Adventures Of Diesel

HJ Fox Show | One Stride At A Time

The last few weeks have been crazy busy. With the semester coming to an end, a tidal wave of assignments and exams have made riding pretty much non-existent in my life for the past few weeks. It has also made finding time to post almost impossible!

Before I get into the details of the show, I have to share a picture and a video from when I got to come home and watch Dies school before the show last week! My awesome trainer has been working really hard on developing his adjustability and putting him over some bigger fences to raise his confidence. It was the first time I have seen him go over anything higher than 2 ft. Of course, my trainer is amazing and made him look like a seasoned pro. Enjoy the cuteness!

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Diesel jumping a “big boy” jump a couple of weeks ago!

 

HJ FOX SHOW | FRIDAY SCHOOLING

If I had to pick a theme for this show in one word, it would be “progress”. This weekend was full of so many triumphs and accomplishments for Diesel both in and out of the show ring.

Like any other horse, Diesel has his own quirks that, while endearing in a way, can be frustrating and discouraging to work through at times. Some of our worst enemies right now are his lack of confidence and tendency to become easily overwhelmed. Yes, they are pretty common quirks in younger horses, but boy, are they a doozy! They most often manifest at the beginning of the ride with him starting off very tense through his body and becoming hyper-alert to everything except his rider. In the saddle, it feels almost like you’re riding a fully stretched rubber band just waiting to snap under pressure.

However, he really surprised me this weekend with how well he coped with his insecurities in a busy show environment. There was a definite improvement from the last show. His transition from walking off the trailer to going into the covered arena to school on Friday was much smoother than it has been in the past. Last show, it took around 20 minutes of intense flat work to ease his mind, stop the unnecessary spooking, and get a more relaxed, supple pony. However, this time it only took him 10 minutes to get to that relaxed state of mind and get to work. I’d say that’s progress!

 

 

HJ FOX SHOW | BABY GREEN CHAMPION

Like last show, I was up bright and early at 5:30 in order to drive to the horse park, tack Dies up, and lunge him to get the early morning sillies out before meeting my trainer at the covered arena to warm up at 7:00 am sharp. This show I got to break out my new Back On Track Mesh Sheet that I got on sale from SmartPak, and let me tell you, I am a believer! After wearing the sheet all night, Dies came out of the stall nice and loose despite the weather taking a 40-degree dip overnight. Of course, I will have to do a full review with pictures, so stay tuned for that in a few days!

He was an absolute rock star on the flat and took home the first-place ribbon out of a large class comprising of 16 horses. He was visibly much more relaxed than he was at the last show, which translated into some really nice, flowy trot work. He is starting to settle much quicker than he used to, which definitely translates into a better performance on the flat. Both of his over fences rounds were really wonderful as well! He put in some great rounds that earned him a first-place ribbon for his first round and a third-place ribbon for his second round. Unlike the last show, he graced us with some flawless flying changes, which in of itself was a huge accomplishment for him! Go Dies!

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With a first on the flat and a first and a third over fences, he ended up taking home the champion ribbon for the whole division! I was such a proud horse mom!

 

Not only did he do extremely well in the baby green division, but he also knocked it out of the park in the schooling hunter division as well. He ended up placing second on the flat and second in his first over fences course out of 24 horses, which was absolutely amazing!

 

Dies also put in some really great trips on Sunday, but sadly, the new judge just didn’t seem to agree with me. He was an absolute angel both on the flat and over fences and put in some of the best trips he has had yet even though the ribbons didn’t quite reflect that. Oh well! That’s just how it is in hunterland sometimes! I couldn’t be any prouder of my pony and all that he has accomplished this past weekend!

The next show we have planned isn’t until July. However, that will give us plenty of time to improve and grow! I can’t wait to dive into summer!

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Adventures Of Diesel

A Day Of Ups and Downs: Dies’s Third Show

As much as I would love to be able to sit down and write about how fantastic the baby horse was yesterday, I’m afraid I can’t say he was a complete angel the entire time this time out. However, I guess you can’t expect perfection from baby green beans 100% of the time. 😬 Bad days are bound to happen – even to the most seasoned show horse.

Yesterday we trailered Dies and three other horses to a small schooling show at Wisteria Farm in Monroe, GA to get him out and about before the “real” horse shows coming up next month. Unlike the last two shows, Dies had to spend some of the day tied to the trailer since we decided not to rent a stall for the day. After all, he has to learn patience at some point. It was all fine and dandy until he ran out of hay. Let me tell you – this did NOT sit well with him at all. He decided that learning patience was not on his list of to-dos, but little does he know that patience is a part of every horse show!

Most of the day was spent with him pacing, “digging to China”, pitching temper tantrums both at the trailer and on the lunge line, screaming at the top of his lungs whenever his travel buddies would leave, and angrily eating his hay. I’m really not kidding about him angrily eating his hay. One of his favorite things to do when he doesn’t get his way is to show his displeasure by angrily grazing or tearing at his hay net. It’s quite comical.

Since he spent most of the time that he was tied to the trailer acting like a fool, he ended up snapping his leather halter in half and “running” free for a few minutes. By running I mean that he walked around the trailer with a confused look on his face that seemed to say “mom, I don’t think this is what I should be doing”. If you are looking for a durable halter, definitely don’t buy Dover’s cheap triple stitch halter. This is the second one that has snapped in half on me, and I would rather not have a loose horse! Of course, I can’t expect too much from a cheap leather halter. It looks like I am going to be on the search for a new barn halter for him. If you have any good ones, let me know below in the comments!

Since the show was running a tad late due to lots of entries, we opted to just stick him into the 2′ division instead of waiting for the 2’3 due to his temper tantrums and lack of entries in the 2’3. Even though he was a brat on the ground, he performed like a rock star and put down two of his best trips to date and flatted beautifully. I was sure that he was going to explode under saddle, but to my surprise, he pulled it together for his classes and behaved like a champ – even when the horse in front of him in the warm-up arena bucked its rider off.

There was a definite improvement from the last show, which is so rewarding to see. His jumping rounds are really starting to come together and are looking smoother and smoother each time out. Of course, height is not an issue – it’s just everything in between haha! Unlike the last show, his turns to the jump were much smoother with no drifting to the left, and his pace was much more rhythmic. The only blip was that he trotted before the second jump in one of the outside lines, but I would much rather see him go slow than run at the jumps. I know he can’t wait until he gets to jump the big boy jumps – these are just speed bumps to him!

 

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PC: Equifest at Wisteria Farms

 

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PC: Equifest at Wisteria Farms

 

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PC: Equifest at Wisteria Farms

 

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PC: Equifest at Wisteria Farms

 

His flat work has continued to improve as well. He is continuing to build fitness and is now getting strong enough to really hold himself together rather than relying on the rider’s hand to hold him. His transitions are getting quicker and smoother as well. We are continuing to build his confidence and fitness, and it is really starting to pay off. Overall, I was very impressed with his improvement and behavior under saddle! I couldn’t have asked him to be a better nugget for my trainer. She has done an excellent job with him so far! I was beaming with pride the whole time he was in the ring. I am just so blessed to own a horse as wonderful as him – even if he was a jerk on the ground yesterday.

 

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PC: Equifest at Wisteria Farms

 

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PC: Equifest at Wisteria Farms

 

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PC: Equifest at Wisteria Farms

 

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PC: Equifest at Wisteria Farms

 

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PC: Equifest at Wisteria Farms

 

All in all, I would definitely consider this show a success despite the rocky start. He kept me on my toes all day and almost drove me crazy, but I was incredibly proud of him for pulling it together in the ring and giving my trainer some great rides. Since he is not usually a brat on the ground, I am just going to attribute it to having to stand at the trailer without hay for hours. I can’t blame him for getting impatient, really. On the bright side, working through his bad behavior gave me a huge confidence boost. A few months ago, I would have been a nervous wreck if I had to handle him acting like a fool. He can be quite a handful sometimes, but I guess that just comes with the young horse territory!

I also wanted to give a huge thank you to everyone who had a part in running Equifest! It definitely isn’t easy to host a horse show, but they pulled it off with great success. Everyone at the show was so friendly and made our experience a great one. If you are looking to attend a nice schooling show with friendly staff and a nice setup, definitely give Equifest at Wisteria Farm a try! Here is the link to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/equifestatwisteriafarms/

Anyway, I can’t wait until his next show the weekend of March 10th! It will be his second “big boy” weekend show, so hopefully, he will be on his best behavior! I am really looking forward to the first full weekend show of the year!

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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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