Adventures Of Diesel

AAHJA Show and HJ Fox Show Recap

Life has been crazy busy with college and the beginning horse show season, so I’m a little late to the game with blogging about our first two shows of the season! By a little late, I mean almost a month late – oops! ūüė¨

There isn’t a whole bunch to say about either show in particular, so I thought it would be fun to just condense the two into one post. After all, I think it’ll keep everything a little more manageable. We’ll see how this goes haha!

Idlewild Farms | AAHJA Show Series

We were super lucky for this show because Georgia decided to grace us with a beautiful, dry weekend after weeks of constant rain! We decided to take full advantage of the lack of rain and decided to kick off the show season by entering Diesel into a small schooling show 15 minutes from the farm.

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Expectations for this show were set very low. My trainer¬†decided to enter me and Dies into the 18″ or 2 ft division just to assess where we were at confidence-wise. However, being able to get on and w/t around without incidence would have been a win in my book. This was for a few reasons: 1) this was Diesel’s first time off property since October, 2) his under saddle time has been very limited due to Georgia’s recent decision to adopt a monsoon season, and 3) this was his first time at this particular farm.

Since it was just a one day show, we decided to trailer in that morning and just stay the day. This was all fine and dandy until Dies decided being tied to the trailer was for the birds and promptly untied himself in order to take a quick walk-about around the farm. Sigh.

Other than that, the day went pretty smoothly. Dies ended up being pretty darn great for our o/f courses and gave me the confidence boost that I needed in order to start preparing to move up to the 2 ft in the next couple of shows. We had a few moments where I had to remind him that we needed to go turtle speed for the adds, but overall, he was a very good boy. The flat,¬†on the other hand, was not our best performance. It wasn’t terrible, but Dies was definitely not on his A-game. For some reason, he was convinced that the standards standing beside the arena fence that had been there the entire day suddenly wanted to eat him, and once he got his mind on that, it was history.

 

Despite our adventurous flat class, Dies and I managed to pull our first champion together! Granted, it was a small class though.¬†ūüėā

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March Classics | HJ Fox Show Series

This show was Dies’s first official show of the season. I call this show the first official show because it consisted of him being stalled away from home for the weekend. Of course, if you knew Diesel in real life, you would know that he considers this a very big deal on Fridays. Saturday and Sunday? No big deal. But Fridays? Yeesh, we’re a screaming, spooking ball of anxiety.

Fridays are always a bit of a circus for us with all of the¬†commotion created by the trailers coming in and out, but this one, in particular, was quite a doozie. He just would not settle down. I keep telling myself that this too shall pass, but I can’t help but think, will it? It certainly doesn’t seem like it. I mean, the guy has a whole year of being exposed to the Friday schooling craziness and showing at this venue under his belt, but for some reason, he still just cannot handle Fridays. Maybe we’ll get there… someday.

 

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At least he’s cute though!¬†

 

He redeemed himself on Saturday and Sunday by being a perfect muffin for his first ever 2’6 classes! There is a lot we need to continue to work on (i.e softness to the fences and raising his confidence over bigger fences), but for his first show at this height, he did wonderfully. He had nice, solid changes and was pretty adjustable throughout each course, so I consider that a success. Not to mention, he even managed to snag 3rd place in his first ever hunter handy course out of a large class!

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I think the highlight of this show was when he stepped out of the 2’6 ring with my trainer and went straight into carting me around the mini hunters! Being able to make the transition from 12 ft strides and changes to doing the adds was a huge milestone for him as it shows just how much more mature he has become over the winter. I couldn’t be more proud of him!

 

Overall, it was a great first show of the season for Dies! Like always, there is still so much that we need to work on in order to get him performing his very best, but boy, he has really come a long way since the beginning of last season!

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Dies seems pretty proud of himself too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.¬†ūüė¨¬†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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Gracie the Corgi

Dog Training: One Step at a Time

Like the name of my blog suggests, ponies (well horses) and Pembroke Welsh Corgis are the two loves of my life. They help keep me sane in this crazy, busy life of mine! Now that you have been introduced to my two wonderful ponies, Diesel and Diablo, I feel that it’s time to put the spotlight on the other love of my life: my corgi, Gracie!

Gracie came into my life three years ago as a tiny eight-week-old puppy. Even though she is no longer the little puppy that I picked up from the breeder, she continues to make me smile every day with her big personality and her undying love of fetch. She absolutely adores people and would sit on your lap all day if you would let her. She is just a love bug! I could probably write an entire book about how much I love my dog.¬†ūüėĄ

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However, I have been struggling with her fear of interacting with other dogs after she was attacked and strangled by another dog at a boarding facility when she was around a year old. I trusted this boarding facility, which I will not name for privacy reasons, with taking excellent care of her while we were on our first vacation without her. In return, the social and playful dog I dropped off was returned to me with bloodshot red eyes due to strangulation, a bite wound, and fear after being cornered and attacked by another dog. The worst part is that this “facility” never even notified me that she was hurt. What a great way to be greeted when coming back off of vacation! Ever since then her fear of other dogs approaching her has continued to progress. Living in fear is no life at all.

I have been working on building back the confidence that she lost after she was attacked, but it has been a slow process. I recently decided to seek the help of a professional dog trainer to help her further as I don’t have the skills needed to help her fully. Battling fear is not an easy feat. I thought that blogging her progress might be helpful to others who are dealing with fearful dogs – it is tough to do alone! Especially, when other owners don’t take the time to properly train their dogs or work with their aggressive dogs. You can only control how your dog will react.

We had our first consultation the other afternoon with the wonderful owner of Sit Happens Dog Training, Tina Spring. In our first session, Tina sat down with me and discussed all of the options that we can try to help her overcome her fear. Some of those options included: changing her diet, using pheromone collars to help calm her mind, using training techniques that employ classical conditioning methods, and trying calming medication. We also discussed taking her to the vet office where I work and doing a blood test on her to rule out thyroid issues since they frequently occur in corgis and can cause intense anxiety and fear. I will start off by giving you a little background information to help you to follow along with my rambling.

After speaking with the Tina, I decided to go ahead and try a combination of a few of her suggestions. I will start off by saying that I am personally not a huge fan of immediately medicating dogs without trying other options first. Since I work at a vet clinic, I decided to ask my boss’s opinion and he agreed that medication should be the last option. That being said, I chose to try changing her diet, using a pheromone collar, and working with the trainer to develop a bi-weekly program to help her conquer her fears.

I currently feed Gracie Fromm Gold Holistic Adult dry dog food, which I absolutely recommend to anyone who wants to give their dog a wholesome and healthy dog food. It is not easily available where I live, so I order it through SmartPak! I have personally had great results when feeding the food such as a shiny coat and great body condition. It is a great, wholesome dog food that uses real ingredients and meat instead of all of the by-products. I will include the list of ingredients and the guaranteed analysis down below if you are interested.

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Despite how much I love this food, Gracie has been slowing down on her eating. She is notorious for going off of her food when she gets tired of eating the same food for too long. She is just a picky eater! Tina suggested that I give Wellness dog food a try. After doing some research on the brand and the different food options they have, I decided to try alternating between Fromm Gold and the Wellness Core Grain-Free Original food. If you aren’t familiar with rotating foods, I definitely recommend that you go out and read some of the research supporting it – especially if you have a finicky dog. I am going to try rotating her food bi-monthly to keep her interested and provide her with different nutritional values to maintain a well-rounded diet. I will, of course, keep you updated on how well that works out for her as this will be my first time trying both the rotating schedule and the Wellness dog food. I will include the ingredients of the Wellness food down below if you are interested in seeing it’s breakdown!

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I also decided to try using a pheromone collar to help control her anxiety before turning to medication. There has been some great research behind using these collars, and there is no evidence of them having any bad side-effects unlike most of the calming medications on the market. I figured that it definitely couldn’t hurt to give them a try. If you are not familiar with pheromone collars, they produce a synthetic dog appeasing pheromone similar to the pheromone that their mother produced when they were puppies. This pheromone has a calming effect on the dog, which can help them adjust to new environments and stressful situations. I decided to try out the Adaptil Calming Pheromone Collar as it is the one that has the most research behind it. You can buy it on Chewy for $17.89, which, honestly, is not too terribly expensive. She has been wearing it for about four days now, so it is a little too early to tell how it works in the long run. I do have to say that she definitely seems calmer in general while wearing it. If your dog is easily stressed, I would definitely say that it would be worth giving a try!

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Before I get into it, the exercise I want to share with y’all I want to state that this exercise is the intellectual property of Tina Spring at Sit Happens Dog Training – it is not mine. Now, to round out this long post, I decided that I would share this particular exercise as it is very easy to do and is basically the foundation for dog training. It looks super simple, but it is such a great tool to use when in distracting situations where you want to teach your dog self-control and to listen to you instead of their instincts. To be honest, Gracie is extremely good at it since she was taught this exact exercise in puppy school. It is just a good thing to continue to practice nonetheless. The goal is to use this training technique during exposure exercises when we start conditioning her. I will provide a link to the video where Tina will demonstrate the exercise so that maybe you can get on the right track with your dog! Knowledge is power!

I hope that this post was helpful to all of you dog owners out there! I can’t wait to update y’all on Gracie’s progress towards living a confident and worry-free life!

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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 Рespecially 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

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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