Category Archives: happiness

Headspace When Starting a Young Horse

Some things I’ve learned in the (almost) year I have had June under saddle:

  1. No day with her will be the same.
  2. No matter how smart your horse is, she’s still a baby, so be patient.
  3. Don’t make plans. Plans are for horses that are not green, and even then they often don’t come to fruition the way you planned.
  4. Remember that even the toughest, most frustrating, ride is still beneficial and making you a better horse person
  5. Enjoy the process because there is a lot of minutia in your future, but if you don’t enjoy it, you’re not going to have a solid partnership.

I came across this in my memories on Facebook this weekend. It’s from one year ago, when Sarah and I went to go get our baby horses and bring them home:

Capture

jbug

June came back on April 7th, and while I didn’t start her under saddle until around the end of May, she’s been back with me for a year now.

And what a year it has been!

IMG_1018

Our first ribbon under saddle!

I can’t even compare the rider I was pre June to the one I am now. June has taught me to problem solve. She’s taught me patience. She’s taught me to fall off and get back on, even if my tailbone and finger are most likely broken. She’s taught me to listen to the horse underneath me and be a more tactful rider.

No day with her is ever the same. After an incredible 3 weeks of work, she’s back to some old antics and it’s like we’re having to “start over.” But, I know this is a minor setback. And I know we’ll be on the other side shortly. I just need to be patient with my baby horse. And really, we’re far from starting over. We’ve progressed so much. And the struggles we have now are because things are getting harder. I’m expecting more from her. And geez, she’s still only 4 years old, so really, she can have a few tantrums.

IMG_9304

June this summer. She looks like a BAAAABBBEEEEE. Now she looks way more like a horse. Ahh, progress.

Never having started a horse before I really had no idea what to expect. I mean, the pros make it look so easy, right? Honestly, I had no idea just how challenging this would be! Even with a horse who is game for the work (maybe too game?) I find myself wondering if I will ever be able to canter an entire jump course.

And because I am competitive, and because I set high standards for myself, sometimes I start to spin out of control into “what am I doing” land. You know the place I’m talking about: Why did I think I could start a horse? I’m ruining this horse. Everyone else would be way farther along with her by now. I should just sell her and get a behind the leg, broke horse- that’s what I am good at riding.

And then I see June, and she whinies to me, and I realize I don’t really care how far along we’ve gotten and how long its taken. I don’t really care that we still aren’t solid in the canter. I have no idea if we’re well behind the curve of what’s normal for starting a horse, and I don’t really care. Because I really, really, really love June. And as frustrating and aggravating as she can be to me sometimes, I’m so incredibly thankful I have her.

IMG_1136

Cutest

She’s taught me to be a better rider and problem solver. She’s taught me I can, in fact, sit a solid buck, and won’t fall off every time it happens. She’s taught me to be patient and man, that has been tough for me. She’s honest and smart and willing. And if she’s like this at 4, I can only imagine the horse she will be at 10. Especially if I continue to go slowly, continue to be fair to her, and continue to enjoy the time we have together.

So, here’s to getting out of the tough headspace and into the good one. Here’s to enjoying the ride even if it doesn’t go as planned. Here’s to many more years with this horse that I am so grateful I have in my life.

Advertisements
Tagged , ,

Alone Time

For the past three weeks Sarah has been enjoying sunny California with her students who are able to afford (financially and time off wise) to go and have a serious boot camp to get ready for the upcoming season. While I’ve done the spring California trip once (and got rained out of the event I had entered) it was definitely not on my radar this year with June.

IMG_1205

While Sarah was gone I was in charge of taking care of her mare Rapid. This is Rapid hauling ass down the barn lane when she got loose from me #horsesitterfail

Which meant we had three weeks without lessons and three weeks to figure crap out on our own.

And honestly, it went pretty well. While I am fully prepared for Sarah to come back and have a LOT of feedback in our first lesson, I really tried to work hard, enjoy myself, and experiment with some things while she was gone.

Here’s what we accomplished and worked on for the past three weeks:

  1. We went to two shows without Sarah! That’s huge for me. I typically go everywhere with a trainer, so not doing so, AND doing it with a green horse, was huge for me. And, we had successful outings, which was really a confidence booster for this upcoming season
  2.  We’ve added trot/canter sets to our weekly routine. This is not for June’s fitness (although it is certainly helping mine), as she could trot and canter in circles for hours if I let her. It’s mostly because I want to just let her have some mindless work. Mare needs to burn off some energy and not get tense about every ride and the work we’re doing. I’m mixed on how this is working out. I think June really enjoys it, which is GREAT. But it’s also getting her fitter, which, while I love that she has lost some lbs recently, I don’t need her getting fitter. I think she needs to build muscle and strength but not stamina right now. She could literally trot for a full hour without me encouraging her. And that leads to her grabbing the bit and wanting to go, which is certainly what I am trying to stop from happening. So, I may change these up a little bit. Some fun for her mixed with some slower, deeper, trotting.
  3. Transitions. June tends to hollow her back and throw her head up (it looks like an elk, for any of you who also have elk in your backyards…) when I ask for the walk transition. So, I’ve been playing with a few things. Trotting slower and slower and slower until we walk. That works! But then, when I try to progress from that, she trots for a REALLY long time before the walk. So, maybe I am asking her to get this too quickly, but at some point I need to be able to ask for a trot to walk transition and not have her hollow. I’ve played with closing my leg, slowing my trot posting and sitting. If that gets nothing, I sit deeper and stop following with my elbows. This is working, albeit painfully slowly. I’m eager to get Sarah’s take on it and some help.
  4. The free walk. June LOVES to pull the reins out of my hand and bring her head down to her feet as she walks. YAY. Plus, she has a great overstep and for the first time in my life my dressage comments for the free walk said “Good overstep” instead of “lacks overstep.” But she isn’t consistent at all. Her head goes here there and everywhere. And she constantly tries to pull the reins out of my hands no matter how much rein I give her. So, I’m working on keeping the reins shorter, more leg and slowly letting out the contact. Again, a work in progress but it has been fun to play with.

    IMG_1158

    Good pony post test!

  5. The canter. Our left lead canter is really getting somewhere! I can ask for more collection, and am working on her bringing her head up, again, not letting her grab and go. The right lead has made huge strides as well (ha ha fun pun) but she can’t keep it for as long and by the time we’re approaching our 2nd or 3rd 20 meter circle, right when we come off of the rail, she swaps. So, I’ve been working on getting her past that point in the circle, even if it’s our first 20m circle, and asking for a downward where she doesn’t swap leads. We got it last night and I was happy to be able to end our ride on that. I think this will just be slow and steady progress.
  6. Pole work. Just staying consistent in the rhythm to the poles, over the poles and after the poles. In both the trot and canter. I’ve been really pleased with how she’s doing. We’ll see what happens when the poles become jumps, but she is far more adjustable than she was a month ago.

I think all in all, I’m really just learning about June as a horse. I trust her so much more than I used to. I can hop on without lunging. I can work through the antics. It wasn’t that long ago that I was unable to ride the canter and Sarah had to say “Ride the canter like you know how to ride. Not like a passenger.” Now, I actually ask for things in the canter and expect things from her. She wants to kick out in a dressage test? Fine. But we’re going right back to the canter. Ok, not really fine to kick out, but you know what I mean…

IMG_1170

Me? I perfect

Anyway, as excited as I am to get back to lessons and have Sarah back, I’ve actually really enjoyed these last 3 weeks and feel like it was really good for both June and I.

Tagged , ,

Two Years Ago Today

It was two years ago today that I retired Georgie as my competition horse. Man that day sucked.

G

Our last event together- Training 3Day at Rebecca Farm

Being where I am now though, two years later, I almost feel like it’s ok that it happened. Don’t get me wrong. I miss riding Georgie. Especially when it comes to how safe and secure I felt going cross country.

G2

But, I get to see her and feed her treats every day. I can hop on her once a week and enjoy being on a broke horse. I care for her when her junior lessee is out of town, and she still uses a bunch of the tack I had for her. Honestly, she is still a part of my life on so many levels. Which is what I had hoped for when I stopped competing her.

And now I have this special baby monkey horse named June. Who is teaching me so much. And while she isn’t making anything as easy as Georgie did, I have to say, just like Georgie, she really does have a heart of gold. Sometimes I don’t verbalize how much I appreciate June and how much I love having her.

When I got Stella as a teeny tiny puppy, I kept comparing her to my senior dog Montana. Montana was the easiest dog ever, and I kept wanting Stella to be just like her. As a young dog, there was no way Stella could meet the expectations I had for her if I wanted her to be like Montana who I had had for many years. I worried that Stella was less than because she wasn’t Montana.

And look how that turned out. Poor Siri…

13729072_10153863105188251_2827591802976668088_n

The two that can do no wrong

So, while I may compare June to Georgie, or be sad that I don’t have a solid Prelim cross-country horse anymore, I realize that what I do have with June is pretty damn special. She makes me laugh and smile, but she also makes me ride well, and be incredibly thoughtful in my riding. Where Georgie was easy, June is a challenge. But it isn’t a mean-spirited challenge in any way. We probably match each other equally on a scale of who is more opinionated. And just like Georgie, she’s game for pretty much anything. I hope I can keep her curiosity and willingness intact, as they’re two things I really love about her.

IMG_0965

AND she looks good in purple!

So, while two years ago I was pretty much in shambles, I’m happy to report that time did heal a broken heart. Along with a sassy young mare named June.

Tagged ,

When Your Child is a Phenom

You’ve undoubtedly met the parent who thinks their child is a phenom. The parent can be seen speaking in a muted voice,asking lots of questions about the upcoming show schedule, taking up a lot of the trainer’s time, and always thinking one step ahead. (Forgetting that horses are fragile creatures, and that thinking one step ahead leads to heart break.) We have had a few of these parents in our barn and I just roll my eyes at them.

Image result for eye roll meme

But then, I got June, and I BECAME them.

Except, my “child” is a horse. Which may be better? Or worse? Heck if I know.

I worry that June has too much talent. Especially for little amateur me. But then I get ecstatic about how easy the work we’re asking of her is. I laugh at how little energy she puts into jumping a 2’6 jump. I watch her trot and  swoon. Instead of listening to what Sarah is saying as she trots her across the arena, I think “man she is going to have a nice extended trot one day.” I’m insufferable when it comes to my phenom.

But then, fortunately, reality sets in. I get on my horse and she’s inconsistent in the bridle. I can’t pick up the right lead. Hell, I can’t even get her to trot over poles without falling on her forehand. My horse may be a phenom, but we’re not bound for the Olympics with me on her back. This team is as average as they come.

IMG_0731.PNG

Much talent. Much Phenom.

And, what I’m learning, just as those parents will have to, is that being a phenom doesn’t just happen. It is a hell of a lot of work, and more than just natural talent. It doesn’t matter if my horse came out of the womb doing pirouettes. If I can’t harness that, and work my ass off on all the other miniscule things that are important, we’ll never get around to actually performing pirouettes.

June is the fanciest horse I’ve ever had. And by fancy, I mean, she was bred to do the job I’m asking of her.  Even though the work isn’t as hard for her as it may be for other horses, it doesn’t mean she naturally engages her abs, rocks back and is light on her forehand. It doesn’t mean I can trot down centerline, and just sit there, hoping the judge will be dazzled by my horse’s incredible movement. Nope. Sure doesn’t. I have to continue to ride every friggin step. And lets not forget, June may be fancy by my standards, but there will always be a fancier horse and better rider out there. Always.

img_0642

Weird. I ride like shit, she goes like shit

 

img_0643

I ride well, she goes well

And this may sound obvious. And I guess it is. But up until recently, I’ve been half heartedly starting my horse. Dedicated to getting her ridden, but not asking for much. If she wants to pull through my hands I let her. She wants to be inconsistent in the bridle, that’s fine. In my mind, I shouldn’t have to work as hard  because she is a nice mover and talented. Image result for ridiculous gif

I’m not a naturally talented rider. I work hard and have good horse sense, which is my saving grace. But even if I was, I’d still have to work hard. Especially with a green bean. I watched Sarah ride her the other day, and she was working, working, working. Thinking, working,thinking, working. June looked great, but it definitely wasn’t easy. Even for a pro who is literally doing everything correctly at the exact right moment. So, ya know, like, the opposite of me. I kinda check out during rides instead of staying engaged mentally and physically the entire time. And that’s gotta change.

So, moving forward, every time we enter the arena, or have a lesson, we’re working hard. We’re only as good as the work we’ve put in. If June has phenom potential, well I better not look like I’m a waste of space on her back. My dream is to one day go Prelim with her. But for now, I need to concentrate on being able to do a 20m circle in a walk/trot dressage test. Cause hell, that’s going to take a lot of work.

Tagged , , ,

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.

IMG_0049

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.

IMG_0084

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.

IMG_0073

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.
    IMG_0081
    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.
IMG_0085

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!

 

 

Tagged , , ,

Jumping Georgie

So much to post about, especially now that JUNE IS HOME!

IMG_0004

So fuzzy! And clearly thrilled to be back to posing for pics

But that will get it’s own post. And since she’s not doing much that’s exciting currently, we’ll start with something uber exciting! My jump lesson on Georgie!

I’ve been riding Georgie weekly for about a month now, and decided that since my tailbone feels better, I would try a jump lesson. It’s been ages since I have had a proper jump lesson. Sure, I’ve hopped some cross rails with June and even cantered an entire course, but that’s very different from riding a broke horse in a lesson.

Warm up was me letting her walk a bit, picking up the trot I wanted, and then moving into the canter. In the canter she wasn’t allowed to lope around on her forehand. I had to work on getting her up, onto her butt, forward, and adjustable. All in two point. After three times around the arena each direction I was out of breath and my legs were on fire.

IMG_9993

Why do we lose riding fitness so quickly?

I knew I would be unfit, but since I run regularly, this was still embarrassing and worse than I expected. However, in those 6 circles around the arena, I was really impressed with how adjustable Georgie was and how responsive she was to my aids. Honestly, riding a horse you know so well, who’s buttons are ingrained, is so nice. I know what to ask, how to ask it, and how she will respond.

We got right to the jumping exercise, as it was obvious I was not going to have the stamina to waste working at the canter…

IMG_9995

Sarah had set up three jumps across the diagonal. Each were one stride apart. We started with the first two jumps as poles on the ground, and just the middle jump was set (at about 2’3). We added the other two jumps and then Sarah would have me jump the line, turn left, angle the middle jump and come back down the line. We then added to this exercise, and it got more and more difficult. Jump through the line, hard turn left, angle the last jump, come around the arena, angle the middle jump the opposite direction, come around the arena, angle the first jump, and then hard turn right back to the exercise and through the grid one last time.

Here is a 3rd graders rendition of what it looked like:

IMG_0008

Ok, I know, 3rd graders can draw better than this. Also, I forgot to put it on the diagonal.

We obviously worked up to that sequence of jumps, and I am actually surprised we got to that because I was not riding well. After about the third jump I was exhausted, and all my bad habits came back to me. Slump my shoulder forward, let my lower leg fall back. It was really awesome. In watching the videos I was pretty disappointed in myself.

If I really worked at it, I could keep my sternum up and open, my calf on, and ride well. But the minute I had to make a turn, or do something else that involved my attention, it all went to shit. Angling the jumps was tough, and I wouldn’t get Georgie on the line soon enough, but mare is as honest as the day is long, and she kept just figuring out what I wanted and jumped what I pointed her at. The jumps stayed at 2’3ish so she really did not have to put much effort in, which is the only reason I think Sarah was ok with all of this.

IMG_9991

So, I have a lot to work on. And I hope to keep riding Georgie weekly so that I can keep working on it. I need to push myself a bit outside of lessons as well as in them. I’m so lucky to still have Georgie around, as quite honestly, jumping her, and feeling that comfortable, is something I have really, really missed.

 

Tagged , ,

Constructing a Plan

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

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

Please be ready for this June

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged , , ,

Remembering Why I Ride

With June on vacation, and me still healing, I figured there wouldn’t be much interesting content to write about. But, since I’m feeling better, I’ve picked up two weekly rides. One on Georgie, and one on Tommy. They’re both different rides (Tommy is an Intermediate eventer who I am just getting conditioning rides on), but I’ve come to enjoy them both a lot.

Today it was 60 degrees out and sunny with no wind when I showed up to ride Georgie. I realized it was the perfect day to ride her out in the jump field. I’m riding Georgie partially for me- so I have something to ride until June returns, but also partially for Georgie. She’s acquired some “I’m ridden by a junior and asked nothing” habits that could probably be schooled a bit.

IMG_9872

Georgie when she realized we were headed away from the arenas and out to the field

So, my plan for today was to work on half halts and not letting her run through turns. We worked on this for a bit. I would execute an S turn and not let her run through the change of direction at the trot. It went pretty well and she began to listen to my aids and do what was being asked.

But, instead of drilling it into her, I decided that since it was so beautiful out, we should probably just enjoy being outside.

I walked Georgie to the edge of the field and her ears flew forward. She knew what was coming. I gently put my leg on and said “canter.”

IMG_9879

The moment she realized half halts and S turns were a thing of the past

And there we were, cantering along the field, on a crisp fall day, in the sunshine. I remembered why I loved this horse.

I love her because I feel safe. I love her because I can canter and just enjoy it. No spooking. No antics. Just wind in her mane and my face. She could go as fast as she wanted and it would be fine. She wasn’t going to run away with me. I was safe, happy, and enjoying everything horseback riding should be.

In my post ride recap I told Sarah what a good time I had, and how nice it was to gallop on my #1 mare. But then couldn’t help myself and launched into how Georgie’s canter is like it was the first day I ever rode her, and how I saw her shorten, shorten, shorten to the jump at the schooling show this weekend, and how a half halt takes a lot of work on her again. She clearly isn’t the mare she was when I stopped riding her, after years of work together.

gallop

I’ve always loved galloping on her

And after I said it, I got upset with myself. Because, really, who cares? She is still the honest horse with so much heart that I fell in love with. Who cares if she isn’t prelim ready? Who cares if she carts a junior around safely but doesn’t look fancy? She is having a good time, and she deserves it.

And those moments where I get to gallop her along the fields in the crisp autumn sunshine? All I need to care about is how lucky I am to still be able to do that.

Tagged , ,

Fraggle Friday: Stella Update!

Poor Stella, she just hasn’t gotten the blog attention she deserves.

IMG_9834

To be honest, in the last few weeks, she has really slowed down. More sleeping, less enthusiasm about going for walks.

IMG_9817

It could be she is less enthusiastic to go for a walk when the weather is crap, but she looks so cute in her raincoat shouldn’t she want to show it off?

She still sleeps through the night, as long as you consider night to be over by 4:30 or 5am. The good news is, if she does get up this early, I let her out to potty, she comes back in and goes right back to sleep. So, naturally, I do too…

IMG_9835

She and my cat, Bunny, sleep together like this every night

She really can’t see at all. Especially in the dark. She can see things right in front of her, but that’s about it. Her hearing is hit or miss, she seems to be able to hear high-pitched whistles, but often doesn’t hear me when I come home and I need to make some noise to wake her up.

So, essentially, she’s old.

IMG_9838

Another raincoat pic. This time in the sleet…. ugh

But besides getting older, and the difficulties associated with that, she’s doing pretty well! Walking and hop/running, no more seizures, and she is just as opinionated as ever.

So, naturally, I am just trying to enjoy every moment of it.

 

Tagged , , ,

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.

IMG_9733

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.

IMG_9739

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…

IMG_9732

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.”

IMG_9743

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.

Tagged , ,
Advertisements
Thirty Days of Mo(u)rning

A widower at forty-two. What Kateri gave me... what cancer took away... and how I'm coping with life from the woods of Vermont

Centered in the Saddle

On horseback as in life: stay centered for best results.

Eventer in Progress

Laughing at oneself is best done as a group activity

Adventures in Thoroughbreds

Chronicling the journey of an OTTB

Stampy and the Brain

Adventures with my two three favorite horses

The Homesteaders Wife

Faith, Family & Life On The Homestead

Boss Mare Eventing

An amateur eventer's adventures

Three Chestnuts

The life and trials of the three red heads

In Omnia Paratus

An amateur eventer's adventures

Hope's Promise

The blog of a dressage dream come(ing) true

SprinklerBandits

An amateur eventer's adventures

Zen and the Art of Baby Horse Management

An inquiry into values and survival in a life with baby horses

the everything pony

who would really much rather eat all day

DIY Horse Ownership

on Mules, Horses, and DIY

OTTBs and Oxers

Eventing. Hunters. Horsemanship.

Horse Glam

Equestrian. Life. Style.

The Frugal Foxhunter

More bang for your buck than showing

The Printable Pony

An amateur eventer's adventures

The Roaming Rider

"Don't live the same year 75 times and call it a life." - Robin Sharma

Urban Thoroughbred

West and East Coast adventures with OTTBs

Clover Ledge Farm

An amateur eventer's adventures

Eventing Saddlebred Style

An amateur eventer's adventures

The Repurposed Horse

An amateur eventer's adventures

PONY'TUDE

An amateur eventer's adventures

Poor Woman Showing

An amateur eventer's adventures

Live Your Adventure

Tara - Horse lover, horse rider, horse enthusiast

SmartPak Blog

An amateur eventer's adventures

The Scottish Equestrian

The Scottish Equestrian ♞

The Blog of Travel

Motorbikes, dogs and a lot of traveling.

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.