Category Archives: green horses

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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June’s First Week Back

I really can’t express how impressed I am with this mare since she has been back.

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So pretty!

I figured in her first week we would take it a bit easy, and on Day 2 I brought her in for grooming and she was great.  I then put her in the round pen to see what, if anything, she remembered. Mare was 100% game and not only did she remember things, she had an attitude of “ok, now what would you like?” I’d had an issue with her not wanting to be caught  from her field last summer and so Trainer Dana had me work on teaching her to come towards me when I opened my arms, with lunge whips in each hand. If she went sideways I’d keep her from going anywhere with the whip. If she squared to me, I’d slink a little, avoid eye contact and invite her to come towards me. One step forward and pressure was released, I backed up as she came forward. It worked amazingly well, despite my  not believing it would and June never had an issue with being caught again.

On this day, I thought I’d see if she remembered any of that. I only had one whip, but I opened my arms, took a step back and June walked right up to me.

I think the best decision I made was to send her to Trainer Dana prior to letting her rest all winter. Clearly she has retained that info and is ready to move forward.

Day 3 she got off because Stella had surgery and I was in Boise. I took advantage of being unable to work her and had her get her spring vaccinations.

Day 4 we did a little round pen work, a little grooming, and then I took her to the obstacle course. As always with her, if she understands the question, she is game to do her darndest. In a few instances I got in front of her shoulder, which she thinks means whoa and we had some difficulty walking over the bridge or teeter totter. But she did everything I asked, when I asked correctly, and  her favorite is still climbing on the tires.

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What’s the big deal, mom?

Day 5 it was lunging in the indoor arena. I decided to throw some trot poles down as well as the liverpool. I walked her up to the liverpool and we walked over it with zero hesitation. This was a physically demanding day for an unfit pony. Lots of trotting, walking and trotting over the liverpool on the lunge line, and figuring out where her feet are through the trot poles. I could tell she was getting tired when she stopped and looked at me. I urged her forward and she literally threw her head and squealed! Then totally trotted forward. I appreciate the sass almost as much as how quickly she acquiesced.

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I like to watch her trot…

Day 6 she got her teeth floated. And I took advantage of the drugs and trimmed her bridle path, fetlock feathers and butchered her tail a bit. Whoops!

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She’s kinda a lightweight

Day 7 I brought her into the indoor and we worked on standing politely while being groomed, she wore front shipping boots and hind xc boots and we walked around. She was not happy about the rear boots so I left them on while I saddled her and walked her around the barn with her saddle on and stirrups swinging around. She didn’t protest about any of it.

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More tires, please?

I’m pleasantly surprised by how much she grew up this winter and how great her attitude is. We’ll begin taking lessons in May, so in the meantime I plan on just de-sensitizing her to as much as possible and getting her fit enough to begin work under saddle. It’s been great having her back, she brings much needed happiness to each day.  I’m thinking this will be a fun summer together!

 

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June’s Genes

I want to start this post with a disclaimer. I really don’t know much about stallions and pedigree. I’ve always had hand me down horses or horses that I could financially afford. The pedigree of these horses never mattered to me. What mattered was their heart, their soundness, and what was going on between their ears. So, never in my life did I think I’d be writing a post highlighting my horse’s pedigree.

But June’s is special enough (for me at least) that it’s worth getting excited about and delving into her ancestry a bit.

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Doing what she does best…

So here goes.

June’s father is Riverman. If you haven’t heard of Riverman, you’re probably more similar to me than you knew, because apparently we have been living under a rock. This stallion has been around forever. No, like FOREVER. He was born in 1990. How he is still alive is a testament to his care, because that is one old stallion. And how he is still producing semen??? Anyway. We’ll move on.

Riverman is quite the famous stallion. For one thing, his offspring excel in all sorts of disciplines. Eventing, jumping, dressage, and even competitive driving! For me, there are two aspects of Riverman that are really appealing. For one thing, he has been the USEF Lead Eventing Sire 3 times. His babies are out there doing their thing! Which leads me to what else I like about this horse.. his offspring seem to get his talent time and time again. Now, I’m sure there are some duds, but in looking at pages and pages of his offspring, these are some TALENTED babies! Whether jumping or prancing, you can tell they’re a little bit fancier than your average horse. One of my favorite Riverman babies was R-Star ridden by Kristi Nunnick. Mare was fun to watch and so athletic! Currently, one to watch is Fleeceworks Royal, ridden by Tamie Smith.

I hope June inherits his athleticism, I already think she looks a bit like him when he was a baby..

But he is only one part of the equation. Lets not forget about June’s momma!

“Mille Mocha Lynx” is a Quarter Horse who’s babies have gone on to be cutters, jumpers and pleasure/trail horses. She has the QH brain people envy and has she seems to pass this along to her offspring.

I will fully admit I know nada about QH pedigree. But from what I gather, she is related to Doc Lynx somehow and that’s a good line of horses? Lol, I’m so out of my realm on this one. Her breeder told me that her line of Quarter Horses tend to be quite hardy and athletic. When I visited her she seemed like a friendly mare without any conformation flaws. I’m hoping June inherits her brain.

Perhaps what is most exciting is I that have a front row view of every move June’s half-sister makes. Rapid just moved up to Training after crushing it at the Novice level. (She’ll be at AECs this year!) Having ridden Rapid, I can attest to what a lovely mover she is. Her canter is a dream to ride. So uphill. Fingers crossed June gets this quality! Any time Rapid does anything remotely naughty, I’m sure to blame it on her Connemara mom. Not her Holsteiner pappa. (This is the only time I EVER fault an Irish horse for anything.)

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yes please

And while June’s full brother isn’t a competition horse, he is proving to be a lovely level-headed gelding. In 2013 he placed first at Rebecca Farm in the FEH 2 year old class. He has a junior rider who he’s caring for and he’s proving to be scopey and smart and with a temperament suited to an amateur. Lets hope the same qualities are found in his sister!

While only time will tell the horse June will become, I’m excited with this glimpse I have into her pedigree. I think if nothing else, we’re off to a good start!

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2018 Goals

As we head into the New Year, I’ve decided to make some goals, even though I have NO IDEA what the year will bring. I don’t even know if I will have a horse to ride, so that’s fun. But hey, let’s be optimistic and pretend all will go swimmingly!

HORSE GOALS

1) Take Georgie Intro or BN at an event. I like to call this one my sanity goal. It makes absolutely no sense to take her to an event. Especially since events aren’t less than 5 hours away. But, I have a feeling I will be wanting to do this so badly. Especially after dealing with a baby horse and a Macy horse. Sometimes I just need Georgie to remind me of how fun all of this can be. Plus, seeing her ears on XC and feeling her excitement will be totally worth it. Obviously this goal is 100% dependent on her soundness and her owner allowing me to take her. But we’ll make it a goal so I can remain sane.

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Yup, this is the unicorn that makes me happy…

 

2) Get June out and about April and May. June comes back the beginning of April and I plan on getting her right to work. Work, meaning refreshing her baby brain on all the ground work we did. I also am really really really hoping I can pony her off of Georgie. There’s no better horse to learn about trail riding with and I think June will love getting out there with a friend.

3) Get a bit more serious with June come June. Hopefully in June, June will start to get some nice under saddle rides. And by nice I mean we can work on moving from the leg, steering, stopping and you know, the basics of riding. Because… my big goal is….

4) Enter June in a FEH 4 year old class. This class was new last year. From what I’ve read it is a FEH class, not YEH, so no jumping under saddle. It’s walk, trot, canter, conformation and free jumping. They are held at a couple of events we go to, and I would LOVE to get June to one this year. She’s built well, and has some nice movement in the trot, so I think it won’t be a total waste of time. Plus, it gives me a riding goal to work towards. If we hit roadblocks, or she just isn’t ready, totally fine. I’m not going to push it with her.

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Yes please to this gallop.

No real Macy goals as I am not sure where she’ll be in my life when June returns. Plus, some days I really just want to call it quits with her, and other days I am in love with her, so I feel like setting goals will only add more stress I don’t need. I hope to still have her in my life to ride and learn from, we’ll just have to see where she fits in and what she’s up for doing.

Personal Goals

  1. Become a better rider. I know, duh. BUT, before Macy I wasn’t able to ride horses like Macy. And now I kinda can. And I have learned so much and have become a much stronger rider. But man, there are still things I need to work on. Really simple things, and minutia things, and I want to work on them. I want to take each ride seriously (except for when I am ponying June from Georgie. I just want to enjoy that and hopefully giggle a lot), and be more focused in my free rides. I feel like June will make me do that, just as Macy has, so that will help.
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Thanks May!

  1. Go back to Ireland. This one is happening in 2018. I cannot wait to jump those Irish beasts again!!
  2. Keep running and continue to make fitness a priority.
  3. Enjoy where I live and get out there. I really need to continue doing this.

So, there we have it. Come on 2018, show me what you’ve got!

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June Update!

I am really, really starting to love this baby horse. I feel like we’ve turned a corner and are having so much fun together. Well, I’m having fun, not sure she loves all the round pen work.

I knew she would be going to Trainer Dana’s at the end of the week, so I did as much as I could in preparation. I put shipping boots back on her, did cavaletti work, and maybe did this:

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Could I be any happier?

I just sat on her for about 30 seconds, and she was great. I kinda had to before she left me. I dunno why. But most of you probably totally understand…

She lives with a Palomino mare who she bosses around and I like to turn them out on grass together. As we were heading to the pasture my friend was leading her sister in to ride and I insisted on a picture of them together for compare and contrast purposes.

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Yeah, they look nothing alike. Her sister (different mom) is much more fine boned…

I trailered June down to Trainer D’s yesterday and she was great in the trailer. I was a nervous wreck, but it was my friend’s slant load which she has never had an issue in.

Within minutes of being there we put her in the round pen and she offered this:

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Such a brave baby!

I let Trainer D know that I would love it if she could be exposed to as many novel and scary things as possible while there. The more she sees now, the better. I mentioned having her kids hang all over her, I don’t have kids, so she doesn’t really ever see them.

Last night I got this photo:

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Yup. This is exactly what I meant

I miss June already and know I’ll be sad when I go to the barn and she’s not there, but I am excited to go see her in about a week and see all the progress Trainer D has made with her!

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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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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