Thursday, July 20, 2017

Trail Ride Train Wreck

So many interesting (fun?) things to write about but I've been so crazy busy I haven't gotten around to it!

First up, last Sunday, Trask and I had our first trail ride together. He has been on trails before with the trainer, JM, who started him almost a year ago, but I don't think he has since then. Because of that I wanted to go with people for our first time and KP said she'd go with me. She just got her horse, Rogue (Trask's half brother) gelded so he is out of commission for a bit, so she needed a horse to ride. So she invited trainer JM to come with us so that he could bring her a horse. He came with his two stallions, one of whom is 6 years old, and since his niece was visiting, gave her the ride on his dependable gelding Duncan and KP got to ride the older stallion.

Pre-ride ciders for the pony
Apparently he loves cider. A lot.


I really like JM, he's a great trainer and rider but I should always remember how crazy our rides together always go! His horses are VERY hot and VERY fancy upper level horses and VERY big. He hadn't ridden the young stallion in a while and I have never seen a hotter horse I think. Plus he's giant. Like 17.2 hands I think. Anyways, KP and I hauled Trask out to the trails and met JM there. We tacked everyone up, which included the "Great Booting" since all the horses are barefoot. Between boot collections of KP, JM and mine, we managed to fit boots on all four horses. Trask stood very well tied to the trailer (which couldn't have been said of some other horses *cough* baby stallion *cough*).

Everyone hopped on and away we went with baby stallion charging ahead at the front, followed by KP on the more mature and manageable stallion, with Trask and Duncan bringing up the rear. It was an exciting start.

What followed was the most insane trail ride of my life. I felt bad for poor baby Trask, but now that we survived that experience, I am confident we can survive any other experience we can throw at him.

Apparently I should have drank more of the cider instead of Trask and maybe I would've been more relaxed!


It was basically baby stallion trotting or cantering back and forth and back and forth in an effort for JM to get him to chill out. Trask was second in the line since he absolutely hated being in the back of the group. Then KP on the other stallion. She was feeling a little nervous about being on the stallion since he was not putting up with baby stallion's antics and he's a very strong horse. He was being perfectly behaved, but she ended up walking for a while. And reliable Duncan, literally a saint of a horse, bringing up the rear with his rider who couldn't steer or stop.

Trask got extremely worried when baby stallion got too far ahead of the group, complete with cantering in place and feeling like a bomb ready to go off. We had just reached the top of a hill, about an hour into our ride, at a place where we could either go around the long loop or just turn around and go back. JM wanted to keep going - he was having a blast on his fire breathing dragon of a horse (like I said, he's a great rider and seriously nothing could rattle or unseat him. Ever.) but KP was having a mini panic attack and was like "nope, we're going back" and turned around and led the way down the hill. (I think this was a fantastic choice)

The ride back down was much better for the most part, we were able to spend most of it on a loose rein. Trask was confident enough at this point to lead the group. Minus a few hilarious spooks, one when he stepped on a cruchy leaf and all four feet left the ground and then later when he stepped on a branch that lifted up and he teleported about five feet to the left and I landed on his neck. At one point JM got very far ahead of the group and Trask was having a come-apart about this. There was a cliff to our left and he started skittering left, completely ignoring my aids to move in the opposite direction. I let out a strangled yelp and JM turned back quickly, seeing what was happening, to come give Trask some company.

I seriously saw my life flash before my eyes. I thought we were going over the cliff.

After that, KP and I led the group with our horses side by side. They seemed to get along well, and JM and his niece brought up the rear. It ended with us nearly at the end and a mountain biker zooming past up. I heard a commotion as baby stallion spooked at the biker behind us, saw the biker coming for us and leaped off Trask. That was all I needed was for him to be surprised by a rude biker coming up his butt at a fast pace!

I seriously have not had a more rude experience with a biker. Every one (and I've encountered a ton since I trail ride a bunch) have usually either hopped off their bikes and waited for us to pass, walked their bike past us, or called out and asked if our horses were ok to pass. It's just common courtesy. Luckily, Trask only glanced at the biker since I had him tucked behind his new stallion friend.

The ride ended uneventfully and KP and I were stunned that we survived the chaos. Baby stallion is now permanently banned from future rides since we don't want to test our luck at not dying ...

I was extremely proud of how Trask handled that environment. It was utter chaos and while we had some spooks and scary moments, I cannot blame him for feeding off of that crazy energy. I think we will be absolutely ok to ride by ourselves in the future, and I definitely prefer being alone to that crazyness!

Other random pictures:

In other news we had a lovely evening ride a few nights ago!


KP was kind enough to buy him a fancy new halter so he didn't have to wear the purple halter of shame

Weirdo loves just holding the stirrup iron in his mouth...


Monday, July 10, 2017

Lucky He's Cute

I ended up taking Trask to our first show together yesterday! It was... interesting to say the least.

I was pretty sure that it was going to be an interesting show with my lack of preparation. I've had Trask for a month and had maybe 10-12 rides on him with school and being gone so I was kind of on the edge about whether or not it was a good idea to go to the show or not.

Pre-show lunge




We just did Intro A and B since our canter is still pretty iffy. My one goal was to stay on!

Of course the best show prep is to not ride for two days beforehand, right? I gave Trask a bath on Saturday night and loaded up the trailer, but didn't have time to clean any tack or anything. Sunday morning dawned wayyy too early, though it helped that I didn't really sleep the whole night before. Horse shows on 4 hours of sleep are super fun!

I braided Trask as soon as I got to the barn - at least we were going to look good even if we did awfully!

I was pretty happy with my 10 minute rubber band braids


Once we got to the show I tied Trask to the trailer with his hay bag and then went into the tack room to start getting my tack. A piece of paper blew out of the tack room and spooked him, he set back and broke both his halter AND his lead rope before going for a nice jaunt around the property. That was such a fun way to start a show - 20 minutes of chasing a horse around the giant field and getting myself a very large blister in the process. I was not pleased.

We had nearly no warm-up after I caught Trask. Luckily I had an extra halter and a lunge line in the trailer to replace all our broken tack... We had 15 minutes to tack up, get on, and memorize our test. We had a quick walk-trot in the warm-up arena (after convincing Trask that the large blue flappy-tarp building was not going to eat him).

Our test went about in the same vein... the judges booth was absolutely terrifying (after all, they have all those horse eating papers in front of them!) and I didn't have enough time to convince him otherwise. Our test was tense and while mostly obedient (save the judges both), we were not accurate in the least.

We had just a couple minutes before our next ride so I quickly memorized the next test and again only had a couple minutes to trot around warm-up and convince Trask that some sort of softness would be nice. Our next test was much nicer. Still tense, with some nice giraffe moments of looking through the arena windows and whinnying at the other horses, but overall much better and there was only one little spook at the judges booth in one direction.

After our test we had a nice real ride in the outdoor, complete with cantering. It was nice to get Trask around other horses since we tend to only ride alone. Plus he came to terms with the scary blue tarp building so it wasn't all bad.



Overall, it was an interesting show. Not great, but it could have been worse. We got some nice comments from the judge, even managing to get a 63% in our second class which is respectable. Now we have more stuff to work on (can you say desensitizing to paper?!) and someone is now the proud new owner of a rope halter for practicing standing tied.

Hopefully we'll get a chance to redeem ourselves next month, schooling dressage shows are few and far between right now, but we are going to find some sort of show to make it to again!

Only "real" photo of us we had since I failed to sign up for pictures. He's so lucky he's cute!!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Still Alive

Wow, it's been busy around here. And it's been forever since I posted!

Last I wrote, I was heading into finals week. I successfully passed everything, even earning myself a place on the Dean's List! That was a goal for this year, to get on it at least once. I never really thought about it in undergrad because I was always on it without even trying. But vet school is WAY harder and I kinda thought I'd never do well enough to get there. So I was super excited to get the letter!

I am now officially one half of a vet. I think that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel, but I'm not sure yet. Third year is going to be fun and terrifying all at the same time as we actually get to do surgery.

In my last post, I wrote how excited I was to leave my old barn. Not even close to how happy I was on Sunday when I bailed Jetta out of there after the barn owner went full psycho sleeze-ball on me. I tried to write up a post about it but it made me so mad, so hopefully I can calm down a bit to write about what happened. It was a complete fiasco.

Home and happy. Jetta very rarely rolls!

I am so glad Jetta is happily at my parent's house where she has a big 12x20' stall complete with deep bedding, attached run and large paddock. She always has clean water, nice orchard grass hay and we recently started feeding her alfalfa which she thinks is the BOMB. She absolutely loves the alfalfa, even preferring it to her grain. She's never been fed it before so it's going to be a rude shock to her when I take her off of the alfalfa after baby is weaned! AND THERE'S LESS THAN 27 DAYS LEFT!!!

That pregnancy glow


I have seriously been having nightmares about this baby. I had one the other night that it was still born which was depressing. And I had another last night where the wrong semen was used and we got a buckskin welsh pony... not exactly what I ordered lol.

And Trask has been doing great. He's a good baby, still with some baby moments, but he's so mature for a four year old most of the time. I didn't ride him for over a week and when I got back it was like I never left.



I had the best ride on him today. He's an interesting horse, not in a bad way, but he's still really figuring things out. When I saw him being ridden a year ago, he really liked to be behind the vertical and I was worried he might be afraid of contact. Luckily, this is not the case, but he still really wants to go BTV but he's just trying to figure out what you want out of him, you just need to push him forward and he'll come back up to vertical. He's happy to take contact and he doesn't get heavy on the bit. I think part of the problem is that the person riding him was afraid to push him forward and did a lot of holding instead. My first ride on him KP told me that I couldn't put my leg on and hold him with my hands because he'd get really claustrophobic and freak out.
 
We even rode outside!


And while that was initially true, I think we're working through that. He's not a hot horse in the slightest - really he's in that ideal middle range of being forward but not hot but not lazy either - so I have no problem letting him go forward and now that he knows that, I can even use a strong half-halt to get him paying attention when he's thinking about spoooking and we can resume business as normal without him getting claustrophobic.

Our canter is still not very strong, I can't blame him too much because his haunches are a good 3 inches taller than his withers right now! I really need to measure him, I hope he'll finish out around 16 hands! I figured out that posting on the inside (wrong) diagonal really helps him get the correct lead so it's a work in progress.



The main thing I need to do is gain his trust. He's not really sure that humans are trust worthy, though he doesn't dislike people, he's a bit afraid he's gonna get in trouble and KP thinks that the trainer was mean to him so he just needs someone to be nice to him. He's a sweet horse with a good work ethic but I think getting him to trust me will get him so much farther.

Today's fun trust lesson was clippers. KP has only drugged him to be clipped since he's afraid of them and offered to do the same for me. I'd rather not use chemical restraint as a training tool, though I know many people who do and it works for them which is just fine, but I've always been able to teach my horses to be clipped head to toe with no restraints whatsoever, so there's no excuse that a baby can't learn the same thing.

These two are TROUBLE - both 4 year old geldings and two peas in a pod


 


They literally do everything together


I make a point not to tie horses when introducing potentially scary things so we stood in the barn aisle while I rubbed the clippers all over him. That was fine, so I held the clippers a good couple feet away from him and turned them on. I've never gotten such a big reaction! He shot backwards about 10 feet and stood wide-eyed and snorting. I got him to step forward within reach and petted him with my free hand. I turned the clippers off, rubbed them over his face, held them away and turned them on again. No spooking this time but he was adamant that they not get near his face. We repeated this process for a while until I was able to rub his neck with the clippers turned on. Then I got to the point where I could rub his face with the hand holding the clippers so there was some vibration but not as much as just the clippers touching his face. Finally I was able to easily trim his bridle path with no complaints on his part. I could rub his cheek and jaw line with the clippers on but they are still absolutely terrifying if they touch his chin, so we'll just keep working at it a couple times a week. But I was quite pleased with how much I was able to do in one session! And now he has a nice bridle path :)

My tack locker is getting closer to being functional