Definition: Green

I had an interesting conversation with my trainer at the show last weekend. It was about Frankie (obviously) and whether or not he counts as “green.” After all, this was his first time in the show ring. And the answer we came up with? Eeehhhhhh kinda-sorta-maybe-in-certain-ways-but-not-really.

On the one hand: my horse is broke. Super duper very broke. Broke on the flat, broke over fences, broke in the ring, broke on the trail, broke broke broke. He ate up the dressage training he got at Phyllis’ barn and whoever taught him to jump did it right- he jumps the jump every single time.

He knows his lateral work, he knows his lead changes (even if he doesn’t offer them up, he will give them when asked), he knows how to move forward on a contact. He doesn’t get anxious about new venues, loud noises, or poor riding.

He knows how to gallop up to a fence without tuning me out, and he knows how to rate his stride and adjust in a line. He does all this in a basic snaffle, and my rolly spurs and crop are more for decoration than anything else at this point.

This is turning into another bragfest about my horse and it’s not meant to be- I just want to clarify that I’m not trying to pretend that my horse is a project. So we have a bunch of big checkmarks in the NOT GREEN section.

But he did have some greenie moments at the show. Not surprising- it was his first show. And it was a different job than he’s been trained to do in a couple ways.

Exhibit A: combos. Again, he will jump the jumps. But how often do you see a one-stride out in a hunt field? He’s used to having a bit of a recovery stride after a fence and definitely needed my support to press through more powerfully. These got better throughout the show as I figured out how to set him up better, and by the end he was starting to carry me through more instead of waiting for me to carry him. Practice will make perfect.

Actually legging through the combo = more power out and jumping more cleanly.


Exhibit B: pace. Big long lopey gallop? He will maintain that all day. In terms of speed, he’s actually right on the mark. But we’re not looking for a big long low canter- we’re looking for something powerful and energetic with fire behind it. He will happily rev up the RPMs into that jumper-y gait, but that is not his default setting. I have to explicitly ask for that. You may have noticed that in my last two rounds I went into the ring and immediately asked him to stretch out and gallop a bit across the ring- this was to get him tuned up to that tempo and get him pumped up for our round. When we did that before asking him to balance into a rate-able canter, he carried a much more lively pace around the course.

This was a turn that rode nicely for us. Because we had power and not just speed.

Exhibit C: overjumping. This translated to a lot of hang-time in the air, almost stalling out over the jumps. He likes to gallop at the fences and take the gap (like a hunter), but jumps cleaner when I rock back to the base- and rocking back to the base is hard work for him! Once I figured out how to keep my leg on more strongly across the jump this improved, but he’s still learning to embrace the jumper chip.

I had gotten to a decent spot to this jump, but he kinda popped over it like a deer. Why? Because look at just how useless my leg is right there.Doing literally nothing to help him out.

Exhibit D: llama jumping. I’ve heard people say, “Frankie could be a great hunter!” And I get why they say that- he has a lovely ground-covering canter and a super level head. But have you seen my horse jump?? He looks like an idiot. I love my boy to the moon and back and he is perfect in my eyes, but cute pictures of him jumping are few and far between because he jumps like an idiot. This isn’t actually a green-ness thing, I just wanted to let you know that he does, in fact, have flaws. Pretty sure he’ll start jumping cuter when we jack the jumps up to a height that actually intrigues him. Or, you know, he’ll keep flailing over the jumps. Like a dork.

Back to Exhibits A-C. I wouldn’t label any of these as “problem areas,” just areas for us to build more and better experiences in. Frankie was not offering any bad behavior at all in these areas, he simply wasn’t offering any behavior at all. How could he? These were new concepts to him. He was very much waiting for my input around each course. It’s my job to clearly instruct him on what he needs to be doing and when, where, how he needs to do it. Basically, Potato Brain needs to go away and I need to be very present with my leg around every course.

Need to press through a combo that’s set long? LEG ON

Need to package our stride into something that’s got hella impulsion? LEG ON

Need to get to the base and then power across a big oxer? LEG ON

It’s almost like better riding leads to a better, more educational and supported experience for the horse. I knew I was paying my trainer for something.


Verdict? We already knew that Frankie isn’t a green horse, especially compared to those of you with actual baby greenies. But I’m really excited to have these little things to work on together- I feel like it’s forcing me to step up my game so I can start giving back to him a little.

What do you consider “green?”


16 thoughts on “Definition: Green

  1. shelbyrallen 06/22/2016 / 11:23 am

    He’s over jumping so much clearly to tell you that he wants to to the higher jump classes! Hehe… but I think horses can be green in some areas and very experienced in others. Justin was similar – he was very schooled under saddle and over fences and basically everything else, but he had never been to an event. This meant our first couple dressage tests were filled with lots of whinnying, and not wanting to leave the start box, but I feel like since he was almost entirely not green, his inexperience in competition went away very quickly 🙂 At least Frankie is brave and amazing, so I’m sure you’ll overcome these tiny speed bumps before you know it 🙂


    • hellomylivia 06/22/2016 / 12:10 pm

      Hehe I think he wants to move up too! You make a really good point about greenness in terms of ability vs experience in certain contexts. And now Justin seems to know his job super well!


  2. carey 06/22/2016 / 11:32 am

    Always something to work on! Glad they are all good ones 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. L. Williams 06/22/2016 / 11:36 am

    Definitely wouldn’t classify him as Green, inexperienced sure, but I always tend to categorize green with an even more inexperienced and younger horse than Frankie. But heck I rode in Hunter 1 for the last couple years only against horses who counted as “Green” by the rulebook but who definitely weren’t.

    I asked a similar question once on my blog a lot of people replied:


    • hellomylivia 06/22/2016 / 12:16 pm

      The whole green thing in Hunterland absolutely defies logic to me. Those comments had some really interesting perspectives, thank you for pointing me at it!


  4. Karen M 06/22/2016 / 11:37 am

    Frankie is such a cutie 🙂 I think “green” means a horse that is inexperienced in answering the questions you are asking. So it makes sense to me that Frankie could be considered a bit green in the jumper show environment because he hasn’t done it before.


    • hellomylivia 06/22/2016 / 12:17 pm

      Ooooh I really like that wording: inexperienced in answering the questions. I’m gonna use that!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Heather 06/22/2016 / 11:59 am

    I think over all he’s probably not green, but a lot of hunt horses are pretty green about showing, even if they’re really well behaved. A good hunt horse can really be a lot of fun for the reasons you listed though.

    L. made a good point about “Green” hunters who can be in potentially their 5th year showing in green divisions with no limit to how much they’ve competed in the jumper rings so “green” is maybe a bit ambiguous.

    It’s so crazy how leg is pretty much always the answer. And yet even though I know that, I still almost always need more. Especially at a show when I forget everything I’ve ever known.


    • hellomylivia 06/22/2016 / 12:19 pm

      I really love his background, it’s made him into a truly fun horse to ride! And yes to the green hunters. The official definition makes my brain hurt because I don’t understand.
      Why do we always forget everything at shows??? Sudden onset horse show amnesia is a serious condition.


  6. Lauren 06/22/2016 / 12:06 pm

    I saw an equestrian meme the other day that was something like…

    “What if I die?”

    “More leg.”


    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hillary H. 06/22/2016 / 12:58 pm

    This is an interesting topic because I think even I was guilty of calling Houston green when he was a fairly solid citizen. I think with a lot of horses they get to a point where they aren’t green flat but rather have green moments or are green to some tasks?

    Annie is solidly in the green category in my book with most young inexperienced horses.


    • hellomylivia 06/22/2016 / 1:15 pm

      I really like how you worded that: green to some tasks. I think that fits our situation pretty well.
      Annie is a greenie for now but she’s coming along so fantastically! Such a good baby 🙂


  8. Tracy - Fly On Over 06/24/2016 / 9:19 am

    I think a lot of horses are green to certain tasks… I mean, if they’ve never done it then they are green in that situation. For example, I do not consider Miles a green horse, but he didn’t really know how to do gymnastics or go on trail rides before I got him. So while there were definitely gaps in his training, or new things I wanted him to be good at, I don’t think that makes him green.


    • hellomylivia 06/27/2016 / 8:40 am

      Agreed! I think Frankie has a gap when it comes to gymnastics too- we’re slowly teaching him to love them!


  9. Liz 06/25/2016 / 2:57 pm

    Yeah…whoever started this horse did one hell of a good job. Bigger jumps are in your future for sure as you two dial things in better together. You’ll totally get there with such a fantastic foundationews as you’ve got already


    • hellomylivia 06/27/2016 / 8:46 am

      I’m in the process of tracking down his past owner(s)/breeder so I can hug them and thank them for creating this horse. I’m SO excited to work the kinks out and keep moving up with him ❤


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