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! 
In my scrambling to get ready to go back to school, I of course add in the trips to every barn that I am associated with back home to give holiday treats to the ponies and say "hi" and "bye" in a short visit. 

Some friends of mine have horses on the track, and fortunately for all that know them, or have horses with them, they are some of the best track people I know. They not only ensure the proper care of their horses while on the track, but also allow for pasture turnout and some let down every so often to give them a break and do their all to find homes for those who can't make it or who have served their time.  They look out for everyone and every horse that crosses their path, simply really great people. 

They also own the horse named "Smoke King" that I have had the pleasure of working with, and probably for good reasons still own him. He's a tad accident prone (as are so many of our lovely Thoroughbreds) which turned many off despite his talents. In my visit, I was told of the long battles of abscesses and then now a puffy ankle. And even though this horse had served his time with them on the track, he is still, comfy, cosy in a clean stall with banks 3' high on the walls and a foot of bedding on the floor, second cutting hay, happy as a clam.  In this barn is also a horse that the owner just wanted to get rid of, horse being let down, and one they are giving another shot at the track, and ONE that I happened to have raised from a baby at my job. 

Granted, these people are far from being Todd Pletcher just as all of us are far away from being the next Boyd Martin or Beezie Madden, they still take care of their horses to the best of their ability and all are happy and healthy. It's refreshing to see people that reach out and care for their race horses not as if they were some machines that you could just throw out but as living beings. I am not saying that these people are not out there, because they are but it's great to see. 

To our readers: if you know of any great TB people, trainers, owners, etc. feel free to share your story on our comments page!! If you add contact info we can add them to our resources as well. Great, heartwarming stories are what we like to hear and share, so be sure to send them our way!

Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous New Year!!
:::and only a few more days to Pogo's arrival!:::