Earth to Francis

We all know that Frankie is a perfect angel, right? Never does anything remotely bad, is rock solid 100% of the time?

Frankie decided to use this cold snap to remind me that he is not, in fact, the pretty pony on the merry-go-round. He is a horse. With opinions (even if they rarely make an appearance).

It started last weekend in my lesson- we warmed up on the flat just fine, popped over a few crossrails, and then the wheels fell off. Frankie discovered that when he sneezed, rooted, and humped his back just so, he could pull the reins right out of my hands. LIKE A JERK.

We would head up to a jump (tiny ones in short courses bc omg cold), he would canter up like a normal horse, jump it like a horse who has done this a thousand times, then his brain would fall out his butt and he would land porpoising until I pulled him up in a heap.

Every. Time.


And I won’t pretend to any startling feats of bravery here: while I never felt unseated, it definitely did kick some nerves into play. It didn’t feel dangerous, just entirely unenjoyable and yucky. For that lesson, we ended up doing a bunch more flatwork to get our brains back in our skulls and get my own body to stop emitting PANIC vibes.

Listen, I get it: the temp had plummeted, he hadn’t gotten much turnout time for a few days, it was windy, all these things would make any horse fresh. And all things considered, it wasn’t dangerous or malicious behavior- it was a fit horse with a lot of excess energy that simultaneously wanted to play but also get out of work. It isn’t hard to figure out why this happened.

Still annoying as hell tho.

Fast forward to Thursday, which was equally cold and gross and turnout-less. In the interest of self-preservation, I asked Trainer if I could lunge Francis for 10-15 min before hopping on to let him move out and warm up and let out any silliness. And yes, if you were wondering: this was my first time lunging him. Homeboy hasn’t really needed it in the past.

Luckily, his unicorn status held and he lunged like he does it every day (after a quick reminder that coming into the middle is invasive and rude and not allowed). I say luckily, because I spent most of the time trying to organize the line and half-heartedly clucking at him. Good boy Francis.

So I hopped on, very pleased that we had warmed him up and let him work out some energy.

Until we cantered and he remembered that rooting and pulling and humping was super fun last time. DANGIT FRANCIS NOT AGAIN.

So we borrowed a gag converter from AT and set off again.

gag converter
Example: it goes through the bit rings and up through the brow band, then a second set of reins attaches and gives the gag action.

And the next time he tried to dive down, we had a bit of an Earth To Francis moment with the leverage. Which he did not like. So he cantered like a normal horse in a straight line. And then tried again. Earth To Francis. Rinse. Repeat. Multiple times in each direction.


Eventually he realized that the pressure only hit when he was acting the fool, so he stopped acting the fool. We did a few little courses to confirm that we had a balanced, thinking horse under us, then called it a day.

And I promptly went out and ordered my own gag converter.

I will say, I actually liked the feeling of the gag more than the three-ring we tried before. Especially with the double reins, it was easy to engage when I needed a little extra lightness in the front end, and chuck away when we were doing fine- by our last mini-course, I didn’t need to engage it at all. I plan on using the converter for a while, then potentially getting a regular gag bit to try out. We shall see.

The countdown is on for WEC! 43(ish) days until Frankie and I head west for a few weeks.

Coming up soon: telling you all about my AMAZING Secret Santa gift, some product reviews of things that are making my winter hibernation more bearable, and continued ramblings from yours truly.

See, we can be cute


20 thoughts on “Earth to Francis

  1. Amanda C 01/05/2018 / 10:10 am

    Gosh, you’re such a meanie. Sir Francis was just trying to live his best dolphin life. Henry (or Henree-eee-eeee-eeee as I call him on cold days as he’s crowhopping from one end of the field to the other with his head between his knees) can certainly identify.


    • hellomylivia 01/05/2018 / 10:58 am

      Frankie will now be going by Frankeeeee-ee-eeee-ee, a la Henny.


      • Amanda C 01/05/2018 / 11:02 am

        Very high pitched, obviously. Gotta get it right.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Rachel - For Want of a Horse 01/05/2018 / 3:24 pm

    Uhhh this cold can be done already! Winifred has been NUTS. For some reason the cold makes everything scary. we have been doing the opposite of Francis and he has been inverting, hollowing out his back, jumping sideways, and taking off. At least I have Luther who is enjoying his winter of bareback. Lol


  3. diaryofahunterprincess 01/05/2018 / 7:44 pm

    Sometimes a little reminder goes a long way. I’m bad and let Libby play sometimes. It’s mostly when she jumps the crap out of something and she’ll celebrate (or porpoise) afterwards. I think it’s funny and laugh most of the time when she does it, but I definitely have to nip it in the bud if we’re ever to show anything about 3’


    • hellomylivia 01/10/2018 / 8:57 am

      Haha you’re definitely braver than I am- the first HINT of anything resembling that I am like NOPE NOPE NOPE NO THANK YOU. Luckily it’s a very very rare occurrence, cause we don’t got no time for that!


  4. carey 01/08/2018 / 1:52 pm

    I feel the exact same way when Mo-mo kicks out at my leg or crop, not dangerous, just entirely unenjoyable and yucky. And ANNOYING. Get it out of your system boys and be professional.

    Mo still tries it almost every ride…just to be sure who is in control of this merry-go-round.


  5. HunkyHanoverian 01/08/2018 / 5:01 pm

    I have never seen a gag converter and am muy intrigued! I plan to show this to my trainer (not for Rio, but for some of her horses). So glad it reminded Frankie to keep his brain in his skull!


    • hellomylivia 01/10/2018 / 8:59 am

      I absolutely loved it! It was definitely helpful to get him to stop porpoising, but I also plan on playing with it pretty regularly since it felt like just the right touch of “oomph”


  6. Stacie Seidman 01/08/2018 / 9:22 pm

    What?! Francis is a normal horse? No…. Clearly someone put the wrong bay horse in Frankie’s stall.
    I haven’t ever seen this gag converter. Might be a useful tool for Jampy! Andddd off I go to buy things I don’t need.


    • hellomylivia 01/10/2018 / 9:01 am

      I know, I was more surprised than anything! Who are you and what have you done with my horse?! Luckily he’s gone back to his regular self since it’s warmed up and he’s gotten turnout.
      Let me know what you think if you end up trying it! I’m usually more minimalistic when it comes to tack, but I love that you can engage it as much or as little as you need.


  7. Nicole 01/09/2018 / 2:44 pm

    My usually Steady Eddie got excited in our lesson last night. We had drug some old Christmas trees into the ring and were jumping those for our warm-up. I guess Mr. Bay decided that we were doing cross country inside and got pretty strong and then objected to me asking him to stop by throwing in a few sassy bucks. Happened twice and I was not a fan. I always worry when that kind of stuff happens that it might be pain related, but I think this time it was just pure exuberance.


    • hellomylivia 01/10/2018 / 9:02 am

      My first thought was pain too- especially when it’s so uncharacteristic. But I know for Frankie, it was definitely lack of turnout due to the weather. Homeboy needs his play time to stretch out (and stop pulling shenanigans on his mother!)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s