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

Friday, March 5, 2010

Stretch! Collection? Trails.

In the past few days, we have accomplished a lot. We are working on him balancing himself vs. me holding him up because from there, I can get him collected. How can you collect a horse that can't balance on its own? If you find out, let me know.

So I gave him Monday off after everything that went on during Sunday. Tuesday... we worked on a very loose rein so he could stretch his head and back. He was listening to my seat and legs since my reins were loose which was quite an improvement from Sunday already. We did the usual, circles, serpentines, figure eights, walking faster, slower, etc. I started to teach him to actually stop and stand when I ask him to and not move until I tell him to. He knows how to, but he is very impatient. We did lots of trotting work on a loose reins and the last few laps were on a tighter rein asking for a little collection.

Wednesday was snowing... ugh. It's March. Let spring come soon! We had another great ride. I started on a loose rein and let him balance himself. I only directed him where to go if my leg and seat aids were not strong enough. We did a bit more trotting work than on Tuesday and added in some circles at the trot and a change of direction. My ring is TINY. Like... 80' by 75'. Yeah, that tiny. So it is like you are already circling the entire time you are in there. Everything is harder in a smaller ring which means that if we can conquer something in our ring, it will be that much easier in a larger ring. After I was satisfied with the way he was going, I took him for a walk around the neighborhood. We went up and down hills on the road and went trotitng up a steep hill in my neighbor's yard.

Thursday was still icky weather. We did even more trotting. I let him stretch at first like I always do but that day I asked for some collection here and there. He was awesome! It wasn't much but it was enough that I could feel the difference. After we walked like this, I pushed him into the trot using my seat. Sitting the trot bareback is one of my favorite things but I like posting in the saddle. But... I forced myself into a sitting trot so I could feel how he was moving. He is different than any other horse I have ridden. He is definately smooth but it feels different. I will try to describe it later. After he was working extreemly well in the ring, we went back out for a walk. He loves going for walks!! Even if we were working for hours and hours, I am sure he would still be up for a walk to a new and interesting place. He cracks me up sometimes. He acts like he is about to drop dead but as soon as the gate opens to go out he magically is all better and not tired. Silly horse!

Today was an AMAZING ride, best one of the week. I worked with him inhand first. This is my space... not yours. I have a bubble, please stay out of it. I know you love me and all but I do not appreciate a half ton animal plowing me over. Thank you. Sheesh! Once that was all settled, I hopped on him and we practiced our halt and back up. He stood for about 30 seconds each time I asked. Never took a step when I didn't tell him too. What a good boy! Abby has been riding Elsa and I have ridden with her several times this week. She was finishing up her ride when I got up to the ring so we walked together while Jet stretched and Elsa was taking a break. After about 15 minutes of walking, we trotted together. Jet stayed on the rail, was bending, moving off my leg, listening to my seat, and he is frequently arching his neck now instead of just stretching down! He looks and feels really good when he does this. After Elsa trotted for some time, Abby dismounted and walked her out, then left to go brush her. He looked around for her for a few minutes but settled down just fine. I decided to go for a walk again. This time I wanted to go to the "back field." It is across the street, through the neighbor's back yard, through the woods, and into a field, that leads to another field with paths that go into the woods. Confused yet? I am. hehe. Anyways, I let them know where I was going and made sure I had my phone. Just incase. You never know! So I walked through the neighbor's backyard and into the woods to be greeted by about 10 slanted trees. Not massive trees, little ones that I can grasp in my hand. But man...they are annoying when they hit you in the face!! We finally made it out of the tree-ridden trail and into the field. He looked around a bit. When we had him a few years ago, we would go back there atleast once a week. He was fine so I decided to trot around to the next field. He was great! He was listening to what I was asking him to do and where I was asking him to go. I say asking for a reason... I am not telling him to do this. If I was telling him to, he would HAVE to listen all the time and I would be a dictator. Well guess what. Tyrancy always fails... we work together as a team. He asks me for things, and I ask him for things. We make a good team in my opinion =) So we got to a massive puddle. I asked him to go through it and he went right through!! What a good boy! We got to the second field and trotted around some more. We went down a few paths. They all lead back into the field so we would go in one, then to the next one. I let him walk for  about 5 minutes to take a break from trotting and to get him paying attention. He spooked once or twice because Patch (the dog) decided that it would be fun to run around Jet in the trails. Oh joy... he would freeze, then bolt about 10 feet in 0.0000001 second and then he would be like, "Oh my godness, I'm so sorry I did that Mom!" After he settled back down, we reached the straightaway path. I picked up a trot... got into a half seat sorta thing, and asked for a canter. Oh boy, his canter is smooth as butter! He ran into it but I didn't mind at all. He kept it for about 10 strides and then I asked him to walk. We turned around and did the same thing going the other way down the path. After this, we walked to cool out a bit. We walked back to the first field and he decided that since we were heading home, he didn't have to listen. Wrong. So we worked some more right infront of the opening to the woods. Once he was listening, we went back home. He was a little sweaty so I walked him out undersaddle, then I got off, took his tack off, walked him around in the ring, then went and got Biscuit and walked both of them together around the neighborhood.

What a nice day =) It was warm, the sun was shining. Ahhh... this is how it should be! Tomorrow AND Sunday we are going to truck down to Hobby Horse Farm again. Saturday for just the indoor and maybe on Sunday we will go for a trail ride too. I will post after I get home from HHF both days =) Maybe with some video and better pictures! Yay!

Talk soon!

-Em and the ponies.