Thursday, 9 November 2017

A + B = C

If C = a fun 2018 summer at XC events with Shiraz, then A = hard work and B = time...right?
Baby Shiraz. Smoochable nose from day one :)
We all know bringing along a baby horse is never as easy as simple algebra, but having a plan and seeing it work with Savvy gives me hope. With phase one of the grand plan accomplished (get Shiraz officially green broke w/t/c), I am moving on to phase two which is to start trailering for arena time and lessons.

Ah, but can you solve this?
Although having this horse in my life since she was just six months old, being on her back and learning who she is as a riding horse is a whole new adventure for us. She's no longer a baby, wandering crookedly trying to figure out why dis human is on her back. Her understanding is still extremely basic, but she now shows a better understanding of this is what humans do and shows a bit more confidence in knowing some of the answers.

Sitting on Shiraz and asking her to horse kind of still feels a bit surreal. She miraculously learnt A LOT in her short stint away at the trainer's and my brain needs to catch up to this new level of ability. I can ask and expect more from her but at the same time I am struggling with not 'knowing' her under saddle. Now that real work is happening I can find out the finer details that just were not showing up in the gradual low-pressure training I had been doing with her this past summer.

Maybe I roll? - Shiraz, many times
Her rides now can be more structured with longer, more focused work. How does she react when she doesn't understand? How far can I push her and what are her go-to behaviours/responses?

I am also just taking note of simple things like what is her easier side? How easy is it to get her straight/bend and what does she tend most towards? And then there are the more subtle things that you feel from a horse like what their back feels like when they are tense versus relaxed.

It is all just so new and I am having quite a bit of fun figuring it all out.

Having a look at jumps we will be using in the somewhat near future!
Now that there is frozen, snowy ground in my backyard, it is time to start trailering out for riding. Our first outing was to the large heated arena. I planned this outing to be a simple introduction to the place and made a plan to proceed as far as felt comfortable. I just took my time with letting her see the place, getting acquainted with the mechanical overhead door opening and closing. I started with leading her around inside and setting a tone for the session. I wanted to show her she can have a brief look at things but her main focus must be on me and rewarded her for staying attentive. I did my best to give her a purpose in all areas of the arena so she could indirectly check out her surroundings without any of it being allowed to be a big deal.

Once I felt like she was settled and ready to work, I saddled her up and began lunging. I wanted the experience to be quiet and relaxed to establish a good first experience for her. I made sure the lunging had plenty of transitions, tons of walk as well as halt and stand quietly for well-earned breaks (and of course stuffed her face with carrots for being such a good girl).

"This place has no 'winter'. I like it." Me too Shiraz, me too.
By the end of lunging she was downright lazy. So really what could I do but hop up and ride?! I kept it all in the centre of the area, away from the automatic door and scary far-off corners, but seriously I was just being over cautious because at this point, everyone had left and I was alone in the arena. I didn't want to push for too much on my first ride in the indoor without eyes on the ground.

I kept it to about a 60-meter circle doing walk/trot and focusing on forward, correct bend and not nagging. I discovered (like with all of my previous horses) she was far less forward in the arena than at home. I also could start to sort out some details about her way of going in working gaits. She felt quite stiff and a bit anxious going right. Going left was fantastic though and it was almost easy to get her shoulders where I wanted and a lovely soft bend off of inside leg to outside rein.

And (*gasp*) riding!
My hour there seemed to fly by. I just wanted to keep going because Shiraz was being so fantastic and it was so much fun to be riding her.

My plan for the next little bit is to trailer over a few more times and ride on my own (if my truck cooperates b/c engine lights are worrisome and putting a sticker over it so I can't see it doesn't seem like a long-term solution) and then start lessons with my coach from last year. I did try to arrange lessons with the girl who worked with Shiraz, but after leaving two messages with the barn manager to get permission to trailer in there, I have still not heard back. I haven't given up on that though and will try to get something arranged, even if it is just for a couple of lessons because the more places I can take Shiraz, the better right?


  1. Is the answer 16? I think it's 16

  2. She is so pretty. I'm glad taht she's doing well with her training. Maybe if you drive to the barn you can speak to the BM directly?

    1. Umm, maybe. Ugh shiness might be an issue though...

  3. So excited for you to start this new journey with Shiraz! Slow steady and methodical counts for so much with horses!

    1. I know it is so exciting!! And she handled all the new things really. I think having everything super planned out helps me be calm and focused which helps the horse so much.

  4. I got 16 A’s well.

    She is such a beautiful creature. Give her a pet for me.

    1. You got it right :) Yes she beautiful, to me anyways.