The North Experience
I find myself in a totally new realm. Not only with a new horse, but a new barn, and a totally different perspective than I had just a year or even 6 months ago. I kind of feel like I've been asleep at the wheel for some time, just too engrossed in the "ideas" and blind to the realities of what was around me. I feel like I am in a better place now with better support and I am so excited about North.
Sigh...North... When I think about him, I get butterflies in my stomach. I never did get a video of his movement before he arrived, so I basically made the decision off a few pics and his pedigree and conformation evaluation. Oh, and the word of the barn director regarding his temperament. Several people told me - DON'T get a TB. "They're crazy!" "They hard keepers and you can't keep weight on them!" North defies all the stereotypes.
He is now down to a half scoop of feed twice a day. He arrived getting 1.5 scoops, but it didn't take long for him to start getting chubalicious. The grass at the new barn is amazing. His temperament? Incredible. Each day I've been introducing him to new things. Last Saturday, while I was walking him out to the riding area, we had to pass a bright red big rig with a loaded flatbed while someone in the woods was shooting off a gun and a neighbor thought it was a good time to rev their Harley. He perked his ears and looked around. That's it. I've created such a bond with him through groundwork, and frankly, I never knew it could be so fun. When he does get nervous about something, he looks to me to tell him its okay, and I love that.
My 2 previous horses, and even my lease, were all seniors, so I went into this fully prepared for some tough moments working with an OTTB baby. It just hasn't been so. It took him about 3 days to fully settle in. Last Saturday, he stood quietly as I groomed and tacked him up. We do about 20 minutes of groundwork every day and he literally forgets NOTHING I taught him the day before. It's such a change from Forrest. Lol. Almost every day was like starting over with him. So that day we did a little work in the roundpen - moving off of pressure and such. I introduced the dressage whip - didn't phase him at all. And at that moment, I decided I wanted to get on. He was just so easy and calm on the ground, that I felt like I had to see what he would do in the saddle.
My guy was there with me, so I asked him to hold him while I mounted. North didn't move an inch while I got into the saddle. I patted him and then we proceeded to walk around the round pen. His biggest issue? Wanting to stop and eat grass. lol. And soft! Omg. For the most part I kept him on a long rein, but even if I took up just a little contact to help guide him, he would instantly round his neck and drop down. I had him in a D-ring Happy Mouth with the roller lozenge, and he was really quiet in it. I didn't stay on for more than 10 minutes. I just wanted to feel him and he felt incredible.
I honestly feel SO incredibly lucky to have been given this horse. He is everything I wanted and a completely clean slate. He never raced, only did a handful of training runs, so I don't even have all that to undo. The past 2 weeks with him have just been amazing. This weekend, my trainer friend, Helen, will start putting the saddle basics on him. I think he is going to be incredibly easy to train and I can't wait to see him going good under saddle.
"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."
- Maya Angelou