Today on the subject of “time flies,” I’ve had my horse for two years. While this seems like a blink of time for me, I realize that it may seem like an even shorter period of time for y’all. Mainly because I’ve barely blogged about Baby Po in my prolonged absences.
Truthfully, my biggest takeaway in two years is Oh my god he’s getting SO LIGHT! I’m sure that’s obvious to anyone else, but Poet is my first grey. It’s really crazy how fast that beautiful dark color goes. As an added bonus, he’s at the point now where poop and grass stains show up whereas before they used to blend. I mean, see what happened in the span of a year.
And he’s even lighter now. Don’t mind me… going to go cry into my bluing shampoo.
I have never owned a horse as young as Po, although I rode some young greenies back when I was younger and marginally braver. He’s been a huge learning experience. Though I haven’t re-read the first few blog posts I wrote about him, I can admit now that I was very intimidated by him the first six months. On the ground, he was kind of a nightmare. I’ve seen his hooves/belly more times than I’d ever like to. While he’s never exhibited any naughty behavior under saddle, I felt like it would transfer over. Whether leading him around or riding him, I had a lump in my throat a lot in the early days.
Now there’s nothing he can do on the ground that rattles me. When he’s fresh or naughty or cooped up from stall rest, he will still attempt to rear or leap every now and then. But I see it for what it is–bratty, spoiled, and wild behavior. He’s not mean. He’s never come close to leaping on me or kicking me. Still, we have a lot of groundwork “reminders.” That may be part of his life forever.
Riding wise, I feel like I’m starting to trust him. He’s a kind horse. Yes, he has a spook when he’s fresh. Sometimes I’ve fallen, sometimes I end up on his neck and he stands still until I can get back in the saddle. The first time I fell off he looked horrified that he lost his person. Underneath this baby behavior, there is still the Thoroughbred brain that I love.
In the last two years, we’ve had a lot of big changes. And y’all know another big change is coming up. I’d be lying if I said I was 100% content with where we are training wise. I thought we’d be cruising around horse shows by now with a lead change. But in the last two years there’s been a move across the country, a pandemic, and an injury. Shit happens. With horses, doubly so. Instead of feeling behind, I’m trying to focus on the successes right now.
He’s gotten pretty damn broke on the flat. Yes, there are a lot of things we need to work on (I’m looking at you trot), but his lateral work (at the walk) and turn on the haunches/forehand is better than Simon’s ever was. Before he got hurt, lead changes were very close. Upward transitions need a lot of work (laziest OTTB ever), but he knows his leads and he will collect up nicely when I ask. Most days, he really is a pleasure to ride.
I hope our third year together starts a true partnership in the show ring, but we’ll see how things work out. It won’t be on my timeline, and it won’t be exactly the way that I dreamt it. I’m (slowly) learning to be okay with that.
When I first bought Poet, I bought him for the pursuit of ribbons and nothing else. My heart didn’t feel capable of loving another horse after Simon. Although it didn’t happen in the first six months, maybe even in the first year, I do love Po. He’s such a beautiful horse. I love looking at him. He wears his big, big feelings with no apology. If he’s feeling sweet, he nuzzles me and licks my face like a dog. If he’s in a bad mood, everybody knows. He doesn’t apologize for being himself.
The next year feels like a big make it or break it point in our showing/training goals. I don’t know what I’ll do if he doesn’t end up getting his changes, or decides he doesn’t want to be a show horse. But he’s shown me no inclination that either of those scenarios will be the case.
Yes, he’s incredibly lazy. Yes, he believes he deserves to live at the Hall of Champions in the Kentucky Horse Park so he can be admired and fed with not having to work (he says being a grandson of a Derby winner should be enough to earn him a spot). But he never stops at jumps. He relishes in attention and care, and seems to have realized that working 5 days a week for less than an hour a day is a fair trade for acupuncture, chiro, treats, and all the love and attention of his mother.