Horses in new homes and starting over again

I have gotten super updates on Diamond and Shoes. Shoe’s new owner has been taking him off the farm to ride and says he is smart and only gets better each time. She really liked him when she flew in to see him but I can imagine she had a lot of time to worry about whether it was the right decision or now. I think she has fallen in love 🙂 He has the best personality and work ethic so I figured they would be a great match.

Speaking of personality, Mort has turned into such a different horse. He actually has a personality now and he thrives on all the attention. I have been trying to get him to eat these regular treats since he arrived but he was strictly a carrot type of guy. Tonight I tried again and he actually took one and chewed and then you could see him figuring out they were actually yummy. Funny how such a little thing can make you smile but sometimes I swear these moments are why I do what I do.

I also had a fantastic session with the young horse that I am working with for a client. I don’t think I told his story but I am short on CANTER horse material so why not.

I put up all the Delaware Park listings and this guy was one of our listings.

He was a very big 2yr with a bit of an attitude and a bad reputation for being a tough ride. I really loved his pics but we were full and I did not need a 2yr. As the world turns he ended up with a lovely woman who was boarding at my mom’s barn. This was her first adventure back into horses after college and she was doing her best to bring him along.

I have had a few horses that have come into CANTER and basically felt like they were barely broke. No steering, no forward button and just piggish behavior. It’s typically the young horses who haven’t spent enough time at the track getting the miles and rides needed (should I also say the necessary discipline that comes with teaching babies the rules). This guy is very much like a barely broke horse but he has an enormous stride which makes it all that more complicated to kick him around like you need to do with these types. His owner had not brought along a green horse before. I would say there are different levels of green and he was the absolute barely broke type of green. Regardless of his talent she probably would have been trying for a very long time to get him going and just ending up frustrated. His bad behavior also wasn’t helping matters in terms of handling him on the ground. A really big horse like this with no concept of boundaries is tough to work with.

We ended up doing a trade and she is really enjoying the super awesome horse, Meadow Mobster. Mobster has a year of baby novice, trail riding, dressage and more under his belt and she can get on and go.

I have taken this guy back to step one. Knock on wood, I have not had one little bit of behavior so far so I haven’t had any real opportunity to evaluate that side of him but like all horse it will come out sooner or later. I was lucky enough to see him go a few times when she had brought him over to my farm and also on a paper chase. She did a really good job getting him out and about. I wanted to start to install some of the missing buttons.

Forward is the key button in my opinion. We all assume racehorse know how to go forward but that is often not the case. One of my favorite ways of working on this is going back to the groundwork. I like to use voice commands while lunging so that I can tie them in while ride. She did a great job teaching him to lunge so now I have been working on smooch means go forward. This can be tough because I really want him to GO. Right now we are doing a lot of transitions from walk to trot and when I say trot and smooch he must go. If he doesn’t then I will use the whip on him lightly. He is super smart and has learned this concept quick!

I had lunged in side reins and today we lunged in a loose pessoa rig. Just letting him get the idea of how to use his parts without worrying about a rider.

My rides have been very short and sweet. I’m not worrying about anything but forward and teaching him leg can mean move over. The first few rides were so hilarious. Major gate issues and just zero steering. I felt like a pony club kid kicking this big horse around and him going lalalala I can’t hear you.

He is not allowed to use the sides of the rings at all! That was rule number one. Don’t let them rely on the rail. I taught him how to do square turns and little baby lateral work. He is quite stiff because he doesn’t know that he can move off the leg yet but he is smart and is starting to figure that out. He quickly figured out that I am very mean because when I say go and he doesn’t he gets the dressage whip in a very hard fashion. It’s not about being friends right now. He needs to respect a very light leg. When I got after him he went flying forward and then did a half attempt at a buck and throwing his head down. Whack when the whip again and one hand on the neck strap. You have to reward the going forward but yanking the head down is not allowed. If he would have bolted off then I would have rewarded him. We repeated a bunch of transitions and he got so good that I just had to whisper with the leg and he was marching into the trot.

I am very aware of the clock and keeping the sessions short and sweet. You can tell he mentally wears down after 20 min and then everything falls apart. It’s important to have an idea of what your goals are going to be for the ride and if you accomplish them in 10 min then great maybe that is all you do for the day and then go for a little hack around the farm. Reward the good behavior!

I was a little worried I might have gotten in over my head with him but we were prepared to move him along to someone else if he proved to be tough. So far that hasn’t been the case so I think we shall be just fine. I am really used to tough horses and having to be firm about ground rules. I think this guy just needed some structure in his life. It was quite interesting tonight as I was lunging him because Mort/Junior were squealing and he got all puffed up. His 16.3 h 3yr self turns into 18h of huge trot, snorting and blowing. He wanted to do something but I kept him going forward on the lunge and did a spiral in and out on the circle making him focus. He quickly focused again on what we were doing but you can see how intimidating he could be. It’s important for me to put the basics in now so he respects me. It requires every bit of my attention with him and I am super aware not to let my guard down. I have been warned by his owner that he can be quick with a hind leg and will kick.

My plan will be to take him to several shows just to hang out. We will go and lunge and just see the sights. I want him to learn to take everything in without feeling the need to panic. I need him to learn to focus on me. When I have all my basics such a forward, steering and some sort of ability to ride him forward and down in the bridle then we will adventure out and about. I don’t like to take them out when they are still in the no concept of contact stage because then when they do get worried you have no ability to use your flatwork to release the tension.

Here is a video of him the first day he arrived at my farm. He has been off the track since Oct of 2010 and is now a 3yr.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfR4M6lFIns

I know his former owner was really sad about how things turned out and I really feel for her. There is just so much that goes into bringing along green horses especially horses who are just so athletic and tend to use that against you. No matter how talented the horse is there comes a point where you have to stop and evaluate where things are going. I think this particular horse is not yet an amateur’s horse. I have gotten plenty of young horses who are super easy and just go around like they have been doing it forever with no fuss. Then you get some that need someone who is always one step ahead of their every move to keep them on task and to keep the work progressing. I am far from perfect but I have a vast amount of experience with these types of horses.

I do think she has fallen in love with her new horse who is super fun. She should be out and about eventing and having fun this fall. I hope she has no regret because she has a horse that she can just go out and learn on. The one thing about a greenie is that you can’t focus on yourself! I am really excited to have this horse in my barn. He is a challenge but I LOVE a challenge. He has all the talent in the world so my job is to nurture it.

I am back to just trying to trot straight lines around the ring 🙂 Have to say that I really love this part of the process. Some people find these total greenies a bit boring but for me each and every day is an opportunity to teach them something. The learning curve is only upward at this stage and that sure is fun.

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3 responses to “Horses in new homes and starting over again

  1. Wow, he has some really lovely movement! But, yes, he is BIG and athletic and I can’t imagine that a green rider would be able to bring along a 2 year OTTB, especially one as powerful as he is. Good luck, I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun with him!

  2. Emily Kocubinski

    I remember seeing this horse listed on Canter and thought he looked amazing… he was sold before I got a chance to go look at him though. Best of luck with him, he looks like a super nice horse!

  3. Wish I had room for a couple extras. This horse and Cyber Gray Vette are calling out to me. I have an ex racer (appendix) I’m working with at the moment, when he goes home or is sold I would love to talk to you about some of yours.

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