Thursday, May 26, 2016

Two Rides In

Thus far I've put two consecutive rides on Sir Finnegan (has a nice ring to it, right?) and I've been blown away by his sheer honesty each time. Be prepared for some serious word vomit. #sorrynotsorry.

Our selfie game is strong.

The first ride I put on him was the day after he arrived at the barn and I actually wasn't the first to ride him - gasp!. A non-horsey friend and I had planned on a little trail ride together and she was actually supposed to ride Suzie. However, Suzie acted like a fucking moron whilst being tied (because omg Finn is closer to Spud than me and Spud is my baby!!!11!) and I decided I liked my friend enough that I didn't want her to die should Suzie act a fool.

So after tacking up and helping my friend up onto Finn, I swung a leg up onto Suzie. It would be my first ride on the red mare in nearly a month and as much as I was excited to ride Finn, I was totally smitten to be on my Suz again. My friend voiced that she felt bad that she was riding Finn, but I was actually SO happy to be on my little demon mare, even if we were just walking.

Finn was trying to be friends with Suzie, but she
gave him a pretty good mare-stare.
In truth, Suzie didn't do anything bad - but a beginner rider would have just amped up her antics. I don't play into her little petty bullshit, so she settled almost instantly but I didn't want my friend to have to deal with the quirks.

And Finn? Finn was a saintly creature. He packed my friend like the good pony he is without any objection or any rude behavior. We walked through the subdivision over to the Fairgrounds where the riding arena is. We passed several trucks, garbage cans, the garbage truck itself, and a tractor - all evoked no response from Finn (Suzie gave a slight side-eye at the tractor, but she was also well-behaved).

She is smiling with mixed emotions: fear and happiness, I think.
His first ride in a new place, with new people, and a total beginner on his back to boot? No problem for this guy.

Once at the grounds, which was a mere 15 minute walk away (which is why Suzie tagged along... it wasn't too far and I felt confident she'd be ok for a little trail ride) I jogged Suzie half a lap and loped a few strides before tying her to the fence. She felt pretty good - still slightly lame - and her ears perked while she loped on a loose rein. It made my heart hurt a little bit, and I itched to do more than just putter around. But instead I tied her up, gave her some pats, and adjusted my stirrups to get on Finn.

Once mounted, I just did some quick work of w/t/c. He was malleable and supple in my hands, but I found that he was really behind the leg in some instances. In the canter, for example, I really had to support him with my outside leg - but I suppose being out of shape and lacking fitness would do that. Still, I had an excellent and productive ride. It was quite short (about 25 - 30 minutes) because my friend was sitting watching and I felt bad, and also because this was Finn's third ride in an entire year, so I didn't want to push it.

A video still of one of our better moments.

He had a tendency to cross-brace to the left, so I really over-played the inside bend and he got better as we continued. The basis of everything is there, it's just more or less uncovering that fitness to get everything refined - 'cause in case you didn't notice, Finn's got a pretty big barrel at the moment (lol)!

After I had finished a light schooling, my friend popped back on and wanted to try trotting him. So while I gave her some instruction, she went for it and she also managed to get a hang of rising trot! I was pretty ecstatic for her considering the last time she rode was on one of my lease horses who sadly passed away (nearly six years ago).

We meandered back to the barn, wherein Suzie turned into a fire-breathing dragon of fucking rage. Her head was in my lap for the first half of the walk because damnit, mare wanted to walk as fast as she could to get home. Finn, however, was slower than molasses so it was a bit frustrating trying to keep them going the same pace.

My friend shot video to help me look back and review on and while I am pleased with it, I am also a bit disappointed. A horsey friend of mine keyed in that riding him conservatively isn't necessarily a bad thing, as I don't know him very well so it's not "bad" for a first ride together. As we start to figure eachother out and form more of a relationship, it'll piece together quite nicely.

But still, I wanted to amp up the expectations a little more for our second ride. I made sure that I had more of a game plan in my mind of what I wanted to accomplish with him vs just prancing around the arena. I still am figuring out what needs work, what buttons to push, and how hard to push (for now).

For the purpose of achieving some semblance of real schooling work, I had gone out with the intent to school more forward, more connected, and more bend. All relatively "beginner" things, but with Finn being out of work for so long and being so new to me, I didn't want to over-complicate it or push him too hard. I wanted to get a rough cut Dressage test put together and a feel for how manipulative he'd be and how willing he'd be to dig in and get the work done. We won't be schooling anything like lengthenings, collection, lead changes, or the like for some time so it'll be boring (but important) stuff for a while. Forging a working relationship is the basis of a good Dressage test, and the more complicated things will come later on.

Two red-heads are better than one.

Due to the fact that I was having a young autistic girl coming out for another little ride around on Suzie (I swear Suzie is safe. She just has serious opinions and melodramatic antics that only other red mare owners can appreciate), I hooked up the trailer after work and loaded Finn and Suzie to help cut down on time hacking over to the Grounds. Finn loaded great - as did Suzie (but I expect that from her) and the funny part was when I unloaded Suzie (my thinking was that if I unloaded Suzie first, it may "show" Finn how to unload) and Finn stood there... stock still. He neighed and whinnied for Suzie who was tied to the trailer, but protested to stepping back and out. It took about 5 minutes of convincing him that he was not dying, there really WAS nowhere to turn around (he kept looking around and at me like "I AM TOO BIG FOR THIS STALL LADY", and Suzie really didn't care about him.

He finally unloaded and his face when he cleared the ramp was full of rainbows and sunshine. "I backed out and NOW I CAN SEE THINGS!!11!"

The world is amazing, dude.

I rode Finn first, as Suzie's little rider would be arriving a bit later.

We schooled a decent 40 minutes with numerous breaks in between and it was a much more productive ride than on Tuesday. I found that shortening my stirrups by a hole really helped my leg connect solidly with his barrel and I was able to keep my heels down much better.

Real geldings have curves.
When your boyfriend has a rockin' beer gut.
After a warm up which involved stretching out his topline and trotting a few circles, I started to introduce serpentines with walking steps in the center of the arena to refine a bit more of our transitions. In fact, the entire schooling session was about transitions. He lacks a bit of balance to the left, which is also MY bad way so it doesn't make for a good combo. I could feel when I asked him to transition from canter - trot that I kind of just dumped him and he fell into a bracey, rigid trot instead of just coming back lightly. We re-schooled it where I vocally reminded myself what I wanted to achieve and it came out much, much better.

The walk - trot transitions are still a work in progress, as Finn was starting to figure out the exercise and would brace against me once I started to take up contact at the walk and bounce into a trot. So we played around with walking quiet and me taking up slack gradually with him still obeying and walking on.

I also ran through a mock-Dressage test and I found that the down transitions are really our enemy at the moment - altho again, Finn hasn't been ridden outside of trail rides and little jaunts down the road in about a year so that fitness is not there. He can't physically support himself just yet and as a rider, even with trying to help him balance and support him, it isn't 100% yet. BUT, we will get there.

Media from our ride the day before.
Note how I was struggling with my stirrups -
putting them up a hole helped tremendously.
In doing the mock-Dressage test, I also ran through "entering at A, halting at X" a few times and he was pretty good in that area. He did want to pop up in his poll during the walk - halt, but I schooled that separately and it improved quite nicely. I did find that when things started to get tough for him (ie. he needed a break) he would duck behind the contact quite badly and breathe like a dragon, so we took breaks as necessary but once or twice I pushed him through that habit, as I didn't want him to think that he can just duck behind me when he's tired. He responded quite well, as I just closed my legs on and loosened my reins more to encourage him to stretch his topline forwards and down instead of curling up and hollowing. A few steps of stretchy trot and then I brought him back into the contact, came down to a walk, and patted him.

All in all, I am VERY pleased with him. I'm still figuring him out and he's still figuring me out, so it'll be a bit messy, but I already feel 10 steps ahead and excited for our prospective future.

This weekend I have decided to enter us into a Percentage Day/ Clear Round fun day at the Fairgrounds in the next town. It's a very casual, low pressure event and would be great to get us out and see how we can manage ourselves with a crowd watching. It also means that I'll be jumping him for the first time (nothing big - just trot poles and small x-rails).

OH, and for anyone wondering? Suzie was the perfect angel during the therapeutic ride she gave - even whilst another horse was in the arena running a barrel pattern.

A guy friend of mine asked "Why does the little
one have a little mouthy no-no?"
Both horses loaded and unloaded just fine (Finn is really starting to get the hang of it) and Spud was more than relieved to see his BFF's home for the evening.


  1. Replies
    1. I replied that that is Spud's hannibal muzzle because he is very bitey-bitey. :P

  2. Glad you had such good rides :)

    1. It is so nice to be back in the saddle :)

  3. I'm glad it's going so well. You should copyright the mouthy no-no.

  4. So glad you're enjoying your new guy and that Suzie is feeling pretty good too!

  5. "little mouthy no-no" ROFL. Happy you are enjoying your new guy and that Suzie is doing well!!

  6. ROFL at the mouthy no-no!
    What a great guy Finn is

  7. Finn is so stinkin handsome!!! i foresee you having a LOT of fun with him!!!!