I’ve been meaning to write you for months now with an update on life with Baileysontherocks, but somehow I kept forgetting and kept forgetting, and now I realize it’s been a full year since we met at the hunter pace in Kingston! Where did the year go?!? It was great meeting you and the Bits & Bytes family and I hope we’ll see you again in 2009.
It’s been a fun past year with Bailey. Last February he went to our first “away” show and although he was very nervous, tried his best to be a good boy and figure everything out. Actually, aside from trotting more up-and-down than forward in his dressage test, he did really well, and even got his first ribbon in the 2’6” jumping class. The hunter pace was the week after and as you know, we had a BLAST – after a few nervous moments he settled right into it and we had an amazing day galloping over hill and dale, jumping stone walls and even a few of the coops! I was riding with a couple of students of mine on their Thoroughbreds, and we all decided to enter Bluebird since it was our first time and we weren’t sure how the horses would do… well, we ended up riding at a very joyful Cast & Run speed anyway. It was so wonderful to be able to get out into the wide open spaces and let Bailey open up. He was far and away saner than then half-Arab I used to hunt with!
Over the spring we had some fun cross-country schooling, and Bailey was again a patient participant in summer camps. The kids all love telling their moms and dads that they practiced leading a real ex-racehorse…! In August, Bailey and I went to another schooling horse trial, but this one didn’t go so well. I was going through some tough life stuff and hadn’t ridden much in the weeks leading up to it, and I think he picked up on the fact that I was not as focused and calm as usual. So, he decided halfway down the centerline that the dressage judge under her umbrella was a horse eating monster! Well, it was a good learning experience, and we did have a nice stadium round; Bailey also jumped his first bank and ditch without a moment’s hesitation. When he’s focused and not worrying about being alone in front of strange people, he really relishes the cross-country. I can’t wait to get him out on some different courses this year and start introducing him to some more BN/N level challenges.
Another nice high point came in September at our barn schooling show, where Bailey won his first two blue ribbons in the 2’6” and 2’9” show jumping! He was quite the ham that day, throwing in enormous flying lead changes and looking back over his shoulder as if to say, “Did you catch that? Aren’t I something?” We had some FUN over the course that day. Unfortunately, a minor injury kept him from going to his final show of the year in October, but he did get to go to the mock foxhunt at a friend’s farm in December. I was field master of the first flight, and Bailey thought it was awesome fun getting to stay out in front of everyone except the hounds. We forded streams, conquered his fear of the huge spitting llamas, navigated some intense switchback trails up and down the mountains, and had an extremely fast gallop through the hay field. What was really exciting was not that we ran that fast, or still managed to jump the fallen tree along the way… it was that he stopped when I asked him at the end of the field!
It’s been a kind of slow winter, with a lot of days too muddy or too frozen to get any good riding in, but we’re still ticking along and looking forward to spring. Bailey is very gung-ho about my recent interest in clicker training and has learned to stand on a pedestal, play soccer and Chase the Tiger. In the saddle we’ve been taking some dressage lessons and starting to work on some First Level stuff, which Bailey is less keen on, but he is grudgingly admitting that lateral work is possible after all.
Our plans for the year are somewhat small right now since our budget – like everyone else’s! – has tightened considerably in recent days… but we’re definitely going to hit the May poker ride and October hunter pace in Kingston, and the April schooling show at Poplar Place. I’m hoping to get at least one if not two more shows in over the summer and fall, plus we’ve got some trail rides and cross-country schooling with a friend to look forward to. Perhaps we will achieve our goal of a respectable Beginner Novice this year, and perhaps not, but either way I’m still very much in love with Bailey and enjoying the journey! He continues to be just the right kind of challenge for me and a very endearing horse.
Oh, and just ask any of the mares at our barn how special he is. Bailey apparently still believes he is seventeen hands tall and a black belt warrior, but more to the point, all the other geldings believe it, too. 😉
I have a TON of photographs from this year that I’ll try to get up on my photobucket album soon; in the meantime, I’m attaching a few of my favorites. I’ll let you know when I get the other photos uploaded.
Best wishes to everyone at Bits & Bytes,
~ Nikki Surrusco
See earlier Baileysontherocks Success Stories on the Bits & Bytes Farm Web site.