Friday, August 31, 2018

Celebrating the Wins

I know, the year is in no way close to over. But as the temperatures cool here in Manitoba and the leaves are beginning to turn yellow already, I kind of get all misty eyed on how far along my little turnip has come along. 
January cantering and loving my pony
In the moment-to-moment of it all, I tend to just see a horse that isn't completely 'broke' yet but one could argue definitely broken because of my lack of attention to detail (hello outside rein, where art thou?), but what evs, lol! In the bigger picture, sheesh! Has this horse ever made me so proud this year!!

Let's review!
At the beginning of this year, lessons started off strong but came screeching to a halt after her first buck with me at canter. Up until that point I thought my very green pony was pretty much perfect and this new development unnerved me. At this point in her greenie stage of training, she didn't really have a clue about rein contact and alternated between holding herself head high or rooting down. She also started out every ride very sticky and took encouragement to get going but would end up in a good rhythm after a few circles. Coach put on some rides at my request when the bucking started but I mostly just avoided the canter from that point on. #winningattraininghorses!

Our first jump back in January
The rest of winter was horrible weather wise, and I was kind of fine not riding. But then when we decided to sell the farm and Shiraz moved to a boarding farm, I dove back in with new enthusiasm. Shiraz was not so enthused -- she was quite unsettled at the new farm and things just snowballed into one very anxious, unhappy horse. Despite that, we survived a clinic with Ian Roberts and I saw a glimpse of my good pony again.

For a very clumsy pony, she sure rocked this scattered pole exercise
 Next up was moving my horse to a new barn and eventing derby success/failures. The jumping part was going well but dressage...not so much. Our first attempt at a judged dressage test resulted in not even getting in the ring due to Shiraz having a meltdown from sensory overload and a rider not exactly supporting her in any way.

But who needs dressage when your horse can do this, right? lol...JK, flat work matters, I guess. 
In June I moved my horse yet again and finally found a good fit for both of us. Unfortunately, my confidence was shot by then and just getting on and walking three steps was a challenge. And so I challenged myself to just do what I could. If it were three steps or 30 steps -- whatever was possible any given day. But I also knew improving Shiraz's confidence in the ring would take a confident rider making her do things so I called for help and got some trainer rides done. This was my magic feather apparently and following just a few training sessions, I was able to trust Shiraz a bit more. I knew I wasn't quite where I wanted to be though and sought the help of a respected coach/eventer, coach P, and had a life-changing ride with her!

Getting off when you are worried for your life is something I firmly believe in and had possibly taken far too much to heart as I was typically hopping off at the first sign of trouble lately. Coach P was the first to say to me, "no, you can't get off" and guided me through my horse's very long panic attack. She took me safely from thinking I was going to die, all the way to schooling Shiraz with authority all over the arena. It was the first true glimpse of the rider I used to be in probably years. I liked it.

And then WILLVILLE happened!!

I'm pretty sure I smiled the whole test.
I'm still flying high over Willville weekend and I may frame that first-place ribbon (out of a division of, ehem, one) because I didn't get an E!!! Whoot-whoot!!

I love this horse.
Coming up next is our local September derby which is not going to have a dressage phase, but will have stadium and xc. Ya, there is the bucking issue to deal with and tons of work on establishing that our new-found confidence is a real thing and grows ever stronger. Shiraz has had her teeth done, and is on treatment for ulcers. So far she is her exact same self which equals moody, spooky mare with emotions but at least a great heart (but a mighty buck).
Cheers to a great summer in the books and fingers crossed for all of you prepping for fall events!


  1. This whole process is fascinating. I guess you just can’t give up. 🐎

    1. I don't think I could ever give up - the reward is just too sweet :)

  2. Yesssss for the derby just skipping that whole dressage nonsense haha! Seriously tho Shiraz is such a cool horse and you are doing a really nice job with her - despite her not looking like the easiest ride either! Keep it up!!!!! :D

    1. Isn't it a dream come true?! lol! Although really Shiraz and I need more show practice under our belts with dressage but I'll take it!

  3. The derby sounds like a dream- SJ and XC and NO DRESSAGE? Sign me up!

    Definitely frame the blue ribbon!


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