Category Archives: baby horse

The Sensitive Baby

A few posts back I mentioned that somehow, despite my best efforts, I had ended up with a sensitive horse. And, surprising even myself, I am really enjoying the problem solving that goes along with starting a sensitive horse.

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I have little applicable media, so enjoy pics of when my Dad visited last week and met June for the first time

Now, here’s what I mean by problem solving, and sensitive:

This weekend, I hopped on June and she was feeling good. In front of the leg, and ready to work. I wanted to work on bend, especially going right, but I noticed she kept breaking to the canter instead of bending in the trot.

So, we did some trot/walk transitions. But, lo and behold, she continued to want to canter rather than bend.

In the past, I probably would have found this really annoying. But during this particular ride, I tried to figure out why she was breaking to the canter and how to “fix” it.

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I put my Dad to work adjusting her new blanket liner. It’s purple of course. Also, I need to do a review of the Porta Grazer!

At first, I attributed it to anxiousness. But, while she was forward and wanting to work, she was also fine to just walk, so “being anxious” or trying to anticipate the canter, didn’t totally seem to make sense to me.

I decided to really think about what my body was doing when I asked her to bend right.

My leg went on, and I asked for some right flexion.

Wait. My leg went on.Why wasn’t it on before?

I soon realized, I was asking for bend with my calf. Which prior to asking, was not on. I was putting my calf on, pretty forcibly, when I wanted to ask for bend.

So, I stopped doing that.

I asked for bend from my thigh and knee, and kept my calf from pushing into her.

And guess what? She gave me bend without breaking into the canter.

I’m a genius.

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I have zero idea why I was posing like this except that I must have known I would need an “I’m a genius” picture

So, my sensitive mare understands the difference between asking from my calf and asking from my thigh. Which means I need to get better at asking from different parts of my leg.

And despite the fact that this took a good part of our ride to figure out, she tolerated me confusing her. She tolerated the fact that I kept asking her to canter with my calf and then immediately asking her to trot. She was a very good sport about all of it. Which is all I can ask of her. My hope is, she’ll continue to be patient with me.

Although it does worry me that my horse is already teaching me things. Even though she is supposed to be the green baby… lol.

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Macy gave my Dad her typical super friendly greeting. I closed my eyes and prayed she wouldn’t bite him

So much learning with this youngster. Every ride I learn something new, and I can’t even describe how fun it is!

 

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Best Yet

I was really really excited to write a recap on my most recent jump lesson. But work has been busy, and I have family coming into town tomorrow and I just can’t settle down enough to write a thoughtful play by play.

So, instead, you’re getting a recap through pictures. But just know this. It was super fun, and left me with so much homework. But I am so incredibly excited about June’s potential.

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We cantered over two poles to a jump. I had to work really hard to maintain rhythm. June was like a torpedo to the jumps

At first it was just a simple crossrail. But June wanted to pull me along to it, so I had to work really hard on keeping the uphill balance and not letting her take over.

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She was just like “easy, peasy, yawn, what’s next?” Meanwhile I was trying to remember how to jump and do a million other things

We had to work off the left and right, and our right lead canter has been, well, less than stellar, or consistent, but I was really happy with how we were able to work within the canter in this lesson and actually make some changes. Progress!

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Sometimes June took the long spot. Especially when she would take over and drag me down the line

But I worked and worked on getting this to improve. I wasn’t making changes quick enough, or insisting soon enough, but it got better as the lesson progressed.

And then, the crossrail became a vertical (yes it’s a vertical in the last photo but ignore that). June and I have never jumped a vertical before! So exciting!!

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Lets just say it was no problem for her

Going left I could get a fairly adjustable canter. Going right, well, we had to go right a few more times than left, but in the end it was far better than in the beginning.

And June just kept jumping out of her skin!

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I think she likes jumping.

June is just a natural jumper. It was so easy for her. Which meant I had to work hard on getting her to the first pole and not letting her drag me past our distance. I had to work on keeping her in an uphill frame. I had to keep my elbows moving and my leg from clamping (less successful with this..). My take away was that I can expect more from her than I was. I need to instill what I want from the get go, cause June is pretty sure she doesn’t need any help from me.

At the end I asked Sarah how high the jump was. 2′? 2’3? She paused and got the measuring stick. Almost 2’6! What??? We went from jumping crossrails to jumping 2’6 and I had zero fear, zero trepidation and it was SO FUN.

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Because I have the best friend ever, I asked her to stand next to the jump and look excited. And she did! And June just posed naturally, lol.

I think I have been grinning ear to ear ever since.

But OMG so much to work on. And I am SO EXCITED!!!

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Plans for 2019

The fact that I have a horse, that I am riding, and able to compete with, it’s beyond exciting for me. Considering the last two seasons, I either had a horse who was semi retired and not really sound enough to make plans with, or I had a horse who was too young to ride. But this year, even if none of these plans come to fruition, the fact that I have a horse I can go out and do things with? OMG I am so excited.

So, what’s the plan for the baby monkey? Well, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. I feel like this past summer and fall we worked hard to get her out and about so that this year, we hopefully can have a horse who is comfortable in new places and understands we are there to work. I plan on getting her out as much as possible this spring to new places as well. More trail riding (to help with fitness too), more small schooling shows, and hopefully lots more time out on xc.

But, because I am a Planner with a capital P, I’ve started working through 2019 month by month. Which seems like testing fate, right? But see first paragraph in this post. I am fully aware much of this might not happen. I just want to PLAN it, because that is SO MUCH FUN. Plus, she’s a green bean. Things might change drastically if she can’t handle the work I am asking of her or if she progresses faster than expected.

So, while I apologize that this post may be more for me than my readers, hopefully you’ll enjoy getting a glimpse into how I’ll be handling June’s first competition season! I also, (more for me, but maybe interesting to you?) added some notes on how I want to prepare and some expectations for each event listed.

January 2019:

1/26: Our first mounted lesson with a different instructor! We have a jump clinic/lesson scheduled with Gary Mittleider at our barn.

Prep: I’ve scheduled a few more lessons in December and January than normal so that hopefully we can go into this lesson ready for what’s asked of us. I hope to work on our steering and keeping the same rhythm to the base of the jump. Also, we should work on cantering to a jump a bit more…

February 2019

2/2: NWWJS Jumper Show I’ve had to scratch from this low key jumper show twice already. Once because of June’s ulcers (it was two days after they were diagnosed and I didn’t want to make her travel) and again in January because my family are coming to visit. So, I am REALLY hopeful we will go in February. It’s about 2.5 hours away, so in the winter, weather is a variable as well.

Prep: See prep for Gary Mittleider clinic. At this point I want to be comfortable cantering fences. I’d also like to be jumping 2′? Also, I want to remember to use this jump show as a schooling experience. If she gets fast and unresponsive, it’s not above me to ask her to walk during parts of the course. Must remember this is a teaching experience.

2/9: Test of Choice Dressage Show Another in barn experience. I am hoping to sign up for BN A test. But, that means cantering. And right now, while I write this, all I can picture is how braced, disconnected and horrible our canter feels. So, we’ve got a lot of work!

Prep: Beginning yesterday, start working on the canter. Just ask for forward to begin with. After you get forward, work on some connection in addition to forward. Work the canter in lessons so you can feel more and more comfortable with what you are asking of June. Also keep working on connection and June working into the bridle. She loves to jump, so dressage takes some serious patience. BE PATIENT.

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She can do dressage, it’s just a question of if she wants to

March 2019

3/9: NWWJS Jumper Show Again, lets hope we can go. If we can, maybe we are jumping 2′ and 2’3? Or two very well executed 2′ classes.

Prep: Lots of work over jumps and approaching jumps and maintaining rhythm.

3/23: Wasatch Ice Breaker Show One of my favorite schooling shows for the mere fact that it is well run and super laid back. I’m hoping to hop into the dressage arena for a BN test as well as do a couple of stadium rounds. I may be there by myself, so will probably ride conservatively.

Prep:  Start working on movements within the test and trying to refine them. Take what I’ve learned from the schooling shows this winter and apply that knowledge to these rounds. This will be a much larger arena, so I need to work on maintaining rhythm and keeping June in front of my leg for longer periods of time.

April 2019

4/20&4/21 Wasatch Spring Fling Show Same venue as in March, but this time they add a xc element. So, dressage and SJ on Saturday and xc rounds on Sunday. From what I remember you can mix and match, so you can jump levels higher than your dressage test etc. If you want to compete in one division, like a true derby, you can also do that. I think I will probably mix and match? I’m not sure yet where we’ll be

Prep: Well somehow, in Idaho, I’m going to have to go get out on cross country prior to this show. Luckily we have a local schooling facility. Unfortunately the footing isn’t always great in early April. So, we’ll have to figure something out. Otherwise I can enter groundpoles and just use the experience to get June out the start box and into water.

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She needs to get used to all that water splashing around

May 2019 (where things start to go full steam ahead)

5/3-5/5 Skyline Horse Trials This is a recognized event at a very inviting facility about 6 hours away. I would be going Intro. I’m not sure I want to drive 6 hours and pay to go Intro at a recognized event. On the other hand, it could be a great experience for June. On the other, other hand, schooling shows are also great experiences and I should probably re-route to those. This is really early in the year.

Prep: Everything I have been doing x 10

5/25 Chicken Event This is probably the wiser choice. A one day, unrecognized event that is about 3.5-4 hours away. Totally appropriate for us.

Prep: Feel comfortable on xc. Know what I need to work on when June and I are out there. Feel polished and prepared for SJ and Dressage. Figure out our show outfit.

5/31-6/2 Equestrian’s Institute Horse Trials If for some reason the Chicken Event doesn’t pan out time wise, I can re-route to this event. About 7 hours away, also a recognized event, would also be going Intro. But gives me more time to feel prepared.

Prep: Save my money and work my ass off. I am not going to a recognized event this far away only to have it not go great (i.e not get around xc or have June jump out of dressage arena). So, if I go, I need to feel really prepared and ready.

June 2019

6/8-6/9 Hawley Bennett Clinic Deposit has been placed and I am really hopeful we will go to this SJ clinic. It’s about 4 hours away, so another road trip for June which means I will be spending a lot of money on Ulcergard. I’ll have to see how she is feeling in May- it probably isn’t a wise choice to do a recognized HT the weekend before a clinic.

Prep: I want to be polished and prepared. Ideally, we’d be in a BN group. Which means I can jump courses at a canter, our steering is on point, and we look like a BN worthy team.

6/15-6/16 Golden Spike Recognized Event This is only on the table if the clinic and the recognized event prior to it didn’t happen. Otherwise, that’s way too much traveling for June. But, it is at the same location as the Chicken Event (this time just a USEA event) so it would be nice to come back and see how it goes a second time.

Prep: If I come to this event it means others didn’t happen. So, I need to reassess why those didn’t happen and have a good plan going into this one.

6/28-6/30 Inavale Horse Trials This one’s a pipe dream. But Inavale is my most favorite event in the entire world. So, to be able to go back and compete would make me so happy. But, it’s a 12 hour drive, and there ain’t no way I’m taking June 12 hours to go Intro. So, unless we’re rocking BN, this ain’t happening. So sad.

Prep: Um, well, in order to go to this we will have exceeded all expectations up to this point. So, keep doing what we are doing.

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So puurrtttyyyy

July 2019

I have ZERO on the table for July. Which is ok. My pony and wallet can probably use a break

August 2019

8/10-8/11 Sizzling Summer Show Same as the derby style show in April at the same venue

Prep: This will be my final show prep before what I hope is my debut at BN at a recognized show. So, we better be rocking it at this level. Or, at least feel confident that throwing money and travel time at this level is a good idea.

September 2019

9/7 Pumpkin Event  If I am going to this one day unrecognized event, it means things did not go as planned, and I am sad.

Prep: Well, clearly we had a hitch in our plans and I just need to keep working hard

9/13-15 Skyline Horse Trials Back to Utah for our first foray into BN at a recognized event. This event is fun because they have just about every type of jump on xc so you really get the xc experience. I don’t want to drive 6 hours and just jump a bunch of logs. Or maybe I do? It’ll be fun to freak out at jumping BN jumps.

Prep: We had better be: consistent (ish) in the bridle, making lovely 20 meter circles. I need to have a brave horse who has spent time on xc and understands what is being asked of her. And she needs to be listening to my aids, and I better be executing them well, in the SJ arena.

October 2019

10/13 Sawtooth Pony Club Jumper Show Another low key, home barn jumper show. I hope to have some smooth rounds and may even participate in the costume contest?

Prep: An organized round where I’m thinking ahead and feeling good in the SJ ring can only be attained if we have done our homework up to this point.

10/20 IRELAND!! After canceling the trip in 2018 because of, well, Stella, we’re headed back in 2019! Foxhunting and jumping cross country jumps to my heart’s delight!! Plus, June will enjoy some time off!

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Dublin, the original Irish horse in my life

November and December 2019

Not much on the books for these months yet. I’ll have to see where we are at and what is going on. It may be a nice time to just bring June back from a mini vacation (since she isn’t going to Ireland..) and get to work on all the holes in our training.

Looks like it’s going to be a fun year!!

 

 

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A Christmas Surprise

Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you had a great holiday season and were able to spend time with those you love (2 or 4 legged!)

I spent the 24th with family, which is our tradition, which meant the 25th was a day for me to do what I pleased. And while I had plans to spend part of the day with friends, and part of the day walking Shelter dogs, I had the morning to myself.

Which meant, after a nice run, I could ride both of my favorite grey mares!

I hadn’t ridden Georgie in a few weeks, but Sarah asked me to hop on her and tune her up for an older gentleman who takes dressage lessons on her. I was happy to have the chance to hop on her!

I started with June and she was full of it. Not in a bad way, just in a baby horse way. She wanted to root and run through my hand. She wanted to act spooky at one end of the arena. She wanted to skip trotting and get to cantering.

We worked through all of it and it was actually really fun. We’d get a lovely rhythmic trot and she’d start rooting. We’d work on that and she would get spooky. Oh baby horse, so many tricks to get out of work! In the end we had some lovely moments. I love how forward she is, and honestly, love how easy the work is for her. She’s still a baby and so so green, but she clearly has so much talent and if I can harness that, I really think we can have years of fun ahead of us. By the end of the ride we were both sweating, but had accomplished a lot, and I called it a day.

Cute barn cat Willie dressed up in a red bow

While June cooled off, I hopped on Georgie. Georgie will always be my heart horse. Let me start by saying that. She is safe and uncomplicated and she and I have had so much fun together. I have so much love for her and am so lucky she is a part of my life.

Always makes me smile

But, oh my God, riding her and “tuning her up” was more of a workout than I expected. She’s gotten heavy and hard in the mouth. She’s been allowed to go around on her forehand for so long now, that asking her to go in an uphill frame with impulsion was a true test of my fitness (and hers). I spent the entire ride just getting her to come up off of her forehand. We worked on keeping her uphill through corners while not losing impulsion. I worked my butt off to get her to canter over two ground poles, two strides apart, and not letting her fall on her forehand on the backside. She seems to have lost the concept of bend, so we had a conversation about it.

By the end of the ride she was forward, bending, and somewhat uphill. I was dripping in sweat.

As we both cooled off, I thought to myself “Well, if I’m being honest, I enjoyed riding June more than Georgie.”

And if that’s not a Christmas surprise, I don’t know what is. I’m sure the next time June throws me into next week I’ll be singing a different tune, but for now, I’m really appreciating all that is baby June.

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When a Pony Ride Cures What Ails You

I had a really craptastic day Tuesday. After getting some really bad news about a family member, I went out to my car and found this:

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God Damn you, Siri. I had started letting her out of her crate when she was in the car because she had been doing SO WELL. We were about 6 months post crate when she decided the passenger seat of my Subaru was really tasty. I about lost it and considered just leaving her in the parking lot and driving away.

But, instead, I put her in her crate in my car and drove to the barn. Being sad while also fuming is a weird emotion to try to describe. I tried my best to let it all go, as I had a jump lesson on June in 60 minutes.

Thirty minutes later, as I was tacking up June, I was still a bit of a sad/angry mess. So, before starting to lunge June, I asked Sarah if one of two things would be possible. I explained my current state and how I really didn’t want to get on June and have an explosion of emotion. So, would she consider riding June? And if that wasn’t ideal, could we just jump a grid or something simple where I didn’t have to think “turn here, remember your course?”

Sarah was game to ride June, but also game to set up a straightforward jump exercise. Since June has been feeling great, and I really, really, wanted to ride, I decided to hop on her.

And I am so glad I did.

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So happy with herself

We’re almost three weeks into the Gastrogard and for the last couple of rides, June has felt like a different horse. She is calm on the lunge line, but really forward under saddle. It’s really lovely. She used to be a bit of a kick ride, but recently I’m having to execute half halts and do lots and lots of transitions to get her to listen to me and not just trot as fast as she can. I never knew I would enjoy a forward horse this much, but it’s been really fun. Also, the buck, while I am sure it is still in there, seems to have gone on vacation. I ask for the canter and she canters. Our transitions are smooth and just not an issue.

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We even worked on cantering a circle over this pole all on our own!

Excited to do some jumping in our lesson, we started by working on maintaining a nice rhythm as well as staying straight through a set of poles on the ground. Sarah brought two flower boxes out and set them up at the third pole in the line. She asked me to walk up and over it. June’s ears shot forward as we approached it but she didn’t waiver. After doing this a couple of times in each direction we then approached it at the trot. She gave it some room as she jumped over, but it was calm and lovely. She landed in the canter and was easy to bring back to the trot.

As the lesson progressed, June got a bit stronger in the bridle. She began to anticipate the jump and would quicken through the turn and hollow as we approached. So, as often happens with green horses, we stopped worrying about a jump lesson, and instead worked on remaining calm with a consistent rhythm. And while I love that June appears to love jumping, the last thing I want is a horse who is like “WE JUMP NOW! MUST GET TO THE JUMP!” And moderately loses its mind. Instead, I want a horse who thinks “We’re jumping? YAY! Ok, fine, I’ll maintain this rhythm, ok, I’m adjustable, ok, fine, your way works.” That’s the hope, right? We worked a bunch on approaching the line of poles to the jump in a walk, trot, circling, and just asking her to relax and listen to what I was asking. In the end, I have to say, she was really great and I am loving this forward horse I have, especially as she begins to listen to my aids and understand what I am asking of her.

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I’m also loving how she just voluntarily stands for a conformation shot

Our second to last time over the flower boxes she did this funny little hop on the backside. I wouldn’t call it a buck, or even a kick, it was more like she was trying to swap leads and just hopped. Instead of pulling and clamping  I laughed and just kept going. Guys, I didn’t freak out that she was going to buck. Sarah, asked me to come through the line one more time. So, we came back to the trot, appoached the line calmly without having to circle first,  jumped the flower boxes, and cantered on the back side without issue. It’s like if I stay calm, she stays calm.

This ride, although simple, was the highlight of my day. If I can ride June this calmly even when my mind is racing, it must mean that she makes me happy. Because even when we had to work through her hollowing and quickening, nothing escalated. We just slowly worked on understanding what was expected. She never got pissy or naughty. She just acted like a green horse. And I reacted kindly and fairly. And it was SO FUN.

Sometimes, a ride on your pony really is what helps.

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June’s Dressage Foundation

June’s dressage work has begun in earnest, and I thought it would be interesting to share our progress thus far.

Someone once said to me that dressage is similar to Pilates for humans. Essentially, we’re building core strength, so our horse can become more flexible and supple for whatever we are going to ask of them. If you have no core strength in either Pilates or dressage, you have no foundation, and doing anything that is asked of you is that much more difficult. And I don’t know about any of you, but if I don’t have a solid core for Pilates work, I start taking short cuts. And these shortcuts do nothing to help me become strong enough to do what is being asked of me. Again, I think this is very similar to dressage. And while some may say dressage isn’t as thrilling as jumping, I tend to disagree. While I don’t get the adrenaline rush from dressage that I do from jumping, feeling my horse work underneath me, from very simple aids, is actually quite thrilling, and quite amazing to me.

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Seeing this happen was really, really thrilling

So, June. My number one goal with her has always been to make sure she is fit enough to do what I am asking. This is why, in the beginning, I focused solely on getting miles on her. Sure, I had to work on the simplest of simple things, like go forward, woah, and turn. But we also worked on what my leg meant, especially what different leg aids meant. And then we added the trot, and I started getting her used to finding her balance with me bouncing around on her back. We began working on walk/halt transitions where she couldn’t halt in a hollow frame. Everything had to be coming back to front. This is a work in progress. As you can imagine. It’s far easier to halt, throw your head up, hollow your back and use zero ab muscles. But, with time, we are getting to where June naturally steps into the halt using her abs and her back doesn’t hollow. Is this thrilling work? No, but it is fascinating to me to see how capable she is of the work, and how all the pieces are coming together.

I’m going to refer to our old friend the Dressage Pyramid again:

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While I don’t think the Dressage Pyramid must be worked on from top to bottom at all times (some days you’re going to have impulsion without much rhythm), I do think it is really helpful when starting a young horse. For example, June and I spent weeks (and still work on it..) just on Rhythm. Getting her to walk and trot in one rhythmic pace was nearly impossible for her in the beginning. And again, when I began asking more from her, for example, when I began working on connection, rhythm went out the window as she tried speeding up and slowing down as tactics to not have to engage her abs. So, Rhythm was our goal, and some rides, continues to be our goal.

Relaxation is a funny one too. There is a reason it is near the beginning of the Pyramid. When June is relaxed and focused, we can get so much more work done. You need a relaxed horse in order to get that work from behind. In my experience, when she is not relaxed I go back to that hollow, un supple horse, who is not fun to ride.

And, we’ve just begun working on connection. I probably took longer to get to working on connection than many people do, but I don’t regret it. Especially when I see how easy it is for June, now that she has a good base of fitness, understands my aids, and she is strong enough to properly execute what is being asked of her. No short cuts for her!

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Maybe one day she’ll look as good as her Daddy

We’ve done quite a bit of work in side reins prior to me ever asking for connection on her back. Months of slowly shortening the side reins. I didn’t want to overwhelm her, or scare her, and again, I wanted her to be strong enough for the next step at all times. This has helped her get a strong core, so that, when I got on her back and asked for a leg to hand connection, it was there. At first, only for a few steps, but with each ride it is getting better and better. Two weeks ago I was complaining that our downward transitions were crap, and just recently I asked for a downward and was shocked at how she kept the connection and stepped into the transition, rather than hollowing.

June isn’t even 4 1/2 years old yet, and it is really important to me not to push her too quickly, especially since so far she has responded so well to the work at hand. And while some horses mature faster than others, and can handle a bit more pressure, I honestly don’t think I would start a horse differently than I have with her. As an athlete myself, I can’t imagine being asked to do something I am physically not strong enough to do yet. Sure, we need to push ourselves occasionally, but if we push ourselves prior to having a good foundation, that’s where I believe we start to see injuries and problems.

Obviously this is all personal opinion, and there are a hundred ways to start a horse. However, there’s no harm in seeing what has worked for people, or understanding their approach, even if it’s not the way you do things. My hope is I continue to learn as much as June during this process and we’re a capable and strong team for may years to come.

 

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What A Week!

June got put through ALL her paces this past week, and I’ve got to admit, I am very proud of how she stepped up to the plate.

On Tuesday, she had her first lesson since returning. I had Trainer Sarah hop on her first-I wanted Sarah to have a clear idea of where June was at and what we needed to work on. Sarah worked her hard. She didn’t let June get away with anything, and while June kept trying different tactics, (which will be a post of its own) in the end, June was willing and tried hard.

And then, Sarah handed the reins to me. And all I could think was “You want me to get on her after you just worked her hard? Great. She’s going to buck me into next week.” I mean, that was pretty much the MO of our last ride. She got tired, I made her keep working, and she said “NO THANK YOU.” (That loudly..)

But I hopped on her and I got this.

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Sorry for the blurry screenshot, but you get the idea…

She went to work and really, really, impressed me. We worked for about 20 minutes and I got a feel for all her evasion tactics, but also got a glimpse of what things would be like in the future. And I am really,really, excited.

Next up was trail ride with my friend Haley and her talented and adorable OTTB Tommy. This would be a tough ride for June. Lots of hills and lots of tough terrain. It was also her first trail ride with me back in the saddle since her return. She loaded up easily (and has even been granted her hay bag back so she can eat out of that instead of a hay net) and after a quick lunge at the trail head, we were off.

She was basically perfect.

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Incredible views

She led, followed, thought about where she was putting her feet, ignored Siri running around, and even crossed a stream! I was thrilled with her.

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I hoped she was tired, because the day wasn’t over for her yet.

When we got back to the barn, Haley and I brought our horses into the indoor arena and got ready for a time-honored fall tradition.

Clipping.

I’ve clipped June’s bridle path, and de-sensitized her to the sound and feel of clippers, but this would be her first time getting body clipped. I soon realized I didn’t have an extra extension cord and that she would just have to ground tie. So, expecting the worst, I got started. And she stood there, back foot cocked, not moving for about 3/4 of the entire experience. She got a little antsy at the end, especially since Tommy was also done, so we have some finish work to do. But honestly, I clipped her head, belly, flank,and had zero issues. She couldn’t have been easier. Um, she was better than Georgie. But don’t tell anyone I said that.

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I think she likes her trace clip…

And then, to end the week, I agreed to help out with Drill Team. You may remember I did this with Georgie a couple of years ago.  It’s kind of organized insanity. Lots of horses, flags, more horses, and lots of riding in pairs.

June was a little skeptical. Not about the flags flying by her, but by horses getting too close to her. She made it clear she likes her personal space.

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Flag flying around behind her? No big deal. Horse wanting to befriend her? Skeptical.

She was, once again, a really, really, good sport for all of it. We did some “pattern” work and her biggest challenge was slowing down for her partner, a western pleasure horse who was in no hurry.

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See that paint behind us? That’s our partner who had some trouble keeping up….

I’m hopeful drill makes a warm up arena seem like no big deal.

It was quite a week for this baby horse’s brain, and I think she proved to me just how capable she is of being a big girl!

 

 

 

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Back In Business Part 2

When I arrived at the barn the day following June’s vet visit, I had already heard from barn management that she happily ate all her breakfast. I had relayed very specific instructions about PM feeding, but when I arrived, they hadn’t been implemented, which put me into a bit of a tizzy. But, in taking June out for a walk, to assess how she was feeling, I realized all would be well. Back to her usual antics, she immediately tried to pull me over to the grass pasture as we walked the property.

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Back to normal!

And then, as we got farther away from the barn, the wind picked up, and June started to feel a bit fresh. When the neighbor’s horses whinnied to her, she about lost her mind and began fancy prancing with her tail over her back, as if she was now a Paso Fino.

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Mom do you hear them? They are calling for MEEEEEE

While I had strict instructions to just take her out for walks for a couple of days before putting her back into work, I knew mare had some steam to blow. And rather than have her get silly in her paddock, I decided to let her blow it off in the large outdoor arena.

Oh I am glad I did

After that, I knew she was really feeling back to normal. As Amelia from Dark Jewel Designs said after seeing the video “What do you think when she does that? Yay she is feeling better or oh crap I have to ride that?”

Definitely a mix of both???? lol

Fortunately, when I rode her a couple of days later, she was a very good girl. I didn’t ask for much at all, we mainly just walked around and then picked up the trot for maybe 5-10 minutes. I had lunged her beforehand, and she was forward but not silly, always a good sign. In the trot under saddle she would reach for the contact and while it was inconsistent, I was happy she remembered a bit about leg to hand and what the expectation is.

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Thanks to Michelle at Fat Buckskin in a Little Suit I have a new barn coat to keep me warm!

I’m excited to be back at it with her and hopefully we’ll enter a schooling dressage show next month!

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Back in Business. Until We’re Not.

A week ago I made the drive to pick up June and bring her home. I would be bringing her home in my new to me trailer and was nervous, as she had only driven in it twice, and those were very short trips. This would be a solid 5 hour drive. But, she seemed comfortable in the trailer thus far, and fingers were crossed we wouldn’t have any issues.

When I arrived to pick her up she was happily eating hay with the other horses. She heard my voice as I approached her and she turned, pricked her ears and looked at me. While she didn’t come running to me, it was cute that she recognized my voice and didn’t run away.

She loaded right up and we were headed out. My truck pulls the trailer incredibly well, and the stabilizer bars on the hitch seem to really help. I didn’t feel any shifting in the trailer, and unlike most times when I haul her, I allowed myself to relax a bit. I stopped about 3.5 hours into the drive to get fuel and check on June. She was happy and comfortable. While she did paw a bit once I opened the door, she wasn’t wide eyed or frantic. Success! I have to say, I’m really in love with this trailer! And it seems June is too!

Her first week back started out well. She had been living on about 50 acres, and while I imagine she did quite a bit of walking around, she’s pretty, um, plump, so I figured she’s pretty unfit. Tuesday I did some round pen work and she was very good. She definitely got bored quickly, but I didn’t ask too much of her in her first day. Wednesday I just ran her around the arena and spent some time grooming her. She got Thursday off, and Friday we went for our first ponying trail ride!

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She and Siri had a quick discussion

Thanks to my friend Meg, I rode Smokey and ponied June. June was really, really, good. Not a foot out of place, and she soon realized Smokey needed her space and wasn’t messing around. I was really happy about the entire experience and think June enjoyed herself.

On Saturday I stopped by the barn after work, so everyone had left for the day. June was in her shelter despite there being hay in her feed tub. June is typically a hoover, so I was surprised she wasn’t eating. I took her for a walk over to one of the alfalfa fields to see if she’d want to eat. She didn’t, which was unusual. Highly unusual.

I brought her to the indoor to see how she would do on the lunge line. She pooped right when we got in, which is normal for her, and stood quietly as I groomed her. She was ok on the lunge line, but a bit lazy. When I took her back to her pen, she went right to her feed tub. I watched her for a moment and figured I would get a call if she was off in the morning.

I didn’t get a call and so I was surprised to show up and once again find June in her shelter and hay strewn everywhere. Clearly she had not been eating.

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Hmm… suspicious

I called the barn manager and she agreed that June hadn’t been eating well. Frustrated that no one had thought was strange, I called the vet. Because I really missed emergency vet visits.

The vet arrived and initial exam showed good gut sounds on the left, but not the right.  Normal heart and respiratory rate. The veterinarian sedated June and gave her Banamine IV. Fecal exam had some dry feces at first, with softer, more normal feces further down. Then she had a naso gastric tube inserted so she could get all sorts of goodies pumped into her. She was a good, dopey mare for all of it

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I was instructed to remove all hay from her paddock and see if she would eat a flake in the AM. She was already much brighter heading back to her paddock, whinnying to her friends and stepping out. She was PISSED when I tied her so I could remove the hay, and when I untied her she immediately went to her feed tub and then looked at me like “mom! WTH!”

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A much happier June walking back to her paddock

I’ve given instructions to the barn’s staff to call me if she doesn’t have an appetite in the AM, but I think (as does the veterinarian) it was a mild impaction, and we are on the road to recovery. Poor mare got hauled here, put back into (light) work, new hay, new feeding schedule, all sorts of weather changes and she can’t walk and graze all day long like she was. Sort of the recipe for a colic. The biggest bummer is that I hadn’t started her on Smartpak’s Colic Care yet, so now will have to wait a year in order to sign her up for the program. (If they have a record of colic, they need to be colic free for a year prior to signing up for the benefits). I’m considering getting her insured sooner rather than later, and am considering insuring her for major medical rather than going the ColicCare route. Any thoughts about experiences with great insurance would be appreciated!

So there you have it! June’s first week back was anything but boring. I’m hoping to get back in the saddle for some walk rides this week, and hoping we will pick up where we left off (minus the falling off) again soon!

 

 

 

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Constructing a Plan

In one week, June will be back home. I’m feeling so much better, and while not 100% better, I feel ready for baby horse again.

I’ve been trying to figure out my plan for her once she returns. My guess is she will have enjoyed her break, but be ready to get back into work.

Please be ready for this June

But before we get back to where we left off, I want to make sure she is fit enough for it. Ideally, lots of long walks in the hills to build up fitness. But taking June on trail rides isn’t that easy.

But yesterday gave me what I hope is a brilliant idea. See, I spent yesterday on a trail ride.

I got to ride the adorable Smokey, and there were about 12 horses on this trail ride. I was thankful to have such a solid trail horse.

But, my great idea came to me before the trail ride even started.

I trailered Smokey and Eleanor, my friend Meg’s adorable draft cross, to meet the group. They were both perfect angels in my trailer and it was so fun to be able to trailer horses again!

I had to pony Eleanor up to the group so Sarah could ride her and Smokey was an absolute rock star letting me pony Smokey off of her.

Hmm. My wheels started turning… Maybe Smokey wouldn’t mind if I ponied a certain grey pony off of her.

So, I ran the idea by Meg and she had a better idea. What if we bring both Smokey and Eleanor and see if either would let June be ponied? And then I thought of another great idea. What if we bring Georgie and Eleanor and see if either of THEM would allow June to be ponied off of them? Or, the first time try Smokey and Eleanor and next time Georgie and whomever?

I mean, my point is… I have options! And I get to go on trail rides with a friend and great horses. So, win/win/win, right?

Anyhow, now I am even MORE excited for June to come home!

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