Wednesday, June 17, 2015

First Cross Country Schooling: Great Success! And SNACKS

In case anyone doesn't want to read the rest of this long post and miss all the fun GIF-ness...Soon was a super star for his first time out cross country!  There.  Have a great day.

For the rest of you cool cats who enjoy horses and GIFs and cross country schooling recaps...

Awesome New Farm Owner invited Soonie and I out cross country schooling, and I happily accepted!  We have yet to go off the farm and do anything remotely exciting due to my distinct lack of truck and trailer.  So yesterday morning I ventured out to the farm early  in the morning to pop Bubba over some of Awesome New Farm's XC obstacles.  Because I figured if we're going to go school, I should probably, you know...see if he's even interested in jumping over trees and shit.

And he was.  Yesterday's school took about 20 minutes; we refreshed the walking and trotting up and down the baby bank, then popped over the little coffin a couple of times (he didn't even hesitate), and then jumped a couple of the logs and roll tops around the farm.  He was foot perfect, brave but not "grab 'n run," and seemed like he was ready to go off the farm and pop over some baby XC stuff, even if he was somewhat angry at working before he got his breakfast.

Yeah this was fun
Afterward, I went home and finished entertaining family (yes, I'm that person that ditches visitors to go ride), and then laid out my go-bag for today's adventure.  Basic stuff like an extra shirt, sunscreen, bottles of water, medical card and armband, helmet, and most importantly, snacks.

 Not to be confused with SNACKS.


We loaded the two green beans up this morning (let's all just stop and appreciate horses that walk right on to trailers for a moment.  Because they are AWESOME.  Awesome), and arrived at the schooling grounds an hour and a half or so later.  It was busier than I expected, but not as crazy as open XC schooling days could be.  Soonie was a little excited from the trailer ride and was "up" when he got off the trailer, and didn't really settle right away even when I got on.  He was so interested by all the activity; the jumps and funny looking flags, the many horses off in the distance cantering and galloping around jumping...he was debating what was going on and what he should do about it.

He was the awkward dude staring at the party

And then he decided that he should run too?

So we and fellow green bean (who may have been internalizing everything, but outwardly he was very calm and cool) marched aaaaaaaaaallllll the way across the field, past the more advanced areas and to the Baby Playground Corner.  And by marched I mean the friend walked, Soonie and I Passaged our way across the entire field and impressed no one.

How we looked to everybody else

And then...halfway to Baby Land when my horse was completely drenched in sweat, I realized that I had forgotten to replace my leather laced reins with the rubber reins.

And then my gloves were also soaked from patting his wet neck, so then I was holding wet leather reins with wet leather gloves and my horse was prancing around like he was there to win the Kentucky Derby.

Needless to say, we will be using rubber reins and another type of glove next time out.

That said, he did actually settle once we were away from all the activity and he got down to work.  After trotting around a bit, he took a big breath and I knew we were on the right track.  And thankfully, as soon as we started popping over some of the baby XC jumps, he relaxed immediately (and stopped sweating profusely).  He actually jumped around like a nice little hunter - soft, relaxed, in rhythm.  He didn't look at anything.  Nothing was impressive anyway, it's good to keep things simple the first day out to build confidence and have a good experience.  He was actually relaxed enough to stand around and hang out for a bit, and allowed me to snap a bunch of photos with my phone.  We jumped over the little coffin (which was significantly larger than the baby one at home he had done for the first time yesterday), and he was perfect.  Again, didn't hesitate at it at all.  Such a good boy!

Our last adventure was the water complex.  Bubba got worked up again being in the middle of the activity, with horses galloping around and jumping.  He was not bad, but definitely needed to walk around while we waited for our turn in the water.  Neither horse had gone through a water before, though Soon and I had done some puddles out hacking.  Thankfully, he remembered our You Will Do Water discussion from months ago, and when the other horse hesitated, Soonie came up and led him right in.  Walked straight in the water like he'd done it a million times before!  We hung around in the water, walking in circles and standing, then walked in and out.  Then we trotted in and out.  His only issue with the water was getting a little too attached to his buddy, so I took him through one last time going away from his buddy, which he complied and trotted in/out by himself.

Soonie loves water!

We left it there on a very good note; the whole experience was very positive and with no drama.  I am very thankful not only for the invitation, but the chance to ride with another person who is not in a hurry.  She wants to do it right; to have a very quiet, positive experience and not allow the horses to feel rushed.  If we had gotten there and one (or both) of the horses was having a bad day, then we probably would have walked around the ground and left it at that.  But both horses were excellent; when there were little greenie issues, we addressed them quietly and didn't allow the horses to get spun up by feeding off of any tension or nervousness on our parts.  Everybody, horses and people, seemed very pleased with themselves and had a good time.  Such a great day and such a great first experience for Soonie and his friend.

Then I got home after a very long, hot day and realized that I was out of SNACKS.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Nap Time, All The Time

Today was our first flat/dressage school at the new place, since yesterday's intro hack went so well.  But of course I showed up at the wrong time, because Sleeps was fast (you guessed it) asleep. Like...OUT. COLD.

This is Not A Drill!
 It's hot out this week, and both Soon and I are anti-heat so basically we both want to curl up in front of a fan and just pass out when it's above 85 degrees.  Which is nothing to our Southern readers, but for us Northern  Just, no.

I went in the stall and normally that wakes him up, but today there were Zero Fucks Given.  I actually had to work a little bit to get him going.


I took advantage of the coma to take this super flattering photo of Nap Lip and post it on the Internet
So I eventually got him woken up enough to come out on the crossties, but 30 seconds afterward he did the "But I have to peeeeeeee" pose and we went right back in the stall for him to do his thing.  He even peed slow for Heaven's sake.  Draaaaaaaagged him back out on the crossties and he assumed The Position.

In which he can't even stand on three or more legs

You would never have guessed this horse just got to the farm...we did actually managed to gain enough consciousness not only to walk outside, but to actually trot and canter with all four legs going in the same direction in some semblance of forward and swinging.  It was a short ride and not great on our Scale of Awesomeness, but good enough all things considered.  I swear the whole time we were walking and trotting he was just saying:

After our somewhat awake!canter, we took another quick stroll and enjoyed the scenery before I hosed him down multiple times and put him away in front of his fan.  He was happy to return to his hay now that his coma was over and his slumber had been sufficiently interrupted. Good day. :)

Pretty.  Pretty sleepy.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

New Barn, First Ride

Soonie and I went for a hack around the property today.  It's lovely and going to allow us to do a lot in the way of introducing cross-country obstacles and general hacking awesomeness.

Lots of space and lots of jumps to play on!

So handsome looking up the hill

Trail head!  We have woods for the hot days!


We got to play on the baby banks a little bit, just at the walk, and we started at the smallest section.  He was a little unsure going up and down the first time, but he answered the question correctly and I praised the snot out of him.  After a couple of ups and downs off the most baby bank, we walked up and down the next larger one with zero hesitation and we left it at that.  I don't expect those will be an issue once he grasps the concept and gets confident.  The GREAT part about both the bank complex and the little coffin jumps is that I can bring him out there and lunge him over them to help him figure it out before we ride it.

Walking around with all the different XC jumps around, including little farm stands and log cabins, tire jumps and Trakehners, I could hardly contain myself.  These are fantastic introductions and will set him up well for future XC schools.  We found something new and fun around every corner.  I haven't been able to jump out of the ring in years, so I was like a kid in a candy store walking around and looking at all the fun surprises! 

 While emotionally I was bouncing around at all the cool new jumping toys, Soonie was strolling along like it was no big deal.  Which is great, because he was relaxed while I was freaking out...

He was about this excited the whole time


More baby jumps

"This is mine, and this is mine..."
The owner and the staff already seem to love him, they're showering him with treats and compliments about how great looking and what a gentleman he is (horsey is well behaved, check one off the "want to be a good boarder" checklist!).  He went out in his new field last night, with three other geldings.  The other guys appear to be more of the quiet/laid-back, submissive types and that's how Soon was before any mare drama, so we were all hoping this would be a good fit.  The report from last night was positive, and when I helped turn the group out this evening, everybody looked like they were getting along famously.  Happy, relaxed, all over each other with zero drama.  We're only 24 hours into this new chapter, but I could not be happier.  :)

New digs!
Saying hello to Fellow

Bubba and Fellow

Fellow, Soonie, and Reggie

Trip Report!

Soonie and I are back home!  The trip went perfectly and Bubba settled into his new home like an absolute champ.   I got up and went to the barn first thing in the morning to load up his gear...speaking of which, I have way too much shit.  I brought a carload worth of my stuff home the weekend before, and I had guessed that I could fit all of Soonie's things (with the exception of his feed bins) in my car with the remaining personal items of mine.

Yep so that didn't happen at all.  I had way more personal stuff than I originally thought, so Soonie's tack trunk and two feed bins had to ride in the rig (which was fine because he was the only horse on the trailer).  The World's Best Shipper arrived right on time at 9am and Bubba (who is ever the professional) walked straight on the trailer and was ready to roll.  No calling, no pawing, no shenanigans of any kind, he just stood there patiently waiting for us to get on the road.  Then I got to stare at his beautiful rear end for the better part of two hours.

I don't know what's sexier, Soon's ass or this rig

I know now how parents feel watching their kids do something that's somewhat dangerous.  It's tough putting your baby into a metal box on wheels.  They trust us enough to walk on to said metal box on wheels even though it's probably the most unnatural place on earth for a horse to be.  So seeing him the whole trip was somewhat new and very nerve wracking - totally different than being up behind the wheel.  He's a really good shipper; only kicked once when we were first getting going and dealing with several stop signs.  Once we got out of town and rolling, he happily munched on his hay and looked out the window.

I followed along directly behind the trailer driving shotgun - making sure other cars didn't get too close and making space for lane changes.  I take my shotgun driving way too seriously and every time some impatient a$$hat snuck in between my car and the trailer, I looked at Soonie's butt and thought...

And then they crept up way too close to the trailer I actually said (because the driver in the other car can totally hear me)...

And when they don't back off immediately I just wanted to go all this guy on them...


...But I didn't because I'm a good person and just sat there hating them silently or maybe whispering graphic obscenities under my breath until we hit a passing zone and they got off my horse's ass.

World's Best Shipper and I arrived exactly on time to the new farm.  Soonie stepped quietly on the trailer, looked around, and immediately started eating grass.  We walked part way down the drive and let him take in some of his surroundings for a few minutes before I put him in his new stall (with practically a whole bale of hay sitting in it) and returned the trailer to unpack his things.  I brought him out shortly thereafter for a little walkabout - we strolled around part of the farm perimeter and stopped so he could eat when he felt like it.  He was incredibly relaxed and seemed very content.  Again, very professional with zero shenanigans.  He just calmly walked around with me like he had lived there for years.  He ate and drank well, and overall seemed to adjust very quickly and as well as (better than) I could have hoped.  He's an easy going horse, is used to going places, and it shows.  I am completely thrilled and very proud of him!

Yay good boy!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Greatest Moments, Big and Small

Yesterday I watched as American Pharoah galloped into the history books as the 12th horse to ever win the Triple Crown. After 37 years, many believed it was no longer possible.  He defied logic and science and did something we may not see again in our lifetime.

I admit I was almost beside myself with excitement when he came around the final turn and drew away from Frosted at the top of the stretch.  There was a wave of joy, of energy, of relief, of pure astonishment at this horse's performance.  He looked like he was out for a morning gallop, easing toward the finish line, while the rest of the field was running backward.  All this from a horse that seems to be a quiet, people-pleasing lap dog when not romping around the track.  Remarkable.  I am so happy for his racing connections, who seem to be forever humbled by this accomplishment, and I'm also excited for the horse world.  What a day.  What a horse!

Meanwhile...Soonie and I are packed up and ready to move back down the road.  My assignment is over, and we're headed back home to start the next chapter in our lives.  Our barn family up here put on a great going-away cookout on Friday night.  The way to my heart is food, by the way.  Especially food on the grill.  So that was pretty great, and it saddens me to leave a small, but great group of people.

Soon has had some rain rot issues on his hind legs, which blew up a few days ago and I've been working like crazy to get his legs cleaned up and down to normal.  He's looking a lot better and we've taken it very lightly on the riding the last few days as a result.  But he was good enough today to jump around a little bit, so we took advantage of the beautiful weather for one last opportunity to hop over some sticks.  He was lovely as usual; it's such a blessing to enjoy those nice moments with him.  It's just jumping around some little jumps in our backyard, but it means the world to me, and he makes me so happy.  :)

This. Horse. Is. Incredible.

He really does love his wife

Had a bath and rolled immediately...well played.  I'm going to miss this scene.

Fingers crossed that the move goes well again.  Here's to a new chapter.