Category Archives: green horses

Learning to Chill

In my last lesson with Trainer Dana and June, I proudly showed off all we had been working on. I mean, June is basically a genius. I explained that I was having some trouble with June trotting and cantering when I didn’t want her to.

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She’s always ready for the lesson to be over

Well, it didn’t take Dana long to see that I was basically amping things up when I didn’t need to. So, here was my learning moment. When Dana told me June should move when I ask her to move, I took that as “she must move fast and in order to be responsive she must be moving quickly and be slightly frantic.”

This is not true. June can be responsive at the walk. The halt even. So, we basically worked on slowing both our brains down.

My genius baby totally figured it all out and we had a very successful lesson.

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This is her figuring it out

I’m excited for her to go to Dana’s place for a month but also sad because I’ll miss seeing her everyday. I know she will learn so much and be such an amazing horse when I get her back.

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She learned about bits this week and blow dryers. Neither were of any interest to her

She continues to be adorable and make me happy every day. Every day that she doesn’t jump through a trailer….

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The cutest

 

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Being A Baby

I gave June about a week off post trailer incident. Not only because I needed a break from her, but also because I was headed to the show with Macy and needed to concentrate on that.

I got her back into work Monday, and she was full of it!

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There were a lot of “no thank you’s” to what I was asking her to do. But we worked through it and even did some pole work under saddle.

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Sassy pants was far more willing to work and listen the following day, I am realizing how important consistency is with her. While I don’t think she needs 7 days of work, 5 days of work seems to help her process things so we can move on.

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This is her “now what?” look, which I love. Also, the smoke has been terrible because of wildfires

She has some attitude when I ask her things, especially when I ask her to think continually- lots of change of direction, or adding something new. I kind of love the attitude. It lasts a second and then she gets back to work. She’s going to keep me on my toes for sure.

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Her favorite part of the lesson is when it’s over

Hoping to get a coupe lessons in with Dana before sending her down there for full training. Also hoping to introduce her to a bridle and the blow dryer in the next week or so! So much for baby horse to still learn!

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Night and Day

June had her second foundation training lesson and the difference between this lesson and the last were monumental.

Our trainer, Dana, started the lesson by having me show her what we’ve been up to. Now, anyone who takes lessons is familiar with this test. The trainer is essentially seeing if you did your homework.

And, well, I LOVE homework, and was super excited to show her what we had been up to, as well as get some feedback on some struggles.

While I  had been diligent about doing my homework, I’d also been trying to problem solve some issues. Dana assured me that my instincts were correct, and we were moving in the right direction.

She was also super impressed with how much progress June had made. Not only in our homework but physically as well. She kinda looks fit from all the trotting and transitions we’ve been doing.

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The other great thing about trainer Dana is that she’s also kinda a media whore and insisted we get some good pics of June.

We ran through what we’ve worked on, and then were able to move on and add some new things. Dana is awesome with June. Everything she does with her makes sense to me, and she is just a really good horsewoman and so solid in her ground work training.

 

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Plus she was fine with me posting pics of her, so that’s cool

June was so good. She thought about what was being asked of her, and there wasn’t any “NOW I RUN YOU OVER” moves, which was REALLY lovely.

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June figuring it out

And I even got to work with her on some of the new stuff and it wasn’t a total disaster! Where I have my body in relation to what I am asking is so important. I’m learning that a good deal of June’s confusion comes from me either not asking correctly, or my body blocking her. It’s getting better though!

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At one point Dana had to ask me to be more subtle. I about fell on the ground laughing. Sarah says this to me ALL THE TIME. And my response to Dana was the same as it is to Sarah: “I can’t be subtle. That’s why I didn’t get an OTTB.” Yeah, I’m German. Subtilty isn’t in our genes.

Nearing the end of our lesson Dana wanted to head over to the arena, and out of the round pen. I had no idea what we would be doing over there, as neither June or I are  ready to work outside of a small space.

But we were going to work on walking over a bridge! Yay! Dana had me start. Walk with purpose over the bridge.

It was a big fat fail. So… Dana tried. And had no problem getting over the bridge. She told me to have more control of June’s nose and shoulder. The rest will follow.

She then proceeded to send her over the bridge.

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And then I sent her over the bridge! Eventually..

I was basically all smiles the entire time. I feel like June and I are slowly growing a connection. I had no idea foundation work could have such an impact on me as a rider. It’s building my confidence and showing me how important it is to ask for things from the ground before asking from her back. Plus, we’re making June stronger so that she can carry me and do everything we’re asking her to do once I’m up there.  We worked a bunch on yielding from the shoulder, bending, and turning her haunches. She was game for all of it, and was well-behaved for all of it as well. I’m really excited as to how things are progressing with this sassy mare, and am excited for our next lesson!

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Basically how I felt all day

 

 

 

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What’s The Hurry in Bringing Up Baby?

I have never started a young horse. But over the years I have observed lots of people starting their youngsters or green as grass horses.

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Did someone say grass?

Sometimes it goes amazingly well. And sometimes, there are serious struggles. And guess what? From my observations, I’ve formed an opinion. A completely personal opinion that has no scientific data attached to it. So, take it for what it is: an adult amateur’s opinion.

One of my strongest opinions about starting a young horse is when to start them under saddle. I believe that you should wait until a horse is closer to 4 years old. When I decided to get a 3 year old horse I was fully prepared to wait 8 months to a year before I started riding her. I just don’t feel that most horses are mentally or physically ready to be put to work at 2-3 years old.

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She still needs nap time

To strengthen the validity of my opinion that horses aren’t physically ready to be started younger than 4, I called 3 of my most trusted equine veterinarian friends. Not one of them could tell me that I should absolutely wait to start my horse until she is closer to 4 years old. There is no proof that horses started later in life stay more sound than those started earlier. They thought that mentally, it might be better for the horse, but there is no proven theory that it is physically better. In their opinions, not surprisingly, it has more to do with what we ask of our horses once we do start working them under saddle.

Well damn. There went the theory and belief that my horse would be benefitting physically from my decision. But whatever. There is still the mental aspect.

While some of you may see a 3 year old horse as completely capable to start work, I see a kindergartener. Especially June. She’s lived her life on rolling hills and forested pastures. She was brought in occasionally to be halter broke and get her feet done. She has seen nothing of the world and been asked to do nothing other than stand for the farrier. And while that sounds idyllic and lovely, it hasn’t really set her up to go straight to work.

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This grass is yummy

I feel like my responsibility as her person is to prepare her for the work ahead. So that, one day, when I get on her back, she is ready. I know her, she knows me. She knows what I expect of her.

So, our work will begin with me starting her with ground work. For however many months as it may take. I’ve asked an incredible horse woman and foundation trainer to help me with this process and I am SO excited. I can’t wait to learn with June. I can’t wait to see where she is uncomfortable and not as sure of herself and get her past that. So that one day, when I put her to work under saddle, I have a wealth of knowledge to pull from.

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More grass over there?

I’m not going to rush the foundation work just because I want to get back to eventing. I want to do this right so we can have a great future together. I’m sure I will fumble and be discouraged along the way, but I think having the next few months together, and getting familiar with each other, and learning to trust each other, is hopefully going to lead to a great future together.

The adventure has begun!

 

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