Grand Times Eventing

By Finley Habenicht
Grand Times Eventing

We boarded Aleta at Kibler Shamrock Farm al year, while our other horses and donkeys were at our house.  My mom bought her young horse, Dodger, around the same time we got Aleta and with so much going on, we felt it would be a good idea to wait to bring her home.  So after a summer of planning, refencing paddocks, ordering supplements and getting Aleta's feed needs met - she's home!

 aleta home b

While we aren't going to put Aleta out with Dodger and Theo yet, they met over the paddock fence and over the fence in the pasture.  There was very little drama. At first, she was very concerned about the donkeys - she trotted all around with her head and tail up, but by the next day she was obsessed with Riley and herds him around the paddock.  He pins his big ears at her and she looks away embarrassed!  I didn't realize what a difference it would make having Aleta at home, I knew it would be fun - we've jumped everything on our property and gone on a few trail rides already, but there is a lot of work bringing a third horse home.  A LOT more poop, longer time to feed, walking horses in and out for turn out.  We used to just open the stall doors, but since the boys and girl aren't pastured together yet, we bring them in and out.

Another thing that has changed is that I am in middle school now, I started this week.  I am enjoying it.  I think it'll be some hard work, but I like all my teachers, friends and my schedule is really great.  I will definitely have to get better time management skills though, I am a bit slow moving in general - my mom compares me to a snail - I just like to take my time!  So I am trying to figure out how horses and homework and chores all fit in during the week.  Luckily my mom works from home so she does a lot of the work too.  We work well together ... most of the time!  lol

aleta home a

Aleta and I are finishing the fall at maiden, going to a few War Horse events and then trying for a few jumper shows.  We plan to move up to BN next year and I think we are ready.  We've taken our time, truly know and trust each other, as well as knowing each others "bad" habits.  I think this past year, while though in some ways, taught us both a lot and made me a better rider because of it.  I am looking forward to Aleta being in my backyard so we can continue to grow and become even better partners.  Her personality is funny and already we are seeing things at home that we didn't maybe notice as much at the other barn.  She was a diva at Kibler though and has managed to keep that title here!

By Finley Habenicht
Grand Times Eventing

I have always had a mental block about going over ditches.  My mom tells me that I am the one stopping at the ditch, not Aleta.  And she's right.  Since I plan to move up to beginner novice this year – this is a problem that needed to be solved!  When I ride up to ditches, I sort of stop riding, assuming Aleta is just going to go over it – which she does not.  She feels me stop riding and slows down and eventually we end up looking peacefully into the ditch.  We recently went to Kingfisher Park to XC school and my only goal was to practice getting over ditches – not Aleta getting over them, but me!  I really wanted to practice just riding a ditch like it was just another jump on course.  We warmed up and felt great, popped over a few jumps, then it was ditch time.  I told myself “Finley, just get over the ditch!”

We picked up a nice canter, cleared the first jump and turned to the ditch.  I pushed Aleta a bit forward - pretty much to make sure she knew I was ready this time - tapped each of us with the crop, kept my eyes locked forward, not down.  I wanted her to know I wasn’t going to stop so neither should she!  The, without any hesitation, Aleta was up and over the ditch without a thought.  I was so proud and excited afterwards that I yelled and cheered a little bit loudly but it was so great to conquer ditches!

We ended our day jumping our first keyhole which was so awesome.  The whole day was great and as with every ride with Aleta helped to show me how great things are when everything “clicks” into place.  As long as I show Aleta that I am there for her, she will always be there for me.

keyholeAleta and Finley - Kingfisher Park, Mooresville, NC

We’ve been working a lot on dressage lately too and recently rode with Ashley Parsons of Tryon, NC.  She was very helpful and explained things similar, but a little different, from Brett, which was good to hear.  I like it when I ride with trainers that say the same things to me but sometimes in a different way, it helps me to understand better what they are looking for in my riding.

With all of our prep, I feel like we are ready for our first beginner novice in a few weeks!

By Finley Habenicht
Grand Times Eventing

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Over the past few months, I have learned so much about me as a rider and horsewoman.  Aleta and I having been getting ready for the season – preparing physically and for me – mentally.  I always knew I got a little tight in warm up, the horses running everywhere, trying to focus and still remember what course I was about to do next, but I never  told  anyone before.  I would just continue doing what I was doing, feeling a little nervous, which Aleta could feel too.  I finally spoke up and talked about my warm up nerves, and I am so glad I did.  My trainer, Brett, and mom, immediately helped me get a plan together for show warm up rings.  I have always heard people say “warm up off property like you do at home” and “ride the horse you have that day, you never know how your horse will behave so you need to be ready for anything.”  I am trying to really focus on those pieces of advice now.  I warm up on the flat pretty consistently, but then the jumping would get me.  So now I know exactly what jumps Brett is going to have us jump, and how many times, then we will watch a few riders and head into the ring.  I am already looking forward to the next event to put my plan in action.

This summer, Brett is going to help some of us perfect some equine skills, including polo wrapping, braiding, mane pulling and more.  My unpaid braider (my mom!) said she’s quitting the braiding business this summer so I really need to get my braids tighter and faster!  I am excited to learn more this summer and get some new skills to make me a better rider, owner and horsewoman.  I want to be a working student when I grow up so I know there is so much I will need to know and I think this summer will be a good start.

Aleta and I haven’t only been working this spring, we also attended the first May War Horse Event Series and brought home the blue out of 20 maiden riders!  It really showed how all of our hard work paid off, I couldn’t stop smiling!  It was so much fun and it was one of our best events ever.  Even there though, we did figure out a little more about each other – always learning!  As you can see lots of learning and growing for Aleta and I, which I have found NEVER ends in the horse world!