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Wentworth Hunter Pace - June 6, 2021

After Margaret and I had such a fun time at the fall hunter pace, we opted to go again this spring! This time, while I rode Rejoice again, Margaret rode her horse Jester and had a friend ride Ladyhawke. All Kennebec Morgans!! Jester and Rejoice have the same dam and Jester and Lady share the same sire. Unfortunately instead of a lovely late spring day, we had one of the first intensely hot and humid days of the year. It was definitely a bummer, but the ride was mostly in the shade of the woods and we had a great time!  most of the fences were 3' coops but we found a small log and this hay to jump haha Until we didn't. 😑 We brought along a third friend who rode Margaret's older mare, Ladyhawke. She's a good rider but hasn't known Ladyhawke for very long and didn't realize how much of a cranky boss mare she could be at times. She kicked Jester right in the front leg just about halfway through the ride, and while the cut itself ended up not being a big deal in the

Transitioning into Real Work

We are finally at the stage where much of the snow is gone and the wait for everything to dry out has begun.  That means after an entire winter of hacking around at the walk in deep snow, we can finally start doing something a little more productive.

Don't get me wrong, the hacking has been great for her brain and for us to get to know one another.  As Denny Emerson is always writing and I agree with wholeheartedly, hacking out at a brisk walk is a great way to build strength, balance, and confidence.  And I feel as though we have begun to establish a fitness baseline so it is not as though Ellie is totally out of shape from sitting all winter.  This is a good place to be, therefore I am trying not to feel the impatience of waiting for the ring to dry out.  Sadly, the flat area I call my ring isn't really a ring at all; however, I don't want to dump money into fixing this spot because the REAL ring is going to be located in a different area on the farm altogether.  But that's going to take thousands of dollars I have not saved up yet, so while the snow is completely gone from my "ring", the MUD is real.  So far the fields are OK as long as I avoid the wettest areas (I hate to create any holes in the grass footing!), so our hacking continues, but now with some bending and trotting!  Whoo!

One week difference #gettingthere
 It is funny how different it is to hack out in deep snow as opposed to bare ground however.  Haha Ellie has had a little spring in her step without the snow to wade through!  ;-)  She is actually a good listener and tends to spook in place or just stand and look and wait for my reassurance.  For instance, the little sparrows have begun their nesting and laying preparations this past week, so there was a lot of stopping to look and a few spooks because of tiny darting and chirping birds.  

Ellie: *stops, flings head upwards, and stares*

Me: It's OK, El, it's just birds and they are not scary. (insert petting of neck and gentle reassurances, leg on, ready for a spin/blot just in case haha)

Ellie: OMG OMG OMG what are birds and why are they flying and what is that noise they are making and OMG WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE! HALP!

Ellie: *spooks in place*

Me: ... 

Ellie:  ...

Ellie: Oh, I see.  They are just birds!  Why didn't you just say so?

Me: Oh, Ellie. (insert laugh at my ridiculous horse)

So, most of her spring silliness has been indeed pretty silly and easily diffused by my desire to not react to her or her antics.  She is a dramatic mare and I doubt that is ever going to really go away haha. But thankfully after being a wide eyed wild beast for the first few minutes of a ride, she does calm herself and act respectable enough for a five year old!  ;-)  
Modeling one of her many Dark Jewel Design browbands

We practiced spiraling in and out at the walk the other day, an exercise she was unfamiliar with when I first got her but she seemed to understand at the walk and trot by the time we had to start our winter snow hacking routine. Immediately when I asked her to spiral out, she threw her head up and decided to go faster.  Hang on mare, you actually DO know how to do this.  Resume walking forward, ignore baby tantrum, ask again.  Ohhhhhhhh that's right, your leg can mean SIDEWAYS and not just forward!  Ohhhh, and there is that outside rein contact that I sorta forgot how to do (Ellie, probably).  We proceeded to have several lovely spirals in and out on a walk circle (just a bit too squishy in the field for trot circles just yet) and she remembered she knows about rein contact while bending.

The free walk still needs work, since that is another thing she had no idea about and is now starting to understand.  Learning to be in front of my leg, using her back, and reaching for contact will continue to be a work in progress, but there has been a lot of improvement.  She has a naturally forward and swinging walk, but is still not sure about opening and closing her frame when asked.  I spent SO MUCH TIME adjusting her walk this winter, that when I asked her to stretch into the bit, instead of just going a little ways before I had to ask again (and sometimes even ask three or four times to get her really reaching down far enough), she actually stretched forward and down like a real dressage horse.  GOOD MARE.  It is not yet a solidified movement for her, but having such a good transition like that is a good step in the right direction.

The good news is she is clearly trainable.  The bad news is she is still opinionated.  LMAO snort laugh.  Let's be real, THAT is never going away!

It also dawned on me the other day that I need to be mindful about introducing this mare to things on her legs, ie bell boots, leg wraps, brush boots, and shipping boots.  Because she tends towards the dramatic (such as her loud and clear opinion about a particular saddle she disliked...), I don't feel comfortable just throwing something on her without a bit of thoughtful introduction.  Bells and brush boots are generally reserved for jumping sessions and I am not a leg wrap person (unless there is a medical reason for wrapping).  I do want her to wear shipping wraps though, as I never bothered the first three times I have ever shipped her.  So last week she had her introduction to bell boots.  She was fine when I put them on, but definitely had a IT TOUCHED MY FOOT reaction once she shifted her weight and felt them on her pasterns and heel bulbs.  Oh Ellie.  I was ready for this (she was on the crossties with a saddle on and I snapped a lead rope on her halter just for funsies) and besides her classic spook in place move, she had no other reaction.  

Me, dramatic?

Once I bridled her and led her into the barn yard, now with lunge line attached for funsies, she did have a moment of awkward Spanish walk and then was fine.  I made her move around me on the lunge in the barnyard just to make sure all was still fine with bell boots and actual movement, and thankfully she was still accepting of them.  It's funny the things you take for granted and need to slowly introduce to dramatic redheads!  ;-)  

Bell boots are no big thing -Ellie, once she has cookies


  1. Stupid birds, the natural enemy of horses

    1. Hahaha I just read your post. Seriously, what is up with the damn birds? LOL

  2. LOL - Carmen is sure that birds are small winged velociraptors. When I first brought Irish home and didn't have the ring built yet we did all sorts of training out on the trail. It was fun. We did a lot of the installation of the ring ourselves and saved a ton of money but it was hard work.

    1. Hahaha small winged velociraptors is right! We need large machinery to do the ring, and it is actually going to be cheaper to hire our dirt guy to come do it rather than renting a backhoe ourselves. We have it cleared and ready to go, but it is going to need a lot of leveling, ditching, and of course the footing.

  3. i totally feel ya both on the importance and value of hacking, but also the impatience that comes with being limited to only exclusively hacking. hopefully that snow keeps melting asap!!! glad that Ellie is figuring out the whole leg wrap thing too! it always surprises me how some horses really.... have feelings about that sort of thing lol. like the countless times i've gotten to sit around at a horse show watching all the latest episodes of "when shipping boots attack" around the neighboring trailers lol.... luckily charlie's not at all dramatic with that sort of thing, which is useful since he's basically always gotta be booted bc of his splint.... sigh.

  4. Exactly! I love hacking out but I'm like, can I just do a 20 m trot circle on flat dry ground already? LOL! Today is rainy, which isn't good for mud but is helping melt off the snow. So maybe it will warm up soon and things will dry! And OH YES, Ellie has feelings about everything haha. I feel as though the leg wraps/brush boots won't be a huge deal but I am not looking forward to the hind shipping boots haha. Might wear a helmet and do it in the fenced ring once it dries up!! (My Standardbreds were just like Charlie and didn't care about anything!!) ;-)

  5. LOL to the leg decoration reactions! Q is the SAME way no matter how many times she wears stuff. My biggest thing with her is trying to get two on each side either front/front or hind/hind before she moves. If it's just one item OMG TERROR! If it's two, its OMG OFF OFF O-...oh, okay, nevermind. lol!


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