Tuesday, October 2, 2018

An Appendix and a Spainard Walk into a Ring...

In riding Annie, a high percentage of my time is spent hacking out or schooling alone. Most weekends I am able to ride with N, as she lives out of town and drives back in every weekend to ride AJ. But, for the most part, I'm alone unless I make plans ahead of time with someone. Which, works sometimes but not all the time - especially when schedules do not align.

That being said, I typically don't ride with Show Buddy or Heidi & Navarro (the Andalusian) unless I'm trailering out to Barn C or the local grounds in the next town. There are quite a few other people I enjoy riding with, and I mostly don't see them unless we're in the same clinics or shows. It kinda sucks, because I love riding with these ladies, but a 50+ min haul each way is not always feasible on my end. 

Anyways, when Heidi messaged me wanting to ride together and then offered to haul Navarro and herself to me and Annie, I excitedly bounced up and down and waited for Friday to come.

When Friday did arrive, I met Heidi at the entrance of the subdivision and drove with her to the barn. It was an exciting day, because not many of the people I ride with have seen my horse's digs, the set up of the subdivision, or the training challenges I face (20+min hack to the riding arena each way). So, it was pretty fun to be able to show Heidi the dirt road I tried explaining to her after I had cantered Annie down it the first time last year, or the RV that always manages to spook Annie, or the trail to the arena with giant hills I fail to capture decent photos of. 

While I threw on an extra jacket, Heidi unloaded Navarro and thus commenced Annie pacing the fence-line bc "WHAT IS HAPPENING, ANOTHER HORSE IS HERE WHAT." I think it kind of blew Annie's mind a bit, because we rarely get friends coming up the driveway, much less a loaded trailer with horse friends in them!!

Annie says, "OK, friend. Cool. I'm bored now."
I laughed, went and haltered her and brought her out to say hello to Navarro. Annie was verrrry interested in her new friend, while Navarro kinda couldn't care less, haha. Once they sniffed noses tho, Annie was less "FRANDS ARE HERE" and more "Ah, okay, you are also a horse like me". So I pulled her away and went to get tacked up. She cocked a leg, but kept a careful eye on the direction of Navarro because having friends is exciting.

I wasn't sure how she'd do once I mounted up, because in past history when we have had friends meet us at our barn, Annie gets a little hot and excited to GO, so I wasn't sure. I brought along some treats and once I swung a leg over, reminded her to stand and fed her some cookies. I needn't worry tho, because Annie could have cared less and walked off like a civilized beast. 

Navarro pranced off, excited to be in a new place and as she jigged along, Annie hurried her steps for a few strides and felt a little butt-scooty. I simply pulsed on my outside rein, reminding her to lower her head and elongate her neck. She complied, exhaled, and walked normally. A few times, she looked over at Navarro like, "What ARE you doing?" as she pranced alongside us for a few minutes, haha.

I was also highly impressed Heidi dressed Nav in a matching purple pad.
Eventually, she settled and both mares plodded along quietly while Heidi and I chatted and I pointed out various markers along the way.

The plan was to ride to the ring, as Heidi wanted to see what a "typical schooling day" looked for us and also wanted to see the cross-firing issues (if any) and ride Annie to see if she felt anything maybe I was missing or couldn't. I agreed, happy to have the opportunity to have someone else ride her and feel what I feel, especially since Heidi has done the whole "bringing up baby" thing before and I could probably glean a few things from her previous experience.

I think the whole thing gave Heidi a lot of perspective into how much planning it takes for me to go school my horse, and the amenities we have/ don't have available. Which, is pretty neat. And it was kind of funny to see Heidi's face light up at the massive hills to and from the grounds, "These are GREAT for building butt muscles!"  

Heading home, post-school. 
We got to the ring and after taking a series of phone calls that would not end, I finally hopped on my beast and rode around. She felt resistant, tight, and behind the leg. I worked quite a bit at the walk, asking her to move out and let herself relax a bit. She kept trying to pull towards Navarro, so a few times I gave her a good boot in the ribs. 

She complied after some time of stretchy trot and we managed to actually get some productive work in but she still felt kinda... tight. She threw one tantrum re: left lead and bounced around cross-firing. I took the opportunity to boot her forwards and kick her over with my inside leg to push her ass back in. She was not happy about it, but eventually quit changing and cantered around like the civilized beast I knew she could be.

We finished off with a bunch of simple changes, wherein she struggled with her right lead on the diagonal, but we got it and ended it there so Heidi would have a chance to hop on before the mare's engine ran dry.

Heidi watching us go round.
I got on Navarro, but mostly just watched Heidi ride Annie around while she elaborated on some things. Annie started out tense in her back, but once she realized the aids weren't any different and the asks/wants weren't anything out of the ordinary, she settled.

Heidi got some great work out of her, which made me realize how much I still ride Annie with kid gloves. Not to say that I let her get away with things, but I still think of her as a green baby horse when I should start to up the pressure and up the asks into demands. So it was neat to see someone who doesn't have the baggage of bringing her up/riding her consistently to get on and get those buttons I've been harvesting for a while to work effectively and efficiently. It made me realize the buttons are not only there, but they are ready to be plucked and used.

There were a few things Heidi gleaned into riding Annie - mostly that she doesn't feel like a green horse anymore and that she is willing to accept the pressure. She is sensitive, yes, but she can take a joke and she can work under pressure without caving. 

It's hard - to know when to keep pushing vs sitting back and saying "Well, she's still young so we'll just chip away at X, Y, Z slowly" vs "Today we start the process, tomorrow we revisit it, next week we refine it and now and forever amen it's a part of our 'can do' list." 

They got pretty photogenic.. for like one whole picture haha.
The other thing Heidi mentioned was about Annie's canter. She mentioned she is quite downhill when she canters (which is true) so she worked on bringing her shoulders up and setting her back on her ass - she did this simply by lifting her outside rein and it was amazing to see the transformation in Annie's canter quality. By being so on the forehand, it makes it easy for her to switch in the hind, and it also makes her more apt to canter sideways since she's diving downwards and I didn't have the know-how to correct the issue. Part of it was lack of consistency on my outside rein, which Heidi gave me shit for when I got back on to ride the more elevated canter (#inanabusiverelationshipwithmyinsiderein). Which, is also why I was able to canter her straighter and without cross-firing when I made sure she was connected to the outside rein

Once Heidi finished up riding her, playing around with lengthens, I hopped back on to play around with some suggestions from Heidi as she watched from the ground. It was fun to play around and have someone be able to help a bit from the ground, simply because I don't have the ability to have consistent lessons.

We finished up with some forward trot, pushing her into the leg as we did transitions before calling it a day. Both mares were pretty pooped, so the plan of riding the trail around the grounds did not happen, but it made for a fun ride regardless.

During the ride, Annie kept trying to sneak smells of Nav's neck and Nav
was decidedly NOT into it, haha.
The remainder of the ride back, we laughed and chatted and let our mares toodle along quietly back to the barn.

It was a refreshing ride - having someone compliment my mare and all the hard work I've put into her, as well as ENJOY riding her made me feel pretty damn good. And to be able to get some helpful advice that actually worked for me and my mare was above and beyond what I could ask for.  Rides with friends are damn fun, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to show Heidi around my neck of the woods and how it all works for us. The other plus side was that the 20+ min walk to and from the grounds didn't nearly feel so long with a friend tagging along :)  


  1. There’s nothing like having friends come and ride. I am like you-alone a lot of the time. It’s good to have someone on her too

    1. It was a lot of fun - something I need to do more of :)

  2. It's crazy what that damn outside rein can change! It sounds like you had a great day with your friend. Those are so special to have when you're usually riding alone - I know, 'cause I'm one of those always-alone people, too!

    1. The outside rein has never been my friend...
      I need to forge a real relationship with it haha.

  3. That is so awesome that she hauled out to you!

    1. I am usually the one that hauls out, so it was so nice she came to me for a change

  4. aw riding with friends is the best - it's always so useful to get that social aspect plus a fresh perspective on the pony. glad it was such a good time!

  5. Riding with friends is the best! Especially ones who can hop on your horse and give advice!

    1. It is!!
      And I was grateful for the advice, esp because she was keen on giving me props for getting Annie to where she was but also explained little things to make things even better :)

  6. Sounds like this was a great and productive day for everyone involved. It's so great to get an outside perspective on your horse, and especially when it validates a lot of what you're already doing right!

  7. Sounds like a great day! It's wonderful to have a friend who can offer some useful input. Navarro is so pretty!