The 100 Day Challenge… Show Time



It’s hard to believe… it’s over.  The 100 Day Challenge has come and gone and so has Summer Snow…

Here are Devin’s parting thoughts from her post on Blue Rider Farm’s Facebook page:

The Trainer Challenge is complete, and Rainier and I got third place. After an hour trying to jump the wrong battery (did you know diesel trucks have two batteries?) we hit the road and got there in time! A gorgeous day, five wonderful challenge horses and trainers, and five very different performances made everyone a winner in my eyes. A huge thank you to Kristin Brenner who came on this epic adventure and who I couldn’t have survived without (literally, I would not have eaten or drank a thing). Our showcase had a little excitement on my around the world, as Rainier wasn’t a statue like he’s always been at home, but otherwise jumped well, got his changes, and showed off some fancy lateral work for the audience. Rainier is headed back to Yakima with his owners, and will remain for sale there. He will make someone a lovely dressage or low level jumper, and I have no doubt will win them over like he did everyone he met at Blue Rider Farm.

And here is video from the event…

And here’s an article that Chesna put together for EN about the challenge.

Summer Snow, it’s been a pleasure knowing you!

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Day 98 out of 100


As the 100th day draws near, we take a few moments to reflect on what a ride Summer Snow has taken us on.  So many “firsts” and so many successes.  Here are Devin’s parting thoughts as she gets ready to leave for the ‘big show” this weekend.

Devin:Wrapping up the last week with Rainier, I’m taken with how many people share what an impact he’s made on them.  Whether it’s my clients in the barn who see him daily, or those who are just following his blog, he has really made an impression on everyone.  And it’s genuine, because he is truly one special horse.  From his handsome looks, to his gentle temperament, his soft big movement, to his quiet willingness to learn, he’s been a pleasure from start to finish.  He is a wonderful ambassador for the breed, showing his versatility and ability to go in so many directions. Eventer, jumper, trail horse, dressage horse, or husband horse, Rainier is capable of transitioning seamlessly from so many years successfully racing on the track, to any number of new careers.  I have enjoyed having him in the barn and watching him acquire so many fans! Take a final look at him in intensive training for the upcoming show! Warning, this is one video full of thrills and chills, excitement and adventure, as Rainier takes very beginning rider Levi on his first ride.

For me, looking back through my photos, it’s hard to choose a favorite one … and there are so many more I wanted to take of this big, handsome fellow, but the time ran out as the rain poured in!  In the meantime, one of my photos was used as the basis for a sketch of Rainier done by Lily Bros of ACGS Portrais in Tualatin, OR.  Who can resist those big eyes?  None of us for sure! Lily is an equine artist and can draw your horse for only $75!  The sketch will be donated to the event for a fundraiser.

drawing of RainierAs the 100 Day Challenge draws near, remember to vote Summer Snow and Devin Robel for the 100 day trainer test! Click here to access the poll and cast your vote!

Good luck in the 100 Day Challenge Show on Oct. 5th!  We know you are a super star!





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Vote For Summer Summer Snow!

SS-&-Devin-FacesLooks like Emerald Downs has a poll going for favorite OTTB and trainer in the 100 Day Challenge!! If you love Summer Snow as much as we do, get out and vote!!

Click here to go to Emerald Downs Challenge Poll.


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The Value Of A Great Mind

Face-Bridle-&-SaddleIt is not enough to have a good mind: the main thing is to use it well.
~Rene Descartes

For those of us who have gotten to know Summer Snow (Rainier) over the past 85 days, the next 15 days leading up to the 100 Day Challenge Show on Oct. 5th are bittersweet.  In the beginning, his looks captivated us and his personality enticed us into his life, but as we have gotten to know him, it is his mind that stands out.

It is easy to label the physical skills of a horse.  The horse can walk, trot, and canter, the horse loads, clips, and bathes, the horse side passes, the horse leg yields, the horse has flying changes, etc.  All theses skills add value to the horse. How much value depends upon the eyes of the person looking at the horse.  The inside of a horse is harder to see. How do you determine the “heart” and “mind” of the horse? Through observation we make estimates and assumptions about inner qualities. What is the value of a good mind?

Since Rainier began the 100 Day Challenge, he has faced many new experiences and expectations.


He has gone trail riding, crossed streams with unstable river rock footing, gone over bridges, cantered through the woods…


…learned to jump stadium and cross country courses, gone to a Hunter Derby and brought home ribbons, stood tied to the trailer waiting for the show buddies to compete in their classes, patiently enjoying his hay. He was handled by multiple people in the  process.  Rainier was a good sport throughout the day’s event.   With each new task, Rainier has presented a consistent personality.  He is who he is no matter where he is.

Devin’s primary goal for Rainier during the 100 Day Challenge was to give him a foundation of experiences on which to build. He has demonstrated a willingness to participate in a variety of activities and is readiness to explore higher/harder skills.

Learning to make good choices has been one of the strengths of Rainier’s training program.  For example, if he is having a jump lesson, Devin initially helps him figure out the distance to the jump and sets him up for success.  They practice success and they practice correcting judgement errors.  In a short time, Devin will not  be the one riding Rainier and he needs to know how to set himself up for success as well.  In the process of teaching jumping skills, she is also working on his decision making skills.  She allows him to get things “wrong” sometimes and the quickly shows him the correction.    Errors are always corrected, but never condemned.  Through this process, Rainier not only strengthens his jumping skills, he also strengthens his decision making skills.  The same sort of process unfolds during his flat work training.  In the beginning, right leads for the canter were difficult for him, not surprisingly considering he was just off the track. Horses, it seems are much like people, and prefer to work on what’s easy, both physically and mentally. Over the course of the last few weeks, Rainier has not only learned to pick up his right lead, but he has also learned his flying changes. Devin encouraged Rainier to push beyond his training “plateaus” and challenged him to deepen his skill set.  By correcting his errors without condemning them, Rainier has become an even a better thinker on his feet.

KB-Trot-2Kristin Brenner’s First Ride on Rainier

Knowing what lays ahead for Rainier as the 100 days of training winds down, Devin has begun testing  his knowledge by allowing other people to ride him. In the last week, 2 different riders, of different ages and skill levels, successfully rode him, each one having a good experience.  As usual, Rainier took the variable of new riders in his stride and made good decisions.  Being able to adapt to different riders demonstrates that Rainier is able to transfer and apply the skills he has learned with Devin.  His new skills are sticking and becoming an integrated part of him. If the rider is a different size or build from Devin, Rainier can still figure out what is being asked of him.  Both people who rode him last week commented on safe they felt with him and how responsive he is to a rider’s commands.

Watching Rainier progress and learn over the past 85 days has been an inspiration.  Those of us watching can take our own life lessons away from the experience.  While his beauty still captivates us, his mind is his power.

The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas,
never returns to its original size.

~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Watching-LessonsView Summer Snow on Dream Horse:

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Show Time!

Show-Ribbon-FaceSummer Snow’s First Hunter Derby

  • Devin’s Comments:

    Rainier, oh excuse me, Summer Snow, exceeded all expectations for his first show.  We were a bit late to enter him in the cross rail division, but no matter, the two foot hunter derby was well within his comfort zone.  He was steady in the flat class, honest and willing over fences, and as relaxed as a horse could get tied to the trailer for several hours waiting for me to finish coaching.  The first show for a green horse is always a big question mark, and the day could have been simply a haul in, walk around, watch, and haul out, but Rainier was the same horse at the show that he is at home, and made it even more clear what an exceptional mind and level headed personality he has.  That combined with his gradual education on the flat and over many varieties of fences made for a super successful day over fairly technical courses and spooky fences.  The judge liked him, and said he looked like he had scope and a very good mind, just that he was green.  When I told her his story, she was really impressed how far along he was in such a short time!  To those who are interested in him, he is now available for sale, and you can influence the last month of training before the show on October 5th if you have a particular sport in mind for the big grey guy! Special thanks to Hydie Lown for sponsoring Rainier’s entries at the Derby at Wildtree Farm in Yoncolla, OR. Show-Riding-Smile

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Someone New

Trail-PortraitThere comes a point in a horse’s training when the trainer needs to step aside and assess what skills the horse is able to transfer to another rider.  It is one thing for a horse to be able to perform for the trainer, but it is quite another for the horse to demonstrate the same skill level with a new rider aboard.  This past weekend Summer Snow (Rainier) got a chance to demonstrate his talents with a different rider, Carolyn, one of Devin’s more advanced students, on a trail ride.

Trailer-TiedTrailering over to the park was no big deal to Rainier.  He loads and unloads easily.  He “loads, clips, and baths” as the saying goes.  He also stand patiently tied to the trailer watching what is going on around him.  There are other horses and trailers in the parking lot for him to notice and observe.

Carolyn-Tack-TrailerDevin was getting her own horse, Beaty, ready while Carolyn tacked up Rainier.  Rainier is pretty tall, close to 17 hands we estimate, so Carolyn had to stretch up tall to get him saddled!  But as usual, Rainier stood patiently throughout the process of putting on the saddle, boots, and bridle.

Carolyn-Tack-AdjustmentAfter mounting, Carolyn needed to make a slight adjustment to the girth tightness, and Rainier stood quietly while she did what she needed to do.  Impressive!


And they were ready to hit the trail!

Walking nicely down the path.

The park we ride in has a variety of different conditions and obstacles for the horses to enjoy, plus a couple of “spooky” areas full of shadows and animals.  You never know when a deer will appear, and people claim there is a herd of elk that live there as well.

Trail-1One area that frequently causes horses to spook or get excited is this area. A horse must head down a steepish path into a densely wooded area and then come right back up the other side.  A lot of horses like to rush through this section of the trail.  Devin led the way for safety sake, but it turned out Rainier was happy just to calmly walk in and out of this section.

Trail-2Rainier was very confident on the ride, so Devin and Carolyn took turns leading on the trail.  Either way was find with Rainier.  He didn’t rush or push up on the other horse.  He was happy to walk about on the sunny afternoon sharing good times with friends.  These trails are lined with blackberry bushes, so the real test of trail control is can you pick a blackberry from you horse’s back?

Trail-Berry-PickerCarolyn spotted a chance to snag a blackberry and took it!




But true friends share, so she offered Rainier a taste of what she had captured. He wasn’t too sure about blackberries… but he wasn’t afraid to check them out and stand for Carolyn to pick what she wanted.


Next on the agenda… the water crossing.  It was a hot summer day and the water looked appealing. The crossing isn’t too deep right now from all our dry weather, but the river rocks are still slippery and take some getting used to and you wobble around trying to navigate the stream. Trail-Water-1


Rainier navigated the situation without any issues.  His confidence has grown a lot since the first time he crossed this stream.  No shaking in his boots this time!  Trail-Water-Conformation



It was a great day to stand around in the water… and Rainier was comfortable with his new rider aboard for the ride.  I left the journey at this point, but Devin tells me the rest of the ride was just as great.  Rainier did some trotting and cantering along the way and never rushed or tried to race his trail buddy, Beaty.  Both horses are OTTB’s, so it could have been quite a race if they weren’t both so well behaved.

Trail-Head-ShotDevin said this ride went so well that the next day she took her young, 14 year old working student out for a trail ride on Rainier.  Again, he was calm. cool, and collected. Rainier is demonstrating how much he has learned and how he can transfer that knowledge to knew situations and riders.  Imagine what he will be like when he has a person to call his own!

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First 4 Weeks: A Photographic Review

How much can an OTTB learn in the first four weeks of training?  Here is a look back over Summer Snow’s (Rainier) journey through the lens of my camera.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, Rainier is getting pretty valuable!

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