Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Annie's Assistant

To start off the Easter weekend, I opted to go for a quiet solo hack around the neighborhood after doing some trailer work and lunging. It was a non-event, save for a mild moment where Annie decided to leap in the air when I asked her to trot because omg we were trotting in the front paddock which was new.

Fluffy, dirty, and too much mane omg.
Aside from that, she was ace for going out solo (it had been a while) and after a little uncertainty about going past the horse trailer down the driveway.

She was good about going home too, except when Suzie decided it'd be a good idea to start fucking screaming. Annie tried to trot, and was a bit pissy that I brought her down to a trot and I ended up turning her back away from home until she was quiet. She wasn't really naughty about anything, and didn't try to argue with me when I shut her down which was nice. Suzie, however, just kept fucking screaming.


She may love Annie, but her best bro will always be Potato Pony.
Friday morning I was itching to get to the Fairgrounds, which is about a 20min hack from where the horses are and it can be a little intimidating to new and young horses since part of the path is through the forest. I had been trying to wait for a friend to join me so we wouldn't be alone and because there is power in numbers, but neither riding buddy were available to go so I hemmed and hawed and decided I might as well teach Annie to pony Spud.

I tacked up Western, mostly because 1) it's easier to pony that way. 2) if shit got srs, I would have a more difficult time being unseated.

Due to some of the work the Farrier wanted me to put in, I went to pick up Annie's legs after she had been saddled to work on stretching them forwards. And she just could not. I was able to pick up one foot and she nearly fell over because the concept of lifting her leg under saddle was just not able to be computed. She ended up doing it tho, and looked at me like, "That was awkward as shit."

She looks kind of cute in Western tack!
The ponying thing started off with a bit of in-hand work - walking Spud and Annie together (which they both have done a few times), tying Spud onto the saddle (loose enough that he could get away), and finally having Annie feel Spud resist against the leadrope (thanks pony) and learning to continue to carry on. I needn't worry, because she was awesome! She didn't even falter when Spud drug behind her or when he was close to her flanks.

My biggest concern with the whole ponying charade was to make sure Spud was safe above all else. The last thing I need is Annie to kick him - she could do some serious damage. So when I mounted up, I didn't bother to tie him to the saddle like I normally did with Suzie, I simply held his rope in my hand and if things got hairy I could just let it go. 

We started off, and after a brief zomg moment because the thetrailerisrighttheremom!, we were on our way. It was interesting tho, because she seemed to feed off of Spud's good energy.

She was good with him trotting beside her (because her walk is HUUUGE). Poor Spud was annoyed tho, because he had to jog along almost the entire way.

Sorry, Spud.

The trail to the Grounds can be a bit nerve-wracking, especially because it is quite dense in some areas and features all kinds of footing ranging from rocks to mud. It also has a rather steep portion that is kind of like a "U", the first part of the U is the descend, and then it's level footing before you go back up the hill again. Usually when Jamie and I quad this trail, I have to get off and walk up because the incline is too steep for two of us. I wasn't quite sure how she'd make the trekk or what she'd think of the hills.

Hilariously enough, the only things she had issues with were the random rocks that littered along the trails. These rocks are huge, about the size of a coffee table, and are the root of a lot of spooks and uncertainty for many horses. In fact, most horses have a "Spring-time Spook" at them, and Annie was no exception.

Pictured: not spooking.
I love the fact that despite the spook, she kept her brain in her head and didn't bolt, back up, or run off. She just kind of "jittered" (does that even make sense? or paint a picture? lol) and stood there, staring at the rock. I enjoyed the fact that even though it scared her, she didn't tuck tail and run. And even when I asked her to continue, she calmly walked past it altho she gave it a pretty hard side-eye.

The second random rock she stiffened and stopped again, but because Spud wasn't even paying attention, he kept walking and by the time he reached her shoulder, Annie was like "Oh... you're good with this? Ok, I'm good with this." and kept walking.

Spud ponies, they're good for everything.

The hills weren't a challenge either, and even with a pile of mud in the one, she was SO careful with her footing and altho she was a bit fast coming down the hill, she seemed quite cautious and I enjoyed the fact she was feeling pretty forward.

Sometimes rail birds are accepted, and welcomed company.
(Also lets note the fact Annie wasn't bothered that Ty
literally followed us around the ring).

The ride at the grounds was uneventful, altho I wish I had brought my dressage whip because after about 10 minutes, Mare was lacking forward. Spud stayed quietly tied to the rail and Annie was really good - she didn't even suck towards him.


You guys.

We cantered!

Nevermind the fact we could barely steer at the trot, but we cantered! I was nervous about this, primarily because the last time I cantered her undersaddle was.... uh... February 13th.

Just call me Best Baby, and also Best At
Looking Away.
Still, I was super pleased with her and the walk back home was also uneventful. Suzie was even screaming, and Annie just hollered back but didn't do anything.

Upon arriving back to the barn, I halted her near the trailer and dismounted there, before leading her over to sniff it and just check it out. Spud was particularly bored and uninterested, save for when I brought the carrots out.

While I think that Annie could've made the trekk to the Grounds on her own, I like that I can count on Spud to "buddy up" with Annie and give her some extra confidence without being too over-bearing. For example, I think Suzie would be too much of a buddy for Annie - if I tied her while I worked Annie in the arena I'm certain she'd paw/call out/ etc. Spud is perfect because he isn't overly attached to Annie, and keeps himself entertained when tied and lets me concentrate on Annie and lets Annie concentrate on me.

It continues to amaze me just how amazing this pony is and how diverse he is in my life.