I probably should have written this post so much earlier but things have been hectic lately so this is when it’s happening.

Say hello to Ezio! (Eht-zee-oh) I got a second horse!

After Scarlet retired from riding late October 2019 due to his neurological issues, I knew I wanted a second horse. But that was so far from a reality at that point. We had purchased our house two months prior and were extremely house poor. So I thought about it, dreamed about it, but did not act on it.

Then, late last year we were in a financial position where making a second horse happen was a possibility. My budget was small when I started looking in September so I didn’t find anything much. If you haven’t been looking, the horse market has been quite wild for a long time. So anything in my budget generally had problems. Most of them weren’t things I was willing to risk. So I waited and saved. I definitely wasn’t patient. (Thanks L and Ruth!) But I kept looking. I do kinda want to do a post about the horses I tried and the frustrations of searching for a horse. But I’m trying to figure out how to not talk to specifically about the horses I’ve looked at. Some of them are still on the market and my opinion on them is only my opinion. So that might take a while.

Most of my photos are from this angle or similar. He wants to be nose in my face or in my hands all the time.

So I’ll just give a summary of how I found Ezio here. I found a facebook ad for him. He was local and in my then price range. I asked about him and got a video. When asking questions, the seller didn’t label him as forward so I passed on him initially. Then I thought about it more and decided to follow up a couple of weeks later. I tried him and was immediately thinking “Shit, I like him.” I tried him again the following week and decided to move forward with the PPE. PPE got delayed once but nothing major showed up and I purchased him on April 16 and then brought him to the barn Trainer J works out of on Wed the 20th.

He’s a four year old technically ottb though he never raced nor has published workouts. He’s tall. Vet says hes 17-17.1h though she used a tape on him which isn’t as accurate as sticking him. He’s tall and that’s pretty much as much as I care about. I wasn’t looking for tall so his height is unimportant to me. He is sensitive when I ride him and very person focused. He’s also lacking in a few ground manners and very pushy when it comes to cookies. We’ve already had a few discussions about manners and he’s getting better each time I work with him.

I threw my old saddle on him when I first got him settled in and it definitely doesn’t fit. He’s got some decent sized withers but is very skinny still. He’s a bit of a hard keeper so getting weight and muscle on him will help with that but not for the immediate need of a saddle to ride him in. I was fully planning on getting a saddle and needing to get a new one within the next couple of years but I figured I’d take my trainer up on her offer to try her saddles out for fit first.

He’s cute. ❤

Two of her saddles looked possible and I hopped on him for the first time on Monday. The saddle I chose did not fit me. It fit him nicely and the sweat pattern was good but it tipped me forward in my pelvis until I felt like I was going to go face first into the dirt. We only walked and trotted due to me feeling unstable. That saddle was a wintec dressage saddle and it reminded me that I never got rid of my old wintec AP saddle. So I excavated that and tried it on him on Wednesday.

The sizing looked okay and my trainer got to look at it as well. She had some sort of sizing guide she placed around his withers and said he’s hovering between a medium-narrow and a medium seat at the moment. Of course, that’s mostly a guide and not a guarantee. I believe the AP saddle is a medium but its been years since I bought it so I have no idea. We rode and I felt waaaayyy more secure. I still kept the ride to a walk and trot because Ezio was pretty hot at first. He came from a barn where he got half day turnout with other horses. That’s pretty unusual for around here and unfortunately I cannot provide that for him. He’s been getting walks, turnout and lunges with me but its not the same. And while dealing with the saddle, I haven’t been working him enough to get the energy out. Hopefully that will change soon.

Even though he was hot, he was very good. He kept spooking at the birds and squirrels around the arena so I took him in a large circle in the center of the arena so we could be further away from distractions. After a while, he settled into the work and was much less up and tense while trotting. If I hadn’t had work, I would have probably tried to canter but I had a limited amount of time to ride and preferred to keep it low key during my time crunch.

Post first ride!

So my old AP saddle looks like it will fit him okay for now. I’m getting him a nice half pad to give him some more cushion and just a little bit of padding since the saddle slid a tiny bit while riding. I’ll keep riding him in this and checking to see how he feels after the rides. Hopefully everything goes well in that regard and I can hold off on buying a saddle for a bit longer.

But even without having consistent rides, I’m so ridiculously happy. Scarlet will always be my bestest boy and I’d give half my bodily organs to have him still ridable. But he isn’t and this is the reality we have. He’s fat and happy being retired and, most importantly, still here with me. And I’ve got a new baby to learn how to ride and figure out what shape our partnership is going to take. This is going to be fun!

A Canter Lesson

I’ve done at least one lesson with Trainer J that I haven’t written about. I got bad about updating. I realized, after the removal of some extra work load at work, that I was really really close to burnout and kinda dropped everything to chill a bit and regain some mental balance. Which did help me but didn’t help with posting.

For most of our lessons, I’ve been only walking and trotting. While being limited would usually ignore me, it was much better due to me wanting to focus on me instead of this horse. But this last time, we did end up cantering.

I was tacking up Zoe this time. While it was nice to come to a horse all tacked up and ready for me, it did feel disconcerting not touching the horse while grooming etc. So doing it myself was nice. I managed to get all the tack on correctly which yay me. I’ve never put on a dressage saddle before. I think Zoe had just gone through her heat cycle or was still in it. She was sensitive to me touching her back half and had some crud trailing down her legs and on her lady parts. I told Trainer J about it so someone could wash her later when it wasn’t cold morning time.

I warmed up like I normally would. Trainer J let me do it and just called out adjustments to me. Then she asked what I wanted to work on. I explained that lately I’ve been feeling like a muppet during canter transitions, both up and down. I feel like I’m flopping around and flailing ineffectually a lot of the time. So we worked on the transition up.

Wow was that a lot of hard work. I was exhausted by the end. But I had some serious breakthroughs. Basically, what we discovered is it has been a long long time since I haven’t had to make the canter transition happen. I’ve had to use my whole body to get the green horses to do it, so I’ve not been asking properly for a while.

It was amazing to work with a trained horse on that. I really got the feeling of the inside leg as kind of a pivot point when on the girth getting that flexion to the inside and the scoop with the outside leg. I ended up needing to hold Zoe’s face a little more so she went up rather than out into the trot. It was a little difficult for me to ask properly and wait a moment to see if she got it but it worked really well once I put all the pieces together.

I did get a chance to try it more properly on Cav and even that showed a remarkable difference in how he responded to me. So my bad habits weren’t helping there either. But now I’ve got this to practice and I’m so happy!