Category Archives: green horses

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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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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Dressage Tests and Ulcers

Despite the fact that we had a dressage schooling show coming up, in my most recent lesson, I opted to jump. And while I have no media as proof, June was really fantastic. I gave her a day off afterwards and got a text that June didn’t seem very interested in her hay. I went down to the barn to find June in her shed with a tub of uneaten hay. Banamine was given, she was lunged lightly and fingers were crossed. She wasn’t any better the following morning, so Sarah gave her some more Banamine and I stopped by to check on her. She was bright and alert and seemingly normal. If she was colicking, it must be mild. But then, why wasn’t the Banamine working? Just as I was thinking she might have ulcers, I received a text from Sarah that said “Ya know, I think she might have ulcers and this isn’t colic.”

I drove over to the vet’s office to see about having them come out and happened to catch her veterinarian between appointments. She agreed, ulcers seemed likely. I have her scheduled to be scoped on Thursday, and in the meantime have begun her on the crazy expensive Gastroguard regime for 30 days. I will admit there was a part of me that was like “How does this horse have ulcers??? I haven’t even asked anything of her yet?”

But in thinking it through, and reading a great article Sarah sent me from horse.com (along with some others) it seems it doesn’t take much for most horses to have ulcers. And probably the biggest contributing factor to her ulcers (which at this time I can only assume are the problem) are that she is “meal fed” as my veterinarian called it. Meaning, June gets two meals a day, and that isn’t great for a horse’s gastric health. Now, I love the barn I board at. But, do I love that my horse spends hours upon hours without anything to eat? No. Especially since I grew up with horses who never had any issues with colic or ulcers and spent their days out on pasture, eating all day long. So, this is tough for me. And clearly, it’s tough for June too. But the good news is, I have some solutions to keeping hay in front of her for longer periods of time, without having to change how the barn feeds her. More on that, later.

 

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More of this please!

Having suffered from an ulcer myself this summer, I knew how painful they can be, and also, that eating actually makes them feel better. Along with Omeprazole. I also knew the meds can take a few days to work, and actually, if she doesn’t have ulcers, they would not help a bit. But, by the next day, she was already eating a bit more. And while she wasn’t her complete sassy self, she was feeling well enough to at least get excited about feeding time.  And while I had initially thought I would scratch from the dressage show, on Saturday morning, seeing as she was feeling better, I decided to go ahead and ride in the show. I mean, we were doing a walk/trot test and it was at our barn. Stress levels should remain low for all involved. I made a deal that I would keep spurs off and that I wouldn’t fight with her. We’d just go into warm up and see what mood she was in. If she was willing to work, we’d work. If she felt crappy, I’d scratch.

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So cute!

She actually felt calm and relaxed. Perhaps a little duller than usual, but with lots going on around her, she was curious, but not anxious. And she handled the little bit of atmosphere like a champ. I definitely could have been smarter about my warm up. I could have done more transitions and worked on getting her to listen to my aids. I did some work on 20m circles and trying to be straight up centerline, which was fine. But I think in general, I just need to go into warm up with a plan, rather than figuring it out when I am already on her back. Especially with a young horse. I was overly concerned with symmetry instead of quality of my gaits. Therefore, our circles were ok, but June was dragging me around, and not listening to my aids very well. Lesson learned. There is a lot of work on transitions in our future. I was also overly worried about connection, instead of riding forward and with rhythm. Rhythm before connection, Nadia. Remember that next time.

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But connection can look so pretty!

But overall? Overall I was thrilled with her. She was focused and willing and a really really good girl. I think with a better warm up plan, and using warm up wisely, I could have imporved a lot of things, but I came out of both tests just thrilled with how it went and thrilled at our potential future.

June seemed unfazed by all of it, and was completely ready for treats when we were all done. And while she never gets treats unless she is in the horse trailer or her paddock, I made an exception and was happy to see how eager she was for them.

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So, all in all, a mixed bag week. I’ll keep you all posted on her scope this Thursday. I guess at this point, fingers crossed we find ulcers? Blerg. But, as always, I have a plan in place and we’ll get through this.

 

 

 

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Out and About with a Baby Horse

Since June is only a couple of weeks back into “work” I’m trying to have as much low pressure fun with her as possible, while ultimately getting her fit enough to be back in lessons and regular work. I’m trying to mix it up a bit, a day of lunging in side reins followed by a hack around the the property.

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While the sun is setting way too early, this sunset sure was beautiful

I’ve arranged to have her turned out at least 5 days a week for a couple of hours and it seems to be making a difference in her whole attitude. Now, every time she comes out of her paddock it isn’t necessarily to go to work. When we do go to work she seems more relaxed and just…happier. I’m sure this will change if we get lots of snow, but for now, we’re both really enjoying the fact that she gets to wander grass pastures and enjoy some June time.

I’m working on increasing my confidence on her, and riding better should things go awry. After lightly lunging her the other day, I decided to ride her out on the fields surrounding the property. I have hand walked her out there lots, but as we know, ghosts are most likely to appear when we’re on their backs.

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We have an irrigation canal, which in the summer is an impromptu drinking spot for lots of critters. Usually Siri is flushing birds and digging for voles. June clearly remembers two ducks that flew out in front of us this summer and nearly hit her in the noggin. Now she gives that canal the major hairy eyeball. But, knowing it’s empty and there is nothing to fear, I made her walk as close to it as possible. She gave one very impressive spook just so I knew she was serious that it is SCARY, but we were able to walk along it quite reasonably after that.

I put my big girl pants on and even trotted one stretch. I’ve never trotted her out there alone, and guess what? It was totally fine. And even kind of fun!

Feeling brave and like we’re on the right path, I accepted an invitation to go to our local cross country course and play around while people were schooling some jumps. I figured this was a great next step. See how June would be in a situation that could mimic a show, or a clinic. I arrived later than everyone else and when I got to the schooling field, the other riders were leaving to return one student to their trailer. I lunged June around some jumps and she was calm and listening well to me. I saw that some riders would be coming back to us shortly, but June did not seem to care that we were out there all by ourselves. So, I decided to once again, put on my big girl pants and hop on her by myself, alone in the field. As I looked for a log to use as a mounting block, a horse at the trailer nearby began screaming for her friends. This got horses at the boarding facility wound up. And now the two horses returning to us were in full view. Was it too much for June? Would she buck me off the minute I got on her and start galloping and screaming?

Nope.

She let me get on, we walked around, joined the other horses, watched as they jumped some jumps and had a very grown up experience about the entire thing. In fact, June was just about perfect for the entire experience. I was really, really proud of her.

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I also had her walk up to the prelim table in the field, just to give her some inspiration for the future….

Two highlights that really sealed the deal for me:

  1. June is a bit ditchy. Once, when she got away from me in the jump field while I was lunging her, she gallop across the alfalfa field back to home. All the sudden she just slammed on the brakes and wouldn’t go any further. When I caught up to her I realized she didn’t want to cross the ditch the wheel line made. We worked on it a bit out in the field, but again, this was someone’s crop field, and they probably didn’t want my horse in it to begin with, so I kind of just filed it away for later. So, when we got to a rutted road in the field, I shouldn’t have been surprised that June would slam on the brakes. Using what I learned from a Hawley Bennett clinic years ago, I just walked June alongside the rut, just asking her to see it from both directions. Then we walked to where the rut ended, and was just a normal road and I asked her to cross. And she did. And I kept telling her how brave she was. We walked a little further and she continued to cross. Finally we got to where the ruts were quite large and ditch like, and she walked across them with ease.  Smartest and bravest young pony ever.
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    I even had her stop in the middle so I could get a photo
  2. The second moment wasn’t as exciting, but still was a great moment. I decided to leave the group a little early, as I wanted to walk June away from them and through a new part of the facility by herself. June didn’t object at all. We passed two young horses playing, some chickens, lots of farm equipment and people riding. She got a little concerned at one point, but I was able to keep her going and it was a lovely, drama free ride.
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Plus I stayed nice and warm in my new Horseware coat!

These outings are helping me bond with her as well as build my confidence. She is such a fun horse and capable of so much. I don’t want to get lost in thinking that “training” only pertains to jumping and dressage. There’s so much more to training a youngster and for me, these two outings were some of the best training rides we’ve had so far!

 

 

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June’s Mini Boot Camp

While I figured out what to do with June in the time that I can’t ride, I decided to keep my weekly lesson with Sarah and have her continue to ride June.

I’m really glad I did as it taught me so much about my pony and Sarah had some amazing progress with her.

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In their first ride together they worked on connection and balance in the walk/trot. June tends to grab the bit and pull. She evades steering. She evades contact. But by the end of the ride she was already lighter in the bridle and making progress. Sarah was looking forward to riding her again 4 days later to see what the mare had retained.

June was more supple, lighter in the contact and more responsive to what Sarah was asking from step one. She had pretty much retained…everything! Sarah was very impressed and moved on to the canter. Which…well.. lets just say our canter needs work. Especially on a 20 meter circle. June roots, evades contact, falls in, and just stops. I knew it would be a mess, so wasn’t surprised when Sarah had some serious work ahead of her.

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June’s two tactics for evading work, well three actually, are 1) grab the bit 2) just stop 3) buck/kick out. She didn’t buck or kick out at all with Sarah. But she grabbed that bit and ignored half halts. And towards the end of the ride, when she was tired, she literally just stopped moving forward and would start going backwards. As you can imagine, when a pro is riding a horse and it does this, it doesn’t go very well for the horse…

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By the end of the ride they had made some good progress and June was tired, but had learned what doesn’t work for her. She got the next day off and I got the following texts:

“I’d like to ride June again. We made such great progress and I’d like to see if she retained what we worked on.”

“June is so smart. Do you know how smart she is? Most horses don’t learn this quickly.”

“I am in love with her trot.”

My trainer wants to put another schooling ride on my horse? She thinks my horse is wicked smart? She loves her trot? Best Day EVER.

And so, after a day off, June had what will be her final ride before going out to pasture for a month while I recover. I had wanted to give her a month off after a summer of intense riding so her baby brain could process it all. I wasn’t expecting to do it now, but the timing will have to change as I don’t want to miss riding her for 4-6 weeks and then give her time off when I am better.

So, Sarah got back on her, and from their first steps together, through the end of the lesson, all I could think was “She looks like a completely different horse than she did two lessons ago.”

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She barely evaded contact. She barely pulled on the bit. She was responsive and forward (maybe too forward sometimes, but who can blame baby horse for trying a new tactic to avoid work) and she listened to Sarah far better than she had before. The ride was short and sweet. June was good, so there was no need for Sarah to drill her. She needs to learn that good behavior results in quitting time coming sooner rather than later.

I was amazed at the progress she had made in such a short time, as was Sarah. She mentioned that June made leaps and bounds beyond what is normally seen or expected. I’m not too surprised that June is a smarty pants. I think it’s why I struggle with her sometimes. I think she has strong opinions, and isn’t afraid to test me. But the good news is, she isn’t resistant to work, I just need to ask correctly. She didn’t kick out once with Sarah, despite being asked to work harder than she ever had. So, why did she buck with me? All I can think is, it’s worked for her in the past, and it’s her go to. I think me hanging off the side of her pulling on her rein, was not fun for her either, so the most rescent kick out, didn’t work that well for her either. I’m sure she’ll buck again. I’m sure I’ll fall off again (but hopefully NOT from a buck) but seeing her work ethic, how, um, FANCY she is when she’s put together and how willing she can be, I know that this journey will be fun and worthwhile.

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Show Jump Sunday

Labor Day weekend was a big one for June.  Saturday we had June’s First XC Schooling and then Sunday we had a jumper show at our barn. My plan was to do ground poles and cross rails. We hadn’t ever done a jump course before, so I figured ground poles could give me an idea of the turns, etc.

After a quick warm up, mostly in the round pen, June and I entered the arena for our first round. We trotted the poles, I let her look around a little, but really wanted her focused and turning.

We did well enough that Sarah mentioned what an organized and polished round it was.

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The barn swallows joined us

For my next round I decided to try to canter the poles as much as possible. Our turning while cantering is getting better, but still more Mack truck than Ferrari.

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I think she’s trotting here, but looking cute, so using the media

She was a good girl and it was no big deal.

So, next up, cross rails. Since this was our first jump course ever, I figured we would trot and if she wanted to canter, she could.

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It was definitely a mish mash of trot and canter, but she was forward and easy to steer and I was really happy with her!

Next up, a round where we canter the entire course!

I decided to ask for the canter in the corner before the first jump. We were going right, our less consistent direction, and June REALLY wanted to look out and run through her inside shoulder. So, we didn’t get our lead. Which was fine. We popped over jump one in the trot, and then cantered the rest of the course. Mare gets the whole “land and go on” idea, which I love.

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She got all her leads (from what I remember) for the rest of the course. And sure there was some veering, and she may have tried to run out at jump 3, but really, it was way more organized and flowing than I expected it to be.

Here’s a short video of us doing our final round

I considered entering 2′ but decided to end on such a positive note. We have lots of work to do, and jumping our first verticals in a show, isn’t going to help anything.

Overall, I was super duper happy with June. She was great about standing around, and then got right to work when we entered the arena. She did pull the “I’m not going forward” crap in between classes, when I wanted to walk her around, but she got over it pretty quickly and we walked all over the property once she understood that wasn’t allowed. She definitely has opinions, this mare.

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Not many people see me work with her day to day, so I think they were surprised to see me cantering a course, since last time I just trotted ground poles. Trainer D was there, riding a horse for a client and she was really impressed with how far June has come, which made me happy. A few other horse women I respect also commented on what a good job I’ve done with her, and their comments really meant a lot to me. There’s still so much to do, but I love the base we have and am excited to keep getting better and better.

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Jump Progress

Now that the FEH class is behind us, Trainer Sarah has been having us work on our jumping a bit more. June is taking to it incredibly well, and I like to think she rather enjoys it!

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She can clear a cross rail!

The progress has been really fun. Over the past month or so we have gradually begun to add to what June can do over jumps. We started with groundpoles, moved to a grid (groundpoles to a cross rail), then a single cross rail with placing poles on either side, and today we linked two cross rails together, only one with placing poles! It was basically our first course! And, last week, I lunged June out in our jump field over solid obstacles. Including the ditch! So, she’s getting experience with lots of different jumps.

It’s kind of amazing how things progress with baby horses. I was saying to Sarah how it isn’t linear, and you always have to expect the unexpected. For June and I, this unexpected set back has been our struggle to pick up the right lead correctly. We struggled and struggled with this in our last lesson. I  just couldn’t ask in the right timing, June wasn’t doing me any favors by dropping her shoulder while looking to the outside. So, I spent two days with her on the lunge line, trying to figure things out. Trying to apply what Sarah was telling me and figuring what might work. And, lo and behold, I got her to pick up the correct lead on the lunge consistently. But, all that trying got June a bit anxious and she started to canter even when I didn’t ask. And always on the incorrect lead. So, we’ll stop lunging at the canter. We’ll take that off the table until it is no longer a big deal anymore.

I took what I learned lunging her and applied it under saddle today. I was ready to have to ask, then ask again, then ask again, for the correct lead, but June picked up the correct lead the first time I asked. I took my time, made sure I was ready to ask and wouldn’t you know it, it was no big deal.

We cantered a full course! (It was 3 jumps but the excitement was as if it was 12!)

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Also, there are moments where this mare’s canter is dreamy. Those moments are fleeting, but I can’t wait to feel it more often once she is stronger!

Of course, her canter can be long and strung out, she doesn’t always keep the canter, getting her to steer to the jump (and over it) can be a task in itself, so nothing looks “pretty” yet. But, to be honest, after my last lesson, I was elated with where we were at. June is getting stronger and more rideable. She can hold her more compressed canter for longer. We’re both figuring this shit out, and it is so fun and so exciting!

We have our first xc school this Saturday followed by a jumper show Sunday. I’m hoping to enter cross rails and maybe canter some of the jumps. Can’t wait for all the adventures that await us!

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This is us, galloping off into the future together…

 

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June’s First Trail Ride: aka June Can Buck

In my human mind, trail rides are like when your teacher tells you you’ll be watching a movie during class. You’re like ” sweet! Easy class!” I mean, what horse wouldn’t love a trail ride? You get to hang out with friends, not work, and munch grass.

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Look at that view! Who wouldn’t enjoy that view??

But that was my human mind. I didn’t really look at this from the perspective of an equine. June doesn’t know what a trail ride is. She knows she was trailered about 30 minutes to an unknown location where there were no other horses other than the one she trailered with. We’re in the middle of nowhere. She knows her mother didn’t lunge her, even though she lunges her before every ride. She knows that her mom got on her and expected her to walk out into the unknown forest.

And she responded by launching her mom into outer space.

I’m not making excuses for her. Launching me 1 minute after I got on her back, is not ok. But, since she is a baby horse, I am trying to figure out where I went wrong. And all I can think is it was a bit too much out of her comfort zone.

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Sure, this looks like fun… but not really

We did complete the trail ride. Despite a hard fall, I lunged the snot out of her, and then walked with her out the trail. I rode for about 1/2 the ride and for those moments, she was great. But I was sore, and defeated, and my confidence was blown. So, I didn’t ride her over stream crossings, and when I felt she needed a break I walked along side her. But we completed a 3.6 mile trail ride in the Idaho wilderness.

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Look at me riding my horse on a trail! Also, maybe I shouldn’t have brought Siri along to run around her?

And because I have an amazing friend, and I knew I had to conquer my fears of getting launched on trail rides, I asked Sarah if she would be up for another trail ride the following day. And so, the following day, we loaded the horses up, and gave it one more shot.

And this time, I lunged June.

I left the dog at home.

I didn’t ask any more of her than I do back home in the arena.

And she was foot perfect.

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And I look pretty happy!

She looked around and took it all in, but happily followed Rapid into the Idaho wilderness. This was somewhere she had never been, and she was okay with that. I asked her to lead on the way home and it was ok- she led for a bit, but was clearly a bit unsure. So, we let Rapid lead again, and I rode home on a loose rein.

Was it the perfect first trail ride?

Hell no.

But it ended well, and I am less sore than I was. I learned that keeping her routine as solid as possible is important for her. She wants to be lunged before I ride her no matter where we are. Skipping that, and asking her to be perfect somewhere new, wasn’t fair.

So, June can buck. I knew that. And I need to keep that in mind next time I want to hop on her and do something new. That seems a small price to pay for a horse who otherwise has been fantastic.

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FEH Prep

I leave WEDNESDAY for Washington, where June will be competing in the 4yr old FEH class. Right now it looks like she’s her biggest competitor. Since she’s the only one entered in the class. I’m super bummed about this for a multitude of reasons, but primarily because I want these classes to be supported. I love that  USEA created these classes as an alternate to the YEH classes, but from what I’ve seen here in Area 7, not many people are attending them. Which is a huge bummer.

And while really, June is only competing against herself despite how many horses may be in the class, it would be nice for the judge to have other horses to keep her eyes on. Sure, this will be more like a dressage test in that all eyes are on me, but yikes, an equitation style class seemed way more appealing when I signed up.

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I mean, yes this is cute to look at, but still…

Regardless, June and I are walking, trotting, and cantering pretty solidly. Sure, she can be behind the leg and a little lazy, but I am hoping that’s nothing a tap from a dressage whip can’t help!

A week ago an a**hole decided to shoot an exploding target in a campground (I don’t even know what an exploding target is) and he started a massive forest fire about 8 miles from our barn. When I say massive, I’m talking over 50,000 acres and it is still only about 49% contained. It has moved from where my barn is, north, to where a lot of friends live. They’re in “pre evacuation” notice, meaning get ready to get the hell out.

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Scary,scary shit PC: Blaine County Sheriff’s Office

As you can imagine, when there is a forest fire in your backyard, the smoke is thick and you can feel it in your lungs. It’s like a perpetual campfire you can’t get away from. I gave June two days off during the worst of it, and then, when the wind was blowing it out of our area, I brought her back into light work. It seems the worst of it has passed (thank you firefighters!) so we’ve resumed our normal schedule.

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When you do the Intro A test, there are lots of pics of you trotting

In our non riding/exercising days I practiced wrapping legs again, clipped her tail and bridle path and practiced braiding her mane. She was great for all of it.

I think we’re about as ready as we can be! I’m super excited to get outta dodge with my pony, dogs and BFF. It’ll be fun to see how June handles the atmosphere and if the judge thinks she’s as special a horse as I do.

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