Confidence & a Relationship On The Ground.

On Saturday night (7/13/2019) Frankie and I had a pretty scary accident. We were walking next to a canal and when I went to turn him around so we could go home, he stopped and backed up straight into the canal. He couldn’t get very far as there was 2 1/2 feet of mud there as well, but we were both pretty shaken. I did an emergency dismount while he was trying to get back out of the canal & we both walked home physically unscathed. Now, two days later, there are a few very minor scrapes on his left front leg. They don’t affect his movement or soundness at all.

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We were both very lucky to leave with no major injuries and I’m happy to say that Frankie is still sound. Mentally though, we’re both pretty shook. It was a really scary “walk on the lifeline” for both of us. I had a lesson this morning that went well, but it will be our last scheduled ride for a bit. I think that we (aka I) need to take a step back and reestablish our relationship on the ground. Starting from the ground up, again.

Jocelyn Moore: Behind the Ribbons and Titles

Out of all of the people I’ve interviewed, Jocelyn Moore has been one of the most inspiring. At 15 years old, she has a clear-set-path to the bigger goal in mind: the Olympics. She says, “My biggest motivation is just believing I can make it [to the Olympics]. I’ve wanted to go since I was little and just the idea of competing in the biggest arena at the biggest event is very appealing.”

With the help of her parents and trainers at KRE Show Horses, Jocelyn is well on her way to becoming an Olympian. She owns 16-year-old Arabian Gelding, TR Silver Fortune, and leases Fioniex, a 9-year-old Arabian gelding. She has helped give both horses extensive dressage training, riding and competing regularly. She dedicates her life to these horses and her Olympic dreams, riding four days a week and being at the barn roughly four hours each of those days.

As teenagers, we all had big dreams, some realistic and some only dreams. Jocelyn has big dreams and is making them a reality, an incredibly dedicated young woman if I say so myself.

 

New beginnings!

Now that it’s been over a month that I’ve leased Frankie, I figured I’d type up a bit of a (lengthy) update. The first two weeks of me riding him were rough. I had no idea how to ride a horse like him and it was quite the learning curve. After that, we got into a groove of riding five days a week and some huge accomplishments were made.

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The first consistent week was filled with lots of bridleless riding and pole work. We made some progress and came into the next week stronger. That next week held lots of improved canter work, pole work, tackless/bridleless work, and our first bridleless hack. The canter is becoming much more relaxed and Frankie is now willing to stretch over poles. He’s really taken to fat camp and building up his topline, I guess. Our tackless/bridleless work has already come so far as well. We’ve cantered tackless (it was speedy and a relative death wish, but it’s fine) and worked on spins without the bridle.

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Week five, consistent week three, isn’t even half over and we’ve already done some cool things. I jumped Frankie for the first time and he was an angel (for the most part) and he went to his first western gaming event! One thing I think is super beneficial with anxious Thoroughbreds like Frankie is cross-training. It keeps their minds working productively but can be as simple as teaching a spin, going on a trail course, or going to an event that features another discipline. Breaking up the arena work with new and challenging things is also fun for the rider!

Fate and Only Fate.

Frankie came to us by fate, I swear. In early May, my trainer gave me a call and told me that a boarder of hers was looking to lease a horse out. I politely declined her offer as I wasn’t interested at the time. A few short weeks later, I was looking for another horse to lease and came across Frankie. A 12-year-old OTTB whose add said that leasing wasn’t an option. On a limb, I replied to the add and ended up with a response saying that yes, half leasing could be an option.

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Autumn Belanger Photography

The next part of the email read, “Are you the Autumn that rides with Cathy?” Surprised, I answered yes and explained my situation. Not even a week later, I had a lesson scheduled on Frankie so I could try him out.

I was only casually looking for another lease and was contemplating taking some time off from riding. The confidence I had in myself (as both a rider and a trainer) was at an all-time low and I wanted to find joy in horses, not hardship and heartbreak. I wanted it to be fun and a community, not a solitary chore. I agreed to try Frankie out anyways, still not knowing he was the horse my trainer very kindly called me about a month before.

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Autumn Belanger Photography

Fast forward to today, 06/16/2019, where I had my sixth ride on Frankie. We’ve taken him on a trial lease to see if he’s a good fit for me. I couldn’t say it more happily that this horse is something special. He tries his heart out and takes everything in stride. A nervous wreck at times but a total sweetheart, Frankie seems to have found a place in my heart.

Trying Horse #2…or Not?

At 5:30 last night I was pulling my breeches on and making one last phone call before hopping in the car to go try out a potential lease option. My phone call was to the lady who owned the horse, well actually the pony, to get her address. She picked up on the last ring and proceeded to tell me that she was too busy tonight to meet. Annoyed, I texted a friend of mine who knows the woman personally asking if this was typical behavior for her. Of course, the answer was yes.

“Plan B….” I thought. What was Plan B though? I decided that Plan B was texting Frankie’s owner to see if she was alright with me coming out and spending some time with him on the ground. Frankie is one of the horses I previously tried out that I liked, so I figured it would be good to get to know him on the ground a little bit more. The owner was cool with it so I continued my trek out the door, sugar cubes in hand.

10 minutes later, I pulled up in front of my dressage Trainers facility and hopped out of the car with my grooming bucket. Frankie, in a stall about halfway down the left side, was standing contently munching on hay. After an hour of grooming, cuddling, and doing a bit of +R with him, I decided to head home. I was feeling very relaxed despite my previous blood pressure spike due to being canceled on last minute. I was also feeling like I had found my new horse.

 

Trying Horse #1

On 6/1/2019 I tried a 12 year old Thoroughbred gelding registered by the name of Frantic, barn name “Frankie”. He has some vices (pawing and being a bit mouthy) but other than that, the horse is perfect. He’s build like a truck and a bit chubby but is an absolute sweetheart. He can be a bit nervous sometimes but really knows his stuff. He does flying changes and stretches/goes into frame quite easily. The perfect horse for me? Yes.

The situation gets coincidental though. A couple weeks ago my Dressage trainer called me about this horse. He was a really good horse and her client was looking to lease him out. I was flattered, but at the time I was still with Diva. Then last week, when I really realized Diva was no longer going to work, I started looking for horses again.

I ran across Frankie’s add and even though it said he wasn’t for lease, I went out on a limb. The owner ended up being game for leasing him out and I tried him yesterday. Come to find out, the horse my trainer called me about and Frankie were the same horse. Fate? Maybe, probably.

I am trying out other horses, but Frankie is 10/10 a perfect horse for me and I am wanting to go back to ride him again. Who knows, maybe he’s the one!?

Loss.

Well, we all knew this was coming. On May 25th I found out that my lessor responded back to an add of someone wanting a jumper. A friend of a friend told me and as any sane person would, I texted my lessor immediately. Diva wasn’t up for sale. But then on May 30th, she was sold to a girl that could ride her but to an extent. Not my horse, no longer my problem. I know that sounds harsh, but our lease situation was a very sketchy one from the start.

Anyways, May was my last month with Diva. Lots of tears were shed but it was for the best. We had hit a plateau in her training and she was meant to go elsewhere. I needed a horse that was consistent as much as I need a lessor that was consistent. I love Diva with all my heart, but we were never meant for each other.

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“I’m on a roller coaster that only goes up, my friend.”