Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tucker and Mooch Go to the Sea!

(When I was little, my favorite book was Little Gray Rabbit Goes to the Sea.... this adventure reminded me of that story.)

Island Beach State Park is (I think) the only beach in New Jersey where you're allowed to ride horses. For my local friends, you can go there anytime between October and April, you just have to call ahead and make a reservation, 10 horses maximum per group. [Note that even though I called ahead, they didn't have my name down when we arrived, but luckily no one else had reserved the day.  Next time to be on the safe side I'm going to try to get confirmation in writing or at least the name of the person I speak to.]  It's free to ride other than a $10 parking fee to get into the park, and there's a huge parking lot to park the trailer and get tacked up.  If you're within driving distance, I highly recommend making plans to do this.  

Although Ethan and I have ridden other horses on other beaches....

This is the first time we've ridden our own horses on our home shore.  I think it's fair to say that it's pretty much every Jersey girl's dream to ride her horse on the beach.  Bucket list item - check. 

Tucker started off fairly alarmed (we may have run sideways and backwards up a sand dune) at the fact that there was a LAKE MAKING THUNDER (REPEAT: LAKE.  MAKING. THUNDER.) but once he realized that Mooch was not at all concerned, he settled in.

He felt the footing was a bit deep in some places for his liking and inquired as to when the last time it was dragged and whether anyone had considered the benefits of GGT for this ring. (The footing is actually fine, although it is a beach. We stuck to a walk for the whole ride, but if he had been a little bit braver about the water, we probably could have trotted along the water line where the sand was firmer. Maybe next time.)

He did not want to leave his buddy's side so followed right along when Ethan went to investigate this huge sea bass.  And... then it flopped.  And Tucker said, SHARRRRRRRRRRK!  I'm not sure who jumped harder at the spook - Tucker or these fishermen.  

All in all though we were very impressed with how well the boys behaved.  Lots of great photo opps, beautiful views, and definitely one of those days when you realize that everything looks better through a horse's ears.


My favorite shots of the day:

So glad we did this.  A few of these are definitely going in a frame. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Brooke USA

Since my Tucker news from last week includes such riveting things as "he got fuzzier" and "he even got mud inside his ear," I thought I'd share some more global news with you guys.

As you know, I love donkeys.  A lot.  And I love dressage (it is shockingly addictive when you are a Type A person like myself).

So, I couldn't help but break out into a smile to see that Charlotte Dujardin and Alice Oppenheimer went to India to work with the Brooke team last week.

The Brooke, for those of you who don't follow every donkey-related charitable organization in the world, is an international animal welfare organization dedicated to helping working donkeys, mules, and horses in poor communities - Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Egypt, Jordan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Guatemala and Nicaragua, and Mexico. From what I understand, they provide both treatment for equines in need as well as training and education for their owners, which is great for the long term health of these working animals.  They've done some great things in the past year or so alone since I've been following them.  The Brooke USA is the American branch of this organization, through which those of us in the U.S. can donate

So Charlotte and Alice went to India last week, and visited the brick kilns and an equine fair, to assist with the Brooke's work and promote the organization. The Brooke USA gave me permission to share some photos with you - which I feel like you need to see if you haven't already because it will really make you idolize these DQ's more than you already do, and hopefully encourage you (like me) to support this organization.  

Sadly the baby in the last two photos, who was found separated from mom/abandoned at the equine fair, did not survive after being treated for days by the Brooke's vets.  Sad story for a Monday, I know, but all the more reason to get involved.

On a lighter note.... I'll leave you with Charlotte, Alice, and Eddie the Mule:

Charlotte, Alice and Eddie
We've got a VERY special #BrookeMeetsCharlotte update for you! Check out Charlotte Dujardin and Alice Oppenheimer Dressage's video diary from their first day in India... starring none other than Eddie the mule!Stay tuned as we'll be bringing you updates later today on what the team have been up to on their second day in India...
Posted by The Brooke on Wednesday, October 28, 2015

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Long Ear Love!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Videos from ECRDA Champs

I normally get a serious case of the mopes when I watch myself on video and do a lot of whining about it.  But I'm actually happy with these.  My position still needs revamping (in the stretching up, sitting down, pulling my shoulders back, and getting my elbows in departments), and these tests certainly aren't flawless, but overall it's a pretty smooth picture, and even I (as critical as I am) can see evidence of progress both in how Tucker is going and how I'm riding.

I am most proud of the zig-zag leg yield in the 1-3 test.  We have not scored better than a 5.5 on that all season, and this time it was a 7.5.  It was the focus of our lesson with Amy last time, and I'm so pleased to see how the work in that lesson translated to these results.  

Tucker is getting a much deserved week off this week.  Not for any particular reason, I just realized it's been a very long time since he's had any downtime (over a year).  Not that I'm complaining that he hasn't needed any time off (***NOTE TO UNIVERSE: NOT A CHALLENGE***).  But I figured working straight through for the past year and winning all these big fancy ribbons:

... means he's earned a week of being fuzzy and doing this:

Last night I went out and gave him a good grooming and stuffed his face full of treats.  He did not complain a bit.  

Monday, November 2, 2015

ECRDA Reserve Champions!

Tucker and I finished up our show season on a high note on Sunday!  To add to his ESDCTA Reserve Championship, 10th place BLM finish, and overall awesomeness, Tucker is now the ECRDA (East Coast Regional Dressage Association) First Level Reserve Champion as well.  We missed Champion by only a tenth of a point (!), with a score of 69.219 in 1-2 and 71.471 in 1-3, our best score to date.  I will happily take the second tri-color with scores like that.  I realize this is a GMO series and not the Olympics, but my heart just swelled with pride for this amazing horse when I saw the scores and read the tests.

I didn't have time this weekend to write up a detailed post, so you're getting an unedited photo dump instead. All you need to know for now is that Tucker is perfect, and adorable, and Alyssa is the best show groom and photographer ever, and Tucker loves her to pieces.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  He is the best thing that's ever been mine.