Tag Archives: horses

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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Jumping Georgie

So much to post about, especially now that JUNE IS HOME!

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So fuzzy! And clearly thrilled to be back to posing for pics

But that will get it’s own post. And since she’s not doing much that’s exciting currently, we’ll start with something uber exciting! My jump lesson on Georgie!

I’ve been riding Georgie weekly for about a month now, and decided that since my tailbone feels better, I would try a jump lesson. It’s been ages since I have had a proper jump lesson. Sure, I’ve hopped some cross rails with June and even cantered an entire course, but that’s very different from riding a broke horse in a lesson.

Warm up was me letting her walk a bit, picking up the trot I wanted, and then moving into the canter. In the canter she wasn’t allowed to lope around on her forehand. I had to work on getting her up, onto her butt, forward, and adjustable. All in two point. After three times around the arena each direction I was out of breath and my legs were on fire.

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Why do we lose riding fitness so quickly?

I knew I would be unfit, but since I run regularly, this was still embarrassing and worse than I expected. However, in those 6 circles around the arena, I was really impressed with how adjustable Georgie was and how responsive she was to my aids. Honestly, riding a horse you know so well, who’s buttons are ingrained, is so nice. I know what to ask, how to ask it, and how she will respond.

We got right to the jumping exercise, as it was obvious I was not going to have the stamina to waste working at the canter…

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Sarah had set up three jumps across the diagonal. Each were one stride apart. We started with the first two jumps as poles on the ground, and just the middle jump was set (at about 2’3). We added the other two jumps and then Sarah would have me jump the line, turn left, angle the middle jump and come back down the line. We then added to this exercise, and it got more and more difficult. Jump through the line, hard turn left, angle the last jump, come around the arena, angle the middle jump the opposite direction, come around the arena, angle the first jump, and then hard turn right back to the exercise and through the grid one last time.

Here is a 3rd graders rendition of what it looked like:

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Ok, I know, 3rd graders can draw better than this. Also, I forgot to put it on the diagonal.

We obviously worked up to that sequence of jumps, and I am actually surprised we got to that because I was not riding well. After about the third jump I was exhausted, and all my bad habits came back to me. Slump my shoulder forward, let my lower leg fall back. It was really awesome. In watching the videos I was pretty disappointed in myself.

If I really worked at it, I could keep my sternum up and open, my calf on, and ride well. But the minute I had to make a turn, or do something else that involved my attention, it all went to shit. Angling the jumps was tough, and I wouldn’t get Georgie on the line soon enough, but mare is as honest as the day is long, and she kept just figuring out what I wanted and jumped what I pointed her at. The jumps stayed at 2’3ish so she really did not have to put much effort in, which is the only reason I think Sarah was ok with all of this.

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So, I have a lot to work on. And I hope to keep riding Georgie weekly so that I can keep working on it. I need to push myself a bit outside of lessons as well as in them. I’m so lucky to still have Georgie around, as quite honestly, jumping her, and feeling that comfortable, is something I have really, really missed.

 

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Constructing a Plan

In one week, June will be back home. I’m feeling so much better, and while not 100% better, I feel ready for baby horse again.

I’ve been trying to figure out my plan for her once she returns. My guess is she will have enjoyed her break, but be ready to get back into work.

Please be ready for this June

But before we get back to where we left off, I want to make sure she is fit enough for it. Ideally, lots of long walks in the hills to build up fitness. But taking June on trail rides isn’t that easy.

But yesterday gave me what I hope is a brilliant idea. See, I spent yesterday on a trail ride.

I got to ride the adorable Smokey, and there were about 12 horses on this trail ride. I was thankful to have such a solid trail horse.

But, my great idea came to me before the trail ride even started.

I trailered Smokey and Eleanor, my friend Meg’s adorable draft cross, to meet the group. They were both perfect angels in my trailer and it was so fun to be able to trailer horses again!

I had to pony Eleanor up to the group so Sarah could ride her and Smokey was an absolute rock star letting me pony Smokey off of her.

Hmm. My wheels started turning… Maybe Smokey wouldn’t mind if I ponied a certain grey pony off of her.

So, I ran the idea by Meg and she had a better idea. What if we bring both Smokey and Eleanor and see if either would let June be ponied? And then I thought of another great idea. What if we bring Georgie and Eleanor and see if either of THEM would allow June to be ponied off of them? Or, the first time try Smokey and Eleanor and next time Georgie and whomever?

I mean, my point is… I have options! And I get to go on trail rides with a friend and great horses. So, win/win/win, right?

Anyhow, now I am even MORE excited for June to come home!

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Remembering Why I Ride

With June on vacation, and me still healing, I figured there wouldn’t be much interesting content to write about. But, since I’m feeling better, I’ve picked up two weekly rides. One on Georgie, and one on Tommy. They’re both different rides (Tommy is an Intermediate eventer who I am just getting conditioning rides on), but I’ve come to enjoy them both a lot.

Today it was 60 degrees out and sunny with no wind when I showed up to ride Georgie. I realized it was the perfect day to ride her out in the jump field. I’m riding Georgie partially for me- so I have something to ride until June returns, but also partially for Georgie. She’s acquired some “I’m ridden by a junior and asked nothing” habits that could probably be schooled a bit.

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Georgie when she realized we were headed away from the arenas and out to the field

So, my plan for today was to work on half halts and not letting her run through turns. We worked on this for a bit. I would execute an S turn and not let her run through the change of direction at the trot. It went pretty well and she began to listen to my aids and do what was being asked.

But, instead of drilling it into her, I decided that since it was so beautiful out, we should probably just enjoy being outside.

I walked Georgie to the edge of the field and her ears flew forward. She knew what was coming. I gently put my leg on and said “canter.”

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The moment she realized half halts and S turns were a thing of the past

And there we were, cantering along the field, on a crisp fall day, in the sunshine. I remembered why I loved this horse.

I love her because I feel safe. I love her because I can canter and just enjoy it. No spooking. No antics. Just wind in her mane and my face. She could go as fast as she wanted and it would be fine. She wasn’t going to run away with me. I was safe, happy, and enjoying everything horseback riding should be.

In my post ride recap I told Sarah what a good time I had, and how nice it was to gallop on my #1 mare. But then couldn’t help myself and launched into how Georgie’s canter is like it was the first day I ever rode her, and how I saw her shorten, shorten, shorten to the jump at the schooling show this weekend, and how a half halt takes a lot of work on her again. She clearly isn’t the mare she was when I stopped riding her, after years of work together.

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I’ve always loved galloping on her

And after I said it, I got upset with myself. Because, really, who cares? She is still the honest horse with so much heart that I fell in love with. Who cares if she isn’t prelim ready? Who cares if she carts a junior around safely but doesn’t look fancy? She is having a good time, and she deserves it.

And those moments where I get to gallop her along the fields in the crisp autumn sunshine? All I need to care about is how lucky I am to still be able to do that.

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Back in the Saddle, Sort of

My tailbone has been feeling much better, after three long weeks. I’m still not able to go for runs, but hiking, and sleeping, and even sitting, for the most part, are pain free! So, naturally, the next step was to see how riding would feel.

And, who better to get back in the saddle with than my #1 mare.

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Yup, this is my #1 mare…. letting June know she’s a far #2. (recycled photo from this summer)

I was so so so excited to ride Georgie. Maybe because she’s my #1, but also maybe because I hadn’t ridden in THREE WEEKS and that is FAR too long.

I of course picked the one rainy day we have had here in months, and I arrived to find Georgie looking like this:

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I have not missed this.

But all was forgiven once I got on her back. Things at the walk were not comfortable. So, I kind of perched on her back and really engaged my lower back muscles to keep me out of the saddle. I was in my jump tack, as I knew sitting deeply and using my seat was not going to be happening.

The trot was much better. I was able to work on Georgie a little bit, as it is obvious she has thoroughly enjoyed not being asked much recently. She seems to have forgotten about half halts and when I executed one she responded with “What was that?” To which I gave a stronger half halt and she said “I don’t know what that is.”

But, because it was Georgie, she soon remembered, and we had a really really lovely ride.

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I like to believe we looked like this….

There was no way I was going to canter. Georgie’s canter feels much like a washing machine on the agitation cycle, and while I had made huge progress with it back in the day, the thought of riding that with a sore tailbone seemed like a really bad idea. So, we did lots of trot work, and listening to aids work. She was exactly what I needed for my first ride back, and also what I needed as a break from a baby horse. My hope is to hop on her once a week and remember that I can, indeed, ride.

So, slowly but surely, I think I’ll be ready for June to return in a couple of weeks and for us to get back to work!

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The New Trailer

I sold my last trailer almost exactly a year ago. I sold it out of necessity. It wasn’t going to work with June, and seeing her climb out the window through the manager, while driving down the highway at 55 mph, was something I never ever wanted to see again.

And, as it seems to happen, I wasn’t really looking for another trailer. I wasn’t NOT looking, but lets say I wasn’t actively shopping. But then one day, driving by my veterinarian’s office, I saw a trailer for sale. I pulled over to check it out, and it was pretty much exactly what I’ve always wanted as a bumper pull.

  • Two horse,
  • Straight load (no mangers!)
  •  huge dressing room.
  • Aluminum
  • a ramp
  • Extra tall and extra wide.

It’s a Trail Et New Yorker Eventer (which is pretty coincidental since I’m an eventer from NY…). Floor boards are in great condition, mats are in great condition and it is structurally in great condition. There are 6 windows in the horse area which means lots of great ventilation too! As an added dork bonus, the trailer originally belonged to Adrienne Lyle (Olympic dressage rider) and there is a dustpan in the dressing room with A.Lyle on it…

I knew the seller and knew she took good care of her stuff. But, sadly, the price tag attached to it was out of my budget.

Now, before we move on  I realize that some of you are throwing your palm to your forehead and asking why in the world I got another straight load. Well, let me start by saying, I grew up with straight load trailers. I personally believe horses travel most comfortably in straight load trailers. And, this particular trailer, doesn’t have mangers. If June wants to jump around, there is nowhere for her to go. I firmly believe had I bought a slant load with mangers, she still could potentially misbehave. This trailer is also incredibly airy and spacious. It’s nothing like my last trailer besides being a straight load.

Ok, so back to it being out of my budget…

I tried to forget about the trailer. But I wasn’t do a good job of it. After seeing it sit for quite some time I decided to call the owner and ask if they would accept a lower, much lower, price.

And, um, they accepted!

Since I was buying it locally, they let me take it for a test drive. Obviously I wanted to make sure June would be ok in it. So, expecting some sort of trouble, I asked a friend to help me load her, and decided to bring  her bestie, Georgie, with us. I figured June could see how calm Georgie was, and maybe emulate that….

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Georgie got to eat out of the manager hay bag and she really approved of it

I loaded Georgie first, and she immediately got to eating. June typically aborts on the first try at loading, so I was prepared for that. Especially since she hadn’t ever done a ramp. But, she gave it a sniff and then walked right in.

Once I closed up the back, she stood in the trailer and just looked out the door. I closed the door and waited to hear what would happen. No sound so I looked in the window. She was just munching her hay.

So, I hopped in the truck and hoped for the best.  As we drove around I didn’t see any trailer swinging. My truck pulled it well, and  because it is so long, the seller told me she had some stabilizer bars she uses with it and I could have if I purchased it.  A 15 minute drive down the highway and I was beginning to believe it was going to be a good fit for June.

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June did NOT get a manger hay bag, but instead got a hay bag by her head….

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Georgie looked adorable in it, which is important too…

Once home, I opened the door to June’s stall and she was just hanging out. Standing there without a care in the world. YAY! She wasn’t anxious to get out and politely let me untie her and get her butt bar down. She backed out carefully, but once she realized there was a ramp, took normal steps backwards.

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Rear view. So tall and roomy

And so, I decided to make the purchase. I hope to do lots of short trips with June at first, but the good news is, it can easily be converted to a box stall, so if she wants more room, and is naughty about the chest bar, I’ll just convert it to a box stall.

I’m excited to start getting accessories, too. I’ve already purchased a hay net, but also want a water tank for the dressing room, and probably trailer eyes.

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So happy and calm while I walked around taking pics…

I’ve never had a trailer with a dressing room, so am SO excited. There are FOUR windows in the tack room, so I am TOTALLY going to be sleeping in there at shows. It will definitely fit me, my sleeping pad and the dogs. Plus, I can get a fan in there if needed and maybe some curtains for the windows if I totally want to dork out.

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It’s really hard to take pics of dressing rooms

 

Anyway, I’m super excited and can’t wait to go pick up June and get her traveling in it. In the meantime, I’ll just stare at it lovingly.

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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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