I have always questioned this but now I know for sure....my subconscious has a serious plan and knows how to train a horse...my conscious mind plays along and is a bit slow to follow....
Today we set a simple jumping exercise that could incorporate the start of jumping a line and include a flower box (that was different than the one previously) and keep up the "these are big boy jumps" routine...NOW this was not my intention so I couldn't take credit for this as my subconscious definitely took over here: I also had set some trot poles so I could work on these some more and introduce raised trot poles hopefully by the end of the week WHICH happened to be conveniently located at a point which could be used WITH the jumping exercise as well so I could build a steady trot coming to, or off of the fence (see my awesomely creative photo below....haha)
Anyway...the pole at the end of the line, when it was being jumped on the right, acted as a lead change pole so he could be properly set up for the corner, and conveniently enough (again not my intentional plan) the right is his harder lead SO this worked well for us here.
Pogo was awesome and towards the end was making the distance, automatically using the pole to do the change if he landed wrong, jumping well and confidently, and going straight to the fence instead of his tendency to want to be a little wishy washy on take off.
The trot poles really became helpful as he was beginning to want to put his head down and look and USE himself before the fence and allowed for our downwards to be more together as he had a job to be focusing on after the jump. In a way this is preparing him for doing a course as he isn't going to have a ton of time to lollygag in between fences and we want him to remain through and relaxed at all times...
He was awesome and it was a good start to the week...I am excited to see what this week will bring!!
We have liftoff!! Pogo has finally started jumping and is going EXTREMELY well(not that anyone should be surprised by this, as we have seen in his free jumping videos, haha) He is very quiet and likes to wait to the base, he does a great job of waiting all the way to the fence and sorting out where he and his body needs to be.
This is where my theory becomes a little bit controversial, but so far, it has worked for me on the handful of horses that I have started, retrained and taught to jump. As you may notice in my videos, generally I am in two point on a very loose or loopy rein. On this horse (and most greener horses) I can usually get away with this and will. Granted, this position is "precarious," being up on their neck, basically leaving every opportunity open for them to do something silly, and never say never of course, but I do have faith that I have instilled the go button and his own confidence that he will keep going.
I also try and stay out of the equation as much as possible and allow for the horse to just figure out where he needs to be. With Jolie, I think this made her a bit opinionated and bold, but I would honestly rather work with a horse that is more forward and bold rather than one that is backed off or always searching for the riders help. My thinking is that if you are always training a horse to look for your command, you are in a way signing yourself up for trouble. As the saying goes, we are all human and we all make mistakes. If your error in judgement allows for the horse to make a mistake, you put both horse and rider in danger. However, if the horse can think on it's own what he needs to do and where he needs to place his feet in order to be safe, chances are these self preserving animals will get themselves (yourself included) out of the situation.
As I introduce more half-halting and flatwork, I will obviously work this into jumping and working with striding in lines, but for the beginning, jumping is foreign enough without adding the complexities of the rider being in the way, so this is how I choose to work. If I do anything it will be to add leg and encourage the forward motion (as obviously forward is key and the whole point for success)
Obviously, this is boring (and almost every effort so far, with the exception of cantering flower boxes has been recorded and posted) but as mentioned previously, boring is good.
Our goals for the rest of the month include: working on the introduction of a half halt, doing more canter poles, and eventually elevating to small bounces and one strides, and by the end of the month hopefully schooling horse show fences with gates, brush boxes, flowers and the like. I do not anticipate this being a problem but time will tell. We are hosting an IHSA english show at the end of this month, so it will be the perfect occasion to get the boys out for a taste of a show and to school in a show like setting. (at least prior as the warm up gets a little bit crazy, especially for our babies!!)
Pogo has been going really well and is making good progress. Nothing eventful, which we all can probably say we like, or at least admit that it's refreshing.
Today we tried out a standing martingale to help "clean up" what is becoming our high-headed canter depart. I have been being lax so as not to discourage the forward momentum to the canter and thus, not fussing over head placement. He is unfortunately starting to take advantage of that, SO time to go to work!
As always, when I come into the arena I turn my ipod on....first song to pop up was "8 second ride" and I was seriously hoping that was NOT an omen, and it wasn't. Our trotting started out as per usual: connection, no connection, stretch down, connection, no connection....although not consistent, it was better than we started initially.
Our canter departs got better and I worked more toward asking with a correct bend and outside leg instead of letting the lead just happen. He took to this well and displayed the most beautiful left lead canter, and the right lead although sloppier is coming right along. We did some single canter poles which he did not even think twice about as well. We took a break in between where Pogo out of nowhere decided to fill both of my reins with a connection and stay! At the walk and the trot....EUREKA! We've got it...aaand back to canter, SUPER...back to trot, took a little bit to regain the connection, probably because he was tired, but we got it re-established and ended on a good note!
See, boring but productive!
Finally, the highly anticipated videos of Poggio!!!
Last time through the chute!
Second attempt at canter :)
More of the left lead, as that was the intention of the first cantering video....
Photo taken 1/27/12
Photo taken 1/27/12
So bummed to go write my post for TODAY to find that yesterdays didn't save for whatever reason. So, I will start all over again and then continue with my big step for today :)
Due to some arena time being available when it normally is not, Tesla and I took the opportunity to set a chute and get some free jumping done with the boys. I was not entirely sure how it would pan out, as Pogo is still figuring out his body and where all of his legs go, but I think it is safe to say that we were all very pleasantly surprised.
We started out on a lunge to get warmed up, and he surprised me by being very relaxed, despite all of the "new" looking surroundings. He also popped into the most perfect and balanced canter with no effort at all. We then proceeded to handwalk through the chute where Pogo followed very confidently and then moved up to a jog in hand where still he followed confidently without batting an eye.
Then it was the big moment, time to go alone and canter....No issues, figured out the striding and was perfect. We slowly started to build up from a single crossrail, to two, then three, and then introduced a vertical and then an oxer to finish. He did take the opportunity to not go down the chute when people were waving the whip and were in front of him, an honest mistake for a baby, but a clear indicator that well, if he doesn't HAVE to, maybe he just wont :) There was no over jumping and every move he made was willing and confident. He met each fence at a proper spot and adjusted himself well in between each element.
The most interesting part was that each element was being built, he watched intently what they were doing. Almost like trying to figure it out on his own before being in line to it so he was well prepared to do his job. This one is a brave, honest, and willing! little guy who is definitely going to excel in the hunters and is handy enough to be a potential derby horse.
Onto what today brought us:
Free jumping helped the canter SO much! Today we worked more on accepting the bit and worked some on leg yield and shoulder in at the trot before proceeding to canter. Again, leads were a non issue, as was the depart. I mean, he is far from being the next Jersey Boy (yet) but for a first depart (I know we cantered before but not for the sole purpose of cantering as this was) it was more than I could have asked for. I had tops four strides of slight disconnection and finding our feet, but then settled into a lovely, rhythmic canter and slowly dropped our head down into as much of a frame as could be desired for his level of training. I was pleased at how comfortable he was just loping around, not a care in the world.
I do think that the free jumping exercise helped with today's results as he was more challenged to find his feet at a canter with jumping, so carrying the weight of a rider and just loping along was easy for him. I am excited to keep up with our work and to see what this little guy is made of.
There will be links to videos of the freejumping and cantering posted soon!!
Alas, you can never have the exact training plan for any horse written out and follow it exactly day to day...Today was one of those days.
Of course I ended my last entry with Pogo not being "ready" to canter, and well, today we cantered. However, the goal was not to canter, make it pretty, etc. it was to get forward motion without a fight, fuss, or making the horse crazy. Pogo generally has a great attitude, but if he doesn't feel like doing something, you can tell. I don't want him to hate life so, I am trying to work with him to move forward (literally).
Our trot work has been coming along, however his trot to the right was awesome, and to the left was lacking, he just would lay on my inside leg to the left and suck back. Along with sucking back, he would shorten basically every muscle in his body, and the more you asked for forward the more tense he got about it, to the point where he would almost just hop up and down (nearly cantering in a teacup stride). A great instructor I know told me once, "never ride a green horse, baby horse, clients horse, or your own without a stick. It's better to have it and not use it than to wish you had one and really need it." So true to this instructor I have been carrying a crop at all times, never having to use it. So today I tried the "flick" that jockeys do, just laying it on his side, even a tap to no avail (only slight irritation with the tap, irritation is NOT my goal)...So, we attempted a canter...
Pluses and minuses to this situation: Plus -> leads are a non-issue (both directions, I did push my luck just to see). Luckily my confidence building exercises on the lunge line with picking it up stuck. We struck off balanced, and forward and eventually leveled out to a pretty nice, relaxed and controlled canter on a loose rein, both directions.
Minuses -> mentally, a neutral move: he wanted to do more, but I don't think he expected that and if horses can think in retrospect, probably not one of his most brilliant "I want to do more" ideas. Physically, he is not fit enough to really hold a good canter. I guess this goes in with "physically" the boy is still growing, is quite down hill and isn't the most nimble. I think he is still trying to figure out where his feet are and how to keep them organized with a rider on his back.
Biggest Plus (and desired result achieved!) Both trot directions had a much better quality to them after the canter, including being softer into the bridle (w0w, there is a hind end pushing back there!) stretching down and accepting my leg to move forward and away from the pressure. We got a few steps of leg yield to the rail and trot and at the walk was able to carry a shoulder in for most of the long side and leg yield to and away from the wall, both directions.
From here, Pogo has earned two days off to let his lesson sink in (I am not sure how I calculate this, its just the feeling I get or a subconscious mathematical equation that takes everything into account, multiplied together and divided by .483, haha). He will resume on Friday with potentially another lunge line lesson and resume to riding over the weekend...but as we all know, plans may change!
Pogo has had some time to just relax and figure himself out lately. I have not been pressing riding too much as now the arena is getting busy and not everyone is so kind to realize the needs of a green horse. Instead, we have been working on cantering on the lunge line, so we can be prepared and hopefully balanced enough to carry a rider when the time is right.
Our first attempt at cantering, wasn't much; just picking up the proper lead, swapping off and trying to go across the arena and change direction. Now that we are understanding the concept of staying on a circle on the lunge line, cantering is easier for him. He does on occasion pick up a wrong lead or swap off, which is not a big deal to me. I know that 1. thoroughbreds like to be balanced and 2. leads have not been important up to this point in his life. So, I allow a circle or so of the "wrong" thing and calmly go back to trot, allow for him to settle and try again. I don't want to blow his mind or make him frantic that he is "wrong" because, he really doesn't know what the heck is going on! To the right, you can see him thinking all the while cantering, "one, two, three, one to three, I know I have four feet, are they all together? Is this right?" before finally settling into a rhythm and then allowing it to be natural.
A lot of the troubles also I think lie in that he is not totally fit, of course there is some residual muscling from being racing fit but from November until the second week of January, he has been sitting in a pasture. For Pogo being as young as he is (And quite high in the rump!) allowing him to find his feet, and get comfortable in the gait prior to adding a rider will be very important for him. I would like to think by the weekend we will be cantering under saddle but only time will tell. For now, I can just imagine what it will be like, as the small bits he gives me are slow, relaxed, rhythmical and balanced...
Also! As a reward for his brilliant first week, he is on the schedule for a massage compliments of Thunder Crest Equine Massage this afternoon :)