Monthly Archives: August 2012

Dressage Lesson Day for Letterman and Bling

Letterman is back in work and finally fit enough to start getting a bit serious again. He still needs a  bit more time before he should start jumping so it was the perfect time to get a dressage lesson. I contacted Kelly Mcginn and she said she would travel out if I could get three rides together. My mom came over on her horse (CMA Flint Hill) and I figured I would ride another horse.

I really enjoy taking lessons on the green horses. It is very beneficial for me so that I can have somebody checking in to make sure that I am doing the right things and also to help me be even better. I decided to ride Bling in my lesson as my other personal horse is a bit too green.

I explained to Kelly how I had been riding Bling. When he arrived he had been very curled under and went with his head on his chest. He also had no forward button at all! I immediately went to a bit of ground work to establish the forward button and have also been working on lots of time out of the ring to get him forward. Switched from a metal bit to a herm sprenger duo mullen mouth and just let him go up and out. Didn’t even think about asking him for any sort of work into the contact.

In the last few rides I have just started to ask for a bit of contact and am now working on asking for a tiny bit of lateral work. I don’t want to drill it too much as he is still is gaining muscle and isn’t physically capable of holding it for very long just yet. We have to remember he was let down but basically only getting 1 hr of turnout a day so no real muscle or fitness. They can get very sour if you ask for too much too soon.

I started my lesson out in a metal bit which I had been trying out this week. I wasn’t sure if I liked it but I think he was a bit more rideable in the metal bit (eggbutt jp snaffle with piece in the middle). We did some trot work and she really thought he was right where he needed to be. We worked on a bit of right  bend trying to just get him to push into the left rein. When I went left we used a slight counterbend just again to work on him filling out the left rein and moving off the right leg. She said because he likes to curl that I shouldn’t do anything if he comes above the bit. Just correct him if he goes below the bit by using my leg and hand to bump him up and out.

He really sits so nicely in the hand at the trot that I find it very easy. He is getting quite soft in his body and allowing me to move him a bit laterally. What I still find difficult is the canter. I told her not to laugh at me too much 🙂  Bling is 16.3 and is a big horse. I totally admit that I struggle riding these bigger types so cantering him and making it “correct” is hard for me. He has a huge canter which is absolutely amazing but  because he isn’t strong enough yet and wants to curl it can be hard to balance it up and out. I picked up the canter and Kelly immediately went WOW. She couldn’t get over what a big powerful canter he had. She remarked that he was just like a big warmblood that is finding the balance. He has so much power that he is pushes himself downhill. She had me really focusing on riding the frame up. I wasn’t at all asking him to  come into the contact but in order to life them up and out you need to lift, leg and then go forward. He can only hold it for a few strides at the uphill balance but it’s amazing when he does.

I asked her if she minded if I switched to his other bridle with the duo bit so she could watch me in that bit. I like him better in the duo and find his balance to be a bit more up and out. I know sometimes on a horse like this it can be confusing because trying to figure out how much contact you need is a constant question in my mind. I will post the actual lesson video for you all to watch. You will hear her say that just because he curls doesn’t mean you let go of the contact. Exactly the opposite even. You want it to be a bit of a heavy feel with a horse like this so you can have them hold the contact so that you can ride them up and out. If they aren’t on the contact than they are so light there is nothing to push to. I need to get better and being steadier so that I am consistent with my feel.

She liked him better in the duo bit and you can see that he canters a bit more up and out in the duo (2nd part of cantering left is when I switched bits). Cantering right he wants to drift towards the gate so it can tough to get him straight around by the gate. Lots of work!

I’m just so proud of how far this horse has come in a short time. What a lovely horse he is and so rideable. He has such a good brain that he really accepts the training. Kelly though he had the potential to go right up the levels in dressage. Just needs to build the strength to carry it but of course we know that he will!

Here is the full lesson video for those who want to watch. Don’t laugh to hard 🙂


For those who want the short and sweet version


I had a really great learning session on Letterman. Letterman isn’t the easiest horse on the flat but he is very talented. He raced for a long time so changing the way that he goes will take time but I have been very patient in bringing him along slowly and carefully. He finds bending right quite difficult and really makes it hard for me to ride him because he blocks that right side. He pops that ribcage right against my leg and you can’t move him off of it at all. He had 3 months off so I’m just starting back asking him for any sort of real work in the ring. He is giving me the finger 🙂 He has a good work ethic but he is quick to let you know it’s hard.

I told her that my main problem is that he can be spooky at times, he is inconsistent in the contact and that he doesn’t allow me to move him off that right leg. Basically she said fix the right leg problem and the rest will go away. That is what we worked on for the lesson and boy did he feel totally different. She got on him a bit to feel what I was experiencing. She really worked him with accepting the right leg no matter what. When going left she wanted him to still be available off the right leg. He always wants to overbend but she wanted me to work a bit of counterbend to have him more into the left rein off the right leg.

Transitions are the absolute toughest on him. Holy moly does he brace and pull into them. She had me working him in a slower gear. If he isn’t absolutely soft and off the right leg than don’t walk. Think about slow..slow..then walk so that I keep him available in the body. That really helped.

He is opposite of Bling in that he is pretty strong and tough. His preference is to be above the bit and it takes quite a bit of pressure when he is being above the bit. I have to  be able to resist that quickly and push him back into a right bend to get him to soften. When he is soft he is so soft!

Right now I don’t worry if he is a bit low in the frame because he will always be easy to bring up! We are just working on him not using his neck against me. Here is his video.


I think they are a good compare and contrast of horses that have different evasions and how to handle them. I was happy with watching Letterman on the video because I sometimes think flatwork on him is like pulling teeth. She really liked him a lot and said there is a VERY nice horse in there. Motivation to keep working!

Look for Love out hunting with Goshen Hounds

Love headed off to his new home today with Rick Jones of Goshen Hounds. I am sure that Love will be an excellent hunt horse. I haven’t been able to ride much because I took a fall and in the process of falling I bent my thumb backwards hyperextending it. Yep, that hurts pretty bad for such a minor injury. My ability to hold the reins is not great at the moment so when I had to show Love this morning it was not as polished as he could have been and they still loved him. He hasn’t been ridden all week and was still perfect.

I’m really going to miss him. He is a horse that just changed so drastically since his arrival. I was very attached to him. I know that he will be well-loved there. Maybe I will get to see him out and about.

Bling has had a light week of riding due to my thumb but today he will head out for another trail ride if the weather holds off.

Confidence comes with experience

I think one of the reasons that I love training green horses is that it is so fun to see them gain confidence as they have positive experiences. I am a believer in taking my time to build the horse up and not just doing something because they can. When a horse learns they can trust you because you have taken the time to give them a nice foundation than they will give it their all.

This had become pretty evident when I looked over at my husband riding Letterman this weekend 🙂 Kurt is very confident riding Junior but rarely rides any other horses. I have a bunch of horses that just need to hit the trails to get mileage and experience. I wanted to take out two sets and we have more time to do this on the weekends so weekends do become our trail riding day.

I asked him if he could ride Letterman so I could take Bling. Bling doesn’t need a horse but I like to have company on the trails. I wanted to take my new horse out with Junior because Junior is very safe and can deal with baby antics. Kurt agreed but I could tell he was a bit nervous about it.

Letterman has come a long way in the year that he has been with me. He is pretty much what I would call a trail packer at this point. He still spooks at things but that is part of his personality. They aren’t bad spook but more or less him keeping you awake up there. Letterman used to be a bit chicken and didn’t want to lead the trails but now he is happy to lead. He also used to really silly about jumping logs and things on the trails and wanted to refuse. Now he pulls you towards them. That is the result of lots and lots of quality rides out following an experienced horse. He thinks he is the man and doesn’t suffer from a lack of confidence anymore 🙂

Kurt actually really enjoyed Letterman. He teased me about Letterman’s lack of steering which is totally true. Letterman sort of goes all over the trail and is a bit resistant about going straight. I don’t harp on him about it and actually stopped noticing. Now that Kurt pointed it out I really notice it.

Bling is pretty darn awesome. Total enjoyment to ride him. We went down to this part where the bridge washed out. They have now fixed it and it’s kind of scary looking but Bling led the way over it. I asked Kurt if he wanted to canter and he wasn’t sure but I asked him to just give it a try. He was worried b/c Letterman is a bit strong but I told him that he is slow and although he doesn’t stop on a dime he won’t go fast. Letterman was perfect for him and we have a few nice canters. We were cantering on the way back and Kurt was behind me and I was looking over my shoulder to check on him when we came up on another group of horses. Bling didn’t give it a second thought but we slowed down to a walk to pass.

My new horse was really awesome for his first trail ride! Always a big relief when they enjoy it.

Sunday we went out again, this time with Junior, Letterman and a friend riding Bear. We had a great time and Kurt and I got our sillies out by cantering around jumping random logs. It’s pretty fun for me to see Kurt having so much fun and I am absolutely in love with Letterman. He is a weird horse but you couldn’t ask for a better trail partner. I am almost amazed at how much he has changed in a year. I think he will be quite game out cross country this year with all his new-found confidence.


Finally able to hit the trails

I don’t know about where you live but around here trail riding can be a dangerous sport during bug season. Not only the green heads and deer flies but the big bomber bugs that take chunks out of your horses and like to land right in the middle of their butt. I hate to say but ottb’s are typically a bit more sensitive to bugs than other horses so if it won’t be a good experience due to be attacked that I don’t find a point in doing it. It also has been so miserably hot all summer.

We tested out the C&R center last week on a windy day and it wasn’t bad. We had a few bombers but the great thing is that Bling didn’t care! That is always a welcome relief. He would stop for me to smack them. Some horses just hear them come and get worked into a frenzy. Junior is experienced enough to know that he needs to let them land to be killed and Bling also figured that out in no time. You find sport in riding with one hand in the reins and turning around to smack all while trotting and cantering along. Shouting with victory when you get a kill. It’s silly but sort of fun at the same time. Something very satisfying about crunching those damn bugs in your hands.

Bling has proved to be an absolutely joy to trail ride. It’s a good thing that I can’t own that many horses because he could easily compete with Letterman for the honors of being my go have fun horse. I can ride him on the buckle anywhere we go. He looks at things but isn’t spooky. Leads or follows. Doesn’t care a little bit about being left behind. Doesn’t pull and is just comfortable.

We got caught out in a rain storm one evening coming in and the wind was kicked up and it was pouring. We trotted back pretty quickly but Kurt’s reins were slippery so we just trotted. Bling was just trucking along on the buckle as happy as can be. Fun stuff!

I had a shopper who also came to ride him out on the trails this weekend. They brought their horse that they bought from me (Areutrue!!!!!) and we all headed out. We had a lovely ride around a nice loop and the horses we all just fantastic. Bling still wants to slow down and look at logs on the trails which isn’t great for what he is looking for (a horse to lead the hunt field on) but I have no doubt Bling will figure it out. I haven’t had Bling out much so he is pretty new to trail riding but I just think he is amazing out there.

I was telling them that Letterman was less than confident (both on the trails and to the jumps)  when I first started with him but he is now pretty confident with himself..sometimes a bit too confident 🙂 Letterman is doing great on his recovery from the fractured splint. I’m doing gradual trail rides to build his conditioning up in hopes to be back out paper chasing and maybe eventing this fall. I’m supposed to wait a bit to jump him. It is really nice to be back on my own horse. I love riding all the horses but there is something special about riding your own. Letterman is just so happy to be back to work. He was a bit strong on our first canter in the group this weekend but settled down nicely after he got a bit tired. I may be struggling when he does get fit again 🙂

Fall is my favorite time of year and the weather for the next week looks beautiful. I am marking down all the chases and paces on the calendar. Hope to hunt Letterman and whatever other horses this season as well.

Big disappointment

Last weekend was crazy busy with the first set of shoppers arriving to see Love and Bling. I showed them Friday, Saturday and Sunday and was just plain tired when it was all said and done.

What was interesting to me is that Love picked that particular week to peak. His flatwork was balanced, he was light in the bridle and he was finally able to maintain a rhythm in the trot and canter. Everybody that sat on him just thought he was so nice for only 3 months of training on him.

Everybody also loved Bling but thought that right now he is a bit too quiet 🙂 The shoppers were eventers and wanted something a bit more up. Love and Bling are so different in the way they go. I think Bling will catch up but he just has less training under him. Just this week he loped around a jump course with lots of oxers like he had been doing it forever. I am going to start working on slowly teaching him to come into the contact.

The disappointing part was that somebody that was a perfect fit for Love vetted him this week and we discovered that he had a chip in his knee. Now he has been sound while in consistent work, came off the track sound, passed his flexions during the vetting, sound during the lunging part of the vetting but it’s there and can’t be denied. The buyer x-rayed his ankles, knees and hocks. She was nice enough to provide us the films which we sent off to a surgeon to review. They believe the chip is attached and the joint is very healthy. Surgery is not recommended and he likely will be just fine for a lower level eventing career. He may not go prelim or heck he just might. You always risk that it will move but then again it might not. It’s one of those things that you just can’t predict. The buyer was looking for an upper level eventer so she passed on him. I think everybody was just a bit shocked at the finding. Never would have known it was in there.

We have decided to just do a $1 contract on him for somebody that is willing to live with the risk. I took a video of him today to show just how far he has come in his flatwork!! He just gets better every single ride. This horse is one of my favorites because the progress is always upward and he tries so hard to please.

He looks so good now and has filled out. He is now 16.1 and still growing as he is butt high at the moment.

If you are looking for an absolute lovely lower level horse please come and see him.


Opposite ends of the spectrum

I have began to show Bling and Love to the horse shoppers which is sometimes stressful and sometimes fun. I really enjoy meeting new people and it always seems like people come to see the horses and are pleasantly surprised that they are as described and they go away complimenting the program. Of course that makes me feel good!

As these two horses have progressed in their training they have sort of taken opposite paths. Bling is now kick along quiet and people are finding him almost too quiet 🙂 He is happy to just go with a loop in the rein. You will have to work a bit to really get him going but once you get him going he is happy to just stay at that pace. He will happily jump but you are going to have to put your leg on and maybe even give him a kick to keep him traveling down the line. He has just figured out that life after the track is no big deal and he is happy as can be.

Love is not what I would call a hot horse but he is a horse that requires a rider that gives him direction. He is not going to go with a loop on the rein while you’re trotting or cantering around. He prefers to be ridden into the contact and likes you to be right there to set the tempo. I call him the half halts required type of horse. He isn’t silly, spooky or scary but he has an agenda and he wants you to be on board. Give him direction and he is happy. He loves to jump and is keen about it. If you point him than he will take care of it. You just stay out of his way and let him do his job. Once you figure out who to ride him you are golden but it may take a bit to figure out the buttons if you don’t ride Tb’s on a daily basis. Bling is more of a big warmblood type of Tb. He tolerates a variety of rides.

I think that every rider has their preferences. I would say that Bling is probably too quiet for me 🙂 I absolutely love him but I would be bored. I remember the person who bought London Lullaby telling me that when she came to try out Areutrue and London Lullaby at the same time. She loved Areutrue but said that he was just a bit too boring. I understood exactly what she meant.

I don’t like a hot horse either but I do like a forward thinking horse so perhaps that is why I have really been so high on Love even when others didn’t quite see what I saw in him. There is a really talented horse in there. He is a horse that is taking a bit longer than some to come around (well really 3.5 months is not a long time!) but due to that broken tooth I had to undo some things before he trusted in me. If you have ever sat on a horse that doesn’t love xc than you will appreciate those who make it seem easy and fun. I can fix flatwork but I can’t install the love for xc in a horse. They either like it or they don’t.

I think they are both very talented horses but they are quite opposite to ride. It’s fun to try them both just to compare and contrast the differences.

I have a friend who has been coming out to ride. She used to ride ottb’s but had some bad experiences. She has been gaining her confidence riding Junior and Bear. I could tell she was just dying to ride Bling but she was really nervous about getting on a TB again. Worried that her nerves would make them nervous. I promised her that he would not react even if she was nervous so she gave him a try the other night and was just amazed that she didn’t feel nervous at all up on him. She said he just gives you such a relaxed feeling because you can push him and he never feels like he is going to do anything scary. She was giggling as she rode him around and she really had fun. She got off and said she couldn’t wait to ride him again this time with a whip 🙂 If she had the funds to buy another one he is exactly the type that she would want. Just shows you that we all have our preferences. It is good to know what types of horses that you like to ride so that you do have fun!