The Game Plan, Part 2

Game plan pt. 1 covered 2017 in hindsight. I know it was a relatively brief look into what the year was like and its basic planning, but those who were in contact or active on social probably have a good idea of what was going on. Here’s something y’all don’t know. Hell, it’s something I don’t even know!

The future.

Big gasp. People faint. The earth stops turning. Yep, I’m going to cover the FUTURE with y’all now. Remember, best laid plans of mice and men, so of course things will change, but I would be lost without some type of roadmap. Lots of people have asked about Joy’s future after foaling, my career/school, and of course, what am I going to do with Fbomb? So let’s get down to the ninny gritty of adulthood: life planning.

2018:

SCHOOL

The big thing about 2017, especially school wise, was just making it through. About halfway through the semester, I have what I can only call a change of heart. Suddenly, I was really questioning what I was doing in law school and if it was worth it. I enjoyed the material. Adverse possession is a fun concept and people do stupid stuff in torts, but I was a creative research writer for 16 years. I am a published poet. I fought to develop a voice in my writing that was persuasive and introspective. It doesn’t translate to legal writing very well, and that really made me disappointed in myself. I failed a midterm. I’ve never failed anything! Yet, I failed HARD. 33%. That’s right, a 33! I certainly didn’t come in thinking I was the top of the class, but I didn’t expect to struggle as hard as I was.

Then there was the people and the competitive, cruel atmosphere. Both were a complete and absolute nightmare. I’m a glutton for punishment when it comes to working hard, trying to overcome adversity, and academia but DAMN, I questioned my ability and desire to even continue. But I did. I failed one class, unfortunately, but the rest of my grades were far better than I thought they would be.

2018 means I’m trying some new study techniques, therapy, and working closer with my faculty. I would like to ace at least one class this semester and get through finals. I promised myself I would finish my first year and I’ll be damned if I let myself down.

JOY

With foaling coming up in the next 90ish days, my main focus is keeping her healthy as Fbomb doubles in weight and moves into birthing position. A successful foaling where she can recoup is my main goal. After the most recent scare this weekend and Monday, Fbomb HAS to wait until March 26th, at least. We’re following a hormonal and antibiotic regimen for a month, and with the help of the vet, we’ll assess how to move forward.

She’ll foal at home, unless my vet determines the pregnancy high risk. Premature/Placentitis are high risk… So, fingers crossed. Apple is a calming presence for us both and moving her would really be a great deal of stress on them both. IF everything goes according to plan, they’ll spend a few days in the barn to get to know each other and make sure Joy knows her momma duties. Apple’s stall is attached to Joy’s, making sure he’s able to watch the whole process and cheer her on.

As soon as she’s comfortable, we’ll start lunging to rebuild some muscles and trail ride about the property with baby in tow. Continue building condition until baby is weaned then she’ll return to training. My plan is to just “re-start” her, following the training pyramid and working our way back up to serious work. Hopefully, she’ll be in decent enough shape to potentially do her Mare Performance Test in October at the American Trakehner Association inspection.

There are no plans to breed her again in the future. This is a one and done deal.

FBOMB

Main focus? Keep this lil’ baby cooking for as long as possible. The vet confirmed my suspicion of him likely coming early, particularly because Joy is maiden, but he can’t come too early. The “safe zone” for foaling is 320 days, with the average gestation period being 340-45 days. This is the time the bones calcify, the lungs and digestive tract to finish developing. Foals born too early can have massive issues. 320 days falls on March 26th.

Once he/she makes an appearance and we have a well baby check up, Joy will get plenty of time to bond as a new mother. Even the nicest mares can turn into the devil when those mom hormones kick in, so I’ll be careful with her, give her plenty of space, and let her begin to normalize. As soon as we can, they’ll get controlled/supervised turn out, and eventually integrate Apple back with them once Joy allows.

The first six months are focused on baby growing healthy and happy, but also learning the basics of being a horse. He’ll learn to halter, lead, pick up feet, basic manners, and explore with Joy/Apple.

I’m hoping to have him weaned by 7 months. I’ve found most mares begin to wean their babies on their own around 5-6 months, but if he/she is as early as anticipated, the more time on momma the better. The month leading up to weaning, we’ll begin solo walks/grooming sessions to get more comfortable without Joy.

Ideally, I’d like to line up weaning with the Trakehner inspection in the fall. That’s when he/she is going to look the best for judges. If it’s a colt, this inspection is crucial to see if he is deemed “stallion potential” and to be represented for possible stallion approval. Ultimately, if it’s a colt, it’ll decide if he gets gelded!

There might be a little showing depending on what the 2018 schedule comes out for the USDF Sporthorse Breeders classes. Foals under a year can be shown with or without the dam, but one of my biggest regrets was not showing Joy a lot in hand. To be fair, she looked like a goddamn yak and wouldn’t have done, but I plan to take advantage of the opportunities Joy didn’t get. This will be especially crucial if the colt is deemed a stallion prospect. Likely just one show to see if Fbomb qualifies for USDF Southern Breeder Championships.

2019

SCHOOL

This seems so far away, I can’t believe it. Hopefully, I’ll be in my second year of law school, but if not I better be doing something good with my life. That’s pretty much all I have in regards to that…

However, one fun thing! I plan on trying to get my L certification. Not to actually judge or anything, but to further my own education. I doubt anyone would want me as a judge (ask any friend of mine who's used me for eyes on the ground, I can be a bit... crude), but I'm interested in learning even more from the perspective as a judge. I've scribed for nearly four years, learned a good bit, and now I want to continue my riding education from the judge box onward.

JOY

Back to the show ring we go! I’d like to get back in the arena around March or April. I would really like to conquer 4-3, but fingers crossed we can get back to the FEI ring with PSG. I’d like to begin to work towards achieving Joy’s Performance Silver (*Ps*) recognition through the American Trakehner Association. That requires 5 scores from 5 different judges of at least 63% - not too shabby! We were close in 2017, but now it’ll require redoing foundational training and hopefully her body bouncing back at a decent rate. Following this path will hopefully lead to a qualification for Regionals and maybe even competing!

I’d also like to dabble in freestyles for 4th level and PSG. Even if it’s just for fun (and to get the scores necessary for our silver bar), it could be a fun change of pace. I’ve been building freestyles since I was very little, and I’m ready to put one into work!

Towards the end of 2019, I’d like to dip our toes into I-1. Probably not to take it to Regionals, but it’s a good training goal. When in training, I could feel how the I-1 test would really suit Joy once she was stronger and more confirmed.

There’s been some speculation between Erin and I that it could be good for Erin to get her feet wet in the sand box by going for her USDF Bronze, so that might be something we try to put into play in 2019!

FBOMB

Oh the yearling yak stage. This is all about he/she learning to be a horse and developing naturally. Lots of pasture time, practicing in hand skills, but no stress. Lots of adventures with Apple and learning about how being ponied isn’t the devil. Depending on how he/she grows, maybe we’ll try to do a yearling class in hand to qualify for Championships. Great exposure for a young horse but only if it’s appropriate for their personality and confidence level. We’ll have to see.

2020

SCHOOL

Holy cow, 2020? I’ll be old- 26. This is the year I’m supposed to graduate from law school. Lots of work between now and then to make that very distant dream a reality. If anyone is a psychic, let me know what you got in this area.

JOY

Hopefully this momma will begin an I-1 campaign to begin trying to achieve a USDF gold medal. No rush. The jump from I-1 to I-2 will be a huge one for her physically, and I don’t want to take a wrong detour. I’d like to play with an I-1 freestyle, maybe take it to Regionals, and really solidify a foundation for a young Grand Prix horse. There’s no timeline for this. She’ll only be 11. Literally, her whole career is ahead of her. I’d much rather do things correctly and preserve her for the long term, verses rushing and potentially damaging her blossoming capability. Eventually, we'll get to Grand Prix and hopefully earn not only her Performance Gold (*Pg*) through the American Trakehner Association, but also my USDF Gold medal. If not with her, maybe with Fbomb in a decade!

FBOMB

The two year old year is about becoming a real horse. There will be plenty of in hand work/showing and including the bare minimum basics of work to be started under saddle the following year, including being lunged a couple times a week. If he is deemed to be a stallion prospect, the two year old year is imperative for beginning to prepare for approvals in the fall. It’s highly unlikely I would keep a colt a stallion, but you have to prepare for all the possible opportunities. This would include introduction to free jumping and general conditioning for inspections. However, at 2 ½ years old, a colt MUST be 15.3h with other certain measurements. So again, there are a lot of questions that won’t be settled until he/she gets here. If he/she is a slow grower or just massive, I might even wait longer to begin the basic work. No need to cause any undue stress when there’s a whole lifetime to develop.

Ultimately, in spring of 2021, Fbomb will be lightly started under saddle, head to a couple in hand shows, and get the summer off to grow. I’ll need to invest in a body protector, I’m sure. In the fall of 2021, I’ll begin to assess what the future holds.

I have doubts that this cross will produce an FEI Young Horse competitor. I’m not a massive proprietor of the young horse tests because I believe they are created for a certain type of young horse, the quick burners, not a career dressage horse. That being said, the 4yo FEI test is a good gauge of what a young horse should feel like somewhere in their 4yo year. It’s likely this cross will produce a horse that needs a long, slow development (cough, Joy, cough) and we’ll primarily focus on Materiale classes with the occasional intro/training level test thrown in.

I mention showing a lot, but my ultimate goal is to expose Fbomb to all the sights of a dressage horse so nothing comes as a surprise. It’s all about confidence and comfort for my youngsters. That being said, there’s a chance this foal won’t enjoy dressage work. Not sure how that would be possible with this breeding, but again, considering all the options. If he/she is truly not made mentally for a dressage career, which could happen, I’ll find an alternative. I can think of a certain blond with an accident-prone red mare that might want to teach Fbomb the ropes of eventing… Then our focus will shift!

I do have this delightfully far-fetched dream of taking both Joy and Fbomb to USDF Finals at some point in the future. That’s a dream with no timeline attached! I’m also hopeful in getting my bronze freestyle bar with Fbomb as he/she comes up the levels… We’ll see.

Best laid plans of dressage queens and dancing ponies, right? I guess we'll all just have to wait and see...