Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Horse

My winter and spring were not so great this year. I fought with a surgery gone bad and the fallout of being stuck inside confined to elevating my foot. This is not a good recipe for my temperament! I am an active person, I need to go DO things and sitting on my butt for months at a time makes me crazy!!

My grounding really messed up my show season, actually, I did not get to show this year. I did get to take Casper out for one trail course at our local fair, he was his usual sweet self, mostly because he was so tired of sitting around. He loves to do things too!

But the biggest and happiest project was getting Andy under saddle. Andy is the foal pictured above in the title photo for this blog. That photo was taken when he was about 3 months old. He is now 3 1/2 years old. He is 16+ hh and filling out nicely. I had intended to have him ready to show by August. But I had to refine my training plan for him. A good friend has a daughter who in her own right should be a trainer and she graciously put the work into getting Andy going under saddle! I am so grateful to Kait Stoop for her abilities, her time and her kindness. Andy responded well to this new thing called "riding"!

I guess I should explain just "who" Andy is! Andy is "Formula One Fandango". He is sired by our stallion, Casper and out of my elegant Thoroughbred mare Kinky Kumquat. She has a ton of personality and is a real go getter type mare. Contained enthusiasm as we say! Casper has his own fun and rowdy side, but he is mostly a pretty laid back guy. They are both super sweet and remember everything you teach them. So Andy ended up with a great mind, an athletic body and a huge amount of Appytude! I could not be more pleased! He is all Sport Horse!! He has reach, he has suspension, he has power and he thinks!! My job now?? I have to teach him how to use his body, his power and his mind! Communication and tolerance of his youth are of prime importance.

I have taken him on various outings, to ride him in different settings. He is not a bundle of nervousness, he is confused about other horses running around us with riders on them. He is very concerned about self preservation! These traits are good, it shows me he is thinking. Most 3 year olds I have worked, including my own, have all been pretty jittery and their gaits unpredictable with no rhythm. Andy is not like that at all. He is very relaxed in his body, but his brain is always ON! With this in mind, I can be better prepared to introduce him to something new and be aware that he MUST absorb an object or a situation that is new before he will accept it.

So, with 15 rides on him, the last 8 at home in our forest and all about the property, it was time to take him out for a real ride!! Yep, down the road and up the mountain! I feel that exposure to real trail riding is the best training for a young horse! I invited a couple of friends over, we all tacked up, rode a loop through our forest and then we headed west to the mountain!

With my dog following close behind, Andy learned about asphalt, mailboxes, cars, motorhomes, loud farm equipment, kind courteous drivers, new horses in pastures, dogs in yards, being out front of the group and then finding himself not so brave to be first! Laughing and soothing him for the mile and a half to the entrance of the trail, he seemed to be taking everything in. Dropping into a ditch...no hesitation, crossing a field full of mole hills was a test of him using all FOUR of his legs, riding with a horse next to him politely was new for him. Finally we got to the entrance to the mountain trail, he surprised me by boldly heading into the dark trail out in front of our group!

We don't always follow a trail, we all tend to explore and we usually end up picking our way through some pretty rough brush. Two young trees growing side by side at first was a wall to Andy and then he learned you can push through them. He picked his way through the underbrush and downed trees carefully, learning that those back feet need a place to plant too! We climbed a steady incline and then we turned off on the hillside trail. More ups and downs, some steep, some gradual and Andy wanted to GO, but I urged him to keep it at a walk, feeling his energy and willingness made me giddy with delight, but I needed to remember he is a baby, with baby joints and baby brain...slow and easy was best for him. My trail buddies were so sweet and very courteous of Andy, I was so grateful for their kindness and concern! We finally crested the hill overlooking our valley and gave all the horses a brief rest. It was warming up and time to head back.

Trail riding will give Andy the tools he needs to make showing him a breeze! I bred Andy to be a "For Sale" horse.........I am not so sure he is going to ever be for sale. He fits me well, his size, his appytude and his presence, he is all I could ever want in "My Horse"!!

Summer shaped up pretty good. Goals are great, but reality was even better. I have a talented young horse with just enough work on him to keep him thinking and happy! I look forward to the fun that Andy and I will encounter and to being there when he learns all the things he can do!

Happy Trails everyone!!

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