The orange horse who could

Back in 2018 when my last full season with Coolie ended, I was feeling disheartened. It felt like 105 was totally unreachable and no matter how hard I tried I was too scared and not good enough to get us there.

That season had some very high points and very low points and started off with me scraping my confidence off the floor and rebuilding totally. We went on to win rugs and place in comps but it was hard won and not the most fun. The season ended with me retiring on cross country and we just never got back out there.

Making 80 look tiny

To me it seemed like Coolie was done. He was fed up, I was fed up and Henry was way more fun to take out places. I couldn’t see us getting past 95 and so we just stopped. I wasn’t sad, it just wasn’t for us. I always intended to show jump him more but time didn’t allow it, especially when I enjoyed Henry so much more. The few times we did go out it was fine, but not as good as riding Henry.

Nearly 3 year later and the picture looks very different. Since Henry has been off for so long, I have upped Coolies work but focused on the stuff he enjoys, mostly bush riding and jumping with the odd flatwork session sprinkled in. he is enjoying the work and the variety and is progressing past the point I thought we would. He is a happier horse, and while he is still buzzy and hot, can now maintain a rhythm around a course.

I discovered on the weekend that rhythm is everything. We got through 2 courses without any chipped strides, or dodgy spots. That has never happened before and it all comes down to the rhythm. Once I set the canter we maintained it unless I asked for a change. I rode forward and supported him and he responded perfectly by meeting each fence with confidence. The 80 felt easy and the 90 even better because our rhythm was better and more forward. I thought when we entered that the 90 would feel big but it was perfect.

Hardly trying

Suddenly, I feel like 105 might be achievable. Being an older horse I had set a limit on height for Coolie (90, which he has now smashed out of the park with 0 issues). I don’t want him to get hurt when he simply doesn’t need to be out competing for my gain. The things is, he seems to enjoy it so much. Where he used to run away from me he meets me in the paddock and when he sees the float, he gets excited. That never used to happen. After the weekend, I think that 105 might be something we can do, even if it’s only once.

This is not something we will achieve this year, but I have it in my thoughts for next year. If I can keep him happy and sound, and he keeps feeling this good, I think it’s doable. I have every intention of keeping him in work when I’m not riding to help maintain his topline, plus I need to look as his feed to try and get him looking a bit better. He looks weak in his quarters and I’d like to see an improvement. Plus I will put him on a joint supplement too.

Plans are always changing, but it's nice to feel excited about my little orange horse who could. 

He knows he won <3


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