Q2 Goal Review

So it’s a little late, but better late than never, right?

Nell

  • Qualify for the Provincials at the Young Horse Performance Series.
    – Done! We needed two completions and we have three. So we finished last at two of them (and won the last one! … OK, so nobody else showed up), but who cares? We’re going. The logistics are going to be a bit fun, considering finals are on the same day as the Jacaranda Nooitie show, but at least we can cross this off our list.
  • Compete, graded, at the higher Novice tests.  I’m calling this done. We did Novice 4 and 5 graded and Novice 6 at YHPS, which is a similar standard. We’ll continue to compete higher Novice for the rest of the year to get our grading points (one down, four to go).
  • Go to a jumping training show at a low level. Eh, maybe after YHPS. We at least can jump now, but every time I do a jumping training show I find myself with a horsebox full of kids and ponies, so we’ll have to see.
  • School lower level Elementary successfully. We’ve done most of the movements, but I’m not crossing this off until we’ve done a couple of complete tests at home.
  • Compete in any available Nooitgedachter shows.  In the process of doing! We’ve done two out of the three annual Nooitie shows and are tentatively aiming for the third one – with YHPS finals being on the same day, it’s a bit complicated.

Arwen

  • Go double clear at EV7o – Still aiming for this one. We did go double clear at a stadium event, but that doesn’t quite count. Our next full horse trial in August will be at EV60 to build our confidence, then we’re back at EV70 if it goes well.
  • School Elementary Medium 1 and 2 – We’ve done some of the movements, but not the full tests just yet.
  • Compete Elementary –  Not yet. We have most of our grading points and have happily schooled the level, so it’s just a matter of getting out there.
  • Gallop through water –  Done! At a schooling, not a show, but we came down a bank, through the water and over a fence without breaking rhythm.

Magic

  • Finish getting back the topline muscle he lost when he was sick.
  • School Novice 4, 5, and 6. We’re so close to finishing Novice 6, too. None of our tests are awesome – we’d be very hard put to get 60% – but all I want is for him to benefit from the flatwork schooling, so just doing the moves as well as we can is fine by me.
  • Make 90cm our comfort zone at home.  – We were so close! In fact we were popping 90cm at home and now we’ve taken it back down a few notches. It’s no fault of my precious Magic’s; he could probably do like 1.20m right now with his eyes closed. However he needs his nervous saddle monkey and after our little tumble a few weeks ago, I’m not there yet. So the journey goes, and so God makes something more amazing through His plan than anything I planned for.
  • Show graded at 70cm.
  • Show at 80cm, graded or training. –  We were close to this one, too! We may still do it yet. Magic certainly can. We just need a few confidence-boosting rounds at 70cm first.

Exavior

  • Bathing. –  There’s been improvement, but we’ll finish this up properly in the summer when he won’t hate me for spraying ice water on him.
  • Loading.
  • Continued improvement on injections.  Yay! He is still by no means an easy critter to inject, but we’re progressing. He just had his AHS shot and when my helper and I caught him he smelt a rat and went ballistic, but after about five minutes of reassurance, he decided that he wasn’t going to be injected after all so he stood perfectly still and didn’t even notice when I slipped the needle in. It’s all in his empty little brain. We’ll see how he does with his next shot in three weeks.
  • Lunging over poles.
  • Introduction to small free jumps.
  • Backing.
  • Basic aids in walk. –  Ugh, I so want to get on this horse now! His groundwork is done apart from poles and jumps. I literally just have to throw a leg over him and teach him to whoa, go and turn. But with his still being entire, working him isn’t feasible at the yard right now. As soon as the colt is a gelding we’ll bring him back and I’ll probably be able to finish this in a few weeks.

Taking every second of this year as it comes, hand in hand with the King ❤

2016 Goals: Nell

Oh, Nell. It’s just kind of unfair to have a horse like Nell in your life.

AropNia-Nell3

You sit down to look at her goals and sort of go, “Well…” because this horse is schooling and showing higher level Novice, and she just turned five. For the record, in our country, that’s kind of on track for a top level prospect. It’s the level required of five-year-olds in our young horse performance series… so I entered it.

Honestly when I got the schedule I kind of regretted the idea (apparently big names also like young horse series, like WEG kind of big names) but hey, the mare can do the test – has done the test at shows multiple times – so why not? She will be one little grey Nooitie in a whole class of Friesians and Warmbloods, she’ll at least draw some attention to the breed.

Nell’s goals are also a little wobbly because she’s not mine. Her owner has every right to decide at the end of the year that she has done quite well enough, and then take her back and breed glorious little dressage Nooities. Still, if it’s his will (and God’s will) the judges who’ve seen the horse believe she could go to a pretty high level, so we’re going to work towards that. It might not happen… but if it does, we’ll be ready to go and do it.

Nell’s 2016 Goals

  • Qualify for the Provincials at the Young Horse Performance Series. All we need here is to complete at two of the three qualifiers. The tests will increase in difficulty within the Novice level as the series go on, but I’m not too worried about that – she’s already entered for Novice 4 and 5 at the Nooities’ dressage this weekend, so she can deal with it. IF she keeps her brain in her pretty head, she should be able to do this.
  • Compete, graded, at the higher Novice tests. Getting our points for Elementary would be ideal, but that’ll also depend on our show calendar for the year. I’d like to get at least a few points, so we have to score 55% or above.
  • Go to a jumping training show at a low level. Nell’s not just an awesome dressage diva – the little lady has a careful but confident jump, too. She’s no showjumper, but my ultimate jumping goal with her would be to do working hunter at next Horse of the Year, too. Because Nooities rock the versatility thing.
  • School lower level Elementary successfully. We have most of the required moves – they just need polishing. The 2017 goal would be to compete in Elementary, starting with the 6-year-old classes at YHPS.
  • Compete in any available Nooitgedachter shows. Nell needs some more mileage before she’s going to be a winning show horse under saddle, but she’s proven that she can kick butt in hand already.

Most of Nellie’s goals this year are going to be about reinforcing, polishing, and improving on training she already has. I’m taking off the pressure in terms of learning the higher level movements quickly, unless she gets bored or offers them; she’s learning very fast, and the last thing we want to do is cook this promising brain and body. If we’re careful about how we lay this foundation, it’ll stand us in good stead through the levels.

God willing. Always… God willing.

2016 Goals: Exavior

Exavior is one of my biggest learning curves at this point. It’s true – warmbloods are a different kettle of fish. I had always thought that they must be rather like large, glorified thoroughbreds, but there is definitely an extra element of power – and pushiness – with them. The sheer size factor is also something very new, with almost every other horse I work with standing under 15 hands and Exavior standing nearly 15.3 at the age of two.  But there’s no getting around the fact that there is something a little heart-stopping, a little breathtaking about that rippling power packaged in burnished chestnut. He can also be a little maddening because when he puts his mind to it he’s smart, talented, and infinitely trainable; the rest of the time he’s too busy goofing off to pay attention and merely plops around doing as he pleases.

This big baby did well on his goals last year, though:

Exavior’s 2015 Goals

  • Complete advanced halter training – Done. He will walk and trot politely, stand up square when asked, and lead from both sides without issues. Sometimes when going past mares he wants to jump up on his hindlegs, but this is improving and should improve exponentially when he’s no longer a colt. We put him to Magic Lady this spring and he was well-mannered enough that I could handle him for all the covers, so that’s quite a win – I never dared go near any of the other stallions I know at cover time.
  • Leading over, through and under scary things – Done. We’ve led under low roofs and branches, over logs and tarpaulins, and in narrow  passageways.
  • Leading away from his group – Done. He’s way more excited to go see the girls than stick with his paddock buddy, currently Magic.
  • Bathing – 75% done. You could probably bath him but it wouldn’t be pleasant. He’s cool with water being on his forequarters but can throw a tantrum about having a wet butt.
  • Desensitisation to noise and sight – Done. Plastic bags, tarps, whatever – he just deals.
  • Loading preparation – Done. Leading over a tarp, under a low roof, and in a narrow passage just fine.
  • Loading – Not done. We just didn’t get to this last year, but with his pressure/release understanding being good and the preparation work done, he should be quite easy to train.
  • Injections – Improved. He used to jump up immediately on seeing a vet or syringe, but now he just fusses. You still have to be careful and really, really quick but I’m seeing improvement with every shot.
  • Be gelded – Not yet. This whole winter the necessary bits refused to descend; that’s for next winter.
  • Lowering of the head when requested by pressure on the halter – Perfect. He’ll put his nose on the floor for me to take his bridle off, which is kind of awesome when you’re as short as I am.
  • Basic lunging with a halter and long line only – Done. He lunges really nicely in three gaits now, on voice commands.
  • Wearing a roller – Done. It took him a few tries but now he accepts it beautifully.
  • Lunging over poles – He has been introduced to poles, but not yet a proper series of them.
  • Wearing boots – Done. He didn’t bat an eye.
  • Preparation for clipping – Not done. Mostly because his owner is kind of broke and doesn’t have a pair of clippers around that can be destroyed during desensitisation of stupid young elephant-sized colts.

2016 Goals

  • Bathing. If you’re going to insist on being chestnut with four white stockings, you’re going to be good to bath. This is just going to be a matter of steady repetition, but we’ll get there.
  • Loading. I think this should be a pretty quick fix, but he needs to self-load. I’m not a fan of baby warmbloods jumping on their back legs when they don’t want to go in the box.
  • Continued improvement on injections. Again, this is just a matter of repetition without any bad experiences.
  • Lunging over poles. This is an important one for strengthening and developing the muscles in his butt and hindlegs, which will help to push his slight cow hocks straighter.
  • Introduction to small free jumps. The sooner he learns that he goes between the uprights every single time, the better. He’s too young for real jumping, so we’ll keep the fences small enough to just trot over.
  • Backing. He’s a baby so I’m in no hurry, but I’d rather get on him while he’s not quite the size of a monster truck yet. He is nearly there; he accepts the saddle and bridle, works correctly in side reins and long-lines fairly well. He allows me to put my foot in the stirrup, stand over him in one stirrup and lean over him without issues. He just needs to have his long-lining perfected and to carry the sandbags I use to desensitise the babies to weights and movement by their sides, and we’re golden.
  • Basic aids in walk. There’s no need to trot and canter around with me on him just yet, but he can learn a solid foundation of whoa, go and turn in a walk only.

This is stuff I normally try to achieve in about three months with client horses, so he’s got a slow year ahead of him, but it’s about what his baby brain can cope with right now. He will probably be turned away for several months throughout the year just to relax and grow up – in fact he has a month off ahead of him from next week.

He is my little miracle horse and God’s will has been so abundant in his life already. Glory to the King.

2016 Goals: Magic

More than any of the others, I’ve learned to make Magic’s goals flexible. Force isn’t an option with him, but he’s made so much progress nonetheless that just going with the flow seems to work for him. Nevertheless, we shall make a plan, if only so that we can do the exact opposite.

Magic’s 2015 Goals

Magic2

  • Improve fitness – Done. He gets and stays fit very easily, and has so much nervous energy anyway that he never tires out at shows.
  • Tie up – Done, well enough. Magic will never be the type you can tie to whatever and forget about, because forgetting about Magic is just a dumb idea, but he no longer habitually flies back. One can tie him and groom him and all will be OK as long as nothing terrifies him.
  • Load – Again, never going to be the type that just plods along in, but he loads in half a minute so no worries here.
  • School Novice – Done. We’ve trained up to Novice 3, snaffle and all, completing all the figures and transitions obediently and in good rhythm, frame and straightness.
  • Survive a hack – Well, we did this. But we’re not awfully likely to do this again. It’s just not something I need to deal with right now, and as a competing horse, hacking is a thing that should be done for relaxation and a change of scenery for the horse. For Magic, it’s a torture session. Not his thing.
  • Be confident at 80cm – Done! He skips over 80cm like nobody’s business.
  • Show graded at 70cm showjumping – Halfway done. He’s shown at 70-75cm in training shows five times now with all clear rounds, and he’s ready to go up. But his getting sick in September put the brakes on showing for the rest of the year, so we never registered for graded.

2016 Goals

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  • Finish getting back the topline muscle he lost when he was sick. His butt and back are good again, but his neck still needs to develop all over again.
  • School Novice 4, 5, and 6. He’s no dressage horse, but he needs these basics. Lateral work, counter canter, and medium canter can only help him.
  • Make 90cm our comfort zone at home. 80cm is now where we’re happy. We do 90cm from time to time, but it’s kind of pushing my nerves. He has miles and miles of scope and guts to spare at this height, so if we can just ease into jumping this by the end of the year, we can keep on going up and up.
  • Show graded at 70cm. We could do this really easily if he keeps his brain in his head at the next show. We’re doing another training show at 70cm this month, and if it goes well, we’ll sign up for graded.
  • Show at 80cm, graded or training. This will more than likely be graded, but if I’m not up to that pressure, I’m not going to sweat it. Height has never been an issue for Magic so we can cope with this just fine.

Lord, not what I will, but what Thou wilt.

 

2016 Goals: Arwen

I realise it’s kind of late to be setting goals, but they’ve been in my head for a while, so I may as well now put them down on paper. Screen. Whatever. I enjoy having a plan for the year with each horse, but God’s plan is sovereign – and He always knows best.

Arwen’s 2015 Goals

Arwen4

  • Get her fit – Done. She was easily fit enough for our last event.
  • Build her upper neck muscles – Done. Her muscle tone has never been this good, to the point where I asked the Mutterer what muscles need building up for the upcoming showing show and he replied in tones of deep disappointment, “Well, actually, none.”
  • School Elementary Medium successfully – Failure there, but our Elementary work is a lot more solid. Her schooling has improved, just not to EM level.
  • Introduce scary-looking jumps – Done. While we have been having really disappointing stops in competition, at home she’s jumping the spookiest things I can build without batting an eye.
  • Have her go through water more easily – Done. She didn’t stop at water all year.
  • Show graded in EV70 – Done. We showed in three, but only completed two.

2016 Goals

  • Go double clear at EV70. Face it – at this level, you win on your dressage score. Arwen’s dressage is very solid. We could do really well if we’d just stop incurring jumping penalties, especially stops on cross-country. This will take a whole lot of schooling, and a bunch more cross-country lessons, so I’m pretty cool with only eventing again in midwinter or spring. Another jumping show or two can also only help our confidence, or even competing at EV60 once or twice more.
  • School Elementary Medium 1 and 2. This is very achievable, especially with how solid her Elementary work is getting. It is, however, going to depend on how soon we get our new 20×60 arena done. Our current one is about 15×50, making it impossible to make an accurate half 10m canter circle. The more complex the figures get the harder it becomes to ride them here. She will also have to make the transition to a double bridle, which might be a bit tough.
  • Compete Elementary. We can totally do this. She could do Elementary 1 with her eyes closed. We just need to get enough qualifying rounds at Novice first, so this will also be an end of the year thing. Even if we just do the ungraded class at the Pretoria Nooitie show – it’s something.
  • Gallop through water. She goes into water just fine, but she always drops to a walk. Now we just need to school her confidence with keeping her gallop rhythm through the water and we’re good.

Lord, not what I will, but what Thou wilt.