Co-Boarding

Sorry it’s been awhile since I’ve contributed to this blog! Things have been really busy with my non-riding life and have prevented me from fully committing. However, since I have found an awesome barn, coach, and horse to co-board in the area I think it’s time to re-embrace my riding blog – especially given that show season is coming up and I’m actually in a position where I will be competing this year! I really wanted to compete my new equine pal, but my ability to do so was contingent on whether I could find a co-op position in the area – and I found a great marketing and communications gig right at the university where I’m getting my Master’s! I couldn’t be happier.

In any case, this post is going to act as a brief intro to my new main (equine) man, and some of my hopes and plans for our future together! So, without further ado, here is my new boy, Flash Gordon:

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He is a 9 year old TB Hanoverian cross, and is a huge suck. This photo is of him and my new coach, Jenn, competing together last summer at a First level provincial show. They ended up being provincial division champs last year!

In any case, my quest for a horse to lease began after winter break. I was home for a month and it was so absolutely amazing to be back riding horses that I had connections with. I wasn’t able to connect with any of the horses at the dressage barn I was riding at in the fall, because we were assigned different horses on a bi-weekly basis. Furthermore, I really felt like a number at that barn. It was one of those places where you really only feel that you’re being treated personably if you’re spending a whole wheelbarrow-load of money there. I bet my coach there wouldn’t even be able to remember my name if she saw me on the street tomorrow. In any case, I was desperately in search of a barn with a more personable feel – and I found it.

My start with Gordon was a little rocky. I have confidence issues stemming from a bad fall that I had in 2012. He was a little fresh during our first few rides, and it made me really nervous. I think that this freshness came from his not having as much exercise during the colder winter months, and was also based on my own nervousness that he was clearly sensing. However, I loved my new coach and the overall feel of the barn and was determined to keep at it. I decided to just go out and watch him being ridden a couple of times, to make sure he was safe and to up my own confidence as a rider. This tactic really worked! After watching his owner and another student ride him a couple of times, I felt that I could trust him.

Since then, things have improved rapidly for Gordon and I. Each ride there have been huge improvements to the point that I actually jumped him last weekend! We had two really great rides Saturday and Sunday and I really can’t wait for our next ride tomorrow night. He is so light, and is easy to steer and engage with only the legs/body weight. A dream horse for me to learn and grow on!

On Saturday, our jumping lesson was phenomenal. I had been jumping a lot over reading week back home – I’ll attach a photo of this at the end of this paragraph for fun – and I felt really comfortable with jumping as a result. During the flat portion of the ride, Gordon was super responsive and we got our best canter ever. We did some pole work and then popped over a little cross-rail a couple of times. I just concentrated on looking ahead and then straight over the jump, and things went great. I can’t wait to try him out over some higher fences! Ideally, I would even love to get to the place where I feel comfortable doing a fun low hunter schooling show with him at the end of the season.

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A photo of Quilla and I during my reading week at my barn back home – love this mare! Too bad she is so small and so far away!

On Sunday, Gordon and I worked on dressage. I mostly worked on transition exercises because often he is not as responsive to the upward transitions as I would like. Things are really starting to improve on this front though! We then worked on a canter serpentine exercise with halts at X. The upward transitions were great, and he was really responsive to the downward ones too. However, I should have incorporated more effective half-halts in order to have neater, less “loosey-goosey” halts. I’m going to ask to focus on these during our next lesson. We also tried some shoulder-in and lengthening and collecting work at the end of our ride. We had a really nice working trot by the end, but I think we were far from a proper extension! Anyway, lots to work on, but we’ve come so far, so quick that I have huge mounds of hope for us! I’m aiming to compete at Training and First level provincially this summer and am so looking forward to it! I’m also really excited about recording our progress and my goals on here again, because I find it really helpful to look back and reflect in order to move forward. Sorry for this long post, but now that things are all caught up I will be able to focus on individual rides and improvements!

Happy riding!

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