Archive for September, 2009

Cathy_Kate_DressedThere are basic rules in riding but there are differences in seat and leg position depending on the discipline. I know this. I’ve had to learn the differences between western riding/dressage/saddle seat and now hunt seat riding over the years.

I’ll admit,  I’m a little dense at times, so it took my equine partner to point out, (not so subtly), that I needed  to learn the lighter hunt seat, instead of pounding my seatbones into his back with my driving dressage seat.  When my instructor Kate, at Raven Ridge, asked me to “sit” the canter, I thought I was. I just couldn’t figure out why Cain felt so uncomfortable and was jostling me around in the saddle. It was his way of saying “Hey! Get off my back!”  I’m now learning all about the half seat and two point position. I just wish my poor, wobbly legs would hold me up in the proper position!

Check out my new riding duds. I’ve always said if I can’t ride well, at least I can look good! The Ariat “Jumping with the Stars” event will be testament to that. I might not ride well, but at least I’ll look like a pro!


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I caught up with Rusty and Gail early on a blustery Sunday morning at Wild Oak Farm. Rusty has some catching up to do. As Gail says, he’s been a moving target. He’s been very busy. Plus, with show season, Gail has been traveling.  Rusty will lesson four days this week, then he’s off to Los Angeles to audition for a part in a feature film and do a story for KSTP TV News.Rusty trota

Barney was feeling pretty fresh with the crisp fall breeze. This was the first time Rusty had felt this side of he big, bay warmblood. Typically he requires a lot of leg to keep going. Barney was ready to go and hot to trot!

Rusty brought two of his four kids to the barn, Ruby and Reed and their Pomeranian, Harvey. Harvey gets along great with Gail’s Jack Russells, but Diamond, the farm’s German Shepherd, likes to chase the little dogs. During the lesson Harvey got loose and Diamond chased him all the way pass the far end of the ring. Rusty and Barney remained composed during the pandemonium. I could feel Gail’s heart skip a beat. Ruby saved the day by managing to catch Harvey and bring him back to the waiting JRs.


After the lesson Gail had two horses tacked up  and ready for the kids to ride. One of them, Fred, was walking down the lane to the ring right as Diego, the donkey, was being turned out in a paddock. Fred is new to Wild Oak and had yet to see Diego. Diego began to bray. Fred was at a complete loss. Horses sometimes react to donkeys and miniatures with alarm and fear. Needless to say, Fred spent a few moments on the lunge to make sure he was back to his quiet self after all the excitement. Fred is a good guy,  and he came right around.rubysavesharveya


The kids had a fun, family ride. Okay Rusty, it looks like Ruby and Reed have discovered a new sport. There are lots of nice horses out there. I’m sure Gail could find you two or three. What do you say?Gailsjrsa


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So far. So good. I haven’t fallen off yet! I almost fell OVER yesterday. My legs were so wobbly after my lesson with Kate at Raven Ridge Farm that they nearly didn’t hold up after I dismounted.

I rode a new equine partner yesterday. Cain. His real name is Casanova. Cain is another old pro who has been around the show ring for years. Cain just got done showing in Iowa so he was a little tired and it took all my strength to get him going.  People laugh and say riders have it easy. The horse does all the work. Not really. Riding is physically taxing and more so if (like me) you are out of shape.  Cain and I took a couple of low jumps. I managed to stay on!

Casanova poses for a picture

Casanova poses for a picture

Thanks to Cain’s Mom, Ann, for letting me ride him in the Ariat “Jumping with the Stars” event.

It takes a little while to figure out a horse but I think with a few more rides, Cain and I will become pals. I’ve already greased the skids with him by offering plenty of treats!

Despite the stiff muscles, I find so much happiness while  riding and simply being with horses again.  When I’ve visited the We Can Ride facilities in the past it has been  fun to see the joy in the rider’s faces as they feel the horse  underneath them. It is something I share with those riders: the sheer joy of being with horses.

Here is to happiness in your life–no matter where you find it!

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Cathy managing to stay in the saddle!

Cathy managing to stay in the saddle!

I’m so excited to be part of the Harvest Horse Show! This is the first time I’ve cantered in a VERY long time. My own horse died a couple of years ago. I’m not sure why, but after his death, I just didn’t have the heart to ride again. Enter Hans. What a good boy! Hans has been around the block a time or two and knows how to take care of his rider. That is a good thing. The last time I did anything in a hunt seat saddle was almost twenty years ago so I’m pretty shaky up there. Hans quickly felt that and was a wonderful caretaker!

When I told my trainer Kate that I haven’t ridden for a very long time and that my leg and seat were like Jello she laughed and said I’d be fine. Right.

Cathy_Kate_lessonWhat you don’t see in this photo of our first lesson was me gasping for breath with gallons of sweat pouring off of me. (You’ll note Hans is unruffled- pro that he is.)

Even a couple of days after our first lesson, I am SORE. I forgot just how much lower leg strength and control you need in a two-point position. My muscles are complaining. LOUDLY. We have another lesson tomorrow. That is the great thing about riding. There is always another day to get out there to learn and improve.  I’m excited to raise money and awareness for “We Can Ride” and while that is why I’m doing Ariat’s “Jumping with the Stars” I realized after my first lesson with Hans that this adventure will likely help me heal after the loss of my horse and finally, literally, get me back in the saddle again. How great is that? Cathy_Hans

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WurzerCWe are exited to tell you that Cathy Wurzer has agreed to participate in the Ariat Jumping with the Stars! event. Unfortunately, Rena will no longer be able to participate, due to scheduling conflicts. Cathy graciously accepted our challenge and is stepping into this at the eleventh hour, thank you Cathy!

Many of you know Cathy Wurzer. She is one of Minnesota ‘s best known journalists with an extensive background in public and commercial broadcasting.

Cathy is currently the host of “Morning Edition” on Minnesota Public Radio. She has held a number of positions in the past at MPR, including talk show host, reporter and producer. Cathy is also the co-host of “Almanac”, a weekly public affairs program, produced by Twin Cities Public Television for Minnesota ‘s statewide public television network.

Cathy is also a published author…having written the regional best seller “Tales of the Road-Highway 61” in 2008, published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. She was the executive producer and host of the public television documentary by the same name that had its premiere earlier this spring.

I went to Cathy’s first lesson and I can tell you that she will be a strong competitor! Cathy has the proverbial leg up on the rest of the riders, as she is no stranger to horses. Although she hasn’t ridden in a couple of years, she is an experienced dressage rider, and many ago she used to jump as well. Even though she may be ahead of her fellow celebrity competitors in knowledge and experience, she says she is rusty and in need of conditioning to get her riding legs back.

Cathy is planning to blog about her lessons, so I won’t spoil her story by telling it here. You’ll just have to check back and read what she writes! Photos will come with her blog entry. Welcome Cathy!

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I attended Rachel Blount’s lesson this week with Sue Kyllonen at Alpine Farm. I haven’t seen Rachel ride since her second lesson – what an improvement! She looks great and is quite confident as she cantered around in the outdoor ring. If you are familiar with Alpine, they were in the hunter ring. Such great footing in that ring, and it was a fabulous day. The weather was perfect and surprisingly, no bugs! Sue put Rachel right to work and after a good warm-up, immediately starting trotting a small X. That quickly progressed to a small vertical on a circle. And that soon became two jumps on a circle.Racheljump

Rachel44webEventually, they cantered the two fences on a circle. And then Sue put together a short course of about four or five fences. Including one related distance. Rachel handled it all really well. Even when her horse wasn’t convinced he needed to take the second fence in the line and decided to go around it! She stuck with him, came back around and made it happen – she was great!

Rachel54webSue is, of course, proud of her student. Rachel is excited about her progress. She has been taking two lessons a week and practice riding in between. I think the rest of the riders better buckle down or Rachel will take home the ribbon!

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Competitors we have some great news! Arc de Triomphe has been named the official saddle and bridle brand of the 2009 Minnesota Harvest Horse Show. They will be attending the event with a large booth to show off their complete line of exquisite bridles and amazing French saddles. They’ll be there all week, and will be able to do saddle fittings – so be sure and stop by their booth and arrange for a fitting!

Grand Prix riders, the winner of the $30,000 Nutrena Grand Prix of Minnesota will also receive an Arc de Triomphe Classique jumping saddle. These beautiful saddles are tailored to fit and made in the traditional French method. It’s a retail value of more than $4,600!

Trainer’s of the celebrities for the Ariat Jumping with the Stars! event: the trainer of the winning celebrity will receive an Arc de Triomphe bridle, complete with matching reins! ADT bridles are top-of-the-line and highly sought-after by A-circuit riders around the country. Retail value of ADT bridles averages $450.

Hunter Spectacular riders, the winner of the $5,000 Purina Hunter Spectacular on Friday night will also receive a fabulous Arc de Triomphe bridle.

Competing for the Groom’s Award on Friday afternoon? Arc de Triomphe has generously provided a beautiful bridle for the winner of this event as well!

Be sure and attend the open house in the Arc de Triomphe booth on Thursday afternoon! They will hold drawings for additional products, and there will be beverages and canapes (details to follow). Thursday afternoon is also the $5,000 Arc de Triomphe Open Jumper Welcome Stake. And yes, the winner of that class will also receive an ADT bridle!

Be sure and stop by to get to know this fabulous, high-end brand of saddles and bridles. And be sure to thank them for their support of this year’s show!

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