Big Toys

At the end of this month, Karin is hosting a Trail Mix vaulting fest. By “Trail Mix” she means different ages. And since I’m a different age, I am expected to participate.

I’m still not in shape for this. I’m emerging from winter about 20 pounds overweight and about 35 of that is in my gut. But I’m going to vault anyway.

Because it’s fun.

So Lesson #91 was all about vaulting.

And fun.

I was fortunate to have brought along my Special Designer Vaulting Socks.

Detroit Lions socks

I never vault in shoes, even when Karin says I can. I don’t want to look conspicuous. And then there’s that thing about digging into the horses back with your heels. Since the horse is already dealing with what from his perspective is a one-rider triple, I don’t want to do anything else to piss him off.

I began by warming up on the vaulting barrel.  With Karin and Charity busy with other students, this mainly consisted of me taking pictures on top of the barrel without falling off.

shoes on vaulting barrel

Detroit Tiger hat on vaulting barrlel

Since the weather was nice – the breeze was actually warm and not the freeze breeze that penetrates your clothes and skin and tries to kill you from the inside out – we got to go out into the round pen.

Prior to that, I had noticed that Karin had put wood chips all around the property as part of her annual counter-offensive against the spring mud.

wood chips by barn


dog on wood chips





sensory trail

The round pen had a particularly ominous pile. There were toys around it…

wood chips in round pen

Charity (the nice one) took me through some basic instruction that resulted in a number of undignified poses:

rider with one arm out

rider with butt off horse

For me, the wood chip pile marked the center of the ring and was useful in keeping me oriented as I did my tricky moves. For Karin the wood chip pile was an opportunity for something else.

“You have to go up it,” she announced.

“No, I am not going up it,” I informed her.

lunger on top of wood chip pile

This woman is incapable of leaving anything alone. The whole place is like her personal playground and the horses – and people – are her toys.

The great thing about vaulting is that you, the rider, don’t have to control the horse. The bad thing about vaulting is that someone else does.

So despite my protesting like a baby being born, Karin coaxed Habakuk – and thus me – up that wood chip hill.

riding up a wood chip pile

“Now put your hands up in the air!”

Hell no!” I was already feeling a little iffy with Habakuk trying to find his footing on top of the pile. No way was I going to compound the problem by putting my hands up in the air…

hands in air on top of wood chip pile

It’s like she has strings attached to your limbs or something.

“You know,” she told us as we posed for the Post Ridiculous Activity photo op…

horse with Detroit Tiger cap

mustache on horse

“I always say that the little horses like Peanut are my toys. Habakuk is like one of my big toys.”

Oh, the indignity…

It was a fun lesson.

fake blue jay in a tree

Vaulting Seeds

Karin is starting a Tiny Tots Vaulting program for kids ages 3-7.  Since our granddaughter Aubrey is a mere 18 months away from qualifying, I think it’s time to get prepared.

Actually, preparations were well under way last year. These included an introduction to the barrel.

baby on vaulting barrel

And an introduction to a vaulting horse.

baby looking at vaulting horse

Although the horses she’ll be vaulting on will be considerably shorter than that one. And I believe Karin is making miniature barrel for the Tiny Tots as well.

Of course, the vaulting will have to compete with other interests the child is developing.

baby looking at planet


toddler with shovel






baby Suh with ball




And she has a particular fascination with anything that has buttons.

baby with camera


baby with phone and purse

Although there have been some positive signs.

horse on child's computer

But the biggest hurdle will be Aubrey’s phone addiction. These days, we rarely see her without one plastered to the side of her face. It’s gotten to the point where she’s learning to do everything one-handed. We have no idea who she is talking to. Maybe the kindly folks at 911?

toddler on phone

Competing with all this great technology that kids have available to them is an uphill battle, but I’m encouraged by help from unexpected quarters.

The Daddle makes a horse out of Dad

They call it a “Daddle.”

The Mom takes a more traditional approach:

baby, mom on supermarket horse

Although, if Karin develops a freestyle vaulting program that includes chatting on the phone in basic seat, we’ll be all set.

Dad with stick horse

Everything on the Line

After the line rolling up instruction, Karin used two horses to demonstrate proper lunging techniques: Avenir the Great White Horse and Oskar the Invisible Horse.

Avenir, the beloved mainstay of Karin’s team A Vaulting Connection, recently recovered from a serious medical condition and it was great to see the big guy back in action.

woman lunging big white horse

It was great to see Oskar too. I think I’m the only one that actually can.  Which may or may not have something to do with my recent fall.

Karin often uses the undemanding Oskar as a “visual” aid to help riders plan ahead.  In this case, Oskar served as a target for the lunge whip.  In other words, you deploy the whip one length behind the vaulting horse.  Pretending Oskar is there helps with this.

Following the demonstration, Karin marched out the little horses so that we could practice some actual hands-on lunging. Present were Romeo, Snoopy and Peanut: The Little Rascals of Legacy Stables.

women with ponies

I got Snoopy. Actually, Snoopy was handed off to me by Allison from Chicago Vaulting.

woman leading pony

“He’s having a little attitude problem right now,” Allison warned.

Of all of Karin’s horses, Snoopy is the one I’ve interacted with the least.  Just an occasional nod and “Hi, how ya doin’,” as I brush pass him in the pasture on my way to fetch another horse.

Snoopy has a stellar reputation working with the smaller kids. They hang all over him and such, and he seems to eat it (but not them!) up. I couldn’t imagine how this little guy’s attitude problem could be much of a problem.

man with pony

But as I let out the line and attempted to get Snoopy to go in a proper circle, he just kept going crooked all over the place and our “circle” got progressively smaller until he was actually chasing me around. I didn’t like that.

Christoph noticed I was having a difficult time, so he stepped in and offered some pointers.  Drive the horse from behind was the main thing.

lunging instruction

I tried to drive Snoopy from behind using a miniature version of Oskar. But the result was pretty much the same, so I put a stop to the exercise before the little horse caught up with me again.

Christoph took over and had more success, but in the end he simply said that Snoopy was “hard” and none of this was my fault. I’m thinking of putting that last part on a t-shirt.

man lunging pony

I handed the line to Pete and he took a turn with Snoopy and – I presume – Little Oskar. Pete did really well with Snoopy and you could actually see something akin to a real circle. Although we noticed that Snoopy mysteriously acted up at the same part of the circle on every pass.  I had a good view of this, because I was standing right by that part of the circle.

man lunging pony

Next, Karin brought out my old buddy Caspian, so that we could all get a turn lunging an experienced vaulting horse.

This was pretty awesome. And pretty humbling – at the end of that line was a tremendous amount of power.  Karin showed me how to use the line to cue the horse’s movement by gently squeezing my fingers and with subtle twists of the wrist. The main thing was to relax the arms and keep your wrist and elbow joints supple so that you’re not yanking on the horse.  It’s a lot like riding in that they feel everything you do.

And just like riding, you combine your voice and body language with what you’re doing with the line. There is a definite art to this.

Add a vaulter (or two or three) bouncing around up there and you begin to realize how important the lunger is in this sport.  It is a huge responsibility.

After everybody got a turn with Caspian, Karin turned him loose in the arena to give him an opportunity to roll around in the dirt. Instead, he did a couple of laps around the arena and then made a beeline for the door.

horse trotting

It was time to punch out

horse by door

Sometimes it Takes a Committee

I’m staying off the horses for a week or two. At least until the color of my left leg returns to its traditional hue.  I check the progress everyday, but I try not to stare at it too much, otherwise I start seeing faces in the bruises. I’m not sure what to do with that.

Meanwhile, Karin has been hosting the Christoph Lensing vaulting clinics. Christoph is a world-renowned equestrian vaulter and one of the most sought after clinicians in the sport. He’s won three world championships and three European championships for individual men, he coached the Swedish team to a bronze medal in the World Equestrian Games and he is a well-known designer of innovative surcingles.

And he’s a really nice guy.  Like Karin and Pete, Christoph is an amazing teacher with deep wells of patience. As expected, I tested that depth and if he had any feelings of frustration, he hid them nicely.  He practices the same calm, task-orientated, accepting you at your own level approach as Karin and Pete. The fact that Christoph can go from coaching world-class vaulters to instructing me on the proper way to roll up a vaulting lunge line without the line ending up around my neck is pretty darn remarkable.

Karin held a number of clinics over the weekend with Christoph.  I attended some of them, mostly to take photos for Karin’s Facebook Page. However, Karin did manage to rope me into participating in the lunging clinic.

A couple of years ago, I expressed some mild interest in learning how to lunge for vaulting. Karin stored this somewhere in her busy brain to use on me when the time was right. You have to be careful what you say around Karin.

rolling up a lunge line

The first thing you learn as vaulting lunger is how to properly hold and roll up the line. This may seem like a small thing at first, but it gets to be a lot bigger thing when there’s a ton of animal strength and energy attached to the other end of it. If it’s not done correctly, you’ll get knots as the line rolls out and you can get your hands tied up in those knots. I don’t think I need to explain how this could get really ugly, really fast.


Vaulting may be one of the safest equestrian disciplines, but it doesn’t come that way naturally. It takes well-trained horses and well-trained people that don’t mind focusing on what they’re doing in order to create that secure environment.

I missed Karin’s initial line rolling up instruction because I got distracted with photo-taking issues. A group from Chicago Vaulting was up for the weekend and one of their members, Em Cherkinian, is a photographer who has plans to go into the field professionally.  We got into a brief conversation regarding our cameras that turned into a longer conversation regarding shutter speeds, ISO and aperture settings. Em is clearly passionate about photography as art form and she seems eager to share her knowledge. I learned quite a bit from her and her mother, Allison, in just a few minutes.  Meanwhile, I was not learning about rolling up lunge lines.

By the time I got back to the group, they were already in the Return Demonstration Phase. This is done pairs: one person holds the end of the line while the other rolls it up. As you roll it up, each loop has to be shorter than the one before it.

lunging clinic

Poor Pete got stuck with me and tried his best to instruct me from thirty feet away, but I just wasn’t getting it.

Christoph intervened and for the next ten minutes, the Three-Time World Champion and I struggled against my hands’ inability to follow what my brain was trying to tell them. Christoph calmly and repeatedly demonstrated the proper technique, showing me what I was doing wrong and explaining why it would be really, really bad to do it that way. He just wouldn’t give up. And I don’t think he was going let me give up either.


Eventually, I started getting it. Leoni jumped in and added a few pointers while Pete continued to encourage from the other end of the line. Sometimes, it takes a committee.

It could have been a frustrating experience, but my Roll Up Committee made it fun. I think it says something about this sport and the people who are involved in it.  It would be easy to take a discipline that requires precision and attention to detail and turn it into a grind. And I’m sure this happens. But equestrian vaulting is also about things like passion and grace and that glorious sense of accomplishment you get when you achieve something you didn’t think was possible. When this sport – this art form – is shared in that spirit, it becomes accessible to both beginners and to those of us who would otherwise never consider participating.

I also got a chance to actually lunge a horse, but I’ll talk about that next time.

Vaulting Friends (l to r): Em Cherkinian, Karin Schmidt, Allison Conrad Cherkinian, Sue Nicole Susenburger, Chrisoph Lensing, Izzy Solberg and Leoni Schmidt

Vaulting Friends (l to r): Em Cherkinian, Karin Schmidt, Allison Conrad Cherkinian, Sue Nicole Susenburger, Chrisoph Lensing, Izzy Solberg and Leoni Schmidt

The Keys to a Good Lesson

Lesson #85 was a special one because it proved I’ve been right all along.

I always leave my car keys in my car because I’m afraid I might lose them during my lesson. Always, always, always. Except for one time. On Lesson #85, I put them in my pocket. And I lost them.

So I’ve been right all along.

Despite the monumental efforts of my First Class Search Team (thank you Karin, Kathy and David!) the car keys refused to be found.

Given the things we did on Lesson #85, it’s not the least bit surprising that the keys chose this day to escape. Karin had an active morning planned for Gerry and me.

horse and sled

We rode on sleds.

We stacked hay.


We did vaulting sort of things.



Karin roped Jack, the gentleman who delivered the hay, and David, the gentleman who does most of her building projects, into the vaulting session.


I think between the four of us, there was something approaching two hundred years of life experience. And we still didn’t know enough not to do it.


Somewhere amidst all this falderal my keys bid me adieu.

The thing about losing keys is that everyone you talk to on the day you lose them has their own key-losing story.  Karin told me about the time she lost hers while working at the barn of the great German jockey, Fritz Dreschler.  These keys escaped while Karin was exercising a high level racehorse with a name that sounds like – and I’m sure I’m going to kill the spelling here: You-stus.

“You-stus” was a $200,000 racehorse. And he was as intelligent as he was valuable.

When Karin came back to the barn the next day, You-stus’ was waiting for her.  As she entered the horse’s stall, he eyed her as if she had done something wrong.  Then he turned his gaze toward the corner of the stall almost as if to nod in that direction.  Karin followed his glance and found her keys sitting in the middle of an almost perfect circle where You-stus had cleared away his bedding.

“It was like he put them on a silver platter for me,” Karin said.

The poor horse had obviously stepped on Karin’s keys and wasn’t going let it happen twice.

Please, Hu-mon, in the future refrain from leaving your things in my bedroom.

When I went to the auto dealer to get my keys replaced, my pockets – including my wallet – were full of hay and I smelled like Karin’s horses.  I didn’t care to explain.


Staying Off and Staying In

I haven’t had a horse get mad at me in over three weeks. I achieved this by employing a simple technique: not getting on. The last time I rode Goldie, I actually succeeded in getting the reins crossed under her neck as I mounted. I can’t explain how I did this.

I just couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t go the way I wanted her to go. Until I got off and checked.

I was unable to document this proud moment with a photo, because I was too busy apologizing – profusely – to Goldie.  She was not happy with me at all.

I wish to be left alone.

I wish to be left alone.

It’s never the horse’s fault. Okay?

But the real reason I haven’t been back in the saddle is due to the visitor from the North Pole.  And I don’t mean Santa Claus. I’m talking about the Abominable Polar Vortex Freeze Monster that has held a large portion of the North America hostage over the last couple weeks. We’ve all suffered.

Hell no.

Hell no.

I know that Karin’s arena has held up well.

snow outside arena wall

And the kids adapted. Like they always do.

vaulting in warm clothes

As for me, I thought it was good opportunity to give Karin’s horses a break from what I do.

Meanwhile, I’ve been watching granddaughter Aubrey quite a bit. She has provided me with a good example of the best way to spend your time during what Karin calls “Deep Winter.”

baby reading a book

And between dancing along with the You Tube video of babies’ roller skating to the Black Eyed Peas Pump It and playing “Hat On, Hat Off”…

baby taking hat off grandfather

… and watching spellbinding episodes of Thomas the Train and Bubble Guppies (it makes me very uncomfortable the way they look right at you through the TV monitor), we’ve managed to squeeze in some equestrian related activities, including Equestrian Vaulting Preparatory Exercises:

baby standing on big wheel

And we read this equestrian shaped book, which Aubrey stepped on way before we got all the way through it:

equestrian baby book

I also became a little bit familiar with a TV show called Heartland. It’s a program about horses and people. It has all the equestrian sort of things in it like riding boots and helmets and horse trailers. It’s a drama – about stressed people taking care of distressed horses. I’m not sure who’s supposed to take care of distressed viewers.

Yes, there was something about this show that I found annoying. At first I couldn’t put my finger on it. And then I realized what it was: they were talking.  I discovered that turning the audio down to zero profoundly enhanced my enjoyment of Heartland. And then I inserted my own dialogue in a variety of character voices. This kept Aubrey entertained for about 25 seconds and me for about 15 minutes.

In any case, I expect to be back in the saddle next Thursday. My regular post next Tuesday will be about fish.

A New Adocate

My daughter, Jamie, came up from Florida for a visit between the holidays. Whenever Jamie visits, we always seem able to fit in some kind of horse related activity. The kid needs her fix. Horsepeople, you know what I mean.

There’s the requisite trip to Lori’s House for a visit with Jamie’s best buddy, Bert.

White Arab horse

On a couple of occasions, we went out to see Andrea and her horses/kids. Andrea is Jamie’s long time friend and horsegirl companion.

girls on horses in water

We’ve had our ups: at the Leenhouts Barn, Jamie gave me a riding lesson and I took my appreciation of the equestrian arts to new heights.

big horse

And we’ve had our closer to earth experiences: Jamie once accompanied me to one of my regular lessons and met the Mighty Peanut.

miniature horse

On this visit, Jamie got to experience something different.  This time she got a little taste of equestrian vaulting.

Karin holds open vaulting every Saturday and I suggested to Jamie that it might be fun for her to see what it’s like.

It just so happened that Karin’s good friends, Pete and Kim, were visiting from upstate New York. The couple manage a therapy-vaulting program in Syracuse.

Pete started vaulting at age 40 (yes, he did…) and he has competed in some pretty high level stuff. I liked him the moment he told the story about the time he attempted to fool some judges by passing off a fall as an “early dismount.”

“Ta-dah!” he chimed with a sheepish grin and palms raised in the classic routine-complete pose.

Pete and Kim arrived just before open vaulting started. Nothing like doing a little gymnastics on a moving horse immediately following a ten-hour drive in the middle of winter.

Then again, it was easy to tell that Pete was happy to be in his element. After a brief introduction, he offered to take Jamie through the basics on the barrel.

vaulting barrel instruction

Then on the horse.

equestrian vaulting

They gave her two turns. Once by herself:

riding backward

And once with Pete:

Two vaulters on a horse

And I took about 300 pictures.

I noticed two things. First, Jamie was having a lot of fun. Second, Pete is an awesome teacher.  And the first thing was directly related to second thing.

flag on the vaulting barrel

This is why I have come to like equestrian vaulting so much. It’s the atmosphere.  It’s positive, embracing and literally uplifting. The fun starts the moment you start trying.  It’s never about what you Can’t Do, it’s always about what you Can Do – even when you didn’t know you could.

vaulting lesson over

Don’t get me wrong, at the competitive level this is a real sport and the riders are, again literally, hard-core athletes.  Despite being an experienced rider, an avid cyclist and working out regularly, Jamie complained of soreness after her first vaulting session.  Her groans were made in admiration.

women cyclists

The experience made a big impression on Jamie. She changed her Facebook profile photo to this:

equestrian vaulters

And wowed her friends with photos like this:

equestrian vaulters practice

Later that evening, I noticed Jamie had a map of Florida on her laptop. She was looking for vaulting barns near the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. While there are no AVA clubs in Florida, she did find a barn that offered vaulting about an hour away from her home.

And equestrian vaulting has earned itself another supporter.

Another Fine Performance

I had the privilege of spending all day last Saturday with A Vaulting Connection at the West Michigan Winter Horse Fest. It was a fun day. I even bought the sweatshirt.

Vaulting sweatshirt

The Winter Fest was a scaled down version of last year’s event. Only one main room this year and no horses.

This year.

This year.

Even the admission price was scaled down.

Last year.

Last year.

The event ran from 9 to 4. A Vaulting Connection performed in a barrel demonstration on stage from 11 to 11:30.

This gave Karin plenty of time to go shopping. She just can’t help herself.

Equestrian shopper

She actually bought a horse.

horse model

I don’t shop for horse stuff, of course. Tack confuses me and I’m afraid of other horse-like accessories. It all looks so complicated and expensive to me. I keep to what I absolutely need and I have no interest in browsing.

Our booth was one down from the small stage. This was fortunate in one respect, because the barrel and mats had to be moved quickly from the booth area to the stage – and then back again. The kids – these veteran performers – led by Santa Karin worked like a team of efficient elves and in one mad scramble moved the whole kit & caboodle in a matter of minutes.

moving to stage

It seems like every time I see these kids in action, I come away a little more impressed.  Two weeks ago, it was how they responded to the frigid conditions for the Santa Claus Parade. This time, there were a couple of things that struck me.

helping a new vaulter

First, I was oh-so-very impressed with the way the more experienced vaulters interacted with new or prospective vaulters throughout the day.  They demonstrated, they instructed, they motivated and they did it all with remarkable patience and a lot of enthusiasm. They made it fun.



Karin and Leoni have done a great job in developing this strong cadre of vaulters who are willing and capable of assisting less experienced vaulters and bringing new converts to the sport.

new convert?

Second, this was not an easy venue in which to perform. Both the booth area and the stage were small.  Deploying 15 or so vaulters in this cramped space took some improvisation. Fortunately, Karin is a master of improvisation and her students always seem to rise to the occasion and adapt to the conditions.

two vaulters

The team was also aided in this regard by the kindly people from Benchmark Farm out of Hudsonville, Michigan – The Most Patient People in the Equestrian World – whose booth was located between the stage and us. We actually had to move the barrel through their booth area to get to the stage. They endured this Invasion of Karin’s Little Blue Army throughout most of the day with good humor. If Benchmark Farm is as patient with their cliental as they were with us, then I give them my most sincere and highest recommendation.

Benchmark Farm

Prior to the demonstration, Karin gathered the team around for instructions. I liked this, because it reminded me of a football team in the locker room just before going out on the field.

coach's instructions

Then, she had them skip in a line through the aisles and back to the stage to let people know that something special was going on in the corner of the arena. I think the NFL should start doing this sort of thing.

vaulters skippin

The kids did a great job on stage of course. Karin interspersed commentary between demonstrations and I think it all worked together to provide attendees with a good introduction to the sport.

exercise on barrel

I took a ton of pictures, of course.  In the process, I became aware of something that should help me a great deal in my Excellence in Equestrian Picture Taking Project.  It turns out that vaulters have to hold their poses for a certain number of beats to get full credit for the move.

barrel excerise

I think while mounted, it’s a matter of a certain number of steps by the horse. In any case, this provides a little window of opportunity to snap the picture. I think it’s great that they’ve set it up this way.

vaulters on stage

I just have to become more familiar with the various moves and routines so that I can get my timing down. It’s a challenge for me, but I think it will be big fun.

leap frog

We ended the day by hoisting the barrel on to Karin’s truck. Karin and I did this by ourselves – except for the two or three people who came along to help us because they thought we were nuts for trying to do this by ourselves.

high five


A Parade and a Project

For Lesson #80, I was turned loose on a self-study program.  With the Santa Parade coming up on Saturday and a Lantern Walk scheduled for Sunday evening, I knew Karin was going to be overwhelmed with preparations and I even considered calling and cancelling my lesson to give her a break. But I showed up anyway, figuring I could ride on my own. I assured her that Goldie and I would be fine alone.

big crayon and a horse

We trotted a little and practiced a bit of backing. And we picked up one of the big crayons to see what that was like.  I discovered that holding a big crayon, steering a horse properly and taking good photos all at once presents a unique set of problems. But we had a nice time together anyway.

Later, Karin asked if I would like to walk with the vaulting team in the parade. I felt honored, but I suggested that perhaps it would be more useful for me to take photos. She agreed.

The day of parade was butt-kicking cold. The air temp when I arrived downtown was 27 degrees Fahrenheit.  There was a healthy breeze blowing through town, so it felt like – I dunno – maybe closer to 7 degrees Fahrenheit. I thought A Vaulting Connection might even bow out of the parade.

That shows you what I know. Vaulters don’t do any kind of bowing until they’re done performing. I can’t tell you how impressed I was with this group when I got to the staging area. Karin had a great turn out.


They would proceed in two sections. The first section included two horses (three counting Peanut) with several vaulters rotating on and off. The second section consisted of a float with kids using a vaulting barrel.

parade float with vaulting barrel

One of the parents commented that given the conditions, he was surprised how upbeat the group was and that no one seemed to be whining about the cold. I can assure him that at least one person was whining about it.  I ended up putting on my gloves, despite the fact that this made manipulating the camera more awkward.

boots off, vaulting shoes on

After taking a few photos of the preparations at the staging area, I scooted over to the parade route and staked out a good spot to snap pictures.  I took off my gloves, made sure the camera was on auto – because out of all the little nobs and settings on that thing, that’s only one I understand – and then put my gloves back on. I thought I was all ready when the parade started.

Then something wonderful happened.

Near the head of the parade, the Elmo balloon was off to a magnificent start…

Elmo in parade

… but a half a block must have been enough for him and he decided to lay down…

Elmo falling

Workers scrambled to rouse Elmo, but he was acting stubborn.

Elmo down

Meanwhile, the parade must go on. So they did what I would have done: they dragged Elmo face down through the streets of Grand Rapids.

Elmo face down in streets of Grand Rapids

Elmo face down

I haven’t seen anything that funny since Captain Kirk wrestled the Gorn.

Captain Kirk wrestles the Gorn

I was really hoping that Elmo would finish the parade in the Facedown Fashion.  Perhaps even start a new tradition?

However, the skilled handlers managed to get him up and going again and he finished strong. Darn, I would have paid anything to hear the eightWest ladies parade commentary on Drag Me Elmo.

Elmo rises

Amid all the excitement, my clumsy gloved fingers inadvertently knocked the setting nob on my camera and made it go from “auto” to “P.” And this – unknown to me – is the setting at which I took close to 300 parade photos of Karin’s vaulters.

Legacy Stable in parade

I don’t even know what “P” means. Maybe, purple?

camera on auto setting

For their part, the vaulters were nothing short of awesome. As cold as it was, they were there to perform and you could tell they were having a great time. These kids absolutely exuded that characteristic poise and personality that is so unique to equestrian vaulting. The crowd loved them.  It was so much fun to watch.

vaulter in parade

vaulters on parade

vaulters on TV

I actually left my spot and followed along side them through the entire parade route, blissfully clicking away on “P.” They were moving along at a pretty good pace and I had to trot a little to stay with them.  A few times, I slipped on the ice a bit and almost ended up like Elmo.



I was so focused (unlike my camera) on staying with them that I entirely forgot about Section II, the float with the vaulting barrel.  So I didn’t get many pictures of those kids.  I really felt bad about that, until I realized that they would have been on “P” as well.

upside down vaulter

In a way, the “P” setting was somewhat appropriate because it helped make everyone appear a little colder.  Really captured the ambience of the morning.  I’ve always had a knack for inadvertent art. But still, they weren’t the photos I was hoping for.

Clearly, I need to get better at taking photographs. Right now, my modus operandi is to take a bazillion pictures and hope I end up with a few I can use.  While I know this is not an uncommon practice, I want to do better. In fact, I’m going to make this my new equestrian project. My old project was the Stand Up Project – standing on a moving horse. Technically, I achieved that earlier this year.


I declare that the Stand Up Project is officially completed. The Excellence in Equestrian Picture Taking Project begins this week. So here goes another self-study program…

camera self study

Another Fun Saturday at Legacy Stables

On Saturday I got an opportunity to work in my self-appointed role as Official Hayride Driver of Legacy Stables. It was during Legacy Stables First Fall Fun Fest. This was another Karin Inspired day of horse related activity and fun.

The first thing I saw when I got there was this gal:

Donkey costume

Lexie Legacy they call her. I’m not sure how they knew it was a “she.”  Anyway, rumor has it that there was a bull rider and an equestrian vaulter in there. Now that’s an appetite.

Some feared they might be next.

horses in pasture

There was open vaulting and instruction. But of course.

equestrian vaulting intstruction

open vaulting

The round pen featured a spirited jumping competition between Karin’s Kids, Lexie, Kaiah and an Rj-assisted-Peanut.


dog jumping

They never did say who won.

jumping fun

But obviously there were some deals cut before hand:


There were well supervised pony rides out to the Sensory Trail.

pony ride

And rides upon hay into the back forty.

hayride loading

The flag racing was a big hit, as expected.

flag racing

And there were crafty things going on whilst I busy with the hayride. This clever creation was among several from the “Nature Trail Scavenger Hunt/Craft”:

scavenger hunt craft

And what of Karin?  We let her eat cake.

Karin eating cake

This is actually a very rare and very valuable photo of Karin. Normally if she’s sitting during one of these things, it’s on a horse – going fast.

flag racing

It was another fun Saturday at Legacy Stables. Indeed, being an equestrian is about so much more than just learning how to ride.