Here we are. We have ground driven for a few weeks all over the property and the indoor is the scariest place for him. It was a fabric roof with open sides and the pigeons thought the roof was their gathering spot. Just what we needed. But SBG is actually reasonably brave, until he isn't, and he's still unsure of forward at this point. Its fair. He has lived in a field his whole life until this point. Now outside is inside and life is topsy-turvy.
But before we get to the riding stuff, we have a photo shoot! A welcome to the family Mav shoot. This was great! Done by a friend of a friend (who is a talented photographer!), it captured the most excellent Mav ground crew as well. I feel quite short in these pictures. I do not feel that short but clearly I am. I have embraced being short by a) buying a smaller horse and b) finding the tallest friends I could. B is not strictly true, but it feels that way since I am surrounded by the tall. It works since they can get the things off the top shelf for me and I can gather all the dirt from the ground on me - which keeps them much cleaner. I am convinced this is why I am always filthy at the barn no matter how clean I started out.
Plus, there are some nice moments captured of SBG and I. And cat. SBG finds cats wherever he goes. I am still not sure if he really likes cats, they really like him, or he just puts up with them. But he is fairly kind so other than nipping at a cat who was on his preferred grass once, he seems to be gentle at least. Unlike Miss H, who was so excited to see a small creature she would run at them. They would run away. She would run faster at them. Amusing, but did not make for cute pictures like this one.
It is a weird thing to be heartbroken over losing a horse but building a relationship with another one. My coach saw these and commented how much I liked this guy already. It was true, I was smitten. Which is a good thing since he is mine and I better make the best of it.
Back to the riding part. How hard can this be? If you can teach a Friesian mare Grand Prix moves well enough to not embarrass yourself at the local rated shows Medium Tour, starting a youngster is easy right?
Again, I remind you to see the beginning of the post "SBG goes to school" for disclaimer on personal abilities and why I look like a flailing sack in some of these videos.
Forward was a bit of an issue. And since I have been told it is hands-down the most important thing about starting a youngster, it was something we focused on for a bit. I may have actually obsessed over this. It improved slowly but in my brain it should have been a one and done. If you are too chicken to whack them one when they balk tho, the process takes much longer. I am known for never giving up and my experience tells me persistence teaches a Friesian. This one is half Friesian so takes less time to figure things out and reacts twice as fast. Regardless, since I do not give up, I eventually get there.
First some testing we had walk steering before moving on. Ground crew on standby.
Yup steering on point. Time to move on.
This one shows some of our early issues with forward. When I put leg on he tightened up his whole body and kicked at it. I tried a stick but it also offended his sensibilities. Ground crew was called in for assistance. My brain would not allow my body to just kick forward so yet - again, why I would likely send the next one out to someone to start!
With our forward issues not fixed yet, but on the way to not being a problem, we needed to canter. Like yesterday. So ground crew assisted with a lunge whip. See previous videos of me providing merriment, and sounding like a deranged chipmunk, as I chased SBG around the round pen with said whip to assure yourself he was not afraid of the whip.
I was surprised when he picked up the canter and for a second resisted more than I should have. Not really sure why I was surprised since trying to canter was entirely the point. But regardless, I was. Apparently my brain was not paying attention, on this occasion, to the object of the exercise.
The second, or third if you are being REALLY picky, canter was slightly more eventful. He had a small play. It did not scare me, which was strange since picking up canter at all surprised me a few moments before. Apparently I pick my spots. I am trying hard to stay out of his way at this point but still be even slightly effective. He is not the most balanced yet carrying me around, but he manages quite well. I am pleased with him.
At some point we moved into the outdoor. He liked it out there but the ground was very hard. Even with his boots on he found it a bit tough going. Here is a boring walking video taken outside. It is only 14 seconds long so you can suffer through it.
Back into the indoor under saddle this time. Ground crew led me around initially and then I went free. We were coming to the barn first thing in the AM at this point to get in the ring immediately after watering before it got busy. SBG was scared of the far end of the ring and I did not fancy disrupting everyone else's rides. Plus he only mostly steered when going faster than a walk. There were also demons out that door. Even Miss H knew about the demons. Sometimes the demons made noises (tarp noises) and other times they were invisible but the horses knew they were there. Oh and sometimes they also took the form of a cat. A cat jumping up over the door or the railings and running across the ring. It was quite a busy barn and riding in the mornings was not going to work long term so we made plans to move the horses. Seen in the background is Uncle Kanje who will continue to be a big (literally - he is 18 hands) help and a friend for SBG as we move forward.
At the time of moving barns, he had roughly 30 days under saddle. 30 days under saddle with me. So probably the equivalent of 10 days, possibly much less, with someone who has lots of horse starting experience. That said, he was not the strongest dude and I took what time was needed to keep him happy and build his strength slowly.
Next post we move and get on with life. He looks like he is fairly easy at this point. The truth is, he barely steers, barely goes and canter is extremely hit or miss. He curls behind the contact (something that is only now starting to improve) and has a wicked spook. Like perfectly relaxed to 10000 miles an hour in milliseconds - this is the TB half and also why I said I wouldn't buy another TB. I remind myself daily he is young and barely started. One day in a couple of years he will be a reliable partner. I start reminding myself of this more and repeat as needed. Ground crew was also useful at this point for reminding me how far he had come already. Their help really was absolutely essential in getting this far and for keeping my morale up on the less good days. Yay for friends!