Ok, not only did I get last weeks video up and rolling, I got two more from today complete with some nice photos too!!!

Last week - Faux-ssage

From this morning..

So today we were stuck inside as most of the classes went outside...which is stinky but it means that I was in a way forced to jump as the jumps are inside not out, so I had ample opportunity.

My plan was to back to trotting fences and get him putting in that extra trot step that we were lacking the previous time we jumped and get better and straighter with that. I would then transition to cantering fences if he was showing the will. I also had set 2 poles 5 strides apart for our canter work so we could work on evetually transitioning to cantering lines. 

Well I stuck to the plan and Pogo's flatwork was great as it has been normally. I think I forgot to mention that I tried him in a happy mouth dee and I love it so we're keeping it for now. To the right is his "bad" lead -I think its weaker and he is still figuring out travelling in that direction, but it's still a quality gait. We were consistently getting 4 in our 5, BUT he was staying through, connected and rhythmical so I think its due to the weakness there (alas, something to improve upon! noone is perfect!). To the right we were able to get the 5 consistently and in the same balanced, connected fashion. 

We transitioned to trotting the fences and Pogo was awesome. Bold as ever, in our walk break inbetween trotting and cantering he walked right up to the base of the crossrail and went to walk over it. I think he knows and loves his new job. He gave me some good efforts, putting in that extra trot step, he had morphed from the last time we jumped - I was beginning to wonder if he was ever really getting what we were doing before, and today he was trotting fences like my more schooled horses do!  Landing in a rhythmical canter in our second or third time over the fence I continued on to canter it. At first he was a little close to it, but jumped clean, second time he was very long but still clean then a perfect distance. 

We changed direction and jumped a little verticle set about 6-7 strides in a line away the same way (trotted once or twice, canter once). I don't like jumping INTO a line and turning a green horse out. They are wiggly to begin with and I don't ever want to encourage an "out" when going into a line. If horses don't learn about an "out" or don't learn to stop at a fence, generally, the thought then won't ever cross their mind. On occasion comments are made that I don't just float the rein and let my green horses "go" and some might like to see a bit more freedom (I'm not hanging on them, simply being supportive on both reins to encourage the straightness). BUT my theory is that just one run out can create a whole slew of problems and YES ideally all control should be from the leg, BUT Pogo is 4 and off the track, he has only had legs this far down on his sides since January, he may not always know or relate "leg" to steering with a distraction (ie. a jump) in front of them. ok. end of rant.

Anyway we did the verticle, which he rubbed despite the perfect distance but only one side came down so I took that as a sign that maybe we should try and canter the whole line, so we came around, broke down to trot, jumped the x and cantered down in a wiggly 7. Lightbulb. We tried again only to get straighter and more consistent down the line and finish with an auto change when we landed wrong. This little guy has some talent, and let me tell you he LOVES LOVES LOVES his job.

I am tempted to do more of this but I think we really need to think gymnastics and introducing small oxers to his program, and once that hurdle has been cleared, go back to trotting in and cantering out, including small oxers and SOOON! cantering in and cantering out. 

We finally have an unders

Riding outside is doing Pogo a world of good! Today we had a phenomenally magnificent ride, I could not have been more pleased.

He is understanding the concept of accepting the bit and stretching onto the contact. The outdoor ring has helped immensely as I can push him forward onto the contact without hitting a wall. He is willingly moving out, relaxing his back, swinging through his body and falling into a gorgeous frame. He is even doing this at the canter, which is getting very round, lovely, flowing and even more tempoed and cadenced.

Yesterday we attempted cantering a small fence, which we were successful with but we need to work on polishing it a bit and working to make the canter more adjustable to make it a more successful effort. After today this won't be a problem. I anticipate trying more canter fences tomorrow or later in the week after we can do some more work at the canter. I am very very pleased with the progress we have made in the last week.

We don't normally ride on Sundays but today was an exception: the sun was shining, footing in the outdoor was perfect and well it was just an overall good day to ride. 

As I have been posting about, we have been working on making a connection...Today I think was Pogo's Ah-Ha moment - He usually starts good at the walk and likes to connect and then when you transition up, as would be expected (at least I think) he looses the connection and takes a bit to re-establish. The same has been true for downwards as well. 

My own opinion, I am not sure if I heard it elsewhere or if it's just from my own experience is that your transitions cannot be great unless your gaits are just as great. You can't expect a good trot to canter if you have an "ok" trot and an unbalanced canter - In my mind, I just don't see greatness in that transition from one to the other if neither are of quality.

Anyway, it took a little while to establish the connection from walk to trot (even though our walk work was superb). I think there was a lot going on with a horseshow inside and it being only our second time outside, so I'll give him that. He slowly sorted it all out and gave me some fantastic trot work, including some leg yields to and from the rail. He is really getting very accepting of the leg and understanding the different cues between forward, balance and sideways. 

The canter has always been a bit wishy washy for our connection establishment. He loves to just be left alone, and honestly, he could probably get away with it. He is mostly balanced, comfortable with himself in the gait and oozes cadence, he probably has enough to share with the entire barn (the horse doesn't change). BUT I do know that a time will come when I will be on trail or in a line and need that half halt alas, we are working on that still. Oddly enough, his harder direction (to the right) had a great feel and he slowly started stretching down into the contact (golf clap for pogo!). I quit when I got some good work and then ventured left...

The left got a little wonky...but instead of doing my normal "what can I do different to get this to work" I waited...and waited, and waited...approximately three 20m circles and twice around the arena, with some small trot breaks inbetween to re-group, re-balance, etc. Like MAGIC down our last long side, a reach, a pause, a stretch, a pause and then a long frame and connection down most of the long side...AND best of all a BEAUTIFUL downwards transition to trot complete with even more stretch into long and low, for real, with connection onto a circle and continued around like such for cool out,..

I think this was Pogo's "oh, oh HEY! I GET this!" Moment...if it wasn't, well I would love to see what was because that was really cool today...

And to finish, we learned how to open the gate of the arena and went for a stroll around the property to enjoy the nice sunlight and have a change of scenery, which was also really really great 
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 :)
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!!