Lots of new stuff

I am posting an email from Rosey’s new owners who took her on a judged trail ride this weekend. I am super impressed Rosey was able to navigate that course which sounds beyond scary to me!

You would have been proud!!!!!
What a good girl…very impressed with her courage.
Im listing the 15 judged events:
1. Find the man hiding in the trees and ask him how many deer he’d seen today. (He was hiding by event # 6 which was a standing log jump…..he was in the trees as we sailed over the jump…tricky)
2.Turn on the forhad 360 degrees with in a painted circle.
3.remove clothes pins with ribbons blowing from trees and move them to another tree (not too tough but a little hairy with the flappy colors)
4. (OMG this one) stay within a small fenced area in the formation of a Z…..pushing a huge white ballwith a broom!  YOu have to keep the broom and the ball ahead of you while you manuver thru the fenced zigzag.
      She got a lot of praise for this!  She was blowing, hopping, reversing,snorting…..but we did it!
5. trot by 3 stuffed deers and shoot a nurf gun balls at them.  lol
6. step over stacked logs…or pop it at a walk (which is what we did)
7. climb a 12 foot hill, quielty down the other side, then walk over a mattress, 4 foot piece of shiny glittery material, and then step on a plank of tin.
(she did a rosie dance but made it thru with a few extra beads of sweat)
8.The enchanted forest………..not so good.  Had to walk thru a large curtain of strung beads, listening to howling wolves, crows and goblin noises.  Pass thru a herd of goats and reach down into a crinkly bag of animal crackers.
Did everyting but the beads
9.  dismount, rub horse with a plastic bag attached to a stick, remount with out the horse moving.
fabulouse job
10.throw 3 tennis balls thru a huge wooden horse’s mouth.  Scary with the balls winging by her eyes, but we did all 3.
11. Walk across a board that teeter/tooters as they step on it.     She followed my paint horse……she was a little jittery but we made it.
12. throw a lariat over a steer head on a stack of hay. 
13. (OMG!!!!)  walk thru the woods to encounter 2 huge Christmasblowup figures with the motors buzzing to keep them blown up.   She was a little wiggy…but we made it passed them with out incident.  🙂
14. (SHe was a Champ at this one)  Walk into a large pool of murky water.  Have a long rope handed to you with a 4 foot blown up aligator attached that you have to drag behind you as you walk thru the water!
       This was tough for many horses!!!  Rosie pranced thru the water with that gater following her like she was in a parade. lol   awsome.
15.  This was horrible.  They put 2 vertical posts 6 feet apart.  6 holes each side with pool noodles sticking out horizontally like wiggly posts.  We had to walk thru this (but there was no visual opening.  You had to convince your horse he/she could go thru these without being eaten by the noodle gobbler).. I had Brooke stand directly on the other side and slowly walk away.  Rosie thought she was being left behind, so she only fought for a minute…..then charged thru!
Over the past two days I have been working to create a jump chute to work the two 3 yrs through. When horses are young you really don’t want to practice jumping a lot of bigger jumps so the free jumping allows them to learn the mechanics of the jump and you can judge their talent without having to stress them to much.
I have never made a true jump chute with a line of grids before so it was an interesting challenge and one that was quite a bit of work. Carrying all the standards, poles and barrels was a good workout. I wasn’t sure how well it would work but it was a work in progress. Sunday we worked Sea Flip through it a few times. He didn’t want to go through the chute by himself so I had to lead him into the top of it and then he would go down. Each time I had to go catch him at the end and bring him back up. Good exercise! I started with just a x-rail and then moved to x-rail and vertical and finally x-rail, vertical and then oxer. He was trying super hard but still a bit backed off.
Yesterday, he went through like he knew the job! I need to work on adjusting the distances and getting him to relax going through but it was super fun to see him go.
I intend to start teaching Escape by Sea (the 3 yr mare) how to do it as well.
Last night I also got the chance to work with Top Punch. He was the lovely 12 yr that came off the track this year and was sold to my friend. She has been having a blast with him trail riding and doing some x-c schools. He is everything she wanted and more which makes me extremely happy because as a seller that is our ultimate goal. I had seen him a week ago during a trail ride and she was bringing him over for me to ride so he could start learning his flatwork.
I think she has taken the right progression with him by first just trail riding him and allowing him to relax and recondition his body. It would have been very tough for him to start hard flatwork right away but now is the right time. Having raced for 10 yrs of his life he really doesn’t have much of a clue about how to soften his topline and work into any sort of contact. When he had been at my place we just rode on a loopy rein and I never asked for anything.
Let me just say that he wasn’t about to understand what I wanted him to do. I spent about 30 min working from the halt and walk trying to get him to soften into the contact. A very steady contact and lots of leg to get him to push into it. He pulled and leaned quite strongly. I was working on moving him laterally off my legs to get him supple in his body and inside leg to outside rein. Although I could get him to yield off the leg at the end of that time frame he was still not even considering softening a little bit.
I made a decision to bring out the draw reins (oh no did I say an evil word :)) I am not one for shortcuts but part of being a good trainer or at least a knowledgable trainer is knowing when to use a tool and I have used draw reins for a session or two on really tough horses just to show them the concept.
I worked about 10 min with the draw reins using the same concepts of inside leg to outside rein and a tiny bit of flexion both inside flexion and counter flexion to really get him loose at the base of his neck and through the topline. Making sure to really use the leg to push him so that I wasn’t just using the draw reins for a “fake” frame. He fought very hard for the first 5 min making me go strictly to the draw rein and not hold my regular rein. Then I felt him start to understand. I could loosen the draw rein and he was now seeking a lower frame and his back had started to loosen.
This was my signal to see what I had with the regular rein. Ahhh…when I picked back up the reins he had already given me a step or two of softeness which was something I didn’t have before. At this point, I had the draw reins knotted and loose just being held in my pinkie finger so not in play. Now I focused on being super steady and just using my legs to push him into this really steady contact. I was explaining to Alison how this contact is actually quite heavy perhaps way heavier than people would imagine it should be but the leg is really pushing the horse into it. The minute he softens then I soften. Wouldn’t you know within 5 min we had a softness in our walk. Then I went to the trot again thinking stay really steady with the contact so if his head goes up close both legs and slightly resist but when he softens then I soften.
OMG do you know what it feels like when a really tight upside down horse all of a sudden comes across the back? It was like he gained another 2 ft in his stride and he was loose and swinging everywhere. He was moving off the leg both directions and stretching down to the hand. I really didn’t think we would be able to achieve that in one ride after he has spent so long going his own way.
I asked Alison to just get on and feel it and she was in shock. She said it was incredible and she couldn’t believe how nicely he moved away fromt he leg and how different he felt. It was great to be on the ground to see him go and he did look like a totally different horse just by going in this different shape. We weren’t asking him to go in a frame just to slightly soften his topline and move off the leg. He had gotten it and I think he was so proud of himself.
I credit my lessons with Mogie Bearden Muller for refining my skills working with young horses on the flat. I really don’t think I understood the concept of being that perfect in terms of offering a steady and consistent contact at all time. It requires you to be that much quicker with your reflexes in catching it so that you are always there to provide the steady feel. Almost feeling the resistance of the horse before it happens and using both legs to send them back to the steady hand. I am far from perfect but I have really improved in terms of being able to make my riding adjustments in a quicker fashion so the contact stays steady.
Punch is coming back over on Friday and I am eager to see if he retained his knowledge. He is one of the classiest horses I have met in a long time. Just so smart and willing to learn. I always feel so rewarded when horses learn the new concepts. Love my job!

4 responses to “Lots of new stuff

  1. Sea Flip is really wonderful. In the first video, you can really see his bascule over the fences! Nice!

  2. How lovely to have word of Top Punch. I just fell in love w/ him while he was with you.

    • He sold to my friend and has the best home. She trail rides him almost everyday either by herself or out with her kids. Hopefully, he will take to foxhunting as that is her true passion. I can’t see why he wouldn’t he just does whatever you ask of him. I just loved him so I am excited I get to do a bit of riding on him.

  3. I’ve been following this blog since about February, starting with your great stories about Dixie, but now I’ve gotta say, Sea Flip is just gorgeous! I can’t wait to hear how he comes along.

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