Category Archives: horses

it’s sunny; it’s (not quite as) cold; it’s nearly spring, and we’re juuuuuuumping

Not a totally accurate representation, but the lovely Norman Thelwell could have been looking at the little mare’s face when he drew this one– especially if he had added ears pricked absolutely straight forward at the jump, total focus on what is turning out to be a fun new job. Luckily for me, I stayed in the saddle the entire time, though there was one jump where the little mare asked the question “so, how far over this thing should I go? This far?” that had us leaping about four feet over the 3 inch cross-poles we’d set up.

Just previous to the jumping, we weren’t really working that well together. She’s always had a tendency to llama her way around when she feels like avoiding work, and she seriously had my number last Friday. Seriously. It was getting to the point where I *knew* we were nearly at the point where we were just annoying each other to silly levels. The day before, I had started thinking that maybe it was time to chuck away the idea of flat*work* for awhile and just focus on forward-type fun. She has a solid grasp of the basics, and I felt like it was time to give her something else to do, not keep pushing for some sort of weirdly perfect flatwork before we moved on. Plus, eh, I’ll admit to being a jumping over flat person. (And XC over anything else…) Luckily, the friend who was giving me a lesson was on the same page, so after a bit of a canter round (which the little mare loves and would be happy to do allllllll day long), we set up the world’s smallest cross pole, and I looped the reins and grabbed a firm hold of the neck strap. And then…

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yay for pretty bay mares

So this is not the world’s most recent picture, something made at least a little obvious by the fact that both the little mare and I are only wearing a minimal number of layers–unlike last week, where I refused to leave the house without at least four, and she graduated to the sort of layering that would make a wedding cake proud. She has also learned that I have very cold hands in the winter, and this reality prompts a hilarious facial expression whenever I touch her: very much on the order of “Uh, no, that’s not cool, why would you do that to me? That’s mean! Stop touching me with the cold things!” Mostly I laugh at her and shove my freezing cold hands in between two of her rugs so as not to drive her too crazy with the cold. That response to the icicles that are my hands is, quite possibly, the only thing she and my husband will ever have in common. Not that he would even admit that.

We’re at the point where it’s possible to really see some changes (again, sorry about the not recent picture!), she’s really grown “out” a lot and lost her whippet-like racehorse build. She’d also gone bum-high again, which I hope will even out and give us at least one more inch (I would like her to be a *tiny* bit taller!).  It’s already starting to even out, and as I hopped off yesterday I swear it took longer to hit the ground. (This could be wishful thinking). I feel I should also mention that she had spent nearly a week only working on the walker as the arena and her field were iced over. She’d been out that morning in the now mostly defrosted field (and impressed everyone with her ability to buck), but, seriously, I took a four year old on a walk hack on the road after a week off and…nothing happened. It was only twenty minutes, but she’s starting to relax a bit into the rein as well (plus, there were no terrifying allotment people–I’m not sure what she thinks they will do if she takes her eyes off them, but I’m certain it involves eating pretty bay mares.)

Although it can sometimes be frustrating to wait to go out and “do the fun stuff” (ahem, cross country)–I’m really enjoying working with a baby again. There is something about making sure it all goes quietly and smoothly that appeals to me, plus, of course baby shenanigans are fun (there is a lot of time spent investigating the bag I use for a grooming kit because it, once, a few weeks ago, had a carrot in it). I’m really looking forward to this summer. The plan is to take her out and about for little things and get her going and then give her the winter between 4 and 5 off to grow a bit more (hopefully!).

Right now, we’re doing a lot of stretching and flexing to help her get a bit more wiggly in herself. She came to me quite “tight” with racing muscles, and it’s been a bit of a process to convince her that she is safe enough, really, to relax and shift her focus from what is going on around her to the work we are doing. She is absolutely stellar, and her walk, especially, has gotten huuuuuuuge, but we still have those moments where she pretzels herself to look at something (usually behind us, on a diagonal, and below the horizon, just to complicate matters). Yesterday, though, as we walked out for our last lap up and down the lane, she took the rein forward of her own accord and started really stretching out and down. So yay for babies, especially pretty bay mares.

introducing “hey up”

Or, as she has quickly been nicknamed at the yard: the little mare. She’s a direct result of those “I wants” I talked about in earlier posts. She came with the name (a part of her Yorkshire heritage), and it suits (plus, I’m one of those don’t-change-the-race-name people, so she keeps “Hey Up There” as a show name as well).

I heard about her through a friend (well, I heard about her racing trainer through a friend), and, after looking at her pictures online and having a difficult time resisting falling for her sight-unseen, I grabbed a friend and a horsebox and made the trip to York.

She’s got a nice pedigree, and, well a rather hilarious race record–with a best result of second-to-last. But she’s had an excellent start and has quite the sensible head on her shoulders (and clearly was well-loved and well trained by her grooms and trainer), and she had about ten weeks out in a field just being a horse before I even went to see her, so she’s not too close to her last race.

She’s only been on the yard a week, but she’s taken streams, woods, blowing wind, and lunging perfectly in stride. We’re still in the mostly walk and occasionally trot in a straight line phase, and I’m working mostly on walking up and down as many hills as possible to start building up some non-racing muscles.

She’s also making her mark as a general yard favourite. She’s got impeccable manners (so far!), which is always nice, and I think everyone likes have a young project around, they make for interesting conversation and an excuse to play fun games of “do you know what a lunge line is” (answer: yes, of course), “what do you do when we need to cross water” (answer: weee! jump over!)  and “what happens when I offer you a carrot?” (answer: immediately you become her favourite person ever).

So far, so good, so much fun.