So I took 4 of the boys from the ranch, 3 horses, and a snotty pony to a little low-key schooling show on Sat. Jasper came to get "the experience". He nervously did 2 dressage tests- Intro A and Training 1 (where he got the wrong lead 6 times), an in-hand AND a ridden trail course, and some pleasure classes.
The trail course included a BRIDGE. With flapping flags on both sides.
And trot poles set for ponies.
And the best thing? ROXIE (from I is Roxie) was there! And here she is in pleasure class with Jasper...
Here they are after their last class. Roxie is even cuter in real life. No, my horse is not a little pony... he's actually narrow but full-sized.
The boys all did well although their classes were huge (16+ kids in each class) and scary. Bolting, bucking horses and total beginners do not mix. Everyone ended up getting a little ribbon for something. Actually the best prize of the day was a second-place rosette (only first and second places got rosettes) that went to one of our horses in a halter class. We had just finished unloading the horses when they announced the first class of the day- halter. The boys have no idea how to do halter (and neither do I) but it was a "go in as many classes as you want for a flat fee" so I told them to head on in with their old nylon halters and lead ropes and the judge liked one of our horses. The kiddo didn't know what to do and the horse was not standing square by any means but WAS frozen in fear from the minis in the arena so didn't move around much. None of our other horses placed but the one that did was 20 years old- so that's nice!
After I spread the Fly Predators out in the pasture (highly recommend them, by the way- natural fly control and they really work) I went through the small enclosure in front of the barn where Jasper had finished eating his bucket-of-mush lunch. Fly Predators come in a package that's paper in the back and plastic in the front. I was crinkling it up to throw it away and you would have thought firecrackers were going off right under his feet.
The enclosure he was is is about 15x20 feet. I stood in the middle dumbfounded while my horse literally galloped around me, sliding into corners and doing rollbacks. So I of course kept standing in the middle crinkling paper. He was acting ridiculous. Like he did yesterday when one of the paper dressage letters I taped to the arena fence fluttered as we went by and I ended up on the side of his neck as he leaped 200 feet sideways.
Surely, I thought, he would see how completely ridiculous he was acting and calm down. Huh. I stood in one place looking down at the ground while he flew around me. After 10 or 15 minutes I was starting to get frustrated and tired. So I overturned his lunch bucket and sat on it, still looking at the ground. He continued to trot and run but quit doing the rollbacks.
After another 10 minutes I had almost reached the end of my rope and needed a distraction before I started shouting horrible degrading names at him so I called Terri, who also has horses, and we talked about her horses for a while. Phone in one hand, crinkling paper in the other. That passed the time for a nice chunk of time, and he worked himself down to walking and snorting.
How long after that did it take him to finally reach his head over my shoulder to sniff the cookie that was in the hand not holding the crinkling paper? About 15 hours I think. OK, maybe not that long but it felt like it. It doesn't help that he's not food motivated.
After about 40 minutes yes, eventually he did eat a cookie off the paper. THE PIECE OF PAPER. By grabbing it with his lips and flinging his head into the air afterward like he'd been slapped, rolling his eyes back into his head.
There are some water shots on the page before that. The lead rider was so nice, she took us back to the water after the last rider to school. As we were walking out, a little girl said, "Ooh that's that cute runaway horse!" Hmmm.
Plus I got a chance to look at the rest of the footage the boys shot, and found the warm up. Which was done much better than the competition course. Plus he's cute.
"All right guys, over to the big time"... hrmph. Yes, the 'big time' course of 12" (and under) jumps. Ha! :)
Expose Jasper to new things in a show setting. Start getting him used to being around lots of other horses/trailers/people/commotion.
Take him through water for the first time.
Practice riding on all kinds of terrain (dressage in an arena with fancy footing of some kind, there were fields, a creek, plus you have to go up a huge huge steep hill to get to the x-country course).
Take him through his first course of jumps.
Build confidence through having a positive experience.
I had two boys from the ranch with me and wouldn't have been able to do it without them. I'd like to show the super cute pictures of them and Jasper but of course it's not allowed for privacy reasons.
When Jasper gets nervous he needs to move. So instead of fighting him we let him move. He got off the trailer and was groomed and was saddled on the fly. He stood still long enough for me to get on and we were off. I do have to say, though, even though he needs to move he's quiet about it. When I get on he doesn't bolt away, he just energetically walks on a light rein.
Dressage warm up. You can kind of see my taped-together fingers. I rode with my right rein around my pointer finger.
After we got through the creek the first time (you have to go through it to get from the trailer parking to the competition area) we were waaaaay behind schedule. When I got to the warm-up for dressage it was 9:20 and I rode at 9:31. It was a short warm-up but I really don't think he would have calmed down much more unless I had a good hour to canter around. I was really pleased with both the warm-up and the test. It wasn't as nice a test as last time, but it was in a much spookier setting. The judge was great, when we were doing our pre-test circle of the arena he was scared of the judge's stand and she actually came down and pet him and led him through. It was next to a hillside pasture with horses in it and tall grass and weeds blowing in the wind. Not to mention all the whinnying horses in the background.
Square in front!
The turn before free walk. Got a 6 on the free walk this time- improvement from a 5 last time.
More bend in circles for higher scores. He DID get an 8 on a walk-trot transition, though! Dressage score: 34 (which is a 66), the judge said he was elegant.
Heading to cross-country. This may be my favorite picture of the day. At this point (after much schooling) he went through the creek all by himself.
The warm-up area. The poles, you see, grab horsey feet so you gotta leap real high to get over 'em.
His first vertical. This picture just cracks me up. If I hadn't been grabbing mane I would have landed in the dust.
On course and following our super nice lead rider. One of the boys videotaping.
This was a spooky one. Note tongue sticking out in concentration.
When we were done I tied him to the trailer with my new Blocker Tie Ring. I love it. He never pulled back this time but I felt much better tying him with it. We sat in chairs and were eating lunch with this view. At one point he stood still- all 4 feet were motionless- so we took a picture!
I couldn't believe we placed. Our dressage score was actually one of the higher ones, but I don't know how we only ended up with 8 jumping faults through the water. Obviously they judge the 12" Rockhopper division much differently than the other divisions. This isn't the best picture of him but it's the only one where you can see my fingers!
Pretty Deep Creek ribbon. 6th! They asked me if I wanted the ribbon.. well DUH!!! Are you kidding???
He did it did it did it! He was very nervous, there was SO much to look at. You had to go through the creek to get to the competition area- thanks to all the kind people on horses that helped us out again and again. And again. I love eventers. We were really late due to some mishaps on the way and only had 10 minutes to warm up for dressage, and our test wasn't nearly what it was last time but he did all of it, every move. He was very afraid of the jumps and scooted away as soon as he landed on the other side. I grabbed mane on every single one of those 12" jumps with my good hand. He only refused the water. Thank you lead rider from heaven, we couldn't have done it without you.
There was a big windstorm last night, and I was worried about the tarp in Jasper's pen scaring him so bad he'd do something stupid. I drove in this morning and looked across the pasture and was relieved to see him standing in his pen.
Only when I got out there he wasn't. He was actually laying down in the pasture next to it. Both gates are still chained up. He doesn't have any hair missing, any scars, or any swelling. He was sound and I rode today, one last ride before our derby tomorrow.
The LOWEST part of the fence is 4'7. Plus he would have had to jump out uphill.
This definitely did nothing to help his tarp fear, *ugh*. But... the pony can jump.
His pen is on the other side of him. This is what he jumped out of.
Jasper turns 4 today, and I've had him for 2 months now. I thought I should give his birthday a mention since I posted birthday blogs about my other two horses.
I had been looking for an eventing prospect for a while, and hadn't been able to find anything I really liked, or really liked and could afford. They were either too old, too young, too expensive... and no, not to be rude, but I'm not interested in your not broke 8-year-old 15h Appaloosa Saddlebred cross. I wanted something between 4-6 years old, w/t/c basics if it was 5 or 6, mid to upper level eventing potential, between 16-16.3h. And, I found out later when people sent me pictures of their perfectly good chestnut colored horses, I really wanted a dark bay. Superficial, I know.
I finally decided to start seriously looking at OTTBs. They were in my price range, and found a gal down at Portland Meadows racetrack (Katie of Hidden Fox Farms) who's husband was a trainer there. She said she had a list of horses for sale- the last day of the season was the following Tuesday, so there were quite a few to look at. Coincidentally enough, I was headed to Portland that weekend to watch the training clinic for USEA instructor hopefulls.
I scoured the internet for conformation advice realizing I had no idea what to look for. A pretty neck and I'm sold. I studied shoulder angles, hip angles, neck angles... it was a lot to take in and was hard see in a picture, much less in a live horse.
We walked around the shedrows in the rain, Katie had a list of what stalls the sale horses were in. I remember the first time I saw Jasper. He was memorable because he was the only horse that wasn't standing with his head over the stall door. He looked at us as we approached, and slowly took a few steps towards us. He was dark, and the stall was dark. It was hard to really see him. He had kind eyes. After we were finished with the tour, I think we looked at about 11 horses, he was the only one I was interested in pulling out of the stall. He didn't need a chain over his nose to be led. He trotted out sound. He was tall and thin and gangly and awkward and in racing shape, although his back feet were in horrible condition. He was in racing training but had never been in a race.
Everything I had tried to learn about conformation flew out the window. I did notice he had long pasterns. It wasn't love at first sight, exactly... but I found myself saying "I'll take him".
The next day I went to the clinic which lasted 3 days. Then I drove the 6 hours home to Spokane. The next day my Dad and I drove back down to Portland with truck and trailer. We stayed at the Motel 6 by the racetrack and at 6:30 the next morning began the final trip home. I don't think Jasper moved an inch in the trailer. He was frozen in fear. Never pawed, never kicked, didn't touch a bite of grain or hay. When we got to the ranch I found out he didn't know how to back out of trailers. 3 people had to literally push him out.
I thought it was going to be months before he (as a crazy off-the-track-thoroughbred, right?) would get his brain back and be ready to start being worked with. Not so. He was calm and willing, and I saddled him up the first week he was home.
Yes, his tongue is almost certainly over the bit in this pic. We're workin' on it.
He just seemed to take most everything in stride. Maybe he was still in shock from being moved, I don't know, but not much seemed to really phase him. I started riding on a loose rein and just w/t/cantering around, and we went on a few little trail rides. He started getting buckets of calories to help put weight on, which he quickly burned (burns) off by galloping around the pasture at extremely high speeds. Every day.
The rest I've pretty much blogged about already. He broke my finger a week ago by flying backwards when I stepped on a tarp. Somehow my finger got caught in the reins. There is a tarp under one of his feeders now. There are also poles all around his water trough as he decided he was extremely frightened of poles on the ground. He wears a soft rope halter so he doesn't break it when he pulls back. I ordered a bit port to try to keep his tongue under the bit. He ran away from me today when the farrier came. Grrr. But all of these things seem fairly unsubstantial when you look at how far he's come in 2 short months. He's already been to his first show ever and scored a 64% with a test that was fun to ride.
I can take him out alone or with other horses on trail rides. He's starting to get some confidence and a bit more attitude which is good. He's getting used to the clippers. He's getting used to baths. He's getting used to hopping over little crossrails- or leaping when he decides he's afraid of them. Poles on the ground grab horse hooves and suck them under, you know.
I got my ride time for the Deep Creek Derby today, dressage at 9:31 and jumping to follow. The Rockhopper division is a course of 12" jumps, but you have to go through the water twice- zoiks! I requested a lead rider. There are something like 15 people in my division. I just need to remember to relax and remember he's just a baby and that I didn't even think I'd be riding by now when I got him.
So Jasper, Baby J, Jasperito, Happy Birthday! Here's to many more!
Check this out! Is it not the coolest? There was a gal over on Fugly's free speech message board (lavenderfish) that was turning people's horse photos into art. She did Jasper today. I love it!
ETA: Oooh looky look, she did Alexandre too! It captures his magical-ness.
On another note the hand doctor said he can't tell if tendons are injured or not since everything is so stiff and swollen. I go back in a week. So I'm going to splint and pad up real good and go for a ride tomorrow.
ETA ETA: Rode today! Wasn't pretty on either of our parts, but got the job done. He was really spooky at poles on the ground. Sigh. Jumped the barrels at the the end, though! Was some crazy swerving going on towards the jump, but leaped over them. Gooooood boooooooy.