So It Begins
It always seems that first rides at new barns are always an exciting adventure and today was no different. I moved Beaux to a new barn that is less than a mile from my house, has amazing training facilities, and has an almost perfect balance of stall time and outside time. Not only does our new barn have two areas to ride in, one of which is a lighted grass/dressage arena but just a short hack down the street is a shared galloping area with several of the other barns on our road (including one Olympian from Australia!) but a few miles of hacking trails, I could not ask for anything more. Beaux is outside with a shelter for most of the time but has a cozy stall for breakfast and dinner, for inclement weather, and come summer a nice fan to keep him in the spoiled lifestyle he so richly deserves. Beaux has some turnout buddies and has really settled in nicely, which is just fantastic. Beaux got a couple of weeks to settle in then we have had some chaotic weather that has included rain and “cold” snaps. We finally had a beautiful day so I decided to finally get Beaux back in a riding routine so we can start working towards our goal of competing in Limited Distance rides and dabble in some dressage and local shows. A big part of even moving to Ocala was so that Beaux and I can be more active and enjoy some fun competition, so it was time to get started on our goals.
First, was getting Beaux prepped for our first ride, which mostly consisted of cutting his bridle path and his “champ stamp” ie his freeze brand, so he can look the part of rock star riding horse. Beaux also had his feet trimmed a couple of weeks ago so he is all ready to start back to work. Beaux was fidgety about mounting but he settled down after walking off a couple of times (I need a mounting block for multiple reasons). Once I swung a leg over he settled down and we marched up towards the jumping area to start our warmup. Then IT happened, we were barely into our ride when a piece of fencing decided to become a kite as it lifted out of the back of a pickup truck. Time seemed to slowdown as both Beaux and I were fixated on the giant spook hazard that was happening just outside the riding arena. Thankfully, between Beaux’s great brain and the fact that the fence feel in blessed silence, the only reaction he gave was just to stop and stare at the flying debris. It took only a few seconds after the fencing landed for Beaux to switch gears and he marched off without a second look. I truly had a moment as the fence fell in what felt like slow motion that the thought of, “So, this is how I die, well, I had a good run.” went thought my brain. I just cannot brag enough on those amazing Standardbred brains (take that Red Dead Redemption!) and how solid they are in situations that require sanity.
We just walked for about 20 minutes so we can slowly ease back into work. Beaux was a little distracted for the first few minutes, but soon settled right in and did not miss a step. Beaux did well with leg cues and while he did chew a lot on the bit, he was relaxed and went well with a loose rein or just light contact. Beaux went over some poles on the ground without a bit of hesitation which is a huge accomplishment for him as he has been very reluctant to go over poles. We did several changes of direction which Beaux did very well with none of the stiffness we’ve been working on for some time. I made one attempt with a circle which ended up more of a triangle so I now have a few goals to work on besides conditioning.
As the days grow shorter I will definitely take advantage of the lights in the grass/dressage area so we can get some training time in and squeeze a lesson in here and there. There is a nice group of riders who go out to the grass area on a regular basis and I cannot wait to start hitting the trails. The goals for the rest of December are quit modest, mostly getting some quality saddle time in and work on bending and suppling so our triangles can eventually become rounder. I want to work on suppling and bending and upward and downward transitions. Modest but important goals so that we can safely enjoy the hacks and maybe even pop over a fence or two.
An exciting adventure awaits us as we work our way towards our various goals and most importantly, build upon our partnership. I hate using the tired phrase of “heart horse” but Beaux is as close to one as I’ll probably ever have. He is not easy, but the good ones rarely are, but he has made me a better rider, trainer, and all around better person as I strive to become the partner he deserves. So until next time, ride on!