Thursday, February 29, 2024


Goggles and I headed back to Majestic this week. As hard as I tried to line up a trailer buddy for him, horses gonna horse and friend's horse had an unexpected allergic reaction that set his skin on fire. So solo with half a tube of GG it was. Goggles loaded in about ten minutes and then started munching hay. I loaded my tack and then closed the escape doors. His face had a very certain look about how he felt about the fact that this wasn't one of those practice sessions where he got on, munched some hay, and got off again. 

He rode quietly though and unloaded mostly politely. Someone was weed eating in the distance but he mostly refrained from standing on me while trying to watch. It was a great test to school solo TBH. Hillary was awesome and volunteered to be our ground person in case of emergency. She also caught some video which was very much appreciated. 

Whatta grown up kid walking on a loose rein

Fancy prancy


He was very, very focused on where the other horses were on the large property when we were walking, but once we started trotting and cantering he mostly focused on his feet. He wouldn't focus enough to look at the starter fences I tried to walk him up to though, so when we trotted at it, he was surprised. 

Oh no! I am surprised! 


Oooh now I understand

We popped a variety of starter fences and only had to straight line halt after one when he was downright rude. Otherwise we focused on the finesse between forward and taking over. He generally is very game which is a very good thing, but he still has to be rideable. Other than a glance at a natural log that is SUPER spooky, he was brave to everything.

He hopped the baby ditches down in the far field and the actual big kid ditches at the top of the hill like they were NBD. 

Baby ditch

Big kid ditch

It took him a second, but he went into the water without a lead horse for the first time ever. Once his feet touched he had a bit of a baby moment, but he didn't dump me in the water, so all was well. We splashed around in there and did the up bank out as well. 

We finished up on the banks. Down he was nice and casual, but up we had to do a few times until he popped up without a party after. We finished on two nice soft trips up and called it good there. 

Didn't quite go with him enough here

Feeling him out there was awesome. He picked up where we left off pre ulcers, and he was fantastic. He functioned completely on his own and got more and more rideable as we jumped things. 

It's really interesting heading out without a coach. JT has given me so many tools to work with, it's a useful skill to practice applying them without her perfect timing. Also since that's what happens out on course at shows, its good to log a few miles of practice that way. I have to think for myself about things and occasionally I think sometimes it makes my reaction times a bit better because I'm not waiting and listening for the direction from her. This was especially true when managing him on the back side of fences. The flip side is that I'm positive I let him take a few more trips over one specific fence speeding up the last two strides and then taking a long spot than I should have. But it forced me to analyze what was happening and what tools I had to fix it. We came around once more and did a few walk trot transitions on the way to the fence and then I half halted two strides out and thought about landing and circling. And wouldn't you know it, he waited and jumped it really well. 

"Ride him like he's trained"

Thursday, February 22, 2024


After Goggles' acupuncture appointment we were assigned some homework - some manual therapy I could use to help supplement between appointments. The first step to let him know good things are coming, loosening up a few fascial connections, and getting him used to touch, is skin rolling. 

Almost like a neck twitch, but a looser pinch, and continually moving

This is done starting close to the poll and going all the way down to the shoulder on a few different planes. He quite likes it at this point and starts licking and chewing when I start doing this. He is most sensitive up near the poll which makes sense. 

Then we move on to the muscle releases. He is getting sooooo much better about letting me do these. He's really, really smart. At first I had to just kinda do it softly and stay back out of the way of his mouth. He never really tried to nail me, but definitely wanted to turn and nip when it was a little uncomfortable. I don't know if it is more and more comfortable or if he is learning the release is coming, but he barely turns towards me now. 

Usually those two get some big sighs and releases. He got a great review at his second acupuncture appointment - she scanned him all over and only got a few areas to focus on. At the first appointment he was so uncomfortable she couldn't scan him at all. His poll also felt much better, which is definitely good news. She worked on his hindquarters a bit more and got some good stuff done there. 

Each time I start his manual therapy, he is much softer than the last. His brachiocephalicus is now loose from the get go rather than needing some time to soften and relax. Overall quite encouraging that we're on the right track. 

As we've gone back to a routine this week, we've been starting each day with the cowboy homework. This means patience on my part. We're hanging out for somewhere between 20 - 60 minutes, just hanging. 

Which is mostly him eating

And me standing, using the dried poo pile as my marker to make sure I'm not migrating as he does

But then at some point he comes and checks in with me. 

And then takes a little nap

We did our first ride back yesterday after starting his ulcer treatment. He was great. A car drove by and he noticed it, but quickly returned to focusing on me. We kept it low key with lots of stretching and walk-trot and walk-halt transitions. We didn't canter yet, I wanted to just let him succeed at everything we did. 

Friday, February 16, 2024

Hold me, I'm hurt

Alternate titles: There's our step back OR "My mom is an a**hole" - Goggles

Goggles started out the year doing SO WELL, I joked that our one step back was coming soon. And oh boy did it ever, sort of like a fall off the landing, not just a step back. It started one day when we worked in hand at the front of the property. He started out grazing, but his eye wasn't quiet. And then, then, he basically exploded. It was actually less than in the spring when we had our sessions with the cowboy, in that I didn't struggle holding onto the line, but instead he threw in some straight up hi ho silver moves. While he wasn't rearing AT me, when I was holding the line on a LARGE horse who is standing straight up, it still kinda felt like he was rearing AT me. Eventually though, he found some quietness and tried to creep into my  space to be consoled. I tic-tocked him out of my space again and eventually got a settled(ish) horse. But we basically had to start all over again as we walked back to the barn. 

A few days later, we went down to JT's. My schedule didn't line up with my friend's, so he was solo on the trailer. He is getting SO MUCH better with trailering, I figured it was about time to trial run. AND he did great! But by the time we got to the lesson? He was plumb out of spoons. 

So we got a hot, reactive baby horse. He managed walk and trot, but was launching and bucking at the canter. Woooo boy. I did still get some good tidbits, a refined half halt, and a lecture on not pulling back any more the second they have halted (::hangs head:: that I needed that, but my adrenaline was high).  But we quit before we even made it near a jump. 

Two days later, I plunked him back on the trailer, and we headed to the GY's to get his feet done. I was firm, but patient and kind with my half-halts and we did a lot of walk-halt-walk. He was actually REALLY good. Then we moved on to trot and I again was insistent that he focus on me, not the other horses, and we got some nice bendy work. Then we moved to canter. He started out with a smaller version of what he'd done at JT's, but I kicked him forward and then half-halted softly and he moved past it. We did several canter transitions each way and he was super. I popped off and told him what a good boy he was.

Ben Ben wanting some attention

Post hi ho silver rears, I had discussed with his barn owner, and she shared that he had struck at her husband while turning in one afternoon. I immediately called and scheduled a cowboy lesson at a time she could hang out and watch ASAP. 

The anxiety is high

But a few days before the scheduled lesson and a few days after his trip to the GY's, he stopped eating breakfast. He still picked at hay, but he was essentially shouting at me "MY BELLY HURTS!!!" He had no way left to say it since I had ignored all of his other behavioral cues or chalked them up to herd bound anxiety that we needed to work through. This one was like a smack in the face though. I brought out gastrogard that morning, and he ate dinner like a champ. By turnout the next morning, post second dose, he wasn't doing the anxious mouth chomping that had crept in the past 1-2 weeks. 

And now we're back to this while we're grooming

We still did the cowboy lesson, but both the barn owner and I agreed that his behavior was already 1000% better than what it had been. She is amazing and started wracking her brain thinking of the first subtle cues she had seen. She had actually noticed him holding up a hind leg while eating a week or two prior. Not full on kicking at his belly, but holding it slightly up in the air. 

So we're getting gastrogard and life is good. I have my happy, relaxed baby horse back. We aren't doing any ridden work this week, we're just hanging out and working on our ground work homework from the cowboy. One thing he said stuck with me more than everything else "Why wouldn't they be focused on their buddies? Most people show up for an hour or two a day and spend the whole time telling them exactly how to behave." So we're hanging. With the boundaries established by the cowboy, not pulling at the end of the line, not coming in to my space, but learning to relax together. When he first stopped grazing today, he oriented pointing the herd in the pasture. But then he ate some more and oriented pointing me and took a nap. And that felt better than any trip around a jump course. 

I'm grateful he is continuing to put his trust in me even though I failed him miserably. Even when his stomach felt the worst, he was still walking up to me in the pasture, happy to see me. And since he isn't much for pressed treats, and I don't always remember to grab carrots from the house, I know it isn't just about food. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

One year with Sense a Giant

Today marks one whole year of my first ever baby horse. He has been an incredibly rewarding partner, and we have both learned so much in the past year. 

Adoption picture in PA 

Arrival day - now that I know him I can see his eye wasn't just tired, but he wasn't feeling well from the travel either

THAT'S a happy eye 

And a whole hunk of a horse 

We have had quite a few adventures in the past year - his first XC school was WAYYYY more chaotic than I thought it would be, including body slamming his friend in the water. But his second school, he managed to eat a little bit of grass and function far away from Ms. GY's horse. And by the third time out he knew his business was eating grass and JOMPING. 

He also went out and did poles and cross rails at his first show with JT. This was relatively quickly followed by his first show with me. There, he exceeded absolutely all my expectations and was brave and rideable to our tiny cross rails and also functioned like a grown up horse in the warm up and at the show in general. 

After some bouncing back and forth between the GY's and JT's this year, he's settled at a farm all of his own in January. 

His softness has been a work in progress this whole year. We're on the right track with his neck and getting him softer and bending through his neck and body, but his first reaction is still tension and bracing. On the other hand, he is BRAVE and wants so badly to do the job. 

I am learning SO MUCH on our journey together. I have never shaped a horse in this way before, and it is the coolest thing to work my hardest to provide him positive experiences to help him develop into a horse who loves his job and is confident about it. 

Here's to 2024 with Sense a Giant, I can't wait to see what adventures we go on this year!! 

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

January Wrap Up

This month I took a bit of a break from really trying to keep two horses progressing forward and focused mostly on Goggles. Ben chilled out some and mostly hung with his friends/caused chaos by harassing his friends. 




Training rides





1 jump, 1 dressage


3 – 1 ponied


Ground work, lunge, long line

1 lunge


Flat rides



Conditioning rides

1- 20 min trot, 3x2 min canter


XC school





HJ – warm up day and 3 x crossrail courses

January started with Goggles moving up to his new farm, much closer to me. This also made all of his rides my responsibility. I think we managed okay. We've spent the month working on decreasing his tether to the other horses by gradually venturing further and further from home on a cool down hack at the end of our rides. He's doing great with this, but still frets when they're far away in the field. He's also made huge strides with trailering with the help of my husband. We're not self-loading or totally relaxed still, but we are SO MUCH BETTER. 

And he had his first acupuncture appointment and got a GREAT review of how his neck was feeling from our favorite chiro vet. He's got another acupuncture session on Thursday. 

He also got out to our first under saddle show together and exceeded all my expectations by behaving like such a grown up horse. He was great in the ring too and showed just how brave he is by jumping cross rails with funky standards. 

We also had a cross country school and worked on softening his back over jumps by "riding him like he is trained". This was mentally hard for me, but we got there eventually. 

Ben: Not too much to report here, as said above, he's enjoying a bit of down time while I sort out finding my joy in horses and NOT having them feel like full time job number two.