Friday, September 30, 2016

Baby Saint

 Crimson continues to impress me with his life decisions.

Ok, maybe not this one.

I'm really enjoying this phase of learning, but admittedly he's making it easy. The goals are low and simple. Namely, don't kill your new mom.

The look I got when trying to remove the burrs from his tail.
Less than impressed.

The weather has dropped 20 degrees and turned windy. But still, Crimson tries really, really hard to be a good boy. He visibly likes to work and seems to especially enjoy being under saddle. Right now, our program is lunging first, incorporating verbal cues and exercises, that we then translate under saddle. My goal is to make everything as easy for him as possible. Lots of praise and making him feel smart for making good decisions.

I've learned that although he is naturally very easy-going and has a great foundation, he tends to be insecure. He looks to you to be consistent and clear. Any foibles we have usually happen when I am disorganized or don't have a clear plan. It is actually helping me a lot as a rider and horse person to slow down, take time and be more organized, something that hasn't always been a priority for me. 

But he is so gosh-darn willing! It makes it so much fun to work with him, that he is genuinely seeking to please. It also helps that I am working with my trainer Heather again. She is the trainer that worked with Boca and I before I went to the eventing barn. Heather is one of those people who seems to have an innate sense and understanding of horses. Plus, she always has great ideas, exercises and suggestions. For instance, I was trying to get the burrs out of Crimson's forelock. I gave up halfway through, as we'd both had enough at that point. Heather asked if I had tried putting detangler in his forelock. #MINDBLOWN  Problem immediately solved with less stress on both our parts. Genius.

We cantered!

On our fifth day, we were able to canter under saddle. Heather introduced this in a really fun, simple exercise. She placed a pole on the ground, between 1 standard and a small block. On the lunge, we asked him to trot the pole a few times. Then, as he went over the pole, we asked for canter, using the 'kiss for canter' sound that much of western training uses. We did it a few times in each direction, to firmly plant the exercise in his mind.

We then translated that to under saddle. I trotted the pole, and we cantered away. Simple, easy, non-event. Much praise.

I'm trying to keep everything simple with this horse. And fun. And so far, it's working. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

First Time Ride

Guys! I rode my pony! And nobody died!!! 

Yup, he is pretty much asleep 

I wasn't expecting to get on Crimson so soon. I figured we would ease into lunging him under saddle, then *maybe* I would get on him this weekend. No rush.

Although I kind of wondered how much lunging I could take, seeing as he already seemed bored, and I was tired from running around, waving my lunge whip in the air, trying to encourage him.

In fact, I actually asked my trainer to lunge him yesterday to see if she could make it a little more organized.

Trotting over poles, NBD
Yes, he really is that big.

I was definitely surprised when she told me to grab my helmet and get on. No multiple days of lunging under tack. No trainer ride.

So I did. 

First, she had me climb on mounting block next to him and jump around a bit. Nothing. Then, we slapped the stirrup leathers on the saddles on both sides. Nothing. So then I put my weight in the left stirrup and lay across his back. Crickets.

So, with that, I swung on. I kept my seat light at first, until we were sure he was truly ok with me up there. And he was.

Guys, he was PERFECT. Halt, walk, trot in both directions. He has a lovely mouth - like buttah. He seems to already understand half-halts from body and seat (Probably because slow and stop are his favorite speeds. He doesn't need much encouragement).

It was so weird to see his thick double-sided mane in front of me. He has a lovely rolling stride. Like being on a big ship on the ocean.

I was so thrilled with our first ride. I think we are going to have a lot of fun together.

All the pats for the best boy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Giant Baby Horse

So... I may have done a thing.

The Thing

Someone we know *not naming any names here* may have bought a giant baby horse. A giant goofy chestnut baby thoroughbred, to be exact.

Ok, fine. It was me.

Yes. I went full-on bat-shit crazy. I bought a giant, 5 year old, 17h chestnut thoroughbred gelding.

But wait! I can explain! It's not as crazy as it sounds. It's actually all my husband's fault. Totally true. No word of a lie.

I had all these grand plans to wait until spring, save all my pennies, and get another horse, one that was further along in its training. Something that I could get started with right away. I was Sensible. Rational. Logical. But that doesn't stop a someone from perusing the sales ads online, AmIRite? I mean, it is harmless. Porn for horse people.

I think my husband just got tired of the random bursts of crying. I mean, when your wife of 3 years breaks down in tears every few days when she thinks of her retired horse, you get a little desperate. We actually had to leave a public park because I used to ride Boca there, saw horse trailers in the parking lot, and promptly lost it. Family walk aborted.

So when said wife was casually perusing online sales ads (horse porn) hubby made a dastardly mistake. Pointing to a pic of a giant chestnut horse (that I was not even looking at, I swear) he said "Look! That telephone number is in our town. You should call it." I hemmed and I hawed, and told him all the reasons why it was a bad idea. And then he said the Magic Words. "What could it hurt?".  What could it hurt, indeed? What's a harmless little phone call?

No harm here. Just giant ears.
I called the number and left a voice message. I expected nothing. I was actually a little relieved not to hear back. My husband asked me a few days later if I had hear anything. So I could honestly tell him that, yes I had called and no, I had not heard anything. Case closed.

But then, I did get a return call. The owner had been out of town, and had just returned home and gotten my voicemail. Yes, the horse was still available. Yes, I was welcome to come see him. And yes, he was right in my town.

How could I not? I mean, he was practically right in my back yard. I had nothing better to do on the weekend. Might as well go see a man about a horse. I roped my friend H into coming with me. She was supposed to be my voice of reason. She was going to point out all the flaws, the things that could go wrong. The reasons why this horse was not right for me.

So not right for me
Except, he was really sweet. Really personable. Really goofy. Really calm, with a great brain. He had trained at Finger Lakes for 4+ months. His owner had a dispute with the trainer and had brought him home. He had been let down for 10 months. He lived out 24/7 and was barefoot. He lunged w/t/c in both directions, voice command. He was happy to try and do what was asked of him, even though it clearly deviated from his routine. I watched his pasture neighbor gallop madly around at feeding time. My horse just stood there and wondered what all the fuss was about.

His current owners were his breeders - a husband and wife team that had bred and raced horses for 40 years. Now in their 70's and with thoroughbred racing all but dead in New England, they only sought good homes for their remaining horses that were no longer racing.

I was doubtful. He needed to be re-started. I wouldn't be able to ride him before I bought him. He was the first and only horse I looked at. Considering buying him was madness. I texted with a friend, who, unknown to me, had also purchased a horse from his breeder. She raved about the breeder, said he accurately represented his horses in both soundness and temperament. Said his horses were lovely, started correctly and were perfect to handle. She said she wouldn't hesitate to purchase from him again. I think her final words were "Go Get Him!!!"  (<--- See, not my fault. I was coerced.)

Also, the breeder took a liking to me. He had been burned in the past by buyers who had not done right by his horses after purchase. His horses had a home for life with him and he tried only to let them go to the right home. He wouldn't consider letting his horses go to be re-sold, only wanted a his horses to go to a home where they would be appreciated and cared for, not flipped as an investment. He cut the purchase price in half for me, without any asking on my part.

So, I decided to do something crazy. I decided to buy the horse.

To recap, I bought the first horse I looked at. The only horse I looked at. Without being able to try him beforehand. In fact, I decided to go full-on crazy and skip a PPE. I reasoned that the last two horses I bought, the PPE did not reveal the issues they were later plagued with, so I should not bother with a PPE this time around. #PretzelLogic

And so, as of Sunday, I now own a giant baby TB. One who bears a striking resemblance in personality and coloring to Boca. I definitely have a type. Great brain? Check. Curious? Check. Brave? Check. Willing? Check. Goofy? Check. Chestnut with a blaze and some white socks? Check, check.

Let me formally introduce you to CRIMSON TIDE.
Yes, my husband named him after his favorite football team.
Ladies, sometimes, you gotta keep the husbands happy.
Crimson came home on Monday. I was so excited to rush out after work and spend time with him. We had a perfect first night, which involved lunging w/t/c in both directions, going on cross-ties for the first time, and getting a bath with the hose.
I am so happy and excited for our journey. I have no plans and no timeline.
We'll take all the time he needs. He can be whatever he wants to be.
Whatever that ends up being, we'll do it together.