One of my favorite things about working with these horses who come off the track is watching them change shape. I remember when Dixie arrived and he looked like a yak with all this long hair and he had no muscle at all. His neck was pencil thin and he wasn’t the most attractive horse I had ever seen.
I was browsing through some pictures that we had taken last night and it is so neat to see the amount of muscle he has gained. Check out his neck and look at that hind end! Big difference.
We took some video yesterday so hopefully I can get that together tonight and post it. I have to admit I felt like my ride was better than my pictures show. I have been taking lessons with a new instructor who has really helped me out a lot. One thing she stresses is making your ride count. Basically, I am a bit to nice when it comes to the training and although it is good that I ride softly I am not asking for enough. During my last lesson with Dixie she reallys said I need to work harder at passively resisting when he wanted to hollow out and pull. Sit up and add the leg and say no you must come here. He has really come along and I do believe we are doing better but I always see things I can improve on. I suppose that is the purpose of pics and video right ?? 🙂 For example, in some of the pictures I am sitting up nice and tall and carrying my hands with a bend in my elbow. I can see in others where I am allowing him to get to low and on the forehand and lean on my hands and other pics where I am allowing him to be above and I need to add the leg and get him a bit more supple in the neck.
Dixie has a very good natural balance but he needs to become a bit more supple laterally which will allow him to come across his back better. I have been working on a lot of lateral work via leg yeilds, shoulder in, haunches in and more. I like using the circles and switching back between shoulder in and haunches in or just overbend slightly and then counterbend. He gets a bit frustrated because it is hard work but it makes a big difference.
One difference I notice is he is becoming more supple on that right side. This had improved his canter and we can now canter a circle right without feeling like we are going to tip over. Sometimes it is easy to forget that he only has a few months of training on him because he is further along that some of the young horses would be at this point.
I have started to be stricter on myself about incorporating jumping into every ride. Like many others I often do not have any help in setting fences so it is a major pain to get off and fix fences multiple times. I like to start him off low and get his confidence up and then build up the height. When I don’t do this it can back him off but that is normal for a young horse. For example, last night I did have help so I warmed up over a few x-rails and then a vertical. Then we slowly built up a small oxer to a bigger oxer to make sure he was comfortable with each step of the process. He is very relaxed about the jumps and never in a hurry but he tends to be slow off the ground which illustrates my bad habit of wanting to over fold. I end up jumping ahead because he leaves the ground slower than most of my horses. Ha, this will fix that habit!
Here are some more pictures of him for last nights ride.