|juuust kidding! as if i would miss a chance to brag about this child genius.|
Opie and I went out and filled the year with activities, to the point where it's still kind of crazy to me that this was his very first year off the track. Everything we did this year, everywhere we went, was a brand new experience for him and yet I feel like I have this horse who's a seasoned professional in whatever I've thrown at him.
Of course being a natural child genius only gets you so far, and all his wonderfulness didn't just poof into existence. A lot of hard work went into making sure I had what I wanted in an equine partner, and sometimes the drama vastly outweighed the fun.
So let's go all the way back to the beginning!
|wow so talented.|
We didn't do much in January because of the record breaking cold, and while I don't have a set temperature limit for riding, I do have a limit for how much I want to ride after doing barn chores every morning in record breaking cold. BM finally called my horse out for being a terrorist though, and basically told me to do something with him before she killed him. The handful of rides I did put in were typical greenie rides. He was good when he was good, and a hot mess when he was bad. Probably the biggest thing that came out of January (besides Opie's official fifth birthday on the 13th!) was that I completely quit on the canter. It was so awful that there didn't seem any point in doing anything with it until other parts of his body started to get stronger and more coordinated.
Opie came up foot sore on the hard ground in February and was off and on for most of the month. Packing his feet and occasional Bute got him through it, but I headed that monster off at the pass this winter and put pads on him a couple weeks ago. This was also the month that I finally looked in my horse's mouth and discovered he had extra teeth. Which was awful. He had those pulled without incident, got the rest of his teeth floated, and went back to business without a care in the world.
We also started lessons, and BM forcefully reminded me that the only way to improve the canter was to do the canter. So I slowly started incorporating short spurts of canter in half seat. It involved a lot of porpoising and head flinging, basically no balance or rhythm, and would often end with him straight up face planting into the ground when he tripped over his own legs. When I say he's a falling down horse, I'm not kidding. This horse ate shit more often than any other I've ever ridden.
Apparently February was a very busy month--mostly because we lucked into some gorgeous spring-like weather--and I also started Dopie's Death Box Training in earnest. His go-to trailer move was to load just fine before immediately bolting backwards off of it. I trailer by myself a lot, and obviously having a polite, safe horse in a Death Box is imperative anyway. We did a couple sessions with minor improvements, and then BM and I decided to go for Opie's first field trip. The trip to the park was a lot of fun and Opie showed off his great adventure brain, but it took us a solid half hour to get him on the trailer at the barn.
|the best at adventures|
In March, we put our heads down and did #werk. More trailer practice, and lessons galore. Opie's trot was really starting to come along as he learned that he could stretch his neck out without falling on his face. The canter was still hit or miss with a heavy lean towards the miss, but everything going on was run of the mill green horse problems. We had one big breakthrough at the end of the month where BM finally unlocked why I was finishing every ride with excruciating hip pain. Opie was dropping one side of his body and throwing me completely out of whack. Once she got on and felt what was happening, we came up with a game plan that got the horse and my hips straight.
Guess what we did in April? MOAR TRAILER PRACTICE! With the kick off to show season just around the corner, it seemed like we worked in the trailer or on the ground with the trailer in mind pretty much every time I was at the barn. Opie got infected with a bad case of the baby racehorse spring naughties and was an unfocused fool for the majority of our rides. He did, however, accomplish his first real jump school, jumped his first 2'3" fence (from the trot, fell down on landing, and then cantered off), and went on his first solo field trip. He was a satanic monster for his trip to the park, both for riding and for trailer loading, and I was experiencing some "Oh shit. Show season is basically here whether we like it or not." feelings.
|first real jumpies|
We kicked off May with the first show of the season right off the bat. I was flying completely solo, but the trailer gods smiled on us and I was able to get Opie there and back with zero drama. He was quite the pill about waiting at the trailer, but had moments where he was able to settle down and pull from his hay net and he never once tried to break free. That was a big win for a horse who had at that point already killed FIVE halters in his short time with me. For the riding itself, he was the same horse I had at home: green and lazy but honest, and he came home with a fourth (68%) and a second (72%).
No rest for the fancy, as the next weekend we were back at it for our GMO's first show of the season. Even in that short week between shows, his confidence in himself skyrocketed. It was like he went from young, green, the world is so big horse to the worldliest horse alive. He had been places. He had done things. He was #childgenius. He was still a squirrelly monster at the trailer, and our trailer neighbors were like, "I can recommend some great calming supplements!" but once again as soon as I was on him he was a cool customer. He just likes doing the things, not waiting to do those things. The judge loved him and we got a score over 70% for the second show running. There were no ribbons awarded at this show, but both our tests would have won based on scores.
There were three weeks before the next show and we spent it doing a lot of hacking out and fine tuning the basics. We finished the month of by going on another solo trip to the park where Opie was perfect for the riding, but a gigantic asshole about loading both at the barn and at the park.
|second ever show. |
not bad for a horse that was banished from cantering at the beginning of the year.
June started off with three rated shows crammed in one after the other. The first weekend was a two day show where we'd done Opie's first show. Opie still pined away for friends at the trailer, but he was also still a total star for the riding. On day one I was the second ride of the day and, half asleep, I followed down the previous rider's crooked center line. The test was quiet and solid, but my stupid mistake cost us first place by point two percent! Still bitter over this. He was much less focused for the second test though, and finished third. The second day he was again unfocused for the first test and just really felt like he was still a green horse. Which he was. That only garnered us a fifth, but I pored over the judge's comments and rode my lady balls off for the final test to get us a 68% and Dopie's first official blue ribbon.
The next weekend we went to a new facility. Opie had had a bad day prior to this show, and it transferred over to him being awful at the show itself. He was full on baby racehorse and couldn't relax to save his life. We somehow eked out a fourth and a second regardless, but we were both ready for a break from showing at that point.
We spent the rest of the month alternating between time off, trail rides, and learning about jumping. We also learned about the Unfun Work, but for the most part it was a lot of time off and a good mental recharge.
|tense and naughty, but looking cute because sneaky|
I originally planned on making this one post, but we just did too much! Part two to follow tomorrow!
And, as a reminder, throughout the year show links can be seen on the sidebar. Once that year is over, they all go up top to the page appropriately titled All the Shows. You can use the search option also located on the sidebar if you want to go back and read something that I've referenced because I'm much too lazy to link back to topics throughout the year like more thorough bloggers.