Me with Bonnie and Lexi
Lexi is the foal out of my wonderful retired show horse Bridget (click on the link for some pictures of Bridget). Lexi was born in April 2004. I got exactly what I wanted when I bred Bridget. I wanted Bridget's beautiful jump and amazing personality and temperament to be preserved, but I also wanted a better hind end and more length of stride in the resulting foal so they could be my next show hunter deluxe. On top of that if I was being extra picky I wanted a mare because I love mares. When I visualized my dream foal out of this breeding Lexi was pretty much it!
Lexi is about six hours old in this picture, she hasn't even unfolded yet
Bonnie was born in March 2004 a few weeks before Lexi. Bonnie is out of the wonderful swedish warmblood mare Gabrielle. Gabrielle was a wonderful dressage horse who also dabbled a bit in the jumpers for some variety. She was working Prix St. George when she had a pasture accident. She had been kept up for a few days due to weather and basically went crazy when she was turned out. She went up for a huge buck/spin in the air and came down dead lame with a bone chip in her ankle. As with Bridget her performance career definitely made her an excellent candidate for a broodmare. Bonnie was her second foal. Gabrielle was owned at the time by one of my oldest friends and she generously allowed me to breed Gabrielle at the same time I bred Bridget.
Bonnie's dam Gabrielle
Bonnie's sire is Budweiser, a Dutch Warmblood stallion. Budweiser was exported to Germany the year after I bred to him and then a couple of years later was exported again to Australia. Here is a blurb about Budweiser: 1994, 17 hh Dutch Warmblood. Approved by: GOV, RPSI, & SWANA. In his pedigree, Budweiser has the 5 top European stallions consecutively: Burggraaf keur, Voltaire keur pref, Ahorn Z (v. Alme), Landgraf I, and Roman. Budweiser completed the 100 day performance test at Pruessendorf with a score of 126.20 points for jumping (3rd). For his character, he scored a perfect 10 and scored 9 in Free Jumping, Temperament and Ability to Work. Budweiser has sired 22 Premium foals between years 2000 – 2002. Budweiser competes at the Grand Prix level in showjumping.
Bonnie meeting Bugle when she was about 9 hours old; she was born in mid March 2004
My hope for this cross was my future jumper/dressage horse. Any good jumper has to be able to do low level dressage! Of course I hoped for a mare as well. Yet again I got exactly what I wanted. When Amy hopped on Bonnie the other day the first words out of her mouth were "this is the most uphill horse I've ever sat on!" Bonnie is built like a powerhouse with an outstanding topline and hind end. She's been evaluated by two FEI dressage trainers who both told me she had the conformation and gaits to potentially be my horse to go to Grand Prix in dressage if that was what I wanted to do. She isn't a floaty, pretty mover like Sky but she has power to her gaits when she really engages herself. As one of the trainers said she may not win at Training/first level because she doesn't have the flashy front-end auction trot but she has the build to sit and collect which is what you need as you move up the levels. I have not really jumped her at all but from looking at her and riding her canter the jump should be there.
Bonnie and I cruising around the cross country course last August; she still looks like a baby in this picture. She has grown taller and filled out more in the last year.
If you want the quick re-hash of my undersaddle time with them here it goes. They were both backed as three year olds and then turned back out to grow until they were four. At four they were both back in work sporadically. My life was busier than it has ever been last year! I took them to a cross country schooling day to hack around, play in the water jump and see the sights last August. When I was on my way home some idiot decided to stop in the middle of a very busy 2-lane road going downhill on a blind curve and do a U-turn. Needless to say they halted traffic from all directions and cars were going everywhere. They did not stop at the scene but completed their U-turn and left. I was only going 25mph at the time but still had to slam on my brakes hard (I was the second vehicle behind this car). Lexi actually fell down in the trailer on her hind end and then slid under the chest bar and got stuck there sitting down.
Me on Lexi in February of this year; notice the short sleeves! Jason cut my head off in this picture
At the time I thought my main concern was the bad puncture wound on one of her legs that I had a heck of a time getting healed. Well, as it turns out what I should have been doing during the saga of healing the puncture wound was having the chiropractor work on her a LOT. She sustained a sacro-iliac injury and if any of you have had experience with rehabbing an SI injury they are tough ones. One of the keys is very specific and very consistent work. She started back to work earlier this year and sometimes I was all over the rehab program but then I would have a couple of weeks where I just didn't have time to ride and we backslid. It was a very frustrating up and down rollercoaster. Oh, we're making progress! Oh, we just lost all of our progress because I didn't have time to ride! Jason didn't handle my reaction to all of this too well and I can't blame him.
Bonnie in the water jump last AugustBonnie also had some time off after the trailer incident but spent some time with a trainer earlier this year to get going again. Once again this was thanks to my schedule. Bonnie is one of those horses that at least as a super greenie does best with a very regular schedule which she wasn't getting from me. It is very frustrating to have such an incredibly talented horse that you feel like you make no progress with at all! Jason often made the valid point that it didn't seem like I could be getting much fun out of a horse that was in full training somewhere else, although he went along with it and paid the bills without complaint.
As I said in Sky's introductory post Jason finally got sick of it all. He said "why don't you just go buy a horse that you can have fun with RIGHT NOW." And I did! During this time I had talked a lot about my predicament with one of the Amy's that works here. Amy is wonderful, an excellent horse person, an excellent rider, and an excellent person to discuss your horse woes with. She has been without a horse to ride for awhile now and one thing led to another and we worked it out that Lexi would move a few miles away to another farm and Amy would have a horse to ride again (we don't care any liability insurance for riding at our farm so no one but me can ride here). She is obviously fully aware of the whole situation with Lexi and her need for "physical therapy" riding. She also works with the same vets and chiropractor so will be able to seamlessly continue Lexi's rehab and get in back in the saddle herself. I'll hear about Lexi several times a week, she'll be fifteen minutes away if I have the time to go ride her myself, and I know Amy's high standards of horse care. A win-win situation for all of us! Amy gets to ride, Lexi gets the rehab schedule she needs, and I am relieved and feeling a lot less pressured and guilty.
Me with Lexi
Now the plan for Bonnie. I don't really know - and I can assure you Jason's blood pressure is shooting sky high as he reads that! Jason feels that I should sell Bonnie and for awhile I was starting to agree. Bonnie is a superb athlete but as mentioned does best in a regular program (what horse doesn't really?), and I have been unable to provide regular. It pretty much led to a circle of frustration for me as it constantly felt like two steps forward and one step back with Bonnie thanks to me and my schedule. I was beginning to accept that Bonnie is a fantastic horse with more potential than I would probably ever tap, but she did not fit in my life at this time.
A few weeks ago I started getting up an hour earlier each day. The only way I can fit more time into my schedule is one hour less of sleep. I did this so I could make a point of being on a horse and riding by a certain time each morning several days per week. I'm sure it will come as no surprise that things started really coming together for Bonnie and I once I kept to a regular schedule for a few weeks. Sky's arrival also helped a lot I think. I became less focused on progress with Bonnie as I had Sky to have fun on and wasn't stressing about Lexi's rehabbing. As I was cantering around on Bonnie the other day riding the most athletic, powerful, balanced canter I've ever felt on a horse (and I've had some really nice horses over my three decades of riding - thanks mom and dad!) my thought was "why in the world would I sell this???"
Now I have to be honest and say I haven't been able to replicate that exact canter since that ride although I've come close a couple of times, but overall the quality of our work and her understanding of what I'm asking for keeps getting better. The catch is what happens when we end up being more sporadic in our work again? On one hand I'm thinking I know the answer and we'll both wind up frustrated again. On the other hand I wonder if we've reached a place where maybe she's more mentally mature and more able to handle my life. I really don't know. I know Sky is the type of horse that as long as she is not completely unfit can be pulled out of a field and go right back to where you were before. I need that kind of horse in my life right now. I also think part of it is ego. I will admit I like knowing that I have a horse this nice. Sky is a very nice horse herself as is Lexi, horses that anyone would be happy to have and be seen on at an "A" show, but Bonnie has the potential to be something extra special if I can ever get my act together with her. As the title says, decisions.
If you've made it through this long-winded me, me, me all about me post I applaud you! I also have a question for you. If you were me would you go ahead and put things in motion to sell Bonnie? What would you do?
We'll be back to our regularly scheduled program of retired horses and their pictures in the next post!