Grownups Do Not Ride Unicorns

Another semi-effortless post.

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Pony Shopping “Adventures”

This is from my Blue Ridge Pony Blog.  It is very typical of how my life seems to roll.  Enjoy.

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In the past I have completely enjoyed pony shopping.  But this time around it has been more like shopping for pants (ladies will know what I mean).  None of these ponies fit right!

I found one pony that sounded really promising, 13.2h, stocky, fully under saddle, but mostly used on trail.  After a few emails back and forth and some additional photos, I called the owner.  She seemed pretty honest and told me he was an adult’s pony, and has some get up and go but has been out of work for a bit.

Perfect.

We discussed me coming with my trailer since it was a four hour drive to reach her farm and arranged for me to come up Saturday evening.

Saturday morning she sent me the address and I was very excited.

I headed out at 2pm that day, straight after working the farmers market, with trailer in tow, and traveled the first two hours to Hagerstown, Maryland to meet my friend Lindsey, who was kind enough to join me on the adventure.

She pulled into the mall parking lot and jumped out of her car to climb into my truck.  I popped the key into the ignition and… click click click.

hum.  That’s not good.

After a second unsuccessful attempt, we climbed back out and I popped the hood.

I admit, a full wave of total panic flooded over me.

Lindsey asked if I had jumper cables and I am completely embarrassed to admit that no, I did not have jumper cables in that truck.  I really hope my dad is not reading this because he would be extremely disappointed in me.  If you are reading this dad, I have remedied this and now have jumper cables in both trucks!

Lindsey, keeping her cool, told me she was going to run around the corner and pick some jumper cables up and would be right back.  She calmly instructed me, “deep breath, Ill be right back”.

I stood there for about 20 seconds, looking lost with the hood up, and a very good samaritan pulled up and offered his help.

Thank everything that is good in this world for honest to god good people.

He hopped out, jumper cables in hand, popped his hood and connected my truck to his car.  Then, as if that was not fantastic enough, he whipped out a battery tester and confirmed that my battery was indeed, in the crapper.  After a few minutes we got my truck started and Lindsey and I headed across the parking lot and got the battery replaced.

The whole ordeal from truck not starting to us being back on the road with a new battery took 40 minutes.  Not bad!

Ouch

We had called the pony owner lady from the repair station and left a voice mail about our car trouble and delayed arrival time.  And we were now back on the pony adventure road, laughing and having a truly ruckus time.  We found ourselves traversing some crazy back roads, going through 25 mile an hour towns, twisting and turning all over the mountains.  And not a gas station in sight.  We were not even sure at what point we left the state of Maryland and entered the state of Pennsylvania.  Can we say, Deliverance?

We were told this rout would be faster than the oh-so-efficient, PA Turnpike, Not.

The next bump in our adventure came about thirty minutes from our destination (it is worthy to note, we should have already arrived about 30 minutes earlier) in the form of a phone call from the pony owner’s husband.  He informed us that he and his wife were going through marital issues, and would not be unable to meet us.

Say what?

He told us this was the first he had heard about us coming, he apologized for the trouble and informed us he had arranged for his non horse friend to meet us.

uh, OK.

So we pulled into the farm, quite a bit later than expected and it was nearly dark.

Goal, get tack on the pony and spin it around a few times.

Luckily I had a saddle in my trailer, but unfortunately no useable bridle could be found in the barn.  Non-the-less, I climbed on, in the then, full dark, and Lindsey walked with me as we lapped the round pen one time.  At that point the field of horses behind us began thundering around, unseen in the dark, freaking the pony out.  Great.

In that full minute of sitting on the pony, he did feel good under me, but that’s about all I got out of it.

I dismounted and we took the pony to the well lit barn.  Unfortunately the stalls were all inhabited with wildly barking dogs that you couldn’t see and don’t forget the uncountable number of cats that were jumping out of and laying everywhere.  The pony was not happy and was becoming more and more freaked out.

The adventure just kept getting more and more awesome.

We checked him over and jogged him out and decided to take the gamble and throw him in the trailer.

Easier said than done.  20 minutes of unsuccessful loading and we had made very little progress.  The non horse person who was selling us the pony for his friend, and had thus far shown impeccable patience, became a bit impatient, and decided he was going to get the pony on the trailer.  His professional method of dragging a thousand pounds of pony by the lead rope, proved, as expected, less than successful, and resulted in the lead rope breaking.  Which sent the pony off, lapping the neighborhood in full dark, near a busy road.

Did I just buy pony burgers?

Thirty minutes later the pony came trotting back up the driveway and right up to us.  We clipped on a new lead and headed back to continue our loading attempts.

This time we attempted the age old loading technique of offering feed to the pony.  Interestingly, no pony feed could be found in the barn, so we were working with rabbit chow, but the same result was being met, and we made minor progress over the following ten minutes.  Shortly, the non horse friend again became impatient and hit the pony in the head a few times before grabbing the pony’s head in a suspected wrestling move, again, sending the pony away from the trailer.

Forward progress, ended.

At that point I decided that it was just a bad situation, and mother-karma was all but bitch slapping me in the face to, NOT buy that pony, so I gave in and said enough.

I got my money back, Lindsey and I got in the truck and drove away, pony-less.

We were careful to take the turnpike for the drive back.  Score!

woo, toll booth!

note: insane face. Got a toll ticket.

I arrived at home at 2am, and headed straight to bed.

Simon loving being loved on

Ironically, and totally fitting for how my life seems to work, the next day I planned to head to the Orange Horse Auction an hour away.  I started my day off by loving on Simon and telling him he is the best pony in the world.  I then ran a few errands, driving my other truck, which also died and needed a jump and consequently a new battery.

Yes, both of my trucks needed new batteries in under 24 hours.

That’s just how my life rolls.

After outfitting the little truck with a new battery, I headed home and decided that I was not meant to purchase a pony that weekend, and should probably spend the rest of the day lazing about on the couch with Daisy.

Cheers for pony shopping adventures.  Lets hope the next, and hopefully last one, is less exciting.

My Blog Was Cyber Bullied

In an attempt to keep this blog from being bogged down with pony talk, I have a second blog, Blue Ridge Pony, where I talk about my equestrian adventures.  It’s a pretty simple noncontroversial blog, where I post a lot of photos of my pony, talk about competitions I take part in, trail rides I go on, products I have tried and just general pony antics.   It gets some traffic, but is certainly not a popular blog, which is ok with me because I use it as a fun sort of way to document what I am doing in the equine world. 

Yesterday at lunchtime I received an email notice that there was a comment on my BRP blog, in response to a post I made in early February.  Being one of the very few comments this blog has received, I eagerly pulled it up.  After reading it I questioned if it was a legitimate comment, or if it was instead a new type of clever spam, because the response did comment on my post, but it completely missed the very clear and simple point, and seemed more like the writer had only read the headline. 

The blog post in question is titled “Sunday Hunting” and is about Virginia’s decision to continue to ban hunting on Sundays.  It is actually a repost from this blog, which I consider to be a much more controversial and opinionated blog than my BRP blog.  I include a calendar that the Virginia Horse Counsel put out that marks days that are open to some form of hunting so riders can decide if they want to venture into the woods, or if they want to put on blaze orange or caution yellow.  In the post I comment that it is my preference to keep the ban in place.

The commenter was clearly and outspokenly interested in changing the law to allow hunting on Sundays.     

The difference in opinion is fine, and his statement, although it sounded rash and a bit off topic, was  fine.  But it was quickly followed by additional comments, by the same poster as well as a few additional posters.  The comments quickly turned malicious, feeding off of each other’s lack of sense and rational,  and snowballed into utter nastiness.  Wild ‘facts’ were thrown out, including the statement that someone in the woods is more likely to be hit by a meteor than hurt by a hunter’ and that no rider or horse had ever been hurt by a hunter, claiming propaganda and conspiracy theories against hunting. 

I also got a few ping backs on my blog, which lets you know when your blog has been listed as a link in another location.  I followed the pings and came to a Facebook group titled “Legalize Virginia Sunday Hunting For All”.  And the unpleasantness, and lack of actually reading my blog posts before jumping to conclusions, was continued.  The lead instigator, a grown man,  was joined by other grown men, and they were fully involved in a cyber bullying frenzy. 

In the commenter’s defense, I had not listed the reasons in my original blog post as to why I prefer hunting to remain banned on Sundays, nor did I elaborate that I am pro-hunting, and supportive of hunters rights.  Although it was apparent that they were truly not reading the blog post before commenting anyway, and preferred to make their own assumptions.  But I did leave them to decide my reasoning on their own.  And they were, as expected, wildly and totally off the mark. 

By this time I had received a good dozen comments, that rolled from irrational smears to outright verbal attacks and threats to myself and my horse.  I quickly turned on the blog’s built in comment monitor, and removed those that had already appeared to the public, because nothing healthy was happening.  Certainly threatening my life and my horse’s life, does not further the cause of legalizing hunting on Sundays, or stay in line with the upbeat, friendly blog I have intended to provide. 

The assaults continued both on the FB group and on the now, unpublicized comments, gaining aggression, until I finally shut down my blog. 

I am sad to see a group of grown men, act like a bunch of school yard bullies, while hiding behind computer screens. 

Certainly any creditable group would not make wild death threats to prove their point? 

If a true discussion was the intent, all a commenter had to type was “why do you not want hunting on Sundays” rather than attempting to publicly post an elaborate description of field dressing a horse

Sadly all of this was stated in the name of proving that hunters are responsible and should be allowed to hunt 7 days a week, and that everyone will be safe to enjoy the woods if it is permitted.

Yes you have shown your maturity, the degree of self control you possess and made the level of your rational thinking clear.    

Shame on you grown men, who give hunters a bad name.

Early Morning Ride

This is a quick shot I took of my pony Simon last week when we went for an early morning ride before work.  It was 6am and already in the 80s.  Gross.  But way less gross than it got later in the day. 

Place Holder

yep, I have been busy and completely neglecting this blog.  But I have been out racking up life experience so I have things to blog about when I get some time!

For now, I’ll leave you with this photo of myself riding my adorable pony Simon at the MGAA Mid-Atlantic #1 Mounted Games Competition April 28th weekend in Upper Marlboro, Maryland at the PG Equestrian Center. We are playing the Bottle Shuttle Race.

Photo credit to Ryan Crowley

Horse Racing; Historic, Nostalgic, Entertainment, Monetary, Cruel

Grand National Track (grandnational-tips.co.uk)

This past weekend the Grand National Hunt Race was run near Liverpool, England.  It is a world famous annual steeplechase, with history dating back to 1829. 

The Grand National is a real beast of a race.  It requires competitors to traverses 30 fences over an incredible 4 mile course taking about 9 minutes to complete.  This year 40 horses started the race.  The largest field consisted of 66 runners in 1929.  The age of the horse tends to be older than most US race horses with all previous winners falling between the ages of 5 and 15 years old.  Mares are permitted as are geldings.  Many of the horses that start this race, do not finish it.  The most horses to have completed the race was 23 in 1984 and the smallest number to finish was 2 horses in 1928. 

This is the copy of the National Velvet Book that I have

A little comparison can be made using the popular US thoroughbred race, the Kentucky Derby, which is run on the flat over a 1 ¼ mile course that takes about two minutes to complete.  It is run on a dirt tack and requires horses starting to be three year old Thoroughbreds.  The field usually consists of 20 horses and they do permit fillies.   The Kentucky Derby is the longest continuously run horse sport in US history. 

Both races have attracted the attention of animal activist for an array of reasons.  There were two horse deaths at this year’s Grand Nationals.  You can see in the video that the pack is diverted around one of the fences on the second loop to avoid an injured horse being euthanized behind a black curtain.  The statistics state that there are six deaths per 439 horses that take part in the race, taken from 2000-2010 (found that on Wikipedia).  Thoroughbred racing, speaking of the industry as a whole, is similarly pinned for several reasons including the young, under developed age of the horses that causes some of them to breakdown.  This industry is also criticized with how the horses are treated at the end of their very short racing careers.  Both races and industries do attract a massive amount of spectators and have become part of tradition with lengthy histories with a lot of financial backing.   And both the Grand National and the Thoroughbred Racing industry are trying to make compromises and enact better policies to minimize some of the issues. 

Velvet and Mi - Image from the Movie

The race is a bit nostalgic, and when I brought it up to a friend she said when she was a girl and read the book, National Velvet, she wanted to ride Pie in the Grand National.   Although now that she is an adult, the thought of riding in it scares the pants off of her.  I also read the book and watched the 1944 movie, over and over again.  I also wanted to be Velvet Brown, played in the movie by Elizabeth Taylor.  The book was published in 1935, with the story of this 12 year old girl taking place in England in the 1920’s,  when it was still common for armatures to take part in the race.  Although not women.  Velvet took an unruly horse and with the help of her best friend Mi, played by a young Mickey Rooney  in the film, trained for the Grand National.  With her identity and gender hidden, she took part in and won the race.  Quite the story for the horse crazed little girl! 

Sure sure, Velvet passes for a Russian Man, she doesn't look anything like a 12yo British girl. (image from the movie)

This weekend I looked at amazing and horrendous pictures taken at the 2012 Grand National.  I won’t place any of the photos in this post because I am not sure if that is ok since they are all professional and such.  But feel free to Google image search “Grand National 2012” for yourself.  If you have any interest in amazing action photography, or train-wreck-like-incidents caught on film, it will be worth your effort. 

I also watched the video of the race, which I have stuck into this post for your viewing pleasure.  Pretty wild.  Another friend commented that those animals want to win.  Which I think is pretty clear towards the middle where a rider-less horse leads the pack, and is clearly pushing to continue on in the lead.  The fences range between about 4 ½ and 5 feet, with varying ditches and drops added in.  Take a watch.  Even my husband, who has no interest in horses or any type of horse racing, was captivated. 

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