Yeah, I’m behind seeing as this happened um. Two three months ago.
In my defense, I was hoping to get some photos so I waited and then photos never materialized and then I forgot and… well, here we are. Still writing it down to have to look back on.
My barn puts on two schooling HT per year and the spring/summer one is always Father’s Day weekend. We’d had our less than ideal outing to IEA, but had redeemed ourselves in the spring Tim Bourke clinic, so I felt ready (and determined) to go in and get it done.
Spoiler alert: we got it done.
I won’t bore you with the details of riding BN A because it’s just… not interesting, but it was major improvement from previous schooling shows and IEA and we were sitting on a 32.2 to lead Starter (out of 8) after dressage. I’d love to tell you all about our stadium round, but I remember next to none of it. I do know I buried the poor horse at the in to a line and he somehow jumped from essentially underneath but left it up.
I was feeling great going into XC – we were at home, we’d been schooling BN, there was nothing out there he couldn’t pop over easily. We left the startbox and fence 1 (a tiny log) was RIGHTTHERE. I think we actually trotted it because it was so close. Totally fine and then we were cruising. We did the first big loop without any issues, around the back (where Archie was CONVINCED he was jumping the ditch and I actually had to pull him off of it), down the bank, into the water jump field and back towards startbox. Around fence 4, things seemed to ‘click’ and suddenly I could feel him looking for the flags, searching for the next fence. It was an awesome feeling and one I’ve been waiting on from him.
I later actually joked I’m the one person who is THRILLED when my horse tries to run away with me on XC. We came through the finish flags having jumped clear and since I didn’t wear a watch, I could only hope, without any time. Sure enough, there it was – Archie’s first win (my first event win!) and my first FODS at a HT. Did I actually tear up? Maybe.
Arch wasn’t too excited to pose with his blue ribbon (it was dinnertime by now), but he got lots of cookies and scratches. It solidified that he’s here to stay and felt like finally, FINALLY some of our work was really paying off.
Coming off of IEA, I was relatively down about well, everything. I knew I wasn’t ready to give up on Archie, but I was frustrated and tossing around multiple ideas for what to do next. My barn was hosting a Tim Bourke clinic that weekend, but I hadn’t signed up since we’d been doing things back to back for so many weeks. Come Friday, I’m looking over the schedule to see what I might like to audit and I notice one of the juniors is riding in the Starter group… but only Sunday for XC. Long story short, I end up splitting with her and taking her Saturday SJ spot.
Tim asks about each of our horses and how everyone’s been doing (benefit of a clinician who comes multiple times a year, he knows us and our horses) and I tell him how I’m frustrated and even debated selling Archie. With that, we start jumping around – twice over a little crossrail, onto a small vertical and then he adds in a grid.
It started as a low oxer, two strides to bounce ground poles, three strides to a vertical out and built from there, eventually becoming a big (to me!) oxer to bounce crossrails and three to a vertical. He added a course as well, full of twists and turns that plenty of people had issues with, both in our group and in others.
And Archie? I’ll be damned if he didn’t step up and jump around every single fence like an absolute pro. Of course it wasn’t perfect, hello amateur rider on sassy pony, but there wasn’t a single moment of nappy pony attitude. In fact, at the end of the lesson, Tim looks at us (and everyone standing there) and goes, “And you want to sell this horse WHY?”
We all laughed, that knowing, ‘oh you haven’t seen it yet’ laugh. Which somehow turned into, “find her a spot to ride XC tomorrow.” Say what? I was absolutely thrilled with Archie (and myself for RIDING DAMNIT), but knew XC would be the real test.
Turns out, the only spot for me Sunday was in a Novice group, but the nice thing about XC is being able to do similar exercises, changing the fences to appropriate heights. We started with the same exercise, swapping a Starter rolltop for their Novice one, but otherwise everything else the same, including a solid N bank and handful of BN stuff. Wouldn’t you know it, Archie said, “GAME ON” and didn’t put a foot wrong. We ended up jumping nearly all BN that day and he made absolute easy work of it.
Even when we moved out to the bigger field, he tackled a BN half-coffin without a second thought, jumped a BN rolltop into and out of the water and just generally did everything he was asked – happily.
I’m not afraid or ashamed to give myself some credit here: I sat up and rode the damn horse. I took no excuses and told him he was going OR ELSE. But you know what? He never even needed the threat.
I left Sunday with Tim telling me I’d be stupid to sell this horse, that he has great potential and we’re going to be just fine. And even if he hadn’t said that? I felt it. It felt like, well damn, maybe this work is finally paying off. Nothing out there felt big or hard and best of all, it was fun for both of us.
It’s taken me a few days to finish writing about day two of the clinic: cross country day. Between exhaustion (post clinic hangover is a thing), lessons and regular rides, work and trying to put the words together, it ended up being longer than expected. (Not to mention trying to figure out the stupid WordPress/RSS photo issue)
Archie is naturally less experienced on XC and I get more nervous when the jumps get solid – not always the ideal combination. We’ve taken it really slowly though and after schooling at the HHP and our great stadium lesson, I came out feeling ready to rock. I just wanted to jump some starter stuff, nice and easy to get ready for IEA. HAHA.
We started by warming up over a log we’ve jumped quite a bit – but that’s also usually more of a mid-lesson ride vs our warmup fence. Archie was like, “yeah, and?” and popped over like nothing though. We circled over it, turning both ways and it got better and better just with the repetition. Added in some other small Starter stuff we’ve done recently and I was like, alright, okay! I’ve got this!
Annnd then Sharon added in the Grey whiskey barrels (we call it the distillery) – which is a solid BN fence. One I’ve jumped on Doc and Iggy. But definitely have not jumped on Archie. I came down to it the first time and Archie said, “Uh, she doesn’t want to jump it so I’m not going to…” We regrouped and… ran out again. At this point Sharon pointed out it was more of a ‘wanna go to the barn’ thing. The barn was over to our left and the horse kept running out… left. Duh. She had me reevaluate my line so I was jumping it straighter away vs angled towards the barn (essentially if you jumped it perfectly perpendicular, you were heading angled at the barn, but if you changed the angle slightly, they were jumping straight forward out into the field). Voila! A very anti-climatic first BN XC fence! (JK, we got claps and cheers because we have the best barn family ever) Archie is funny; he’ll stop if you aren’t riding confidently and forward, but he’s not afraid. He never really overjumps things huge or even peeks down at them, which is a relief for my out of shape ammie ass.
We went on and Archie schooled all the banks with a yawn – even the bigger N/T one (this will become important later). We practice our bank complex at least once, if not multiple times a week, just walking off and on while hacking out or after lessons. It’s really paid off because the footwork makes sense to him and banks are NBD.
A small course followed – our first log, back around to a BN log pile, the grey whiskey barrels to another set of brown barrels (also a very solid BN fence), a black BN rolltop, the bigger ditch, a small Starter rolltop, the novice bank up, a few strides, down and back over the grey barrels the other direction.
The brown barrels posed a little trouble, mainly because my eyes bugged out, but after some coaching, we jumped them without a problem and he was fantastic for the rest of the course. This horse thinks ditches are the BEST – all the fun of jompies with none of the work. Weirdo, but I’ll take it.
Off to the water we went. I knew Archie had been a pain at the water two weekends ago, so I was prepared for some antics, but he just… strolled in. Pleasantly surprised, Sharon had us walk up the itty bitty bank out of the water (it’s maybe 12″… MAYBE), no problem. Now turn around and just walk right off of it.
HAHAHAHAHA Archie said YALL CAN FUCK OFF NOW.
Commence tantrum of the year. Do I own a horse or a petulant toddler? Don’t answer that. After 20 minutes of progressively worse behavior, Sharon asked if I was okay having one of the juniors get on him. She’s an amazing rider (the one who took him over his first ditch last month), rides Prelim and brings up all kinds of sassy ponies. Um, YES PLEASE. I hate to admit it, but I was more than happy to throw my dumbass horse’s reins at her. (Note: usually I follow the ‘don’t call your horse an asshole, words matter’ perspective, but this? This was my horse being an epic asshole.) He had made up his mind he was NOT GOING DOWN THAT BANK NO MA’AM.
Junior (I’ll call her A, if you’re an Area VIII person, I’m sure you’ll recognize her) worked and worked him. We put every other horse in that field in the water (…again). And finally. Archie said, “I JUST WANTED A POOL PARTY!” and hopped down like he did this every single day. No leap, no Superman antics, nothing. Just meandered right off.
I told you. Asshole.
She finished out the rest of the ride on my (now soaking wet) horse – jumping him around a bunch more BN stuff, including the bank out three stride pheasant feeder combination. He finished looking like he’d just run around Kentucky – SOAKING wet, lathered in sweat. Dude. You did this to yourself…
We’ve spent everyday since lunging in and out of the water on both banks in the water. He now does both our itty bitty one and the larger one on the other side in hand. We’ll find out this weekend if it translated under saddle. It seems once he ‘gets’ something and realizes he has to do it, it seems to click and not be an issue, but oh my god, the drama involved was Oscar worthy.
I can laugh about it now and I’m still super happy with the day and the weekend. I never mind having A school Archie: there’s a lot of value in those confident miles and I’m actually really happy we got to work through this entire issue and tantrum with someone like Sharon. I already can’t wait to see her again at camp in July.
My standing Tuesday evening lesson started mid-winter when I was frustrated and hitting a brick wall. It started as just groundwork, evolved into flatwork and has settled in as my dressage lesson. I give huge credit to having that dedicated time to the improvement Archie and I have seen as a team and the fact that of my three event horses, he’s the one I can consistently keep the connection with the best. This week a friend asked if she could crash and another boarder has been dropping into it when she can, so it became a 6:15pm jump lesson which I was perfectly okay with in preparation for this weekend’s Sharon White clinic.
We warmed up over a small vertical, focusing on keeping the ride quiet and consistent, and from the first steps I could tell Archie came to play today. We had one weird moment where he suddenly stopped being able to function at all, but I pulled him up to see what was happening and realized somehow he’d managed to get a giant chunk of grass… in his eye? I literally do not know how. Issue resolved, we continued on, switched directions and got to work.
Sometime in the last week, they drug the liverpool out under one of the fences. I was 99.8% positive Archie had never seen one before (nor had the other two) so we spent some time just trotting over it by itself. He got ever so slightly looky to it the first time, realized it was boring and proceeded to hop over like nbd each time after. It got set to a starter-ish size vertical and we practiced coming down the line – liverpool to oxer, left handed rollback to a vertical, bending back to the liverpool, left turn back to a vertical, bending back to the oxer – kind of a figure 8 type pattern. From there, around to the two (aka an Archie three) stride, tight rollback to an oxer, bending to a vertical.
I realized this weekend a lot of my nerves come from worrying I can’t ride something. Perfect example: Archie was being an ass on Saturday and needed a reminder that adult, sane horses do not act that way. But my brain was going, as soon as I do that, he’s gonna lay me on my ass. The solution is (obviously) not to let him do whatever the hell he wants – the solution is I have to get stronger to ride the horse.
Archie genuinely loves stadium – the twisty, turny courses suit him so well and keeps his brain moving enough to quiet all the little voices. He was so good that when my trainer asked after our first course how I thought it was, I said I’d dropped my eye in one of my bending lines which dropped the back rail of the oxer, but was otherwise happy and she (not one to hand out compliments) said nevermind that (I wasn’t wrong hah), that she thought it had been great. That he’d been great and I’d come out and rode the horse with direction and instruction from the first stride. I just about fell over. I knew it’d felt good, but great?! I ended up riding the wonky line once more and the course once more in entirety and that was it – the entire lesson. It felt so good to come out and be able to lay down a course like that (might I add a harder course than one would normally find at starter) right off the bat. I just have to come out with my brain ready to say, “let’s go Arch,” and mean it. Weird the way that works, huh?
Which is how I’ve found myself knee-deep in spin and pilates again. Spin is so nice, because with the addition of my bike, I can take a 20 or 30 minute class during lunchtime without the logistical nightmares. Pilates is down the street and hard as fuck, but worth it (please tell this to 16 year old Holly who took pilates as a ‘fun, relaxing easy class’ WTF) for the core strength.
Progress takes time, but I’m excited – twice weekly lessons, the upcoming clinic with Sharon (including XC on Sunday pleasepleaseplease don’t rain please), plus cross training – I feel really good about finally accomplishing my goal to run at IEA in a month (3.5 weeks actually but who’s counting idk). Now to just deal with the smalllllll detail called ‘I forgot to get a hotel room and now they’re all sold out hahahahahaha maybe I can sleep in Archie’s stall with him’. Minor detail, right?
The Hoosier Horse Park, our local show/XC venue (also host to the 1987 Pan Am Games, fun fact) offered open XC schooling this weekend and we took advantage to prepare for IEA Horse Trials at the beginning of next month. They didn’t put a lot of jumps out, but there was water and honestly, plenty of fences for my level (aka THE SMALL SHIT).
We needed to be down there by 8am which meant a 5am alarm clock and being on the road by 6:30am – ouch. Loading was an adventure itself (tl;dr Archie had never been in a straight load, he was awful for 30 minutes and then the mom with us took him, patted his neck and walked him right on at which point he looked at us and went, “What’s the big deal guys?” HORSES.) but soon enough we were on the road, everyone unloaded easily and we got tacked up. Our lesson wasn’t due to start until 9:30 so we decided we’d just go hack around. Archie wasn’t so sure what this giant open field was all about, but after kaleidoscoping his head around, he settled right in and was happy to go hack around.
Due to scheduling I ended up in a lesson with a junior and another amateur from my barn who are both schooling training level so we spent some time watching the ‘big brave horses jump big things’. It was really, really good for Archie’s brain to just be out and about. We made our way to the water complex – it’s a really nice one down there – big shallow entrance, plus banks of every size in and out. We have a small water at home Archie goes in and out of all the time, plus I make him walk through every puddle in our path. Yet, this water? This water was TERRIFYING. We tried to follow other horses in, we had his friends stand in the water, we tried standing next to the water. Arch was not having it. Finally, I ended up getting off and walking him in a few times and it seemed to click in his brain that this was the same thing as at home. Cue facepalm. After that we went in and out about a hundred times. He still tried to be an ass and insist he was afraid about midway through, but guess what, he’s a terrible liar.
From the water, I found some cute starter fences I said I wanted to jump. A little grey coop and a baby hanging rail – we jumped them both individually and then strung them together. For all of Archie’s insistence he had no idea what he was doing earlier that day, when it came to jumping he went, “Yawn, this?” and loped around all of them. This horse is wildly frustrating sometimes and then 10 minutes later he’ll be perfect. Humbling sport, that’s for sure.
We finished the day with another little coop over on the backside (near the old water, for those familiar) and finally, with another one set two strides off a little hill/path through the woods. We jumped them both ways and this damn horse didn’t put a foot wrong. With that we called it a day – Archie had jumped a grand total of 5 fences, probably about 12 efforts and was soaked like he’d just run prelim, but that’s what happens when you a) insist on being a drama llama and b) are a little… rotund at the moment.
I came off course having gone through a rollercoaster of emotions – everything from ‘f this, I should sell him’ to ‘wow, he’s going to be so fun next month!’ but two days later I can say we’re going to be just fine. It’s hard to go from a horse like Iggy, who had totally been there-done that, gone Training, etc. to Arch, who I still have to remember had never been offsite XC schooling before Saturday and has XC schooled maybe seven? eight? times total. We’re going to IEA next month with zero pressure. If we get down there and can do a dressage test? Awesome. If we feel good enough to jump stadium? Super. If we can hold our brain together in XC warmup? Great! If we jump one XC fence? That’s an accomplishment. We’re going for the experience, not the show record or ribbons. The more experiences and repetition we get, the better we’ll be. Once upon a time, Doc and Iggy and every other horse I’ve ridden was green on XC too. The only way it gets better is practice. Summer of XC schooling it is.
My barn does nearly monthly schooling shows throughout show season. They’re super useful because my trainer sets legit courses and brings in “R” and “r” judges who also regularly judge at recognized USEA events in our area. Add in they’re at home (no hauling!) and extremely affordable – it’s a great way to get some atmosphere and school before heading to recognized events.
Our second of the season was Saturday, so I signed up to do a Green as Grass (18″/crossrails) round and another at Starter. We’ve consistently been jumping Starter height at home (or even BN!), but I knew with some additional atmosphere, Archie could be a little worked up and figured a quick jaunt around the small stuff would be confidence building for both of us.
We had early ride times and he was definitely a little ‘up’ (…for Archie. Being up means we walked around really fast snorting for like a solid 3 minutes before realizing that was a lot of work) so I tried to give him a nice, relaxed warmup and went for a long walk around the farm away from the busyness as much as possible. By the time we went down centerline, he was about as relaxed as I felt I was going to get him that morning. He held it together for 97% of the test and it was definitely one of the best we’ve had (of a sample size of like 4 but whatever).
He had one sassy moment in our first canter circle where he “bucked” (nobody tell him he can’t actually buck very well), I trotted too soon after the walk work (brain fart) and he got a little antsy in our second trot circle with a few strides where he broke to the canter, but other than those, I was honestly so proud and happy of the little guy. Our trot work was worlds better than the last time we did this test and almost as good as its been in lessons, our canter work was some of the absolute best canter we’ve had and he even *drumroll* had his ears up for most of my test. Showoff wants an audience apparently.
I was absolutely gleeful with a 35 (a 65% for you dressage people). A 35 with two big mistakes that are easy to resolve? I’ll take that all day. Those are easy points to pick back up, plus some smaller ones (ahem, where did that nice square halt disappear to Archie?) and for a horse who has been doing dressage really only since January.
Our stadium rounds were great (minus the moment he decided to jump a crossrail like it was 2’6″… wtf dude and deciding to start our Starter round on the wrong lead despite having auto changes) – double clears and the one at Starter he was absolutely fantastic. Even when I didn’t see a distance and shoved an extra stride in down the outside line, oops. There was a really tight rollback and he said, “game on” and got it done like it was a piece of cake.
We took our nice jaunt around the 18″ division XC fences and he was great, although I expected nothing less seeing as we walk over most of those jumps multiple times a week on hacks. (We ended up 2nd so we did bring home a pretty ribbon) Our Starter round started fine – popped over a little log we schooled a few weeks ago, we were coming to a little slatted table and all of a sudden… the front of my horse disappeared out from under me. Somehow Arch had tripped (?) and he fell hard – my trainer happened to be almost right there jump judging and she said his face was practically on the ground. I slid off right over his head and landed basically sitting down. It was an incredibly slow motion, gentle fall and I landed still holding his reins. Archie stared at me in confusion for a minute, wondering what the hell I was doing down there. I was (and am) completely fine – I’ve fallen harder tripping over stuff on my own feet, but wanted to make sure he was okay. He had grass on his legs, but seemed to be no worse for wear. Honestly nobody knows how he did it – the ground wasn’t slick, he doesn’t wear shoes, nobody could find a hole or anything, so we’ve just chalked it up to a freak ‘forgot I had four legs’ kinda thing. I got back on (schooling shows woohoo) and jumped around a few fences in warmup and then between divisions, popped over a few small XC fences just to end on a positive note.
I went out and checked him yesterday and he’s totally fine, not a bump or bruise, so it doesn’t seem to have done any damage. We went for a nice long walk/trot hack before he got rinsed off and stuffed with more cookies.
It wasn’t the ending I really wanted, but that’s horses and life – and I’m glad it happened at home vs at a bigger (more expensive) venue. This upcoming weekend we’ll head to the Hoosier Horse Park to school XC (and peek in on Jen and Karen showing at the IDS show!), the weekend after Sharon White will be here for a clinic and then a few weeks later, we’re entered to go down to show at IEA Horse Trials! Kicking off a busy summer and I’m excited to see how everything goes with the PartyPony!
Do you still count as a blogger if you blog… once a month? Cause that’s where I’m at these days. Instagram is so much easier, sue me.
We had our first XC school of the season last weekend. I went in a little nervous, after all, we didn’t have a great XC experience last fall, but my trainer reassured me we’d put the work in over the winter and would be fine. What do you know… it was better than fine. Archie was actually outstanding.
Usually on XC lesson days we go right out to the field, but this day she chose to have us warm up over some stadium fences. It was really good for me – everything in the ring was still set at tiny crossrails from the itty bitty pony lesson before me so I used them as ground poles warming up while my trainer raised everything. Once she was done, she pulled us over and gave us some instructions and I got my first look at the fences and went, “UHHHH those look GIANT.” She basically shrugged and said, “they’re just BN size.” Oh, BN like I haven’t jumped since uh, last August? On a different horse? (She did tell me she’s snuck a few into my lessons recently but I haven’t decided if I believe her) Even if we have done one here or there, we definitely haven’t jumped right in at that height without starting smaller before.
Essentially, I was told, “sit up, it’s only 3″ higher, it’s not going to make a difference in his jump or anything else, you’ll be fine.” And… it wasn’t. Archie was FREAKING FANTASTIC and after a circle over two fences a few times to start, she had us do a small course and he was right there every step. It felt SO SO SO good to be back at height for the first time since Iggs!
We moved out to the field and warmed up over some small stuff – about a 2′ log and some green as grass stuff (like 18″) just to get MY head in the game. My goal for the day was GAG jumps and maybe a starter jump or two. After all, starter is where I fell off last fall.
Well, didn’t need to worry about THAT. Archie was freaking GAME and we ended up jumping a bunch of starter fences, including a stairstep, a small blue table and a whole variety of banks, and we actually even popped over a BN fence or two. He never took a peek, he just came out all business and we had so much fun. He’s really starting to learn how to open his stride up in our conditioning work, so I let him open up between fences (it was pretty flowy back and forth across fields) and he was right there with me.
After I finished up, I asked one of the juniors to pop him over his first ditch. I didn’t think there would be any issues, but sometimes they jump them like they’re horse eating holes and I wanted his first time to be no big deal. This junior has two horses at Prelim and a handful of sassy ponies she rides at BN/N so I knew she would be perfect for Archie. He absolutely was – he did jump the ditch a little big the first time, but never even thought about stopping or going around. They jumped it back and forth a few times and she added in a BN jump or two as well. He got nothing but praise from her and she offered to even take him around some Novice stuff. It felt pretty damn cool for everyone to think this sassy little QH could hop around Novice sooner than later. His mom, not so much, but it’s fun to know that’s the horse under me.
I came home and spent the next few days basically sending Emily videos going “OMG THATS MY HORSE?!?!?!” We’re signed up to do a CT the first weekend of May, school at HHP the second weekend and then Sharon White is back the third weekend. I’m just beside myself with excitement for this year with the PartyPony.
I was pumped to see we’d been moved up to a ‘big kid’ lesson this weekend on the schedule – by which I mean, riding with my friend Lindsey who spent last season consistently at BN. Archie has been going awesome and I’ve been leaving the barn thrilled, so this felt like an accomplishment with some of our winter work paying off.
Sure enough, it did. Saturday was sunny, 70 degrees, so basically my perfect day and Archie was freaking ON IT the entire lesson. In front of my leg, bending, I’d basically think something and he was right there with me and totally game. It was easily the best lesson we’ve ever had. An aside, when you’re 15.1h and have short legs and still improving doing the actual strides is… hard. We’re pros at the add. And the double add (raise your hand if you’ve put 4 in a 2 stride HI HELLO WHATS UP).
But Saturday everything was coming up awesome, so when we landed off a vertical, he was in front of my leg, I asked for more and he gave it to me, I was like, “Oh hell yeah, we’re gonna actually do one in the one stride!” We landed off the vertical, I pushed a little past the distance, let my shoulders get in front of me and Archie took a peek, my balance went wonky and he turned away… and I landed on the standard. Damnit.
I was dizzy, but otherwise fine, but nobody was gung ho on letting me get back on, so luckily Lindsey hopped on him and took him around a few fences to finish. He came through that one stride and BLASTED off the ground. My fall was just a mistake – he wasn’t bad, it wasn’t dirty, none of the above. Mostly I was mad that such an awesome lesson and course finished like THAT.
I opted to join a Sunday lesson too; normally I wouldn’t jump both days, but I knew for my own mental state I needed to get back on and jump around vs sitting for a week before my next lesson. Of course, it went from 70 and sunny on Saturday to 40, overcast and so windy they had to hold some of the standards up… super pleasant Sunday.
We started with circling over two verticals and then progressively added in to do a full course . Wouldn’t you know, this horse stepped up like nothing had happened at all the previous day and popped around in the horrendous wind like a seasoned little dude. He had every right to be ~sPiCy~, but seriously just took care of me. Including where we tripped a stride out from a vertical, he had every right to slam on the brakes, but I floated the reins and he hopped over like a freaking short stirrup pony.
I know I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how proud I am of Archie the past few weeks, but damn. This horse is not the same horse who stepped off the trailer in August, wide eyed and distrustful. Our slow and steady has started to pay off and he’s downright fun these days. I’m excited to hopefully get out and show this year, but honestly, it would be a bonus, not the goal. He’s a little quirky, a lot goofy and he’s turning into the horse I saw peeks of on that video seven months ago. My trainer has even remarked how different he is and the fact that I’m riding him like a completely different horse too. Some of that is trust bank, some of that is a relationship we’ve built and some is Archie stepping up to be the horse I knew he could be.
It’s back up to 60 and sunny today (seriously THIS STATE WTF INDIANA) and should hang out here the rest of the week, so he’ll get today off, we’ll have our regular Tuesday dressage lesson and hopefully some fun hacking the rest of the week. Spring is here and the party pony is coming out of hibernation.
Spring has stuck around and with it has come the return of outdoor jump lessons. Saturday’s was fantastic, although we had a rocky start. See, to get from the barn to the outdoor, we have to walk through a regular man door. Archie has taken extreme offense to this specific door for months – he is CONVINCED it is a portal to hell. We’ve mostly conquered this fear until this last weekend where I managed to pretty much reinstall the ‘demons live here’ by accident.
We were walking out to our lesson and as I was going through the doorway, I tripped – really just stumbled because I am Very Bad at walking. No big deal, except I caught myself… on his rein. Meaning as poor Arch is walking through this doorway he already has lingering trauma with, his mom YANKS on his rein for no reason. He jumps forward, convinced this is The End and pulls away from me. A little freaked out and now loose, he decides to tour the farm solo. When I caught up to him, I was greeted by this:
Oh yes, he managed to break not only my reins (in two places), but also the cheekpiece on my nice Antares figure 8. I was not very happy. Am not very happy?
So, shopping I go for reins (should be easier than it is, but COB LENGTH) and and a new bridle. This is like when your parents go “Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, Happy Valentines Day, Easter, Arbor Day for the next six years.”
I’m almost afraid to say it out loud, but it feels like… spring? (We almost always get a shot of second winter, so I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but OMG it was 68 degrees yesterday OKAY). I went ahead and body clipped Archie last week because he was starting to get really sweaty on our rides and I am nothing if not lazy.
He was a little perturbed about getting a bath at 55 degrees, but hot water and a cooler and some bribery and he decided he’d cooperate. Of course, midway through his hindquarters my clipper blades (brand new ones) decided to just.. stop cutting? They were running and kind of cutting a tiny bit of hair, but mostly just grabbing it and not doing anything. In my desperation to try to get them to work poor Archie ended up with a rather, uh, checkerboard hind end. Less than ideal, but I was able to clean it up (more or less) with a new blade and whatever, it’s hair and it will grow out.
We took full advantage of the nice weather and have been riding outside. My trainer/BO is still down in Pine Top, so Saturday a few of us set a jump course and decided to play around. We had a handful of lines, crossrails mixed in with starter size and a few BN verticals, so perfect for getting sea legs back. Archie and I hadn’t jumped since the end of January and even before that, we’d spent the last four months stepping everything down to teeny tiny size to build our trust bank. We’ve been starting to add a little height back in and have been jumping starter stuff inside, but hadn’t jumped outside since the fall.
I definitely did not need to be worried – all our trust bank deposits have paid off and he was so happyto go jump around and play outside in the sunshine. It wasn’t perfect; I picked some highly questionable distances, made less than ideal decisions and generally lived up to my amateur title, but he never batted an eye. He did throw one tiny buck but it was coming off a vertical and absolutely a celebration more than anything (also he doesn’t really know how to buck and we’re going to keep it that way). I am absolutely beyond proud and happy with my little red pony.
Typically Monday is his day off, but yesterday was almost 70 so I ended up taking the day off work and headed out to ride in the afternoon. After four days in a row, I figured he might be a little sluggish or tired and was just going to walk around the big XC field. Archie, on the other hand, had other plans. He was AMPED (okay, as amped as a QH can be) and we ended up trotting and cantering around for 15 minutes until that became too much work.
Otherwise we’ve been hacking out, starting to add some conditioning work back in (although apparently unneeded…) and hopefully some jump (and XC?!) lessons soon.