Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Bitch is Back

First off, thanks to everyone who wrote in after my last post--it was really reassuring to hear from so many of you and I'm so thankful for your kindness and support. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of continuing the blog when I move to England, so continue the blog I shall :)

I've toyed with starting a new domain like I did last time when I studied abroad (you can read that blog here), but have for the moment elected against it. I didn't like how clunky (and at times arbitrary) it felt deciding when I would write on which one--was one just for horses, and the other not? Well many of my daily thoughts revolve around horses, whether I'm actually riding them or not, so the distinction seemed muddy. By keeping it all in one place, I'm hoping I can give a more streamlined--and complete--representation of my experience. I am, however, planning on changing my blog title (though the URL will remain unchanged) and already have a good idea that relates to what will hopefully be my new main athletic activity without horses, so stay tuned...

But all that talk isn't the main purpose of this post.  The real exciting news is that...

Kiki is back!!

Now, where did Kiki go, you might ask? She's been suspiciously absent from the blog this summer, it's true. After her lessor got married and very sadly had to move away to start grad school with her new husband in Michigan, we weren't sure what to do with the Monster. 

I'm still hoping to sell her (especially now, as I'm going to school) but decided over the course of the spring that perhaps eventing wasn't the ideal job for her, as it's become obvious as she's grown older that she simply does not enjoy dressage enough to make it pleasant for either her or her rider at a competition. She's a nice mover on the flat and can actually be quite lovely when she's allowed to go in a nice open frame, but she has a naturally low neck set that makes really compressing for dressage difficult, especially in the confines of a small dressage arena.

So, this summer has been about slowly shifting her focus away from eventing and towards a new career, hopefully in the hunter/jumper world. I hadn't ridden her in a long time by the time her lessor left, so I took it nice and easy for the first half of the summer, just flatting her lightly and doing a lot of lunging and groundwork to get her feeling as confident as possible. I also fattened her up quite a bit to celebrate her move out of eventer-land (as her lessor had her quite trim this spring when they were competing a lot): a move that Kiki definitely had no complaints about!

(Fighting fit Kiki this spring at Morven)

(Noticeably chubbier Kiki this August - I also gave her plenty of opportunities to live up to her Piggy nickname... which, as you can see, she took full advantage of)

At the beginning of August it came to the point where Kiki was going quite well on the flat and it was time to start jumping her again. I think even a year ago I would have allowed my pride to get in the way and gnashed my teeth at the idea of handing the reins over to someone else, but if Kiki has been good for me in one way, it has been to complete restore my humility as a rider (often on a daily basis).

So, I handed the reins over to my friend and show jumping instructor Molly Kenney, who has been jumping Kiki once a week for the last month. And, I must say, even watching Molly jump her over their first few fences together, I knew I'd made the right decision. I am a perfectly capable rider, but I've never been consistent enough to give Kiki the ride she needs over fences. Molly, on the other hand, brings out the best in Kiki right from the beginning, and it's been so fun to watch her go so well with Molly's guidance. 

This weekend we took Kiki to her first jumper show in many years (I took her to a few as a young horse in 2010) at the Myopia polo fields in beautiful Hamilton, Mass. And... Kiki was such a champ!! She jumped easily around two 3' classes in slippery footing (barefoot, I might add), just accumulating a few time penalties in the first round and coming home quick and clear for the win in the second! What a wonderful flying piglet!!

(It was also weird to be a show just as an owner/groom, and not riding or watching Pa or Ma ride)

Here's Kiki's first round:

And her second:

The best part of the show was how relaxed and happy Kiki was throughout; she really seemed like she was enjoying herself. Our plan is to take her to a few more low-key shows in September, and then hopefully find a new home for her--fingers crossed! It's really exciting to think that perhaps we've found her a job that she really loves. 


Jess said...

Show jumping is my great love. Kiki looks like she'll be good at it. I hope she finds a great home and I'm sad that I can't snap her up myself!

Jess said...

And thanks for getting Elton John stuck in my head. :)

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