Grand Times Eventing

By Finley Habenicht
Grand Times Eventing

First show of 2017 … a success and eye opening in a few ways!  Aleta and I recently competed in a CT at FENCE located in Tryon.  It was a lot of fun.  My friend, Morgan, moved her horse, Rose, and her brother’s horse, Max, to Kibler a few weeks ago so this is the first time we have shown together in a while.  We stayed at Renovation Farms, which was so pretty.  Trayce had a few horses going to the CT as well so it was fun to meet her.  Eric is still recovering from his accident a few weeks ago, but it was nice to see how their friends and family have come together to support and help them.  At the show, we had a full row of horses with us, including Jackson and Clarkson, Anna and Matt and Missy brought Glee.  Missy is my trainer’s wife.  They have a 1 year old daughter, Ellie, who came too!  She is so cute and it was fun having her there to play with between classes! 

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Rose and Aleta were immediate besties and do practically everything together so we learned a few things at this show, like don’t stall them next to each other!  They spent the whole time calling to each other and trying to look over the 10 foot walls at each other.  They behaved well otherwise.  We didn’t ride until the afternoon so I was able to cheer on my friends and watch their rides.  When it was our turn, we had dressage first, we ended up with a 25.6 which was great and also ended up being the lowest dressage score of the day!  That’s the second time we’ve had that honor and it was pretty exciting!  Aleta pays really close attention in dressage.

Warm up for our jump round was a bit crazy, there were horses flying around, it didn’t seem like everyone had control and riders weren’t paying attention.  Aleta was a little excited and gave a little buck, which was weird and a little scary.  We got our act together though and went in and had a clear jump round.  We ended up getting first in our division!  On Sunday we went XC schooling and it was awesome!  We jumped a few BN jumps and Aleta was just great.  Jumped my first ditch too! 

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It turns out Aleta’s unusual behavior in the warm up ring was a blessing in disguise.  We looked in her mouth because she was acting so funny and found a lump.  When we got back home, my mom got our vet, Dr. Marsha Severt, out first thing.  Dr. Marsha recommended taking her to State to have it removed.  My mom doesn’t waste time with our horses care, so she immediately asked Dr. Marsha to work some miracles and we got Aleta into State the NEXT day!  Mom and Brett drove her up, they did the surgery – which was a big success - and then I went the next day with my mom to pick her up!  Aleta needs a few weeks of recovery, but there’s no reason she and I won’t be hitting the events again soon.  It was a good reminder that there is always a reason for a horse to do something, whether it’s good or bad, you really need to watch your horse and be careful. 

It was really scary when they found the lump in Aleta’s mouth, taking her to State was even scarier, but seeing how great those vets are at their jobs really made me happy that we have such a great vet hospital and school in NC.  There were a lot of horses there in worse shape than Aleta and they were all being cared for in the best way possible.  While we hope to never have to go there again, it was a great experience and we got Aleta back safe and sound!  So I learned a lot in only a few days - Aleta has a best friend she can't live without, there are reasons for everything that happens and NC State vets rock!

By Finley Habenicht
Grand Times Eventing

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When living on a farm, preparing for a “snowstorm” can be pretty stressful. At my house, we prepare for the worst regardless of what the forecasters say. Even though this past weekend we barely got snow, we were expecting a huge storm. My mom and I put all the heaters in the water buckets, got hay bags ready, made sure our barn cats had lots of wet food to keep them toasty and made sure all the blankets were ready to go.  On Saturday, when we got snow, my mom and I tried to go dry the blankets at the laundromat in Waxhaw.  We drove through the snow and ice to get there and it was closed. We ended up washing them at home – which my dad loved! The dryer was covered in dirt when we finished, but hey, the blankets were dry and warm!  I played with my moms horse, Dodger, in the snow - he loved it! I would make him snowballs and he kept eating them.  Dodger loves kids and being in on the action so he was following me everywhere to see what I would do next.

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Since Aleta doesn’t live at home, we had her put in the main barn at night at Kibler all weekend.  Her bestie, Panajah, came in too and they thought they were living at the Kibler Shamrock Farm Inn and Suites, they were so warm and spoiled all weekend!  My mom and I went to the barn on Sunday to “free jump" or really just "free move" Aleta, just to get her moving and stretched out.  We didn’t really plan to jump her, just get her trotting, it was so hard!  She wouldn’t move, she was so lazy and just kept standing in the sun.  My mom said it was too bad my mare was such a nut!

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In my lessons with Aleta I have really been trying to release her more over jumps. If I don’t release, or if I jerk on her mouth, I have to pay the price. Aleta will swing her head around like crazy, but the second I release, she just canters on.  Aleta has very definite opinions about what can and should happen around her and I am quickly learning what she does and doesn’t like!  I know it’s my fault when I don’t release, so I’m really working on releasing and following.  The other day Aleta and I really clicked – a “that’s it” moment.  I had my hands in the right place the whole time, and she was awesome!  What my trainer, Brett Ingram, was saying to me really made sense and he showed me a different place to hold my hands and it all just came together.  Now I have a better plan going into my jump lessons. It’s funny how sometimes you can hear, or see, things and suddenly it’s all clear!  If I can keep riding like that, then we will have a killer show season!

By Finley Habenicht
Grand Times Eventing

ark 1

Just recently Aleta and I went to The Ark in Monroe, NC, to do stadium schooling.  Aleta was great!  I was the only nervous one.  There were goats on one side of the ring, and I got in in my head that Aleta would spook!  I kept trying to pull Aleta to the rail because she kept drifting in.  My trainer, Brett, told me to use my inside leg instead and it helped a lot!  She moved right over.  At first, we still just trotted a lot of the jumps because I needed to calm myself down!  While my friends were doing their course, I walked Aleta around the “scary” end of the ring, I realized that she was fine, and I was the one making her drift in.  We ended up cantering a three stride to a two stride and rolled back to an oxer.  I was so proud of her – and me! - it was a great  confidence booster!

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About a week ago, my mom trailered Aleta and I over to Sugeree Ranch to do an obstacle clinic.  Aleta went over everything I asked her to go over!  The tarp and seesaw took some convincing, but she was great.  There was a giant “L” shaped ditch, ropes hanging from posts to walk under, bridges to cross, poles to work through and more!  Our biggest struggle were the tires that range in size and are laid down flat on the ground.  Aleta wondered why I wanted her to walk over them, not jump them.  I got her over them once, and she jumped them!  Then I couldn’t get her over them again.  I got off and the trainer, Will Kupec, showed me what to do!  I got back on and she went right over them!  I realized that while I was pushing her forward with my legs, my body and hands were telling her not to go forward.  Once we got that fixed, she went over them a ton!  At the end of the day, we did the entire obstacle course.  I was so proud of her!  It was great for us as we continue to get used to each other!  I haven’t ever had a horse like Aleta and she’s never had a kid so while we have some bobbles sometimes, it’s days like this that remind me how lucky I am!

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Over the weekend, we did some trot and canter sets on the farm's track.  Aleta and I really enjoyed cantering up the hills!  She is so fun to be around!  Whether it’s riding around bareback with a halter or competing, she always gives me her all!  As my mom always says, not that many former Prelim horses will let an 11 year old do anything they want with them!

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I have learned a lot in the last six months about myself and my new mare.  Riding is hard and doesn't ever get easier.  The better you get, the harder it gets! LOL.  Aleta and I have a long way to go but I know my family and my trainer and friends will be there for me the whole time and that feels really good.  As the year is ending, I am looking forward to moving up to  beginner novice with Aleta in 2017 and doing the IEA Horsemanship program.  I only need one more show for the USEF lettering program too! 2017 here we come!