I am incredibly lucky to have the support of an amazing owner. I get nice horses to ride who are usually rough around the edges but with the potential to do everything that I want. I am now on my third horse owned by the same person and I thought readers might find it interesting to follow his season. He is not a world beater but he is a nice little green 5yo with a cheeky attitude who has never been eventing.
Frank is a 5 year old 16.2hh Irish Sports horse by Rebel Mountain out of a TB mare whose bloodlines make me weep with joy as they feature all my favourite proven eventing TB bloodlines. I will bypass the dose of Northern Dancer (I am not a fan) for the Bold Ruler, Princequillo, Nasrullah and Hyperion that all appear.
Frank came over from Ireland at the beginning of October and was purchased unseen from his breeder who lives next door to the owners of Kilcandra Stud who are friends with my owner (Still with me on all these protracted relationships?). My owner will often pick up horses for people looking as she is a very experienced horse person and has a great eye for a horse. Frank was purchased for a friend of my owner as a smart little hunter. He had hunted in Ireland and done little bits here and there but most importantly he jumped ditches, which is what the hunt country is down here in Somerset. An arena and flatwork on the other hand is an alien concept!
I hacked Frank out in the first week of him being here (I occasionally ride out for my owner on her other horses) and thought he was cute but as I knew he was not destined for me so did not think anything of it. I also schooled him and he was incredibly green barely able to canter round the arena.
The following week Frank went hunting and blotted his copy book in style which is how he ended up with me!
I was warned that he would pull back when tied up and that he would try and jump out of the field. He achieved all those things in the first week. The tying up issue has been pretty much solved and now he has fallen into our routine he is fine in the field. I have not let him near my leather head collar yet and he gets the manky one held together by bailer twine.
Frank is under muscled at the moment with no real top line so the priority has been getting this sorted. I have been extremely careful about what food I pump into him because he needs the calories but I certainly don’t need a wild 5yo. I have settled on my tried and tested formula of Sugarbeet, Molichaff Showshine and Spillers Conditioning Cubes. If he begins to drop condition then I will add Linseed Oil. Frank gets haylage at the moment but if his behaviour alters he would be moved onto hay very quickly.
The horse is kept on my parent’s farm so we have massive amounts of turnout and this year the grass has been excellent. What I don’t have is an arena so during the winter my riding is very restricted. I tend to only ride three times a week but because of the daily turnout they don’t tend to alter behaviour if you monitor their feed carefully.
I have never had an arena at home so: you don’t miss what you don’t have. I just accept that some things might take longer to improve. I do a lot of hacking in the winter and in particular trot sets up hills. I think it’s amazing for young horses to build up their base fitness which will serve you well in years to come. I use winter for doing all the long slow work combined with some schooling, lessons and a few competitions.
So far Frank has been excellent in taking to his new life. Schooling wise we have been working on him taking a stronger contact. At the moment he believes that this should be in the right hand only, I spend my time on circles reminding myself not to pick up the right rein (I keep patting the neck to stop myself picking it up) and to keep consistent in the left which is the opposite of what your brain is screaming at you to do! I recently got his teeth done and the chiropractor out to check him over and he was sore on the right side thanks to his teeth. With this sorted he feels more balanced but I like them to take the contact down and forwards which he is not doing at the moment, so it’s a work in progress.
Jumping wise he has a jump which lacks kick off the ground at the moment and he does not use his neck enough. Part of it is young horse weakness and part of it is that he needs to learn to use his body. Bounces have been deployed to help get more kick off the ground. These are approached in trot. Also, wide spreads out of trot to help get him using his body better. Hopefully it will not take too long to see an improvement. I have to be careful as a rider not to do too much because he needs to learn for himself. Frank has a very good brain and picks up things really quickly, which is great and everything I want in a horse.
So this is the boring introduction over and done with so hopefully what I will write will be able to be more interesting. There are no real competition plans yet but several outings are planned in the next week while I have time off work, including cross country schooling.