Monday, 30 October 2017

Shiraz is Back!

Some decisions just weigh on you. When I finally decided to look for help with Shiraz in her training, at first I was excited but that all soon was replaced with worry.

The little hellion.

First of all, would she be mistreated when I was not there? This is a huge fear knowing that there are trainers in my area that are known for things I would never approve of - such as tying a horse's head to a stirrup and leaving them for hours like that. Some trainers are happy to tell you their training plan while others omit parts for obvious reasons. At the end of the day, no matter how many questions you ask and referrals you get, you can't know what a trainer does when no one is looking.

Morning sunrise missing one horse
Second, would she actually be able to learn much in just two weeks? Really, my initial excitement was quickly replaced with "what if I just wasted $$$ and I still can't canter her?" Even if she comes home having cantered just fine with the trainer, would I then ruin it with not being able to ride enough days of the week to keep it up, or what if I still did not have the courage to ask for canter regardless?

Fall interrupted
You can see I kind of tend to worry a lot. But in my defence I really care a great deal about this horse and I have big plans for the two of us next year.
So, how did it go? Against all the odds that I had come up with in my head, things went great!

During the two weeks I visited her as much as I could just to spend some time brushing her and shoving treats in her face. Shiraz adjusted very well (quite instantly being totally fine with the two other horses) and made it the entire two weeks without a scratch on her. I was able to watch two training rides; one at the end of the first week and then again half way through the second week.

Even though Shiraz had already had a lot of ground work done with her as well as riding walk/trot, the trainer started from scratch with ground work that sounded along the lines of Buck Brannaman style and then began riding first in a western saddle and working in the round pen. She switched to an English saddle at the end of week one and moved to the large arena as well as took Shiraz on trail rides through ditches, along roads and fields a few times.

When I brought her home, I gave her the day to settle back in. She looked frankly overjoyed to be home. She galloped/ate/galloped for a large portion of the afternoon. The next day I could not wait to get out and ride and see how she would be. My arena is a sloppy, muddy mess so I had to take her out to the hay field.
There was no slipping on the lunge line out there so I hopped on and trotted circles for like what seemed forever. She was up and fast but had a much better ability to bend than when she had left for training. She wanted to keep a very close eye on her buddies back at the paddock but otherwise was behaving well. Finally I asked for canter and just with one kiss she gently lifted into a lazy western lope. I changed directions and tried the other lead which went just as well.
And now all the plans can begin. I have two options for training moving forward:
1.  I can begin lessons with my coach from last year at the huge heated indoor.
Great coach that I found very helpful with Savvy last year.
Amazing, huge, heated arena with tons of room to work even when other people are riding.
A bit farther than I like to trailer on a weekly basis.
Pricey. I can only afford a lesson every second week, but could still trailer over and ride on my own the off weeks.
2.  I can start lessons with this trainer who worked on Shiraz.
I bit closer; would shave off 10 minutes each way.
More affordable. Possibly could afford a lesson every week.
Unknown territory for coaching style.
No idea what arena is like or what equipment will be available (for when we start jumping!).
Usually money wins with me, but I had a very good experience with my coach from last year, so I am still not sure. Now that winter has shown up and my riding arena is not usable, I feel the pressure to hurry up and get something arranged.
Some days (mostly winter days) I wish I boarded my horses at a barn with an indoor...(sigh).


  1. That's great news that it went so well, woohoo! I personally would try opinion 2 at first (especially since the training is fresh in the trainer's mind and Shiraz's mind) and then maybe depending on how that's going eventually transition to option 1. Very exciting :D

    1. I'm so relieved! Good point, although I am feeling a bit hesitant. After all, she just made my horse awesome in just two weeks and then I will be on Shiraz, putzing around wrecking all this trainer's great work... :P

  2. she looks lovely, you must be so pleased!! and what a relief to have gotten what you had hoped from the investment! bummer about the sudden onset winter tho ugh (but very pretty photographs!). good luck figuring out your optimal training schedule going forward! i tend to personally do well with a little bit of variety in my coaching and for the past few years have ridden regularly with multiple trainers. you might even find that some combination of your two options could work nicely for your purposes and your pocketbook!

    1. Both would be ideal, but I really would prefer a set schedule. Maybe this new trainer for a while and then once we are more confirmed I could start regular lessons with my old coach. Hmm.

  3. She looks lovely and comfortable and so very sensible! I would lean towards the one who worked with shiraz. I am assuming that you can always switch if it doesn't work out.

    1. Haha, she is lovely, and comfortable, but, kind of? She is mostly laid back but definitely has a teenager brain and can be over-reactive and insecure. I am starting to lean towards giving this new trainer a try short term. You are right, if it does not work out, at least I have a good plan B.

  4. She may be a hellion but that first picture is amazing!

  5. Maybe you could try a mix of both? Or start off with the trainer who just worked with her and then on to the trainer from last year.

  6. How wonderful! Glad to hear this. BTW, stunning photos. As far as lessons, maybe a combo would be best. Best of both worlds. Work with someone who knows the horse well and someone who knows your learning style well. Be open about it and communicate things learned and questions you have with both.