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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Adventures Of Diesel

Saturday Fun

Since I am a full-time student and work part-time at a vet clinic, I haven’t been able to make the hour-long drive to see Diesel very often. However, when I do get to make the trip, it is always the absolute highlight of my week! Today was no exception!

I headed straight to the farm after I got off of work today to watch my trainer school baby Dies and swap out his blankets. His Amigo turnout took quite the beating this past month, so it is on its way to get repaired. He somehow managed to put several rips in it even though it is only two months old. Boys will be boys. Since he ripped his own blanket, he is currently outfitted in his brother’s SmartPak Ultimate High Neck Turnout that I managed to snag for $80 during their year-end sale. It’s about a size too big for Dies, but it’ll do for now. You just can’t beat SmartPak’s 10-year warranty – especially when you have a young rambunctious gelding! All of his blankets from here on out will be from SmartPak.

It was a busy day at the farm today with construction going on around the arena and the spreader trucks visiting. Not to mention, the cows that live beside the barn were extremely vocal! With all of this commotion going on, I was a bit anxious to see how Diesel was going to behave. After all, I couldn’t blame him if he was wild!

However, baby Dies was on his best behavior this afternoon! We tacked him up and took him up to the arena to take a look at the scary spreader trucks, and he stood like a rock the entire time they were there. That is a huge deal for him as he is such a scaredy cat by nature. After about ten minutes, he even lost interest in them and decided that checking my pockets for treats was a much better use of his time.

Speaking of treats, Diesel absolutely loves Stud Muffins – especially the peppermint ones! If you want to try them out, they are on sale on SmartPak right now!

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Dies decided to show off for me – he was absolutely fabulous for my trainer today under saddle! He trotted and cantered around so much more relaxed than the last time I watched him school at home – even with all of the commotion going on. He is beginning to understand how to support himself and not rely on the rider’s hands to hold him up. He still has a lot of room for improvement, but I am just so pleased to see him actively learning. There is still a lot of work to do with his changes as we are still working on getting him to change every time when asked. He has great, easy changes, but he loves to be stubborn and act like he doesn’t know what you are talking about. Geldings, haha! He was also an absolute star over fences! His jumping is getting better each time I see him, and he is getting more comfortable with not-so-perfect distances. He looks so much more confident! I am just over the moon with how great he is coming along! I couldn’t ask him to be any more fabulous than he was today.

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Watching him on days like today reminds me of how much I miss riding him! He is such a fun guy to ride. I have to keep reminding myself that I am not the only rider that is not confident 100% of the time, and it is ok to be afraid sometimes. While he is gaining confidence, I am gaining it too. I am hoping that I will be back in the saddle in the next few weeks – I can’t wait!

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Adventures Of Diesel

Adventures Of Baby Dies: Second Show

If you know me, you know that I am definitely NOT a morning person. There’s only one explanation as to why I was up before sunrise yesterday morning – it was horse show day for baby Dies!

We started off this new year by attending a small schooling show hosted by UGA’s IHSA team. It was super low key, which was great for building Dies’s confidence up. Like many young horses, he has a tendency to become a spooky mess when introduced to new situations. The nervousness has been improving over the last few months as we continue to expose him to new places, and it has been so rewarding to see how his confidence has improved with each new place he has visited.

In addition to improving his confidence with new experiences, I decided to try Diesel on SmartPak’s SmartCalm Ultra and U-Guard starting a month ago to see if that would help him to overcome his spookiness at home and away and make him more comfortable. He is a sensitive guy that tends to worry, so I was concerned that ulcers could become a problem – especially now that he is traveling more. I want to give him the best care that I possibly can. Yesterday was the real test to see if they were making any difference in his demeanor.

Dies made the journey here to Athens with two pony buddies in tow. It was quite a sight to see 16.1 hand Diesel beside his new tiny pony friends. He didn’t seem to mind the height difference haha! I hadn’t seen him in a couple of weeks since I have been back in school, so I was so happy to see his squishy little face!

Right after he walked off the trailer, I tacked him up and took him up to the ring to look around and explore. To my surprise, he was so calm and composed even with the “scary” new jump decor and loud shooting noises from next door. He was more concerned with begging for pets and all of my attention. He is such an attention hog. This was the calmest I have ever seen him both out and at home.

When you have seasoned show horses, you can sometimes take for granted the small things like being able to stand beside the arena without worrying about your horse every second. This was the first time since I have owned Dies that he stood quietly and relaxed. He is such a sensitive guy that he is always on high alert – even at home. However, yesterday he was relaxed enough to calmly graze by the arena – this was a first! I got pretty emotional as I was standing there with him because it was the first time that I was able to let my guard down at all with him and enjoy just being with my horse. I was so proud of him.

 

I’m sorry for the sub-par pictures, but they are all screenshots from videos. Hopefully, I will get some better pictures in the next few days. He was such a good boy for my trainer during the whole show! We entered him in the 2′ division again, and he didn’t blink an eye at any of the jumps and behaved so well. I honestly couldn’t have asked him to behave any better. There are many things that we have to work on in his training, but this show was all about building his confidence! If we can get him more comfortable in new situations, everything else will come. His biggest hurdle is his own anxiety.

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He ended up winning both of his flat classes and came out with a second in his last over fences class. I was thrilled! There are definitely a lot of things to work on, but I couldn’t have asked him to be any more well behaved in a new place with a new rider. He was such a good nugget! If the weather cooperates, his next outing will be on February 10th. I can’t wait!

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Adventures Of Diesel

The Journey With My Green Horse So Far

Owning a young, baby warmblood is not for the faint of heart. It can be full of setbacks, bad days, and frustration. However, watching them grow up and learn to use their bodies to their full potential is so rewarding! Not to mention, working with them is so humbling and can teach you a lot about yourself in the process.

I bought baby Diesel the six-year-old Hanoverian on a spur of the moment decision after seeing his ad on Facebook. Who knows how it happened, but within a week after seeing the ad, the bill of sale was signed and he was officially mine! His purchase was such an exciting time for me as I had always dreamed of owning a fancy prospect that had the potential to be something special. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought that I would own such a fantastic young horse.

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However, owning this guy has not been all sunshine and rainbows – any horse owner can agree that horse ownership can be this way. It has had it’s ups and downs. I decided that today would be as good of a day as any to sit down and write about this special guy and chronicle his progress from over the last few months that I have owned him.

Purchasing Diesel was quite an experience for me as I had never purchased a horse out of state. We bought my first horse, Diablo, from a family down the road from me, so traveling six hours from home on a spur of the moment to go try Diesel was exciting and nerve-racking. Diesel was my first “big girl” purchase.

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Diesel the day I went to try him!

It can be hard to try and picture how young, green horses will turn out down the road. You never really know a horse until you are personally working with them and get a real feel for who they are as an individual. Purchasing Diesel was scary in the aspect that I had never owned a young, green horse before – let alone a young, green warmblood. I have ridden for quite a while now (9 years to be exact), but working with green horses is not something I have a lot of experience in. That is where a good trainer and lessons come in!

My first few months in green horse land taught me so much about this industry and myself. Diesel has humbled me and shown me that patience is the key to good horsemanship. I spent the first two months that I owned him working on groundwork to develop a good relationship and set boundaries while my trainer got to work under saddle. Owning a green horse will definitely teach you that this sport is more than just riding and requires patience.

I’m going to be honest with you guys here. Horse ownership is not always sunshine and rainbows, so I’m not going to sit here and tell you guys that my experience so far has been a fairytale because it hasn’t. I want to be real with you guys because social media has a way of making a person’s life seem so perfect and pristine when in reality, it isn’t. Mine definitely isn’t – I’m an imperfect rider and person in general.

To get to the point already: when school started back again this past fall, I made the difficult choice to put Diesel on the market to be sold. At the time, I was convinced that I was not a good enough rider for him and that I never would be. I don’t usually talk about mental health, but my lifelong struggle with anxiety was taking a toll on me and my relationship with riding. Anxiety is my worst enemy – I’m a severely anxious person by nature. It stops me from doing the things that I am passionate about and fills my mind with worries, doubts, and fear. I’m not afraid to admit it – my anxiety was hurting my relationship with Diesel and my relationship with riding. Then, something great happened.

My parents convinced me that putting Diesel in a full-time training program would be the best way to give him the experience that he needs while I am busy with school without having to sell my dream horse. So, I decided to take him off the market, put him in full training, and become the rider that he needs me to be.

I know that some people are more about the “do-it-yourself” mentality, but it has been my top priority to give him only positive experiences so that when he is ready, the transition from being ridden by a professional to an amateur will be easier on both of us and will set us up for success. This has been one of the best decisions for both me and him so far. There is no shame in seeking help – especially with impressionable young warmbloods.

I also have a lot of work to do on myself in order to give him the best ride possible. I have to admit – I am overweight and need to get in better shape. I have made it a priority to start going to the gym so that I can become stronger. Putting him in training is giving me the time to get myself ready, focus on school, and give him the time that he needs to mature.

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On November 3, 2017, Diesel went to his first show in Alpharetta, Georgia with my trainer in the irons. Despite the chilly weather, Diesel had a fantastic first show! We decided to enter him into the schooling hunter division for both days, and he behaved like a gentleman. I was so impressed with how well he handled himself and the busy atmosphere. He even ended the weekend winning his first blue ribbon. Yay Diesel!

Since November, I have moved Diesel to a new farm where he has continued to be in training and is making great progress. It is so exciting to see how much more confident he has become and how far his training has progressed. He is going to be a very special guy!

I can’t wait to see how this handsome guy turns out. Hopefully, in a couple of months, we will be ready to get to work and I will have more posts about our progress together. I am so excited to share my adventures with this guy with all of you!

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