Twenty Fifteen

The other night, Karin held a “Vision Casting” for Legacy Stables. This involved a gathering of her staff, volunteers, students, parents of students, board members – anybody with an interest in Karin’s Horse Connection. So I went.

The gathering served as an assessment of where the operation is, where we want it to go and what we were going to do this year to get it there. A collective New Year’s Resolutions list for the place. The evening was both fun and productive and now we’re all excited about 2015.

It got me thinking about my own equestrian goals for the coming year. I mean beyond my primary goal of Just Showing Up and Seeing What Happens.

It’s not that I haven’t set goals in the past. It’s just that I’ve been less than diligent in actually doing anything about them. Setting goals is fun. Actually doing the work to achieve the goal is another matter.

One strategy is to define your goals in such a way that you can say you’ve met them without really doing much of anything. The key here is vagueness. Relative terms such as “better” or “more” (“I will ride more this year,” “I will pay better attention to my instructor”) are very useful if you like your goals with a lot of wiggle room.

This year, I think I’ll try to be a little more specific. A list of Micro Goals that I can put an actual checkmark next to as I accomplish each one. Little bits that may or may not help support the larger Just Showing Up thing.

So here is my list:

  1. From what I understand, there might be some Dressage going on at Legacy this year. My goal is to do at least one pattern all the way through. Bonus goal: resist the impulse to move the letters around the arena just to spell a word.
  2. Attend one local open horse show and write a blog post about it.
  3. Conduct an investigation into what’s going on with my riding breeches! Specifically, why do I start to pass out right after I put them on? They didn’t do that when I first got them. There is something wrong with them.

    They didn't bother me before.

    They didn’t bother me before.

  4. Learn how to properly apply a surcingle
  5. Read one book about equestrian vaulting.
  6. Develop my own free-style vaulting routine – at the walk.
  7. Visit Chicago Vaulting in the summer and do a blog post on their new lungeing training program. Bonus goal: determine once & for all the correct spelling of lungeing.
  8. Learn how to neck rein.
  9. Walk over a cavaletti.
  10. Sponsor one horse or student at Legacy Stables.
  11. Only talk about stretching during a riding lesson if I’ve actually stretched before the riding lesson. Bonus goal: eliminate the word “should’ve” from my vocabulary.
  12. Learn to recite the names of all of Legacy’s horses to the tune of Amazing Grace.
  13. Polish my riding boots.
  14. Complete the Fundamentals of Photography course that I bought two years ago.
  15. Set up at least one riding lesson for granddaughter Aubrey. We have already discussed this.IMG_0256

I think that should keep me busy for a year.

Master Vaulters

Yesterday, Karin informed me that we were going to start the Adult Vaulting Class. This week. Thursday night. Be there.

It seemed so sudden. Even rash.

Karin defended her decision: “We’ve been pregnant with the idea for some time…”

A flood of double entendres came to mind. All logically applicable, but none socially appropriate, so I held my tongue.

“And now it’s being born,” she completed the analogy.

Just what is the gestation period for crazy ideas?

At first, she called it “Master Vaulting Class.” I asked her not to do that. I don’t care for the expectations that accompany that label. So as a default, she settled for the mundane, but accurate “Adult Vaulting Class.” For now. Karin will not leave that alone.

I’m actually looking forward to this. Because I think it’s something I can do. If we’re willing to accept an exceedingly liberal definition of the phrase “can do.”

I’m guessing that when the average horseperson thinks of equestrian vaulting, they naturally picture the high level stuff: gymnastic sort of riders in unitards doing triples and flipping around up there like circus performers. The visually stunning, WOW stuff. And for those dedicated enough to follow the program, Karin does offer that.

But she also offers vaulting to anyone who wants to make an honest effort. In addition to her competitive vaulting team, she has vaulting programs for riders with special needs and for children as young as 2 and now, for the “seasoned” rider.

Karin explains her philosophy: “We talk about ‘adaptive’ vaulting, but really, it’s all adaptive. We adapt our approach to match the skill level and needs of the rider.”

It’s a simple idea, but to make it real takes decades of experience, accumulated knowledge and, of course, a profound dedication to the spirit of inclusion – what Karin would call “making connections.”

So, here at Legacy Stables, it’s never about what you can’t do. It’s always about what you can do. The idea is to explore the latter. And have fun doing it.

So, this is the fantasy:

vaulter dismount

This is the reality:

riding on knees

This is photoshop:

Bob upside down

This is success:

old man mounting a vaulting barrel

Because, it’s an improvement over this:

mounting vaulting barrel with help

While I won’t be doing the tree pose at the canter…

tree pose

…I’m hoping with proper diet and conditioning, that I, along with my fellow “Master Vaulters” will be able to make the most of Karin’s offer and have fun exploring what we actually can do.

almost standing on a horse


The Voting Has Begun

Just a quick post to let everyone know that the voting has started in Legacy Stables Horse of the Month contest.  The big guys Caspian and Habakuk are early leaders.





Come join the fun at: Legacy Stables Horse of the Month

Anybody with a Facebook account can vote once a day until the contest ends August 31st.

There are photos and short bios of all 18 horses here: The Horse of Legacy Stables.

I’ll be back next Tuesday with a normal post. As normal as it gets, anyway.

The Horses of Legacy Stables


In August we will pick the first Legacy Stables Horse of the Month. We are going to do this via a Facebook poll, beginning August 1st and running until August 31st. Anybody with a Facebook account will be able to vote once a day. You can vote for the same horse everyday or pick a different horse each day in any combination you like. We all have more than one favorite.

I’ve talked about several of these great horses in this blog over the last two years, but there are some that readers may not know so well. So, I thought it would be a good idea to provide these brief bios and a photo of all 18 horses (actually 17 horses and 1 donkey).  Just to help get things started.  There will be more photos and notes later on both Karin’s Horse Connection Facebook page as well as the Bob the Equestrian Facebook page.

I think it will be big fun!

The following is essentially a copy of the bios given at Legacy Stables 1st Anniversary Celebration:



Charley is a 17-year-old Morgan. After riding hundreds of horses, Charley was the very first horse that Karin ever owned.  She bought him on November 7, 2004. If it had not been for Charley, Karin’s Horse Connection would not exist.  Charley loves trail rides and has been in several 4th of July parades.








Caspian is an 11-year-old Thoroughbred/Percheron.  He has been with Karin for 6 years. When she got him he was not broke to ride. Now, Karin says, he is the “Mercedes” of the barn. Caspian is used for Vaulting and he is trained to the 2nd level of dressage.







Vinnie is an 18-year-old Thoroughbred.  He started out as a boarder, but Karin bought him when the owner lost interest.  He loves kids and makes the funniest expressions, but hates to jump.  Many riders have had their first cantering experience on Vinnie because his canter is so smooth. Vinnie is used for Vaulting/4H.






Goldie is a 12-year-old Quarter Horse.  Her owner brought her to Karin for training and Karin eventually bought her for Leoni.  Karin says Goldie is the fastest horse in the barn.









Oakley is the son of Goldie. He is also a Quarter Horse and he just had his 1st birthday on May 9th.










Romeo is a 9-year-old Welsh Pony.  Karin rescued Romeo from a backyard where he was all by himself without the company of other horses.  The owners were scared of him and he was a very unhappy pony.  After coming home with Karin and being in the company of her other horses his attitude changed very fast.  He is a character and doesn’t lack any self-esteem.  He also has blue eyes and likes the girls.  Romeo is used at Legacy Stables to teach kids how to hold their balance.





Snoopy is a 12-year-old Shetland Pony and has been with Karin for 5 years.  Snoopy is often the first contact for many kids.  He helps them gain a healthy confidence around horses.  His favorite thing is to be rewarded with treats.  Snoopy is used for Runt Rides.






Rambo is an 18-year-old Pony of America.  He was given to Karin when the owner got pregnant 5 years ago.  Rambo was in a trailer accident before coming to Karin’s and lost the nerves on the left side of his face.  He is also blind on that side and sometimes his tongue will hang out and it looks like he has a hangover.  But he compensates with his ears and other senses so that you are not able to tell he has a disability.  He is the ultimate toy for kids around the age of 12.

Cha Cha


Cha-Cha is a 7-year-old Tennessee Walker, owned by Linda Grady.  Linda has been boarding Cha-Cha at Karin’s for 5 years.  Cha-Cha is the queen of dirt.  Linda once said to Karin with a sigh, “Ahhh Cha-Cha, you should have been born as a boy.”






Avenir “The Great White Horse” is an 11-year-old Percheron/Paint.  He has been with Karin for 4 years.  Because of his smooth gait, his strength and size, Avenir is our main vaulting horse.  As a matter of fact he carried the Champion of the Copper Class in last years National Vaulting Championship in Lexington, KY.







Krystal is a Percheron Thoroughbred. How old is Krystal? Karin says, “She’s been 18 for several years. No one gets older than 18 here.”  Krystal started out as a boarding horse and the owner eventually gave her to Karin.  She is a well-trained dressage horse and likes working in the arena with riders of all ages.





Maree is a 12-year-old Quarter horse.  She was also a boarder before Karin became her owner 3 years ago.  She is super gentle and mellow and has a very smooth trot.  She is a very good therapy horse and she is loved by many riders of all ages and abilities.  Maree is used for Therapeutic/Riding Lessons/4H.






Windy is a 12-year-old Pinto. She is owned by Kathy Hargrove. Kathy has allowed Karin to use her in all the different riding programs for the last 3 years.  Windy had an accident as a foal that left her left ear crooked.  Karin says this may be how she got her name because she always looks like she’s standing in the wind.





Rami is 18 (the same as Krystal).  He is an Arabian that has been with Karin for 3 years.  He is the least aggressive horse Karin’s ever met.  He’s very trustworthy with all the kids in the arena as well as on the trails.  Rami is used for Riding Lessons with Kids.







Peanut – “The Mighty Peanut” is an 8-year-old Miniature Horse.  He has been with Karin for 2 years and his job is to be cute!  Peanut is the sweetest, most well-behaved, little buddy anyone can ask for.  No one can be afraid of Peanut, so for anyone that is intimidated by horses he can build their confidence.  He’s been used to with kids with special needs as well as for birthday parties.




Mackie is a 9-year-old Paint. When Mackie first came to Karin’s Horse Connection, he was very thin and had some behavioral issues. Despite his problems, one of Karin’s students, Deirdre McDonnall bought Mackie. She now boards Mackie at Legacy Stables. Both Karin and Deirdre have worked with Mackie for several months. Both he and Deirdre have come a long way together.




Luna is a 5-year-old Miniature Donkey.  She’s been with Karin since Spring 2013.  Luna’s job is to be cute!  She is used for absolutely nothing except for keeping us entertained with her hilarious brays.  She is a true character and we can’t imagine NOT having a donkey any more.







Habakuk is a 13-year-old Belgian/Quarter Horse.  He has been with Karin Since April 2013.  His nickname is “The Mustache King” because he had a handlebar mustache when Karin bought him.  He loves attention and is an in your pocket horse.  He is as big as he is sweet.  Habakuk is used for Riding Lessons/Vaulting.


The New Table at Legacy Stables

Last time I promised to talk about Karin’s other small horses, but I’ll think I’ll hold off until the week after next.  I want to include her mid-sized models too. I plan on doing a Horse of the Month through Karin’s Facebook Page and I would like to make sure all of the horses at Legacy Stables are included here as a kind of preparation for that.


I have a tendency to bump my head a lot. More than what is considered normal, I think. This is another reason why I like to put my riding helmet on as soon as I arrive at my lesson.

Jenny tells me I need to pay more attention to my immediate environment.  My doctor concurs. I don’t know, it seems to me that there is too much going on to try to pay attention to everything.

In any case, had I paid more attention to my immediate environment of Thursday, I would have noticed this:


It’s a new table made just for Legacy Stables.

It was a gift from Friend of Legacy Stables, Scott Turner. Scott is from Sikkema’s Equipment, the folks who built this:



Of course, on Thursday I walked right by the new table. I was leading Krystal into the arena and I noticed “a table,” but its significance did not register. I was just happy we didn’t bump into this obstacle.

It was only when Karin pointed out the details that I realized that this was no ordinary table:




It’s a bench too. Pretty darn clever.


I ‘m glad Karin brought it to my attention. I think it’s awesome.




My New Teacher

I found my riding teacher and my barn.  An Internet search led me to this interesting place called Lamoreaux Ridge Equestrian Center (, about 15 minutes from our house. The manager of the place, Karin Schmidt is also a riding instructor. I shot Karin an email explaining what I was up to and she invited Jenny and I to visit.  After a brief tour of the place, we got to watch Karin give vaulting lessons. The whole experience was very pleasant and positive and suddenly this whole thing was becoming real. My first lesson is this Thursday, June 16 at 8 am. I told as many people as I could about it so that backing out now would mean a complete loss of face.  Of course, not backing out could mean a complete loss of consciousness.

Here is what I know about Karin.  She was born in Germany and began vaulting at age 7. She became a jockey and raced at every track in Germany. She also raced in the United States and Peru. She exercised horses in Switzerland, England and Canada. Karin holds a German Master Trainer License in training galloping horses (unless something goes terribly wrong on Thursday, she won’t be using this for me). She is a CHA certified instructor whatever that means and a member of the American Association of Riding Schools which sounds pretty good to me. In addition to managing the Lamoreaux Ridge Equestrian Center, Karin is the head coach of the equestrian team at Grandville High School and Hope College and she teaches at the Kent Special Riding Program.

This may be a good time to review my initial criteria for my instructor:

Experienced: check

Well traveled: check

Utterly easy to get along with: so far, so good

Acute sense of the absurd: Karin teaches vaulting, which is essentially gymnastics on a moving horse: check

Exceptionally wise: TBD, but I got a good feeling about it.

Paragon of patience: In the weeks to come, I will be testing this to the absolute limit.

Here is Karin’s website:

So there it is. I am doing this.


On a Mission

Despite the name I’ve given this blog, I do not ride horses. Not yet. I like being around them and looking at them, but I just never felt the need to team up with one. When I was a kid, my sisters rode horses. Not me. When I became an adult, my girls rode horses. Not me. Now, with the AARP years upon me, I have decided to give horseback riding a serious shot.

There is one little problem: the Universe does not want me to ride horses. I know this is so, because the horses – acting as agents of the Universe – have expressed this to me in no uncertain terms. Whenever I’ve attempted to ride, it has not ended well. I’ve been bucked off, reared off, knocked off and laughed off. The horses never seem to care what I want. They ignore modest requests (“please stop eating the neighbor’s front lawn when I’m trying to talk to you”). They are unconcerned with my safety and welfare (“that’s my foot you’re stepping on”). Most of the time they seem oblivious to my very presence.

No cooperation

Other people don’t seem to have these problems. I see riders work with horses all of the time and they make it look so effortless and comfortable. And the horses cooperate with these people. It’s as if the Universe is watching them, nodding and smiling like Princess Leia at the end of Episode IV, so pleased with her chosen ones. But as she turns Her gaze toward me, Her countenance darkens and with a stony glare and ice in Her voice, warns, “Stay off my horses…”

I don’t blame the horses. I know they’re not trying to be difficult. They are just doing their jobs. I hold the Universe entirely responsible. The wench.

But ride I will. I insist on doing this because for me, challenging the Universe is what our improbable existence on this planet is all about. Despite everything against it, I am going to learn how to ride a horse. Believing that I can learn is not a simple matter of wishful thinking – it is pure defiance.  This blog and its name are meant as my way of displaying to the Universe the finger customarily associated with non-compliance.

I’m going to need help. For this, I turn to the professionals. Finding a riding instructor suitable for the project is my first order of business. He or she must be an experienced horseperson who is well traveled, exceptionally wise, utterly easy going, a paragon of patience, and have an acute sense of the absurd, but not laugh for the wrong reasons. I need a cross between George Morris, Lewis Black and the Buddha.

That should do it.