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....
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 :)