Canter & Candor

Canter and Candor; an honest account of an amateur equestrian and her life with an OTTB


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The $900 Facebook Pony Blog Hop: The Little Things

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With some behavioral snafus over the past couple weeks, Amanda at the $900 Facebook Pony’s blog hop is timed perfectly. No matter how spooky or naughty C gets, there are always little things I love about him.

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soggy booger 

Question: “What are the “little things” about your horse that you’re so fond of?

The first that comes to mind is a bit of an odd one. C likes to stretch when I’m walking him out to pasture or in, or just in hand in general. He’ll drop his head so far that his nose is dragging on the ground, shoveling through whatever happens to be there, and he occasionally kicks himself on the chin and then looks up in shock, wondering what hit him. It’s adorable.

Another little quirk is how much he likes having his sweaty behind-the-ears spot scratched after rides. He’ll lean into it and grunt, and if you stop, move his head up and down to simulate it.

I love how much he loves jumping, because I love jumping, and I love his silly excited bucks when we’ve had a really good jump and he just needs to celebrate! I love the occasional flying lead changes he throws in, just to pleasantly surprise me sometimes and remind me how super awesomely talented he is.

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wheeeee!

Playing peek-a-boo at the barn is fun too, even though I know he’s only cookie-hunting. It’s still cute!

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THERE you are! now, where’s my cookie?

On a more serious note, the change in my riding has been incredible since I’ve owned C. He makes me a better equestrian, in the saddle and out, every time I sit on or handle him. Owning a green horse has been one of the most simultaneously challenging and rewarding thing I’ve taken on, and that’s one of the things I appreciate most about him.

So basically, I love him because he makes me happier than I’ve ever been!

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smiling and pretending I didn’t just spend $400 on horsey items… shhh

— M


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What Lurks in the Shadows

…nothing, C. Nothing does. Especially in your own shadow.

This post may come off a little rant-y and I swear it was totally intended that way. C has settled in really nicely to the new place in many aspects. He’s got his appetite, turnout, no vices, and seems to have adjusted somewhat to the high-traffic facility. The weather is pleasant and warm, and by all means he should be displaying some semblance of manners.

I’m going to preface this by saying I never expected C to stay the exact same way he was when I bought him. He wasn’t getting enough calories to have that ‘crazy’ TB spark, but sweet Jesus on a bicycle, he sure is now. Guys, my horse will not. Stop. Spooking.

Over the past couple weeks almost every ride has been punctuated repeatedly by sideways flying, little rears, mareish squeals, and the occasional bolt. I can sit these, that’s fine, but dear lord is it irritating. I’ll have him in steady, light contact, his trot will be rhythmic and floaty, and then a bird across the arena will take a hop and he loses his brain. The worst part is it’s only for flatwork, which is a solid 85% of my rides. I don’t know if I’m not challenging him enough to keep his attention, or if whatever semi-immobile bird/car/horse/trailer/tree is just genuinely terrifying in that moment, but it’s been something that has made some rides feel like chores instead of fun.

I don’t know if I coddle him too much and am “letting him get away with” these things, or if the ‘fear’ is real. Sometimes I’m convinced it’s an evasion, and others I’m like damn, well if a trailer was rattling behind me and went over a bump and the sun hit it juuuuust right I might think it was a monster too.

N and I are taking a closer look at his feed and we’re going to cut some things out and see what happens. Hopefully, he’ll regain some sense. If discipline, not sense, is the missing factor, then I’ll have N do a few training rides on him and see how she fares with the whole fiasco. It’s getting exhausting, and I hate saying that because I know people with horses who have been dealing with this sort of thing for years, and I know I’m lucky to have such a game, talented horse, and the spooks are well worth the rest of the ride, and all the rest.

So, while it’s nice to hear “You dealt with him well!” and “Nice job sitting through that!” I’d just, well…. rather not. 🙂

So in case anyone was wondering why posts have been pretty sparse so far in February, it’s just been me trying to deal with the extra frustration and trying not to write a whine-y post (oops?) about baby antics. Outside of the kajillion (read: ten) spooks per ride, we’re getting pretty solid work in, so I feel guilty for complaining. But, in the words of Selena Gomez, the heart wants what it wants and mine wants to whine right now (it also wants white XC boots, but unfortunately, the heart can’t always pay for what it wants).

Keep your fingers crossed for me that feed is the source and we can pin this down before we trailer out to our first event (which is, actually, on the schedule for late April. Eek!). If trees and birds at home are scary, I bet Fresno trees and birds are downright terrifying.

No photos because C’s cute face automatically exempts him from any fault.

Okay, just one.

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but it’s a gross, drooly one, so who really wins here?

— M


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And Now, A Scenario:

It’s a stunning evening in early spring. Birds are chirping, trees rustle in gentle winds, and the dying sunlight casts long shadows into the flawless footing of the arena. Upon bringing C in from turnout, M notices he is fresh and decides that popping him on the longe might not be a bad idea. Under the orange light of the sunset, reflected in his copper coat, C canters and bucks and farts in a relatively civilized manner as M coos him praises.

A truck and trailer slowly turn the corner. C has never seen a truck and trailer before. Instinctually he bolts in the opposite direction; M digs her heels in and tries not to lose her balance despite being dragged by a 1300 pound 16.2 hand-high behemoth. C realizes that not even an inch before him lies a mounting block, which he flies over, majestic and deer-like. On the backside of this ‘jump’ he tries to kick out, nearly falling flat-out on his face. M screams, “Well, what the hell did you think was going to happen?” at the top of her lungs while the pony clubbers in the neighboring arena look on in a mixture of horror and awe. The majestic baby OTTB recovers his balance and fancy-trots as though nothing happened.

As M leads her horse to the upper jumping arena, trainer (N) says, “I saw a chestnut streak down there. Was that C?”

Yes. Yes it was.

C proceeds to be angelic under saddle and his canter feels like clouds.

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“To what chestnut streak are you referring?”

Ah, the sweet art of give & take.

— M