Many thanks to Lauren, Ria’s forever friend, who shared this update.
Whew! It’s been quite a while since I’ve done a general update on Ria for The Horse Fund! I didn’t make as much progress with her over the summer as I would have liked, as I have a terrible ability to wildly overheat in the summer. So from about mid-May until early September, I wasn’t able to ride at all. We focused on groundwork during that time, including clicker training and working off of Warwick Schiller’s early training suggestions, which always does Ria a lot of good.
A barn move
Toward the middle of August, one of the local stables reached out to me to see if I would be interested in a stall. I had added myself to their waiting list when I was first looking to buy Ria. While I absolutely loved the barn owner and care that Ria had been getting at our current barn, this second stable was located 15 minutes closer to home. It also was situated directly next door to a state park with miles of riding trails and cross country jumps. After agonizing over the decision for a few days, I made the call to switch barns yet again.
The barn we moved to was great for a while. However, in February, the barn owner treated me pretty poorly after Ria sustained a paddock injury and we parted ways. So, unfortunately, we had to change barns again. I think it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, though, because we love the new facility. In retrospect I think that perhaps the way that Ria was handled at the previous barn may not have been the best method for her, which resulted in some increased anxiety. They did take excellent care of her, but for whatever reason she seemed to regress in her training while boarded there. On the day we moved out, Ria was actually so anxious that she reared and clipped my head with one of her hooves, resulting in a minor concussion. I’m perfectly fine now, but it gave me a pretty bad scare.
Another barn move
The new facility has around 20+ hours a day of turnout, which has done wonders for Ria’s energy levels. They also have 8+ acre paddocks with extraordinarily lush fields, each of which has about 4-6 horses. Due to the increased turnout time on such great grass, we have been able to drop Ria’s grain ration by over half (9 pounds a day down to just 4 pounds). While you have to cross a 2-lane road in order to access the indoor ring, we have a conveniently located outdoor ring, two round pens, a cross country jump field, and miles of trails on the 100+ acre farm itself.
Happy, healthy, and relaxed
Ria settled in pretty quickly at the new farm and already has a very close paddock and barn buddy named Cam (a young gelding who is another OTTB!). One of the biggest benefits in changing to this new barn is the fact that there is a fantastic trainer living onsite named Kari, who has made unbelievable progress with Ria over the past two months. Ria is so much calmer now, and even when she does get a bit stressed, she’s able to bring herself back down to a relaxed state much more quickly than before.
Before the move, we had gotten to the point where it was taking around 2 hours to load Ria onto a trailer. Just this past weekend, Kari was able to get a very relaxed Ria on and off the trailer multiple times in just 40 minutes. Ria is also more relaxed in the crossties than she’s ever been, which makes me incredibly happy.
While the weather is still nice, I’ve been trying to take advantage of it and get back into riding when I can. I don’t think I’ll be able to keep at it for much longer (remember, I overheat really badly when it’s very humid!), but I have absolute confidence that Kari is going to make great progress with her under saddle this summer.
I didn’t expect the process of restarting Ria to take quite this long when I first got her, but we’re well on our way now. What’s most important to me is that she’s happy, healthy, and far more relaxed than she used to be. I’m really hoping that by the time fall rolls around, I’ll be able to start trail riding her with confidence and maybe even start her over jumps next winter!
To read Ria’s previous update, please click here.