Tag Archives: baby horse

What A Week!

June got put through ALL her paces this past week, and I’ve got to admit, I am very proud of how she stepped up to the plate.

On Tuesday, she had her first lesson since returning. I had Trainer Sarah hop on her first-I wanted Sarah to have a clear idea of where June was at and what we needed to work on. Sarah worked her hard. She didn’t let June get away with anything, and while June kept trying different tactics, (which will be a post of its own) in the end, June was willing and tried hard.

And then, Sarah handed the reins to me. And all I could think was “You want me to get on her after you just worked her hard? Great. She’s going to buck me into next week.” I mean, that was pretty much the MO of our last ride. She got tired, I made her keep working, and she said “NO THANK YOU.” (That loudly..)

But I hopped on her and I got this.

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Sorry for the blurry screenshot, but you get the idea…

She went to work and really, really, impressed me. We worked for about 20 minutes and I got a feel for all her evasion tactics, but also got a glimpse of what things would be like in the future. And I am really,really, excited.

Next up was trail ride with my friend Haley and her talented and adorable OTTB Tommy. This would be a tough ride for June. Lots of hills and lots of tough terrain. It was also her first trail ride with me back in the saddle since her return. She loaded up easily (and has even been granted her hay bag back so she can eat out of that instead of a hay net) and after a quick lunge at the trail head, we were off.

She was basically perfect.

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Incredible views

She led, followed, thought about where she was putting her feet, ignored Siri running around, and even crossed a stream! I was thrilled with her.

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I hoped she was tired, because the day wasn’t over for her yet.

When we got back to the barn, Haley and I brought our horses into the indoor arena and got ready for a time-honored fall tradition.

Clipping.

I’ve clipped June’s bridle path, and de-sensitized her to the sound and feel of clippers, but this would be her first time getting body clipped. I soon realized I didn’t have an extra extension cord and that she would just have to ground tie. So, expecting the worst, I got started. And she stood there, back foot cocked, not moving for about 3/4 of the entire experience. She got a little antsy at the end, especially since Tommy was also done, so we have some finish work to do. But honestly, I clipped her head, belly, flank,and had zero issues. She couldn’t have been easier. Um, she was better than Georgie. But don’t tell anyone I said that.

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I think she likes her trace clip…

And then, to end the week, I agreed to help out with Drill Team. You may remember I did this with Georgie a couple of years ago.  It’s kind of organized insanity. Lots of horses, flags, more horses, and lots of riding in pairs.

June was a little skeptical. Not about the flags flying by her, but by horses getting too close to her. She made it clear she likes her personal space.

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Flag flying around behind her? No big deal. Horse wanting to befriend her? Skeptical.

She was, once again, a really, really, good sport for all of it. We did some “pattern” work and her biggest challenge was slowing down for her partner, a western pleasure horse who was in no hurry.

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See that paint behind us? That’s our partner who had some trouble keeping up….

I’m hopeful drill makes a warm up arena seem like no big deal.

It was quite a week for this baby horse’s brain, and I think she proved to me just how capable she is of being a big girl!

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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    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.
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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!

 

 

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Back In Business Part 2

When I arrived at the barn the day following June’s vet visit, I had already heard from barn management that she happily ate all her breakfast. I had relayed very specific instructions about PM feeding, but when I arrived, they hadn’t been implemented, which put me into a bit of a tizzy. But, in taking June out for a walk, to assess how she was feeling, I realized all would be well. Back to her usual antics, she immediately tried to pull me over to the grass pasture as we walked the property.

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Back to normal!

And then, as we got farther away from the barn, the wind picked up, and June started to feel a bit fresh. When the neighbor’s horses whinnied to her, she about lost her mind and began fancy prancing with her tail over her back, as if she was now a Paso Fino.

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Mom do you hear them? They are calling for MEEEEEE

While I had strict instructions to just take her out for walks for a couple of days before putting her back into work, I knew mare had some steam to blow. And rather than have her get silly in her paddock, I decided to let her blow it off in the large outdoor arena.

Oh I am glad I did

After that, I knew she was really feeling back to normal. As Amelia from Dark Jewel Designs said after seeing the video “What do you think when she does that? Yay she is feeling better or oh crap I have to ride that?”

Definitely a mix of both???? lol

Fortunately, when I rode her a couple of days later, she was a very good girl. I didn’t ask for much at all, we mainly just walked around and then picked up the trot for maybe 5-10 minutes. I had lunged her beforehand, and she was forward but not silly, always a good sign. In the trot under saddle she would reach for the contact and while it was inconsistent, I was happy she remembered a bit about leg to hand and what the expectation is.

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Thanks to Michelle at Fat Buckskin in a Little Suit I have a new barn coat to keep me warm!

I’m excited to be back at it with her and hopefully we’ll enter a schooling dressage show next month!

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Back in Business. Until We’re Not.

A week ago I made the drive to pick up June and bring her home. I would be bringing her home in my new to me trailer and was nervous, as she had only driven in it twice, and those were very short trips. This would be a solid 5 hour drive. But, she seemed comfortable in the trailer thus far, and fingers were crossed we wouldn’t have any issues.

When I arrived to pick her up she was happily eating hay with the other horses. She heard my voice as I approached her and she turned, pricked her ears and looked at me. While she didn’t come running to me, it was cute that she recognized my voice and didn’t run away.

She loaded right up and we were headed out. My truck pulls the trailer incredibly well, and the stabilizer bars on the hitch seem to really help. I didn’t feel any shifting in the trailer, and unlike most times when I haul her, I allowed myself to relax a bit. I stopped about 3.5 hours into the drive to get fuel and check on June. She was happy and comfortable. While she did paw a bit once I opened the door, she wasn’t wide eyed or frantic. Success! I have to say, I’m really in love with this trailer! And it seems June is too!

Her first week back started out well. She had been living on about 50 acres, and while I imagine she did quite a bit of walking around, she’s pretty, um, plump, so I figured she’s pretty unfit. Tuesday I did some round pen work and she was very good. She definitely got bored quickly, but I didn’t ask too much of her in her first day. Wednesday I just ran her around the arena and spent some time grooming her. She got Thursday off, and Friday we went for our first ponying trail ride!

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She and Siri had a quick discussion

Thanks to my friend Meg, I rode Smokey and ponied June. June was really, really, good. Not a foot out of place, and she soon realized Smokey needed her space and wasn’t messing around. I was really happy about the entire experience and think June enjoyed herself.

On Saturday I stopped by the barn after work, so everyone had left for the day. June was in her shelter despite there being hay in her feed tub. June is typically a hoover, so I was surprised she wasn’t eating. I took her for a walk over to one of the alfalfa fields to see if she’d want to eat. She didn’t, which was unusual. Highly unusual.

I brought her to the indoor to see how she would do on the lunge line. She pooped right when we got in, which is normal for her, and stood quietly as I groomed her. She was ok on the lunge line, but a bit lazy. When I took her back to her pen, she went right to her feed tub. I watched her for a moment and figured I would get a call if she was off in the morning.

I didn’t get a call and so I was surprised to show up and once again find June in her shelter and hay strewn everywhere. Clearly she had not been eating.

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Hmm… suspicious

I called the barn manager and she agreed that June hadn’t been eating well. Frustrated that no one had thought was strange, I called the vet. Because I really missed emergency vet visits.

The vet arrived and initial exam showed good gut sounds on the left, but not the right.  Normal heart and respiratory rate. The veterinarian sedated June and gave her Banamine IV. Fecal exam had some dry feces at first, with softer, more normal feces further down. Then she had a naso gastric tube inserted so she could get all sorts of goodies pumped into her. She was a good, dopey mare for all of it

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I was instructed to remove all hay from her paddock and see if she would eat a flake in the AM. She was already much brighter heading back to her paddock, whinnying to her friends and stepping out. She was PISSED when I tied her so I could remove the hay, and when I untied her she immediately went to her feed tub and then looked at me like “mom! WTH!”

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A much happier June walking back to her paddock

I’ve given instructions to the barn’s staff to call me if she doesn’t have an appetite in the AM, but I think (as does the veterinarian) it was a mild impaction, and we are on the road to recovery. Poor mare got hauled here, put back into (light) work, new hay, new feeding schedule, all sorts of weather changes and she can’t walk and graze all day long like she was. Sort of the recipe for a colic. The biggest bummer is that I hadn’t started her on Smartpak’s Colic Care yet, so now will have to wait a year in order to sign her up for the program. (If they have a record of colic, they need to be colic free for a year prior to signing up for the benefits). I’m considering getting her insured sooner rather than later, and am considering insuring her for major medical rather than going the ColicCare route. Any thoughts about experiences with great insurance would be appreciated!

So there you have it! June’s first week back was anything but boring. I’m hoping to get back in the saddle for some walk rides this week, and hoping we will pick up where we left off (minus the falling off) again soon!

 

 

 

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June’s Unexpected Vacation

About 3 months ago Sarah laid this on me:

“I think it would be good for June to get some time off at the end of the season.”

To which I responded:

“What? Why? Isn’t that what ALL of last winter was??????”

To which Sarah explained that she had a big summer where her baby brain was introduced to so many new things. It would be great for her to be able to process that, and doesn’t she deserve to have some time off?

And I thought, as I always do… What Would Denny (Emerson) Do? See I try to live by the WWDD motto as I feel he brings horses along so thoughtfully. And, well, Mr Emerson would definitely give June some time off.

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Love this face so much!

So, I looked at some dates and figured I would send her off to her breeder for a month in November. She could romp and play with her friends, and she wouldn’t be close enough that I would be tempted to go bother her.

But then I injured my tailbone. And decided to rethink things. As lovely as it was having Sarah put rides on her, I didn’t want to have her unridden by me for a month or so, and then have her go away for a month.

So, I reworked my plans and June got an early vacation. Of course, I was super bummed. There were two really fun schooling shows coming up in October and I was considering taking her to her first recognized event in November. But, since I can’t seem to stay in the saddle, those would all be off the table for now.

So, this past weekend, I made the 10 hour round trip drive up to June’s breeder. She loaded well and travelled great. When we arrived, the equine dentist was there busy working on horses, there was a crap ton of cows bellowing down the street as they moved from one pasture to another, and a gentleman was cutting wood with an electric saw in the parking lot. June just looked around, took it all in, and was like “huh. This look familiar.”

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She enjoyed a post drive roll in the indoor arena

I walked her up to her temporary pen (until horses were released post teeth floats), and as I went to say goodbye to her, she caught sight of her brother. And it was like I no longer existed.

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Ok, mom, see you later. Um, Riffle? Riffle, I’m over here! Can you see me? Can we go play? Um, Riffle, I bet I’m faster than you now. Also, my kick has gotten REALLY good!

Love you too, June.

I’m already sad and miss her a ton. I know it’s only a month, but we had become so bonded, and she would whinny for me whenever she saw me, and she hated having me out of her sight, and and and.

And it will be fine.

Baby horse deserves a vacation and I need to heal so I am strong enough not to fall off again.

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Compare and Contrast

I find myself quite lucky to not only have June’s half-sister at my barn, but also for the fact that she is Sarah’s horse. June and Rapid share a sire, Riverman, but they have two very different moms. Rapid’s mom was a Connemara/TB cross, whereas June’s is a QH. Rapid’s mom (who has sadly passed away), had a sibling who ran at the 2* level, whereas June doesn’t really have any eventers in her family tree on her mom’s side.

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June would like to interrupt this post to remind me of how cute she is

Sarah started Rapid as a baby as well. She took her time with her, and, at 7, Rapid is getting ready to go Training. (She qualified for AECs at Novice in her first three outings at the level!) At first though, I wasn’t sure I really liked Rapid. I mistook “baby” for “naughty.” I remember thinking how impatient she was when being groomed. She was always getting in trouble when tied up. And then there was the time she tried to jump out of Sarah’s trailer window, using the manger as a stepping stool. And then, on her first xc outing she pulled the “stop,drop, and roll” maneuver. You are cantering along, she stops, drops her shoulder, and you fall right off the front of her.

But, now, I laugh. Because OMG she sounds JUST like June. Does jumping out of trailers run in the family or something? And they both have quite the buck. Just saying. But where I have learned to appreciate Rapid, and hope that June will follow suit, is in her movement and jumping.

Rapid is scopey. And despite hovering around 15hh, she makes light work of any jump you put in front of her.

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Oh hey big table…

And while she moves differently than June, they both have a lovely trot. Rapid just has more of a powerful hind end… at least for now.

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What was super fun for me was when I got a pic of both mares before we went on our trail ride last week.

I could compare and contrast all day, but really what I am struck by is how much more filled out Rapid looks than June! June looks like a 4 year old and Rapid looks like a muscled, fit, eventing pony! June will get there one day… I know!

I have been keeping my eye on Rapid, and letting it help me figure out June a little bit. I’m excited to see her future with Sarah, and I hope June has the talent her half-sister does!

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June’s FEH Experience Part 1

Because I have SO MUCH to say, I’ve broken this post up into two parts. This post will be about June, and the next one will be about the actual event and FEH experience.

We loaded up and left Wednesday morning for our 11-12 hour drive. That’s right. I was driving up to 12 hours for an FEH class. Living in Idaho makes these sorts of drives seem normal. It was HOT for much of the drive, but Sarah’s trailer had great ventilation and June looked perky and happy at all our stops. Since this was a two-day event for all but the FEH classes, we were pretty much the first to arrive besides the organizers. June settled in like a champ and I have to say, she’s already pretty much a pro about traveling and going places by herself.

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Don’t worry she didn’t dump me, I just have a random lunging photo

Thursday was going to be HOT, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to ride June early, or later, when there was a bit more atmosphere. I ended up lunging her in the AM and she was a good girl. I think she was happy to get out of her stall and stretch her legs. People began to arrive and so I decided to hop on her around 11:30. I think that because so many people were arriving, and there was more going on, June was a bit more antsy. I decided to lunge her before hopping on and wouldn’t you know it, she had a few bucks in her… She bucked so hard that she got away from me and cantered back to her stall. Lucky for me, the woman who caught her said “Same thing happened to us last year.” Eventers are the nicest.

I had planned on riding by myself, just hacking around and doing some walk/trot work, but now I was a bit nervous that I wouldn’t have the horse I knew back at home. So, Sarah happily came with me, and I ended up having an impromptu lesson. June was basically perfect in that she wasn’t spooky, didn’t buck and handled the going ons with no issue. There wasn’t an arena, so I was a bit nervous to canter-I’ve never cantered June in the open before. But, as we settled in, I opted to do some canter work.

It went ok except for one thing. I could not for the life of me get June to pick up her right lead canter. This hadn’t ever been an issue. She was solid on her leads. I think she’s maybe once picked up the wrong lead? So, we worked for a while and got it. Then got it again, and called it a day.

I checked my ride time again Thursday afternoon and was excited to see that there were two more people entered in our division. I became less excited when I realized they were both seasoned, upper level, professionals, but still, it would be nice to share the arena with other horses.

Our ride time wasn’t until 3:40 on Friday so I spent the morning walking June around and just letting her see everything that was going on. Last thing I wanted was for her to be surprised there were a lot of horses and people here now. I braided her at the trailer since our stalls were far from us, and I didn’t feel like hauling all my crap down there. She was distracted and a bit antsy but we got it done. She looked pretty damn cute all braided.

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When I hopped on June to go warm up, she was a bit high. There was only one place to warm up/ride on the entire property. Because there was also a dressage schooling show going on, and people were riding their horses on their own, the warm up area was a bit chaotic. June got down there, threw her neck and head high up into the air and took it all in. Then I proceeded to make her walk around the arenas and by our second time around, she was cool as a cucumber. Love her brain.

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PNW eventing sure is beautiful

There were horses coming at us, bikes riding by us, children screaming ( I may have imagined that) and I was trying to steer and listen to Sarah through all of it. It went ok. She was super fussy in the bridle, tossing her head, but paying attention. Canter left went ok. (In that I didn’t run into anyone or run away). Canter right was not happening. I think I tried 8 times to get the correct lead? And I couldn’t get it done before we were called to begin the class.

At this point I got a chance to see the other horses in my class. My first thought? “Well, we’ll still be happy with 3rd place!” Honestly. I really didn’t pay much attention to the other horses or riders, but it was VERY clear they were much further along in their training than June was. They were round and on the bit. One, who ended up winning, was stunning. Beautiful mover and clearly this wasn’t her first show. The other was a really good-looking OTTB who had filled out nicely  and looked to be a solid citizen despite only having come off the track this spring. I found out later that the winning horse was entered at Novice (but moved down to BN) and the OTTB was entered Intro. They came in 4th and 2nd, respectively, in their divisions. These were really nice 4 year olds!

But, really, my goal was to get a regional championships qualifying score, and that would be based on my horse, and how we did, not on the others. So, we entered the dressage arena and began to show our horses off at the walk. And then the trot. And then we changed direction.  June was fuss busing the entire time, I couldn’t really get a good connection or get the trot I really wanted. But that was ok, because we were staying in the arena and she was not spooky or completely distracted by her environment.

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After the walk and trot, two of us were asked to exit the arena so the one horse could canter. She was asked to pick up the canter on a 20 meter circle.

And this is where I began to panic.

I haven’t done any work at the canter on a 20 meter circle. I thought we would be using the entire arena. I thought we would be essentially doing an equitation class. Had I read this somewhere? Had I made it up? I don’t know. What I did know was this would be our very first 20 meter canter…

It wasn’t great. We got to go left first (thank God) and June picked up the canter, and then fell out of it coming out of the corner. We got it again and kept it. But it was long and strung out and not the canter I wanted to show off.

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And then we went right. Before the class I asked Sarah “So, I just keep trying for the correct lead, right?” She said yes, but we both knew there was a chance June may not show off her right lead canter.

She didn’t get it on the first try.

She didn’t get it on the second try.

And right before the third try I whispered to her “June, please don’t do this to me.”

And we got the correct lead.

We veered around that circle and there was zero pretty about it. But, we got the correct lead.

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I am excited for what this canter will be one day

The woman on the OTTB also had difficulty with her horse getting the correct lead but she was far faster at resolving the problem. She did it in one stride, it took me 2-3 to get June back to the trot, and then try again.

And then we were asked to remove our saddles for the conformation portion. June was a good girl for this, but at one point she cocked a back foot and I was like “Uh, no, you can’t be lazy right now,” and made her stand with all four feet on the ground.

At the end of the class, when the three of us were standing with our horses in a line, the judge came up to us and told us we should all be very proud of our horses for handling this environment as well as they did and that was so pleased to see 3 very different, but very nice, horses. She said something nice about each horse, and for June it was something like “She was a bit green today, but she is a lovely, athletic, type.”

Yup, she is. She’s also quite green. Which is why we entered an FEH class. But more on that later.

June was such a good girl and I am really happy with how well she behaved and how she took it all in stride. I had no idea what to expect at her first show, and I learned that I can ask more of her, she’s not going to be fazed by all that is going on around her.

We did come in 3rd place, but we were more competitively scored than I expected. And, we qualified for championships, which was my goal!

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Yes, flip flops. I literally took her out, took the pic and put her back. It’ll never happen again, I promise.

June had a good night, and she traveled home like a champ. She handled the long travel days really well and today was happy to go out on pasture and eat as much grass as she wanted. She’ll have a couple of days off and then we’ll be right back to work. This mare is so fun and I can’t wait to continue learning with her.

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I have SO MANY thoughts about this event, and I can’t wait to share them with you in my next post.

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FEH Prep

I leave WEDNESDAY for Washington, where June will be competing in the 4yr old FEH class. Right now it looks like she’s her biggest competitor. Since she’s the only one entered in the class. I’m super bummed about this for a multitude of reasons, but primarily because I want these classes to be supported. I love that  USEA created these classes as an alternate to the YEH classes, but from what I’ve seen here in Area 7, not many people are attending them. Which is a huge bummer.

And while really, June is only competing against herself despite how many horses may be in the class, it would be nice for the judge to have other horses to keep her eyes on. Sure, this will be more like a dressage test in that all eyes are on me, but yikes, an equitation style class seemed way more appealing when I signed up.

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I mean, yes this is cute to look at, but still…

Regardless, June and I are walking, trotting, and cantering pretty solidly. Sure, she can be behind the leg and a little lazy, but I am hoping that’s nothing a tap from a dressage whip can’t help!

A week ago an a**hole decided to shoot an exploding target in a campground (I don’t even know what an exploding target is) and he started a massive forest fire about 8 miles from our barn. When I say massive, I’m talking over 50,000 acres and it is still only about 49% contained. It has moved from where my barn is, north, to where a lot of friends live. They’re in “pre evacuation” notice, meaning get ready to get the hell out.

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Scary,scary shit PC: Blaine County Sheriff’s Office

As you can imagine, when there is a forest fire in your backyard, the smoke is thick and you can feel it in your lungs. It’s like a perpetual campfire you can’t get away from. I gave June two days off during the worst of it, and then, when the wind was blowing it out of our area, I brought her back into light work. It seems the worst of it has passed (thank you firefighters!) so we’ve resumed our normal schedule.

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When you do the Intro A test, there are lots of pics of you trotting

In our non riding/exercising days I practiced wrapping legs again, clipped her tail and bridle path and practiced braiding her mane. She was great for all of it.

I think we’re about as ready as we can be! I’m super excited to get outta dodge with my pony, dogs and BFF. It’ll be fun to see how June handles the atmosphere and if the judge thinks she’s as special a horse as I do.

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Not So Boring Basics

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

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

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I have some amazing media for this post so GET READY

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

And so we did.

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

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The four legged family

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

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

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

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Mouth full of hay, of course

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

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

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

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Always making me smile

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

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June’s Birthday Weekend

 

So, not long ago, (like a week ago), I decided it would benefit June and I to go to a local-ish derby and school the cross country course. The facility is a little over 2 hours away, but it has great obstacles AND I knew there would be lots of riders. I really haven’t been able to get her out and about into situations where there is a lot going on, and I want to see how she handles these situations in preparation for the FEH competition in August. I’ve been reluctant to go anywhere that involves a sleep over because of Stella, but she has been doing so well that I figured I’d bring her along and find a pet sitter for Siri. The idea of taking young horse/young dog still stresses me out a bit.

I loaded June up early Saturday AM and headed over. She loaded well but then the baby horse antics began. She was back there pawing and dancing and it was kind of annoying, especially since the wind was so strong, I really couldn’t drive over 65mph.

When we arrived at the facility I realized she had untied herself. The trailer I was borrowing didn’t have a divider so I imagine she spent some time walking around back there. She had eaten all her hay though, so she clearly had her priorities. Interestingly, about halfway through the drive the wind had died down and I didn’t feel the trailer pulling any more, so she must have just started munching at that point. Things could have been far worse I suppose.

What I am learning about June, and perhaps is true of most baby horses, is that she is prone to tantrums, but they are short lived. She still struggles with being tied alone, whether on the trailer or off, but she knows to settle down eventually. She got off of the trailer, tied nicely with minimal pawing while I groomed her , was calm while we walked around before our lesson time, and then was all business for the lesson itself. She could have cared less about the other riders, horses, or any of the chaos around us.

We schooled a ditch, log, and A frame before moving to the bank complex. She was unfazed by all of these and the bank was no different. She seemed to really be enjoying herself!

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We took a short break and then headed over to the water complex. She was a bit freaked out by the water. There was some snorting, and side eye, and she was reluctant to get in it. Or near it. In her defense it was dyed a crazy turquoise color. But I have no idea if horses can see that color? So, anyway, it took some time. And lots of Sarah telling me to just be patient. But then, about 30 minutes later, someone was happily trotting through the water!

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The water was great for pictures even if it was a bit unnatural looking!

We called it a day on that, and June headed back to stabling where she got to rest, relax and think all about how great water was. Meanwhile, we returned to the event and volunteered to get it all set up for the following day. Unlike June, Stella thought the water complex was the BEST THING EVER.

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This is her “please throw rocks for me” look.

She was pretty damn adorable- especially since she can’t really see so she would miss about 50% of the rocks I was throwing. She had probably one of the best days ever, and I can’t tell you how great it was to have my best horse show dog with me.

Because I could, and because we felt it was good for June to get right back in the water, I loaded her up early the next morning and took her back to the facility. (We were stabling just 5 minutes down the road.) She didn’t want to get in the trailer, especially after a night of hanging out with her friends. But, we got her loaded (yay for people helping!) and off we went. She was a bit more high this time, but in her defense, I was in a hurry and just like “we need to get out there asap, before the event starts” which is really never the best mind frame to be in with a baby horse. They don’t always respond well to people hurrying.

I did minimal lunging and then walked over to the water complex. We walked the edge with no issue. I lunged her on the bank with no issue. I then asked her to lunge into the water and there was no issue. Within 5 minutes we were lunging in the middle of the complex and she was perfect. So, I snapped a pic, gave her some big pats, and we were done!

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This is her “I’m fine with water” look

I was going to be volunteering for a few hours and debated about taking her back to her stall. But, I was running out of time and figured this could be a great exercise in just standing for her. So, I tied her and her hay bag to the trailer and hoped for the best. As I was leaving I could hear her pawing away, and figured that at some point someone would complain about the unruly horse that’s tied to the trailer.

An hour in and I heard no complaints.

An hour and a half in, and Sarah texted me that June was standing quietly at the trailer

Two hours in and a colleague told me June was being so good at the trailer!

And at three hours, when I got back to the trailer, there she was, just hanging out. She was completely calm and relaxed.

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Hi mom! Where have you been?

I just can’t fully express how great this weekend was. I achieved so much with June, and got such a good sense of what I can expect from her. She was such a rock star about ALL of it. From being left alone, to being introduced to jumping xc obstacles, to working among chaos. She wasn’t barn sour, or scared, or difficult, at all. If I can remember to be patient with her, and really plan for the fact that I am working with a baby horse, I think the sky’s the limit with her.

And as for Stella, this weekend just reminded me how lucky I am to have had her for almost 15 years. She was the cutest, best behaved dog, who just rolled with the punches all weekend. Whether she had to be in the truck, or tied to the tent while I was volunteering to score for the event, she was cool with all of it and friendly with everyone.

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Plus, her bed head in the morning is amazing

I realized, driving home, how badly I needed this weekend. A weekend where my animals brought me nothing but joy. A weekend where I could see the future with one and enjoy the present with the other. And while I don’t know what the future holds with either,  a weekend where I could just enjoy everything about them, in two very different ways, has put a smile on my face that I can’t seem to shake. These are the moments we live for, right?

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