So.Much.Progress.

In working with June almost every day, I’m seeing tons of progress.

I think I’ll just photo spam in order to get you up to speed….

Our lessons get better and better. And while she may have had a bit of a meltdown in my trailer where she cut up her face and leg pretty badly, the next time she traveled in my trailer she was a perfect angel. Oh, and I can send her into my trailer without issue. No more trailer loading issues. It’s amazing.

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Me goes in trailer now. And behaves

She has learned to side up to the fence. This was a super exciting part of our lesson where June got used to literally a monkey (me) up around her back. She is totally fine with it.

And while my weight was mostly on the fence, and not on her, it’s a great step before we actually put me on her back.

And speaking of things on her back… she now happily wears a saddle WITH a girth 🙂

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Picture taken prior to girth being put on

She is amazing at posing with friends, too…

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And, trot poles are no big deal. I can send her right over them.

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Every time I see her I get excited about how uphill she is built

She makes me so happy. Even when she is sassy. I love the sass. The other day when I sent her around the round pen she pinned her ears and tossed her head at me. Bring it baby, bring it.

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Ground work has been so fun and so meaningful. She is teaching me so much and our bond grows stronger and stronger each day.

She is smart and sensible; brush boots, fly masks, scissors near her face as I tame her mane, no big deal.

A barrel falling right in front of her. Whatever.

LOVE.

Another lesson this coming Monday at a new location. We’ll see what fun things Dana has in store for us!

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History

There has been much talk of history in the news lately. And while this is in no way a political blog, it’s tough for me to turn a blind eye to the atrocious acts that have been occurring in our country of late. I am embarrassed by our country’s leader and horrified that hate groups feel emboldened to come out of hiding. Our country has parts of its history that we shouldn’t be proud of, but instead of moving forward, we’re bringing the past into the present.

History is a tricky thing. You can’t erase it. But by living the present in the way you want the future to be, you can change the course of the past.  That made sense on my morning run, I hope it still does now, as well.

Macy has a storied past. You really can’t say her name around someone who knows her without getting some sort of story about her past. And while her event record on paper is quite flawless and speaks to the athlete she is, the entire picture of this horse is more than what you see by looking up her record on useventing.com

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Macy has a history of being a difficult horse. She’s quirky. She’s a pro ride. She doesn’t make it easy.  She’d spook and bolt and bite and kick and really wasn’t very pleasant to be around.

I got to hear all about this when I decided to start riding her this spring. And, as you can imagine, hearing the history of this horse made me feel a bit less than confident around her. And, as you can imagine, Macy took full advantage of this.

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Even Sarah couldn’t get Macy to listen to her

And we had our mishaps and frustrations and my confidence plummeted. To where I dreaded riding her. And dreaded having a lesson where Sarah would yell at me because I over reacted when Macy over reacted and the entire thing was a disaster.

So, I stepped back and essentially started over. I stopped riding Macy as if she were my next event horse. I had lessons that were completely at the walk. My attitude about riding her began to change. I slowly started to trust her more and more. I could sense when she was going to spook, or toss her head, and reacted appropriately and with minimal fuss. We moved on, instead of letting it overtake the lesson. I rolled my eyes when she wanted to bolt and made her get right back to work. I was over the behavior. But more in a motherly way than that of a scared child.

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And since then, Macy has begun to change the path of her history. She’s become a rideable, calm, enjoyable, dare I say it, fun, horse to be around. We have been having a fantastic time together. We went and schooled cross country and Sarah was essentially silent the entire time I was riding. She had a few pointers for me, and there were some laughable moments, but all in all, it was a great outing. Macy was calm and relaxed and so was I.  We haven’t had a bad ride in over a month, maybe two.

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I have my theories about why Macy is a changed mare, but they are theories. Sarah thinks it’s because I am riding her better, and am more confident, and that may be a (large) part of it. I think the other part is that a) it’s bloody hot and who wants to put in the effort to be bad? and more likely, b) Macy realizes she isn’t a 2* mare anymore and is ok with just plodding along. I honestly believe that so much of her past behavior came from a place of “I MUST BE AMPED UP WE ARE JUMPING BIG JUMPS AND GALLOPING FAST.” We haven’t done any of that together and I think she’s realized it’s a thing of the past. Her future is going to be all about galloping at a moderate pace over pretty insignificant jumps. And I think she’s ok with it. More than ok with it.

So, here’s to not letting history dictate our future. Enjoying the present and letting it be the guide of what our future holds.

 

 

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Past, Present, Future

I’ve somehow gone from having one horse to ride, to having none, to having three horses in consistent work.

On Sunday I was feeling frazzled with having to get them all done while still fitting in a long run, cleaning my house, and going to dinner with a friend.

It was then that I mentally split them up into categories, to help me figure out what my priorities are.

Macy represents the Present. She’s what I’ve got now to learn from. And while she probably isn’t going to be my Present forever, for now I need to make sure I take care of her so she can handle what I ask of her.

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Like getting her fit enough to go run around a xc course.

And while sometimes I’m happy with Macy, and sometimes I’m not, she’s what I’ve got right now. So, I plan on learning as much as I can out of the present situation.

June represents the Future.

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I’ve put all my eggs in one basket with her, so to speak. I need to ensure we’ll have a great future together by putting in the time with her now. Daily outings of some sort, so that when I am on her back she isn’t surprised or confused by much. The work has been fun, and challenging some days, but I know it’s worth it in the end, and I am so excited about what the future holds.

And Georgie represents the Past.

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Which doesn’t mean I love her any less. It just means that on days when I am frazzled and short on time, she is going to be the one who doesn’t get out. Or, for whom the plan changes from a hack in the hills to a walk down the road.

We’ve had an incredible past.

For some reason categorizing these horses this way has helped me be more realistic about what I can get done, and what is a priority. Have any of you thought of things in this way? What do you do when you’re feeling like you’re short on time when it comes to getting horses out?

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Fraggle Friday

Sometimes, I just can’t handle how cute she is.

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She gets away with a lot because of it.

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I feel like there should be some sort of puppy support group, a group of puppy moms that can commiserate on what’s going on with their puppy and be told it’s all going to be ok.

Because deep down I know she will grow up to be a fantastic dog, but some days I wonder what the hell I was thinking adopting a puppy.

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My Current Favorite Picture

Sure. It should be of June. Since she's my future.

And I do love this pic of her on a bridge casually relaxing.

But my new favorite picture is of Macy. You know, the mare I have been struggling to ride. The mare who can kill my confidence in the blink of an eye, (or bolt across the arena). I haven't hidden the fact that I'm not sure I'm the rider for her.
And I'm still not positive I am. But man she's been great lately.
And I've actually been having fun.
And letting go of the reins

And while she isn't impressed with any of it, I really am. Because it shows progress. And happiness. And those are both reasons why I spend all my money on this crazy passion.
So here's to more fun with this mare more learning and perhaps more surprisingly good rides on her.

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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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Fraggle Friday

It's been HOT!
Good thing the girls love swimming

Stella is one of the best swimmers I know. And despite her age she shows no hint of slowing down in the pond otter department.

She's also incredibly smart about where to lie when the heat is unbearable.
And not surprisingly she still lets me know photo ops are stupid on hikes.
This is a dog with serious opinions.
Which is probably why I love her so much.

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