TJ’s Debut!

IMG_5777Welcome to the Sunshine Farm TJ! He is a 9 yr., 15.3 hands, Solid Paint bay gelding with four white socks, a heart on his forehead, and a completely lovable personality. He is one of two horses on our farm. Justin is the other one, and he is a 3 yr., 39 inches tall, miniature horse bay gelding with three white socks and a blaze. Justin has been doing great since the arrival of TJ. He’s happy to have his new buddy by his side at all times, he continues to enjoy greeting us whenever we go out in the pasture, and he loves when we take him on trail walks alongside TJ. Our two horses make my heart so happy!

Here is a little background: TJ came to us a couple of months ago from a farm just a few miles down the road. He was trained for western riding disciplines, of which I know very little about! His appearance (I love bays) and description online piqued my interest, but he was way out of my budget from what was originally posted. The photo below is from his original posting:IMG_2313

After the price was dropped I contacted the owner to let her know I would be interested in meeting him. The first time I tried TJ out he was in western tack (photo below) and a western reining trainer rode him right before me to show me how he works. This trainer was working on getting into a low headset, and was asking him with more aggressive hands than I am used to. By the time I got on I was incredibly uncomfortable and nervous, and it didn’t go well. TJ was throwing his head in the air and I could not figure out what I was doing wrong! While the riding did not go well, I loved TJ’s demeanor and I didn’t want to write it off because of that one experience. I decided to try him again in english tack (since that is what I’m used to) and without the trainer present in order to set up a relaxed atmosphere to get to know TJ on my own. That second ride was completely different! It went so well; I was comfortable, he was relaxed, and we had a really nice ride. I posted a short video of this second time on him on my Instagram page (@ourlittlesunshinefarm).

IMG_2246TJ has fit right in at the Sunshine Farm since then, and he and Justin get along great! He has been the perfect riding horse; he learns so quickly, has a quiet demeanor, and goes right along with whatever I ask of him. When he first arrived we spent a few weeks figuring each other out and getting into the swing of things. Wet weather and summer classes made it difficult to ride as often as I would have liked. Then he came up lame suddenly, and we discovered he had a hoof abscess that was causing him a lot of discomfort. After soaking and wrapping the hoof, and having our farrier come out to trim the area of the abscess, he went from hobbling on three legs to walking without a problem in just a week’s time.

After recovering from the abscess, he bounced back quickly and we got into a more consistent riding routine. I spent a couple of weeks implementing pole work at the trot to get TJ used to picking up his feet. While we were working on trotting over a set up poles, Chris was busy building a couple of jump standards for me, which allowed TJ and I to begin working on jumping over a small cross rail. We have been jumping a small cross rail at the trot for a few weeks now. While he still knocks the cross rail at times, and sometimes needs encouragement to actually jump it as opposed to just trotting over it, he has made SO much progress over the past few weeks with jumping. Soon we can begin pole work and jumping at the canter!

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Over this past weekend I took TJ offsite to a local hunter pace. A hunter pace is an event similar to cross country jumping that consists of an outdoor course over a number of miles with varying terrain and optional jumps. You go out in groups and the goal is to complete the course in an “optimal” amount of time, which is set beforehand based on the ideal amount of time it would take for fox hunting to occur. You can choose your own pace, choose which jumps to go over, and enjoy your time out on the course. I love it; it is definitely one of my favorite things to do on horseback. Anyways, I could not have been more proud of TJ at this event. First of all, he trailered perfectly and when we got there, he was a quiet, happy boy. He was not fazed by all of the other horses, even those that were acting up. He was perfect on the course, jumping everything I asked of him, crossing bridges, walking through puddles, and going up and down hills. I had never taken him offsite before, and as far as I know, he had never been trail ridden before. Needless to say, I feel very lucky to have found such a well-mannered horse. Here are a couple of photos of us at the hunter pace (there is also a video on my Instagram account):

After having an incredible time with TJ at the hunter pace, I spent some time the next day building a couple of cross country fences so we could practice jumping more and enjoy the experience at home. I had a great time doing this, I can’t wait to build some more (maybe this weekend J). As expected, he had no problems jumping these two small cross country fences, clearing it the first time I asked. Here’s a snapshot of what I put together:

I’m SO looking forward to the future with TJ. I can’t wait for our first show together (although I will have to purchase some showing clothes first)! I will continue to post updates about TJ and our training on our Facebook and Instagram pages (both are @ourlittlesunshinefarm), and here on the blog. Thank you so much for following along on our journey on a little farm in Upstate New York!

All my best,

Jenn

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