Adventures Of Diesel

Diesel Update | Lesson Recap

In the midst of jugging a tidal wave of assignments and studying for tests, Diesel and I have been making some really good, but slow, progress together. It is extremely frustrating to not see improvement as fast as I used to, but I have to face it, I just won’t improve as fast as when I was in high school riding five days a week. However, it is exciting to be back in the saddle with a goal to work towards.

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The First Real Lesson Back: Crossrail Edition

This past Monday I had my first lesson on Diesel since he has been in training and let me tell you, the difference in him is unreal. It is so much easier to focus on the more technical parts of our rides when your horse has some idea of how to do his job without relying on you to hold him every step of the way. At least, it is for me as an amateur. Pros, I give you some major props! Riding young, green horses is hard! It’s sappy, I know, but I got a little teary-eyed when I asked for the canter and he held himself up through the transition rather than falling all into my hand.

The majority of our lesson was spent on the flat, as usual, since that is the most important part of riding! This week, at the trot, we worked on tightening our turns using my outside aids to produce an immediate response rather than letting him bulge his shoulder out to the outside. He has big swooping turns down-pat, but those tighter turns can be a little harder to get when you’re a baby horse. I need to work on using my outside aids more effectively in order to set him up for success all the time. Additionally, I have got to stop hanging on my inside rein when tracking to the left. What a terrible habit! I know my trainer has to be about ready to just rip my arm off as many times as she has to remind me to soften it up. I got a little slack in my year-long break from lessoning, so this is as much of a learning process for me as it is for him. I definitely need a tune up myself!

We also worked on our transitions at the canter by cantering around the arena, asking for a full halt on the diagonal of the arena, and then asking for the opposite lead from the halt. He was a superstar at that exercise – I can really tell how much work my trainer has put into developing his transitions. We definitely still need to work on getting a more immediate halt as it is still hit or miss sometimes. That is mainly due to my fault as I hesitated and didn’t fully commit to the halt. I have to work on that!

Our lesson ended with me getting to pop him over a few crossrails. Believe it or not, it was the first time that I have ever jumped him in the entire time that I have owned him. When I bought him, he was just not far enough along in his training for it to have been a positive experience for him or me. It was definitely worth the wait!

The jumps definitely weren’t anything substantial, but it was a huge step for us as a team. He was such a good nugget for me and packed me around the little course of 12″ crossrails like a pro. I was smiling like a fool the entire time. My baby Dies is growing up! This time we just started out trotting them as I am still learning how to trust him again and am a little rusty over fences. Plus, I definitely don’t have the strength over fences that I had when I rode five days a week so his round jump would have launched me if I had tried to jump him any higher right yet haha! Small steps!

I have to admit, it is hard to not be really critical of myself. After all, I felt like I was riding like a potato the entire ride. You really don’t know how out of shape you are until you jump back into lessons – it really kicked my butt. I can’t help but feel a little disappointed in myself. I feel as though I have taken ten steps back from where I was a year ago, and that is frustrating for me. However, I am trying to stay positive and think of all of the things I have accomplished since started back riding: I got back on my young horse after getting injured after several bad falls. I was able to confidently canter him my second time back on him. I finally got to jump my young horse for the first time in my first lesson back. Finally, I have more confidence on him than I have ever had. That has to be worth something, right? I think so! Progress is progress no matter how small!

If you are feeling down and out about your riding, I challenge you to list out all of the things you have accomplished so far that you are proud of. It really helps you to see that you are making progress even if it feels like you aren’t. It has definitely helped me so far.

Happy riding, everyone! Go out and dominate!

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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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