Life So Hard Mom Y

The great thing about it being the end of the season AND having taken all the pressure off Archie is when I went out of town for four days, I went “meh, he gets turnout, he’ll be fine” and just… left. I know my trainer would tell me if anything seemed off, but I didn’t think Archie would really care about having a mini fall break of his own.

While he was on vacation, I was grooming for a friend at Hagyard Midsouth Team Challenge!

To give some background, Archie isn’t hot. Or truly ‘spooky’. He’s actually super brave (almost… too brave, ahem, when he thinks he’s going to FIGHT xc jumps). What he is though, is a little ADHD. His brain goes Mach 1 at all times and he notices everything. A stream of consciousness from him would go something like, “What that? Why that person there? Who reset that jump? Why is that jump blue? What are the velocity forces of jumping an oxer? Do you like jumping oxers? That change in arena footing looks weird. Oh, a truck driving by. It’s black. Do you have a black truck? I think you need a black truck. White trucks are concerning. LOOK AT THAT ROLLTOP HOW DARE IT BE THERE I WANT TO BITE IT. I can’t bite it? Well, FINE THEN I AM LEAVING YOU ARE THE WORST MOM EVER I HATE YOU”

BITE FENCE

It’s exhausting. You have to maintain total neutrality amidst the drama. Once you’re jumping, his brain quiets down.. some. But flatwork? ADHD 1st grader at Disney World

When I got to the barn last night, I had a moment of “uhoh” when I realized it was 50 degrees, raining and my horse hadn’t been ridden in almost a week. So, I tacked up, threw him on the lunge line and figured I’d see what I had.

Photo from last week, um this horse changed colors overnight

Well, what I had was a horse who was content to trot around like a show hunter, but had absolutely zero interest whatsoever in going any faster. It took everything in me to get him to go canter a circle and even that was a pathetic little canter. He kept looking at me like, “MOM Y THO?” so I shrugged, grabbed the mounting block and hopped on.

For as alert as this horse is about everything (seriously, his mind goes 150 mph at ALL TIMES), he was downright lazy. Tried to western pleasure jog around. Only wanted to walk. Cantering is like, OMG SO HARD OK.

life so hard mahm

I ended up with a quick 30 minute ride where I reinstalled the go button and called it a day, but I’m so happy that even after his fall break, a decent drop in temperatures and being solo in the dark (we were inside, but it was dark out) Archie is apparently mostly confused about why vacation is over.

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Make haste slowly

I’ve gone radio silent as Archie and I learned each other. Sometimes, you just don’t have anything to say to the whole wide world as you go through the emotions of a new horse. And emotions there have been – like… all of them. I’ve been happy and proud, I’ve been mad, I’ve gone, “WTF DID I DO” and everything in between.

Things came to a bit of a boiling point a few weeks ago and I realized I was putting some artificial pressure on the both of us for absolutely no reason and it was… not good. For either of our mental states. Where did this pressure come from? My own head? Social media? Who knows. What I know is that I was pushing both of us too fast and it was not conducive to success. As it rarely is with horses. You know, still learning these lessons 20 years later.

Do not like pressure mom

We did a mini-derby at home at starter – and it was too much. Dressage was fine, the stadium jumps were fine, but the XC was just too much and too new. We LEAPT over things, we stopped, we spooked, I fell off, it was… a day. We ended on a good note and I went home feeling defeated.

So I made a very intentional decision to take all the pressure off Archie. All of it. If I got on that day and all we did was walk until he relaxed, so be it. Wouldn’t you know, within ~ a week it was like I had a new horse under me. It’s not saying he’s never going to be that horse, or go show or whatever – he totally will. He just was telling me over and over, “MOM I AM OVERWHELMED” and I didn’t hear him until he yelled at me.

Overwhelmed but still very cute

Our big focus right now is just… relaxing. Every ride should feel like a happy nice hack. He’s naturally a horse whose brain goes 100mph (and like.. same) and when I was adding pressure to do this brand new thing in a brand new place in a brand new way he tried, but just said, “OMG I LITERALLY CANNOT EVEN” and his brain sent out smoke from his ears. So, we do everything at 0.8 speed – intentionally slow, working on happy, relaxed ways of going. Some rides we only walk and trot. Sometimes we add jumps. Sometimes we just hack around the fields. Whatever his brain tells me it needs that day.

We like to boop XC jumps on our walks

That brain is going to be a positive eventually – he’s sensitive and smart and I have no doubt he’s going to be fancy and love the challenge of a full XC course eventually. Can just see him being one who is going to absolutely hunt down flags. But right now, our xc lessons are a nice Sunday hack – with some speed bumps thrown in.

And take bareback walks at sunset

And it feels amazing. For the first time, I have this happy, totally game horse underneath me and cantering around the field Sunday, I felt like I could have popped over anything out there. Those starter jumps he felt the need to jump at N/T height a few weeks ago? Loped over like they were boring AF.

“HAI IS THAT A CAMERA I LOVE CAMERAS”

It feels so good to have this happy pony under me and in a lot of ways, while the wake up call sucked, it was what I needed. Archie is going to make me a better rider in the end, for sure, but he’s also reminding me it’s okay to slow down in all aspects of my life. There’s. No. Rush.

Like riding an actual couch tho

(And don’t worry, he’s not particularly inclined to rush.. anywhere. Our XC videos he literally LOPES. Like a western horse. We’re gonna be the only people with time faults at like, Starter)

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The first three weeks

It’s been three weeks with Archie the Tiny Terrorist. (He’s not actually a total terrorist, but he is a small horse and the smaller they are the closer to the Devil so….)

But look how cute tiny terrorist is in a figure 8?!

We’ve established that tantrums only result in working harder, that I can’t steer and that dressage is like, really hard work. He’s also learned water is fun, banks are fun and the cows next door are not going to eat him (okay, the last one is questionable).

Archie has been a gem in our lessons while I have… uh, not. Turns out staring at the standards/jumps/taking your leg off and just becoming dead weight is not conducive to success. Oops. Fortunately, my trainer resolved this by having an entire lesson where two strides out from each fence she yelled, “ATTACK!” in my ear. Unconventional, but successful? I know what my next bonnet is going to say…

But it has cute moments

He’s also getting a training ride/week to just help things along. It felt like a good way to help ensure a successful start and it’s turned out to be a great decision. It helps reinforce what I’m learning in lessons, gives me good homework to work on during the rest of the week and gives me a chance to see that, yes, in fact, my horse can do xyz if I ride and ask correctly and insist upon it.

Because we also do this sometimes

I recently acquired a Pivo and have been playing around with it as well – it’s worked well in schooling rides, but I have yet to get it to fully cooperate during a lesson, so my video over fences is severely lacking. I’m hopeful with some additional experimentation I’ll have success one of these days.

Pivo did follow us… standing? during this lesson…

That’s essentially the extent of Archie’s first three weeks – not a whole lot of exciting stuff going on, but hopefully building a good foundation for the future.

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Here to Party

If you follow on Instagram, you’re already well aware of this news, but it only felt right to write it all down and share here too!

After sending Iggy off to retirement (he’s loving it btw), I pretty much jumped into horse shopping immediately. I couldn’t stand the idea of being horseless. I also came to the conclusion that after two wonderful leases, I was *gulp* ready to buy something.

A handful of Facebook ads later, I had about nine horses to go through which quickly got overwhelming enough, a full on Google Doc had to be created to keep them all straight. I’ll spare you all the rest, but one in particular stood out: a cute 9 year old chestnut gelding doing the hunters located in… Kansas.

Sale pic

Well. I didn’t really want to drive 10 hours, but I also didn’t really want to get on a plane mid-pandemic. Which meant… social media to the rescue? I tracked down his previous trainer, who happened to be an eventer, and then a friend of a friend (okay, so acquaintance of an acquaintance?) who is an undergrad at KState went to go see him for me. She came back with good reports, the owners offered me a trial and so – he got on a trailer and came to Indiana.

Day 1

And that’s how we meet Archie, a 9 year old solid Paint gelding, registered as Impressive Red Raider, but newly registered with USEA to show as Here to Party.

He hasn’t really been expected to have manners and behave like a grown up adult horse except for maybe 7-8 months of his life, so it’s not exactly surprising he thinks he’s a toddler. Add on to that needing teeth done, ulcers and limited turnout – I was willing to forgive some of the issues. Within a week of being at the barn, getting acclimated to turnout (on grass! with friends!) and being on ulcer meds, he was already a happier horse.

Not so sure here

He’s an absolute JOY to jump though – and it only carried over into his very first XC school where he didn’t step a foot wrong. Everything I pointed him at, he was game and acted like he’d been doing this his entire life. I was about to explode with happiness by the end of my lesson. You know, just in time for him to trip walking back to the barn and pull a shoe.

Like, does it get cuter?!

Of course.

So – that’s the latest chestnut gelding with a white face around here, and will be for a good long while. I’m excited to event him, we are already well on the way to get him happier and enjoying his job and of course – we’re really just here to party.

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