Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Henry Has Hops

My riding/lesson schedule has not been very consistent recently, between going out of town and keeping my house in showing-ready condition it has been a pretty exhausting month.  The rides I have been able to squeeze in have been great.

GTFO elbows/wrists, but nice form H :)

This next month should be much calmer and I have lots of fun adventures planned for Henry!  I’m also hoping to do two lessons on any weekends that ST is able to.

I was trying really hard to do a post after each of Henry’s lessons but I have now fallen behind!  I’m not even sure what number we are at exactly but I’m going to guess 10/11 were the last two.  Since that was a while ago now I have pretty short notes because of a short memory!   I had to share some cute photos and videos from Lesson 11 though. 

Adorable horse loaf

Lesson 10

We rode inside.  We jumped the biggest jump I have jumped since I was in my teens.  Which is maybe 2'3"/2'6" at the most but still.  Henry trotted up to it and sailed over no problem.  I really regret not asking ST to take a photo or video for me L

Lesson 11

My most recent lesson (which was like May 6th, kinda sad…).  Henry and I jumped our first little course outside.  He was an absolute champ and I had the most fun ever.   

Little video (where the top photo is a still frame from)

We jumped all of these!!! (and a few other crossrails too)

Our Lesson 12 was supposed to be out on the XC course last weekend but that had to be rescheduled as the course has not yet opened. 

Perhaps our plans for Lesson 12 provides a clue for one of my groundhog goals actually getting accomplished this year… ;)

Friday, 19 May 2017

Apollo's New Adventure

This last year has been a huge year of transition with Apollo & I.  Actually… I would even stretch that to the last two years.  Here are some things that have changed:

1)      My confidence improved
2)      We got a saddle that works for both us
3)      I began to expect more of him
4)      He began to test me (read: bolting at the mounting block and other sassiness)
5)      We took lessons with Coach D and recently two lessons with ST (after many years without lessons)
6)      I transitioned to a life of riding three horses (goodbye time and monies)
7)      Apollo doesn’t get as much attention as he used to when I he was my sole riding horse

For a while I have thought about Apollo adding “husband horse” into his job description.  We will still lesson and continue to improve together but I would really like to ride with husband/other horses friends sometimes.  I’ve put in a solid effort to trail ride him more often and to make him quieter (which mostly is just a consistent riding schedule).  But I kind of hit a wall.  There are two things that I can’t really seem to get past. 

Baggage and incompatibility.  Let me explain a bit! 

So when I say baggage I mean that over our 10 years together some things have gone wrong (as in any partnership), and I have trouble forgetting them sometimes.  I particularly struggled when the mounting block issues came up last summer, as that was always a point of anxiety for me.  I feel like I am 95% past it but it still lingers in my brain.  Only recently have I started wearing my new samshield helmet when I ride him.  For a long time I let that 5% of mistrust around the mounting block tell me that I shouldn’t wear my new samshield when I rode him because I might fall on it and I can't afford a new one.  In my lesson on Apollo with ST last weekend she commented: “It’s very confusing to me that you will jump and canter around on green bean Henry but you are so nervous to canter Apollo on a looser rein.”  And I think the reason for that is baggage, as part of me still remembers bolty/crowhoppy Apollo at the canter and doesn’t 100% trust that he won’t do that. 

And when I say incompatibility I mean that Apollo would probably really like to go fast.  And I would really like to travel at a low rate of speed.  I am getting braver (go me!) so I feel like this struggle for us will continue to improve.  But riding a more-who-than-go Henry has made me feel so brave (#slowsoulmates) and that has made it so clear to me that Apollo and I are very mismatched in terms of our preferences for speed of travel.  I hope to keep bridging this gap and to become the rider he needs.   I can’t help but feel a little guilty that I know he would have more fun with a human who would want to hop on and go for a gallop.

Apollo is totally my heart horse and I had to make a difficult decision in order for us to move forward.  I decided to send him for 30 days with RK (the wonderful guy who trained Henry).  They will focus on trail miles.  RK doesn’t have 10 years of baggage with Apollo.  RK doesn’t mind going for a good gallop sometimes.  He is super kind and I know he will show Apollo how to be a good trail pony for me and my husband.  I’m really excited to hear his insights. 

It’s been harder on me than I went I sent the babies to be started.  I cried after I dropped him off on April 30 and although I've been visiting it's been a bit tough for me.  I have been his rider for 10 years and have very rarely shared him.  Its super weird for me to think someone is riding him when I’m not there.  And I got a fair bit of judgement from some of my horsey people IRL too.  I trail ride Mystic bareback…. So why can’t I get my old horse quiet enough on the trail to share with other people?  Which kind of makes me feel like a failure in my work with Apollo.  But I feel like training with RK is worth a try and could really improve our relationship going forward so I’m willing to try! J

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Henry's First Show!

I finally got my ducks in a row and took Mr. H to a schooling show that was about 20 minutes down the road from my barn on Saturday.  I thought it would be a good opportunity to see what his brain is like off property and get some grown-up horse experience under his belt.  I’m happy I went but more than once I found myself thinking… “Why do people show?!  This is so stressful.”

This show had a bit more of a dramatic start than I’d hoped for!  When I grabbed Henry from the field he had a bump and scrape on his head, which I suspect was from a kick.  It didn’t seem to have a lot of heat or bother him too much but I definitely wasted a fair bit of show prep time in the morning humming and hawing about it.  Oops.

So I loaded him in the trailer and off we went (he loads like a dream, which I am incredibly grateful for). 

Note the scrape below his right eye in this pic

When we got to the show he came out of the trailer with a nosebleed.  I wasn’t sure if he injured himself in the trailer or if this was a delayed onset from the face trauma.  He was very snorty and whinnied quite a bit.  So as my husband and I tried to clean him up and assess the damage we both ended up getting sprayed with blood. 

Note the blood on my jacket sleeve... I am also strategically holding the reins to cover Henry blood on my breeches

The bleeding started to slow a bit and we assessed that it was likely sustained from a small cut on his nostril that he somehow did during the trailer trip (those tiny cuts sure bleed a lot!).  My parents were on their way and I called them to tell them they might as well not bother, my horse was bleeding and we had already missed the warm up.  ST was meeting us at 7:30 for coaching but I couldn’t find her anywhere.  The show took place at her barn and I was worried to embarrass her by riding around her beautiful facility on my bleeding horse.

Finally I tracked down ST and she told me he was fine (to be fair the bleeding had almost entirely stopped at that point).  And she would keep an eye on it while I was riding.  My husband carried a towel around just in case it started up again.  My parents showed up and I was happy they still came!

Off we went into the ring!  There were scary spectators, weird flower fill and a frightening judges table.  I was in the ring for about 10 seconds before the announcer said “You are now being judged.” 

Oh good. 

Does he look frickin gorgeous here or what?! 

This was my walk/trot equitation class.  Henry was definitely looky (particularly at the judges table) but he was fairly sensible.  I was competing entirely against young kids on slow moving plugs.  We had to circle quite a bit for spacing purposes. 

We ended up getting a 3rd place ribbon for this class, which I felt was incredibly generous! 

Next up was our trot pole courses.  It was the same course twice. 

My first go was pretty fugly.  Henry was really backed off and not moving forward.  This set him up to break into a walk or try to stop and stare at things a little too much.  The final “fence” faced head on to the judges table and was very close to it.  It took a few pony club kicks to get him over it.  Not beautiful.  6th place ribbon (out of 6 haha).

My second go was much better, but not exactly perfect either.  I finally got him moving forward but still struggled to move him off my leg to make nice corners/lines to the “fences”.  I think we trotted all the fences in this course…except a few walk strides on our last “fence” again.  Another 6th place ribbon.

Serious baby horse trot pole business

I was actually pretty pleased with Henry in the ring.  He wasn’t exactly set up for success (no chance to look at anything/warm up because of the nosebleed drama) but he tried his best.  For my own personal preferences I really enjoy riding a horse that has more woah than go when things get dodgey, and Henry is that for sure.  Things felt noodley and fugly a fair bit but I never felt like he was going to take off with me or do anything rude or foolish.

However he was not very patient waiting in between his classes, which did surprise me a bit as he’s usually super happy to park/chill.  I think there was just too much going on.  We were totally THAT horse/rider combo that can’t stand still and embarrass themselves.  He started backing up and wouldn’t stop, ended up backing into a wall and then a rake.  Knocked over the rake and spooked himself.  *facepalm*  He was also being super pushy with his head (which I suspect was probably uncomfortable from various trauma that day) which was super annoying.  I think he pretty much headbutted my entire support crew.

I had signed up to do the crossrails too but when I saw them adding flower fill… I was like…naw, we good.  We’ve never seen fill, much less tried to jump over it (some good homework though) and I felt like it was not the ideal place to try it.  As I look back I kind of wish I’d tried it but I felt like his brain was slowly leaving the building, so maybe quitting while we were ahead was a good idea too.

I’m really proud of Henry, there is room for improvement of course (like standing still like a normal horse in between rounds and not being so looky) but it was overall a decent first outing!   We survived!