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

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ride 8/28/10 and Decision

Not much has been going on. The weather has been GREAT! Today was cool with not too much humidity. Perfect! We brought the horses up to the ring to dry their feet and walk around. I brought Jet up first and free-lunged him for a bit. He was a wild man! Bucking, galloping, hopping, popping, rearing, ect. After he got his bouncies out, I got his focus back on me and we had a nice session. He moved around my body position and I got a nice walk, trot, and canter out of him.

In the early afternoon, I went over to my friend's house and hooked their pony into my harness for Biscuit. We think that their pony may have been driven in the past but we weren't sure. He responded really well! He got nervous and unsure at times but overall it was a productive day. I then watched their friend get on their young horse and go for their first ride off of the lunge line! It was awesome! I took tons of videos! I'm going to make them into a movie for them once I find Mom's cord to her camera that she lost. Grr!

We came back home after, fed the horses, I did the stall, and blah blah. A few hours later I brought him up to the ring. I gave him a nice long grooming session, then ground drove him. We didn't ground drive too long. Just long enough to get his muscles stretched out without him getting tired. Mom then got behind him and tried it out herself. They did great at the walk but I don't think I've ever seen Mom move as fast as she did when she tried to trot him! LOL! After that, I got back behind him and fixed him. Not that he was broken, but I wanted to get a nice slow trot out of him after Mom was running like a maniac with him!

After that, I tacked him up in his riding gear. We did lots of walking, moving off my leg, circles, ground poles, and our basic warm up. We then did the same thing at the trot. I practiced what I did in my lesson with my Aunt a week ago. I admit it was MUCH harder to do it in our smaller ring but we did it successfully in both directions, moving off my leg both ways. We had some great moments, mostly really good ones, and no bad ones! He was on the bit and his trot felt different to me. It felt more balanced and like I didn't have to use as much energy to hold him up as I normally do so we are moving in the right direction! During our trot work, I threw in a few short canters (we got once around in each direction once and halfway in both directions several times) to let him stretch and to practice refocusing him after I ask for it. He is getting much better at that! He used to get all amped up to the point where I could barely get him to walk after we cantered. Now, we posting trot, sitting trot, canter, sitting trot, posting trot, then walk. Usually once we get back to the spot where I asked him to canter he gets fast but nothing like it used to be. So proud of him!

I have decided to do both the Jumper show and the Dressage Test. Hopefully I will get some babysitting and work at the farm done between now and the Dressage show. I have enough money to pay for it now but I don't want to be left with $50. Oh well. They both will benefit us in different ways and I'll be happy to do them!

-Emily and Jet

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What to do... What to do...

Finally got to ride again yesterday! Before I hopped on, I ground drove Jet. He absolutely loveed it and it seemed to help him stretch out his muscles. This might become a regular thing actually! And this is why...

I ground drove him both directions at the walk and trot, and Mary-Kate did aswell. After, I rode him and he was the best he has ever been! I have no idea what it was! Maybe the time off? Maybe stretching him out by ground driving before? Maybe it was cooler out and at night? Who knows.. all I know is that I had a fantastic ride! He has ever felt better! Straight, slow, long and low! He was constantly on the bit and roudn throughout his BODY and not just his neck! He was stretching up underneath himself and engaging his hind end. Never ever has it come together so well. EVER! He was so straight and the quality of his trot was better than it has been. I was impressed for sure!

Mary-Kate hopped on him after me and he was the same for her as he was for me. I haven't had the pleasure to watch my horse be ridden by too many people. When he was going as well as he was for me, I was interested to see how he would do for Mary-Kate. He looked so great! He definitly tested her at the beginning to see what he could get away with but she knows how to ride and put him in his place. She figured him out pretty quickly. Loose contact, let him find where he is supposed to be, guide him if needed, then once he is going well and asks for the contact, pick it up little by little and push him forward to keep it with your legs and seat. She has been doing this type of work with her Standardbred so they worked together really well.

It was fantastic to see and I was so proud! Here is a crappy pic off of my phone of Mary-Kate and Jet. He was bending around a corner and was a little to the inside still but he was round liek this the whole time!

Today we went to Hobby Horse and rode in the ring. Jet was one sided and only wanted to bend one way at the trot. I think his left side it stiff and he is having trouble bending right because his left side is tight. We will do more suppling and stretching before for sure. We did a few short canters each direction, popped over a crossrail maybe 5 or 6 times, trotted over some ground poles, took him for a walk in the field, then cantered him in the big field. We had lots of walking breaks and he never got extremely hot. We cantered down the long side twice and I got a nice canter out of him! Not a gallop! After I let him loose and we went! I just wanted a fast trot but he broke into the canter. Once I kicked him a little harder than I should have and he let me know he was not happy by kicking out. I'm still worried that something is wrong. It isn't a happy-go-lucky buck like my Aunt guessed. His ears are pinned when we canter. He isn't happy. Something is wrong. Hopefully we will get the chiropractor out here soon.

That being said, we may skip Clover Valley for the groundpole jumpers this Monday and instead go to Flatlands Equestrian Center to do an Intro Test in September. Maybe both? Not sure yet...I will find out tomorrow!

-Emily and Jet

Monday, August 23, 2010

Apology for my Absence

Hello! Sorry I have been well...absent from the blog. A little catching up..

Jet was AMAZING! Straight, slow, and no head in the air! The class was HUGE (10 people and there are usually 6 or 7) and it was in the "scary ring". Last time we showed in this ring was in May and we had a tantrum every time we came near this corner. This time, he was PERFECT! I was able to get deep into all of the corners and then go straight down the rail.

The judge was very fair in the first two classes. I agreed with the placings and felt that everyone got what they deserved. We placed 4th in Equitation! (Surprising since I usually never place high since he is usually a dink). The people that placed above me were the ones that usually do plus a horse that was in the first show but not any others. They really deserved to be placed above me.

In pleasure we placed 5th! He was trotting and then dead stopped and pooped right in front of the judge...Oh Jet.. He was being so good too! That class was crazy.. three of the horses were cantering like crazy, one wouldn't trot, and then you had those that were perfect, and then Jet who was excellent besides his pooping. I was surprised when we got called for 5th!

In trail, he was amazing! Trotted over one pole, went through the backup with a bit of fuss but we did it, no problem with the bridge, didn't blink an eye at the mail box, and then there was the pin wheel. We had to trot around four poles in a pinwheel shape. Jet tried very hard for me and I was proud of him. We completely missed the third pole the first time but he was trying and that was all that counts! No sure how we placed...

Discipline rail was crazy. You would have thought that the judge would have remember the pleasure class and would go easy on us but no. One of the commands was, "Put you reins in your left hand, put your right hand behind your back, and trot." Are you crazy?! 10 GREEN horses, half of them cantered in the last class and you want us to do this? talk about dangerous! But Jet was PERFECT! We placed 5th in the class but both I and people on the rail agreed that I should have been placed in the top three but it's not about the ribbons. I was proud of him and we had a great day!

I gave Jet a few days off, then did a light ride on Tuesday I think. Thursday Natalie came over and we rode Jet. I worked on straight and just got him warmed up and then Natalie popped on him. They did really well! Jet definitely tested her at the beginning and tried to see what he could get away with. She started to teach him how to turn on the haunches and he responded really well! that is definitely something I will continue to work on! We then set up some ground poles and Natalie took him oer them at both the trot and the canter! Jet was really good. It took him a bit to figure out the striding but he got it! We took him for a walk around the street and ended it on that.

Saturday I took him for a lesson at my Aunt's house. We worked a lot at the trot and I was surprised with what he accomplished. She had us take a corner wide, then move him over with my outside leg, then take a corner short, and move him to the rail with my inside leg. It made him much more responsive to my leg when I asked him to move straight. She said that he thinks he knows what he is supposed to do, so he thinks ahead and does it. This makes him unresponsive to my aids because he think he is doing what I will ask. Doing things like this will supple him and make him listen to my aids more. After the lesson, he wasn't even hot so we went for a canter around her field. He was very good! He kicked out to the side once and it was because he wanted to go see Elsa who was walking away from him. Besides that, he was very good. I got two or three really nice canter strides out of him but I admit that the rest of it was basically a hand gallop. With time he will get better.

Yesterday and today has been non-stop rain. Uggh. We were going to do the Clover Valley Jumper show today but thankfully it got post-poned to next Monday. We are going to do ground pole jumpers! Ha ha. I just want to take him to new places and teach him that not every time we go out we will be doing the same thing. We will go nice and slow the first round then pick up the speed if I think he can handle it is we make it to the jump-off. There are only two classes so it won't be too much. I will post more often now!

I am adding new pictures to the picture page so check them out!!!

-Em and Jet

Friday, August 13, 2010

What is this? Listening?

Today was a...surprising day! Jet was actually...listening! What a change!

We started off on a loose rein just walking around. I then picked up the contact and made a circle spiral and we did it in and out in each direction. I moved on to the rail and had him go straight, bend around my inside leg on the corners, then straight again. I then asked him to move off the rail with my outside leg and he responded well to that aswell. We did some circles in the corners, figure eights, etc. to help him stretch all of his muscles.

We then worked at the trot and I focused on STRAIGHT and wait. Once I got him straight, I would half halt, gather him up, then ask him to step larger. If his beat changed, I would bring him back and pick him up again. Eventually we were going the same pace, with a bigger stride, going STRAIGHT all the way around the ring! Going his good direction he even got on the bit! He really surprised me for sure!

After going in each direction several times and being satisfied, I worked on turning on the forehand. We have played around with this before but only a step at a time. Today I asked him to go half way around each direction and he did so well! Doing this exercise is helping me figure out how he responds when I ask him to move his hind end. I am finally figuring out where he likes to be asked and where he responds the most, etc. Hopefully this will help for the show on Sunday!

Tomorrow is going to be hectic. So much going on and not just horse-related. I may not get aroudn to posting tomorrow but I'll definately post after the show!

-Emily and Jet

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Sorry I haven't posted in a while! I have been up in Maine for the past few days so there was nothing really to update about. Anyways, now that I'm back...

I rode Jet yesterday at Mary-Kate's house. We did a lot of walking and trotting with a short canter in each direction. We then popped over a small crossrail a few times. He was really good! We had to stretch out a bit before I could really ask him to do anything. I was SO surprised at how straight he was going!! It was amazing! I didn't ask him for too much since he had been off for a while but I worked on going straight, then moving off my leg, circles, ect. He field is a small small hill so the slight incline helped him move underneath himself.

Our canter wasn't pretty at all and I am going to lay off of it for a while. I am going to try to have a massouse out here and take a loook at him. I think something, somewhere is btohering him. He only kicked once, but his ears were pinned the entire time. He was willing and kept going when I asked but he only did it because I am mommy.  It isn't typical of his tempermant for him to do things like kicking out so that is why it is bothering me. Hopefully we can schedule something with our friend who is a massouse and see what she thinks.

I am also questioning a few other things. Maybe the saddle isn't fitting quite right since he has been getting more muscled. I am going to try free lunging him and seeing if he still kicks out at the canter. Maybe his old suspensory injury is bothering him? Who knows... Hopefully it is an easy fix and nothing too serious.

I got a job! I am working for a woman in town at her barn to help with barn chores and maintenence. Today we picked paddocks and painted part of her ring fence. It wasn't too exciting but I got to work with Mary-Kate which was fun! She really helped me out and showed me the ropes. Hopefully if I work regularly for her, I will make about $450 a month. I would put $50 a month away for vet bills, farrier, emergency, etc. just so if money got tight or something came up, there would be money right there. I will also pay for all of my show fees, get a new show helmet, and put the rest into savings. The woman talked about us working for her next year so the job looks promising!

No ride today. It was to hot, then it rained. I will definately ride tomorrow, ride at my Aunt's house on Saturday, then go to the Haskins show on Sunday. More updates to come!

-Emily and Jet

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rehoboth Fair 2010

I had an awesome time at the fair yesterday! Mary-Kate ended up not going because Katie refused to get on the trailer for 3 hours. So I went all by myself but Mary-Kate came to watch. Jacqie and Kate brought Hunter and Bella and did the wtc division and games. Go to to see how they did!

Jet was a super star! The judge, however, was not a great one. Everyone complained about her, not just me. I wasn't in it for the ribbons but placing people that were on the wrong diagnol and breaking above people that were on the right diagnol and not breaking just because they were in proper show attire was unfair. The only required attired were boots with a heel and a helmet. Who knows... I got there at about 8:55am since Katie wouldn't load. I was afraid I would miss my first class but like always, the fair was running late and I had a 30 minute wait until it started.

Our first class was In-Hand. There were 14 people in the class and we ended up placing 3rd!! The flat classes were...horrible honestly. Jet was perfect but the geniuses running the fair combined Jr. walk trot with Jr. leadline so we only trotted around the ring halfway in each direction! Jet's walk isn't the best so we never really had our chance to shine. I was upset that they did that but what are you going to do..Jet has NEVER been as good in the show ring as he was yesterday!No nose in the air, slow, and straight! YAY! He wasn't too pleased with one side of the ring what was particularly deep so we stayed off the rail on that side. I was thrilled with him and his overall behavior at the show. It keeps getting better each time! Our of 9, we ended up placing 5th in Equitation (even my family, friends, and bystanders couldn't figure out this one...Jackets places above polos. I'm not upset about it, I just want to know what I did wrong), didn't place in Pleasure, 4th in Crossrails(FIRST CROSSRAIL CLASS EVER!), and 3rd in horsemenship! He was awesome in the crossrail! It was a simple one time around the ring with four jumps on the rail. In our warm up I got left behind on almost every jump because he jumped them huge so when I went to go into my class, I was expecting the jump and instead he trotted over the first three. So I looked like an idiot for getting into a jumping position. And the last jump he actually jumped and cantered away and I got left behind. Not bad for our first over fences class ever! I was SO proud of him! No refusuals or even looking at the jumps! (I have both the warm up and class on video)

The games were so much fun! We did Mint Julip, Barrel Race, Izzy Dizzy race, and Boots and Saddle race. There were about 15-20 people in Mint Julip. We had to walk and trot on the rail like a normal class. Whoever had the most water at the end of the class won. He was so much better than I expected him to be! When we practiced this, he was flying around the ring sideways everytime he got a drop of water on him. At the show he was slow and listening to my one-handed odd steering! I went into a half seat after my Mom suggested it after we trotted around once at the trot. All of the water I lost was during that trotting time. Once I got into the halfseat at the trot going the second direction, we didn't spill a drop! We placed 3rd! (I have a short video of this class)

There were atleast 20 people in the barrel race. This included real barrelers, jumpers with speed, and some good competition! I was in it for the fun and not to win so I was excited to see everyone racing around the barrels. To get his legs warmed up and his rear in gear, we galloped around a field. After that we went into the class. When I asked him to go, he gave me a super fast trot instead! So we trotted the first barrel and to the second barrel. He picked up the canter and made a wide turn around the second, broke from the canter, trotted to the third, and galloped home. If we would have trotted the whole thing until the final turn, we would have won. Our time was around 22 seconds. (I have a video too!) It was funny because his trot was faster than almost all of the other horses' gallops! We placed 3RD!! I was so surprised!

Next class was Izzy DIzzy. You had to gallop down to the opposite side of the ring, dismount(there was someone there to hold your horse), then you had to put your head on a baseball bat and spin around 5 times, then run back to the start. There was about 15-20 people in this. We watched most of the people go(it was HILARIOUS! Jacqie fell down, Kate ran in the wrong direction, and a few other people were pretty funny too!). I got him ready to go, then galloped down there, had some trouble getting off (overshot the person), eventually got off, then either had my head on the bat or the bat on the bucket(it was a short bat so it had to be on a bucket instead of the ground) but never both. I stood up, figured out where I was, then ran back as fast as I could. We won this class! (I have a video of it too)

The last class was the Boots and Saddle race. Everyone doing it(about 8 people) put their boots in a pile at one side of the ring. We then had to mount up in our socks and ride to the other side of the ring and wait for the go. Every person in the race had their own individual horse holder to hold their horse. We had to race (at the same time) to the pile of boots, dismount, find your own boots in the pile, put them on, then run back. My friend Ashlee and I challenged eachother so it was on! I was smart enough to pick a spot across from the pile of shoes so I wouldn't have to run over once I got off. They said go ann we galloped down there! I got off (was smart enough to use my paddock boots and not my tall boots for this) found them pretty easily, then put them halfway on before I saw other people just about to start running, then decided to run with them halfway on and we won! It was a fun time!

Overall it was a great show! I had a blast in the games, not to thrilled about the regular classes but it was a great experience for Jet. He has never done this many classes before and I was very proud of him! Pictures and videos up soon!

So in conclusion:
Rehoboth Fair Horse Show Results:
Open Horse or Pony In-Hand- 3rd out of 14
Jr. Walk-Trot Equitation- 5th out of 9
Jr. Walk-Trot Pleasure- Did not place
Jr. Walk-Trot Crossrails- 4th out of 7
Jr. Walk Trot Horsemanship- 3rd out of 9
Mint Julip Class- 3rd out of 15-20
Coverleaf Race- 3rd out of over 20
Izzy Dizzy Race- 1st out of about 15
Boots and Saddle Race- 1st out of 8


-Em and Jet

Monday, August 2, 2010

Groundpoles, Hills, and Improvement

Yesterday while Mary-Kate was over, I set up some ground poles in the ring to work Jet over. We did our walking warm up and went into the trot. At first, he was super confused on how to get over them. He would jump them, try to avoid them, almost step on them, but by the fourth time around, he got it. He started trotting over them PERFECTLY! We did this in each direction for a while. He started asking for connection on the bit, and he was moving straighter than he normally was. I was thrilled with the ride so far and decided to ask for the canter. We trotted the first ground pole, picked up the canter over it, then cantered the second pole (it was set up as a bounce). He got the hang of this and thought it would be more fun to pick up the canter before the first one and just canter the poles so we did that a few times in each direction as well! I noticed that when we did this, it helped with his canter transitions and the quality of his canter aswell. It was a more distinct three beat. I think that he was more balanced and listening to my seat so I could help him more which resulted in a nicer canter. We then practiced for the Mint Julip Class which we will be in at the fair on Friday. This is when you hold a glass of water and go around at the walk and trot and the person who has the most water at the end of the class wins. It was... interesting. Once a bit of water fell on him, he thought the cup was the cup of doom and was trying to run away from it. I eventually ran out fo water but I kept the cup in my hand and practiced riding with it empty. He calmed down after a while so I called it quits. After our cup of water expedition, we went for a walk around the street. my street is a horse-shoe with hills on both sides of the U. So we went up and down the hills at a walk a few times to help develop his hind end. I hosed him off and let him have a bit of grass once he was cooled out for being such a good boy!
Today I wanted to accomplish a few things.
-Getting underneath himself
-Me controlling the pace of the trot
- and Practice barrels for the barrel race this Friday

Let me tell you, he BLEW ME AWAY today. I don't think he has ever been so straight or round before. It was really really nice to ride but I felt like we weren't forward enough. I had him coiled, slow, and round, but I needed to take that and lengthen his stride more. I think he wa s abit behind my leg. Something to work on tomorrow.. Anyways, He was getting into the corners, listening to my leg and seat, and asking for connection to the bit again! We did alot of walking and trotting then practiced the barrels. I did it three times at the walk at first(sitting trot home). I think the more I do it, even at a walk, the more he will remember the pattern and he will know what to expect. We then did it at a slow sitting trot(posting trot home), then at a posting trot (canter home). after a few times, he knew that once I turned him into the fence then turned him around, it meant go time! his ears perked up and he was off! I gets excited when he has fun! We trotted the first one, cantered around the second one, trotted to the third, then galloped home. I did this once more then called it a day. We went for another walk around the street then I hopped on him bareback to help me feel how he moves. He was really good and did a longer trot than the last time we trotted bareback. He was such a good boy! I cooled him down, practiced a bit for in-hand, then let him eat some grass. Gotta love my boy! So, goals:
-Straight *Accomplished
-Getting underneath himself  *Somewhat accomplished
-Me controlling the pace of the trot  *We got the slow down, now need the forward (not fast, forward)
- and Practice barrels for the barrel race this Friday *Accomplished

Tomorrow I am not sure what we are going to do. I'll post after though!

-Em and Jet