Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Sooo... That Happened

Last year, I was a working student at the barn I train at! It was a blast and I learned so much. But one of the best parts about the job is the horses you get to meet and interact with along the way. You tend to get more attached to some of them than you really should. There were a very small percentage of the horses that truly captured my heart. 3 in particular. One was an angry red horse. Big and mean and I loved him. He always made me laugh and we had a special little understanding with each other. I was heartbroken when he passed (I even went to say goodbye to him the day before). The second was one of my trainer's 2* horses, who at the time was on stall rest. He was big and black and goofy as they come. I was constantly wrapping and lasering and hand-walking, but I loved it and his big personality. The third was a client horse who only boarded there for a month, but continued lessons afterwards. An adorable 16hh, dark bay OTTB with 3 white socks. A complete sweetheart and just captured my heart. I kept telling his owner that if she wasn't careful, I might steal him from her.

Okay guys, give me a little credit, I didn't actually steal him!

About 2 weeks ago, I received a message out of the blue from his owner, asking if I was interested in him! I stared at the email in disbelief for a little while. I wasn't looking for a new horse by any means, but I also have the property to pretty comfortably care for 3 as well. We messaged back and forth for a little while and finally I decided it was far too good of an opportunity to pass up! 

Meet Banner! (aka Bruce Banner, JC: Banner Blossom)

Banner is the sweetest little horse. He has given pony rides, jumped 2'6"+, flats like a dream and is a total lover on the ground. I can hardly believe that he is mine! There was no plan to get a 3rd horse, but sometimes the perfect horse and the perfect situation just happen! And that is what happened here. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask!

Checking out his new home

Love those bright white socks
Enjoying a trot around the pasture
His canter is a dream to ride

Just like a rocking horse

He is the best at stretchy trots!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

FUN!

It's been a busy last couple of months in the circus my life. The boys and I have gotten into a routine again - a solid 4+ rides per week schedule for both of them. And I finally dragged our sorry butts out to lessons. Wonder has had two lessons, one with each one of our trainers. He won them both over with his brave, cute little movement and good brain. I was a little rusty, and suffering from "rogue left hand syndrome" at first, but I'm getting back to the rhythm of things. Charmer and I had a lesson with S and she changed some of our tack and absolutely revolutionized our ride. We got back to jumping 2'6"/2'9" comfortably with her help. Good trainers are life changing!

The week after all of our lessons, I put all of our training to use at home. Wonder is learning to accept and seek the contact while staying forward on the flat. In the moments where he gets it, I get a fantastic glimpse into the horse he will become in time! I worked with Charmer on keeping his head up, especially coming to fences, and I am working on riding confidently and forward to the fences.

Horse has a jump!

We now have an instant gag on Charmer's bridle, and I'm riding in double reins. It has been a game changer for us! We don't get into a pulling war anymore and it makes us both much happier and more confident.


With our new setup, I had a flash of bravery and hiked the jumps up at home for the first time. We schooled some good 2'6"-2'9" fences at home and it felt controlled, forward and FUN. Wow its been a little chunk of time since I've really been able to say that about jumping! I have lots of nerves when it comes to jumping, and for this one day I had zero


There is about another 1.5 months until the next local show on my radar. I'm hoping to actually hit that one! Since I've missed the last 3... Whoops. 


Charmer is feeling better than he has in all of the time I've owned him! It does make him a really strong ride, but he is FUN. His jump is feeling powerful and balanced. Which makes me a happy horse mom!

Here you can kind of see our new gag setup


Feeling ready to get back on the XC course

There will be more life updates, Charmer updates, and Wonder updates in the near future! For right now, this is here to show you that I am indeed alive, riding, and having so much FUN!


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Moving Up In The World

I have like 4 blog posts that I should be writing, but finals weeks and life got the better of me, and so I have been totally slacking on the blog front. Ponies are both doing great though, and Charmer just got a well-deserved and much-needed chiropractic appointment, following a brief lameness on his RF (now fine). The semester is over, finally! And with it ending, comes a little more time for riding and pony things.

In the meantime, I ended up upgrading my boys' ride.


Say hello to my new trailer! I've been wanting to upgrade for a while now, but had some pretty specific parameters, and could not for the life of me find what fit. Then I just happened to be driving through the Home Depot parking lot and saw this trailer hooked up, with a for sale sign on it! I couldn't believe my luck! Checked it out and sure enough it is perfect. It just got delivered last night!

It is a 2002 Charmac, 3H gooseneck, max height & width, with a small sleeping quarters up front and a mid tack (no rear tack - that was a dealbreaker for me), and has a ramp on the back! It's had impeccable care taken of it, and when you look inside, it looks like it couldn't be more than 5 years old! It even has brand new tires on it. This baby is ready to hit the road!! The person I bought it from even said the reason he has it is because they owned and transported racehorses, hence the max height and width. Couldn't be happier with it, and it totally still feels like a dream. Excited to have my maiden voyage in it very soon!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Eight!

Charmer has officially been in this world for an entire 8 years today! In order to celebrate a very happy birthday to my favorite hunk of a horse, I decided to share 8 of my favorite photos with him!









This horse has been such an incredible blessing in my life. He makes me laugh and smile on both my best and my worst days. He makes my life so much better, and I can only hope I do the same for him. Happy 8th Birthday, Charmer! Here's to many, many more together!! 💓

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Once In A Lifetime Horse


If that isn't the cutest photo you've ever seen, then you are lying. This is a picture of Charmer packing around an adorable little 2 year old girl. What you can't see in this photo is the giant smile on her face (and mine). This last weekend, I invited a few families from my church over to the house for dinner, and I expanded it to be an evening with "pony" rides for the kids.

Charmer had almost 2 weeks off prior to this (stupid busy schedule!), and all I had the chance to do that afternoon was a quick 10 minute lunge session. He came out great for the lunge, and was super respectful and stretchy on the line. Since he was being so good and my schedule was jam packed, I threw him back out in the pasture.

Fast forward to about 3 hours later, the families began to arrive and so I pulled out Charmer & his tack and gave him a quick brush and tacked him up super fast. He was great for that. I then pulled out a bunch of small carrot chunks that I had chopped up earlier and taught the 5 girls how to feed him. He was confused by their tiny hands, but tried so hard to be respectful and kind. Once we fed him a few carrots, it was time for the first ride. I led him up to the mounting block and let the first girl get on.


His ears quietly flicked back and forth for a moment, and then he relaxed and licked and chewed. We took a couple small laps around the driveway and he was very polite and gentle. I think he could tell these girls had never ridden before and were a little nervous.


Then we put up the 5 year old, who was thrilled. And again, Charmer plodded along like a good little lesson pony, without so much as a flick of his tail.


We continued with two more riders, a 14yo and the 2yo, who both had pretty big smiles once they got up there! Charmer had a momentary almost-spook with one of them, when the neighbor kids made some noise. But again, he remembered he had some very small and precious cargo at the time and stood stock still and didn't flinch.


The one who was probably the most thrilled was the 4yo, who is a little bit of a daredevil (and tried to ride one handed for a little while!).

After all was said and done, I was really impressed that there were no tears from any of the girls! I used to do a lot of pony parties, and especially for really little kids, it was always kind of a tossup if they would cry. And Charmer is a solid foot taller than half of those ponies we used to use! But all we got were tons of huge smiles. I will say my smile may have been the biggest though. It takes a special kind of horse to be able to handle small children, let alone one who is also as talented under saddle with a real rider as Charmer is. I told all of the girls afterward to give him a big pat and carrot, because he was very kind to let them ride him. And I also told them that they have now had the pleasure of riding one of the absolute coolest horses that I've ever gotten to ride, and I've ridden a lot of them! They all thought that was pretty cool.

Charmer is such an incredibly special horse. I just never know how I got so lucky. I don't know how many 8yo OTTBs, who have had 2 weeks off, would be willing to tote around some small children who have never ridden before. Its not very often you stumble across a horse like this. I just love him so much! Sorry for the sappy brag post, but I think he is just so awesome!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Family & Media!

This weekend, I got the pleasure of my Aunt coming into town. She was coming to see the family, but she also loves horses. Oh and she is an awesome photographer. I hope you see where this is going. I was thrilled to have her in town to begin with, but doubly thrilled when I realized she brought her fancy camera!


Finally some new media! The timing was perfect, because I also got Charmer clipped this weekend and it made him look a lot nicer in the photos! Clearly we are both a little out of shape, but I loved getting some media anyways!


He warmed up the best he has in a long time - soft, relaxed, pleasantly forward, and he was moving off of my right leg really well (we have been struggling with this for a while now). Knocked his laterals out of the park, and didn't go to pull on me or buck more than one time.


I even got to pull out a bunch of new outfit stuff for both of us! Our OTTB Identity shirt, newest Piper breeches, new Majyk Equipe boots & new Nunn Finer figure 8 (go die in a hole stupid HDR bridle I had before!).


I'm about 95% sure that Charmer's perfect attitude was because of our super coordinated outfit and the fact a camera was out. I swear this horse loves the camera. Even when the neighbor dogs came out barking and roughhousing, he didn't bat an eye. I was super impressed to say the least!

So I finally decided to pull out a jump for the first time in over 5 months (wow, can't believe it's been that long!). It also happened to be the first time we jumped at home, ever. I figured it might go well, because he felt great, and at least if I died, we would get it on camera.


But of course, I shouldn't have doubted my big bay creature, because he was foot perfect. I need some reminders on how to do everything, but he took every jump in stride without batting an eye, and any issues in his form were all 100% my fault.


Since we are both rebuilding fitness (okay, me more than him), I kept the jump low and we only went over it about 15 times, and I made sure to end on one of the best jumps all day. If he can keep up this calmness, we will definitely kill it in the show ring this year (provided I can actually figure out my stupid schedule so I can ride!).

All smiles, all the time with these two

Wonder intently watched our whole ride. I'd like to think he is taking notes. But probably not. Little kid is hopefully going over his first fences in the next couple of weeks! Just gotta find the time and set something up. I'm hoping to con someone into jump crewing for me so I don't have to worry about getting on/off to fix any jumps he takes down.

Charmer humored me with a mini photoshoot

So thrilled that I got some stellar media this weekend, and I cannot wait until April when my Aunt comes back again so I can get even more media! Hopefully some nice photos with Wonder next time too!


Also she took this amazing shot of Charmer & I which I am super in love with!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Making Time

I've been so consistently busy and stressed out lately, that I just keep putting off my rides. Finally this week, I told myself to stop. I pulled out my tack, set it out and was determined to fit in a ride. First, on Wednesday, I pulled Charmer out. I spent a while grooming, because he is starting to shed. Then we got all tacked up and headed into the arena. I forgot about the fact that we haven't ridden since before I got jumps & a harrow and they live outside the far end of the arena. Charmer practically had a meltdown about them. This horse is never spooky, so I don't know if it was him trying to get out of work or being legitimately concerned, but we spent most of our ride on that end making him deal with it.

Love that fresh arena

Once he settled, we got some good work in. But I can definitely feel how out of shape he is, mostly because he was on the forehand for most of our ride on Wednesday. Since we are both dreadfully unfit, we kept our ride to a pretty quick and easy 20 minutes of walk and trot. Charmer and I both have a tendency to get anxious really easily, so I am working really hard on "restarting" him with everything really relaxed and calm. Thus far it seems to be working, so hopefully we can continue that!

Telling Wonder kid how it's done
(I hope)

I didn't quite have time to pull Wonder out on Wednesday before I had to be somewhere, so he got yet another day off.
 

Thank goodness for the days getting longer, because I was also able to squeeze in a ride at 5:00 on Charmer on Thursday (which is after dinnertime and he wasn't thrilled about that). Again, we kept it short and sweet, but at least this time we didn't spend 80% of the ride spooking at some stupid jump standards! It amazes me how quickly he can start to get fit again too, because he was significantly less on the forehand for this ride than his previous one. Okay horse, please don't get fit so quickly, I've got to catch up! 

Learning how to pose!

And because sunset wasn't until 6:45 on Thursday night, I was even able to put in a quick ride on Wonder kid. His ground manners have rapidly improved over the last month, which is good, because I don't have anywhere to tie when I tack up! He was very polite to be groomed and tacked up, except when I tightened the girth once and he tried to bite me. Oh well. Other than that he was a perfect little angel to be tacked. He knows that the better he is, the more peppermints he gets, and peppermints are life. 

Still getting used to these ears

He also had a complete meltdown about the jumps at the end of the arena, but he got over it in about 5 minutes for the most part, other than continually throwing side eye in their direction. We got a nice loose rein walk warmup, and he is definitely starting to stretch his topline just a little bit more - which is great! Instantly, there was tension when I picked up the bit however. His teeth need done (hopefully next week!) but he also seems distrustful of contact. Not sure if that is due to teeth, racehorse history, or something else, but whatever it is makes him really wary of the hands on the reins. I worked on serpentines & circles with him for most of the ride. A good amount of trotting and just working the whole time on letting him relax and go forward, not turn into an up&down ball of energy. We got a handful of really nice steps with him reaching into the contact. 


He also has a tendency to start getting his legs moving faster than the hamsters in his head can keep up. I have to be really really purposeful in my posting to keep him from "running away" in his trot. This is something I pretty much have never had to do with Charmer, so its an interesting contrast between them. Both horses are very different rides in a lot of ways, which is going to be great for my riding, but it is also pretty difficult at times. I am really enjoying figuring out how Wonder works.

Sleepy

Hoping to keep fitting in more rides over this weekend, and into the coming weeks! Feeling good about finally getting back to a little bit of a routine.