I haven’t been doing as much of the riding on Raymond as I should because he is the easiest in the barn so I can pawn him off to everybody else to exercise. Exercise and true training is a different thing though so I realized I really needed to get a bit more serious. I had noticed that he was just really stuck in the trot with other people riding so I picked up Mr. Dressage Whip. Ha, I will tell you he didn’t even consider not going forward 🙂 Such a smart boy! I refuse to work that hard when I ride so installing that forward button is necessary.
I don’t mind horses who take some leg because most people prefer them to the hotter type but it is really important to have a horse that is going forward when you are teaching them how to stretch over the back. You can’t just ride the “front” of the horse and pull them into a frame. They have to push from behind into a steady contact. I knew he was ready for this because he is getting fitter and stronger.
I worked a while at the walk just doing a nice marching walk and some baby lateral work asking him to yield to the pressure of the contact. He fussed, pulled and gave a lot of excuses but there were some great moments. Then we went up to the trot and we gave every evasion in the book- rushing, breaking to the canter, leaning, pulling, rooting, going super duper slow and just general confusion. I think this is always the hardest part of babies because you have to be strong in your position. I just kept him marching forward and kept my elbows bent and the contact steady. When he pulled then I kicked. If he came above then I raised my hands and followed him there letting him know the contact stays the same. Very methodical just softening every time he softened as his reward so he could figure out what I was asking him to do. He was able to hold it longer and longer.
By the end of the ride he was a different horse. I sure wish I had some video but I will do some this weekend. He is a lovely mover and is so smart. He figures things out so quickly. I can guarantee the next ride is going to be easier than the last. He is so flexible and just gives you a really nice feel.
I have been working on the same thing with Love as well and you guys are just not going to believe the difference when I get around to posting some video. He is going like a different horse. I was so proud of him on the last ride because his whole body has changed as he has started to work from behind, reach with his shoulder and soften his topline. He is a really athletic horse and very athletic. I think he is going to surprise everybody with his transformation. Getting him to bend has been the challenge because he is pretty stuck in his body but he is starting to figure it out. When he gets it then it feels great.
I find that lunge whips are as important as dressage whips. I’m a type of person that believes forward is absolutely the #1 thing that you must install on all horses. Let’s just say that my experience has shown that if you don’t have forward than you are likely setting yourself up for failure especially if you have a naughty horse 🙂 They have to learn to respect the voice, legs and whip. You have to be able to go forward to ride them down. I can always take a horse that wants to be a bit simple and use a bit of flexion and bending to get them to focus but if you can’t go forward than it’s hard to do those things. Furthermore, if you have a horse who wants to buck, prop, rear, spook than you must be able to send them forward.
Bling is an interesting horse because he is just so relaxed but also has a hint of I’m scared running under the surface. I did some free lunging/jumping with him and he was pretty well convinced he could not go over the poles. Combined with his general lack of forward under saddle I decided to go back to groundwork.
I have been doing lunging sessions with him and really working on voice command and getting him to go forward when I ask him to. I have had to use the whip in a sharp manner sometimes giving him a sharp tap but he has to respect that I really mean GO. I use my voice first. Then repeat and then sharp whip. I will do the same under saddle so he needs to learn what is expected now.
He figured it out pretty quick but he is just sort of a lazy type. I think that will change. I put out a cavaletti and started walking him over that in hand. He would stand in front of it looking confused. Not necessarily scared but he did tremble so I think maybe he was. He is a bit hard to read because he doesn’t look worried but he could be internalizing. I walked him over in hand and then lunged him over at the walk and the trot. Then I made it a bit higher and he stopped again very confused but then walked over.
I began to walk him over all the jumps in the ring in hand and it was a bit of a chore. He just didn’t want to go so I had my lunge whip and I gently tapped to keep his feet moving. If he stopped in front of the jump square then I stopped tapping. That was his safe place. Step around and he got tapped gently on the hindquarters to bring him back square to the jump. Then I would give him a minute to think but if he didn’t walk over then I would start gently tapping again.
He got more confident as he went but I think that this is going to be part of our routine for a while. I don’t think he is scared of the jumps but worried about the mechanics of how to move his feet. Sounds silly but that is what I see. Groundwork will be essential to building his confidence.
He is such a sweet horse. He is by the same sire as Mort Robbins (unusual heat) and Mort was the same sort of horse. Super sweet but took a while to install some work ethic. I just saw that Mort now called Morton placed 3rd in the Novice division at Virginia Horse Trials with Lauren Kieffer. Go Mort!!!!!!
Bling is even bigger than Mort at 16.3 and just wide in the body. He is so kind and follows me around like a big dog. He likes humans way more than he likes horses 🙂 He is still scared of the other boys. Whenever they come near him he runs the other way. Poor Bling. I was thinking maybe because he came from California he never learned social skills. He is doing better but biggest whimp in the field that I have ever seen.
This weekend is going to be picture and video day so that I can get these horses advertised (Raymond and Love).
I also brought home Gavilan Peak from the layup farm because he is working a nasty abscess. He needed some stall rest to help him heal up. They were sad to see him go because he is the farm favorite. I totally see why. So sweet and just perfect to work on. This guy is pretty interesting because he is really small for a TB. He is 15.1ish at the withers but 14.3 at the back. Despite being small he won some races. I think he is growing right now but he will still be a small horse (he is a 4yr). He is really athletic and I think he will make a nice event horse for somebody wanting something smaller. He was called “my little pony” at the farm being the small guy in a field full of big ottbs. You can’t help but to want to cuddle with him.
Busy at the farm!