Tuesday, October 4, 2011

America Votes! Four Socks Riley


October 11-13, America votes... for Four Socks Riley to be crowned America's Favorite Trail Horse!!!

Now, why, you ask, am I blogging about voting for a trail horse?!? Because this trail horse (and his mom, Bridget!) is a special friend of mine, and he's even got an eventing history when he made a quick BN appearance at Waredaca in 2009. But, eventing wasn't Riley's calling - HOLLYWOOD was calling his name! And this year, Riley had his big break. He and Bridget travelled all the way from Maryland to Texas to spend a week in front of the bright lights and big cameras! And, now, America, Four Socks Riley is coming to the tv in your living room (on the internet too!). Lets face it, that's pretty cool, period. But it gets cooler - after his episode airs next Tuesday (October 11), it will be up to you America... VOTE FOR RILEY TO BE AMERICA'S FAVORITE TRAIL HORSE!!!

Riley during his eventing days

Voting will be open Oct 11-13 - vote here! (be sure to unclick the boxes next to the sponsor's names or you will receive a whole lot more emails every day!!)

Dear XC Course Designers... Katchi has one word for you: NO. Actually, two words: F*@# NO.

Go Bridget! Rockin' the English saddle and helmet among all those cowboys!

Want to hear more about the awesome story of Riley and Bridget? Read on (in the words of Riley's mom)...

By all rights and horse sense, Four Socks Riley (Riley) and I should never have found each other let alone become #264 on America’s Favorite Trail Horse.

As a yearling, I’m not sure that Four Socks Riley had aspirations for anything more than enjoying a good pasture under the Florida sun. But life had different plans for him - Riley was shipped from Florida to Maryland to pony race horses. However, at 2 ½ years old and with no training, Riley was in no position to pony temperamental thoroughbreds and his young owner couldn’t pay for his board. Cutting her losses, Riley’s owner abandoned him and he found himself enjoying a good pasture under the Maryland sun.

I grew up with a passion for horses that as a child was heightened by reading every Marguerite Henry book and morphing speeding cars on the highway into sleek thoroughbreds racing on the track, but only managed one summer on the back of a horse at age 12. Come to think of it, I even selected my college because it was in Kentucky and I associated that with horses. As an adult, I lived my passion vicariously through my children as they took riding lessons on old school horses. Finally, at the age of 45, following a 23 year career in the Army, I was ready to live my dream.

Riley was spending his days grazing and enjoying life but his new barn was unwilling to support the squatter. With an account in arrears and a horse with no experience, the barn owner sent Riley for training and prepared to sell him. It was shortly after Riley’s 30 days of training that I stepped in and solved the dilemma for the barn owner. I bought Riley, broke the golden horse rule that inexperienced riders should not own untrained horses, and discovered the true meaning of “Green + Green = Black and Blue bruises.”

Before Riley came to live on our recently purchased 4 acres, he received an additional 30 days of training which included weekly lessons for myself. Any horseman will tell you that 60 days for green on green is not enough but my optimism told me it was a good start. Wrong… Riley kicked out as he was being lead or any other time he felt the urge, he needed two people to tack him, and we were both still learning the basics of riding. I needed to do something before Riley hurt me or my children. So I turned to Parelli’s natural horsemanship and many patient, remarkable trainers who have guided my journey with Riley and taught me to ride.

Every day I’m amazed at the progress Riley and I have made. We have become partners. He is such an incredible horse and would have done great things under a more experienced rider. However, Riley patiently waits for me to learn my job. Over the past 7 years, Riley and I have gone from working on ground manners, to riding Western, to trail riding, to riding English, to jumping upwards of 3 feet. We recently began competing when I joined ACTHA two years ago; the only competitions we have ever done. We are far from perfect and that drives us to improve on the basics like his bending and my posture yet does not deter us from trying new things like dressage or cow penning.

Four Socks Riley has allowed me to live my dream, a dream that I believe is shared with many middle-aged men and women who have loved horses since they were children but weren’t able to pursue their passion. I am not a professional horse trainer. Despite that, with determination, time, and the guidance of experienced trainers, Four Socks Riley is proof that green is to be respected but not feared. Living our dreams is possible – to enjoy the company of a good horse.

GOOD LUCK to Riley and Bridget as the voting starts! Please remember to take a minute between October 11-13 to cast your vote for this super pair!!

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