Exavior 2016 Goal Recap

Going into this year, I honestly thought Xave was going to be an unmitigated disaster. And he was, for a while. I have (obviously) gotten attached and couldn’t bring myself to sell him but he was threatened with being packed off to a lease home that liked his particular brand of crazy, because I sure didn’t.

Then he had his “brain surgery”. There is a reason why we call it brain surgery. Within two weeks the evil alter ego that charged, bit and trampled people seemed to evaporate and my big, dumb, sweet goofball was back in full force.

In terms of goals, almost all of these were achieved in the last three months. So that’s a win.

  • Bathing. Done! He hasn’t had a proper bath yet, but he gets hosed off after work and behaves like a grownup. Still moves around when his hindlegs get sprayed, but nothing that’ll prevent me getting them clean.
  • Loading. Done tolerably well for a horse that had a horrible boxing accident. He doesn’t like two-berths but he’ll box if someone gets behind him, even if he is sick and I am panicking (trust me, I know).
  • Continued improvement on injections. Well, he’s still an unholy terror to inject, but he hasn’t gotten up on his hindlegs in ages. Vaccinating is now relatively uneventful. Bigger shots require someone strong on the halter and a lot of local anaesthetic cream, but it is possible.
  • Lunging over poles. Nailed it. Slightly raised poles in all three gaits.
  • Introduction to small free jumps. He flomped over them up to 70cm in a disappointingly calm manner; I was hoping he’d do some Grand Prix jumper stuff and be all pretty.
  • Backing. Done! I got on, he went to sleep.
  • Basic aids in walk. We went one better. We have some rather floppy walk aids in a halter, and we have equally floppy trot laps of the ring.


This year’s high success is mostly due to the fact that our goals were freakishly low (like, I get this done on a sale pony in like 2 months maximum) but I’m nonetheless happy. Despite being vastly too much for me, he is quite on track for a barely three-year-old warmblood colt.
Next year is a little more serious. I’m setting goals as if he’s an ordinary horse I can handle, because right now he is acting like it, but that could change. And if it does, we’ll roll with it, even if I need to send him to the Mutterer for a few months. Exavior is worth it.

  • Continued improvement on injections. This is gonna be here for many years, I think. Just a slow process of not making a drama out of it might get us to some form of normality eventually.
  • Show in-hand without rearing. We are aiming for Horse of the Year in February, which may be a little ambitious but I guess we’ll find out! He behaves fine at home in the big field with other horses around, so it would be great if he’d stand and trot up nicely at the shows too, but as long as he doesn’t scare me I’ll be happy.
  • Hack. Even if it’s just to the big gate and back. This goal has me quaking in my boots but it’s gotta be there to make him a Good Citizen, although if it scares me too much I’ll pass. Some battles aren’t worth it.
  • By June, have 3 gaits. This isn’t a big ask for any normal horse, but Xave loves to push the boundaries of normal. I’m putting this here to keep it realistic. I don’t want to put pressure on, but I also don’t want to be stuck for ever with him. If he doesn’t have 3 gaits by June, he goes to the Mutterer.
  • Around his fourth birthday, attend a few training shows at walk/trot and Prelim. I so dearly would love to do YDHS in 2018 on him, and he needs to be solid at Prelim by February 2018 under pressure by then. The earlier we compete, the better.
  • Ultimate goal: be solid at Prelim by the end of the year.

This horse is nothing but a miracle so far. I hope my worldly plan for him is in line with God’s; but if it isn’t, then may God’s amazing and flawless plan prevail. I’m so excited to see what that is. Glory to the King.

Meet the Starters

With Bruno and Lancelot being well started, nevertheless I haven’t run out of unbacked babies. I have a queue of starters waiting for me (two Appaloosas, an Arab, a rather interesting crossbred, a Welsh pony and Exavior himself – and those are just the ones actually at the yard) but I have only so many rides in me every week, so right now I’m working on two of the loveliest grey ladies in the world.

Olive1

This is Olive, our first draft at the yard. She is a bit of a crossbred but there is a whole lot of Percheron there, which makes her fluffy and huge with extra helpings of adorable. She arrived in June with only very basic work done – a bit of halter training and a lot of friendliness towards people – and has made good progress.

True to draft form, she is the sweetest thing on four legs, which has made her trainable despite not being the sharpest knife in the drawer. We started out with basic lunging, where she proved much more forward-going than I expected of such a big floof,

Olive2

and now we have moved on to the roller and desensitisation and pressure-release exercises and finally, weight. (Although I don’t think my mass compared to Olive’s can really be called “weight”.)

Olive1

As expected from a homebred, she was pretty cool about being desensitised and not bad about weight. It took a few sessions for her to stop mouthing the bit incessantly, but I finally reverted to an old trick I learned from the Mutterer (AKA king of starting youngsters) and just left her in the round pen with the bridle on for half an hour. With all her brainpower free to figure out this new question, she was relaxed about it by the time I returned and we haven’t had a hitch since.

The second starter is the drop-dead-gorgeous Quinni.

Quinni1

Quinni is impeccably bred, with some of the best Nooitgedachter blood in history blended with her Anglo-Arab sire to create one of the nicest young horses I have ever seen. She is drool-worthy from her impressive size and conformation to her wonderful floatiness. Add in a dash of cuteness, a high IQ and a darling personality, and you have me sold.

HorseMeme1

Sadly for me, although I am casually on the lookout for a fancy dressage horse, I am broke and Quinni is older than what I was looking for. Also, her owner is set on keeping her for a broodmare, a decision which I wildly applaud. Lots of baby Quinnis running around can only be a good thing.

This has not prohibited me from enjoying my time with her. We had a bit of a sticky start when she came down with a horrific acute biliary, but she’s a fighter and kicked that bug with a vengeance. I had started her on the lunge and popped a saddle on her at her breeder’s, so she bounced back quickly from her illness and waltzed through her groundwork without apparent effort. The horse is naturally balanced, intelligent, eager to please and sensitive – what more could you ask for? I was expecting a little fireworks when I sat on her the first time, as she does have that sensitive streak that can cause issues during starting, but I needn’t have worried. Her first three rides were among the easiest I have ever had on a baby.

Quinni1
my face says it all

After getting thrown from Dirkie last year I truly thought it would be more than a year before I pulled myself together enough to get back on a baby, especially a bigger baby like these two. But of course, God is faithful and the power of Christ is in me.

And I had help.

Bruno1
one of those ponies that I know I’ll never forget