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!!
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!!
I am midweek in my first week of classes, and "surprise" all of them are that the barn so I can further my knowledge of the horse industry. I am enrolled currently in Western 4, and first thing we were watching a training video by Craig Johnson, "let it rein" or something to that effect. I am always willing to learn more, and am rather open minded to all training methods. All horses are different, sure they all have four legs, two eyes, cute, disproportionately small faces in comparison to their body, freakishly small feet for the mass of everything, BUT somehow, not every horse can go well in a snaffle, and not every horse will need a mikmar, running martingale, breastplate, etc. So, I do feel that it is important to take in everything you can because you never know when that horse will come you and your methods don't work. IF there was only one way of doing things, there wouldn't be so many successful trainers out there with a strong and supportive clientele base.
Anyway, back on topic - a lot of what Mr. Johnson had to say was great. Lines such as "move the feet, move the horse" so simple yet, why didn't everyone come up with that? And although he is a reiner, his methods too can be used on any horse. SO this morning Pogo was learning a bit about yielding to leg pressure and magically similar exercises arose - the "imaginary roundpen" and getting the haunches to swing out and away from the leg. All very helpful things. We were also starting to work a bit on accepting contact, which is a bit different from english to western, EXCEPT that ideally the outside rein should turn the horse in english, ie: neck reining.
Anyway, I wanted to share Pogo's success in starting to yield to leg aids and learn about what that big piece 'o rubber is sticking in his mouth AND make my instructor/coach/fearless leader proud (note to Kristen: however notice I did NOT use the term "disengage the hind end" I just can't do it, but that's what we were working on)
Today was yet another big day for Pogo - We attempted the trot undersaddle, and it was a huge success.
Back when I was working with my first fresh OTTB (in less than perfect conditions, and I think I was only 16 or 17, no guidance) it was just get on, and be as good of a team as possible. It was in the breeding shed of a breeding farm and eventually when I trusted he wasn't going to kill me we graduated to the 1 acre pasture, 5 acre, etc. Anyway, open space was my friend as it was the only thing I could think of to get this horse to move on and accept leg. My thought process was: the horse knows how to run, give him the opportunity he will figure it out. We actually never even got to a gallop stage (much less a canter) and to this day this horse was the QUIETEST horse I have ever dealt with ..Since then (and that long struggle with getting all four feet moving) I have learned A LOT about groundwork and how it makes life so much EASIER.
Now with Pogo, we do the whoa and go exercises from the ground. I make what I am asking clear, not confusing and accept the one answer: cluck once, maybe twice = forward moving feet, not sideways, not backwards only forwards. Troubleshoot: one cluck isn't clear = I do once louder, and then resort to making a noise such as tapping my leg with the excess lunge line, usually that is enough. "Whoa" in a clear tone is all four feet stop moving. A more subtle "whoooooaaa" or "eaasssyyy" I use for transitioning gaits. Once I carry this over to a lunge line, I will use for upwards a cluck and "walk on" or "trot on" or later "Caaanter"
Now reasons for today's success: Pogo is confident on the ground, however with an english rider with longer legs on his back (as opposed to his jockey), this is all foreign domain. I am first able to ensure he remains relaxed, just by taking it slow and being encouraging but also by carrying the voice commands over to riding and associating them with the leg and seat, gradually allowing him to accept the aids. For now, he whoa's just off the voice, a very good trait!!
Looking back and comparing the length of time I accomplish a trot under saddle between the first horse and Pogo, I would say it happened in the same amount of time, if not faster with Pogo. I wouldn't be surprised if the first horse described was confused, slightly frustrated but Pogo definitely was not and although tentative as it was somewhat new, he was confident in what was being asked.
Yay for a successful ride!! Looking forward to many more to come from our brave, quiet and level-headed little dude!