Higher Heights, Higher Responsibility

As mentioned last week, Frankie is hopping on the bodywork train this year! I’m so so excited to see how he likes it- he absolutely THRIVES on human touch/grooming/interaction, so the combination of touch plus actual help with his muscles should be his heaven. I’m actually considering taking time off of work so I can be there for his first session to watch.

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Don’t just stand there lady, gimme scritches!

I was talking to someone about the care I provide for Frankie, and how it’s changed since I got him in the spring of 2016.

In that first year, the biggest we jumped was about 1m/3’3″. We weren’t too worried about the nuances- we were just getting used to each other and learning how to navigate the jumper ring. That height was not difficult for him, and while he certainly gained muscle throughout the season, there wasn’t a concerted effort. There didn’t need to be.

For care, he received lots of turnout, a regular exercise routine, high quality feed, and routine vet/farrier care.

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Not a ton of effort needed at 1m for the Big Man

In the second year, we started raising the jumps up and adding more shows to the schedule. We started asking for inside turns. We added training rides to the rotation and had a concerted conditioning program. He had to learn how to use his body better as the jumps got taller and wider. We ended the season at 1.15m, going for all inside turns.

For care, he received all of the above plus a hoof supplement, special shoes, joint supplement, and SI injection.

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More effort needed over the bigger sticks

As we move into this third year(!), the jumps are going to keep getting taller and wider as we dabble in the bigger tracks. The turns will get tighter and the questions on course will get harder. We will still have training rides and will be managing his fitness even more closely. There will be several multi-week shows on the calendar.

So with that increased demand on his body, we need to increase our care. He’ll be getting everything mentioned above plus regular body work (massage and/or chiro as necessary), and we’ll be working closely with my vet to see what preventative maintenance would be most effective- he’ll get whatever he needs in that area.

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Francis has also put in a request for moar naps

My trainer says that we can only take as much feel on the mouth as we can back up with leg, and I feel like that concept applies here- we can only demand so much of him physically as we are able to support. The more we ask of him, the more support we must provide.

I would much much much rather invest in his care now and keep him safe. I don’t want to be in the situation where we’ve pushed too hard and have to rehab him back. It simply isn’t fair to him and to all the effort he puts in! He can’t tell me when he’s unhappy, so I consider it my biggest responsibility as his owner to do everything in my power to keep him comfortable in his job.

Selfishly, keeping him comfortable in his job also means I get to enjoy riding my favorite Beast, so it’s a win-win situation! I know I gush about him on the regular, but I can’t stop. We’ve grown so much together and he’s my absolute dream horse. I could’ve never imagined having a horse like Frankie to call my own. UGH FEELINGS. Seriously guys- come visit us so you can meet him. You’ll fall in love too.

Brb I gotta go book my horse a massage and cry about how much I love him. Like a normal human.

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You’re an angel I’d do anything for you
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Big Plans, People

And I’m not talking about Culpeper Finals (which will also be big and I’m so excited for as a wrap-up to our first show season together).

We’re talking about what’s next. As in, post show season.

A NEW FREAKIN’ SHOW SEASON IS WHAT.

Nah seriously though the new season may start on December 1, but Mama’s gotta eat so no shows this winter. We are officially on show hiatus after Culpeper Finals until the spring. But that doesn’t mean we can’t plan!

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I have no relevant media so enjoy these screenshots from my last lesson where Trainer had me jump without stirrups. And Frankie said MAHM TINY STEPS ARE HARD Y U DO DIS DO NOT WANT

Starting in October I’ll be taking private lessons. I learn SO SO SO much from my group lessons and getting to watch other talented riders is great, but Trainer and I think that 1-on-1 attention for a full hour is going to be some next level stuff. I’ll likely be adding another (group) lesson to the rotation also, so I’ll have two lessons a week- one group and one private.

The reasoning for this is that I’m not showing for several months, and then plan to step in the ring at a new height in the spring. With my budget I don’t have the luxury of several “getย  back into it” shows, so we gotta be ready for our division when we arrive on the showgrounds in the spring. I’m gonna be working my tail off to make sure we not only don’t backtrack over the winter, but that we progress and the move-up is a no-brainer.

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LOL so glad my muscles survived the two week break and I was able to not look like Quasimodo PSYCH THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT DIDN’T HAPPEN

We’re also gonna start talking maintenance with the vet come spring. Frankie is a superbly healthy horse with very low miles, and I want to KEEP HIM HEALTHY. Now that he’s living the horse-show lifestyle with much more regular jumping, I don’t want to wait to address any problems that may arise. We’re gonna be proactive about his joint health- luckily I have a FANTASTIC vet who loves to talk shop and is big on the proactive vs. reactive side of veterinary care. He actually keeps his horse at my barn so I can bug him with questions all winter.

And then looking ahead to the actual show season. Do you remember back in May when I set some goals? And my pie-in-the-sky goal was to qualify for Zone 3 USHJA Adult Amateur Jumper Championships at some point eventually? Well yeah. We’re gonna go for it. Trainer and I are sitting down in the next few weeks to plan out my show schedule to maximize chances of qualifying. It may happen, it may not, but Frankie and I are gonna work our butts off to make it there. We had a kid do the Children’s Jumper version of it this year and she said it was SUPER fun (and that the ammy teams all brought wine, so I’m sold).

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OK we do have cute moments though. Also note to Francis- THIS IS WHY WE DO TEENY STEPS. YOU JUMP LESS LIKE A DRUNK ALPACA WHEN WE DO TEENY STEPS.

So there you have it! It feels like we’re transitioning from “riders who compete” to “Competitors” with a capital C. Francis and I are having a blast!

PS- THE STUPID LIVERPOOL WASN’T IN THE RING FOR MY LESSON. Ugh. I swear I’m gonna make sure they drag it back in there soon so I can jump it. It needs to happen. I have grabby hands. I want.

PPS- Trainer said that she could really use 5 of Franklin. Cue the warm fuzzy proud Mama moment. He’s such a wonderful unicorn, I still can’t believe I have my dream horse.