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Wizard Rides 529, 530, 531, 532, & 533: Never Miss a Beat

August 29, 2013

Raised the jump cups to about 2'9" this morning, and Wizard was a star.

Friday, 8/23/13

Lesson day! Carole came over and did a jumping lesson with us. I asked for some jumping exercises and input about our progress. After Wizard was warmed up, we trotted and then cantered over a series of five poles, set 9′ apart. At a trot, they were one trot stride apart. At a canter, they rode like a bounce. We did them on the left lead first. At the end of the poles, Carole instructed me to ask for a halt, sitting UP, not doing the typical slump and hunch with a pat. This kept Wizard’s hind end under him and was a good balancing exercise. He rushed through the first few times, but as I engaged my core and sat UP and really extended my arms, Wizard was able to use himself better. Interestingly, my dressage lessons and jumping lessons both echo each other with my position: hands up and out in front of me, not in my lap. On the right lead, Wizard was more balanced and rode through them quite nicely.

We graduated to a little grid with a cross rail to a pole to another cross rail. I thought the pole between jumps would make Wizard scramble a little, but it actually helped him with his rhythm and he rode it nicely. Carole raised the second jump to a vertical, and once I was able to reach my hands forward and get a little stronger in my leg, she raised it a few more holes. When we’re schooling without a trainer, I don’t jump more than two feet or so. With a professional watching, I felt comfortable working over slightly bigger fences. It felt great to graduate to some more substantial jumps. Wizard took them really nicely, and we got up to a 2’9″ vertical by the end of the lesson (picture above).

As I tightened my core and stopped throwing the reins away over fences, Wizard responded with a rounder, more balanced jumping style. I have a lot of work ahead of me if I want to get my leg strong enough for bigger jumps. I see a lot of stirrupless work in my future. I also could feel my position go out the window as we rode through the gymnastic lines. Carole would give us something to work on, and I could hold it to the jumps, and then it was gone. By the end of the lesson, I was at least carrying the seat and hands to the first fence. Now I need to keep it all the way through the line.

At the very end of the lesson, I could feel Wizard backing off from my leg just a little bit. He willingly took all the jumps, but it felt like he lost just a bit of his forward desire at the end. He actually added a stride for the very first time- he usually launches with a super-long distance.

We ended with an inviting cross rail and then I cooled him out. For a regular rider, it was not a lot of jumping, but for me and Wizard, it was a fun challenge. Carole’s great at evaluating a horse’s comfort level and working just to the point of building confidence for the next lesson.

Our homework is to canter poles, both in a series and as singles. I need to work on my hands and on my leg. I plan to do some half-seat canter work on the trails. It was a great lesson, and it felt great to take that step to the next level.

Saturday, 8/24/13

Kris and I went out on a fantastic 2-hour trail ride. The weather was perfect and the bugs weren’t too bad. We covered just under 6 miles, crossing a little stream, riding around some fields, and exploring a great wooded path that runs along the stream. Wizard let Sunny take the lead at the end of the ride. What a difference it is to ride him now from how he used to be. Gone is the horse who needs to be on the lead at all times and needs to be moving at a hurried walk. Now he can mosey along behind a trail buddy. It only took 4-5 years!

Sunday, 8/25/13

I only had a short window of time before work, so I rode Wizard in the outdoor arena and tortured myself with a little stirrup-free trot work. Wizard was happy enough to truck along while I did my best to get my position under control. I avoided riding without stirrups for a long time because of my back, but now that I’ve cut back on photo work, my back (touch wood) is feeling better than it has in years, and I can handle the no-stirrup work again.

Monday, 8/26/13

Before work, Wizard and I took an hour-long trail ride. We cantered down the straight cantering lane and rode a big loop around the perimeter of the Horse Park cross country field. Wizard was a little looky with all the wind, but didn’t do anything wrong, even when we came across a few different dog people.

National Ride Your Horse in the Park in a Green Hat Day

Tuesday, 8/27/13

Wizard got another dose of Pentosan. I also am trying a short ulcer treatment cycle to see if it helps with his goosey behavior during grooming sessions- it’s mostly on his right side. So far, it’s not doing anything. Could it be saddle fit? Or maybe something else. The good news is that he’s moving out better now that he got his Pentosan back. And he rolls over all the way when he rolls- usually, he rolls on one side and then gets up and back down again to roll on the other side. Only when he’s feeling nice and limber can he roll over all the way with regularity.

We chased daylight and did a similar ride to Monday’s session. This time, we took a bigger loop so he could see the arenas and come back through the cross country field. I found myself humming a song to myself while we finished our loop- Wizard was very relaxed and happy and snorting along. Maybe he enjoys hearing his goofy rider sing songs by the Kaiser Chiefs. He probably also got a kick out of me YELLING at the deer to get out of our way. They just stand there until the very last second and then bolt, so I try to get them moving along sooner with some encouragement. And another sneaky one LEAPT right next to us out of the bushes with a loud snort, startling us both for a moment.

Before Dark at the Park: VIP Access to the Horse Park of New Jersey

August 27, 2013

GKB Coal Magic


4:00PM– 7:00PM

A new summer series for Horse Park of New Jersey members. First date is TOMORROW, August 28.

$20 per session for Horse Park members. Not a Horse Park member? Sign up today and your membership lasts through 2014.

Does your greenie in need of a little schooling? Does your seasoned pro ready for a tuneup? Would you like to work out some show ring jitters? The Horse Park of New Jersey is offering an EXCELLENT opportunity for VIP access for Horse Park members to the indoor and outdoor arenas.

You can also reserve a time to school in a dressage arena or ride in a free Intro to Centered Riding session.

Visit  for full details, and download the information here:

Wizard Rides 526, 527, & 528: The Sunset

August 21, 2013

Jumping Wizard is SO MUCH FUN

Thursday, 8/16/13

Before work, Wizard and I hit the trails. On our previous trail ride, I noticed that the perimeters of a few fields were mowed this week. The footing was dry and even, and the fields had good visibility… perfect for some trot and canter sets! All the way around, the field is about a half a mile. We went around it three times, doing a trot or canter on the long sides and walking the short sides. It was FUN! Except for one stumble, Wizard was quite light on his feet, and “on” the bridle. I always assumed he’d be a zoomy kind of horse when we began doing trot and canter work off the property, but he really is quite soft in the bridle and tends to slow down when he’s uncertain instead of rushing forward. It’s quite different from Alibar, who did everything quickly. We walked home and I gave him a nice hosedown before hustling in to the office.

Friday, 8/17/13

Epic Barn Day. Those are the days when you actually have a few hours to really get some things done at the barn. Baths. Or tack cleaning. Watching a friend’s lesson. Or just leaning over the fence watching your horse graze. Kris and I actually had the day off, so we declared Friday an EBD. We started our ride in the arena, and after some nice trot and canter work, Wizard and I took two separate lines of jumps twice each. First line was a placing pole to a cross rail to one stride to a second cross rail. Second line was a placing pole to a cross rail to one stride to a small vertical, maybe 2’3″. Kris was nice enough to take pictures, and got the really great picture of Wizard over the second jumping effort- I love how light and round he is. He’s really coming along.

After our ringwork, we hit the trails. We took the same field that I rode the day before, and cantered the far side. Wizard was much more “looky”- it sort of seemed like he was gawking at the white flowers that were blooming in the middle of the field. Tractors, deer, turkeys, those are all fine. But that silvery underside of leaves? Spooky stuff, sometimes. Same with certain white flowers. That’s okay- he gets a pass. He jumped like a star today. He was so good, in fact, that I scheduled a jumping lesson for next Friday. I’d love to take the next step forward with our jumping.

Here’s a neat photo evolution of Wizard over fences since 2009 or so…

Wizard & Me: Jumping!

Spring is in the air!

Wizard and Me

Wizard and me

Wizard and Me

Wizard is aiming for the World Equestrian Games...

Wizard and Me

Fly like a Wizard

The fabulous flying Wizard

Nearly jumping me out of the tack...

Wizard likes to take his little cross rails seriously. And a stride early.

Hopping hay bales with the Wizard


No bit? No problem for The Wizard. He takes his cross rails much more seriously than his friend Sunny does.

Wizard and me

Wizard flies through the air with the greatest of ease...

Jumping Wizard is SO MUCH FUN

Saturday, 8/18/13

Wizard and I hit the trails for a solo ride. He was looky again, and interestingly was best on the cross country field on the Horse Park. We just walked and trotted around the perimeter, but there was a lot of noise over the loudspeaker and he took it all in stride. We were out a little over an hour. We cantered on the long cantering lane, but walked the rest of the way. He listened, but had his ears on swivel and his eyes on lookout. We got back with plenty of daylight. On workdays, it’s beginning to become a struggle to get out of work in time to have light for riding on the trails. In a few weeks, we won’t have any light at all after work. But we’ll have awesome weather. The tradeoff of autumn.

A Summer of Thoroughbreds. Colby: One Month Later

August 19, 2013


Colby: July 6, 2013

In June, I shared the story of Colby, a 4-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (click here to see intake photos and read about him) in the care of Helping Hearts Equine Rescue. My “summer of Thoroughbreds” has been so busy that I am just now finding time to share updated photos of Colby, taken on July 6.

Colby: May 25, 2013

What a difference a month makes!

Colby: July 6, 2013
Colby: May 25, 2013
Colby: July 6, 2013

As Colby get the nutrition he needs, he gains weight and muscle and his coat blooms. Gone are the long winter guard hairs, abscessed feet, and patchy coat. His rainrot and skin issues are under control with the help of medicated baths and daily grooming. He is fed supplements to help him maintain a healthy coat and hooves and support his young joints during his rehabilitation.

Colby: July 6, 2013

After Colby completed his quarantine, he was turned out with some equine friends. He is handled daily and receives training in hand, but his training under saddle will not begin until he is fully rehabilitated. In the meantime, he was quite happy to show off for me during a quick photo session.

Colby: July 6, 2013
Colby: July 6, 2013

He even showed off his potential when he cut across the arena and did an impromptu jump over the arena gate.

Colby: July 6, 2013

Colby looks great in July, but just wait until you see how he looks now. Stay tuned for more updates on this spirited youngster.

If you’re interested in donating to the rescue for Colby’s care, you can send a Paypal donation to, or visit the HHER website for other donation options. HHER is a 501(c)(3) charity, and horses like Colby are nursed back to health through the generosity of donations and the commitment of dedicated volunteers.

Please check back for new photos and updates about Colby, as well as other Thoroughbreds I meet this summer.





Wizard Rides 522, 523, 524, & 525: Dark and Stormy

August 15, 2013

Wizard approves of today's great weather

Wednesday, 8/14/13

On Tuesday, we had TORRENTIAL storms. Crazy amounts of rain. But the foliage on the trails soaked up the rain and the footing was pretty great. After work, I let Wizard romp in the arena for a few minutes and then we hit the trails for about 50 minutes. He was less snarky about grooming (could it be the Pentosan he got two days ago? Not sure), and felt a little better under saddle. The walk is still slow, but felt a little looser. He was a little “looky” on our ride, but didn’t spook or anything. And in his defense, there were about a zillion deer in the park, and it was pretty breezy and cool for August. Actually, the weather was a perfect “10”. I hope we get a few more days like this one. We cantered up the big hill, and did a little trot work on the smaller paths. We went up and down the hill on the other side of it, and then I took him to a side field to the east of where we usually ride. The Hunt Club had mowed some really nice paths around the perimeters of the fields. They looked GREAT for future trot and canter sets. It was getting dark, so we had to head home, but I hope to get back out to that area again soon.

When I curried Wizard after his ride, he was leaning into the grooming, and yawning, and doing a little mutual grooming. He was enjoying the massage of the grooming and didn’t complain.

The heat and flies caused him to lose a little weight (AGAIN), so I’ve been giving him a third meal at night when I ride him. I want him to be a little round when we head into winter.

Monday, 8/12/13

After work, I met up with Kris and we rode in the outdoor arena as it got dark. Wizard has been cribbing a LOT recently and was pretty squirrelly about grooming. Before our ride, I gave Wizard a shot of Pentosan. There was a shortage for a while, and he has not had a dose since June. My hope is that the Pentosan will loosen up any stiffness he has, and maybe it will help with the slow walk and the tightness I’m feeling in his neck and hips when I groom him. It was unfortunate that we had to stop the Pentosan for two months, but it does provide an interesting opportunity to see if it’s really the thing that’s helping him.

It took Wizard some time to warm up. He was resistant to my leg, pinning his ears and moving kind of slowly. He did improve significantly during the ride, though, so I’m not as worried as I sometimes get when he has a not-right ride that does not resolve well. Our canter work was pretty good, and better than pretty good compared to where we were with cantering just a few weeks ago. I think the trail riding at a canter is helping his ringwork. He did throw two good bucks when I gave him leg- one was my fault since I bopped him with my heel, but bucking is really not a solution that I prefer. We trotted some poles and I took him down a one-stride line from a cross rail to a vertical. He took it calmly and with a nice amount of spring in his step- it felt really good. So after starting out a little funky, we ended on a nice note.

Sunday, 8/11/13

Still on my cantering buzz, Kris and I took Sunny and Wizard out on a trail ride before I went to work. We cantered down the same cantering lane (yay!), but cut the ride a little short due to the bugs. They are so hit or miss this time of year. I felt Wizard stumble a few times, and he was pretty grumpy about grooming. I also noticed that his walk has been a little slow for a few of our recent rides- he usually has a fluid, elastic, swingy, speedy walk.

Saturday, 8/10/13

Every once in a while, a horse gives the rider the gift of a perfect ride. Wizard and I had a perfect ride on Saturday. I was at the barn hanging out with friends for a few hours, and when everyone left, Wizard and I went out on the trails for a little over an hour. We cantered down our favorite cantering lane, and trotted down the edge of the Horse Park cross country field. We crested the big hill just as an insanely pink sunset was beginning, and moseyed our way back to the barn as it got dark. Good horse.

Wizard Rides 517, 518, 519, 520, & 521: Sarah Smiles

August 7, 2013

Wizard flies through the air with the greatest of ease...

As a kid, I remember August being the month with all the heat and all the bugs, but for the past few years, July has generally been the more brutal month. This is not to say there are no bugs in August, because there are PLENTY, but we just finished a really spectacular streak of amazing, clear, dry, pleasant weather. Perfect for riding, and really doing anything outdoors. Ahhhh. I’m happy. And I was also treated to a streak of five really nice rides.

Wednesday, 8/7/13

This time of year, there is enough light to ride in the outdoor arena until a little after 8:30, maybe slightly later once our eyes are adjusted. Wizard and I rode for about 40 minutes, starting with a forward walk in each direction, and then just a short jog before I popped him into a canter as an experiment. The experiment was a success: we were able to do about 10 minutes of fairly smooth cantering- he threw a halfhearted kick or two, but settled right in and felt more balanced than usual. In a ring, 10 minutes is a long time! The work we’ve done at the canter on the trail has definitely helped our ringwork. He picked up both leads, and his transitions were smoother. I kept my position pretty light, almost in a half seat for much of the canter work. We rode along the rail, and also did 15 and 20m circles and a few “squares.”

After the canter work, he was pretty loose through the back, and felt really nice on the bit- more thoughtful chewing and less of the fiddling he sometimes does. I took a line of cross rails once, and a single cross rail once in the middle of our trot work. We practiced shoulder in, leg yields, and did some big-trot-little-trot work.

While we cooled out, I worked on shortening the reins after having them at free-walk length, since he sometimes bunches up when I do that. After a few times, his mouth was quiet and his walk was smooth.

Nice ride! I’m really happy with his recent progress. Only thing I’m not thrilled bout is that he stumbled a few times (maybe 3?). I’m not sure if it’s related to him not getting his Pentosan (there’s a shortage right now) or the fact that the arena was a little on the sandy side.

Monday, 8/5/13

The late Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale meant that I had a morning for riding before I went into work. Christie and I hit the trails for another adventure. After warming up at a walk for a little over a mile, we came to the long, straight field where we can move out a little. When we reached the field, someone was hand walking his horse. Wizard should have known all about that since we hand walked all winter, but he gave a big goofy spook when we went around the corner. Poor Brigid followed suit dutifully, and sort of scampered out of his way. The whole thing was over in a flash, and Wizard was back to himself.

We got to the half-mile straightaway and picked up a canter. Wizard felt GREAT. He was super light and bouncy and responsive. Partway down the straightaway, so we opened up into a hand gallop, which was FUUUNNNNN. Brigid forged her own path halfway down the straightaway and sort of shimmied into the underbrush, amongst peals of laughter from both of us. Once she got back on the path, we kept going. Wizard never felt out of control or anxious at all. He felt willing, bright, and FUN to ride.

After our cantering set, we walked the rest of the ride, around the edge of the Horse Park cross-country field, and up the road to the lake for a drink and a splash in the water. Then, we wandered our way back to the barn.

Fun, fun, fun.

After a great test

Sunday, 8/4/13

After watching Kris and Sunny have an absolutely fantastic showing at the Helping Hearts Benefit Dressage Show (congratulations- you earned it!!!), I left feeling inspired. I also left the show wishing I had brought Wizard and ridden in it. I thought we weren’t ready, but the environment was less stressful than the Horse Park, and I think he could have handled it.

We rode in the outdoor arena with Christie and Brigid, and after a warmup with some really nice canter work, we popped over a few jumps. I finally got around to raising the poles two holes higher than our usual little tadpole jumps, and Wizard took them in style (see photo above). He actually hit one rail at the beginning, and that was the LAST one he came anywhere near with his careful feet and legs. I’m really proud of how he looks in the photo, and I think we can start moving forward a little with our work over fences.

After our arena work (about half an hour), we hit the trails for about an hour. We cantered up the main road by the “bowling pin” hill. We are just cantering fools these days, aren’t we? A far cry from even a few weeks ago. We meandered through some loops and had a nice ride.

Saturday, 8/3/13

Wizard and I went out for a solo trail ride. We trotted at the beginning and walked the final half- we were out for about an hour. He was a little looky at some silvery branches, but he held his ground like a trooper when we flushed two does- they took off across the field in hopes of attracting us away from their fawns. I could hear the fawns in the bushes, and we carefully rode around them. For the most part, Wizard is really sensible about things like deer.

Friday, 8/2/13

Kris and Sunny had their last pre-show lesson with Carole, and I hacked Wizard around the arena while they rode. Wizard was in a very mellow mood, and gave me a sweepy, low-headed trot. He was soft but steady on the bit, and responsive to my leg. If only he was always so loose and mellow. We popped through a little gymnastic line to show Carole what he looks like over fences. Wizard took me by surprise with just how soft, quiet, and round he took the line, and just about jumped me out of the tack. I was prepared for a quicker approach, but he loped up like a seasoned lesson horse. He had every opportunity to run out on the jumps, but he took them honestly, and was rewarded for his efforts.

Wizard Rides 510, 511, 512, 513, 514, 515, & 516: Light On

August 1, 2013

A little early-morning tomfoolery with Wizard

Wednesday, 7/31/13

Wizard and I took a sunset trail ride, and covered about 4 miles, mostly at a walk with about a half a mile of trotting. As part of our continuing effort to keep calm and carry on through the Horse Park, we walked around the perimeter of the cross-country course on our way toward the lake. Wizard got a little jumpy when he flushed two fawns and again when he saw some unexpected horses and hikers, but he behaved himself and listened to all my cues. I thought I felt a little stiffness in his right hind leg, but could not see anything when I jogged him- I’ll keep an eye on it. The deerflies were awful in parts of the ride. Wizard wore his fly bonnet, but he might have been happier in his full fly sheet riding getup.

Tuesday, 7/30/13

Horse Park Schooling Adventure, Part III

After paying my (very reasonable) schooling fee and watching a few classes and Fix A Tests at the Horse Park, I headed to the barn, turned Wizard loose for a quick play session in the arena, and rode him to the Horse Park for another schooling ride at the horse show.

I don’t know if his playtime in the arena helped (he really blew off some steam at a playful gallop), or the careful repetition, or the change of tack (swapped from the Micklem/French link loose ring back to the traditional bridle with a full cheek French link), but our ride was like night and day compared to last week’s ride. I’m lucky to have such a fantastic facility so close to the barn, because a horse like Wizard really benefits from getting comfortable with new surroundings.

The other change in my routine was that I did not let him walk for so long before I asked him to trot. We only walked about one lap in each direction before picking up a trot. He was more than warmed up since the ride to the Horse Park is over a mile, and we had zero sulking, propping, stopping, tantrums, dragging, balking, or shenanigans for our entire ride in the warmup ring. We rode along the rail, as well as in circles and serpentines. He held his ground when a horse left the ring, and was very relaxed when a lovely jumper was in the ring with us. He was tight through his back, but he was TROTTING. Last Tuesday, he could not trot without flinging himself in five directions at once. Once we had about 15 minutes of trotting under our belts, I asked him to halt IN THE RING under a tree. I want him to learn how to settle and “park” in a relaxed state at a horse show. There is a lot more waiting around at a show than there is on the trails, and Wizard’s a go-go-go kind of guy. After he stood perfectly under the tree, I walked him over to a friend and chatted with her, also a common horse show activity. I’m not a big sit-and-chatter in the saddle, but it can happen, including during clinics and dressage shows.

We walked the long roundabout path toward home. In the cross-country field, there were eventers schooling over fences. A pair of riders headed in the direction of Wizard’s barn at a healthy canter, and Wizard threw his one and only fit of the day. I was able to stand my ground and stay in the saddle and he was not able to take off, so it was a good training exercise. Once all four feet were back on the ground, we continued our walk out of the Horse Park. Although I wanted to head right home, I got clever and asked Wizard to take a roundabout trail that did not go directly to the barn. It worked, and he cooled his jets and was walking on the buckle by the time we got to the barn. Good boy! The weather was perfect for the day, and Wizard was not nearly as sweaty as he was the week before. Success!

Monday, 7/29/13

Wizard and I went on a trail ride with Cathy and Miss Tuesday. We were out for about an hour and a half, and did a little trotting but mostly walked. We walked through the cross-country course to the arena section of the Horse Park. We did not go in any of the rings, but rode past them. It was a good schooling exercise for Wizard, and it showed him that we do a variety of things at the park. Sometimes, we ride through, and sometimes, we school at shows.

Friday, 7/26/13

Christie and I went on a trail ride. We were out for about 2 hours, and it was a proper trail ride! We did some bushwhacking, complete with bloodied arms from raspberry bushes. We explored the trails in front of the lake. We ate a few bugs along the way. We passed the old sheep farm and played in the creek. When the footing got tricky, Wizard had about 3 different episodes of getting wired and leaping around, but he settled really nicely when I put him behind Brigid. Usually, he likes to be on the lead on trails, but he takes comfort in being second in line when we ride with Brigid. He went from leaping through the air to calmly walking on the buckle a few times, which is a huge accomplishment for him.

Wednesday, 7/25/13

Wizard and I rode in the outdoor arena, and it was one of those rides when we couldn’t really get into a good groove. I don’t know if it was the time of day, or something about me, but Wizard was tight and unfocused.

Tuesday, 7/24/13

Horse Park Schooling Adventure, Part II

In our first schooling session at the Horse Park since April, Wizard and I walked over and spent time in the warmup ring during a fun horse show and dressage “Fix a Test” day. He walked to the Horse Park like a champ, didn’t spook at a single thing, and walked into the warmup ring like a pro. We walked several times in each direction, and I worked on getting him to loosen his topline a little while he got his bearings. When I asked for a trot, everything went out the window. Wizard dragged me toward each open gate, and threw a fit when we passed each gate without exiting the ring. I couldn’t even get a true trot in our first dozen attempts. He flung his head. He stopped and would not move. He bounced. He did little crowhops. He swung his hind end to the inside and flung his head over the rail. Unlike our last schooling session in April, I didn’t have a trainer with me. I had to use my wits to keep us safe and end on a good note. Finally, after what felt like a thousand tries, I was able to get about 10 steps of an actual trot across the diagonal, and I chose that as our “good note” and ended our riding session. I did not immediately leave, though, since I didn’t want him learning that we go right home out of the arena. He’s smart like that. So I dismounted, we hand grazed, we walked around, we cooled out in the shade, and then we finally walked home. I hand walked him, because I didn’t really want to ride a potentially explosive horse across the cross country field and the mile back to the barn. He did walk home more relaxed than he did the last time we were at the Horse Park, so there was some progress. I was hoping for more, because I wanted to do a Fix a Test at the next show (one week later). That’s okay. We’re not in any rush.

Monday, 7/23/13

Wizard lost a few days of horse show schooling prep rides because he threw a shoe right before a ride by stepping on himself when I asked him to move over. Clever fellow. He got his shoe put back on after the weekend. Kris and I took a trail ride on Monday, and rode through the “bowling pin” field and around some side fields. Some sort of insect bit Sunny, causing her to do some pretty impressive leaps. I’ve always told Kris that it’s okay to use Wizard as a target if her mare is careening on the trail. Kris remembered, and guided her hopping Mustang toward Wizard, which stopped Sunny. Wizard, the good boy that he is, held his ground like I knew he would. A good ending all around.

Wizard Rides 505, 506, 507, 508, & 509: Stop Taking My Time

July 9, 2013

Kris took Wizard for a quick spin yesterday morning- looking good!

This summer has been a great time for me to work on improving my fitness and losing some weight. Although I have not gotten out to ride as much as I’d like, Wizard is happily enjoying his downtime in his paddock with his friends while I toil away, hiking in the woods of New Jersey.

Monday, 7/9/13

The heat wave lifted a bit, and I met Kris out at the barn in the morning before work. I rode Wizard for just a moment or two and then Kris took a spin on him. She had never ridden him before, and it was fun to see her work with him. Pics here…

Kris took Wizard for a quick spin yesterday morning- looking good!

Kris took Wizard for a quick spin yesterday morning- looking good!

Saturday, 7/6/13

HOT, HOT, HOT! Since we were in the middle of a heat wave, I kept Wizard’s ride short and sweet. We took a short walk to the log cabin with Christie and Brigid, and then looped around and headed home. Brigid was back from a stay at the vet, and Wizard did a great job of riding quietly next to her while she enjoyed a stroll in the park. When we returned to the barn, I took him for a quick ride in the arena. He was warmed up from the walk, so we went right into some relaxed trot work across the diagonals, and then I surprised him with a canter transition on the right lead. And he surprised me with a PERFECT depart, followed by several strides of a really nice canter. YES!!! I rewarded him the best way I could, which was immediately hopping off his back and walking him back to be untacked and hosed off for an afternoon in the paddock with his horsey pals.

Sunday, 6/30/13

Kris and Sunny joined Wizard and me for a trail ride. We covered 4.15 miles, riding out the long field and up to the edge of the woods past the lake. We took a quick loop around a wooded trail and headed back. Wizard was great- he’s been feeling really nice and relaxed on all our recent trail rides.

Saturday, 6/29/13

Wizard and I rode with Sunny, Kris, Cathy, and Miss Tuesday in the outdoor arena. We didn’t have a lot of daylight, but we did some nice basic flatwork.

Friday, 6/28/13

I had a great lesson with Lisa. Before I got in the saddle, I showed her Wizard’s gaits on the longe line. I wanted her to see how his canter looks when I’m not in the saddle. It was also a great opportunity to get some pointers on our long-line work. I longed him with two longe lines. The biggest thing we needed to work on was keeping the contact on the outside rein more stable. Wizard responded quite well to a correction at the trot when he got rushy, and it reminded me to start taking more contact, rather than throwing the lines at him (just like when I throw the reins at him). I don’t do him any favors by giving him fritzy rein contact.

Under saddle, we worked on transitions, incorporating trot poles, walking, trotting, and a little work with rein backs. We did walk-canter transitions, as well as trot-canter transitions. Wizard got himself amped up once or twice, but it was a huge improvement over our last few cantering sessions. When I kept him straight, didn’t anticipate the movement, and kept MORE contact on the reins instead of less, he felt much better.

Wizard Rides 499, 500, 501, 502, 503, & 504: Moonlight Mile

June 26, 2013

Wizard and me

Sunday, 6/16/13

Although this was officially Ride #499 for me and Wizard, it was a fantastic way to celebrate 500 rides/training sessions. We rode in the arena, and Kris snapped a few pictures of us jumping. From start to finish, Wizard was perfect. He was eager and relaxed over fences, and we had a great time.

Monday, 6/17/13

Kris and I went out on the trails. We rode about 4.4 miles, doing some trot work and crossing over our path at one point (which is something I’m working on with Wizard).

Thursday, 6/20/13

Wizard and I hit the trails solo, and rode about 4.4 miles. We went out of our usual comfort bubble, and ventured out to the wooded ridge past the lake. Wizard was pretty good for most of the ride, but got a little wound up on the way home. He behaved and walked, but it was clear he was anxious by the way he was slinging his head down and chewing on the bit.

Wiz and I donned our hi-viz gear for our nighttime Supermoon trail ride with Kris and Cathy in the Assunpink

Saturday, 6/22/13

In celebration of the “Supermoon,” Cathy, Kris, and I went on a nighttime ride in the park. I donned all my hi-viz gear (see picture to learn what happens when a camera flash bounces off said hi-vioz gear) and we had a great time. Wizard was PERFECT- ears up, no chomping on the bit, and he led the group like a champ. The dark did not bother him at all, and we all enjoyed the (partially hidden) moon, fireflies, and good company.

Sunday, 6/23/13

I rode Wizard in the arena, and worked on our canter transitions. It was a bit of a mess. I scheduled another lesson this week with Lisa to see if she can help us through it. Basically, he’s leaping into the air, all four feet off the ground, when I ask for a canter. And he psychs himself out when he thinks it’s time to canter, prancing and anticipating. And I’m sure I’m not helping matters!

Tuesday, 6/25/13

Before work, we took a super-mellow, 2.5-mile ride in the Assunpink. Wizard was perfect again, and seemed to have forgotten all about his Sunday ride. The flies are out, including the nasty greenheads, and the horses are doing their best to deal with them.

I went back out again on Wednesday, but the crazy streak of thunderstorms prevented me from riding. I just fed him his snack and called it a night.

Wizard Rides 495, 496, 497, & 498: Dream All Day

June 15, 2013


The Pentosan is not only helping Wizard under saddle, but also with standing for the farrier. The farrier said he felt a big difference in his flexibility while he worked on his hind shoes.

Recently, I started a weight loss challenge with some colleagues, which I’m guessing that Wizard appreciates for two reasons: 1) his rider is getting smaller 2) his rider is riding less because she spends so much time exercising. Each day, I try to walk or jog on hilly trails or on a paved loop. I daydream about riding, but I know it’s a good thing for me to do other kinds of exercise in addition to riding. It’s going well so far- let’s see how I feel at the end of the eight weeks.

Wednesday, 6/5/13

Kris and I rode in the arena at dusk. Wizard and I worked on leg yields and shoulder in, and ended with a few passes over the trot poles to a cross rail. He was so settled that he actually trotted over the whole thing and did not feel the need to canter after the jump.

Saturday, 6/8/13

Wizard and I did 4.5 miles on the trails at a walk and a trot. He was a little “looky,” but remained responsive to the aids.

Wednesday, 6/12/13

Wizard and I rode in the arena. Since we had some time off and he’d get a few days off after the ride, I decided to work on something I knew would be challenging for him: canter transitions. After we were warmed up, we did trot-canter-trot transitions. Instead of our usual one or two, I asked for several in each direction, and then asked him to trot before he got a head of steam from cantering. To the right, he started clumsily but got better. To the left, he got a little fried and started skittering to the side and did a few nervous leaps. We were able to end on a good note. I need to keep working on them until they feel like nothing at all.

Thursday to Saturday… RAIN, RAIN, RAIN.

Saturday, 6/15/13

Wizard and I did 5.32 miles in the park. We looped around the big “bowling pin” field twice to get more time on good, dry footing, and did some work at the trot. I also introduced a little canter work to our trail routine. It was a little wild, but nothing too bad- mostly small but excited leaping. While we were walking along the bottom of the hill, I saw a rider and her horse (who looked like a Thoroughbred) canter up the ridge. She let out a happy, “Woo-Hoo!” as they cantered along. I don’t think she saw us, but it was a really fun moment to witness. I couldn’t tell if she or her horse was having more fun.