My year share with Marley, the wonderful 15.3 black Irish thoroughbred was coming to an end. It was time to find a horse that could take me through the Wobbleberry Challenge. In many ways, I needed a horse that would help me get around a cross country course, alive and intact. Marley is a school horse so its not possible to use him for the challenge. Marley helped to get my confidence back in the saddle and I'm so grateful for my time with him. I went from self-ejecting from on a hack due to nervousness to jumping easily with him.
My wish list for a new horse was simple.
- must have evented before so he knows what's happening, especially as I don't a clue
- be safe
- be sound
- be calm
- be willing to receive lots of attention, polos and cuddles
- be able to deal with my mistakes, of which I will make plenty
- did I mention safe?
Without looking too seriously, I saw an advert for a 16 hand, liver chestnut thoroughbred. The owner was looking for someone to take him on full loan. As an eventing horse, he was keen at his job however he wasn't enjoying competing at the higher levels. This sounded like a possibility as I have no interest in jumping a meter anytime soon.
Was I ready for a full loan of a horse? Having a share in a horse is easy as the responsibility is limited but as I wanted to compete in an 80cm event course, I need to up my game and get serious about riding which means taking a horse on. full. stop.
So I made an appointment.
The private yard was lovely and the owner gracious and welcoming. We started off with a lesson; he was considerable wider in girth then Marley and needed more push but he had a beautiful head and was super sweet. From that first lesson I was pretty much hooked. I have trialled horses before where immediately it's a giant no. We had about 4 lessons and we went through that feeling out phase; I was getting schooled more then I was schooling the horse.
I was learning how to actually ride.
With each lesson I was sweating, huffing and puffing and working my legs like they've never been worked before. With this horse being stronger and heavier then Marley, he required more constant aids on. I was discovering new muscles in my legs that apparently have previously never engaged before, which from a yoga instructor is saying something.
The owner was excellent at explaining to me how's and why's; she helped me to understand more about horse behaviour while in the saddle which did wonders for my nerves. It was obvious the ability of this horse and his training; that combined with those lessons started to make feel confident as a rider and the actuality of my goal to event was becoming a reality.
It brings me great delight to introduce Foxglen Jasper aka Frog, my new partnership for the Wobbleberry Challenge!
With any new horse, that trial period is key. You've got to be absolutely honest and not let your desires get in the way of the horse that is right for you. I went into each lesson with Frog with an open mind, a willingness to learn and an acceptance that it may not work out. The same applies with the owner, they need to be sure you are able and capable to deal with their property respectfully. It is important not to rush this phase to ensure it goes as right for both parties.
I'm over the moon with Frog, he is a good ol boy and a lover of food, cuddles, polos and habits. I couldn't be happier. I'm learning how to ride better and establishing a trusting partnership. This is my first time with a ginger and so far, the going is great. We are taking it slow and realistic. My years of yoga practice understand this process however at times, I do want to go jump a cross country course! Fortunately sense prevails as we aren't quite ready yet, although I did go hunting recently on a horse I've never ridden before, but that story is for another blog.
The owner has high hopes that not only will Frog and I get around the 80cm course, but that we will do well and in fine standing. Personally, aside from hoping I don't come off or puke my guts out from nerves, I want to make everyone who donated to my cause, proud of our accomplishments.
Coming soon, jumping wins and fails!
Love Tahnee and Frog. x