"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Thursday, May 21, 2015


Last Monday both Charles and I were off from work. It was hot as blue blazes with temps soaring into the 90's. My heat tolerance this year is definitely NOT what it used to be: we have finally acclimated to the cooler climate of the Mid-Atlantic. 90 degrees with a 70% humidity used to be a "nice summer day" for me. On this day, I could feel my heart rate accelerating from the heat just tacking up. Proper hydration is now an absolute must!

Not-as-recent photo of Lily looking gorgeous.
Her summer coat has completely come in, and that tree in the background is lush with green leaves now!
I have ridden Gracie with her bit all of one one time after having her teeth done: she is so much better sans bit that I have switched her to Lily's S-hack recently. She has not been gnashing her teeth anymore when wearing the bit but she's still just plain happier without it. She moves out very willingly in the S-hack but is quite responsive in it; I had no issues stopping her or slowing her down. I gave Charles the option of one or the other and he decided to try her in the S-hack: he'd been riding her in the bit after her dental. He asked the very intelligent question of whether he needed to do anything different with the hackamore vs the bit. I explained that he had to be more conscious about releasing pressure, as I deliberately had the curb chain a little more snug than usual (loose enough for one finger instead of two) so as to have maximum brakes, and also told him about one-rein stops if he absolutely had to stop her in a hurry. 

We stuffed our saddle bags with water bottles and decided to just do hill sets on the road, since it's a little easier on the horses. But after 3 reps Lily seemed incredibly bored (not Gracie; Gracie has no issues with going fast no matter the surface or direction!) so we decided to go down to the trail hill.

On our way down the trail, we stopped to break off some of the lower tree branches sticking out into the trail so as to avoid getting whipped in the face on each uphill trip. I want to point out that Lily stood at the first branch stock still while I struggled with the leafy thing, and then moved on to the next branch to wait while I ripped it off with both hands. This mare would have lost her mind if I'd attempted something like that in the past! 

The trail hill, as seen from the bottom of the hill.
Taken on a different day, but just so you guys can see it.
At the bottom of the hill, we turned the girls around and let them canter all the way up. By the second trip we agreed it was way too hot to do anything too strenuous. We had them gallop up two more times then decided to take them over to the river. 

Charles's riding has come a really long way. Part of Gracie's improved recoveries is due to the fact that his riding is so much more efficient: he has no issues staying centered and quiet in the saddle, which is incredibly helpful to the mare. 

Him and Gracie would make it to the bottom of the hill before Lily and me, and each time they'd gait a turn around the small field at the bottom of the hill. I got this video for you guys. This is Gracie's medium gait, aka "singlefoot" to the KMH people. Please make sure you are not drinking anything while viewing. :)

He brings her to a halt with his seat at the end.

If you look closely, in the video you can see that the river wraps around the edge of this field, beyond the tree line. 

There is a way down into the river from here that we had noticed but had not attempted. The footing looked like it could potentially be quite soft, so I dismounted from Lily and walked on ahead: safe. I then asked her to follow me down and she did, no problem: her feet didn't sink into the dirt. So then Charles on Gracie came after. 

We found a small path through some bushes...and out into this gorgeousness. You can't see this from the field above.

I gasped. 

When I was growing up, I used to take Lucero down to the Bayamon River which flowed through the valley across the street from our property. The river was very wide and very shallow, with a clear sandy bottom strewn with pebbles, and it was one of the few places where Lucero would gallop for me. (#gaitedhorseproblems) My grandfather would often accompany me down there on foot and laugh while he watched us having fun in the water. There was a bend in the river where he used to stand that looked so much like this.

I swear I could hear him laughing in the background when we found this spot. It had been exactly a week since the 10-year anniversary of his death. He made every dream I ever had come true, from learning to ride to owning my first horse to ending up with the man I married.

It couldn't have been more fitting, to find this little patch of river on this particular day with Lily who was sent by him and Gracie who was sent by Lucero, and Charles with me.

We let both horses go into the water and drink. 

He looks like he's been sitting on a horse all his life.
Gracie drank water SO much better with the S-hack!
There was an adorable moment where Lily and Gracie insisted on drinking from the exact same spot in the river but Gracie moved by the time I got the phone out. Booo!

I mounted back up so I could take Lily further out into the water. There is supposedly a swimming hole in this part of the river and I was bent on finding it. Charles and Gracie followed. 

I just love this river.
The water here was almost up to her chest. 
Looking off in the same direction.

Gracie was having so much fun!
This was right after she stopped to splash and splash in the water with a front hoof.
Charles asked, "Do you think we can canter?" Not in that spot: too many rocks in the water. 

But further up ahead the water was clear and you could see that all there was on the bottom was sand and pebbles strewn throughout. So I asked Lily to trot and she burst into this sort of carousel horse trot (if there is such a thing) where she was high stepping, bouncing through the water which splashed tremendously around us. 

Charles followed suit with Gracie. We were both laughing and our shoes were thoroughly soaked. But who cares! 

We walked them the rest of the way back to the big tree, and back up the river bank. 

The girls, fully cooled off, insisted on galloping back up the trail hill and we were both like, "What the heck," and let them. 

We walked the rest of the way home. Gracie would periodically snatch a mouthful of grass and try to gait off. Charles laughed at her, "She takes a bite of grass, does a happy side-to-side head bobble like Aengus, and then speeds up!" 

Once at the road to the barn, I had Charles try and see if he could get Gracie to speed rack. She had offered it on our most recent ride and it had been an absolute BLAST. I wanted to both catch it on video and allow Charles to experience it. Here it is. She starts out racking, then canters, then does a sort of canter-rack mishmash, then goes into her speed rack for a few strides after she passes me before breaking into a regular canter.

And some stills from the video, so you can see what she's doing with her legs:

The girls received baths, electrolytes and mashes once back at the barn, and Charles went to snag some banana milkshakes for both of us from the Little Red Barn while I finished setting up feed for the week.

It was a perfect day!


  1. First, I love the new blog header photo. You look so darn happy! What an incredible photo.

    Second, I really, really covet your river. We really don't have rivers like that here, especially right now. Right now, we have wide flooding plains and more rain falling from the sky. It kind of sucks. However, I can live vicariously through you . . . trotting through water is incredible. We used to take the horses into the canal when I was a kid. Tere was a spot where the water went from mid shin to the top of the withers and we would race up and down it, usually going deep to shallow, at the fastest pace the horses could manage. Feeling the water break and crest at my knees, flowing over thighs and seat like the breaking wave of an ocean is a memory I still carry with me. Pure unadulterated joy.

    Third, I am really impressed with your husband and so is Daniel. He wants C to join him for a buffalo hunt. I told him it would have to wait, that some day we would all go. C seems to have a very natural seat and he looks so comfortable on Gracie.

    I laughed at your comment under the first video. I'm glad others could benefit from my experience. :)

    1. I love that photo; it's from last year. :D

      Your river growing up sounds absolutely amazing. Thank you for sharing those memories! It made me grin from ear to ear.

      He's figured out posting! I taught him how, on the lunge back in FL on Mark's QH gelding Beau, who had a horrendous jackhammer trot.Gracie's is soooo smooth by comparison so it's kind of hard to post: she doesn't have a lot of suspension to it. You end up doing this tiny little post. I thought that's what he was doing but it was so slight that I wasn't sure. Until he bragged about it one day, "6 months ago I couldn't do this at all!" Yup, he's been posting Gracie's trot. :)

      Oh yes: I sent the video to Liz too and she said if she'd been drinking something, she totally would have spat it out laughing. Like what happened to you! Hahaha...Hence the official warning!

  2. The river looks perfect. I have a love-hate relationship with horses in water. I don't mind moving through it, but have had one too many experiences with a horse trying to roll without any warning at all to feel comfortable letting them stand any longer than it takes to drink.

    1. These two thankfully know better. When they're really hot, like on this day, we'll take them in as far as we can. Lily is very reserved about it but Gracie likes to paw and splash. We have her move on when she starts that.

      My horse Lucero used to love the river. He was always trying to lay down in it but he gave plenty of warning so I could always stop him. One very hot, muggy April 1st, we had gone through a particularly shallow spot in the river on our way to one of the deeper pools. On the way back we went through the same shallow spot. We were walking along when he suddenly sank to his chest. I was like, "What the hell?!" and twisted in the saddle to try to help him out...and my foot touched the bottom! He'd gone down on his knees mid-stride, bent on lying down in the water. I had to burst out laughing. I dismounted, which was of course his cue to completely lay down. I was able to get him back up before he could roll and remounted, but we were both drenched. I couldn't stop laughing...the reason why I remember the date is because it was the best horsey April Fool's ever...hahaha...

  3. Haha, I love the 'tada!' that Charles does at the end of that first video! Sounds like an amazing ride :)

    1. He was so proud of himself! Hahaha

  4. what a gorgeous river!! and the perfect spot to escape the heat!

  5. I am jealous. That is all.

    1. You and Liz need to come visit! :D

  6. Water play is the very best!!

    I couldn't even play that video of C again. I knew what would happen and I am certainly not in a place to laugh that much. The mere memory of the video has me grinning like a goon.

    LOVE the screenshots of the speed rack. Crazy cool.

    1. I'm glad you loved that video! Hahaha ;D

      And yes: Gracie's speed rack is pretty epic! You need to come back and ride her so you can play with all the new buttons. ;)