the years.  Rusty is another Pluto; an ex upper level horse of trainer's that is now a super lovely lesson horse that I don't get to ride hardly at all b/c she has to use him for her other students!  A year ago, I would have politely declined to jump around, focusing instead on flatwork, but I'm finally being brave and going for it!I rode a SUPER nice older BTDT hunter named Partner last week.  He's another big, gray Trakehner, and though he has a bit of a spook to him, it was a lovely lesson.  Our first jump was almost enough to zap my confidence b/c he apparently HATES to trot jumps, and it was a horribly awkward and painful jump, but I took a deep breath, pushed back the fallen down brim of my helmet, pushed my heels down, and persevered until I was able to canter back and forth through a line perfectly.  He's just BIG, and I don't feel all that comfortable on a BIG horse.  Flat, yes.  Jump?  Not so much.  But it ended great, I'm happy. :)Overall, I'm SO happy with the progress I'm making, and trainer treats me like any other part of the team.  I get to ride her 'fancy ponies' (for which she actually THANKED me, what??), I get to ride the nice sale horses, and I have my fun little pony project, which I'm loving.  Even though I miss my sweet, sassy little muffin man like crazy, it warms my heart to see him out competing with his new child at N, finishing on his dressage score like a good boy.  She's thinking of moving up to T this Fall, and I can't wait to hear all about it!  I'm lucky that I can still k[...]



Positive Progress!

2014-04-05T21:17:08.691-07:00

Look at those shoulders!  Learning to not lean forward :)I know I'm a fairly decent rider.  I'm certainly no genius, but I'm perfectly competent.  I'm learning that all my years of riding alone has caused me to develop this nasty little habit I don't even realize of pulling ... and leaning.  Hmmmm.  Event trainer actually often rides with other trainers to keep her skills polished and on pointe.  She has been working with me to stop going for the reins FIRST, and to think more of using my legs and seat. I take what I learn on Wednesdays, and then turn around and apply that to Jade. This past Wed, I had the best lesson I've had yet on Kiara.  She tends to get a little stiff in the jaw and inconsistent through the contact, but by really using what I learned riding Pluto, she stayed so nice and soft for me!  Trainer's thing this week was to really think about ELBOWS.  Outside elbow bent and superglued to the hip, hand down.  Inside elbow pointing to the inside hip, think thumb "out", like a hitchhiker.  Inside hand never pulls back, it can lift slightly, thinking forward, but shouldn't come backwards.We jumped a crossrail, just thinking about rhythm and not MOVING at the jump.  She had me really focus on staying with her in the approach, then WAIT and let her jump up to me.  It was very eye-opening because I feel like I generally don't jump ahead, but I am ... marginally.  She then set some barrels and said Kiara may look, and to be ready, but she was perfect, as usual!  I was prepared with my crop, but all was good :)  That was it.  Simple, but effective.Nice, soft mare today :)Today, I rode Jade and thought about shoulders back, and ELBOWS the entire ride.  Lo and behold, the mare was the BEST she's been, EVER.  It's so nice to start having all these good rides because it means we're making forward progress!  There was NO popping of the shoulder, NO dragging to the rail, NO bucking, NO sassiness whatsoever.  She was willing, obedient, and so soft through the bridle, it was lovely.  I concentrated on NOT pulling, at all, and I never used both reins at once.  I concentrated on posting slowly if she got a little quick, and tried to plug in my seatbones and really connect with her back on the down beat of the trot, which was something else Event trainer worked on with me Wed.  What a good girl!  S was out watching and took a few pics, and she was just so pleased to see her be so good!She was just a little bit NQR behind, so we took it easy, with mostly w/t and I walked a bunch of poles.  She was so good and quiet I moved up to trotting poles, and it was just so good!  At the end, I decided to let her have a little break with lots of pats, and decided to try a little left lead canter.  It. Was. Perfect.  The transition was nice and relaxed, I concentrated on SITTING and keeping my elbows superglued, and not pulling, and we cantered an ENTIRE lap around the ring without touching her mouth.  I had her on contact, but I didn't have to pull or half halt at all, the entire time.  WOW!  She hadn't been to that point with me yet, EVER.  Right lead, the transition was a little bit sticky because she wanted to pick up the left lead instead, and she tried to pop that right shoulder just a hair, so I did have to help her a LITTLE bit, but it was still the lig[...]



And ... the 2nd of the "2 separate posts"!

2014-03-26T08:54:39.762-07:00

Plutes!Haha, I didn't intend for a week to go by before coming out with the second installment of last week's blog post.  I guess fortunately, there wouldn't have been one from this week anyway since it actually decided to RAIN all night long, YAY!  That means Jade gets Wed off from me, and I technically could ride at eventing barn since they have an indoor, but I have a bunch of stuff that needs to get done around here, so I'm actually going to stay home today, oh the horrors!So after leaving HRH Jade, I made my way 45 mins up the road to the eventing barn.  After our weekly meeting with a facebook rep, I was allowed to saddle up my adorable little fluffy pony again, Puffin!  He is so adorable.  He's actually a fun little booger to ride, as well.  I spent about 20 minutes with the shedding blade, working to remove some of the great "Spring Shed", then led him to the outdoor were I proceeded to mount using the block.  Yep.  I used the mounting block for a pony who's back I tower over.  In my defense, he is extremely fat with no withers to speak of, so it's more of a step over sort of mounting.  Trainer was teaching a lesson while I rode, and didn't have a whole lot to say on the flat with him, which for her is somewhat surprising as she usually can find no less than 5 things at once to correct me on ... while I'm walking!  Lol, but Puffin is a kid's pony, so there's really no need to try and do much more than keep him straight, light, and forward as much as possible.Then she told me to go jump the tiny 18" vertical.  OK, no problem.  What a cutie!  B/c he is so small, I felt the urge to help him by jumping up his neck, so I definitely got my correction handed to me there.  Trotted over it a few more times, and much better.  I then cantered a pretty tall crossrail; like, the cups were at the equivalent of his belly.  He hopped right over, cute as a button!  Cantered a pretty big vertical, about 2'3, and it was perfect.  His little legs are so short, trainer had to remind me to just wait on him and not get ahead, and I did.  Cantered into a line of crossrails, and I just looped the reins and kicked and he was perfect! I was pretty content at that point to stop and watch (pony was puffing like a train, anyway.  Did I mention he's fat and hairy?  And it was rapidly approaching 80 degrees?).  I was observing trainer's head groom lessoning on a young, green Morgan/TB named Spellbound.  I'd ridden him a few months ago, and he's super fun.  She was supposed to show him at our schooling show in a few days, so it was jump around time!  They were to trot over the liverpool.  The liverpool is an actual, 4' wide liverpool, that you fill up with water, not just a tarp or something.  There was a tiny amount of water in it, really, it was dry if I'm being completely honest!  While trainer lectured her on using her stick and being effective, I just sat, watched, and patted my pony.  After a few tries, she was able to successfully trot him over the jump, and I turned to leave the ring."Ok Jen, now the pony needs to go jump the liverpool!"  Um, are you kidding?  I've never jumped an actual liverpool before, especially not on a 13 hand pony!  I made some comment about me being a "passive observer" as opposed to an "active participant",[...]