Baby's First Horse Trial

Runkle was entered in the auspicious starter division at Flora Lea's August starter trials. I have a hard time facing off adorable little kids on even cuter ponies. How am I supposed to top that ever? They had BOWS in their pigtail braids. BOWS.

Our competition. wtf.
We didn't even have to leave the farm for things to start going sideways. I loaded Runkle up on a two horse, which he has definitely been on before and been fine with. Except Saturday. That was absolutely not okay and not allowed. He got on and started thrashing around like an eel, kicking behind him so violently that the other horse we were trying to load went "Are you insane? I'm not getting on there with him."

I pulled him off to load the other horse first and in the scuffle he managed to bash his head somewhere on the trailer. He skinned the top of his head and sliced his ear. Oi, horse. I do have a headbumper (bought for a horse at least a hand and a half taller than this monkey) so he might have to sport that next time we go out. Should be hilarious, I'll be sure to post pictures.

I'm going to call it his dunce cap.
Upon arriving at Flora Lea I walked the cross country course, unloaded, and took my horse shaped kite for a fly. Decided to scratch right then and there.

I have no illusions about my own bravery. I feel bad saying this, but I still don't completely trust Runkle. He's definitely athletic, and I can never quite tell how he's going to respond to certain things. For example: in my dressage lesson on Friday one of the kids who lives at the big house at the farm was running around. Normally a non-issue for Runkle. But on Friday the kid was dressed like Buzz Lightyear and that was terrifying to him.

But the longer we waited the quieter he got. Due to an unfortunate accident with another rider at my barn, I was coachless while a seriously injured horse was tended to. So I was left to make the call on my own. He's quieter. Should I try and get on? Do I think I can warm up and ride a test by myself?

After a bit of a kick in the butt perspective wise (thanks again,  Michelle!) I decided I would tack up and walk around warm up. We could do that, right? So we did. I figured I might as well warm up and pretend like I'm going to do the test. Easy. And we did that too. An hour after deciding to scratch I found myself trotting down center line. Go me.

Since no one died I decided to just go for it and try jumping as well. And not just stadium, but the cross country I didn't remember walking because I couldn't fathom making it that far. I should probably have learned by now not to bet against myself. Especially when even a little bit of that competitiveness in me rears it's smug little head.

Crossrails! We love crossrails.

We got eliminated on cross country at the 'water' jump. For starter you didn't have to actually go through the water, it was flagged so you could trot past it. Flora Lea's water is the least inviting one I've ever seen, so I don't really fault him for giving me a pretty hard no. But I sat there and talked to him and patted him as he took one step forward and four back until he walked past it.

I've gotta say, having a baby is turning out to be an ass-kicking course in horsemanship.

I've learned pretty immediately to swallow my own goals and pride to do what's Right. It's an easy thing to say on paper but more difficult when I miss the absolute crap out of cross country and am used to riding really trained, brave horses over training level fences. I have to make the decision about when he needs to be coaxed because he's genuinely unsure and when he needs to be smacked because he's acting like a stubborn, bellicose little pony.

But I'm having the absolute time of my life, so as challenging as it is I can't really complain.


  1. That last picture is AWESOME!! Good on you for getting out there and making the best of your day even when things looked like they might unravel. Runkle is so cool - you guys are gonna have so much fun!!

  2. I love that last picture! I know baby horses have made me a better person. They have a knack for not only bringing you back to reality but also giving you some of the best times.

  3. But all that purple tho. ;) He'll get there. Babies are tough, but once things click they start coming together fast. It's just a matter of not slitting your wrists before you get to that point.

  4. Your expression in that last picture is awesome. baby horses drive me up a wall. Which is why I bought a mule who apparently is a permanent baby horse and 2.5 years later we are still doing Intro. I hope your baby horse grows up faster than mine. At least you're having fun in the meantime.


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