Sunday, December 29, 2013

Fixing the little things

A lot of people say "don't sweat the little things"...

Unfortunately with riding, I always sometimes to do just that. When I know I'm doing something wrong, but I'm not entirely sure what, I expect my trainer to be aware of it as well. Not only that, but I want to know how to fix it, immediately. I get very frustrated that I can't figure it out and it can ruin a ride for me.

This week we had the most awesome a friend of a friend at the barn come visit for two weeks. She rides Prelim on a regular basis and is bringing her newest young TB up through the levels. She let me hop on him and I realized just what "contact" can mean (my arms now hurt!). She also rode Bonkers Ashe for a bit.

She immediately apologized if she ended up hurting my feelings and I said for her to "lay it on". I wanted that strict, demeaning, straightforward "You are doing this wrong, now here's how we fix it" that I haven't had in a while.

It's great to hear "You look great!" but I also relish in the challenge of getting things perfect right.

What we worked on may be little, but they made a huge difference. Like how I hold my hands (and in conjunction my body) for turns/leg yields which was confusing Ashe and having him pop his shoulder and drift through turns. Or how to better come through my turns into a jump so he's ready as well...

And to stop my horrible habit of just automatically clucking at everything he does. He honestly doesn't need the encouragement but 12 years of lesson ponies will do that to you.

Those little things made such a difference, and I was really grateful for her willing to work with us for a short time. I have some new exercises to work with him on turns, bending and halts, as well as some work for myself (I am unbalanced, tip forward when I get unsure of myself, and "lead" or push my outside hand forward through turns as well).

It felt good knowing what was going on and how to fix it. That isn't to say I don't love my trainer, I do! But sometimes you really need someone who will say "Want to work on the small stuff? Okay, here it is."
Ashe says hello after a "spa" mud bath day!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ashe's Backstory

His first name was apparently "Bonkers".... Which honestly fits him rather well. He is an 11yo Arab/Appaloosa cross.

At our last Fun Show

His prior owner (and our farrier), bought him as a trail horse for her now ex. When they broke it off, he turned into a lesson pony for their program but soon he was forgotten as new projects came in.

My trainer at the time (who is friends with said prior owner), knew I really wanted a horse, but didn't have the money to buy one "ready made" for an intermediate rider starting into eventing after 11 years of hunter/jumper.

He came with a price tag of $750. I was told he was a perfect gentleman, beginner friendly, he only started cantering last year, but has been all around to shows and on XC with a beginner, and when I went to see him he seemed everything I had wanted. He was skinny, but not unhealthy and had been in the pasture for 6 months. He was perfect loading into the trailer and I was ecstatic the day we arrived at my friend's barn.

Barn #1: Group turnout 24/7 with two feeding times. Lead mare hated him, and they kept fighting for leadership. He was a bit food defensive and so ended up needing to be fed in his stall. After a month the BO said she can't handle him not getting along with the others and we would need to find another place or board would increase.

Turns out he is terrified of clippers, and the hose. Also flinches with anything near the top of his head. However his ground manners are impeccable.

Barn #2: Another friend took us in while I searched for other places. She was a great help, he started putting on good weight but issues started showing up. He refused to be tied if something scared him and would fly into a panic (Broke 2 halters) so we swapped to just ground tying. Starts to gain weight and muscle and is looking good.

He is an angel under saddle, not spooky will go anywhere around the farm and even ride into the herd of calves they use for roping. Unfortunately he also figured out how to tell if the electric was off and would chase their pony.

Turns out he is terrified of his farrier (past owner) if his feet aren't messed with on a daily basis, actively avoids any sort of wormer by throwing you with his head, and terrified of any crops/whips. Also seems to dislike/does not trust anything that isn't part of his "routine"

Barn #3: Our current place and I can't be happier. He gets individualized turnout, the people there love him and his "quirks", and honestly he seems very happy. He's at a great weight, glossy coat and his mane/tail are growing back in and are gaining in quality as well.

He is terrified of a lot of things, but it seems to be a confidence issue. We are with a new trainer and he and I are making leaps and bounds in trust though he is still lacking in a lot of confidence. He now hides behind me if he is scared (though I wish he would be braver), but is extremely athletic and gives me 110%.

We're at 6 months of ownership now. He still doesn't tie, but his ground tying is excellent and we've been to a fun show and a paper chase. Both he was amazing at. Clippers and hoses are going to be tackled next summer, his prior owner says he looks amazing and wonders how I can keep his weight so well (he gets a mini scoop of feed ration with some flaxseed oils and grass/hay 24/7).

About me? I've been riding 12 years, all lesson horses and this is my first. He was supposed to be an easy keeper "project" that has turned into a massive undertaking. However I wouldn't sell him for the world.

And so our story begins...

"You have always loved horses as soon as you knew what they were"... that phrase has been announced so many times at family gatherings I think I have every version of it memorized.

And as far as I know, it's true!

Unfortunately, despite all the pony books, dolls, trail rides for good grades, etc... no one thought to get me riding lessons. It wasn't until summer of my 9th grade year that I heard about an opportunity to work weekends for riding lessons.

I jumped onto that opportunity faster than a cat onto a mouse, and I haven't looked back.

Two degrees, and 11 years of mucking, sweeping, feeding, washing, cleaning, getting kicked, bitten, run over and generally abused by my beloved four-hooved equids for my riding lessons... I have achieved my dream.... I no longer have to work for lessons My first horse!

This is Ashe. His show name (when we are finally ready) will be "Pain In My Ashe"...

This blog is about us finding serenity.... Under the Shavings...