I'm back! I'm still having a hard time believing it, but since I last wrote I've been to one new continent and am now settling into my new home on another: after Christmas my family went for the family vacation of a lifetime to Egypt--where we got to cruise on the Nile, explore temples that had spent centuries hidden under sand, ride camels (!!), and climb into the Great Pyramids-- and then instead of returning to the US I've come up to Oxford to start my time abroad. Pretty unreal!! I've only spent one day in the UK so far but have enjoyed patchy sunshine (enjoying that while I can!!) and ridiculously beautiful countryside. My program doesn't start until tomorrow, so my mom (who has business in Germany in a few days and so is also staying over) and I are planning on spending today to get some exploring done. So excited!
Meanwhile, I admit that I've been at a total loss on how to proceed with my profiles for Ringo and Kiki, as the entirety of my careers with both of them are included in this blog. I've tried to start a few times, but have ended up feeling very repetitive. So, I'm going to go the cop-out route and stick to some more basic write ups of them, but instead will include what my hopes are for them for 2011-- a weird thing to contemplate, as 2011 will be a year where I will mostly NOT be with them!!
Show Name: Ringmoylan
Height: 16.2 hh
Color: Black and White
Markings: Star, Snip, big scar on LH
Years we've Been Together: 2009- present
(Ringo's first day in California - what a cute little beast!!)
My parents bought Ringo for me when we realized we had to retire Dually with the hope that I could gain some more upper level experience on him. He had already proven himself as an excellent Intermediate horse, doing numerous CCI**s with his amateur owner before me; I also found out later that, in his youth, he had been a hunt horse for Mrs. Mars (of Mars Candy Bar and owner-for-Karen O'Connor fame) and had been a favorite of Sally O'Connor (David O'Connor's mother, a famous official, and an author of numerous books on riding)... enough to even put him on the cover of one of her books! So basically, he was a huge celebrity, to the point that even in California people would come up to me at pretty much every show I took him to with stories of how they'd known Ringo as a young horse and how much they loved him.
(Ringo the model)
He definitely lives up to his famous name, too! He is by far the best-educated horse I've ever been lucky enough to sit on, and every ride I have on him I feel like he's teaching me something new. His movement is extravagant and easy-- a big change from Dually's sewing-machine gaits!-- and has actually required me to learn how to sit, how to carry myself, and how to really ride. He is also by far the cleverest horse I've ever met, to both his advantage and his disadvantage: I often feel like he can read a question faster than I can and so can know immediately how to put himself in the best position possible, but he is also good enough at remembering bad experiences to be a heck of a worrier and a sensitive flower.
I actually think that Ringo and I have very similar personalities: we're both perfectionists, both naturally hard on ourselves, and both try very hard to please. When we can both get on a positive track, we're unstoppable! But I also have to be careful because we easily start to derail one another when we get negative. With Ringo, I've had to learn to control my mental game like with no horse I've ever met before, which-- though it's been very hard at times-- is something I'm incredibly thankful for. The feeling of riding Ringo when I've mastered my own mind and so can channel his is truly incredible, and is something that I dearly look forward to getting back to in the coming year.
(When we're on the same page, we can move mountains together)
For 2011, my only goal for Ringo is that he be happy and sound. I'm a bit green around the gills about leaving him for his rehab program, but there's no way around it and fortunately he is in the best hands possible at my old trainer's in South Carolina. In a perfect world, I would want to be able to come back from my time in England and walk, trot, and canter Ringo in the ring at home, and have him feel as even and free and wonderful as the day I first tried him, when I felt an instant connection to him like no other horse before. I want him to be loose and relaxed and happy with his work, whatever level of intensity that may be. I truly love just getting on him and walking around-- I feel lucky even when I go on hacks with him-- and so I just hope that he'll be able to return to some level of work where I can enjoy him under saddle again.
(Ringo has the best canter... I could just cruise around all day)
Of course, most ideally he would return to full work (and at the moment he is on track to doing so) but I don't want to get my hopes up; I know so many horses that have almost made it back and then gotten reinjured, or for whom the rehab process reached a certain plateau and could go no further without discomfort. So, as long as he reaches a place where he is stable and happy, I'm determined to be happy as well, whatever that place may be.
Show Name: Waikiki
Breed: ISH (American Bred)
Height: 15.3 1/2 hh
Markings: None, though I was looking at her baby coggins the other day and apparently she used to have a blaze when she was a foal! What an adorable little fuzzball she must have been
Years we've Been Together: 2010-Present
(Kiki nommin at GMHA this summer)
We actually bought Kiki as a broodmare prospect when my parents were thinking of revitalizing the breeding program we'd had going when I was younger. Pa and I went down to a couple farms in Maryland/Virginia and must have looked at over 300 hundred young horses in a few days: at Acorn Hill Farm, where we would eventually get Kiki from, they just drove us around from field to field and let us go in and look at whole pastures of 1-, 2-, 3- and 4- year olds at once. We saw soo many fancy young things that just oozed class, but for some reason when we pulled out of the last farm's driveway I just couldn't get one horse that we'd seen early in the morning at Acorn Hill out of my head. She probably wasn't the best, conformationally, of all the horses we'd seen, as she was pretty small and had a low-set neck (though other than that she's pretty well put together), but when I'd gone up to say hi to her I'd fallen instantly, blindly, in love with her.
(The real question is, how could you NOT fall instantly in love with her??)
That horse, of course, was Kiki. She went off to get backed and started while I was starting my Freshman year at Stanford, meaning that even though we'd technically owned her since 2008, I didn't get to start riding her until this past January. And what a blast she is! Unlike Ringo, who is basically my twin personality-wise, Kiki is nothing like me at all in some crucially awesome ways: she's fiercely self-confident, unflappable, and doesn't hold a grudge. We are both very independent, which sometimes makes things "interesting," but in general her best qualities compliment mine and vice versa.
(Kiki's self-confidence makes her a natural on cross-country... she's never batted an eye at anything, and even made her first Training seem easy)
For 2011, I'd also like Kiki to not only be happy and sound, but also grow under the tutelage of my trainer, who I still firmly think is the best and most compassionate rider I've ever met. If I were to imagine what I hope she'd feel like when I got back on her for the first time after this break, it would be with that lovely floaty trot I can sometimes get 100% confirmed, her occasional aid-rejection and hyper-sensitivity diminished, her canter a big horse canter instead of the pogo-stick impression we usually do now, and her rushing to the fences still a thing of the past (we shook that this summer... hopefully it will hold!). If all of those things were to come true it would be a pretty massive transformation, I know, but a girl can dream right?
(Kiki in rocketship mode at her first Novice)
Ideally I'd love to do some shows with Kiki when I get back in the fall, but that seems very, very far away at this point, and there are many things that can go wrong between now and then. Let's have a happy reunion with all parties sound and content, and then get to showing after that =)
(Can't wait to see Kiki again!!)