Eli and I had picked up a great head of steam after we got home from Fieldstone. We were committed to our schedule and he was working wonderfully… I had a ton of motivation and was super excited for how well he’s been going.
Our plan had originally been to go to summer GMHA, but have since readjusted and decided to two the last two weeks at Vermont Summer Festival instead.
Then yesterday this face came in from turnout with a really nasty puncture to the outside of his left fetlock. Ashley and I debated on calling the vet out to stitch it, but that area flexes so much that it would probably be a waste of a couple hundred dollars. He got to spend some time in the ice boots and then was wrapped. He’s pretty sore on it, understandably (dude is also not stoic AT ALL).
Luckily it looks pretty good this morning. When I spoke to the vet this morning, he agreed with everything we were doing and upon seeing pictures added in two weeks of stall rest/handwalking/cold hosing/ice boots/wraps.
We’ll see where that leaves us, but here’s hoping he picks up close to where he left off. I’ll be chomping at the bit over not having a project, but Brad and I HAVE been sort of but not really shopping around… we just can’t decide if we’re going the OTTB route for me, or rolling with a QH for him. Might be a good excuse to find something sooner rather than later… (and since I know you read this… hi honey, we both know we’re going to end up with the OTTB…)
As I’ve mentioned a few times, we were bringing a bunch of students down to Fieldstone Show Park in Halifax, MA for the June show, and since there was a spot open on the trailer, baby horse got to tag along.
All of my plans for him have been so open ended, because when he’s on, he’s great but channeling his energy and getting his brain to stay focused on one task is a huge challenge at HOME, much less a big horse show. GMHA went well, though, so I was hoping Fieldstone would too.
We left Tuesday morning and the dude hopped into the trailer like a champion and rode quietly the entire way. (Yes, we refilled the hay net… we’re not monsters!) He settled into our tent stalls, took a nap, and then marched around the grounds like it was all old hat. While his head was constantly on a swivel, he was respectful and had (mostly) full awareness of his body.
Wednesday started cool and damp, not the best horse show weather but we made the best of it, got our students settled and then got on the young horses to school. Since they have several warm up rings, we had options to stay mostly out of traffic. Eli marched up and we had a great 5 minutes of minor shenanigans but nothing out of character… until another horse cantered up behind him and he lost his marble. I had Ashley hop on him because my nerves were at an all time high, and she ended up taking him to a smaller ring where she got him to settle nicely. I hopped back on, and while he was still tense and spooky, I got him around a few times before we called it quits, and got everybody tucked in for the night in anticipation of a full day of showing Thursday…. and a trip to the SmartPak outlet!
Best. Place. Ever.
My bank account is thrilled I don’t live in MA… because I would move in.
Turn out we got to show Thursday in the POURING rain…. POURING. I hand walked the young horses, did chores and was absolutely soaked through and shivering.
Ashley had a 3′ Open Hunter class and laid down really nice trips despite the weather and absolute slop that was the footing. The show crew worked their asses off, but it was raining faster than the rings could drain. That, combined with the amount of traffic made the conditions iffy, but they got the job done.
Eli took a bunch more handwalks, but that was the majority of the fun for him on Thursday, since we were a lot busier.
Friday brought… more rain in the morning, but the afternoon cleared up and we had students in the hunter and jumper rings, so were running most of the day. I finally got Eli out for a hack after the show was done for the day, and all was well until another horse in the warm up ran into him. We were both moderately frazzled and I hopped off, not wanting to put him in the position for it to happen again. The other rider honestly didn’t mean to, but was on another young horse who didn’t have much in the way of breaks.
We went to the lunge area, and I lunged him for about 45 minutes, and then Ashley hopped on him and hacked him around a quieter part of the grounds with great success. My brain was NOT cooperating, and I’m so thankful she was there to help me out.
After a complete meltdown to Brad on the phone, because this whole fear thing is getting REALLY frustrating, we agreed that I should try getting on him as early as possible and schooling. I checked in with the show office and was told that as long as it was light out, I could ride… so I set my alarm for 430 on Saturday and was at the grounds and mounted by 5 am.
It absolutely did the trick. We went around with no issues. Eli still looked at EVERYTHING and used all the distractions as an excuse to blow me off, but I was confident in getting after him and I got some really nice work out of him in the end. We did have one epic meltdown on the way home, when we passed the lunging ring. One horse blew up and it was just a domino effect… understandable.
Total light bulb moment, and something we will be incorporating into our show routines from now on… dating another horse trainer has proven to be helpful when we aren’t arguing about QH’s vs TB’s!
Saturday was a mostly chill day after the morning hack, with just one student in a handful of classes across two rings, so Eli got a ton more hand walks and even a visit from my folks! Eli showed his appreciation for their visit by almost running them over spooking at a storm drain, they went home and we ended up getting sent back to the barns for a thunder and lightning hold.
None of the commotion bothered the kid, who was happily stuffing his face. Hurricane winds (I’m being slightly dramatic), thunder, hail, lightning, rain blowing in sideways… none of it even so much as caused him to lift his head.. and we were in a TENT. Horses are weird.
I got to sleep off my early morning and then we were back to showing for the afternoon. Our students did an awesome job and everybody wrapped up the day feeling great.
Sunday was another really early, but really good morning with Eli being the Goodest Boi in the warm up ring, and my student with the other young horse lessoning really well. We had a quick morning, with more amazing trips from the kids (there were many happy tears) and more handwalking before we packed the crew up to head home.
All in all it was a great experience for Eli and I. I’ve learned a bit more about how he needs to be prepped, and he’s learning that being a show horse isn’t that big of a deal. We have a ton of homework to do before I feel confident that I’ll give him a great first trip in the show ring, but I was so pleased with how it all went.
As far as shows go, Fieldstone was great. The staff was super friendly and worked hard to make it a good show despite the constant rain. The accommodations were great, the facility was gorgeous, and the food was stellar (French toast sticks… that’s all I’m saying). The only thing I really could complain about was that the set up for lunging was horrific. The footing was a mess, and there was no fence around the area, which resulted in SEVERAL loose horses all week.
No matter what, though, I’m so grateful I have this horse in my life, and I’m so excited to see what we can accomplish together. We’re actually doing this thing!
If you follow me on IG or FB you may have noticed a new face…in the form of a rotund bay QH named Fat Pete.
Fat Pete came about a few weeks ago, in the form of a FB message from one of my clients.
“My husband found these two free horses and what do you think?”
Attached to the ad was a flyer indicating that the owner had moved and was looking for a new home for her two older horses. They had been family horses for a long time, and had just been sitting in the backyard for the last four years.
I agreed to set up an appointment to go see them, after chatting with their owner, thinking one would make a good lead line horse for this clients daughter. The other would just come along for the ride as they were a bonded pair.
Unfortunately the morning that we were set to go see them, there was much chaos at the farm, which resulted in me getting a solid knock to the head and spending most of my day in the hospital.
(More on that, and minding my melon in a different post…)
Ashley picked them up later that afternoon and I immediately got a text message that read, “Dude, these horses are so chill. They are exactly what we need.”
Our client passed on them, so Ashley and I quickly became the proud owners of Fat Pete, and Joe (the draft cross).
The two are 17 and 18 years old and probably the best trail horses I’ve seen. We tossed the kiddos on them and they happily trucked all four of us around the hay field.
While Fatty needs a little bit of a refresher in what it means to have manners on the ground (stop screaming, dude), he’s great in every other aspect!
As a full time trainer with a barn full of young horses, I’ve sort of forgotten what it’s like to be able to hop on a fat QH and just plunk. I’m somebody who absolutely lives and breathes this industry, but relaxing on my horses isn’t much of a thing. Fat Pete IS exactly what I needed in terms of “fun” and introducing Liam to riding in a safe manner.
I think you’ll be seeing a lot more of Fat Pete around… as he seems to be able to restore a little bit of that ever elusive work/life balance for me, gives Liam a safe horse to learn on, AND makes BG happy that we’ve finally added a Quarter Horse to our ever expanding herd of Thoroughbreds.
Plus, he lets me braid his mane sooo….
I do want to add that we got lucky with these two… I don’t really encourage people to just blindly grab two free horses and hope for the best. Ashley and I are professionals with the means and knowledge to figure out any health or training quirks that might have come up and would have reacted to that appropriately.
Ashley and I took a few kids to the spring GMHA show this past weekend, and decided the baby horses would come along for the ride. We didn’t have any concrete plans for them, other than making it a great experience… and boy was it ever.
We unloaded and got settled into our stalls on Friday afternoon and wild horse was wild… to the point where we had to put the stall gate up because he was trying to climb out. The creature was freaking monkeying him self up and out the door because he just wanted to go see all the other horses and make friends. This horse loves friends… his friends don’t alway love him though. We’re working on it.
Since we weren’t planning on showing, he got a tube of quietex and some alone time to process all of the excitement. After about an hour he was settled and content to hang his head out of the door and watch the cars go by. We were lucky to be stabled in a quieter end of the barn sort of out of the fray of the grounds, and that helped a ton.
After giving the kids a lesson and hacking the clients horses, I took Eli out for a walk and a lunge to see what I had for a brain… it was hanging on by a thread but we decided since it was quiet, I should get on and let him see the warm up.
He was good, but just barely. There was a lot of jigging around and head tossing because again, he just wanted friends, damnit! I got him around a few times, but my nerves got the best oof me, so we tossed one of our teenagers on board to see him go and he was a bit more settled. He hacked a few laps around and then we went back to his box to think about things over dinner.
He overnighted well and was sound asleep with his head hanging over the door when I got there for our leadline kid early on Saturday.
After breakfast I took him for a stroll and he was great, still looking but minimal dramatics over anything.
We got the girls through their classes and as Ashley was finishing one up, I tacked up Eli and we walked over to the warm up. He strolled around the grounds in a long rein, stood quietly while I chatted with another trainer, and didn’t lose his mind when somebody on a ranger couldn’t figure out how to get it into gear. He walked, trotted and cantered all the way around like a cool customer and I couldn’t have been happier with how he behaved.
He went to bed sleepy and we almost decided to put him in the Young’s on Sunday afternoon, however we ended up having a ring conflict with the girls so Ashley and I had to divide and conquer and we just ran out of time… he ended up chilling out in his stall most of the day, and getting handwalked every few hours before loading up and heading home.
I’m so happy he had such a great experience and he’s so exhausted today. We have the day off today, then we’re back to it tomorrow!!
I’m already excited for the next horse show, and am hoping to actually get him into the ring!
Living in the North during the winter can be a real PITA when you’re trying to keep a horse in any kind of serious program. I’ve always had a hard and fast rule that anything under 15* is nothing more than light hack weather.
Wednesday and Thursday ended up being pretty frigid, so everybody got handwalked… minus a few that got lightly lunged.
Friday brought some better weather but I was so busy trying to catch up with client horses, farm horses, and lessons that I didn’t get through my normal stuff until after 6. Luckily one of the girls was there late, and agreed to lunge Eli and hack Jake so I could trade my trainer hat for my mom hat.
I’m so grateful for my village!
Finally, on Saturday, I got some quality barn time. After teaching a few lessons, I set my sights on Eli. We worked on more of the same… forward the first time I ask and moving away from the pressure of my leg.
It was so hard (according to Eli), but we had moments of good boi things where he started to relax.
We also had several moments of sass, since it doesn’t seem fair to share JUST the good moments… please enjoy my favorite from Saturday’s ride.
Sunday was spent catching up on adulting, but luckily I think that the forecast for this week looks fairly promising… so here’s hoping that we can get a bunch of good rides in before the holiday!
Retired Racehorse Program applications opened yesterday, and I’m super excited to submit ours this week! I feel like having the entry in and (hopefully) accepted will be our first concrete goal to have… and keep me motivated!
As for my workouts this week? They went something like this:
Saturday: Rock Climbing ( <- Fav non-gym workout!)
Even if I don’t make it to the gym, I’ve been trying to do SOMETHING every day… even if it’s just a 20 minute yoga flow for me and a 20 minute hand walk for Eli. We gotta keep movin’.
Monday’s always end up being fairly quiet at the barn and we usually end up using the majority of the day for paperwork, phone calls, scheduling, etc.
It also ended up being upper body day for us at the gym, followed by a few lessons and the complete body workout that is riding a Section B Welsh pony who is just coming back into work… so by the time the end of the day rolled around I was standing in front of Eli’s stall trying to muster what little motivation I had left.
Winter is proving to be pretty rough for me. I usually ride my personal horses at the end of the work day, and it’s been so cold and dark that I just… Blah.
A million excuses to be had, let me tell you. My other challenge is Liam. We have childcare at the farm now, but typically only until about 5-530. Which makes a 6pm ride in 20* weather a bit of a pickle. We make it work, though, usually through the help of a generous teenager.
Thank god for Barn Rats.
I managed to pull myself (loudly) up by the boot straps though, and dragged Eli out. I started tacking him up only to discover he has some weird crud on various bits. Most importantly exactly where the saddle sits. Rude. He seemed pretty bothered by me picking at it… but he’s still trying his hand at attempted murder to get out of work so there’s that.
Given my current situation (alone in the barn with a toddler) I almost decided to give it up for the night before my eye caught the barn’s Pessoa system hanging on the wall. I’d been wanting to work this into his work rotation anyways so now seemed like as good of a time as any. The surcingle missed the bothersome cruddy bits perfectly so we went along to work.
At first I figured he would lose his marbles with the butt piece touching his legs, but he didn’t seem the care much. We started out to the left, which was easier for him, so he could settle into the idea and he didn’t even bat at eye.
When we reversed, he threw several moderately impressive tantrums, but soon learned its much harder to get your point across via tantrum when you actually have to work to do it. He settled after 5 minutes or so, and gave me some nice trot work.
We did 15 min on each side and while he wasn’t winded in the least, he was sweaty in all the right places which made me quite happy that he was working correctly in the system.
Today we hacked around bareback, and mostly worked on him moving away from my leg at the walk. It wasn’t our most inspiring work, but despite the fact that it was dinner time, there was a horse jumping, and his co dependent older brother was screaming his head off; he stayed pretty chill and focused on me (sort of…).
He even let me mess with his ears from above…. whaaaaat?!
It’s officially past Dec 1st, which means it’s on like Donkey Kong for Eli so we can be in contention for the ’19 RRP. Trainer applications open Dec 15th.
For the non-horsey types reading (hi, mom!) the RRP is the Retired Racehorse Project. It’s held in KY in the beginning of October and is a great way to showcase what these awesome horses can do. Part of the rules is that the horse cannot have more than 15 rides before Dec 1st. Since the last recorded work/race cannot be before (for example, for this year) July ’18, this levels the playing field for all the competitors.
They have several different disciplines from trail to dressage, but Eli and I will (hopefully) be accepted into the Eventing portion of this adventure.
I wanted to make sure we stayed well under our maximum amount of rides, so while I did hop on straight off the track to evaluate the dude’s mind and soundness… he’s been enjoying the last three weeks or so doing mostly nothing but eating.
Luckily I had the presence of mind to pop him on the lunge line before swinging a leg over, since it was ALSO only about 20* for the first time in a week and a half. Wild baby was wild. Until he wasn’t.
Turns out being fat means the wind comes out of your sails a lot faster than normal.
There was a lesson going on in the indoor, so to avoid any unnecessary collisions, I hopped on and then we watched.
Eli happily stood patiently during the entire lesson, which was somewhat shocking to me, and I was super grateful to the trainer and rider in the ring who let us hangout.
After the lesson was finished we headed to the rail to see how spunky he was going to be… I’m fairly convinced I’m going to have to rechristen him as the Elephant because it was a bit like trying to squeeze frozen toothpaste out of a tube.
He was more interested in the other horse schooling, and the flowers, and jumps, and poles, and -insert thing here- than actually trotting in a straight line. He never actually spooked at anything. He just had to touch it all. It was like trying to get my toddler through the grocery store when he insists on walking “by me, no mama!” (Alone).
At this rate we’re going to have to petition for a western pleasure class, since slow and stretchy seemed to be our jam. Judges be damned if none of it was actually in a straight line.
I’ve also started kicking my own butt into gear at the gym and in the kitchen. *sob* Good bye deli pizza… hello smoothies.
I’ll share my workouts as I go, so I can hold myself accountable and share some of the things I’ve been doing to develop my own damn self into the athlete I expect my horses to be.