Friday, June 21, 2013

Month One....

“It won't be like this for long,
One day we'll look back laughing at the week we brought her home,
This phase is gonna fly by,
so baby just hold on,
It won't be like this for long
                   Darius Rucker

Hard to believe it has already been a month and hard to believe it has only been a month. B'sheret has been at Woodloch with me now for 4 weeks and 1 day. It has been crazy and amazing all at once.

We got off to a little bit of a bumpy start together, he had a medical issue the first week, his stifle locked up and we spent a day getting it unstuck. But from the moment Dr. Ed got him moving again we have been going non-stop and it has been a really great experience.

B' has come so far in the last month, once again my regret is I didn't videotape more of it, especially his first few days. When we brought him home and backed him off the trailer he looked around like he had moved to another planet (and in ways he had). He went from living with 4 or 5 horses on a very quiet controlled farm to living with 100+ on a very active, sometimes chaotic farm. He went from lots of inside time to outside 12 hours a day. He went from his nice quiet arenas to sharing arenas with lessons, and training and day camp and horses and ponies of every shape, size, color and breed.

But for all that change, he has handled it far better than I could have ever expected from a 4 year old. He is a sweet, calm, loving, level headed horse who wants to work hard and wants to learn and do what you ask of him. He is a super fast learner and watching him learn new things has been my favorite part of this month.

The newest thing we have taught him in the last month is showmanship (something he had not done previously). In a few short days he learned to walk with me, to trot with me, and in the last month his pivots are coming along really well and he has learned to square his feet. He has already been shown twice in this first month in showmanship and did great.

He has also learned to take in all the new sounds, smells and sights at Woodloch (and at the show grounds) and each day I see something else he is no longer concerned by. His courage and his trust in me and his trainer to take care of him has grown a lot. Even how he reacts when something does make him nervous has changed. When he first joined us his immediate reaction was "I am outta here, and good luck to my rider on not getting eaten". Today when he was worried about a paint pony who walked through the arena, you could tell he put a lot more thought into staying under me and thinking about what we should do it about it together, he much more wanted to keep his eyes on it than to escape from it. It's a lot of fun watching him mature and gain that confidence.

He is not the only one who has learned this month, he is teaching me a lot too, both in and out of the saddle. On the ground he has taught me about patience, taking time to teach and explore and just the value of simple things like going for a walk. Between needing to introduce him to WL and also trying to strengthen his stifle we have gone on many walks to different parts of the farm, time we wouldn't have had together under other circumstances, and they are some of my favorite memories from the last month. We have played in puddles, we have walked through the woods, we have explored, we have discussed Bob the cat and we have just hung out on those walks. Since I have traveled a lot this month and not been with him every day, those moments I have had alone with him walking around are precious memories.

In the saddle he is teaching me a very different way of riding than I had with Joker. He has different cues, more advanced cues such as a "spur stop" and so it is taking me being open to retraining my habits and learning him as much as him learning me. Another process I am really enjoying. He is making me grow as a rider every time I mount.

Part of the reason I bought a horse was to be able to start showing at the breed show level, in his case AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) shows. It was something I had never done with Joker and being able to do that for the first time with my own horse was a great day. He showed really well, both for me and Etta and handled it all like an old pro.

I was asked today if I could go back and do it over if I would buy him again, a fair question. The answer is unequivocally yes. Did I learn a couple things this month about some questions you should take into consideration when buying a horse (such as will your existing tack fit the horse, is the environment you are taking the horse from and too similar) but even if I had asked those questions and got the answers I have learned this month, I would not change my decision. He is the exact right horse for me in so many ways. He fits me where I need him to fit right now, and we will grow together in so many other ways. He is the horse I was destined to be with right now, my B'sheret, and I wouldn't change that in the least. While I will admit I have had some days recently of doubting if I am worthy of him, if I am a good enough rider to rise to his abilities, I have never once doubted if he is the right horse for me and what I want/need in a riding partner and best friend.

I can't end this post without thanking Etta (my riding coach/B's trainer) and Theo (my

farrier and go to person for a ton of little things). I could NOT have done this month without the two of them. So much of B's growth is from the outstanding training he is receiving, and a lot of my sanity is coming from the fact that every time I get over my head the two of them are there to catch me (and often are out in front of me before I even know I need the help). They have treated B'sheret with the same love and concern they would have given one of their own horses and that has meant the world to me.

The biggest lesson for me in these 4 weeks is no one does this alone, as much as I like to hide from the world and do it on my own, I have watched over the last month as I have become closer to the other boarders, our barn crew, my teammates on the show team, Etta and Theo. I have not only had to let them all in at times, but have also found I wanted to at times. That having B' has made me more a part of the community at our barn and has pulled me out of my shell a little.

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