hitching post farm

Did you know…Hitching Post Farm used to have a ski area?

True story! If you’ve evented in Area 1, you know Hitching Post Farm in South Royalton, VT. It’s a staple of the schooling & recognized show calendars. Truly wonderful venue. (Our visits there are tagged in the archives.)

I was browsing the New England Lost Ski Area Project website this morning, and what do I see but an entry for Hitching Post Farm!

Here’s what they say about it:

The Hitching Post Farm in Royalton, Vermont was a small rope tow area that operated sometime before 1968 to 1975, according to the Vermont Tramway Commission and John Steinert. The rope tow was 750′ long. There was one wide open slope with tree islands, and a few other trails along the periphery of the area. According to topo maps, the vertical was about 200′.¬†

According to John Steinart, the area had ski camps for kids in the late 1960’s.
While the area officially closed in 1975, there is a chance the rope tow may still run privately for the owners. Betsy McDonough had emailed the owners a few years ago and found out the tow did occasionally still run.

Here’s an image of the ski slope in winter, from the NELSAP website:

blog hop · dressage · hitching post farm

(In)formal Blog Hop: Transformations

Inquiring minds want to know when a blog hop moves from informal to formal? Is there a tipping point number? Regardless, Niamh at Life of Riley proposed we show transformation photos.

Alas, we are not much further along than we were a few years ago, nor do I have all that many photographs showing when we did make progress. I do have something that promises to be hilarious, though.

Behold, the first dressage test I ever did with Tristan. August 2006. He had been under saddle for about 4 months.

Here is a BN dressage test we did at Hitching Post Farm in May 2012.

So not huge improvements in self-carriage, etc., but hooray for staying in the ring!
2012 show season · beginner novice a · dressage tests · hitching post farm · video

Hitching Post Recap: Dressage

…and then life intervened, whew. I haven’t even turned on my home computer since Monday, much less been able to work from it.

Back on track. Tristan woke up on Saturday morning disinclined to participate in the day’s activities. He paced his stall, followed me around while I cleaned it around him, had hoovered up his grain but was fussing too much to really eat more hay after that. I cleaned his stall as best I could – he’d tracked hay a fair bit, next time I’ll know and bring a hay net – and put him on the trailer. We got to the grounds about 6:50. My goal was to get on by 7:30.

Thank goodness I had some help getting him ready, because he would. not. stand. still. He’s typically a little fidgety in new places to be tacked up, but this went beyond the pale. He was flinging everyone who hung onto him every which way he could. Eventually we got tack on him, but it took three times as long to do a running braid in his mane – and unfortunately it looked terrible – because I couldn’t get a grip with his flinging about.

He was a hot ticket in his warmup too, and I fell into my typically nasty trick not wanting to put leg on because he was so reactive. Please understand that Tristan’s reactive is an order of magnitude smaller than most horses; I prefer him that way. He is spooky and light so rarely that it unnerves me when he is. I can out-stubborn my horse all day long, but as soon as he gets reactive, I feel like I’m riding a horse of spun glass and hesitate to apply firm aids.

Luckily, T. talked us through it, and pointed out that when I actually put my leg on, firmed my reins, and rode him, he was going nicely. If I’d had another 15 minutes I might’ve really settled us in, but the warmup was not terribly productive. We moved down to the secondary warmup and did some trotting. I opted out of cantering down there to avoid problems with the little kids on ponies without steering.

I felt good about him once he was in the ring, though, and overall, was happy with my test. He was responsive and mostly willing. The first left canter circle was terrible; sort of a 15 meter egg shape instead of a proper circle. After the free walk, though, I felt great about everything. I knew we’d nailed the free walk, which is one of Tristan’s favorite things, and I felt great about the right trot circle and then, bless him, he gave me an right lead bang on cue. My halt wavered a bit but I waited until he’d settled and gave a full, proper, measured salute.

(Pet peeve: riders who slide into a halt and nod and fling their hand out to the side in .25 seconds while their horse is still jigging. I halt, confirm he’s settled, put down my hand, half count, put down my head, half count, and then bring both back slowly. Then I look at the judge, then I drop the reins.)

The judge said it was a really nice test, and T. said afterwards it was really quite pleasant. He has said in days since that Tris wasn’t carrying any tension at all in his hind legs, and really produced a nice, rhythmical test, which was great news. Though I didn’t know it at the time, we scored a 32, with an 8 for the free walk and, astoundingly, an 8 for gaits. Thanks to my hare-brained wavering during the halt, we got a 5 for that – apparently I managed to completely miss X.

One of the barn moms was kind enough to email me a few days later and say that she’d videod the second half of Tristan’s test, so here it is for posterity. It starts with that lovely free walk.

2012 show season · hitching post farm · not-so-quiet-freakout

Hitching Post Recap: Friday Journey

Historically, I am a white-knuckle hauler. I have an overactive imagination, a slightly cranky pony, and an older rig. Add those things up and usually the most stressful part of going anywhere for me is the ride there.

I spent last week getting ready for the trip. Water was done by Tuesday; I wrote and re-wrote a shopping list for the tack store to replenish supplies; I wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote an overall packing list and a tight schedule for Friday morning.

Mostly, all went well. I was out late Thursday night finishing packing and cleaning tack, but it all got done, and I was in bed by 12:30.

Alarm went off at 6:00 a.m. on Friday and I was on the road a little before 7:00, where I hit tons of traffic, which put me about 30 minutes behind my carefully mapped schedule, which was where I stayed for the rest of the morning, alas. Friday’s activities included a short trail ride, a bath for Tris, then a run out to pick up shavings, a new pitchfork, and on impulse buy, a broom just for the trailer. Total: $50 (!?!?). Then a swing by the grocery store for some food and ice for the cooler, then back to the barn, where I probably could have gotten on the road by 10:45, only 15 minutes behind schedule, but the rest of the barn’s trailers were waiting to all go together, so I figured I’d join the caravan.

Granted, I left the caravan behind almost immediately; as it turned out, they all took a totally different highway route. I was relying on my old standby college route, 95 to 93 to 89, which went just fine. Getting off the highway to the farm was a bit strenuous, as at one point I missed a turn, pissed off the GPS, and had to cross a river on a single-track industrial bridge that looked like its underpinnings had all been washed out by Hurricane Irene and then replaced with potholes and occasionally some gravel. So that was less than fun.

We still arrived at Hitching Post a good 15 minutes before everyone else, though, and I set out riding things while waiting for everyone else. When they arrived, we all tacked up and rode together in the ring to loosen the horses up and get them used to the environment. It was also a little mini warmup ring experience, complete with choking dust clouds. Tris actually felt great, so we only worked for about 25 minutes or so to keep his brain in his head and keep him loose, then hacked out for a bit, down to the stadium ring and put his nose on a jump or two that were not part of our course but served to familiarize him again with the idea of XC jumps.

I put him back on the trailer and we walked the XC course. I took photos, which helped my nerves later when I had a bit of trouble falling asleep – I reviewed the course on my camera a few times and talked myself through a course walk. I’ll post them when I recap XC. It was a cute little course, not a gimme, with some nice questions and a water crossing. I started mentally preparing myself for a refusal at the water crossing, but also walked my line a few times and focused hard on thinking about keeping him straight and moving.

We also walked the stadium course, which was a little odd, a little tricky, with lots of different combinations to it. Then we headed over to the farm where we’d stable overnight, which was an utterly charming little farm with a 165 year old barn and gorgeous pastures. Tris settled in immediately, and I threw him hay and filled his water; he ate and drank normally and loved his end stall – he could hang his head over the door and look outside or watch what the goings-on in the aisle. I groomed him for a while and squared away my truck while everyone else groomed and braided.

We all went out to dinner together, which was really nice, and then when we came back we topped everyone’s water and I threw Tris some more hay to keep him content overnight. He drank quite a bit of water at the farm, which was fantastic; he’s usually not a good drinker while away from home. I also picked out his stall to make it easier for myself the next morning.

It was really nice being so close to him overnight; I could wander back over in my pajamas and give him a kiss goodnight, then tuck myself into the backseat of the truck and review my course for the next day. I was out cold by 10:30, which was really  nice.