Two Years of Coco

So as you may have read, Darielle and Dante celebrated their 2 year anniversary last week but did you know that me and Coco did too? (Although, we didn’t really celebrate as I had to get some wisdom teeth removed, hence the late post, so Coco ended up having a few well deserved days off!) Yes, me and Darielle both bought our delightful youngsters within a day of each other so between the two of us, the last 2 years has seen a ridiculous amount of ups and downs!


So where did me & Coco start…

When I decided that I was going to buy a young, inexperienced horse, I really didn’t have a clue what I was getting myself in for. I had ridden a number of green horses before

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The first time I rode Coco

that needed some schooling, and horses who’s owners let them away with murder and needed to be taught some manners. But taking on a just broken 4 year old, who had only 6 weeks of work put into them is a completely different story. There’s nothing that can really prepare you for your first youngster, no matter how experienced you are.

My journey with Coco so far has been a very turbulent one. We had our issues at the start when my resolve was seriously tested and I wasn’t entirely sure I was cut out for this milark. Then we had a period of improvement until injury struck. After recovering from injury we soared. We became a team and just got better and better. That was until progress was inexplicably halted and we were back to square one. Coco started refusing to jump and began a bucking habit. Once again I questioned whether I even knew what I was doing and my confidence hit an all time low. There is nothing more soul destroying than feeling like you’re only going backwards. But with time and support from good friends and trainers, we slowly started to get back on track. We moved yards which was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for Coco. I loved my old yard but it just didn’t suit my highly strung mare. After this we started working on our trust issues and building our confidence in each other. We revisited old problem areas that I had been avoiding and we started going from strength to strength.

 

When you turn a corner…

This summer I finally started competing Coco. This was one of those goals that I was always striving towards but had never felt we were completely ready for. We had done small training shows and clear round jumping in places that Coco was more than used to but the idea of going out and competing somewhere completely brand new was something that terrified me. Fortunately though I needn’t have been worried. It turns out Coco absolutely loves getting out and about. Ever since we started regularly competing every other weekend she has been happier than ever.

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Last Sunday we had our ultimate test – we had a competition at Coilóg Equestrian, a place where all of our confidence issues with jumping started during our very first schooling session there. We had been back once since then and while it went much better than the first time, it still wasn’t smooth sailing. So to come to this particular venue and jump a course of fences without any practice rounds was pretty terrifying. Yet again however, I had no need to worry as we jumped our best round ever. All of our hard work and

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Coco flying around Coilóg last week

training kicked in and we flew around the course. We had one knock that was rider error but aside from that I actually could have cried with how proud I was of my Cocopops.

Jumping is the one area of horse riding that I absolutely love but is also where I lack the most confidence. So to take my 4 year old from an aggro hothead who would do anything to avoid jumping and turn her into a confident and happy jumper, that’s something that has made all of the hard times and battles worth it. It may be a small achievement to some but for me, its monumental.

So what’s next for me and Coco? I plan to finish out the year jumping our courses of 80s out competing, while at home I want to start pushing myself to jump a bit bigger. Main focus for the winter though will be improving both of our fitness so that we’ll hopefully be ready to get going with SJI in the new year!


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I hope reading about my journey with Coco gives some of you who may just be starting your youngster journey some reassurance that there is actual light at the end of the tunnel. If you put the time, patience and work into your horse, there’s no way they won’t come out the other end the better for it. And what’s more, you’ll find you have a partner for life out of it too.

As always, thanks for reading,

Orla

 

The Ups & Downs of Owning a Young Horse

Before I started this post, I was originally planning to write something much more positive and affirming about that fantastic moment when everything works. This was inspired by a ride I had with Coco where it seemed that our problems were finally behind us. Unfortunately this seemed to have been a fluke as Coco now has a whole new problem that needs to be figured out. Ill go into more detail on this once I’ve figured it out a bit more but this most recent problem has made me think about the fluctuating ups and downs of owning a young horse.

The Ups:

Rewarding

Young horses can be so very rewarding. You set goals and achievements to strive towards and every time one is reached, you feel such immense pride in your youngster and the work you’ve put into them. Every success is a noteworthy experience and every failure is just another learning experience and something else to improve on. We only relish challenge.

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Coco’s first time out schooling over a course of fences

They make you a better rider

No matter how good of a rider you are, you will never be tested more than with a youngster. They present so many different scenarios that all require a certain reaction. Whether it’s teaching a horse how to jump or dealing with a full blown tantrum, you have to learn how to deal with that situation. You also have to learn how to read your horse in order to understand what they’re trying to tell you. For me, up until I bought Coco, I mostly spent my time learning from whatever horse I was riding. With Coco, I became the teacher. 

No Bad Habits

One of the great things about buying a young horse is that they generally come without bad habits. This can depend on whether you broke them in yourself or if you bought them just broken but generally whatever bad habits they develop, you can pretty much only blame yourself. 

You can build a true bond

In order to work with a young horse you have to teach them to trust you. This means they can become reliant on you but it also give you the opportunity to build a real bond with them. Read more about Building your bond with your horse in one of Darielle’s recent blog posts. 

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The Cost

This is one of the more obvious and practical reasons for buying a youngster. Younger horses tend to be much cheaper than older horses who have had more schooling. So for those like me who are looking for their own horse but don’t exactly have the €10k for a schoolmaster, a young horse can be just the answer.

The Downs:

Time & Patience

Working with a young horse takes serious time and patience. Some days it feels like you’re just going through the paces and not moving forward because they’re just not ready for something new. Other days, you’re dealing with a new behavioural problem that has come out of absolutely nowhere. Regardless, you’re consistently working at your horse’s pace.

The Problems

You are almost guaranteed to come across at least one or two behavioural problems during the first year or two with your youngster. From napping, spooking and rearing to bucking and full blown tantrums, you are bound to face something.

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Coco saying hells no to an itty bitty cross pole…

The Unknown

Unfortunately most equine medical conditions won’t present themselves until the horse is a bit older or has started work. So buying a youngster can be risky as sometimes you just can’t guarantee that your protege will be able to do everything you hope they can do.

Youngsters are accident prone

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A classic Coco injury…

We here at No Bucking Way have definitely learned this one the hard way. Youngsters are incredibly accident prone. From injuries sustained in the field, to kicking their legs through fences, we have certainly seen it all. And unfortunately, injuries can mean vet bills.

You Can’t just Go out and Compete

Probably one of the hardest things about owning a young horse is that you just don’t have the freedom to go out and compete like your friends can. You’re constantly working to get your horse to the point where you can bring them out but unfortunately this is not something you can rush into. 

Regardless of the ups and downs, getting Coco has definitely been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s a long and tough journey but so far it’s been worth it and I do need reminding of that from time to time, especially at the minute.

Thanks for reading,

Orla x