A day like today probably wouldn’t be the best to introduce new concepts to a horse but I think that Estrella is even better when it is cold and windy. He is a naturally relaxed horse so the 40mph wind gust gave him a little extra motivation 🙂 In all seriousness, I wouldn’t ride many horses in this weather because it just tempts them to be silly but he has such a good brain. Oh it’s cold and so windy that I am blowing sideways..let me saddle up my green 3yr 🙂 Yeah, he is better than some of the others in the barn…Letterman and Junior I am talking about you here!
We have pretty much just been getting him fit and allowing him to develop some muscles. Whitney has been riding him in between my rides. I always think the first month of riding you should just work on going forward and not much else. I noticed that he had started to play a few of his little tricks on Whitney on her last ride. He just wasn’t as forward and seemed a bit stuck. She wasn’t being as aggressive to send him forward as I wanted her to be but I understood. I get that it can be hard to be tough on them when you aren’t sure of the outcome.
I think riding babies is tough and at times a bit scary but you have to be dedicated to proper training at all times and sometimes it can just be a bit ugly before it gets pretty 🙂 Kurt was awesome and came out to video despite the wind and cold. I think it makes for interesting viewing.
Yesterday, I introduced lunging in the vienna reins to him. He was really starting to figure it out but the trot/canter transition makes him mad. When he doesn’t want to go forward you get the attitude. I send him forward no matter what and ignore the rest. Just repeat and then quit when they do one good transition. Here is the video from yesterday.
I wanted to lunge him a bit before I got on just to reestablish the go forward button going from trot to canter. He was much better today!
I am quite impressed with how focused he is on me and that he is very responsive to the voice commands. The wind was pushing us sideways and he just kept on plugging along.
I have not even asked for a little bit of contact while on his back but I wanted to see if I could start to get him to stretch down in the right direction. He is very muscled underneath his neck but his overall conformation is good. You can reshape the neck but it has to be done slowly because it is very physically challenging for them. Lunging is a good start and for some horses they may only figure it out on the lunge line and not undersaddle. Each one is different so sometimes you just do whatever method works best for the horse.
When I started out I was going to the left in the trot and he was soft in the hand but when I pushed him into the contact he almost wanted to root down or evade by going up. He also wanted to slow down to a crawl every time I put some weight into the reins. This is the part that can make you feel like a monkey but you have got to ride forward and I mean really forward. You feel like you are running them off their feet a bit but in order to ride from back to front you must go forward. They are going to want to slow down and you have to push them past that. If they pull, root or evade by going up just keep going forward and maintain the contact. If they even give a little bit than you reward but you have to be quick to take it back if they come back up. I have a lot of practice at it and I know I am not as good as I want to be.
I made this video which shows the trot left and then when we go right.
I actually think I was being a bit too soft when going left because my rein contact is not consistent. You don’t want any slack in your reins. You can’t be tight but you have to be steady. At minute 1:40 you can see he is starting to stretch a bit but it is coupled with a snort where he wants to pull the reins out of my hands. I still give because any time I feel him soften I want to give him the chance to go down there.
We turn and go to the right to see if that side is easier. I reestablish the connection at the walk. This takes quite a bit of leg! When he goes into the trot and I have the feel of the reins he doesn’t want to go forward. Remember they have zero clue what you are asking so it is normal for them to be a bit confused/angry/nappy or whatever else you may get. Go..go..go forward. Keep their feet marching so you are pushing them from the back to the front.
You can see when he starts getting it and when he softens I really try to reward that by riding him forward and being soft. When they start to reach down they often go even slower so now you really have to ride them forward. At this point horses aren’t super off the leg so I sometimes use my stick but I also try to post a bit bigger with leg pressure to press them forward. The hand has to be soft enough to let them feel like they can stretch and that you aren’t blocking them.
The other training portion of the video is the canter. At this stage of the training I really don’t care how the pick up the canter just yet. They are unbalanced and not strong enough to harp on a perfect canter transition. I use my voice, a smooch and just try to stay up and soft. DO NOT pull. This is hard b/c they are running into the trot and they feel like they could be bad but you can’t pull back and you have to ride forward. Look up and go forward. I often hook my fingers under the neck strap but I keep kicking them on. He took me to the gate on the first pass and I whacked him with my stick on the shoulder, kicked right leg and growled at him. The next time around he wanted to stop but I got after him and he gave a little scoot action but it was good because the kept going forward. The next pass he didn’t even gravitate towards the gate.
Try not to get sucked into looking at the gate. Just look over the left shoulder and use that right leg. Open the left rein and push them off the rail. I try to turn early so I don’t get sucked to the gate. What I like so much about him is that he gives it up easy. Hey, I expect a young green horse to try something so for me it is all about how they react when I tell them it isn’t going to work. He gives it up pretty quick and gets on board with my plan. I reward him and tell him how awesome he is which he appreciates.
This is the edited video to show the good work that we produced during the ride.
I really like this horse a ton and he is so sweet. He is a bit unassuming standing in the barn but he has all the right things to be quite a fancy horse. Just wait until he gets his shoes on tomorrow!!! I have so much fun riding him. Every time I sit on a horse that is figuring it all out it just makes me so excited. I never get tired of training greenies.