Red Mares

I am finally mostly recovered from Vacation mode and back in the swing of things at work. I landed in Austin Monday night, and I finally got to see my horse yesterday who was not bad, but also not that great. But I’m not worried. We had a “bad” day, but it was the kind of ride that once upon a time was called a good day, so I’m rolling with it. Despite being happy to see my horse and my dog and my boyfriend, I’m already missing the beautiful Virginia hills and the fancy mares (and one gelding) at the family farm. I really had a fabulous time, and didn’t even realize how badly I needed a vacation until I was there. There’s going to be a lot of media in this post, because that’s the only way to really do this trip justice!

First off, the farm is absolutely gorgeous. It’s several miles outside of Appomattox, and the 26ish acres my parents own has gently rolling hills that are great for conditioning, with a pond and trails. It’s horsey heaven.

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This is the back field that will eventually serve as a derby field, but right now it’s used for getting out of the ring and galloping and having fun. And holy cannoli it’s beautiful.

Pretty much all I did all week was play with the babies and the sale horses, and I groomed big mama mare to get some of the winter fuzz and general crud off of her since she gets a little neglected while she’s not doing anything. My mama has the two babies, Stellar and Beau, Bethany our retired broodmare, and two horses for sale/lease.

One of the sale horses is an Irish Sport Horse mare, Celi, that has been with her for years. The mare was bred by the current owners, and they spent years enjoying watching their horse showing around the country, but they’ve decided that it’s time for her to find a new owner that will enjoy her and all she has to offer.

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She’s so handy!

The other sale horse is actually our mare’s first baby, Evanna, who was bred to do dressage (she’s by Harmony’s Rousseau), but didn’t like the job and is now being retrained to play in the hunter/jumper world. It hasn’t been decided what exactly she wants to do because she’s still so green over fences, but after playing around on her, I think she’ll make a fun equitation horse.

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Weeee! I’m in love.

I played around a lot with lengthening and shortening on Evanna, because she was a little worried about letting me take contact. Once she figured out the exercise, she really enjoyed stretching longer and lifting her back. During those nice moments, she felt so amazing, and it was really neat to be able to unlock that on a brand new (to me) horse. We jumped a few jumps during my second ride, but the mare was feeling extra green that day and I just wasn’t finding things well, so I spent most of my rides with her working on the flat on adjustability and using her back through transitions rather than wanting to get hollow and tense (hey, who do I know that has this tendency?).

Celi is super broke, but is heavier in the hand just because of her build and her job. I worked mostly on getting her to respect my aids on the flat, and spent most of the second ride jumping around some twisty courses. As usual, she was super honest when I biffed a distance, and picked her feet up no matter what happened. This mare is seriously as honest as the day is long, and she’s sooo handy! (If anyone in the VA area wants a fun little jumper/eventing horse…)

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“Not hard enough lady! Make it bigger!”

I made both mares hand gallop a little, Evanna because she needed to know she could go forward and not hit my hand, and Celi because she was ignoring my leg, and they both made me giggle.

Evanna took a whole long side to figure out what was happening, and still never really galloped, even though she thought she was,because #dumblood (really, that’s my favorite kind of ride):

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“What do you want from me woman??!!”

Celi on the other hand, took a few strides to stop being cranky, and then galloped reallyfastsofast but still not nearly as fast as my little ottb does when we practice lengthening, and that made me giggle too:

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“I am part race horse, can’t you tell??”

They were both really so good though, and it was fun to ride a horse other than Val and feel pretty competent. It was also cool to ride something as nice and fancy as Evanna and to get a glimpse at what Stellar might be like. While there were distinct differences, I could feel a lot of similarities between Evanna and her mama.

I loved the footing in the new arena, and even when it rained over night, I was able to hack around no problem through puddles and all. It was pretty nice.

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My favorite part about Evanna was by far her canter. She sometimes wants to be a smidge behind the vertical, or poke her nose out too much, but even despite those things, it’s such an easy canter to ride. She definitely got that from Bethany. Right now the hardest thing about her is that her canter is just too elastic and adjustable, so it’s really easy to sit up and shorten too much, or give a squeeze to close the distance and get tight. And really, that is not a bad problem to have.

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We also had some really fun adventures with the babies, but I’m going to leave all of that for another post, and let this post be dedicated to the red mares of Still Waters Farm.

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Of all of the places I’ve gotten to ride, Virginia is by far the most beautiful, and where I felt the most peaceful on a horse. What about you? Where is your horsey happy place?

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