Canter & Candor

Canter and Candor; an honest account of an amateur equestrian and her life with an OTTB


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Asking More in Baby Horsedom

This last weekend, C and I did a little at-home schooling show, which I’ll do a recap for once the media comes through! For now, a little discussion– I’d love to hear some other opinions here, because it took me a while to realize this for myself.

Every once in a while N does a training ride on C, and I usually either watch or ask for a text recap so I know sort of what’s going on. I missed the latest one, and the summary I got was: “He was a little confused as to why I was asking him to get round, because mom doesn’t make him work that hard ;)”

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CUTE THINGS SHOULDN’T HAVE TO WORK

Okay.

Fair enough.

Immediately following that was the schooling show and our first dressage test since the UC Davis Derby back in November. It wasn’t disastrous– we got all our leads, and I didn’t forget the test– but it was just… meh. C took some contact, sometimes, and other times was above the bit. Sometimes we got bend, and other times we were straight as a rod. Sometimes we got round-ish and sometimes we were flat.

And when we exited the ring, N was like, “You need to be asking more of him. He’s ready.”

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Honestly, look at him… this horse is healthy enough to be doing more, too.

But he didn’t buck! I thought. He didn’t leave the ring! And nice as it may be that those things didn’t happen, those aren’t acceptable standards for him any more. Sure, he’s still a baby, but he should be further along than he was five months ago. Our standards shouldn’t be we stayed in the arena!  any more; they need to head towards we maintained steady contact! or he wasn’t above the bit!

As N put it, we have the forward energy. We have acceptance of contact. We just need to put those things together and get him working rounder, using his hind end more, getting steady instead of fussy. It’s been hard for me to wrap my mind around not babying him quite as much, but I know she’s right– during my ride today, he was shocked when I asked for bend and for him to use his back. We had an argument, and I won (though my arms are sore, and probably will be moreso tomorrow) and suddenly his back felt an inch taller, and I could feel his inside hind coming under his body instead of trailing behind us as he dragged himself along.

By the end of the ride both of us were puffing and sweating and while 90 percent of it was a “discussion” (C: I DON’T WANT TO WORK HARD. M: Get on your ass!) the end results were incredible. He was using his body like he was supposed to.

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C: “0/10 would not use body again”

I know he’s a baby, and obviously I’m not going to go out and jump 3′ with him. But it’s definitely time to step things up, and that doesn’t just mean him, it means I need to step up too.

My body is so not ready.

— M

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Cross Country Schooling 4/10

A quick apology to everyone that I kind of dropped the ball with blog posts for a month in there, mainly because I’m still adjusting to my new jobs and C has insisted on throwing all his shoes at different times, so I only really got to ride a little bit in that month.

After we got the second shoe he’d thrown that week back on, I decided that I’d seize the opportunity to take him cross country schooling at Fresno Horse Park, the facility we were intended to show at first this season. N doesn’t do many intro-friendly events, so I was really hoping to get out there at the end of April, but unfortunately– as with horses– things didn’t really pan out that way.

C was amazing over the jumps. Cleared them by miles, (mostly) listened to half-halts, and didn’t do too much funny business on the other side. It was pretty much everything in between that made N and I decide he’s not ready for his first event. He couldn’t handle the trains and couldn’t relax at all. We had a lot of baby antics, and probably spent more time off the ground than on it, even when we weren’t supposed to be jumping! The first day wasn’t so bad until the train came by, but I managed to get his brain back after that. The second day, the train came by and I never got him to relax again until he set eyes on a jump. The one thing I can say is, holy moly, this horse loves jumping. N calls showjumping and cross country his “playgrounds”, and he’ll jump anything I put him in front of without stops or run-outs or even a lot of questions, as long as I keep supporting with my leg and assertive with the rest of me.

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demon train tracks in the background

Which is seriously a blessing, because the “everything in between” problem can be fixed with experience and time– a “not jumping” problem would be a lot more difficult. Of course, I’m a little disappointed we won’t be able to show until fall now, but I’m going to put my money towards more schoolings so this kind of thing becomes routine for him and he doesn’t need to lose his mind to cope with it! The current plan is to school, school, school intro and start bleeding in a little BN over the summer, and if all goes smoothly then start showing in fall, but at BN, not Intro. Anyway, it’s the vaguest of plans, because if this weekend taught me anything (aside from how to not die on a leaping baby horse) it’s that things never go quite according to plan.

Still, though, definitely not all bad, and I can see definite improvements in my position, though I think my arms still need work for that auto release. We’re getting there!

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intro log stack

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never mind the slight lean, look at pony go!

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fancy kid

I’ll have some video to throw into a post in the near future, but for now the pics will have to do!

Again, sorry for falling off the planet for a while there. C&C is back. 🙂

— M