Category Archives: Uncategorized

Introducing June to the Barn

As I mentioned in my last post, June hasn’t seen much of the world. That said, she’s incredibly easygoing and takes everything in stride. She unloaded from our 5 hour trailer ride, went into her new paddock and was like “Huh. This is where I live now. Ok.” On our first walks around the property she was curious, but not spooky or scared.

I was VERY impressed with my new horse.

And it seems like introducing her to new things, like the big fan in the indoor arena, or the wash stall where she got her first bath, is no big deal. She’s curious about new things, but not scared.

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Bath time for champions

But I am conflicted with how she grew up. One part of me thinks it’s awesome that she just got to be a baby and hasn’t had a lot of pressure put on her. The other part of me wishes more had been done with her so everything wasn’t quite so new at 3 years old.

Her work ethic is pretty much nill. I’ve been working on getting her to yield from pressure. At first she was like. “No. I don’t want to.” And she was a bit slow to actually do it. That whole philosophy of “start gently and add pressure?” Well, we were adding pressure or nothing was happening. But the great news is, on day two she was like “Oh yeah, if I don’t move when you do that, things get worse for me..” and was far more responsive in our work. Yay for learning!

For my part I am learning not to be greedy. Baby horse means literally baby steps. Ugh. I have to go slow and be patient. Even when I want to scream “GET ON THE DAMN TRAILER NOW!”

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She did in fact get on the trailer. But only when her half sister went first

Which, just to be clear, screaming doesn’t work. Strange right?But ugh. Baby steps are so hard for me. So, I am working with someone who knows more than me and can help me help June learn. Our first lesson is on Sunday, as I leave for Rebecca this week and can’t wait to go enjoy Montana!

Here’s to more learning with June. And watching some amazing riding.

 

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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Fraggle Friday-Siri’s 1 Year Anniversary

This week marked Siri’s adoptaversary! I adopted her July 11th, mainly due to this photo:

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That’s her in the back

I had been patiently waiting for a young female German Wirehaired Pointer or Griffon to come into a shelter for me to adopt. But all that came in were males, time and time again.

And Siri was a purebred GWP, but she was a puppy. Yuck. Who wants a puppy?

Plus, Stella had JUST had ACL surgery so the timing was horrendous. Oh, and I was leaving for Rebecca Farm in a week.

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How I got through Stella’s surgery…

Blerg. But, the thought of me passing by a female GWP haunted me. So I took her home, even though she was a puppy and I wanted a 2-3 year old dog. (or older)

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She was always cute when she was sleeping…

And wouldn’t you know it, 3 weeks after I adopted her, her mom, a 2 yr old GWP was surrendered to the Shelter. EXACTLY what I had wanted.

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She’s a sweetheart

And while I considered trading Siri in, it was too late. I was hooked. (And her mom got a fabulous home and I get updates on her all the time).

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There have been ups and downs, and lots of frustrating moments (like when she chewed my truck up), but yes, in the end I am so glad I adopted her on July 11 2016.

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She’s wicked smart

And this past weekend, when she overheated on a hike, I knew I loved her, because I hoisted her up on my shoulders and carried her down the mountain.

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At least she’s light?

I like to think she’d do the same for me…

So, Happy Gotcha Day Siri. So glad you’ve joined our crew.

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PC: Bekka Mongeau

 

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Gary Mittleider Clinic

While his name may not be familiar with many of you outside of Idaho, Gary has been training and riding event horses for many years. His daughter, Sara Mittleider, has competed at Rolex and has found success with multiple horses that she rides and trains at her family’s farm.

But the reason I know the name, is that Gary is my trainer’s trainer.

And for some reason I eagerly signed up to take a jump lesson on my trainer’s horse with her trainer. Oh, and when the group list came out I realized I would be riding my trainer’s horse, with her trainer and she’d also be riding in the lesson. Just the 3 of us.

Recipe for disaster.

I decided to make it even more fun by riding another horse- a lesson horse the barn had just purchased who I had ridden about 4 times and jumped once. He’s probably jumped a handful of times in his life. I had no idea how he would be in the lesson.

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Deputy the adorable QH

Well, let me recap for you.

Gary set up a grid. Three poles set 9ft apart followed by a 2 stride gap, followed by 4 more poles set 9ft apart. The 4th pole would eventually become a jump. It was a canter cadence and balance exercise. The gap in between poles would encourage horses to get quick and on the forehand, the poles afterwards would remind you of the cadence you needed before the jump, and hopefully you hadn’t changed anything just because there were some poles missing… After the grid developed you would make a sweeping left hand turn to a skinny cross rail -riding as if there were still poles on the ground encouraging you to have an uphill, balanced ride.

It was a great exercise.

Deputy, the solid as a rock QH  did not disappoint. Once I gave him the support he needed he handled each question easily. Man is he fun. He’s forward but responsive. He did not want to pick up his left lead, so we worked on that. I mean me, we worked on me, and how I can help him with that. (Note to self, looking down and leaning inward does NOT help). He handled the grid so well, and while it took some effort on my part, I was really surprised it wasn’t more difficult.

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whee!

I’d happily ride him again and even entertained the idea of half leasing him. Then I remembered I am short on both time and money.

I hopped off Deputy and onto Macy.

Warm up was tense and reactive. Sarah and Gary eyed me from the middle of the arena and I was like “this is going to be bad”.

After warm up Gary mentioned that I just seemed to be making too much effort. It shouldn’t be this tough. He knows Macy well, and told me he knows she “likes to argue,” so we have to keep from having arguments with her.

We went through the grid a couple of times and he called me over. He changed my leg position. Less heel, more thigh. What? Sarah and I had been working so hard on me having an effective lower leg! What?? Why would I take it off now? He could sense my confusion and said “Don’t take it off, just test the temperature with it. Don’t use it as a brace.”

Huh. ok.

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My toe could be more forward here, but mare is looking pretty happy.

It was kind of like magic.  I had the best ride on Macy I have ever had. At one point I even said out loud that I was having fun.

No head tossing, no arguing, it was like I was riding a super capable horse without all the baggage.

Like magic.

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This is her usual tail position on the backside

I’m not sure if she was having a good day, or missed Gary, or was happy to be riding with her BFF Rapid, but the entire ride was great. Huh. Maybe, just maybe, I’m learning to ride this mare.

Here’s a short video of the grid:

While it has been more about Macy than June lately, that’s about to change. Baby has been settling in SO well and there’s lots to report. So, be prepared for baby horse spam soon.

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Cross Country Schooling

It’s been a year since I’ve galloped around xc. Ok, so not counting the Irish adventure. But still, a full year since Georgie and I went to Rebecca and did the T3D. And that was our last time on a xc course. So, the way things were going with Macy I figured I’d just skip xc this year, which saddened me and made me a bit panicky (would I remember how to ride xc??) but I realized it was reality.

But then one day, when Sarah asked, “Do you want to go school the local xc course on the 4th?” I blurted out “YES!” before thinking the entire thing through. I’d be riding Macy.

Eh, I can always bail or just watch others jump.

So, we went. And I was nervous, which made Macy spooky and me tense and stiff and it wasn’t a great warm up. When Sarah sent us out to do three logs we got them done and I was SO proud of myself. SO proud, in fact, that I said “I’m happy to do Beginner Novice stuff today, but maybe nothing bigger. ”

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She was so happy. And confused why I was messing with her so much

Yeah, that didn’t happen. Sarah wasn’t going to make this mare jump small logs all day.

I want to say that Macy was amazing. She was SUCH a good girl despite my inadequacies as a rider. She was so happy to be out there. Happy for the both of us, because I was still a stiff, leg off, backwards riding passenger. And while I hadn’t ridden xc in a year, she hadn’t been out in at least two years, so she had every right to be a hot mess. But she wasn’t. She stood quietly and waited our turn, and was as easygoing as I could have ever hoped for.

The beginning wasn’t pretty. But the fun group of women I was with cheered me on like I was running Rolex. I forced Macy into stopping a Novice jump. I gave her no leg, became completely unyielding in the rein and she was like “I gots nowhere to go!!” It was a kind stop that unravelled well before we got to the jump. After that I got better. But there was lots of room for improvement.

By the end though, we were actually having fun. We jumped what I would consider a Training line. Corner to corner four stride, then a little gallop to a down bank into water, through the water and 3 strides to a chevron.

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Whee!

Macy was awesome. I was ok. And together we got it done.

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Chevrons are no big deal…

I spent three years riding the same horse cross country, and it was so fun. But I didn’t learn nearly as much as I did in this one lesson with Macy. And maybe that’s not completely true. Maybe I learned a ton on Georgie which enabled me to ride a horse like Macy. She’s not easy, but she’s honest. And I love honest. It’s easy to ride honest. I just needed to learn to trust her and let her do her thing, while supporting her along the way.

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Loving her here

It was SO great to get back out there. Well, the last 30 minutes were great. The first 90 were a bit scary. For no reason. Macy is “hot” and “sensitive” but if I ignore the head tossing (which weirdly minimizes when I ride forward instead of backwards) it’s actually a ton of fun.

I’m actually adding a video. Again, remember, work in progress, it’s not like this is what I think is ideal…

It was a great way to spend the holiday and I can’t thank Sarah enough for continuing to let me ride her mare and pushing my comfort zone.

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June is Home!

My birthday fell on a Sunday this year and I knew it was the perfect day to bring June home. 

Despite all the traveling I’ve been doing, I was ready to jump BACK on the road. June is from a beautiful mountain town, so I spent one night with a friend and then went and got her my birthday morning.

The dogs had the best time playing Saturday night


I was pretty nervous about the trip. She’d been in a trailer twice, and both those times  were for 10 minutes and with another horse. This would be her alone for a full 5 hours.

June loaded up like a champ and she travelled like one too. It was HOT, so I drove FAST, and when I got home 5 hours later, despite being a bit sweaty she was really no worse for wear.

She settled RIGHT in and began eating and exploring her paddock. Unfortunately, her paddock mate MAY have injured herself the night before and needs some stall rest. #babyshenanigans


So, she was by herself kind of isolated from the other horses as her paddock is at the very front of the property. She didn’t seem to care and just took it all in.

We spent today going for a little walk about.  She was great. The only thing that spooked her was seeing trainer Sarah

#smarthorse


She also got to meet half sister Rapid! 


It was pretty adorable. Rapid loves  everyone and every horse and ran out of her stall to greet her sibling. They don’t look much alike beyond being almost grey but I’m excited to get them together to compare and contrast.

It’s so great having June at the barn. I’m so excited to get started with the foundation work. Here’s to a new chapter and lots of fun in the future!

Fraggle Friday

It’s not lost on me that I missed Fraggle Friday last week. My dogs were being replaced by their counterparts in NY

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Clearly I have a “type.”

It’s good to be home with my girls, although they seem to have had a bit too much fun while I was gone, as they’re both pooped.

 

Hot weather meant it was time to break out the pool for Siri. Her favorite place to be after a good run.

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Happy Fraggle Friday everyone!

 

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