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Living in the moment

10 Sep

What can I say except this week has been quite the emotional roller-coaster. I’m pretty sure this situation has taken me through every emotion and reaction possible – sadness, hope, sense of powerlessness, love, anger, tears, laughter, fear and everything in between.

My gut feeling was telling me that the best option for everyone involved was to see if Corona could go back to his former owner, provided that she would take good care of him. While I would love to keep him, I would be very nervous about not being able to provide the best home for him due to never actually owning a horse before. I have however, looked into boarding options, just incase, as I would be willing to take on this challenge for his sake, despite my nerves. This would also allow me to sever ties with the Boss!

Last night when I was at TB’s, I told her a bit about the situation with Corona. I also told her that I was worried and didn’t necessarily trust that the Boss wouldn’t lie to me and send him to the meat man. There must have been a guardian angel looking over Corona because TB said that she wouldn’t let that happen and that worst case, she would take him and find him a good home. The weight of the world seemed to lift off my shoulders at that point, at least temporarily.

I found out from the Boss later last night (again, through email) that her agreement with the previous owner was that if she ever doesn’t want him anymore, then his old owner gets first refusal, and if she cannot take him back, then she would try to find a suitable home for him, and if she couldn’t, then he would get put down. I never knew that this was the agreement – why wouldn’t the Boss have told me this from the get go? The Boss also told me that she won’t let me have him to take elsewhere. I’m not sure if this is because of the agreement, or because she outright refuses. I have so many unanswered questions that I know I will never get the answers to.

While I don’t know his former owner, I’m happy that she seems like a responsible horse person and had outlined this plan for him. Of course, I certainly do not want him put down, and would ask her directly if I could have him before that would happen. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she will take him back…I don’t know what her situation is currently, but I’m hopeful. I’m also hopeful that if he went back, then I could stay in touch her to see how he’s doing. Even the Boss said she sees no reason why this shouldn’t be the case, which puts aside some of the paranoia I had about the Boss lying. As of now, the Boss is going to speak with the former owner to see what the current situation is, and we’re going to go from there.

I’m trying to keep my emotions in check, but it’s hard. I rode Corona the other day and bawled my eyes out pretty much the entire time. When I was catching him from the field, he cantered up to me at the gate, which he has done maybe once before. In true Corona fashion, he also bucked me off during our ride after I used my whip because he wasn’t listening…and for the very first time ever, he ran back over to me when he realized I was on the ground. It’s not that I was happy about being bucked off, but in a weird way, I was grateful I fell off because I was able to experience the utter joy I felt when he ran back to me. It know it sounds melodramatic, but I’m appreciating each moment with him just incase it’s our last because I know that day will inevitably come sooner rather than later.

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Sadness, disappointment, and anger

5 Sep

I feel sick to my stomach at the state of affairs at the Boss’ and can honestly say I don’t know what to do.

We went to a show on Sunday and unfortunately, Corona was an anxious mess. I felt terrible for him because I don’t know where it came from and no matter what I tried, nothing seemed to ease his anxiety. Our first test was a complete mess and it was tough to even get him into the ring. He’s never been like that before. We improved in our second test and I was actually quite pleased given the circumstances, but all in all it was just a bad day.

The Boss was not happy. When the Boss isn’t happy, she lets you know in very childish ways (despite her being 75 yrs old!). I received an email from her on Tuesday which essentially said that she thought Corona was ruining my riding, that I was becoming a defensive and fearful rider, and that I’ve taken him as far as he’ll ever go. She acknowledged the work I’ve put into him and that it has paid off, but that he is just a nut and no amount of patience, training, love, coaching will ever change that. She then said that she’d like to send him back to his previous owner who apparently would take him back, and he’d be able to live peacefully out there. She also said that it’s not good for her business to be associated with a horse like him because it would discourage prospective coaching/training jobs (note: in the 6 years I’ve been there, there has been nobody lining up to work with her). She also mentioned that due to her age, she is not as quick as she used to be, and frankly would prefer that he wasn’t there. She proposed that she sent him back to the old owner, and that I continue to lease one of the other “good” horses at the barn.

I knew the email was coming, I received a similar one back in the winter. I wasn’t sure whether the email was asking me for my opinion, or essentially telling me that she was sending Corona back.

I truly don’t think I’ve become a fearful rider at all. In my response, I responded to each of her points and said that if she is asking for my opinion, then I would like to continue riding Corona and working with him because I feel we can still make progress. I also said that while I’m not opposed to Corona going back to his former owner if he will be cared for, I am not okay if the actual intention is to send him to a dealer or for meat (which sadly I know she wouldn’t have a problem with). To be frank, I just don’t trust her because she has promised to find homes for many of her other horses and then she decides to just either call the meat man directly, or sends them to a dealer which essentially means they’re going for meat. I also acknowledged that if she wasn’t comfortable handling him anymore, that I obviously didn’t want anyone getting hurt, but reiterated that I was under the impression that he was being well-behaved (since this is what she has told me as recently as last weekend!).

Her response back to me was extremely passive aggressive and essentially said that she was just concerned that I wasn’t enjoying myself and that she just wants me to be happy. She managed to slide in some insults about how “pea-brained” Corona is and all in all the tone of the email was just ridiculous. The fact that this conversation was over email was ridiculous, but the Boss will not have it any other way (she’d done the same sort of thing with SM and CG). From her response however, it appeared that I had dodged a bullet and that Corona would stay, despite the Boss thinking it was a waste of time.

As expected, when I went out to the barn last night, the Boss didn’t say anything about the email, just carried on as if nothing had happened. It was extremely awkward. I just did my thing and left as emotions were still running quite high for me. CG sent me a text she had received randomly from the Boss that afternoon which was the icing on the cake. The text was rude, unnecessary, and hurtful, it said:

“Well, she says she loves him to death, thinks he did great in the second class at the show, etc. Doesn’t have any interest in other horses, likes the challenge of a difficult(!) horse, hasn’t become defensive, etc. Ok, end of story. Need to find someone else to come ride who likes to do stuff.”

This text hurt more than the email. It completely took parts of my response and misconstrued them, and it clearly shows a lack of respect from someone who I have bent over backwards for for the last 6 years.

I can’t do it anymore, I cannot go out there and deal with this sort of bullying behaviour to myself and to others. I don’t want to go back there ever again, I want to just wash my hands of her and move on elsewhere…but I can’t do that because of Corona. I am fearful of what she’ll do with him if I just leave. I don’t think she would send him to his former owner, I think she’d call the meatman.

I don’t know if I’m in a position to take Corona myself, either financially or knowledge-wise…in particular because leaving would not be on good terms so I couldn’t rely on the Boss to give me any moral support in any way, or be there to answer any questions I would have. The way I see it, I have three options:

1) Just get out as of now, and hope that she sends Corona to his old owners, but realize that he may not.

2) Keep my emotions in check, tell the Boss I’ve had a change of heart and that I agree with her and think it best for Corona to go back to his old owner (and make sure that this is actually the truth about where he is going). Once he’s there, then tell the Boss that I’m done with her.

3) Take a risk and ask if I can take Corona and keep him somewhere else.

I can barely talk about this without crying, I’m a total mess and feel powerless. Over the years, the Boss has done many things which I’ve disagreed with, but she has never hurt me as much as she has with this incident. I seriously have no idea what to do…I just want the horse to be safe and for me to cut all ties with the Boss.

Highest score ever!

26 Aug

I couldn’t be more pleased with Corona, even if I tried. Our show on Saturday gave us our highest score ever and we took home two third-place ribbons!

First of all, as we were loading to go to the show Corona practically ran into the trailer himself which left me with a huge grin on my face even before we left the Boss’ property. I’m so proud of how far he has come over the last few months, especially when I consider the chaos of the first show trailer loading incident. I’m actually going to do another trailer loading session with Corona at some point in the near future to see if I can get him to load and unload without me having to go into the trailer with him; I’m pretty confident he would do it, it’s just a matter of me feeling confident enough to let him without worrying about all the things that could go wrong.

Oh – I forgot to mention – when the ride times came out for the show, I nearly had a heart attack. Since the show had so many classes and riders, they were running two rings at the same time. I had visions of Corona and I being responsible for ruining others’ show experiences if he carried on the way he did at the last show. I convinced myself that the rings wouldn’t be side-by-side and that everything would be great.

Upon pulling into the venue, all of my self-convincing turned into, “oh shit”; there was only about 10 feet separating the two rings. There was also a very small warm-up ring, tents flapping in the wind, a variety of flowerpots and garden decorations, lawn chairs, strollers, and lots of bushes.

We got our numbers at the registration desk, tacked up and took the horses to the warm-up ring before our first tests. I don’t even think the warm up ring was 20m x 40m but there were already about 8 horses in there. I just did my thing and focussed on staying calm and avoiding crashing into anyone. Corona was definitely looking at things and was hesitant at times, but he was actually quite a bit more relaxed than I had expected – I just went with it. There was a woman in there with a cute grey horse that was having a hard time calming him down, needless to say, I really felt for her as I know all too well what that feels like! Lucky for her, her coach was there so was walking her through a “calming” routine (and yes, I eavesdropped to learn a thing or two)!

Before long, I was up for Training Test 1. We had to walk past the end of the small ring (where someone was doing their test already) to the big ring where I’d be riding. I walked Corona around the outside and he spooked just before the judges booth, but carried on without too much of a fuss. The bell rang for us to start out test so I circled back to A to enter the ring. We went in and Corona felt a bit stiff, but not nearly as giraffe-like as he can be. Our halt wasn’t super, but hey, it was immobile. We continued our test and I was very pleased with how things were going! Corona was hesitating so a bit sluggish off the leg, but to be honest, I much prefer pushing him on than hanging onto his alter-ego, “Bull-in-china-shop.” He did something that is very unusual for him – we were cantering and as we were going down the long side from A to E, he broke to a trot(?!) I picked up the canter again and he picked up the wrong lead (??!!), I corrected it and we continued. We finished the test without any more indiscretions.

We had about an hour before our second test, so we parked ourselves at the end of the warm up ring so that we could watch the others in our class. There were some really excellent riders and really nice horses. There was one girl who I really felt for (a different one from the warm up ring). She was on this GORGEOUS black Hanoverian who had the floatiest movement I’ve ever seen. It was the horse’s first show and he was terrified of the judges box. He wouldn’t go near it. Aside from that, her test was mesmerizing, but due to the judges box issue, she came last in the class. On a complimentary note however – someone from the host barn offered to buy her horse right then and there!

In my opinion, my second test was on par with the first. Corona was still quite hesitant at times, but there were no major meltdowns. At one point, the judge from the other ring rang her bell for that rider, and Corona spooked and leapt forward, but to his credit, he recovered really quickly and we continued on as if nothing had happened. Our halts were much better in this test, especially our final one.

After we had untacked, we walked the horses back up to the rings to see our scores. I was shocked to see that I had come third in both classes! In my first test, I got a 57.5% which I thought was a bit low to be honest…I got a 58% in the first show of the season when Corona was a raging maniac. The girl who placed first got a 67%, the second place got a 66.4% and then there was me, and the lowest of 6 scores was a 52%. In the second test however, we got a 64.8% – the highest score we’ve ever received! The scores were all much higher in the second test, with the 1st place winner getting 67.8% and the last place out of 7 getting a score of 60.71%. I know I’m no dressage judge, but I honestly didn’t think there was THAT much of a difference between my two tests – I’m not complaining at all, it’s just interesting and I suppose, is one of the things that comes with the territory of dressage.

We let the horses graze for a while before loading up and heading home. At some point throughout the day, the Boss decided that Corona had finally figured this show thing out, and subsequently convinced me to do one more show with him. There’s one coming up this weekend, but it’s at the same venue as the last disaster so I’m not keen on going. There one the weekend after at a venue I’ve never been to, but is supposedly very nice and calm so we’ve signed up to go there on Sept 1.

Remember how I mentioned Corona broke from canter to trot in the first test and then picked up the wrong lead? Well, Murphy’s Law struck and when I rode him the other night, he was off! Not overly lame, but definitely had some head-bobbing going on a the trot. I really hope it’s nothing and all will be well. The blacksmith is coming out Monday so will be able to take a look at things if they haven’t improved by then. I didn’t feel any heat or swelling, so maybe he just was a bit sore (fingers crossed!!).

**UPDATE** – so it seems I forgot to post this blog once I wrote it – the good news is that yesterday Corona seemed MUCH better. I lunged him prior to riding to see the status and he looked fine. I tacked him up and got on and he felt 100% to the left, but still slightly off to the right. I soaked both of his front feet in an Epsom salt tub for a good half hour, then packed him hooves with poultice and wrapped them. Blacksmith is out today, I wonder if he’ll find anything?

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It’s about time for an update

14 Aug

A lot has happened in my happy horse world over the last two weeks, and just when I thought things were under control!

First up – Amber. I had been riding Amber one evening and we had a fabulous ride. After we’d finished, I went to go and see TB to give her a progress update. We got chatting a bit and she asked me how my showing was going with Corona. I mentioned to her that my show season with him was over because I just didn’t think it was doing us any good. She then said, “Well, I’m sorry to hear that…actually I’m not really that sorry because I have a proposition for you! What if you took Amber instead?” I hadn’t ever really considered doing this, mostly because I only ride her once a week at the moment due to my Corona commitments. TB mentioned that she would give me free trailering, but I’d pay the entry fees. Seems fair to me. I told her I’d look at the schedule and see if there were any shows that might work.

She then proceeded to ask me what my plans were in the fall and about the details of my lease with Corona. I mentioned to her that Corona is pretty much like my own horse as I’m the only one who rides him, and that come the fall, the plan was that CG and I would take our horses from the Boss’ and they’d live out at CG’s hobby farm. Upon hearing this, she eluded to this foiling a plan that she was mulling over for me involving something with Amber. She wouldn’t tell me the details, apparently because she didn’t want to butt-in on my Corona plans. She then proceeded to tell me that at some point she wanted to give me a lesson on her horse (who is trained to 4th level dressage) as a thankyou for my work with Amber. Sweet! I’m still wondering what that proposition was though!

Murphy’s Law – Amber has been lame since this conversation. Horses! First TB thought it was an abscess, now it looks like maybe she had some stone bruising, so she got shoes on Monday. Hopefully she’ll recover quickly as I was planning on entering us in a show on September 2.

Next up – Corona.

I cannot say anything bad about Corona, he has been a wonderful and solid equine citizen. We’re still plugging away at our training and I’ve been allowed to take him up to the back hay field to work on our “hacking”. After I told the Boss about being done with showing for the year, a remarkable thing happened. She encouraged me to do one more show. I was somewhat dumbfounded as she normally looks for any excuse to try to get me to let her get rid of Corona. Don’t get me wrong, she still told me how he is an awful horse and I’m essentially wasting my time on an arsehole that gives me little in return, but at the same time, she encouraged me to try again. What has been even more interesting is that over the last week, she has given me suggestions about things I could try in the show ring if things start to go hairy. With this in mind, we’re going to another show on Saturday at the barn where Corona was born! I’m going there and looking at it as a training opportunity and nothing more. If Corona starts to melt down in the ring, I’m just going to stop him or do some transititions instead of trying to ride through it like I’ve been doing. I’m actually pretty excited about it to be honest.

Lastly – Plans thwarted.

CG told me last week that she and her husband are going to sell the farm. There are many valid reasons for this but I don’t want to post their business on here even if I only use code names! To be honest, part of me wondered if our plan was ever going to come to fruition, as I picked up on little red flags here and there along the way. CG also has decided that Roller is not the horse for her, but will ride him until a new home can be found for him. Oh – this reminds me – I don’t think I ever mentioned that as of about 6 weeks ago, SM gave up her lease on Ember and no longer rides.

I’m not quite sure what to make of all this. On one hand, I’ve very grateful CG & husband have had these realizations now before we set up shop at their place. On the other, I was looking forward to getting rid of the drama that comes with the Boss’ including the copius negative comments about Corona! As of right now, no decisions need to be made, we can carry on status quo, but I’m definitely going to think about what I want and how best to do that. Perfect scenario? I take Corona to TBs…her board is rather expensive however and I don’t think I’d be comfortable paying that much at the moment. I’ve been wondering if I could work something out with her, but I think I’ll sit tight for the moment and weigh my options.

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Ah- ha moment?

22 Jul

I’ve just returned from a mini- vacation from New York City where, aside from being a tourist, I have come to horse-related “ah-ha!” moment with respect to Corona.

It began last Sunday (July 14th) in Corona and my 3rd show of the season. We had been to the venue the past 2 years and never had any big issues, so I took the opportunity to enter us in our normal Training Level classes, and then also enter us in our first ever First Level class. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try something new considering that all of our schooling has been going beautifully and the fact that he has been to the venue previously.

He loaded into the trailer like the little champion he is – and for the first time ever he didn’t even hesitate at all. He didn’t need any incentive, he just said, “sure mom!” That, in itself was a winning moment.

It was stinking hot – like the rest of the east coast of the States and Canada, we were in the depths of a heat wave. With the humidex, it was 39 degrees Celsius.

We arrived with plenty of time to spare as CG was riding in two classes before Corona and I even got started. Corona was a gem and stood like a gentleman under the trees and we watched the other riders compete in their classes.

I eventually tacked him up and took him to the warm up ring to prepare for our first test. Things were going well until Roller (now finished his classes) began to call for Corona. There was whinnying back-and-forth and it was getting more and more difficult to keep Corona’s attention on me. I could feel him getting more and more tense and our nice relaxed trots were turning into the runaway freight train variety with plenty of spooks thrown in for good measure. I tried to ride him through it and then tried a different approach. I walked him, I asked him to stretch long and low for me and did a lot of flexion exercises at the walk. This seemed to work wonders and I could feel him begin to come back to me. After about 10 minutes, I asked him to pick up trot again – it was beautiful. I asked for a canter – wonderful. I asked for another trot and asked him to stretch long and low on a 20 meter circle – phenomenal. We were told we were on deck so I brought him closer to the ring and we continued our relaxed walk figures.

When it was our turn to head to the ring, the runaway freight train returned instantly. The footing around the outside of the ring was horrible – despite it not having rained in about 2 weeks, one side was about 5 inches of mud. As we were going around the outside of the ring waiting for the bell to ring, Corona was not a happy horse. There was a monster at A (no idea what) that was going to eat Corona. As we approached the judges booth, I was told they were going to take a quick break because the previous rider had complained about a big rock in the ring at B. Off the stewards went into the ring to dig up this rock. They couldn’t get it. Out came a crow-bar, the rock wouldn’t budge. All of this commotion was doing nothing to help me settle freight-train-horse so I did a big circle that was between the show ring and the warm up area. He began to settle. Then out came the tractor to try and dig up this rock-turned-boulder. The tractor didn’t bother Corona but the clanging of the metal on rock was not of benefit to us. After about 10 minutes, they freed the rock and we were back in business. They didn’t move the rock away, so the judges asked me if I’d like to ride past it. I said yes. Corona didn’t care about the rock, but he definitely still had not forgotten about the monster at A.

The bell rang and we picked up our trot and as we turned into the ring at A, Corona bolted forwards, head up, like a firecracker. I was quite pleased at my ability to keep him straight, and we halted at X. Our test continued and it was the worst test I’ve ever ridden. Corona was mentally checked out for 95% of it, he wouldn’t go near A and we were doing side pass at the canter across the short side anytime we had to go by A. I had one good trot circle where he was relaxed and at the exact moment I thought to myself, “excellent!” the bull in the china shop returned. At one point, a truck with the hay delivery arrived up the lane right beside the ring. This added to the chaos in the ring and I just felt absolutely terrible for Corona because this really was the icing on the cake. We finished our test and as we passed the judge, she said to me, “you both survived – that was well ridden, but…you know”. We scored a 47.5%.

I untacked Corona since we had about an hour and a half before our next two classes. I put a fly sheet on him and we hung out by the ring again. All of a sudden, Corona began kicking out – a wasp (or something) had somehow got under his fly sheet and I’m pretty sure he was stung. I pulled his sheet off but there was no calming him. He continued kicking up at his stifle and no amount of rubbing or soothing was helping. I walked him around as that seemed to help relax him but it was of little help. Nobody could see any welt or anything, but I can’t think of anything else that would cause such a reaction. Since we had to wait for CG to ride her final class, we kept walking and I decided to scratch Corona from our last 2 classes. I felt like a complete failure but given the big picture, I don’t think it would have been a good idea to continue. I’ve been working so hard to keep him relaxed that I didn’t want to jeopardize the progress we had made even further by asking him to go into the ring again when he was so mentally checked out and clearly was uncomfortable.

We had to wait around for the final scores to be posted from CGs last class so by the time we left, Corona was back to his old self. He loaded again without issue and was perfectly relaxed when we got home. I checked again to see if I could see any welts, and there was nothing.

I was talking to my parents afterwards (they are not horse-people in the slightest) and my mom said something to me that gave me this “ah-ha” moment, she said, “I just don’t think Corona likes going to shows”.

This has made me reconsider things. The only reason I show is because it’s (normally) a fun outing and gives me something to work towards. However, this year, 2/3 shows have been absolute disasters. Last year I had 1/3 that were disastrous, same as the previous year. The disastrous label always comes as a result of the exact same issue – Corona freaking out in the ring. Could it be that he just doesn’t enjoy it? I feel like I’ve put in a good effort with him re: shows but maybe we won’t ever get to the point where he will be relaxed. I know I shouldn’t compare us to others, but you get to know other riders/horses on the circuit and I can honestly say that I’ve never noticed any others with this issue. Sure, some people have an off day here and there, but maybe they earn a score of 58% instead of their normal 65% and it’s a one-time thing, and they score lower because their halt isn’t square or they picked up the wrong lead. This isn’t the case with Corona and I.

I realize I’ve mentioned the bad footing, the whinnying from Roller, the rock, the hay truck, as factors that contributed to this, but this sort of thing has happened multiple times before when none of these things were factors. Then there are times where there are things like whinnying, wind, rain, dogs, etc where he is perfectly fine.

I’m contemplating the idea of taking the money I was going to use for shows and putting it towards lessons instead. I think it may be more beneficial to Corona and I than the shows are. Part of me feels like I’m quitting, but the other part of me wonders if I’m making things worse by taking him to these shows and putting him in an environment where he freaks out so badly. Food for thought!

The past 2 weeks!

9 Jul

Long time, no write!

It’s probably easiest if I just put things into bullet format in an effort to keep the babbling to a minimum!

Amber (1):

· Had a rather awkward Amber moment last week out at TB’s. As I’ve mentioned previously, Amber has a bit of a pulling back issue so she cannot be tied. No problem, she stands like a dream without being tied.

· Last week I was taking her out to the dressage ring to ride and TB was opening the series of gates while I ran down my stirrups etc. I saw that TB had missed the main ring gate, so I took Amber over to it (still not mounted). I have no idea what happened to startle her, but she flipped out and pulled backwards, seemingly out of nowhere. I was caught by surprise so my first reaction was to hold her and say “whoooaaa”, which did nothing. She continued to back up so I just let go because I actually thought she might strike out at me with her front feet. She took off and bucked like mad, reins flipped over her head, and all I could think of was a) what the eff happened to warrant this? and b) oh shit, what if she damages TB’s gazillion-dollar saddle and c) I’m pretty sure I will be asked not to come back here.

· After about 30 seconds, she stopped, so I walked over to her calmly, took her reins and walked her around a bit.

· TB saw the whole thing and said to me, “what do you do when a horse pulls back like that?!” I looked at her, somewhat stunned and said..” I’m not really sure…let her go?” I was then informed that I should have kept a hold of her and kept moving backwards with her so that she didn’t feel any resistance. Fair enough, I’ll know for next time.

· I felt really terrible about it because TB was clearly upset – you know when you can tell someone is holding back because their voice trembles? Yep, that’s what I was faced with. She then walked away for a few minutes while I got on.

· I don’t really know TB very well so I’m not sure how to take her sometimes. Fair – I didn’t do what I should have in that situation, however I have never been in a situation like that before either and it all happened so fast that my first reaction is just instinct. In retrospect, I don’t think TB was upset with me per se, I think she was upset that the horse freaked out and was upset because her horse was upset.

· Surprisingly, Amber and I had a really great ride that day and she was extremely relaxed.

· I made a point of apologizing to TB afterwards and she told me that it was okay and that we all have to learn that lesson some time, she had to learn it too.

· I cried the entire way home.

Amber (2):

· I rode her again last night and she was incredibly relaxed, probably one of the best rides I’ve had on her yet.

· She offered to go long-and-low for me within about 15 mins, which is incredible given that it normally takes her about 15 minutes to settle.

· Murphy’s Law struck and of course TB was not around to see any of this, but two of the boarders were so I know I’m not crazy.

· TB texted me later to see how things went and I told her of our successes and she was really pleased saying that we should have another photo and video session soon.

Corona (1):

· I don’t think I’ve mentioned before about the hacking situation at the barn. There is a nice quiet road to hack on fairly close to the barn, but in order to get there, you have to go down a busier country road. I hate going down this road for two main reasons, 1) there are some real asshole drivers who do not slow down or give you extra room, 2) and the end of the road, there are some rather “trailer trashy” type houses that have so much junk in their yards and who don’t think not to turn on their chainsaws/rev their engines/throw garbage around while you ride by. It’s not a matter of them not seeing you, I make an effort to say hello when I go by, they just don’t realize/or care.

· I sucked it up for a long time, but it got so bad that I’m actually terrified to go down this road and haven’t hacked down there for at least a year. The thought of it makes me sick to my stomach. I can’t help but think that Corona will spook at something and jump into traffic and we will get hurt.

· I should note here that Corona is actually very good with traffic, even when people come a bit too close for my liking he is well behaved.

· Corona is not 100% good when it comes to motorcycles (loud, roaring engines, even when they slow down) or bikes, and he does look and/or spook at the yards filled with Christmas ornaments in July / dogs lunging on their chains / wood being thrown around / etc.

· The problem arises when the non-horse-friendly drivers occur at the same time as the spooks.

· I’ve wanted to work on our confidence up the road for a while now, but it literally makes me nauseous. On Sunday, CG and I decided to start the process. My goal was to get about 200m up the road. We did this no problem and conveniently the neighbour decided this was an excellent time to get on his ride-on lawnmower as well, the horses looked and were hesitant but were good about it. Once we got to our “target” we crossed the road, heading towards home. We decided to go past the Boss’ driveway and walk another 150m or so. No problem. I wanted to do the circuit again so off we went. As we were heading back to the Boss’s, I saw that a cyclist was coming. Excellent timing as we were just arriving at the Boss’s driveway. We stopped the horses and turned and faced the cyclist. Corona became a giraffe, but I stayed calm and talked to him, said hello to the cyclist in hopes that Corona would realize there was a human on that bike, and that was that, no spook. He got lots of praise. We did another circuit. As we were heading towards home, there was a truck coming towards us, no problem. I kept checking distances and saw that 2 motorcycles had passed the truck and were approaching us from behind travelling rather quickly. I had hoped that we would have made it back to the Boss’ driveway but they were coming on too fast. Neither slowed down AT ALL and both Corona and Roller jumped out of their skins. We settled them down and asked for another circuit. We made sure to end on a good note.

Corona (2):

· It’s official – we both love the loose-ring French link bit. Why didn’t I switch sooner?!

· Our 3rd show is this coming Sunday.

· In addition to the normal training level classes, I’ve also entered us in our 1st first level class!

· The first level test requires lengthening at the trot and canter, as well as 10m half circles, and 15m canter circles.

· I think the trickiest part of the test is that there is less time between movements – I’m really going to have to work to keep Corona’s attention and focus.

· CG has offered to call the test for me on show day, so that makes me less nervous about forgetting the sequences.

Corona (3):

· I just love him .

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Corona goes French…

20 Jun

Tonight I decided to switch up Corona’s bit. Since he arrived, I’ve ridden him in a single jointed eggbutt snaffle. Tonight I switched him to a loose ring french link. My reasoning for switching was threefold:

1. If I were a horse with a bit in my mouth, I think I would appreciate a double jointed bit;

2. I’m hoping that having something that moves a bit more in his mouth will assist him in relaxing;

3. I’ve been wanting to switch for about a month now but wanted to see what the Boss thought, as I’m no bit expert. Then, the other day she suggested it after we were discussing Corona’s tendencies to “fiddle” with things while being ridden.

Tryout 1 went really well, he felt super soft and light in my hands and was much quieter than normal. I’m anxious to give it a few more goes before I determine whether it was coincidence or not….

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