Pony Profiles: Special K, Part 1

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

When Maura started riding Miss I needed a new mount.  In came Kaye.  Kaye had been in our barn for a while at this point.  She had been competed through prelim previously and then came to us after an injury.  Kaye had a couple foals for Bonnie, and her last foal (Twinkie) had been pretty hard on her.  After we weaned Twinks, Kaye was sort of a mess, she had no muscle, needed weight, the whole nine yards.  So Bonnie had us start riding her a bit to try and build up her muscle.  At first it was...interesting.  I can remember one ride where Kaye literally tried to lay down with me on her back.  She just stopped in the arena and started to go down.  But even as she was learning to be a riding horse again, and a beginners horse at that, she always had that same 'mom' trait that Miss has.  She wants to take care of her rider.  And speaking as someone who has been plagued with confidence issues my entire life, this was so important to me.  Even when we were still figuring things out, keeping me safe was always her first priority.

The spring of 2003 another girl and I were sharing Kaye.  She took her to the first event in Maryland in March (I think)  Kaye was a mess that weekend.  We discovered that picky eater Kaye would not eat when away from home.  The same grain that we gave her Friday evening was still in her bucket Sunday morning.  She was also shedding her winter coat in the worst possible way.  She had huge splotches of missing hair.  She looked terrible.  We also discovered her inability to trailer without horses on both sides of her that weekend.  The show grounds did not have any stabling on grounds.  So we were stabled at a fairgrounds/racetrack about 30 minutes away.  The HT was set up to have all 3 phases of training and prelim run on Saturday and then beginner novice and novice on Sunday.  So Sunday morning we left Vinnie and Airy at the fairgrounds since they had both run the day before, and only took Kaye and Winston to the show.  We were being nice and gave Kaye the bigger first stall in the trailer.  Well she threw a fit not have another horse on both sides.  We could feel her kicking the trailer the whole way there.  When we got to the show, we had to remove the partition before we could unload her.  She had managed to give herself multiple cuts and scrapes in the trailer, all superficial luckily.  So we couldn't leave her on the trailer by herself, so I was hand walking her around the show grounds while Maura was riding Winston.

May 2003 was my turn to show Kaye.  And I made my recognized horse trial debut at Mayfest Horse Trails.   It was such a great experience for me.  Maura was running Vinnie in the training 3 day, so we were there on Tuesday I think.  Lots of time to get used to the show grounds and relax and everything.  I really feel so lucky that my first experience eventing was at the Kentucky Horse Park, it's such a gorgeous facility.  In between Maura's jog ups and other seminars I had a chance to do a lot of riding before the show started.  We hauled over to Masterson one day where I was able to school some cross country fences.  And I got several dressage rides in the rings at the Park.  I also got to hack Kaye around the Park in the evenings.  To this day I still count those hacks as some of the best rides of my life.  Just Kaye and I by ourselves, wandering along the roads and tracks course.  Finally Saturday rolled around and it was time to compete.  Our dressage test was pretty 'eh' all around.  I was way too tense and that translated to Kaye.  We did stadium in the afternoon.  And I got to ride in the Rolex arena!  Still one of the coolest things I've gotten to do.  At the time, they only used that ring for Rolex and Mayfest.  I was riding in the same ring that just a month previously hosted riders such as Pippa Funnell, Buck Davidson, Karen and David O'Connor, William Fox-Pitt, Kim Severson.  It was inspiring.  Of course, Kaye could have cared less about any of that.  All she knew was it was time to jump.  And apparently Kaye was missing her days as a prelim horse because she was adding imaginary rails to the fences and way overjumping everything.  But we had a double clear round.  Sunday morning was cross country day.  And unfortunately it had started to rain.  So I was a little nervous about running cross country in the rain as Kaye was not drilled for studs.  We still ran cross country, but I took my time and we had major time penalties.  But we jumped cleanly and Kaye took good care of me.  So in my book, it was a success!

We didn't do any other horse trials that year, my finances weren't quite up to it as I was a poor college student at the time.  But we practiced a lot through the rest of the summer and over the winter.  And in early spring we were ready to have at it again.  We started off the year in March at Middletown Horse Trials in Maryland.  They didn't have a beginner novice division so we were attempting novice for the first time.  Dressage was pretty 'eh' as usual.  And Kaye was pretty pumped for stadium.  But we had a good round, double clear.  Thank you rockstar mare!  The next day we headed out for cross country.  It was sort of a miserable day, very cold and windy.  And I'll admit I was a little bit nervous about running novice cross country.  Unfortunately we had a stop at the first fence.  Completely my fault.  Kaye is awesome and amazing but even she can't jump a fence sideways.  Circled around and did it right the second time.  After about the fifth fence, I realized 'hey this is pretty fun' and started to really ride.  By the time we crossed the finish line I had a huge grin on my face, and I think we only had a few time penalties.

We had a second outing that spring at Winona Horse Trials in May at the beginner novice level.  Finally we actually had a halfway decent dressage ride!  I had found what works for me.  Get on and walk for like an hour before I even start to warm up.  I had enough time with just me and Kaye that I could relax and get focused to ride.  We had a double clear stadium.  And the second day, we were ready to take on the cross country course.  We picked up a nice easy canter out of the start box and never looked back.  Actually, at the end of the course we had to circle before the last fence for almost a minute so we finished close to optimum time.  Kaye has no problems making beginner novice time!

Unfortunately that spring was the year I graduated from college.  And immediately after graduation I started working two jobs which meant I had no time to ride at all.  I don't even think I saw the barn at all that summer.  One of the other kids started riding Kaye a bit, took her to a couple of training level events.  Then in the fall, I quit one of the jobs after I started full time at the other and finally I had more time to ride.  I continued to ride Kaye throughout the winter and the next summer.  About that same time is when Maura started to ride Kaye to event her at the upper levels.  They did their first prelim event at Winona and then the following weekend Kaye and I did the USPC Dressage Rally at Grandhaven.

Towards the end of summer and into the winter, Maura started riding Kaye more and more.  And so that meant I lost the ride on her.  But I got the chance to start riding a lot of different horses so I'm not going to complain.  Besides we all know that wasn't the end of my riding Kaye.