After Eli finished up with the time he got off after injections, I was sooooo excited to hop on and see how amazing my “new” horse felt. We’d done some light tack walking, but nothing where I asked anything of him.
He did feel good… he was happy to stretch over his back and I was able to get a few seconds of real engagement here and there.
But he still felt… weird. He was more wiggly than I think I’ve ever felt him; completely unable to keep his body straight for even a step or two. It was like he 100% did NOT trust where his feet were going. He never took a truly lame step, but he just felt …. not quite there.
My first thought was that something had gone wrong with his injections, but he had no heat, swelling, lameness, or any other indication that something was physically wrong.
I called the vet and discussed the issue with him and he agreed upon seeing video that it wasn’t a physical issue, but perhaps a mental one.
This horse is so wildly defensive about his body that the vet thought that he just didn’t trust that the good feeling was actually good; hence his extreme need to “protect” himself by being unstable and backed off entirely.
So from there I had two options… force him through it or turn him out for another week or two and see where I was at.
I chose the latter of the two options, and tossed him out with his old man friends. No lunging, hacking, nothing.
I get a lot of flack because I refuse to push this horse further than he trusts me to. He came to me with issues, and I just don’t see the point in backsliding because he “should be” at x,y, or z place in his training. This is the only horse I have right now, and if it takes me years, than so be it.
If he was a different horse, than perhaps we would duke it out, but he’s not. I have to work the horse that’s in front of me. Giving him a break doesn’t mean he’s going to forget everything that he’s learned, it just means he’s learning that I’m going to listen to him, and deliver on my end of the bargain.
In my opinion, that’s what a good trainer does, especially when they love a horse as much as I love this one.
Fingers crossed my gut is right, and he’s able to come back happy and willing to work. The farm isn’t done showing for the year, but as far as Eli goes, I’m hoping to instead attend a few clinics this fall, for some off farm learning adventures. I’m hoping a bit more constructive setting than a horse show will better set him up to come out swinging next year.
It’s been such a learning curve with him, one that I’m thankful for as it’s really helped me grow and learn patience, humility, and to have a sense of humor. I think I’m going to end up with a great partner in this dude, and I def wouldn’t do much differently about the whole adventure.
If you follow me on IG (@thelazyottb), you know that my grown up job is at the farm. I ride, teach, and manage the farm where Eli lives… we also show often, where I take on the roll of groom. All this means when it comes to picking out day to day attire I feel like I’m pretty well versed in what looks professional, holds up, is comfortable, and doesn’t break the bank.
My absolute favorite shirts are the Kastel Denmark 1/4 zip sun shirts. In 3/4 of my #ROOTD posts in my stories, you’ll see I’m rocking one of their shirts. The price on their website is $75USD however I am pretty good at shopping clearance, so can typically get them for around $50. I usually wear a small, but typically size up to a medium.
What I Love: The shirts are super light weight, and the mesh undersides help keep me super cool even on the most humid of days. I rarely get sunburnt at horse shows, since I opt for the long sleeve version. The collar helps keep my outfit looking professional, but the variety of color combinations are super fun. The sleeve cuffs have a bit of elastic in them which helps them stay down around my wrists no matter what I’m doing. They don’t easily hold dirt or stains, and lesson horse drool wipes right off. They pass the “toss in the wash with everything else” test, and hold up perfectly even when washed with jeans.
What I Don’t: The lightweight material can be a bit of a catch 22 and easily shows lumps, even when I’m wearing a t-shirt bra. I do wear a cotton tank top underneath them, to smooth everything out, which makes it a little thicker, but I haven’t overheated or been uncomfortable even with the extra layer underneath.
Breeches were a huge thing for me when I first started my job… I couldn’t afford the nice TS breeches like everybody else at the farm, and when I finally did score a nice hand me down pair, they fit like garbage. I went through several pairs of Kerrits tights and Dublin’s, since that was what I could afford from our local feed store, but they wore like crap.
I then bought a pair of SmartPak’s Piper breeches when they were on clearance… I paid $34 for them and had low expectations for a breech at that price point. If you want them new, expect to pay around $75-$80, which is still reasonable. They have another level up in quality, called the Hadley, which I wear for show breeches and also love, but at about $100-$120 it’s a steep price for my budget to have several pairs.
I’m about 5’4 and 110lbs, usually about a 2 in jeans, and wear a 26 regular comfortably in both styles.
The Piper’s quickly surpassed my expectations, and I have since added approximately a dozen pairs to my wardrobe. I throw a pair in my cart anytime I make an order. Don’t tell Brad…
What I love: First off, the price point is spectacular… and they always have a few pairs floating around on clearance if you aren’t super picky about color. I have high, mid, and low rise in front and side zip, and all fit well while also being flattering to my shape. They wear like iron and I’m never worried about ruining them, regardless of what I might be doing that day. It doesn’t matter if I’m packing the trailer for a show, stacking hay, or teaching a million lessons, they hold up. I literally wear them from 630 in the morning until I shower at 9pm. My first pair is almost a year old, still look brand new and have held their shape.
What I Don’t: If I’m being super picky, the full seats can be a little restrictive in the saddle. I find myself spending the first five minutes of my ride trying to get them to stretch out, especially around my knees.
I am EXTREMELY picky about my footwear since I am on my feet constantly. It can make or break how my day goes, and it’s hard to have a consistently good attitude when your feet feel awful.
That being said, I don’t have the budget to invest in lovely custom boots because… horse trainer. I snatched up a pair of Ariat Heritage Contour field boots a few years ago, for about $250, and have yet to be disappointed.
I’m about a 7 in a regular shoe/boot and I sized down to a 6.5, regular calf, regular height. I could probably have gotten away with a slim but I like having room to layer in the winter.
What I Love: These boots had almost 0 break in period. I took them out of the box and immediately began wearing them 12 hours a day and my feet felt great. (I made the mistake of deviating to a pair of Treadsteps for my show boots and HATED them immediately because they will. not. break. in.) They look great and have held up to all the day to day abuse. I wear them in all conditions and my feet stay happy. They clean up beautifully with some leather cleaner, no matter how disgusting I get. They are thin enough that I can get a good feel of my horse, but not too thin that they wear quickly.
What I Don’t: The laces do NOT hold up… not even a little. Both Ashley and I have these boots and both of our laces break constantly. They do sell replacement laces and while it’s fairly simple to replace them, it’s still a pain in my ass. I found this great tutorial from Kelly over at the Hunky Hanoverian and it saved my bacon.
When I’m not riding, or I want to give my Ariat’s a break, I turn to my Dublin River II boots. I bought them on sale for about $170, and while it was a bit of a splurge, I needed something a little bit more sturdy than my Nikes (plus when I’m setting courses my Nikes fill with sand).
Again, I’m a 7 in sneakers and these are a 7 as well. The foot is a little big, but wanted room to layer this winter.
What I Love: They are mad comfy, with some space around the calves to allow for air flow that I don’t get with my Ariats. They are completely waterproof which is nice when I’m slogging through puddles and mud in turnout. I usually grab them when I’m wearing jeans, and are fashion forward enough that I can get away with wearing them to the grocery store without many odd looks. They are rugged and clean up easily. Similar to my Ariat’s, there wasn’t any break in period, and they provide considerably more back support than sneakers.
What I Don’t: They are a bit warmer than wearing sneakers/socks, so on the super humid/hot days, I’ll choose my Nikes or else I get gross leg sweat. I’ll probably change my mind on that this winter.
I had been a life long Charles Owen fan for as long as I can remember, however after my last serious crash I had to replace my helmet, and settled on a OneK Defender. I have a small, oddly shaped head and often times wearing my CO for extended periods of time would give me a huge headache, especially with my hair up. When I tried on the OneK in the tack store, it was instantly more comfortable. The price point is about $250, which in comparison to Samshield or GPA is certainly on the lower end.
What I Love: This helmet is super well ventilated, which is so helpful when it’s 100% humidity and your young horse decides it’s a good time to need some extra help. I rarely ever overheat, or feel like I get extra flushed/sweaty. It provides as streamlined of a profile as you can probably get when wearing a brain bucket, and I don’t get the “mushroom head” effect I did when I wore a CO. My hair fits neatly underneath and I can wear it from lesson to ride to lesson to turn out to feeding to ride with total comfort. The chin strap is comfortable and easily adjusted.
What I Don’t: There’s literally nothing I don’t like about this helmet…
Ahh, my favorite part of getting dressed in the morning. The majority of the riders in our barn are hunter riders, which means I enjoy getting their blood pumping with my bling and other colorful details. I’m notorious for blingy western belts and crocodile print spur straps.
I typically scour my local Tractor Supply for blingy western belts on clearance, usually between $15-$20, and it adds a super fun pop to my outfits.
If I need to be a bit more pulled together, I have a big collection of C4 belts. One of my clients is a rep, so we get them slightly discounted, which means my collection is enormous. I still get to have a ton of fun with colors and prints, but it’s a touch more subtle and usually only costsabout $20 perbelt.
Honestly, when it comes to socks I usually steal Brad’s dress socks, or purchase tall socks from WalMart. I do have several pairs of Noble Outfitters but other than cost, I don’t see a huge difference in how my feet feel, or how they wear.
So there you have it! A round up of my favorite things this summer.
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!
The training of baby horses is never linear and while I’ve been having a great run with Eli over the last little while, today we mostly forgot… well… everything we’ve learned to this point.
I think partially because we had a mentally challenging lesson yesterday, but mostly because we’re almost 6 and life is hard. Like… REALLY HARD.
It all started with an epic meltdown when he accidentally cracked me in the head while I was putting his boots on… he jumped backwards, hit the end of the crossties, and panicked. Then when the twine snapped the crosstie smacked him in the face.
Then we somehow have managed to land a starring roll in some kind of weird seagull migration… so there was lots of thumping on the roof and seagull noises.
So… when I got on today and it was like sitting on the horse I brought home in October.
Moving off my leg… nope.
Pluck around the arena on a long rein and literally do nothing… no.
We ended up doing a LOT of lateral work at the walk, tail swishing, and zen breathing. I just wanted him to relaaaaaaax and move his body. I’m not sure what continent his brain was on, perhaps wherever the seagulls came from, but it certainly wasn’t anywhere close.
We played around with turn on the haunches to get him thinking about moving his feet and then ended the day with some long and low trot work over poles.
I AM proud of him for trying. He wasn’t being bad he just. couldn’t. focus. We didn’t get into any fights and ended on a happy note (poles are his favorite)… so for a day when the dude seemed to take a huge backslide in knowledge… he took a big jump forward in his attitude and that seems a bigger accomplishment to me with this guy.
The joy of training young horses, though, right? You ride the horse you pulled out of the stall today and keep in mind that there will be tomorrow…and the next day… and the next.