Tag Archives: baby horses

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.

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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.

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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…

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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.”

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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.

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When You Can’t Ride, But Your Trainer Can

Thanks to June, I’m not doing much riding. Apparently, when you land directly on your tailbone, it hurts a lot. For a really long time. From what I’ve read, I could be out of commission for up to a month. Now, I don’t know if my tail bone is fractured, or merely bruised, but what I do know, is that doing pretty much anything is incredibly painful.

The good news, bad news, is that 4 days post fall, I was planning on going on vacation. I had been hoping to ride June the day I left, but there would be no riding since I could barely walk. But then, as I limped around, unable to sit, sleep, or do anything else without pain, I realized this was the perfect time to have Sarah ride J for me!

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See that blip up there? That’s Stella. The fact that she is walking that much faster to me can give you an idea of how much pain I am in.

I was so excited to have Sarah ride June. I hadn’t seen anyone ride June since I have been working with her, and I knew she’d get a great schooling ride with Sarah. On the other hand, I was a bit worried. June is far from broke, but what if I had done a crap job starting her so far? What if everything was wrong?

Good news. I hadn’t messed everything up thus far. As I had hoped, Sarah was able to hop on June and show me what she is ready for. What I should expect from her. It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, but what was great, was that June tried hard and was willing to work hard. I was able to see what we needed to work on, and what I shouldn’t accept from her. (Grabbing the bit is a no no. This sounds obvious, but when you let it happen for long enough you just assume it’s normal).

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June looks so happy despite working hard!

I assume there are going to be a few more June/Sarah rides happening, since I still can’t sit down without wincing. I’m excited to see how much June progresses by the time I am able to hop back on her!

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In the meantime, I’m going to just try to keep running away from those mini golf cougars.

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What Macy Didn’t Teach Me

Macy taught me so much in our year together. She taught me how to ride a bolt. How to ride a spook, How to ride a spook into a bolt.

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Usually I was good at riding the spook bolt. This time not so much

But she didn’t teach me how to ride a buck. Which, at the time, I really appreciated. But now, I could have used some practice.

Because for the third time June bucked me off.

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Yeah, I still love her though

Our lesson was going so well. We were working on connection. We were getting her to flex at the walk and trot. Then, we moved onto the canter. And we worked on some more connection, but also getting her to go forward on a 20 meter circle, and not having her run out her shoulder when we were at the open end of the arena.

She was getting tired. This was to be expected. She hadn’t worked this hard before for this long. She had been great so far. But this time, when I asked her to canter she was so incredibly behind the leg, and I could tell she really did not want to. So, I gave her a whack with the dressage whip.

And she responded with a double barrel kick that unseated me and threw me forward and then sideways. Unseating me freaked her out and she squirted forward. And I started falling off, but growing up a foxhunter taught me to never let go of the reins (who wants to walk miles home??) so I kept pulling on the left rein and she freaked out and well, I fell on my ass.

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When I stood up, there was Georgie , who was also being ridden in the arena. I looked at her and said “God I miss you.”

What’s the worst thing about falling off (when you’re totally ok)? Getting back on. It really is. Or, maybe the next day is the worst part. All I know is, I landed on my tailbone and my ring finger on my right hand did not want to bend. But despite the pain and the blood from ripping my fingernail back, I got back on and got back to work. I knew the faster I got what needed to be done, done, the faster I could go ice my hand.

June was really good. We did some more cantering, in both directions and my tailbone was on fire, but luckily we didn’t have to work long, since she was responding to everything I asked of her.

So, welcome to the world of opinionated mare babies? Maybe I’ll get better at sitting a buck. Maybe third time’s a charm. God I hope so.

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Show Jump Sunday

Labor Day weekend was a big one for June.  Saturday we had June’s First XC Schooling and then Sunday we had a jumper show at our barn. My plan was to do ground poles and cross rails. We hadn’t ever done a jump course before, so I figured ground poles could give me an idea of the turns, etc.

After a quick warm up, mostly in the round pen, June and I entered the arena for our first round. We trotted the poles, I let her look around a little, but really wanted her focused and turning.

We did well enough that Sarah mentioned what an organized and polished round it was.

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The barn swallows joined us

For my next round I decided to try to canter the poles as much as possible. Our turning while cantering is getting better, but still more Mack truck than Ferrari.

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I think she’s trotting here, but looking cute, so using the media

She was a good girl and it was no big deal.

So, next up, cross rails. Since this was our first jump course ever, I figured we would trot and if she wanted to canter, she could.

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It was definitely a mish mash of trot and canter, but she was forward and easy to steer and I was really happy with her!

Next up, a round where we canter the entire course!

I decided to ask for the canter in the corner before the first jump. We were going right, our less consistent direction, and June REALLY wanted to look out and run through her inside shoulder. So, we didn’t get our lead. Which was fine. We popped over jump one in the trot, and then cantered the rest of the course. Mare gets the whole “land and go on” idea, which I love.

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She got all her leads (from what I remember) for the rest of the course. And sure there was some veering, and she may have tried to run out at jump 3, but really, it was way more organized and flowing than I expected it to be.

Here’s a short video of us doing our final round

I considered entering 2′ but decided to end on such a positive note. We have lots of work to do, and jumping our first verticals in a show, isn’t going to help anything.

Overall, I was super duper happy with June. She was great about standing around, and then got right to work when we entered the arena. She did pull the “I’m not going forward” crap in between classes, when I wanted to walk her around, but she got over it pretty quickly and we walked all over the property once she understood that wasn’t allowed. She definitely has opinions, this mare.

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Not many people see me work with her day to day, so I think they were surprised to see me cantering a course, since last time I just trotted ground poles. Trainer D was there, riding a horse for a client and she was really impressed with how far June has come, which made me happy. A few other horse women I respect also commented on what a good job I’ve done with her, and their comments really meant a lot to me. There’s still so much to do, but I love the base we have and am excited to keep getting better and better.

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Jump Progress

Now that the FEH class is behind us, Trainer Sarah has been having us work on our jumping a bit more. June is taking to it incredibly well, and I like to think she rather enjoys it!

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She can clear a cross rail!

The progress has been really fun. Over the past month or so we have gradually begun to add to what June can do over jumps. We started with groundpoles, moved to a grid (groundpoles to a cross rail), then a single cross rail with placing poles on either side, and today we linked two cross rails together, only one with placing poles! It was basically our first course! And, last week, I lunged June out in our jump field over solid obstacles. Including the ditch! So, she’s getting experience with lots of different jumps.

It’s kind of amazing how things progress with baby horses. I was saying to Sarah how it isn’t linear, and you always have to expect the unexpected. For June and I, this unexpected set back has been our struggle to pick up the right lead correctly. We struggled and struggled with this in our last lesson. I  just couldn’t ask in the right timing, June wasn’t doing me any favors by dropping her shoulder while looking to the outside. So, I spent two days with her on the lunge line, trying to figure things out. Trying to apply what Sarah was telling me and figuring what might work. And, lo and behold, I got her to pick up the correct lead on the lunge consistently. But, all that trying got June a bit anxious and she started to canter even when I didn’t ask. And always on the incorrect lead. So, we’ll stop lunging at the canter. We’ll take that off the table until it is no longer a big deal anymore.

I took what I learned lunging her and applied it under saddle today. I was ready to have to ask, then ask again, then ask again, for the correct lead, but June picked up the correct lead the first time I asked. I took my time, made sure I was ready to ask and wouldn’t you know it, it was no big deal.

We cantered a full course! (It was 3 jumps but the excitement was as if it was 12!)

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Also, there are moments where this mare’s canter is dreamy. Those moments are fleeting, but I can’t wait to feel it more often once she is stronger!

Of course, her canter can be long and strung out, she doesn’t always keep the canter, getting her to steer to the jump (and over it) can be a task in itself, so nothing looks “pretty” yet. But, to be honest, after my last lesson, I was elated with where we were at. June is getting stronger and more rideable. She can hold her more compressed canter for longer. We’re both figuring this shit out, and it is so fun and so exciting!

We have our first xc school this Saturday followed by a jumper show Sunday. I’m hoping to enter cross rails and maybe canter some of the jumps. Can’t wait for all the adventures that await us!

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This is us, galloping off into the future together…

 

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June’s First Trail Ride: aka June Can Buck

In my human mind, trail rides are like when your teacher tells you you’ll be watching a movie during class. You’re like ” sweet! Easy class!” I mean, what horse wouldn’t love a trail ride? You get to hang out with friends, not work, and munch grass.

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Look at that view! Who wouldn’t enjoy that view??

But that was my human mind. I didn’t really look at this from the perspective of an equine. June doesn’t know what a trail ride is. She knows she was trailered about 30 minutes to an unknown location where there were no other horses other than the one she trailered with. We’re in the middle of nowhere. She knows her mother didn’t lunge her, even though she lunges her before every ride. She knows that her mom got on her and expected her to walk out into the unknown forest.

And she responded by launching her mom into outer space.

I’m not making excuses for her. Launching me 1 minute after I got on her back, is not ok. But, since she is a baby horse, I am trying to figure out where I went wrong. And all I can think is it was a bit too much out of her comfort zone.

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Sure, this looks like fun… but not really

We did complete the trail ride. Despite a hard fall, I lunged the snot out of her, and then walked with her out the trail. I rode for about 1/2 the ride and for those moments, she was great. But I was sore, and defeated, and my confidence was blown. So, I didn’t ride her over stream crossings, and when I felt she needed a break I walked along side her. But we completed a 3.6 mile trail ride in the Idaho wilderness.

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Look at me riding my horse on a trail! Also, maybe I shouldn’t have brought Siri along to run around her?

And because I have an amazing friend, and I knew I had to conquer my fears of getting launched on trail rides, I asked Sarah if she would be up for another trail ride the following day. And so, the following day, we loaded the horses up, and gave it one more shot.

And this time, I lunged June.

I left the dog at home.

I didn’t ask any more of her than I do back home in the arena.

And she was foot perfect.

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And I look pretty happy!

She looked around and took it all in, but happily followed Rapid into the Idaho wilderness. This was somewhere she had never been, and she was okay with that. I asked her to lead on the way home and it was ok- she led for a bit, but was clearly a bit unsure. So, we let Rapid lead again, and I rode home on a loose rein.

Was it the perfect first trail ride?

Hell no.

But it ended well, and I am less sore than I was. I learned that keeping her routine as solid as possible is important for her. She wants to be lunged before I ride her no matter where we are. Skipping that, and asking her to be perfect somewhere new, wasn’t fair.

So, June can buck. I knew that. And I need to keep that in mind next time I want to hop on her and do something new. That seems a small price to pay for a horse who otherwise has been fantastic.

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June’s Baby Pictures

When posting pictures of baby horses, you don’t need a lot of text. So enjoy this media dump.

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A few hours after she was born

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Still wobbly, but has her priorities. Maybe she’ll have as many dapples as her momma!

 

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About 3 weeks old.

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Oh hey! Just hanging with my momma

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I mean… that face!

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Like, could she be any more of a compact little muscle machine?

 

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A little camera shy… that will change

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Just thinking about how much trouble she wants to get into

 

I’m so thankful to her breeder for passing these photos along to me! Love seeing her as a little munchkin!

 

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June’s First Stock Horse Event

One of my favorite things about our barn is that there always seems to be something going on on the weekend. If Sarah isn’t hosting a Jumper or TOC show, our western riding trainer is hosting a horsemanship clinic, sorting show or stock horse event. And while June may not partake in all these events, it’s great for her to see trailers and horses coming in and activity all around. I want her to be used to chaos.

This past weekend our barn hosted a Stock Horse event. I didn’t really know what this was, other than you do a pattern and basically show good horsemanship and a calm and relaxed ride. I signed June up mainly because it seemed low key and would get her out and about with other horses.

I mean zero disrespect to the western riding discipline, but I was pretty surprised by how warm up went. There were about 15-20 horses in the outdoor arena, everyone was going every which way, and June had horses spinning (like fancy, western, spinning) cantering and sliding to a stop all around her.

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She needed a little encouragement in the chaos

All I could think was, dressage warm up is going to be a piece of cake if we keep doing this!

The event itself was lots of fun! It started in the outdoor arena with a pattern. June and I only walked and trotted but baby horse was SO good. We had to stop and turn (other horses spun), and trot out of the arena under some trees to another paddock, and at the end we had to open a gate while on her back. I figured that would go very badly, but actually, we got the gate open fairly simply. I couldn’t close it, but that was ok, I was happy with how it went considering I had never asked that of her.

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Siding up to the gate

Next we moved to another arena where there was an obstacle course. I hadn’t done this under saddle with June so just figured I would see how it went. She was resistant to go over some bridges (but not others, others she walked right over) and she wasn’t sure about the teeter totter at all. But at the end she happily walked through the elevated tires with no problem. I’m signing her up for an obstacle/trail course clinic in August so we can work on this. While I don’t think it’s a huge deal, I think it’s a confidence builder and the more slow, mental work we can do, the better.

Lastly, we entered the cow pen. Now, June hasn’t spent any time with cows other than when I turn her out in the paddock next to them. For this challenge we would be moving cows from one pen to another, and then keeping certain cows in certain areas. I figured I would get June in the pen with the cows, see how she reacted and maybe get her as close to them as possible.

Well, June had another idea. She wanted to get in the cow pen and start moving cows! Bossing cows around is right up her alley!

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She had absolutely no hesitation around the cows, and pushed them this way and that. I guess if eventing doesn’t work out she can be a ranch horse.

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Awfully proud of herself

In recapping the event to Sarah I told her that up until now, most of my tests of June have been to see how her brain would handle things. Her brain has handled everything well. Incredibly well. Moving forward I feel like I can stop worrying about how she’ll react to things and start asking more of her physically. Like, work on getting our steering more refined. And trotting a circle at the same pace the entire way around.

So here’s to boring circles and steering. I can’t wait!

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And Then…We Cantered

I need to start thinking of some “How you know you have a warmblood” jokes, because having never had one, I am just beginning to understand how they get their reputation. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE June, but mare is completely fine letting me KICK her and just not caring ONE BIT.

So, all of this is a lead in to my post about the canter, but don’t worry there wasn’t any kicking involved (from her OR me.) It’s just that Sarah and I were trying to figure out how to introduce the canter with me on her back and June made it very clear she was in zero hurry to move on from the trot.

Sarah mentioned there were three ways she likes to introduce the canter under saddle. 1) Go on a trail ride and have the horse in front of you canter and your horse needs to keep up, so it starts cantering. (She did this with Rapid when I was riding Georgie and it worked great) Well, we didn’t really have the time to go out for a trail ride so this one got put to the bottom of the list.

2) Put up some small (tiny) jumps and have the horse land in the canter after the tiny jump. I liked this idea and we decided to try it! Last week we set up elevated ground poles, with the world’s tiniest cross rail at the end. The idea was I would ride through the line in jump position, and maybe she would jump the cross rail! Well, June was completely unimpressed by the “jump” and just kept trotting over it. There would be no cantering during this exercise. Which was kind of a bummer, but also totally fine. We still had a blast trotting over the world’s tiniest cross rail!

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We decided that with June’s lackluster attitude to canter, we’d try option 3: Put her on a lunge line and ask for the canter.

So, before we got to the lunge I just walked and trotted June around a bit. At one point, I asked her to pick up the trot and she was like “No, thanks. It’s hot, I’d rather not” and just kept walking. So I kicked like a Pony Club D1, but nothing happened.

So, June got introduced to the dressage whip!

Smart pony let us rub it all over her and flick it around her in her vision without caring too much. And wouldn’t you know, she’s seen enough whips that me just holding it got her to trot whenever I asked. Warmblood.

We dropped the whip for the canter obviously, and my hope was all our work in the round pen and on the lunge would come in handy. My hope was I could give her the verbal cue for canter and it would happen.

And guess what? It did! We did some slow to fast trot transitions, then, while trotting fast, Sarah gently raised the whip (like I would if I were lunging) while I asked for the canter cues with my body and said “And June cannnntttter” and she had the LOVELIEST canter transition. We did this a few more times and it got better and better. (I got better and better, she was good from the get go.)

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Big kisses for ponies who canter

At this point I felt pretty confident, almost like I didn’t need the lunge line, but we kept it on and proceeded to go right. Well, June LOVES to fall in going right, and it’s kinda hard to keep her from doing this, while also asking her to bend right and pick up the canter. So, our transition wasn’t quite as beautiful, but it happened nonetheless! We definitely have our homework going right!

I couldn’t be happier with how June handled the canter work. The anticipation was kinda killing me and now I feel so confident asking her canter. While she can be a bit stubborn, and maybe lazy, really, when I am on her back, she takes her job seriously. She also is a warmblood in that I think the effort to buck just wasn’t worth it on a seriously hot day. Hey, that’s fine with me!

I couldn’t ask for a better pony!

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Literally all smiles

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Trotting Our Way to a Blue Ribbon

Sarah gave June and I the green light to enter our barn’s jumper show after one of our lessons and I was like

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I mean, any time Sarah has enough confidence for the two of us to do ANYTHING outside of a lesson, it’s a total win.

I had ridden her in a bit ONCE before the show and she was proving to not care much about it, but our steering became a bit (ha ha) less consistent. I knew I would have to keep this in mind when trotting around the course.

Since I hadn’t yet ridden June at a show, or really any time there was a lot going on, I spent some time thinking about what I wanted our warm up routine to be. Once I had an idea of how to proceed, I was so excited for our first show!

The morning of the show I got to the barn about an hour before my class. I brought June to the barn area from her paddock and walked her around. There were two tack sales going on, one out of a trailer and one with a full set up of tents and racks of clothing. She was unimpressed by all of it and totally calm around all the activity. So, I brought her into the indoor and groomed her. There wasn’t anyone warming up yet, so I lunged her for a bit in the indoor arena. She was fine about all of it and hardly peeked outside to see what was going on. So, after tacking her up and seeing how busy warm up had gotten I made a change in my original plan. With June’s lack of consistent steering and people going every which way in warm up, it seemed like a bad idea to ride her amongst all that. Plus, we’re doing ground poles. I didn’t need to practice them in warm up.

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I also found this SWEET shirt at the Pony Club tack sale. Alas, the fit wasn’t perfect so another rider decided to purchase it

I headed to the round pen, hopped on and June and I just did some quick walk, trot, halt and turning work. I opted to be first ride in the class since she was being so calm and good. Might as well see how it goes trotting our first course at our first show!

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Spoiler alert. It went well!

June was a bit quick and excited when I picked up the trot but I asked her to whoa and we did the rest of the course in a lovely relaxed trot. I was really proud that we trotted the entire thing and made it through all the standards. (There were one or two times we nearly had a “run out,” due to my lack of preparedness in turning her)

June was awesome! We did the class twice so I could work on steering and giving her enough time to turn, and the second round was leagues better than the first. Second round was just a schooling round, so we didn’t get to do the tighter jump off turns, but that was fine.

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Ears forward and adorable

After our rounds, because she is a baby, I stuck around and had June just hang out. I was so happy with her! She stood like a pro and was totally happy jut standing around with all the other horses coming and going and all the chaos around her. SUCH a good girl.

Our class had people that cantered the  course, (a couple of horses with auto lead changes!) a few that trotted and cantered and some walked the entire course. It really ran the gamut! I figured June and I were out of the ribbons so I put her away and changed into my clothes for volunteering the rest of the day. Imagine my surprise when I found out we came in first place in the Adult division!

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I wore and kept the ribbon, since it was June’s FIRST EVER. She was scared of it when I showed it to her later, but in her defense, I waved it around her face excitedly proclaiming she was a champion. Weird she didn’t like that.

So happy with this mare and so excited for all that is to come. I imagine one day soon we’ll be cantering, and I’m really excited. I don’t expect any antics from her, and I think she will prove to be a solid horse with all I ask of her!

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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.

Chronicles of a "Mini-Pro"

Celebrating the incurable addiction which is being an equestrian