Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Plugging Along

Trying to get cute pictures but she looks dejected and abused instead.
Annie got two days off following the very long and technical trail ride - I try not to ride her more than three days in a row, especially if they are long/ difficult rides. For the most part, I've been able to keep a pretty decent schedule in regards to giving her time off to marinate in some new questions, or to just enjoy days off. I feel like it's an important and integral part of riding a horse - any age or discipline.

As the season has started to wind down, I had been lowering the intensity and frequency of our rides, which seemed to be working out well enough but then I realized something...

I realized that pretty damn soon snow is going to hit and Annie will be off until the white powder melts and the arena is useable once more.

So we're gonna keep doing this as long as we can!!
So - as long as the sun is shining and the footing is good, we will continue pursuing a ring-riding education for Annie and plugging along on the trail like we have been. The pressure of showing is off the table, which makes it a bit easier in regards to schooling more effectively. I'm not worried about making a deadline or being able to execute x, y, z appropriately. I just school as it comes and suss out the details we need to suss out without worrying about x, y, or z. And that's kinda nice in a way.

Recently we've been kinda dealing with old devils - Annie has come out a bit fresh (cold weather) and we've had to revisit the whole "no you cannot just throw your head in the air, grab the bit and jig down the driveway". If long-time readers remember, I had been using treats to get her used to the idea that "the longer we stand, the more treats you get". And it worked out very well and I was even able to ditch the treats... until the weather got cooler.

I'm not hugely interested in using treats to teach my horses to stand or to behave - this is moreso because I didn't grow up around horses using them in any kind of scenario besides the occasional cookie for being a good pony after a ride. It's kind of embarrassing to me in a way, but at the same time, if it works why not use it to my advantage and continue to work towards eradicating it from our program. As a friend of mine has said, Annie has trained me, haha. Which, might be true I guess but it has helped and as such, I've readded it into our program for the last few rides to remind her.

Spud is always mean-muggin for treats.
The riding itself is mostly going well - there are little things we need to suss out, as per usual, and I find myself flopping between "This is going well!" to "But this person is doing x, y, z with their young horse why aren't we." It's a silly thought process to get into, and I've done so well the past month or so in just concentrating on me and my horse. And that's kinda where I need to keep my head-space.

So, we just keep plugging along. Refining the canter and getting Annie to be more forward and honest to the leg. The last few weeks I had noticed she started to revert back to old habits on me, but the school in the Dressage saddle was pretty good. We did a lot of walk-trot work to get her a bit more honest to my leg. And we also worked on TOH, TOF, and backing. She likes to back crooked, so we did some work on that and even pushed a few halt-trots out of her.

She felt good, but is still quite inconsistent in the bridle. It's frustrating, but I know it's something that will get better once I ride her in both reins vs just the outside rein (blog post on that coming!). It's so damn hard - this whole riding thing sometimes haha.

The irony in this picture was not lost on me. I ended up turning
Annie around to back-track to get this photo.
We finished the ride with some counter-canter loops that are in first level tests. She felt awesome in them, and I was pretty surprised she did them with a decent amount of balance. Good girl, Annie!

The only thing that went "wrong" I suppose was when I went to catch Spud - I left him loose in the arena during our school as it serves as a good distraction for Annie. The naughty little mini had managed to grab my hoodie and gummed on my pockets (which had treats in them). I hadn't noticed, because I was concentrating on riding, haha. I shooed him away from the hoodie, went and tied Annie and didn't realize the gate was verrrrry slightly open.

You can see where this is going.

Yup. Spud was deeply offended I shooed him away from the treat bearing hoodie and took one took at me, went off galloping towards Annie, slowed to a trot and exited stage right.

Going... going.... gone.
Thankfully, he stuck around and after convincing him he wasn't *really* in trouble for eating the treats, he let me catch him and we headed home. I was kinda gobsmacked that he fit through the gate tho, unless Annie nosed it further open after I tied her. Lesson learned I guess, haha.

Overall, it was a good ride and I was happy with her try. It can be hard tho, to settle for what you get sometimes without looking over at the "greener" side of other people's training programs with their own horses. I just have to keep reminding myself of how far we've come and I think a lot of our issues are due to the fact Annie was started so late - and not just started late, but handled late as well. We're kinda floating around in 4 year old territory, despite the fact she's 6 - which is something a few clinicians have told me.

And speaking of clinicians, Thanksgiving weekend (Canadian), Annie and I took a lesson with Anthony. Because of the holiday and making dinner with my Grandma, I wasn't able to attend all three days of the clinic but took advantage of one lesson just to see how we've progressed since we last saw Anthony (in June).

A nice Fall hack - much stretching was had.
Before the clinic tho, we managed to put in the Dressage ride mentioned above and a nice and quiet hack across the highway. We drug Spud along for both rides, as per usual, and both horses were very well behaved. Annie attempted to make up her own trail (we go this way, ma!) but I shut that down with a simple nudge to the belly, haha.

I figured it would be a nice day for a hack, and I wasn't wrong. But holy cow the subdivision was just a-buzzing with activity. We had a few large vaccuum trucks pass us, one semi hauling a 30' flat deck, and another semi (body only) that utilized it's air brakes as we passed. The horses weren't concerned and I was glad they don't care about traffic, esp as I hollered a few times at the dogs to join me on the side of the ditch while we waited for them to pass. At one point, we had to stand and wait for the semi and flat deck to turn the corner, as he needed to swing wide across the road.

It was a nice 5k ride and I took advantage of some traffic cones laying out on the road to have both Annie and Spud walk between them. Annie hesitated the first time we went through (heading out to the trail) but went quietly and hilariously enough, the second time we went through (heading home) she completely froze and snorted before cautiously stepping through. I had to laugh. Seriously mare, we literally just went through them earlier in the ride!!

Not like we literally just walked through it 30min ago or anything.

"Oh OK, I'll just stroll thru but I'll snort the entire time."
It's been a good few weeks of riding and as sunlight fades earlier and earlier, it makes me grateful I am able to spend so much time in the saddle developing and influencing my "young" horse. Things will continue to get better and things that we once found difficult will become easier. We may be chugging along at a slower pace than most, but we're chugging along nonetheless. 


  1. This chugging along will pay off big time.

  2. I find looking back really shows you just how far youve come without realizing!

    1. It really does!! It can be hard to appreciate the journey sometimes.

  3. Omg Spud XD It always seems like a few steps forward and a few steps back with the young horses but chugging along is definitely worth it :)

    1. Spud is an asshole lol.

      It really is, but it'll pay off in the end!!

  4. Spud Spud where do you think you are going? HA HAHAH Love him.

    You are so far along from last year this time. I am so excited for you and hope the snow stays away for a bit longer for you! :) Chug chug chug!

    1. Spud wasn't thinking about where he was going - Spud was only thinking of giving me a big MIDDLE FINGER. Haha.

      Thank you so much :)

  5. Spud you naughty, naughty boy! And damn - Annie has come so far. What a good girl.

    1. He really is, lol. Keeps me on my toes.

      She really has. Thank you