Adventures Of Diesel, The Life of Diablo

The Best Yet | HJ Fox Show

I know, I know. I’m a little late to the game posting this, but between prepping for the upcoming semester and work, I just haven’t quite had the time to sit down and get to writing. That is going to change, however, as I have a few exciting new posts in the works that will be published within the next few days! For now, let’s just start with a recap of our last show!

Friday

The weekend started off with me making a last minute decision to load Diablo up on the trailer with his little bro and take him to school in the horse park’s oh-so-wonderful Olympic stadium. I mean, if you’re already taking one horse, you might as well take the other too! 😊

It has been quite a while since I have taken Diablo to school off-property since his semi-retirement. However, like the good boy he is, he jumped right off the trailer and was ready to go – no prep required. I jumped right on, rode him down to the stadium, and had an absolutely fabulous ride! We even managed to sneak in a jump over the tiny trainer’s medal log. It definitely wasn’t anything close to beautiful, but for an old man that hasn’t jumped anything in over a year, it wasn’t half bad!

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Of course, after we had our fun and got his baby brother bathed and all tucked in for the night, we loaded Diablo back up on the trailer and took him back home. While I had so much fun getting to school my old guy, it was a little bittersweet for me. I can’t say that I didn’t shed a tear thinking about how we were competing in this same arena together a few years ago. It’s days like that that make me really wish I could go back in time and relive it all over again. Oh, how I miss showing my old guy!

Saturday

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Saturday started out a bit rough in the baby green division for Dies. While he ended up blowing away the competition in his flat class, we experienced some technical difficulties over fences.  He wasn’t badly behaved per se. He just really showed his greenness by pulling my trainer down the lines and trying to convince us that he had never heard of a flying change before. Despite that, he did relatively well handling being ridden in a brand new arena and not having a lunging session that morning.

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He did, however, make up for his not-so-stellar rounds in the baby green division by completely rocking the schooling hunter division later that day! He flatted beautifully pulling a first place in a competitive class and two third places out of around fourteen 2′ and 2’6 horses – earning him a champion ribbon for the division! He was stellar!

Sunday

Sunday was definitely Dies’s day as he came out so relaxed and focused. My trainer put in some absolutely gorgeous rounds on him in the baby greens and for the classic! In fact, her classic round was pretty much the epitome of perfection and ended up receiving a fourth place out of 26 horses! I am so sad that I forgot to video it! Like the day before, he flatted beautifully and received a first place out of twelve horses. While his rounds were beautiful, he only came out with a third over one o/f classes as his lead changes weren’t 100%. There were a few that he had to skip-change, which definitely cost him points in the consistency department. However, I definitely believe they were some of his best rounds to date minus the changes. It did earn him a reserve champion nonetheless!

Later that day, we decided to enter the schooling hunter division again to continue to work on developing his changes on course and finesse some things we can’t do at home. His rounds were even better than the ones he put down that morning! He just kept getting better and better! Amazingly, he ended up winning both of his o/f courses out of around sixteen 2′ and 2’6 horses!

Another spur-of-the-moment decision landed me in the saddle to flat him in his schooling hunter flat. He was being so perfect for my trainer that I decided to take the leap of faith and show him again! I even managed to put my big girl pants on and trust him enough to ride him to and from the arena. That definitely wouldn’t have even been a possibility a few months ago! As you can see from the photos below, I definitely wasn’t quite prepared to show, but at least my sunshirt was white! 😂

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I had an absolute blast as he was a complete saint for me! He was so soft and supple despite how packed the arena was. Even though this was my first “real” show in about two years and our second time in the show ring together, we managed to pull out a third place out of a very large and competitive class!

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I just can’t put into words how happy this guy makes me! He is definitely a dream come true for me, and I can’t wait to see what the future has to hold for us!

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Adventures Of Diesel

Our First Horse Show | Serenity Creek Schooling Show

Buckle your seatbelt guys, this post may get a little sappy.

Diesel and I completed a huge milestone this past weekend – our first horse show together! My trainer and I loaded up some horses early Saturday morning and trailered into a cute little farm in Monroe, GA named Serenity Creek Equestrian Center to attend one of their schooling shows. I have to say – it was one of the best-run schooling shows I have been to in a while. The staff was so nice and welcoming, the arena was well groomed, and the ribbons were super nice for such a small show!

Since it was Diesel’s first time having a non-pro ride at a show, my first show riding in three years, and our first time showing together, we decided to take it easy and set ourselves up for success by entering the adult beginner division and green horse division. I also decided to keep my goals for this show small: don’t fall off and give my horse the best ride I can possibly give him. That’s it.

Our classes actually went extremely well! We had some great moments where everything seemed to fall into place and all of the things we have been working on in lessons seemed to click for me. In those moments, the connection was there, he was relaxed and focused, and I was actually riding both sides of my horse instead of resorting to my inside rein like an idiot. Not only were there some really quality moments, but Dies also behaved like a complete gentleman! He was on his best behavior despite some of the other horses’ shenanigans ringside and some very scary speakers by the judge’s booth. I honestly just can’t put into words how proud of him I am!

Is there room for improvement? Absolutely! First and foremost, I have got to get back in shape and lose all of the extra “fluffiness” I have gained while in college. I am actually embarrassed by how chunky I have gotten. 😞 Not cool, Ashlyn. Secondly, I need to work on maintaining my connection with him throughout the entire ride to keep him focused on me rather than letting his attention wander. And lastly, I need to continue working on achieving quieter, softer transitions by timing my half halts better and supporting him with my leg and seat. However, it is all a work in progress and for our first show together, I was very pleased with how he behaved and how I rode! I felt as though I was an active rider rather than a passenger, which was a huge win for me! I couldn’t have asked for a better first time out!

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Although placings weren’t even in the forefront of my mind for this show, we ended up doing extremely well for our first show together! In the adult beginner division, we ended up placing second in every class out of six earning us a reserve champion ribbon. That alone had me glowing with pride, but when we went into the green horse division and pulled out a first, second, and third, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! Two reserve champions at our first show together? No way! I was beyond thrilled!

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All smiles with my perfect pony! (PC: Serenity Creek Equestrian Center)

Even though it was just a few flat classes at a small show, I came out of the arena feeling as though we had just won the $1M Grand Prix! I was that proud of my sweet boy and all that he has accomplished in the last few months! Actual tears may have been shed, and that is not an exaggeration!

Not only was he fantastic for me, but he was also perfect for my trainer in the schooling hunter division. He was such a good boy and behaved wonderfully despite the stifling summer heat. He and my trainer also ended up champion of the division with a first, second, and fourth with my trainer’s sale pony close behind in reserve. Overall, it was a fantastic show for us! I hope there will be many more shows in our future!

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The best boy! (PC: Serenity Creek Equestrian Center)
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My trainer’s sale pony killing it! (PC: Serenity Creek Equestrian Center)

As I’m sitting here writing this post, I am just overflowing with pride and love for Dies and gratitude for everything that my amazing trainer and parents have done for me and him throughout this journey of ours so far! My trainer has put so much hard work into both of us, and I honestly can’t thank her enough for that. And my parents, gosh, they have sacrificed so much to make owning this horse a possibility for me. I am beyond thankful!

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Adventures Of Diesel

HJ Fox Show: Baby Green Champion

Now that I’ve recovered from a case of the horse show hangover, I think it’s time that I fill y’all in on Dies’s horse show experience this past weekend!

This past weekend Dies and five other horses from the farm trailered into the Conyers International Horse Park for the first show in HJ Fox’s show series. For Dies, this was his first weekend-long show of the year, his second one ever, and his first time at competing at the horse park. With three shows under his belt, Diesel came to this show ready to roll. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my nice camera, so please forgive me for the less than ideal picture quality. I’ve been kicking myself for it!

Our weekend started early Friday afternoon with a pre-show schooling session in the horse park’s covered arena. It was his first time in the covered arena, so naturally, he started off a little tense and on edge. Luckily, my trainer knows just what to do when he gets that way and was able to get his head back in the game with some good ole circles and keeping his feet moving and brain thinking. Once he was able to relax his mind, he really was able to stretch down and give us that floaty movement I love so much. After the flat work was done, she went right in to jumping with him and laid down some really solid courses. He had some great moments and really put in the effort at quite a few of the jumps. I was overall really pleased with how he ended!

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DAY 1 | BABY GREEN AND SCHOOLING HUNTER

Since the baby green division was the first division of the day, I was at the barn bright and early in order to have him tacked up and down at the arena to school by 7:00 am. Armed with my handy dandy ringside backpack outfitted with treats, a hard brush, a cooler, and plenty of other goodies, my job as the designated “treat lady” was a-go and I somehow managed to make it to the covered on time. Luckily, we were able to warm up in the covered and stay in the arena when the flat started at 7:45. He flatted decently well, a little on the tense side with a few whinnies, but not bad at all. It definitely wasn’t his best performance to date, but I felt it was solid. He did what she asked of him and managed to hold it together even when he got cut off twice. Despite his good behavior, his ok performance just wasn’t quite good enough to ribbon. However, I was pleased with how well he handled himself, so he got some snuggles and a few treats and was raring to go out and jump.

Unfortunately for us, the show decided to scratch warmups due to class size, so our first course wasn’t what we had hoped. My trainer ended up asking him for the add steps to keep him composed and start his day off right, so of course, he didn’t place in that class as that resulted in a few trot steps and the undesirable step. However, she did end up asking for and nailing the full horse strides for his second course, which ended up looking beautiful. He put in some good effort over the jumps and really handled himself well even with kids running around outside of the ring. He ended up receiving a fourth place ribbon for this course out of 18 horses, so I was over the moon with that!

We ended up also entering him into the schooling hunter to get a few more courses under our belt since we ended up not getting to do the warm-up. His good behavior followed him to this division as well and he ended up putting in some really solid rounds. Unfortunately, due to a large number of entries and varying experience levels, neither of his rounds placed. His courses just aren’t quite polished enough to be competitive with the veteran competitors yet, and that is perfectly ok! We ended up not getting to do flat due to conflicting ring schedules, which was perfectly fine with Dies. He got to finish the day with lots of treats, snuggles, hay, and plenty of hand walking field trips. Overall, it was a great day! He rode wonderfully for my trainer and behaved like a gentleman in-hand. Any day with good behavior is a good day!

DAY 2 | BABY GREEN CHAMPION

Like the day before, the day started with an early start time of 6:15 for me, which meant I was out the door at 5:30 this morning. That was not such an easy feat with the dreary weather. Unfortunately for us, it was going to be a very wet and nasty day. Once at the barn, I brushed out all of the shavings from his mane and tail, tacked him up, and threw his waterproof sheet over him and trekked it down to the covered in the pouring rain to make it there on time at 7:00 am. With the rain pounding on the covered arena’s roof, earplugs were a must since Dies has a tendency to get distracted really easily. The only minor bump in the road was that we could only find one earplug, so Dies ended up only being half “deaf”. 😂

Despite the nasty weather and one earplug, Dies came out ready to roll and dominate the flat. You could instantly see the difference in his movement from the day before as he was so much more relaxed and supple. He still wasn’t as relaxed as he can be, but it was a definite improvement from how he has been at shows so far. Since he was more relaxed, my trainer was really able to show off his heavenly floaty trot and get him back on his hocks for the canter. I believe that it was one of his best flat classes at a show so far, and the judge seemed to agree as he won the flat out of 14 horses. I was such a proud mom! As soon as he saw me at the gate, he came right over for his bounty of treats and pats. He knew he was a good boy!

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Like the flat, he came out in it to win it over fences. My trainer ended up asking for full horse strides in both of his courses since he won the flat and it definitely paid off. Both of his courses were really, really good. He put in some great efforts to the jumps and was so calm and collected throughout the course. I believe that his two hunter courses are some of the best courses he has ever done as he looked so relaxed and focused. My trainer even commented that at times he felt so round over the jumps that it felt like she was in a 3′ class haha! We were so, so pleased with how he jumped! Once he was finished with his courses, he gots lots of yummy Stud Muffins, pats, and snuggles. We decided that he would be done for the weekend since he was such a good nugget.

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After cooling him out and putting him away, I made the walk down to the arena in the pouring rain to find out his placings for both of his courses. I was absolutely over the moon to find out that he had won second place for both of his hunter rounds making him the baby green champion for the day! I actually teared up when I heard – no lie.

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This is such a huge milestone for him as it was his first time ever championing in a division! It really goes to show just how much he has improved over fences these last few months. It makes me so happy to see him succeed with my trainer in the irons as you can just see how much confidence she gives him – she always brings out the best in him. I hope that I will be able to give that to him too one day.

He is going to get some well-deserved time off for the next days in order to recoup after such a stellar weekend. After all, it is absolutely exhausting being a good boy! I am hoping that since it is spring break for me, I will be able to sneak in a few flat rides once he recoups! I’m ready to get down to business!

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