Pleasurific Pony

I’ve been toodling lately. Between moving, travel, wedding planning, a busy season at work, and showing a lot lately, I’m a bit fried both mentally and physically. 3 shows in two months may not be a lot to some people, but I’m just not used to it! So for a little bit, I’m taking a step back from hard training to just enjoy my sweet pony.

And part of that enjoyment is sharing him!

I’ve often mentioned my fav Talented Junior Rider(TM) that hops on Frankie for me when I can’t be there, and she’s been taking some rides on him while I’ve been traveling and getting situated in the new place. She seems to enjoy hopping on him, and I know Frankie absolutely ADORES her! Seriously, he will follow her to the ends of the earth, homeboy loves himself some Devyn. She’s a very solid and hard-working young horsewoman and strikes an excellent balance of making him work while also loving on him. Bonus- she and her mom also clean my tack really well after she uses it 😉

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He falls asleep on the crossties with her, he’s pretty sure this is what heaven is like.

Her mom Kristen is also my barn bestie! That whole family actually is my adopted barn family. They even helped Nick plan his proposal, and were there to take pictures and share the moment. We do Friday barn happy hours, take turns bringing wine, and generally I just adore the whole fam because they are wonderful and supportive and snarky and hilarious and the best.

 

She also takes 90% of the pics I use here- if it’s adorable, it’s probably from Kristen.

Kristen has hopped on Frankie once or twice- she is a dedicated Pony Mom, but is a lovely horsewoman in her own right- and I’m always encouraging her to hop on more. There’s nothing better than seeing Frankie bop around with my friends! So when we saw that there was a nearby local show coming up, it was quickly decided that Kristen would go take Frankie in the pleasure division to play around, for her first show in 6+ years. Trainer was enthusiastically on board.

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Hahahaha I got the stink face for standing at the rail and yelling YOU’RE DOING GREAT SWEETHEART. I was the embarassing Pony Mom.

These were Frankie’s first flat classes, believe it or not! And as expected, he was just an angel doll.

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LOOK AT MY SWEET BOY BEING SO WONDERFUL I MUST FILM EVERYTHING OMG

It was funny- he was visibly confused at the lack of jumps, and kept helpfully pulling Kristen towards them like “OK lady we had our warmup now I know my job is jumpies.” Gotta love that helpful spirit of his.

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IT’S RIGHT THERE I SEE IT LET’S GO JUMP IT

I hopped on him between classes to work him down a bit, and yes we were all laughing that Frankie needed some “prep.” Homeboy has spent the last two years getting educated to the contact and learning how to fire up, and all of a sudden he had a loopy rein and was supposed to just bop around.

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Happiest boppiest pony on the planet!

I swear, he thought he died and went to heaven. AT was joking that now Frankie really REALLY wants a Mommy Ammy to drink mimosas off his back and toodle with forever. He got a little taste of what his retirement with me will look like down the line, and now he’s pretty pumped about it. Sorry bud, you’re too athletic for me to retire you just yet. You’ve got some more work to do.

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We all brought wine and beer and mimosas, and my job as helper was to hand them out as everyone exited the ring. Pretty sure we had more alcohol than we had people. I LOVE our mom crew.
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These ladies had been out of the show ring for years, and they all went in and rocked it with great ribbons!!! Frankie and his buddy Vinnie (on the right) both do the High Adults and 1.20m jumpers, and they both went in and were such sweet beans in the pleasure and low hunter classes. My heart.

Seriously, what an absolute unicorn- he was doing the 1.15m jumpers all fiery and fancy in a national show up at Lake Placid, and two weeks later he was happily taking a re-rider around some flat classes at a local show.

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Those ears never did anything but this. HE’S JUST SO HAPPY AND ADORABLE.

I’m so grateful to have a horse that I can share with my friends like this! It brings me such great joy to see him so happily take on different jobs and try new things. He’s kinda like a jack of all trades and master of all of them. Because he is a WonderPony.

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There is nothing more exhausting than a local show with 37 entries in the 2′ low hunters and a gatekeeper who has never done this before.

Between moving Nick in to our third-floor walkup on Saturday and getting up at 5:30a to go to this show on Sunday, I am EXHAUSTED. Time to toodle some more with the world’s best pony ’til I can get some energy back.

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Who Can Ride My Horse?

I mean I’m pretty sure literally anyone CAN ride Frankie. He’s not a tough ride. So maybe a more appropriate title is: who MAY ride my horse? This is a much shorter list.

And it’s a list that has evolved over time, and changes based on a couple different factors.

Last year, I would put Frankie in the lesson program when I was out of town and have one of the other ammy riders hop on.This was sufficient to meet my criteria of 1) keeping Frankie working and 2) not ruining my horse.

Earlier in the winter, I was a bit more relaxed about this as well- I had one of our juniors hack Frankie for me when I was home for the holidays and she did a great job with him! He was, of course, a gentleman for her and she enjoyed riding him.

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Literally this horse will put up with anything

I have always taken great joy in having literally anyone briefly flat him around. I’m always trying to get people’s parents up on him for pony rides, and will swap horses with the barn kids for a few laps around. I know Francis will be chill about it, and I know a few laps  won’t undo any training. It warms my heart to see my sweet boy taking care of the novices.

I’m also OK with some of the stronger barn kids doing a bit more with him under my trainer’s supervision- I trust her judgement about what they can do with him, and I know her first priority with him is keeping him show-ready.

But for pretty much any situation besides a short hack, my list of people I want on my horse narrows dramatically- especially during show season.

My basic rule of thumb during this show season is: I only want people on Frankie that are better riders than me (other than myself, obviously). I only want people adding to his training, because I certainly undo enough of it myself. This means that my first choice is to pay for a pro to hop on if I’m not available to ride (and even sometimes when I am available to ride).

Because this year we’re asking for a more extended season (starting earlier, showing more) and we’re asking for more intense work (bigger jumps, more classes). He’s certainly athletic enough for the move up, but he does actually have to work harder now and I want to do everything in my power to prepare him for his job. That means increased fitness and sharper tools in our toolbox- with the emphasis on that “sharper” part.

It has absolutely nothing to do with the ability to ride Frankie safely. In case you couldn’t tell from the EVERYTHING I’VE EVER SAID, Frankie is a supremely chill easy ride. His favorite gait is the halt and he will bop around on the buckle for the rest of his life if you let him. But that last part is exactly why I’m so picky about who hops on him: we don’t want him bopping around on the buckle. We want him connected, on the bit, pushing across the ground, firing on all cylinders. Which he is also quite happy to do (more and more), but only if we reinforce that way of going with consistency.

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We love stretchy trot, but sometimes he has to pick his nose up so he can see the jumps

I’ll relax a bit about this after our show season slows down in the fall. Heck, I’m planning on taking him in some local pleasure classes for a nice change of pace. And if anyone at the barn is in need of a safe mount with some fun buttons, we’ll leg them right up for a ride.

They’ll just have to deal with my controlling-mother tendencies for a few more months.

How do you decide who can hop on your horse?