From racing to riding... the training diary of an off the track Standardbred

Sunday, February 28, 2010


Sorry for the lack of posts! I am a bad blog owner, I know.

To catch everyone up...

Ride from last Tuesday:
I decided to use a running martigale. Why? I am not sure. I saw it hanging on the wall and thought, "Eh.... What the heck. Let's try it!" Proved to be a very useful tool! He responded very well to it. At first he had to figure things out and see how it worked but once he got the hang of it, he was amazing! The ground was a big pile of mush for the previous few days so we only walked up and down the roads for hillwork. So now we actually got some ring work in. I did a lot of bending work with him, getting him to respond to not only my hands but also my seat and legs. He was amazing! I got a glimpse of what is to come... hopefully. We did lots of trotting aswell. I let him go on a loose rein at first, trying to let him balance himself rather than having him brace against my inside rein for support. He moved where I asked him too and we were really connected in all areas. He didn't stick his nose up and out at all really. At the end of the ride, I took the reins out of the running martingale and worked without it. I let him walk around on a loose rein for a few laps then ask him to collect a bit. I am not asking a lot of him right now. Just figuring out what he knows, what we need to work on, getting him back in shape, etc. He did really well! Even at the trot. He was consistant, didn't break, and for a *few* strides... he was perfect. After those few strides, I rewarded and praised him and let him be done. It was a great ride!

Wedsday and rained and snowed a bit... uggh. No riding. Friday I slept over my friends house right after school so didn't ride again... Yesterday I hopped on at about 9pm. Did a lot of walking and about 3 laps of trotting in each direction since he had a galloping spree with Elsa and Biscuit in the ring earlier and worked himself into a sweat. So I couldn't do much but I was satisfied with what we accomplished. I worked on circles, serpentines, figure eights, just things to keep him mind busy while listening to my seat, legs, and hands, well my entire body actually, to ask him where to go. Sometimes he resisted my aids but he gave in and worked with me. It was a short ride, but a good one.

Today we had out ride Jess trailer him and Katie, Mary-Kate's horse, to Hobby Horse Farm to get some work done in the indoor. He hasn't been to a new place just to ride in... who knows how long... We got there and he was looking around but never did anything wrong. He was a bit hyper, checking things out but he listened to me most of the time when I asked him to stop. Occasionally he would take another step or two when I asked and then spin his butt around so he was facing me. When he did that, I walked a few steps then asked for him to stop again. He listened the second time. We also worked on my personal bubble that he frequently penetrates. I wasn't going to deal with being repeatedly run into. So after a few elbows in his shoulder to tell him to move over, he was fine. We brought them into the barn and on the crossties to tack them up. I already brushed (and clipped =D) him at him so I jsut picked him feet, did a quick soft brush, then tacked him up. He stood really well once he figured out he was on crossties. He had to test to make sure he was restrained at first, which was interesting but once he figured it out, all he wanted to do was chew on the crossties.

After they were both tacked up, we took them into the indoor and walked them around so they could check everything out before we got on. He was not paying attention to me at all. I don't think he has ever been in an indoor so this was a new experience for him. He took it well but was nervous about everything. I had to have my Dad hold him as I tightened the girth, stretched his legs, pulled down the stirrups, and got on, which was perfectly fine but I would have liked him to stand still for my Dad... which he only did for a sporadic few seconds at a time. I got on and I don't think he has ever walked so fast. His earrs were perked and he was checking everything out. Jumps, windows, doors, flower boxes, rock walls, poo on the ground, everything! Katie was doing the same but atleast she was paying attention to her mommy. -cough cough- Hmm.. my little booger pretended like I wasn't even there. He wasn't listening at all. His head was up, nose was sticking out... he looked like a giraffe with neck problems...uggh. Anytime I asked fort something with my legs or seat, he would trot. I eventually got him paying attention to me. I was doing circles, changing directions, asking for halts, slower, faster, and everything else I could think of. We picked up a trot. He did a little better in the trot but still... head up, nose out, and we forgot where our feet were a few times. He never spooked at anything which was nice. We trotted for a while in both directions and I cooled him out at a walk while Mary-Kate cantered and jumped Katie. I decided to try a canter, just to see if maybe a bigger ring would help... Nope.. just his race horse super fast trot. Which was fine. I wasn't planning on trotting anyways but I had to give it a shot. There was an itty bitty, 2" cross rail set up from a previous lesson. I wanted to try it once at a slow trot to see if he would pick up his feet. More as a cavalety than a jump. But no. "Mom. This thing could eat my if I go over it." We trotted, stopped infront of it, but then proceeded to walk over it and knock it over. It was great for a few laughs and I didn't expect him to even go over it so it was a pleasant surprise that he went over it at all. I don't plan on really jumping (I love how I mean "really jumping" as tiny crossrails xD) until the fall, if that. Flat work, flat work, flat work for this year.

Anyways.... after we cooled them out after Katie jumped and Jet "jumped." Then we went outside to take pictures in the lovely landscape the barn has. We got some pictures but both the horses were still hot and sweaty so we decided to go on a trail ride. The barn has miles and miles of trails and I know my way around them fairly well. We went around the first field and trotted up a big hill just so we could look around and see everything. It was gorgeous from that spot. You could see the barn, the pastures, the jumping ring (in the summer) and miles of trails depending on which way you looked. We went back down the hill and proceed on the trails. We decided only to go to the second field and then turn around and go back since we didn't know how they would take to the bridge that leads to the fourth field. We went back a different way than we came but ended up in the same place... the big hill. We trotted back up it and were just awed by the surroundings... well, not really at the time but looking back I know atleast I was lol.

On out way back to the barn, I decided to show Mary-Kate the pond where we are going to catch a turtle in the future. We walked around it one and saw geese. "I want to go herd the geese!!" "Ok Mary-Kate, go herd the geese!" And she did but they eventually split up and flew away only to meet again at a pond on the other side of the fence. Smart geese! Katie was getting into the whole herding thing. It was pretty funny. I was laughing and Jet was pretty amused as well!

We walked back to barn and saw Meri, Lynn, Taylor, and Jess heading back out onto the trails. Hmmm.. we know that they are going to go farther into the trails... Why not go back out? The horses were still warm so we went back out with the big group. We went a different, longer way that was mostly woods versus the field path I chose for when Mary-Kate and I went out alone. Jess lead the way on Cocoa, then Mary-Kate and I on Katie and Jet were a ways behind her, and then WAYYYY back behind us, Meri was on Jimmy, Lynn was on Eeyore, and Taylor was on Abbey. They were sooo slow. So we frequently stopped and waited for them to catch up, only to have them fall behind during the next minute or so. Katie and Jet became best friends. We came across several puddles. Katie's worst nightmare. Jet is fine with water and went right through. Worried that her new best friend might leave her, Katie hesitated at first but then went right acorss each puddle. We were very proud of her =) Then when we got to the third field, we had to cross a bridge... the bridge was the whole reason we didn't come to the third field in the first place. Cocoa went first and had a hissy fit. Saw it, thought, "HECK NO!" and backed up, spun around and tried to amke a gettaway. I decided to ask Jet to go over it first then. He went right over it!! I was so so proud of him! Even some of the lesson horses will hesitate to go over the bridge sometimes. I gave him a huge pat and waited for everyone else to cross the bridge.

We finally got back to the barn and untacked. I picked his feet, took off his boots, and put a sheet on him. He needed some linatment so Meri kindly let me use hers. He got a good spray of it and I rubbed it in so he hopefully isn't realyl sore tomorrow. I was on him for a good 2 hours! I put him in a stall to let him get a drink of water. After a few minutes, he peed and took a few sips of water. I took him out and walked him around the arena a few times then brought him outside to walk around aswell. Jess came around with the trailer and we loaded them on. The poor things were on there for a good 30 mintues before we left since Meri had to wait for a lesson kid to be picked up by her mom. (Meri went home with Jess) We got back to our house and I unloaded him. It it a big step up trailer and he almost fell coming out of it... silly uncoordinated horse. But he went on and off fine overall. Katie was bellowing for him as they drove away and Elsa was bellowing for him aswell. He went back into the paddock, said hello to his friends, and munhced on hay.

What a great day =) He is definately going to get tomorrow and Tuesday off. He will be soreeee. But I am going to take him out of the paddock and hand walk him so he doesn't get stiff. Next weekend we are going to the barn on both Saturday and Sunday and the show is the following Saturday. Can't wait!!

-Emily and Jet

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