Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Down to Business

Soaking in the sunshine. Spud is hiding beneath one of the many
low hanging boughs.
The next two rides I put on Annie suffered much less Spring-induced craziness and above all else, I was able to ride in the outdoor arena for the very first time this past Saturday! Looking back at my old posts, ring riding wasn't really feasible until the end of April, so we are well ahead of schedule and boy was I happy to be able to ride somewhere other than the subdivisions roadway!

On Thursday, my scheduled class was a very short lecture, so I opted to head out and ride Annie right afterwards. I had wanted to take her out alone, considering the last two rides were a bit, erm, spicy. Nothing terrible, but 10x harder to minimize antics and 10x more awkward due to dragging along a certain non-conforming potato.

Annie was much more level-headed and we were able to play around with some trotting where the soft shoulder allowed. I did have to give her a few very firm half-halts so she'd stop flailing her legs around and find a rhythm, and once she settled into a pace and let her topline relax a bit, it was really lovely. We played with some leg yielding and baby shoulder-ins and she was really receptive to both, and we even had one of our best leg yields in a very long time.

She always looks like she has suffered an immense amount
of abuse post-ride. Thanks for looking so happy, Annie.
Because my one eye was bothering me (it felt like there was something in it for most of the day), I decided to cut the ride short and loop back down one of the streets to double back the way I had come.
When we came to the dirt road, I asked for a walk-canter, and she picked up the wrong lead. Brought her down and asked again, wherein Annie expressed some #feelings, but picked up the right lead like the good little mare she is. We bounded down the road and I let her kinda pick her way, as there are quite a few potholes so we jumped a few and then flailed over a few others. She felt kinda rigid in her body tho - kinda like cantering along on a tank vs an athletic appendix, haha. She came to a brisk walk when requested and we carried on home.

One of the last final stretches, I decided to push my luck a bit and ask for her left lead on the shoulder. She acquiesced and I spent some time asking her to round over her back and find some rhythm. It took a business-like half halt "Hello?! I am up here still!" and then we had a very lovely canter. She earned extra carrots for that!

Annie: "Just gonna ignore you, thanks."
I put her up for the night and decided to torture myself further by doing more Spring cleaning poo picking. I didn't realize what time it was until I noticed the sun had gone down and the pasture was getting dark. When I checked my watch it was 8:30pm, oops!

On Saturday, N was home again so we met up mid-morning to go riding to the ring since we had both spied it was free of snow. I brought Spud again, feeling like this ride would have less theatrics from both ponies (Spoiler: I was right!).

On our way to the grounds, we ran into another rider and her mare. We stopped to chat a bit and Annie was offended because we had places to go and people to see. Aside from rudely ripping her reins from me on several occasions, she stood mostly still and cast forlorn glances down the road. Oh, poor suffering soul that she is.

The ride to the ring was mostly uneventful, although I had heart palpitations and flash backs to last January when I broke my nose. Some sections of the trail were still quite icy, and a few puddles that had formed were quite deceptive in that the ground beneath the water surface was still a sheet of ice. We skirted around most of it, and no one died, thank god. Where the sun shone through the trees, the ground was very soft. The horses churned up a good deal of mud and muck, and Annie staggered once or twice when her hoof was sucked up by an innocent looking section of trail. We made it through tho, and as the days continue to warm up and things thaw, the trail will firm up and be just fine to ride regularly.

No ring-media. But here is our cool out ride home!
Bloodhound.... or Appendix??

The ring had one small patch of snow left, but otherwise was clear. What a sight to behold!

Unfortunately tho, due to all the melting snow, the ring was still retaining a lot of water. We had to stick to the North end of the ring where the footing was much more favorable (the South end has a shadow created by the show office and the sun does not hit that spot just yet). N and her horse stayed down at the South end with Spud, as I had tied him there to wait.

Annie was pretty good for her "first" ride back - it took a few minutes to get her engaged and thinking. We didn't really do anything fancy - just a quick walk, trot, canter with some circling. Some rising and sitting trot.... playing around with some stretching. Above all else tho, I didn't really focus on anything other than finding our tempo and relaxation in the ring. Our transitions were straight up bad but I just kept moving along, encouraging her to bend and move off of my seat and leg. We haven't schooled regularly since October, and much like our ride earlier this month, I wanted to keep it simple and easy. Mare isn't fit and neither am I - it wouldn't be fair to expect the level of work we had accomplished in October to suddenly be possible a few rides into the season.

I knew that the few things I was asking would be enough tho, as I quickly found we had minimal steering and any left hand turns I requested were met with quite a bit of resistance. We nearly collided with the fence twice simply because Annie wanted to join her friends at the other end of the arena.

Yah, not gonna happen mare.

We did have some really beautiful moments tho - she settled into herself and started to let me manipulate the circles, adjust her striding, and tolerated my bouncing during the instances of sitting trot. I gave her plenty of stretch breaks, encouraging her to eat the ground beneath her while really letting her neck out and down.

We take our training srsly.
(Spy Spud at the bottom right corner).
Things at the trot felt good, almost pre-winter hiatus good! So, we moved into the canter, and Annie happily showed me her flying changes every time our circle started edging closer to where the other horses were. While I was happy at the athletic capabilities we certainly did not have a year ago, I kindly asked her to remain on the right lead.

She responded by flailing herself into an angry fit of cross-firing when I refused to let her have her shoulder to switch her front over. I just kept riding it, giving her a little jab with my outside leg and a slight raise of the inside rein. She grumbled and then relented.

And suddenly we had a beautiful canter with steering.

Imagine that.

After a few good laps of canter, I brought her down, gave her all the good pony pats. Before quitting completely tho, we revisited some sitting trot and she felt fantastic. I kept reminding myself to keep her even in both reins like Anthony had drilled into my skull for all of 2018, and it felt really, really NICE. I cursed myself I didn't get N to take a video - comparisons are always fun.

After a few 20m circles, we quit on that note and began the trek home. Annie was pretty sweaty and tired, and in that moment I was happy we had a 20min walk ahead of us home. As much as it is a pain how far away the ring is, it allows for a lot of warm up and cool out time, which is so beneficial.

Overall, I was really pleased with our first school in the outdoor. The little objection she showed was quite minimal and easily corrected, so I am looking forward to our next school to build upon that foundation we had laid over the last two years. Of course, fitness comes first and we will slowly build our way back up again! Riding season has officially begun!

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Dragon Tamer

Last week, between work and school, my time was very limited to begin with.... but when N texted me she was in town for work and wanted to ride Tuesday evening, I had a hard time saying no!

I managed to get a run and shower in before heading out to the barn and decided after brief deliberation to bring Spud along for the ride. Annie had that "look" in her eye which suggested she may or may not be a bit hot under the collar, but I persisted with my original plan, insisting to myself that the Doctor's Vet's orders for Spud were to exercise him more regularly. So, I decided to do just that, hot horse be damned.

Pre-ride, not making eye contact of any form and looking longingly down the driveway.
By the time I tacked up and swung a leg over, I knew it was going to be an interesting ride. Annie was very excited to be out, and attempted to drag me down the driveway, rooting at the reins with her ears pricked and legs dancing like jello beneath me. I immediately went back to the old technique I used last year of circling her over and over again, allowing her to just battle against herself until she decided to stand quiet. 

Which, in theory, it's a relatively easy and remarkably effective tool. Except of course when you have a begrudgingly fat pony who doesn't see the point in circling over and over again and decides to park himself in the most inconvenient of places. Which, I guess I should be happy that he caught on early enough to my scheme and realized walking in circles wasn't fun? Except Annie hadn't gotten to that point yet, so we kinda two-stepped around Spud several times, trying carefully to not get his leadrope mixed up, as he had decided pivoting in place was also beyond his capabilities. 

I gave up after a few minutes and decided the beast I had was the beast I would ride. 

Annie stared hard at some snow pack on the shoulder of the road and gave an unvoluntary shudder. I clucked her up, "It's just snow!" And at that moment, a fist sized amount simply broke apart and rolled towards the asphalt. 


Way to make me a liar, mother nature.

Thankfully it didn't take long to get Annie's eggs back into their basket. By the time we had reached the dirt road, she had reminded herself she was a strong independent trail pony. Which was great, until we met up with N and her sister. 

So, four ponies in total strutted down the road together. Kind of.

Not really.

Because Spud decided he was going to walk right into Annie and push her over into AJ. And Annie, bless her friggen heart, LISTENED TO HIM, and then got pissy when she was right sandwiched between the two geldings. I tried several times to push him over with my foot, redirect with his leadrope, etc. Nope, he was not having it. 

I swear, this pony is so frustrating to pony sometimes - he just struts right into Annie's bubble and she quietly will move away when he asks.

I ended up moving Annie to the outside and having Spud near AJ, which sorta seemed to help, but not really. 

N's sister's horse was falling behind and we ended up taking him back home - he's 26 so understandably he was less fit but also less excited about being out, haha. The three remaining horses had to stand quiet (shocker I know), and in that time amped themselves up while I waited for N to help her sister put her horse away. 

We headed out again, and all three were right assholes. 

Spud, to Annie: "She called us assholes. Did you hear that?"
Annie: "Welllll...."
It took about 5 minutes for Annie and Spud to get their shit together, but poor N had a passagey horse who was pissed he didn't get to go home with his buddy. I felt kind of bad toodling on a buckle rein while AJ worked himself up over nothing. Spring time... I swear.

We ended up parting ways a little earlier than usual, as N wanted to give AJ a nice trot stretch on the way home and the unscheduled stops had made my time at the barn quite a bit later than I had intended. 

All that considered tho, I was pretty pleased Annie and Spud both settled and we were able to finish out the ride on a high note. But I was also hoping my next ride would have much less unruly enthusiasm.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Weekend of Horse-adventures: Sunday

The weekend of horsey maintenance didn't stop there! On Sunday morning we had a "new to us" farrier work on Annie and Spud's feet. Our usual farrier is beginning to phase out some clients, as he is looking to retire (and rightfully so!), so I made the executive decision to start looking elsewhere before we were scrambling for someone we trusted to fill that spot.

It certainly was the weekend of meeting new equine professionals, haha.

Before the farrier arrived though, I was elbow deep in spring cleaning: sweeping the barn aisle, unloading bags of new feed into bins, emptying and scrubbing the water trough, tidying up the tack room, scraping and picking poo from the winter season (it still needs to thaw more, as most of it was still quite frozen). The fresh mountain air and shining sun made the chores I had been putting off for a while that much more enjoyable and I didn't mind bustling around the barn for a good majority of my day (I quite literally was at the barn from 11 am - 4:30 pm. Oops, ahah).

That's an understatement.
In terms of the visit, Annie did alright - she wasn't on her best behavior, but wasn't on her worst either... so I guess it's a small win? I spoke to the farrier about her issues beforehand, so we tried to make things as easy as possible for everyone involved. It's a bit frustrating tho, when the horse just nopes out of the whole situation.

While she isn't particularly bad, she will pull her feet away and then dance away, acting afraid and unwilling to let the farrier get near her again. And she only starts once the nails start to get tacked in. Otherwise, she's happy as a clam to stand quiet. She is pretty good at working herself up too, especially when dealing with her front left. We got it all done though, and the farrier was super with her - giving her pets when it was appropriate, and giving her a stern "no" when she needed it.

It's odd though, because as soon as he moved on to her back feet, she stood quiet and stopped playing the "I'm afraid of you" game.

As always though, we'll keep plugging away at it. I had mentioned to the farrier that I had invested in my own set of nippers, rasp, and hammer to "work" on Annie myself to mock the motions she goes through when the real farrier is there. It went pretty well for the most part, but then when the real deal shows up, things aren't as easy as they are when I'm the one doing it. I guess there is a difference between "pretend" and the real thing.

Sorry, I have literally no media... so enjoy the memes haha
Regardless, the farrier didn't fire us, and assured me it could have been a lot worse, haha. Part of me is certain some of it had to do with Annie having a case of the Spring Sillies, because our whole region suddenly went into Spring-mode seemingly overnight (and my god mare was FRESH when we went for a ride afterwards, haha).

Spud was his usual good self. I spoke to the farrier at length about the vets concerns and the farrier gave me some really good news - there isn't any indication of any monumental hoof changes that he can see, and as far as he is concerned, the hoof itself is quite healthy. It made me feel a bit better, that's for sure!!

After the appointment, I saddled up Annie and headed out for a ride, deciding to also pony Spud along to get some much needed exercise. Annie was HOT, haha. She had her game face on as soon as we left the barn, and any attempt I made to sit my butt in the saddle was met with a jerk of her head and some passage-y steps. Thankfully, it took less than five minutes and a little trot set to convince her she was a trail pony again.

Spud however, was very happy to be out, and during the trot set, decided he was going to buck and try to bolt. Thank you for ripping my arm from it's socket, sir!

We ended up stumbling across V and Geronimo, who were just headed out for a ride, so we tagged along. There must've been something in the air, because Geronimo quite literally passaged for the next 15 minutes with his neck arched and his nostrils fluttering. Oh, and then Spud spooked him a few times so we had to walk on opposite sides of the road for a while.

It was a bit chaotic, haha. I was pretty impressed with Annie tho, who plodded along quietly (although a bit fast) on a loose rein. Good girl!

V was meeting up with a young rider and her mare, who absolutely lost it when she saw Spud (I don't think I've ever seen a horse trot backwards before). So I decided it would be best for me and my two to keep going - I felt pretty bad for this poor girl who was trying to get her horse to leave their property. It took a few minutes of pony-club kicking Annie in the gut, who decided "I'd like to stay, thank you". And once I did get her going, Spud would take advantage of the slack in the lead and trot right IN FRONT of Annie because he was completely FASCINATED with this poor girl's horse.

Did I also mention we had three dogs running around us, a person in a van trying to get by, and the girl's brother and mom walking with her?

It was chaos. Haha.

But a good chaos. The kind of chaos that is great for desensitization, haha!

Note the comment included with the ride, haha.
I finally managed to get Annie going, keep Spud at my side, and look like I knew what I was doing. Annie tried to stop and refuse to move as we rounded the corner and left the two other horses behind, so I gave her a little boot and she responded by snatching the reins out of my hand and squealing in protest. Haha.

Oh Spring is here.

Monday, March 18, 2019

A Weekend of Horse-adventures: Saturday

Despite the blog title, I have been able to ride Annie a handful of times this month. We had brief "second winter" a week and a half ago, which made it too slippery to ride out on the roadways. And then we had varying degrees of rain.... so. much. rain.

So, land-locked we remained.

It's pretty typical though, so I'm just trying to go through the motions until we can start actually riding with more frequency and purpose. Life has remained insanely busy though, so the missed saddle time is not necessarily "noticed" just yet. As daylight hours increase, I am starting to shuffle things around to re-welcome regular riding into my life once again.

I was able to ride this past Wednesday, as work got out early and my online class wasn't scheduled until later on in the evening. The ride itself was really great - Annie was cool, calm, and responsive. We did a shorter loop - roughly 3.5k and did a fair amount of trot sets. I was really pleased with how quiet she was, save for one very unfortunate situation which was more or less a series of unlucky circumstances, haha.

We were just coming down the road, alongside a large property that had a few geese wandering around inside their fenced yard. One goose was happily sitting in a children's pool and as we passed it, someone from the other side of the street let off an air horn. The goose flapped its way out of the pool and scared the ever-living daylights out of Annie, who shied hard into the middle of the road... just as a truck was attempting to pass us.

No one was injured and we thankfully didn't come super close to the truck, but it startled Annie, who wasn't quite sure what direction she should spook in next, haha. The driver of the vehicle was going quite slow, so wouldn't have had a hugely negative impact on us but it's still a good reminder as any that horses are unpredictable. It was surprising in a way tho, because Annie has never spooked that hard before.

Of course we had broke out the highlighter quarter sheet
for the very occasion.
After that ride, it rained and rained and rained some more.

I got a call Friday night from a lady who was organizing a "vet day" in our area - someone had cancelled their appointment for tomorrow afternoon and I was next on the wait list. She had called to ask if I would like to take this person's spot. I replied with a resounding, "Yes!"

Unfortunately for me, Saturday was already pretty busy, but I didn't want to risk the chance of missing out on having my horses see the vet (as readers will know vet presence is non-existant here). I had already scheduled myself in to pick up a round bale for the horses as well as attend puppy class with Cedar - both of which were in the next town. The Vet would be at Barn C, which is also in the next town, but with the scattered timings of things, it would be an awkward day attempting to haul the horses out at 9am, only to wait until 4pm for our appointment. So I decided the best course of action would be to drive out twice - unfortunate for my truck and patience, but provided better structure since I wouldn't need to sit at Barn C for several hours waiting.

Post-puppy class haha.
Puppy class went well - Cedar is a bit defensive with other dogs, especially bigger dogs, so we signed him up to get him more socialized and comfortable with bigger animals with the guidance of a professional. He slept pretty hard on the way home - poor guy was pretty mentally exhausted by the time we left, haha.

The drive home was frustrating - I had put a tarp over the roundbale, as it was raining, and the darn thing kept coming undone and at one point, ripped apart and attempted to blow down the highway. I think on the fourth attempt of trying to strap it down, I gave up and threw the tattered mess into the truck, haha. By that time my jacket had been soaked through and I was covered in hay and mud - not a very pleasant time!

Once the bale was unloaded from the back of the truck, I zipped off to a friends house to let her dog out and then went home where I changed into warmer clothes, shoveled food into my mouth, and sat under 45 blankets trying to warm up for the 2 hours I had before I had to go get the horses.

By the time I got to Barn C, I was 30min ahead of time and unfortunately, the horse ahead of me needed some extra work so we didn't start until a bit later. Which, was fine - I understand these things happen. It was my first time meeting this particular vet - she moved from Alberta over to BC and is currently scouting out potential places to situate her practice (we are reallly hoping she chooses us!). And as part of that, she is offering a few scheduled visits to get a feel for the area and the needs of clients here.

Unflattering photos of the ponies who stood quietly in the barn aisle
while they waited their turn!
She did Annie first, and I immediately liked how she handled my horse and spoke to me. We talked over Annie's history, and one of the first things the Vet said was that based off of Annie's structure and limbs, she appears to be verrrry slow growing. She said that Annie will probably grow more within the next two years and to be considerate of how hard I push her - that there will be some things that her body just cannot do and I should be respectful of that (not avoid difficult things, but to be fair and kind). We talked about the cross firing issue we had last year, and how I was so sure it's kissing spine and my mare is gonna be retired this year, and the Vet kind of laughed and shook her head and said that if Annie looks this awkward right now, she can only imagine how awkward and gangly she looked last year. She said trying to get body parts to work together is hard, and Annie strikes her as the kind of horse that, for whatever reason, is slower maturing than the rest.

Which is interesting to me, because I have now had a sports chiro, clinician, and vet tell me that age is just a number and in Annie's case, she is firmly on the "younger" side of that spectrum.

Annie's teeth were great, save for one minor sharp point and she was in and out in less than ten minutes. Hooray!

When it came to be Spud's turn, we had a bit of a interesting scenario. The vet had been set up in the corner of the indoor arena to perform exams, and Trainer K was busy doing lessons on the other side. When I brought Spud in, the one lesson horse completely lost his shit (despite the fact he literally LIVES WITH MINIS), so in everyone's best interest (and safety of the rider), we opted to wait until the lesson was over.

We went and did paperwork in the lounge and talked a bit more about Annie before returning back outside where the lesson was still going on. So, we just decided to examine Spud in the stall we shoved him in. I had to laugh, because as we passed Annie, she was still clearly very drunk and had this dazed look about her that suggested she was not quite focused on her surroundings. She gave a half-hearted headbob as I passed and scratched her forehead.

It was a downright miserable day outside!

There was some disappointing news about Spud, unfortunately. Thankfully at this time though it's something that can still be corrected without life-long impact. Although, I am just hoping that we have time to correct the problem.

Basically, the vet is quite concerned about his weight (not really a surprise given the fact he's a mini). We have implemented a regime to help him shed some pounds and get him a bit healthier. She sympathized with me that minis are so hard to regulate, and that I have horses on both end of the spectrum - Annie who is a very hard keeper, and Spud who could eat air and get fat.

I beat myself up a bit about Spud, feeling particularly bad and at fault for not correcting the issue sooner. I used to be so diligent in utilizing the grazing muzzle as well as scheduled exercise, but kind of fell off the wagon with the structure that was keeping him in such good shape.

But, no time to tuck tail and lick wounds. I set to work on the solution and have already started implementing it.

I didn't arrive home until well after 7pm, and after walking the dogs I was more than happy to crawl into bed!

Thursday, March 7, 2019


It's been well over four months since I last rode the horse faster than a sedated walk - the impending Winter season kinda put a halt to any kind of rigorous riding or schooling, as it does every year. With the exceptionally uncharacteristically cool temperatures, I have been diligently hand-walking the horse-beasts in lieu of actually riding, lest I freeze and be unable to dismount.

It's been alright though. I've been neck-deep in several other activities and it's only going to get busier. I'm thankful this weekend is bringing an extra hour of sunlight, because I can't seem to get everything done in the waning daylight hours.

Another day, another handwalk.
I've been itching to get back in the saddle tho, and made a tentative plan with H (she has the Andalusian mare) to get out for a ride in the indoor at the TSC grounds. The first weekend we had planned for didn't work well, as my Mom was still here visiting and I didn't want to just ditch her for pony time, as well as Annie had a chiropractic and massage appointment on the Saturday and I like my horses to "marinate" for a day or two post-adjustment.

We rescheduled to the first weekend of March though, hoping for better weather (namely temperature). It seemed promising, but as the weekend grew closer, we realized it was going to be pretty cool regardless of how many warm-weather prayers we said, haha. So, we both kinda just kicked ourselves in the proverbial breeches and dressed in copious layers.

First things first - the adjustment the week prior went really well and Annie seemed to enjoy the massage session (which is not something I do often). She had a few adjustments - namely her poll, neck, knee, and one hip. However, they were pretty minor adjustments and the chiropractor was pretty happy overall with her. This particular body-worker hasn't seen Annie since I first got her, as I had started hauling and using a sports-therapy chiro instead, as I found her to be more thorough. However, with it being the start of the season and with Annie not doing much, I figured it wouldn't hurt to get an appointment with J and have her take a look before the real work really begins. When Spring comes, our usual chiro will take over, as we have done in the past.

I had hand-walked Annie later in the week with the dogs, as I am slowly integrating Cedar into life with horses. He did really well, aside from being quite scared of them (I don't blame him). I don't leave him unattended or without his leash on, and if I need to do some clean up in the back with the horses I leave him and Roxy in the tack room with the door closed. It has worked quite well and he's starting to be more comfortable around them. I don't imagine he will join me for any rides for a while though... I'm still not mentally ready for that given the circumstances. Still, I feel like it's my duty to get him prepped up to that point, as socialization and training around the horses is best done as soon as possible. Little steps at a time tho.'

Anyways - on Sunday morning the next week I hitched up the trailer and drove out to the barn. The Boyfriend and I had done all the pre-cursory inspections the day before and things looked great. I pulled both horses out and they both loaded up great - Annie went right on in with zero hesitation and I noticed she didn't snort as much as she usually does (last year, every time I brought the trailer out, she'd snort loudly at it before getting on, lol).

The drive was uneventful, save for a moment when a coyote darted across the highway in front of my rig. Thankfully, he wasn't very close so I didn't have to slam on the brakes. I did tap them tho, concerned he may change his mind mid-way across and dart back from where he had come (which isn't uncommon). He carried on his way and disappeared into the bushes on the other side of the road.

Just licking the pavement bc why not.
Arriving at the grounds, both horses unloaded with ease and I quickly bustled into the indoor arena where a woman was letting her two horses run around the ring to burn off steam. I wasn't sure how'd my two would do near the panels, but figured I'd safety-tie (with binder twine) and monitor for a few minutes to see how it would go. Both horses were great, and Annie went straight to munching her hay like a good pony - even when NH lady's horses came up to say hi.

While I waited for H to arrive, I brought all my tack in and positioned it on the saddle racks/stands and then asked the lady in the ring if I could turn my guys loose for a bit. The lady agreed and told me that she had planned on doing some Natural Horsemanship stuff with her one gelding, as she had set up various different obstacles in the ring. In turn, I let her know H was bringing a mare with a foal at side and that I didn't forsee a problem, but just so we all were aware of what eachother was doing.

I peeled off Annie's midweight and chucked them both in the ring to play - Annie went down to roll and looked around quietly while Spud... Spud decided he was leading the charge, haha. He egged Annie on and the two took off galloping and bucking and farting for a good 15-20 minutes. It must have felt nice to not have ice and snow beneath their limbs for once. Annie probably rolled 15 or so times before and after the ride - the sand must have felt nice on those itchy spots!

H had arrived as my two were frolicking around and I caught them a few minutes later, once we were certain they were good and done with running. H took her two into the ring at that time and let momma and baby gallivant around - much to Annie's dismay. I'm not sure if it was because it was a foal or because they had just finished running around like idiots, but Annie was snorting, spooky, and kept trying to press her chest into the panels to get closer to the foal. I stood by her and gave her a good whack once or twice - she settled once H's horses were less frantic in their running and playing.

Annie did good tho, despite her momentary melt-down and tied quietly and even snacked on hay while H's horses finished playing around. I was surprised because last year, had she gotten amped up she would have had a hard time getting her shit together again. She tacked up quietly and munched hay as I got things ready to go. I kinda looked at her like, "You just had a shit fit and now you're all good?" And she kinda looked at me, all accusatory-like, "What?!"

Led her to the mounting block, said one Hail Mary, and hopped aboard.

I needn't be worried though, because mare was on it! She gave the hairy-eyeball to the NH lady and her horse and threw in a few medium-sized spooks when NH lady's gelding crashed over the tarp bridge she had set up. She felt tense and unfocused, but not necessarily like riding a bomb about to go off.

We did some walking loops, changing the bend, asking her to focus more on me than the activities going on around us. She did pretty good, but as a bit more bug-eyed than usual. When we moved into the trot, she was a bit quicker with her steps but when I asked her to come back to me, she did willingly and we alternated between stretching down at the trot and asking for more connection.

I was really impressed with how she handled everything in the ring. It was BUSY. NH lady was waving her long stick, asking her kinda-explosive kinda-happy to be alive gelding to jump over barrels, jog around barrels, stomp over a tarp, etc. The gelding was a good boy, but he really threw on the brakes a few times that sent dirt flying and made the sound of the tarp quite amplified, haha. And then of course, the inclusion of a mare with a foal (who was NOT happy about being on a lead-line while her mom did 20m circles around them lol. Altho, wee Autumn calmed down and was pretty good after the first initial tantrums were had) was a whole 'nother box of crayons!

Now that's a busy ring.
NH lady doing NH things.
Momma Nav doing 20m laps around her wee filly, Autumn.
Aside from the bit of tension, she feels... steady this year. I mean, she def doesn't feel strong and can't hold herself together as well as she could at the end of last year, but she feels like we are picking up where we left off vs starting over... if that makes sense? I have a horse that might not be able to do the things I'm asking bc of lack of fitness, but I have a horse who understands what I'm asking and how to answer the question.

Like H said, "all the buttons are there - a little rusty, but there."

And that's kinda how I felt. Everything we worked on last year is THERE and accessible - it's just a bit rusty.

It was a really, really cool feeling.

And that feeling multiplied into nearly crying as we took a lap of canter.

It was heavenly. We have our leads, we have a nice, beautiful canter, and we have the ability to manipulate that canter. I could have cried!! Instead, I botched the transition and fell into a heap on her neck, giving her many pats and praise, haha.

We didn't do too much in the ride - namely just testing out the gaits and seeing what all was there. The ring was pretty cluttered with all the NH stuff and a rioting baby in the center, and the whole lack of fitness thing. All the gears are there tho, and I'm excited to get busy riding and start on our goals.