Friday, January 4, 2013

Small beginnings

I figure anyone reading this will likely read the first post so I'll start with the history of me and my Jynxabella. I found her as a gangly, skinny, dirty two year old on a farm in Dufresne, Manitoba. I think I bought her to rescue her as much as I fell in love with her personality. In retrospect, I paid too much for her but none of it matters now. I planned to keep her only as a project to turn into a trail horse as she didn't really seem destined for much more. Jynx the day I bought her in April 2009:

I fell in love with her willing attitude and sweet personality almost immediately. I began training her to saddle that fall and all went great. She progressed steadily over winter without protest or complaint. As of spring 2010, we moved to Birds Hill Park ranch and began exploring the trails. She took to trail riding easily, unspooky and reliable. She was ridden mostly Western and developed lovely slow gaits. She went to her first show at Pine Ridge Equine Park in October 2010 and did fantastic -> we collected several ribbons for flat English classes, Western classes and gaming classes despite her newly learned habit of never taking her left lead. Me and Jynx in October 2010 at the PREP Pumpkin Party:

Through that winter, Jynxy's left lead problems became worse and worse. Due to living conditions, our horses were miserable where they were. They all became neurotic and unusual in habit, though Jynx was the worse. By spring 2011, she could not even be ridden without bucking in place when asked to go any faster then a walk. The vet's official diagnosis was that my horse had lost her marbles. We moved to the wonderful and refreshing barn of Nicole and Leo St. Hilaire in spring 2011 and it was like our prayers had been answered. Within two weeks, our horses were healthy and happy again in their lush and enormous pastures. It was during this time I met the amazingly wonderful and talented Kali Parry and was also diagnosed with scoliosis - suddenly all of Jynxy's problems became clear. I was badly twisted in my hips and shoulders, and I was carrying 21 pounds more pressure in one leg causing me to dig badly into one side of her back and make her so resistant to her left lead. That summer, she began training with Kali Parry. Within a few rides she went from this:

to this:

And then she decided to go do this in June 2011:

Thankfully, no tendon damage was sustained. It only took a few months of stall rest and bandaging to return her back to soundness. In late fall, I began lunging her lightly to get her back into shape for Kali. And as we shifted into the beginning of 2012, my little superstar was looking like a superstar under the careful and patient guidance of Kali Parry:

After a winter of several rides a week, Kali finally felt that Jynx was steady enough in walk, trot and canter that I could begin lessons. Her lead problems were a distant thing of the past. We came into spring both far more balanced and knowledgeable then we had been in the past. Gradually, my twisted hips straightened and although I still struggle with my shoulders, I ride about 95% straighter now then I did previously. We came into 2012 with a whole new set of problems though -> show nerves and herd boundness. We attended several schooling shows in 2012, and each event became depressingly worse then the last. My jitters exacerbated her herdboundness and her herdboundness exacerbated my jitters. By July, our partnership had broken down so badly she finished a rodeo by throwing a tantrum to end all tantrums, and throwing herself violently against our trailer repeatedly until she snapped her halter and tumbled across the field, screaming and shaking the whole way. I was done. Completely and totally done. I never wanted to attend another show as long as I lived, not with Jynx anyway.

By September, I was no more ready to attend the final Dressage Winnipeg show then I was in spring. I handed Jynx off to Kali, having no desire to fight it out yet again with my horse. By a stroke of luck, Jynx was the only horse from our group going to this show. Between having no one to attach herself to, and me being visibly calmer from not having to compete, the weekend was flawless. Jynx was calm and steady, I was calm and steady and Kali kicked butt. They did four Training Level tests at Bronze Level and her scores were all over 65% with one score of 70%. She would have been Reserve Champion in her division if they acknowledge a reserve at Bronze Level! I could not have been prouder of my A team:

We ended the year at PREP Pumpkin Party. I took a deep breath and reminded myself over and over that I was her reactivity, and I needed to stay calm. We stabled her on the other side of the tack stall so she could hear, but not see her stablemates. She called the first few hours and then calmed. We went into warmup that night cool and collected. We schooled the 2'6" jumper course setup without batting an eyelash. Crazy wave jump? Scary rainbow jump? Horrifying chess piece jump? She didn't see a single fence. She hopped over them like she'd been doing this for a decade. I almost burst into tears of pride and joy -> we had finally overcome our show demons. We both remained calm and steady the entire weekend and she showered ribbon after ribbon over our heads. She won her first ever jumper course, 2'0"! We pinned in every class except one. It was a phenomenal experience:

And so here we are! Weekly Dressage lessons with Kali over the last several months have me and Jynx almost ready to compete at First Level and schooling most Second Level movements. Our rides are productive and energizing. As her training increases, so does her sensitivity and her resemblance to a mini Warmblood!

And so here we stand, poised on the beginning of 2013, excited for an adventurous show year after four years of obstacles and perfecting our partnership! Though we still both enjoy the occasional trail ride from time to time!

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