Bunny Hop 2013

I am starting this story a little early, today is Friday, March 15th.  I have been pushing myself to get going for this competition year.  I lost everything horse related in 2010, including anyone that could ride with me.  I’ve spent the last two years feeling sorry for myself and struggling to get back into riding competitively.  I have not been very successful (chuckle) and I’m not used to that!!!! I have retired Flame from competing due to a back injury that mysteriously appeared and while does not cause her discomfort when riding, I believe it is affecting her ability to do hard fast distance work.  She will spend the rest of her days giving little kid lessons and being my conditioning partner horse.

So, I find myself astride a little Ay-Rab mare this year.  Oh yes, it’s true … Dodie is riding an Ay-Rab.  And I will suffer everyone’s “Eat Crow” with a smile on my face.  Believe it or not, she is a dear little mare with cocky attitude and willful stubborness.  I think she was born just for me!  (Thank you, Renee!)  She’s no speed demon, like Flame … but I think I kinda like that.  I can enjoy my ride instead of worrying about ending up in another state on a different set of trails.

It is my goal to ride CTR’s this year with Miss Daizy and if all goes well, we will attempt a 50 mile END at the end of the season.  The Bunny Hop will be our first competition together.  I am still struggling with riding a trotting horse after a decade of riding only Tennessee Walkers, and I know I will suffer badly the day after this competition, but I am very excited and mentally prepared.  It’s all good!

So, it’s one week from today and my conditioning program isn’t working very well.  I could not catch Miss Daizy in the pasture this morning to go for a ride … for over two hours.  I’d walk up to her, get within two feet and she’d trot away.  About 20 feet, turn and look at me like, “Yeah, so?”  This went on and on for over two hours.  I was near to tears with frustration and finally said enough is enough.  When I turned to leave the pasture, she came up behind me and head butted me right in the small of my back.  REALLY????  So I put her halter on, no problem.


So instead of riding 18 miles today, we just walked around the property, did some trot out work, did some grooming and called it a day.  Four hours and I was the only one sweating.  I told her that if she gave me ANY trouble at 4:00 am on Sunday morning, I was going to grab TomHenry to go to the ride and she could stay home!


I started my day out sad.  When I got up at 4:00 to head out to the barn, there was a text message from Cheryl that she decided Markie was not ready for the ride and she wasn’t going to come.  (sob)  Daizy does okay by herself but this is her first competition and I was really hoping to have along Cheryl to encourage me … yes, Cheryl is my courage!

Well, I took a deep breath and told myself, “It is what it is.” and off to the barn I went.  I had already decided I was not going to play games with Miss Daizy in the pasture.  If I couldn’t catch her, then I was going to take Flame and not worry about it.  It’s pitch black and a dark bay and a black horse in the pasture is not easy to find.  I walked around and didn’t see or hear either one of them.

Suddenly, there was a face right in front of mine.  FLAME!  I was a bit startled, never heard her coming up.  Okay, so where is Miss Daizy?  Before I could look around I felt a nudge in my back and there she was!  Easy as pie to catch.  And, believe it or not, she stepped right up into the trailer.  Now, I cheated a little bit, I put the KIA behind the trailer with the lights on so it wasn’t dark in there.  (chuckle)

We were on the road by 5:00 am, which is exactly what I wanted since it’s a 2 1/2 hour drive.  Unlike last year’s Bunny Hop ride, where I totally messed up directions and made it into a 3 1/2  hour drive (grin).

Getting there was easy peasy and I arrived right at 7:30 am.  Now, I was a little concerned when I arrived and saw that Cat was already there.  She usually rolls in about ten minutes before the ride meeting (chuckle).  But, she must have ridden at the Rabbit Run the day before, so I quit sweating it.  However, a little more excitement occurred as I unloaded Miss Daizy and a horse was running loose.  Oh, she came off the trailer and immediately went into anxiety shaking.  (sigh)  Poor Miss Daizy.

Now, there are lots of things I can do to prepare a horse for their first competition but the actual excitement of it all, the hollering horses, people milling about, standing in line waiting your turn — these are all things that they will not be able to get exposure to until they actually arrive at the ride.  She started out her experience with the excitement of a loose horse and all the other horses hollering about it.  So, I wasn’t sure what to expect when we got up to the vet in for her to get her baseline.

I was highly amazed at her calmness and her curiosity.  She calmly stood beside me at the end of the line watching all the other horses and behaving herself.  I got mocked (grin) standing in line holding an Ay-Rab.  In fact, since she isn’t a classic Arabian looking horse, I really didn’t think anyone would notice and I would get away with it …  but they noticed.  Several people came up to say “HI” and then ask about Miss Daizy.  First words were, “Is she an Arabian?”  Oh my.  I’ve been snagged.

We stood in line waiting for vet check for about 45 minutes.  I had a nice conversation with Kelsey about her new horse, Spot.  (love it!)  He was a stallion until about a year ago and this was his first competition, too!  She was very excited to be here today.

Miss Daizy went through her vet check, after waiting patiently all that time I was running my mouth!  She spent her time cleaning up pieces of hay left behind from the Rabbit Run riders.  Her vetting was a little interesting.  When the vet grabbed her butt check to test for tightness, she jumped in the air about a foot.  Didn’t do anything bad, was just like, “Whao, Nellie!”  Overall, the vet check was perfect and she was very good for all the poking and prodding.  She did her trot out just like we practiced, on a loose rope, circles to left, circles to right and never once ran me over (which she was prone to do at home).  THANK YOU, MISS DAIZY!

I did talk to a couple people at the ride and asked them to keep an eye out for me as her riding buddy didn’t come along.  They were all very kind and said that they’d ride with me, no worries.  I love this sport and the people in this sport.  Always so helpful and always looking out for each other.  It’s probably one of the main reasons I keep coming back year after year, just for the people.

I was in the second group out so I had Miss Daizy tacked up and standing tied at the trailer while I went to the ride briefing.  The ride briefing went very long and I was getting worried that I would still have a horse tied to the trailer.  I have never went off and left her alone before.  Thank goodness she was standing there eating her hay when I got back.

Here’s where my fun begins.  Literally!  After years of riding Flame and being on my toes and literally fighting her every step of the way, I was prepared for anything when I got on Miss Daizy.  She just stood there, just like at home.  We walked around a little bit and she’s still very calm and relaxed.  She nibbled on a blue berry bush, tasted someone’s leftover hay, found a sandy carrot in the hold area and ate that too.  And now it’s time to go out on trail.

I started the ride with Kara.  Her horse Stormy rode the day before and he was very relaxed and not at all concerned we were riding.  Thank goodness for that, Miss Daizy’s first start was calm and relaxed, just like going on a trail ride.

When we got onto the main trail, we took off in a trot.  She was relaxed and trotting along on a loose rein right beside Stormy.  We were out a couple miles, and working on a strip in between two cranberry bogs, when the group that started behind us was coming up fast.  I didn’t know what to expect so we pulled off the side to let them pass.  Miss Daizy could have cared less that they just passed us.  WOW!  No fighting, no dancing, no pulling my arms out of the socket.

Is this really a CTR I’m on?  My horse isn’t acting like it.  This is awesome!

She gets pretty warmed up to her job by mile 5 when a group of pretty gray Arabians passes us and she’s ready to move out a little bit.  So I let her.  Thank you Kara for taking us out.  I think Miss Daizy is ready to try her wings and get some speed on.

She followed along behind these three girls for awhile then she decided she wanted to pass and be out front.  Since this is her first competition, and I have no baseline for her work ethic, I am pretty much letting her do her own thing.  She passes them by and now she has the whole trail in front of her.  I completely forgot about all her jingle bells that she wears and when we passed the horses, two of them were a little weirded out by the jingling critter passing them by.  (oops)  Oh well, it’s just not a CTR without a little excitement.

SUDDENLY, out of nowhere, comes an overdrive gear that I have never ridden on her before.  She’s doing a big ass road trot and I’m not moving an inch in the saddle.  It is the MOST comfortable trot I have ever ridden on any horse and she’s just booking down that trail.  Her ears are up, her rhythm is steady, her cadence is awesome.  We traveled about 3 miles in that gait and I was eating it up.  No horses in front, no horses behind and it was a great 3 miles of trotting, just me and Miss Daizy.

We came up behind Cate and Kevin.  I asked if it was okay if I joined them for a little bit.  They were like, “YEA!  Come on!”  Once again, I always forget about my jingle bell wearing horse and Poe (Cate’s horse) was a little concerned by all the noise we were making right behind him.  It didn’t take long for him to figure out that the bells weren’t going to eat him.

We had great conversations the final 5 miles into hold.  Miss Daizy was perfectly comfortable with their speed and she traveled along behind them nicely.  I have ridden with Cate before, but I’ve never ridden with Kevin before.  I “LOVED” riding with Czar…he is a joy to watch working and he’s so happy about his job!  I have been on the CZar fan club from Facebook for a while now and it was great to meet him in person and get a chance to watch him working with Kevin.  Love him, love him, love him.

So, 15 miles in 2 hours and 12 minutes.  Nice!  Into the hold we go and since I have no baseline at all on Miss Daizy, I did not wait the allowed 10 minutes to do pulse.  I went straight to pulse and asked to go.  60.  Right off the trail.  Her respiration was 18.  Right off the trail.  WOWZA!  All A’s on her vet check in and she trotted off on a loose lead, no dragging her or anything (this is also a pleasant surprise because I always had to drag Flame everywhere.  I just could not run fast enough to get Flame into a gait.)  She lifted up her little arab tail and trotted out and back with no effort.

So, now I have time to let her eat.  She gobbles up her slurry and is chowing down on hay like there is no tomorrow.  I was actually surprised that she’s not sweated up.  Granted, it’s cooler in the morning, around 38 when we started, but she is still in winter coat and she was working a trot pretty well.  I did not shave her a radiator cut because we’ve had snow snow snow all winter and she lives outside 24/7.

Just as a little check, I lifted up her saddle pad and it’s relatively dry under there, too.  Amazing.  She doesn’ sweat much when we condition, either.  So, maybe that’s just her.

Time to go out on the second loop.  I hopped up in the saddle and she’s like, “Oh?  We get to go again?”  WOW!  No worries there, she was happy to be riding, no gretzy faces, no attitude.  I cannot get used to this wonderful temperament she has about doing this work!!!!  I did not know that it could be so nice to go to a ride!  I am really enjoying myself.

We started out with Cate and Kevin.  We were joined by Deb on her morgan gelding.  It was a nice working group of horses for the first 5 miles.  I could feel that Miss Daizy was starting to get tired.  Cate and Kevin set a mean pace, but she was still gung-ho so I let her figure it out.  We cantered a lot on this second loop so I know she was getting tired.  I am still trying to figure out her canter as she travels flat like a quarter horse and I’m so used to an upheaded canter from the other horses I have ridden over the past years.  I always feel like I’m going to fall over her head (chuckle).  I was getting better at it on this ride, though.  Eventually, I’ll have it figured out.

I loved the mogels.  She was a dream trotting over the mogels.  I was kinda concerned because when I used to ride Joker (an Appaloosa mare) she was killer on the mogels.  I can’t tell you how many times I almost fell off Joker because she just could not get the hang of trotting up then trotting down … up and down and up and down.  Miss Daizy cruised through those mogels like she’d been doing them her whole like.  It was WAY fun to ride her over them.  Almost as fun as riding Flame over them.  It’s like a roller coaster for me and I love them.  Miss Daizy handled them like a pro.

The last three miles got tricky.  She was tired and people started coming up on us and crowding.  She was not happy.  In fact, although she never actually let out a kick, she was throwing her ass at horses behind her and pinning her ears.  I decided to forgive her because it was a very large crowd of horses, all grouped together, and a couple of those horses were very rude, pushing into the group and generally being naughty.

The last three miles was not as fun for me as the first 22 miles (chuckle).  She was very very gretzy to any horse coming up behind her.  This is good for me to know.  When she gets tired, she gets cranky.  Got it!

We finished with 8 minutes left before our time would be up.  Thank you Cate and Kevin for getting us into the finish on time.  I believe that if I was left alone that last 3 miles, we would have been a little over time because Miss Daizy was getting tired.  (and I forgot to wear my watch so I had no idea what the time was)

Final vetting – she trotted out at the end like she did at the beginning.  Loose and flowy, with her little Arab tail up in the air.  WOW!  No draggin, no lunge whip for motivation.  She was PERFECT!  Everything else checked out wonderfully and I was eyeballing the score sheets and only saw two half point penalties on the score sheet.  Really?  Can that be true?  I am so used to having about 15 1/2 point penalties.

I have to finish the rest of this story after I get the final results from Cate or Kara.  I didn’t want to stay for awards because it was already 4:30 and I had a 2 1/2 hour drive home.  I went in to tell Donna I was leaving and she said, “But Dodie, you’re gonna get an award,  you did really well.”  WHAT????  I have never won an award at a CTR.  I really suck at CTR’s.  We scored a 99 out of 100.  WOWZA!  I was on cloud nine that I (apparently) did so well!  It wasn’t me, it was Miss Daizy!

I love my gretzy Arabian mare!  Thank you, Renee for selling her to me!

Monday morning update:  Oh my, it has been 8 years since I’ve ridden a trotting horse and I have only been riding on Miss Daizy since November.  My “buns of steel” are actually “buns of pain” today.  Nothing else hurts, just my butt cheeks.  Posting will make me stronger (grin).