Sunday, October 30, 2022

Life with Trainer Z

When I brought Theo to live with Trainer Z, I didn't think I'd ever get to ride again seriously.  I wanted Theo to find a leaser or at least have his brain cells reinstalled so he wasn't considered dangerous anymore.  Now I'm in regular lessons, schooling Third in preparation for going after those scores next year, and reaping the benefits of having my very own schoolmaster that is always tuned up.  It's been a huge change for the rider that did everything on her own, showed alone, and lacked consistent training.  It's been very hard to swallow at times that I'm not the one having 'those' rides on Theo anymore.  That's someone else's job now.  I ride the result of her hard work.  Not to say I'm not working hard, Theo does not believe in rider's getting to flop along for free.  But for the first time ever, I have a professionally trained horse.

Who won both of his Second 3 tests with her two weeks ago and went Reserve High Point Second Level in the Open division

Trainer Z's barn is both friendly and serious business.  It's small with ten stalls on the indoor and another seven or so horses living outside full time with run ins.  Her riders are mostly dressage focused with some eventers mixed in.  Not a lot of high level dressage trainers in this area welcome eventers with open arms but Trainer Z loves OTTBs and eventers.  She has a member of the local hunt take her out on trail rides to give her dressage horses a good example, up to and including the GP level stallions.  

The sign next to the door to the ring

That's also taken some getting used to.  Random mutts like Theo rub shoulders with fancy stallions like Schroeder and are taken just as seriously.  It feels surreal.  Today I was heading into the ring while Schroeder was in the cross ties after his ride.  Theo and Schroder know each because they trailered together to GMHA.  We had to scoot Schrodie (no, fancy stallions get no respect from me) back a couple steps so I could mount without him messing with Theo.  The fact that Theo gets the same handling and respect really changes how everyone looks at him, including me.  

"He's the most impressive ride I have right now."  That startled me considering the kinds of horses Trainer Z rides but it's not about the scores.  He's her most complicated horse and her biggest achievement because the margin for error is so small.  He apparently was doing caprioles in his turn out yesterday and getting up high enough to ding the top rail in his turn out.  Even the junior stallions were staring at his behavior in awe.  She knows what he's capable of and the baggage he carries.  He's not a fancy import, born and raised to be a dressage super star.  He's Theo, the wannabe stud with limited coping strategies for his emotions and the nastiest spin in the state.

Sign in the tack room

Today I rode my half passe in the canter and felt him lift his shoulders up and out of the way.  It felt like a completely different gait, a series of jumps instead of strides.  I had my hands up because that's where his shoulders were and I must have been far enough back because he was happy to do it.  He was balanced and powerful, happy to carry himself in the movement.  It was amazing, a tiny glimpse of true self carriage and what the high level riders get to experience.  It's a struggle right now to get my hands up but that's me learning to trust that this is real, it's not fake or him tricking me.  

It's been a completely different experience since we moved in with Trainer Z.  Theo is whickering happily before his rides and looks like a million bucks so he's clearly enjoying life.  And me?  I'm still getting used to my new role but it's a lot more than I'd hoped for just a year ago.  And when the show season rolls around?  I won't be out there trying to do it all myself.  That sounds like a slice of heaven.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Cob Mob

 I got to visit Kiki!  It was also the day that I dropped off the last check for her purchase and started transferring all of her paperwork to me as she's being weaned.  So I'm broke.  But let's focus on the cute.

Oh dear, Kiki

Poor Kiki, she's going through her first awkward phase that I've observed.  She's always been so balanced and then I came around the corner and just burst out laughing.  Oh, honey.  That butt.  What the hell?  

She's definitely in the middle of a growth spurt.  Her breeder and I agreed that we lucked out that she waited until after her inspection to pull this particular 'hide her behind the barn' phase.  Not unexpected at all, just hilarious for a filly that has hardly had a day where she didn't look perfect.  No, it's not the angle of the picture, she's just ridiculously butt high on the day I visited.  But I cuddled her and gave her all the skritches all the same because I know she'll catch up with that butt soon enough.

Kiki, honey, you don't fit anymore

She's still the sweet, sensitive young lady I've met before.  She absolutely loves to be touched, even on her belly or legs.  She doesn't really care so long as she's getting groomed.  She's putting on her winter coat and while the rest of the class of 2022 are showing how dark they can go, Kiki is sticking to her frosted buckskin look.  She has dark hairs mixed in but she isn't showing any signs of going super dark like the other foals.  She's hanging on to her light buckskin look and I'm delighted.

She's also a total heathen.  She has left  a lot of bite marks on the other foals.  I got to spectate while she reared and goaded the colt into galloping for her entertainment.  I didn't get pictures since I was out of range but she has the colt of the group well entertained.  They're being weaned together due to being very close in age and the other filly her age heading home to Canada today.  It's going to be a rough week for the class of 2022 with one foal leaving and two being weaned.  It had to happen but that doesn't mean it will be an easy week for a mama's girl like Kiki.  She certainly won't be alone but it won't be her favorite day.

A little grooming session with Avanti while I was on rump scratching duty

Back at home, I had an unobserved Theo ride and then he got a mini spa day.  We're going to avoid clipping him until after his last show of the season and then we're going to clip him conservatively since he's got a pro that can wait all day for him to dry if necessary.  The hope is that more hair = less tantrums.  I really don't want to risk Trainer Z.  They have a show together next weekend and then it's the off season for them.  There's a Second Level freestyle to finish and the final polish on his Third Level moves.  Trainer Z and I both have plans for next season.

He's sexy and he knows it

2023 is coming fast and I'm going to have my hands full showing a yearling filly and my Third Level horse (YES I'M GOING FOR IT).  I will catch up on my sleep now because come May?  Sleep is for the weak.