Happy New Year!

Ike and I would like to wish everyone a prosperous and healthy 2018. May your horse be sound, your equitation flawless, and your centerlines straight. 

While I now hate the word “more,” it will be our word of the year for 2018. More bend, more suppleness, more throughness, more energy, more everything except for negativity. We are leaving that behind in 2017.

Embrace the possibilities of the next 365 days!

Alison and Ike


The Newest Four Letter Word


20171127_1526091678075069.jpgHere we are at the end of 2017. Another year behind us. Before we start planning for the season to come, I find it is helpful to take a look back at our work from the past season. So, I took some time to read the judge’s comments from my Third Level tests. Yikes, they are not the comments I am accustomed to seeing. And, after some deliberation, I have declared the following word a dirty word – More.

Ugh, I am certain that I now hate it “more” than any of the other four letter words. But apparently, dressage judges love it. They must get some sort of judge’s award if they use it greater than 10 times in one test. More bend. More engagement. More collection. More thoroughness. More cadence. More extension. More, more, more. I get it, we aren’t quite where we need to be to get the higher scores, but for the love of god, please find another word to use. Perhaps this can be a topic at a judge’s forum. Sadly, Google was not as helpful as I had hoped when I searched “synonyms for more.” I came up with a few options that you can test out at the spring shows: use better half halts to increase engagement of the hind end, bend the horse around your inside leg, have horse sit and close hind leg angles, be less like a plow horse, be less like a fence board, what the *#$% was that supposed to be? Hmm, perhaps some folks would not see the humor in those last three choices…

But, I beg you, have mercy on me. We are doing our best to be more.



I Have To Do What?!!

Ike Lexington Oct 2017

Hello my favorite horse peeps!

Mom is yet again “busy” so you know what that means…I get to fill you in and give you the uncensored updates on the goings on around the barn.  And after all, isn’t that what you really want?  The inside scoop and not Mom’s rose-tinted vision of our world.

We had our last big show of the year in October down in Lexington.  I am not a fan of that show, because the stalls don’t let me hang my head out to visit.  Why go to these shows if you aren’t going to socialize?  And I had a bunch of my show buddies there.  Did you know that I have two friends named Disco?! Also Lexi and Winslow were there.  I hadn’t seen Winslow all year – his mom has been working on really hard stuff he said.  He told me to play dumb for as long as I can to avoid things called tempi changes.  Winslow said that they are challenging for us to learn even when the rider knows what they are doing.  Great, then it should be even harder for me since Mom is a bit spastic with her aids.  Heck, she even gets confused when it is time to ask for a single change.  Maybe I should go ahead and send out a SOS now.

Well, Mom was not happy with me in our Second Level tests at that show.  Called me a turd!  She can be so mean, but seriously, we hadn’t done that test since last year.  And she wouldn’t let me stop and poop during the test.  So I was not my normal self.  I find it difficult to perform under those conditions.  So needless to say that we did not place this year.  No biggie, I have a ribbon from last year that Mom confiscated.  Not sure what she does with those things.  I would prefer snacks or a boot to hang in my stall.

We also had to do a Third Level finals class.  This level has been hard for us this year.  Dad said that we have plateaued.  Not sure what that means except that Mom will probably get her crazy-eyes-look and work me like a mad woman to get better.  Mom came out of that test with a smile on her face.  Unfortunately, the judges did not agree with Mom’s opinion that we did a solid test.  Both of the judges said, “Nope, you don’t get it.  Go back home and keep working.”  Well, they didn’t exactly say that, but from the scores and comments, that was what Mom and Ms. C inferred.

Now, I am perfectly fine staying at Third Level based on what Winslow told me.  So I was thinking that we would cruise through winter since we are staying at Third, but Miss C snuck in what she is calling the “winter improvement list.”  Hmm, that sounds a bit suspicious to me – kind of like homework.  I already work more than all the other horses at my home.  Ladybug is the only other horse that ever wears a saddle.  Not sure I’m cool with homework.  I’m not sure what Mom thinks either, but since she is a bit of a nerd, she probably likes homework.  She was probably that kid in school that did all her homework the first night it was assigned and did the extra credit too.  I’m more of a “I’ll do it on the bus in the morning” kind of guy.

Well I was allowed to glance at this homework list and boy, do we have a lot to do…be better, do more, be consistent…I like to think that more of the burden lies with Mom.  I mean she is supposed to be the captain of this team, right?  One interesting thing that is resonating with Mom is the fact that the correct bend on a 10 meter circle, the correct angle for shoulder in, the correct bend for half pass, and the correct bend for turn on the haunches are ALL THE SAME.  Wow, aren’t those dressage people clever.  Now that doesn’t mean that we get it right all the time, but it does seem to help Mom using that as a guiding principle.

So being the team player that I am, I will try to accommodate our homework assignments as long as I get my regular downtime for playing with my brother.  I hope Mom know that those 10 meter canter circles are hard for a big fellow like me, and that it feels like we are on a never ending merry-go-round but lacking any fun music or smiling children.  (Mom really doesn’t smile much when we are training.)  Can someone remind her that riding is her hobby and is supposed to be fun?

Until next time, be happy my friends!



p.s. Mom is nerdy enough to have our homework displayed on her desk as a constant reminder…yep, this is what I have to contend with every day.





Happy Fall Y’all!

Motherly love

Hello friends, 

 It has been a spell since my last post.  Life has again decided that I should divert my attention elsewhere.  Work, family, chores, dogs, and yardwork fill my waking hours.  We squeeze in barn time, so time for creative writing falls to the wayside.  Ike and Cigar are getting curtailed visits, but they don’t seem to mind as long as breakfast and dinner show up every day. 

Ike and I did have our final prep show at Rose Mount two weeks ago. While our scores were not where I would like them to be, we did glean some valuable insight to use as we close in on the CBLM Championship Show in a couple of weeks in the scenic city of Lexington, Virginia. 

While the double bridle has its benefits, it is not always a friend or the right answer. Perhaps it is that I have a comfort level with the good old snaffle. I seem to clutch that curb rein like Linus clutches his security blanket. That death grip causes Ike to end up behind vertical inhibiting our better forward motion.  Our rides on Sunday were much less tense with me using the snaffle.  So our schooling work in these weeks leading up to Lexington will be with me utilizing one set of reins.

You can’t blame me for wanting the double bridle given that Ike bolted like a bat out of hell the day before the show. Sadly, the double bridle did nothing to check his rather robust gallop. Me yelling “WHOA” just make Ike ask, “Puny human yelling loudly wants what?!” And then he ran faster. I had visions of my crumpled body partially wedged in the stone dust when Ms. C found me later that day. The visions grew more vivid after I lost a stirrup. Thankfully Ike does not have the stamina of his brother and he decided to stop and catch his breath.  Unfortunately, I felt I had to reestablish leadership, so I made him trot and canter in both directions before sliding off and kissing the non-moving ground.

We learned that judges do have a sense of humor. Ike decided that turn on the haunches was the ideal time for a potty break in both our tests on Saturday. Not good for the scores…”stuck” and “hind end stopped” were really not necessary comments. I knew I was getting a 4 as we walked on to the next movement.  Heard the judge told her scribe that “that is unfortunate timing.” At least we can keep things interesting. Thankfully Ike decided to not show off his extended gallop any of my tests over the weekend.  I learned on Sunday that when we aren’t pooping,  we are capable at earning 7’s for our turns.

 Ms.C also extracted some “things needing improvement” from our tests. She is better at reading between the lines/comments.  I see a 5 and the comment “tense;” she sees that we need more bend and suppleness.  Basically our scores and comments boiled down to the following: more bending,  more suppleness, more bending, better engagement,  more suppleness, and more bending. Sure thing, easy enough to supple 86 inches of horse plus 3 feet of neck, plus 50 pounds of thick skull. 

So our lessons and schooling involve countless small circles, frequent changing of the direction (“you were not fast enough – you lost his shoulder!”), and no double bridle.  We throw in some shoulder in, renvers, haunches in, and half pass, but we always go back to the circle.  No ovals, not squares, circles.  Will our work be enough to secure a placement in the finals?  Only time will tell, but it won’t be for lack of trying. 

Happy Fall!