With all the dog drama, I’ve admittedly been a little checked out at the barn lately. While I all sorts of great intentions to throw Poet a fifth birthday party, I instead lunged him in side reins and gave him lots of cookies. Welcome to the working world, baby horse!
We are coming up on a year together, and I have lots to say about that. However, I’ll save that for our official anniversary.
I’ve never owned a horse as young as Po, and I’ve also never had so many developmental pictures to look at. It’s fascinating to see how he’s changed over the years.
At five, he’s sticking a hair over 16.1 hands and has finally caught up his shoulder to his hind end. I doubt he’ll grow much more vertically, but I hope he continues to fill out. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if his neck and shoulder got thicker, but that’s my bias from Simon coming through. I love me a huge, hunkin’ front end, but Poet’s hind end is much nicer than Simon. Some of that is muscle from work of course, but a lot of it comes naturally.
When I first got him, he felt wildly unpredictable. In a span of thirty seconds he could go from raging idiot to calm puppy. I learned to live very much in the moment with him, and take things as they come.
Now a year later, he’s a lot more even keeled. Sure, he gets wild sometimes and he still has a spook. Usually I have plenty of warning for when those things are going to happen. Last week before my lesson he just felt wild. I got on without lunging to see if things got any better, and within five minutes he did a big spook at a horse snorting in the field (insert eye roll here). I got off and lunged to find him leaping and bucking and generally acting feral. However, once he got it out of his system I got back on and found a mature, behaved horse. These days are less and less frequent though. I take that as a sign of maturity.
Our progress is pretty slow moving at the moment. A lot of that is due to the weather and our lack of an indoor. Rain and mud means riding has been inconsistent. While we might not be progressing super quickly, he hasn’t done much regressing during the rainy season. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had truly a bad ride, which is amazing.
Slowly, very slowly, I’m getting more confident jumping him. Our crossrail courses (rarely videod) are really good now, because I feel super confident and trust him. When the jumps go up, that confident dips a bit… but it’s getting better. He should be jumping boxers and little 2′ oxers by now, but I’m just not mentally there yet. I’m telling myself that I have to be a brave and confident leader for him since he’s so green. There’s no use pushing ahead of where I am mentally for the sake of a horse show or a training milestone. We’ll get there eventually. Poet doesn’t mind taking the slow road.
Unfortunately, all of Pascale’s medical expenses have zapped my show budget for the time being. I’m working on building it back up, but hope to start taking him places late spring/early summer. First we’ll go hang out and maybe school. Then we’ll go school and learn to be a show horse without the pressure of competing. I’ll continue this until he’s doing courses at home with a change for my trainer. When that happens, she’ll start showing him some.
It’s certainly a long road with a not-so-baby dragon, but I’m happy with where we’re at. Really, there is no rush. Sometimes I see people with three-year-olds and four-year-olds that are already out showing and winning in the baby greens. Watching that makes me wonder if I’m failing my horse, but then I get a very quick reality check.
He’s super happy living in his field, and we’re steadily getting him more trained and better behaved. That is the opposite of failure. So for now, I stay the course and work on getting braver when I’m jumping him.