Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mort - Finding Niches

Karen and I bounced on the truck seat next to her mother. We chattered and picked like a couple of magpies, too keyed up to listen when her mom begged, "Please sit still, we have a long drive ahead of us and you girls are driving me crazy!"
The truck groaned and clanked it's way down the highway. We were headed to the United States Air Force Academy on our way to compete in our first NATRC ride.

I had heard of the competitive trail riding group through my friend Karen. She and her mother had started to ride with a local trail riding club and were moving up to competition.

They invited me to come and Karen and I were going to ride together. I couldn't get over the concept. Being judged on trail riding with your horse. What a great idea! I felt like Mort and I would be a shoo-in on this deal. Because we were born to trail ride.

The ride was to take place over two days. There would be steep hills to climb, water to cross and hidden judges waiting to catch us riding our horses wrong.

There would be maps to follow and a time frame to finish our ride in. These were (and are) the sort of things that could make my head explode. There was no way my ADD riddled brain could follow a time table or make heads or tails out of a map.

But I could ride. My horse was strong and confident. I would just follow the lead of my more experienced friend and be fine.

We pulled onto the Academy grounds and wound our way into camp. There were woods everywhere. It wasn't that much different than Palmer Park. A little colder maybe, a little wilder, but that just made my excitement grow.

Finally we were doing something Mort would simply shine at. Nobody else I knew had a horse who could travel like Mort. This was going to be great.

We made camp and got our horses settled in. Karen and I hauled water and gave them hay. We made our bed inside the horse trailer on top of our hay bales.

"Excuse us girls...."

I stuck my head over the door of the trailer and was greeted by a couple of serious looking adults, both carrying clipboards and pens.

"Are you ready for your camp inspection?"

"What the hell is a camp inspection?" I hissed at Karen.

"Don't worry about it, they're just checking to see if we are taking care of the horses the right way," she answered.

Karen stepped out of the trailer with a welcoming smile to the judges and said, "I guess we're ready.

And ready she was.

The judges walked around her horse, Sparkle, looked in a few buckets and checked her lead rope and halter. They smiled and visited and Karen began to beam. I began to relax. This shouldn't be too hard.

As they came over to my side their smiles began to fade. My rope was tied wrong. The judges made me untie my horse, showed me how to tie a quick release knot and how long my lead rope should be and made me practice a few times.

My face burning, I did as I was told, even as my glance over at Karen's horse showed a neatly tied quick release.

My hay bag was too low, the area around my horse wasn't clean and my water bucket was hung where Mort could slice his face off when he tried to drink.

I kept glaring at my friend as the judges showed me what they wanted and made me comply before they moved on to my next transgression.

Why hadn't she told me any of this stuff?

Many humiliations and countless points later the judges finally moved on to their next victim.

"Jeez Karen, how did you know about all this stuff?" I asked.

"Me and Mom have been going to the club training sessions."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"I thought you knew."

"How would I know, I wasn't at those sessions."

"I guess you should have gone then."

It was slowly dawning on me there was more to this NATRC stuff than I thought. There was more to my good friend Karen than I thought too.

The soundness check went almost as well. Mort wouldn't trot for me and his shoes were too worn. He wasn't as clean as was required and he was rude when the judges looked in his mouth.

I saw them busily jotting down every detail of our ignorance and saw my chances of placing in this event slipping away before I ever through a leg over Mort's back.

As we walked down to the campfire for dinner and our trail meeting I burned holes in Karen's traitorous brain with my evil glare. She marched ahead of me and sat down with her mother. A demure smile graced her face and she attentively listened to the speaker as he discussed trails and times and agendas.

I didn't hear a word. My mind was spinning with thoughts of murder and betrayal. Karen was throwing my lack of money and a trailer at me just like everybody else did. She knew I couldn't go to those stupid training sessions. They cost money and I had bankrupted myself saving for the entry fees for this ride.

Why wasn't she telling me this stuff?

We headed back to our trailer and to bed in stony silence. It was perfectly clear to me I was on my own. I was going to have to tough it out.

I wrapped my arms around Mort's neck and snuffled into his mane. I pressed my face against his silky neck and could feel the rhythm as he chewed his hay. The sound of his chewing vibrated through me. The sweet smell of alfalfa and the sharp tang of the pines filled my nose and I felt my anger slip away.

We could do this. I didn't need her. What a butt.

Mort snorted and grunted as he swung his hay bag. A cool breeze whispered through our camp and I watched the shadows of the trees shift in the moonlight.

I stood leaning against my horse, breathing in his smell and listening to his stomach gurgle as long as he let me.

The next morning brought so much excitement I forgot to be angry at Karen. The trail was open and inviting and the day was just waiting to be tackled.

We mounted our horses and headed off into the woods. Mort trotted along easily, his ears flicking back and forth and his tail swinging in time to the beat of his trot.

Karen and I fell into our easy banter, the habits of hundreds of hours in the saddle erasing my fury from the day before. We cruised down the trail and headed into our first vet check.

Mort passed with ease, his slow steady heart beat such a surprise to the woman doing his P/R she called over the vet to double check.

"Why, this horse is in great shape, good for you," he told me.

I warmed under the praise.

Mort nickered and leaned into his lead rope. I saw Karen trotting off ahead of me. She had been cleared first and wasn't going to wait. I wrestled Mort into his bridle and swung into the saddle. He was anxiously trotting off before I even got my foot in the stirrup. I looked behind me and saw the judges busily writing away. Oh well.

I caught up to Karen and said, "Thanks for waiting."

She looked straight ahead and ignored me.

Mort was trotting in front of Sparkle when we came to the next judged obstacle. They sat in the open, wearing bright yellow slickers, midway up a steep incline.

I hesitated for a moment and made my way up the muddy trail. Karen stayed behind, waiting below us for her turn. I felt more than a little satisfaction as I watched Sparkle begin to paw and fuss. Mort wasn't the only horse who didn't like being left behind.

When I reached the judges they asked me to stop.

I turned Mort parallel to the hill and looked at them. Mort paid no attention to their crackling slickers.

"Dismount please."

I looked down. The steep incline fell away on my left side. I was stuck. There wasn't enough room to turn Mort the other way. I had been trained from day-one to dismount on the left.

I looked at the judges uncertainly. They looked back, impassive.

With a sigh I slid off on the left and almost continued on down the hill. Brief images of me rolling out of control only to be stopped by Karen's horse flashed before me.

I caught my stirrup and slipping and sliding, dragged myself up the hill. Mort stood like a rock, bless his heart.

I stood up and looked at the judges, wondering how I was ever going to get back on.

"Can't you mount your horse from the right side?"

"I don't know, I've never tried," I felt my ears beginning to burn.

"Do you want to try now? It will save you some points."

I walked to Mort's right side, feeling the total idiot and awkwardly stuck my foot in the right stirrup. Mort started to trot off as I unceremoniously dragged myself up.

"You're excused," the judge called after me, with more than a little sarcasm in her voice.

When we crested the top of the hill I turned and watched Karen climb the hill neat as a pin and dismount quickly and efficiently off the right side.

We rode to the next rest stop in silence.

As we headed into lunch a group of horses came up behind us at an extend trot. They were behind and racing the clock. Mort started to jig as they passed us. I held him in, knowing we were doing fine and needed to ride the rest of the way at a walk.

Mort's anxiety grew when I didn't let him go and he growled deep in his chest. He shook his head and began to lope, almost in place. Slime slung from his bit and we began to jig sideways, off the trail.

Suddenly Mort stumbled and sunk to his knees. I looked down and saw one foreleg buckled under him and the other pulled into a pile of logs and broken branches. He heaved himself back and up and got back on the trail.

"Oh no, look at his leg," Karen said.

One look at her pale face and I knew it wasn't good. I slid down and looked at his leg. Mort had a deep gash ending in a wicked puncture. Thick, dark blood oozed up out of the hole.

I led him the rest of the way into the vet check. The vet was summoned, Mort's leg was treated and dressed and we were pulled from the competition.

I was stunned. I sat by myself, glumly munching my sandwich and watching the rest of the riders. They talked and laughed among themselves.

Karen came over and sat down next to me.

"I'm really sorry you can't finish..."

I stared at her. The sadness in her eyes was real, but I couldn't make myself care. I stood up and began to lead Mort down the trail the vet had told me to follow. A trailer would meet me at the road, a quarter mile through the trees. The rain that had threatened all day began to fall.

As we walked through the trees Mort began to fuss. He jigged a circle around me, shaking his head and whinnying back to the other horses.

"Keep him quiet!" the vet called after me.

"You'll open that leg back up!"

The tears finally started. I jerked on my reins hard.

"Stop!" I yelled, "just stop!"

I jerked him again, once twice and again.

Mort flew backwards, pain and surprise in his eyes.

"You need to quit that," a quiet voice said behind me.

I turned and faced the stern faced judge from the hill. I stopped and looked shame-faced at my boots.

"You've had a bad go," she said, "it's no fault of the horse. This isn't about winning. It's about learning how to care for your horse."

I turned and led Mort down the trail. I ignored his fussing. I wiped my face and clenched down hard.

I stayed at camp the next day and doctored Mort. I led him out to the good grassy spots and let him graze. The vet came by and checked his leg. It was dry and there was no heat. The vet had me crouch down and learn the signs of infection and how to feel for signs of "mush" that would signal a tendon injury.

I nodded my thanks, but didn't say a word. I was done talking for this trip. I sat at the awards dinner and watched Karen get up to receive her second place award. I very carefully kept my emotions in check.

I thought a lot about what the judge had said to me. I sure didn't agree. It was all about winning. This sport may be about learning to take care of your horse, but it ended with winners and losers.The people who won had money and knowledge.

I intended to be a winner. If I couldn't get the money, I didn't see anybody stopping me from getting the knowledge. Except maybe myself.


autumnblaze said...

Ooooohhhh... I had a few 'friends' like Karen. How snotty of her not to tell you about the camp inspections and mounting from both sides etc. How old were you here? Heck, her MOM should have let you in on SOME of that stuff. I'm sure there was a book/rule manual she could have at least let you leaf through!

I'm glad Mort was okay. It sounds like you did learn something, say, from the vet and about people.

I love Mort stories. I'm so mad at Karen and her mom though... hmmph!

mugwump said...

autumnblaze-I was 15, so was Karen.Her Mom was around, but I never told on anybody, ever, ever. I was a fairly sullen, quiet kid.

rheather said...

I still find myself with that feeling-ugh. And at 15-double ugh.

I have to admit I want to kick Karen-HARD!!!

Whinny said...

Hey, I've been reading your blog for awhile, but haven't commented before. Man, Karen was such a brat! And this is exactly why I compete in Endurance rather than NATRC, there's no stupid rules! I bet you guys would've won an endurance ride for sure!

Jocelyn said...

Oh I would have been soooo pissed!

I would have just melted into a big blob of tears.

Good for you for cowgirl up!

I hate being judges, thats why Endurance is for me. No judges, just me and the pony...

mugwump said...

In defense of NATRC...The organization MADE ME learn to keep my horse safe. I learned how to check his P/R, keep him safe at the trailer, how to avoid soring him, saddle fit, trail manners, obstacle negotiations...I could go on and on.
I think every horse person should go on a few of those rides. The practical information available to numb nuts (like I was) was priceless. I think even advanced riders can benefit.

AKPonyGirl said...

mugs - I volunteered on two NATRC CTRs and loved it. However, I don't think I will ever compete in one. You are invited to come to the Bald Mountain Butt Buster in Wasilla, Alaska next July/August. I have a horse you can ride.

I'm with rheather - I want to kick Karen HARD too!

mocharocks said...

Just one more example of why the only only person you can truly count on is yourself :)

AareneX said...

I agree the NATRC is a great spot to LEARN stuff, but when I'm ready to DO stuff, it's the endurance trail for me.

Mort and you would've been an awesome endurance team. Lemme know if you're ever in the Pacific Northwest and want to do some enduring....!

Hannah said...

Wow...Two of the horses I ride are Competitive Train trained, one is a National Champion with a 3000 mile plaque. I've never competed myself (I hope to next year...maybe...if things work out) but I really, really want to, mostly because I like learning how to do things differently and being held to strict standards that are ultimately safer for everyone. I'm lucky, though, the lady who owns the horses (and would be taking me) would tell me what I needed to know, because we wouldn't be competing against each other under any circumstances. Her horses are also some of the most well-mannered and well-trained horses I've ever ridden, and I've ridden A LOT of different horses.

Juli said...

You know, it's funny. In the distance rides I've done, everyone has gone out of their way to help the newbies.

I remember on my second ride, I was doing a LD endurance ride with my Paso. At the advise of friends, we had a green ribbon in his tail, signifying that he was new to endurance riding. We were on the last loop and about 4 miles from camp when a horse came up behind. We were walking at the time. She stopped and said hello, and we chatted for a minute. Then, she asked if I minded if she went on ahead. She was in first place for the 50 mile ride, and didn't want to lose time.

I remember thinking about how nice that rider was. She could have just blasted past, but she didn't. She was friendly and social, and after noticing that my horse was a greenie, made sure that he wasn't going to be upset when she went on ahead.

Shame on Karen's mom for not making sure you were doing the right things. If I were taking a beginner along on a ride with me, especially a 15 year old kid, I'd make sure they knew the rules and I'd help them along the best I could. If you take on a new rider, I feel it's your responsibility to help them out.

phaedra96 said...

It seems to me Karen could feel the competition breathing on her neck and felt that all was fair in love and war. I agree her mother should have been alot more aware of the situation and helped out. But then she may have thought her daughter would have been aiding her friend through this situation. JUst a thought....

KD said...

At 15 - I would have been MORT-ified to have people embarrass me like that! Back then, I probably wouldn't have said anything either. Not that I knew anything about anything - it's a wonder that my first horse made it through the stuff I didn't know.

Dressager said...

You yanking on Mort's reins in the end totally reminds me of how I used to get mad at my Greta when she'd act spooky or difficult. I usually had my instructor behind me saying "you're only making it worse. Calm words, soft hands." I would think that she didn't know how tired I was of Greta's antics, but always driving home I would think things over and feel horrible about my temper. Greta was only spooky because she was in heat!

Ugh, teenage drama. Sounds like somebody wanted to have something to hold over you so you wouldn't be totally equal.

rockymouse said...

Mugs, you are good and brave to own up to some of this.
It's the kind of thing I would've held inside forever.
You're more evolved than I am!

Anonymous said...

At a guess Mugs, you would have gained respect from "the stern faced judge" by taking your repremand and just getting on with getting your horse home, and for learning and taking on what was taught.

Don't you love your teen years and the girls involved with horses? I learnt never to take anyones word for anything... girls who ride can be incredibly bitchy... to the point of sabotaging their own team riders where I came from!

Tammy Vasa said...

Oh, I had hoped this was going to be a good story for you and Mort. Karen's mom deserves a bigger kick in the arse that Karen - shame on her!

My first CTR experience was not good. I had the tools and knew the game, but had to pinch hit with my husband's horse when mine came up sore from a prior ride. We finished, but it wasn't pretty and I didn't think I would ever do it again. Fast forward about 5 years -- I competed on my mare this spring. Had good support for CTR friends and recruited some of my riding buddies, too. We had a blast & was thrilled to hear my mare placed ... well, 6th, but to me it was as good as 1st! I didn't develop a passion for the sport, but had a wonderful time with friends and my horse. We are going to do one more this season & then get back to our regular scheduled program... just riding the trails.

autumnblaze said...

mugs - Yeah but you were still a KID! Her mom HAD to know you hadn't been to those meetings. Maybe most people don't think like that... I'm pretty altruistic especially when it comes to someone younger/learning/inexperienced with something.

I still also blame Karens mom. Though Karen was just being an evil twit. I'd like to kick her right in the shin.

LuvMyTBs said...

Being the only horse crazed child in my family I went to shows/competitions on my own with my trainer. I learned way more from the sneers and snotty treatment from the others girls at shows (and their equally snotty Moms) then I would have ever dreamed of at such a young age.

It left a life long impression that has served me well over the years. I am (or try to be) polite,gracious and helpful to others who may not know as much or look like they need some help or guidance. My trainer was a wise and tough task master. He would always say "let them talk about you after the class,cream always rises to the top." His other favorite was "You had to shovel alot of shit to get here,don't worry about shit that doesn't matter to you,you came here to ride."

autumnblaze said...

Speaking of distance rides...

Gator and I were trying our first hand at it last weekend. 10 mile training ride. I had been introduced to a nice lady who offered to be my buddy - to teach me and pick us up in her trailer. A Brenderup (the teensy ligth European ones - I didn't know that until she arrived). I could tell he didn't like it but went on quietly it so I thought... he'll be okay, but damn this thing is small. He's an Arab but he's big. 15.2, nice booty, deep chest and good size barrel. It was tight for him but he was calm before we left.

Didn't get 5-10 minutes away. He skinned his ass panicking in that tiny thing once we got moving. :/ He hopped back on his old owners 3 horse slant without hesitation, bless is skinned butt. I knew he'd trailered from TN/VA - Scottsale, Canada etc. No one mentioned though he'd never been on anything smaller than a 2H slant until after.

Anyways... long story short, he's fine (minus some skin on his ass, though I thought it'd be MUCH worse when I was with him on that trailer) . Its the last blog entry I had if interested in details...

but so much for our long distance dreams anytime REAL soon. Gotta find us a truck and trailer... we'll train at home for now. This horse thing is costly... eh?:p

autumnblaze said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
autumnblaze said...

Oh and I meant to say...

this lady was helpful to this newbie! She really wanted/wants to see us do this. She called to check on him but MOSTLY to make sure I wasn't discouraged! THAT is how people are supposed to be with newbies... not sitting back and watching them flounder ESPECAILLY a teenage girl!?!??! Those years are mortifiying enough...

Shanster said...

Wow - great story. I felt like I WAS 15 again... looking forward to more, more, more! :)

Redsmom said...

Great story. I love Mort - what a guy. Since I am still new to showing and all, I can really relate to lerning through embarassment and ignorance. I don't have a very thick skin, but I am learning to act as if I do (and cry my tears into lovely smelling manes in private). What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

Heidi the Hick said...

Ugh- I was that kid struggling along with no money. I didn't start showing until I was 20, and by then I had enough maturity to deal with the frustration and humiliation.

Now, as an instructor, I'm super-sensitive to those feelings. I will die inside if a student bursts into tears during a lesson or is choking down those tears.

I gotta say, I feel a little relieved that you are willing to share you stories, because it's so real and honest. Not all of us got started off in the horse world "the right way." But we find ways to learn, don't we?

mugwump said...

You know, I'm sure Karen's mom was at the ride. She placed in her division, I remember that. But I don't remember her in any other context. As kids we blew off the parental thing completely. And to be honest they didn't pay much attention to us.
The real funny part of all this is I work for Karen and her mother now. They own the paper I'm writing at.I was training for her mother when they hired me. Life is so strange.

amarygma said...

Gotta wonder, devil's advocate, what kind of kid YOU were really like back then, too! This is all from your perspective, so I just have to wonder. You're not a jerk now or anything, but you never know what kind of a kid you were. Part of being a kid is being a jerk and then learning not to be.

Was Karen jealous of you tearing ass around with SuperMort? Did you show off a lot? Goad her into doing things she wasn't comfortable?

Had she ever tried telling you these sorts of things before and you were too independent to listen?

After this event, did you listen? Did you respect her more?

Money alone might have gotten you to the meetings, but surely by 15 SOMEONE had mentioned properly tying up your horse? Placing things safely around him would be just conscientious. Had you scoffed at her going to the meetings?

Was this before or after the whole learning to ride more than the speed events (a while back you talked about the day and night classes and the people who had two horses or weren't allowed to fire up their horses in speed events)? After the whole Melinda Moline thing tearing ass around doing crazy stunts?

Dunno how apt the thought is, but maybe you were a braggart who needed to be humbled? Maybe you had scoffed the whole thing as "easy" and she just got fed up?

mugwump said...

amarygma- don't know what to tell you.
Super Mort? Excuse me?
He was a neurotic runaway with a scarred tongue and torn up face.
The shows I placed in?
Did I not make it clear they were little tiny day shows?
Or how long it took me to place even in those?

No, at fifteen nobody had told me how to make a quick release knot.
I was one of those scabby kids not many people talked to.

My parents let me buy a horse with my own money. They expected me to learn how to care for him and do it.

I kept my horse at a $5 a month pasture with sheds.There was one other boarder, another girl my age who knew as much as I did.

As for the rest, I just asked my boss if I was, lets see, how did you put it, "a braggart who needed to be humbled," when we were kids and she started laughing.

"You were so shy you wouldn't talk to anybody," was her first response.

Her second point was, "Why would you bother defending yourself to a person like that?"

Good point.

HorseOfCourse said...

Well, I am glad I’m not in my mid-teens anymore. Many of the bad things that happened were subtle evils, not easy to address. The sense of helplessness, suppressed anger and feeling of injustice…arrgh.
I agree with the comments about Karen’s mom though. Teenagers might behave badly, but if I as a mom bring another kid along, I would make sure to give her the necessary information and take care of her. In particular if it was a first-timer.

But you know Mugs, even if the outcome of the competition wasn't as you had hoped, you were still one of the lucky ones to have A Horse Of Your Own.
Sigh. I was one of those standing outside the fence drooling.
Fortunately none of my Horsaii friends got a horse of their own either. That would have been a disaster!

mugwump said...

HOC- Oh I knew how lucky I was! It was a miracle I had my horse.
There's nothing a kid can do about their out of wack emotions. I'd love to write about my incredible maturity and the suave, wise ways I handled all the stuff that happened back then, but I was none of those things.

amarygma said...

Relax Mugs. I said I was playing Devil's Advocate, my comments were full of question marks and "maybe"s because I'm not pretending to actually have a clue as to what kind of a kid you were then. It was why I was asking, which I think is fair. You're writing things as you remember them, and things like that are always going to be colored with how you felt at that time.

You've said you loved to tear around on Mort, going fast. You said in this story that you figured you'd be a "shoo in." I haven't been keeping a detailed timeline, but it was with Mort I believe you said you'd do the fast races, the 75 up and back, and YOU said you'd tease Karen because her mom wouldn't let her rile her horse up on the speed events.

Maybe you weren't a braggart, but maybe Karen was jealous of all of your misadventures and the teasing? Maybe you belittled her event more than was just joking? I have no idea.

You said "I had grown into quite a smart-ass in my teen age years, as the nuns at Benet Hill could attest."

You describe diving through snowbanks, galloping across town racing Melinda, diving into the lake. If you were able to describe them back then to her with any of the excitement you can describe them today, I'd imagine she could be a little jealous and challenged.

Maybe she'd want to show you up.

I think I woulda been pretty proud as a kid to win some tiny day shows. Um, I think I'd be pretty proud now.

I've met kids around the barn that tear ass around out of control, velcro-butt their way through some dangerous situations, and are FULL of sass about it. Anyone tells them different then they're a sissy.

It's not like, an impossible thought, especially at that age when so many (myself included) teens are a little snappy about being told to do stuff, you've described yourself as such, and so maybe MAYBE you had put a prodded Karen a little too far this time, and that was my question.

Anonymous said...

I had a "friend" pull this on me at my first eventing horse trial, tho I was an adult and could handle the emotions a little better.

She coaxed me into entering, saying it was simple, and fun, and I'd love it. I took my hunter, who would jump anything and was good on the trails. Figured it would be a fun outing.

We arrived so late at the competition that I nearly missed my dressage test. (My "dressage" those days was ridden like a hunter hack, but oh well, no glaring problems because I didn't know the difference.) The real trouble was the cross-country course. I had no time to walk the course beforehand; my friend said "oh, just follow the hoofprints and you'll be fine." Right. I got lost, of course, and wandered around looking for the next jump (no handy numbers on them like in the jumper ring!) and even asked the nice people sitting in the woods, but they wouldn't answer. Turns out that if the jump judges speak to you, you'd be disqualified--but hey, I didn't know that. Eventually, I just jumped a jump that was handy, and was promptly told by the non-speaking jump judges that I was eliminated for being off course. I headed back to the start in disgrace, but jumped another jump or two just for fun on the way.

I was embarrassed and as soon as I could got hold of a rule book and then was even more mortified to see just how many things I did wrong!

It was actually a valuable lesson for me, in taking responsibility for my own ride. It was also a good thing to learn about that "friend". Never was sure if it was carelessness on her part, or on purpose. Hmmm.

Redsmom said...

Some people are helpful and sharing of their knowledge and some are not. I always try to help, though I'm usually the one people are shaking their head and pitying, I'm sure. I've been known to go outside and cry at clinics, but I keep trying, and learning, as did Mugwump! As long as none of us hangs up our saddle for good, we are still learning.

spottedmonster said...

My daughter and her friend compete against each other on a regular basis and haven't had any issues...but we haven't hit the teenage years yet:)

mugwump said...

spottedmonster- they have to let you see there are issues first. If you asked Karen's Mom about us as kids she will tell you we stuck together like glue (true) we pushed each other to excel (true) she was my "show mom" (true) and we got along all of the time (whoop! whoop! whoop! false).
We never, ever, let an adult in on our issues.
Keep in mind, Karen and I survived it all and are still friends to this day. The good drefinitely out-weighed the bad.
I don't think we were unusual for that time either.

Anonymous said...

You're's moms seem to be much more in the picture. Growing up I never told my mother anything I didn't absolutely have to. She didn't have a clue about how we spent most days, let alone how we got along with our friends.

Anonymous said...

Mocharocks.. Aww comeon surely there is someone you can count on :p.

Was Karen intentionally being mean or did she just get overwhelmed by competitive thoughts?

Mugs, were you still going to do that sidepass post? My head is about to explode concerning lateral movements. Such as what is the actual cueing difference between a TOF and a legyield apart from forward movement? Or am i just over complicating things again ?

gillian said...

15 is tough. 15 with a competitive streak is extra tough. Reading this my sympathies go out to both karen's and mugs' 15 year old selves.

Also, amarygma I'm thinking your post wasn't trying to be a rude as it came off. As a person whose phrased things poorly myself, I think you were mostly curious about the grownup perspective compared to the 15 year old perspective mugs wrote so brilliantly.

Is that fair to say?

Normally I dont get involved in these things, but mugwump chronicles is usually such a happy place I want to test my theory that you are not an exception to that rule.

manymisadventures said...

Man, I know that feeling, where it seems like everyone else is in on some big joke at your expense and nobody's on your side.

It sounds like there were some adults there that were doing their best to guide you in the right direction, though.

I used to struggle a lot, especially with Bailey, with losing my temper. It was all my problem - I'd feel so humiliated and frustrated when we did badly. I don't know if it mostly went away in me from getting older or from just learning to be patient with horses, but not taking it out on your partner seems to be a lesson that most riding kids have to learn.

manymisadventures said...

And hey Anon - don't know how mugs does it, but in the dressage world, here's how I understand it to work.

A leg yield, wherein the horse keeps its body straight with a slight bend (away from the direction of travel) and moves away from your leg, goes like this. Say you're leg yielding from right to left. Your right leg squeezes at the girth while your left remains slightly behind the girth to keep the haunches from swinging out, and your outside (left) rein controls the shoulder.

In a TOF, moving the haunches again around to the left, you move your right leg behind the girth and leave your left leg relaxed.

Essentially, when you want sideways movement or bend, the leg is at the girth. When you want the hindquarters moving over, you use your leg behind the girth.

gillian said...

If you havent already, definitely read this:

amarygma said...

@gillian. Thank you! Exactly.

Instead of just wanting to kick Karen HARD, I want to know why she acted that way.

We only have half the story, and I was curious that since they obviously still talk and are friends if Mugs knew the other half yet, or that pretty much just was all there was to the story. Didn't know if she left out Karen's motivations because it confuses the telling (POV) or compromises the emotions she wanted to write about. Mugs may be a journalist, but this is an autobiographical piece and so she has more freedoms to do artsy things like that.

It may be that Karen never fully explained why she acted that way and by now has forgotten the motivations, so we may never know.

I'm sorry my hypothesization sounded more like accusation. Wasn't supposed to.

Laura Crum said...

amarygma--you know, I corresponded with mugwump about what you said, because I, too, thought you were picking up on accurate nuances in the piece and not picking on mugs. We chatted about it awhile, and I think you are right that Karen was jealous of mugs (in some ways) and sort of paying her back. I don't know if I was right or wrong, but I said I felt you were a fan of mugwump and just pointing out something that was, in fact, implied in the piece. And I don't think you were entirely wrong. Mugwump was I think, a very good horseman, with a lot of "feel", even at fifteen (which most of us weren't) and there was reason for her friend to feel envious. Of course, that doesn't excuse Karen's behavior, but hhey, they're still friends, so I guess it all worked out.

gillian said...

I know I'm kinda jealous of mugs.

I've been riding for over ten years. Most of the time I got a lesson a week from college kids who only vaguely knew what they were talking about, on horses that were donated to the program. (Most of them were not donated for the tax deduction if you catch my drift.) Only now, after being a working student at this barn for two years (three summers now) am I getting comfortable enough to go out and ride around at any kind of speed. I know she worked her teenaged butt off for it, and its all working out pretty well for me now, but the stories of tearing around all over the place bareback still make me wonder wistfully what might have been if I had been able to ride more often as a kid.

Of course, I also still struggle to not hate those gorgeous little tiny blonde girls with similarly gorgeous ponies and such wonderful balance. They get to jump and everything even though they still post with their hands; while I at that age wasn't allowed to even canter because they thought I would fly out of the saddle. So maybe I'm just a little jealously prone already.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Gillian and Manymisadventures. Gillian, i'd like to try dressage some day, but the thought of wearing jodhpurs.. Ah maybe someday.

I wondering because mugs describes her cue for TOF as
"I shift weight to my inside (left ) seat bone.Press my inside calf into Pancho's belly, at about the back cinch.
Bend his nose slightly to the inside. (left)"
and then her leg yield (from Gotta Get That Lead Change) as
"I'll contain her front end with my hands, and push her outside leg towards her inside front with my outside seat bone, and my outside leg, just in front of my back cinch."
So i was wondering if the leg positions are slightly different or if it is the forward motion that seperates the cues for the horse (in the cow-horse world).

Then later Mugs says "I will lope many, many large circles. I will push Fluffy's hip to the inside of my circle often" So that leads to another question of mine, what then stops the horse from legyielding rather than moveing its hips to the inside, do you block the shoulders with your inside leg?

Sorry about the long post and derailing the topic or it comes out wrong, I should have waited till the next training post sorry. I'm probably just over complicating things and need to just go out there and get it done.

gtyyup said...

That was just sooooo wrong...but I always know that what goes around comes around...lil' miss Karen (I'm embarrassed that I share her name) will, or maybe already has, have her day...I probably won't be pleasant for her.

I do love your Mort stories though!

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