Ryker surpassed any and all of my hopes or expectations for his first show. He is certainly still very green, but was able to cruise around two Baby Green 2' hunter courses and a hack class like a champ. He was so patient and responsive, but he thought the hunter hack class was beyond boring - definitely not cut out to be a hunter/eq horse!. He then stepped up to the plate for the 2'6" jumpers, after having some time to chill in his stall. He was the same horse for every time I tacked him up and rode around through out the day, albeit a little confused (maybe he will make a good 3 day horse!). It's a wonderful feeling to know that he wants to jump the jumps and has developed enough trust in me to go even if he isn't 100% sure. I'll let the videos do the talking, but on the agenda is more hacking out and more dressage work to get him more responsive laterally off my leg to control those shoulders! Just going and doing stuff is a wonderful tool to figuring out which gaps in training still exist. :)
Finally, we're getting back to work!
Today Ryker had a lunging/long-lining day. I figured I could get more accomplished from the ground today. He is a still a little high from being stuck in his stall, and the last time I sat on him he was not 100% sound loaded. It probably sounds funny that I would rather work him on the ground than under saddle, since most racehorses are far better under saddle than on the ground when they're amped, but I have found he is much easier to manipulate and rate from the ground. Maybe it's my riding, or my inexperience in training, or maybe even my love for a good gallop that creates that, but I'm glad I did ground work! The ring was a zoo today, and while we do need to get him used to warm up arenas (he hates when horses pass him going in the other direction, and by hates, I mean pins his ears and will try to bite. It's almost like he's saying, "you're going the wrong way dumbass" which wouldn't surprise me one bit) today was not the day for that. Today was about being focused, quiet, and relaxed on the ground. I'd say he was pretty good, and we got a fair amount accomplished.
He is looking as sound as can be, and well... I couldn't wait till tomorrow to sit on him again, so I hopped on bareback! Which after reading the first half of this post probably sounds like a really stupid idea. Since it wouldn't haven been the first time I've gone flying off of a horse their first time bareback, I was a little cautious. That counts for something right? If it was story time I'd tell you about the big warmblood youngster, that I tried to help a friend with, and ended up enjoying what was probably the shortest bronc ride in history... needless to say, not one of my brightest ideas, and obviously the lesson didn't stick very well... but is isn't story time, and Ryker is just awesome! He couldn't have cared less, we even did a little trot (like 10 steps, but who's counting?!). So yes, me and the crazy racehorse trotted around in a packed indoor bareback... man those OTTBs, they're just so crazy and hard to work with! ;)
Hopefully there will be photo proof soon. :)
Sorry for the lack of posts! Ryker has been out of commission for a few days due to a stone bruise... Dang those TB feet! He'll be back at it ASAP! We're gearing up for the Alfred Open Show, hopefully he'll be good to go and well prepped in time!
In the mean time, funny photo of the day:
Ryker decided it would be more fun to put both feet in the bucket, not just one... He moved his foot over and stepped in and refused to take his other foot out... silly race horse! Too bad I didn't get video!
That's right! Ryker did his first "ditch" this week. He was awesome, and by "ditch" I mean a big black plastic trash bag held down by two natural poles in the ring. That is as close as I can get to jumping at ditch at the moment, but he was game and didn't pause, once he understood that he was simply supposed to jump over it. We've also conquered the "nasty pile of rocks drainage ditch," he doesn't even look at it now. What a good race horse! We've also started to jump colorful things and more solidly build fences in the ring (i.e. fully packed flower boxes and gates) in an attempt to test the waters in terms of jumping strange things the first time, without looking at them. He's been very good, and we're hoping to do the Alfred Open Show if all goes well.
(Just a reminder, he is still for sale! - He will be available in Alfred until mid May. After that he will be coming home to Vermont with me for the summer, where I may or may not purchase him depending on how he stacks up against my other personally owned OTTB -- since only 1 competition horse is in the long term budget, he will remain for sale until I make a decision)
On another note, any one out there have any other fun cross country type exercises they work on in the indoor during the winer months? (I have a few, but I typically devote my winters to a let down, easy trot sets, tuning up our dressage, and gymnastic work)
Ryker has been absolutely wonderful the past couple weeks. He's figuring life out... and I think he's liking the warmer weather. We've been doing a lot of jumping, trying not to do too much, but it's hard... He's turned into such a jumping bean! We've been working on single fences, turns, lead changes, lines and then putting all of that into a full course. He has surpassed ever expectation I've ever had for him. He is game, now that he seems to understand what I'm asking, he loves to jump! There is no longer any serious hesitation to any fences, his unsureness to new fences that used to end in a stop or run out and then a re-attempt, now simply takes a little leg and occasionally an encouraging seat, for him to pop right over (whoohoo!).
His dressage is progressing more and more as he starts to get a handle on real lateral work, moving his haunches and shoulders without getting tense and quick is hard for him and will continue to take more time, but we're progressing! He is much easier to pop right into a nice forward consistent rhythm, and is really getting a grasp on moving forward into a consistent contact. We've been getting longer and longer periods of relaxed and forward moving gaits, the rest will follow in time!
I've also started working on rating his canter in the ring, getting my body used to aids he already knows from the track, and getting him used to the added leg to those aids. Locking my joints and holding him back with my upper body while keeping leg on to keep his hind end engaged, and then allowing with my body in a more forward position to push his gait out. It's pretty much old hat for him, esp. to the right, but I want to make sure those buttons aren't rusty when we really start doing more work outside in the field.
Speaking of, we have been doing some work out of the ring, and he is eating it up. He's done a little trot and canter with a buddy - never getting strong, and coming right back to a walk (no jig, yay!). We've also jumped our first "Cross Country jump". We found a small little log out on the trail, and he trotted right over it, cantering away looking for direction as to where to go next. Since we don't have any real cross country jumps to school over at Alfred, that's going to have to wait.
That brings me to my next exciting bit of news, Ryker will be coming home with me for the summer (if he doesn't sell first)! Not only have I fallen in love with him (surprise, surprise) but he seems to be turning into the just horse I was looking for (such luck!). Since my Training horse is now retired to be a Beginner Novice packer (lucky old man!), I've been searching for my next ride, and on a limited budget - an OTTB is my best bet. My other personally owned OTTB, She's and Optimist, who is also a bit of a re-sale project, and Ryker get to compete this summer for their spot as my next event horse (IF he doesn't sell before mid May) -- while I work my butt off to pay for board for three! Both of them are talented, "Cheesey" is already turning into a XC machine after two schools at 6 years old, but since Ryker's natural movement in dressage will beat her any day, it's going to be tough. One of them will be sold this summer, so keep your eyes peeled, they're both awesome athletes! (and don't worry, I'll keep you all updated on his adventures this summer at Triple Combination Farm)