Our first two years.
I thought it only fair to summarise our first two years to get a true feeling of where we started.
Now this is likely to be my longest blog...
I got Harry in Sept 2014, he came as a blank canvas.
Day one - Harry arrived in the pitch black. We were hoping that he'd arrive during the daylight hours and he could go out into the field. But due to travelling confusions on the last day it was pitch black so he went into a stable. Next to a horse called Jimmy who he sooned looked at like a big brother figure. Travelling confusions that day were difficult for me to follow - I was working and I don't get much signal there. We almost thought he was not coming. But he did - much to my relief he made it.
Now I wasn't planning on getting a horse like him. It was going to be my first horse in a while so I wanted a steady, been-there-done-it type horse. A horse that I would have for a couple of years to remind me of the commitment then a horse like Harry - one that needed to learn everything and be taught to ride. But when we met him we fell. His attitude was second to none. I knew I needed that horse in my life and was lucky to be the one to get him - he had a lot of people interested.
We gave Harry a little while to settle in. He followed everyone around the field. He loves attention and a rub behind the ears.
I took him for in-hand walks around the place where he could see birds, cars, a river, people, tractors, cars, dogs and anything we could think of. He was very inquisitive, just a star boy.
Then was lunging and free schooling, getting him to associate voice with pace. Then controlling pace with voice. This took a little while as Harry thought it was a great idea to spin around you in his trotter's trot then turn in and stop until you asked him to go again. Now he does every pace you want to from voice.
Then was the riding part. The very first time I got on he froze. It was like he didn't want to hurt me and as soon as I hoped back to the floor he turned his nose to me to make sure all was ok. After he got used to me on him it was someone else's turn. They enjoyed him just as much. But he was still very sensitive to controls - just breathe out and he stopped.
Once he was happy we then hacked out, with other horses then alone. We only had one bad experience. We were on the road and the horse in front had slowed down, Harry found this very frustrating and couldn't understand the need to slow down. We had a few bucks and leaps - so I jumped off and lead him home. We then worked on going slower before going back on the roads. He would shake his head up and down when frustrated but once he realised that sometimes we go slow and other times we go fast he was much more settled and carried his head nicely. Once more relaxed with the different paces we were out and about again.
Next was work on desensitization and mental stimulation, pole work, jumps.
Then we had our first competition. Which included firsts of: plaiting, being in an arena with different horses, seeing other horses, being at a different yard. We came home with 57% and comments of 'hopeful steps but a nosey horse, once settled he could do well' which I was super chuffed with.
Then we went to thetford forest for a weekend. Which was his first time staying somewhere new. Again no steps wrong although I did think he may have a kick out like the time on the hack as he got a bit het up. But none of that only a bit of head shaking - he just wanted to go faster. He also didn't like puddles which I tried to walk him through but as we were holding people up I jumped back on, with a mental note to work on it at home.
Harry got a much deserved Winter Break for a couple of months. So year 1 and all of the above happened sept 2014 - sept 2015. Break until march 2016.
This was when I thought we'd learn driving. I thought he could be an all-rounder and we would do a bit of everything. Especially as he has Standardbred in him - horses made to drive. The second year I thought we would learn a little bit of everything and started the groundwork of driving. This was great experience for both of us. We got to Harry pulling a tyre! However with reflection this is not what I want us to be doing. It would be great fun hobby but for us we should concentrate on riding. I decided I'd rather stick to the riding. It was great to learn and will definitely have helped him for the future.
While learning Harness he also helped out with ridden elements at work so he had a few months of practicing everything he had learnt riding and gaining his confidence.
With the riding he had been out to a clear round course - his first ever time over coloured poles as we don't have any and his first time indoors. We has one jump down but he was amazing. We ended the year at a show-jumping competition 50cm - 4th and 60cm 3rd. Go us!
We also went to equifest - however I would have looked over horsed. This was too much for Harry. We found out after equifest why: this was because his saddle was very badly fitted (even though I had it check a month before) so he was constantly trying to use his trot pace to get away from it. It unfortunately set Harry up for a fail, and although he took it in his stride. Could never fault this horse.
This is Harry in the field at the moment. He gets shoes back on on the 23rd and we shall begin riding again. This year I am aiming for more competitions and going to clinics. Cannot wait.