For most of yesterday I felt pretty terribly sick...and today was not much better, but I didn't want to give Pogo too much time off so I racked my brain on some fun, non stressful exercises we could do on the ground that wouldn't leave me passed out from gasping for air chasing him around or doing something else silly that leaves me laughing hysterically at him... (good thing I'm not reading this out loud because that last run-on sentence would have put me in my death bed...I am so freaking sick!!!) 

So we went out just to lunge after about an hour of grooming (there is some nice pretty steel gray underneath his white baby fuzz!!!) and thinking back I am not sure we ever totally established cantering nicely on the lunge line...I mean it happened but he was too weak to carry it for a full circle around me and certainly not without using the walls for balance....also this week we have worked on walk to canter transitions, pogo likes them, a lot :)

SO this all culminates to now, I walk into the arena, look at Pogo, tell him to go walk...and he walks, about three strides and as if he says "look what I can do!" he displays the most beautiful walk to canter on his own and does his hunter lope around me....yeah I almost died, laughed hysterically, gasping for air (so much for not almost dying, haha) - he eventually realized he was being a silly tool and got back to business. 

We worked on some raised cavalletti also and that was also pretty great. He was seeking the poles with minimal steering on my part with the lunge line, and really stepped well over them. This exercise really loosened his back - his topline really got soft and round and he would poke his little nose out and down around the circle and to the poles. He lengthened his stride and became super cute. It's a shame his work ethic isn't like this all the time. I'm sure he will learn eventually, but if he came out to the arena so supple every day 100% of the time, I'd arguably be sitting on one of the nicest horses in the barn. 

He is really turning into
 
 
Yesterday we had the Equine Advisory Council meeting for AU, where both Tesla and I presented on the Thoroughbred Chronicles, how we got started and about our progress. I did not really know who was going to be present or not, and I didn't recognize too many faces even in the beginning of the meeting, however there was one familiar face I did see....Jack Frohm, who is surprisingly on the board for our Equestrian Center and from what I gather, an Alfred Alum.

As we started presenting, he started picking my brain about more than what we were divulging to the rest of the audience...to which I responded "well, do you want him?" and he answered "let's see him"

Alas, the beginning of the first person to look at Mr. Pogo...it's a start!! It went well and Pogo was very well behaved. He jumped the biggest single fence he has done yet, just a 2'6" both ascending and square oxer, cantering up to it like a champ and jumping it without thinking twice, forward and straight and a great gentleman on landing...

The whole thing ended with a thank you from both and then he scurried off to other business. I didn't actually get any feedback, good or bad, and have yet to hear anything either way....at least he got his first "look" out of the way. 

Only 44 days left until I graduate so time is slowly creeping up on us for getting him sold...anyone interested should inquire :) 

I will add, he is starting to shed out, and his coat is getting DARK...he's going to be pretty fance

 
 
As promised, here is Pogo's ride with someone other than me :)

 
 
Pogo had a very busy week that included a lot of jumping and technical exercises, both mentally and physically tough for him. After our day of gymnastics, a rider from the varsity team hopped on to give him a try. Her mother owns a show barn and I thought it would be good to have a different rider on his back (as he is now officially for sale and will hopefully have people trying him out) and also give this girl an idea of what he is like in case she knows of anyone looking. She also jumped him around a bit (videos will be up shortly).

The next day I didn't want to work too hard, but took some time to figure out his lead change cue. Left to right is automatic at this point. If you land wrong onto that lead 9 times out of 10 he will swap within one stride, or at least by the corner. The other side I have yet to figure out, as we are usually late behind. I think he is a tad weak on that hind leg so its difficult as half of the time he was auto changing and half the time he was getting a good and proper change. Pogo did 6 consecutive clean changes when asked on this day, so he is for sure getting it down. I have figured that his cue is to push his hip to the new inside and lightly pull on the new inside rein to get the change.

This brings us to yesterday, when (as promised) we attempted to start putting courses together. Pogo is a little odd, if you canter a canter gymnastic, as for now he is a little confused. If you canter a single fence he is very good, just plops on over it, but put a line together and apart from a hard drift right when tracking left in a line, he goes on down like he has been doing so his entire life. I feel as though he has to feel something is a little more complicated to do well at it, otherwise he is just too quiet to care. I think it will come and quickly and he gave me a great, small course to end on. I think it also doesn't help we were inside, as once he gets rolling, his stride gets large and the indoor starts to feel too small for him. 

Regardless he was a very good boy and after all of the jumping this week, he will have off until Wednesday. We will start back with some flat work, transitioning to some gymnastics by the end of the week and potentially putting another course together next weekend. 
 
 
Today we did some more gymnastic work with Pogo so he could work on his form a bit more and also we could start testing his bravery and height capabilities. We make it up to 3'3" today  before he got a little tired. I don't like to push them to the point that they are exhausted and then start associating jumping with something bad. I like to try and keep it fresh and fun. Pogo was very brave and stepped right up when he realized that these weren't just 2' verticals he could float on over. He happily engaged behind and powered over every fence.

See the video below....

 
 
Ok, not only did I get last weeks video up and rolling, I got two more from today complete with some nice photos too!!!
Enjoyyyyy!!!

Last week - Faux-ssage

From this morning..

 
 
So today we were stuck inside as most of the classes went outside...which is stinky but it means that I was in a way forced to jump as the jumps are inside not out, so I had ample opportunity.

My plan was to back to trotting fences and get him putting in that extra trot step that we were lacking the previous time we jumped and get better and straighter with that. I would then transition to cantering fences if he was showing the will. I also had set 2 poles 5 strides apart for our canter work so we could work on evetually transitioning to cantering lines. 

Well I stuck to the plan and Pogo's flatwork was great as it has been normally. I think I forgot to mention that I tried him in a happy mouth dee and I love it so we're keeping it for now. To the right is his "bad" lead -I think its weaker and he is still figuring out travelling in that direction, but it's still a quality gait. We were consistently getting 4 in our 5, BUT he was staying through, connected and rhythmical so I think its due to the weakness there (alas, something to improve upon! noone is perfect!). To the right we were able to get the 5 consistently and in the same balanced, connected fashion. 

We transitioned to trotting the fences and Pogo was awesome. Bold as ever, in our walk break inbetween trotting and cantering he walked right up to the base of the crossrail and went to walk over it. I think he knows and loves his new job. He gave me some good efforts, putting in that extra trot step, he had morphed from the last time we jumped - I was beginning to wonder if he was ever really getting what we were doing before, and today he was trotting fences like my more schooled horses do!  Landing in a rhythmical canter in our second or third time over the fence I continued on to canter it. At first he was a little close to it, but jumped clean, second time he was very long but still clean then a perfect distance. 

We changed direction and jumped a little verticle set about 6-7 strides in a line away the same way (trotted once or twice, canter once). I don't like jumping INTO a line and turning a green horse out. They are wiggly to begin with and I don't ever want to encourage an "out" when going into a line. If horses don't learn about an "out" or don't learn to stop at a fence, generally, the thought then won't ever cross their mind. On occasion comments are made that I don't just float the rein and let my green horses "go" and some might like to see a bit more freedom (I'm not hanging on them, simply being supportive on both reins to encourage the straightness). BUT my theory is that just one run out can create a whole slew of problems and YES ideally all control should be from the leg, BUT Pogo is 4 and off the track, he has only had legs this far down on his sides since January, he may not always know or relate "leg" to steering with a distraction (ie. a jump) in front of them. ok. end of rant.

Anyway we did the verticle, which he rubbed despite the perfect distance but only one side came down so I took that as a sign that maybe we should try and canter the whole line, so we came around, broke down to trot, jumped the x and cantered down in a wiggly 7. Lightbulb. We tried again only to get straighter and more consistent down the line and finish with an auto change when we landed wrong. This little guy has some talent, and let me tell you he LOVES LOVES LOVES his job.

I am tempted to do more of this but I think we really need to think gymnastics and introducing small oxers to his program, and once that hurdle has been cleared, go back to trotting in and cantering out, including small oxers and SOOON! cantering in and cantering out. 

We finally have an unders



 
 
Riding outside is doing Pogo a world of good! Today we had a phenomenally magnificent ride, I could not have been more pleased.

He is understanding the concept of accepting the bit and stretching onto the contact. The outdoor ring has helped immensely as I can push him forward onto the contact without hitting a wall. He is willingly moving out, relaxing his back, swinging through his body and falling into a gorgeous frame. He is even doing this at the canter, which is getting very round, lovely, flowing and even more tempoed and cadenced.

Yesterday we attempted cantering a small fence, which we were successful with but we need to work on polishing it a bit and working to make the canter more adjustable to make it a more successful effort. After today this won't be a problem. I anticipate trying more canter fences tomorrow or later in the week after we can do some more work at the canter. I am very very pleased with the progress we have made in the last week.


 
 
We don't normally ride on Sundays but today was an exception: the sun was shining, footing in the outdoor was perfect and well it was just an overall good day to ride. 

As I have been posting about, we have been working on making a connection...Today I think was Pogo's Ah-Ha moment - He usually starts good at the walk and likes to connect and then when you transition up, as would be expected (at least I think) he looses the connection and takes a bit to re-establish. The same has been true for downwards as well. 

My own opinion, I am not sure if I heard it elsewhere or if it's just from my own experience is that your transitions cannot be great unless your gaits are just as great. You can't expect a good trot to canter if you have an "ok" trot and an unbalanced canter - In my mind, I just don't see greatness in that transition from one to the other if neither are of quality.

Anyway, it took a little while to establish the connection from walk to trot (even though our walk work was superb). I think there was a lot going on with a horseshow inside and it being only our second time outside, so I'll give him that. He slowly sorted it all out and gave me some fantastic trot work, including some leg yields to and from the rail. He is really getting very accepting of the leg and understanding the different cues between forward, balance and sideways. 

The canter has always been a bit wishy washy for our connection establishment. He loves to just be left alone, and honestly, he could probably get away with it. He is mostly balanced, comfortable with himself in the gait and oozes cadence, he probably has enough to share with the entire barn (the horse doesn't change). BUT I do know that a time will come when I will be on trail or in a line and need that half halt alas, we are working on that still. Oddly enough, his harder direction (to the right) had a great feel and he slowly started stretching down into the contact (golf clap for pogo!). I quit when I got some good work and then ventured left...

The left got a little wonky...but instead of doing my normal "what can I do different to get this to work" I waited...and waited, and waited...approximately three 20m circles and twice around the arena, with some small trot breaks inbetween to re-group, re-balance, etc. Like MAGIC down our last long side, a reach, a pause, a stretch, a pause and then a long frame and connection down most of the long side...AND best of all a BEAUTIFUL downwards transition to trot complete with even more stretch into long and low, for real, with connection onto a circle and continued around like such for cool out,..

I think this was Pogo's "oh, oh HEY! I GET this!" Moment...if it wasn't, well I would love to see what was because that was really cool today...

And to finish, we learned how to open the gate of the arena and went for a stroll around the property to enjoy the nice sunlight and have a change of scenery, which was also really really great 
 
 
I have been trying for almost three days now to upload a stinkin' video to you tube to accompany this post. SO obviously there won't be one yet but one should be coming. I thought I would post and keep everyone  updated without video instead of keeping everyone waiting. 

Pogo and I have been concentrating on our "faux-ssage" and it actually has been going really well. Due to my laziness there has been a tack change in the bit department: I normally ride in a KK with a roller link which he had been seeming to like (we started in a big rubber snaffle, he didn't seem to like that, transitioned to a mullen mouth happy mouth, not as bad but could be better, then to a french link that was great then we tried the KK and that was better). My older gelding who's dressage bridle we stole, goes in a hollow mouth loose ring (and talk about fussy, this horse is the reason I have a bit collection...a hollow mouth is the ONLY bit he will consistently connect to, could be worse I guess!)  Honestly, Pogo really doesn't seem to care either way but I'm getting good work out of him with it so I might keep up with that. I think most importantly I stuck a flash on him and that probably is making the biggest difference.

After our few days off and a few more days of faux-ssage, he is understanding the concept of a connection, and as he warms up is stretching down into the contact instead of rooting through my hands. I mean, we still have a long way to go for sure but it's a start. Every day we are getting quicker to accept the contact and establishing it for longer periods of time, so I think all of this should come around quickly....

OK I am realizing I do have pictures and other fun stuff to post (sorry this is going to be a long one, but a fun one!!!)
I am sure this looks very familiar to a lot of you...Obviously this is focused on dressage, but I think it outlines the basics of every discipline. Lucky for most TBs, Pogo included, rhythm comes easy (it says with energy and tempo below,  and usually, it's not an issue to have your TB stepping up into it's tracks!). 

Next is relaxation, harder for some than others. Pogo is an internalizer for sure and to the onlooker seems totally unphased by a lot. This is true most of the time, when he is truly relaxed, adding outside leg can mean canter, could help for balance down a long side, if I shift my weight is signaling to move over, etc. HOWEVER he can be going around the exact same way but I feel underneath me he is not comfortable with something and the outside leg can signal an explosion...but it's not until something changes from the normal aids that this is triggered. He is a baby,  and only undersaddle for a month so let's not get focused on that! For the most part  he is relaxed.

Ta-da CONNECTION where we are plateau-ing for right now.  Anyway we don't need to talk much about that, you will see in this video that I am fighting to upload all about where we are at with that. Anyway, I thought it would be good to share this classical pyramid, I know some people tend to forget the paths we need to take in order to get to a fully trained animal :)

I also wanted to share a video, shared with me by my friend Jenny of a Steuart Pittman Clinic....dressage for OTTBs
I won't lie, I have not yet had the time to watch the whole thing but I did watch the first part of it and he gives some good insight to the classical training pyramid and he is just AWESOME with TB's so I watching this whole thing is on my agenda real soon. I like how there is an array of training levels in the arena, some schooled and competed while others are fresh off the track as of a few months ago. Anyway, fun stuff and Steurt is great!

And lastly, here are some photos from Pogo's first outside escapades....