The Trouble With Greys

On this page I have added the posts that previously occupied my short-lived blog called The Trouble With Greys. It was dedicated to my horses, but I couldn’t seem to be able to keep up with two blogs and make them both interesting and rich. Though I deleted the domain name and everything, I still wanted to keep some of my work alive, since I love anything that has to do with my horses.  Here are a few of the posts:

Testing, Testing, 1-2-3!

Testing is done! Here we are (second from the front) at testing yesterday.

Domino & I in the heat at Pony Club Testing

Testing was both more and less stressful than I expected. We were tested by a panel of four judges. Four! I was shocked when I got there. It was so hot outside that they excused our jackets shortly after this photo was taken, thank goodness. Then we were off. Flat work, no stirrups, over a few fences. We only had 3 fences in our course and no lines. Then, out to the cross country field, where we went over two logs and a coup.

Domino and I trotted all of our fences. Out at cross country it was mandatory to canter one fence, so I asked her to pick up her canter and she was so supple that I just let her go. No fiddling, no half halts, just go. And over we went! It was perfect. I was so proud of her.

We hung around for about two hours after our test while they marked us. Domino ate lots of grass on the lawn with the other ponies. I tried to feed her some watermelon, but she spit it out! Guess she doesn’t like fruite… Except apples that is.

When we got our results, I was shocked. 91.5% out of 100%. That’s the highest mark I’ve ever got on a test before! All of the waiting was worth it, even in the heat.

It was somewhat gratifying that she was fidgeting when my mom was holding her as I went to get my marks, and again when I tied her to the trailer when I went to go talk to some Pony Clubbers. Why gratifying? She looks to me so much for guidance that she needs me there so she knows that it’s okay. I’m glad that we have such a close bond; I really am her mom.

So proud of my little girl!

A History of Domino

I mentioned yesterday that I was bitten by the horse bug at an early age. While this is true, I didn’t actually get my own horses for many years after this; I was fifteen. During the time I was without a horse, I begged rides from anyone, often in exchange for chores or other work.

When I turned 14, my parents decided to get on with it, and build a barn. It took over a year, and I started looking for horses just after my 15th birthday. We found Felix first. I was a little more picky when it came to horses. I searched and searched. I still have some of the emails I sent to people. They’re funny to read. Phrases jump out like “I don’t plan to show”; “I’ve been riding for quite a while”; “I’m looking for something athletic & safe for a good price”. It’s funny because I have been showing, I was still definitely a beginner at that time, and there’s no such thing as an athletic, talented, and safe horse within my price range.

Along comes Domino. Not quite actually; you see, we had visited the farm before this, called NorthStar Livestock. They are Quarter Horse dealers, and as a general rule, they don’t call you; you call them. However, after seeing a horse that wasn’t a good fit, they called us a week later, to say that they had a number of great family horses, including one wonderful filly. They had initially wanted to keep her, but she wasn’t a true Foundation type Quarter Horse, which was what they were moving towards specializing in.

So, we went down to the farm. The family is so nice; they had horses lined up in the barn, ready for us when we got there. We must have looked at ten different horses! The one in the very last stall was a dark grey filly. The boys walked under her belly, between her back legs, and waved a tarp over her head. She didn’t even flinch. Her heart rate wasn’t raised at all (my dad is a vet; he was listening).

She was perfect, but I wasn’t so sure about purchasing a horse who had only been ridden about five times. She had just turned three about a month prior. I hopped on and walked around in the sand ring. I remember my dad clearly saying, “If you won’t buy her, I will.”

Taken from NorthStar Livestock’s website; Zans Pearly Jet, age 3

Thus, we purchased “Oh Mama’s Filly” as she was known at the time. I planned to call her Jet, as her registered name is Zans Pearly Jet. When we brought her home, we realized that she was too quiet for the name to fit.

Domino, a week after we brought her home

It took us a week to finally decide on a name. We came up with Largo’s Domino (from a James Bond movie), Domino for short.

Domino in the field, summer 2008

That first year and a half was tough. She mostly sat in the field while I rode my sister’s pony. I had a coach who tried to do some work with her, but didn’t get far. We had a difference in opinions. Then, my oldest riding teacher (a family friend) came back from the US where he had been training. He agreed to take her for 3 months and teach her the basics.

Me riding Domino while in training, January 2010

And so he did. It was tough having her move away, even if it was just for three months (and only a fifteen minute drive). She and I both learned so much in our time with him that I am still grateful.

When she came home that spring, we joined our local Pony Club. We did so much with them; I’m still involved today, and grateful for all of the connections I have made through the club.

 Our first time jumping (for both of us) at a Pony Club clinic, spring 2010

 

One of our first shows, summer 2010

We started showing a little bit that first summer, but the next summer (2011) was when we started to be competitive, showing 2’3″ hunters at some local schooling shows. We improved a lot over the season, and managed to do an event with the Pony Club too. I was so proud of her.

Showing in the 2’3″ Hunters, summer 2011 (Copyright Heather Mitchell)
Our first ever event (and first time jumping cross country) at a Pony Club event, summer 2011

That fall, I moved to University. I wasn’t prepared for how much I would miss her, and miss riding in general. It just wasn’t fair! I joined the University riding team, but it wasn’t the same at all.

When I came home this spring, I was in for a big surprise. I had been planning to move up and show the silver circuit (in Ontario that’s known as Trillium). We went to our first show and only made it over one jump. She was excused from the ring for rearing! Needless to say, I was shocked. My sweet, calm baby had gone crazy.

Domino schooling at home, over jumping a little 2’3″ vertical, spring 2012

We went home and schooled. I’ve now got another one of my old coaches back, an ex-Grand Prix rider. She’s great. We’ve been working so hard; these past few weeks have been tough. Staying out of the show ring has definitely helped; we needed a break.

Us at the end of our 2011 show season

Now comes decision time; I don’t want to waste all of this hard work. My plan is to bring her to University with me. I know that it will be tough to manage my time and money, but I think we can make it work.

I know they say that your first horse shouldn’t be green. I would probably be jumping higher, going to more shows, and winning more, if I had bought a trained, seasoned, horse. Instead, I bought a young thing. It is frustrating. It is tough. But it is worth it.

I wouldn’t trade my girlie for anything! (Prom, spring 2011)

Welcome to The Trouble With Greys

You know those horse crazy little girls you see, begging their parents for a pony at every opportunity? They talk, think, and read exclusively about ponies.

I was that little girl. I’m now 19, and I have a pony of my own, as well as young horse. Like most young girls, I was bitten by the horse bug at a young age, but I have since stuck with the equestrian sport and have loved every minute of it (okay… That’s exaggerating, but I love most of it).

Why call it “The Trouble With Greys”? If any of you have ever owned a grey horse, you will understand my meaning. My young horse is a grey, and before horse shows I’m always doing last minute washing.

You may have noticed from the spelling that I’m Canadian. My horses live on my parent’s 100 acre farm, but I’m hoping to move my young horse with me when I go back to University in the fall.

Here they are, in the field behind the barn. On the left, we have Felix, my little Appaloosa pony. He is around 14, and he is used as my little sister’s therapy pony. She can’t talk or walk, but he is great for her. My sister needs lots of help to ride, but seeing her smile makes it all worth it.

On the right is my horse, Domino. She is still in training, at age 7. She is a registered American Quarter Horse, and I bought her as a three year old. It’s been a lot of work, but she is very willing to learn. It’s been a rewarding experience.

Here’s Domino earlier in May. As you can see, she’s an awkward combination of grey/brown. She changes colours every year.

Welcome to The Trouble With Greys; I hope you join me for as I journey further into training, showing, and caring for my horse as a student!

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