Category Archives: green horses

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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June’s Baby Pictures

When posting pictures of baby horses, you don’t need a lot of text. So enjoy this media dump.

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A few hours after she was born

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Still wobbly, but has her priorities. Maybe she’ll have as many dapples as her momma!

 

JuneBug

About 3 weeks old.

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Oh hey! Just hanging with my momma

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I mean… that face!

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Like, could she be any more of a compact little muscle machine?

 

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A little camera shy… that will change

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Just thinking about how much trouble she wants to get into

 

I’m so thankful to her breeder for passing these photos along to me! Love seeing her as a little munchkin!

 

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June’s First Stock Horse Event

One of my favorite things about our barn is that there always seems to be something going on on the weekend. If Sarah isn’t hosting a Jumper or TOC show, our western riding trainer is hosting a horsemanship clinic, sorting show or stock horse event. And while June may not partake in all these events, it’s great for her to see trailers and horses coming in and activity all around. I want her to be used to chaos.

This past weekend our barn hosted a Stock Horse event. I didn’t really know what this was, other than you do a pattern and basically show good horsemanship and a calm and relaxed ride. I signed June up mainly because it seemed low key and would get her out and about with other horses.

I mean zero disrespect to the western riding discipline, but I was pretty surprised by how warm up went. There were about 15-20 horses in the outdoor arena, everyone was going every which way, and June had horses spinning (like fancy, western, spinning) cantering and sliding to a stop all around her.

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She needed a little encouragement in the chaos

All I could think was, dressage warm up is going to be a piece of cake if we keep doing this!

The event itself was lots of fun! It started in the outdoor arena with a pattern. June and I only walked and trotted but baby horse was SO good. We had to stop and turn (other horses spun), and trot out of the arena under some trees to another paddock, and at the end we had to open a gate while on her back. I figured that would go very badly, but actually, we got the gate open fairly simply. I couldn’t close it, but that was ok, I was happy with how it went considering I had never asked that of her.

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Siding up to the gate

Next we moved to another arena where there was an obstacle course. I hadn’t done this under saddle with June so just figured I would see how it went. She was resistant to go over some bridges (but not others, others she walked right over) and she wasn’t sure about the teeter totter at all. But at the end she happily walked through the elevated tires with no problem. I’m signing her up for an obstacle/trail course clinic in August so we can work on this. While I don’t think it’s a huge deal, I think it’s a confidence builder and the more slow, mental work we can do, the better.

Lastly, we entered the cow pen. Now, June hasn’t spent any time with cows other than when I turn her out in the paddock next to them. For this challenge we would be moving cows from one pen to another, and then keeping certain cows in certain areas. I figured I would get June in the pen with the cows, see how she reacted and maybe get her as close to them as possible.

Well, June had another idea. She wanted to get in the cow pen and start moving cows! Bossing cows around is right up her alley!

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She had absolutely no hesitation around the cows, and pushed them this way and that. I guess if eventing doesn’t work out she can be a ranch horse.

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Awfully proud of herself

In recapping the event to Sarah I told her that up until now, most of my tests of June have been to see how her brain would handle things. Her brain has handled everything well. Incredibly well. Moving forward I feel like I can stop worrying about how she’ll react to things and start asking more of her physically. Like, work on getting our steering more refined. And trotting a circle at the same pace the entire way around.

So here’s to boring circles and steering. I can’t wait!

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And Then…We Cantered

I need to start thinking of some “How you know you have a warmblood” jokes, because having never had one, I am just beginning to understand how they get their reputation. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE June, but mare is completely fine letting me KICK her and just not caring ONE BIT.

So, all of this is a lead in to my post about the canter, but don’t worry there wasn’t any kicking involved (from her OR me.) It’s just that Sarah and I were trying to figure out how to introduce the canter with me on her back and June made it very clear she was in zero hurry to move on from the trot.

Sarah mentioned there were three ways she likes to introduce the canter under saddle. 1) Go on a trail ride and have the horse in front of you canter and your horse needs to keep up, so it starts cantering. (She did this with Rapid when I was riding Georgie and it worked great) Well, we didn’t really have the time to go out for a trail ride so this one got put to the bottom of the list.

2) Put up some small (tiny) jumps and have the horse land in the canter after the tiny jump. I liked this idea and we decided to try it! Last week we set up elevated ground poles, with the world’s tiniest cross rail at the end. The idea was I would ride through the line in jump position, and maybe she would jump the cross rail! Well, June was completely unimpressed by the “jump” and just kept trotting over it. There would be no cantering during this exercise. Which was kind of a bummer, but also totally fine. We still had a blast trotting over the world’s tiniest cross rail!

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We decided that with June’s lackluster attitude to canter, we’d try option 3: Put her on a lunge line and ask for the canter.

So, before we got to the lunge I just walked and trotted June around a bit. At one point, I asked her to pick up the trot and she was like “No, thanks. It’s hot, I’d rather not” and just kept walking. So I kicked like a Pony Club D1, but nothing happened.

So, June got introduced to the dressage whip!

Smart pony let us rub it all over her and flick it around her in her vision without caring too much. And wouldn’t you know, she’s seen enough whips that me just holding it got her to trot whenever I asked. Warmblood.

We dropped the whip for the canter obviously, and my hope was all our work in the round pen and on the lunge would come in handy. My hope was I could give her the verbal cue for canter and it would happen.

And guess what? It did! We did some slow to fast trot transitions, then, while trotting fast, Sarah gently raised the whip (like I would if I were lunging) while I asked for the canter cues with my body and said “And June cannnntttter” and she had the LOVELIEST canter transition. We did this a few more times and it got better and better. (I got better and better, she was good from the get go.)

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Big kisses for ponies who canter

At this point I felt pretty confident, almost like I didn’t need the lunge line, but we kept it on and proceeded to go right. Well, June LOVES to fall in going right, and it’s kinda hard to keep her from doing this, while also asking her to bend right and pick up the canter. So, our transition wasn’t quite as beautiful, but it happened nonetheless! We definitely have our homework going right!

I couldn’t be happier with how June handled the canter work. The anticipation was kinda killing me and now I feel so confident asking her canter. While she can be a bit stubborn, and maybe lazy, really, when I am on her back, she takes her job seriously. She also is a warmblood in that I think the effort to buck just wasn’t worth it on a seriously hot day. Hey, that’s fine with me!

I couldn’t ask for a better pony!

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Literally all smiles

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Not So Boring Basics

I’m loving everything baby horse right now. Honestly. Other than not having a horse to gallop around xc with, this journey, so far, has completely exceeded my expectations.

So, obviously, with a baby horse, you start from the beginning. But, I’m finding that this is the perfect time for me to start from the beginning as well. Long story short, I’m hoping I can refine my riding a bit so that I bring June up properly and as beneficially as possible.

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I have some amazing media for this post so GET READY

I have the opportunity to ride a great little Appendix QH named Flint while his junior rider is on vacation. Flint is a GREAT teacher. My first lesson on him consisted of me really struggling to get him going the way Sarah wanted me to. So, I asked if we could stop the lesson and if we could just work on me? Forget about Flint for a minute and get me to stop riding backwards?

And so we did.

And for every ride since all I work on when I ride Flint (and one of the things I work on with June) is to make sure I am not riding backwards.

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The four legged family

Now, I’m sure many of you know what this term means, but if you don’t, here is my interpretation. Riding backwards is essentially not allowing the horse’s energy to flow freely forward.Restricting the motion instead of giving with it.

How do you know if you’re riding backwards? Well, in my experience, if you’re riding backwards, you don’t have an independent seat. When you aren’t balancing with your hands, you can feel it in your abs. A visual that helped me is when Sarah had me think about there being a block in front of the saddle. My hands could not come behind the block, so they keep pushing forward towards the horse’s mouth.

Some people do this naturally. Others, myself included, when we get nervous, or stop thinking about it, start restricting the motion. It is really counterproductive to everything you want the horse to do. They can’t come up over their back, they’ll shorten, and well, it’s just not good.

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Mouth full of hay, of course

So, Flint and I, good boy that he is, just walk, trot and canter, and all I do is think about my connection. His head can be anywhere, he can be unbalanced, and he can careen all he wants. I just keep thinking of bringing my hands forward.

And wouldn’t you know it? After a few minutes of me doing this consistently, Flint accepts the contact and stretches into it. He’s a sensitive boy and the perfect teacher. If I stiffen, or stop the forward motion, he immediately inverts and brings his head into the air.

I’ve ridden him 3 times now and today worked at the canter for the first time. It was so fun! When I ride correctly, and problem solve as to why he’s unhappy, I end up working through it and have a horse who slows down, accepts the contact and actually goes around quite nicely. My hope is, in the 3 weeks I have to ride him, I can keep these moments for longer and longer on him.

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Always making me smile

And, obviously, my ultimate hope is that this way of riding becomes a habit for me. Anything I can do to make it better for June, I’m totally up for. I had no idea how fun the basics of riding are!

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Alone Time

If you read my blog and that of SprinklerBandits you may get the feeling we have two of the most amazing, lovely, easy as can be, young horses. And, while I actually think this is true of Zoebird, I’m going to let you in on a secret about June. She isn’t perfect.

I know, you’re shocked.

I will say, before talking about all the things she needs work on, that she is actually a great baby. When she knows what is expected of her, she is happy as can be to do what I am asking. I’ve had few problems with her in work actually, most of the baby moments seem to be happening when we are just standing. This mare CANNOT just stand.

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But she’s so cute when she’s in my space!

Now, I know that’s pretty normal for young horses. I thoroughly enjoyed Amanda’s post about the Tree of Knowledge. June needs a Tree of Knowledge, or a Thinking Pole, or whatever else you want to call it, SO BADLY. Baby horse cannot stand tied, or next to me, for more than 3 seconds without beginning to paw incessantly. It used to be only when I left her alone. But yesterday, as I was talking to a woman who has worked lots and lots of baby horses, June got right in my space and then just started dancing and pawing in the 10 seconds I was speaking with this woman. Let’s just say that didn’t go over well and maybe I was called out for letting her do that. (There are very few people I will allow to question my baby horse training, this woman is one of them). June got an impromptu lesson on just standing still. And I began to hunt the farm for somewhere, anywhere, that I can high tie June.

Our other issue is that she really doesn’t like to be alone. At all. So, I’ve been forcing alone time on her. Sometimes I stick her out in the outdoor arena, where she can see other horses, but she still gallops around whinnying and has a fit. Other times she goes into the high sided roping arena, where she gallops around and has a fit. The first time I stuck her out on grass, she had a fit and missed out on enjoying her pasture time.

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Mom, please save me from this hell

She’s getting better. Which is good. But there is still a bit of a struggle every time I put her out and leave her. Which, she will have to get over, because I have plans for her this fall that involve travelling by herself.

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Also, in an exciting twist, these two have become besties, but more on that later…

I keep reassuring myself that this is just baby horse antics and ALL MOST baby horses act like they’re wearing hind boots for the first time EVERY TIME YOU PUT THEM ON FOR 1 MONTH. I have a lesson this Thursday and while I am eager to show Sarah all our skillz under saddle, I also can’t wait to ask her about 100,000 questions about certain behaviors I am working on with June and if my approach seems to make the most sense.

So there you go, June isn’t exactly perfect. But she’s still my most favorite baby horse ever.

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Actual Pics of Me on June

So, I realize I was all “I’m not going to ride June until she’s 4” and that is still 2 months away. But baby horse has progressed so far and well with her ground work, I was kinda like “Well, its time to hop on her.”

So one day I did just that. Sarah saw me walking her out to the round pen with my helmet in my hand and just said “Let me know when you’ve safely dismounted.” I figured the less of a deal I made about it, the less of a deal it would be.

So, I worked her in the round pen and she was her fantastic self.

I sided her up to the rail, and played around with throwing a leg over her, and putting some weight on her back. Then I removed her rope halter, put my other halter with reins attached to it  on her, and brought her back over to the rail.(I don’t have a side pull and #stellasurgery prevents me from buying ANYTHING not absolutely necessary).

I sided her up, and slid on. We stood there for a moment or two. Then we walked around the round pen a few circles, worked on turning, and called it a day.

It was the least dramatic and most exciting thing ever.

A few days later I decided to try again. This time I worked on shifting my weight a bit when we were walking and asking her to woah. She got that figured out quickly, so we did some more walking around and turning. With lots of just looking around and hanging out.

And on Kentucky 3 Day cross-country day, I decided to take a risk myself, and have her walk around the property with two other horses.

She was great! At one point, we were leading, and I asked the other two riders if they wouldn’t mind taking the lead since we don’t really know what we’re doing and they were like “But you have the best behaved horse!”

Apparently I picked the wrong two horses to go hack with.

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They were fun to ride with and DID end up taking the lead…

June got a little tight in her back on the way home, and I could tell she was feeling a bit frisky as we made the last turn to home. So, instead of making a big issue of it, I hopped off, turned her away from home and had her walk over some ground poles and a log that were set up in the jump field. The other two horses left and she was fine with it. I then hand walked her back to the barn with no issue.

I should note that I was riding bareback in running leggings and sneakers. If things had gone sideways I would have fallen off easily. But June hasn’t been ridden in a saddle since she’s been back, and I didn’t want to introduce that the day we went out of the round pen. I have my first lesson with her Thursday so I’ll be putting a saddle on her once or twice before that lesson (I have been doing this all along) so that when I get on her for that lesson she is at least comfortable with the saddle and remembers it’s no big deal.

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So many pics of her trotting…I know

The groundwork I’ve done with her has done exactly what I wanted. I’m so confident around her on the ground and feel like I know her so well, despite only having had her in my care for 5 months. I’ve learned so much about her and am really loving the horse I have. If she understands the question, she tries her hardest. It’s when she doesn’t understand that she “acts out.” And even her acting out is short lived and quite minimal. When she acts out, my first question is always “what doesn’t she understand?” And I LOVE trying to figure it out with her. She’s been forgiving of my training flaws and seems eager to see me when I come to her paddock.

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First IG pic of me on her back

That said, she’s got a strong personality and opinions. I need to work on things like her getting in my space and being a bit more responsive, but she’s still young and I think those things will refine themselves with work and time. I’m excited to start working with her and Sarah so I can have homework and continue in the right direction.

The other day Sarah said to me “Remember, she’s only in kindergarten,” and that really struck a chord. Kindergartener’s have a short attention span, they have temper tantrums, and they can be easily scared by harsh teaching. On the other hand, they’re curious, eager and very forgiving of what life throws at them. For June, I think exposing her to new things continues to be of the utmost importance as well as “having conversations” about what is expected of her. I’m looking forward to going slow with her, letting her tell me when she is ready for the next challenge. I think this mare has lots of potential and I can’t tell you how excited I am about the partnership progressing and for her to show me what she is capable of!

 

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Hunky Hanoverian

An amateur eventer's adventures

*TBA*

An amateur eventer's adventures

Cob Jockey

An amateur eventer's adventures

She Moved to Texas

An amateur eventer's adventures

Guinness on Tap

An amateur eventer's adventures

Equestrian At Hart

adventures in riding & life

 Clover Ledge Farm

An amateur eventer's adventures

Viva Carlos

An amateur eventer's adventures

Horsemanship 101

Leprechaun Lane Training Center's Guide to Horsemanship

ridingwithscissors.wordpress.com/

Horse humor and the musings of a weenie adult eventer

May As Well Event

Here's To Not Following Your Own Advice

A Yankee in Paris

No animals were harmed in the making of this blog...

Horse Listening

Horses. Riding. Life.

EquiNovice

Becoming a student of horsemanship.

Chronicles of a "Mini-Pro"

Celebrating the incurable addiction which is being an equestrian

A Horse For Elinor

Dressage On A Dime

Charley's Angel Eventing

Just a High Schooler Living for Jesus & Ponies