Date written: 30.11.2016
19-20. November we went to another show, this time the first leg of the "winter cup". We left Santo at home once again- he's fit and ready for action but I haven't had the opportunity to jump him much, but he'll tag along again very soon! It was a 2 day show, where Cara and I were signed up for the 1.10m and 1.20m both days.
On saturday it was very cold and rainy, but the weather improved throughout the day which was nice as we warmed up outside. Cara felt really good, energic but positive like always. In the 1.10m we had a very good round which I was satisfied with, although I did a silly mistake and asked for a stride that was out of reach so we had one down, but overally I had a good feeling! In the 1.20m we had an okay round. I didn't quite ride like I should, but despite that Cara jumped like the queen she is. Most of the round was fine, but we had a unlucky pole down. After all I was happy with the day and how it went, I could've done my job a little better but I had a good feeling and she jumped well! My friend Hanne kindly came over and took some wonderful photos of us (see more at her website www.hannewphotography.com!
On Sunday we came there early and watched some classes before I tacked up and warmed up. Cara felt calmer and more relaxed which is always a good thing. In the 1.10m she jumped very well and I rode much better than the day before. We had a double clear and finished as first unplaced just 0.7 seconds behind 2nd place! Next up came the 1.20m where we had our best round and result to day- it was Cara's 6th 1.20m class and in the other ones we've had 4-8 faults each time. But now we got a lovely and quick double clear and went straight up in the lead until we were beaten with a few seconds by the last rider. That resulted in us getting 2nd place in a very strong field and I was so proud and happy with my little wonder pony!
I vlogged through the weekend and included all of the raws, you can watch the vlog here:
November 17th (my birthday) also included my 1 year anniversairy with Santo, so I made a video where I talked about my time with him and included some (embarrasing..) clips from when I first got him:
Otherwise in November we had some colder days (which is a good thing for us as it means I can ride in the fields!) which I also vlogged from:
I also got a new sponsor, BCP hooves which is a spanish company producing a high quality (fully vegan/natural) hoof oil (a solid one, not an oily/grease type). It comes in a can/box with info on and even your name on! I'm very happy with the product and have used it throughout November, my horses feet are looking fab and you need very little of the oil to cover their hooves. They ship internationally and the product can be bought through http://bcphooves.com
Date written: 11.11.2016
I can't wrap my mind around what it is with Cara and I, but now I truly believe in the words "meant to be" and the meaning of a once in a lifetime horse. Everything happened by coincidence. I don't know how to explain the progress we've had in just 6 months and our partnership. I don't believe that I'm a great rider or that my skills alone changed her, I believe that our mutual understanding and teamwork made the biggest difference. I could only dream of coming this far with a totally green and very difficult horse in such a short time. I always believed in her, but I didn't think it would come this fast. I've never met a more special horse, but I've never met one with such a fighting spirit and lionheart either. Thank you Cara for 6 amazing months, for giving me the joy and pleasure of growing with you.
From a unrideable, malnourished and very hot headed 90cm jumper to a controlled and fantastic 1.20m jumper in 6 months..
It feels a decade and it feels like yesterday that we bought Cara, 11th of May 2016. The full story of how I got her haven't really been disclosed before, so here we go:
I was looking for a second/project horse in addition to Santo. With a very limited budget I expected to get a young/very green horse and mainly looked at thoroughbreds off the track and unbroken horses. One day a warmblood popped up among the ads, and I instantly fell in love with the 7yo very hot headed but talented swedish warmblood mare. Due to her being very special, difficult and rather inexperienced. I talked to her owners and really wanted her, but made an offer lower than her listed price. As they had people coming to see her it was put on hold and I basically thought she'd be sold to someone else until they contacted me one day saying I could have her for the offer I made and that they could ship her off within the next week.
Safe to say I took a shot in the dark with buying her unseen, I had just seen a few videos of her where she looked very hot and stressed and her results from shows where she had done about 13 shows through the years, mostly 90 and 1m classes + about 4 1.10m classes with tons of faults, retired or eliminated. When I disclosed online that I was buying her I literally got a bunch of messages (mostly anonymously, from people who knew/had seen her in real life) telling me good luck with buying a crazy, unrideable and psychologically damaged horse. I had seen the videos, her results and talked to the owners, knowing that she was difficult, troubled and inexperienced, but I felt there was something about her from the moment I saw her ad for the first time.
Late at night 10th of May, she arrived on a public transport from the east coast to the west coast where I live. A small, stressed and very skinny/malnourished horse walked off the lorry, and we spent about 2 hours loading her on to our trailer where all of us almost got kicked in the head a few times lol. We got her home, and she was still stressed but started settling down a bit when we left her. Early in the morning the next day we went up, where I had my first proper day with her. She was extremely stressed, reared in the crossties before I sat up on her for the first time. Under saddle I enjoyed her from the first moment- I had very little control as she leaped around like a gazelle with her head in the air, unwilling to do anything but galloping. As I posted the video "meet my new horse" to youtube the hate comments kept coming- "she must be in pain, she's not healthy, she shouldn't be ridden, why did I buy a crazy horse and how did I plan to get this horse to work out"?
Especially her extreme lack of weight and muscle worried me and a lot of other people, and we kept feeding her high fat food and fresh grass/hay.
Despite it all we clicked from the start and I really saw and felt a huge potential in her. The next few days I rode her on the flat, where she reared and jumped/leaped out of the road, into ditches, refused to go forward, spun around and bolted, banged her head in mine and hopped up in the air every time I tried to half halt or slow her down. I didn't get most of this on video, but I remember that I enjoyed the challenges she gave me from the start. From one crazy thing to another, after a few days of owning her and never jumping her we headed off to our first show. Why? I'm not really sure.
The warmup was quite chaotic, she reared out of the arena a few times and we almost crashed into people as she took off, but her jumping was fabolous once I got her to the fence. In the arena of our 90cm class she wanted to bolt out the gate again but I kept her going, and with a bit of a messy and chaotic round we had a double clear and got 5th place!
I got many judging looks and comments, she didn't look very good, she wasn't rideable, focused or cooperative but when I managed to point her to the fence she jumped super. We kept working at home and every day she had a new game going, rearing, spinning around, leaping, bolting in different settings. Transitions were basically impossible and she refused to walk without leaping and hopping. In other words, most people critting us/her were quite right, but I enjoyed working with her and after a short while we started working more like a team and she improved step by step.
Like her level of experience we started out showing in 90cm classes. Lots of rushing, leaping and a very hot horse- not very nice or stylish rounds but we placed in basically every show from the start. I didn't have the possibility to ride her in an arena or take jumping lessons, so after one show and one lesson with her (the only times I rode her in an arena, the rest were at home on bridlepaths and trails) we kept going. I enjoyed every second of riding her and let her be herself from the start. I didn't try to force her to be collected or calm or to work against her, I rode her on her own terms which is what I believe caused the biggest change of them all. I didn't go in with being bossy and demanding, I met her halfway and we worked like a team.
Many people thought the horse herself were pure madness where she jumped around in the warmup, rearing out of the ring a few times and going around more like a racehorse than a jumper in addition to her poor body condition. People expected and watched her as a 90-1m horse because how could she possibly go through a bigger course when she was unfocused and jumped flat because of her high speed.
But she improved week by week, and it didn't take long before we really trusted eachother and it was clear that she was comfortable with me as her rider and enjoyed the way I handled and rode her without trying to force her into a system she didn't fit in. She gained weight, muscle, I gained trust and control. The double clears kept coming in the 1m classes, usually with a top 3 placing too. I took her in her 5th 1.10m class in the start of June, where she jumped amazingly and got her first double clear at that height!
Our 6th show was a international show, where we did our third 1.10m class with a double clear and placed 3rd out of 48! She still pulled towards the gate and reared/leaped a lot, but she really fought for me on course and we worked more and more like a team every day. The day after we did her first ever 1.15m class with one circle as she started rearing and one fence down. I was still in shock regarding how she had changed completely after I got her, like a flower that blossomed.
In July I took her and Santo for a 1 month bootcamp (read about it here) this was my second time riding her for a trainer, and the first time we had an arena. At this point she had already improved a ton and gained a lot of weight and muscle, but with a good reason all of the new people reacted to her behaviour and condition. She had been extra difficult on the flat (whenever we didn't jump) ever since I got her as she was unfocused, tense and very hot headed, but this came to show more when we started properly work her in an arena. The first lessons were difficult, she acted up a lot and was very unwilling. We very frequently had to take a distance from the others during lessons because she would just zone out completely, and during the first lessons the trainer had to take a step back and told me that working with a horse like this was very difficult both as a trainer and rider, and again understandably enough, not a horse she would've bought for any of her students.
But we started working on it, and with some great tips, exercises and lots of work with the trainer our progress rocketed. We did a lot of pole and small jump exercises which was a very difficult progress and more like sitting on a bouncing ball and a plane ready for takeoff than a horse! But day after day both her flatwork and jumping improved, and seeing and feeling the progress felt amazing. This month did wonders for Cara- a trainer that thought outside of the box and like me, didn't try to change her too much. She really started to work like a "proper horse" and she strated THINKING, not only running and leaping. We had a lot of "bad moments" and moments where we didn't quite know what to do when she leaped up every stride, reared out of the arena and refused to walk/trot and do transitions.
At the end of the month she was like a completely different horse. The trainer said she'll probably never go or be able to be ridden like a "normal horse" because she is extremely special, but she was very shocked and happy with the progress she made, and I felt the same way. A thinking horse, focused, with a rounder jump.
After our wonder month, we did our first show back in the middle of August. Cara's second 1.15m class with one down, and then her first ever 1.20m class the day after with 2 down the first round and 1 down the second round. We kept doing 1.20m classes and you can read/see videos from all of our August shows here and the potential I knew she had all the time came to show. During September (read the full post here) and October (read the full post here) we trained at home without an arena and had no lessons, but kept going to shows doing the 1.15m and 1.20m classes. I think everyone was shocked and I've gotten countless comments from people at shows about how different and great she's become.
When I look back I'm just at a loss for words. At this time her condition have improved so much- muscle, fat and a happy horse. At this moment in time she's working in a low, relaxed frame listening very carefully to my cues. She's doing great walk-trot transitions and she's actually walking!! Without leaping and being super stressed. While jumping she's focused, relaxed and listening. In all handling and outside of riding she's extremely trusting, calm and the sweetest little horse. She is the complete opposit of what she was 6 months ago, in ever way.
11. May - 11. November
Placing internationally, doing well in the regional championship, placing in the upper half in most of our classes, winning 1.15m and being competitive at 1.20m level.
Thank you for being my once in a lifetime horse.
I would also like to state that I do by no means blame or want to criticise her previous owners. They told me everything about her issues and behaviour and did a good job with her, and I know by previous experience after all of the horses that absolutely haven't worked out with me that some horses and riders just don't click like they should, due to no fault of either the horse or the rider.