Friday, January 11, 2019

Two Years of Annie

Today marks our second "Annie"-versary!

Although I officially purchased her a few days earlier, due to the arrangements of hauling and poor weather conditions, I didn't have her leadrope in my hands until January 11th.

The last two years have been a journey - with Annie being my first green horse, I floundered a bit with what I "should be" and "shouldn't be" doing - but Annie was there every step of the way without so much as a bat of her eye. We had our shares of issues (looking at you canter leads), and we still face some training problems (forward is hard, yanno), but I finally feel like things are coming together as they were intended to.

We pushed ourselves this year, seeking out as much education as I could afford both financially and schedule-wise. It has paid off in dividends, and I relish in the successes we conquered this year. Of course, it was not without some obstacles, but I feel like the way I pushed through them and addressed them was appropriate and par for the course.

In some ways, I'm kind of like "Wow, two years already!!" and the other part of me is thinking, "It's only been TWO years... we have many more years of partnership and many more rides to conquer." And in that sense, those two years were the first two years of Annie's undersaddle career, which is just insane for me to think about, haha.

This mare went from 30 days in a training facility to the middle of nowhere back-woods private barn set up, haha. Never been ridden outside of an indoor arena, one of our first rides after purchasing her was out on the roadways near the private barn I board at with cars driving by, dogs running about... And we kinda never looked back.

Here is to two years together, and to many, many more.

We started the year with a Derek Huget Dressage clinic, to address some of Annie's canter resistance issues. We broke down the canter issue to the basics - leg pressure = canter, no matter the lead she chose. The idea was to get her understanding the leg cue meant canter vs worrying about what lead she chose, considering there was some frustration when she didn't understand what I was trying to get her to do.

The clinic went really well, aside from an unscheduled dismount on my part on Day 1. We mostly worked on getting Annie more confident and comfortable vs nit-picking.

Annie went for 30 days training with Trainer K in February, so a professional could bridge the gap for Annie and I on the canter issues we had last year. It worked out really well, and the extra-instruction made me realize I needed to be accountable for certain things instead of ignoring them (and vice versa for other things).

In March, Annie came home and we resumed road-riding as the snow prevented us from doing much else.

We hauled out to ride with Show Buddy, who talked me into jumping Annie a bit higher than I normally do. I peed my pants, but did the thing.

We also conquered one of our first oxers!

In April, we did more road hacking and also took another Trainer K lesson.
It took a while for Annie's hamsters to get back into her brain, but once they did she was super.
We worked a lot on relaxation, esp at the canter so she wouldn't get frantic and balled up.
April continued with a two day Anthony Lothian jump clinic.
Annie was... a hot mess outside of the ring and made me
pretty frustrated with her theatrics. 

Regardless, we conquered the jumping thing and she was pretty decent in the ring.

Our first show of the season was in May - the Dressage left much to be desired,
but at least I had a compliant and listening horse. Annie had a cough tho, and
most of our 20m circles were coughing fits.

She was happy in the Hunter ring, and we even pulled some satin!

May also saw another Anthony clinic where I had one of my very best rides on the mare.

We worked hard in between the clinics I took this year and it showed.

Of course, we took the time to trail ride and pony Spud as much
as we could.

In June, we mostly schooled in the open meadow (Left side) due to the arena being
re-worked (see excavator). We also trail rode with a lot of friends during this time.

By the end of June, the arena was back together and we tackled some
bridleless riding... because why not.

July brought about longer trail rides now that the rivers had receded and we could
cross to the additional 4x4 trails.
We took part in a two day Sven Smienk Dressage clinic, which really kicked my butt
about the whole forward thing. And I left there feeling pretty confident despite
our issues.

It was the lesson I didn't want, but needed to have and it made me
better prepared to deal with the forward issue on my own.

We rode bareback in a halter on the hot days in July.

And we had another two day Anthony Lothian clinic where we jumped
a "big" vertical, haha.

In July, we took part in a "Ride a Test/ Fix a Test" clinic with Cat Armitage. We were at the very worst of our forwards issues, which is highly evident in the above video (I am actually super embarrassed to show it...). Cat gave me a lot of good advice, and along with the help from the two other clinics we took part of in July, I had enough tools in my toolbox. I just needed to be consistent, fair, and get my point across. The second half of the test is not nearly as bad, and I can glean moments where things are coming together really well, which was promising at the time.

We trail rode some more, during the cool evenings, and worked on
Annie's displeasure with being the "following" horse. Mare preferred
to be the leader, thank you very much.

Towards the end of August, a few friends pushed me to take part in an online Dressage show.
I'm glad I did - it felt like redemption in a way. It's not perfect, but I can see gleans of a happy and
WORKING partnership.

With that being said, the burn-out from so many clinics and shows and
hauling and schooling started to weigh on me a bit. I decided to step back
from any rigorous schooling and just enjoy the horse!
That's not to say that we completely abandoned schooling - because we didn't.
In September worked hard on keeping Annie's haunches straight and creating a quiet and
cadenced canter. 

We also went for a lot of trail rides with friends, as incoming rain threatened
our ability to cross rivers!

In October I rode with one of my BFFs and she gave me some really good pointers about Annie.
It was nice to hear that I wasn't doing a completely terrible job, haha!
We mixed it up, and played around with some natural obstacles, haha.

And rounded off the year with our last clinic with Anthony.

But we mostly spent the month not taking ourselves too seriously.
November came and I rode as much as I could, until the weather got too miserable for
the both of us.
Never fear tho, because I am still torturing poor Annie, even as the snow prevented us
from road riding.

When the roads were cleared tho, we headed out there as fast as we could!

Whew. Here is to our second year, and starting our 3rd with perspective, humility, and a partnership I hope will last a lifetime.

Cheers to you, Bannie!


  1. You've come a long way baby! Happy Annie-versary! Doesn't seem like two years have passed it goes so fast. You've both done a lot and she's a great gal. From here you know it only gets better and better. Have fun!
    p.s. I can't believe she didn't move when you threw that umbrella, I would have ;)

    1. Thank you so much!
      Excited for this year!!

      Aha, yes, she puts up with my weird requests pretty well.

  2. You should be so proud of the work you’ve done. Happy Anniversary!

  3. Aw happy two years! You two have accomplished so much and come so far!!

    1. Thank you, Emma!
      Upwards and onwards to Year 3 :D

  4. Happy Annie - versary! Amazing how the time flies.

  5. Happy Annieversary! I love the partnership you two have.

  6. Great job you guys are such a team!! YAY looking forward to see what Annie does next ;) (And you too!)