March 2016

Date written: 27.03.2016

The hopeless horse

I got Mac as a very green 5yo. He was broken and ridden for 6 months and had previously been abused. He was scared of people, being touched, and super nervous under saddle. He was extremely heard bound and would rear a ton whenever he had to go away from the other horses, but also out of exitement when jumping or when he didn't want to work.

He was terrified of everything, me, my mom, being ridden, jumps, he was spooky and very nervous. After a year of hard work, he was the perfect pony. This is our story.

I remember the first time I rode him. Getting on him took about 20 minutes, and he was so tense and nervous under saddle. He stopped on the poles on the ground, and spooked and bolted a dusin of times. But still, there was something about that terrified but beautiful little pony. He had such kind eyes, and showed a lot of potential, so I decided to buy him.

I remember when I announced it to my friends and on social media, and people kept telling me why I would buy another project horse, not yet another hopeless case, why I didn't get a problem free horse?

Well the thing is, firstly I could not afford a problem free horse, and secondly I've always had a passion for working with those "hopeless" horses, because they are very rarely hopeless, just misunderstood.

I kept Mac at my house with my other pony Chubby, and from day 1 I spent half an hour to get his shipping boots off because he was terrified of his legs, and then his prev owners told me I had to keep his halter on and have him in a small paddock cause he was impossible to catch. I started working with him immediately. Horsemanship, bonding, trust exercises and it didn't take long before I could catch him even though he was scared.

After some time with bonding and trust building, I started to ride him at home. He was very nervous and green under saddle, and frequently bolted and spooked. It didn't take long before the rearing came either. He reared when he was scared, when he spooked, and every time I had to ride away from my other pony.

I dealed with the rearing- I didn't get it away, but I managed to deal with it. The next step was to start him over jumps. He refused to go over a little pole on the ground. He'd stop, rear and then eventually massively overjump it. But I trained on it often, to get him over small jumps and fillers without being scared.

After he was more schooled and started to be less green and understand more, we went to a few lessons to prepare him for his first ever shows. Mac jumped like a rocket when he got over his fear of fences, and riding him in the jumping arena was always fun. Though we had quite a few happenings also there- he'd rear, leap, run out, stop and take off.

In other words, Mac was everything but an easy horse. On the ground he was scared of people, scared of his legs, the saddle, wanted to run away when you mounted him, he spooked, reared and bolted. He freaked out going away from the other horses, he was very tense and terrified of just a pole on the ground. But I saw his potential and refused to stop trying, despite it being periods where he was completely unrideable and would flip around when rearing and refuse to move when you rode him.

But after countless hours, weeks and months of training, trust building and hard work, Mac turned into the fantastic pony I knew he was. A year after I got him, we went to his first ever shows and had great rounds in 80 and 90 cm (2'6 and 3ft) which is quite a good height for a green, young 1.38cm (13.2hh) pony! I sold Mac and my other pony Chubby when I went to college, and I still miss them frequently. But I am so very proud of how far we came- I hardly had a trainer, I had no facilities (arena) at home and I wasn't that experienced- but my courage and determination never ended around him, and in the end he turned out amazing.

Just another proof to never give up.

Date written: 21.03.2016

March - a training month

March is the 3rd month of the year. Where I live in Norway, it's usually filled with snow and disgusting weather. This march though, have been surprisingly nice. The only thing that's been missing, is shows!

Sadly the number of shows we've had in my district this year is only 3, one in January and one in February (which I rode at) and one in March which I sadly couldn't go to. I'm kind of okay with it though, as it allowed us more time to work at home and for Santo to gain some weight and muscle.

His condition have been an issue since he arrived, before I bought him he wasn't in work and when we transported him over 2 days from Germany to Norway he obviously lost the little fat and muscle he had. Also with me being sick and the weather being bad which didn't allow me to ride, made it worse. The past months he's been getting tons of food, and thankfully I've been able to work him 5-6 days a week since January which is great, and have really started to give results!

What we've been doing through february and march is basically to ride in the hills a lot- go up and down in walk, trot and canter is a real challenge and they really have to use their whole body when going up the steep hills. The other thing we've done is to go at the track, both for transitions and lateral work (dressage) and galloping for stamina. In between I've ridden him at the bridle paths, and bareback once a week for him to just relax and have a walk.

And what's so great to see, is that he have now the past week of March been absolutely amazing to ride on the flat at home, and to jump at lessons. He's getting stronger and more able to carry himself and work properly, and that obviously allows him to jump much better too.

In March so far we've had two lessons, one where we worked more on flatwork and trot poles/small fences, and one where we jumped a bigger course which was really nice as he jumped like a superstar! Here's the videos of the two lessons:

I'm glad we're starting to improve- both my health and Santo's condition. It's a bit frustrating and sad not being able to show, but I hope and believe that the effort we put in at home and the daily work I do will give results also in the show ring when we're back- which looks to be the first weekend of April when the outdoor season starts!

I finally also got a video from flatting Santo at the track march 20th, he was very happy, spooky and eager which you can see but also works beautifully when he's not spooking at stuff, so I'm very happy with that!