This week we have done a little bit of everything...Pogo is becoming a well rounded boy!!!
We started off with a little bit of jumping and working on straightness. He was pretty good, but clearly, there are some things he needs to work on. He is such a good hearted guy that I think it's easy for people to forget that he has only been undersaddle since the middle (really, more towards the end) of January. He is also just four and still figuring out where his feet are and how to effectively carry himself in his slightly downward way of going (due to him being high in the croup, hopefully about to sprout!!) , as well as the weight of a rider.
Anyway, the jumping was fine and really nothing to pick on. Having started a few horses over fences, I am impressed by how he can evenly pick up his knees and find spots well. Some of the horses I have started jump with their shoulders and end up with their knees down at the ground, tripping over the fence, or just straight up trip and knock it over. Pogo has been relatively clean and tidy all around. He does land hard, but again, I'm not expecting miracles and with the way his body is put together at this point in time what can you really expect?
Moving on in the week, we transitioned to dressage....rather... dress-age without the accent...maybe faux-ssage? Anyway, I want to start to establish a connection and really work on schooling the flatwork as that should be the next step in my opinion. We have discovered earlier that Pogo isn't naturally straight (who is?) and I have always been taught no horse CAN travel straight until it can be supple and travel laterally...so to establish THAT he needs to understand moving forward, making a connection, putting in a half halt, and then adding leg aids to help him build up to traveling straight. Obviously, this needs work too, but towards the end of our session with dressage we had relaxed gaits and feel in both reins on a somewhat consistent basis...a pretty good start.
SO this brings us to today, after the horse show (go AU Western, #1 in the region, wooop wooop, haha) ...I decided to free lunge not just to get energy out but so he could have some time on his own and figure out where his body is...it is very clear that it takes awhile for him to figure out his own body without a rider, as the cadenced rhythm doesn't start to show up until he has been in the arena for a few minutes.
Not to get totally sidetracked but I have to add this in..I once had a trainer that was very into Monty Roberts and join up..at some levels I do think that natural horsemanship can be crap BUT I have read the books and seen join up work for whatever reason. It is amazing to me to see horses that were brought up in a herd situation who understand the concept in minutes, they find a circle, drop their head, lick and chew and follow you around like puppy dogs when your done...the odd part to me is the horses that WEREN'T brought up in that situation...they are the ones that become frantic and lost and honestly, I have never seen "join up" work with a horse that has been kept alone or outside of a "herd."
This is where Pogo is intriguing to me, (but this also sheds a LOT of light on him)...he will eventually join up but not follow after, well he does, but a step late and not for long before turning away, walking 10 or so feet away, licking and chewing and asking to join again...maybe I'm off, but I'm interpreting it as a lack of trust (or maybe understanding?) regardless, I took the time today to really work on the groundwork (whoa, back , turning head and rear away from me if I ask for my space) and reinforce that people are not bad, not scary, and that we are not asking for circus tricks, simply just good behavior and respect for one another's personal space.
I think this week we made a lot of progress and I am interested to see what this week brings, I'm leaving an open ended plan that will start with our faux-ssage and go from there...hopefully we can get a video up asap :)
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!!
It's been yet another fairly uneventful week, with the exception of the barn getting ready to host the IHSA English show. Pogo has been going great and managing to do well with our limited schedule that we have as far as arena time. Normally, I like to give Mondays and Tuesdays off, but in recent past due to lack of arena time Pogo has had Wed/Thurs off...with the shows taking over a day of the weekend, it's been a juggle of working all three of my horses in the limited time and with one weekend day off...geesh! Not a great excuse, but thus still the reason why there have been lack of posts...
Friday evening Pogo got to jump around a little bit of show fences. He was SO brave and such a superstar! We did a small hay bale fence, as well as a gate with some flower boxes and he confidently trotted up and over, and awkwardly jumped the fence. I was very proud as we did this while 6 bagillion other horses were preparing to school the course, ultimately a test of Pogo's down-to-earth-ness and he passed with flying colors. People were knocking rails, sending dirt flying all around, jumping next to us (purposely,I would stand him right next to a fence that was being jumped, just to see) and he didn't bat an eye. Schooling arena's will be CAKE! I think he would have preferred to canter the fences as he is still awkward with finding his feet and trotting a fence, but alas another game plan comes from this...
Tomorrow, since some of the show jumps are still out, we will probably fuss with some more fun jumps and maybe a line, since the closest we have come is a gymnastic....Later on in the week, we will plan on doing more trot cavalletti, both on the ground and raised, and then hopefully by Friday, we will go back to some gymnastic work and hopefully introduce an oxer with a rider (we know he's got it as far as free jumping goes!!!
We have a bunch more horse shows coming up over the next couple of weekends, so the schedule will still be hectic but luckily spring break falls inbetween so we can hopefully have some time and snag videos, etc.
Remember!! Pogo is still FOR SALE!! Tell your friends, spread the word!
This week has definitely been a learning experience and it's only Tuesday. We started back to work yesterday and I was less than impressed with Pogo's new ideas....
Pogo has always been the odd horse that you turn loose in the pasture, and he stands where you put him until you go to bring him in. Literally, unless Ryker ran into him, he wouldn't move an inch except to turn around when you came to the gate. Well, Sunday, he and Ryker had decided to play and become buds. I turned them both out, they turned looked and me and then trotted off into the pasture. Yay for Pogo being a real horse!! Or so I thought...
Monday's ride was full of Pogo spotting Ryker and trying to lean, bend, go towards , etc. his buddy's direction. Immediately, I knew this ride was going nowhere, worked through what little tantrum he was giving me and put him up until later when I could ride alone. ALSO, no longer am I allowing him to be turned out with his friend, at least until he understands that ring time is my time, pasture time can be Ryker's time.
Our second ride yesterday was phenomenal and he didn't even hint at any of the naughty behavior he displayed just a few hours before (enter giant sigh of relief here..) I am still on the right track with him and can continue to progress, just not with any buddies!!!
Today we did gymastics...see the video below :)
Such a superstar. He was a little bit heavy on landing (I don't think he will end up being the most scopey horse in the world) but all around a good, solid citizen. I'm awfully proud!
Our plan for the rest of the week will be to do my favorite little exercise, a crossrail with a takeoff and landing rail and just trot back and forth to see if we can maybe lighten the heap on landing and get a little more coordinated at takeoff.
The jump course will be set on Friday and I think that Pogo will be more than ready to attempt some gates and small flower boxes...
I know it has been awhile since my last post, my apologies!!!
On an exciting note, it's Pogo's birthday, he is officially 4!
Other than that it has been a rather uneventful week, mainly working on ground poles as bounces and one strides to prepare for grid work later this week. Our goal is quickly approaching (schooling the course) as that should be set on Friday, and who knows how it will pan out, but I am keeping my fingers crossed and staying optimistic for a good day.
I have been a bit busy with work and then playing catch up with the rest of my life, so Pogo has enjoyed a weekend off, but will quickly resume to work tomorrow (if I can fend of this cold that is seeming to creep up on me!!) Hopefully there will be many great pictures and videos to come but for now, no one is missing much of anything!!
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!!)