Darcy Update

Darcy left this weekend to go to her new home, where she will eventually learn the ropes of cross country and try not to get fat on the lushest grass in the county.

While I’m certainly sad to see that sweet little mare go, I think she and her new owner will grow a lot with each other and that it’s a good match. And though not riding is clearly not a long-term goal for me, with the bits of remodeling (i.e, painting, etc) going on in the new house, it seems a good time for me to have at least one week off.

I won’t be out of the saddle for long- this weekend I’m off to visit a friend and see her one-eyed wonder mare and hopefully get to take her for a little spin. Then it’s just a matter of weeks before some serious Derby party action and if all goes well, the horse shopping will begin.

Lots of change, and lots of luck to Darcy in her new home!

Lesson Recap: Darcy Dressageing

Yesterday I had Eliza out for our first dressage lesson in, oh, 9 months. I introduced her to Darcy, expressing that I hoped to get her a bit more sensitive to my leg (currently Darcy is very much a kick ride) and make sure I was making the right decisions in general.

Dark screengrab from prior video of Darcy dressaging

Dark screengrab from prior video of Darcy dressaging

We talked about setting the expectation to be in front of the leg even from the ground. So walking in hand, I’m now to carry a whip, and Darcy is expected to march along with me, instead of meandering behind. In the walk under saddle, same thing- we march, and I overemphasize moving my hands with the motion of her head to encourage Darcy to use her neck. Moving my hands also releases my hips and further encourages the motion.

Darcy trot 2

One note that I thought was interesting in the walk was regarding leg cues. In general, at all gaits, I am to keep my legs very quiet and hanging along her side, then lightly ask for a forward response- if I don’t get it, then I quickly ask strongly with both legs to get a reaction. At the walk though, using both legs isn’t as helpful, and it was in Eliza’s opinion that especially on a mare, squeezing with both legs creates more of a negative response. Instead, I am to alternate left and right leg aids for a few strides to encourage her to walk forward.

Talking + Riding = Derp face

Talking + Riding = Derp face

Also of note was our discussion around sitting the trot. Darcy’s a round girl, and rather bouncy to sit her working trot. She can also tend to tighten her back when you sit, which makes for an even bouncier experience. So I am to practice sitting her trot, but not until she is truly pushing into the contact. Continue to sit even if she tightens her back and in Eliza’s words “until you have improved the trot” before posting again. This really only happens over a few strides, but ideally eventually I’ll be sitting more and more. It’s a good tool to have in our pockets.

Darcy canter 2

Overall Eliza was impressed with Darcy, and everyone who sees her go ends up grinning and saying just how cute she is! She’s definitely a different kind of ride from Foster, but in Eliza’s opinion is a great horse to make me a more well rounded rider, and I couldn’t agree more.


Letting Go

… it isn’t easy. In fact, this probably ranks as one of the toughest emotional decisions I’ve had to make.

I like to think of myself as a responsible horsewoman. When I signed up to own a horse, I considered what I thought of as the worst-case scenarios. Final retirement. Having to put a horse down. Of course we never want to actually be put in those situations, but you need to have plans for them, and so I had plans.

PC: High Time Photography

PC: High Time Photography

But I didn’t have plans for a horse who, at barely 9 years old, wasn’t ready for retirement, but also wasn’t able to continue a career as a sporthorse. When the surgery came up, I thought dressage was my plan B (as opposed to eventing), and I easily came to terms with that. But when plan B fell through, well, I had to think about things that I had never considered in my dizziest day dreams.


The reality of the situation is that I could afford to turn Foster out to pasture and retire him point-blank. But anyone who has met this horse knows that, at this stage in his life, and as bright and interested and just engaged as he is with people, he wouldn’t be happy with that. And I wouldn’t be happy with that either.

October 2014 @ CHP

October 2014 @ CHP

However. Stating the obvious, I could also keep Foster and commit myself to learning to love trail riding and set aside any competitive ambitions I may have had. But just as Foster wouldn’t be happy in retirement, I wouldn’t be happy with not improving and working as I have for much of my life. And right now, I simply cannot afford two horses. But the physical act of riding, of pushing towards goals, is what keeps me sane, keeps me healthy, and therefore probably also keeps my marriage intact, and I can’t ignore those things either.

So, we are of course at an impasse.

I continue to believe that this Fosterparent scenario could be the best solution for everyone involved. But it’s introduced its own emotionally perplexing conundrums- mainly, how do I help another person to feel like they are the caretaker, and eventually owner, of my horse? What is the balance of being involved enough to set them up for success, but also being distant enough to allow them their own bonding time?

First day in NC

First day in NC

I still miss Foster so much, and I try not to envision him in his stall mugging for treats by smiling at everyone, or nickering to me in the paddock. It’s enough, and I am so fortunate, to be able to ride Darcy and keep active and engaged in equestrian sport.

Learning to let go- just another aspect of horsemanship, I suppose.


Photography Friday: Introducing Darcy

If you follow me on either facebook or instagram, you’ve probably been wondering who the little chestnut mare is that has been making appearances lately.



Darcy is a 15.3hh 11 year old registered draft cross mare. She belongs to a friend of a friend of mine, and is looking for a new home through no fault of her own.



The timing of all of this has been serendipitous, because of course as of recently, I am without my riding partner. So Darcy has come to me for a while, that I can get her in shape and hopefully play matchmaker with a wonderful new owner for her.



She’s been a ton of fun to ride, as #missdarcy knows all the first level dressage tricks and happens to love jumping. She’s been whipping me into shape for sure after all those months spent just playing around!


This week, I’ll take Darcy to So Pines and lesson with Bobby Costello. (3 times jumping in the last 8 months and I’m taking a lesson?! I must be mad) Should be lots of entertainment value there.


Have a happy weekend all!

(Special thanks to N for making this opportunity come together- love you!)