Monday, July 31, 2017

Weeks Worth of Preparing

The week leading up to the horse show was a concise mixture of very subar riding and dealing with frustrating issues I had thought we were over. Helpful hint: greenies don't just "get over" things in the matter of a few rides, especially when there is a show coming up!

There were things to glean from the rides tho, and as always, any forward progression is still progression even if there are relapses to be had. If this mare is teaching me anything, it is about patience and persistence! 

Truthfully, the rides weren't that terrible, but it felt like we still had some left-over angst from Percentage Days and what I assume was her heat-cycle fizzling out. She wasn't broncy or malicious, just very, very pissy. Especially about any kind of outside aid. Because any outside leg aid MUST mean canter. Right?

Most of the ride went something like this:

Annie: "We canter NOW."
Me: *half halt* "No, we're just circling at the trot."
Annie: "...Now? Left leg means... CANTER CANTER CANTER RIGHT. WE CANTER NOW."
Me: "Srsly? No. We are still just turning. Just turn."
Annie: "Y u no let me canter?" **Llama impression*
Me: *tries to keep riding"
Annie: "I'm just gonna hop kinda onto my front leg just to practice canter takeoffs... JK I CANTER NOW. Hahaha. I also try to buck now."
Me: *uses whip*
Annie: "Y u hit me. Fine. I trot now but I don't do the bend thing."

So. That was fun.

Learning to stretch (note: the neck stretcher was VERY loose)
and getting her tail conditioned at the same time.
Tuesday I just didn't feel like riding so I ended up lunging her in the morning with the neck stretcher and when I went back for evening graining I toodled bareback in a halter. The lunging went OK - she cross-fired a bit on the lunge and had a hell of a time picking up her lead again. It seems like when she gets it wrong, she just gets all fired up and frustrated. I just let her figure it out and kept the session easy.

Prior to toodling, we snacked.
On Wednesday, I didn't have much time so just rode in the back paddock. I haven't ever ridden her back there before and there isn't much room to do more than straight lines and a little 20m circle at best. She was really interested about where Suzie was and it took a lot of effort to keep her concentration.

"I could give two shits." -Annie, most likely.
I kept the ride mostly walk/trot again, trying to keep her from anticipating the canter or when I would ask for the canter. I feel like it's partly my fault since I have a usual routine I do in the ring and she is starting to learn it (usually it's warm up walk, trot, then back to walk, and after walk we canter). Had some decent work, but a lot of that hoppy-ness again where she was anticipating the canter and wanting to go for it. We cantered a bit, but not much, and called it day. I was thankful Annie didn't react when Spud decided to bolt and take off galloping in the other pen - thanks dude.

The next morning I debated long and hard about riding her again, but figured I might as well work on some relaxation and trying to get our shit together. Color me surprised when Mare was pleasant and happy to go to work. We did quite a bit of cantering, especially trot-canter transitions, and she was really really good. There was one moment she anticipated and was pissy, but overall she behaved and was really focused. The trot work felt really good, and I was actually able to sit the trot without her thinking "OMG SITTING MEANS YOU ARE GONNA CANTER SOON RIGHT."

The most unflattering photo ever.
At the end of the ride in the ring, I brought her to the gate and tried to open it from her back. I've done this quite a few times, but that day she just did NOT move when I asked her. Any leg pressure and she would back up. So, I walked back to the middle of the ring and put my leg on and backed it up with a tap of the whip. Once we had that whole argument settled, I marched back to the gate and she was perfect as pie. She was rewarded with a little trail ride around the fairgrounds before I untacked her and loaded her back up to go home. 

While a lot of what I outlined over the week leading up to the show was more or less "this sucked and that sucked", we did have a lot of good moments and the disagreements are just part of that growing up phase. It's frustrating, but looking back at where we started, I have to remember this horse didn't even know how to canter before I got her and cantering more than three strides? Yah, didn't happen.

Of course, with a show happening the very next day, I was worried to see what kind of issues would play out in the ring and if I had over-faced Annie in what I had signed up for. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Percentage Days/ Clear Rounds: July

I had meant to do a recap of my ride from last Tuesday, but lack of media and lack of motivation... blah blah blah. A quick rundown of the ride was that it was pleasant - we worked a lot on the canter and did a little run through of a Dressage test that was messy, but decent. All around it was a good school where we worked more on consistency and response to my cues.

We went and picked up some square bales on Thursday evening.
The  rest of the week was pretty hectic but when I found out we wouldn't be working on Saturday like initially anticipated, I jumped at the chance to take Annie to another Percentage Days/ Clear Rounds event. For those who are unaware - it is basically a fun and low-pressure way to get young horses (and nervous riders) acclimated to the pressures of the show ring with volunteer judges and some good old fashioned fun. A lot of people go just to brush up on their schooling, or to just have fun.

I decided that before leaving on the trailer, I would dose her with some Omega Alpha Chill - not necessarily for her benefit, but for mine.

Being a good pone - for the moment.
Nicole and AJ came with us, and it quickly posed as a bit of a problem. The minute AJ loaded onto the trailer, Annie went into full blown heat mode. She was pretty good about not being a complete slut, but would tense up and lose her marbles if she couldn't see AJ. I'm not sure if this attributed to her poor attitude the remainder of the day, or if she was just being a normal green horse at a bit of a hectic event.

Nicole and I opted to tie the horses on opposite sides of the trailer and I dosed Annie again with the Chill after she pawed the crap out of the side of the trailer. She was good to be tacked up and I opted to wander over to the warm up arena solo - I was curious to see how she'd react without AJ and I didn't want to start having to rely on a buddy when we go places. A death sentence? Maybe.

At the mounting block, she tried to move around but after I stern talking to, she stood quiet enough for me to mount. Nicole and her gelding weren't far behind us, but Annie was still pretty hyped up about it all. She jigged and jigged and jigged in the warm up, which was totally irritating but we worked through it and eventually got some good work. The canters were nice - at one point during a trot-canter transition she decided she was going to give a half-hearted buck so she got a spank for that and we carried on. AJ was lunged at the opposite side of the arena and I tried to avoid where he was and tried to keep Annie's attention on me by asking her to flex, bend, leg yield... just anything that would take her mind off of her buddy. Her bad lead was picked up after about three tries and we ended it there. I felt like the work I got in there at the end was really nice and felt similar to my Karen lessons.

I have many feelings today, none of them include
Once we left the arena without AJ, she started to get jiggy again. I gritted my teeth and contemplated asking Nicole to bring AJ over, but in the end I opted to work it out and literally just walked and walked and walked some more. We did loops and circles at the walk, not asking for much, just asking her to walk. I could feel the nervous energy bundling up and it wasn't a very good feeling, but at the same time Annie was really good about it.

After another rider had finished, it was my turn and by that time Nicole had parked AJ outside of the arena. I'm not sure if him being closer helped, but Annie and I laid down a really nice Dressage test. I mean, it wasn't fault-free, but it felt really nice. Our geometry needs work and getting her more relaxed will help put the pieces together.

I opted to do Training Level 1, since I would be showing that later in the week and wanted to get over my fear of cantering in the open arena. The only issue (which really cost us points), was her right lead canter - she actually picked it up correctly and I had thought she picked up the wrong one so I shut her down and proceeded to be unsuccessful in obtaining the lead again. Oops, sorry Bannie.

Kinda embarrassing to have a test score under 50%, but ah well.

I love the amount of lift she has in the front end.
Now I just need to learn to sit it and put my
fucking hands down.

Some more stretch would be nice, but happy with this!

A moment of slight relaxation - it was short lived.

Tense and resistant, but still doing the thing.
A quick chat with the judge re: the lead and she asked me to come back and enter the court and try leg yielding her into it. I don't think the judge saw she had actually picked it up, but figured hey why not try. She didn't get the lead and we ended up saying screw it and let's go for the next test since Annie was getting frustrated with me asking and then shutting her down.

My second test ran right after the first and was Training Level 2. This test felt less harmonic than the first despite us getting all of our leads. She was more tense and gave me some serious attitude in a few movements - at one point she gave a half-hearted buck and in another she did her very best "fuck you I'm a llama" impression.

Me: "I think I might die today."
Annie: "You are thinking right."

We did the canter thing!! Complete with swishy tail sassiness.

Annie: "I hate you Ihateyou Ihateyou."

I think our enter at A was a bit.... wiggly.

My personal favorite of the day.
Annie, kindly telling me to fuck right off.
That coy smile is because I'm like "wow. I survived"
I was kind of discouraged by the behavior, because she is usually quite an agreeable mare with a "yes ma'am" attitude. I think a lot of her poor behavior was stemming from the fact it was a little chaotic, she was in heat, and she was being kinda buddy-sour. A win in this situation was that I wasn't afraid tho, which made me proud and to be fair, Annie DID do everything I asked at the right times and for the right amount of time - it was just more or less abrupt, rushy, and very hollow. I suppose the relaxation will come.

We wandered back to the trailer and I stripped Annie's tack and let her eat some hay. She was quiet and calm as I went and watched a few other people's tests and there was only one point I had to walk back over and tie her a bit shorter and give her a stern talking to for pawing again. For a mare that hasn't really been tied like that at events, I was pleased with her cooperation.

After helping the volunteers set up the jumps, I went into the ring where Annie had NO steering and not really any brakes... or cares... or anything. She kind of reverted back to how she felt when I first got her - just like a wet noodle. She did everything I asked tho - and didn't even hesitate at any of the jumps or throw in any stops.

"I am not enjoying this." -Annie

Looping back down to where AJ was and passing him..
Yah... she was not impressed.

Being super defensive, but pony is happy.

Initially, the plan was to do 4-5 rounds, but I only ended up doing three. Two trot pole rounds and one cross-rail round. Each time we did a round, I had to give her a spank with the whip to get into the arena, mostly because she didn't want to leave her friend.

The first trot pole round was really awful feeling - she ignored my aids and kinda just turned on her own and wiggled all over the place. The second trot pole round was better and I actually let her canter over some of the poles, wherein she knocked a few. The cross rail round was by far the best and I let her canter most of it. I had to really half-halt a lot tho, because her canter is not really compressible right now so she was ZOOOOMING through it. Still - pony went through it and did it all.

All in all it was a pretty good day - we had some major fail moments and some really good moments. Sometimes it is easy to get discouraged to not have the same horse at home as you do at an event, but I suppose it'll just take time. I am still pretty happy that we got to do everything I wanted to do, despite the minor theatrics.

We stayed and watched Horse Show Buddy jump Tally (remember her?)
and Annie all of a sudden was like "OHMAHGOD I AM SO TIRED NOW."
 After our third pass in the jump arena, Annie was parked outside the ring to watch a few rounds and she fell asleep. Until AJ and Nicole left back to the trailer... then Annie decided to forget I was leading her and she decided to just be overly rude and pushy. We did some in-hand work and when I asked her to yield her haunches she kicked out... so she got a spanking again. Oh, mare.

She loaded up good and hauled home just fine, even when AJ was dropped off and left.

Anyone else find more exposure makes their horse easier to deal with? Any mare-in-heat horror stories? How long did it take for your horse to get used to the chaos that is horse shows/events?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Increments of Change

It's funny how things that once seemed like a big hurdle just get better and better over time. When I first got Annie there were lots of things that "needed work" that I knew would just get better over time and nothing other than wet saddle pads would aid in that progress.

I sometimes find myself preparing for XYZ and being pleasantly surprised when there is no reaction. I first noticed it when I fly-sprayed her without a type of restraint on (halter). She stood quiet, letting me spray her all over.

Waiting for Spud to catch up and
hearing voices from Space Aliens?
And I noticed it again when I tacked her up after four days off and she stood, rock solid and cocked a hind leg. Typically she'll wiggle once or twice - especially when I throw the saddle over - but this time she just lowered her head and waited.

And once more when I went riding with a friend - I had dropped my dressage whip and he offered to trot Spud back to go retrieve it. I decided to continue walking ahead and stopped under a shady tree to wait. And Annie stood. Normally, she is pretty concerned with where her buddies are, esp if they "leave" during a ride. But she didn't even look back.

The same day I went trail riding and dropped my whip, I went trotting and cantering down the dirt road that runs through the subdivision. I hadn't done that in few years - never did it on Suzie, and certainly didn't attempt it on Geronimo when I rode him. I turned Annie away from the direction of home and cantered up the path, laughing and smiling as we went. She initially sucked back - probably because "Uh... aren't we going home?" and "Spud... you're coming too, right?", but she did the thing anyways.

And it just made me so, so happy.

Doesn't share grass tho.
Still doesn't eat the grass while tacked either...

These aren't the only changes that have caught my attention - there are quite a few little nuances that are mostly nbd for more seasoned animals, but they make my heart swell. I'm a self-identified second guesser so it's nice to see I'm not completely ruining a good horse.

And though these changes are so small, I have to remember to relish in them and be proud of them. Forward progression is something to be celebrated, and with each wet saddle pad, we are starting to put the pieces together.

I have this horse who is mentally growing up and is starting to really get comfortable with things and the questions I ask. Our ride lastnight (blog to follow) was testament to that. Everything is starting to come together and although we still cannot ride a 20m canter circle, we can actually canter (and do an egg-shaped 35.2m circle) now! Four months ago, Annie wasn't even strong enough to canter one lap around the arena.

That's a happy mash face!
I'm excited to see how this progresses and where our next increment of change is going to come from. For now, we will keep doing what we do and try to suck up all the knowledge of lessons we can (our lesson for last weekend was cancelled due to instructor car troubles).

And on a more interesting note, Annie and I are officially entered into her very first show - it's a local show next weekend and although I am still debating my class choices, it'll be good for the experience nonetheless.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Not Wrong

This whole Bringing Up Greenie thing has really opened my eyes to the amount of hard work and dedication it takes to make them into a civilized beast. Of course, all of that has been relatively simple thanks to the fact that Annie is one cool customer in regards to most things. To say that she is an Ammy-friendly Greenie would be pretty accurate - for the most part our biggest hurdles have been on the ground vs in the saddle and even those have been relatively short-lived. (I feel like I need to knock on wood now...)

And the horse has been so good lately, you guys.
When I first bought Annie, I was intending to send her to Trainer K for a month. I'm sure you guys can figure out how that went -  because obviously Annie didn't go. Being laid off from work (due to a shortage) was a large portion of it, and also due to the fact the barn Trainer K was training out of was on and off flooding throughout the left-over Winter months. So I saved my pennies instead and rode the horse myself.

And so far, it's been just fine. We've had hiccups and we've had moments of uncertainty, but we've been able to show a steady stream of progress and we've been able to overcome things. All has been good in that respect.

But part of me is still strongly considering training with Trainer K at the end of the year.

Not because Annie is a bad horse, or because we are having some issues I haven't disclosed on my blog. In fact, she is a pretty solid citizen for the most part.

So why am I still considering it?

I guess the simplest answer is: I am not a trainer.

I am a professional shit scooper tho.
So, I have that going for me.
I've tossed this idea of "training" around for the last few months and have had multiple responses from various friends. Some range from the "DIY" category, and others have wholly agreed that some refinement work from a trainer wouldn't be a bad idea. And some others meet in the middle - training with a side of lessons.

And none of them are wrong.

Having being stuck (not by choice) in the DIY category for most of my riding life, what seems like an attainable thing (ie. lessons) is not as simple a feat for someone who has a working life, lesson commute (1hr each way), and (always at the most inconvenient times) a very small pocket-book. I constantly fall in and out of the lesson cycles due to things like weather, work, or no later ride times, which makes me short-listed on various occasions (regulars get first dibs, as they should!).

I am quite fortunate to have my own trailer now and a verrry understanding Boyfriend (any lesson I need to commute to, I am gone 4-5 hours of the day, usually at dinner time lol).

The whole sending your horse away for training thing is a hot topic, and I am kinda stuck in the middle with all of the mental brain-games that go on. Self-doubt and being impressionable really sucks! Altho, as a good friend said - "You need to stop being so hard on yourself! This is literally one month of training, it's not like you are going to have her in training for the rest of her life!"

Duly noted.

This guy did two months training before
I brought him home.
For sake of curiosity, what is your take? Are you in the "lessons only" camp? Or are you in the "self-made, self-taught" category? Is training something you would consider, especially after you started riding the horse? Do you consider training as an "easy out"? Do you consider extra miles on a greenie as nbd?

And if you have sent horses for training, why was the reason the horse was sent for training? Is it a situation you could've resolved yourself? How long was the horse in training for? Would you send the horse for training again?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Riding Time/Fitness Survey

I have been wanting to throw this out onto the Blogosphere for a while now, but just hadn't had the time to come up with the questions I wanted to add and how to implement it into a data-analyzing format. I've finally had time to slap it all together and am pleased with the result.

Annie: "NOT ANOTHER ride. Ughhh"
Spud: "Take me instead pls."
Suzie: "I am outta here"

As someone who attempts to micro-manage my time, in hopes of gracing the saddle more often, I've made this particular survey a joint venture. On one hand, it reflects Rider time management as well as availability to ride said Pony. On the other, it is a glimpse at a fitness regime most of us have tailored to our current horses's mental/physical state.

I'll leave the survey up for a month and then garner the data and share it in a more interesting format. But for now, if you could all be so kind as to fill out the simple 9 questions and provide me with any feedback, I'd greatly appreciate it!

Monday, July 17, 2017

6 Months

If we want to get all sentimental and emotional - Annie has been "mine" for six months on paper as of July 4th. I didn't actually meet her, ride her, and bring her home until January 11th, though.

So with this mid-year anniversary already passing us at lightning speed, I've taken a moment to reflect on where we started and where we are headed. It is kind of humbling, to look back at all the blog posts and see what kinds of issues we were having, or what kind of things we considered "wins" for that particular ride.

Throwback to when I was convincing myself
Annie not loading was a good thing.
In a lot of ways, nothing is really super exciting and we haven't had this ground-breaking earth-shattering change. Instead of seeing distinct change in one ride, I am starting to see the progress over weeks and months of reaffirmation, repetition and reward. It is all starting to formulate into something more - the eeking out of potential and the glimpses of what her rideability and temperament will be like is just so exciting.

It's not to say that we won't have games of emotional tug o war, wherein one day we can (for example) trot without spooking at something and the next day we spook at everything. Mostly 'cause, horses are horses and every day is always different.

But seeing her become a more respectable citizen in the equine community is reassuring and it makes me excited for the prospective future.

First outing.
Respectable and rideable.
In some ways (mostly because I can never just be happy with what I have), I feel "behind", and it is hard to not feel that way sometimes, but we just keep chugging along. I have to remind myself Annie was just started in December and from there, everything is a new ball game for the both of us. And I still remind myself that she was grounded to a training facility and things like road hacking, trail riding, trailer loading... and uh, even CANTERING, were not even part of her journey to being broke (or were very minor parts in her journey to becoming a riding horse).

I remember taking some videos when I first got Annie, mostly for myself to glean some comparisons on and to "look back and laugh" at how uncoordinated and awkward we both were.

January - first ride



The funny thing about each photo, is that they were cherry-picked at the time and toted as our "new normal" or our "new progress". Each new lesson we take, or ride we do, the "new normal" molds and changes.

And while the last July photo is one of my favorite, it isn't how we consistently travel. I mean, baby horse has to learn about holding herself up and activating all these new muscles. But, it's a far cry from what our "best" looked like in February.

The happiest mash face in all the land.
In a lot of ways, it isn't just about the whole rideability thing. It is about how far she's come as a solo hacking-out horse. How she stands for fly-spray without having to be restrained by a halter. How she can be hot shod now whereas when I first got her, she tried to kill my farrier when he was just barefoot trimming her. How she loads reliably into the trailer.

All of these things are falling into place and it just feels like the start of something really, really good.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Emulating Those Clinic Feels

After a successful clinic, it is only natural to want to mirror those results into our every day riding. But why is it SO HARD. OMG. I found myself doing the bad things and reverting back to how I rode previously, which obviously was not conducive to maneuvering a baby giraffe around.

Yesterday I wanted to put in a schooling ride, since I have only been able to do some light hacks and hand-walking due to my insane new work schedule and the weather being uncooperative. I had planned on hauling Annie and Spud to the grounds to cut down on the time it would take to walk there and back. A friend from out of town is visiting and he loves driving Spud, so he came along to give Spud a good work out while I rode in the arena.

But this is one of my favorite pics!
Aaaand I have no new media...
Unfortunately, it was just NOT my day yesterday. After work was said to be getting out early, it ended up being an hour later than the proposed time. I also ended up forgetting to bring the keys for the fairgrounds gate, which meant we had to park on the little pull-out and tack up beside the highway. And then, I forgot to bring my riding boots, so I had to ride around in breeches and cowboy boots.

All things considered, Annie was great to be tacked up along the highway. She didn't pay any of the speeding cars any attention and I was really pleased with this. I chose to hand-walk her into the grounds and bridle here when we were at the ring, just for safety reasons (ie. the highway). She hasn't given me a reason to not to trust her, and I always loop my reins over the neck before disconnecting the halter, but I still didn't want to tempt fate considering the stretch of bad luck and poor judgement calls I had already made.

A buckle-rein (literally) hack in the pouring
rain earlier this week.
I hopped on and she was a bit wiggly about standing still, but a quick smack to the shoulder and she stood perfect. Once I mounted up, she was a bit more forward than she normally is and popped into a jog once or twice, but I attributed most of that to the fact I haven't schooled her since our lessons over a week ago and she was very interested in where Spud was (hint: not with her). I did notice a bit of a trend tho, and am wondering if she is more forward in an outdoor arena vs indoor. Of all the times I've hauled her to the grounds to ride in the outdoor, she is a bit of a steam engine whereas in the indoor arena, she is more lazy. (However, if I trail ride to the outdoor like I normally do, she is just fine. But that can also be because we just walked 20min there lol). Just something to observe, altho I think a lot can be attributed to the time off regardless.

"I came here with a friend... wait... WHERE IS MY FRIEND?"
After her initial joggy-ness and trying to see where Spud was, she settled within a few minutes and politely went to work. I will preface by saying that since we were already behind schedule, I was more rushed about getting her ridden and all the chores I had waiting.

We really worked a lot at the trot - developing that slooooow trot and getting her body to be a bit more manipulative. She fell out of the slower trot a few times and kind of dove forwards, especially in the corners (balance issues), but was able to be brought back relatively quickly. She had a few short moments wherein I realllly had to half halt her and say, "NO." but nothing major - which was more in the first part of our ride. By the end, she was trotting along at a reasonable pace, although did not feel super adjustable (in the sense of extending and coming back quietly for a working trot).

Our leg yields were kinda icky... she drifted herself to the track a few times - stupid me forgot to implement leg yields away from the track like K had mentioned during my lessons - and other times her ass swung out. Sometimes it can be hard to remember everything!

I played a lot with a few different exercises - serpentines with walking in the middle, 10m trot circles, extended trot across the diagonal (I call it an "extension" but we both know it's more like RUN RUN RUN RUN BREAK INTO CANTER RUN RUN).

If this gif was in trot, it would be pretty accurate.
The canter work was lovely, and despite having a difficult time initially to get that right lead, we got it a few times and successfully cantered around without me hanging on the inside rein. The first few times she got the wrong lead, she started to get herself worked up, so we had to re-instill the quiet trot and go back to the drawing board. The sitting trot really helped here and out of Annie's frustrations, she launched into the canter a few times just to protest. #babyhorsetantrum Once she did get that lead, it was like she had a magnet to her ass to stay as close to the gate of the arena as possible, so I ensured that when we got that lead again, we went down the far side of the arena and all around.

On her left lead, I found myself squeezing too much on my outside rein and remembered to LET HER GO and rode each stride as if I were going over a jump - she powered forward and although she was going too fast, it was good to establish that forward energy.

I do feel like I rushed a lot of the work we did in the arena, which is something that I will need to work on. It didn't help that I was already having a frustrating day and had wanted to be home at a certain time. Still, it is important to stay with her and to continue to ask for XYZ. It can be hard, especially when you don't get instant results, but it pays off in the end when you get that moment a few minutes later. So, something to work on and remember for our next ride.

I think this gif is appropriate for the both of us, Micayla
And while the ride wasn't 100% perfect, or anything like our last lesson, I was able to apply some of the things I had learned and improve little by little. Some of the trot work felt really good and I felt much more stable in the tack during the canter and was able to keep my legs at the girth instead of fighting the saddle.

Still, I was pleased that I was able to piece things back together as they fell apart and get some of that quality of work we had gotten when I had "all eyes on me".


Do you have a hard time riding on your own vs in lessons? Do you tend to come up with a pre-determined idea of what kind of exercises you will do during your ride or do you see what kind of horse you have before you make a plan? Or do you just wing it and implement what exercises you feel are right for the time? Any helpful tips or ideas?

Monday, July 10, 2017

SD Bloghop: Lucky Number S(l)even

Thanks to Alaina at Spotted Dressage for this hop! I haven't done one in a long time, so when I saw this pop up in my blog-feed, I just knew I had to partake!

1. Where do your current horses hail from?

Red = Me
Green = Suzie
Blue = Spud
Annie = Purple
Suzie came from a Horse Rescue that I had worked at a few years prior to actually owning her. I fell in love with her at the Rescue and when the opportunity to own her came around, I jumped at the chance.

Spud was purchased from a woman who owned and operated a Petting Zoo/ Pony Ride type barn. The woman owned all sizes and breeds of horses and from the looks of things, enjoyed trail riding and barrel racing. From what I understand, Spud (and his sister) were never used as part of the "zoo".

Annie was purchased from a sale barn based off of a few photos and videos. She was started with 30 days of training and sold as confirmed walk/trot, starting canter and going over poles.

2. What is the #1 'thing' that makes your riding horse(s) unique and enjoyable for you?

Although I don't ride Suzie anymore, and I wouldn't classify her as a riding horse, I just think she is the cutest fucking thing in the world. I miss all the goofy things she would do undersaddle (who would've thought I would miss having her head in my lap on the trail ride home?). More than that though, she is special to me because she is my very first horse.

She also blinks every time I take a damn photo.
Believe it or not, I kinda covered why Annie is a cool customer in my post "Fear". The fact she can sense I am uncertain, and she knows I am nervous, but still does the thing is incredibly heart-warming. It is kind of too early in our relationship to delve any further than that, but the fact that she doesn't cross that line when any other horse would have taken advantage of any weak moment is special to me. 

With Spud - I can't even type enough as to why this guy is my very favorite pony. He is just such a blessing to have in my life, as cheesy as it sounds. His goofy personality, the way he acts all businessman-like when he's hitched, the little neighs he does when I go to the barn every day, the way he cuddles, his no-quit attitude, the fact he is safe for just about anyone... the list could really go on and on.

And while I did not break him to drive, I feel like a lot of the time I put into him has shone thru, and that makes me exceptionally happy. To have a horse that I brought home as a green-bean and develop him into a competitive, sane, and friendly partner is just a beautiful thing.

3. What is the proudest moment you've shared with your riding horse(s) in the past 3 years?

For Suzie, there are two moments that really stick out for me. The last show we ever did, wherein she played hunter pony, and the day I brought her home.

With Spud, I would have to say hands-down his first show. Little guy was on a roll.

Annie - so far my proudest moment with her would be the trailer loading. It seems like I could've chosen a million other things to be proud of, but that whole trailer thing really knocked the wind out of our sails for a while.

4. What have you struggled most with your riding horse(s) in the last 3 years?

Suzie's soundness and well-being. I mean, I realize arthritis is a degenerative condition so it's not like it'll improve, but every since her riding career ended I dread the day I will have to say goodbye to her. It has been on the forefront of my mind, especially with Winter not so very far away...

Spud has been pretty game for everything and a lot of the "issues" he has had have been resolved in a timely manner. He had a small stint wherein he would rear in harness, as well as the random bout of head-shaking he developed last year due to being out in his poll area... but nothing has really been a consistent or constant struggle with him. #it'snothisfaulthe'sperfect

Annie has been mine for 6 months now (wow, where has the time gone?!) and I feel like there will be small struggles here and there as we develop our partnership training-wise. Our biggest hurdle I think is going to be my mental state - it's not just something I've struggled with with riding, but in every day life. My hope is that as we get to know eachother more and partake in more lessons to push those boundaries, I'll learn to trust her more - because the mare certainly deserves it.

5. What type of riding do you do?

I am kind of a jack of all trades, master of none I guess.

With Suzie I dabbled in literally everything and had so much fun.

We mostly just dabble into photos now.
Spud obviously is driven, although part of me would enjoy taking him to a mini show just to do some in-hand jumping.

With Annie, we are still figuring out what she is good at. I think Dressage will be a large part of her "career", but I have plans to do just about everything on her. I doubt she'll be good at everything, but I could see us having a blast at a gymkhana a year from now, or hopping over some small jumps.

6. What are you hoping to accomplish with your riding horse(s) this Summer?

As much as I try not to pre-plan a lot of things, for the sake of things going to Hell in a handbasket:

I have planned a photo-shoot with a talented friend for myself and the horses gang. Most of the pictures, however, will be versed around Suzie. So other than being a retired pony who runs out of the barn limping (to get the grass in the front), she'll be a model.

Spud plans are to drive him more and take him to the BVX again. I still have a small hope to eek out two qualifying drives for the 2018 BC Heritage Games. Finances played a large role in my inability to do so earlier, but I just might be able to do it before the year ends.

Annie has a lot of goals, but most of them are small and may seem insignificant. My biggest goal is to get her to a show (or two) and continue to develop our partnership. I would be lying if I said that was all I had my eyes on, but it would be nice to do a Training Level test at the BVX this year too.

7. What is your next long-term goal with your riding horse(s)?
Suzie - to love her and pamper her until she decides she is ready to cross Rainbow Bridge. And then I will just love her <3

Spud - qualify for the BC Heritage Games. And if I don't do any driving trials this year, I would like to do some next year!

Annie - to take me past the limits of Training Level and 2'3" courses. I've been doing those tests and courses for a large portion of my equestrian "career", and I am ready (and hungry) to learn more.