Posts Tagged With: grand prix show jumping

Summer Camp Shenanigans

If you don’t already know, shenanigans can be defined as “silly or high-spirited behavior.” And that, friends, is what today was all about!

But let me back up and start at the beginning…

Yesterday our friend, Shelley, asked Mommy if we would be willing to do a jumping demonstration for her summer camp kids. Mommy said that the decision would ultimately be up to me, but of course I’m always happy to show off – especially jumping, and especially for a large audience full of amazing little kids who are learning to be equestrians! (Plus, jumping day always means marshmallows… And you know how much I love marshmallows!)

So today, Mommy and I got to have a great deal of “silly and high-spirited fun” while jumping over a big ol’ triple oxer, showing off for the summer camp kids and counselors!

Of course, we warmed up over smaller oxers first… But the real fun started when the oxer got up to 3 feet and 6 inches – because the spread (which just means the width of the jump) was 4 feet and 9 inches! 

3'6 oxer with a 4'9 spread

3’6 with a 4’9 spread? Come on, Mom… this is easy!

After jumping the oxer successfully at that height, Mommy asked our friend, Jan – who was also video taping us – to raise up the back pole a hole at a time until we were jumping 4 feet high with a 4-foot-9-inch spread! (Thanks, Jan!)

Jumping big oxers like that is a lot of fun… but do you know what makes it even more fun?

Having an audience to cheer for me when I clear the jump!

And do you know what might even be better than marshmallows as a reward for doing well?

Lots and lots of HUGS from my wonderful little friends!

I love getting hugs! They're the BEST!

I love getting hugs! They’re the BEST!

Of course, even though I do love hugs – and they might really be as good of a reward as marshmallows…. Mommy still gave me lots of marshmallows, too!

Mmmm... My favorite jumping day treat! Thanks, Mommy!

Mmmm… My favorite jumping day treat! Thanks, Mommy!

All in all, today was an awesome day. It might even be my favorite day in August – and the month has only just begun! I’m just saying that something super-duper-spectacular is going to have to happen in order to move up higher in the rankings than this wonderful, amazing day.

Thanks to all of my new friends who came out to support me and cheer for me during my jumping demonstration! Y’all made it a fun, silly and exciting day for me – and I hope it was the same for you!

My awesome friends who cheered me on during the jumping demonstration! Thanks, y’all!

Well, that’s about all I have to share for today… Stay cool in this heat, friends – and I’ll catch y’all later!

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Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Meeting the family (and an oxer with a spread)

This month has been full of fun and exciting surprises. So many things have happened, and I want to tell you about them all! I don’t even know where to begin… so I’ll just begin with my favorite part: getting to meet more of my Mommy’s family.

For years, I’ve been hearing about my Mommy’s human siblings – and a little while back, I got to meet one of Mommy’s brothers – Josh – and his wife, Hannah (…as well as a bunch of other family members). It was a lot of fun to meet all of them!

More recently, I also got to meet Mommy’s other brother, D, and his two daughters, Liliana and her little sister, Angelina. Those girls are two of my favorite little humans ever! I felt like I’d known them their entire lives, though, because Mommy has been telling me all about them for as long as I can remember. It was amazing getting to meet them in person for the first time! And they even wore purple because they know that it’s my favorite color!

Liliana told me that she’s been eagerly waiting to meet me, too, and I was so flattered to hear that. She’s incredibly smart and knew a lot about horses already. She asked lots of really good questions, too, which Mommy and I love. It was clear that Liliana wanted to learn as much as she could about horses – and we were happy to answer all of her questions!

After introducing us,  Mommy explained to Liliana and Angelina how to behave and act around horses (no yelling or running, always let us know where you are and watch out for your own feet, because we might not see them… things like that).

Then, Mommy grabbed my grooming kit and we all went over to the hitching post so that Mommy could show the girls how to use the brushes. It was so much fun having both of the girls grooming on me at the same time! They learned quickly and did a great job – with my Mommy and their Daddy supervising (and taking lots of photos).

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Mommy and the girls tacked me up in the most colorful outfit they could put together; four different polos and my new owl saddle pad. I loved it! Mommy knows how much I love to dress in bright colors. D and his girls watched while Mommy and I had a sunset workout. Every time we came around the turn, they cheered my name and clapped to show me what a good job I was doing. It was awesome! (Needless to say, I was on my best behavior… so they clapped a lot!) After we were done with our “serious” work, I begged Mommy to let me walk the girls around… and she said yes!  Mommy’s brother, D, said that it was the first time his girls had ridden a horse! We were all very excited. First, Mommy let Angelina sit in the saddle in front of her so that she could keep a hold of her and make sure she was safe while we walked around. Even though I knew that Mommy would hold on tightly to Angelina, I walked as slowly and carefully as I could. IMG_2422 I was glad to hear Angelina say that she was having fun, because I was, too! When Angelina’s turn was over, her Daddy helped her out of the saddle – and then Mommy hopped down out of the saddle, too. She fastened the helmet snugly on Liliana’s head – and then explained to her the meaning of a “leg-up” (where Mommy grabs hold of Liliana’s left ankle and helps her up while Liliana jumps as high as she can and swings her right leg over my back) before attempting to give her a leg-up into the saddle. Liliana is very athletic, so she did a good job – even though I’m much taller than her!

Liliana already knew how to turn and stop using the reins, so Mommy just explained to her how to sit correctly with her back straight and her heels down, and how to get me to walk by using pressure from her heels… and we were off! IMG_2378 We ended our rides when it began to get dark outside, and then Mommy, D and the girls untacked me, gave me a quick shower and lots of carrots! Mommy doesn’t like to put me back into my stall when I’m still wet, so she had me walk on the hot walker for a little while. She told me that I needed to walk for a little while longer before having dinner, anyway – since I always have to wait at least an hour after my workout before I eat, in order to prevent tummy aches – so I didn’t mind. When I’m walking on the hot walker by myself, I usually just zone out and dream about jumping in a Grand Prix someday with Mommy…

Liliana and Angelina helped Mommy get my dinner grain ready, and when I was dry I got to go back to my stall and eat. I was sad to say goodbye to them when they had to leave, but Mommy assured me that I would see them again sometime. All in all, I think that was my favorite day (and night) of the entire month. IMG_2405 The next morning, Mommy and I had an early ride – and then she left for San Diego with her human parents, not to return again until… the next night. I know, I know; that’s not a very long time. But it was a long time to me! Luckily, my Aunt Bonnie was there to feed me my dinner and let me walk on the hot walker with my friends.

When Mommy finally came back home from San Diego, she let me out of my stall to run around and play in the arena. I had a lot of energy! We didn’t have a proper workout that night, though, because it was already supposed to be my day off.

The next morning, however, we worked over some raised ground poles – and it was way harder than it seemed! But Mommy said that it’s a good exercise for me to practice, just like all of our ground pole patterns and exercises.

Mommy also said that she and Daddy had a discussion about my training schedule, and they decided that I was ready to move up to hourlong workouts each time – just like before the “hot nail incidents!” Mommy and I have been gradually increasing the duration and difficulty level of my workouts in an attempt to get me back into the same kind of shape that I was in before – on my way to the Grand Prix… and I guess this means that I’m right on track!

Since moving to California and getting back into the swing of things, I was on a “three-days-on, one-day-off, two-days-on, one-day-off” (3/1/2/1) schedule, with mixed durations. Sometimes I would work for a solid hour, sometimes for a half hour, and sometimes for more or less time (depending on factors such as how well I behaved, or how hard I had worked the day before, etc). Now, I’ll be on a “4/1/3/1” schedule, working for an hour each time!

Anyway, enough of that technical mumbo-jumbo… Let’s get to the good part: my second favorite day this month, when Mommy and I jumped a 3’9 oxer with a 3′ spread! And I was even wearing an English Jumping Hackamore, too!

Now, although it wasn’t the biggest or the widest oxer I’ve jumped, it’s the first time I’ve jumped an oxer with a considerable spread since getting back into shape. And although I don’t usually like jumping in a jumping hackamore (because I don’t like the way the curb chain feels on my chin when I stretch out over the jump), I didn’t mind it this time. Probably because I was so happy just to be jumping… And I was excited to be jumping a big, wide jump like that, too!

Anyway, I haven’t jumped since then – but according to Mommy, we will be jumping again very soon…

did get new shoes from my friend, Tim the Horseshoer, though!

"Halfway there," she said...

“Halfway there,” she said…

Mr. Tim said that these new shoes have a “flight rating” that will allow me to jump up to five-and-a-half-feet high with a six-foot-spread. I’m not quite there again yet, but I know it’s going to be pretty soon…

Even though I used to get nervous while getting my feet trimmed and my new shoes put on (at least for the past year or so), I feel very calm and safe with my friend, Mr. Tim. And my feet feel better and better every time he gets done putting on my new shoes! My legs don’t get as sore after workouts anymore, either…

Can you tell that I love my friend, Tim the Horseshoer?

Well, although there’s much more to talk about, I think I’ll save the rest for next time. It’s getting late in the day, and Mommy said that we were going to be working this evening – so I’d better go get prepared for a workout!

I hope you’re all are staying cool in this heat, friends. I’ll catch y’all later!

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star, Memories and Nostalgia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life is good (so enjoy the ride)

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my life?

Although I do work very hard, the work I do is mostly fun – and I get to hang out with my Mommy and all of my friends just as much, if not more. I’m never lonely because there’s always a friend or two somewhere nearby.

Icchy and Olive

And now, thanks to my wonderful Aunt Bonnie and my best friend, Chief, I have a toy in my stall that I can play with when I’m hanging out and waiting for Mommy to come back! Aunt Bonnie brought a big orange cone for Chief, but he didn’t seem to want it… And, because Chief knows how much I love to play with the cone in the arena, he asked his Mommy to give it me!

I like to play with my cone during the day when I’m bored, after Mommy and I have already worked, before she comes back for an evening visit… But it’s also fun to play with my cone at night before I hit the shavings!

Icchy-Cone

I’ll be forever grateful to Chief and his Mommy, my Aunt Bonnie. They spoil me so much!

Honestly, I’m probably the most spoiled horse in the history of horses. My Mommy loves to spoil me, too – and so does her Mommy! In fact, last weekend, my Mommy and her Mommy went on a shopping trip just to buy me pretty things! (They said that their favorite tack store was going out of business and having a sale, but I know that was really just another excuse to buy me lots of cool presents.)

I got a cool, stylish new fly mask and a brand new lead rope…

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And I even got a tail bag! 

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This is the first tail bag that I’ve ever had, and I really love it. But I didn’t know what to make of it at first! Right after Mommy put it on me, I tried to swat away some flies with my tail – and I seriously thought that someone was smacking me with something! I kept testing it out, and I kept getting spooked when I’d hit myself in the side with the tail bag. For the life of me, I could not understand why someone would smack me just for swatting away flies… and I had no idea who was doing it, either – because I could see Mommy standing right next to me! Of course, she was laughing, and I did not find the situation very funny.

Finally, Mommy grabbed the tail bag and pulled it as close to my face as she could to show me that it was actually attached to my tail. When I found out that I had been spooking at my own tail, I felt pretty silly – but that feeling didn’t last too long. The wheels in my head began to turn, and I realized something very important: the tail bag was much longer than my actual tail. You might be wondering why that matters – and I will gladly tell you. With a tail bag much longer than my actual tail, I can swat away flies that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach! I can even swat them off of my shoulders if I aim well enough! It’s absolutely heavenly… especially because I have great aim!

Anyway, the presents didn’t stop there.

Mommy and her Mommy also bought me some brand new saddle pads. Our unanimous favorite is the one with cute little owls on it! Mommy loves owls. I’ve never seen one in real life, but if they’re as cute in real life as they are on the saddle pad, then I definitely want to be their friend.

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In addition to the favorite owl pad, I got a bright blue saddle pad, a bright pink one and one with a black-and-white pattern on it to match the fancy saddle bag that Mommy got before she and I moved out here.

Mommy also got me five different pairs of boots, all of which I love (but some of which I love more than others).

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IMG_1495Those aren’t all of them, but those ones are my favorites. (And, of course, I won’t wear a different boot on each leg while I work, like I do sometimes with colorful polos… I’ll probably only wear matching sets. But you never know!) It just figures that the boots I love the most are the ones Mommy wants to save only for special occasions… like jumping day!

Speaking of jumping day… (…I bet you already know what I’m going to say…)

That’s right, you guessed it: I got to jump on Friday! (And yes, I wore my brand new boots and one of my brand new saddle pads!) But I knew it was jumping day before I was even tacked up… because Mommy gave me marshmallows, my super-special jumping day treat!

After warming up on the flat and then over some small jumps, Mommy and I worked through a line that consisted of three jumps. The first two jumps didn’t have a stride in between (which is called a “bounce”). That means that I land from the first jump and immediately jump the second one. The second to third jump had one single stride in between. So it was a “bounce to a one-stride” line. It was only a little bit tricky, but a lot of fun.

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Every time we jumped through the line successfully, Mommy would raise the jumps up a little higher. Eventually, the last jump was set to three and a half feet, which is the highest I’d jumped since getting to California and getting back into shape. Once that last jump was set at 3’6, it was definitely much more difficult… but nothing that Mommy and I couldn’t handle.

When Mommy had determined that I’d jumped through the line enough times – and praised me profusely for being such a good boy – she decided that I deserved another reward. Mommy knows how much I love to jump really high, so my reward was getting to jump a four-foot-high oxer! 

Mommy moved two of the jumps from the line together to make an oxer and took the last jump out completely. As we cantered around the turn and started our approach to the jump, I could feel Mommy’s heart pounding and realized that she was a little bit nervous! Even though I wasn’t nervous at all, I understood why Mommy was. It had been about a year since we’d jumped anything nearly that big, and Mommy must have been feeling a lot of emotions.

First of all, I know she was nervous just because it’s been so long since she has jumped that big, too, but she was also probably really scared that I’d hurt myself and have to take time off again. I didn’t want her to be nervous that I would refuse the jump or knock it down, in addition to all of the other things she was feeling, so I made sure to canter up to it with confidence. I wanted her to know that I would take care of her, but I also wanted her to know that I was ready for this!

It was a piece of carrot cake. I didn’t even have to try very hard to jump over it!

Mommy told me later that she asked me to go a little too fast on the approach because she was nervous, and she also joked that she was “hiding” in my mane while we were in the air! I assured her that she did a very good job during her first time jumping four feet since last summer… and she assured me of the same thing! She told me about a thousand times how proud of me she was… and, of course, I got more marshmallows afterward as a special treat.

Anyway, I know I sometimes complain about the hard work that I have to do in order to get back into shape (…especially about the exercises from that “101 Jumping Exercises” book that Mommy loves to practice), but I really do have to admit that the hard work is paying off! Mommy said that if I keep working this hard and doing such a great job, she thinks we will be jumping five feet again in a matter of mere months! I know that we can do it. I can hardly wait!

So, I guess that’s about all I have to share with you tonight. Not because there’s not more – there’s always more – but I’ll have to share the rest with you another time. For now, friends, I have to hit the shavings and get some sleep. But I’ll write again very soon, and when I do, I’ll be sure to tell you all about the first trail ride we went on since moving to California! Until then, remember to work hard, listen to your humans and always ask for one more treat (because you just might get it if you ask for it)! I’ll catch y’all later…

4ft

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Fearless Princess

One of the things that I love the most about California – as I know I’ve mentioned before – is how friendly and outgoing everyone is here, and how easy it is to make friends!

You see, I’ve always been able to make friends with humans pretty easily, being that I’m super lovable and sweet (and handsome and charming) (and modest!). Most of the horses I’ve met have ended up wanting to be my friends, too… except for the ones who had a major chip on their withers (which honestly haven’t been that many). I’ve even made friends with some dogs – like Annie, the dog I became friends with when I lived at my Aunt Joyce’s house in New York.

But all my life, I’ve always wanted to make friends with a kitty. There’s just something about them; they’re so regal and independent. If you win the hard-earned love and friendship of a kitty, you know you’ve done something worthwhile. (Not like winning the friendship of a dog, where all you have to do is glance in their general direction and you’ve won them over. Don’t get me wrong, though; I’m pretty much the same way. I love making friends with dogs – because my friendship is just as easy to win!)

Anyway, I’m sure most of you remember Rocky the Kitty, right? He was a kitty that I became friends with in Tennessee. He was shy and a little nervous at first, but we quickly became buddies. The only bad part about my friendship with Rocky was that he didn’t like to hug or cuddle – and I love to hug and cuddle. 

Then, when I moved out here to California, I became friends with a kitty named Olive and also with her barn-sister, a kitty named Becky. They’re both wonderful and love to hang out with Mommy and me. But I have finally met a kitty who takes the entire carrot-cake. She’s probably my best kitty friend in the whole world, and I’ve barely known her a single day!

Yesterday, while Mommy and I were working, we noticed that we had an audience.

Look, Mommy! There's Princess!

Look, Mommy! There’s Princess!

So, when it was time to take a break, we went over to say hello.

Princess gave me the warmest, friendliest hello of any kitty I’ve ever met before. She gave me a “kitty hug” before I’d even had a chance to introduce myself!

Well, hello there, Princess! It's nice to finally meet you up close!

Well, hello there, Princess! It’s nice to finally meet you up close!

Mommy leaned down to pet Princess and say hello, too, and then Princess did something completely unexpected.

She climbed right up into Mommy’s lap… on my back!

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I stood really still, because I didn’t want to scare her – but I should have known better. Any Princess who is brave enough to climb onto a horse’s back is clearly fearless!

As soon as she hopped up into the saddle, I could feel that weird, happy vibration that humans call “purring.” (I don’t know how those kitties do it, but I sure wish I could purr. There are lots of occasions when I would purr if I could, like when Daddy used to massage my ears… Or when I’m eating my grain!)

Anyway, Princess was apparently so happy to be sitting on my back that she decided to take a nap. That was fine with me, though, because it meant that I could take a longer break and just hang out, eating grass over the wall!

You just sleep as loooong as you want to, Princess!

You just sleep as loooong as you want to, Princess!

Mommy thought it was absolutely hysterical that Princess just jumped up into her lap while she was on my back, but I thought it was really cool. I knew that Princess and I would be best friends forever!

Now THAT is a happy kitty!

Now THAT is a happy kitty!

Eventually, Mommy told Princess that she’d either have to ride double with us while I finished my workout, or that she would have to get back down and watch from the sidelines. After a few more cuddles and a big hug (and head-scratchies from Mommy, which made Princess purr even louder), my newest kitty friend hopped back down onto the wall and wandered off to catch some mice, or sleep in the sunshine, or whatever it is that Princesses do in their free time.

Yep, I think I’m really going to love it here in California… In fact, I already do!

That’s about all I’ve got for you today, friends. I’ll continue to keep you updated on my California adventures; I’m sure there are many more to come. Catch y’all later!

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

California Culture

Well, I’ve been living in California for almost three weeks now, and I think it’s about time for me to report on what I’ve learned.

Important Facts About California:

  • This time of year, the nights get chilly (but not quite “Tennessee-cold”) and the days get hot rather quickly.
  • The sun actually does shine as much as “they” say it does, but so far it’s not as humid as Tennessee or Florida… or even New York. (I guess we’ll see what the summer brings!)
  • Psyllium, although I haven’t had any yet, is definitely a necessity here because there is a lot of sand – and Mommy told me that Psyllium will help to clean out the sand from inside my belly.
  • People (and horses and cats) are as warm and friendly as the weather here, which makes it really easy to make friends. I’ve made quite a few friends already; even the horses who were grumpy at first and swore they’d never be my friend have warmed up to me (and some of them even whinny at me when they see me coming!)
  • The Alfalfa hay here in California is like candy, it’s so delicious.
  • Palm trees look neat, but I can’t really form an opinion on them until I’ve had a chance to taste them… which I don’t think will ever happen, because they’re all really tall.

I guess there’s more, but that about sums up what I’ve learned thus far about the culture and the environment. I’ll share more of my findings as I learn more about this amazing state. (After all, I still haven’t gone out on a trail ride yet!)

The Most Important Ingredient

I’ve been getting into a pretty good routine here, but I know it’s probably going to change a few times. For now, though, I get to see Mommy twice a day (every day!) and I’ve already made a few friends, like I mentioned before. The best part is that I’ve made friends with a fairly wide range of species, including horses, cats and humans. And friends are the most important ingredient in the recipe of life… that is, aside from family!

My friends, Splash and Sally

The first friends I made, of course, were Ringo and Chip – but Chip actually moved on to a different barn to become a dressage superstar. From what he told me, he loves dressage and was pretty excited to pursue his passion. I’m happy for him, but I do miss him.

I didn’t get a chance to miss him for long, however, before a new friend moved in. This sweet, older mare named Splash now lives next to me in Chip’s old stall. (She’s the one who told me at first that she didn’t want to be my friend.) When I came over to say hello to her the day she moved in, she pinned her ears and squealed at me like I’d done something wrong. Of course, I’ve gotten that reaction from horses before (though not very often – I’m much too lovable for that), so I wasn’t really phased by it. I simply gave her a minute and then tried another tactic. I very casually told her how my Mommy loves to share my treats with my friends (and there are always lots of treats to be shared), so friendship with me definitely had a couple upsides.

After a moment’s contemplation, Splash said that she’d give me a trial period. But the first time Mommy came through with carrots for everyone, Splash realized that I hadn’t been fibbing – and I think it solidified our new friendship instantly. Now, after I’ve been out of my stall for a while, she even whinnies to me when I come back!

On the other side of Splash is a pretty little gray mare named Sally. I met Sally one day when she was running around in the arena and showing off how beautifully she moves. Mommy wanted to go for a walk, but I was too captivated by Sally; I just wanted to stay and watch her dance! Sally’s human is named Elizabeth. She and her Mommy, Shelley, are two of my other new friends. They’re both very sweet and always say hello when they see me. Shelley is also a trainer at my barn!

Khalid, I think you're my new best friend.

Khalid, I think you’re my new best friend.

Another friend that I’ve made is this older horse named Khalid. He’s not in the Mare Motel where Sally, Splash, Ringo and I live; he’s actually up the hill in one of the pipe corrals. I met him one day while Mommy and I were taking a walk around the property, as we do every so often (for exercise and a change of scenery). When I got to his corral, he came right over to the fence to say hello. I don’t know what it was about him, but he and I made an instant connection! We started grooming on one another and declared each other our new “besties.”

Khalid

Seriously, dude… Do you want me to take that off for you?

Khalid wears a big fly mask that I always want to take off for him. I’ve never actually asked him if he even likes wearing it – I just know that I don’t like to wear my fly mask (it makes my face itchy, even though it keeps the flies off of it), so one day I unfastened the velcro for him. He seemed to think it was pretty funny, and I bet he would have let me take the whole thing off for him… but Mommy told me to stop before I got that far. “Not everyone hates their fly mask the way you do, Icchy,” she said to me as she re-fastened the velcro. “Khalid might actually like having his on. It keeps the flies off of his face – and it’s like wearing sunglasses! You’d be a better friend if you left it on for him!”

I supposed that Mommy had a pretty good point, so the next time I saw Khalid I just shared my carrots with him instead of trying to take off his fly mask. (But that still doesn’t stop me from taking of my own fly mask whenever Mommy puts it on my face!)

Two more human friends I’ve made are Bernie and Lou. They are so nice! They always bring carrots and give everyone some as a special treat. I haven’t really made friends with their horses, Lady and Whisky, but I know I’m going to. Lady is also a retired racehorse – just like me! But she squeals at me when I try to come over to her and say hello, so I don’t want to make her uncomfortable. I know she’ll warm up to me one day soon, and then I’ll be able to make friends with Whisky, as well!

I love you, Aunt Bonnie!

I love you, Aunt Bonnie!

Anyway, I didn’t tell you about my Aunt Bonnie yet, or about her boy, Chief. My Aunt Bonnie is the one who spoils me the most (aside from my Mommy, of course). I love her! She’s always bringing me over treats and little buckets filled with the most delicious hay pellets. I mean, you’d think they’d be boring because they’re just hay made into pellets, right? Wrong! They’re scrumptious and I love eating them! Mommy said that they give me green lipstick, but I don’t mind – especially because Mommy said green lipstick looks good on me. (How could it not? Everything looks good on me!) I try to let my Aunt Bonnie know how much I appreciate her by giving her lots of kisses (without the lipstick). But I think she probably already knows that I love her. After all… she’s my Aunt Bonnie!

Hey, Chief!

And do you know what the best part is? My Aunt Bonnie’s boy, Chief, is another one of my good friends! We met one day when I was walking around with Mommy. We didn’t have to walk very far because Chief lives in the row of pipe corrals right next to the Mare Motel! It was another one of those instant connections; we met and began grooming on each other immediately. Chief is a big sweetheart and has lots of love and patience to go around. Do you know what Chief does? Among many other things, he gives lessons to children with disabilities. He keeps them safe and gives them confidence. He’s basically a superstar! That’s probably why we got along so well to begin with – we’re both superstars! (I know, I know… I’m supposed to try to be more modest… But come on, we all know it’s true!)

Now, I know I’ve told you about my kitty friend, Olive. (She’s the one who came over and hung out with me while I worked and then even stayed to graze with me afterward.) But I’ve made more than just one kitty friend; there are so many cats at this barn who love to be around us horses! That makes me pretty happy. Y’all know how much I love making friends, big and small.

So, aside from Olive, my next best-kitty-friend is Becky. She’s a pretty little Calico cat and she loves to hang out with me, whatever I’m doing. She even comes into my stall and cuddles with me sometimes while Mommy grooms on me. When she’s hanging out with me, I try to stand really still so I don’t accidentally step on her or scare her – but she seems to be very familiar with horses and knows when to get out of the way. She’s so fast! She can jump so high! And, from what I hear, she’s a really good hunter, too. Becky likes to rub her body and her tail against me, and Mommy told me that’s like giving a hug in kitty language. I love hugs; I’ll take all the hugs I can get!

My special little friend, Becky.

My special little friend, Becky.

There are a couple other kitties at the barn who I don’t know that well yet, but they still like to come and hang out with me. Sometimes they even watch me work in the mornings, which is awesome, because – as anyone who knows me knows – I love having an audience. It’s nice when my friends come and watch me work because it gives me a chance to show off a little bit – even when it’s just a group of my kitty friends. Having anyone there, though, gives me confidence and makes me want to work even harder than I already do!

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A lot of the time, on a hot, sunny day, I see the kitties sitting together on the patio of the show barn. They’re all such good friends; it makes me happy to see them enjoying their life. These lucky cats get to roam around the property during the day, making friends and hanging out with humans and horses and each other – and sometimes even catching the mice and rats who like to try to steal our grain. And then, at night, they get to sleep indoors, safe from all of the scary animals who lurk in the darkness at night, just waiting to catch a small kitty for a midnight snack. It’s clear that their humans give them the best of everything… just like my own humans do for me!

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Not All Fun And Games… But Mostly

Now, in case you were starting to think that my life mainly consists of hanging out and making friends… well, I guess that’s actually true. But I do still work very hard on a(n almost) daily basis. As many of you know, it’s my goal to become a “Grand Prix Jumper” someday in the very near future, and that means that I have to practice and get into the best shape of my life! Last year, I had a lot of time off because of a couple misplaced nails in my shoes, and then the winter in Tennessee was cold and rainy and snowy – so I arrived in California with very little muscle and even less stamina, because it had been so long since I’d had a consistent workout schedule. But that all changed the day I arrived in Sunny SoCal. It was time to get into shape and start really working toward my goals! Mommy said that she was out of shape too, though, so we would be able to get into shape together.

Mommy and I have both been working very hard. We don’t work more than 4 or 5 days each week, though – and never 5 days in a row – because Mommy feels that resting after a hard workout is just as important as the workout itself. She doesn’t want me to get degenerative joint disease, which is a real possibility for horses who work as hard as I do! So the days of rest give my muscles and joints a chance to repair themselves, which in turn makes me even stronger. Of course, “a day of rest” doesn’t mean that I just sit in my stall all day, bored and unfulfilled. Sometimes it means I get to go for a long walk around the property with Mommy, saying hello to all of the friends I’ve made.

All my friends

And it usually means that I get turned out in the arena, where I get to run and play and roll and buck as much as I want to! Mommy doesn’t chase me or make me run on my days off; I only run if I want to, but I almost always buck and roll and take some time to act silly!

Acting Silly

My workouts have been getting increasingly more difficult since landing here in California. We started out with light, easy workouts, just aiming to get back into the swing of things. At first, that was plenty; I was out of breath after a twenty minute workout… and so was Mommy. But we’ve been increasing the length and intensity of our workouts as we both get into better shape.

We work out at all different times of the day, too. Most of the time we ride mid-morning, but sometimes Mommy rides in the evening – and sometimes, we get up before the sun even peeks out over the hills of the canyon where we live!

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Because I’ve been working so hard and trying my best to focus and behave every time Mommy and I ride, I got rewarded by getting to jump a little bit! The jump was really small, though, and it made me frustrated because I miss jumping BIG jumps! I mean, I used to jump five feet high, before the “hot nail incidents,” so why can’t I just go back to jumping five feet again right now?!

Well, I found out the answer to that after jumping a little, tiny jump a few times in a row: I was sore! Even though the jump was small, I was using muscles that I hadn’t used in a while. Then I understood why Mommy was torturing me by making me jump something that seemed too small to be worth the effort. She knew I’d be sore the next day, and she wants to make sure that I work my way back up to those big jumps slowly. She even gave me a liniment bath afterward and wrapped my legs in standing wraps, which I was pretty happy about, because it helped keep my legs from “stocking up,” or getting swollen, when I went back to my stall.

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After another week’s worth of flat work, Mommy decided that I deserved another day of fun. So one morning, instead of riding me and doing our normal workout, Mommy turned me out in the arena and let me gallop around. Then, to my surprise, she set up a small jump and let me go over it by myself, without her on my back!

It’s been a long time since I’ve “free jumped,” and it was a lot of fun. Mommy actually ended up putting me on the lunge line, though, because she didn’t want me wasting too much energy by galloping all around the huge arena after each jump; she knew I’d be tired and sore enough just from jumping. I had so much fun! I even got to jump a small oxer! Mommy let me jump as many times as I wanted to, until I was so tired that I could only trot over the jump. I wanted to keep jumping, even at a trot, but Mommy said that it was probably enough for the day.

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Because I had worked so hard and I was so tired after free jumping, Mommy decided that I should walk on the hot-walker. Of course, she let me walk around in the arena first (and roll, because I was itchy and sweaty), but she wanted to make sure that I walked enough, so that I wouldn’t tie up or colic or get really, really sore.

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After walking on the hot-walker for a while, Mommy gave me a liniment bath and wrapped my legs in standing wraps again, too. Then we got to hang out and graze for a while before I went back to my stall and took a long nap! I’m usually pretty exhausted after my workouts, but it’s a good feeling because it means that I’m officially back in the game! 

Today I got two extra special treats. Not only did Mommy’s human parents come to see me, which was really exciting and fun, but they also brought me a scrumptious carrot cake cupcake with delicious cream cheese frosting that Mommy’s sister-in-law made for Easter! At first, I didn’t know what to make of it and I accidentally spat it out. But then I regretted that immediately! Mommy picked it up and took the dirt off of it before giving it back to me, and then I gobbled it up!

Easter Cupcake

Actually, those weren’t even the only two special treats that I got today. While Mommy and I were working in the lower arena, I was trying to be on my best behavior and show off a little for her parents (because, as I’ve said, I love having an audience). Since I was being such a good boy, Mommy decided that I would get to jump a little bit today, too! That made me very happy, not only because I love jumping, but because it meant I’d have a chance to show off a little bit more for “my audience!” We still only jumped a small jump – but it was still a lot of fun. And since I’d gotten to free jump a few days before, I didn’t feel the need to rush or get silly when I was jumping today! Mommy was very proud of me and I could tell that her human parents were, too!

Jumping!

Everything is Meaningful

Mommy said that the most important thing right now – in regard to jumping, anyway – is that I stay calm and listen to her, instead of getting excited and trying to rush over the jump or take control. She promised me that I’d get to move up to bigger jumps pretty soon, as long as I keep working hard on my flatwork and grid work, and focus on everything she asks me to do.

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She assured me that even the boring exercises have a purpose; if I try my best, even at the exercises that I don’t particularly enjoy, then I’ll be back into shape and ready to start jumping courses again in no time! Then again, I’m sure that “no time” means something different to her than what it means to me… I have to admit, though, I really don’t mind working hard when Mommy and I ride because she gives me lots of love and attention, and she allows me to have a lot of fun, too. I mean, I wouldn’t have been able to make as many friends as I have if she didn’t come to the barn to spend so much time with me and make sure that I’m not bored and lonely. She also promised that we’ll get to go out for a trail ride soon so that I don’t have to be in the arena all of the time. Although, I must say, having three arenas to work in makes the arena work much more interesting!

Anyway, I’m sure there’s more that I could tell you – as always – but I’m about ready to hit the shavings and get some sleep. So I’ll catch y’all later!

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Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Dressage for Jumping!

Friends, I know a lot of you Jumpers out there might thoroughly dislike Dressage. Trust me, I understand; it can be infuriating and sometimes, we just can’t understand why our humans make us do the silly things they make us do.

But you should know that it’s about more than just dancing and looking pretty. If you’re a Jumper and your human is making you do Dressage, well… they’re doing it for your own good.

I know, I know; right now, you think I’m crazy. How can Dressage be for your own good, when all you want to do is run fast and jump high?!

Well, you see, Dressage is meant to help you become instantly responsive to even the most subtle cues of the hand, seat and leg; the goal, as a human, is to ask you once, and have you respond immediately – and then hold it (whatever the command is that they asked you for) until they tell you to do something else.

The better you are at Dressage, the easier you and your human will be able to communicate in the Jumping Arena!

For instance, here is a video of me practicing a “Haunches In,” and then a “Shoulder In.”

Now, I’m not the best at either – and I’m better at the Shoulder In than the Haunches In. However,  I can do both effectively; when I’m finished, though, I have a good reminder in my head of the subtle difference in cues between my rider’s leg, hand, and seat.

Subsequently, when we jumped the next day, I was listening more carefully to my Mommy’s aides – and we had a really, REALLY great day!

In fact, we had such a great day, that we jumped the TOP HOLE of FIVE FOOT standards! It was fantastic!

So, if your human starts asking you to do Dressage as a Jumper, don’t despair – it might actually mean that you’re going to be better at jumping because of it!

However, if they tell you you’re going to start doing Dressage instead of jumping… well, if that happens, call me immediately!!!

For now, I’m off to eat some grass with my two best friends, Troy and William. Catch y’all later!

Jumping the top hole of five foot standards!

Jumping the top hole of five foot standards!

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star, Memories and Nostalgia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jumping days and sleeping under the stars

Friends, I’m sorry that I haven’t written in such a long time… I can’t believe it’s already been three days! A lot has happened in the past three days, although I know that’s no excuse to abandon y’all. I’ll try to recapture everything that has happened, so you don’t feel like you’ve missed anything…

Monday was a rainy, dreary day, just as the day before it had been. Mommy and Daddy came to visit me in the morning, and we all crossed our hooves (or, in their case, they crossed their fingers) that the rain would stop long enough for us to get in a good workout! Even a quick workout would be nice; I just needed to get out my energy!

Well, sure enough, the rain died down to a soft drizzle, and my Mommy decided that we should get out there and at least stretch our legs. But we were afraid that we might get caught in a downpour, and she didn’t want to risk getting our saddle soaked… so she put on my bridle and hopped on me, bareback!

Walking down to the arena with Mommy.

Walking down to the arena with Mommy.

We went down to the jumping arena to see how the footing was, and we weren’t surprised to find that it was wet. We were surprised, however, to find that it wasn’t very slippery, even though it had been raining for the past few days! So, after we walked around for a while, Mommy and I trotted and cantered a little bit. Not much… just a little bit. We even worked on some shoulder-in and haunches-in exercises at the trot, and Mommy told me I was brilliant!

Practicing our dressage in the rain!

Practicing our dressage in the rain!

After a little while, we decided to walk up the hill and see how the footing was in dressage arena. Again… it was perfectly fine, even though it was wet. It felt pretty cool to be able to ride in two different arenas – even in the rain!

We worked on a few flying lead changes in the dressage arena, and again, Mommy said I did brilliantly. I didn’t even mind that it was drizzling, because Mommy and I were having so much fun!

Working on flying lead changes in the Dressage arena!

Working on flying lead changes in the Dressage arena!

We didn’t work for very long; I didn’t mind that we had a short, easy workout, because I was happy that I got to stretch my legs and get out some of my energy.

Mommy and Daddy groomed on me and made sure I was cozy and dry, and then they said goodbye… but they came back later in the evening to check on me! I was outside in my paddock, grazing with my friends, when they came back; Daddy told me that they wanted to make sure I was alright outside, since it was still raining on and off. Of course, I told them that they were embarrassing me with all of their fussing, and that I was fine. I just wanted to hang out with my friends, William and Zii!

Guys, come on... You're embarrassing me!

Guys, come on… You’re embarrassing me!

Then again, I secretly loved all of the attention they were giving me, but I couldn’t tell them that – not in front of my friends!

Anyway, the next day, Mommy told me that it was jumping day! I was excited, and I wanted to make sure that I was on my best behavior. First, we worked on jumping a whole course. I have to admit, I got a little bit cheeky… I mean, it’s not that I was bad or anything; I was just excited, so I got a little quick now and then. You know, pulling at the reins and whatnot. So, Mommy made me work on collecting and staying slow over the jumps, and then she asked me to do a couple rollbacks from one jump to another, at a collected canter – that was Daddy’s idea – and I did it perfectly. After that, we worked on an exercise that was really fun, but really tough! We did a bounce (two jumps without a stride in between) to a one stride, with an oxer at the end.

I know, I know… what’s so tough about that? Well, every time I jumped it successfully, my Daddy would spread the oxer wider and wider, until we jumped it with a five foot spread! Of course, it wasn’t the first time I’d jumped an oxer with that wide of a spread, and it certainly wasn’t the highest oxer with a five-foot-spread that I’d jumped (because I’ve jumped an oxer set at 4’2 with a five foot spread before)… but it was a lot of fun, and you know how much I love a challenge! 

Jumping an oxer with a five foot spread! We're flying!!

Jumping an oxer with a five foot spread! We’re flying!!

To my very happy surprise, I actually got to spend the entire rest of the day and the entire night outside in the paddock with my friends! Though, I was sad to find that Zii had moved on to a different paddock… but I did make a new friend named Troy! He and William and I hung out all day and all night, just eating grass and getting to know one another!

Today, I got an extra special reward for having done such a great job yesterday: my Daddy rode me!

Just the boys today!

Just the boys today!

We had a really good, light workout, and he even jumped me over a couple small jumps. We didn’t do anything serious, of course; Mommy only let us jump a little bit since we didn’t jump very big yesterday, and she made sure we didn’t jump too many times today, either. We just jumped through the bounce-to-the-one-stride-line a couple times. Oh, but don’t worry; the last jump was no longer set at a five-foot spread. It was just a small, simple vertical. We did a great job; Daddy and I always do well together!

Exercising with my Daddy!

Exercising with my Daddy!

I got to have a shower and lots of treats when I was done with my workout, and then I got to relax inside my stall. I really didn’t mind being inside for the rest of the day; it was pretty hot out today, and my stall was nice and cool. Plus, I was very tired, and took the opportunity to have a much needed nap!

It’s a beautiful night though; I’m happy to be outside again, getting ready to sleep under the stars with my two friends, William and Troy. I’ll get to have tomorrow off, since I’ve worked more than my allowed number of days in a row. I don’t mind, though, because I had a ton of pent up energy from the move and all that, so I really did need to get it all out. Now I’m as happy as can be, with my new friends and my new routine. I love my new home; I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

For the immediate future, though, I can tell you with a great deal of certainty that it holds a long, peaceful sleep! Catch y’all later…

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star, Memories and Nostalgia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Over the Moon!

That’s right, friends. Right now, I am OVER THE MOON with happiness! Why, you ask?

Because I JUMPED OVER THE MOON!

Okay, obviously I don’t mean that literally. But today, I didn’t only break my own height record; I jumped into a whole new level of existence. Today, my Mommy and I jumped FIVE FEET HIGH!

Jumping five feet high with my Mommy!

Jumping five feet high with my Mommy!

The best part about the day was that I actually had an audience! So many people came out to watch me and cheer me on! There was my Mommy’s cousin, Jeanne, and Jeanne’s husband, David; my girlfriend, Brooke, and two of her friends, Stephanie and Wags; Danyssa, one of my Mommy’s friends (and former horseback riding student) and Danyssa’s Mommy, Brandy… and of course, there was also my Daddy.

Everyone was really impressed with me and really excited to watch me jump! I tried my hardest for them because I knew that they were all there for me… It was the most amazing feeling. When I was finished, everyone even gave me my favorite treat in the whole world… MARSHMALLOWS!

Jumping five feet high was a lot of fun. I have to say, though, it wasn’t that much harder than jumping 4’6. Mommy said that we don’t have that much higher until we’re jumping at the height of the Grand Prix! That sounds so exciting to me! But first, I’ll have to practice jumping courses a lot more. You see, Mommy wants me to be jumping four foot high courses by the end of the month… in less than two weeks! But now that I’ve jumped five feet, four feet just seems like another warm up jump to me! Bring on the BIG jumps!

Oh, do you want to see a video of me jumping five feet today? Here it is:

Oh, also, Mommy’s friend Danyssa brought a little video camera, and she actually mounted it to Mommy’s helmet! I’ll post the video tomorrow; it’s really cool, it’s just taking a long time to upload. I’ve never seen myself jumping through the “eyes” of my Mommy while she’s riding me! It was actually kind of funny to see what it looked like from Mommy’s perspective; I am used to seeing what it looks like from the ground, since Daddy video tapes us all the time, but this was something completely different!

So, after I was all done and cooled down, Mommy put liniment and poultice on my legs (all the way up to my knees and hocks), and then she wrapped them in those big, fluffy pillow wraps. Mommy, Daddy, Stephanie, Wags, and my girlfriend, Brooke, all hung out with me and groomed on me and praised me and pet me and talked about how amazing I am. It felt really good to have so many people fawning over me. You know how I love attention! Daddy even polished my hooves for me again. I was definitely the star of the show today…. Just the way I like it!!

After I was all wrapped up and had eaten as many marshmallows as my Mommy would allow, she put me in my stall with a bunch of hay. When I was finished with my hay, I even got my dinner grain right away! Oh, but don’t worry; it had already been almost 2 hours since I’d finished working. You know my Mommy would never let me eat too soon and risk getting colic! After all, I am her pride and joy.

Alright, friends. I just got my hay for night check, and Auntie Paulette put on my green blanket. We snuggled for a little while – I love my Auntie – and now I’m feeling sleepy and cozy warm. So I’m going to go eat some hay, and then I’m heading to bed. It’s been a big, exciting day, and I’m exhausted! I’ll be sure to post that “helmet-cam” video tomorrow so you can all see it, too, and feel like you’re riding the jump with me! Sleep tight, friends… Catch y’all tomorrow!

Categories: A Day in the Life of Icchy Star | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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