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Miles poses in November 2015

Off Probation

PSA: A few months ago, I moved all of my blog posts about Miles from public to private. Yesterday, I changed them back to be widely available. I apologize for any inconvenience (and for bombarding your blog feed) 

It’s been quite some time since I talked about Miles on my blog (remember that big, chestnut gelding I own?). Well it’s finally time to let ya’ll in on what’s been going on. Brace yourselves, it’s a little bit of a saga.


While things started a little bit before this, I believe the real catalyst for our issues was when Miles went lame in July. He had over a month of stall rest, plus a month of slow rehab and I think he really enjoyed his vacation. I don’t think he wanted to come back to work (or at least, any difficult work). Of course, that’s just me anthropomorphizing, but regardless, his attitude was horrendous — as in, bucking me off over crossrails. It was a hard blow to realize that the horse I’d been confidently competing at 2’6″ now wouldn’t jump crossrails like a gentleman.

Miles Uphill Canter

Luckily, I have a great team behind me and we quickly came up with a plan. We changed the way I rode Miles on the flat, and my BFF/working student Nichole started riding Miles over fences. I also picked up the ride on Moiya, who helped me regain some confidence. I won’t lie, all through September and October, my rides on Miles were really challenging both mentally and physically. They weren’t fun — they were work. But I saw improvement both with myself on the flat and over fences with Nichole, so I remained hopeful that it would all work out.

The Breaking Point

Then during a flat ride in early December, out of nowhere, Miles pulled his go-to evasion of throwing his head down and bucking. I was very close to falling off, and would have if he hadn’t just stopped on own. Luckily, Nichole was riding with me that day and was able to get on and school him for me. But I was scared and I spent the entire month of December really upset. I cried over Miles more than I’d care to admit and I discussed selling him. At the end of the month I had my first lesson over fences with Miles since July. And we trotted crossrails, while I cried. I had absolutely no confidence in my ability to jump this horse, and I was 75% convinced that he would be bad and buck me off. But he didn’t. In fact, he didn’t set one foot wrong the entire lesson.

Proof I Rode in Late 2015

One Last Chance

After a break for the holidays where I focused on spending time with family, I decided a change had to be made. Originally, I wanted to give Miles all winter to shape up. But I couldn’t keep going on the way I was. No horse is worth my happiness, and I wasn’t happy. So I told myself enough was enough — no more training rides, no more excuses. I got the go-ahead from Trainer to change his bit and Miles went back to his regular “owned and maintained by amateur owner” program where I rode him on the flat and in lessons over fences.

Monday was our last lesson of the month of January, and I’m both elated and ecstatic to announce that Miles is off probation and staying right where he is.

Welcome Back, Miles

We’ve worked on extension and collection on the flat, with lots of different ground pole exercises. We’re even working on lateral work, to control the shoulders and haunches. While he still has some grumpy and sassy moments, all of our equipment changes (whip and spurs for every ride, plus a two-ring elevator bit), have made it manageable. I have more tools to say “FORWARD, NOW” and I have just enough leverage to pick him up when he gets heavy on the forehand, or ducks his head a little bit.

Three weeks ago we did a three stride line of ground poles to a (short) four stride line of poles that was perfection. Two weeks ago we jumped a 2’3″ vertical perfectly — a little bit of a gappy distance, but I kept my leg on solidly and Miles perked his ears and jumped super cute. Yesterday I had trouble feeling the pace and got left behind twice, landing in a heap, giving Miles the perfect opportunity to misbehave and dump me on the ground. But he didn’t — he just kept cantering and didn’t try anything bad.

Miles poses in November 2015


Miles and I hit a really rough patch and everyone thought I’d sell him (including Trainer), but thanks to an amazing team we worked through it. Miles gets to stay and we’re going to keep working on getting back up to jumping 2’6″ courses.


Fly On Over is an equestrian lifestyle blog devoted to connecting horse lovers around the world. By providing equestrians with practical tips and tricks related to horse ownership, discussing training techniques for horse and rider, as well as covering industry news.

33 thoughts on “Off Probation

  1. So great to hear you guys worked through it, great feeling *hugs*
    Kika and i hit a similar patch a few years back, it was rough go in for a while but all worth it now we’re through the other side (here’s hoping we never go back!)

  2. So happy you’ve been able to work it out and that he’s doing better! We all go through those rough patches, and it stinks during it, but I really think those rough patches make us better riders in the long run, even more so than the good times when everything is going great!

  3. Ugh, having your confidence damaged is the WORST. I’m glad you’ve been able to work through it – that takes a lot of pep talks and determination. Glad to hear that you’ve got a program that you’re confident with!

  4. I am really rooting for you and Miles. Who ever wanted to just prance around on simple little ponies anyway, right? (well, sometimes me…okay most days me). Working through this with Miles and taking back you confidence bit by bit is going to make you one heck of a good rider!

  5. I’m so glad it’s going to work out with Miles. I’ve been there with one of mine, and it’s not easy, so sorry these past few months have been so difficult.

    1. PS – I still can’t post comments to your blog on my phone. I get an error message that says “JavaScript and Cookies are required in order to post a comment.” I have those enabled, so I’m not sure what’s happening. The message then goes on to say that if I do have those things enabled it could be a technical problem from a plugin conflict or misconfiguration…?

  6. I’m glad things are better now, but didn’t he also pull this attitude a year ago or so? I hope he keeps behaving for you and you get back to showing this summer.

  7. So glad Miles realized how good he has it and shaped up for you! I’m SO SO glad you had Moiya to help you through that rough patch. I hope you and Miles can put that tough spot behind you with only great things ahead! It’s ok for the “big kids” to get on once in awhile if a wrinkle pops up. I used to think it was saying something about me if I couldn’t fix problems myself. But sometimes horses just need to hear it from someone else. I have my trainer hop on now and then to remind even my old man what his job is supposed to be.

  8. Glad you got things worked out! Those rough patches can really rock your confidence, but sounds like you had great help getting back on track 🙂

  9. Aha, your comment to me makes more sense now 😉 Glad you worked thru it all, its not easy. I think that having another steady to ride makes a huge difference, I wish I had that option because I think it really helps. I’m glad we got this update cause I’ve missed hearing about you guys.

  10. Huge kudos to you! I struggle with this when Copper gets…obstinate. Especially now that I have Paige who is so accommodating. Walk trot is fine…ask him to lope and the muleface comes out. :/ I don’t have any balls, so he’s going back to the trainer. I have huge respect for you growing the pair I can’t!

  11. I was wondering what was going on with the two of you. I figured you’d let us know when you’re ready. So glad to hear that things have drastically improved and that your partnership is back on track. Can’t wait to hear the rest of your story.

  12. Oh I am so glad this story had a good ending! I think we all face rough times with our horses but I am so happy you and Miles were able to get back together as a team

  13. you and miles have been very much on my mind – and i was hoping to read exactly this kind of update!! glad the red man is straightening up and flying right! onward and upward 😀

  14. What an emotional roller coaster! =-( I’m really glad that Miles had straightened out and you guys are working through it, but I don’t think any of us would have blamed you if this story had a different outcome.

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