The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

Vacation Days 5 & 6 – Horses!

I feel like it’s kind of a given that we would ride horse on this trip given our love for the animal but actually, we rode three times!

Tuesday morning (Day 5) we had a long drive (7.5 hours) ahead of us to Cody, WY so I booked an hour trail ride that morning so that we had a fun activity before getting in the car. We rode at the ranch that we stayed at, so it was easy enough getting there for our 8:30 ride. I’ll be honest, this was the least favorite of our rides. There was a pretty trail back through the woods of the property and it was fine, but given the scenery of our next two rides? Eh. Plus the owner and her grand daughter came along, so the guide talked pretty much only to them. Still, it was the perfect way to start off our day.

We had packed up the night before, so after our ride we threw everything into the truck and headed out. For me, the first hour of any drive was the hardest, after that it got easier, and once we got to under four hours it breezed by. The hardest part was finding decent places to stop. I naively assumed the drive would be freeway? But no, it was mostly two lane roads, so minimal rest stops and minimal restaurants. Luckily we packed a lunch and only stopped maybe 3 times total? We also had no cell service for probably half the time? But my GPS continued to work, although I don’t think it could have rerouted us had we gone off course.

The girls were awesome on these long drives. For this drive they only got about two hours of ipad time? The rest was spent reading, coloring, doing their BrainQuest worksheets, or listening to music on their wireless headphones. Those things were golden! I think Caden listened to music and looked out the window for 2-3 hours.

The drive wasn’t bad, but it was pretty quiet. Lots of wide open spaces, not a ton of cars.  I am maybe not a wide open space girl?  It gave me a little anxiety knowing we were the only ones out there. We did wind through a mountain for a bit, which was really cool. When we talked to my parents they said they remembered doing the same thing when they took us on this trip as kids!

We stayed at the Shoshone Guest Lodge in Cody, WY. (That’s deceiving, since it’s 45 minutes from Cody, but it’s only 3 miles from the east entrance to Yellowstone which was awesome.) My aunt and uncle had recommended the place, since they had horses and a really good restaurant. This room was our smallest on the trip, but the shower had good water pressure (our place in SD didn’t) and the fridge worked really well which I appreciated. They also had a campfire every night which we visited and made s’mores at, and we had cute little rocking chairs on our front porch. There was zero cell service here, and I had to pay $10 to get 24 hours of satellite wifi. I took some heat from the locals for missing my cell service, but I hated being out of touch with the dog sitter so I paid up.

We had lots of riding options here. I booked a four hour trail ride which was perfect. We headed out at 10:30, and they packed a lunch for us.

This is my horse Buster.  Buster was awesome!

Caden riding Miss Blue, me on Buster, and Delaney riding Titan!  They put mesh bags on their horses so they don’t try to eat grass the entire ride.  And apparently I wore the same outfit both days?  Why not?  This was about 45 minutes into the ride, and it was already heating up.  I had the saddle bags and all of the water, so everyone got a drink, and then later we passed bottles around again while riding. The heat was no joke and I did not need anyone passing out.

Take a moment and appreciate this picture.  When we left the corral Delaney was in front of me, but we crossed the road and were walking through a gravel parking lot to get to the trail so I came up beside her thinking we’d ride that way.  But no, we were forced back into single file and I ended up in FRONT of her.  The horror!  She was mad for a solid hour plus until we could switch spots again.  She could not believe I did that!

I’m really hoping I don’t screw any of this up, but I believe that’s the Shoshone River.  It winds along and we passed it quite a few times, both on the ride, and to and from Yellowstone by the east entrance.  It was so hot and that river looked so good, that that night on our way back from Yellowstone we pulled over and jumped out so we could put our feet in it.  So refreshing!

You can see our guide River at the front of the line, and you can also see the gun he brought along.  This is bear country and he saw a bear on a trail ride just a few weeks before we were there.  They take bears very seriously which I appreciated.

Our ride went along the river and then up into the mountains.  It was gorgeous!  And a steep hike for those horses!

After about two hours of riding we crossed back over the highway again and then went up the side of another mountain.  This was less of a straight up climb, and more of a small pathway next to a steep drop off kind of ride.  Mama did not love that part.  I’ve learned I don’t mind heights, but I don’t like sheer drop offs (but I didn’t mind the Grand Canyon?).  I was very happy to get up to the camp spot to eat lunch!

We got back to the ranch about 3:00.  It was perfect timing because we all needed a rest and some clean clothes, so the girls read their books while I did a load of laundry.  Then we headed out for an early dinner and a quick run into Yellowstone.  Pictures on that tomorrow!

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Morning barn time

First off, summer is absolutely killing us. We have to get up about 30 minutes earlier than normal, but we of course don’t get to bed any earlier. YMCA wears the girls out, and work has been busy for me too. I keep the girls home with me on Thursdays and it’s supposed to be a day they can sleep in and relax, but we have riding lessons Thursday mornings this summer so they have to get up even EARLIER. Both girls were in tears before bed last night, so I’m hoping a quiet weekend will right the ship.

Morning lessons are the best. The barn is quiet, we’re the first lesson of the day, and it’s so peaceful. Last summer our morning lesson had six girls in it, this year there are only three girls! The girls were able to do four different courses during their lesson! It was really nice for them to be able to work on a bunch of different things.

Caden rode Frodo for the first time. Delaney has ridden him quite a bit, but this was Caden’s first time. He’s an amazing horse, and it was interesting to watch them work out their teamwork throughout the lesson.

Delaney was on Velvet. We all LOVE this little horse but she is a handful. She loves to go faster and faster. I’ve seen her dump two kids (Caden being one of them) because if you aren’t ready for her to take off, it can be hard to stay on. I talked to Delaney before the lesson to make sure she controlled the pace and didn’t let Velvet get out of control. She did SO well! You’ll be able to see in the video, but Velvet loves to canter out of jumps but Delaney was able to keep her under control.

First, the light coming through the windows and doors totally messes up my videos! But, here’s Caden on Frodo. They canter in a circle (they’re supposed to start at a certain point, then drop to a trot to do the jump. She didn’t quite get into her corner, but she did awesome! (If you click on the little thing in the lower right corner it will make the video larger.)

Here’s Delaney on Velvet. Watch as they canter out of the jump, Delaney sits back heavy to slow Velvet down. Well done Lane!

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At the barn

There was a week off from riding lessons between the school year lesson schedule and the summer lesson schedule. My wallet didn’t mind the break, but the rest of us did. We love being at the barn and being around the horses. It’s a bit crazy to me that this has only been a thing for us for the last two years! How did we ever do lessons just once a month?

I don’t have to help the girls get their horses ready anymore, but I still like to be there when they do that so I can love on their horse. All of these horses have such different personalities. We all have our favorites, but I give them all love. After lessons I give treats to all of the horses. I used to just give treats to the horses that the girls rode, but then I started giving them to all of my favorites and at this point, pretty much everyone gets treats.

Except, there is one horse that I avoided because I was told by one of the girls that she was a biter. During their lesson this week I was standing at the gate watching, and this horse (Landra) was waiting there for her turn. Landra immediately started bumping me with her nose until I scratched her. Poor girl wanted her chance at some love too! She got lots of treats after! I’m not sure if she used to bite or what, but she was total sweetheart on Monday.

So while I was at the gate, every horse that was waiting by us turned to me for pets. One of them full on burrowed his head into my shoulder. Ha! They all know I hand out the treats! I love that they love me. Like LOVE that they love me.

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Ponies

We’ve switched to Monday afternoon riding lessons for the rest of May since softball conflicted on Thursday evenings. It totally throws my week off, since we were in such a routine! The other girls in this lesson are either leasing a horse for the summer, or they own their horse, so they are working on more advanced jumps. It’s been great for the girls to watch and learn from them!

This is Caden riding Daily. She’s ridden her before and feels confident on her. There’s been a lot of cantering jumps the last two lessons which has been great for her confidence. With this she was working on keeping her hands wide, her back straight, and getting her circle wide enough that she comes at the jump straight. She did awesome!

Laney is riding Snowflake. She was not thrilled to get Snowflake this week but here’s the thing, she learns a lot when she rides him. He’s small but mighty, but he’s a great horse if he trusts you. He has a tendency to drop his head which can throw riders off, but Delaney was good about going with it and not getting flustered. This was early in the lesson and she had some trouble keeping him cantering, but they got better and better as a team as the lesson went on. I cut the video off, but she made him back alllll the way up and do the jump again!

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It’s May!

Before we get to the daily pictures I had to post this pic of Laney and Frodo from last night. She’s been riding him for just over a month now and even though she fell off him once, I love this dude and he clearly loves her. They’ve been a great team, and he’s taught her so much!

Tuesday. The very best part of this photo is that as I was taking it the bus was pulling up to the bus stop and I had absolutely no idea how late we were. I thought we were cutting it close, but we still walked to the bus stop, it wasn’t like I thought we were so late I had to drive. And as we leisurely rounded the corner the bus stop moms shouted to us that the bus was long gone. Womp womp! It’s May, I give up!

Wednesday. Caden is having a ton of fun digging through the summer stuff to make new outfits. Delaney sticks to her tried and true, although I’ve had to remind her that it’s going to warm up so maybe short sleeves instead?

Thursday. Love the hip pop Delaney! And Caden’s jacket? So adorable.

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Frodo!

Every month the girls get new horses. As soon as we got to the barn they ran ahead to see who they were riding. Delaney was riding Frodo! So. The more advanced girls ride Frodo, I didn’t think either of my two would be riding him for another year or so? I still give him treats every week don’t get me wrong, but that’s just because he’s gorgeous. I was way nervous and immediately texted another horse mom whose daughter rides him all the time. She assured me Delaney would do fine and he was a good boy. I loved him up while Delaney brushed him, and since he gave me kisses I figured he’d take care of Laney.

They were a great team! He definitely tested her, but she kept her legs tight, sat up in the saddle, and took control. Watching them canter was a beautiful sight to behold. I’m so proud of her. Their trainer said this was a trial run, and if it didn’t go well she’d get a different horse next week. I think I’ll be giving Frodo lots of treats this month! (At the end of the video you can hear my dad say “He’s pretty” and me start to say “I looooove Frodo”.

Big smiles after the lesson!

Velvet continues to be crazy adorable. Everyone wants to pet her and ride her. She’s just so darn cute and little! There were cavaletti poles on the ground that they had to do. Most horses just walk through them, but this was the first time Velvet had seen them. She picked her feet up so high we were dying laughing. Caden had a smile on her face the whole lesson. I don’t think she even minded that Velvet doesn’t canter quite yet.

I think April is going to be a good month for us!

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Big month for progress

The girls rode Ziggy and Daily for two months and it’s been a great two months! They were both really comfortable on their horses, which meant that they could focus on other things and really make great progress with their riding skills.

What does that really mean? For the last two months it’s meant more consistent cantering during lessons. They used to canter some lessons, or maybe just at the end of the lesson, but the last few months they’ve been cantering every lesson, and doing more and more jumps at a canter. In order to do that, you really need to have control of your horse. It’s very easy for the horse to do one thing and the rider to do another when you’re cantering. Two weeks ago they had a loop going where they would canter along the rail and then do two jumps down the middle of the ring, then canter around and do the jumps again. This really created momentum! Maybe a little too much at times, but the girls remained in control and it was fun to watch.

Daily. I’m not sure if you like me, but I love your fluffy coat, and how it looks like your coat is black but there’s really a lot of brown in it. Thank you for being so short and easy to bridle.

Ziggy. My man. I love you and you love me. I love your personality, and I love how you prance when you trot around the ring. And I love how much you love treats. Don’t worry, even when the girls stop riding you I’ll still bring you treats.

Next month, they’ll ride RenoBob and Patrick! Patrick is my very favorite horse so I’m super excited to get to hang out with him again!

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Family lesson

For Christmas the girls asked for a riding lesson with me. We did two of those last year and they were so fun. My dad asked for a riding lesson with the girls. He’s been able to come to quite a few lessons, and when he can’t I try to send him video and pictures. I figured, why not combine them and do a family lesson!

Yesterday we bundled up and headed out to the barns for our lesson. The girls were beyond excited. It was all they could talk about! They wondered which horses we would ride, and if Grampy would be able to trot or do jumps. I wondered if Grampy would fall off! That would not be good. My dad has a lot of horse experience, but it’s all in western saddles. English saddles are a lot different! They’re much smaller with no horn to hang on to.

We got out there super early which gave us plenty of time to get our horses saddled. The girls got to choose their horses. They both chose their regular lesson horses Ziggy and Daily. She chose Rocky for me, and Mike for my dad. Mike is an old horse, but he also used to be a Grand Champion and when he gets excited about jumps, he gets really excited. But! My dad handled him really well.

Riding with the girls always gives me a greater appreciation of their skills. While I could trot around the ring like a champ (even on the right posting diagonal!) once I had to go over the jumps I fell apart. It’s really hard to keep your legs tight and squeeze with your ankles, chin up, and heels down! And yet, when I watched the girls their ankles were glued to their horses bellies. They make it look so easy. After warming up a bit we came to the middle and I looked at Delaney and she just had this huge grin plastered on her face. Made it all worth it. This is why we ride! Our time at the barns is always the highlight of our week. Both girls got to canter a few laps, then canter jumps. The trainer made the second jump higher with each time they passed through but it didn’t faze them. Such a proud mama!

My dad and Mike were a great team. He even kept him in a trot through the jumps better than I did with Rocky, much as I hate to admit that. I was worried it would be hard on his hips, but that wasn’t an issue. My mom said he didn’t stop talking about it once he got home.

It was a super fun afternoon. Our trainer even said she had fun! And it was kind of cool because Wednesdays are private lesson day at the barn, and the one after us had canceled so we had the barn to ourselves and didn’t have to hurry. Maybe this will become a yearly tradition?

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Another month

The girls had their riding lesson last night and it was another really great lesson. This is Daily. I forget, have we shown her before? She’s so pretty. She looks all black but she has some brown on her nose and her chest and I love it. She got a little spunky at the beginning of the lesson, but Caden pulled her into line and everything was fine after that.

Mr. Ziggy. This guy. He’s so playful. He knows I bring treats and so he’s always trying to eat my hair, my coat, my hand. Doesn’t bite, just nibbles. Love him!

Two big milestones tonight. The girls got to bridle their own horses! Normally either one of the trainers or one of the older girls will check the girths and do the bridles. The girls are short, but some horses are also tricksy with bridles so they haven’t been allowed to do it before tonight! They were thrilled. Also, they got to do a bigger jump! I was inside the lounge watching since it was so cold so from there it wasn’t apparent, but as soon as they came out of the ring it was all Delaney could talk about. She was pretty excited.

Their trainer said these horse/rider pairings are going so well she’s going to keep them for another month. Things are clicking for everyone in their lesson group right now and it’s so fun to watch!

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December horses

New month, new horses! Caden was supposed to ride Daily, who is a black pony with spunk. (Is there a pony who isn’t spunky? I’m beginning to think no.) But, their trainer switched her to Lacey. We’ve all ridden Lacey and love her. She’s a bigger horse, very sweet, and has a great canter.

Delaney is riding Ziggy. Ziggy used to be the horse Caden rode all the time, I think this is the first time Delaney has ridden him? She loved him clearly, by the grin on her face.

Some months based on the horse/rider combo, they keep things relatively tight and there isn’t a lot of cantering. Last night they did a super fun jump combo that was perfect for some cantering between jumps if they wanted to, but if they didn’t, they got to canter a few laps after. I love to watch the girls canter. It’s such a display of their confidence and skill!

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