When D brought Stinker down, she wanted to see him hop over some cross rails. He had been lunged over jumps and hopped out of a 3'6" arena before. Here is his first attempt. Please excuse S. She is in my dressage saddle, which is far too big for her and the stirrup leathers didn't go short enough for her. Tall people problems.
Apparently he forgot he had hind legs. He got the hang of it.
I think he is a cute little jumper. And he hates to touch the pole which is good.
If you are a glutton for punishment and have a horse that doesn't like to walk what do you do? You take him on a trail ride. I am a firm believer that horses need variety. I figure that if I can't handle doing the same thing day in and day out, why should I make my horse do that. Right now we are limited to playing in the sandbox or wandering in the pastures around the cross country jumps. These are nice, but I was getting bored.
I am not a total idiot (although a strong case could be made otherwise), so S took Stinker and I on a trail ride. I am so thankful S's horse loves the Stinker, because normally she is a grouch and likes her space. Stinker wanted to be up on her bum, so Stinker and I came to a compromise. He didn't stick her nose up her tail (his ideal length) and I didn't get the horse length space.
Once we actually got off the road and onto the trail he was super happy. He walked along in a nice swinging walk and was on a loose rein. Not the buckle (again not trying to die) but a nice loop in the reins. He perked his ears up and was eager to see what was around the next turn.
When we started heading back there was some jigging, but to his dismay S's horse can walk faster than he can jig. It was nice because his options were jig and get left behind or walk like a normal animal and keep up. Thankfully he chose the second option. Sadly I don't have any pictures from the ride. I prefer to keep both hands on the reins and not be distracted messing with my phone. So I will leave you with this.
The Stinker Pony struggles with the concept of walking under saddle. He prefers to do pretty much anything else. Trot, canter, piaffe, passage, tempi, you name it he does it. Unfortunately, none of these are necessary or being executed properly. Although he wants to start at the top of the pyramid, we need to start at the bottom. We are back at square one teaching him rhythm and relaxation.
I was at a bit of a loss as to how to teach him this. In the past when I was riding a young horse with this issue I could park her behind a herd of cows and use that to teach her to walk and relax. Sadly I am fresh out of cattle herds, plus I don't know if Stinker has ever seen a cow. That might be a whole new can of worms.
Luckily he is excellent on a lunge line. It is like his security blanket. When he is on the lunge line he is very relaxed, drops his head, lifts his back, and looks absolutely gorgeous. This is great in lessons. S can put us on the line and walk us around until he turns on his brain then we can be let off and go our merry way. Sadly I haven't figured out how to lunge myself and ride him at the same time. I guess I really need to work on cloning myself. So for now I have to get creative.
I was lunging him before I rode him, but that never seemed to matter. He would be wonderful on the line and an idiot when I got on. Now I am walking him, riding him and if he turns on his baby brain I get off and walk him again. Right now I am not pushing him. We are taking our sweet time and once we get this walk thing figured out we will add in more trot. I am guessing we will have the same issues in the trot. Rhythm and relaxation two things I am horrible about...I guess we are our horses.
When D brought the Stinker down to me, she stayed for a few days to give us lessons and help smooth the transition. AKA help him deal from going a professional rider to having me flopping around. Also, attempt to teach me not to tense up when he goes into his default mode of OMG I MUST PRANCE!!!! He was wonderful and I sent her on her way assuring her that we would be wonderful.
The next day I rode him thinking that we would have a nice short walk trot canter ride. And the little stinker came out to play. I discovered I had bought an incredibly athletic pogo stick. Without D, he was really unsure and tense. When he gets unsure and nervous, he turns of his highly intelligent brain and switches to BABY BRAIN. As soon as I got on, he started cantering...in place....with his chin tucked to his chest. Oh and did I mention that S had ridden him the day before and I forgot to drop my stirrups. I am now on a spring loaded cantering in place horse and I feel like a jockey.
I decided the sensible thing would be to ride it out and then when he calmed down I could get off and drop my stirrups. Silly me. Little did I know when I tried to ride it out it would just cause him to get more forward. We went bounding around with him swapping leads, swinging his haunches around, and me getting more and more tense which just fed into the problem. The great thing was while I was lacking breaks I had excellent steering. Thankfully, I am old enough that my baby brain didn't take over. I finally got him to stop (not calm, but stopped long enough for me to get off to fix the stirrups) using the voice commands. Thank goodness D had him spot on with the voice commands from lunging him.
I got my stirrups fixed and climbed back on. This time I knew what to expect and was able to manage the oodles of energy slightly better. We were able to trot and do a normal trot not a feet flinging saddlebred trot. This was the first of many baby brain moments.
As soon as the ride ended he would be right back in my pocket looking so adorable I couldn't even be frustrated with how sore my abs were. The moment when I started openly calling him stinker pony was the first night he was turned out with his group. He had been getting daytime turnout, but this was the first time he was out at night. Apparently since the lovely ladies across the fence were so attractive, he thought it was a good idea to play in the fence. Needless to say he managed to scrape up his hind legs fairly badly and got almost a week off. I hadn't even had him a week. Between his antics in the pasture and under saddle he became Stinker Pony (in the most loving way possible).
What exactly is a gingeraffe? A gingeraffe is a very tall ginger (me) or a ginger with a very long neck (Stinker Pony). For the record he isn't actually a pony, he is just shorter than I had intended.
(The picture that convinced me to buy the Stinker Pony)
Neither the stinker nor I have ever actually evented and this is a story of our progression. To start I will tell you a little bit about me.
I can't remember not riding. I started out young and when I say young I mean too small to sit on the horse by myself. My parents would ride with my sister and I in front of them. Then we graduated to being led around. Finally this led to me becoming a speed demon on a horse.
(I'm the little one of the left)
I tried showing Western in high school, but mostly Mandy (a superb cattle horse) and I blew around the ring. Neither of us cared for the dinky jog or lope that is expected. But I digress. Starting with college I took a 6-7 year break from horses, it wasn't until I was in grad school that I started riding again.
(One of my earlier lessons)
My goal was to jump, but I was told to start with dressage. Not surprisingly dressage appealed to my neurotic overachiever personality. And I was happy being a pretend dressage queen with an amazing trainer D. Surprise surprise I graduated and had to move in order to have a big kid job (VERY helpful with a horse habit). This led me to an eventing barn, my current trainer S, and my decision to purchase my first horse (as an adult...as a child I claimed at least 10 head of horses at any one time unless my dad asked about the feed bill).
So how does one go about purchasing a horse when they are fresh out of grad school (aka broke) and only know enough to know that they don't know anything. Well if you are like me (I am sorry if you are), you decide to contact your old trainer (who is now 14 hours away) and tell her to find you a horse...This is how you end up with a stinker pony.
D did an amazing job and I purchased a green broke (and by green broke I mean he had been sat on) horse sight unseen (a vet check was done I am not quite that crazy). D rode him for ~90 days and then brought him down. And in my totally objective opinion he is amazing.
(Our first ride)
It wasn't without reservations that I went through this process. There were several times I freaked out and thought I had lost my mind. I may still think that. Even though I am good with baby brain, I still don't know what I am doing when it comes to two phases of eventing and the stinker pony knows even less.