Friday, June 16, 2017

Stamp of Approval & Mountain Trail Courses

Best Baby Bannie <3

Summer is the time of vacations and visits!! And since two of my friends [one local and one not] had never met Annie (aside from pictures and videos), the three of us  had tentatively arranged a horsey meet up during the time Alaina from Spotted Dressage would be up in our neck of the woods visiting family. The timing was pretty impeccable, considering I wanted to partake in this weekends Clear Rounds and Percentage Days, but also wanted to have a bit of a "trial run" of Annie at the grounds.

I wasn't too concerned, as I had ridden Annie there twice before, but it was so long ago that I was still uncertain how she'd react.

She was a bit hesitant to leave the barn - she stopped at the doorway and looked at me like, "K, I've worked reallll hard all week. Do I has to?" When she saw my response wasn't going to change, she reluctantly followed and quietly loaded into the trailer along with Spud.

The trailer ride was just fine - aside from the downpour of rain (ick!) that thankfully seemed to let up when I arrived at the community fairgrounds. Annie and Spud both unloaded quietly and while I got organized, Heidi (you may recall she owns a Morgan mare and a Andalusian mare) introduced herself to Annie.

Spoiler Alert: I rode Heidi's Andalusian mare
She was really well behaved, especially since the young stud colt Heidi had with her was busying himself with putting his mouth on almost everything and was making a bit of noise on the tie-post, lol! Spud seemed quite happy to be reunited with the stud colt, and throughout the ride him and Remmy alternated between mouthing at eachother through the divider and at one point I yelled out at Spud, who had a mouthful of Remmy's shoulder skin in his mouth.... Boys.

Annie tacked up fine and was picture perfect about mounting - we had wandered over to a mounting block and I kind of anticipated that she might move but she stood stock still and waited for me to nudge her to move. Small victories, people!

The remainder of the ride was spent just warming her up and playing around with her a bit - she spooked once when Remmy got his neck stuck under his leadrope and kind of hopped up trying to free himself. Aside from this, she paid none of the horses in and out of the ring any attention.

We do the trotting thing.
The three of us girls kind of brain-stormed about Annie's lead issue and after some helpful advice from Alaina, we got the lead! Essentially, I rode a spiralling circle by leg yielding inwards and counter-bending Annie to the outside and asking for canter when she yields and her shoulder is opened up.

I praised the living snot out of her and went back to attempt it again and after three or four failures, she got back to that "CANTER ALL THE TIME" place and I took her for a trot around to just work on something else and get our minds back in the wagon again. I applied a different tactic, altho with the same foundation, and she picked up her correct lead again. I  basically just leg yielded her in while counter bending to the outside. I praised her thoroughly, hopped off, and invited one of my friends to hop on and take her for a spin.

Had I been riding alone, that would have been the end of the ride, but I promised these two ladies a ride, and I ride they would get!

Heidi rode first and Alaina rode afterwards. Both offered some good insight into Annie, which I whole-heartedly agreed with in some aspects. Both Heidi and Alaina have started their horses from the ground up and were able to give me some good advice and ideas for our present training issues and any future issues. It was really enlightening, being able to talk candidly with the two of them and just talk about green horses and how they are kind of like the waves of the ocean - always changing and sculpting the surface below into something beautiful.

The love affair was real.
Annie was exhausted after the rides - she pretty much fell asleep as I chatted with Alaina. But the day was not done yet, as Heidi wanted to take her stud colt out to the Mountain Trail Course on the other side of the grounds and practice a few things. I was keen on taking Annie, since I don't think she has ever gone over bridges or anything like that.

Looking back, I probably should've hand-walked her through things first, but she responded to almost every question with a game face. She balked at the bridges tho, and Heidi had to lead us over them and after we had gone over a few times on our own, I dismounted to school the teeter-totter. The video makes it look like I'm afraid she is going to leap off or something, but I was literally trying to not pee my pants, because several seconds before Heidi started taking video, Annie felt the bridge move and FROZE solid and refused to move at all. I was already giggling before the camera was switched on.

All in all? A really, really good day. I was able to ride my green horse in and out of the arena, ask new questions, have new riders enjoy her, and made some progress along the way into making her a more broke and stable partner. What more could I want?

One of the biggest take-aways was that pesky resistance to left leg and the strength issues that lie within counter bending going clock-wise. So things I have noticed previously, but I have some good exercises to help us strengthen and work on these things. One of the other take-aways that I hadn't noticed was that she is ready for me to up the ante - and it doesn't necessarily mean she is ready for walk-canter transitions or anything, but she is ready for me to expect more. She is ready to carry herself more, ready to take more feel in the reins, ready to be a bit more challenged.

While speaking candidly with Heidi and Alaina, I talked about how I wanted this entire process to be fun. And I think a lot of people who train young horses, esp amateurs, lose sight of that sometimes. I mean, I can see why, since this whole Bringing Up Baby thing is a non-linear journey. I can appreciate that, and while I still obsess over the little things, I have to remind myself that these things won't matter in 4 months time. Kind of like the damned trailer loading thing - I wrote several posts about how down-trodden I was and how I felt like such a failure and it didn't really do much for Annie or me, yanno?

So this whole canter thing isn't necessarily a road block - it's a stepping stone. We may not be able to make the leap to that stone yet, but we are inching our way there slowly but surely. I refuse to push my mare for sake of competition and risk wrecking a beautiful thing we have going - a partnership and friendship.

Cantering from the haterz like


  1. Ya! It sounds like she did so good! That bridge video-lol! What a brave Annie. :)

    1. The bridge video cracks me up ahha. Poor Annie.

  2. I'm glad she's coming along. I totally agree that things that seem like big training issues now will likely not be an issue at all in four months.

    1. It's funny how it works out that way. In 4 months, I'm sure we will have other "problems". It is always a never-ending, winding road towards perfection and partnership. :)

  3. Bringing up babies is SO hard. But you learn so much from the process, and I honestly think it makes you a better horseperson! :) keep up the good work with Annie.

    1. I am glad there are so many bloggers that are so kind about my journey and are willing to share their own trials and tribulations. It makes me feel like I am not alone and that the things I am doing ARE the right things to be doing.