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 :)