I don’t normally post ride reports because a) my progress with my OTTB Knight is super slow for various reasons, b) this blog is not intended to be strictly a personal journal, c) I’m not an amazing rider and it seems weird to presume people across the Internet would want insights into my mediocrity. But I will post a recap of how things are currently going with Knight and share what I’m learning along the way.
In case you missed it, last October we had to flee the Canyon Fire 2 flames when our corner of Orange County got scorched. We have found a temporary haven at the first barn where Knight lived when I bought him a few years ago. Word is we will be moving back to our home barn at the end of February.
Oddly enough, Knight has really come into his own at our evacuation barn, so in a way it’s going to be a bittersweet farewell. He has been like a different horse. In a good way. Not that he was a bad horse ever, but he just seems really happy–very relaxed–at his home away from home. And if he’s happy, I’m happy.
All the Bucking
I’m also happy because today, after an “intermission” during our riding lesson in which I lunged Knight for about 8 minutes to get the sillies out of him, he was a champ. I don’t think I’ve ever cantered to a halt so smoothly and then walked forward two steps and then cantered again. I normally lesson on Saturday mornings, but I was feeling sick at the end of the week and decided to chill an extra 24 hours in hopes of not getting worn down. Long story short, Knight only got a quick turnout Saturday and so he was extra fancy this morning when I started to trot a serpentine.
My trainer said to hop off and lunge him a little. He played and bucked and at one point wiped out–his back legs just went out from under him, but he didn’t miss a beat and popped back up. (I was mildly traumatized seeing that. You can see it too in the YouTube video below.)
Knight really knows how to play. I love and have a little fear when I see him frolic in turnout because he loves to rear very high and he has a wicked buck. The fear I have is that he’ll hurt himself.
The good news is that I have never experienced any of those behaviors, not even in a mild form from the saddle! If Knight got a report card he would get an O for citizenship because he has never bucked or reared or done naughty things.
I’m saying all this now because last week a friend of mine Tweeted something to the effect: “Amateurs, if your trainer tells you your horse is too much horse for you, listen! Someone I know just succumbed to her injuries due to a riding accident.”
The back story is that the horse had intense behavior problems, but rather than finding a more suitable horse, the person switched trainers. It’s just so tragic and unnecessary.
Back to Knight, I texted my friend that I’m so grateful that my horse has never bucked or reared or anything like that. She also has a Thoroughbred with a great head on his shoulders who is a super pleasant. She said she thinks that same thought every day.
Now for some lighter news: Knight’s transitions keep getting better and better.
His jumping has gotten much more relaxed and rhythmical–he’s learning he doesn’t have to be an overachiever and take off from far away and leap over a small fence like it’s the Empire State Building.
I have started using a cribbing collar on him again. I hate them, but I can see their place. I think he was wearing himself out for a while by cribbing. You shouldn’t have to bend over to bridle your horse whose nose is like one foot from the ground.
It’s been an ongoing battle–fighting the cribbing–as he has a slow feed haynet and generally has alfalfa in front of him. But it was like he was an addict who needs his hit–and so even though there’d be food he would chomp down on the pipe corral rail and suck air.
GIFs and “Husband Goals”
Hubby came out to my lesson this morning as I am working with an equine nutritionist in the next few weeks to determine the optimal feed program for Knight, and I needed help taking conformation pictures and other angles of Knight (Knight’s back has changed and his saddle fit has become less than ideal. <sad face>. And he’s eating 30 pounds of hay per day plus his Purina Outlast so why is he ultra lanky?). During my lesson Mark played with settings on his Samsung Galaxy Note 8. I was impressed with the super slow motion mode and the GIFs.
The slow motion is a blessing and curse–it’s so cool to see the way Knight’s body moves: the foot falls, his back, etc. I, of course, am critical of how I look on him and am sure that I’m pounding and injuring his spine.
I thought it was cute one of the teen girls who was in the arena saw Mark taking video and pictures and said, “Husband goals.” And it was even cuter when I had to explain to Mark later, “It’s a compliment. She’s saying you’re like the ideal husband because you were there watching me ride and taking pictures.”
And now for a funny story about how my secondhand nerves interrupted my ride last Wednesday.
We’ve established that Knight is a good horse with good character. Well, the reoccurring problem he has/I have/we have is overthinking and anxiety. We’ve both gotten much better (click here to read about my most dramatic anxiety moment at our first horse show) as time has marched on.
Long story short, I realized I am my late grandmother.
I have tension over the “what ifs.”
Actually, I am probably more sensitive than my Thoroughbred. (An old friend warned hubby about this flaw–“She’s very sensitive,” when we got engaged).
Without getting into all the details, on Wednesday I was having a fantastic lesson doing all the flat work things. Tangent: Someone needs to design a T-shirt that says “I adore poles and Xs.”
Anyway, my friend was cruising around on her gelding and he started being a little naughty. Actually, maybe more than a little. He stopped at a fence. Same fence twice.
There were some stern words shouted and some tough, cowgirl-esque riding to get the horse to make good decisions.
Knight was fine, but I was worried about my friend. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her horse spinning in a circle in the middle of a one-stride.
I tried to shut it out of my existence and just keep trotting along. But as I felt my anxiety hovering over me thinking, “_______(insert name of horse), don’t kill my friend!” Knight sped up and his head started to elevate.
I worried first and then he started to worry.
We worked through it as I tried to shut out the curiosity of wanting to know how my friend was faring. I intentionally focused back on us. He started to relax. As he relaxed, I relaxed. And when my friend’s horse jumped like a good boy, we relaxed a little more.
When both the horse and human I care about peacefully left the arena in one piece, we went back to work. In a relaxed fashion.
To summarize, we’ve had some great rides in the last few months, are eager to return to our barn home and have more great rides and hopefully a few shows.
Leave a Comment: Do you worry from the saddle? How do you ignore what’s going on with other people and horses and maintain strong focus on you and your horse? OR weigh in on cribbing collars. Thanks for sharing!
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If you hang out on social media, you can find my Thoroughbred Knight and me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Come trot along with us! (We spend a lot of time on Instagram–for the record.)