Tag Archives: eventing

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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Expectations

At a coffee shop yesterday, a horse acquaintance asked me “Is June everything you hoped she would be?”

I looked at her and paused. I had so many thoughts of June flash through my head. Jumping xc for the first time, going on a trail ride for the first time, jumping for the first time, cantering for the first and second time, trotting for the first time off the lunge line.

Is June everything I hoped for? I have no idea. We’re so barely at the beginning of our partnership, how can I quantify it? How can I say yes when I have barely scratched the surface with this horse.

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Has June exceeded my expectations for bringing along a baby horse? Has June taught me so much in our short time together? Am I madly in love with her?

Absolutely.

Those are easy to answer.

She’s growing up so fast, and some days, it’s hard not to ask more and more from her. But I love the approach we’ve taken, slow and steady wins the race, right?

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We had another short xc outing last week. Just another water outing, to see if I could get her more comfortable in the water. Or, get me to be more comfortable on her in the water.

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She was great. Once again, we made progress far more quickly than I anticipated we would.

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So, here’s to a mare who so far, has exceeded all expectations.

 

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June’s First Cross Country Schooling

It’s a funny thing, prepping to school cross country on your own horse after not having done so for way too long. I was convinced I would forget something, and put my safety vests in the car the night before just to make sure I didn’t forget them. Then there was the task of deciding what June needed to wear. I haven’t bought much for her, so was hopeful Georgie’s xc boots would fit her (they did!) and that she would be fine in her D ring snaffle (she was!). Once I checked and double checked that we had everything, the excitement was palpable.

We went to school with Sarah and Rapid, which I appreciated, as I wasn’t sure we were ready for a group environment yet. Keep in mind, we’ve cantered in the open twice? Three times? And she has never done the “go do something then come and stand here for a while” routine, which is what you do with groups. Plus, I had no idea what she would think of all the jumps, and all the open space, and I really just needed to see who this horse was when put to work in a new environment doing new things.

I started with lunging her (duh) and she was so calm and relaxed we quickly moved to jumping over some obstacles. She handled these incredibly well. Really didn’t look at anything, even as we progressed from logs to a “picnic” table,  red branch looking log thing, A frame, hanging logs, etc.  Again, she was being so good, I hopped on her and we got to work under saddle.

The goal for the day was to build confidence, but also for me to get a glimpse of what she might be like on cross country. Who knew if she would even want to do this, and one thing I must have, is a horse who is willing to get from one side of the fence to the other, safely.

We started by trotting and cantering around the field. She didn’t get spooky or weird as we trotted and cantered away from Rapid, into the shadows, and up and down a teeny hill. In fact, she kind of liked the exploring, and she had her ears forward, ready for what was next.

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Just taking in the sights…

I continue to be in love with this horse’s canter. I have never had a horse with an uphill canter, nor did I ever put much thought into why it was important. But then, when I rode Rapid for the first time, I was like “Woah. This is like a totally different experience.” The best part is that you just feel the power from the back end surge forward and instead of falling down they come up. Have you ever driven a sports car? Hit the gas and felt the front of the car lift as the back powers it forward? It’s like that. It’s amazing. Ever since I rode Rapid’s canter, I knew I wanted an uphill horse. And thank God, June does not disappoint. She isn’t strong enough to keep that canter for too long, but it’s there, and it’s going to make things so much easier moving forward.

From there we moved on to trotting over logs. Super simple, super FUN. Our goal was to see if we could get June to land in the canter. No problem. She was eager to do so. She was bold, honest, and everything I would want her to be for her first outing!

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wheeeee

Now, don’t be fooled. I’m making this sound easy and perfect. It wasn’t. I was thinking “steer, steer, leg on, steer, SUPPORT,SUPPORT, steer” the entire way to the jump. June was being honest and brave, but it didn’t mean I just sat there and hoped it would happen. It was a lot of work, a lot of figuring out what works best, but in the end, it honestly went great and I think both of us had a good time!

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Love everything about this!

Since I didn’t want to over jump her on her first outing, we headed over to the water to see how she would be with that. Sarah was going to school Rapid, so June and I would have a little break and she could just check things out. I made the mistake of hopping off of her, so I could film Sarah. And I say mistake, because June thought me getting off and standing with her for 20 minutes meant we were done. She wasn’t really excited when I got back on her. She got tight in her back and a little sour. So, I hopped off, lunged for a few minutes, asked her to lunge through the water (which she did) and got back on. She  without hesitation walked into the water and walked around.

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But I never got that relaxed, easygoing, horse back. She continued to be tight in her back and sometimes refused to go forward in the water. I wouldn’t give her her head, as I didn’t want her to buck, so the entire experience wasn’t as low key as I was hoping. I got a little stiff, she got a little stiff, and I expected it to go south. It didn’t. It went ok. In fact, in looking at the videos, I think she was less likely to buck than I thought. I think she was just figuring out the splashing, she wanted to drink (which she later did), and she didn’t love the feeling of wet boots in the water.  At one point she just started pawing and pawing and pawing in the water and would NOT move. I was legit scared she was going to lay down and almost hopped off, but Sarah was like “Nope. Stay on.” And she grabbed June by the bridle and pulled her out of the water. Then she looked at me and said “THAT was being a pony.” Meaning, she was just being a brat. So, the good news is, she isn’t scared of the water. She didn’t buck me off. We need to work on me being confident but smart when she pulls these shenanigans. Actually using my dressage whip to get her moving forward. I knew from the get go she was going to test me. Now I need to have the answers.

We walked back to the trailer on a loose rein and all in all I’d say it was a great experience. I’m so excited to get back out there with her!

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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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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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Fraggle Friday: Horse Show Dogs

Oh man was it lovely to take my best buddy Stella to a horse show with me again. I had forgotten just how good she is, and how much she enjoys it!

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I swear this is her “I’m so happy” face

Not surprisingly it took her a little longer to settle in and get used to the routine. Old dog dementia makes new places a little tougher. But by day two, if she knew where her favorite bed was, she was happy to lay down and watch the world go by.

Once the cross country course opened, and we could go walk to the pond, she was in her element. She literally sprinted to the water!

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I love having her with me and hope we can get another show in together.

What did surprise me, was how good Siri was on her first recognized horse show adventure where I brought a horse! I was kind of worried about what I would do with her all day, but she was great about being tied up, and loved hanging out in the air-conditioned living quarters when temps were in the high 90s.

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Soooo comfy

She made lots of friends and loved going on walks with June and I. I have to say, I think I have a really good horse show dog in the making!

And while I love bringing my dogs and try to be an uber responsible pet owner, this was the first show where I was surprised at how irresponsible people were being. There was dog crap EVERYWHERE. I’m not sure what was worse, the dog who crapped right outside June’s stall, where she stepped in it, or the dog who crapped right outside our trailer, and Sarah stepped in it. Not picking up after your dog is like one of the biggest sins IMO. Siri was “attacked” by one aggressive off leash dog, and we had multiple dogs come into our camp when our dogs were tied up, hanging out with us. Luckily, my dogs are super friendly, but those dogs learned not to mess with Sarah’s Dachshunds!

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I always worry a rule will be put in place that dogs aren’t allowed at recognized shows anymore so I am hyper vigilant about mine being good citizens. I was so annoyed at this last show that I walked around picking up other dog’s poop. (Do you have any idea how disgusting dog poop in a horse’s hoof is?)

Ok, so this will be the last negative post I have about that show, I PROMISE. All unicorns and sunshine here on out. And lots more fun times with my fraggle dogs!

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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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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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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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