What’s New, Francis?

I anticipated some sluggishness from Frankie for a little bit due to the increased training workload, but homeboy has been a star!

I’ve been conquering my fear of trail rides at least 1-2x a week lately, and he is one happy camper. We can have golf carts zoom up our butt (our barn is in a golf course community, so they’re a pretty common sight), bunnies hurl themselves across our path, helicopters flying overhead, and he keeps bopping around on the buckle barely flicking an ear. I’ve been making a point to seek out hills to do trot sets on, and he is just as relaxed as he is at the walk. This is nothing new for him and he’s demonstrated his steadiness on trails before, but getting out there more consistently has been great for my own confidence outside the ring- you all know that I’m a huge baby in unconfined spaces.

You can definitely tell from his ears just how hot and electric he is. 

In our lesson two weeks ago, it was unbearably hot. Absolutely brutal. But like the unicorn he is, Frankie went around the ring and didn’t put a foot wrong. He needed a little more support from me to get that energetic canter we’re always searching for, but we were able to focus on straightness through his body to get some really nice efforts. Considering I saw a lot of other horses exhibiting some tantrum behavior that day due to the heat (I can’t even blame them), it was that much sweeter to have Frankie going so consistently. As usual, I found my pace somewhere in the middle of my course- I need to get that off the bat instead of taking 2-3 jumps to manufacture it. It’s another case of Frankie giving me exactly what I ask for and not an inch more or less. When I ask, I receive. It’s about time I get my head out of my butt and ask already.

He’s also been rising to the occasion in our flatwork sessions. I’ve been making a point to ask for more consistent contact with plenty of stretch breaks, instead of the other way around. I’ve been throwing in more counter-canter to help develop some better balance and feel around our turns, which has been going quite well. I’m working on asking more deliberately for my leads and helping him re-balance using my seat instead of my hands. We’ve also been trying to include lots of downwards transitions- he’s very prompt with his upwards transitions (as long as he’s in front of my leg HAH), but likes to dive on his forehand into his downwards. I’m focusing on keeping his weight rocked back so that we can move forwards into the downwards, instead of him pulling me forward out of the tack. This has a ways to go to be really consistent, but I’m confident we’ll get there.

Unrelated but I just love all the different things I have up on my walls. Yes, that small one is a print of Paul Revere on a velociraptor. And no, I’m not sorry for having 3023498 books by my bed.

This week Frankie was absolutely 100% My Little Pony. It was a bit of a rough week for a couple reasons (Manfriend is a cop now and scary situations come with the territory- he’s totally fine but I’m still a bit shaken) and I was feeling a little emotionally raw. Maybe I’m anthropomorphizing, but I swear Frankie could tell. He was SUPER snuggly and affectionate on the ground and was such an ultimate packer in my lesson.  Of course he’s always sweet and a good boy, but this was some next level love. It really felt like he was checking in with me every few minutes to make sure I was doing ok. We’ll get back to training harder shortly, but I’m grateful that we had a day of horse therapy where I was able to rely entirely on my horse and trust that he would take care of me.

In non-riding related Frankie news, I finally bit the bullet and put him on a Smartpak. His hooves aren’t in great shape due to the crap weather this year- he’s been in glue-ons and pads up front for a few cycles now and has basically a prosthetic reconstructed hoof on his right front (LOL BYE MONEY)- so he’s starting a hoof supplement. I figured as long as I’m tossing stuff in his feed we may as well toss in a joint supplement too- I’m not completely sold on the effectiveness, but it can’t hurt and at this point I’m willing to throw every tool in the toolbox at him. If it supports his joints even marginally, that’s worth it to me. When I made the mistake of complaining, “but he used to be so low maintenance!” to AT, she not-so-gently reminded me that we get to do a lot of cool stuff we couldn’t do before, and that comes with increased care. Touche.

We could not do this last year.

The short version of all of this is that we’re working hard and having fun doing it. I’m feeling confident that we’re setting ourselves up for success for our show at the end of August and beyond!

11 thoughts on “What’s New, Francis?

  1. Stacie Seidman 07/28/2017 / 9:22 am

    Glad the manfriend is ok!
    Sounds like things are going great with the Frank-man. Badger was in a glue on with a fake foot for a bit too. I think they switched back to nailed on too soon though. He was sore after that and has been tack walking forever! Ugh!
    I’m the same way with joint supplements. I kind of doubt they work, but just in case they do I give them to all my horses.


    • hellomylivia 07/28/2017 / 9:25 am

      We’re definitely being conservative with his shoes right now- I do think it’s going to be a few more cycles of glue ons (RIP to my wallet). Badger needs to get better quickly so I can see more pics of him being adorable!!!


      • Stacie Seidman 07/28/2017 / 9:30 am

        Tell me about it! The only bright side is if he’s still sore after getting shoes today, he might come home for a few weeks! Pictures galore!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. SprinklerBandits 07/28/2017 / 9:44 am

    Good on you for doing the extra care. It makes me crazy when people think they can lay extraordinary demands on a performance horse and not up the level of care they provide.


    • hellomylivia 07/28/2017 / 9:45 am

      It’s definitely all new to me as we get to levels I’ve never experienced, so I’m really grateful to have more knowledgeable people around to make sure Frankie is getting everything he needs! Enjoying the learning process for sure.


  3. Tori 07/28/2017 / 10:11 am

    Hope the supplements help improve those toes for you!


  4. Rocking E Cowgirl 07/31/2017 / 11:15 am

    Horses absolutely can tell when something is up! And I understand feeling nervous about riding outside the arena… Me too!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. HunkyHanoverian 07/31/2017 / 1:52 pm

    My fave part about getting SmatPaks is the free shipping you get on all other products. Makes it so easy to order small items that I need but don’t feel like driving to the tack store and don’t want to pay shipping on!

    I feel you on the all the upkeep that comes with higher performing horses though. I’m hoping all the money I’ve dumped into it pays off this fall when we debut in the AA’s and eventually the AO hunters. *Fingers crossed*


    • hellomylivia 08/02/2017 / 1:34 pm

      I’m definitely excited about the free shipping, it’s gonna save sooo much time.

      All fingers are crossed for the AOs!!!


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