South Not North

In the usual way of things, we have a change of plans for our summer show schedule!

Instead of heading north to Michigan to enjoy GLEF for two weeks, we’re instead heading down to Tryon for a week. My trainer called recently to ask if I was dead-set on Michigan, and I believe my words were: “I literally don’t care where we end up as long as I get to show.”

I’m a high maintenance client in most ways, but I am supremely not picky about where I get to hop over colorful sticks for exorbitant amounts of money.

It might not look like a smile, but I remember being pretty dang happy

While GLEF is staying on my bucket list, I’m super majorly excited to head down to Tryon! You may remember that we almost made the trip down a couple years ago (holy crap it was already five years ago), so I’m super super excited to finally get there. I’m especially excited that my husband was able to take some time off work for us to turn it into a little family vacation. The super-cute AirBnB is booked and we’re excited to make the trip! The house I picked has a fenced in yard and is pet friendly, but I’m not convinced we should be subjecting our polar bear to July in North Carolina. She’ll likely stay up north, either at Grandma and Grandpa’s air conditioned house, or at her own air-conditioned home with a house sitter.

Yes, she sleeps like this every day. Yes, she snores. Yes, my coworkers can hear her when we’re in meetings.

I’m feeling really good about being ready to go show. We’ve slowly started putting a few jumps up and it’s going well – I definitely have to grab mane and cling on when I ask for shorter turns and Frankie delivers, but he’s smart enough to stay under me. He’s on schedule to get his usual injections this week, we’ll likely sign up for a massage after Loudoun, and the combo of training rides and fitness center visits is fantastic for his overall feeling under saddle. In short: he feels absolutely lovely, and is just as fun as ever. I simply adore him.

Muscle Man!

Right now I’m riding him in his snaffle since I don’t quite trust my balance with the leverage of the elevator I like him best in. It’s not the end of the world if we stick with this, but I’m hoping to get strong and balanced enough to get back in the elevator for the show ring since he does get a bit know-it-all-ish when he hears the buzzer go off. To be fair, he does know quite a bit. We’ll play it by ear; he’s also a lot more broke and smart than the last time we showed in a snaffle, so I’m not overly concerned about it – we’ve shown at a lot higher height, with way fewer miles under our belt, and it was fine.

In a snaffle. Totally survived. It went fine.

We’re excited to be heading into our summer show season, and will keep you all updated!!

Grabbing Mane

With several lessons under our belt, I’m excited that things are (slowly) starting to come back together for us.

The good news is that the muscle memory is definitely there, and emerges more and more with every ride. The not so good news is that I often don’t have the strength or stamina to enact said muscle memory. But we’re tackling things methodically and it’s getting better every time I get in the saddle.

All I wanted for Mother’s Day was to ride, and I got my wish ❤

Both trainers have been really great about balancing my lack of fitness while still knocking the rust off by focusing on tightening up my position and giving straightforward exercises. I’ve been able to tackle some basic bending lines, some fun serpentines, we’re slowly starting to put the jumps back up, and I’ve been grinning ear to ear the whole time. Thankfully the height is the easiest part of things, since Francisco has a very easy jump to stay with. I’m eager to get less potato-ish so we can start putting the pieces together with technical + height – my eye is still basically there (as much as it ever was, which is not great but at least it’s something) and I like riding on a more open step to a little height.

I mean I don’t look the best I ever have, but I also don’t look the worst. I’ll take that as a win.

One thing I’m particularly grateful for is how fit Frankie is. He came out of the winter having gained a little weight, which I see as a win as he enters his mid-late teens. I’d much rather have him pack on a few pounds than lose any in the cold weather. He feels powerful, forward, eager to do his job, and with his usual good nature he is being very patient and careful with me (literally during one of the serpentine exercises he changed direction to stay under me when I wobbled around a turn. The horse is a saint.). All of the work over the past 6 years has really changed him – it’s crazy how correct muscling has literally made his conformation look different (better).

Frequent naps are the cornerstone of his fitness program

His fitness is fantastic for me as I get back to it. It means he has his own motor so I can focus on a supportive still leg rather than constantly squeezing (the OGs from 2016-2017 know how much pony kicking we used to do), it means he’s very comfortable and powerful enough to jump from a variety of spots when I don’t adjust as quickly as I should, it means he’s happy to collect and add the stride when it’s clear I have no idea what I’m doing. He’s so well educated that he’s easily tattling on me when I ask for something versus when I do nothing. He really came out of his lease even better than he went into it.

As I mentioned previously, I’m currently a bit of a weekend warrior (plus one weekday), so obviously I’m not able to keep up this fitness level on my own. I also very very much want to keep up this fitness level, both for the help it gives me and for the obvious reason that Frankie is healthier for it. The core of this remain his 2x a week pro rides that he’s been getting for years. The trainer I ride with on Mondays now is actually the person who has been giving him these rides for roughly 2-2.5 years now, and it definitely helps our lessons that she knows him so well. She’s the one who installed a really nice trot jump on him and has very patiently focused on correct, adjustable, educated work. She has also said that he’s the only horse that would tempt her to try the jumpers and that he’s good as gold, so clearly she has great taste.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we’ve also added weekly trips to the Equine Fitness Center for the Frankfurter to get his sweat on! I’m really eager to see how this helps with his fitness, his muscling, and overall way of going. It’s under the supervision of our usual vet who has been fantastic for us, and I’m hoping it’s a solid complement to our regimen of training, preventative maintenance, and conditioning. He’s been twice now, and got the following report card the first time:

I have never used a chain on him in 6 years of ownership WHY NOW FRANCOIS

Scary equipment he’s never seen? No problem, walk right on. A wash stall, the same as any wash stall he’s been in a HUNDRED times? NOPE NOPE NOPE. Chilling in a nice paddock with hay and water within sight of his buddies? NO WAY NO WAY. Apparently on his second visit they just had him go first so he always had a buddy within sight and he was fine. Why is every person and animal in my family so extroverted that it becomes a problem for other people.

Cute gym boi

It really is a full time gig trying to ensure that this horse becomes immortal. Worth it.

Overall, I’m beyond thrilled with how things are going. I love this big smelly beast with my whole heart, and getting to bop around with him makes me so so so happy. I’m excited to get off property and do some competing this summer!

Hairy beasts ❤