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Working Student @ Sandridge

By Deanna

A day in the life of a working student at Sandridge Stables starts out at 7AM when we give the indoor horses their allotted grain.  Next, the horses get blankets on and then are taken out to their pens.  Time to grab a manure fork and a wheelbarrow; stalls need to be mucked.  After that we put evening hay and grain into the stalls, sweep up and TADA! Morning chores are finished around 10:30.  Horses need to be worked and knowledge and new riding skills are to be acquired so the rest of the day flies by.  Horses are brought in around 4PM, barn swept, tack cleaned and the day is often finished at 5:30.  Now we enjoy a delicious dinner meal.  Sleep comes easy and we are refreshed and excited to do it all again the next day.

Today started with a glorious sunrise that I was privileged to see while taking out horses to their appropriate paddocks. In doing so, we notice a fence down.  Out come the hammer and nails that are always kept handy.  It is farrier day, so Angel and I work quickly and efficiently to get the job done correctly.  Ken, the farrier, comes around 9 and we have already brought in the first horses that need trimming.  Lunch comes quickly and we finish barn chores after Ken leaves.  Gunner and Missy, the two youngins are in for their routine training.  I lounge Gunner first.  He is really quiet so I hop on and Angel gives me a “colt starting” lesson. I learned about being super clear with my aids and using lots of positive reinforcement.  Next came Missy and she has more get up and go.  With her, we are working on stopping and staying there a minute or two.  They are both a little sweaty so we leave them in for a while- it’s off to bring in horses for the evening!

Because it is Saturday, I am working with Rebecca.  It’s another astonishing warm day and jackets are barely needed.  Horses are put out and stalls mucked.  Kathy is teaching today and when the barn is almost clean, students start arriving.  I’m riding my horse, Thunder in a lesson at 1PM.  The arena is set with the famous circle exercise with four jumps.  Thunder and I are working on rhythm and by the end of the lesson we are both exhausted.  Kathy is an amazing teacher and I felt challenged when the jumps became verticals but also very successful.  I am so proud of my horse!

Gunner and Missy got ridden today again.  I trotted the first time on Gunner! He acted like a pro and is really smooth at the trot.  I felt like he carried me well and responded quickly to downward transitions.  I love how friendly Missy is when I go to catch her in the field.  She was a little spooky but became relaxed by the end of the session.  What awesome horses!

Sarah came to teach lessons and I rode a horse named Dually in a jump class.  We practiced doing a grid with 3 jumps.  It was more of a canter exercise.  I am learning to collect his stride- especially at the canter.  By the end of the lesson he was rocking back onto his hocks more, so that is encouraging.  Flying over jumps tends to remind me of how much fun it is to ride and why I do it.  *sigh* another exhilarating day has come and gone….

I have been greatly enjoying the temperatures being warmer then -20 lately.  It seems like it is almost spring!  Today is Saturday, and my family came to watch me ride.  My dad hasn’t seen me ride in a couple years so it meant a lot to me to have him be there.  He only remembers when Thunder bucked him off when she was a lot younger.  Kathy got us doing a grid without stirrups and reins and it went smoothly except the time Thunder decided she would rather go around instead of over.  I was surprisingly comfortable without stirrups/reins but I think if I were on a different horse that I don’t trust as much I wouldn’t be so nonchalant about it. Then we did a course with a couple bending lines which made me really focus on my track.  This was Thunder’s first time jumping at angles so I tried to prepare her as much as possible.  I tend to throw my upper body at the horse too much over jumps that I think might be higher but closing my eyes over the jump helps immensely with that.  It is so encouraging seeing the progress of my horse!

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