Welcome to another installment of the hit new series, “Leo Survives…” You can view the pilot episode, “Leo Survives…His First Lesson” here.
In the week and a half between these posts (I’m SORRY, Michele, there just haven’t been enough hours in the day), Leo’s had 4 more rides and a play day in the arena puddles, since there are NEVER puddles in the arena. Our rides are quite boring, as they are currently just a bunch of walk/trot/halt transitions and learning to steer. He has pretty good natural balance, but he’s also still very track tight and carries a LOT of tension in his back/neck/jaw.
So our rides are fairly low-key with lots of serpentines, figure-8s, circles and some lateral work to loosen him up. When he relaxes he goes into this absolutely lovely natural frame, but when he’s tense, he’s like riding a giraffe stuck in quicksand.
Here’s a video of his 7th ride- it’s SUPER boring, but I’m posting it anyways, so I can reference it in the future.
And here he is playing in the puddles. No hesitation and he seemed to quite like the water!
And over a pole!
He got new front shoes and back shoes put on, so I’m hoping that helps him get more comfy with using himself, the way it did for P.
He’s now been off the track for 30 days, so naturally it was time to take him to a show. And because P-Bug still needs round-the-clock eye meds, he got to come along as well. First time off the farm for something besides a vet visit in a year!
We went along with Trainer B and the team to Carolina Horse Park’s War Horse Event Series. It definitely wasn’t my first choice for his first show, as it’s really a lot of atmosphere to take in, but it was also my only shot at taking him to something like this for the next couple months, so we went to get it over with. He and P did well on the trailer ride, which I was absolutely FREAKING OUT over. I’ve never trailered two horses together and was absolutely petrified they’d fight or get injured one way or another, but we all arrived intact and the 2 boys stood on the trailer sharing hay while I got their stalls ready.
I took Leo out for a walk around the grounds and we did a lot of standing and staring into the distance. He didn’t seem to care about the normal spooky stuff, like banners, tents, flowers, decorations, etc, but it seemed as if he were trying to find the track. And…CHP happens to have one. Sort of. It’s grass and I’m not sure it’s really used anymore, but it is there and while I’m not 100% certain that’s what he was looking at, he sure was intent on staring in that direction.
He was good about the stall and spent his time with his face mashed into his hay bag. It definitely helped that P was there as a calming presence, as he’s always been good about being off-property and has been to CHP a bunch of times. The only tense time was when my friend played the track sound and Leo DEFINITELY remembered it.
Then we did it to P, who tried to eat her phone.
Saturday was when it would get chaotic. This event series is unrecognized and Saturday is always their schooling day. For an additional fee you can school dressage/stadium/XC and because of this, the barns are nearly always at full capacity (192 stalls), with even more people trailering in for the day. Even P lost his damn mind the first time I came here for this horse trial back in 2017. It’s the reason I would’ve preferred to have gotten Leo to a smaller show at least once before coming here, but alas, the timing was not meant to be so sorry kid, I’m throwing ya into the deep end of the pool.
Trainer B wanted us to come out on XC that morning, but it would’ve cost me $100 just to walk/trot around the field (we clearly weren’t going to jump anything), so I opted to skip that and instead take him around the areas we had been to the evening before. But then I got brave and we wandered closer to the XC fields, which are across the street from the rest of the venue. And when no one stopped us, we walked further down the lane so he could see both sides of the XC course. Then Trainer B and some clients came up and Trainer B said to follow them around as long as we could on the XC course. So…we did.
While there was much prancing and jigging sideways, he handled it better than expected. I can pretty much assume he’s never been in the woods, let alone when there are horses/riders flying around corners and leaping over things, and you can hear so much but not see everything. He went right into both water complexes with no issue and at the very end, after being out 1.5 hours, hopped over a little log with no fuss and Trainer B declared him a jumper.
Sunday was the show so I couldn’t do much, as everyone had pretty tight ride times so there was much helping/videoing/cheering to do. But at the end, Leo and P loaded right back up into the trailer, and were clearly happy to be home. P took off and galloped around his field a few times and Leo walked 5 ft and stuck his face in the grass.
This week will be pretty low-key, as Trainer B is heading to NJ for a horse trial, but I’m tentatively planning on taking Leo to a local hunter show this Saturday to hang out again. Which, after this weekend, should be a piece of cake.