Friday, April 5, 2019

It Feels Like Summer

The day following the unfortunate loose horse scenario, I decided to hack the horses up to the fairgrounds arena to school Annie. It's quite a long walk (~20 min each way), so any schooling has to be pre-planned and well thought out. Because I self-board and as such, perform a variety of day to day shores, I have to structure which days I go out and ride in the arena.

I was lucky enough on Friday to have a half day, so took the opportunity to take the horses to the ring.

The view out of my tack room - Annie would have
preferred to just hang out and eat, thank you.
The ride there was uneventful, although when we rounded the last corner of trail to the grounds, I spied some movement and could hear voices. As we got closer, I recognized the people and horses (who were loose in the ring). A non-horsey family from the subdivision had added two horses to their ever-growing hobby farm for their daughter about a year ago - they hadn't done much with the mares when they first got them, but have since thrown their daughter into all kinds of Trainer K camps and lessons, which has paid back tenfold.

It's been kind of cool because in the last few years, horses have slowly become more prominent in the area once again. When I had first bought Annie, there were only a handful of riders who rode out more than once a month. I was the only rider from that area who did shows, or hauled for regular lessons/clinics. And kind of an interesting tidbit; the grand total of horses in the area lurked somewhere around 13 (but out of the 13 horses, only 8 were sound and serviceable riding horses). Now, the tally for riding horses is somewhere around 14, which is pretty cool! Lots of young riders who are learning about horses and the magic of riding!

Anyways, the family is really nice and welcoming. I had to hop off Annie because she got a lil bug-eyed at the two mares when they galloped up to the fence. As I approached, Annie decided to have Stallion Syndrome and arch her neck, snort, and tried desperately to visit. She got a smack to the shoulder and reminded to stand quiet while I talked to the family. I did eventually let them say hi, as the girl's mom wanted to let them meet (lol), and of course it ended with both mares screaming at eachother anyways. The poor girls mom was mortified, haha, but I explained its just what horses do. Their young daughter didn't seem phased and kind of rolled her eyes at her mom, which made me laugh a little bit.

Still some slush and snow in the parts of the trails that don't get much
sun. Apologies for the blurry photo haha.
The Mom and Dad had hauled their daughter and a friend over to ride the horses over some jumps and through a trail gate obstacle, which looked pretty fun. I also realized how ingenious it is to just haul to the grounds vs hacking there. Since they live in the subdivision, it's a no-brainer, but for someone like me (who cannot leave the trailer at the barn), it ends up being close to the same amount of time and even more effort. Although, I did keep this tidbit tucked away and played around with ways to speak to the BO about parking my trailer at the barn for a month or two to haul back and forth to the arena when I'm low on time. What do you guys think? Would it be worth it to haul? Or talk to the BO about leaving my trailer there so I can haul over to school a few times during the month?

Anyways, I'm off track again. After chatting with the girls mom a bit more, I asked if they would mind me riding. They said no, so once they tied up their horses I tied Spud to the rail and wandered in.

Annie was still wide-eyed and huffing, so I joked it was a good thing the girls were there that afternoon, because it's always good to have someone to call 9-1-1. We laughed, I cried on the inside, and clambered aboard.

No photos of the actual ride, so enjoy some pictures of us
hacking home.
Although she felt fresh, she didn't feel unsafe at all. I moved over to the end of the arena, away from the other horses and over to where the sand wasn't as deep and water-logged. It was a really decent ride once Annie quit fussing in the bridle and quietly went to work. Unlike our previous school, she had no #feelings about the canter and no #feelings about turning left, which was a welcome change.

We did a ton of trot-canter transitions and poked at a few walk-canters but nothing crazy. She was really well behaved and we did a few trot and canter leg yields as well, mixing in some simple changes and those well loved 20m circles. I was pretty proud of her - to go from wide-eyed and flighty to settle right into work.

The canters felt great, and aside from one missed lead (which was across a diagonal), she had no issues whatsoever.

She didn't feel as "meh" as she did the day prior, so I was glad that she felt more normal. We finished off with some 2pt cantering and sitting trot and called it a day. But not before trying out that super cool trail gate the one girl's dad had fashioned with two jump standards and some rope!

Tired pones heading home.
I had never thought something like that would weird Annie out, because I can open and close gates from her back. However, this little yellow rope was SUPER offensive and it took several hundred thousand attempts, three dismounts (and subsequent ground work sessions), and one very long walk and trot dragging the rope for her to understand it would not eat her. Which makes it to sound like I beat her, which was far from the case, haha. We did a lot of tossing the rope in the air, dragging it beside us, hand-walking through the motions, etc.

It was an eye-opener in a way though, because altho I don't intend to compete western on this mare, it's good to practice! I was glad for the opportunity, and thanked the girls for letting me use their fake gate and school my mare through it for a good 15 minutes. I also mentioned that if they wanted to set up jump courses or trail courses in the future to let me know, as I would love to help and take Annie through the motions!

We headed back home and I was able to give Annie a well-deserved bath. There is something so satisfying in watching months of dirt and grime be uprooted and spiral with the water down her legs and into the ground below. After that, I turned both the ponies out, dumped Annie's mash into her hanging bucket and headed home feeling pretty accomplished.

One of the many unflattering photos I took. Sorry, Annie.
It feels nice to be ahead of the curve for once - the Winter's worth of manure and hay has already been scraped up into several piles (just waiting for the ground to be less saturated before we get the tractor back there!), the tack room is clean, the electric fence has been retightened and the broken insulators (from fallen tree branches) have been replaced, and who can forget that the riding ring is... rideable?! I'm usually well into May before I'm caught up with all the post-Winter chores. Hooray for feeling like summer!


  1. The forecast is promising for us too. I really hope that it turns out to be true! It sounds lovely to be able to hack to a schooling ring.

    1. It really is, but it also forces a bit of a time crunch sometimes!

  2. I saw your Instagram post - so jealous you got to ride in a tank top!

  3. Your description of bathing and watching all that dirt go away makes my heart go pitter patter. I'm just waiting for a warm day in our future when I can get out and bathe all 3 of mine.

  4. Yeah I think it would be worth asking, the worst she could do is say no. Also it gives Annie more hauling practice :)

  5. Yay! Sounds like spring is starting off wonderfully for you guys!