Thursday, January 11, 2024

On the right foot

Goggles part 1: Goggles barely had 48 hours to settle in to his new home before I threw him on the trailer again to go over to the GY's to get his feet done. My farrier agreed to come up to our area to do Goggles and Ben together rather than needing to bring both of them down to JT's. I was SO grateful and wanted to make sure Goggles was on his best behavior. He loaded up pretty well again with just a little brush from the broom. He unloaded and was very all over the place. Once I got on him, he was PERFECT. He walked, trotted, and cantered, and was bending and supple and just lovely. I was thinking about this later - I gave him lots of direction under saddle and very little on the ground. I just want him to EXIST next to me, not on me, on the ground, but I am realizing at this point he has no idea how to do that. He needs direction. His idea of existing is looking around, occasionally running into me with his shoulder, and just generally pulling me towards things he wants to look at and/or eat. If I direct what we're doing, I think he is completely capable of stepping up, he just needs the direction. 

Even though he had worked, I still had a few doubts about his ability to stand for the farrier, so he got a bit of ace to make him more compliant. He got his feet done, then Ms. GY helped me get him back into the trailer, which again went smoothly. 

Cross ties at his new farm

Ben: Ben and I had a jump lesson on the first Wednesday of the new year. It was his first time back over stadium fences since the Thoroughbred Expo. JT and I joked we were going to be starting fresh with everything with him, so we kept things pretty little to start. However, Ben stepped right up and although he squirrelled around to her new fillers, he still went. He did wiggle his way through the triple as well, but did the one to the one in spite of that. She popped things up a little bit and he jumped around again, this time getting a bit lazy over the jump that had a Christmas tree for filler and the liver pool. We went to do just that line again and in spite of a lovely bouncy canter, he again knocked the rail on both. She swapped it out for the square ground rail, and I about died laughing when I felt him, mid-air, actually put in effort and quite nicely avoid tapping it. We also jumped the skinny gate that he had hard core spooked at while warming up. I put my "ride it like a wedge" into practice and rode it so positively with wide hands and he didn't even chip to the base of it, good boy! We've planned on another couple of jump lessons, a couple of XC schools, and at least one schooling jumper show. We still have a solid month+ before the next HT that fit with my schedule - February Ocala. 

Emotional reset, getting ponied by his BFF

For our cross-country schooling this week we headed out to Sweet Dixie South, not a place that Ben and I have schooled before. It was a really, really cold morning for Florida, and Ben was pretty up because of it. We did some forward and back in warm up but probably not quite enough. He started out well though, feeling much more like his old confident self. Then we did the world's tiniest step down about a stride before water. He kind of dithered around at the top before going. We did it several more times until he felt more confident at it. Then we moved on to a training brush line, he ducked left both times on the first one, but it was understandable because there was a large weed growing straight up the front of the middle of the jump. We did have a run out at a novice corner, the second part of a combination a few jumps later. It was partly him seeing a dry patch of grass on the other side of the jump and partly me not getting him up enough so he was running down into my hand as we approached. Plus I think I still look at corners funny and ride them funny because of it. I just can't quite figure out the geometry. After we fixed that, we headed off to a different corner of the property and did a log with three or four strides to a down bank headed towards a lake. He did it with no hesitation. We also did the double banks at the water as well, kind of a interesting setup. You dropped down the first bank into water and then dropped down another bank into still more water. He again screwed around at the top of the first for a second. JT told me to tap him off of it, explaining that he almost dithers around at the top the bank and talks himself out of it. He's not that scared anymore. He just needs to go. We finished with the bank in and out of the ring. The top of the mound is grass, but you jump down one side into the footed arena. He did this without a second thought, good boy. Then we schooled the training and prelim questions on the top of the hill by the arena to finish. It's a pretty steep hill up and down, So the training log at the top is about beginner novice size and the prelim question is about novice, if not a little bit smaller. He did both of these great, we got it together to have his balance up the hill for a nice jump over both.

Bald eagle in one of their oak trees, so beautiful

Overall another deposit in the confidence bank for him. We're chipping away at the bank issue and are better each time. This was a new place and he went down both of the banks he questioned without too much freaking out. And he did several others without any questioning at all. 

Goggles part 2: It was Goggles turn to go with Ben on Wednesday this week. I loaded Ben up first and then headed down to get Goggles. He was really pretty good for the trailer. He paused halfway on several times, but then decided he would go all the way in. We ran into a bit of a hitch (that I had certainly seen coming) when it came to the butt bar. He knew I was headed around to close it and came out pretty quickly when I was near the back of the trailer. I snagged his lead and immediately put him right back on. He backed out again when I stepped around to do the bar, but slower this time. Right back in again, and repeat. I had a major zen moment when I realized Ben wasn't upset by this. I thought "well if this is what we do for the next four hours instead of lessoning, then this is the lesson we needed today". He backed out one more time before deciding to let me close him in. Good boy!!! Lots of treats and then I put up the ramp and closed the back doors. I had to stop to tie him because he turned his head around and put it over the top of the divider, so he lost the privilege of riding untied. 


He went first at JTs while Ben hung out. He had a bit of a conniption over the puddles all over the place, including making a choice to brain instead of flail when he realized there was in fact a lot of water already under his feet. 

Shiny puddle 

He's tricky sometimes. He really wants to be a good boy and do the right thing. Therefore I try to give him time to process and make the right choices. But sometimes he is incredibly obstinate. After he'd considered the shiny puddle above for a bit, I asked him to walk forward into it. Head went up and ears went back. This is the moment I have to steel myself and tap him. So far he's always then given the correct answer. But it feels like poking the rattlesnake. I am always a bit on edge in those moments, waiting for when his response is to kick out or something even more delightful like rear. He would be a very easy horse to get talked into not pushing much. It's so interesting to me, observing both him and my own psychology. 

Once out in the field, we did a lot of walking circles around cross country jumps to give him something to do other than stare at the lone horses coming and going in the distance. Then we tackled the circle of death. First at the trot, then we cantered both directions successfully!!! I was joking that it feels like a resolution... I'll start tomorrow!  If I skip this first jump, I will get him really truly straight and balanced and we'll start again. Ha. But we did it and it was really, really good for both of us. He only did really strange flailing things twice, both when he was getting pretty tired. His canter got so much better, and I don't think he tripped at all the whole lesson!!! 

He's going to a hunter jumper show this Friday-Saturday to do the jumper cross rails. There are three classes, so if we just do circles the first time in, maybe the second time we can jump the jumps. It will be tight getting it done before going to work, but priorities man... 


  1. So many fun activities !! Super jealous of the good outdoor ground you have right now lol, I’m sorta dreading but also excited about getting out into the open with Dooz… also I feel ya on that “poking the rattlesnake” sense with Goggles. Charlie can be a bit like that, in the early days it felt like we’d get mired down like a dinosaur stuck in a tar pit lol…..

    1. We've gotten much more rain this winter than normal which has been great for the grass and great for the ground. I'm hoping it will help keep Ben sound this spring 🤞🤞

      The poking the snake feeling does seem worse in the behind the leg horses where you have no idea which direction they'll go in. It is reassuring to me that Charlie used to feel that way since he's such a solid dude now.

    2. not gonna lie, i let it get a little out of control with charlie in the early days bc i didn't WANT to do any poking.... so it kinda became a "thing" for us for a while... sounds like you're already being much more proactive about it, like, 'go forth, sir!' haha. charlie was always happier and easier the more crystal clear i was about it, tho it took me too long to figure that out lol