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Rider Recap: Getting Schooled at Pine Hill

Hello, everyone! Brandy here with another Rider Recap—this time, fresh off two days of cross-country schooling (my first ever!) at Pine Hill. I have a bit of a sun, exertion, and adrenaline hangover (not to mention chafing and a smooshed toe!) from my weekend in the saddle, but I’m riding high on my team’s accomplishments!

It all began at zero-dark-thirty on Saturday when Lisa pulled up in Megatrina, her beast of a diesel rig. I loaded all my gear (and beer) and off we went to Bit by Bit Farms to load our horses and meet up with our caravan companion, Heather (Mickey’s proud mom). We hit the road at 8am on the dot for Bellville. Along the way, Lisa and I played Austin Eventing theme songs at excessive volume, wondered when it’s too early for beer, and craved donuts. Arriving at Pine Hill in good time, we unloaded without a hiccup and even had time to spare before the advanced group (Heather on Skipper and Shelby on Lorenzo) needed to tack up. Lisa used the pair to demonstrate proper XC tack and gear to the newbies and gave the whole team a few moments to get to know each other.

It was great to watch the advanced pair go before the beginner group set out. We learned so much by observing their rides and really fed off their confidence and experience. Also, we made sure to keep them hydrated and cheered them on when the jumps tested their mettle. In the end, Heather and Shelby made it look so easy!

After watching our fearless leader get it done on Arvo the Fancy Man, the beginner group convened to learn the ways of our master. Like watching the advanced pair go earlier, we were really inspired watching Lisa and Arvo leap tall buildings—er . . . jumps—in a single bound. Lisa rides the way she teaches us to ride, making it clear that by following her lead we might gallop in her hoofprints. Off we went to warm up, trotting circles in two-point and cantering large rectangles (or some approximation of a rectangle) in gallop position. It’s often a surprise how much fitness it takes to ride simple warm-ups like that (especially in the Texas heat). We were tired, and we hadn’t even gotten to the jumps yet!

For day one, the beginner group (me on Mickey, Brian on Tomba, Lauren on Kireen, and Celine on Goon) stayed close to the start box, taking jumps of varying low heights and venturing into the (dirty) water combination. All of our horses were game and everyone exceeded expectations. My first day on course filled me with pride I haven’t felt since I was riding Hit the Deck in the nineties. I never thought I would ride again after Deck died; this weekend solidified that there is nothing in the world more important to me than being in the saddle (chafing be damned!). Mickey the spotted schoolmaster made me work for every good jump we had, and we only had few sloppy ones. I couldn’t be more excited about our partnership and I look forward to everything I’ll learn from him. Lisa and Heather both tell me that Mickey can’t do what he does best without a good rider. That’s high praise, I think, and I intend to keep earning it!

Our first schooling day ended with fajitas around the trailer and lively recaps of moments on course. Many beers were imbibed and bawdy banter peppered our conversation. It was a banner day for Austin Eventing.

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